Love. Peace. Comfort



A quiet and kind man sits in his office and ponders the difference a year can make: not only professionally but also personally. He reads and shakes his head at the news: a presidential contender wants to make a database of Muslims in the United States so they can be tracked. Singling out groups of people based on religion always leads to suffering. He reads how people are afraid that Syrian refugees could be terrorists. He thinks of his family in Syria who are living in a war-torn country and how there’s little he can do for them here in the United States. How they would give the shirt off their back to help someone in need, regardless of the other person’s religion. He has lost family and friends in this war.

He gets up from his chair and walks around the building to clear his mind. He walks past his former boss’s office. He stops to think of the man’s widow. He realizes the holidays can be a difficult time. And just knowing someone is thinking of you can make a difference.

On his way home he stops at a store to buy the widow a Christmas card. It’s a winter-white card with a red velvet cardinal perched on a silver tree. The card has a simple greeting of love, joy, and wonderment for the season.

He brings it to work and quietly asks a coworker to pass it around the department for everyone to offer their wishes. He smiles and heads back to his office.



She stands in her kitchen baking Christmas cookies as she has every year. The kitchen smells of gingerbread. Her Christmas tree is lit and carefully decorated with family ornaments gathered throughout her married life: all 33, almost 34 years. A love-filled marriage and four children. Darlene Love’s “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” is on the radio. Sadly, this song stirs up bittersweet emotions of Christmases past and how Christmas will be different this year.

She puts the cookies in the oven and decides to get some fresh air on this unseasonably warm December day.

After a brisk walk with only the sound of rustling leaves on the ground, she heads to her mailbox. No decorating the mailbox this year. That was always his task, and she doesn’t have the heart to do it.

She collects the mail and flips through the colored envelopes. On this dreary day, a bright red envelope catches her eye. She opens it and reads the many warm wishes of thoughts and peace for her holiday season. She recognizes the names as the coworkers of her late husband. She appreciates their thoughts of her after months of his passing. She is comforted by this small gesture. She smiles and heads back to her kitchen.


One small gesture is all it takes.

One small gesture toward peace, love, and comfort.




The Easy Valentine’s Day Teacher Gift

The boys wanted to give their teachers a little something extra for Valentine’s Day.

I have a feeling that teachers get overwhelmed with chocolate, so we had to come up with another idea.

Our temps are frigid in Michigan right now. And what is better on a icy cold day that a warm cup of soup!

I have seen adorable Mason jars of neatly layered beans and seasonings. Adhered to the jar is an adorable little sign that says something about being “souper.”

I had some empty Mason jars. I almost always have dried beans. Keyword: almost. Yup, I was out.

I ran to the store, and while walking down the soup aisle I noticed some nice bags of soup mix. No artificial ingredients. Perfect!! My job is so much easier.

Do you think I even bothered to put them in jars and make decorative labels?

You are correct. I didn’t.

My children filled out the cards. We added a chocolate covered pretzel that we made earlier. And I tied everything together.



I hope you have a “souper” Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day and Pinterest

I love Pinterest, especially for holiday activities. I have a board named Be My Valentine, on which I have pinned many craft projects (that I’ll never make); elaborate food items, including a homeade heart-shaped cookie box (that I’ll never make); Valentine’s cards that require several hours to make; and elaborate Valentine’s Day card holders that no young child can make on his or her own.

For the past two years I have purchased Valentine’s templates on Etsy to create adorable little Valentines.

A tube of Burt’s Bees lip balm accompanied each of these:


I created these little darlings for preschool. I used Goldfish instead of Swedish fish. Bad move. The grease from Goldfish leaked leaked through Valentine. Ick. I no longer buy Goldfish.


And how can I forget these “cuties!”

All of these are completely adorable; however, my children didn’t pick them out. Nor did I include them in the cutting out of them. Why? Because I wanted them to look perfect. (In hindsight, I realized I had them miss out on an excellent fine motor activity.)

Granted, when they were really small, the didn’t really care about the Valentine card, but toddlers still know what they like. And I could’ve given a choice. So this year, I let my five-year old and three-year old pick out their Valentine’s. Fortunately, they both like trains so that made it easy.

We didn’t see any train Valentine’s at the store so we looked at Amazon. (Oh, I love Amazon Prime!)

Alas, the boys found their Valentine’s, complete with envelopes.


The teacher sent home a class list and I supervised while my oldest wrote out all his Valentine’s…..and decorated each envelope. (I highly suggest spacing this over a period of several days. It would be torture for both parent and child to have them completed in one sitting.)

Next, of course, is the Valentine’s Day card box. Being the Pinterest addict I am, I ventured online to find an adorable box we, ahem, I, could make. My son really wanted to make a train. I brought him a shoe box and a Kleenex box. He went and got an empty toilet paper roll (yes, I keep them.) and started to form his train. I brought out ribbon and scrapbook paper and let him create it himself.

He did it without Pinterest.

He did it without me helping.

He had a wonderful time.

He fished through craft supplies to see what else he could use to create his masterpiece.

And a half hour later, he was finished. And extremely proud of his work.


I would’ve covered the entire box.

I would’ve made sure it was loaded with hearts.

I would’ve not had it be a hybrid electric/steam engine. (Just in case you wondered about the pipe cleaner in back, those are the cables that attach to the wire for an electric train. And the pipe cleaner up front is the steam that would come out of a steam engine.)

I would’ve stolen an opportunity for my son to be creative and take pride in his work.

This year I had an epiphany. My children’s Valentine’s Day party is for them. Not me.

This isn’t my opportunity to say, “look at me!! I’m wonder mommy!”

This was his opportunity to take initiative, be creative, and let his imagination soar.

Not Another Blog Post on Being a Parent to a Child with Special Needs…

Being the parent of a child with special needs, I read a lot of blog posts on what it is like. Everyone has their own opinion, their own feelings, and their own unique situations. I can’t speak for anyone else. But I see lots of comments on how people need to stop being so sensitive, or they are tired of hearing how they should parent. (I do find it ironic when people complain about someone being too sensitive when clearly they are sensitive in being told how to act. But that’s beside the point.) And yet others are wanting to learn more.

So here it goes, another post on what it’s like to be the parent of a child with special needs. And this is just one perspective. My child doesn’t have health issues, or major mobility issues. Mainly, he’s cognitively impaired and has some gross motor and fine motor delays. I’m not going to tell you how to parent. I’m going to provide you answers to potential questions you may have. Also, please feel free to ask me about my life. A favorite quote of mine is “Questions don’t hurt; ignorance does.” (Yes, it is from the Facts of Life.)

Guess what? I don’t think of myself as much different than my friends with children who don’t have special needs. I really don’t. Yes, I have a few more activities in my schedule that make it hectic. But I know other people who have their neurotypical child enrolled in a host of activities and they run around like chickens with their heads cut off. Until my son was in preschool, I was taking him to physical therapy and Early Intervention twice a week. I didn’t complain. I did it. Sure there were crazy days. Days when it seems like it would’ve been better to stay in bed. Everybody has those. Every parent has those.

Am I offended when you ask me questions like, “did you know your child had Down syndrome before he was born?” or “how high functioning is he?” The answer: Of course not. You’re showing interest in our life, our situation. You’re wanting to learn more. It’s an opportunity for me to advocate and educate, not get offended. So don’t worry whether you’ve phrased the question correctly or used the right words. I’m thankful you’re wanting to learn more. I’m grateful for your open mind.

Do I dislike the use of the word retard when used as slander? Yes. It’s saying that those with a cognitive impairment are less human than those without. I also dislike the word gay being used in that manner. And I don’t like the words nigger, Wop, Spick, towel head, camel jockey, kike, etc. I don’t let my kids call people names. And if you use them around me, I’ll politely correct you.

Do I think you should praise your kid for playing with a child with a disability? I don’t care. You’re teaching your child tolerance and to not discriminate. You’re doing a good job. Keep it up. If you told your child to walk away and ignore the child based on cognitive level or physical disability, well, that’s your prerogative too. Not one I would agree with, and quite frankly, you’re teaching intolerance and you might want to reflect on that. But I can’t make you do it. I can simply ask you to put yourself in that person’s shoes.

Is it OK to ask me how he’s doing and what his teacher says about his development? Yes. Please do. Again, it shows you care. It’s an opportunity for me to share what I’ve learned.

Is it OK for you to tell me the accomplishments of your child, even if our children are the same age and yours is doing much more? Yes! I’m happy for you. I’m not comparing my child to yours. Yes, I may wish my child could do those things, but I have to stop and reflect on what all my child has done and is doing, and I get my perspective back. If we are friends, please share your highs and lows with me. Just like you would any parent. My feelings are exactly that. Mine. I decide how to feel. And I want to share in your happiness.

In other words, I’m a parent. Like you. We all have different challenges. Some challenges are bigger than others. I can’t speak for other people. Just me. But if you know me and have wondered these questions, please know that I’m happy you are on this journey with me. It’s not a journey I expected to take. But I can honestly say I feel blessed to be on it.

Let me share my blessing with you.

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50 Shades of Anything But Romantic

So I’ve had no desire to read 50 Shades of Grey. The story line doesn’t interest me as I’m not into romance novels. (And I’m by no means a literary snob. I enjoy frivolous novels.) But from what I’ve heard, it doesn’t even sound romantic. I think a man insisting a woman sign a contract to date (or be his sexual partner, slave…whatever) is far from romantic. Guess I have old-fashioned ideas about romance.

Anyway, due to the hype I decided to read a sample of the first 29 pages of the book. Contrary to popular opinion, I wasn’t even the least bit intrigued. Yes, it reminded me of Twilight. And yes, I read them all. I blame it on my hormones as I was seven months pregnant. Let’s face it,  Edward is a stalker. Stalkers are creepy.

But reading the sample pages gave me some idea if I was being too harsh in my criticism. As I read those pages, I noted that Anastasia kept referring to Christian’s long index finger. I think there must have between three and five references in 29 pages to his index finger. (I already deleted the sample from Nook and was unable to count the exact number.) A bit much for 29 pages. And I could see where Christian might start to covet Anastasia.

After the second reference to the index finger, one particular image popped into my head:


Yup. Gollum.

Gollum had abnormally long fingers.

Gollum coveted the ring. {Insert “my precious” in that gravelly, tortured voice.}  Kind of like the way it appeared Christian was going to covet Anastasia.

So I hate to even the mention the work of Tolkien, who is an amazing writer and storyteller, in the same paragraph as E.L. James, but this was my first thought.

And I am by no means comparing the two authors. One is a phenomenal writer. The other, not so much.

So there’s my two cents on 50 Shades of Grey. Is it unfair to critique a book without reading it in its entirety? Absolutely. Do I care? No.

I’m not a book critic. Just a person with a blog.