Trusty rain boots

For the past few days, everyone in Manhattan has been walking around in rain boots. My trusty pair, above, are these Loeffler Randall booties. The great thing about Loeffler Randall boots is that they look like cool shoes, not clunky rainboots, so you can wear them to work or dinner. And they're small enough to take on trips. I'd highly recommend them. xoxo
P.S. These tall boots are also super cute.

Smitten Kitchen cookbook

Smitten Kitchen, the warm and wonderful food blog, just came out with a cookbook! Deb Perelman cooks fearlessly in her tiny kitchen in New York City and creates delicious and approachable recipes. (She's a firm believer that "there are no bad cooks, just bad recipes.") The book has 105 recipes (almost all are brand new), funny personal stories and a lay-flat binding so the cookbook will stay open on your kitchen counter.

Bravo, Deb! Cannot wait to get my hands on it. I have a feeling that it'll be one of those beloved cookbooks we'll not only use in the kitchen but also read in bed before falling asleep:)

P.S. Her lazy egg sandwich...

(Photos by Smitten Kitchen)

A Special Fun Friday-Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween!  We are doing things a little different today.  I wanted to give you all a chance to show off your fun Halloween creations.  Although Halloween can be a bit controversial for some Christians, we have always chosen to participate by dressing up and trick or treating.  We keep our costumes cute (nothing scary) and never talk about the other connotations that Halloween may have.  My children don't need to know about all those yucky thoughts and images.  To us, its just a fun time to dress up with friends.

Our church has a wonderful festival every year and the kiddos look so forward to it.  It is always held the Wednesday before Halloween, so most years we just spend the evening with our friends.  In years past I have made a big pot of chili and then we have met our friends for a little trick or treating in our neighborhood.  There is usually a trip to the grand and great parents' homes and sometimes a few other stops along the way.  But mainly we just hang around our 'hood and let the kids play.

This year our church festival is tonight, so our Halloween activities will primarily be focused around Fall Festival.  If you don't have something special to do, I invite you to come check it out.  You can visit our website for more information. (First Baptist Church, Covington)

I don't have a lot of pictures to post yet, as we are stuck in the hospital room.  I will post pictures of Cat Woman and my baby chicken later this evening.  For now, here is a picture of the world's cutest octopus!

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The Best Pumpkin Crème Brûlée You'll Ever Have

Happy Halloween! I have a treat for you today. Have you ever made creme brûlée? My mom recently had the great idea to serve the rich custard at dinner parties and then pass around a little torch so everyone can burn the hard caramel on top of their dish. It's a spectacle! Both grown-ups and kids adore it. Well, lucky for us, Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers has agreed to share her pumpkin-flavored recipe...
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A Lesson Learned Today

Procrastinate: : to put off intentionally and habitually

Proverbs 15:19

The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns,
but the path of the upright is a highway.

One might think I would have learned by now not to do it.  Procrastinate, that is.  With our life in a constant state of unknown, it makes sense that I would never put off for tomorrow what could be done today.  For example, Lucy's Halloween costume.  She wanted to be an octopus last year and I convinced her to be the Cat in the Hat.  I reasoned with her that since she couldn't walk on the 2 feet God gave her she probably didn't need to try to walk with 8!  But that memory I have worried about this year didn't fail her this time.  She promptly reminded me that I told her she could be an octopus this year as soon as the topic was discussed. 

(I'll be posting lots of pics of Lucy in her costume tomorrow)

After an exhausting search for octopus costumes, the cheapest I could come up with was $89.  Since that was clearly ridiculous, I set out to make one of my own.  It was so much fun being back in front of the sewing machine.  Admittedly, I was very unconvinced about the outcome while I was working.  With the project finished--thanks to the help of my mom--I am very pleased with the final project.  The point I'm trying to make though is that I waited and waited to start on it until the Saturday before Halloween.  My plan was to finish it Sunday after church, but...well, we all know what happened next.  A huge thank you to Nanny for jumping in to put the finishing touches on the 8 legs.  

Erik sent me these pictures tonight.

It broke my heart that because of my mad procrastination skills Lucy didn't get to carve a pumpkin this year.  We had talked about it all last week and even planned on doing it Friday night and then Saturday afternoon.  Seriously!  What's wrong with me?  Ugh!  Now I'll spend the next week trying to recreated all the fun Halloween events that Lucy missed out on.  

Tomorrow she will spend another Halloween in the hospital.  Last year we spent the day at St. Jude (outpatient at least) but this year she will be stuck in her room in isolation.  The nurses will come around and deliver candy and treats, but it's just not the same.  I'm going to let her dress up and hopefully we can try to make the most of a bad situation.  Lucy's blood and stool cultures came back today and they weren't wonderful.  Not bad, just not great.  She has c-diff (again!) and it has somehow crossed over into her blood stream.  In the words of the resident this morning "this is very uncommon."  I had to hold back a full belly laugh as I explained to her that "uncommon" was what Lucy did best.  

Lucy is being treated with the big gun, Vancomycin, and will stay here for a few days until her tummy heals.  She has to be able to eat and drink again before they will send us home.  Unfortunately, children with weakened immune systems can be greatly harmed by c-diff (think last December before Lucy had to get a feeding tube) and it is very contagious.  So....isolation it is for us.  Like I've said before, this isn't cancer.  We can handle this.  Even still, I can't help but to ask. 

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Four-strand braid

On a much lighter note, I'm excited to share another hair tutorial today...
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Downtown Manhattan

Last night, after the power went out, this was the view from our window in downtown Manhattan. Eerie! You can barely see the buildings against the sky. The other odd thing is that our neighborhood was silent. Normally our street is very busy, and we can always hear cars driving by, honking, people chatting—all the normal sounds of a big city. But last night, it felt like we were sleeping in the middle of the woods; totally silent. How are you guys doing today? Sending our thoughts to you and your loved ones. xoxo

Another Day Here

Well, we are wrapping up another night on the 7th floor. Thankfully everything major has been ruled out. Head CT looked good, CSF was clear, and nothing has come back from blood cultures to be of concern. Lucy probably was just the recipient of a yucky stomach bug and she's just had a little harder time fighting it than most. She is receiving lots of fluids and an antibiotic through her IV.

My sweat husband brought my computer down tonight and I planned on spending some time on it after Lucy went to bed. I was going to go through pictures of our summer trips that I haven't even blogged about and then I wanted to spend some time writing on the blog in general. So here I am, computer ready, brain in gear and the computer network is down at the hospital. Oh well. Maybe this is Gods way of making me take advantage of this chance to sleep.

I am praying we go home tomorrow but I worry that is a bit optimistic. Until Lucy can keep anything on her stomach, she will have to be here with fluids. To be honest, as sick as her tummy is right now I don't even want to take her home. I just know that she will be so upset if she misses Trick or Treating and our church's Fall Fest. I can't recreate the church event, but neighbors listen up! Lori, Mrs. Sharon, Mrs. Smith, everyone in the hood....we may be trick or treating later this week. Don't get rid of your candy and decorations too soon!
Lucy with Aunt Tracy and our new friend from the 7th floor

In all seriousness, I know Lucy is where she needs to be. We will stay as long as they deem necessary. Today I was glad I was here. I met and visited with an amazing family whose 4 year old, blond hair beauty just had surgery to remove a large brain tumor. I'm not sure what their future holds as far as a treatment plan, but I do know that their angel was given a great start for fighting this past week. I feel honored to have met them and I'm grateful our paths crossed.

The mom told me today that she had read my blog right after Lu was diagnosed. She said she remembered thinking "I can't imagine ever walking in her shoes." She never, in a million years, thought she would be here today. That's how life works though.  I believe that God uses our whole lives to ready us for big events so that when we are confronted with the task, we are prepared to handle it.  Maybe not for everyone in every situation, but I feel that's what He did for me.  I told the dad tonight that 1 week or 1 month or 1 year down the road he would look back on things and realize that God had been working in their lives to prepare them for this journey.  Even now, I can look back on the past 15 years and see that my life has played out like an unbelievable story.  So many circumstances and situations have played a part in readying us for this stage in our life.  Even today, I feel as if this family and my paths crossed for a very specific reason.  I just hope I was able to offer even a tiny bit of encouragement or support.

I'll never understand cancer and I'll really never understand why it happens to children.  People often say that when you get to heaven all those questions you had for God would be forgotten.  After the hell on earth that I have lived, I'm not sure I believe that.  I'm pretty sure I'll at least have to ask "Why children?"  I'm thankful there is a heaven and I'm thankful my spot is secured.  Questions or no questions, I know that this world is temporary and there IS something better.

Monday giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from SoYoung, a small company (owned by a mom) that makes amazing diaper bags and kids backpacks. (How cute are their lunch boxes?) Today they're letting TWO lucky winners each choose a favorite toddler backpack or kid backpack, which feature the sweetest illustrations, including robots, giraffes and scooters.

On a personal note: When Toby was nervous to start summer school, his own fun backpack actually got him excited to head out the door; and now he takes it to friends' houses and on trips, as well.

For a chance to win, please visit SoYoung and leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck! Update: Our two winners have been emailed. Thanks for playing.

Motherhood Mondays: 20 surprising parenting tips

Hope everyone is staying safe and dry! Over the past few years, I've heard some amazing (and surprising) parenting tips from friends that I've found really valuable, so I'd love to share them here (and hear yours!)...
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Snuggle Time

Sometimes one of the blessings that comes from being in the hospital is the one on one time that Erik and I get with Lucy. Today and tonight was all about snuggle time. Her hospital bed is just big enough for the both of us. Purple fingernail polish and lots of Disney Channel is just what the doctor ordered!

Sunday Morning Blues

Another Sunday morning in the ER. Don't know what it is about the day of rest for us. Initial CT results are good. Still trying to get to the source of the problem. We would appreciate your prayers.

The saddle

Back in the saddle again!

Have a great weekend.

What are you up to this weekend? Alex's birthday is TODAY (whoot whoot!), so Toby and I took him out to a yummy breakfast, and late tonight we're driving to Maryland to visit our cousins. We're all crashing at their house, so I see some sleeping bags in our future! Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and here are a few great links from around the web...

A song for your weekend.

Art-inspired wedding cakes.

What a gorgeous nursery!!!

Sneak peek at Mad Men.

Survival dinner.

Holiday glitter.

Famous NYC apartments.

Are you smart enough for gifted kindergarten?

Beautiful print for charity.

No more snacking in Rome!

What pretty blue glasses.

How to blow up photos.

LOVE these children's clothes.

And I had an idea: If you'd like, post your photos of eating something new to my Facebook page and I'll feature a bunch on the blog next week. Would be fun to see everyone in action! Thank you so much, and have a great weekend! xoxo

Pumpkin carving

Toby goes to his friend's house every Monday, and recently they carved pumpkins. They scooped out the seeds and guts and helped hold the knife very carefully while the pumpkin was carved. But then suddenly Toby realized it looked like a face and shook his head and said, "Wee-odd" (=weird). Oh, Toby, I love you, you little nut!

Fun Friday--Make Up Session (craft)

Ok, so we are going to do this Fun Friday a little different this week.  Since I missed last week (and I really want to find out about your mad craft skills) I am going to play catch up with that topic today.  And then next Wednesday we will discuss Halloween.  I figured that was fitting since it is, well, Halloween. you craft?  I do.  Well, I mean, I used to.  I am a crafter at heart and I love the feeling of completing a project.  My real "talent" is sewing.  Before Ella was born my mom taught me a few things on her sewing machine and I just took it from there.  Before long I was reading intricate patterns and creating pretty neat things, if I must say so myself.  Who knew??  For about 4 years I sewed for my children, I sewed for the public, I sewed for friends.  I made outfits, draperies, pillows.  I love sewing.  Unfortunately, its not something I get to do now.  I have a very nice sewing machine that has an embroidery arm, so I used to monogram everything my girls wore.  Hopefully, maybe one day soon, I'll be able to start sewing again.

I also smock.  I even taught a small class once on the basics of smoking.  This isn't the best picture, but its the only one I could find.
Lucy, age 3--looks just like Jack!
I also love to do projects with my children.  We did these pots for the grandparents a few years ago.

If you follow me on Pinterest, you will see that I pin a lot of craft projects.  I know I don't have time for it right now, but that's the beauty of Pinterest.  If I find something I like and pin it, it will be there when I am ready.  You can follow me here if you want to!  I think that, whether you are a Martha Stewart or a Kate Krull, you can find delight in finishing a project that you created with your own hands.  Another thing I have found is that my girls think that it is so cool when I do things for them or their class instead of buying it.  Whether it's cupcakes or ornaments, they are so proud of their mom.  That, my friend, is the best feeling in the world!

What do you do?  I'd love to know (and see.)  Happy Friday!

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Fall Challenge #3

The third weekly fall challenge is to eat something you've never tried before. For example...
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Fall Challenge #2: Memorize a poem (how'd you do?)

Last week, I suggested memorizing a poem, and you guys were so into it! I was thrilled. How did you do? Here's my recap....
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The Loneliest Planet

The Loneliest Planet is a new movie featuring an engaged couple—played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg—backpacking through Georgia's Caucasus Mountains. The synopsis: "The couple hires a local guide...Walking for hours, they trade anecdotes, play games to pass the time of moving through space. And then, a momentary misstep, a gesture that takes only two or three seconds, a gesture that’s over almost as soon as it begins...Once it is done, it threatens to undo everything the couple believed about each other and about themselves."

Fascinating, right? Will you see it? It's the first movie I've been really excited about for ages; it opens tomorrow and will be on demand on October 30th.

(Via MUG)

Something Wicked This Way Comes

The front door has been decorated so we are officially ready for Halloween!  Something wicked this way comes, for sure.  Glittery spiders can be wicked, right?

The last two mornings I have spent with my baby boy.  Just me and him.  Lots of kisses have been shared and giggles could probably be heard at the neighbor's house.  I love this little gift from Heaven.  Snuggling in Mommy's bed and breakfast in big boy pants!

I have just one question though.  Is it too early for this...

It drives Erik crazy, but Christmas could never come soon enough for me!  That's right.  Decorating for Halloween while listening to Bing.  It's only a matter of weeks before the trees start to do up.

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Dentist and a Little Fear

It's wasn't so much fear of the dentist that almost ruined my day, but rather the vomiting and headache that Lucy had yesterday morning. It's the worse phone call in the world. She bounced back after about an hour or two and we are blaming some yucky sinuses for it. At least that's what we are praying.Today Lucy is great and has had a very busy day.

A little fear to remind you what's important in life! All this on the morning that two Child Life Specialists and Lucy's psychologist came to our school. They gave a wonderful, age appropriate presentation to the kindergarten and first grade classes about brain tumors. I was so glad to have them here and I am so very thankful that St. Jude provides this resource. One more reason St. Jude rocks!!

We did keep our appointment with the dentist yesterday. No cavities for either, which considering all that Lucy has been through, is a miracle in itself. Once again, our God (through Lucy) defying the odds!

Wednesday giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from Terrain, the beautiful home and garden lifestyle shop based in Pennsylvania. Their store is all about simple pleasures, from decorating to cooking to gardening—plus, they have a fabulous holiday collection. They're an amazing source for gifts and entertaining. Today, Terrain is offering one lucky reader a whopping $250 gift certificate. What would you pick? (I'd go for this chalkboard map!)

For a chance to win, please visit Terrain and leave a comment telling us your favorite things from the store. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck! Update: Sandy Y. is our lucky winner.

Bonus for all readers: Get 15% off and free shipping with the code CUPOFJO through October 31st.