Tag: Holidays

The Best Christmas Gift Ever

Anela Pink TreeAnela, Christmas 2009, by her new pink tree

Gift from Anela

This Christmas I was surprised with the BEST Christmas gift ever, from my adorable grand-daughter, Anela.  Anela is four-years-old.  She calls me ‘Grandma Angel’.  She got me an ‘Angel’ stocking, a small bread pan with a candy cane, a Mr. Goodbar, Smarties, and a Starburst inside, and a sweet necklace with an angel charm, which I am wearing now.  The randomness is darling.

Mark went to Utah to visit the kids without me this time.  The night he returned, I came to bed to find this stocking full of goodies on my pillow.  I knew he did stockings for his kids while he was there, and so I assumed it was from him – thinking it was so sweet of him to have a stocking for me, too.  I hugged and thanked him before proceeding to look through it, when he chuckled and said, “it’s not from me.”

When he told me that it was from Anela, my eyes filled with tears.  It is so good to be loved by her.  As much as I love Mark’s kids, being a step-parent has its challenges since there was no bonding when the children were young.  With the grandkids, I’ve gotten to experience them as babes, and they know me and love me as grandma.  Loving them helps with the void in my soul from not having my own children.

Anela CheeringAnela, cheering on Real Salt Lake

This little girl has got so much personality and spirit in her little body.  She brightens my heart, and lights up a room.  She’s fun, playful, and passionate, just like her mama, who I also adore.

Anela Tiana, a real PrincessBeautiful Anela, dressed up for Halloween

Little did Christina know, when she named her daughter, that it would be the Hawaiin version of Angela, her soon to be step-mom.  I love it.  Anela’s middle name is Tiana – Hawaiin for ‘princess’.  How apropos.

I love this girl.

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Blessing Boxeshipstamatic photo: Blessing Boxes

A blessing box is simple and sweet, and well, a blessing to those who receive them… secretly.  My niece and nephews and I had a little pizza and blessing box making party just before Christmas.  After hours of painting, stuffing, and ribboning, we made the rounds to some houses in their neighborhood after dark, and anonymously left these little blessings for people to find on their porch!  It was a fun way to get the kids in a giving mode, when so much of Christmas for kids is all about receiving.  The thought of running around after dark, being secret agents, has its allure with kids (and adults, alike).  This idea came from a blog I read regularly, Kindness Girl.

Blessing Box Stuffing

The insides are stuffed with fun little sayings, or blessings, like: ‘Embrace Your Life’s Passion’, ‘God loves you’, ‘Your Trials Are Blessings in Disguise’, etc.  My Sunday School students helped me make and cut out all of the sayings.  Then we topped them with a piece of candy.  I’d like to believe that all the blessings find their way to the right person.

My Niece and Nephews

Of course the kids took breaks to do what they love to do most when they come to my office… :-)  They are all imaginative and artistic.

Enzo's Wish For Peace

My nephew Enzo (the one in the middle of the picture of them drawing) asked for ‘Peace’ on his Christmas list.  He’s eight.  His heart is as big as the sky.  When asked about it, he said he wished that no one would have to get picked on.  He is a peacemaker, usually thinking of others, even when they are unkind to him; and usually taking the high road.

Secret Mission

Jen Lemon put a call out on her blog for some secret agents in a covert kindness operation on behalf of someone she knew who was in need of some serious encouragement.  Tons of people mailed Jen with a line of encouragement.  Something we knew to be true.  Something we’ve gained from our own trials.  I wrote and told her that “our trials give us the opportunity to become our BEST selves.”  I do *know* this.  She put all the lines of encouragement in a glass jar, and secretly gave it to the woman in need.

I also know that when we give to others, we lift our own spirit in the process.  It’s a sure way to pull ourselves up out of our own despair, if even for just awhile, until the next time.  I’ve learned to take life only serious enough to realize that it is our temporary school, to learn about ourselves, serve others, and stretch and grow.  We graduate this school life when our physical bodies die, and our spirits’ live and move in other realms.  I believe we take our knowledge and experience with us.  It seems easier to face our trials when we know that without them, we can’t become better.  And it sure is rewarding and fun to encourage others along the way.

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Christmas Ornament Swap!

Christmas Ornament Love

Every year for the last 10, I’ve made Christmas ornaments for my nieces, nephews, and now grandkids (did you know that I’m a 34-year-old grandma?  yes, yes I am.  one of the perks of marrying a man with grown kids!).  This year I stumbled upon a blogger’s ornament exchange.  I was psyched when I read about it, and of course signed up.  The lovely Louise Gale organized it.

The instructions were to make four ornaments, mail three out to your assigned people, and keep one for yourself.  And you, in turn, would receive three ornaments from other bloggers.  It’s a fun way to connect and share a creative Christmas spirit.  And so fun, to find a new ornament in the mail over several days!  In the above picture you can see my three that I received.

Unfortunately, the little ball ornament on the upper left came anonymously, which is too bad, because I don’t know who to thank! The ‘sing’ snowflake ornament is a beautiful gold color with green sparklies, given to me by Keya, and the precious girl on the right came to me by the ever lovely Juliette Crane.  I am so in love with this girl.  Juliette does amazing artwork which can be seen in her etsy store.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to you lovely people!

The props holding up the ornaments are some of my new favorite things.  The wire purse and the black vintage jewelry box came from a consignment store.  I love, love, love them.  They make my heart happy.  The jewelry box is lined with a funky turquoise velvet, and when you open the bottom drawer on the right, it plays a song!  The red poinsettia’s came from my local dollar store!!!  :-)

My Handmade OrnamentsHandmade Ornaments

These are the ones that I made.  I almost love how they turned out.  With a few slight tweaks, I would love them.  I didn’t follow any pattern or idea, so I was completely winging it.  The main issue for me is the color of the wool for the felted ball.  It looked way more subtle and less vibrant of a green in the picture I ordered from than what it actually is… (not even captured in these pictures. think neon green.)

My first thought after making the felt balls was, oh, they look like tennis balls! My kind hubby says, “no, they don’t!”  When I showed them to my niece, she said, “oh, they look like tennis balls.”  So yeah, they look like dressed up tennis balls.  What can I say?

What I do love is the beads, which I wish I could have captured better in the picture.  I love the ribbon, and love the wire detailing around the beads.  Look here to see…

Beaded Wire Detailing

In any case, I hope they will make the people I made them for smile :-)

Here is a close up of the girl I love… (sorry for the poor picture quality)

Fresh From the Ocean by Juliette Crane

She’s perfectly pouty and sweet.

What are your favorite ornaments?  Describe what and why; or better yet, post a picture to your blog and comment with a link to it!

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I Am Thankful for Love, Versus Being Right

DiGiovanni Family Photo

front row: Vincent, Enzo, Sophia, Gianna
back row: Emily, Savannah, Brian (brother), Laura, Joshua, Chris (brother), Sue (mom), Len (dad), Jenny (sister), Todd, me, Mark (hubby)

…Family.  This shot was taken just a few days ago.  We’ve been talking about doing a family photo shoot for years now.  This was supposed to be outside, in a park full of beautiful Oak trees, with all the fall brilliant colors among us.  But it rained most of the day.  I was glued to weather.com, found a break in the rain, rescheduled the shoot.  But alas, weather.com was wrong.  Thanks to my resourceful sister and brother-in-law, they found this wine tasting room just a few minutes away, who graciously let us use their space for our hour long photo shoot!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and as I reflect upon being grateful for my family, a few things come to mind.  Like most families, we’ve been through our ups and downs.  But what I’m grateful for is that I can always count on that upswing after hard times.  We’ve experienced challenges that would threaten the survival of any family – starting when my siblings and I were very young with my parents divorce (they remarried five years later), to only a few years ago when I converted to another religion than what I was brought up with (kind of – at least in their eyes).  It really shook my family up, and at the time, none of us knew how to handle it, and most of us handled it poorly (myself included).

After surviving my parents divorce, my sister, brothers and I were very tight growing up.  And we took that bond with us through our years of moving out and eventually getting married and starting our own families.  I took for granted a loving family, because nothing really challenged it.  So, when we were faced with this trial a few years ago, it cut deeply.  Something as personal as spirituality and religion can evoke overwhelming and often uncontrolled emotions when challenged, or when you think a loved one is headed down the wrong path.  It was a bittersweet time for me – finding my own way – but feeling cut off and misunderstood from my family.  I felt so very alone.

After a couple of years the awkwardness seemed to dissipate – something I so yearned for and welcomed.  It’s still lonely sometimes, not being able to share a sacred part of my life with the ones I entered into a familial contract with before the earth was born.  But I also believe that I signed up for this experience, to become strong and resolute.  Our families, as difficult as they may be at times, are a vital part of our personal growth in our earth school.  They are our most sacred teachers – the ones we chose to learn from and grow with.

Today, I am thankful for a family that has found its way, the best we know how.  For choosing love over our righteous positions.  For choosing a relationship over hanging on to being right.  My husband taught me, that he’d rather be friends than be right.  I love that.  And I love him for teaching me.  If being right means having a wall between us, then I don’t want to be right.  I want to be with you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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~{ I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me }~