Monday, December 30, 2013

What's Happening

It's been awhile since I've blogged, so I wanted to let you know what is happening in my world.  Here's a recap:
{dreaming} of the Native American project my students are going to do when they get back.  Last night I literally had a dream about this.  School is never far from a teacher's mind, even during vacation.
{reading} In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden, a somewhat interesting book about the Johnstown Flood.  I actually never knew the flood was totally preventable.  It's definitely not the best book I've ever read, but certainly not the worst.
{crafting} a globe covered in Mod-Podged (is that an adjective?) maps.  It's a bit more complicated than I first anticipated, so I took a break from it.  I found that is my nature in general.  I'm a great visionary, but sometimes lack the oomph to finish.  I'm working on that part of my character and making some strides.
{eating} peanut brittle.  Gosh, I have such a sweet tooth. 
{watching} nothing.  Does anyone have a good Netflix reccomendation? I love watching TV series on Netflix.  I'm caught up on the following: Hart of Dixie, Switched at Birth, Private Practice, and Grey's Anatomy.  I need something new!
{learning} a new love and appreciation for my husband.  You will not believe what he can do by just watching a YouTube video.  In the past week he's replaced spark plugs, took apart his phone and replaced the broken glass, and is currently cleaning a random part of the car.  It looked a little like an old-fashioned pencil sharpener when he just walked through the living room carrying it, but I have absolutely no idea what it is.  Hopefully he knows.
{planning} Amirah's fourth birthday party.  She wants a pink butterfly theme.  We are currently working on decorations, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the cake.  That is NOT my area of expertise.  By the way, I cannot believe my baby is going to be 4!
{organizing} my life.  I am getting ready to do another "Happiness Project" for 2014.  January's goal is organization.  I got a head-start and cleaned the refrigerator and pantry this week.  I would like to organize every closet and drawer in this house, as well as clean vents, baseboards, etc.  I'll keep you posted on what the rest of the year will focus on.
{loving} my little family.  My kids are wild and crazy and I just love them to pieces.  My husband is a treasure and I am so grateful for him.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Most Precious Tree of All

Oh, Christmas Tree... Oh, Christmas Tree...  I have a thing for traditions.  They are so important to me.  And the Tree during the holiday season is probably one of the most important for me.  It's a symbol of one of the reasons the holidays are so, so important to me-- family!  For as long as I can remember my family had two important holiday traditions.  #1.  We picked our own real tree.  #2.  Each year we got a new ornament.  I can remember Dad filling a five-gallon bucket and filled it with stones from the drive way to hold up the tree.  Some years they were beautifully round and full, and some years they were a little patchy, but it was our tree.  Ours to care for and decorate.  Mom always made sure we had a new ornament each year to hang on the tree.  When I went through my "Victorian" phase in the early 90s I got tea cup oranaments and fancy shoe ornaments.  When I became a teacher I got an Angel Tree teacher ornament.  The year I brought home my new husband there was an ornament with our picture in it.  Sigh.  It makes me so happy thinking about it. 
Now that I have my own little family I've passed that tradition on as well.  Tomorrow afternoon my entire family (Mom, Dad, my two sisters, two brothers-in-law, two neices, a new baby nephew, my husband, and own precious babies) will head over to Adams County.  Pick out three perfect trees and load them on to the back of my Dad's pick-up and he will deliver them to each house.  Then Ysmaille and I will put lights on the tree and Amirah and I will hang the ornaments.  This year I've decided to only use metallic ornaments.  What? you ask.  What about all your precious ornaments that you've collected over the years?  Those ornaments, those precious pieces of memory-keeping plastic and metal and clay have a place of honor all their own.  Those ornaments go on the ornament tree.  When Ysmaille and I first moved to the States from Haiti we were so very poor.  We really struggled those first several years and couldn't afford and didn't have room for a real tree.  We bought what some might refer to as a "Charlie Brown" tree.  That tree is now home to all my "real-life" ornaments.  And now my two children have their own ornaments-- some handmade, some bought by me, some bought by others who love them as well.  It is full to overflowing and a little crazy.  Last year it got knocked down more than once.  It is a beatiful representation to me of past, present, and future.  Full of memories and hope for the years to come. 
Here's the ornament tree.  Excuse the unsightly wires in the background.  Those will soon be covered.  My decorating is currently in the beginning stages where everything looks a little crazy.
This holiday season may you can continue old traditions and make new ones with the ones you love the most. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Traditions... Is Santa Real?

I've been thinking a lot about Santa and his contribution to Christmas.  Last night I posted on facebook that we've always told our kids that we buy their gifts.  We talk about Santa, we look for him at the end of the parade, but it's certainly not the focus of our Christmas discussions.  It brought a lot of interesting opionions and thougths from friends on facebook and it got me to thinking...  My view on Santa has nothing to do with religion.  I am not opposed to people telling their kids about Santa.  It's just not that important to me.  Neither Ysmaille or myself grew up in a household that "believed" in Santa, so for us it's just not a big deal.  I know that sounds like we are total humbugs.  Let me assure you... we're not!  Here are the traditions that are important to us...  making sandtarts and letting the kids decorate them, picking out our own real Chrismtas tree and cutting it down, putting up our nativity made by Haitian artisans, reading the Christmas story form Luke 2, and spending time with the family we love.  Santa is only on the sidelines of our Christmas celebration. 

With that said, my precious almost-four-year-old has a devout belief in Santa this year.  When I reminded her that Daddy and Mommy buy her gifts she said, "you are tricking me, Mommy.  I know Santa buys my gifts."  So guess what?  We're going to roll with it.  If believing in Santa makes her happy and makes the holidays a little more magical I'm okay with that.  As for me, I'm just looking forward to the look on her face when she sees what we bought her, whether she thinks it's from me or Santa.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Best. Day. Ever

Okay.  It doesn't top my wedding day, or the day my children were born, or even Christmas, but seriously, today was so great.  It filled every part of my soul.  It started out nice and early.  I read a couple pages of Big Stone Gap.  If you haven't read this yet, you should!  My beautiful friend, Crissy, told me about this book and I can see why she reccomended it.  So good.  Anyway, I digress. 
At 7:30 I dropped my children at Mom's.  I went to the I Heart Homemade craft show.  How fun to go to craft show in my hometown that didn't involve snowmen, and primitive stars, and camoflauge.  No offense, if that is your decorating style.  It's definitely not mine and I pretty much loved every booth I visited.  I bought a pair of fun earrings.  Before I picked my kids up I went to Lowe's to get paint for a project I'm hoping to share very soon, and then visited my favorite thrift store.  Do you see how this is shaping up to be such a great day?  By 9:30 my soul was nearly full. 
A string of vintage Christmas bulbs for 50 cents
I worked a little bit on the painting project I mentioned earlier, and then got an urge...
... to go shopping!  Ysmaille and I have been sticking to a very strict budget to pay off debt and I mentioned to him that I have bought NOTHING new in a very long time.  He gave me some money to go shopping.  I made a killing at Kohl's.  For just over 50 dollars I scored two dresses (one with a belt), a pair of shorts and a tank top to match, a pair of coral pants with a matching tank, yoga pants, a t-shirt, a fun yellow bracelet, and a great necklace.  Plus I got $10 Kohls cash to spend next week.  I also bought a great winter coat at Target.  I am not a high maintenance kinda girl.  My nails are often chipped, I only blow dry my hair once a month, and some days I skip makeup.  But I am still a girl.  And buying new clothes made me feel so good!
After getting home from my little shopping excursion the family went to the mall.  Xander got his first real hair cut.  He looks so grown up.  I also got my hair cut.  Total spent for two haircuts and a tip: $32.  I told you I wasn't high maintenance. 
Look at my little boy's hair cut.  He's looking so grown up!
New hair cut
Now we are chilling at home.  I'm wearing my new yoga pants and I'm getting ready to eat a fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie.   Then it's baths for the kids, some book reading, snuggling, and general coziness. 
Ysmaille is going out with some of his friends tonight so after the babies are in bed I'm plannig to finish my book, watch an episode of Downton Abbey, eat yet another chocolate chip cookie, and maybe work on another craft project that's been rolling around in my head today.  My. Heart. Is. Full.  I have felt God's presence in everything I did today.  I know he loves these kinds of days, too.  After all, He's after my heart.  And He has it!
One last picture.... this corner of our kitchen just makes me happy. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

What We've Been Up To...

Life is always crazy, but when the school year starts my crazy life goes on hyper speed.  I'm getting two kids out the door and dressed, hoping I haven't forgotten extra clothes and lunches, and homework papers, and my sanity behind.  It's crazy, but it's the life I've chosen.   I've got another great groups of students this year, and I'll say it again.  I love my job!  This year I did a lot of classroom decorating with Dr. Suess in mind.
 This window decoration is made of a salvaged Dr. Suess book that was badly torn and needed a new purpose in life.
 Isn't this game awesome?  At my 15 year (can it be true?) high school reunion a classmate of mine gave this to me.  She saw I was decorating my classroom in Dr. Suess and found this at a thrift store.  I was delighted!
 I spend a lot of my afternoons this summer mod-podging (yes, that's a verb now) while the kids were napping.

 This was my favorite "mod-podge" project.  I took an old side table we no longer used and repurposed it with pages from an old Horton Hears a Who book.
 How funny that Target read my mind and decided on a Dr. Suess theme too this summer.  I picked this great bags up for $1 each!
 The view of my classroom from my desk.
 Amirah was so kind to donate her "tent" to my classroom to make my book area a little more inviting.
We've had such crazy weather this fall in Pennsylvania.  Playing in the leaves in shorts and barefeet?  Love it!
 Aren't they sweet?  They really do love each other.
 Amirah is my budding photographer.  She snapped this picture of me.
 When I was cleaning out the kid's room this weekend I came across some jewelry that I had forgotten Amirah had. 
 My version of a fall mantle. 
I'm a control freak.  There.  I said it.  I am not apologizing for it, but I am simply trying to become the best version of myself.  I love doing arts and crafts with Amirah, but I usually get slighlty frustrated because it gets messy and doesn't go the way I had planned.  Last night I gave Amirah some toothpicks, yarn, scissors, paper glue, and pipe cleaner and just let her create.  She had so much fun!  Today, after school, her neighbor friend came over and they used the supplies again to create.  I need to do this more often.
 The creator in progress.
 This is what she ended up with.  It kind of reminds me of a praying mantis.  I hung it on the chandelier-- a place of honor.
Xander is really starting to express his opinions.  I am enjoying him learn about the world around him.  He loves to eat.  This afternoon's snack of choice?  Raw cabbage!  He is slowly starting to talk.  He now says, uh-oh, ball, apple, up, banana.  (notice the food theme?)
I am really happy with the place I'm in right now.  Being a wife, a mommy, and a teacher can be exhausting.  But honestly, I don't know a mama out there who isn't tired. It's such a beautiful gift I've been given and I don't want to take it for granted.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Life Lessons from a Three Year Old

 Once upon a time this was supposed to be my garden.  But I got lazy.  And the weeds grew.  And, well, I just didn't care enough to do anything about it.  What is an embarassment to me is a field of treasures to a three year old who loves to get dirt under her finger nails.  She has been digging for "treasures" for days now.
She is intent on finding something of value in all that dirt and weeds.
 Where once a patch of weeds grew now exists a land full of treasure!  (notice the hole where my little excavator has been hard at work.)
 She found a treasure!
After a hard day's work Amirah found all this treasure from my weed patch. 
Why am I sharing all this?  It's because I can't get it out of my mind.  I thought this was a beautiful analogy of God working in His People.  God is like Amirah.  Where we see weed patches and stones in our lives, He sees treasure.  Until He gets his hands on us we are often unaware of what treasure lies in us.  Be encouraged today.  The things that you aren't proud of in your life, the ugly parts of you, aren't viewed by God that way.  You are, and always will be, a treasure!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


We are having such a fun summer.  Last summer was a little challenging with a newborn and a two-year old, but we have found our groove as a four person family and are having the best time together.  Ysmaille's work schedule is a little different this year.  Since he works 1-9:30 we spend our morning together and then it's just the kids and I for the afternoon/evening.  I thought I would really dislike this schedule, but it hasn't been too bad.  Like everything in life there are pros and cons.  I'm not a huge fan of the bedtime routine being all on me, but I love having Ysmaille at home in the mornings.  Here's how we've been spending our days...

 Amirah loves this activity.  I freeze small animals in a block of ice and then she digs them out.  It occupies her for a long time and keeps her cool as well.
 Snuggling with my girl.  She is in a new phase where everytime we try to take her picture she makes a funny face. 
 Happy Independence Day from the Eliacin family!
 Finding a way to keep cool.
 One of the things on our "Summer List" was to make S'Mores.  Delicious!
 Of course S'Mores would be impossible without the ultimate fire builder and marshmallow toaster- my dad!
 Most days I do something with Amirah's hair, but on days that I let it go wild I like it the best.  It totally matches her personality.
 My baby is getting so big.  I love this exploration stage.  Everything is new and exciting to him. 
Doesn't lake water looks so gross in pictures?  We had so much fun at Laurel Lake the other weekend.  It's definitely a must-do again on our summer list.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Inadequacy and worship

Ysmaille's schedule makes it really hard to go to church.  He usually ends up leaving half-way through the service.  Today he just stayed home to have his own time with God.  I took the two kiddos.  I spent the first part of worship just feeling sorry for myself as I chased my two precious children around the church.  I was mad at Ysmaille for not coming (even though I knew his reasons were legitimate).  I was feeling frustrated with my children.  At one point I seriously considered just leaving.  Then I looked at my beautiful friend on stage who has recently started writing these amazing worship songs.  I just felt so inadequate.  I talked to God about it, giving him my cares and burdens and He asked me what I did to worship Him.  What made me fulfilled and happy?  I thought about all the fun I've had this summer making crafts with the kids and getting new ideas for my classroom.  "But, God, that isn't worship," I said.  "There is nothing spiritual about it."  He reminded me that those things bring joy to myself and the children in my life.  When I use the talents he gave me that is my worship to Him.
Minutes later, a friend came by to chat.  After a few minutes he said simply, "You are a good mom."  I burst into tears.  His words breathed new life into my soul.  Being a mom is my highest calling right now and when Ysmaille isn't around I am outnumbered and often feel overwhelmed.  I left church with a totally new outlook on life. In the midst of my inadequacies I met Jesus today.  I worship the King who takes my human flaws and redeems them!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back At It

It's been two months since I last posted.  Life is busy.  And messy.  And wonderful.  Here's what you need to know about me in no apparent order...

1.  Yesterday was my anniversary.  Eight years.  Our marriage has been blessed, but Ysmaille is not the man of my dreams.  I am guessing many of you aren't married to the man of your dreams either.  Let me explain.  When I pictured my future-husband I pictured a tall, dark, handsome man.  I married a short, dark, sexy man.  I imagine my future-husband would be outgoing.  Ysmaille is contemplative and quiet (at least around others).  This man I married is such a treasure!  He works so hard for our family.  He loves us passtionately.  He is just what I needed.  His steadfastness has seen us through many crisis'.  So, no, he isn't the man I dreamed I would marry one day, but he can still make me weak in the knees.  And as I'm writing this I'm crying a little bit because I just feel so blessed that he picked me!

2.  The kids are at the  babysitter this morning.  What?  I thought you had off this summer?  Yes.  I do.  So why arent' you with your kiddos?  Let me explain.  A teacher cannot possibly get a classroom in order if you wait until the 4.5 hours the school district pays you to work in your classroom.  I spent the morning rearranging furniture and decorating my classroom for the upcoming year.  Now I am taking a little "me" time to spend blogging, talking to Jesus, reading, and some errands.  I will not apologize for taking caring of myself.   Let me know if you need a break and I'll watch your kids for a couple of hours.  Put your feet and up and relax!

3.  I didn't plant a garden this summer.  I had every intention of doing so.  Dad even come over with the roter tiller and made a nice plot.  It's still a nice plot, but there are no plants.  The past several years I've planed tomatoes, green peppers, and zucchini, and I loved it.  I loved picking fresh veggies from my very own garden.  I just didn't get around to it.  And that's okay. 

4.  I secretly obsess over people I don't even know.  There.  The secret is out.  I love following blogs of inspiring people.  Two of my favorites are and .  Can I tell you something about myself?  I find very little joy in the mundane tasks of keeping a home.  I like crafting and decorating, but those nicks on the wall that need touched up?  Well let's just say the paint cans have been sitting in the corner of my kitchen for over two weeks.  If you like DIY projects you will love these blogs.  I keep reading them in hopes that I will get inspired and I won't have to look at those cans of paint for an entire month!

5.  I've made my summer list and I can't wait to complete it.  Here are some of the highlights of the list: Making donuts over a fire, Taking the kids to Fuller Lake for a cookout and a swim, Making S'mores, Going to Benders to feed the animals, and Laying on the deck with Ysmaille and watching the stars.  So far I've checked one thing off our list and that was going to Pittsburgh for our anniversary.  We stayed at the historic William Penn hotel.  It was beautiful, and romantic.  If you are parents of young children you know how rejuvinating it can be to get away and spend "adult" time.  Wink.

Stay tuned.  I plan to blog more frequently this summer as my schedule allows for a little more down time.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring is here!

Spring just makes me happy.  I love pretty much everything about it.  It starts when I wake up to the birds chirping outside my window.  Then that yellow-green of new leaves on the trees... it almost makes me weak in the knees.  Rushing home from school so I can take my babies outside to play.  And then there is my birthday.  I love my birthday!  A day to celebrate me?  Bring. It. On.

Here's what we've been up to the past several weeks...
 These two have hit a stage where they get along more than they fight, so I think that's something to celebrate :)
 I just love dying Easter eggs.  Plus I really love making egg salad when the eggs have a little dye on them.  I know... it's weird.
 Since this picture was taken Xander no longer requires a prop to hold himself up.  He is off!  He's getting a little more adventurous each day and can now walk half-way across the floor without falling.
Amirah loves playing the "Go Fish" game Pappy and Grammy got her for her birthday.
Loving life.  My house is messy, and my heart is full.  And that just about sums it up :)


Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's V-Day!

I just love Valentine's Day!  So. Much. Fun.
 A little art project we made last month.  I plan on keeping it up all year long. 
 Heart-shaped pancakes.  I had to make these last night, because there is no way I'd have time to make them this morning.  Thankfully Amirah was delighted, even though they had to be microwaved.
 I put a book for Amirah and Xander in their lunch box with a note from Mommy and Daddy.  I wanted them to have a little surprise at lunchtime!
 Loving her pancakes!
 My student's love glitter.  So we made drawings with glitter.  I cannot lie.  I love it too.  What's not to love?
 The message on my blackboard today.  I loved seeing so many kids wearing red and pink today.  I bought a new dress for the occasion, but I didn't take a picture of it.  It was a steal of deal at Target for only $2.40!
 More glitter.  I had so much fun at school I had to bring the glitter home!
 My loot!  Is there a better job than being an elementary school teacher?  I think not.
Melissa did it again.  Look at the card she helped the kids make today.  Isn't this the sweetest thing ever?
I should also mention that Ysmaille bought me an outfit!  He even bought tights and earrings to match.  He is so good.  I'll have to post pictures later...