This is the end…

Well another challenge year has ended and I’ve had a blast in 2012 investigating Parents magazine contributors ideas, comments and advertisers and would like to say thank you to them all for such a great year!

But where one door closes another window opens and my 2013 challenge to ONLY eat and drink Starbucks (Starbucks & Stripes Forever) is only hours away and I’m already getting nervous for what it might hold?!

Another change to my yearly blogs is that all future years challenges will be held under my new slogan “1 Year Of My Life” with both Facebook and WordPress pages where you can read all about it in one place!

So ends this year’s Parents Tested Mommy Approved challenge.  But here is to finding out what 1 Year Of My Life holds!

-Beautiful Existence


What is your legacy?

I have said things to many people in my life that I wish I could have taken back.  I have said  things that make me sad to think back on them.  But, I also think about all the GOOD THINGS I have said to people in my lifetime and hope that all those good things are the ones they will remember me by… especially my kids!  The article “What I Wish I’d Said” (below) in the December Parents magazine issue brought up all those words again.




I have had a heightened sense of this reality of “words” since my teens, a heightened sense that some of the most important words that I could say might only come out of my mouth ONCE to my kids (or loved ones) but it might stay with them forever.  I’ve realized this ever since my grandmother died when I was 22.  I loved her so much and even though I remember many fond memories of her… the smell of roses, dancing with her in the living room to the sounds of the Lawrence Welk show, etc. one of the biggest memories I have of her was when she told me that babies would die if they weren’t held or loved.  See my grandmother was a pediatric nurse, and she actually helped birth both my sister and brother and some of my cousins and she LOVED babies!  She was actually quoting a study they did many years ago in orphanages about the effects of no human contact on babies and it’s stayed with me my whole life!  That one conversation I heard has given me more compassion and passion for infants, human touch to them and even still wanting to adopt (if I ever can) one day!

So when I read this article in the December Parents magazine edition it struck a chord because I have written both my boys letters to open when they are 18 in case I die before then.  I wrote these letters a couple of times in my life, many years ago to my oldest in his photo albums and poetry books I made for him and lately when I suffered a double pulmonary embolism after the c-section with my youngest (which is actually a large contributor to sudden deaths of post-pregnancy women in our own country to this day!).  I have both the boys letters and the books, cd’s and art I’ve made them in their hope chests for my legacy.  I even went in and recorded the special songs I made for both of them while they were babies at the 50 year celebration at the Space Needle this summer “Put the Needle on the Record”.  Actually all three of us went in and I sang them to them on the record… it was just another way I felt I could give back to them a sense of me and what I considered important when they are older and I am gone.

Boys and I cutting a record

So what is your legacy to your children?  Are you keeping their school art, their photos, their macaroni creations?  Are you expanding that collection and recording certain moments (both bad and good) so that they know what you were thinking, feeling, doing at that time to help them in their adult lives know how to manuever life in a positive, loving and compassionate way?  It’s never too late!  Never too late to write those letters now while you are healthy, happy or have just lived through a terrible struggle.

It’s NEVER TOO LATE to leave your children your legacy.  I do it still, everyday with every blog post I create.  I say it’s never too late because that one word, that one sentence, that one photo, that one memory might be with them forever… help make it a great one about the good things in life and leave this existence knowing you will be in their hearts forever!

Oh Nuts!

For some reason the holiday months make me crave NUTS like crazy?!  And apparently I’m not the only one because I see huge displays of them in every grocery store, I see gift packs carrying varieties I’ve never heard of or seen before and even Parents magazine had a couple of items about nuts in their December (online) issue.

This first one is about the seriousness of nut allergies and making sure you know what a nut really looks like once it’s shelled.

PTMA Oh Nuts!

This next image is of a Nutella advertisement.  I have not had the pleasure (ever) of eating a Nutella sandwich or on toast but I do enjoy the Whole Foods brands such as Justin’s Nut Butter, especially the Chocolate Hazelnut!

PTMA Nutella

I might have to give Nutella a try soon but if you love nuts and live by a Whole Foods PLEASE, PLEASE try my absolutely FAVORITE new nut product – Albina City Nuts – that I found before Thanksgiving and have been pleasantly addicted to ever since!  I adore their Sweet & Spicy Hazelnuts… you must try them!!

Growing up

PTMA TREE growThere is something so innocent and beautiful about this photo to me.  A child living the everyday tasks of adults during the holidays.  It reminds me of a time when we actually did go to local tree farms with my parents to cut & carry our holiday tree/bush home.

Just wanted to share this image and this wonderful quote from one of my favorite-faves… Dr. Seuss from the December Parents magazine (online) edition.  Enjoy and may you choose to use those brains and feet for the benefit and blessing of others!


Toyland, Toyland, Little girl and boy-land!

What other month delivers so many joys with the mere mention of the word “toy” but December?!  And with the holiday month quickly approaching, we are finishing up our shopping lists for all those toy-joys but leave it to Parents magazine to add a couple of new ideas!

I’m always looking for new little gadgets that our two-year old will enjoy as well as the twelve-year-old, this magic wand might do the trick…

Another idea for our two-year old is this art easel since both the tween and mommy of the house both have art areas, this would give the toddler an area all his own to create in!

We already have many items checked off our toy list with a couple of non-toy ones still to purchase in the next two weeks.  We spent this Small-Business Saturday frequenting a local favorite toy store White Horse Toys buying some of our toys like this awesome scooter from Kiddi-O for our toddler.

I would encourage taking a look at your local toy businesses before taking part in Cyber-Monday (this year the online and store deals have NOT been as good as in the past!) and splitting at least half your toy list by supporting a local-owned shop like President Obama did this weekend!

Every little bit really makes a difference in your local community!  These are some of our local parent-owned businesses that we like to support…

Hopscotch Consignment in Bellevue

White Horse Toys in Issaquah

Twirl Cafe in Queen Anne

Serendipity Cafe in Magnolia

Animal Crackups

I LOVE animal crackers!  I especially LOVE the Barnum and Bailey red bag of them, YUM!  So when this photo in Parents magazine showed up of a Giraffe eating a little girl’s hair I was reminded first of animal crackers (because I secretly bite off the heads of the animals first before eating the bodies) and second because of all the times we have visited zoo’s and the funny eating adventures that sometimes happen during our trips with the kids or the animals!

I’ll have to fill you in on what I mean by eating adventures because I can only sometimes capture the images on the camera, but hopefully your imagination can fill in the blanks.  Just make sure you sit down with a bag of animal crackers before reading this post!

The boys and I watched these group of penguins being fed by the Zoo staff, and marveled at all the fish they ate!  The boys also marveled at all the POOPING the penguins did after eating their fair share of fish.

See that giraffe behind us?  Do you see him eating?  I swear every time we go to a zoo the animals are eating?!  But you can’t always capture them doing it… let alone on your hair!  This giraffe wasn’t even eating food, he was trying to eat bubbles that were floating around from a nearby kids art project that was happening at the zoo.  It was definitely too hard to see the bubbles in the photo but we watched him trying to eat them for minutes before the zoo staff caught on and ended the bubble-making project in that area.  It probably wasn’t the best thing for a giraffe to eat, but he didn’t get very many… they kept popping before he could get his mouth around them!

This is one of my favorite zoo images because I love Elephants and to watch them eat pumpkins is so cool!  I had to search for this image because the zoo only feeds the elephants pumpkins at one time of year (right after Halloween) so check your local zoo’s website for special feeding dates.

Whatever adventures you find at your local zoo be sure to have your camera ready for those amazing or funny shots that you are guaranteed to have when you put animals, food and kids in the same environment!


I consider myself pretty lucky in life because I’ve been given so many opportunities to truly understand the beauty of the “truly important things in life” such as love, family, friends, travel, nature, education and creativity.

One of those items, family, has offered me many lessons in love and life, specifically with my siblings, a younger sister and brother.  I have had so many memories with both siblings that I will cherish forever (or some that I want to forget but in our age have now become jokes we all laugh about!).  I valued the importance of siblings so much that when my oldest son was born I knew I never wanted him to be an only child.  Unfortunately, my life only allowed for him to have a sibling when he was already ten years old and had lived most of his youth by himself.  But, I am an eternal optimist and believe that even with this decade of time between my two boys that eventually when they are adults they will appreciate each other’s presence in their lives in a sibling way.

When I see photos like the one in Parents magazine (below) I am often reminded of my boys and how their sibling presence will affect their lives in positive (or sometimes negative) ways but in the end when I’m gone they will at least have each other.

I already see my youngest son looking up to his older brother, and often have to remind the older son that this little boy admires his every move (so he shouldn’t encourage dangerous jumping-off-the-chair behaviors yet!).  And every once in awhile I see this exchange of love and knowledge sharing happening between them without my cue or oversight and it is one of the most precious things in the world to behold as a parent!

These moments remind me of all the times I spent with my own siblings on our farm growing up together and they always make me smile.  I can only imagine how both my boys will look back on their lives many years from now and know the joys of having a sibling and smile just the same way!

Sybil and Jared, you both have been amazing siblings that have shaped the best moments of my life and this post is for YOU!