Penny Pinching Peach


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What Lung Cancer Can’t Do

Mom & PawPaw, Together in Heaven Now

Mom & PawPaw, Together in Heaven Now

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

My mom- a previously healthy non-smoker- died of lung cancer just before Christmas in 2006  at the young age of 44, a whirlwind two months after her diagnosis. We don’t know what caused her disease, and still don’t understand how such a vibrant, healthy and active woman succumbed to it so rapidly. I’ve learned that dwelling on what cancer has taken from my family and what power it can have over us can be completely soul numbing. Instead of dwelling on what lung cancer can do and what it can rob from us…this month I want to remind myself and others of what lung cancer can’t do.

Lung cancer can steal your voice, but it cannot take the words you have spoken. Choose words of love, encouragement and peace.

Lung cancer can leech away your energy, but it can’t quench your spirit. My mom was still such a caring, curious person all the way to her last breath.

Lung cancer can stop your heart, but it cannot stop the love you have inside of it. Show that love to those you care for.

Lung cancer can zap the strength from your body, but it can’t touch the strength of your soul. Who you are is stronger than cancer.

Lung cancer can take away life from your loved one, but it can never, ever take away the memories, legacy and relationships you have. Those will live on long after you are gone, regardless of whether you are taken by cancer or die in your sleep at the ripe ol’ age of 105.

Cancer doesn’t always win even in the physical realm. Don’t think I am saying it has to take all of these physical things away….but it can. As long as there is light in the eyes and breath in the body, there is hope. There are so many things it cannot reach, though, and we all need to remember that. Don’t give lung cancer- or any cancer- that kind of power over you. That power belongs to us, as humans. The human spirit soars far above and beyond anywhere that any disease can reach.

Never forget. What can you think of that lung cancer can’t take away?

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If you are interested in lung cancer related items to inspire hope and/or remembrance, here are a few of my favorite picks:

This beautiful Ribbon of Hope Angel is holding the lung cancer ribbon in her arms. Elements Pearl Ribbon of Hope Angel (Lung Cancer) by Pavilion, 5-Inches Tall
This e-book is free with Kindle Unlimited, and looks like it would be quite helpful in coping with the ups and downs of cancer: Cancer: Coping With Cancer: Controlling and Understanding Emotions of Cancer (Cancer,Cancer Books,Breast Cancer,Colon Cancer,Lung Cancer,Brain Cancer,Prostate Cancer,Leukemia, Skin Cancer)
This lovely bracelet says “Where There Is Love, There is Life” along with the lung cancer ribbon charm…and that is such a powerful statement. I need this reminder, myself! Lung Cancer Charm Bracelet (Retail)

This bracelet has the cancer symbol with the colors for what appears to be all of the cancers we all hate so much, and I love that about it. Prepackaged (7 3/4 in.) Cancer Awareness Bracelet 18 Colors, 8mm

If you are in need of more information or resources for coping with lung cancer, here is the link to a great non-profit organization: LungCancer.org
 

Grace & Truth Link-up @ Busy Being Blessed
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Take Pictures With Your Kids

Take a Picture With Me, Mommy!

Take a Picture With Me, Mommy!

“Take a picture with me,  Mommy! “, my five year old daughter chirped this afternoon.

Excuses immediately ran through my mind of why I would really rather not.  I have a headache,  my hair is a mess, I am wearing no makeup and I have hardly slept in days, so I am not looking my best.

Then I had a flashback to being that girl begging for pictures with my mom, who hated having her picture taken. She usually said no, but those times she actually said yes live on as treasures for me. They are beautiful reminders of the loving,  joyful childhood I had with a mom who put aside her own insecurity in how she looked for long enough to make a record of a moment with her daughter.

My mom passed away at age 44, long before I had my own little girl.

Each snapshot of my mom is an irreplacable memory, frozen in time.

I cherish them, and the ability to share them with the grandchildren she never met. Because of this,  I don’t care if I look like a homeless crazy person,  I will take that picture with my babies whenever they want.  They don’t care about how I look now. Later they will look at that photo and remember that moment with Mom, regardless of what my hair looked like.

Take those pictures with your kids.

How you look right now doesn’t matter.  You don’t have to look like a fashion model to be a fabulous mommy. How they feel and the memories preserved in time do. You won’t regret those messy moments captured in a picture. Those messy moments make up the beautiful, crazy life filled with the love you have for your children….and that’s what those photos will represent to them when they look at them.

Here is a letter I wrote to my mom on her birthday during my pregnancy with our little Sweet Pea, if you would like to read it…

Dear Mom


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More Than a Mom

Before being a mommy, with one of my hiking buddies.

Before being a mommy, with one of my hiking buddies.

Sometimes I find it hard to remember that I was ever more than just a mom.

It’s difficult to believe that once my primary identity was merely “Keisha, a human”, rather than my first identifier being the fact that I am obviously the mother of the two beautiful munchkins who are pretty much always with me everywhere I go and the growing bump showing baby number three coming along. I don’t remember the last time I was remembered for being myself, but everywhere we go regularly people remember my friendly little people. I love being Mommy…but sometimes I desperately need to remember that I am more than that.

Once I had a job that I was proud of, with flexible hours conducive to being a full time mommy when the time came (and continued to work- taking them with me- for the first three years) and had worked very hard to make that a secure long term career plan. I had to step away from it in order to make the parenting decision I could be comfortable with under extenuating circumstances I can’t go into publicly. I went from being a wife, mother, and shipping manager/motivator in the family business to being a full fledged stay at home mom & wife. Even knowing it was the right decision, I went through a huge depression. I still struggle with the fact that I “just” take care of my family.

Staying at home with little ones day in and day out is both rewarding and soul numbing.

I forget I am anything other than a mother. I forget I’m capable of anything other than being a sibling referee, snot wiper, bottom cleaner, story teller, homeschool teacher, art director, entertainer, dish washer, laundress, chef, chauffeur and all the other little things that make up the day of a homeschooling parent of a tribe of small children. What else is there in the world? I don’t remember sometimes, since I’m alone in this little world of children so much of the time.

I always dreamed of being a mommy. I love living that dream- with or without income in my own right- but sometimes I want to remember there’s more to me than that.

Being silly, before I became a mom or lost my own mom.

Being silly, before I became a mom or lost my own mom.

I am artistic. I can do a lot more than just quick sketches for my children to color, but I forget that sometimes because I just don’t take the time out of being Mommy to do draw anything that interests me without involving my babies. I love to hike and wander through nature, but it’s so much hassle to try to haul my children along by myself that I don’t bother, and my husband is so infernally busy with the job of providing for the family and being everything to everyone that he rarely takes time for that type of outing. I’m good at selling anything I’m enthusiastic about, but haven’t been able to focus beyond the munchkins enough to find something I am passionate about to sell to help pay for our little family’s needs. I haven’t finished a book that wasn’t colorfully illustrated for the joy of children in a few years now, where I used to read extremely long novels on an almost daily basis. Until I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter, I went to the gym three times a week, because I loved it. Haven’t stepped foot in one in over 5 years now. I could go on, but I’ve forgotten too much. Really! 😉

Mommies, it’s okay to forget for awhile what made you unique and happy as an individual before you became a parent.

I know that I do. Sometimes I forget who I am underneath it all so much that it starts feeling soul numbing, though, and I have to do something- however so small- to remind myself of the things I loved and was good at before. When it starts to get to you, take time to try to remember. If you’re like me, you just plain can’t do anything major. That’s okay. What do I do?

Well, I blog, for one thing. It reminds me I’m able to continue to form sentences and thoughts without anyone’s input other than what flows from this crazy place inside of my brains. 🙂 It’s amazing how much that helps.

I draw, even if it’s just a quick card to brighten someone’s day. Sometimes I even throw some calligraphy on there.

Walking in the woods with Mommy

Walking in the woods with Mommy

I take my kids on a walk in the woods. I may not be able to go for miles on a trail somewhere, but I can certainly circle my own woods, watching the take in the beauty of nature that I find so peaceful as an individual and treasure even more as a mother.

I read a few online articles or a magazine to satisfy my inner bookworm until the day that I can voraciously consume literature once more.

I crazy dance around my living room or do stretches to feed my inner gym rat. I need to move it, move it….even if I’m tripping over crazy short people in the process. 🙂

In short….I remember.

I remember what I love and who I am that has absolutely nothing with the beauty of motherhood and the demands of tiny amazing beings who call me Mommy. I seriously stink at remembering, but sometimes I pause and remember all those little things that make me just plain ME. I am a much better mom when I take a few minutes to do that.

How do you remind yourself that you are more than a mom? Struggling? Head over here for a reminder that you are not alone.


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Black and Blue Butterfly Greetings From Heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Losing my mom to cancer changed so much about me.

It changed my personality, my perspective and even my life plans. Everything about myself was intertwined with her, and suddenly a huge part of the fabric of who I was, the life I had and my hopes for the future was ripped away. I was left feeling torn apart, broken and irreparable. Visiting her grave was no comfort to me, and I felt at a loss for any tangible way to feel that connection with my mom while she was gone. It hurt in such an achingly empty manner, I can’t even explain it in words.

One day as I was walking outside, praying & crying & wishing I could talk to Mom about whatever crisis I was coping with or just get another one of her warm, loving, mama hugs…it happened. God sent the comforting symbol I needed. I was randomly surrounded by fluttering blue and black butterflies! To most people, this would seem magical and beautiful. To me, it was a sign from Heaven of my mom’s continued love. You see, her favorite color combination was blue and black. One of my favorite things in the world is butterflies, and she would often give me little things to do with butterflies. The unique combination of those two things that were so special to each of us and personally significant between us was a symbol to me, and something I latched onto. Finally, something tangible to bring me comfort and help me to feel connected to my mom!

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These black and blue Butterfly Greetings from Heaven have recurred over the years many times, usually at moments when I was thinking of my mom or dealing with something difficult and feeling alone.

Sometimes it’s a lone butterfly, others an entire swarm of them, and at times they even land on me as I watch them and try to listen to whatever message may be whispered to me by God in that moment when He has my attention.

The butterfly hello has also become an unexpected and beautiful way for my daughter to feel connected to the grandma she was never blessed to get to know.

When she sees blue and black butterflies- after hearing my story of the time the black and blue butterflies swarmed me when I was feeling sad and missing my mama and how they always make me think of her when I see them now- she will say “Hi Grandma! I love you, too!”. It brings bittersweet tears to my eyes every time it happens, and is yet another thing that is special about these particular butterflies for me.

If you have lost anyone close to you, is there something special that makes you feel connected to them in particular, like they’re saying hello, or just plain brings you comfort when you see it? Read my Letter to My Mom.

Below are some beautifully touching products following the sentiment of butterfly inspiration:

Girl Nursery Quote – Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,she became a butterfly – Wall Decal Sticker (Black, Medium)
DaisyJewel Azure Blue & Silvertone Butterfly Hoop Earrings
Vietsbay’s Butterfly Collection Necklace Pendants Pewter Silver


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Mom In Heaven

Mama and me

Mama and me

December 20th was the seventh anniversary of my mom’s passing. She was only 44 at the time. I had no idea how I was going to face life without my mom, because she was my best friend, mom and everything all rolled into one amazing woman. Life has gone on, but it will never be the same. I wrote a poem about her on the 20th, but was hesitant to share it here. It’s “off topic”, and not my best work. I decided to go ahead. Maybe it will touch someone else struggling with facing life and/or the holidays without a loved one they feel should be here to celebrate with them…

If you had asked when I was young

How long I thought my mom would live,

I’d have told you she’d outlive us all

And still have time to give.

If you had told me she’d be gone

When she was only 44,

I’d have called you crazy

And not listened anymore.

If I had known that she’d be gone

Before her time should be,

I’d have done all I could do

To keep her here with me

If I were given the chance

To see her once again,

I’d tell her how much I love her,.

Thank her for all she’d been.

She lived more in her short life

Than many who are old and gray

She was the best mom she could be,

And I miss her every day.

When she knew the end was nearing,

She had little left undone.

She just wished she’d see me married,

Get to hold the children of her daughter and son.

When I look at her grandbabies,

I see her sparkle and her smile,

I feel her love and laughter,

See her dancing silly and wild.

I know her love is with us,

And in our hearts, she’ll never die,

But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss her

Or in the darkness cry.

If I could give my mom a present

I’d fly all of us up to Heaven,

And spend a day with her in

The place she’s been for seven.

In Loving Memory of My Mom, Dorinda

Mom, Nana and me

Mom, Nana and me


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The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster

Halloween book

Halloween book

We were given a few of the best Halloween books from my mother in law’s expansive collection of all things autumn.

Halloween was her favorite holiday, by far. We lost her recently, so even though I don’t generally go all out for this particular holiday, I decided to do a Halloween themed story time with my munchkins in her honor, complete with a craft, game and treat. She also loved all things crafty, and was a retired Head Start teacher, so I know that she would have enjoyed it.

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I chose the book  The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster by Kay Winters for our fun Halloween themed activity time.

It’s quite the cute little book, and not the least bit scary. My little girl is strongly opposed to all things “creeeeepyyyyy”, as she says, so that was a must. 🙂 This book and activity would be fun any time of the year, but especially for fall and Halloween. I love that it fits the season without being too scary for little kids.

Pipe cleaner arms and legs

Pipe cleaner arms and legs

First on our agenda are ghost and monster puppets!

To make these, you just need craft sticks like Loew Cornell 1021254 Woodsies Craft Sticks, 1000-Piece (or popsicle sticks),  Crayola Construction Paper, Assorted Colors, 240 Sheet (99-3200)or cardstock, pipe cleaners like these Creativity Street Stetems/Pipe Cleaners 12″ X 4mm 100-Piece Assorted Colors, tape and something to color with. I sketched the requested outlines for their ghosts and monsters, but if you don’t have a knack for drawing, just print or trace the outlines. While I let my five and two year olds loose to decorate their respective puppets, I grabbed a couple of pipe cleaners and snipped them into four pieces each for the monsters’ legs and arms. You need one pipe cleaner per monster.  I just twisted loops at one end of each to make hands and feet. Once they were finished coloring, I cut out their creepy (bahaha!) creations and helped them tape the arms and legs on the monsters and the craft sticks on all of the puppets. See? Super simple, easy peasy!! As I mentioned, even my two year old could participate in this activity.

If you don’t want to bother making your own puppets, this set of teeny tiny finger puppets is super inexpensive and awfully cute  Monster Finger Puppets – Collect all 8!

Halloween Monster Back

Halloween Monster Back

Below you see my munchkins proudly displaying their one-of-a-kind ghosties and monsters. Quite the colorful creatures, aren’t they? 🙂 They get all the credit, since Mommy literally left them to it while she finished the legs and arms and worked on dishes.

Monster and Ghost Puppets

Monster and Ghost Puppets

Now for the next part of our freaky fall fun fest!! Halloween storytime, with a game!

I settled them down in our oversized chair, and instructed them to hold up their ghost puppets when they heard the word “ghost” and their monster puppets when they heard the word “monster”. As you can see, they had to concentrate to hear those key words, but they did really well and thought it was the neatest way to read a book together.

Halloween Game

Halloween Game

We weren’t ready to be finished with that, so the kiddos put on a Halloween puppet show for me using their new monster puppets.

While I won’t pretend that the script was riveting, they were pretty doggone cute in their attempts at a story line. My two year old really didn’t get it, and wound up watching his sister’s puppets more than doing anything with his own, but they had a blast, anyway. Puppet time is great for creative children!

Monster and Ghost Puppet Show

Monster and Ghost Puppet Show

For the grand finale, I brought out their trick or treat buckets from the fall festivals we attended the other day and let them both pick out a sweet treat. As you can see, they were quite pleased with that finish! 🙂

Do your little ones enjoy books and puppets? What are your favorite books for autumn? For a fun pumpkin activity to do with your little ones, try No Carving Pumpkin Family!

Story Time Trick or Treat

Story Time Trick or Treat


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Share the Kindness

 

All of my mama's girls

Share the kindness through the generations!

I’m not sure if anyone noticed that I missed my normal “Cooking With Coupons” blog of the week or posting anything else for a few days. I apologize for the silence. What should have been my mom’s 51st birthday was a few days ago. My brain just hasn’t been able to churn out any creative thinking in the little time I’ve had to attempt to use it, and nothing I have written was inspiring me to post it.

My mom was one of the most kind and caring folks I have ever known.

She was radiant, and I only wish she were here now to continue to share that radiant sweetness she had with the next generation. She isn’t, but I am, so I’m doing my best to pass it along. Today, I’m going to just share a few thoughts and issue a challenge in her honor.

First, I’ll share my daughter’s reaction to my mom’s birthday:

Princess Peach was upset that I didn’t make a cake for my mommy’s birthday, and was quick to let me know about it. She said I needed to make a cake right now so she could put a candle in it and make a wish for her grandma. When I asked her what she would wish for Grandma, she replied “I’d wish for her to be able to come down from Heaven to visit so she could meet her beeeeauuuuutiful grandbaby!” as she patted her own little chest. Her mommy wishes her wish could come true.

Moving on…

All of us know someone who needs encouragement in one way or another.

Take a few minutes out of your day and just do it. Some ideas?

  • Send a card to a widow whose husband passed a couple of months ago, sharing a fond memory you have of him (if you knew him). By that point, most folks have forgotten she is still alone and needing something to help fill the void, but she hasn’t and the loneliness is probably kicking in at a new depth.
  • For the teenager who struggles with school, but got a great report card, send an email or a note on social media letting him know how proud you are of his efforts. It helps teens to know others notice when they are doing well, and not just when they screw up. (We all know they get in enough trouble! 🙂
  • If you know a child who is painfully shy, take a minute to speak to her and let her feel heard and noticed, whether commenting on her drawngs or complimenting her outfit. Don’t push her too much and scare her, just pay attention. Your acknowledgement could help her come out of her shell, and will at least help her to know she isn’t invisible. (Spoken as a former social phobic young girl. 🙂 )
  • If you see a mommy struggling to get into the grocery store juggling little ones, cuppies, purse and diaper bag, open the door and compliment her on her cutiepies. You’ll help her feel better about the tough job of being a parent.
  • Encourage your children to be kind. Have them color pictures for grandparents, do thank you notes for those who do nice things for them, hug the elderly woman who always sits on the pew in front of you at church, or other little things that can brighten lives.
  • If you know someone is going through something you’ve been through already, share with them how you got through. Not in a judgmental way, just in a manner to let them know they aren’t alone and someone else has been there and survived.
  • Smile. Just smile at people. It takes less effort than scowling, and the trickle effect of your sunny mood can brighten someone’s sour face. 🙂

I could go on all day, but I won’t. The point I’m trying to make here is that you don’t have to do anything huge. Just do something small every day you’re blessed with the precious gift of life to spread kindness in the world. It makes a much bigger difference than you may ever know.

Now for the challenge:

I want to ask anyone who reads this to share at least one “small” kindness someone did for you that made a difference for you. Maybe it will inspire others to do the same for someone else, continuing the kindness bestowed on you. Please, please share!

Remember…

“You can change the world one act of random kindness at a time.”

To see the beginning of this series, head on over to Acts of Kindness.