Somebody Leave the Light On

This is for you, Mom.

This song takes me back and forth – the way I cried out for you in a song I made up as I rocked my crib across the floor. (I still remember the rhythm and melody but thought Tori Amos was WAY better suited today) The way I still wake up out of dreams – heart pounding, stomach in my throat, words at the tip of my tongue. I’ll always rock or crawl across the floor to you (there’s a Clapton reference too!) and I’ll always seek those words. Maybe that’s the greatest gift you ever gave me.

The way we seek and find words, shaping them out of our stomachs into our throats – hearts pounding – forming the images of horror and unspeakable joy, pain and relief, ecstatic humor and rainbow sprinkles and road trips. And always, always, always finding and seeking out the best. You have been giving me words for so long. They’re so ancient – and so new – ripe and ready to pick at any moment. Yet so long and buried, they have grown mold and decay. Still, they need to rise.

We give them life. Old and new life. We have always lifted them up, and they lift us up in return.

And really, who knows what can happen? It’s all just so.. possible and ALIVE, isn’t it?

This is my Mother's Day tribute to you, thanking you for one of the greatest gifts you've given me other than life. And that's words. Magical. Simple. Words

When I was pregnant with Scarlet, my mom gave me the journal she had used to record my babyhood. It started with the day I was born, and continued until 1984 – when I was four. For two years, I kept it safely in a desk drawer, even though my mom kept hinting at me to read it. I dug it out by chance when Scarlet was 18-months-old because I wanted to see how I had been walking and talking at that same age. It was all there for me – in a book! Like how Scarlet and Des will one day see their entire babyhoods spread out on the pages of this blog. My mom waited two years for me to find what was in those pages.

This is my Mother's Day tribute to you, thanking you for one of the greatest gifts you've given me other than life. And that's words. Magical. Simple. Words

Here are the last two posts of my baby book. The first post was written almost three months after he died. The second post was written only about a few weeks after we found out we were expecting Scarlet. She was the first grandchild.

Sept. 26, ’84

“Dearest Tammy,

Three weeks before your fourth birthday, your daddy died. You had been at a birthday party at Shonghum Lake and Lindsay had been to our lake. I picked you both up and we went home. You saw Daddy’s car in the driveway and said, “Look, Mommy. Daddy’s home – the best daddy in the world.” Inside we found Daddy in bed. I bathed you two and you both wanted to kiss Daddy. You went into the bedroom and you both told him you loved him and he was the best daddy in the world.

He felt so uncomfortable and so I told you to kiss his arm so he wouldn’t have to turn over. After I fed you both, I was in the kitchen. I never heard your daddy get up. We all heard him crash in the hall. Lindsay ran to Eileen’s for help.

Carol De Meo and Richard Campbell began giving Daddy CPR. You and Lindsay were taken to Tony and Aggie’s house. Daddy was taken to the hospital. You and Lindsay saw him taken away. You then went to the Campbells’ house and they put your pajamas on you. Then you were carried home to me. I took you in my bedroom and put you on my bed. You both were asking about Daddy. I told you that Daddy had died. You said we needed a new Daddy. I told you his body had died but that the part of him that loved us, dreamed, and thought thoughts would always be with us and I felt he would watch over us.

You and Lindsay slept with me that night. You didn’t talk much over the next few days but on the day of Daddy’s funeral you told Judy Kaplan you’d never see him again. A few days later, you wouldn’t get out of bed. I said to you that maybe you wanted to talk. You said, “I’ll never see Daddy again, will I?”

We took you to a family counselor about 6 weeks later. When he would talk about Daddy, you would giggle and hide behind a chair. This last visit you told him he was scary but maybe you wouldn’t run behind the chair.

You talk about Daddy a lot – how you and he made funny faces together, how he found you the horsie swimming tube you wanted after your nap one day, how he took you to the mall and unlocked the car…

One morning you looked real sad. I tried to get you to talk. Finally you said, “I wish Daddy would come back.” The next day you added “right now.” Sometimes you tell me you want a new daddy but I remind you that our pain and sadness would remain and we would still miss Daddy. This is a time of sadness for us.

One day you said, “It isn’t nice that Daddy died.”

I am trying so hard to help us all through this, Tammy. Your daddy loved you like crazy and I hope you can keep a treasury of memories of him.”

November 24, 2008

“…and indeed you have kept your treasury of memories, Tamara. Once, in our Florida house, you told me that while you dreamed of playing in our front yard, Daddy sat on the porch and watched you, watched you dream.

I am hoping you will enjoy this journal from the past and perhaps continue writing, from your perspective, of all the adventures you are having; you will have.

I thought that I had written more in this book. I sort of remember writing in Lindsay’s journal on later birthdays. I know for years, you didn’t like your birthday. Well, I always had a difficult time too. Perhaps, that’s why I didn’t write more. But, do you know what? I love your birthday now and I think you, too, are having lovely celebrations. Why? Because for one thing, we have truly moved on. It’s not that we forget our other life, it’s that we have integrated it, woven it into the wool of who we are now, who we have become.

I began this journal so I would tell you what you were like as my baby girl. I hope you enjoy the story of “Little Nunu.” I remember wondering if I was doing “it right” as if every 6-month-old in the entire country napped from 2pm to 4pm every day, as if there was a universal “right” for everyone combined. What I learned as a mommy is that each child has her own “rights.” Every child needs her own special kind of parenting, a blend of his/her needs, what is workable, and lots of love mixed in.

I am so proud of who you have grown into. I am intoxicated by your story and know that destiny and magic have brought you and Cassidy together.

I know you will be sensitive, creative and compassionate parents.

How lucky for me to have this wonderful connection to and with you. How lucky I am to be a part of your adventure. How lucky I am to have given birth to you.

I love you forever,



If you’re able to pick your jaw off from the ground, I’ll leave you here, only because as much as she has given me the gift of words, she also has given me the gift of wordlessness. And that’s where I am today. Be good to yourselves, everyone.


I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “Oh, Mother..” You can link up HERE.

Oh, mother..

DIY Surprise “Exploding” Photo Album For Mother’s Day

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HallmarkForMom #CollectiveBias

This beautiful exploding photo album looks like a paper box but it's actually a surprise! So easy to make. The perfect #MothersDay gift! #HallmarkForMom #ad

Honestly. This. It’s this. What I’m about to show you is SO COOL and SO MUCH fun! I wouldn’t let you down!

photo album

I think you probably know by now about my awesome mom. My mom has been an artist/art teacher for about 40 years now. She expresses her thoughts, opinions, experiences and DREAMS through art. I used to be her art assistant and I’ve taken note of the projects the kids really took to the most, and I use them with my own kids. It amazes me how imaginative they are.


Mother’s Day is sort of my jam. And I loved it long before I became a mom, but I’ll never forget that first Mother’s Day when I was pregnant with Scarlet. Cassidy gave me a surprise box! He decorated the outside of a beautiful box and filled the inside with ultrasound and maternity pictures. I was already about eight months along at that point, and had accumulated quite a bit of baby “souvenirs.” I loved his meaningful way of presenting them to me, and he also gave me a gorgeous card.

We will definitely circle back to that a few times!

gifts for Mother's Day

Also, you know that I’m a greeting card girl. I love to peruse the Hallmark Signature cards to pick out the PERFECT cards for any occasions – and sometimes it’s just to say, “I’m thinking about you!” Aren’t random greeting cards the best?? This isn’t random, though. My grandmother lived to age 100, and we’d send her a card and a plant every year. This year I nod my head to every wonderful mother I know – but mainly my sisters, sister-in-law, mom, and two mothers-in-law. My mom has always loved surprise boxes – big or little boxes filled with individually wrapped gifts. You never know what you’re going to get!

surprise box

She was visiting over the weekend and even though this is a gift for her, I used her amazing diligence and art direction. You’ll see her hands in some of the photos! Those are incredible hands – they have been making art for many decades. She helped me with the overall construction of the project – a surprise photo album disguised as a pretty paper box – but she didn’t see the final touches! The kids and I worked hard to pick out prints, cut them, glue them, and apply stickers, writing, and washi tape. They also helped to pick out Hallmark Signature Mother’s Day cards from Walmart. There’s an incredible selection:

Hallmark Signature Mother’s Day cards

Hallmark Signature Mother’s Day cards

So what do you make for the special mother in your life? How about an “exploding” photo album? It will be a big surprise to her, and she’ll be able to show off awesome photos of her family with this neat, pretty box. It’s portable and full of surprises!

I suggest a small gift on the inside, along with the photo album, and then a Hallmark Signature card on the outside!

Mother's Day

DIY Mother's Day gifts


This beautiful exploding photo album looks like a paper box but it's actually a surprise! So easy to make. The perfect #MothersDay gift! #HallmarkForMom #ad

What You Need:

4-6 pretty pieces of 12″ x 12″ thick cardstock (two for extra, just in case)
Pencil, Ruler, Scissors, glue stick, X-ACTO blade or something similar
A bunch of your favorite photo prints – go crazy for the mom in your life
Patience, diligence, creativity, and help. Help is always good for DIY projects

What You Do:

1 – Start with the outermost layer, and use a pretty paper! We used flowers for ours! Mark your paper with your ruler every 4″ along the border. Then connect your marks with straight lines. The ruler is important for this part! It will look like a checkerboard when it’s done. This might have been the most time-consuming part of the project. I had help!

DIY art projects

photo album

2 – Now, make your “walls” of your box. Cut off the four corners of your “checkerboard” so that you’re left with this:

Mother's Day

3 – Fold your paper to create four walls, and make sure the pretty side is showing as the outside.

Mother's Day gifts

4 – Now you’re making the inner layers. Layers! That’s what this is all about – to get that “exploding” part of the box. The layers will hold all your gorgeous photos. You’re going to make middle layers that are identical to the first one, but the measurements will get smaller each time. Get it? They all have to fit in each other! So trim your middle layer cardstock to 10.5″ x 10.5″. Then, mark your paper at ever 3.5″ all around the border to create a checkerboard like the 4″ one, but smaller!

gifts for Mom

5 – Cut the corner and fold it into the first one! For the third inner layer, trim your paper to 9″ x 9″, and create your checkerboard with 3″ marks. Cut your corners again and fold up your walls. You should now have three layers.

Mother's Day

Hallmark Signature

6 – Lastly, make your lid. Trim your final piece of cardstock/paper to about 6″ x 6″. Create a 1″ border around all four sides of the stock. Start at the bottom right corner of your cardstock and cut a vertical line up the horizontal line to make a “flap.”

Do this to every corner. There should be four, obviously.

Hallmark Signature Greeting Cards

7 – Fold the cardstock along the inner border to create the sides of your box lid. You’ll have to glue your flaps to the sides. A final step would be to glue the bottoms of the layers together so the layers all fit nicely together and aren’t loose.

Greeting Cards for Mother's Day

8 – Here’s the fun part. Glue decorations. Cut up prints. Glue on prints. Make your photo album!

DIY Mother's Day crafts

DIY Mother's Day crafts

DIY Mother's Day crafts

9 – Make it so uniquely YOU! Stickers, ribbons, bows, expressive photos!

10 – Don’t forget to pick out a special Hallmark Signature card to accompany this photo album. Mother’s Day = Covered. There is nothing like sending a paper card and your loved one gets to hold it in her hands and know you picked it out just for her! You wrote in it just for her! Hallmark offers a wide range of gorgeous cards at Walmart. From Seasonal to Special Occasions, there’s a card for everything and everyone. The countdown is on! We have 16 days until Mother’s Day! That’s it!

Once again, Walmart is featuring a collection of NEW Hallmark Signature cards for Mother’s Day. This line of premium, handcrafted greeting cards will make you happy. I had a lot of fun picking out three special ones for moms in my life:

Mother's Day

Hallmark Signature

Hallmark Signature

Hallmark Signature

Lastly, Des demonstrates how to “surprise” the Mom in your life with an exploding photo album:

Want additional digital coupon offers and Mother’s Day inspiration? Then click here for savings!

digital coupons

And are you looking for that special card to speak to your heart? Be dazzled here.

Happy Photo Album Making!