Posts tagged love
You are the result of...

Sometimes we get so focused on the romantic love that we forget all the other love in our life. 💕 No matter who (if anyone) you call sweetheart remember these beautiful words from Linda Hogan, "Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands."

You carry so much love...

What words to share? So much romance and poetry in words of the heart and I choose THESE. ❤️Remade into hearts and pinks for the occasion. 💕If we are going to celebrate love this week, let it begin with a heaping helping of love for ourselves. ❤️ If this one struck you as words that hit home, go to my stories and grab it as a wallpaper. You can also find it in the Freebie Highlights. ❤️ Take this one all in and pass it on to anyone who could use it, too.

A letter to M on her 9th birthday

My oldest turns nine today, and I'm kinda emo. I'm dedicating today's post to her. She's an avid supporter of Pars Caeli so I hope she likes it! Forgive the gush.

Dear M,

Happy birthday to you, sweets, and congratulations on nine amazing years of life!

I write this to you from the cozy couches in the art room, looking over at our Christmas tree that every year transforms into your birthday tree. We used to decorate your birthday tree with princess lights and pink and purple gingham ribbon, and now the handmade paper snowflakes and sparkling tinsel feel more like your beautiful girl self. I love looking through all the photos of you that we add to the tree, even the one from the first "trip" you and I took in the wheelchair out of the hospital.

One day you might experience that feeling I had when I carried you to our new home together - just a few pounds old, all wrapped up tight in your yellow blanket - wondering how I could have been chosen to receive such beauty. Moments like that are sheer gifts of grace. I did nothing to deserve, but God richly blessed.

And I've been so blessed every moment since that day, with the keen, imaginative, and kind gift of your love. You are rare find, sweet girl; the combination of compassion with curiosity, sincerity with humor, and talent with generosity.

I see new sparks of you growing each day as you learn the world and take only what feels right to you. You are strong, more than you know, and you have such a mind - that challenges and pushes, and imagines and creates. You gobble up new knowledge and reinvent for all of us to enjoy.

But it is your heart that's won me over, the exuberance in your eyes, the softness of your smile.

Stay tender as the lessons get harder and you want to get angry with yourself. You are perfectly made, I saw it from the first time I met you.

Enjoy nine - you're going to add more to this year than I could ever imagine!!

I'm so blessed to be your mom.

I love you. Always, Mom


xoxo, MJ


Pennies for Love: The Final

Joy and I have had a blast thinking up and sharing some of the ways we share love with the ones we love the most! Pennies for Love's final post is up, and Joy has a simple way to make 2014 full of romance!

"One of my favorite things about the new year is looking forward to all the little annual rituals that we get to enjoy again. A lot of those things involve travel, but as I began to plan, I thought that it would be nice to also include smaller activities that we’d like to do together.

The fact of the matter is that we’re always busy and sometimes we waste away entire weekends, when we could be having more fun if we’d had a little forethought!"

Huge thanks to Joy for her brainchild of Pennies for Love. Joy and I will be bringing in a friend for a new February series! Stay tuned!

Check out all the other Pennies for Love posts!

xoxo, MJ


Pennies for Love: A Note for Thanksgiving

One week from today, Americans will gather in the homes of friends and relatives to enjoy each other's recipes and companionship. Our traditions may vary from home to home, but the sentiment of gratitude threads through all of the football watching, strained family moments, and even food preparation/clean up.

On this week's Pennies for Love, Joy urges us to slow down before the day and write a note. Pen a message to the one you love: your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend. And let them know just how much they mean to you every day of the year.

It begins with a simple "I am grateful for..."

Joy is sharing an example of this practice at work in her life and some simple suggestions to get you started on your note of thanks.

We will be hosting Thanksgiving in our home, as we've done for 10 of the last 11 years. Filling my home wih the ones I love most and the smells of Thanksgiving is one of my favorite experiences of the year. On the day, I love the hustle of timing our courses correctly and the bustle of entertaining children and adults with projects and stories.

But before all of this crowd pleasing occupies my time and heart, I'm going to sit down and write one simple note of thanksgiving to the man I love.

Thanks, Joy! And happy Thanksgiving.

xoxo, MJ



Pennies for Love: While I'm gone

They'd always begin the same way:

Good morning Beautiful, A big hug and kiss to start your day.

Every morning for three years as we lived 90 miles away from one another and he was studying in law school, my boyfriend/fiance would send me an email before he went to sleep so that when I opened my computer at work the following morning, I had something special greeting me.

It was like opening a present every. single. morning. He'd incorporate inside jokes, funny memories, future dreams and wishes, inspirations.

I have two large binders that are filled with these love notes.

It's a rare relationship that allows two individuals to spend every moment together (would we even desire it to be so?), and sometimes those penniless gestures made while we apart from one another are the sweetest.

I've been away from my home, my husband, my kiddos more this year than ever. It's been a little sad as well as enriching for all of us, and inspired a bit of nostalgia as well.

While away, I was able to send silly texts and make late night phone calls with my husband, just like old times. Comfortable and familiar, and yet not.

For my kids, I prepared all of their lunch box notes and snack bags so that they could feel like a bit of me was with them in the middle of their days. If you follow the hashtag #lunchboxnotes, you've seen these already (or follow @parscaeli on Instagram).

My 8-year old sent me texts from her Ipod while I was away, and I received many sweet emoticon-filled messages. She is becoming more and more interested in photography so she began sending me pictures of beautiful leaves she saw or silly faces her siblings made.

This evolved into creating memes for me to enjoy. This one made me stop in my tracks. A gesture of love and appreciation while I was gone (and the best use of any selfie that I've seen).

How can you spread love while you are gone, even that be for just the workday or evening? It costs only pennies... or even less.

xoxo, MJ

A new series: Pennies for Love

Hi friends,

I've been planning a special treat for you! The amazing Joy of Frock Files has agreed to do a little collaboration, and I'm delighted to be able to share all the love with you!

Every other week, right here and there on Thursdays, we'll be focusing on easy, sweet, affordable ways to spend time and share the love with the special someone in your life. When my hubs and I fell in love, time was ours to soak in, travels were easy, and our priorities were just us.

Hop, skip, and labor to today, 11 years into marriage with three little people, car payments and mortgage, two full-time professions and a whole bunch of wisdom learned along the way. I know each new gray hair, and I've seen each dignified wrinkle add to his expressions. The sheer mass quantity of the experiences that we've shared in the 16 years we've known each other amaze me.

  1. So, let's go back to Italy and celebrate!! It's in the works but not for a few years...
  2. Let's buy a lake house and relax and flirt like we used to. A great possibility but down the road...
  3. Let's book the sitter and run away for the weekend... even that empties the wallet.

And purchases aside, spending more time gazing and less time computing would be a great switch of gears for us both.

Join us as we explore small gestures of big love - ways to show your sweetie just how much he/she means to you without spending your nest egg doing so.

Today Joy's sharing a little list of small gestures you can do right now that will completely make someone feel adored. So good...



Celebrate the Normal & the Big, Giant Wonderful

Happy Community Day, friends! Another fabulous edition of Celebrate the Normal is coming at you in just a minute. Before we go to those beauties, I have a question for you.

When was the last time you poured out a big, giant wonderful gesture of love? For your significant person, your kids, your mom ...even your dog? Or maybe this is easier, when was the last time you received a grand, sweeping gift that says, "you mean the whole kit and kaboodle to me." We all repeat the token, "it's the little things that matter..." but what about the really big things?

It's been a busy summer for me, friends, and a busy summer for my kids and hubs. We've done a lot of learning, working, and transporting and had a ton of fun in the process, but all of that awesome can leave one a bit drained and unmotivated to take on domestic rituals. Dishes have sat around too long, floors have cared for their own tribes of dust bunnies, bathrooms (well, I'll leave out the detail here), my laundry room is now our entire basement with clothes just wishing to find a home.

Connect this state of chaos with the responsibility of hosting two sets of wonderful families, both of whom have not been to our home in years, and both of whom we'd love to entertain in our home. I've been working Wednesday evenings in the office, and last Wednesday my hubs was taking care of basic cleaning tasks, bathing children, and getting them to sleep. I arrived home near midnight, promising that I'd set the alarm for super early and finish up what needed to still be done. Of course I said that even as my body was begging for rest, and my mind was well aware that, realistically, there was no way that I was getting even half of the stuff done.

I set the alarm for 4:30 am, and we both snuggled in for a few hours rest.

Bing. Cue my son coming in at 7:15 am to wake me up. I roll over and mutter something of hopeless defeat to my husband. He mutters back, "it's all done."

Not hearing or comprehending, I stumbled off to the shower and attempted to narrow down the home tasks to what I could do in sweeping strokes. Sprinting out of the shower, throwing clothes on my still-wet body, I sort of notice that the bathroom is clean (perhaps I'm just imagining it?), and stammering down the stairs I see the shiny floors, the clean laundry, and I detect a new, fresh smell coming from the kitchen.

I find my husband.

"What? How did this happen?"

Seems that my husband allowed me to fall asleep (which likely took a whole 5-10 seconds) and proceeded to clean, polish, scrub, dust, and reorganize for the next three hours. He then returned to the snuggle (I, of course, had not moved at all), and racked up a whopping 2 hours of sleep.

Friends, I married a sweet man. He showers me with attention and affection, but, even for him, this was a huge, sweeping gesture of love. And for me it was the equivalent of the Christmas commercials with the Lexus SUV all wrapped up with a giant red bow and parked in the snowy driveway.

I love him, and I've been challenged to think, "When will I show my love in big, giant wonderful ways?" How bout you?

July 17 ~ roglows

The kids and I made this "stained glass" piece yesterday. ~ jenmygatt

Lottie's first sparkler ~ Dani

Oatmeal: it's what for dinner. Don't have time to make a big dinner, so it's pumpkin peanut butter oatmeal before we head out the door. The kids think they have hit the jackpot. ~ Meagan

She's a blonde ~ melbella97

Toes in the sand ~ erin_lily

Tomato hues ~ M.J.

Biking in Canada yesterday. I want to buy our own bikes so we can ride around Seattle! ~ Elizabeth

Keep your eyes open for little acts of love coming your way this week, and set into motion your next grand gesture of love! Join us next week for another great round on Celebrate the Normal!

xoxo, MJ

Itty Bitty Lovelies You'll Need

Well, hello there, Monday! This week is going to be sweet, and I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy that you stopped over to say hey today.

Our weekend was a slow one, just as I like them in February. And I, a lover of the sun, was surprised by my disappointment over the bright rays greeting me on Saturday morning. I was wishing for just a bit more darkness to let me get a few more winks of sleep. Maybe I'm turning into a bear? Certainly my eating habits are becoming closer to that of a hibernating animal. Nevertheless, more time snuggling and resting is good for my soul.

To start off this week with a little extra kick, I'm sending you three items that you may not have even KNOWN you needed (including a special list that will make your husband fall in love with Meg forever, trust me and read on).

The Perfect Scent


I'm down to my last drips of a favorite perfume, and I'm ready to try something new. I found this amazing guide to perfumery over at Design Mom that I just had to share with you. It talks about the difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum (I've always wondered), examines the categories of scents (I'm citrus all the way, how bout you?), and even suggests what might work best for you based on your skin type. I feel so much more knowledgeable and excited to purchase my next perfume.

Creativity with Chicken


We eat a lot of chicken in our house. My kids joke that I know 20 different ways to make chicken, but, in reality I have 3 go to dishes, and I'm always looking for new ways to spice up an economical, child-pleasing main meal. Enter these great ideas from TheKitchn. 10 new ways (for me) to cook up fun, flavorful meals. These are all approachable and interesting for both adults and children. On our menu plan for this week, BBQ chicken with carmelized onions, and planning on having the Thai chicken in weeks ahead.

Every Husband's Favorite Blogger


Meg from Meg in Progress is hilarious, charming, and one dynamo writer. She's been sweeping the internets with her great posts on relationships and whooing the world on some live TV interviews. This post has gotten a lot of attention, and for good reason. Meg outlines for all of wifeys just why we should have sex with our husbands every. single. day. Go read this one and then send it to your husband and watch him smile.

My Itty Bitty Lovely is not quite as intriguing but more of a happy reminder. Always give yourself something to look forward to. It can be small or gigantic. We all need to cultivate hope. The hubs and I booked tickets to Wicked for my birthday (in May), and I am super excited. I loooove musicals, and I enjoyed the book so it's something small but awesome to remember during the windchill of -10 kinda days.

Let's kick this week off right!


Living: A Call to Action

Here we are at Wednesday, friends! I hope this week's going well for you!!  We're switching gears, and I'm offering us a challenge today in the shape of this here blog post by my friend, Colleen. She is wife, mother of 5 (adorables), and a freelance writer for various online Catholic publications (phew!). You can find her on the web at Meditations of a Stay at Home Mom, where she pontificates about important things like potty training and sippy cups. And now, Miss Colleen...

When my husband, John, and I were first married, we bought a starter home in a cute little neighborhood where all the homes were practically piled on top of one another. One night, we were sitting in our living room when there was a knock on the door. It was the mother of Jane, the woman who lived across the street from us.

Jane’s mother needed a stepladder and a telephone and she asked if she could borrow ours. As my husband scrambled to find what she needed, I tried to talk to Jane’s emotionally overwrought mother. She was distracted and preoccupied and it was obvious she needed help.

“Is everything ok?” I asked her.

“Jane died a few weeks ago,” she stated simply, turning her back on me so she could look at her daughter’s now empty house.

I stood in my doorway, dumbfounded. Mosquitos buzzed at our heads and moths flocked to the dim porch light overhead.

“She died?” I repeated, softly, incredulously. “How?”

“She was diagnosed with cancer about six months ago. It came on fast and furious and the chemo and the meds weren’t much help to her. She was real sick at the end. She suffered a lot and now she’s gone,” she said as tears slid out of her eyes and down her cheeks. She sniffled quietly.
I choked down my own fresh set of water works.

How could my neighbor, a woman who lived only ten steps away from me, be sick for months and I not have a clue?

How could she have died and I not know it?

I drove by her house, admired her beautiful landscaping everyday, and she was sick? And now she’s gone?

I immediately thought about what I would have done if I had known:

  • I would have made her a meal.
  • I would have brought her fresh flowers.
  • I would have made her homemade cards and delivered them with a stack of smutty, celebrity magazines.
  • I would have done something, however small, to make this woman’s final days brighter.
But I never even knew she was ill, so I never had the opportunity.

Isn’t it strange that we live in a über technologically connected society so emotionally disconnected?

The late, great Mother Teresa said,

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty-- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
You, the person reading this right now, probably live in a neighborhood where people feel unloved.
I know I do.
America is one of the most advanced nations in the World, yet the people who live around us are dying from loneliness and lack of concern.

What are we going to do about it? Will we love our neighbors or let them die?

St. John Baptist de la Salle offers a solution, albeit challenging:

“Adapt yourself with gracious and charitable compliance to all your neighbor’s weaknesses. In particular, make a rule to hide your feelings in many inconsequential matters. Give up all bitterness toward your neighbor, no matter what. And be convinced that your neighbor is in everything better than you. This will not be difficult if you keep even a little aware of yourself. It will give you the ability to overcome your feelings of resentment. Each day look for every possible opportunity to do a kindness for those you do not like. After examining yourselves on this matter every morning, decide what you are going to do, and do it faithfully with kindness and humility.”
We aren’t called to like everybody, but we are called to love them and our neighborhoods, our communities, the people we encounter everyday, are a good place to start.

Some suggestions for serving your neighbor:

--If you’ve never met the people who live in the house next door, go introduce yourself! Today!

--The next time you make dinner, double the recipe. Attach a little note and bring it to the house next door.

--On Christmas or Easter, deliver handmade (or store bought!) cards and delicious sweets. (This is the one time of the year where it’s socially acceptable to be a Christ-bearer! Take advantage of it!)

--On Halloween or Valentine’s Day (or any other holiday!), make goodie bags and have your kids hang them from neighbors’ doors with little notes.

--Mow a neighbor’s yard just because.

--Bring fresh cut flowers or a potted plant to the house next door.

--Organize a neighbor hood potluck. Set up lawn chairs and grills, block off the streets and have everyone bring their family’s favorite dish. Give all the kids sidewalk chalk and bubbles and let them decorate the place.

--Purchase Sparklers for the kids on July 4 and invite the littles in your neighborhood to come share the fun!

----If none of the above are viable options, pray daily for your neighbor. Beg God to bless them, every day and in everyway.

What, says you, are your favorite ways to love your neighbor?

It's a good mom day when...

My mom is fabulous at a great many things. Some I recognized even as an awkward, mall-bang-wearing (not a word), self-conscious teen. Many, many more I have discovered like golden Easter eggs in the great hunt of parenthood.

She and my dad have been so gracious to come and stay with our family during the first few weeks home with each of my new babes. And, let me tell you, my mom can whip a house in to tidy, sparkling clean order like nobody I know, and she can do it with breakneck speed and still be raring to cuddle or cajole her precious grandchildren.

Growing up in my house, with my mom as the lone chef, I sat down to a hot meal every night, served family style with just the right amount for each of us and always little waste.

During my new mommy days, when my mom and dad stayed with us, my mom put on the apron (literally) as head chef, coming in with her meals and menus already set and a grocery list preplanned for my father's day trips. Those weeks, though exhausting and surreal, were totally heavenly and peaceful for me as my sweet mother added the delicious smells and necessary order that my new (and now forever) chaotic life so needed.

My mother knows how to present a meal. She presents a snack. She presents a drink. In creating her menus, she considers nutrition as well as color combinations, food placement, and dish selections. In my home, I watched her find new serving dishes, carefully fluff and arrange the food on my plates, and fold my cheap paper napkins into something special.

This gift is one of those I overlooked as a youngling, and one that I, now in her shoes as a mom of three, totally get. And I realize that all of these little (and significant) ways that she cared for me through her meals and treats and presentations made me enjoy food more and in the end make some better choices.

We all know just how beautiful the colors and textures of food can be, and we're blessed to have so many beautiful food blogs out there to elicit intense salivation (check out Dawn's amazing food photos that I swear I can smell through the screen). 

But before I had those, I had my mom, and I'm trying in little ways to incorporate her energy. I completely feel like a rockstar mom when our food looks like I want to take out my iPhone and snap a shot (and I get a great laugh out of little L asking me why I'm taking pictures of grapes). My children have a visceral reaction, too, though they would not be able to name it, much as I was unable to do the same in my parent's home.

It's a good mom day when the grapes are sliced and placed in a pretty white bowl. I've achieved the simple, true act of pouring out the love I've been so graciously given.

Love ya, Mom.


MJ Kocovskifood, kids, love, mom, style