Friday, December 24, 2010

A Gift Heavenly

Happy Birthday dear Jesus
You came here to free us
An innocent child
Pure and undefiled
How can we repay
What He accomplished that day?
That innocent child
Became so reviled
And, nailed to the tree,
He gave you and me
A gift heavenly
For eternity

Thank you, Jesus.  I love You.

Merry Christmas, from my shoebox!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Sweetest Gift Redux

After my last post about not remembering any childhood Christmas presents, I was bewildered.  How could I not remember even one gift?  Could my memory be that weak?

So I thought long and hard.  I thought and thought.  I tried to replay all the Christmases of the first decade or so of my life in my mind, attempting to envision my surprised face when opening gifts and following my eyes to what that gift might be.

And suddenly it hit me:  Madame Alexander!

Madame Beatrice Alexander founded the Alexander Doll Company in 1923 and was the first to create dolls based on licensed characters, as well as dolls with “sleepy” eyes (eyes that open and close).  Madame Alexander dolls are coveted by children and collectors alike to this day.

And one long ago Christmas in New Jersey, a young Silva received a Madame Alexander doll from her mother.

The doll’s name was Elise, and she was a ballerina.  About 18 inches long, she had dark hair pulled back in a bun.  She had dark brown eyes and the perfect pink lips.  She wore a pink tutu, tights, and ballet slippers.  She was exquisite!

I immediately knew she was extraordinary.  Although I was never really into dolls or Barbies, Elise was special.  She sat on my dresser for many years.  (I still have her somewhere in the house.)

Her beauty and value made me feel that I was beautiful and valuable to my mother.  My mom always made me feel that way anyway – every day of my life.  But that she would entrust me with something so clearly expensive and important made me feel extra special.

I guess it still isn’t about the actual gift now, is it?

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Sweetest Gift

Today I tried to remember the best Christmas present I ever received as a child.  It was a simpler time, and we definitely weren’t spoiled, but we got our fair share of gifts.

I thought and thought and I honestly could not remember not only my favorite Christmas present, but ANY Christmas present!

When I think about Christmases from my childhood, what I remember are the big family get-togethers.  We always celebrated on Christmas Eve.  We would either be with my father’s side of the family in Boston (about 25 of us then) or my mother’s side in New Jersey (about 17 of us then).  There would be commotion, laughter, lots of running around, and delicious food.  We would eat and play and sing and dance and wait impatiently until midnight to tear into the huge pile of gifts under the tree.

I remember making up skits with my cousins and performing them for the adults.

I remember one cousin in New Jersey screaming and jumping for joy when she unwrapped a  Menudo record!

I remember one of the older cousins would always dress up as Santa and we would sing for him before getting our presents.

I remember the hugs and love and warmth and peace and safety I felt being with my family and our extended family.

These sweet memories stand out more than any game or toy or clothing item I ever received.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pottery and Leather

Last week Jayson and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary.  It’s overwhelming to think how far we’ve come from where we started.  Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1.  Laughter ~ Every marriage has its share of heartache, but overall our laughter has definitely drowned out the tears.  My friendship with Jayson deepened dramatically after we each lost a parent in the same year.  Despite that pain, we can laugh together at the many joys we continue to experience.  We understand each other’s humor, and we can laugh at ourselves and each other.  And we do.  Often.

2.  Adventure ~ Jayson is outdoorsy.  I am not.  If I had married someone like myself, I would probably never venture into nature.  But thanks to Jayson’s gentle nudging (I can call it that... now), I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and into some interesting exploits.  I’ve rappelled down a mountainside and tried wakeboarding.  My life is infinitely more exciting with Jayson than it was before Jayson!

3.  Prayer ~ Something my husband insisted on very early in our relationship (soon after we started dating) was praying together every night.  I was very uncomfortable with this at first, as I didn’t used to like praying out loud.  But it has become a crucial component of our marriage.  It’s proven especially helpful during arguments, because, knowing that we are going to pray before going to sleep, we force ourselves to work out whatever our issue is and solve it so we can pray with a clean conscience.  Talk about not letting the sun go down on your anger!

4.  Encouragement ~ When someone knows you from the inside out, they can encourage you in a way that no one else can.  And it means more coming from that person.  It’s beautiful to be able to encourage each other out of love, with an accepting heart despite the outcome.

5.  Spiritual Growth ~ Being equally yoked has enabled both of us to grow closer to God.  I’ve learned to understand what spiritual headship means, as well as embrace God’s concept of submission.  I’ve grown so much in my faith because I married someone already strong in his.

6.  Unity ~ My definition of marriage is that of a power team for God.  I see us as one unit.  Yes, we each have our own interests, likes and dislikes, but we are unequivocally joined as we face the world and everything it throws at us.  We fight as one; we celebrate as one.

7.  Intimacy ~ By this I mean that no one knows me better than my spouse.  Who else would know that the way to my heart is French fries, and that I dislike flowers?  Sometimes it’s the little things that stand out.

8.  Balance ~ Our marriage is not perfect by any means, but one way we keep it healthy is by balancing each other out.  Where I’m extreme, Jayson mellows me out.  Where he panics, I calm him down.  We’re not two halves that make a whole – we’re two wholes that complement each other.  It’s a puzzle that I would never have put together, but God, in His infinite wisdom, made our pieces fit.

9.  Faithfulness ~ Marriage is an ongoing effort.  It’s continually keeping things fresh, exciting, open and genuine while meeting each other’s needs as well as staying personally fulfilled.

On that bridge over the Charles River, when Jayson asked on bended knee if I would be his helpmate, I entered into a marriage of three.  My wedding day was the happiest day of my life.  These past nine years have been ones of extreme growth, but we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.  And we’re looking forward to more.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

On Needles and Scraping Tools

I’m weird.  Before you jump to any disturbing conclusions, I say that because I genuinely enjoy visits to the doctor and dentist.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never had any horrid experiences with either one.  Or that needles and scraping tools don’t really bother me.

We had a very successful family visit to the dentist this afternoon.  Silas lay beautifully still while getting his teeth scraped and cleaned, and he even rinsed with fluoride – all without gagging or puking (like last time).  James even opened his mouth and let our dentist peek at his teeth.  Then, mercifully, the boys colored quietly while I got my teeth cleaned.  Even with the scraping, their conversation with each other was music to my ears.

I appreciate the access we have to healthcare in this country.  I will avoid any political slants here.  I really am grateful to be able to go to the doctor and dentist (even if it is costly).  I remember the extensive dental work that both of my parents needed as adults because dental health was not even a consideration when they grew up in the old country.

Am I going to whine about getting a shot, a filling, a Pap smear or a mammogram?  Absolutely not.  The momentary discomfort is worth the potential benefit of proactive and preventative care.

Please don’t skip out on caring for your body.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Live to Tell Everybody my Borderline Love Profusion

I was looking for something the other day and came across an album.  And by album I mean an actual 33 RPM record album.  It was on the very bottom of the bin, buried under my 4th grade report on the Bubonic Plague and an envelope full of my Girl Scout patches.

Like A Virgin.

I don’t know if I can properly convey the extent to which I was obsessed with Madonna.  To my young eyes, she was the epitome of cool.  I remember watching the video for “Burning Up” on MTV at my cousin’s house in New Jersey, mesmerized by her energy on the screen.  In the 6th grade my female classmates and I choreographed our own dance routine to “Lucky Star” to perform at our school’s talent show.  That same year I cut the fingertips off of my lace Easter gloves, much to my mother’s chagrin.  In the 8th grade I begged my mom to give me a perm (she was a hairdresser) so I could match Madonna’s waves in “Desperately Seeking Susan” (and how I coveted those studded boots!  Let’s just say the result kept my hair in a banana clip for the remainder of the school year.

If only it ended there.  The lace tights, black rubber bracelets, and bright red lipstick followed me through high school.  In the 11th grade some friends and I choreographed a dance routine to “Causing a Commotion” for the talent show at our youth group convention.  That same year I was devastated when Madonna cancelled her concert, to which I had tickets, due to issues with her throat.  When “Evita” came out, I cried in the theatre and felt some weird sense of pride that she had finally redeemed herself in the eyes of everyone who said she had no talent.  When Jayson and I got married, our first dance at the wedding reception was to “Crazy for You.”

I can’t say that I’m completely free from my Madonna mania.  Although I don’t agree with her lifestyle choices, her music still moves me to dance.  I admire her perseverance, her courage in life, and her work ethic.  She was never a role model, but she was certainly an influence.  I guess I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.

If only I still had my record player.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Slippery Slope

A sinful world where anything goes
I feel the sand between my toes
The boundaries have been erased
Morals continue to be defaced
Everyone can choose their own
belief system to condone
And yet I stand on solid ground
knowing the Truth to which I’m bound
Take care with what your heart and mind allow
Okay, I’m getting off my shoebox now

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crunchy Leaves Lead to Fresno

I love Boston in the fall.  My favorite season is expressed most beautifully in the city where I grew up – that gorgeous foliage, crisp air, and wonderful Thanksgiving time of year.  I still remember the sound of the crunch as I stepped on leaves while walking home from school, and how they felt under my boots.  You couldn’t resist going out of your way to step on that single, perfectly crunch-ready leaf on the sidewalk.

Despite all that, I always knew I would eventually leave Boston.  Even in high school I was keenly aware that there was a world out there waiting to be explored.  I remember friends at our high school graduation crying their eyes out – I thought they were crazy!  Why stay in high school when there is so much life to live and experience and discover?

My sights were set on New York City or Paris.  Bright lights, big city – entertainment, fashion, music.  I couldn’t wait.

Fresno?  Not so much.

And yet, after visiting many cities in the United States and Canada, as well as Armenia, Karabagh, Amsterdam and Spain, my path led me to Fresno.

Surprisingly, even to me, I love it here.  I would not want to live anywhere else right now.  (Although I wouldn’t say no to a vacation condo in NYC or a summer home in Paris.)

Autumns in Fresno aren’t so bad, either.  There are even leaves to crunch on.

Life takes you to unexpected places sometimes.  When the fear and trepidation are faced and put aside, the real joy begins.  And I’m so thankful for it.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


When something is good, I want more of it.  For example, chocolate.  Where the serving size is two pieces, I’ll eat three, and then one more for good measure.

The same applies to friendship.  I don’t mean in terms of quantity, but quality.  I don’t like to just scratch the surface with people.  I can’t stand small talk.  I want to build deep relationships with those I care about or with whom I click.  My tiers of friendship go from acquaintances to friends to close friends to those who are more like sisters to me.  I like to know peoples’ history, where they come from, what their families are like, what makes them tick, and what comprises their dreams.

Having limited free time, I love enjoying it with those in my closest tiers.  I enjoy making the effort, designing get-togethers, and planning dinners (especially if I’m not cooking).  I like having focused conversations.  I want to walk away having learned something new about the person.  I love how my heart grows as I build stronger connections with people.

Another example is God’s Word.  This may not apply to all of you, but it’s important to me.  I want the real thing – I don’t want fluff.  I want to dig in and be filled and walk away hungering for more.  I want the Truth, even if it isn’t always easy to swallow.

Chocolate, friends, and the Word are three things I can’t get enough of, and the list goes on.  What’s important to you?  Don’t settle for the superficial, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper.  The result is usually worth the effort.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I despise Halloween.  Wait, despise may be a harsh word.  I loathe Halloween.  It really leaves a bad taste in my mouth, despite all the chocolate that accompanies it.

I appreciate that it has become a social holiday, when kids dress in cutesy costumes and have parades at school.  But there are evil forces out there, and bad things happen on Halloween night.

I’d just as soon turn off our porch lights on the 31st and be done with it.  But now that we have children, I feel very conflicted.  Do I ban Halloween from our family traditions and calendar, and risk my boys feeling left out on this day each year?  Or do I give in to the social pressure and just keep it “fun” and let them dress up?

Thankfully our church (like many others) hosts a Harvest Festival on October 31 each year.  Yes, it’s an attempt to sanitize an ugly custom.  But it has become a huge outreach to the church’s downtown community, with more than 400 neighborhood friends attending and receiving a free dinner, games and candy, as well as hearing Bible stories and taking home a Spanish-language Bible.

So I will begrudgingly dress my boys up and take them to church on Halloween night.  We’ll have fun and take pictures and I’ll count down the minutes until we can go home.  Is it November yet?

Oh, and one more thing on the topic of costumes.

Since when does Halloween make it okay for girls to dress in a provocative and revealing manner?  Why does “sexy” have to become the prefix for every disguise?  Sexy nurse?  Sexy cheerleader?  Sexy saloon girl?  What’s next… Sexy Candy Corn?

Come on, ladies.  Have some pride.  Cover your assets and be confident in who you are, not what you can show off.  Know your worth and demand the respect you deserve.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's About Time

Most people identify who they are with what they do.  For mothers, this is especially true, as mommyhood can be an all-consuming job.  I thought recently about the things that I am:

        Daughter of God
        Grammar police
        Etiquette advocate
        Copy Editor

This last one was a long time in the making.

As a kid, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My sister always wanted to be a lawyer, from as young as nine years old (and she is one now).  In sixth grade my father wanted me to be a pharmacist.  I once said I wanted to be famous.  But for what?

I knew the areas I had no interest in pursuing:  medicine, law and business.  I was not good at science.  History bored me.  I liked math and languages, but how do you choose a career based on a love of calculus and French?  Even at Boston College, I waited until the last possible moment to declare my major (Communications).  I had a dream of being an entertainment broadcaster.  However, working to pay my way through college did not allow me the opportunity to take unpaid internships at various media outlets, which was the only way to get your foot in the door.  I guess I wasn’t passionate enough about it to really pursue it, or I would have found a way.

During my senior year in college I took a job as office manager at a weekly newspaper.  That led to writing and, sometimes, editing for them.  I realized that I really enjoyed writing – especially about faith, music, fashion and family.  OK, so I was narrowing in on my “future.”  I continued to write (freelance) while working my day jobs, and built a portfolio.

And then I got married and my beautiful boys came along, shifting my focus just a bit.  I love being a mommy – it’s easily the most challenging yet heart-filling job I’ve ever held.  But time becomes an issue, and when combing your hair each day is an achievement, it leaves little time for writing or anything else of a secondary or tertiary nature.

What I discovered, however, was that copy editing (or proofreading) was a much less time-consuming task for me.  I am able to do it after the boys go to sleep, and it gives me much-needed mental stimulation.  Playing Chutes & Ladders and making mac & cheese can only take you so far intellectually.  I realized, quite recently, that this was my “AHA” moment.

And so, at the age of almost-37, I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up – a copy editor.  Four years of college (at a grand total of $70,000 + books), many electives (that wasted a chance at a double major), and 15 years later, I know what I want to do with my life – aside from mommyhood, of course.

For those of you in college (or out of college) who still don’t know what you’re doing with your lives, please don’t despair.  But don’t just sit around, either.  Get a job, stay busy, pursue your interests, and pray for God’s direction.

It’ll come to you eventually.  It did for me.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.