Merry and Bright…

I woke up today and said to Lucy “Do you think Santa came?”… even in her deep sleep after 8am her eyes popped open and she looked like a fast zombie as she scurried off the bed and down the stairs. In true Lucy form she wanted to be the official ‘first awake’ person. She eyed all of the stockings, one for each of us and our creatures… in our Musto Zoo. She snuck a peek into the hissing cockroach stocking and laughed when she saw Santa brought oranges. The Fiddler Crabs and fish got new décor for their habitats and the rats new chew toys. Once she had thoroughly touched and looked at the presents before Meme woke up, I heard the door open and the dogs appeared. Let Christmas Morning begin…

Coffee and phone calls, stockings, a visit from Uncle Nathan and breakfast… then we sat together and the girls opened up their gifts. I just love sitting in my living room with our little tree and all the gold glow from our red curtains, lights, snuggly blankets and cinnamon candles. I love our tiny tree that I accidentally cut too short. It is quite cute and pudgy… a perfect imperfect tree. It is full of ornaments, kind of a scrapbook of our lives. Preschool, trips, friends, photos, angels… it is like a beautiful 3d scrapbook that I look at and see memories and stories. We sat and opened gifts, the girls thought of the most beautiful things and Santa brought me a new jacket, because I tend to leave things… and my coat disappeared a few weeks ago. He was so thoughtful, He even wrote me a note that said “Be more careful with your coat this time”.

My dad couldn’t make it this year, so Rick did a great job standing in as Santa. He even bought me a lovely Pandora ring, a little bow, because he remembered I loved it. It has been a simply perfect and warm Christmas.

My house smells great, we are trading in turkey and mashed potatoes for the best chicken parm and eggplant parm ever. Amelia just made Jesus’s Birthday Cake, I hope He likes Thin Mint cake. Aunt Molly is out searching for Lucy’s helicopter, which accidentally took a ride into a neighbor’s yard… I am sure she will find the missing Nerf bullets as she searches. We have been to Stewart’s like 3 times already… and our friend Jen will be here for dinner soon. We are pretty blessed.

I scrolled through Facebook and saw some of the momma’s that have joined this club through the years and just this year. I felt it then, but I have the gift of time. I have my supreme missing but I have spent 5 years missing and living and celebrating and breaking and building. Opening presents without her is really hard, but I can feel some of the magic that I couldn’t back then. I know she is with us, right here in this warm and golden living room. I remember the missing and unfilled feeling a few years ago- it is different now. It has some magic, less empty. The voids from before are a little more full. My friend posted her birth announcement last Christmas, standing in the kitchen super excited for the sister her boys would have. This Christmas her lovely is with Madeline, her journey wasn’t like ours. It reminded me of that open wound, that lack of magic… the time spent ‘going through the motions’… and I want to tell her it will be different. She is here, she will always be… just not the same way as her brothers. It will never feel great to have to miss her, I know- but it will feel different.

Madeline is my Ornament, my Angel and my purpose. She sits on my shoulder and gifts me light to keep going and growing and filling and living.

Merry Christmas to all… enjoy your blessings. I am grateful for all of mine, for my Meme that loves to run the show and my Lucy who is on an adventure to find her helicopter (lost 10 minutes in)… my Madeline who I wouldn’t change a bit of. I am grateful for the time she was here, I wouldn’t trade her for a different version who got a different story. She is ours. I am grateful for my sister for being here and bringing her doggies… so today would have lots of loud barks, silly dog issues and a bit of my family. I am grateful for My Mr. Rick… he is the most kind man that has even entered my world. He is a great gift in this. I am grateful for all of it… my family, friends, herd and supporters. Merry Christmas… be blessed and feel it all. The blessing in the pain and joy.

Happy Birthday Jesus. Thank you for saving us…

The Gift of Nothing…

Madeline’s Kindergarten teacher has always shared with me memories and things that Madeline loved. She remembers what a different child she was, her energy and peace. She bought the girls and I a book after Maddie passed, one that Madeline really loved. She told me most of the kids in class didn’t really connect to it, or get it but Madeline did. I love when she shares books and memories, we carve time out to go home and read it together and talk about Madeline. This book was pretty simple looking and one I had never read. “The Gift of Nothing”… a story about two friends and finding a perfect gift to show love to a friend. It is an amazing and powerful story about the importance of nothing.


This holiday season has been a whirlwind, the month went by faster than planned (when doesn’t it??). I had several ‘Best Day Evers’ to plan and deliver. We had the normal Musto Chick stuff – band concerts, Christmas tree decorating, playdates, holiday activities… then a nice pile of Strep throat to really top it off. We watched about 100 Christmas movies and barely left the couch or house Strep weekend… and all.of.the.sudden it is Christmas Eve and all the work is done and Christmas is here.

I always see that in this whirlwind of Christmas and holidays and family and food and traditions, we lose sight of the importance of ‘nothing’. The great fact that ‘nothing’ is really ‘everything’.

I think back to the book that Mrs. Pace gifted us and how she recalled Madeline understanding the gift of nothing, truly being the gift of everything. This week my girls headed to their fathers to enjoy a holiday with their other family. I rearranged it a little so I could have 2 nights in a row off to set off on an adventure. In this world, where I have all that I need and so much of what I love… at least all that money can buy- I need nothing. Instead of something, Rick and I decided to gift each other ‘nothing’… kind of. It would be cold to disappear to Lake Placid with ‘nothing’… so we did gift each other a nice room… but honestly the best gift was the ‘nothing’. We wandered, we relaxed and we enjoyed a whole buncha ‘nothing’ with a most specular view and the most peaceful perfect place. We did nothing; in essence it was everything. We don’t need anything, I got new tires this month and am reminded of how comfortable my life is every.single.time I turn a corner or stop and my Jeep listens and does its job.

We walked around yesterday and I told Rick about this book, about the profound truth that ‘nothing’ is pretty amazing. I even made him listen to a Youtube reading of it. I felt yesterday the words for this week, in my life, ‘the gift of nothing’. The best gifts in my life fill my life with everything, at a cost of nothing. I don’t compare my everything and nothing to yours, I hope that you value and see your own everything and nothing.

Having a people to travel this grand adventure with… my girls, my family, my Rick, my friends, my Madeline… is worth all the everything one could ever buy. I appreciate my everything, my nothing. Wandering and relaxing is a gift in this crazy, distracting, full and busy life. Our gift of time, of ‘nothing’, is the best gift I could have asked for. I kept thinking as we wandered how that book really described those days away together.

Those moments of reflection and reminders are gifts from my Lovely, I know it. She was poking me yesterday while I sat on a cold bench taking in Mirror Lake. She flashed that book to me, to remind me that I have everything in my pile of nothing. I can’t wait to enjoy my girls and celebrate Jesus’s Birthday. Simple and warm and slow… just the way we love.

I hope you reflect on your everything, your nothing and your gifts… the ones that matter. The gifts you can’t buy… not the sneakers, the game systems, Hatchimals… enjoy the good stuff. Life isn’t a competition, it is an experience… and it can be so much shorter than you mean it to be. Look around… enjoy your ‘gifts of nothing’- I promise you they truly are Everything…


I am Thankful.

I love when I get to share others words and pieces in guest posts, to help them share the bits of them that others can use to build themselves better.  This is a special piece to share, read and let it open your heart and remind you of hope for the future.  This lovely is thankful for the best things, to be 7 and see the world this way is a gift.  So read and share with any who could use a bit of the amazing in life… God and comfort and confidence and a grateful heart- right along side the hard and painful.

I am Thankful

Written by:  Lucy


“I have so much to be thankfull for. I am thankfull for god. I love god he created evry thing. I am thankfull for friends. My friends are viry kind and wunderfull. I am thankfull for famly. My sister olwy’s take’s kir of me win I am sad. I am thankfull for pet’s. My rat oryeo is viry fat and big and cute. I am thankfull for food. My re frigurater is full of terky stuffin and cranbires. I am thankfull for me. I have a lot of memry’s of maddy. I go on vacashin and get cool thing’s. I have a good life. I olwy’s love my life no buty has a beter life then me but I have a broke ❤ hart. My sisters dide and me mom and dad got a divors. ”


Thank you for your permission to share Lucy.  What a gift you have and what an amazing perspective you have, God did well when He made you.


Read.  Enjoy.  Change.  Comment.  Share.


Traditions and additions.

For many years my girls and I have done ‘our’ thing… just the way we always have- minus all the missing. We never added a person or a new piece to our amazing and little routine. We had only lost them throughout time. What started many years ago with friends, then just us… and in recent years less a Madeline and a Matthew. We always did it though… cutting a tree and pulling it out of the woods, figuring out how to get the tree into my Jeep and then down the hill for hot cocoa and French fries. I would get the tree situated and try very hard not to swear too much as I got it even with only my eyes and two girls… then I would string the lights, pushing them into the tree so it glows from within. The ribbon goes on next and then red pearls on the ends of the limbs. Our favorite part is sitting together and going through the Hallmark ornaments that each girl received every year. In Matthew’s family his parents bought a Hallmark ornament every year for them. I thought that was a great tradition to carry and we still do this. I write on the inside of the lid every year a little about each of the girls and what they love that year. We sit together and look at all of the ornaments and read the notes. It is especially hard to read Madeline’s… but it is beautiful to remember how she loved The Princess and the Frog and it was her first movie ever.   Amelia loved her fairies and Tinkerbell, Lucy planes and Curious George. It’s our own beautiful and broken tradition.

Sometimes ‘our’ thing doesn’t feel like enough anymore. It isn’t a bad thing though, it is a reminder that is it a time for adding to ‘our’ thing. All of these years of subtracting, this year I felt brave enough to add some new to ‘our’ thing. It is scary to change, sometimes I embrace it and sometimes I avoid it- but this year I let my heart open up ‘our’ thing. This year invited Rick and his boys (the boys couldn’t come, and we missed them) and my sister and niece. They followed me up the windy and steep roads to go the same field the Musto Tree always comes from. We hiked out in the mud to find our perfect tree- and Hayle’s special tree. It was just right. Rick helped the girls cut our tree and put it to his truck. The girls and I treated them to hot cocoa and French fries. We let them enjoy some of ‘our’ thing.

The girls and I read those notes and sat together this week. We laughed and cried. Rick took care of my lights on my tree. It felt good to give some of the jobs to someone who has started been refilling my life with some of the missing. The tree is now decorated and perfect, albeit a little short. In my mad rush to get my house in order and clean and Christmasy I accidentally cut the tree really short. It is as tall as I am, and makes my short friends look tall. It is a good tree with a good story- the best kind.

After a week of cleaning, working, a big ‘best day ever’ and the normal crazy of my girls it was my favorite tradition with my carriers, my light. My ornament exchange is a lot of work, making 14 homemade ornaments and dedicating a night to each other. I love those ladies, the ones who could make it and the ones who couldn’t. They are some of the best gifts live has gifted me. We sit in a circle in my tiny living room, with my very short tree… we take turns distributing our ornaments and a bit of sharing time. The rule is to share our year, to get a little ‘naked’ and vulnerable together in a safe room and leave more connected. It is amazing and beautiful.

So today is National Dip Day, well not national but in my house, next to my tree it is. I eat left over dip and watch movies all day. While the world moves around and goes about their Saturday I sit and eat dip and watch movies. I invited Rick for a bit of Dip Day and he feels that it should be a National Holiday as well. Hummus, pita chips, white pizza dip and left over raviolis = heaven (well almost). So today I sit… and catch up on slow down.

Maybe, just maybe, additions are an amazing gift. I am grateful for all the gifts I love my crazy and busy and broken life, it was made just for me. I love my girls and the fact that they love celebrating Jesus’ Birthday… I always do too. I bet Jesus’ birthday in heaven rocks… Madeline, I am positive, enjoys it BIG.

Traditions and additions… life this year. I wonder what life next year will offer us. For today I sit happy and content and loved… I sit missing my lovely. I sooooo know that she is right here with me watching Love Actually (don’t worry I told her not to watch at certain parts). She sits with me through my favorite part… that love actually is all around us.