Friday, December 14, 2012

Peaceful hearts

The Christmas season always fills my heart with a joy that is different than any other time of year.  There is a certain joy associated with the celebrations and giving from the heart and the opportunities to spend more time than usual than people that matter the most to me.  Those things always fill me with true warmth and happiness.  But this year feels even more significant.  I have not been centered lately on what's the most important and, always, God calls me back to remind me that everything that matters is right in front of me.

My angel boy is training to be an altar server at school as part of his fifth grade religious education curriculum.  I moved some meetings last week stay for a mass where he was serving.  I sat in the sanctuary for 45 minutes between the time he had to be there for preparation and when mass started.  I was just THERE in the house of the Lord with my son and his friends moving around to prepare for mass and it was lovely.  A quiet, stolen sliver of time in a sacred place during the busiest time of year was such a blessing for me.  And seeing the pride of my son serving the Lord . . . no words.  The framework of his service during advent just magnifies the sacredness of all of it.

Tomorrow night the Princess will sing at Noel Night with the other tiny songbirds in the Cherubs Choir.  I anticipate it fully and wholly and treasure that she is so excited to sing the songs of Christmas.  I do know that she is excited too to wear a choir robe and I find that absolutely charming.

The halls are decked.  I mean fully decked by my little sweet peas.  We can't eat at the dining room table because it is fully covered with our holiday village and faux snow.  Every single ornament we own is on the tree below the five foot mark and in the front.  And this year I am forcing myself to be totally OK with it.  The joy of my children and the gift of their love is worth more than every beautiful thing I can imagine.

Time here is never guaranteed and Santa will be a distant memory soon enough.  I will cherish every poorly placed ball and ceramic figure skater for much longer than I will remember wishing the mantle were perfectly adorned.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
2 Corinthians 9:15

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ten Things to Smile About: November 2012

November was a great month.  The act of taking the time every single day to name something to be thankful for is it's own kind of gift.  And being able to do it without a second thought for 30 days is truly a blessing.  I don't ever need to be reminded of how blessed I am but I did love counting the blessings one by one in November.  Here are ten of my favorites.
Racing the sunset while the Princess took photos with my phone all the way to the water.  We had a chance to do this two or three times and we were never disappointed.


The first days of red cups at Starbucks and peppermint mochas.  Call me shallow.  It's OK.  They make me smile every.single.time.


The Princess aka Bob being recognized as the speediest Ninja at the end of season soccer party.



Celebrating twelve years of happily ever after with Mr. Montoya ~xoxo


Several peaceful, easy mornings at home.


Watching my baby boy turn into something other than a baby and loving him even more as he grows.  He is so very responsible and such a kind soul.  It is such a pleasure to see him taking on new challenges in the world AND helping his Dad with yard work.



A fun day with our cousins.  I call them the Fearless Five.


A five day weekend to relax, decorate and get a head start on the holidays.It is a blessing to be READY for Christmas before Christmas.


Ordering, receiving, addressing and stamping our Christmas cards.  Woo hoo!


. . . and having helpers was a treat, too!



Many blessings to you and your family in the season of love and giving.  We are so thankful for the month that just passed and wait with joyful anticipation to celebrate the birth of Jesus.









Sunday, December 2, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Part 3

November is gone and it was a gift to count the things; big and small, that I have to be thankful for every day of the month.  The blessings are truly endless.

30 Days of Thankful: 2012
Days 21 through 30

Day 21:
I am so thankful this morning for "normal". For the sweet little girls who left for soccer camp, the adolescent boys who are playing video games in the family room and homemade waffles filling their bellies. It is not glamorous or even interesting beyond these four walls but it is our normal and something I cherish deeply.

Day 22:
Today I am homesick and wishing more than ever that I was celebrating in Tallahassee. But I am thankful for all of my memories of home and to have been raised on all of the wonderful traditions that I'm missing so much. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Give your family an extra hug today just because you can.

Day 23:
Today I am thankful for medical insurance, Aleve and steri-strips. Not really the best day ever but there's always something to be thankful for.

** This post followed my visit to Urgent Care on Black Friday.  I severed a tendon in my ring finger on Thanksgiving and didn't go for stitches until the following day.  I didn't know until now that you have to get stitches within 12 hours of the injury or the risk of infection is too great.  I was NOT thrilled to get this news 16 hours later.  The healing is slow, but I definitely learned a lesson.

Day 24:
Tonight I am thankful for a cozy night in with my little loves. They are pampering me so sweetly while we enjoy dinner in the family room and our first Christmas movie of the season. I'm such a lucky girl.

Day 25:
Today I am thankful for long weekends and extra time with family. We never get a chance to hang in our PJs and watch movies or just BE together at home. I'd almost forgotten how great that is. I'm so thankful to have been here for 5 days and loved every minute of it.

Day 26:
Today I am thankful for today. I don't love anything about Mondays or traffic or the parking lot at Trader Joe's, but I am so grateful to have been given another day here to fully experience it all. Every day is a gift.

Day 27:
This morning I am most thankful for my precious son. Besides being brilliant, generous, polite, charming and hilarious he is the most thoughtful person I know. I admire him so much for never being afraid to be himself and am grateful for the perfect human being that God gave to us. . . . and since it's basketball season I love him even more!!!!

Day 28:
Today I am thankful for siblings. As an only child I don't know what it's like to have someone around your age in your house all the time. I love watching my kids play a game together or barter over what they...
're going to do or watch next. I love watching them wrestle and squawk at each other about *nothing* a little less, but they always work it out together. I am so gratful that the Lord gave us two healthy, energetic people while we are still young enough to {sorta} keep up with them and that they love each other as much as we love them.
Day 29:
I am thankful for how small the world actually is. I love that there is always a friendly reminder out there to play nice and not burn any bridges. Everyone knows someone and that someone might be just the person you need most. Karma is not a bitch if you're not either.
Day 30:
Today I am grateful that I can name something to be thankful for every single day for 30 days without any problem at all. It is a gift that I have not ever been hurt so deeply that I can't recover or suffered any loss that changes the way I look at the world. I have been blessed well beyond anything I deserve and am forever grateful for every bit of it.
Dear Lord:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Part 2

The thankulness exercise is so good for my heart.  The intentional process of recounting blessings and forcing myself to document them even on the hairiest of Monday mornings really sets a tone.  There is an awful lot in the world of Montoya to be thankful for.  More than I will ever be able to document.

30 Days of Thankful: 2012
Days 11 through 20

Day 11:
Today I am thankful for all of our Veterans and the troops and their families who currently serve the greatest nation in the world. THANK YOU for your sacrifices.

Day 12:
Today I am thankful for role models. For every troop leader, coach, teacher and room mom who spends their time to enrich the lives of my children and reinforce positive messages to them. My family never takes for granted any practice, meeting or supply request and we are very, very thankful.

Day 13:
This is a stretch, but I think the point is to remember that the little things we take for granted really aren't little things. So . . . today I am thankful for laundry. A dozen loads a week means that my family always has a warm jacket, clean socks or the jersey they need for that day. I need to remember that we are truly blessed to have closets full and stacks to put away.

Day 14:
Today I am thankful for the upside of social media. The world is definitely overexposed to "reality" but I am thankful for being able to stay connected with friends and family that I might otherwise lose touch with. Posting photos of my kids to the blog, keeping up with childhood friends on Instagram and, of course, the reach of Facebook. I really am thankful for the good that comes from being connected.

Day 15:
Today I am very thankful that I have the flexibility to work from home sometimes. Being able to drop off the kids in sweats and not sitting in traffic for an hour is a MAJOR gift.

Day 16:
Today I am extremely thankful for my baby girl. She is the wildest, loveliest, most interesting mix of E & me and impresses me every single day with who she is. She's a brilliant student, a singer, a crazy fast runner and super soccer forward, true lover of animals and candy and just the coolest little chick I know. I am so thankful that God gave me the gift of her knowing what was just right for our family.

Day 17:
Today I am fully and truly grateful for family. The rowdy cousins, the aunts that are so straightforward that you can't even respond, the uncles who sleep in the recliner after they eat, the grandparents who retell stories time and again and all the little babies. I can not imagine my life without all of these people, both past and present, and am so very grateful that I've not ever had to try and navigate the world alone. Thank the Lord for the sweet gift of family.

Day 18:
I am forever and genuinely thankful for my marriage. It is not perfect, and neither are the people in it, but it's the real deal. Some days are unimagineably happy and some are downright rotten, but they're OUR days and we are committed for better or for worse. Happy Anniversary, Mr. Montoya. You are responsible for the very best days of my life and I adore you and those precious kids of ours above everything else I know. Thank you for the first 12 years of my happily ever after ♥
Day 19:
Today I am thankful that God has always watched over me and protected me from any true harm. It's nothing short of a miracle that Camille and I were never thrown in jail or seriously injured. The memories are funny, but the thankfulness is deep and true. I am blessed to have never felt any serious consequences to my antics and grateful to have the opportunity to share that history with old friends and keep moving in the world to make a positive difference.

Day 20:
Today I am thankful for enough. We always have enough food, enough gas to get where we're going and laughter & love to sustain us every single day. My family wants for absolutely nothing and that will always be enough for me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012: Thirty Days of Thankful

We are embracing the holidays in our home and I love to walk through the family room to see our Thankful Tree.  It is such a sweet reminder of all we have in our lives and the gratitude that we should be carrying with us.  I've been posting my 30 Days of Thankful on Facebook and will document them here.  One day I WILL make all of my posts a book.  One day.

30 Days of Thankful: 2012
Days 1 through 10

Day 1:
Today I am truly thankful for my Mom. She is my biggest fan, my kids' reading coach and puzzle piecer and the most generous person I know. Everyone should be so lucky to be loved so much.

Day 2:
I am thankful for the ocean. I see it every day from my front door, when I drive to the grocery store, school drop off and the office. I can put my toes in the sand and have a picnic anytime I choose. I know that is a gift and do not take it for granted.

Day 3:
Today I am thankful for laughter. Whether it's caused by terrible jokes, great news or funny little children every day is better after a good laugh.

Day 4: Today I am grateful for experience. Every amazing memory, every joyful moment, each and every mistake and bad idea have led me to be here now. I am thankful for it all. 

Day 5: Today I am thankful for honesty. The good, the bad and the ugly is all much, much better when it's true.

Day 6: I am thankful for my dear and precious friend who's celebrating another year around the sun today. She's been there for me in some truly dark times and has boundless love and gifts to share with the world. Happy Birthday, Ame. Love you to pieces ♥

Day 7: I am thankful for home. The four walls and cozy beds are nice, but I am most thankful for how it feels to be here. The little girl humming while she ties her shoes, the dogs rolling in the floor and the sink full of dishes. It's all mine and I am so, so blessed to have this place in the world.

Day 8: I am so, so thankful for motherhood. As a mother I am more patient, more reasonable and kinder than I am naturally inclined to be. I only became the me that God intended when I became a Mom.

Day 9: Today I am most thankful for confidence. Challenges are just inconveniences when you believe in yourself and what you stand for.

Day 10: I am thankful for my Daddy, the birthday boy. He is honest to a fault and a little rough around the edges, but he has a heart of gold and will do anything in the world for you if you need him. He is a man of character and service and loves God and his family. I am so very thankful to have him.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ten Things to Smile About: October

One twelfth of another year gone.


If you ever spend time with me you know that I feel like my life is passing right before my eyes.  It's just absurd how much quicker each month passes than the last.  I don't ever want any of this to be over and think I might just need to be grateful for how much I love where I am in my life right now.  So nine days into the next month, I recount my ten things to smile about.

Friday night date with my E.  It didn't hurt that our night out was at the Hollywood Bowl for Jason Mraz.  Just amazing in every way.

Helping my Mom and Pat make plans for their Christmas trip. We are so, so excited to see them and enjoy the holidays together.

The sweet and pure moment I captured with Hope and my BFF/cousin's little girl.  Every time I see it my heart smiles.

Celebrating a family wedding.  It was the loveliest possible evening.  The sun was shining, the bride was beaming, everyone was decked out and loving each other.  I just love, love, love weddings and people who love each other.  It is a memory I will hold for a long time in my life.

A simple and fun Friday night with the family at the drive-in movies!!

Date night with my first born

Making pumpkin cream cheese muffins with The Princess

Hawkeye from M*A*S*H

How dang cute she looks as a carhop

The sweetest crew of trick or treaters in the whole entire world

The Princess ~ 8; The Athlete ~ 10
B ~ 2  1/2 & C ~ 18 mos.
It's never a bad thing to look back and remember just how good it was. Thank you, Emmy!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hey, It's Okay Tuesday

Amber at Airing my Dirty Laundry got this idea from Glamour magazine and I am copying it. They have a section called Hey, It’s Okay and will list a bunch of things to be okay about. You're welcome to join in and do something like this and it doesn't have to be on a Tuesday either. Just make sure you link up with Amber and that the post you link up is a Hey, It's Okay Post.


To pray for a money tree to pop up on the patio and I can skip the 14 days of travel I have scheduled in November.  I won't burst into tears and throw a fit, but I sure do wish something would change so I didn't have to go.

To keep a mile long Christmas list in my head while I am shopping for everyone else.  You know, just in case said money tree pops up.

To say "bless your heart" to the lady who intentionally fawned over "Bob" and complimented her on her soccer game.  She was trying to make The Princess feel better since her mother was screaming like a lunatic on the sidelines.  Bless her heart.

To drink Starbucks three times a day when I come into the office before 6 AM. The pre-sunrise Starbucks is a necessity, the mid morning is usually a social occasion and the mid afternoon keeps me from wanting to go to bed before dark.

To just want to elections to be over. Seriously, it’s great that people are passionate about things, but some take it way too far. If we all had the same opinions that would be a totally different problem.

To be ready for Halloween to be over, too. If my kids ask me one more time if I'm going to dress up then I really will be scary. I freakin' hate Halloween.

To daydream about sweaters and boots.  I am all done with the 80 degrees in October.

To sing at the top of my lungs in the car.

To browse Pinterest while I'm on conference calls.  I mean really, no one is listening except the person talking.  Ever.  If corporate America ever gets a clue about this one we'd all be much more productive.  Conference calls are an excuse to take something off of everyone's to do list and to look for the recap.

Happy Tuesday!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The written word

A lot of my time lately is spent with The Princess. Not that I mind.  That little chick is hilarious and we like to get our nails done and do girly stuff together.  Having her as my constant companion is a gift in many ways. 

But the truth is, I miss my guy.  He spends oodles of time with his Dad.  They go to football games, baseball practice, basketball practice . . . everywhere together.  I know that E loves having him as a constant companion, too.  It works. And I also know that the older he gets the less I will see of him.

The sad little glimpse into the future, however, is not working for me so much.  With school, work, sports and life I only see my guy for a few hours every week. I know that is more than I can expect even a few years from now but I am missing that sweet face and warm heart of his.  We're going on a date tomorrow night.  I can hardly wait.  And if I didn't think he'd get all weirded out I'd say every single thing on this page to him, but he is a ten year old boy.  I am pretty sure that he would be uncomfortable with my sharing how madly in love with him that I am.  So, as a keepsake, I will use the written word.  I truly hope one day he'll read all of it and know how much he was loved. Every single day.

For my son,

You have ALWAYS been too good to be true.  You were the happiest, easiest baby in the history of the world.  That is an absolute fact.  Every day of my life since February 19, 2002 I have said Thank you to God for the gift that you are. I have talked before about how it terrifies me that life with you is so good, but of late I have just decided to take everything one day at a time and be genuinely grateful for every day that we have.

Life is going really, really fast for us right now.  Daddy and I are awfully busy raising you and your sister and being us, and you are so very busy being ten and living life to the fullest.  I love that part more than you will ever know.  It delights me to see you running off to practice and putting on your belt as you go or holding your sister's backpack while she climbs out of the car just before you turn away and walk into school. The spoiled selfish girl in me wants to tell you to stop and come hug ME and spend time with ME, but I love you too much to ever hold you back.  I love to watch you go and find your way, but I miss you so much. 

You are SUCH a boy with your smelly socks and your wrinkled shirts that you cram into drawers when I ask you to put them away, but I am told by someone at least once a week how kind and polite you are.  Wow.  A few weeks ago the umpire at your baseball game, Mark, came to the fence and said "who's kid is that?"  That's sort of a weird question, but I claimed you unconditionally.  He said, "He has really great manners.  He is so polite every time he's at bat.  I've never met a kid that's more polite." I can forgive the toothpaste on the mirror every time because there are a million reminders in the world that you are doing much better things than cleaning up behind yourself.

Sometimes when I am watching you from a distance and catching snippets of your conversations with friends I can imagine you much older and even further out in the world.  I visualize you trekking across a college campus chatting with your buddy on the way to class and just being a slightly larger version of your wonderful self.  I wonder what profession you'll choose.  Your sense of humanity is larger than life and you have a genuine heart for service.  You are super squeamish so I'm not thinking that being a surgeon is in your future, but think maybe physical therapy is or even a career as a high school teacher and coach.  Oh Punky, you would be such a fantastic teacher.  I selfishly want you to make more money than that, but that's just plain shallow.  You would really make a wonderful teacher.

You have so many amazing qualities that I could write a giant novel just about you and your goodness.  You're a great student, a talented athlete, a gentle soul and a wonderful Christian.  You do everything well and there are some things you are exceptional at.  Sometimes I get so focused on the doing of all that we do that I forget to stop and enjoy what we do.  I really enjoy being your Mom.  I enjoy talking with you about the Pendragon books and how that call at second base could be different.  I enjoy hearing how much other people appreciate the young man you are becoming.  I enjoy watching you play with your cousins and hearing you talk to your family.  I enjoy you.  I cherish you.  I adore you.

Thank you for all of the terrific things you are and the hope of the things that are to come.  It is such an honor to have you for a son.

With All my Love ~ Mom

p.s.  I'm thrilled you accepted my invitation for tomorrow night.  I can't wait.

My Proud Mommy Moment is all about my first born. I am so proud of him every day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tell me something good

Today was conference day at school.  E and I spent 20 minutes with The Athlete's teacher and then 20 minutes with The Princess' teacher.  The conferences were QUITE different but then so are the kids.
He is
"such a good friend."
"a fantastic writer." (this one surprised me, BTW)
"so polite and considerate."
"really doing well."

She is
"extremely bright."
"reading well beyond her grade level."
"very organized in her thoughts."
and . . .
"funny, but sometimes disruptive."

UH OH.  Not that we didn't know, but it's not really what you want to hear from the person who spends seven hours a day with her five days a week.
Her teacher was surprisingly good natured about it and has been really good about keeping me updated on what is happening in class.  But still . . .
We talked about ways to keep her focused and to challenge her,  but the bottom line is this.  She is healthy, happy and smart.  And super damn funny.  Things could be much, much worse I say.  An extremely bright, funny girl doesn't feel so bad.

Here's to a great weekend with our amazing kids. They are more than I could have ever asked for.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


It's taken some time for me to embrace the morning rush at my house. Every single breathing creature is annoyed to be woken up before they're ready. Even the dogs give me dirty looks while I'm banging around in the bathroom. But I've slowly come to understand that everyone has a better day when I set the tone for them. Good days are the ones where I am showered, made up, fully dressed and lunches are packed before I beg them to wake up. On those mornings I have the time to sit at the counter with them to talk about their plans for the day and what we have going on. There's ALWAYS something going on.

This morning was a good morning. Fully dressed, laundry running and lunches packed. My sweet peas slowly made their way to the kitchen with almost smiles on their faces. They ate toast and bartered over who was feeding the dogs. As the conversation evolved they got into a debate over who's busier and who was most entitled to be tired. To my great delight they acknowledged that we're all equally busy because we still travel in a pack and even if only one of them was at practice or playing a game the other was present. That rationale totally works for me.

Somewhere towards the end of the chatter about the 5th grade social studies project, 2nd grade mass uniforms and cotillion this question comes directly to me.

"Mom, do you think less successful kids are this busy?"

I'm still not sure if it makes me sad that they are questioning how busy they are but I am over the moon that they identify themselves as successful. All good mornings start with confident kids <3 br="br">

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A good life

This week has been brutal.

I am in Las Vegas for a conference and I don't love Las Vegas. As a general rule, I get sick every time I spend more than two days in the desert. I am in the airport sucking on a cough drop and balancing tissue between my upper lip and my nostril. Pretty picture, no?

In the four days I've been here I have had 24 scheduled face to face meetings, as well as working until the wee hours on my regular workload back in the office. I have met some amazing people and had a lot of high-level, thought provoking conversations. That part is good. But, getting this involved in business always makes me a little melancholy because I feel like I'm choosing business over my family and I NEVER want that to be the case. I'm in perpetual scramble mode lately and I don't like it. This week gives me hope for better days ahead, but if I let things get the best of me (and I do) I just get sad. And then I remember . . .

My life is overflowing with beautiful and wonderful things. So much goodness. My happy thoughts for the week in no particular order.

The Princess has decided she prefers to be called "Bob" over her given name. That cracks me up, I read an email from her soccer coach this week and he referred to E as "Bob's Dad". Funny.

That quote reminds me of my Nanny. The love she gave me when she was here sees me through lots of sad days. It's comforting to still feel like I'm protected by her love.

Since I moved to California I've had a pile of bosses in the event industry. I saw three of them at this week's conference and they all hugged me tightly and asked authentically about my life. That feels really good. I've been blessed to work for some truly talented and extraordinary people.

Last weekend's concert date with E. He's so much fun to go out with.

A fun weekend ahead with E's family for a wedding. I love to get dressed up for any reason and I LOVE weddings.

Blueberry mojitos, Tory Burch wedges and Alex and Ani bracelets.

A fun project that I found on Pinterest (of course) and am super excited about the final product.

Being able to jump on a plane and be in my sweet children's bedrooms in less than two hours. I can't wait to see these faces. They carry me through every moment that is less than I want it to be.

A good life, indeed

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ten Things: September 2012

Ten Things to Smile About: September 2012

Spending time with my giggly little nieces.  They always crack me up and they are so much fun to be around.

My first born entering the first year of sports for his school team.

This season is flag football and I think these boys couldn't be any cuter.  We play lots of sports around here but until now I couldn't understand how sweet it is to watch your child be a teammate to children he's literally grown up with.
I love #8!
 Soccer season starting for The Princess.  She is much more talented than she gives herself credit for, but all we're learning as we go.  She is having fun and we love to see her in action.
And isn't Neon Ninjas the cutest team name?!?!?
Spending quality time with girlfriends.  Lunch dates, shared dinners crammed between practice schedules, cupcakes and chats on the phone.  My family is EVERYTHING but man I love my girlfriends.  You know who you are.
An outdoor concert and night out with E.  We shared some drinks with friends before the show and had a great night.  I don't ever want to get so wrapped up in being a Mom that I forget that I was Mrs. first.

Showing The Princess that sometimes it's totally worth it to work your tail off.  She LOVES the transformation that is happening in her room.  It's a work in progress but she has total pride in what's hers and works on it a little every day.  Too cute!
Fall baseball season.
The Athlete will move up to a new age bracket this year and the pitcher's mound is ten feet further from home plate.  I'd be OK not to play the "extra" season but no one makes me love baseball like this kid.
Trader Joe's.
We're working hard to pack better lunches and eat dinner at home more.  That can't mean coq au vin for our family, but it does mean good, easy and (as) healthy (as possible).  They can't be beat for good, well-priced produce and easy to prepare meals.
Being Mom to the girliest, girly girl in the history of the world.  She loves mani/pedis, shiny lip gloss and sleeping in curlers.  I happen to find all of that totally irresistable.

Princess self-portrait
Seeing good grades and happy faces come home from school. Both of my angels have become avid readers and carry books with them when they're going to have down time. It's still early days, but I do love to see a folder full of 100% papers on Fridays.
Every day feels like a gift to me.  I am admittedly more gracious in receiving those gifts on certain days but I am constantly mindful of how beautiful every day is with healthy children and the life that E and I are sharing with them.  Ten Things each month is not enough, but it's a great place to start.
Emmy Mom


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