Monday, December 31, 2012

forgiveness, healing, restoration, love and encouragement

Starting off 2012 I didn't know what to expect. All I knew is that I was very broken, that if you took a close look at my heart you would see many areas of my life were broken. I desperately wanted all aspects of my life to be healed. But the first priority in this process was allowing the Lord to heal my heart and my past. I was angry at him, angry at myself for my past trauma and angry at people who I thought hurt me. This process of healing didn't feel like healing at first, it felt like I was reliving things that I wanted to forget. I knew I needed to continue to work on reconciling what happened to me in my childhood and moving forward as a healthier person to my husband, my son and people around me. After I started to really deal with my trauma I started to see all kinds of areas in my life being healed. Then I started to see this girl emerge. I didn't recognize her at first. She was lovely, encouraging, fought for me and she soothed me. It was the Jessica that I was always meant to be, the one whose parents haven't hurt her.

2012 has been forgiveness
forgiving others, forgiving myself and accepting that I have been forgiven

2012 has been healing
allowing my heart to be healed 

2012 has been restoration
restoring my heart, relationships and my faith

2012 has been love
being loved, loving my husband and son and loving my family

2012 has been encouragement
giving encouragement and receiving encouragement

2012 has been a good hard year. I welcome 2013 and all the goodness it has in store for me and my family.  

forgiveness, healing, restoration, love and encouragement these are the imprints of 2012.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

your love footprint

Each year just like everyone else, I try to come up with a list of goals and resolutions for the New Year. After spending most of December trying to encourage someone each day, my heart has changed and it feels a little different about my yearly lists. Instead of focusing on checking off how much weight I can lose, spending less time on the computer, creating healthier eating habits or trying to see if I can read the whole bible in the year, my heart kept lingering on encouragement.  It kept thinking of ideas of how I can encourage others in 2013. I kept thinking of the lives that will be impacted because of the unconditional encouragement. Then I decided I want to spend 2013 encouraging as many people as possible and I want to ask you to join in with me so we can together make an even bigger impact in the lives of people  around us. To leave a love footprint.

People always talk about going green and making sure they don't leave a big carbon footprint. I want us to leave a huge love footprint, something that will last. I want to be able to encourage others through deed, service or words and let the footprints of those encouragement inspire others to do the same. 

It would be so neat to be able to look back on this blog post when my son is 12 years old and say "Judah that was the year we started the love footprint, where we made a change that impacted and encouraged the hearts of people all over the world".  

I hope this is something that we can all do together. I would love to hear how you are leaving your love footprint and encouraging others in 2013.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

crochet snowflakes for sandy hook

People all over the world are coming together to encourage the students of Sandy Hook who were traumatized earlier this month by the tragic shooting. They are making snowflakes and mailing them out before January 12th so the students will see all the different snowflakes in the hallways and classrooms when they return from Christmas break. I crochet a handful of simple snowflakes and wanted to share the pattern. Its really easy and since each snowflake is unique and different it doesn't matter if you get the pattern perfect. Its the thought and the intentions in the heart that counts. 

I used Red Heart Super Saver white yarn and a J hook. 

Chain 5
*round 1*
dc into the first chain (ch furthest from the hook/this counts as first dc)  [dc in first ch, ch 1] *crochet whats listed in the [ ] 7x*
 sl st to 3rd ch of the first dc

*round 2*
ch 1, [(hdc, ch 4, hdc -  do this in each large hole/space made by dc) sl st in next dc] 7x
when you sl st the last dc, pull enough yarn through to create a loop to hang the snowflake

Send your snowflakes no later than January 12, 2013 to:

Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514

Crochet Abbreviations

Im left handed trying to explain this backwards so feel free to email me if you have any questions about the pattern!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

yummiest dairy free sugar cookies

Sugar cookies is that one holiday treat I crave every single year. The year I had Judah I remember being in the OB's office and listening to hear tell me that I needed to go straight to the hospital, that I was in labor and all I could manage to say back to her was "but I haven't made my sugar cookies, he cant come yet". Needless to say I had Judah a few hours later and my sister Rhonda flew in from Florida and made us some sugar cookies. This year I still had the sugar cookie craving but I wanted to make them dairy free. Here is the best dairy free sugar cookie recipe ever!


1 cup of dairy free earth balance butter (you can find it in most grocery stores)
1 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract 
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar (this does not have dairy in it)
granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375.
In a big bowl mix thoroughly the dairy free butter, confectioners sugar, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Blend in the flour, baking soda and cream of tarter. Cover with a clean dish cloth and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. (Judah ended up opening up our refrigerator and taking off the dish cloth so the dough was a bit tougher, I was able to still roll it out to make cookies)

Once chilled divide the dough, roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut out the shapes. I actually used a spatula to remove the shapes from my table to place onto the lightly greased cookie pan. Sprinkle the cookies with some granulated sugar.  

Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown. If you are using a darker pan the cookies bake faster than a lighter pan. 

Cool and decorate or just eat them plain like me.
Be prepared to make a second batch, they are that good!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

library book love - toddler version

We have been trying to potty train Judah and each week I check out a book that aids in potty training. I saw this book years ago before I became a mom and thought it was hysterical! I never realized how helpful it would be in potty training a toddler. This book teaches him that everyone poops and encourages him to poop on the potty. He actually calls it the "dookie" book. Yes I am that weird mom that has a "dookie song" that I made up for Judah when he was an infant that I still sing to him. 

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

This is Judah's favorite truck book of the week. I actually enjoyed reading this to him several times a day. It goes through the work day of the trucks, the book flows nicely so you don't mind reading the book over and over again. Also the illustrations are just perfect for a toddlers imagination. Judah enjoys pointing out each truck and naming them to me as they line up one by one driving into work.

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Since I am making this a weekly post I am considering on reviewing some of the books that Judah doesn't enjoy as much. Books that don't entirely make sense to a toddler or an adult.

Also a reminder I am doing an ad swap for small ads and have a HUGE sale on my other ads going on right now.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

my gift to you

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We spent the day with Scott's family and feel very blessed to be with each other today. 

Since today is our official last day of encouragement I wanted to offer you 50% off my feature and large ad spots for the blog. Here is what I offer for each spot.

+ feature + 
Readers will see your ad first and most often. I will re-tweet one of your posts at least once a week. I will also pick out two of your posts that you have written that month and highlight as a go to link on one of my posts that month.  

+ large +
 Ads will rotate with the other large ads during the month. I will mention you or re-tweet one of your posts at least twice during the month. I will also pick out a post that you have written that month and highlight it as a go to link on one of my posts that month.  

To claim one of the ad spots click here and use the code "MERRY" at check out. 

+ small +
Also for the six small spots I am willing to AD Swap (email me for the code)
 jessica.a.west (at) 

Also until December 31st I am offering 20% off your order at My Charming Colors by using the code "MERRY" at checkout. This does not apply to Custom Orders. I am still not taking custom orders until January but will be offering something special the first week of the year. 

Merry Christmas and have a wonderful night.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We hope you all have a blessed Christmas holiday
The Judkins Family

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Sunday, December 23, 2012


I've been on a HUGE Gilmore Girls kick and watch it while I crochet my orders at night. I blame it on my twitter friends, they talk about it all the time and I had to find out for myself the show is actually good. Bought Season 1 a few weeks ago and now I am hooked! The great thing is my husband used to watch the show with his mom and sister so he can follow along with me. 

...listening to...
I thrifted 8 vintage Frank Sinatra records last week and have been listening to them non stop. Judah now tries to hum/sing along. For some reason this year I haven't gotten into any real Christmas music.
It was kinda hard since Judah's birthday was just a few weeks ago and Christmas feels like it snuck right up on me. 

Today I realized how much I really miss my sister Rhonda. My husband asked me why do I always wait till after Christmas to send out my families Christmas gifts. They have been sitting wrapped in my bedroom for a month. Then it dawned on me, in my heart of hearts I've always wished they would surprise me with a Christmas visit, so I don't mail out their gifts till after Christmas. Then I sobbed because I didn't want to admit how much I miss Rhonda, so we are planning on convincing them to come to Myrtle Beach with us this year in May. 

...thinking about...
I've been thinking about lots of things. Christmas, how I have to finish some hat orders for family members before Tuesday. I've been thinking about our yearly Myrtle Beach trip and how I get to finally meet Melissa from Dear Baby and Jenny from Frecklewonder. I've also been thinking about my step moms wedding in April and I've been thinking about how I would really love to take a late winter mini weekend vacation to Virginia Beach. 

Lots of toddler books to Judah! We go to the library weekly and check out at least 10 books for him and we read to him nightly. I also started reading this book my therapist recommended called The Whole Brain Child. The book is helping me figure out ways to have a calmer, happier child. Judah is a pretty happy boy, but when he has some of his tantrums (the full on screaming where it feels like your ear drums are going to bleed) I feel like I am in a survival mode and I want to be able to have skills to be able to calm him and teach him something during his breakdowns. 

...making me happy...
You know this past week has been especially hard. I've blogged in the past how Christmas is not really a good time for me. I always wonder if my dad or mom going to finally call me or do I really want them to call me. Then I start to think about how I miss my sisters and step mom and how I wish they lived closer or would come visit. I thought by encouraging other people this year it would protect my heart from being discouraged. But this week its been hard. The people I've come across while out shopping with Judah have been really mean, and I know its everyone being stressed out with the holidays. But this week I had a blogger mom Brooke randomly send Judah a present, I also had another IG mama send Judah the prettiest hand embroidered ornament and the day that Judah broke my ipod my husband surprised me with one that he was planning on giving me for Christmas. I've been able to have some really nice heart to heart conversations on the phone with some friends. My son is being super adorable and is requesting hugs and is dancing all over the place and singing songs to me. My husband is on vacation till January. Also I've been able to be really consistent with my running for the past few weeks and I now officially fit into my pre-pregnancy workout cloths and have gotten my mile down to 11:12 mins.

I've linked up with my sweet friend Danielle from Sometimes Sweet

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa! can you handle the cute

I met up with Scott at Fairoaks mall to have Judah take his picture with Santa. At first I tricked Scott into thinking Judah was going to wear a wig on Santa's lap. It was clearly to early for Judah to be into tricking daddy. 

Judah loved the fake snow! This year he was actually able to play in it. 

Our growing old boy.  He is almost 3 feet tall!

Right before you see Santa they allow each child a few minutes in this mini tunnel, its snowing and they have lights flashing like a mini rave. Judah started dancing and running around laughing. I can't wait till he experiences real snow. 

We had two more kids in front of us and Judah started screaming "SANTA! SANTA!" just like elf, he was trying to squirm out of Scott's arms and even tried to bust through the roped area to run towards Santa. Finally when it was his turn he slowly walked up to Santa and whispered "santa" and shook his hand. 

He didn't want to leave his lap. I think its safe to say Judah likes Santa. 

It was worth the crazy 45 minute wait. 
Next year we will see Santa the first week of December. 

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

give a little love

 Judah and myself were in tears a few times today. It started off normal. I dressed him up in a super cute outfit, had him scream Santa to me several times (I trained him to scream Santa like elf) and drove him out to the Dulles Town Center to take a picture with Santa. Scott wasn't able to make it because he had a last minute work meeting. I figured, I can do this, I can get Judah to scream Santa and take pictures and video tape him at the same time, no problem. When we arrived the line wasn't to long. I had Judah in his push car and gave him his mixer truck to play with. A boy about his age walks through the fenced off area, his eyes glued to Judah's toy ran over and tried to grab it from him. I moved Judah out of the way so the boy wouldn't take my sons toy. The mom finally scooped up her kid after his third attempt of trying to take Judah's toy. She then turned to me and called me a bitc*. I was pretty shocked, she was holding her kid and maybe 20 other kids were around us. I said "I'm sorry, I don't want strange kids grabbing my sons toys especially if they look like they are sick. How do you know I don't have an auto immune disease like cancer and I am trying to stay safe and not get sick, please be a bit more gracious" (I do not know why I said this, I think I was just shocked that she was upset with me and had no idea what kind of background I came from) she then said "I hope you do have cancer and I hope you die". I started to cry and left the line. I was going to just cool off take Judah to Chick Fil A and try again to take a picture with Santa after the lady had left, but realized I left my wallet at home, so tearfully we took off. 

When we were driving home I thought. I am not going to let this woman steal my joy. She was mean, and she said some cruel things. I am going to show my son how to give love. We drove home to pick up my wallet then drove over to Duncan Donuts. We bought two boxes for the Fairfax Police Station. The entire time I was telling Judah "these are for the police, they help us and they are nice. They work really hard to keep us safe so we are going to say thank you and give them some treats". He was really excited and pointed out which donuts he wanted to give away. 

We arrive at the police station. They were really nice and seemed pretty busy. They loved that Judah was dressed up and loved his sweet smile as he tried to hand them over the donuts. 

We ended up running some errands afterwards and bumping into a few more mean people that left either Judah or myself in tears. But in spite of all the tears, forgetting my wallet, being yelled at, being called a bitc*, being told that someone wishes I would die or that I'm essentially not a good mom because Judah screamed for a lollipop in line.  I think what matters is hugging my son when he cried, showing him that its okay even though other people are not treating us okay, showing him how to love and encourage others even when we don't feel loved on very much by strangers, that it's better to be the encourager and not the hater, that people have bad days and sometimes it's okay to share your donuts with the police department. 

I hope Judah remembers that we gave a little love today and forgets that complete strangers tried to hurt our hearts. I hope his little heart was encouraged and that the police officers were encouraged as well. 

Its so stressful the days leading up to Christmas, please give a little love a little encouragement, you never know who needs it. Judah and I sure needed a smile or some encouragement today from a stranger. 

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Judah's weekly library book review

Tomorrow morning we are heading to the library to exchange out our books. I've listed below two of Judah's favorite books from this past week. 

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

This book is about a little boy who stands up to a dinosaur who wants to eat him! Judah loved the back and forth dialogue between the Dinosaur and Billy. He also loved how the parents ended up feeding the Dinosaur a big bowl of spaghetti. The book has great illustrations and although at first it may seem a little to wordy for a two year old it actually flows pretty nicely and Judah never got bored. 

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

The second book that Judah requested us to read to him nightly was a book on Big Rigs! Its all about a a boy who uses his imagination to drive across country in his big rig. At the end of the book his father calls him for dinner and afterwards he goes to bed and dreams of big rigs. When I ask Judah what he will dream about, he now says "Big Rigs!!". Judah has memorized something on each page and says it out loud when I land on the page for example, when the big rig drives through a tunnel he shouts out "tunnel" or when the boy is dunking a donut he says "donut!". This book is perfect for that truck loving toddler. 

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Monday, December 17, 2012

great week of encouragement

This past week of encouragement has been the best. On Judah's birthday we took him to Duncan Donuts to get his traditional donut. On the way in we noticed this guy who looked really discouraged. He was sitting on a bench and it looked like he was really upset about something. I asked him if we could buy him his donut and coffee. He smiled and said no one has done anything nice like this for him. He insisted on paying for half in which we told him we want to encourage him and wouldn't take anything. While we were getting the coffee we told the employees about what we are doing and they were so encouraged everyone behind the counter started smiling and talking at once. I'm telling you, encouraging people is contagious. 

I have a wonderful sweet blogger mom friend Jess. She has really been on my heart for a few weeks and I decided to make her a mustard yellow super slouch hat and mail it to her with an encouraging note. 

We stopped by a local nursing home and dropped off a handful of homemade cards from Judah. I think next time we encourage a nursing home I am going to call ahead of time and find out who needs the most encouragement to make it a bit more personalized. I just felt like some people get lost in the crowd and really want to be able to make an impact on someones heart. 

Thursday was my nephews school play. So we stopped by the grocery store and picked up flowers for my nieces and apples for my nephews. 

On Friday we were supposed to encourage the trash-men. But they showed up super early and we missed them! I knew I had to go to the post office to mail some orders and one of my IG mama friends Andy gifted me a Starbucks card. So I stopped by Starbucks and picked up a bunch of coffees for the post office staff. When we arrived the line was out the door, the staff looked really discouraged, I explained that I wasn't cutting anyone in line I just had to drop something off first and walked up to the counter. The staff was so encouraged! They even cheered for us in the back room. 

Sunday I called the Fairfax Fire Department and asked them if we could drop off some freshly baked blueberry muffins for them. They were excited and said come on by. 

They were so nice! They bent down and spoke to Judah as he gave him their muffins then gave Judah the grand tour of the firehouse. Showing him each fire truck, ambulance and even showed him where they store the ladders in the truck. I'm not sure who was more encouraged Judah or the firemen. 

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

no words

It was hard to start this post or any post since Friday. Every time I start to write it I think someone isn't able to hold their child anymore and then I start to cry.

Friday I was standing in line at the post office, ready to gift our friends that work there some Starbucks coffee. My phone started beeping with breaking news. I read that their was a shooting at a Connecticut Elementary school, I recognized the area and almost dropping my phone I called my little sister Kaylee in Connecticut. She said it happened down the street from her sons school but they are okay and she will call me later. 

If left the post office and sat in my car for awhile, I couldn't move, I couldn't stop crying. This hit way to close to home but more than that mothers and fathers have lost their children to a horrific shooting in a safe place a school. As a mother I kept thinking will Judah ever be safe with out me. Do I have to worry about taking him to the mall to see Santa, to the movies or even to school. We were just watching my 3rd grade nephews play at his school the night before and I was thinking its almost time for Judah to start school.

Leaving the post office I would normally go home and put Judah down for a nap. But I drove him to a park, not caring that it was past his nap time . I couldn't sit and read my twitter, people arguing about gun control, CNN posting videos of interviewing traumatized children and story after story about the shooting update. My heart couldn't take it, I couldn't think about what was going on. My primary responsibility at that moment was to take care of my son, to hold him tighter to let him run and play at the park and for him to see that his mother is okay. I was grateful that he is to young for me to have to explain what happened. I kept trying to hide back the tears as I watched him run around the park, stand and point at squirrels running by and double over in a full on belly laugh. I just kept thinking those parents will never hear their children's laugh again, or be able to just watch them chase squirrels or get their hugs. 

I am angry and heartbroken. This should never have happened. Tomorrow those children should be starting one of their last weeks of school before Christmas break. They should have been hanging out with their friends and family this past weekend, sleeping in, decorating the Christmas tree, playing, watching a Saturday night movie. But someone took their precious lives away from us. I don't fully understand and am not sure if I ever truly will, I have no words for the ache in my heart and can't imagine what these parents are going through right now. If you feel pretty helpless like I do and if your looking for a way to help the  Huffington Post wrote an article on how to do so.

Hug your children a bit tighter today and always. 
Let us never forget these children and teachers. 
Let us come together and form a safe community for our children.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

starwars birthday party

Last Saturday we had some family and friends over to celebrate Judah's second birthday. It was Star Wars themed. I had planned his party for months and was prepared to take a bunch of pictures. But 15 minutes before the guests arrive I decided I was going to cut out a Millennium Falcon to go around the dip dish, I was distracted and ended up slicing my finger really bad. We were going to leave to go to the ER Clinic when my sister and brother in laws Sonya and Kevin arrived with their four kids. Sonya is a nurse and while she was helping me with my finger the boys immediately started to teach Judah how to play with the cardboard light sabers I made them.

One of my sweet blogger mama friends Kendra showed up with her daughter Evelyn and her son Warner. 

My other sister in law Kristyn and husband Paul showed up with their two girls. 

I wanted to take pictures of the food but didn't get a chance to since I sliced my finger. We had cupcakes with Darth Vader and Storm Trooper rings on top, lots of candy, star wars themed sugar cookies, pretzel sticks dipped in frosting to look like "lite sabers"and I made pulled pork sandwiches "Chewy burgers" and had Princess Lay chips on the side. 

The kids loved the Darth Vader piƱata. The girls just wanted to play in the sand box, Faith tapped Darth Vader while the boys busted him open. 

Judah had so much sugar! He kept opening up lollipops, take a few licks then throw it on the ground and do it all over again with a new lollipop. 

After the party we ended the afternoon by hanging out in the park in the backyard. The kids were able to run off some of their sugar high. 

I think next year I will have Scott take the pictures or have him keep the sharp scissors away from me for any last minute party ideas I may have. 

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