Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just in Time for Halloween: A Haunted House Tale

Maybe it's because we moved a lot when I was a kid, so we were never anywhere long enough for me to be too attached to a house to notice. Or maybe it's because our house was the one all the teenagers hung out at so there was too much commotion to think anything of it. It could even be that all of us secretly wondered but were too embarrassed to mention it. Until now.

I'm just going to say it. My parents' house is haunted. I feel ridiculous even suggesting it. There's no such thing as ghosts; that's just silliness. But once the subject was broached (In a serious manner, that is. My mom always joked about it when we were kids and she would ask who had done something, and my sister and I would feign ignorance. Her response was always, "Well, the little ghosties must have done it then!"), it turns out there's a lot more evidence to support it than one would think.

It all started in 1990 when my parents moved into the house they live in now. It's a patio home - basically a fancier version of a duplex. One wall is shared between their house and their neighbor's. The neighbor is an older woman who lives alone. I often would wake up in the middle of the night and hear voices talking, but I thought it was the neighbor. Why, I have no idea. Who would she be talking to? At 3am? In her garage which is what my room butted up against? (I was a naive, trusting teen who saw the world through rose-colored glasses as I believe all kids should be able to do.) Anyway, it never occurred to me to mention it.

Fast-forward a decade, the longest my parents have ever lived in the same dwelling. They've been empty nesters for awhile, and attribute a certain amount of questionable sights and sounds to their age, as do we. So when my dad says he hears my mom say something and she didn't, or my mom swears she heard my dad walking around upstairs when she was in the basement but finds he's still not home from work when she goes back up, none of us think much of it. We certainly don't attribute something ethereal to it. This type of thing went on for several years.

Then last year, something happened that took the spooky level up a notch. My great-aunt was staying at my parents' house while she was in town, and in the night needed to use the restroom. She got up, but the door to the bathroom was closed and the light was on. She heard the floor squeak and assumed my dad was in there, so she walked back to her room to wait. In doing so, she passed my parents' room. And my dad was sitting on the edge of the bed. My mom was next to him, still asleep. She mentioned she thought my dad was in the bathroom which clearly he wasn't, and he was about to get up to go there as well. They went back and the light was off and the door was open.

Now, I realize that this seems like it could have been that she dreamt it, and she is also advanced in age, but it was enough to prompt a discussion the next day. And that's when we discovered that all of us had at different times experienced odd happenings. We just had attributed them to our own inadequacies and shrugged them off. Suddenly, it seemed like way too many coincidences to be just that - coincidence. But we still didn't have a smoking gun, if you will.

Until a few months ago. My parents have a fireplace, above which is a mantel. On the mantel is a glass-domed clock we'd given them one Christmas among other decor. Above the clock is a large painting, probably two feet wide by three feet tall. It has a wire that runs across the back and hangs on two hooks. One night as my parents were sleeping all snug in their beds, there was a huge CRASH! They stumbled out to the living room and saw that the picture had fallen down on the clock and both had shattered on the hearth. The picture hooks were still in the wall. The wire was still intact. Something made that picture come up off the hooks and fall down on the mantel.

And that, my friends, was the final nail in the coffin. In my mind, there are definitely ghosts living in that house. Good thing they don't live in New York and have to disclose that if they decide to sell. Any other theories?

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Heart Is Breaking

I hate to go back down the road to depressing posts, but my happy Friday screeched to a halt around 4pm. I was too upset to write about it before now, and I really don't want to dwell on it, but I need to put the update out there because I may not post for a bit while I resolve some things.

Our part-time daycare provider called on Friday to let me know that per her doctor's orders, she couldn't watch the kids anymore. She'd found out on Tuesday, but was too upset to talk about it until then. I had had my suspicions, but was living in denial. S LOVES her. Loves her like she loves my mom and me. It is going to break her little heart to stop seeing her during the week. Of course we will still visit, but it is going to turn her little world upside down. And of course, I'm worried about the provider and her health.

I hung up the phone and collected myself. I finished up some work, and thought about what to do next. I called my parents when I left the office to let them know and see if they could help out by watching the girls more than they usually do (they are the other half of our childcare scenario). My voice broke in the middle of the message, and I had to hang up. I cried all the way to the restaurant where I was meeting DH and the kids for dinner along with a couple we are friends with.

Since I arrived first, I had a few minutes to pull myself together. I got us a table, ordered a glass of wine, and relaxed. I was excited to see my babies, and decided to wait to talk to DH until later that night. Right after our food was brought out, my parents called. I answered and the first thing my dad said was, "You're going to need to find someone else to watch the girls for awhile." I asked him what he meant. He said my mom had tripped and fallen and sprained one arm and broken the other.

This just put me over the edge. I excused myself from the table and went outside where I started bawling. I managed to spit out words of concern for my mom through the gasped breaths and sobs, and my dad tried to talk me down. Right then DH came out to check on me. I told Dad I'd call him later and hung up. DH asked me what was wrong and I told him the condensed version. He gave me a big hug and I pulled myself together again, and went back in to finish dinner.

It kills me to not be able to be home with our kids. Finding a sitter who was willing to do part-time and who we loved was a miracle. I'm pessimistic about being able to replicate such a wonderful scenario. But I'm determined to make it happen. So I'll be taking the next week or two to juggle the kids and find someone new. Thankfully I work for a wonderful company that is being really understanding about it. So hopefully you will be, too, dear readers as I take this short leave of absence. Here's hoping my next post is filled with good results!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Would You Like Some Cheese with Your Whine?

Jiminy Christmas - what is up with these blog posts? Suck it up, already! Maybe it's because it's Friday, maybe it's because I'm done wallowing, maybe it's because the family photo is done - whatever it is, my usual optimistic mood is back. And halle-frickin'-lujah, it's about time. I have so much to be happy about and thankful for. I just need to get over the negativity.

Sunday, I saw a little girl at the counter at QuikTrip (the best gas station on the planet, I might add). She was somewhere between 5 and 7 years old I would guess. Adorable - long, soft, curly brown hair, glasses, sweet smile, bubbly attitude - and suffering from some kind of disability that kept her from being able to walk. Her mom had to carry her wherever she went. She also had had a tracheotomy at some point. But she was happy as a lark.

We smiled at each other. And it was a genuine smile on my part. Not one of those, I'm-going-to-smile-because-it's-the-right-thing-to-do kind of smiles, but one that you can't help but make because the other person's joy is infectious. I left with tears in my eyes, thanking God for blessing us with healthy babies. And then I realized, the real lesson here is not to be thankful for that (which I am), but be joyful in the face of adversity. And really, what adversity do I face, middle-class, employed white girl with a happy marriage and 2 healthy kids? In the big picture? Nothing.

Seeing that little smiling face was a gift from God. I wish she could know how much she blessed me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Working Mommy Wednesday: You Know You're Stressed When...

One of this week's prompts is "You know your stressed when..."

Ha! Perfect timing. I am stressed right now about....a lot of things. My parents, my kids, my work, my house, my body. How do I know? My shoulders are so tight they almost reach my ears, my stomach is crampy, my jaw hurts from clenching it, I'm cranky and short-tempered with everyone, I just want to eat crappy food, and Monday night after I had a fight with our 3-year-old because she informed me that SHE was in charge, I was so angry that I cleaned the kitchen, did the dishes, a load of laundry and tidied the living room instead of going to bed like I had planned since I was so exhausted. On the upside, I was happy to see a clean kitchen Tuesday morning.

What do I do when I'm stressed? Well, some things that are better than others. Usually, have a pity party and eat chocolate and watch TV. What helps my stress? Exercising, talking it out, going to church, eating healthy foods, getting a good night's sleep. I felt a little better yesterday after typing up my rant and doing my push ups. Still have a long way to go, but I'll get there! Need to focus on the positive.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm In Charge!

Pardon me - this is an unusually long post.

I'm feeling really stressed out. I had a great time in St. Louis over the weekend visiting my sister, but our house is a disaster area, and not having a weekend to work on it meant it was even worse when I got back. Though DH was AMAZING and had the exterminator come, cleaned the carpets, put the safety locks on the cabinets and did a load of dishes and tidied a bit for me. But I need to clean, like spring clean. BADLY.

We've been in our new house for a little over a year, and since we had a newborn last spring, I didn't do any deep cleaning. (I was mucho sleep deprived, and a little busy.) And this house is twice the square footage of our old house, so it's not like I could just knock it out in a weekend. I'm guessing I'll need about 4 uninterrupted workdays to get everything I want to get done, done.

My allergies have been terrible because I don't think I've dusted the dressers or bookshelves in our bedroom in at least 6 months. I haven't put out Halloween decorations yet - I LOVE decorating for the holidays - because I need to clean before I can decorate, and I just don't have the time/energy. (Deducting more and more Martha Points as I write this.) I can't stand having a dirty house. But everyone tells me not to worry about it - time with the kids is more important. I couldn't agree more. And I've been pretty good about not letting it get to me, as long as I can keep the kitchen clean. But the dirt in the rest of the house has accumulated to the point that I watch the ceiling fan in our bedroom spin and fear chunks of dust will fly off and suffocate me as I sleep.

Not to mention that the kids clothes need to be switched out for sizes/seasons. I need to buy new clothes because I'm gaining weight instead of losing it (BIG sad face). We are having a family picture taken with my in-laws on Thursday, and my MIL is trying to coordinate our outfits, and all I can think is, I don't care what we wear as long as my big butt is behind everyone else.

And she's worried about it being perfect, and I asked DH to remind her that we have two small children. Our family photos with just the four of us have never turned out with one that was perfect. Close, but not quite. The last time we actually have one with all 4 of us smiling, but it was at the very end when I had just pulled my hair back into a ponytail so I could jump around like a crazy person to get the girls to smile for their shots, and then we decided to try one more group one (seriously?) so even though we are all smiling, I look less than put together.

Plus, a week ago, I sprained my ankle at softball. Seriously sprained. I mentioned it in passing in this post. It was worse than a standard sprain because it's from an old injury. (Funny story. Not to self - share it later.) Anyway, though I was icing it every night and wearing an ACE bandage all the time, I was limping. This caused my back to get out of whack. By Thursday, I didn't need the ACE bandage anymore, but I was having a hard time picking up the girls.

It didn't help that I slept on the couch in St. Louis so I could be in the same room as Baby R. And sat in the car for 4 hours straight on the way there. And 5.5 on the way back. (UGH! SO much easier when they slept the whole way there!) So like a ding-dong, I played softball again Sunday (double header), since you know, there's no back twisting when you're, I don't know - BATTING! Or THROWING! So by last night, I could barely move without being in pain.

Of course, there's always the office. I used to really like my job and the people I work with and for the sake of decorum, suffice it to say that there are two people who now frustrate me and test my patience on a daily basis. Today one of them insinuated that the work I was doing was less important than the work she was doing. I came this close to firing off a retort, but didn't. I bite my tongue so much I feel like it is going to get sliced right off. She's a bull in a China shop and tries to boss everyone around. Literally every single person in the office feels that way. So frustrating.

Then my afternoon came to a nice head when my other favorite work person called me about a project and wanted to know why I hadn't proceeded with the changes she had requested. I reminded her that she had just copied me on the email asking the buyer if the changes were needed, but never gave me the directive to make the changes. Then she brought to my attention that the item name she had typed in the email wasn't entirely accurate. Oh, and the requested changes also applied to the six items she had attached to the email. None of which were listed in the subject line or body of the email. Which doesn't really matter since she refuses to reply to the original email I send her anyway. Sigh.

I also feel as though I've taken on more than I can chew at this point. I signed up for us to be a Nielsen family. I thought we were going to be reviewing TV shows. My sister did it, and I know what it entails. But it turns out we were chosen to do their shopping surveys. I was excited about it at first. They send you a UPC scanner, you enter your shopping receipt information and upload it once a week. Piece of cake! Except when your husband forgets to keep the receipt, or you don't get a chance to scan everything the same day you buy it and the packaging with the UPCs get thrown away, etc. So I've been feeling behind the 8 ball the last couple of weeks trying to get it done, and I've cut too many corners. I don't like doing a job and not doing it well, so I decided today that I need to tell them I just can't do it right now.

And I've kind of blown off my blog and blogging goals. Boo. One of the things I love, but I usually let go first.

One of the biggest things that is bothering me is my parents' health. My mom's memory is getting worse. I'm still in denial. But my dad is doing a diabetes study in the middle of November so we are going to juggle child care so that my mom doesn't have to take care of the girls by herself. But that means 8 straight days of being alone. There's no way she can do that and not completely lose it. So I'm putting together a schedule of sorts to make sure she's got company every 2 hours.

It's hard because my sister is in St. Louis, and since she travels for work, she won't be able to come to KC that week. And my parents don't really have a lot of friends who are nearby and/or mobile anymore. Thankfully my half-sister is here and incredibly wonderful and willing to help out. But I already know it's going to wear on me - and DH. And in the back of my mind, I can't help thinking about when my dad is gone, and what that is going to mean for my mom.

And this temporary daycare situation with S is about to put me over the edge. She has picked up SOOO many bad habits. She threw her worst tantrum ever a couple of weeks ago - like a scene from a movie, shoving all the papers, books and toys off the coffee table. Last night as we were snuggling before bedtime, all of a sudden she looked at me and shook her little finger in my face and yelled, "I'M IN CHARGE! YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT I SAY!"

I was so startled, I just looked at her, giving it a minute to sink in and figure out what was going on. I was trying to decide if she was replaying something that had happened at daycare, or if she was playing with her imaginary friends and bossing them around, or actually talking to me. She ranted on and on throwing in an "I'm very upset!" and a "I just don't know what to do" (which, ahem, is all me), but most of the rest of it I had no idea what she was talking about. Something about having to take care of me? I finally realized, she was really telling me that she was in charge... of... me. Ummmm, N-O. I firmly told her, "No, Daddy and I are in charge." "NO YOU'RE NOT! I AM!"

I honestly don't remember how the rest of the conversation went. I got so angry. I do know that I yelled and argued much more than someone who is truly in charge should have. It was the straw that broke the camel's back that was already in so much pain.

The upside is that I was so pissed off, I cleaned the kitchen, did the dishes, two loads of laundry and tidied the living room instead of going to bed early (or even on time). And I still had energy left over for Julia's push-up challenge. Enough to do all 20 in one set for the first time. (Check out the FitLink widget log on the sidebar!) So if I check the stress balance, it should have gone down a bit. How come it doesn't feel like it?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kid Stuff

Yesterday Baby R turned 11 months old. Can it be that in just 30 days, she will have been a part of our family for a full year? It doesn't seem possible. Love that little punkin'.

As does her big sister who decided to put on one of Baby R's onesies the other day. It took me a second to realize it. S is 3 years old. THREE. She wears size 4T. Baby R wears 18 mos. But S does have a small head and is skinny, so though I was shocked that she managed to get it on at all, I found a way to believe it.

She's been cracking me up, per usual. One thing she started a few weeks ago is after we say Grace, she says, "Amen, sister!" She's been going to the different daycare so now she's added a few variations on things like wanting to hold hands when we pray, which I love, and she's been saying "sister" a little less frequently, but I have to stifle a giggle every time she does say it.

Another thing that happened a while ago was that I asked her to do something and then said, "Does that sound like a plan, Stan?" She looked at me, confused, and said, "Mommy, I'm not Stan! Stan's our neighbor!" I couldn't help but laugh. I told her she was right, and it was just a saying. 

Yesterday we were out back after dinner, and S saw the neighbor in their yard with their dog, so we went over to say hello. They've been gracious enough to let her jump on their trampoline, so she wanted to do that, of course. DH had been talking about doing flips from his knees, so I put him on the spot and told S he was going to show her how to do it. Gotta give him props - he pulled it off! It was really cute. Then he got down from the tramp, and S was still playing while we adults chatted. I heard her singing and looked over, and she was high-stepping around the edge and pumping one arm singing, "(something, something, something) Amer-i-ca! (something, something, something) Amer-i-ca!" Apparently we've managed to raise quite the patriot without even knowing it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Little things I love

Hugs from my babies
Hugs from my hubby
Hugs from my family/friends
When DH unexpectedly does something around the house for me, like putting the dishes away, or doing a load of laundry
Date night with my hubby
When S tells me she loves me or thanks me for something
Playing with the girls
Watching the girls play with Daddy
Watching the sunset
Watching the sunrise
Watching a movie with my honey
Looking for shooting stars
Hiking in the mountains
Playing volleyball
Playing softball
Being barefoot
Being pregnant
Soft sheets
My husband's caress
Sweating from a good work out
Hearing the girls laughing
Hearing my favorite song on the radio
Hearing the cicadas signal the start of summer
Hearing raindrops thump against the window on a lazy day
Snuggling in bed with the family on Saturday morning
When strangers hold the door open for each other
When the person in front of me in line has a cart full of groceries and they let me go ahead of them because I only have a couple of things
Smelling dessert baking in the oven
The smell of fresh cut grass
The smell of DH making barbecue in the smoker
The sweet baby scent of our girls after bathtime
Catching snowflakes on my tongue
Steak and potatoes and corn on the cob
Mom's spaghetti
Vegetables fresh from our garden
Beau Jo's pizza
Pomegranates and mangoes in season

Thanks, Julia, for this prompt! I'm in a great mood now!

Never Say Goodbye

"Never Say Goodbye" was just on the radio. I heart Bon Jovi. They are the musical equivalent to my first boyfriend in high school. They were my first concert, my first teen idols. The first poster that adorned my wall was one similar to this. (My heart's aflutter just thinking about it!)  Sigh. The nostalgia conjured up by listening to that song gave me goosebumps and made me giggle like a school girl.

My husband mocks them (even though he owns some of their albums) and says Jon's gay (his response to every guy I have on my "laminated" list). I know he does it just to torment me. I tell him whatever, Jon married his high school sweetheart, Dorothea (does it get any more romantic!), and even though they didn't actually go to prom (like in the song), they're still together, and they have 4 kids. And his last name is really spelled Bongiovi, and he's from Sayreville, NJ (which I made my parents drive past the sign to when we did our roadtrip back East) and his first movie role was a cameo in Young Guns II (which I pointed out to DH when it was on TV a couple of weeks ago). Ok, yes, I was a little obsessed. First teen idols, remember? How is that worse than you knowing a baseball player's stats? Besides, he's also known for his charitable works (not quite on Bono's scale mind you - ah, Bono, another of my loves for a later post), and for that, I can forgive him for being a Democrat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


This morning started with our 3-yr-old crying to come get her when she woke up. That is never a good sign. I try to give her extra TLC on those mornings because she is usually still tired and needing some loves. But today was just one of those days when no matter what I offered, she one-upped it, and I couldn't make her happy.

It started with her wanting me to carry her downstairs. I have been telling her for some time now that I won't be able to carry her anywhere much longer - she's just too big. It doesn't help that I still have to carry Baby R since she can't walk yet. And I sprained my ankle at softball Sunday night (I'm too old for double headers!), so I definitely couldn't carry her today. She was fussing about it, and I told her she needed to be quiet because I didn't want her to wake up Baby R. She wanted me to hold her, and I told her I would love to and offered to snuggle in bed for a few minutes. She didn't want to. She wanted me to carry her downstairs.

After trying to circumvent the inevitable by appeasing some of her requests and trying to cajole her into going downstairs for breakfast, I realized it was going to be a battle of wills kind of morning. And when that happens, I have to be the tough guy. I tried to be calm. She was wailing on the stairs and I told her if she woke up the baby, I would be angry, and she would be in trouble. Of course, Baby R woke up. I was boiling. I struggle with my temper, but I bit my tongue and went into the nursery. I saw Baby R's sweet little face and was able to bring myself back under control by the time I got her changed and dressed, despite the howling on the staircase a few feet away.

I hobbled past S on the staircase and asked her to join us; all the while she was yelling, "Mommy! Mommy! Carry me!" She finally made it down to the kitchen on her own, and I got her distracted by talking about breakfast. After I poured the cereal, she said she wanted to sit on my lap. I told her I would love that, she just needed to change out of her Pull-up so it wouldn't leak on my work pants and handed her clean underwear. (That sounds insensitive - the kid just wanted to be held! But we had talked about this the last couple of days because she's had a leaky diaper a few times this past week, so it didn't come as a surprise to her.) She screamed that she didn't want to take the Pull-up off, and threw the underwear on the floor. I calmly told her she needed to pick it up, because we don't throw things when we are angry. And that was the beginning of the end.

Her tantrum lasted 30 minutes. In that time, I tried Love & Logic, time out, and finally a spanking (all without raising my voice), but she just dug in her heels. In the end, I had to put the underwear on her and put her in the carseat mostly naked where she continued to scream. At that point, I finally couldn't keep it in and yelled, "I AM VERY, VERY, VERY ANGRY RIGHT NOW!" I was not happy with myself for yelling, but I was glad I was able to hold out for that long, and that I used an "I" sentence. It could have been worse, but it certainly could have been better. I have no idea how Mrs. Dugger does it.

The commute was lots of fun today because Baby R has reached the age where she hates her carseat, so she usually screams from the time I put her in it until I take her out. It was like they were having a contest to see who could cry louder. And it was raining today so I couldn't roll down the windows like I usually do to keep my ears from bleeding.

As we drove away from the house, the sun started to peek out though my windshield wipers kept running. This provided a little distraction because it gave us the opportunity to look for a rainbow. By the time we were almost to my parents' house, one had appeared in the sky behind us. When we got out of the car to drop off Baby R, we went outside to look at it, and S was all smiles. As we were waving goodbye to Baby R and heading to preschool, the sun started shining brightly, and the rainbow faded away. S had calmed down by then, but I was still holding on to my frustration (though I was staying calm with her). She said, "Mommy, it stopped raining. Isn't that amazing? If it starts to rain again, the rainbow will come back." It melted my heart to hear her say that, reminding me of God's covenant with us. No matter what happens, how many tantrums we have, the rainbow comes back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flash Forward

Most of the time I look at my girls and think time is going by too quickly. Don't get me wrong - we have those days that seem like they will never end when every little thing is tantrum-worthy. But in general, I feel like they are getting so big, and though I'm excited about each new accomplishment, I'm not ready to relinquish them to the next stage when it comes. Yesterday was the first time I thought about them being older. Much older.

Yesterday was October 10, 2010 - 10/10/10. The last ten years we've all noted that there's been a date with all the same numbers for the month, date and year. Yesterday it occurred to me that there are only two years with dates like that left in my lifetime. And more to the point, in my girls' lifetimes. I was startled to make that realization. I mentioned it to S since she's old enough to understand a little bit. It's likely that in a couple of years she really will be able to remember 12/12/12 when it happens. But Baby R probably won't. Unless they live to be over 100 years old.

Once that thought entered my mind, it was as though I watched their lives unfold before me in a blink of an eye. I pictured them white-haired, wrinkled, sitting on rocking chairs. They had families and grandbabies and had lived long full lives. And I was happy for them in that instant.

In a snap I was back to the present and feeling somewhat wistful that I won't be able to witness that imagined life. Just another of many times I'm reminded to soak up each second I have with them since it will be over before I know it. So thankful to have these precious girls while I do!

Friday, October 8, 2010

NOTES {by redletter design studio}

Exquisite. Original. Classy. And at the same time, cute and fun.

Wednesday I had lunch with my dear friend, Stephanie, who is all those things and more. We were discussing the usual topics - work, hubbies, family, struggles, joys. She's been really supportive of my dive into the blogging world and given me a lot of great feedback. She just launched an Etsy store and has had a wonderful response - 100 fans on Facebook within a couple of weeks. (You will want to be one, too, after seeing the images below, so click here.) I have been telling her she should start a blog of her own as another PR source. She's a little busy filling orders, so in the meantime, I told her I'd love to do a product review on my blog.

This is my first foray into official review-writing, so I want to start by saying that I take a firm stance on only promoting products I truly believe are of the highest quality, and that I, myself, own and use. I have known Stephanie for over 10 years; she is not only a gifted designer, but also has a strong work ethic and solid morals, meaning I trust her and her products. So without further ado....NOTES {by redletter design studio}!

Those adjectives listed at the top of this post? They also apply to redletter's NOTES. From invitations to thank you cards to art prints, NOTES offers stationery items to suit any need.

American Girl dolls are all the rage, in part because of the ability of kids to craft one-of-a-kind toys that can be exactly like them. The Looks Like Me line by NOTES takes this to another dimension. Kids can select their physical features, outfits and font.

Another item I love is the gift cards. Have you ever gone to a birthday party and several of the cards are the same one? It's inevitable in the traditional markets to find overlapping products. NOTES gift cards are unique and memorable.

Christmas is just around the corner (can you believe it?), and NOTES has beautiful personalized cards.

Even though email and texting are the most common way to communicate these days, who doesn't love getting snail mail? I always flip past the bills and junk mail to see if I got any actual letters and open those first, don't you? The Bird Family Note Pad is perfect for jotting a quick letter to drop in the mail, or just using for shopping and to do lists around the house.

Finally, whether you are fan of old-fashioned correspondence or not, we all have some envelopes that must be sent for bills that can't be paid online or birthday cards that go to Grandma who hasn't embraced computer technology. And there's nothing more humdrum than writing out your address repeatedly. Whoever thought of address labels was a genius! NOTES takes that basic invention and adds flair. My favorites are the monogrammed ones.

I could go on and on about all the products, but check out the Etsy shop for yourselves! And if you love it, like I think you will, grab the button from my sidebar.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Is Our Kid Weird? No, Really....

Our daughter, S, is three years old. I find her brilliant, funny and loving. Of course, I talk about her all the time. (Yes, I'm one of those annoying moms with yet another anecdote every morning for my co-workers. They wait on the edge of their seats for me to walk in so they can hear them, I know.)

Here are some recent ones:
S was muttering something under her breath, so I asked her to repeat what she'd said, and she told me she was just talking to herself. I suppose that's something we learn to do eventually, though I think it was more a choice on her part than absent-mindedness. :)

A couple of weeks ago I switched out my purse to a brown one for fall, and when I got out my keys, S said, "Mommy! That bag is soooo cute!" I told her thank you, and she said, "When I get bigger, I can have your bag. And your keys." It's good to have goals.

Apparently she has some that take the keys to the next level. The car itself. The other day I picked S up from my parents' house after work, and she climbed into the front seat and pretended to drive while I talked to my mom. Mom said, "Hey! I didn't know you got your driver's license already!" S gave her a bit of a quizzical look, and I shooed her into the back to get in her car seat so we could meet one of her friends at Chick-Fil-A for a playdate. After the kids ate, they were in the playplace and S got into the cow car. She banged on the window to get my attention and yelled, "Hey, Mom! I'm gettin' my driver's license!" Then she climbed down and pretended to hand it to me to hold for her while she went to play on the slide.

Of course, some of the funniest things kids do is parrot us. When my dad would start to get frustrated with us when we were kids, he would say, "You're pushing your luck." That was always the yellow light that told us to proceed with caution. Now I sometimes hear S say it, and I do my best not to smile because I know exactly where she got it from.

She's also taken to saying, "Sure, sure." I didn't really get it for awhile, and then one day it dawned on my that I say that all. the. time! "Could you pick up the girls earlier Wednesday?" "Oh, sure, sure." "Does that make sense?" "Sure, sure." I had no idea it was a catch phrase of mine.

Occasionally S does something weird, and I just laugh it off, "Kids! They do the weirdest things!" But then I recount the tale to others, and they give an awkward laugh or squirm in their seat or have a slightly puzzled look on their faces, and I think, "It's just because she's smart for her age. They don't understand," or something.

For example, yesterday I was telling a co-worker the following story. I have been trying to teach S things like DH's and my first and last names as well as what street we live on in case, God forbid, she gets lost. So Tuesday on the way home from preschool, she asked me what street the preschool was on. I told her, and then I asked her what street she lived on.

S: "Tangtong Street." (See Kiddos.)

Me: "You do? Hmmm, that's interesting. I thought we lived on A--- Road."

S: "Yeah, you and Daddy and Baby R live there. But I don't."

Me: "What? Why don't you live with us?"

S: "Well, I will, but right now I need to stay with Tangtong."

Me: "I see. Well, I wish you lived with us. I will miss you."

S: "I know. But it's not too far."

I thought this was an amusing interaction. But after I finished telling about it, my co-worker gave me one of those reactions, so I said something about kids being weird. Then I thought, hmmm maybe she really is weird? I mean, not in the standard everybody's-a-little-weird kind of way. Do other 3-year-olds imagine they live away from their families like it's not a big deal? Anyone else have a weird kid story?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

B2S/B2B Assignment 4: Important Bloggers in my Blogging Life

As a newly publicized blogger, I don't have a lot of followers yet, so I'd just like to highlight a few of people who have been instrumental in helping and inspiring me.

First up, Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points. I don't remember how I found out about Lori's post on the Rainbow Cake (which I've since learned originated with Gigi!), but I was laughing so hard, I had to forward the link to several friends to check it out. Each time I came back to forward it, I read another post. Lori sounded like the kind of gal I'd like to hang out with eating cake and candy (not bread and cough drops). I commented on her posts, she commented back - Lori was the first person I really interacted with via the blog world.

Next is Julia @ Work, Wife, Mom... Life! I started following Julia... well, officially? Today, actually. But I've been reading her since around August. I found her through Lori's blog roll, and I've really enjoyed her posts. And she has a really cool blog design. :)

What brought Julia to this list has to do with last week's B2S/B2B assignment. I was struggling with figuring out how to add a badge to my site, and I made a post on Blog Frog, but hadn't heard back from anyone. I commented on something Julia said about Twitter, and she wrote back with some suggestions for me, and then asked if there was anything else I wondered about it because she was going to do another post with tips for newbies like me. I really appreciated her asking my opinion, so asked if she could maybe help me figure out how to add the badge and code to my site. She gave me the scoop, and now I have a lovely badge for all to copy!

I really thought blogging was going to be more isolated and when there was interaction that it would be brisk and business-like, but I'm finding that all those who post about making bloggy friends are right. Julia illustrated just how nice and helpful other bloggers are!

And finally, Gigi from Kludgy Mom without whom I would not be posting this! I could not have found Gigi at a more perfect time. I expound on this more in this post, but I started blogging for me, and just last spring submitted a post to Mamapedia. That led me to revamp my blog to be public. This summer, I started looking at more blogs and found Kludgy Mom a couple of weeks before Gigi started Back to School/Back to Blogging. It has been such an amazing experience! I cannot thank her enough for all she's done.

There are others, but you three are the ones who first came to mind. I think this was a wonderful assignment. I'm considering adding a "Star of the Week" type of thing to my blog highlighting everyone, and why I love them. Who doesn't love praise?

Working Mommy Wednesday

I have been reading Julia at Work, Wife, Mom... Life! for awhile now, and thought the Working Mommy Wednesdays were a great idea, but with Gigi's B2S/B2B assignments, I've not gotten around to partaking until today!

 Julia gave two prompts for today's topic, and this is the one I chose (I may have to do a top 10 list as well later if I get a chance!)

Best Afternoon Pick Me Up
A nap followed by a snack of Mr. Pibb and some combination of chocolate and nuts (peanut M&Ms, Snickers, etc.). The first one is good for you, but entirely unattainable (at least for me except on the rare occasions I can wrangle one on the weekend). I know the second is not, but that's what works for me in my little office. Which is partly why my little tush is not so little anymore. I keep telling myself, I'll start to get more sleep, then I'll have the energy to exercise over lunch, and then I won't have the afternoon crash. If I ever get to that point, it will be true. Just...not...there...yet....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

B2S/B2B Assignment 3

Kludgy Mom

I'm behind this week. Well, it's already next week, so I'm behind from last week. Anyway, last week, Kludgy Mom's assignment was to apply one of the tips on how to grow my blog and then post about it.

So many great tips! I have already been doing some of them - joining blog networks, commenting, checking out blogrolls. But I've been thinking about making a badge for awhile, and that was also on the list, so I thought I would do that for my homework assignment. The problem was, I had no idea how to go about it. I knew how to add it to my sidebar, but I didn't know how to add the code below it for people to copy it.

So I did some research, and came up with...nothing. Thankfully, Julia at Work, Wife, Mom...Life! came to my rescue! I now have a cute little button on my blog. And to pay it forward, if any of you would like to add a badge, here's how.

This is the code you need to use:

Per Julia, "Replace the RED with your blog address (that will make sure the button is linked back to you), and replace the GREEN with the code to where you host your button." Julia's is hosted on Photobucket; mine is on Winkflash.

In Blogger, go to the Design tab, and click Add a Gadget. Select HTML/Java Script. Then in the content section, paste the code.

Voila! You have the code displayed on your page for all to enjoy.

The second part of the assignment was to address our goals and our plan to meet them. Uh, good question. I'm still not exactly sure what my goals are. I just decided to go public - really public - with this baby. So I guess my goals are to establish a solid group of followers and keep polishing my writing skills to keep them happy! But not to let it take over my life. 'Cause, I gotta be honest, this schoolwork has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of blogging in a new way, and I could literally spend my life, 24/7 on it.

As for a plan, I'm going to tackle all of the suggestions made through the lessons that I haven't yet completed over the next few months after we wrap up the official session. And I'm planning to establish future Septembers as my B2S/B2B spring cleaning time so I can keep up with the latest and greatest blog formats.

And now, since I'm way behind, I'm going to move on to the next assignment!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Up All Night

Back in the day, that meant I was out dancing with friends and then went to breakfast at IHOP, finally stumbling to bed around 4 or 5am. Since I've become a mom it often means trying to console a preschooler who's had a nightmare, a sick toddler, a teething baby or a wide-awake infant who hasn't adjusted to days and nights. The thing is that when I was out dancing all night, I could sleep all the next day if I wanted to. Even with only one kiddo, I could sleep when she slept during daylight hours. Now that we have two, if one is up all night, the other inevitably wakes up at 6:30am ready for the day. If I'm lucky, I can get both of them to nap for an overlapping period of up to an hour (but usually only 10 minutes).

When you're about to become a parent, everyone tells you to say goodbye to sleeping. You assume they mean the first couple of months when you're feeding on demand and up every two hours for 45 minutes. You hear that babies start sleeping through the night after a they're 3 or 4 months old (HA!), and look at that as the light at the end of the tunnel.

No one tells you they really mean you won't get a solid night's sleep for several years.

S was 2.5 when Baby R was born. At that point, S still woke up in the night at least 3-4 times a week, though by then, I could usually go in and lie down with her for 5 minutes and go back to bed. There were the occasional episodes of insomnia from 2am-4am, but for the most part, it was less traumatic sleep disruption for all of us.

When Baby R came, I was used to being sleep deprived so it wasn't quite the shock to my system that having S was. Luckily Baby R is a good sleeper, so has only been getting up once in the night for a feeding since she was about 3 months old. (Unbelievable!) When she's teething or sick it's a different story, but in general I get up once a night with her, and a couple of times a week, I get up once with S for a few minutes.

So now that Baby R is 10.5 months old, we are on the brink of weaning her from her bottle. Which means soon (in theory) we won't be having those nightly rendezvous. On the one hand, I'm hopeful it will go smoothly and once she gets used to it, she will continue to sleep well all night, and I'll only need to be up occasionally with her and her sister. (Sleep! Glorious sleep!) On the other, I'm somewhat sad to lose that time with her.

You see, big sister is a wonderful child who is definitely a mama's girl. She's more mobile, so the second I walk in the door, she's running into my arms. She's more verbal, so as soon as she sees my car pull into the garage, she's talking to me before I can even hear her. Baby R inevitably plays second fiddle to S at this point. I try really hard to split my time fairly with them, but right now S demands more attention. We're working on sharing, and I do as much as I can with both of them together, but some things require my focus to be on one or the other.

So our middle-of-the-night feeding time? That's Baby R's and my special alone time. No one is tugging on my sleeve saying, "Mama! Mama! Watch me! Watch me!" No one is asking me when supper will be ready or if there are clean clothes for work the next day or where something disappeared to. It's just me and Baby R. We snuggle. I hum a song. I say a prayer and thank God for our amazing babies. And we rock. Though I'm tired, I'm so full of love and joy with holding her in my arms, the time passes quickly. And lately, I sometimes wait a little longer to put her back in her crib since I know there are only a handful more nights when we'll be up together.
Real Time Analytics