Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday: June 30th

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Our future ballet bedroom- back when it was just a skeleton.  

Since then, our sheetrock was hung, mudded, taped, and sanded.  

THEN I took over.  

Step 1: clean dust from every nook and cranny.  

Step 2: wipe down the ceiling and walls.  

Step 3: Prime closet, ceiling, and walls.

Step 4: Paint ceiling.  

Step 5: Paint lavender base coat on walls.  

And here's where we are on this Tackle It Tuesday!  Still a work in progress.  

Next step: Paint brushed pearl finish over base coat.  In my dreams, this room will feel like a Lisa Jane print when we're all finished... In my dreams...

See more Tackles here!

Cookie Magazine and Cookie Press Giveaway

A few years ago, my big sister gave me a subscription to a parenting magazine I'd never heard of. The magazine was still fairly new at the time, and I'm not sure how many have heard of it even now.  I LOVE about this magazine not only because it's chock full of articles and information rather than an overabundance of advertising or flashy pictures as is the case in so many other magazines.  I love this magazine because the philosophy behind it is that our "mom" self and our "woman" self should not exist separately but as part of the same.  That's why the articles between the covers highlight our Mommy needs and interests as well as our personal needs and interests.  Even better, it strives to create a balance and harmony between our two selves, so that we can be our woman selves while mommying.  Honestly, isn't that what we'd all like?

And SO- to celebrate my 100th blog post, I'm giving away a free, 12 month subscription to Cookie Magazine!  

All this talk of cookies making your mouth water?  Not to worry, as an extra treat, I'm pairing this Progressive International cookie press with your magazine subscription!

To Enter: Browse through Cookie's Website and leave a comment about an article of interest to you OR share a link to a great cookie recipe!

Don't Stop There!  Take advantage of these opportunities for extra entries:

1 Entry: Follow my blog by adding yourself to the group on my right hand sidebar, and leave a comment letting me know that you follow me.

2 Entries: Blog about this delicious giveaway, and leave a comment letting me know where to find your blog!

1 Entry:  Link to Mammalog from your blog, and (yep- you guessed it) don't forget to leave a comment and let me know!

** Please leave a valid email address for contact purposes!

Deadline for entries: Tuesday, July 7th 11:59 PM CST 

The winner will be chosen using random.org and will be notified by email.  A response is required within 3 days or the prize will be awarded to another participant.

Country Radio: Molding Young Minds Three Minutes at a Time

I used to think  that country music was child friendly, that I could turn on a country radio station and not worry about my children's little, impressionable minds.  For the past couple years, the minivan's radio is largely tuned to Christian or talk radio.  When I gave up my regular country station, Rascal Flat's first album, "Getting Better All The Time" was popular (and still is in THIS home)!  

Today I spent several hours alone painting the new house.  The clearest station I could tune to from the middle of nowhere was our local country station.  Don't get me wrong, I still love country music.  My I-Tunes list is largely country or Christian, and my I-Pod is saturated with up-beat country music to run to.  HOWEVER... I was very happy that my ears were the only ones that heard the new country hits today!  Several of the songs were about one-night-stands, a couple centered around alcohol addictions, and still others were sounds about women pining away for jerky lovers.  

A couple of the songs I remember from today:

"There is no Arizona" Jamie O'Neal
"I'm just talking about tonight" Toby Keith (I could do a whole post on him!)

I'm not sure if I'm just more aware of content now that my kids are getting older or if my normal Christian radio sets a higher standard when it comes to lyrics, but I DO NOT plan to start tuning into country radio regularly any time soon!  

Monday, June 29, 2009

Consumed-- Potty Training Report

It's pathetic how potty training consumes a mommy's life. Just 6 days ago, I changed diapers throughout the day with nary a thought about it. Now, my world revolves around monitoring my daughter's behavior and keeping track of the passing time between potty breaks. All the obsession seems to be paying off. Last Wednesday, I pledged 5 days of consistent effort to be followed by an assessment of Little Miss' progress/interest. I really think we've progressed quite nicely.

Day 1: one accident
Day 2: NO accidents
Day 3: two accidents (one during her nap)
Day 4: one accident (on a car ride)
Day 5: one accident

I'm confident in saying that we are now a diaper-free home!

The Simple Woman's Daybook: June 29th

For Today... June 29, 2009

Outside my window... Another sunny day.  The blessing of a cold front promises a much more pleasant day than the high nineties we've been seeing.   

I am thinking... I should be using my time before the kids wake up for something around the house, but blogging seems to be a great start to my week, so another few lines won't hurt!

From the kitchen... It's meals that travel this week.  We'll be out at the renovation every evening this week.  Maybe next week we'll have our kitchen flooring laid so that we can move the fridge and stove in.  For now, we're looking at casseroles, burgers off the grill, and veggies.  Nothing spectacular!

I am wearing... An old brown military T turned paint shirt, red cotton shorts, messy bun

I'm not quite finished reading... The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. It's still keeping my attention, and I find myself looking forward to some time after the kids are in bed to read.  Looks like evenings like that might be scarce this week! 

I am creating... A home.  And I'm SO ready to be finished with that creation!  6 months on the project is quite enough, thank you!  What was it that Miss Marie said at A Year from Oak Cottage few posts back?  "The things we see in life, more often than not, depend very much on what has gone on in the background, the result of well thought out planning . . ."  As usual, beautifully said.  I keep hoping that this new home of ours will reflect off our careful planning.

I am praying... For an uncle who's battling pancreatic cancer.  May God bless him with more strength and energy than he's seen in recent weeks.

Around the house... Oh, that's right, I still have a house that we're living in.  The only evidence of that fact is the laundry that's growing ever so slowly behind.  

One of my favorite things... Toddlers in big kid underwear.  Partly because they're adorable, and partly because it means this mommy doesn't have to change diapers!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Finish painting the renovation, swim with the kids, catch up with hubby in the evenings.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... 

 Sun, Swimming, and Ice Cream... Ah, sweet summer!

Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Knocking on Wood: Potty Training Report

WELL-- today was, all in all, a fantastic first day on the job, and I told Little Miss that as I was tucking her in tonight!

I decided to go cold turkey with this one and dress her in big girl panties all day- including nap time. Mind you, today was NOT a relaxing, errand free day. Quite the opposite, we spent most of the late morning and early afternoon picking up paint at Lowe's, grabbing lunch at a sit down restaurant, and picking up a few items from Wal-Mart.

How did I do this, you wonder? I just brought the potty along with us! Yep, that's right. My sweet little darling sat on the potty before we entered each of our destinations- right in the comfort of our minivan. Perhaps not the most conventional method, but as I mentioned yesterday, there's no good time to start this process.

I was amazed to learn that my daughter's bladder control allows her to stay dry for about 4 hours at a time, and she even stayed dry through her 2 hour nap.

Our count for the day: only ONE accident!

Knock on Wood!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Testing the Waters: Lessons in Potty Training

Ah, Yes.  Sweet victory!  My 18 month old has been BEGGING to use the potty for a couple weeks now, so today was the day.  I visited Target to buy a new pink potty chair, pull ups which we will use exclusively for sleeping, and 12 pair of fancy toddler panties.  All the way home, I had an mildly gassy daughter, so I was curious to see what she would do when I pulled to potty out of its box and sat it on the floor.  Miracle of miracles, the little angel sat right down and did her business.  ALL her business.  Then she tagged along to learn all about clean up.  THEN we got to try on her new Ariel panties.  She LOVED them!  As is was already 8:30, she didn't wear them for long and instead changed into her new Dora "Sleep Pants" as we under this roof title them.  Could this be beginner's luck? Absolutely.  Do I care that I'm testing these waters earlier than is pediatrician recommended?  Not in the least.  Here's what I've learned while potty training my first two:  

1.  If you're not ultra dedicated, kids will string out the process over several months.  

2. Pull Ups or any equivalent are a complete waste of effort for training purposes.  My first treated them just like diapers, and I'm fairly sure this is the case for most parents.  

3.  Stock up on Resolve Carpet Cleaner and Deodorizer and resign yourself to clean-up duty.

4.  In spite of the controversy, rewarding with M&M's works- provided your child isn't like my son who has a built-in chocolate detector and sneaks it at every chance.

5. There is not good time to potty train.  This one is a new revelation for me.  We're in the midst of chaos, with hubby out of town, a renovation coming to a head, and a move on the horizon, but she's ready, so I'm making myself ready for her!  

6. If all else fails, train them along with the younger sibling.  I'm kidding here... sort of.  My crazy son, who at 3 years and 4 months still refuses to initiate using the bathroom, perked up something fierce tonight and elected to get his act together for the first time in months.  He was even WANTING to put his boxer briefs back on afterward.  

That said, I'd appreciate any ingenious tips that my trusty readers have to offer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday: June 23rd

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Dear Tackle It Tuesday,

I so miss our posting- it's been nearly a month. Quite inexcusable! We both know that I've been very busy tackling the house, the renovation, the pool, and the van. Why just today I spent hours power washing the concrete and deck around the pool, transforming the gray, nature stained surfaces into brilliant shades that resembled the luster of their early years. And guess what else I tackled today? The aftermath of dry wall sanding. Oh yes, I spent several more hours sweeping, scraping mud globs off the floors, vacuuming, and mopping the floors three times. That's right, I've been a very busy girl!

It's my fault, really. I've failed to photograph these tackles. Shame on me. I promise that next week will mark a new start between you and I. Once again, I will share my embarrassing before photos and proudly display the fruits of my labor. Don't worry. You are still an inspiration to me, Tackle It Tuesday!


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: June 22nd

For Today... June 22, 2009 (I just forgot to post it!)

Outside my window... the power washer is humming away. I just finished a shift cleaning my parent's pool area. The cover will come off this evening, and by Friday, we'll be swimming- finally! Last weeks mid-90's temperatures and this weeks heat advisory make it hard to wait!

I am thinking... that parenting is way harder than I ever would have guessed it to be. The heartache that comes from disciplining sometimes, the guilt when you can't provide what they legitimately want, the personal sacrifices that are made materialistically and emotionally... and I'm only 9 years into the process. I'm quite sure now that I'm in for lots of new and more trying hurdles before all is said and done.

From the kitchen... Leftover barbecue from our father's day celebration yesterday!

I am wearing... gray capris, a pink and orange striped tank, bare feet.

I am almost finished reading... The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. Still loving it, and I can't wait to give a full report when I'm finished.

I've also started Pure by Terra Elan McVoy. I'm pre-reading this one in the hopes that I can pass it off to my daughter in a year or two as a pro-purity read. We'll see if it's as good as the cover summary seems!

I am creating... A clean up plan for the remodel. Dry Wall is officially complete, which means we're waiting on me before flooring is installed. THEN-- we move in and spend the next year finishing the essentials... and the next ten years finishing the rest! It's a little intimidating out there right now, but when we're all finished, it's going to look just lovely!

I am praying... For my daughter while she is away. This is my prayer at least 17 times a day. I hope that she is staying busy, safe, and happy. I pray that she is too busy and happy to get homesick, and that she doesn't feel forgotten because she doesn't understand that I'm only allowed 2 phone calls each week. I pray to run into her anytime that I'm out- at the grocery store, the gas station, Wal-Mart. I thank God that I get to pick her up on Saturday for a whole weekend with her- something that I'm not guaranteed to have.

Around the house... Maybe I should skip this one... lol. I've barely keeping up with laundry, and though the kitchen has been immaculate for weeks, the bathroom in begging for a toothbrush scrubbing!

One of my favorite things... carpet. I know most of you people seem to favor hard wood in your homes lately, but I honestly can't wait to be out of our house that has solid hardwood in every room. I'm looking forward to the coziness of playing on the floor with my kids and the feeling of carpet beneath my feet when I get out of bed in the morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week... cleaning and painting the new house, opening my parents' pool, a day trip play date, a weekend with my fantastic daughter, and my mother's birthday celebration.

Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Behind the Lens

My favorites from today's session.  I love this kid- and her brother!  This is the third session I've done with them.  Still new to this gig, my returning clients are mostly my friends and family.  I've gotten to know this mom a little better with each visit, and I thoroughly enjoy playing with her kids for an hour at a time.  

All moms come into their portrait sessions the same- worried that their kid(s) will be uncooperative, embarrassing, scared, or just plain defiant.  More often than not, the mom says something like, "My kids must be the worst you've ever had!"  That comment makes me laugh every time- except when the kid IS the worst I'd ever had!

I think that all SAHMs need to reserve a hobby or activity for themselves.  Whether it be yoga, scrap booking, writing, cooking or photography, it is so important to keep a little of what we were before we were moms.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Last Bit of Sweetness at Jilly's Cupcake Bar

For our last hurrah before sending my Sweetness off to her father's for the summer, a friend of mine and I shared an afternoon with our girls.  Jilly's Cupcake Bar was our first stop.  What a treat!  A darling atmosphere, gigantic cupcakes, and swivel chairs made our treat extra special.  

The rest of the day was filled with a trip to Build-A-Bear to create twin bears, a stop at Uno's where the girls made their own pizzas, and a visit to Borders- a treat for all of us!

Day's like this don't make sending my kiddo off any easier for me, but getting to spend a day focussing on just her- without the interjections of younger siblings- is something that I'll miss until she's home to take on another mother-daughter day.

For 5 years, it was just her and I.  We palled around together and had each other's undivided attention any time we wanted.  Keeping that mother-daughter closeness has been a huge priority since remarrying.  I know that someday, sooner than I can imagine, she's going to be shutting herself in her room, preferring the phone or a journal to her mother's ear.  

But here's my theory.  Raising my kids is a lot like dating.  Dating is supposed to create a plethora of fun and happy memories, memories that can be looked back upon when marriage gets tough, memories that give you an idea of what was and what will be again.  My hope is that I can create tons of fun and meaningful moments with my daughter so that she (and I) can look back on them as the teen years tear at our closeness and look forward to the time when we'll once again share secrets, advice, and knowing winks with each other.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Lucky Day

"You're a lucky woman," says Hubby tonight, serious as can be. "I got up this morning and went all day without a shower. I even have the same clothes on as yesterday!"

How many women are considered lucky to have a husband who has been sweating over a remodel all day, having not showered in 36 hours, and smelling like it??  

Yes, that's me.  My husband is obsessive about his morning shower. One morning when I was in the middle of pancakes and needed him to run to the store, he refused to go until he'd spent his 45 minutes in the bathroom.  Really?

Last night, the kids had gone to sleep at my parents' house before we got back from our day trip, and we crashed there as well.  He got up this morning and went straight to the new house to get some outside tasks completed before the predicted storm came through.  Apparently he never found time to wash the stink off!  

If only more days were like today... 

Life Preserver, Courtesy of God

God's been working over time on me lately!  Here are a few of His not-so-subtle thumbprints in my life.

1.  After my blog entry about being planted in my hometown last Wednesday, He reminded me that I already know the blessings of being here.  I had the more horrible in-law weekend of my 4 years in the family.  Yes, God, I am now reminded that 4 hours away is much safer than the 2 hours that would be between us were we to move.

2.  I mentioned this one in my Daybook this morning, but yesterday God sent the EXACT person I'd been wanting- needing- to see!  My husband and I had left for In-Law Land, and during the drive, we got a phone call that made us realize this was not going to be a pleasant trip.  I spent the next 3 hours being truly afraid that the ENTIRE extended family thought our parenting was horrible, that we were awful for wanting to keep certain lifestyles out of our own life and the lives of my children.  I was pretty sure (ok, I was really only praying) that my aunt and uncle-in-law would understand and agree with the decision that the rest of the family was apparently angered by, but they weren't on our list of family to see.  I kept thinking, I just want to see them, because I know that Uncle M would make my husband feel more sure of standing his ground.  Me?  I just wanted to know that someone in the family loved and supported me!  

We stopped by Wal-Mart to make a couple photo prints to deliver during our visit, and as we were walking back to the van, Aunt D was walking up the same isle in the Super Wal-Mart parking lot.  My husband gave her a good 10 second, "I really needed this" type of hug, and I just stood in amazement of His answer to my prayer.  As family's go, she knew all the details of the drama, and by the end of the mini conversation, I was feeling much more at peace and ready to head into the storm that was in front of us.  It's funny, because while we were parking, I had wondered why in the world my husband had chosen a spot so close to the edge of the parking lot when there were plenty of spots in the isles closer to the entrance.  We also would have missed seeing her had the automatic printer been cooperating.  Instead, the employee almost insisted that we put our order through one hour and pushed it to the top of his list.  I'm quite sure he was Heaven sent.  

After this weekend, I have a renewed peace.  It's ironic, because life around us, at the moment, is sort of in shambles.  Somehow, though, God has kept my family in a life preserver, floating safely in the midst of all the waves.  

The Simple Woman's Daybook: June 15th

For Today... June 15, 2009

Outside my window... the grass has been inching higher.  Mowing will be unavoidable in the next day or two.  It looks to be a sunny afternoon after a morning of mild storms. 

I am thinking... about my daughter today.  She is such a blessing to me in spite of the assumptions that people make about me.  I know that I chose to give her life, that I'm raising her in the best way I know, though it seems to be only increasingly difficult to combat the rest of the world in the process.

From the kitchen... A last meal before hubby heads off on business for two weeks.  Perhaps a home-style meal of meatloaf, corn, green beans, and fried okra.  

I am wearing... jeans and a blue T-shirt.  And my heart on my sleeve.

I am reading... The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. A great read about a single mother/small business owner.  Funny how God can put relevant books into my lap even before I'm aware that it will make the week easier! 

I am creating... A list of fantastic family members as a reminder that we have SO many who do love and understand us!  Sometimes it's hard to remember that.

I am praying... A prayer of thanksgiving.  Yesterday while my husband and I were on our way to a particularly difficult family visit 4 hours from home, all I wanted to do was stop by his aunt and uncles' house and curl up on their sofa.  We had stopped by Wal-Mart in a nearby town to print a few pictures, and the dear woman was walking up the parking lot isle where we'd parked as we were walking out!  Her hugs were JUST what I needed, and if God hadn't placed our car where he did, hadn't given us a few hold-ups inside the store, we would have never gotten those empowering hugs.

Around the house... Some dishes to be done, and a van to be cleaned out in preparation for tomorrow's last hurrah before sending my daughter off to her dad's for the summer.

One of my favorite things... friends willing to delay even their anniversary plans in order to relate and support me.

A few plans for the rest of the week... A mother-daughter double date in the city, sending my hubby off, another photo session, trip to the library, catching up with my girl friend via a play date.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... 

My parents in their dating years- and my grandmother.  People in my life who've had marriages stay together for the long haul. 

Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hormonal Imbalance

Something light is on the blog menu for today!  

Today, my son spent a good 5 minutes beg
ging his big sister to show him how to put earrings in his ears.  

I took the kids shoe shopping and felt no guilt letting my son raid the rack of display shoes that were too big for him.  He did a great job taking just 2 shoes off at a time.  All boy shoes too!  It wasn't until it was time to go that he neared a fit.  Funny that he loves the shoe section- more proof that we're on estrogen overload???

I'm wondering if it's worth risking another dose of estrogen around here in the hopes of providing a brother for Little Mister to pal around with. And the question remains... 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stuck According to His Will

I read Miss Holly's thoughts at Falling Upward tonight, and as usual, she made me reflect on my own life.

Sometimes I feel like I'm waiting around for my life to start, and I'm afraid it's going to be nine more years before I'll truly be rid of that feeling. The reason? Lovely Judge Clayton has us planted in the town where I was born and raised until my daughter is eighteen. We're half way there this summer.

When my friend circle seems particularly small (though never lacking in quality!), when the activity choices for my kids seems sparse, when I'm forced to move my kid to our public school instead of a different Catholic school, I dream about what life would be like had we been allowed to move closer to the city where my husband works. I detest the fact that I've never lived outside my hometown of 3,500 people. Though I never want to live in the heart of a city, it disappoints me that activities like ice skating lessons or quality performing arts are two hours away. While I love my small-town parish, it makes me sad to know that there are next to no other young Catholic families to befriend. These are the thoughts that go through my head, the ones that I struggle to push out of my heart at least a few times a week.

I know, without a doubt, that God has kept us in this town for a reason. I believe with all my heart that He is working through us somehow, or that we've been kept here to learn a precious lesson. If nothing else, I'm learning that patience isn't just needed while my kids are asking the same question 82 times in a row. No, patience in that context is a breeze for me. It is in the long waits that I struggle. The eighteen year wait to start fresh, to not be known as the girl who had a baby in high school, to find a community where I truly feel at home (instead of only feeling at home inside my the walls of our house), demands my daily prayer for patience and peace.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: June 8th

For Today... June 8, 2009

Outside my window... a dreary day, a few raindrops land with tinks on our metal roof.  The forest around my home blocks the view to even the field beyond our yard.  

I am thinking... It's good to be back, but so nice to have been unexpectedly left without internet connection for ten days.  The nights of our vacation would have been vastly different had we been "connected."  Instead, we were able to connect with each other over card games, board games, philosophical conversations, and a couple nights out.

From the kitchen... emptiness.  And a shopping list 30 items long.

I am wearing... jeans and a hunter green t-shirt. And bare feet.

I am reading... The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. This was to be my read on the beach, but while I lounged long enough to read it cover to cover, I ended up watching my kids play during most of my lounge time and only read about a third.  It's a great read so far! 

I am creating... a color pallet.  It's time to order flooring and countertops for the remodel, and I'm finding it a bit overwhelming to make sure it all works together!
I am praying... That the next 9 days pass SLOWLY! After those days are gone, my sweet daughter will be at her dad's for 6 weeks straight.  Those are lonely weeks even now with 2 other kids to occupy my attention... 

Around the house... the normal tidying of kids toys and clean clothes to put away.  Then there's the van that needs a good scrub after our road trip.

One of my favorite things... hammocks.  I fully intend to have one someday.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Make the most of my time with my daughter, find homes for 2 kittens, photo session, hopefully start painting the remodel.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... 

Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Revitalized at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The 19 hour drive home already fading, I'm anxious to post pictures and stories about my family's visit to Myrtle Beach.  For today, you all will have to be satisfied with a couple sneak peak shots...