Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What SAHM Means to this SAHM

I started to comment on one of my newest additions to my blog roll this evening. The post concluded with this question: "What do you do to prevent Mommy burnout?"

I started to list just one of my attempts to stay sane in the SAHM world, but the list just kept growing until I realized that there is really no excuse for finding myself on the brink of insanity save pure selfishness. Here's what I wrote...

When I can, I do my essential housework either in the morning while my little ones are eating breakfast, during nap time or just after bedtime. I do very little during the days, and what I have to do, I have the kids help with- it keeps them from escaping out the front door or flushing toys down the toilet while I'm occupied! I also make it a point to have a mommies' night out once in a while- it's usually after our kids are in bed, and we just meet for coffee or dessert. We usually end up staying out until 11 or 12, but I'm energized for a good two weeks afterward! Play Dates are my favorite, no guilt way of getting some adult interaction- nothing beats letting your kid get some socialization while you chat/vent to the mommies!

And most importantly, knowing that I'm doing the best thing I can for my kids and playing the role that God called me to play makes a world of difference. There are days (sometimes weeks) when I start to loose sight of that call, and I have to remind myself that I'm fulfilling my responsibility to my KIDS and my GOD.

Stay-at-home-mommying isn't always fun. Sometimes it's flat out miserable... for weeks on end. While it's rewarding, I don't always enjoy it, and it doesn't always make me happy. I don't do it for me. Sometimes I find myself itching for the days when I'll be able to have my hair done, clean up the house without a munchkin following behind me to mess again, sit in a silent car, and perhaps even start a career. For me, being a SAHM is an obligation, a job just like any other out there. It has it's ups and downs. Some days I feel under-appreciated. Others I love it and look forward to spending another 16 years in the field as I've committed to do. I chose this job because it was the best thing for my kids, because no one can make them feel loved like their parents, because I felt it vitally important that I be there to answer the big life questions that pop up along the way.

My nine-year-old asked me tonight if I knew what God's call for me was. I told her, "I sure do. He dropped all three of you right on my lap!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: September 28th

For Today... September 28, 2009

Outside my window... The sun is just starting to rise. When did the days start getting so short again? It promises to be a cheerful day full of sun and with little threat of rain. Perhaps the soccer fields will be dry enough for a game this evening.

I am thinking... about the unachievable to-do list I have for today. Time to prioritize!

From the kitchen... Leftover pizza for breakfast, salads for lunch, and tortellini this evening for dinner.

I am wearing... pink boxer shorts with girls in yoga poses printed across them and a dark pink short sleeve top. I really should have something warmer on this morning. It's FREEZING in our house!

From the Learning Rooms... Little Mister is working on penmanship, simple reading, number recognition, counting to 20 and simple addition this week. Last weeks celebration of Autumn and Johnny Appleseed distracted us a bit, but he did wow me with some beautiful B's!

I am creating... Halloween costumes. Or at least trying to. I finished the basics of Little Miss' mermaid tail but still have to add some sea worthy trim. Her seashell top is going to be an experiment- one that I'm not really looking forward to. As for Little Mister's Popeye costume, the fabric remains neatly stacked in the JoAnn's bag. I'm still shocked that I wasn't able to find a sailor suit pattern! I'm sailing uncharted waters with this on. Big Sister wants to be a jockey, but I haven't even started the research process for that one. Ugh... :-)

I am praying... for a fantastic week of school for Big Sister, one that keeps the pining away for friends from her old school at bay. And a prayer of thanks for the continued signs that we made the right decision in transferring schools. She is soaring through the curriculum, basking in the praise she's being offered, and even claims to be keeping her chattiness at bay.

I am reading... The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. She is without a doubt my favorite classic American author. I haven't visited her since college, and oh, I've missed her writing!

Around the house... Tons of laundry to do. It's funny how that snuck up on me. Friday I was half a load from finished!

One of my favorite things... Folgers simple smooth coffee varieties. And chilly mornings that make the sipping experience that much more enjoyable.

A few plans for the rest of the week... A soccer game, coffee date, ti kwon do, gymnastics, pre-school, soccer practice, sorting through kids' clothes in storage, and working on those stinkin' costumes.

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

Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Down and Dirty: Barnyard Cake

Did I ever feel like I was on a Food Network cake challenge last night! This cake was probably one of my most disappointing projects, not because it looks bad but because I had so many more plans for it.
Details that didn't become reality:

A silo (which toppled over in the midst of my decorating)
A fondant fence around the edge of the cake
Hay Bales
Feed Bags

The process of this cake was actually fairly smooth with one tiny exception. Three days beforehand, I sculpted my farm animals from fondant. 2 pigs, 2 ducks, 1 cow, 1 horse head, and 1 rooster. Growing up, I was never able to sculpt clay or play-do well, so I was surprised and satisfied with my work.

My yard was made from a sheet cake pan. For my barn, I baked a ten inch square cake. I cut the square into fourths and stacked two of the small squares to make the base of the barn. I cut the remaining 2 squares in half and stacked the triangles together to make the peak. All of this was "glued" together with buttercream icing.

A layer of green over the sheet cake, red covering the barn, fondant shingles and trim, and the animals were ready to move in.

What you can't see is the super cute silo that I constructed using an invisible pillar and three 3-inch round cake pans. It would have been an adorable addition to the scene, but at three minutes till midnight, it toppled along with my spirits, missing a collision with the barn by an inch. As I wasn't about to start over so late, I filled in the destroyed area with grass icing and transformed the silo's foundation into a pasture for my cow to graze. By the time I was finished with the recover process, it was nearly 2AM, so I aborted my fencing and other details and called it a night. Perhaps I bit off more than I could chew with this project, or I might just need to do a bit of structural research next time around. In any case, THIS was a cake I was more than happy to get off my hands.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Person's Ordinary is Another Person's Disappointment

Today Big Sister went on her first public school field trip. What was she most excited about, you might ask? Not the fact that she would be out of school for the day. Not the destination that would allow for lots of time outdoors. Not the opportunity for a day filled with socializing with friends. No, not my daughter. She was, in fact, hyperventilating about her very first ride on a school bus.

Oh yeah.

Not only was she incredibly excited about the opportunity to get crammed in a 40 foot vehicle smelling of all the post-playground sweat of 80+ kids, but she was also nervous. Big Sister was very afraid of the bullies she might encounter on said bus ride. It took a bit to help her understand that the bus rides that I refuse to send her on are the ones including students much older than her, not to mention those with considerably less supervision.

The ride proved less than romantic. Perhaps the loose tooth that she finally lost at the end of the day stole the bus ride's thunder (the tie-died tissue she was biting on was enough to distract me from my after school line of questioning... gross!). The kid gave a quick "good" and went right back to dreaming about what she'd buy with her tooth fairy money.

What's the going rate for one of those now anyway?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm considering forming a support group for mothers of tweenage daughters. The group would get together twice a month. Once to do a great mother-daughter activity in the hopes of finding those 5 year olds who used to think we were great and once to do nothing but cry, complain, drink strawberry margaritas and count down the years until they're old enough to be our friends again.

Yes, I am serious.

Growing... or Morphing?

I can't believe Little Miss is almost two! It won't be long until I'm writing a reminiscent post about her life thus far... like I did when Big Sister turned nine last summer. I've been a slacker as of late, too busy with cakes, photo sessions, and house work to set up my now-in-home studio and doll the kiddos up for a shoot of our own. Instead, I've tried my luck at snapping a few shots here and there...

Little Miss is becoming quite the ornery poot in the last couple weeks. Still not even close to the handful that either of her older siblings are, she's lost a bit of her contented nature, and I hope she discovers it again soon! This soft spoken toddler gets an idea in her head, and the smile on her face gives her away before she even steps a foot in the direction of mischief... if I'm paying attention.

And if I'm not, like this morning, the sound of splashing water rings out from the bathroom, and I discover those tiny hands depositing shreds of toilet paper into the toilet, one by one. The squeals of glee as she runs away from me make me wonder if getting caught if half her fun...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: September 21st

For Today... August 31, 2009

Outside my window... heaps of newly dug dirt create riverbanks leading away from our house. The remains of an old pipe are scattered beside the trail, begging for attention. How anxious I am to have our house's curb appeal up to it's potential!

I am thinking... of all the things that people acquire in a lifetime. My husband and I were driving into town and passed a kid riding an ATV though a field. It amazes me that people are able to purchase things of this expense- things like boats, campers, motorcycles fancy lawn equipment... I'm sure there will come a day when these purchases don't seem so extravagant... a day when we're not just-out-of-college parents anymore. For now, I'm enjoying our life of simplicity.

From the kitchen... A Slow Cooker Enchilada casserole this evening and lots of veggies for Big Sister.

I am wearing... Black cropped yoga pants, a white tank top and a green athletic jacket

From the Learning Rooms... We're celebrating the first day of autumn tomorrow and Johnny Appleseed's birthday on Thursday. We're continuing to work extra hard at learning numbers and counting to twenty, sight words, and writing letters. I haven't been doing as many faith based activities with Little Mister as I would like to thus far. I'm on the search for some Godly preschool learning ideas to supplement the lessons that I have floating around in my mind.

I am creating... A completed stairway. I finally finished painting the walls and spray painting the spindles and railing. Now I just need to sweet talk my muscles (hubby) into reinstalling everything, and instead of jumping off the side of the steps, the hooligans will be sliding down the banister. I can't wait to post before and after pictures!

I am praying... that God's will be done in our family in the next couple months and beyond. I'm asking for God's guidance as we discern his will for us be it a "yes", "no", or "not now". And I'm praying for patience as I do not do a great job accepting "not now" when that is His answer.

Around the house... Treading water again this week- although I'm relieved to say that my head is much higher above the surface than in months past.

One of my favorite things... Reassurance from other parents who've been there. A mother of 5 well behaved children sat behind us at mass yesterday, witnessing Little Miss at her squirmiest and Little Mister after waking at 4:00 AM. While not our worst mass experience to date, it was not one of our shining moments either. After our the last lines of the closing hymn were finished, I looked at her, exhausted. She laughed and said, "You guys are doing great. Believe me, it gets easier." I'm glad I have encouragement from my fellow parishioners because I'm not sure I could continue to bring my children if their not-so-great days were met with glares and clearing throats!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Lots of taxiing- to a soccer game, ti kwon do, gymnastics, 2 soccer practices, and play dates. All lots of fun, but I'm looking forward to Thursday when I have no driving requirements outside of school.

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

Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shopaholic takes Maurices

Anyone else have a store that proves dangerous to enter? The type that offers the perfect pair of jeans and an array of tops, casual and dressy, that seem to be made with just you in mind? On the way back from taking my 91 year old grandma shopping yesterday, I talked the crew into a visit to my weakness, a store in which I have yet to try on something that I didn't like.

It'd been years (literally) since I stepped foot inside those doors, not because I can't resist the temptation to overspend... couldn't be that. It was most definitely because I've spent the last several years pregnant or postpartum... yep.

As soon as a walked in, I was swept up in the styles, the colors, the organization that I loved so many years ago. But I was on a mission: jeans. Now, we all know that jeans shopping is just not the same after babies, especially after 3 babies. But the stacks of denim came through for me just as it had before. I loved the first pair I tried.

Unfortunately, I made a few selections on the way to the dressing room- just to see if I might finally like myself in cute clothes again. Guess what? It turns out, I did. In every one of the $25 tops I had grabbed. It was as if I couldn't stop myself from piling each of the four tops on the counter with my necessary Taylor Boot Jeans.

Military discount- save 10%. That's not so bad, right? I blindly signed up for a store credit card, something I've never done before and have refused to do under any circumstances. But saving another 10% justified my purchases...right? And I'd start receiving coupons in the mail (as if I need an excuse to visit the store again). My total bill after discounts was just over $100. For one pair of perfect jeans and four tops.

Am I sorry? Oh, no. Not yet anyway.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

The ultimate bad boy in Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze was no doubt a prominent figure in most girls' lives in the 80's. Johnny Castle was a frequent guest at our slumber parties, during break-up recoveries, and has kept me company through more than a few crochet projects. Dirty Dancing convinced many a girl to fall for the bad boy in the hopes of discovering the protective lover-boy within. His death today has left many (myself included) saddened, nostalgic, and appreciative of the years of talent that Swayze shared with us.

We girls of the 80's will always have Dirty Dancing.

So Close

Big Sister: "Are we going to the mall?"
Little Mister: "Ooh! The cookie mall*! Can we go there?"
Big Sister: "Yeah! We're going to the mall.... right Mommy?"

Mommy: "You two have GOT to stop asking for things. That's all I've heard today! The answers going to be 'NO' if either of you ask again."

Little Mister: "Ok, Mommy. We won't ask you anymore. NOW can we go to the cookie mall?"

*Cookie Mall. Named for its reward of Mrs. Fields cookie tubs for well behaved little shoppers. Yes, I'm one of THOSE moms. I blame it on never getting treated to mall treats growing up. Come to think of it, my kids have tons of character plastic plates for the same reason... because I always wanted one. Hm... am I the only one who does that?

The Simple Woman's Daybook: September 14th

For Today... August 31, 2009

Outside my window... a mild morning that hints at the season's change. A single tree has given into the cold night air and proves it with it's orange tipped leaves.

I am thinking... it sure feels great to have no diapers in the house- and to have both Little Mister and Little Miss staying dry at night. They're both growing up into little people, content to be somewhere other than in my arms or under my feet! If God doesn't bless us with more bundles of joy, I'll have my favorite exercise routine reestablished sooner than I thought would be possible! And boy, do I need it!

From the kitchen... Still operating without a kitchen sink, garbage disposal, or dishwasher, so meals that are light on the dishes are in order! Perhaps beef stew casserole tonight- made with fried onions and potatoes.

I am wearing... Pajama pants from our girls' trip to Chicago last december and a pro-life tee. A shower will come at nap time today!

From the Learning Rooms... Last week was the perfect start to preschool and will be hard to top! This week, my mother will teach a morning. She's the best when it comes to teaching preschoolers to read. I credit Big Sister's reading skills to her! Tomorrow is Tomie DePaula's birthday, so the lesson will include a couple of his books as well as plenty of time for illustrating and making pancakes after reading Pancakes for Breakfast. Thursday's lesson is still in the works...

I am creating... A Popeye costume for Halloween! It was no surprise that there were no kids' sized Popeyes to speak of, so now I'm setting off to design muscle arms and a sailor suit. I thought I'd better be on the ball this year because requests from Little Miss and Big Sister are yet to be submitted!

I am praying... For a friend who recently had to do the right thing and is now living the effect of it.

Around the house... General upkeep is the plan this week and, hopefully, some progress on plumbing and outside cleanup!

One of my favorite things... Crisp autumn air.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Coffee date with the girls, preschool lesson planning, Grandma's 91st birthday party this weekend!

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

Becoming quite the daredevil!

Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Apples Galore!

It's been a fun couple of days around here and, overall, a truly successful first week of preschool! Yesterday was consumed by a trip to the apple orchards for some apple picking yumminess!

The wagon ride, the rows of trees, and the apples scattered on the ground beneath the branches became the perfect preface to day two of our preschool lesson: Apples! We learned so much today, and I was SO proud of my son's ability to focus and remember instructions!

Science and Math via Apples looks something like this:

*Discuss where apples grow, how they are harvested, and what different things can be made with apples.
* Observe an apple. Explore it's texture, firmness, color, shape. Note that apples have different parts such as a stem and leaves.
*Using several apples, arrange them in groups by type of apple and form a line from smallest to largest.
* Cut two apples in half, one vertically and the other horizontally. Examine the differences between the inside of each apple. Observe the difference in the center appearance of each. Count the seeds from each and draw a conclusion about which cut allowed more seeds to escape.
* Mix yellow and blue paint to discover how green is created. Use the green paint and the apple halves to stamp on paper. Observe what patterns are made. Use a paring knife to cut small chunks out of the apple. Stamp this half and observe the new stamp pattern.
* Create this apple counting book. Consider using green paint to make fingerprints for apples in each tree.

* Learn "5 Little Apples."
* Taste apple cider hot and cold and observe the difference between each.

*Reward hard work with Caillou goes Apple Picking.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Because I'm not one for Small Town Editorial Submission

Small Towns... There is much to love and even more to hate about them. In theory, it would be nice to live in a community that reciprocates when help is lent, supports local businesses and citizens when feasible, and generally looks out for each other. Let's face it. There's no Stars Hollow, USA, no Luke willing to come and lend a hand around your house, no town meetings filled with hordes of fellow citizens willing to back you.

In reality, small towns too often turn into a huge high school scene filled with gossip and scrambling over one another to climb the tiny ladder. In reality, you might find your adult self, thirty years later, still dealing with the people who thought they were better than you. Small towns are incredibly overrated, particularly if it's one where you've resided for the entirety of your life. They leave you walking on eggshells, unable to confidently stand up for yourself for fear of severing ties with someone who holds the power to make your life miserable. It's rather exhausting and ridiculous if you want to know the truth.

Me? I live in my hometown and have for each and every one of my twenty six years. I will continue to live in the community for the next nine years as ordered by the family court system. So I know what I'm talking about. The perks from my childhood are even gone now. Where my parents felt safe letting me walk the few blocks to the public library after school, I would never consider allowing my daughter to do the same. She does not even ride the bus... because I can't imagine the debauchery that has grown from the "sex education" that I was subjected to (unbeknownst to my mother) on the afternoon rides home from school. The safety net that once was Small Town America has disintegrated, leaving me wondering what in the world people find to love about them...

Perhaps classics like Mellencamp's "Small Town" leave listeners with a sepia tinted nostalgia, allowing them to happily ignore the fact that the lyrics were inspired by the Seymour, Indiana circa 1985, not the small town streets of the 21st century.

Alligator. A. First Day.

Thanks to some great free printable resources from First-School Preschool Activities and Crafts, I had my pick of activities to go with my first lesson.

While I set out the supplies for the day, Little Mister colored a picture of an alligator and the letter A. We learned that big A's are capital and little a's are lower-case. Using white boards, we practiced writing capital and lower-case A's. That might have been his favorite part.

From there he moved to coloring the parts for his alligator puppet.

THEN... we needed a break from the stool. I had downloaded the song, "Alligator Stomp," from I-Tunes, so we headed to the family room to learn the movements that I'd made up to go along with the words. It was a crazy-fun few minutes! Back into the counter Little Mister went next to cut out and assemble his puppet. Greeney Grass (the alligator puppet) went along to watch the short PBS online Alligator Video I'd found. He learned that alligators live in the swamps like in Florida and that they eat fish. We followed a bit more writing practice with finding out just how long alligators are. We stretched a tape measure across the family room floor to see how long 12 feet was. Little Mister was pretty amazed that an alligator could be that long or longer! Another boogie to Alligator Stomp, five minutes to free draw on the white board, and we called it a wrap.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September Already?!?

Oh, yes... it's that time of year again.

The temperatures around here have simmered down a bit, and the mornings leave the children begging for a jacket on the way to drop Big Sister at school.

There's something to be said about Autumn.

It's truly my favorite time of year, complete with the crisp air, breezy walks beneath the changing foliage, and the promise of lazy, bug-free hours reading and watching the kids play in the yard.

A few short months filled with caramel apples, pumpkin scented candles, and apple cider...

Months of excursions to the apple orchards, the pumpkin patches, and hayrides...

Oh, yes... Give me autumn any day!