Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook: March 1st

For Today... March 1, 2010

Outside my window... it's noticeably lighter earlier! Just another sign that spring will, at some point, be here!

From the kitchen... This afternoon I'll hit the grocery store. I'm never sure how we ran so low on so many things so quickly! In any event, the cart will be piled high, the kids will be squirmy, and I'll be frazzled! Good times!

I am wearing... Green PJ pants, a brown camisole, and a black cardigan.

From the Learning Rooms... Little Mister's been busy lately. We went on a field trip to the Magic House in St. Louis last week, and he's been science, science, science! He's SO curious and attentive, so I'm following his lead for the time being.

I am creating... a new apron. I picked out material a couple weeks ago. Blues and browns with flowers and hummingbirds. My grandmother loved to hang hummingbird feeders on their patio and watch the hummingbirds all summer. Every time I see one, I think of her. Living in this house, I like to do small things to keep her and my grandpa close.

I am praying... giving thanks for the gift of God's son. At this time if year, I am in awe of the Holy Sacrifice that was to save me in all my smallness and imperfection.

Around the house... I'm tackling that master bedroom. I'd hoped to get to it last week, and now it's worse than ever! I started last night by resorting the DVD's and boxing them away out of reach of little hands. Hopefully I'll have reclaimed our turf by nightfall!

One of my favorite things: forgiveness... from loved ones, from strangers, from myself, and most importantly from God.

A few plans for the rest of the week... A play date, photo session for a friend (I can't believe her little guy is almost 1!), and general happy chaos that is life with three kids!

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

Happy March 1st from Little Mister in all his goofiness!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dora the Explorer Cake

Dora birthday cake. This cake was one that I really tried to work on my buttercream icing consistency for flat icing my cakes. When I started decorating cakes a couple years ago, this design would have intimidated the heck out of me. Yesterday, I was able to successfully estimate the amount of time I'd need to bake and decorate this cake to feed 50. I started baking at 7:15 and put the finishing touches on the cake at 1:15. Just enough time to shower and load the crew to make the delivery!

The stars were super easy- made with fondant and a cookie cutter. A bit of pearl dust brushed onto each shape created a slight twinkle. I used a round tip to trim the cake, adding a stripe of orange food coloring to my bag to create the line on my pink beads. I've used that technique to make flowers with contrasting tipped petals with great success.

I LOVED that I was able to score this dora set from the Wal-Mart clearance isle! I had a single dora figure in hand when I ran across this set for the same price- $7. It sure beat setting Dora up there all by her lonesome!

My little stars were attached to craft wires that I'd spiraled around a smooth pencil. I really enjoy the effect that such a simple, cheap addition makes to a kid's cake. More pearl dust blown onto the entire cake, and I was ready to hit the road... the mile long string of rocks, bumps, and potholes!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Bit of Dr. L Wisdom

From Dr. Laura's show today:

"If you know it's an alligator, you don't get into the tub with it! If you do and get bit, you blame yourself, not the alligator."

Let's face it. We all have alligators in our lives, and sometimes we let ourselves pretend they're... salamanders. And then we're surprised when they snap at us. But really, we knew better, didn't we?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Still Fumbling Blindly and Prayerfully through Tween Parenting

Big Sister came home with a small, black, velvet box today. From a boy I've never heard about (and I hear about the boys, let me tell ya). Inside was a set of earrings and a matching brooch. It looked like it could've come from one of the Wal-Mart displays. The cubic zirconia ones, not the under-lock-and-key kind.

My first reaction is to share in her excitement. I listened to her tell the story of how this boy presented her with the box on the playground at recess. I listened to her tell me that her teachers all said it was pretty. I acknowledged how exciting is must've been to receive a gift like this. And then I ask her if she thinks she should accept it. And that's when I turn from fun mom to rain-on-my-parade mom.

In my mind, I'm thinking, "what if the kid took this from his mother's jewelry box..."

"How could these teachers act like this is amazing? Oh yeah, they aren't here to teach my faith. That was our last school. Bummer..."

"How hard is it going to be on this kid to have his gift returned..."

"How difficult will it be for Big Sister to return it..."

"What kind of parent lets a 9-year-old give real jewelry? They can't know about this..."

"What happened to wanting to Big Sister wanting to watch her friends make dumb decisions about boys..."

"Oh, CRAP!"

And so we talk about how jewelry is a bit too grown up for 4th grade. And how if we're in a hurry to experience the excitement of stuff meant for us when we're older, then when we're older, we might find other things to be excited by that aren't so good. And she tells me that she just wants to go with the flow. And I tell her that we can rarely do that and still follow what God wants us to do. And she seems to get that. But she still doesn't like the thought of giving the jewelry back.

You see, I'm the mom who wouldn't allow my daughter to attend the 4th and 5th grade dance, where the boys were asking the girls to be their dates. Because, seriously, they can't just throw a party- why do they have to make it cool to act old?

Am I being too harsh? Setting myself up for a daughter who doesn't confide in me? Perhaps. But I'm not about to be one of those moms who acts like her daughter can do no wrong. One of those moms who acts like her daughter knows more at ten than herself at 30-something (or 20-something in my case). I'm going to be the kind of mom who is clear about her beliefs and opinions. I'm going to parent so that Big Sister can look back when she's in her teens and 20's and know what her Mamma would say. I'm going to be consistent to my beliefs, because there is, in my opinion, no place more important (and sometimes painful) to stand up for what I believe than in parenting.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook: February 22nd

For Today... February 22, 2010

Outside my window... grey skies again. We flirted with spring on Saturday. For a few hours we all remembered what it was like to have sunshine that wasn't glaring off the snow!

From the kitchen... I've been slacking lately when it comes to dinner planning. I did make Chili over the weekend and need to use up a couple pounds of ground beef today.

I am wearing... Brown yoga pants and a dark green sweatshirt.

From the Learning Rooms... Bones! Little Mister has been really interested in the human body, so we're rolling with it. I went to our Catholic school to inquire about sending him next year. The class was nearly full, so we're praying to be shown God's will in this decision.

I am creating... a stack of coupons to take with me when I hit the outlet mall later this week. February is the best time to snag great clearance items for the kids!

I am praying... for a symptom free week for my family! Big Sister's strep throat isn't contagious now, but it will take another few days until we can be sure the rest of us are in the clear.

Around the house... I really want to get the master bedroom under control this week. Little Mister watches movies there while Little Miss takes her nap, so the room turns into a bit of a toy room. NOT the least bit relaxing!

One of my favorite things: productive weekends that still leave time for relaxing with the family!

A few plans for the rest of the week... editing a photo session, hopefully going on a field trip later this week!

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

A favorite from a recent session... I LOVE this kid and her big sister!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Big Sister has strep throat. It couldn't have come at a worse time for her. She missed a sleepover last night. Last time she was invited to a sleepover, we had to cancel at the last minute for a death in the family.

As we were driving home from the Doc's Friday, Big Sister and I talked about how everything happens according to God's plan. And my sweet 9-year-old said, "Maybe God knows that I'm not ready to have sleepovers away from our house yet." There were no tears, only brave disappointment. Maybe it was because she was feeling too lousy to care, but I like to think that it's evidence of her maturing faith. She really is a unique kid. Her personality is almost had to categorize. Endlessly energetic, challenging, passionate, dedicated, high strung, defender of fairness, and a bit stubborn. I cannot wait to see where God leads her and what she offers to the places she is called to be. The best part is that my dear daughter seems just as excited to watch God's plan for her unfold.

Tonight she was feeling much better, so we took a couple hours and treated ourselves to a bit of mother-daughter time. Big Sister whitened her teeth for the first time, we did facial masks, polished our fingernails and toenails, browsed through the Warrior Cats website and took the quiz to find out what clan we'd belong to (if you know what I'm talking about, I feel for you!), and read a bit of The Mother-Daughter Book Club, by Heather Vogel Frederick. We talked about starting our own Mother-Daughter Book Club, tossing around the idea of finding one online or starting one locally. She's full of dreams and ideas, that one.

I try to be diligent about seeking out time for Big Sister, time uninterrupted by preschoolers and toddlers, time free from anything but just the two of us. It was just the two of us for so long, and it is vitally important to me that my firstborn knows that we still have that special link between us.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Baby Girl Shower Cake

Another cake under my belt, another lesson learned! Only 2 hours, start to finish... not bad! Sometimes I look back and try to figure out how it was exactly that I started decorating cakes. I certainly have no formal training past a few childhood 4-H courses. I wouldn't consider myself a pro by any means. There is much left to learn. A few years ago, I made a cake for my cousins second wedding reception. The wedding took place five hours from our hometown, and so my aunt and uncle decided to throw a reception back home for those guests who couldn't make the drive. I'd made the cake for the wedding shower and had decided to experiment with icing flowers. Apparently, they turned out alright because before I knew it I was making a stacked cake to feed 100. Yikes!

A few years later, and here I am... still standing over the kitchen counter every so often, icing bag in hand, fretting over a bit of artwork that won't exist a few hours later. And I like it that way!

Today's cake was for a baby shower at school. One of the teachers came for a photo session last Sunday and asked if I would have time to make a small cake for the occasion. Normally, I have enough warning to make the two hour trip to Hobby Lobby or one of my favorite decorator supply stores, but this time I had to work with what I had in the cabinets.

One thing that I too often forget to do is thin my buttercream for a smooth finish. It's so much nicer when the icing smoothes on like softened butter. The basic icing is always my biggest worry; perhaps I'll break down and attempt to cover the next one with marshmallow fondant.

I wasn't crazy about my stripes on the bottom layer. That was an experiment for a potential wedding cake, an experiment that I'm going to have to go at from another direction! I so wished I'd had a fondant mat and cutter, but those will be tools that I'll have to buy before the next go 'round!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook: February 15th

For Today... February 15, 2010

Outside my window... there's an overcast sky. A few flurries wind lazily, resting on the leaf covered ground. It's not often that I complete a daybook at 4 in the afternoon, but this morning was hectic!

From the kitchen... Fresh chocolate chip cookies are in the oven. Just a half batch. I love the smell of cookies baking even more than I enjoy the taste of them!

I am wearing... Jeans and a heather-green sweater.

From the Learning Rooms... Daddy played substitute last week while I went bridesmaid dress shopping with my little sister. They successfully assembled the stegosaurus robot that Little Mister got as a birthday gift, and they learned all about gears and motors... much more than I would have been able to teach him in that area!

I am creating... a baby shower cake this week. I'm treating it like a real learning experience. Why? Because I may very likely be making my little sister's wedding cake in October. Scary! I am by no means that confident in my abilities... so here's hoping that I have lots of opportunities to practice!

I am praying... for some dear friends of mine whose kids are sick. I think we'll all be thrilled to have a healthy bunch again soon! We Mommies love our play dates!

Around the house... Laundry. Laundry. LAUNDRY.

One of my favorite things... Sometimes my husband takes a day off, just to take it off. I love it because it gives some family time that is just a bit different from our weekends.

A few plans for the rest of the week... recouping from the 4 day weekend that Hubby took... which should take until next weekend!

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

Our wedding cake- made for us by my aunt.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

I may have mentioned that, when it comes to Valentine's Day, my husband and I are not huge fans. In fact, this morning, I told Little Mister that I had a V Day surprise for him, and hubby said to me, "Oh, Happy Valentine's Day. That's today, right?" We had a little chuckle.

We're not a couple who celebrates Cupid with each other, but we pull out our bag of tricks for our kids!

This morning, Little Mister got to wear his suit to church (the one I scored for $2 three years ago and have been not-so patiently waiting for him to grow into). He said he was a real, live Valentine!

And when I was stuck home with Big Sister who hadn't been feeling well and slept through mass, I made pink heart shaped pancakes for her breakfast.

We gave each of the kids a little something from us for Valentine's Day. This year, it was a new Warriors book for Big Sister and sticker books for Little Mister and Little Miss.

So, I'm not a complete Valentine's Scrooge... we just don't find this weekend one worth battling the crowds over!

Hope your Valentine's Day was extra sweet and filled with the ones you love!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mamma M's Five Question Friday


Thanks to Mamma M for her 5 Question Fridays!

Questions for Friday, 2/12/10:

1. What is the one thing your love does for you that you can't live without?

Hugs me in the kitchen while I'm making dinner. It drives me crazy sometimes, but I think I'd miss that more than anything if I lost him.

2. When did you know your love was "the one"?

This was a slow evolution for me. There wasn't a single moment when I knew this Computer Nerd was the one I was destined to be with. There were lots of things that I loved about him, and a few deal breaker issues that I didn't push. I didn't want to change him; I was done with that! I just prayed that he would grow into a man who would be the head of our home if he was the one I was called to marry. And... as we got to know each other better, I started to find that the deal breakers were melting away, and I suppose that when he told me he was going to be baptized (with no probing from me), that was when I knew that he was the man God meant to be my husband.

3. Does your love have a special ringtone on your cell?

Yes! It used to be the one of the songs from our wedding "I Will Be Here" by Steven Curtis Chapman. With my new phone, he rings "When I See You Smile."

4. What are you attracted to most in your special someone?

Now? The fervor with which he attacks his career and the seriousness that he takes with his role as provider, husband, and father. He sacrifices so much for our family, and it really does make him appear strong and safe.

5. Did you know when/where he/she was going to pop the big question?

Not the first time he asked. It wasn't the right time or place then. But the second time he asked, I knew it was coming. The boy can't hide a surprise for anything!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Dud

We're not big on Valentine's Day around here. I think the last time we really celebrated the day was the first Valentine's Day we were dating-- seven years ago. I made him a tray of brownies and gooey butter cake cut into hearts. He gave me a beautiful journal and chocolates. We went to eat at our now favorite Japanese restaurant. That was our "play it safe" year, the year we celebrated just in case the other was a V-Day sucker.

Ever since then, we exchange a "Happy Valentine's Day" in the morning and leave well enough alone. It's not that we're not romantic. It just happened that neither of us really cared about the holiday and instead preferred to celebrate days that were more personal to us.

Like Friday the Thirteenth.

Now there's a day that we never miss!

We met on September 13, 2002: A Friday.

He told me he loved me for the first time on December 13, 2002: A Friday.

We wanted so badly to get married on May 13, 2005 (a Friday), but I was teaching, and the school year was still in session then.

You won't see my husband fighting the V-Day crowds to secure a table for dinner or tickets to a romantic movie. He prefers Friday 13th over Valentine's, but that's just another thing that I love about him!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fitness Finds

I'm not one for posting my weight loss journey, but I wanted to share a couple discoveries that I've made with those of you on a quest for a healthier lifestyle, smaller waistline, or to get back to your pre- pregnancy weight (which may have been 4 years ago... ahem).

Just after Halloween, I was asked to be a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding. I'd already been unofficially asked to stand up beside my baby sister come October, but somehow that upcoming wedding didn't kick me into healthy gear. My cousin's wedding did. Maybe it was knowing that we'd be bridesmaid dress shopping soon because her wedding was 6 months away, maybe it was because we're the same age and went to school together which means her wedding will be a high school reunion of sorts. Whatever the real reason, I immediately (we're talking as I was congratulating her) gave up my comfort foods. The plan of attack back then: low carb, not to be confused with NO carb.

For 2 weeks, I consumed only 20 carbs per day and tried to drink lots of water. I ate healthy carbs when I did. I ate a Hershey Kiss at the end of each day. I made an effort to eat white meats instead of red. I didn't count calories. The only exercising I did was housework and trying to stay off my tush. After 14 days, I upped my carb intake to 30-40 per day. That's it. And it worked like a charm.

In 6 weeks, I lost 15 pounds. Woo Hoo! Then it was Christmas, and by some divine miracle, I managed to survive the holidays without gaining anything back-- no thanks to any effort of mine.

Fast forward to last Sunday. I stood on the scale to discover that I'd gained 3 pounds back. AND I was scheduled to go bridesmaid dress shopping in 4 days. Oh, yeah. Fantastic. I'm happy to say that as of this morning, I've lost the three pounds plus one more. Obviously I won't be a size smaller by Thursday, but at least I'm feeling a bit less... buoyant and more confident. That alone will make the dress shopping more fun.

Here's what I'm doing this time around:

I found this site, A ton of you probably know it or use it, and to you I say- how could you not share this with me?!? For those of you unfamiliar, it's a super easy way to track your daily calorie intake and physical activity. It lets you search their database for foods (there are millions!) and keeps a running total of calories, carbs, fat, and protein. The activity log works similarly. You can search for activities, and the site calculates the calories burned. There are more features, but I'm just getting my feet wet! Everything on this site is free!

The second thing I found and love is Exercise TV . It's a huge database of fitness videos available to stream for free and with no sign up. The problem with videos is that I get so BORED with the same ones, and I hate to spend money to purchase new ones. Yesterday, I did the Celebrity Shred, and today I did Kickbox. I'm finding that if I choose a video when I wake up, I can let it fully buffer and then play without a hitch when I'm ready. I'm sure those of you who live in the civilized parts of the country, the parts with real high speed internet, won't need to allow time for buffering.

So there you go!

May your scales greet you with smaller numbers!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook: February 8th

For Today... February 8, 2010

Outside my window... Black. I'm guessing it's snowing again, but it's too early to tell. The radio is listing school closings, but I haven't yet been given permission to turn off Big Sister's alarm clock and snuggle back under the covers.

From the kitchen... I bought some fugi apples yesterday- they are fabulously delicious and will make the perfect snack for me today. The kids much prefer granny smiths, and we have pile of those as well.

I am wearing... My snowflake pajama pants from a girls trip to Chicago. I truly love the silly pictures we have of all four of us wearing them in our Hard Rock Hotel room. How much has changed since that trip two Decembers ago!

From the Learning Rooms... My big brother sent a model rocket for Little Mister's birthday. I think we'll attempt to make the rocket together and make a theme day out of it. Last week, he learned all about the lungs. He can tell you all about the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange. I never know what he's going to ask!

I am creating... pirate patches. Because we've misplaced the one from the eye doctor too many times. I think a back-up (or two) is in order!

I am praying... for a safe morning commute for Hubby. I hate that he travels so far in the snow- or any time really.

Around the house... Cleaning up from a photo appointment yesterday and folding laundry. The kitchen floor is begging for a hands-and-knees scrub.

One of my favorite things... Norah Jones. Love her. She has a new album out!

I am pondering these words... "You may share DNA, but it doesn't mean you share the same values." - Dr. Laura

A few plans for the rest of the week... A cooking lesson/play date. We're making biscuits and gravy. Let's home my gravy doesn't flop that morning! Oh yeah... and searching desperately for a sitter for Thursday, bridesmaid dress shopping, a 4-H Valentine to help with, a meeting with my bride-to-be little sister and her photographer. Looks like I better enjoy this lazy Monday!

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

Little Miss loves "Minnie Mouse ears" (pigtails). She'll wear them for an hour or more before tearing them out which is a huge leap from where we were a month ago!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Having a Baby Change Everything

I remember a time when I left a restaurant arm in arm with my husband. Maybe he'd have his arm around my shoulders, or he'd be guiding me with his hand against the small of my back. I'd be looking up at him, smiling or laughing at one of his goofy comments. He'd open my car door and tuck me safely inside; I'd wait for him to take his seat beside me. It was just the two of us.

And then there's tonight. When we left Texas Roadhouse, me ten feet in front of him trying to keep Little Mister from running off toward the car, him with an armful of Little Miss and the birthday presents from the evening. I opened the passenger side sliding door and helped Little Mister into his seat. Daddy opened the opposite door and buckled Little Miss.

Life is so very different now than it was 4 years ago. Blissfully happy, but almost unrecognizably different. We just fit together, my husband and I, we worked. Now we're like a well-oiled machine. We have to be, but the mechanic evenings that we have sometimes... No, there's no real room for spontaneity. Not like there used to be. The kids have us running in seventeen directions, leaving little time for simply smiling up into his face.

But I suppose I'll have that back soon enough. Before long, we'll be missing the craziness that is our life right now. Before long, we'll walk arm in arm from restaurants behind a group of kids too old to want to run off into the street. I'll let him open the car door for me because we won't have to help the little one into their seats. And we'll miss the days when we had to put so much effort into keeping control of our life.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nature Friends

When you live in the middle of nowhere, you get lonely sometimes. But if you look closely, you'll find lots things begging for your attention.

Like the opossum that snuggled into our basement when the plumbers left the door open a few months ago. We had lots of excitement that night. Hubby originally assured me that the noise I heard down there was a cricket. Right. One big freaking bug! Once we figured out that I was right it really was an opossum, the adventure of releasing the creature back into the wild ensued. It took 3 adults, a barricade of old paneling saved from demo and 12 rounds from a pellet gun to stun the guy into submission long enough to shoo him out the door. Even then, he turned around with "let's see whatcha got" eyes and wanted to fight us. He sure beat our plans to jam on the spoons, whiskey jug and Jew's Harp that night!

And the time when the squirrel set up house under our roof. We spent months banging messages back and forth through the walls and ceilings, that squirrel and I. Hubby tried to seal up it's entrance and trapped it inside for a weekend instead. A few days of cabin fever and that squirrel let us know he'd been left behind! I finally saw him gnawing on a tree yesterday and ran out to reseal his hole. Now he's making a fuss trying to get back inside. I don't blame him. I'm sure all that insulation would beat the snow that's falling outside right now. I just hope a squirrel isn't capable of insurance claim damage.

Or the second (maybe the same) opossum that's facing off with our mouse trap cat on the deck tonight. The two have been staring each other down, hissing, and growling for the better part of two hours. I keep waiting for the bloodshed, but so far, nothing. I did get snapped at through the glass when I got too close to the action tonight. Opossums have to be the ugliest creatures God created.

This Little Prayer of Mine

We say our bedtime prayers and our mealtime prayers. We pray for victims and rescue workers when we see an ambulance or fire truck. We attend Mass regularly and pray together there. We pray for our friends and family. We pray prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, and petition. All this praying that we do in our families, with our children! We hope that it brings us together... closer to the God we love and trust. We hope that it plants the seeds for our children to grow and mature in their faith and relationships with God. Sometimes I worry that I'm not doing enough to cultivate a long term love for God in my children. I try. I try to keep God alive in our home. I try to make my own faith visible to my children. I try to involve them in my faith in the hopes that it will be a springboard for theirs. And I pray.

Yesterday afternoon, the Fed Ex truck pulled up and delivered a much anticipated package! Last week, I received an email from Anthony DeStefano inviting me to be a part of the publicity effort for his new children's book, This Little Prayer of Mine. Little Mister was so excited that the author of a book was giving us a copy- and it would be here in time for his birthday! I, meanwhile, started researching Anthony DeStefano because I really like to know who I'm endorsing! This guy has led an amazing, busy, amazing life! Really, go read about him! Hubby and I were both impressed!

When we got the package yesterday, we just had to open it before we left to pick up Big Sister from school. Little Mister's eyes bulged from his head, and his chin dropped in amazement that the book had really come! You would've thought it had popped straight out of the computer screen!

After school, my kids and I sat around the counter in the kitchen, sugar cookies in hand, to find out what this book was all about. The prayer that is offered through the pages of This Little Prayer of Mine covers so many issues (the ones that seem life or death to a 3 year old) that my children haven't yet learned to pray through. A little girl prays to be happy even though her doll was dismembered by her puppy. A boy was left out of the group of kids (Big Sister thought it was awesome that there was a DSi in that illustration). In a store, the boy, arms heaping with a pile of toys remembers to say thank you for all that he already has.

The book even made me stop and think about what I do when these situations arise. More often than not, I'm cuddling my toddler when she's sad, giving my tweenager advice when she's left out, and disciplining my preschooler when he's grabbing toys from the shelves on our shopping trips. These are not situations where I instinctively teach prayer... but they should be.

I didn't expect this to be a children's book that would reach all of my children, ages 2 to 10, one that would make each of them (and me) think. But Anthony DeStefano's children's book, This Little Prayer of Mine did just that. The book is available to pre-order now for just shy of nine bucks and will be released next week, on February 16th. I really do believe that this book would be a valuable addition to any kids' bookshelf and prayer life!

These opinions are my own.
I was not paid for this review.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tween Daughters- Bridging the Gap

Big Sister is morphing from a little kid to a very capable tweenager. She has a good head on her shoulders, but there are still days when I feel like we're on our way to being strangers. Lately, I've been reflecting on my own pre-teen (because that's what we were called in those days!) years to see what made me feel special. Between the ideas that I liked growing up and some of my new experiences, I'm gaining ground with my kiddo instead of loosing touch with her.

Try these ideas to reconnect with your tweenage daughter...

* Give her a piece of your jewelry. Make sure it's something appropriate for her age. Earrings that hang down to her shoulders will not do the trick! Consider resizing a ring, choosing necklace that can be wrapped twice around her neck or a brooch that can be converted to a hair pin.

* Read a book together. Find a novel that you'll both enjoy, buy or borrow two copies, and read it book club style. Maybe hit a coffee shop for an evening of reading. Celebrate the conclusion of the book.

* Find a hobby to share or start (and finish!) a project together.

* Pass down your prized possession. Be it a camera that you've upgraded from, an older sewing machine, a book collection from your childhood, a tween daughter will feel privileged to be the owner of something dear to you.

* Make her a friendship quilt.

*Do something childish with her. Skating, sledding, slip 'n' sliding... it doesn't matter as long as she's seeing you on her level, letting your hair down and being silly!

* Find your own "anniversary" to remember. Know the dad you found out you were pregnant with her? Maybe the day she first said "mama" or your first girls' night. Let her help you decide, but mark it on the calendar!

* Have an actual conversation with her every day. Don't let the relief of having a kid who is self-sufficient lead to a realization that you haven't spoken to you daughter in a week. Make sure the talk involved something more than "How was your day?" or "Do you have any homework." Ask her about specifics and respond to what she has to say.

* Get excited about what she's excited about-- even if you have to morph into your pre-teen self to do it. You could get on the floor and stack block with her at 1, you can most definitely play on for a while and love it.

* Pray together. With prayer comes closeness, appreciation, admiration, and respect. Pray out loud for yourselves, for each other, in thanks and for guidance. Complete a bible study or faith building book together.

*Embarrass her- but not too much! Yell "I love you!" out the window when you drop her off at school, but don't do it if you've left your curlers in for the drive! Leave her a note of a picture of the two of you in her lunchbox or notebook. Send her flowers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is it Just Me...

Or could this kid be a model for eyeglasses?

I thought I was a sucker for a man in specs, but I had no idea how deep this love ran until today!

Maybe it's because boys in glasses are more cautious, less aggressive (because Mommies like me are paranoid about having to pay for replacements)

Maybe they have a stronger sense of responsibility grown from years of caring for a valuable accessory.

Or maybe boys in glasses are just plain adorable, goofiness and squirreliness and all!

Recipe: Saltine Toffee Bark

A successful experiment adapted from something my mother used to make...


16 saltine crackers
1/2 Cup butter
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate


Line an 8" square pan with aluminum foil. Lay saltines in rows, covering the bottom of the pan. In a saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, and chocolate to a boil. Continue to boil for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over crackers. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes. Place pan in refrigerator until completely cool. Remove foil from back of bark and break into pieces. Serves 16.

Little Miss

Little Mister's birthday is this week, so you'll likely get a double dose of birthing stories. No horror stories this time around! Someday I'll write about Big Sister and what NOT to do, but not this week. Today is a chance to make up for missing Little Miss' birthday post. I know. I'm horrible. Being born around the holidays stinks sometimes. What can I say? Thanksgiving was NOT the best week to sit down to reflect on the past years with her- but it wasn't the calmest week to give birth to her either!

Little Miss was my third pregnancy. I'd been at the hospital twice already only to return home empty handed. See, my pregnancies have each brought with them months of mild braxton-hicks contractions and weeks of moderate ones prior to labor. Living in the middle of nowhere, 45 minutes from the hospital, I didn't want to take a chance at giving birth in the car. Plus, with Little Miss, our insurance costs were the same regardless of the number of false alarms.
On Monday night, I was up crocheting, watching nothing on TV, and trying to figure out what in the world happened to my BH contractions. They'd all but stopped, go figure! Little did I know, it was the calm before the storm! I turned in earlish at 10 or so, and at 11:00, I woke up in... discomfort. Not pain. I laid there waiting for the next fake contraction, and right away (or maybe I'd fallen asleep between them) felt another. Crap. And I was sleeping so soundly! I left Hubby sleeping and got up to see if they would stop when I switched positions. Nope. After having a few 2 minutes apart, I started to get scared. No, they weren't painful, but we were 45 minutes from the hospital and had two sleeping kids upstairs. Hubby got up, I called my parents to come for the kids, and decided to get in the shower, brush my teeth and fix myself up... just in case. I didn't even have time to put shampoo in my hair before I decided I'd better forego the effort for cute pictures and get my tush to the door!

As soon as the headlights swept across the driveway, we headed out to meet my parents. Dad stayed behind, and hubby and I climbed in with my mom to head to the hospital. I still wasn't convinced that this was labor. It was more uncomfortable than I'd experienced, but definitely not painful. I could walk and talk through them for the most part.

It was midnight when we got to the ER and 12:15 when we arrived in the maternity ward. The nurse showed me to an empty labor room, saying "SNIL" to the nurse beside her. She didn't offer me a gown, just asked that I undress from the waist down so that she could check my dilation.

"Are you wanting pain medication, Hun?" asks the nurse.

"I'm hoping not to have any," I reply.

"Well, that's good because you're a nine. It's too late for pain meds."

A nine?!?

Two thoughts went through my head. "Holy crap. I'm not ready to have this baby- I thought I'd be sent back home." and "I could've had this kid in the car!" My mom caught my complete reaction and shared it for just a moment before all hell broke loose around me.

The room filled with nurses helping me undress and gown up, insert an IV, prep the newborn area, and ask me all sorts of questions. "Did you have any complications with your prior births?" "Did either of your children have wide shoulders?" Apparently, my water was the only thing saving the nurse from delivering without a doctor. She did a great job concealing it, but I could tell she was more concerned than I was about that possibility.

At 12:40, the on-call doctor (my OB's wife) arrived, broke my water, caught my kid, and was wrapping up by 12:50AM. I teased her that she made easy money that night!

After the hubbub subsided, we were able to process everything, and my nurse confessed that she just knew we would be going home tonight- so much so that she'd tagged me SNIL: Smiling Not In Labor.

She was on her own schedule then, and she's been that way ever since. She didn't laugh until she was 9 months old, didn't walk until nearly 16 months, and was potty trained at 18 months.

Are you a sucker for birth stories? In Honor of Mama M's birthday, she's hosting a Birth Story Blog Hop! Share your story and let me know you linked up so I can visit you!