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I haven’t blogged in a while. I look at my life and say “Why would anyone want to read about this?” I work full time and commute almost 45mins each way, five times a week. Jeff works part time and we juggle childcare between two very flexible and doting grandmothers. There are weeks that the laundry doesn’t get done until we’re down to my last pair of dress pants and Miss P is rocking an outfit that looks like she put it together herself.

I try to cook homemade, but there are days that I would give anything for a little extra cash for a pizza. Our house doesn’t even have curtains and we’ve been in this house for three and a half years now. Let’s not even start talking about decorating for every season. I bought a fall mum from a friend’s daughter’s fundraiser and it sits in its pot on my front port instead of being planted in the real planter (that my mom put there!).

For book club this month, we read Bloom by Kelle Hampton. I put off reading it day after day because the first few pages were so heartbreaking and sad and heart achy. I have one day until book club and I resolved to finish it (because I’m not going to be that member that just comes for the food).

In one sitting, I finished it. The whole book. I’m sitting here way past my bedtime for a work night and so glad that I kept on with it. It’s a beautiful story of motherhood. She’s a photographer, so it’s filled with gorgeous photos of her family and friends. The photographer in me could have looked at her beautiful family all day long. (I do have to admit I’m a teensy bit jealous of how amazing she looks in EVERY photo. I haven’t mastered that part of parenting yet… but I can at least say I don’t own a pair of sweatpants, yet.) But for all of that, it’s not even Kelle’s words that made me sit and weep.

They were words of her sister and I can barely keep the tears in as I share this one line.

“And just like I could be sad that my kids aren’t benefiting from me being a stay-at-home mom right now, I have to look at what they are getting — a good role model for work ethic and independence.” (pg 87 in hardcover)

That one sentence hit me like a ton of bricks. So I’m not Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray. I don’t have cute burlap decorations lauding fall’s arrival nor do I whip up desserts that are worthy of cookbook covers or food porn websites. I just said porn on my blog. Let’s see the Google hits now!

But I’m experiencing life the only way I can right now — and that is one day at a time. I can’t be the only one dealing with working and trying to raise a child who thinks she’s old enough to run up and down stairs by herself. We plan on homeschooling and I can barely keep my eyes open long enough in the evening after everything else is done to keep up on what’s up in the homeschooling world these days. A lot has changed in the years since I was a kid.

So there — I’m going to stop being sorry for myself and bloom where I’m freaking planted already. Life is life, what will be will be, and I might as well get on board.

 

PS: Although I don’t normally care for memoirs and non-fiction, I am SO glad that we chose Bloom for our book club selection this month. It’s funny how God brings us things right when we need them.

PPS: Something Catchy now has a Facebook page. I tend to share a lot of links and content there. Come join us!

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I love Mr. Rogers. I’ve had an affinity for him since I was young. There is something so reassuring about his show. No flashy graphics, no loud or disorienting music, and no rude behaviors. (Spend fifteen minutes in front of current children’s programming and you’ll see what I mean.)

One of the blogs that I follow, Food Renegade, linked the following beautiful remix of some of Mr. Rogers’ words. Take a few minutes – it’s very much worth your time.

Mr. Rogers had such a passion for children. Here is a short five minute statement he gave in front of a Congressional Committee in 1969. It’s as much true now as it was then.
 

What an incredible man. When I was in college, I sent off an email to him thanking him for the impact that he had on my life as a child. He (or probably someone on his PR team) responded with a wonderfully gracious thank you.  It wasn’t a “We’re awesome and we know it!” reply. It was “You are special and we’re glad we had the opportunity to be a part of your life” thank you.  I’ve always appreciated that. And then when he passed away, I wept for a generation that might not know the quiet confidence that Mr. Rogers gave to many many children across the world.

There are a few full episodes out on YouTube if you’ve never experienced Mr. Rogers – I highly recommend it.

Finally, you always make each day such a special day!  I couldn’t find this video anywhere but on the PBS website – but for those of you who grew up with Mr. Rogers, you’ll know the song immediately.  It’s worth a reminder.

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While my husband is completing a paralegal studies program, he has been home full-time with Miss P (At 15mo, she’s not much of a baby anymore!).

They have a blast together, or so Miss P tells me. They go to story time at our local library, visit one grandma and the other comes at least once a week to visit. My daughter is very taken with her daddy and even insists on calling me “da-da” much to my chagrin. He reads stories with his own commentary and although he’s heard it a million times, can’t remember the words to “Pop Goes The Weasel”.

However, there are some things that he still struggles with and which I step in to make things much easier:

Being creative in the kitchen

Jeff has the unique manly ability to look at a stocked kitchen and state “There is nothing to eat”. What’s even more impressive than that is when I run down a list of things one can make for a meal from our kitchen and in less than an hour, he’s standing in the middle of our kitchen declaring it a food desert.

This is the little whiteboard in our kitchen. As you can see, I’ve got directions for our homemade oatmeal packets (instant oatmeal portioned out into baggies). There’s also a list of various things that he and Miss P can eat for lunch. (and the appointment reminder for our stove to be repaired. Do you know how hard it is cook without an oven?) I try to keep this board updated with what is readily available (especially leftovers). Down in the corner, you’ll also see notes from my mother who comes to visit once a week with Miss P. She’ll note nap time, any dinner and their activities for the afternoon. It’s pretty awesome that I can come home and have some reference for conversation with my daughter on those days.

I also portion leftovers off into individual servings to make it easy for their lunch or to grab for mine. We’re trying to transition into using glass containers rather than plastic. We use the Pyrex 12-Piece Glass Bake Serve N Store Set and are slowly adding to our collection.

Clothes that are not pajamas

Why not wear pajamas all day? My husband’s logic is that one doesn’t need to wear something other than pajamas  if one doesn’t leave the house. My daughter has a couple of very doting aunties and two grandmothers so she has quite an extensive and stylish wardrobe.  Jeff has not learned to have an appreciation for all of the style choices our daughter has.  I’ve tried a few different ways of setting out outfits for the days I work early. I’ve laid out outfits on the changing table and we labeled the clothes boxes.

 

Yes, I know it says “Sort Sleeves”. Jeff was in charge of printing and we didn’t notice the auto-spell check until we had already gotten the label up. This is just temporary storage for the clothes. I’m in the market for a decent second-hand dresser, just haven’t found the right one yet.

Tonight we tried something new. Miss P and I laid out several Ziploc bags and put complete outfits into each one. Now Jeff can just grab a bag and *poof* – instant style for Miss P. She had a great time putting the bags together with me. I filled the bags and she stacked them on top of each other. We’ll see if this is more effective.

Now if only we could come up with an effective way to keep the laundry current! Miss P is not a messy child most of the time, but it seems like our laundry hampers fill three times faster with her laundry added!

 

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Jeff and I love museums! So much so that during our week in Branson we toured more museums than we saw shows!

One of the museums was right down the road from our resort and was probably the most impressive one of all – The Titanic Museum.

Before we went into the museum, I knew the following about the Titanic.

1) It sank.

2) There was a movie (Titanic, obviously) that came out when I was in 9th grade. One of my friends saw it EIGHT times in the theater and I swore I would never watch it if only to keep myself from becoming like that.

2.5) To this day, I still haven’t watched the whole movie.

3) I have watched one bit of the film. Gaelic Storm plays in a scene. They’re an incredible Celtic band that I’ve gotten the chance to see live. Here’s the best clip I can find on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6R4uEBjVdE

Isn’t that great? So this was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of the Titanic.

Heading into the museum, I wasn’t sure what to expect!

Even before we got into the Museum, it was cool…

The museum is shaped like the Titanic and an iceberg!

Unfortunately, we were expressly told that we could not take any photographs in the museum.  That was sad (although I could see the reason – preserving the artifacts) – so any further photos are ones that are on the Titanic Museum’s website.

We entered the museum (baby on my hip) and were each given a boarding pass featuring an actual passenger on the Titanic and a audio device that resembled a phone. Throughout the museum, there were identification markers that gave us a code to input into our handheld player. By holding it up to our ear, it was like getting a personal tour of the museum at our own pace.

There were also docents throughout the museum that provided some very in-depth answers to questions! Entering the museum just ahead of us was a tour group of college aged men and they had quite the range of questions. I was impressed by the knowledge that the staff had about the museum.

Oh yes, the museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the actual collection and I was completely blown away by it! Actual items from the Titanic were on display. Letters and cards that had been mailed, photographs of the ship and the passengers and even a deck chair fished from the icy seas.

Many of the displays remarked “This is one of only two menus/pins/letters/etc to survive.” Every gallery was well organized and everything flowed well together. It wasn’t just a tourist attraction in a tourist-based town, every item was well preserved and displayed very carefully.

Half-way through our tour, we got to walk up a replica of the Grand Staircase:

 

Jeff enjoyed the portion of the exhibit where he could pretend to shovel coal with a weighted shovel. He also was impressed by all the historical details provided in all of the displays.

At the end of the tour, we got to watch a video of the submarines and remote vehicles that found the Titanic wreck. We also passed a memorial wall where we could find if our boarding pass passenger lived or died.  April of 2012 marks 100 years

Here’s our pros and cons from the visit:

Pros:

  • Handheld audio players let us wander around at our own pace and listen to the parts we were interested in.
  • Lots of details were provided in the artifact displays.
  • A few hands-on exhibits such as shoveling coal, platforms representing various slopes on the ship as it was sinking, and seeing how long you could hold your hand in ice water that represented what the survivors suffered through.
  • There are actually two mascot dogs representing the doggie passengers on the ship! They live at the museum and have full time staff who take care of them. We got to meet Molly on our way out of the museum. She was adorable!

Cons:

  • We weren’t able to take photographs during the tour. There were a couple of staged areas like the bridge and a simulated outside view that would have been really neat.
  • At the end of our tour, our photo was taken by a staff member who advised us that we could purchase it in the gift shop. We were unsuccessful in locating this and the staff member on duty was busy chatting with a friend (possibly an off-duty staffer).
  • The museum is really geared for teenagers and adults. That’s not a bad thing, but parents with small children may want to bring something to keep them entertained. It’d be great to have an audio tour geared towards children.
  • Jeff stated it would have been really cool to be out on the roof of the building (if it were outfitted like a ship). He also wanted to see a life-sized engine.
  • There were a few knowledge-check quizzes, but I would have liked to see more educational or interactive exhibits.

Really, it’s hard to call those cons! Suggestions, maybe.

Taking Miss P, who was just a year old, through the museum was a bit of a challenge. She loved the dog and some of the exhibits, but she just did not have the patience for most of it. Jeff and I took turns entertaining her.

I would totally go back again! We really enjoyed the whole experience and I’m sure on a second trip I would learn even more.

Over the next week or two, I’ll be writing about our other experiences on our trip! Once those are up, click the “Branson” tag on this post!

(Full disclosure here: The museum graciously hosted us for the day in exchange for our feedback on our visit. All our opinions are always our own.)

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WotW is a reoccuring feature where I get to share the cool and awesome things I discover.

Well, it’s November in Michigan. One day we’ll open the windows because it’s warm outside, the next it’s snowing.  We put up with this crazy weather because we live in a beautiful place, but there are some days when I know why everyone moves to Arizona or Florida when they retire.

Today, I just have one thing for you. This took my breath away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gutI5qnjxo&feature=player_embedded

 

It’s just beautiful.

What’s got your eye (or ear!) today?

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(or How To Homeschool Your Baby)

The summer has just flown by. The leaves are turning colors and we turned on the furnace for the chilly nights. (and it snowed last night!) And my little baby is crawling like a speed demon, pulling herself up to standing and chewing on EVERYTHING! Seems like it was just yesterday that she was a cuddly little lump that would snuggle with me all day long.

Fall/Winter also means it’s back to school time! I’ve previous confessed my addiction to back to school sales and Jeff just shakes his head as I make a detour in the store to stock up on notebooks, lined paper and crayons. And markers! And glue! And pencils!  Some of it is justified as Jeff is taking classes but some of it is stocking up for the future. It won’t be too long before Miss P is coloring and drawing!

It may be coming from my homeschooling background, but I’m finding that we’ve already started teaching Miss P in a lot of different ways. The first time we took her swimming in our pool over the summer, Jeff laughed at me and pointed out that I was trying to explain buoyancy to a 7mo old child. (For the record, she loves the pool!)

We discuss the weather when we’re looking out the window. I got to explain the importance of jury duty when I was called to serve in October (Sadly, there were no trials for me to participate in). There have been fire station tours and history lessons.  We talk about toys floating or sinking when Miss P takes a bath.

Our upcoming vacation to Branson is filled with museum visits and educational stops like Silver Dollar City where we’ll be able to watch craftsmen. A huge thank you to some awesome family friends who travel to Branson often – we’ve gotten great info on what to do!  I’m still trying to convince Jeff that we should drive an hour out of our way to see Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home at some point.  Miss P and I have been reading the Little House series every night at bed time for several months now.

Everything turns into a learning opportunity and I suspect that when we actually start “homeschooling” that it won’t be such a large leap from what we’re already doing. Maybe a little bit more structured, maybe a little bit more organized but not much different.

Now if you’d excuse me, I have some more educational things to plan for our vacation!

 

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I was the oldest of three sisters growing up in the late 80s-early 90s. As a family we always had a Saturday night tradition: bath night.

Saturday night was the one night a week where all three of us would take a bath on the same day to ensure we were clean for church the next morning. My parents formed an assembly line to get us all in and out without too many problems. My mother would help us in the bathroom, supervise the bath time if needed and help our youngest sister get dressed and such. Once we were clean and cozy in our pajamas, she sent us out to the living room to our father. He was in charge of combing out our long hair and blowing it dry.

This was my favorite part of Saturday nights – sitting on the couch with my father. Not only did we get our own time with him but we also got to watch a tv show: The Lawrence Welk Show!

While it now may be the subject of great SNL parody, this show helped introduce me to amazing music. Week after week, I heard country music, jazz tunes, energetic polkas and show tunes. There was even Jo Ann Castle who was one of the most amazing pianists I’ve ever seen:

After Miss P’s bath tonight, we were playing together in our family room while the football games were on TV. (If you follow college football, you’ll know that there was a huge rivalry game between Michigan State and University of Michigan. All I’ll say is Go Green!) I was surfing channels to find something a tab bit more calming before bed and came across PBS… and the Lawrence Welk show.

I put it on right away and all the memories of our old traditions came rushing back. I’ll have to admit I got a bit nostalgic and misty-eyed when I realized I was starting the tradition with my daughter now.   I was thrilled when she crawled up into my arms and we just sat and listened to the music together.

If she grows up to prefer more classical music over the Bieber-pop that’s popular now, I’ll be a very happy mother.

If you haven’t experienced the Lawerence Welk show (or you just want to re-experience it) Here are a few more videos!

Good night!

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My grandmother just celebrated her 90th birthday. She still lives alone and is in pretty great health for her age. She credits her health to milk and cookies every night for a snack. I shot this photo at our family reunion this summer during our cribbage tournament (she still plays a better game than I do)!

 

Click the button below to check out other great photos this week!

”Photo

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It’s a little bit cliche now. What once used to be a cute bumper sticker has really caught on… in name.  From time to time you may do something for a friend and call it a “RAK”, maybe bake cookies or buy something that you know they’d like. You might even send a card to a friend that you’ve been thinking of recently. These things are great but are they really random?

It’s easy and mostly comfortable to  do something for someone you know – but I want to step outside of that comfort zone. I want to show kindness to the people around me, even the strangers. But I need your help! What are your ideas for brightening the day of those who I come in contact with every day? I’m going to take these ideas and put them into practice over the next several months.

This is part of a larger journey that I’m trying to write about but the words haven’t come out quite right. Long story short = I’m rediscovering my spirituality and faith journey. I know it sounds a bit cheesy and trite and that’s why I haven’t written about it at length yet. I want to make sure I put the right words to what’s happening in my life.

So let me hear from you, dear friends. What are some great and tangible ways I can love others?

 

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I’ve always felt I was cut out to be a mother. It’s come (mostly) naturally, and I love it. Nothing has seemed weird or out of place to me and I’m quite comfortable doing all the embarrassing things that come with the territory. 

Recently, I was out with Miss P and had to stop at the grocery store for just a few items. Unfortunately it just happened be around the time that Miss P prefers to nap. I opted not to carry her diaper bag, instead deciding to juggle my pocketbook, keys and a couple of toys instead.  I strapped her into the cart seat and tried to get through my short list as quickly as possible. We weren’t in the store for five minutes before P had a meltdown and started screaming. So out of the cart she came into my arms!

Of course there was now no way I could juggle a pocketbook, keys and a wiggly baby. In the grand MacGuyver tradition, I hooked my keys to a couple of plastic toy links and over the waistband of my pants (which had no pockets!). The pocketbook was stuffed under the blanket in the cart seat and we spent the rest of the shopping trip dancing and singing down the aisles. There was snot on my shoulder and a set of plastic links swinging from my pants. 

As we were waltzing through the frozen foods, I caught sight of us in the glass doors of the cases and had to stop and laugh.

“I’ve arrived as a parent.”  I thought.  Only the love of a parent could cause a normally sane person to cavort down the grocery store aisles at 2pm humming nonsense like “Oh Miss P! Don’t cry! We’re going to get some broccoli now!”

 

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