Category: Family


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!

If you liked this, try these!

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!

 

If you liked this, try these!

(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!

 

If you liked this, try these!

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!

If you liked this, try these!

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!”

 

If you liked this, try these!

We’ve just finalized details of our first vacation as a family. We’re headed to Branson, Missouri this winter!

I always wondered how my plans would change once we had a kid in tow and it turns out they haven’t at all! Jeff and I love all the educational and family friendly museums, shows, and tours like we always have.  It’s so exciting that I get to share this with Miss P now too. She’ll be almost a year old when we go, so she’ll be able to be really engaged in the different things we do.

I think a lot of it has to do with my background of being homeschooled. We were encouraged and supported to love and explore education and that has really stuck with me! Once Miss P is older, we have a trip to Washington, DC planned to visit all of the Smithsonian museums!

Before we booked our trip, I thought of Branson just as a place that has lots of music and shows (and Lawrence Welk… but that’s another story). Now that we’ve started researching – I am amazed and excited by all the things we can do! There’s a medieval castle being built by hand, a Titanic musem, a body parts museum and a water park at our resort! You can even take a tour in a duck. (No, seriously. It’s a duck.)  As I’m making the list of things to do, I’m afraid I’ll have to start narrowing down our list so we’re not running around all day.

I’m already starting on a packing list, figuring out how everything will fit into our car for the 12 hr drive. What do I need to know for this first family vacation? Got any great tips for traveling with kids?

If you liked this, try these!

Every parent thinks their baby is the smartest baby EVER. Your baby rolled over better, crawled faster and walks better than any other baby EVER.  There’s a girl at work like this – every time she asks me about what Miss P was up to, her baby somehow managed every feat about two months earlier.

When I was expecting Miss P, I read a lot of books and blogs about everything from diapering to breast feeding to actual feeding of babies. I formed opinions on everything and was resolved that things would go according to my textbook plan. Now I hear you veteran parents laughing and you know what’s coming next…

Things didn’t work out the way I planned.  We didn’t end up cloth diapering exclusively.  We haven’t taught Miss P how to use a potty yet (it’s called elimination communication and in other parts of the world is perfectly normal for babies).  The world hasn’t ended because we took a different path – and that was hard for me to accept at first.

But back to the topic at hand. One thing I had never heard of before was this notion called “Baby Led Weaning”. Basic premise is that you skip all the jarred baby foods and dry cereals that you mix with juice and food to make it even palatable.  When baby is ready, you simply start feeding baby foods that you would eat yourself.  It was a very interesting notion to me.

I remembered the times I’d fed my nephew as a baby and I could barely stand the smell of some of the jarred food that I was feeding him.  Some of it was even unrecognizable. If you had given me an unlabeled jar, I would not have been able to identify what was actually in it! (Side note: this was actually a game at my baby shower. Brilliant game, but really eye opening. What do “mixed veggies” actually look like? Mud.)

Jeff thought it was a little bit crazy when I first showed him the idea but we filed it away as something to consider later on. As Miss P got older and started to be interested in the food we were eating, the topic came up again. By this point, we figured that maybe we’d try it in another month or two.  But Miss P had other ideas. One night while we were eating, she was sitting in Jeff’s lap and eying his mashed potatoes. He thought it’d be funny to offer her the spoon to see what would happen. That smart little girl pulled the spoon to her mouth and fed herself mashed potatoes! We were both in shock. Babies aren’t supposed to know how to do that! They just open their mouths like guppies and we shovel in the food!  It was really that moment that cemented the idea of BLW (baby led weaning) in my mind.

Since then, P has been exploring all sorts of fun foods! We started with bananas, then avocados on toast. Steamed carrots weren’t far behind that! We’ve only been on this journey for just two months since we didn’t start till Miss P was about six months but it’s been amazing how smart my baby is! She knows how to feed herself. She picks the carrots first out of the peas and carrots mix we snack on. If she can’t get something chewed just right, she’ll spit it out.

This is watermelon and probably one of her favorite foods so far! You’ll see a little mesh feeder in her hand. Some “purists” (or as I call it, know-it-alls) say using a mesh feeder defeats the purpose of BLW. I respectfully disagree! It gives Miss P the ability to feed herself sometimes the more slippery and messy foods. Watermelon and regular melon works great since the mesh feeder has a handle.

Bonus use for the mesh feeder = ice cubes. As Miss P has been teething, a couple of ice cubes in the feeder let her chew and suck on the cold cubes without me being worried about pieces being broken off. She refuses regular ‘teething’ toys that you can chill.

Before I give you more thought about how awesome BLW has turned out to be for us – let me address something that I’m sure my mother and many other old school parents are freaking out about. Just because I’m feeding Miss P things that we would eat doesn’t mean I’m feeding her blindly or stupidly.  I pay attention to what she eats and am careful she’s not eating anything that would be a hazard to her. I don’t leave her alone with food, either. In our experience, she hasn’t once had a problem eating anything we’ve offered her. That doesn’t mean I get lazy!

I am loving baby led weaning! It’s been such an awesome process for our family. We don’t stress about packing special food when we go places since most restaurants have some sort of fruit or veggie on their menu. We’ll let her taste what we’re eating too. She’s not a fan of sweet potato fries, although I’m hoping she’ll like them some day!  In the next few months, we’ll start introducing her to meats too – so that’ll be a whole new range of experiences for her!

Baby led weaning is inexpensive. No bottles or jars or packages to buy. No special containers to mix and transport food.  Not only is it good for my budget, it’s also good for the planet and my sanity. I can share our dinner with Miss P so I’m not spending extra time making a second meal. She’s experiencing flavors and textures that we eat all the time so that as she grows, it won’t be battle to try new things (that’s our hope at least!).

And my baby is darn smart! She can manage foods very well on her own. We were at a family reunion over the weekend and everyone was confused by this eight month old baby who quite competently fed herself.  She’s also quite brilliant at grabbing your hand that the food is in and guiding it to her mouth.   Because we’ve been feeding her this way, we’ve only used a spoon to feed her a few times and that has been in the last few weeks as we’ve introduced applesauce. As we were sitting together tonight, Miss P kept grabbing for the spoon when I offered it to her. Rather than sticking her fingers in the applesauce, she pulled it to her mouth and got all the contents of the spoon into her mouth and not on her face!  I think we’re getting close to letting her try using a spoon by herself as long as we pre-load it for her.   Never would I have imagined that a baby could do these things without being taught or traumatized. Apparently we’re not giving our children the credit they deserve.

If you liked this, try these!

On Passing

On Friday, I wrote about how I had been having a very bad day. There have been no posts written since Friday because that day continued for much longer than I anticipated.

Friday night, we received a call from my husband’s mother. Her husband Bud has been ill for quite a while and they had decided to call hospice. We were told we could go visit sometime next week, and that her husband’s children were coming to visit on Saturday.

Saturday morning, I was scheduled to participate in a 5k race. My alarm was set, but did not go off – so I woke up too late to make it to the race. It was the first one of the season for me, so I was disappointed. My husband suggested we go into town and get some shopping done, catch a movie, and let my mother spend some time with her granddaughter. On the way out the door, Jeff got a call from his mother. Bud had passed away in the middle of the night.  We dropped everything and went to sit with his mom and family. (There was a purpose to me missing the race.)

Since Saturday, it’s been a blur of days. We’ve spent most of our time at my mother-in-law’s house. We’ve dealt with funeral plans, obituaries and arranging places for out of town relatives to stay. We hosted Jeff’s sister, her husband and two very hyper little boys.  We were part of visitations and ate a lot of food people brought for the family.

It’s been a tough week for me, as Bud was married to Jeff’s mom before we were married so he’s always been my father-in-law. I’ve not slept well and cried a lot. Baby P has felt a lot of the stress too. Starting on Saturday, she’s decided that it’s only okay for others to look at her if Mom and Dad are holding her. She won’t be held by either grandmother, nor anyone else for that matter. She’s clingy and hasn’t slept well either.

The service was yesterday. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and warm weather. Bud was in the Army so there was a very beautiful salute at the graveyard celebrating his service. After the 21 gun salute, the VFW honor squad collected the shells and gave them to my mother-in-law along with the flag. She gave us one of the spent casings as a remembrance for Baby P. She probably won’t remember her grandpa, as he was ill before she was born and he never held her himself – but she often gave him smiles and giggles.

The days have really blurred together and it’s been hard to keep track of what we’ve done on which day. We were going to purchase a paper on Monday because the obituary was published, but here it is Thursday and I am just now remembering. I return to work tomorrow and I hope it goes smoothly. I worked Monday and I was a wreck all day long.

I’m so appreciative of the friends and family who came to the visitation and funeral, even those that didn’t know Bud personally. Thanks to everyone who brought food for my mother-in-law. It’s been a blessing to be able to just eat when we need to, rather than worry about preparing or shopping for food. My heart is so sad, but I’m so blessed by everyone who has been there for us this week.

Life moves on and doesn’t wait for us. It will take a while for us grieve.

 

If you liked this, try these!

P is now just four months old! I can’t believe how the time has flown – I look at photos of her as a newborn and can’t believe how big she’s gotten! I think back to what I thought before she was born… and I can’t believe how I’ve grown too.

I’ve been around friends who are parents and had a lot of advice given to me over the past year (mostly unwanted!). Here’s a few things that I’m surprised by now that I’m in their shoes.

I’m not afraid of body fluids.

That’s right. I remember visiting my sister and her 6mo old son before I was pregnant and was shocked (and a bit grossed out) when she wiped spit-up off his mouth and then dried her hand on her jeans… never skipping a beat in our conversation. It was terrible! Unsanitary! She topped it by cleaning off his pacifier ten minutes later by sticking it in her own mouth. I almost ran for the bathroom. How could someone do something like that?

Now that I’m a parent, I’ve wiped up spit, grabbed rogue boogers, been peed and pooped on and all without missing a beat. I’m still occasionally grossed out by a diaper – and I’m not sure how a child so little can have SO MUCH POOP at one time, but it all goes in stride. I’ve managed blow-out diapers, rogue pacifiers (although I draw the line at sucking it clean!) and days where both P and I go through several clothing changes.  I think nothing of catching some drool with a finger.

I’m comfortable with my body.

Remember a couple of years ago when there was a big uproar about nursing mothers posting photos on LiveJournal (Remember LJ? I know you had one back in the day!)? I was confused by the big deal  but proud of nursing mothers who stood up for what they believed in.  Just another crusade, right?

I’m not quite to a place where I’ll nurse P out in the open, since I know it bothers some of my family and I respect that – but I’m not shy any more. You’ve either got ’em or you love ’em, so if you get a bit of a peek while P is eating – it’s not going to be anything you haven’t seen before. I will also check my built-in timers at any time to determine when P ate last, or if she’s needing to eat again. I think much of this stems from labor & birth. All modesty goes out the window when you’re dealing with contractions. I realized it wasn’t the end of the world to be tottering about my room in a hospital gown with my butt hanging out.

My parenting style is…

While I was pregnant, I read a lot of books. I think my final total was around twenty or so! I read books about pregnancy, about birth, about breastfeeding, about parenting, and just about anything else having to do with babies and children. I diagnosed my ‘style’ of parenting and I knew what I was going to do about sleeping, eating, feeding, schedules, vaccinations and everything else in between. I’m embarrassed to say it now, but I even looked down my nose a bit at mothers who were raising their kids a different way. My way was best!

Well, that all was thrown out the window when we had to bring P to join us early due to health complications on my part. It didn’t follow my birth plan, it wasn’t what I had pictured, and horror of horrors – we had to supplement with formula in the first twenty-four hours due to poor nurse communications and low blood sugar. That first day and a half, I was a wreck. Nothing was going according to the picture I had built up in my head.

We came home and it kept crashing down. Nothing was ‘right’. Finally, I threw the books down and decided I’d go with the ‘gut’ style of parenting.  Women have been mothers for thousands of years without the benefits of books and plans and schedules – and the world is full of people, so we must be doing something right! Since I’ve relaxed my ‘ideals’, I’ve become a better parent. I respond to P’s needs as they happen and we figure things out together. The world hasn’t come crashing down on us yet. I still have to remind myself sometimes that what works for me doesn’t for someone else… but I’m getting better on that front too.

Never Say Never!

If you’re now humming Justin Bieber’s song… don’t admit it. That’s embarrassing.  Yes, they covered his music on Glee… but it doesn’t make it any more cool!

Back to my point though, before the Bieber fangirls attack… One of the  most important things I have learned is that you can’t talk in absolutes. ( You thought I’d say ‘never say never’ again, didn’t you!)  Before P was born, I was absolutely certain that I wouldn’t force my child into the very tiny gender boxes that babies get. If it’s a boy, you dress in blue. A girl? Pink power, baby! We didn’t find out her gender before she was born – I was all ready to dress my baby in neutral clothing, until they were older and could decide if they wanted dinosaurs or princesses.

P came along and rocked my world. Since we were surprised by her, most of the clothes we had been given were blues and greens. And we dressed her in those adorable little clothes for several weeks. Sadly, people assumed she was a boy when she was dressed in her adorable little yellow and green outfits.  Friends started giving us pink and purple clothing, but I tucked it aside. I wouldn’t do that to my child.

Then one day, the inevitable happened. Everything was in the wash, and P needed to be changed (again!). The closest outfit at hand was purple. We weren’t leaving the house, so I quickly snapped her into the outfit. That final snap sealed my doom to be that mother. She was SO adorable in the purple! Then I tried a pink outfit. And a rainbow striped outfit. And jeans with pink flowers and RUFFLES! Each outfit was cuter than the last.

And now, at four months – I’ve given up on all my absolutes. My daughter dresses in pinks and sparkles. I even crossed the one line that I swore that I’d never even DREAM of crossing.

I swore my daughter would never wear a headband with the crazy plastic flowers and bows. Now look what I’ve become! (She is quite adorable… isn’t she?) I really can’t help it. P is starting to develop a collection of hair bows and bands, and it’s all I can do not to keep buying more! This adorable one came from My2LilPixies on Etsy.

I’m a completely different parent then I thought I would be, but I’ve come to realize that it is okay!

If you liked this, try these!

Happy Friday! We like to take time on Fridays to look back and remember the good and positive from our week.

Today is Tax Day! We’re cheering on behalf of all tax men everywhere (including mine)!

 

Taleah: P slept pretty well most of this week, so I’m finally catching up in the sleep deficit. Still not 100%, but I’ll take not falling asleep while standing up.

Jeff: Golf season started!

Baby P: This week, I found my toes! They’re quite fun to hang onto although it’d hard to chew a toy and grab them at the same time!

 

That’s it for us this week – what’s good for you?

If you liked this, try these!