Tag Archive: 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!

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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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(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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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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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?

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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.

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Well, it’s been a week. It’s been a long week. Seems like I was just here writing about my crazy day last week.

This week, we’re so grateful for our friends and family who have supported us. All the kind words, cards and hugs have been much appreciated!

What’s good in your life this week?

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