May 2017

  • 27 The Magical Car Bag

    My son had his first swimming lesson last week. Planning ahead, I dutifully packed a bag with swim trunks, towels, and goggles and chauffeured him directly to the pool after school. Upon arrival, I discovered that I had made a serious error in not having him try on his new trunks prior to their maiden plunge. They were so huge that not even a fully-cinched drawstring could keep them up on his scrawny hips. Thinking fast, I told him he could swim in the athletic shorts he’d worn to school. Which was a good solution until he got out of
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  • 20 Getting in Front of the Camera

    I did my first live-stream video broadcast over social media last weekend. Could anything be more horrible-sounding? Watching yourself on video is one of the most awful experiences ever. I still cringe whenever I think about the cinematic interpretation of Milton’s Paradise Lost that I created as a group project in high school English. Being on video is bad enough, but doing it live? Yup, that’s definitely worse. No opportunity for careful editing to make you sound like you know what you’re doing. No do-overs when you stumble over your own name or sneeze mid-sentence. My father dutifully recorded my
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  • 13 Fear of Dentists Learned Through Osmosis (Apparently)

    I took my kids to the dentist last week. I hadn’t intended to undertake this activity. In fact, I had deliberately scheduled their appointment on a day that their dad has custody so that I wouldn’t have to take them. But The Universe has a twisted sense of humor and I wound up on duty. My kids don’t like the dentist. And by that I mean that it took me five minutes to extract my youngest child from the car in the parking lot, as she clung to the straps of her car seat and shrieked at the top of
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  • 6 I’m Totally Fine (Help! Help!)

    I find that I have to fight the instinct to blithely assure The World that I am “fine.” It’s all good. No problems here. Everything is under control. We don’t need any help, thanks. Sometimes it’s legitimate. A kind soul offered my kids and me a ride home from church last week when she saw us about to sally forth on foot in the pouring rain. But my offspring genuinely like walking in the rain so I wasn’t being a martyr when I declined. They had new umbrellas and we were looking forward to the puddle-stomping opportunities. But sometimes I’m
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April 2017

  • 29 I Fear No Sparkle Slushy

    I could charitably be described as risk-averse. You could also call me a wimp without hurting my feelings. It’s totally true. I have no aspirations to skydiving and you will find neither bungee jumping nor cliff diving on my bucket list. Driving fast makes me nervous and I once broke down in tears when asked to briefly hold a hand gun because I was sure I was about to inadvertently kill someone. Said gun was not loaded at the time. I don’t even like aggressive board games like Monopoly because the stakes feel too high, even when the money is
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  • 22 Failing and Rising: An Easter Story

    Ah, Easter. A holiday of resurrection and rebirth. It’s beautiful, joyful, flower-filled. And dangerous. Easter is a parenting minefield, my friends. As with any holiday that involves atypical wardrobe requirements, large quantities of sugar, and high expectations for good behavior, there are many opportunities for disaster. This Easter weekend was, frankly, a mixed bag for the Snyder clan, but we rallied in the end. My first mistake was egg decorating. It always seems like such a good idea – a family craft project destined to produce gorgeous Easter baubles and luminous holiday memories. Hooray! But, of course, the darned egg
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  • 15 Sometimes I Eat Chocolate Instead

    I was going to write this column a few days ago, after my kids were in bed. But my daughter chose that night to be terrorized by a rogue fly that was loose in her room. I was forced to do battle with the evil thing, ultimately smiting it with the swatter. Victory assured, it still took me another thirty minutes to convince her it hadn’t brought any friends along when it invaded her room. By the time I staggered out of her bedroom, my intellectual and emotional fuel gauge was on zero and so, instead of composing witty prose,
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  • 11 I Love “The Little Mermaid.” (Except When I Hate Her)

    (Blog readers may think this sounds familiar – I reworked a previous blog post for my newspaper column this week!) I took my kids to see a ballet production of The Little Mermaid last weekend. I wasn’t entirely wowed, but in fairness, my tepid response may have to do with the fact that I find most ballet pretty boring. There was some cool staging with undulating sheets simulating waves and a fun dance battle between the sea witch’s evil minions (including glowing electric eels and copper-finned sea dragons) and the heroic merfolk’s supporters (including tie-died sea horses and a fleet
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  • 1 Zen and the Art of Suburban Lawn Maintenance

    I bought a lawn mower. I feel like such a grownup. Lawn care was something that my husband always took care of but now that I’m a solo home-owner, I can’t unilaterally defer the outdoor maintenance anymore. (Alas.) I lucked out this “winter” and only had to do one fifteen-minute round of driveway cleanup the entire season. But there’s just no getting around the lawn. So I bought a mower. My yard isn’t quite big enough to justify a riding mower, but just big enough to make pushing daunting. I compromised with a swanky self-propelled push mower with an electric
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March 2017

  • 25 Semi-Public Restrooms Are Just Plain Awful

    I don’t like public restrooms. I just don’t. It’s not that they’re dirty — I’ve never suffered from the compulsion to construct elaborate toilet paper seat barriers nor engage in quad workouts while hovering above the seat- it’s just that they’re public. I don’t like an audience. It’s that simple and I really don’t think that’s asking too much. Over the years, I’ve come to accept and tolerate truly public restrooms, like the ones at the airport, the movie theater, or the mall. These are restrooms of mass anonymity where you are simply one of dozens, whizzing together as one. You
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  • 21 Cultural Sensitivity in Aisle Seven

    Last weekend, I traveled around the world inside the span of two hours. Yes, friends, I made the pilgrimage to Jungle Jim’s International Market in Cincinnati. It was insane. For those not yet initiated into the ranks of Jungle Acolytes, let me set the stage for you. There are life-sized painted statues of giraffes, rhinos, and other African critters, grouped around a large waterhole just outside the entrance. The façade of the building is covered in faux trees, vines, and shrubbery. And that’s just the outside. The store bills itself as “more than a grocery store, it’s a destination!” I
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  • 11 I Need You

    The hardest part of single parenting for me is that, when my kids are with me, I’m the sole object of their bottomless need. Children demand every ounce of self that you have to give – and then some – and at times I feel like I’m being crushed under the weight of their neediness. It’s a Tuesday night and I’m trying to make dinner. Nothing fancy – beef stir fry and rice – but preparation is complicated by the constant stream of interruptions. My oldest daughter is working on a sewing project on the couch in the living room
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  • 5 Youth Basketball. Wow.

    Youth sports never fail to deliver. Well, I guess that depends a bit on where you set your expectations. If you’re hoping to see athletic prowess, engaging play, and demonstrated facility with the rules of the game, then not so much. But if you’re there to revel in adorable mayhem mixed with sheer joy, you will not walk away disappointed. My first grade son is playing basketball this winter. It’s an absolute riot. He romps up and down the court with his too-large t-shirt tucked into athletic shorts and snazzy UK socks that come almost to his knees. He doesn’t
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February 2017

  • 26 Trees and Roots and Memories

    My yard boasts a lot of great trees. There’s a huge pin oak, a couple sugar maples, dogwood, hemlock, holly, and a towering wild cherry that dominates the entire backyard. The trees are part of the story of our neighborhood. According to folks who remember its early days, the contractors who built the first round of houses deliberately planted a pin oak on every property. Sixty plus years later, the abundance of mature trees is one of the many charming things about the area. A couple weeks back, I had a guy come take a look at a few trees
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  • 19 The Mythic Mom-Cold

    You’ve heard of the dreaded “man-cold,” right? That terrifying superbug that manages to law waste to self-proclaimed tough males at the first sign of a stuffy nose. A slight fever, a few sneezes and – WHAM – he’s laid out, unable to help around the house anymore, resigned to lying pitifully on the couch with a box of tissues to keep him company while he watches ESPN. Poor dear. But what about the mom-cold? Ever heard of that? Of course not. Ain’t no momma got time for nonsense like that! We have laundry to do and homework to patrol and
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  • 12 Nothing Says Love like Boogers and Camouflage

    I saw something odd at Kroger the other day. It was a “bouquet” of Hershey bars, tied together with a giant camouflage bow. To be clear, the idea of a chocolate bouquet is genius, but the bow concerned me. Since when is camo the color of romance? The truth is I’m a bit of a Valentine’s Day snob. I love the holiday – LOVE IT. A whole day dedicated to rampant cuteness and declarations of affection? Yes, please. I have been known to go all-out with sparkly red nail wraps, entire meals of heart-shaped foods, and light-up heart earrings. But
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  • 5 Potluck Mojo – It’s a Real Thing

    I believe in magic. Not the pixie dust and magic wands of my children’s beloved fairy tales, nor the wizards and dragons of Hogwarts and Middle Earth (though a piece of me secretly hopes that somewhere in the world a hippogriff exists and is waiting for me to be its friend). No, I’m talking about real magic. Potluck supper magic. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend you don’t. Potluck meals possess a sort of mystical mojo. They manage to channel the holy miracles involving loaves and fish – the first plate of brownies mysteriously transforming into a well-balanced
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January 2017

  • 29 My First Protest

    Last Saturday, I attended a local branch of the international Women’s March on Washington. It was my very first protest. Oh, I’ve signed petitions, shared Facebook posts, donated to worthy causes, and engaged in other time-honored forms of armchair activism before, but this was the first time I suited up and waded in, poster-board in hand. (A surprising fact, given that I’m a product of a liberal Midwestern college. How is it that I never found anything to protest? Not even the cereal flavors in the cafeteria? Apparently not.) I had initially planned to journey all the way to Washington
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  • 15 The Genetics of Hospitality

    Most days I see the world in shades of grey but there are some clear black and white issues that divide humankind. People who believe in matching family pajamas vs people who don’t. Or, people who like celery vs people who understand that it’s godawful. Let’s add another dichotomy to the list: people who think the idea of packing dozens of friends and relations into their house on a Sunday afternoon is exhilarating and people who break out into hives just reading those words. I fall into the former category. Parties don’t scare me because I have been in training
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  • 9 Ladybugs (AKA Venomous Demon-Bugs)

    My children have developed an irrational fear of ladybugs. Well, they’re not actually ladybugs. They’re those Asian beetles that look like ladybugs but are, in fact, venomous bug-like demons from the underworld sent to devour the flesh of unsuspecting children. Or something equally horrible, if you listen to my kids. Ordinarily, this odd aversion to a peaceable insect wouldn’t be a big deal – you do you, kiddos – but unfortunately our new house is also home to a huge number of the demon bugs. I diligently patrol my children’s bedrooms each evening, sucking up the invaders with the vacuum
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  • 1 My New Year’s Resolution: Be Brave

    A few weeks ago, I somewhat jokingly posted on Facebook that my New Year’s resolution was to be brave. The post was in reference to signing up for an art class in a medium I’ve never tackled before, but I’ve been thinking about the idea of bravery a lot ever since. I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because they seem like an exercise in failure. I know perfectly well that I’m not going to make it to 5am yoga classes or give up processed sugar. But what would it mean if I resolved to be brave next year –
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December 2016

  • 27 Beginnings and Endings

    In my mind, Christmas begins with a song. Not just any song. The sound of Christmas is the first four notes of Joy to the World as played on a new-age instrumental CD my parents had when I was a child. That was always the first CD we listened to each year and Joy to the World was the first track. The notes peal out of nowhere, gentle but crisp, and just like that – it’s Christmas. For years, that was the first song of Christmas. The herald of the season. The signal that the festivities could now commence in
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  • 18 Creaks, Bumps, and Memories in the Making

    The door between the kitchen and the garage in my new house slams, no matter how carefully you exit the building. It gives the impression that whoever just left the house did so in a fit of barely-controlled fury. But no, it’s just a faulty spring. And the toilet in the downstairs bathroom has personality. You have to count to two while holding the handle or it doesn’t flush completely. I suspect my children will be in college before they figure that out, despite repeated conversations on the topic. Settling into a new house is a learning process. Take the
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  • 11 Not-So-Great Expectations

    Last week, I wrote about the holy beauty of waiting. It was a noble piece – lofty, even – written from a place of confidence because my contractor had vowed that the drywall work would be completed by the end of the week, clearing the way for me to move in over the weekend. But when the renovations were not, in fact, completed by Friday afternoon, I went rogue. Gone was the striven-for patience and grace. Gone was the spirit-filled anticipation. I was just done. My emotional response quickly morphed from “woe is me” to “screw it, I’m moving in
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  • 4 Waiting for the Light

    Three-year-olds do not like to wait – a statement that will be profoundly un-shocking to anyone who has ever spent more than 30 seconds in the presence of one. They are the world’s most impatient creatures because they’re old enough to get excited about future plans, but not quite old enough to have a firm grasp on how time actually passes. I spent Thanksgiving at a friend’s house and her three-year-old daughter was single-minded in her mealtime focus. She was going to eat rolls. Lots of rolls. Only rolls. I arrived two hours before dinner and heard all about the
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November 2016

  • 27 A Plaid Love Affair

    When my mom was in high school, she made matching plaid jumpers for herself, her three younger sisters, and her mother. Her brother and father got plaid vests. That’s right: a coordinated plaid ensemble for a family of seven. And not just any plaid, either. They were a brilliant holiday plaid – that cheery red with green, yellow, and white crossbars. I tell you this story so that you understand – really understand, deep in your soul – what I mean when I say that my family loves plaid. We really, truly, deeply love Christmas plaid. There’s no cultural grounding
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  • 20 Surviving the First Big Slumber Party

    I survived my eldest daughter’s first big slumber party last weekend. I think I deserve a medal. Or a trophy. Or at least a really big box of bourbon balls. This event had been many weeks in the making. Her birthday is in mid-October and she started drawing up the plans in August. Everything was carefully strategized. Where would they sleep? What games would they play and in what order? On the weekend of her birthday, everything was ready. Ingredients for chocolate fondue purchased. New fuzzy nightgown washed and ready. Guest list finalized and all RSVPs accounted for. Then, tragedy
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September 2016

  • 25 Testing Limits – Just To Be Sure They’re There

    I heard somewhere that Great Pyrenees dogs cannot be allowed to roam free – they need fenced yards. The idea is that they’re guard dogs and if you don’t clearly delineate their perimeter, they’ll just keep looking for it, ranging further and further afield. Kids are a lot like that. They desperately need to know what their boundaries are, and if they’re not sure, they’ll go hunting for them. Kung Fu Panda, in particular, periodically needs to check the limits of his domain. A couple weeks ago, he mounted an expedition to discover the outer limits of my patience. It
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  • 18 Building a Family of Book Lovers

    The kids came home with a Scholastic book flyer this week and it was like Christmas in September. My first and second-grader spent 30 solid minutes huddled together, discussing the merits of various series and circling their favorite choices in color-coded markers. By the time they were done, they had determined that at least 75% of the recommended titles absolutely had to join our library. Honestly, their wish list was at least twenty books long. Anticipating resistance, they came to me ready to buy some titles with their own money – whatever it took to ensure that they could own
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  • 12 Treating Soul Fever

    My youngest child got sent home from school twice in one week because she threw up at inopportune moments (like all over the lunch table). Although there were assorted bugs making their way through the school, I’m not at all convinced she was actually sick. Once I got her home, she was suspiciously chipper, with nary an indication of fever, lethargy, or additional impulses to barf. In fact, on the second day that I retrieved her, she came bounding up to me and cheerily announced – “I’m sick! Let’s go color!” My go-to parenting book is Simplicity Parenting by Kim
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  • 4 One Last Trip to the Pool

    The kids and I spent last Saturday at the public pool. It seemed like the only real option on a 95-degree Saturday, but going to the pool is always something of a production. It’s not an activity I undertake lightly. You have to prepare for the pool. Swimsuits must be located, water bottles filled, goggles adjusted, and towels packed. The correct towels, mind you, because if the orange flame towel gets left behind or – by some horrible mischance – all of the towels have purple in them, the entire world will end. Then there’s the issue of sunscreen. My
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August 2016

  • 30 Cleaning Is Not My Thing

    I lost a vacuum cleaner once. Well, ‘misplaced’ is probably a better word since I did eventually locate it. My husband and I were having friends over for dinner and I thought it would be a good idea to tidy up a bit. Except I couldn’t find the vacuum cleaner. I searched high and low before being forced to admit that I didn’t use that particular appliance frequently enough to know where we kept it. Cleaning is not really my thing. Now that I’m a single parent, this presents something of a problem. I had a truly horrifying realization the
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  • 28 Tell Me All About It

    Miss Mouse rode around the block on her bicycle this weekend. All by herself. For the first time ever. I admit that I had mixed feelings about this feat of childhood independence. On the one hand, I was nervous the entire time she was out of sight. On the other, I realize her journey was wildly overdue. The fact that my nearly-eight-year-old had never traversed the neighborhood alone before is definitely a sign of the overprotective times. Rationally, I totally get that. On paper, I am a big advocate for allowing children to practice self-sufficiency. The idea of “Free Range Kids”
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  • 14 A Back-to-School Benediction

    I love the start of a new school year. The crisp bite to the air, the hint of fall in the leaves. Oh, wait. That was when I lived in the Midwest. Back-to-school season is much hotter and stickier here in the south. But despite the ridiculous humidity, a new school year always carries the promise of new adventures and new friends and new discoveries. Not to mention new school supplies. Oh, the school supplies. Is there anything on earth more beautiful than rows of crisp notebooks, pyramids of markers, and bins full of #2 pencils? And big fat pink
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  • 9 In Which We Do Yoga. Sort of.

    The kids and I have been struggling to establish our new routines as a family of four, rather than five. Bedtime has become a particular challenge. My kids seem to multiply at bedtime, their energy levels expanding rather than decreasing, until it feels like I’m chasing at least a dozen kids around the house, brandishing a fistful of toothbrushes and shrieking at them to stop jumping on the bed. Little Bird is the most – shall we say, invigorating? – at bedtime. Her response to the divorce has been to stop sleeping. My theory is that she’s afraid that I’ll leave
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July 2016

  • 31 I’m a Crybaby and That’s Okay

    I am the world’s biggest crybaby. A truly astonishing number of things can cause me to burst into torrential tears, including but not limited to: sad movies, beautiful hymns at church, particularly lovely commercials on TV, and well-written children’s books. It has long been understood in our house that there are certain books that I just can’t read aloud to my kids because I won’t make it through. Top of the list is a Christmas book called “The Most Precious Gift” about a servant boy in the wise men’s entourage who gives his dog to the infant king. That dog
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  • 24 Parenting as a Tribe

    The kids and I went to a pig roast at a friend’s farm a few weeks ago. It was a fabulous evening. There were a good forty people there – some I knew, some I didn’t – including what seemed like about a zillion kids. Any farm is a magical place for children, but this one even more than most. The biggest kids trooped down to the creek while the younger ones swarmed the swing set whose slide someone had cleverly set to empty into a large wading pool. There were dogs to pet and rocks to investigate and –
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  • 19 Thirty Years of Home

    As I write this, I’m sitting at the dining room table at my parents’ house in the small Midwest town I grew up in. My parents have lived in this house in this town for more than thirty years.  I have a lifetime of memories wrapped up in this place and I can get pretty nostalgic when the kids and I come ‘home’ for vacation each summer. Turning onto my parents’ street, I remember learning to ride my bike ‘no hands,’ coasting down the gentle slope of the road, arms stretched out to my sides. And the time in elementary
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  • 19 Lentils: A Love Story

    I consider myself to be a fairly adventurous eater, but I do draw certain lines.  I don’t do mushrooms, wouldn’t eat sushi if you paid me and, until recently, avoided lentils at all costs.  But that was because, for most of my life, my only frame of reference for lentils was brown lentils.  You know, the big, chunky ones that taste like dirt.  I continue to insist that those aren’t really food. But several months ago, I was (re)introduced to the brown lentil’s more delicate and user-friendly cousin — the split red lentil.  I had met split lentils during a
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  • 3 Running Away – And Coming Home

    My oldest daughter ran away from home for the first time last weekend. She packed a bag and everything. She was playing outside when a once-friendly game of bean bag toss with her little brother turned ugly and she declared that she had had ENOUGH of this family. She stomped off down the street, returning about thirty seconds later. I thought the storm had passed, but no, she had simply decided she needed provisions if she was striking out on her own. She slammed into the house and reappeared after five minutes with a well-stocked backpack over her shoulder. (I
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  • 2 Evenings at the Ballpark

    One of the things that I love about summer is spending the evening at the ballpark. I’ve never been a huge sports enthusiast, but I’ve always enjoyed baseball. I grew up outside Chicago and have fond memories of cheering on the Cubs. I also played softball for quite a few years myself, spending many happy evenings between the ages of seven and fourteen out on the field. I loved the camaraderie, the smell of dust, and the sound of a well-hit ball.  I even look back with a certain affection on the injuries I sustained, which included hospitalizations due to
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June 2016

  • 19 Falling in Love with Summer

    Every year at about this time, I fall in love. I find myself smiling for no particular reason and walking with a spring in my step. I can’t help myself. The early days of summer are some of the best of the year and the warm weather brings out all the things I love about small town life. Four and a half years ago, my husband and I made a very intentional decision to leave Pittsburgh and move to Burgin. We had been living in the city for eight years, and while I loved some things about urban life –
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  • 12 When Leaving the House Is the Biggest Accomplishment of the Day

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to leave the house. It’s not because of any latent agoraphobia or extreme introversion. I want to get out, believe me. It’s just that I am frequently so completely weighed down by kid-related gear that it is physically difficult to get out the door. When my kids were tiny, I fully expected to be accompanied at all times by a gargantuan diaper bag stuffed to the gills with necessities. But I somehow believed that, once the kids were out of diapers, we’d travel more lightly. Ha. Not at all! The gear never diminishes, it just
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  • 6 The First Shave of the Season

    Now that the weather is finally starting to act like spring and we’re safely past Memorial Day, it’s time to start donning warm weather attire. My children, naturally, have been wearing shorts daily since mid-February but now I’m finally ready to join them. This weekend, I dug my spring skirts and capris out of the closet and surveyed them with a mixture of pleasure and dread. Pleasure because I am rather fond of my summer wardrobe with its bright colors and patterns. Dread because before I can wear my fun clothes, I must survive the first shave of the season.
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May 2016

  • 22 On the Making of a Silk Worm

    One afternoon in mid-April, Miss Mouse bounded home with Big News. Her elementary class would be staging a production of James and the Giant Peach at the end of the year and she had been chosen to play the pivotal role of the Silk Worm. This was quite an honor, carrying with it five whole speaking lines, which she believed contained the heart of the storyline. Frankly, I was a bit surprised by her enthusiasm for this undertaking. Although Miss Mouse has a deep passion for watching live theater, I hadn’t realized she was interested in performing. My firstborn is fairly shy
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  • 15 So Much Drama, So Little Time

    My oldest daughter is a theater buff. Ever since she was little, she’s had an affinity for live performances. When she was four, we took her to a production of the Nutcracker Ballet. I had braced myself for wiggles and boredom, possibly even a hasty and embarrassed exit with a shrieking child tucked under my arm. Boy was I wrong. She sat riveted, absolutely entranced for the entire production. When the lights came up and the dancers came forward to take their bows, she burst into tears for reasons she couldn’t put words to. The next spring, the older elementary
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  • 10 On the Origins of Stinky Vans

    My minivan smells like spoiled milk and I’m not sure why. I spent thirty minutes the other night, systematically removing all of the accumulated debris that accompanies the transport of small children, but I couldn’t find the culprit. There was plenty of other alarming stuff lurking in the recesses of our vehicle – fruit snack wrappers, homework assignments, used tissues, socks, action figures, and sticky crayons that had melted into the cup holders, to name but a few – but nothing jumped out as the smoking (or in this case, stinking) gun. Rationally, I know that the answer is simple.
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  • 1 Laughing in the Rain

    Last week, it rained on my daughter’s soccer game. No, wait. That’s not quite right. That phrase – “rained on” – doesn’t begin to do justice to what happened that night. One minute, the sky was moody and ominous and the next minute it was pouring down drops the size of water balloons while a gale force wind blew in out of nowhere. When the first drops hit, I waited expectantly for the sound of a whistle and shouts of – “Game’s cancelled, run for it!” I waited in vain. There was no whistle, beyond the increasingly loud whistling of
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April 2016

  • 24 Scrabble, Soccer, and Victory Dances

    My husband won’t play Scrabble with me. Allegedly, I’m too competitive. My husband is not competitive at all and when we were first married, he made the mistake of losing to me on purpose a few times, thinking that might make me happy. He was so very wrong. I don’t just want to win, I want to conquer. It’s no fun if you haven’t earned your victory through intellectual mortal combat. Now, he just doesn’t play with me at all. My urge to compete is sometimes unrelated to whether I’m actually interested in the outcome. I compete just to compete.
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  • 17 Confessions of a Black-Thumbed Veggie Killer

    If you’d peeked into my backyard at 10pm a few nights ago (not that I’m suggesting you SHOULD do that –  that would be creepy), you’d have seen my husband shining a flashlight on our pyramid strawberry planter while I struggled to cover it with pink polka dot bed sheets in gale force wind. The dog played a supporting role by trying to fetch the sticks I was using to weigh down the sheets. I had failed to notice the freeze warning until right before bed and had to charge out into the dark and the cold and the wind
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  • 10 Dining Out is Cause for Celebration

    Stop the presses and hold the phones. My entire family went out to dinner. Together. To a restaurant. An actual restaurant. Okay, it was Cracker Barrel, so we’re not talking haute cuisine here, but there were menus and they brought the food to our table and there were no slides or ball pits, which makes it a significant step up from where we usually eat out. I’ve always admired families with young children that successfully eat at grownup restaurants. I see them every now and again. A two-year-old and a five-year-old, quietly sitting with cloth napkins in their lap while
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  • 3 The Transformative Power of Orange Leggings

    It was a pair of bright orange leggings that helped me make peace with my thighs. I guess that’s a bit of an overstatement. The leggings themselves are black, but they are adorned with large flowers of a truly outrageous hue, strongly reminiscent of a solar flare. Let’s just say that “subtle” and “understated” are not words that leap immediately to mind when describing these leggings. Speaking of adjectives, you could use a lot of different words to describe my general physique, but “dainty” probably wouldn’t be one of them. I’m five foot nine in stocking feet. And the women
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March 2016

  • 27 My Sugar Cookies Are Better than Yours

    I don’t mean to brag, but I make the best frosted sugar cookies in the whole world. They’re firm without being too crunchy, embellished with a thin layer of frosting. They’re so sweet that you risk falling into an instant diabetic coma if you eat more than two, but it’s a risk well worth taking. Now, you may be thinking that Easter Sunday is an odd time to be discussing sugar cookies. Wrong holiday, right?  Cookie cutouts are a Christmas treat! Oh no, my friends. You are mistaken. A perfectly iced sugar cookie is the ideal dessert for any occasion.
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  • 20 The Rules of Birth Order

    My baby turned three yesterday. I wonder how old she will be before I stop referring to Birdie as “the baby.” I’m guessing somewhere in her mid-fifties. Possibly longer. The older my children get, the more I’m starting to understand all the jokes about birth order. I know that birth order is not the end-all, be-all of child personality development, but stereotypes exist for a reason, people! My favorite incarnation of the birth order memes was one I saw recently on Facebook that read: I’m the oldest, I make the rules. I’m the middle child, I’m the reason there are rules.
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  • 13 Beware of Glow-in-the-Dark Sharks

    I read somewhere that sharks must swim constantly, even when they’re asleep. If they stop swimming, they die. I can totally relate. When you’re a parent, it often feels like you’re constantly in motion and that if you stop – even for a moment – you’ll become overwhelmed and drown. While I’m thrashing about, trying to avoid drowning, I frequently hear the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay rattling around my head: “My candle burns at both ends / It will not last the night / But ah my foes, and oh my friends / it gives a pretty light.”
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  • 6 Breakfast: Not for the Faint of Heart

    Somehow, despite my best intentions, I’ve become a short order cook. Not at dinnertime, mind you. In the evenings, I’m perfectly fine holding the line on dinner and forcing everyone in my family to eat quinoa or squash fritters with feta. It’s breakfast that has gotten away from me. At first glance, it doesn’t seem too complicated. On school days, my kids are allowed to choose toast or cold cereal for breakfast. We save more involved morning fare like pancakes and oatmeal for the weekends. Easy peasy, right?  But wait. It’s not that simple. In our house, “toast” actually means
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February 2016

  • 29 Mermaid Dreams

    Miss Mouse is diligently saving her weekly allowance to buy a $70 mermaid costume. She stumbled across it in a high-end Halloween catalog that somehow infiltrated our mailbox this fall and she was instantly smitten. The costume is a vibrant pink, with a shimmering tail, a star-shaped, ribbon-bedecked wand, and a fluffy pink feather boa. I think it’s completely ridiculous. And it’s not just the price tag that has me shaking my head ($70 for a mermaid costume?!?), it’s the fact that she even wants it. Miss Mouse has a closet full of dress up clothes she doesn’t wear. If you were
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  • 23 Fever Confessions

    I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I like it when my kids get sick. Don’t get me wrong: I feel terrible for them when they’re under the weather. And a stomach bug is nobody’s friend, particularly when you are married to a sympathetic puker. (By which I mean that I’m pretty much on my own when my kids throw up, lest he join them.) But one of those 24-hour fevers that shows up out of nowhere and moves on a day later can be pretty fabulous. Kids with fevers just want to be snuggled. They stop rampaging through the
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  • 7 Children and the Theory of Relativity

    I arrived home from work the other day to find my son and oldest daughter huddled together at the kitchen table. They had a piece of paper between them and were writing names on it, discussing each addition animatedly. It turned out that they were crafting an invitation list for my son’s birthday party. My son was born in September. I gently pointed out to him that birthday preparations might be a trifle premature at this time, but he was undeterred. Plans needed to be made. There wasn’t a moment to lose!  They worked for another fifteen minutes or so,
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January 2016

  • 31 Work-Life Balance in a Snow Storm

    I spent the first two years after our move to Kentucky telecommuting for a nonprofit organization back in Pittsburgh. I worked from my dining room table and I can remember friends remarking how fortunate I was to be able to work but also be home with my kids. Their optimism was touching but misplaced. Clearly they had mistaken me for some sort of uber-mommy, blessed by the gods of work-life balance with the superhuman ability to effortlessly draft press releases and fundraising appeals while simultaneously playing Uno and making lasagna. The truth, of course, was that my charming children were
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  • 23 It’s More Fun the 100th Time

    I’m starting to believe that the biggest difference between adults and children is not size, vocabulary, or –as Miss Mouse recently suggested – the presence of a FitBit, but rather their capacity to take immense pleasure in repeated activities. We bought the kids some goofy toy “poppers” for Christmas. They’re rubber critters with big bellies into whose mouths you can load foam balls, then squeeze them to launch the balls. They provide an opportunity for my kids to shoot at each other without breaking my firm no toy guns rule. The intention was for the kids to play amongst themselves, but
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  • 17 Productivity and Playtime

    Last weekend, I found myself weeding my garden. I realize it was probably an exercise in futility to be beautifying my vegetable beds in the middle of January, but it was one of those oddly warm days just before the temperature plunged and my whole family was romping around in the backyard. The kids were chasing the dog and each other and were somehow still co-existing peacefully. I knew that the best way to keep the moment going was to disappear into the background. Hence the weeding. I’ve learned that maternal productivity is the best way to foster independent play
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  • 10 No You Can’t Wear Shorts in January

    My children don’t believe in cold weather. They show remarkable resilience to chilly temperatures and look at me like I’m crazy when I try to convince them that it’s winter. I blame the former on genetics and the latter on El Nino. Last weekend, I grudgingly took down my outside Christmas lights, cursing quietly while under attack from an aggressive holly bush and regretting my decision not to wear a hat and gloves. My fingers were numb, my nose was running, and I had begun to lose feeling in my ears. Meanwhile, Kung Fu Panda ran through the yard in a
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  • 3 Looking forward to 2016 with Joy

    I used to make New Year’s resolutions. As a child, I can remember writing them down for class assignments – promises to study hard for spelling tests and to eat vegetables more willingly. Then as an adult, I would come up with a few grandiose ideas for self-improvement each year. I would drink eight glasses of water a day, exercise five times a week, floss diligently…and eat vegetables more willingly. Within a few weeks, of course, the resolutions would fall by the wayside. The trendy water bottle, optimistically purchased to facilitate hydration, would languish in the cupboard. Exercising five times
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December 2015

  • 27 Seasons of Motherhood

    The best piece of parenting advice I ever received wasn’t really even advice. It was affirmation. It was the summer of 2012. We had just moved to Kentucky from Pittsburgh and I was hot, pregnant, and miserable. Morning sickness was kicking my butt and most days I couldn’t muster the energy or strength of stomach to cook. We were eating out a lot and I was plagued with mommy guilt over it. When my first daughter was small, I prided myself on being a “crunchy” mom. I fed her homemade organic baby food, shopping at the farmers market and lovingly
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  • 23 All I Want for Christmas is a Two-Year-Old

    My three children are stair-stepped – ages seven, five, and not-quite-three. This distribution has recently caused several well-meaning but delusional acquaintances to suggest that it might be “time for the next one.” By the time I’ve stopped laughing, these gentle souls have edged carefully away from the crazy lady cackling in the street, so I don’t always have the chance to explain myself. There are an abundance of practical reasons that three is the magic number for our family, including but not limited to: the astronomical cost of childcare, the unpleasant realization that my morning sickness seems to progressively worse
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  • 21 The Key to Happy Holidays? Selective Amnesia.

    Recently, I wrote about some of the activities and traditions that make the holidays merry and bright for my family, but I forgot one important piece of advice: choose your memories carefully. The other night, I was looking at pictures I took a few weeks ago during an afternoon of raking leaves with the kids. They were luminous, radiant pictures. Dozens of them. I got a little carried away by the beauty of the afternoon light and the way the leaves blurred in the background behind the sharp images of the kids’ exuberant jumps. The pictures reflect my memories of
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  • 8 Building Christmas Traditions One Plaid Reindeer at a Time

    I believe you can divide the world into two types of people: those who think matching Christmas pajamas are a fabulous idea and those who involuntarily gag at the very thought. I belong to the former camp. Familial jammies (this year they’re red plaid with reindeer, if you’re interested) are just one of the ways that I get into the spirit of the holidays. I grew up in a big extended family that overflowed with beloved seasonal traditions. We put on holiday plays, wrote and recited poems at Christmas dinner, and exchanged handmade ornaments. No Christmas Eve was complete without
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November 2015

  • 29 Roller Skates and Animal Crackers

    When I was a child, I used to roller skate in the halls of my dad’s office. He was a professor at a university and his building was usually empty on weekends, making it possible for me to sail up and down the linoleum hallways without much danger of flattening an unsuspecting graduate student. There was something magical about the experience. It felt simultaneously illicit (surely someone somewhere would frown at the notion of such a rambunctious activity being conducted in the hallowed halls) and yet utterly acceptable (this was my dad’s turf, after all, and I had his blessing). I
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  • 17 Navigating the Turkey Traditions of Married Life

    When you get married, there’s a lot of merging to be done. You’re combining two lives and the list of “things which must now co-exist” is lengthy. Everything from pets to shower curtains to CD collections has to find its proper place in the new world order. Some decisions are easy. Others require painful compromise. (Believe me when I tell you I never anticipated having deer antlers hanging in my bedroom). But the difficulty of combining the physical stuff is nothing compared to the relational acrobatics required to combine family traditions. A lot of couples struggle to establish a shared
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  • 11 Wardrobe Economics

    Today, let’s delve into a discussion of abundance and scarcity as it relates to wardrobe economics. We’ll be pondering this age-old question: how is it possible that my children have approximately fifty-seven thousand articles of clothing (each) and yet are perpetually convinced they have nothing to wear? Last week, I was making breakfast when I heard a tremendous wail coming from the girls’ bedroom.  Convinced that some child was in mortal peril, I sprinted to investigate, only to discover Miss Mouse sprawled on the floor, bemoaning the fact that she had absolutely no pants to wear to school. None. She would
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  • 8 Once Upon a Time When Baths Were Fun

    I wasn’t prepared to have children. There’s probably a deeply existential conversation to be had about whether it’s even possible to be truly “prepared” for the emotional and physical impact of parenthood, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean I wasn’t prepared for children. As in, plural. More than one child. I’m an only child. My childhood was pretty serene. My mother told me once that she and my dad never really baby-proofed their (gorgeous, Victorian) home because they never left me unsupervised when I was small. That snippet of conversation comes drifting back to me frequently in
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October 2015

  • 25 Silence Is Dangerous

    It’s been said that silence is golden, but for parents, the reality is much more complicated. Finding yourself with an unexpectedly tranquil home does bring with it a moment of relaxed serenity, but that feeling is fleeting, followed immediately by a wave of anxiety. Why is the house so quiet? Where are the children? What sort of unmitigated chaos is about to be unleashed? This love/hate relationship with silence begins early in the parenting journey. I still have crystal clear memories of the terror I felt the first time our first child slept through the night. I awoke blearily and
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  • 18 Confessions of a Tooth Fairy Failure

    Parenting confession time: I do not excel in the “rituals of tooth loss” department. That’s right – I’m a lousy tooth fairy. Let’s start with the fact that teeth are kind of gross when they’re no longer in your mouth. I understand that it’s an exciting rite of passage for my six-year-old, but her wiggly teeth skeeve me out. I have a recurring nightmare where my teeth suddenly and inexplicably crumble and fall out, so I have a hard time summoning the proper parental enthusiasm for loose teeth. And then there’s the whole tooth fairy thing. My husband and I
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  • 11 The Garden Gnome Incident

    Is a boy’s instinct to destroy lawn décor a result of nature or nurture? Last week, my five-year-old son bludgeoned a lawn gnome with a child-sized garden rake. At least, I think it was our Red Sox lawn gnome. The remaining pieces were too tiny for positive identification, but the gnome is now missing, so the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong. When I gave birth to my first child – a girl – seven years ago, I was convinced that gender stereotypes were entirely a product of (poor) parenting. Girls were only inclined to prefer baby dolls over dinosaurs and makeup
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  • 5 Never Take Your Toddler Grocery Shopping

    I suffer from a peculiar form of parenting amnesia wherein I forget from week to week that it’s a terrible idea to take my youngest child grocery shopping with me. Sunday afternoon rolls around and I find myself once again airily offering to take the two-year-old with me on my grocery run, leaving the “big kids” home with dad. It’s only when we get to the store that I remember the folly of this decision. Our latest trip went something like this. Upon arrival, she refused to hold my hand in the parking lot, folding her hands tightly into her
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September 2015

  • 29 In Defense of a Much-Maligned Fall Favorite

    This post originally appeared as a column in our SmallTownUSA newspaper on September 27th… This is meant to be a lighthearted column, but I’m afraid I must diverge from the norm today. I’ve been seeing some really unkind memes floating around online in recent days and I feel I simply must take a stand against this sort of activity. Why is everybody hating on pumpkin spice this year? Now, I’m a good sport. I can take some gentle banter about the sudden profusion of pumpkin spice offerings when the calendar turns to September. There were some good Cinderella-inspired motifs going
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  • 21 Lessons from the Consignment Sale

    This week’s column, printed in our local SmallTownUSA newspaper… I use consignment sales to teach my first grader important lessons about money. Okay, fine. I use consignment sales to live vicariously through my children in a desperate attempt to dampen my burning desire to buy myself an entirely new wardrobe each season. But there are still great lessons to be had. Here are three things Miss Mouse (hopefully) learned at a recent sale. Lesson #1 – Budgeting. Learning to manage money is a critically important skill for all kids to learn. Before we headed to the wondrous land of two dollar
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  • 13 Nothing says love like a roller coaster

    At the request of my six-year-old daughter, my dad rode the sea serpent roller coaster at a kiddie amusement park five times. In a row. To fully appreciate his actions, you need a little context: my dad is seventy years old. Don’t get me wrong – he’s in great health, but the man is no spring chicken. Yet there he was on a Wednesday afternoon this summer, rattling around the roller coaster track, spiraling through the tilt-a-whirl, and soaring to and fro on one of those horrible puke-inducing “Viking ship” rides. This summer, my family celebrated my grandfather’s 95th birthday.
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  • 7 A zebra of any gender is stylish: Part 2

    Last week, I wrote a bit about my four-year-old son’s taste in clothing and his tendencies toward gender bending in the name of fashion. His choice in apparel lately has included zebra leggings, a dance leotard with skirt, and a racerback dress. When we left our hero last week, he had worn his zebra leggings to school for the first time. Perhaps unsurprisingly – but definitely disappointingly – he came home with the news that a boy in his class had called him a girl because he wore leggings. I heroically fought back the impulse to track down the child in
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  • 3 An Easier Way

    Do you ever get the feeling that we parents sometimes make life a lot harder for ourselves than it needs to be? Recent case in point. About a month ago, our dentist gently suggested that perhaps it was time for Birdie to give up her beloved binkie. I was terrified. Of all our children, our youngest was by far the most attached to her pacifier. She’d been down to “nights only” for over a year, but getting her binkie at bedtime was clearly the highlight of her day. Thus I spent the day after the appointment reading up on possible
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August 2015

  • 30 A zebra of any gender is stylish – Part 1

    This spring, my son developed strong opinions about what he wears. 95% of his (extensive) wardrobe was deemed unacceptable. On top, he would deign to wear: a dual layer shirt of a monster wearing a santa hat, a white shirt with sparkly red owls, a blue t-shirt featuring parachutes – but ONLY if it was tucked into his pants – and plain white undershirts two sizes two small for him. Approved pants included stained khakis, a pair of green basketball shorts, and his sister’s outgrown leggings. Preferably in zebra stripe. And then there’s the knit tank dress (zebra print) that he wore over
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  • 23 A Green Bean Standoff

    Last weekend, I found myself locked in an epic battle of wills with my two-year-old. At issue was a green bean. And not even a whole green bean. The entire showdown revolved around a small bean fragment, probably less than a half inch long. I wanted Little Bird to eat it. She had other plans. At stake was a piece of chocolate cake, purchased in celebration of my husband’s birthday. I had thrown down the gauntlet — no bean, no cake – and a confrontation ensued. The truth is, I almost never fight with my kids about food. I decided early
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  • 5 Nine Years

    Dear Josh, Nine years of marriage. That doesn’t seem possible (at all), until I look across the room and see our firstborn joyfully sorting through her school supplies in preparation for the first day of first grade. Incontrovertible proof that time is passing! As I write this, I feel a sense of stillness and calm – which sounds completely ridiculous when I say it out loud because our lives are never EVER calm. Our days are a never-ending tornado of activities set to the jarring tune of incessant sibling bickering and our home has disappeared under a tsunami of cast-off
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April 2015

  • 9 How I wound up with a child called Bubba

    We call my son Bubba. Or, more frequently, Bubby. I can hardly even bring myself to write those words. Seriously? Bubba? What’s happened to you, Kate? For all its charm, clearly small town life is corrupting your brain. Hear me out. I always hated that particular nickname for little boys. I thought it sounded ridiculous and unspeakably redneck. But that was before my small man had a baby sister who tried valiantly to say “brother” but managed only “buh-buh.” At which point that ridiculously awful nickname became forever adorable.

  • 4 In which Birdie Turns Two

    Because I’m conscious of the fact that language is important, I am careful to avoid talk that might engender negative body image in my children. But we’re all friends here and Birdie can’t read, so I’m just going to go ahead and say it. That girl is a heifer. My third-born celebrated her second birthday a couple weeks ago and weighed in at 30 pounds, 35.5 inches at her checkup. That puts her squarely in the 80-85% percentile for height and weight and – if the childhood age trajectories prove correct – will mean she’ll be the tallest of the
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February 2015

  • 12 Valenslimes

    I struggle a bit with Valentine’s Day every year.  I love the holiday – LOVE IT – but can get a bit angsty about it too.  I grouse about the amount of candy that comes home from school and can invest way too much time and energy into making valentines. And I have issues with store-bought valentines for kids. They just bug me (mostly because they’re inevitably plastered with licensed characters and overflowing with gender stereotypes) and I’m trying to hang onto homemade as long as I can. This year, Miss Mouse had no problem. She threw herself into her
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January 2015

  • 16 Don’t read things that make you feel like crap

    I have one other New Year’s resolution. It’s not new for 2015. It’s more of a “continuing resolution” that I started a while back. It goes something like this: avoid positive parenting blogs like the plague. I don’t mean positive as in “upbeat and happy.” I mean positive as in that school of child-rearing that focuses exclusively on positive elements, affirming that children are worthy of our respect and that one of our biggest tasks as parents is to strive to communicate effectively with our kids. Avoiding blogs on this topic might sound totally weird coming from a mommy blogger
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  • 13 When do I tell her that her clothes don’t match?

    Miss Mouse has what could generously be referred to as a flamboyant sense of style. She’s dressed herself for years and she wears what she likes. Often, “what she likes” is an odd assortment of patterns, colors and styles that nature never intended to coexist on one six-year-old body. A mild example. Orange and blue striped dress. Pink star-burst leggings. Day-glo orange and green sparkle socks. I don’t tell her when her clothes don’t match. Why does it matter what I think of her outfit? Or what anybody else thinks, for that matter? I want her to have confidence in
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  • 3 New Year’s Resolutions

    I’ve never really been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. They’re often ridiculously over-ambitious – things like “I’m going to go to the gym six days a week, eat three pounds a kale a day and give up all refined sugar.” By January 3rd, you realize you’re never going to keep up with your own aspirations and you start the year off disappointed in yourself. Who wants to do that? I’d rather start the year off by eating all the leftover Christmas cookies guilt-free, thanks. However I must admit that there’s something about January that calls me to look ahead. A new
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December 2014

  • 23 Prelude to the Holidays in 5 Pictures

    Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, but I feel like the magic of the holidays has been swirling in the air for weeks. So has the flu. But never mind that, let’s focus on the joy of the season, shall we?  Five pictures, in no particular order, that capture how we’re feeling these days. #1 – Loving the Legos – Josh and the kids bought a Lego set the other day and  had a blast putting it together. It was fun to watch them enjoying each other’s company. #2 – Birdie in a cape. Right now she and Buggie spend much of
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  • 6 Wandering Wise Men

    We decided a couple years ago that we weren’t going to “do” Santa Claus with our kids. There were lots of reasons that I’ve blogged about before and, even though the collective hysteria of small children sometimes overrides the conversations we have about how Santa is just a game, I’m pretty comfortable with how our family is approaching the man in red. Last year, I watched my friends post hysterical Elf on a Shelf pictures and I wondered if there was a way for us to participate in that sort of creative fun without delving into the (sometimes creepy) world
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November 2014

  • 29 Subtraction: Montessori Style

    One of the (many) things I love about our kids’ Montessori school is that they allow a great deal of freedom while also making sure the kids are learning what they need to. Case in point: last year, Miss Mouse was all about reading. All About Reading. She had mastered the basics in the spring of 2013 and went into Year 2 of the three-year Montessori cycle hungry to read everything she could get her hands on. She wasn’t particularly interested in math, and her teachers were fine with that. They allowed her to pursue her passion for books and
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  • 26 A post inspired by poetry

    I don’t blog very much anymore. But I do spend a lot of time with this poem rattling around in my head. My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –  It gives a lovely light! ~Edna St. Vincent Millay I’ve written before about seasons in life. At the time, I was adjusting to working part-time from home and to being pregnant with our third child. Now, I’m a mother of three and I’m back to working in an office, though still at slightly less than full-time. And I’ll be
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October 2014

  • 27 While I was away…

    I was gone for two weeks on a trip to Europe.  While I was gone, this happened: Are you seeing this?  Seriously!?! I swear to god when I left, she was a baby.  And now she’s a teenager. Okay, okay.  When I left, she was five and now she’s six.  Same difference. The fact remains that my eldest child is changing before my eyes. Miss Mouse will always be precious to me in that way that firstborns are.  It was she who made me a mother.  Holding her in my arms in the moments after she was born, my whole world
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  • 9 The Secret to Traveling without the Kids

    I’m packing my bags and leaving the country. But don’t worry.  It’s not because the baby follows me through the house, screaming to be held every evening from the moment we walk in the door until bath time.  Nor is it because Miss Mouse and Buggie cannot sit next to each other in the back seat of the van for Five Frickin’ Minutes without devolving into verbal and physical confrontation (who knew you could punch your brother while fully restrained in a car seat??). Though honestly – I’d feel somewhat justified if those were the reasons I’m taking a vacation.  Don’t
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September 2014

  • 21 3.1 Miles Later

    I ran my first 5K race today.  My time was 44 minutes, 10 seconds and I ran the whole way. Frankly, I was shocked. I diligently followed my Couch-to-5K running program, hitting the pavement three times a week for the past two months and slowing working myself up to being able to run for thirty minutes without stopping.  I hit that milestone earlier this week. Unfortunately, at about the six week mark, I had a horrifying realization.  The Couch-to-5K creators are Big Fat Liars. The premise of the program is that running thirty minutes equals running five kilometers (just over
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  • 15 Operation Manly Tutu

    If you’ve ever wondered what pure joy looks like, I can tell you.  It’s an almost-four-year-old wearing his favorite tutu on his way to his first tap dance class. Last Halloween, Buggie insisted on wearing sparkly fairy wings with his Buzz Lightyear costume.  The innocent joy of it brought tears to my eyes because I feared it couldn’t last. Surely any minute, his peers would squash his love of glitter. But a year later, he’s still my sweet Buggie, just a bit bigger now.  After attending Miss Mouse’s dance recital in the spring, Buggie announced his intentions to also dance.
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  • 11 These Are Not Your Flowers, Mom

    I took Miss Mouse to a painting workshop recently.  She loved it, but it was really hard on me. The urge to “help” her was excruciating and nearly impossible to contain. The workshop was designed for kids twelve and under, and the instructor guided them through a shared painting, step by step.  They were all creating a field of whimsical, stylized flowers on a green background. Miss Mouse had a fantastic time and gave herself over utterly to the project.  She was focused and intent. She was also not-quite-six and her hand-eye coordination is still developing.  There were paint slops
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  • 3 The Dangers of Silence

    All the kids love our new house.  Miss Mouse adores her fairy garden bedroom.  Buggie gallops joyously through the backyard.  And Little Bird is just thrilled to be part of the action. In the old, two-story house, the big kids often played upstairs in their rooms.  Unfortunately, Little Bird couldn’t go with because I didn’t trust her to navigate the steep wooden stairs safely on her own.  So we’d baby gate the bottom of the stairs and play with her in the living room. Now that we’re all on one level, she’s free to roam and waddles happily around after
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August 2014

  • 26 Phase Four: Here to Stay

    This week, I made my first-ever mortgage payment.  One down, 359 to go. About eighteen months ago, I blogged about putting down roots in the community and how we were starting to really dig in.  Today, I’m sitting in the living room of the home we bought and it feels like we’re really here to stay. For the first two years of our adventure in SmallTownUSA, we lived in a church-owned manse.  It’s a lovely, cozy little place that exuded warmth and comfort.  Unfortunately, “cozy” and “quaint” started to feel more like “tiny” and “cramped” after Little Bird joined the
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  • 5 Eight Years

    Dear Josh, We’ve been married for eight years and yet right now the world feels new.  I’ve got a new job and we’ve got a new house.  Granted, we don’t live in it yet.  The carpet smells suspiciously like dog pee, the walls are sea-foam green, and the most romantic thing we’ll do today is dig out poke weed from the front beds together. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s been quite a year.  The haze of sleep deprivation has slowly receded and all of a sudden, we’re parenting a sprightly toddler, a loving whirlwind of a preschooler, and a
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  • 2 Lumbering to Better Health

    I started a Couch-to-5K running plan two weeks ago.  For those not familiar with the phenomenon, there are a number of similar programs out there that introduce incremental running so slowly that, in theory, anyone can do it. I think I’ m an excellent test case for this program because I Do Not Run.  Never have.  I have always hated running and been baffled by those who do it voluntarily.  This week, I ran for three minutes straight and I realized that the last time I ran that long was in high school.  And even then it was only once.
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July 2014

  • 27 Pizza, Movie, and Glue on the Wall

    I believe that more is merrier.  It’s my motto that applies to many spheres of life.  Including play dates for my children. Thus, last night we invited a small army over for pizza and a movie (which is our family’s Saturday night ritual).  Or, at least it felt like a small army.  In reality, it was four extra children bringing the total in the house to seven. And it was awesome! And also crazy. The girls ran through the house shrieking like only young girls can, slamming the door to Miss Mouse’s bedroom, and shouting – “GET OUT BOYS!” while
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  • 19 Two Words That Broke My Heart

    A few days ago, Buggie said “polar bear” and it nearly broke my heart. It’s not that I have any particular attachment to, fondness for, or (on the flip side) recurring nightmares involving fuzzy white bears. No, it’s because Buggie has always adorably mispronounced their name.  For as long as he’s been able to talk, Buggie has referred to his beloved stuffed polar bear as “pola-dare.” It was completely endearing and utterly winsome.  It was also one of the last vestiges of his babyhood.  And now it’s gone, along with pretty much everything baby-ish about my son. He’s three years
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  • 14 Always Be Ready for Art

    When you’re a parent, you must always be prepared for art projects.  They happen often and suddenly.  For young kids, the entire world is magical and beautiful and they look for opportunities to add their own magic and beauty. We went hiking this weekend – the first time Birdie spent any portion of a hike on two legs! – and tromped through a dry stream bed.  There were a bunch of smooth flat rocks and Josh remarked that they would be great for a prayer rock project at next summer’s Vacation Bible School. The kids’ ears perked up immediately. What’s that?
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  • 8 Dates with My Big Kids

    There’s never quite enough of me to go around. I’m discovering that one of the hardest things about having three young kids (other than bath time) is juggling their emotional neediness.  They all want all of my attention all of the time. All Of The Time. Buggie wants to show off his ability to leap off the couch and go directly into a somersault, while Barnacle Baby still thinks that she’s being abused if I’m not holding her.  Yesterday, she actually threw a temper tantrum when Buggie sat in my lap for a story – she charged over, screaming, and
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June 2014

  • 27 In which I grow veggies that actually thrive

    I do not have a good track record with plants.  In my care, they die. In fact, several years ago, my best friend took all of my houseplants into protective custody at her home because they were all on the brink of extinction.  I’m allowed brief supervised visits, but that’s it and I admit the arrangement is in their best interest. But, having moved to SmallTownUSA, I vowed to change all that.  Last year, we participated in our first CSA and I proudly planted sugar snap peas, lettuce, bell peppers, and blueberries. My snap peas sprouted…and then died.  Ditto for
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  • 21 More Adults…Less Safe

    Most of the time, my blog posts are pretty light-hearted, but something kind of scary happened today so I’m posting this as a Public Service Announcement for my fellow parents. Be careful in group settings when you’re with your kids.  I am increasingly convinced that the more adults are present in any particular situation, the less safe it is for young kids. It seems like it should be the opposite.  More grown-ups = more eyes to watch kids, right? Wrong. The truth is that when we’re in groups, we grown-ups tend to socialize.  We chat with each other and our
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  • 16 Rose-Colored Vacation

    The kids and I are coming off a week-long vacation at my parents’ house.  It was phenomenal.  And exhausting.  There were a lot of awesome memories.  And a lot of screaming sibling fights.  I’m choosing to reflect on the fabulous parts of the week, and I consider that my prerogative.  Thus, eight things I loved about this week. 1) This selfie Miss Mouse took. 2) Spending Father’s Day with my amazing dad.  The older I get, the more of him I see in myself…and the cooler I find those moments of realization. 3) Biking everywhere!  My parents live right on the
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  • 15 Broken Glass

    This week, Buggie broke his first window. When I initially wrote this post, I simply wrote “a” window in that first sentence.  But I suspect that it will not be the last time my pint-sized hurricane will shatter glass so I revised it. The kids and I spent the week at my parents’ house for our annual summer kid-fest.  I drive up with them and we spend a week doing non-stop fun things, eating donuts and ice cream, and frolicking in the sun.  It’s a blast.  And it’s exhausting.  And the kids are pretty wound up so sometimes things break. Like
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  • 9 The Color of Summer

    I have a confession to make. I think tan is beautiful. I know, I know.  Skin cancer, UV rays, wrinkles, etc.  I know. But as we roll into summer, I’m watching my beautiful children’s skin become kissed by the sun and take on that warm glow that says they’re spending their days outside and I Love It. We slather up with sunscreen because I passed my talent for sunburn on to my kids, and I’m not about to encourage them to lounge pool-side in order to darken their hue, but the natural tan of summer? That, I love. For my
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May 2014

  • 30 Thanks for the Memories

    This afternoon, I received an unexpected and beautiful gift: memories from a seventy-year-old woman. We’re in the process of buying a house here in SmallTownUSA (which is awesome and terrifying and confusing and exhilarating and something I’ll blog more about later!).  This afternoon was the home inspection and I met the owner, Tulip.* Tulip and her husband built the home nearly forty years ago.  They lived there together for more than thirty until, some time after his death, it became too much for her to take care of.  She had trouble selling the home and rented it out four years
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  • 27 Becoming a Ballerina

    Miss Mouse participated in her first dance recital this weekend.  Before the big event, she was manic with excitement.  On stage, she was sassy and expressive.  Afterwards, she glowed – tired but immensely satisfied. I am so proud of her that I struggle to find adequate words to capture the depth of the emotion. Miss Mouse’s dancing journey this year was long and often arduous.  Although she had begged to take dance lessons, she had a lot of trouble settling in to the class.  Miss Mouse tends to be really shy in new situations – particularly in structured activities led by an
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  • 25 Dragons, Ducklings, and Dog Piles

    Summer in Kentucky is hot and sticky and so humid it’s like breathing through wet wool. Spring in Kentucky, on the other hand, is heaven on earth.  With apologies for not posting more, here are a few of the reasons I’ve been too busy (and too tired!) to sit down at my computer. Ducklings — Reason #783 why I love our Montessori school: the kids hatching ducklings this spring.  Not only did they look adorable holding wee fluffy ducklings, but my three-year-old correctly used the word “viviparous” in a sentence at the dinner table.  (Yes, I had to look it
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  • 10 Everything You Need to Know About Siblings

    Do you have one child?  Are you contemplating adding a second to your life?  Here’s all you need to know about siblings in two brief vignettes: 1 — A week ago Miss Mouse was invited to a birthday party to which Buggie was not invited.  To lessen the sting for him, we decided that Josh would take him to a movie while I took Miss Mouse to the party.  When we informed them of The Plan, they both immediately burst into tears because they each wanted what the other one had. 2 —  This afternoon, on the way home from (another, different)
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  • 7 Sleeping Birdie

    My sweet Bird is one year, one month, and eighteen days old. Yesterday, she slept all the way through the night for the first time. Yes, for The First Time. We were all more than ready for this event but several factors came together to confound us for the first 13 months of her life.  Primary among them: co-sleeping and nursing.  Often at the same time.  Only a sleep-deprived mother can fully comprehend the surreal experience of waking up to discover a small child attached to your breast with no clear memory of how she got there. Until recently, Little
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  • 1 Once Upon a Time, Baths Were Fun

    The vast majority of the time, I like having three kids.  But there’s one particular time when I desperately miss the good old days when there was just one small person in the house. Bath time. I used to love bath time.  When Miss Mouse was a baby, Josh and I bathed her together, often spending half an hour or more on the event, which involved squirty toys, funny washcloth mitts, and waterproof books.  We have great video of her blowing raspberries in the tub and elaborate readings of Sandra Boynton’s “Bath Time” were a non-negotiable part of the nightly
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April 2014

  • 20 An Easter Vanishing Act

    Let us set the scene. It’s Easter morning. The church is packed (literally about twice our average attendance). The “passing of the peace” is just winding down and the kids are assembling in the front to sing the choral introit. But wait….where is Buggie? He has vanished. I scan the crowd, looking for the usual telltale signs of Buggie’s presence in another pew – giggling children, shifting adults, and the small blond head bopping around. Nothing. Eventually, the choir director ask the patiently-assembled worshippers if anyone has seen my child.  They haven’t. Josh (the pastor, if you will recall) is
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  • 12 Hiking Bingo

    We took advantage of the amazing spring weather today and headed out for our first family hike of the season. The big kids take after their mother in that sometimes the idea of hiking appeals more to them than the actual hiking.  To keep them interested and moving (and not whining) I created a simple Hiking Bingo card for each of them. I picked out things that we often see when we’re out at our favorite hiking spot and used both words and pictures so that Buggie and Miss Mouse could both participate.  It was more of a scavenger hunt
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  • 7 Put Away Your Own Darned Laundry!

    Someone once said: “A mother’s laundry is never done.” Or something like that. As a parent, the unavoidable reality of laundry is compounded if your children are: a) messy eaters b) fond of changing their clothes c) still working on nap-time potty training d) likely to spit their food out to tell you when they’re full, thanks e) big fans of extravagant marker use f) all of the above Suffice to say, we do a lot of laundry at our house (though honestly, even with three children, our current levels may be less than when Miss Mouse and Buggie were
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  • 4 Love Across the Generations

    A couple weeks ago, I took my kiddos up to Cincinnati for the weekend.  My mom’s sister lives there, which makes it a great spot for a mini-getaway.  We went to the Children’s Museum and it was pretty spectacular. But that wasn’t the reason for the trip. This was why we went: That’s my granddad.  He’s awesome. He’ll be ninety-four in June and he lives in Bluffton, OH.  It’s a four hour drive and he lives in a small apartment so visiting him there doesn’t really work.  But I very much want my kiddos to get to spend time with
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  • 1 Where to Look If You Lose the Baby

    My mom and I misplaced Little Bird the other day. It was one of those classic – “but I thought she was with you!” — moments straight out of a comedy routine or sitcom.  I was cleaning the kitchen and thought Bird was with mom in the living room.  Mom was playing with Buggie in the living room and assumed the little miss was with me.  After a few minutes, we realized neither of these scenarios was true… …but we couldn’t find Little Bird. I checked the bathroom, where my dad was giving Miss Mouse a bath.  No Bird. I
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March 2014

  • 30 Who Needs Sign Language?

    Because Birdie has nursed so much longer than her brother and sister did, I’m charting new waters as she gets older.  For example, I have never breastfed a child who could clearly and unmistakably request a feeding (without crying). I always meant to do sign language with all three kids but just never got around to it.  Luckily for me, Little Bird doesn’t seem to need it. She makes her desires known in her own creative ways. For example, when she wants to nurse, she hits me. Yes, that’s right.  If I’m sitting on the floor, my sweet girl will
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  • 22 The Truth About Breastfeeding

    My sweet Bird celebrated her first birthday this week. She is twenty-nine inches long, twenty pounds… …and still nursing. Not a lot – just at night – but she still nurses at least twice every day. This fact is my single greatest accomplishment of motherhood. It is what I am most proud of and what brings me the greatest joy. It is also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Don’t get me wrong.  Giving birth is not a walk in the park.  But breastfeeding for twelve months has required sustained effort – both physical and mental – that eclipses the
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  • 11 Riddles at the Dinner Table

    Miss Mouse and Josh read The Hobbit together recently.  Josh bought her a graphic novel version that kept most of the original Tolkien-y language and they worked through it together.  She really enjoyed the story and in particular was taken with the scene where Bilbo Baggins and Gollum exchange riddles in the dark beneath the Misty Mountains. Inspired by the story, she began demanding that we tell riddles over dinner and from there, branched out into creating her own. They are hysterical. Although she has grasped the meter and cadence of a riddle, she doesn’t truly understand them.  So she’s
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  • 7 Montessori at Home: Fostering Independence

    One of the central goals of Montessori education for the pre-primary classroom (3-6) is to encourage students to develop independence, particularly for their own self-care. In the Montessori classroom, students are responsible for daily tasks such as washing dishes, preparing snack, dusting the room, feeding classroom pets, straightening toys, and sweeping.  Sack-time is an open window of time during which students may choose to get a snack (or not).  Lunch is served family-style. Parents are encouraged to take steps in their home lives to support the independence of their kids.  One way that we’ve done that at our house is
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  • 5 Scientific Proof that Nature Abhors a Vacuum

    You know that thing you learn in high school science class – that “nature abhors a vacuum.”  I have irrefutable proof of the veracity of that statement right in my very own home. Behold, the kitchen sideboard. I clean this darned thing off regularly.  Okay, somewhat regularly.  Okay, when we have company coming for dinner. But no matter how often I clear it off, it immediately repopulates itself.  The current contents include, but are probably not limited to: 1 hunter orange stocking hat (belonging to Josh) 1 spritz bottle full of blue water (for painting the snow) 4 cans of
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  • 4 The Lost Art of Naps

    As a whole, we Americans have given up on naps.  Unlike other – dare I say more civilized? – countries where napping is socially acceptable among adults, we don’t nap much in this country.  This is a shame, because naps are awesome. Awesome, I tell you. Over the past year, I have reclaimed the lost art of the nap, led (or maybe forced) by my sweet Birdie.  As I may have mentioned, once or twice, Birdie isn’t a big fan of sleeping by herself. This is equally true for daylight and nighttime sleeping. At first, I felt a sort of
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  • 2 A Bad Case of the Little Brothers

    Recently, I hosted a free-wheeling play date for several of the kids’ friends.  There were seven children rampaging through the house, ages 8, 7, 5, 5, 3, 3, and 11 months. Yeah, it was wild. The top four of those kids were girls, who immediately barricaded themselves in a bedroom with a big box of dress-up clothes.  That left Buggie and a fellow blond-haired three-year-old ball of energy named A. to find a way to entertain themselves. Their activity of choice?  Harassing the girls. Oh, yes.  The dynamic duo harnessed all their Little Brother energy and tormented their big sisters
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February 2014

  • 19 Don’t Worry, Birdie. I Love You, Too!

    Given her tender age and limited ability to understand spoken English, I did not include Little Bird in the Valentine Love Swarm project I did for the big kids.  But fear not, sweet Bird.  I love you, too! In honor of my third-born’s eleven-month birthday, here are eleven things I’m loving about her this week: 1. She’s still nursing. More about another time, but this is the longest by far that any of my children have nursed and I still love it. 2. She is tiny.  When Birdie was first born and spending all her time strapped to my chest,
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  • 15 28 Things I Love About You

    During the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, I created a Love Swarm on the big kids’ door.  Every night, I taped a heart to the door.  On the heart, I wrote something I loved about them. It was a fun and silly way to celebrate my kiddos and it was actually a good parenting practice for me to focus on specific things about them that I adore. Some of Miss Mouse’s hearts included: You love to dance. Your smile sparkles. You let me braid your hair. You read to your brother and sister. You are a great big
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  • 13 Valentines Sans Pinterest

    Last year, I accidentally got sucked into the Pinterest Black Hole when it came time for valentine creations with the kiddos.  They turned out cute but I vowed that this year I wouldn’t spend so much money on the project. I nearly fell victim to the gravitational pull of the pin boards again, though, this year.  There are a ridiculous number of adorable valentine options out there.  Handmade play dough and heart cookie cutters?  Swoon.  Bouncey balls with the message – “Have a ball this Valentine’s Day.”  Perfect for the Bug-Man. I was all set to start buying supplies when
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  • 3 An Odd Time to Talk About Vegetables

    During the early fall, life was zany and I never did a CSA wrap-up post.  This may seem like an odd time to return to the subject, but I don’t care what the overgrown rodent says, spring IS just around the corner. My bestie and I spent some time Friday afternoon pouring over the Gurney seed catalog and sign-ups have opened for the CSA this year.  I am actually not signing up this year (I’ll explain why below), but I wanted to recap a few of the highs – and lows – of our Summer of Veggies. First, the #VeggieFail
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January 2014

  • 30 It takes more than an apology to make things right

    Recently, Miss Mouse drew in a library book. For reasons known only to her, she took a ballpoint pen to a library comic book about Green Lantern.  She gave some men mustaches, colored in the eyes of others, and doodled the name of the main heroine on several pages. I was thrilled. Well, no I was not thrilled.  I was flabbergasted and furious.  But I was also happy – not about the flagrant act of book defacement but about having such a clear-cut opportunity to help my firstborn learn about restitution. It’s a tough thing to teach little people, this
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  • 27 Slowing Down…Slowly

    When we decided to relocate from Pittsburgh to SmallTownUSA, we made a conscious decision to slow our lives down. At least that was the plan.  I’m a Type-A High-Energy Doer by nature, though, so it’s taken me some time to actually make that transition. In Pittsburgh, weekends were usually action-packed and I liked it that way.  Sunday was pretty well filled with church, naps, and grocery-shopping so Saturdays were inevitably Adventure Days.  We’d go to the zoo, or the natural history museum, or the children’s museum, or to a dragon boat festival, or whatever activity was going on.  And there
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  • 26 Why I Love Facebook

    I know a lot of people don’t like Facebook.  Some of my friends and family think it’s shallow and dumb and I’ve heard any number of complaints about how superficial digital relationships are taking the place of more meaningful personal interactions. And I hear you.  I do. But for me, Facebook allows me to connect with people – yes, sometimes superficially – that might  otherwise  be absent in my life.  Friends who live across the country and whose counsel I seek on parenting issues.  Busy cousins who take time to post a quick hello or comment on a picture of
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  • 24 My Brother, The Pig

    Miss Mouse loves to color and draw.  She will happily spend hours on her artwork, be it coloring books or original creations.  Most days, she comes home from daycare with a handful of new drawings for me to admire. The Artist tends to go through phases where she draws the same basic thing again and again.  Around Thanksgiving, it was tepees and Native Americans.  For a while it was fairies.   Right now, she has two primary themes and both crack me up. First, we have Bunk Beds with Bat: When we review her art together, Miss Mouse will carefully
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  • 22 In which Ariel and Iron Man have a party

    My parents often get the kids a big “together” present for Christmas.  Two years ago, it was an awesome home-made play tent. This year, it was a Big Dollhouse.  Miss Mouse already has a dollhouse, but what she wanted above all else this year was a “Barbie dollhouse” – i.e. one sized to accommodate her 12″ princess dolls. We knew that having it be a Mouse-specific gift was asking for disaster so it was a joint present to both big kids.  Buggie has his own stash of super-hero action figures (and a Sleeping Beauty doll all his own) so it
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  • 20 A disjointed post about sleep (and its absence)

    I don’t blog very much right now.  I miss it, and I know some of my readers do, too.  (Thanks, by the way!  That makes me feel good to know my pieces are enjoyed.) The reason I don’t blog is simple.  My third-born doesn’t sleep well.  At all. To put our situation in perspective, the other night she slept for almost two hours straight after I put her down and I was nearly giddy with excitement.  Really. Blogging is a time-consuming process.  I think and write quickly, but there’s editing to do.  Formatting.  Proofreading.  Photo-editing and uploading.  And…wait, what’s that?
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  • 19 Papu Loves Coffee

    Preschoolers aren’t always the most thoughtful creatures.  They’re just not wired that way yet.  Three-year-olds are generally pretty focused on their own needs, wants, and desires.  But every now and again, they will surprise you in beautiful ways. Take Buggie’s Christmas gift to my dad this year. One of the “practical life works” in the kids’ Montessori classroom is a hand-crank coffee grinder.  The kids practice fine motor skills by scooping up whole coffee beans, pouring them into the grinder, then turning the crank to grind the beans.  They can then take home the ground coffee if they desire. During
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  • 11 Pat the Baby: A Story About Friendship

    Until recently, Little Bird really didn’t show a marked preference for any particular toy.  She has lots of baby toys – rattles and taggies and a very fine Sophie Giraffe – and she played with them all happily, but she never had a favorite. That changed on Christmas morning.  On that special morning, Little Bird met Pat. This is Pat the Baby, a gift from my mother-in-law. Little Bird loves Pat.  Desperately.  Passionately.  Single-mindedly. She spent much of the days after Christmas crawling through the house, dragging Pat along with her.  If she spotted Pat while being held, she would
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  • 9 I cough. She cries.

    Perhaps it should come as no surprise – given how much time we spend together – that Little Bird is highly attuned to me.   She responds to my movements in her sleep, reaching a hand to touch me, turning her face toward me.  She zeroes in on my presence the second I’m in a room and seems to be able to sense if I’m in the house at all (maybe she can smell the breast milk?) And she hates it when I cough. I’ve been fighting a cold for several weeks now and it has brought with it a
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December 2013

  • 25 Things I Love About Christmas

    I’m writing this post a couple days before Christmas.  On the Big Day itself, I plan to be immersed in family and food, far far away from my computer. I haven’t been blogging a lot lately because my youngest beloved offspring won’t sleep.  That’s a post for another day, but let’s just say that Little Bird loves me so much that she cannot bear to be separated from me, even in her sleep.  Thus, my free time in the evenings has been limited! That said, it’s been an awesome Christmas season.  My favorite time of the year, for sure.  I
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  • 24 Opening the Door to Christmas

    I got to talking about Christmas memories with some friends this weekend.  I have a pretty bad memory and so my recollections of childhood Christmases are a bit vague.  Happy, to be sure, but not always precise.  Just a blur of laughter and food and Christmas carols and twinkling lights. Perhaps my most vivid memory of Christmas as a child is the moment of arrival at my grandparents’ house.  We drove to Iowa from our home in Illinois each year for the holidays – a journey that seemed incredibly long to me as a child.  Five hours in the car
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  • 23 Where are the rest of the gummy frogs?

    On Saturday morning, the Big Kids were playing upstairs together.  Nicely.  (For a change.)  They were quiet and Josh and I were enjoying the downtime, playing with Little Bird in the living room. I should have known something was up. Before too long, Buggie clomped downstairs with a teacup from their play kitchen and invited me to try his “frog tea.” In the cup was a toy I didn’t recognize.  It was a small, purple and pink rubber frog.  Slightly squashy to the touch and boldly colored.  When I asked him where he got the toy, he announced: “It’s the
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  • 7 Powerless Against Santa

    Last year, we decided that we weren’t going to “do the Santa thing” with the kids.  I had lots of reasons and you can read about them here. This year, I was worried that Miss Mouse was going to be That Kid who ruins the magic of Santa for her peers, earning me the eternal resentment of parents who go all-in on the big guy in red. It turns out, I needn’t have worried.  Rational conversations with her parents are simply incapable of counteracting the Santa-mania that runs rampant through preschool classrooms. My girl believes. Our church Christmas party tonight
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  • 5 Childcare by the Numbers

    We loved our daycare in Pittsburgh.  Loved it.  The facility was fantastic and new, the teachers were loving and well-trained, and my kiddos were happy and thriving. It cost an arm and a leg. So much that our tax accountant actually called me while preparing our 2011 taxes because he was sure the number I had written down for childcare expenses couldn’t possibly be correct. It was correct. Thus I was initially overjoyed to discover that childcare in Kentucky costs waaaaay less than it did in the city.   This huge cost difference is what has enabled me to work
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November 2013

  • 27 Because Peter Pan Is Actually a Jerk

    Miss Mouse asked to watch Peter Pan last Saturday for movie night. I said no. She was understandably confused since I’d let her watch it once before when she was home sick from school.  What gives, mom? How do I explain this to my kiddo?  How do I say: Well, honey, when I watched it with you back a month ago, I realized something unsettling about that particular children’s movie.  It kinda stinks.  It is misogynistic and racist and paints a terrible picture of female relationships and you deserve better, little girl. That seemed a bit over her head. What I
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  • 19 When Instincts Fail You

    Moms have powerful instincts.  On a primal level, our instincts tell us to protect our young, sacrifice for our families, and go into bizarre cleaning frenzies just before we give birth (go figure).  Our mom radar gives us eyes in the back of our heads when little hands are reaching for an extra cookie and warns us that it’s suspiciously quiet in the living room, better go check. But sometimes mom instinct can let you down.  A week ago, my instincts landed me face down on the pavement after flipping my bicycle. It was a gorgeous, cool sunny afternoon –
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  • 7 Mommy I Need You

    On Saturday night, Little Bird was fussy.  Really fussy.  I tried half a dozen times to settle her in bed so that I could get some stuff done around the house before I came up to sleep myself. No dice. Each time I would tiptoe out of the room, she’d awaken five minutes later, crying.  It was frustrating. In those moments, I always wonder if I should just let her cry.  I know most parents do.  At some point in that first year, most parents end up turning to the “Cry It Out” method of “sleep training” where you let
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October 2013

  • 27 Buzz Lightyear…with Fairy Wings

    Our family decided on Halloween costumes several weeks ago.  Miss Mouse was to be a Frost Fairy, Buggie was going as a Dragon, Little Bird would be a frog, and I was dressing up as a butterfly.  The main components of the kids’ costumes all came second-hand from consignment shops and/or ebay and I picked up a new set of wings and an antennae headband for myself.  All set. Half an hour before we were due to leave for Trunk or Treating at our church this evening, Buggie changed his mind.  No dragon.  He wanted to be Buzz Lightyear. Ten
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  • 23 How the Tummy Got Its Squish: A Love Story

    Miss Mouse joined me in the shower the other night in lieu of a bath.  As I was sudsing up her hair, she lost her balance, reached out her hands, and grabbed my tummy flab with both fists. “I’ve got to hold onto your belly, Mommy!“ I don’t know about you, but my gut reaction (pardon the pun) to someone clasping my muffin top is to recoil in a flurry of embarrassment and self-deprecation. I mean, really.  The realization that a person – even a small person – can actually grab entire handfuls of your excess body mass is not
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  • 21 The Letter of the Week Is “F”

    The Letter of the Week is “F”. F…as in Family.  Last week, we headed to Gatlinburg to rendezvous with some of Josh’s family.  Six adults and four kids spent a few nights packed together in a cabin in the woods and had a great time laughing, playing, and eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.  (Well, the three siblings did.  I want no part of something that might taste like vomit.)  Our kiddos particularly loved the fact that their cousin is getting to be old enough to play with! F…as in Fish.  One the agenda was a trip to the Aquarium
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  • 11 Birthday Countdown

    I’m learning that four-year-olds spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about, and planning their birthday parties.  Last week, Miss Mouse came home full of details about her friend Lucy’s forthcoming sleepover birthday party, demanding to know if she could attend. A quick conversation with Lucy’s mom confirmed two suspicions: a) that Lucy’s birthday is not until April and b) that Mom had absolutely no idea a sleepover was in the works. But preschool girls do not let minor things like time frames or feasibility stand in the way of their dreams.  (Nor should they!) Thus it should come
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  • 10 How the Cozy Corner Keeps Me Sane

    The title of this post is probably a bit premature.  There’s really no guarantee that I shall successfully navigate the journey of parenthood with sanity in tact, but we’ve found a way to improve the odds for now! The Cozy Corner. The basic idea behind a Cozy Corner is that it is a non-punitive space for a riled up child (or parent, I suppose!) to go and collect themselves.  It is NOT a time-out spot, but rather gives everybody some breathing room and a chance to calm down when tensions escalate. Not that tensions escalate in our house.  Not that
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  • 5 Smuggling Worms Into McDonalds

    Yes, I realize Buggie’s birthday party was two weeks ago. Yes, I’m finally blogging about it now.  Such is the season of my life… Now, I’m not a fan of huge blowout shindigs that cost an arm and a leg for little people who will only remember the event in pictures.  We didn’t do parties at all for Miss Mouse until last year.  As with many things, though, Buggie is experiencing things earlier than his big sister did (cookies and movies also come to mind in that category!). Thus, we had a small party for my man.  We invited his
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September 2013

  • 29 Feeding a Baby Bird

    Somehow – probably due to an invisible time warp portal located in my living room – my youngest child is six months old. She’s very happy about this. I’ll be honest and say that I’m happy, too (even though it means admitting that my wee girl is getting bigger!).  The second half of the first year is just so much fun. There’s sitting to be done.  And crawling.  Possibly some walking in the not-too-distant future.   Not to mention all that personality that’s developing every day. But the most fun thing about being six months old is definitely food.  Little
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  • 24 Birthdays Are a Big Deal

    Birthdays are a big deal in our house.  I don’t mean that we shower our kids with scores of expensive or flashy presents.  That’s not the point.  My goal with birthdays is to give my kids a special day, one that revolves around them.  It’s always nice to have a day that’s all about you, but with multiple kiddos, I think it’s extra important. Yesterday, Buggie turned three and I’m pretty confident it was one of the best days of his life (hooray!). In our house, Birthday Child gets a new shirt, proclaiming the occasion to the world.  No, Buggie’s
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  • 17 The Day I Finally Understood My Daughter

    Miss Mouse started dance classes last week.  She was beyond excited at the prospect.  My folks took her to a dance store and let her pick out a leotard with a little skirt attached.  She tried it on with reverence at home, practicing a few pirouettes in the living room.  When I picked her up from school on The Big Day, she tore across the playground shrieking “dance class dance class dance class” at the top of her lungs. Here’s a picture of her, showing off her moves before class: And here’s a picture of her, taken about three minutes
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  • 15 Baby Sensory Bottles

    Tomorrow, I’m heading for Pittsburgh with Little Bird and my mother.  I’m checking in with my office.  Little Bird is coming along for the boob juice.  Nana is coming along to help with Little Bird. Faced with the prospect of spending a lot of quality time with my wee girl in the car, I turned to the Big Kids for help with a craft project.  Together, we made sensory bottles for Little Bird. Birdie already likes to gnaw on empty water bottles and flail them about so I figured she’d get a kick out of having a few with some
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  • 11 Tears and Tomatoes: Getting to the Heart of the Problem

    A couple weeks ago, Miss Mouse had an epic meltdown.  It was truly impressive.  I honestly can’t even remember what set her off, but she went into a wild frenzy of shrieks, kicks, and general fury.  I followed her up to her room and sat on the chair while she raged in the little alcove where her bed is, hidden behind a curtain. After a couple minutes, I could hear the tone of her voice change from fury to sorrow and she started sobbing in earnest.  When I asked what was wrong, she flew out of the alcove, into my
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August 2013

  • 30 CSA Week 11

    After a brief break in August, our CSA is back in action for another ten weeks.  I’m looking forward to the “back half” of the season because we’ll be into winter squash season.  And we all know how much I love a good butternut squash. But that’s still ahead.  This week, we were treated to tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, okra, lots of basil, and a little bucket of raspberries and blackberries that – alas – did not last long enough to be photographed!  My children are absolute vultures when it comes to berries. I’ve always heard that involving kids in
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  • 28 Because Belle Grows Up To Be Miley

    Okay, first off, a few disclosures.  I didn’t watch Miley Cyrus’ outrageous/disgusting/raunchy/pick-an-adjective performance at the VMAs.  I didn’t actually know what VMA stood for when it started appearing all over my newsfeed.  I have no idea what “twerking” is.  And I’m okay with that. But I’m blogging about Miley today because her performance ties into some of the other posting I’ve done about the Disney princess culture. Spurred by a Little Mermaid flashback, I had relaxed the fatwa against the princess pantheon in our house lately – even going so far as to buy Buggie the Sleeping Beauty doll he
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  • 21 Catching Up With The Veggies

    I fell behind on my CSA veggie posts!  Our farm divides the summer into two seasons of ten weeks.  The first season concluded while we were on vacation in Florida and with my parents.  The second season begins next Wednesday.  Here are snapshots of the final three weeks of the first season, taken by Meg who handled the veggie bonanza in our absence. I didn’t annotate the pictures until today and I had to guess a wee bit!

  • 18 Why Three Is (Probably) The Magic Number

    When you have one child, people ask: “Are you going to have more?” When you have three children, people ask: “So, do you think you’re done?” A slight but interesting variation on the question, with the subtle suggestion being that the asker hopes the answer is yes because really, isn’t the earth crowded enough? Our light-hearted response is that I want another one but Josh says I’ll have to find a new Daddy for that baby because he’s done baby-making. In reality, I think we’re probably done.  Three is the magic number for our family.  Having closed the door on
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  • 16 The End of the Adoption

    25 months ago, we started down the path of international adoption.  Yesterday, we formally acknowledged that it wasn’t the right decision for us anymore. There were lots of reasons that had been swirling around in the back of our minds for over a year. I could talk about how what was supposed to be an eight-month process turned into a three-year process due to slow-downs in the system and how frustrating that’s been for us. I could talk about how, when we left Pittsburgh, we left behind the support network we were counting on to help us during the transition.
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  • 14 The Path of Least Resistance

    I conceded defeat tonight and put rails around my bed.  I had been half-heartedly trying to convince Little Bird to sleep in her crib at night, but she could definitely sense that I wasn’t serious about.  She’s there for the long-haul, I suspect. It’s not that I really had any intention of fully co-sleeping with her.  I started her in her crib each night and figured she would eventually sleep longer and longer during that initial stretch, finally transitioning to a whole night in her bed.  That’s basically what Buggie did. Birdie is having none of that. She’s getting to
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  • 8 A Conversation With My Muffin Top

    Attention, Muffin Top.  You are officially on notice.  Your days are numbered. What?  What are you talking about?  We’ve been spending some nice quality time together for the past several months years. You’re right.  We’ve had a good run.  But I miss my old pants.  You know, the ones I wore before I got pregnant? But your maternity pants have that nice stretchy band on the top.  They’re comfy. They are pretty fabulous, but when you’re not pregnant, they aren’t maternity pants anymore.  They’re fat pants.  Every time I put them on, I feel chubby. There’s nothing wrong with a
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  • 5 Seven Years – No Itching

    Dear Josh, Let’s be honest.  I’m not great at anniversaries.  I do alright at Christmas and birthdays, but when it comes to our anniversary, there’s usually not much hoopla. This year was particularly mundane, I fear.  I overlooked our special day in my meal-planning for the week and had us scheduled to eat something you didn’t like.  Then I couldn’t switch my plan on the fly because nothing else was prepped or defrosted or remotely ready so we packed the kids into the car and went to Sonic for dinner. Romantic, huh? But that’s married life, seven years and three
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  • 3 Falling in Love with the Library Again

    I went to the library last Thursday and I fell in love all over again. To be clear, I never stopped enjoying the library.  I’ve been a book-lover my whole life, but now I’m experiencing the love of reading through  my daughter’s eyes and it’s a whole new level of enjoyment. Miss Mouse is now a reader.  I’ve changed the way I mentally classify her skills from “learning to read” to “can read.” It’s really quite amazing.  My daughter can read! I don’t mean to brag. Okay, I do mean to brag – I’m really proud of her.  She’s actually
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July 2013

  • 31 Four Months I Can’t Get Back

    After returning from our two weeks away from home, we’ve been settling back into our routine.  And every single time Little Bird and I encounter a casual acquaintance – be it daycare teachers or church friends – their reaction is the same.  They smile broadly and exclaim: “My, she’s grown!  She’s getting so big!” I politely smile back and agree, carefully hiding my urge to shriek — “TAKE IT BACK.  TAKE IT BACK RIGHT NOW!!“ You see, I’m still in denial about the forward march of time when it comes to my third-born.  Oh yes, I’m remembering how much I
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  • 28 Buggie and the Big Boys

    See those smiling faces that don’t belong to me, but bear a striking resemblance to each other?  That’s C & B: they are the six-year-old twin boys belonging to my best friend from high school…and they were probably the highlight of Buggie’s trip to my parents’ house.* I realized that Buggie doesn’t get a lot of exposure to older boys.  There are a couple elementary and middle school boys at church who are very sweet to the little man, but having an older sister means that when bigger kids are around, they’re often girls.  It was fun for me to
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  • 26 Coming Up for Air

    I read an article that was going around Facebook recently about how common portrayals of drowning are inaccurate.   You don’t actually thrash and flail and call out for help, apparently.   You just tread quietly for a while, then go under.  You’re too busy trying to stay afloat to do anything else. Apparently, this is also true when you’re drowning at work.  I’ve been “on vacation” for the past two weeks (one in Florida, one in Illinois) and have been so busy trying to get my work done that I went silent on the blog. Now that I’m working
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  • 17 Car Food

    I try pretty hard to keep our family on an even-keel, nutritionally-speaking.  We limited the kids’ sweet intake to a couple desserts a week, don’t let them have soda, and serve veggies or fruit with every dinner.  And I try to keep healthy snacks around the house for mid-meal munching.  Things like unsweetened applesauce or 100% fruit leathers. But when there’s a car trip, I freely admit that my standards pretty much go out the window. That’s our box of car food I packed for the eight hour haul to my parents’ house.  If it looks like enough food to
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  • 11 Birthday. Nailed It.

    The last couple years, I felt like I didn’t quite have my act together for my husband’s birthday.  Josh is a pretty laid-back guy and doesn’t really ask for too much.  But I still felt like I had under-performed, in part because I didn’t do a good job of involving the kids in the festivities. I hear you thinking – “Um, until very recently, your kids were barely aware that birthday existed.  What exactly were you thinking they were supposed to do?” Yeah, yeah.  I know.  Rationally, I know. And yet, there was that small voice saying that a better
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  • 10 Always Let Your Veggies Be Your Guide

    I feel like we’re hitting our stride with the CSA, now that we’re into the seventh week.  The most obvious sign of this is that I’m getting better at planning meals around the veggies.  At the start – in part because of the preponderance of lettuce – my weekly pickups were just add-ons to my meal planning.  An extra salad here.  Some kale chips there. That’s fine, but not especially cost-effective.  While a CSA is a good value for what you get, it’s not cheap.  We paid up front the equivalent of $20 per week for those veggies (which are
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  • 8 CSA Week 7

    Last week’s haul from our CSA had a tremendous variety, which was very fun.  We’re enjoying carrots, yellow squash, patty pan squash, cucumbers, green onions, turnips, parsley, cabbage, green beans, and okra.  Yum! And while I blogged about why we decided to participate in a CSA, my motivations can probably be summarized in a single picture.  I asked Miss Mouse to show me how she felt about the carrots we got this week. Need I say more?

  • 4 Why We Joined a CSA

    Today I’m honored to be the guest blogger over at Be Mama, Be Well.  Jess asked me to do a post on our CSA experiences and I was happy to oblige.  

  • 2 CSA Weeks 5 & 6

    Egad.  I’m way behind on CSA pics!  Apologies.  I’ve been too busy eating kale to post.  But here are the pics of weeks five and six.  Tomorrow is the Week 7 pickup. Week 5 was our first with blueberries and they were so good we ate them all in the car on the way home…  There were also more carrots than the picture shows.  Miss Mouse did a number on them before I could take a picture! Week 6 brought the first squash and I’m bracing myself for an onslaught in the weeks ahead.  Zucchini is not my strong suit!

June 2013

  • 28 The Big Kids: All You Need to Know in One Photo

    This picture perfectly encapsulates the relationship between my two big kids at the moment: Check out their facial expressions.  They tell the whole story. Buggie is amused by the event.  You can see by the blurring of his hand that he has just hit Miss Mouse, or is about to.  But you can also see by his body language and his face that this wasn’t an aggressive act.  It was more of a science project to see what she would do. And what did she do? Crumpled into a ball of whiny tears, that’s what. Every time. This basic scenario
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  • 27 A Shrieking Barnacle of Love

    My baby is adorable and smiley and extremely good-natured.  See?  She looks like this: Until, that is, someone other than me holds her.  Then she looks like this: Don’t blame my mother for her distress.  Little Bird responds with similar facial expressions when pretty much anybody else picks her up.  She’ll tolerate Josh a bit better and has (finally – thank heavens) established a bond with her babysitter.  But gone are the early days of cute babydom when I passed her around my Sunday school class from lap to lap. Oh no.  That doesn’t fly anymore. The mommy-only phase is
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  • 24 Kale the Live-Long Day

    Over the past couple weeks, I’ve become something of a kale expert.  I’ve embraced the leafy green as my new veggie best friend and have tried out a bunch of new recipes to use up the big bags of the stuff that keep appearing in our CSA.  Kale is remarkably versatile and, if you wanted to, you could easily incorporate it into every meal of the day.  For example: Breakfast — Kale Breakfast Burritos Saute some bell peppers and kale in a little butter, stir in a couple eggs, a splash of milk and a handful of cheese.  Wrap it
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  • 23 Outdoor Art Studio

    Okay parents, pop quiz: where is the best place to establish an impromptu art studio for your kids? A) In your carpeted living room. B) At your dining room table. C) Outside on the lawn. Why yes.  The answer to this and many other child activity questions is C – Outside.  Whenever you can take the kiddos outside, do so! My very crafty aunt gave the kids a fun gift in honor of Little Bird’s arrival – a big wooden letter (the first in her name) to decorate.  One sunny day, we headed outside to do just that.  I bought
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  • 21 Cooking in Season

    Wednesday night was CSA pickup night and it was a goodie.  We’re inching into high summer and the endless supply of greens is beginning to give way to things like blueberries and cucumbers.  We still got kale, though, which made me happy.  It’s becoming one of my favorite veggies. With all the abundance around us, it wasn’t hard to put together a really good meal that featured seasonal ingredients.  We had Cumin Spiced Pork Loin, Lemon Basil Red Potatoes, and Confetti Kale. The pork loin was something I’d cooked a couple months back.  We’d had extra and I tucked it into
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  • 17 CSA Week 4

    I was out of town for this week’s pickup and it was Meg’s turn to enjoy the veggies, but she kindly snapped a picture of the haul for the week. Mostly it was the usual suspects: lettuce, kale, radishes, beets, collard greens.  New this week were some gorgeous carrots in fun colors like yellow and red.  Miss Mouse has been asking for those and I’m hoping they’re back again next week!

  • 16 Have You Hugged a Farmer Today?

    One of the reasons we opted to participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this summer was my desire to connect more with our food producers.  While I’m a far cry from being a true locavore, it’s undeniably cool to know the people who are growing (some of) your food. Each week, we pick up our veggies from a designated drop point and I chat a bit with Scott the Farmer who manages our farm.  He’s about my age, super laid back, and very friendly.  I pepper him with questions about the veggies and what to do with them and
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  • 15 The Key to Nursing in Public

    During our time in Pittsburgh last week, Little Bird and I spent a lot of time out and about.  We went out to meals in restaurants five times, had coffee with friends, and wandered through a Greek food festival.  Not to mention the hours spent in the Cleveland airport. All that gallivanting raises the natural question for a breastfeeding momma: how do you handle nursing in public?  (Or NIP as the mommy forums and blogs refer to it). NIP is a hot topic of discussion online and occasionally makes the news when some ill-mannered caveman makes the fatal mistake of
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  • 11 There’s a Bird in Your Office

    I am blessed to have the world’s most flexible boss.  I telecommute and check in on-site every couple months.  I got permission to bring Little Bird with me to Pittsburgh for this trip and to keep her at the office with me. She makes a lovely desk accessory, no? (Yes, she’s sound asleep in this picture.)

  • 10 Babes in the Air

    I’m in the Steel City for the week, checking in on-site at the non-profit I work for.  Given that I’m Little Bird’s only source of sustenance, she came with me.  When I told friends I was traveling by plane to Pittsburgh with Little Bird in tow, they often said something like: “Egad.  Flying by yourself with a baby?  Yikes!  Good luck.” Lucky for me, I’m a packing pro.  This is all I brought with me for a week-long business trip. Just kidding. I checked a giant suitcase.  When you are traveling for work and your traveling companion is prone to
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  • 7 Sweet Potato Kale Quesadillas (Recipe)

    Last week, Josh was out of town for a few days on a mission trip with the youth of our church.  I took the opportunity to make a meal I’d been dying to try but which I knew he would hate.  Pretty much everything in these is blacklisted in his world.  And even a more adventurous eater than my beloved might raise an eyebrow at the ingredients.  But the flavors meld together oh so wonderfully and the mashed sweet potatoes give a really good texture. The quantities in this are approximate.  It’s very forgiving. Sweet Potato Kale Quesadillas 1 large
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  • 5 Lemon Pasta with Fresh Herbs (Recipe)

    I’m not always prepared to deal with fresh herbs.  It seems like I come across recipes all the time that call for cost-prohibitive quantities of fresh herbs (who has a cup of fresh tarragon in January?), but when I need one…I blank.  Happily, the stars aligned tonight and the parsley in this week’s CSA played a starring role in a truly delicious summer pasta.  You can use whatever fresh herbs you might have. Lemon Pasta with Fresh Herbs 12 ounces pasta shapes (bow ties are cute!) 4 TBS butter 1 cup heavy cream Juice and zest of 1 lemon 3
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  • 5 CSA Week 3

    We’re into Week 3 of our CSA adventure.  It’s still very very green, but I’m gaining confidence in my ability to handle the verdant hue. More salad (surprise surprise), a big bag of kale, beets, radishes, and parsley. Lots of salads this week, obviously.  I *finally* mastered the art of roasted kale chips and my mom and I put a serious dent in the bag of kale tonight.  I might make and freeze some Kale Sweet Potato Quesadillas if I wind up with excess.  The radishes will go in salads and probably a recipe my mom sent for green beans
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  • 3 Saying Yes to Muddy Underpants

    We took the kids on the first hike of the season on Memorial Day.  It was a rousing success. We didn’t cover much ground because we came across a stream and that was pretty much the end of our forward progress.  The kids were enchanted by the water and wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of their lives frolicking in it. We compromised by letting them play for about a half an hour.  Forever is a long time, after all. While we played, we encountered a couple other families with kids.  It was interesting to watch them as
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  • 2 CSA Week Two

    This week, our CSA box epitomized what frightened me about undertaking a farm share: lots of green stuff. We receive three pounds of green leafy vegetables this week. The picture really doesn’t do justice to the abundance because the Big Bags of Green Stuff are hiding behind the beet greens. But they’re there, believe me. This week’s box contained: one pound lettuce mix, one pound kale, one pound collard greens, one bunch of radishes, and one bunch of baby beets. We got a second bunch as a bonus because I mentioned how much I’d enjoyed them last week and they
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May 2013

  • 30 You Can’t Be a Pastor in Kentucky…

    …without owning a truck. When I was pregnant with Miss Mouse, we realized we were going to need to think about a Family Vehicle.  I wasn’t emotionally prepared to buy a minivan so we settled on a Chevy HHR.  It’s like a somewhat hip (but not really) station wagon.  It was the perfect car for us and served us well for five years, hauling kids, dogs, and even playground equipment. But alas, with the arrival of Little Bird, its days of useful service were numbered.  Spacious as it was, three car seats was not an option. Josh and I had
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  • 28 Birdie’s Many Grandmas

    I have the amazing good fortune to work from home.  I telecommute part time for a non-profit in Pittsburgh, doing fundraising and communications.  I love my job and I’m pretty darned good at it.  Whenever the day comes (if it does) that I have to return to working forty hours a week in an office, I’ll be sad.  The flexibility and freedom of my schedule are really awesome.  I can call in to staff meetings in my pajamas and work on grants at midnight, if that’s when it’s most convenient for me. Given the flexibility of my schedule, I didn’t
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  • 26 Super Girl, Disappointed

    We had a frustrating experience last weekend at a birthday party that I’m finally finding time to grump about it.  Miss Mouse was invited to a party for a boy classmate of hers.  It was to be held in a local park and had a superhero theme.  Guests were encouraged to wear costumes/clothing of their favorite superhero. I was a bit stumped at this since Miss Mouse doesn’t really know anything about superheroes, much less have a favorite, but I found a cheap pink cape online that my mom kindly purchased for her.  She liked it a lot and eagerly
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  • 23 #VeggieFail

    Let me start by saying that I know this isn’t Twitter.  I am composing this missive in WordPress, a blogging platform.  Therefore, the use of hashtags is admittedly #inappropriate.  But I’m a huge fan of hashtags.  I think they’re funny.  And since I don’t use Twitter, I’ve given myself permission to utilize them sparingly in my blog. #LiveWithIt Ahem.  Moving on.  Today I’m introducing two hashtags that I’ll be using during the Summer of Veggies.  They are: #VeggieFail and #VeggieWin.   I believe they’re self-explanatory. I’ve got one of each today, both stemming (ha ha) from the same source: beets.
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  • 22 Launching into the Summer of Veggies

    I picked up our first farm share this afternoon.  The Summer of Veggies has officially begun! We’re participating in a CSA this summer.  That’s Community Supported Agriculture.  Basically, you buy a share of a local farm and then receive a box of produce each week throughout the summer.  The catch is: you don’t pick the contents.  The farmer fills the box with whatever is ripe that week.  It’s a great way to support local agriculture and also expand your horizons.  I’m a bit of a veggie novice, to be honest.  The vegetables I enjoy, I like a lot and eat
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  • 18 The Glass is Half Full of Baby Barf

    Just because your day starts out a little rough doesn’t mean it can’t be redeemed. Last night, we drove up to Cincinnati to my aunt’s house with plans to go to the Cincinnati Zoo today.  I awoke this morning at 6:30am to the sound of pouring rain and the realization that Buggie had just puked in my bed. It wasn’t an auspicious beginning to our adventure. But we rallied.  Having yakked profusely, Buggie seemed much improved.  In fact, it actually took me a minute to figure out which big kid was the source of the incident as they both appeared
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  • 14 Things I Love This Spring

    It’s been quite a while since I did a “Things I’m Loving” post but the bright sun and budding flowers and general awesomeness of spring have inspired me! 5 Things I’m Loving This Week: 1) Watching Miss Mouse finally figure out how to breathe while swimming.  All of a sudden, it’s clicked and she’s so proud of herself. 2) The new cookbook Josh got me for Mother’s Day — “Simply in Season.”  It’s produced by the Mennonites and has all sorts of simple but yummy recipes using seasonal produce.  We get our first CSA box next Wednesday so I’m getting
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  • 12 Family: Nothin’ Better

    We spent time this weekend in western Kentucky.  Josh’s big brother was graduating from college (hooray!!!) and Josh’s family gathered to celebrate this awesome event.  I love my husband’s family.  He’s the second of five kids and the sibs are all really close.  Not to mention really fun.  Led by boisterous, frequently-inappropriate-but-always-hilarious Big Brother Donnie, family shindigs are always a hoot.   This get-together was extra cool because of the kids.  I adore my own family and have several cousins with whom I was close as a child.  Unfortunately, geography and career paths have led us in different directions and
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  • 8 Milestone Denial

    When Miss Mouse was tiny, I spent a lot of emotional energy looking forward.  I couldn’t wait for her to be able to roll.  To sit up.  To crawl.  To walk.  To try solid foods.  All of those milestones that happen in the first year were cause for much anticipation and celebration. With Buggie, I think I lived in the moment a little bit more.  I savored his baby-ness and made sure we spent lots of time noozling together.  But I was still excited to watch him progress from tiny creature to sprightly little man. When it comes to Little
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  • 4 Two Surprisingly Good Sources for Kid’s Toys

    We had a birthday party to go to today.  It was for a little girl in Miss Mouse’s class who was turning four.  Or five.  I’m not sure.  In any case, the party snuck up on us and I wasn’t able to order the necessary supplies for my go-to gift of “personalized play dough kit.”  I found myself needing to buy a present from a store. Which is a bit of a challenge here.  Oh, it’s not hard to find presents.  We do have several Walmart Super Centers within striking distance.  But I find the toy aisles of Walmart overwhelming
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  • 1 Creative Uses of Small Spaces

    Although for most of the night, Little Bird snoozes in bed with me, each evening she starts out swaddled like a burrito in her crib.   While eventually said crib will live in the beautifully-decorated alcove of the master bedroom, at the moment it lives here: If you’re thinking to yourself — “Um, that looks like a bathroom” — you are correct.  Little Bird’s bedroom for the time being is the downstairs bathroom.  We put a piece of plywood across the top of the tub and her crib perches up there. I’m sure there’s a “You Might Be a Redneck”
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April 2013

  • 28 Thoughts on Babies and Sleep

    There’s a very funny blog post making the rounds in cyberspace right now.  It’s a truly hysterical compilation of all the “expert” sleep advice one mom encountered in her desperate quest to find answers to why her darling child preferred screaming to sleeping.  The point of the piece is that it’s all contradictory.  Amazingly so.  There are about a zillion different opinions on how you should approach bedtime and sleep with your baby, so I figured – why not add my own voice to the cacophony?  While I am far from an expert, I have been around this block before
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  • 27 With Apologies to Ariel

    Dear Ariel, This is hard for me to admit…so I’m just going to come out and say it.  I’m sorry that I became such a jaded grownup and forgot how special you once were to me.  Please forgive me. Humbly, Kate After being the target of a tireless plead campaign, I finally broke down and bought “The Little Mermaid” for Miss Mouse.  We watched it tonight for the first time… …and I loved it. I hadn’t seen that particular Disney classic in many years.  As I grew up and became a liberated feminist woman, I got snooty about that movie
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  • 25 Mango Coconut Granola (Recipe)

    I’ve gotten onto a homemade granola kick lately.  Little Bird and I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen together because she loves being in her baby carrier…but only if I’m standing up.  Luckily, cooking requires standing! It’s champagne mango season and I took advantage of the bounty in our house to create a new granola recipe: Mango Coconut.  Mmmm. Mango Coconut Granola 2 cups old-fashioned oats 1/4 cup wheat germ 1 cup flaked coconut (I used sweetened) 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup Mango Sauce (see below) 3 T plus 2 tsp cooking oil
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  • 23 My Impression of a Marsupial

    I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen these days, which may sound surprising, given that I’ve got a one-month-old in my life.  But, as it turns out, Little Bird is most content when strapped to my chest in her baby carrier.  After searching far and wide for the perfect carrier, we seem to have found it. The only catch is, she’s only happy when I’m standing up.  If I sit down with her in the carrier, she immediately protests.  So I spend a lot of time on my feet.  I watch TV standing, put my computer on
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  • 21 Princesses on Ice

    I sometimes talk smack about the Disney Princesses.  They’re not my favorite ladies.  But Miss Mouse is enchanted by them.  We’re talking totally smitten.  And she gets so excited about the world of princesses that I cannot bring myself to ban them. Which is how it happened that Miss Mouse attended Disney Princesses on Ice this evening, accompanied by my best friend, Meg. I love my bestie for lots of reasons, but here’s one.  Not only did she take Miss Mouse to the princess extravaganza, but she showed up for their “date” wearing a crown herself and armed with sparkly
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  • 17 Kids vs. Puppies – Which Is Harder?

    As we’re settling into life as parents of three, I’ll be the first to admit that there have been some wild moments.   Diaper explosions.  Screaming fits (from multiple sources).  Sleepless nights. But I almost think that my aunt is having an even more exciting adventure with her new puppy.  Meet Tommy Tolbert (rhymes with “Colbert”).  He just joined my aunt’s house his week. Here’s the message she sent me after his first day at home.  Let us remember that this represents one day of fun.  For your reading enjoyment on a rainy Wednesday, I give you: The Tolbert Report.
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  • 15 Celebrating Baby

    Yesterday, our church hosted a Celebration in honor of Little Bird.  They’d opted to skip the usual baby shower festivities since this was our third kid and figuring out what parents need the third time around is complicated (though they did very kindly organize a “piggy bank shower” and collected funds for us to buy some needed items!!).   Instead, we had a fellowship event last night. My bestie Meg was in on the planning and came up with the idea of having a garden theme (grow a child, grow a veggie – it’s definitely connected). So. Much. Fun. There
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  • 11 I Spy Life

    Look!!! See those tiny green things?  Those are sugar snap pea seedlings and they are officially the first living thing I’ve ever attempted to grow from seed (apart from my three gorgeous children, of course). I”m so excited. This year, I’ve vowed to get up close and personal with the local vegetable food chain and gardening is on the list.  Small scale gardening, to be sure.  I didn’t want to set my expectations too high the first year, given my novice status and the presence of a small child strapped to my chest most days.  So we planted sugar snap
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  • 8 Getting Smarter the Third Time Around

    Okay, class.  Time for a parenting pop quiz.  It’s 9:30 pm.  Your three week old fed last at 7:30 pm and will probably be hungry again soon.  Do you: A) Pop in your favorite TV show on DVD and watch an episode (or two) while waiting for the munchkin to stir. B) Brush your teeth, don your PJs, and try to get some sleep. If you answered A, you’re probably a first-time parent.  I’m not judging.  I’ve definitely been there.  When Miss Mouse was born, Josh and I watched all six seasons of Dawson’s Creek in between and around baby
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  • 6 Kangaroo Care

    When we checked into the hospital to prepare for Little Bird’s arrival, we noticed this funny sign on the wall: “Cold babies are not COOL.  Please keep your baby in Kangaroo Care!” Huh? It turned out that “Kangaroo Care” was the hospital code for “skin-to-skin contact.”  It’s one of the many things that impressed me about the hospital and its staff.  Skin-to-skin contact is one of The Big Things for crunchy mommas during childbirth.  We granola moms usually lay out instructions in our birth plans that our newly-arrived little person spend as much time as possible as quickly as possible,
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  • 4 Southern Hospitality

    You know you live in a small town full of amazing people when a church member offers to bring you dinner so you don’t have to cook with a new baby in the house… …and this is what arrives: From lasagna to soup to chicken pot pie to a complete Easter ham feast, we’ve been so blessed by the outpouring of love (and food) from our church family!

  • 3 Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Drop-Out

    For the most part, I can flash decent “crunchy mommy” credentials.  I breastfeed, co-sleep, and have searched the world for the perfect baby carrier.  I did baby-led solids with Buggie and revel in spending time in the great outdoors with my kids (they helped me plant sugar snap peas this weekend!) But here’s my dirty little secret: right now I have two children in diapers. Disposable diapers. *cringe* I’m afraid it’s true.  I’m a cloth diaper dropout.  When Miss Mouse was born, I embraced the fluffy-bottomed revolution with glee.  I stocked up on adorable diapers with fun names like Fuzzy
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  • 1 The Trouble with a Life of Leisure

    Right now, I’m living a pretty good life.  I’m off from work, my older two kids are in “school,” and I’m free to spend my days napping, watching TV, and nursing my new baby.  It’s the life of leisure, really. But the problem with doing nothing is that…well…you can’t get anything done! I’m a do-er and usually have multiple to-do lists going at any given time.  But when you’re home with a newborn, those lists had better be pretty short.  In a given day, I can usually accomplish two or three activities: a blog post, checking my email, taking a
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March 2013

  • 24 The Hardest 10 Minutes of Labor

    I don’t mean to brag, but I’m getting pretty good at this whole birth thing.  When asked how our labor went, my stand-by flippant answer is that the hardest part was the ten minutes I spent trying desperately NOT to have the baby, while the nurses searched for my doctor. But really, it’s close to true.  We’ve been blessed with two awesome birth experiences (and one that is awesome because it gave me Miss Mouse but for no other reason!). With Holy Week pending and a history of a chunky, late baby, we made the decision with our docs to
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  • 19 Arrival

    Willow Rae Known Henceforth As: “Little Bird” Tuesday, March 19th 6:54 pm 8lbs, 9oz “They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like willows by flowing streams.”  ~ Isaiah 44:4

  • 18 On the Eve of a Birthday

    I’m going to have a baby tomorrow. There’s something comforting and also unsettling about being able to make that pronouncement with some certainty.  Here I am, sitting at my computer, listening to the rain, not experiencing any labor pains, and by tomorrow evening, I should have another baby in my life. Today is my official due date and we’ve made the decision to induce labor first thing tomorrow morning.  Buggie was a full week late and Baby3 seems intent on following his lead.  Except that this Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week.  It’s a slightly busy time for a
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  • 17 Prepping the Nest

    As the Big Day looms closer, I’ve definitely done my share of nesting.  I’m not sure exactly what motivates first-time moms to immerse themselves in domestic activities in the days before they deliver, but those of us with kids are home are spurred on by the panicked realization that it could literally be YEARS before we once again have the time, energy, and will to tackle a few of those random home projects that have been lurking in the back of your mind. My mini cleaning binges have included: Emptying out the spare bathtub of all the random junk that
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  • 16 Thoughts on Parenting the Fearless

    As the mother of a small, fearless two-year-old boy, I’m never quite sure if I should be awed and impressed by his intrepid spirit… …or deeply concerned about his long-term prospects for survival.

  • 15 Reading Matilda to My Daughters

    One of my favorite memories from this pregnancy will be of listening to Josh read out loud to both his daughters.  When I was pregnant with Miss Mouse, we started reading to her.  We picked “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C. S. Lewis and read the whole thing to her out loud.  After she was born, we continued the habit — taking turns reading while she had her bedtime bottle. When I was pregnant with Buggie, it was an abridged version of “The Three Muskateers” (which I confess I found deeply boring). We decided to expose Baby3 to some
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  • 13 Accept the No, Child!

    My children are having a hard time accepting the word “no” right now.  And while I could write volumes about how this trait applies to their responses to me, today I’m actually talking about their interactions with each other. Scenario One: When Miss Mouse Wants Something Buggie Has Although rationally I knew that siblings bickered a lot, as an only child I didn’t fully comprehend what life with multiples is like.  They squabble over everything.  What color plate they get at dinner, who brushes their teeth first, who pushes the auto-close button on the car, and — of course —
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  • 11 Cheerleader for Spinach

    Another thing about kids and vegetables is that sometimes you just need a good champion. The other night, my best friend was over for dinner with her husband.  I set her to work stemming fresh spinach that was destined for a Florentine mac & cheese recipe.  The kids decided to help and when I poked my head in, all of them were enthusiastically munching on the discarded spinach stems. It turns out Meg was raving about how yummy they were, regularly popping them into her mouth.  So the kids did likewise. It’s amazing what a good role model can do!
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  • 9 In which I sometimes Photoshop our lives and that’s okay

    There’s a blog post that was making the rounds on Facebook recently.  A mommy blogger wrote a manifesto for being more “open” and “honest” about their lives.  She suggested that Facebook status updates are a form of well-meaning lies wherein we all pretend that our kids are well-behaved, our days are sunny, and we spend all our free time as parents engaged in meaningful and environmentally-friendly craft projects with our children.  We all know that the reality of our lives isn’t quite so gorgeous, but we often represent it that way online. I get where she’s coming from, but as
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  • 5 Eating Excess Chocolate Before It’s Too Late

    One of the first things you’ll read in many of the (endless) Manuals for Expectant Parents is this bit of stern advice: Being pregnant is not an excuse to eat anything you want for nine months. To which I reply with a hearty and heart-felt — Yeah Right. I’m literally days away from the end of what will probably be my last pregnancy and let me tell you right now, I’m making the most of it.  I had a crispy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s for lunch.  With fries.  And a Cadbury Cream Egg.  I’ll probably have another (egg, not sandwich!)
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  • 2 A Leafy Bower

    When our wee girl arrives home, she’ll be sleeping in a leafy bower.  Or at least it will seem that way, as her crib will be nestled into an alcove, the walls of which are adorned with a gorgeous willow tree mural.  Behold: The mural was a gift from an extremely talented church member and is just lovely.  (My favorite part is the little raccoon face peeping out from the base of the tree.) Rather than having a whole separate nursery this time around, Baby3 will be sleeping in our master bedroom.  The dormer window lends itself nicely to being
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  • 1 Sleeping on the Couch

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been sleeping on the couch in our den.  You might wonder why it is that the highly-pregnant whale of the family is bedding down on the very firm, rather narrow couch while the husband sprawls out in the queen bed upstairs. I assure you — it’s totally my choice. It turns out that the couch is more comfy in my advanced state of porkiness.  The firm mattress gives good support and the narrow berth prevents me from rolling onto my stomach in the night.  As a life-time stomach-sleeper, it’s very hard for me to
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February 2013

  • 25 Reading: Six Weeks Later

    Six weeks ago, I posted about my joy in seeing Miss Mouse begin the journey towards reading.  She’s been working very hard since then and I am blown away from her progress.  She’s gone from sounding out single, three letter words, to reading entire “short stories” several sentences long. We shot a quick video of her working on a lesson a few days ago.  Wow.

  • 24 The End-of-Pregnancy Meltdown

    Rationally, I recognize that, at three weeks out from the due date, it’s too late to second-guess your ability to parent three children… …and also that you should avoid being introspective about your skills as a mother when you’re thirty-seven weeks pregnant and fighting laryngitis. But let’s just say that today was tough. I’m fighting some kind of weird and obnoxious throat thing that makes it extremely difficult and painful to talk above a whisper and I am pumped super full of preggo hormones.  And about three weeks ago, Buggie launched himself into two-year-old-ness.  His birthday was in September, but
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  • 22 Pregnant and Pampered

    The heck with fancy cars, expensive houses, and swanky clothing.  The day I win the lottery, I’m scheduling a weekly date with a talented masseuse. I love a good massage.  Touch is definitely one of my love languages and few things are more soothing and luxurious than a massage.  My mom gifted me one at a cool pregnancy-focused spa in Lexington and I cashed it in this morning. Bliss. I wasn’t quite sure how the whole thing would work, given my girth, but they’re pros at this place.  And no, the table doesn’t have a hole in it — though
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  • 20 In Which Old Trounces New

    We’re now a few months into our “Saturday Night Movie” routine with the kids and it’s been great fun to watch a number of Disney movies with my kiddos.  They take turns selecting our film for the evening and I’ve noticed something absolutely fascinating: they like the classics WAY better than the newer films. Snow White, The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella were all met with wild approval and rapturous re-watching. We’ve started The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin at least a couple times and never manage to finish them because Buggie and Miss Mouse just
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  • 18 Veggies Grow in the Dirt

    If you have never read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle you need to.  Right now.  Turn off your computer, drive to the nearest bookstore, and get reading. …meaningful pause… Okay, if you’re still here, I’m going to assume you’ve read the book and thus I shall spend only a small amount of time waxing enthusiastic about its wonderfulness.  I’d read it before but recently re-read it for church book group and fell in love all over again.  If you’ve never wanted to plant a garden before in your life, I guarantee you’ll want to after reading her book.  The
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  • 16 Juggling Cupcakes and Vultures

    Some days, I feel like we’re taking the half the house with us when we walk out the door for school. Valentine’s Day was one of those days.  Two kids in two schools meant a whole lotta baggage marching out the door with us.  Here’s the rundown: Hats for each Gloves for each Buggie’s bag of valentines Two boxes of cupcakes for Buggie’s V-Day school party Miss Mouse’s bag of valentines for her Montessori class Miss Mouse’s bag of valentines for her “daycare” class teachers Miss Mouse’s stuffed frog – her nap time companion A bag of quarters for Mouse
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  • 11 Cold Green Beans and Other Pre-Dinner Delights

    I’ve noticed a strange mealtime phenomenon in my house.  My children will eat vegetables before dinner, but usually not during dinner. I’m not at all sure what this is about.  I try to include a vegetable with most dinners, but often get only the obligatory “taste it” bite from my children.  However, if I’m prepping vegetables in the kitchen before dinner, my kiddos will clamor for samples. It’s odd. For some reason, I fought against this trend for a while.  “No,” I would exclaim, “No more red pepper for you until dinner!”  At which point, they’d ignore it. Then I
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  • 8 The Dark Side of Pinterest

    Confession time.  I spent just shy of $40 on supplies for my kids’ Valentines this year. Yes.  Yes, I did. I blame Pinterest.  There’s a dark side to that oh-so-inspiring bastion of all things creative.  It turns out that buying all the needed supplies to make the adorable things you see on Pinterest really adds up. I picked two projects to do this year — one for Miss Mouse and one for Buggie.  My girl and I opted to do a variation on the recycled star crayons we made at Christmas, this time featuring hearts.  We’d melt down a bunch
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  • 7 Stocking Up and Eating Down

    As the clock winds down on this pregnancy (t-minus six weeks and counting!), I’ve embarked on a mission to simultaneously empty and fill my freezer. Yes, at the same time. Basically, I’m trying to eat down all the random stuff that has accumulated in there (partial bags of tater tots, hunks of frozen pot roast, etc.) and replace it with actual meals or meal components that will keep us eating well after the babe arrives. I’m making good headway on both fronts.  The odds and ends are dwindling and my stockpile of meals is pretty sizeable.  At the moment, my
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  • 5 Rethinking Tink

    As you may have guessed from recent posts about Miss Mouse’s artwork and my kids’ favorite playthings at the moment, my kids like Tinkerbell.  A lot.  There was a squabble just this morning over who would get to wear the coveted Tinkerbell knit hat to school.  (Buggie won, as Miss Mouse grudgingly conceded it would mash her hair-do, opting instead for the sparkly pink ear muffs.) It might seem surprising that I’ve allowed my family to embrace the wee green-clad pixie, given how I feel about Disney princesses.  But I’ve actually come to terms with Tinkerbell.  Truthfully, I think she’s
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January 2013

  • 31 Phase Three: Putting Down Roots

    As I look back through my (weak excuse for a) journal, I realized that almost exactly a year ago, we were gearing up to visit a tiny town in Kentucky to meet a church that had already won our hearts.  We’ve been settling in now for about nine months and it feels like we’ve been here forever. The first phase of the new move was really all about settling in.  Getting unpacked.  Finding the grocery store in the next town over.  Trying desperately to learn the complicated kinship web that flows through our church.  (Still working on that last one!)
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  • 30 Felt Snowman Craft

    The fact that it has recently been in the upper 60s is no reason to discontinue producing winter craft projects.  (It may be a reason to worry about the continued survival of our planet and our species, but that’s a whole other story.) Inspired by the felt Christmas tree that I made for the kids around the holidays, I decided to try branching out into additional felt activities.  For the remaining winter months, I decided on a snowman that the kids could decorate. Mom and I cut out three big white felt circles and sewed them to a blue background
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  • 29 The Monster in the Potty

    Miss Mouse was pretty easy to potty train.  She wore cloth diapers and maybe that helped her to really feel when she was wet.  In any case, by the time we gave her big girl undies for Christmas the year she turned two, she was pretty much ready to wear them.  A month or so later, and the diapers were gone (except at night – that took a while). Buggie uses potty training as an opportunity to demonstrate his independence and spirit. The parents in the audience will rightly translate that as: Whenever Mommy asks if he wants to sit
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  • 26 In which a zebra and a polar bear share a meal

    If you happened across this little domestic tableau, you might assume that Miss Mouse had been playing with her toys. But you would be wrong.  The dinner party pictured above was the work of her little brother. I am endlessly fascinated by the different ways in which Miss Mouse and Buggie play.  They have very different approaches to imaginative recreation. For Miss Mouse, pretend play always involves another person, preferably an adult.  Her imaginative games revolve around her as the heroine/princess/mermaid/cat/baby/etc. and require that a second participant narrate the story (following her very specific instructions, mind you) and play all
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  • 24 Capturing the Essence of a Fairy

    Miss Mouse drew this picture for me earlier this week: In case you can’t immediately tell, it’s several of the fairies from the Disney Fairies crew.  And while I say that jokingly, when I looked more closely, I realized she actually did a really good job of identifying the key physical characteristics of some of the fairies and trying to reproduce them. The four main fairies represented in Miss Mouse’s drawing were Vidia, Silvermist, Faun, and Tink herself.   You can see them all below  (Vidia on the far left, Tink in green, with black-haired Silvermist and brown-haired Faun to the
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  • 24 Why I’m Not a Teacher

    Is there anything — ANYTHING — in this world more difficult than watching someone struggle to master a skill that is so ingrained in you that you don’t even think about it anymore? No.  There is not. Don’t get me wrong.  I am loving coming alongside Miss Mouse on her reading journey.  I am.  But wow, it can be tough.  Sitting patiently (and quietly) while she arduously sounds out words makes me twitch.  A lot.  It’s all I can do not to cut her off, leaping in to pronounce them correctly. I don’t, of course.  She’s learning and this is
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  • 23 100 Buttons

    That’s a picture of 100 buttons.  Miss Mouse meticulously laid them out this evening on the dining room table. Why, you ask? Well, it just so happens that tomorrow is Miss Mouse’s 100th day of class at her school.  The teacher asked all the kids to bring in 100 of something to celebrate the day and Miss Mouse opted to raid my treasure trove of random buttons.  It’s a big trove, and she had a blast. Because this is Montessori, there’s a reason for the activity beyond simple pleasure — of course!  Throughout the year, the kids have been keeping
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  • 21 How Not to Feed the Birds

    Not long ago, my kids and I did a bird-feeder-making craft project involving Cheerios and pipe cleaners.  It was a great afternoon activity and we had lots of fun.  There was just one problem… …the birds didn’t eat them. The poor circles of cereal languished on our tree branches for weeks, slowly molding.  They’re still there now. Not that I really blame the birds — who wants to gnaw on stale plain Cheerios?  So, recently, my parents and the kids worked on Bird Feeders Round 2.  This time, they involved spreading peanut butter on pine cones and then rolling them in
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  • 17 Goodbye, Riley

    As a disclaimer: this post was hard for me to write and the decisions described in it were harder still to make.  But I find blogging therapeutic, so stay with me and — please — positive comments only! We said goodbye to our dog Riley today.  It was not the goodbye we had hoped for, after spending six years of our lives with the furball. We got Riley from a local shelter a few months after we got married and loved him with the zeal that I think only childless people can devote to their pets.  We took him everywhere,
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  • 16 How to Work from Home with a Kid Home Sick

    Buggie has been running a fever off and on since Sunday night.  He’s banned from daycare and has been home with me.  It’s led me to ponder the question of: how do you work from home when your kid is home sick? You don’t. Seriously!  I do not understand how work-at-home moms manage to accomplish anything.  I manage to sneak a couple hours in while Buggie naps, and if I’m lucky, I can clock up to an hour while he’s watching a movie.  But that’s about it. When the fever is down, he’s bouncing off the walls and wanting me
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  • 13 A Tale of Two Tinkerbells

    I know that it is impossible to have perfect equality in my parenting of multiple children.  You love them both and you try to stay as even-keeled as possible, but trying to keep everything exactly equitable leads to insanity.  Sometimes, someone’s going to have more chocolate milk in their cup.  And that’s just how it is. That being said, I recently broke down and bought a duplicate toy because Buggie was coveting one of his sister’s with fierce desperation and Miss Mouse was never particularly keen on sharing it. That’s right.  I bought Buggie his own Tinkerbell doll. What can
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  • 10 Bouncing on the Big Boy Bed

    Buggie’s big Christmas gift was a much-anticipated Big Boy Bed. It’s been fascinating to see his reaction to the toddler bed.  Or perhaps more accurately, his reaction to the realization that he is no longer confined in his bed at night.  It will probably come as no surprise when I share with you that my little man enjoys his new freedom. Bedtime with Buggie is so different than with Miss Mouse.  She always bargained for more mom time.  She wheedled, cajoled, whined, and pleaded.  It was like negotiating with a bedtime terrorist.   She knew just which buttons to push,
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  • 9 Honk If You Love Chocolate

    If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary and very kid-friendly dessert some cold winter’s evening, may I suggest chocolate fondue? I grew up eating cheese fondue with my parents and it’s one of my favorite meals in the world.  My *ahem* culinarily challenged husband and children have been slow to embrace this particular food event, but I’m still trying. This weekend, we had a fondue meal that went pretty well.  I served two kinds of cheese fondue (cheddar/beer and Swiss/white wine) as the main course, with bread chunks, fingerling potatoes, apple slices, and steamed broccoli as dunkers.  It was the first
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  • 7 When three letter words make your heart sing

    I knew that the process of learning to read would be exciting for Miss Mouse, but I didn’t realize I’d get such a vicarious thrill out of it. At the suggestion of Miss Mouse’s teacher, she and I have begun (almost) nightly reading lessons using a book recommended by said teacher.  It’s called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and is basically a modified phonics program.  It uses a methodology called DISTAR  and uses a variety of activities — from sound repetition to writing to sight reading — to introduce the concept of reading. It took a
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  • 3 The End of Christmas (and Possibly the World)

    It was one of those moments you don’t understand until later. We packed up our Christmas decorations this week before I departed for a few days in Pittsburgh for my work.  It was a bit earlier than we sometimes strip the house down but I was ready.  The kids weren’t big fans of the plan and protested some as their toy nativity, the beautiful ornaments, and the holiday stuffed bears disappeared into boxes, but on the whole, they took it well… …until I got to the Christmas books. We have a collection of holiday-themed kids books ranging from silly stories
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December 2012

  • 29 Gift Strategies for 2013

    I went a bit over-board on gift buying for my kids this year.  And while I didn’t commit the cardinal Christmas sin of credit card debt, I wasn’t happy with the avalanche of presents under the tree.  It was just too much.  Literally – there were more gifts than our kids could really process or appreciate and I felt like the bonanza of presents didn’t quite jive with the message we’re trying to send about Christmas being about Jesus and charity and other warm-and-fuzzy-and-not-battery-operated ideals. I’ve got a few thoughts for how to do better next year.  Learn from our
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  • 28 Accidental Excess

    I had the best of intentions regarding simplicity and moderation in our holiday shopping for the kids.  I really did.  But somehow this happened: In my defense, there are several factors contributing to the insanity pictured above.  A big one is that those are ALL the presents for our kids (and for us and my parents), including gifts from both sets of grandparents. But really, there’s no excuse.  I let things get out of hand this year. Last year, we did the “three presents for the kids to mirror the three presents from the wise men” thing, but I wasn’t
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  • 24 Building Christmas Traditions

    Christmas when I was a child followed a very predictable pattern.  We drove to my grandparents’ house in Iowa a day or two before Christmas and met up with the rest of my mother’s extended family.  Christmas Eve involved singing and food and perhaps a quickly-rehearsed Christmas play.  Christmas morning was a melee of gifts and more food. I think I was at least in my teens before I spent a Christmas morning in my own house. This could be why it’s taken me a few years to forge new Christmas traditions since I’ve been married.  To a minister.  Knowing
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  • 21 Toddler Manners

    My son is very polite.  But he’s still working on pronouncing certain sounds.  Like “f.”  It usually comes out as a “d.” Thus this morning we were sitting at the breakfast table when Buggie suddenly announced — “Escuse me, Mommy.” “What’s up, buddy?” – I inquired. “Buggie darted.” Thanks for sharing, little guy.

  • 17 Pine Cone Christmas Tree Craft

    Saturday afternoon typified my vision of what I love about the holidays.  My family sat around the dining room table, listening to Christmas tunes, and creating a small forest of pine cone Christmas trees.  It was bliss. Pine cone Christmas trees are just about the perfect craft for the pre-school set.  The materials are cheap and easily accessible, the project is minimally messy, and even fairly young children can be fully independent in its execution. Supplies: Array of squatty pine cones Liquid glue Small ramekins (or Dixie cups) Q-Tips Craft pom-poms (sparkly are best)   The project is simple.  Dab
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  • 16 Transitioning from Nap Time to Quiet Time

    Shortly after we moved to SmallTownUSA this summer, I realized the clock was ticking on Miss Mouse’s nap time.  Really, we’re fortunate that she remained a good napper as long as she did.  I have friends whose children gave up their naps by the time they were two.  It’s a horrifying thought. But at four, I noticed Miss Mouse’s naps were getting shorter and shorter.  I’d tuck her in and give her a kiss only to hear the ominous pitter patter of little feet thirty minutes later. I didn’t want to give up on nap time because I really think
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  • 14 Holiday Smiles

    This morning got off to a rough start due to a Major Mouse Meltdown.  I made a massive error in judgment and allowed Buggie to don a pair of his big sister’s pink socks to wear to school today.  (The kid loves pink and likes wearing anything that belongs to his sister.)  The fireworks started the moment we came downstairs and Miss Mouse noticed his foot apparel.  We got it sorted out but it was a stressful start to the day. Thus it seemed like a good time to do a “things I’m loving” post.  So here’s five things I’ve
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  • 10 Dinomite Playdough

    I’ve got a new go-to present for any and all gift-giving occasions involving small children: a playdough kit. I saw the idea on a blog last week and was instantly smitten.  We had a birthday to attend this weekend for a five-year-old, dinosaur-loving classmate of Miss Mouse’s so I gave it a whirl. I made playdough for the first time ever, dying it what I considered to be “prehistoric” colors like forest green, deep orange, and dark red.  Then I added a small wooden rolling pin and a set of dinosaur cookie cutters (both ordered from Amazon).  I finished off
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  • 9 Ball Pits and Other Horrors

    When (okay, if) you ever sit around pondering the circles of hell, you might envision walls of fire, lakes of brimstone, and little dudes hopping around with forked tails and pointy sticks. Not me.  My vision of hell looks more like this: That’s The Kids Place in Lexington – heralded as Kentucky’s Largest Indoor Playground.  It’s the stuff of nightmares. We had a couple go-to playgrounds in Pittsburgh for when the weather was yucky.   They were both small, independently run places where the kids could frolic, play with some toys that weren’t theirs, and blow off a little steam.
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  • 7 One In, One Out

    As parents know, the Season of Giving is often the Season of Getting when you have small children.  Kids are fun to buy for and even in families who try to show restraint in their holiday purchases, the total accumulation of “new stuff” during the holidays can be massive. One way that we try to keep from becoming buried under a mountain of toys is to institute a “one in, one out” policy when it comes to stuffed animals and dolls — all of whom are collectively referred to as “friends” in our house. When Miss Mouse receives a new
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  • 6 Felt Christmas Tree Craft

    My kids loved decorating our Christmas tree.  They loved it so much that they now want to un-decorate it on a daily basis so they can put the ornaments back on. In a (vain) attempt to stave off this impulse, I created a felt Christmas tree for the kids to decorate with felt ornaments. I found the idea  on another website and have long been wanting to try a felt activity.  Many mommy bloggers rave about the endless potential of felt-based crafts and I’ll admit: I’m totally smitten. I cut a large Christmas tree out of green felt and stuck
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  • 5 Freezer Cooking When You’re Busy

    It’s the holidays.  Life is crazy.  The last thing you’re probably thinking about is cooking even MORE food to stash in your freezer. But remember: some recipes are super easy to double.  Or triple.  Or quadruple. Like meatloaf. It doesn’t take anywhere near twice as long to make two meatloaves instead of one.  Yesterday, I whipped up four pounds of meatloaf goodness.  I make mine free-form and a one-pound loaf is just right for our family to eat and have a bit left-over.  So I shaped up four loaves, baked one, and tucked three into the freezer for later. Making
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  • 3 Classroom Gifts

    It’s that time of year again.  Time to select teacher gifts for the teachers and staff at my kids’ schools.  This activity always stresses me out and I probably put far more energy and anguish into it than is strictly necessary, but it’s important to me to get it right. I’m still working on details of individual teacher presents, but this year, I hit on the idea of a “classroom gift” for Miss Mouse’s school.  I wanted her to be able to share something with her class that they could use and enjoy.  In the spirit of Montessori education, I
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  • 1 Santa: Keeping the Magic, but Losing the Lies

    We talked to Miss Mouse about Santa Claus tonight.  And although the phrase “he’s not real” didn’t come out of my mouth exactly, that was the gist of the conversation. The issue has been building in our house and in my heart for some time and I felt like we needed to address it. I know that The Santa Debate is huge, with passionate defenders on both sides.  Let me say up front that I certainly don’t think that families who choose to go all-in with Santa are harming their kids — I have fond memories of huddling under a
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November 2012

  • 30 Birth Control

    To heck with “abstinence only” education.  If sex ed classes informed young women that, should they become pregnant, they will occasionally pee when they sneeze, the unwed birth rate in this country would plummet. That is all.

  • 29 You Want What for Christmas?

    This year, for the first time, Miss Mouse made a list for Santa.  It included: a Belle doll, an Ariel doll, a Barbie, and a Castle. Why do you hate me, child?  What on earth am I supposed to do with that list? I took a deep breath, made noncommittal noises, and began planning my strategy.  The castle was actually easy.  Although the castle currently marketed by Fisher Price is pepto-bismal pink and populated by odd Little People Disney princesses, a few years back they made a great gender neutral castle.  I picked one up on Ebay and it’ll be
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  • 26 Voodoo Mom Fail

    The fault was mine.  I admit it.  I broke the number one rule of intentional television consumption: know what you’re watching. But, in my defense, it was Disney.  The Princess and the Frog looked pretty harmless and was rated G – which, as we all know from the helpful ratings posters, means that your small child AND her stuffed giraffe can both enjoy the film safely. So we made that our choice for Family Movie Night while at my in-laws for Thanksgiving despite having never seen it. But you know how the saying goes: “It’s all fun and games until
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  • 23 A Buggie and a Baby – Face to Face

    This post is alternately titled: “In which my fears that my son would bludgeon his new baby cousin prove to be unfounded.” We traveled to West Virginia for turkey day festivities with Josh’s family.  The highlight of the trip was meeting my new niece, whom I shall refer to here as Adorably Chunky Monkey.  Josh’s middle sister had a daughter in July and this was our first chance to meet the beautiful wee ham hock.  (As you might guess, she’s one of those deliciously chubby babies with cheerful jowls and impressive thigh rolls.) I was delighted at the prospect of
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  • 19 Family Movie Night

    I don’t actually hate television, although my posts on the subject may occasionally cause it to seem that way. I do believe in my soul that TV isn’t good for my kids.  But then again, neither is sugar, and I did let them eat their Halloween haul. My goal is to be intentional about the time we spend watching TV.  I don’t want to park my kids in front of a mind-numbing cartoon involving oddly-shaped aquatic life (sorry, Sponge Bob) just because the children are whining at me or because I’m tired that day.  Those aren’t good enough reasons. Family
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  • 18 Fingerprint Reindeer Christmas Ornaments

    **Immediate family.  Warning: this post contains photographic representation of items that you will probably be receiving for Christmas this year.  If you’d like to be surprised, discontinue reading.  They were just too cute not to share pre-holidays.** Yesterday afternoon, we embarked on making Christmas ornaments for our family.   For a couple years, I ordered ornaments with the kids’ pictures on them but decided they’re getting big enough to be more actively involved in the process.  I loved making ornaments for my family as a child and produced some truly awesome creations, if I do say so myself.  The gold-sprayed
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  • 16 Hostess Tips: Don’t Trash Talk

    A while ago, I read a little blurb about being a good hostess and one thing it said was: never put yourself down.  Don’t apologize for how messy your house is.  Don’t say the dinner didn’t turn out like you wanted. While hard to follow sometimes, that is some darned good advice. When it comes to housekeeping, there’s two issues at play.  Number one: your house probably looks fine.  Unless you’re a truly amazing slob, you wouldn’t have people over if the place was legitimately dirty.  Note that dirty is different from untidy.  We have two kids and a dog.
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  • 14 Follicle Shock

    It had to happen.  Rationally, I know that. But I still cried (a lot) at the results of Buggie’s hair cut this week. My sweet, shaggy, tousle-haired baby was converted before my eyes into a shorn sheep, aged approximately ten. I like a little shag, but Buggie’s mop was bordering on vision-impairing so I took him to the salon.  Or house of torture, if you’re looking at it from his perspective.  For mysterious reasons, Buggie hates having his hair cut.  Hates. It.  Always has.  Which is part of why his locks were quite so long. I put on a brave
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  • 13 There Really Were Flamingos

    Lots of things irritate my four-year-old.  Things like bedtime.  Or her brother.  Or vegetables.  But the number one thing that makes her go crazy is this: not being believed. Miss Mouse hates it if you don’t believe something she says.  She flies into a near-hysterical fit of angst as she attempts to persuade you by yelling her convictions at increasing decibels. A classic example from this morning: as we drove to school, we listened to one of her CDs.  When I pulled up to the door, the song came to an end, and I turned off the car. Meltdown. Miss
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  • 11 Cheerio Bird Feeders

    With the weather cooling and the skies darkening at an alarmingly early hour, our evening routine is shifting a bit.  For the past month, the kids have spent the early hours of the evening playing outside.  They ride bikes, jump in the leaves, and (as of this week!) play on our awesome new swingset.  But that’s getting harder as winter starts whispering, so I’ve been looking for more inside activities. Recently, we made Cheerio bird feeders together after dinner.  I got the idea from our church holiday bazaar and it’s super easy.  You just need pipe cleaners and Cheerios (Honey
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  • 9 Operation Christmas Child

    As part of our ongoing efforts to introduce our kiddos to the concept of philanthropy, this year Miss Mouse and I packed a box for Operation Christmas Child.  I wanted to do it last year and got lazy.  This year, it was game on. Do you know about Operation Christmas Child?  Super cool.  It’s a project by an organization called Samaritan’s Purse and the concept is simple and brilliant: you pack a shoe-box full of toys and gifts for a child and Operation Christmas Child delivers the boxes all over the world.  This year, they’ll be delivering their 100 millionth box.
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  • 7 Dollhouse Fung Shui

    A few months ago, I started to notice that my kids weren’t really playing with their dollhouse or toy kitchen.  What should have been catalysts for hours of creative play were just sitting there. Recently, I took a closer look and realized that the house and kitchen had become overrun.  They were stuffed so full of figurines, furniture, and faux bananas that there really wasn’t room to play with them.  They’d become storage containers rather than interactive play platforms. So I attempted to restore some fung shui to a world gone awry. I removed 50% of the furniture from the
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  • 4 Thank-You Notes for Beginners

    Growing up, my mother ran a tight ship when it came to gift appreciation.  Prompt thank-you notes were a non-negotiable part of any holiday that included gifts. As much as I grumbled and whined about the hassle of such activities, I’m hoping to instill the value in my kids.  Thus, Miss Mouse and I worked on some tokens of gratitude after her birthday party a few weeks ago. Given her age, I knew I’d be doing most of the composition, but I wanted the notes to “feel” like Miss Mouse.  I ordered foam harvest-themed picture frames from Oriental Trading Company.
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  • 1 The Halloween Blahs

    I’ve been trying to formulate my thoughts for a Halloween post.  It’s been tricky because I’m generally a sunshine and daisies blogger.  I like to put everything in the best possible light.  But to be honest, I’ve got mixed feelings about Halloween and this year’s festivities left me a bit disappointed. Let me start by highlighting those aspects of Halloween which I embrace.  I am all about pumpkin carving, hot apple cider, dressing up in fun costumes, and community togetherness.  I think Halloween should be about those things.  Heck, I think life in general should be about those things. And
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October 2012

  • 29 Buggie and the Pumpkin Alphabet

    Although there are many aspects of Halloween which appeal to my son — M&M’s being high among them — I think his favorite thing this year is the plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins.  He and Josh figured out tonight that it’s hysterically funny to talk (or sing) into one…

  • 27 Just the Two (and a Half) of Us

    I personally believe there are two keys to a happy marriage.  The first is separate checking accounts.  (Because I am much happier *not* knowing how much money my husband spends on books.)  The second is making time to be husband and wife.  And let me give you a hint here — you can’t do it with your kids around.  They won’t let you. Thus, Josh and I try to escape every year or so for a few days sans kiddos.  It’s usually nothing elaborate and often coincides with my being pregnant — a “babymoon” if you will.  Two years ago,
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  • 22 Restocking the Freezer

    In preparation for our move to Kentucky this spring, we totally “ate down” our chest freezer, emptying it of all the soups, casseroles, and forlorn forgotten packages of miscellaneous meats that had accumulated there.  I confess that I hadn’t found the motivation to restock since we’ve gotten settled here but today was The Day. I often freeze meal components — like marinated meat — but this time I wanted to focus on complete meals.  Things I could pull out of the freezer, pop in the oven, and be done.  Thus, casseroles.  A few weeks ago, I’d been seduced by a
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  • 21 Your Presence Is Present Enough

    One reason that I had delayed organizing an “official” birthday party for Miss Mouse was my ambivalence about the gifts that accompany such events.  We try hard to keep the amount of “stuff” our kids accumulate from overrunning the house and the prospect of hosting a party that would yield half a dozen or more presents was unnerving. But how do you tell people – “Please don’t buy my four-year-old a birthday present.  No, really.  Don’t.” – ? We decided to combine our desire to start introducing Miss Mouse to the concept of philanthropy with our desire to avoid birthday
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  • 20 A Pinterest Party with Pumpkins

    Well, I did it.  I had a birthday party for my daughter.  I’ve avoided birthday parties until this year but I knew that she wanted one to mark The Big Four.   So, we invited several families from our church and Josh’s best friend and headed to a local pumpkin patch — because we all know how much I love pumpkin patches. That’s the great thing about Miss Mouse only being four.  I didn’t feel a huge need to consult her on the details of her party.  I let her broadly define her guest list, giving her the choice of
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  • 17 Recycled Crayon Stars

    To quote my mom’s sister: “Esprit de corps has always run strong in our family, but at the holidays, it tends to run amok.” I’ve thrown myself with gusto into preparations for our church holiday bazaar.  I’ve helped prep spice mixes, hot-glued cork boards, created fabric wreaths, and stitched wall-hangings. My current obsession is recycled crayon stars. This project first came to my attention in February when Miss Mouse received a heart crayon on Valentine’s Day from a schoolmate.  In thinking of “little noodgies” I could contribute to the church bazaar, I remembered and revived the idea.  I think they’ll
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  • 16 A Brief Birthday Cake Meditation

    I love to cook and it breaks my heart that schools have banned home-made treats, forcing me to buy dubious packaged cookies for my kids’ school celebrations instead of making one of the magical creations I’ve seen on Pinterest (like Oreo cookies that look like bats!!). But that being said… …when I can buy a truly gorgeous and absolutely delicious Tinkerbell cake for $10, why on earth would I make one???

  • 15 Celebration of Life

    Today was a festive day as my first-born celebrated her fourth birthday.  I’m sure I’ll share additional birthday thoughts once I sort through the pictures and come out of the sugar-induced brain freeze, but I wanted to share how Miss Mouse celebrated her big day at school. Not surprisingly, the Montessori classroom has its own approach to birthdays.  They’re called “Celebrations of Life” and They Are Awesome. Here’s how it works.  The children all sit in a big circle on the floor.  At the center of the circle is a candle sitting on a cut-out of the sun.  Around the
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  • 14 The Tale of Pinkie

    When we moved to Kentucky, we helped sweeten the deal for Miss Mouse by holding out the promise of a brand-new Big Girl Bike.  No more tricycles — this girl was headed for a two-wheeler (okay, more of a four-wheeler when you factor in the training wheels). The bike was a huge hit.  It  had streamers.  And a basket for her baby doll.  And it was pink.  Very pink. Miss Mouse named her bike Pinkie — in honor of her beloved Nana’s bike, which is named Pinkie Burkette — and took off.  I shot this video of her at the
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  • 11 Feminine and Fabulous

    While my post on princesses might lead you to believe I’m opposed to all things “girly” that really isn’t true.  I loved playing dress up as a child and I am fine with the fact that Miss Mouse prefers to wear dresses most days.  Most of her wardrobe is pink and she has a  number of baby dolls that she adores. What I’m trying to do is find examples for her that expand the definition of what “feminine” is.  Feminine doesn’t have to be royal and helpless and inextricably bound up in man-catching. Exhibit A to illustrate my point: Fancy
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  • 10 The Problem with Princesses

     I’ve found myself plagued by feelings of growing concern about The Princess Thing.  Despite our low-TV lifestyle, Miss Mouse is still an (almost) four-year-old girl and loves all things Disney Princess.  (And by Disney Princess – or DP – I’m specifically referring to the rise and marketing of the movie heroines as a collective group apart from their movies.)  While I confess to indulging her at times — we did, in fact, buy her a princess bed when we moved — I’m less and less comfortable with the World-o-Princess.  At the request of several friends, I’m trying to put down
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  • 9 Boy Bonding – An Update

    I wanted to return to the topic of my carnivorous son, having now spent the last eleven straight evenings engaging in quality time with Sir Buggie. First, the school report.  Drum roll please…. …no bites! At all.  Seven days and counting bite-free at school.  Now, I cannot in all fairness posit a direct causal link between our “special play time” and the kindler gentler Buggie who has emerged because there were other variables in there.  Like the fact that he moved to a new room at school.  That was a big deal, but honestly I was certain the situation would
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  • 5 The Benefit of the Doubt

    I had one further thought related to Miss Mouse’s choir boycott that I wanted to share.  When you find yourself in a situation like that — with your child stubbornly refusing to do something that you want them to do — try to give your kiddo the benefit of the doubt. Because she had been enjoying choir practice and because I know she likes our church friends, my first assumption when Miss Mouse balked was that was just being ornery.  She was grumpy or grouchy or – maybe, just maybe – she just wanted to piss me off.  (After all,
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  • 4 Refusal to Sing

    Miss Mouse started participating in Children’s Choir at our church a few weeks ago.  She had an absolute blast going to practices, which are run by a beloved “church friend” who also accompanied Miss Mouse to her first swim lessons.  There are about six or seven other kids in the choir and they sing such classic tunes as “I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Joy Down in My Heart” and “This Little Light of Mine.” All was going swimmingly until this past Sunday when the kids were deemed ready to sing for the church during worship.  Miss Mouse was thrilled
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September 2012

  • 30 In which we go apple picking

    It’s fall!  It’s fall!  It’s fall! I love fall.  Maybe you’ve noticed.  Crisp days, cool nights, bright colors, pumpkin baked goods, and the smell of burning leaves.  Plus both my kids’ birthdays (and my own).  What’s not to love? Yesterday, we met up with Aunt Meg and Uncle Scott at a nearby apple orchard for some outdoor fun and produce collection.  We had a ball.  We stomped up and down the rows of apple trees, letting the kids gleefully pluck fruit from the trees.  A lot of it was a bit dubious but I’m planning to make mostly applesauce so
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  • 29 Bonding with My Beastie Boy

    Don’t let those big blue eyes fool you.  My son is one tough toddler.  He’s been going through a rough patch at daycare lately and has apparently become the class bully.  He comes home daily with at least one (and as many as four) “incident reports” detailing how he has  bitten his friends. Although our daycare has been very understanding about the whole thing, it’s stressing me out.  After doing some research, one idea that caught my eye was the suggestion that sometimes kids bite if they’re not getting enough attention at school and/or home. Hmmmm. While I think of
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  • 25 Birthday Memories

    My little man turned two on Sunday.  At the moment, he’s remarkably free of “terrible twos” symptoms, with the exception of the steady stream of “incident reports” that come home from school, chronicling his tendency to bite, hit, pinch, shove and otherwise torment his classmates.  In his defense, he’s also on the receiving end of all the above on a regular basis.  It’s like Lord of the Flies in there.  Tough age. In any case, we had a lovely day celebrating Buggie boy.  Here’s five things that stood out for me: 1) Watching Buggie slowly embrace the birthday concept.  When
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  • 22 Camping with (lots of) Kids

    It turns out that camping with lots of kids is even more fun than camping with just your own.  We took advantage of the lingering warm days of summer’s last gasp and packed out camping gear for one more night under the stars.  This time, we joined forces with Josh’s best friend, Wade, and his family.  Four adults, five kids, one rowdy black lab. Let the good times roll. We had a blast.  Our campsite was on private property (a family tie I never quite understood) so we didn’t have any neighbors, unless you count the cows who showed up
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  • 21 My First Montessori Lessons

    This week there was an Open House at Miss Mouse’s school.  She. Was. Jazzed.  For days leading up to the big event, it was all she could talk about.  And she woke me up at 3:30am the night before, terrified that she had missed it.  The purpose of the Open House was for the students to share their classroom activities with their parents.  There was no set agenda (very Montessori).  The classroom was just open and available. As we arrived, Miss Mouse squealed and greeted several of her classroom friends, exchanging enthusiastic hugs.  But the moment we entered her room,
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  • 20 Rustic Squash and Sausage Soup

    When I launched Squash Fest 2012 this week, my squash-roasting bonanza was sparked by a need to make Harvest Mac ‘N Cheese for a dinner gathering.  But I bought a huge squash and had a bunch of extra roasted squash chunks to deal with.  What to do?  What to do? Make a yummy soup. This recipe is adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens recipe and is truly divine.  The “savory squash puree” can be made by peeling and chopping a squash, then tossing it with salt, pepper, olive oil, sage, and rosemary and roasting on a cookie sheet at
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  • 19 Harvest Mac ‘N Cheese

    It’s feeling like fall outside and that’s put me in the mood for fall cooking.  In recent years, I’ve fallen madly in love with winter squash (particularly butternut squash and pumpkin) and endeavor to cook with it as much as possible between September and December.  This afternoon, I kicked off Squash Fest 2012 by dicing and roasting a massive butternut beauty and then making Harvest Mac ‘N Cheese and Rustic Squash Sausage Soup (recipe forthcoming). This mac ‘n cheese is wonderful.  I adapted it from a recipe I picked up at a farmer’s market a few years ago.  I hate
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  • 19 Bagel-Induced Whistfulness

    I missed Pittsburgh yesterday. For the most part, I’ve settled in nicely to small town country life.  I like the slow pace, the gorgeous countryside, and the sound of cows mooing in the fields.  But every now and again, something makes me long for the conveniences of urban living. Like bagels.   photo source Yesterday was Miss Mouse’s assigned day to be Snack Provider for her class.  Because we parents are new at this, the teacher gave specific instructions for the first round of snack-bringing and Miss Mouse was asked to bring bagels and cream cheese. In Pittsburgh, this would
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  • 17 Defining “Productive” in This Season

    I’ve been struggling a bit with finding my rhythm now that the kids are both in “school” full-time.  I work part-time from home after several years of 40 hours a week in an office with another few hours of commuting thrown in.  There are suddenly a lot of extra hours in the day and I’ve felt this nagging sense that I wasn’t utilizing them fully. And, I’ll be honest.  I felt guilty that I had so much free time to myself away from the kids.  I’m a mother of two.  Shouldn’t my every waking moment be filled with caring for
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  • 15 When Meal Planning Really Makes a Difference

    I got into the habit of meal planning many years ago while studying abroad in Scotland.  The grocery store was a verrry long walk up and down some verrrry steep hills.  I had no car and was not about to make that trek more than absolutely necessary. Thus, I started building a weekly menu to limit my shopping excursions. The habit stuck and I continue to draft weekly food plans which I post on the fridge.  I don’t always stick to them exactly, but I’ve found they help bring order to our lives.  The meal plan makes the biggest difference
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  • 14 Where Babies Come From

    As we’ve announced the news of the forthcoming Baby 3, many people have voiced questions about The Adoption.  After all, the last thing most of our friends (and even family!) had heard about our family plans, we were waiting patiently to be matched with an infant from Africa. We’re still waiting. And we’ll probably be waiting for quite some time. Unfortunately, a number of factors have led to a huge slowdown in the adoption process for the country we are working with.  Government regulations have changed a lot in the last year — with much tighter processes and more stringent
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  • 13 Thoughts on Morning Sickness

    Every now and again, you hear stories of women who don’t know they’re pregnant until they give birth.  I never fail to be completely and utterly baffled, bewildered, perplexed, and vaguely irritated by these stories.  Part of my brain simply cannot accept that these stories can be true (surely they were just in denial).  And if the stories are true, then I find myself hating the wenches for making it through forty weeks of pregnancy with no inconvenient symptoms. I am fourteen weeks pregnant (YAY!) and have yakked up my dinner on 29 of the last 32 days.  Add in
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  • 9 In which my best friend gets married and I rejoice

    I’m back!  Literally and figuratively.  I gave myself a week off from the blog while I returned to the Steel City to celebrate the marriage of my best friend.  That’s us below, fall of 1999.  We were young, bright, and utterly assured of our own fabulousness. To borrow a few lines from my (not-too-shabby-if-I-do-say-so-myself) Maid of Honor Speech…“Every once in a while – if you’re lucky – you encounter a person with whom you form an instant connection.  You cross paths with someone and immediately a voice pipes up in your head – “That’s a kindred spirit.” That’s Meg and
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August 2012

  • 31 Porch Sitting and Clog Dancing

    One thing I love about our new sitz im leben is that we live on Main Street.  It just sounds small-town, doesn’t it?  Main Street is actually a state highway and there’s a little more traffic than I’d prefer, but we have spent many happy hours sitting on our front porch, watching the world go by.  In Pittsburgh, we lived in the last house on a dead end street with zero traffic.  None.  Except people who didn’t believe the “dead end” sign and turned around in our driveway. My kids love the hustle and bustle.  They wave to cars and
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  • 29 Phonics Festivities

    At school, Miss Mouse is starting work on phonics.  I’m interested to see how this goes because I’ve realized that she currently has virtually no grasp of the concept.  Oh, she knows her letters and can spell several words (her name, mom, dad, nana, etc.) but she doesn’t truly understand the sounds that the letters make. Every week, her class focuses on a different sound and one way that they reinforce that sound is to have a sort of show-and-tell on Thursdays.  Each child is asked to select several small objects that begin with the sound of the week and
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  • 27 Saving Dough, Going Green

    What does $75 well-spent look like?  This. That’s a big chunk of my back-to-school shopping for the kiddos (not including the awesome haul my folks picked up using their Kohl’s-sale-mojo).  I hit a big consignment sale at a local church and made out like a bandit. I love shopping for second-hand clothes for the kiddos for two big reasons.  Number 1 — it’s cheap.  Like, really cheap.  You have to keep an eye out for quality infractions (like stains and rips), but if you find things in good shape you will save big. Two illustrations.  I got an Old Navy
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  • 21 Taking Time for the Ripples

    It rained this afternoon.  A sudden summer downpour that caught me just as I was arriving home with the kids.   By the time I got them out of their car seats and into the house we were drenched and laughing.  The deluge cooled the weather off to a glorious 70 degrees and after dinner, we set out on foot for a short stroll around the neighborhood. We were almost home when we came across a puddle in the road.  And there we stopped.  It wasn’t a particularly impressive puddle.  Just a little accumulation of muddy water on a country
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  • 20 Idealists Are People Too

    I talk a good game when it comes to intentional parenting.  We’re mindful about things like too much sugar and too much television.  We try to spend a lot of time outside playing and to eat real food.  When my son asked me to paint his toenails pink, I did because I don’t want to instill gender stereotypes in him already. But sometimes, even the most committed idealist throws the rules out the window. Yup, that’s my kids — both of them — sitting on the floor, eating pizza, and watching Toy Story 3. We were visiting Josh’s brother for
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  • 18 Quiet Shoes

    I’m quickly learning that the “vibe” of Montessori learning is very different from the daycare/preschool that Miss Mouse attended in Pittsburgh.   Her classroom there was full of hustle and bustle.  Lots of activity — much of it boisterous — and lots of brightly-color art on the walls, rugs on the floor, and chairs in the reading nooks.  I liked it.  It was cheerful. The word that better describes the Montessori world is “serene.”  There isn’t a lot of art on the walls and what is posted is usually “real” art — like an actual painting — not kid art.
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  • 15 Escalation

    To heck with CPR classes and breastfeeding support groups.  The kind of parenting education I’d really like to see offered at the local YMCA is terrorist deescalation training hosted by the FBI. Seriously. At the moment, this is the struggle I’m facing with my firstborn.  Once a disciplinary action is called for — or even a firm line drawn in the sand — the situation quickly escalates (or deteriorates, depending on your direction of preference) into an all-out screaming fit.  And I don’t know how to prevent that trajectory. Take this evening.  We had an awesome day.  It was Miss Mouse’s
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  • 13 Music to Learn By

    This weekend, I attended a “work day” at Miss Mouse’s new school.  This was a parents-only event where we helped her teacher prepare the classroom for the school year.  We labeled file folders, cut out name tags, sorted craft drawers, and generally got things organized.  It was a great opportunity to spend some time with Miss Mouse’s teacher and a few other parents, talking, working, and munching on chocolate donuts.  Mmmm. While we were working, it gradually registered that the music I heard was an instrumental version of the great aria from the opera, Carmen.  (Note that I hate opera
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  • 12 Bad Kitty on Endless Repeat

    After much inner debate, I’ve instituted Saturday Night Movies with Miss Mouse.  After Buggie’s in bed, she’s allowed to watch 30 minutes of a movie of her choice with Josh and me before we pack her off to bed.  She loves it.  Her favorite movie is “Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue.”  You probably haven’t seen it.  Unless, of course, you have a daughter under the age of seven in which case you probably have.  Repeatedly. In any case, it’s absolutely fascinating to see what an almost-four-year-old who doesn’t watch a lot of TV takes away from a movie.  In
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  • 11 Choosing Montessori

    As I’ve mentioned in passing, we’ve enrolled Miss Mouse in a Montessori program.  She’ll be spending at least the next three years at DMS (____ Montessori School).  That trajectory would have her complete her kindergarten year at DMS, then roll into first grade in public school. I hadn’t really considered Montessori education while we lived in Pittsburgh because I loved our daycare/preschool and the public schools are excellent.  But when faced with the prospect of moving to rural Kentucky, I had a moment of educational panic and signed my girl up “just in case” because I’d heard good things about
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  • 7 That Time Elvis Came to Walmart

    Hands down, the best thing I’ve seen this week is our church youth group performing a dance routine to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” pop hit.  Seriously.  It was part of our Rally Day Sunday where we kick off the fall year of Sunday school.  My kiddos (even Buggie) performed “Peace Like a River” complete with hand-jive, but the older kids stole the show.  While perhaps not a traditional church tune, it was definitely well received. Here’s a few other things I’m loving this week: 1) The Elvis impersonator (resplendent in his sparkly blue leisure suit) serenading us outside the
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  • 3 School Supplies for the Under-Two Set

    School down here starts early.  Really early.  Our local K-12 is already in session.  Miss Mouse starts at her new school on the 15th and Buggie’s daycare (which insists on calling itself a school) begins on the 13th.  Thus it was that I queued up with half the world at the local Walmart yesterday to buy school supplies. Ironically, they weren’t for my firstborn.  No, no.  It was Buggie who came home last week with a chirpy note from his new teacher and a school supply list tucked into his lunch bag. Let us recall, shall we, that my son
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  • 2 Manual Labor

    Here’s a funny truth about kids: they enjoy manual labor. I don’t know when exactly it is that kids develop ferocious allergies to all chores, but when they’re little, nothing is more fun than cleaning.* Both my kiddos are currently enchanted by housework.  Miss Mouse loves to “help mommy” when I’m putzing around the house.  She begs to help me load laundry and push the buttons.  She asks for a sponge so she can clean the table.  She emerged from the bathroom the other day, spritz bottle in hand, and announced that she’d cleaned it.  And don’t get me started
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July 2012

  • 31 Christmas in July

    “Christmas is coming.  The goose is getting fat.” “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” What?  Too soon?  You don’t want to hear Christmas carols quite yet? Well, I have news for you, friends.  The holiday season will be upon us soon.  I know this because the women of our church have already begun plans and discussions for the holiday craft bazaar.  It’s go time. In preparation for the upcoming bazaar, I hauled all of my unfinished craft projects out of the closet. I was a bit alarmed by the quantity.  (And, I confess, there were several not pictured
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  • 30 The Mouse Aquatic (2012 Update)

    Two years ago, I wrote a post with the same title that included a video of Miss Mouse frolicking in the pool at my parents’ condo.  Two years later, my girl still likes the water.  And now, she’s taking big girl swim lessons.  I get choked up every time I watch. Seriously. There’s something about watching her in the pool with her teacher that hits me in the tear ducts.  She loves her lessons (and her teacher).  She hasn’t been fussy or timid or whiny.  She’s just confident and happy. She hefts her little body onto her kickboard or her
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  • 27 When Life Gives You Zucchini

    You know that old saying — “When life gives you zucchini…make quiche.” You don’t?  Huh.  That’s odd.  You must not live in the land of serious home gardeners. There’s a whole lotta zucchini around here, despite the weird summer weather we’ve had.  Faced with a truly ridiculous supply of summer squash and a sizable bag of home-grown tomatoes, I did what any normal person would do.  I went on a quiche-making binge.  Part of our church’s Free Farmer’s Market is a free hot breakfast for all comers, so I planned ahead, grated a lot of cheese, cracked a lot of
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  • 25 File Under: Slicker, City

    Overheard at our house the other night… Me: “Dang, honey.  We have some really loud bugs in our backyard.” Josh: “Um, those aren’t bugs.  Those are frogs.” Me: “Frogs?  No way.” Josh: “Yeah, they live in our tree.” Me: “Now you’re just being silly.  Frogs in the trees?  Be serious.” Josh: “Haven’t you ever heard of tree frogs?” … … Um, well, yes.  Now that you phrase it like that.  I suppose I have.  I thought they were indigenous to South America, though, and generally poisonous.  I didn’t expect them to be lurking in my backyard.

  • 22 Rib Eyes and Rain Storms

    Um, don’t hate me, but summer is almost over. No, I’m serious.  Schools around here will be back in session on or around August 1st.  Miss Mouse starts at her new “big girl” (aka Montessori) school on the 15th of August.  Egad. But that’s a freak out for another day.  At the moment, we’re still living it up in an endless summer.  Five things I’m loving this week: 1) Rib eye sandwiches with grilled onions. 2) Puzzles on the porch with Miss Mouse. 3) Grandpa Larry coming to town!  We’ve made a lot of memories this trip — my kids
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  • 21 Be Still, Momma

    We took the kids to the Explorium in Lexington yesterday.  It’s a nice children’s museum — nothing spectacular, but plenty to keep the kids occupied for a few hours.  Actually, there was one exhibit alone that could have kept them occupied for a few hours. The piece-de-resistance for both kids was one of those giant funnels.  You know, the kind you see at the mall sometimes raising money for charity – set a penny whirling and it goes around and around and around and around in decreasing arcs until it drops into the collection bin below.  This one had marbles,
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  • 18 Hide and Seek. Or not.

    I will give you one and only one guess as to where Miss Mouse was hiding when the above picture was snapped. Playing hide-and-seek with a 20-month little brother in tow is a bit complicated.  Miss Mouse isn’t very good at picking hiding places yet so my main role in the game is to loudly “search” for her while studiously avoiding looking in the general direction of her very obvious hiding spots. But poor Buggie doesn’t understand that part of the game.  I’ll dramatically say — “Where is Miss Mouse??” — and he’ll march over next to her, and point,
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  • 17 A Date with My Daughter

    Have you ever noticed how you can get so caught up in the daily grind of parenting that you forget how much you actually like your kids? Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids all the time.  But sometimes, my interactions with them become a blur of diaper changes, temper tantrums, picked-at dinners, lost shoes, squabbles over toys, whiny pleading for cookies, battles with the car seats, and just One More Story Before Bedtime.  It’s easy to forget that my kids are actually pretty cool little people with whom I enjoy spending time. I was reminded of this fact
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  • 15 The Ultimate Car Toy

    Traveling to my home town for our Week of Summer Grandparental Fun required spending eight hours in the car with the kiddos.  Each way.  Now, to some veteran traveling families this might not seem like a lot.  I have  a friend who drove from her home in Texas to the Outer Banks with an infant in the car.   I love her dearly.  And I believe she may be slightly insane. In any case, I agonized for many hours over how best to entertain my children in the car.  I polled my friends, read some mommy blogs, and packed about
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  • 12 Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

    This week, I got to live out one of my “parenting visions” — you know, those things you imagine you’re going to do with your kids once you have them.  Like going to Disney Land.  Or spending a week at Grandpa & Grandma’s! Last Friday, I packed the kids and half our belongings (it seemed) into the van and headed north to my parents’ place in Illinois.  I’ve spent a week sleeping in the house I grew up in, introducing my kids to all that’s awesome about my old stomping grounds.  Here’s seven things I loved about our trip, because
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  • 11 Doing What Comes Naturally

    Sometimes, when you’re a parent, situations spiral out of your control.  Take this afternoon.  My kids were playing outside in the wading pool, splashing and being silly.  Buggie suddenly exits the pool and squats in the grass with a look of intense concentration. Uh oh.  I know that look. Instead of whisking him inside to a) sit on the potty or b) put on a diaper, I (foolishly) offer to pull his trunks down, allowing him to do his business unencumbered.  He readily agrees… …and then Miss Mouse announces her intentions as well and pulls down her swimsuit. Uh oh.
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  • 6 Jesus Loves You. Have a Zucchini.

    When we interviewed at CountryChurch, one thing that immediately caught my eye was an outreach activity called the Free Farmers Market.  The name says it all — throughout the summer, the folks of the church plant extra rows in their (really big) home gardens, then give away the extra produce (along with homemade baked goods) at a free farmer’s market at the church on the last Saturday of the month. Swoon. Could anything be cooler?  Oh wait, yes.  They also serve a free hot breakfast to anyone who happens by.  Biscuits and gravy.  Egg casserole.  Muffins.  The works. Everything about
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  • 5 Back Off, Mom

    My son is almost two-years-old.  In his mind, this makes him a grown up. Buggie has started displaying a decided streak of independence in recent weeks and when that boy has an opinion, you know.  Heck, the  whole world knows. Let’s take ice cream as an example.  We have a favorite soft-serve place in the college town nearby.  It’s bliss.  There’s a whole wall of dispensers and you help yourself, then load on toppings at a buffet line of candy, nuts, cereal, and fresh fruit.  You pay by weight.  We go there with alarming regularity. Anyways, I generally let Miss
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  • 3 Paradise Amidst the Cornfields

    My mom recently stumbled across an essay I wrote in the fall of my senior year in high school for an English class. I’d totally forgotten about it, but it’s fun to read it now, fourteen years later (yikes) having just left our urban dwelling to take refuge in the country! I’m happy to say my deep-seated fear of cities has faded with age, but much of what I wrote then still rings true today. Paradise Amidst the Cornfields October, 1998 The beautiful postcards showing the majestic, sweeping skyline of Chicago as viewed from Lake Michigan are…….illusions, hiding the true
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  • 3 A Veritable Chatter Bug

    Confession time: I blog more about Miss Mouse than about Buggie.  I know this.  Poor little brother.  His milestones get less notice than hers did and she’s forever having milestones of her own!  This is why younger siblings can wind up with a complex. But I’m currently reveling in my son’s increased vocabulary.  He’s been slower to pick up spoken language than Miss Mouse.  I don’t know if that’s a function of being a boy, being a second-born with a big sister who doesn’t let him get a word in edgewise, or the fact that we just don’t read to
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  • 2 It’s Not You, It’s Me

    I think it’s vital that all moms have at least one close friend who can speak truth into their life.  Parenting is tough work.  It wraps you up in knots, shatters your self-confidence, and takes years from your life — even as it is making the years you do have infinitely more joyous than you could have imagined.  You can’t do it alone. Last night, I was on the phone with one such dear friend, talking about Brave Girls or the lack thereof.  Her daughter is about 8 months older than Miss Mouse and much of what I know of
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  • 1 A Spontaneous and Fun Splash Fest

    Given that it’s a million degrees here, we’re doing what we can to stay cool.  This often involves water-based activities.  We have access to a variety of great swimming options, from a terrific community pool to a lovely in-ground pool at a church member’s house.  But for spontaneous fun, we turn to the little inflatable pool in the backyard. By now, the seasoned parents in the crowd are already chuckling to themselves, waiting for the punch line. Spontaneous?  With kids?  Surely you jest. When we want to play in the pool outside, here’s the checklist: Inflate pool. Fill pool with
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June 2012

  • 30 Happy in the Heat Wave

    It’s been 100 degrees (or more) for the past three days.  It hasn’t rained this month.  At All.  My herbs are wilting and my grass is dead.  The water in our blow up pool was actually too hot to play in this afternoon until I dumped in a big bucket of ice. In honor of the heat wave, here are five things I’m loving this week, in no particular order: 1) Air Conditioning 2) Air Conditioning 3) Air Conditioning 4) Air Conditioning 5) Air Conditioning   photo credit: Randy Son of Robert

  • 28 Teach Me to Be Brave

    I think of myself as a strong, confident woman.  More than anything, I want my daughter to be confident in her own abilities.  I want her to lead rather than follow.  To be brave because she knows that she can overcome any obstacle. But I am at a loss for how to teach her this. The truth is, Miss Mouse is a weenie.  (And, sweetie, if you’re reading this ten years from now, know that I say that with nothing but love.)  She tends to be timid and a fearful.  She defaults into whine mode at the drop of a
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  • 26 I Don’t Care To

    I had prepared myself for some language quirks when we moved to the country.  I fully expected people to say things like “ya’ll” and “yonder” in everyday conversation.  But there’s one phrase that has me completely baffled. If I said to you — “I don’t care to go to a movie tonight” — would you start checking show times and making plans? No, you would not.  Because that particular phrase clearly implies a negative feeling toward the suggestion.  The speakers “does not care” to go to the movie.  Meaning, they don’t want to go. WRONG. Around these parts, the phase
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  • 24 Ichthus

    Since the move, I’ve made it my mission to carpe a few more diems.  Most of the time, this involves doing fun stuff with my kids.  This weekend, for example, we drove to Cincinnati to spend the day at the zoo on Friday then spent all of Saturday romping at our church’s Vacation Bible School. But I seized Saturday night for myself and joined my husband at Ichthus. Geshundeit. No, no.  Although you can be forgiven for mistaking Ichthus for a sneeze, it is actually a big Christian music festival that is held each year at a rolling farm not
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  • 21 Toes and Herbs and Summer Tunes

    Our summer of bliss rolls on.  Here’s what I’m loving this week: 1) Cooking with fresh basil from my garden.  So far I’ve made tomato basil flat bread, basil chicken with coconut milk, and a Mediterranean tuna bean salad (with fresh basil, of course). 2) My daughter’s pinkly-painted toenails.  I want to kiss them.  I resist, lest my husband never kiss me again. 3) The ridiculous assortment of genres and eras that makes up the public swimming pool soundtrack. 4) Cheap gas — $3.19 a gallon around these parts. 5) Making a new friend…and discovering that we have at least
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  • 18 A Short Homily on Expectations

    At our church in Pittsburgh, the kiddos didn’t come to “big church.”  Miss Mouse sometimes sat with me for a few minutes at the beginning, but always sprinted for the upstairs nursery as quickly as possible.  It was a relief to both of us, since she never did all that well in the pews.  There was an unfortunate incident one time involving a crayon and a hymnal.  Shudder. In CountryChurch, however, the setup is different.  They have a fantastic Sunday School curriculum for young kids which takes place at the same time as adult Sunday school — before church.  During
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  • 17 Stay at Home Family

    As Josh and I contemplated our future and searched for a new church, one of my stipulations was that I wanted us to find a situation where I didn’t have to work full time.  I wanted to spend more time with the kids because I felt like their babyhood was flying by at an alarming rate. So now I’m spending one day (including one verrry long hour) a week one-on-one with the kiddos and also doing family bonding time on Fridays which is Josh’s day off.  I’ve learned something already: I love spending time with my kids…and my husband. The
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  • 11 The Longest Hour of the Day

    Mondays have been dubbed Mom-Days in our house.  Josh works.  I spend the day with the kids, bonding and making memories. It’s a good theory, but it’s dependent on all of us surviving the longest hour of the day, which just happens to be from 8am to 9am. I’m not quite sure why this particular hour is the Bermuda triangle of time around our house but it is.  The kids are up (usually for at least an hour, sometimes more like two) and have been fed.  It’s too early to start Adventures for the Day as nothing (NOTHING) seems to
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  • 9 In which we go camping. At last.

    I’ll be the first to acknowledge it: we could have gone camping with the kids while we lived in Pittsburgh.  I had friends who did it regularly.  But we never did.  It always just felt like such a big production.  We were urban dwellers and “nature” felt like a long way off. We had the best of intentions, I swear.  When Josh and I got married, one of my favorite wedding gifts was a tent. We used it once.  Sigh. But we’re country folk now, and country folk camp.  Determined not to let inertia drag us down, we packed up
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  • 5 The Things I Love This Week

    It seems like there’s always something new to love around here.  Or maybe I’m just getting better at counting my blessings.  Either way, I’m thinking this may become a regular blog topic, though I don’t promise five items each time. At the moment, here’s what I’m loving about my life and town: 1) A church member showing up at our backdoor this evening with fresh eggs from their chickens. 2) Walking to the only sit-down restaurant in town for lunch with my husband. 3) The smell of sunscreen on my kids. 4) Four new kittens at our neighbor’s house. 5)
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  • 4 I love you. Have a casserole.

    As we’re settling into (and loving every second of) small town life, my kitchen has been getting a workout.  I’ve always believed that food is at the heart of hospitality — my parents taught me that! — and that mindset is definitely evident around here, too. It started with an old-fashioned picnic on our first Sunday at CountryChurch.  The members turned out en masse to welcome us with pasta salads, brownies, burgers, and watermelon.  Although assured repeatedly that it wasn’t necessary, I made potato salad.  You can’t come empty-handed to a potluck! Then there was the Night of the 15
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  • 2 Where’s the Beef?

    I started and ended my day with steak — steak and eggs for breakfast and a rib-eye steak sandwich for dinner.  I know that the health-conscious folks out there will be cringing at this unseemly protein binge, but those health-conscious folks weren’t at the SmallCounty Beef Festival. Yup, Beef Festival. Yeehaw! It was a lot like a county fair, but the livestock was mostly all cooked.  The day kicked off with breakfast (steak, of course) and focused around a big grill-off with dozens of groups showing off their burgers and barbecues to win the prize.  There was a little petting
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  • 1 Labor of Lunch

    One of the main reasons that my part-time work schedule is feasible is that day care is cheap down here.  Really cheap.  Less than half what it is in Pittsburgh, cheap.   In fairness, we had the kids in the Cadillac of day cares in Pittsburgh and the options down here are more limited, but it’s still an amazing boon to our budget. With the less expensive care comes the need to pack lunches, though.  Our old center provided snacks and hot meals to all the kiddos.  The new place does the snacks (which appear to involve regular doses of cheese puffs,
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May 2012

  • 30 Finding Our Stride

    We’ve been here almost two weeks and I feel like we’re settling in.  There are still a couple boxes mocking me in the den but otherwise we’re all unpacked.  The kiddos started at their new ‘school’ this week and I dragged my mind back to the working world. Thanks to the wonders of telecommuting, I’m still working for the same fabulous nonprofit I worked for in Pittsburgh.   Miss Mouse and Buggie will spend three days each week playing with their friends at daycare while I do Public Relations work, including writing newsletters, publishing web content, and cultivating media relations.
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  • 27 Why I Bought the Big Table

    When we were picking out furniture for our new home, I insisted on buying a gigantic dining room table.  We ended up with a lovely pine piece with an antique stain that can easily seat eight and expands to handle 12 in a pinch.  Why did I need such a monstrosity for my family of four? That’s why. When we began the search for a new church home, I knew that I wanted to join a community.  I want my church family to be part of my life, not just my Sunday mornings. We always meant for that to be
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  • 25 Five Things I’m Loving

    As we get settled here in SmallTownUSA, I’m finding no shortage of things I enjoy about our new Sitz im Leben.   My re-acquaintance with mosquitoes after a blissful separation during the Pittsburgh years is not one of those things, but I digress. Here’s a quick Top Five list of things I’m loving: 1) The cows milling and mooing about in the field just beyond our backyard. 2) The sound of the train going through town. 3) Fireflies!  (Already!) 4) Walking to The Depot for chocolate milkshakes after dinner. 5) The hardwood floors in my house.  Swoon. I hope you’re finding many things that
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  • 23 Pilgrimage to the Recycling Center

    Given that our fair hamlet does not have to-your-door postal delivery, it is unsurprising that they also lack curbside recycling pickup.  However, periodically a trailer appears at the municipal building and you can bring your recyclables there. Thus it was that Miss Mouse, Buggie, Riley Dog, my father, and I mounted an expedition to the recycling spot this afternoon with our goods.  The site is only a few blocks from our house (just like everything else in SmallTownUSA) so we opted to go on foot.  I packed Buggie into his backpack, leashed the hound, and tucked Miss Mouse and the
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  • 21 Milkshakes and Melons

    I got my first — “are ya’ll from around here?” — question today.  It was kindly offered by a gentleman I met at the local convenience store/pizza parlor.  We were checking out the offerings of our small hamlet and had popped into The Depot as part of an after dinner walk. I don’t think that baby backpacks and jogging strollers are hugely common around these parts! But the milkshakes we’d seen advertised were yum, and everyone in the family indulged. Earlier in the day, we’d enjoyed a lazy afternoon of eating watermelon on the porch, watching the cars go by.
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  • 20 Getting Settled

    My husband’s family moved a lot while he was growing up.  A lot.  12 houses in his first 24 years of life, a lot.  So it’s no surprise that they are expert movers.  They’ve got the process down to a science and one of the central tenants of their moving philosophy is to unpack everything.  Immediately. Thus it was that the moving truck arrived at our new house Wednesday morning and by the time the kids and I arrived Thursday morning all the furniture was roughly where it belonged, the bookshelves were filled, the DVDs all organized, and the linens
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  • 19 Roosters. Or was it chickadees?

    We’ve arrived safely in SmallTownUSA and are getting settled.  I hope to get back to posting regularly soon, but for now, allow me to share a brief Country Living Vignette. Thursday night was our first in our new house.  At approximately 5:45am Friday morning, I was awakened from peaceful slumber by my husband who sat bolt upright in bed and shouted — “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT???” Good morning to you, too, darling. After a bit of groggy deliberation, we determined that the raucous noise which had disturbed his slumber was… …birds. Not roosters crowing, as one might expect in
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  • 13 Science with Nana

    The other evening, while I was doing some packing, I began to catch snatches of an animated and excited conversation taking place in the kitchen between Miss Mouse and my mother. When I wandered in, I found them leaning intently over the counter, with a few small bowls set before them.  The bowls were filled with random ingredients — rice, pasta, lentils, coffee, oatmeal, etc. — as well as some water.  A science experiment was under way. Which was heavier?  The oatmeal or the rice? What would happen to the pasta if they put it in water?  What if the
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  • 11 An Observation About Moving

    Leaving would be much easier if I didn’t cry at the drop of a hat.  It makes the goodbyes pretty emotionally draining.  But they’re mostly done, now.  We’ve said our farewells to daycare friends, and seminary friends, and work friends. There was sniffling at all occasions.  My eyes may be permanently puffy. Moving is awesome.  Leaving sucks.

  • 11 Driving the Bus in High-Heeled Shoes

    Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess. She liked fancy clothes and beautiful shoes and took every opportunity to wear them. For a princess knows that when you wear your garb with grace and poise, all occasions become appropriate for formal wear. Including riding a train. And driving a bus. And climbing on a tractor. And chasing a fire engine. But even a princess gets tired sometimes, and when she begins to disrobe in public, the queen knows it’s time to head home.

  • 8 Farewell with Garden Sprinkles

    This is the kids’ last week at daycare and we’ve been making plans for how to wind things down for Miss Mouse.  I’m quite sure that she doesn’t truly grasp that her friends from school won’t be coming to Kentucky with us, and when she does start to have an inkling, she gets sad.  This is the tough part of moving. But she’s cheered by the prospect of bringing treats to school on Friday and I’m working on assembling a photo album of pictures of her daycare buddies.  Her teachers are helping to ensure that everyone is duly photographed being
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  • 6 Strawberry Shortcake (Recipe)

    When it’s strawberry season (as it so indisputably is), my go-to dessert is naturally strawberry shortcake.  We have a quick and easy family recipe that never lets me down, though I do occasionally let it down.  Once I forgot the butter.  And last time I accidentally doubled only the milk.  But if you do actually manage to add all the ingredients in the correct order, this cake will return your love. I usually bake it in muffin tins so I can keep some in the freezer to whip out when we spontaneously need a little strawberry smackeral. Strawberry Shortcake 2
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  • 4 Save Money by Feeding Your Kids Less

    Ha!  Caught your attention with that title, didn’t I? Before you speed-dial Child Protective Services, allow me to explain.  I’ve lamented before about the amount of food we waste at my house.  One response has been to take leftovers to work for lunch, helping to cut down on food that goes down the disposal. But my children are also notorious food wasters.  Infamous, even.   I don’t believe in forcing kids to clean their plates — it fosters really unhealthy attitudes toward food and paves the way for a lifetime of poor eating habits — but I had begun to
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  • 3 Suspicions. And Roots.

    Pittsburghers don’t understand Kentucky. The nearly-universal response I’ve gotten from ‘Burgh friends when I tell them we’re moving to the Bluegrass State is one of mild horror.  The eyebrows raise, then furrow.  The nose wrinkles slightly.  And the question inevitably follows: “why?” What’s ironic about this response is that it’s almost exactly the way my Midwestern friends reacted to news of my move to the Steel City nine years ago. People are snooty about other geographies, it seems. What’s interesting, though, is that ‘Burgh Folk do understand roots.   The moment I tell someone that my husband is from Kentucky, their attitude
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  • 2 Prelude to the Pack

    My friends and co-workers ask me daily “how the packing is going.” It’s going. Slowly. We’ve begun corralling our possessions, packing the easy items — like our many books — in fits and starts at night after the kids are in bed. But I confess that I haven’t really gotten serious about packing it all up quite yet.  I’m taking Friday off work to devote myself to the endeavor, but in the meantime, I’ve been laying the groundwork by systematically inventorying (and purging) as many areas as I can. I am absolutely determined not to pack and move random crap
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April 2012

  • 30 The Cutthroat World of Party Games

    I’m competitive by nature.  I like to win and I make no apologies for it.  It does make me sad that my husband refuses to play board games with me, but we’ve discovered through trial and error that this is in the best interest of our marriage. I discovered this weekend that there are few things which bring out my inner competitor like… …baby shower games. Look, I know what you’re thinking.  It’s a baby shower.  It’s sappy and sweet and fun and silly and the games are generally dumb so what’s the big deal? I have no idea.  But
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  • 27 Getting the Sale After the Fact

    I bought a dress last week, which was weird.  I don’t buy dresses, mostly because I don’t wear dresses.   Including the one I just bought, I have four dresses in my closet: my failed first wedding dress,* a flashy pink number I wore to a friend’s wedding a couple years ago and haven’t worn since, and a sparkly black strapless number I wore to a sorority formal in college and am holding on to out of the vain and delusional hope that my armpit flab may someday recede to pre-baby levels. Suffice to say, I don’t do dresses. Except
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  • 25 How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You Yes?

    I knew that a child whining for something they can’t have was one of the most annoying sounds in the history of mankind.  Little did I realize — until I became the mother of a three-year-old — that a child whining for something they can have is actually even worse. Miss Mouse struggles with the word “yes.”  At least when the yes involves waiting.  While she can demonstrate admirable delayed gratification skills when they’re on her own terms, when someone else is mandating the delay, it’s less easy.  The conversations tend to go like this. Miss Mouse  (5pm): “Can I
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  • 23 Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mouse

    After years of smiling appreciatively at pages of artistic scribble, I suddenly realized that — seemingly overnight — Miss Mouse has actually started drawing real pictures.   Her hand-eye coordination is improving and she’s able to produce recognizable objects.  It’s a fun new development! Miss Mouse’s favorite artistic genre is portraiture.  Below we have a self portrait as well as a thoughtful rendering of yours truly.  You can tell us apart, obviously, by the differing hair length.  Mine is a nice, short (flat) toupee, while her own image captures her flowing locks.  You can tell she’s proud of the fact
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  • 21 15 Boxes of Books

    We packed our library yesterday.  There it is.  Fifteen boxes of books.  I can’t decide if it looks like a lot, or like surprisingly little, considering what book fiends we are. Of course, those fifteen boxes don’t include the (many) theological tomes residing at Josh’s office. Nor the volumes living on our respective e-readers.  Nor the approximately two boxes of miscellaneous anthologies and whatnots in our den that haven’t been packed yet.  Nor the three small bookcases of children’s books belonging to our offspring. Yeah, okay.  We have a lot of books.

  • 20 Countdown to Grace

    The paper chain in the living room is getting shorter and suddenly our move is looming.  We’re all in countdown mode, though I think we each have our own personal finish line. Josh is counting down to a new calling, a chance to grow in ministry and be challenged by new experiences and opportunities. I’m counting down to a change in lifestyle, a slower pace, a more connected community, more time with my kids, and fresh veggies from the garden. Miss Mouse is counting down to Grace. Grace is seven and a member of our new church.  The two girls
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  • 18 Mother Earth vs. Giant Garbage Bag

    I’m now into my forty-second consecutive month of cloth diapering so I guess it’s safe to say I’m pretty committed to the practice.  I’ll be the first to admit that my primary motivations for choosing cloth were financial (it saves big bucks by the time you’re on kid two) and aesthetic (large fluffy butts adorned in primary colors and swirling patterns are super cute) but I wanted do be kind to Mother Earth as well.  We’ve kept a lot of disposable diapers out of the landfill over the past three-and-a-half years. Unfortunately, my “diapers in daycare” experience has often be
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  • 16 Twenty Kids – Plus Sugar

    One of the things that will be difficult to leave behind when we move is the parent network I’ve been cultivating for the past three and a half years.  It takes a village to survive being a parent (never mind raising a well-adjusted child — that takes more like an entire sub-continent) and I believe in building community.  It’s what I do. Thus I’ve worked hard to form relationships with other parents at our daycare, organizing events like mom’s night out, trips to the pumpkin patch, and cookie-decorating parties.  It seemed only natural that we should host some sort of
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  • 13 Simple Ham Soup (Recipe)

    Inspired by a recent post on my favorite blog and by the many pounds of leftover Easter ham hanging out in my refrigerator, I made a mammoth batch of ham soup this week.  It wasn’t part of my meal plan.  It was destined for the freezer.  I threw the ingredients together one evening, let it cook in the crock pot over night, then promptly froze it in one-cup lunch portions for future meals. This is a go-to recipe in my life and it never lets me down.  Cheap, easy, and remarkably healthy (it points at about 4 points per cup
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  • 11 We don’t judge. But we do laugh.

    I like to think that I’m a parent who supports her children, even when they make decisions that I question. Like this. I swear to you, this was his decision. This picture has been filed under “Future Wedding Slide Show.”

  • 9 Upstaged by a Chocolate Egg

    I had big plans for my daughter’s Easter basket.  We don’t do magical chocolate-toting bunnies at our house, but I grew up loving Easter baskets full of goodies so we’re keeping that part of the tradition.  But I had valiant hopes of keeping the holiday from being a sugar binge and came up with a candy candy alternative for Miss Mouse’s basket. I bought a slew of really fun hair ties and tucked them into plastic eggs.  The eggs joined a very cool silver heart chime my mother bought her in the basket. It was perfect. Or so I thought.
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  • 7 In which I discover that Disney is scary

    Miss Mouse had a sleepover at my parents’ house last  night.  It was her first time sleeping away from home without mom or dad on hand.  She did great — I got a little choked up.  My folks pulled out all the stops to make the night special.  There was pizza for dinner, followed by an amazing Easter egg cookie. And Miss Mouse got to help Nana make breakfast this morning. But the main attraction was that Miss Mouse got to watch a movie.  This Was Huge.  We just don’t do movies and TV with the kids.  Miss Mouse and
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  • 5 Where Everybody Knows Your House

    And now, a brief vignette in what I suspect will become an ongoing series around the theme of — “You know you live in a small town when…” I’d been told that the wee country town we’re moving to didn’t have home mail delivery (on account of its aforementioned wee-ness) and so I called the post office yesterday to inquire about setting up a post office box.  I had a lovely conversation with a nice lady named Regina that went something like this. Me: Hi there!  My husband and I will be moving to SmallTownUSA next month.  I understand there
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  • 2 The Hair Salon

    Buggie and Miss Mouse have a new game: they do each other’s hair. Miss Mouse has (finally) embraced the concept of hair styling and likes for me to do ponytails and pigtails and braids and whatnot.  She also just likes to have her hair played with, so perhaps it’s no surprise that she’s taught her brother to indulge her. “Buggie, do my hair,” she’ll command, plunking down in front of him.  And darned if he doesn’t oblige.  His styling tool of choice is a pair of plastic forks and he dutifully sticks them into her hair.  She thinks it’s hysterical.
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March 2012

  • 31 Say Yes to Vegetables

    I have a confession to make: I don’t really like vegetables. Oh, I talk a good game about being a healthy eater and I often think of myself as a vegetable-eater but when you get right down to it, I really only like a handful.  Corn, carrots, red peppers, and peas are fabulous.  Butternut squash and pumpkin are my new best friends.  I came late to broccoli, but we’re fast friends now.  And I could probably eat my body weight in green beans. But that’s really it.  And I realized that I wasn’t eating many veggies of late — too
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  • 30 The View from My Kitchen Window

    I cook dinner most nights.  My husband has many gifts, but food preparation isn’t one of them.  As the weather’s gotten nicer, he often takes the kiddos out into the backyard to frolic so that they don’t frolic underneath my feet.  Bless him. The window to our kitchen looks into the backyard, so as I chop and mix and saute, I see this: It warms my heart.  My kids.  My husband.  My dog.  Happy and healthy and having a ball. Life is good.

  • 29 The Countdown to Kentucky

    See that brightly-colored paper chain adorning my window?  That sucker is the key to my continued sanity for the next month and a half. My daughter is three, which means her sense of time is…iffy.  We were excited to share the news of our impending move with her as soon as it became official, but we have since been treated to a daily barrage of queries as to when we’re going to be leaving. “Are we going to Kentucky after breakfast?” “When I come home from school, will it be time to go to Kentucky?” “I will go to bed,
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  • 26 The Secret to Getting Dinner on the Table

     (This is obviously not my table. My table never looks that fancy.) Packing leftovers in your lunch is a noble goal, but it only works if you actually make dinner in the first place.  There are days when a home-cooked meal is a dream and nothing more (and really, on those days, who doesn’t love French toast sticks for dinner?) but I have found one little piece of night-before prep work that makes a world of difference for me. Defrost your meat. My dinner-making odds rise dramatically when I take the time to get the meat out of the freezer
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  • 25 The Secret to Leftovers for Lunch

    I waste a lot of food.  I wish it weren’t so but all too often I find myself chucking the contents of some long-forgotten tupperware container from my fridge.  One way to minimize the food waste is to take leftovers in my lunch.  It’s been hit or miss on whether I remember to actually enact this plan but I’ve hit upon a strategy that works wonders… Pack your lunch containers as soon as the meal is over. The problem for me is inertia.  I mean well.  I intend to take the leftover mashed potatoes and meatloaf to lunch the next
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  • 23 Index Cards. Color-Coded.

    I’m throwing myself into this whole relocation thing with enthusiasm.  It’s my first big moving experience.  When I moved to Pittsburgh, it was for grad school and felt like a glorified dorm move.  I moved to India, but only took two suitcases with me.  Josh and I moved across town, but we did it piecemeal, making many runs with a pickup truck.  We never bothered to box up most of our stuff. This is different.  This is a Real Move.  With Actual Movers.  And Color-Coded Index Cards. That last part is my idea.  I’ve decided it makes sense to color-code
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  • 21 In Defense of My Shoes

    My husband has four pairs of shoes – a pair of tennis shoes, a pair of black dress shoes, a pair of crocs, and a pair of brown all-purpose shoes he’s worn every day for the last five years. I have eight pairs of black shoes.* My husband doesn’t understand me.  He mocks my shoes.  I tried to explain to him that each shoe fills a unique (and vital) role in my wardrobe but I actually saw his eyes glaze over about three seconds into my monologue. And so, if it please the court, I shall present to you my
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  • 19 Miss Mouse, Track Star

    Miss Mouse has decided she’s going to be a track star.  Running foot races with Josh is one of her new favorite activities.  They take it very seriously.  They stretch before and after a race, decide how many laps to race, assume a runners’ stance (well, more or less), and away they go. I captured one indoor race on video a few days ago.  The whole affair was made even more fun by the fact that Miss Mouse happened to be wearing her swimsuit, having paused a rousing game of “try on all the summer clothes to see if they
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  • 16 Why I Keep Pumpkin Scones in the Freezer

    Last week, I made plans with a friend from church to have coffee one evening after the kids were in bed.  As (mis)chance would have it, Josh had a meeting come up and I needed to stay home and guard the baby monitors.  (And the babies.)  Alas! But wait!  I keep a bag of pumpkin scones in my freezer.  The day is saved! I whipped out some scones, defrosted them in the microwave, and drizzled them with icing.  I dug out my fancy schmancy tea cups and matching plates, rustled up a tea assortment, and voila — tea for two
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  • 14 How We Survived the Trip to Kentucky

    Part of the process of finding a new church involves a nice social visit where you bring your family to meet the congregation.  You smile, shake hands, and pray so hard your eyes start to twitch that your children will not run screaming through the sanctuary brandishing markers. Set your minds at ease.  There was no screaming.  And no markers.  (Do I look dumb enough to give them markers?)  But I was still a bit nervous that weekend. Adding to the stress of the trip was the seven hour car ride from SteelTown to SmallTown.  Miss Mouse and Buggie are
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  • 12 Miss Mouse Wears Bling

    I lived in India for a year after I finished grad school and I came home with suitcases laden with wonders.  Shoes covered in sequins.  Clothing sparkling with mirrors.  And jewelry.  Lots of jewelry. As time has passed, I’ve found myself wearing less and less of my India Bling.  There comes a point when you no longer feel comfortable wandering the aisles of the grocery store in a salwar kameez.  Go figure. Following my mantra of “no sector is too small to benefit from some organization” I went through my jewelry boxes and weeded a bunch of stuff I never
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  • 12 Signs of Spring

     photo source It may only be the 11th of March, but Spring is in the air.  Our daffodils are coming up, there are hordes of robins in the backyard, and it was 63 degrees (and sunny!) today. We spent two hours at the park, then went out for ice cream.  When we got back, Miss Mouse and Josh ran footraces in the back yard until it got too dark to see.  Buggie careened down our slide more times than I can count. But perhaps the most telling indicator of all was at snack time when I watched my children eat
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  • 10 The Process

    Several people have asked me what the “process” is for moving to a new church in our denomination.  Fortunately, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) allows its pastors to have total control over where they serve.  (Okay, technically, God has total control over where they serve but you know what I mean.)  There’s no centralized authority or administration that makes those decisions — it’s between a pastor and his flock how long their relationship lasts. When it’s time to move on, a pastor fills out a profile that outlines what he’s looking for in a congregation — in terms of
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  • 9 In which I eat spinach…and like it

    photo source  When Josh and I took the kids down to visit Country Church a few weeks ago, we had dinner at the house of one of the congregation members.  It was a lovely, comfortable house on a big plot of land.  There were cows out front, rolling hills behind, and hard wood everywhere inside. Dinner was simple but great.  Chicken, baked potatoes, broccoli, bread, and some sort of spinach frittata thing.  Uh oh.  Spinach.  I was faced with the age-old dilemma of how to pretend to enjoy something you hate so as not to appear to be an ungrateful guest. I
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  • 8 One (and Only One) Trip to the Potty

    Bedtime with Miss Mouse can sometimes be a challenge.  Most nights, Josh puts her to bed and I take care of Buggie.  There are never any bedtime shenanigans when Daddy is in charge.  They read a book, say a prayer, and she’s in bed. When I’m at the helm of the Good Ship Beddy-Bye  it’s a whole different story.  Miss Mouse has learned to stall.  Big time. She wants a different stuffed animal to sleep with.  Her pillow needs to be turned over.  A gorilla may or may not be lurking under her bed.  Her alarm clock needs to be adjusted
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  • 7 Make-Ahead Mealtime Magic

    Preparing meals ahead of time can be a labor-intensive task.  But when dinner comes together just right, it’s a wondrous thing. We had meatloaf with twice-baked potatoes and green beans for dinner tonight.  I spent 20 minutes in the kitchen.  SCORE! I made the meatloaf last night.  I even baked it so today I would only have to re-heat.  And I don’t want to brag, but I make a wicked good meatloaf.  I probably shouldn’t get too cocky about it, though, since I slavishly follow a recipe from the Sneaky Chef.  It’s healthy meatloaf.  Rolled oats.  Wheat germ.  Spinach.  My
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  • 5 A sweaty, life-changing moment

    photo source Sometimes, momentous occasions sneak up on you.  A few weeks before Christmas last year, I was running on our elliptical machine, sweating like a pig healthy woman, and watching “Burn Notice” on DVD. Josh poked his head into the den and said: “How small is too small?” He was referring to town size.  We were in the process of looking for a new congregation for Josh to serve and he and I had somewhat different visions of what an ideally-sized community might be.  I was thinking something like Pittsburgh.  He was thinking something like Mayberry. I didn’t realize
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  • 5 A New Chapter — in Life and Online

    Notice anything different around here? Oh yeah, the blog’s got a brand new look! I hope you like it. I finally bit the bullet and made the move to WordPress. I’m still getting a hang of some of the functionality, but on the whole I’m favorably impressed. The main reason I switched platforms was to facilitate easier commenting. Now, you don’t have to log into anything to leave a comment. You just need your name and email address. So please share your thoughts! I love getting all the emails, but I’d welcome feedback here, too. I’m looking forward to continuing
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  • 1 Look Out Kentucky…

    …’cause here we come! UK — All the Way! When I moved to Pittsburgh for grad school, I planned to stay for two years.  One degree, a husband, a dog, two kids, and eight years later I’m finally moving on.  Josh has accepted a call to serve a church in Kentucky, about 45 minutes outside Lexington.  We’ll be hitching the wagons and moving out mid-May. On the whole, we’re all thrilled about the move.  Josh grew up in Kentucky and considers it home.  He’s been asking me for years (YEARS) to please let him move back.  I fell in love
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February 2012

  • 27 The 50/50 Yogurt Rule

    Despite admissions of feeding my kiddos snacks involving mini-marshmallows and M&Ms;, we really do try to take it easy on unnecessary sugar.  But one trouble spot is yogurt. Both my kids love yogurt.  But only flavored yogurt, which is sort of like runny frosting.  All sorts of healthy mom blogs and articles in snooty magazines make grandiose claims about the yumminess of plain yogurt.  “Just add a dollop of honey and some fresh fruit.” Right. I would have to add an entire bee hive of honey to make plain yogurt palatable. So we compromise by mixing plain and flavored yogurts
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  • 25 Critter Munch

    There’s this snack they feed the kids at daycare called “Critter Munch.”  It’s sort of like trail mix for preschoolers (sans nuts).  When I was little, a similar entity existed.  We called it a “munchie box.”  Mostly it was different kinds of cereal all mixed together in an oval tin.  I loved the munchie box, so I decided to make something similar for snacks around the house. I browsed the aisles of the grocery store looking for munchable items and came up with a good supply.  Honey Nut Cheerios, mini marshmallows, M&Ms;, animal crackers (which turned out to be too big,
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  • 23 In which carrots lose to cookies

    I got the munchies this morning at work. Did I eat the baggie of baby carrots or the handful of reduced fat Triscuits I’d carefully packed in my lunch bag for just such an occasion? No. Did I instead eat not one but two peanut butter no bake cookies left in the break room by the minions of Satan? Yes. Sigh.

  • 21 The Random Stuff Living in the Loo

    My house sometimes drives me nuts.  Or rather, not my house, per se, but rather the random piles of junk which seem to populate every available horizontal surface when I’m not looking.  Like this: That’s the toilet in the master bathroom.  Let’s examine the tableau arranged upon it. Bathroom Cleaner — Not sure what it does.  That’s not really my scene.  But I know it doesn’t actually belong on the toilet tank. BandAids: Box and Miscellaneous Sheet Thereof — Those belong in my first aid kit.  Which is in the linen cupboard.  But I got them out for something and
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  • 19 My One Concession to Technology

    Although, for the most part, screens are not a part of my children’s daily lives, we do sometimes make an exception for the computer.  Not to play hideous preschool-targeting-commercially-driven-flashing-lights-and-obnoxious-cartoon-birds games, though (yeah, I have issues with the meteoric rise of apps targeting kids, okay?). My kids’ primary use of our computer is to video-chat with my parents.  That’s what they’re doing in the picture above — filling Nana and Papu in on the day’s activities.  (And don’t you just love their matching body language?  They’re holding their hands the same way.  Cracks me up.) Thought my parents spend a lot
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  • 17 A Brief Product Placement Interlude

    I am not a brand-loyal person.  Choosy moms may choose Jiff, but I really couldn’t care less what brand of peanut butter we use.  Or shampoo.  Or dish soap.  Or tennis shoes. But I firmly believe that every child deserves — nay, needs — at least one Jellycat stuffed animal. Miss Mouse has two: Floppy and George (a bunny and a monkey, respectively, in case the names weren’t indicative enough).  She and Floppy have long been inseparable and she continues to sleep with him regularly. August, 2009 And this is Gerry the Giraffe, Buggie’s bosom companion. Actually, I think I
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  • 14 Valentine Swag Bag

    Buggie’s Valentine’s Day party at daycare was on Friday.  His teachers gave him an apple with a little note proclaiming him to be the apple of their eyes.  I thought it was cute then, but I appreciate it even more now as I gaze down upon the massive pile of high fructose corn syrup cascading out of the swag bag Miss Mouse came home with after her party today. Good lord. I have only vague memories of Valentine’s Day as a child, but I swear it didn’t involve tons of candy.  The candy holidays are Easter and Halloween, right?  Apparently
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  • 14 Valentine Scones

    I wanted to do something special for my littles in celebration of Valentine’s Day and opted for baked goods.  What better way to show your love than heart-shaped chocolate chip scones?  I baked them last night and carefully set the table this morning.  Heart plates.  Pink cups.  Heart scones.  And a page of Valentine stickers for Miss Mouse. Having set the scene (and letting my husband sleep in as a Valentine’s Day treat) I headed upstairs to wake the sleeping beauties.  We pranced downstairs together in gleeful anticipation of the delicious breakfast… …only to discover that the dog had cleaned
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  • 13 For the Sake of Charlie Brown

    This evening, Miss Mouse and I addressed her hand-made valentines.  I had gotten a class list and was prepared to read out the names while she picked which valentine to give to which friend. I was unprepared for her to immediately offer this comment — “I don’t want to give one to everyone.  Just my friends.“ Ack!  Where did this mean creature come from and where is my daughter? I nipped that plan in the bud right away, of course.  While I never suffered any Valentine’s Day trauma as a child (thank goodness), I think we’ve all seen the Charlie
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  • 10 Easy Foam Heart Valentines

    It’s Valentine season again.  (My husband tries in vain to argue that Valentine’s Day is merely a day, not a season.  But he is wrong.)  I like Valentine’s Day.  Always have, even though I’ve never really been swept up in the romance of it all.  I just like the chance to wear heart socks and do craft projects involving doilies. Now that there are kids on the scene, making valentines has morphed from “fun thing to do if I’ve got time” to “imperative mommy activity.” Well, at least for me it has.  I really don’t like the store-bought kiddie valentines.
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  • 8 In which I (remarkably) plan ahead

    I try to get out ahead of life when I can.  I (sometimes) pick an outfit for the next day before going to bed.  I (infrequently) pack my lunch in the evening.  And I (occasionally) dabble in freezer cooking.  I’m trying to be more intentional about that last one and have gotten pretty good about freezing single-serving portions of things like soup that I can then take in my lunch. A few weeks ago, I had a surge of productivity and made a triple (yes, triple) recipe of a penne chicken casserole that’s a family favorite.  We ate one batch
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  • 6 Toddlers in Love

    That’s Buggie’s girlfriend.  We’ll call her Butterfly.  Buggie and Butterfly have been going steady for a little over a year.  It was true love the moment she arrived in his Infant 1 daycare class. Butterfly is petite, nearly bald, and stoic.  Stoic to the point of being disconcerting when she fixes her old-soul eyes on you.  That child never cracks a smile… …except for Buggie. When we arrive in the morning, she dances on her toes, breaks into a megawatt grin, and races across the room for a hug.  Which he’s happy to return. In the afternoon, my Romeo will
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  • 4 Shoots & Ladders VS Candy Land

    photo source Over the holidays, I picked up a couple classic preschool board games for Miss Mouse — Shoots & Ladders and Candy Land.  However, given the influx of gifts during that time of year, I didn’t actually break them out until recently. Unsurprisingly, Miss Mouse LOVES board games.  All other evening activities have been flung to the back burner in her zest to play games.  It’s pretty darned fun, except for one small thing: Shoots & Ladders is a stupid game. There, I said it.  I have fond memories of playing as a child, but am finding that playing
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  • 3 Snack time, farewell

    As I may have mentioned before, my son likes to eat.  A lot.  All the time.  A while back we instituted an after-school snack because he was melting into a big old puddle of hungry angst before we could get dinner on the table most nights.  It worked like a charm.  The kids would bound into the house and Buggie would head directly for his seat at the table, grunting expectantly. But over the past month we noticed that this pre-dinner munching was having an impact on his evening meal.  I suppose it was only a matter of time before
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  • 2 Things My Daughter Never Did

    #63 Attempt to dunk her toothbrush in the toilet bowl

January 2012

  • 31 Why I Organized My Cookie Cutters

    Alternate post title: De-Cluttering Baby Steps. Recently, I’ve been trying to whittle away at the amount of stuff cluttering my house.  I (finally) went through my closet and pulled out a few things I never wear.  I reorganized Miss Mouse’s art supplies and (finally) threw away the coloring books that are completely full.  I went through my junk drawer and (finally) chucked all the pens that don’t write. These are all baby steps.  Things that aren’t going to completely overhaul my home, but which, taken together, do have an impact on the amount of random crap I’m tripping over on
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  • 30 Dump or Donate?

    Don’t mistake trash for treasure! Maintaining an organized and uncluttered home means that you must regularly assess your possessions, and frequently cull your belongings. Whether you’re clearing out the closet, paring down the tower of toys, or trying to make room on your bookshelf for the newest best seller, there will be items leaving your home. The moment of decision looms: do you throw the stuff away or donate it to charity? You can check out the rest of this post over at Life as Mom, where I am the guest contributor today!

  • 29 Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

    photo source Sometimes, parenting a preschooler feels like going toe to toe with an atom bomb — something sets them off and there’s a truly massive explosion.  But other times, it’s more like death by a thousand paper cuts.*  There’s not one particular thing you’re tussling over, but every interaction is a mini power struggle and small acts of defiance and obstinacy are woven into everything. Miss Mouse was getting on my very last nerve tonight.  I don’t know what happened to get her knickers (or mine) into a twist but she was six kinds of stress-inducing this evening.  Naturally I was
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  • 28 Please Don’t Pet Me While I’m Eating

    I have discovered that I have a new pet peeve.  I don’t like to be touched while I’m eating. Okay, I know that many of you are thinking — “Huh, that’s a weird thing to be irritated by.”  But then again, you have may never have had the experience of trying to eat your dinner while a three-year-old pets your arm. Miss Mouse and I sit next to each other for meals on one of the long sides of our table.  Buggie sits at the head in a booster (to my right), and Josh is around the corner to his
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  • 27 The Ongoing Adventures of Monkey Boy

    As I may have mentioned, my son has an…umm…adventurous streak.  Thus perhaps it should have come as no surprise to me that when I walked into the dining room after hearing an unexpected-and-not-immediately-identifiable sound, I witnessed this: And yet, I was surprised.  (And secretly impressed.) Note to self: push all dining room chairs in fully once you have vacated them.

  • 26 Ginger Pear Muffins

    Here’s what I love about baking — besides the fact that it makes your house smell divine.  Most of the ingredients you need to do simple baking are ones you keep on hand all the time, allowing you to produce baked goods on a moment’s notice without heading to the store. Which is particularly useful when you are snowed in when the desire to bake seizes you. On Saturday, we got a layer of ice followed by a layer of snow deposited on our fair hamlet and the snow plow teams were apparently sleeping in so they didn’t stop by
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  • 24 A Word from the Lord

    As an addendum to yesterday’s post about prayer, I wish to relate the following conversation which took place in the bathroom this evening between myself and my firstborn, who was singing at the top of her lungs in the tub. Me: “Miss Mouse, please sing using your inside voice.“ Miss Mouse: “Mommy, Jesus told me to sing louder.“ Me: ….. Because, really, what do you say to that?

  • 23 In which we pray for heart underpants

    I have got to teach Riley that trick! photo source As you might expect — what with being married to a minister and all — church plays a pretty central role in our lives.  We categorize our days as “school days,” “church day,” and “play day” (Saturday).  As Miss Mouse gets older, she is beginning to incorporate religious language and activity into her daily life — sometimes with amusing results. Take prayer.  We say bedtime prayers with Miss Mouse each night and have also begun encouraging her to say her own prayers.  This weekend, she was on a holy roll
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  • 21 Buggie See, Buggie Do

    It is a well-documented fact that little brothers and sisters like to copy their older siblings.  But, being an only child, I’d never really experienced this phenomenon personally until now.   It’s quite amazing to behold.  Just in the last couple days, I’ve watched Buggie watch Miss Mouse and then attempt to do the following (with varying degrees of success): Climb onto the couch Jump off the couch Eat with a fork Put on his socks Climb completely inside of a cupboard in our entertainment center Read a book “Drink” from a play teacup He also likes to “help” Miss
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  • 19 My Recipe Binder

    I love cookbooks.  I can sit down and thumb through a new cookbook for hours, making lists of ideas, drooling over the pictures, and pondering the untapped potential of ingredients like fennel or Manchego cheese.  But anymore, a lot of my recipe-hunting happens on the Internet.  My mom emails me ideas and I surf regularly to my favorite site — AllRecipes — for inspiration. A number of years ago, I started compiling my printed-out recipes into a three-ring binder.  It actually started the year I studied abroad.  It was the first time I faced the prospect of apartment living and
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  • 17 Chapstick Monster

    My mother has created a monster. The women of my family have a feverish (and perhaps unhealthy) obsession with chapstick.  My mom and her sisters all own zillions of sticks of lip-coating gunk and keep them stashed around the house, in their cars, in their purses, and under their pillows so that they are never more than a few inches away from a tube. If you look carefully, you can actually see chapstick tube outlines permanently etched into the back pockets of my mother’s blue jeans. Somewhere during one of their visits, my mom introduced Miss Mouse to chapstick and
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  • 16 Ulterior Motives

    Do you ever get that feeling like your son purposely whallops his sister just so that he has an excuse to give her a hug?   Yeah, me too.

  • 16 The Last Bit of Christmas

    This pile of tangled yuck is the final vestige of Christmas at our house. What is the tangled pile of yuck, you ask?  Why, they’re the lights off my pre-lit Christmas tree.  We bought our tree in an after-Christmas sale three years ago.  Which means this was only its second Christmas of use.  And yet, at least 1/3 of the light strings had gone out over the last two holiday seasons. I was not amused. To teach the tree a lesson, I decided to remove all the original lights so we can just string our own on next year.  I
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  • 15 In which we frolic and play, the Eskimo way

    Christmas was disconcertingly mild, but we’ve finally gotten some snow this winter.  The first good ground cover came shortly after new year, and we were ready.  Snow pants?  Check.  Long underwear?  Check.  Boots?  Check.  Hats?  Check.  Gloves?  Check.  Coats?  Check. A Christmas Story references?  Check.  “I can’t put my arms down!“ My folks got the kids a sled for Christmas and Miss Mouse was primed and ready to try it out.  Buggie patiently allowed himself to be hauled around the backyard, but seemed a bit confused by the whole affair. He was similarly nonplussed when my mom and I taught
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  • 13 Why Two Kids Are Better Than One

    When I began to get my head around the prospect of parenting two children instead of one, I failed to grasp one of the key benefits: they entertain each other.  Now, I love spending time with my kids.  We read together, play games together, have tea parties with stuffed animals, growl like bears in their tent, do airplane rides, blow bubbles, have dance parties, and generally interact together.  A lot. But sometimes, I appreciate being able to sit back on the couch, and watch my offspring be ridiculous together, with no need for parental involvement. The other day, Miss Mouse
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  • 10 A Boy and His Dog

    This is Riley.  The furball has been part of our family since shortly after Josh and I were married.  The poor dear had a tough time adjusting to the arrival of children in his world, and after three years of life with kids, he tolerates the rug rats, but would be perfectly happy if they disappeared tomorrow. Buggie, on the other hand, adores Riley.  Can’t get enough of him.  He follows the long-suffering pooch around the house, alternating between patting (read: whacking) him on the head, hugging (read: squashing) him enthusiastically, and pulling (read: well, yeah, pulling) his tail. When
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  • 7 Cocoa ala Mouse

    During Advent, I posted about how I manage my time to get everything I want done even with two small people clamoring for attention.  My secret mostly involved being efficient when they’re asleep.  A friend of mine pointed out that involving kids in day-to-day activities can also be an excellent bonding opportunity (as well as good example-setting). She’s right, of course.  As Miss Mouse gets older, she wants nothing more than to help me with household tasks.  She loves to fill the dog’s cup with food, carefully carrying it up the stairs to pour into his bowl.  She adores helping
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  • 5 I Just Can’t Win

    Five to Fourteen. Eight to Eleven. Six to Thirteen. These are scores, my friends.  Scores of a few recent, extremely competitive games of Disney Princess Memory (you know, where you have the pairs of cards face down and you try to find the matches by flipping them over two at a time). The little number always belongs to me.  The big number belongs to my three-year-old daughter. I just can’t win. That’s my pile on top. Seriously.  When she was just learning, I let her win (and sometimes cheat).  Now, I put up a valiant and heart-felt effort, but to
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  • 3 Gingered Apple Crisp (Recipe)

    In honor of the New Year, we cooked up a nice brunch on Monday with my parents and Aunt Meg.  Homemade cinnamon rolls, Christmas Morning Frittata, sausage patties, and gingered apple crisp.  The last item was a Kate Creation (and those are rare).  I had a bunch of delicious ginger cookies left over from the holidays that I’d stashed in the freezer.  They form the base of this fabulous (and easy) recipe that works well for breakfast or dessert! Gingered Apple Crisp 8 cups of tart apples, peeled and sliced1/2 cup craisins1/2 cup water1/4 tsp salt1/2 tsp cinnamon3 cups ginger
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  • 1 Braiding My Daughter’s Hair

    I have had short hair for fifteen years.  Well, except for an unfortunate year I spent trying to grow out my locks for my wedding, thinking that “bridal hair” was synonymous with “long hair in an updo.”  After torturing myself for about 14 months, I finally chopped the mess off three weeks before the wedding (and never have you seen a more nervous hair stylist than when I made that request!!). Anyways, suffice to say I have short hair.  My daughter, on the other hand, has increasingly lengthy hair.  And her hair is gorgeous — thick silky tresses that shimmer
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December 2011

  • 31 Dossier Complete

    This morning, I bundled a huge stack of papers into a FedEx box and sent them off toward Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Want to know how much paperwork it takes to adopt a child?  Behold: Wow.  But that’s all of it.  There are a few more steps to the process before the papers head to Africa, but our agency will take of them.  For now, our work is done. Here’s hoping that 2012 is the year when our family of four becomes a family of five!

  • 30 I Kissed Ribbons Goodbye (Advent Unplugged)

    See the pretty ribbon?  These are definitely not mine. As we close out the Christmas season, here’s a final Advent Unplugged post, subtitled: “Gift wrapping shouldn’t give you nightmares.”  I don’t wrap gifts well.  I enjoy the process, but have always struggled with bows and ribbons.  I have an aunt whose gifts are works of art and so I have an inferiority complex, but I think it’s justified because my packages continue to look like they were wrapped by a ten-year-old many years after I stopped actually being a ten-year-old. Anyways. Stocking up on wrapping supplies can also get expensive
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  • 29 Ham and Cheese Buns (Recipe)

    Disclaimer: this post would be better with a picture.  I was too busy munching on these delectable wee bites to take their picture.   My great recipe discovery of our church open house this year was a super easy ham and cheese bun.  It’s totally adaptable to different fillings — my mom did mandarin beef and they were fabulous — and comes together easily.  They’re also kid-friendly, as little hands can help put the meat and cheese onto the dough, or help brush the buns with egg.  Enjoy! Ham and Cheese Yeast Buns Yield: 32 1 lb frozen bread dough,
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  • 28 Christmas Pictures

    My camera hates me.  The feeling is mutual.  This is what the majority of our pictures from Christmas morning look like… I don’t know why.  WHY, GOD, WHY? Okay, I’m over it.  Happily, we did get a few nice shots throughout the festivities at our house and with Josh’s family. That’s a girl who loves Christmas. The big gift of Christmas morning was the teepee my mother made for my munchkins.  Here’s Josh showing them how great it is.  You can see from Miss Mouse’s body language that what she’s saying is — “Get out of there, Daddy!  It’s my
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  • 26 What Makes Christmas Christmas?

    We’re still in the midst of holiday frenzy and my camera and my computer aren’t talking to each other at the moment, but there will be Christmas pictures soon!  On Christmas Eve, as Josh and I hung out with the kids before our church service, we both remarked that it didn’t really “feel like Christmas.”  Maybe it was because it was 45 degrees and raining and there’d been nary a snowflake all month.  Maybe it was because our kids don’t have the calendar mastered yet so they weren’t quite sure it was Almost Christmas.  But probably it was because we
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  • 23 The Pre-Christmas Toy Purge (Advent Unplugged)

    This is not our tree.  Thank god.photo source One of my goals in life is to avoid being utterly over run with children’s toys.  I’m not a total crunchy momma purist, stocking my home with only beeswax candles, organic dolls, and natural wooden blocks, but we try to limit the number of toys our kids accumulate and have a pretty strict “no batteries” rule.  (Though somehow, a Dora the Explorer faux iPod snuck in and is a favorite of both children.) Last year, we implemented a “three gift rule” when Christmas shopping for our children and we’re using it again
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  • 22 Christmas Carol Dance Party (Advent Unplugged)

    Some days I feel the wear and tear of being a working momma more than others.  There are definitely evenings when I think that maybe my life would be easier if I just plonked the kids down in front of that nice claymation rendition of Rudolph while I sequester myself in the kitchen with a plate of Christmas cookies. When that mood strikes, there is only one remedy: Christmas Carol Dance Party. When you’re dealing with preschoolers and toddlers, arranging an impromptu dance party isn’t hard.  Just turn on some music and set them loose.  I’m partial to classics like
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  • 21 The Cookie Timer

    We had an open house at the parsonage on Monday for the congregation (and some of our neighbors).  It was a nice evening featuring some fabulous food, if I do say so myself.  Ham and Swiss cheese buns, zesty bean bites, taco dip, holiday chicken salad, and cookies.  Lots of cookies.  And my mother’s divine homemade fudge. We wrestled the kids into their holiday finery and they had a great evening, pinging around the house in an attention-seeking frenzy, fueled by the fruit punch they were knocking back in their sippy cups. As you can tell, we abandoned many of
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  • 20 The Emotional Torment of Teacher Gifts (Advent Unplugged)

    If I had to identify a single activity that most threatened my peaceful, stress-free holiday season it would be the act of selecting gifts for my children’s daycare teachers. Oh. My. Word.  This is an activity not for the faint of heart.  I suspect that not everyone agonizes over the decision as much as I did over the past week, but to me, it was a big deal.  I mean, how exactly do you convey — “thank you for working very long hours for very little pay so that the most precious people in my life are safe, happy, and
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  • 18 One Calm Saturday (Advent Unplugged)

    I didn’t pack a diaper bag yesterday, and since Buggie has not miraculously mastered the potty at the age of 15 months that can only mean one thing… …we didn’t go anywhere yesterday. I literally cannot remember the last time our family stayed home on a Saturday.  With Sunday being largely consumed with church and grocery shopping, Saturday is our Day to Have Adventures.  We go to the zoo, to the museum, to a friend’s house, to a farm, to kid-friendly theater, and to the park.  Bottom line: we go. I thrive on activity and love taking the kids places,
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  • 17 Buggie Comes with a Bag

    Don’t let my previous post give you the wrong idea about my boy.  He actually loves his pink hat with a deep-seated passion.  It’s one of his favorite possessions and he wears it around the house whenever possible. He’s also taken to carrying a little cotton bag (which is supposed to house soft cotton fruits but rarely does) over one shoulder like a messenger bag.  The combination is really quite precious. Then there’s the fact that Miss Mouse sometimes likes to put barrettes in his hair and I sometimes let her. Note the pony tail on top. And altogether, I’m
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  • 17 Little Brother Woes

    It can be hard to have a big sister.  Things like this tend to happen frequently:

  • 16 Guilt-Assuaging Ear Tubes

    Buggie got ear tubes today.  After eight ear infections in nine months, enough was enough.  Happily, our ENT doc readily agreed and got us on his schedule amazingly quickly (our consult was Wednesday and the surgery was this morning!).  The Bug-man was a trooper, remaining his usual chipper self through the pre-op shenanigans despite having been cut off from all food for 16 hours.  I doubt I would have been so cheerful. I’m hopeful that the tubes will work wonders on Buggie like they did on his big sister, who has only had one ear infection in the more than
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  • 13 Giving Thanks for Sleeping Boys

    Love is a sleeping toddler. I give thanks for my son’s sleep personality daily. Buggie is pretty much everything you could ask for when it comes to bedtime.  Really, it starts with bath time.  When it’s time to get scrubbed up, I announce to him — “Buggie!  It’s bath time!”  He lights up like a mega-watt bulb, reaches for my hand, and toddles toward the stairs to the bathroom. Bedtime follows a simple routine.  We read two or three stories while he drinks some milk, ending with Sandra Boynton’s “Going to Bed Book.”  He hands me his milk cup and
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  • 12 Delayed Gratification

    Miss Mouse has developed a freaky level of appreciation for delayed gratification.  She’s three, let’s recall, and three-year-olds are not known for wanting to wait.  For anything.  Ever.  Thus it is that I get asked daily if it’s Christmas Eve. But when it comes to edible treats, my girl likes to savor her goodies and portion them out.  Many mornings, she asks if she can save half her chocolate milk for dinner, tucking the glass into the fridge for later. And if there are treats at church, she usually takes a couple bites of a cookie before announcing her intention
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  • 11 Manageable Multitasking (Advent Unplugged)

    photo by Jon Curnow There are not enough hours in the day.  Can I get a resounding — “amen, sister” — from the other mothers out there? Right.  One of my goals this Advent season is to manage my time wisely.  Easy to say, difficult to implement.  For me, time management is mostly about setting realistic expectations and working out a triage of my priorities.  And resisting the urge to do too much multi-tasking. I heard something the other day that resonated with me — kids know when you’re multitasking around them.  If you’re sneaking in Facebook updates in the
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  • 11 Seeing Santa Through My Daughter’s Eyes

    I remember believing in Santa Claus as a child, but as an adult, I’ve been a bit ambivalent about the man in red.  I’m okay with the pretending (some people throw the word “lie” around) and I’ve never gotten too worked up over the “Jesus vs. Santa” thing that some Christian parents struggle with (although don’t get me started on the “Santa at the manger” figurines!).  I think it was probably the super-commercialization of Christmas that had me feeling a bit underwhelmed by the chubby guy in a suit encouraging parents to buy way more toys than their kids need.
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  • 10 Santa’s Little Enforcer

    Last year, Miss Mouse enjoyed the holiday season, but didn’t really “get” the whole Santa thing.  That has changed this year. Miss Mouse not only understand that Santa Claus will be arriving Christmas Eve, laden with gifts, she has also appointed herself as his minion.  She is acting as his enforcer of good behavior and all-around tattletale. Many times each day, Miss Mouse determines that some member of the household has committed an infraction serious enough to warrant a call to the big man in red.  “That’s it!” — she announces — “Mommy, you are not going to get a
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  • 7 Picture Day: Mouse vs. Mom

    I knew it would only cause problems, but I just couldn’t help myself.  I became emotionally invested in the daycare Picture Day. They do picture day a couple times a year at school and I’ve never bothered with it before.  We’re not really “family picture people” and you’ll find exactly zero pictures of our kids (or us) adorning the walls of the living room.  It just seemed like a waste of money and a hassle. But Buggie and Miss Mouse are both so darned cute — and they’re cute together — that when I saw them advertising taking sibling pictures,
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  • 4 What does ten pounds of sprinkles look like?

    Answer: Like this… I believe “laden” is the word to describe these cookies. Yesterday I hosted a Cookie Decorating and Craft Party for a group of Miss Mouse’s daycare friends (and their parents).  While you may not consider entertaining 22 people, ten of them under the age of four, a stress-free holiday activity, I actually do.  This party was one of my non-negotiable Advent activities and I had been looking forward to it for weeks. I’d say there were three — no, four — keys to making this shindig a success. 1) Location, location, location.  There was no way on
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  • 2 The Slippery Slope from Could to Should (Advent Unplugged)

    Some days, she inspires me. Other days, I hate the wench. I read a really interesting article in the Washington Post this week about the rise of the “new domesticity” among young middle class moms.  My generation is embracing activities that our parents’ generation (and even our grandparents’) had somewhat abandoned during the women’s liberation movement.  Things like canning and knitting and raising chickens have once again become popular, even chic, among today’s moms.  And the article (written by a mom herself) was raising the question of whether this domesticity might once again start to feel restrictive. It struck a
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November 2011

  • 29 Advent Unplugged: The Unbreakable Tree

    Advent Unplugged is about enjoying the holiday season with minimal stress.  For me, this meant doing some serious soul-searching about my Christmas tree.  I adore my Christmas tree.  It symbolizes the essence of all that is magical about the holidays.  I have been collecting ornaments for my tree since birth (thanks, mom!) and many of them are absolutely exquisite as well as being packed with sentimental value. The problem is my son, who possesses a joie de vivre which the casual observer might easily mistake for suicidal tendencies. Several weeks before the start of Advent, I started having a recurring
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  • 29 Advent Unplugged

    With the weekend’s turkey-eating festivities slowly fading into a tryptophan-blurred memory, I’m launching headfirst into the Christmas season.  I love Christmas.  I love the ornaments and caroling and sledding parties and cookies and reindeer and lights.  It makes me all tingly. This Advent, I’m feeling a strong desire to get intentional about building our Christmas traditions, as Miss Mouse is old enough to enjoy all the activities of the season.  What I want to guard against, however, is Christmas-overload.  The holidays can get frenetic so easily and you can wind up cranky and fried by Christmas morning.  I want to
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  • 28 You Can Have My House If You’ll Take My Dog

    As we made plans for our Thanksgiving adventure, we had a challenge: what to do with the dog?  My aunt is not a Dog Person and to be honest, the addition of a fifty-pound Labrador to a house already filled with 18 people would probably have been less than awesome. But Riley doesn’t like spending time at the kennel.  We tried it only once, nearly five years ago and have never repeated the experience.  And boarding your dog is an expensive proposition, the prospect of which did not fill me with joy.  Sometimes we’ve been able to have friends and family dog-sit
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  • 26 A Christmas throwback, but with turkey

    We spent Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house in Cincinnati and it was fabulous.  At our peak, we had eighteen folks milling around the house, four of them under the age of six.  Miss Mouse and Buggie connected with a pair of second cousins they rarely see and were over the moon.  I connected with a pair of first cousins I rarely see and was over the moon.  Josh was fed a variety of strange and unusual foods, but he survived. What was particularly cool about this trip was that it felt like Christmas from my childhood.  Every year, my mother’s
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  • 23 The Preschool Perspective

    Here’s yet another example of how having children enriches your life experiences.  I am excited about seeing my family for Thanksgiving. Miss Mouse, on the other hand, is borderline manic in her excitement. She has been bouncing off the walls for days, delirious at the prospect of seeing her grandparents, aunts, and cousins.  All of her teachers at school (and some who aren’t even her teachers) know all about her aunt: where she lives, what her house is like, what her cat’s name is, and that we’re bringing cookies and muffins to share with her. It’s infectious.  My own enthusiasm
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  • 22 A Philosophy of Baked Goods

    When it comes to baked goods, I have a pretty simple mantra: Go Big or Go Home.  As long as you’ve got the ingredients out, why not double the recipe?  Or make a couple variations?  Cookies, muffins, and scones all freeze well so there’s really no down side to have a lot of baked bread products on hand. I took a few hours off work this afternoon so that I could dedicate myself to baking.  I’d been tasked with bringing some edibles to my family’s Thanksgiving festivities and I took the challenge seriously.  And when I take time off work,
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  • 21 My Son’s Decision-Making: A Flowchart

    He may only be 14 months old (almost) but my son has a pretty sophisticated decision-making protocol.  It looks something like this: I don’t know if it’s because he’s the second-born or if it’s because he’s a boy, but my son appears to be lacking some sort of common-sense mechanism possessed by normal human beings. He’s like a two-and-a-half foot tall Evel Knievel.  Without the motorcycle (thank goodness).  He tries to chew on my computer cord.  He launches himself face-first off of couches, beds, and playground equipment.  He routinely attempts to stick his finger into light sockets — after pulling
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  • 19 Mousie See Mousie Do

    After just over a year of big sisterdom, Miss Mouse has picked up some good mommy moves (like bossing her little brother around, curtailing his activities).  It’s fun to watch her mothering her baby dolls.  She is so tender and solicitous. She takes her dolls for walks around the living room, waving jauntily and announcing that they’re off to the zoo together.  She changes their diapers, announcing with zeal that “Annie pooped all over the floor!  Eww!” And she snuggles.  That’s the part I can’t get enough of.  Watching her rock her baby dolls, telling them stories, makes my heart
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  • 18 All Kinds of Bossy

    Miss Mouse has adored her baby brother since the moment we brought him home.  Thank goodness.  I’m not quite sure how I would have handled any requests to return him to whatever cabbage patch he came from.  No, if anything, my son is most at risk from death by excessive love.  She hugs, she squeezes, she sits on him and bounces affectionately. Lately, she’s working on honing her maternal instincts.  She’s decided that she needs to take care of her little brother, keep him on the straight and narrow. In short, she’s morphed into the most bossy three-year-old tyrant you’ve
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  • 17 Redemptive Cuteness

    When she’s in a bad mood, my firstborn is a force to be reckoned with.  And she has a whine that could make Mother Theresa strangle someone (like her). But when it comes to total, complete, stop-you-in-your-tracks cuteness?  She’s got that down, too. And it’s pretty hard to stay mad at a three-year-old sporting a winsome smile, a set of bangle bracelets, a flower lei…and a pig nose.

  • 16 Learning with Fruit Leather

    Last weekend, Josh and I spent much of Saturday at an adoption conference which — mercifully, blessedly, thankfully — provided free childcare to attendees.  The conference ran from 8am to 1pm so we were asked to send a lunch for the munchkins. This gave me the opportunity to pack a bento box, a project I hadn’t undertaken in a while.  (Well, actually I packed two – Buggie got his very own, virtually identical lunch in his very own purple bento box.)  Miss Mouse was thrilled to be able to carry her lunchbox with her on this grand adventure and I
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  • 13 The Dreaded Headache

    I’ve added a new trick to my “bag-o-parenting-tools” — the Dreaded Headache.  It’s proving to be quite effective in my War Against the Whine.  Miss Mouse whines.  A lot.  All the time.  Constantly.  When she’s not whining, she’s sobbing piteously about some perceived injustice, slight, or life-ending disaster (including but not limited to: a Cheerio that fell out of her bowl, not being asked what flavor yogurt she wanted for dinner, being asked to share her toys with her brother, being asked to wear underpants, and being licked by the dog). It’s wearying. I needed some sort of consequence that
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  • 11 I feel like a million bucks, but I only paid eight

    What is it about new clothes?  They have the magical ability to put a spring in my step, make the weather better, and cause my children to behave.  Or at least it feels that way. I love to shop, but these days I’m living on a budget that doesn’t allow for much retail therapy.  But for my birthday last weekend, I treated myself to a little shopping spree.  I cashed in some credit card points for a GAP gift card and my fabulous husband gave me an Ann Taylor gift card.  But his real gift was agreeing to watch the
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  • 10 Fish Fish and Remembering

    Have you ever tried to play an organized game with a three-year-old?  Not a game of “let’s make fruit and fish soup in the play kitchen while singing songs and wearing a fireman’s hat.”  That’s easy.  I’m talking about an actual game with actual rules.  Like Go Fish, for example. Hercules, eat your heart out.  Your challenges got nothing on this one. I bought Miss Mouse a Disney Princess Go Fish deck, mostly for the pictures.  A few days ago, Josh managed to get her to hold still long enough to (sort of) learn how to play.  And now she
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  • 7 Retaliation

    Buggie and Miss Mouse have entered a new phase in their relationship.  It’s the “Buggie is now big enough to fight back when pushed, pulled, sat-upon, or otherwise abused by his sister” phase.  I suspect this new dynamic will be the status quo for the next twenty or so years, with the only potential change taking the form of escalation. While 85% of the time they get along swimmingly, the remaining 15% of their interactions go something like this: Buggie is sitting by himself with a toy or book. Miss Mouse comes over and takes said toy or book. With
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  • 5 The Big 30

    I turned 30 today. It’s a milestone birthday, I suppose, marking the end of my carefree youth (as if the stretch marks and gray hairs hadn’t already done that).  I’m well and truly a grown up now! I actually had no problems making the transition.  I know plenty of friends who struggled with their thirtieth birthdays, but I’m ready to embrace a new decade.  After all, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in the past ten years… …I graduated from college. …I graduated from seminary. …I spent a year abroad, learned a new language, and mastered the art of
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  • 3 Baby-Led Solids: The Final Verdict

    Now that Buggie is well and truly weaned — no bottle, no bink — it seemed like a good moment for some final reflections on our baby-led solids adventure.  If you missed the start of this conversation, take a look back at the premise of baby-led solids as well as the history of baby food.  It’s fascinating stuff. Having read up on the topic, I became a convert to the school of baby-led solids and Buggie never had any baby food.  Seven months later, would I do it that way again? Heck Yeah. I’m not just a convert anymore.  I’m
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October 2011

  • 31 A Soggy, Sticky, Smiley Tiger

    Tonight was our first “real” Halloween with a child old enough to know that saying “tick or treat” will yield candy.  It rained, of course.  Most of my memories of Halloween as a child involve rain.  Sometimes snow.  It’s tradition.  It didn’t slow us down, though apparently the other neighborhood kids are made of less stern stuff because we didn’t get a single tick-or-treator at our house.  Not one.  (Being at the bottom of a steep hill probably doesn’t help.) The dearth of kids may have also explained the phenomenon whereby we visited exactly six houses, but managed to come
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  • 30 How to Cook a Pumpkin in a Crockpot

    It’s definitely easier to crack open a can of smushed up pumpkin if you have a sudden desire to do some harvest baking.  But if you find yourself with an actual pumpkin on hand (say, if you went to a pumpkin patch with a bunch of preschoolers but then realized you’re never going to get around to carving the darned thing), it’s pretty easy to cook one yourself, too.   The “traditional” method is to cut the pumpkin open and roast it in the oven.  But if your oven happens to be full of pumpkin spice scones or pumpkin chocolate
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  • 29 Darwinian Motivations for Bipedalism

    Scientists theorize that our quadrupedal, ape-ish ancestors were motivated to start walking upright about the same time they figured out how to make and use tools.  It’s remarkably difficult to carry something while crawling on all fours, opposable thumb or no. I’ve noticed the same process playing out with my son over the past few weeks.  After starting to take solo steps over a month ago, Buggie has finally settled into a mostly-bipedal form of locomotion (though he still can’t stand up by himself — he pulls up then takes off).  I think this is why: His greatest love at
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  • 29 Snow Day

    It snowed today.  Yes, we still live in Pittsburgh.   Yes, it’s still October. If Josh and I were still a newly married couple with no children, we’d have glared out the window and then curled up on the couch with our books and maybe a mug of hot chocolate. Instead, we gave in to the frenetic excitement of our three-year-old who was running laps around the living room and begging to go outside and “crunch the snow.”  We dug out our winter wear (discovering in the process that neither child has boots that fit them!), bundled up, and headed
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  • 27 The Trouble with Harvest Parties

    Yesterday, there were “Harvest Parties” — complete with costume parades — at Miss Mouse and Buggie’s daycare.  As with an earlier holiday party at school, it seemed like a really good idea… …but actually wasn’t. I took the day off work because Buggie’s party was in the morning, Mousie’s was in the afternoon, and we had an adoption-related errand to run mid-day (biometric fingerprinting — how official!).  The difficulties began almost immediately when my wee dinosaur decided he was very unsure about his (insanely adorable) costume. He rallied a bit when he saw that his friends looked at least as
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  • 26 Bink Be Gone

    See this? Good thing we took a picture because it’s a sight you won’t see anymore at our house (the binkie, not the snuggling with Papu).  I’m ready to pronounce Buggie binkie-free.  He’s been clean just over a week, with his last binkie fix taking place last Tuesday night, and I think we’re in the clear. I expected the de-binkification to be a long and arduous process because Buggie seemed pretty fond of the thing.  Unlike Miss Mouse who was never particularly attached to a binkie and who had completely given it up by the age of nine months, I
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  • 24 In which I grudgingly embrace chocolate milk

    As much as I enjoy watching my daughter’s face light up at the sight of a cupcake, I’m not a big fan of my kids ingesting lots of sugar.  I recognize that this is ironic and perhaps even hypocritical in light of my own sweet tooth, but that’s the way it is. Thus it is with deep reservations that I have been serving Miss Mouse a big glass of chocolate milk each morning with breakfast. My wee girl is a severely picky eater.  And drinker.  She doesn’t do much of either and I was getting concerned that a) she was
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  • 22 Multi-Tasking Meals (How to Cook When You Have Kids)

    I’ve still got the harvest cooking bug.  Today I made another batch of homemade applesauce (which is absolutely outstanding on waffles, if anyone is curious), a no-bake pumpkin pie, and a batch of sweet potato chili. I’m learning that the keys to cooking when you’ve got kids are: figuring out ways to multi-task and learning how to most efficiently use your time.  A few examples: When I made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins a few days ago, I prepped the dry ingredients while Miss Mouse was having her bath.  After hugs and kisses, Josh took her up to bed while I
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  • 20 Fall Foodie Binge

    photo by MllePeterson I love to cook but I tend to go in waves.  I won’t have the energy to do much more than get a basic dinner on the table for weeks and then suddenly I get an itch and go into a cooking frenzy.  It happened this week, starting with my first-even attempt at homemade applesauce.  I cooked up a vat in my crock pot while working from home on Monday.  It was delicious. Today, it’s 45 degrees, cloudy, and blustery.  Perfect harvest cooking weather.  Is there anything better than a freshly-baked pumpkin muffin on a gloomy chilly
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  • 18 More than just a pretty face

    I read a pretty mind-blowing article today on Huffington Post.  It was called How to Talk to Little Girls.  The upshot of it is that the first words out of our mouths when we (as in “society as a whole”) talk to little girls is to talk about their looks.  “Oh, aren’t you pretty,” we gush.  And the article begs the question: is it any wonder that our girls grow up to be hyper-conscious of their looks in all kinds of unhealthy ways when, from the time they can toddle, we send them the implicit message that their key attribute
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  • 16 The Present

    For her birthday, we got Miss Mouse a puppy. Just kidding.  Do I look crazy? That puppy belongs to my best friend, but we went to visit him yesterday as part of Miss Mouse’s birthday festivities.  Actually, he would have made a terrible birthday present as Miss Mouse could not have been less interested in the small furry critter.  She was much more keen on scavenging around the house for toys, ultimately landing on a Britney Spears action figure left over from our college days.  She called Britney a princess.  We quickly hid the doll and tried to change the
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  • 15 A Super Fantastic Day of Awesomeness

    My daughter turned three today.  I’m not sure how it’s possible, but each and every day for the past three years, I’ve discovered that I love her even more than I did the day before.  She is smart, and funny, and knock-you-down beautiful.  She’s also sassy, and moody, and whiny.  She’s three all right and I love her so much it takes my breath away. This is the first year she really knew her birthday was coming and got psyched up for it so we tried to make it awesome for her. It started with breakfast.  When she got up,
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  • 13 A Clock for a Mouse

    Hickory Dickory Dock.  I bought Miss Mouse a clock. We’ve been struggling with keeping Miss Mouse in her bed at night.  She tends to wake at random intervals in the night and come traipsing into our room.  Sometimes she has to go potty.  Sometimes imaginary gorillas are causing trouble.  And sometimes I don’t think she has any idea why she’s up, and she simply asks to be tucked back into bed.  All in all, it was causing some sleep deprivation. We’re utilizing a couple different tactics, including making puzzle activity contingent upon a good night’s sleep.  But my other theory
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  • 12 5 Things We Do Instead of Watching TV

    While there are definitely days when I would desperately love to pop in a Dora the Explorer DVD after a hectic day of work and kick back, basking in the peace and quiet of zombified children, for the most I really appreciate all the things we have time to do when we’re not glued to the screen.  Things like… 1) Blow Bubbles — Have you ever had the chance to watch little kids play with bubbles?  It’s one of those rare moments in life where you get to observe pure and unadulterated joy.  I highly recommend it. 2) Bake Something
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  • 10 Our Anniversary Staycation

    In August, Josh and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.  Well, we marked it at least.  Busy lives and crazy schedules prevented us from doing a huge amount of celebrating.  We had planned to go away this weekend instead — spend a few days in a cabin somewhere away from the kids, reading, reconnecting, and above all…sleeping. But when the time came to make some concrete plans, the financial reality of our “weekend away” started to look a bit daunting.  Even a modest trip gets expensive fast, between gas, lodging, and food.  In the end, we nixed our plans and
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  • 8 Birthday Parties: An Addendum

    Allow me to add one more comment to the “why I’m in no hurry to organize a birthday party for Miss Mouse” conversation — she doesn’t always do well in social situations. Let me be clear.  My girl is bright and verbal and social and fabulous (of course).  But I’m learning that there’s a specific type of activity which is hard for her.  It’s the “structured activity led by someone she doesn’t know.”  This includes story-time at the library, camp at the botanical gardens, and — as it turns out — birthday parties. We went to our first true birthday
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  • 7 Of Pumpkins and Preschoolers

    Just because I’m not on board with birthday parties for toddlers doesn’t mean I don’t love a good party.  Quite the contrary.  I love any excuse to get a group of friends together.  I’m almost compulsively social.  In grad school, I organized themed weekly potluck dinners that sometimes drew as many as forty people.  It was glorious. Now that I’ve got kids, there are even more opportunities for festivities.  Thus it was that I issued an open invitation to the families in the kids’ daycare to join us for an outing to a local pumpkin patch last weekend.  I thought
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  • 6 Resisting the Mompetition

    It was an innocent enough remark from another mom at our daycare — “R__ is starting Phonics Adventures today…” — but it abruptly brought me face-to-face with that awful, hidden reality of parenting: mompetition. If you’re a mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s that weird competitive streak that runs through moms (at least American moms) as we strive to ensure that our child is the best, the brightest, and the most likely to be admitted to Harvard at the age of four. There’s an ever-increasing push to get our young kids involved in more and more activities
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  • 3 10 Things I Learned After Spending 20 Hours in the Car with my Children

    This weekend, my family piled into our minivan and spent about 20 hours of quality time together there, driving to and from Kentucky to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding.  After spending nearly a full day in a small confined place with my kids, I learned a few things. 1) Car travel was easier before I had children. 2) Two adults and two children on a four day trip can — and will — fill one minivan to the rafters with gear, food, and toys. 3) No matter how much gear, food, and toys you bring on your trip, it will not
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September 2011

  • 30 In Praise of Early Bedtimes

    If I were to pick one single “thing” that we’ve done right as parents, it would be this: early bedtimes for our kids. It’s 8:05pm and both my children are in bed, presumably asleep.  Buggie is definitely out, Miss Mouse not far behind.  This gives me about two hours for me to do the things done that I need to in my life.  It’s time to clean the kitchen, exercise, read a book, start some laundry, write a blog, or catch up with my husband (it’s hard to get a word in edgewise when your three-year-old is conscious!). This nightly
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  • 28 The Continuing Adventures of Piranha Boy

    We recently received The Call from daycare: “Your son bit someone.” Awesome. I was well aware of Buggie’s chomping proclivities, having been on the receiving end of them many times a day.    The kid is a piranha.  He comes charging across the floor at me on all fours, mouth agape, leading with his teeth. He’s going for the nose. I can see it in his eyes… The other day, he actually lifted up my shirt, the better to gnaw on my bare stomach. It started out as just gentle love nibbles.  He’d mouth at me affectionately and I didn’t
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  • 25 The Big Sister Gift

    I have two pet peeves when it comes to children and birthdays (other than parties). 1) I hate it when kids open presents for someone else.  Look, I know they like the ribbon and the bows and the paper and all that.  But if I buy you a present, I want YOU to open it, not your kid.  Sorry.  We’re trying to teach this to Miss Mouse and thus refused to let her open Buggie’s presents.  It drove her nuts.  She actually had to spend a few minutes in her room because she Would Not Back Off.  But she settled
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  • 24 More Birthday Boy

    I was too wiped out last night to do more than throw up a quick birthday picture.  Buggie had decided to start celebrating early, so Thursday night he woke up at 1:45am and stayed up until 4:15am.  I don’t know why. Interestingly, this interrupted night didn’t slow him down in the slightest.  He galloped through his birthday with his usual zest.  Or, rather, staggered.  This picture pretty well captures where he’s at in terms of the transition to bi-pedalism.  Not quite there yet, but almost… We kept the presents pretty simple.  It doesn’t take much to impress a one-year-old.  Tissue
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  • 23 Birthday Boy

    One year ago, my family grew, my heart expanded, and I met the world’s most perfect baby boy. What a difference a year makes. 

  • 19 Concerning Birthday Parties

    Buggie turns one on Friday.  Miss Mouse will be three next month.  Inquiring minds want to know: what sort of festivities are we planning for these momentous occasions?  Will there be parties?  Balloon animals?  Themed cupcakes, pinatas, and goody bags? Um, no. It turns out that, as much as I adore parties — preferably with themes — I’m just not on board with birthday parties for babies and toddlers.  I can’t muster up the enthusiasm for a no-holds-barred fete for my son, who won’t remember the event, or for my daughter, who doesn’t know she’s “supposed” to have a birthday
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  • 17 At Home Around the World

    My son tried injera for the first time today.  Injera is a spongy, slightly sour pancake-like bread that features prominently in any Ethiopian meal.  Meals are served on a plate-sized piece of injera, with each dish splopped artfully onto a section of the bread.  It’s good stuff.  I love Ethiopian food.  Josh can’t stand it.  Miss Mouse wouldn’t consider trying it. But Buggie?  Buggie will eat anything. More, please!  We spent the afternoon at a picnic organized by our local “families of adopted Ethiopian children” support group.  Pittsburgh actually has a thriving community of adoptive families and there were about 20 families
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  • 15 Job Satisfaction

    Tonight, my personal blog and my professional life coincide because what’s most on my mind is how much I love my job.  I switched jobs in June, taking a Community Relations/ Fundraising gig with a human services non-profit serving the area I live in. It had been a long time since I woke up every morning eager to go to work. These days, I’m planning a 5K charity walk, brainstorming content for an upcoming newsletter, working out an editorial calendar of program videos I want to make, scheduling lunches with donors, coordinating an emergency food drive for our Food Pantry,
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  • 13 Piecing it Together

    Miss Mouse and I have discovered that we share a common passion for puzzles.*  I absolutely adore a good jigsaw and will happily spend many hours carefully piecing one together, preferably with a book on tape on in the background.  Sadly, I don’t get to do much puzzling these days since I don’t have a big enough table that doesn’t get used nightly for dinner! Yesterday, my daughter put her new Woodland Princess puzzle together at least thirty times.  As soon as she finished, she’d pat it lovingly then announce — “I’m going to do it again” — and disassemble
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  • 11 Like Sister, Like Brother

    February, 2010 September, 2011 What is it about that cupboard? And  speaking of family resemblance…

  • 10 In which gorillas interrupt my sleep

    Is there any sound less welcome at 2am than that of your three-year-old’s bedroom door opening as she charges out of her room, headed for yours…for the fifth time that night? All of a sudden, bedtime is an issue in our house again.  Back in March, shortly after Miss Mouse migrated to her big girl bed, we had some trouble with bedtime.  Or rather, I did.  She was always good for Josh.  But since then, we’d gotten into a great, fuss-free routine. Said routine is now gone. These days, when I try to put Miss Mouse to bed, I am
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  • 7 Cookies Aren’t Snacks

    I got an email from a parenting site I subscribe to that promised to deliver ideas for “22 Healthy Kids Snacks.”  Of the twenty-two “snacks,” eight were sweets.  A few of these eight recipes attempted to be healthy (like the beets in the whoopie pies recipe) but the rest?  Frosted sugar cookies.  Peanut butter cookies.  Jello made with sweetened condensed milk.  “Oatmeal Snack Cakes.”  Nice try at disguising oatmeal cookies, but the presence of whole-wheat flour can’t counteract the fact that the first four ingredients were fats and sugars. Does this look like a “Healthy Kids Snack” to you? I sometimes
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  • 5 Apple Crisp

    With Labor Day marking the emotional, if not official, end of summer, I marked the occasion by making my first fall dessert: apple crisp.  Apple crisp is one of my clan’s handful of family recipes.  We don’t have many, but the ones we have are mighty fine. Because all the rules are more lax the second time around, we let Buggie sample the apple crisp and ice cream. He was a big fan and proceeded to clamber on me with single-minded determination while I tried to ward him off long enough to eat my dessert. Help! Fortunately for me, his
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  • 4 What is it about Eric Carle?

    Josh and I have the (potentially annoying to outsiders) habit of speaking for the non-verbal members of our family.  This includes the dog — whose “voice” is somewhat dopey, frequently confused, and mostly focused on food consumption and bodily functions — and Buggie, who also talks a lot about food and poop but sounds smarter when he does so. Anyways, I get so used to inventing/imagining Buggie’s thoughts and preferences that it’s always a bit of a surprise when he voices them himself! Despite my recent assertion that Buggie’s favorite book is “Ten in the Bed” by Penny Dale, it
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  • 3 Summer Baby Grunge

    We spent the day at Raccoon Creek State Park today for what I suspect may be our Last Big Adventure of the Summer.  Not that we won’t have Big Autumn Adventures (in fact, we have more than one planned already) but Labor Day does traditionally mark the end of the summer season and the rest of the weekend is threatening to be horrid and rainy. As I look ahead to fall, one of the things I will miss from our summer adventures days is Summer Baby Grunge.  I may be a weirdy but I just love the patina of stuff
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  • 2 Fitting in Fitness

    Like pretty much every mother I know, I never really feel like there are enough hours in the day.  Life seems to flash by in a blur of diapers, computer screens, and Tinkerbell dolls.  I work.  I parent.  I cook.  I (sometimes) clean.  And you want me to exercise somewhere in there?  Surely you jest. And yet, exercise really isn’t optional.  If I can’t keep moving, the Three Pugnacious Pounds will multiply.  I know they’re just waiting for the opportunity.  Plus, working out can be a great “me-time stress buster.”  If you can find the time. I’m trying to get better
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August 2011

  • 31 Things to Tell Daddy

    Josh has been in Ghana for the past 10 days on a mission trip.  Ten days in Africa is pretty close to his definition of heaven (had it been 10 months or 10 years, it’d be even closer!), but I knew he would miss his kiddos who have this shocking habit of growing and changing every time you turn around. Thus, to chronicle our adventures while he was away, Miss Mouse and I came up with An Idea.  We took a giant piece of poster board and turned it into an ongoing diary/art project entitled Things To Tell Daddy.  Every
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  • 29 Onward to Preschool, Tinkerbell!

    Miss Mouse started preschool today.  She’d been visiting for a few hours each day last week, but today was her first full day.  Was she excited?  You be the judge… In fact, Miss Mouse spent all of last week in a near-delirium of preschool anticipation.  The big classroom with acres of new toys.  The new teachers to charm.  The exclusive access to the big kid playground.  Every morning last week, she inquired brightly — “Do I get to spend the whole day at preschool today?” — and was crestfallen when she learned that no, she only got to visit. In
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  • 26 Three Pugnacious Pounds

    In discussing my weight loss journey, I’ve spoken mostly in abstracts, but let’s get specific.  I currently weigh 160 pounds.  Or is it 157?  Well, that depends on the week and the disposition of the three pugnacious pounds with whom I have been wrestling for the past month. I lose them.  I gain them.  I manage to evade them.  They find me again and mock me.  It’s really rather frustrating.  My goal weight is 150 pounds, seven (or is it ten?) pounds hence but I have definitely hit a plateau (or perhaps a brick wall).  I’m snacking again and am
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  • 23 Choosing Daycare

    I make no apologies for the fact that I’m a full-time working momma.  I took three months off work following the birth of each kiddo, and then they headed to daycare and I headed back to the office.  I love my job, to be sure, and we need the income…but even if I lived in some magical land where we had more money than we knew what to do with, I would still send my kids to daycare, at least part time. Why?  Well, let me share with you the daily report we got from Miss Mouse’s school last week.
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  • 22 Creek-walking

    Our trip to Idlewild this weekend was promoted from great to awesome by a friend of mine who graciously offered us the use of their family’s cabin, conveniently located ten minutes from the park (which is itself almost 2 hours from our house).  While considerably less rugged than the Camp we were at last weekend, the cabin was a change of pace and the kids had a ball. Connect4 kept her busy for hours.   Buggie’s favorite activity was being bathed in the kitchen sink, while the highlight of Miss Mouse’s stay was “creek-walking.”  There was a lovely little stream
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  • 21 From Strangers to BFF in Five Seconds Flat

    This weekend was our first trip to Idlewild.  For those of you who grew up near me, think “Santa’s Village on Steroids.”  For those of you who didn’t, it’s an amusement park geared to little kids.  Mini roller coasters, train rides, carousels, etc.  It’s very much a Pittsburgh Thing, but we hadn’t gone yet because I didn’t want to shell out the (big) bucks before Miss Mouse was old enough to enjoy it. But boy, did she enjoy it.  See that girl she’s holding hands with?  Her name is Megan.  She’s four.  We don’t know her. No, seriously.  Miss Mouse cheerfully
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  • 18 Teachable Moments

    When parenting a toddler, it’s good to think of mistakes and misbehavior as “learning opportunities” or “teachable moments.” It helps you to not lose your mind when your child goes off the rails.  So let’s just say that Miss Mouse had a chance to learn a lot yesterday morning. We’re working hard to bring Mouse’s whining under control.  She has this nerve-grating habit of expressing all her wishes/desires/needs in a tearful whine.  I know it’s par for the course for a child her age, but that doesn’t mean I should accept that behavior! Thus, I repeat the following phrase about a hundred
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  • 16 The Family That Reads Together

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re readers in this family.  Josh consumes books with the insatiable hunger of a crack addict; Miss Mouse usually has at least one tome tucked into bed with her at night; and I am enjoying a steady diet of adoption-related literature.  Buggie prefers to chew on his books, but we’ve managed to establish a routine of stories before bed with him, too. It’s only been recently, however, that I have managed to do any daytime reading.  The demands for my attention levied by my children are generally such that curling up
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  • 14 Do It Anyways

    We spent the night on Friday at what is affectionately known in my husband’s family as Camp.  It’s a piece of property up in the Allegheny National Forest that has been used for decades as a huntin’ camp.  (Note that there is no “g.”  G’s do not exist in that part of the world.) We knew we wanted to spend Saturday stomping about with family, but there was some debate about whether to drive up Friday and spend the night, or do the whole up-and-back trip in one day.  Camp is…well…rustic.  I made the mistake of referring to it as
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  • 13 Babe in the Woods

    It’s a sad fact that most children spend exponentially more time indoors staring at screens than they do romping outside.  This is unfortunate for all the obvious reasons (childhood obesity, stunted brain development, commercialization of childhood, and on and on) but there’s also another piece to the puzzle: Kids, when given the opportunity to experience it, love the great outdoors. I’m pretty sure my daughter isn’t the only child who goes somewhat berserk at the chance to play outside.  This weekend, we did a quick outdoor adventure blitz by spending the night in the Allegheny National Forest at Josh’s family’s
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  • 11 Bracing for Baby Deprivation

    Every now and again, as I gaze at my chubby, smiley, fabulous ten-month-old son, I’m walloped by a wave of sadness.  Out of nowhere it hits me so hard it literally takes my breath away: I’m going to be baby-less soon, and I am not ready.  Miss Mouse is already two-going-on-teen and Buggie will be walking, talking, and sassing me sometime in the next blink of an eye. I’m absolutely ecstatic about our plans to adopt Baby3.  But the reality is, it’s really going to be Child3.  Odds are good that our third child will be a toddler by the time he
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  • 8 Just Peachy

    As it happens, I’m not the only member of the family with a bit of a fresh peach habit.  My son shares my fondness for that particular summer delicacy.  I just had to figure out how to serve it. Turns out, Buggie boy doesn’t like the skin of fresh peaches.  When I chopped them up for him, he was lukewarm.  When I gave him an entire peach to gnaw on one day, he was ecstatic.  He basically chewed a hole in the peach, then ate the flesh out, discarding the skin.  Smart kid. All went well until he chomped firmly
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  • 7 Sunscreen Mowhawk

    My son is so fair he is practically translucent.  His blond hair provides virtually no protection against the summer rays and I haven’t figured out a way (short of resorting to a staple gun) to keep a hat on his head.  In order to protect him when we’re out and about, I slather sunscreen on his head. And then I spike his hair.

  • 7 Oh, Baby — 18 Months Later

    About eighteen months ago, I was all in a dither over Miss Mouse’s first baby doll.  I wanted my girl to have the perfect doll to be her constant companion.  After a long hunt, I found an exquisite, eco-friendly doll.  Then, about a year after that, I searched high and low for another great baby doll to be Miss Mouse’s “big sister” present, even having special clothes made for it through Etsy.  Then I didn’t give it to Miss Mouse because it was too nice. Yesterday, we got Buggie his first baby doll.  It came from Walmart and cost $4.
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  • 6 Princess Shashaborma

    Miss Mouse is quite enamored of her pretty pink pull-ups which she wears at night.  They’re adorned with three Disney princesses: Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Tiana from that new one I’ve never seen about a frog. This morning, I asked Miss Mouse who was on her pull-ups.  She replied without hesitation: Princess Shashaborma, Princess Raromeen, and Princess Shinkopia. No, we don’t watch much TV at our house.

  • 3 Morning Snuggles

    Mornings have really become a time of intense mother-daughter bonding in our house, one of the many (MANY) benefits of my new-and-improved-and-closer-to-home job.  Having traded my hour-long commute for a fifteen minute jaunt to work, our mornings have slowed down a bit.  Miss Mouse frequently joins me for some songs in the shower and has taken to demanding a morning snuggle in mommy’s bed. Here’s how it works.  As soon as she wakes up (often, magically, just before my alarm goes off), she blasts out of her room like a small, tousle-headed freight train, throws open the door to our
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  • 1 Baby-Led Solids, Four Months In

    My son’s ten-month birthday reminds me that we are four months into our baby-led solids adventure.  It seemed like the right time for an update.  Unless something weird happens, we’re poised to have weaned two kids without resorting to jarred baby food at all.  I won’t lie — that knowledge makes me happy. Buggie continues to eat with gusto.  Seriously, that kid will eat (or at least try) anything.  Indian butter chicken?  Sure.  Venison stroganoff with noodles?  Why not?  Vegetable couscous? Bring it on.  This amazing culinary adventurousness is all the more striking for its marked absence in Buggie’s big
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July 2011

  • 30 Finally, Friends!

    I have been bound and determined to have play dates with Miss Mouse’s “friends” from the time she was approximately six months old.  I was so enthralled by the notion of her playing with little buddies that it took me a really long time to accept that kids really do not play — together — until they’re considerably older.  Mobility is an important first step, but being able to crawl doesn’t really make them ready for great social interaction. And so I waited.  And kept trying, inviting friends over and hauling Miss Mouse to kid-friendly activities.  Finally, we’re there.  Today,
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  • 27 Did You U2?

    Confession time: I fell asleep briefly during the U2 concert last night. Yes, I know it was The Event of the Summer for Pittsburgh.  Yes, I know they put on an amazing show.  Yes, I know I was surrounded by tens of thousands of screaming fans.  Yes, I know Bono is still sexy and apparently will be until the day he dies.  But allow me to say two things in my defense. One, the show started about the time I usually head for bed. Two, once you reach a certain sound threshold, even great music starts to become ignorable noise.
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  • 25 Shower Solitude…Interrupted

    I have always been a fan of a good hot shower.  I can remember living in a freezing cold sorority house in college and taking half-hour long showers in the middle of the afternoon to warm up.  It was heaven. When I became a mother, showers took on a whole new aura of magic.  Those blissful moments of sudsy solitude — made more precious for their rarity during the sleepless, manic days of early motherhood — were indescribably refreshing to both body and soul. Let me just say that the calming, rejuvenating powers of the shower are somewhat diminished when
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  • 24 Ten Months in Three Words

    My son is ten months old.  Which is strange, considering the fact that I’m pretty sure he was born last week.  Maybe two weeks ago.  But definitely no more.  And yet, my camera tells a different story: If asked to describe my beautiful boy in three words, I’d go with: intrepid, self-directed, lovey. Intrepid.  Wow, that kid is all over the place.  As soon as he learned to crawl, the world beckoned to him, begging to be explored.  He craws into cupboards.  Over obstacles.  Into dog crates.  Keeping him away from power cords is a full-time occupation.  He can rough
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  • 22 Peach Binge

    photo by La Grande Farmers’ Market It’s July, and you know what that means. Well, yes it means 110 degree heat, 110 percent humidity, and mosquitoes the size of house pets, but that’s not what I meant, you jaded person, you. No, July means PEACHES.  Oh, my.  The bliss.  The joy.  The rapture.  Somehow I tend to forget from year to year how much I love fresh peaches.  Maybe it’s because in the off season I am tempted by the imported impostors at the grocery store and so my taste bud memory becomes clouded by mushy, mealy fakes. When I was
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  • 20 Sweat, Corn, and Peaches

    I switched jobs recently.  It was an excellent move for a lot of reasons, both personal and professional.  On the personal side of the equation is the fact that the organization I now work for does some terrific outreach to refugee families living in the area.  I’m jumping on this fact as an opportunity to “color my world” as the adoption experts put it.  The reality is, most aspects of my life (our friends, our daycare, our church) are white white and more white.  And our family isn’t going to be much longer. Thus it was that today I brought
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  • 19 When your two-year-old reads, it freaks you out.

    Miss Mouse loves to read.  It’s her favorite activity, second only to looking at family photos.  More and more, she likes to read to herself.  She sits on the floor, book open in front of her, chattering away happily.  She periodically holds the book up so that her audience (be it brother or baby doll) can appreciate the pictures. She’s heard some of the stories so many times that she’s started to memorize passages.  It makes you do a double-take to hear her reading — and getting it right. But that’s just a two-year-old with a good memory and a
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  • 17 How Healthy Snacks Make You Fat

    photo by mathiasbaert Being on Weight Watchers has really made me aware of the danger of snacking.  For me, snacking is my Achilles heel when it comes to pound pruning (well, that and a marked susceptibility to baked goods).  I eat pretty sensibly at mealtimes…but used to supplement those meals with a steady stream of gnoshing throughout the day. I knew I snacked, but I never worried about it because I ate “healthy snacks.”  Ah, yes.  Healthy snacks.  Like almonds.  Or a cheese stick.  Or reduced-fat Wheat Thins.  All “healthy” when it comes to snack foods, right?  It’s not like
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  • 15 Miss Mouse Explains It All

    (Yes, that title does hearken back to the days of a certain television show…) Miss Mouse has reached the age where she is very keen on order, explanation, and mapping out her world.  She wants to know what happens when (and why, of course) and has started taking an interest in cause-and-effect.  It seems like 90% of her sentences these days can be classified as “when/then” or “if/then” statements.  Such as… …”When you are done with your sandwich, we can go play outside.” …“After you brush your teeth, we will go to school.”…”If I hit Buggie with my book, then it goes
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  • 12 Life in a Crocodile

    These days, I spend most afternoons lounging in a three-foot-wide inflatable crocodile kiddie pool. Yup.  This is my life.  It’s not bad, really.  The pool has just enough resistance in its inflatable sides for me to rest my head on the crocodile while I stick my legs out over his sides.  We’ve got a nice yard umbrella to provide some shade and — assuming I remember to fill the croc early enough in the day — the sun warms the water nicely. Miss Mouse vascillates between loving the crocodile pool and being totally unimpressed.  Some days she’s content to dip
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  • 10 Wildwood Highlands

    Today I rode on a spinning-teacup-esqe carnival ride.  It was geared to three year olds.  I nearly yakked. A cheery wave before the nausea set in… Miss Mouse, on the other hand, had the time of her life.  We weren’t ten seconds into the ride when she started planning what color cup she was going to ride in next.  Ah, the iron stomach of youth. Josh is out of town at a church convention and my folks and I took the opportunity to play hookie from church (don’t judge me!) and take the kids to Wildwood Highlands.  I’d never heard
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  • 10 Adoption Update

    Miss Mouse is napping, Buggie is cheerfully entertaining himself with his fabric stash, and I just finished up an adoption-related email so it seemed like a good time for a quick State of the Adoption update. We are currently in the “home study” phase of the adoption process.  Basically, there are three levels of approval that you have to get to adopt.  First, you have to convince a social worker that you’ll be a good parent.  Then, based in part on said social worker’s recommendation, you submit paperwork to convince the US government that they should let you adopt a
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  • 10 No Time to Write

    My son learned to crawl on Friday.  I’d love to expand on this announcement, but he’s currently moving purposefully toward the basket of dog toys, with mayhem in his eyes.  I’ll be back someday…

  • 6 Why Exercise Helps Reduce Criminal Activity

    “Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy.  And happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.  They just don’t.”   ~ Elle Woods, Legally Blonde While perhaps not the most convincing legal argument in the history of the world, our girl Elle was on to something with her exercise-as-crime-reducer insight.  Three sessions into my Zumba adventure and I am hooked.  Why?  Because it makes me feel awesome. Well, when it’s not making me feel uncoordinated, asthmatic, and clammy.  As I’m starting to learn the steps, the clumsiness is slowly beginning to abate, allowing me to enjoy the exercise-derived endorphins more.  There
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  • 4 Living Treasures Animal Park

    I love finding a new Kid-Friendly Destination.  One of the many things I adore about living in Pittsburgh is the bountiful assortment of kid activities: the Zoo, the Children’s Museum, the Science Center, the Natural History Museum, Tyke Hikes, parks, pools, fountains, ball games, and a seemingly-endless supply of other Fun Things. And yet, there’s always a new one to be discovered. This weekend, my folks and I took the kids to Living Treasures Animal Park.  It’s north of the City about an hour, so it’s more of a trek than we usually undertake, but it was worth the drive.
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  • 1 The Best (Free) Toy Ever

    In the two and a half years since I became a mother, I’ve spent a fair chunk of change on toys for my kids.  From teethers and rattles to push strollers and baby dolls to puzzles and books, the opportunities to spend money on your children are quite literally endless.  But after all of that, one toy stands alone above all the rest as by far The Toy that has brought the most prolonged enjoyment to both of my children… Fabric scraps.  So simple, so basic, and yet so perfect. The Christmas when Miss Mouse was one, I hit upon
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June 2011

  • 28 The Garage Undertaking

    I started a new job yesterday (yay!).  My last day at the old job was Tuesday of last week and I purposefully gave myself a few days “off” in between those events.  Days when the children could be packed off to daycare and I could have some time to myself.  What did I do with this luxurious three day holiday?  Sleep?  Do my nails?  Watch movies? I cleaned the garage. Look, I realize this probably labels me as exceedingly lame, but I had been looking forward to the chance to clean my garage for months.  I knew I needed a couple kid-free
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  • 26 Flash Points

    Flash points.  Every mother I know has them: those points of contention with our children that cause us to go from sane, rational adults to wild-eyed maniacs in mere nanoseconds.  Said children, naturally, are well aware of what our flash points are and exploit them with consummate skill.  What’s funny about flash points is that, to the outside observer, they’re often insignificant things that don’t seem worthy of a full-on, knock-down battle. Like hair ribbons. Miss Mouse’s hair is a flash point for me…but usually only on Sundays.  During the week, I’m content to let her out of the house
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  • 24 The Only Two Things You Need When Flying With a Baby

    Are you terrified of embarking on an airplane trip with a baby?  Do you break out in a cold sweat at the mental image of sitting in a sea of judgmental strangers while your infant screams and throws Cheerios?   Fear not.  I am here to help.  If you ever do have to fly with a baby, you only need to pack two things to ensure a pleasant trip: a magazine and some curling ribbon. Yes, friends, that’s it.  No need to shell out big bucks on fancy baby toys to cram into a diaper bag the size of a
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  • 21 Boobs, Reclaimed

    Well, my son has officially renounced his claim on my breasts.  I nursed the little man for about eight months (and was thrilled to make it to the six-month mark with no help from formula), but Buggie is a now a bottle baby.  It happened gradually, and (mostly) without sadness for either party.  Following a showdown with my pediatrician at Buggie’s six-month checkup, I bought some formula to mix with baby oatmeal (though I ultimately ended up sticking with baby-led solids rather than baby food). Once the formula was in the house, the temptation to supplement Buggie’s boob bottles was
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  • 20 A Quiet Sunday Dinner

    Just another quiet Sunday dinner at our house. http://www.youtube.com/get_player Look, I realize that laughing hysterically when your toddler and infant scream at each other at the top of their lungs at the table only reinforces a negative behavior, but I just couldn’t help it!

  • 19 SB&J

    Yesterday’s Toddler Fest was a potluck picnic, with everybody bringing a toddler-friendly dish to share.  We had cheese and crackers, baked beans, pasta salad, lots of fruit, veggies, pretzels, gold fish, cheese dip, and some truly divine “dirt pudding.”  (You know, the stuff with the crushed Oreos, vanilla pudding, and gummy worms.  Could anything be more appealing to me small children?) My offering was good-old SB&J; sandwiches: Sunbutter and Jelly.  Among Miss Mouse’s wee friends there are some serious food allergies.  Like, epi-pen at the ready food allergies.  Their school is a totally peanut-free facility, so we followed those rules
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  • 18 Toddler Fest 2011

    This afternoon, I had ten toddlers, four infants, sixteen adults, and one big brother in my backyard. What’s that?  Yes, on purpose. And no, I don’t need your psychiatrist’s phone number, thank you all the same… It was Toddler Fest 2011, a gathering of the families of Miss Mouse’s friends from school.  Now, I know that “they” suggest you limit the guest list at kid parties to one kid per year of your child’s age.  We surpassed that ever so slightly.  But since it was really my party and I’m 29, it came out about right. I had been feeling frustrated for
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  • 15 Getting My Zumb-On

    While I remain enthusiastic about the wonders of Weight Watchers, I do recognize that my quest to beat the baby weight (and dig myself out of periodic holes of overindulgence) requires exercise as well as smart eating.  Exercise is an area where I tend to come up short, but I’m vowing to do better. Thus it was that tonight I embarked on my first Zumba class.  Zumba, for those unfamiliar, is an aerobics class set to the rhythms of Latin dance.  Everyone I know who does Zumba sings its praises as a great cardio workout and a lot of fun
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  • 12 Lose Our Way

    Today’s post is dedicated to the Christian rocker TobyMac, since his song “Get Back Up” provides the musical backdrop to how my diet went this weekend.  I’ll share a sampling with you… We lose our way, We get back up again It’s never too late to get back up again, One day you will shine again, You may be knocked down, But not out forever… Ah yes.  With every adventure in dieting comes at least one epic meltdown, right?  Mine happened on Saturday.  I was home for the weekend and my mom organized a “Meet Buggie” party for a bunch
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  • 10 Small Town, Small World

    I grew up in “Mid-Sized Town USA” (which somehow doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “Small Town USA”).  My hometown is west of Chicago in almost-rural Illinois.  We’re not a one-horse town, but it sometimes felt like it.  Feed jackets were a common sight at my high school, some of my friends had horses, and corn stalks outnumbered humans approximately 84,000 to one. It’s the kind of place where people tend to stay.  I sometimes forget this because many of my friends from high school did leave the area (though several have drifted back).  But, by and
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  • 9 Flying Solo…with Babies

    Today, I undertook the most Herculean task that I can think of: I flew from Pittsburgh to Chicago with my children.  Without my husband.  Miss Mouse, Buggie, and I are visiting my parents for the weekend and so the three of us bravely navigated security lines, baggage claims, and public restrooms together for the better part of the day. We laughed.  We cried.  We spilled apple juice in our laps. I planned a lot for this adventure.  It was Buggie’s first flight and my first time trying to do any sort of major outing by myself with the kiddos.  I
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  • 6 Summer Bounty

    The great thing about attempting to lose weight during the summer is the abundance of fresh produce.  This was the centerpiece of our dinner last night. Watermelon, cantaloupe, green grapes, red grapes, strawberries For the kids, I added grilled cheese sandwiches.  Josh and I just munched on the fruit, as we’d had a hefty lunch at a post-church picnic potluck.  The four of us sat outside on a blanket after our big hike, gnawing on cantaloupe and throwing grapes at each other. I had to strip my son down to his skivvies before I let him back in the house,
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  • 5 In which I buy another baby carrier

    I* bought a baby carrier this weekend.  Yes, another one.  Don’t judge me.  I have a problem, but at least I know it.  The new carrier isn’t a replacement for my Ergo, though.  I still love the Ergo.  No, the kokopax is a frame backpack and was intended to replace the big honking Kelty Kids hiking pack that I bought at a garage sale several years ago. Honking big pack, left.  Sexy svelt pack, right. The kokopax is small, lightweight (3 pounds!), and folds down compactly enough to fit into the overhead bin of an airplane.  It was that last
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  • 4 Find Me at Life as Mom!

    Oooh la la!  I’m excited — today I am featured on the blog Life as Mom as a guest contributor.  Check out my 7 Tips for a Successful Day of Freezer Cooking!

  • 3 Making the Most of Moments: A Working Momma’s Mantra

    I work full-time.  It’s a financial necessity for our family right now, but it’s also a choice I’ve made.  The reality is that this decision means that most days I spend less time with my kids than I would like.  So when I do spend time with them, I try hard to really make it count and to be fully present for them.  Which can be tough when there are dirty dishes in the sink, dog hair coating the carpet, and six loads of laundry calling my name.  But it’s totally worth it to let those things slide. I also
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  • 2 Food Culture (Or: Why I’m Chubby and What I’m Doing About It)

    When I blogged a few weeks ago about joining Weight Watchers in order to continue my Battle Against the Bulge, a good friend of mine emailed me in response. She wrote to say: “We have such a pernicious food culture in the U.S.  I can think of practically none of my contemporaries who struggled the way young mothers do today to lose their post-partum weight.  And I am perplexed as to why you, in particular, are finding it hard, given your acute awareness of the pitfalls all around us.” I’ve been pondering her words and have found the experience helpful. 
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May 2011

  • 31 29 Gifts: Final Reflections

    Here I am on the other side of my month of giving.  At the end of the day (or rather, month), I feel… …a bit ambivalent, actually.  The concept of the 29 Gifts project really inspired me, and I embarked with great enthusiasm, but I must confess that as the month wore on, it started to feel a bit forced.  The idea is to approach each day with an open mind and an open heart, eager to give gifts of joyous abundance.  But some days, it just felt like one more thing I had to do in the midst of
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  • 29 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Nine: A Book for My Babies

    Today, the whole family headed to a nearby river/park/forest preserve thing for a grand afternoon adventure.  It was awesome.  In honor of the outdoor experience, my final gift of the 29 Gifts project was to buy a book for my kiddos to share.  It’s a lovely nature-themed bedtime book that walks through how different animals say goodnight.  Each page has the theme of “If you were my baby XXXX, I’d do such and such.”  It’s great. Thus ends the 29 Gifts adventure.  I hope to type up some concluding thoughts about the experience tomorrow!

  • 29 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Eight: Going with the Flow

    I am, ostensibly, on vacation.  My gift yesterday was to (attempt to) act like it.  I’m not a do-nothing kind of girl.  I schedule my leisure time.  Hey, I don’t get much of it so I worry about “wasting” my free time.  On my next day off, I plan to clean out the garage… Josh’s family is much better at just hanging out. Thus, there’s not much on the agenda for the weekend — a fact which tends to make me twitch.  Yesterday, I tried to go with the flow.  I took a nap with Buggie.  Went for a walk
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  • 29 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Seven: Subway for My Sista

    We’re in Beckley, West Virginia, visiting my in-laws for the holiday weekend.  Josh is the second child in a gang of five rowdy kids and they’re all here.  It’s fun.  Josh’s three younger sisters have cheefully adopted my only child self as one of their own (even inviting me once to join in on a “matching sisters tatoo” adventure, though I declined) and his older brother genially harrasses me like one of the clan.  We all have a lot of fun together. On Friday, I popped out to pick up a sandwich for lunch, accompanied by eldest sister Melissa.  I
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  • 28 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Six: Birthday Flowers

    To be honest, some days the 29 Gifts thing feels like a chore.  I’m supposed to approach giving with a joyful heart, but sometimes it’s tough.  Friday, on the other hand, was one of those great days where an opportunity for a gift presented itself and made me truly happy to be able to complete it. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I realized that Friday was the birthday of Miss Mouse’s all time favorite teacher at KinderCare.  Though Miss Mouse graduated from her class six month ago, Miss Lauren remains adored by my wee toddler.  And for good reason. 
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  • 26 Technology at Daycare: A Brief Rant

    photo by chimothy27 Yesterday, I received an email from a group I support (Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood) which sought to raise the alarm about a new draft statement regarding Technology and Early Childhood, under consideration by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  The article can be found here:  I’m not always a “take action” kind of person, but this time I felt moved to respond.  I have pretty strong opinions about children and screens and have taken steps to keep my children as “unplugged” as possible. Below is the text of an email I
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  • 25 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Five: Sophie Success

    Today, I managed to successfully complete the gift I had tried to give yesterday.  Sophie Giraffe went to school, en route to Miss Nicole and her new daughter.  Score!

  • 25 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Four: More Generous Than Intended

    Yesterday, I had intended that my gift of the day be a baby present for a beloved teacher at the kids’ daycare who had recently welcomed her daughter into the world.  After much thought, I settled on a Sophie Giraffe, as she has become Buggie’s favorite toy. But the gift was not to be.  In the morning, the beautifully fluffy gift bag with giraffe ensconced within sat forlornly on my kitchen counter as my husband flew out the door in a whirlwind of diaper bags, rain jackets, and a baby bottles.  No problem, thought I.  I’ll just drop if off
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  • 23 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Three: Birthday Smiles

    Today I had another one of those “gift-giving opportunities will present themselves if only you keep your eyes open” moments.  I went into the day with no plan as to what I might give as my gift for the day… …and what do you know?  Yesterday was my co-worker Pat’s birthday.  Pat is a fabulous woman about my mother’s age who works in our finance office.  She’s a surrogate momma-at-work and we swap baby stories because she’s got a grandson she adores and spends a lot of time with.  She reads the blog (hi, Pat!) and always has such nice
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  • 22 29 Gifts, Day Twenty Two: 75 cents of smiles

    Today, I did another simple “random acts of kindness” type gift.  We do a lot of our grocery shopping at Aldi. One of the ways that this (fabulous) store keeps its prices low is by making you pay a deposit to use a shopping cart.  Stick in a quarter and you get to use their cart.  You get the quarter back when you return the cart. So today, when I returned our cart, I stuck a quarter in the first cart in each of the three lines of carts in the corral.  The next three people to come grab a
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  • 22 29 Gifts, Day Twenty One: 5K and 50 Bucks

    My gift yesterday was dragging my whole family along to participate in a 5K fundraiser walk for a local cancer charity.  HairPeace (great name) helps women in the midst of chemo treatments get wigs when their insurance companies won’t cover it.  Small organization, great mission, awesome lady running it. The walk was actually a conglomerate.  A local insurance company sponsors an overall Walk for a Healthy Community, and then allows any charity that wants to participate, to join in on the fun, while raising money for their specific causes.  There were probably at least two dozen organizations that took part
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  • 21 29 Gifts, Day Twenty: Happy First Birthday, Logan!

    One of my dear friends has a wee little man poised on the brink of turning one.  I can’t quite remember when his exact birthday is, but I do recall that I was supposed to go visit her over Memorial Day weekend last year and had to cancel the visit because she was busy giving birth.  So it’s sometime soon! In honor of the occasion, I boxed up a super cute organic t-shirt yesterday with a cartoony elephant riding a bicycle on the chest and popped it in the mail. Happy First Birthday, Logan!

  • 21 29 Gifts, Day Nineteen: Amish Bread

    Thursday’s gift was of the pay-it-forward type.  On the first day of the 29 Gifts Challenge, a church member gave me a back of “starter” for something called Amish bread.  It had ten days of instructions along with.  Mush the bag.  Add more flour.  Open to let out air and reseal.  Etc.  On the 10th day, you partition your bag of batter into five batches.  You are supposed to give away three, keep one for yourself, and bake with the fourth (by adding more ingredients, including — interestingly — vanilla pudding mix). So, for ten days (well, eleven — I
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  • 18 Five Go-To Foods for a Baby-Led Meal

    Okay, he’s not eating, but he sure is cute! I haven’t been blogging much besides the 29 Gifts lately.  I’m still committed to limiting my time online and blogging my gifts each day takes about all the time I’ve got.  But I did want to take a moment to do a quick update on our adventure in baby-led solids.  Short version: it’s going great!  Buggie is really developing into a champion eater.  He can handle a wide variety of foods and is happy to try anything I put in front of him.  If he doesn’t like it, he generously shares
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  • 18 29 Gifts, Day Eighteen: Extra Z’s — Redux

    Today I once again gave the gift of extra sleep.  But this time, I gave it to myself.  Buggie is many things, but a good sleeper is not one of them.  I’ve been sleep deprived for nearly eight months now, and sometimes it’s worse than others.  This weekend, I had a big fundraiser for my non-profit and it set me back in the sleep department.  I didn’t hit my bed until midnight Saturday night and little man was up several times before finally waking for good at 5am.  Egad. So I called in sick and allowed myself to spend the
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  • 18 29 Gifts, Day Seventeen: Good Intentions

    Well, yesterday, my plan was to give the gift of talking with an out-of-state friend.  In fact, I called two out-of-state friends and never managed to connect with either.  But I did leave nice messages on their voicemail and decided that was the gift of good intentions!

  • 16 29 Gifts, Day Sixteen: The Gift of Skinny

    Today I gave myself a gift: I joined Weight Watchers.  Having reached my pre-Buggie weight, I’ve gotten seriously stuck and I feel like the clock is ticking.  Breastfeeding helps you shed pounds, but every day, the little man is eating more and more “real food” and before I know it, the boob juice weight loss plan will have come to an end.  I have a couple friends who actually gained back a chunk of weight when they stopped nursing.  Horrors! Josh and I joined together and I’m happy to have a companion on the weight-loss journey.  We’ve tried other methods
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  • 15 29 Gifts, Day Fifteen: Working Momma Support!

    My gift for today was a long, supportive message that I sent to a friend who is returning to work soon after the birth of her second child.  She had sent me a note, saying she needed a “you can do this” email to help her prepare for the transition.  I was happy to oblige.  I know how hard it is to juggle work and family life. And it is hard.  I love my job and I truly believe my work is meaningful and important. I also love my daycare and see my children thriving there.  But there are absolutely
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  • 15 29 Gifts, Day Fourteen: A Card for Grandpa

    My grandfather was in town last week for a few days.  As I may have mentioned before, my grandpa is awesome and I love spending time with him.  Seeing him meet and get to know my kids has been a wonderful blessing. Miss Mouse adores her “Grandpa Yarry” (she doesn’t do the letter “l” very well yet.  He’s Grandpa Larry to the rest of us), though we did have to preemptively temper her enthusiasm with conversations about how it wasn’t a good idea to jump on Grandpa Larry.  I had visions of her leaping into his lap and breaking something!!
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  • 13 29 Gifts, Day Thirteen: An Iced Tea Thermos and Two Pinwheels

    Tomorrow is the big annual fundraising gala for the nonprofit I work for.  It’s been my job (with help!) to coordinate the event and it’s going to be awesome.  We’re expecting about 300 people who will mix, mingle, and show their support of my organization while munching on culinary delights from a bunch of local restaurants and enjoying the sights of the funky art gallery venue. We’re doing a big silent auction and I spent some time today, racing around and picking up a few items to put the finishing touches on several baskets.  As a gift to the event,
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  • 13 29 Gifts, Day 12: Cards of Thanks

    On Thursday, I sent cards to two people at the health care center whose doctors delivered both Buggie and Miss Mouse.  Kathy is a childbirth educator we met with during both pregnancies, and was our doula during Buggie’s awesome birth.  With her support and encouragement, Buggie and I initiated our breastfeeding relationship within minutes of his birth.  I was exhausted, he was all gross, and we were the happiest people in the world.  Alice is an incredible nurse who was a huge support when I had my boob troubles with Miss Mouse and who helped me overcome some early hurdles
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  • 13 29 Gifts, Day Eleven: Loving Words

    Whew. It’s been a busy few days so I haven’t been able to document my last couple gifts.  So here we go… On Wednesday, my gift was resisting the urge to pick a fight with my husband.  He had an early-evening meeting but had assured me he would be home in time to help put the kids to bed.  But the meeting ran late.  I find it very difficult (very close to impossible) to put Buggie to bed when it’s just me with the kids.  The problem is his big sister, who wants to “help” by hanging off of the
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  • 10 29 Gifts, Day 10: Children’s Hospital Foundation

    It was 3:45pm.  I was standing in the checkout line of Walmart, fretting to myself because I hadn’t done my gift for the day yet.  I was about to head home and once home for the evening, my gift-giving opportunities shrink somewhat (though, happily, in our digital world, you can contribute to the charity of your choice at any hour!). I stepped up to the checkout to buy supplies for my agency’s big fundraiser this weekend and the checkout guy said cheerily: “Would you like to donate a dollar to support the Children’s Hospital Foundation?” Why yes, yes I would. 
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  • 9 29 Gifts, Day Nine: Random Acts of Daisies

    Today, I was inspired to make a “random acts of kindness” gift.  I had to pop into the local Whole Foods after work to pick up cilantro (because the quinoa black bean salad was simply not going to be complete without it).  I also grabbed a bouquet of purple daisies. I separated the daisies into individual stems and then tucked one or two under the windshield wipers of random cars in the parking lot.  A couple I managed to hook into the driver’s side door handles.  I didn’t stick around to see how anyone reacted — I’m hoping it brought
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  • 8 Our family is growing, but it’s not (quite) what you think…

    Mother’s Day seems like a very appropriate day to share the exciting news that my family is growing!  But before you raise your eyebrows and start quickly counting on your fingers (Buggie is only seven months old, after all), I’ll elaborate and say that this time, we are adding to our clan via adoption. Josh and I have set our feet on the long and winding road of international adoption.  We have submitted the first of what will be many many pieces of paperwork and have been formally accepted into the Ethiopia Adoption Program of a national adoption agency with
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  • 8 29 Gifts, Day Eight: A Card and a Prayer

    As today is Mother’s Day, coming up with a gift wasn’t hard — what was hard was convincing myself that the card I gave my mother was “enough” to count as a gift.  After all, I would have given her a card today regardless of whether I was participating in the 29 Gifts challenge. After dithering about this for a few minutes, though, I let it go.  The point of the month of giving is to give (duh) and to do so joyfully and with an open heart.  If your gift happens to be for a pre-defined occasion, that’s perfectly
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  • 8 29 Gifts, Day Seven: Little Giraffe

    Yesterday, Miss Mouse, my mother, and I went to a Mother’s Day Brunch at the zoo.  Just us girls (no boys allowed!).  We all wore hats, snarfed down muffins, stuffed french toast, and cookies, and enjoyed meeting some animals that were also invited to the brunch — a baby alligator, a great horned owl, and a llama! It’s hard for me to make it out of the zoo without spending some money in the gift shop.  My gift for today was a little board book with a finger puppet giraffe for Buggie (since he didn’t get to come!).  Miss Mouse
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  • 6 29 Gifts, Day Six: Extra Zzzzz’s

    I’m a morning person.  I wake completely the moment my alarm goes off and am usually in the shower within two minutes of opening my eyes.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve hit the snooze button in my life.  For nearly two years, I got up at 4:50 am each day to beat the morning rush hour, and it really wasn’t hard.  My husband is my polar opposite. Mornings are the bane of his existence.  He communicates primarily by grunts for the first half an hour (at least) after he awakens and I suspect that
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  • 5 Family: Unplugged

    We have made a conscious decision as parents to limit our kids’ exposure to “screens.”  And by “limit,” I mean “virtually eliminate.”  While Miss Mouse does enjoy looking at pictures on the computer and watching the occasional home video clip, that’s pretty much it.  We don’t watch Dora or Blues Clues or even Sesame Street, and when our pediatrician tried to distract Miss Mouse by asking her questions about various Disney Princesses, she got only a blank stare for her efforts.  Miss Mouse has no idea who Ariel is. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I am extremely satisfied with this
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  • 5 29 Gifts, Day Five: Stars

    photo by takingthemoney One of the things I’ve noticed about the 29 Gifts endeavor is that it really serves to motivate you to do those nice things you always mean to do, but don’t always make time for.  Like sending a card to a friend who needs a hug. This is Teacher Appreciation Week at the kids’ school and we parents were asked to write notes about their teachers on these star cut-outs they sent home.  I confess that I am sometimes “that mom,” who neglects to complete the homework assignments that come home with her child. But this time,
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  • 4 29 Gifts, Day Four: Hugs by Mail

    A friend of mine had a miscarriage yesterday.  It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I started to become aware of how many pregnancies end before they really even get going.  I know so many women who have lost babies over the past two years.  Too many.  It makes me sad, and I often struggle to find words to express my heartbreak at their experience.  Everything sounds trite and stupid. I remember when one of my most beloved friends called to tell me her sad news last summer, I felt like I was completely worthless to her because
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  • 3 29 Gifts, Day Three: Being Nice

    My gift today was to be nice to someone who drives me insane.  Look, I know that sounds: a) Pettyb) Unimpressivec) Not especially gift-like But it was a big deal for me.  I’m not going to go into too many details since the digital world is a very small place, but suffice to say that there’s someone I occasionally cross paths with at work that pushes every single button I have.  Every one of them.  At the same time.  Today I knew I would have to spend about an hour with her and I vowed to be nice.  And I
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  • 2 29 Gifts, Day Two: A Joyful Noise

    Ha!  One of my big fears about the 29 Gifts project was that I wouldn’t be able to think up gifts every day.  I had to fight the urge to plan out a month of gifts in advance and then execute them.  But I vowed to take it a day at a time and to see what opportunities present themselves. This morning, I cleared out several weeks worth of random mail that had accumulated in my mailbox at work.  And what should I find but an invitation to the annual fundraiser of East Liberty Family Health Care Center?  ELFHCC is
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  • 1 29 Gifts, Day One: Cookies for Church

    It’s official!   Today marks the start of my 29 Gifts endeavor.  From now through May 29th, I will be making a concerted effort to bless those around me by giving a gift a day.  I started the ball rolling by making (the world’s best) frosted sugar cookies to share with the members of my church during our post-service fellowship time.  They were a big hit, particularly with my daughter.  If Miss Mouse had her way, we’d be making cookies every day for the next month, but I shall strive to branch out beyond baked goods… I have realized already that
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April 2011

  • 30 Veggie Pancakes

    Buggie continues to eat with gusto.  He’ll try anything you put in front of him, and much of it he seems to like.  I’m trying to keep my food offerings for him as healthy as possible and I hit upon the idea of adding pureed vegetables to pancake batter, then keeping a stash of pancakes in the freezer to pull out for a quick and healthy breakfast.  So far, we’ve tried sweet potato/carrot and spinach/broccoli.  He likes the orange ones better, but he’s way too young to realize that green pancakes are in any way suspicious! Here’s how you make
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  • 28 Cheddar Beer Fondue for Everyone!

      photo by the_junes Last night, my family had cheddar beer fondue for dinner.  My whole family.  Even the baby.  I have really embraced the idea that serving one meal for the whole family is the best approach for everyone.  Miss Mouse has traditionally been a pretty picky eater, but she’s branching out more lately, and our experience with Buggie’s baby-led solids just gets better and better.   I’ve discovered that the key to a successful family meal is to serve a variety of foods, and to accept that not everyone will eat everything.  For example, last night’s meal consisted of
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  • 26 A Month of Giving

    This Sunday, I am embarking on an adventure and I want you to come along!  Beginning May 1st, I am going to be participating in the 29 Gifts Challenge.  The premise of the challenge is very simple: you commit to giving a gift a day for twenty-nine days, and to document your experience in some way. The 29 Gifts Challenge has its origins in a book written by Cami Walker (29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life).  Cami was diagnosed with multiple-sclerosis at a really young age, mere months after she got married.  The news was
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  • 25 MOW with MOM (and Dad)

    My work has a stupid unusual policy regarding Easter Monday.  The church that houses our administrative offices is closed, so we can’t come to the office.  But it’s not an official holiday, so we’re expected to work.  Either you have to take a vacation day, or work at another program site.  It’s weird, but it’s also a nice chance for me to get out of the fundraising ivory tower and spend time in the programs I’m raising money for. Today, my parents joined me for a morning of volunteering.  We sorted donations at the Food Pantry and also delivered Meals
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  • 22 Lentils, a Love Story

    photo by Meanest Indian I consider myself to be a fairly adventurous eater, but I do draw certain lines.  I don’t do mushrooms, wouldn’t eat sushi if you paid me and, until recently, avoided lentils at all costs.  But that was because, for most of my life, my only frame of reference for lentils was brown lentils.  You know, the big, chunky ones that taste like dirt.  I continue to insist that those aren’t really food. But several months ago, I was (re)introduced to the brown lentil’s more delicate and user-friendly cousin — the split red lentil.  I had met
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  • 20 The Why Years

    photo by fontplaydotcom “These are the times that try moms’ souls.”   ~ Thomas Payne Okay, I took a bit of artistic license with that quote.  But Thomas Payne’s immortal words are really speaking to this season of my life.  Yes, friends, we have entered the Why Years.  My daughter’s previously-extensive vocabulary has shrunk down to a single, much-repeated word: why. Sometimes, the whys make sense.  While it gets a bit wearying, her questions about her surroundings demonstrate curiosity.  “Why does Daddy have to go to work?”  “Why is Mommy putting on makeup?”  “Why is Buggie crying?”  “Why is Riley licking
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  • 18 The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

    For a bibliophile, there are few greater joys than discovering not just a new book, but an entire new series.  A whole world of new adventures stretching out beyond the all-too-soon ending of a single tome.  Ooooh.  It makes me all tingly just thinking about it. Miss Mouse and I both discovered new series this weekend so we’re in fine spirits.  On Saturday, Miss Mouse, Buggie, and I traipsed down to the Pittsburgh Public Market — in the pouring rain, I might add — for drop-in storytelling at a newly-opened Carnegie Library kiosk at the market (what an awesome idea!!). 
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  • 16 How to Cook While Kid-Wrangling

    While certainly not Julia Child by any stretch of the imagination, I do enjoy cooking and try very hard to have a home-cooked meal on the table most nights of the week.  Given the whirlwind of activity in our house with two wee ones under foot, inquiring minds want to know: How do you manage to cook dinner while also wrangling two kids? Answer: You don’t… I realize that’s sort of cheating, so please don’t sue me for false advertising with my post title.  But I am forever indebted to my husband for his role of Chief Kid Distractor during
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  • 13 Negotiating with Terrorists

    If you’d been able to peer down into Miss Mouse’s bedroom last night, you’d have witnessed her mother, hopping like a bunny around her room.  Why, you ask, would her mother engage in such a ridiculous activity?  Answer: I do what it takes to get that child in bed. The hopping is a vestige of an earlier love and logic paradigm I’d attempted a couple weeks ago.  She was being difficult and crying whenever I left the room so I posed the question – “Do you want Mommy to hop out of the room or twirl out of the room?”
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  • 11 The Great Sock Purge of 2011

      I have forty-six pairs of socks. This might seem like an alarming number until you consider that, when I cleaned out my sock drawer the other day, I got rid of forty-four additional pairs.  Or maybe that information only adds to your alarm… But before you judge me, you need to understand my history with socks.  There’s a perfectly good reason why, until a few days ago, a huge plastic bin in my closet overflowed with ninety plus pairs of socks. It’s all my mother’s fault. When I was in high school, my mom started giving me a pair
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  • 9 In which we discover proof that genetics is real

    After a period of misgivings, our experience with baby-led solids has been going much better.  Far less puking, far more eating.  At least, when Buggie feels like it.  He’s a willful thing and isn’t remotely interested in eating just because someone (like his mother) wants him to.  He’ll eat when he’s good and ready. Or, when he’s presented with just the right meal choice.  Given the proclivities of his father, is it any wonder that pasta did the trick? http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 8 An Evening of Freedom

    I firmly believe that your emotional response immediately after you make a decision is the clearest indicator of whether or not that decision was a good one.  Case in point: after deciding that I needed to take a step back from the blog (and the Internet as a whole), I felt excited.  Energized.  Free.  I hadn’t quite realized until I gave myself permission to blog less frequently what a huge amount of pressure I had been feeling to blog daily. I came home from a long day of work the Pirates home opener with a sense of near-giddy anticipation at
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  • 6 Life Beyond the Blogosphere

    Last night, I had a small nervous breakdown.  When I pictured motherhood, never once did I imagine myself standing outside my daughter’s bedroom door, holding it closed, while my daughter wept on the inside, begging me to let her out.  Such was bedtime at our house last night. But it wasn’t even the bedtime meltdown that brought about my own meltdown.  It was staggering downstairs after getting the little savage tucked in (with a hug and a kiss and — finally — no tears), and being confronted with the nuclear holocaust that was my house. All I wanted was to
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  • 4 Bedtime Success

    I am feeling very proud of myself, having successfully tucked Miss Mouse into bed all by myself.  She even stayed there!  It was a moment of Love and Logic magic — it just took me a while to find the right phrasing. It was touch and go, with several trips to the potty, and many hugs.  A seriously quivering lip also made an appearance for a while, but I managed to hold it at bay.  I could feel the frustration rising, but I took a deep breath and tried very hard to think of a good “A or B” choice
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  • 4 In which Buggie barfs and I have some doubts

    photo by veggiefrog We’ve hit a speed bump in the baby-led solids superhighway.  I was unprepared for all the gagging and barfing that appears to accompany this approach to infant feeding.  Last night, Buggie enthusiastically chowed down on boiled sweet potato wedges and banana…but the food didn’t want to stay down. Contrary to many things I’d read (namely, that a baby his size wouldn’t actually bite off large chunks of food, but would rather just gnaw on his meal without actually ingesting much), Buggie repeatedly chomped off big bites of sweet potato.  And then proceeded to yak them back up,
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  • 3 The Love and Logic Guru Answers: A or B?

    (No, this isn’t my child.  It’s a photo by mdanys.  But it certainly captures the essence of a full-on toddler tantrum!) I turned to my Love and Logic guru (also known as my cousin Erin) for help with my questions about how to best deal with Miss Mouse’s creative responses to A or B choices.  First, her thoughts on how to respond when Miss Mouse picks “option C” after being offered A & B. I think that if her idea is acceptable to you, it would work fine let her have that option.  For example, “Do you want banana or
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  • 2 Apples or Bananas?

    photo by Nina Matthew Photography As much as possible, Josh and I try to parent with Love & Logic.  One of the L&L; secrets to success is to offer your child choices — but not too many.  Offering a simple “A or B” choice empowers your child to take ownership of a decision, but keeps that decision within parameters that are acceptable to you. Using this tactic at our house can often help defuse potential temper tantrums.  For example, when it’s time for dinner, Miss Mouse is often less-than-thrilled to leave her toys and go wash her hands.  But when
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  • 1 In which I save money by rearranging our furniture

    photo by cliff1066 I’ve always like rearranging things.  When I was little, much of the quality time that I spent immersed in the world of my dollhouse was dedicated to reconfiguring the rooms.  What would it be like if the kitchen was on the second floor?  Wouldn’t a master bedroom suite with a fireplace and couches be cool?  Let’s put the nursery in the attic.  And early on in my own life, I learned that rearranging could provide a cheap makeover, when redecorating wasn’t feasible (or, in my case, permissible).  As an early tween, I desperately wanted a new look
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March 2011

  • 31 Adapting Big Food to Bug Food

    One of the things that was appealing to me about baby-led solids was that there is a lot less emphasis placed on the order in which you introduce foods to your wee one.  The “traditional” trajectory of solids introduction mandates cereal, then yellow/orange vegetables, then green vegetables, then fruit, then meat, etc.  BLS practitioners shrug and say — “eh, let them eat what you eat.”  (Though this stems more from waiting until at least six months to introduce solids than from the BLS approach.  A six-month old’s stomach is far more mature and able to handle a variety of foods
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  • 30 Solace from a Stranger

    photo by dreamyourealive I’ll readily admit that I’m hooked on Facebook.  And that I spend a hefty chunk of time cruising various mommy blogs and forums that I enjoy.  But let me just say that there are serious benefits to be reaped from the increasingly-connected digital world in which we operate daily. When I got home from the disastrous doctor’s appointment on Monday night, I immediately flew to my computer and started typing.  “Help!  Pediatrician Showdown” — I posted to a breastfeeding forum I frequent, outlining some of the more dubious advice I’d been given. “Help!  Pediatrician Recommendation Needed” —
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  • 29 I Want to Trust My Pediatrician

    We had a horrendous experience at Buggie’s six month well baby checkup last night.  I went into the appointment feeling great about how breastfeeding was going and eager to launch into our baby-led solids adventure.  I left confused, worried, and self-doubting. The cliff-note’s version of events is that Buggie measured small on the charts.  Too small, in my ped’s mind.  Plus, his growth curve wasn’t accelerating — he was actually dropping in the percentages.  In her brusque assessment of how to respond to this problem, the doctor managed to: imply that I wasn’t feeding him right, completely trash my desire
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  • 29 Well Played, Mouse

      Do you ever get the feeling you’re being played?  Like, say, when your two year old — having been read to, sung to, snuggled, hugged, kissed, and tucked into bed — suddenly sits bolt upright to exclaim slyly “I have to go potty.“ ARGGGGG We went through this four, yes four, times tonight as I tried in vain to put the child to bed.  Josh is usually in charge of bedtime but he has Bible Study on Tuesday nights.  Tonight was my first time on bedtime duty since we moved Miss Mouse to her big girl bed.  It didn’t
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  • 28 A Solid Success

    I learned something very important about my son last night: do not get in between that boy and his food unless you want to lose a finger.  Baby Bug tackled his first meal last night and it was a smashing smushing success.  While Josh, Miss Mouse, and I dined on beef stew, the little man did battle with an overripe banana.  And it was quite a battle.  While Buggie definitely had the will to consume, the practical application took a bit of work.  But just look at the steely determination in his eyes… “Hold still…I’m gonna eat you!” This was
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  • 26 Family Bonding and Calorie Burning

    I confess that I’m one of those people who frequently uses the — “I just don’t have time” — excuse for why I don’t exercise anywhere near as much as I should.  Before I had kids, my husband and I would go for a three mile walk together (with the dog) every day, rain cloud or shine.  These days, not so much. But I’m trying hard to rid myself of squishy-mom-butt and today’s stunningly gorgeous (though really chilly) weather inspired me to get the whole family out and moving.  A nearby church was having a rummage sale and, since it
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  • 25 Baby-Led Solids: An Overview

    I fed Miss Mouse baby food.  I made it myself, from scratch, but it was definitely baby food.  I spent lots of quality time with my food processor, and made more than my fair share of airplane noises as I attempted to convince a skeptical infant that spoonfuls of goop were, in fact, delicious meals. I was preparing to follow a similar trajectory of feeding with Buggie when I happened across an article, written by the owner of my favorite cloth diaper store, about “child led solids.”  In the month and a half since then, I’ve been a woman on
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  • 25 A Brief History of Baby Food

    Since Buggie has reached the ripe old age of six months, I’ve been thinking a lot about baby food of late.  I’m reading a fascinating book called Baby-Led Weaning, by Gill Rapley.  Her history of baby food totally blew my mind. It goes something like this: In the early decades of the 20th century, the Medical Powers that Be (who, at this point in time, were almost entirely men) decided that mothers could not be relied upon to properly feed their babies without help.  The idea of scheduled feedings was introduced and quickly became all the rage.  Mothers were encouraged
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  • 24 Where Being Green Meets Saving Green

    photo by Magic Madzik Green living often gets a bad rap in the “frugal living” department.  And sometimes it’s true.  Organic produce does usually cost more, a Prius isn’t exactly budget-friendly, and $53 for an organic baby onesie?  Surely, you jest. But there’s one clear area where the worlds of tree-hugging and penny-pinching combine: kids consignment stores. I am a huge fan of shopping thrift stores for my offspring.  Kids — especially kids under the age of five — tend to outgrow their outfits long before they out-wear them.  With the exception of those outfits that become irretrievably stained through
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  • 23 Six Months and Counting

    My son is six months old today… …and exclusively breastfed. This is a huge milestone for us and one which brings me enormous joy.  I wanted to breastfeed Miss Mouse, but we only made it five weeks.  She never got the hang of it and then a perfect storm of health problems on my end conspired to thwart our plans.  It went something like this.  I got mastitis (no biggie).  They prescribed an antibiotic that triggered an allergic reaction (oops).  By the time we sorted that out, the infection was raging and they sent me to the hospital for IV
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  • 22 The one where strawberries come to my rescue

    photo by jspatchwork It was 3:47pm on Friday afternoon when the terrible realization hit: my in-laws were coming for dinner and I had no dessert plans. Josh’s folks aren’t able to visit all that often because his parents both work and his dad’s a minister, so weekends are no good.  When they do come up, it’s usually for a quick visit.  This trip, they were only staying Friday night and returning home on Saturday.  All of which to say, I had only one big meal to impress them with prepare for them. And I’d forgotten about dessert.  I had a
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  • 20 Siblings

    Two nights before Buggie’s birth, I had a massive bout of multi-child anxiety.  I was overwhelmed with worries about what having a younger brother would be like for Miss Mouse.  Would she feel neglected?  Supplanted?  As an only child, I just had no frame of reference for siblings.  I feared that the biggest impact of Buggie’s arrival on Miss Mouse’s life would be that she got less time with me and that this would make her sad.  Somehow, in all my imaginings of what her life with a little brother would be like, I totally failed to visualize how much
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  • 19 In which Kohl’s lets me down and I cry

    IZ Byer (teeny tiny tight) Sweater I’ve been feeling kind of shlumpy at work ever since I got back from maternity leave.  Before I came back after having Miss Mouse, I bought a new wardrobe of sharp business attire and returned feeling like a million bucks.  After Buggie’s arrival, I just hauled my existing clothes out of the closet and went about my business. So tonight I headed to Kohl’s in search of a few new pieces to pep up my wardrobe.  And there were a bunch to choose from…in the Junior’s section. I know I should never have even
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  • 19 Heaven in a Crate

    Oh, joy.  Oh, bliss.  Oh, heavenly rapture.  I found champagne mangoes at Whole Foods yesterday. Clearly this was an act of divine providence, as I rarely shop at Whole Foods. But I needed a few last-minute items for dinner with the in-laws and didn’t want to take the time to fight through traffic to my usual shopping destination.  Thus it was that I found myself marching triumphantly into the house last night with an entire crate of champagne mangoes.  Unfortunately, said mangoes aren’t quite ripe yet and thus I could not share the bounty with my family.  I feel only
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  • 18 Man Soup

    photo by Joelk75 I like soup.  A lot.  In my opinion, there is no better winter meal than a steaming bowl of some sort of soup.  Baked potato.  Butternut squash.  Cream of tomato.  Ah, bliss. My husband does not share my feelings.  Like many men, he doesn’t consider soup to be a “real meal.”  I suspect that his inner monologue goes something like this — “If God had intended for us to eat soup as a main course, it would more closely resemble steak.“ But I have hit upon a few strategies for making Man Soup, or at least soup
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  • 16 From a Toddler’s Point of View

    photo by aussiegall When you’re a mom, you have to learn to look at the world from your child’s point of view.  I’m learning (slowly) that the world looks very different through Miss Mouse’s two-year-old eyes than it does through mine.  When I fail to take this into account, the result isn’t always pretty.  For example: to a toddler, “zoo” means animals.  Always. Only.  Forever.  Lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, more tigers, possibly some monkeys, etc.  “Zoo” does not mean “classroom full of other kids I don’t know doing art projects.“ We learned this important fact last week when my parents
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  • 15 Southwest Quinoa with Red Beans

    Eureka! A quinoa dish that doesn’t taste like sawdust. It’s a miracle. As you can perhaps tell, I have not always been a big fan of quinoa. I tried it a few years ago and was underwhelmed. Then recently, I read glowing (fawning, even) reviews on several blogs and saw a recipe in a new cookbook, so I tried again. Sawdust. Chewy, glunky, sawdust. In despair, I whined on my Facebook page about my lack of quinoa success and immediately, several friends swooped in to defend the maligned grain. Fortified by their support and the manifold health benefits attributed to
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  • 13 Five Favorite Things: Kitchen Gadgets

    When I was putting together the “What We’re Reading” page for the blog, I had a good time compiling the list of my favorite parenting books. There’s something fun about trying to pick your favorite things in various genres. That said, I’m not into Top 10 lists, because 10 is often too many for me to be able to focus on. Five is a much more manageable number. Thus today I give you my Five Favorite Kitchen Gadgets. Garlic Press:Somehow, I lived 28 years of my life without owning a garlic press. How did I survive? And why on earth
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  • 13 Green Grass

    You know that old saying — “The grass is always greener in someone else’s baby carrier?“ Well, maybe that’s not the exact phrasing, but the sentiment is right. For the past two years, I’ve been plagued by a serious case of Baby Carrier Envy. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect hippie-trendy-yet-super-useful accessory for strapping my baby to my person for easy transport. When Miss Mouse was born, I had two carriers: A Maya Wrap ring sling that I bought because several friends had (and loved) them. Mother’s Day 2009. Do you think Josh would let me bust that
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  • 12 Sitting Pretty

    Some development milestones are easier to pinpoint than others. I mean, rolling over is pretty clear cut. One minute, your kid is on his stomach, the next minute he’s not. But the definition of “sitting up” is a bit murky. How long does he have to stay upright before we determine that he’s mastered the skill? I decided that Buggie gets to officially add this trick to his baby book (er, baby blog) today since he managed to balance long enough for my mom to snap this picture.

  • 12 Buggie’s Manly Review of Sophie Giraffe

    Inspired by a recent “manly review of things not usually considered manly” by the owner of my favorite cloth diaper store, Buggie decided to do a review of his Sophie Giraffe. Why he felt he needed to sing her praises — loudly — at 5:07 am on a Saturday morning remains a mystery. But sing he did, so I documented the event and translated his commentary. http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 11 Beef Stew in a Bag

    One of the products of Wednesday’s freezer-cooking bonanza was two Beef Stew in a Bag packets. I’m proud to say that I came up with this idea all by myself! As we all know, I love my crock-pot. And beef stew is definitely a crock-pot staple. But there’s a lot of chopping, some dredging, and a bit of sauteing that has to happen before your crock-pot can take over. So I decided to do some of the prep work and then freeze the ingredients. Here’s what I did: Step 1 — Prep the meat. I took a two pound chuck
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  • 10 Freezer Cooking Pics

    I rearranged my freezers (yes, plural — the chest freezer in our garage is key to the success of my batching cooking endeavors) tonight to more comfortably accommodate the bounty produced in yesterday’s cooking frenzy. In the process, I stacked everything we made yesterday on our kitchen island for a picture. Not a bad day’s work.

  • 10 Breaking the Rules of Sleep (ARG)

    I’m mad at myself. I broke a cardinal rule of life with infants today: Thou Shalt Not Mess with Your Baby’s Evening Schedule. Especially not when your baby has traditionally not been a very good sleeper but had been making great strides in recent days — even sleeping eight whole hours in a row last night… But I ignored this commandment and brought Buggie along on an afternoon trip to the Natural History Museum. They were offering free admission and Miss Mouse is a big fan of the dinosaurs and the rooms of stuffed animals (it’s like the zoo only
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  • 9 A Fledgling Freezer Cook Takes Flight

    I’m new to freezer cooking. I was vaguely aware of the concept, but the words “freezer cooking” evoked images of row after row of condensed-soup casseroles stacked neatly in the freezer. This did not fill my heart with joy. It wasn’t until I started regularly reading a mommy blog that I learned about the idea of freezing meal “building blocks” rather than exclusively trying to make and freeze entire meals. At last, it clicked. Having an arsenal of meal components (especially meat) socked away in my freezer made all the sense in the world. I was already a “meal planner”
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  • 7 Souper Monday

    Here’s something that I’m learning as I get older: you have to be intentional about friendship. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but when your life is a whirlwind of work and babies, it’s easy to suddenly step back and realize that it’s been weeks (months, even) since you laid eyes on your best friend. Take it from me, I know. My best friend happens to live seven minutes away from me. You’d think we’d get together all the time. Because we love each other. See? Ah, freshman year of college. We liked bandannas a lot. Anyways, you’d think
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  • 6 In which Miss Mouse tries to get out of going to church.

    My mom has some nasty thing going on with her heel — if she stands too long, it becomes incredibly painful. She overdid it yesterday at the Science Center and so we made her rest today, including staying at their condo instead of coming to church. This sparked the following exchange with Miss Mouse: Mouse: “Is Nana coming?“ Me: “No, Nana’s foot hurts, so she is staying at the condo.“ Mouse: …thoughtful pause…”My foot hurts, too. I go to condo?“ Nice try, kiddo.

  • 5 Science Center

    It came as a surprise to me, but it turns out I love urban living. Commuting in city traffic is a bitch but you can’t beat the great food, funky neighborhoods, and endless supply of Things to Do. And we all know, I love Things to Do. Pittsburgh is especially good for Kid-Friendly Things to Do. Today we discovered another one. The Carnegie Science Center. I knew of the place — its distinctive cone is a ‘Burgh landmark — but assumed that it wasn’t age appropriate just yet. But friends on a mommy forum assured me otherwise so today my
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  • 4 A night of pancakes

    I’m going to basically re-post the blog I did today for for my work blog because it covers what I did last night! Last night, East End Cooperative Ministry hosted the third annual Pancakes in the P.M. benefit dinner. It. Was. AWESOME!!! I suppose I may be a bit biased, but then again, the facts don’t lie. This was our most successful Pancakes event yet — by far. Last night’s event drew 150 attendees and raised nearly $4,000 for the Have a Heart for Hunger campaign. Thanks to the generosity of the ladies of Pamela’s Diner, all of that money
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  • 3 Settling Up with Uncle Sam

    I met with our accountant last night to do our taxes. I feel all grown up when uttering the words “our accountant.” Granted, we only see him once a year for all of about two hours and only because I am intimidated by the very concept of tax preparation, but there you have it. Thanks to a number of factors including the arrival of Buggie and the fact that I made less money last year than the year before (ah, the joys of unpaid maternity leave), we’ll be getting a nice refund. Even without those additional factors we usually get
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  • 1 ESP

    My son has ESP. Or maybe Spidey Sense. Whatever it is, it’s a little bit disconcerting. He knows when I’m in the house, even when he’s ostensibly upstairs asleep in his crib. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof: On nights when I am home, the little bugger inevitably wakes up within two hours of being put down for the night — usually closer to the one hour mark. He stirs and fusses and squirms and eventually squawks until I come and attend to him. On nights when I am not home? He sleeps for hours at a time. Last night, Josh
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February 2011

  • 27 At What Age, Decorum?

    At the moment I’m struggling to discern whether my daughter is: a) a pretty typical (and entirely lovable) two-year-old; or b) that child, who makes other people grit their teeth as her mother sits blissfully oblivious to her daughter’s unruly shenanigans. I’m just not sure at what age I need to start insisting on a bit of decorum from my child when we’re out and about. Or at least fewer ants in her pants. She’s not a big fan of sitting still. Or paying attention. Or sitting still. She’s prone to wandering off in the middle of the children’s moment
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  • 26 Why I Blog

    photo source I’ve been blogging for around five years and have written well over 1,100 posts. I try to blog every day, though I don’t always succeed. When you’re spending that much of your precious free time on something, it’s good to sit down and think about why you’re doing it. Thus… I blog to remember. I’ve never been a successful journal-keeper. Though I had a few requisite diaries as a child, they inevitably fell by the wayside with only a page or two filled. Thus I knew from day one that I would be an utter failure at keeping
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  • 25 Dapper

    Dapper (adj): 1. neat, trim, smart, jaunty, natty, modish Dapper (adj): 2. an infant in a polo shirt and khaki cords

  • 25 Boots, Glorious Boots

    I love hand-me-downs. Love them. Baby clothes were absolutely made to be shared. Apart from those outfits that are irretrievably soiled by bodily functions gone haywire, most kids tend to outgrow their clothes long before they wear them out. Mr. Bug’s closet currently sports outfits from three different mommy friends whose sons are older than mine. My kiddos are the bottom of the line right now — the youngest of their gender in our group — so we get lots of wonderful stuff! And then last week, a wonderful cache of boots fell into my lap. A group of students
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  • 24 Potty Presents

    Job 38:11 reads (in part): “This far you shall come, but no further.” I’ve felt some resonance with that verse over the past couple weeks when it comes to potty training with Miss Mouse. On the whole, she’d been doing AWESOME. Wearing big girl undies to school every day and coming home with nary a mishap to report. Except for in one key area. Number two. I won’t go into graphic detail (you’re welcome) but suffice to say that peeing on the potty came naturally. Other potty endeavors less so. I was pleased that we had progressed this far in
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  • 23 Monkey See, Monkey Do

    I wonder where she gets it from…

  • 23 Five Month Bug

    Happy Five Month Birthday, Baby Bug! I confess that when I found out I was having a boy, the would-be fashionista in me cringed. I mean, baby girl clothes are just so delectably wonderful. If you can steer clear of the precious stuff, there is nothing cuter than wee little dresses and tunics and capri pants. But five months into my Mother of Boy experience and miniature masculine ensembles are growing on me. There’s something truly adorable about a tiny person who is All Boy.

  • 22 Stuff. Everywhere.

    More and more these days I get the distinct feeling that the “stuff” in my life is causing me emotional scarring. My house is a mess most days and while a good part of the reason for that is probably my general untidiness, our overabundance of personal possessions isn’t helping. My new favorite blog summarized it beautifully. When we were young and dreaming of our futures… “We never talked about our intentions to own so much stuff that we would spend our free time trying to organize it all.” Amen. I’m so guilty of that. Just yesterday, while at Home
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  • 21 Savor the Sleeplessness

    No longer content to merely sleep with me, my wee Bed Bug has decided he prefers to sleep ON me. He’s like a little homing pigeon. He rolls toward me and starts burrowing and head butting until I let him put his head on my arm. Then he usually places a protective hand on the nearest boob, to reassure himself that it’s readily accessible should he need it. Silly creature. A few weeks ago, after about a month of bed-sharing, I was feeling pretty down on the whole co-sleeping thing. I was still not getting anywhere near enough sleep and
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  • 20 Botanical Bentos

    Our Saturday adventure this week was to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. It’s a pretty magical place — huge and sprawling with room after room full of greenery and flowers. Well, at this time of year it was mostly greenery. Poor Miss Mouse had been promised a bunch of beautiful flowers to admire and was a bit disappointed. Or maybe that was me. In any case, it was still a good outing. They had a huge model railroad system set up that entranced every child within viewing distance, and Miss Mouse loved all the various water features. In an
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  • 19 Port-A-Baby

    Buggie’s at that very convenient age where he’s not mobile yet so he can’t escape when you’re not looking but he’s big enough to interact with his surroundings and so really enjoys all of the baby gear you’ve bought him. At the moment, I have a variety of options of places where I can stash him while I make dinner, read to Miss Mouse, or write a blog. He’s happy as a clam… …in his johnny-jump-up (as long as his sister doesn’t “help” him jump too vigorously) …in his exersaucer …on his play mat …reclining in his “pillow palace” (two
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  • 18 Dealing with Momma Squish

    Last night, for the second time this week, I hauled my squishy, mother-of-two butt onto the elliptical machine that’s been languishing in our den.* It felt great! Nope. That’s a total lie. It felt horrible. I thought I was going to die as I chugged sweatily along. Watching Sex and the City (the movie) helped take my mind off the pain somewhat and I duly kept at it until I could go no further… …only to discover, to my horror, that it had only been ten minutes. Oofda. I am so out of shape. But rather than dwelling on the
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  • 15 Paging Martha

    For our Valentine’s Day dinner, I made heart-shaped calzones. Or not. That’s the picture from the parenting website where I found the idea. Mine looked like this. Paging Martha Stewart! We need a Martha in aisle one STAT. Now, in fairness to the creators of the recipe, I didn’t use their dough recipe, opting instead for frozen bread dough (which I’ve used before to make regular calzones). Maybe their dough is fundamentally different from the one I used and that explains why I was utterly and completely unable to wrestle mine into anything resembling a heart. Or a circle. Or
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  • 15 $h*! My Dad Says

    No, this is not a commentary on the new sit-com starring William Shatner. Yes, this is a confession of my slip of the tongue which my two year old daughter has repeated. Monday morning is never real easy. Six o’clock comes pretty early and the weekend-recovery period is just getting started. Getting the kids ready and out the door in a timely fashion is not easy, but this is made worse when clumsiness gets in the way. I had Bug strapped in his car seat and was walking down the stairs to the garage when my heel caught on the
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  • 14 Art Appreciation

    Saturday was a day spent enjoying The Arts. Well, experiencing The Arts, at least. Not all of the day was a total success. In the morning, I packed up both kiddos and voyaged across town for a Peanut Butter & Jam Session. They’re a terrific series of kid-friendly music appreciation led by a certified KinderMusik instructor and the musicians of a very talented, world-traveling classical music group called Chatham Baroque. I’d taken Miss Mouse when she was younger, and she had a whee of a time. Not so much this time. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work for her
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  • 13 Valentines Run Amok

    9:55pm on the eve of Valentine’s Day and I finally have all of Miss Mouse’s recycled-art valentines ready for school tomorrow. Josh suggests that perhaps I let the project run away with me. I won’t say that he’s wrong. I will say, though, that I am thrilled with the results. Two Conversation Heart Letters plus two dozen very cute, hand-made valentines to share with her teachers and classmates that are a happy mix of her art and my assembly. In addition, my strawberry heart-shaped gelatin jigglers are in the fridge chilling for dinner tomorrow. The Valentine sugar cookies are thawed
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  • 12 Beef and Bean Burritos

    When she first started eating “real food,” Miss Mouse was an extremely picky eater. We discovered that frozen burritos were among the few protein sources that she would eat. And so, though I shuddered at the very thought of all the sketchy ingredients and loads of fat therein, I have kept my freezer stocked with store-bought beef and bean burritos. This week, I finally — finally!!!! — got around to making some from scratch. The recipe below is based on a recipe from Missy Chase Lapine’s The Sneaky Chef cookbooks. To be perfectly honest, though, her recipe was decidedly unimpressive.
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  • 12 The Family’s Gotta Eat When the Momma’s Gotta Work

    We’ve really settled into a good “food routine” over the last month or so. It took a little time to get used to the fact that I wasn’t getting home until 5pm or later most nights, but with the help of weekly menu plans, a faithful crock pot, and a few quick and easy kitchen tricks, we’re able to sit down together as a family and enjoy a home-cooked meal most nights of the week. But this week was a tough one. Josh was away at a clergy conference Monday and Tuesday evenings. And I had a meeting Thursday night
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  • 10 Recycled-Art Valentines

    I have a bit of an attitude when it comes to packaged kids’ Valentines. I just don’t like them. They seem wildly impersonal, and if you’re not going to make your Valentines personal, then why do them? Note that I am not against store-bought cards entirely. I’ve received many a lovely greeting card on Cupid’s Day over the years. No, my objection is to those baseball-card-esqe multi-packs, frequently featuring cartoon characters. There may come a day when, due to lack of time or a child’s request, I purchase a deck of Dora the Explorer Valentines, but it is not this
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  • 10 Diaper Free, Mousie Be (Almost)

    This morning, Miss Mouse picked out her whole school outfit by herself: pink shoes, white socks, royal purple corduroy pants, hot pink t-shirt with hearts, red zip-front hoodie sweatshirt. But the piece of her ensemble of which she was most proud was the blue and white striped Big Girl Underpants.That’s right! Miss Mouse headed off to school today sans diaper. This is day two of her going to school in underpants. Apart from the fact that I am heartbroken that my baby is officially no longer a baby, we’re off to a great start. Miss Mouse’s teachers are wonderfully supportive
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  • 9 Why I Buy Conversation Hearts

    When I was doing our weekly grocery run on Saturday, I bought a bag of Valentine Conversation Hearts. Why would I purchase such patently nasty bits of holiday confection? Good question. I can promise you that it was not for eating. Those things are just gross — sort of like sugary chalk. *Shudder* Happily, conversation hearts are not a complete waste of time, space, and unpronounceable chemical ingredients! They happen to form the basis of a great (and cheap) Valentine craft: the Conversation Heart Letter. Here’s what you do. Dump out the entire bag of hearts and sift through them
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  • 8 It’s tough to be second

    I feel for Bitty Bug. I really do. It’s tough to be the second-born. A few illustrations: 1) There are exponentially fewer pictures of you than of your big sister. (I try to remember to get the camera out, but I know there are fewer. Looking back, it appears that every time we changed Miss Mouse’s outfit, we took twenty pictures. I have no idea why.) 2) You are forced to wear your big sister’s hand-me-downs. 3) Said big sister thinks it’s a fun game to whack you in the head when you’re trying to have dinner. 4) Your mother
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  • 7 Answer in the Form of a Question

    A central tenet of the Love and Logic school of parenting is that one of the best things you can do for your children is to encourage/force them to think through the decisions that they make and to take responsibility for those decisions. Asking questions is a terrific way to get your kiddo’s brain working and it shifts responsibility to your child. Here’s an example: Little Bobby breaks a window playing baseball in the house. Instead of shrieking — “You’re going to mow the grass every week for five years to pay for that, mister” the L&L; approach would be
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  • 6 Cream Cheese Cookie Cutouts

    I don’t want to brag, but I make the world’s best frosted sugar cookies. That’s not hubris. It’s just a simple fact. My family doesn’t have a lot of “family recipes” but this is one of them. The secret? Cream cheese. Now, stop wrinkling your nose. I hate cream cheese but it makes these cookies magical. They’re a staple at all Family Gatherings — though it’s only been in recent years that I’ve learned to look beyond Christmas and make them for other occasions. Like the Superbowl. The recipe makes a big batch so in addition to the helmets and
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  • 6 Superbowl Sunday

    Here we go, Steelers, here we go! I’m typing this mid-game so the outcome is as yet undetermined. Honestly, though I am a Pittsburgh fan, I mostly just enjoy the hoopla of any Superbowl Sunday — whoever is playing! In honor of the big game, we decked the whole family out in our Steelers finest. The kiddos looked fabulous, right down to the diaper. Each has a black and gold undergarment for just such an occasion. As adorable as Buggie and I looked (and we did), the true winner of the cutest fan contest today was Miss Mouse. We bought
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  • 5 What We Ate this Week

    I enjoyed posting our weekly menu the other day. It gave me a real sense of accomplishment to see it all laid out like that. Sure, our lives are a bit crazy (as parenthood tends to be) and there are times when I feel like I’m failing as a parent in a million different ways, but at the end of the day, I can say with confidence and pride that we eat pretty well around here. Here’s a look at our menu for this week: Sunday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Green Peas — My husband’s favorite food in the whole
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  • 4 Quick Kitchen Tips: Pot Roast Stir-Fry

    Yup. You read the title correctly: Pot Roast Stir-Fry. A culinary discovery I made this week that has changed my life. Or at least my dinner preparations. Like I said, I love my crock pot, and roast is a slow cooker staple. It’s tough to beat an all-in-one-pot meal that simmers all day and is waiting to be eaten when you walk in the door. The only downside is that chunks of roast tend to be big. Like, multiple pounds. Which is slightly more than a family of three needs. After a previous round of roast-cooking, I threw the extra
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  • 3 The SAHM Revelation

    Today, two events aligned to bring about a revelation. First, I got an email from a parenting mag with Cute Valentine Recipes for Kids. Heart-shaped calzones? Genius. Then, an early Valentine presents for the kidlets (well, really for me) arrived from my mom — a pair of bento boxes from Laptop Lunches. I’d been coveting them for ages and they went on special at EcoBabyBuys so my kind and loving mother got a pink one for Miss Mouse and a purple one for the Bug. As I gazed at the bentos and imagined filling them, the revelation came. I want
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  • 2 Preparing for Solids

    I made my first batch of BugFood tonight: pureed acorn squash with applesauce. I had some leftover acorn squash from the pot roast the other night and a nearly-empty jar of applesauce that I wanted out of my fridge and — voila! — baby food. Mr. Bug isn’t going to be starting on solid foods for a while yet,* but I popped my concoction into the freezer in these great new trays I bought (also excellent for freezing breastmilk) so they’ll be waiting for him. Miss Mouse never ate a single bite of jarred baby food. Ever. Not even when
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  • 1 The Bountiful Bargain Hunger

    I’m killing two birds with one stone today and re-posting a piece I did for my (sadly neglected) work blog here… EECM supporter and friend, Jim Lockard,* loves a good deal. I like a good deal myself, but not like this guy. He scours the paper for ads from grocery stores and will hit as many as five different stores in a single food run to make sure he’s getting the best price available on milk or steak or clementines. He collects Groupons (those discount coupons that are all the rage) with wild enthusiasm. Half off kayaking on the Allegheny?
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January 2011

  • 31 A Potty Vignette

    Because I’m sure that everyone else finds my daughter’s potty adventure as endlessly interesting as I do, I shall share the following story. Potty training continues to go well. Miss Mouse still wears diapers to school, but many of them come home dry, and she wears underpants around the house much of the time. She is slowly getting better at informing us when she needs to go (rather than simply being encouraged to “try” every half hour or so!). She prefers that I come with her most times and has taken to congratulating me with an affirming “good job, mommy.”
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  • 30 The Haircut

    Miss Mouse got her hair cut yesterday. It was seriously overdue. The poor child had out of control bangs, rampant split ends, and a generally unkempt look to her. Witness the difference. Before: After: Somehow the new cut also makes her look ridiculously grown up. I may weep.

  • 30 Safety First

    I got reprimanded by my daughter yesterday as we were driving to get her hair cut.* We were listening to one of her CDs and the song called for tapping along, which I was doing — whacking one palm against my thigh in time to the music. From the backseat an imperious voice called out: “No, Mommy! Stop it. You’re driving.” Dang. She’s a stickler, that one. Two hands on the wheel, if you please! * A girls’ only adventure which she very much enjoyed. She demanded to go on another “aventure” today and was sorely disappointed when she learned
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  • 29 Bed Bug

    It’s amazing how quickly one forgets just how exhausting the early months of new parenthood are. Unfortunately for me, Bug isn’t such a good sleeper — as I may have mentioned once or twice. Oh he used to be. He dangled the dream and then he took it away. Over the last several weeks, he’s suddenly started waking a million times a night. A two hour stretch of sleep is cause for celebration. It was getting to be an unsustainable situation. I was only getting a few hours of sleep a night and was a walking zombie at work and
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  • 28 In which a Bug is discovered masquerading as a Bear

    The problem with assigning a nom de blog to your child before he actually arrives is that you run the risk of getting it wrong. I used Miss Mouse’s real name in the blog for months before switching over to her secret blog identity. At that point, she was clearly and indelibly “Miss Mouse” — a nickname my mom had already bestowed upon her in daily life. Then along came Baby2 and I knew I wanted to use a pseudonym for him from the get-go so we selected Little Bear. It was a good guess but, as it turns out,
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  • 26 Quick Kitchen Tips: Love Thy Crockpot

    For today’s installment of “Quick Kitchen Tips,” I have a Commandment to share: Love Thy Crockpot. Okay, I realize that “crockpot” and “quick” are actually antithetical concepts, but hear me out. This evening I had a parent-teacher conference with Miss Mouse’s teacher at school so the kids and I didn’t stagger through the door until just before 6pm. Ten minutes later, we were all seated at the dining room table, enjoying a meal of Canadian Pot Roast with Acorn Squash, Red Potatoes and Peas. Crockpot cooking is a life-saver for busy working parents. You can prep your dinner the night
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  • 26 When Parenting Good Intentions Fall Flat…or at Least Stumble

    I do hope you realize that my posts about parenting and discipline are just one woman’s thoughts. I don’t have all the answers. And even when I have some of the answers, I don’t always put them into practice successfully. I strive to be calm and loving and empathetic and to repeat to myself “she’s two, she’s two, she’s two” but when Rat Girl goes on a rampage, it’s so very very hard. If you look back at Little Bear’s four-month pictures, you’ll see a scratch on his head. That was a gift from his big sister — the first
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  • 25 A First

    Despite being on this earth considerably less time, Little Bear has now officially beat Miss Mouse in the “who can go to the hospital first” race. What an honor. Miss Mouse had surgery for her ear tubes, but it was done outpatient so I’m not counting that. Both kiddos had been pretty sick last week. MM was going into week three of a nasty cold/cough/snot-fest and about a week ago, Little Bear picked it up too. As is always the case, both of them took a turn for the worse over the weekend — coughing all night and keeping themselves
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  • 23 Four Months

    Happy Four Month Birthday, Little Bear! Our wee cub is now officially no longer a newborn. At least I think. I believe the first three months are really the “newborn” stage and after that a small creature remains an infant for a while and a baby a bit longer after that on the road to grown-up-personhood. He certainly is growing into a personality and is more person-like and less fetal by the day. He’s got quite a giggle on him and is extraordinarily ticklish — especially when Dad is the one doing the tickling. Or singing “Here We Go, Steelers!”
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  • 23 “Water Stays in the Tub” and Other Positive Statements

    As promised, here’s another post with some reflections on discipline. First, a little background. Josh and I grew up with pretty different experiences when it came to parental discipline but we’ve (mercifully) had very little trouble coming to consensus on the main principles of discipline that we plan to use with our kids. I thank my lucky stars for this daily. Handling discipline with kids is tough and it’s absolutely essential that Mom and Dad present a united front! We are big fans of the Love and Logic model of parenting. The basic premise of Love and Logic is that
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  • 22 A Trip to the Library

    As a book-loving mom always on the hunt for free family-friendly activities, it’s truly shocking that today was my first trip to the library with Miss Mouse in eons. Possibly ever. Honestly, I had some reservations about taking her there because of her tendency to go on “reading” rampages in which she pulls every single one of her books off the shelves and piles them around her. I had mental images of her doing the same at the children’s section of the library and thought perhaps we were doing everyone a favor by steering clear… But my parents saw a
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  • 22 Snow Babies

    Winter weather has finally arrived in earnest. We didn’t have much snow before the new year but this month we’ve gotten two decent storms. Enough to slow the city down, close schools, and be a hassle but nothing like the insanity of last year (thank goodness). Last weekend, we bundled up the babes to go outside and frolic a bit. Miss Mouse had a whee of a time this year (in stark contrast to last year when she was terrified of the cold white stuff). Her favorite thing was actually watching the dog go berserk. He adores the snow and
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  • 21 We Heart Vegetables

    A dear friend sent a very funny email to me in response to my post about the weekly menu: “Speaking on behalf of the plant kingdom, I am beginning to feel like a stepchild!! Can I put in a plea for them? I am sure Michelle would too…… Otherwise your plan looks great! (Plus they will help with the loathed double chins and help uncover the hidden sylph.)” Fear not, plant-loving readers. I actually do serve produce to my family daily — it just doesn’t look that way on the meal plan because I rarely plan my veggie sides. I
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  • 21 The Weekly Menu

    And speaking of The Family Dinner, I’m back in the saddle when it comes to cooking. For a while after Little Bear was born, it was more than I had energy or motivation for to try to cook regularly for the family. Mercifully, my parents were here much of the time to help! But now I’m getting back into a rhythm and have resumed cooking on most nights. The emphasis is on quick and easy. The strategy? Plan, plan, plan. Ever since I was in college, I have done weekly meal plans. I didn’t grow up with this system but
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  • 20 Book Review: The Family Dinner

    I’m an avid reader of parenting books. A bit of a junkie, actually. It’s not that I don’t have confidence in my own parenting abilities — I just really like to read what other people have to say on the topic. Many (most?) of the published material on the subject of child-rearing is just okay, but every now and again, a book rocks my world. My current favorite? The Family Dinner by Laurie David. Josh bought it for me for Christmas and I just can’t put it down. It’s part group memoir, part parenting book, part cookbook. It’s phenomenal. Did
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  • 19 In which a good idea fails to pan out

    It seemed like such a great idea: the Winter Gala at day care. A chance to showcase what the kiddos have been learning in their classrooms, while having lots of fun singing and dancing. There was much anticipation leading up to the Big Event: headdresses to be made, songs to rehearse, and a countdown on the door to Miss Mouse’s classroom. Bad weather intervened last week and the Gala was postponed until last night. I left work early to be there and came armed with cameras, both still and video. Alas, when you take twenty kids and add at least
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  • 18 Limits

    As Josh mentioned, Miss Mouse spends large amounts of time perfecting her Nemo Look. It drives me pretty crazy, I have to say. There’s something about willful defiance that is calculated to make even the most serene of parents (and I’m not claiming to be one) go insane. Calling her on it is pretty exhausting, too. It’s so tempting to ignore her when she hits me or smacks her frying pan on something she’s not supposed to because getting her to hold still in a time out is quite an adventure by itself. There are nights where I feel like
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  • 18 The Nemo Look

    Toddlers are defiant. They stare at you with those beady eyes and you can tell they are in the process of non-compliance. The best way I know to describe this look is to call it ‘The Nemo Look.’ In the Disney movie ‘Finding Nemo’ the little fish Nemo wants to swim out in open water to touch a boat (on a dare). Nemo’s father does not want him to do this. Nonetheless, Nemo swims to the boat, turns around, looks at Fish Dad with fire in his eyes, and touches the boat. Miss Mouse has been having quite a few
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  • 18 Bedtime Helper

    Let it be said that putting your infant to bed is easier when your toddler doesn’t help. But, when Josh has evening meetings (like last night), help she does. When all four of us are home, Little Bear and Miss Mouse go to bed at just about the same time. When they have to go down sequentially, we’ve learned through trial and error that it works best to get the Bear in bed first because, when he gets too tired, it’s not a pretty scene.The routine thus goes something like this: Little Bear bath, then Naked Baby Time, then jammies
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  • 18

    Dear Little Bear, Please sleep. Love,Mommy

  • 17 An Etiquette Lesson from a Once-Svelt Mother of Two

    Okay folks, listen up. Especially anyone who has never given birth. Today I have an important piece of etiquette advice that could save you some trouble when dealing with new mothers. Here it is: think carefully before you compliment them on how great they look. I realize this seems a bit odd. Be careful about complimenting someone? But doesn’t everyone like to hear how great they look? Yes, but only to a point. When you say — “Wow, you’ve lost all your baby weight” or “Wow, how did you manage to have two kids and keep that girlish figure?” —
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  • 16 How to spend a Saturday

    Josh and I have fundamentally different approaches to weekends. My vision of How You Should Spend a Saturday revolves around fun family activities. Trips to the zoo. Picnics in the park. Adventures at the lake. Hikes in the woods. That sort of thing. Josh’s idea of a perfect Saturday is sleeping in and then lazing around the house all day. Sadly for him, since we had kids he gets his way less often than before! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good lazy weekend day, reading books or watching some TV. The thing is, when you have kids, those
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  • 15 When a cheat becomes a binge

    It turns out there’s a fine line between a “cheat day” and a “binge day.” I may have crossed that line yesterday. There were warning signs early on that the day might go awry. In an effort to get out the door quickly, I didn’t eat breakfast at home, opting instead to stop at Starbucks. I normally do this on Friday mornings to get a chai, but yesterday I also walked out with a piece of berry coffee cake. And a cinnamon roll. Those treats did tide me over well until lunch, negating the need for much snacking… …except that
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  • 13 Mommy Can I?

    At school, Miss Mouse’s teachers must be working on the concept of asking permission because at least a quarter of her sentences start with the words “can I?” It’s really quite nice to hear her asking politely for things instead of issuing imperious commands. “Mommy can I have some milk?” “Mommy can I play with Little Bear?” And, of course, my favorite: “Mommy, can I have a hug?” She does tend to over-apply the requests, though. She asks permission way more than is strictly necessary. “Mommy, can I leave my socks on?” “Mommy, can I eat the corn in my
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  • 12 Quick Kitchen Tips: Ready to Go Ground Beef

    I love to cook. A well-stocked pantry makes me happy, I read cookbooks like they’re novels, and I take great pleasure in making food. Sadly, now that I’m working again — and slightly later than before — dinner time is pretty cramped. It’s not unusual for me to get home at 5pm or later and we need to eat by 6pm in order to get the wee ones in bed in a timely fashion. Thus I’m starting to specialize in the Quick and the Easy. My latest innovation (if that’s the word): keeping one-pound bags of browned ground beef in
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  • 11 Snow Day

    I had a plan for this evening. It went something like this: Step 1 — Leave work at 2pm to drive home and, Step 2 — Go to the Winter Gala at Miss Mouse’s school, surrounding which there was much enthusiasm, and then Step 3 — Drive back across town for an evening Board meeting at work. It was a bit of a cumbersome plan involving an extra hour and a half in the car, but it was worth it. The Board meeting was important and I didn’t want to get in the habit of missing Miss Mouse’s activities because
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  • 10 The Computer Kerfuffle

    For this post, I’m going to need a prop. Now, where is it? Ah. Found it. My trusty Soap Box. I shall now clamber aboard and proceed… I’ve shared previously how I feel about television and children. They don’t mix. We strictly followed the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that kiddos under two not have any screen time and then it just felt right to keep going. We’ve scaled back the amount of television that Josh and I watch, and Miss Mouse still watches none at all. But in today’s digital world, television is really just the beginning. There are
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  • 10 About Last Night

    9pm… 12am… 1am… 2am… 4am… 5:30am… Why is it that the baby’s worst and most wakeful nights always occur when I have to work the next day? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • 9 Earning a Merit Badge

    I don’t know who might be responsible for handing out breastfeeding merit badges, but if such a person exists, I think I might — finally — qualify for one. Nursing has gone much more smoothly with Little Bear (thank heavens) but it has still taken quite a while to really feel comfortable doing it on the go. It’s one thing to whip out a boob and feed the kid at home, with the assistance of a nice breastfeeding pillow and an utter lack of regard for modesty. It’s quite another thing to try that same maneuver in public! But yesterday
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  • 8 Family Fun on the Cheap

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: for a rainy-day, kid-friendly outing on the cheap, it’s tough to beat the play area at a mall. To a grown-up, it’s a few cheesy climbing toys, a horde of unruly children, and a possible haven for athlete’s foot. To a two-year old, it’s paradise. Just such an expedition saved what was otherwise a pretty rough day today. When Dante was envisioning the circles of Hell, he overlooked an obvious choice for denizens thereof: the cranky toddler. Lord have mercy, when that child doesn’t get enough sleep she could make Mother
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  • 8 2011

    Alright, folks. We’re one week into the new year. Your grace period is over. What year is it? Let’s all repeat together: Twenty Eleven. That’s right. This year is twenty-eleven. Not, “two-thousand-eleven.” Did you hear me? Is this sinking in? When we were back in the aughts, I was willing to go with the flow. “Two-thousand-eight” clearly rolls off the tongue better than “twenty-oh-eight.” And last year was a year of transition so I could forgive a few “two-thousand-ten” mistakes. But enough is enough. Two-thousand-eleven sounds dumb. And cumbersome. And sort of sloppy. Let’s all tighten up our calendrical utterances
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  • 7 All the Ways I Love You

    One of the most special presents that Miss Mouse received this Christmas was a book from her Nana and Papu called All the Ways I Love You. It’s a sweet story with lovely illustrations of a bear cub and her mama (or grandma, or grandpa!), who recounts the various flavors of her love. The final stanza reads: “I love you round and round the world. I love you through and through. And when it seems impossible to love you more…I do.” What makes this book (among the zillions we have!) so very wonderful is that it’s a recordable book. As
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  • 6 Day at the Museum

    On Sunday, my folks and I took Miss Mouse and Little Bear to the Children’s Museum. We picked that day because they were having a family-friendly New Year’s Dance Party, and my girl loves to shake her groove thang. Sadly, the dance party was a bust because for some reason, they felt the need to play their (admittedly family-friendly) tunes at a deafening volume. Never before has the Hokey-Pokey caused me physical pain. And poor Miss Mouse was literally begging to go home within a minute of arrival. Happily, the rest of the Museum remains fabulous and, once we escaped
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  • 5 The P Word

    Well, it finally happened. Much to my husband’s horror, my daughter self-applied the P word last night. Yup, she opened up her adorable cupid’s bow of a mouth and pronounced – “I’m a princess!“ And, honestly, who can blame her? After all, she was wearing this. This is what godmother’s are for. That fabulous bit of frothy tulle was a Christmas gift from Aunt Meg. Miss Mouse loves it. She paraded around the house in it last night, giving an occasional twirl, and could be heard repeating quietly to herself — “I so pretty.“ Yes, wee girl. You certainly are.

  • 4 Sleep Stinks

    I love sleep. Dreaming is fun; laying in bed under a warm blanket is fun; waking up feeling refreshed and ready to start a new day is fun. I have never been an ‘I must get 8 hours of sleep a night or the world will explode’ kind of person (as my wife is), but I love my life when I am asleep nonetheless. My children, on the other hand, have decided that their lives stink when Mom and Dad are asleep. Little Bear, who was sleeping well there for a while, has decided to wake up every two hours
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  • 3 The Opposite of Deck

    What’s the opposite of decking the halls? Stripping the halls? De-decking the halls? Whatever the verb, it’s been accomplished as of today. We took advantage of an “off work but the Day Care is open” day to finish packing away our Christmas decorations. The tree had come down on New Year’s Eve, a decision prompted in part by the ever-increasing number of lights that were out and in part by the fact that we were hosting a going away party for friends with a guest list that included ten children under the age of four. They’re all good kids, but
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  • 1 New Year, New Waistline

    New Year’s resolutions are dumb. I’ll just get that off my chest right now. Most people make them. Few people keep them. I don’t usually bother. My “resolution” this year is one I’ve already been working on for a while: Lose the Baby Weight(s). Both of them. The Little Bear weight and the lingering, stubborn, cocky Miss Mouse weight (which seems to believe it will be with me forever). The only form of dieting that has ever worked for me is the “cheat day.” Basically, be good six days a week and eat what you like on the seventh. The
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December 2010

  • 31 Snapshot of a Three-Month-Old Bear

    In the midst of the holiday mayhem, Little Bear celebrated his three-month birthday. In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that this picture was actually taken on the 24th because I forgot on the 23rd. Oh, the trials of being the second-born. My little man is doing great. He’s nursing like a pro and had no trouble also picking up bottle feedings for school. Like his sister, he’s a fan of an early bedtime (hallelujah) and sleeps pretty well. He goes down between 6:30 and 7:30 most nights, sleeps eight hours or so, wakes for a quick boob
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  • 30 An Apology

    Dear Little Bear, I’m sorry that you have my ears. You’ll grow into them somewhat, but they’ll probably always stick out a bit. It’s my fault. And I apologize. Love,Mommy

  • 30 Noozling with Newborns

    Noozle (v) — to nuzzle while snoozing. Or vice versa. Have you noozled with a newborn lately? I must say it’s a pretty unbeatable way to spend your time. As defined above, “noozling” is the convergence of snoozing and nuzzling. It’s a flexible activity — feel free to throw in some smooching, snuggling, or dozing as well. Now, technically, noozling is not an age-restricted activity. One can noozle at any age. But noozling with a newborn is extra special. They’ve got that great baby smell that wafts up from their fuzzy little heads and they fit so nicely in the
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  • 28 Underpants!

    As I mentioned yesterday, two out of three of Miss Mouse’s Christmas presents revolved around The Potty. That’s right, it’s potty training time. Yes, potty training (not the more pretentious “toilet learning” espoused by a certain cadre of hipster parents of which I am not one). When I started planning out the Christmas potty gifts, I envisioned doing a potty blitz weekend: put her in underpants, ply her with beverages, prepare for some mishaps, and GO! As it turned out, though, Miss Mouse was already well on her way to potty training by the time the holidays rolled around. For
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  • 27 Gifts

    While Jesus may be the Reason for the Season, in most families with small children, Christmas morning is all about the presents. Mountains of them. Since we became parents, Josh and I have tried to be very conscious about the amount of “stuff” our children accumulate, mindful to the fact that many kids in this country have way way way WAAAAY more toys than they need, or can even play with. We want our kids to really cherish the toys that they have and we simply refuse to have our home look like Santa’s workshop on steroids. This philosophy was
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  • 25 Christmas in a Nutshell

    It’s 9:20 on Christmas Evening. The kids are in bed after finally coming down off a pumpkin pie rush. I’m ensconced in a red fleecy Snuggi (compliments of my parents) as I type. Josh is fiddling with our new blue ray player (also compliments of my parents!) and we’re all pleasantly exhausted by a wonderful day. Christmas really kicked off last night with a candlelight service at church. We got to light the advent candles! I seriously debated whether or not to bring the kids since the service took place smack in the middle of prime bed preparation time. And,
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  • 24 The Man in Red

    Tonight’s the night. Up on the rooftop, reindeer pause (or is it ‘paws’?)… Santa Claus is coming to town! Sort of. We haven’t quite made up our minds yet about how we’re going to be handling the jolly old elf in this family. Happily, we dodged the bullet this year (again) because Miss Mouse remains mostly oblivious to St. Nick. She can recognize Santa on sight, but as of yet seems to harbor no inkling that he is supposed to be a magical creature that arrives in a sleigh bearing presents. I have some ambivalence about Santa Claus that I
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  • 23 Christmas Shopping on a Budget

    This time of year, there are about a million articles and blog posts circulating cyberspace about how to be frugal in your Christmas shopping. The question is thus: how to make the season bright when you’re pinching your pennies? I found the perfect answer this year: credit cards. No, no, no. I know what you’re thinking and it’s not like that. I know perfectly well that Christmas debt is a massive problem in the US. The numbers vary depending on who you ask, but several sources I read suggest that the average American spends as much as $800 on Christmas
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  • 20 In Which a Mouse and a Mom Go Christmas Shopping

    Fueled by a cookie-and-fudge-induced sugar rush, after the party yesterday afternoon, Miss Mouse and I headed out to do a bit of last-minute Christmas shopping. We had a ball together. This was the first time that Miss Mouse was really aware of the fact that she and I were doing something together, just the two of us. As we set off, she chirped happily from the back seat that this trip was “just for Mommy and Miss Mouse. Not Daddy. Not Little Bear. Not Riley Dog.” And we discussed at length that there were “no boys allowed” on this expedition.
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  • 19 The Party

    Today, Josh and I hosted an open house for the members of our church. This is now the second year for that and it has officially become a tradition. Josh and I both come from a long line of holiday party throwers. His mom does a church open house each year involving approximately one gazillion cookies. My mom & dad do a party for their nearest and dearest that involves a cornucopia of appetizers. We walk a middle ground, I guess. The guest list is church folk but, as cookies are not actually my forte, I do a mix of
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  • 18 The Emotional Toll of Mr. Potato Head

    As Christmas gift from Josh’s sister, Miss Mouse received a Mr. Potato Head toy. (Technically, she also received Mrs. Potato Head but we haven’t given her that one yet, preferring to space out the gifts). Miss Mouse loves that spud. She takes great joy in pulling off his various body parts one by one and sticking them back on. The result has been some impressive Picasso Potato creations with arms springing from his head and far too many noses for any one root vegetable. Unfortunately, Miss Mouse’s playtime activities with Mr. Potato Head are causing my husband deep emotional scarring.
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  • 17 A little cheese on the side?

    Yesterday evening was perhaps not the best on record. I got a splinter embedded in the palm of my right hand, a huge swath of lights went out on my pre-lit Christmas tree, and I learned that one of my dearest friends is moving to Texas (in three weeks!!). Yes, I realize that, if those are my biggest concerns I have a pretty darned good life. A little cheese with that whine, perhaps? But I was in a funk nonetheless. My hand hurt like heck, I have a party for the church folks on Sunday for which I want my
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  • 15 Pee Wee Prayers

    Thanks to my hubby taking over Miss Mouse’s bedtime over the last few months, Miss Mouse has added bedtime prayers to her bedtime routine. And if there is anything sweeter than a toddler praying, I haven’t seen it yet. At this point, her prayers are almost entirely words of thanksgiving for the people she loves. We always allow Miss Mouse to choose who to pray for and she inevitably first lists Mommy and Daddy and Little Bear. And Riley Dog. Then she moves on to friends and/or family who have been in her life recently. Tonight, it was Aunt Meg
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  • 14 Dispatch from the Day Care Trenches

    Tonight, both Miss Mouse and Little Bear were in bed asleep by 7:15pm. Why were they so tired, you ask? Allow me to present Exhibit A: the “Family Communication” sheets from KinderCare for today. First, Miss Mouse: Today I had a Terrific Tuesday!* I had so much fun! We pretended to make cookies and then we got to decorate them with chalk, markers, dobbers, and stickers!! We then got to have a tea party! A pretend one, of course! We sand “I’m a Little Tea Pot” too. We got to listen to a new song and it was “Going on
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  • 14 Of Fibs and Stink Bugs

    Miss Mouse is at that age where make-believe starts to take root. This growth of her imagination sometimes manifests itself in, well, creative interpretations of actual events. I hate to call my daughter a liar but… Last night, Miss Mouse couldn’t find her beloved Going On A Bear Hunt book. When I asked her where she thought it might be, she looked up at me with utter sincerity and announced: “The stink bug took it.“* Riiiiight. The stink bug took it, huh? And just tonight, she put one of her Fisher Price Little People cows from her nativity set into
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  • 13 Monday

    There’s just nothing quite like a sleepless Sunday night to set the tone for a week, no? It’s hard to have a good feeling about the week ahead when, at 4am your entire family is awake and half of your family (the half under the age of 3) is crying. Little Bear didn’t have a great night. He has The Cold that we all do and coughed himself awake several times. Like at 2am. And 4am. And 5:15am. And he didn’t just wake up. He woke up shrieking at the top of his lungs, giving the distinct impression that someone
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  • 11 Reindeer Fatigue and Its Antidote

    The Christmas season, for all it’s supposed to be a time of joyful expectation as we await the birth of the Christ child, can be pretty draining. There are presents to buy and wrap. Cookies to bake. Parties to plan and attend. Carols to sing. Halls to deck. And before you know it, you’ve collapsed beneath the staggering weight of all that tinsel and fruitcake, knocked insensible by the constant refrain of “Oh holy Christmas reindeer” that comes pulsating out of every store sound system. This year, I’m extra weary. Between wrangling two kids and working what amounts to a
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  • 9 The Visitor

    An uninvited (and, to be perfectly honest, unwelcome) visitor arrived at the house today. When I got home from work, there he was, lurking about and looking vaguely familiar. Then he marched up and introduced himself. “Hello,” he rasped. “I am your daughter’s head cold. I will be spending most of the winter with you. I’ve taken the liberty of making myself at home.” Sigh. Miss Mouse is snotty and snorky and coughing. Josh is congested. And I’m fading fast. Throughout the day, I caught glimpses of our unwanted guest as I went about my work, but had hoped that
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  • 7 Luggage

    I may be adding an item to my Christmas wish list this year: a luggage cart. Seriously, I think we may need one to get all our gear out the door in the morning. I kid you not, I leave the house with a minimum of SIX bags every day. Yes, six. 1) Miss Mouse’s diaper bag.2) Little Bear’s diaper bag.3) Little Bear’s cooler of bottled boob juice.4) My breast pump, housed in an attractive bag currently serving as my purse.5) My insulated lunch bag.6) My cooler for transporting pumped boob juice. Yesterday, my first day back to work, was
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  • 5 Popcorn on a Train

    At school, one of Miss Mouse’s favorite games is Popcorn on a Train. Basically, all the kids sit on the ground, then the teacher calls out the ditty below, and the kid who is featured gets up to bust a move. This morning, Miss Mouse lined up her Christmas stuffed animals and began calling on them in turn to “do their thing.” After a few false starts with Puppy, she was off and rolling. She’s a bit hard to understand on the video, so here’s the translation: Popcorn on a train!Let ____ (puppy, snowman, bear, Miss Mouse, etc.) do his
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  • 5 Newsflash!

    Stop the presses! Call the president! And for heaven’s sake, get the baby book! Little Bear Sleeps Through the Night: Mom Thrilled Someone organize a parade. It was a glorious thing. Little Bear went down for the night at 8pm, swaddled like a wee burrito, and did not rise again until 5:20 AM. He squeaked at 1am, enough so that I grudgingly crawled out of bed, but by the time I hit the bathroom and found my glasses, he’d subsided again. What a good baby. If I recall, Miss Mouse performed a similar feat at about this age…but then started
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  • 4 Winter Wear

    Suddenly, it’s winter. I swear it was only last week we were enjoying sunny and warm fall days and then — WHAM — it’s snowing and not expected to get out of the 30s for well over a week. Merry Winter to you, too. With the sudden arrival of cold precipitation, it’s time to break out the warm weather gear, including: Hats… …and snow boots. (Apparently, wearing snow boots causes Miss Mouse to channel her inner Riverdance…)

  • 4 Secret Santa

    Today at Borders I witnessed something super cool. I was working the register, as per usual, and had just started to ring up a customer when suddenly a woman in a red coat and a little boy in a Santa hat popped up at his shoulder. (I swear they came out of nowhere). “We’re doing Secret Santa today. We’d like to pay for the first $50 of your purchase.” I’m serious. The lady whipped out an envelope of cash, paid for the bewildered man’s books, and zipped back out the door. And that, my friends, is what the holiday season
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  • 2 Toddler Faith

    Ah, the fluctuations of a toddler’s religious convictions. If you’ll recall, Miss Mouse has an excellent Little People nativity set that she loves with a deep passion. It made its appearance earlier this week, much to her delight. On Tuesday, when I picked her up from school, she announced cheerily to her teachers that she was going home “to visit baby Jesus.” Which she did, greeting him with a “hello Baby Jesus” upon arrival at home. Two days later, she was observed whacking the infant savior with a kitchen spatula while chanting “I smash Baby Jesus!”

November 2010

  • 30 Smart Cookie

    Leave it to my mother to come up with an educational dessert. This is one of the things I love about my mom: she loves to learn. She is endlessly curious and loves to discover how and why things she work. She also loves to cultivate this same curiosity in Miss Mouse. I often hear her Discussing Things with her granddaughter. Why do you think this toy floats and this one sinks? Look what happens when we mix these two colors of crayon! Check out what a cool shape this leaf is — what tree do you think it came
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  • 29 Laundry Is My Life

    With two children in cloth diapers, it often feels like laundry is my life. This is a common sight in our house — a laundry basket overflowing with clean diapers, waiting to be sorted, stuffed, and put away in the appropriate room. Miss Mouse goes through about seven diapers a day and Little Bear uses more like ten. We wash diapers every other day –usually requiring two loads — and the picture above represents a typical wash day. Whew. Then add in all of Miss Mouse’s clothes, which need to be washed after each wear since she comes home from
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  • 29 Dedication

    This weekend we held Little Bear’s baby dedication. Our congregation practices “believers baptism” — which means we don’t baptize infants. We think you should be old enough to understand what it means before we start throwing water at ya. So instead we do dedications. They’re a chance for family, friends, and the congregation as a whole to affirm their commitment to a new baby and promise to support the parents in raising the new little one. We sort of threw it together last minute when we realized we had the perfect storm of parental availability: my folks were in town
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  • 28 Pics of My Girl

    Because I don’t have time or energy to write a real post tonight, a few pictures of my silly girl. She absolutely insisted on wearing Daddy’s hunting hat around the house the other day. Why, oh why, won’t she smile like this on command??

  • 26 Black Friday: Dispatch from the Front Lines

    Today was my first Black Friday experience working the other side of the register. Although, to be honest, my family never partook of the Black Friday shopping insanity so I don’t have much experience on either side. But today I worked a six hour shift at Borders and went into the day very curious to see what it would be like. My verdict? Very busy, but not crazy. Borders offered some great coupons, advertised in a circular that reached all of Pittsburgh, but we didn’t have any limited-supply great deals (buy a TV the size of Jupiter for $12.94 —
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  • 25 Giving Thanks for Facebook

    This Turkey Day, I am thankful for Facebook. You heard me: Facebook. This lovely online arena of social interactions turned a so-so holiday into a great one. Here’s how… Josh and I had intended to take the kiddos to West Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with his family. My job at Borders neatly nixed this plan, as I wound up on the schedule for Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Such is the pain of retail during the holidays. My folks are in town but had already made plans to go to Ohio to spend the day with my mother’s sisters and father.
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  • 24 Leaf Pile Adventurer

    The minute she walks in the house these days after being picked up from school, Miss Mouse has a new demand — “Go outside and jump in leaf pile!“ This is what fall is all about: leaping with wild abandon into a big pile of crunchy leaves. Miss Mouse can’t get enough of this new game. She prances. She kicks. She wiggles. She throws her favorite baby doll in head first. She giggles like mad. All credit goes to Nana for introducing her to the wonderful world of leaf piles. Whether from busy schedules or sheer parental laziness, Josh and
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  • 23 Does a Bear Resemble a Mouse?

    Little Bear is two months old today! Josh and I spend a lot of time scrutinizing our children and trying to decide how much they’re going to resemble each other as they get older. It’s tough to say, honestly, since infants tend to look somewhat similar. They all look like, well, infants. But here’s a side-by-side comparison of Bear and Mouse, each taken on their respective two month birthdays. Thoughts?* *Apart from the obvious difference that Little Bear has two eyebrows, whereas Miss Mouse — from the time of her birth until the present — has sported an impressive unibrow.
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  • 22 Who Needs Sleep?

    As the mother of a wee creature, the question I’m asked most frequently is: “So, you getting any sleep?” To answer that query, I turn to the semi-immortal words of the Bare Naked Ladies… Who needs sleep?Well you’re never gonna get itWho needs sleep?Tell me what’s that forWho needs sleep?Be happy with what you’re gettingThere’s a guy who’s been awakesince the Second World War. In other words: no. Little Bear is not yet demonstrating prowess as a super sleeper, I fear. For a little while there, we seemed to be settling into a good routine. He’d nurse around 8pm and
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  • 20 Sore Feet, Big Smiles

    I worked a crazy-busy five hour shift at Borders today. The holiday rush has officially begun. I staggered home foot-sore, exhausted, and hungry enough to eat a mass market paperback and was greeted by the following tableau: Josh and Little Bear were snuggled on the couch together, at least one of them asleep. Maybe both. My parents were sprawled out on the floor with Miss Mouse, supportively clapping along as she sat perched on an upended cardboard box, banging on it with a pair of kitchen spatulas for all she was worth, exclaiming: “I play drums!” And suddenly I was
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  • 19 Getting Serious

    Okay, I’m eight weeks post baby and it’s time to get serious about weight loss. For the past two months, I’ve been resting on my laurels — congratulating myself on the achievement of giving birth, not moving from the couch for hours at a time, and eating whatever struck my fancy. The great thing about those early days after childbirth is that you can still lose weight even when you act like that. I’ve shed about 22 of the 30 pounds I gained with Little Bear. But for the past two weeks, the needle on the scale hasn’t moved. I’ve
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  • 18 In which a Bear screams, a Mouse cries, and a Super-Dad goes it alone

    I came home from my Borders shift last night, having worked til close, and inquired cheerily of my husband how the evening had gone. He swiveled a weary gaze my way and said: “I don’t want to talk about it.” Uh oh. It seems that Little Bear hit the wall in a big way just in time for Miss Mouse’s bedtime. Ah, the joys of having two wee ones. We’ve been learning that LB’s Witching Hour is really his Tired Hour. At the end of the day, he signals he’s ready to turn in by screaming. It’s a charming habit.
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  • 16 The Word of the Day is Snuggle

    Miss Mouse’s vocabulary is expanding steadily. The latest addition to her verbal repertoire is “snuggle.” As in, as I was backing out of her room tonight after putting her to bed, a wee voice piped up from the recesses of the crib with an — “I want snuggle, mommy.“ I did a double take, because I honestly don’t remember using that word too much around her. I asked her to clarify — “Honey, did you say you wanted to snuggle?” “Yes, mommy. Snuggle.” I picked her up for a hug, but this wasn’t good enough and she pointed firmly at
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  • 15 Last Night

    12:30am 3:00am 4:30am 6:00am 7:40 am Those were the times of Little Bear’s feedings last night. Need I say more? If so, too bad, as I am too tired to form coherent sentences.

  • 14 Mouse in Transition

    Just last week, Miss Mouse moved up to the next room at her daycare. She is now officially a member of the “Discovery Preschool” class. (“Preschool?” Seriously?? She’s two. No no no. She is not allowed to grow up. No no no. Okay, I’m done now.) KinderCare takes the process of “transition” very seriously and they do it well. Miss Mouse spent a full week adjusting to her new room and new teachers by spending a few hours there each day. Graduating from the Toddler B Room means saying goodbye to two of Miss Mouse’s favorite people in the whole
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  • 13 Sunshine

    Well, I thought it was milk in her glass last night, but it seems like I accidentally served my girl a big old helping of sunshine because we had The Best Day today. It’s been an exhausting few weeks (or months) with my feisty wee toddler with much shrieking, whining, and flailing on her part and frowning, sighing, and threats to sell her on eBay on my part. But today, she was absolutely glorious. The tone for the day was set when Josh awoke at 6:45 to the sound of singing wafting gently through Miss Mouse’s baby monitor. Nothing particularly
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  • 13 Super Sales

    So, it turns out that retail sales actually suits my personality quite well. To those of you who know me, it will come as no surprise when I say that below my charming smile lurks a truly ferocious competitive instinct.* Happily, that instinct finds healthy expression in a sales setting. Yesterday was my first real shift on the cash register at Borders and I had a ball. Though a cashier isn’t the primary book seller (there are people with that title who do the heavy selling out on the floor), we do have a couple of sales opportunities and expectations.
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  • 10 A Little Borders on the Side

    Today I had my first shift as an employee of Borders Books and Music. No, this isn’t a career change. Rather it’s a – “do you have any idea how much it costs to have two children in day care?” – action. Money’s a bit tight, especially since a good portion of my maternity leave this time around is unpaid. So I opted to pick up a few shifts a week at a nearby Borders, at least through the holidays. Beyond that, it might help defray the astronomical cost of day care a little bit. Not much, given that I’m
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  • 10 New Home?

    Ah, toddlers and their mocking-bird-like ability to repeat things they hear. Tonight, Miss Mouse came home from school especially fierce and was driving us a bit nuts. Josh jokingly asked her if she’d like to go live with Mr. Pat (our neighbor across the street, of whom she is quite fond). Little did we expect her to then spend the next 20 minutes, standing on the couch, gazing out the window, and whining imploringly – “I want go live with Mr. Pat!” Dang, kid. That’s harsh. Twist the knife while you’re at it, why don’t you?

  • 8 Rock ‘n Roll Baby

    Since this blog serves as our family baby book, I wish to duly record that my super-athletic son has already (somewhat) mastered the art of the tummy-to-back roll. He first did it a couple weeks ago, but we considered it a fluke. Since that time, though, he’s managed twice more so now it’s official. I will say, it does make it a bit more difficult to do “tummy time” when your offspring doesn’t want to stay on his tummy! We’ve been combining tummy time with “naked baby time” for Little Bear and he seems to like it. Like his big
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  • 8 Preemptive Strike

    “Turn around!” “Stay right there!” “Don’t! DON’T!!!!” Unsurprisingly, the source of these imperious commands was my ever-so-two-year-old daughter, Miss Mouse. What made me raise my eyebrows was the object of her bossiness: the stuffed animals hanging from Little Bear’s bouncey chair. That’s right. Miss Mouse appears to be under the impression that the wee crocodile, zebra, and elephant are marshaling an uprising and she aims to stop them in their tracks. The best part is that she’ll walk a few feet away from the chair, then turn around, squat a bit, point her finger, and issue her commands in a
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  • 6 Yetters

    I’d like to walk up to whoever thought up foam bath letters and give them a big old smooch. You know what I’m talking about, right? That perennial favorite: multicolored alphabet letters made out of thick foam. They float and stick to the tile when wet. What’s not to love? Miss Mouse loves nothing more than playing with her letters (pronounced “yetters” in Toddlerese) in the tub. It’s been fascinating to watch her start to recognize them, too. The game we usually play is: “Whose letter is it?” We identify letters according to people or things that begin with that
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  • 5 Rekindled

    I’ve heard it said many times that a baby is a very bad thing to add to a marriage that’s on the rocks. Many people think (hope) that a bundle of joy will rekindle the joy in a flagging relationship. I can easily see why that’d be a really bad idea. Sleep deprivation, screaming infants, and poop explosions are not for the faint of heart (as it were). However, there is a little-mentioned corollary to that axiom of wisdom that pertains to those of us blessed with happy marriages. It goes thus: watching your mate fall in love with your
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  • 2 My Friend, Sippy Cup

    Toddler’s aren’t great with articles. Or pronouns. I get that. Thus, I didn’t pay much attention to the way Miss Mouse referred to her sippy cup. It was usually something like – “I want sippy cup” – or – “Where is sippy cup?” But lately I’ve noticed that this trend is more than just a missing article. She’s doing some serious anthropomorphizing when it comes to that pink plastic cup. I think I need to start capitalizing the name — it’s not a sippy cup. It’s more like, Sippy Cup, a close and personal friend. Tonight it really came to
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  • 1 Halloween Part 5: Keep Your Candy To Yourself!

    Finally, after nearly a week of holiday-related parties and activities, we reached The Big Night. This year, we let Miss Mouse do a little bit of trick-or-treating, although to her it was just “meeting the neighbors.” She loved this activity and I got an electric jolt of – “my god, my baby is growing up” – as she hauled me up the street by the hand, squeaking excitedly as we approached each house. I do confess to harboring some bitterness in my heart toward my neighbors, though, on the issue of candy. Miss Mouse is happily oblivious to the true
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  • 1 Halloween Part 4: Toddler Boo Fest

    Boo! It’s Halloween in the Toddler B Room at KinderCare. The day’s festivities on Friday included pumpkin decorating, a Monster Dance Party, and a costume parade around the yard. Miss Mouse’s friends pulled out all the stops, sporting costumes that included Princess Leia, a lion, Elmo, and an ice cream cone (that Miss Mouse consistently referred to as a “pine cone”). Parents were invited for the parade, but sadly I couldn’t make it. Josh went in my stead and took lots of pictures, though. I love the sight of toddlers holding hands (or tails, as the case may be). It
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October 2010

  • 31 Halloween Part 3: The Hike

    Picture, if you will, a rambunctious group of twenty-five “under-eight-year-olds” decked out in Halloween splendor. Super heroes, animals, and a bevy of fairy princesses, along with a pirate or two, a Jedi night, and a Harley Davidson biker boy. Now picture them stomping through the woods. I give you the Tyke Hikes Halloween Party 2010. It was a blast. Miss Mouse, Little Bear, Aunt Meg, and I all joined in the festivities on Tuesday. The kids suited up in their costumes for a short but enjoyable hike through Schenley Park. Along the way, we collected Halloween-appropriate flora (like the weird
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  • 30 Halloween Part 2: The Participants

    I give you the participants in Halloween 2010: Miss Cow and Little Cowboy! This picture was actually the first time Miss Mouse got to hold her little brother. She was pretty excited. He looks a bit worried, but at no time during the capturing of this image was the wee cowboy in any danger. It only looks like he was about to fling himself off the couch!

  • 29 Halloween Part 1: A Positioning Statement

    This is Miss Mouse’s third Halloween, but in some ways it feels like her first because this is the first year she’s started to have a sense of the holiday. Last year, we decked her out as an adorable wee giraffe, but really I don’t think she had any idea what was going on. This year, she’s enjoying herself and we’ve stretched the holiday out to a nearly-week-long celebration involving a hike and a parade in addition to the night itself. Blogs on these respective events will be forthcoming, but I wanted to start with a little “positioning statement” about
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  • 29 Walking Prayers

    A friend of mine is blogging about her journey toward motherhood. It’s a more complicated journey than mine — involving sperm donors, lots of calendar watching, and the medical equivalent of turkey basters — and it makes me extra thankful for my own straightforward fertility. She wrote something the other day that has been pinging around in my head ever since.“There are so many other people who are also doing these things we are doing — giggling their way into the doctor’s office full of hope, giggling their way through the set-up process, lying on their backs and praying that
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  • 28 Chefette

    Miss Mouse continues to make great strides in her culinary explorations. These days, when I announce intentions to work on dinner, I am followed by an enthusiastic helper who shrieks “I cook!” at the top of her lungs until she is given a task. Last night, we indulged a hankering for pancakes and my girl played a central role in the production of the meal. She took particularly deep enjoyment from scooping up spoonfuls of flour and transporting them from one container to another, so I set her up with her own bowls and let her go to town. The
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  • 28 A Miscalculation

    Miss Mouse seems to be enjoying her role of big sister – particularly when she can be of assistance in caring for Little Bear. She likes to round up renegade binkies and burp cloths, and has taken to climbing up on the couch and genially whacking him on the back, announcing — “He need burp!” (She also does this to me, incidentally. Apparently I appear to be in need of a good burp.) I thought it would be fun for her to help us bathe him tonight. Lord knows he needed it. Baths are one area where the second child
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  • 26 An Ethical Dilemma Involving Seafood Masquerading as Poultry

    And now, an ethical dilemma which presented itself at dinner tonight. When your picky two-year-old daughter takes one look at the bowl of fried clams being presented for dinner and chirps happily — “chicken nuggets!”* before digging in with enthusiasm, are you morally obligated, as a parent, to inform her of their true identity? My short answer? Heck no. I know there are parents out there who are squeamish about “lying” to their children when it comes to food. These are the folks who feel great guilt about hiding vegetables in pasta sauce or substituting wheat flour for white without
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  • 25 The Witching Hour

    Some sort of spell has fallen over our home these days and each night, we experience and other-worldly Witching Hour during which Little Bear goes berserk. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the cause is, but each night — like clockwork — he throws a fit at 7:30pm. He squirms and flails and screams inconsolably for thirty to forty minutes. Diaper changes, bouncing, walking, singing, binkies, and feeding attempts are all to no avail. Usually, the only way to calm him down is to swaddle him tightly in a blanket, tilt him on his side, and
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  • 24 Piles of Plush

    I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but at some point while my back was turned, Miss Mouse has acquired a truly impressive array of stuffed animals. There’s George & Floppy — a monkey and rabbit, respectively — who sleep with her. There’s Penguin, Sheep, Sheep (yes a different one, same name), Lamb, Alice the Bear, Kelsey the Mountain Lion, an assortment of bats (from my aunt — I’ll tell you the story some day). And let’s not forget Bumblebee. Oh, and Jack Rabbit, Ranger Rick, two Tiggers, a Wild Thing… …you get the picture. One of Miss Mouse’s favorite
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  • 23 One Month!

    Happy one month birthday to my Little Bear! Dang, time flies when you’re blissfully happy.

  • 19 Accessories

    Diaper? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Purse? Check. She’s ready to go… Because, when you’ve got great accessories… …who needs clothes?

  • 18 Checking In, Checking Up

    Miss Mouse had her two year well-baby appointment today. She weighed in at 27 pounds and measured 34 inches, putting her smack at in the 50th percent for both. Interestingly, if you double a kid’s height at age two, it’s supposed to give you a pretty fair estimate of how tall they’ll be when fully grown. If that’s right, our girl is headed for about 5′ 8″ which is a reasonable guess, given that I’m 5′ 9″. In addition to the physical checkup, the doctor ran us and her through a checklist of developmental milestones. And I don’t want to
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  • 17 About that cupcake

    About that cupcake featured in Miss Mouse’s birthday photos. I will confess that I ignored my better mothering instinct and let her have that cupcake entirely because I wanted the cute birthday picture. Lord knows the child didn’t need any more sugar that day. She’d already had waffles for breakfast (a Mouse favorite), a cupcake for morning snack at school, and a pudding cup with her lunch. This for a child who basically eats no sweets. Dessert just isn’t part of our normal routine. In my defense, the cupcake at snack time was not my fault. I had actually put
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  • 17 Brrrrap

    Let me just take this moment to note that, when he’s seven, my boy is going to be a force to be reckoned with. He can already produce the most astonishingly large belches I’ve ever heard issue from something so small. I’d imagine that with several years of practice, he’ll have that skill perfected…

  • 16 Crowning Glory

    It’s the little things that make a big impression on little people. The crowning glory of Miss Mouse’s big day yesterday was, in fact, a crown. A humble construction paper crown with her name and “Happy Birthday” written on it, made by her teachers at Day Care. Nothing about her day made her more happy than that crown. Not even her birthday dinner (pasta — her favorite) and accompanying cupcake. Which is not to say that she didn’t enjoy her cupcake. She did. But the thing she’s asking for this morning is her crown.

  • 15 Concerning Hobbits (On Birthdays)

    Miss Mouse is 2 today! I can hardly believe it has been two years since my little girl came into the world. Over the last couple of years I have, at times, compared the Mouse to a hobbit (in my near obsession with The Lord of the Rings), and here we go again. If you have read The Lord of the Rings you will remember that it is hobbit tradition to present other hobbits with gifts on one’s own birthday (see ‘A Long Expected Party,’ Ch. 1, LOTR). With that in mind we sent the Mouse to school today with
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  • 13 Bumblebee

    I suspect that part of the reason Miss Mouse is so happy to be a big sister is that this new title has brought with it a shower of gifts and attention. Bless their hearts, my friends and family have been wonderful about making Miss Mouse feel important and loved, and have avoided the pitfall of making the older sibling feel neglected. In addition to enjoying her Big Sister gifts — such as a diapering set for her doll, a new care bear, a stuffed tigger, and several new books — Miss Mouse has, naturally, appropriated several of Little Bear’s
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  • 13 The Kitchen

    Before my parents left town, they presented Miss Mouse with her birthday gift. And what a gift it was: her very own play kitchen. Could anything bring greater joy to the heart of a two year old girl? The kitchen came from Ikea, is made of wood, and thus blends into my living room far more than I had expected. Certainly better than some of the pink plastic culinary monstrosities I’ve seen out there. In any case, we sent Miss Mouse upstairs while we brought it in and stocked the cupboards with a few pots and pans and a bunch
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  • 11 Just the four of us

    Today was our first official day on our own as a family of four. My parents packed up and headed west yesterday, after a wonderfully long visit (they’d been here since before Labor Day). I am incredibly blessed to have the very best parents in the world and rejoice daily that my kids have loving and involved grandparents to build relationships with over the next several decades. I know that many people would cringe at the very thought of a month long visit from their parents, but seriously, it was awesome to have them. My parents are some of the
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  • 9 The Importance of Consonants

    When planning a weekend excursion, it is important to pay close attention to consonants. My aunt came in for a quick “meet the Bear” visit and we embarked on a trip to a local township’s Oktoberfest. At least, that’s what we thought we were doing. In actuality, we went to an Octoberfest. See the difference? Oktoberfest = Fun German Festival. We had visions of munching on bratwursts and schnitzel, enjoying some German music, and even dancing a polka or two. In anticipation, I dressed Miss Mouse in her little German dirndl. She was adorable. She was also the only person
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  • 9 A Query for Mr. Darwin

    Dear Darwin, Here’s my question for you. Given the general rules of evolutionary theory, and that whole “survival of the fittest” thing, how is it that the dominant species on the planet has managed to retain the most anti-survivalist instinct in the world? Namely, interfering with its own feeding source. Every time I whip out a boob to nourish my darling wee Bear, he insists on immediately stuffing his hands in his mouth. What gives? A nurse at our doctor’s office tells me this is a reflex that all infants demonstrate. Well, what kind of stupid reflex is that? You’re
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  • 7 Bears, Oh My!

    This evening, we had our first confrontation with the wonderful world of toddler fears. I had read that about this age, many toddlers will suddenly exhibit irrational fears of things like bugs or water or anything else, really, that seems intimidating at the moment. The meltdown began innocently enough (as meltdowns often do). Miss Mouse was stomping around the house, informing everyone that she was on a bear hunt. (Inspired by one of her favorite books, no doubt). She peeked under furniture and behind curtains, ascertaining each time that no bear was present. My mother, bless her heart, had the
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  • 6 The Things We Forget

    Have you ever experienced the truly indescribable sensation of having baby spitup dripping down between your breasts? No? Then you’re clearly not a parent. I, however, am a parent — twice over — and thus am well versed (more so than I’d like, truth be told) in the realm of baby spitup. Miss Mouse was a champion spitter/puker and we never fed her or even held her without draping ourselves in burp cloths so large they could easily be mistaken for tablecloths. But somehow in the last year and a half — blissfully spitup free — I had forgotten just
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  • 6 Smartie Mouse

    One of the wonderful things about having a small child (even one who is so very TWO), is the unexpectedly profound things that come popping out of their mouths. As Miss Mouse talks more and more, some of the things she says astound me. Two examples from this week: 1) My mother was struggling to pull a too-tight shirt over Miss Mouse’s head. As she fussed and tugged, MM offered this bit of advice — “Need buttons, Nana.” Seriously? That’s definitely not a phrase that has even crossed any of our lips. She just pieced it together from her knowledge
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  • 3 Totally Two

    My daughter is two. (Almost). Lord Have Mercy, is she ever two. And since the arrival of Baby Bear, she has become increasingly and aggressively more and more two. Her mission in life appears to be to test the boundaries lovingly set by her parents, grandparents, and other authority figures. Again and again and again. And then once more, just to be sure we really meant it when we asked her not to hold onto the baby swing while it’s in motion. (We did). Our interactions tend to go something like this. Authority Figure: Miss Mouse, it’s time to pick
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  • 1 Friday Night Love

    One of the things about having a new baby is that you spend a lot of time hanging out with said baby in your arms — particularly if you’re trying to breastfeed. This downtime presents an opportunity to spend some quality time with your television, if you so desire. And I do. We watch almost no TV normally, but in the early weeks post-partum, Josh and I now have a tradition (apparently — twice makes a tradition, right?) of tackling a TV show on DVD. With Miss Mouse, I made him watch multiple seasons of Dawson’s Creek with me. This
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September 2010

  • 30 Of Babes and Boobs

    Ah, breastfeeding. Womanly art. Thing of beauty. Best for baby. Source of frustration, anxiety, and excruciating pain. Who says the sacrifices you make with your body end after the labor and delivery? As you may recall, breastfeeding didn’t go so well with Miss Mouse. In fact, I wound up in the hospital, and my boobs and I are legendary at my doctor’s office. But, undaunted, I have embarked on the boob-juice adventure once again with Baby Bear. To be honest, it hasn’t gone exceptionally well, though I haven’t given up yet. I want this to work, darn it. I love
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  • 30 Mouse Meets Bear

    We spent a lot of time strategizing about The Big Meeting between Miss Mouse and her little brother. As much as Miss Mouse seemed enthused by the concept of the baby in mommy’s tummy, I still had qualms about how she would respond to said brother in the flesh. On the whole, it went pretty well. Mouse’s first query was whether she could hold the baby (no) and then she proceeded to demand access to the craisins she spied in my mother’s purse. Perhaps not love at first sight, but she didn’t try to hit him. I had hoped to
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  • 28 The Perfect Birth: Part 2

    …then the waiting began. Everything you hear about induced labor makes it sound like head-spinning whirlwind of painful contractions, but that wasn’t our experience. The whole thing cranked into gear very slowly. First came a 12-hour course of a med called cervidil. I started it, watched a movie with the hubby (Penelope, if you were curious — I heart James McAvoy), and got a pretty good night’s sleep. At least as far as hospital sleep is concerned, given the fact that people keep popping in and out of your room all night to poke you, check your monitors, and pump
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  • 27 The Perfect Birth: Part 1

    There may be nothing better in the world than being able to look back on your recent birth-giving experience and think to yourself – “wow, that was perfect.” It truly was. Details about the birth itself will be forthcoming, but the story really started at 4pm on Wednesday September 22nd and getting to the hospital was an adventure worth recounting… We were due to arrive at the hospital for our scheduled induction at 6pm and had plans to get dinner beforehand at my favorite ‘Burgh restaurant — Church Brew Works. In a moment of climatalogical insanity, our fair city (and
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  • 25 Welcome to the World!

    Welcome to the world, Malachi James.* Born September 22nd at 9:17pm. 8lbs 10 oz, 20.5 inches long. Perfection with wrinkly feet. *From here on out, our new little man will be known as Baby (or Little) Bear on this site, but since I posted about the name game we had going, it seemed a shame not to share it this one time! Did you get the clues? The most important one was #4, that we believe God is still speaking. Malachi means “my messenger” in Hebrew and was a prophet of God in the Old Testament.

  • 22 Meditations Pre-Baby

    So here we are, hours away from kicking this baby party into high gear. I’m spending my last few hours serenely savoring the final stretch of pregnancy and blissfully contemplating my son’s arrival. Or not. In truth, due to a combination of factors including pregnancy hormones, the stress of being on unfulfilled High Baby Alert for two weeks, and Miss Mouse’s sorrowful clinginess, I’ve been an emotional train wreck since last night. Josh had a meeting last night, so I put Miss Mouse to bed (against her expressly and loudly stated wishes). Shortly after putting her down, I was hit
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  • 21 The Most Pitiful Thing in the World

    My oh my. There is nothing — absolutely nothing — more pitiful (or more labor intensive) than a toddler who doesn’t feel good. It turns out, Miss Mouse’s bout of shoe-defacing potty troubles yesterday were only the beginning of our woes. She awoke cranky and miserable and soon had a repeat performance of yesterday’s intestinal ick. And then another. And one more by the end of the day. Add to that lots of whimpering and moaning, refusing to eat, and generally clinging to me like a barnacle, and you have a sense of what my girl was like today. There
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  • 20 Cleaning Advice

    Miss Mouse was starting to look suspiciously like a street urchin, as the toes of her beloved elephant shoes were wearing through, leaving big holes. So I mustered my courage (and my checkbook), headed to the shoe store, and shelled out an obscene amount of money for a to-die-for pair of Merrell sneakers. I am madly in love with them, even if it means we may not be able to afford groceries this week. Why they are allowed to charge that much for something that small is a unfathomable mystery. Now, three days after the big purchase, I find myself
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  • 19 Here’s Your Sign

    There’s a country comedian named Bill Engvall who tours with Jeff Foxworthy and someone else on a “Blue Collar Comedy Tour.” One of Engvall’s best bits is a “here’s your sign” number he does. The basic premise is that stupid people should carry or wear a sign indicating their status as such, which would help innocent bystanders steer clear and never rely on them for advice. His funniest applications involve people asking wildly obvious questions. For example… I stayed late at work one night and a co-worker looked at me and said — “You still here?” I replied “No, I
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  • 18 Dragon Boat

    Ask Miss Mouse what she did today and she’ll tell you — “I saw dragon boat!” Today was the annual Dragon Boat Festival down on the riverfront and my parents and I took Miss Mouse down to check out all the action. Although she was enchanted by the dragon boat out on the water, I confess I was a bit underwhelmed. I was picturing something like a Chinese version of a Viking warship. Big. Colorful. BIG. Mom and I also mistakenly thought we’d read that there would be dragon boat races and so I anticipated seeing a whole flotilla of
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  • 17 An Overly Personal Update

    Warning: This post contains personal details of my reproductive organs and includes the words “cervix” and “membranes.” You’ve been warned. As of today, Baby2 is officially late. He was due to arrive yesterday, and everyone (including our doctors) is pretty surprised that he isn’t here yet. Second babies tend to come faster than first, and Miss Mouse was two days early. But our son is already proving himself to be a rebel and is refusing to show up on anyone’s schedule but his own. We checked in with our doc today, who pronounced my weight, pulse and blood pressure to
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  • 17 Romance ala Borders

    As I may have mentioned (once or twice), we’re book people in our household. Josh and I have regular “dates” at the local Borders. We head over together for an hour or two and browse, then bring a stack of “maybes” into the cafe to discuss over a hot chocolate and a cookie. There’s just something magical about a big bookstore. The idea that there are literally thousands of untasted literary treasures just waiting to be discovered makes me giddy. Yesterday, we spent a lovely rainy afternoon together in bookland and by the end of the day, the whole family
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  • 16 Keeping Quiet

    I’m not the type of person to keep my opinions to myself. I’m pretty outspoken, though I certainly try to be respectful about it. I’m starting to learn, though, that online venues aren’t always the best place for that. It’s incredibly tempting to want to weigh in on various debates that take place in Facebook comments or mommy forums like Cafe Mom. There are a million raging conversation threads about political races or the mosque in New York or whether to circumcise your child. There’s no end of opportunities to throw your two cents in — and when the venue
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  • 16 Pastor’s Kid

    Being a minister brings with it many blessings, but also times that can best be described as chaotic. Poor Porthos is already having to deal with the chaotic times. I had a church member pass away this week, which, thankfully (in some ways) we knew was coming for a week or so. So on Sunday, as the poor dear was struggling to hold on to life, I was telling Porthos he needed to come very soon to make sure I could be able to be at his birth, and also at the church for the funeral. Well, Jan died on
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  • 16 Words of Wisdom

    When you’re pregnant, you are frequently inundated with “words of wisdom” from other mothers. These pearls of advice come to you whether you asked for them or not, so the best you can do is ignore the questionable bits and focus on the gems. The two most helpful things people have said to me this time around weren’t even phrased as advice, per se. They were just comments on two mothers’ personal experiences. The first came early in the pregnancy from a young mother in our church who has a brood of three with a fourth kiddo on the way.
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  • 15 The problem with eight-year-old girls

    Still no baby. Although now we’re actually crossing our fingers that he holds our for another day, due to the fact that Josh is supposed to be doing a funeral for a beloved church member tomorrow at 11am… In the meantime, this afternoon, my folks and I took Miss Mouse to a nearby park with an awesome set of playground equipment. She was in heaven — trying the slides, swinging on the swings, and running happily across small bridges. There was only one small dark spot on the day. I always used to think that the worst thing on a
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  • 14 Laborless

    I realized that, at this point in the game, when I don’t blog for a day, it makes people think I’m off having a baby. Alas, this is not the case. I was feeling lazy yesterday, and one clearly cannot give birth in a lazy state of mind. In fairness, I had noble goals of helping the baby-birthing process along by consuming a lunch of spicy Indian food, but the fates conspired against me when not one but two Indian restaurants in a row were closed. I was forced (hah) to dine at Atria’s on their Oktoberfest menu, but apparently
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  • 12 In which hoops are jumped through, cake is eaten, and cups are peed into

    Friday was officially my last day of work before heading out on a 12 week maternity leave. I am way too Type A to work up until I go into labor — you’d inevitably feel like you left things incomplete — so I’m giving myself a little breathing room. In celebration, my sweet office mates had a cake and ice cream party, accompanied by an array of fun baby decorations including a helium stork balloon the size of a small airplane. The cake and ice cream party raised a slight problem, though. It was scheduled from 11am to 1pm. I
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  • 11 A Hard Day’s Rummage

    Whew. I am so tired I can barely wiggle after a hard day’s rummage sale-ing at church. In fact, the only parts of me capable of movement seem to be my fingers (obviously) and my uterus, which is contracting somewhat frequently, but not remotely regularly so I’m not impressed. In any case, the day went great! We think we cleared about $700, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you consider that most items were priced in the $1 to $2 range, or less, it’s not too shabby. Plus, we got a lot of community exposure, which was a
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  • 10 The (Almost) Final Clue

    I realized I have been remiss in my blogging duties and failed to share the (almost) final clue in the “He Shall Be Called” Guess-the-Name-of-the-Baby game. I say (almost) final because we’re planning to release one more this Sunday, assuming that none of our parishioners have guessed right by then. So far, no one has… In any case, the Fourth Clue is: We believe that God is still speaking. Yes, that’s the clue. And, in my opinion, it’s the best and most revealing clue of all. It’s at the heart of why we picked this name. Good luck!

  • 9 Good God, Lousy World

    As you may know, I’m an NPR junkie. My morning simply isn’t complete without listening to Morning Edition and I have a secret crush on Steve Inskeep even though I have no idea what he looks like. However, a daily dose of of NPR can really start to wear on your psyche if you’re not careful. Each day you’re hit with a barrage of bad news and ugliness: mass rapes in Africa, financial scandals, natural disasters, and on and on. For a theologically-minded person, this type of negative deluge can also start to undermine your vision of God. Where the
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  • 8 Family Mixin’ and Painted Ponies

    It was a full house this weekend with both sets of parents/in-laws in town. In a wonderful display of cross-family mixing, on Monday Josh headed off to a baseball game with his folks and my dad while my mom, his sister, and I took Miss Mouse to the zoo. Fun times all around! At the zoo, Miss Mouse had her very first ride at a carousel. My mom had been dying to take her on one and so off they went. After an initial moment’s qualm, it was love at first painted pony. She would grin and wave as she
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  • 7 (Pastor’s) Wifely Duties

    I will be the first to admit that I am not what you might call a typical (stereotypical?) “Pastor’s Wife.” I don’t sing in the choir. I steadfastly refuse to become a deaconess. I sometimes play hooky in favor of eating brunch. And if the congregation knew the gritty details of many of my theological viewpoints, they’d probably keel over. That being said, let the record show that I spent this evening dutifully sorting donations to our church rummage sale being held this Saturday. I only lasted about an hour. Bending and lifting are two things I don’t do well
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  • 4 A Doll Dilemma

    As a way of helping ease Miss Mouse into the roll of Big Sister, I plan to give her a new baby doll when she comes to meet Baby2 at the hospital. Several people recommended this strategy and, given how much she seems to enjoy her current baby doll, it seems like a good plan. I searched high and low for a fabulous baby doll. I wanted something realistic but not freaky. No bodily functions or batteries required. I found my dream doll in the American Girl Bitty Baby. I even had a nice Etsy seller make a few custom
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  • 1 The Baby Countdown Cavalry

    The “Baby Countdown Cavalry” (aka my parents) arrived yesterday — they’ll be here for the next month and a half to lend a hand as we welcome the newest member of the family. We’re all happy to see them, but Miss Mouse is so happy she’s bordering on deranged. Seriously. When my folks pulled into the driveway last night (about 30 minutes before bedtime, naturally), she began bouncing up and down on the couch, squeaking. When they came through the door, she was overcome by emotion and had to roll around on the couch for a few minutes. She pulled
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August 2010

  • 31 Nocturnal Habits of Pregnant Folk

    We pregnant folk are our own breed of person. We walk funny. We look kinda funny. We experience unpredictable mood swings. And we tend to be a lot more active at night than the average non-pregnant person who spends her night actually sleeping instead of thrashing around trying to get comfortable. Depending on the night, there can really be a lot of activity. For example, last night I… …drank two glasses of water. …got up to pee three times. …had a nightmare about a tree-dwelling yeti (don’t laugh — he was scary). …woke up 42 times. …rearranged my array of
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  • 30 Move Over Rachel Ray

    Alright, Rachel Ray. You’ve had your day in the sun, but now it’s time for Miss Mouse to move on up in the ranks of budding chefs. My girl loves to putz around in the kitchen while I’m cooking (often choosing to sit ON my feet whenever possible) and I finally let her help make pancakes on Saturday night.* I was inspired by this picture of me, circa 1983. In answer to the obvious first question: yes my parents actually did feed me. I have no idea why you can see my ribs so clearly. And, given that what I’m
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  • 30 I’ll miss the tummy tray

    There are plenty of things about pregnancy that I will not miss once my son arrives, including the incessant peeing, the backaches, and the inability to draw a deep breath. But the gigantic belly does bring with it some perks, and this is one of them… …my stomach makes a darn good tray at this point. I can balance drinks on that thing, too.

  • 29 How I learned to stop worrying and love the epidural

    I put the finishing touches on our Birth Plan last night and it’s printed and ready to go into the hospital bag. It’s a one-pager that highlights some of our preferences for the birth experience. Keep the students to a minimum (it’s a teaching hospital). Don’t circumcise my kid. I’m planning to donate cord blood. No pacifiers in the nursery. That sort of stuff. Under the section on “pain management,” I’ve written — “Once labor is actively established, Kate would like to receive an epidural.” Those words represent a pretty monumental sea change from the first birth plan I wrote
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  • 28 From the mouth of babes

    You can always count on a toddler to be honest with you. I was forced to accept today that my stretch marks may be more alarming that I had realized — when my darling daughter marched across the room, pointed to my protruding tummy, announced “put tummy away,” and tugged my shirt down. Thanks, babe.

  • 28 Test Time

    I took the SAT today. Whew, that’s a weight off my mind. For the last couple weeks, I found myself with no time for anything but studying because I felt like I should be hitting the books every waking moment and had trouble giving myself permission to take a day off. I’m type-A like that. All of this prepping has ultimately made me pretty skeptical of the value of the SAT, I have to say. On my practice tests, my math score varied wildly — about a hundred point spread! — within a matter of days. I’m pretty sure I
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  • 27 Stretched

    These days, I often feel like an elderly hobbit. Ha, that got your attention, didn’t it? It’s true though. During these final weeks of pregnancy, I frequently call to mind a quote by one Mr. Bilbo Baggins on the occasion of his 111th birthday in the movie The Lord of the Rings. Quoth Mr. Baggins: “I feel thin — sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.“ Now, I won’t say that “thin” is an adjective I use much on myself these days, but the feeling of being over-stretched is one I can definitely relate to. I don’t
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  • 26 A Book Person Mourns

    As I may have mentioned once or twice, our family is comprised of Book People. We’re readers, the lot of us. Our home has seven bookcases brimming with literature and we’re always lamenting that there just isn’t room for any more shelving. At last count, my husband’s collection numbered over 325 (and that doesn’t include the titles on his Kindle). Miss Mouse may be just shy of two, but she loves nothing more than paging through her books and has favorites she will ask for by name. She takes at least three to bed with her every night. All of
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  • 25 Love for the Little People

    Have you ever wondered how to make a toddler dissolve into paroxysms of joy? I have four words for you: Fisher Price Little People. Yes, my friends, all you need in your arsenal to win over the undying love and affection of any child under the age of three is a steady supply of FPLP. Now, adults of a certain age will remember the Little People of our childhood. They were sort of peg-like and looked like this: And like this, for the animals: I had a fair collection of the wee guys, including a castle, a playground, and a
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  • 25 In Which a Cheeseburger is Unavoidable

    Over the past eight and a half months, I have tried to remain mindful of the fact that pregnancy is not, in fact, a free pass to eat anything and everything yummy that crosses your path. I have exercised restraint. Stop laughing. I mean that. While I have been indulging in more (and guilt-free) sweets than usual, I try to eat pretty healthy during the day. I bring fruit and cheese sticks and wheat thins to munch on at work and usually have a Lean Cuisine dish as my lunch. This noon, however, the office microwave inexplicably turned against me
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  • 24 The Stockpile

    I learned something interesting shortly after Miss Mouse was born. As a brand-new parent, you are generally flooded with offers of support… …and that support usually lasts about three weeks. This is absolutely not meant to shortchange the wonderful gifts of love, time, and food that rained upon me in the early days of parenthood. When Miss Mouse was born, my husband took two weeks of paternity leave, my parents drove out to spend several weeks, my mother-in-law came for a while, and various friends and church members blessed us with home-cooked meals. It was blissful. It’s just that most
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  • 23 The Big Purple Dinosaur

    It’s always funny to hear Miss Mouse sing. They do a lot of music listening and singing and dancing at school and she comes home with lots of songs in her head. She does great with “Wheels on the Bus” and “She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain” and a number of other classic tunes. Then there was this afternoon, when she started warbling in the backseat of the car. I listened hard for a minute before I suddenly realized why the song was familiar… …”I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family…” Yes, Miss Mouse was singing the
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  • 22 Stuff

    You hear that pregnant women go through “nesting” phases when they are consumed by desire to ready their dwelling for the coming baby. We paint. We clean. We feverishly put the finishing touches on the nursery. That sort of thing. In general, I feel no strong cleaning impulses (shocking), but what I am feeling is an overwhelming desire to have less STUFF cluttering up my house. Josh and I aren’t huge shoppers and we don’t go out of our way to accumulate personal belongings, but over time it just happens. And suddenly you find you’ve reached the point where every
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  • 21 Giving Blood

    I grew up in a family of blood donors. My mom has super veins and gives as often as you’re allowed to and our house was sprinkled with blood donation tchotchke, from Charlie Corpuscle stuffed critters to mugs and pajama pants emblazoned with our local blood bank’s emblem. As I’ve grown up, I try to carry on the tradition, although for a while there, my overseas travel nixed me from many a list. This morning, I just finished filling out the paperwork for a different type of blood donation — cord blood. When Baby2 is born in a few weeks,
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  • 19 In which Miss Mouse pees on Noah’s Ark, but also in the Potty

    It started with some serious diaper chafing. In recent weeks — perhaps due to the ungodly heat and humidity? — Miss Mouse has developed some nasty sore spots on her bottom. It’s not really diaper rash. It looks much more like chafing. Things had reached a breaking point today, as she threw a massive fit at each diaper change and sobbed “no wipes” when I came near her with the baby wipes. In addition to plying her with neosporin, I decided to try the old newborn trick of letting her air out her rear end. But with a mobile and
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  • 18 My Secret Fear

    As The Big Day draws near, I find myself confronting once again my single biggest new-parent-to-be fear. I don’t fear birth. I’m not that worried about Miss Mouse adjusting to her new little brother. I do not quail at the thought of how to handle that amazing tendency of little boys to pee on the ceiling when you change their diapers. I’m not even afraid to try breastfeeding again. No, I fear sleep deprivation above all else. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I like to sleep. I guard my sleep jealously and woe be to you
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  • 17 Pregnancy Then and Now

    One of the things I get asked a lot as a “second time pregnant lady” is: how is pregnancy different the second time? My answer: Wildly Different. First, there are the physical differences. Whether it’s because this one’s a boy or because it’s round two, the physical experience of pregnancy has been different this time. In some ways, bumpier and in other easier. I was much sicker in the first trimester this time than when pregnant with Miss Mouse, but since then it’s been smooth sailing — none of the borderline blood pressure and glucose tests I had with Mouse.
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  • 16 The Sound of Desperation

    Have you ever wondered what true desperation sounds like? I heard it last night at 7:17pm. I had just finished putting an unwilling Mouse to bed and was listening to the baby monitor as she shrieked and moaned and carried on. She does that sometimes — often when she’s overtired. At first, it was just general fuss, but then she started directing her pleas to specific potential saviors. First it was — “MOMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!“ Then, “DADDDDDDDYYYYYYYYY!!!“ And finally, “RILEYYYYYYYY!!!” Yes, she was calling for the dog. That’s what I call desperation. When you try to enlist the help of the family
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  • 15 My Little Green Eyed Monster

    As part of yesterday’s festivities, my friend Erinn was in town with her delicious new son, born shortly before Memorial Day. I was curious to see how Miss Mouse would take to the presence of a small creature in her house, and she behaved about like I expected. Which is to say that she was okay with L as long as her mommy wasn’t the one holding him! As we hung out together, she was very interested in his diaper changing activities and the fact that he stuck his tongue out a lot. She informed me worriedly each time he
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  • 14 My Girls

    I have a lot of blessings in my life, but one for which I am increasingly grateful is the amazing group of girlfriends that I have. A bunch of us met in seminary and stayed close after graduation. Then, a little over a year ago, we decided to get more intentional about spending time together and set up a monthly small group meeting. The makeup has shifted a bit, as we lost two ladies to out of state moves, but gained another. The whole crew are women of faith — of the seven of us, five are seminary grads, one
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  • 12 The More She Says, The Less I Understand

    In an ironic twist of toddlerhood, the more verbal Miss Mouse becomes, the harder I’m finding it to keep up with what she’s saying. I think the problem lies in the introduction of more abstract thought. In the early days, the only words Miss Mouse uttered had to do with her immediate surroundings. She actually enunciates quite well for a not-even-two-year old and even when she didn’t, you could guess what she was saying. She’s point at her sheep and say “seep!” Easy enough. But now, her horizons are expanding and Miss Mouse will frequently comment on her friends from
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  • 11 The Mouse Aquatic

    When my parents are in town, Miss Mouse spends every sunny afternoon in the pool at their condo, enjoying the life aquatic. As you can see, she absolutely loves it. http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 10 Incentives

    It’s fascinating to watch Miss Mouse’s reasoning capacity develop, particularly as it relates to verbal instructions and incentives. She’s really starting to grasp the “you must do X before you can do Y” thing. First case in point, the sticker she gets for getting dressed in the morning. It’s also a huge help at dinnertime. My girl is a picky eater — she likes what she likes and not much else. But we’re starting to be able to coerce (convince?) her to try at least a few bites of previously-rejected foods. It goes something like — “Miss Mouse, you may
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  • 10 It Repeats

    When your child begins to speak you are warned by many around you (who have, no doubt, experienced the same thing) that your toddler will repeat what you say, even when you are not speaking to them. I had been warned, but in my heart I did not believe it, until yesterday: We were driving home from Treasure Club at church when I missed a turn. Upon missing said turn I let out a ‘shit,’ which I followed up very quickly with a ‘shoot’ since we try to watch our language in front of Jelly Bean. My ‘shoot’ was followed
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  • 8 A Day Outdoors

    We discovered a magical place yesterday — Raccoon Creek State Park. Technically, I guess it was a “rediscovery,” since Josh and I had been there several years ago to go hiking with Riley. But we hadn’t been back since and this time I explored it with new eyes — a mom’s eyes. And I liked what I saw. State parks may be the best things ever for parenting on a budget because, at least in Pennsylvania, they don’t charge you to come in and enjoy the bounty. Raccoon Creek is only about 45 minutes from our house, so my parents
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  • 5 A Tribute

    As of approximately 5:07 p.m. this afternoon Kate and I will have been married 4 years (the wedding started at 4:30, but there were a few other things in the service before we took the vows). All 4 years have been a true blessing for me, but the last 2 have been especially blessed. As you all know Kate and I were blessed with Jelly Bean in the Fall of 2008 and since then I have come to love my wife even more than I did before. Never before have I seen such grace and love enacted as when I
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  • 5 Grace Notes

    My office is located in an old (but still very much operational) church. This brings with it some quirks like erratic heat and occasionally inconvenient hours of operation, but it also brings unexpected moments of grace. This morning, as I headed down for (another) bathroom break, I heard music coming from one of the fellowship halls. The lights were out, but there just enough light trickling in from a few stained glass windows to make out the general outline of the furniture. Someone was sitting at a piano in the corner, picking out a melody in the darkness. And it
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  • 4 Stickers Are Their Own Reward

    Why didn’t I think of it sooner? The answer to all my recent morning clothing battles with Miss Mouse lay before me all along. I just didn’t realize it. But let me back up. For some reason, Miss Mouse has been boycotting clothing in the mornings. She doesn’t want to take her pajamas off. Then she doesn’t want to put her clothes on. And let me tell you, it’s hard to force-dress a toddler. Seriously. They make it very difficult and I feel like a horrible person when I have to pin her down in order to yank a t-shirt
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  • 3 Picnics with Toddlers

    I can sum up this post in six words: Not As Easy As It Sounds. On Saturday, I made plans for a relaxing picnic in the park with my mother, my toddler, my dear friend, her husband, and their six week old son. It was a gorgeous day and I had idyllic visions of lounging in the shade while nibbling on salad and fruit as we admired our respective children. Somehow, in the midst of imagining, I had forgotten that my respective child is an energetic toddler — lounging isn’t really her forte. Bouncing around like a manic butterfly? Now
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  • 2 Playdate Redux

    This weekend, Miss Mouse embarked on her third-ever official “playdate.” The first two hadn’t gone exceptionally well. Round 1 was last summer with the son of a friend and they were really too small to play together — heck, they couldn’t even walk. Then last month, we had a daycare friend over with her son and Miss Mouse spent the entire hour rushing from one of her toys to the next screaming “MINE!!!!” at the top of her lungs whenever her “friend” got near her possessions. But yesterday, the playmate in question was M, Miss Mouse’s very best friend from
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July 2010

  • 31 Fragile

    This time around, I’ve been much more aware of just how fragile the little creature growing inside me is. You’d think it might be the opposite — that as a second-time mom-to-be, I’d be brimming with the optimistic confidence of having been through this once. But it’s really been the opposite. When I was pregnant with Miss Mouse, I remember having few serious worries about her being born healthy. Or being born at all. Those fears just didn’t cross my mind. In the intervening two years, though, I’ve watched a lot more of my friends become pregnant, and it didn’t
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  • 28 A Tipping Point

    I’m going to share something very personal and very hard for me. Deep breath. Okay. I am poised on the brink of weighing 200 pounds. Wince. Shudder. Gulp. I know I’m pregnant and that weight gain is inevitable. And I’m a tall person so I carry a decent amount of poundage under normal circumstances. But let me tell you, there is something really really emotionally difficult for me about weighing 200 pounds, even when there’s a good reason for it. The heart of the problem right now is that I never lost all my Mouse baby weight. So even though
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  • 27 You Can’t Say “Vaginal” in a Prayer

    Okay, it’s possible that the title of this post will attract all kinds of weirdies to my blog. If you’re a weirdie and you’re reading this, just keep on moving. Anyways, today we (Josh, Porthos and I) had our 32 week pregnancy checkup. My time flies. Eight short weeks until showtime. We were scheduled with a new doc in the practice whom I’ll call Dr. X. I had met her once before but this was Josh’s first encounter. Dr. X is sweet and kind and seems perfectly skilled…but she does have her quirks. She’s known for saying things that sort
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  • 27 In Kentucky…

    Allow me to defend myself in the ‘lay vs. lie’ debate. I am from Kentucky, and I miss my home more than words can properly express. Since I am unable at this time (or ever, probably) to live in that blessed place there are things I do/say to try and keep my home alive in my heart: Watching UK Basketball. Saying ‘fixin’ when getting ready to do something. I.e., ‘I’m fixin to mow the grass.’ Going to church every Sunday. OK, I’m a minister, and my dad is a minister, so maybe this doesn’t count as a KY thing, but
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  • 27 Now I Lie Me Down to Sleep

    As Miss Mouse’s vocabulary expands, I’m trying to do my best to instill correct grammar in her wee brain from the get-go. From day one, we’ve resisted the urge to repeat her baby talk back to her, preferring to pronounce the words correctly for her. So, when she says “wa wa” I say “do you want your water?“ This has been going pretty well, but for some reason, Mousie has presented a persistent misuse of lay vs. lie. When changing her diaper, she insists of chirping “lay down” when I ask her to “lie down.” I realize this is a
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  • 26 And He Shall Be Called… (continued)

    My sincere apologies. I have received several pieces of irate fan mail (okay, three pointed emails from friends and family) demanding to know why more clues to the “And He Shall Be Called…” baby name game have not been forthcoming. Ask, and ye shall receive. We released the second clue to our church a few weeks ago and then the third clue is going out this week. There is a fourth clue (which is my favorite) that will be announced at the end of August, and a possible fifth clue that may appear a week before the due date, depending
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  • 23 Fickle

    There’s really no way to sugarcoat it — my girl is fickle and that’s all there is to it. She appears to be gearing up for a life of heartbreaking-for-sport with the way she toys with your emotions. Oh, I could list the hundreds of games she plays with the hearts of those who love her, but for today I’ll focus on one specific area: her coyness around family members. Take her grandmothers. These two sweet women want nothing more than to shower Miss Mouse with love and affection, and yet she stubbornly maintained aloof for what seemed like eons.
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  • 21 Number 2 Pencil

    I’ve been having flashbacks to my high school days. I dream about Number 2 pencils and being late for tests. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I am (once again) studying for the SAT. You heard me right. At the ripe old age of 28, I will once again be taking that nightmare-inducing, college-prep necessity — the SAT. No, I’m not planning to re-enter the halls of academia as a college freshman any time soon (thank goodness). It’s a more practical decision. Money’s going to be tight for us when Baby2 comes along — has
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  • 20 One More

    Oh, lord help us. She’s learned the end-all-be-all of stalling tactics. “One More….” That’s right. Whenever it’s time to end an activity, Miss Mouse suggests that perhaps just one more would be best. One more story. One more sticker. One more cracker. For some mysterious reason, she also points to one cheek with her index finger while making her request. Now, demands for more stories and songs and food are one thing. I can say no without too much trouble. But I defy you to deny the small winsome creature who stands in her crib, holds out her arms, and
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  • 20 Preacher Woman

    So, as I mentioned, I was the “guest preacher” at church on Sunday. We’re in the midst of a stewardship campaign and my husband pressed me into service so that it wasn’t just his voice exhorting our sheep to give more. I’ve never been one for false modesty so I’ll just say it — I rocked! At least, I think I did. My sermon was on making God a financial priority in one’s life. My basic point was that how you spend your money says a lot about what you consider to be important in life. It’s something I firmly
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  • 19 The Trouble with Sundays

    The trouble with Sundays, other than the obvious fact that they are followed by Mondays, is that Sunday is our Productive Day at home. On Sundays, we Get Things Done. Like yesterday, during the course of which: We all went to church. I preached (more on that later), Josh took care of everything else liturgical, and Miss Mouse rammed up and down the halls on some sort of push tricycle (no, not during the service). Josh visited a sick parishioner in the hospital. I took a practice SAT math test (more on that another time). Josh and Miss Mouse took
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  • 17 Dinner Tonight

    Yes, it’s a fuzzy winter hat with bear ears. Yes, other than her diaper, it’s the only thing she wore to dinner tonight. Yes, wearing it was her idea. No, I have no idea why.

  • 16 Chubby Baby Thighs

    It turns out that I am (apparently) a bit of a prude when it comes to baby apparel. Despite the trends of popular culture, I am just not that comfortable dressing my two-year old in flesh-baring outfits. There are few things more horrifyingly inappropriate to me than a toddler in a triangle string bikini. I mean seriously, people. There’s plenty of time for outfits like that when your daughter is 18 years old. Do we have to start at 18 months old? Although less vigorous, I’ve also maintained a slight aversion to tank tops, shorts, and dresses without pants. I
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  • 15 The Musical Mouse

    Miss Mouse is cultivating her inner musician this summer. She’s been on a serious music kick for the last few weeks. The video I posted of her singing the alphabet song is really just the tip of the iceberg. She also does a bang up job on “Wheels on the Bus” (with many hand gestures) and “Five Little Monkeys“. The latter song was one of those great revelations I enjoy so much. We were hanging out upstairs in my bed the other day and Miss Mouse started bouncing up and down and chanting “monkey, monkey.” It took me a while
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  • 13 A Singing Mouse

    Look, I know I’m her mother and therefore biased. And I realize that Miss Mouse is my first child and I thus have no frame of reference. But all that aside, can I just say for the record that I think she’s astonishingly bright? Not to mention shockingly cute. (Side note: despite appearances, she is not actually naked in this video. There’s a purple diaper hidden beneath Dad’s arm. This was taken right after dinner and my child isn’t allowed to wear clothes while consuming real food. We made that decision as an act of mercy to the washing machine.)
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  • 12 Happy Daddy, Seven Eight

    One of the things that’s wild about having a child in day care is that she learns things without your realizing it. Then suddenly, she springs this new knowledge on you. She did it twice this weekend and was very proud of herself both times. On Saturday, when Josh woke up, Miss Mouse and I came to give him hugs and I encouraged her to “say Happy Birthday to Daddy!” She responded by singing an off-key, but recognizable, bar of the Happy Birthday Song. I was very impressed. For the rest of the weekend, she would chirp — “Happy Daddy!”
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  • 11 In Which a Nervous Breakdown is Avoided

    My husband kicked me out of the house this afternoon for some much-needed “me time,” sans toddler. We had just gotten her down for a nap (with many tears) and I was listing off the things I needed to accomplish while she slept. He looked at me for a minute, then gently replied – “honey, I think you need to get out of the house for a few hours.” And so I did. I headed over to my parent’s empty condo with a good book and spent a couple hours reading and chatting on the phone with a good friend.
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  • 10 Baby Mama

    Josh’s aunt recently gave Miss Mouse a “you’re going to be a big sister and isn’t that awesome” present. A baby doll stroller. It’s bright purple, green, and pink and has a little removable cradle. The stroller is Miss Mouse’s newest favorite thing in the whole wide world. We assembled it this afternoon (which was its own fun adventure) and she spent the rest of the day marching purposefully around the house pushing an assortment of her “friends” including a baby doll, a stuffed sheep, and a stuffed penguin. Our house is conveniently arranged to allow for a broad loop
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  • 10 Inside Joke

    As Miss Mouse talks more and more, it’s fun to see what all she is able to repeat (even if she doesn’t understand it). We often play the — “Mouse, can you say….?” game which she also appears to find endlessly amusing. The other day, Josh asked her to say “unbelievable.” She paused for a moment in thought, then very deliberately pronounced — “waffin“. Yup, waffin. Like a cousin of waffle. And, instantly, a family joke was born. Whenever something is particularly unbelievably awesome, we say it’s waffin. Like in Josh’s birthday card from Miss Mouse. “She” wrote that she
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  • 9 Water Baby

    I think the highlight of the weekend for Miss Mouse was probably our trip to the local Aquatic Center. And my, oh my, it is quite a place. There are water slides and a lazy river and diving boards for the big kids, and a huge decked-out baby pool called The Pond for the little ones. And the price of admission? $1.50 for the little ones, $5 for a grownup. Let’s contrast that with Pittsburgh’s main water attraction which charges a whopping $29.99 for the privilege of cavorting there. In any case, my little water baby took to The Pond
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  • 9 Anthropology 101

    Though I am now a fundraiser, my background is in Anthropology. And there’s nothing like a large family gathering to rekindle the old anthropological zeal. Kinship, its ramifications, and the behavior of relatives is an endlessly fascinating subject. For example: here’s one interesting tidbit about my family. The gender makeup of each generation tends to be highly off-balanced. Exhibit A: My mom’s one of five siblings — four girls and a boy (generation: 80% female). Exhibit B: The grand children consist of 7 girls and two boys (generation: 78% female). Exhibit C: The great grand children to date number six
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  • 7 Apple Walnut Coleslaw

    I’m going to return to the theme of the family weekend shortly, but I did need to pause here to brag about the fantastic coleslaw I made tonight. I should preface this by saying that I hate coleslaw. I really do. There’s something about the soggy mass of overdressed nastiness that just makes me recoil. But today there was cabbage in the CSA I’m babysitting and — in what I must assume was a third trimester craving — I immediately visualized and mentally tasted a fabulous light summer coleslaw. And, given that it’s still a million degrees here and there
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  • 6 The Clan Gathers

    This weekend, Josh and Miss Mouse and I made a pilgrimage to the land of my roots. (Josh points out that I’ve never actually lived in Iowa, but I dismiss this as irrelevant). The reason for using my only vacation of the year to schlep to the middle of a cornfield was simple: my People were gathering. That’s right, all of my extended family on my mother’s side came together to celebrate a momentous occasion: my grandfather’s 90th birthday. Can I just pause here for a moment to say how absolutely amazing my grandfather is? I won’t even regale you
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  • 6 Heat Wave

    Immediately forthcoming will be a series of blogs about our 4th of July trip to Iowa. But first, I need to pause for a moment to whine piteously about the fact that today — the hottest day of the year — the air conditioner at work was broken. It was 93 degrees in my office. That’s an actual temperature reading from our office thermostat, too, not one of those “exaggerated because it’s funnier that way” statements. Oh no. The actual temperature when I arrived this morning at 7am was 89 degrees and it got worse from there. Have I mentioned
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  • 1 An Invention Request

    Let’s be honest. We live in the era of too much baby stuff. There are more gizmos, gadgets, and “must-have” baby gear items on the market than anyone could possibly need. And yet, and yet. I find myself on the hunt for that which does not appear to exist. If I were the inventing type, I’d create this item myself and make a bundle. Since I’m not, I’m going to hope that a bright and noble inventor reads this post, creates the item, and generously sends me 1 million dollars for the good idea. Travel Cracker Containers Yes, that’s my
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June 2010

  • 30 United Front

    Whew. This afternoon was “one of those days” in one’s life as a parent that makes you question the wisdom of having multiple children. Miss Mouse has been a bit off the last couple days — I suspect it’s the combined impact of a cold and a late night on Monday — and grouchy doesn’t begin to describe her. She spent most of the afternoon in absolute hysterics, screaming and crying at the top of her lungs. As luck would (not) have it, for whatever reason, I also felt like Josh and I weren’t firing on all cylinders as team
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  • 29 The Games We Play

    Miss Mouse has continued her enthusiasm for the “pretend we’re sleeping” game and currently enjoys it most when I lie on the couch, feigning sleep, while she covers me up with fabric scraps. As the game has evolved, Miss Mouse has gotten to be increasingly fierce about enforcing its baby-created rules. The number one commandment is: “Thou Must Actually Pretend to Be Asleep” — which means that eye opening is strictly prohibited. Should she catch me peeking, my wee tyrant issues a very stern “Mama SLEEP” and glares ferociously. Unfortunately, this behavior tends to give me the giggles. Yesterday afternoon,
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  • 27 Who’s Bored Here?

    I’m learning that it’s extremely difficult to bore a toddler. They just find everything so interesting. The same is not true for their adult care-givers, and I’ve noticed that – as a group – we tend to project our own boredom onto the wee creature we’re playing with. And so, several times when my folks were out last, my mother expressed concern that Miss Mouse was bored at their condo, or needed more toys for her bath, etc. And I often feel the same impulse — to get her more things to play with to augment our collection of toys.
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  • 26 Summer Baby Grunge

    You know you’ve spent a good summer day with your toddler when, by 7:00 PM, she is completely exhausted and covered head to toe in a patina of Summer Baby Grunge. Just what is SBG? It varies from day to day, depending on your activities and the proclivities of your offspring, but it’s basically all the grime that accumulates when you spend a hot day in active play. Today, Miss Mouse was sporting a coating of SBG that included: Sunscreen Sweat Chlorine from the community pool Dirt from the playground Cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and assorted other fruit smears from
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  • 25 The Land of Make Believe

    This afternoon, I watched Miss Mouse embark into the land of make believe for the first time. It was pretty cute. I had read that this was about the time that toddlers start using their imaginations and playing pretend and, sure enough! For about 20 minutes this afternoon, all Miss Mouse wanted to do was pretend to be asleep. She was race around the room, then charge up to me and announce “I sleep!” Then she’d lie down on the floor and close her eyes. My job was to say — “Shhhhh! Mouse is sleeping!” — loudly whenever she did
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  • 24 Into the Diaper Swapping Fray

    I have made my first foray into the convoluted jungle that is the online diaper swapping forum. This strange world is populated by creatures with names like “mommy2three” and “cushietooshielove” who speak their own language, consisting mostly of capitalized letter permutations. FSOT. ISO. FFS. DD. It’s a bit overwhelming, but in the interest of taking a frugal approach to rounding up diapers for Porthos, I’m giving it a go. One of the big perks of cloth diapers is supposed to be their great resale value. The idea is that you can sell (or trade) your used diapers once you don’t
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  • 23 Ceasefire

    We’ve had a sudden ceasefire in the ongoing diaper changing battle. Could the war be over? As recently as a couple weeks ago, Miss Mouse approached diaper changes with a horror most people reserve for root canals and bikini waxes. Any suggestion that we remove the wet sopping cloth from her bottom was met with protest, struggles, and frequently tears. On more than one occasion, I found myself pinning her to the changing pad with one arm, while trying to get a diaper on her one-handed. It wasn’t pretty. And then — WHAM! — one day, it stopped. These days,
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  • 21 Pick Your Battles

    One thing that I’m learning quickly as the mother of a toddler is that it’s important to pick your battles very carefully. Every time you lay down the law, your toddler is going to test you to find out if you mean it. It’s important to ask yourself before any law-laying whether you’re willing to go the distance to enforce whatever it is you say. Because this is what awaits you, ready to do battle at the slightest provocation… An example. As I get ready in the morning, Miss Mouse often asks for crackers. My instinct is frequently to say
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  • 20 More Kids?

    Being a Dad is a wonderful blessing, and I would not trade it for anything. But as I prepare for Porthos to enter our lives I find myself asking will we have anymore children after this? As of this weekend I am going to have to say, No. Why? Because Baby Furniture is a pain. I spent the afternoon Friday putting together Porthos’ crib, which has a changing table/hamper/dresser-ish thing attached to it. Needless to say it was a high blood-pressure couple of hours. I lost a bolt, only to find out after I was done that I used it
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  • 19 Tough Love and Vacuum Cleaners

    As a parent, one of the ongoing balancing acts that you are faced with is the issue of how to handle your child’s fears. On the one hand, you want to be loving and supportive and to show your child you take seriously that which frightens her, even if it doesn’t frighten you. On the other hand, you don’t want to inadvertently feed those fears — particularly if they are irrational — and raise a quaking fearful weenie. Now, some fears are pretty common and understandable, and I’d be willing to be quite supportive of Miss Mouse if she was
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  • 17 Papu and Nana

    My parents are just wrapping up a two week visit and it’s been great. This was their first real stay in their new condo and they’ve enjoyed settling in, putting up pictures, and generally making it their own… …at least when they could be separated from Miss Mouse. Which wasn’t all that often. And it isn’t just that my parents love her — though they do, extravagantly. Miss Mouse is absolutely wild about her grandparents. During this trip, she settled on names for both of them. My dad is Papu and my mom is Nana. They’re all she talks about.
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  • 16 A Mishap

    I was so jazzed by Miss Mouse’s enthusiasm for her new potty last night that I figured she’d probably like to sit on it at a time when she might actually have to pee. Like, first thing in the morning. And, in my defense, I was only half wrong. Miss Mouse did have to pee this morning. She just didn’t want to go near the potty… …and chose instead to stand in a corner of the bathroom and pee on the floor. Oops. I’m not sure exactly what went wrong. When she woke up, I sprightly inquired if she might
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  • 15 Potty Love

    Picture this: it’s 7:15pm, already 15 minutes past your daughter’s bedtime. You’re trying in vain to coax her into her bath, but she’s having none of it. Every time you pick her up and head for the bathtub, you are met with violent thrashing and a repeating wail of — “Noooo! Potty! Potty!” We just introduced Miss Mouse to the potty tonight and I think it’s safe to say that she’s a big fan. Granted, she hasn’t actually gone to the bathroom while seated on the little plastic potty chair, but she is extremely excited to be able to sit
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  • 14 Budgeting the Beverages

    We’ve been making a concerted effort to get serious about budgeting at home, with the goal of paying off one of our cars this summer. And, for the most, I think it’s going well. One area that is a constant struggle for me, though, is grocery shopping. It’s a good week if I can keep the grocery bill under $100 for the three of us. Which seems excessive when I stand back and look at it. I always feel like I should be able to spend less… …but then I start breaking it down. Take beverages for example. We spend
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  • 12 The Heat Is On

    Today, my parents and I went to see Miss Saigon. Miss Saigon was one of the very first musical performances that I saw live on stage when I was in high school and I was absolutely captivated. I came back mesmerized, bought the CD, and proceeded to listen to it day and night. All I wanted for Christmas that year was to go again — and my parents lovingly obliged. That was ten years ago, and the show is as amazing as ever. If you come out of a production of Miss Saigon dry eyed, you have no soul. I’m
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  • 11 Lines in the Sand

    Miss Mouse has a new favorite game. It’s called: “Let’s see how much I can push the limits of my behavior at dinnertime.” It’s a super fun game. There are several different iterations that she presents. 1) “Am I Done?” In this guessing game, Miss Mouse proclaims that she is done with her meal, allows her hands to be cleaned, then seems shocked when we take her food away and demands more. Sometimes, she gets all the way out of her chair and onto the floor, before deciding that she actually is still starving and starts clawing at other diners
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  • 9 The Name Game

    As I’ve mentioned, we are jealously guarding the chosen name of our son. But we’ve decided to use that secrecy for the greater good by hosting a fundraiser contest at Josh’s church. That’s right, it’s time to play: “And He Shall Be Called.” Guess the name of that baby! Over the next three months, we’re releasing a few clues to the parishioners who are being asked to guess the name. The “price” of each guess is a $5 donation to the church’s renovation fund. Church members put down their name, their guess, and the date and put the slips in
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  • 8 The Interloper

    Miss Mouse had a play date on Sunday with a friend from school. Well, I have no idea if she and G. are actually friends. Mostly I wanted to have a play date with his mom. I actually “met” her on an online mom forum and it was a moment of “it’s a small world” when we realized our kiddos were in daycare together. In any case, the little dude and his mom came over for about an hour on Sunday afternoon. And I was shocked to watch my sweet, sociable girl spend the entire time running from one side
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  • 7 Surfer Girl

    Miss Mouse has aspirations of being a surfer. That we live in a decidedly non-beachy state concerns her not at all. Until such time as we move to California where she can catch some serious waves, Miss Mouse will practice her moves on the next best thing — Daddy’s tummy. http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 6 Mango Madness

    Well, I did it. I bought the case of mangoes. There were 18 in there. Add in the three I’d bought individually, and I had 21 mangoes to munch my way through — in short order, too, as they were all perfectly ripe when I bought them! Fortunately, I’m up to the task. This weekend’s meals have included: French Toast with Mango and Blueberry Topping Mango Chicken Salad in a Cheesy Pie Shell Mango Red Pepper Salsa with Chips (Said salsa will also appear on Tuesday as a topping for pork chops) Mango Rice Pudding And, of course, we just
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  • 6 Sex and the City 2 — A Mom’s Perspective

    I went to see Sex and the City 2 last night with two of my girlfriends. We three had been to see the first movie and decided to reunite for round two, despite the near-universal feedback we’d heard that the movie was awful. Technically, there were five of us there, if you count Porthos and my friend Mandi’s soon-to-be little one. So we made a good festive crowd. Bottom line? Wow. Bad movie. Insane and thin plot line, questionable acting, general ridiculousness. But there’s something fun about watching characters you’ve grown attached to, even if they’re being ridiculous. And then
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  • 4 Next Stop: NA

    If, somewhere down the road, my child (God forbid) turns out to be a drug addict, I will look back at these early days of her life and say to myself — “yup, we saw the signs.” Miss Mouse loves medicine. I mean, she looooves medicine. Tylenol. Amoxicillin. Augmentin. Omnicef. You name it, she’s taken it — gleefully. Right now, she’s doing a course of Augmentin for a sinus infection. She takes it twice a day and I announce to her — “Time for medicine!” At which point she bounces up and down enthusiastically, smiles broadly, and echoes back “Med-cin!
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  • 2 Porthos Update

    It’s funny for me to think about the fact that when I was pregnant with Miss Mouse, I blogged almost exclusively about being pregnant. This time around, I realized that I’ve devoted very little blog space to the wee guy inside. It’s just one of those things about your second child, I guess! But here’s a little update on how our buddy Porthos is doing and how I’m doing and how we’re doing together. I’ll hit the 25 week mark tomorrow and Sir Porthos is about the size of a rutabaga. He seems happy in there and continues to bounce
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  • 2 Champagne Mangoes

    Oh joy. Oh bliss. It is champagne mango season. Apparently. Whole Foods has them by the thousands and is selling them for the ridiculously low price of $10 a crate. Somehow, I had forgotten how amazing they are and limited myself to three individual pieces of fruit today. Tomorrow I shall be returning to buy an entire crate, which I plan to live off for the next few days. I’m not sure what it is about the wee yellow champagne mangoes that makes them so heavenly. They’re considerably smaller than their orange and green brethren and perfectly sweet. And perhaps
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  • 1 Games of Chance

    The local cloth diaper store (YAY Happy Baby Company) has a great presence on Facebook and has started doing regular discussion forums from which they randomly select a commenter to win a prize — a diaper or a gift certificate, something like that. I have duly been sharing my two cents about diaper rash, unsolicited baby advice, and diaper tips over the last few weeks. I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts and comments, but the process is also driving me a wee bit nuts. The heart of the problem is my competitive spirit. When I enter a contest of any
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May 2010

  • 31 God and Country

    I confess that I’m one of those people for whom Memorial Day is mostly about cookouts and a long weekend. I’m never quite sure what to do with the holiday, largely because my personal life experience has been pretty much military-free. While I value, respect, and admire the men and women who have served our country over the years, I’ve never had a close relationship with anyone who has served in the military. My family doesn’t have much military history. My grandfather, being a Mennonite, was a Conscientious Objector during WWII and while his service was great and he has
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  • 30 Bias and Bargains

    Now, I admit that I may be biased. But could there possibly be anything cuter than this? I’m getting better at that whole pigtail thing, and the outfit helps, too. Slowly but surely I’ve acquired most of the spring line from the Children’s Place. Every time I go by, I’m drawn by its siren song — adorable clothes at great prices (at least when they’re on sale). Like this little number: Pants and top for $7. I dare you to resist. Even thrift stores struggle to beat those prices. What I love about clothes at the Children’s Place is that
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  • 29 Snippets

    I was at work yesterday, when I got a phone call from my husband. His opening words were: “Honey, I know you’re at work but could you please take five minutes to explain to my brother why we’re not going to circumcise our son. He’s driving me crazy.” Um, okay then. Apparently, the topic had come up (no pun intended) among Josh’s family and they were all a bit taken aback by the idea. My brother-in-law’s concerns included: 1) He’ll look funny. 2) It’ll get infected and nasty. 3) He’ll be more likely to play with himself, given that there’ll
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  • 28 Home Alone

    Josh is out of town for a couple days visiting his family in West Virginia. He took the dog, leaving Miss Mouse and Mom to fend for themselves for a few days. As is always the case on occasions such as these, I find myself pondering the Herculean effort it must take to be a single parent. How do they do it?? My husband will be away for just over 48 hours and I seriously considered calling in backup in the form of my best friend or some family member. It is tough to be the only one on duty
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  • 27 Vocab ala Mouse

    Miss Mouse is talking more and more these days. I swear every day she comes up with a slew of new words. She can (and will) repeat most things that you say to her and she’s really claiming quite a few words as her own. She’s particularly enjoying colors right now and happily chirps “purpe” and “wehwoe” and “bue” periodically. For the most part, Mouse words are identifiable. “Purpe” isn’t dead on, but it’s definitely an attempt at “purple.” Pretty clear, right? But then, there are a few words that are all her own. A couple examples: “Bah-dee” — Breakfast
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  • 26 Dining Habits

    It’s not so much that what Miss Mouse eats is unhealthy. It’s just that it’s nontraditional. Josh and I are largely “meat and potatoes” people. Mouse isn’t. Take last night’s dinner. Josh and I had a lovely rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli. Miss Mouse had craisins, a big helping of green grapes, and some Ritz crackers. I offered her our dinner — I mean, what’s not to love? I carefully made her a plate with a few morsels of chicken and some broccoli spears. She screamed like I was trying to feed her rat poison. So I gave her
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  • 24 Feeling LOST

    On the whole, Josh and I don’t watch much commercial television. In fact, we watch virtually no live TV, apart from sports. I can’t tell you who is on Dancing with the Stars, have no opinion on the end of 24, and frequently don’t even recognize the names of shoes that people bandy about at work. The exception, lo these many years, has been LOST. Ah, LOST. It all started when I was living in India. Somehow, the first season of LOST was one of the few television shows that made its way across the ocean. Though the season was
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  • 23 To the Heart via the Tummy

    They say that the fastest route to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It turns out this is equally, if not more, true of toddlers. Miss Mouse has been displaying a puzzling amount of stranger anxiety lately — and she frequently chooses odd people to deem “strangers.” Like Aunt Meg and Aunt Melissa, for example. In the last few days, she’s pretended not to know either of them. Why? Who knows. She’s fickle. In any case, Melissa was staying with us this weekend and was going to watch Miss Mouse for a few hours yesterday. I was a bit
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  • 21 Family Unity

    Over the Fourth of July weekend, we’ll be traveling to Iowa (assuming I’m still cleared to fly at that point – fingers crossed!). My beloved grandpa is turning 90 this year and the Whole Family is gathering for a big celebration of that momentous event. The Whole Family gets pretty large these days — somewhere in the upper 20s, I believe — and we haven’t all been in the same place at the same time in quite a while. It should be fun. However, I just broke the following news to my poor husband: my aunt is making matching t-shirts
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  • 19 Gender Roles

    It’s very interesting to me to hear people’s reactions when I tell them we’re having a boy this time. Despite a widespread stated belief in the equality of the sexes that abounds in our culture today, many people’s first response is something along the lines of: “Oh! Your husband must be so excited. He’ll have someone to play ball/go fishing/go hunting/do some other manly activity with!” Gender roles do persist, it seems. And while I am certain that Porthos and Josh will indeed spend time together bonding over pitchers and bass lures, I’m equally certain that my husband will do
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  • 17 Monday Morning Meltdown

    My daughter loves daycare. My daughter loves daycare. My daughter loves daycare. I am repeating this mantra (which I know to be true — I really do to myself today in an attempt to clear from my brain the horrendous mental image of this morning’s drop-off that is currently etched into my emotional core. There was a lot of crying. Except that “crying” doesn’t really do justice to the torrent of emotion displayed by Miss Mouse when I tried to leave her in her classroom today. Hysterical screaming is a much better description. She’d been whimpering and clinging as I
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  • 15 Out of the Crib and into the…?

    We knew it was coming. Miss Mouse had been sticking one leg up over the top of her crib for several weeks now when she wanted out. But she hadn’t managed to leverage herself up and over… …until last night. Last night when, in an act of utter baby desperation brought on by the prospect of bedtime abandonment as her mother left the room, my wee creature fell — nay, leaped — out of bed and onto the floor with a resounding thud. Yikes. Hugs, kisses, and further rocking ensued and I believe we all escaped the episode unscathed. But,
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  • 12 Fifty Three Chances to Practice Patience

    Fifty three minutes. FIFTY THREE MINUTES. That’s seven minutes shy of an hour. That’s also how long it took us to get out of the parking garage the other night after attending a baseball game. Fifty three hair-pulling, blood pressure elevating, “find the happy place” minutes — at 11 o’clock at night. It wasn’t the best hour of my life. As I may have mentioned, I don’t wait patiently. It’s just not what I do. But seriously, would you have done any better? We don’t even park that close to the ballpark! We park in a lot across the river
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  • 11 Elimination Communication

    Well, we’ve started taking the first wee baby steps on that winding road to potty training. Nothing particularly dramatic — no singing potty chairs just yet, thanks — but we’ve started to at least think about the possibility of introducing Miss Mouse to the toilet at some point. Sort of. How’s that for decisive? Basically, we talk about bodily functions more these days. If I’m going to use the bathroom, I announce it to Miss Mouse and she frequently comes along to peer inquisitively at the process. I’ve suggested Josh do the same, but he flatly refuses. Strangely, he prefers
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  • 11 You know when…

    You know you don’t feel well when… #72 — You notice that the only thing your child is eating for dinner is yogurt and green grapes, but cannot bring yourself to be concerned. Yes, I admit it. My child’s nutritional well being took a backseat to my own misery last night as I wrestled with what can only have been food poisoning or an assassination attempt. I doubt I have any enemies that ferocious and I did have a catered lunch meeting so I’m leaning toward the former. It was one of those illnesses that you can feel rising like
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  • 9 Mother’s Day

    Happy Mother’s Day! I spent a lovely day with my family today. Miss Mouse was so excited to celebrate Mother’s Day that she decided to get up at 5:15am so we could spend more time together. Happily, she atoned for this over-enthusiasm by taking a nice two-hour nap this afternoon, allowing me to do the same! Her other gift was a Milky Way candy bar, presented to me with great solemnity. What can I say? She knows what I like. My house was adorned with flowers — a beautiful arrangement arrived yesterday from my parents and I awoke from my
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  • 9 Oh No!!

    Jelly Bean’s other favorite word, or phrase, rather, is ‘Oh No!’ This is a recent addition to her vocabulary, and it has been a rather interesting development. A couple of months ago Jelly Bean started to say ‘Uh Oh’ and uses that whenever something ‘bad’ happens, i.e. when something falls off her dresser. However, she says ‘Oh No’ when she intentionally does something ‘bad,’ i.e., when she throws her milk cup on the floor. Apparently, 19-month olds appreciate sarcasm. However, she also uses Oh No the same way in which she uses Uh Oh: when something bad happens. This afternoon
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  • 8 OUCH!

    Miss Mouse’s current favorite word is “ouch.” She pronounces it very deliberately — “owww-ccch” — and very frequently. Most of the time, she applies it at least somewhat correctly. Last night, for example, throughout dinner she repeatedly held out her bitten forearm and solemnly proclaimed “ouch.” Fair enough. That did look pretty nasty. Then again, she also says “ouch” when you put on her shoes, comb her hair, wash her face, put her jacket on, strap her into the car seat, or pick her up when she doesn’t want to be. So either she’s the world’s most fragile creature or
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  • 7 Vampires in the Classroom

    I tell you, my daughter’s Day Care class is inhabited by rampaging wolves. Or vampires. Or some other sort of vicious creature that enjoys gnawing on helpless toddlers. This is the third time in a month that I’ve arrived to pick up Miss Mouse only to learn that one of her “little friends” sought to triumph in a disagreement by taking a chunk out of one of her appendages! And when those kids bite, they mean it. Check this out, taken about four hours after the incident. OUCH! I did ask the teacher today if there was one particularly ferocious
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  • 6 Night Owls and Early Birds

    My husband isn’t a morning person. I am. It’s just one of those marital differences you learn to embrace (or at least deal with). We generally keep wildly divergent schedules. On an average night, I’m in bed by 9pm and get up at 5am. He generally stays up ’til at least midnight and doesn’t roll out until 7:30 or 8 the next morning. If forced to arise before about 7am, the man is…well…surly. There’s no better way to phrase it. I learned after a year or so not to expect conversation until he’s had a shower. Initially, I thought Miss
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  • 5 Where’s My Horse?

    That’s it. Cars are overrated. I wish to return to the days of traveling everywhere on horseback. A few weeks ago, my “Service Engine Soon” light came on and I just got around to having the car looked at earlier this week. It wasn’t a huge deal — something about coils and plugs and a sensor. It wasn’t a cheap fix, but periodic repairs come with the territory of car ownership. Fine. I got the car back yesterday evening. And then, today, on my commute home, my vehicle sort of imploded. It started with the air conditioner not working right.
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  • 4 A Good Deal

    I often feel very abused because it costs so darned much to have a child in day care. We pay just over $200 a week for Miss Mouse to go to “school.” Let me tell you, it adds up in a hurry. But then, I actually started to think about it. Thanks to the joys of city commuting, Miss Mouse usually spends just shy of 10 hours a day in day care. I drop her off shortly after 6am and pick her up around 4pm. She does this five days a week. That works out to 50 hours of day
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  • 3 15 Minutes of Fame

    Check it out! There was a reporter from a local paper at the last Tyke Hike I attended, and I’m quoted in her article. Sadly, the Mouse and I didn’t make any of the photos. Here’s the funny thing. I am quoted as saying: “I tend to like the idea of outdoor activity.” Which I did say. But the context is everything. Here’s a replay of the actual conversation: Reporter Lady: “So, are you really outdoorsy?” Kate: “Um, no. Not so much. I tend to like the idea of outdoor activity much more than its practical application.” I think I
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  • 2 Fans

    Last night we watched the Red Sox take on the Orioles — my Christmas gift to my Sox-loving hubby. Sadly, the Red Sox pitcher did what he does best: pitch well through four innings, then implode in the fifth, giving up six runs and paving the way for their tragic 12-9 loss. Sigh. The game itself was great, though. I love watching live baseball. The whole ballpark experience is fun and yes, I even have a soft spot for the wave. I will say that I didn’t entirely love the Orioles fans. They were, hmmmm. How shall we say? Jerks.
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  • 2 Extortion

    To the Baltimore Parking Authority: Charging $20 for special event parking in a garage that isn’t even that close to the ballpark is extortion. You should be ashamed of yourself. ~Kate

April 2010

  • 30 From DC with Blisters

    Josh and I are currently enjoying a little Babymoon. We headed to Baltimore for a long weekend of sightseeing and baseball watching. The real point of the trip is to see the Boston Red Sox play at Camden Yards tomorrow and Sunday but as long as we were in the Eastern region, we caught a train down to Washington DC today to soak in a bit of tourist-clad culture. We arrived in DC at about 10:45 and proceeded to walk for the next six hours. Between looking at maps and the input of my city-dwelling aunt, we estimate that we
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  • 28 Out of My House!

    The timing of my parent’s condo purchase has been quite fortuitous. We’re ready to embark on the adventure of turning our guest bedroom into a second nursery, and so we were able to simply offload most of the contents of the room directly to my parent’s place. This simple act of furniture removal — a bed and a bookshelf were the heart of the room — has sparked some sort of decluttering frenzy in my soul and I have been cheerfully divesting myself of as much stuff as possible over the last couple days. We sent a spare dining table
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  • 27 New Neighbors

    My parents closed on a condo yesterday and started moving into their new digs. They bought a place about three miles from our house. It’ll be a second home — they aren’t planning to abandon the house I grew up in and all their fabulous friends back home in the Midwest — but will let them spend more time here with us and the kiddos. When I tell people my parents bought a place in the City, their first response is often: “Oooooh. And how do you feel about that?” Which always strikes me as odd. Number one, if I
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  • 25 Compromise

    I firmly believe that parenthood was the experience for which the phrase “pick your battles” was created. This is particularly true when you are parenting a toddler. Case in point: the bedtime sippy cup. Miss Mouse is largely pretty docile when it comes to bedtime. Very early on, we established a regular bedtime routine and — creature of habit that she is — it mostly assures a smooth transition to bedtime. We start with a bath, then do pajamas, then read two stories (the same two stories each night) and then rock for a couple minutes before putting her to
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  • 23 Timeless Fashion

    Some looks are truly timeless. Kate ~ Circa 1984 Miss Mouse ~ March, 2010

  • 23 An Unexpected Gift

    I received an unexpected gift today. This morning at work, I was approached by one of my coworkers — a lovely godly woman of whom I am fond — who informed me that God had told her she should pray for my son. Not in a “there’s something wrong” kind of way, just in a “blessing and love” kind of way. I was a bit taken aback because my own relationship with God doesn’t usually involve such concrete discussions, but there’s no way I’m turning down a present like that! My coworker had me sit down, then knelt before me,
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  • 22 She Speaks!

    I’m pretty sure I heard Miss Mouse’s first full sentence today. Well, technically I suppose her first sentence was “Bye bye, Daddy.” It was definitely her first instance of sticking two words together to express thought. But today she took it one step further. This morning, as I brought her downstairs for breakfast, she caught sight of a favorite toy and started thrashing in my arms trying to get to it. I said to her: “Honey, let’s wait on the toy. Don’t you want breakfast?” And she said — “No! I want that.” Okay, it didn’t come out quite as
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  • 22 Television — Compliments of the Devil

    Before I got sidetracked by all things Waldorfian, I was going to report back on the actual substance of the lecture I went to on Monday night. In a nutshell, it is this: television was created by the devil to destroy our children and all that we hold dear. Okay, I may be exaggerating just a wee bit there, but it was an alarming presentation nonetheless. Did you know that: 1) 66% of all US households have 3 or more televisions? 2) In an average home, the TV is on for 8 hours and 14 minutes of every day? 3)
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  • 20 Wafer Thin Ice

    I have a problem. That is the first step admitting you have a problem. My problem is that I grew up on movies. I am the second of five children, which is a blessing I cannot describe. However, the down side to that is that we never went out much when we were children. Instead, we watched movies at home as a family. Consequently, for anything, and I mean anything, Kate says I have some movie quote I can throw at her. Most are from some of my favorite movies: Meatballs, Indiana Jones, Undercover Blues, most Jim Carrey movies, etc.
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  • 20 Waldorf

    Yesterday, I attended a lecture at the Pittsburgh Waldorf School on the topic of The Media and Your Child. It was a fascinating — and horrifying — presentation. I’ll get into the meat of the discussion in another post. At the moment, I want to wax admiring about the World of Waldorf. Waldorf is an educational philosophy that emphasizes imagination, interdisciplinary studies, and the development of both creative and critical thinking skills. There’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of childhood and the necessity of letting children play and dream and imagine and explore the natural world when they
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  • 20 Names

    Several people have asked why we even need an in utero name since we know that Porthos is a boy. Why not just name him and go by that? Excellent question. Here’s the deal. We have a few names in mind for Porthos once he arrives. In fact, there’s a strong front runner that we’re pretty set on. But we’re choosing not to share that name with the world — much to the frustration of friends and family alike. Here’s why: for some reason, when you tell people what name you’re considering for your offspring, they seem to take this
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  • 19 Porthos

    Josh has lofty literary tastes. He reads largely nonfiction and The Classics and one of his favorite books is The Three Musketeers. I tend to slum it a bit more when it comes to my choice of reading materials so I’ll confess that my only knowledge of the story comes from the Disney version that came out in the early 90s. My deep and abiding love for that movie shall never die. I used to make my parents rent it and then I’d watch it three or four times in a row before allowing them to return it. Luck for
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  • 18 Porthos the Pirate

    Kate and I have name picked out for our son. However, we are not sharing the name ahead of time as we do not really want any input one way or another. No offense to anyone who may be reading this, but we made the boy, we get to name him. Now that we know our child is a boy, though, we have to call him something. We decided on Porthos. This stems from two things. One, the wild and crazy nature of the boy during the sonogram. He just would not hold still. Two, our desire to keep with
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  • 18 Into the Woods

    Let it be said that “cloudy and damp with temperatures that don’t get above 45” is *not* the ideal conditions under which to go hiking with your toddler. But let it never be said that Miss Mouse and I are wimps, for we were undeterred by the uncooperative weather on Saturday when we set forth for our first Tyke Hike of the season. Tyke Hikes is a great program run by a local outdoorsy nonprofit that focuses on providing family-friendly opportunities to get out and enjoy nature. The hikes are geared at little people and many of the routes are
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  • 17 In Search of a Virtue

    Patience is a virtue. I get that. I do. I appreciate the value of patience. I just don’t happen to possess very much of it — when God was handing out virtues at my birth, I think He skimped a bit on that one. I love jigsaw puzzles and will spend hours patiently bringing to life the design hidden in those countless pieces. But that’s voluntary patience. Involuntary patience, on the other hand — like when you’re stuck in a traffic jam or the slow lane at the grocery store — isn’t my forte. And if, by chance, I’m running
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  • 17 Just Us and the Little Guy

    The only, and I repeat ONLY, bad thing about expecting your second child is that you already have one. What I mean is, Kate and I just haven’t been able to immerse ourselves in the joy of this new baby because all of our energy goes into taking care of Jelly Bean. Have we been happy about the pregnancy? Yes. But overwhelmingly excited? Not quite. I love Jelly Bean with all of my heart, but I have been waiting for the time when excitement would run wild through my heart for having a second child. Yesterday was just such a
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  • 17 Miss Personality

    I think this picture largely speaks for itself.

  • 16 Whales and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails…

    …that’s what little boys are made of! Yup, it’s official. Baby Snyder 2 is of the male persuasion. It was a bit disconcerting to see irrefutable proof of this fact magnified on the ultrasound monitor! Poor dear. Talk about no privacy. I find myself simultaneously thrilled and overwhelmed by the prospect of parenting a son. Little boys have always been very foreign to me. I just don’t get them. My knowledge of little boys is largely confined to a few memorably bad baby-sitting episodes and general observations at playgrounds, restaurants, and stores. Generally, the species appears to me to be
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  • 15 Fashion Conscious

    Let it be known that when it comes to fashion, my girl gets it. This morning, in honor of the fabulous weather predicted for today, I dressed my beautiful wee creature in a two-toned pink striped LL Bean skirt and a white polo with a butterfly embroidered on the chest. Lightly puffed sleeves and a collared neck? Too cute. The ensemble was complete with the addition of her pink plaid tennis shoes and bobby socks. I’d like to say I have a picture, but I don’t. The reason? I made the mistake of showing Miss Mouse herself in the viewing
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  • 15 Bagel Bonanza

    I ate a lot of bagels yesterday. I’d prefer to just leave it at that — nice and vague — but blogging is about honesty and so I am forced to admit that it was three. I ate three bagels yesterday. Okay, fine. Three and a half. Look, it wasn’t intentional. It’s not like I woke up yesterday morning and said to myself — “Today I’m going to carb load on delectable round bread products.” It just sort of happened. A co-worker brought in a big box of Panera bagels to the office. I love Panera bagels. And so, at
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  • 14 A Mystery Solved

    I’ve been puzzling over a mystery the last couple days. My mom made Miss Mouse a fabulous Eric Carle quilt with fabric from the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Mouse loves both the book and the quilt and generally gets very excited when it makes an appearance. She flops on it. Rolls on it. Spins around in circles trying to locate and point to all the animals at once (she’ll make a great Twister player someday). But occasionally, something about the quilt would piss her off. Yesterday afternoon, for example, she trotted over to the couch
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  • 13 Diaper Ducks

    In our house, the words “we need to change your diaper” are taboo. Should you be so foolish as to utter that phrase to my daughter, you will be met with shrieks of protest, vehement head shaking, and an emphatic “no no no no no.” Sometimes accompanied by foot stomping, in case you weren’t certain of her sincerity. However, asking Miss Mouse if she would like to “go visit the diaper ducks” results in a smile and a cheerful baby marching up the stairs to her room. And just what are diaper ducks? Behold. Yup, they’re rubber duckies wearing diapers.
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  • 12 Case In Point #2: The Dog Crate

    Continuing my musings about the ethical ramifications of treating your toddler like a dog, let us turn our attention to one of Miss Mouse’s favorite playthings: a mesh pop-up dog crate. We had previously discovered her fondness for Riley’s dog crate and I have had to extricate her from his crate on numerous occasions. Just yesterday, I was getting dressed in the bedroom when I realized she had disappeared from view. Then I heard shuffling and giggling from inside his crate. Mystery solved. My aunt, learning of and being amused by the Mouse’s fondness for Riley’s crate, brought Miss Mouse
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  • 10 An Ethical Question

    The question of the day is this: Does treating your toddler like a dog somehow constitute improper parental behavior? My answer: not if she likes it. Case In Point #1: The Toddler Leash. My mom recently purchased a toddler harness with leash for Miss Mouse (at my request). It’s basically a backpack with a chest strap (so she can’t get it off) with a nice long leash to hold on to. I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread, but I just know the first time we take her out in public with it, we’re gonna get some Looks
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  • 7 Wee Savage

    My Facebook status today read thus: “Kate…can relate to those wild animals who eat their own young.” Seriously. Welcome to the world of parenting a toddler. There are days when I seriously contemplate stuffing her in a diaper bag and stowing her away in the laundry room for safe keeping for a few years. This morning, for example, she woke up a bit early and super cranky. Fuss, moan, weep. We came downstairs for breakfast and she decided that she could not would not eat her breakfast in her high chair or anywhere that wasn’t my lap. I tried to
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  • 6 Yogurt Wars

    Miss Mouse is quite proud of her budding skills with a spoon. Most days, she refuses to allow me to “help” her with her spoon-based foods (like yogurt or applesauce), preferring to wield the utensil herself. But then there are days when she gets frustrated by how slowly she has to eat when using a spoon, and decides to take matters into her own hands. Literally. ACK! The problem is, she still won’t let me feed her. So I find myself locked in a battle of wills with a steely-eyed toddler. I try to offer her a spoonful of yogurt.
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  • 5 Captain Craigslist Rides Again

    I scored a major find on Craigslist this weekend. Man, I love that site. While I’m not the accomplished pro that some of my friends are, I’ve done pretty well for myself. This weekend’s triumph was a Little Tikes backyard play thing for Miss Mouse. It retails for $400 (plus $100 to ship the darn thing) and my mom and I snagged it for $75. Oh yeah. The picture didn’t quite do justice to how big it was, so getting it home was a bit of a challenge, but it was totally worth it. Before: After: Miss Mouse is in
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  • 4 Easter Baby

    Who needs the Easter Bunny when you have an Easter Baby?? This last one is of Miss Mouse enjoying the spoils of an Easter egg hunt. She didn’t really get what all the fuss was about during the rounding up of the eggs, but did enjoy eating the Teddy Grahams contained within! The most amazing thing about the day was that her fabulous hat actually stayed on her head. It wasn’t until after the service that my husband admitted his disaffection for that hat. He claimed it didn’t go with her outfit at all. But he is very wrong. That
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  • 3 About the Bunny…

    While Miss Mouse and I were at the grocery store recently, some kindly older woman was fawning over her (it happens a lot) and asked — “Is the Easter Bunny going to bring you lots of candy?” Now, the fact that we were in the middle of Giant Eagle and she was a complete stranger meant that I smiled and nodded, but the actual answer is “no, we aren’t actually doing the whole Easter Bunny Thing.” It was a tough decision. I loved the Easter Bunny when I was small. At least I think I did. I clearly remember loving
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  • 2 The Good Friday Funk

    It’s Good Friday today — an ironically named holiday if ever I’ve heard one. And, as always, I’m filled with ambivalence. No wait, that isn’t quite true. I haven’t always been ambivalent about Good Friday. For most of my life, I was largely unaware of it. Growing up, my family went to church on Easter but I can’t remember ever participating in any other Holy Week activities or services. In any case, since going to seminary, I’ve been much more aware of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and the whole Holy Week calendar. And at the end of the day
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  • 2 Merrells

    While we’re on the subject of footwear, (we are still on the subject of footwear, aren’t we?) allow me to introduce you to the newest addition to my collection: They’re my first pair of Merrells and I am in love. In the world of shoes, and particularly sandals, there are brands which command ferocious loyalty. Just watch a Teva lover and a Choco aficionado go at it some time. It’s quite spectacular. Merrells are like that. Once you have one pair, it becomes a bit of an addiction. My mother, for example, has something like seven pairs. And I can
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  • 1 Sandal Woes

    I decided that I wanted to buy Miss Mouse a good pair of sandals this summer. I figure she’ll be spending a lot of time racing about outside and that justifies investing in a pair that didn’t come from Payless. So I headed to Zappos.com (great site, by the way, if you’ve never shopped there — free shipping both ways!) to scope out baby sandals. The results of my search can summarized as follows: Bleah. Ugly. Ugly. Even uglier. Horrific precious princess explosion. More ugly. Cute but $100. Clunky and ugly. And why, oh why, must baby shoes be so
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March 2010

  • 31 Signs of Spring

    Spring is in the air! The trees are budding. The birds are singing. The baby is free to once again run rampant clad only in diaper and t-shirt. Well, to be honest, her apparel this evening had less to do with the weather and more to do with the fact that two diapers in a row had leaked, necessitating two consecutive pants changes and I wasn’t about to risk another pair of pants half an hour before bed time. But she sure looks Springy!

  • 30 Demon Possession Amongst Toddlers — An Alarming Trend

    During the week that my parents were in town lavishing attention on Miss Mouse, she mastered several new skills. And while the great strides she took in using a fork and spoon may be the most useful, the most impressive (by far) is her new temper-tantrum-throwing abilities. What is most awe-inspiring about these displays of pique is the suddenness with which they appear. One minute, she’s happy and playing and sweet. The next, she’s lying on the floor screaming, writhing, kicking and crying. I’m beginning to suspect that demon possession is the only logical explanation. How else to account for
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  • 29 When Daddies Attack

    For the most part Dads are meek and mild. But every once in a while they shed that soft persona and attack their young. It isn’t pretty. Viewer discretion is advised. http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 29 Ascending New Heights

    If I were to find my daughter clamboring around top of the dining room table, I would immediately remove her like the responsible parent I am. I certainly would not pause to take a picture of her to post on the blog.

  • 28 Fear No Dinosaur

    This week, my folks and I took Miss Mouse to the Natural History museum. After seeing how much she liked the zoo, we thought she might get a kick out of the stuffed animals at the museum. And we were sort of right. She liked the stuffed deer — of which there were many — and loved the hall with stuffed birds. She raced up and down several times, squeaking excitedly at the display cases. But she wasn’t quite so sure about any number of the other stuffed critters. We thought she might enjoy meeting the giant grizzly bear, since
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  • 25 Perfection

    Here’s one of those great baby mysteries — how they manage to be exactly the perfect size at every phase of their development. When Miss Mouse was first born, I remember thinking — “My God, she’s tiny. But look at how perfectly she fits in the crook of my arm! What could be better?” And then she got a bit bigger and I thought — “Look at how she holds her head up! What could be better than the way she fits perfectly into her sling and peeks out at the world?” And then it became — “Look at how
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  • 24 Uh Oh

    As Miss Mouse becomes increasingly verbal, many of her “words” remain indecipherable. I really couldn’t tell you what a “ddwep ddwep” is meant to be. But one of her words that comes out clear as a bell is “uh oh.” Miss Mouse loves to say “uh oh” and while sometimes the words are inaccurately applied — I keep telling her it doesn’t count as an “uh oh” when you fling your spoon to the floor during dinner — sometimes she’s right on the money. For example, this morning, my mother was getting her dressed for school and inadvertently stuffed both
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  • 23 Familial Stranger Danger

    Miss Mouse has entered a bit of a “stranger danger” phase – she’s less comfortable interacting with unknown people than she used to be. Unfortunately, “unknown people” can include family members, if they aren’t around all that much. Take Josh’s poor Uncle Ray. He was visiting the other day and made the mistake of coming up the stairs into the house. Yes, this menacing act was too much for my daughter who responded with hysterical shrieks, tears, and a credible attempt at burrowing into her father’s chest. What gives, kid? So it was with some trepidation that I anticipated my
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  • 21 Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh Joy!

    Yesterday was the first official day of spring and Mother Nature decided to pull out all the stops. It was 70 degrees, sunny, and heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Heading to the zoo was the only reasonable response to such splendor. We hadn’t been to the zoo with Miss Mouse since fall and it was fun to see how much more engaged she was this time. While she still had some trouble with far away animals if they didn’t move (I fear she missed the tiger entirely), she was enchanted by zebras and elephants and several others. But what she liked most of
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  • 20 Momma Milestone

    I am thrilled to announce that today, for the very first time, I managed to successfully pig-tail my daughter. I feel like it’s some sort of milestone for me, as a mother. It marks the beginning of a new chapter in my relationship with my daughter — we are entering that complicated and frequently tumultuous world of hair styling. I’m not going to lie. Getting her hair up into whaley sprouts was a fearsome endeavor that took about 20 minutes, multiple attempts, several tears (mostly hers, I fear) and a couple of cracker bribes and the results were still uneven
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  • 19 Advertising Victory

    Ooooh. Snap. I totally succumbed to a nice bit of Whole Foods advertising today. I popped over for lunch, having conveniently forgotten to bring anything from home. My mission: some sort of fresh sandwich. That was all. But there, prominently displayed in the aisle, was an array of yummy dips. Hummus. Guacamole. Salsa. Queso dip. Oh my. And just above the display was this sign: Fridays Only! All Dips Buy One Get One Free! And that was that. I came home with my sandwich plus a thing of guacamole and a thing of queso and a big bag of chips.
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  • 18 Corned Beef Coma

    I ate too much corned beef yesterday. And while I appreciate the value of taking responsibility for one’s actions, I ultimately blame my husband for this over-indulgence. I love corned beef. Josh hates it. Thus I have not cooked it for myself in low these many three and a half years. So when the cook at the Soup Kitchen at work decided to make St. Patty’s day into a special occasion…I went a bit overboard. It started out innocently enough with a small plateful as a “taste” early in the day as we were adorning the walls of the dining
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  • 17 Moving Target

    My mother pointed out to me (pointedly) that I haven’t posted any pictures of Miss Mouse recently. Which is true and unfortunate. The only problem is… …it’s hard to photograph… …a moving target! Ha! Got her. Man, she moves fast.

  • 15 The Mothership

    I have been to the Mothership. Or at least as close to the Mothership as one’s likely to get in Southwestern PA. This weekend was the grand opening of the Pittsburgh Cloth Diaper (aka Happy Baby Company) storefront. Snappis, and Fuzzi Buns, and Bummis, oh my! It’s possible that only other cloth diapering folk will truly appreciate what a wondrous thing a cloth diaper store is. The thing is, they are super rare. I’d say at least 95% of cloth diaper retail is done online. Which is all well and good, but it can be really tough — especially for
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  • 14 Couscous Salad

    I enjoy cooking and like to think that I do a reasonably decent job of. I mostly follow recipes and like to try new things so I don’t really have very many standbys that I consider “my specialities.” One exception to this is my black bean couscous salad. I discovered this wonderful combination of ingredients while in seminary and have made it many times since. It’s the perfect dish to bring to a summer picnic/potluck since it’s vegetarian and I think it actually tastes best a room temperature. Start with a cup of cooked couscous (cook it in 1 1/4
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  • 14 Nom de Utero

    Several people have asked what we’re calling Baby2 in utero. When I was pregnant with Miss Mouse, she was known as Squishy (a reference pulled from the movie, Finding Nemo) and most everyone called her that, well beyond just Josh and myself. I have several pregnant friends now and each has a unique name for their developing offspring. There’s Skeletor and Itchy and I’ve even heard of Cletus (as in Cletus the Fetus — I find that one questionable). But for some reason, this time around I just haven’t really “felt” the right name. We’ve kicked around Squirt. And Josh
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  • 13 Juicey

    Miss Mouse’s newest word and current favorite thing in the world is “juice.” We don’t give her all that much juice on her own, but she’s the world’s biggest juice mooch and you cannot have a glass of OJ in front her without sharing some. I defy you to try. We’ve pretty much accepted that and always have a straw handy when having juice so she can have a few big slurps. Now she’s learned the word for it — one of her first words that involves two different consonants! — and hopefully queries “juice?” each time you hand her
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  • 12 Almost Famous

    I had a terrific near-celebrity moment today. My BFF, Meg, and her friend Corinne recently published a fantastic book called EcoCents. It’s a Green Guide to Pittsburgh and includes tips on green living, information about the Pittsburgh green movement, and tons of coupons to local green businesses. They did a great job and it’s a big hit here in the ‘Burgh, which is awesome. In any case, Meg tapped me to write a couple short pieces for the book — one on my fist brush with a CSA farm share and one on how to be an eco-parent. For the
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  • 10 The Second Time Around

    It’s interesting being pregnant again because it’s so different from being pregnant the first time. At least, I think it is — it is truly shocking how fast amnesia sets in once you are no longer pregnant. In any case, this time around, the morning sickness has been way worse. This fact has been confirmed by my poor husband who is a sympathetic puker. And so, while he would like to provide moral support and pet my hair while I yak, it just isn’t feasible. I actually turn on the fan in the bathroom if I feel the nausea setting
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  • 9 The Walk

    Just when we had all given up hope of ever seeing the sun again and had resigned ourselves to a life of wet gray weather and a general mildewing of the spirit, we’ve gotten a marvelous blast of spring. Bright sun. Warm weather. Bliss. Spurred on by this reprieve, Josh and I embarked on a big walk with dog and baby yesterday afternoon. We popped Miss Mouse into her stroller and set off. About two miles into our three mile jaunt, I thought it would be nice to let Miss Mouse get out and walk for a bit to stretch
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  • 8 Bumping Off Bunnies

    Boy am I glad that modern day pregnancy tests no longer require the sacrifice of a long-eared hoppy creature. I would have been responsible for some major bunny carnage as it took five (yes, five) pregnancy tests before I was convinced that we’re expecting our second child. I always imagined that pregnancy tests were pretty clear cut. Either that second pink line appears or it doesn’t. Such is not the case. Back a couple months ago, we were eagerly awaiting the moment when we could find out if our family was expanding. It was a wee bit early, but other
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  • 7 Sweet Slumber

    It is difficult to express in words how utterly fantastic life is when Miss Mouse sleeps in on the weekends. The one thing I dislike about my job is the fact that I get up at 5:00am each morning during the week. I rouse Miss Mouse at about 5:40 and, after five days in a row of this, she often maintains this rhythm into the weekend. Getting up at 5:30 when you have to go to work is bad enough. Getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday is just wrong. Last weekend, when I was away in Florida, Miss Mouse
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  • 4 Dead Fish

    Oh, lord help me. My child woke up smelling like dead fish this morning. Josh was actually the one to first be greeted by the odor as he was uncharacteristically awake at 5am (en route to a babysitting gig at his aunt’s). He woke up Miss Mouse and then brought her into the bedroom, looking sort of stunned, to inform me that her bedroom smelled bed. Then we sniffed her and realized the source of the stench was actually my dear child herself. Then we spent time deciding how best to describe the smell. Dead fish? Not enough. Three day
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  • 3 For the Love of Peas

    “Miss Mouse, I want you to eat a few more bites of noodles, and then you may have more peas.” I confess that when I pondered what motherhood would be like, I didn’t foresee myself uttering that phrase. And yet, here we are, a year and a half later, and I find myself regularly trying to cajole my offspring into eating something other than fruits and vegetables. Don’t get me wrong. I love that Miss Mouse has a fondness for freggies (fruits and veggies). Her standard breakfast is a banana. Diced red bell pepper is always a popular snack. She
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  • 2 Hot Momma

    This past weekend, I was in Florida for a long-time friend’s wedding. Now you’re enviously picturing me lounging on a beach under an umbrella, aren’t you? Yeah, that’s what I had in mind, too, when I first started planning this getaway. The horrible truth set in about three days before the trip, when I actually looked at the weather forecast: Naples in February ain’t exactly beach weather. I don’t believe it got above 70 while I was there. Pleasant enough, but not quite what I had initially envisioned. By I digress. The weekend was a blast, and involved two nights
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  • 1 APAAPFTFOTMANRFTD — WR!

    That’s shorthand for “A pinch and a punch for the first of the month, and no returns for the day — White Rabbit!” It’s a “thing” my family does on the first of the month.* The idea is, you have to be the first one to say it to everyone else. There aren’t any consequences (no actual pinching and punching), just the visceral sense of accomplishment when you leap out at bleary, unsuspecting family members, gleefully reciting nonsense. You can “get” people over the phone, too, though voice mail is right out and emailing is marginal. Especially if you’re in
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February 2010

  • 27 Small Spaces

    In recent days, Miss Mouse has developed a fondness for confined spaces. It started when she discovered she could go behind the couch, wedging in between the wall and the back of the couch. She’d fling a stuffed animal back there, then go rescue him, giggling from her hiding space. Then we threw a blanket over her little red table, and her first fort was born. She delights in scampering underneath and periodically peeking back out. And, of course, there’s the entertainment center. So I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised that her newest love is Riley’s dog crates. What
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  • 25 In the Moment

    I am a multi-tasker. It’s what I do. I quilt while I watch TV and talk on the phone while I drive (causing my mother great anxiety until my folks bought me a GPS with hands-free). As a mother, I can operate a credit swipe pad at the grocery store while entertaining a toddler in a grocery cart. And I will confess to having read a board book to my child while using the restroom. Yup, I can read aloud and pee at the same time. But. As a mother, I’m trying hard not to multi-task my daughter’s childhood away.
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  • 23 Animal Planet

    In her spare time, when not busy climbing into cupboards, flinging food on the floor, and learning the gestures to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” Miss Mouse occasionally moonlights as a host on Animal Planet. In this video clip, she can be seen documenting the noises made by various members of the animal kingdom. http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 22 The Growth Curve

    Why, oh why did nobody warn me that my child would abruptly stop growing shortly after her first birthday? In her first year of life, Miss Mouse blew through clothing sizes at an alarming rate. It was not unusual for her to only get one or to wears out of an outfit before the legs were too short, the neck too tight, or the fabric stretching from neck to crotch insufficient in length. Several weeks before her first birthday, Miss Mouse was firmly entrenched in size 18 month clothing. Assuming (I think reasonably!) that she would keep growing like a
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  • 20 Inevitable

    It really was just a matter of time before Miss Mouse realized she could climb inside the cupboards of the entertainment center…

  • 19 Habits

    Over the past week, Miss Mouse has had some bad habits to unlearn, following our week of urban camping. Let’s just say that the rules regarding bedtime and sleeping were somewhat relaxed while we were homeless. Miss Mouse enjoyed such luxuries as being rocked to sleep every night and, when she woke up in the night, snuggling up in bed with Mom for the duration of the night. She was living the good life. But then we came home, and the good times were over. We gave her a one day grace period, but then it was time to start
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  • 18 NPR Nerd

    I’m something of a public radio nerd. I listen to Morning Edition on the drive into work and Fresh Air or All Things Considered on the way home. Religiously. I have favorite reporters and know their beats well enough to predict who will be covering a topic if I hear about it (If it’s in France, it’s Eleanor Beardsley. If Italy, Sylvia Poggioli.* China? That sounds like a job for Louisa Lim.) And if I miss the introduction, I can sometimes recognize their voices. But that’s not what makes me a nerd. That’s just a loyal listener. Even the fact
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  • 16 Be My Valentine

    There she is, my Valentine sweetie. Looking particular smoochable with her dashing new haircut, compliments of Salon de Mom. I think did a bang-up job (if you’ll pardon the pun). And the checked dress? Yes, please! If you’ll look closely — or not that closely, really — at the second photo, you’ll see a line above her left eye. That is her battle wound from her first major fall. At church on Sunday, I was striving to photograph my wee Valentine. She was resisting. I set her on the couch. She leaped off… …catching her forehead squarely on the edge
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  • 15 The Fridge

    The one good thing about losing power in the winter is that your food is less likely to go bad. We managed to salvage pretty much everything in our big chest freezer in the garage, which was a blessing. Something went bad in my fridge though, and in somewhat frenetic over-response, I opted to chuck everything and begin again. Once I got all the food out, I realized how nasty the refrigerator was, and gave it a thorough scrubbing (to the amazement of my husband, who claimed not to know I was aware of the location of cleaning products). As
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  • 14 Home at Last

    Yowza. What a week. We’re home (at last) but our Internet is squirrely so the updates may be spotty for a couple days. The short version is thus. We lost power at midnight last Friday night. We got it back Thursday afternoon. At which point we discovered a broken water pipe. The plumber fixed it Friday morning and we were back in our own house Friday night. Whew. I am not going to lie. It was a tough week. And it got me thinking about homelessness. The agency I work for has a variety of homeless programs, but when most
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  • 10 The Daring Escape

    Irony (n): A power failure at the swanky hotel to which you and your family fled in an attempt to escape the interminable lack of electricity at your own home. Happily, one of many differences between the Embassy Suites and Our House is that the former has an excellent backup power grid so we were only in the dark for about ten minutes as opposed to the…let’s see…116 hours that we’re going on at home. But let me back up. Yesterday afternoon, after three days of staying with our neighbors, we needed to get out. They’re lovely people who will
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  • 9 An Update

    A stream of consciousness ramble from Yours Truly. It’s 8:52 am. I’m at work — it took me an hour and a half (usually takes 35 minutes). The roads suck and people are dumb. Sigh. Speaking of dumb people, I just got off the phone with the electric company who says they “hope” to have our power back tomorrow. Seriously?? TOMORROW??? As in, five days after it went off? Oh, and we’re supposed to get up to another foot of snow today and tomorrow. So the odds of the power truck coming are… Anybody? Anybody? Miss Mouse has an ear
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  • 7 My Weekend

    A few numbers that are illustrative of my weekend thus far. 24 — inches of snow we got Friday night. 45 (and counting) — hours our home has been without power. 34 — temperature in our living room at last check (no, we’re not staying there. We’re at the neighbors’). 27 — hours after the snow had completely stopped that it took the snow plow to get to our street.

  • 5 Mostly Non-Violent Protest

    Miss Mouse has decided to take up a political cause. She is currently protesting the continued use of that most-inhumane of devices: the high chair. Her cruel parents insist on attempting to restrain her in this abomination several times a day, but our heroine is fighting the good fight. Geez. I don’t really know how it started. I suspect the Mouse’s fixation on routine has something to do with it. There were a couple times where she fussed at being strapped in so I’d let her eat breakfast on my lap. Big Mistake. For the last couple days, she has
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  • 4 Listening Comprehension

    Miss Mouse is a babe of few words. (She has three, to be precise). But I am constantly amazed, and occasionally wigged out, by how much she understands. Mention the word “snack” in her presence, and she beelines for the kitchen. Ask for a stuffed animal by name, and she’ll track down the beast in question and bring it to you. Inform her that it’s bath time, and she charges up the stairs and into the bathroom. Question her as to the location of characters in her books, and she scours the page until she can triumphantly point to the
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  • 3 Morning Routines

    Miss Mouse is nothing if not a creature of habit. She recognizes and adheres to routines with amazing rapidity. Do something the same way twice and be prepared for that to be The New Way which is now set in stone. The mouseling has several important routines at day care in the morning. Upon arrival, we wash her hands. If I forget that this is the first item on the agenda, she helpfully takes up a post by the sink and grunts imperiously at me until I come over to help her up onto the stool. Then, she and her
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  • 2 Free Will

    When Miss Mouse was an infant, she was universally hailed as the sweetest baby ever. I’m not just saying that because I’m her smitten mother. Everywhere we went, people commented on how chill she was and how happy she always seemed to be with her surroundings. No fussing, no crying, just a cheerful smiling baby. But that was then. Now, Miss Mouse is a toddler and is reveling in that greatest of gifts — Free Will. She wants to do things Her Way and lord have mercy upon you if you thwart her intentions. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still
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January 2010

  • 31 Getting Crazy Again

    When I lived in India, one of the skills I picked up (along with how to wrap a sari, how to start a wood-burning stove, and how to ride side-saddle on a motorcycle) was the art of crazy quilting. My mom’s a traditional quilter, but for some reason, our artistic brains are wired differently. I cannot cut, draw, or stitch a straight line to save my life and so I revel in the freedom of crazy quilting. All that randomness makes my mother twitch. A lot. In any case, once I learned, crazy quilting became my new passion and I
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  • 30 An Ode to Onesies

    Babe in a onesie. She goes prancing through the house. Shake that rump, baby! Is there anything that cries “snuggle me!” more than a baby in a onesie? I have no idea what it is about those ubiquitous body suits that is so completely compelling, but I think babies are just irresistible when they’re wearing them. Maybe it’s because they look vulnerable when they’re not fully clothed. Or perhaps it’s the hint of brightly-colored diaper peeking out above wee chubby thighs. I don’t have the answers. I just know that I must stop typing and go kiss that baby.

  • 28 Never the Same

    My parents are in town and a couple days ago, my mother unearthed a box of cheesy peanut butter crackers from the depths of our pantry. You know — the little caloric bombs of bliss with the orange crackers and the freaky disc of rubbery peanut butter. She noticed that the expiration date on the crackers had long since come and gone. As in, they probably should have been chucked about a year ago. (The question of how something with that many preservatives can even go bad is a discussion for another time). To be honest, I had totally lost
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  • 27 Attention Span

    Sometimes, Miss Mouse seems like she has the attention span of a flee. In the course of five minutes, she can take out every one of her toys, play with each one for a nanosecond, and then look around like she’s bored. (It drives me nuts, by the way.) And then, on the other hand, if something really catches her attention, she can devote herself to it entirely for a surprisingly long period of time. Like tonight, when she spent fifteen minutes quietly turning the pages of one of her favorite books (“It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny”). I’d read
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  • 26 What’s a Baby Got to Fear?

    Every now and again, Miss Mouse wakes up in the middle night, shrieking like a banshee. One minute she’s sound asleep, the next she’s sobbing like someone is killing her. I go charging in, ready to confront the axe murderer who is attacking my girl, quickly assertain that no such beast is present, and scoop the babe up out of the crib. We settle in together in the rocker and snuggle for a couple minutes and then I return her to her bed. The only thing I can think of is that when this happens, she’s having a nightmare. Which
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  • 25 Performing for the Grands

    I suspect that Miss Mouse has been “performing” for Grandpa and Grandma over the past few days. How else to explain her recent sleeping habits? Usually, Miss Mouse gets into a routine during the week, as I wake her at about 5:35 to get ready for school. On Saturday, she tends to rise quite early, then Sunday she sleeps in more, and if the days progress without a set wake-time, she sleeps in longer and longer. Not this week. She’s been getting up progressively earlier each day — perhaps excited to play with her adoring grandparents — and this morning
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  • 23 A Fashion Triumph (I Hope)

    My long-time friend Emily and her partner Stephanie are tying the knot in Florida next month and I’m heading down for the wedding (ya hoo!). While I’m thrilled to be there for their special day, the event has been the source of some serious stress for me in recent weeks. Namely, what to wear on such an occasion? The first problem is location and date. What does one wear to a winter wedding in Florida? I’m not sure what the temperature will be like and have no idea if Floridians adhere to that whole “no white after Labor Day” thing.
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  • 20 Good Samaritan or Sucker?

    There’s a homeless guy that panhandles near my work. His name is Bill (a fact I only know because our staff know the guy – he does not volunteer his name in the course of casual conversation and I once seriously freaked him out by greeting him by name. Oops.) and he spends his days walking the streets, asking everyone he sees: “Do you know where a guy can get some work? I’m just trying to get a hot meal.” Bill’s touchy. He had a bad experience at a Shelter once and so won’t stay at ours. I don’t know
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  • 19 Tornado in the Kitchen

    I do most (okay, all) of the cooking at our house and I also do most (but not all) of the kitchen cleanup. This violates the order of the universe that I grew up with, which stated clearly that She Who Cooks Does Not Clean Up. But there are two good reasons for why the division of labor exists as it does at our house. #1 — The kitchen is pretty much the only area that I clean. Josh does the rest. I pick up my things and do my laundry (and Ellie’s), but that’s pretty much it. I can
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  • 18 Spooning

    Miss Mouse had her 15 month well-baby checkup today. She passed with flying colors, including an admirable show of fortitude as she received her FIVE shots. Egad. I think I would have cried more than she did. However, one of the developmental milestones that the doctor asked about was whether Miss Mouse knows how to use a spoon… …to which I had to sheepishly reply that I had no idea. I’ve never let her try! She rarely shows much desire to appropriate the spoon from me when I’m feeding her yogurt or oatmeal, and I was never really in the
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  • 17 Of Muggles and Wands and Guys Named Jim

    I don’t remember exactly when, but somewhere along the line, I became enamored of books on tape. I love to read myself, of course, but there’s something magical about hearing a good story told aloud. In part, I think, it’s because I read so quickly when I’m really into a book that I sometimes read too fast and miss things. Hearing the book forces me to go at the narrator’s pace and can enhance the experience. Josh is less enthusiastic about books on tape for some reason. But the point at which we are in complete agreement is the Harry
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  • 16 A Joyful Noise

    We were down in West Virginia for a quickie visit with the in-laws this weekend. My mother-in-law was very excited about a gift she’d bought for Miss Mouse, but prefaced its presentation with a disclaimer of: “I hope it’s okay that I bought this for her.” Eek. Nothing like a statement like that to make you nervous. Was I going to have to feign delight at some sort of monstrously inappropriate gift? To my very happy surprise, the contents of the box were a set of color-coded kid hand bells. Nancy was concerned about the noise they’d make, but I’ll
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  • 14 A Love Triangle

    I think it’s endlessly cute that Miss Mouse is so fond of her stuffed bunny, PJ. She carries him around the house and snuggles him at night. But I fear that this attachment could lead to problems if she starts wanting to take him out of the house. Even inside, there are dangers. Just the other night, we nearly lost him at bedtime, only to discover him hidden in the potholder drawer in the kitchen. And bedtime without PJ would be a frightening thing. And so I had A Great Idea. I would help Miss Mouse bond with her new
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  • 12 Identity Crisis Among Ducks

    As I watch Miss Mouse discover and name the things in her world, I’ve been puzzling over the nature of object identity. By that I mean: how do we define what something is and how do you teach that to a small person? When speaking to a toddler, what are the defining attributes that make a cow a cow and make it possible to recognize them in their varied forms? The size? The four hooves? Horses have those. The attractive black and white patterning? Not all cows have that. See, it’s tricky. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that we
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  • 11 Judged by the Fashion Police

    I know I’m not a fashion plate, but there’s nothing like having this reality pointed out for you by a complete stranger. There’s an upscale resale store in our area called Avalon Exchange that advertises a good cut and immediate payment when you consign stuff with them. I’ve been in a couple times and it’s pretty trendy, but I found some things I liked, too. During the most recent culling of my closet, I picked out a bag full of my most stylish and least worn things to take to Avalon. When I marched in, the intimidatingly good looking and
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  • 10 In which a vegetable redeems itself and a pulse makes a remarkably good showing

    On the suggestion of a friend who’s a cooking whiz, I gave the humble cauliflower a second chance in a soup last night. And darned if it wasn’t pretty tasty. When cooked together with carrots, potatoes and onions, then pureed and creamed and cheesed, the stuff’s not half bad! My next bold food move was lentils. I’m just not a lentil person. I’ve tried them many times over the years in various forms and there’s something about the texture and flavor that don’t sit well. I think they taste sort of dusty in a way that lingers in your mouth.
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  • 9 Toddlers Don’t Like Showers

    Ever have one of those ideas that seems like a stroke of genius, but in fact isn’t anything remotely like that? Yeah, me too. Such it was today with my “take Miss Mouse in the shower with me” plan. It seemed so reasonable. Josh was sleeping in a bit and I wanted to take Miss Mouse over to the play area at the mall. My hair looked like a large bird had been camping in it and I thought to myself: “Hey, Miss Mouse likes baths. I’ll just bring her in the shower with me and she can play with
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  • 8 Culinary Good Intentions Gone Awry

    One of my New Year’s resolutions (if I did them, which I don’t) is to reach outside my comfort zone more in cooking. I like to cook and I present a pretty varied menu, but I don’t often challenge myself to try odd foods or foods I’m not convinced I like. But that’s going to change. I kicked off this new adventure with Cauliflower. Now, this may not seem adventurous or bold, but the truth of the matter is, I’ve never been a fan of cauliflower. I’ve had a few obligatory nibbles off of veggies trays over the years and
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  • 7 I think it’s trying to communicate…

    In recent weeks, Miss Mouse has taken several bounds forward and begun communicating verbally. Well, to be fair, she has communicated verbally for quite some time, but for the purposes of this post we’re not counting shrieks, screams, grunts, whines, or squawks. Solidly identifiable Mouse Words include: baby, dada, and bye bye, and she makes a credible attempt at “more.” She’s also making great strides in the animal noises department, proudly demonstrating for all the world what sounds are produced by cows (“mmmmm”), dogs (“whhuh”) and snakes (“ttssssss”). We do get into some trouble occasionally because several of her soon-to-be
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  • 6 Shopping with Grandpa

    The fact that my father picked this dress out for Miss Mouse all by himself only adds to its already-substantial innate cuteness.

  • 5 Dog and Babe Update

    Well, Miss Mouse and Riley seem to have settled in pretty well together. He has become resigned to the fact that she’s here to stay, and for her part, Miss Mouse adores him. She has recently learned that dogs say “woof woof” and now she woofs along with him when he barks. I do have to still keep an eye on them, though. Riley continues to show no signs of developing depth perception and remains utterly unaware of how much space he takes up. The result is that he regularly body checks her (I assume inadvertently) when he gets excited,
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  • 4 Ikea

    I’ve traditionally had an on-again off-again relationship with the big blue and yellow store. I’ve never been one to become a slave to the Ikea nesting instinct,* because, by and large, Swedish ultra-modern just isn’t my look. But some of their stuff is pretty fabulous. Like their kid products, for example. This weekend, we headed to Ikea to pick up a bookcase for the living room. We returned with said bookcase, but somehow a toy box and an awesome kiddie craft table and stool also leaped into the cart. Check this thing out! I love it! It’s super light weight
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  • 3 Fung Shui and New Year’s Resolutions

    Josh and I spent New Year’s Eve rearranging our living room and den in accordance with a decision we’ve made about our lives. I guess you could call it a New Year’s resolution, but the connection to the New Year is strictly coincidental. We are striving to downplay the role of television in our lives. To be honest, we’re not even that bad when compared to the “average American family” when it comes to time spent in front of the tube, but that isn’t saying much. Miss Mouse doesn’t watch TV at all now, and as she grows up, we
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  • 2 Reading a Cookbook is Still Reading

    Miss Mouse continues to be an avid reader. At the moment, her favorite book is one of my baby food cookbooks. In one of her daily games of “ransack Mommy’s kitchen bookshelf” she came across Anabel Karmel’s First Meals and fell in love. She is specifically enchanted by all the pictures of babies throughout the book. The Mouseling has learned to identify and say “baby,” and now she relishes the opportunity to do so. And so we sit for many a minute, flipping through the pages of the cookbook so she can gleefully point out all the small people, squeaking
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  • 2 The Laser Pointer: Applications Beyond the Classroom

    And here you thought that laser pointers were only good for classroom presentations… http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 1 You know you’re a parent when…

    …you’re in bed well before midnight on New Year’s Eve, after having spent the evening doing housework. We took down all of our Christmas decorations last night. It felt pretty early to be doing that, but I was following wisdom from my mom. Her theory on holiday decorations is to leave them up as long as it makes you happy to look at them. Whenever they stop making you happy — be it the end of December or mid-February — take them down. And so I did. A big part of the impetus for the project was my weariness of
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December 2009

  • 31 The Parade Wave

    Grocery shopping with Miss Mouse is one of my favorite past times.* I happen to love grocery shopping anyways. I’m not a bargain whiz, but there is something really satisfying about finding a good deal on good food and coming home to stock up your pantry. Having Miss Mouse along for the ride gives me someone to talk to and I just love to watch her interact with other patrons. She is a one woman welcome wagon. Every person who crosses her line of vision is greeted with a dazzling smile, an enthusiastic “huh!” (which is frequently mistaken for a
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  • 30 Tents, Reindeer, and Baby Jesus

    When we hit the airport yesterday on our way home, Miss Mouse treated us (and several hundred nearby travelers) to a pretty impressive display of baby angst. At one point in the security line, she was actually sprawled out on the floor, shrieking. But really, who can blame her for not wanting to leave Grandpa and Grandma’s? My parents adore their only grandchild and lavish affection (and gifts) upon her. In preparation for our arrival, they went all out – installing baby latches, borrowing gear, buying a car seat, and stocking the house with fun baby activities. Behold the awesome
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  • 29 Timing is Everything

    What happens when you forget that you’ve changed time zones in the course of the day’s travel home from Grandpa and Grandma’s? Well, for one thing, your daughter objects strenuously to being put to bed at 7pm. Because, after all, it’s only 6pm her time. You acknowledge that she has a point and let her play with her toys for another half an hour. She still doesn’t want to go to bed. You sigh with resignation, realizing your dreams of watching A Christmas Story with your husband have flown out the window, given that you have to work tomorrow which
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  • 27 Spicy Hot Tears

    Meal times are always a bit of a challenge when traveling. The usual arsenal of food options that we have our pantry stocked with at home is not necessarily available at Grandma and Grandpa’s, although my parents have done admirably in their attempt to anticipate Miss Mouse’s every need. (They’re awesome like that). Weirdly enough, Miss Mouse’s favorite food of the trip so far is East India Mix — a homemade Chex mix that is strongly flavored with the heavy handed application of curry powder. She can’t get enough. But babes cannot live on Chex mix alone and so tonight
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  • 26 A Christmas Rat Baby

    We’re in Chicago visiting my family for the holidays. We all staggered in throughout the day yesterday — the weather was nasty but we all made it. So today was our official Christmas celebration. And I should say first off, before whining, that on the whole, my girl has been a trooper. She handled the flight well and has been charming friends and relations with her giggles and silly bow-legged waddle. My mom pulled out all the stops to welcome her granddaughter (pictures to come) and everyone is having a whee of a time. That said, today we did have
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  • 23 Snow Baby

    The picture pretty much sums up Miss Mouse’s response to our snow day. Let’s just say she was underwhelmed. I blame the boots. It is remarkably difficult to wedge a 14 month old’s feet into sturdy winter boots. I think I failed and suspect she was walking like a ballerina en pointe. She did not enjoy it. And then she lost her balance… …and fell face first into the snow. She didn’t every attempt to catch herself. It was like watching a tree go down. After spending 15 minutes bundling her up, we spent approximately 3 minutes outside. Such is
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  • 22 Christmas Cookie Conundrum

    In the aftermath of the Christmas party on Sunday, we found ourselves buried beneath an avalanche of uneaten cookies, and so I decided to give a couple cookies plates to Miss Mouse’s teacher. Little did I know the emotional angst that would lie in wait for me along that path. It seemed simple enough: Give cookies to Miss Mouse’s teachers. But wait. Which teachers? Her Waddler Room teachers? The Toddler teachers that sometimes have her? Miss B who is her morning companion? And do you give them out individually (you might miss someone) or a group (feels a bit impersonal)?
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  • 21 In which Miss Mouse exfoliates with spaghetti

    You might think that I’d know better than to serve spaghetti to a 14 month old. But you’d be wrong.

  • 20 The Party

    Today was the Big Day. We hosted an open house for the church this afternoon. We got about 30 people and had way too much food. It’s always tough to guess how much people will eat at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, particularly when much of what you’re serving has enough sugar to send a horse into a diabetic coma. In any case, the menu consisted of: Veggie Tray Cocktail Meatballs Zesty Bean Roll-Ups Tuna Nicoise in Phyllo Cups Kate’s Peanut Butter Bites of Happy Joy Decorated Sugar Cookies York Peppermint Patty Brownies No-Bake Cookies Triple Ginger Cookies Lockard Fudge Kinda
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  • 19 Sugar Whirlwinds

    Whew. Today was a whirlwind of activity, much of it involving sugar. I was on a mad baking kick in preparation for our Christmas Party tomorrow. Chocolate peanut butter bites? Check. Fudge? Check. Zesty bean roll-ups? Check. Minty brownies? Check. I spent much of the day in the kitchen, pausing briefly after lunch to bundle the Mouse up and go play in the snow (pictures forthcoming). This remarkable culinary feat was made possible by the presence of my stalwart husband and the indefatigable Aunt Meg who entertained said Mouse. We did let her participate in some of the cookie frosting.
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  • 18 One of those days

    I’m a stress eater. No, scratch that. It’s more that I am a comfort eater and when I feel the need to be comforted, food helps me through. So do Starbucks chai lattes. I don’t think they make lattes big enough for today, though. It was just one of those days. By 9:00 am I’d been at work two hours and three things had already gone wrong. No, wait. Four. Nothing earth-shattering or fire-able, just wrong and irritating and time consuming on a day when I was busy. So I headed to Starbucks. I was simultaneously mortified and somewhat uplifted
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  • 17 Maracas in the Morning

    This is Miss B, one of Miss Mouse’s teachers at day care. Miss B is actually a teacher in one of the older classrooms, not Miss Mouse’s, but because of my girl’s crazy schedule (we arrive promptly at ten after six each morning), her regular teachers aren’t there when she shows up. So she spends the first hour of her day with Miss B and a handful of other kiddos of varying ages who also come early. Miss Mouse loves Miss B. She is one of only two non-family members that I have seen Miss Mouse toddle over to and
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  • 14 Portrait of a Mouse and a Tree

    Several people commented that the still accompanying the video of Miss Mouse and the tree made a great picture, so the next time she was admiring it, I grabbed the camera. Tonight she planted herself in my lap and we inspected the ornaments together. She’d point to one and I would describe it — “that’s the angel grandpa and grandma brought back from Hawaii” or “that’s the school where mommy and daddy met.” Then we’d scoot around the tree a bit further and look at some more. She continues to (mostly) show great reverence for the ornaments. Although I made
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  • 13 Remembering Grandma

    A correction: I realized last night that I do not, in fact, read my family’s Christmas Book every year. Or at least, in the baby-related hubbub of 2008, I didn’t sit down to read the whole thing cover to cover last year. I was about two pages in when it hit me that I hadn’t read The Book since my grandmother died in July of 2008. In a lot of ways, The Book is a love letter from my mother and aunts to grandma, thanking her for their childhood, which laid the foundations for their enduring friendships and set in
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  • 12 Bum Smooches

    I have a confession to make. Sometimes I kiss my daughter’s butt. I can’t help myself. I get her out of the bath and take her into her room to put on pajamas. She squirms around on the changing table, often flipping to her tummy, burying her face in the changing pad, and sticking her wee bum in the air. And there it is, so completely perfect and tiny and soft that I simply cannot resist planting a smooch on it. Or perhaps a quick raspberry. My husband does not have words to express how completely this behavior horrifies and
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  • 11 Dollar Tree Stockings

    My family loves Christmas stockings. When I was growing up, Santa brought the stockings, and all other gifts were from mom and dad. When I got older, my parents kept up the stocking tradition. As I got older still, I started doing stockings for them. A couple years ago, though, we all came to the realization that the “little nothings” we filled our stockings with were starting to add up to some serious bucks for frivolous things. The solution? Dollar Tree Stockings. We set a $10 limit on our Christmas stockings and stipulate that all shopping *must* be done within
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  • 10 Favorite Holiday Things

    My favorite thing at Christmas is the tree. Miss Mouse, on the other hand, draws her holiday spirit from the stuffed animals. We have several — okay more than several — stuffed Christmas critters. Bears, reindeer, dogs, penguins, and a giant stuffed moose. Miss Mouse adores them all. We line them up each day in front of the entertainment center, and she proceeds to gather them up and disperse them around the house, chatting to her friends as she does so. One of her favorite things is to pile into a laundry basket with all the animals. I have no
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  • 9 The Book

    It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t read The Book. That’s Four Midwestern Sisters Christmas Book to those of you outside the family. As I mentioned, back in the early 90s (holy cow, that was a long time ago), my mum and her sisters wrote a book about Christmas, our family, and the magic of traditions. The “voice” of The Book is that of my Aunt Jo, and it is her writing that has shaped my own written voice over the years. Take this marvelous line from the introduction — “Esprit de corps has always run strong in our family,
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  • 8 Mouse Versus Tree

    Last year at this time, Miss Mouse was an infant. Her experience of Christmas was pretty much limited to being strapped into her bouncy chair in front of the Christmas tree (which she enjoyed mightily). But this year it’s a whole new ballgame. And so, it was with some trepidation that I decorated our Christmas tree last week. I love our tree. I love lights and ornaments and the way the tree glows happily in the corner of our living room. But I have a toddler. What to do?? Don’t put one up? Wrap the whole thing in bubble wrap?
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  • 7 An Unexpectedly Naked Baby

    Yesterday I was futzing around in the kitchen, cleaning up from prepping for lunch. Miss Mouse wandered in with an object in her hand for me to admire. This is such a common occurrence and I was so busy loading the dishwasher that it took me longer than it probably should have to realize that the object was her diaper. As soon as she saw the realization dawn in my eyes, she turned tail and ran, giggling madly, naked as a jay bird.

  • 6 Domestic Bliss and Ginger Cookies

    This weekend I managed to achieve one of those idealized moments of domestic bliss that I imagined motherhood would be like before I actually became a mother and realized how much poop there was involved in the whole affair. Yesterday morning, I made cookies with my daughter. Well, sort of. I mean, she didn’t really help with the actual cooking, but she helped by cheerfully entertaining herself for half an hour while I made the cookie dough. Josh was at a meeting and I had a burning desire to make triple ginger cookies (to die for) as my kickoff to
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  • 5 You want to hang a what on my Christmas tree?

    One of the challenges of marriage is meshing together divergent holiday traditions. Especially if you (like I) come from a family with strong traditions. Beloved traditions. Iron-clad traditions, even. I mean, my family loves our traditions so much that about seventeen years ago, my mother and her sisters wrote a book together about them (more about that another time). Suffice to say I have Opinions about How Christmas Should Be Done. But so does Josh. Which is cool and it’s something I love about him, but it can definitely make for some interesting clashes. Like when we decorate the Christmas
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  • 4 Never Provoke a Snuggle-upagus

    The only drawback to having a Snuggle-upagus in the house is that if you try to end the snuggle session and, say, put the wee creature in a crib for bedtime, it may become enraged. And you do not want to see an enraged Snuggle-upagus. Poor Miss Mouse struggled with bedtime tonight. We read. We cuddled. We took many wee slurps from the sippy cup. We cuddled PJ. We cuddled the sippy cup. We whacked mommy on the head with the sippy cup (wait, that was just her). We did not want to go to sleep. Eventually, I was forced
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  • 3 Snuggleupagus Returns

    With the departure of Miss Mouse’s bedtime bottle has come the return of bedtime snuggle time. For a couple months, since we started letting put herself to bed, Miss Mouse has spurned my attempts to cuddle with her at bedtime. She would let me rock her and read a story and rock while she finished her bottle, but the second that was done, she squirmed and fussed and demanded to be put in her crib. But now, it’s back to snuggle city. Last night, I tried to pop her in her bed post-story time. She objected. I thought perhaps she
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  • 2 In Which Magic and Peer Pressure Both Play a Role

    See that sippy cup? It doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually magic. How else to explain Miss Mouse’s sudden bewitchment by the two-handed drink dispenser? I used to despair of ever getting enough milk into Miss Mouse as we removed her bottles because she didn’t actually seem to like drinking out of a cup. She liked throwing them across the room a lot, but actually consuming liquid from them? Not so much. Until now. Now she chugs milk, water, and juice with equal relish (well, no that’s not true — the juice gets the most relish, but only appears
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  • 1 My Jesus or My Boyfriend

    My marriage to Josh has brought with it increased exposure to two types of music — Country and Contemporary Christian Rock. On the whole, I’ve got no beef with country music. I owned the obligatory Garth Brooks CD coming into the relationship and was even a genuine fan of a lesser known band called the Bellamy Brothers. I don’t care for the hillbilly sub stream of the genre (you know, the “my dog done left me and my trailer burned down” songs) but on the whole, country music is good stuff. I’ve traditionally had more mixed feelings about Christian rock.
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November 2009

  • 30 Pumpkin Pie

    Yes, that’s a picture of Miss Mouse sampling her first piece of pumpkin pie. Yes, I allowed my one year old to have her very own slice. Yes, she loved it. Yes, I do feel a bit guilty about letting her have it. But not that guilty. It was Thanksgiving! And pumpkins are good for you, right?

  • 29 Thanksgiving 2009 by the Numbers

    3 — Number of states we slept in over the Thanksgiving vacation 12 — Number of hours spent in the car 8 — Number of hours Miss Mouse slept in the car (hallelujah) 107 — Number of cheddar cheese goldfish crackers consumed by Miss Mouse in a desperate attempt on the part of Mom to appease her when she was awake 14 — Number of times Mom contemplated yakking as she turned around backwards to feed Miss Mouse goldfish crackers 2 — Number of times Miss Mouse woke up for the day at 4am 3 — Number of new foods
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  • 27 Baby Sherpa

    I have always wanted a shearling Sherpa coat. You know — soft brown suede on the outside, fuzzy lambswool on the inside. Big buttons. Snuggly and fashionable. What’s not to love? But they’re pretty expensive and I — ahem — may already own more coats than I can count on two hands. And so I’ve never bought one for myself. But while browsing in Baby Gap recently, I came across a pint-sized version. It was love at first sight. I picked it up. Rubbed my face against it. Envisioned my wee girl striding about in the leaves in it. I
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  • 26 More Honorary Family

    And speaking of honorary family members, this week we got to spend some time with Josh’s best friend Wade and his family down in Kentucky. Wade and Josh are BFF (well, at least they would be if they weren’t guys who don’t engage in such frivolity as assigning cute acronyms to their friendship) and have been friends since middle school. Wade and Brandi have a nine-year old son who makes me think that having a boy some day wouldn’t be that bad. He’s great. Then there’s Peyton, who is just one month younger than Miss Mouse. The girls met over
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  • 23 The Joys of Plastic Stacking Cups

    Josh’s aunt and uncle got Miss Mouse a set of brightly colored plastic stacking cups for her birthday. There are ten of them that get progressively larger as they move through the rainbow. And I confess that when we opened the gift, I was dubious. I mean, they’re plastic cups. How interesting could they be? Answer: extremely. Those silly cups have become Miss Mouse’s favorite toys. She spends huge amounts of time playing with them. She nests them. And stacks them. And bangs them together. And fits them together to form balls that she flings around the room. And carries
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  • 22 Family by Choice

    Miss Mouse spends a lot of time with her aunts. Aunt Melissa is Josh’s sister, a saintly being who regularly babysits on virtually no notice. Aunt Meg is Miss Mouse’s beloved godmother who appears frequently at the house to lavish attention on our girl. Meg is my best friend and bears no actual relation to me or my offspring. But she’s family nonetheless. I didn’t grow up in a family that bestowed familial titles upon close friends, but I’m an only child and so I bring no aunts or uncles to the parenting table with me. I loved growing up
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  • 21 Peanut Butter and Jam Session

    Classical music flows through the veins of my mother’s family. My grandfather played viola in a professional quartet for many years and continues to perform with the Iowa State Symphony at the age of 89. All five of mom’s siblings grew up playing musical instruments (classical, of course. There was not a rock drum set to be seen) and I took many years of piano lessons. So it goes without saying that when I heard about Chatham Baroque’s “Peanut Butter and Jam” concerts, I was pumped. Chatham Baroque is a classical trio that performs all over the world on period
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  • 20 Book Rave-iews: The Going to Bed Book and Time for Bed

    I love bedtime with Miss Mouse. One of the last things we do together (of course) is to read a story. Two, actually. One silly and one sweet, they pave the way for a happy transition to sleep. The first is “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton. As you may know, I’m a huge Boynton fan, and so is Miss Mouse. In this rampantly silly book, Boynton’s usual cast of animals are preparing for bed on board a ship (no idea why) and they prance through the bedtime routines of bath, tooth brushing, pajamas, exercise (huh?) and sleep.
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  • 18 Oh, Baby!

    For the last two months, I have been on a search — nay, a quest — for the perfect baby doll to give Miss Mouse for Christmas. I am not a huge fan of dolls, to be honest (don’t get me started on the whole Barbie thing), but Miss Mouse loves the dolls at school and I do feel like every child should receive a doll from her mom at some point. Mine was a cabbage patch doll that Santa brought me one Christmas. In any case, once I decided to buy her one, the issue became finding a good
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  • 17 Mind Reader

    There are times when I wonder what Miss Mouse is thinking — and there are times when I know without a doubt. Yesterday morning, it was “Mommy, why don’t you love me?”She was in barnacle mode, and all she wanted in the world (above clean diapers, food, and oxygen) was for me to read to her. And every time I tried to end the book session and get us both ready for the day, it broke her wee tiny heart. Which, in turn, broke mine because — in point of fact — all I wanted in the world (above showering,
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  • 16 My Little Book-Worm

    My Jelly Bean loves to read, or be read to, if we are being precise. When this trend first began she would pick up the nearest book, hand it to me, make her way into my lap, and stare at me expectantly, grinning from ear to ear. And then we would read. One book after another, most of them multiple times, until I was too tired to carry on. This evening, though, as I was wrangling Jelly Bean while Kate went to a meeting, we were killing some time before the ‘bed-time-routine- got underway. She decided this would be a
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  • 16 What’s going on upstairs?

    There are so many times when I desperately want to know what’s going on inside Miss Mouse’s wee brain. Like last night, when she spent 20 minutes determinedly transporting potholders. I have a low drawer in the kitchen that is home to all my potholders and non-breakable trivets. It’s one of the only things in the kitchen that is Mouse-accessible and she likes to muck around in there. Last night, she decided that the potholders needed to migrate. She took them all out, one by one, and proceeded to walk around the house with them, depositing them as she went.
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  • 15 Leaps and Bounds

    It continues to amaze me every time Miss Mouse learns something new — especially if I don’t witness her learning it and simply get to see the finished product. Case in point: climbing and sliding. I took the wee mouse-ling to the park on Friday, where there is a great pint-sized jungle gym with plastic slide. I knew she liked the slides, as I had previously spent many dutiful minutes hoisting her to the top and supporting her on the way down. On Friday, she was toddling around the play yard and made her way to the jungle gym. She
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  • 13 A Proportional Response

    I’ve been noticing recently that there are certainly avenues of life that seem to defy the laws of proportional response (you know, the idea that the punishment should fit the crime and that one’s response to a situation should bear some relationship to the seriousness of that situation.) For example, when it comes to curse words, proportional response is often nowhere to be seen (or heard). As a society, we’ve become pretty fond of the Big Swear Words — and the little ones just don’t satisfy our need to curse as much any more. Somehow, belting out a “dang” when
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  • 11 Chicken

    And one last quick note about the marvelous discovery of whole-chicken-cooking that I made last week. That fabulous bird, which cost me under $4, yielded two additional meals, with left overs, beyond that initial consumption. First there was the butternut squash casserole with chicken. I made a double batch, gave some away, and froze some, so I’d say that was at least six servings of food. Then I made chicken noodle soup (from scratch, sans recipe, I might add) that was plentiful enough to yield a hearty lunch for me this week after Josh and I ate on it. Talk
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  • 11 Dr. Jekyll and Miss Mouse

    My darling baby girl has recently been undergoing a periodic disturbing transformation. When I pick her up from school, Miss Mouse is happy and cheerful. She waves brightly to her teachers, who coo over her and exclaim that she is just the best baby in the world. “She never cries and is always so happy,” they fawn lovingly. But as soon as I get her in the car, the transformation begins with a few angsty whimpers. And by the time we walk in the house to greet dad, Miss Mouse has been replaced by a ferocious and grouchy character known
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  • 10 A Squash Love Affair

    Is there anything more blissfully autumnal than baking with butternut squash? Yummo. At the farmer’s market this Saturday, one of the nice farmers was proffering some tasty recipes (which was a pretty good racket, because how do you grab the free recipe and then walk away without buying the ginormous squash?). It was fabulous. Butternut Squash Casserole 3-4 cups of butternut squashed, peeled and chunked into bite-sized piecesSome cooked chicken (yeah, I added that ingredient and just threw some in till it looked good)2 tsp. olive oil1/4 tsp salt1/2 lb whole wheat macaroni2 Tbs butter2 Tbs flour1 1/2 cups milk1
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  • 9 Mmmm…. Sleep

    Miss Mouse is currently my favorite person in the world. Do you know why? I’ll give you a hint — Zzzzzzzzz. She was a sleeping *machine* this weekend! On Saturday morning, she didn’t wake up until just after 6am and then on Sunday, she slept in until 7:30. Hallelujah! I actually woke up on my own before she did Sunday morning, and there is something so incredibly refreshing about waking up because your body is done sleeping, rather than because some external force (be it alarm clock or baby wails) compels you to get up. Miss Mouse seems to feel
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  • 8 Love me some pancakes

    Just when I start worrying that Miss Mouse will take after her dad’s culinary preferences and scorn many things yummy, she goes and devours three pumpkin pancakes. At least that’s how many I watched her eat at yesterday’s Rotary Club pancake breakfast benefit for my work. She may have wheedled a few more out of daddy while I was running around. What a good Mouse!

  • 8 Poor Choices

    It was my fault. I’ll admit that. I should have taken one look at the gigantic line snaking around the building and realized that it was no place for my Mouse. But the allure of the opportunity to tour the actual sets used to film Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was too strong and Miss Mouse, Aunt Meg, and I bravely joined the throng. And once you’re in the throng, it’s hard to get out. It’s the old — “Well, I’ve been in this line for 20 minutes, I might as well stick it out.” And then, “Well, I’ve been in this
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  • 6 Queen of Chickens

    On my birthday, I cooked me very first whole chicken. And I did it in the crock pot. I am Working Woman, Hear Me Roar! I confess to being somewhat intimidated by whole chickens. The size, the bones, the giblets (shudder). But I read a recipe on a fabulous blog – The Happy Housewife — about how you can cook a whole roasting chicken in a crock pot, and I was intrigued. By gum it’s totally easy. I bought a smallish chicken, gingerly yanked out (and threw away) the bag of nasty innards, stuck an apple up its butt and
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  • 5 Larks and Buzzards

    When you’re childless, and it’s summer, and you get caught in a sudden downpour, it’s kind of fun. You and the hubby squeal a bit, dash with the dog toward the nearest tree in search of shelter, maybe smooch in the rain. It’s a lark, really. But if you are out on a walk with your baby and it’s 40 degrees and it suddenly starts raining (almost sleeting, really), it’s no longer pleasant. In fact, if I was going to assign a bird to the experience, it would be a buzzard.

  • 5 Birthday Gift

    What’s the best birthday present of all? Hugs from your baby!

  • 4 Timing is Everything

    I get up every morning at 4:50 am… …except that I just can’t bring myself to get up that early. There is this huge mental difference between 5am and 4:50. I mean, who can face getting up at 4am?? My solution: set the clock in my bedroom ahead ten minutes. I set my alarm for 5am, rather than the dreaded 4:50, hop in the shower immediately upon waking up and then pat myself on the back when I get downstairs to the kitchen and it’s only 5:15. Man, I’m quick. The weird thing is — it works. Even though I
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  • 3 Dancing Bears

    And while we’re on the subject of product reviews (well, we were recently at least), allow me to spend a few minutes waxing adoring about a new nighttime diaper cover I’ve been trying out. I discovered Dancing Bears at my favorite cloth diaper website and was immediately intrigued. No Velcro, no snaps. The cover is made of polar fleece and is stretchy so you just pull it on like a pair of pants. And yet, it’s guaranteed not to leak and the lack of fasteners can make for a more comfortable fit. And, sure enough, it’s fabulous. Miss Mouse looks
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  • 1 More Giraffe Pics

    And a few more baby giraffe pictures, just because I happen to think she’s adorable.

  • 1 Halloween Block Party

    Last year was our first Halloween not living in an apartment and we were primed and ready to fling open our doors to the trick-or-treating masses. We waited in vain. Our house — the very last one on a dead end street at the bottom of a pretty steep hill — is not particularly attractive to kiddos in costumes, it seems. And, really, I can’t blame them. Our neighborhood has a lot of houses close together so you can rake in a great haul of candy without exerting yourself too much. In any case, several of our neighbors shared our
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October 2009

  • 31 The Five Days of Halloween

    You’ve heard of the twelve days of Christmas? I give you, the Five Days of Halloween, starring Miss Mouse. On the first day of Halloween, my Mousie wore for me — a pair of giraffe tights! On the second day of Halloween, she rolled around in — an orange fleecy sweatshirt and a pair of brown corudoy pants. On the third day of Halloween, the Mousie stepped out in — a rhinopard dress (with leggings). On the fourth day of Halloween, the baby waddled in — a sparkly kitty t-shirt (the jeans sparkle too). On the fifth day of Halloween,
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  • 31 Juice Juice Revolution

    I made the most marvelous discovery in the juice isle of the grocery story today. (I know, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.) Drum roll please… …Apple & Eve Fruitables.* They’re like V-8 Fusion in a juice box form — a mixture of all-natural veggie and fruit juices. Mmmm. They’ve got a couple different flavors, including Berry, Orange, and Strawberry Kiwi. I like these little guys for the same reason I like V8 fusion — adequate veggie consumption can be a challenge in our house. Miss Mouse (and her father) both eat fruit readily and happily, but it’s
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  • 30 Genetics

    Why is it that our children inherit our negative physical traits, not the good ones? Why didn’t Miss Mouse get her daddy’s amazing immune system that instantly slays any and all germs and then mocks them for their feeble attempts? When I was a kid, there was a period of years when I was sick each and every Halloween. Like clockwork. October 31st? Cue the bronchitis. And so it should come as no surprise when I tell you that at today’s Boo Bash at KinderCare, there was one small giraffe missing from the Halloween parade. She was instead hanging out
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  • 30 How to Grow a Prima Donna

    If, ten years from now (or less), Miss Mouse is a raging prima donna, I will trace the roots of this behavior to her first birthday. Never before in my life have I seen such rampant and shameless adulation heaped on one person. Much less one such teeny person! As I mentioned before, Miss Mouse takes great pride in figuring out her new toys. And we all take great enjoyment out of watching her. And applauding her. And cheering for her. And basically worshipping the very ground she crawls upon. Boy did she have us all figured out. At one
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  • 29 A Story Involving a Poncho

    Miss Mouse received a number (more like a plethora, or even a multitude) of clothes for her birthday from various friends and relatives. She and I have enjoyed debuting these new ensembles for church and school. Here she is, preening in a spiffy new corduroy skirt with matching tights and poncho. Who doesn’t love ponchos? And, naturally, the next step is to pull said poncho up over your head. She took some offense when I laughed at her. But then recovered her composure enough to play cheerfully in the laundry basket.

  • 28 Waddle Wounds

    It’s not easy being a waddler. You want to walk every where really fast, but your feet just can’t keep up with you and you fall down. First came the black eye. Then, when I picked her up from day care yesterday, Miss Mouse was sporting a vibrant facial carpet burn on her cheek. It’s not super apparent in the picture taken this morning, but it was pretty impressive in person. Poor dear. So much for the rescheduled family portrait tomorrow!

  • 28 Figuring It Out

    One of the most amazing things in the world (or at least in my world) is to watch Miss Mouse discover new things. It is absolutely captivating. Over the past week, she’s done a few of them and I marvel each time. First there was the invention of a new fun game called “have mommy and grandma tip me over in the laundry basket.” Now, this may not sound that fun to you, but my girl was a huge fan. She already enjoyed playing the game of “daddy pushes me around the house in the laundry basket” but mommy and
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  • 27 Einstein’s Not So Smart

    Call me petty. Call me smug. Call me…vindicated. Did you hear the news? Disney (owner of Baby Einstein) will be offering a refund to parents who bought the Baby Einstein DVDs, on the grounds that — gasp — the videos don’t actually make your baby smarter as their marketing has long implied. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a TV hater. Josh and I watch a lot of movies and are avid House fans. And I watched my fair share of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street when I was a kid. But not when I was a baby, and
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  • 26 Manna from Starbucks

    I confess to being a bit of a Starbucks junkie. I don’t drink coffee, but their chai lattes are pretty irresistible and their baked goods are tasty. Well, ordinarily, the little carb and sugar bombs are “tasty.” On a morning when I was forced to skip breakfast in order to do a fasting cholesterol screen and the earliest appointment time was a solid four hours after I woke up… …the petite* vanilla bean scones were like manna from heaven. I ate three of them. And a blueberry muffin. *They’re tiny. I swear. Like, two bites. Maybe three if you’re feeling
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  • 25 Feelin the Burn

    As an early Christmas gift, my parents bought an elliptical running machine for us. It’s living in the den, conveniently positioned in front of the TV, ready to whip us into shape. And, speaking for myself, I could use some shape-whipping. I had my annual physical exam last week and I am still — STILL — lodged firmly at eight points above my pre-baby weight. Which was itself nothing to rave about. Bleah. But I have vowed to change that, and the elliptical machine is going to help me. If it doesn’t kill me first. Good lord, I am out
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  • 25 In which we may or may not make progress on weaning Miss Mouse

    At the gentle recommendation of our pediatrician, we are attempting to get serious about weaning Miss Mouse off her bottles. She transitioned to cow’s milk a couple months ago with no problem and at that time cheerfully gave up all day-time bottles. She drinks from a cup at school with no complaints. But she’s held on the bedtime and wake-up bottles. Part of the issue is that Miss Mouse wakes up starving — much like her mother. I am usually ready for food within seconds of opening my eyes and she seems to be the same way. I marvel at
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  • 24 Putting Your Best Face Forward

    Clearly, Murphy’s Law targets innocent, unsuspecting parents. How else do you explain the fact that one hour before we had fifteen family members coming over to celebrate Miss Mouse’s birthday (and one day before we had a family portrait scheduled), the Mouse in question managed to trip, crash face-first into a wooden chair, and give herself a shiner? Oy. As the pictures demonstrate (not taken today — so the accident cannot be blamed on flash-induced blindness), one of her favorite things In The Whole World to do is to climb in, around, under, and over our bar-height kitchen table and
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  • 23 The Peep Returns

    There’s a chill in the air these days and that means it’s time for: The Return of the Marshmallow Peep. This year’s outdoor apparel is slightly less marshmallow-like, but still wonderfully cuddly. We pack her into this ensemble to walk the dog. I think perhaps that — rather than a peep — she most closely resembles an ewok in her current winter outerwear. What I like best is the elastic in the hood that prevents her from ripping it off her head despite her very best efforts.

  • 23 12 Month Well Banshee

    Miss Mouse had her twelve month well baby today. In her first year of life, she grew ten inches and gained about thirteen pounds. She currently weighs in at 20 lbs 12 oz and measures an impressive 31 inches. She’s still holding strong in the 95th percentile for her height, but has dropped to the 45th percentile for weight. Apparently this is pretty normal as babies become mobile — all that waddling around stretches them out for a bit before they pork up again. Poor babe also got her latest round of shots — two of them, and she was
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  • 21 Fate

    Ever have one of those days where it seems like The World is trying to tell you something? Today, the message of the universe has been pretty clear. It’s saying Don’t Go To Work. I’m serious. First, my alarm clock was boogered up and didn’t go off. I woke up 35 minutes late, when Miss Mouse woke up. “Thank goodness she woke up,” thought I. “I’ll only be a little bit late.” Then I stopped by Panera bread after dropping her off at Day Care because I didn’t have time to eat breakfast in the madness of trying to get
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  • 20 Waddler

    When Miss Mouse took her first tentative solo steps a few weeks ago, I proudly identified myself as the Mother of a Toddler. But, as it turns out, that’s not quite right — at least not according to her Day Care. In the eyes of KinderCare, I am the Mother of a Waddler. Yes, that’s right. In consultation with her teachers this morning, we made the decision to graduate Miss Mouse to the Waddler Room (otherwise known as Infant Room 3). Waddlers are babies who are at least one year old, but who aren’t quite steady enough on their pins
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  • 19 Giving

    My parents both love a good bargain. They each have their own specialities. My dad (in whom the trait is more pronounced), has a fondness for grocery story deals and electronics steals. Growing up, I never ever worried that we’d get snowed in and starve to death because our basement contained an extra refrigerator and about a six-month supply of canned goods and snack foods. Because, heck, if it’s buy one get one free, why not buy five? It was a fabulous childhood — everyone liked to hang out at my house due to the free-flowing good food. My mom’s
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  • 18 The Great Pumpkin

    The fates were conspiring against me for a while there, but I have finally succeeded in spending the afternoon with my daughter at a pumpkin patch. Score! I absolutely love all things fall and trips to orchard and pumpkin patches are a must. I’ve been dying to introduce Miss Mouse to some of these seasonal joys but fortune has not been on my side. Last weekend, the weather was nice and I had planned to go Sunday afternoon… …until she took a unexpectedly long (two and a half hour) nap. By the time she woke up, it was too late.
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  • 18 A One Year Old Mouse

    October 15, 2008 October 15, 2009

  • 17 An Unsettling Diaper Realization

    We’ve chosen to cloth diaper Miss Mouse for a variety of reasons, including financial. But the biggest one is still the environmental benefits of cloth. We all know that disposables diapers are really really bad for the planet, but today that really hit home anew for me. I’d ordered some biodegradable inserts for Miss Mouse’s Gro Baby diapers (very handy for when you’re on the go) and on the packaging was the “breakdown info.” The Gro Baby disposable inserts will break down in a landfill in 50-150 days. Disposable diapers can take upwards of 500 years to break down. This
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  • 16 The Birthday

    Well, the big day has passed. The living room is knee-deep in wrapping paper, there’s frosting on the walls, and we had one very tired baby today. All the hallmarks of a successful birthday. Miss Mouse enjoyed opening her birthday gifts and was a much more active participant than I had expected. She was particularly good at pulling tissue paper out of gift bags and then upending them (sometimes on her head). She also relished the opportunity to fling her new clothes from grandpa and grandma about the room and rub her face in her new soft sleeper. We did
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  • 15 No Deal

    One year ago, almost to the minute, my beautiful, wonderful, perfectly amazing daughter came crashing into the world. It is hard to believe how fast it has gone. We were warned that it would go fast, so we made sure we did not take one second for granted. We took thousands of photographs, and days of video footage of our first year with Miss Mouse. And yet, here we are. What feels like just a few months has been, in fact, one whole year. This past year has been rough at times. Trips to the hospital for Kate; trips to
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  • 15 Birth Stories

    One year ago today was the most wonderful — and most challenging — day of my life. I spent virtually all of it in hard labor, but the result was the arrival of my perfect daughter. I don’t know that I ever blogged her “birth story,” so here it is. Mostly. Amazing how fast mommy amnesia comes in to start wiping away your memories of childbirth… In any case, I had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, October 14th at which I learned that I wasn’t dilated at all but that she expected an on-time delivery on the 17th. Several hours
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  • 15 Treats! Or not.

    As I’ve shared, I’ve been struggling heroically to come up with the perfect birthday treats for Miss Mouse to take to Day Care. I was striving for low-in-sugar-but-still-super-yummy. My first attempt failed miserably. But last night I rallied and made some very yummy peach muffins with local, farmer’s market peaches I had stashed in my freezer at the end of the summer. Light, fluffy, fab. They’re currently sitting in the break room at my office with a sign that says: “Eat me.” When I arrived triumphantly at Day Care this morning, treats in hand, I was informed that they couldn’t
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  • 14 Time Passes

    With Miss Mouse’s birthday nearly upon us, I’m naturally reflecting on how fast the last year has gone. Two mom friends of mine recently said two extremely profound things about parenthood and the passage of time. When you’re a mom, the days are slow but the years are fast. Isn’t that weird? But it’s true. There are days when I am watching the clock and counting the minutes until I can put Miss Mouse to bed or until Josh will be home to distract her from demanding yet another recitation of her book. Or days when I just want to
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  • 14 Cursed?

    Want to know what is not very tasty and also not particularly festive? Burnt Agave Nectar Banana Bread muffins. My very first foray into the world of home-baked birthday treats did not go well. My bananas didn’t ripen as fast as I had hoped and didn’t mash well. Then I burnt about half the batter when trying to bake it in mini muffin cups. I had also baked six heart-shaped mini-loaves in a nice silicon baking mold…forgetting how much silicon baking molds Don’t Work. They didn’t burn, but they also didn’t come out of the molds. Or rather, the tops
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  • 13 Fooomph. Ungh.

    Will I never learn? Miss Mouse is of the age where, if you give any indication that something she did is funny once, she will naturally assume that it will be hysterical for the next hundred times. A few days ago, she was standing next to me while I lay on the floor on my back. She lost her balance and landed with a foomph on my stomach. I let out a theatrical “ooof–ungh–hurrr” series of noises, much to her delight. And now, you guessed it, her new favorite thing to do is to fling herself forcefully onto my poor
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  • 12 Sugar Rush

    We all know what birthdays are about… Sugar. And more sugar. And presents, of course. But mostly sugar in the form of beautiful towering cakes and mounds of ice cream. It’s a noble tradition, and one I embrace. For the next decade or so, I will have the happy task of selecting an appropriately delicious treat for Miss Mouse to bring in and share with her classmates at school. But, there’s a complication. If you’ll recall, I’m the crazy mommy who doesn’t like it when the teachers serve sugar cookies at snack time and who insists on sending unsweetened applesauce
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  • 11 Book Ban

    Never did I imagine that the day would come when I would discourage my daughter from reading. And yet, this morning, were you to peek into her room, you would find her usual stack of board books absent from their place next to the rocking chair. Further scrutiny would reveal that same books are cunningly stashed out of sight around the room — under the crib, in dresser drawers, etc. — anywhere she won’t find them. Why, you ask, am I bent on promoting illiteracy in my darling offspring? For the very simple reason that if I have to read
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  • 10 A love affair ends

    After many years of pleasure — I don’t know, maybe 15, 20? — a long-standing relationship of mine may be coming to an end. It’s not something I brag about, but for years I’ve carried on an off-again-on-again love affair with…Taco Bell. Yes, I know that it’s not real Mexican food and that ethnic fast food is never that good. Yes, I know that the company is bad to its employees, the environment, and the world at large. But I have a weakness for their chicken quesadilla. I got periodic cravings that I was powerless to resist.But now I have
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  • 9 There’s no wrong time to talk about boobs

    Yesterday, I ran into Alice, one of the nurses at my doctor’s office who had been particularly supportive throughout my early days as a mom, when breastfeeding was going so terribly awry. I wasn’t at the doc’s — I was just outside in the street near my office. Alice took one look at me and exclaimed (at top volume) “Kate! Oh my GOD! How is your breast?!?” Unsurprisingly, we got a few startled looks from passersby. Alice went on to pepper me with questions about how I had healed — was there a scar? (Oh heck yes). Was my boob
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  • 7 In Which Miss Mouse Learns to Walk and Then Refuses to Do So

    Almost two weeks ago, I was all aflutter, having determined that I was now the Mother of a Toddler. In front of both adoring parents, Miss Mouse proudly took five unassisted steps before toppling into my arms. Then she did it again. Huzzah! I dove for the video camera, ready to capture this magical moment… …and I’m still waiting. She now refuses to take more than a single step. She’ll cruise around the couch, kitchen stools, dining room chairs and any other furniture that she can get her paws on, but actual bi-pedal, solo steps? Not so much. She also
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  • 6 Just Call Me Ms. Professional

    I was chatting with a co-worker this morning, getting the play by play on a meeting I missed last night, and throughout the conversation, I kept getting the sense that he was distracted. His eyes kept wandering away from mine, he seemed to be frowning and/or squinting at me, and it was all a bit strange. Finally, he said: “Um…Is that…baby vomit on your shoulder?” Why, yes. Yes it was. I thought we’d passed the point where I had to check for baby puke on my way out the door each day, but apparently not. With all of her congestion,
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  • 5 Sick Kids Make Me Sad

    The only thing worse than having a sick kid is taking your sick kid to the doctor and being told there’s nothing they can do for her. Miss Mouse has been under the weather for a couple weeks. It started as a cold with cough, and the cough has lingered. And lingered. And lingered. Instead of going away and leaving us in peace, the darned cough seems to be getting worse. Last night, she was up half the night hacking. So today we took her in to the doctor — who looked in her ears and listened to her chest
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  • 5 That Fine Line Between Friendly and Stalker-Like

    As I’ve said before, I think it’s somewhat difficult to make new friends as an adult. But as I’ve also said, I have formed some of my best friendships in a single instant. Unfortunately, today I met someone who could have been my new mommy soul mate and I just could not — could not — think of any way to make a friendship overture without seeming like a total nutter. And now I will never see her again. Damn. It happened at the zoo. Josh and I decided to take Miss Mouse on an animal adventure this weekend and
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  • 4 Leaf Hunt

    Miss Mouse’s outfit yesterday was chosen not only for sheer cuteness, but in honor of the day’s adventure: A Leaf Hunt Tyke Hike with Venture Outdoors. There is absolutely nothing more glorious than a sunny fall day spent outside with your child. And the day is made even better when you dress your child like a leaf. It really is. Yesterday, we spent a couple hours in the morning with several other parents and kids, stomping through Schenley Park. The leader had all the kids draw slips of paper from a bag and on the paper was a picture of
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  • 3 Fall Baby

    I have been waiting for months to be able to put Miss Mouse in this outfit. What’s not to love about striped polar fleece overalls?

  • 3 Rubbish Sale

    As I believe I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not great at the whole thrift/rummage/garage sale shopping scene. But I want to be, and I’ve heard that practice makes perfect. With that in mind, Meg and I decided to hit the big annual rummage sale of a large (wealthy) church near where I work. I’d been hearing about it for years but had never actually made an appearance. The sale officially kicks off today, but for $5 you could get first crack at the goodies last night. We showed up promptly at 6pm, only to learn that doors actually opened
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  • 1 Rainbow Cake

    Oh my. I encountered the most wonderful thing on a mommy blog the other day. It’s a rainbow cake. I couldn’t save the picture, so click here to behold its splendor. For those of you not in a beholding mood, it’s a six layer birthday cake and each layer is a different vibrant, amazing rainbow hue. It is stunning. A voice in my head immediately started chanting: I love it. I need it. I must make it for Miss Mouse’s birthday. But then another voice chimed in with: Are you a complete nitwit? Do you not remember The Cake Curse?
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September 2009

  • 30 Simplicity Parenting

    I hesitate to just throw around the words “life changing” when I describe experiences because, let’s face it, most events don’t actually change your life. But I encountered a book this week that might just fit the bill. Simplicity Parenting — a truly gorgeous new tome which, as the name implies, is an ode to raising your kids simply. I had three hours to kill on Monday before a meeting when it didn’t make sense to drive home only to drive back so I decided to spend some quality time with Borders. I picked the book up on a whim
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  • 29 Domesticity

    It’s ten after eight. The baby is asleep. My house is clean and the dog is dozing at my feet. The whirring of the baby monitor and the rumbling of the dryer provide a soothing soundtrack, as the baby’s diapers tumble around, ready for day care tomorrow. My husband is due home any minute from a church meeting and dinner is almost ready. The chicken is sauteing gently, the broccoli is steaming and the home-made biscuits will come out of the oven as soon as I finish this post. The feminist in me may scowl (she is a bit scowly,
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  • 28 An Open Letter to the Makers of Baby Shoes

    Dear Baby Shoe People, I’ve been pondering how best to phrase this. After all, one hates to be rude. I’ve settled on: Are you people out of your freaking gourds? $52 for a pair of baby sneakers? Seriously? Is this some kind of joke? Am I being filmed by a hidden camera, while millions of viewers titter and wait to see if I’m actually going to fork over that kind of cash for something my daughter will outgrow in approximately three months? I will — grudgingly — shell out $50 for a pair of shoes for me, comforted only by
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  • 28 Other People’s Kids Suck

    When I first told my friends that I was preggers with Miss Mouse, several of them jokingly replied “but you don’t like kids.” As I believe I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not that much of a “kid person.” I adore my daughter — of course!! — and I enjoy some other people’s kids, but I’m not willing to embrace the category of children as a whole. Our trip to the Children’s Museum this weekend reminded me why. Other people’s kids are awful. Or at least they can be. Case in point: at the Museum, there’s a little area designed
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  • 27 Just for Kids

    At this point, Miss Mouse is a bit young for most of our fine city’s cultural attractions. She likes the zoo okay but I doubt she’d get much out of the natural history museum or the science center and I’m not dumb enough to try her out at a ballgame yet! But yesterday we discovered kids paradise at the Children’s Museum. I had been peripherally aware of the museum for a while but for some reason had a mental image of a museum about childhood (not sure why) and wasn’t really interested in checking out old dolls and exhibitions of
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  • 26 Playground Restores Mom’s Faith in Humanity

    I’m a pretty optimistic person, but even I can sometimes get weighed down by the bad stuff in the world. No need to list it all, we know it’s there. And it sucks. But just when you start to get really frustrated by the state of the universe, you stumble upon a small moment of grace that reminds you that, for the most part, life is good. I’ve been on the hunt for a good playground for Miss Mouse. She loves to scramble around on all the equipment at day care and I wanted to find somewhere she could do
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  • 26 Gimme My Crib

    As I was saying, Miss Mouse has gotten much better about sleeping. Right now, she’s upstairs taking a nap. She was dozing off over her lunch and all I had to do was put her in her crib with PJ and that was that. No fussing, no squawking. But even more impressive was the interaction I had with her one morning last week. She’d woken up earlier than she needed to, since my parents were in town and she wasn’t hitting day care at the crack of dawn. It was about 5:30 and, after giving her a bottle, I tried
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  • 25 To Eat or Not to Eat

    Some days — like tonight — I love feeding Miss Mouse. Watching her eyes light up as she double-fists her meal with glee is very affirming to me as a parent. Tonight she showed no mercy to two big helpings of chili with pasta, tore through a bowl of orange veggies with tofu and demolished what felt like half a pineapple but was probably really only a few big chunks. It was beautiful. Last night, on the other hand, I watched in despair as she systematically rejected:ChickenBroccoliMashed PotatoesApplesaucePizzaVeggies with Tofu When she spit out her yogurt, I gave up on
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  • 24 Shhhhhh…

    Shhhh…. Lean in close, I don’t want Murphy (you know, of Murphy’s Law) to overhear this. I think that Miss Mouse and I are finally in a good place when it comes to bedtime and sleeping. Most nights, she goes to bed without a fuss and proceeds to sleep ten or eleven hours straight through. Hallelujah. I can’t speak for all families, but for ours, there were two key elements that, once in place, led to this new found state of rest. #1 — A Healthy Baby Well, duh. But seriously. Once we got Miss Mouse her ear tubes and
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  • 23 Peace Baby

    “Make yogurt, not war.” ~Miss Mouse

  • 22 I Am Woman, See Me Assemble Things

    Hhaaaa. Arrrr. Heeeee-yah! Those are the noises I make when I’m flexing my muscles and/or practicing ninja moves in front of the bathroom mirror and feeling really really tough. Why am I making them right now? Well, I’ll tell you. I just successfully (I think) installed Miss Mouse’s new big-girl car seat in my trusty Saturn all by myself. We’re talking solo here. No dad, no hubby, no knowledgeable sales dude — no males of any type were involved in this endeavor. It took about a half an hour and there was a lot of sweating involved. Unless, of course,
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  • 21 What Child Is This?

    Holy cow. You go away for five days and when you come back, a whole new baby is waiting to meet you. I feel like Miss Mouse has changed by leaps and bounds in the short time we were away. Grandpa and Grandma were teaching her all kinds of new things, including: “Up!”When you pick up the Mouse, she will cheerfully announce “Up!” It’s the cutest darned thing ever. I’d say that’s her second official word. The first one was “yum” which she started saying a while ago. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment, because much of the time
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  • 20 Good Sport

    My girl’s a trooper. Her family enjoys a good Expotition and since Miss Mouse is still of a man-handle-able size, she comes along for the ride. And she does it with such enthusiasm! While she is still easily portable, she can certainly make her dislike of things known. Loudly. Ferociously. But usually, she’s totally game for an adventure. Last week’s excursions with Grandpa and Grandma included: Simmons Farm Hiking in Bird Park Then yesterday, my parents and I packed up the babe and headed out on the first-ever Venture Outdoors Tyke Bike. Seven grownups and four kiddos piled onto bikes
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  • 19 Moving On

    I am simultaneously overjoyed and heartbroken today. One of my very best friends and her husband packed their bags and headed West today. Really, really “west.” Anchorage, Alaska, “west.” Karlin will be serving as an associate pastor at a church in Anchorage and for that my heart sings. He’ll be so good and they are so lucky to have him. And yet. There’s now a huge Emily-shaped whole in my life. I have come to believe that the best friendships (or at least my best friendships) are those that are formed instantly. I don’t believe in love at first sight,
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  • 19 South of the Mason-Dixon

    It didn’t take too long upon arrival in the Peach State for us to realize we were in a whole different world. “The South” just feels different from our northern climes — and it wasn’t just the 20 degree temperature jump. How can you tell when you’re in the South? Here are four key indicators: Spanish Moss Seriously, it’s everywhere. It looks kind of cool from a distance but, according to our tour guide, is home to chiggers, ticks, lice, and all manner of other nasty buggers. If you should feel compelled to take some home and decorate with it
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  • 17 Meanwhile back at home…

    As I mentioned before, this trip has been baby-free. After careful consideration, Miss Mouse decided she would prefer to stay home with grandpa and grandma rather than travel to Savannah. While we were, of course, eager to have an eleven month old join us on our romantic getaway, we respected her decision to spend quality time with my parents. Naturally, she developed an upper respiratory infection the day before we left and has been coughing, snoodling, and running an intermittent fever ever since. Rather than spending a half day at day care each day, playing with her friends, eating a
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  • 16 Pedal Savannah

    Today, after a fun morning jaunt through a now-crumbly-but-once-cool colonial homestead and a stop at the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery (which was marred by the sad discovery that the Bird Girl statue from The Book has been removed and now lives in an over-priced museum we had no intention of visiting), the hubby and I decided to unleash our inner eco-tourist. We hopped a public bus to the Savannah historic district, rented bikes (Josh nixed my request for a tandem — thhhbt), and pedaled around, enjoying the lovely squares and amazing houses.* We visited (and loved) the childhood home of Flannery
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  • 15 Love in Savannah

    Having read about half of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil before our arrival, I was primed and ready to fall in love with Savannah. And fall I have, though the definitive moment came not on a trolley tour or strolling through one of the magnificent squares (although those were nice). No, my heart was stolen by a bookstore. Quite possibly the best bookstore I’ve ever seen. I give you E. Shaver, Bookseller. This magnificent establishment nestled just off of Madison Square on Bull Street has been graciously dealing in literature for the past 35 years. It is
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  • 14 Gerald

    We brought our usually-trusty GPS along to Savannah — an unfailingly proper British gentleman we refer to as “Gerald.” Only somewhere along the way, Gerald’s settings got changed to “shortest route” rather than “fastest route.” The implications of this adjustment have been some truly bizarre Gerald-initiated “short cuts.” We’d be driving along a major road and then suddenly Gerald was leading us off into a maze of residential side roads. Right. Left. Left. Right. Around several more corners, zig zagging merrily past southern homes. (Sometimes, I kid you not, the roads didn’t even have names.) Then back to the main
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  • 14 Taking in Our Surroundings

    We’ve arrived in sultry Savannah, Georgia — picked as a vacation spot largely on the basis of the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s one of Josh’s favorites and I’m about half-way through. It’s fabulous. As we’re getting settled, our big question is this: Did we inadvertently book a hotel in the Savannah ghetto? The hotel itself is lovely. Big skylights over the atrium, nice spacious suite with a living room, TV, and fridge. But as we drove around last night in search of some late night snacks, we began to wonder a bit about our
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  • 13 Murphy Strikes Again

    Murphy’s Law clearly states that the night before you and your husband leave on a much-anticipated week-long, baby-free vacation (entrusting your offspring into the capable and enthusiastic hands of grandpa and grandma)… …your child will have a horrible night involving fever, coughing, snot, and very little sleep for anyone. Hey, Murphy. Bugger off.

  • 12 Loss

    Good friends of our recently lost their baby 18 weeks into their pregnancy. The umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and he died. Moments like these render most words completely insufficient. I even hate the terminology “lost the baby” — it sounds like they misplaced him. And what do you say to a mother who is grieving? “I know how you feel?” I don’t. “God works in mysterious ways?” Well, that may be true, but it sure as hell isn’t comforting. And I don’t actually believe that God had anything to do with this. There’s a lot of “God’s plan”
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  • 10 More Handing Off

    Miss Mouse continues to find great joy and satisfaction in the act of handing objects to her parents. Yesterday afternoon, she sat for about 20 minutes, fishing toys out of her basket and handing them to us. She treats this exercise with great seriousness. She sits on the floor and deliberately brings each object out of the basket, holds it out at arms length for a moment, and then offers it up with a wide-eyed sober gaze. Caterpillar rattle. Turtle rattle. Mini Care Bear. Teething ring. Croaking stuffed frog. One by one they accumulated in our laps. Miss Mouse is
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  • 9 Thrifty

    I suspect that the world can be divided into two types of people (or at least two types of women) — those who excel at bargain clothes shopping and those who do not. My mother’s sisters fall into the first category. They all shop faithfully at various thrift and consignment shops and regularly regale us with tales of their amazing finds. The practically new Clarks clogs for a dollar. The gorgeous black leather blazer for $5. The sorts of stories that send me dashing to the nearest Salvation Army in hot pursuit of the next great deal. But, sadly, my
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  • 8 Huntingandfishing

    I noticed this weekend that Josh’s people and I differ significantly in our understanding of the age-appropriateness of certain outdoor activities. Particularly those that involve the slaying of woodland and/or aquatic creatures. To Josh and the men of his family, “huntingandfishing” is one activity (usually pronounced together) and they can’t wait to introduce Miss Mouse to its mystical arts. To me, those are two very distinct past times with two very different age thresholds. Fishing is a gentle and fairly innocuous sport involving lots of sitting around, idle chatter, and the occasional arcing arm movement. Although I did get a
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  • 7 Weekend Recap

    We’re back home after a fun-filled trip to the in-laws this weekend. It’s 6:15 PM and Miss Mouse has already been asleep for about twenty minutes — the true indicator of a good day. Visits to Josh’s family are always an exercise in controlled chaos, with the emphasis on chaos. This trip included: Nine adults, Two big rowdy dogs, and one baby… …all staying together in one mid-sized house, with three bedrooms, and one shower. But we’re pros at this by now and everyone had a bed (or at least a couch) and a crack at some hot water and
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  • 6 Sh*ts and Giggles

    One of the greatest challenges to traveling with Miss Mouse is diaper changes away from home. For some reason, the absence of a changing table frees her from any sense of propriety and she doggedly tries to escape Each and Every Time you remove her diaper. Usually this is done on a bed or floor, and pinning her down at an awkward angle while trying to wrestle off her clothes and diaper, wipe her down, and get her re-outfitted can be really difficult. Today, I drew the short straw on changing a particularly impressive poop (that had already leaked a
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  • 5 Second Wind

    We’re visiting Josh’s parents for the holiday weekend and celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. We thought we’d be smart and time our departure to coincide with Miss Mouse’s bedtime. Give her a bottle, pop her in the car seat. I already posted about how well that idea worked. But then, to add insult to injury, once we arrived at their house at 11 o’clock at night, she got a second wind. We’re talking bright eyed, bushy tailed, no sign of wanting to go to bed. She bounced around until nearly midnight before finally consenting to close her eyes. Then she
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  • 4 Road Trip

    A four hour car trip with a screaming baby is: a) Restful and pleasant. In fact, its serenity rivals that of yoga. b) A hellacious journey during which the parents of said baby seriously question whether they will ever have more children. Answer: Do you even have to ask?

  • 2 Black Bean Couscous Salad

    This post is part of a Labor Day Recipe Blog Hop (which basically means a bunch of people post on a similar topic and they’re all compiled in one place). You can check out other recipe suggestions at Mommy’s Online Garage Sale. My absolute favorite summertime cookout recipe is Black Bean Couscous Salad. I found it on Allrecipes and it is both delicious and really easy (two absolute requirements if I’m cooking anything for a crowd!). It’s pretty flexible, too, so feel free to throw in other vegetables and play with the quantities. It’s also good with chicken if you’re
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  • 1 Hand Off!

    Miss Mouse’s newest favorite thing to do is hand things to me. Now, to the outside observer, this may not seem like an activity that would produce seemingly endless entertainment, but to my daughter, it’s the coolest thing since binkies. This afternoon at the park, it was mulch. Yup, mulch. She sat cheerfully at my feet for about ten minutes, picking up handfuls of tree bark, inspecting them intently, and then handing them to me. Happily, only a few handfuls ventured in the direction of her mouth and I was able to reroute them before they reached that destination. And
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August 2009

  • 31 The Good Old Days

    Who knew that, in such a short time, we would look back at the ear infection saga as “the good old days”? Poor Miss Mouse. This sinus infection is kicking her wee little butt. The ear infections never really seemed to slow her down much. She’d cough and occasionally run a little fever, but that was about it. Now we’re going into day four of 102-103 degree fever and she is obviously uncomfortable much of the time. She spends much of the day moaning and melting into a feverish puddle in the nearest lap, which is a truly pitiful sight.
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  • 30 Love and Snotty Snuggles

    Less than two weeks after getting her ear tubes, Miss Mouse is sick again. After a very long Friday night that includes lots of crying, a very high fever, and a 3:30 AM chat with our pediatrician, we got her in to the doc yesterday who pronounced a sinus infection. “And it’s not even cold season yet. Wow.” — she intoned cheerfully. So now my babe has snot pouring from her nose and oozing from her ears. She’s on antibiotics (wait — wasn’t avoiding more of those one of the reasons for the tubes?) both orally and direct to the
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  • 29 Full Time?

    There are some days (like Sunday afternoons) when I want to quit my job and spend every day snuggling, kissing, and going on adventures with my Mouse. Two days a week and a few hours each evening just isn’t enough time with her and I wonder about the feasibility of being a stay at home mom for a while. And then there are days (like yesterday) when I pick her up from day care and she’s cranky and ornery and I find myself counting the milliseconds until I can put her to bed and I think I would probably go
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  • 28 Bunny Love

    When we went in to wake Miss Mouse this morning, this is what we saw… I’ve been dilligently trying to get Miss Mouse to bond with her stuffed rabbit — known affectionately as P.J. Funnybunny after the character from that great book. And at long last it appears to be working. The best part is — I heard her stir at about 4am this morning. There were a couple wails and I was just about to get up when suddenly it was silent again. I think she found PJ and he comforted her which is exactly what I’ve been hoping
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  • 26 The wonderful thing about tofu, is tofu’s a wonderful thing

    Have I waxed appreciative about tofu yet? No? Well then… It’s magic stuff, really. I had read early on that tofu was a good food for babies — lots of protein and whatnot. But I bought the wrong kind and let it be said for the record that “extra firm” tofu does *not* puree nicely into baby food. It glunks and clumps and curdles and is generally nasty. So I abandoned the project for a while. But then I happened to be in Whole Foods and encountered silken tofu. And that is a different beast all together. It doesn’t really
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  • 25 Even Manly Men Love Babies

    Miss Mouse and I were heading home from a walk this afternoon, with her strapped into the baby backpack, bouncing merrily along and enjoying the view. We passed a group of construction workers who were fixing a broken water main (and, by the way, it really sucks not to have water). As we went by, I heard Miss Mouse make one of her “happy noises” and I glanced back to see her beaming and waving enthusiastically. And darned if that cadre of burly, scruffy, dirty men in their cut-off orange t-shirts weren’t all smiling and waving back.

  • 24 Pain Is Beauty. Or Something.

    Ah, the things we women will do to look beautiful. The ladies in my family have a thing for red plaid. You might even call it an obsession. It started (I think) some time back in the early 60s when my mother made red plaid jumpers for her mother and sisters with matching vests for her brother and father. To this day, we all have a soft spot for the stuff. And so it was utterly appropriate that my aunt Roo should appear at our family gathering last weekend armed with red plaid flats. Lots of red plaid flats. She’d
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  • 23 Grounded

    We just returned from dinner out with my parents, my hubby, and my child. I think the “flavor” of the evening can perhaps be captured in Josh’s stern pronouncement when we returned: “Miss Mouse — you’re grounded.” Yup, we were “that family” with the obnoxious child. In my defense, Miss Mouse had done really well in previous trips to restaurants. She sat quietly in her chair, munching on cheerios and charming the wait staff. Not tonight. Tonight she refused to sit in the chair, squirming, fussing and ultimately shrieking her dismay. She tried to grab and fling everything within range
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  • 22 Routine

    Boy howdy, you don’t realize how dependent you have become on a routine until that routine changes. We’re at a family reunion in Ohio this weekend and Miss Mouse and I stayed over night in a nearby hotel. And there’s (obviously) no rocking chair. I thought the child was never going to go to sleep. Every night for ten months, I’ve rocked her to sleep in the rocker in her room. It didn’t even really occur to me that she doesn’t know how to go to sleep without it. I spent an hour and a half last night bouncing, walking,
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  • 20 Ear Drops

    Who knew that there could be anything worse in a small baby’s life than The Dreaded Blue Bulb? Well, there is. It seems that the diabolic folks at Mean Parents, Inc. have come up with an even more shocking instrument of baby torment — Ear Drops. Miss Mouse’s ears were gunky and infected and nasty when they performed the surgery on Tuesday so they sent us home with a bottle of ear drops and instructions to put three drops in each ear three times a day. Oh, and have her lie on her side for a few minutes after you
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  • 19 Sleeping? Not so much.

    Dream on, mom. My naive hope that Miss Mouse would immediately start sleeping deeply for twelve hours a night now that her ears are fixed was…well…a naive hope! Last night, I put her down at seven. She woke shrieking at 7:40, 8:40, 9:40 and 4:30. And possibly once more in between while daddy was on duty. I was going to ask him this morning, but he so closely resembled one of the undead at 5am that I avoided all unnecessary speech. At about 10 o’clock last night, I suggested to Josh that maybe she was having nightmares about the surgery.
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  • 19 10 Month Pics

    I forgot I hadn’t published any of Miss Mouse’s Ten Month Pictures. Here she is!

  • 18 Brand New Baby

    Everyone we talked to about Miss Mouse’s ear tubes who had some experience with them always said the same thing: “She’ll be a brand new baby after they’re in.” I don’t know about Brand New, but she sure is happy! Now, Miss Mouse is usually pretty happy, but this afternoon she was bouncing around the house like a small, vocal ping pong ball. She’d crawl into the kitchen, climb around on the chairs, stand up and bang on the refrigerator, whack her wooden spoon on the floor (or the dog or whatever she could get near), scuttle over to her
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  • 17 Oh Sh*t

    The warning signs were there. The red face. The faraway-yet-focused look in her eyes. But my mind didn’t read them fast enough. And by the time the words were out of my mouth, they were descriptive as well as expletive. OH SH*T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No parenting book in the world can prepare you for the experience of trying to scoop the poop out of your daughter’s bath water.

  • 17 Not Me Monday!

    It’s that time again. That’s right — bring on another round of “Not Me Monday.” Thanks to MckMama who hosts this fabulous blog carnival. You can check out what she hasn’t been up to and survey the hundreds (we’re talking multiple hundreds) of other participants in the carnival here. So last week I did not have an hour to kill before a dreaded meeting for which I definitely did not need a major caffeine boost. Therefore, I did not succumb to the allure of a ridiculously overpriced iced chai from Starbucks. Then I certainly did not smuggle it into the
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  • 16 Sustainable Pot Luck

    A group of friends from my monthly women’s small group rallied yesterday for a family-friendly outdoor potluck at our house. There were eleven adults and six children under the age of three. Whee! We’ve been reading a collection of essays on faithful eating (the concept that our Christian faith should impact the decisions we make about food) and so the theme of the day was Sustainable Potluck. We had all agreed to try to bring a “green” dish — organic, local, natural, etc. Menu items included: Couscous salad with black beans, corn, and red peppers Fresh corn salad with tomatoes
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  • 15 Farmer’s Market

    One of my favorite bumper stickers of all time reads: “Where are we going? And why are we in this hand basket?” Frequently, one glance at the day’s headlines can convince you that, regardless of the means of transit, our society is on its way to the abyss. But should you ever start feeling like that, I suggest you put down the newspaper and head out to the nearest Saturday farmer’s market. It’s good for the soul. I like any farmer’s market, really, but the weekday ones have a different feel. Most people are stopping on their way home from
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  • 14 There’s one in every crowd

    So one day this week, I arrived to pick Miss Mouse up from school and peaked into the room through their little observation window before entering. The room was dark, gentle music was playing, and six babies were sleeping peacefully in their cribs. The seventh child in the room was standing at a table, one plastic toy in each fist, banging them for all she was worth with a huge grin on her face. Yup, that’s my girl.

  • 14 Tuberiffic

    Yup, it’s tube time. We met with the ENT specialist this morning and Miss Mouse is slated for surgery some time on Tuesday. I’ll probably be a nervous wreck the day of, but for right now, I’m thrilled! I went into the appointment jazzed up and ready to fight for tubes. I had done some research and was on board, but was secretly afraid that the doctors would want to “wait and see.” I was ironically worried that the antibiotics would have worked (nothing like hoping your kid’s medication failed), that she’d be infection free, and that they’d take a
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  • 13 Buddha Belly

    As pre-toddlers are prone to doing, Miss Mouse has grown her very own Buddha Belly. Her pudgy little tum isn’t immediately visible when she’s dressed, but let her wander around in a diaper and it will soon make an appearance. Especially when she sits down. I love the Buddha Belly. I kiss it for good luck. And now that Miss Mouse has started wearing more t-shirts sans onesies, the Buddha is always available for smooches (or raspberries). Pick her up, kiss the tummy. Change her diaper, kiss the tummy. Put her in the car seat, kiss the tummy. I can’t
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  • 12 The Family Dinner

    Last night, we had our first real Family Dinner. You know, that institution that is rapidly disappearing in our country where an entire family eats the same meal at the same time while sitting at a table that is not planted in front of a television It’s a dying art, but one I am determined to maintain in my family. Exceptions must clearly be made for the under-two crowd and Miss Mouse often goes to bed before we manage to get adult dinner made. But last night it was spaghetti and meatballs for everyone and we managed to eat together.
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  • 11 Pizza Bread

    Josh has been teasing me for a while that what Miss Mouse is really saying when she flings her food to the floor is — “I want pizza!” And as I was wandering through the Italian section of the grocery store yesterday afternoon in search of inspiration, I thought, why not? Commercial pizza is bad for you mostly because of the ridiculous amount of fat grams and the freakish partially hydrogenated products they use to make it taste extra good. But fat is good for babies and I wasn’t planning to order her a stuffed crust from Pizza Hut. I
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  • 10 Tricks for Treats

    Well, although he may continue to view Miss Mouse as a rascally wee puppy with more energy than any creature needs, Riley knows which side his toast is buttered on. Or rather, which human is most likely to cause buttered toast to rain from the sky upon him. Yesterday, Miss Mouse was enjoying her lunch with usual verve — mushing her macaroni into her hair, smearing the veggie puree on her face, and flinging her diced carrots to the ground. Riley was patiently camped out under (yes, under) the high chair in a state of bliss. At one point, I
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  • 9 Failure to Communicate

    We’ve reached that awkward and frustrating time when Miss Mouse is starting to have and express preferences and desires but my ability to interpret those preferences is sadly lacking. Which drives us both nuts. Sometimes it’s fairly simple. For example, I have learned that Miss Mouse will sit still in my lap (although “still” is a bit of a misnomer since she kicks her feet happily the whole time) when I am reading her Eric Carle’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” But if I crack open The Runaway Bunny, she starts squirming, flailing, and trying to escape
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  • 8 Shy Girl

    Miss Mouse is going through a bit of a mommy phase right now. She tends to follow me around the room, crawling doggedly from spot to spot as I move and tugging on my pant legs to pick her up. If I should dare to leave the room without her, tears ensue. And whenever anyone comes up to talk with her, she gets shy and buries her head in my or Josh’s shoulder. I know I need to encourage her to be a big girl and not a wee wall flower. But the thing is, I secretly find it totally
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  • 7 ADHD Source Revealed

    I think I may have discovered the source of the ADHD epidemic that appears to be running rampant through this generation of children. It is sitting in my living room. Yes, my friends, it is true. The reason our children are bouncing off the walls like ping pong balls is…the LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table. This astonishing contraption (which we’re borrowing from another mommy friend) could probably also be named the LeapFrog 100 Way to Make Noise Table. There are about a dozen different buttons to push or gears to move and all them result in a noise —
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  • 7 Friend!

    Ha! I got an email from my would-be friends. And yes, wee Max would love to play with Miss Mouse some time. What’s funny to me is that every day this week, Max’s dad has been the one to drop him off and pick him up. And the card sat in the mailbox, unnoticed and unclaimed. This morning, Max’s mom was the one to bring him in. And immediately, the card was discovered and a response email sent. Men.

  • 7 There are no words…

    …except Wow.

  • 7 Update on the friend note

    Arg! There’s a flaw to my plan of sending a note to my would-be day care friends… …they apparently don’t check their day care mail box. This morning, I could still see my card sitting there, untouched. Noooooooo!! That sucks. The suspense is killing me.

  • 6 Doing in Public What Is Better Left Private

    I don’t like public restrooms. I just don’t. It’s not that they’re dirty — it’s just that they’re public. I suspect that there may be a genetic component to my aversion and if that is the case, then I blame my mother. Over the years, I’ve come to accept and tolerate the truly public restrooms. You know, the airport, the movie theater, the mall. Restrooms of mass anonymity where you are simply one of dozens, whizzing together as one. You don’t know anyone in there, you’ll never see them again, and so the intensely awkward fact you’ve shared a very
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  • 5 Do you want to be my friend?

    In some ways, I think we never really progress past the third grade approach to friendship. A passed note with the words: Do you like me? Circle Yes or No. Striking up a friendship can be a remarkably intimidating thing, especially out here in the grown up adult world. Years of school provided a ready supply of friends with built in activities like study groups and study breaks and organized sports and whatnot. But now? Now you pretty much have to muster up your courage and just say: “Hey, you seem cool. Do you want to hang out?” And hope
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  • 4 Sugar Cookies

    I love Miss Mouse’s Day Care. I mean, heck, they’re willing to even attempt the cloth diapers which is more than some establishments will do. And I think that most of the time, they do a really good job of providing both age-appropriate care and age-appropriate food. But sometimes, there’s a glitch in the system. When I arrived to pick Miss Mouse up today, I learned that — contrary to what the published menu stated — the afternoon snack in the Infant 2 room had been Mrs. Fields sugar cookies. Um, hello? Excuse me? Sugar cookies? As a baby snack?
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  • 4 Not a Circus Monkey, Thanks

    In response to Kate’s earlier post, I think it is worth mentioning that, yes, Miss Mouse knows what ‘How big is baby’ means, but she has decided she will not do it anymore because, well, she is not a performing monkey. I feel confident that her refusal to raise her arms in response to the question is intentional because now when we ask her ‘How big is baby?’ she gets a huge grin on her face while not raising her arms. She knows what she is supposed to do, but she refuses. Likewise, she normally talks up a storm. But
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  • 3 My Verbal Gerbil

    Miss Mouse has mastered the “how big is baby?” game. You know — How big is baby? SOOOOO big! And you lift your arms up to demonstrate just how big the baby is. Well, she’s got it down and delights in flinging her arms gleefully into the air like the big girl she is. What amazes me about this game is that she responds to the verbal question, no hand gestures needed. All you have to do is get her attention and say “How big is baby?” and the arms go up. She understands. Obviously, rationally, I realized that at
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  • 3 Corn Theology

    I am originally a Midwesterner, with roots in Illinois and Iowa. We are known to be a Bible-loving people, but the honest truth is that for most of us, farm-fresh sweet corn ranks right up there with Jesus. I had my first corn of the season this weekend and it was truly a religious experience. Sweet corn has been available at the markets for weeks, but I resisted the temptation to buy too soon — last year I jumped the gun and my first batch wasn’t very good, thereby tarnishing the entire season somehow. But Saturday morning, I picked up
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  • 2 Boys Will Be Boys

    I’m a feminist. As a twenty-something female, I almost feel like this goes without saying, but I’ll just put it out there for the record. And yes, I can be a bit aggressive about it sometimes (anyone familiar with the song from Annie Get Your Gun: “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”?) But a friend of mine brought her adorable son over for a play date yesterday and I am forced to acknowledge the unassailable truth that, while men and women may be equal, they are most definitely not the same. Little boys and little girls are two
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  • 2 A blog award

    I’m still floored every time I discover someone other than my immediate family and friends reads the blog so I was doubly wowed when one of my readers gave me a blog award. Thank you very much, Little Ladybugs! I’m honored. The “One Lovely Blog Award” is supposed to operate sort of like a chain letter of love. The idea is that you then nominate 15 other blogs deserving of accolades. But I’m afraid I’m going to be “that person” who breaks the chain this time around. I’ve been blogging for a while, but only for friends and family. I’ve
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  • 1 Update

    UPDATE: Shoes Located I talked to the hubby on the phone today and inquired as to the whereabouts of the missing lion shoes. His response: “Aren’t they on the stairs? Didn’t you look under the pile of clothes?” Uh, no. I did not look underneath the stack of bibs, socks, and miscellaneous clothing piled in the stairway. Why didn’t I look there? (And yes, that is exactly where they were.)

  • 1 Hubby Appreciation

    I love my husband. And there are days that really emphasize to me how grateful I am for his partnership in this whole parenting thing. How on earth do single parents do it? Josh is out of town for a couple days, leaving Miss Mouse and me to fend for ourselves. How’s it going? Well, yesterday morning, Miss Mouse arrived at day care 20 minutes late, without half her lunch (it was still waiting patiently in the fridge) and missing an extra diaper cover (which meant she spent most of the day in disposables). She was also not wearing shoes.
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July 2009

  • 31 Horror flick?

    No, it’s not a scene from a baby slasher movie. Miss Mouse just really likes her beets. Which I find a bit odd, to be honest. Beets are one of those weird foods that are universally enjoyed by babies and almost never eaten by adults. I personally think they taste like dirt. Or at least this batch from the Farmer’s Market did. Maybe I didn’t wash them well enough. But Miss Mouse doesn’t seem to mind one bit. They’re all yours, sweetie.

  • 30 Brusha brusha brusha

    Since Miss Mouse is the proud possessor of four itty bitty teeth, we were instructed by our doc at the nine month checkup to start brushing those pearly whites. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. Happily, the problem is not that Miss Mouse objects to tooth cleansing. On the contrary, she loves it! I bought a little over-the-finger soft plastic brush and some “training toothpaste” that is supposed to taste yummy. Apparently, it does. Whenever I get anywhere near her mouth with the toothbrush, Miss Mouse obligingly opens up cheerfully with excitement in her eyes… …and
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  • 29 The Birds and the Babies

    This weekend, my mom’s sister and her friend were in town for a quick visit and we hit the aviary together. It was actually my first trip to birdie land and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t think of myself as particularly ornithologically inclined but there is something incredibly cool about being in a big room that bears striking resemblance to a tropical rainforest with scores of birds flying about free as, well, birds! Miss Mouse was duly impressed, too, although I was forced to thwart the greatest desire of her wee tiny heart, which was to gnaw on the
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  • 28 ENTirely too many drugs

    Last night, Miss Mouse started her sixth course of antibiotics in just over two months. She’s had a constant stream of ear infections that the meds just haven’t been able to get on top of. Now, I’m a pro-medicine momma (I heart vaccines), but even I know that is way too many drugs. So I was actually relieved when they referred us to a children’s ENT specialist. At this point, I’m thinking “bring on the tubes,” because continuing our current revolving door of infection and drugs just isn’t okay for several reasons. 1) It’s becoming more and more clear that
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  • 27 The Why and How of a Good Night’s Sleep (Part 2)

    I must confess that I woke up this morning feeling very defeated on the whole sleep front. Miss Mouse was up twice again in the night last night. Which leads into the second piece of the sleep puzzle — how to handle it when she wakes up in the night. Now, I can already see the words forming on the lips of many a well-meaning reader. So let me be clear right off the bat: I don’t do Ferber. The whole “cry it out” school of thought does not align with my parenting philosophies. Period. I know many a parent
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  • 26 The Why and How of a Good Night’s Sleep (Part 1)

    Miss Mouse is not what you would call a “good sleeper.” She’s never been horrible — no all night crying fits or up-every-hour feedings. But here we are at 9+ months and she still doesn’t sleep through the night most of the time. This week she seemed to be doing a bit better, managing several eight hour sleeps and actually going 11 hours straight on Friday (hallelujah). Then last night, she was up twice in the night again. I think there are really two pieces to the puzzle: why does she wake up and how do I handle it when
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  • 25 The Picky Eater

    Whenever there’s a gathering involving children, and mealtime rolls around, there’s always “that kid.” The picky eater. You know who I’m talking about — the kid who will only eat cheese toast or refuses anything except french fries. And I know you’ve joined me in secretly judging the parents. Why the heck are they letting their child get away with only eating macaroni and cheese three meals a day? Don’t they know anything about nutrition?? But, as with many things, that smug superiority that I had pre-motherhood is quickly vanishing. Now I get it. Last week, after feeding Miss Mouse
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  • 24 Baby Bully?

    If, five years from now, Miss Mouse is the kindergarten bully, we’ll look back at these days and say “uh huh, the signs were there.” One of my sweet girl’s favorite things to do is play with her awesome animal blocks. She enjoys chewing on them, banging them together, and throwing them across the room. But what she likes very best of all is to demolish other people’s attempts to build with the blocks. Her motto seems to be: You Build It, We Smash It! No matter that she already has several blocks in her hands and more scattered around
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  • 23 Diaper Houdini

    Miss Mouse has invented a new game. It’s called “escape from the changing table.” The premise is simple: every time I try to change her diaper, she tries to prevent the act from taking place. What fun. I pick her up, cheerfully announce “diaper time” and set her gently on the changing pad on top of the dresser. She rolls over. I replace her on her back and give her a toy to play with. She rolls over again. I try to pin her down with one hand while diapering with the other. She thrashes and writhes and squirms and
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  • 22 A Surprise from Day Care

    As seems to often be the case, Miss Mouse decided to show off her new skills for her teachers before us. C’est la vie. When Josh picked her up today, she demonstrated her new trick and then was kind enough to repeat it for me at home… http://www.youtube.com/get_player

  • 21 Leaps and Bounds

    Miss Mouse had a burst of developmental evolution over the weekend (further proof that the theory of punctuated equilibrium is true). On Saturday, she mastered the art of drinking from a straw and conquered the stairs — perhaps because both words share similar letters. Who knows how that wee brain works? Here she is, demonstrating the art of the juice box. She was extremely pleased with herself and very excited about her discovery. I had to pry the straw out of her mouth once the box had been emptied and then she was furious when she discovered that another one
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  • 20 Infant Gourmet Dining

    I’ll be honest. Sometimes, making baby food from scratch is a pain. But sometimes, it works really well. Like last night, when I was able to simultaneously make dinner for Josh and me, while also whipping up a gourmet baby meal for Miss Mouse to take to school today. The grownups were having a pork chop skillet with butternut squash, potatoes, and fresh rosemary (yum!). The baby was having butternut squash risotto. One good-sized squash and a big onion provided plenty of veggie for both recipes, so I just went on one enthusiastic chopping binge and parceled out the results.
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  • 20 My First Bento!

    Behold! My first bento lunch creation. Appropriately, it was my packed lunch on Saturday for the PASA tour. Contents: 1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich A raspberry/blueberry melange A handful of wheat thins Several cucumber and carrot sticks Analysis: Not bad. It was pretty healthy, although it didn’t conform to the 4:3:2:1 ratio (four parts carbohydrate/rice, three parts veggie, two parts protein, one part “treat”). The little box I used — which I bought for Miss Mouse’s day care meals, is probably a bit small. Although perhaps that’s the point, as one of the benefits of eating bento is portion
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  • 19 Tomatoes and Alpacas, Both Slightly Soggy

    Yesterday, several friends and I embarked on the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s (PASA) annual “Behind the Barn Farm Tour.” A variety of local farms were opening their doors for the day, including the farm from whence many of my friends get their CSA’s. It was only $10 per carload to see as many farms as you wanted, so five adults, one toddler, and a baby piled into two vehicles and set out. First stop was Kretschmann’s Farm, home of the famously abundant CSA. It was pretty fun to see the very fields that had produced all the lettuce, new
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  • 18 Do Dreams Go “Thunk?”

    Have you ever had that experience where you wake up with a memory, but you’re not sure if it was real or a dream? That happened to me this morning. I woke up with a fairly disjointed memory of a nighttime event. Or was it a fairly disjointed memory of a dream? Hmmm. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it must have been a dream… …until my husband woke up, came downstairs and said “Honey, are you okay? You thunked pretty hard when you fell out of bed last night…”

  • 18 9 Month Snapshot

    Miss Mouse was fighting a double ear infection and running a fever of 102, but she still rallied (somewhat) to pose for a few pictures on her nine month birthday on Wednesday. 19 pounds 3 oz (50th percentile) 29.5 inches (95th percentile)

  • 17 Gone Fishin’

    Ellie is an angler (that’s fisherperson to the lay people) in the making. Right now she is going for catch-and-release, but she’s waiting for that trophy. In her crib, or somewhere else, she will repeatedly throw her toy on the floor knowing full well that Mom will retrieve it for her and return it. She has some lures (that’s artificial bait for the lay people) that she really likes to use. They’re not Rapala, but they get the job done. The other day it was her rattle. And sure enough Mom could not resist those pretty colors and bit the
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  • 17 Bento-rrific

    As I think I’ve mentioned, I subscribe to Mothering Magazine . And, to be honest, I frequently consider unsubscribing because so much of what they cover is just utterly foreign to me. I never considered not vaccinating my child, I can’t quite get my head around the idea of breastfeeding a toddler, etc. But each time I’m about to nix it, there’s an awesome article that brings me back. This month, it was Bento Boxes. Bento (or Obento) is Japanese lunchbox art. Closely related to the tiffins I encountered in India, bento boxes are eco-friendly lunch-carrying-cases that negate the need
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  • 16 The Dreaded Blue Bulb

    When my youngest cousins were babies, my aunt would regale us at family gatherings with tales of The Dreaded Blue Bulb. It swoops out of the sky and attempts to suck out your brain. Run! Her kiddos were absolutely traumatized by The Dreaded Blue Bulb which, as you may have guessed, is in fact a nasal aspirator, designed to forcibly remove snot from your offspring’s nose. Miss Mouse is likewise vehemently opposed to the application of The DBB, and it is incredibly difficult to suction your child’s wee nostrils when she is flailing about and thrashing her head from side
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  • 15 Sleeping Beauty

    Miss Mouse’s ear infections (yes, both ears, again) woke her in the night and I went up to comfort her. She cozied into my lap and fell asleep quickly, but I kept rocking her for a few minutes, just looking at her. We hadn’t bathed her in two days and her hair had clumped around various bits of food she had smeared onto her head. She was damp and hot from fever. Some portion of her dinner had come back up and she reeked of baby puke. She was snoring softly, her formula breath wafting up to my face. And
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  • 14 Bring on the Bear!

    I made the most wonderful book discovery at Borders recently. They were having a big sale and practically giving away some kids books that had gotten a bit banged up. On a whim, I picked up a board book called Bear Snores On … …and was immediately in love. This is by far my favorite baby book (and that’s saying something, because I am an avowed Sandra Boynton fan). It has super pictures, a cute story and absolutely wonderful rhythmic words. Lots of onomatopoeia too. It’s enchanting. And then, just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I made
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  • 13 Yummy Dog Drool

    This weekend, I was not too busy pureeing a huge batch of mangoes and peaches to notice Miss Mouse making a beeline for the dog’s water bowl in the kitchen. Therefore, I did not turn around in time to see her lean over and attempt to take a big drink of the nasty, doggie-drool-and-little-bits-of-kibble-contaminated water. Ewwww. That would have been super nasty. Luckily, that’s just not the kind of thing that would happen in our house. Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and
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  • 13 To Cook or Not to Cook

    I’ve lost a bit of my zeal of cooking in recent months. I love to make food, but lately I just haven’t had it in me to make dinner for Josh and myself very often. I usually manage three times a week or so but I used to cook every single night. I wasn’t sure why I was feeling so culinarily apathetic until it hit me: oh wait, I am cooking a lot. Just not for me. I’ve been using up all my cooking energy on Miss Mouse’s meals. This weekend, for example, I made spaghetti on Friday night or
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  • 12 Mmmmmmama! (sort of)

    Miss Mouse has finally made her way through the alphabet to the “m’s” in her happy baby babbling. She’s been saying dadadadada for weeks but this weekend she busted out her first “mama.” Now, I recognize that she isn’t actually saying “mama.” She’s just making noise… …except that she’s saying “mama,” and so it makes me happy even if to her it’s just noise. Hee hee. Mama. I love it!

  • 12 A Dark Day for the Doggie

    Riley came within about a half an inch of losing his happy home last night. That’s because his teeth were about a half an inch away from the baby’s face when he snarled at her. Ellie was playing on him (as she is wont to do) and I don’t know if she pulled something that hurt or if he was just tired of it, but regardless, he made an extremely irritated noise and snapped in her direction. I yelled, the baby cried, Josh’s blood pressure skyrocketed and the dog slunk away in disgrace. And now I find myself locked in
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  • 11 The Great Bedtime Boycott of 2009

    Miss Mouse is waging an intermittent boycott of bedtime. I suppose if it’s intermittent, it isn’t a true boycott but I haven’t told her that for fear that she’ll step up the frequency of her protests. Wednesday night, it took me two hours to convince her to go to sleep. It felt like much longer. The problem seems to stem from the fact that she’s in a transitional moment in her sleep development — she no longer wants to be rocked to sleep, but she isn’t very good at putting herself to sleep solo either. The “no more rocking” thing
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  • 10 Fighting the Diapers and Losing

    I had identified the source of my pocket-diaper-leakage-problems: buildup of something (there were several possible culprits) on the polyester diaper interior had caused them to become water repellent. Armed with this knowledge and the consolidated results of a zillion Google searches, I set forth to do battle. I soaked the diapers in Dawn dishwashing liquid (which for some reasons is supposed to help). I scrubbed them relentlessly with a toughie sponge. I rinsed them totally clear. I ran them through the washer on hot with no detergent at all (twice). I washed them with a generous helping of Oxi-Clean. I
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  • 9 Early Morning Heartbreak

    Man, nothing breaks your heart quite like the sight of your child sobbing ferociously and crawling across the floor of daycare as fast as she can, trying to get to you before you leave the room without her. Arg.

  • 8 Spidey Sense

    You always hear that moms have supernatural powers — eyes in the back of their heads; extra appendages enabling them to sort laundry, make dinner, and wrangle multiple children at the same time; etc. It turns out it’s true. I put my own spidey/magicmomma sense to work at church on Sunday. Miss Mouse had been having a bit of a rough morning, but when I left her in the nursery she seemed okay. Then, partway through the service — in a quiet moment somewhere at about the offering, I believe — I suddenly became aware of her. It wasn’t so
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  • 7 Report from the Day Care Trenches

    From the daily Day Care report… “Today I was very lucky. While we were outside a little birdie pooped right on top of my head. Miss Karyn said maybe now I’ll keep my hat on (hee hee). Miss Kate read us a story today outside. I just wanted to try and eat the book.”

  • 6 Spoiled Rotten

    Well, Miss Mouse certainly had a good weekend. Well, in fairness, there were many many tears (thanks, new teeth), but never has a baby had so much love and attention lavished upon her wee tiny self. The reason was simple: Grandpa and Grandma were here! Oh lucky baby. My parents drove out for the holiday weekend and spent three days loving up our girl. I’m an only child, so Miss Mouse is The First Grandchild. And, my extended family is a bit of matriarchy so The First Granddaughter has made my mom in particular go completely wild. I love to
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  • 5 Pittsburgh Cloth Diapers

    Cloth diapers are awesome (as I believe I may have mentioned once or twice). The only problem with cloth is that you always have to buy online and can’t see the stuff up close and personal to help you make your decisions… …until now! I made a marvelous discovery recently. A cloth diaper store in Pittsburgh! I give you: Pittsburgh Cloth Diapers . This is a terrific in-house store run by a mom in Sewickley. It’s a bit of a drive for me, but it was totally worth it. She carries probably 10 or more brands of diapers — from
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  • 4 Update on the Veggies

    So, a couple days have passed and the “green shock” has mostly worn off. I think I’m doing a pretty good job taming the jungle of veggies that I inherited. We’ve been eating lots of salads (though have made only a tiny dent in the total amount of lettuce) and I used up the green onions in a chicken/nectarine salad. I cooked and whomped up the spinach, beet greens and chard for Miss Mouse, who seems to think they’re okay. I’ll do the same with one of the monstrous zucchini tomorrow. The other zucchini and the summer squash are roasting
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  • 3 Up and Down

    Not content to simply crawl, Miss Mouse moved immediately on to pulling herself up on any and all available furniture. She started standing on June 18th… …but only learned to sit back down today. In between, there was a lot of “okay, now I’m standing but I don’t want to be any more and what the heck am I going to do now??” fussing. She’d pull up, chortle happily to herself for a while as we all admired this feat, but then start crying until someone came to help her sit back down. Then finally yesterday she figured it out,
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  • 2 It’s Not Easy Being Green

    A friend from my small group is on vacation for a month this summer, and she asked if I wanted to take over her CSA share in her absence. (CSA = Community Supported Agriculture. Basically you sign up to receive a big old box of produce from local farms once a week. You don’t get to pick what’s in it — they just send what they’ve got.) In a moment of bravery and adventurousness, I said yes. I felt very green and savvy and hip marching up to the porch of the delivery point and picking up my big crate-o-veggies.
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  • 1 Reading Between the Lines

    Ellie’s Day Care sends home a daily “Family Communication” sheet, detailing what she ate, when she slept, and the details of her diaper changes. There’s also a section that starts out “Today I…” to give a brief overview of the day. These communications are always relentlessly positive. Every day, Miss Mouse has a great day, during which so much fun (!!!!) was had. Every day. Always. The teachers are also ceaselessly upbeat when they talk about the kiddos. For example, the babies are never fussy, cranky monsters. Oh no. They’re “sensitive” that day. Once you get used to it, though,
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June 2009

  • 29 An Evening in the Kitchen

    As I’ve said, making baby food is fun and it isn’t really that hard. It does require some advance planning and a certain outlay of time, but if you multi-task well, it goes pretty quick. Take tonight. Josh had a meeting, so after I put Ellie to bed, I hit the kitchen. First, I put water on for hard boiled eggs and popped in three. While those cooked merrily, I boiled water and blanched a tomato for easy peel removal. While the water boiled and the tomato did its thing, I peeled, cored and chopped two big pears. The pears
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  • 28 Taste Bud Development

    I love feeding Ellie. I enjoy making her baby food — steaming big batches of broccoli and carrots; the satisfaction of bagging up dozens of frozen cubes of food; the excitement of picking new foods to try — but I also get huge amounts of pleasure from the act of feeding her. It’s so fun to watch her discover new foods. So far, she likes pretty much everything, but it usually takes a couple tries. Her first sampling of a new dish is generally met with suspicion and firmly clamped lips. But by round two, she loosens up. Today she
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  • 27 Bink No More

    Josh and I have embarked on a quest fraught with peril. The ultimate goal? The de-bink-ification of our daughter. That’s right. We will undertake to separate Miss Mouse — permanently — from her pacifier. Don’t try this at home! It is not for the faint of heart. Well, actually, it hasn’t been that bad. I’d always had very mixed feelings about Ellie’s bink. i had visions of a bink-free baby, but that last all of about three days. So the question becomes, when do you pull the plug? I think we can all agree that babies with binkies are normal
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  • 26 Hi Ellie

    As you play this really short video, I want you to smile enthusiastically at