Friday, December 30, 2011

Get Your Facts in Gear for 2012

It is almost January 1 - do you know what that means?  New Year's Resolutions.  For most people, this means a time for weight loss, hitting the gym, and the out with the old, in with the new mentality.  After all- the typical 'I'll start my diet on Monday' phrase probably turned into 'I'll start my diet in January' during the holidays. 

In reality, most people, including myself, want a quick fix. The result is getting caught up in all of the popular fad diets and temporary weight-loss eating programs.  The problem is exactly what I mean when I say temporary.  These crazy eating habits and weight loss ideas will work for a short time- but I can almost predict that one cannot maintain it and end up gaining the weight back.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Breastfeeding Blues

There was never a question in my mind about whether I’d breastfeed. I was very passionate about doing it, though I’d heard enough anecdotes from other Moms to know it was not going to be easy. I just never expected it to be quite so hard. I think, deep down, I still expected it to come naturally for my son and me.

Within an hour of Jake’s birth, we did skin-to-skin contact and he breastfed beautifully. We were off to a great start.

But later, in postpartum at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, I was having trouble getting him to latch. And when he did latch, he wouldn’t stay on for very long. He’d just stop and start screaming at my nipple angrily. One of the nurses brought me a nipple shield to help, but this made his latch feel very painful. I wasn’t sure if it was an incorrect latch pain or a just a new-to-breastfeeding pain. Either way, I grit my teeth and kept at it hoping he was getting some colostrum.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What a difference a holiday makes

Holidays growing up when we’d visit my extended family were almost always full of a boisterous crowd of lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.

My mom is one of eight and all of her siblings have had children so you can probably do the math. Our attendance at holiday gatherings pushes past 40 and is rapidly approaching 50 as the cousins keep adding boyfriends, girlfriends, and children, to the crazy mix. So that’s what I’m used to.

Then I met my husband. He’s got little pockets of family scattered across five states, but in terms of holiday get togethers we reliably draw a crowd of 10 to 12 people. We get to stay here in town with an easy commute over to Keller to celebrate. Contributing to the family dinner is easy because the proportions are normal. It’s not hard to figure out how many sides are needed for less than a dozen people.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mommy, my head is itchy

“Mommy, my head is itchy.”

Ut oh.

Please God, don’t let it be...


Monday, December 26, 2011

Not a Crafty Momma

I’m not a crafty Momma. Well, perhaps I should rephrase that, lest someone attempt to call dispute that.

I do counted cross-stitch when I can; I can make simple projects on the sewing machine. I enjoy both of those things very much, but I find I don't often have the time I'd like to devote to it (ask me about the 6 unfinished baby blankets in my dining room).

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Rebel

We met Santa and his wife in the basement of the building. They had been doing this for a while. Today was our first time, and our children (then 11 and 17) were eager for the experience. We pulled on our sweltering Santa hats with the white pompoms on top and followed the big guy up the elevator.

The Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital representative met us on the pediatric oncology floor. We pushed our rolling tray of stuffed bears and tiny blankets down the hall and had to sanitize our hands at every corner. As elves, we were allowed to hand Santa the gifts but we couldn’t enter where the children lay.

We stood by the window of each room and watched the gentle man cheerfully make each child smile and laugh...perhaps even forget her or his pain for a moment. Some were so sick that all they could manage was thanking him through wide eyes and weak smiles.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Explanations

Christmas time with four year old, Preston, and 15 month old, Emory, has been tons of fun this year.  Teaching them that the real meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Lord and Savior is very important to us, but they are also learning that the spirit of Christmas is very much alive in Santa Claus.

Santa comes to visit Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville each year.  Preston first saw Santa in Stephenville at five weeks old.  Emory was 12 weeks old when she first met him there last year.

This year, though, was a little different.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What my children have taught me

Since the birth of my first child Lily (three and a half years ago) my husband and I have bent over backwards to entertain this child. Weekends have been chalked full with festivals, museums, zoo days, fairs, etc.  We worked hard to enrich Lily and to treat her to new experiences. The funny thing is, one of her favorite things to do is sit in the driveway with me and draw with chalk.  She also loves to lay in the living room floor with me and color. Lily has taught me that it doesn’t matter what we do or where we go, she just likes spending one on one time with me.

My second child, Logan (still a baby) has taught me so much in his short life. He seems to be growing at warp speed and he’s taught me to hold on to the moment and cherish all the precious time we have together.   He’s also taught me to relax and not be so uptight about everything. He brings to light the neurosis I had as a first time mother and teaches me that everything doesn’t always have to be perfect.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recovering from an embarrassing moment

In the past couple of years, T. has become very sensitive to what people around him think of him. He won’t do certain things because he’s worried people will laugh, but he’ll do other things because he gets good feedback from the crowd. But when he’s been embarrassed, it sometimes takes a while to try something again.

His class recently had a recital along with two other grades. It was a loud, busy crowd when the second grade class finally came on to do their show. T. had a role where he was lifting a poster board with a word on it. His job was to hold up the board when the word was sung.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby’s first Christmas

Christmas is mere days away, and so our first holiday season as parents is about to come to a close.

Many times during the last nine months of parenthood, I find myself wishing for milestones to occur faster than they should. I have wished so many times that Elliot could talk so I could explain to him why crawling on top of our cat and pulling out handfuls of his fur is not ideal, or that he was old enough to go out and mow the lawn or get up and make himself breakfast so Mom and Dad could sleep in for once.

But this Christmas season has given me perspective. Perhaps I shouldn’t be in such a hurry and instead enjoy the little things that have made this Christmas different from any other. Here is just a quick sampling of things we’ve encountered this Christmas:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Concert

I’d written some time back about my youngest stepson Nathan and his lack of interest in any type of sports.  He had played some baseball but wasn’t passionate about it enough to want to go out and practice each day which is what it takes when kids get older and the sport all of the sudden becomes much more serious.

In the past year, we have seen him try out an activity – playing the saxophone.  His mom searched out a teacher who could provide lessons, bought the instrument and we hoped that this might be something he really liked.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home-baked Memories

I feel very fortunate to come from a long line of good cooks.

Growing up, my mom and grandmother were excellent in the kitchen, and shared their recipes and cooking techniques with me over the years. My mom was (and still is) a great cook. You can truly feel the love in her cooking and she is always looking for new recipes to try. My grandmother was equally talented in the kitchen, and I feel very fortunate to have inherited her recipes. It is particularly special to see her handwritten notes about each dish. She had an uncanny ability to identify ingredients in something at a restaurant, and then she'd go home and perfect the recipe, usually adding her own flair.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas crafting through a crisis

I finished putting up all my Christmas decorations after three days, 16 Diet Cokes and only one emergency trip to Michael’s.

Putting all our ornaments on the tree was quite a feat and made me think about the fact that every ornament has a story. Probably the most interesting/pitiful/tragic story on my tree is the gaudy green felt bird decked in sequins and gold trim. It was my Grandma’s.

When my Grandma died several years after my Grandpa, the family had to clear out their house. Walking through during the clean out, I noticed that all of my Grandma’s ornate green felt birds had been thrown in the trash. These weren’t just any felt birds – these were the birds that had hung on my Grandma’s tree for as long as I could remember. Yes, the tree looked a bit odd covered in only strange green felt birds, but it is what I remember of their tree on so many Christmas Eves.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh the places Sam will go…

We’ve done the Elf on the Shelf for about two years now and up to now we really haven’t been very creative. It wasn’t until I saw some really creative ideas on another site that I started realizing the potential of the Elf.

The kids named our elf Sam. I don’t remember the why, but that was the name they came up with together. Sam had been hiding in different spots around the house, but he wasn’t overly adventurous.

This year, I decided that Sam was going to be a little mischievous. And the kids have loved it. As a matter of fact, this past Sunday morning my son got up at 4 a.m. to try to hunt Sam down. (We had a talk; I hope this doesn’t happen again.) They have been telling everyone that will listen that “Sam has gone CRAZY and doing funny things this year.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

To believe or not to believe?

My son is 8 years old, and as much as I hate to admit it, on the cusp of not believing in Santa Claus anymore.  Friends at school, commercials, movies, and TV programs allude to the reality of this jolly old fellow, but never really reveal the truth.  It only seems to make our children ask us “Is Santa Claus real?”

Now this question is usually asked with big puppy dog eyes and a familiar look on their face - a look of hope.  In the back of their minds, they are thinking “Please let him be real, please let him be real!”  At this very moment in time, we, as mothers, wake up the hamster in the brain to get running.  Come on … I need the right answer!

Friday, December 9, 2011

So much personality!

When it comes to raising a child, the phrase, “Time sure flies when you’re having fun,” couldn’t be closer to the truth! And at six and a half months, my little lady offers plenty of entertainment, day and night.

Like clockwork, she’ll wake up early in the morning (yes, even on weekends) full of baby talk. That sing-song sound never ceases to make me smile. So what do I do? If I’m not already up, I’ll hug her, give her tons of kisses (she doesn’t mind my morning breath), talk to her and check her diaper. Her Dad will usually prepare her food, and then run in and shower her with kisses (and yes, I believe she thinks her Daddy’s breath smells worse than Mommy’s). But she seems to enjoy the attention – flashing us a toothless grin, along with that signature dimple on her right cheek.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It requires faith

My husband and I started attending church regularly when we got engaged. We found a great church in Waco, one where we found a caring community that allowed us to explore our faith in a way that never made you feel bad for asking questions. Lakeshore Baptist Church will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where we got married, dedicated our first born son, and shared lots of laughs with friends.

When we moved back to the DFW area, we were church shopping for quite a while. We visited lots of churches before we found the right one for us. We had criteria we wanted in a church: not too big, intergenerational, a place where questions are welcome, a place where our kid (we only had one at the time) could feel at home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So Proud ... But Seriously, Go To Sleep

At eight months old, John amazes his daddy and me on a daily basis with the new things he's learned. One week he'll be tentatively pulling up in his crib, and the next week he'll be confidently cruising everything he can pull up on. What were just random babbles are now purposeful attempts at words. He knows "Ma, Mama, or Mom-Mom" will get me, that "Dada" gets Daddy, "Bob" gets him his bottle, and "Das!" will get someone to turn on the radio for a dance party. He also knows that "Hi!" will get any old lady in a restaurant to smile at him.

But all this new stuff apparently comes at a price - sleep. It just seems like yesterday that we were basking in the glow of a good night's rest because our baby was sleeping through the night. From the hours of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., John could be counted on to saw logs with no disruption.

But I sit here writing this at 3:30 a.m. We've just gotten John to sleep for the fourth time tonight, and I'm wide, wide awake again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I've been Googled

Not too long after school started (yes, I really am THAT behind sometimes - welcome to my world), I walked into the kitchen and Jacob said, "Julie, I didn't know you wrote for the Texas Health Moms." 

Me, perplexed, (but also sort of jazzed that he sounded...was it? Yes! Proud!) : Yes, I try to send them a couple posts a month. But what makes you say that, J?

J: I just didn't know. I saw Sam's picture on the "Room of His Own" story.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lookin' for love

My son and I had a discussion about how a man should treat his wife the other day, and it seemed to suck the air right out of my lungs. I tried to explain, but frankly, we all know that to learn how to have a relationship, to learn how a husband should treat a wife, you really need to see it. Not just on TV, not just once a week with your grandparents, not by watching the neighbors, but by living it. And therein lies the dilemma for single moms. My kid just isn’t seeing it.

It’s enough to make me want to find a photo from 10 years and 10 pounds ago, think up some amazing hobbies and post myself online.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Car craze

I cannot believe my baby boy turns 4 years old next month! It seems like only yesterday that I was carrying him in my tummy. Now he's a little boy who says and does little boy things - with a particular love of automobiles.

When I say Dylan loves automobiles, I mean L-O-V-E-S them. And I'm not just talking about the toy cars he carries around or the characters from that infamous movie. He knows all the actual makes and models. For example, any time we are in my car, he names all the vehicles we drive past: "Toyota Corolla... Honda Odyssey... Nissan Ultima...Buick LaSabre..." Yes, he even knows Buicks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Of Lice and Kin

So far this school year, my first grader has managed to avoid strep throat, stomach flu, and every other communicable disease known to elementary students. She has skipped steadily through the first semester with barely a cough or sneeze. A couple of weekends ago, however, I literally ran head first into an obsessive compulsive mother’s worst nightmare.

While on a visit to my sister’s home (who by the way also has OCD), we made the gruesome discovery. We had been wrestling with my daughter and nephew in the living room when we saw it. My sweet little girl, who bathes every evening at 6:30PM sharp and thoroughly washes and conditions every lock of her long, curly hair, was crawling with critters. It was all my sister and I could do to not bolt and run.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

He knows I’m an amateur

I think my almost 2-week old newborn can smell fear.

Jake has actually been a pretty good baby so far. But during his occasional moments of intense fussiness, it seems like those with parenting experience can effortlessly calm him while I stand by and watch in a state of jealous awe.

For example, my husband Brian – who has done this before 11 years ago – is like the Baby Whisperer. I feel like it takes him half the time to calm Jake down compared to me. And don’t get me started on Grandmas’ magic touch. Once you set him in the arms of a Grandma, it’s like someone pressed the mute button on his remote control. And he can stay that way for hours like he's in some sort of baby coma. Are they slipping him a sedative?

It’s hard because I’m his Mother for crying out loud! When it comes to soothing him, shouldn’t I be the best person for the job? That’s what I so naively thought before. But smart little Jake has me all figured out: I have no idea what I’m doing, and he smells my fear.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How epilepsy affects Lily

Lily's excitement at meeting her baby sister, Harper 

This is the hardest part for me in my efforts of creating awareness for Harper.  Our family makes a conscious daily resolution to maintain a positive attitude about the struggles we face.  It is difficult to pull apart the wall for a moment and disclose the emotion behind that daily decision.   It weighs heavy on our hearts to know that this burden is not one we as parents simply carry, but one that affects the entire family, including Lily, age 3.

As my belly size continued to increase and time grew near we began to explain to Lily that she would soon have a baby sister. One day we were discussing Dustin’s name choice of Harper and Lily happened to overhear our conversation.   From that point forward she referred to her baby sister as Harper despite our undecided name choice.  Lily’s persistence solidified the name: Harper for everyone.  When the day finally arrived Lily couldn’t have been happier!

Monday, November 28, 2011

First trip without baby

The countdown to Vegas has officially begun.

Four days from now, Nick and I will be strolling around the shops in the Venetian while I sip my favorite Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf beverage and we leisurely saunter by the stores where the beautiful people shop.

I am looking forward to our trip with very mixed emotions. Though it will be a welcome vacation – we haven’t had one for more than 18 months – it will be our first time to be away from Ava.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shifting to Christmas

Thanksgiving always passes too quickly. I love the holiday and what it represents – time with family and moments to reflect on abundant blessings. But it seems that the minute Thanksgiving plates have been cleared, thoughts turn to finding the perfect holiday gifts for family, friends and loved ones.

As a Mom, I take great pride in finding special gifts for my family to place underneath the Christmas tree. My hope is to not only get some items on the wish list, but to weave in some thoughtful surprises as well. Black Friday marks a big day in the rush to go out and capitalize on the deals and finding the perfect gifts.

All this aside, Christmas is so much more than about gifts, and the other things are what become cherished memories. My family has many holiday traditions. Some of these traditions have evolved as the children have grown a little older.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Memories in the Kitchen

Thanksgiving.  Turkey, dressing, yams, green bean casserole, corn casserole, cranberries, the list goes on and on.  Even with all of that, my favorite has to be the dessert – pecan pies, pumpkin pies, apple pies, peanut butter fudge.  Mmm…does it get any better than that?

Thanksgiving brings up so many memories.  When I was growing up, my mom and I spent many hours in the kitchen preparing for Thanksgiving.  We would start planning days in advance for the goodies we wanted to make for Thanksgiving.  Everyone in the family had his own favorite dessert, and we felt the need to make them all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving for the Working Stepmother

Last Thanksgiving was wonderful. I spent some good quality time with my husband while each of our 4 kids went with their “other” parents. We have a blended family, with no children together. This is our year with kids. Yes, I am excited…BUT how is a working mother supposed to handle the holidays with 3 different families? Both of us come from divorced families so we have to schedule time with his mother’s family, his father’s family, and my mother’s family. 2 years ago we “hosted” the big event at our house and had well over 20 guests from all of our families. Since then my husband lost his job and we downsized to a 3 bedroom apartment with 4 kids, 2 adults, and 2 dogs. Needless to say, hosting at our place this year isn’t happening.

Over the years, I have learned some “shortcuts” in dealing with food, scheduling, and those dreaded holiday cards. Hopefully, some of you working mothers out there will find these useful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Talking turkey leftovers

While we’re busy finalizing preparations for Thanksgiving, many of us don’t think ahead to leftovers. But once the meal has come and gone, leftovers will more than likely consume your fridge space.

There's nothing finer than a turkey-and-stuffing sandwich. But when that's been munched, turn to turkey with hominy and Mexican spice to beat the leftover turkey boredom. This is far from your mother's pot pie, that's for sure.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Patient Zero

When we first became parents, we were flooded with advice, so much that I probably only retained a small amount. One that I remember crystal clear was “Just wait till Elliot brings home the first stomach flu and passes it around the whole family.” Of all the great things people told us about parenting that I quickly forgot, this stuck with me due to my extreme aversion to vomiting. Although I have mellowed since becoming a dad, the act of vomiting is still among the things that I loathe the most.

Vomit was the last thing on my mind Tuesday morning, mere days away from my favorite weekend of the year (my wife gets mad when I say “favorite,” so let’s amend that to “one of my favorite”). In less than 48 hours, my dad and I would be on a plane to Las Vegas for a weekend of professional drag racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and reservations at the new Aria Hotel and Casino. If that wasn’t enough, the Rangers would be playing game 6 of the World Series the night we arrived! Needless to say, I was counting down the hours.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It’s Game Time!

My oldest stepson found a sport he loves – basketball.  I can’t even begin to appropriately explain how much time he spends playing and practicing this sport.  If the sun is out and the weather cooperates, he is pounding the court somewhere.

As I mentioned in my last blog, he entered high school this year.  Just as everything else in high school is a bigger deal, so is the basketball team.  There was no “sure, anyone who wants to play is on the team” this year, but instead-tryouts.  Not just one day of tryouts either-but three.  They were scheduled to begin on Saturday and end on Tuesday.

The week leading up to tryouts was of course filled with anticipation. A popular conversation over dinner and numerous strategies discussed between Josh and his father on making the team.  Then – it happened.  That Tuesday as I was driving home from work my husband called to tell me Josh had turned his ankle.  Uh-oh.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy holidays to the baby (not you)!

With Thanksgiving a few days away and Christmas just around the corner, my husband and I are planning our holiday vacations and deciding how to enjoy the holidays with the little one and make it exciting for her.

Our baby girl continues to grow like a cute little weed and her happy, pleasant demeanor is still intact, despite her bouts with ear infections and congestion.  A few days ago, my husband and I took a trip to Arkansas to visit his parents.  And I don’t know who enjoyed the visit more – our daughter or her grandparents.

As soon as my husband pulled into their driveway, they couldn’t wait for the baby to get out of the car. I walked inside the house with our baby girl and she was quickly whisked out of my arms and smothered with hugs and kisses from her grandparents.  Since she eats up attention, she smiled and cooed, loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Traditions

As a child, my family celebrated each holiday habitually every year.

I fondly recall each Christmas.  My mother would pack the car; we’d pick up my dad from work and drive with sponge rollers in our hair five hours to my grandparent’s house.  Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma’s with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. After a big traditional Christmas lunch we’d all gather in the family room to open presents, which were always clothes. My cousins and I (all girls- seven of us total) would each model our new Christmas digs.  Our fashion show would turn into haste as we quickly got ready for church and attended the Christmas Eve children’s mass. After church we would all gather again for a snack of the days’ leftovers. We’d play and sing Christmas carols and then giddily go to bed anticipating Santa’s arrival.

The memories of my childhood always center on holidays spent with my family.  I will cherish those memories forever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Past my due date

A conversation I had this morning at work:

Man at elevator bank: “Looks like you’re getting ready to have a baby.”

Me, smiling: “Any day now.”

Man at elevator bank, laughing: “More like any hour!”

I have conversations like this daily now. Walking around at work, 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant (so when I say “walking” I mean waddling), I feel like a ticking time bomb. I’ve learned that gigantic pregnant bellies are strangers’ preferred topic of small talk, so I’m reminded constantly of how much I look just like I feel – ridiculously enormous and ready to pop at any given moment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving: Indulge without guilt!

Did you know the average person gains seven pounds throughout the holidays?!  From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas baking to New Year’s cocktails…it is easy to add a few pounds.  So let’s check out how you can avoid common nutrition holiday pitfalls this season--starting with the meal that can leave you stuffed and on the couch watching football all afternoon!  There are a variety of Thanksgiving dishes that are scrumptious, but lower in calories.  Take a look at how you can “fine-tune” your indulging , making it easy to treat yourself without killing your waistline!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trying for an 11-11-11 birth date

Mid-February of this year, I was trying to keep my cool and bat away any baby fever urges that crept up. I’m not really sure why I was so set on the timeframe, but I was determined to wait until the summer to get pregnant. I told myself to savor the freedoms, the self-indulgences, the sleep, the selfish time to myself, the stuff I knew I would soon lament.

And then I saw this:


The date jumped out at me from this news story: Shooting for the coolest birthday ever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Children and sports in North Texas

North Texas is a hotbed of sports for young children.  They have so many options available to them, and the competition is fierce, and so is the controversy.

We started our son in soccer at the tender age of 4 years old.  Our son attended a day care at the hospital where I am employed, so he was not going to be familiar with any of his future kindergarten classmates, and this was a great opportunity for him to become familiar with them.  We also became good friends with some of the other parents, and established ongoing friendships that we otherwise would not have had.  We also enrolled our son in other sports – basketball and baseball.  We did not want to lock him down to one sport in particular so that he may become well rounded.  He found out on his own that he has an affinity towards soccer and baseball, but still holds a love for basketball.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sock sorting

When you have kids, laundry is never-ending. Whoa, sorry...I slipped into my Captain Obvious uniform for a second there, didn’t I? In my house, certain loads of laundry lead to confusion. How you ask? Well, don't worry, it's pretty easy to tell my clothes from the clothes of all the other occupants in my house. And right now, Sam's clothes are still washed separately from everyone else's so I can use the mild and oh-so-sweet-baby-smelling baby detergent on his clothes.

The confusion lies in the underwear/sock loads! Okay, to better clarify, the confusion really is the socks (as long as I can still read the size on the underwear tags, there's no confusion there…yet). Jacob's and Caleb's socks are finally getting close enough in size that I have to closely inspect them to make sure that 1) I make a true match and 2) I give the right boy the right socks. This adds to my already-compressed laundry time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Telling tall tales

“I went to four haunted houses,” T. proudly told his little sister during a recent drive home.

I immediately looked back at him. “Really?”

Guilty look. “Ummm….”

T. is scared of all things scary. He didn’t want to visit Six Flags because there were too many posters of zombies around. His uncle had an app on the iPhone that zombified pictures. H. loved it. T. didn’t. I can guarantee that up to this point in his life, T. has not visited one haunted house, let alone four.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Skills on the Grill

This weekend we made a quick trip up to the lake.  We had our boat winterized so we had to pick it up from the shop and take it out to the lake to store for the winter.  This trip included myself, Brett and my youngest stepson, Nathan.  There are many reasons that I think my husband is an awesome dad, but this weekend probably highlighted one of the biggest.

Grilling out is a common practice when we are at the lake, and this particular Saturday evening was no different.  When the time to get the grill ready neared, my husband beckoned Nathan.  He has done some grilling before, but this job was from start to finish-and it was with charcoal.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jacob's Montessori Nursery

"So are you still doing that bed on the floor thing?"

I get this a lot from my friends, who probably think I’m nuts but are too nice to say so.

While patiently awaiting Jacob’s arrival, I’ve been preparing his Montessori-inspired nursery, bed on the floor included. What exactly does that mean? This excerpt from “Montessori from the Start” by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen sums it up nicely:

The room is carefully, if minimally, furnished to address the four areas of necessity for the infant: an area for sleeping, for changing, for nursing, and for activity. Almost everything within the child’s room is low to the ground and each item will adjust to her changing needs as she grows.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Playground Politics

It must be human nature to want to create exclusive groups. Otherwise, why would playground politics start as early as Pre-K?

Recently, my daughter took advantage of the quiet of bedtime to share with me that a group of girls in her class wouldn’t let her be part of their “family” at recess. She wasn’t crying or too upset, but I could tell her feelings were hurt. Which, of course, broke my heart. “Elisa* is my special friend and she’s in Amanda’s family, but Amanda* won’t let me be part of their family. They said ‘Go away, Go away!’” she said.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A boy's best friend

John has a best friend and a protector - the first thing he looks for in the morning when he wakes up. His all-purpose word, "Hey-yo!" is most often directed not at me or Daddy, but at Bandit - our dog.

John loves Bandit.

Bandit is 13 years old, and part rat terrier and part something else fluffy and portly. He pre-dates me in our household, and has become quite the creature of habit.

So when we found out that I was pregnant, we did wonder how he would react to a newer, more demanding, louder member of the family. Would he bark all the time? Would he be jealous? Would he like the new baby?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pregnancy, the Flu and YOU

I know.  How mundane.  All the good topics to discuss and I pick the flu.  BORING.

But the flu affects millions each year.  And, one of the hardest hit populations is pregnant women. Why?  You have that delightful little one “wombing in” that lowers your immune system response.  And, pregnant women suffer from more severe consequences from the flu, such as pneumonia, because of decreased lung volume while pregnant.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ava's first Halloween

Ava is going to be a red hot chili pepper for Halloween.

That's chili pepper as in the fruit (yes, fruit), not the 80s funk rock band  with a bass guitarist named Flea.

Ava and her cousin, Landry, are sticking with a produce theme for their first trick-or-treat experience.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A mother's gift

Celia Winn Spaans with her daughters (author Samantha at right).
When I think of my mother one word comes to mind: JOY.

Celia Winn Spaans was probably one of the happiest, most joyful people you would have had the pleasure of knowing. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, but that did not stop her from loving and serving others. She cared for my sisters and me (ages 5, 3, and 1) with an open heart. When she passed away in 1998, we knew that she had gone to be with the Lord and was joyfully singing praises to him just as she had here on earth.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 4 Blues

Preston is three and about to turn four.  He has been daytime potty trained now for quite some time.  We were fortunate enough to catch that window of time when he was ready.  As for nighttime potty training, that’s a different story.

Preston has been wearing a pull-up at bedtime for a while now.  At first we didn’t really work at it.  As he turned three, he still wanted a cup of milk before going to bed, and we allowed it.  At about three and a half, we began noticing that he would wake up dry, so we started noting it.  We cut out milk before bed, and it seemed to work well.  There wasn’t a consistent pattern, but there were dry pull-ups.

Early in the summer, Preston saw a commercial on television for the “bear workshop” as he called it.  “Mama, I want to go there, again!”  He had been there for a friend’s birthday party, and he loved it.  Right then I saw an opportunity to strike a deal.  “Okay, Preston, we will go to the bear workshop if you can be dry five nights in a row!”  He thought it was a great idea, and we shook on it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baseball traditions

I think it’s so important to have traditions with your children.  When we got married, my husband and I blended our family of three kids.  Looking back, some of the traditions that the children remember most fondly center around baseball and the Texas Rangers. Every spring, my husband would take the kids out of class for opening day.   Now they don’t remember the extra work they had to make up, but they do remember how special they felt when they left school with their Dad/Stepdad and the excitement of Opening Day at the Ballpark in Arlington!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surviving candy season

Oh, Halloween. Classically a fun and exciting time for ghosts and goblins old and young -- the costumes, the parties, and...the candy!  It’s the one day of the year where you knock on strangers' doors and demand free candy. It's true that candy is a central part of the Halloween tradition, and little ones everywhere would be devastated if the sweet treats were removed from this spooky celebration. But the scary part for parents is thinking about what all that extra sugar does to kids' health, your health, and not to mention our teeth! 

Which perfectly portioned Halloween candies are worth the indulgence and which ones should you leave at the bottom of the bag? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween: To Be or Not To Be

While Halloween is not “the” holiday in our household, it is certainly the most talked about. The decorations and goodies are always a no brainer, but the costume decision is something I always the main topic of conversation or should I say… debate.

In years past, my daughter Kyah has been everything from Santa Claus to Astrid from “How to Train Your Dragon.” One thing that is consistent is that I can always expect the unexpected from my sweet little girl. This is year was no different.

I asked the question “what do you want to be this year”, and thought I was prepared for anything but she replied, “I want to be Draculaura, mom. She’s super cool! ”

Not having the slightest clue as to what she was talking about, I decided to refer to my trusted advisor, the internet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Did you see the size of that mum?

My oldest stepson entered high school this year and the transition has been full of new and exciting things-and some new adjustments along the way.

One new difference-they have slurpy machines in the cafeteria. This is one of the first bonuses my stepson pointed out about high school.  Next, he seemed to instantly transform into a social butterfly and we transformed into a taxi service for a teenager.  So many fun things to attend-football games, parties with friends, events at church-the list goes on and on.

Then, my husband started looking at his grades online and the taxi service came to a screeching halt.  School work has always been pretty easy for Josh.  He is a smart kid and if anything he might get bored with a subject rather than be stumped by it.  However, this is a whole new ballgame.  He is in pre-AP courses in preparation for college and some of the grades were not pretty.