Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Importance and Intentionality

These are the two words floating around my head space the most these days.  I guess we should do a homeschool lesson on the letter 'I'...

I am still cleaning out our house.  Still giving things away.  Still putting things up to sell. Still filling up my husbands precious truck with things that I am deciding on.

Why? Why am I doing this to our house, to our things, to our lives? Why is this IMPORTANT?

1. My husband is a tall guy.  He has long feet.  He wants to be able to walk from the front of our house to the back without stepping on things or stubbing his toe on a piece of furniture that I've shoved into the last available wall space. I am tired of denying him this request.

2. Time.  It takes a lot of time each day to put everything away.  It takes a lot of time to do a lot of laundry each week.  It takes a lot of time to wash all of the dirty dishes.  It takes a lot of time away from the fun and good things.

3. Pretty space.  Perhaps this should be one of the least things to worry about but I agree with the idea that if your space looks nice you will be eager to keep it that way.

4. A chaotic living space makes for a chaotic brain space.  I like some chaos..when I'm feeling inspired and working on some art or some writing I like to fling things around..I like paint splatters on the wall and I LOVE our bumpy, knobby, discolored, ugly kitchen floor because it reminds me of enjoying life even if it means some fabric may get stuck when I iron on the linoleum.  But within the chaos there has to be room for tranquility and peace. If I have a messy art space today then I need to feel confident my kitchen can easily be clean.  If I've cooked a feast for 10 and used all the dishes and piled them on the counters then I need to be able to go into my clean art space and take a breather. My kids need an organized space to help organize their thoughts and allow them space to meditate and plan and create.

5. Life's fullness doesn't have to come from stuff (or food...a whole other post some day)...

which leads to INTENTIONALITY:

I try to be intentional with my words.  I love words.  I love writing. I love thinking about words and rolling them around my head arena.  That's why I love emailing and messaging on facebook better than talking on the phone- because I can think more about the words first...But guess what.  I love my family even more than words.  And shouldn't that mean I am even more intentional with how I spend my time with them?

I mean look at these girls!  They are so fun to be around, and adorable, and fun, and silly, and so smart, and fun, and they will never be these ages again.
And look at this guy! Well half of his face, because I have short arms..haha... This guy is so awesome, pointy whiskers and all! Why would I rather feel stressed about cleaning up and then have to spend all evening cleaning up if I want things to be clean for the next day instead of hanging out with him? Wait, I WOULDN'T!

Goal: Get my house to a place where Grant and I can spend 20 minutes after the girls go to bed tidying up and putting things back into place and then hang out the rest of the evening.

Goal: Be able to sweep my floor every day if I so choose- and not just sweep around the clutter.

Goal: Have a reasonable amount of regular dirty dishes..maybe eventually I'll get to having no dirty dishes at the end of the day but I'm not there yet...

Goal: Be able to walk from one side of the house to the other each night without stepping on something.

Goal: Be able to spend 5-15 minutes each evening preparing for activities with my girls the next day- laying out craft stuff, packing lunches, rotating toys as needed.

Goal: Entryway- 3 pairs of shoes per person in the entry at any given time.  Umbrellas. Basket for gloves, scarves, hats.  One coat/jacket per person in the entry at any given time.  One tote bag and one diaper bag in the entry at any given time.

Goal: Speficic art and music space for the girls in the back room....currently in progress...

Goal: Make a list of what's important for us as a family to do/have around each day and each week.  Get rid of the rest.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Can she do it? Yes she can!

There are four months until my next birthday.  And only 9 things left on my 29 things to do before I turn 29 list.  This is nothing short of amazing. I've already completed more than any other year.  Here's what I have left:

4. Open an Etsy shop - this feels overwhelming and stressful but I don’t think it should. I just need to make a few things, take pictures and post them. I get freaked because I make myself feel like this would have to be my entire life’s work outside of raising my kids of course. This is still freaking me out.  I had a bunch of skirts cut and ready to stock for summer but that season is over.  Now I have a bunch of girl's Halloween skirts cut and ready to sew...if I can get them done in the next two weeks I can open shop ready for the holiday.  I'm having such a hard time catching up my every day regular life that adding this is hard.
7. Make living room curtains- with the fabric I’ve had that’s just waiting for me to cut into it…peach and green and brown… The fabric is mostly cut and ready to sew! Trying to decide to sew these or work on etsy stuff or more sewing projects for other people.
8. Knit something, anything…it could be a potholder…I just want to give it a try. I may put this off for another year.
10. Read at least half of the Newberry Award winners since 1922. I think I'm close but haven't counted in a while..
14. Do the Financial Peace University stuff with Grant. At least once a week we discuss that we want to do this.
18. Figure how to make a buttonhole with my sewing machine.
21. Tie-Dye! I have a craft playdate set up for October so hopefully we will do this with friends!
27. Try a bottle of the Middle Sister wine that I found at Target but haven’t purchased. Maybe I'll try it with my sister's the next time we are all together...

I'd also like to add: Lose 20lbs.  Yep, it's out there now.  I haven't been taking care of myself as I should.  I have not been putting on my oxygen mask before helping others.  I've been stress-eating whole pans of brownies and bowls of ice cream.  I've been snacking on junk crackers and not drinking enough water.  And drinking waaaayy too much diet coke. I have been walking a few times a week but I should/could do more.

80% of losing this weight is going to be diet.  I've started to plan my meals better.  I freezer cooked a bunch of healthy breakfasts today.  I have to plan so that I don't get caught up in eating on the go. 

I'm also looking into figuring out how to make some gym time work for me during the week. 

I think I should probably start a food journal but I'm not sure how to work that out.

Mostly I want to make sure I'm focusing on healthy changes and never mention the words, fat or diet- especially to Zola.

Things that would NOT be helpful for me to hear:
Why are you worrying? You don't need to lose weight!
Oh just enjoy life and eat what you want!
Look at these brownies I just made for you!
Good to hear you're finally doing this.
I noticed you'd gained some weight.

Things that would be helpful for me to hear:
I've been trying to lose weight too, want to encourage each other?
I want to go to the gym too, want to meet up there?
I found some healthy recipes that I love, want me to share?

4 months until my birthday.  Lots of goals. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Inspiration Today:

Meet the Crunchy Catholic Momma.  I was introduced to her a couple weeks ago by my wonderful friend, Holly.  I am in love with the Crunchy Catholic Momma's lifestyle...leaving the city to live a simpler life in the country.  This is probably my husband's number one dream. (Right, babe?)

But it's her post that I linked to for today that is rolling around in my head.  We have a daily life flow...but I would consider it more of a loose schedule than a rhythm.  But I want a rhythm!  I've tried something like this before but only centered around chores and it didn't last long. 

I think my kids would love this.  I think they would love knowing what we are going to do each day.  I think they would love not being quite so sporatic. 

My issue, because of course I always have some issue with everything, is that I am an all or nothing kind of personality.  If I create a rhythm and then something comes up like planning for a party or a trip and I get thrown off then it is sooooo hard for me to reconnect with my plan and start again.  We have a velcro wall calendar that I like to use with the girls.  You can always tell when something has come up to throw off our mornign circle time because that's where the dates stop and it may stay on June halfway through August before I try again.

For today I will think on what our weekly rhythm should be...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back-Talking 3 Year Old For Sale.

I love this kid:
This is her riding at horse camp a few weeks ago.

But today she has refused to do anything I ask of her.  She's yelled "NO!" at least 12 times.  She refused to get out of the car in 100 degree weather.  She refused to get dressed. She refused to share with her sister.  She refused to go the bathroom even though she was doing the 'dance' and I knew she had to go.  She refused to take a nap.  She refused to let me hug her. 

Days like this are trying and make me wonder if my sanity will survive homeschooling.

But we are going to keep trying and hopefully Zola and I will hug and make up when she's done taking a break in my room.

I need about 2 more solid hours of planning to get ready for this year.  Zola has been working on some worksheets in her binders, so that's good.  But I need to break down all of our lessons into weekly agendas so I have a timeline and a goal.

I am also still feeling that simplification bug itching me.  We are putting so much time and energy into picking stuff up.  Some days I feel so frustrated with myself because I'm cleaning and organizing and picking up and I know my girls just want me to sit down with them. But if I take a day and just play with them then I the cleaning stuff builds up and takes more time later.  Where is the balance?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Teacher Planning Day

Officially I am still in the cleaning out process... unofficially I am totally annoyed by it and stuck for the moment so I'm moving on with my life and keeping plans to clear out more stuff as I figure out what needs to go. But I must add that we've found the less stuff (toys, etc) we have out in the living space the more the girls actually play with their things. Good to know but hard to live out. It's also interesting to see the things they most play with- a box of wooden shapes and sticks from the craft area, blankets and pillows, books, dolls and stuffed animals, art stuff and dress-up.

And today is Teacher Planning Day! My first one ever for homeschool. I am loving it and hating at the same time. My table is covered in notebooks, folders, lists, curriculum, workbooks, pens, craft magazines, cups of green tea, calendars, page protectors... I'm getting there but I think it's going to take more than one day.

I started out by creating a list of subjects and goals within those subjects- things I want to work on with Zola this year. (this year means from now until next August) I am trying to set a pace for us but I've never done this before so I guess I won't see how it works until I'm looking behind us- and that is a very scary thing. I want to be able to say that if I do A, B and C then she will read and know how to add and grow a flower and recite the 50 states. But really all I can do is take into account what I know about Zola and come up with lessons that fit her and hope she will learn. It's frightening and thrilling at the same time to know I am responsible for the things my kids are learning.

Once I had the goals made I made a list next to each subject of materials to use...

Goal List for Zola August 2011-August 2012:

- Vowel Sounds
- Sight Words
- Blending Letter Sounds
- Word Families
- Letter Writing
(Hooked on Phonics Pre-K Level 1 and 2, Kindergarten Level 1 and 2, BOB books from library?, worksheets, WYKNTK)

- Count to 100
- Simple Adding and Subtraction
- Measuring; bigger vs. smaller, etc.
- Patterns
- Sorting
- Writing Numbers
- Money Identification
(Cooking with mom, Block Manipulatives; use number stickers to order and count, pattern art, mazes, worksheets, WYKNTK)

- U.S. and World Maps
- North, South, East and West
- Presidents
(wall maps, president and flag flashcards, money, WYKNTK)

- Baked Clay Statues
- Famous Paintings
- Weaving and/or Knitting
- Sewing
- Circle Time Music
- Seasonal Activities
(WYKNTK, Art manipulatives, monthly self-portrait)

- Growing Plants
- Seasons and Weather
- Animal Needs
- People Needs
- 5 Senses
- Protecting Our Planet
- Magnets
(WYKNTK, nature journal, experiment journal?)

I have no idea what I'm doing for this yet... We have The Jesus Storybook Bible and love it but I feel like I want to do something more specific using the stories and I'm not sure if I have the energy to create it all myself. So....this is still an argh for me.

WYKNTK = What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know I was introduced to this book by my lovely friend, Ann, who did pre-k homeschool with her daughter this past year. It's a whole series and I had been checking them out from the library but just found my own copy at Border's going out of business sale. The preschool version is good but we've already done most of it on our own so I'm using the Kindergarten book as jumping off place for us this year.

This is not an exhaustive list but it gives me a place to start. We can add or take away as needed. And our co-op hasn't had a planning day yet so I haven't included those units but I'm hoping they will coincide with my goals to make our months cohesive.

I have two 3-ring binders for Zola. One pink and one purple and each as a Hello Kitty folder in it. I'm going to let her decorate the outside with paint, markers and stickers and one binder will be for math worksheets and the other for reading and writing. She will be able to do worksheets each day and as she completes them she will get stickers and then she can take them off the rings and put them in the folder.

For myself I have a binder with my yearly planner (I tried but I just can't get used to a digital one..I need it in writing) and my lesson planner and a folder for things I want to try or lists of curriculum or whatever.

In my lesson planner I'm going to break down the Hooked On Phonics and list the lessons to do each week- then we can decide as our schedule dictates if we do more than one in a row or one every other day or whatever. That way it will take us about 12 weeks to complete the Pre-K levels and hopefully we can start the Kindergarten levels in January. I think she's going to love being able to read. She's already sound-spelling words when we talk so now we need to connect those sounds to the visual words on a page.

We've been doing math around the house and Grant started adding and subtracting with her and she's catching on pretty quick so we'll work with manipulatives for more of that.

History and Geography is going to be new for us. We do some map stuff with our hallway wall maps and we talk about places when we go on trips but I'm excited about doing more of this and curious to see how she catches on. And history is just more story which we do love in this house so I think it will be fun.

Art and Music are already constants in our daily life so this seems like it will be easy to continue. I would like to do more planning so I have a list of activities and supplies in order. This will lessen the last minute stress of wanting to do something but not knowing what or not having the supplies on hand.

Science is mostly about nature and being outside this year. Hopefully the weather will cool off soon and we get outdoors! I know our co-op is excited about doing this together.

Bible...until I decide what else to do we will continue with our praying together and talking about God and learning some songs and stories...

Zola has also started helping plan meals and cook more. Last week she made pancakes for dinner- she mixed, poured and flipped and she loved that made it for all of us. I would like to find more recipes she can do herself to keep her interested.

I also made myself a binder of arts and crafts activities. Now when I see something fun online or in a magazine I can just print it or cut it out and put it in there and then instead of paging through a stack of books every time I want to find a project I have an easy visual of a bunch of age-appropriate things we can do. This should make planning easier.

Now that I have my goals written out I want to create weekly lessons for the next few months to keep us on track and give me less to do on a week to week basis.

Oh! And a great site I found today for my homeschool and other teacher friends: Donnayoung I read through it today and am using some of her charts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Step 3- Sewing Space

This is a hard space for me... I like to do a lot of different kinds of arts and crafts... Sewing, painting, drawing, paper crafts like cards and scrapbook stuff, wire working, stuff to craft with the girls... it's usually a very messy space and when it's messy I don't feel motivated to do anything.

I need to pare it down. But that is HARD. I went through my fabric and pulled out a garbage bag full to give away. I actually cried when I put it in Grant's truck. But that was a week ago and honestly if you ask me right now what's in that bag I can't even remember!

Here's my new sewing space:

I love, love, love that I can tuck it all in to this cabinet and close the door! This whole very large cabinet was given to me by way of a phone from my lovely friend, Elizabeth who heard our friend, Beth was getting rid of it and she got it from Sarah who got it from Julia who got it when it came with a house she bought (at least I think that's how it all went down...). But I consider myself it's one true love. This thing is a monster..huge and heavy and absolutely perfect for me. It seems to be handmade and it feels like me. Here's some more stuff I have in it:

The top cabinets open to show all of my paper crafting supplies, floss thread, markers, crayons, pens, pencils, a bag of mismatched socks to turn into puppets, cards, spray adhesives (must keep up high away from the kiddos) and some empty baby food jars and lids.

These fishing tackle boxes are perfect for holding my sewing supplies. It took three to house my embroidery floss.

And one for pins, safety and straight, small thread, snaps, buckles, bobbins, needles..

And one more for my thread. I made the compartments the right size for each color and have the matching bobbin in there with it! I used to have them all jumbled in a drawer so now they won't get tangled any more! Plus organizing my thread was on my to-do list this year so I can cross it off!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Step 2 - Toy Clean Out

I can finally see the floor!! We've been busier than originally planned this week but I've been working here and there. I've got three garbage bags full of toys in the truck just waiting to be donated or sold! 3 garbage bags!! So why does it feel like there is still so much stuff?!?!

Life still feels crowded in our living room so I need to do some more work.. Here's how it is right now:

The two pink bins are holding Duplos and the Little People dollhouse and park stuff. The piano should probably go in the closet for now with the other instruments, waiting to be rotated in a few weeks. The green thing behind the piano is the doll baby changing area and sink...thinking about also drawing some burners on top, adding some knobs and making it double as a kitchen... And the overflowing toy box full of dolls, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. We call this little table the 'fun table.' I can't remember why...but a lot fun stuff usually does happen there. The plastic white piece with drawers holds crayons, pencils, stencils, coloring books and paper. I should get rid of the coloring books because they rarely use them. They love blank paper but those drawers are smushed full of paper with one or two lines marked on them. It feels wasteful. There must be a better way to let them have paper and stuff without it being such a mess.

The overflowing bookshelves. I must stop buying cheap Target bookcases. This one was $16 on sale and we've had it for about a year or so and it's falling apart.. granted we do shove it full of books but I wanted it to last longer. I'm imagining creating some kind of reading corner over where the pink bins are and using this shelf for lighter and easier to manage things like puzzles and games, which are currently stacked on top....?

I thought about getting rid of all the Little People but they do like them. I think we just had too many sets out. So I put away several sets in this bin and put all the small pieces to each set in a labeled ziploc bag. I'm going to put this in the closet and swap them out as needed. I put the potato heads in here too. And may add some stuffed animals.

And I put 4 more of those pink bins in the closet. The contain: wooden blocks, kitchen stuff, more games and puzzles and musical instruments.

So that's all I've got so far... I haven't made it into the back room yet...and I still don't feel like I've thinned things out as much as I was imagining... Grant's pushing for just tossing it all out. We will see...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Beginning

This is what I'm starting with: Total messy diaster. We seriously kick a path through the living room most evenings in case we need to get downstairs in the middle of the night so we don't step on something and get injured. This picture doesn't even do it justice. You can't see the cereal crumbs and handfuls of tiny black rocks thrown out of the fireplace.
The kitchen/art floor... millions of slippy magnets everywhere. A big plastic kitchen that was all the rage for several months last year but lately is just a nuisance when we try to actually shut the door to the bathroom.
And the mess continues into the art/office/spare/storage room. Yep that's a big sand and water table on top of Zola's desk. The table obviously hasn't made it's way outside where it belongs yet. And those shelves are full of art supplies that would be much more useful if we could get to them. And where in the world am I supposed to set up the stuff for homeschooling???

Saturday, June 25, 2011

SIMPLE means...

less clutter. less stuff. less dishes to do. less toys to pick up. less laundry. less cleaning. less stuff falling out of the closet when we open it. less commitment. less fighting about it all.

more time to play! more time to rest! more time to relax! more room in my brain! more time to create! deeper relationships! more time for love!

There are posts on this blog that I've been meaning to follow-up on... there is another blog I started writing for then slowed waaaayyy down because of time... I have a long list of craft projects and homeschool projects I'd love to do for myself and with my girls. I would love to open this etsy shop I keep talking about.

This is very scary for me. But it is time. Time to make goals. Time to get rid of stuff. Time to lessen my emotional attachments to objects- just writing that statement makes my eyes tear up..oh my..

But what I love most in life is spending time with my family. And all of this stuff is taking up way too much time.

Deep Breath.

Goal #1
Toy overhaul.
:: To be completed this week.

With or without Zola and Niva's help. I am going to get rid of toys. I will assess what they actually play with and take out the rest.

I feel like right now they have so much stuff in such a small space that they don't play with most of it because they can't get to it.

I keep a lot of things out of emotion. Because someone special bought it or I have a good memory of the object with one of my girls.

But it's too much.

Grant and I almost cry every night when we have to think about picking it all up. It sucks. Even if the girls help clean up earlier in the day it's never totally done.

At least their birthdays aren't until the Fall so we will have time to really think about what they will ask for...maybe bowling or movie gift cards...or camp tuition... or art class tuition... we just have to get a handle on this stuff.

Kids need things to play with. Things that belong to them and they can use at their own will. But I feel that when they have too many choices it becomes overwhelming and they don't choose..or they don't take care of their things because they know there is always something else.

So here's what I'm going to do...

Go through all the toys and put whatever I want to get rid of into plastic bags or boxes and store in Grant's truck (sorry's a POD again). Leave them there for a couple weeks and see if the girl's ask for any of it. See if they play with what's left any more.

Why does this feel so terrifying!?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Walking Billboards

I give up. It's time to admit it. Time for a confession.

I am a crazy mom.

I had so many ideas of what motherhood would look like before I actually became a mother. I knew I would care about the things my kids ate and the things they played with but I had no idea I would care this much. It's intense.

The fuel for my fire today:

I checked this book out from the library yesterday and I finished it yesterday.

Orenstein puts into writing so many of the things I've been saying for the last 2 years.

The thing that's been running through my mind this morning is her question of when does choice hop the fence into coercion?

Do my daughters really get to choose the kinds of things they want to play with? Because that's the culture we live in today, right? Have it your way, pick and choose, manufacturing products cheaply in order to have more stuff to choose from... but if that's true why do we have clearly marked aisles and shelves in stores that pimp (Orenstein's word, not mine) pink to my girls and ensconce Lego's and trucks in blue for the boys? Why is it so hard to find blue or yellow or green clothes for my daughter's baby dolls. And in that line of thought why is it so hard to find a male baby doll in the first place!

If I allow Zola to watch Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella or Snow White or The Little Mermaid, does she have a choice but to love them? That's all she sees on her eye level at Target at Walmart at she has already internalized this idea that if you are a girl then these things are for you. So why would I perpetuate that idea by encouraging it at home?

Grant and I purposely try to avoid clothing that advertises the store from which it came. No white t-shirts boldly labeled, OLD NAVY or GAP across the front. Do we hate these stores? No. Do we shop there? Yes. But we pay them for their goods and we do not pay them so that we can be their walking billboards. I think they (and other businesses we use) do enough advertising without writing on us.

So why would we choose to do that with our children? Why would we bedeck them in Disney so that they can be walking advertisements?

This is a rant... I'm feeling feisty today so I'm bleching it all out right now. But I do know there is plenty of gray area. Murky waters... Zola has an E.T. shirt. She LOVES this shirt. I know it is essentially an ad for the movie. She wore it to school this week in fact. But the only people there who understood were her teachers. She also took her new E.T. stuffy to school and when she saw the other kids looking at it in confusion she stuffed it in her school bag rather than explain. Before the school year started her favorite color was blue or black... At home she still loves black but invariably if someone outside of our house asks her favorite color she says purple or pink. At age 3 my daughter my daughter already understands there are some things that are culturally innapropriate for her because she's a girl. (Seriously, WTF?)

I'm okay with her wearing E.T. though. It is a good story- about human (or humanized I guess since E.T. is an alien..) connection, about family taking care of each other. And it's not a brand. It's not a merchandise franchise just trying to get my kid to buy their things. In fact the t-shirt and the doll are it. There are no 3-year-old sized high heels or make-up kits with E.T.'s face on it.

A top Disney executive actualy told Orenstein that part of their Princess brand requirements is that when multiple princesses are pictured together they are not allowed to look at each other. Now that I know I'm watching and I'm with Orenstein, it's freaky! So why are we supposed to encourage them to role-play a princess who doesn't even have any friends? If one girl is Cinderella and one girl is Ariel, how do they play together? What are we doing to group-imagination? to group-play?

I don't believe that my girls came out of the womb demanding only the toys with pink sparkles. So why is that what I'm being told when I walk into a store, watch a toy commercial or check out Halloween costumes online?

I am not anti-princess. I am anti- the idea of princess being used as a brand to lure girls (read: any female consumer) into the land of over-consumption in the name of "I should" or "I have to in order to fit in."

I have some more thoughts on this book that will probably surface in the next few days...and not all of them are actually in her favor.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Etsy here I come!!! (#4.)

4. Open an Etsy shop - this feels overwhelming and stressful but I don’t think it should. I just need to make a few things, take pictures and post them. I get freaked because I make myself feel like this would have to be my entire life’s work outside of raising my kids of course.

I am getting ready. I am finally in a place where this seems doable and exciting. I've been honing my sewing skills recently and I've discovered that sewing feels natural and right to me- like an extension of myself. This is the only thing other than writing that has ever felt like that.

I used to make jewelry. I was obsessed and I amassed a TON of materials. I started a business in Miami and did shows and made jewelry for several bridal parties. It was fun and I loved the colors but I had a hard time coming up with anything original and I felt frustrated by that. My skills were good but not great and eventually I fell out of love with the craft.

Sewing is in my blood. My mom and her mom are amazing seamstresses...quilting, halloween costumes, wedding dress making kind of great at sewing. I'd love to be that great some day. The great part right now is that I'm actually enjoying the process of getting better...usually I want to be instantly great at something or I give it up. This is a good place to be.

Here are a couple recent projects taht will give a little sneak peak into what's upcoming in my soon to be opened etsy shop:

Piano Skirt made for sweet Sohpie's third birthday:

Cowoboy skirt made for spunky Emily's fourth birthday:

Monday, April 11, 2011

A View I'm Loving Today

Maybe I need to get some pink ones... I'm actually holding out until I can afford to special order a pair of yellow one star laceless chucks... my current pair is starting to crack around the edges and the holes are expanding so maybe sooner than later...

Check it out!

I just added a new page to contain my reading adventure through the Newbery Medal Winners. 10 down!!! Lots to go...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

# 2. and # 29.

2. Bake something with yeast. I am terrified of yeast. There have been disastrous results in the past…

I did it!!! Thanks to my lovely friend Kristen from who I borrowed a bread maker I have successfully made pita bread twice! And Grant and I agreed that it was the most amazing pita bread we'd ever had... moist and slightly fluffy and mmmmm...yum.
Next step: try to make a loaf of whole wheat bread wihtout the bread maker.

29. Start a garden.

Thank goodness I only pledged to 'start' the garden. I suck at gardening. I have one half-brown aloe plant left. Zola and I started 6 types of plants inside- peas, tomatoes, cilantro, basil, daisies and sage. They all started to grow. Then they all started to die. I transplanted the remaining peas and cilantro outside hoping for a miracle but they died too. I watered them, I sunned them, I loved them. I don't know what else I could have done.

When my friend Kristen found out about the demise of our first garden, she gave us the aloe along with a growing tomato plant and a growing basil plant. We had a crazy storm a few nights ago that took care of them...knocked the pots off the porch and scattered the plants.

Do I dare try again?

Friday, March 11, 2011

# 11

- Read the newest Dexter book and any subsequent books that may come out this year.


I read this in a couple hours one night after the girls went to bed. I find this series wildly entertaining but not something I would read over and over again. They read like good beach books to me.

One thing that I really love when I read Dexter books is that they are set in Miami and I'm familiar with all the roads and parks and buildings and agencies and culture he writes about. It feels homey and comfortable to me.

And Jeff Lindsay is a very funny writer... Dexter's inner monologue tends to make me laugh out loud. I appreciate his style.

The first book in the series is still my's what got me hooked in the first place. But this was still worth the read.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

RSV weaned my child; in other words, Why RSV Sucks.

Niva hasn't nursed in 3 days and 23 hours.

The last time she nursed was just after 9pm on Tuesday night. The next day she refused to nurse, refused to lay down, refused to eat and cried for 80 minutes straight. Double ear infections. Her first ailment treated by an antibiotic. But I wasn't surprised because the day before she was coughing and tired and started turning blue so we rushed her to the pediatrician where she was tested and a couple hours later diagnosed with RSV.

At least I understood why she didn't want to nurse. Her ears hurt. They gave her an antibiotic shot in the office on Wednesday and a prescription for numbing drops that we promptly filled and were instructed to use every 1-2 hours. Every time I put the drops in her ears she screamed for 10 minutes. We used them a few times and then stopped. FeverAll suppositories around the clock. And Niva still wouldn't nurse. She would ask by signing but then wouldn't when we got ready.

Back to the doctor on Thursday. Niva still not nursing or eating much. Ear infections are worse, one eardrum is perforated. My baby was so sad. Another antibiotic shot and a prescription for oral antibiotics to start the next day. And still FeverAll suppositories around the clock. Niva asked to nurse all day...pitifully shaking her hand in the sign...I'd get ready start to lay her down and she'd scream and cover her mouth and shake her head. We tried it with her sitting up. No go. More screaming.

Today she was back to her regular happy, mischievous self. But she still won't nurse. I had pumped the last few days and she was drinking it from a cup. But I when I tried to pump tonight the milk was gone. How did that happen so fast?

I know there are women out there who don't want to nurse, who say it's just not for them, who don't want a baby attached to them in that way. I am not one of those women. I've been nursing my babies, one then the other, for 3 years. When Zola weaned it was time. It was gradual, mutual and I could look forward to nursing the new baby I was about to birth. This time I just feel sad. Really, really, really sad.

It's not fair that my baby's last time nursing was painful for her. That she screams at the sight of my breast. That up until this week she was nursing 4-6 times a day and now she's not. It's not fair that this short time is over and Niva and I didn't get a choice.

I keep crying about it. My heart hurts. I didn't get to prepare. I didn't get to savor that last time. I feel minimised.

RSV sucks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Embracing Hippy-dom

i just succumbed to the shaving process again- my underarms and legs, that is. it was so long and beautiful but my preconceived notion of societal pressure wore me down with this warm, shorts weather.

plus, grant was kind of freaked.

i with i could get to a place of confidence where i could embrace that granola part of myself and not feel self-conscious.

i was a very prissy little girl...just ask my mother or see the pictures. matchy-matchy, giant hair bows, sleeping in curlers for kindergarten, the whole shebang. but as i got older it became less important for me to match my underwear to my outerwear and more important for me to find comfort in my own skin.

then i started going to concerts and missions work and even later having my babies with help from midwives. see the connection?

at these concerts there was always the group of grungy hippies off to the side, girls in long handmade skirts, dreaded hair pushed bag with a bandanna, barefoot, tank tops with sewn on patches. in the mission field i found women going natural as a necessity and at times to fit in with their surrounding culture. and then i met a mid-wife in training when i was pregnant with zola who embodied total hippy-dom- brewing sun tea in ball jars, giving second hand books as birthday presents, long hair, gentle spirit, beautiful. and she had the most amazing arm pit hair i've ever seen. (please don't feel embarrassed for me that i just admitted that, i'm not! it was seriously amazing!) and it was so soft! she hugged me one day while wearing a sleeveless shirt and if felt like the softest blanket imaginable was on my arm.

and i must add in, linda. the first woman i knew, loved, respected and admired who was a wife and mom in a generally uptight community who didn't shave and was okay with it. gives me hope of being a hippy within streamlined culture.

i've been through the princess woman phase of delicate jewelry and pearl earrings. i've worn ann taylor business attire and panty hose for work. i own a very traditional little black dress. i did the college-age jeans and a t-shirt thing for a while. i've been down the traditional maternity-wear route. and the post-pregnancy i can only fit into sweatpants and my husband's t-shirts routine.

and while these were all personality off-shoots of who i was at the time, i think it's time to ring in my season of the hippy.

i'm ready to try it on and see how it fits me.

i'm so glad my ever-consistent husband loves me because i can't commit to anything (except for him and my daughters) and not in spite of it.

A recent photo of me i like to call: Emily of the Barn.

And a little shout out to Jen over at Raising a Green Family for posting first and giving me the confidence to confess all of this hairy mess. Glad we are friends.

Friday, February 18, 2011

29 Things to do Before I turn 29 next January

I didn't make a list last year. Niva was born in December and by January I was in the throes of post-partum depression and could barely imagine making it through the day much less a list of fun things to do in the next 12 months. But we did all make it through! And today I am smiling and excited about the next year!

Here are a few things I'll be working on:

1. Blog more- shouldn’t be hard since I only had 12 posts last year.

2. Bake something with yeast. I am terrified of yeast. There have been disastrous results in the past…

3. Explore home school curriculums

4. Open an Etsy shop - this feels overwhelming and stressful but I don’t think it should. I just need to make a few things, take pictures and post them. I get freaked because I make myself feel like this would have to be my entire life’s work outside of raising my kids of course.

5. Organize my thread

6. Go on a date with Grant

7. Make living room curtains- with the fabric I’ve had that’s just waiting for me to cut into it…peach and green and brown…

8. Knit something, anything…it could be a potholder…I just want to give it a try.

9. Make the girls matching Summer outfits.

10. Read at least half of the Newberry Award winners since 1922.

11. Read the newest Dexter book and any subsequent books that may come out this year.

12. Homeschool the girls- I guess this kind of a gimme since we are planning on doing this anyway…but I need something on this list that I know I will finish!

13. Buy more second-hand instead of new stuff.

14. Do the Financial Peace University stuff with Grant.

15. Buy less stuff. Don’t buy anything just because it’s a ‘good deal.’ No bargain bins, dollar shelves, clearance stickers. If you don’t LOVE it or NEED it, don’t buy it.

16. Have less clutter at home- see above.

17. Get a fun summer haircut. (sorry Grant.. The 2-year long-hair stint is almost over)

18. Figure how to make a buttonhole with my sewing machine.

19. Make something for my new nephew! (to be born in May!)

20. Frame and hang photos of the girls in our main living space.

21. Tie-Dye!

22. Teach Zola to sew

23. Paint Grandma Boyle’s chair a pinkish redish color

24. Cover Grandma Boyle’s chair in the green and blue fabric

25. Finish Stevie’s owl and mail it to her

26. Finish Rachel’s owl and mail it to her

27. Try a bottle of the Middle Sister wine that I found at Target but haven’t purchased.

28. Make a reusable calendar to teach Zola about months, days, etc.

29. Start a garden.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Niva - 13.5 Months

Well I missed writing on her birthday so let's play catch-up about Niva:

She is so different from Zola. I'm assuming that one day they will get tired of me saying that. But she really is. In general she's always slept easier. Where Zola is calm, cool and collected (even keel like her dad), Niva is more like me, emotional, tempermental and a bit unexpected.

She loves: dolls, puppies, curious george theme music, any music, dancing, playing instruments, eating- if there is something red on her plate she eats it first, she eats her vegies but prefers fruit, doesn't eat much meat but loves grains and of course she loves ice cream, doing anything zola is doing, zola, hugging zola, looking for zola when we say zola, holding zola's hand, cars and balls, socks on her hands, kissing, babies, kissing and loving on other kids, screeching (i've never heard a kid this loud), figuring things out, climbing, books, milk, nursing, eating paper and other things she finds laying around, bath time, being outside

She doesn't like: when Zola sits on her, when Zola steals her toys, when Zola can't understand what she's saying, teething

This is a girl who knows what she likes and she'll let you know if she's not happy. She's fiesty and a bit wild. Grant taught her how to come down the stairs by herself because she kept wanting to do it herself and she was falling and getting hurt. She's always trying to climb on the furniture or use chairs as stools to reach things on counters.

She started walking at 9 months and can now walk backwards, spin, stand on one leg and she's attempting to jump but we haven't seen her get any air yet.

Words she says in context: Mama, Mom, Mommy, Dada, Dad, Daddy, La or LaLa for Zola, Baby, Puppy, Banana, Ahp for Apple, Biaper for Diaper, Ow for Out, Uh-Oh, Buh for Bye-Bye

Words she signs in context: More, Nurse

I'm so excited it's my first birthday!
Wearing the owl skirt mom made for my birthday.

Ballerina Balance

Loving her first birthday cake! (blueberry muffins with cream cheese icing)

She LOVES babydolls

She lets us know when she's mad...

She loves to paint, color, draw

blowing kisses

The best shot I managed to get of them in their Christmas clothes.

bundled up for the cold in Pittsburgh after Christmas

Her first toenail paint! She picked blue and you can see that she got a little wiggly!

She loves to eat whole pieces of fruit by herself.

Dear Niva Girl... You are amazing. I love watching you try to figure things out every day. Like how to get down off that stool you just climbed up on. Or how to take off your shoes and socks. Or how to take off your diaper or shirt. Or how to put that diaper on the babydoll. Or how to get that object in that box.
You are fun to be around and you make me laugh every day. Your dancing has taken on some new moves recently and you throw your hip out to the side and freeze- it cracks me up!
You make the sweetest kissy face when you blow us kisses. And the way you lay your head under my chin just so when I rock you makes me feel warm.
I love that you are sleeping so well at night and that you love sharing a room with your sister.
I love how gentle you are with babies.
And how excited you get to see other kids your age.
And how you yell DADA every time you see him.
I love watching you mimic your sister and I pray every day that you two will remain close and love each other and protect each other and be peace to each other for the rest of your lives.
I love watching you grow up...even though each new step means the end of something else and that usually makes me cry. I try to give you as many hugs and kisses as you'll let me every day.
I love you.