Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wanted: An Easel

A few months back I was visiting my cousin whose daughter loved her wooden art easel. Together, our two girls played happily for a long time with the paint and paintbrushes. When I got home, I started searching the internet for a fair priced easel. It was a harder task than I expected. Easels come in two forms for kids: either they're huge, bulky, plastic, and expensive. Or they're simple, wooden, perfect, and even more expensive.

I try very hard to keep plastics out of my daughter's toy collection. But it's not possible 100% of the time. Plastic toys are cheap - even though they have been shown to be dangerous for children. Wooden toys are natural but very expensive. Little Olive only has a few of them. It stinks that parents need to take out a second mortgage to bring some safe, educational toys for kids into their house. 

But I'm not giving up on the easel! My goal is to find a simple, wooden one for my daughter under $20. I think I can do it. Probably not a brand new one by any means, but used is fine with us as long as it's in good condition. I love the designs by Melissa and Doug...but I definitely don't need a name brand to fit our needs either. For Little Olive to be able to express herself and use big/small arm motions to create a picture is what's most important for me. It would be a great way to learn about colors, about mixing, and even about sharing.

What are some educational toys your children like? What are some you'd like to add to your collection?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The first thing I'm gonna do...

The first time I was pregnant, I was fine. Really and truly, cross my heart. People all around me drank wine and beer and Mike's Hard Lemonade - and it didn't even phase me. My husband even "fasted" for the nine months with me. Whenever he was offered a bottle or can of something fermented, he'd politely refuse. It was pretty incredible. Even when I'd tell him, "Go ahead and drink - you're not the one pregnant!" - he wouldn't; he was just too sweet. Maybe it's what made not drinking easy for me.

This time around, I don't think anything would make it easy.

I'm no lush. I never was a big drinker at all. I attended three "parties" when I was 19 and that was about it. After that, I'd have one beer until it became even slightly warm...I rarely finished it. Warm beer is gross! I grew to like wine as I became older and developed a taste for the sweet, fruity ones. (Zinfandels, Rieslings, etc.)

Then my sister-in-law told me about an amazing wine, "Red Cat." I do believe I found a favorite.

This summer has been particularly hard with graduation parties, birthdays, and wedding festivities where everyone else was having a blast while I smiled and swirled my Shirley Temple. My brother went abroad this summer and brought us home a 4-pack of Bulmer's Irish Cider (which is a very close second) that has been taunting me from the kitchen.

This is the main reason I'm excited to have a homebirth. It's not about the natural childbirth aspect at all. It's because the first thing I'm going to do as soon as that baby is latched on and nursing away, is request a full glass of my fine wine. My delicious Red Cat that has been patiently waiting for me since January. Don't you worry, sweet goblet of red goodness. I'm coming soon!

And after that, I'll have a Bulmer's. Or two.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Real, Raw Milk

As you may know from my previous post, we drink raw milk in our home.

"Euw...." some of you may be muttering in your brains.

Don't worry, I get it. When you hear the word "raw" you think, uncooked, unhealthy, dirty, germy, unsafe, etc. You imagine a muddy cow being milked into a dirty tin can, poured into a glass, and gulped. (I'm thinking Napolean Dynamite style.)

But I am here to tell you why we drink raw milk. So before you write me off as overly crunchy, just hear me out. :)

If you ask my family, they'll tell you I'm the kind of person who sniffs everything before eating it. Spaghetti sauce, milk, cheese, vegetables, sour cream - oh trust me, the sour cream gets at least 3 sniffs. If food smells bad, I toss it. And I don't enjoy wasting anything, but food that has gone bad does not belong in our tummies.

Needless to say, I'm pretty careful about what I eat.

Buying raw milk was not originally my idea. My mom began bringing home raw milk from a friend's farm when I was a young kid. I tried to like it, but it was very "cowy" smelling and I couldn't get it past my nose. My delicious GrapeNuts suffered each morning. I preferred the milk from the store. It was thin, it was white, it didn't smell, and it didn't taste weird. It didn't taste like much, actually. And that was the point! (At the time.) Maybe it was part stubbornness or truly a sense aversion, but eventually the whole family went back to buying milk from the store again.

Years passed and she began supporting a local farmer by purchasing raw milk and organic eggs. The milk was better, I'll admit that. But a part of me was still very reserved about the whole idea. Raw milk...really?

It was only after I got married and read a book, "The Untold Story of Milk" that the reasons behind raw milk made sense to me. A lot of sense. Learning the truths about "store bought milk" turned my stomach more than the cowy smell ever did. My cousin and homeopath both told me about another farmer who sold grass-fed milk, and after tasting it, I was seriously shocked at how delicious it was.

No weird smells either! I'm serious. Even my Mom admits it's the best she's ever tasted.

The Untold Story of Milk: Green Pastures, Contented Cows and Raw Dairy ProductsThe cows feed on grass - which is exactly what cows are intended to eat. The milk is unpasteurized and contains no growth hormones. It's full of vitamins and nutrients. I'm doing some reading on the topic of milk and continue to be shocked at the current state of "modern milk." Just a few stats (all from the book to the right): 40% of cows that provide the milk we buy from the store are infected with mastitis; the average life span of the cow on a pasture is 12-15 years, but in confinement (where store-bought milk comes from), the cows live only an average of 42 months; confinement cows (due to high-tech breeding and feeding schedules) produce 20 times more milk than is needed to feed a calf, and this means a dilution of vitamin and nutrient content; most cows in confinement develop lameness and infections in their legs due to standing on concrete all the time, because cows are supposed to be in the pasture, on soft ground. 

Cows were meant to primarily eat grass - but in confinement they are given growth hormones and fed a corn mixture - because it's cheap, abundant, and convenient - not because it's healthy. Cows are not intended to live off of such a diet, and they are usually sick because of it. Yet people continue to think milk from these animals is great - just because it has been pasteurized. 

Another thing to know about store-bought milk is the ridiculous process of homogenization. This is when the fat particles in the milk are broken down to such microscopic sizes to prevent the separation of the heavy cream and the milk. Once the fat particles have been broken down, they can easily slip into our bloodstream. Milk that has been left in its "original" form is meant to be processed and broken down naturally by our bodies, and the fat particles stay out of our blood. Whole milk bought from the store is dangerous - not because it contains the most fat, but because so much of the fat enters places in our bodies that it was never meant to.

Another tidbit is that some people who are lactose intolerant might be able to drink raw milk because it has not been altered; our digestive systems know how to handle the right kind of milk. 

That being said, it took me many years to warm up to the idea of raw milk...but as long as we can afford it, we're never going back. If you're going to make any health choices, look into raw milk!

There's a great website out there,, that quickly sums up the benefits of drinking raw. There are many, many health benefits to drinking raw. There are also people who believe that it is so full of nutrients that you could literally live off of raw milk alone. (I'd miss my eggs and donuts, but if I had to...) 

If you want something more in depth, I recommend the book in the picture. (It actually takes you right to where you can buy it. Or see if your library has it. It's such a detailed, solid, good read.) 

Here are some great videos about the whole topic too!
1. History of milk
2. Pasturization
3. Homogenization

If you're going to buy raw milk, ask around your trusted friends and family circles. Always know your source and make sure you can talk to the farmers, get to know them personally, and see the animals. Make sure they are being taken care of and are fed well. Ask about their methods of milking and storing. Try to buy your milk the same day it has been milked from the cow. Support local farms and ask if they have other products you can buy. We always talk about bringing back the farms and making better food choices. Trust me, this is a great way to start putting it into practice!

Career: Mom

Are you a stay-at-home mom? Or a work-at-home one? Does anyone else get the feeling that such positions are looked down upon, instead of admired? I'm sure this is a topic discussed and revisited many times among moms, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

Growing up, I had dreams about my future. Depending on the day or my mood, I wanted to be a lot of things. A teacher, a nun, a doctor (for about two weeks), an occupational therapist, a Marine, a costume designer, a yoga teacher, a dancer, and of course, a mom.

I still remember being about 8 years old, talking to another little girl about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I told her, "A mom."

"But what else? You can't just be a mom."

Back then I could become pretty indignant when challenged, and I remember saying, "Um, yes, I can. My mom's just a mom."

"But my mom is a mom and she has a job."

I remember this very clearly because even back then, I didn't see anything wrong with becoming "just a mom." But apparently a mindset had already been pressed upon this little girl that being a mom wasn't good enough. As I got older and started to make life decisions for higher education, everyone talked about college and what they were going for. I started off my journey by going for two years in the Early Childhood field. By then, I knew all I wanted was to get married and be a mom, and stay at home with my children. I figured since there was no actual degree or training for this path, this avenue would at least help.

I'm very glad I made that decision. I'm no professional, but I learned different viewpoints and strategies that I apply to my everyday life with Little Olive. You are a teacher in every sense of the word. Not that it takes a teaching education to raise a child, but it gave me many ideas.

Which is why I get defensive and offended when people look down upon the life of a stay-at-home mom. When I announced to a well-respected teacher that I was engaged, she wouldn't even look at my ring. She wanted me to get my master's degree and become an English teacher. She knew once I got married, I wouldn't. But being a mom was something I wanted more than to become an English teacher. She understood, but the hurt I felt from her views on my choice stuck around for a bit - as if I had done something horrible to disappoint her.

I'm happy that I didn't go to graduate school and bury myself more in debt, when all I wanted was to stay home. I wanted this life, not because I'd get to lay around in my pajamas all day and talk on facebook with my friends, but because children grow up so fast. Have you ever met one person in the whole world who has said, "My kids grew up so slowly. Time dragged by." ?

No. Ask anyone and they will tell you the exact opposite. You have a darling newborn in your arms, you lay down to take a nap, and the next thing you know, she's a spunky toddler poking you in the eyeballs saying, "Weebean??"

(Weebean is how Little Olive asks for "one jelly bean.")

Deciding to stay home is not an easy decision. You know a second income would be glorious. You know "time away" would be great. But being there for your kids 100% of the time is irreplaceable. I have never missed a first, a milestone, or all the little things that happen every day that I consider to be amazing.

I wish our society would embrace this fact instead of looking down on the moms. Or pitying them. Or thinking we have it easy because we don't have to leave our house every day. Or that we have tons of time to do things that we want. (How I wish some days that were true!)

Mommyhood is one of the hardest, but most worthwhile, jobs ever. We don't get paid, at least not in money. But the compensation is beautiful.

Share the best thing about being a stay-at-home mom. Then, if you want, share the hardest thing. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Third Trimester Thoughts

Well, it's about that time to make my last trimester post. :)

...27, 28 weeks? When does the third trimester technically start? Seems there is no right answer for this.
...Energy is starting to go away. Getting tired quite a bit now.

...Little Olive's first sleepover with her grandparents! :)

...Opened a shop on Etsy

...4th of July - what a fun weekend!

...Had a couple garage sales - made some decent money for selling things we didn't need anymore. (Which is why everyone in the world should have a garage sale!)

...Had a couple prenatal visits - heartbeat was 130, 133, and then in the 150s. So thanks for confusing us, baby! :)

...Little Olive dislocated her elbow. Scariest thing to happen so far. 

...OMG OMG HP VII PT II comes out!!!!!!!!! 12:20am midnight showing!!!!!!!!! Okay, sorry. It was good...glad we went to see it! :)

...Two weddings in one day - awesome!

...Continued to sell everything in the house we didn't need.

...Took Little Olive to the zoo - she loved it! She still talks about the el-phants and yi-yons.

...Paid off my student loans 8 years early! 

...Had a dream the baby was a boy - two nights in a row. Then Ian had one about a girl. We are still in the dark.
...Gave Little Olive her first haircut.

...Moved L.O. upstairs to her own "Big Girl Bed" - what a step!

...Got my first pedicure ever - how fun.

...Getting ready to celebrate Ian's birthday this weekend. He wants a "Game of Thrones" cake. My creativity will be stretched to the limits. 

...Smacked Little Olive in the face yesterday with a plate while trying to get yellow jackets out of our kitchen. Mom Award: Denied.

...Have a bit of the pregnancy waddle going on.

...Absolutely zero energy, tired all the time.

...At 34 weeks right now. 

...Cannot wait to meet our little baby! :)

...Wish us luck during these last 6(+/-) weeks!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pregnancy Cravings

Have you ever craved a pickle?
Oh, us poor pregnant women. We get such a bad rap because of our cravings. People think we want the most disgusting foods - just because...just for a good story. "Deep fried oreos with ranch dressing" or "Tuna fish with peanut butter." Or just the plain, old pickles.

Pickles...they are so good.

This pregnancy, I haven't craved anything abnormal. All typical foods. The main thing is coffee. It always sounds and smells so good. Borders bookstore by us is going out of business, and they're selling furniture and appliances from their cafe and break rooms. Included on the list is a $3000 espresso machine. I took one look at the price and...(I admit) kept looking. But seriously. Maybe someday.

My mouth is watering at this picture from my trip to Ireland in '08. My sister and I ordered a latte from a cute little cafe in Dublin, thinking nothing of it, and quickly realized we had just tasted the gifts of heaven. It was definitely the best coffee I've ever had. So much that I still remember the soft froth, the warm milk and coffee, and all the extra sugar I put in. :)

Too bad it's 7:45 right now...I'd go make myself a cup. Oh, by the way, don't ever knock a preggo woman's craving. When I was expecting Little Olive, I really wanted to make grilled cheese, and then I added maple syrup when it was on my plate. My husband was hesitant to try it, but believe it or not, it has become a household favorite, whether I am with child, or not. 

So now I want to know: What's the most random craving you've ever had? Were you pregnant or not?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Puppy Love

Kila, 9 months

We just got back from taking a little walk up and down our street. It's breezy, hot, and still sunny. What a funny caravan we must have looked like. Little Olive insists on starting off in the stroller - which is totally fine. But about halfway through, she wants to walk. Which would also be totally fine, except she then wants to command the stroller.

She's very advanced.

So there we are...Ian in the front with Kila on her leash.
Malley next, walking backwards, pulling the stroller by its tray.
Me, guiding the stroller so it doesn't roll onto her toes.

After a few minutes of that, we have to switch things up. Kila doesn't do so well on walks. She still pulls quite a bit - sometimes she is literally hopping on her hind legs, trying get ahead. (To what, I'm not sure. Apparently the next 3 feet of sidewalk are so much better.) But we found a secret to walking:

We put Kila inbetween all of us. She's a little scared of the stroller and doesn't try to pull past it.

Today we were curious how Kila would react if we treated her like a little princess know, the kind that tall, blonde girls spoil in those cute dog carriers. We placed Kila in the stroller for a few moments before she bolted out of it.

Heck no. 

You saw nothing, she said, barking at the beagle a few houses away.

Too cute, little Kila.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our New Goal

I know I've been writing a lot lately about frugality and money, so are we surprised that I'm talking about it again today? No way! Hope along for the ride.

Recently, Ian and I made a decision to tackle his loans as early as possible. We have just begun the repayment process since they were deferred for two years while he was in school. It was a nice "break" - it gave us the wiggle room we needed to pay off mine! But now his have come in, and they are hefty. We have the typical 10 year repayment plan, but our new goal is to pay them off in 5 years!

I mapped it out and figured how much extra we would have to pay per month to make this happen. The amount is just beyond our budget, so with selling on ebay, etsy, and blogging, I'm able to contribute to the extra $140 every month we'll need to make this happen.

The number one reason we are determined to do this in 5 years is because the interest on the regular 10 year plan is over $10,000. Yes, that's right - 10 grand.

We know paying them earlier will not eliminate all interest, but I know it will be far less than the original number. I have heard that repaying loans sooner than necessary can affect your credit score This is something I need to look into. We have very good credit right now, and I don't want to mess with it.

So wish us luck! Maybe I'll give you updates every 6 months to tell you if we're "on track" with our goal! Do you think we can do it? I do!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Color: Green

I get to write a post about anything green-related.

Green reminds me of many wonderful memories over in Ireland. When my husband, who then was my boyfriend, was studying in Galway for a semester, I went for a week to see him. It was a really amazing seven days with him! We spent one of those days touring the countryside, seeing several attractions including the Cliffs of Moher.  It was just beautiful. "Rolling hills of green" couldn't have described the view any better. All day long we marveled at the gorgeous land.

Green reminds me of a beautiful little town just walking distance from Ian's flat. It was called, "Claddagh" - just like the claddagh ring. Sure enough, beautiful little shops were busting with celtic jewelry, enough to meet your every need. Apparently, there was one little ring that Ian almost bought me as an engagement ring. But I was content at home, proudly wearing a ring he had given me months before...

 Isn't she just lovely? 

Since then, my wedding and engagement rings have taken precedence over this one, but it is still so dear to my heart. I hope to keep it forever...maybe passing it down to Little Olive if she behaves herself.  Today I would have said no way...but that's a story for another time. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Potty Training Your Toddler
About a month ago, I was curious as to whether or not Little Olive was ready for potty training. She was so interested in the whole process. She'd talk about "pee" and "poo" and actually tell me when she was going in her diaper. I figured, What the hey, I'll give it a try.

So I brought her plastic potty up from the basement, and we had a nice little talk about it. She wanted to sit on it right away, so I took off her diaper and said, "You can go pee if you want!"

She sat for a while, kicking her legs, happily looking around the bathroom. A few moments passed. "Ah done," she announced, hopping off.

Nothing was inside the little potty, so clean-up was easy. We went into our bedroom so I could fold some clothes. Being the exceptional parent that I am, I left her diaper off thinking I could read her body language if she had to go at some point.

Well, she had body language alright. As I was off in La La Land, thinking of what a nice break it would be to not have diapers until the new baby came, I looked over at Little Olive. I was in the middle of folding a towel, and she was in the middle of leaning over, pooping on the hardwood floor.

"Oh no!" I exclaimed, rushing to get a wash cloth. Maybe this is a bad idea...

After cleaning up, I figured we'd just stick to our old ways. I told her to go get a new diaper, and she did right away. As she walked to the other side of the room where they were, she stopped in her tracks and looked at me, quite seriously.

I looked right back.

"...What are you doing?" I asked, nervously, going over to check.

Sure enough, she was standing in a fresh puddle of her own pee.

Oh, we are SO not doing this yet, I decided.

That was a month ago. Then today, I received a Baby Center e-mail with a great-sounding plan about potty training in 3 days or less. It certainly sounds very tempting. Little Olive is quite bright - she's very advanced, after all. I started to wonder if I should attempt the potty training process again.

But then... I keep reminding myself what I decided long ago about potty training. I've felt this way since before having kids, and it probably stemmed from working at the day care. In the toddler rooms, parents started training their children before (in my opinion) they were really ready. Experts say this is the perfect time, though. The kids will eventually learn and that accidents will happen and everyone just deals with the messes and mistakes.

I know a lot of moms who start this process around 18/19 months, and sometimes the toddlers pick up on it right away! Wow, I give them so much credit - both the parents and the kids. It seems like it would take a lot of patience to try that young. It's very impressive, and I mean that with all honesty. If you try it at this time and it works, treat yourself to ice cream - because you guys deserve it! As for me, I don't think I'll be attempting this for a while, and here's why:
  1. I would really rather change a diaper and have that be what's expected, than expect my child to go on the toilet and end up changing her whole outfit instead.
  2. I feel like I would be focusing a lot of time and attention on this training, and I'd be missing out on other things that Little Olive understands and enjoys at her age. I'd become frustrated and stressed out, and there would be unnecessary, negative emotions that I could only blame myself for.
  3. Several well-respected women in my life (including my mom) have said they didn't really "potty train." When their kids came closer to 3 years old, the children themselves decided they were done with diapers, and very few accidents happened after that. It sounds like my kind of plan.
  4. We're expecting a new baby in less than two months, and whatever training I have done this summer most likely will go out the window. Little Olive is going to need extra love and attention when the Baby arrives, and I'd rather cuddle her with a diaper than spend those moments rushing to the potty.
I can understand why parents might feel pressure or a desire to have the bragging rights among family, friends, or day care acquaintances. They don't want to appear lazy or their child to seem "behind". I'll be the first one to admit - I am so totally taking the lazy approach! And many kids aren't ready, cognitively and physically, to make that step toward exclusive potty and underwear until they're a little older.

Now I'm curious: when did you start potty training your children? Did it "work" - meaning, were they completely trained at that time? What techniques did you use? Do you wish you had done something different? Share your advice below. :)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A bit of a journal update

I wish I had something totally fun and interesting to write about. Unfortunately, there's just real life. Plain, old, boring, never-stopping, life!


This past week we found out that we have water damage in our kitchen. We were having a wonderfully romantic morning, cleaning our basement due to the cat pooping all over the place, when my husband noticed water dripping on his head. We traced it upstairs to the kitchen. Our fridge, of course, has been leaking recently. It's a rather old fridge, and it has given us a few issues since we moved in two years ago. Nothing urgent, but it's an energy-sucking box...definitely outdated and not doing its job as nicely as we'd like.

We're fridge snobs, apparently. 

So as my husband started to look into the issue, he pulled up the floor molding, and underneath the laminate layer, we could see warped, wavy wood.

Awesome. Every homeowner's dream. 

If it were up to me, I'd pull up the (ugly) laminate floor without thinking twice. I'd fix the wood underneath that has been damaged, and then put in a nice, new, hardwood floor.
Okay, it could be the imitation kind. It doesn't have to be "real." We're not rich homeowners, after all. But while the laminate flooring is easy to clean and hides dirt well, it's quite unattractive. Clashes with my pretty red curtains too. I'm trying to convince Ian we need to replace the floor. I don't think it will happen this year though.

What about the fridge? We can't just let the fridge keep ruining our floor. And even if we replaced the floor, how could we put a yellow-aging fridge on top of beautiful new wood? Well, we wouldn't. We're saving up for a new fridge. Nothing huge or fancy - we have limited space and funds. But I'm excited. I'm excited for the food to stop going bad after only two days and the freezer turning off whenever it feels like it. We're aiming for September...check back to see an update!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Things People Need to Stop Doing

What are your pet peeves? Today I'm going to share my top ten. In my little opinion, people need to stop...
  1. Going tanning. As Jason Mraz says, "I guess what I'm saying is there ain't no better reason
    To rid yourself of vanity and just go with the seasons." In the winter, be pale. In the summer, sit out in the sun. Don't pay money to give yourself dangerous exposure to skin cancer.
  2. Chewing gum loudly. Those little bubbles they make and then pop with their teeth - it seriously makes my skin crawl. You can chew gum as much as you want, but don't make a performance out of it.
  3. Taking full-length pictures of themselves with their toes turned in. Can we talk for a second about how unnatural this pose is? No, because we don't have to - it's that obvious.
  4. Taking pictures of themselves with their lips puckered and the peace sign on the side. I could write an entire post on this alone. But just everyone - stop. Young girls, older women, drunk boys. It is not attractive.
  5. Taking pictures of themselves with their tongues sticking out. Nobody wants to see your blue-tinted, teeth dented tongue. Keep it inside. Euw.
  6. Wearing Big and Tall Clothing when they're not big and tall. Wear clothes that fit you, no matter what your body type is. Girls, if you're a size 8 but want to be a size 4, your jeans aren't going to magically make you smaller. Trust me.
  7. Editing their noses out of pictures. Embrace your noses! Taking pictures from 5 feet above your face already makes your eyes look bigger and your nose smaller. So leave the contrast and exposures alone and keep your nose on your face. In a nutshell, don't edit via Picnik.
  8. Speaking of editing pictures...unless you're trying to recreate an authentic, vintage black and white photograph, keep vignettes, blur, and white mattes away from your photos. I'm no expert, and I don't claim to be. But excessive blurriness or "frames" make photographs look cheap and takes away from the beauty of the image. While we're at it, don't go overboard with contrast, either. Pictures like this do not look natural - they look cheap.
  9. Using periods for no reason except to sound like a robot. O.M.G. Harry Potter was. so. good. 
  10. Thinking it's cute/funny to be indecisive. "Oh my gosh, I don't know what I want" giggle giggle. Oh really. Because I'm pretty sure if you didn't have an audience, you'd have already ordered a Dr. Pepper. 
O.m.g. look at my editing skills! It's a nostalgic sunset with weird colors on the sides...

     Alright - share yours! :)

        Friday, August 05, 2011

        Everything Comes In Phases

        Something I've learned about life since becoming a parent is that almost everything is a phase. As a newborn, Little Olive used to cry once the car started - until we accelerated. Stop signs, red lights, slowing down to turn...they all made her cry. As long as we were zooming along, she was content. (What, did the inside of my belly sound like an automobile for nine months or something?)

        Months later, I couldn't put her down to sleep. I had to hold her the whole time. (I know, how horrible.)

        For a long time, she went through a phase where her normal bedtime was 1am. (This was rather horrible.)
        After that, she would only eat cookies and avocados. (I do realize this could have been worse.)

        This past month, we had a week of agony as Little Olive tested her toddler-ness and put up a 2.5 hour battle every night when it was time to sleep. She sang and sat up, rearranged her pillows and blankets for an endless amount of time, would get out of bed and sit by the door (where we were on the other side), or make up songs about popsicles or puppies.

        But all of these things, she outgrew. So I'm trying to just remind myself that she will outgrow certain things now - like how she puts rocks in her ears, or how she realized she could fit things up her nose just this morning. She's going through a phase where she wants me to hold her foot while we drive in the car.

        I'm not making these things up!

        We all go through phases. I went through a phase where I wanted to play the violin. Like, amazingly well. A few years later I looked into getting my teeth whitened.

        But I too outgrew those phases. Now I'm in a phase where I just want to be the best mom and wife I can. I want to make the life of my little family the biggest priority. I want to have endless energy and patience for my daughter (quite the challenge right now with the heat, pregnancy, and the cat pooping everywhere it so pleases), and I want to keep the house tidy, the rug vacuumed of all pet hair and crumbs, the dishes cleaned, the laundry kept up, and write little notes to the husband.

        This is a phase I don't ever want to outgrow.  Hair dyes may come and go, but love will always stay!

        Tuesday, August 02, 2011

        Keeping the little one occupied

        My husband is one of those natural dads. While he's working on his projects outside or around the house, he's so good at keeping Little Olive occupied with him. While, of course, she gravitates toward the sharp items and screws, steps in her path and hands her a safe tool. Once he shows her how to "fix" with it, she gets really involved in the process and soon takes her tools to a random piece of wood and goes to work on it.

        You know those pieces of wood need all the help they can get...

        I used to think she was too little to help me with my projects. After all, there's not much to offer while I'm at the sewing machine with pins and needles.  But when you put yourself in a new mindset, there's no limits to what you can do. I started to give her "safe" items from my sewing box, and now she feels like a big girl. As soon as Little Olive feels like she's helping, she acts quite important and stays out of mischief. As you can see from the picture below of her with my mom, she takes her little jobs seriously.
        Helping "Damma" make bread
        As some of you may know, we've been keeping busy this summer. While Ian's been fixing the garage, painting, and concreting the driveway, I've been doing some projects inside. One thing I wanted to do was remodel the kitchen - which to us means fixing a few things. This would have included the kitchen curtains. Ian really wants to paint, and I want to match the new color with some pretty curtains. When I scroll through the page of kitchen decor, I find about 50 things I would add to my dream kitchen, but I'm sure that will be a project for next summer!

        Doing things around the house has made both Ian and I feel extremely accomplished and proud of our living space. It's no wonder that Little Olive seems to be just as in-tune with her feelings of importance and responsibility. I think it's really remarkable, and super cute.

        Monday, August 01, 2011

        The Key to Parenting

        I heard a great quote a few weeks back from my cousin's late mother: "Half of parenting is getting off your butt and doing something about it."

        I laughed when I heard it and think it's true. I remind myself about this often, especially lately when I've been overheated and low on energy. For example, our Little Olive enjoys sticking pebbles in her ears...just because. My husband is always really good about telling her "no". But sometimes, I take a look at the size of the rock. If it's too big to do any damage, I let it go. If it's small and/or jagged, I say something.

        But isn't consistency the key?

        Sigh. Sometimes it's so much easier to let things go. For now, anyways.

        How do you draw the line between picking your battles and being too lax?