Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Character and Correction.

Let me paint a common scenario in our home.

From 8am-10am I am at my children's beck-and-call. I feed them, play with them, watch them play, tear out coloring pages, reach shelves with special toys on them, build towers and train tracks, read them books, assemble Noah's Ark, and give permission for markers to be used. They have my full attention.

At 10am I excuse myself to brush my teeth after my final cup of coffee. I sneak downstairs, and no sooner do I have the toothpaste on my toothbrush when I start to hear requests.

"Mom, can I have some applejuice?"
"Mom, can you get me an envelope?"
"Mom, can I have some yogurt?"
"Mom, can I play outside?"

Honestly, it frustrates me and makes me mad. At four and a half years old, behavior isn't a big issue for us. There is always room for improvement, but generally the boundaries are defined and followed. Our bigger problem these days lies not with correction, but with character.

And at the moment, we have a pretty demanding character in the house right now.

That's not to say that Luke isn't a sweetheart and incredibly helpful--he is! But now, giving all I can only to be pestered the second I am diverted is taking its toll. The difficulty is that, unlike obedience, teaching a child to be generous and selfless is not easy! And me getting angry about isn't helping!

Last night at dinner our family had a long talk about how we could enhance the character and attitudes of its small members. How can we teach a child to put others before himself when children are hardwired to be self-centered? After much prayer, reading, and reflection, I still don't have the answers, but we are still going to try!

What do I want? The scenario above happened yesterday, as well as countless others ones while I was a) on the phone b) preparing dinner c) changing a dirty diaper, etc. At four, he can't see that I am busy and that I have bigger priorities than setting up the watercolors. I want him to see that; to recognize that others in the family need to come before himself at times.

And I want to teach the children this without yelling at him about how much there is to do. Why make him feel rotten when he doesn't have the capacity yet to put others ahead of himself?

I am beginning to realize now, that while the toddler years are incredibly time-consuming, requiring constant correction, that the school years are going be more challenging, simply because character is tougher to enforce than obedience.

We begin the journey...

Doings.

Today I have baby on the brain. Specifically, I'm researching carseats.

Yuck.

We currently have four child restraints, one infant rear-facing, two forward facing, and one big boy high-backed booster. The second forward facing carseat was promptly given to my mom as a spare after about three weeks of use. It was awful.

Honestly, we don't really have the "best of the best" as far as child restraints go. I admittedly have purchased all of them from Wal-Mart or Target, and I'm certain that they don't rank high on safety. But, they work for us.

The biggest problem I have with carseats, is that neither of our boys have liked the car. For the first year of rear-facing life we can basically expect the baby to be screaming the entire time. It's honestly really difficult on everyone, not to mention very frustrating every time we leave the house.

Researching carseats, I am amazed, or maybe shocked, at how expensive high-quality carseats are. They are well over $200! Are they worth it? Are babies more comfortable in them? Do they scream less? Are they easier for mom? I seriously have anxiety about our new baby screaming in the car all summer, and if a carseat actually made a difference, I would seriously consider upgrading, especially since ours is almost "expired" anyway. But, are they really worth all that money?

Thoughts?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Update.

Our two female Newfies, who have until now renamed nameless, finally have names.

We have one who we've been referring to as "Big Fatty," because she's bigger than the other one. Her name is Big Ginger.

The smaller one is named Barley.

Yes, both are references to alcohol, as was our last dog, Stout. Why? I don't know? It's not a requirement of mine, but a certain husband in the house has a complex about dogs named after alcohol.

Barley (and hops) is what is fermented to make alcohol. Big Ginger is a signature drink at a famous bar called "The Local" in St. Paul.

There you have it!

Big Ginger and Barley.

Baby, it's cold.

It's -22 outside right now. That's the actual temperature, not including the wind chill.

We didn't have a whole heck of a lot planned for today, but our trip to the hardware store has been promptly cancelled. The air is so bitter cold that it's difficult to breathe. I have no intention of changing the kids out of their fleece-footed pajamas, with the exception of them taking a warm bath, only to go back into fleece jammies.

This morning we made apple-cinnamon muffins and left the oven door open long after they were done. The washer and dryer will be in use all day to keep the warm air in the house.

We're homebound. The coffee's on and our Keurig is stocked with hot chocolate.

Anyone wanna' come over for a playdate in the tundra?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mama Drama.

I was in the hospital all day yesterday. Nothing big, really. In fact, had things gone the way they should have, I should have been home after two hours.

On Tuesday night I began vomiting. An hour later Luke woke up with vomit all over his sheets. My night was over, and from 10pm until 6am, I was sitting on the toilet with a bucket in hand. Fortunately, Luke was able to sleep for a few hours between his vomiting, but no such luck for me.

Being pregnant with the stomach flu, I realize, is my greatest pregnancy hurdle. You see, this has happened before when I was pregnant with Paul. Everyone else pukes and feels lousy, but then seem to bounce back pretty quickly. Not me. And by 6am it was time to go in for fluids.

Again, this isn't all that big of a deal. Pregnant women can get dehydrated easily when they are as sick as I was. This is dangerous for the mother and the baby, so I figure that someone like me walking through the doors of the hospital looks pretty standard. Let's fill her up with fluids and get her some rest. Let's do it now so we don't have a bigger problem (like pre-term labor) on our hands.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case yesterday. I was told later by the Director of Nursing that I was "brushed-aside," and an Ob/Gyn who came into my room later apologized for my "poor" and "substandard" care.

What had happened was that I had a nurse would didn't do her job. I hate to write that, because I have a great amount of respect and admiration for nurses. They get pushed around by patients and hospital staff, and have to a huge job to fill. Nurses, more times than not, end up being my heroes.

The problem is that this nurse didn't do her job. Tired, weak, dehydrated, with very low blood pressure, for four hour and half hours I lay in a bed with absolutely no treatment or monitoring, being told over and over again that I was waiting on "orders." All of this I found confusing, since in my past experience, getting orders for something as simple as fluids has seemed pretty simple to do. I'm not a "frequent flyer" at hospitals, not a complainer or drug seeker, and I go out of my way to be as kind as I can to the staff. So I laid there exhausted in bed wondering what I was doing wrong. Did they think I was faking? Did the doctor get whisked away to an emergency?

After four and a half hours I called Mark and we decided that I needed to leave. We'd go to another hospital. Heck, we'd drive two hours to our hometown hospital if we needed to. Or, as Mark put, he could take better care of me at home than they were doing there. As I calmly and politely told a different nurse that I was going to receive care elsewhere, she agreed that something had gone wrong. I dressed to leave when the Director of Nursing came in and began apologizing left and right. Immediately a tray of popsicles, broth, 7up and water were brought into my room, as well as a fetal monitor and IV pole. A new nurse was assigned to my care. It took much convincing, because I honestly wanted to get as far away from the hospital as I could, but the DON was able to get me to stay for fluids just as Mark showed up with the kids to bring me home.

The DON explained that as soon as I was gowned (at 7am) that I should have been given an IV, that there are standing orders for this situation, and that giving a pregnant women fluids is as standard for an OB nurse as taking blood pressure. The nurse simply didn't do her job. At all. It didn't matter to her that I hadn't slept in 24 hours, was dehydrated, and wasn't able to keep anything down. She just lied to me, telling me every hour that she was waiting for the doctor to see me and give orders.

A bit later an Ob/Gyn came in. She was very caring and concerned and even wanted to admit me, which I found funny since it had appeared that for the first half of the day that no one was the least bit concerned about my or my baby's health. I didn't stay and got home at 3:30. Neither she or the DON made any excuses for the nurse's conduct, and with no prompting from me, took full responsibility for the incident and said that my care was completely unacceptable.

Today I'm feeling a lot better. I'm still a little weak and have little to no appetite. What I'm most concerned about now is that I have to deliver a baby in April and that the hospital nearest to us is one I have little faith in. I kindly told Quality Management this morning that I would rather be induced two hours away at our hometown hospital than to step foot into this hospital again.

Who could blame me?

Today I'm thankful to be home with my little boys again. I'm also thankful that I have very healthy pregnancies that require little to no time in the hospital. I'm thankful that what happened yesterday wasn't my fault or anything I caused or could have prevented. I'm thankful that I have the freedom to make health decisions, and if I please, have the freedom to deliver where I please.

Prayers for a peaceful Friday!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Addiction.

I'm a fortunate person. I can have an occasional drink, I've been known to puff on a cigar with Mark after mowing the lawn, and I'm not at all tempted by drugs or gambling. Lent is even tricky for me, because while at times during my life I've religiously drank a diet coke, or eaten pretzels everyday, it's not a big deal to give it up.

At this point in my life, there's just one thing. Only one thing, really. But it's big. And, it's two-fold. First off, it's coffee. Not just any coffee, but good coffee. Fresh ground from whole beans, gold-filtered, and in a thermal pot. I'm spoiled. Every. Single. Morning.

The second part of it is a little more ridiculous. I love Coffee Mate. Love, Love, Love it. I spend more on Coffee Mate in a week than on milk. In fact, I buy it by the half gallon and often travel with it if I'm bound to wake up in a place where the French Vanilla Coffee Mate has gone dry. No other flavor nor brand will do.

No exaggeration, it's quite the addiction. I've even talked to a friend priest of ours if something so enjoyable and necessary to my day would be something that I should be giving up for Lent one of these years. He thought about it for a minute, explained that he himself had been in the same predicament, when a wise priest had told him that giving up something like that up would have such a effect on the functionality of the person (i.e. me) that it would put others in the near occasion of sin. Of course, it was kinda a joke, but for the time being, I'm off the hook.

Last weekend we traveled back to our hometown to visit our families, and along with the dogs, children, and other required packing, the Coffee Mate sat in the front seat with me. At the end of the weekend while we were packing to head north, little Paulie was sick, and while I normally would never let such a travesty befall, I forgot the Coffee Mate in the midst of distraction.

Bummer.

For the last three days I've been choking down my closest alternative: half and half with sugar. I'm trying. Trying! To enjoy it as much as my French Vanilla, but it's still falling a distant second. The truth is that Coffee Mate is not only high in calories, it also has trans fat and is totally non-dairy. It's made from soybean oil, sugar, and trans fat. I know it's not healthy, but like most addiction, I just don't care. Today is be my third day on my organic half and half and unbleached organic sugar in my coffee. Bleh!

I want this to work. I'll let you know if an intervention is necessary.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hairy.

I've never quite mastered grooming my two children properly. While they have no fear of the Abominable Snowman, the Sheriff of Nottingham or a vicious T-Rex, they are terrified of going to get their haircut. As a result, I don't take them as frequently as I should.

This is a problem. You see, if I may brag, my boys have some very nice hair. Really, it's a pity they're boys, and I figure that while my boys have had thick, dark, and curly hair nearly from birth, if I ever have a girl, fate would make her bald 'till three. Yes, the boys have some mighty beautiful hair that needs frequent trimming.

When Mark and I were engaged I bought a set of hair clipper and attempted multiple times to cut his hair. While I'd like to blame the clippers for the numerous lightening bolts carved into his scalp, I have to admit that it's just something I'm not very good at. A few years later when I tried to cut Luke's hair, he ended up screaming because the motor on the clippers had lost its juice and was catching on his hair. He ended up with a buzz cut at 18 months old. With Paul, I used a handy-dandy pair of hair cutting shears starting at 8 weeks old to trim the bangs that were getting caught in his eyes. Now at 20 months, the scissors have most recently turned his hair into multiple mismatched sections of differently-lengthened hair. It's looks atrocious.

Something needs doing. Especially before Christmas. In my Amazon cart as I type, a Chrome Wahl home hair clipping set sit. It's supposed to be the Cadillac of hair trimming. If I order it today, it will be here tomorrow.

In the meantime, it's a good thing it's cold outside, because my kids aren't going out in public unless they're wearing hats. Good thing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A boy!!

We found out on Friday that we're having our third boy! This is probably not news to (most) people who read this blog, as I announced our happy news on Facebook and have been gushing about it ever since.

We are thrilled. Probably me more than anyone, as I've been carrying this mysterious person for the last five months without knowing a lot about him. At least now I can call him, "him." And, after four and a half years of trying to figure out little boys, I finally feel that the third time around I may actually know a thing or two.

Really though, it comes down to this. I'm a simple woman, and I believe that God creates and knows us better than ourselves. I trust God. I trust that God knows my heart and its needs, and that God knows my strengths and imperfections. I trust that God has surrounded me with the raising of men for my own sanctification. I trust that His path is blessed, and so how could I be anything but happy with it?

We have been so blessed.

April cannot come soon enough :-) .

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Day.

Tomorrow is a big day. One that we've waited 20 weeks for.

Yes, that day! The day we find out if we get a little Sally or a Chomper St. Michael (Luke's name choices).

I go into ultrasounds with a mix of excitement and anxiety. An ultrasound is first and foremost diagnostic, not some fun game of searching for a gender. As hard as I try, the stress of the diagnostic aspect of an ultrasound can take over the excitement of finding out if we're having a boy or girl. I should really worry less about things outside of my control!

Now, we have two boys. They are wonderful. For those who don't know ultrasound etiquette, or for those who have dealt with a similar situation, let me just preface a few things.

First of all, even though we already have two boys, we are not "hoping" for a girl. We will not be disappointed if we have 3 boys, nor would be more excited if the third was a girl. So please, once the gender of the third is announced, it is important not to insinuate that we are more or less pleased with the outcome. We are truly indifferent and will be equally happy with a boy or a girl. Nothing peeves me more than people assuming that the gender of our children is of any import to us. Further, that the only function of our third child is simply to "try" for a girl. Ugh.

Nine months of headaches, emotional roller coasters, fifty added pounds and the pain of labor and delivery is worth a lot more than a fifty percent chance on a specific gender. Some people don't understand this, and in all honesty, as hard as I try, I don't understand them. Perhaps it's because I never had it set in my mind that I was going to have one boy and one girl, or two boys and two girls, or whatever combination people today believe they're entitled to.

We will just be happy. Really happy. Nothing would make us happier than knowing that our genuine excitement would be met only with the same enthusiasm.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Girls.

We came last Sunday from Thanksgiving break with two brown female Newfoundland puppies. Our plan was to come home with Stout, and after he died, a chain of events fell into place that worked out best for the breeder and for us.

The puppies are six months old, and about 60lbs each. They came as a pair, which, while it sounds crazy to have two huge dogs, works better for us anyway. We were wanting Stout to be outside more. Actually, I was demanding it. He was too big, too hairy, and too much food was getting eaten off of our counter and table. The problem is that Newfoundlands really like people and other dogs, so leaving them outside alone all day made me feel too guilty.

Part of our original plan then was to get a companion dog for Stout for our new place in the Great White North. Last week we had visited the Humane Society, and even went to a man's house who was giving away his three year old Golden Retriever.

Everything changed when Stout died. However, since we had been in close communication with the breeder through the whole ordeal, we came to find out that she had an inseparable pair of six month old sisters, and we not only had lost our dog, but were looking to have two.

I was quite hesitant to bring a dog home so soon after losing Stout, and even more hesitant to bring home two. My mind was racing with concern over how we would make it work in the midst of our busy family life. Mark was quick to calm my fears, and as soon as the dogs were home with us I realized how I little I had to worry.

Now, on our two wooded acres, we have two Newfies having the time of their life. They have a huge kennel full of hay, and a four year old boy who has spent more time outside in the last three days than in the last three weeks. The girls follow him around, and even pull him on the sled! Mark has been so happy to come home home to the slobbery girls who want nothing from us but love.

And, as far as I go? I'm happy to have two walking companions, and wonderfully happy to have two dogs standing guard to bark if someone should come to our door. I feel so much more safe with a dog around, and I've slept better at night knowing that the girls are looking out for us. Having the space to let them roam freely has made all the difference in the world as far as stress goes, and I don't have to lose to my temper with them for the havoc they reek on the house--they simply are outside.

Here's to Chapter Two...and Three, of our family dog story.

Monday, November 29, 2010

...and He Shall Reign Forever and Ever!

I don't know what it is about these videos that bring me to tears, but I have a feeling that I might not be the only one out there who gets a little choked up when they hear "Messiah."

Happy Monday, Happy Advent.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Loss.

Our dog, Stout, whose story is below, died last night. We went to bat for him, giving him a chance to thrive on three legs, and through no fault of our own, our decision was made on faulty information. Last night, only a couple of hours after hearing that he was doing wonderfully, were told he was being kept alive by a ventilator. I was able to be with him in his last moment and bury him on family property today.

The last two days have been difficult. We made the decision that I would travel 2 hours from our northern home to where Stout was, and to leave Mark behind while he finished the work week. Our expectation was that I would be caring for our dog post-op until Mark was able to join us. We weren't anticipating that it would be me who was left so say our final goodbyes and to bury our dog. For this reason I feel drained in many ways, trying to care for the boys while dealing with my own shock of watching my dog die, and being pregnant and trying to take care of myself properly when so much of attention was focused on dealing with the situation.

We are sad and confused over the events that took place on Monday. Our dog suffered for too long before we knew the extent of his injuries, and that is what crushes us more than anything else. Unfortunately a mistake was made in our dog's care. Because of this, the bill for his surgery and all 36 hours of emergency care has been written off. It doesn't bring our dog back, but it's of some consolation that we have don't have our dead dog's medical bills to deal with right before Christmas, not to mention the void of our missing dog.

We will be glad to put this situation behind us. It was far harder than it needed to be. We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and so we will focus on that. We have been very blessed by family and friends, and will be happy to be surrounded by them in the coming days.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Mallory

Edit: And I want to appreciate thanks. Because, while I was with Mark, I had many, many family members who saw what we were going through and helped in small and big ways that made a huge difference. Parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, and more helped with the kids, helped make decisions and sort out our choices, helped say goodbye, pick up Stout and bury him. I couldn't have gone through any of this without them. Thank you :-) .

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stout.

On Monday morning between peanut butter toast and my second cup of coffee I got a call from my sister in law saying that our dog had been hit by a car. They had been graciously taking care of him during our move and transition.

In the course of a few hours we came to find out that our beloved large breed had a broken femur and pelvis. Unfortunately, the vet would not be able to set the leg. The best she could do was amputate. The only other option would be to send him to the University of Minnesota for surgery to repair the break, followed by months of rehabilitative care. The starting price for the second option, $3,000.

Mark and I were on the phone all morning. I was a wreck and often had to get off the phone because I was too upset to talk. The children didn't understand, and at one point Luke handed me a Crucifix and said that Jesus would give Stout a new leg. It was awful.

All day we weighed our options, and very heavily. At one point I gave up the reigns and left it in Mark hands, unable emotionally to make a wise choice. As we called Stout's breeder, sent his X-rays for a second opinion, and sought the advice of others, we very much wanted to do the right thing and to keep our emotions in check with reality.

After all, Stout is a dog. A great dog, but a dog nonetheless. For a very long time this afternoon we contemplated putting him down. Earlier in the day it wasn't a thought I could bring myself to, but as reality sunk in, the option was on the table.

As time went on and we spoke more with the vet and breeder, we were both left with one heavy thought: we could put him down, but in this instance there wasn't a good enough reason to. We tried as quickly as we could to educate ourselves on leg amputation, and were reassured repeatedly that our dog would fare just fine, adapt, and live a life just as full and as happy as he had with four legs. Amputating the leg will cost money, but it will be a sum that we can actually work with as opposed to the staggering cost to reset the leg, or to buy another Newfoundland.

I cried harder yesterday than I have in a long time. Until now I never understood how people become so attached to their animals. Stout has really been my first dog, and this is the first time I've ever gone through the heartbreak of making such a difficult decision for an animal that means so much to our family.

Trying to look on the bright side of the situation, I'm thanking God for three things.

1.) For Mark's sister and brother and law who have been taking care of Stout while we were adjusting here. Asking someone to care for a dog his size is a BIG favor, and we were so thankful. For the past month Stout has been living the life, surrounded by lakes and trees, children, and two other dogs. Our plan was to bring Stout home after Thanksgiving, only a few days aways, as, ironically, we wanted him to be safe from the highway here before bringing him to stay.

2.) I'm thankful that Stout's injury was on his back leg, not the front. If his front leg had been broken, the probability of an active life would have greatly diminished. A dog carries 70% of their weight on their front legs. For a dog of Stout's size, with his massive head, a front leg injury would have meant that we wouldn't be taking him home with us. Also, for such a bad break, he had no internal bleeding, and the breaks were "beautiful," meaning that nothing was crushed or shattered. Again, this would have drastically changed the outcome.

3.) Stout had followed children out to the bus stop this morning when he was hit. With conditions as icy as they were, I am so thankful that it wasn't a child who was hit by a car yesterday morning.

I'll be leaving our great white north shortly to drive "back home" to prepare to bring our dog home. As difficult as the last 24 hours have been for us as a family, I am at peace with our decision and am looking forward to having our dog back with us soon.

Faith Like a Child

On Saturday night Mark and I went out without the kids. It was wonderful in a thousand ways, particularly because we appreciated it so much, having not been out in a every long time.

With time to kill after dinner before our movie started, we went looking for a winter coat for Luke, who at 4.5 years was still wearing his 3T coat. Our intention was to find the one we wanted at the right store, and to then wait until Black Friday to buy. After finding a great coat with matching snowpants at a great price, we changed our plans and came home with the new coat.

The best thing about buying things for Luke is that he makes it so much fun. You see, he thinks that everything is wonderful, and he appreciates a new coat the same way his parents appreciated eating out alone.

His enthusiasm for new things is refreshing. After Paul was born, we bought him some striking animal posters for his bedroom. For days on end he laid in bed gazing at the posters. He insisted on going to bed with the lights on so that he could look at them, and everyone that came to the door was invited to his room to see the posters. This summer I made him a pillowcase that was his constant companion for weeks. He was crushed when his pillowcase wasn't allowed to follow him to church or when it needed an inevitable washing.

Needless to say, he loved his new coat. It is red, his color of choice, and he stayed up late waiting for us so he could try it on. For the remainder of the weekend he wore his snowpants and winter coat indoors, sometimes with only underpants underneath since his clothes were getting sweaty baking in the outerwear. At bedtime, reluctantly wearing jammies, his coat and snowpants accompanied his bed like a companion blanket.

On Sunday afternoon, overtired with excitement over the new coat, we had to put a stop to wearing his new ensemble indoors. Luke's snowpants slipped on the top step of a large flight of stairs and he toppled down the whole flight. He wasn't hurt, most likely because of the immense padding of the fleece-lined coat, but the slippery material indoors had to go.

Kids are fun. Christmas will be fun. They just love everything. Today, as we start this short week beginning with a blizzard, I hope to have my eyes open a little wider, and excitement take over my practicality just a little bit more. I hope to love my life as much as he loves his.

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Owls.

"Bedtime is to be strictly observed!"


If anyone is the Captain Von Trapp in the family, it's me. I'm pretty fussy about bedtimes. And why wouldn't I be? My kids don't sleep in, so if they stay up late (which mean that we stay up late) they'll be up at their regular time the next morning. That usually means that I'm left for the rest of the day with two overtired and grumpy kids.

Yes, bedtimes in our house are to be strictly observed!

That is, until now.

At nearly four and half, I can't expect Luke to take a nap every.single.day, but sometimes the sweetheart does, and those days, like yesterday, and wonderful blessings to an always tired pregnant momma. But, a four year old napping until four in the afternoon just isn't going to go to bed at 8pm. Doesn't happen. I know this, and yet at one in the afternoon I'm so desperate to lay in my bed that I put him down anyway.

So, last night at 10pm, when I was more than ready to sleep, Luke was still bouncing off the walls. Fortunately, I married a night owl who had work to do, and Luke accompanied him to the office with stacks of books, paper and crayons.

I came to find out this morning that the late night father-son adventure lasted until nearly 2:00 in the morning!

Now, the normally rigid Hesitant Homemaker would likely throw a fit and cry and such a travesty to our routine, but no, our little guy is changing. He sleeps when he's tired, which now mean that today he might not pop out of bed until 9 or later.

Is this okay with me? Absolutely. This morning Mark was gone by 6:45am--before either boy was awake, and not seeing Daddy in the morning has been a big adjustment for the kids, especially Luke, who asks where he is every morning. As long as the boy gets the sleep he needs, spending time with Daddy in the wee morning hours is just fine.

After all, I certainly won't be staying up that late!

With coffee in hand, dressed and ready for the day, with one boy sleeping, and one boy contently tucked in my covers watching Curious George, I think today will be alright.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quotes.

If we took advice from a four year old, here's how our country would run,

"Mommy, let's tell the president and the governor to give all of our taxes back, and then we would have more money to buy the things that we need."

No kidding!

I'm not a highly political person, and economics certainly don't get me going, but after Luke watched Robin Hood (Disney version) about fifty times, he had a lot of questions about taxes, to which we positively explained to him how taxes enabled us have our nice roads and nice parks, not to mention our fabulous libraries.

I will say, however, that I like the kid's logic.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Casual Persuasions.

I swear I'm not a prude, but something has been eating at me lately, and since our move to great wild north, it seems to be intensifying. It has to do with church, and dressing up for church.

Have I lost you? Sorry. I don't mean to offend anyone, and certainly not to judge, it's just something I notice and that is, at times, incredibly distracting.

For instance, tonight at Mass a lector (a reader) was standing reading Scripture at the altar wearing a hooded sweatshirt with black sweatpants, tapered leg and all. I don't mean to judge this person for his particular circumstances, but in general, I find this sort of attire appropriate for sleeping and playing sports; certainly not Mass.

It seems though, that the ultra-casual has become the norm. I absolutely do not believe that a persons attire has anything to do with their relationship with God, or their holiness, but I do think that as a culture we have lost a formality in dressing appropriately for certain events that are set apart from the rest of the week.

Are you getting me?

Mass is set apart. It's different than a run to the grocery store, coffee with friends, or a Saturday doing yard work. If we dress up to go out with our spouse, shouldn't we try to make an effort to dress up for our Creator and Savior?

We should give people the benefit of the doubt, and ultimately the most important thing is that people are at Mass at all. I'm just questioning the week-to-week norm of wearing jeans and T-shirts to Mass, and wondering if we've missed the part of our faith where formality wasn't important simply for formality's sake, but because Mass was set apart from everything else in the week; that it was important and honored respect in dress.

Perhaps old-fashioned in my thinking, but I do think that this important, and do believe that what we display on the outside has a direct impact on our reverence.

Isn't Mass supposed to be a big deal?

Friday, November 12, 2010

(A More Real) Love Story

A painfully realistic parody. I think it might resonate with those who have lil's. I need a night out...

The One.

During my mommy years I've always been in a bit of a predicament. I hopelessly love people, and while I'm not shy, I'm definitely not outgoing. Being at home with kids all week just doesn't work for me unless there is an outlet to have time to share with women. Fortunately, in nearly every location we've lived there has always been resources for young children and their moms, whether that be at church or through community outreach. These programs are lifesavers and really bring sanity to my days when I feel so isolated raising young children.

The predicament I'm referring to is the fact that, unlike going to a new school where a person is forced into a new and uncomfortable situation, the plight of a mother is that she must do this voluntarily, and it's never easy to voluntarily walk into a group of people where you don't know a soul and wonder how you'll be accepted.

In every group that I've walked into, there is someone who always sticks out. This lady recognizes things, and is highly aware of what is going on in the room. This lady very apparently cares about the feelings of others. Thankfully, every time I've entered a new situation, this lady is there, and makes a point to reach out, introduce, and make those feeble newcomers feel welcome. The women who make a point to do this are angels, and I'm so appreciative. I've hardly taken a step into a new situation without someone making sure they were going to walk it with me.

I would ask the readers of my blog today to think of how we as women can impact the lives of other women by simply being welcoming. I think many women are naturals at it, and if you are blessed with this gift, I would ask you to share it with those who need it. In every group there is The One. You could be her :-) . And, even though these women don't read my blog, a big shout out to Jennifer A., Aimee A., and Heidi L., for being The One for me.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Transition(s).

Scrolling through this blog, it' apparent that we not only had a busy summer, but that I've had little time to keep up with my occasional (blogging) project. Since my last post, there have been quite a few (extra) large changes that have changed our lifestyle from "stay-at-home" to "survive-at-home."

Here's the scoop. Mr. Hesitant Homemaker got a new job in a new city too far from our home to commute. This was coming. We were open to it, and the new job sent us two hours from our home to a place where there are more license plate for Indian Reservations and Ontario, Canada than for Minnesota.

This means that in the course of three weeks we quit our jobs, found renters for our house, packed everything we owned, moved out of our house and cleaned the dickens out of it for the renters. Then we had to find an adequate place to rent up north, find temporary homes for our animals, and try to maneuver through a community sight unseen.

Have I mentioned that I'm pregnant, too?

Phew! The packing and moving out of the house was by far the most exhausting. Our every-growing Newfie was reeking havoc on every aspect of trying to keep the smell of our house to a minimum, and the toddler in our midst was having a great time throwing as many packed boxes as he could down the stairs. On any given day I was overwhelmed and tired. Uh huh, I'm pregnant and packing--not a good move (no pun intended).

Now that we are at our destination (a cute new house in the woods!); I'm really enjoying it here. I went three weeks without a phone or internet, and while the first few days were difficult, I realized that I actually wasn't missing out on much tucked away in country. I will even go as far as to admit that I am actually a better mother without the distraction.

Being pregnant with two kids with no neighbors in an area where I'm unlikely to run into anyone familiar and more unlikely to make friends without extra effort has been lonely at times, and I'm sure that as the snow falls and the temperature drops that I will feel more isolated still. I will try to take it all in stride and grow ever-closer to my husband and children. And while there have been days when I've been struck down with a pregnancy-migraine, or my body cannot be willed to move after a vigorous day of unpacking, I will try to enjoy this chapter as much as I enjoyed our last one on the cul-de-sac.

I'm looking forward to a switch from blogging about pesky neighbors to a boy who is climbing pine trees for the first time and discovering animal tracks in the dirt road. My little one is the craziest toddler in the land, and now I can let him run free without the worry of lunch time commuters zooming down our street. For me, I just want to be happy and content with what has been given to me, and for life to slow down enough so that I have the opportunity to mentally and spiritually prepare for the changes yet to come when we add another member to the family.

Prayers for a happy fall,
Love,
Mallory

Monday, August 30, 2010

Overheard

"Mom! The boogers made a gate in my nose and now they're blocking my breath!"

Bad boogers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Predicament.

So, we've got some neighbors. They rent the house next to ours and it has been a train wreck waiting to happen from day one.

The neighbors have a slew of children, maybe five at home and two out of the house. Their youngest is the exact same age as my four year old. At first, this was Luke's dream come true, and every morning he would run out to "Play Bike" with his new playmate. They swung on the swings, played in the sandbox, and chased our cat around the yard. It didn't take me long, however, to realize that I couldn't let them out of my sight while they were playing. Presently, this boy has, on separate occasions, given my four year old a black eye and a fat lip, not to mention the numerous times that the boy's father has had to bring back toys that "accidentally" made it out of our garage and into theirs.

It's frustrating, and I now have the full sympathy of every mother in our development, who are always asking me questions and telling me how I ought to deal with the situation.

In the past fews weeks the situation has escalated. The multiple teenage daughters in the home are constantly screaming at one another. They slam doors and smoke behind the house. The profanity is both vulgar and so loud that I can hear it inside my home. And now, I've noticed, that the four year old is consistently screaming profanity right along with the girls. At 7am this morning I took the dog out only to hear the four year old scream "F*** you," at his mother in their garage. I heard this at least five more times out of him throughout the course of the day without leaving my own yard.

Now, I hate to sound snobbish, but this is just not that kind of neighborhood. People are generally "normal." Everyone works hard and has seemingly well-adjusted children. I can't imagine any of the other parents in our development thinking it's ever appropriate to have a preschooler swear. And to think, I gave Luke a time out yesterday because he called the dog stupid!

I'm tempted to call the owner of the home to complain about the tenets. Is that bad? Is that crossing the line? It's been a summer of door-slamming, screaming, and constant juvenile profanity, and frankly, I'm just really sick of having to hear it.

What would you do if you were me and had two small kids who had to hear garbage everyday?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Art Center

I'm no talent in the art department. I appreciate art, but I can't even sketch a decent doodle. When it comes to crafts I'm completely lost.

Instead of doing lots of crafts and step-by-step projects with the kids, I give them paper, lots of glue, and an assortment of materials that they can do anything they want with. I'm hoping that the cultivation in creativity makes up for my lack of structure in the art department.

Our materials vary by availability. I purchase them primarily at the Dollar Store. We've been able to get multiple sized and colored popsicle sticks, foam stickers, fuzzy balls, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, buttons, stamps, and more. I also have markers, crayons, water colors and colored pencils.

For storage I have been using clear glass jars. We have emptied pickle, salsa, red sauce, and jelly jars that are now all home to crafts items.

Of course, it's not completely free-reign. If I left a far of fuzzy balls and a four year old to his own devices, every last fuzzy ball would be glued on one piece of paper. For each craft, depending on the availability of the supplies, I make a 5 or 10 piece limit. It works pretty well.

With the weather so hot and humid, it's nice to have indoor activities ready to go!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

There's nothing like...


...a neutered Newfie!


I am 70lbs full of Castration Admiration.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Overheard

"Luke! You're all wet. Why did you pee in your bed during rest time?"

"Well, sometimes I pee, but then it does a special trick."

"Really? What kind of trick?"

(With an excited grin) "I don't tell mommy, and then the pee dries all by itself!"

Oh boy.

The King (of something?)

After I had my first son, I spent many mornings and afternoons rocking, jiggling and feeding him to the sounds of talk shows in the background. I started my day with Good Morning America, followed by Regis and Kelly, then The View.

It wasn't long before I grew both conscious of what my growing boy was picking up from these shows, as well as bored with the television. Always liking to read, I decided from then on to pick up some well-loved books to see if I could start a new habit of reading during those quite times in the day, or when children were content to play at my feet.

I remember this time vividly; even the books that I read first. I started with Pride and Prejudice, followed by The Count of Monte Cristo. These were books that I already owned but hadn't read. After a weekend at home, I sifted through my mother's books and came home with The Concubine, Rebecca, and The Lute Player.

After that, I was hooked and didn't feel the need to keep the television on all day. As far as my preferences go, if books were food, I like meat and potatoes. I like books with depth, meaning, or at the very least a topic where I can learn something new. I'm not much for mysteries, romance, or anything that would scare me (which isn't hard to do).

If I were to pick a favorite book, it would have to be Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. Trying to convince me for years to read it, I was convinced my mother was trying to get me to read about some farm woman who planted crops in Nebraska. But no, Rebecca isn't anything like that, and after reading through it once, I read through the entire thing again, so taken by the ending that I couldn't wait to read it again with a new perspective. Since then I always recommend Rebecca to anyone in my contemporary who probably never thought to read a book written before our grandparents' time.

Recently (thanks, E.M.), I started reading my first Stephen King novel, The Stand. It's not horror, vampires, boogie men or gore, and it doesn't scare me. It's actually pretty interesting, and dare I say...deep? However, I'm very torn. The book deals with the classic fight of good vs. evil. That topic isn't new or sci-fi, it's real life in so many aspects, and yet, I'm hesitant to finish the book. Maybe it's because I tend to fright about anything that isn't rainbows and unicorns, but I generally have a deep fear when it comes to even reading about the power of evil, almost as if my knowledge of it invites it into my life. I'm not convinced that's case, and I'll probably finish The Stand because it's really interesting and I'm hoping (and thinking) that the Good Guys will win, but I'll definitely be taking it all in with caution.

Anybody else like Stephen King? Anything to avoid other than Salem's Lot? (don't think I can touch that one).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh the times...

Today I bought my first half-gallon of non-homogenized milk. Cream line and all.

I also bought my first grain-sprouted, flourless loaf of bread.

Wow.

I never would have guessed that I'd be turning into a such a granola head.

Have I mentioned that Spiritual Midwifery is on my Amazon wishlist?

I should stop now before I lose all my street credit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

From MN.

The family had a mini-roadtrip today and ventured near the beginnings of the Mississippi River. The town of Park Rapids, MN is pretty nice if you like that city along the river, thick pine forests, and lakes everywhere sort of thing.

So, we were a bit surprised when our four-year-old interrupted our tree-gazing to inform us that, "This is where the Devil lives."

Wow! Of all the places, I never would have thought! Lag Vegas? Maybe. Somewhere in Italy where the Vulturi dwell? Perhaps. I would even bank on a few of the historical places where despicable crimes of humanity have taken place. Circus Maximus, Dachau, and Custer's Last Stand come to mind.

But certainly not anywhere in Minnesota. The people are too nice and the land is far too scenic :-) .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review

I just got done reading "20 and Counting," by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. This is not a new book, in fact, if it were new, the title would be "21 and Counting," since the Duggars added their 19th child last year. But, it was checked out at the library every time I thought of it until last week.

I ended up reading the book in two days, and those without little children could read it in one. I was sucked in, and while I have watched nearly every episode of their television show, reading their story and how they came to where they are now is quite inspiring. We cut our cable a few months ago, and this show is what I miss the most, in fact, it's the only show I miss :-( .

This family's convictions are quite courageous. They not only have beliefs and values, but they follow them without fail, regardless of the implications. This is not only in regard to their family size, but for instance, they don't agree with smoking, so when they owned a convenience store they decided that they couldn't, in good conscience, sell cigarettes. They knew it would mean less business and money, but they followed through with their beliefs. For some that might seem ignorant, or even foolish, but I found it very admirable, even though I personally don't take a definitive "moral" stance on smoking.

Their book takes you on a journey from their humble beginnings and how they trusted, learned, and took big risks to end up where they are now. The way they accomplished building businesses and buying their home and construction equipment (without debt) is pretty remarkable.

Having my own plights with the laundry routine, I was especially interested in Mrs. Duggar's ideas on laundry and chores. She had four children under four, and then five and six under five. It was then that they made the laundry space also a clothing storage space and made the bedrooms exclusively for sleeping (i.e. without dressers). This was a novel idea to me, and one, after she explained her reasonings, made a terrific amount of sense. Mrs. Duggar had been spending too much time transporting the clothes back into the drawers, and once in the drawers, little hands soon were disrupting the order of the clothes. With the new laundry system, the children pick out their clothes the night before and bring them to their room. Socks and undies are labeled by name in wash tubs, as well as pants. I mentioned this idea to Mark, and we both agreed that it was a great idea. She also dresses many of the children alike, and this she explained, was to make laundry easier. If 18 children wear red shirts, then there's a laundry load of red shirts. Wow, it's almost too easy.

Some people have issues with the Duggars, and while they "put themselves out there" and open their family up to criticism, I don't have anything bad to say about them. There was a point where I had the impression of a type of "moralism" within their belief system, and that they equated their family size with their holiness, changing children from being a gift to a measure of faith. After reading their book, I'm convinced that this is not the case. They simple were willing, and happened to have a perfect storm of fecundity and openness.

As a mother of young ones, I was very encouraged by this book. In fact, I love it. I'm happy that the Duggars are around. Their perspective is refreshing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to School, Blog, and Reality Check.

I've taken my summer vacation from blogging. There were countless times rocking the little one to bed when I had paragraphs of prose run through my head with a perfect blogging title. But alas, after playing at playground after playground, and biking and walking and pulling the wagon and pushing the stroller, once the kids were in bed at night I was pretty pooped out.

I still am pretty pooped out. In fact, the excruciatingly humid days of August have given me the itch for long jeans and cotton sleeves, when day turns to night at a reasonable hour and when the nip in the air keeps the kids from storming out of the house every time the door is opened.

My summer vacation from blogging was necessary because I needed to redirect and focus my goals as a person as well as my expectations for our family. It's not so much that it's been a tough road, but more so that my attitude is having a difficult time withstanding the demands of our days.

A few minutes ago I put away the vacuum cleaner after the kids came in from the sandbox. Sand was everywhere, and I dutifully sucked it up before the hour of naptime came. No sooner was the cord unplugged, wrapped, and the vacuum put in the closet did the little one bring the dog food bowl to the carpet and dump the contents on the freshly. vacuumed. floor.

In May I might have laughed about it. Instead, I begrudgingly took the vacuum back out of the closet, wanting to cry but getting angry instead. The incident isolated doesn't seem like a big deal, if only earlier in the morning my four year old, well-potty trained boy hadn't decided that his "pee wanted to pee on the floor" instead of in the toilet. If only I hadn't spent a hour the day before washing the bathroom with a bucket of bleach. If only. If only. If only, then I might have been able to scrape up some patience.

But how much patience, and how much joy is required in the midst of chaos and repeated mini-disasters throughout the day? It does get overwhelming, and it does get discouraging, and while I want so badly to listen to the mothers of old saying over and over again "Just enjoy them instead of worrying about everything else," at some point somebody has to sweat the small stuff before the small stuff becomes big stuff.

This scenario is darn near reality:

"Hi hunny, how was work?"
"Good, but why are you in your pajamas already? It's only 6 o'clock?"
"Good question, dear. You see, I was dressed this morning, but then Little Joe threw his bowl of spaghettios in my lap. I went upstairs to find a new skirt, but alas, they were all dirty!"
"Couldn't you just throw in a load of laundry?"
"Oh hunny, you're funny! It sounds so simple, but just yesterday I went downstairs to the laundry room, the children follow me down there. I caught Little Joe sifting through the cat litter while I was measuring the OxiClean. I grabbed Little Joe and switched the wash to the dryer one-handed. As I was doing all this, Franci-Pantsi had gotten into the Easter eggs in storage next to the laundry room and was begging to bring up the Halloween pumpkin he stores candy in. After a tantrum and much explaining about the seasons, we got upstairs."
"Oh, so you did laundry after all."
"Not exactly. I tried to utilize naptime to dry and fold the clothes, but I didn't get far enough. The children woke up, and I no sooner had the clothes folded on the table when I turned my back to get Franci-Pants some apple juice. Before you know it, Little Joe had thrown all the my clean clothes on the floor in one swoop of his arm, landing in a mess of sand that the kids brought in from the yard."
"I see, dear."
"I work so hard, but I just can't keep up."

These are the reasons, coupled with my bound responsibility to the situation, why I've needed this summer vacation. I can't help but see the beam in my own eye in regards to the children's haphazards and my reaction to it.

Looking at my (under construction) blog header, I have to ask, "What is so encouraging about my blog? Or, at least today's post?" Well, we can't always be full of inspiration and joy all of the time, so during those moments when we're struggling, the most encouraging words we can hear are, "I've been there, I'm there now, I understand and you are not alone."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Men.

Let's just say...

That all men can use power tools.
That all men can use an electric drill,
...circular saw
...hammer
...nails
...level
...lumber
...and generally build whatever they put their minds to.


But the real question is...


Can they do it wearing a shirt and tie?

(**EDIT** This looks WAY more dangerous than it actually was. No, he didn't use his circular saw while wearing a tie.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Morning Basket.

The days were a whirlwind. For a couple of weeks the weather was so beautiful, that even before the kids were dressed they were outside for the day playing in their pajamas. In so many ways it was wonderful. Our summer season in MN is so short, and letting kids out to play is something I don't want to restrict. However, playing outside with children for the better part of 12 hours is definitely exhausting.

The blur of summer fun was starting to take its toll on me. I was tired. Really tired. In the winter months our days have structure. We have plans, places to go, and a general outline to give our days some depth. In the summer when the sun starts to rise at 4am and doesn't set until nearly 10pm, it can easily seem like the days run together in busyness.

Something had to change. Reading one of my new favorites, I got an idea. Our own Morning Basket! Tailored to our very needs as family, as we sit down for breakfast, our Morning Basket has a few small books and some little prayers that we can say together as a family.

We've been doing our Morning Basket for two weeks, and it's quite apparent that it benefits me much more than the children; giving us an anchor for the day.


(Thank you, Mom, for the peonies!)
Here are the functions of our Morning Basket: (We don't do it all everyday, just what "Lil' P" allows)
1. Prayers, a Morning Offering, Prayer of St. Michael, Anima Christi, Hail Mary
2. Poetry. Right now we are reading through "When We Were Very Young," for the second time.
3. "Saint of the Day" This is in two volumes and was my husband's when he was a child. A half-page bio on the life of a Saint is a GREAT conversation starter.
4. Bible. Mark has this *COOL* Bible that acts as a comic strip. He, who is not a big reading-lover, tells me that he used to take this very same Bible to bed and read it. What a great way to retain stories! This is Luke's favorite part of Morning Basket.



We take about 10-15 minutes to do this in the morning, sometimes around the kitchen table during breakfast, or while the kids are playing dinosaurs/animals on the floor. Thank you again Jen over at Wildflowers and Marbles for this great idea!

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Addition.

Nearly five years ago I was newly married, living in a small apartment in a big, unfriendly city. Mark was in his first year of law school and was busy. I worked full-time and when Mark got home for the day he often had to leave back to the law library and work late into the night. I was sometimes scared of being alone and wondered what would help me fall asleep, on those nights alone.

During that time was the first time I ever thought about getting a dog. I've written before that I'm not really an animal lover. I'm not. It's a strange relationship, because I really love to learn about animals, and am always up for the zoo, aquarium, or Planet Earth. Some people connect really well with animals and are endlessly entertained by them. I am not one of those people.

Why would someone like me, then, think about getting a dog? Well, I thought that if I looked hard enough that somewhere out there a perfect dog would be waiting for me. Maybe it wasn't so much that I didn't like animals, but that the right one hadn't come along? It got me researching. I had some tough criteria, but to me, it was a win win. Either a perfect a dog would come out of the mix, or we wouldn't get one!

My Criteria:
1. A lazy bum
2. No jumping
3. No "yapping" or restless barking
4. No digging
5. No wandering
6. A loyal companion
7. Anything "high-strong" was immediately disqualified
8. A dog big enough to scare someone with its size, but harmless at heart
9. A dog that I could trust 100% to be safe with young children
10. A dog that could tolerate poking, prodding, and total invasion of space by children
11. Quite the same as the first, I just wanted a dog to be there, but didn't require a lot of exercise or attention. (Not that I want a dog to neglect, just not one that requires the maintenance of a child! I'm stretched thin as it is.)

Surely, I thought, this dog cannot be found. But, five years ago I found a breed of dog that fit each of my criteria. I brought the information on my breed to Mark who flatly said, "No. You're crazy. It's never gonna' happen."

But you know what? It DID happen! A bit over two weeks ago Mark surprised me with our very own Newfoundland puppy!

And, while nearly everyone around called us crazy two weeks ago, it seems that everyone who meets Stout wants a Newfie of their very own. He's that sweet, that wonderful, and oh so perfect. Have I mentioned that he's going to be close to 200lbs? All the more for the kids to climb over. Mark is a believer now, too, and has enjoyed having Stout at our side as we enjoy our summer.

Seriously, he's awesome.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Boys.

Because you can't have boys without some adventure.






Radical Homemakers | Front Porch Republic

This is a book review, analysis and history lesson that I found quite interesting. I would encourage you to read the review! The biggest thing I took from it was how the current shift of families is to be consumers, or to have as much "stuff" as humanely possible, but, historically that was not the case. Apparently the book goes on to say that "once upon a time..." people made their own things and repaired their own things. And, unlike today, they actually owned their own things. What a concept!

Radical Homemakers | Front Porch Republic

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Danger Boys.

This sums these two up pretty well, don't you think?


One with a plastic bag over his head, the other reaching for the electrical outlet. Just another day with the Danger Boys.

Have I mentioned that I must have the busiest boys the world has ever seen?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pray.

Last week, Theresa plugged my blog on hers.

Theresa is amazing. She's like the Pioneer Woman. She can do it all.

Whenever I question myself, Theresa always answers, "Yes, Mallory, you CAN do this." She's been a great encouragement to me as I learn the ropes as a wife and mother.

Theresa taught me to cloth diaper, and is always teaching me about how to make something from scratch or to shear alpacas.

Theresa reads and comments on my blog frequently. Yes, that Theresa.

I was planning on plugging her blog regardless of what happened yesterday, but here I am plugging her blog for a different reason. Yesterday life as she knows it changed forever. Her son is fighting for his life.

Please, visit her blog, comment, leave encouragement for her and her family as they fight a sudden, rare, and life-threatening disease. Theresa's blog is in my sidebar, so after this post gets bumped from other posts, please keep going, and keep praying.

Mallory.

Out with the Old.

Last week we found our baby, Paul, pinned between the crib bar and the mattress. Our crib, it turns out, is part of a massive recall, and will soon be illegal to sell even at garage sales or Craiglist. We had a drop-down siderail crib from Target. The brand was Stork Craft, a Target product and made in China.

This is how the drop-down rail came "off track," creating a gap in rail and the mattress; the perfect size for a baby to get lodged.


The crib was cheaply made, as evidenced by Itty-Bitty Baby being able to do this to the bars.


Here's what we did about it.


Needless to say, our whole family was quite upset about the whole incident. Cribs should last more than three years, and when we bought our crib we had no idea it would be recalled. If you had a baby after 2004 and it has a drop-down siderail, please check to see if it's recalled, and make sure that the parts I pictured are secure.

In with the new! Our new crib is REAL wood, heavy, sturdy, and has no movable parts. This is promising.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Products.

I cloth diaper. I love it. I don't know why, but I get such a warm fuzzy feeling from cloth diapering. I love my baby's huge buns with his padded tush, and I love, even if he's not dressed, our blue and green diapers looking cute all by themselves.

When I first started CD'ing, I was pretty intense about it. Nervous that I wouldn't stick with it, I wouldn't allow myself any slack, carrying around a backpack of cloth diapers for a day trip, using cloth wipes, and double stacking inserts for night time.

These are all great things, but as the year has gone on and I've gotten into a groove, I gave up on the cloth wipes (wet wipes are wonderful for MANY purposes with little ones). And then I realized that for space reasons, having a disposable diapers in my diaper bag was more convenient that a wet bag and bulky cloth diapers. And finally, after wrestling with chronic rashes with BOTH boys, I have resigned myself to give up overnight cloth diapering. Probably from the wetness, I just couldn't keep Paul's bottom from breaking out.

Now, cloth diapering is as easy as ever. I have disposables ready for overnight and out-and-abouts. We have found our "niche" and it's working really well. We're still saving a ton of money and keeping lots of dirty nappies out of the landfills.

The point of this post is to show the "fringe" of cloth diapering. While it's common sense if you think about, paper products are a very new thing. If we look back a little more than a generation, cloth diapers were not only the norm, but the necessity. It would logically follow that many of the paper products that we're used to today were not massed produced in the not-too-distant past. Paper towels, napkins, tissue and toilet paper were all cloth, and we're washed, dried and reused.

This website deals with this topic. And, while it may seem "extreme" to us, it's really not as "out there" as we might think. Some of the products sold might shock you initially, but then again, we're used to flushing our waste into plumbing or into a garbage can. I'm not advocating this lifestyle, it is just interesting; something I hadn't given much thought to before. While I cloth diaper, I just can't imagine switching to Mama Cloth or Family Cloth.

What do you think? Have I grossed you out yet?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just When...

...I thought I was going to start blogging again...

*We all got the pukes

*Paul got trapped in the crib and we threw it away

*Luke fell backwards into a fire pit and nearly needed stitches

*And then, the last two days were so beautiful that it would have been wrong, yes wrong, to do anything but enjoy every last minute of them. It's Minnesota, and you never know when the weather might deceive you. So, we took advantage and threw naps and bedtimes out the window for two days and just played, played, played.

*Now...I have overtired and pink-skinned children.

*Oh yeah, and Mark thinks that we're going to train for a marathon. I ran 2.5 miles yesterday after not having run for a while. This could be interesting.

*We are seriously, seriously getting close to getting a dog. If we get a dog then I am certain that I will have something to blog about everyday. I'm not an animal lover, per se, but I have been thinking about getting a dog for a long time, and it's absolutely not something I am doing impulsively. We want a family dog. My heart actually longs for one, it's kinda weird.

*Paul is keeping us up. He's like the bipolar baby. He'll play and play, but then he'll cry and cry. We never know what we're going to get. If we could get him to sleep at night then we would feel like we could conquer the world. As it is, we're up at least three times a night and often up for the day before 6am. It's really not fair to anyone anymore. Hopefully a solution is in store soon.

There's our business for today! Not much for posting this week, but it's just been "one of those" weeks. Enjoy the sunshine, if you're near it. I could never tire of this weather.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Food for Thought

What's worse, waking up at five in the morning and puking all day, or the pounding headache that results because you missed your morning coffee?

...I can't believe I do this to myself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coming of Age.

PJ is almost 14 months old, and while we've definitely had our struggles, and there have been days I've wanted to quit, I'm happy to congratulate him (and myself) on a year of successful nursing! Fourteen months going strong!!

We're doing great! Too great, really. So great that I'm kinda wanting to stop. So great that I'm looking at all my pretty sundresses and thinking that even though "we've got this nursing thing," that I kind of want to trade all my loose cotton tops for some pretty halter dresses.

I've been at this place before, because this was the age that I decided to start weaning my first boy. It took a month, and once it was done, it was done. Just like that. No more nursing that baby. It was over. And then...it was nearly two years 'till I got the next baby. And I missed nursing. After I weaned Luke I would pull him out of crib late at night and hold him close rocking and rocking. I missed the closeness and quiet. I missed the mumbled prayers that come so easily in the dark stillness of the nursery. I missed the baby that he was, and I was mad at myself for not realizing it sooner.

The weather is getting nicer, Baby is getting more clingy, and I'm getting the "itch" to have Baby bounce into toddlerhood and off my hip. But this time around I'm cautious; more aware of the regret I might have if I stop too soon, and with a greater appreciation for the gift of a nursing baby, even if it is inconvenient at times.

For now, the decision between Baby and the sundress is an easy one.

Monday, May 17, 2010

While I was Gone...

Unfortunately, I don't have anything monumental to list as a huge accomplishment during my absence. I did do a lot of small things though, and as things go, a lot of small things, in my eyes, can be a life changer.

*I rearranged our toy room/family room. We have an upstairs living area and a downstairs one. Most of the toys are downstairs, but I had been needlessly trying to contain them to a corner. In an act of submission, I moved the play kitchen right next to the window, the train table closer to the fireplace, and basically gave up trying to make the room function as anything more than a place for the children to play. I'll have to post pictures.

*While I refuse to refer to myself as the "G" word, I really started paying attention to what I throwing in the garbage. With very little effort, all our fruit and yogurt cups, and all glass or plastic containers are now cleaned and recycled. We recycled before, but I hadn't really payed attention to all things that could be recycled that I wasn't recycling. For instance, an empty container of sour cream, metal can or box of macaroni. For a family of four, we only fill up 1.5 garbage bags a week now. My reasoning for this change was pretty basic: Everything I throw away ends up in the landfill. If I put it in the recycling, it doesn't end up in the landfill. For things like plastics, dangerous chemicals can end up in the ground, water, and eventually our food. Just trying to do my part and to keep us safer.

*Being a bully isn't part of my nature, but maternal instincts are. Our neighborhood, for better or worse, has a child the same age as my son. Luke is overjoyed at the constant playmate, while Mother has her suspicions. For reasons unsaid, I've taken it upon myself to instruct and direct this unsupervised child when he is at our house playing. After all, my house, my rules. But more importantly--my child! I never knew I had such a backbone!

*Taking baby steps to eat healthier, but failing everyday, I have added to our "healthy list." We started with organic whole grain flax pasta, continued with organic brown rice, and organic homemade spaghetti sauce. These were easy switches, and I was able to buy it all discounted in bulk online, so the cost increase to organic was minimal. Now added to my list are organic eggs and organic milk. I can only buy these at the grocery store, and the cost increase is significant, especially since I make the kids eggs nearly every morning.

*I love Ironman

*I love Ironman

*I love Ironman

*I love Ironman, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Robin Hood, too.

*I've been reading a lot about "Home Birth" lately. I'm not planning a home birth, if that's what you were thinking, it's just something that I've been researching. Late at night when anxiety strikes, I often relive the birth's of my two boys. The trauma of the first birth actually caused the trauma of the second birth! My second baby was nearly born in the car because I was trying to avoid the gown, bed, IV, monitor, epidural, nubane, catheter, and pitocin of the first birth! What if you didn't have to worry about all of that stuff and could just labor and deliver at home? What a thought! Without having done it, I'm a believer now. I never would have predicted that my thoughts against home birthing would change, but now I'm a believer.

*I pluck gray hairs everyday. I'm 26.

*Glad to be back!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

While I'm Gone...

This is my new favorite blog.
Seriously, this woman is my new hero. Every post I read I say in my head, "This is what *I* want, this is what *I* want to do, and here she is doing it!!"

The pictures of her home classroom are QUITE impressive. Scratch that, everything is impressive. Amazing. I want to be her.

She should keep you busy for awhile...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bit by Bit

It's Spring, and keeping up with the tradition of Spring, I'm catching up with the long neglected sandbox, swing sets and bike riding. The outdoors have missed us!

So, as traditions go, I'm taking my third Spring Break from blogging. I'll be back once my fine-weather motivation relaxes and I'm back to afternoons on the computer instead of spring cleaning (that won't take long.)

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Year

A lot can happen in a year. Yesterday was my baby's first birthday. And, even after a year, His Story is still as fresh as it was a year ago. Paul's birth has been so imprinted in our minds as one of the most intense and traumatic events ever to happen to our family. And, while everything turned out fine and perhaps wasn't as dramatic to others as it was us, I will still run into people who are itching to ask me about it or will say to me softly, "I was working the night you had Paul."

In the past year Luke has learned to be an amazing brother. He's affectionate, protective and playful with his brother-pal. I've grown to take things in stride, and that the things I worried about before Paul's birth were really nothing to worry about at all. We've all learned that not all newborns scream constantly (ah ha, Luke), and that our second one slept most of the fist eight weeks of his life.

We've also learned that a baby wakes up after eight weeks, too ;-) .

We've learned to love more than we thought we could. We've learned to double our cheek kisses with an extra kissable set around. We've learned to cloth diaper and to potty train all in the same month. We've learned, even more, that family is what we want and that family is what makes us happy. You, my sweet baby, make us happy.

We love you, Paul Joseph. If your birth and first year tell us anything, it's that God has big plans for you. We're waiting patiently and with love to see what those are.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Small Successes

Luke has been potty-trained for nearly a year. He does a great job, but because he's a thirsty little guy we've always defaulted to putting a pull-up or diaper on him at night. He always wakes up soaked.

We totally don't care either way, he's a boy and he's just not ready to wake up to use the bathroom. No. Big. Deal.

The last four nights Luke has politely asked to go to bed with no pull-up, no diaper, no-nothing for protection between him and the sheets. We relented, which was hard, since he's never woken up dry before and I really didn't want the likes of his dinosaur sheets hanging from my banister (see post below!)

But, the last four nights he's woken up dry. He's so proud and wakes up so happy to tell us about how "I didn't go pee in my pants!"

If I can't see the accomplishments and things to be thankful for in our simple days, I'm obviously not looking hard enough.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Week in Pictures

Since we're at the end of Lent, and since I'm really bad at voluntarily sacrificing anything, I thought I'd give myself a big dose of humility. After all, as a blogger stalker, it's easy for me to look at some of my favorite blogs and to really, really think that those blogging mothers are perfect and that they don't have macaroni noodles stuck to their floors. I'm here to prove that at least this week, I can top them all.

Yeah, our dryer broke. Sad story. Good thing we have three staircases!



Our living room floor. The public library threw up right next to Luke's dirty underwear.


Why do I even try to grow a houseplant?


Just a little reality check on this beautiful, windy March Wednesday!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Farewell!

Farewell my beautiful china dishes! Farewell my Mikasa Palatial Gold tea cups and sugar bowl! The three times I've used you in the last five years has been full of memories and ginger maneuvers. Oh! The care I've used to preserve you to make sure that all sixteen table settings are without a scratch or chip; every piece accounted for.

Farewell my pretty plates. You've been overrun. Boys don't like tea cups, nor would I allow my pudgy-handed hellions to touch a piece of my magnificence. I'm packing you away for a time, only to be pulled out, washed and used when needed. Into the box you go.


This is it, china. It's over. You've been replaced with coloring books, markers, play-doh and games, scissors and glitter and pipe cleaners and...and...and...and...everything that is the exact opposite of china.


I'll call you when I'm fifty.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some days...

...You just have to be thankful for the small stuff.

Like the week when you take your big boy to the pediatric allergist, followed by a clinic visit and prescription for the little guy, only to be proceeded by an absolutely necessary visit to the eye doctor for mom before the contacts burn out of her eyes but she can't order any more because her prescription is expired.

Some days you just have to be thankful for the small stuff, like when your husband works for the State of Minnesota and has great health benefits.


Now, where the heck is that Zithromax? I can't see it anywhere!!!!

Stupid contacts!

We Made it!

I thought this day would never come. I thought that I would have two babies forever; two babies to feed, two babies to diaper, two babies to dress...forever.

The day has come: Luke can dress himself. I lay out his clothes in the morning and he not only can take off his jammies, but he can put his new clothes on, socks and all.

By Himself.

If you don't understand WHY this is so awesome, I'm guessing you haven't had the privilege of dressing and undressing a wiggly, club-handed boy for nearly the last four years.

I'm going to celebrate.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Faith to move the Mountains

I'm so proud to know Laura. I'm proud to know her husband. I'm so proud that I was present at their wedding, and that Laura and I danced around the Eiffel Tower in Paris singing Disney songs together, and rode bike through the hills of Austria one spring.

If I could have a claim to fame, knowing this family is something I would want to be known for. I wish they had an Academy Awards to honor those who DO incredible things with an unshakable spirit instead of just honoring those who portray those people.

Again...Paul and Laura, scroll to page 7.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Left.

And no, I'm not talking politics.

It is becoming increasingly, and quite obviously clear that our preschooler is left-handed. He was only six months old when others (not I) began to observe that he would consistently reach with his left hand. As he began to feed himself his left hand was dominant. As the milestones crept by and finger food turned into utensils and block sorting games turned into crayons, marker and scissors, the predominance of his left hand persisted.

I didn't make much of it. In fact, it was never me who noticed. Hands are hands, and I knew enough to know that at this age, anything goes. But, while I encouraged the right hand, knowing that there was a 95% chance that he would be right-handed, I found that I frustrated and confused him. In fact, while printing his name and common words and letters easily his left hand, a switch to the right caused mirror righting; his name starting with an "L" facing the wrong way, and then following to the LEFT to look like "EKUL."

It's not that big of a deal, and not something I'm at all concerned about. On the contrary, I really marvel at it. Here's this little boy who I've taken care of everyday for the past three and half years, and yet, I'm still learning about him. Not only that, but I'm finding qualities in him that aren't familiar to me. Whether it be that he's left-handed, or when he shows compassion in a particular way that I know we haven't taught him yet, I'm in awe with the understanding that our children are separate and different from us, and humbled when some of their virtues aren't taught, but inborn.

In so many ways our children are strangers to us, evident not only in the revelation that having a left-handed child was even a possibility, but in other ways like his unwavering fascination with everything scientific. Already with the baby I notice his baby play; so different than what I expected. My expectations might have been different, but I'm so thankful for the surprises present and those in store.

Media and Early Childhood

I just want to take a moment to acknowledge how appreciative I am for Public Television for my Preschool boy. These shows are not only educational, but they help children to understand that leaning is FUN! While we don't watch a lot of TV around here, I'm happy that on those cold, boring days that we have something that I can let Luke watch without worry...

Sid the Science Kid
Between the Lions
Super Why
Thomas and Friends
Dinosaur Train! (Um , I think this show was MADE for Luke)

There are more great shows on PBS other than these (Sesame Street, Bob the Builder, Word Girl, etc.) but they haven't grabbed Luke in the same way. It's easy to take an approach other than "TV is evil," when you're three year old can sort his dinosaurs into Quadrupeds and Therapods, or when he asks to learn more about caterpillars turning into butterflies.

These shows set off a *spark*, and if parents are willing, those sparks can lead to a fire of learning fun. ;-)
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