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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Cream Cheese Apple Bread

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In an effort to get my carb loving oldest daughter to eat better things, I often try different breads with fruits and vegetables in them.  So far it hasn’t worked, but I keep trying.  I like them, so it’s not like they go to waste.  This one was my first attempt at a cream cheese bread.  It was pretty yummy.  The flavor was really good, but next time I will grate the apples instead of dicing them.  You can get the recipe here:

http://todayscreativeblog.net/apple-recipes/

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Dirty Little Secrets

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There is a laundry list of things no one tells expectant parents.  Maybe this is because soon to be parents, in their blissful naivety, dismiss a lot of what is told to them.  And while I was certainly guilty of letting a lot of “advice” go in one ear and out the other, I know that there were some things no one even bothered to tell me.

1)  Your child may not nap.  People go on and on about how tired you will be as you will be up all night with your newborn.  OK, this is to be expected.  It’s part of what we signed up for as parents.  But, what everyone neglects to tell you is that your child may also not sleep during the day time either.  I always just assumed if she was up at night, she would at least sleep during the day.  Nope.

2)  Even once you establish good sleep habits, they are not here to stay.  You will have to re-sleep “train” your child constantly.  I promise that as soon as you get on a good 3 nap routine, your little one will be ready to drop to 2 naps a day and so on.  Plus night sleep will be disrupted by growth spurts, vacation, increasing independence, having broccoli for dinner… who knows.  All I know is that sleep is one of those ongoing challenges as a parent that you just don’t see coming.

3)  It does not get easier.  It gets different.  Easier in some ways, harder in others.  But, you never settle into a peaceful state where you start to think, “Yea, I’ve got this.”

4)  Guilt is unavoidable.  So is worry.  You will worry about things you had no idea you were even concerned about.  And you will do things daily that will make you feel like a horrible person and parent.  Some of it will be justified as we all make mistakes.  A lot of it won’t be.  But, you will worry and feel guilty regardless.  It comes with the territory.

5)  People will judge your parenting.  And you will judge theirs.  It is almost as if it is a reflex and we can’t help it.  I do believe that most of these thoughts come from a good place and we all have the best interest of all of the little people at heart.  But, we still do it.

6)  You will have moments where you day dream about your child free life.  This does not mean you would give your kids back.  But, you can’t help but remember what it was like to actually eat your food without getting up to change a dirty diaper or get someone a drink or clean off their hands before they get cheese sauce all over the couch.

7)  You won’t always like your kids.  Love them yes, but that is not the same thing.  There are going to be days when you kid will be a whiny brat for approximately 95% of their awake time.  And this will be the same day that they will spill sunscreen on the carpet, refuse to nap and hit their older sister so hard in the forehead with a My Little Pony that it leaves bruises.  And you will, in that moment, not like their behavior or enjoy their company.  But, you will still love them.

And there are some things people do tell you, but that you can’t even begin to comprehend until you are there.  Such as how much you can love a little person.  How your life truly does become second place to theirs.  And how their hurts and their joys become your hurts and your joys.  It is indescribable.

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Our One Room School House

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Today was Nora’s 1st day of Preschool.

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I love Nora’s school for so many reasons.

It is a true Montessori environment with 3 grade “levels” in one room.  It is an old barn, set on beautiful grounds, so it really does give the old time feel of the one room school house.  I love how peaceful it is there.  It is really a great learning environment, free from a lot of distractions.

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They encourage the child to explore their interests and to use those interests to learn and challenge themselves.  They also have a huge emphasis on independence, grace and patience.  Their expectations about behavior is a large part of why we chose this school.

There are no electronics.  And as they said in our parent orientation “There are specific developmental reasons behind this.”  They also make a point of asking parents not to have their child actively using electronics when they pull into the school parking lot so that they don’t have to start the school day being disconnected from these gadgets.  I love this.

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The teachers come to the car to get the kids and bring them to the car at the end of the day.  This Momma LOVES this part most of all.  I will admit, it was a little weird to not walk Nora into school on her first day, but as someone who works second shift, I love the fact that I won’t have to be 100% presentable when I take her to school in the morning.

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They do encourage parents to come utilize their observation room, so it’s not like parents can’t ever see their kids in their school environment.  But, I do appreciate the efficiency of the drop off process.

They also utilize their parents a lot as volunteers, so I plan to try to become active in the community as well.  They do nature walks on the grounds and since I have several days off each week, hopefully I can help out with these as well as other things that may pop up.

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Nora is very excited about all the things she is going to learn this year, especially reading.  When Miss Molly brought her to the car today the first thing she said to me was “She didn’t teach me to read today though.”  Miss Molly laughed, but I hope she knows that once Nora gets it into her head that she wants to learn something, she does not stop until she does.  It’s going to be a fun year.

Why I Hate Baby “Experts” and Their Books

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Writing this post will inevitably bring on the wrath of many people who swear by “The Baby Whisperer” or Harvey Karp.  Because of this, I will start off by saying that it’s not that I don’t see things of value in these books, it’s that I feel they ultimately set you up for failure.

E. A. S. Y. (Eat, Awake/Play, Sleep = Time for you), the 5 S’s (Swaddle, Shhh, Sway, Sideways, Suck), early bedtime, overtired, pick up/put down, Ferber.

There are SO many opinions on how to handle your baby’s routines and sleep.  They often contradict themselves but they also all have themes.  The themes are basic common sense if you ask me, but if it helps you to read that stuff in a book, then so be it.  I have even seen Harvey Karp speak about his 5’s in person and I will admit, he sells a convincing product.  But, here is the underlying flaw of all of these books, theories and expert presentations… they do not account for individuality.

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Individuality in you, your child and all of the silly small details that you don’t think about until you are in the moment trying to follow all of these instructions.  And when you find it’s not magically working like they make it seem like it should, you will inevitably end up asking in desperation “What am I doing wrong?  What am I missing?  What do I do next?”  And if you are at all like me when I was a new mom, you will be in tears over what you perceive as failure.

When I was ready to go back to work after my first maternity leave, I felt like I needed to get my non-napping 10 week old on a nap schedule.  It seemed so easy to everyone else, but my child didn’t nap – ever.  I read about 3 different books.  I tried sitting in the room, I tried swaddling, I tried cry it out, I tried moving up her bedtime.  None of it worked.  You know what finally worked?  Waiting until she was significantly older and giving in to my husband’s more relaxed approach.  We did eventually let her cry it out after she was 6 months old and her bedtime became 8:30/9pm.  But, it worked.  For her and for us.  She developed pretty awesome sleep habits as she approached her first birthday and would take good naps and sleep through the night with no problems.  From 9p-9a most days.

And while the baby “experts” would frown upon her late bedtime, which is even as late as 9:30p now that she is 3 years old, I have many friends who would kill for their kids to have that later wake up time.

Meredith was a completely different sleep animal.  She was a great napper from day one, but horrible at night.  I had different issues with her, but we have established good sleep habits with her as well, on our own terms.  Nothing about getting her to sleep well was the same as what worked for Nora, despite my naive thoughts that maybe it would be.  I was much less hard on myself this time around without all of the books breathing down my neck.  (I threw them out when Nora was about 4 months old so I wouldn’t even be tempted to read them and over-analyze things anymore.)

I hate when my friends with new babies call and ask how I got my kids to sleep.  I hate hearing them quoting sleep “rules”.  I will tell you all what I tell all of them.  Trust your instincts and do what feels right for you and your baby.  You will figure it out.  People have been doing this for years without the help of experts telling them what to do.  I personally feel that if you know someone who has an amazing sleeper, that it is a mixture of lies and luck.  They may think it was because of their amazing parenting or ability to implement the “rules”, but I know better.  And some of them that I know, have gone on to have second children and have now realized just how lucky they got the first time around with that baby who was sleeping through the night at 4 months of age.

If you want to read the books, do so with a grain of salt.  Take the general ideas and toss the rest.  There is no one size fits all with babies, no matter how much education and experience that particular author may have.

The Great Costume Exchange

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In the last few weeks, the Halloween costume catalogs have started rolling in.  Nora absolutely loves looking through these things.  She would dress up as everything if she could.  I think she will ultimately end up being a fairy (and Meredith will likely follow suit), but I will create our own version of that, because the ones in the catalogs are wicked expensive.  Cute, but expensive.  Last year she picked out a cupcake costume that was about $90.  Luckily, we found a much cheaper, but still cute version at Old Navy and she was just as thrilled with that one.

I love Halloween and I love creating costumes.  Dave and I used to really get into it when we were dating as well.  Our best ever was Jack Skellington and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas.  But, we have also done characters from Kill Bill and the last one before we had kids was a zombie bride and groom (with my actual wedding dress).

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But, I digress.

My real point in writing this is to address the absurdity of putting so much money and effort into something that gets worn once and is tucked away.  (As you see in the pictures, I also wore my own wedding dress again for the same reason.  Twice actually.)  And with Halloween, you do it all again year after year.  But, I love the holiday, so it deserves some attention.

What I wish people did more of was costume exchanging.  One of these days I am going to create a website where people can post pictures and sizes of the costumes they have and the only cost will be to reimburse the poster for the shipping to get it to you.  This is win-win in my opinion.  You get a new, cute costume for your little love for a reasonable cost and you get to see your own stuff re-purposed.

So all of that being said…

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I have this monkey costume.  Worn by Nora when she was 11 months old and by Meredith when she was 1.5 yrs old.  It was big on Nora and a little short on tall Meredith.  I don’t remember the specific size, but that should give you an idea of what age range it would fit.  It is still super cute, warm and in great shape.

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And the infamous cupcake costume.  Nora was just under 3yrs old when she wore this.  It is also warm, complete with a cherry hat and as you can see, goes nicely over layers if needed.  The fleece pants are part of it.

If anyone local has any interest in either of these, feel free to comment, email or message me on facebook.

And if anyone has anything for my two wanna be fairies, I would love to hear about that as well.

Happy Halloween (a little early).

Church

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Hello my name is Sarah, and I am a practicing Catholic.

I say this a little tongue in cheek, but sadly, there is a little truth to the attitude behind this statement.  In this day and age of passionate demonstrations and demands for acceptance and tolerance, it often feels like Roman Catholics are the one group that it is okay to openly put down and speak poorly of.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard blanket statements about the absurdity and awful nature of the Catholic Church.  And I often hear people who were raised Catholic, admit to it hesitantly as if it is something they feel they should apologize for.  Sometimes I just ignore these comments and sometimes I feel the need to defend myself and my faith.  If I were any other faith and people said the things they say to me about Catholicism, it would be viewed as intolerant and ignorant.  But, not so because I am Roman Catholic and there is for whatever reason, an acceptable societal prejudice against Catholics.

I am not going to go into all of my personal religious beliefs, but I will say that I don’t 100% subscribe to the old Catholic teachings of years ago.  I believe in personal equality, freedom to marry and a lot of other things that would in theory go against my Catholic upbringing.  But, I also don’t believe that subscribing to a religion or faith means that you have to give up your personal influences on those beliefs.

I do believe that religion and faith (whatever that is for you) is meant to challenge you, make you think about things, drive you to be a better person and give you a COMMUNITY of people that somehow POSITIVELY contribute to your life.

I too went through a period where I struggled with my faith and did not go to church.  It wasn’t until I met my husband that I started going again because it was so important to him and his family.  He introduced me to the parish at Mother of God in Covington, KY and it was there that I started to understand what going to church was supposed to be like.

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The community in this church is truly like a family to each other.  The people who attend the 11:30 mass there on Sundays (the one we regularly attend) are joyous and faithful.  You see the same people every week.  They come to mass because they want to celebrate God, the good in life and each other.  It is uplifting to be there.  And more importantly, in this parish and with these church leaders, I found myself in my own faith.  I am able to pray and think through the complicated parts of life in a way that compliments my convictions and beliefs.  Contrary to what I often hear about the Catholic faith, this community is accepting and current.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a community church like the ones that are really popular with my generation at the moment, it is still a Catholic mass.  But, it does take the old traditions that are the foundation of the Catholic faith and brings them into a relevant presentation for the world in which we currently live.

There is a church in Florida, near where my parents live, that does this same thing.  It’s a mixture of the old traditions and new applications to society, but above all else, the people are HAPPY to be there celebrating God and each other.

I am thankful that my parents raised me with the principles and structure that religion offers young children and I am proud to be continuing that tradition with my children.  I do not think Catholicism is right for everyone, but I do think it deserves respect in the same way all religions do.  Even within a specific faith, it is not going to be one size fits all, so each individual must find what works for them.  Whatever religion or belief system you subscribe to, I only hope that it gives you a sense of purpose and drive to be a better person.

On a lighter note… since my children are still so young, mass is often a struggle of limbs, little voices and pretzel crumbs.  I struggle sometimes to hear the prayers that are being said.  Here are some of my favorite inappropriate for church child moments:

Meredith regularly announces (loudly) that she is stinky and needs a diaper change.  She knows that going to get her diaper changed gets her a break from mass.

Last week, Meredith told everyone in the row behind us that they had eyebrows.

Today in church, she licked my face and spontaneously kissed the little boy in the pew behind us.

Nora got the giggles for no reason at the end of mass and could not stop laughing.  We had to leave early.

When Nora was little she threw a teether 4 pews up, where it pegged an unamused older woman in the head.

6 month old Nora one laughed and yelled her way through a solemn funeral, which ultimately lightened the mood, but at the time was completely humiliating.

There are weekly stories, so if you want some Sunday mass entertainment, feel free to join us!

You Will Eat Your Words

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Before you have kids, you have all of these grand plans.  Everyone does it.  I did it.  But, I promise you… no matter how much you plan or how adamant you are that you will stand by your convictions, that you will do things just right from the beginning, you will inevitably lose the battle on more than one occasion.

Take this little cutie for example.

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With newborn Nora, I was certain that if I made her baby food and only fed her healthy, natural foods that she would grow up to be a great eater.  Reality is that she is a horrible eater, and despite all of my efforts, she regularly wins this battle.  It is exhausting, but she would rather go without eating at all most nights than even try something new or different.  So, I have to pick and choose when to fight her and when to let it slide.  And I often bribe her with chocolate.

I was going to follow all of the recommendations regarding wake time and sleep time from the beginning and create great sleep habits.  I tried.  She had other plans.  She was a horrible napper, we eventually let her cry it out and she gave up naps all together shortly after she turned two.  She does sleep well at night, but her bedtime is way past the recommended time frame.

I was going to baby wear.  She hated it.  I swore she was not going to watch TV until she was two.  Her father introduced her to Dora.  I was going to have babysitters on a regular basis.  Instead, I am too tired and it’s easier to stay in.  I am sure there is more that I am forgetting.

But despite all of my derailed intentions with Nora, I still found myself setting goals when Meredith was born.

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With newborn Meredith, I was going to try to not use a pacifier at all.  Note there is one in her hospital bassinet, so obviously I gave that idea up quickly.  And when she forced my tired hand on that one, I swore I would get rid of it before she was one year old because I wished I had done that with Nora.  We finally pitched them a few weeks ago at almost 28 months of age, which is in fact later than we pitched them with Nora.

I was going to have my girls share a room as soon as possible after Meredith was born and just handle any hiccups that arose from that.  Instead, Meredith’s crib was in my room until she was well over a year old and we finally moved into a house where they could have their own rooms.

Other things I swore to before I had kids:

I would never drive one of those car carts at the grocery store.  (We use one almost every time now… and I do hate every minute of it.)

I would not have an Elf on the Shelf.  (His name is Chocolate.)

I would not let my kids watch more than an hour of TV a day.  (I still try to keep this limited, but there are many days that I fail.)

I was not going to buy clothing with commercialized cartoon characters on them.  (Nora has a Disney princess bathing suit and several Dora shirts.)

My kids were going to watch wholesome television, such as Sesame Street and Disney movies.  (Their favorites are Dora, Diego, Peppa Pig, and the Barbie movies.  Although, I will say I have stuck to my guns about no Spongebob.)

This list is not complete and as the years go on, I am sure I will add more and more to it.  I think the lesson is that as a parent, you will have good intentions, but you will inevitably fall prey to reality and the unexpected influences of your children’s personalities and desires. You can not know how things will play out, despite what you think or feel before it all happens.  This doesn’t mean that you have failed.  It just means that you were naive.

And for those who do not yet have children… never say never.