SortaCrunchy has moved!

Hello! I am so glad you found me. Let me point you in the direction of SortaCrunchy's new home at Typepad:
http://sortacrunchy.typepad.com/sortacrunchy/

Come see me there!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sorta Reflective

Thank you, my sweet, sweet friends for the holiday greetings. What a delight to return home to such warmth!

We had a delightful, albeit it chilly, time up in Oklahoma. It was impressed upon me just how very spoiled to my mild south(ish) Texas weather I have become. Yes, I have grown quite fond of seventy degree winter days, and I am not one bit ashamed to say it. Like a plaintive but hopeful stray cat, the cold has followed us down here and my nose and fingertips are not the least bit appreciative of all this Arctic air!

I know there are those who don't really care for the end-of-the-year countdowns and look-backs that run so rampant in the days between Christmas and New Year's Day. As for me and my household, well, I can't help myself - I love them! A sentimentalist to a fault, there are few things as comforting to me at the close of another year than to think back on all the year has accomplished.

I mean, really, who IS this Santa Baby?



Oh, the difference a year makes. Miss Thang had no idea at the time that the coming year would crown her Big Sister. Her mom and dad hadn't a clue either, but just a few short days into 2007, Little Sister would make her presence known via two pink lines on a peed-on stick.

The beginning of the year also delivered to us a lesson learned the hard way about putting our trust in man rather than in God. That painful situation gave way to a rewarding outcome that included a long-anticipated promotion for The Coach.

Two thousand seven . . . the year in which I survived morning all-day-long sickness, terrible two-dom, turning thirty, and a move. D found her voice while Dad found the confidence to lead in a difficult season. God saw fit to once again deliver perfection wrapped in pink into our arms.

And then there's ya'll! What fun I have had this year getting to know so many amazing women. What blessings you have been to me - each and every one of you. I value your comments here and love reading about your lives in your internetty homes. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for sharing yourself with me this year. I esteem each of you highly and so look forward to getting to know more of you in two thousand eight!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Home for Christmas

Soon the SortaCrunchy fam will be packed and loaded and headed north for our annual pilgrimage home for Christmas.

Merry, merry Christmas to you and yours. See you soon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On being known

Last week, my mother-in-law, whom I love and admire very much, called to ask about a possible gift idea for AJ. She had found a really neat swing with all the lights and sounds and stuff that Fisher Price is convinced babies need on swings.

The thing is, we already have two swings. A simple one and a lights/sounds/overstimulation contraption. I sorta had to scratch my head a bit because my mother-in-law has been in our home very recently and had to become quite familiar with our ridiculous amount of baby gear. And honestly, I am just not a swing kind of mama. Granted, I have two of them, so it would be hard to guess that swings aren't my thing. It's just that I would rather tuck a baby in a sling rather than buckle her in a swing - and I find that most often, the desired outcome is still the same. Sleeping baby.

I was telling my sister later that day that I felt just a little bothered by this gift idea. I have a very close relationship with my mother-in-law, but her very generous, very thoughtful idea of getting AJ a new swing made me feel a little bit like she doesn't really know me as a mother. Know what I mean?

Juxtaposed against the swing suggestion was the arrival yesterday evening of my husband's gift to me. Our new camera.

I quite literally had butterflies in my stomach as we excavated the camera from its layer upon layer of packaging and protection. As we tinkered and toyed with our newest baby, I couldn't help but to reflect on what a meaningful gift this is for me. Not only did the man devote all of his share of the money given to us by our parents for Christmas presents toward the camera purchase, he also spent hours and hours researching what the perfect choice would be.

It made me wonder . . . Could it be that on all those road trips of our youth, when we would just talk and talk our way down the flat highways that cut through grassy plains of Oklahoma, could it be that he was really listening as I talked about the things I loved as a child? Did he remember how I had told him once how I so treasured the back issues of National Geographic my aunt would save for me? That I would drink in the power and mystery and beauty captured by those lenses?

And did he know that it was always the photography exhibits that called to me from the corridors of museums? That, yes, Botticellis and Jackson Pollacks make for amazing art, but what really moved me were the photographs. A hummingbird caught mid-sip. A new baby cradled in the arms of a new daddy. A village unconcerned with the advances of modernity. A brilliant diamond wedding ring on the finger of a hand dulled and weathered by time.

Eleven years ago tonight, a good-lookin' football player from Small Town, Oklahoma, slipped a diamond engagement ring onto the finger of his sorority girl girlfriend from Another Small Town, Oklahoma. Eleven years ago. Having dated for ten whole months prior to our official engagement, we thought we knew each other so well. I don't think my nineteen year old self could quite have conceived how much there was still to be discovered in that man.

This camera . . . it's extravagant. It is way, way more than I would have asked for or ever felt I deserved. But for me, it quite unexpectedly became a concrete fulfillment of that abstract desire I think every person shares . . . that longing to be known.

A BIG Bloggy Move!

It's certainly that time of year. Amidst the twinkle lights and silver bells, all your favorite tabloids and their TV counterparts are doing their yearly wrap-up of the Top! Ten! Biggest! Stories! of 2007! And there's something garishly inspiring about the year-end wrap-ups that speaks of a fresh start for the new year.

Are you looking forward to a fresh blogging start in 2008? Then Christy and I cordially invite you to our Big Bloggy Move party! I am going to send you over to Christy's place to read all about it today because even in the midst of welcoming her hubby home from a six-month deployment (!!!) she has still managed to eek out the time to line out the details and qualifications of participating in shin-dig. I bow to you, Christy. (Ya'll go on over. If you are going to play along, grab the code for the button while you're there! I'll wait.)

Okay! So. Let me just say, by way of clarification, that I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with Blogger. I have been perfectly happy here for two years! I am just ready for some change and ready for the features other platforms can provide. Namely - the ability to have conversations via email with all of my commenters, not just the ones who check the box. And yeah, I am looking for a three column layout, too.

Thanks so much for everyone's feedback and recommendations! At the moment, I am leaning heavily toward TypePad, but we'll see. Note that Christy and I are giving you until mid-February to get your new home all spiffied up for company!

Looking forward to partying with you, and even if you aren't making a bloggy move in February, I hope you'll still join in the fun. There will be, after all, prizes involved.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Who doesn't love Lands End?

I am knee deep in photog books and blogging platform research which lends itself to being drained dry of creative thought. As I was breezing through my G Reader, I saw that super cute, super chic dcrmom over at Musings of a Housewife is hosting a super cool giveaway! And really, who does not love Lands End? I hear their diaper bags are amongst the best.

If yourself or someone like you (yeah baby, vintage Matchbox Twenty) is in need or want of a new Lands End bag to add the bag stash, pop over to Musings to enter her Lands End Giveaway!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Go do the tour!

Some of my fondest Christmastime memories from childhood are of my parents bundling us up, buckling us into various car seats, boosters, and finally - when you knew you were really a "big kid" - just the lap belt, and taking us to tour Christmas lights around town.

As most of you already know, delightful BooMama is hosting her Christmas Tour of Homes today! Although I am camera-less at the moment and therefore having nothing to show off, I do look forward to touring around today and enjoying the sights!

(And hopefully I will find some great inspiration for the Big Bloggy Move. I cannot for the life of me decide if I want to go WordPress.com or TypePad. It shouldn't be this hard to make up my mind, right?)

(By the by, do you know of you any up-and-coming blog designers who have openings after the first of the year? All my faves seem to be booked up.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Move it! And Hoopla, too!

Oh yes we are!



big bloggy move



Now, is that not just the cutest little button you have ever seen? Christy just whipped it up last night! So yeah! We are doing it. We are leaving our Blogger homes for some wide open spaces elsewhere. (yes, yes, it's true that Blogger has fixed the commenting issues . . . I still feel the need for a new start though!) Anyone else wanna make a fresh bloggy start in 2008? Make sure you swing by Christy's Big Bloggy Move post to pick up the button code. Details to follow!

We have decided on a camera (more on that to come), so while I await its arrival, let me entertain you with this hoopla which Stacey at the truest thing has tagged me to play . . .

The Random Christmas Hoopla!
Here goes:


1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas

2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word (which, for you bloggy newbies, is meme)

3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere.

4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible.


12 Random Christmas Things About Megan:


1. When I was in the fifth grade, our librarian read us The Polar Express. It was the first time I had heard it and when she got to the end, I cried with delight. It captured my heart and put words to my belief in the power and spirit of Christmas.


2. Like Stacey, we also don't have a nativity set, and I am deeply saddened by that. It's weird. I am not normally perfectionistic, but for some reason I have never found just the "perfect" nativity, and therefore remain paralyzed in my inability to buy one that is simply okay.

3. I think eggnog is disgusting.

4. My first Christmas home from college, my (then junior in high school) sister and I were horsing around when we were supposed to be clearing off the dishes after Christmas dinner. The details are kinda blurry now, but I somehow fell against a dining room chair and busted my eyebrow open. There is nothing like shopping the post-Christmas sales with a big ol' butterfly bandage across your eyebrow to garnish the stares of strangers. I wonder if they thought I had maybe been in a bar fight?

5. Another Christmas story involving Sis and I . . . one Christmas we spent taking turns heaving in the bathroom with a nasty, nasty tummy bug. It was glorious.

6. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but we have a tree up this year for the first time since our first Christmas together nine years ago. It's so much easier to have a Christmas tree in a cat-free home!

7. Fave Christmas movie: Christmas Vacation

8. Fave Christmas song: O Holy Night . . . but I love O Come, O Come Emmanuel, too

9. Fave Christmas food: Houska

10. Other Christmastime favorites: cheesy Christmas commercials (remember the Maxwell House one where the grown son arrives home a little earlier than expected? "Oh, Peter! You're home!" Yeah, getting all teary just thinking about it!); sharing Christmas with family; halls and stores and cars all decked in holiday cheer

11. Christmastime bummers: crowded parking lots and miserable check-out lanes

12. Top Three Christmas presents from my man (in no particular order): diamond engagement and wedding ring set, diamond stud earrings, and on its merry way to me - a Nikon D40!!

Now let's see . . . Melissa, Missy, Keara, Lori, Corey, Sheila, Melanie, Julie, and Julie - ya'll are tagged. And so is anyone else who wants to play! (I hate tagging.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

chapped thoughts and new cameras and maybe moving

Short and sweet today, ladies!

As usual, I called upon random.org to help me choose a winner for my lip balm drawing. The winner of the tube of lip balm of her choice from Clear Hills Honey Company is Gretchen from Lifenut! Gretchen's comment (My thoughts are kinda chapped, so I will play along.) was concise and witty, just like her amazing writing over at Lifenut. And for those of you wrestling with some "what should I blog about? why am I even blogging, anyway?" thoughts right now, I highly recommend you check out her "Bravery" post over at Mile High Mamas. Heck, go read it even if you aren't a blogger. It's good stuff.

Okay, gush over.

On with the show.

Thank you to everyone for the feedback! I haven't quite decided what I need to do about managing my blogging time. I am sorta afraid the answer is to pare back on the blogs I am following. In fact, that seems the only realistic thing to do, unless of course as a special Christmas gift just to me, God creates an extra two hours in my day so I can sit and do nothing but read and comment . . .

* * * * * * * * * *
I am sad to report there will be a dearth of D and AJ photos for a bit. Our camera bit the dust yesterday. I am currently camera shopping which is overwhelming with a capital Yikes! Hence the short, blathery post today.

Do you have a camera you just love, love, love? I will never be a pro, I just need something that shoots non-blurry pictures that I don't have to photoshop the life out of to get the lighting and color halfway decent. Recommendations? I am all ears.

* * * * * * * * * *
Finally, I am thinking about moving. Oh, not moving away from my sweet house under the shady trees! But I think the time has come to move away from Blogger. Christy at After a Cup of Coffee . . . or Two and I are toying with a big moving party. Is anyone else entertaining the idea of leaving Blogger?

Also, if you left Blogger, where are you now and do you like it there?

Obviously, I am in need of lots of hand-holding today. Thanks for tolerating my neediness!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let's PAR-TAY, shall we?

My "baby" brother and his wife welcomed a sweet baby girl into the world yesterday evening, so I am excitedly distracted today. Been burning up those phone lines between here and Louisiana!

I do have just a minute to share two recipes for Karla's

Holiday Par-Tay

The first one is SUPER fast and easy. Perfect to whip up for holiday parties or just to have on hand to indulge in over coffee on a wintry afternoon.

Brown Sugar Shortbread

from Judith Sutton's Sweet Gratitude

1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp (NO substitutions or it isn't shortbread!)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and both sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until thoroughly blended - about one minute. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla, then beat in salt. On low speed, add the flour in two additions, beating just until incorporated.
3. Turn the dough out into an ungreased 9x13 baking pan and, with your fingertips or a sturdy rubber spatula, gently press it evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden brown (edges will be slightly darker). Do not underbake. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. With a sharp heavy knife, cut the shortbread, still in the pan, into 36 rectangles. Let cool completely before removing shortbread from pan. Keeps in airtight container up to 5 days.

Here's another quick and easy - Monkey Bread! I have signed up to bring Monkey Bread to my Bible study group's Christmas party on Friday, but I am going to go out on a limb and change up my tried and true recipe. Michelle at Scribbit shared her Sticky Buns recipe a while back and I've been waiting for just the occasion to whip it up. But if you need a fast, simple Monkey Bread recipe, I think you'll find this one won't disappoint!

Megan's Mother-In-Law's Monkey Bread:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:
2 to 4 cans of refrigerated biscuits
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crushed pecans
1/4 cup cinnamon
1-1/2 sticks of butter

Mix together the sugars and pecans and cinnamon and put in bowl. Set aside.

Use kitchen shears and cut the biscuits into fourths (if you use bigger biscuits you can cut them smaller). Roll in the sugar mixture and arrange in bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (A loaf pan will work if you don't have a bundt pan). Set aside.

In a small sauce pan melt the butter and add the sugar mixture that you rolled the biscuit fourths in. Once the mixture comes to a boil lower heat and cook approx. 2 min.

Pour hot mixture over the biscuits in the pan lifting edges so it can seep down to the bottom.

Place in oven and bake approx. 30 to 45 minutes. When it is done allow to cool a couple of minutes on stove top and invert onto a serving dish. Best when served warm but still good if it cools.

You can vary the ingredients and it will turn out. It's fail proof.



Thank you, Karla, for hosting such a yummy par-tay!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In which I discover I really I am a fool

In every person's life, situations and circumstances come along that reveal the truth and depth of character that person possesses. Sometimes these situations and circumstances are big. Life-changing. Other times, it's an utterly ordinary scene that exposes the ugly hiding beneath the pretty.

A crucible, if you will.

There are few places on this planet that turn up the heat on my own personal crucible as hot as the open-twenty-four-hours-a-day-seven-days-a-week flame that is WalMart. And I'll tell you where I get singed every time . . . Not when I am walking the three point eight miles from one end of the store to the other because I forgot that now they stock the watercolors in the back by the toys and not in the front by the office supplies like they used to. It's not the snarly employees or the crying babies or the skanky bathrooms or even the mealy produce of questionable freshness. It's the check-out line. Every stinkin' time.

And so the last time I was there, I had AJ strapped on in the mei tai carrier and D riding shotgun in the cart which was filled to the brim with our weekly groceries. And wouldn't you know it? Wouldn't you just know it? At the Not-So-Okay Corral of check-out lanes, there were exactly two regular lanes open, two express lanes, and then the self check-out lanes. All of those were open, you bet.

Now I might not be the smartest mama on the block, but I do know better than to purposefully station myself in an already painfully long line near the check-out counters with a toddler in tow. A toddler who to this point had been amazingly patient and gracious while her mother zoomed her up and down the aisles, but a toddler, nonetheless, who was also known to go a little nutso upon spying the deliberately placed goodies next to the counters. After all, who can resist the glittery packs of gum? And what of the light-up pens? And the plethora of Dora playing cards? And the siren's song of just one more sippy cup?

So the two (and I am really not exaggerating for effect here, ladies, there were two) regular lanes were out. Express lane? Sure. Yeah, that's out. And what does that leave us with? Those darn self check-out lines.

Deep breath. Don't curse. She's talking now, remember?

No lines at the self check. So that's good. I start throwing things on the mini conveyor belt, muttering to myself about how this the last time, the last time I tell ya!, I will be shopping at WalMart and I am gonna go home and write me a letter, that's what I'm gonna do, and on and on. Meanwhile, a sort of (how shall I say this?) scruffy looking middle-age man gets in line behind me and starts chatting me up. I glared glanced at him and sorta half-heartedly responded to his attempts to chit-chat, but what I really wanted to do was bring about violent retribution on the check-out machine because every single time I tried to swipe an item, it would wait about five seconds and then instruct me to place the item in the bag and if I didn't do this on it's time frame, it froze up and I had to start all over.

Must. Not. Hurt. Anyone.

So I think you get the picture. By the time I endured that ordeal, I was exhausted. And annoyed. Annoyed with Chatty McSmall Talk, annoyed with WalMart, annoyed with the world.

Well, not at all coincidentally, the next day I was looking up a word in my Bible's concordance, and as I glanced through the listings, a word jumped out at me. Annoyance. I sorta chuckled and thought, "I don't remember annoyance showing up in Scripture." Curious, I turned to the lone verse listed under annoyance.

A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult. Proverbs 12:16, NIV


Well, hello Conviction. Good to see you.

Again.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lip Balm for Your Thoughts!

So here's the deal . . . I am struggling with keeping up with my blog reading. I think probably I am not managing my blog reading very well and I would love to hear how you guys do it. I also know we are all pressed for time these days, so I want to make it worth your while to share your secrets, hints, and tips with me!

If you will answer these questions for me in the comments for this post, I will enter your name for a fun little drawing. The winner will receive one lip balm of her choice from Clear Hills Honey Company! Because CHHC is about to close for the holidays, I will close this drawing at 2 pm central time on Thursday, December 13. Winner will need to email me her address no later than 8 am on Friday, December 14 so I can get the order in promptly. (both bloggers and non-bloggers are eligible, so that means all my lurky and/or non-blogging readers are more than welcome to de-lurk today!!)

Okay, so here is what I am wondering . . .

1) Do you use a feed aggregator like Bloglines or Google Reader to do your blog reading? If yes, skip to #3

2) If you don't use a feed aggregator, how do you keep up with your favorite blogs?

3 a) If you do use a feed aggregator, how often do you "click through" to the actual blog to comment?
3 b) If the blog you are reading publishes truncated (shortened) feeds, does that make you more likely or less likely to click through and read the whole post?

4) For everyone - how many blogs do you read/subscribe to? Overall, are you happy or unhappy with how often you are able to read AND comment on your favorite blogs?

5) Feel free to share any advice or feedback that you think might help me better manage my blog reading time. :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Everybody knows a turkey . . .

Or, in our case, a ham . . .

video

. . . helping to make our season bright.

Good to be back!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Must share

Hey ya'll. Just popping in to say, go read this at It's Almost Naptime.

May it comfort and inspire you as much as it has comforted and inspired me.

Back soon.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Evidently, I need some time off

Okay, I am just going to tell you all this right now so I can get it out in the open. Rather than celebrating the end of NaBloPoMo today, I am beating myself up over my latest entry in the ongoing contest of Worst Mommy of the Year Award. Are you ready? Brace yourself.

I dropped AJ.

Part of me wants to word this in the third-person . . . She fell out of her carseat. Onto the floor.

But the truth lies in the first person . . . I forgot to buckle her in the carrier carseat and picked it up and she flipped forward and landed face down. On the floor.

I can't recall that I have ever experienced anything quite as terrifying and sickening. When D was a baby, she fell off the bed a time or two (yes, see, I've got that Worst Mommy award in the bag, girls) but it was when she was an older baby. The sight of my precious, not-quite-three-months-old baby, face down on the floor . . . Oh ya'll. I am having a hard time shaking it.

This all happened this morning as I was leaving D in the nursery at our weekly community prayer coffee gathering and thankfully - thank you, God! - one of my sweet friends (also a mommy) held AJ for me while I called the doctor's office in tears. (FYI - I discovered today that if you are in near hysterics when you call the pediatrician's office, they put you straight to a nurse - no waiting for a call-back. Just so you know.)

My other sweet friends calmed me and made me laugh with their own tales of baby mishaps and accidents. That did make me feel better. And so far, she seems to be fine. But still. And I still haven't quite determined just how I am going to tell her daddy about this.

So even though I had a whole other post planned, this is what's on my mind today.

In other, non-child endangerment news, as I mentioned yesterday I am taking the next week off from blogging. Let's all pray I don't return from this week-long hiatus in the same condition I was in when last I returned from hiatus . . .

I so look forward to catching up on blog reading next week. Also, my friend Corey called me yesterday to see if I would mind publishing posts over at Living and Loving Every Minute of It while she is out of town. (Not guest posting! Just hitting the "publish post" button on her pre-planned, pre-written drafts.) So anyway, I'll be around. Just uncharacteristically quiet, as I suspect many in NaBloPoMo recovery will be . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The light, the tunnel, the end approaches

Almost there, girls. Almost there. Tomorrow is the 30th and I will be released for the self-imposed tyranny of NaBloPoMo. Again, thank you so much for your words of encouragement - especially here at the end.

By way of advance warning, I want to tell you after tomorrow I am taking a week off from publishing posts. I have been sorely neglectful of reading and commenting on some of my favorite blogs and I am craving some time to just luxuriate in all kinds of bloggy reading goodness.

I haven't done a Thursday Thirteen in a while and the lure of a list proves to be irresistible . . .

In Which I Reflect on NaBloPoMo'ing

1. I do not like to post every day.
2. I much prefer to take the weekends off from posting.
3. Answering questions from my readers really was quite fun.
4. I definitely appreciate all who submitted questions (and by the way, those I haven't gotten to will not go unanswered. I am saving them for a rainy day.).
5. Talking about my own views and history and experiences day after day gets really boring really quickly.
6. I did have fun guest posting at Velveteen Mind. I would like to guest post more often, I think.
7. Posting every day is a lot of pressure, and I don't know how mega Bloggers like Michelle at Scribbit do it.
8. I am so stinkin' proud of myself for following through and finishing a project!
9. There is much to be said for public accountability as motivation to stick to something.
10. I hope I win a prize, dang it.
11. Hmmmm, that's just about all I have to say about NaBloMoPo.
12. Just for fun, here's a few of the Google searches that brought readers to SortaCrunchy in the past month . . .

sugar makes teeth hurt - well yes, actually it does, doesn't it? Especially if you are drinking my Texas Sweet Tea.

mother babe breast - not sure what to say about that . . . I do one of the first and two each of the others if that helps you out at all.

t - Really? You did a Google search on a letter? And really? It brought you here? Strange, that.

moldy BREAD, BREASTFEEDING - and again, I am just unsure of what to say about that.

Back to my list . . .

13. So, NaBloPoMo. You and I are about to part ways. Knowing what I know now, would I do it all over again? Yeah, I sorta think I would. It's definitely been one of those things where if I hadn't participated, I would always wonder if I had what it takes to do it.

And that last statement strikes me as being just a bit too serious. It's just blogging, after all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Go See

Teething infant. Potty-learning toddler. Target and Sam's and the post office (oh, my).

Lord only knows what will actually get accomplished around here today, but if nothing else, I can sleep easy knowing I did my part to Save The Bunny:



(Click on the bunny to go see my guest post at Velveteen Mind!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #14 - Tips and Tricks (sorta)

It's just gorgeous here today. Really, really gorgeous. Days like today make me wanna belt out a few verses of "God Blessed Texas" (If you wanna see heaven brother here's your chance). Added bonus - Miss D has been especially delightful the past few days. Just a real dream of a child (where are you, O Wood, that I may knock upon you?), and that has made life particularly sweet in my SortaCrunchy home.

And that puts me in a good place to answer today's SortaCrunchy question from Birdie of BirdBrain. Birdie is a fun and funky (in a good way, girl!) new mama to one sweet little September '07 man - Otto. Stop over and say hey if you have time!

Birdie asks, "What are your favorite tricks and tools of the Mama trade? What objects/tricks/ideas/attitudes get you through the day with two little ones?"

Honestly, I don't have a lot of tips. Or tricks. Well, some tricks. Like telling D that Cliff Kid Chocolate Brownie Organic Z Bars are "Bunny Scout Brownies." Those brownies are my back-up plan when she refuses to eat a meal, and she is ever so delighted to devour a Bunny Scout Brownie - Max and Ruby style.

So yeah, I have tricks like that.

But my only real tip is one that was given to me by Martha Sears, the mama of the Attachment Parenting super duo who co-authored The Baby Book with her husband, Dr. William Sears.

(Sidenote - I know I talk about the Sears an awful lot. I am not on their payroll. I just love them. I truly, truly do. Their books and website helped bring me from a dark, disappointed, and unhappy place in my mothering to a joyful, uplifted, and inspired turnaround. That's all.)

So anyway.

Martha Sears writes in The Baby Book that in parenting her own high-needs child, she had to learn to get behind her eyes. That phrase, that instruction, that advice has been the single most helpful parenting tip I have ever come across.

When D was a baby and was crying, fussy, out-of-sorts, whatever, I would take a deep breath, close my eyes for a second or two, then open them and look right into my daughter's eyes. Then I would imagine her looking out at me and ask myself, "If I were looking out of those eyes, what would I need to see to feel better?" I sure wouldn't want to see an angry, frustrated, exhausted mama. So no matter how angry, frustrated, or exhausted I was, I forced myself to be the mama she needed me to be at that moment. More often than not, all she needed was some peace, compassion, and understanding . . . maybe in the form of a bouncy walk around the room, perhaps an extra long hug with quiet whispers of affirmation in her ear. It usually wasn't much, but it almost always worked to just get behind her eyes and really think about what is was she was needing.

I gotta tell ya'll this. Life is proving to be quite unfair to my angelic AJ. Her two bottom teeth are threatening to erupt any day now. Yes! At not quite three months! Bless her heart. So this laid-back and content angel of a baby has been uncharacteristically needy and fussy for a few days. I find myself going back to Martha's advice and still find it works like a charm. Heck, it even works when D is going into meltdown mode and she's almost three.

I wonder if it'll work for pre-teen hormonal angst? We'll see.

Anyway, friend Birdie, that is the best I can offer in terms of tips and tricks. I hope it helps you as much as it helped is helping me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #13 - Quickly

The wonderfully sweet Karla of Looking Towards Heaven offered two questions for my SortaCrunchyMightHurtMyselfSoonBecauseI'mSoBoredWithItAll Q&A experiment. The second of the two is a very thought-provoking one (If you could write a letter to a persecuted Christian in a foreign country, what would it say?) that I want to come back to when I am over this burn out. (Five more days! No wait - after this post, four more days!!)

But her first question is one I am happy to answer today: What are your favorite quick night recipes and why?

Two words:

Cheese quesadillas.

(Or quesa-dill-as. Depends on where you live and how big of a Napoleon fan you are.)

Why? If there are two things we always, always have on hand in the SortaCrunchy kitchen, it's tortillas and shredded cheese. Slap 'em together, toss 'em in a skillet, and voila! Dinner is served. You can get all fancy with them, adding chicken or beans or veggies - I use whatever I have on hand. Quesadillas and tortilla chips some fresh veggies have been served as dinner around here many a-night. D always eats them up, too, which is a blessed bonus.

What works for fast and easy in the kitchen for you?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #12 - It's a Family Tradition

Here's a little insight into the part of the country in which I grew up: Whenever someone mentions the words family tradition, some force that is beyond my control plugs in the honkey-tonk jukebox in my mind, pops in a quarter, and sends up Hank William Junior's "Family Tradition" . . . (Don't ask me Hank/why do you drink?/(Hank) why do you roll smoke?/Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?)

(Sing it with me, Melissa E! I know you know the words!)

So yes, I'll be humming along to that morally pure and uplifting anthem while answering this question from my Sweet Friend Mary Ann of Mountainer Mommy: What family tradition from when you were a child do you hope to continue with your family?

Well, it just so happens that really the only traditions my family has have to do with the holidays. How timely! My family always, always, always put up the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. Our family tree evolved through the years. When we were younger, it was decked out in handmade and hand-painted ornaments and brightly colored tree lights. If I close my eyes, I can still see it standing in all its glory - blue and red and yellow and orange lights twinkling amidst gold tinsel and silver "Baby's First Christmas" bells. As we got older, my mom reclaimed the tree and chose a lovely maroon and gold angels theme. The colored lights were replaced with the more refined white ones, and the "Baby's First" ornaments were tucked away in keepsake boxes. No matter what went up on the tree, Thanksgiving weekend was always the designated time to do the decorating.

Tonight we are putting up our tree. It's the first tree we have put up in seven years! Up until this past summer, we had two cats in our family. The temptation proved to be too great for the naughty kittens, and I finally got tired of having to redecorate the tree every morning. But the cats have found other homes now, and Miss D is enamored with Christmas trees this year, so putting up a tree will be a long-awaited event for us. My dear, wonderful, Sweet Friend Keara gave us a tree they weren't using and I am so excited for the fun that awaits us! We'll keep it simple for now . . . I have to save room for all the D and AJ originals that are sure to fill the boughs in years to come.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #11 - On blogging

Last week, Megan of Velveteen Mind shared one of her NaBloMoPo concerns, "Possibly the worst aspect of NaBloPoMo is that so many solid posts get buried. I much prefer giving my blog some room to breathe." I could not agree more! Well, I don't have all that too many solid posts around here, but I do prefer some breathing room. Yes, that's exactly why I am getting so resentful of NaBloPoMo'ing . . . I'm feeling a tad claustrophobic on my own blog.

And since we are speaking of blogging, I present to you the next in the SortaCrunchy Q&A series. This question is from Linda of 2nd Cup of Coffee. Linda is a wonderful writer and I have so enjoyed my time spent reading over there. Please stop by and say hi if you get a chance!

Linda asked, "Why do you think blogging has become such a phenomenon, and what do you personally gain from blogging?"

Very good. Very good question.

To begin with, I think blogging has become such a phenomenon for the same reasons social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook have taken off. These modes of communication meet two basic needs that most people have . . . a craving for community and the desire to belong.

As far as what I personally gain from blogging - well, I guess I get both of those needs met in a very fulfilling way. I love my little blogging community - a small circle of women who have come to be good friends of mine and the larger circle of mommy blogs where I "see" so many familiar faces. Blogging allows me to participate in an amazing community of women whom I will probably never have the pleasure of fixin' a cup of coffee for, but who are very dear to me nonetheless. Building relationships through comments and email affirms for me that this is a place I belong.

I feel sorta funny saying all of that because I have a spectacular and supportive community of friends in my hometown who are just to die for. So it's not like I rely primarily or solely on blogging for community. I don't know . . . maybe a childhood full of relocations has left me with an extra deep need to connect with others and find a niche into which I fit?

So those are my thoughts on blogging. Now I would really, really love to hear yours! Whether in the comments or as a post at your own blog, please share your answer to Linda's question. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Friday, November 23, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #10 - Celebrity wanna-be

This is my last question from friend Lori: "If you could be a celebrity for a day who would you be and why?"

Heidi Klum. She's a hoot! I love her on Project Runway. And I hear she cloth diapers.

What about you guys? If you could walk in someone else's Jimmy Choos for the day, who would it be?

Edited, Saturday, November 23rd - I wanna change my answer! Stacey reminded me that I lurve Jennifer Garner. She seems very classy, collected, sweet, and smart. Heidi Klum, you're fab and all, but I have to go with Jennifer G on this one . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
James 1:17 (NASB)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Verily

Woe, woe unto thee, foolish woman! For thou hast committed a grievous error. In thy foolishness, thou hast chosen to gather food for thine household on a day of unparalleled madness in the market of thine city.

Dost thou not know? Hast thou not heart? The Lord spake unto the a command, “Do not enter into the marketplace of the city on the day preceding the feast of Thanksgiving. To do so would be great folly. Travel to the marketplace earlier in the week and by doing so save yourself from great sorrow.”

But you, O woman, you have neglected the Lord’s command. And this shall be your punishment.

You shall find the marketplace to be in great chaos, just as it was prophesied unto you. In the aisles there will be cursing, gnashing of teeth, casting of evil glances, great and heavy sighs of aggravation, and the wailing of young children. Ye shall find the aisle of spices and flour to be depleted; verily, ye shall look for the cinnamon sticks but the cinnamon sticks shall not be found.

For the schools have released the schoolchildren and the wives have sent their husbands with their children to the market. But the children and the husbands do not keep the holy laws of the marketplace. They have no understanding of the teaching which says, “Thou shalt not stand in one place reading labels whilst others need to pass by you, for doing so will cause the people to have great anger burning in their hearts against you. Verily, it would be better to cast your fatted calf to the dogs than to cause the flow of cart traffic to be obstructed and provoke the people to burn with indignation.”

And yet, O woman, after you have endured the trials and tribulations of the punishment set before you, the punishment for thy great and grievous error, ye shall escape from your ordeal unharmed. And as thou packest the food for thine household into thy car, a new song will be in thine mouth. A song of praise, for the Lord our God has been good to you.

Verily, I say unto thee, the Lord God, Jehovah Jireh - God our Provider - He hath provided for thee indeed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #9 - Back to School

Can I tell ya'll something? You guys are just blessing my heart!

I have been a little complain-y about NaBloPoMo - which is stupid, really. I could decide to stop right now and I am pretty sure the universe wouldn't implode, but there's this part of me that really does want to just finish. One of my most ginormous character flaws resides in my inability to follow through on projects that I start. From housework to knitting to ironing to writing . . . ugh. I sit amongst a plethora of half-finished good intentions. So anyway, I am forcing myself to finish NaBloMoPo for reasons other than the chance at winning one of many! fabulous! prizes!

In the midst of my daily posting, however, I have started to get really sick of myself. Seriously. I am so over hearing what I have to say about anything! Looking back, I invited this on myself when I settled on a Q&A theme for the month. Yeah, I didn't really think that through very well, huh? But you guys have been lifting me up through your sweet and timely comments. Thank you so much. I really do read each one and have been treasuring them greatly this month!

On to today's question. Another from Lori who asks, "If you could go back to college for free, would you? What would you study?"

What beautiful irony - this speaks to another half-finished area of my life!

Right after The Coach and I graduated with our undergrads, he began his graduate assistantship at our alma mater which meant beginning his Masters work. We were full-time university employees (residence hall advisors for the freshman dorm. Fun!), so our tuition was free. Since I was basically an at-home wife with a husband jugglign grad work and coaching, I took full advantage of the university's offer and began graduate work in education with a specialization in library media science. If I ever return to the work force, I can't imagine a more fun job than being a librarian! (Oh yes, I am quite the uber-nerd. I told ya so!)

But life intervened and uprooted us from our ol' Okie home and moved us southward to Fort Worth. I started teaching full-time, and you guessed it - never finished my Masters!

So, yes. If it were free and my children were in good hands, I would love to go back and complete my Masters in Library Science. If nothing else, getting to read all of the latest and greatest in the world of children's and young adult literature would make it all worth my while. (And would be a delicious reward for the less glamorous courses on the ins-and-outs of copyright law and cataloging and classification.)

What about ya'll? Is anyone in school right now? As we speak? (Ha! I caught you not doing your homework!) Anyone with plans to go back to school in the Great Someday?

Monday, November 19, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #8 - On birth order

Hey, you know what? Thank you so much for your encouraging words on last night's last minute posting. I had no idea how many days I actually take off from blogging until I found myself under the (self-imposed) gun to post everyday. This is kind of exhausting. I have no idea how daily writers do it!


Anyway, today's question is another from friend Lori. What are your thoughts on birth order? Do you think about how it shaped you as a person? Do you worry/think about it for your children?


Although I have never read any "formal research" on the topic, I personally think there is a lot to the idea of birth order and how it plays into the kind of people we become. I am the oldest of four and can be a bit overbearing, particularly when it comes to doling out unsolicited advice. I also feel the need to nurture and take care of those around me, although most of my nurturing energy is expended on my little ones these days. Before I had children, I spent much more time taking care of my friends. I actually think being the oldest has shaped who I am in many ways, but mostly in good ways which is why I don't worry about it too much with my own children.

What about ya'll? Are you a typical oldest child or the baby of the family? Do you have middle child syndrome? Has birth order affected the personalities/temperaments of your children?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

under the wire

Almost forgot to post today!

NaBloPoMo - it's been fun, but never again, okay?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

de-lovely!

De-lovely is seeing the big ol' grin on AJ's face when she is getting ready to nurse. The big ol' grin is usually accompanied by a delightful excited baby laugh, as well.

I'd love to know - what's delightful, delicious, and de-lovely in your life this weekend?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Live first

Last night was the end of The Season for us, so we are celebrating with some family time this weekend. I'll probably just do some token NaBloPoMo posts over the weekend, because as Katherine at Raising Five reminds us, you gotta live first, blog later . . .

(Sheila -I'll email you over the weekend with my carrier suggestions!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #7 - As long as there's football

Today's question is the first in a series of four from my wonderful friend Lori of Fairytales and Margaritas. I just love Lori. I have known her for, gosh, over two years now, but I am sad to say we haven't ever gotten to meet-up offline. She is a funny, passionate, smart, and loving mama to four, and she is also quite possibly one of the most generous people I have ever met. She's a lot of fun, and I highly recommend you stop by her place if you have time!

Lori asks "Do you think you'll ever move from Texas? Like maybe Arizona, we have football."

Well I never been to heaven
But I been to Oklahoma
Well they tell me I was born there
But I really don't remember
In Oklahoma, not Arizona
What does it matter
What does it matter

A little Three Dog Night there for ya'll. For some reason, whenever I think about Arizona, I think of that song. I love that song. I think it's one of my all. time. faves.

*returning from tangent*

Hmmmmm, will we ever leave Texas? I honestly don't know. The Coach and I love living here. Though both of us were raised one state to the north, Texas is definitely home to us now. The tricky thing about this profession (college football) is that until you get to be super successful, you don't really choose where you coach. The school chooses you.

And, of course, we both believe God's Hand of sovereignty is ultimately what is determining where we live . . . and actually whether or not we'll stay in this biz. It's been a tough season, and so often at the conclusion of tough seasons, we start kicking around the ol' is it time to get out of this thing? question.

There really isn't an answer for this question for us. I will say in my younger and more adventurous years, I would start itching to move after three seasons at a school. Now that we have children and I have found an amazing and loving and supportive community of friends, the thought of leaving here is quite unappealing.

Lori, I do have to say I would not be entirely unopposed to Arizona. I would rather have hot, hot, hot than snow, snow, snow any day of the week! But I hear the ladies are insane there, and they sure know how to use it . . . Or wait - was that Spain? What does it matter? What does it matter . . .

I figure if I am going to have that song in my head the rest of the day, ya'll might as well, too! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Construction

Sorta need to do some updating and fixing up around here today. And then I am off to catch up on the tons of blog reading I have been neglecting while I am pulling my hair out NaBloPoMoing!

I am going to be working with relabeling some old posts as well, so if you see a bunch of re-runs come up in your Google Reader or Bloglines, that's why.

Hope your Tuesday is gorgeous!

Monday, November 12, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #6 - In the minds of men

Thank you so much for your kind words following yesterday's post on D's speech delay. I followed up in the comments with where we are headed next in terms of her speech therapy. I will keep everyone updated around here!

So, today's SortaCrunchy Q&A comes from one of my very most favorite blogarinas (who just happens to have a rockin' name, too) - Megan of FriedOkra. I know most everyone who is anyone reads FriedOkra now, but I can say I knew her way back when . . . Don't believe me? Go check out her very first post and you'll find a comment there from Yours Crunchy Truly. And hey! While you are digging through her back posts, may I recommend Skin, My Congenital Inelegance, and Public Pool Enemies? Megan also has some more serious stuff there, too - some gorgeous poetry, tear-jerking mommy reflections, and the captivating story of how she and her man came to be man and wife. Good reads!

Okay, on to Megan's question: Do you ever wonder what it'd be like to be a man? I mean besides the obvious physiological differences, do you ponder the deeper ones and how they shape the male experience? Have you ever read or heard anything that seems to sum things up for you on any level? Or does the male psyche remain a mystery to you?

Well, I must start by saying that men in general (and my husband in particular) are totally a mystery to me. Just when I think I have solved that riddle, another situation arises in which I am reminded that I absolutely do not have my man all figured out. I am not sure I would want to. I like a good mystery.

Have I ever wondered what it would be like to be a man? I think so - from time to time. I wonder what it would be like to not give a second thought to getting a little sideways with a friend because you know it will all be forgotten the next time you see him. I wonder what it would be like to be in a completely foreign environment and still have a complete grasp on which way is north. I wonder what it would be like to lift the hood of a car with confidence and not intimidation.

(Please forgive the gross generalizations and gender stereotyping . . . I'm just saying that's what I have wondered about . . .)

I do ponder the deeper things and marvel at how our perceptions of the exact same situation can be so radically different.

I will say that there is a book I read that helped me enormously in understanding how the male mind reacts to and perceives a variety of hot topics - from work to money to sex to what it feels like for a man to see his wife "let herself go." Shaunti Feldhan's For Women Only: What You Need To Know About the Inner Lives of Men is a great read on this topic.

She is a Christian writer, but this book goes beyond examining what church-going men think and believe. She carefully researched and surveyed one thousand men (in both religious and secular settings) and publishes her results in this book. If anything, this book is a great catalyst for important conversations with the man in your life. After I read it, I asked The Coach about various statements made in the book; there were some on which he said, "Oh yeah, that's totally true," and other things he didn't completely agree with. Anyway, as far as getting a better grasp on why men perceive certain areas of life so differently than we do, this book is worth the short amount of time it takes to read it.

My apologies, Megan, as I feel I didn't answer this question as thoroughly as I could have if I were operating on all cylinders . . . Between a baby with a yucky cough and a potty-learning toddler and staying up to visit with my hubby when he gets home (way past my bedtime), I am afraid my brain is sorta foggy today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #5 - Motherhood's biggest challenge

Today's SortaCrunchy question is from a very sweet reader I have really enjoyed getting to know - "seattlebags" Sheila. She asks, "What has been your biggest challenge as a mother thus far?"

It's tempting, actually, to write that getting through D's earliest and most high-needs weeks and months has been my biggest challenge. But that's not really true. The biggest challenge I have faced so far involves something that I am pretty sure I have never blogged about. My closest friends and, of course, my family all know about this challenge, but I just never have known if and how to talk about it here.

When D was about seven months old, I began to realize that she wasn't very "talkative." I would read my monthly "Your Child This Month" updates from Babycenter and carefully watched the development charts and suspected that she wasn't babbling and trying sounds the way she should have been at that age. Other parents I talked to about my concerns assured me it was very early to have too many expectations and to just keep talking to her and reading to her and it she'd be up to speed in no time.

By the time she was twelve months and many of her peers were mimicking words and saying at the very least mama and dada, we had nothing. Just the occasional squeals and shrieks, but nothing even close to speech. At eighteen months, still nothing. By that time, I was starting to get a little freaked out. Finally, when she was days away from turning two and still had no spoken words at all, I called Early Childhood Intervention.

The ECI assessment confirmed what I had known to be true for months. D had a severe expressive speech delay. At this point, she was a year behind in her expressive language. I remember being quite emotional over the results. On the one hand, it was such a relief to have someone confirm for me that my concerns were legitimate. On the other hand, it spoke of another kind of confirmation . . . that there was something wrong with my daughter.

When I was pregnant with D, I would sit in the rocking chair in her room and rock and talk to her and pray over her. I prayed that God would knit her together in my womb exactly according to His plans for her - whatever that would mean. She arrived healthy and whole and I breathed a sigh of relief thinking that we were on our way to raising a normal child.

Discovering that your baby falls outside the normal curve is not just a little upsetting. I struggled with guilt that I had done something, or not done something, to create or contribute to her delay. I battled the jealousy that arose as I overheard conversations her peers were having with their parents. I mourned for the dialogue that didn't exist between D and me.

We weathered months of speech therapy that rendered very little improvement. Foolishly I began searching the Internet to see if perhaps D's speech delay was symptomatic of a bigger disorder. Just before she hit the two-and-a-half mark, I found myself sinking into a heavy, dark sadness that bordered on despair. Frustration over her lack of progress combined with guilt over my inability to draw speech out of her left me feeling exhausted and empty.

And then, something amazing happened. I have a friend here in town who spent years working in early intervention before her children were born. When I shared my frustrations and concerns with her, she invited D and I to come over to play. I simply cannot explain how or why, but it's as if that day a switch was turned on inside of D. My friend showed me some new techniques and approaches we hadn't tried yet, and using these approaches marked the beginning of an explosion in what D showed us she was capable of doing. (Explosion may not be the best description . . . more like slow and steady and remarkable growth.)

It's been a little over three months since D has started talking more and more. It was no surprise to her father or me that her first two-word phrase was a command - "Mama, here!" I swear she really started talking so she could boss us around! There are days when the constant "mommy, Mommy, MOMMY!" starts to wear my nerves a bit, but I stop to remember that there were oh so many days and weeks and months when my heart just ached over not hearing that word from her lips. It has been indescribably rewarding to listen to the new words and sentences that each day brings.

And so, to answer Sheila's question, this - more than the days of no naps and sleepless nights and toddler tantrums and sibling angst - this journey has been the biggest challenge I've endured since the day I earned the name Mother.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Have a handmade holiday

Last night was a pretty big night in our little casa. For the first time ever, Miss D (who is nearing three) tinkled in the potty! Oh, there was much dancing and celebration over that, let me tell you.

And so, fully aware that I am surely jinxing myself, I have been having such fun shopping for training pants. Only a real cloth diaper nerd would ever say something like that, but how could a mama not have a little fun while browsing training pants in the form of Bright Bots, Divine Trainers, and Ditto Daddy briefs?


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you clicked on those last two links, you might have noticed they took you to storefronts found at Hyena Cart. Not familiar with Hyena Cart? Let me introduce you.


Hyena Cart is "A collection of earth-friendly shops" that started as a place where work-at-home-moms who were sewing diapers and knitting wool covers could sell their wares. I don't when it was created, but I do know it has gone through exponential growth in just the past year.

This summer and fall has brought a disturbing round of toy recalls, and perhaps this year you are hoping to be more plastic-free and earth-friendly in your holiday purchases. Here are some of the things you might stumble across while window shopping at HC:

For the kids
* wooden cars and trucks
* hand-sewn organic plush toys
* felted wool food from Wool Food Market
and all kinds of other fun stuff from the toys, books, and craft kits stores

For the ladies
* all-natural bath salts
* Goddess Wraps
* silk ring sling

For the menfolk
* all-natural muscle joint cream
* old-fashioned sandalwood soap
* maybe even some military ducks! (how cute are they?!?!)

That should be enough to whet your appetites . . . Happy shopping!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sweethearts

Hate to post and run, but the SortaCrunchy hacienda is having a flare-up of Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome. Again. But yesterday we had the wonderful treat of driving down the road a bit and visiting my Sweet Friend Keara and her two gorgeous boys.


I think it's love . . .


Thursday, November 08, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #4 - Their future men

Elle was sweet enough to offer two questions for my month of Q&A, and here's her second question: " . . . as a mom of girls, what qualities would you ask moms of boys to consider in their training of future husbands and daddies?"

Well, a quality that I would personally place as the highest priority is to raise up men who know and love the Lord. Not just men who were raised with the memorization of scripture and perfect attendance in Sunday School, but men who had modeled for them what a real relationship with Christ looks like lived out in every day life. Men whose reality matches their theology. And ideally, men who have seen what a healthy and vibrant marriage can and should be.

Not that I have high standards or anything.

Men who would say to my girls when they are dating, "I only have eyes for you." And show it.

Men who would say to my girls after they have become man and wife, "You are more lovely every day." And mean it.

Men who would say to my girls once they have started the journey of parenthood together, "What can I do to help?" And do it.

Those, my friend, would be some mighty fine men whom I would welcome to our family with open arms.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #3 - Choosing a baby carrier

I need more coffee, ya'll. Or more sleep. Somethin. I am so sluggish these days! I feel awful that I am not making my bloggy rounds to see what everyone is up to this fine week. I am just plum worn out. I hope to be up for more socializing very soon . . .

In the meantime, my next SortaCrunchy question is from Elle of A Complete Thought. (VERY insightful and informative writer, by the way. I highly suggest you check her out!) She asks, "I was a baby wearer as well. I loved the soothing aspect for both mama and baby. What benefits would you discuss with a new mama debating whether to Bjorn or sling?"

It's funny, just this very morning at playgroup day at the gym, a mama asked me this question!

Let me start by saying that babywearing is one of those practices that I was sorta forced into by my lovely high needs oldest daughter. She just would not lay in that stinkin' infant car seat (we call it the bucket) while I grocery shopped, and it all it took was one trip through the aisles with her precariously clutched against my chest with one hand while I dragged the cart with the other for me to decide I had to find a better solution. I had registered for a Bjorn, but never received one. I'm a (wo)man of means by no means, so I had to settle for a cheaper knock-off. It worked okay . . . for about a month. Then my shoulders started to ache within fifteen minutes of wearing Jabba the Baby (D weighed fourteen and a half pounds at two months and eighteen pounds at four months!), and by the time I had made my rounds through the grocery store, I would be close to tears.

Again, I knew I had to find a better solution. By sheer chance miracle, I saw a post on my mommy message board about Lucky Baby pouch slings. By this time, D was five months old and could easily ride on my hip, so I ordered one, and my love for babywearing began!

To get back to Elle's question, the biggest benefit, in my opinion, to choosing a non-structured carrier instead of a Bjorn-style carrier is that you will be lucky to get six months of wear out of a Bjorn. A non-structured carrier (pouch sling, mei tai, wrap, ring sling, or soft structured carrier) will take you well into toddlerhood. I was wearing D in our Ergo right up until I got pregnant with AJ. Certainly, any new mama may want to choose the more mainstream and widely available Bjorn and it will work fine while the baby is little. But if she is already planning to spend close to $100 on a carrier (or someone is buying one for her), I highly recommend researching non-structured carriers as an alternative.

(Side note - there are some concerns about structured carriers having some negative impacts on a baby's development or possibly contributing to hip dysplasia, but this would generally only happen if baby were worn for hours on end for several months in such a carrier. Interestingly, there is evidence that a non-structured carrier will contribute positively to a baby's developing spine as is evidenced by this article.)

My personal recommendations, you ask? I will tell you my two very, very favorites are the above-mentioned Ergo and our Mei Tai Baby. Neither of my girls have liked be worn in the cradle carry which is a popular way to wear newborns in a pouch (like Lucky Baby or Hotsling) or ring sling (like Maya Wrap or Taylor Made). Both the Ergo and Mei Tai Baby allow me to wear them upright which is the three of us seem to prefer. I prefer the Mei Tai Baby over the many other makers of mei tai carriers because 1)it has the adjustable bottom which makes it easier to wear newborns and 2) you have the option of ordering one with removable panels so when you tire of the print, you can switch the panel out for a totally new look! So, those are my favorites, but there is great big (overwhelming) world of choices out there.

Again, returning to Elle's question, here's what I would advise a friend who is looking into buying a carrier and wants to go a different route from a Bjorn. (JB and KM, this is for you!)

1) Register for an account at TheBabywearer.com. Once you have registered there, you have access to the plethora of carrier listings and reviews. HUGE help.

2) Sign up for a Paypal account. If you decide to buy a brand new carrier and want to shop from a parent-owned business, there are some who can only accept payments from credit cards through Paypal. You can link your Paypal account to your checking account as well which works out nicely if you are paying cash for your new carrier.

If you decide you want to buy a used carrier, you will most likely need a Paypal account to pay the seller. More on that in a second.

3) Start browsing stores that sell carriers. There are many. Many. Many. Attached to Baby is a great resource. Fox Den Lane is another good one. Then there's Mamas Milk.

Readers - where do you like to shop for carriers? Who would you suggest?

Browsing these stores will give you a good idea of what style of carrier you might like and how much they run brand new. If you are buying new, then you may just find the carrier of your dreams while you are window shopping one day!

4) I have only purchased a few of our slings brand new. I am a bargain hunter and hate to pay retail when I can find it for less somewhere. Two places you can shop for gently used slings are Ebay and the For Sale or Trade Forum at thebabywearer. Ebay - ehhhh. I am not a good Ebay shopper and never seem to get quite as good of a deal as I think I am going to. If you are a good Ebayer, maybe you will have more luck than I have had. I prefer the FSOT forum.

5) If you are shopping the FSOT forum, it may be intimidating at first because most every listing will use abbreviations. What you can do is use the "search forum" feature to search only for the specific carrier you are looking for (for example, do a search in that forum for "hotsling").

If you are going to buy from FSOT, make sure to read through the stickied post called "FSOT rules and helpful hints."

Speaking of abbreviating, I should wrap this up. (Get it? Wrap?)

Here's a neat blog I just stumbled across as I was preparing this post - will have to check it out: The Baby Carrier

Would love to hear from anyone who wants to share their babywearing favorites! I am always up for some babywearing chit-chat!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Our Selective/Delayed Vaccination Schedule

IMPORTANT UPDATE AS OF APRIL 20th, 2008

This month, I finally purchased Dr. Bob Sears' The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. I can say with absolute confidence this is a book every parent should have in their library. It is decidedly pro-vaccine, so if you tend to lean towards not vaccinating, it may cause you some concern. But if even you are not vaccinating your children, this book may give you some insights into the decision-making process of parents who do vaccinate. If you tend to lean towards vaccinating but have concerns over the CDC schedule and/or vaccine ingredients, I believe you will find this book to be immensely helpful.

Having said that, I am updating our original selective/delayed vaccine schedule below based on what I now know having read The Vaccine Book. For example, I did not realize that now (2008) all the major vaccines are now mercury-free. (There is still trace amounts of mercury in some brands of the flu shot.) Therefore, I have removed the "mercury-free" label that I had put in front of each of vaccine names. Additionally, I am switching the order of the measles and mumps vaccines. Originally, I had measles at 15 months and mumps at 39 months. Now, I will do mumps at 15 months and measles at 39 months. I still feel comfortable with delaying the Prevnar (Pc) vaccine, but please bear in mind that my babies are exclusively breastfed and not in group daycare situations. Dr. Sears feels that young babies should be receiving this vaccine, so please remember that your circumstances may warrant this one earlier than I have it scheduled.

I have received so many emails and comments from parents who are trying to make this hugely important decision for their children. I appreciate each email and comment and try to respond quickly and accurately as often as possible. I want to stress that this schedule is one that is best for our family, for my child. Every family has a unique set of circumstances that are made up of your family's medical history, your geographic location, and your access to doctors (and evidently, insurance coverages) that are open to alternate approaches to vaccines. All of that is to say that while my schedule may be a good starting point for you in creating your own schedule, please know that it is by no means a definitive selective/delayed schedule. You alone can make the best choice for your child.

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This morning, I took AJ in for a well-baby check, and it reminded me that this might be a good time to share the delayed vaccination schedule we have come up with for her. This schedule is based on Dr. Stephanie Cave's What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations (shout out to my friend KM for passing this on to me!!).

Here is our schedule:

Hep B
Delay until the year before starting school, although we may consider starting the series as early as two and half if we are considering preschool at the time.

Hib
4 mo, 6 mo, 8 mo, 17 mo

IPV
4 mo, 6 mo, 8 mo, 17 mo (booster at 4 years)

DtaP
5 mo, 7 mo, 9 mo, 15 or 18 mo (booster at 4 years)

Pneumococcal (PREVNAR)one dose at age 2

Varicela (Varivax)
Age four, if at all

MMR
Mumps – 15 mo
Rubella – 27 mo
Measles – 39 mo
Booster – age 5

Now, some physicians will tell you that you cannot get the MMR separated. This was a huge area of concern for me as my youngest sister had a reaction to the MMR vaccine that resulted in her having both epilepsy (now outgrown) and Asperger Syndrome. I did just a little digging in the Delayed Vaccinations forum at MDC, and found this information:

Dr. Stephanie Cave is an advocate for children being immunized with three separate doses instead of the MMR combined. Reportedly, she asked for American Medicine (wholesale pharmaceutical company) to carry these immunizations. The owners of American Medicine are Mark and Bridgette Schexnayder who are also pharmacists.

The pharmaceutical company of these three separate immunizations is Merck.

American Medicine will need the following from your doctor:
Doctor’s prescription with the child’s name
Copy of Doctor’s license
Have your doctor fax this to 225-924-0249.

You will then pay American Medicine (225-924-0247) and they will overnight the immunizations to your doctor. You will have to pay the overnight shipping fee due to the medicine needing to be refrigerated.

Make sure you ask for the expiration dates so that you will know ahead of time and for your records.

September 2007- Cost is appx. $119 (for all 3) plus shipping/handling (+-$20.)

I called the company and talked to Bridgette Schexnayder today. She said the $119 is for all three vaccinations which they overnight to your doctor's office at one time. She said the vaccines are currently on backorder, but they should be receiving a new shipment next month (Dec 07). She also said the vaccines will have about eighteen months until they expire. If that is the case, we will have to reevaluate and adjust when AJ gets each of these three vaccines as I currently have them spaced over a longer time period than eighteen months.

Another MDC member posted that Johnson Drug will also send you the separate vaccines. I have not personally contacted them to verify this information, but I wanted to share it as well. This MDC member stated that to order from Johnson Drug, you need a prescription from your pediatrician and to expect to pay about $40 per vaccine.

Anyone else have a delayed vaccination schedule you want to share? I would love to read what other people are choosing. Post in the comments or share it on your blog and let me know so I can check it out!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Two months of wonder and joy

Dear Aliza Joy,

Two hours old



to two months old,



every day you are our Joyful Joy.



We love you and can't wait to get to know you better in the days and weeks and months and years ahead of us.

(Your sister loves you , too. She just doesn't quite know how to express that yet beyond the "gentle" bounces she gives you in your bouncy chair and obsessively switching your swing from the first setting to the second because she loooooooooooooves the number two and is quite sure you do, too.)



Love you, love you, love you,
Mommy and Daddy and Dacey

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I promise to get back to my SortaCrunchy Q&A questions soon!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

It's the simple things, like a well-cooked steak

It occurs to me that I don't talk about The Coach much here on the ol' blog. He is an extremely private person, so I try to honor that by not revealing too much about him on the web that is world wide. You know, because I have a lot of readers and all. But I am going to make an exception today to share this with you about my man.

My husband really is a Renaissance man. Equally at ease with coaching up three hundred pound defensive lineman as he is with shopping for and hanging brand new drapery in our living room, there is simply nothing he can't do. Well, except change dirty diapers. As much as he enjoys some good old-fashioned toilet humor, there's something about coming face-to-face (hand-to-diaper?) with real life toileting that brings him to the brink of vomithood. I can only handle one clean-up at a time, so he gets a free pass on the dirty diaper changing.

Anyway, one area where he really shines is in the preparation and grilling of meat.

(Vegetarian Friends, it's at this point that you may want to tune out.)

Last week, we had planned to celebrate a really big victory for the team with a really big steak dinner. However, in a week filled with the distractions of Halloween and intense game planning, the really big steak dinner plan never came to fruition. He hadn't forgotten the plan though, and called yesterday morning to say he had just received a nice bottle of red wine that needed some rib eye steaks to go with it. Off to the store I went and found some gorgeous rib eyes, marbled to perfection.

I set them up to bathe in our secret family recipe for meat marinade and spent the rest of the day comforting and cuddling a feverish Miss D. Because she was sick, the girls and I stayed home from last night's game, but by the time the last seconds ticked off the game clock, The Coach and I had another big win to celebrate! He skipped the post-game tailgates and hurried home for some quality time with his much-neglected grill wife.

Finally, a little after ten in the evening, we loaded our plates with pan-fried green beans, mashed potatoes, Hawaiian bread, and those gorgeous, glorious steaks. As we blew the dust out of the wine glasses, we joked that eating at such a late hour made us feel like them fancy New York types. And, oh, we were fancy, indeed! He in his wind pants and me in my gray running shorts . . . But the wine was rich, the potatoes were comforting, and the steaks were perfection.

D had long since gone to sleep and AJ snoozed peacefully in her bouncy seat. We talked about the game, the scores from the day, the weather, the future . . . It was the first date we had been on in ages. Our dinner last night reminded me of why I treasure simplicity so much. A great meal in the cozy comfort of our own home confirmed for me that in this season of life, simple is the new fancy.

What's that you say? You were wondering if I could share the secret family recipe for an outstanding meat marinade?

Well, if you are going to twist my arm like that, I suppose I can let it spill.

It's simple.

Combine equal parts soy sauce, vegetable oil, and lemon or lime juice (we like lime). Put the meat in a gallon size freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Let the meat soak for as long as you have . . . overnight is great, but even just a few hours will work. Before the meat is cooked, we like to generously dust the meat with garlic pepper. Works nicely for beef or chicken and is definitely, definitely good eats!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #2 - Raising Girls

What worries you most about raising daughters?

This question, from my sweet friend Corey at Living and Loving Every Minute of It, has prompted a lot of reflection for me.

I remember with vivid accuracy how elated I was when the ultrasound tech moved the wand over my belly and proclaimed over D, "It's a girl!" Over the moon, I was. Visions of sugar and spice, of tutus and dress-up heels, of shopping for prom dresses and a wedding dress, began to dance in my head. "A girl baby! A girl baby!" my nieces shrieked when they were told our happy news. Little girls and grown-up girls alike go a little ga-ga over brand new bundles of pink and sweet. Gazing into those baby girl eyes, we imagine a sparkly future replete with all the glittery memories of our own girlhoods. Pigtails and baby dolls. Slumber parties and puppy love. Phone calls and pom-pons.

As a mother to not one, but now two, little visions in pink, I daydream those sunny futures for my girls. And as a mother, I am sometimes gripped with extraordinary fear when my thoughts take a turn down darker paths. Sometimes it's a story on the news that triggers a nearly paralyzing reaction in me as I consider what evil could be waiting to prey on my precious daughters. Other times, a flash of memory from my own past takes my breath away as I consider how painful it can be to grow from girl to woman. So yes, in the midst of the ribbons and bows, I worry.

For I know all too well the sting of a best friend's rejection . . . She doesn't want to be my friend anymore.

I know the heartache of not being good enough . . . My name wasn't on the list.

I know the sorrow of a broken heart . . . He just wants to be friends.

I know that even if I confined my daughters to our house, that somehow the hurt and the sad would still find its way in. I guess what worries me most is that I am helpless to protect them from the scrapes and stings and tears and blue that are all part of being wrapped up in this skin called woman. I am as helpless as my own mother was to protect me from the many dramas (both real and imagined) that she walked me through and talked me through. As each of us know, those lows that come with the highs and the pain that comes with the joy are all part of what makes us who we are as women. I'll always be fighting that urge to protect them, even as I loosen my grip on their hands to allow them freedom to experience this life for themselves.

There is so much to be tempted to worry over. In the face of that worry, I am reminded to pray. I pray so much for my daughters, but my most earnest request for each is that the love they fall for first would be the ever-pursuing, ever-steady love of The Bridegroom. For if each of my daughters is rooted and established in the love of Christ first and foremost, I can be sure that when the day of hurt and heartbreak finds them, they will have a safe place to land . . . in His Arms.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Feeling Notesy?

So, uh, here's the thing. Along the path from our bedroom to the laundry room, little piles of little clothes (mostly pink and purple) are beginning to form. Seeing as how dirty laundry is literally climbing the wall up and out of the laundry basket in our room, I do believe our clothes are now so overdue for a good cleansing day at the spa, they are trying to just up and walk themselves to the laundry.

Because random piles of laundry scattered throughout the house couldn't be a sign of my shameful housekeeping habits. Oh no, surely it could not.

But I am also kind of thinking the Toilet Fairy has gone on strike (again! ugh! good help is so hard to find . . .) because dem potties are lookin' nasty.

Which brings me to today's post . . .

The next question on the list for my SortaCrunchy Q&A is a good one, and I don't have the time I want to spend with it today (mostly because of aforementioned laundry piles and dirty toilets, but also because of other housekeeping horrors which I would feel quite shameful in sharing out loud), but what I do have time for is a work-at-home-mama-brag/recommendation/let-me-point-you-in-this-direction/you-need-to-shop-here! post.

Upon arriving home from this morning's prayer coffee gathering, I was thrilled to find the mailman had delivered my order from Just Being Notesy! Hoorah!! For those of you not familiar with this brand-new business, it's the newest project of the sweet treat of a mama over at The Wooden Porch. Take a minute to click on over there and check out her creations.

I was needing to find a gift for a dear friend of mine who can be a challenge to shop for (she can easily afford to buy the things she wants or needs the most), but she loves all things stationery. When Just Being Notesy opened, I knew I had found the perfect gift for her. Here's how my order turned out (but please ignore my bad photography!):
So modern! So hip! So chic! And working with a mama-run business is always such a treat for me. It's very obvious Lani has put a lot of thought into all aspects of her new business. Every detail is just right, and she included a sweet and thoughtful handwritten note which just topped off the whole experience.

Without a doubt, I will be back to order more cards - soon! If only I can ever decide on which design I want . . . Hmmmmmmm . . .

(This is not a paid-for endorsment in any way. I ordered and paid for the cards myself. I am just so happy with my order I had to share my enthusiasm!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

SortaCrunchy Q&A #1 - Dream Vacation

Hi everyone! Hope the end of your October was great and included lots of thorough teeth brushing.

We are kicking off NaBloPoMo today! As promised, I will spend the month answering questions from ya'll, and when I run out of questions I may just start asking you some questions. Stay tuned to find out!

Today's question is from the very sweet, very busy mama-to-five Julie of love, laughter, and laundry. She asks, "If money or time was not a concern where would you chose to vacation with your family? How long until you got homesick and would want to come home? Would you want to bring extended family with you, or just take your hubby and kids?"

Thank you, Julie, for getting me started!

Oh, for a real vacation! Sounds dreamy. Because we live so far from family, the precious time that The Coach has for vacation is most often spent visiting family and friends in our beloved Oklahoma. I don't think we have taken an honest-to-goodness vacation since our honeymoon!

Let's see, I think I could be pretty well delighted with a nice little jaunt through the nation of Greece with a cruise through the Greek Isles for dessert. Studying Greek myth was one of my favorite courses as an English major, and I can only imagine how fascinating it would be to walk through history there while soaking up the current Grecian culture.

As far as length of the trip, I have to say that both The Coach and I are major homebodies. Our ten day tours through Oklahoma often leave us longing for our little home. I am thinking a maximum of two weeks away from home is about all either of us could handle.

I do love both of our families dearly, but I don't think I would be great at vacationing with them. I have this weird thing were I tend to think I am exclusively responsible for making sure guests are enjoying themselves. I imagine if extended family went on vaca with us, this weird quirk of mine would translate into me checking on everyone every half hour or so . . . "You doin' okay? Can I get you anything? You havin' fun?" So yeah - just the SortaCrunchy fam would be most enjoyable for me, I do believe. Particularly if all the SortaCrunchy kiddos are out of diapers!

Thanks again, Julie, for the questions!

Please feel free to offer up more questions as the month goes by. No question will go unanswered!