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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No need to deceive this one!

Evidently, there has come to be some heated discussions in the past few weeks regarding the idea of hiding veggies in the kiddos' food (a la Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef). I, for one, stand on the side of the fence with the big billboard that says whatever works. Jen and I are still waiting on our backordered copies of Deceptively Delicious to come in, but I have a sneaking suspicion the deceitfulness won't be all that necessary when it comes to D and her veggies.

Yesterday afternoon, we were working on some "art" projects when I felt the need to raid the kitchen for some afternoon snackage. I pulled out a shiny new box of puffed Club crackers as my snack du jour. Look at the box:
Notice how it says MULTI-GRAIN? That means it's good for you, right? Never mind the back of the box . . .
. . . and all that about the delicious butter-y-ness of it all. (They are quite enjoyably crispy, by the way.)
So I am trying to get D to join me in the perfectly puffed snacks, but she keeps asking for corn.
You want corn?
Like corn on the cob?

YESH! (with much emphatic head nodding)
So while I crunched on fat grams and calories of the buttery multi-grain variety, D took the high road with a satisfying whole food snack. I feel confident that the denizens of this household who will benefit the most from the Deceptively Delicious eats and treats will be The Coach and myself.
And just so no one feels left out, here is a gratuitous AJ shot from today, just shy of eight weeks:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Busy day in blogland

I realize that everyone who is anyone is busy with THE fall blogging event - Shannon's The Fall, Ya'll! Bloggy Giveaway! I think Shannon is an absolute peach for hosting a giveaway festivus again.

I had a blast doing the Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaways, but having just done a giveaway on my lonesome, I am going to sit out the fall giveaways. Oh, I will be entering those that my dear readers/fellow blogistas are holding, to be sure. But I think I will spend the rest of my down time today reading my back issues of Mothering Digital that I just haven't quite gotten around to yet.

Hope the start of your week is as gorgeous as it is here!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What Are You Into This Month?

I first saw this over at Adventures in Babywearing. Musings of a Housewife posted hers today, and since I haven't a thing else in the world to be doing right now (ahem), I decided to play along, too.

This Month...

The Book I Am Really Into (or one I want to get into!): Reading. Ah, yes. I remember it well. Days on end spent snuggled up with a book, my imagination ignited by the glories of the written word. *sigh* That season of life, the one with monthly book club meetings and stack after stack of books on the nightstand, has been eclipsed by the the raising babies span of years . . .

A friend did just send me The Dreams of Ada - a true crime story about the small town in Oklahoma where The Coach and I went to school and spent our early newlywed years. Looks good!

Also, my Bible study group is about to start Preparing My Heart For Advent: A Spiritual Pilgrimage for the Christmas Season. So looking forward to this one!

TV Show Worth Watching: Well, The Office. Totally. And The Coach and I are very into the new detective show on NBC - Life. Great writing and fascinating storyline.

And just one week until The Amazing Race kicks off again! WOO HOO!

Movie I’ve Seen (In or Out of a theater): I am so, so sad to say I truly cannot remember the last time we "went to the show" (which is what we called going to the movie the-a-ter in small town Oklahoma). I do remember our last visit there left us largely disenfranchised with the high ticket prices and noisy teenagers. Yes, we have become those people. You know, old.

Anyway, I am even more sad to say the movie we most recently rented was Blades of Glory. I usually do love Will Ferrell, but I am afraid this one just didn't quite do it for me. I'll take Elf any day.

The Candle I'm Loving: None at the moment, but I do love the smell of mulled cider simmering!

Blog I Am Always Visiting: Oh goodness. Too many to mention them all. One that I always find fascinating, encouraging, and enlightening is My Quotidian Mysteries. Laura and her sweet family currently live in Doha, and I always look forward to the perspectives she shares.

What I'm Most Looking Forward To Next Month: The end of the football season! (Let's see, I'll need to order my Worst Coach's Wife of the Year badge now. Any ideas on where I can find one of those?) Really, I generally love the football season. This one, however, has been particularly difficult for many reasons, not the least of which being the whole bringing home a new baby thing.

Oh yeah, I should say I am looking forward to the start of NaBloPoMo as well!

Now, who else wants to play? What are you into as October obligingly steps aside to make room for November's grand arrival? If you play along, let me know!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Catchin' Up

Blog Business . . .

Finally! I had a little time to update my sidebar by taking down Barefoot Buys and adding the Delightful Hands section. Here you will find links to work-at-home-moms whom I either know "offline" or through the blogging community. Did I leave anyone out who wants to be on the list? Let me know!

I came across this really fun giveaway at Crunchy Domestic Goddess! This is the most darling idea . . . baby and toddler t-shirts with sparkly words spelled out in braille! The company is called Bitty Braile and their designs are clever and original. They also offer personalized shirts with the child's name spelled out in braile - perfect gift for the baby who has everything! If you want to enter this giveaway, too, pop over to Crunchy Domestic Goddess before November 5th.
Hey Jen! I found these two articles at Ask Moxie for you! Maybe they will help with your cloth diaper dilemma? I was going to do a pro-and-con list of each of the different systems, but it looks like Moxie has pretty much covered it all.
Finally, a big thank you for a couple of awards I've recently received:
My sweet friend Corey gave me the Community Blogger Award! Thanks, friend!

The community of bloggers I have come to know are an absolutely joy to me. Three bloggers I would like to pass this award on to are Deb of Mom of Three Girls, Kristen of Diary of a Shoe Addict, and Karla of Looking Towards Heaven. Thanks, ladies, for all you do to promote community in blogland!

The Wooden Porch was nice enough to pass on the Nice Matters Award to me. Thank you, mama!
It would be utterly impossible for me to choose just one or two to pass this award on to. All of my friends and readers are wonderfully, marvelously nice!!
That's all the blog business for now. Make sure you have asked me a question for my SortaCrunchy Q&A NaBloPoMo challenge!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bit O' Crunchy, October 26: Autumn Air Fresheners

There is simply not a time of year that I love more than I love autumn. Deep in the heart of Texas, we may not have the vibrant foliage or the early frosty cold weather that other parts of the country enjoy, but we do have crisp cool nights when the air is punctuated by the sounds of the high school marching band playing under the stadium lights. The leaves do eventually turn and fall, and a toddler can entertain herself for a good long time sweeping the crunchy brown harvest off of the front porch. Pumpkin breads, pecan pies, and apple cobblers abound, and a lovely benefit to baking the season's favorite foods is the warm and inviting fragrance that fills the house.

There are many candles and air fresheners that have tried to mimic these appetizing scents of the season, but there's no need to spend money on knock-offs of nature. Even if you don't have time to bake, there are easy and natural ways to make it smell like you've been busy in the kitchen.

Here are some resources to get you started -

From's Sweet Autumn Air Fresheners:

* Add a tablespoon or more of ground cinnamon to a pan of simmering water. You could also add a cup of apple or orange juice to the water and use ground cloves instead of cinnamon.

* Collect autumn-y essential oils (cinnamon, clove, and sandalwood) and make an essential oil blend. The blend can be used in dried potpourri bowls around the house or added to water in a spritz bottle for a fast air fix.

If you have a minute, read the rest of the article for a few other great and natural ideas!

* Feeling particularly Martha Stewartish? Try her Pumpkin Pie Potpourri!

* How about making a nice, big batch of mulled cider? Here's a recipe I found at Eons: Lovin' Life on the Flip Side of 50
* 2 sticks cinnamon
* 5 or 6 whole cloves
* 8 cups organic apple cider, or as needed
Choose a large nonaluminum pan (apples are acidic and can leach aluminum from the pot), and add the spices and organic apple cider. Simmer over low heat for 3-4 hours, adding more cider as it evaporates. When you are ready to drink it, strain out the herbs, and serve it in cups and mugs.

* Finally, if you do decide to pick up an air freshener at your drugstore or supermarket, make sure it is free of toxic phthalates. Check this article at GreenerPenny for more info on that.

Hope everyone is taking time to drink in the sights and the sounds of this beautiful season!

NaBloPoMo kicks off in less than a week! I could use some more questions for next month's SortaCrunchy Q&A!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Loss for words

I had a Thursday Thirteen post all planned, but I just received news that one of my dear and sweet friends lost her mother today after a long and difficult illness. My heart hurts for her and that is what is on my mind most today. If you think of it, say a prayer for my friend S and her family. I know they will appreciate it . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who are you talking about?

A few weeks ago, I heard through the family grapevine that one of my family members had made some comments about D and my parenting choices that were very, very hurtful. Well, not so much the parenting choices because this family member doesn't have children and that can affect how you view the parenting styles of those around you. But the comments this person made about D's personality and development were so painful to hear, I actually cried when these statements were shared with me.

After I had some time to get a hold of myself, I felt the Lord prompting at my heart.

And so, are you ready to forgive him?

A few summers ago, the Lord used a wonderful book study to help me truly learn that as a Christian, I can forgive anyone of anything at any time. He is quick to call me on any unforgiveness I allow to start festering in my heart and nearly always quickens my spirit with the words of Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (NIV)

As I nursed my wounds over this family member's statements, I already knew this question from the Lord would be coming. As soon as I felt that prompting in my spirit, I was all ready with my defense.

"I know you want me to forgive him, Father, but you gotta cut me slack. This is my child we are talking about! My sweet, innocent, lovely daughter, whom You created by the way, and the things he said were just. so. wrong."

Ah, but our Father, He reminded me that I am to see to it that I extend grace to this person. The same grace extended to me when I do things that are just. so. wrong.

I surrendered up my hurt over these statements and allowed the work of forgiveness to be worked out in my heart through the power of Christ Jesus, in whom I have the ability to forgive.

It was after this that I began to think about how deeply painful it is for parents to hear their child being spoken about in a way that is less than loving. Hmmmm, less than loving. How many times have I spoken about people in a way that is less than loving? The ease with which I use my tongue for gossip . . . the judgmental declarations over that person whom I really know nothing about . . . the biting and secret sarcasm to cut down the very family member who had so badly hurt my feelings.

I have to wonder if each time I speak about anyone in a way meant to disparage rather than build-up, does our Heavenly Father cringe with the same anguish I felt when I heard was spoken about D? Is that person not also His child?

When God allowed those things my family member had said to be revealed to me, He knew exactly what He was doing. He was taming my tongue by speaking to me in a language I am fully immersed in the knowledge of - parenthood. More and more I find that when I am tempted to gossip or slander or curse or judge, I stop myself with the reminder that this person is Someone's child.

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." James 3:9-10 (NIV)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Can you help a mama out? (NaBloPoMo!)

Today I made the startling discovery that we are beginning the last full week of October.

For most people, this means gearing up for holiday cooking, holiday shopping, and all other manner of holiday glee. For many bloggers, however, the most wonderful time of the year kicks off with a blogging challenge that is as stimulating as it is exhausting . . . National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo, if you will . . .)

Last year, my friends Meghan, Ingrid, and Papaya Mom took up the NaBloPoMo challenge, and reading through their month o' posts proved to be fascinating and fun. Girls, ya'll are my inspiration for signing up for such self-imposed torture!

So, here's where I need a little help (or as D would say, HEP!) from my friends. I know myself well enough to know that if I don't put some order on this thing, I will most assuredly lose steam, lose focus, lose direction, and certainly lose the challenge. I have been tossing around some ideas for a theme for the month and have finally settled on one. My NaBloPoMo theme will be SortaCrunchy Q&A.

Every day in the month of November, I will answer a question. What I need from ya'll are the questions! The questions can be silly or serious, mundane or philosophical. Questions about me, natural family living, spirituality, PBS Kids, whatever! I welcome them all! (I do, however, encourage you to avoid to avoid questions that fall into the realm of anything mathematical or that have to do with the study of physics. I probably couldn't solve an algebraic equation to save my life, and I have already shared with you that my knowledge of physics leaves a lot to be desired.)

I figure I have a coupla dozen readers at this point. If everyone asks one question, I think I will have enough ammo to make it through the month. If not, I can always ask myself questions - which, believe me, is not a deviation from the norm for me at all. I spend lots of time asking myself questions throughout the day . . .

How is it possible I need to do laundry again?
Didn't I just pick up the living room?
Isn't ebay's new slogan "Shop Victoriously!" misleading at best, and at worst deceitful?
Why is it so quiet? Where's Dacey? What's that smell?

But to make things more fun for everyone, I would rather answer questions from ya'll. Please post your questions in the comments to this post, or you can email me (see sidebar) if you'd like.

Can't wait to hear your questions! Bring 'em on!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bit O' Crunchy, October 19: Homemade Baby Food

First of all, I need to make an introduction. This morning I shared with my in-town community of friends for the first time ever about my little home on the web. These friends of mine - awesome, amazing, wonderful, loving . . . I could go on and on. I love them to pieces! I have been hesitant to tell them about this little ol' blog, but the word is out now. So in-town friends, meet my online friends! I think everyone is going to get along just famously.

Last week, seattlebags asked if I had ever shared my own experience in using veggie purees, etc., in making homemade baby food. I got to looking back through the archives, and as a matter of fact, I have not. I guess D was far enough past the baby food stage when I started blogging for real that I just never thought to write about it here.

When D was five months old or so, one of my friends lent me her copy of Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. Seeing as how I am always on the lookout for ways to pinch a penny, the idea of saving money on baby food by making it myself had me hooked from the beginning. Ms. Yaron takes the idea of homemade baby food beyond the draw of frugality and explains how in making your own baby food, you have absolute control over what you are allowing to enter your tender young baby's system. She advocates organic eating whenever possible, although you don't have to if that won't work with your budget.

Ms. Yaron's book is a wealth of information. So much information, in fact, that I got kind of overstimulated when I tried to really read through it. It made my (self-diagnosed) ADD act up in a big way. Some mommy board friends of mine pointed me in the direction of - which, by the way, is even more user-friendly now than it was two years ago when I first found this helpful site.

These two resources were really all I needed to make almost all of D's baby food! (Yes, I do admit to buying jarred baby food for trips out of town because I am lazy like that . . .) But really, it was quite easy. Buy your fresh (or even frozen) fruits and veggies, get a rice/vegetable steamer, dig out the old blender, and locate those never-used-before ice cube trays in the back of the cabinet and you are all set!

One more site to check out . . . On Wednesday, Melissa (of Melissa Garrett ~ a writer's woolgatherings) posted her great success with one of Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious recipes. In that post, she makes mention of Mush - a new(ish) blog devoted to "All baby food recipes. All the time." If you want to get fancy with all of this baby food makin,' check their recipes for things like Mango and Fresh Apricot Puree, Butternut Squash Risotto, and California Chicken. Sounds fab, right? A heckuva lot better than decidedly unappetizing jarred version of Turkey Rice and Garden Vegetables or the decidedly unhealthy corn dogs a la Kids' Cuisine (not that I would know anything about preparing one of those for D! Oh no, I've just heard that such things exist . . .).

So that's your Bit O' Crunchy for the week. Good eats!

Delicious winner!

Good morning! The girls and I will be scooting off to Bible study soon, but I was too excited to wait much longer on choosing the winner of the SortaCrunchy Deceptively Delicious giveaway winner.

Thanks to who helped me randomly draw a number for today's winner . . .


Yay! Jen is a new mama to Nate and an all-around really neat woman. Be sure to check her out!

Congrats to Jen and THANK YOU to everyone for entering.

Back later with today's Bit O' Crunchy!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I get to giggling . . .

For some reason, all of my bloggy thoughts lately have been a little uncharacteristically Debbie Downer-ish in nature (mostly my thoughts, not so much what I am actually posting). I think a Thursday Thirteen about things that make me laugh might help me to perk up a little!

Here's to things that make me chuckle . . .

1. All of NBC's Thursday night line-up,
2. but particularly The Office
3. and Shrute-Space (but come on, Dwight! Update already!).
4. Christmas Vacation. I have seen it one point two cajillion times, but still I laugh - every time.
5. I am the biggest dork ever, but I laugh out loud when I watch America's Funniest Home videos. A lot. An embarrassing amount of laughter.
6. Toots. All kinds. Baby toots, daddy toots, stranger in the grocery store aisle toots. (Mommy doesn't toot, of course. And we don't say the f-a-r-t word in this house.)
7. Pachelbel bedtime
8. A lot, a lot, a lot of Mommy Bloggers who are so much more witty than I could ever be
9. like DeeDee
10. and Megan to name just a few. I mean really, there are so many that actually make me laugh out loud. Such sweet medicine.
11. D's Texas accent. She says "dog" with a long "o" and "bye" with a staccato "BI!"
12. The way AJ tries to latch on to Daddy's lips when he gives her kisses. Hilarious. I need to get it on video . . .
13. Oh my gosh, I hope no one takes me off of their blogroll for this, but Family Guy. I know! I know! It's AWFUL!!! I never watched it until our Fox station started showing re-runs at 10:30 every night. It's usually the last thing I catch before bed and it's kind of nice to go to sleep chuckling. . .

Don't forget! Tonight at midnight (whatever time zone you are in . . .) is the deadline to enter the SortaCrunchy giveaway!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Regrets . . . I've had a few . . .

Would you like to know what I am listening to right now? Silence. Pure, golden silence. AJ is snoozing happily beside me and D is off in Dream Land. I have all fingers and toes crossed that the two prior days of nap strikage were just flukes and that we can hang on to this nap time a bit longer. Thank you so much for your encouragement and commiseration yesterday! It means the world to me.

Stressing out Thinking reflectively on D's nap times (and lack thereof) hearkens me back to a different place and time. A time when I was a shiny brand new mama (and by shiny, I mean shiny-faced due to lack of personal hygiene combined with not a just a few shed tears. And my - that sounds pitiful! It wasn't all that bad. I suppose.) Anyway, Shiny Brand New Mama spent the first three to four months of her oldest child's life completely, utterly, stupidly obsessed with her child's sleep, or lack thereof. See, a well-meaning family member had well-meaningly given Shiny Brand New Mama a copy of a book said family member had found to be helpful when her children were babies. The subtitle to this book is Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep. Shiny Brand New Mama had read this book voraciously before her oldest was born and fully intended to follow all of the book's commandments in getting baby on a schedule so baby and Mama and Daddy could all sleep through the night by the time she was six weeks old. I mean, come on! Who wouldn't want that?!

Oh, sure, there were mamas on her mommy message board who tried to offer warnings about this book - that it was not only unnecessary (and actually quite unrealistic) to put baby on a schedule at such an early age, but it was also sometimes dangerous. Shiny Brand New Mama brushed off the warnings, thinking to herself that these mamas just didn't follow the plan correctly. Again, sleep through the night at six weeks! Come on, people! What on earth could be dangerous about that?

So the day came when Shiny Brand New Mama's baby woke up to the world, just about two weeks after her grand (albeit late) arrival. It become quite obvious to Shiny Brand New Mama that Baby didn't read a copy of this book with all that free time she had in-utero. No, in fact, this Baby was born with a plan. A plan to get her Mama to get to know what she needed to get acclimated to this big, scary new world. She tried and tried to tell her Mama that she had no intentions of being put on a schedule at this tender young age, but her Mama . . . well, she wasn't listening.

And so Shiny Brand New Mama and her Baby had a rough start. Mama kept a tediously detailed sleep journal, noting the exact minute Baby went to sleep and the exact minute she woke up and all of the various techniques she tried for getting Baby to go to sleep (except - heaven forbid! - rocking and holding and cuddling and slinging! Oh my, no. Gotta get Baby to be an independent sleeper, or you know what will happen . . . she'll need to be rocked to sleep until she is seven and she will never, no not ever, sleep through the night. And it will be all. your. fault.)

Well, very, very long story short, Brand Shiny New Mama spent most of Baby's early months wracked with guilt and plagued with tears over her inability to get Baby on The Schedule. Every time a friend or stranger innocently asked how she was sleeping at night, Brand Shiny New Mama cringed. And lied. Every New Mama knows that how her baby is sleeping at night is a direct reflection on how good of a mother she is. Or isn't.

I can write this now as a Not Quite Shiny Mama, a mama who looks back on those days with such regret. Not the aching, desperate kind of regret that follows me around all day. Nah. Just the resigned regret of knowing I missed out on such sweetness in D's earliest days. I missed out on having her sleep contently on my chest (as AJ is doing at this very moment). I missed nuzzling and snuggling her off to sleep. I missed experiencing the unforced rhythms of life with a newborn because I was so angry that she wouldn't sleep when she was "supposed to". I couldn't allow myself the joy of getting to know her amazing and vibrant personality because I was too busy fretting over how I was failing her. If only I had possessed a crystal ball in those days . . . some manner of seeing into the future and being able to be assured that yes, D would eventually be able to go to sleep without being rocked for even a minute. That, indeed, she would sleep through the night. It didn't happen until she was around two, but it happened. And it's wonderful. And she's wonderful. And I did not fail her.

Eventually, I found another book that brought me such peace in choosing to parent instinctively. Ah yes, when you know better, you do better. And the regrets - well, you accept them, even embrace them, because without them there is often little motivation for change.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You have got to be kidding . . .

Seriously? Could my two year old (okay, quickly-approaching-three year old) really be giving up her gloriously long afternoon nap? I mean, just drop it cold turkey?

Oh please, Lord, I hope not.

We are on day two of the Great Nap Strike. The weather is cloudy and cool and perfect for napping, if you ask me. In fact, I could use one myself.

Please tell me she is too young to give up napping. Please tell me that dropping a nap altogether won't be as painful as when she dropped her morning nap. Please tell me what to do with an almost-three-year-old all the livelong day . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Have you entered the SortaCrunchy Deceptively Delicious giveaway yet? You still have time!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Today marks the return of my weekly natural living spotlight - Bit O' Crunchy! I began my Bit O' Crunchy series over the summer, but it has been sadly neglected in the midst of the wonderful hecticness of welcoming home a new baby. I am excited to kick off the return of this feature by focusing on food. Healthy food, even! (And how to trick your family into eating it!)

If you had your TV on at all this week, chances are you caught Jessica Seinfeld's media tour promoting her new book Deceptively Delicious. In this book - which looks oh-so-cute and fun - Ms. Seinfeld shares her secrets on how to get kids to eat healthy . . . whether they know they are or not! Basically, she shares how to sneak vegetable purees into foods your kids already know and love (including brownies! and cookies! and mac and cheese!).

I used a lot of homemade veggie purees when D started on solids and found the process to really be quite easy. In fact, D is really a good veggie eater to this day. D's Daddy, on the other hand, almost always passes on the vegetables passed 'round the table, so I am thinking I could employ Ms. Seinfeld's tactics to deceive my man into some good-for-you eating.

Anyone else want to give this a try? I am ordering one copy for myself and one for a lucky reader. This giveaway will be super simple. All you gotta do is leave me a little comment on this post! No blog? No problem! Just leave me an email address where I can find you (or email me your email address if you prefer - my email can be found in the sidebar). If you do have a blog and you want to post a link to this giveaway, great! But it's not a requirement to enter.

Deadline to enter is 11:59 pm, Thursday, October 18. I will announce the winner in next Friday's Bit O' Crunchy installment. Good luck! Happy healthy eating!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good stuff

I have thought and pondered for the past 24 hours on a clever, witty post title for today. You can see about how well my brain is operating right now!

Anyway, these are thirteen things that make me happy these days:
2) Lansinoh ultra thin breast/nursing pads (yeah, the wool ones didn't work out as well as I had hoped)
5) Ultimate Swaddling Blanket (pink mod circles!)
8) Pink (the color, not the singer . . . although I am sure she is quite lovely, too)
9) The Tyra Banks show (never watched it until I was up with AJ and found our local Fox station shows last week's episodes at three a.m. She's great company at that hour!)
11) Mums (fall!)
12) My artist

13) Baby smiles

Don't forget to come by tomorrow for the return of Bit O' Crunchy giveaway!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Business meeting

A dear and wonderful friend of mine invited D over to play with her little boy (who happens to be one of D's very best friends - so that works out nicely for everyone), so I thought I would take advantage of some quiet time to clean my kitchen um box up my maternity clothes err . . . catch up on blog business. Because that's what is really important, right?

1. Check it! I have gone through and updated my blogroll. If you are a regular around here and don't see yourself listed and would like to be, please do let me know in the comments or by way of email.

2. I am going to add a new feature to my sidebar (because really, why have just a few features when you can have a lot?). I want to spotlight my friends and readers who have work-at-home businesses. If you have a business you would like to see included here (so all fifteen of my readers can check you out!), please let me know. Hope to have this up by the end of the week.

3. I know everyone has been waiting with bated breath for this announcement - Bit O' Crunchy is coming back! My Friday natural living spotlight went on babymoon with me, but I am ready to roll it out again. By way of celebrating, Friday's Bit O' Crunchy will be a giveaway! It's a surprise, but I will give you a hint . . . it will make you excited to get out your vegetable steamers and food processors! Think you know what it might be? Keep your guesses to yourself and be sure to come by on Friday to enter.

4. I need your help with something. I am trying to coerce my little (ahem, 27 year old) brother into starting a blog. Well, technically, into starting a new blog. He blogged for a long time at MySpace in a blog he called The Jack*** Diaries (expletive asterisked out). He and my sister-in-law are expecting baby #1 in early December and I desperately want him to blog the journey into new fatherhood. Here's where you can help - can you point me in the direction of some really good daddy bloggers? I know there have to be some out there, I just don't have time to scout them out. Link me up to what you find!

5. Finally, a long, long time ago (late August, to be exact. That's not a long time ago? Hmmmm, sure feels like it to me!), my Sweet Friend Corey bestowed on me a wonderful award:

I never got a chance to publicly thank her or to choose five more recipients, what with the last-minute preparations for AJ's arrival. I still can't quite decide to whom I will pass the award, but I sure do want to make sure I say THANK YOU Corey. You, my dear, are an amazingly thoughtful blogger and friend. If ya'll don't read Corey's Living and Loving Every Minute of It, you are truly missing out. Witty and tender and full of gorgeous photography - it is truly a treat to get to know even better this wonderful woman I have known for more than two years now.

Okay, so I think that's it. Business meeting adjourned. And don't forget to come back by on Friday!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The pride, the fall, and what would you have done?

The Lord, in His mercy, sent some cool winds our way today. Rather than packing up and heading to the library for toddler storytime, I decided to pack up and take both girls to the park for the first time by myself. It was really a gorgeous morning and our town playscape was surprisingly empty. I snuggled AJ up in our trusty mei tai (which is quickly becoming my very favorite baby accessory!) and off we went, the three of us, to climb and dig and chase and explore.

D made friends with two darling sweet ones, and I was sitting in the shade by the sandbox, quietly congratulating myself. I mean, this "life with two" thing - it's not so hard, right? I have friends who have shared how difficult it was to get out of the house at all with two, and yet I pack up both girls and go somewhere with both of them most every day. It gets tricky, but really, it's not that bad. And with this being the most difficult and stressful football season The Coach and I have gone through together, I am doing this parenting thing - for the most part - on my own.

So yeah, I was sitting there feeling pretty darn sassy.

A mom I recognized from gymnastics and storytime sat down beside me and we were chatting away about our lives before kids and what plans the future held for life after the youngest heads to kindergarten. D approached us with a bucket full of sand. Wet sand. She started swinging it at me (the way we swing cups of water in the bathtub) and said, "Splashy splash!" I took the bucket from her and oh-so-gently explained that we don't do splashy splash with sand, only water. And only in the bathtub. I returned to conversation with the other mommy, fully unaware that my gentle correction was not sitting well with princesa D.

In a span of time I am here to tell you was far shorter than the blink of an eye, D scooped up a fistful of wet sand in her sweet little hand and threw it right at me. Wet sand went everywhere! It covered my face, my hair, and worst of all, my sweetly sleeping, utterly innocent bystander one month old AJ. I mean it COVERED her. There was sand in her hair, in her eyes, and in the little folds of skin under her neck.

The fact that this transpired not only in public, but in full view of another parent is a testimony to God's Hand of protection on D. I was royally pissed off. And I sure didn't feel quite as sassy anymore.

Honestly, I was so stunned, I didn't know what to do. I stood up and told my mommy friend, "I am so sorry, but we have to go now!" She was kind and gracious and assured me that her toddler had pulled some such stunt on another occasion . . . I can't remember what she said exactly because I had to focus all of my physical, emotional, and spiritual energy into not just flipping out on D.

As it turns out, life with two . . . yeah, it's sorta hard.

I dragged D out to the car and attempted a quick clean-up. I told her several times that we were leaving the park because she had made a very bad choice, and that it was hurtful to Mommy and AJ for her to throw sand on us. I gotta tell ya, friends. She didn't seem bothered, let alone remorseful, for this in the least.

And so here is where I am soliciting advice from you - new moms, old moms, not-yet-moms. Keeping in mind D is two years, eight months old, what would you have done?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Aliza's birth story

Okay, okay. I promise someday I will write about something else. For now, I can't help myself! New love.

There is a very large internet community made up mostly of mamas who are way crunchier than I am. I am a somewhat active member of this community and have learned many valuable mothering tips and tricks and philosophies and practices in the nearly two years since I joined. Something unfortunate, however, I have learned there is to sorta keep my mouth closed about the way my daughters have come into the world. Both are Cesarean births . . . and in that particular community, that is The Birth We Do Not Speak Of.

Oh, I understand the stance they take. Their mission is to support and promote lifestyle choices and parenting practices that are natural. I understand that there is nothing natural about my daughters being delivered through a discreet, surgeon-made incision in my uterus. I also understand it is not in the best interests of this particular online community for me (or any of their members) to go around celebrating birth via Cesarean section. Celebrate a "successful" VBAC? Absolutely! You have redeemed yourself, mama! Celebrate a "failed" VBAC? Well, sure. At least you tried, mama. But there is a definite unspoken rule that if you don't even try for a natural birth . . . well, mama, why don't you just keep that to yourself . . .

I actually harbor no bitterness or hard feelings toward this community; on the contrary, it has spurned much growth for me as a woman and a mother. I have just come to the place in my life where I can say I will no longer apologize for my first failed attempt at a natural birth, nor will I apologize for my elective decision to schedule a second Cesarean birth. I'm really not interested in debating or advocating any aspect of the birth of my daughters. I just want to be able to celebrate like any other mama would want to celebrate the most miraculous moments in life.

(Ha! I bet when you read the title for this post you wouldn't have guessed you were pulling up a seat right in front of my soapbox! Enough with the baggage background, on with the story!)

On the morning of September 5th, I woke up with what I had feared would be the case. I was STARVING! And according to doctor's orders, I was to have had nothing to eat or drink after midnight. And we wouldn't get started with the delivery until 1:30. And I like to eat. A lot.

I managed to stave off the hunger by munching on some ice chips and somehow the rest of that morning is kind of blurry to me. I think I got online a bit, re-checked what I had packed in my bags, played with D, and before I knew it, The Coach and I were in the car on the way to meet Little Sister.

Ongoing name negotiations kept me preoccupied through the check-in and pre-op procedures. Hubby and I talked and laughed while we waited for the team to assemble. We had one particularly flaky nurse who provided lots of fodder for jokes which mostly managed to distract me from how impossibly hungry I was getting. I mean, the kind of hungry where your tummy starts to hurt and you feel woozy. Finally, my OB came in for last minute instructions and a pep talk and the time had finally arrived!

It wasn't until they were wheeling me through the halls to the OR that I started to feel scared. Actually, at that point, I began to really panic. In the days before, I had (stupidly) read an article about the number of women in the US who are dying after giving birth, and for some reason, I could not shake the thought of my sweet D never seeing Mommy again and I just kept thinking "I don't want to do this . . ." By the time they transferred me to the operating table, I could barely breathe. But by then it was time for the spinal to be administered and I had to get it together. The nurse who was assisting in the spinal administration was strong and kind and funny and told me to lean my head on his chest while they put the spinal in. He put his arms around me as the spinal went in and almost immediately I began to feel much more calm. I kind of think they gave me a little sedative along the way because a few minutes after the spinal was in, I was happy and excited and ready to meet my daughter!

The first part of a Cesarean birth is the easiest. The OR team was light-hearted and funny and we talked about life with toddlers in general, life with Dacey in specifics. Just a few minutes after we got started, Aliza Joy came screaming from my womb.

Those lusty newborn cries didn't last terribly long, and I was beginning to get a little concerned. Then hubby told me they had swaddled her up nice and tight and that she was laying there taking in this big, cold, bright world with eyes wide open. After a few minutes, they took her up to the nursery with Daddy right beside her, going over to himself my strict instructions:

"No pacifier! No bottle! And NO HEP B SHOT! And don't forget to take pictures, okay, love?"

And then the tedious part of a Cesarean birth - getting put back together. But the time went by quickly as we talked sports in general and college football in specific. The place where time dragged by the most slowly was in the recovery room. Unlike after D's birth, I was alert and awake and just wanted to get upstairs to meet my daughter!

Finally, eons later, I was taken up to my room and they brought Aliza in immediately. Daddy reported that the amount of finger-sucking going on indicated she was hungry and ready to meet Mommy, too. That girl latched on right away (almost as if she had been coached up on breastfeeding while in the womb) and as I gazed on her sweet, fair skin and startling bright eyes, I was just. so. smitten.

My hospital stay was wonderful and short and marked by friendly and helpful nurses, visits from friends and family, and just the right amount of alone time with AJ. Happy, happy days.

One month ago. Today. Thanks for letting me celebrate.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Too much to be Wordless . . .

Four weeks! AJ is four weeks today. Inconceivable.

I've had some gentle encouragement from a few friends to post a little more. I have to tell ya - I feel utterly, deplorably selfish and self-indulgent to be posting here when I have read so little of what is going on in the lives of my readers and friends. But, on the other hand, I have to remind myself that one of the reasons I blog is to have a record of our days, so I really need to put some thoughts into words and get some pictures from the camera to the screen before this all gets lost in the hazy memories of the first few weeks.

So, here's what's been going on 'round here . . .

I had always heard tell of the mythical Easy Baby. I read about Easy Babies in books and even have some friends who claimed to have had an Easy Baby. My mom swears up and down that as a newborn, I was beyond easy. She says I was an Angel Baby (but doesn't have much in the way of proof to back up those claims . . . just memories that are going on thirty years old, which I am sure have been softened and reshaped by time). Anyway, I was sort of skeptical of the idea of the Easy Baby, what with my induction into motherhood being nothing short of a baptism by fire. Oh, there were easy days when Dacey was a newborn, but she was the archetypical High Needs baby, so it was hard for me to imagine mothering in terms other than what doesn't kill you makes you stronger . . .

Somehow, some way, the Lord saw fit to deliver into my arms a bona fide Easy Baby.

I walk around sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop because surely it will, right? Aliza - she sleeps and sleeps, she nurses equally well from the breast or bottle, she is content wherever and however we tote her around - be it her infant carseat or sling or simply in our arms. The high pitch and high frequency of her sister's communication doesn't even startle her, let alone cause her to cry. She wakes up once a night - precisely between 3 and 4 in the morning for a little snack, sleeps soundly whether in her bassinet or in our bed. I mean, are you kidding me? For the first two weeks, I held my breath. Even Dacey was easy for the first two weeks. But here we are, four weeks in now, and still . . . easy.

A rare open-eyed moment . . .

As I am known to do in most situations, I have managed to call up all kinds of Mommy Guilt in the past month. Because Dacey was so needy and high maintenance as a baby, I was constantly interacting with her. Rocking. Walking. Bouncing. Nursing. Holding. Soothing. We got to know each other intensely and intimately right from the start. I truly feel like I am missing some of that with Aliza because she is just so dang content. I find that as soon as I lay Dacey in bed at night, I am scooping Aliza up to have some snuggle time!

And then I feel guilty because as much as I am in awe of Aliza's content nature, I feel I am somehow defaming the personality of my oldest. Dacey was, and is, just intense. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that just because I am so enjoying having a laid-back child doesn't mean that I am un-enjoying my spirited toddler. Dacey is a character and a hoot and I wouldn't change one minute of her life on this planet. She becomes more brave and outgoing and joyful to be around day by day. Our first days home with Little Sister were not pretty, and although she still avoids Aliza most of the day, I see glimpses of Big Sister showing through more and more.

Speaking of brave - here she is showing off her fashion forwardness by daring to wear white dress shoes after Labor Day (in just a diaper and tee, of course!)

And speaking of diapers, here is evidence that I may be up to my ears in diapering two for a while yet . . . I bought her the first pack of Big Girl Panties after she finally indicated that she might like to try wearing those instead of diapers. She was so excited to wear them!

On her head.

And promptly tinkled on the carpet five minutes after I took this picture.

So that's where we are around here. I really, really want to get back to reading and catching up with everyone! All of the September baby mamas I have enjoyed getting to know through blogland now have little ones to snuggle and care for - welcome Nadia! Josie! Nate! and Otto! (And my Sweet Friend Mary Ann - whom I already knew before my days in blogland - welcomed home Baby Boy Joel a day before AJ arrived!)

Thanks for hanging with me through my extended babymoon. We'll talk soon!