Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seasons meanings

 I love this season. From Thanksgiving to New Years it is one holiday after the other (including my birthday and a few relatives birthdays thrown in there somewhere!). It's a time to really consider all of the blessings in my life and experience gratitude for them.

Many of us think of what we're grateful for, but do you allow yourself to truly fill your heart up with the feeling of gratitude? To truly experience it? Take a moment. Think of one thing, perhaps your child or your husband or your mother, that you couldn't imagine your life without and really be thankful for it (or him or her). Feel thankful. Allow it to fill you up, surround you. Radiate that feeling. That gratefulness, that joy.

Feel good? Carry that with you today and throughout this season. Forget about the shopping and cleaning and all of those stresses that we have added to the season over the many years of human existence. Instead, focus on your joy and share that. That's what this holiday season is about. I love this season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Finally! Reviews, Samples & Coupons

Hooray! I have finally broken into reviews and coupons and all of that goods stuff! Who doesn't want to nab a few extras when devoting plenty of time and energy to a blog? Well, thanks to the One2One Network (see left side-bar) I will soon be posting reviews for a children's book and the latest Norah Jones CD!

If you check out my new "Samples & Coupons" page you may find something that will be mutually beneficial! This, care of

So much to be thankful for this holiday season! I'm thankful for the wonderful opportunities that blogging presents and so much more grateful for my readers! Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Check back soon for this album review!

I'm thankful for: My cat! He came back!

On October 20th I wrote the post My Cat is Missing. On November 20th he came home! From full moon to full moon. He just showed up, meowing at the door! He's skinny, has some intestinal parasites, but is otherwise healthy. He lost 3lbs, but he's in relatively good shape. So, he's on medicine for the parasites and we're filling his belly with kitten food for now to get him some extra nutrition.

Our other cat showed signs of stress the first week he was gone (licked away two patches of hair), but has been thriving since. She has been around more often, playful, and didn't seem to mind at all that Milo was gone. Upon his return, she's back to hiding and she's growling and hissing at Milo! If it's not the kids it's the cats!

Where he's been is a mystery. He came home clean. Clean! There's no way he's been outside for 30 days. The day he disappeared it was very rainy and he always comes home (quite muddy) to clean, dry off and warm up. To stay alive he must have had access to food and water. I had wondered at first if he'd possibly gotten stuck in one of the newly constructed houses down the street from us, but there have been people in and out of them, so he would have escaped. However, there are also a few houses for sale that are empty. One of which has seen no activity for about a month, so it's possible he snuck in the garage or the house the last time they were there. That house is directly across the street from the cat he fought with just days before disappearing. He has been known to sit in the driveway watching that cat. I can imagine, if he was stuck in the house that he had access to toilet water, but what about food? Unless they had a mouse problem, Milo should have died of starvation long ago. The vet said after 3 or 4 days his body would start to shut down, but test results showed that even his liver function is fine. So, I'm stumped. And curious. But grateful that he's back. Perfect timing for Thanksgiving! What are you grateful for this year?

Already yearning for another adventure outdoors.
But I'm not letting him out!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: Easing the morning rush

Most moms have busy, rushed mornings. This week we've got school and holiday travel to deal with. With one child it's fairly easy, with two a bit more tricky and for 3 or more you may as well forget getting yourself ready!

But here's a trick I use to make my morning life easier: Baby boy goes to bed in tomorrow's clothes. That way, when he's awake it's a simple diaper change and I'm off to help the girls with the things they still have a bit of trouble with (like getting their sock toes lined up just right!).

My mom thinks it's crazy that I do this, but I say, "Why not?!" It saves time, stress and struggle with an older baby. Plus, baby clothes are so comfortable that there's hardly a difference between day clothes and night clothes. For special occasions when we want to dress him up a bit the next day he'll go to bed in PJs, but those days are rare exceptions!

This tip and trick works best with babies 4 months and up, after that poo-poo blow-out phase has passed! Until then you're changing clothes so often it hardly makes a difference!

Try it out and see what a difference it makes on your next busy morning!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday braggy blog hop

So, tonight I googled (love how that's accepted as a verb now) "Friday blog hops". I wanted to find the hop of someone I am not already following. And I'm following a lot of blogs. I love to read them nearly as much as I LOVE to write mine (and love you for following)!

Anyway, I came upon this one from Life with the Lebedas and she does themed blog hops. I found this to be quite fun AND timely, since the theme this week is Brag About It. And, since parent-teacher conferences were yesterday, I have plenty to brag about!

My daughters ROCK! Yes, they are only 4 and 5, but still. A mommy can be proud. My first-born baby girl is in Kindergarten and her teacher clearly adores her. She raved about her lovely personality and how well she was doing. She's ready to read, so we have our first take home book. She is reading when she wants to. In fact, at our lunch date yesterday she read, "fajita" and "grill". I helped her with the Spanish "j" sound, of course. The thing that most pleased me, however, was this: Each day the class has a 'special' student who tells the rest of the class about themselves. Then, all of the students draw a picture of that person and the drawings go into a little book that the child gets to bring home. It's really sweet! Well, my little darling has demonstrated that she really listens to what each person is saying because she always incorporates what the child says they love to do. So, if Jill (made-up name) likes to play soccer, then my girl draws her playing soccer! She's the only one who consistently does this. That made me SO proud. Why? Because it shows that she cares about people. That she notices what other people care about and that is exactly what makes a person feel special and worthwhile. I don't often see this with us at home, so to hear that from her teacher made me so happy. That's the kind of person I want to raise!

Onward to our second conference of the afternoon with our second daughter's teacher. My sweet Pumpkin is one of a kind. She is smart and funny and willful. Examples from her teachers include her counting ability: she counted to 49 and then got stuck (20 is the goal for her age). She uses her words: She told the para pro one day, "My nose is extremely stuffy." And she draws with the detail of a much older child. Sometimes, during free choice, she seems a little unsure of what to do. I suggested that she might be bored and I could almost see the lights go on in her teachers heads. They promise to encourage her and challenge her when she seems to need it. She reads at the same level as her sister, is much more focused, can do 16 to 24 piece puzzles on her own and isn't afraid to tell you "No!"

And, since this is a brag post, I should mention how well-behaved the boy was while we dragged him along to 30-minutes of conferences while stuck in his stroller. He was great! And he went nuts when we let him loose at home. I'm starting to decipher words now. I was thinking he wasn't talking, but I think I'm just not paying attention. Today I distinctly heard the following words and/or phrases, "What's that?"; "Papa"; "Kitty-cat"; and "car". Papa tells me that in French he says, "Regard" (look) and "Encore" (more). That's all I can remember, but that's not bad for 14-months! I have a touch of mommy-guilt with him because I don't spend the time reading with him and playing with him like I did his sisters. DD1 spoke at least a dozen words clearly by this age.

So, that's my brag for the day. I'm a very proud mommy. Damn, I love my kids! Not just because of their incredible intelligence, but because they are turning out to be truly lovely people and that matters the most to me.

Link up and brag!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: School Days Weekly Calendar

I don't know about your kids, but my preschooler and kindergartner get overwhelmed by a monthly calendar. I searched and searched online to find one that would help my kids understand which days they had school and which days they didn't. I couldn't find one, so I gave up and made one.

I apologize for the terrible quality of this picture, but I'm having technical difficulties! I would have simply turned my document into a pic, but my microsoft trial has expired and I not prepared to part with the cash required to 'convert'. But I digress...

You can see that we have here a weekly calendar with a school bus shown on each school day. My four-year-old has taken ownership of moving the magnet each day so that both she and her sister know if it is a school day or not.

We hang this on our door, which happens to be steel, so magnets work well. You might choose to use your refrigerator, or laminate it so that you can use cute stickers.

This calendar does a few things:
1. Teaches the days of the week (you probably guessed that one!)
2. Encourages reading and word recognition
3. Encourages responsibility

You are more than welcome to use my idea, but if you make any money from it give me some!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nurture Vs Nature

Will boys simply be boys? Could this be true? For the past 15 years or so, I have leaned to the nurture side of the nurture vs. nature debate. My educational background is in sociology, psychology and family studies. I believed that if I raised my children with gender neutral leanings then they would pick up the best of both 'boy' traits and 'girl' traits.

I'm noticing this is not so. Ever since I had the boy, my theories have been slowly slipping out the window. Not flying, but slipping, testing my long-held beliefs.

Though my daughters enjoy trains, cars, dirt and dinosaurs, they most enjoy playing with their dolls. One is mommy, one is daughter, both have babies. Sometimes they even stick the dolls in their shirts and drop them out pretending to give birth! Hah! That mostly happened toward the end of my pregnancy with the boy.

But the boy just shows a natural affinity toward such things. If I give him a doll, a car, or a noisy lighting/musical toy, he goes for the car and starts making car noises! I don't even know how he learned that!

 The girls have both been very attached to their loveys since the moment they first held them. In fact, I've replaced them several times when lost without them noticing. Now they are too old for that trick and are perfectly happy to use a spare when we can't find Baby Pom or Baby Pim. But they can hardly pass a day without those little friends. The boy, on the other hand, to whom I've introduced a lovely several times, just throws them. Yes, just throws them. Out of the crib, out of his hands, out of the car seat. Give him a little stuffed animal lovey and he may chew on it for a moment, but then he tosses it aside like a stinky diaper (unless it is the aforementioned Baby Pim or Baby Pom, which he'll keep and then try to get away from his sister as quickly as possible!)!

Boo boos. The girls get the tiniest bump or scratch and its a tragedy as serious as Romeo and Juliet. Crying and whining commence. Bandaids and ice are required even if they haven't broken skin or bruised. It's terrible! And irritating! The boy, on the other hand, can hit his head on the floor hard, look stunned for a moment, laugh and go about his business. Sometimes when he accidentally bumps it he'll bump it again as if investigating the event. And when he falls off of something and smashes his face into the carpet whether the hard one at home, or the spongy one in mall play areas, he seriously just laughs and then climbs up to do it again!

My girls are girly. My boy is such a boy.

Nurture Vs. Nature? I'm now leaning toward nature.

How about you?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Relax & Surf Blog Hop

I love this Sunday blog hop because there are no rules! See the link to the right and have a fabulous Sunday!
I'm off to decorate turkeys with my kids!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oh, how they grow and permanent birth control

 Well, that's it. Now that the boy is officially a toddler, I'm completely done with babies. I've had my 3 in 5 years. My baby girl is now a little girl. A real girl! And my 4-year-old is quickly leaving behind those baby features and turning into a real girl too! It's shocking and breathtaking and humbling to watch them grow. To see the little people they are becoming. It warms my heart and scares me at the same time! But my job is to raise them to be independent of me. To simply be independent. And that's what I'm doing. I hope.

Did you realize, when you thought about having a baby, or when you were pregnant, that you would become the entire world of another person? That everything that is important to them is right there in your arms? I wonder how long this goes on?

Next week I have my annual exam. It's time to consider permanent birth control. Though I've always known I would have two girls and one boy, in that order, no more and no less, I don't want to take any chances! I love my babies. Their sweet, soft cheeks. But I am done! I am reclaiming my body after five years of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. So, since tubal ligation doesn't seem to work (as evidenced by my pregnant cousin who had one 5 years ago), I am considering Essure. If you don't know what that is, here is an excerpt from their website:

Unlike other permanent birth control, the Essure procedure does not require cutting into the body or the use of radiofrequency energy to burn the fallopian tubes. Instead, an Essure trained doctor inserts soft, flexible inserts through the body’s natural pathways (vagina, cervix, and uterus) and into your fallopian tubes. The very tip of the device remains outside the fallopian tube, which provides you and your doctor with immediate visual confirmation of placement.
During the 3 months following the procedure, your body and the inserts work together to form a natural barrier that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. During this period, you must continue using another form of birth control (other than an IUD).

What do you think? Does anyone have any experience with this?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Landing the helicopter

Remember when we were kids and we could play outside for hours and hours without every checking in with Mom? That's how it was at my house, anyway. I grew up on 10 acres of land next to my grandma and grandpa's 10 acres and their neighbor, my uncle! We had so much room to run and play. "Urban sprawl" wasn't even a phrase that existed yet and the world at large (i.e. the backyard) seemed trustworthy.

We played in the dirt, jumped in an abandoned old speedboat that was propped up on the property. Played in a huge shed full of tractors. Climbed very high trees over a swamp. We had incredible adventures right in our backyard.

Today, when it comes to playing outside, I'm a bit of a helicopter parent. I find myself constantly saying, "Walking feet on the sidewalk! Watch out for the swing! Don't run with sticks! Get back on the grass! Stay where you can see me!" I'm constantly directing. Our backyard ends at the woods and between the neighbor and us there is a public sidewalk. It ends at the treeline, so its not used often. On the other side of us is an empty lot. We have no fence. I never let the girls play on their own because I feel too far from them if I'm in the house. Too many stories about children being taken right under their parents' noses swirl around my paranoid brain.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Unseasonably warm. I put baby/toddler boy down for his nap around 12:30pm (he had refused his morning nap) and the girls begged to go outside. I had things to do inside, so I walked them out to the backyard, which is down the deck's flight of steps and gave them their boundaries. We reviewed what they were to do if I called their names and then I set them free. I landed the helicopter. I went back into the house.

I could hear them at all times. I watched them out the window every couple of minutes. I sat on the deck for awhile reading blogs while they played, but I left them alone. I kept my mouth closed. I let them play in the dirt, go into the woods a few feet to gather grass cuttings, sticks, more dirt and whatever else struck their fancy!

They played together so beautifully outside. For 3 hours!!! I called them in only when the boy woke up. They came for chocolate milk and then took an hour and a half long bath! No fights, no arguing. They were having so much fun in the bath I literally had to drag them out of it! Teeth chattering because the water had turned cold, but they didn't care. It was lovely.

That's what childhood should be. Carefree, fun and full of laughter.

Three under a teepee

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mama Kat's writing workshop prompt: Ignoring Intuition

 As you know from my previous post, I'm a firm believer in intuition. I also disbelieve in coincidence. If something happens, there is a reason, a connection. Each week Mama Kat offers 5 writing prompts to get writers writing.

As it happens, this week one of them is:
Describe a moment when you ignored your intuition. What happened?

Coincidence? I think not! Obviously. So, something in the universe, God, if you prefer, is telling me to listen closely to my intuition and reminding me of what happens when I don't. So, I'll share with you what happened once when I ignored my intuition.

I met my friend... we'll call her Louise... when I was 5. I was hiding under the table at Kindergarten round-up. My mother was in the next room and I was painfully shy. Louise reached out to me and said, "Why are you crying?" We've been friends ever since. That's 30 years now. Though we haven't been in close contact since we graduated high-school, we've always shared a close connection. Similar to the one I share with my sister. Whenever she was on my mind for no known reason I just knew it was time to call her. Inevitably she'd tell me she'd been thinking of me and was going through something that required an empathic shoulder. Or, I'd dream of her and then get a call from her the next day. I learned to trust that when Louise was on my mind it was time to get in touch.

Deep breath.

A couple of years ago I started dreaming of her often. More often than I ever had. It had been a couple of years since we'd seen each other and nearly a year since we talked. I had two young children and a Kindermusik business to take care of and she was living the free and easy single life. Every morning after a dream, I'd think to myself, "I'll call her later today or tomorrow." This went on for a few months. I had this nagging, pulling feeling telling me to call her, but I let life get in the way and used it as an excuse. One day in April I dreamed of her again. It was a frightening dream and she was in serious trouble. She was drugged, drunk, lost and asking for my help. I woke up and knew that was the day I must call her. I had an early doctors appointment and called her when I got into my car to go home. My husband was home with the girls. There was no answer, so I left her a message and resolved to call again later.

Later, that afternoon, I got a call from my mom. She said, "DG," ok, actually she said my name, but I'm keeping that to myself, "It's Louise."

Oh God! I thought. I knew it!

"What happened?" I asked, terrified.

Louise had overdosed the night before, while I was dreaming of her, and was in the hospital with severe liver failure. They didn't know if she would make it.

If I had only called her! For months her spirit had been calling to mine, reaching out for help and I let her down. Maybe I could have done something. Maybe just talking with me would have altered her path in a better way.

The story continues, and Louise survives, but I'll stop here with one last thought to share. Though I felt guilty for a long time for ignoring my intuition, I came to understand that too had happened for a reason. Louise had to learn her own lesson. The Universe demanded that I stay out of the way, and so I did. But now, when I hear the voice or dream a dream, I listen. Do you?

I promise to get back to the typical Domestic Goddess Mommy writings tomorrow! Like telling you how my little guy is now a serious walker and climber, how babies don't understand the concept of daylight savings and how this gorgeous, crazy Midwest weather is setting my domestic duties way off course!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Updates, transitions and psychic phenomena


Where has my sweet little baby gone? He's been taken over by a screaming, fitful toddler! He finally started really trying to walk about a week ago. 8 steps is his high score so far, but he's already acting more like a toddler than the gentle, cuddly little guy of just a few weeks ago. Baby bliss has turned into toddler hell! Ok, it isn't quite that bad, but it's on the horizon! My 4-year-old needs to stop having fits before baby boy... I should start calling him toddler boy... hits the terrible twos (which, if you're a first-timer, you might not know that this actually starts around 18-months). Plus, he seems to be teething and going through a growth-spurt all at once, so as you can imagine it's a lot of fun at my house right now!

In other news, I've had my haircut for the first time in about 9-months! Goodness, it feels good. Remember those days when you kept up with your hair? A good cut at least every three months? Expensive salon products to keep it gorgeous between visits? Three kids later and I'm averaging 2 haircuts a year and looking for products in the $5 range! My naturally curly hair requires more love! (Any hair products for curls that need to be reviewed out there? Anyone?)

A few of you have asked about my sweet kitty, Milo. Sadly, he did not return home. It's been almost 3 weeks. I've been encouraged not to give up hope, but I no longer need it. I feel he's left the physical world for the spiritual one. Do you believe in intuition and pyschics? I've got a strong intuition that sometimes turns out to be psychic. For instance, I often dream of things as they happen: a friend having her twins, another friend dying of cancer, another overdosing (yes, I have all sorts of friends!). Sometimes I'll hear a song in my head moments before it comes on the radio, or know exactly who is calling when the phone rings. But the most significant 'psychic' experience for me was having a psychic pregnancy. I started having morning sickness and cravings. After a couple of weeks of this I took a pregnancy test even though I was on the pill and had never missed a period. Negative. So, I called my sister and asked her if she was pregnant. We've always been close and tend to just know when the other needs us. At least we used to be, but that's another story. Anyway, she said she wasn't. My morning sickness continued. I couldn't even stand coffee! Then one day at 10am I craved madly for a hamburger! I happened to have minced meat and buns and cooked one up. At 10 in the morning! I promptly called my sister again and asked, "Are you sure you aren't pregnant?" She told me she was about a week late, but as that was not uncommon she was waiting to take a test. I had already taken another one because I felt pregnant! But I wasn't! I told her, "One of us is pregnant and it isn't me. You take another test right now!" And she did. And she was. She never had morning sickness, but I had it for her the whole first trimester. Weird, hey? But that's why I trust my feeling that Milo is gone.

Whenever my husband travels overnight I feel a little edgy. Every sound sounds a little different. I triple check the locks on doors and windows. I always feel just a bit uneasy without him. But the other night when he was gone I didn't feel that way at all. And just as I climbed into bed I noticed that. I thought, "Hmmm, I feel completely safe and secure." And then I felt so strongly that Milo was with me. Watching over, protecting his family. And my heart accepted that he's passed on.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Holy molars!

For the past two nights baby boy has screamed and screamed and screamed. Fortunately, I have learned to sleep through it! Well, not really, but the girls obviously have! So, today when he seemed to be refusing to nap long after he should have been sleeping soundly I pinned him down and had a look into that sweet little mouth of his. Don't worry, I was gentle. You ladies with pre-crawlers, just wait! Diaper changes, dressing/undressing, and checking for teeth when necessary become battles to the death! OK, not the death... I'm exaggerating slightly. Slightly.

Anyway, I pinned him down and stuck my relatively freshly-washed finger to feel around in there. For a few days I've noticed swelling, suspected teething, but I haven't seen any sign of teeth erupting. He only has four. Those central incisors, which took their own time coming in.

Here's a handy little chart from this website for you to show the approximate ages that teeth erupt. Obviously some babies teeth much earlier and some much later, but the order of eruption typically remains the same. When baby boy began showing signs of teething I was looking for that telltale whitish gum around the lateral incisor location. However, that's not what is coming in! He's getting his first molars! No wonder he's been so crabby! I can see it and feel it on his right side, but not his left, though he's quite swollen over there too. I have a terrible feeling he's going to teeth constantly from this point on until the rest are in. That's what daughter #2 did. Two teeth at 7 1/2 months, then NOTHING until 10 1/2 months and then she never, ever stopped.

Oh well, I'll get sleep when he's 5. I hope. Until then, I happily accept Starbucks gift cards!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cleaning myself skinny

Good morning! Two in school and one napping (sort-of). I do so love this time of day!

I've been busy earning my title and it's gone quite well. Since Monday I've baked bread, tidied and vacuumed the basement, wiped down all of the kitchen cupboards, completed (washed, dried AND hung or put away) 98% of the laundry, bathed my children (hee hee, I do consider this an accomplishment), and tidied our tiny laundry room, transferred the Wii from the living room to the basement, hooked it up and played with the girls. I have much yet to do before my hubby returns tonight, but I'm taking baby's nap time off to catch-up on blog reading and writing.

It was hard to resist the pull of the computer! I wanted to just pop on to check comments, but I knew if I did an hour would pass before I was off again. It's so easy to be sucked into all of the interesting blogs I follow. I did manage to check the weather and the email without spending more than two minutes online yesterday morning, though. Other than that, it was cleaning and kids! I had planned to enjoy a glass of wine while I blogged last night, but instead I watched a funny chick-flick while I finished up the laundry. OK, enough about laundry! I hate laundry!

Today my mission includes organizing the master bedroom closet, cleaning the master bathroom and dusting and vacuuming the main level of the house. I have about 12 other things on the list, but these are the priority.
I'm thinking that housekeeping duties should be considered my exercise workout. If I cleaned like I have been everyday, not only would my house be amazingly spotless (for 5-minutes at a time), but I might also lose those last 10 (ok, with the Halloween candy it's creeping closer to 15) pounds and get into relatively good physical shape. I read a study once where hotel housekeepers were split into two groups: one was told to consider their job as exercise and the other was told nothing. The first group lost more weight than the second! They actually burned more calories doing the same thing! I'm sorry that my mommy-brain prohibits me from citing the source of that study. Who needs diets! I'm going to clean myself skinny!

Thanks for your support in my endeavor to switch off! Now I'm off to blog hop (see the link for 3 four and under's blog hop) and follow back my new followers. I'm almost to 100!!!! I am very excited about this. I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Your mission, should you choose to accept it...

 It's Monday and for many of us Stay-at or work-from home moms it means getting the house back in order after the weekend. I'm pleased to say that I've already got the laundry folded and put away, with another load in the washing machine as I type. I'm off to clean the kitchen the moment I click "publish".

I've decided to take a couple of days off of the computer. Upon finishing this post I will devote all of my time and energy to my family and house until tomorrow night after the children are in bed. Normally that time is reserved strictly for my husband and me, but my man will be traveling, so instead I'll share my glass of wine with you and I'll write about just how much one can get done when one hits the power switch on the laptop or desktop!

I challenge you to join me. Switch off the computer and switch on to your life for the next 36-hours or so. Hitting the power button is not just to get the laundry done or the toilets cleaned, it's also about being present with your family. Accept my challenge through a comment and then come back here on Wednesday to read about my experience and tell me about yours!

Goodbye for now, dear readers! I wish you productivity!  Enjoy the real world! I look forward to hearing about your experience and sharing mine!