11.30.2012

Homosexuality and the Bible

Randomly, wanted to share a great documentary a friend introduced me to... its all about homosexuality and the Bible and I found it fascinating. From now on, if anyone quotes Leviticus at me, I'm just going to send them a link to this!

11.29.2012

christmas prep

I keep coming here, opening the new post box, then x-ing out. Work is just busy enough to make the days pass by nicely, and I'm just feeling distracted from writing otherwise.

So what have I been doing? Well, writing out my list of people that I'm buying Christmas gifts for (less then a month! wowza!)... then happily crossing out all of them except for 3. It feels good to have started early, and bought as I found things, so now I'm basically done. What I still need to figure out is a few stocking stuffers for Trav, and something nice, but not too expensive for Gwen's 4 main teachers. Thoughts?

I also want to leave something little for the mailman and the garbage men. Do you leave anything for them? If so, what/how much? They are all great guys that we've had lots of interactions with, so I want to do something small for them.

Maybe I'll bake them cookies, but boy... I realized this week, while I whipped up the cookies for Ro's cookie exchange this weekend, that I am really NOT a fan of all the work that goes into making cookies. I'm sure I'll end up doing it anyway, with Gwen some weekend, and I don't mind the measuring and mixing, but I really dislike the dishing out of dough and watching the clock forever in 15 minute intervals part. Maybe she and I can do something no bake, like cowgirl cookies... or something easier, in bar form. Please remind me next year though, when making 4 dozen cookies on a weekday night before a cookie exchange, its probably best not to try a new recipe you've never made before! C'est la vie.

Hopefully Trav can take advantage of Gwen and I being out this Saturday, to start breaking out the Christmas decorations. Sunday we have the bris, but we can probably finish that afternoon. Christmas cards (if I can remember to bring our addresses to work to make labels for) should be going out next week. Love all of this holiday fun!

What have you done to get ready for the holidays? Decorations up? Shopping started?

11.26.2012

thankful post Thanksgiving

The past 4 days have flown by.
Thanksgiving was full and busy, lots of cooking, my family visiting, lovely and fun. I brined the turkey for the first time and it was delish. I also used the carcase to made turkey broth for the first time too, ending up with 2 quarts (one I sent home with my mom), a pint, and a big pot full of amazing smelling and tasting broth.

I froze the quart and pint, but used the big pot full to make some amazingly yummy turkey noodle soup. Breast meat, carrots, corn, celery, noodles; sage, bay leaves, rosemary, salt, pepper, and parsley. Season, taste, season, taste. A great use of some leftovers if I do say so myself.


Friday and Saturday were deliciously lazy. We relaxed at home, only venturing out to hit up the grocery store.

Sunday turned into my busiest day of all. Quaker meeting in the morning, home to lunch my girl, then I had made plans to go the the movie's with Ro (if you're wondering, I think the last Twilight is the best of them all... ha!). After that it was straight off to NJ to visit with my Tally-le, who's son had arrived on Saturday!


Edden is the cutest little grumpy old man, and I relished every second I got to snuggle him!




Mama and baby are doing great, and boy is it wonderful to see them together. New life, now that is something to be thankful for!!

Next weekend I'll attend my first bris! I can't wait to see both Edden and Tally-le again!

It was hard getting up this morning. Mondays after the holidays are always the hardest, and in a lovely twist, after 4 great nights of sleep, last night I couldn't fall asleep for the life of me, only to have Gwen wake at 3 a.m.! She put herself back to sleep, but not before I rolled myself out of bed and stumbled my way down the hall to her door.

C'est la vie. At least the day is almost done!

11.22.2012

Giving Thanks

Once again this November, I decided to count down to Thanksgiving, with a daily post expressing something I am thankful for. I wanted to share them all with you know, and would love to hear what you are thankful for this year too!


Nov. 1: Today I am thankful for the access to maternal care the I have in this country, and that there are organizations like Every Mother Counts working to get such access to all women.



Nov. 2: Today I'm grateful for my job. I might not always love what I do, but at least I get to do it with amazing people, and I have amazing job security that gives me piece of mind. I am blessed.

Nov. 3: Today I'm grateful for Mother Nature. Beautiful sky, crisp air, lovely colorful leaves. Soul food.

Nov. 4: Today I am thankful for awesome friends. Heading over to Ro & Pat's.

Nov. 5: Today I'm thankful for sleepy morning snuggles, and toddler giggles. They really make Monday mornings more lovely.

Nov. 6: Today I'm thankful to be blessed with a right that many around the world still have to fight and die for. While you all know where I stand, I hope you all go out and exercise this precious right today. Heading out to vote!

Nov. 7: Today I'm thankful for four states that voted for marriage equality, for four more years, and for the hope I have in what all that can mean. I'm hopeful that the next four years can be spent working together to make this country the best it can be.

Nov. 8: Today I'm thankful for orange juice, vitamin c, cough meds, and sweet friends who offer me tea and chicken soup... all the things I need to hopefully, finally kick this cold.

Nov. 9: Just watched a blurb about all the amazing heroism by police and firefighters the night of Sandy. Moved me to tears. Today I am thankful for those amazing men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us. Not one night, but every night. They are brave and selfless, and I am so grateful.

Nov. 10: Today I'm thankful for fun football days with my family.

Nov. 11: Today I'm thankful for the men and women who have chosen to serve to protect all of our freedoms. Their sacrifices are not forgotten, or taken for granted. I am grateful everyday for them.

 Nov. 12: Today I am thankful for all the times that Trav takes over parenting duties so that I can feed the other parts of my life. Yoga, Ridley Park Clean-Up, and Sunday when I checked out the local Friend's Meetinghouse (Quaker church). He's happy to take over so I can fill my physical, mental, and spiritual cup back up. I'm so so thankful for that.

 Nov. 13: Today I'm thankful for all of it. For this crazy, overwhelming, sometimes frustrating, non-stop, full of love, blessed, oh-so-full life. Its not perfect, but its mine.

 Nov. 14: Today I'm grateful for amazing coworkers; both the ones I work with daily, and the ones I work with for once a year events. I work with smart, funny, sweet, competent people. That is a blessing for sure!

 Nov. 15: Today I'm thankful for Travis. Gwen is lucky to have such an involved, hands on, playful Daddy. I'm lucky to have such an involved, funny, loving husband. He is a wonderful partner, and I'm thankful for him today and everyday.

 Nov. 16: Today I'm thankful for sleepy mornings! I love when I get to have slow, lazy starts to the day!

 Nov. 17: Today I'm thankful for my awesome alma mater. 4 amazing years, and so many awesome memories since. Go Lehigh!! Kick Lafayette's butt!! (Weird to be missing Lehigh/Laf this year, for the first time!)

 Nov. 18: Today I'm thankful for my sweet, precocious, funny, ridiculous, crazy baby girl. She's amazing and lovely, and I am grateful everyday that she is mine. Today she amazed me by sitting quietly for 10 minutes at the Quaker meeting (before the kids headed out to play) which was about 10 minutes more then I thought possible!

 Nov. 19: Despite the fact that she drooled all over my pants leg this morning (apparently my breakfast smelled really good!), today I am thankful for Daisy the wonder pup. She's loyal, loving, and pretty damn good. Not to mention, a damn gorgeous dog. Our family wouldn't be the same without her.

 Nov. 20: It's so easy to get caught up in the materialism of this world, always wanting the biggest, best, newest. Today I am so thankful to be able to afford the "little" things that aren't so little: a roof over our heads, good food on our table, warm clothes, heat and water and electric, and the luxury of being able to buy my daughter fun things to play with. There are so many in this country, this world, who work so hard, but still can't afford those things. I know how blessed I am.

 Nov. 21: Today I'm thankful for all those other random wonderful things in life: music, books, movies; pasta, cheese, sushi, angel food cake; family dance parties, hugs and Eskimo kisses, days off of work to spend with my family; healthy, happiness, love, life, prosperity.

 Nov. 22: Today I'm thankful for this time of year which reminds me how very much I have to be thankful for. Looking forward to a beautiful day with my family, and wishing the best to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!!!


Photo Credit

11.21.2012

wordless wednesday {classmates and friends}


Gwen's classmates... her friends. So sweet.
(Blurred faces for privacy... but left her and Dominic.)

11.19.2012

holiday prep and surprise spanish

Pretty relaxing weekend here, and productive as we got a ton of cleaning and straightening done. Good thing since we are hosting Thanksgiving this year and now I won't be embarrassed when my parents and brother show up on Thursday.

That was mostly all we did on Saturday. We skipped Lehigh vs. Lafayette this year for the first time in ages, though we watched it on TV. We love Lehigh and love getting back, but since we most head up during the day and a lot of alumni come back to drink at night, we end up not seeing a lot of people we know. Its worse for away games, which this was. Maybe next year. At least, in happy news, we won.  :-)

Sunday was a little more active, though still in a low-key way. I brought Gwen to the Quaker meeting with me. It went surprisingly well. About 10 - 15 minutes into the service the children's teacher takes the kids next door into the school, where they can color, play, and listen to stories. She sat amazingly still and quiet for those 10 minutes... quieter then I knew she could be while awake! Ha! I had a book for her to look at, and I think next time I might bring a pad for her to draw on, but she spent much of the time just sitting quietly with me. I went with her next door, and will next time to if she needs me, but by the end she was warming up nicely. I'll leave it up to her whether she comes with me or not, but for the first time, it went so well.

After the service was done, we took advantage of the school's playground to burn off some energy.





After lunch back at home, we enjoyed some puzzles, books, more cleaning, more straightening, and a walk around the block.


Two things Gwen surprised me with this week... Sunday morning we were both still waking up, so I put on "Super Why?" to watch with Gwen. Its not a bad show, helping with reading, math, and its cute. At one point they asked what a letter was, and Gwen shouted out the answer! I didn't realize she was identifying letters without context. I was so impressed! Trav wasn't as impressed, he's seen her do it before.

The next thing did impress Trav though. It must be something they're working on in school, but I never heard anything about it, and she just broke it out with no provocation while playing on Saturday. I asked her to repeat it for the camera, and we made a little video which we plan to send to Trav's uncle's husband... Gwen's Tio.

video


Every day my little girl is less little!

Now we're on to our quick week, then the first of my favorite holidays! Yippee!

11.16.2012

33 months


Dear Gwenivere,
I don't know why or how this turned into such a big couple of months for you, but I feel like you really turned the corner from a 2 year old to an almost 3 year old. Everything is bigger now... you, your actions, your attitude!

Sometimes you have days when you are such a big kid. You'll sleep until a great time, wake up smiling, eat well, think about questions we ask you and answer thoughtfully, say no thank you and yes please, etc. You had a day like that recently where for dinner you sat there and chomped on ribs, eating the meat right off the bone. I looked at you and though, "My God... I birthed a real human." I mean one that's going to turn into an adult some day. An adult that eats ribs like a pro.

Other days, you still need a little more help to get through. You come a sleep for a bit in our bed in the morning, then need some extra snuggles while getting ready, and the day ends with an I'm too tire to cope meltdown. Normally over something like how many orange slices are in your bowl, or the color of your utensils. Those days are trying for all of us.

We're working on it though. Working on using words to describe our feelings instead of just yelling or whining. We're working on things like being more cooperative when getting ready for bed, so that we can do more fun things before bed. Its always going to be a work in progress, but we're doing it together.

These past few months you've spent a lot of time with your Daddy. Mama has had a number of nights I had to work late, so you guys had "slumber parties." Daddy reads you some books, then lets you fall asleep on the futon, or falls asleep with you on the futon, depending on how long of a day its been for him! We also had our first weekend apart. It was a great weekend for Mama, I needed the special time with my friends, but boy oh boy did I miss you! You are my girl, and it was hard to be away from you. You and Daddy did great though, and I think you guys have gotten a lot closer because of it.

Sometimes its hard for me to watch you grow so quickly. About a month ago, you came home from daycare and handed me your necklace. The one you've been wearing for 2 years, since you were 8 months old. You had asked them to take it off at daycare, you didn't feel like wearing it... and you haven't worn it since. Maybe you will wear it again, maybe not, but that felt like some kind of milestone for me.

We have a little routine we go through every other week or so, when I say to you what a big girl you are becoming, and you agree with me very excitedly... but then I ask you, "But you're still always going to be my baby, right?!" And you always agree with that just as enthusiastically.  ::phew::

I'll let you in on a little secret: No matter what your answer to that question, no matter what age you are when you read this, you really will always be my baby. 

Love you silly goosey,
Mommy



Ps. At 33 months you are just over 23 lbs (at least on the home scale). You must be going through a growth spurt because you want to eat. all. the. time! Your favorite veggies are green beans and peas, favorite fruit is oranges, and you love chicken and "meat" (what you call steak). You are a dark meat girl like your Mama, so I can't wait to give you a drumstick on Thanksgiving! You still nurse most nights and a lot of mornings, but do fine if I'm not there to nurse you.

You love your blankie, and rotate through a few stuffed animals and baby dolls. You love the colors blue and purple, and also have an affinity for orange. You love football, but the marching band maybe a little bit more. You love watching Elmo in the morning, and your favorite books are Olivia and Drummer Hoff. If we say, "Is everybody ready?" you respond with, "Shake a Leg!"  Home, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnificent Zeros, is now "your song," and you ask for it all the time. You love music in general though and will randomly start singing a myriad of songs randomly throughout the day. Dominic is still your best buddy at school.

As of now, you've decided you want your birthday party to be construction themed because of your love of cranes and all construction vehicles, but diggers especially! We'll see what you think in another month or two!

11.14.2012

things i love

I love when our biggest event of the year goes so smoothly, and there are no complaints!

I love getting a reason to throw on some glitz and glam, and be a little fashionable for a night.






I don't love missing my daughter for the evening, but I do love the extra snuggles she gives me the following morning when I get her from her crib.

I love relaxed mornings when I get to go into work a little late, and therefore can just worry about helping Trav and Gwen get going. It makes life so much easier for all of us.

I love how quickly the day goes when you have the morning off!

11.12.2012

lots on my mind

I have lots on my mind today.

I'm thinking about Reesey a lot. I can't even imagine what that mama is going through. I can't imagine having to look at my sweet girl and hear the word cancer. I just can't imagine.

And that makes me feel a little guilty about being a little short with Gwen this weekend. She was having such a whiny day yesterday, and the constant "whying" and fussing, plus the clinginess was driving me a little bonkers. Not to mention, I think she's going through a growth spurt because she's apparently hungry every 30 minutes now. Except she's also being extra picky about food.  ::sigh::

So I was a little short and I didn't mean to be, and I was extra annoyed with myself about it since I had extra break times this weekend. Saturday we headed up to my parents, where Trav and Gwen hung out while I went to get my hair trimmed. Then we all headed to Lehigh for the football game. It was a good day.

Sunday was really good too. The weather was so unseasonably warm and mild. It was in the 60s, and I was eating it up. I headed to the local Friend's Meetinghouse to check it out. It was nice to have that hour to myself. Time to reflect and fill up my spiritual cup. I want to take Gwen next week, so we'll see how it goes. When I got home we did some more stuff around the house... laundry, cleaning, lunch, and winterizing our garden. With all the travels in recent weeks, it was really good to have a day home. We have another one to look forward to next weekend... then a few days off for Thanksgiving after that.

First I have to get through tomorrow though. Biggest work event of the year. I'm excited and I can't wait for it to be over! For now, back to work, lots to do.

11.09.2012

writing

I went to bed an hour early last night, which felt so good, and helped me feel about 30x better today, though I still don't feel perfect. Its this damn cough. It just. won't. leave.

Weekend ahead though, two days to hopefully help me recover. See you next week!

11.08.2012

CM: That's Life with a Toddler

My most recent post on Connected Mom.
Let me know what you think, or what your stay cool tips are.

***

Sometimes I get things done way early. Most of my posts here at Connected Mom are queued up and ready to go not long after I post the last one. Honestly I'm a procrastinator, so I try to get it done the moment I get an idea for a post, while those creative juices are flowing... because otherwise its too easy to let anything else in life take preeminence, then suddenly its Monday at noon and I'm staring at a blinking cursor line with no words coming.

I'm a little behind right now, squeaking this one in just under the line. Life, gets in the way of the perfect plan we have. Balance is hard to come by, and when you are thrown off your game, it can take a number of good days to feel back "on."

Two and a half, almost three, year olds can get in the way of great plans too. Gwen is fun and loving, funny and silly, cute and crazy. She's also a handful, full into the stage of boundary testing, button pushing, and "I do it myself." Normal, age-appropriate, completely and utterly frustrating.


So here are some tips I've shared before, but are worth sharing again... even if only because I could use the reminder! These are what I use to try and have more of the calm days and less of the frustrated ones, to take what "gets in the way" and turn it into "what makes our day different and fun."

1) Age realistic expectations. At 33 months, she is only emotionally able to handle so much. She's still learning what appropriate reactions are and how her actions cause reactions. And you learn by trial and error. So, respond kindly, and move on.

2) Expectations that match with what I want for Gwen in the future. A friend once told me about a very trying morning with her spirited, energetic, intelligent daughter. She delivered her to daycare and asked the teacher, "How do I raise a daughter who is strong, determined, independent, comfortable with her feelings and voices her opinions, but who also listens and always does what I ask her to?!" The answer, of course, is that you don't! But a few tiffs now, as we figure all this out together, is well worth it to foster the independence and determination that will serve her so well in the future.

3) Name the emotion, for both of our sakes! When Gwen is frustrated or sad, I say as much... "I see you are frustrated/mad/upset because of xyz..." I do it to help her figure out her emotions, but I do it to remind myself of them as well. Do I love crying because she wants something she can't have? Nope. But I do know what its like to be overly tired after a long day and have something be extremely frustrating and almost too much to bare. Naming her emotion helps me put myself in her shoes.

4) Evaluate if I really need to distract/dissuade/say no. Gentle/AP parenting is not (contrary to what some media might have you believe) permissive parenting in the negative sense. But at the suggestion of a smart mama, I started looking at the why I didn't want Gwen to do certain things. Is it because of a safety reason? Then stay the course! Is it because it will be a little messy and I don't want to clean up? Hmm, there are times this is valid, but many when its not a great reason.

5) Teach respect by modeling respect. Gwen is an equal member of this family. Yes, her dad and I have the life experience, and as her parents we will ask her to defer to our judgement many a time. However she deserves our respect as fully as we deserve hers. So we listen when she talks, we say excuse me and thank you and please, and we try to give our reasons/explain our actions when we do need her to defer to us. "Because I said so," or "because I'm the mom," are not explanations, and in the long run they don't help her understand that the "no" she just heard isn't a no just for that exact moment, but is a request not to repeat a particular action.


Its so easy to get overwhelmed when life gets hectic, there are deadlines to meet, and this little person just doesn't seem to want to play independently even though they do it at this time every single other day. Or they don't want to go to sleep even though you know they are exhausted. Or...

I'm not perfect. Not by a long shot. I do get overly frustrated, slip up and yell sometimes. That can be a learning time for us both though too, because when I catch myself, I excuse myself to calm down, then come back and apologize. No one is perfect, including this Mama, and I want my girl to know that. People make mistakes, and the fact that we can apologize, hug, and still love each other afterwards, just as much as we did before, well... I think that's one of the best lessons I can give us all. Hopefully it is the one that will keep her coming to me when she makes her own mistakes.

In the meantime, I'll do my best to enjoy this toddler life. And take advantage of every free moment this crazy life allows me.


11.07.2012

the good, the bed, the ouchy

Good:  4 for 4 on marriage equality! 4 more years!

Bad: Winter Storm Athena. I mean, snow on top of all the Sandy damage... not good.

Ouchy: I hit up my first yoga class last night. I really enjoyed it, but boy are my muscles sore today! Definitely using them and twisting them in new and unique ways.


Where did the time go? Its already dark outside and I'm contemplating how nice an additional hour or two in the day would be. Definitely looking forward to the upcoming holidays and the time off surrounding them.

11.06.2012

10 years

First a quick public service announcement... Go Vote! Whoever you vote for, please, take the time to exercise this amazing right that many people around the world would fight and die for. I've done my civic duty. Have you? 

***

A New Day turns 10 years old today! I feel like we should be going on a cruise to the Bahama's together, because dang, 10 years is pretty awesome.

This place has seen a college graduation, my first real job, an engagement, our first house, two new cars, a wedding, a puppy, travel to three countries and many states, two pregnancies, a miscarriage, our beautiful Gwen, and all the myriads of smaller, but no less important things that make life... life.

This blog has been my community, my journal, my memory keeper. I'm so glad to have it. So thankful that 10 years ago I sat down and typed, "So this is the first time i am trying this... typing out what i feel to share with the world, or at least my own small corner of it."

Thank you for sharing in my life. Here's to 10 more years of memories recorded!

***

Ps. That puppy I mentioned above... she turns 4 today!! My furry girl is getting so big. She really has turned into the best pup ever. So loving, silly, but also loyal and obedient. We lucked out. Happy Birthday Daisy!! 

11.05.2012

Busy day... so a super quick, picture heavy post...

Saturday was the monthly Ridley Creek Trail Cleanup. It was actually in much better shape then I thought it would be after the storm, but there were definitely blowdowns to clean up. It felt good to get out there, hiking around, and get my blood pumping.

Sunday we headed to Ro and Pat's, then all hopped in our cars to head to Valley Forge National Park to do some pictures for our Christmas cards. I took some of Ro, Pat, and the girls...




Then Pat took some of us. 






After that we headed back to their place for some lunch, and a fun activity for the girls... decorating huge gingerbread men!


They had a great time.


All-in-all, a nice weekend.

11.01.2012

pittsburgh and halloween

Gwen coughed so hard last night she gagged and barfed on me. Twice. I coughed so hard that I busted a blood vessel in my eye and gave myself a headache. We both slept well though and aren't coughing so much today. And I do have pictures:
 
Fall trees!!

Pittsburgh:

(Day 1)

In Station Square.

Excited to start the Duck Tour.

The first day was gorgeous, and we had a great time seeing the city via Duck Tour.

Football Stadium.


Gwen got to drive the boat!

Skyline.



(Day 2)
Children's Museum with Trav, Uncle Andy, Aunt Megan, and cousin Wyatt.


I had to work all day, but Trav's brother and his family came in from Ohio. They all had a great time together at the Children's Museum.



Love this pic of the cousins!




(Day 3)

I had to work this day too, but only a half day. Gwen and Trav came over to check out the History Center, where my event was being held, while I finished up.

Heinz History Center - Super Bowl Ring





After I was done, we headed to the Primanti Brother's for lunch, then the Warhol Museum. We headed out Monday morning to race the crazy weather home.

Halloween:




Happy November!!