And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Friday Gratitudes 4

Friday: Grams.  My mom is awesome with my girls and with me.

Saturday: Rory. Alma’s sweet friend. We pretty much spent the whole day with Rory and his fantastic parents.

Sunday: Olivia. Another of Alma’s sweet friends.  Another wonderful family we are blessed and grateful to know.

Monday: Girl tribe. I love that doing errands as a threesome is getting easier and more enjoyable.

Tuesday: Nature. We took the tiniest of hikes. I am so grateful to have nature so nearby and grandparents eager to show it off.

Wednesday: Daughters.

Thursday: Stroller. Our amazing two-seater makes our Girltribe outings possible. Especially like yesterday when we had errands downtown. We got to see my dad, my step-mom, get amazing Barn Light coffee, go to the fabric store (and have Alma contained!), and see a fire truck twice!

At the beginning of the week I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to fill our days…. ha!

A Little Moment – 1

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I am ironing some fabric for my next project.

Alma is eating “appleboss” and blueberry “muffums” that she helped bake.

Harriet is watching Alma and sitting in her high chair.

My daughters are becoming friends.

Cleaning Schedule That I Can Stick To

And Then They - Command CenterSince I am a stay-at-home mom these days, I’ve been trying to take on as much of the house work as I can (vacuuming will always be a Jesse job).  Pinterest is full of ideas for how to organize house cleaning, and I have tried a few.  Here’s one I tried.  My problem is it is so boring.  This schedule worked for the first couple weeks because it was new.  I was almost excited every day to wake up and see what I was going to do that day.  But  that wore off.  I need more variety in my life!

I came up with another idea.  Here’s how it worked.  I took some time to think about what needed to get done in our house and wrote a list of those things.  Then I estimated how often each chore should be completed.  Then I gave each chore a letter, and filled those letters into a 30 item list.  It sounds confusing, but you can see how I did it below.  On the left are the tasks (dust living room, mop, etc), then the key of how often they should be done (w = weekly, 1.5 w = every week and a half, 2 w = every other week).  Then I just filled them in.  I hope this is clear…

And Then They - Planning SheetI took my ‘key’ and filled in the tasks on my final copy.  I also added that every morning I will empty the dishwasher, wipe the bathroom counters, and make our bed, and every evening we will load the dishwasher, wash dishes, wipe counters, sweep dining room, and straighten the living room.  Jesse and I do the evening chores together after the girls are in bed.

And Then They - Chore ListThis seems to work for me.  It keeps me on my toes, and doesn’t feel like I’m doing boring housework all day long.  Most of these tasks can be completed in about 1/2 hour.  I can do it while the girls are awake, and even have Alma help with some of them.  And if I miss a day, it’s easy to catch up on following days, or just let it got until the next time.  I used to do some of these so seldom that if I only dust once a month, it still feels (and looks) much better than before I started using a schedule!

Another thing I like to do to keep myself motivated and productive is to have a few things that I plan on doing each day.  These can be fun, like coffee with a friend.  They can also be work or house related.  I write the task on a post-it, and recycle it when I’m done.  It makes me feel like I’m not just wasting my days away, even if I never even leave the house.

And Then They - Goal SheetThese little things help me so much when it comes to avoiding feeling shut-in or bored.  It feels so great to get things done, and these little ideas help me stay busy and on track!

Rainy Hike

It’s the first rainy day here in months.  Of course, we decided to plan a little hike.  That’s the way we roll around here.

aaa Rainy Day

We went on a very short hike through the woods up near my parents’ house.  They were excited to let Alma explore the nature around her.

aaa On the BridgeHarriet and I were there, too.  She was excited to explore my necklace with her mouth.

aaa In FrontI have so many memories of playing around storm drains.  I love that Alma was just as fascinated with them.  She loved all the bubbles floating around in the water.  “Bye-bye, bubbles.”

aaa UmbrellaAnd of course Grams’ plants needed to be watered.  This girl cracks me up.

aaa Watering Plants in the Rain

January Colorful Mantel (because the outside has no colors)

Every year this happens.  The fog descends and it just hangs out.  I’m an Oregon girl through-and-through.  I love the rain.  I love the crazy days that are rainy, sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, and rainy all in the span of an hour.  I do not, however, enjoy the fog.  It’s depressing.  I would take an overcast day over a foggy day no question.  There’s something awful and claustrophobic about not being able to see the house across the street.

So…. I decided to brighten up my living room by creating a colorful mantel!  I pretty much just grabbed everything around that is colorful, threw it on the mantel, moved things around until I liked what I saw and called it good.  Easy-peasy.

All the Things

Obviously the lighting is bad for photos, since there isn’t a whole lot of natural light coming through the windows.

January Mantle

Here’s my favorite part.  A corn candle that my friend Kelsey gave us.  She’s from Iowa, so it’s the real day.  Something of such distinction clearly needs a decorative glass case.

Corn in a Dome

Here’s a question for you.  I’ve been toying with the idea of taking out the old wood stove, painting the bricks, sewing a cushion, and adding wood to the fireplace.  Some examples of this can be found on this Pinterest board I have.  I don’t want to paint the wood paneling because I love it and how cozy it feels.  Do you think it would look good to paint the brick white?

Here’s another photo that shows more of the fireplace (Alma is standing on bricks with red tiles):

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Friday gratitudes 3

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This week was great. Jesse had a four day weekend, which means that I did too!

Friday: checkup – Alma saw her surgeon for her follow up appointment. So grateful that everything looks good!
Saturday: Siuslaw
Sunday: naps
Monday: music – we got to go to a workshop by Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin. Very cool.
Tuesday: sunbeam
Wednesday: Globster – I got to reconnect with a wonderful friend.
Thursday: sunshine

Today is another sunny day,  we are going to get out there and enjoy it!

Tackling the Scary Closet

We all have one.  Even Monica had one [I hope someone gets this reference].  I’m talking about that scary closet, drawer, dresser, room, box, whatever.  That place where we throw something that we think we might need, someday, maybe, perhaps.  Then it sits there until it gets covered with another endlessly important something.

Scary MessI didn’t get a before-shot of the closet, but here is pretty much everything emptied onto our dining room table.  We decided to finally tackle our scary closet a couple weeks ago.  I had been wanting to do this for a long time.  It was so stressful to me knowing that it existed.  I had a few things that I thought might be in there, and might be useful, but it was an overwhelming thought to try to dig them out.

The closet is a built-in that is in our hallway.  It has two shelves, and three huge drawers.  It could be amazingly useful if it was organized.  As it was, it was completely un-useful.  And scary.

So, we mustered our courage and grabbed everything, and took it to the dining room.  We sorted through the 4,387 gift bags.  We recycled or folded 2,314 pieces of tissue paper.  Seriously hyperbolic here, but you get it.  I can’t remember receiving that as many gifts as there were bags.  Really.  We recycled many of them, and kept quite a few.  Instead of randomly thrown in, we sorted them and slipped them into bigger gift bags.

We went through the nests of wires and figured out which ones we still needed.  Why did we have some of these wires?  For phones that we didn’t even have any more?  Why?  Ugh.  Every electronic device now has a place, and wires are neatly wound.

We went through sheets, blankets, shower curtains (ummm… our shower has a sliding door… curtains?), pillows.  Most of that went into the attic, and some into the drawers.

Rolls of wrapping paper got a drawer of their own.

Our cloth diapers have a place to hang out while not doing their thing.

We still have a whole, pristine empty drawer.

It feels like a breath of fresh air.

Much Less Scary

It is really quite absurd how much excess was in there.  How much excess we were carrying with us.  And why did it take us so long?  Why did we just open the closet, throw something in, or try to dig something out, then close it and try to forget about it?  Sure, it was scary, but it wasn’t going to kill us.

The scary closet it a metaphor, friends.  It’s real, but it’s also a metaphor.  You know what I mean?  Sure you do.

Friday Gratitudes 2

This has been a long week that flew by.  In the moment, I couldn’t believe it was taking so long, but last night I realized, ‘hey!  It’s Thursday!’  I love that.

10.  Books – Alma has gotten so good at sitting through a book, even books with lots of words.  I love it.
11. Muscles – First training day for Couch to 5K.  My muscles were soooore, but it was a good kind of sore.  Grateful to have strong legs and a body that can put up with what I give it.
12. Pancakes
13. Wine
14. Nanapapa – Dinner with my dad and step-mom. I love how Alma says their name as one. “Nanapapa, nanapapa!”
15. Rach – we had an amazing nanny last year while I was teaching. She and Alma have formed the most incredible bond. Alma freaks out and lights up when she sees Rach, and I think Rach feels the same way. We still see her a couple times a month and it is lovely.
16. 2110 – while on my training run (ha), I finally met the woman who lives in my old house. We live about a half mile from the house I grew up in, and we walk by it all the time. I have wanted to meet the owners for a long time, but never saw them outside. On the 16th, the woman was getting the mail, so I introduced myself. So fun to hear that they have a daughter who sleeps in my old room.

There you have it, folks! So much for which to be grateful! Here’s to my next week of gratitudes! What have you been grateful for the past week?

Books for Strong Girls – #1 – Rosie Revere, Engineer

When I come across books that I think will be important to my daughters, I’m going to try to write about them here on the blog.  While I will call this project Books for Strong Girls, all of these books are always equally good an important to strong boys.  It’s just that there are so many more books with strong boys as protagonists.  I think it’s important to celebrate books (and movies, and TV shows, etc) that have strong, creative, brave girls as protagonists.  I want Alma and Harriet to know that they have many great shoulders to stand on in their journeys through life.

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Number 1 is Rosie Revere, Engineer By Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts.

Alma got this amazing book from her friend Max for her birthday.  Here’s a disclaimer:  I am still a hormonal mess these days, so what I’m going to write next might not apply to everyone.  I can’t get through this book without crying.  It is about a little girl who likes to build things.  Once, she builds something and someone laughs at it.  Then she decides to never show anyone her creations again, until someone arrives who inspires her to try again.

It is about perseverance,

It is about creativity.

It is about self-confidence.

It is about getting things wrong.

It is about trying, and trying, and trying again.

It is about girls, and women.

I feel like it is such a special gift to be able to raise two daughters.  I think God trusted that Jesse and I would be able to raise two wise, confident, creative, strong women.  I hope I can their ‘Great-great-Aunt Rose’ many times in their lives.  I want to be amazed by their successes, and inspired by their failures.

Here’s why I cry.  In the book, Rosie fails, but her great-great-aunt tells her that, she actually succeeded.  She tells Rosie that the only real failure is in quitting.  Alma is just getting to the age where she gets really, really frustrated when she can’t do something on her own.  I know there will be lots of this frustration in her life.  I don’t want her or Harriet to ever quit – quit trying, quit working, quit looking for someone who can help them, just quit.

And I want them to know that their dad and I will always be there cheering them on, laughing so hard we wheeze, and slapping our knees.  Because that’s how excited we will be to see them try.

Sleeping/ Sleep Training/ Sleeping?

New babies love to sleep.  It seems like that’s all they do.  So why are parents of new babies so exhausted?  New babies have some weird, mysterious way of sleeping just enough that the look like they are always asleep, but waking up just enough that their parents get no sleep at all.  It’s just the way it is.  Tricky, sneaky babies.

Luckily I no longer have a new baby.  My baby is an old baby, which means that I get to do the tricking.  I have successfully tricked her into taught her to sleep through the night, and to have pretty regular and kick-ass naps (are you kidding me?  Right when I typed this, I heard Harriet wake up…. damn hubris!) during the day.

My main advice in all things parenting is to not read any books, or if you simply must a book, please, please, please only read one.  Books are notorious for giving conflicting opinions and making you think you are doing things right, while simultaneously making you think you are killing your child.  Yuck.  My second piece of advice is to never listen to advice.  It only messes with your head.

If you want to know how we trained our daughters, I will refer you to this blog post.  I know some people think it is mean to sleep train babies in this way.  I would say to them that it is mean not to, but I’m not going to say that.  It’s just what I would say.  But I’m obviously not saying that.  I’m not trying to start any ‘mommy wars’ here, just trying to share my truth and reality.  If you don’t agree with this, feel free to close the browser, or tab, or phone, or what-have-you.  I’m not trying to change your mind, just trying to share what worked for both my girls.  Besides, if you feel strongly that what I did is wrong, your mind will never be changed, now will it?  Nope.  And anyway, that is totally not the point of this post.

Co SleepingThe point of the post is to deal with my feeling after having sleep trained.  I love that Harriet has learned this amazingly important life skill.  I love that Jesse and I were able to teach her this amazingly important life skill.  I have no regrets as to how or when we sleep trained both girls.  I am confident in all of this.  I am proud of this.  I am proud that Jesse and I are able to teach and guide our kids.  I am proud of my daughters for taking this small, no huge, step towards independence.

With Alma, we had her in bed with us every single night until she was four months old.  I loved sleeping with her, and being able to nurse her whenever either of us wanted to.  I loved the connection and cuddles.  But I was so ready to move on to the next step when she turned 4 months old and we got the go-ahead from our pediatrician.  I don’t remember feeling sad to have her out of the bed in those first few weeks.

With Harriet we had her in the co-sleeper, up against our bed every night until she was about 4 1/2 months old.  I loved this, too.  It was great having her close enough that I could nurse easily.  I loved being able to hold her little hand while we slept.  I loved hearing her little baby noises, and watching her little baby breathing.  Again, I was so ready to move on to the next step.  But, this time I have been a little sad in the weeks that followed.

Maybe it’s because she’s our last baby.

When I go to bed, and turn off the light, it takes me forever to fall asleep.  I don’t know if it’s that I miss the white noise of her breathing, or the nightlight that is now in her room, or something more visceral.

All I know for sure is that it is called sleep training for a reason.  Harriet seems to be trained, but I’m still learning.  I guess that is what it means to be a parent.  And that can’t be found in any book.

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