Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Wear Pregnant Lady Out

I suppose it doesn't take a lot to wear a pregnant lady out. But I've been enjoying so much more energy these days (second trimester, I love you!) that I wonder if this would have worn even Lance Armstrong out.

I go to a playgroup every Thursday morning at 8:30 am. That's early, I know, but we started in the summer when you would spontaneously combust if you were out doors after 10 am. We usually meet at the park. Given the chilly weather lately, coupled with the holiday season being in full swing, I thought it would be fun this past Thursday to take a break from the park and meet at my house to decorate Christmas cookies.

Usually about 5 or 6 of us plus kids will show up to the playgroup. But this week everyone came out! We had 12 moms and 12 toddlers running, sometimes crying, playing, crafting and decorating all over my house! I loved it and from what I could tell, fun was had by all. But, let me tell you, it took me a good two days to recover from this little shin dig. It's not that it was difficult to prepare; all I did was bake some cookies. And the mess afterward was surprisingly less than you might think given the combination of toddlers, icing and sprinkles (though the more I looked around my dining room, the more icing smears I detected!). Nevertheless, the hustle and bustle required several naps to recover.

John before the party started. He still has a cookie in his mouth and he's signing "more."

Decorating snowmen with stickers.

Target has these really great snowmen decorating packages. The snowmen and stickers are foam. Since everyone couldn't decorate cookies at the same time, I was looking for something else that the kids could do that would be simple, cheap and not make an intractable mess. This was the answer! The package cost $5 and stickers are self-explanatory. They did get everywhere but they were perfectly easy to sweep up!

As you can see, some children (ahem, my own) did not quite catch on to the finer points of cookie decorating. But all quickly became proficient at the cookie eating involved! Some of the older ones did enjoy the decorating. One little 2 year old spent at least 15 minutes painstakingly decorating his cookie bite-by-bite.

John did not make it out of his pajamas for the duration of the party. When you expect people at your house at 8:30 am, some things just don't get done! The toilets were clean and the cookies were done! That's what's important!

I used this recipe from i am baker for the sugar cookies and icing. Delicious. I love that blog.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Counting Petal Page

A little about me: I am Leslie, I have a blog called, creatively, Peter, being my husband. Our son, John, is 18 months and we are expecting another baby in April.

I was excited to participate in the quiet book swap because it is such a cute idea. But also because I've been wanting to learn and grow in craftiness (like, arts and crafts, not deception!). I have a sewing machine which I have used but, until recently, was not very comfortable with. I thought that doing this would give me a goal and force me to overcome at least part of the learning curve that I had been using as an excuse for not doing more sewing projects. I'm definitely glad I did it because I do feel much more comfortable with my machine. I can thread it now without having to read the step-by-step instructions each time! I'm by no means an expert (I even attempted to sew on the velcro sticky dots which is a no no!) but I've got the confidence to try more projects. Not to mention, I've got 18 other adorable pages coming my way!

I will say that a good motto for doing something like this is: "Don't forget: it's for 18 month-olds." Meaning, details like perfectly straight seems will not necessarily be appreciated by the target audience. So, have fun!

2.5 yards Pellon Peltex 70 ultra firm stabilizer
Pages of stiffened felt: orange (2), light blue (2), yellow (1), green (1)
Sticky velcro dots from Hobby Lobby 75/pack (2) and 15/pack (1)
Miscellaneous: thread, sharpies

Serving Pink Lemonade
I used the template from this blog, deviating very little. I modified her instructions in that I didn't fuse the felt pieces onto the pellon; I only sewed them. I don't know if fusing would add stability or some other benefit. With 20 pages to make, I was going for the most streamlined process I could manage! I also wrote the numbers onto the flower petals rather than fusing on felt numbers. Again, with 20 pages, I thought that cutting out the numbers for all those petals (160 in all!) would be prohibitively time consuming.


1. Cut the Pellon into 20 8.5 X10 sheets.

2. Trace the individual template pieces (flower petals, stem, flower pot and flower center) onto the stiffened felt and cut out.

3. Sew flower pot, stem and center of flower onto Pellon. The flower pot functions as a pocket, so leave the top open only sewing around the sides and bottom.

4. Trace flower petals around flower center with sharpie

5. Apply velcro sticky dots to each flower petal (soft side of velcro) and within each traced flower petal (rough side of velcro).

6. Write numbers 1-8 on each petal

6. Voila! Finis!

I didn't document the assembly process but here is a picture of the finished product where you can see all the components.

Lessons learned:
Overall, you can't go very wrong with this (I don't think! I'm open to feedback from the other quiet book swappers who might have critiques of my page!). But it would be ideal to use sew-on velcro as the stick-on kind will not hold up very well long-term. I intend to reinforce mine by hand stitching each one on. Had I had more time (much more time!) and resources, I would have used the sew-on velcro. But as it was, that would have been too time consuming and more expensive than the sticky dots.

Since I live out of town, I didn't get to go to the swap in person but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's work. Here's to (hopefully) many quiet minutes of quiet, well-behaved children exploring their quiet books!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Quiet Book Swap

I recently participated in a quiet book swap. Here is an explanation of what a quiet book is and here is an explanation of a quiet book swap.

The swap was coordinated by Laura, a blog-friend that I went to A&M with. She asked each of the participants to write a blog post about the making of our quiet book page. Each day she'll be posting on her blog one of those entries which will detail a different page and how it was constructed. There will be 18 in all, plus a post about the cover. It will be kind of like a tutorial for making your own if you ever wanted to do so.

I thought this was a great idea. You'd have to ask Laura how difficult it was to coordinate but if you're inclined, it would be a fun project to do with friends!

I'll post the entry I wrote about my page here tomorrow.

Just so you know, making one of these does require some equipment. Most pages required sewing. But, if you can get your hands on a machine, this is very doable. Another of my friends who participated had never sewn before. She borrowed her mother in law's machine and made an adorable page with a puppy on it!

Also, if you have a baby who's not quite of age to appreciate the activities on these pages, that doesn't mean it's too early to make one if you want to. I've realized that crafty projects like this are much easier before children get mobile! Of course, you can still do them after the kids begin running around like crazy. It just means you just have to carve out time during naps or after bed time. I still try very diligently to nap when the baby naps! So take advantage of the time when you can sit the kids in one place and they can't toddle away to Timbuktu while your head is turned for a split second!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Tree

Several years ago a friend of mine posted on her blog about a Thanksgiving tree she'd made. Each day in November she and her family would write something for which they were thankful on a paper leaf and stick it onto the tree. I fell in love with the idea and I knew that I wanted to do something similar when I had kids (though it's not a bad idea for anyone to do whether single, married, childless etc...). There are so many variations of this around the inter webs that you really can't go wrong.

But I wanted to do something that I could do the prep work for one year and then use the pieces year after year. Here is what we ended up with:

Last year I had a family friend from church, who is a carpenter, cut this tree out of plywood. I had intended to use it last November. But, as I was learning at the time, when you have children (or possibly just when you're me) sometimes things that you think will only take you 10 minutes will actually take you a year to get around to (I had this problem before children too so I can't totally blame it on John although he makes for a convenient excuse. ;o) )

This year we stained the tree, Peter installed hooks and I cut out and laminated what seemed like approximately 7,000 leaves, poked holes in them and tied ribbon through the holes. We wrote what we are thankful for on the leaves with dry erase markers so they can be erased and used year after year. If there are any special ones that I'd like to save I can use a permanent marker and put it in a scrapbook.

My goal was to do this each day in November. We got around to it once. (In all fairness we didn't have the tree in working order until about the 15th and then I went out of town on the 21st!) But it's a start! John's still too young to recall any of this so we're having a few practice years!

I have big plans for the tree. I also, in coming years, hope to use it as a resurrection tree leading up to Easter and possibly an advent tree as well.

I'm looking forward to when John will be able to participate more and we don't have to guess what he's most thankful for. Though we did guess for him this year and I'm pretty sure among his top three are his mama, his lovie, and bananas (bananas might be number one but I'm just vain enough to put myself first).

I think this is such a fun way to cultivate thanksgiving and contentment! There are so many things to be thankful for that a leaf for everyday in November wouldn't even begin to cover it!

"But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise." Ps 79:13

Monday, November 28, 2011

Entertainment for Minutes On End

I've been combing through the book Slow and Steady Get Me Ready to get ideas for toddler activities. It's a book of weekly preschool activities for children from birth to age 5. There are 260 activities total. Someone gave me the book when John was very young. I have not by any means followed the program week by week. I've done probably less than a dozen of the activities with John. For the last several weeks, though, I've been following the schedule more closely because he's becoming much more interested in simple preschool activities. I've been researching things to keep us busy and out of trouble!

Today, I was pleasantly surprised to find that some common household objects provided John with minutes of endless entertainment (bearing in mind that 15 minutes to an 18 month old is like an hour or more to the rest of us) and, I'd like to think, an opportunity to develop cognitive and motor skills:

Spice Containers

This activity isn't directly from Slow and Steady but since I've been looking through the book, some concepts from it were in my mind. Just marvel at all the things that these spice containers can teach us (or, at least, can teach you if you are an 18 month old):

  • The containers can demonstrate the concepts of big and little
  • The tops can demonstrate open and closed
  • You can practice fine motor skills by opening and closing the lids and also attempting to screw them on
  • You can match the correct lid to the correct container
  • You can drop small objects inside, also developing motor skills, while discussing what fits and what doesn't
I mean, really, is there even that much to do at Disney World!?

I started writing this post back on the 18th and since then, he's gone back to these several times to play. I love things like this that are 1) economical, 2) simple, and 3) hopefully developing skills and knowledge.

I feel like a year ago I would have been at a loss to come up with something to do with spice containers to entertain a toddler. And now I'm all, "what can't you do with spice containers?!" It takes a special kind of knowledge to see so many possibilities in a spice container. I don't inherently possess such knowledge but I'm getting better! The best person to be around to develop such an appreciation is John because he's not old and sophisticated enough yet to realize that spice containers aren't spectacular. Maybe he'll never get to that point. Instead I hope he keeps his sense of wonder and curiosity about the world!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

18 Months

Sweet John is 18 months today. (And it also happens to be my mom's 29th birthday! Happy Birthday mom!) I thought that development happened rapidly in the first year but it has continued as quickly this year. I'm constantly amazed at the pace at which he picks up new things. There are too many cute things to mention but here are a few that I can think of at the moment:

He answers "no" to almost every question we ask.

"Did you sleep well?"

"Are you having fun?"

This is charming because he shakes his head while smiling so sweetly and he doesn't understand the conversation. I imagine "no" might become more frustrating in the future when there's actual defiance behind it.

Handily, I've already taught him what we say to a crying baby. When asked "what do you say when a baby is crying?", he puts his pointer finger to his lips and replies "shhhhhh." This should be useful come spring.

He's added elephant and monkey to his animal sound repertoire. It's so cute!

He continues to add new words and signs to his vocabulary. I'm so glad that we did baby signs because, though he has started saying words now, he has a much broader vocabulary with the signs. They have been hugely helpful over the past 6 months.

I know there are a ton of things I am forgetting. I sometimes wish that I could videotape his whole life so that I'll remember every little precious thing. I guess that's not really practical but here are two videos that Peter took this weekend. One is of him hobbling in his cast. He just started walking on it this past weekend. The other shows him doing his elephant sound. Enjoy!

P.S. As you will see, the cast has not curtailed his ability to climb in the least!

Thursday, November 10, 2011



I've heard that two things happen earlier in your second pregnancy: feeling fetal movement and showing. And both are true for me! I've really enjoyed feeling the baby moving more this early. I don't even think I'd felt John move at this point yet. The fact that strangers have started to ask me when I'm due is also exciting, though about two months ahead of the time when people started to take note that I was pregnant with John. This isn't a bad thing, yet it has me wondering: if I'm two months bigger than I was with John at this point, am I going to end up looking and feeling 48 weeks pregnant by the time this is all over!? Rationally, I don't think things quite work that way. But I'm hoping all my maternity clothes hold out!


Since he got his cast, it's like John has started over in his motor skills development. Last week he could only scoot and roll around, then he started to crawl, now he's pulling up and starting to hobble. Overall he's handling things really well. He hasn't been in pain. The worst part is that he gets frustrated that he can't be as mobile as he'd like and we haven't been going outside much because I don't want him crawling around in the dirt and getting grit inside the cast. Generally he's a happy little camper.

We've been watching way too much tv, however, in lieu of not being able to do much outside. We'll have some habits to break when this month is up! (I have all of the songs on the Baby Signing Time dvd's memorized!)

We attempted a first real bath last Friday and it did not go well! Prior to that I'd just been wiping John down. Friday Peter and I wrapped his cast in plastic bags, ran water in the shower, and attempted to give him a good old-fashioned scrubbing. Also, his hair really needed a washing because it had been smeared with mashed potatoes at a recent meal. I think this was the least fun bath time of John's life. He was miserable because he wanted to play in the water but could not. The plastic bags fell off mid way through and at some point while wrangling a slippery baby, Peter actually thought he might've accidentally broken John's arm (he didn't!). Yet I suppose we can consider it success because it did not result in a trip to the orthopedist to get a wet cast replaced with a dry one.


I found a good toddler (and mom!) snack. We've been getting some pears from the farmer's market that are very good but hard, like apples. John will eat them but he's not great at it, not having his full complement of teeth and all. He kind of has to shave away at the slices. So, I've been baking the pears with honey and cinnamon on top. Baking them makes them soft enough for John to eat. They're delicious! Like dessert. In fact, if I can convince him that fruit like this is dessert, I will be very happy!

As far as actual desserts, I think I found my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. They're very simple but really good. And there are a lot of variations included in the recipe.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A Not -So-Subtle Announcement

I made a subtle announcement in this blog post. But only one person commented on it. (You got it, Susie!) So, here's something a little less subtle:

18 weeks pregnant with baby number two and showing a little earlier this time!

Pregnancy FAQ:

Due: April

How am I feeling: Much better now.

Will we find out the gender: No. Well, not until the birthday.

Do I want a boy or girl: Boy. Of course I'd be thrilled with a girl. But John has been such a joy that if he'd been a jellyfish, I'd want another jellyfish. And thank goodness he wasn't a jellyfish because can you imagine carrying around all of that saltwater aquarium equipment?! Peter says he'd be happy either way. We have this conversation all the time:

Me: What do you think it is?
Peter: I don't know, it could be either.
Me: I know but what do you think?!
Peter: sigh

I think it's another boy. And so far I'm 100% on gender predictions in my pregnancies!

The knowledge of this pregnancy was much more sobering than the first one. I was feeling quite discouraged for a while chasing John around while dead tired and sometimes queasy. I questioned how I was ever going to add another child to the mix without ending up in the loony bin- even if I just checked myself in for a nap! These days, the first trimester cloud has lifted, my energy is rebounding and I'm a lot more excited about things. Plus I've noticed that many of my friends have two children (or more) and none of them have had to check themselves into the loony bin. Not even for a nap. Don't get me wrong, I was always thankful and excited about the new baby. But I was doubting my ability to cope with it all. Now that I can make it through the day without either throwing up or having to take a nap, I have a much sunnier outlook!

Incidentally, I want to say that the term "morning sickness" could only have been coined by a man. Someone who had merely theoretical knowledge of such a thing. Mine was never just in the morning and it was worse at night.

We waited longer than I'd anticipated to tell people for various reasons. One was that we could never decide how we wanted to do it (we ended up putting him in his big brother t-shirt and seeing who noticed). After I got a stomach virus at the end of the first trimester, I wanted to go to my next doctor's appointment just to make sure he didn't have any concerns. After waiting all those weeks, we didn't let the baby out of the bag a moment too soon. When the news was out several people informed me that they had noticed that I was getting a gut. And they're very right. Like blowing up a balloon, things give more easily the second time around!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday

I was recently politely taken to task about my use of the word anyways on this blog. (And, please, do correct me! By all means!) The commenter said that since I'm into correct grammar she was surprised that I was using it. First, let me point out that though I do indeed appreciate correct grammar and often wish I had an excuse to do more sentence diagramming, I do not claim to be good at it! I'm certainly an amateur. I'm like those guys that drink beer, eat junk food and watch every single football game. They're not actually good at football. They just like it. All they can do is yell at the screen, admonishing the players to "focus!," but they have very few, if any, football skills.

Today was the first time I had ever heard that the word anyways might not be proper usage. But it appears to be true. I have not consulted a formal style manual (I actually don't have one and I am too cheap to buy one for the sake of writing occasional grammar posts on my blog, though it would be helpful!) but according to a brief online course through Google U, anyways is a colloquial corruption of anyway. It is considered nonstandard usage and therefore should be avoided. If you are really die hard or having a conversation with an English professor, perhaps you should avoid it altogether. If you're more lax with your grammar you can get by with avoiding it in writing, especially any professional writing. And if you're texting with someone from my sister's peer group, you must, of course, use the tech-savvy generation's spelling: n e way.

I learn something new everyday! And sometimes it's a little embarrassing that I'm just now learning these things. Like when I didn't learn until game 7 of the World Series that St. Louis wasn't in Minnesota! I don't know what I was thinking...

Monday, October 31, 2011

John Decided to be an Invalid for Halloween

Without consulting with me, John made a last minute costume change from lion:

to invalid:
Maybe he thought he'd get more sympathy and thus more candy. Which ended up being true. Though we had no plans to go trick-or-treating and I did not intend to give him any candy, he did get a lollipop at the pediatric orthopedist's office. So, if this was a clever ploy for sympathy and sweets, I suppose it worked!

Last night we were at a Fall Festival and I put John in the moon bounce which he luuuuuuuvs. However this time, the results were less than fun. He fell. He wasn't bounced upon by other kids, he just fell and started crying. I pulled him out but he wouldn't readily calm down. Not even when offered a banana which usually mollifies all of his problems. It took a good 40 minutes to soothe him. Meanwhile he was grasping at his right shin and was unable to bear weight on it.

At this point we were contemplating an ER visit. Thankfully we called our pediatricians' office and spoke to the doctor on call. He advised us that if we could get John comfortable enough to sleep, we should do that and make an office visit in the morning. Best advice ever. I'm so glad we didn't spend the night in the ER. Of course, if John hadn't calmed down we would have gone. But he was able to sleep most of the night. He did wake up a few times and I went in once around 3 am to give him more Ibuprofen. During which time he asked to eat and read a book. So, even though the pain probably woke him up, he wasn't suffering badly enough to dampen his interest in making farm animal sounds.

This morning he still couldn't bear weight on his right leg although he was feeling much better. He couldn't walk but he wasn't fussy. He was able to move his right leg without pain which he couldn't do the night before. Even though he couldn't bear weight, he seemed so happy that I considered waiting longer to go in to the pediatrician's office. I reasoned that maybe it would just continue to improve. But Peter thought we should go so we got an appointment for 9:10 am. I'm so glad we got an early one because we spent most of the day visiting doctors. It turns out that he has a spiral fracture in his right tibia and will be in a cast for the next four weeks. Poor baby! He was so good today through it all. He is the happiest patient you will ever see. He waves at everyone and smiles and asks people for snacks. He only ever fussed when someone was examining his leg.

I don't really know what to expect over the next four weeks. I don't know how mobile he will be. He can't walk now which is frustrating for him. I think he'll adapt but I don't really know how much we'll be able to do. This will be a huge change for such an active boy and for me- the mother of a very active toddler.

Here is what I've learned about Toddler's Fractures for anyone who might one day find themselves in a similar situation:

John's specific type of fracture is a common occurrence referred to as a Toddler's Fracture. As the name suggests, John's age group is prone to them. They can occur after seemingly benign falls, which John's was. I am a little surprised to be dealing with fractures before he's even two years old. But apparently it's not unusual and not an indication of anything more serious.

A fracture is not necessarily an emergency. Of course, when we made the choice not to go to the ER, we didn't necessarily know that there was a fracture. We knew there was the possibility of one. But if you can calm the child down and make him reasonably comfortable there's no reason to rush to the ER. I only say this because Peter and I were ready to go thinking that a fracture needs to be taken care of immediately. Some fractures are urgent but if the child can rest and be comfortable then you can probably wait until morning to be evaluated. If you can avoid an ER visit, that seems like the better choice! Spending the night in the ER is nearly dead last on the list of things I'd like to do.

That said, if a child cannot bear weight after a few hours, he will need to be seen and X-rays will need to be done. I was contemplating waiting longer before going to the pediatrician after he seemed to be doing better this morning. But according to our doctor if they can't bear weight within a few hours of an injury, you should make an appointment.

I'll keep you updated! Hopefully this will not be the first of many trips to the pediatric orthopedist. But with a rambunctious boy, is that wishful thinking?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Recipes and Photos

I always get so excited about Fall cooking (mainly baking). Last year I had a whole list of new things to try but I didn't make any of my old favorites. So, I thought that this year I'd try to make my favorites and cool it on trying new things. No such luck! I haven't gone crazy with new recipes but the itch is there and the lineup is in my mind. Anyways, here are two I've tried so far:

Pumpkin Cranberry muffins- These were delicious but sweet. Next time I plan to use whole wheat flour and cut down a bit on the sugar.

Pumpkin Cornmeal muffins- With these I did cut down on the sugar, which I won't do next time. They have a really nice flavor but they're a little bland! I might cut down on the sugar for John's muffins but not for mine!

I've been making mini muffins for John. They're easy on busy mornings!

Another Fall love of mine is pumpkin patches. John and I have been making the rounds from San Antonio to Louisiana (I did not go to SA or Louisiana just for the pumpkin patches, however. I am not so die hard. We were visiting family.) Last year taking pictures was so easy when John couldn't even sit up unassisted and had to be propped up by the pumpkins. This year is a different story. I have to take 1,000 pictures of that little rascal to get one where he's sitting still!

I'm going to try to photoshop my sister's arm out of this one. (Nothing against you, aunt Di di!)

Don't you just love that pumpkin orange color?! It's one of my favorites!

Not a pumpkin patch picture, but I'm throwing this one in for free!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday Even Though I Know It's Friday

On Tuesday night after my Bible study, I could be found lurking around an empty parking lot taking grainy photos with my phone. What could I have been doing? Only documenting the downfall of our society (at least grammatically speaking)! People, this is what the world is coming to. In the future, our children will have no idea what a plural possessive is and here is evidence:

This establishment purports to be an academy. Could the irony be any more palpable?

And there's this gem:
Due to the poor quality, you probably can't read the slogan of this "academy" posted on their van: Learning Begins Here. I hope it doesn't end there because I think some things will be lacking!

Am I mission something? I almost can't believe that it would get to the point of hanging a huge neon sign without someone proofreading.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

17 Months

John is 17 months today. It's hard for me to even think about what kind of things he's doing these days because just picturing him makes me want to take a nap. He's very busy! But he's so sweet and affectionate and smart. I'm grateful Peter puts in the long hours to support John's and my bon bon-eating lifestyle. I'm glad I can be home with him for these fleeting baby years that I'm sure I'll look back on wondering how they passed so quickly.

I think he's started saying a few words. I say "I think" because I don't think anyone else would recognize them as words. But I suppose we don't start out life with the elocution of Shakespearean actors. His vocabulary includes: No, night night, go, uh-oh, and Moe- the name of our neighbors' dog. Apparently Moe is really someone special for John because he says Moe and he doesn't even say Mama or Dada!

"Uh-oh" occasionally provides appropriate commentary to my blunders around the house. When I broke a plate, for example, he declared: "Uh-oh!" He also will sometimes give himself away when he's doing something he's not supposed to be doing by saying "no." I was cleaning this week and moved a lamp to the edge of the table so I could clean underneath it. I told him not to touch it, then I heard him saying "no, no, no." I looked over and he was doing exactly what I had told him not to do!

He's added more signs. He does: More, please, down, thank you, hot, eat, banana, apple, cereal, all done. He might do a few more that I can't recall at the moment.

He loves to read books, often bringing them to me and then plopping in my lap. He has his favorites that we read ad infinitum. And he has some that he just won't sit through. He loves to throw balls and to climb. He also loves firetrucks and construction vehicles; he points them out when we're driving.

He has now started correctly identifying the parts of his face. He also knows toes and belly button- belly button being his favorite body part to point out.

When we're standing in front of a mirror and I say "where's a handsome boy?" he'll point to himself! I taught him that. Perhaps this is breeding an inflated ego? But I'm only teaching him the truth! Here are some pictures. Sorry for the poor quality. They were all taken with my phone:

Now this is what I'm talking about! He loves vacuum cleaners and brooms. Here he is with a toy vacuum I bought him. But, soon, very soon, I'm going to transition him to real cleaning tools and then: goodbye housework! Hello free maid service!

Chillaxing in the cart at Target

Banana Monster
He loves bananas. When he sees them at the grocery store, I occasionally get him one if he's being particularly adamant.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

No Sick Days For Moms

I've been meaning to get on here and explain my recent, unplanned, blogging hiatus. I wanted to post, I had ideas! I just couldn't make it happen. We've had a rough month or so. Actually, things didn't really get rough until this Monday.

Peter has been logging some long hours. Last month he would usually come home for dinner but then he'd have a few more hours of work to do on the computer. Thus, during my normal uninterrupted computer times, the computer has been occupied for the past month.

Last week John got sick. A stomach bug. The way everything went down, including the moment he unleashed his projectile vomit, was eerily similar to the way it happened at his first birthday. For those who aren't familiar with the first birthday story: he vomited all over me just as we were sitting down to eat at his party (thankfully this time I escaped the regurgitated deluge). Then everyone staying at my mother's house ended up being violently ill; 6 of us all jockeying for position over the toilet for a memorable 12 hours.

So, I was immediately scared that the same horrible sickness was going to strike down Peter and I and everyone at Black Eyed Pea that night (where John threw up). As the week went on, I thought we'd escaped it. We hunkered down for a few days. John recovered and the weekend was mostly great. Except Sunday night I didn't feel so well.

Monday, I was vomiting all day. This, in itself, while not fun, is not highly unusual and might not have been so upsetting to me except for the fact that this week Peter's work schedule has been outrageous. He took Monday morning off. But he went in for the afternoon and the whole team had to stay until 9 pm to finish seeing the teems of patients at the clinic. This left me with John Monday afternoon which was probably a mistake because that wore me out. Regardless, we discovered that Peter cannot easily miss work. Tuesday a saint from my church took John from 7:30 am to 2 pm. Literally, I believe this woman is the reason I was able to get out of bed today. So I slept yesterday morning and had John yesterday afternoon again. I felt better yesterday, I wasn't nauseous but I was so tired. Walking from my bed to the bathroom made me feel like I needed a nap.

Overall things went pretty well, though. I even felt well enough to go out and get some chicken noodle soup for dinner. Which I ate and kept down for a while. But in the evening things fell apart. Peter didn't get home again until after nine. I wasn't sure that my energy level would ever rebound enough to take care of my highly energetic toddler. I was making phone calls to loved ones in tears mostly trying to enlist help for this weekend when Peter will be on call. I finally erupted into sobs which led to me throwing up all my chicken noodle soup!

I felt so desperate and discouraged mostly because it seemed like Peter can never take off work. Which isn't totally true. He technically can but it puts a huge burden on his colleagues. As I mentioned above, they all had to stay until late in the evening when he took off Monday morning. In my mind I felt the weight of the next three years of residency, and possibly beyond, thinking "I can't get sick for the next three years! Nothing can go wrong for three years!" I was just at the end of my rope. Clearly there were some sickness and fatigue induced histrionics involved. But all I could see last night was me having to care for John by myself everyday for the next three years having my big pink vomit bowl at the ready for heaving into (I have indeed been carrying around such a bowl. It works well for me because I'm not great at making it to the toilet or trash can.).

Today was so much better! I can't even explain how much better. Even though I'm not feeling 100%, the fog of tiredness and illness has lifted. It's amazing what that can do for one's outlook! Compared to last night it's as if I came out of a coma. The difference is night and day. I now realize it was a little dramatic of me to assume I would never have any energy again. But in my exhausted, nauseated stupor, I couldn't imagine how I would ever regain it. Today, I could actually walk to the bathroom without feeling like I needed to lay down. I had the energy to play with John. Things are back in a more normal perspective.

Anyways, God has been very gracious to us with our health, for which I am very thankful. It must be obvious that I don't usually get sick when one little stomach bug sends me into a tailspin of desperate tears. I'm thankful for our health and for the church. Another family from church was willing to take John this afternoon if I needed it. I didn't have to take them up on it but it's a huge blessing to have people to turn to in times of need. And I'm also thankful for big pink bowls. Seriously, usually when I get sick I have to clean up my own vomit from the floor, or wherever I throw up when I don't make it to the bathroom. My vomit bowl solved the problem!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Now He's All Business

We gave John his first, long overdue, haircut last night. He had grown quite a mullet which was garnering frequent comments. So, we finally cut his hair last night and I surprised myself by becoming nostalgic and saying things like:

"John look at all your beautiful hair! We're cutting off all of John's beautiful hair!"

Now, post hair cut, he looks so old to me! Old meaning like a little boy and less like a baby. But he does look much more clean cut. I didn't quite realize the extent of the mullet until we had cut it off.

Party in the back

Post haircut

After a cut and style by Peter

Peter may have missed his calling as a barber. He does his own haircuts and they always look smashing. As does John's, as you can see.

This has nothing to do with mullets, but we babysat the other night for a friend's baby who is a week younger than John. Aren't they cute?

We had fun, but I'm definitely glad that I don't have twins. My mother in law had her oldest child and then a set of twins 17 months apart. She had 3 under 2! Now that I have one 16 month old who runs me ragged daily, I really think anyone who can make it through 3 under 2 should be President or get a Nobel prize or something, right?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Trouble With Mom Hearing

Over Labor Day Weekend we visited our families in San Antonio. One of my goals was to sleep until I woke up naturally at least one day while Peter got up with John. This posed some challenges because Peter could sleep through a gun fight and will never hear John crying when he wakes up. I, on the other hand, will be aroused by the sound of air particles circulating through space.

I hear everything! I hear those O2 particles colliding! I may be exaggerating a little bit. But I've heard a few people talk about "mom hearing": the idea that after they've had kids they're attune to every little bump in the night (or day). I don't know if this phenomenon actually has to do with becoming a mother. It's possible that there just weren't nearly so many things to hear in the middle of the night before I had a baby. But I do feel like my sleep has gotten much lighter as I've grown older.

Anyways, our challenge in San Antonio wasn't resolved very successfully. One night I put ear plugs in hoping that when John cried loud enough in the morning Peter, or someone else in the house, would hear it and get up with him. This worked! Peter did hear John and I didn't! But then Peter said "John's awake," which I did hear since Peter was right next to me. Then after that, even with ear plugs in, I was awake and I could hear John squawking downstairs, which he customarily does when his food is not forthcoming at a pace he approves of. I could hear this despite the fact that John was at the other end of the house and I had earplugs in.

Has anyone else experienced the "mom hearing"? I suppose acute senses are something to be grateful for. Maybe one day it will save us from a disaster like a mudslide. I think I could probably hear mud creeping down a hill. I only wish that I had a portable soundproof booth for those moments when I really don't need to hear anything.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poop All Day

John poops all day long. 3,4,5, times. Often it's a very small amount. But when he has these episodes, I'm washing his bottom and giving him "dry time" all day long in an effort to keep the diaper rash at bay. It's more of a nuisance than anything. But, if I could do something to avoid having to change that many dirty diapers, I'd say "bring it on!"

I mentioned this to our pediatrician who did not seem concerned. He asked about John's diet and seemed to think things were okay there. So, at the end of last week a friend of mine mentioned that her daughter was going all day long and that they'd taken her off dairy and that she seemed to improve. So, I tried it with John. This is only day three but there has been a marked decrease in poop. I'm giving him lactaid milk and I've cut out other dairy. But he has better days and worse days regarding BM's so it's too early to tell if no dairy is the solution.

I don't think he has a true lactose intolerance. He's never acted like his stomach is upset, or thrown up. It's just the poop. I'm hoping that this is a phase that he will grow out of. I understand that many children have trouble with whole milk and dairy initially but eventually become able to digest it. But that's my question: if you have kids, or have spent a lot of time with kids, is pooping all day a normal phase for some kids? Does it stop? Has anyone had my experience with cutting out dairy?

We're not thinking about potty training just yet but my mother-in-low pointed out that it would be very difficult to do with John's frequency. I agree! I'm hoping things slow down within the next 9 months to a year- intestines wise, that is!

I'll tell you what, I'm excited about having more kids. I've loved every phase John has been through from newborn sugar lump to never-stops-moving toddler. But I do look forward to the day, if it ever comes again, when the only behind I have to wipe is my own!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Mensa, here we come

John is technically speech delayed, I was informed at his 15 month appointment. Technically, but not really. Sort of but not exactly. He doesn't say any words (not even Mama, Dada). But he does signs which my pediatrician said some people count as words. Apparently some research has been done that suggests that the same parts of the brain are active when speaking as when signing.

Despite this, Peter and I (who are not biased) have decided that John is headed straight for Mensa. If fact, I'm surprised that they haven't called requesting his membership.

He can now do three animal sounds. He does his lion (which I posted a video of a few weeks ago), and now he can do snake and owl.

He also can correctly identify his head and belly. (Any other body part you ask him about, he will just point to his mouth.)

He's also started doing two more signs: "hot", and "thank you."

We are so impressed with our boy and truly believe he is a genius! Strangely enough, I briefly looked at the Mensa website and they didn't list animal sounds or correctly identifying body parts as part of their requirements. There must be some mistake.

Regarding the speech delay, I'm feeling pretty laid back about it. I know he's understanding things. I know of plenty of kids who didn't speak until closer to two who are now doing just fine for themselves (Peter being one example). The longer I'm a parent (which, admittedly hasn't been very long) the more skeptical I am of those milestone charts. They serve their purpose, I guess, but there's such a huge variety of normal that I think they can also plant little seeds of paranoia.

In my super-laid-back parenting attitude, I don't want to overlook an actual problem. So the plan is to wait until 18 months and then get an Early Childhood Intervention referral if we need it. Which, I will happily do. It's free and it can't hurt. And maybe it would help. I'm serious about getting him into Mensa.

Here, I should post a picture of John. But I've been remiss at taking photos lately because he never sits still!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

International Literacy Day: August Books

So, apparently today is International Literacy Day. In honor, I'm going to review my August books. Oddly enough, I meant to post about August books a few days ago on National Read A Book Day. I promise I don't make a habit of memorizing all of these National/International Days on the calendar, somehow I just happen to notice them! Anyways, how apropos to discuss books today! Though, literacy is en vogue everyday, no? Here goes:

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

This was okay, not great. I didn't really get into it. It's a mystery detective series set between WWI and WWII, Maisie Dobbs is the detective. I just didn't find the ending very believable or the mystery super absorbing.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua- Audiobook

This was a book club book and, sadly, I did not get to attend the meeting. I was disappointed because this book certainly sparks discussion. It's a memoir about the superiority of Chinese parenting. The writer is a little over-the-top and, at times, I found her to be downright cruel in her parenting. But I loved this book because she had some very valid criticisms of Western Parenting, I thought. Very interesting perspective!

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

I read this in college and remembered really liking it. I read it again last month for my church's book club. I still really liked it, though it was more brain-muddling than I remembered. There was a lot of profound stuff that I'm still mulling over. It's a short read but not necessarily easy or quick!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday

This might be my last WWW post. It's been fun. But I'm running out of ideas. And I feel like, with my limited time to write, I'm only writing about punctuation or grammar lately.

We'll see. Even with my limited knowledge, I continue to be devoted to correct punctuation and grammar (though, I'm sure I'm often ignorant of correct usage). Even in text messages! But my initial mission of wanting to rid the world of grammar abusers might have been overly ambitious. (That wasn't really my mission, I guess, but it does make me so sad to read the horrendous English that people post on facebook these days.)

Also, I have to return Eats, Shoots and Leaves back to the library. Surprisingly enough, I've been able to renew it a few times. No one else had put a hold on it! Imagine that! You really should read it.

Anyways, I definitely wanted to cover the colon which Lynn Truss illuminated beautifully for me:

"Expectation is what these stops (punctuation marks) are about; expectation and elastic energy. Like internal springs, they propel you forward in a sentence towards more information, and the essential difference between them is that while the semicolon lightly propels you in any direction related to the foregoing, the colon nudges you along lines already subtly laid down." pg 100

" A colon is nearly always preceded by a complete sentence, and in its simplest usage it rather theatrically announces what is to come. Like a well-trained magician's assistant, it pauses slightly to give you time to get a bit worried, and then efficiently whisks away the cloth and reveals the trick complete." pg 103

As an example she gives the following sentence punctuated in three ways:

"Tom locked himself in the shed. England lost to Argentina."

Above, these may or may not be related. Just two facts in the past tense.

"Tom locked himself in the shed; England lost to Argentina."

The semicolon conveys that these sentences are related, yet not necessarily in a causal fashion. We can't be sure that Tom locked himself in the shed because England lost to Argentina. These two things could simply be on a list of things "that really got on the nerves of someone else. 'It was a terrible day, Mum: Tom locked himself in the shed; England lost to Argentina; the rabbit electrocuted himself by biting into the power cable of the washing machine.'" pg 112

"Tom locked himself in the shed: England lost to Argentina"

The colon makes it crystal clear. Tom locked himself in the shed because England lost to Argentina.

I thought this was a fabulous example of punctuation usage and also how various marks can influence the interpretation of a sentence. Hopefully you will find it equally helpful!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I recently tried a new recipe: Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos
This was delicious. The only thing is that it should probably be accompanied by some sides to make it more filling. I just made the tacos and I thought we'd have leftovers but we ate them all. Peter ate 5. John also gobbled this up.

I also finally made the Blueberry Cheesecake that I'd been wanting to make since we picked blueberries in June. It was delicious. Though I don't quite know if it will go on my list of favorite cheesecakes to make. It didn't knock my socks off.

Finally, I would like to share a quote with you that was spoken by my dear husband this past weekend:

"I just can't get enough of these British country living shows!"

This he uttered completely of his own accord. I suppose I should preface by saying that we started watching a series on Netflix called Downton Abbey. It is part of the PBS Masterpiece Classic series. We became absorbed. It is set, as you might have guessed, at an English country estate on the eve of WWI. It is a delicious drama about the ruling class, their servants and all of the social mores that that simultaneously keep them divided and make them necessary to each other.

It was so good and well done! The last episode left us unusually cliff-hanging. So, we searched and found that there's a series two coming in the fall.

All that to say, this is one of the reasons that I love Peter! He's also partial to Jane Austen (more British country living stories). Not to detract from his manhood, I should say that he's also a fan of the Bourne trilogy. (But really, is it not a truth universally acknowledged that a man (single or otherwise) in possession of a good intellect must be partial to Jane Austen?)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday: The Semicolon Revisited

If you never properly grasped the correct usage of the semicolon or colon in school it might have been because your English teacher was really there to coach volleyball. But it might also be because many, many people debate correct usages. Many famous and talented authors use, even idolize, those marks. Others, equally famous and talented, think that their use will precipitate the end of the world. So, if you never gained proper command of them, it may just be because no one else ever has either. Or, rather, the usage regarding such punctuation is extravagantly subjective. It seems one of the only consistencies in the English language is that someone is always arguing over one point or another.

That said, I thought that Lynn Truss gave such a clarifying explanation of these two marks in Eats, Shoots & Leaves that I'd like to write about them here.

I've already written that you should use a semicolon when connecting a list separated by commas and you may use it to connect two related, complete clauses. Those are the technical rules.

A more nuanced idea explained Truss is that the semicolon should convey expectation:

"The semicolon tells you that there is still some question about the preceding full sentence; something needs to be added... The period tells you that that is that; if you didn't get all the meaning you wanted or expected, anyway you got all the writer intended to parcel out and now you have to move along. But with the semicolon there you get a pleasant feeling of expectancy; there is more to come; read on; it will get clearer. " pg 100

Another quote:

"The semicolon has been rightly called 'a compliment from the writer to the reader'. And a mighty compliment it is, too. The sub-text of a semicolon is, 'Now this is a hint. The elements of this sentence, although grammatically distinct, are actually elements of a single notion. I can make it plainer for you- but hey! You're a reader! I don't need to draw you a map!' By the same token, however, an over-reliance on semicolons- to give an air of authorial intention to half-formed ideas thrown together on the page- is rather more of a compliment than some of us care to receive." pg 108

I've really found my study of the semicolon very fascinating. I have learned that the use of the semicolon is really an art form and that punctuation can be nearly as important as word choice and syntax. I'm happy to have learned this. Yet, I know my limits. Punctuation may be an art form and, unfortunately, most of us aren't going to be Picasso. Actually, I don't even aspire to be that guy painting trees on PBS. But one day I would like to write a novel. It's on my "bucket list," you could say. I figure that at least knowing how to use a semicolon is a small step in the right direction. And if the novel doesn't work out, I'll at least be able to drive my children to become math majors with my ruthless editing of their papers.

Next week, the colon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

John the Lion

Peter recently got a new camera with video capabilities! Here's a short video of some of John's tricks.

On Sunday he learned to roar. I'm trying to teach him that roaring is what a lion says.

A friend was over Sunday and I was explaining to her how John learned to roar.

"Peter was changing John's diaper and..."

"... growling at John?" She questioned.

"...yes. I suppose that is what happened." I said.

For some reason it sounded awfully strange as I started to explain it but, there you have it. Peter was roaring while changing John's diaper and John imitated it. Is that unorthodox diaper- changing behavior?

You can also see John answering other simple questions and doing the signs for down and more.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday

This post is the story of how I lost all faith in the public school system. Okay, that's a little overly dramatic. I haven't lost all faith in the public school system. Just most of it. And it wasn't all lost because of this episode either. But it is true that I have had this chip on my shoulder for the last 10 years.

Enormity. Do you know what it means? If you don't, you're in good company that includes ivy league educated presidents and English teachers alike. Aparantly no one knows what it means except a few devoted "wordies" around the web that like to make lists of the most commonly misused words in the English language and people like me who have had the meaning etched into my memory because of a bad experience in high school. So that makes 10 of us.

When I was writing papers in high school, much like I do today, I often scoured the thesaurus to see if I could find more sophisticated words to use beyond my everyday vocabulary which, these days, consists of mostly the phrase: "John, no!" (You can see how writing would quickly become limited with only those words at my disposal!)

So, I knew that when I used the word enormity in a paper in 10th grade that I was describing some monstrous evil. Yes, it means monstrous evil. I can see why people might think that it means enormous. The two words share some of the same letters. And, according to com, one of its meanings is enormous. So, I can see where people might be confused.

This is another raging debate in the word world. Some only acknowledge the definition "monstrous evil" (and those in that camp are quite vehement). Some acknowledge both meanings. Most neither know nor care. But if you're like my high school English teacher you think that it only means huge and you shame young high school students who may have a bigger vocabulary than you.

So, that's what happened I was shamed in front of the entire class for using a word correctly! It was a very quiet day in class where everyone was writing. The details are fuzzy now so many years later. But I found myself at her podium flabbergasted that she was so loudly critiquing my paper and word choices in front of my peers who, of course, were all listening intently! Could she not have used an inside voice?

But really, the critique is not what bothers me so much. What really gets my goat is that she thought that enormity means huge. Well, it might mean that, though, I contend, and I am not alone, that that is not its primary meaning. But some words in the English language have more than one meaning! And thank goodness for that! So, when I said that John had tears running down his face, you don't jump to the conclusion that he's been mauled by a bear and will require extensive reconstructive surgery! Because tears and tears (rips) are different! Even though they're the same! My point is, should she not have known that words can have more than one meaning?! And, I daresay, shouldn't she have known the definition of enormity, being an English teacher?! And, I'll acknowledge, no one can know what every word means, so maybe if she couldn't know the definition, shouldn't she have at least been less enthusiastic in her criticism when I was maintaining that I knew what it meant?! Do they just let anyone off the street teach high school English?

And that's why I'll never forget the definition of that word. It's a pity that there really aren't very many opportunities to use it in everyday conversation. I suppose I could say: "John, it's an enormity to disobey your mama!"

Monday, August 15, 2011

National Breastfeeding Month

This time last year I wrote a post during National Breastfeeding Month; John was on his way to becoming the biggest 4 month old in the world courtesy of mama's milk (since that's all he was eating at the time.)!

These days he's no longer the largest baby in the world. And while I did enjoy having a huge chunk of a baby, I suppose it's a good thing for him to level off the growth charts. I'm sure it's awfully hard to buy pants when you're the largest boy in the world.

Anyways, I was reminded about National Breastfeeding Month again yesterday when I came across this article.

The article discusses that many hospitals don't give women practical support for nursing. I worked at a hospital whose policies were downright antagonistic to breastfeeding, I thought. The babies had to be taken to the nursery within an hour of birth. It was very difficult to do all of the post-birth things, let the mother and father and family hold the baby, take pictures etc, etc, etc and nurse the baby all in one hour. The babies remained in the nursery for at least 4 hours. It is totally unnecessary for healthy babies to be away from their mothers for that long. I will never work at a place like that again if I can help it.

Anyways, this got me thinking about what I would tell a new mom who planned to breastfeed. So, I'm sending this unsolicited advice over the interwebs for anyone who might be interested:

1) Educate yourself

Don't count on your OB/pediatrician/nurses/lactation consultants to have the information that you need. OB's and pediatricians are not necessarily experts on lactation. As for nurses, frankly, when I was a nurse working in labor and delivery, most of the girls I worked with, myself included, had never nursed a baby. When patients asked for my help, I could only regurgitate what I had read. Lactation consultants are a great resource but may not always be available. When I was in the hospital with John I was eager to speak to one. She came by when I was in the shower and never returned. Hopefully the medical professionals who are involved with the labor, delivery and care of the baby will be helpful to nursing mothers, but that doesn't mean you should go in unprepared. Educating yourself also means finding out what kind of policies the hospital has in place for you and the baby after birth. For example, contrary to the hospital where I worked, the hospital where I delivered John was very friendly to nursing mothers. The babies did not ever have to be away from their mothers after birth. John did have to go to the nursery because his glucose was low. But parents could go into the nursery. Peter and I gave him his first bath there. And after his blood sugar rose to normal, he returned and stayed with me the whole time, and I nursed for what seemed like 48 hours straight (It was all kind of a blur).

2) Know your community resources

When you leave the hospital, know where you can turn when you encounter challenges. In my opinion, the greatest resources are other nursing mothers. La Leche League has consultans that you can call. I did call one of them once. They also have meetings where you can meet other moms. I believe you can also make appointments with lactation consultants at the hospital where you delivered, depending on the hospital's policy, I guess. This was true where I delivered John.

3) Give it time

Even though nursing was pretty easy for me, there was an adjustment phase. It definitely got easier as he became more alert and his feedings spaced out. But this took about 1 month to 6 weeks.

There is a way in which breastfeeding is very natural, as in that is the way it is done in nature. Yet, it's actually a learned behavior for both mom and baby, and for many it does not come "naturally." For me, breastfeeding actually did come very easily. But even I had my challenges.

One thing I often heard was that breastfeeding should not hurt. Well, okay. In my experience it wasn't excruciating but it wasn't comfortable either. The first month was a big adjustment. That's part of the reason I sought out a lactation consultant while I was in the hospital after having John. Thankfully though, I had read so many books that I was confident that he was latching on well so we kept going and things eventually improved. These helped with the soreness.

Later on, he had some reflux. He would cry and arch his back and wouldn't nurse. My pediatrician was able to help with this issue.

And finally at around 2.5 or 3 months, John started to have more input into his feedings. At first I timed him 30 minutes (15 on each side) so that I made sure he had long enough to get adequate milk, including hind milk. Around 3 months, he wouldn't nurse that long and he also wouldn't nurse as frequently as I had been initiating feedings. This wasn't a problem, per se, but it was an adjustment and I didn't really know how to take it at first. I wanted to make sure that he was getting enough but I couldn't force him to eat. This was when I called a la leche league person.

All that to say, even when it's easy, you don't always know what's going on! But being prepared and knowing who you can go to for help certainly makes a difference. After nursing for 15 months (I just weaned him about a week ago), I can say I had an incredibly positive experience! There is nothing sweeter than holding a soft baby so close. And once they start moving, feeding time might be the only cuddle time you get!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fat Lip

John with a fat lip

John is 15 months today. I think it was a good day for him. Though there was an episode in the middle when he fell flat on his face while running at top speed (top speed for him) and busted his bottom lip, which you can see in the picture above.

Speaking of running at top speeds, the boy never stops. He never sits down. He is so very busy! It is exhausting just watching him! But this is a very fun age (as usual, I always say that.) He continues to improve his motor skills: he runs, climbs, stomps his feet, claps his hands, spins around, throws a ball. He loves to put things in other things and then take them out.

Still no verbal words but he's signs "more," "down," and "please." I'm not concerned about the lack of words because I know he understands a lot. When asked "how old are you?" he holds up his pointer finger. When asked "where is your head?" or "did you bump your head (which he often does)?" he pats his head. He can follow commands like "sit down," "go get a book," "put such and such into such and such."

Responding to "how old are you?"

Responding to "Where's your head?" in quite a dramatic fashion

Though he is lengthening out and getting skinny, he still loves to eat. Fruit is his favorite: peaches, melon, berries, bananas. He loves fruit. He will eat veggies with some coaxing. He also likes eggs and cheese. But he'll eat just about anything.

He still takes two naps, one at 10 am and one at 3 pm (I love this). He goes to bed at 8 pm. He now has a "lovie," pictured above. He's had that little thing in his crib since he was born along with a few other small toys. But he's recently shown a preference for that particular one. He carries it around while sucking his thumb.

He also loves to stand on that footstool that you can see above. Today Peter dubbed it the "death stool" because it frequently topples over. He has yet to hurt himself (and I really don't think he will hurt himself, it's like a foot off the ground...). I just asked Peter if we should admit on this blog that we let our son climb onto and topple off of a "death stool." He replied that his parents let their children do it. This stool used to be at his grandparents' house. When they would visit, all the kids would climb on and fall off. So the death stool is an established Ness Family Tradition and we must respect tradition! Besides they all turned out okay (most of them).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday: Punctuation Never Looked So Cute

I just got back today from San Antonio. I originally went for my 10 year (!) high school reunion last weekend, but ended up staying for longer than I had originally planned. I was keeping my mom company while my jet-setting sister flew off to soak up some sun in Miami. I am worn out! I don't know why. It's not like I was super busy or anything, but travel always seems exhausting. I hope to write about my reunion soon. I'm so glad I went. But for now I'll leave you with this:

This is the dress I almost bought to wear to the reunion. It is a dress from a website called Modcloth and guess what it's called? Declarative Imperative! It's basically a dress of periods, people! Or, as they say in England, full stops. How fun is that?! I bet you didn't know that punctuation was so fashionable. Here's the description of the dress online:

"Although all punctuation marks certainly fill irreplaceable roles in structure, the most hard-working of all must be the full stop. Parsing out paragraphs into digestible chunks of information or adding. extra. emphasis. for effect, these simple dots tirelessly devote themselves to enhancing our understanding. In their honor, you've decided to festoon yourself in a flock of full stops fancifully frolicking on this fetching frock. Although some may favor the flashiness of exclamations and others may prefer the ambiguity of the interrogative, you prefer elegant simplicity. You'll be making just the right statement in this declaratory dress. Period."

Though this might possibly be the perfect dress for me, in the end I didn't buy anything new because I am cheap. Actually, I wore a skirt that I bought in high school. I think that skirt is about 12 years old. Gotta love vintage!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Word Wise Wednesday: Semicolon. Let's be honest; you don't know how to use one.

The idea for this little grammarrific series that I'm trying to do came to me one day when I was consulting They had an article discussing the "maddening and mysterious" semicolon.

Truly, it is maddening and mysterious. Some think it is superfluous in our punctuation lexicon. Others think that its use, when mastered, elevates writing to new heights. I suppose I am more apt to agree with the latter. However, I'm not one of those people who can use the semicolon masterfully. Perhaps one day.

There was one semester in college in which I thought that I thoroughly understood the semicolon. Consequently, I eschewed all other forms of punctuation and composed papers using the semicolon almost exclusively. Needless to say, I unwittingly proved to several proof readers that I understood it not at all.

So, when venturing into the nebulous universe of semicolon usage, I think a good guideline is this: You don't have to use it. Unlike the comma or period, it is never necessary. So don't use it unless you're certain that it's correct. You might even want to refrain unless you can be sure that it adds something to your writing.

Now, for those of us that yearn to unlock the mystery of the semicolon and harness its powers for the betterment of mankind through skillful punctuation, let's start easy:

I think the most simple and easy-to-remember way to use a semicolon is when listing items that are separated by comas. This is perhaps the only case where you must use it. But it's very easy to use in this situation.

For example: "I've traveled to Seattle, Washington; Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah."

Or, for a more complex sentence:

"My favorite people include Samuel Slaughterjaws, a famous unicorn hunter; my uncle Wilford, a world champion at mayonnaise eating contests; and Nikola Tesla, the most awesome dude ever to fire a lightening bolt at an angry peasant." (Taken from The

Easy enough, right? This usage is also known as the "super-comma." See? Punctuation is exciting!

The only other hard and fast rule that I have gleaned regarding the semicolon is this: it is used to connect two complete sentences without a conjunction.

Example: My aunt also had hairy knuckles; she loved to wash and comb them. (The

So, why would you use a semicolon between two complete clauses when you could just as easily use a period? This is where the semicolon becomes more complicated and more dependent on the writer's command of it. Basically, the semicolon is used to convey a fluidity, a connectedness between sentences, that the period does not convey. So you must determine in the flow of your writing where you want a complete pause (period) and where you want a moderate pause (semicolon). If you want a slight or no pause, a comma may be in order.

To recap:

Always use a semicolon when separating items in a list separated by commas. It may also be used when connecting two independent clauses where you wish to emphasize the connection between sentences rather than a complete stop. Regarding the latter usage, when in doubt, use another form of punctuation! (This is also my philosophy of parallel parking.)

I'm not yet done with the semicolon; it's like an enigma wrapped in mystery. But for now, if you want more, here is an article that's probably more entertaining and easier to understand than what you just read through! You're welcome!

Monday, August 01, 2011

July Books

I read, or rather, listened to a lot of books in June and July. I signed up for the Houston public library reading club. They were doing drawings for the Nook Color every week. Unhappily, the drawings end tomorrow and I don't think I've won one. Oh well, I read a lot of good books nonetheless!

The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson- Audio Book

This was for a book club. Stieg Larsson is a Swedish writer who tackles themes of right-wing extremism and violence against women in his writing. He wrote a series of crime novels called the Millennium Trilogy, the first of which is The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. From what I gather, this is a very popular series with a Swedish movie already made and an American movie in the works. I found this to be just okay. I can appreciate that he takes up the banner against violence towards women. But I didn't like a lot of the violence in the book (I wouldn't call it gratuitous but, unlike the Hunger Games which I review below, it is graphic), I didn't really care for any of the characters and I found the crime mystery to be only so-so. So, I don't plan to read any others in the series.

Catching Fire and Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins- Audio Books

These were also for a book club. These were parts two and three in the Hunger Games trilogy. I would totally recommend this series for those that are up for the violent premise. Unlike the book I mentioned above, I didn't find the violence terribly graphic. For some reason it didn't get to me nearly as much as The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. Though it was brutal at times, I found it to be a worthwhile and insightful examination of violence and human nature. The first book, The Hunger Games, draws you in with its exciting story. The final two go progressively deeper into the the characters, their relationships and their society while still being gripping tales.

The Laws of Kindness by Mary Beeke

This was a book examining kindness from a Christian perspective. Overall, I wasn't impressed. I didn't find it especially well-written or organized. I don't mean to pan the book. There were some great things in it, but I think there are better books out there.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss

Loved this! It is a witty, even laugh-out-loud hilarious, book about punctuation and why it's important. Of course I would recommend this.

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell- Audio Book

This was not what I thought it was when I requested it from the library. I thought it was about Roger Williams who was a devout Puritan Separatist and also an ardent defender of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. He founded Providence Plantation, which is modern-day Rhode Island. Roger Williams was in the book, but it wasn't so much about him. It was a rather scathing portrait of puritans and the author's premise that some of their ideals formed the foundation of "American Exceptionalism," an attitude that has led to the oppression of Native Americans and a host of other peoples and nations throughout our history. As a historical examination, I thought it was worthwhile. Especially since most of us are taught the public-school fairy tale about Pilgrims and Indians and Thanksgiving. As an examination of the Puritans' religion, I wouldn't recommend it. The author, a self-described atheist has an undeniable bias. Of course, as a Christian, I have my own bias. I don't think we can ever totally discard our biases. But I think she has some misunderstandings about Christianity and uses some examples of christian behavior and thought that really aren't Christian at all.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Pancakes And Some Cute John Pictures

For once I'm posting my Sunday Pancakes on Sunday!

Here's what we tried today. They were good! Hazelnut has a distinct flavor that you can really taste. However, as I'm typing this with Peter reading over my shoulder he said "I really didn't even notice the flavor."


It was there, trust me.

Part of the reason I'm trying new things so much is because I feel like one day, hopefully after a few more kids are added in, it may be a huge luxury to try a new recipe. I'll have to fall back on the ones I've become quick at throwing together over the years. I love trying new things and we're enjoying experimenting with pancakes. This is also why I read so many books. I've always loved to read but I've been more ambitious lately because I see a day in my future where the only book I read might be The Very Hungry Caterpillar over and over again...

I wish I had captured this seconds before. He was fully in the cabinet, crouched, looking out at me smiling.

Love this boy! He's a delicious dish!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dog Sitting

We recently dog sat (yikes, is that the correct way to say that? Because that doesn't invoke pleasant images.) for some dear friends of ours.

John likes Taffy's beds almost as much as he likes Taffy.

I have to say, I am so happy that I don't have any pets! And I'm sad about that. A little. Peter and I couldn't have pets for the first four years that we were married because we lived in student housing. I always had cats growing up and pined for the day when I could have my very own cat. Then we got two cats; they were very sweet cats. They did shed everywhere and occasionally peed on a pile of towels. But I could deal with that. Then John was born and they started peeing all over the furniture. That I couldn't deal with. So now they live a content, albeit less luxurious, life in my mother's back yard.

I mostly thought of this as a fluke. Eventually I saw us having more cats and possibly a dog. I used to feel sorry for people who didn't want pets, supposing them to lead cold, unhappy little lives. Now, I am one of those people. Yet rather than leading a cold, unhappy life, I see that those non-pet people were probably just busy or, busy or not, they didn't want to pick up dog poop in a bag three times a day or spend their lives in the fruitless battle against pet fur.

Taffy, the dog we kept, is a really good and sweet dog. She's obedient and she's very good with John. But she still needs the attention that living beings require: food, potty breaks, affection. And I found myself begrudging her those things because my time and attention are pulled so many other places over the course of the day! We were happy to keep her for a while. John loved it. But I fear I'm one of those non-pet people now. The kind that prefers clean furniture over a purring cat. The kind that is too concerned about germs to appreciate a dog's kiss. The kind that is too practical to be drawn in by the mind-blowing cuteness of a tiny kitten. This is a little sad to me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not shedding any tears. One day maybe we'll be a pet family again when we don't have kids in diapers. If not, we can always visit Taffy. In the meantime, I'm happy that I don't have two creatures demanding food and potty breaks first thing in the morning!