Dec 27, 2010

the Christmas post (complete with pictures, videos, and yes, even words)

my sweet girl
What a whirlwind Christmas this was!  As much as I truly enjoyed it all, I am glad to be back to my own house in my own mess. 

Operation Handmade Christmas almost caused me to lose my mind on Christmas Eve eve.  My sewing machine got all fussy on me, and I had to coax it back to sanity with a new needle.  It sounds so simple, but I am a terrible troubleshooter.  I made these for the ladies in my family, and I was so done by the time they were finished that I didn't even take any pictures of them.  I also made some dresses for my nieces; I finished these pretty early, so there is photographic evidence:

Cara had a big time.  Her grandmamas, aunts, uncles, and cousins were so good to her, and of course Mommy and Daddy (or Santa?  I'm still not sure!!) attempted to give her everything she ever wanted.  I say "attempted" because we left her stocking (filled with pots, pans, and utensils) and her tunnel at our house.  I guess Cara got to wake up on Christmas morning twice! :-)

opening her first Christmas present from Grandaddy and Kaz on Christmas Eve eve

We also forgot to take pictures on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, so I guess these will have to do:

playing with her new toys

Fortunately, we did not forget the video camera!

And just to make this Christmas a little more awesome, it snowed!  This is most amazing because HELLO! this is SOUTH CAROLINA.

And, because I promised not only pictures and videos, but also words, I will close with this.  Remember how I have been trying to figure out what we should do about Santa?  I had a few minutes to talk to PJ's sister and brother-in-law about why they don't do the Santa thing with their kids (ages 5 and 10).  They said that no magic of Christmas is lost without Santa; they focus on the magic of the Word become flesh.  PJ's brother-in-law told me something that is still sort of swirling around in my thoughts.  His five year old daughter was asked in a check out line if she was excited about Santa.  She said that she doesn't believe in Santa.  Her dad asked her "What do you believe in?" and her response was "We believe in Jesus."  The rhetorical question I keep coming back to here is this:  would her response have been different if her parents played along with the Santa thing? 

Dec 16, 2010

Cara's Christmas dress

I had not thought a whole lot about Cara's Christmas dress until I saw this one on Zulily

I thought it was pretty cute, not Christmas-y, but still very cute.  And then I realized that this dress was ON SALE for $, no, thank you.  But the more I looked at it, the more I decided that I could make it.  So I tried to figure it out.
And I realized it wasn't so difficult to sew without a pattern after all.

Dec 14, 2010

to santa or not to santa?

Last week, my Sunday School class tackled the question of whether or not Christians should participate in the Santa thing.  Of course, we reached no conclusive answer as the Bible does not specifically condemn the big man in red, so I have posed this question to almost everyone I know.  I have asked my students, other teachers, my friends, anyone who will listen to me.  To be honest, this is not a question to which I had given much thought before Sunday.  Santa seemed like just a fun, harmless American tradition.  But, we ARE lying to our children.  Consider the ethical and moral implications of that one.  I said that to someone today and her response was "wow, that's harsh."

I can think of almost as many arguments for Santa as against him.  Santa does seem to put the birth of Christ on the back burner, at least for the younguns.  We are definitely actively lying to our children, and we are encouraging consumerism and greed.  How do those younguns decide what to ask Santa for?  They watch commercials on TV!  Advertising has a powerful pull on American culture in general, and I hate to think that I would willing push Cara in that direction.  Right now, we stick to Veggie Tales and Sesame Street videos, but I am very much aware that I cannot shelter her from advertising forever.  And then there's the whole traumatizing experience of discovering the truth about Santa.  One of my students said (and I had never heard this before) that she felt GUILTY when she realized that her parents were giving her all of the "Santa" gifts because she hadn't done anything to deserve them.  Wow.  Very few of them reported feeling angry or betrayed by the lie, but several said that they kept up the guise of belief because they thought it made their parents happy. good lie deserves another...

HOWEVER, Santa cultivates magic and imagination in childhood.  It's almost like playing a special game with children.  They are so in awe of the magic and anticipate the big event with such joy.  Who really wants to take that away from a child?  Doesn't Santa encourage childhood innocence in a way?  Anything is possible...the American dream...or something?  All of my students adamantly protested when I said that I was considering not playing along with the Santa thing.  They seemed to think that it was a right of childhood almost, something with few to no harmful effects.  And then there's the tradition of sitting on Santa's lap every year.  My mom has a hilarious picture of my sister when she was maybe four years old.  As the big sister, I sat on Santa's lap first, and he asked me what my sister's name was, and so I told him.  When it was Allison's turn, he said "hello there, Allison," and she turned to the camera with an adorably shocked face and said, "he knew my name?!?!?!"
this moment of cuteness would not have been possible without the big fat Santa lie
I have to admit that I love the idea of seeing Cara run down the hall on Christmas morning to a dazzling display of everything she ever wanted.  I want to give that to her, and I want her to feel the magic, in a way.  There is also a part of me that wants to step back from popular American culture a little and teach her that baby Jesus is the most important part of Christmas.  That giving to others, especially the less fortunate, brings the true joy of Christmas.  And does it diminish any of the joy on Christmas morning for her to know that Mommy and Daddy gave her all of those presents because we love her so much?

In the grand scheme of things, I don't think it matters.  Santa belief is really only possible when children are too young to remember a whole lot, and at that age, they can't fully process the meaning of the birth of a Savior anyway (not that the groundwork shouldn't be laid).  When I think about my most memorable Christmas, it was well after the Santa myth had faded for me.  I was in the 8th grade, and my school's junior BETA club was sponsoring a trip to New York City.  Who is crazy enough to take 50 middle schoolers on a bus to New York?  Really?  Anyway, I really, really, really wanted to go.  All my friends were going.  My parents told me that they couldn't afford it, and I understood.  I never went without a need met, but I knew we didn't have extra money to throw around, so I accepted this explanation.  On Christmas day, I got up earlier than my brother and sister and went downstairs to check out my stash.  In my stocking was an envelope and in that envelope was a plane ticket that my mom had made.  "Trip to New York" it said.  And I cried.  I actually went into my parents' room and woke them up crying.  I had never been so surprised and never felt so loved.  I'm not sure a future Christmas will ever be able to top that moment for me.  And none of that was Santa.

Dec 13, 2010

on IKEA and the toddler room

We spent a chunk of our Saturday this past weekend at the most awesome retailer ever:  IKEA!  I love IKEA so much that we are only allowed to go a few times a year because we always fill a cart.  We went this time for Cara's Christmas present, ONE THING, and we still filled a cart.  Everything at IKEA is so clean and crisp, selling the clean and crisp lifestyle.  Everything just looks so easy.  What I wouldn't give for everything to just be easy...

We bought a new set of everyday dishes.  The old Walmart set (and you know how I feel about Walmart) only had two dinner plates, three bowls, and a few little plates left, so we splurged on a new set.  "Splurged" as in we spent $25 on six place settings.  I know, right!  $25??  And those were the expensive ones!  But those shiny, clean, crisp white bowls hold my oatmeal so much better than those old bowls did.  In all seriousness, I like having a matching set of dishes.  I don't know why.  The old incomplete set went to Goodwill along with Cara's changing table.

What?  Why did we get rid of an essential baby item?  What about all the future babies?  Won't they also need a changing table? 

The changing table that we had was a rickety because there was a wrong part in the box.  PJ made do with what was there, but the table was never really sturdy.  And it had shelves underneath, so I put baskets of stuff on them, thinking that I had chosen the perfect piece of baby furniture.  Until the toddler found the baskets and emptied them.  And hid things.  And ate things., no, not the perfect piece of baby furniture.

Getting rid of that changing table transformed Cara's room though.  I had sort of planned to move it out anyway to make room for Cara's Christmas present:
DUKTIG Mini-kitchen white Width: 28 3/8 " Depth: 15 3/4 " Height: 42 1/2 "  Width: 72 cm Depth: 40 cm Height: 108 cm
(Isn't this the most adorable little kid kitchen?  Of course, the top part with the microwave was out of stock, but I guess that just means that I get to go back to IKEA to get it very soon!)  We moved around some other furniture too, so that now Cara has a ton of space in her room to just play.  It looks like a little girl room now, not a baby nursery.  We found the perfect playtime rug at IKEA as well,
FABLER PRICKAR Rug pink Length: 1 ½ yard Width: 52 "  Length: 133 cm Width: 133 cm
and Cara stomped all over it, saying "gurgle, gurgle" which means "circle, circle" in toddlerspeak. 

Cara's room looks so much like a little girl room to me that I am considering putting her in a toddler bed while I am out for Christmas break.  (The room isn't the only thing prompting me to consider this, I'm not that silly!)  She's really good about bedtime now, so I don't want to create a problem where there isn't one, but it will have to happen sometime.  Any advice or suggestions about toddler beds?  Timing, strategies, anything? 

Dec 9, 2010

vegetarian review

Sometime last week, I decided to go vegetarian until Christmas.  I don't have any real reason other than I just want to see how I like it.  PJ agreed to join me, which surprised me a little, but he's been a good sport about the new diet in general, so I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised.  Anyway, I thought I would share some of recipes we have tried with reviews from me (as the food preparer) and from PJ (as the food eater) as well as the approximate cost of the meal.  I ate the food too, but PJ will be more honest in his opinion.  I try really hard to like everything I cook.  The cost is VERY approximate since I will never know exactly how much a 1/4 cup of olive oil costs.  I just estimated. 

Meal #1:  Tuscan Minestrone with cornbread ($13.72)

from Jessica:  Anyone who wants to cook a delicious pot of soup has no intentions of doing it quickly.  This soup is no exception; it took me a solid two hours.  However, it was a fantastic two hours of Sufjan Stevens Christmas music, hot chocolate, and chopping.  No, I wasn't chopping for the entire two hours; I fed Cara her dinner while my beans were boiling away.  But there was a good bit of chopping.  My kitchen was a disaster afterwards, but it was worth it.  I omitted the pancetta and cabbage from this recipe, and I don't think we missed it.  Next time, I probably won't drain the tomatoes because I wanted just a little more broth.  I made this soup on Sunday evening with the idea that I would put the leftovers into containers for lunch this week.  After we had both eaten it for dinner, I still had enough leftover for five lunch portions.  That's a lot of soup.  The price may seem a little steep, but this is huge nutritional bang for your buck (kale and red chard!!) in addition to spreading over several days of lunch.

from PJ:   This is a hearty and flavorful soup, as vegetable soups go.  The white beans were mild, they didn't have that 'lima bean' taste that white beans sometimes have.  I just read here that the beans were supposed to be cooked with pancetta, that sounds pretty good to me, but we are vegetarians until Christmas.  It went great with the corn muffins that Jessica also made; it was just the right meal after the cold afternoon outside we had today.

Meal #2:  Eggplant, Tomato, and Chickpea Casserole  ($8.54)

from Jessica:  I prepared the casserole on Sunday night after I made the soup.  The tomato sauce is simmering away as we speak, and it smells fantastic!  I used dried chickpeas that I soaked overnight and boiled for 30ish minutes because that is what I had in the pantry.  Plus, dried beans from the bulk bins are much cheaper than canned.  I have never cooked with eggplant before, and I think I burned it just a little in the oven!  Hopefully, it will still turn out okay.  All I have to do tomorrow is bake my casserole.  *sigh of relief*

from PJ:  This casserole is more of a stew than a casserole.  The chickpeas and cinnamon give it a Middle Eastern/Indian flavor.  It is super tasty and has a good balance of sweet and savory.

Meal #3:  Baked Limas with Spinach and Feta ($10.02)

from Jessica:  Tuesday night was a good time for leftovers.  Since I didn't actually cook dinner, I cooked the limas to prep for Wednesday's Thursday's meal.  When I planned this week's menu, I didn't know that PJ doesn't like limas...I hope that the feta will cancel out the "lima bean taste."  PJ even asked me what we were going to do for dinner after we taste this dish!  In an effort to make this recipe more pleasing to my husband's palate, I added dried Greek seasoning to the beans, an extra garlic clove and some red pepper flakes to the spinach, and a lot of feta on the top.  Earth Fare didn't have fresh dill or chives when I went last weekend, so I had to omit those ingredients.  I had my doubts, but I started to think this one might turn out okay as I was assembling it.  We'll see...

from PJ:  This meal has been the biggest suprise so far.  It was really good; I even ate all of Cara's and Jessica's when they got done.  The lima beans were very well seasoned (if you didn't notice from earlier posts, I don't like lima beans) and the feta cheese is amazing on top of the beans and spinach.  It was filling, healthy tasting and just salty/cheesy enough to satisfy us meat-eaters.

Are we converting to vegetarians?  Are we really going to keep this up until Christmas?  Um, no, we've definitely already cheated...Chic-Fil-A was calling my name Wednesday night.  I have so little willpower.  But, I think we can probably make it until Christmas.  And then it will be turkey time for real.

Dec 5, 2010

been sew busy

(hehehe...I'm such a huge dork.)

I have been busy lately with lots of sewing projects, and I love it!  I have made gifts for three baby showers last week, Christmas t-shirts for my nieces, and I even had my first official paid order!  WooHoo! 

I made burp cloths, onesies, and bibs for the baby shower gifts, and I think I might have been more excited about them than the mothers-to-be were.  Not that they didn't like them, but I was really about to burst. 

Those bibs were super easy (I followed this tutorial), and I was really pleased with the way they turned out.  I did need one practice run before I made one I was satisfied with, but I am like that with everything I make.  My old habit of perfectionism...

Here are the t-shirts I am sending to my nieces in the mail tomorrow:

I can't believe I haven't made one of these for Cara yet.   These were so quick and easy that I'm sure I could make hers a weeknight project.

And finally, I was super excited that someone actually wanted to BUY t-shirts.  Like place an order and purchase them.  I was beyond flattered.  Here's what I ended up making to go on the shirts:

And so now that I have those projects finished, maybe I should start on Christmas presents because I am not planning to buy any presents; Operation Handmade Christmas is on.  Maybe I should have started a little earlier...

Nov 30, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--day 30

"Because a thankful heart is a happy heart,
I'm glad for what I have,
That's an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares,
Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks everyday!"
~from "Madame Blueberry," a Veggie Tales episode everyone should watch

Nov 29, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--days 26, 27, 28, 29

I know I said I was going to be thankful for something every day, but actually, what I am really thankful for is time off.  I had a five day break for Thanksgiving, and it might have been the best break ever, maybe even better than that spring break PJ and I spent in Ft. Lauderdale.  Definitely better.

Day 26:  I am thankful for a break from work.  I needed to do some very important things like watch season one of Mad Men, sleep, visit with my family, make baby presents for three showers this week (!), put up my Christmas tree, and teach my child some manners.

Day 27:  One of the family members I visited over my break was my Grandmama King, and while I was there, I realized how lucky Cara is to have so many grandmamas!  Counting the greats and the steps, the baby has SIX grandmamas!  No wonder she is so spoiled! :-)  (Side note:  Going through all these little baby pictures makes me incredibly sentimental!  I can't believe that my baby is now a toddler who is swiftly moving toward little girl.  I'm actually tearing up as I type this.  Do other moms get this way?)
Cara and MeMa
Cara and Bitsy
Cara and Grandmama Ruby
Cara and Grandmama King
Cara and Mimi (PJ's dad's wife)
Cara and Kaz (my dad's wife)
Day 28:  I am thankful for leftovers.  Need I say more?

Day 29:  I am thankful for the season of Christmas.  I love everything about it.  The chill in the air, Christmas trees, Christmas music, picking out and making gifts, baking, snuggling by a doesn't get much better!  I love the homey family-ness of Christmas. 

When we unpack the ornaments to decorate the tree, I love that I get to relive all my childhood Christmases.  My parents gave me a new ornament every year, which means that our tree can get quite full, but this year, two-thirds of those ornaments are still in their boxes.  The wild toddler LOVES the ornaments so much that she has already broken a few of them.  Mainly, I have been worried that she's going to love that tree so much that it falls on top of her!  I have given up trying to keep the ornaments on the tree.  There's no hope!  But it doesn't matter.  I am so thankful for all of the precious reasons that it just doesn't matter.

Nov 25, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--days 24 and 25

Day 24:  I am thankful that I got to go eat lunch at school with Cara yesterday.  (Gosh, when I re-read that sentence, it sounds like she is in elementary or middle school.  No, please, never.)  Her school had a Thanksgiving feast and invited all of the parents to come in.  The older classes even had little pilgrim hats and collars and little programs.  How adorable is that?  I am really bad at little-kid-school-room-mom-cutesy kinds of things.  It does not even occur to me to send Valentines for the class or make sure I return the signed papers.  This is particularly embarrassing because I am a freaking teacher.  High school students don't do that kind of thing.  However, I will remember to make her teachers Christmas presents (I say that in case they are reading! :-).  After hanging out for just one lunch, I realized that Cara's teachers do an incredible job of herding those cats.  It never ceases to amaze me that those kids rarely get hurt, all get fed, and all take naps ON MATS.  I think Ms. Wendy hypnotizes them as soon as all the parents leave...

Day 25:  I am thankful for my family.  This should go without saying, but I'm saying it because it's Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for PJ and Cara, Bitsy, Granddaddy, and Kaz, who were all here to hang out today.  Cara loved being the center of attention all day (as if that's unusual), and the turkey wasn't overcooked.  Success!  However, I missed the rest of my family, especially my mama, but I know they were well-fed down at the beach, and I missed seeing Larry, Erin, Jacob, and Ava because they are always a fun crowd.  I am so blessed to have too many options on holidays. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  What are you thankful for today?

Nov 24, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--day 23

I am so thankful that Jennifer Grey won Dancing with the Stars because
no one puts Baby in the corner.

(yes...I had to go there.)

Nov 22, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--day 22

I am thankful for you. 

Sometimes I feel a little silly writing this blog because really, who is interested in my thoughts, opinions, rants, or musings?  And, besides my family, who is interested in pictures and videos of my child?  But I keep doing it because I like it.  I read lots of other blogs written by other parents, my friends, even complete strangers, and I realized that I like knowing that I am not the only one who overshares about joys, struggles, food, vacations, milestones, and everything else in my life.  It helps us all connect; we celebrate and struggle together.

I also just like to write.  I forgot for a long time that I like to write, but now that I have started doing it again, it's one of my favorite things to do (right behind reading, watching TV, and cooking).  Writing should be read, and just when I think that nobody is reading this, someone will randomly tell me that they read it.  And that makes me feel really good, especially when they follow the "I read it" with something nice about it. 

So, truly, thank you for reading.  Who are you?  Do you have something you write that I can read (I really like to read)?  Do you have any suggestions for how I can be better at this blogging thing (I also like to get better)? 

Nov 21, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--days 20 and 21

Apparently, disappointment makes me productive.  This weekend, I made six appliqued t-shirts, and I finally finished dress #5:

Why, yes, actually this dress does look remarkably similar to dresses #3 and #4:



These dresses were all made by the same pattern that I have now run into the ground.  I have learned quite a lot though, so (day 20) thank you, Simplicity #2674.  I'm still not so good at zippers, but I think I have finally mastered sleeves.  I have a much better idea of how to finish armholes too, thanks to sewing club president Laura.  Yes, I just named you president of sewing club.

For day 21, I am trying really hard to be thankful for disappointment, especially for the new perspective it can bring and lessons it can teach.  This is a difficult thing to be thankful for.  I am a perfectionist and a pleaser, so feeling like I failed (which I did; I failed) is close to the worst feeling ever, especially when I can't see why or how I can fix it.  I understand constructive criticism and the learning process, but I have never encountered something that I couldn't accomplish in the end.  Except for learning to drive a stick, but I didn't really want to learn that.  This was something I wanted, but I have begun to question why.  What were my motivators?  If my honest answer is money, then I have wasted a lot of time and effort with nothing to show for it.  And I think that is the most difficult pill to swallow.  Lesson learned.  Perspective gained.  Thank you.

Nov 19, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--day 19

After receiving some rather disappointing news today, I am thankful for distractions like:

reading material: Freakonomics, INSTYLE, and Better Homes and Gardens...(I am nothing if not well-rounded, I suppose.)

fabric and zippers that arrive in the mail (my first online fabric purchase!)

and encouraging facebook wall posts.

Nov 18, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--days 17 and 18

I have been doing a lot of listening, thinking, and reading (this article and this article are particularly helpful) about toddler development and discipline, and I have drawn some conclusions about what might work best for Cara and for me.  However, I want to clarify this first: when my pediatrician suggested that we withhold affection, I do not think he meant neglecting or rejecting our child, which would be cruel and almost abusive.  My understanding of this method is that parents do not reward bad behavior with positive attention.  Based on what I have read lately, it seems that toddlers often act out in order to get their parents' attention, so the thinking here is that you don't reward them with hugs, kisses, conversation, or other types of positive interaction.  For example, if Cara was having a tantrum because we told her no/removed her from a potentially bad situation/took something from her, we would not pick her up and hug her to try to make it better.  A tantrum is not so effective without an audience to respond.  *side note:  I am very, very thankful that Cara's tantrums are few and short (day 17).

After reflecting on the fireplace incident and talking to lots of other moms, I think I was right and wrong.  I was right in that, honestly, we should have been watching her more closely.  I was right in that she probably knew better than to scoop ashes out of the fireplace.  BUT, I was wrong in my reaction.  I was never angry or out of control, but there was clearly no connection for Cara between playing in the fireplace and no bath toys or books.  I did not do what the doctor suggested.  I think I just made up my own plan on the fly because I had not thought through how I would handle a situation like that.

I don't think I can be a spanker right now, but not because I am judgmental of those who do spank.  I'm just not tough enough to do it yet, and I don't want to teach Cara that hitting is okay.  She won't be able to understand that hitting is bad if Mommy and Daddy hit her, even if the "hit" is spanking.  However, I suspect that as she gets older, there may be times when spanking or swatting a hand is necessary.  Or not?  I don't know.

I like time out, but I don't think Cara is there yet.  I can see this playing out in my head, and I would spend more time and energy keeping her in one spot than it is worth.  She has the attention span of a gnat right now (Are you calling me a g-nat??), and maybe I am lazy, but I don't want to fight that battle.  Yet. (What is the magic age when she could understand the connection between her behavior and time out?)

And now that I have thought it through, here's what I think we'll do.  Yesterday, Cara was trying to pull a candle holder off a table.  I took the candle holder out of her hands, got down to her eye level, held her hands in mine, and said "Mama said no.  Don't pull things off the table.  Mama said no."  Cara looked at me for a few seconds, nodded her head, and walked off to go terrorize the cat.  I think my main method is going to need to be prevention for the next few months until she's really ready for time out.  The eye-to-eye, hand-holding conversation seemed to work.  The challenge is going to be catching her before we have another fireplace incident. 

What do ya'll think?  I am still definitely open to suggestions and advice. 

And one more thing:  I am sooooo thankful for SEWING CLUB tonight!! (day 18)

Nov 16, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--day 16

I am thankful for advice.

Last night, Cara climbed onto the hearth and played in the ashes of the fireplace.  This is not the first time she has done this, and I suspect it won't be the last.  It made for a rather messy situation for Cara and for me. 

I feel a little confused about disciplining my 16-month-old.  Part of me thinks that she is still a baby, so she doesn't really know any better.  Following this train of thought, the fireplace situation is more my fault than hers because I should have been paying closer attention; therefore, the fireplace/toddler mess was caused by parental negligence. 

There is another part of me that thinks she most definitely knows better than to play in the fireplace.  Her face when I caught her digging in ashes sort of gave her away.  PJ and I have said "No" more times than I can count, we have removed her from the hearth kicking and screaming, we have tried to distract her, but she is a determined, stubborn little thing.  Imagine that.

When we went for Cara's 15-month visit, I asked her pediatrician how to get her to understand that no means no.  He said that the strongest discipline tool we have is withholding our affection.  Doesn't that sound so mean?  He said that we should make it clear in our voice and body language that we are serious about "no" and then ignore her.  No hugs, kisses, conversations, or anything.  When I discovered Cara in the fireplace, I figured I would give this no-love thing a try.  It was relatively close to Cara's usual bath/bed time, so I just sped the routine up a good bit.  No toys or playing in the tub, no books before bed.  Cara's feelings were very hurt by the time the bath was over, and by the time she was in her jammies, she was a very, very sad little bear.  I put her in her crib to go to bed, intending to lay her down and leave the room, but she just laid there and cried.  She didn't try to stand up and protest; she reached her little hands up and cried and cried.  I sat in her rocker and felt like a jerk.

Do all parents feel like jerks when they have to discipline their children?

I ended up rocking her for a good 20 minutes.  She sat in my lap, hugging me, staring up at me with those big, sad eyes like "Mama, I am so sad.  Do you still love me?"  I told her over and over that I loved her, but mama said not to play in the fireplace.  I realize that I am probably projecting my own reaction and emotions on Cara; she probably felt like she got what she wanted since I picked her up and rocked her. 

I call my method an epic fail because I don't think Cara connected the punishment with the crime, and I didn't exactly follow through.  I don't think I can do the withholding affection thing, and I wasn't sure that Cara really even knew better than to play in the fireplace.  So, I decided to take a very informal survey of my coworkers with kids.  I asked people with kids Cara's age or older if 1) a 16-month-old knows better; and 2) how do/did you deal with your toddler when he/she was defiant.

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of 1) yes, she knows better; and 2) time out, Supernanny style.  In fact, I heard more than once that I am probably underestimating what Cara knows and is capable of, which I think is because I don't want to see her as a toddler instead of a baby. 

Time out sounds okay, but I'm not sure how this will work out in real life.  Will she really stay in time out?  I know I will have to put her in time out immediately after she does something she's not supposed to, and I know I need to get down to her level, eye contact and all that, and explain that mommy said no.  Does this really work?

Still open to suggestions and grateful for advice...

Nov 15, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--day 15

I am thankful for peppers and penne.  Yummy, yummy.

Sausage, Peppers, and Penne

1/2 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 links of Italian sausage, sliced (I used chicken sausage and was surprised by how tasty it was)
1/2 lb of penne (I mixed whole wheat and regular pasta because that is what was in the cabinet)
Italian seasoning blend (or a mix of dried parsley, basil, oregano, or any other Italian-ish herbs you like)
red pepper flake
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Brown sausage in olive oil.  After two to three minutes, add veggies and saute until just tender.
  3. Add tomatoes.  Sprinkle dried herbs and red pepper flake according to how much you like.  I like a lot of both, but I hold back on the red pepper flake if Cara is going to eat with us.
  4. Simmer while pasta cooks.
  5. Add pasta to sauce and simmer a few more minutes.  I added a little bit of pasta water to thin out the sauce.
  6. Top with grated Parmesan or, if you are strange like me, a crumbled cornbread muffin.
This recipe feeds PJ, Cara, and me a healthy portion each, plus lunch for PJ and me the next day.  Delish.

Nov 14, 2010

count your blessings--30 days of gratitude--days 12, 13, 14

Wow, so I'm a little behind.  Life has been a bit busy this weekend, to say the least.  I have so many things to be thankful for, but I narrowed the list to three for my three days:
  1. I am thankful for the power of prayer.
  2. I am thankful for Bitsy, who babysat tonight so that PJ and I could go to a baby shower sans the wild toddler.  Thank you so much, Bitsy!  Love you! :-)
  3. I am thankful for my friends, who are teaching me what it means to really be a friend when life is tough.  It's harder than I could have ever imagined, but my love tank is so full (not because I received love but because they are teaching me how to love).
I helped throw a shower for my bestie, Melissa.  She is the most adorable preggo (tied with Lizzy), and I am beyond excited for another one of my friends to cross over into the "married with children" madness.  Finally, someone will understand!! 

I put PJ on picture duty, and he did a pretty good job.

903 girls minus 1 (we missed you, Julie!)


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