Mar 31, 2011

awkward and awesome

I have been reading these posts for a while, and they always make me laugh.  So here I go, jumping on the "awkward and awesome" bandwagon.

  • Finding tons of gray hairs after I oh-so-proudly stated that I would rock them or dye them...actually, I'm just trying to ignore them.
  • Trying to fight breakouts and wrinkles at the same time.  The best is when I get a zit right next to the wrinkle between my eyebrows.  The universe is cruel.
  • The fact that one of my classes has a Facebook group for the class...that they didn't invite me to join.  Maybe it would be even more awkward if I joined.  Facebook is just awkward.
  • Cara in a parking lot.  She really wants to walk, but she doesn't always want to hold my hand.  I can either be the mom who grabs her child's wrist while she screams and tries to get away, or I can be the mom who carries her child while she screams and tries to get away.
  • Being so good at hula hooping on the Wii that it unlocked a longer time.  Now I can hula hoop for 6 minutes instead of a measly 3!  And then I can fall over dead on the couch.
  • The Hunger Games trilogy.  I read all three books last week, and they are now my new favorites.
  • Being only two weeks away from spring break!  I see the light, I swear!
  • Making a phone call to brag on an unlikely student last night.  When I told his mom who I was, I could hear her sigh and maybe even groan a little.  But when I told her how much I have enjoyed getting to know her child and how much progress he's made on the project we've been working on together, she gave me a heartfelt thank you.  And that was awesome.

Mar 27, 2011

my favorite things about 20 months

Spending a week or so obsessed with your toddler's development is very enlightening.  All of a sudden, you notice all the wonderful, adorable things she does, and you feel like a seriously silly mommy for that last post.  So, here are the things I love about Cara at 20 months:

1)  I love that Cara is learning to speak in complete sentences.  She loves to run down the hall and loudly declare "I running!"  When she is looking for something (like a lost sock), she will say "I find it," and when I tell her to listen for something (like a bird singing), she points to her ear and says "I hear it!" 

2)  I love that Cara is a G-I-R-L.  And she is.  She wanders into the bathroom in the mornings when I am doing my make up and wants to get in on that action.  I dab a bit of imaginary blush to those sweet cheeks and add a little Burt's Bees to her lips so she feels like a big girl. 

3)  I love that Cara has an opinion about her shoes.  Her daddy bought her some flowery Mary Jane style shoes last week (he shopped for them all by himself; could we ask for a sweeter daddy?  I think not.), but they are not the most practical daycare shoes.  The day after she got them, Cara pitched one serious fit because I wouldn't let her wear them to school.  I didn't realize that this fit would result in a wrestling match and screams of "daddy, here" all the way to school, and you can bet that the next day, Miss Cara wore her flowery shoes to school.  The apple does not far fall...

4)  I love that Cara sings.  What she really does is catch her favorite words and belt those out, but she's definitely singing along with you.  She will sing her ABCs with me, kind of filling in the blanks when  I pause, and today in the grocery store, she sang "Elmo's Song" and charmed all the cashiers. 

5)  I love that Cara still wants to rock before bed.  Except now, instead of laying in my lap, she wants to sit next to me in the glider.  I'm just glad we both still fit! :-)


Mar 22, 2011

worrying about nothing

"Flubber!  Flubber!" she says, and I know what she means.  The wild toddler is requesting a flower for her hair.  "Preeety" she coos at her reflection.  Mommies always know how to interpret better than anyone else, even those impossible toddler words.  I know that when she runs into the kitchen screaming "NANA," she wants a banana.  It's like a secret code, the made up language that binds our little family together.  Although I am certain that life will get easier when most of the world can understand what's she's saying.

People always asked me when Cara was an infant if I used those teach-your-baby-to-read flashcards, like because I'm an English teacher, Cara would have come out of the womb reading.  I guess those cards could work, but I didn't have any desire to try them out.  I said that I want Cara to develop at her own rate, to stay a baby as long as possible, to remain innocent, to preserve her childhood.  I see what happens when children, especially girls, grow up too fast on a daily basis, and it scares me.

Someone told me today that Cara is spunky, and I love that description for her.  She is spunky.  And adorable.  And independent.  And an individual.  Which is what I am remembering right now.

In the past few days, it has suddenly occurred to me that the other toddlers in Cara's class at "school" are just barely toddling.  Maybe a group recently moved up together from the infant class or something.  I don't know, but I also noticed that several of her friends have moved up to the next group.  Her little buddies that moved up with her from the infant class have now moved up again.  Without her. 

When this realization hit me, I went into mom-super-worry-mode.  Is it because she's not speaking in complete sentences yet?  Does she not follow directions?  Can she not color in the lines?  Part of my problem here is that I have no idea what milestones signal a move up to the next class.  When I went to pick Cara up this afternoon, I had decided to ask.  Maybe I could work with her on those particular skills so that she can move up; she can't be left behind!

Then, I had sort of a flash forward moment of me pushing my elementary child, my middle schooler, my high schooler to do more math worksheets, to read longer books, to study more for the SAT, to take harder and harder classes.  And I stopped and told myself that this is ridiculous

It took forever for the nursery at church to realize that Cara could crawl.  Know why?  Because someone held her the entire time she was in there.  And she was snuggly and content.  Of course they didn't know she could crawl.  And my girl was happy as a clam right where she was.

I know my girl is smart.  She knows her colors, some of her letters, she counts, she says "ready, set, go" all. the. time.  I know she understands what other people say because the only way to get her to ride in a cart in a store is to warn her ahead of time.  Her teachers even sent her a star student certificate for knowing her days of the week (okay, honestly, I have never been able to get her to tell me what day it is...this would be a waaaayyyy advanced skill).  I remembered that she doesn't turn two until July, and in toddler time, three or four months can mean leaps and bounds.  When I think about this logically, it's absolutely not a cause for concern.  But you know how mommies worry.  About everything...

Maybe her teachers in her class just love her.  Maybe they see that she is happy right where she is.  Maybe she has a buddy she always plays with.  I don't know, and it doesn't matter.  Cara is right where she should be, "flubbers" and all.

Mar 19, 2011

since she was willing to be still...

I dried her hair.

When did she start looking like a little girl?

Mar 18, 2011

yay for Friday!

Things I am excited for this weekend:

• Roasting a chicken and making some stock to freeze
• Buying some seersucker for Easter dresses and an order
• Sleeping in a little because daylight savings is kicking my butt
• Busting out my shorts this weekend
• Starting a new book as I am now done with A Moveable Feast
• Hanging out with my family, especially my hubby. I think we’re going to have a date night at home. It’s a date if you call it one, right?

What are you excited about?


Mar 15, 2011

my favorite things

A few things that this mommy is loving these days:

1)  my Wii Fit:  Thank you, PJ, for my awesome birthday present!!  I have every intention of hula hooping my way into my bathing suit this summer.  I have one small bone to pick with my Wii Fit though.  It told me not to let my age slow me down right after it told me happy birthday.  Really, Wii Fit?  Really?  Then it told me that my Wii Fit age was 45.  Really?

I've mostly been doing the yoga, and I have to admit that I'm getting into it.  I have tried yoga several times before and not been terribly interested, but I really like the Wii Fit yoga.  Maybe being in the privacy of my living room helps.

2)  This dress:
I love Forever 21 online because shopping in the store with all the 14 year olds is a little awkward.  Especially with the wild toddler.  Or maybe that's just me.  Whatev, this dress is my new favorite.

3)  My first bag (not diaper bag) in 20 months:
Nine West Clipper 4 Poster Ruffle - Tan
PS-That link has a really, really good deal on this bag.

4)  My Kindle:  I can't believe I have not written about how much I love my Kindle before now.  I got it for Christmas, and I am almost never without it.  New books are so...instant.  And I have read NINE since Christmas.  Want to know what they are? (Of course you do!)
  1. Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy (I know it's a little odd that I read this one.  No, I'm not pregnant, but I was very interested in the medical history of labor and delivery.  It will give you a new perspective on forceps and epidurals.)
  2. Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson (I barely made it through this one.  Dobson spends a lot of time bragging about his own parenting skills, and he pretty much lost me when he said that the Girls Scouts are no longer safe for little girls because the organization allows leaders who are feminists, existentialists, or *gasp* communists.  Calling Senator McCarthy!)
  3. The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger by Lee Strobel (highly recommended)
  4. House Rules by Jodi Picoult (I usually love Picoult, but I figured out this one way before she meant for me to.)
  5. In Defense of Food:  An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan (I had been wanting to get my hands on this one for a long time.  Read The Omnivore's Dilemma first.)
  6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Love!)
  7. Rockabye: From Wild to Child by Rebecca Woolf (If you like her blog, you'll like her book.)
  8. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (typical of Sparks)
  9. The Confession by John Grisham (typical of Grisham)
  10. And I am currently reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.  Jury's still out.
5) Narragansett No. 7  Absolutely hilarious.

What are you loving these days?

Mar 13, 2011

i heart gingham

When I went fabric shopping in my mom's garage last weekend, I scored lots of adorable gingham.  Nothing says "SPRING!" like those little checks.  I'm on a market skirt kick, so Cara now has two new outfits for school this week.


That pink gingham was a little on the thin side, so I had to figure out how to line that skirt.  I'm proud enough of it that I even like how the inside looks.


One of my favorite dresses that my mom made for me was out of that red floral fabric.  It was a simple sort of sheath dress, but it made me feel very grown up.  It all seems to come back full circle.  I have my great grandmother's sewing machine, her thread, her fabric, and I'm doing something that my mom did for me and tried to teach me how to do. 

Sentimental much, Jessica? :-)

Mar 10, 2011

the (shopping) itch

When the seasons change, I get the urge to shop BAD.  My part time job in high school and college was always in retail, and I picked up some bad habits, the kind that help me justify buying an entire outfit instead of just one new piece.  I'm quite certain that my subscription to InStyle and my new obsession with Kendi Everyday  and What I Wore are only adding fuel to the fire. 

Back in the days before daycare, diapers, organic groceries, and the recession, when I got the urge to shop, I would.  It was so much easier to enjoy the experience of shopping, of looking, dreaming, touching, and trying on before I had a toddler in tow.  Now, I do most of my shopping online because taking Cara to a mall, or to pretty much any store for that matter, is a task I am not willing to undertake most days.   She hasn't developed an appreciation for shopping yet anyway, so online shopping definitely has its perks.  There is nothing better than a package sitting on the porch.  However, the experience of shopping online is very, very different.  The aesthetic aspect is pretty much gone, and it's easy to lose track of the value of money when you are not holding the garment in your hands. 

These days,  I have (mostly) limited myself to shopping at the change of the weather and only adding a few new pieces each go around, but I feel like I should really try a little harder to work with what I already have.  It seems wasteful not to, especially when there are more worthwhile things we could spend our money on.  So, last night, I cleaned out my closet and did the seasonal clothing swap.  I love the fresh start of rearranging my closet anyway, but I really dug into all the nooks and crannies, and this time, I found a gem.  This pink scarf was tucked away in the back of a drawer, and I honestly have no idea where it came from or when I acquired it.  But it seemed just perfect  for perking up a dreary day.

Mar 6, 2011

to MeMa's for the weekend

We were off to MeMa's house this weekend, and boy, did she have some fun planned for her grandgirls!  Cara had not seen her cousins B and E since Christmas, and she is now at the perfect age to follow five-year-old B around everywhere.  There is nothing better than a little cousin love!

 Cara's first time on a big kid swing...she loved it until she fell off...

B is so sweet to her little cousin.  I think she likes having an entourage.

You know how it is trying to get all three children to look at the camera at the same time...

MeMa took the girls (plus their parents; MeMa is not insane) to see the Cinderella ballet, complete with a ballerina princess tea party afterward.  I know this sounds like a lot for a not-quite-two-year-old to handle, but I had good reason to think that Cara would be okay.  This was a version of the Cinderella ballet meant for children, and there were tons of little girls dressed up in frilly princess dresses and tiaras; at least mine wouldn't be the only one talking during the dancing.  And this was not Cara's first performance.  We took her to see a children's performance of the Nutcracker right before Christmas, and she did incredibly well considering her age.  Yes, I did have to stand near the door with her for a little while and she needed to run around the lobby a little, but I think that the earlier she learns how to behave in public (hahaha....I am laughing at myself right now...), the better.

We talked all the way to the theater about how Cara had to sit in Mommy's lap and be quiet during the ballet.  Cara caught on to this pretty quickly; she kept saying "ssshhhh" and whispering "quiet," so I know she got the idea.  And everything started out really well.  MeMa got Cinderella books for all the girls, and we read her book while we waited for the ballet to start.

And, seriously, for at least the first 45 minutes to an hour, Cara, E, and B were totally enthralled.  It was adorable.  There were gasps when Cinderella appeared in her princess gown and oooos and aaaahhhhs for the impressive dancing and many claps at the appropriate times.  E bounced her little leg in time with the classical music.  The children are so cultured.

But, the ballet was an hour and a half long, quite a long time for me to sit still, much less a not-quite-two-year-old, an official-two-year-old, and a five-year-old.  PJ (bless his heart at a princess ballet) took Cara into the lobby, and MeMa ended up with E in the lobby while B squirmed her way through the last 30 minutes or so. 

And then things went south for poor Cara.  My child does not have a timid bone in her body, and she has no problem running away from Mommy and Daddy in a crowd.  In fact, I think she likes to wait until she's in a dangerous parking lot or a huge crowd of people until she insists on walking and then runs away.  So this princess tea party was in a crowded, small court yard on the side of the theater, and Cara refused to be held. 

*Commence toddler battle*

Needless to say, we left early.

As I was walking out of the gate with a screaming, writhing child in my arms, I locked eyes for a moment with a girl that I vaguely recognized, maybe from high school (that always happens when I go back to my hometown).  She gave me this incredibly sympathetic look as her own docile girls ate their cake in their pink smocked bishop dresses,  and I realized that she had probably been in my shoes a few years before.  We've all been there, that moment when our children have had too much and they let us know.  I am usually embarrassed by this moment, and at the time I was, but now that I think about it, I am glad.  My child is fiercely independent, curious, and fearless.  I love that about her, and I would never change it.  It simply wouldn't work for PJ and me to end up with a shy firstborn; that's not us.

I counted the ballet as an overall success.  Cara did as well as any almost-two-year-old could possibly do.  Even when she yelled out something, she always followed it by "sshhh" and a whispered "quiet."

Really, any trip to MeMa's is a success in one way or another.  This time, Cara inherited some adorable rain boots from B:

and I went fabric shopping in the garage:

Don't be jealous.

Mar 2, 2011

good bye winter

I am done with winter.  March begins Spring in my book, especially when it's been above 60 degrees for at least a week.  All qualifications were met today, so I busted out my legs.

and my flat feet.  Don't judge me.

Aren't those awesome pink flats?  And I got that skirt for $4 at Old Navy.  Okay, fine.  Here's my whole outfit.

shirt: Old Navy; skirt:  Target; shoes: DSW

I realize that this outfit would look better with heels; in fact, I have some grey heels I was DYING to wear, but I am a teacher.  I cannot possibly wear heels while also revealing my knees.  Scandalous!

Getting my husband to take pictures of me this morning was totally awkward through no fault of his.  I am not the best in front of the camera, and I never really like pictures of myself after it's all said and done.  But really, I think it's because I pick out my flaws and convince myself that those imperfections are the only thing that everyone else will notice.  Being a woman is a lot of work, and sometimes it feels like we are supposed to look and be perfect all the time; thank goodness my head knows that is a sneaky lie, even though my heart struggles to toss it out.

Mar 1, 2011

my favorite things--food edition

I like food.  I like eating, and I like feeding other people (I get this from my mama).  There is something about giving someone a meal that equates to loving him in my mind, and when you know the meal is tasty and healthy, it's like you've given a special someone an enormous hug.  The kind with a few pats on the back.

If you've been reading for a little while, you probably already know that I like organic food.  I read a book and never looked back.  We eat a lot of produce, beans (mostly dried), quinoa, rice, and oatmeal with a little meat and fish tossed in.    We also cheat every now and then.  I love Chic-Fil-A too much to say good-bye forever, and I haven't kicked my Diet Dr. Pepper habit yet.   But I intend to...

We also avoid processed food.  That means that we don't have cereal, chips, cookies, and other junk in the house unless I made them myself.  We cheat a little here too; I don't make tortilla chips every time we have chips and salsa, and we love Triscuits and a little sharp cheddar for a snack, but overall, I try to keep our diet full of whole foods.  I switched from nondairy creamer (what is that anyway??) and sweet & low (cancer in a pink envelope) to whole milk and real sugar in my coffee, and I know I am healthier for it.

Ultimately, I want to help Cara establish good eating habits early, and I want to be around for a good long while to watch her grow up.  I firmly believe that running in the opposite direction of the "meat and potatoes" American diet is one way I can treat my body as a temple and hopefully, see Cara as an old lady.

So here are a few of my favorite food-related things:

1) Quinoa:  We can't get enough of this stuff lately.  I've posted other quinoa recipes here and here, but this is one of our staples.  I swear we eat this at least once a week in some way.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil over medium high heat and add chopped onion and garlic.  Saute until translucent and add one big can of diced tomatoes (or a good handful of fresh tomatoes in the summer!) and a sprinkle of red pepper flake, stir, and cook together for a few minutes.  Add a generous handful of chopped basil and serve over quinoa.

I add chickpeas, chicken, or whatever veggies are in the fridge to this recipe, and it's always comforting and delicious, especially for lunch the next day.

2)  Raspberry Green Tea:  I realized recently that I was edging up on five or six cups of coffee every day, and that is a little extreme.  For me, I think having something warm to drink at work in the morning is more of a habit than an addiction (although I acknowledge the ridiculous headache I get if I skip coffee entirely), so I decided to try to switch to green tea.  My friend gave me a box of raspberry green tea, and I am now a convert.  With a teaspoon or so of honey, it is just heavenly.  That's not to say that I am giving up my coffe entirely...just at work.

3)  My favorite places to look for new recipes are Dinner:  A Love Story and  The New York Times Recipes for Health.  I have loved almost everything I have tried from these two sources, and both generally stick to whole foods as ingredients.  I really like that the Recipes for Health are organized by ingredient--makes menu planning and grocery shopping so much easier!

What are your favorite food things?
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