Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nostalgic Bites

I hosted book club last week, and while the hostess is the one who looks after beverages, while everyone else brings snacks (yes, EVERYONE else brings snacks; one more reason book club night is one of the best nights of the month!), I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to make some cookies I had pulled from the recipe book Mom made me.

So Thursday was a baking day, and I made my Grandma's Butter Cookies, and Auntie Joan's Pecan Puffs.  Mmmm.  So good.  I think I may have gained a few pounds since then.  And the fact that they remind me of my childhood is just as good, I think. That part is thankfully calorie free.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Levels of Friendships

I have a friend who opens her home weekly for a playdate; other moms and their kids come regularly and fill the house with laughter, cries of "Mine!", toys, and muffin crumbs.  She cancelled the other week just to give herself some space, and now has moved to having it every other week instead of weekly.

I admire her desire to connect with these other ladies, and to provide the social outlet for her kids.  She commented to me, though, that while it has been good, she finds herself limited in the time she can spend with other people; as a mom to 3 little ones, she only has so much time to socialize.  While the playdate makes sense to maximize on that, it also makes for shallower conversations, and may not include the people she has a deeper desire to spend time with.

So - a good thing taking place of the best thing, maybe?  I think her decision to cut back is a wise one, and I wish her the best in discovering who her heart longs to connect with, and the time to do that.

What about you?  Are the people you spend time with the ones you have decided are the ones that are most important to you?  Or are they the ones who you just default to because you have kids or programs in common?

Can I challenge you to think about who your most important relationships are with?  Do you have two or three people that build you up and that you really enjoy?  Do you have two or three people that you know you can (or should be) influencing?  Does your schedule show that you have time set aside to build these relationships?

After that conversation with my friend, and because I have chosen 'Relationship' as my word that I'm going to focus on this year, I sat down and thought through my relationships.  I wrote down seven names of people that I want to make time for, and intentionally connect with.  I have friends who are not on that list; they are important to me and I would not turn down a chance to spend time with them, but for these seven, I want to ask myself weekly, "In what way have you connected?"  Some I don't see too often because we live too far apart, but even a quick text to say I'm thinking of them counts for something.

Tell me:  Do you have a chosen few?

May you be intentional about setting aside good for best, and may you connect today with someone who leaves your heart smiling.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sleep Decisions

Sean is away for 5 nights in March, so I am deciding whether to sleep train Nolan that week in the hopes of getting him to sleep through the night.  Right now (when he's not bothered by teeth!) he wakes three times a night; when we go to bed, and roughly 2 and 4.  I go in at first peep (well, when I can tell that it's a sitting up awake noise, not a in-his-sleep noise), nurse him and put him back in his crib. 

The reasons why I wouldn't do anything:
  • he hardly wakes up so it's easy to put him right back in his crib (usually - sometimes he sits right back up again and I pick him up for a few more minutes and try again)
  • it doesn't affect my overall sleep too much
  • and honestly, I enjoy holding the sleeping baby and know it won't last forever

The reasons I'm considering it:
  • Sean is a light sleeper and wakes multiple times a night either to Nolan or to me coming or going.  
  • I believe Nolan could sleep through the night and just needs a chance to try it.  
  • I would do better on a fuller night's sleep, you know, managing emotions and all that...  

Other Considerations:
  • Sean doesn't like the idea of letting him cry it out, so we're researching other methods.  
  • The goal I'd like to see is to have him better able to self-soothe & get to sleep on his own; for naps half the time he does and the other half he falls asleep nursing.  For bedtime, I pretty much always tack on another feed at the end of our routine so he can fall asleep nursing.
  • My plan is to start now with naps and always put him down awake, rather than letting him fall asleep nursing.  I imagine there will be some crying, but we'll see how it goes.  When Sean is gone, maybe I'll try that at bedtime, too.  As far as when he wakes in the night... that's to be determined.  Ideally, once he can put himself to sleep, when he wakes in the night, he'll just go back to sleep on his own.
  • There's the whole issue of weaning tied up in there, too.  I imagine once he no longer nurses, he might no longer wake.  ??Maybe??  And I am happy to have him nurse for a while longer yet; no rush for that.  As it is, he only nurses a couple times during the day now anyway.

Like I said, Sean is going away for 5 days in March - that's the main reason these decisions have come up now...  I'd love it if you'd weigh in with your thoughts and opinions and stories of sleeping through the night / sleep training / weaning...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

13 Months!

Nolan is a year and a month as of yesterday, the 19th.  Not 19 months as has come out of my mouth every time someone asks how old he is lately.  (Which reminds me of the 1:30 doctor's appointment I missed last month - on Tuesday the 22nd - because I thought it was - you guessed it - at 2.)

Nolan at 13 months has decided that he only needs one nap a day.  Quite suddenly last Monday he fussed away his morning and only went down in the afternoon, and every day since then he has not been ready to sleep till late morning or noon.  He's down for 2 or 2 1/2 hours then up till bedtime without too much fussing.  I guess we have stepped over another milestone!

This one's for you, Nicole!!

He's got a bit of a cold right now, but I think the teeth are the primary problem that are keeping him up at night.  He's got his bottom two molars through fine, now there's one top molar and one top incisor making their painful way through.  I'm not counting how many times I get up (and not really minding the middle of the night snuggles, truthfully), but I may have spent more time in the chair in his room than in my bed over the last 3 nights.

What else can I tell you?  He climbs, runs, dances, spends about 4 minutes in his bath before he's done & wants up.  He gives great strong hugs, open mouth kisses, and loves rubbing babies heads.  He likes M's bop-it toy, pulling big-kid games off the shelf, and my machines: he pushes buttons, turns knobs and pulls out thread on my cricut, serger and sewing machines.  He likes the washer and dryer and being carried down the stairs in the full laundry basket.

Spaceman Nolan

He loves the kitchen and wants to see what is on the stove and in the oven when things get stirred or checked, loves when the buttons are pushed and timer set and numbers flash and buzzers go off.  His most played with toys by far are the pots and pans, which will need replacing someday because of how his lid-banging has chewed up the edges.  He is starting to be interested in using a spoon and fork...

He has a bit of a temper that we are working on heading off now - it's hard to express your displeasure properly without being taught that hitting and crying aren't the best way.

He likes being outside playing in the snow.  We did that a few times last week when it was warmer out; he doesn't mind the chill and gets a kick out of pushing the snow around and riding on the sled.

He likes music and stops to dance when you first turn it on.  We listen to his Sunday School Sing-Along CDs in his bedroom and the kids music channel on the TV in the basement.

He enjoys books and his favorites are:
  • Give me Grace, a book of daily prayers that he got from Auntie Jen & Uncle Clayton for his dedication (we read it multiple times a day)
  • A couple with cutouts that he can put his hands through from Auntie Jen and Uncle Kevin for his birthday
  • Big Red Barn is a perfect bedtime one (from Auntie Lynsey and Uncle Sheldon)
  • Hug, which I got him for Christmas and loved so much that I got another two copies to give as 'thanks for coming to my party' gifts for his birthday.

That's our boy in a snapshot - very much enjoyed.  You are all welcome to come for coffee and enjoy him, too.  :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy February!

Happy Valentine's, Happy Long Weekend, Happy Saturday with nothing on...  It's a beautiful sunny day, the house is quiet with the little one napping and everyone taking their 'me' time.  Sean had to go in to work for a couple of hours this morning and I had to make sure I was home at lunchtime for someone to come buy some magic bags, but there's no soccer or anything else scheduled today so it feels so relaxed.

Our Valentine's Day was nice.  M took cards to school for everyone; her last time, since she'll be in high school next year.  As it was, only 2 kids in her class took them.  We found some awesome free printable Star Wars ones online; I got them printed at Staples and picked up the glow stick light sabers at Michaels.  So fun.  I had Nolan scribble with markers on cardstock then cut out Valentines for M and Dad from it.  I made Valentines out of my scrapbooking paper for the kids and a little book for Sean; I am part of an online small group (through (in)courage) and in November we wrote out one thing each day that we are thankful for our husbands for.  I hadn't shared that with him yet, but put it all in a little book now for a special Valentine.  He came home with beautiful roses, and then after N went to bed we ducked out for a little dessert date ON OUR OWN!  Sad to say those have been on hold while little one is so attached.  But it was an uneventful hour for M at home with him, and a nice date night for us.

I didn't clue into the fact that it was a long weekend until yesterday; it will be great to have Daddy and M home with N and I on Monday.  Maybe we'll all go outside and play in the snow together, since N is having fun doing that this week.  Or there is "Lattes and Bouncy Castles" at the church from 10-2; if it works out with nap time we might take that in.  Speaking of nap time, it looks like today will be day 6 in a row that N has only had one nap.  Boom, he just got big.  And I found 2 more teeth today, up top.  It's dangerous checking in there.

And now it's bedtime... we went out shopping for boots for Nolan, then hit the snow out back, all 4 of us in our ski pants and ready to play.  Got some good smiles and laughs from the boy when Dad took him sledding down the little hill - awesome.  Two more days of weekend.  Looking forward to them & loving my family.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shop Update!

Just a quick note to say that I've finally got my shop updated with all the stuff I have on hand right now.  Have a look!  There are magic bags, coffee cozies, bean bags, baby tag toys, and magnets.  I will also do aprons to order.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Marriage Advice

One of the things I would like to aim to do is read one marriage book and one parenting book per year.  Each year you will be facing different issues in those relationships (especially the parent-child one as they keep growing!) and you might find helpful advice or practical suggestions for those specific areas.  Getting a fresh perspective and taking the time to actually focus on how you can better those relationships is never a waste of time, even if it is not to fix a specific problem.

I just finished a book called Love Busters by Willard F Harley Jr that was recommended by my mother-in-law.  I didn't find it to be a fantastic read simply because most of what he was addressing were not issues for us, but of course good to be aware of.  What I did find interesting, because I like to think in pictures, was his idea of each person having a love account, like a bank account, with us.  As they do things that we appreciate, or that make us feel loved, they are 'depositing love units' into their account.  As they do things that annoy us or disrespect us, they are 'making withdrawals'.  The more love units, the more in love you feel, the fewer there are, the less you feel in love.  Interesting.

For your consideration today I thought I'd share just the main points of his books.  Give you something to mull over if you are so inclined.

This guy is also the author of His Needs Her Needs, which he sums up in the back chapters of this book, and which by meeting, you will be building up your account.  Everyone's mix of their top needs may be different, but these are the most common:

His Needs:
  • Sexual Fulfillment
  • Recreational Companionship
  • Physical Attractiveness
  • Domestic Support
  • Admiration

Her Needs:
  • Affection
  • Conversation
  • Honesty & Openness
  • Financial Support
  • Family Commitment

The top Love Busters that drain those accounts are:
  • Selfish Demands
  • Disrespectful Judgements
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Dishonesty
  • Annoying Habits
  • Independent Behavior

May you have a wonderful Wednesday, and may all your accounts be full.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Domestic Confessions

Confession:  I can probably count on one hand how many times in my life I have cleaned an oven.

Last week I did not have a choice - if I wanted to get any more use out of the thing, I had to get rid of the charred mess on the bottom from the apple pie overflow.  Yes, apple pie.  Domestic me.  At least we got one meal of ordered-in pizza after I turned the oven on for dinner and almost smoked us out of the house because I forgot about the mess on the oven floor from the night before.  So off to the internet I went, and low and behold, baking soda was the winner in the battle against the oven grime.  Did you know this?  Of course you did.  No spray on chemicals, no toxic self-cleaner.

First, I sprinkled it all over the bottom, spritzed it with water, and left it for a few hours.  Awesome results just like that, except for the worst of it, and except for the sides...  The next step was to make a paste with baking soda and vinegar, and smear that on the sides and bottom.  That got it all, including the grates, except for the door window.  Have to do a little more research for that bit, I guess.  And I didn't take before and after pictures.  Just know that I impressed myself.

Confession:  I just learned what a crumb coat was.

I was looking around online to get cake ideas for Nolan's birthday, and came across a post that walked you through decorating a cake, including the 'indispensable' crumb coat.  The crumb coat is a layer of thinned icing (add a bit of water to it), which, when dry, protects the cake from crumbling while you are icing it, making a mess of your nice clean icing.

It mostly worked.  I think it needs to stay chilled; the second car was rather room temperature when I finally got to it, so did get a bit messy.  I don't claim to be a big cake decorator, but I sure got a kick out of how these turned out.

I am not completely domestically challenged, really.  Sometimes I even come up with winners on my own.  Like this one, which got a "I would totally pin that!"  That's some high praise right there.

This tip comes courtesy of simple problem solving skills.  The situation was this:  My Mom had picked me up some Silpat baking sheets (read: no more burnt cookies).  The problem was that they were bigger than my cookie sheets, and aren't effective unless they are laying flat.  I also have some stoneware for the same purpose, so while they are bigger pans, it's kind of redundant.  I had a brainwave the other day, flipped my cookie sheets over, and look at that:

Perfect.  Feel free to pin that baby up.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Beauty in Buttons

Nolan and I have been playing this past week with little things: first, the beans I was using to fill beanbags, then the little stones in the tray surrounding the candle that I was moving downstairs because surprise, now he can reach the centerpiece on the big coffee table, then yesterday, we were into the buttons.

It's so cool to see him taking in new sensory experiences, and to see his fine motor skills developing.  Some of the buttons had come from a little jar, and he was holding that and putting the buttons in it.

The buttons we were playing with were the ones from Mom's stash that she passed on to me when she gave me my sewing machine, so there are a lot of fun vintage ones in there.  I kept seeing new ones, and seeing patterns; I wondered about who designed them...  Surprising - and not at the same time - to find beauty in little things like that.