Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mommy says "No"

"No, no, no." "Mommy, says no." "What does Mommy say? - that's right --- No No No." "That can hurt you. Mommy doesn't want you to get hurt." "Put that down." "That's not for you." That's Mommy's keyboard and mouse." "No, no, no - that's hot!" "Ooooh, no, no -- Max's food is yucky."

Throw in a few hundred 'I love you's and 'are you hungry's and 'let's go change your diaper's and you have a pretty good run down of my daily utterances. (Oh - and "Dear God, please help." and "Hail Mary, full of grace..." come up fairly often, too.)

Some days when it seems like "no" comes out of my mouth more than any other word I fear that I'm being too negative. I re-direct. I re-word my command/request/sugguestion. I use "stop" instead of "no" in some cases. I save my stern tone for more serious situations (or try to, anyway.) But there's really no getting around the word, "no." I spit mouthfuls of them out daily.

Some of my mom friends and I were chatting about this subject not long ago and one mentioned that she heard that 90% of what toddlers should be hearing at this stage is "no." Whew. That relieved a little guilt - and hey, by those standards I ought to be considered a stellar Mom.

Strong willed, loving to push the envelope, uber-curious, sharp as a tack and cute as a button - together make for the perfect storm when trying to train a child.

Meet our little storm:

My husband and I figured out early on in the game, the raising our voices in order to control or correct our small child's behavior was, in our case, lazy parenting. There are certainly instances where a raised voice is not only appropriate, but necessary. But I've been in way too many households where yelling was the primary volume...and we just don't want to live like that.

People I see often say, "Oh, I bet she's so spoiled." -- which I'm ashamed to admit, offends me. If they're asking me: "Does my child get an abundance of love? Is she is showered with affection and attention?" Then, you better believe she's spoiled. And I've got no guilt about that. But sometimes I have a feeling the 'commenter' is not always wondering those things. I suspect they are assuming that my munchkin is the center of our universe and gets whatever she wants and has complete control of our household. In that case, absolutely not. Both my husband and I are on the same page (thank heavens) when it comes to this subject. I'm a fun and loving mom, but I'm tough...not in a mean way - but in a 'training my child' sort of way.

I don't want to give the impression that Gianna is "difficult." Overall, she's pleasant, delightful and oh-so much fun.

I just think she's asserting her independence a little on the early side which will hopefully sharpen our parenting skills for the years ahead.

All that to say, that's it's rough navigating the waters of parenting and child-training - trying to figure out what is best for each individual child. I found some resources regarding the subject, and I thought I'd share with anyone interested.

Have you heard of Dr Sears? He's a pediatrician, father of 8, author and parenting authority. He's on the conservative side and seams fairly balanced. There's an article on his site called, 18 Ways to Say "No" Positively?
The Baby Center has an article called The Discipline Tool Kit: Strategies for Every Age. There are some helpful reminders there.

Also, there is a recent article from TIME magazine about "The Growing Backlash against Overparenting." A refreshing perspective in response to some of the pressures of society to raise "super-kids."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank Heavens

I've stormed heaven many times for many years with many prayers. Today I stop - in the midst the blessings of all my answered (and unanswered) prayers - to give thanks:

For the precious husband for whom I waited my whole life.
For the glimpses of growth that I've witness in my own life and in my husbansd's.
For knowing that we are working toward becoming who we are called to be has been a marvelous (and sometimes painful) gift.
For a beautiful and strong marriage that has endured countless tests - marked by both scars and grace.
For and beautiful and strong (willed) daughter who brings brilliant sunshine into our every day and causes us to strive for better.
For my family who adores our sweet girl - and us - and offers abundant help and love at every turn.
For my puppy - who just may love me more than anyone on the planet.
For husband's job during these unstable economic times.
For the grace in seeing the gift in my "paycheck-less" job - even on the days when I question my sanity, purpose and value.
For my home, my handy husband's repair and refurbishing skills, my penny-pinching and creative style and the realization that I don't have to have a magazine cover home to exude beauty and hospitality.
For my faith, my mustard seed faith, and my continually renewed faith in a most gracious and loving Father.
For the amazing friendships God has brought into my life: some spanning decades, some brand-new, and some re-newed - bringing hope, love and blessing to my daily life.
* And Im still thankful for Tivo and not having to watch commercials.
So, thank you, Lord, for my life and the desire to please You with it.

Yesterday I traced Gianna's little hand to make the traditional little Thanksgiving turkey handprint. As I blog-hopped I found this adorable idea to make a turkey applique from little handprints. I did it in an hour and all with stuff I already had. FREE. I even had a little collared onesie that had a few marks on it that I couldn't remove. After she wears it, I think I may even take it apart and make a Thanksgiving placemat for next year.

I can't wait to put this little turkey on my little turkey today. I'll have to post pics of her later*.
*This is later:

Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

Looks like tryptophan hit in the van!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

Last time I made pumpkin pancakes, they were just pumpkin shaped. This time they are pumpkin flavored too. Thought I'd share:

2 c. Bisquick mix (I use the Heart Smart version)
2 tbsp. brown sugar (light)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice (You can substitute Pumpkin Pie spice.)
1 1/2 c. canned milk (I use fat-free evaporated milk.)
1/2 c. pumpkin
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Bake on hot griddle until browned.

You can even tint the batter with food coloring, and use a squeeze bottle or ziploc bag to make the perfect pumpkin shaped pankcake. (I'm hoping that with a little practice, mine will look less like peaches and more like pumpkins!) They really are yummy. Even the munchkin ate more than one.

* I made waffles with the leftover batter and they tasted fine but were kind of limp. Not sure if it was my mistake or if batter is just better for pancakes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Okay, so I'm not actually 'grounding' my 16 month old - but this titile might give you a better clue about what you're looking at in these pictures.

We have a really cool compost bin for the fantastic organic garden that we keep saying we're going to have "next season." (Compost and good intentions ought to make for a kickin' garden!) Anyway, coffee grounds are great for compost - so before I coud put them in the compost bin this morning, they sat in a Wal-mart bag on my very high counter.

Apparently, little Sticky Fingers Lewis mananaged to pull it down by her very determined reach...and she was intrigued and exctied to find such a gritty treasure.

And, yes, she gave it a taste. Yuck. She didn't seem at all disgusted and apparently the whole experience completely outweighed the actual taste and texture.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finished is better than Perfect (Photo Books)

Years ago when I attended my very first Creative Memories workshop (scrapbooking), one comment has resonated with me "Finished is Better than Perfect." To a recovering perfectionist, that is a serious statement. Having things "just so" and waiting for that "perfect" inspiration or the most innovative new tool - or waiting until I have a big enough block of time to do EVERYTHING at once....has all plagued me and provided enormous roadblocks in my creative life as well as my day to day life. Finished is Better than Perfect. That mantra has caused me much irritation but has subsequently lead me to all sorts of creative and personal liberation.

If I waited to create projects that turned out exactly as I hoped - I never would finish anything.  Two times during the creation of Gianna's Baby books, I completely lost over fifty separate pages of work.  The first time it happened, I melted down into a puddle of pitiful woe.  My husband came to the rescue and found some of the work - but it was in a compromised form.  I finally got okay with it, lamented the wasted hours, and made a plan to avoid such a castrophe in the future.  Problem:  I did the very same thing on this last book.  Lost the whole flippin' thing - none of which was retrievable.  Rotten, stinkin' luck.

I have to say that I was SO proud of myself regarding my respeonse to the last bit of misfortune. No tears - no drama - just started from scratch hoping my creative juices would keep pumping enough to cross that finish line.  That's a big deal for me...and a pretty good life lesson in a rather unimportant niche of my life.  Hopefully I will translate the lesson I learned to the rest of the areas of my life.  Achieving perfectionism is another way of controlling life.  I'm pretty sure one of my biggest lessons is having to learn, "Ultimately, there is very little in this world over which I have control." And one of the few things I DO have control over is how I react and respond to the challenges life brings.

So, here are my final attempts at the munchkin's Baby Books.  Not at all what I imagined them to be --- but FINISHED!  Happy to have them all in one place.

The books I've already posted:
Baby Book First Year - Volume I

Baby book First Year - Volume II

Baby Book - First Year, Volume III

Baby Book - First Year, Volume IV

First Birthday

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweet Baby Joseph

Sweet Baby Joseph was born to my dear friends, Lisa and Reid, last week.

Yesterday, Gianna and I took a road trip to New Roads to celebrate this precious miracle and get in a little Baby Lovin'. Oh man, that's some tiny, soft, sweet baby perfection. Nine days old - scarcely 7 pounds and you can still detect that faint scent of heaven on him. Yum.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Joseph's big sister, Lilliana, is 9 and big brother, Matthew is 8. Lilliana could not contain her joy when she laid eyes on baby Joseph for the first time:

Joy in the form of big, beautiful tears. That's holy water, if you ask me.
I cry ever time I see that picture.

This little family is one of the holiest families I know...always seeking God's will in their lives.

 I just LOVE the fact that this new baby was as planned for and prayed for as their first - even with mom and dad in their 40's. I've mentioned before how much I love sharing the parenting journey with so many of my young mom friends. I'm equally as thrilled to be on the baby train with some of my more "seasoned" compadres! It's so nice to know I'm not the only one beginning this journey at this stage in the game.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Party Pooped

We were officially 'party pooped' after last weekend.
Sweet little Luke turns one tomorrow and we went to his party this past Sunday. (Just a day after Savannah's party.)

Two separate one year old birthday parties back to back: think there's a connection to my child's challenging behavior?

It sure doesn't take much to entertain her.

Luke lives out in the county - and they've got beautiful animals out there.

This DELIGHTED Gianna.

Watching horses run is just magical.

Luke's cousin, Catherine, played with Gianna so Mommy and Daddy could actually sit down and eat and visit.  She was wonderful with her and Gianna had a ball.  We asked Catherine's mom if she might consider loaning her out.  She said, "No dice!" ;)

The Elmo cake was made by the bakery at Sam's.  Adorable AND affordable. Can't go wrong there.

And I'm so happy they now make Pinatas with the ribbon pulls, so we're not encouraging little ones to beat the tar out of their favorite cartoon characters.

Happy Birthday, Lil Man Luke.  We love you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jekyll and Hyde

Um.....I have a question:

Man, what's up with my munchkin?  Last couple of days she's just not herself. Pretty sure it's not physical...although I never really know when new teeth are coming (I usually only figure it out after they appear.)  Every now and then, my mild-mannered, funny, sunshiny little girl morphs into a fussy little whiny, weepy, clingy, cantankerous creature. And sometimes she goes back and forth between the two within moments. 

She plum wore me out today with her volleying between Jekyll and Hyde.  It's really quite amazing to watch those little wheels turning in the pretty little head of hers.  She finds things that she knows is wrong and will do them right in front of me just to watch my reaction.  Sometimes I feel like I handle the challenge well and sometimes I feel like I'm failing miserably. I guess that's ebb and flow of parenting.

These little episodes seem to arise unexpectedly and disappear the same way. I'm happily awaiting the disappearance of this one.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Princess Party

We were invited to the 1st Birthday Party of a new little friend of ours, Savannah. 

She's actually a friend of a friend and they were kind enough to extend the invitation to us.

Gianna and I headed over to Oogles n Googles today for the Princess themed party. Can I just say, "Holy Cannoli!"  Apparently, Oogles n Googles is a franchise party place that takes care of A to Z for your party planning needs.

They typically do parties for kidlets who are 3 yrs and older, but today was their first One Year Old party.

My head is STILL spinning.  There were a lot of pre-schoolers and elementary aged kids in addition to toddlers and babies....must've been about 65 people (felt like 165!) They sorta catered to the older kids (understandably so) and did arts and crafts,

 dress up for the girls (princesses) and boys (knights) - {they opted out of make-up since they had to take pics of all the kids individually -- thank heavens!},
games, scavenger hunt, birthday cake, gifts, etc.

You can imagine how I spent my time -- chasing, wrangling, coralling, re-directing, saying 'excuse us' etc.
Parenting, in other words. ;)

I wish I would have taken a picture of all the gifts sweet Savannah got. Geez...the girl got some serious loot. One of the memorable comments I heard as gifts were opened was,
"Wow, has Savannah ever worn an outfit twice?" 
The mom shook her head.
The dad's response: "Yeah, her pajamas." 
Wow, I think maybe she really IS a princess. :)

Oh - and check out this princess cake:

Princess or not, the sweet birthday girl melted down half way through and she wasn't the only one.  I'm guessing that as overstimulated as I was, those little tiny ones must have been reeling.

This sweet little princess above managed to still my sweet little bulldozer dressed as a princess for a quick pic.
I'm so glad she did. They are so precious together. They almost look like sisters.
Well, the princess party managed tot fill up our afternoon, allowed Daddy to get some yardwork done, and effectively wore us all out. 
Now we just have to gear up for little man Luke's first birthday party tomorrow. Whew.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bit by bit...

"Bit by bit, putting it together...
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just the vision's no solution,
Everything depends on execution,
Putting it together, that's what counts."
— Stephen Sondheim (Sunday in the Park with George)

Gotta love a good Sondheim hit. 

Making memories is going to the park with friends.
Recording memories is a little more challenging and time consuming but, bit by bit I'm putting it together:  memories into photo books.

Here's Gianna's First Year - Volume II:

For Gianna's First Year - Volume I - CLICK HERE

Monday, November 09, 2009

When Daddy comes home...

When Daddy comes home - it's Happy Hour in our house!  I'm not sure who is most excited.  Daddy? Gianna?  Max? or Mommy? (Most days, I'd have to vote: Mommy.) 

Sometimes, Daddy finds us on the floor when he gets home and he comes down to join us.
On this day, Gianna was super excited to play with her Daddy.  He's the best playground around.
The Approach

The Mount

The Lean

The Hug

The Adoration
(both ways)

I sure love those two.

Friday, November 06, 2009

From a Picnic to Picnik

I just discovered Picnik as I was perusing through some photography blogs this morning.  It's a photo-editing site that you can play around with for free.  Apparently they also have an upgraded service that has a fee, but you can do a whole lot with the free version.

I posted this picture of Gianna yesterday at our Picnic in the Park:

Then I tinkered around in Picnik for two minutes - tops - not sure exactly what I was doing.
Here's the same picture.  Much warmer and crisper.

As much as I appreciate Photoshop Elements which is what I use most often, this is SO much simpler and with great results.  You don't have to download anything or even register.
Go play around with Picnik and post before and afters.
Nothin' like a good Picnik!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Picture Perfect Picnic in the Park

I have such an affection for alliteration.
We took our sweet friend, Jessie, to the park for a picnic lunch and visit.
 Jessie is the one who wrote Gianna's Song for her birthday and whose dollhouse we are privileged to be borrowing.
As much as she enjoyed climbing around the playground equipment....
and discovering all sorts of cool nooks and crannies,
...and cruising down the slide with Jessie -
and as much as she LOVES "wee-ing" on the swing...
It seems like the simpler things caught her fancy.
Like hugging a tree.
And collecting pinecones while snacking on acorns (or trying to.)
And what gave her the most pleasure....
Was roaming free...wherever she wanted,
as fast as she could.
Simply sublime.
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