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Thursday, September 30, 2010

F-A-T

My mother was easily 150 pounds or more overweight my whole life.

Her weight was never an issue in our house growing up, in that it was never ever discussed. Yes, we were one of those families. No one monitored what was consumed, asked any questions or made any snide remarks.

Growing up, meals were "normal"... a meat, a starch and a vegetable. There wasn't a lot of desserts, but we had a lot of homemade cookies, of the chocolate chip variety laying around. I don't recall ever thinking my mother was eating more than she should.

Since my mother's weight was never an issue at home, I was never embarrassed by her appearance. I do, however, remember feeling bad for her when she would get winded walking up a flight of stairs. I remember wondering how she would fit in a certain sized chair or a seat on an airplane. I never bought her a single article of clothing because I never knew her actual size.

Once while we were on vacation, my mother lost her balance and fell down five or six stairs. She had cuts and bruises all over her face, arms and legs for weeks. Fortunately, she didn't break anything, but we were in the middle of the jungle in Madagascar, a 10-12 hour drive from the nearest city and she had to be flown back to our hotel and wait for my dad, sister and me to return the following day. That incident broke my heart.

My mother was an elementary school teacher, the smartest woman I ever knew and always carried herself with ease, dressing appropriately for her size. She wore a lot of primary colors and fun holiday-themed jewelery "for her third graders", she always said. Even though she was heavy, she never "let herself go" and always wore a stylish hair cut and nail polish on her finger and toe nails.

I have seen photos of my mother before I was born and she wasn't always big. In fact, she had a very slender frame until the Summer of 1972.

I still have no idea why she was overweight and unfortunately, I never will. She passed away in 2007 from unrelated causes.

I always thought, and she may have eluded to it ONE time, it was because she gained so/too much while pregnant with me, which made me fearful that the same thing would happen to me when I was pregnant. Some women take the "eating for two" literally and don't take necessary precautions to nourish their babies as well as themselves in healthy and safe ways. I believe my mother was one of these women.

I know firsthand now how difficult it is to lose whatever baby weight is gained during those joyous nine months, especially with a brand new baby in tow. I am still struggling with five-eight pesky pounds myself.

In spite of or because of my mother I have never been overweight. Weight may be hereditary, but I just don't think I could ever let myself get to that point. The point of being fat. On the other hand, I wouldn't know what the worst diet is because I have never been on a diet. I guess I tried the Atkins Diet once for about 3 days, but who can live without bread?

Since I was in college, I have chosen to take responsibility for my weight gain and loss by exercising regularly. I keep a Excel spreadsheet of every mile I walk and calorie I burn on the StairMaster, Elliptical machine or stationary bike. I exercise so that I can eat the way I do and luckily for me, I enjoy sweating. I can’t imagine feeling healthy or happy without an hour at the gym several days a week.

I know where my problem areas are and try to work with them or camouflage them when necessary. I have sizes 6 through 12 in my closet and like everyone else, I have good days and fat days.

I LOVE to eat, but don't gorge myself. I feel that I eat for sustenance and not just for the mere pleasure of it, unless of course it's Trader Joe's chocolate cover peanut butter cups or a glass or three of wine. I eat three square meals a day, rarely snack and consider myself a carb addict (hence the reason the Atkins Diet didn't last long).

When it comes to my relationship with my body, food and exercise, I always think about my mother. I think, I don't want to be 100+ pounds overweight. I want to live a long healthy life and I want to look good in my skinny jeans. And now, more than ever, getting and staying in shape is not just for me, but my son too.

This post is for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop - Prompt #1 Describe the worst diet you ever put yourself on.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Know You're A Mom When-sDaze

You know you're a mom when...
  • As soon as you paint your finger nails, your child wakes up from a nap. Grrr...
  • If left to his own devices, your tot would sit in front of the television all. day. long.
  • You rejoiced the day your child tried a vegetable for the umpteenth time and not only liked it, asked for more!
  • Your kid has had a melt down at a restaurant, so you packaged up the entire meal to-go and downed a full glass of wine in one gulp quicker than you could say "check, please!"
  • No matter how high you put things in your home, your child finds a way to get them anyway.
  • You can't go anywhere and see older children without thinking, "we'll be there soon enough"... or younger children and think, "aw, I remember when...".
  • Based on the crankiness level of your child, you can tell when any given situation is going to go completely south and must be aborted immediately.
  • Your heart melts every time you see that sweet innocent smile even if the body it's attached to is up to no good.
Be sure to link up with your own list at Mommy of a Monster.

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What's The Trouble Bubble?

No trouble here! Your aunt Leah gave you a bubble machine last week and you love it.

This post is for Wordless Wednesdays and if you want to link up or see some really beautiful photographs, visit Alicia at A Beautiful Mess.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seattle

My mother was born in Seattle in 1948, but didn't live there very long before moving to Texas, D.C. and then around the world. I wish I knew more about her life there and where exactly she lived.

I had never been to the "Emerald City" until March of 2002. I spent a long weekend visiting my dear and heartbroken friend, Sarah. Shortly after moving to Washington from Arizona, she and her then fiance had just broken off their engagement. It was a rainy, deary and sad trip. I was immensely proud of my friend for staying in a new city, making new friends and finding a new job, especially given all the rain the Northwest gets. So much rain that I never cared to return.

Never say never.

I now have nothing but kind words for a city that has made it's way on my short list of favorite cities in the U.S.

I just returned from a fabulous weekend in Seattle. From the famed Pike Place Market overlooking Elliot Bay with it's fresh fish, flowers, fruits and vegetables to the Space Needle and birth place of Jimi Hendrix and grunge music, I have nothing but kind words for a city that is now on my short list of favorite cities in the U.S.

The main reason for my trip was to celebrate Sarah and her new fiance, Chris at an engagement party hosted by her wonderful friends (some of Sarah's same friends that I met eight years ago).

Another highlight was seeing an old friend from junior high school! 22 years later and we picked up right where we left off. I love it when that happens. To me, it is the definition of true friendship. My visit with Siobhain did wonders for my soul.

Next summer, we will return as a family when we attend Sarah and Chris' wedding.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the weekend:


By the way, it did rain on Sunday.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Flying Solo

Lucas and I have been on 10 solo journeys together that involved airports, airplanes and lots of gear. Last weekend I went to Seattle to attend my good friend, Sarah's engagement party (more on that in another post) and I went alone!

I haven't traveled without a child in SO long.

Here are some of my childless travel observations:
  • I actually dressed up for my flight and by "dressing up" I mean that I wore real shoes instead of flip flops and my "good" jeans.
  • I checked my suitcase so that I could walk on the plane carrying only a reasonably sized purse.
  • There wasn't any struggling with a stroller, squirmy child, two pairs of shoes, diaper bag or waiting for FAA to "test" bottles of formula when going through security.
  • I took the stairs whenever possible instead of elevators.
  • I didn't have to walk around the terminal trying to tire out someone by looking at airplanes, other children or anything else.
  • I bought and read an entire issue of People magazine and completed the crossword puzzle.
  • I'm sure it'll be days before I get to crack it open again, but I read 100 pages of a new book (Little Bee by Chris Cleave) while on board.
  • There were no beads of sweat collecting on my brow because I wasn't accompanied by someone prone to get overly loud or have meltdowns at 37,000 feet.
  • The last thing on my mind on the layover and hour delay on the way home was running out of diapers.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the airport newsstand and waiting in a long line to use the bathroom in peace.
  • On the flight home I took a much needed uninterrupted nap.
  • I loved waltzing off the aircraft without having to wait for the ground crew to bring me our stroller
  • I appreciated the time away, but missed my little travel buddy and look forward to our next adventure together.

I am glad to be home.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

In The Nick Of Time

Even after 15 months, I feel as though I am STILL struggling with motherhood and I wonder how long it will take until I'm completely comfortable with my (not so) new role.

Some days, I just don't want to do it.

Motherhood is NOT for the weak. It's exhausting, frustrating, irritating, annoying and aggravating.

Between the messes, tantrums, not being able to fully communicate with one another and the unpredictable schedule,
some days I don't know how I am going to make it through and this is just the beginning.

I have plenty of help and support from my husband, family and friends, but I am fighting demons and being pushed and pulled in ways I never thought I could or would be.

I am the least patient person I know and parenthood is ALL about patience. It's also about sacrifice. I don't know really know how to explain it, other than to say: I'm selfish.
I'm selfish with my time, my space, my energy and when you become a mom, there really is no room for selfishness. None.

I was raised as an only child until I was almost 12 years old and even then, once my little sister arrived we were at such different phases of our lives, that I might as well still been an only child.

I was used to getting my way, being heard, being in control and having everything "just so". All that goes right out the window when you have a child. It's no longer all about me.

I became a mother just in the nick of time. It was time for something really big to shake me up, wake me up and take me so far out of my comfort zone that I'd feel alive with emotion. Motherhood has turned my world upside down and leaves me asking for more. Motherhood has been the single best thing that has ever happened to me. I have never loved anything or anyone more in my life and as much as I fight it, I welcome the challenges and internal turmoil that it has brought my life. Now, if I could just learn to accept it.


When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. - Lao Tzu

The best is yet to be.


This post is for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop - Prompt #2 Tell us about a day you were sure you wouldn't get through.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My - Not So - Dream Car

This post is part of my homework for Week 2 of Kludgy Mom's Back to School/Back to Blogging workshop. I chose the Idea Bank writing prompt: My First Car, which was suggested by Cheryl at Scrubby Brush.

In Spring of 1993, my last living grandparent, my mother's mother passed away. With the inheritance that my mother received, she and my father paid off their stateside home in Arizona, what little debt they had, my entire college tuition and offered to buy me my very first car.

I was told I could spend $20,000 and that I could get anything I wanted and I had three months to figure it out. A young person's ultimate dream, right?

I started test driving everything... the Toyota Paseo, Saturns, a Ford Mustang, the Nissan Sentra, a Honda CRX, an Isuzu Rodeo, the Acura Intega and the only car I really had my heart set on: the all new, completely redesigned and adorable Volkswagen Carbio convertible.
The car that Cindy Mancini drives in Can't Buy Me Love.

The car made for a college girl.

The car that was fun to drive, super cute and had side impact airbags.

And. It came in the most beautiful shade of navy blue. My favorite color! It also had automatic transmission and a CD player.

I poured over the glossy brochure, visited the Volkswagen dealership so many times that you would have thought I worked there and test drove over and over, each time falling deeper and deeper in love.

I enjoyed the way the air hit my face and messed up my hair when the top was down and how quiet it was when the top was up. I wanted this car so badly and was so proud of myself for doing my research, getting to know all the other cars in my price range and staying under budget.

My dream almost became a reality...

In June of 1994, my parents returned to Arizona from Mozambique for their summer break and it was time to go car shopping.

I had to, with the help of the car salesman, convince my parents of the safety features. They were deeply concerned (as they should have been) about the fact that my dream car was a convertible. This turned out not to be as hard as I thought it was going to be and so came time for the negotiations.

I will never forget sitting in the showroom going over the price of the car thinking, "I'm going to get this car. Oh my God, I'm going to get this car!", when the inevitable and dreadful "let me take this figure to my manger" moment came up. This went a few rounds and no one was budging.

T
he color I wanted wasn't on the lot and would have to be ordered. The salesman said that it would require an $800 deposit. My dad wrote a check and handed to the salesman, I would like to believe in an effort to show his good faith and as a last ditch effort to get the dealership to come down on their price, which was below $20,000. To make a long story short(er), the manger said "no", the check was ripped up and we left the dealership.

I was not going to get the car. I was devastated!

A couple of days later my dad had his own car, a Buick Regal serviced. He and my mother were just days away from returning overseas where they lived and worked as educators for nine months out of the year. They had their car detailed and prepared for the long months it sat on blocks in the garage.

My dad came home singing the praises of a saleswomen he had met that day at Royal Buick and a car that she had on the lot that he thought I might like.

A Buick? Really? Old people drive Buick's. You and mom drive a Buick.

No, this was very hip he told me. It's a Skylark and it fits all your criteria.

My what?

1) Navy blue
2) Automatic
3) Room for four
4) CD player
5) And while it's not a convertible, it has a sunroof.

He was right.

And the clincher? 6) If you get this car, your mom and I will pay for your car insurance for a year.

Fine.
Car shopping was exhausting and I didn't have it in me to start all over, plus my parents were never going to leave me the money to carry out this project on my own and they wouldn't be home again until December.

Done.

I hated that car from the minute I started driving it. It was exactly what I didn't want. It wasn't hip or cute in any way. It was a Buick. My friends all made fun of me, but I drove everyone everywhere and in the end, I learned to appreciate it. After all, who was I to complain? It was paid for, brand new and it got me from point A to B and back again hundreds of times for five years. I have a lot of good memories in that car. Then my sister totaled it.
I really wish that I had asked my dad if he got free oil changes and/or car washes for life after buying me the Skylark. He had to have gotten some sort of kick back, right?

Years later, I finally did get a Volkswagen. A Passat. I have owned three cars since then, but the Passat was my favorite.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Know You're A Mom When-sDaze

You know you're a mom when...
  • Your carpets look worse than ever.
  • You run up and down the stairs so many times a day it should be considered a cardio workout.
  • You know the difference between a jogger, "mall" and travel/umbrella stroller.
  • Every single time you turn around, there is another mess to pick up, clean up or step over.
  • You think everyone (including yourself) drives too fast, doesn't say 'please', 'thank you' or 'excuse me' enough.
  • You know that there is nothing more peaceful than a sleeping baby in your arms or the smell of their sweet sweet baby breath.
Check out what makes other moms moms at Mommy of a Monster.

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Daddy's Home!

Lucas' dad travels a lot for work and rarely for fun. Last weekend he went to Reno with some college friends to attend a Cal Bears football game. Unfortunately, his alma mater lost, but he was a big winner when he got home.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Rainbow Ribbon Cake - Tasty Tuesdays 2

Sunday, my Mommy & Me group celebrated our one year anniversary and I offered to bring dessert.

What was I thinking?

I don't cook, but I do enjoy baking from time to time, especially with short cuts.

I assisted my good friend Colleen when she made this cake a couple of years ago for another girlfriend's birthday and it's super easy, super cute and super delicious.

Thanks for sharing the recipe, Colleen!

Rainbow Ribbon Cake
From Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee

Ingredients

For the cake:
1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup canola oil
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon each flavored gelatin: lemon, orange, cherry, grape, lime, and blue raspberry
2 cups boiling water
For decoration:
1 (12-ounce) cans white whipped icing (recipe calls for 2 cans, but 1 was plenty).
Recipe calls for colored decorating icing (yellow, orange, red, purple, green and blue), but I just kept the top of the cake white and used multi-colored sprinkles on the sides.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, water, oil, egg whites, and vanilla on low speed using an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl using spatula and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Divide batter into the prepared pans evenly and bake in the oven for 32 to 36 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before turning over onto wire racks to cool completely. Trim off the tops of the cakes, to make a smooth surface.
Place 1 tablespoon of each flavor of gelatin in separate small bowls. Stir 1/3 cup boiling water into each and stir until dissolved. On the trimmed sides of the cakes, splash the different gelatin all over the cakes. Cover cakes, separately, with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours. I refrigerated mine overnight and it was fine.
Remove cakes from refrigerator. Unwrap the cakes and place 1 cake on a plate or stand and spread white icing evenly on top. Place the second cake on top and finish icing cake, top and sides with the white icing.

*If you decide to use multiple colors of icing, randomly place big dollops of the colored decorating icing all over the iced cake. Using a small spatula, swirl the dollops together to create a tie-dye/rainbow effect on the cake. Otherwise, gently use hands to cover sides with rainbow sprinkles as shown in photo.
Enjoy!!
This post is for Alicia's (A Beautiful Mess) Tasty Tuesdays. Be sure to go check out what some real cooks are up to.

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24/7 Help Line

When it comes to raising a child and life decisions in general, I don't know about you, but I'm growing tired of trusting my instincts, going with my gut, trial and error, lists of pros and cons and not knowing.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a service that would provide all the answers we seek?

Should we move?
Should we stay?
How can I help my friend/sister/nephew/cousin?
Will this venture be a success?
Is he/she The One?
Can this marriage be saved?
When is the right time to have a baby?
When is the right time to have another baby?
Will this be a successful pregnancy?
Will it be a boy or a girl?
When will I stop feeling so sad/tired/burned out?
Should I go back to work?
Should I stay at home?
Will I ever see Paris?
Shall I go left or right?
What awaits me on the other side?
Why?

A magic crystal ball for life is what I'm talking about.

I'd even pay for it.

I'd pay a lot!

And I know I'm not the only one.

I'd also travel a far distance for the answers.

It would be like visiting the Wizard of Oz, only he wouldn't be a phony, or having a special 800 # to a technical service life help line. Can you just imagine the wait time?

He or she would tell you the absolute truth - good or bad and in your lifetime only a certain number of questions could be asked. Always one at a time and maybe, one a year or one each decade, or five in a lifetime. Of course, if you are willing to pay for the answers and wait on hold for hours on end, maybe you should be able to ask anything at anytime. That could get expensive quick.

Life. Why does it have to be so complicated sometimes? It's full of so many decisions and unknowns, so many highs and lows and oh, so many mistakes. I guess that's the beauty of it, isn't it?

I'd much rather have a crystal ball.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Happiest Toddler On The Block

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge reader. I love mysteries and suspense novels, modern day fiction, historical fiction, the classics, biographies and that wildly popular vampire series. I have also been know to read a self help book or two.

Almost the minute I found out I was pregnant, I bought what I assume every mother to be buys: What to Expect When You're Expecting. I read it religiously throughout my pregnancy and many sections out loud to my husband. I loved the question/answer format.

I was either given a lot of other books or bombarded with recommendations on which ones I just had to read, but I stuck with What to Expect... and then signed us up for a dozen parenting classes.

Come to find out, nothing really prepares you for a newborn like having a newborn. We learned by doing and still are, but in those early days, we kept hearing about the five S's... swaddling, holding in side position, shushing, swinging and sucking

When Lucas was born, our neighbors had a one year old and a newborn two weeks older than ours and were singing the praises of the book, The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp, M.D.. It also has a companion DVD. We watched it, read it, tried it and it worked. Those five S's literally changed our life!!

Recently, my go-to parenting book has been What to Expect the Toddler Years, but it was starting to let me down in the - dealing with tantrums - department, so I was thrilled when one of my Twitter friends (I'm sorry, but I cannot for the life of me figure out who now) said that she had experienced a breakthrough with her tot and tantrums by reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old.

The good doctor wrote a follow up. God bless him!

I am only 35 pages into the book and I'm already enlightened. Dr. Karp's techniques are very respectful to your child and allows for them to feel like they are being heard.

Karp's basic premise is that toddlers are little cave people: the right side of their brain, which deals with language and logic, is not very developed, while the left side, which is very emotional, calls most of the shots. He talks a lot about how parents have to be an ambassador: keep relations happy, while putting their foot down when it really matters.

He divides toddler behavior into three categories: "green light" behaviors, which are positive and should be encouraged; "yellow light" behaviors, which are frustrating and annoying but not completely unacceptable things toddlers do (whining, for example); and "red light" behaviors which are unacceptable because they are either dangerous or they disobey a key family rule. I don't know about your house, but we have a lot of "red light" behavior in ours. Karp gives a great deal of advice on how to deal with each of these three types.

I'll be reporting back to let you know how this advice works for us. Fingers crossed and a BIG thank you to my Twitter friend. I really want to figure out who it was and send her flowers.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

The Sweetest Thing

Last week Ember of Remember Ember passed along the sweetest thing, the Cherry on Top award.

I love receiving blog awards because they remind me that the blogging community is vast, kind, supportive and full of talented writers, smart women (and men), parents and friends.

Thanks, Ember!! I appreciate the award and look forward to getting to know you better.

Rules for this award:
  • Thank the person who awarded this to you. Well, duh!
  • Copy and put the award on your blog. :)
  • List 3 things which you love about yourself:
1. I don't mind doing dishes... ever.
2. I will go the distance for a friend, literally and figuratively.
3. I always send thank you cards.
  • Post a picture that you love.
My niece took this picture last year while she, her sister and I jumped on their trampoline. I love that my head is cut off but you can still see a gigantic smile on my face.
  • Pass this on to a couple of the sweetest bloggers...because we like to share the love.
1. Blake at Cameron Crazy Mom - Her son Cameron is exactly one month younger than Lucas, her blog is adorable and she had some mad scrap booking skillz.

2. Jayme at The Random Blogette - Her honesty is refreshing and her love of Dave Matthews is shared.

3.
Tracy at A Beautiful Mess
- She's awesome, we have the same sense of humor and she's in my 'hood.

Happy weekend, everyone!
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Save The Ta-Tas

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. - Steven Wright

I am putting all my walking to good use and have signed up for the 2010 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.

This will be my third time participating in this event and second time with my sister, Leah.

I walked in LA in 2001, San Diego in 2008 (while 12 weeks pregnant) and this time, I'm tackling San Francisco.

If you're not familiar with the 3-Day for the Cure, it is an amazing walking event that covers three days and 60 miles. Yes, you read that right, I will be walking 60 miles over the course of three days, sleeping in tents, meeting some incredible people and hearing stories of survival and bravery along the way.

Fortunately my life has not been directly effected by breast cancer, but this is a cause that is very important to me.

In 1990, I found a small lump on my right breast and had it checked out immediately. It was only a cyst. I had it completely removed in 1997 and have been getting yearly mammograms ever since.

I was lucky.

Many are not.

Unbelievably, there is still not a cure for breast cancer and one person is diagnosed with it every three minutes in the United States. That's why I'm walking, to help do my little part in finding a cure and I don't believe mailing a check is enough.

Lucas, I hope you find a cause someday that is important to you, and that you do whatever you can in your power to defend and fight for in a bold way.

More Breast Cancer Facts (courtesy of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for a Cure Web site):

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and is the leading cause of death among women worldwide.

More than 1.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer globally each year.

More than 465,000 die from the disease each year.

A woman dies from breast cancer every 68 seconds.

Incidence rates are increasing five percent annually in low-resource countries.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure partners or funds programs in 50 countries to end suffering from breast cancer.

Komen Founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker, a Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control for the U.N.'s World Health Organization, is urging global health officials to include cancer in global health agendas.

Each walker is asked to raise at least $2300 and so far I am half way there. This is not a fundraising plea, but if you are feeling generous, please let me know and I can tell you how to donate.
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Reflections Of Motherhood

Oh, sooner or later a change must come
Oh, sooner than later, we become.
Morgan Clamp

I needed to see this video today.

I needed to know that I am beautiful, imperfect is the new perfect and that this too shall pass.

I know I'm not alone.

Many of you mothers or soon to be mothers will also appreciate it.



Thanks Jen at Not Just Another Jen for posting this wonderful video on your Facebook page.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meow

Lucas, you love Julian, the cat that lives next door and we search for him on a daily basis on our way to check the mail. We seldom see him, but yesterday, there was a rare visit and you were in heaven!

And before you ask, there will be NO cats in our future. I'm deathly allergic. Sorry, baby.

This post is for Wordless Wednesdays and if you want to link up and see some really beautiful shots, nothing like the ones above taken with my crummy camera phone, go check out Alicia at A Beautiful Mess. She is a talented photographer and a super cool mom.

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