April 30, 2009

Light-hearted Parenting

I love The Happiness Project blog, and I especially loved one of Gretchen's recent posts. Every Wednesday, she posts a list of tips, and last week she included a list of ten tips for being a more light-hearted parent. The list includes some great reminders for maintaining a peaceful and cheerful household.

...and here's my own personalized version of my favorites (my comments in italics):

- At least once a day, make each child helpless with laughter. This is not just good for them. My tickle sessions with A are a highlight of my days.

- Sing in the morning. It’s hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood, and it sets a happy tone for everyone. Really, singing anytime during the day is a good thing.

- Get enough sleep yourself. It’s so tempting to stay up late, to enjoy the peace and quiet. But morning comes fast. Along the same lines…

- Wake up before your kids. I don't know how I'd get a shower otherwise. I get completely ready, including lunch bag packed and breakfast prepared, before A wakes up. I'm able to enjoy these few minutes of quiet and then I can focus on getting him ready.

- Say “no” only when it really matters. Wear a bright red shirt with bright orange shorts? Sure. Put water in the toy tea set? Okay. Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed? Fine. Samuel Johnson said, “All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.” I'm getting better at this one. A wore the same pair of pajamas every night this week - they didn't smell too awful, so I figured it wasn't worth fighting.

- When I find myself thinking, “Yippee, soon we won’t have to deal with a stroller,” I remind myself how fleeting this is. All too soon the age of Cheerios and the Tooth Fairy will be over. The days are long, but the years are short.

Kitchen Inspiration

*Image from House Beautiful
This kitchen illustrates the contrast between the dark countertops and white cabinets that we will ultimately choose when we redo our kitchen. I love white kitchens, but I am thinking mine will need some splash of color. Maybe a fun color tile for the backsplash? (I'm thinking red!)

April 29, 2009

Perception is Reality?

*This patch of cute little blue flowers is just one of the things making me happy this week.

I've had several people make comments to me recently about how great they think I am at juggling everything - working, being a mom, a wife, a friend - and each time, I laughed hysterically. Were they being serious? Or were they just trying to be nice?

So I thought about what kind of image I must project to others. I guess I can see how someone who only read my blog would think that I am a happy-go-lucky mom who is always organized and on top of everything. I'm happy that I'm portraying myself in a positive way. That means I'm focusing on the right things. It also means that I've stayed true to the purpose behind my blog - to focus on the positive and beautiful things in life.
To those friends who think I'm doing a great job....thank you. I appreciate the comments. And in general, I do think I'm doing okay. But I don't think I'm doing any better than any of you. You just aren't there to see me break down in tears when I can't convince my screaming two-year old to just get in the bath please after a really long day at work, or when he throws food in my hair and then hits me when I tell him not to do that, or when I'm running through the grocery store on a Saturday trying to get through that loathesome errand as quickly as possible, or when I fall asleep at my desk at work. You also haven't been to my house lately to see how dirty my shower is or how unorganized my closets are.

And it's not that I want to hide any of that - it's life, after all - it's just that I don't want to focus on those things. I'm sure that any of you who are in similar situations would be able to relate, and I'll admit there is some amount of relief found in venting, but I just want to let those things go so I can be happy. I want to focus on the "big big hugs" I get from my gorgeous and happy and healthy two-year old, my handsome husband, my awesome friends, my efforts at being organized... And the multitudes of tiny little things that make life good and fun - the pretty flowers in my yard, the funny episode of The Office, the surprise package in the mail...

My main point to this post is to remind you that if you are ever tempted to compare yourself to someone else, please remember that perception is not reality. You may want to compare yourself to that perfect mom you know, but don't. She's not perfect. At least, not any more perfect than any of us who keep trying to do our best.

April 28, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers

May came a week early this year. We have tulips blooming all over our yard. This was our first one - isn't she pretty?

House Update

When we moved into our house, the living room fireplace had been completely bricked off. Apparently, they removed the fireplace when they put central heat in way back when. Building a new fireplace wasn't a feasible option, but we did still have the chimney to work with. Our solution was to connect a small gas fireplace to it. We did this last summer, and I've been looking at a hole in our wall since then. Well, we finally have the next step underway, and here's a progress report. You can see our new mantle! It will eventually be painted white, there will be black stone around the fireplace unit, and sconces will be installed above. We're getting there!

April 27, 2009

Ah, Boys

Like father like son. A loves to help Daddy in the yard.

Of course, he can get a bit distracted by a big pile of dirt.

He is a boy, after all.

"Ew, look, Mommy. I'm all dirty!"

Little Boy in a Big Bed

Aaron moved into his new "big boy" room this weekend, and all in all, I'd call it a success. We had a few bumps along the way, and we still have to work out our new routine, but I am confident we'll all get used to it soon. He slept well, which is the important thing. Doesn't he look tiny in his new twin bed?

*Kevin saw this post on my blog and decided we really must have those wall decals. I must say, although they're a little hard to see in this picture, they do look awfully cute!

April 22, 2009

Spring Surprise

These little lovelies just started to bloom in our back yard. I completely forgot that I planted them. What a fun surprise!

April 21, 2009

Five Senses Weekend - NY Edition

*Me and my boy. (I'll have to start referring to him as my "big boy" pretty soon.) We had a fabulous time at the Bronx Zoo. Some pretty peacocks and nyalas in the background.

We had such a fabulous weekend. We went down to NY to visit some very good friends. We don't see them often enough, but we always have a blast every time we get together. Thank you, Matt and Ali! Aaron wants to know when we can go back - I think he had fun. :-)

- Sea lions, giraffes, a grizzly bear... lots of cool animals at the Bronx Zoo. It was Aaron's first visit to a zoo, and he enjoyed himself immensely. He is still talking about the peacocks and giraffes.
- Trucks! Thank goodness for the number of trucks on the highway. They provided nice entertainment for the boy during the long car ride. (His favorite: blue trucks and garbage trucks. Mommy's favorite: car transports.)
- Aaron announcing, "It's not ready yet!" as he "cooked" his croissant in the toy microwave.
- Lots and lots of giggling.
- Grass on my feet as we ran around the yard kicking a ball. I love that first day when you can be outside with bare feet.
- Daffodils. They are everywhere now.
- Dinner cooking on the grill. What a great summertime smell.
- Drinking non-alcoholic beer is kind of like substituting cardboard for cookies, but it was still nice and refreshing on a warm and sunny afternoon.
- We had a Carvel ice cream cake to celebrate two birthdays. I was a little afraid the kids were literally going to explode with excitement when they learned they'd be having cake after dinner, but they survived.

Quote of the Day

Thanks to Stephmodo for sharing this quote:

"Your toddler will do what they need to do, and not necessarily what you say. If you're patient, then they will be patient. If you speak gently, then they will be gentle. Whatever you want them to be, you have to start becoming." -Helen Hunt

What a great reminder and great motivation to find my best self.

Good Deed of the Day

Okay, everyone, here's a really quick good deed you can accomplish today. Click on the link below to read about a new piece of federal legislation being introduced, entitled the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act of 2009. If you agree, then click on the "Take Action on the AATA..." link in the red section on the right. This will enable you to ask your own state senators to support the bill.


One of the biggest components of this legislation would be to require insurance companies to provide coverage for medically-necessary autism treatments and therapies. I know that issues like this really hit home when you have a personal story to accompany it. Here's an excerpt from an email from my friend Rachel, whose son was diagnosed with autism:

"As you know, Luke turns 5 next January and at that point his Speech and Physical therapy are no longer covered by insurance. I find this terribly unfair that other kids with speech or cognitive delays are covered but Luke is not (specifically because his diagnosis is Autism). Without insurance coverage the cost for these two therapies alone would be > $16,000 / year.
In addition, the ABA therapy we do at home ($25/hour) has never been covered and we pay for that out of pocket already. This national initiative is working to resolve these issues and require insurance companies to pay for this coverage."

Thanks for taking a few minutes to support an extremely worthy cause!

April 20, 2009

Reason # 9 Why I Love Boston: Patriots' Day

*Image from Boston.com

Reason #9 Why I Love Boston: Patriots' Day

No idea what Patriots' Day is? Well, then you must not live in Massachusetts or Maine. I had no idea what it was when I first moved up here. It is a holiday celebrating the anniversary of the Revolutionary War battles at Lexington and Concord. It is also Marathon Monday, which quite obviously is the day of the Boston Marathon. On top of all that, the Red Sox also play an early home game on this day - usually an 11AM start - so that the end of the game coincides with the time the marathon winners are passing through Kenmore Square. Schools are closed, and some businesses close for the day as well, so quite a few people have it off. Others simply choose to take it off.

I've lived in three places in the area, all of which fall along the marathon route. There is such a fun party atmosphere in the air all day, particularly when the weather cooperates. Spectators line the streets, cheering the runners on, listening or watching the Red Sox game (lots of TVs out in lawns), and enjoying the day outside.

I would never in a million years run a marathon, much less the Boston version. That said, I love watching it, and I have a great appreciation for the sport. I love watching the graceful speed of the professional runners in the front, the seriousness of the wheelchair racers, and the determination on the faces of all the amateur runners. I especially love watching the older runners who don't let a little thing like age get in the way of achieving their mission. They are all inspiring.

Happy Patriots' Day!

Runners passing through Kenmore Square
Picture from Minuteman Park in Concord.
*Image from Wikipedia

April 16, 2009

Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer...

My brother sent this to me yesterday. It is completely random and a lot of fun. Kinda like my brother.

*If you can't view the embedded video, here's the link to the video on YouTube.

April 15, 2009

5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't)

This guy looks happy.
*Image from www.cracked.com
This is a pretty fun article, reminding us about why the things we think would make us happy really wouldn't. Fame, wealth, beauty, genius, and power. They also refer to a more serious article from Time, describing a study done on the things that really do make us happy. None of it is surprising, but it's good to remind ourselves about the important things in life. They also include some of the things that people can do to boost their own happiness, such as keeping a gratitude journal (a diary - or blog, perhaps - of things you're grateful for) and performing acts of kindness. Give it a read, and be happy.

April 14, 2009

Jelly Beans, Blueberry Pie, and Naptime

*He shared his jelly beans with me!

Easter's Three Beautiful Things:

1. A was very excited that the Easter Bunny left him a basket. I was very glad that we waited until after breakfast to search for it. He still ate all his jelly beans in a single sitting, but at least he shared with Mom and Dad. He even saved half of his chocolate bunny for later - and hasn't remembered yet that he still has it!

2. Although we didn't have any guests, K still wanted a full Easter dinner. So I cooked, and my boys enjoyed their ham and kielbasa and mashed potatoes and crescent rolls (and a little bit of broccoli). Oh, and I love holidays for giving me the excuse to splurge a little - I also bought a blueberry pie and ice cream. Mmmmmmm...

3. K and I usually take advantage of naptime by getting things done around the house. On Sunday, however, we took advantage of naptime by sitting on the couch watching a movie together.
*Chocolate on his chin and a mouthful of jelly beans....life is good.

*His favorite Easter basket item - aside from the candy - was a little hot wheels race car. I couldn't capture it in a photo, though, because he moves too fast when he's playing with it!

April 8, 2009

MamaJoy and Company

I received a lovely little surprise package yesterday. Isn't it the greatest when you get something personal in the mail - and even better when it's unexpected? (Thank you so much, MM!)
A friend of mine started a home-based business with her mom, selling extremely cute baby products. Now that I've received one of their burp cloths, I can attest to how great they are. Very cute, and super soft! I am sure it will be a favorite. They use a lot of adorable fabrics and love doing custom orders, so you can ask for whatever you want! If you are looking for a baby gift for someone, or if you're in the market for yourself, you should definitely check them out.

Photos of the Day

You gotta love his new sunglasses.

He is all business when he's playing outside.

April 7, 2009

Signs of Spring

We got to use our new grill for the first time.

Little league tryouts and practices began. This is the view from our yard. I adore the sound of little boys playing baseball.

The daffodils are almost here!

Belly Shot

Here it is, belly shot #2. It's not the most attractive picture, but my sisters keep bugging me about it. "What do you look like?", they ask. So here you go. I'm 28 weeks along now (and yes, I had to look that up).

This picture is also a good "before" shot of the living room. Don't you love the big hole in the middle of the wall? In the next week or two, there will be a very nice mantle there. And don't worry, we promise to get rid of all the pink trim. (The dining room looks very pretty, though, doesn't it?)


April 6, 2009

Go Heels!

*Image from www.espn.com

The National Championship game is tonight. I have to say, the only time I hate living on the East coast is during live national sporting events. A 9:30(ish) start time means I will be extremely tired tomorrow. But if we win, it will be worth it. Go Heels!

Opening Day!


April 2, 2009

Squirming Baby, Hot Showers, and Messy Hair

*I guess I better get used to pictures like this!

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. During meetings at work, I look down at my belly and watch my new little man squirm around. It's a great distraction. He especially loves it when I drink juice or eat chocolate. Right now, I think he's enjoying the cream cheese frosting from the piece of carrot cake I just ate.

2. I've been standing in the shower a little longer these days. The hot water and pressure on my neck just feels so good.

3. Aaron has two swirls on the back of his head, so his hair is never going to lie down flat. I'm sure there will be times when this may annoy me - school picture day perhaps - but so far, I adore it. I love the crazy bit of hair that always sticks up in the back.

This Year's Organizing Projects - due 10/31

I'm not sure if it's a nesting instinct or just a general urge to do spring cleaning, but I have such a strong desire to spend time cleaning and organizing the house. Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now to focus on this, and due to our latest round of home renovations, our house is particularly messy. I'm sure that's contributing to my frustration.
So I thought I'd channel that frustration in a more productive manner by making a list of the organizing projects I want to tackle. It will make it easier for me to work through the list and feel good about getting things done. I will also be easier for me to do some of these things after the house work is complete, and who knows when that will be. I hope I'll be able to do some of this when I have time off of work and while my new little babe is sleeping, but perhaps I'm not keeping the exhaustion of the early days in proper perspective. We'll see. I'm still giving myself a Halloween deadline, because I absolutely know I need to be as organized as possible when I return to work. Some of these things have to be done earlier due to other factors, as noted below. I'm also not including the biggies such as setting up A's new bedroom or cleaning the nursery in preparation for the new baby.

Here's what I have so far:

1. Clean out sock drawers. Match up or throw away singles. Get rid of holies.
2. Break down and get wood hangers for our closet.
3. Clean out/organize medicine cabinets. Throw away everything that's expired.
4. Spend a couple weeks organizing meals around pantry items that have been there a while and need to be used up. Donate any other old and unused items.
5. Rotate winter/summer clothes. Donate any unwanteds. (Okay, this one obviously has an earlier deadline.)
6. Rotate summer/winter clothes. Donated any unwanteds.
7. Donate all my maternity clothes. (This one can't be done until my regular jeans fit me, so fingers crossed that I can make October.)
8. Organize bathroom drawers.
9. Clean out kitchen junk drawer.
10. Get rid of excess/old tupperware/containers. Return a few to Mom-in-law.
11. Clean out recipe binder - eliminate recipes I haven't tried yet or didn't like.
12. Donate my wedding dress. (Seriously, family - if someone wants this, speak now or forever hold your peace. It's a beautiful dress, but I really don't want to see the huge box any more.)
13. Organize all our books on bookshelves. Prioritize and donate anything that doesn't fit on a shelf. (This can't be done until bookshelves are in and painted.)
14. Clean out the car. Load a CD case with driving music. (The cleaning-out part has to be done before we install car seat #2.)
15. Organize kitchen cabinet containing all my baking supplies.
16. Freecycle our old grill.

April 1, 2009

Beth Waters - Sweaters

I have no idea what this video is all about, but I do like Beth Waters and this song in particular. Enjoy!


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