Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nature Walk

I forget how calming nature can be. It gives me a serene feeling, like everything is right in the world. Ok, enough cliches. Connor and I had a great time, even if we didn't actually walk very far. 

There were pine needles all over the ground, which gave a nice scent to the air. We walked past some ponds that had broken tree trunks and fallen trees in it. Connor tried to climb down the hill to play in the water. 

I had to catch him at least once from falling down the hill. But he did find a lot of great treasures, including rocks and prickly balls (not sure what they're actually called). 
My favorite part was the little dock that went over part of a pond. We walked along it to get closer to the trees. My little daredevil pretended it was a thrill ride. He kept walking up and down it saying "whoa, whoa, whoa" and tilting his head like it was a wobbly bridge. He'd take big, careful steps so he wouldn't fall into one of the cracks, which were a whole half inch wide). Maybe he's big enough for a real roller coaster already. 

I know it's cold still in a lot of places, but as spring creeps in it's nice to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Hopefully, those of you still enjoying frigid temperatures will get to thaw out soon and enjoy your own nature walks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cars and Guitars

Little man was sick yesterday so I didn't get much accomplished. He's very tough and doesn't complain too much, but he gets very clingy when he's sick. He insists on sitting on my lap, or being near me at all times. There were even a few times where he was so exhausted, but instead of laying down on the couch, he sat next to me and nestled into my side. Soo cute and adorable. But I still felt bad for him. He's doing much better today though. 

Today has been catch up day, which means dishes, laundry, general cleaning, etc. Lots of fun. But we did make it out of the house for a whole half hour! Woohoo! 

My other project for the week is going through all the baby clothes I have. My niece is outgrowing her clothes already so I want to send some neutral things to my sister. Also, I have a brand new nephew who was just born (as in today!) and I want to see what I have so I can send it to my brother-in-law when they need it. I just kind threw things in bags and then in the attic as Connor outgrew them, so they're not very organized. Hopefully I'll get to that tomorrow or this weekend. 

As far as activities, we obviously did not do much yesterday. But today has been spent playing a lot with cars and his guitar. I try to talk about the number and color of the cars when we play with them. And I try to talk about what the cars are doing, i.e. "the blue car is crashing into the green one." It's a great way to expose him to more language, which he's been picking up like crazy. I think tomorrow we're going to try to spend some time outside and maybe go for a walk through the state park. We can talk about the different things in nature. I love nature walks. I'll try to take some pictures to share tomorrow. 

Monday, February 23, 2009


First off, thanks for easing my guilt a bit about the tv. I know it's not bad in moderation, but it's easy to feel like something is getting the best of you.

In other happenings, I spent 4 hours on my hands and knees yesterday. Cleaning grout. With a toothbrush. Our kitchen tile grout had gotten so disgusting in the 3 years we've lived in this house that it was brownish-gray. Originally, it was off-white (bone to be exact). You can see an example here:
The upper right portion has been cleaned, the bottom left has not. Biiiig difference. 

The tile floor was our first project when we moved into this house and it was my first time tiling. I made mistakes, but learned from them. Some of the tiles are different heights, the grout lines are not straight and I did not cover the backs off all the tiles completely with mortar (hence why some of them cracked in the corners and have to be replaced). But I learned and our most recent tiling project (the kid's bathroom) turned out much better. Don't be afraid to tackle tiling. It's actually a lot of fun and practice makes perfect. But don't forget to seal the grout!

Lastly, here's something to think about if you plan on selling your house anytime soon:

I found this on Owlhaven who in turn found it on Challies, so check them out too!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pillow Fight!

I am addicted to tv. Seriously, I could watch tv all day, even when there's not much on worth watching. I don't know when it started because I didn't watch a lot of tv growing up. When I was in high school I did get a tv in my room that I would have on at night. I go to school, stay after for drama club, track, or some other activity, come home, do homework, eat dinner, do more homework, and then go to sleep watching tv. This is how I came to watch shows like "Oz" (the violent show on HBO set in a jail) and late-night Showtime (you know, when it wasn't kid-appropriate anymore) and not much else. 

In college, we didn't have cable access. The only channels we got were through bunny-ears. If we were lucky, we got two channels. But some of my friends were tv majors. Or film majors. Or ad majors. I was a journalism major. So all of our lives revolved around some type of media. Then in junior year, our campus gave us cable tv. I think tha'ts when my downfall began. We would spend Sunday mornings watching the Food Network. We would have show viewing parties every week. But still, I had much more important things than watching tv all the time. Then I graduated and moved away from all my friends and family. My nights were spent watching tv, because there wasn't much else to do. Fast forward to today where I can tell you the schedule of pretty much any show currently airing on a major network. 

Now that I'm home full-time, it's a bit of a struggle not to have the tv on all the time, every day. Now and then it's fine. But I don't want my son to be a couch-potato. I want him to learn, be curious, do things. Plus, when the tv is on, all three of us tend to sit around like logs; this is not quality family time. So I've been making an effort to keep the tv off for most of the day. We watch primetime. And I'll allow some cartoons in the morning. But other than that, I want to keep the tv off. 

That in my long-winded way brings me to last night. What did we do with no tv? We had a pillow fight! It was our first as a family. It started out with hubby and I doing our sorta bickering. Then he's tossing pillows at me. So I toss them back. Connor sees this and thinks it's a lot of fun. He goes and grabs his little pillow and joins in. There we are, playful hitting each other with pillows. For a good half hour. It was a lot of fun. 

Do you try to limit tv time? If so, what do you do instead? 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Unexpected Moment

My leg tonight was used as the scene for a chicken race between 2 matchbox monster trucks. I held one of them while Connor smashed the other one into it and went "boom!" 

The cars crashed again and again. Then he picked them up, cradled them in his arms and rocked them as he whispers "my baby" ever so sweetly. Then the cars crashed again. 

The tender moments mixed in with the destructive. The wonders of little boys. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Boys don't do pink

Yesterday morning Connor and I went to a playdate at a friend's house. This friend has a 3-year-old girl, but her toys were a pretty good mix of "boy" toys and "girl" toys. She had just as many trucks and cars as she did play house things. Connor spent most of his time playing with the cars and trucks which are some of his favorite things. But near the end of our visit he caught sight of a guitar. 

It was pink. And Barbie. And played music. And had a lot more features than his guitars at home. And it was pink. 

I could care less. He was happy to be rocking out and playing the guitar. So happy that I couldn't get him to put it down so we could go home. 

My friend graciously told us to borrow it for a while. "She'll never realize it's gone and when you bring it back it'll be like a brand new toy."

Worked for me. 

Connor played with it while I was buckling him in. He played with it the whole car ride home. He played with it while we were walking in the front door to our house. 

"What the hell is that?" asked hubby. 

"It's a guitar."

"It's pink."

"It's a guitar."

"It's pink."

"We were at a little girl's house."

"It's pink."

"We're just borrowing it."

"It's pink."

Hubby couldn't quite get over the color despite the fact that pink used to be the preferred color for little boys and despite the fact that it is just a color. But he's a man, so only manly things are appropriate for his little boy. Silly men.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes

Yesterday we had a small celebration for Connor's birthday. Instead of the traditional cake, I decided to recreate something I saw at Coldstone Creamery. It's a chocolate cupcake shell, with cupcake in the bottom, a scoop of ice cream on top and then whipped cream to look like frosting. It looked delicious but a little too pricey for me. So I decided to recreate it myself. I sadly forgot to take photos while making them, but did take one of the finished product. 

The hardest part was figuring out how to make the shell. I ended up using 2 jumbo foil cupcake wrappers. I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips in a bowl (about 2 handfuls per shell), then sprayed pam on the inside of one wrapper. I used a big spoon to scoop some chocolate into the bottom of the wrapper, then scraped some more along the rim. I took the second wrapper and pammed the outside of it, then pushed it into the chocolate until it seemed like it took the correct form. I refrigerated the chocolate for a couple hours until hard. 

Next, I made a batch of cupcakes that were normal sized. I cut off the tops and put the bottom part in the shell. I topped with a scoop of ice cream and some whipped cream. I made my own cake mix and whipped cream, but you could always use store-bought. 

Here's a top view:

They were super yummy but a little too involved to make in a large quantity. I made 11 and it took probably a total of 2 hours to make them, not including refrigeration and baking times. 

I definitely recommend trying them though! I had one extra and put it in the fridge. The ice cream melted and absorbed into the cake making it extra mushy. Mmmmm. 

Oh, and I took the cupcake tops and made a chocolate trifle. Layer the cupcakes, chocolate pudding, and cool whip in that order. Repeat for a second layer and you're done. I usually use Entenmann's Chocolate Fudge Cake, but figured this would be just as yummy. Hubby is bringing it to work tomorrow so I'll let you know how they like it. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Interview!

Jenny from Perfectly Disheveled was interviewed by a fellow blogger recently and then offered to interview her readers. I jumped at the chance to tackle some tough questions! I've enjoyed reading her blog immensely so make sure you check it out! Here goes:

1) How did you meet your husband? And how old were you when you got married?

First a warning: this story almost always gets an "awww" response. 

I met my husband in the third grade. (See, there you go awwwing) I have a picture of him from field day that year; he was standing in the back row, I was kneeling in the front row. Despite spending a year in the same class, I don't remember him. He, however, does remember me. In his words, he became "intrigued" by me and kept an eye out for me ever since. Then in 8th grade we were on the same bus. His older brother was friends with my older sister, so I went over to his house with her one day. I remember him being shy and not talking very much. After that, we would talk on the bus every day and became friends. Then he asked me out freshmen year of high school. I said no. I wasn't ready to date yet and didn't want to lose him as a friend. That fall, he asked me to a dance. I said no. Being the independent woman I was, I wanted to go to one school dance alone. Then, 2 short months later, we went to the winter semi-formal together and, one minute to midnight, he asked me out again. I said yes and we've been together ever since. He proposed when we were 18 and we got married at 21, just as I was finishing up college. He was my first and only boyfriend, and the only man I've ever kissed. 

2) How many children do you want and would you ever consider adoption?

I've always thought I wanted 4; my husband says 2. We compromised at 3. I would definitely consider adoption and would love to do some foster care once my husband is out of the military and we don't move as much. 

3) What are your guilty pleasures?

TV is definitely my guilty pleasure. Especially teen dramas like One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl. My husband doesn't understand it, but I can't help but watch them. 

4) You've now been both a Working mom and a SAHM. Which is harder and why?

I think both are hard in different ways. As a working mom, I worried I wasn't spending enough time with Connor. I was constantly stressed for time and felt guilty wanting some time away from him in the evenings or weekends to do grown-up things. I already spent so much time apart from him for work, I didn't want to do anything to increase that. I also found myself going through the motions a lot of days. But I did love interacting with other adults on a regular basis and having that sense of immediate accomplishment. Staying at home is some of the hardest work I've ever done. You have to search out activities and people. It can be very lonely during the day. You don't know if anything you're doing is accomplishing anything until much later. And my independent streak doesn't like not having a steady income. So, while both have their advantages, for me staying at home is more fulfilling work. Working full-time was not fulfilling anything but my bank account. I wouldn't trade this time with my son for anything. 

5) George Clooney or Brad Pitt?

Neither and both. George has those looks that kill me. That tall, dark, handsome confidence. Mmmm. But he seems self-centered and I don't think he'd be much fun for too long. Brad on the other hand is very handsome, but not my type. However, he seems very giving and family-oriented, which are qualities I greatly admire. If you could combine them, that would be perfect. Although I doubt I would say no to either of them if the circumstances were right. :)

Thanks Jenny for the interview! 

If you would like to be interviewed, let me know in the comments and I'll dig my journalist brain for some great questions!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just wanted to say a quick Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th. Oooooo, scary.

It's Friday the 13th today! Most superstitious people believe that bad things happen today. But I disagree. Some of the best things have happened to me on Friday the 13th. My mom was born for starters. And that has lead to a lot of 13 related happenings for me. My favorite is that my son was born in delivery room 13. In my dazed mind in the middle of labor, I remember seeing that number and breathing a sigh of relief. That number is a lucky one, regardless of what other people say. 

Maybe it's just a matter of believing that good things will happen, so they do. If you focus on the negative, the bad will come to you too. So, go out and enjoy the wonderful Friday the 13th and believe that good things will happen!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Note to My Birthday Boy


You are a whole two years old today. I can't believe how quickly the time has passed! It seems like just yesterday that you were just a sweet little baby. 
You were so small then that you didn't seem real. You're so much bigger now. You're so smart and creative and funny. Here are some things that I hope I never forget about you at this age:

How you would laugh maniacally at random things. 

How you would say "I wub you" and "Peas" (please) while nodding your head. 

How you would say "Stop it" and cry a little when your sleeves wouldn't stay down. 

How I would ask you for a hug and you would wrap your arms around my neck so tightly. 

How I would ask for a kiss and you would press your cheek to mine and wait for me to kiss you. 

How your laugh would make my heart ache with happiness. 

How you were fascinated by all moving vehicles, but especially trains and cars. 

How you would stop what you were doing at the playground when a truck passed by, point, and yell "Bus!" 

How good a climber you were and your love of slides. 

How even at this age you would say "please" and "thank you" and wait your turn to go down the slide. 

How you loved all animals, sometimes a little too much. 

How you loved to draw, on everything. 

How you would rock back and forth on your feet to dance to tv theme songs you liked. 

How you would instantly charm everyone you met.

And most importantly, how much you were loved by everyone who met you and how thankful I am to have you in my life. 

So Happy Birthday Connor!!!! I look forward to celebrating many more with you!


We Are That Family is having a S.W.A.K. carnival to honor the men in our life. Check out her blog for all of the participants, but here is my contribution.

My husband was deployed for the first time a mere 6 weeks after our son was born. He was home 6 months later but then shortly left again for another deployment. All told, he was gone 11 of my son's first 16 months on this earth. When he finally came home, we had to figure out how to be a family. We had been a couple for a long time, but a family was something new. I think we both worried about the transition. 

But my husband was born to be a father. He was patient when Connor called him "mama" for the first few months, and is still patient as our son still calls him that more times than not. He is not shy about showing his love for our son. When he walks in the door and Connor goes up to him and gives him a hug, you can see the weight on his shoulders lift. And I swear that there is nothing sexier than hearing him and Connor play choo-choo trains or seeing them snuggle under a blanket together and reading a book. 

I am so thankful to have him in my life. He's the only one I ever wanted and the fact that he is such an incredible father is a bonus. I know that our military life is not going to be easy on Connor. The frequent moves, his father's long absences, the distance from our extended family, that all adds up to an unstable environment for kids. But I know that together, he and I can provide stability for Connor. The past 2 years have not been easy, and I know we will have difficult times in the future as well, but I still believe that as long as we make our marriage a priority, we will be ok. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Changes & Parks

Sorry for all the changes in the appearance of this blog lately. I've been trying to figure out what I want it to look like so I keep trying things out. I should have one look pinned down soon, so bear with me until then. 

On another note, we've been enjoying more nice weather today. Connor and I went to the park near the commissary (military grocery store) for a little while before we went grocery shopping. It was right near the water, in a wooded area, and empty. We hadn't been there before, so it was nice to be the only ones to enjoy it. 

My favorite part was that they had a toddler play area. The slides were a bit shorter and the climbing things were chunkier; less of a chance for him to fall through. This didn't stop him from tackling the big play area anyway. He wanted to go down the fireman's pole and tackle the big slides. 

My little crazy man. 

Yet somehow, the wobbly bridge proved too scary for him. I had to hold his hand across it once, and then give him reassurance from the sidelines the next couple times. I can't quite make sense of what scares him and what doesn't. I know he doesn't share my fear of heights though. If he's anything like his father, I know he'll only get more adventurous.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beautiful Sunshine

I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in Virginia we had a beautiful weekend. Today, it was 75 and sunny. 

Absolutely gorgeous!

That's one of the best things about living down here: you don't have to wait too long for spring to come. I'm sure we'll have more cold days soon, but this week it will be sunny and in the 60's. And it's only the second week in February. 

I love sunshine and springtime and the chance to spend time outside. But, I've been saying all winter that if only it were warmer out, I'd go for bike rides, and hikes, and be more outdoorsy in general. Now there are no more excuses. At least this week. Besides, it's a great chance for Connor to learn more about nature. Even if it's by trying to eat dirt and/or bugs. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Activity

Yesterday, Connor got to enjoy some new activities. 

First, I took an empty plastic jar and filled it with about 1/2 an inch of dry navy beans and put the cap back on. Then I gave him a bowl and some measuring cups. He spent about 20 minutes unscrewing the cap and transferring the beans from jar to bowl and back again. He would use the measuring cups to scoop some out of the bowl and put them back in the jar. We stopped when he tried to eat the beans. They're edible, but not great when they're dry. The activity helps expose him to a new texture and practice his fine motor skills. 

We also drew for a bit using colored pencils. They're narrower and longer than the crayons he usually uses, so it provided more of a challenge to hold. Again, this works on fine motor skills, and stimulates his creativity. His drawings have started to be more purposeful, more straight lines and circles, less random. 

We've also been working on up and down. He loves to to jump up in the air, even though he only gets about an inch of the ground. Luckily though he hasn't quite gotten brave enough to jump off things. He prefers to climb them right now. 

Next week we're going to work on the alphabet and dressing himself. He's good at taking off his sweaters or jackets, but he hasn't quite gotten anything else. Although he is very good at putting his socks on his hands. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Home Office

We've been renovating our bathroom for the past month, which means all the bathroom stuff was in our office. That means that our office was pretty much unusable to me during the day as it wasn't exactly toddler-safe. Now that the bathroom is finally complete, all of the stuff is out of the office. And that means it is finally time to organize my office to be a usable place. One that Connor and I can spend some time in while I need to work and he won't get bored. 

I want to try and use the stuff that we have so we don't have to buy anything new. We have an old trunk that we use mainly for storage that I'm going to turn into Connor's activity area. I'll put chalkboard paint on the top and make some chalk for him to draw. I'll repurpose some baskets to store paper and crayons. Then I think I have an old phone somewhere that I can set up for him. Not sure what else I need to make the perfect office, but I'm sure that I'll figure it out. 

I'm looking forward to making the work-at-home thing work. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Words

I am amazed every day by how big Connor is getting. He just learns in leaps and bounds and spits out new words every day. 

Today in the car he says to me "Put shoe back on." This from a boy who usually only says one or two words at a time. 

Some of his other favorite phrases: 

"Get down!"
"What happened?"
"What are you doing?"
"Where's the ball?"
"Where'd it go?"
Can you tell where he got those from?

and my personal favorite "I love you"
Although it ends up sounding more like "I wub you." I still know what he means. 

I've read from multiple sources that the best way to help your kids grow a vocabulary is to talk to them all the time: Describe what you're doing as you cook dinner, or as you go grocery shopping. It sounded extremely silly to me. They really wanted me to say "Now, I'm chopping up the green broccoli and putting it in the black pot"? But since I've been doing this, his vocabulary really has taken off. I don't baby talk to him, never really have. Instead, I talk to him as if he were an adult. I simply use fewer words when I need him to do something. Three word commands are easier to follow than more complicated ones. 

So try it! Be silly and describe your day in detail to your little one. Pretty soon they'll be telling you "I wub you!"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Grandparents are Awesome

The best part about traveling is there is never-ending fun for Connor. Everywhere we go there are new people, new toys, new houses to explore. I bring minimal toys, just some cars and crayons in my purse and his favorite bear, because both sets of grandparents have some just for him. Yet, he is always busy exploring and therefore learning. 

The bad part about traveling is there is never-ending stimulation for Connor. So of course, bedtime is seen as a punishment even more than usual. It means no more fun for the day. Even though he's exhausted and I already let him stay up later than normal, there's still more to do. He ends up screaming for 10 minutes until I can calm him down. By then he's so exhausted he can't help but fall asleep. 

But coming to NY is always worth it. He gets to spend time with his grandparents and aunts and uncles. And pretty soon, he'll have a cousin to play with too. This trip was a wonderful learning experience for both of us. Connor finally learned to say some of the grandparents' names. None of them wanted to be just grandma and grandpa; instead we have Nana, Grumpy, Grammy, Pop-pop, Mimi and Boo. He also got to play in the snow for the first time; he loved to stomp it and make a crunching sound. And I got to spend some baby-free time at the shower. 

A wonderful visit but now it's time to go home.