Dec 29, 2011

2011 Comes to a Close

Our year in review.

Hope turned 3

Sisterly Love

My Little Irish Ladies

Paige turned 1

Bears at the zoo

Happy Father's Day, Daddy

4th of July Parade

Popsicles on a hot day

School started

Visited my sister in New York


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Today I am linking up with Jessica from Four Plus an Angel and Ashley from My Front Porch Swing for

Dec 27, 2011

Let Her Eat Cake

My daughter is turning four this week.

We have been trying to decide on a theme for her birthday.

When asked what she wants on her cake, Hope told me, Elmo.

(What!?  Elmo?  Child had an Elmo cake when she was two.  She then got so caught up in Dora and her exploring that she did not show interest in the little red monster again.  Elmo, really?)

So I asked her, "Hey Hope?  Why do you want Elmo on your cake?"

"Because Paige likes Elmo, Mommy," was her sweet reply.

"Aww, honey.  That is very nice.  But it is your birthday.  We should do something that you like."

"But I like Elmo."


A few days later I tried again.  Her reply?


"Hope, we are not doing an Elmo cake for your birthday," says the mean mom that I am.  "What else would you like on your cake?"

"Um, dinosaurs."

(Are you kidding me!?  This child has exactly two plastic dinosaurs that get played with maybe twice a year.)

"Hm, why would you like a dinosaur cake?"

"Because Noah [her cousin] likes them."

Again.  Really?

"Hope, why don't you chose something that you really like?"

"But I like dinosaurs, too."


We tried many different suggestions (some even with visual aids), all shot down by my almost-four-year-old daughter.  It was not until after Christmas, and her new toys, that she finally found a theme we could agree on.

(You know, one that she actually has shown an interest in the past year or so of her life.)

Let's just hope I can pull it off....

Dec 24, 2011

A Magical Moment

Yesterday, it snowed.

I think mother nature heard my plea.

It was just a light dusting, and is pretty much gone today, but for a few minutes the girls and I ran outside to enjoy the winter magic.

Yes, I just put them in their boots, hats, and mittens.  It's been that kind of winter.

And then we all went inside.  Some willingly (Hope was the first in the door -- I think the lack of coat was getting to her), some not-so-willingly (that would be Paige).

But everyone was happy when I pulled out the mugs and whipped up some hot cocoa, with marshmallows of course.

To be honest, it's been one of my favorite "holiday moments" this whole season.  More happy and delightful than any shopping, movie watching, present wrapping, or even holiday baking.

The girls were so excited and joyful.  I was so excited and joyful.  And not just because of the snow.  It was the feeling we all had.

I did not worry about the girls getting snow on their clothes, how much cocoa they drank, or filling their stomachs with marshmallows before lunch.  Yesterday, it was only about the relaxed and fun memories we made.

And I wish the same for all of you.

May this holiday season and weekend, be filled with many happy, joyful, fun, and relaxing memories and moments!

Dec 22, 2011

Let It Snow, for now

I miss the snow.

(Shoot.  Did I say that out loud?  Please don't tell anyone.)

But I do.  It just doesn't feel like the holidays without snow, darn it.  Heck, it hardly even feels like December.  I mean, if there isn't going to be snow, I might as well be enjoying a sunny December 22nd in 82 degree Orlando.

Don't get me wrong.  As much as I love having snow in December, come January 2nd I'm pretty much ready for a thaw and spring.

(I know, I'm not a true Minnesotan.  But don't worry, I never claimed to be.)

Oh sure, snow is wonderful and beautiful.  I loved playing in it when I was younger.  And I love watching the girls play in it now.  I like the big bundled up look of snow pants and coats, the rosy noses, and the pure delight in their faces.  And especially the drinking of the hot cocoa after coming in from the cold.

There really is something magical about snow.

And I think that's why I'm whining about the lack of it right now.  Yes, I know all of the appropriate December holidays will come whether there is snow on the ground or not.  I know that Hope and Paige will still feel the same amount of excitement come Christmas morning if it's brown outside instead of white.

But I want the snow.

I want to sit inside my cozy, warm house, sipping peppermint cocoa, and watching big, fluffy flakes turn the world into a winter wonderland.

I want to ring in the new year, and celebrate my firstborn's birthday, with the magic of snow on the ground.

And then, I'm fine.  I give Mother Nature permission to cut winter short and give us a nice long spring. (I'm generous like that.)

But for now, I'd appreciate a little of the white stuff.  You know, for the kids.

This is not what our yard currently looks like.  I just wish it did.

Dec 19, 2011

Feeling the Season

I am sitting in the living room, just the glowing Christmas tree lights the space.

It is quiet.  A very welcome quiet.  A quiet the surrounds me with softness and warmth.

I close my eyes and listen.  I can hear the heat humming through our vents.  And the faint murmur of the TV upstairs.

Everyone is is bed.  The girls are snuggled under blankets, (hopefully) dreaming of baking cookies and new memories made.  Adam is unwinding, most likely in front of a news or sports show.

And me.  I am here.  I am taking this quiet moment for myself.

I take a deep breath in and smell evergreen.  I love having a real tree.  I study the tree, the lights, the ornaments.  And I think, this is good.

I have felt my holiday spirit has been lacking.  But maybe I have been too preoccupied to see it, to feel it.  I thought that squeezing and cramming in as many holiday traditions as possible is what I needed to experience the season.

But this, this is what I need to soak up some holiday magic.

Just a quiet moment.  Followed by a feeling.  That reminds me about the peace and love I am surrounded with.  In my living room.  In my home.  In my world.


Dec 15, 2011

Away in a Manger

The mother is on her knees, one hand over her heart.  The father stands above, leaning on his staff.

The baby is apart from it all, face down, his bare bottom exposed.

This, is our nativity scene.

Two sheep are laying on the floor, the others piled high in the pen.  There is a camel in the background, looking amused.

And two children sit precariously close to the edge, ready to fall off the table.

An angel looks over them all.

Our nativity scene.

Jumbled up, mixed around, unorganized.  Loved by little hands.


I love our Fontanini Nativity.  I'm not exactly sure what the characters are made of (plastic?), but they look nice, not cheap, and are child-friendly.

We have this set because we want our kids to be able to play with our nativity scene and not worry about a sheep losing a leg, Mary losing her arm, or baby Jesus losing his head.

Another bonus?  We started a tradition of getting a new figurine each year.


Linking up with Mama Kat

Dec 12, 2011

The Case of the Missing Cheerio

My daughter stuck a cheerio up her nose this morning.

Not the little one.  The one who will be four in less than two weeks.

Cheerio.  Up her nose.

I could not even see it.

Every time I had her blow her nose, she blew hard and then proceeded to take an extremely big sniff, IN.

Because I am a (sometimes) cautious parent, I called the nurse line.  Had it been, say, a bead, uncooked noodle, peanut, or marble (can kids actually get marbles up there?), I would've known for sure to see a doctor, but as a cheerio gets soggy in milk, I figured it might also do the same in, uh, snot...

After asking if I could see the cheerio (again, I could not), and then a good little chuckle (ha, ha), the nurse told me that yes, we should come in and see the doctor.

I'll spare you the details, but after a few blows into a tissue while in the waiting room, it appeared a cheerio exited Hope's nose.

We still went in to see the doctor.  He checked her nose, listened to her chest, and gave us the all clear.

On our way out I had a little chat with Hope about how nothing goes into any hole in your body, unless it's food, you know, going into your mouth.

And that was how my week started.  Happy Monday!

Dec 10, 2011

Making Time for Me

Yesterday I wrote about being nice to myself, and pretty much dropping everything for the girls.  It was necessary for me on that particular day.

I do, however, firmly believe that most of the time it is important for me to make time for myself too.

In order for me to be the best mom I can be to my girls, I need to feel like I am an individual and that my needs are a priority too.

Not only does it help me be a better mom, but I also think it is a good example to set for the girls.  I am always their mother, and I will almost always put their needs before my own (such is the life of a mom, no?), but it is healthy for them to see me take care of myself and to know that it takes work to run a household.

Part of being nice to myself, is also allowing myself to have a break, to take time just for me, to sometimes be a "just a minute" mom in order to get something done around the house.

Here are a couple ways I do just that:

* Meet a friend for a chat
* Snuggle into bed with a book
* Take a shower
* Write (journal or blog)
* Catch up on my favorite blogs during nap time
* Get at least one thing crossed off my To Do list during the day
* Watch my favorite TV show
* Go window shopping

How about you?  How do you take time for yourself?

Dec 9, 2011

Being Nice to Myself

Today I am trying.

Trying to be better, trying to be grateful, trying to be nice to myself.

It has been a bad morning.  Actually, it has been a rough couple weeks, and it all boiled over this morning.  In all honesty, if you asked, I don't think I could even explain why it's been rough.  It just has.  And I have not been very nice to myself because of it.

So today, I am trying.

I am taking deep breaths and focusing on patience instead of frustration.  I am looking at my sink full of dishes and trying to have this positive mindset from Four Plus an Angel.  I am congratulating myself on every victory, no matter how small.

Because it is hard.  Some days, it is really hard.

I feel overwhelmed and exhausted.  Meeting all the needs of the girls before my own.  Having two girls hanging on me both physically and emotionally all day.

Being present all day.

So instead of trying to squeeze in something for myself and then being interrupted by a poopy diaper, a hungry mouth, a need other than my own, I am letting go.  I am turning away from the computer when Paige and Hope want to snuggle onto my lap (even if I am in mid-sentence).  I am shutting off the water and looking at the pictures the girls colored (even if I am in mid-dish).  I am leaving a basket of half folded laundry when someone wants to read a book.

Today, I am not "let me finish this up first" mom.  I am not "just a minute" mom.

I am vacuuming, if I can.  I am folding laundry, if I can.  I am doing something for myself, if I can.  But today, I am not going to be frustrated and irritated if it doesn't happen, if I get interrupted.

Some days I have to be "just a minute" mom.  Because things need to get done.  It is important for our household and for the girls to know and see this.

But today, for my own mental health and happiness I am letting everything else go.  Today, anything extra is a bonus, not a necessity.  Today, I am being nice to myself.

Today, I am accepting that my needs often have to come second.

And today I'm going to be okay with that.

Dec 7, 2011

The Plight of a Christmas Tree

I think our Christmas tree is feeling neglected.

In much excitement, and some new snow, we got our tree last Saturday.

She then stood naked in the tree stand.  For three days.

Finally, I got around to putting on the lights.

And ran out.

Instead of running out to get another strand of lights (believe me, the thought crossed my mind).  I decided it would be easier (ahem) to just restring the lights on the tree.

We started decorating.

And then it was time for bed.

(Notice the arrows.  They point to the six ornaments the girls put on.)

At this rate, we might have it fully decorated by Christmas.

Well, for sure by New Year's.

Dec 3, 2011

4 Lists of 5

I am a list maker.  Sometimes it's a good thing (like when I need to remember what to buy at the grocery store) and sometimes it's not so good (like when I make lists of all the long-term things I want to get done, and then end up feeling more overwhelmed).

Today, it is (hopefully) a good thing.

5 Things About Me You Don't Know

1.  When I was in middle school I laughed so hard I peed my pants after trying to sell baby carrots door-to-door with some friends.

Christmas 2010
2.  Sometimes I am over-sensitive to noises.  As in, when I am having a moment, I can't even stand to hear my daughter chew her cereal because the crunching bothers me.  (I don't understand it, I don't like it, but that's just the way it is.)

3.  Every year at this time I start to stress out about the quantity of toys the girls already possess and how that will be significantly increased after the holidays.

4.  I don't mind that the holiday season starts before Thanksgiving.  (I don't like when it starts before Halloween, but hearing Christmas music on the radio the week before Thanksgiving?  Yes please.)

5.  Sometimes I feel like something is missing.  Even though my life is filled with wonderful blessings, I feel like I am missing something too.

5 Things I'm Knowledgeable About

1.  The art of napping.

2.  My children.  Shocking, I know, but aside from my husband, I'm pretty sure I know my children better than anyone else.  (For now.)

3.  Over-using parentheses.  (Haven't you noticed?)

4.  Children's television, children's music, children's movies.

5.  Cooking and baking.  (At least, I am knowledgeable to the degree that I can find and follow a recipe.  Just don't ask me to make something without one.)

*I am discovering that there doesn't seem to be much I actually feel "knowledgeable" about.

5 Things I Know Nothing About

1.  Cars and car maintenance.  I can fill up the tank, fill up the wiper fluid, and that's about it.

2.  Plumbing.  I flush the toilet, the water goes down, when it doesn't I use a plunger.

3.  Raising boys.

4.  Fashion.  (This I am currently trying to change, with a healthy dose of "People Style Watch" and some helpful friends.)

5.  Using my camera in anything other than the Auto Mode.  (But this, too, I am working on changing.)

5 Things I Believe

1.  Compassion is one of the most important qualities a person can have.  And if everyone had more compassion the world would be a more peaceful place.

2.  Forgiveness is crucial for a healthy soul, but sometimes it's a fight to find it.

3.  Having children and helping them grow up is the biggest joy (and fear) in my life.

4.  In order to be the best mother to my girls, I need to have time away and for myself.

5.  Each day, each moment, I am doing the best that I can in that moment.  And on the days I feel like I could've done better, I need to cut myself a little slack.  And hope that the next time "the best I can" feels better than the last.


This post was written for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt:

2.) Five Things. List 5 things we don’t know about you, 5 things you’re knowledgeable about, 5 things you know nothing about, and 5 things you believe.


Dec 1, 2011

Another One Lost...

This is how I feel when I get my haircut.  Every.  Time.

I can not find a good hairstylist.

Honestly, each time I get a haircut I have to try a new stylist because the previous cut (and stylist) did not work out.  And each time I feel like I've wasted too much money on something I am unhappy with.

Once.  Once in my life I found The One.  She was my haircutting soulmate.  She was cute and funny, chatty but not too chatty, and best of all gave me the exact cut I didn't even know I needed.  And six months later when I called to schedule another cut --

(yes, that's right I get my hair cut about twice per year)

she was gone.  Gone.  Without a word to me.  No call, no letter, no this-is-where-you-can-find-me, here-is-my-forwarding-information-for-your-hairstyling-perfection.  I mean, we shared one beautiful and wonderful haircut, the least she could've done was given me her social security number for my "following her anywhere" convenience, right?

As you can see, I am still devastated. And have been left to wander aimlessly amid a sea of Not For Me hairdressers.

Now, as if this three year long search has not been hard enough, today I find out my doctor is leaving me.  My fabulous, really-listens-to-my-concerns-and-takes-them-seriously doctor.


I'm not sure I'm going to be able to manage the search for a hairstylist AND a new doctor.

And once I do find them, if I ever do, what then?  After one haircut, or a couple of physicals, they could leave me too.

Does anyone else find it hard to find and keep a hairstylist, doctor, dentist, or whatever else?

Nov 29, 2011

Waiting for the Sandman

I snuggle into bed, my body exhausted from the full weekend.

And yet...

And yet, I can't fall asleep.  My body aches and is desperate.  Desperate for the soft sheets, for the fuzzy blankets curling around me, for the peace, for the quiet, for the relaxation after a day and weekend of go go go.  With every breath I feel a new muscle start to relax.

And yet...

And yet, my mind won't stop.  It is buzzing and humming.  A noise I can not turn off.  Thinking about a playdate scheduled for the week, about clothes that need to be organized, laundry that needs to be folded, Christmas presents already bought and those still needing to be purchased, the grocery list, the bank account, a doctor's appointment.  It will not end.

I try rolling over, a new position.  But my line of vision includes the clock and I can only watch it tick forward, noting the precious minutes of sleep I am not getting.  I try listening to the heat kick on, hoping an outside noise can drown out the noise in my head, but it only reminds me of the dryer downstairs, that is currently working on a load that will need to be folded in the morning.

I think my thoughts will never stop.

And then, a doze.  In a jolt, I realize my thoughts were silent.

My mind is finally understanding what my body has been begging for since the beginning.  Sleep.

And finally, it comes.

Paige, enjoying some zzzzs (May 2010)


Nov 28, 2011

Christmas Through the Eyes of a Three-year-old

Sometimes, I can pat myself on the back for my parenting and imparting wisdom skills.

Like when Adam and Hope came home from the grocery store and Adam told me that he let Hope pick out candy for herself, and she suggested bringing something home for Paige too.

And then there are those other moments.

Like tonight when we watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  (Not the creepy Jim Carrey one, but the cute and classic Dr. Seuss cartoon.)

While we watched, I explained to Hope that the Grinch took all the decorations and presents from Whoville, but the Whos were still able to be happy and celebrate Christmas.

I told her that Christmas is about more than presents.  That Christmas is about love and peace and goodwill to man, and after I ended my "teachable moment," but before I could pat myself on the back, she asked,

"But Mommy, how can they have Christmas without presents and a tree?"

I just might have a bit more teaching to do...

Nov 23, 2011

The Obligatory Giving of Thanks Post

Today, I am thankful.

I am thankful for family, friends, and health.

However, if I am being honest, I do not always remember to be thankful.  I find myself feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  I get caught up in the unimportant things of life, instead of focusing on how full and blessed my life is.

So, as most people this week, I am trying to consciously meditate on what I am thankful for.  And of course, that includes my family, my friends, and our health.

This year, I also feel thankful for who I am.  For where I come from.  For all that makes me, me.  Of course there are always things I would like to change about myself, or am working on changing.  There are things I would like to do differently, or better.  But this post is not about that.  This is about me feeling thankful for everything and everyone who has shaped me into the person I am today.

My parents
My parents, my relatives, my ancestors, they make me who I am.  My strong grandmother who raised my father as a single mother.  My strict grandfather and step-grandmother, who instilled the importance of Austrian etiquette in us.  My sweet maternal grandmother, who I have but a few memories from before the nursing home.  And my cranky maternal grandfather, who would have adored Adam.  Their parents and grandparents before them.  Their lives, their traditions, their legacies, have led to my life.

My friends, my cheerleaders, they make me who I am.  My first boy friend from childhood, whose backyard was attached to ours.  The first family friends, with two little girls close to my age.  My elementary school friends, who hold such a deep place in my heart, I will never let them go.  My middle school friends, who weathered through that awkward time of life with me.  My high school friends, who have scattered across the country and are turning into beautiful adults.  My college friends, my work friends, my mommy friends, who have supported me and my insecurities into adulthood.  These people I love and care about, who love and care about me, have led to my life.

I am who I am, because of the experiences I had.  Some good, some great, some terrible, some wonderful.  I try to be thankful for them all.

Today, I am this me, because of my husband.  The quiet boy who fell in love with me on a bus in Ireland.  Who made me laugh, and made me love, and made me realize what life I wanted.

Today, I am this me, because of my daughters.  Who gave me the gift of motherhood and unconditional love.  Who snuggle me, who kiss me, who love me.  Who continually teach me the important things.

So many people, so many places, so many experiences, have made me who I am.

So today, and always, I am thankful.

Nov 22, 2011

Memories of Phyllo Dough and Baking Apples

I love the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  That's right, the day before the actual holiday.  Of course, part of the reason I used to love it was that after work was done (or school when I was younger), it was the beginning of a break of four days in a row.

But that's not really why I still love it.  The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving holds one of my favorite traditions from my family.

My Viennese father and Paige
When I was growing up, the night before Thanksgiving was reserved for a family gathering of apfelstrudel preparation.  (Apfelstrudel is an Austrian specialty. Apfel is German for apple, and strudel, well, I think strudel is strudel, right?)

My dad lugged our heavy box tv into the kitchen and rearranged the bunny ear antenna.  We watched a holiday program while we worked.  My sister, dad and I were recruited to peel and cut apples.  My mom worked with the phyllo dough, rubbing oil, rolling in apples, and baking to golden perfection.

We worked all evening, or at least that's what my childhood memory recalls, making strudel after strudel.  Even though this was our Thanksgiving weekend tradition, the strudel was not made to be enjoyed on the food-filled holiday.  Each strudel was wrapped in foil and frozen, to be given out to and enjoyed by family friends throughout the holiday season.

Winter in Vienna
The funny thing about this being one of my favorite traditions, is that I never actual enjoyed eating the strudel.  To those of you who do not already know this about me, I am not a fan of cooked apples.  I love raw apples and applesauce, but I do not like apple pie, apple crisp, homemade applesauce, or anything made with apples that have been cooked or baked.  There is just something about the mushy texture and flavor.

(Even weirder still is that I can enjoy every part of the baked apple product -- the crust, gooey filling -- but the actual apple.  Anyway...)

Adam and I have not continued this tradition with our own family.  Partially because we have two young girls who can't yet be recruited to peel apples.  Partially because it just doesn't work with our schedule.  And partially because I don't eat the apfelstrudel.  (I'm not usually one to make things I don't eat.)

But as we approach Wednesday, and I think of that happy tradition, I wonder if someday we can incorporate it into our new family.  Because, even though it's a lot of work, even though I don't eat it, that memory, and that pastry, is part of who I am.  And who doesn't want to pass that on to the next generation?


Linking up with Mama Kat


Nov 20, 2011

She is Not Herself

It’s that time of year again.  Tis’ the season.

No, not the ever-joyous holiday season.  The other season.  The runny-nose-flemmy-cough-spiking-fevers-cooped-up-inside-germ-spreading season.

At least, that’s the season we are in here in the Midwest.

And poor Little P is in the throws of it all.

And by “throws” I mean, drippy nose, cough, 104.4° temp, complete lethargy and fitful sleep.  After she started on antibiotics I was hoping she would show visible improvement.  Yes, her temp is gone as is the lethargy, but both have been replaced by the biggest mood swings I have EVER seen.  I mean, we’re talking worse than PMS here, people.

Instead of her usual this:

Happy Silly Paige

and this:

Happy Smiley Paige

We have been dealing with some of this:

Serious Unamused Paige

And this:

Crying Throwing Fits Paige

One minute she is perfectly fine (or at least, as fine as one can be while recovering from infection), the next second she is screaming, flailing her body, kicking her legs, throwing herself away from me, throwing herself at me, wanting to be up, wanting to be down, completely and totally crazy.  And it lasts FOR-EV-ER.  Or ten or so minutes.  I can’t really say for sure.

It doesn’t matter what time of day.  Morning, middle of the day, before bed.  Her moods are like a monkey swinging from tree to tree.  And nighttime.  Oh, the night.  Her sleep is like that of a newborn, waking every one to two hours, but instead of being lulled back to sleep by nursing or rocking, she is a crazy she-devil of the night.

Adam and I are considering an exorcism.

And I am at a loss.  Are these “just” temper tantrums?  Is this because she’s sick?  Her ears?  Is she just over-tired from her lack of sleep?  Is she developing some sort of mood or behavior disorder?  Really.  I am at a loss.

My mommy instinct worries that something else is going on here.  But Adam is pretty convinced we just need to be firmer and put our foot down with her.  (She has been a bit spoiled these past few days.)

If tonight is not better, I am taking her back to the doctor.  And maybe digging out my priest's phone number, just in case.