Thursday, September 30, 2010

Small Successes

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that." Over at Faith & Family they make a list of three small successes for that week. Here are my three:

1) Tom went and put tags on our suburban! This means that we actually have two usable cars! The success for me is that Tom goes to work at 7. I can still make it to mass at 8 without having to rush around and get everyone out the door at 7. I am also able to go visit friends, go do laundry, and so on without worrying about if I will have the car that day or picking Tom up after work.

2) My laundry is mostly done, folded, and put away! I have moved to a twice a week system thanks to my amazing wonderful mother-in-law(MIL) and sister-in-law(SIL)! Last Sunday my MIL and SIL approached me and said that they did not think it was a good idea for me to drag both girls through a laundry mat during flu season. They proposed that I do a few loads during the week at my SIL's house and a few loads on Sunday at my MIL's house during the weekly Sunday dinner. NO MORE LAUNDRY MAT!!

3) I have a friend! I am going to go visit another mom who has three children. Her second is two-and-a-half and her third was born the same week as Eliza. So perfect ages to be playmates with my children and we have a lot in common to talk about! I have a hard time making friends so it is wonderful to have another Catholic mom to talk to and visit with!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Discoveries

It is amazing to watch young children learn grow and discover new things. They learn when we think they aren't paying attention. But if you stop and think about it in a year they learn how to talk, walk, climb, and express themselves. By the time they turn two their personalities are becoming fully developed (sometimes to the chagrin of their parents).

Lulu has discovered books this week. I have always had books available for her and I have read to her but she has not shown much interest...that is until this week. Now she can't get enough of them! She is constantly bringing me books to read but she does not want them read just once. If she could convince me to read the same book five times in a row she would! I actually did read the same book five times in a row once thinking that she would get tired of it and move on. I quickly discovered that she could sit there and listen to me read the same book over and over and over and over and over ..... until I finally got sick of it. I have to remember to look up a toddler book program at the local library!

Eliza has discovered she has toes! She loves to lay on her back and hold her toes. She gently rocks from her side to her back holding on to her toes like she just made the greatest discovery in the whole wide world!

She is also learning how to sit up! With a little assistance from Mommy or Daddy she can prop up in a sitting position and sit there for a minute before falling over. It is amazing to think that in a month or so she is going to be sitting up by herself and crawling.

I think the most amazing part about watching both Lulu and Eliza discover the world is their zeal for life. Everything is fascinating and awe inspiring. Their sheer joy for life keeps me looking at the world with their eyes and finding a new awe for the simple things.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Big Red Truck

This past week I have been all but absent on the internet due to lack of sleep. My two beautiful little angels decided to tag team sleep both during the day and at night! I was so exhausted I only got the minimal amount of stuff I needed to do done.

I did however have some rather great excitement last week! Tom and I have been a one car family. It has been difficult at times but we made it work. Last week was one of those weeks where I desperately wished for a second vehicle. The laundry barely got done, grocery shopping never happen, Tom and I where playing musical cars and we both felt like we where losing the game. Then one day Tom texted me from work "Would you like a free suburban?" "Would I WHAT?"

My sister-in-law and her husband have a friend who was desperate to get rid of their big red suburban. It was a 1996 Chevy suburban. There are a few small problems: the AC doesn't work, if you park on a sharp incline it leaks transmission fuel very slightly, and the gas meter is not reliable when it gets past 1/4 tank. Except for those problems it is in great shape! We talked to a mechanic who told us that the AC is fixable and the transmission might be fixable. Worst case scenario we don't take long road trips in the summer and never park on sharp inclines. Best case scenario both are fixed and we have a great car!

We talked to an insurance agent if we do a few small things like take an online drivers ed course so that we qualify for the "good drivers" discount then it will only cost us $3 a month to insure.

Tom has declared that he finally has his "big red truck" and he is driving to and from work. I have our small Impala that I would rather have anyways and we are both happy! No more juggling cars! No more haggling over who gets the car on what day! No more trying to decide if Tom's errands for his job can be put off  or if my errands are more important i.e. I will not have to count underwear no more trying to decide if I can wait another day or two to go to the laundry mat!

With any luck this big red truck will last us a few years until we can afford a newer car! I have discovered that when I feel like everything is hopeless God provides something to remind me how blessed I truly am!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Adventures in Potty Land

A while back I told you I was going to venture into the scary world of potty training. For a while I simply had a potty and talked about what the potty was for. I must admit you lose a certain amount of your dignity when you catch yourself saying multiple times a day, "I am going to go potty. Mommy puts her pee pee in the potty." Lulu found in interesting but was not motivated to really try it.

My mother and my sister insisted the problem was I bought the blue and white potty instead of the pink potty (the blue potty was $9.50 and the pink was $16).  My mother sent money for me to buy Lulu a pink potty and pretty panties. I complied and bought the brightest pinkest potty I could find and Tinkerbell panties! Lulu LOVED the panties! She kept trying to put them on. Finally I relented and took that very scary step in potty training: I took off her diaper and put on panties!

At first everything was going really well. She went in the potty a couple of times but not a whole lot came out. She had kept her panties dry and I knew putting her back in a diaper would be a fight. I decided to swallow my fear and take her to pick Tom up from work. Everything was going fine. I even took her to the potty while there but the big potty scared her so she didn't do anything. Then right before we where going to leave she crawled into one of the empty school lockers and was playing happily. Then she closed the door and got very quiet. I should have known. She went all over the locker! I wanted to sink through the floor right there!

The next day I waited as long as I possibly could before putting the panties back on. Finally I gave in. Again everything was going fine. She even took herself to the potty! She only went a small amount though... again. I was experimenting that night for dinner. I was making Lasagna for the first time in my life! I even made the noodles! Lulu came up behind me and unleashed the mother load right as I was about to open the oven.

I have decided she needs a little more time before she is ready for potty training. I have put the panties away for now. I will pull them out again in a month or two.

Library

I have not taken Lulu to the Library in a while. Last time I took her there she was more interested in running in circles yelling than looking at books. Yesterday, Tom took Lulu  to the Library. She walked into the children's section and her eyes grew big, her mouth dropped open, and she exclaimed, "Books! For me!" I will be looking up a toddler program at the local Library.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Small Successes

It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, Faith & Family encourages moms to do exactly that. Here are my three small successes:

1) I planned out my Advent and Christmas traditions. Every year so far Advent and Christmas have not gone as I would like and have been completely unplanned. I decided to take charge this year! I am working in advance to take the stress out of the season and put the fun back in!

2) I threw a stress-free birthday party for Lulu!! This is huge! I planned a party in-advance, I did all of my prep work in-advance, and because of my awesome new cleaning systems there was no real stress cleaning! I had all my in-laws over and did not stress about how my house looked, how dinner was, or anything!

3) I created a menu plan for the week, I only went to the grocery store once this week, and I figured out how to plan enough in advance to only go grocery shopping once every other week!! No more last minute trips to the grocery store! No more scrambling to figure out dinner at 4:00 pm! No more stress over the grocery bill!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Traditions Continued

After remembering my favorite childhood traditions, talking to Tom about his favorite childhood traditions, and thinking about the traditions we have always wanted to do we have come up with a general idea of what we want Advent and Christmas to be like. Here is our list of traditions that we wish to do:

ADVENT

1) Start finding and setting up decorations after Thanksgiving so that we are ready on the first Sunday of Advent. We will start with only an Advent wreath and Nativity Scene and slowly add decorations throughout Advent so that we put up the final glory touches on Christmas Eve. Our hope to add a wow factor and make Christmas seem magical.

2) Advent Wreath. We would like to follow the tradition of lighting the advent candles every Sunday in Advent and having on our table as a constant reminder of what we are doing. In my family we used the same prayer service every year. In Tom's family they used a different one each year. I like the idea of only having one that we use each year and it is something that over the years the children kind of start to memorize. We have yet to find a prayer service that both of us are satisfied with.

3) The night before the feast of St. Nicholas we will hang stockings and put small religious gifts in them. When the children open their gifts we can discuss everything St. Nicholas did in his lifetime.

4) Feast of the Immaculet Conception is Dec.8 I have no idea how to celebrate this properly. Any ideas?

5) Feast of St. Lucy we will make fresh bread and have a nice breakfast feast.

6) We plan on putting up the Christmas tree between the third and fourth week of Advent but not light it until after Christmas vigil.

7) I have thought about doing an Advent calendar or some sort of prayer/count down to Christmas. What have been your favorite thing to do?

CHRISTMAS

1 ) Christmas Vigil followed by an "after vigil party" where we will have a cheese and meat tray (from Swiss Colony Catalog), nuts (peanut free from Nifty Nut House), and a homemade sweet.  This is when we will light up the Christmas tree and open our first gift.

2) Christmas morning we will have a big breakfast with cinnamon rolls.

3) We will light the Christ candle either at the after vigil party or Christmas morning with a small prayer service.

4) We plan on opening up our gifts slowly throughout the 12 days of Christmas.

5) There are 12 days of Christmas not 1 like most in our country celebrate. We hope to make all 12 festive and not have that after Christmas day let down that everyone seems to have. We plan on doing this by have very nice festive meals and desserts every night throughout the 12 days. We will also not open all of our gifts on Christmas day but spread it out over the Christmas season.

TREATS

To be able to pull off having treat all 12 days of Christmas and have our home feeling like it is overflowing with Christmas joy we need to have lots of treats that are not stressing mama. I think the best way to accomplish this is to have a list of treats that we want to have and start once a week in October baking/making mixes and putting them back or freezing them. Here is the my first brainstorming list. This is not my final list some of these may go, some may be added, I don't really know. My goal is to make a list of the sweets we are going to have and a schedule of when they are going to be baked.

1) chocolate chip cookie dough frozen so that we can have fresh baked cookies whenever we want them.

2) Brownie mixes

3) Chocolate Pecan Pie

4) Coconut cream praline pie

5) Chocolate pie

6) cake mixes

7) Kettle corn

8 ) Puppy Chow (peanut free version)

9) Fudge

10) Toffee

11) Cheese cake (does homemade cheesecake freeze?)

12) Sugar cookies

13) Petite fours? Tom want to try making them but I am not sure we can pull that off.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lulu is 2

Two years ago today I was laying on a hospital bed exhausted and weak and completely overwhelmed with joy! I held my little girl for the first time! I remember my father coming up to the hospital and picking up my 5.15 pound little beauty and saying, "She is perfect. Absolutely perfect." That is all he said. Over and over. His comment echoed my thoughts exactly she was and is perfect.

There are not words to describe my feelings. It is nothing short of a miracle to watch that tiny creature grow. She went from being a tiny tiny baby who could barely hold her head up (she did hold her head up the day she was born) to now she is a running, jumping, talking, dancing, full of personality little girl! I find something new to marvel at each day. Everyday she does something that completely catches me off guard and makes me smile. It might be a new word, a new conversation ability, an act of great generosity from one so small, an act of comfort as she runs to her sister, it might be how big her smile is or how bright her blue eyes are. There is no end to the things to marvel at while watching a baby grow into a toddler, a toddler into a little girl.

Her favorite things are ice cream, swimming, going to the park, anything pink, Tinkerbell, dresses, shoes, and anything Daddy is doing.

I love her more than I knew one could love. That is all I can say.

I love her.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lulu and Eliza

I have to stop and take a moment to write down the cute moments between Lulu and Eliza:

8) When I hold Eliza in a standing position Lulu comes running over very excited! She gives her a quick kiss on the head then she grabs Eliza's hand and holds it for a few moments. Lulu normally becomes distracted at this moment and tries to lead Eliza over to some toys.

8) When Eliza is laying on the living room floor Lulu will lay down next to her and chatter away!

8) When Eliza is in her bouncy seat and starting to fuss then Lulu will sit next to her, kiss her, and show off whatever toy is nearby.

8) Eliza loves to stand in my lap and smile at Lulu! She get the biggest grins while watching Lulu play.

8) Eliza HATES her car seat. She screams and screams! From the back seat I can hear Lulu saying, "Shhhhh! Shhhh! Zizzy sad!"

8) When Lulu realized that Eliza is in her bassinet Lulu will climb onto my bed and reach over into the bassinet to pat Eliza.

8) Lulu loves to run over to Eliza and kiss her! She does it randomly all day.

8) When Eliza starts screaming we will tell Lulu, "Do you hear Eliza? She is sad! Why don't you give her a kiss?" Lulu will promptly run off and give Eliza a big slobbery kiss.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Traditions

For the last few years Advent and Christmas snuck up on me. I would turn around and suddenly I needed to be decorating and wrapping presents but I wasn't at all prepared. The traditions I wanted to maintain where either forgotten all together or done haphazardly at the last minute. This year I am determined to take the stress out of the season and put the fun back in!

I am starting at a simple baby step of day dreaming; remembering what it was like when I was little. Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas. A time of joyful preparation for the coming of Christ. My family would always do an Advent Wreath. A wreath with three purple candles, one pink candle, and a big white candle in the middle. We would clear our dining room table with candles and turn out all the lights in the house so the only light was from the candles. My father would ask us what the candle for that week stood for (Bethlehem, Prophets, Angels, and Shepherds) it was always a contest to see who could remember first. We sing a song, then Papa read a passage from the bible, followed by a prayer, then we would sit around in the candle light singing all of our favorite Advent hymns. At the end Papa would say, "Ok, blow out the candles!" And we would all rush to see who could blow out the most candles.

During Advent my mother would bake all kinds of goodies. The house always smelled of fresh bread, cinnamon, and nutmeg! Some of the goodies she froze for Christmas, some of them she wrapped for presents, and some of them she put into baskets for Christmas caroling. Every year my mother would ask us who we wanted to carol. We would make a list of old people, sick people, lonely people, and of course our cousins. Then one afternoon we would load all of our baskets into the car and go caroling. I can remember one little old lady who would cry and say every year, "Christmas is here!" I greatly enjoyed the tradition but I don't think my siblings appreciated it as much once they reached their teenage years.

After a month's build up finally Christmas Eve would arrive! On Christmas Eve we would go to my grandparent's house for a huge potluck with all my my mother's extended family. There where uncles and aunts everywhere not to mention an army of cousins. We would romp around on my grandparent's farm and cause all types of havoc! There would be a huge gift exchange, tons of food, mischief of all kinds, my grandfather always had a fire that made the house WAY too hot,  and eventually we all headed home tired. My parents sent us strait to bed to rest because we always attended midnight mass.

I love midnight mass! It is so neat to make our way to the church in the dark of the night and enter into the beautifully lit church. I could go on and on about midnight mass but that would be getting away from the point of this post.

After mass we would come home to find that gifts had magically appeared underneath the tree. My parents had rolls of unused white news paper so there would be stacks of white packages with our names on them. We would pull out one of my mother's goodies that she had put back. After eating we would all go to bed completely exhausted.

On Christmas morning my mother would make the most amazing cinnamon buns! The house always smelled amazing! Everyone would partake in the sticky goodness. While eating our cinnamon buns we would have our last prayer service with the advent candles to light the big Christ candle. We would leave all the candles lit all day until they melted down. Prayer was followed by gift time! My father would hand out each gift one by one and we would watch as everyone opened their gifts. It was always wonderful to watch someone open a gift I had got for them and see the look on their face!

Later on in the day was the big Christmas feast! I always loved helping with the dinner preparations and setting the table with the best China and silver. We would have turkey, homemade dinner rolls, potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce (my personal favorite), and many other goodies!

When I think back to how magical and wonderful our traditions where and how my parent's used them to teach us about our faith I can't wait to make my own for my children! I hope I can do as wonderful a job as my mother in making the season magical for my children!

What where your favorite Advent/Christmas tradition growing up? What are some of your favorite traditions that you do today?

Friday, September 3, 2010

You Know Your a Mommy When...

1) You catch your daughter's spit up and think "Why the heck did I just do that?" Only to do it again a short time later.

2) A "good nights rest" is 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

3) You know how to type while holding a child.

4) Your main conversations center on bodily functions such as bowel movements.

5) You say things such as "Mommy is going to go potty. Mommy and Daddy put their poop on the potty."

6) A "date night" is when both kids go to sleep early and you curl up on the couch together or bake something new in the kitchen.

7) Your life centers around nap time and bed time.

8 ) You look forward to the evening when your husband returns so you can carry on a conversation outside of three word sentences.

9) The only movie you watch is Tinker Bell.

10) You seek out other moms to commiserate with/get advice from even if that is only online.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Small Successes

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph." That is the philosophy of Faith&Family blog each Thursday.

1) I took Lulu out everyday this week even if we only walked to the park. Everyday we went for a walk or shopping or something out of the apartment. Living on the third floor without an elevator it is VERY easy to come up with excuses not to leave.

2) My laundry is done, folded, and put away! This is quite a feat seeing as though I have to get it down three flights of stairs, watch both girls at the laundry mat, then get it back into the car, drive home, and ask my sweet amazing husband to carry it up the stairs.

3) I have kept my home picked up! I have continued to use a morning and night routine to keep my home looking nice.