Saturday, August 31, 2013

How to Make Pancakes with a Toddler

One of my favorite things to do is cook, especially when I get to try a new recipe, and there's plenty of time to just enjoy creating something. I've wanted to include E, and I'm finding that, even as a toddler, there's so much she can help with in the kitchen. Also, anything that involves mixing, water, and getting messy is a big hit with kids her age, so it keeps her engaged.

She's stable on her feet, so I let her stand on a chair at the counter, out of reach of the stove, of course!

I have to note this first, because I'm the type of person who initially imagines how this is going to play out in my head, and it's like a scene out of an episode of the Brady Bunch -- pristine kitchen, child in an apron, stirring steadily, mother and daughter happily smiling at each other...: Expect a mess. On the Brady Bunch, there wasn't really batter in that bowl, and that family was being paid a lot of money to look happy all time.
  1. Have your camera handy, but not too close to the cooking area. My phone was almost cooked into a pancake.
  2. Find a mixing bowl that isn't too deep, that your toddler can see into.*
  3. Give her a spoon. She can begin pretending to stir while you gather your ingredients (see below for the recipe I used).
  4. As you'll see below, I substitute applesauce (or any kind of pureed fruit) for egg. This is because, your child is going to eat the batter at some point and, if they're anything like my darling daughter, will use the spoon as a catapult to fling batter at you and everything else in a 6-foot radius.
  5. If you want, pour your ingredients into a separate bowl, one a time, and let your child pour into the main mixing bowl. E loves pouring, so it really keeps her interested.
  6. Let her stir. Even if more ends up outside the bowl than in. It's just so cute.
  7. Take pictures.
  8. Let her dig her hands into the batter, eat it, wipe it on her shirt, in her hair.
  9. Take more pictures!
  10. Get your pan ready.

    *Before E was big enough to stir, I would put all of my ingredients for a cake or muffins into a big Ziploc bag, seal it up, and let E mix the ingredients by playing with the bag, mashing it with her hands, or stomping it with her feet. Just make sure to squeeze out any excess air before sealing it, to keep the bag from popping.
Here are a few ideas to keep your toddler busy while you cook the pancakes, or at least the first one for them to eat:
  1. Let her spoon a enough batter for each pancake into a separate bowl or bowls. E didn't want to do this, so I tried something different:
  2. Move her to the sink to rinse the bowls, spoons, and measuring cups you used. I use a strainer to keep the dishes within her reach. Of course, all she really did was pour water in and out of everything, but it did rinse the dishes and kept her busy until her pancake was ready.
  3. While she eats, finish using the rest of the batter. This recipe only makes about 4 medium-sized pancakes, so it was quick.
  4. Clean up whenever. By the time we were done, every inch of E was covered in batter and maple syrup, so she got a bath first.
Once I learned to let go of the messiness and the fact that there was going to be baby backwash in our pancakes, this ended up being a really fun thing to do together! I hope you enjoy cooking with your little one!

The recipe:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. white sugar (or more to taste)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c. applesauce (or 1 baby fruit pouch)
1 c. milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

He Kept The...

I really wanted to get in a weekend post covering the prompts in the Bloggy Moms’ Blog Dare. So, I thought I’d do a weekend recap covering Friday (“He kept the…”), Saturday (“That was the only rational…”), and Sunday (“There’s no hiding it now.”)

I don’t write about my husband, Mark, very often, or at least I don’t usually dedicate an entire post to him. He appears in a supporting role in my stories about E, her ever-faithful friend, father, and valet. This weekend, as usual, he kept the family grounded. It’s hard to describe our relationship. It feels like… that, on any given day, I rotate roles from being the sea, the wind, the sailboat, the waves, the hurricane, the seagull, the homeless man, the mom, the child. He is always the shore. Always.

What does that mean? That means that, on Saturday morning, when I tried to keep everything straight in my head about what I needed to do before leaving the house: dishes, laundry, packing suitcases, E’s nap, shower, time for Mark’s shower, pick up living room, lunch, when to do freelance work, when to blog, when to proofread articles, doctor’s appointments, my parents visiting, wondering where my planner was … I had a meltdown. I stood over my suitcase, all these first-world problems swimming in my head, and I started crying. Shaking, wide-eyed. “Now I have to, um… brush my teeth? Wash my hair? I, um…” That was the only rational thing to do, wash my hair.

Mark came over and put his arm around me. “One thing at a time, okay? Let’s get E down for her nap, then we can focus on packing our suitcases and getting lunch. I’ll get ready now.”

Ok, and life continues as normal… one day, one hour, one minute at a time. My entire day is spent thinking ahead, trying to anticipate what will happen, prevent disaster, plan for celebration. I feel like my life has changed so much.

I told Mark a few weeks ago, “It’s just that – I need you to appreciate that my life has changed, in a drastic way. It’s not a bad thing at all… it’s just an adjustment, a huge adjustment. I used to work all day, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. Now, I get up, make lunches, get E’s stuff ready. I work the morning, pick her up, and I’m responsible for another life for the next 5+ hours… snack time, park time, bath time, dinner time, bed time. You, on the other hand, get up, help her get dressed, and you go on with your life as usual. Not much has changed for you. By the time you get home, E is in bed or almost in bed, and you get to eat dinner, watch TV, and relax in the evenings. I know I’m not always entirely denied that time, but our responsibilities aren’t the same. And it’s not that I want you to feel guilty for not being around… it’s that I want you to appreciate what I do, support me as much as you can, and help as often as you can.”

Yeah, that was a long soliloquy. Mark is not one to change his ways easily. He’s a man of habit, and he’s spent his entire lifetime doing things his own way without much need to change. He eases into change slowly, carefully, methodically.

It drives me f*cking crazy. I jump in head first, cause a huge splash, make a big mess, drag us through the chaos, then work my way backward, fixing things in reverse.

But, this is why he’s my shore – steady, changing slowly, methodically as the waves wash over him.

This weekend, he remembered things I had forgotten to pack, he thought to put gas in the car, he filled E’s sippy cup to take in the car. He thought ahead, he thought like me. He took care of E with the patience of a saint, and gave her all the support and encouragement that I would have given her as she moved through her day.

Every time I found some task finished in the house, some little thing he did for E, like remembering to put her morning milk in the fridge, I smiled. He was trying, and by trying I mean – doing exactly what I needed him to do in the quest for helping me survive this new, incredible life. He was trying to figure me out, anticipate what I needed -- before I had to tell him, when possible.

I know I'm lucky. I know I have more help than other moms, and often more than I deserve. I know he's the best dad for my little girl, letting her be both a tomboy and a little lady, sweetly catering to all her ever-changing needs.

And, there’s no hiding it now – I’m in love, like the first time. E does something sweet, and we smile at each other. We flirt over dinner dishes and laugh while wiping up pee off the floor.

Before we drove off to Mark’s parents’ house on Saturday afternoon, I asked him, teary-eyed, “Do you still love me?” He laughed and said, “I love you so, so, so much. More than ever.”

Huge sigh of relief… “Oh, good! Me too.”

Friday, August 23, 2013

We Spent Every Second...

I don't even know what to write about for this Bloggy Moms' Blog Dare. The only thing that I do "every second" is worry. What if E falls down, gets sick, gets a sunburn, gets bug bites? What if I... fall down, get sick, get a sunburn, get bug bites? What if we all die??

My anxiety is always worse with anything medical going on. I went in for a routine check up the other day and tests (just a follow up to my last episode with stomach pain), and the doctor had some minor concerns, so he sent me home but wanted me to come back next week for a quick, "just to make sure everything is ok" test. I did that, and the tests were positive for some kidney-related problems.

Ugh, I hate this stuff. Of course, I asked the stupid question, "Is there a risk this could be something serious?" My doctor said, "Well, yeah -- kidney disease." (panic) "What?" He stressed that he thought there was a low chance of it being that, but still... Did he have to just jump right into it like that? Couldn't he have started with... "I think you're at a low risk for this..."?

Anyway, I just did a round of 24 hour tests last night, and I woke up exhausted and wanting to sleep. I worry constantly. The only time I don't worry is when I pick up E. My mind must switch into mom-mode -- in which there's no room for worry.

When I was seeing a counselor for anxiety during my pregnancy, I would tell her that I was worried that I would be so worried that I would never enjoy my pregnancy. And, the same applies to having E now. If I can't let go of all this worry, how can I really enjoy my kid? Of course, I do. It's hard to focus on anything negative when she's around. The counselor also recommended another tactic. She said, "Every time you feel happy with your pregnancy, with your baby, take a time-out to just enjoy that feeling, relish it."

So, I've been doing that a lot lately. I hug her way too much, kiss her big baby cheeks. We rarely go home, because that doesn't offer enough distractions. We go to the park, to the beach, for stroller walks, to window shop.

Yesterday, we drove down a country rode and looked at the big houses, standing tall in perfectly manicured lawns, fields rising behind them, then mountains, darker mountains, and blue skies. I imagined living here. E must have thought the same thing, because she spoke up from the back seat and went on and on about everything she saw:

"Mommy! Look! A house! A big house! I want that house. (pointing to another house) I want that house! I want to buy a house. I want a house with flowers. I want a house with Mommy."

"Someday, bugaboo!" I say, as we happily dream.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Scariest Move

Do any of you work in healthcare? Because I need you to explain something to me...

Ok, a little background info first: Today's Bloggy Moms' Blog Dare prompt is: The Scariest Move. I've made a lot of scary moves in my life -- literal moves, to a new state. I've made some scary life choices, and my daughter has been making some downright scary jumps off of the furniture lately, but today I have to write about how scared I am for the human race and their sheer lack of intelligence.

I will be the first to admit that I'm a tad ditzy, but when it comes to my day job, I'm pretty much on the ball -- mainly because I've been doing the same job or similar jobs for the last 13 years.

So, I have to ask myself, unless someone is a complete moron... how hard is it to be a receptionist in a medical office? I can see how there are responsibilities beyond the normal receptionist duties. I mean, I've had to hand them a poop sample, so I sympathize with the fact that they may have to handle fecal matter and wash their hands more often than a receptionist at... a real estate office. They also must have to deal with a lot of weird medical questions/symptoms. I'm trying to empathize here, and I would never just say, with 100% certainty, that anyone's job is easy, especially not having done the job myself.

However, when it comes to scheduling appointments, unless it's your first day(s) on the job, I expect you to be able to make things happen. The following has happened to me now, twice. The first woman, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. "Maybe she's just having an off-day," I thought.

When it happened a second time, today, I could only conclude that they're training people to respond this way to questions, regardless of the information they're given... or that... all people are idiots. Here was my conversation.

R (cheerily): Hello, Can'tFindOurAssesWithBothHands Hospital!
Me: Hi, I'm calling to make an appointment. I called earlier to schedule, but the doctor's office had made an error on the request. It's been fixed now, and they told me that I could call to schedule.
R: Have you scheduled an appointment?
Me: What? Is this an automated receptionist? (pushes 1 a few times)
R: Have you made an appointment?
Me: No, I need an appointment. (better stick to 4-word sentences)
R: Well, I don't see you in our system.
Me: Ok, well I can call back later. The doctor's office just said that I could call to schedule right away.
R: Ohhh... the papers are stuck together!! Here you are! Hahahaha!
Me: Heh. Ok, great.
R:When would you like an appointment?
Me: Well, what's available?
R (annoyed): This works much better if you tell me when you'd like your appointment.
Me: I'm not sure this is working at all. Um, ok. What's available in the next 2 days?
R: Well, what time do you prefer?
Me: Between 12 and 2 works best for me.
R: We have Friday at 11!
Me: What else is available, any time, on Thursday or Friday?
R: We only have Friday at 11.
Me: Hahaha! Ok... But, then... um. Why? Nevermind, ok.
R: Hahaha! So, should I put you down for Friday at 11?

She had no idea why I was laughing... and I still can't get over the fact that the last time I called a completely different doctor's office, the same thing happened -- the woman insisted I pick a time during a week span when I wanted to have my appointment. I insisted that she tell me what was available, since my schedule is pretty flexible. She actually got angry, made me tell her times that worked for me, then said, "We only have Thursday at 2."

Seriously, you're scaring me, healthcare system. Set up a robot to take my appointment, please.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I'm Going to Talk to Her

Another Bloggy Moms' Blog Dare! I'm Going to Talk to Her...

Melissa introduced me to this incredible pic!
Via the blog!
Do you (or did you) find that as you grew into your role as a mom that it became increasingly easier to talk to people, especially about matters relating to your child?

I struggle with being confrontational. I was great at it when I was younger, but now I value my relationships more and want to handle matters in a mature, rational way, while causing the least amount of damage... instead of saying the first thing that pops into my mind... especially, because, let's face it, my mind is a strange place to be. One minute, I'm thinking about going for a walk in the park, the next what I'll make for dinner, and then, "Are fairies real?" and "What would Nicholas Cage look like as a Disney princess?" (shakes my head).

I also have a history of being somewhat offensive, both in- and unin-tentionally. If you get me angry enough, I may come out with a random, "Well, you smell like garbage" or "That's okay, at least I don't look like... Nicholas Cage dressed as a Disney princess."

And, I'm totally distracted right now, because my co-worker (the one whose wife must work for the Food Network) just opened a Tupperware container filled with freshly-heated goulash. The smell wafted right in my direction, and I'm going to attack him.

Ok, where were we? (wipes sauce off my face)

Oh yeah, it's hard for me to confront someone, even in my mellow, everything-is-okay way. To add to the internal struggles, my anxiety tells me things like, "Don't let E go near mosquitoes..." She plays outside near the woods at day care every day, and last year I got really concerned about mosquitoes and which nasty little diseases they might spread to my kid.

It was one of the first things I felt like I needed to discuss with E's day care teacher, and I struggled so much. Three days I went in, dropped E off with the teacher, said, "I'm going to talk to her," and left without saying anything. Then I worried all day that she'd come home with bug bites.

I don't know what I was more afraid of, bug bites, or the day care teachers thinking I was crazy. Finally, I went in on the fourth day, and tried for an opening to discuss it... "How has the weather been in the morning?" I said, casually. She said, "Fine, and the kids really love being outside!"

"BUT WHAT ABOUT MOSQUITOES!!??" I yelled, in my head.

Then calmly, "I've been worried about mosquitoes and all this talk about illness spreading via mosquito bites. Do you think I should bring in some bug spray for E? And are there any that would be environment-friendly and okay for a baby?"

Pretty sure she was wondering how we went from, "Fine weather we're having!" to "Where are the mosquitoes? How can I kill them all and protect the tiny, innocent children from their certain demise?"

But she was very professional and told me that they haven't had any mosquito problems, recommended some bug sprays if I was concerned, and told me not to worry. Then I was fine. I just had to talk it out, to put the "crazy" out on the table.

The good thing was that, the more I forced myself to talk to her, even about little things, the easier it got to talk to her about everything, and now we even joke about all my funny anxieties I had about E when she was a baby. E has been going to the same day care now for over a year, and I have a great relationship with the staff there. It's made the entire process so much easier, and I find it much easier to talk to people about what is and isn't okay when it comes to my kid!

Monday, August 19, 2013


I've never been a big "losing my temper" kind of girl. I usually internalize my anger, and it bubbles up as anxiety or depression later. Before I had E, I distinctly remember a few times when I got so angry that I threw something or punched a pillow. My anger would come on fast, like a bubble at the bottom of a pool, quickly rising to the top. Once there, I had my outburst, cried for awhile, then moved on. It was usually triggered by having to deal with 3+ issues at once. If money was a problem, I was late for work, I remembered that I had a doctor's appointment, and say, I spilled a glass of milk on the floor.

So, I worried about how I'd handle motherhood. Essentially, you're operating with 3+ triggers all the time. Money's almost always a problem. I'm always late for something. There's always a doctor's appointment looming, and there's milk everywhere. And what's worse is that there's a little person running around you, watching you, waiting to see how you'll react -- a little person who actually tries to trigger reactions and make you fly off the handle.

But, I'm different. Somehow. My anger moves more like the wax blobs inside a lava lamp. It doesn't quite sneak up on me like it used to. Still, there are a few things that have made me want to throw my metaphorical lava lamp at the wall, that caused me to have that "Enough!!," "pull-the-car-over," "oh-my-sweet-Lord," "somebody-help-me" moment. They were:

  • E's repeated pterodactyl screams in the car
  • E staying up until 4am wanting to 'pway wit doggie'
  • Mark not taking the trash/recycleables out after I asked 5+ times over the course of 2 weeks.

And even in those moments, I caught myself before the lava lamp bubble rose too high. I took my anger out on myself. I punched my legs or slapped myself in the face, screamed into a pillow, or made Mark get me some cookies to angrily eat. All totally normal, reasonable reactions, I think.

My only regret in those maybe 5+ moments over the last year was that I couldn't see the big picture. I have to forgive myself for it, because I'm a generally short-sighted, in-the-moment person anyway, and I'm learning, but if I had only known -- that these little parenting challenges are such a small part of this amazing journey I'm on.

Today, I came out of the bathroom, and E greeted me like I had returned from a 2-week vacation. She threw her arms around my legs, hugged me, then said, "Mama, pick up!?" "Always!" I said, as I scooped her into my arms. She played with my hair, smiled at me, then smushed her face right up against mine, nose-to-nose and said, "Ahhhh!!!" in a "Got you, Mama!" way.

And I will never get enough of that!

Want to join in the fun? Visit the Bloggy Moms' Blog Dare page!

Zentangle Blog

Photo from
No, I didn't start my own Zentangle blog. Aren't you proud of me? Because, I pretty much want to start a new blog every time I start a new hobby. But, someone already has... (pouts) And, "aint nobody got time for that," at least nobody who already has a blog or 2, or 3 (ahem).

But, here are some sites that are doing it better than I could have anyway:
Zentangle Blog
Zentangle on Pinterest
Tangle Patterns (thanks to a friend of a friend)

Now I wish I could stay up another hour and doodle, but I have to get some sleep. Night, night readers!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Are You Doing?/I Didn't Call You

Doggy Birthday Party!
Let's see if I can work 2 blog prompts into 1 post! That'll cover my weekend!

On Saturday, we went to a birthday party for a dog. So, that's what I was doing. Yup. Our local toy shop is run by a sweet older couple who have a dog, Isabelle (Izzy). E absolutely loves that dog. Any time I have to stop in for a birthday gift, she spends most of her time kissing and hugging her. The last time we were there, the owner told us about the birthday party, and I thought it sounded like a good event for us all.

Kim (Auntie Bee), of Pugs and Pics, joined us as she would never miss out on a dog birthday party, and we hadn't seen her in weeks. We got our faces painted -- flowers for the girls, and a pirate's eye patch for Mark. Later he tried to wash it off which resulted in his entire face turning black. He was the whitest black guy I'd ever seen.

There were also balloon dogs, a collar-making station, goodie bags, and a scavenger hunt. Outside we ate hot dogs, chips, and drank lemonade. It was very low-key and perfect for her age.

We brought E home for a nap, and Bee and I went out shopping, or "browsing" as I call it (until payday comes), though I did have some good finds at Goodwill.

When we got home, we took E to the Malt Shop for dinner and ice cream. Kim took a sexy pic of me nibbling on a sweet potato fry. She texted it my mobile number. Then she realized that the mobile number for me in her contact list was actually a really old number, and someone else received this gem of an image.

Oh, hello!
Not only had this person never called me, they had no idea who I was, well, that is, other than someone who really likes sweet potato fries. They quickly wrote back, "Wrong number." The fact that they actually took the time to write back is pretty impressive, I think. They obviously wanted to make sure that they didn't get the next image in the series.

We all laughed, ate some mango sorbet for dessert. Then we took E to the park. Even though it was late, I had promised her. She loved it, and it was nice to be out in the cool, late-summer evening, just before sunset.

The moon was rising above the mountains, and E was so interested in it. She had been rock collecting and was holding a particularly round rock in her hand. As she jumped and stretched to reach the moon, I told her not to worry, that some day she'd be able to reach it. I picked her up to help.

Then I told her how big the moon was, about 1/4th the size of Earth, but from here it looked much smaller. I took the round rock out of her hand and held it up to block out the moon. She took it back from me and did the same thing. I gave her a big kiss on the cheek and took her home to put her to bed.

It was a good day.

Want to join in the fun? Visit the Bloggy Moms' Blog Dare page!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Am I in the Wrong Place?

Bloggy Moms' Blog Dare -- Am I in the Wrong Place?

The Blog Dare on Bloggy MomsI've asked myself this question a million times -- in the wrong relationships, in the wrong college courses, in the wrong city.

I'm blessed to have a happy marriage and a husband who has stuck by his vows and who has proven over and over again that he will put up with absolutely anything, with an undying loyalty like nothing I've ever experienced. Still, when he lets recycleables pile up or refuses to take out the trash, I ask myself, "Is he the one for me?" I'm laughing out loud as I write this, because 1. It's true, and 2. It's absolutely ridiculous.

The only place I don't question is the empty space by my daughter's side, the space that I so perfectly fit into.

In this space, I have suffered physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, which ebbed and flowed as I attempted to correct it.

In this space, I have waited through time-outs and temper tantrums. I've been hit in the face with a plastic ball, a flip-flop, green beans.

In this space, I have been thrown up on, pooped on. (One second, I'm gagging a bit here.)

Yesterday, in this space, while I made lasagna for dinner, she stood beside me and screamed at the top of her lungs over and over... and over again for a full 5 minutes.

Yet, this question did not once cross my mind: "Am I in the wrong place?"

In this space, I have concluded time-outs with gentle words, read bedtime stories, dried tears, wiped a runny nose, received hugs and kisses, and laughed until my sides hurt. I've heard the words "I love you" for the first time, and "Mommy."

I so rightfully belong in this place, anchored to this spot.

Ad - Stay Made

Hi, readers, I wanted to share this product with you, because it seems like such a great idea! Though this bedding is for kids, my mom was just saying last visit, "Wouldn't it be great if you could just zip yourself into your bed?" Mark hates having his feet uncovered, and I love mine free to breathe! My mom proceeded to create something not quite as elegant as the StayMade system in the guest room. It involved flannel sheets, a sleeping bag, and Mark waking up at 2am saying, "Good Lord, my body is on fire!"
My mom insisted that, still, we should invent something similar... Lucky for my lazy butt, I don't have to -- Kristin & Craig and Nate & Morgan already have!

This bedding system looks fantastic. It seems like a lot of thought and time went into designing this and choosing materials, and I'm glad to see that real parents are making useful products for kids. Check out their website here and if you can, support their Kickstarter Campaign!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why Did I Let it Weigh Me Down?

Bloggy Moms' Blog Dare -- Why Did I Let It Weigh Me Down?

The Blog Dare on Bloggy MomsI was surprised that running ended up being more of an emotional accomplishment than a physical one. My anxiety/depression is a weight and a voice. It tells me that I’m not good enough, that I won’t be able to prevent things that are… inevitable anyway. It tells me that I’m awkward, goofy, ugly, strange; and every day is a battle to fight against that weight.

The first day I started running, I ran about 30 seconds, felt miserable, and told myself: “You’re too old, you sat too much during your pregnancy, you don’t eat well, you don’t drink enough water. You can’t do this.”

Want! (
Then, the next day I ran for 45 seconds and repeated my negative thought process. In that moment, I felt sad, defeated.

But this time, I reacted differently. Every day my daughter falls down. I pick her up. She cries, “Ellie fell down!” and I say, “I’m so sorry, let’s get up!” I tell her, “You can’t eat cookies for breakfast, but you can have fruit.” I tell her, “You can’t play with a steak knife, but we can pretend to cook with your kitchen set.”

So, could it be that I’m even better prepared to deal with my own whining? I found myself responding to my own ridiculous complaints:

“I’m ugly and awkward.” – “Maybe, sure, but can you change it? No. Move on.”
“I’m old.” – “There are people who started training older than you.”
“I sat too much during my pregnancy.” – “You had a lot of anxiety, it’s okay.”
“I don’t always eat well.” – “A good reason to start running and eating better. Just do your best.”
“I don’t drink enough.” – “Drink more water tomorrow.”

And I did! I did all of those things. Also, the first day, I ran in a more public place. I felt like everyone was watching me. I was so uncomfortable. So, the next day, I ran down the main street in town – fewer people on the sidewalk, but more traffic on the main road – so I didn’t feel completely isolated if I, say, collapsed from exhaustion and needed a senior citizen to let me push their Life Alert button.

It took about a week to overcome my fear of exercising in public, but now it seems completely natural. Then the physical stuff was even easier to overcome – once I found a decent sports bra. You’d be surprised what that can do for your balance and confidence – when your boobs aren’t smacking other runners in the face as you fly by! Each day, I ran further and felt better. Now I can run up to 2 minutes at a time for 4 sessions! 8 whole minutes! It’s also getting easier to go beyond those 2 minutes, so I know that soon I’ll be able to do a full mile non-stop.

I’m also motivated by the fact that I’ve kept this up now for 3 months. That’s a big accomplishment for me, and I should celebrate it… [[dream sequence]] by eating steak and garlic mashed potatoes, buttered carrots, chocolate cake, and a fruit & cheese platter (happy sigh). And I can actually eat that – guilt free!

I also find that I can chase my daughter around – really chase her. Every day she gets faster on her little legs, and I don’t have to struggle to keep up with her.

The other day, traffic was stopped, waiting for me, and I had to run across an intersection. When I got to the other side, I felt confident, was breathing normally, and didn’t pray to the heavens, “Take me now, please, merciful God!” And when E ran off to the park, I was able to catch up with her and race to the swing-set.

Now to take this "Why did I let it weigh me down?" moment and apply it to other areas of my life! Here's to striving for "better," to believing in myself!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Art of Zentangle

Earlier this week, I stopped by M’s desk to chat. I noticed what I thought was a new print on her desk. She told me that it was “Zentangle” and that her sister-in-law had drawn it. It was really beautiful, so I of course started Googling it and am now hooked! I’ve done a few of my own, and I find it so relaxing and fun! I’m a doodler from way back and love to do intricate flower designs on ScratchMagic paper. The thought of doodling just for the sake of doodling, to make intricate patterns just to make patterns, no over-thinking, no pressure to complete a finished project… sounded wonderful!

So, now I’m officially a Zentangle master (in training). I’m hoping to save up for a book for some new pattern ideas, and just to have it in the house – I think E will love doing this soon! And what a great way to relax and just create!

In the meantime, I’m scouring the interwebs for ideas and loving just creating my own.

You can buy Zentangle packs with pattern ideas, fine-point pens, and shading pencils… but for now, I’m just using a fine tip Sharpie and index cards. I call it the poor-man’s Zentangle pack. I’ll post more of my designs this week!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Arrival of E

Just a quick update… because there’s too much to really finesse here (and I’m not ashamed to admit that the only reason I know how to spell the word “finesse” is because of a 1990s shampoo commercial).

E did great on our trip home. I thought that 6 hours in the back seat with a toddler may be a challenge to say the least, but she really surprised me and made it rather lovely. She asked lots of cute questions that I loved answering, watched a movie, played with her toys, and was all-around a fantastic kid.

We stopped in to see my grandmother in the hospital on the way to NY then again on our way back to VT, and both times E was a doll. She even sang to Grandma after sitting quietly, picking her song, and saying, “Ok! Ready?” It was a short but lovely rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus,” or as E calls it, “Up and Down!”

Our visit home was nice and uneventful except for one tumble off the side of the couch, after one half-dollar-sized cookie, triggered a sugar-high chaos unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a child. My dad caught her mid-air, upside down, by the ankle, before she hit the floor. My hero!

E got up, said, “Ow! That hurt!” then ran to the couch to do it again. Dad then brought her out to the porch to roll a soccer ball up and down the crooked, old floors of their back porch. It was a good reminder that the simplest activities can keep kids busy for hours. She was all about her Papa that day.

Certain memories of this vacation will stick with me forever – her playing in the bathtub with Grammie, for the first time not minding where I was or what I was doing, as long as she had Grammie and Papa to entertain her. When Papa was out of the room, she loved yelling, “Hey Papa!” to get his attention. As soon as he yelled back, “Yeah, Ellie?” she’d just giggle, happy for a reaction.

She loved exploring their apartment, finding little things that (in her mind) were, without a doubt, some amazing new toys to play with – an air freshener, a new remote control, a deck of cards, a pretty dish.

The little cabin nightlight in the bedroom caught her eye, yellow glowing windows and door. I found myself sad that, as an adult, I knew that the only things inside were a light bulb and some wires. But, how fun to spark her imagination!

“Who do you think is inside that house?” I asked.
“Um…” she thought, “Papa!”
“And what’s Papa doing?”
“He hears a ‘knock, knock!’” she said excitedly.

My heart melts, and the light bulb and wires disappear. In that cabin, my father stands, working at a counter. He’s building something, hammering away. He wears a tool belt and apron, working into the midnight hours, focused on his project. Outside, a strong, cool wind blows. It’s late September, and a fog has settled around his workshop. Suddenly, there’s a KNOCK KNOCK. His eyes quickly shift to the door, a look of confusion on his face. And I know that, someday, long after he's gone, I'll for some reason remember him this way.

“Who is at the door!?” I ask E, turning my attention back to her.
“It’s Ellie!!” she laughs.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five-Minute Friday

Couldn't resist participating in another Five-Minute Friday! This week's theme: "Lonely".

Today my thoughts are with an old friend who lost a child on Wednesday. Selfishly I turn my thoughts to my own child, worry about her, hold her close. I've vowed to make today a special day, one in which I appreciate my daughter and laugh with her -- to share a moment of ecstatic joy in a life that is all too short.

I feel lonely in my worry, as I inspect every inch of her after a scrape or tumble. A mom's worry is like no other. It comes in waves of terror, lulls to a soothing fear, then ceases altogether when I hear her familiar laugh or see her smile. For only an instant, I know that she is okay. And in that moment, I delicately and cautiously rejoice and celebrate this beautiful life.

Check out Lisa-Jo Baker's blog to play along!

--After I posted this, per the game rules, I went back to visit the blog post before mine in the list, to read and comment. To my surprise, it was this page, and I was inspired by Lois's post and Bible verse, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” [Psalm 139:7]. It's a great Christian blog, and I felt like I needed a little dose of faith and love. Thanks, Lois!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bingo Was His Name-Ohhhhhh!

E got up at 5:30 this morning… Gah, this kid! But she’s making up for her “inconvenient” kid stuff by saying new phrases like, “I love you, too,” “I’d like some more cheese, please,” and “I swing on this?”

Yep, this week at the doctor’s office, she pointed to the lamp over the patients’ bed and asked the doctor, “I swing on this?” while she attempted to throw a leg over it. Good Lord! She also pulled out all the drawers under the patient bed, sent a few gibberish text messages to my friends, tried to open the hazardous waste bin, played with the automatic sink, spun the doctor’s chair around, picked her nose, climbed the walls, opened the door, ran down the hall, jumped on a scale, climbed into a window, ran back, almost knocked the nurse over…

Did I mention that Mark was there to help me? And this is no criticism of his efforts to occupy her. Between outbursts, she quietly sat and read with him, watched a 20-minute episode of Blue’s Clues, played with her ducky, and snacked on Cheerios.

How one child can fit so many chaotic and non-chaotic activities into one hour-long doctor appointment blows  my mind.

Oh, and get this… the doctor’s solution for preventing my ongoing stomach pain? Less stress (and the typical ‘watching what you eat’ stuff), but seriously?? Less stress? I looked at him, then looked at my kid, back at the doctor, then at my kid.

“Are we in the same room?”
“I know how it is… We just had our grandchildren live with us for 7 months.”

No. Nope. Uh-uh. Sorry. Not the same thing. And, am I saying this only because he’s a man… probably. Yes.

Does anyone really get my level of worry/stress right now and why just saying “Don’t worry,” or “Stop being stressed,” is kind of… ridiculous?

Anyway, yesterday, E reminded me that it’s okay to just laugh about it. After getting so completely bored with singing “BINGO” 10 times in a row… I just started singing, “There was a farmer, had a dog, and a Bingo was his name-ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...” I held the “oh” for as long as I possibly could. That’s normal, right? E thought it was the most hilarious thing she had ever seen. “Again?” Sure, why not. “…and Bingo was his name-ohhhhhhhhhh…” All through dinner. I cracked up too, watching her eyes get larger the longer I held out the “ohhh…” sound. I decided that more silliness would be a good start for less stress.

Today, she decided that she needed a go-cup like Mommy’s and now insists on bringing it with her everywhere. She hugs me and tells me she loves me, and it reminds me that I’m raising a little person, and that ultimately she’s going to make her own choices, her own mistakes. I can’t prevent them all, but I’ll probably still try.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hump Day Blog Hop

Its Hump Day!It's hump day, and I'm participating in another fun blog hop! Click the pic, mosey on over, and check out what all these great bloggers are writing about this week! I've shared my I Have Rocks in My Dress Pocket poem.

I hope you're all having a fabulous week! We're headed to New York this weekend for my niece's 6th birthday party! I'm sure our crazy girls will be the source of some great writing material! As usual, you can travel with us, over the (lake) and through the woods from VT to NY on Instagram. I'll be posting pics of our journey!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Design Inspiration

One of my favorite sites for design inspiration! Poster Cabaret.

I'm not sure why blogger is choosing this fancy layout for these photos...

Here's hoping that E will want to do some art projects with me today!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I Have Rocks in My Dress Pocket

I have rocks in my dress pocket
I am anchored to this spot
You swirl a sea around me
I hold true, the tightest knot

I have rocks in my dress pocket
Roots grow from my feet
You blow a storm around me
I dance, my life complete

I have rocks in my dress pocket
And a seed in my left hand
You pat the dirt around me
I am warm beneath the sand

I have rocks in my dress pocket
You say that they're for me
I cradle you gently in my arms
We count them, "1, 2, 3"

Friday, August 2, 2013

Dear Blog

You're the only friend who understands me...

On Wednesday, I forgot my cell phone at day care. I pride myself in being a girl who can live without her cell phone for an afternoon, but it was a work-at-home day, so I needed it more than usual. I drove back to day care and begged Mark to take a 20 minute break from work, so I could go. When I came home, most the furniture in the living room had been moved, and E was camped out behind the recliner clutching something small in her hand.

"What's going on?" I asked.
"She won't come out," he said with a sigh.
"Why is the recliner moved out from the wall. I keep it pushed back, so that she doesn't go back there. There are wires back there."
"Well, she didn't want to sit in the recliner in front of the AC, so I just moved the chair."
"You could have just turned the AC off while she sat there. And what's in her hand?"
"Some dice," he said, defeated.
"I told you that she can only play with those when she's at your desk, with supervision. She always puts them in her mouth."
"I know, but she wanted to take them with her."
"Of course she did!"

I moved our floor fan out of the way, pulled the recliner further away from the wall, and attempted to pull E out of her hiding spot while she tried to put the dice in her mouth. Her fingers were wrapped so tightly around the dice, that I had to pry them one at a time while she screamed.

I tried another tactic, "You need to give the dice to your father. He will put them back on his desk, and you can use them when you sit with him."

"NO, no no," she shakes her head.
"Ok, then Mommy will have to take them."

Cue the screeching temper tantrum. I gave the dice to Mark and put her down on the floor.

Then I noticed the back of her legs. They were completely green.

"What happened to her legs!?" I asked, as I got down on my knees to inspect her.
"It's paint," Mark said.

"When did you paint? What happened? I was gone for 20 minutes." I'm not a mom who minds a mess, but seriously... The only explanation is that he let her do whatever she wanted for a full 20 minutes.


This morning, Mark gave E cheddar goldfish for breakfast (after oatmeal and 3 helpings of raisins). I know she's going through a growth spurt and there are worse things to feed a kid, but who in their right mind thinks that a toddler needs cheddar goldfish at 7:30am after eating a lumberjack breakfast?

"Why did you give her goldfish in the morning?" I asked.
"She asked for some."
"Why didn't you say 'No, not for breakfast. Here are some... Cheerios'?"
"She was really cute and using her words and signing 'more' so well."



When Mark had her for the 2 days that I was sick, she was allowed to do anything and everything. If she cried, Mark got her whatever she wanted. As soon as I was better, I had a Tasmanian devil baby to contend with. If she dropped a toy, she cried... if her sock fell off, she cried... if she was hungry, sad, happy, whatever, she cried. I almost lost my mind... It took an entire day of saying, "Nope. Use your words." to right the situation, and I finally have my sweet kid back!


The only problem now is that she hates me. When we leave in the morning, she screams for Dada Mahkee. When we go home at the end of the day, she wants him. And I'm a fun mom! I let her do so much in the name of self expression -- she can wear what she wants. I let her take just about any toy outside (except her 2 cherished bedtime ones so we don't lose them). I've always let her play with small toys, at the table so I could supervise, and the day care teacher says she has the best fine motor skills of any toddler she's seen! I take her for a ride in her stroller then pair it with a visit to the park, the beach, almost every day. We go away almost every weekend -- and who cares for her in the back seat? Who plays hidey bunny and peek-a-boo and peeeyuuu stinky feet? I do.

And our "hero," Dada Mahkee, as wonderful as he is... (Don't get me wrong, he has the patience of a saint, doesn't mind a messy house, puts up with all my screaming and carrying on, claims to still love me regardless of the fact that I've lost my mind over the last year and a half, and takes care of us so well...) But he's still the one who forgot E's shoes this morning, who sent me into an anxiety-spiral that I still haven't escaped... the one who assumed that I wouldn't need his help today, because I got on fine yesterday, so when I was finally ready to go, found him still in his underwear and not ready to help me bring E out to the car, while I packed up all 4 of our bags, laptop case, lunches and breakfasts, while I stressed about laundry not being done and what would happen if our weekend plans changed, how I would get myself and E ready... how I would run today if I didn't have my lunch with me, and if I didn't have my lunch with me, I'd have to eat on my lunch break which would mean that my usual cleaning up time would be pushed to evening, and the landlord is coming over today to swap out our old microwave for the new one. (Did I clean it!? Oh yeah, I did. Phew.) And if he doesn't come today, it'll be early next week, so my list of things to get done for the weekend has changed... and, I really need to get a new planner. Where is my old one? Oh yeah, E opened her milk and dumped it in my purse which soaked the calendar so much that I had to throw it out. Maybe I can stop at Kinney's today and pick up a cheap one. And I can't forget that the landlord is also coming over on Monday to fix the smoke alarm... which has twice since woken us up at 3am with a 'dead battery' alarm, though we've put brand new batteries in each time.

And that's when I saw the pile of bags in the corner that need to be dropped off at the thrift shop tomorrow, which reminded me that the recycleables need to go out, and the trash which has been sitting now for 2 days.

And that's when I got so mad that we fought, and I hate when we fight. We haven't fought in so long. And it's not that any one of us hasn't been doing their share -- work is crazy for him right now, and I forget how stressful a 10+ hour day of work can be, even at a desk job. My 4 hours in the office every morning leave me tired... and then I have E until 7pm at night, 8pm if you count that, lately, she's been calling me in her room for a drink, a hug, to fix her hair, to kiss her toe that she hurt. God love her.

I know that we just need to work together better. That's all -- to communicate better. Though we're doing much better than we were a year ago at keeping up with the apartment and raising a little person, he still rebels against every single system I've come up with for managing a household. He destroys it before I get it on paper... and it makes it 10 times easier for me to think it's silly and unrealistic too.

And I just want to run away... I want a new house, more room, less clutter.

Today, I'll get home, and I'll clean the house from top to bottom... organize it, pick up toys. But why? He'll still come in and put all his stuff on the floor, his dirty pants over the back of a dining room chair. No one will care except me... And that's fine, except that it just makes me feel so alone... alone in this battle to get our lives in order.

That's all. Thanks for listening, Bloggio...
-puts my arm around you-
-puts my head on your shoulder-
-swings my feet off the edge of my imaginary porch-
-looks out at the Green Mountains of VT-

"Do you think it'll ever change, Blog?"
"I suppose so, Mrs. G. It's nothing that some good, old-fashioned hard work and love can't fix."
"Oh, Bloggio... I do hope you're right."

In my mind, Bloggio is Carson from Downton Abbey. I need a Carson.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


(shakes my head) Last night, I had a dream that everyone in our office was from the cast of Glee... Cory Monteith was there, which was strange, because everyone knew he had died. They were piecing together sections of old footage from the show to create his death scene in the current series.

Then there was a very serious scene with him, Tom Cruise, and that kid from Neverending Story. Not to make light of it, but... Best Death Scene Ever! A tribute fit for a king, I'd say.

Then, during a break in filming, I sat down with a few of my work friends. I was saying how hard it was not having Mark's help around the house in the afternoon. One of my friends spoke up and said, "You know, you could keep a man around for 'support' reasons only. It's very common."

I woke up with all kinds of strange ideas in my head. Could I hire a valet a la Downton Abbey?

And, what did he mean by "support"?

My mind wandered...

Photo from Also, doesn't that dancing girl look just like me!?