Thursday, October 31, 2013


Last night, our local toy store put on a story hour. It was so sweet! There were spooky stories, snacks, and craft activities. E loved it, and it was the perfect event for her age. Kim came down and got some really adorable pictures! We snapped this one outside.

E insisted on wearing her cupcake costume. I hadn't thought to dress her up, but when we got there, all the other kids were in costume, so she fit right in!

Tonight, we'll head down to my in-laws for some Halloween fun and trick or treating, I hope -- as long as this rain holds off!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sims Confessions 2

Here's a random photo of a house fire they had.
So, are you dying to know what happened when we last left Faye and Rafael in the hot tub? I was curious, too! I picked up the game again last night.

If you need to catch up, the original story is here.

As Faye’s pregnancy progressed, Rafael was being a class-A jerk, so she gave up on wooing him and went after her first love, Barry Tenderlove. To make a fresh start, she actually confessed to Barry that she had been seeing other men and that Rafael was the father of her unborn baby. Barry wasn’t thrilled, but surprisingly, he didn’t have a meltdown like Rafael had when he found out Faye had been cheating (in every public place in Sunset Valley). Barry and Faye made up quickly, and he moved in with her.

Stylish Faye, bringing home Baby Heath
A few days later, Faye waddled up to the steps of the hospital in a sun dress and high heels and delivered a newborn baby boy, Heath Hawthorne. Barry helped so much with the baby, but he and Faye struggled to get along. Still, Barry was a stand-up guy and even visited Rafael to try to convince him to come over and see his son, Heath. Barry even proposed to Faye, and she graciously accepted!

Eventually, Rafael agreed to come over to the house and began visiting Faye and Heath regularly. One night, Rafael came over while Barry was at work. After the baby was in bed, Rafael and Faye got talking, then hugging, then kissing. Unfortunately, Barry came home in time to witness the event. As understanding as Barry was about Faye’s previous infidelities, this he just couldn’t take. He moved out immediately.

The good news was that Rafael finally seemed ready to take on some of the responsibilities of being a parent. He decided to move in with Faye, just to help with the baby… Faye finally thought she knew what she wanted, after being confused for so long – her family complete, her son’s father living with them. She and Rafael began slowly building their relationship again.

"I wear my sunglasses at night, on the toilet"
The only problem(s)? When Rafael moved in, Faye realized a few things about him that she wasn’t prepared to know: he was already dating 2 other women – Bianca and Jessica! Jessica was a vampire (I have the Night Life expansion, so she was really a vampire). How would that vampire react to her “boyfriend” being in a relationship with another woman and having a son? Yikes. Faye didn’t want to find out. She also soon realized that most of Rafael’s friends were already vampires. It seemed that Rafael may be next on the list to be transformed (shivers). Also, Faye caught him wearing sunglasses on the toilet and dancing like this out at the pool in the middle of the night…

Don't hurt yourself. -- Rafael dancing poolside
Faye didn’t know what to do. So, she turned to the only person who had been there for her from the very beginning – Barry Tenderlove. She went straight to his apartment. She hit the call button for Barry’s apartment number. She waited patiently.

Finally, Barry came downstairs… and promptly attacked Faye. They fought in a cloud of smoke a few times, she slapped him across the face. She tried to apologize, told him to calm down. He got more violent, so she declared him a nemesis. Surprisingly, this declaration, and nothing before, was what ended their engagement.

Still dancing...
Faye went home, defeated. When she arrived, she found Rafael happily caring for Heath. The next day, Heath grew from a toddler into a child. Now Faye had a big decision to make about Rafael – stay with a potential vampire, a horrible dancer, and the father of her child, or kick him out and restart the search for Mr. Right.

I checked her relationship status bar -- all her old flames had faded -- so she wasn't dating anyone, besides Rafael.

If she wants a new man, she's going to have start from square one. Ugh, I'm not sure I'm ready to revisit the dive bar scene with Faye... I did, however, notice that Rafael's brother is a celebrity, a famous singer I believe... Maybe it's time for a little family reunion!

Oh God...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Winter in October

Last week, it actually snowed in the mountains! I didn't grow up up around mountains, so as I drove toward them on the way to bring E to day care, I giddily pointed out the beautiful white-capped peaks on either side of our car. She happily shouted about "snow," which I'm not sure she remembers from last year.

When I headed back that way in the afternoon, to pick her up from day care, I wondered if I could reach the snowy part of the mountain. It was hard to tell from a distance how high the snow was. I got E in the car and asked her if she wanted to try to find some snow. "Yeah!" she said. We headed for the base of the peak.

I was really skeptical about actually reaching the snow, and I imagined telling Mark about our little adventure and him laughing at me, in that, "Oh, aren't you so cute and naive" tone.

I figured that, even getting closer to the snow would be fun for E, so we forged ahead. As we got closer to the mountain, I started noticing little clumps of snow on the ground. It was almost like a line on the ground -- no snow, then snow. As we drove a mile further, it was like someone had flipped a switch, and it was winter. There was snow everywhere -- about 2 inches on the ground, trees covered, snow-topped roofs.

It was eerie, how fast it changed. It was like stepping onto the set of a movie. E was in shock. "What is that, Mommy?!" she asked, concerned.

"That's a lot of snow!!" I cheered. She really didn't remember snow from last year. We parked at the now-closed ski area and got out to play. She was scared at first and didn't even want to walk in it, but when I set her down and marched around in it myself, she started to jump and run in it. We made foot prints, snowballs, and took in the scenery.

Then back home to autumn in our little valley. The next day, snow fell at our house. Here it comes!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Just Tell Me I'm Pretty

We put in a rough day today. We're still fighting these colds, or allergies. It's like a little cough, little sniffles, no fever, but it just won't go away.

E was handling it well for the first week, but today, she seemed as annoyed as we were as the hacking and nose wiping continued.

I had lazily come in yesterday afternoon and tossed my purse on the couch. E was now unzipping the makeup pocket and rummaging through it. I looked on, disinterested, until I noticed her putting on my lip gloss.

"Hey, wait!" I said, as she glided the gloss across her top lip and through a gooey glob of snot that was running out of her nose. I let out a defeated, "Eh, who cares" sigh and let her continue.

She climbed up on my lap and proceeded to put some gooey lip gloss on my lips. I didn't even protest. "Sure, make me into the sad clown I feel like today."

Then I put on my Mommy hat and said, "Okay, now it's time to put the lip gloss away." She tightened her grip on the tube of gloss.

"Listen," I said calmly, "We already used the lip gloss. We need to put it away." I pried it from her hands. This triggered a screaming, doll-throwing, couch-punching, lay-on-the-floor-and-scream-like-I'm-dying temper-tantrum.

"You're fine," I said.

She got up and ran straight into Mark's arms. He scooped her up and cradled her like a baby. She sobbed on his shoulder. He smiled at me like, "Can you believe this?" and we shared a silent "Holy cow..." moment. E turned and pouted at me, crocodile tears brimming her eyes, slipping down her cheek.

"I want that lipstick, Daddy!!" she wailed, in her best "Can you believe my mother?" tone.

Mark backed me up, "You already put some on. And you know what? You look very pretty."

She stopped crying, looked up at him, gave him a little smile, squirmed out of his arms, and ran off to play.

I stared up at Mark, slightly shocked. I know that she just wants us to listen to her, to justify her feelings, even if we think they're irrational. I get that. I want that when I'm upset too.

But Mark also told her that she was pretty, which on some level made her feel better -- even if it was just a reminder that she still had lip gloss on.

Our daughter is, of course, always beautiful, but this was not one of her "prettier" moments -- meaning only that she was grumpy and tear-streaked.

Mark caught me staring up at him, teary eyed and in awe of him. "What?" he asked.

"You told her she was pretty."

I thought a long time about why this meant so much to me, and I decided that it was because he saw her as beautiful, when she had hit toddler rock-bottom -- the same way he saw me during the worst days of my pregnancy, after birthing a baby.

I was so in love with him in that moment today, connecting these brief glimpses of him as a husband and father, realizing that he always sees his girls this way -- never as broken, just as abstract, colorful pieces, that maybe don't quite fit together yet, that maybe are never meant to, that maybe are pretty just the way they are.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sims Confessions

So, before I had E, I was a big fan of the PC game, The Sims. I started playing when I was in middle school and bought the most recent version, The Sims 3, when I was in college. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the game -- it's basically like a virtual dollhouse. You create little people, move them into houses, and (to some degree) control their lives.

When I used to play, before E, I loved having happy little Sim families and raising Sim babies. I most often created family-oriented Sims whose goals were to get married and have generations of Sim families. I loved watching the family tree develop, seeing how all the different personalities changed the family dynamic -- crazy old Grandpa Harold who liked to ride his bike around town in his formal clothes and Grandma Maureen home helping with her triplet grand-babies. From friends to feuds, rags to (almost) riches (and vice versa), I ate it all up like an award-winning soap opera.

Then, I had my own baby to raise -- wow, not exactly as easy as the digital baby. I was also kind of feeling like, "Now, this Mama's got mad skills. Watch out, Sims!" If I could manage 3 real people, I certainly could run a town full of virtual ones!


The sister wives' houses
So, over the weekend, while fighting this cold and not feeling like doing much else but sit, I curled up in the recliner with my laptop and fired up the game. I had been watching a lot of Big Love on Hulu and decided I'd try to make a polygamist family. Building is one of my favorite parts of the game, so I happily built 3 houses on the same lot, created a man (Brent) and wife (Camilla), and his 2 other "wives," (Emmaline and Heather) who were really just girlfriends, according to the rules of the game.

This went swimmingly... until Camilla caught Emmaline and Brent shacking up in House #2. She accused him of cheating (ok...). I thought that the family could recover from the entire ordeal eventually, but Camilla divorced her husband immediately, which created a lot of bad mojo on the lot. Yikes. Camilla and Brent already had 1 daughter, and the 2 other wives were pregnant. It was not pretty. So, I moved them into 3 separate houses on separate lots, right next to each other. This prevented the wives from interacting on a daily basis (what a headache that was), and by the rules of the game, they couldn't just go into another person's house, so the other wives were protected from the Sim horrors of jealousy. Brent, on the other hand, started hopping from house to house each night, and it got so confusing knowing who was where when. Moral of the story: Polygamy is rough. I gave up on them, for now.


I created a new game. This time, I created a young woman, Faye, who I was going to put in the Superstar career -- fame, riches, and glory! I chose her Lifetime wish, the game goal: To "Woohoo" with 5 Sims in 5 Different Locations. "Wow, that sounds like a challenge," I thought. It was so big of a challenge, in fact, that I never started her in any career. She had no time for a job. She was too busy wooing all the men in her life.

Faye and Barry Tenderlove
First up: Barry Tenderlove. Faye and Barry hit it off right away. He was well known in the big city. With a name like "Tenderlove," who would expect any less? A few dates later, and she and Barry did the big "woohoo" in her bed at home.

She decided that it was best to "love 'em and leave 'em," as we had to complete the goal by wooing 4 more boyfriends.

Buster Round was a roadie for Lord knows which band. He latched onto Faye instantly at a night club. She had her doubts -- he wore ripped, whitewashed jeans, a sweatshirt, and had black/gray, matted hair, but a few nights later, she invited him over. And a few drinks later, she woohooed with him in the hot tub. He called quite a few times over the next few days, but she didn't answer the phone.

Faye and Heimrich Shimmy in the hot tub
On to Heimrich Shimmy -- a biker. She met him at Waylon's Haunt, a dive-bar on the far side of town. Heimrich was rough and tough on the outside, leather pants, tattoos, hairless except for a long beard, but sweet, gentle, and kind on the inside. The attraction was instantaneous for both, but he didn't quite fit into her modern, high-tech, high-glam, high-heel kinda world. They parted ways for the time being...

Meanwhile, Faye's house was a disaster. She spent more time wooing and woohooing than cleaning. I decided to have her hire a butler. She made up a room for the butler and expected a Christian-Bale-type to show up in a tux. Much to her surprise, the butler was a woman and had more of a Kathy-Bates look about her. Faye promptly fired her. I wasn't opposed to Faye wooing a woman, but for this story, after already establishing her sexuality, pursuing a woman would have been more challenging.

She requested a new butler from the Services ad, and much to her glee, Bertram arrived at her door. He was beautiful, and she went about happily flirting with him day and night. I didn't want things to get too serious with Bertram, though, because Faye was bringing home a lot of different men. I imagined a stand-off with Heimrich and Bertram would not be pretty. So, she kept Bertram close but not too close. I planned on him being her 5th suitor, if needed, her back-up plan.

In the mean time, Faye's phone rang, and she was invited to a party at Mick Situp's house. I was surprised, as she only met him once at the sports bar, Sports Zone. She rushed to Mick's house, ready to be the life of the party and to meet some new men! But, when she got there, there were about 3 people in Mick's studio apartment, mostly women, eating salad, and talking about baseball. Boring. She grabbed a plate anyway, visited with Mick, woohooed with Mick in his bed, then went home. And, that's exactly as fast as it happened. They liked each other right away... woohoo, home. I've never quite had a Sim one-night-stand like that one. The next morning, Faye got out of her hot tub to answer the phone -- it was Mick. She ignored the call.

In the mean, mean time... while Faye was out searching for men to woo, she kept running into the infamous Rafael Striker. There's no other word for Rafael... he was, quite simply, HOT. He had the digital jawline of a Greek god, and the pixelated body to match. Rafael already had a girlfriend, Bianca, but Faye didn't care. "Woohoo with Rafael" kept popping up in her Want List. She called him a few times, but he kept saying that he was busy. She finally invited him over for a party (and cleverly did not invite any of the other men she was dating), and they had a nice time. A heart appeared next to his name -- they were officially "dating." To get to "Woohoo" status, they'd have to like each other a little more. The next few times she tried to call him, Rafael declined her invite to go out or come over.

With Rafael ignoring her, and while still wanting to keep Bertram on the sidelines, Faye started going out with Heimrich again. They met in grungy biker bars across town, and Faye even invited Heimrich to one of the trendier lounges -- Plasma 501. There, she got all gussied up in her fancy dress and heels... got incredibly drunk, and woohooed with Heimrich in the elevator.

Though no one technically saw them, Faye's Sim got the "public humiliation" moodlet. This is a negative, little "curse" on her mood which affects her happiness level. A "public" woohoo also causes rumors to spread, so that anyone Faye is dating suspects that she may be cheating. If someone accuses her, it instantly reveals her dirty little secret.

Faye, in her skivvies, chatting with the new butler, Westley
Though she didn't intend for it to happen, Bertram, the butler, had grown quite attached to Faye. Her "harmless" flirting had caused the heart to appear next to Bertram's icon. So, when she strolled in the front door of her house, after her outing with Heimrich, she ran right into a very agitated and betrayed Bertram. Sims are unique, little beings, and each one of them handles this kind of thing differently. Some yell. Some cry. Some run away. Bertram actually attacked Faye -- physically attacked her. They "fought" for awhile, in a cloud of smoke until Faye finally jumped up and threw Bertram to the ground. He got up, brushed off his perfectly-pressed slacks, dusted off his monocle, and quit his butler job. He changed into a neon green jumpsuit and ran off the lot.

Faye seemed unaffected. She now needed only one more woohoo to complete her lifetime goal, and I have to say that, I was a little disappointed that Bertram wasn't going to be lucky #5. I looked through Faye's contacts and remembered Rafael. She waited until evening, when she knew he'd be finished with work, and invited him out to dinner. Surprisingly, he accepted, but when they arrived at the restaurant, it was closed. They chatted and cuddled a bit outside the restaurant. Then, Rafael just ran off. Bathroom emergency? Maybe Bianca showed up? I have no idea, he just left. How frustrating!

Faye gave Barry Tenderlove a call. She was already out anyway, may as well have some fun. She and Barry had been chatting on the phone pretty regularly since their first encounter, so he was still very much smitten with her. He showed up right away, ready for anything! They walked through a graveyard, of all places, and ended up making out in a mausoleum (did not know that was possible...). Then they toured the local science facility, where they woohooed in the test subject lab. Wow, that Barry, what a guy! It was still pretty early in the evening, so Faye decided to go home and actually get to bed early.

But, when she got home, she wasn't quite tired enough to sleep. It was about 10:30pm, so she thought she might try Rafael one more time. Much to everybody's surprise, he accepted her invite! Rafael came over and hopped right in the hot tub with Faye! Success! They seemed to be having a fantastic time, and then, "woohoo!". Her goal acquired! Lifetime Wish complete!

Partners: Barry, Buster, Mick, Heimrich, Rafael
Locations: Faye's Bed, Hot Tub, Mick's Bed, Elevator, Mausoleum, Science Facility

Faye and Rafael Striker
I let the game continue to run and sat back to think about what Faye would do next, where her little virtual life would take her. She and Rafael chatted quietly, digital bubbles gurgling around them in the hot tub. When I turned my attention back to them, they were woohooing again. Um, what? I hadn't hit any buttons, but Sims will do things on their own, if the autonomy setting is turned on in the game, and it was. "Well, look at you two!" I thought, "Couldn't even wait for your next woohoo!" I hovered the cursor over the action icon.

"Wait a minute," I stopped. They weren't woohooing. They were doing another action: "Try For Baby." No, no, no...!! I went to cancel the action, but it was too late. I heard the familiar jingle the game makes when a baby is successfully conceived.

Rafael dragged his drunk self out of the hot tub, naked. Faye did the same, still wearing her sunglasses at 3 o'clock in the morning. He went home, she went to bed.

Morning came, Faye spent the day at home, and by the time she rolled out of bed at Noon the next day, she was sporting a little baby bump. She seemed happy. Even the new butler, Westley, stopped making lunch to talk to Faye's baby belly. Though I would have preferred Bertram or Barry as a baby daddy, I thought that Rafael might eventually come around to the idea. They'd definitely have a beautiful baby... I got Faye dressed and planned to have her go over to Rafael's to share her big news.

She drove into the city and found Rafael's apartment building. I imagined that she'd burst through his door, share her news, and that his girlfriend Bianca, devastated, would go crawl in a hole somewhere. Faye and Rafael would then ride into the virtual sunset together... Instead, Rafael greeted her outside.

He was not happy. Apparently, rumors were flying of Faye's scientific "experiment" with Barry in the test subject room at the Science Facility. She confessed to cheating, tried to apologize, and announced the pregnancy... probably all in one sentence. Rafael wasn't having any of it, so she was forced to go home.

And that's where the tale ends, for now. I can't decide if she should work things out with Rafael Striker or let Barry Tenderlove help her raise this baby. If I'm deciding only based on last names, Striker is going to win. More to come!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fire Alarms

The Concerned Look
E has been so afraid of fire alarms ever since they started having fire drills at day care. Mark and I have done everything we can think of to help her to not worry. I've explained them to her, found a cartoon about them. We've had pretend fire drills at our house and in the dollhouse. I hold her up to have her give the fire alarm a high-five. We've told her that we don't have them at home, only at day care and that we would only leave our house like that in an emergency.

I think she gets it... but she still worries, particularly before bed. OR she just tries to keep me in her room by bombarding me with questions about fire alarms. The jury's still out.

Either way, I take her before-bed concerns seriously. She seems genuinely nervous. Also, if my anxious tendencies are hereditary, this kid is going to have a lot of night-time anxiety. So, just in case, I cater to her a bit.

This is our (almost every-night) conversation:

"Mommy!!!! Mommy!!!" she yells from her room. I go in.
"What is it?"
"I'm scared of fire alarm."
"Ok, why are you scared?"
"I hear it beepin'."
"It's not beeping right now. Could it have been a noise outside?"
"Yeah. Maybe a car? Or a truck."
"Yep. If you hear it again and you're scared, just let me know. I have to put you down now."
"Mommy? I just want to talk about fire alarms a little more."

Oh my goodness... could this child be any cuter?

"Ok, what do you want to know?"
"I go in crib at day care."
"Yes, they put you and your friends in a crib to wheel you outside quickly."
"But I in crib at home?"
"Your crib at home is just for sleeping. At day care, you use a mat for a nap, but at home you get a comfy crib to sleep in all night."
"No fire drill?"
"No fire drill at home. We would only go out in an emergency."
"Just an emergency?"
"Yep, and you don't have to worry about that, because I would come get you. I'd scoop you up in my arms and take you outside."
"Ok. Don't have worry?"
"Nope. You let Mommy worry."

Mommy has been worrying a long time. You can put it all on me, kid. I have years of experience. :-)

Last night at dinner time, I said to her, "You know what?"
And she said, "I love you?"
Ha! Do I really tell her that so often that she knows what I'm going to say before I say it? "Good," I think, "She knows."

I cracked up, "Yes. Exactly. Well, I was going to say that, 'I wished for you my entire life, and I never imagined I'd have such a beautiful, sweet, smart little girl. I'm so proud of you every day.'"

She gave me a big ol' goofy smile, a nod, and a big hug.

Even as we dive head-first into this "terrible-two" stage, I have to say, this mom thing just keeps getting better.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baby Bullies

First of all, that's my husband in this picture -- not the baby bully. Please don't hunt him down and beat him up... :-D

I wasn't sure I wanted to write a post about bullying for my blog. It's such a "thing" right now, and I want to focus on building up the good in my little one, more than spreading the negativity. Still, I feel the need for some mom-advice here. Any tips, suggestions, please comment below.

So, here goes:

Last week, we went to the Ben & Jerry's park. We've had an entire year of great park experiences there. It can be a little touristy, but I've never minded -- mainly because most tourists are here to celebrate our pretty state and enjoy being friendly with us, the "locals." Ha! I've met some really fun moms and kids.

This time, there was a family of a mom and her 4 kids at the park. I'm guessing her kids' ages were: 18, 12, 7, and 2 or 3. E ran up the playground steps to start her usual routine: steering wheel, log cabin, slide, repeat. When she got to the steering wheel, the 2-year-old ran up next to her and tried to use it too -- no big deal, we're used to this.

E said, "It's my turn!!"
"Yes, it is. Take turns, please!" I said to both of them.

He didn't listen (I get it, he's 2.), and she decided she'd rather move on to the log cabin. He followed her in. She sat on the bench. He sat next to her, then pushed her off. She fell down.

"Hey, no pushing, please!" I said sternly.

E got up and left the cabin. He followed her and pushed her again. I looked up to find his mom. She ran by me and almost knocked me over. Her oldest son was right behind her. If any of you know the Ben and Jerry's playground, you'll know that it's not very big. It's one structure with 2 ways to climb up, 2 slides down, and a bridge. Small. The mom and her other 3 kids were chasing each other all over the structure and around it. As I got E back on her feet, she started across the bridge, and the 7-year-old crashed right into her, while chasing his mom.

His mom yelled, "Be careful," as she laughed and chased after her oldest son.

I picked up E and told her that maybe it was best if we left. She wanted to do the slide. All the kids were now off the structure, so I told her to go ahead. As she climbed the steps to the slide, the 2-year-old came up and pushed her off. "Hey, stop!" I said, but he climbed up and went down the slide without listening. E seemed okay, and she climbed up and went down the slide. The mom was now gone, running in the field next to the park with her other kids while her 2-year-old was left on his own at the park.

Another mom was just as surprised and annoyed as I was. We both left.

I really try not to judge other moms. I think it's great to run and play with your kids. The 2-year-old was a mess -- dirt from head-to-toe, matted hair, long fingernails, ripped clothes. But, E definitely does not go the park pristine, especially after she's played in the mud at daycare. And, have you tried to cut the nails on a toddler? I imagine it's not unlike de-clawing a cat in your garage. E also goes to day care and the park with the occasional case of bed-head. It wasn't that... it was just that, all those things together made it seem like, the kid was a bit "on his own." And, independence is good, but... he was in need of a little guidance.

In retrospect, it's easy to say what I would have done, but I wish I had flagged down the mom to talk to her child. Though E is learning to stand up for herself, she looked to me a few times, like, "Mom, are we going to let this happen?" And the answer was, of course, "No," but to prevent it, we had to leave our favorite park. She cried when we left -- you know, that "It's not fair," cry. And it wasn't.

Next time, I will speak up more for my kid. I promise. Even if it's hard. Even if the other mom hates me or picks a fight. I will do it. And, if it's horrible, I hope you'll all support me here. I will run back to the understanding arms of my readers! Haha!

The silver lining? There always has to be one, right? I must find it! For me, in this case, it's that: I saw what my kid could be, and I know that she's not. There are times when she is mean, when she pushes or scratches. I worry that my discipline (stern voice, time-outs, coaching) isn't sufficient, that I'm not doing enough or will somehow mess up and turn her into a bully.

But, I know now, at least on some level, that I won't. She still acts out of anger sometimes. We all do, but she stops and thinks more often now. And, I think that the main reason she does is because, I'm there. The older she gets, the more I see her carrying my words with her. She hears my voice even when I'm not right by her side.

There are so many "rules" of parenting that people throw at you, but I think there's a lot to be said for just being there, in the moment -- to coach, to model the behavior you want to see in your child, and to have simple consequences in extreme situations -- if you misbehave, we leave.

Unfortunately, in this case, my kid received the "punishment" of leaving, even though I praised her for handling the situation well. So, next up -- me modeling some good "stand-up-for-ourselves" behavior.

What are your thoughts? Could I have handled this situation better?

(And a special thanks to my Facebook friends for all the great feedback!)

Saturday, October 19, 2013


"Hey, E! Go look out the window, and tell me what you see!"

She scrambles as fast as she can over the pile of clean laundry on the couch, puts 2 hands on the window sill and pulls herself up. She stares, wide-eyed at the night sky.

"Oh!! OH!!!! Mommy!!! Mommy!! Look!!!"

"What is it?"

"Oooh!!! It's the MOON!!"

"Isn't it pretty tonight?"

"Yuss." (sigh) "Moon shadow, moon shadow!" she sings.

I just love her so much.

She's always loved her moon! Other moon moments with E from the past year:
Moon & Stars
In the Light of the Moon
Mother's Day

It's amazing, looking back over the past year. You know, I get so down when I can't bring myself to blog every day, but look at all the moments I have preserved! I'm so inspired to keep writing, to document whenever I can.

This photo captures the moon perfectly last night, but it's not mine. Ha! Orignial photo here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Just a Clunky Lullaby to a Sleepy Baby

I grew up with this song, but the first time I heard it when I was pregnant, I knew I had to add it to E's lullaby list!

So, here it is -- this mom's clunky lullaby to a sleepy baby. It's not a perfect recording by any means, but it comes from the heart!

If you want to take this song with you, you can download it for free here.

Thanks for listening!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Day I Planned

On any given day, I plan for a few things to go horribly wrong -- nothing catastrophic, just a spilled meal on the floor, E bumping her head. I don't know what it was about this day -- maybe the fact that day care's Columbus Day holiday hadn't made it into my planner before Friday or the fact that I was just feeling "blah" today -- I think from my flu shot. Low-grade fever and all-around icky feeling. I just couldn't plan for the series of events that followed this morning.

Day care was closed this morning, and Mark and I had to work out taking care of E while we worked. This involves a unique trade-off system in which we get as much work done as possible while the other works then trade off for any conference calls, etc. More often than not, the one in charge of E is still trying to keep up with work while answering email on the phone or sneaking a peek at the laptop.

That's exactly what I was doing when E ripped the mouse cord out of my computer. She slammed the mouse on the floor a few times then ran across the kitchen dragging it behind her. I let her go, as long as I could see her and worked with my track pad instead.

Then she came over and grabbed my iPhone charger cable. I grabbed the other end to prevent the cord from breaking. She pulled harder until I had to let go, and she tumbled to the ground.

I tried to distract her with a video and played between emails. I just had to get through 1 hour.
She threw a toy dog at my screen.
I took her in the kitchen to have a snack.
While I went to the fridge, she got her raisins out of the cupboard, opened them, dropped them on the floor.
I got a sleeve of crackers for her. I opened them halfway and handed them to her, like I would for Mark... forgetting that she was a toddler.
She dropped an entire sleeve of crackers on the floor.
While I went for the broom, she danced on the crackers.
I gave her a mug with some hot-cocoa in it. She did so well with a big-girl cup! Day care says that's all she uses there now.
I gave her a big-girl cup with her milk in it.
She dumped it on the floor and all over her shirt.
I took her in our room to change her. It was like trying to bathe a cat.
When I finally got it on, it was on backwards.
Ten minutes later, I got it on correctly.
She jumped off the bed and got herself wedged between a bag of clothes and a suitcase.
I tried to get her out as she went limp and laughed.
When I finally got her out, I was stuck.
She ran in the bathroom, turned on the sink, and soaked her clean shirt.
I caught up with her, ushered her out of the bathroom.
As I closed the door, she ran back in our room to wedge herself between the bag and suitcase again.
I got her out and brought her back to the kitchen where she stood on a chair at the counter.
The crockpot was within her reach, and I moved it, so she wouldn't get burned.
I burned myself on the crockpot.
I used a bag of broccoli to soothe my burn.
E cried, because she wanted to eat the broccoli.

Other tantrum-worthy moments:
She didn't want the purple milk cup.
She didn't want to eat carrots out of a green bowl.
She only wanted to eat macaroni out of the green bowl.

Throughout the day, I told her not to climb/stand on the furniture.
She jumped up on her chair, which tipped, and the back of the chair hit her nose.
It didn't look that bad, but her nose started bleeding.
And bleeding.
I got her nose to stop bleeding.
She climbed back up in the chair.
She did a somersault into the recliner.
And out of the recliner.

I gave her a bath, snuggled her, kept my cool (for most of the day).

She pinched me, scratched me, and hit me with a toy. She found a stray Sharpie and colored all over the floor. I scrubbed it for 20-minutes straight.

I yelled, I screamed, I cried, I put her in time-out.

She cried too, asked me, "What's wrong, Mommy?" "Are you sad, Mommy?" I know she just wanted my attention. She's never acted like this before, not all day. She was also exhausted. She stayed in her crib for 2 hours this afternoon, but refused to sleep.

Mark came home at 6:15 and took a phone call while I brushed her teeth, gave her fluoride, and read her a story. Then he put her to bed for me.

When he came out of her room, I asked him if he'd do the dishes for me and put E's lunch pail in the dishwasher for tomorrow.

He said, "Oh, I didn't plan on doing that tonight," got himself a yogurt, and sat down on the couch.

Any other night, I would have flipped... and given a really long, sarcastic, soliloquy about how today went exactly as I had planned. But, I didn't. And only because I was exhausted... and, more than that, I had decided that I was done parenting for the day. I would now plan to get some freelance work done and hold onto the one small aspect of my night that I could control -- work.


And, he just went into the kitchen and did my dishes... He must have sensed my eye daggers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Girl

My girl is almost 2-years-old. She's about 3 feet tall and 27lbs. When I put her to bed each night, she asks, "Mommy, rock you?" She wants me to rock her in my arms. The rule is that I have to be standing. I'm not sure why. She doesn't like to rock in a rocking chair. It's always been that way. I cradle her in my arms, a slender bundle of limbs. She looks up at me and smiles. I rock her back and forth and sing, "Be My Baby," the line, "For every kiss you give me, I'll give you three!" She holds her hand up, so I can give it a kiss. Then I nuzzle my nose against her cheek.

Soon after, my back gets sore, but I hold her long after I should, reminding myself that I won't be able to rock her like this for much longer. I put her down, and she rolls over. I keep singing while I rub her back, until she gets sleepy enough to fall asleep on her own after I walk out of her room.

I love these little moments with her.

Yesterday, I took her to get ice cream. I've always gotten her vanilla. Chocolate ice cream isn't a favorite. Ice cream doesn't usually agree with me, but I treated myself to a tiny scoop of Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake. 'Tis the season, after all. She wanted to try my ice cream and proceeded to eat the entire cup. She even took my spoon away as I tried to get a bite in.

"Hey, I want some. Can I have my spoon back?"

Finally, I convince her to return my spoon and decide to have a few bites of the vanilla.

"No, that's mine!" she protests.

Apparently, both ice cream cups are hers. I explain to her that we're sharing this time, and she eventually agrees. She's happy to have the pumpkin flavor all to herself.

We play at the park, visit with the cows, then head home.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Look Who's Talking! A Lot.

My little E said her first word, "Mama" at 2-months old. She just mimicked the noises I was making, but I was still impressed. By 4- and 6-months-old, "Dada" "Bee" were favorites, and by the time she was a year old, she was speaking in full sentences.

Then she went through this strange stage, where she could say so many words and phrases but still didn't comprehend what I was saying. There was a lot of crying during that phase, as she tried to figure out how to communicate both ways.

Then, all of a sudden, it clicked, and she started ordering us around, asking for things, and there were fewer tears when I said things like, "You can't eat chalk, but you can play with your dollhouse."

Better understanding of language brought up new questions like, "I put kitty in toilet?" and "I drive car now?" and of course the WHAT'S THATs. My days were spent speaking in 3-word answers: "That's a rock." "That's some lint." "That's my eyebrow." "That's a (really old) green-bean (from under the recliner)." "Don't eat it!"

She still asks the occasional WHAT'S THAT, like yesterday in the waiting room at the doctor's office, when she pointed to a man sitting in the corner and said, loudly, "WHAT IS THAT?"

"That's a man," I said. He laughed.

But, now we've pretty much moved on to having grown up conversations with her. Add the kid-isms, and it makes for some pretty amusing discussions.

"How was your day today, E?"
"Oh, good."
"What did you do."
"We went out to the playground."
"That's nice, what did you do outside?"
"I ate some sand."

Great... I sincerely hope that the sand-eating doesn't happen as often as she reports.

"E, are you going to Nini's and Bee's this weekend?"
"What are you doing to do there?"
"What else?"
"Get a present!!"

She has my in-laws figured out!

In the morning, Mark helps me put her in the car. Before he closes the door, she insists:
"My kiss!"
"Yep, here's a kiss for you, E!"
"My hug..."
"Ok, huggies!"

Yep, we have to stop the car before driving off, so that she and Dada can wave to each other.

She likes to interject random, "Oh, hello, Mommy!"s into the oddest of situations, like as Mark whisks her off to the potty, bare bottom showing, holding her diaper in her hand. The inflection in her voice says, "Ah, well, just another day..."

I'm always so surprised when I hear her do some new talking trick. She already knows her entire alphabet and can count to 10. I praise her each time she recites them, always with a hint of surprise in my voice, and I think, "Wow, is this really my kid?" She's growing up so fast.

Then I think, "Maybe a little too fast..." as she's begun praising me for my accomplishments. The little hint of surprise in her voice is so genuine that it almost sounds like she's mocking me:

"E, how many leaves does this clover have? 1, 2, 3, 4!"
"Good counting, Mommy!" she says, with such pride in her voice.

Why, thank you...!

Then, last night, she got upset and scratched me. The most effective way to prevent this has been to say, "If you're going to act like that, I don't want to play with you right now." I turn away from her or walk to another room to do something else. She usually cries, but last night, she came after me, put her hand on my arm and said, "Come here. Come here..." She patted my arm and said, "What happened?" Her tone was very, "Who hurt you? Do you need me to take care of this?"

"You scratched me!!" I replied.
"I'm sorry," she said, shyly.
Then, in an almost robot-like tone, she said, "I'm sorry, Mommy."

Here, Mom. Here's the exact phrase that will make you forgive me. Got it? Are we good now? Ok, let's go play.

I'm not sure she's getting the point... but we're learning together, there are fewer scratching incidents, and we're getting along much better now. She's still acting all wild and is into everything she can get her hands on.

Side Note: Someone tell me that this is normal and will pass soon: in one hour, we move from cooking in the kitchen to playing in the sink to painting to drawing to drawing with chalk, to playing dollhouse to trying on hats to trying to get into the fridge to eating a snack to hiding behind the fan eating chalk, to fits of giggles to tears of misery...

The good thing: all of this, every crazy minute, every precious and not-so-precious moment? We're talking about them!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Luke At Me Now

If you read the papers, you’ll know that Luke Perry has recently made an astonishing comeback via a hip, new, reality blog!

Over at the Luke at Me Now site, you can follow the “misadventures of a Luke Perry doll” as he travels New England and gets into all kinds of fun and trouble! Friends Melissa and Lisa have been journeying alongside Luke, documenting his every waking moment and sharing his thoughts and photos with friends and fans worldwide.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with Luke, Melissa, and Lisa this week to ask them about this new reality-blog sensation and Luke’s re-rise to fame: 
  • Lisa, how did you get the idea to collaborate with (Little) Luke on this project?
    Luke was staying with a friend of mine in IL for this meditation retreat, and he’d been talking about moving to New England so that he could work on his memoir and just detach from the Hollywood scene for a bit. So my friend put me in touch with Luke, and the rest is history! Just to maintain a little bit of anonymity, I won’t reveal where Luke is currently staying.
  • Luke, what was your reaction when Lisa approached you about this project, and how did you feel about suddenly throwing yourself back into the “Luke-light”?“Luke-light.” I like that. Can I steal that? Anyway, I had originally moved to Vermont to work on my memoir and just commune with nature. But Lisa’s friends were really eager to find out what makes me tick, which I totally understand, because I’m pretty awesome. So a blog was a natural choice. And when you, Gretchin, got on board as the designer of the blog, well, it was like kismet. And it’s not as invasive as a reality TV show, so I was cool with it. I mean, I really don’t want anyone to catch me coming out of the shower, although you would be impressed with the view.
  • Oh, gosh, it was really no trouble at all (blushes).
  • Lisa, what is your working relationship like with Luke? Do you two work well together?
    Luke is really easy to get along with and he’s pretty much up for anything, as you can see from the blog. We’ve grown pretty close over the past few weeks, and I think we’ll be lifelong friends, even if he does decide to move back to LA.
  • Luke, many of your fans (me included, ahem) were pleased to see the “gun show” this week. How do you manage to stay in such great shape?
    Oh, thank you, thank you. I like to please the ladies, for sure, so that can be a motivation. And I just want to be awesome forever. That’s my goal.
  • Luke, what do you look for in a significant other (giggles)?
    Besides tall women with luscious curls named Gretchin? (Smile.) Well, I like my girl to be adventurous, smart, funny, and sweet. She also has to be kind to animals. That’s a must.
  • Oh my word... (giggles).
  • Melissa, what’s it been like photographing the great Luke Perry?
  • It’s been a blast! Luke and I go way back, so it’s always nice when we get to spend some time together and traipse around different locations. As far as photographing him, he makes my job incredibly easy… am I right ladies??
  • Lisa, do you have any long-term plans for Luke’s adventures?I’m hoping that we can take some trips outside of New England. Luke’s traveled the world, but now he’s in a place where he can truly be a tourist. It helps that he doesn’t mind getting his picture taken, especially when there’s a lovely woman behind the camera.
  • Melissa, how has it been touring New England with Luke? Does he travel well?
  • He’s a diva. (I kid…) He’s incredibly reflective and introspective at times during travel, and dichotomously outlandish and adventurous, showing off his increasing flexibility and pliance, as well as his aforementioned awesomeness. He’s been a trooper about the locations and has really taken it upon himself to get into some risky positions to help us get shots we only dreamed about taking. He’s really quite versatile… and an extremely light traveler… less is definitely more with Luke.
  • Lisa, Melissa, where is Luke off to next?
    Only Luke knows!
Well, it was truly a lovely experience sitting down with these three! Thank you all for your time! I'll see you next time over at Luke At Me Now!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Deacon Dad

What a beautiful weekend! It was my first away from E, but I handled it well. I drove to my parents' house in New York to attend my father's ordination. He's now a deacon in the Catholic Church. We're all so proud of him! The ceremony was so traditional and beautiful and well-deserved after 4+ years of classes and hard work. During that time, his father, step mother, and step father passed away, and my mom underwent 3 surgeries. As always, he was our rock and continues to inspire me to work harder.

On Sunday, I attended mass where he officially served as Deacon. Since I'm not a practicing Catholic, I couldn't receive communion, but I went up to the altar to receive a blessing from him. I also gave him a big, weepy hug and told him that I love him (so much)!

He had told me not to come, that the trip was too long, that he'd be worried about me traveling into the night, that I didn't have to leave E for a weekend just for this. It's rare for me to disobey him, but I had already made up my mind to go. How could I not? I can't think of one significant moment in my life when he wasn't by my side -- elementary school, middle school, high school, and college graduations; my wedding, when E was born.

On Sunday, after mass and after he taught Sunday school until noon, I caught him "stealing" my car to go put gas in it, check the oil, and put air in the tires for my trip home.

"You know, Mom already gave me money to help with gas," I said, as he got in my car.
"Yeah, I know."

Big sigh of relief on my part. We could use the help. He knows that.

And, I think what amazes me most of all is that, he just goes on with his life like normal, as if nothing has changed. He handles the challenges so gracefully. Both he and my mom take care of family the way they always have.

My grandma, Dad's mom, stayed with them for the weekend. She talks proudly about him, the way Dad talks about my sister and I, the way I now gush about how every little thing E does is just so amazing. "I'm just so proud of my baby," Grandma says as she beams. I know that feeling now, I really know it.

Back home yesterday evening and into a chaotic Monday readjusting to life with a toddler. The last 24 hours have been a rollercoaster of laughter and tears. But, more about that later!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Foliage Friday

Ok, so I know that it's technically Monday, but I'm adding this as a Friday post. Friday, I ventured across the lake to see my parents in New York. I thought that the sunset ferry ride would be a perfect photo opportunity to capture the Vermont foliage from Lake Champlain. It wasn't quite as "glowy" as I anticipated. It was more... um, black, silhouetted against the fading sun.

Still, I snapped a few pretty pics and particularly liked this one, below, with the ferry leading a (gaggle?) of geese, but I apologize for ending the week with a sizzle instead of a foliage explosion. If anyone has any of their own pics to share, feel free to email me, and I will post them!

Now I'm home and getting used to having a toddler again. Wow, this is not for the faint of heart! More updates to come!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Foliage Thursday

Well, I'm a little late getting to Foliage Thursday, but that's okay, because... we didn't do that much. I had to call into a work meeting in the afternoon, and poor E was weepy from a bad diaper rash. After the call, I let her soak in the tub while I played with her in the water and visited with my mom on the phone. We picked up the apartment, and she helped me make dinner.

I've been having a hard time getting her to sit through a meal, but tonight she was content to sit and eat, cross-legged in the kitchen, in one of the big dining room chairs, her dinner bowl in her lap. I pulled up a chair next to her to eat my own dinner. "Sure, why not?"

One of her favorite new phrases is, "I'm happy," or as she says it, "My happy!" as she points to her big grin. Then she asks if I'm happy. I always say, "If you're happy, I'm happy."

It's true. But, I have to admit that I love that I get more of a glimpse of her little personality when she's sad or when she sees me sad. I had a little meltdown during dinner when the food was done, and E was hanging on me crying. I was trying to prevent her from getting burnt while not burning the food while still letting her "help" in the kitchen and giving her all the sympathy and patience I could, knowing that she was just cranky from that diaper rash. I broke down and cried a little, just a stress release from... everything. I sat down on the couch to take a moment.

She crawled up in my arms, touched my face and said, "Mommy crying? Mommy sad?"
"Yeah, but I'll be okay. I'm just a little stressed with dinner and everything. Can you help me?"
"Yeah, I gib you huggies."

And it did help, and I know I'm doing something right. Some people would say that I should hold it together, be the rock, not let her see me cry. I tell myself that sometimes, too, but tonight I just let myself have a little sob-it-out moment. Then we talked it out, got up 2 minutes later, and went on with our night.

And I can't get that image out of my mind -- of her looking at me with genuine concern, that hint of empathy. I worry so much about being a good parent. I let her have her way a lot, maybe too much sometimes. Like, does she really need to cover her stuffed duck in (washable) paint just to spend an hour giving it a bath in the sink? Probably not, but I let her. She throws typical toddler temper tantrums, and I sometimes give in out of sheer exhaustion or bored indifference, but I'm trying for consistency.

My mom motto has and always will be, "I'll do better tomorrow," and I preached the same thing to her this morning when she confessed that she had hurt one of her classmates at day care.

"I hurt Jodi's leg."
"Did you scratch him?"
"What did the teacher say."
"She said, 'Stop!'"
"Did you stop?"
"Did you apologize?"
"Ok, well let's do better at day care today. Please don't scratch anyone else. And, if someone scratches or pushes you, you need to say..."
"Stop it!"
"That's right. And then you tell..."
"Well, Jacob is a toddler like you. Please tell an adult. Tell Katie."

I think she's getting it. And, hopefully, me too!

Here's a picture of a big ol' spider in our window last night and the sun setting over our little apartment in the Green Mountain State. Tomorrow, Friday, I head across the lake to New York. My first weekend traveling without my baby! My dad is graduating and becoming a deacon in the church. This is a huge accomplishment, and I can't wait to share this celebration with my family! More foliage pics to come!

Wow, our window is dirty.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Foliage Wednesday

What better way to celebrate Vermont's foliage than to get outside and enjoy it! We got out on the rec path again today and rented bikes. This time I got a cart for E. She loved to "go fast" and say, "Giddyup, Mommy!" It was a great ride, perfect weather, gorgeous scenery. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day!

Some parts of the path were already covered with leaves. It was so pretty. We showed Mark our photos when we got home, and E narrated our day:

"There's Bee! We ride bike! Look at the water, Dada! There's some trees! Leaves changing colors! That's me! I throw rocks in water!"

That pretty much sums up our awesome day! More pics and a video of us riding on Instagram.

Here are a few more pics of the scenery:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Foliage Tuesday

This is a fun project to try with your toddler! Just expect paint to get everywhere. In fact, you may want to consider attempting this right before bath time and keeping your little one in a diaper only.

Yay, finger painting! I provided E with fall colors: green, red, yellow, and orange (mixed some red and yellow). She loved it!

Let your little one make all kinds of "smushes" on the sheet using things around the house to stamp. You could even use actual leaves to stamp with, but we used our fingers and paper towels mainly. You can bunch and pinch the paper towel into a leaf shape and hand it to your toddler to dip, or you can just let them do their own thing and, after, sketch leaves into their designs. We did a combination of the two.

E really likes having her own painting, so I let her do her own to keep for herself. Then, I ask her to help me by stamping a few "leaves" in the corner of a greeting card.

I like to use a Sharpie pen to sketch in some details of the leaf after the paint dries, but some of them were clear enough and looked so pretty with no drawn in lines (2nd photo at right). It's completely up to you. Also, her little, red finger prints made sweet, little ladybugs (bottom photo). You can add some stamped- or hand-lettering, too.