Pumpkin Says Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, from my pumpkin to you!

(P.S. NaBloPoMo starts tomorrow... YIKES.)

Read: A Year of Biblical Womanhood

A Year of Biblical WomanhoodA Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. I've read Rachel Held Evans' blog for a couple years, ever since I read her first book Evolving in Monkeytown, but I haven't paid super close attention. I finally understand the "women of valor" series I kept seeing pop up but never took the time to read.

When the opportunity to pre-order her new book for less than $7 I didn't hesitate. Now several months later and I've got the book in my grubby little hands. The book is officially released today, but I've had it for about a week and finally finished it today (parenting books--and parenting itself--got in my way of devouring it more quickly).

I love the way Evans writes -- her conversational style about such a weighty topic of women's role in the church and home speaks to my heart. And this very issue is something that cuts deeply and has vexed me.

I'd like to think I could ask the questions Evans tackles in her yearlong project, but she asks questions that I would never have known to ask. I'm so glad that she already has explored the answers and put them together in such an easy-to-read book. I especially love her insight into the Proverbs 31 woman and her research into Judaism, its culture and traditions, and how that feeds into how we understand Christ.

This book may be further fueling a desire to continue investigating and praying about what it means to be a woman who follows Jesus. I also feel like buying this book as a gift for some of the women of valor in my life. I think you should take a look at it too.

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Disclosure: a couple of Amazon affiliate links included.


October 30 has significance for me and has for a few years. Shawn and I met at a Halloween party in Washington, DC, in 2004. So today marks 8 years of knowing the one I love the most.

Today also marks a year since "Pumpkin's" due date. I loved the dates aligning ... that we expected Jane on an anniversary. She came later, of course, but I'm sure I will always remember and mark October 30 anyway.

October 30, 2011

Grandma Jane

Today is Grandma Jane's birthday. I just realized that when I looked at the date on my clock by the computer (it used to be by my nursing chair, but since someone learned to walk I can't really have breakables at toddler-level).

I wonder what Grandma Jane would think about Baby Jane...

I'm sure she'd love her and Owen too.

Grandma Jane's great-grand babies.

Read: Beyond the Sling

Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting WayBeyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way by Mayim Bialik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to love, love, love this book because I aspire to be a hippie mom of sorts (but fall short in so many ways, see part-time cloth diapering, non-organic carpet and window coverings, etc.) and am drawn to attachment parenting. I respect this book and its approach for sure, but in the same way the "cry-it-out" type books leave me feeling like I'm doing it wrong, parts of this made me question what I'm doing ... such as, should I have kept Jane's crib in our room indefinitely? But in other ways I am doing OK by this book's system (nursing, lots of carrying, spending insane amounts of time together, etc.).

This book is a look at one family's parenting strategies, and it's written by an actress with a neurobiology PhD. While some of her educational training does seep into the book, overall this is a parenting memoir (of early childhood -- her oldest is 7) and a very good one. I liked the writing and could tell she wasn't trying to talk down to people who make other decisions for their families. (Sometimes I'm not sure I'm making any decision at all though.)

Bialik lost me when she talked about vaccines. She didn't go into detail, but she did say her family chose not to vaccinate, although I do agree in the concept of choice (sound familiar?). The idea of elimination communication still seems foreign to me, but I was glad to get a first-person introduction to it.

I liked the idea of less stuff, which is a battle I fight constantly and am LOSING in terms of Jane's possessions -- although we have decided to try to rotate out toys, and I have a box of stuff put away to be opened in May. But one thing Bialik mentioned that was weird to me is "babies don't need a lot of books." I can't help it, I want Jane to have lots of books and spend lots of time with them, which she does. Maybe I'm doing her a disservice or overwhelming her with choices, but I know I won't be able to bring myself to stop. We even go to the library each week and check out more.

I love the idea of gentle discipline and am hoping to learn more and use that as Jane grows. It will go against my innate tendencies (which I know because of Owen include being short-tempered and impatient).

I also like delaying exposure to media, TV and advertising as long as possible. I know we want to keep to the American Academy of Physicians recommendation of no screen time before 2 and probably go beyond that if we can (although I cheat when we travel when Jane gets to look at pictures of herself on my iPod, and she also sees my computer screen from the background sometimes).

Anyway, Beyond the Sling gave me a lot to think about, as well as a list of other books to read (many of which were at the library and a few more were available for a couple dollars each used on Amazon). I'd recommend it if you're interested in knowing more about Attachment Parenting (the new AP in my life). And I subscribed to Bialik's blog on Kveller.

View all my reviews

Sippy Cup Drama

Water or breast milk only please!
It's been a few days, but I'm still hung up on this.

On Sunday Jane went to the church nursery as per usual. Things have changed there -- they've moved rooms and hired a new worker. The pastors were also out of town, meaning there were 5 fewer kids in the mix, and during church it was just Jane and another little boy slightly older than she is.

She cried a bit when we left her, but it wasn't heart wrenching. When I checked in after worship/before Sunday school the volunteer church member worker said she was just fine and hadn't fussed at all. So I didn't go see her and assumed all was well.

She was the only kid with the new worker for the Sunday school hour. When we went to pick her up she cried when she saw us (probably pissed that we'd left her with a stranger for so long), and I almost crumbled when I saw what was in her sippy cup: JUICE.

At first I thought they'd given her Kool-aid, but upon later inspection it was "just" apple juice.

I had packed her a snack and a sippy of water as I usually do (once they tried to give her Goldfish crackers, so I know better than to send her with nothing ... which is actually what she "needs" during those two hours).

At drop off I told the volunteer and the new paid worker that she could have these for a snack. NEVER did I say "give her some juice," and they had to dump out her water to put it in her sippy.

I flipped out enough that the worker said "she didn't really drink it or like it," but I know now she's had a taste of apple juice and it wasn't my choice/I didn't get to give it to her as a treat and see how she reacted.

I also wonder if whoever gave her juice did it to try to get her to stop crying. If she's upset I'd MUCH rather they call me. I don't mind giving up Sunday school or church time to take care of my baby, and I want her to know I'm always available. BUT she can't talk or ask for me yet, so I'm all kinds of conflicted about what I should do going forward.

I don't want to tattle on the worker, because I'm not even sure she was the one who gave Jane the juice (it could have been the church volunteer or the mom of the other kid), and it's really such a stupid thing that no one but me would be upset. I'm just overly particular about Jane's food and drink right now because she is so small and I want to set her up for good eating habits. I know a sip (or even a cup) of juice isn't going to undo my efforts, but I'm steamed about it even now.


I've started trying to keep the house clean using a calendar/task schedule -- modified from this one that I saw on Pinterest (I swear I don't spend much time on that site!). I made mine in Word using my wedding font and swirl graphic (what a nerd).

As to cleaning, I don't do things perfectly, but I am getting into some kind of rhythm of doing each daily chore without too much self-whining. There's still some, but I love checking things off lists, so this is appealing to me.

BUT things broke down last Wednesday when I fell sick. As in stomach-bug-can't-move-fevers-and-chills sick.

Oh, and Shawn was out of town.

Luckily a good friend helped me by bringing 7up -- I am a weirdo, but that's all I wanted. Some 7up and my couch ... riding out the sickness.

But oh yeah, I still had to take care of Jane.

Thankfully she was not sick, but she gave me a break by playing a lot on her own, reading her books -- or bringing them to me while I splayed on the couch, and we took several naps together while we waited for Shawn to get home from his trip.

Somehow we made it, and although Jane got a little bit of the sickness on Friday (without ever skipping a beat and remaining her happy self), and Shawn got as sick as I was on Sunday we are all healthy today.

BUT my inlaws came to town the day after Shawn got home. And yep, my father-in-law got sick too.

My mother-in-law has the best constitution of us all, as she didn't even get a single chill. (Her preventive measure: Rolaids, so who knows.)

Basically, with the sickness and then family in town I got a little behind on my chore list. Try a LOT behind.

So today, after my inlaws got on the road, I got Jane down for a nap and got to work -- trying to deep clean the bathrooms especially and in general catching up on the backlog of chores.

I've pretty much got everything done, including fresh sheets in the guest room and clean towels in the guest bathroom, just in time for my mom and sister and Owen to come for a visit!

Basically this full day of cleaning makes me appreciate the bite-size approach of the cleaning calendar and hope I can keep it up and have some semblance of a tidy home. (Just look away from the overflowing laundry basket of toys...)

One of my chores is to pick up this mess every night -- I do it almost every night.


Got this from Winn-Dixie and think it is funny. I didn't give Jane's name when I signed up before she was born so I guess they think her name is Tbd!

Am I Better Off?

A few weeks ago a big question surrounding the election was "are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

Of course the real question is about the COUNTRY and whether it's better off than it was ... or something like that. But the answer for me is YES.

That isn't to say I wasn't happy four years ago, but things have moved in an upward trajectory for me, and I'm very happy to be where I am, doing what I'm doing.

I lived in New York, the best city, so in some ways that might be considered better then than now. (Baton Rouge is not even the best city in Louisiana.) But other than that geographic preference everything about my life today is better than it was in 2008.

I lived in a few hundred square feet then. Today I have an entire house plus out buildings. (There's one score for BR over NYC.)

Fighting bedbugs in 2008 ... 5H
Four years ago I was still trying to figure out what was causing my hives. Multiple doctors visits and a couple rounds of steroids later we found the bedbugs. Ugh to infinity.

I was a newlywed then, which was definitely a good time. Today I am happily married for more than four years, an even better time.

More than just being two, we are now a family of three. And nothing could make me happier ... except maybe being a family of four? :)

Of course this silly reminiscing isn't actually influencing my decision on election day. In 2008 I voted for Obama in NYC, and in 2012 I will do it again in Baton Rouge.


Draw Something Badges

I love the app Draw Something. It's the main reason my mom gifted me an iPod touch with the capability to run the app. It's pictionary online, and you use your fingers to draw.

I play with four people, and half of them read this blog and we've been talking about the new badges you can earn. It's been hard for me to type on the iPod within the game enough to explain how I understand them, and there doesn't seem to be anything clearly explaining how I understand it either. So here's what I can tell:

My drawing of a skeleton for
the "Don't Go In There" badge
There are 11 badges available for the free version of the app (there are likely more for the paid version). They're just collections of words that are around a theme. You can't see what the words are, but you can see the themes -- like "Don't Go In There" (skeleton is one of the words) and "Beauties and the Beast" (flower, princess, woman and kingkong) and "The Hardest Spelling Bee Ever" (3-letter words like tea, art, red) -- and see how many words are in each themed badge and how many letters each of those words have.

As you draw a word that's in a badge it will show up within that badge as complete (as far as I can tell it doesn't even need to be guessed correctly -- you just have to draw it).

Once you draw all the words within a badge theme you are awarded the badge and given a bonus of coins. As far as I can tell it's 10 coins per word in the badge (for the "Beauties and the Beast" badge I got 40 and for "The Hardest Spelling Bee Ever" badge I got 50).

There doesn't seem to be anything else you can DO with a badge -- some of the questions I read online were "how do I open the badge?" and "what do I do with a badge?" Really I think they're just a way to keep people playing and a way to earn more coins quickly.

(Coins can be accumulated to buy additional colors and bombs, which can unlock other choices of words to draw or remove letters when guessing someone else's drawing.)

The words for the badges do not have to be opened with a bomb. As I have completed the badges I have noticed that the badge words are marked in the lists with a little badge icon. If I see that icon, I know to pick that word to draw (even if it's an "easy" or one-coin word) to get closer to earning a badge.

But some days I don't see a badge word at all, so I'm not sure how long it would take to complete all 11 badges -- or if there's a bigger coin bonus if you do.

Hope this helps, and if it's unclear I can try to explain myself better. And if I figure out other things as I go along I'll update this post.

Happy Drawing.

Gym Member Fail

I do not like working out.

I love the way I feel after I work out, and even more how I feel when I CONSISTENTLY work out.

Jane is closing in on her first year, and I still haven't figured out a way to exercise while balancing child care. #mamafail

I am not a morning person -- so waking up before Shawn and Jane to exercise seems so daunting, especially since someone has regressed and doesn't sleep through the night anymore.

In the evenings I am so hungry and juggling feeding Jane, making dinner for us, giving a baby bath, making a PJ bunny, etc. that working out after Shawn comes home doesn't seem realistic either.

Excuses, excuses. But I set about finding a gym that has childcare. Ideally one nearby.

Gyms don't make information easily available -- such as the COSTS or the times in which childcare is available. I decided to go visit the gym nearest me that did have childcare.

Jane and I looked around, and it was very nice. The childcare SEEMED OK to me at first, although the giant TV (like a giant old-school tube TV) made me nervous -- both because I wouldn't want Jane to watch it and I could just envision it toppling over on a little kid. Also the childcare was only available in the mornings and evenings -- i.e. not even at the times most convenient for me to work out given Jane's nap schedule and my natural exercise preference (sometime between 3 and 5 pm). SO I panicked and balked at the gym membership ... of course AFTER I signed up.

So I had to undo the membership (and Shawn agreed -- plus it was pricy, more than I really needed, since what I need is an elliptical and child care). It was embarrassing and made me sick to my stomach for a couple days. The membership guy was very nice about it -- but he took it as though my husband said "no" and told me to let him know if he changed his mind. Ugh.

I still don't know what to do for exercise, although if it ever cools down here (91 yesterday OMG) I could start going on walks consistently with Jane and try to power walk/get my heart rate up that way. I've also considered re-joining Shawn's gym (which is super close to our house, inexpensive but no child care) and just sucking it up and waking up a few days a week to go get exercise over with. I also might look into the YMCA, although it is farther away from the house and the childcare hours are similar to the other gym.

Stream of consciousness and total dumminess on my part. Let me know if you have the magic solution...

Thin Skinned

Playground climbing
I thought the advice I got while pregnant was bad -- the horror stories of what would happen, both during the birth and once the baby was home. But all of that did not toughen up my skin or prepare me for the continued advice and poking questions I seem to get.

I know 99% of it is actually me projecting meaning into a harmless question, but when a mom at the playground asked "so, is Jane in any school programs?" I felt immediately shamed and panicky because the answer is of course "NO" but ...

SHOULD she be in school programs? She's 10 months old. Is she already at an age that I can't provide her with the stimulation she needs? Does she need more socialization than library story time, the church nursery and the playground can provide?


And all of that from a question that was probably more like "know of any good programs for kids?" or "let me tell you about this program my son is in." (Although this particular mom I already knew she had her son in Mother's Day Out and also works as a music teacher for that program.)

Just writing this out makes my insecurities seem less important and likely a waste of my time fretting them. I also need to be a better listener to create some real mom friendships. Developing friendships is very difficult for me in any case, and adding this weird self-consciousness about my parenting choices seems to make it that much harder.

Maybe I should just grow up...

Mini Photo Marble Magnets

Mini Photo Marble Magnet crafting supplies
If you're looking for a quick gift making these marble magnets might be just the ticket. They're personalized and so easy to make (and honestly pretty cheap too!). Here's what you need:
I first made these with scrapbook paper and some Owen photos several years ago. And I used the Not Martha tutorial.

First I cut all the images -- using the hole punch upside down (so I can center the punch over the face in the picture -- close ups make the best magnets). If you don't have the hole punch you could just use the magnet as a guide for your scissors and cut out a circle.

Then I put a dab of glue on the magnet and put the paper on it face up, pressing to get good adhesion. Another dab of glue on the marble and mash the picture magnet onto it. Press down to make the glue squish to the edges.

Be sure to have good light so you can make sure the glue is evenly distributed under the marble (it will dry clear and bubbles should disappear, but without glue evenly distributed you'll get dark spots).

Let the magnets dry flat for a day or so before you put them up on the fridge or put them in a small metal box for gifting. I found round metal boxes at a NYC stationery store, but Altoid's boxes would work ... and you could even decorate those with pictures or special paper too.

There are so many metal surfaces around our house, and I love getting a glimpse of Jane's face -- and Owen's face because I still have many from my first round of making these -- when I do laundry or walk out the kitchen door.

If you make these let me know. I'd love to see them!

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links used.

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