Mother’s Day Memories

On this #TBT, I did something a little different.
 
Instead of a picture, I’m going to share some of my favorite memories of the special ‘moms’ in my life.
 
1. Christmas with my mom. Especially as a child although she does it just the same for me as an adult. I figured out Santa very early on, I was always a little wise beyond my years in some areas, others not so much. When I figured it out around 5yo she let me help her with wrapping ALL the presents and would buy me one special small something to play with while we stayed up late on weekends doing all the wrapping. Now, if you know my mama, you know Christmas is her thing. There was not a corner of our house not decorated, she even wrapped the range hood in wrapping paper and let me tell you, to see our house so transformed at Christmas was just magical to me. I always love remembering those late Friday nights, her bedroom strewn with toys and gifts while she taught me how to properly wrap a present and let me ‘test’ our Christmas gifts. She also always took us shopping for a new outfit before every field trip. It was always special to me.
 
2. My grandma had a big impression on me. We stayed with her in the summer, anytime school was out, and after school. She lived right next to us. I’m so sad that dementia is not letting my kids see the granny I grew up with. It’s a hard thing for me to come to terms with. My granny taught me to do chores first thing in the mornings. We’d sweep, polish furniture, wash dishes, all sorts of things. She’d french braid my hair and I thought that was the most relaxing soothing thing I’d ever felt. I still long for that relaxed, pampered feeling some days. Every day mama would pack us a ‘satchel’ full of books and my granny would put both my sister and I on her lap and read us every last one of those books. When it stormed, she’d turn all the lights off reminding us her house wasn’t ‘grounded’. Then she’d have us sit in the floor, away from the windows, and she’d tell us ghost stories for hours. She’d tell us all about her daddy coming home in the rain, lighting matches and seeing horses that weren’t there. Dogs that turned into balls of fire. My granny was the best ghost story-teller I’ve ever come in contact with. And every time it storms, I long to sit down in the floor, Indian style, and listen to her tell me a story. I probably chose to be a stay at home mom in hopes of recreating such a rich childhood like she did for us. There is such beauty in the simplicity that is motherhood and it’s something I have treasured from very early on.
 
3. Aunt Vickie. My aunt also lived next door to us for much of my childhood and we spent a lot of time with her. As I’ve grown older she is more like a second mother than an aunt. And my children think of her as another grandma. She would take us for rides in her meticulously cleaned and waxed car. The leather seats were well oiled and if we didn’t buckle up, we’d go sliding across the back which we thought was fun. She’d take us down ‘spooky’ dirt roads and tell us stories about the ghosts on them. This tradition she has passed along to my boys and they absolutely love it. She’d let us listen to her HUGE collection of CDs and play VHS tapes of The Monkees for us. And she’d let us come to work with her at the library in the summer which was an adventure for us. We’d get to desensitize discarded magazines and books and hide out in the work stations. Of course she’d let us watch our very favorite ghost story tape in the media room too. And I STILL miss those stories! She still spoils my kids and I rotten.
 
4. I miss watching my Granny Ollie quilt by hand. She also liked to tell us stories about growing up which we loved.
 
5. My aunt Anna used to bring my cousins down every Friday so we could play. And we’d often all pile into one car and ride to the Dollar Tree which we loved.
 
6. My aunt Jane would let us come to her house to swim and we spent many Sundays playing at Granny’s with Colby.
 
7. While not part of my childhood, I am very happy that Becky is a part my children’s. They love going to Nana’s house and I love that they are so richly loved and cared for when there.
 
No family is perfect, but I am blessed with ‘mothers’ who care, love, teach, instill values, and let us have fun. I am not a perfect mother, but I try very hard to be a good one. And these women taught me how to do that. Thank you all.
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When Babies Aren’t Babies Anymore

Today, it hit me. I’ve been a mom for over five years, but today I finally got it.
 
For some reason I’ve never been able to envision my children as more than ‘babies’. I’m fully aware that they grow, but in my mind, they are and were always going to stay babies. My five-year old had a little exercise to do on what he might want to be when he grows up. So I asked him and he told me very bluntly and clearly that he wants to be a police officer so he can carry a gun and catch the ‘bad guys’. Now I hear about bad guys every single day from my son. He is an avid superhero lover and loves nothing more than to tell me what superhero he is and how is going to fight those ‘bad guys’. I always just thought of this as play, I never realized he might be doing adult work and thinking about how this play equates to life. I should have, he is a smart boy and like his mama he is alllll about analogies and comparisons. This small child is figuring out this world, whether I’m ready for it or not.
 
He and I had a chat about police officers, their guns, and those bad guys. I am not ready to tell him that the bad guys in the real world don’t carry weapons that shoot freezing webs, that the things they do are far worse than what he sees in all his superhero movies. But part of me knows that this precious boy who I was still seeing as my baby probably already knows more of it than I wish he did. We talked about how police officers might also help those who don’t have as much as others. I showed him articles about real police officers doing toy drives for needy children or helping a mom or dad who couldn’t afford a car seat get one. And he grinned. He grinned so big telling me he’d like to help too. That’s when I broke.
 
Boy to ManThat’s when my heart burst in sadness and happiness all at once. I’m raising a little boy, but I’m raising him to be a man. A man I pray for every single day. An honest, caring, loving, smart man who will do things to make so many proud while making this world a better place. I pray daily for my children’s health, their happiness, and the strength to be the mother they need. I pray that he beats speech apraxia and that he accomplishes much. But I never think about him as an adult. At least I didn’t until today when my mind finally broke that baby mold I’d placed him in. I could see him, my baby, as an equal. Not a child, not my baby, but my grown son. I knew then that I’d always pray, that I’d always be worried and hopeful for him. That it would never stop and only grow. It also meant I’d get to experience his triumphs and joys. Not just the first steps and the conquering of a speech disorder, but a graduation, a true love, a JOB. Today I got it.
 
I always knew that police officers, doctors, firemen, military, etc all had dangerous jobs. They do, whether it be guns or disease they fight against, they put their lives at risks. I never looked at these people as someone’s son or daughter. I knew they were and I was grateful they had the bravery to put themselves out there so wholly to help others, but I never got that behind all of them, there was likely a terrified mama. A mama who was so proud but so scared of what her child was doing. A mama who stayed up at night worried, wishing just maybe that child was sitting behind a desk in an office instead.
 
I have no idea what my children will grow up to be. My only thought is that they grow to be good. That they’re kind to others and have morals and values and that they love. I’m lucky enough that one of them also has more bravery in his youth than I probably have as an adult. Somehow, I’m doing something right and I hope they continue down that right path. For all those terrified mamas behind the brave, the good – thank you. I don’t know how you do it, but thank you for raising courageous good souls who add beauty to this world instead of marring it.

Graphic Art Freebies: Family

This week we have three graphic art freebies centered around family.  Download them, make them cover photos, frame them as wall hangings, or use them as little gift tags.  Just have fun with it 🙂

 

Career Mom

 

We Do Family

 

Aunt

Motherhood…My Reality Check

I’m almost eight months into my journey as a mother of two…

I thought that having one kid changed me, but I think having the second brought me back to more of who I ‘used to be’.  One thing about motherhood that nobody could’ve prepared me for was the judgement I would face from what felt like EVERYONE.

With my first child, I had every intention of breastfeeding. And then it just plain and simply did not work for us.  Save your lectures about the lactation consultants and all that jazz and just take me at my word.  The truth is, I was relieved when I ‘gave up’ on our trying and I said goodbye to my pump and our constant non-successful struggles to latch.

Baby number two was a champ and latched pretty well right away.  But, then it became clear that something was just off with him and his little tummy.  Turns out, he had a milk protein allergy. So I stopped all dairy and yet a few weeks later, he still wasn’t all that happy. I was worse. I cried a lot and I never slept.  I was on supplements to increase my supply, I was on a strict high calorie diet.  But nothing felt like it was paying off or helping.  He screamed all night, he screamed all day.

Yep, there was a whole lotta this going on!

Yep, there was a whole lotta this going on!

My husband and I were losing our minds.  I would beg him to come home from work so I could just breath and not feel like I was going to explode from exhaustion.  Around six weeks, we decided that I, more so we, had reached our limit.  Our son had his first bottle of soy formula two days shy of six weeks and it was instant calm.  No more screaming all night and day.  He had been hungrier than my supply could provide for and my constant state of panic and exhaustion weren’t helping.

I think the main reason I tried for so long wasn’t because of my fear of formula being bad for him, it was my fear of the judgement I would face from other mothers.  I knew formula wasn’t bad for him.  My other son had been fed formula and he’s never had more than a cold or slightly upset stomach a day in his life.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that breast milk is best IN MOST CASES.  I also believe that every mother, every person, has a right to decide what is right for their own family.  As a society we should support both sides. I’m not here to sway anyone in either direction.  I’m here to say that as a mother, I never want to make another mother feel like she is inadequate when she is doing what she feels is best for her child.

Before I had children, I never knew how much competition there was between moms.  And no, it’s not all moms.  But it is enough to make you question your beliefs from time to time.

What?? We let our little boy have a doll AND long hair ;)

What?? We let our little boy have a doll AND long hair 😉

When I was a mom to just one little guy, I think I cared a great deal about what others thought of my parenting.  I would beam and be delighted when someone commented on how smart he was or how well-behaved.  I would blush beat red when he threw a fit in public or if someone took note of something they thought he was ‘behind’ on.  The truth is, I really wish I would’ve ignored all that.  It was a complete and total waste of time to care what anyone else thought of me or my child.  I should have spent that time playing more with him, using every spare second to build his confidence and our relationship.

With the birth of my second child, I think I was out to prove just how great of a mom I was.  Those first five weeks of what I call hell proved to me that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone except my children, my husband and myself.  Only when I let go of caring what everyone else thought and did what I thought was needed and best did I begin to enjoy my second child.

One of his first real smiles!

One of his first real smiles!

I thought baby number two and I would never bond during those five weeks.  We bonded within a week of that first bottle.  It wasn’t the bottle itself and the end to our breastfeeding journey that brought peace to us.  It was seeing my brand new little boy truly happy.  Watching him start to pack on the pounds.  Watching him smile at me for the first time.  Watching my other son come alive again as he had his ‘mommy’ back.  I wasn’t the sleep deprived shell of myself anymore.  I felt alive.  I felt love, warmth, and like I was doing what was right for them.

Nearly eight months into this crazy journey, I have my full self back and a whole lot more love than I ever imagined.  Both of my sons giggle often.  They also both throw big tantrums and there are still times when I’d prefer to lock myself in a room and hide.  But there is a difference…

I promise he's not choking him despite that mischievous grin.

I promise he’s not choking him despite that mischievous grin.

I no longer give a crap about what anyone else thinks of my parenting.  I no longer waste time trying to impress anyone with what my kids do or don’t do.  I don’t care if your kid is doing things my kid doesn’t and I don’t care if mine is doing things your’s doesn’t.  The truth is, I love my children no matter what they do or when they do it.  I don’t think any less of them when they make a mess or when they need a little extra help.

We're not perfect. We don't want to be.

We’re not perfect. We don’t want to be.

If you don’t like that my two-year old is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, well then I recommend you plug your ears.  We all march to our own drum and if he needs to express that he is angry about having to ride in the cart, well then so be it.  This is one mom who refuses to take part in the so-called ‘mommy wars’.  We’re not perfect, and I don’t want my children growing up under the impression that makes them any less of a person.

Yummy Pumpkin Muffins

My family loves fall. We love the scents, the sights, all the fun activities – we love it all.  Every year we stock our candy dish full of Brach’s Autumn Mix (my oldest son picks out the regular candy corn, hubby the pumpkins, and me the indian corn) and I make all sorts of pumpkin and apple filled delights.  We stocked our candy dish yesterday and this morning I started the season off right with my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins – yum!

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup pumpkin (you can use canned or even pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Put liners in muffin tins or spray muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Whisk flour and baking powder together, set aside.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth.  Whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir together cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl (use the bowl you used for your flour mixture to save on washing extra dishes). Set aside.

Divide batter into twelve muffin cups (approx. 3/4 full) and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over the muffins.  Bake until puffed and golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.  Approx. 25-30 minutes.

Cool in pan 5-10 minutes then transfer to rack or plate to cool.  Delicious served warm or room temperature!

Nutrition Info
makes 12 servings, serving size is one muffin

  • Calories 197
  • Fat 6.75g
  •   Saturated Fat 0.67g
  •   Polyunsaturated Fat 1.67g
  •   Monounsaturated Fat 3.33g
  • Cholesterol 30.83mg
  • Sodium 207.5mg
  • Potassium 31.67mg
  • Carbohydrates 33.5g
  •   Fiber 1.34g
  • Sugar 22.17g
  • Protein 2.83g
  • Vitamin A 51%
  • Vitamin C 0.3%
  • Calcium 0.67%
  • Folate 5%
  • Iron 4.3%
  • Niacin 4%
  • Riboflavin 3%
  • Thiamin 5%

For My Son

Being only a couple of months away from the birth of our second son, I feel so bittersweet.  I am thrilled to be adding another precious child to our family, but also a bit heartbroken that this intimate time with my first son is drawing to a close.  I know we will still be close and have moments that are all our own, but I also know it will be difficult for us both not to be completely attached to one another.  We haven’t spent more than a few hours apart since his birth and I’m nowhere near ready to leave him overnight as I go to the hospital to give birth.  I know he will be well cared for and that I will be incredibly busy, but  the mom in me just wants to be near him.

Below is the note I will put away for him.
My Dearest Brenan,

You’re too young to understand all the change that is about to happen in our world.  For the past year and a half, we’ve spent our days mostly alone, just you and I.  We giggle, sometimes we cry, we play, we read, sing, dance, and enjoy this special time when I am solely your mommy and you my precious son.  Until you have a child all your own, you may not fully understand just how much these small moments have mattered to me.

I am sure I will read pieces of this note to you again and again over the next several months. When you look up at me with tears because your brand new baby brother rests in my arms and for a moment I can’t hold you both.  Mommy’s eyes will stream with tears too because I never want you to feel like I can’t hold you or be there for you – even for a moment.  You have been my primary thought since I found out you were soon to have a sibling.  I’ve spent many nights worrying about leaving you overnight for the very first time.  I even tried to talk your dad into bringing the pack and play to our hospital room at my most irrational and heartbroken.  Since your birth, my only job has been to care for you and love you.  It’s not easy to have to take even a small break.

You will always always ALWAYS have a special place in my heart.  You were the gift your dad and I received after years of wanting a child.  We spent a long time very sad because we never thought we’d get to experience something so precious as you.

I remember seeing your dad cry when you first came into this world, and your dad never cries. I remember how unreal and wonderful it felt to finally have you in my arms. I’m not sure I’ve really stopped staring at you in awe and wonder since then, and I probably never will.

No matter how many siblings you grow to have, I will never love you any less than I do today.  I will always strive to give you my attention and teach you all the wonders this world has to offer.  You are such a smart, brave little boy full of love and life.  I know you will be an amazing big brother just as you have been an amazing son.

You will show Nevan all the things precious to you and teach him your favorite songs.  You’ll pat his hand when he’s sad and laugh with him as you play.  And you will, as always, make me a very proud and happy mom.  You, your brother and your dad are my whole world.  I can’t imagine anything greater than watching you grow and blossom as we enter the next stage in our lives.

Love Always,

Your Mommy

The Little Things

Rawr! I might be little, but I can do BIG things.

My son is almost seventeen months old…and yet we’ve already entered the ‘terrible’ twos.   Some days this is a challenge, but if I take a step back and try to see the world through his eyes our days go by more smoothly.

It isn’t always easy to remember that at one time we didn’t possess the words or ability to simply say, “Mom, I’m really tired” or “I would rather have water than juice with lunch today.”  These little things that my tiny bundle of energy can’t say frustrate him.  We’re normally good at communicating without words, so good that I sometimes I fear I’m holding him back in the language department.  So I’ve been spending my days explaining what everything in our world is.  “Light, remote, nose, book, milk” I say these words over and over, sometimes driving my own self crazy. My son loves it though.  Last night he said light for the first time and he’s become an expert at saying kitty as he chases our manx down the hall.

On days where I’m especially frustrated with his tantrums and exploring, I take a moment and look back through my extensive photo collection of him.  I remember the days when our doctors weren’t even sure we could have a child and somehow that small piece of knowledge calms my frustration. I do have a child. In fact, I have a second kicking away in my belly now.  So a torn up piece of paper I needed to keep or a mountain of DVDs from the cabinet don’t really seem all that major.  Spilled food can be wiped away, a hug can make my son’s whole day brighter.

A moment of snuggles.

It’s easy to forget that little moments are the ones we’ll remember years from now.  Maybe in the heat of the moment when you’re scrubbing crayon off the floor for the tenth time you don’t find it funny. Give it a week or two and you’ll laugh.  Or the day that you spent half an hour folding a mountain of laundry to find it all strewn about the floor when you turned your back for five minutes.  Your little one was probably only ‘learning’ to fold himself.  He was helping and that means you’ve taught him to care for others.  Enjoy the little moments.  They have a big impact on how your child sees the world.

Make Your Own Cloth Baby Wipes and Washcloths

Making your own cloth wipes is a fairly simple sewing project that can save you some money.  Cloth wipes are a great addition to any cloth diaper stash, but they also work great for babies with sensitive bottoms.  You can use them as a washcloth, for quick clean ups after meals, and even to wipe runny noses.  They are much gentler on the skin than their paper, disposable counterparts.

Materials
Virtually any absorbent cotton/cotton blend material will work.  You can use brand new materials or recycle those you find around your house or local thrift store.  Here are some of our favorites.
-Flannel
-Interlock Cotton
-Jersey Cotton
-Terry Cloth

Cloth Wipes - Dogs in Cars (4)You can make your wipes out of one layer or two.  We prefer two.  You can also use your cute cotton print fabrics when using two. Just pick an absorbent layer for one side, and a cute print for the other.  Our personal stash also includes some fleece and minky wipes.  Fleece and minky are water-resistant so it can make wetting these wipes more challenging.  However, these two materials are soft and they tend to grip poop very well making for easy cleanups.

Items that can be found around your home or thrift store that work well:
-Receiving blankets
-T-shirts
-Sheets
-Towels and washcloths
-Old Pajamas
-Fleece Blankets

Cloth Wipes - Flower PowerSewing
After you’ve picked out your materials, you’ll need to cut them into the appropriate size rectangle or square.  The best thing about making them yourself is that you can choose a size that works for you – we have multiple sizes that we use in our own house.  I’ve found that a 6″X7″ wipe tends to work best for us, but feel free to experiment to find what works for you.

Right sides facing out.

Right sides facing out.

Once you have your pieces cut(use scissors or a rotary cutter, whatever you have on hand), pair your two pieces together with right sides facing out and pin them.  You have several options on what type of stitch you can do based on what your machine offers.

If you have a basic machine set your sewing machine on your regular zigzag stitch.  You want the zigzag to be a ‘tight’ one with the zigs and zags close together (short length), but fairly wide so that you have a good ‘grip’ on the fabric.  You might want to test your stitch size on a scrap piece of fabric to find the width that you like best.

10FaceScrubbies copy

Zig Zag and Mock Serge Stitches

With a basic zigzag, I like to go around the wipe a couple of times.  When placing your wipe under your presser foot, adjust the fabric slightly so that the right hand stitch will drop slightly over the edge (this helps prevent fraying).  The technical term here is an overcast stitch.  Stitch all the way around making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.

Short length, medium or large width

Short length, medium or large width

I upgraded my machine in early 2013 and my new machine has several mock serge stitches to choose from.  The mock serge (on my machine the picture looks like a straight stitch with a zigzag beside it or a straight stitch with slashes beside it) is now my go to for cloth wipes.  I still set the width fairly wide, with the length lower so the stitches are close together. Typically once around and I’m done.

You can also serge your edges if you own a serger.  If you are using a serger, obviously you may only need to do one stitch. I don’t own a serger so we use the zigzag stitch or mock serge and it’s worked just fine for us.

18FaceScrubbies

Overcast stitch

If you prefer a cleaner edge or just don’t like the raw edge look, cut your fabric 1/4″ larger than you want your finished wipe to be on all sides.   Place your two pieces of fabric with right sides facing in and pin them.  Then stitch all the way around, leaving yourself a 1″ space to turn your fabric.  Trim your corners (being careful not to clip your seam) and turn your fabric right side out being sure to press all your corners out.  Then top stitch your wipe to close the turn around spot and give yourself a nice clean edge.

Cloth Wipes - Pink park (5)Caring for your Wipes
I have three different tubs of wipes in my house.  The big tub in the top picture is an old ice cream box.  This is where the majority of our wipes are stored. They’re folded so that they pop up and I cut a hole in the top of the lid to pull them from.  An old disposable wipes box with a pop up lid sits on top of the toilet in the bathroom where my son potty trains.  For my diaper bag, I have one of the disposable wipe boxes that the wet wipes for adults come in.  I fold all of our wipes so they pop up and are easy to use when I need them.

We throw our wipes in with our dirty cloth diapers.  We always preshrink our material to prevent any further shrinking in the wash.  We put our wipes in the dryer, but hanging them on the line now and then can help get rid of stains.

The first few times you wash your wipes you will get some slight fraying along the edges if you have used the raw edge method.  This is completely normal and you can cut away any loose strings with a pair of scissors.  Some materials (like flannel and fleece) also pill. You can get rid of any excessive pilling with a lint shaver.

WipesWipe Solutions
There are a TON of different cloth wipe solutions on the web.  Just do a google search and you’ll find plenty.  At our house, we like to keep it simple.  I put plain tap water with just a small squirt of baby bath wash in a peri-bottle and gently shake to mix.

For travel, I bought one of the tiny travel spray bottles with a lid and I mix up some water and baby wash in this before I leave the house.  I can spritz the wipe or baby’s bottom when we’re out for quick clean ups.

You can wet each wipe as you need it by squirting some of the water on top of your wipes or baby’s bottom.  You can also pour your solution directly over your wipes.  If you do this, make sure you use the wet wipes in 1-2 days or your wipes could smell musky or even mold.  Choose whatever method works best for your house – that’s the beauty in creating your own wipes!