Oh where to begin?? Growing up, when I would witness an out-of-line antic from a perfect stranger’s child, I always vowed to myself that ‘my child is NEVER going to act like that’ or ‘my child is NEVER going to get away with that.’ Naively believing that all it took to create a perfectly behaved, well-mannered, respectful little person was a mantra of ‘thou shalt NEVER be a brat,’ a steadfast belief in manners and respect and a willingness to see it through. I was wrong. Really, really wrong.
Perhaps it was because my mom always touted that I was a ‘good kid’ and that she never ‘had issues’ with me, that I just assumed my children would act the same. I was raised in household where no one ever yelled, carried on, made a scene, we all just acted ‘normal’ we knew what was expected of us, we followed our parents’ example and we were good. No questions asked. Sure there was the occasional misbehavior, but all it took was a sideways look of disappointment from my mom or dad and we were back on the straight and narrow. It never even crossed my mind that I could propagate a child who was defiant, threw Oscar worthy temper tantrums, didn’t care a licked-y-split about my threats, and even, yes even, mocked my attempts at parenting… – after all, defiance is just a reflection of bad parenting right!?
I should have known there was a potential for mischief when my in-laws would tell me stories of how my husband would throw fits when he was a child – but then came that mantra, creeping in once again ‘well, my child would NEVER do that…’
And, it only took a few months after my daughter was born for me to realize that I was going to ‘eat crow’ for all of those ‘my child would NEVER’ statements I uttered under my breath all of those years. My daughter is the most passionate, fun loving, free spirit you might ever meet – she sees the world as her playground and thinks everyone around her feels the same. She’s never met a stranger and is always admired by others for her outgoingness, honesty, sincerity and unending energy. Her independence and ‘I can do it!’ attitude has left the parenting side of me baffled. But, like all of us, her greatest strengths are also, at times, her biggest weaknesses.
My biggest struggle with her is to teach her social etiquette – like, not everyone in Costco wants to know that you are wearing Dora underwear, or that 99.9% of new moms and dads don’t want you to caress their newborn baby and sing it lullabys, or that when I tell you that you can’t have something in a store, it’s not OK to go up to a prefect stranger and ask them to buy you that something instead…and then when the stranger stands there with a stunned look on their face, plead with them and tell them why you think you deserve said thing. Granted these all sound innocent and endearing, but not everyone in the general public is amused by her personality (nor should they be). And it’s when I try to re-direct her from a situation like the ones mentioned above that the little ugly monster rears it’s head….’No! Mom, I am talking to my new friend!’ is a popular response. Or, ‘I told you, I am talking mom.’ Or, my all time favorite ‘Leave me alone, you are not my friend anymore!’ Which then, usually results in me giving her a stern warning to move-along, which then results in another ‘no!’ which then leads to me picking her up, flailing and screaming (because I have tried the ‘ok bye then, I’m leaving’ walkaway approach and she would be more than happy to watch me get in my car and drive away for good while she carried on with her new found best friend…) And then, whomever she is talking to gives me the dreaded ‘my child would NEVER get away with that’ look of disapproval…my heart starts pumping, I have flashbacks of my own judgments, and I end up reprimanding my daughter for something that I have no idea how to explain to her… you can’t be nice to people???
I have tried EVERY approach and nothing seems to work – I realize that my fear of being labeled as a ‘push-over parent’ (after all that’s what I thought of parents whose kids acted out) has pretty much caused me to be the other extreme – an overbearing parent. I struggle daily with the fact that I don’t want to suffocate the extravert in her, but more importantly that I don’t want my fear of ‘being a bad parent’ to cloud my judgment on what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Maybe I should stop caring about whether others are bothered by her boisterousness. Maybe I need to let her learn through her own experiences what is socially acceptable and what is not – she surely isn’t taking cues from me, the introverted, elusive observer. After all, the worse thing that could happen is that she could ‘kill a stranger with kindness.’ But all of that is easier said than done…as an old high school friend would say 'relax. relate. release.'
I was contacted by a customer asking if it would be possible to make a copy of my Sea Glass Baby Quilt. Unfortunately, I did not have any of that material left! But, I was able to scour the internet and find some beautiful Amy Butler fabrics that closely resembled the original quilt. This customer requested a slightly larger size and wanted to keep the pattern and coral trim the same (the best part of the quilt in my opinion!) :) Here are some pictures of the finished product: Sweet Serenity Lap Quilt
This quilt was a fun one to make, and I am going to be sad to see it go!
I have been waging a baby proofing battle with my boys for the last 6 months….but the offence has really amped up its game over the last week. I am on the last page of my defensive playbook. I am desperately out numbered, out energized and out willed. These boys have put my improvisational skills to the ultimate test – my house no longer looks like a home, but a cross between and prison and a yard sale – everything is blocked or barricaded, furniture found in the most unlikely places, as if it were on display. I think my pictures will speak much louder than my words on this matter… (click on each image to read the caption)
And, we have been forced to make the INSANE decision to move the boys to toddler beds because 1. They completely demolished their cribs. Screws stripped of their threads from all of the knocking and banging. Slats holding on by splinters, and springs warped under the constant pounding of feet and bodies… 2. When the cribs died, we moved them to their pack n plays thinking the softer sides might be able to cushion some of the blows – it was only one week into the pack n play set-up that the boys discovered that they could thump their bodies against the walls of the pack n play to scoot them across the room and closer to each other, which then meant that they could start hurling their blankets, sheets, mattresses and pack n play flooring into each other’s bed. This resulted in no sleep, bruised foreheads, scratched noses and, despite it all, a barrel of laughs coming from the boys’ room all evening long. I don’t expect the toddler bed situation to be any more successful than the pack n plays, but at least now, they can run crazy around their room and fall wherever they want in a heap of exhaustion…or maybe, not…
Update: Since drafting this blog entry, we have abandoned the toddler beds – I repeat, abandon the toddler beds! It would take me hours to explain all of the mischief the boys found themselves in during their 48 hours of bedroom bedlam, so I won’t even go there…just trust, it was a bad idea...
Oh, and don’t even ask how the CitiKitty Toilet Training is going…yet another motherhood moment where the fantasy of an idea vastly outweighs the reality of the situation…not that I doubt the CitiKitty works, it’s just that this mom doesn’t have the time or the attention span it requires for the system to succeed. And, I don’t think her highness minds one bit…guess my bathroom harmony fantasy is just going to have to come-on back down to Earth… until I am crazy enough to give it another go...
Kiity : 1 Mom : 0
My very good friend recently contacted me to see if I could make her a series of embellished burp cloths to give as gifts to expecting friends of hers, which I had given to her as a gift after her own daughter was born…did that make any sense what-so-ever??
Anyhow, I actually received a similar burp cloth set from a spouse in my husband’s squadron after my boys were born, and they quickly became one of the most useful baby gifts I received! It wasn’t long after I saw how great these cloths were, that I began saying ‘hey, I could make those!’
I really cannot say enough about how wonderful these cloths are – useful, fashionable, personal, durable and best of all, affordable! Although I would love for you to contact me about making them, they really are so simple to make yourself. Even the most novice sewer can pull it off!
All you need are some cloth diapers (size, quality and texture vary so you might have to do some research to find exactly what you are looking for), some fabric, thread and a sewing machine. I like to use 100% cotton, pre-fold, 4X6X4 ply, cloth diapers. You can find these on Ebay or any online cloth diaper distributor. Or, if you are in a rush and don’t have time to search the internet, Target and Walmart carry Gerber cloth diapers that are lighter weight, but work just as fine!
To assemble, simply cut your fabric slightly larger than the middle panel of the cloth diaper, fold the edges of the fabric in by 1/4¼ to 1/2½ inch. Place the fabric, right side up, on top of the middle panel of the cloth diaper and sew along the edge, all the way around. That’s it!
Here are some pics of the ones I made for my friend – I love the color scheme going on here -- I know these will make great gifts!
I’m sick of them. BUT, I digress. My kids, of course, love them – not so much to play with, but to scatter, toss, throw and hide in every nook and cranny in my house. I have learned not to even bother picking up after the morning toy-flinging fiasco (which happens at 8:15am every morning). I used to pick up every toy and place it back into its appropriate bin, basket or cubby during the kids’ nap only to discover that AS SOON AS those little feet hit the family room carpet, it was a toy tornado all over again… I am now convinced that my boys don’t feel comfortable unless there are mounds of toys on the floor. No matter how hard I try to keep the toys picked up, if the house is ‘too clean’, they will immediately start hurling toys – look around – hurl some more – look around – and once they are comfortably surrounded by mess, they’ll walk away and go on with their business… My daughter on the other hand, has always been pretty indifferent about her toys – she is more about social interactions, and is more into games and imaginative, story-telling type play -- she could go days without touching a single toy and when she does play with them, she has no problem with putting them away.
So, where am I going with this??? I don’t really know. All I do know, is that I am lost in a sea of toys every day and threatening myself (does it really count as a threat if it’s against yourself and it involves something that isn’t yours…) to toss every toy I step-on into the donation bin! Which then brings me to the following question: If I could save just three of my kids’ toys (the ones they play with the most) which ones would they be?
1. Bristle Blocks (my daughter has always loved)
2. The tiny toy cars/trains that came in our GIANT Train table set (the boys’ love)
3. Little Tunes MP3 Player (this thing has been a HUGE hit with all 3 of my kids and is, in my opinion, the must have toy for any parent whose kids enjoy music)
All the rest….are nothing more than thorns in my side…
Which 3 toys does your child play with the most?? Let me know, ‘cause as soon as I drop off this donation bin, you know I will be filling up the house with more, you guessed it, toys. And, I would like to get the ones my kids might actually play with :)
We are now 11 days into our CitiKitty toilet training! We’ve made it 11 days with only one noteworthy incident...which I will address at the end of this entry…
Although Kitty is only supposed to be on level 1 of her training seat, I made the decision to put her on the fast track, a.k.a. ‘mom’s about out of patience, accelerated training program’ – so we made the leap from level zero to level 2 in one week. And although I am ecstatic over the thought of losing the litter box, there are a few things you might want to know about toilet training your cat with CitiKitty before you begin:
1. You will need a strong stomach and a weak sense of smell. Just like toddler toilet training, training a cat will only get messier before it gets cleaner. So, if you thought dealing with all the dirty litter and waste was bad with the box, it’s much worse with the training seat – the seat is very shallow which doesn’t allow a lot of room for the cat to ‘kick’ the litter, therefore it ends up all over the bathroom and toilet…keep a dustbuster or vacuum handy! Along with a yard mask and rubber gloves….I’m telling you it’s pretty bad, but just think of how clean it will be once the training is over – eye on the prize!
2. You will need to buy flushable cat litter. We did not have any on hand when I began the trainer last week, and at that time it didn’t pose a problem (or so I thought...) because there was no hole in the seat for the first week. But now that we have graduated, flushable litter is a must since, again, litter ends up everywhere.
3. Flushable cat litter is not easy to come by. I searched high and low for this stuff: Target, CVS, and the BX (base exchange – kind of like a mini Walmart on our military base) – no luck. Finally, I tried Walmart and found it! They only had one type on hand, it is called Desert Sand.
Now, here’s the low-down on the ‘noteworthy incident.’ As I mentioned above, the CitiKitty trainer requires flushable cat litter. Our cat has become quite accustomed to her Scoop Away (non-flushable) litter – and I should interject here, that Kitty, like most cats out there, is very forthright about her likes and dislikes and will let you know when she doesn’t approve of something…usually by delivering a poignantly-placed hairball to show her displeasure – so when I had the audacity to replace her Scoop Away with Desert Sand, Kitty was sure to object by, get this: Waiting at the top of the stairs for me to come get the boys from their morning nap. Meow like crazy once I got to the top, so that I would follow her to the bathroom with the training seat. Once she led me to the bathroom, she stopped, turned and looked back at me, placed her bottom on the bathroom floor and proceeded to deliver a poignantly placed poop!! Oh boy! I couldn’t (well, yes I could) believe she did that and could only gasp in horror at what had just unfolded right before my eyes…
Kitty’s message was read loud and clear. I decided to add a small amount of her Scoop Away litter to the Desert Sand, which has seemed to satisfy her highness...for now….
CitiKitty Word of Wisdom #1: Put the flushable litter you plan on using during training in your cat’s litter box for at least one week before beginning the toilet training program…
Let’s hope we can make it through the next week of training...eye on the prize!
I finished and shipped the Pachyderm Phever quilt! I am very happy with how it turned out, but the road that led to the finished project was long and winding. This quilt morphed so many times, I lost track! My initial intention was to make a sort of brick pattern, which then turned into a square pattern with a border across each row, which then transformed into squares with individual borders and then a larger border around the entire quilt
I was so happy with how the quilt top came together once all of the blocks had been pieced – but don’t be fooled by the top’s simple design, this quilt had a TON of seams involved and every time you have a seam, you have potential for a quilting mishap.
Feeling awesome about how everything was coming together, I made my quilt sandwich (a phrase used to reference the ‘sandwich’ that’s made when you stack your backing fabric, batting and quilt top) and started to quilt. That’s when disaster struck….about half way through stitching my vertical lines I realized (although I knew it from the very first stitch) that there was no amount of pushing and pulling that was going to save the bunching that was happening at end of EVERY line….as a mom and a wife, I have learned that you have to pick your battles. And, I am also learning that the same concept applies to quilting…and man, was this quilt looking for a fight!! So, after a few exaggerated breaths, a slap of the palm to the forehead and a defeating slump in my shoulders, I decided to throw in the towel and start over…bah!
As hard as it was to admit defeat, I am so glad that I did! The finished product is a MILLION times better than what would have resulted had I stuck to my guns.
… And, that’s why I say sewing is a fluid art….
I love when a plan falls apart! I am so thrilled with how this quilt turned out and am so excited to be sending it to my cousin’s new baby!
We hosted some close family friends for a Memorial Day BBQ at our house. Not only did we have a blast catching up and watching the kids play till their little legs couldn’t carry them anymore, but we FINALLY solved an almost year long mystery: what is that strange fruit growing on the tree in the backyard!?? Answer: (thanks to our google savvy and more patient friends) a Loquat, of course!
Before this tree had fruit, I was positive it was some sort of Magnolia, but that shows you how much I know about trees...
Although they look a little strange, the way they taste is nothing short of amazing! Now, I wasn’t brave enough to bite into one before discovering what the mystery fruit was, but as soon as Google gave me the go ahead to munch away, that is exactly what I did.
A Loquat tastes, in my opinion, very much like a kiwi fruit. Although, they’re much easier to eat than a kiwi – just cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and voila! You’re ready to go! The skin of the Loquat is safe to eat, but it’s a bit tough in comparison to the fruit and doesn’t have any taste. So I would recommend just eating the fruit meat – it will slide right off the skin when you bite in to it…almost like an oyster….hmmm, Loquats on the half shell??
I would imagine, because I have never seen these things before, that they will cost you a pretty penny at the grocery store. But if you ever do come across them – splurge and buy yourself one or two – they’re worth it, I promise! (I even have to stop my daughter, the world's pickiest eater, from over indulging in these little delights!)
Aside from being a mom to three little ‘rugrats’ I am also a mom to two little furballs…my first two ‘children’ if you will. We have a seven year old, Heinz 57, pound rescue dog, named Lady. And, a seven year old, long haired (also pound rescue) cat, named Kitty. Perhaps it is my motherly instinct, or the fact that I am up to my eyeballs in dirty diapers every day, but I have made the CRAZY decision to try to toilet train Kitty….yes, you read that correctly, toilet train.
The cat box duties have fallen on my husband ever since I became pregnant with our daughter 4 years ago. But, having performed that duty for the 3 years prior to becoming pregnant, I know just how horrible of a job it is. And, with the kids getting older, they are going to need to reclaim their bathroom, which now belongs to Kitty and her litter box, for themselves. So, given this, my choices were to either 1. Try to think of a way for the cat and three toddlers to live in perfect bathroom harmony… we can all imagine that toddlers and cat boxes don’t mix…2. Relocate the litter box to our room…um, not going to happen…or 3. Toilet train Kitty and get rid of the litter box all together – ding!
Part of this rationalization process came about as a result of watching this season’s Shark Tank on ABC (great show by the way!). One episode featured a woman who invented CitiKitty -- a toilet training system for your cat, which she GUARANTEED would work on any cat! So, I ordered myself/Kitty one online!
We are currently 6 days into the training and tomorrow, Kitty will graduate to the next training level – I’m so excited for and proud of my little furrball! Kitty took to the new arrangement without incident and was comfortably using the CitiKitty within hours of putting it out. I am a little nervous for the next level though, since it requires making a small hole in the trainer to expose the toilet bowl to the cat….um, don’t cats hate water!?
Isn't this box ridiculous!? That cat on the front makes me laugh. Kitty, making a beeline for the toilet....
(but the video on the website is even better!) :)
I will be sure to keep you updated on our progress, but so far, so good! (I will be amazed if this actually works!!)
I had a bunch of ‘odds and ends’ in the fridge, as we are coming to the end of another grocery cycle, and not a clue what to do or make with them. Then, I remembered I had some stew meat in the freezer! And, in no time I was chopping away – putting together, what I hoped would be, an excellent, off the cuff, beef stew. I’ve only attempted beef stew a handful of times and in those times it always came out bland and totally unexciting (which always confused me because the smells were so delicious!) Anyway, this time, I decided to abandon any sort of recipe and just go with my culinary intuition :) Here’s what I did:
To the Crockpot (set on low for at least 6 hours):
1 chopped onion
2 chopped green peppers
1 chopped bunch of celery
1 can of diced tomatoes with juice
1 can of beef broth
3 beef bouillon cubes
5 swirls around the pot of Worstishire Sauce
3 squeezes of ketchup
A healthy heap of chopped garlic
5 shakes of coarse ground black pepper
3 shakes of dried parsley
2 shakes of dried oregano
1 package of stew meat, browned
*some other ingredients you might have on hand to add: red wine or stout beer (like guinness), chopped green chilies, chopped red peppers or roasted red peppers, mushrooms, green onions*
Add 1 hour before serving:
2 chopped potatoes
1/2 bag baby carrots, cut in half
1 Tbs cornstarch or flour mixed with stew liquid (if you like your stew thicker...I do!)
PS: This is how I cook. And, it is also why I can never share family recipes with anyone…there is no exact recipe per-se just shakes, swirls, handfuls, etc. and then, always some adjusting at the end to get it ‘just right’ -- I think that is why I am a terrible baker… it’s too precise for me and there's no room for adjustments at the end! And, also, perhaps why I don’t use patterns for my quilt making???
The result was flavorful and filling (even more so the second day)! And, although the calendar says it’s summer, California apparently has not received the memo – up until yesterday it has been rainy and in the upper 60s!! So, this dinner definitely hit the mark for us!