Monday, May 31, 2010

Link Love

I will soon be moving my links to a separate page up on the Nav Bar, and wanted to put a call in for links. I love linking to friends and readers and whomever. I think that when I reformatted my blog last time, I lost a few of you, and never got you back.  I'm pretty lazy about updating those things.  So if you want to be added to my list when I change over, shoot me an email or post a comment!  If you're already on my list now, you'll make the move automatically.

Nightmares, Night Terrors, or Night Mystery?

Sawyer went to bed about two hours ago and just woke up crying, "Mommy! Mommy!"  He went right back to sleep when I went in an patted him, but this is such a pattern.  Last night I think we had five wakeups, ranging from crying out for us to actually coming into our room.  Sometimes it was with crying, and sometimes he was just ready to get up for the day.

His sleep has been a mystery to us, kind of the opposite pole from Lincoln, where the mystery is, how does he sleep through the night already??  I do remember Sawyer sleeping 12-13 uninterrupted hours around December, but that must have been a brief weird period, because the majority of the time, he is a frequent waker.  Now he's at least easier to put to sleep and to get back to sleep.  He does not get out of his bed so much when we're putting him to bed or down for a nap and we don't have to work so hard at it.  We used to stay in there with him until he fell asleep, because otherwise he'd cry for hours.  Now we leave him awake and that's okay.

The problem is mostly that he wakes up.  A LOT.  We don't know why, and we don't know that there's anything we can do about it.  We reassure him when he wakes up crying out, and when he wakes up and just comes in our room ready to start the day, we send him back to bed until it's light out.  I really just wish we could find out a why, so we could work on a how to prevent.  The trouble is, I don't know that you can always identify it.  I mean, we've had great comments from people and great advice from friends, but it just seems that this is how he sleeps.  Period.  So we're just doing the best we can, and being thankful that at least we have one easy sleeper (for now).

I do look forward to our kids going to college if only so that we can get a full night's rest.  Somehow I doubt we will until then...

Photo of the Day

Posts to Look Forward to

This week, here are a few posts I plan to write, just to keep you coming back:

-Cloth Diapering with Two
-Lincoln's Birth Story (I finally think I'm that I've forgotten most of it)
-Tuesday Confession
-Thursday Tips (I need more, by the way!  Email me!)
-Somebody's Getting Married!
-What Life Is Like This Week

Memorial Day Is about More Than Just Hot Dogs

If that title led you to believe that this was going to be a post about the specialness of Memorial Day, you're wrong.  It's more because I'm about to post photos of all our backyard Memorial Day fun with no real meat to my post...other than what we ate.  But I do realize today is about more than just a day off from work!  I'm just not blogging about that.  Here are our photos instead.

Rob and Chris, very mature, working adults.  With kids' pool toys.
Me and the Linc.  He didn't love the pool, but did enjoy the hot tub and told us all about it!

Buck, getting eaten by a walrus.  We discovered this thing is definitely NOT for children.  Video later.
Lynn and Linc, who is looking huge!
Saw jumping.  He has really come a long way with swimming this week!  This great floaty vest works wonders.

We also had our next-door neighbors over, but somehow I didn't get any great pictures of them. Sorry to leave you out!  We had a really lovely day.

Game Night!

Rob and I have a hard time getting our schedules together enough for hanging out with others, so it was a real treat Saturday to have my derby friend Carmen Geddit (yes, she has a real name and no, I don't use it) and her boyfriend Jake over for food, beverage, dogs, and games.  Love it.  Here are a few photos.

Lap dogs!

And lap babies...
The game we played was called Pegs and Jokers.  Carmen's friend made it, and maybe made it up. Rob is on call to make one asap!
Rockett loved the baby's frog. :)

My Boys in Yellow

Tex Still Snuggles

It's been a while since Tex made an appearance in photos. Here he is being sweet with Lincoln, who was having a tough time going to sleep after game night.

Rob joined in and was, admittedly, posing.  Doesn't take away from the cuteness. 

Finally, Some Work

We have been having a fun and busy weekend.  More pictures later today!  For now, I just posted an excerpt of my story "Tunnel" under My Work up on my Nav Bar.  I entered it under the Glimmer Train Short-Story Award for New Authors category for May.  There is one day left to enter if you're interested, or if you want to check out other upcoming deadlines for their Short-Story contests.  If you are not familiar with it, Glimmer Train is a literary magazine that publishes quarterly.  Stories from its pages have been chosen for the Pushcart Prize, O.Henry, New Stories from the South, New Stories from the Midwest, and Best American Short Stories anthologies.  It's been easy for me to forget about submitting short stories since I'm so deep in my novel, but I figured this was a good place to start moving again.  Now I simply have to try and forget about it until they announce the winners July 31st.  Always easier said than done...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Found Some!

That's what Sawyer says as he's using our Shark hand-held vacuum.  He loves to vacuum.  Definitely did not inherit that from me!  Well, actually, I love vacuuming with our Shark navigator. They should really pay me for talking them up.  I taught him that you look for dirt in the floor and then suck it up. So he walks around with the vacuum and says, "Found some!"  That's my boy.

Bathtub for Two

I've been talking a lot lately about how much we love our whale tub.  Here, it shows it's use for two boys.  So cute.

Still a Few Spots in the Coupon Class!

If you are interested in the June 5 coupon class, there are still a few spots! Click here for more info and to find out how to sign up. Here is what Kristen (one of the women putting on the class) had to say about saving money, in case you don't think you buy the things that stores give coupons for:

I don't buy just cookies and crackers (what most people think of when they think coupons!). Some things I save money on are toiletries like hair care, deoderant, body wash, feminie hygeine, razors, etc (I can buy them a lot cheaper than at Wal Mart or Costco), paper products and laundry needs (same as toiletries), snacks (pretzels, chips, cheese, sometimes produce), frozen and canned vegetables, diapers and other baby needs (save LOTS on diapers), bread, eggs (yep, coupons for eggs!), deli meat, make up, various bags, tissue, cereal, baking needs....and sometimes crackers and (rarely) cookies ;o)

What couponing does for me is help me save loads of money on certain things so I can spend that money on other things that aren't discounted. Let's say I hit a good deal for Tide or All Laundry Soap and instead of paying $7 or $8, I pay $2 or $3, so I can then buy the Blue Bell ice cream or watermelon that I may not have purchased due to budget constraints. It also helps me stick to a list, plan ahead and save money that I can set aside to use to pay for other things.

I am really hoping this can help me on my grocery budget. I know I've talked about this before, but I LOVE food and cooking and we like to eat lots of veggies and things that tend to run up the bill. So saving in one place will really help me to keep up the quality of the food we want without breaking the bank.

Free Movies!

I just got this great info from someone in my MOPs group: free kids movies all summer at the Edwards Marq*E Houston! I haven't double-checked the info (I can't find it online and abhor using the phone) but here is all the info if you want to call and get details or double check! We will definitely be hitting some of these--Sawyer LOVES movies and in the summer, finding fun indoor activities is a must.

Free Summer Movies at IH-10 & Silber
mamabearhouston, 5/27/2010 7:29 am
Marq*E Stadium 23 & IMAX
7600 Katy Freeway
Houston ,TX 77024

06/08 & 09/2010
Kit Kittredge: American Girl (G)
The Spy Next Door (PG)

06/15 & 16/2010
Charlotte's Web (G)
Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs (PG)

06/22 & 23/2010
Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (G)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (PG)

06/29 & 30/2010
Rugrats In Paris (G)
Astro Boy (PG)

07/06 & 07/2010
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (G)
Alvin And The Chipmunks Squeakquel (PG)

07/13 & 14/2010
Doogal (G)
Aliens In The Attic (PG)

07/20 & 21/2010
Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie (G)
Monsters Vs. Aliens (PG)

07/27 & 28/2010
Tale of Despereaux (G)
Planet 51 (PG)

08/03 & 04/2010
Wallace and Gromit (G)
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (PG)

Photo(s) of the Day

I had to represent funny AND sweet. :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fun Play Day

I have to be honest.  I was a little freaked out about this week.  I was just settling back in from my trip to VA and Sawyer's school had a break.  What to do with my time?!?  It has been a fabulous week, and actually yesterday and today capped off with some planned and unplanned play with neighbors and friends.  Here are a few from our normal play group.

When Rob and I moved here, there was 1 child on our block.  (By child, I mean toddler.)  Now there are EIGHT.  We are rabbits, I tell you.  Lately we've all been trying to take better advantage of our closeness and get our kids together. I love it!  Here are a few from our day today on the block.  Thanks, Sharon, for providing the fun hose thing!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Correction: Expectations + Communication Are Everything

I wrote earlier this week about expectations and how Rob and I were going to meet up and discuss some of ours now that we have two kids.  We had a fabulous dinner at Genghis Grill tonight and went through the list of questions I posted.  Some were really hard to quantify, but in most cases, every answer boiled down to communicating.  I need to communicate my needs to him instead of getting frustrated.  He needs to communicate his needs to me instead of letting them go unsaid.  A lot of times we found that HOW we communicated also made a difference.

For example, he said that he doesn't mind when I give him suggestions when he's taking care of Lincoln since I do spend more time with him.  But it bugs him when I say it like this:  "Lincoln really would like for you to put him down on his side right now."  Yeah, that would bug me too.  But I realized that's how I tend to say things.  Or how I DID say them, since I'm vowing to stop.  Like, now.

Even though we've had a great week already, this conversation helped so much in terms of getting us on the same page and allowing us to talk about the ways that we could do things better, what we hope to see in our family, and our expectations for each other.  I would highly suggest having this kind of conversation before you have kids, and maybe with every new kid, or maybe every month.  Okay, every month might be too often.  Quarterly?

Oh, and this also was great.  For whatever reason, the restaurant comped almost our whole bill instead of just half.  We don't know why and didn't ask!  Check out that total.  Sold!

I Get a Gold Star for This Train Track

I was pretty impressed with myself this afternoon for building this fun track.  Thanks to Mimi and Boppy (Rob's parents) for all the Thomas the Train stuff!  We are all enjoying it.

Photo of the Day

He picked out these accessories himself.  :)

Thursday Tip: The Just After Midnight Edition

This one is again from Stephanie, who gave the great baking soda as hair detoxifier a few weeks ago.  I tried that one and it does really make my hair softer and I feel like it un-gunks my scalp and hair.  Here's another for the shower:

-I use a combination of 1 part apple-cider vinegar and 1 part water as a toner (I put it in a travel-size bottle with a pour-spout top) - it is especially great for body acne and with enough consistent use can fade hyperpigmentation from acne (though probably not actual acne scarring).

I definitely need more helpful tips, so if you have any, please email them my way!

istillhatepickles at gmail dot com

A Future in Lawn Services, Perhaps?

Balding and Tummy Time

I was trying to get a photo of Lincoln's head for the balding report, and he was doing his darndest to look at the camera, which was really cute.  It reminded me that I was talking with my friend Molly last week and she was wondering if her little guy was getting enough tummy time.  She said he got fussy after ten minutes.  Ten minutes is great!  I don't know how or if you Moms are doing tummy time with your little ones, but I definitely think it's a good thing, even if just for a few minutes.  Most of them do not like it at this age, until they're really able to hold up for an extended period or even start scooting around.  Otherwise I think they can get tired, frustrated, and bored that they can't do much or see much.  Linc doesn't do it every day (mostly because unless Saw is asleep, putting him in the floor on his tummy can be kind of a hazard) and when he does, it's somewhere between 5-10 minutes.  Then he starts getting pretty grumpy.  I definitely can see improvement, though, and you can see it in the fact that he's able to look up at me!  And, as you may notice, his hair is done falling out and now is slowly coming back.  Yay!

My Sunshine-y Boy

Last night, after my office hours, I had a rough night.  Saw woke up at 12:16 (he wakes up at pretty much that exact time almost every night) and really didn't fall back asleep until 2ish.  He's easier to get back to bed these days, but just sometimes has a hard time falling back asleep.  Then Lincoln was restless and ended up waking me at 5am instead of 6am to eat.  Which means Mommy is TIRED.  I'm very thankful that Rob got up with Sawyer (after getting up at 5am for his boot camp) so I could at least get a little snooze in, and somehow don't feel like death.

When I finally did get up, Lincoln greeted me with a smile that was just about the happiest thing I've ever seen.  He has the biggest grin, and gets so excited when smiling sometimes that he kicks his feet and waves his arms, like the smile is just working its way through his whole body. I LOVE IT.  This isn't the happiest of happy faces, but it's a great grin.  And look how well he's doing with tummy time!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday Confession (Wednesday Edition)

Yesterday, I stayed in my pajamas until 6:30 pm, at which point I got dressed for derby.  Upon my return from derby, I got back in my pajamas.

I'm kind of proud of this confession.

Email List

So, in the hopes that this novel will one day see the light, I am creating an email list. There will be no spamming or sharing of your email. It's simply a good way for me to be able to contact people that I know might actually be interested in what I'm doing. Of course, if you're here, you'll be reading all about whatever I'm doing, but an email list is a great asset in marketing.  Once there is something to market, that is.

If you want to join, please click here!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Expectations Are EVERYTHING

I'm reading a book about marriage right now called What Did You Expect, which is all about--you guessed it--expectations. I think that this is so key to relationships, whether spouses, friends, roommates, co-workers, whatever. If there is a relationship of some kind, expectations matter.

I remember freshman year of college having to sit through a meeting with my roommate Ginny and our RA where we had to hash out detailed expectations of each other. It was called a roommate contract. While Ginny and I giggled through it, and I think made some really weird rules, it's always stuck with me as a good idea. If you know up front that you plan to get up every morning at 7 and your roommate or spouse wants to get up at 9 and probably wouldn't like you blow-drying your hair in the room, you can avoid conflict. There was a book Rob and I read before we got married called Preparing for Marriage with a HUGE inventory of these kinds of specific questions: who do you expect will change the oil in the car? Who do you expect will take out the trash? Cook dinner? Do the dishes? It's really eye-opening, and really helpful to head off some of these little things that might blow up into big things.

Marriage has been pretty easy for Robbie and I. We honestly are some of the happiest people I know. I don't know if it's because we both avoid conflict, or we deal well with the conflict we do have, or if we're just easy-going and can forgive and move on quickly. But add kids to any marriage and you are adding points of conflict. I wish there was a book called Preparing for Children that might help with some of those expectations. Rob and I decided today that we want to sit down and talk about our expectations in hope that we can be loving each other and our kids better.

Here's what happens when you have kids (the stay-at-home-mom version): Your husband gets home after a long day of work and wants to veg out. You have been with the kids all day and want to veg out. Or this (the both spouses working version): You both get home after a long day of work and both want to veg out. The love passage of 1 Corinthians says love keeps no record of wrongs, and this wasn't super hard for me before kids. Now it's like I could give you a specific number of how many diapers who changed or who got up how many times in the night. I could go on. It's hard.

So, if you are still reading, I'm posting a list I've made in my post-derby and post-refried beans pensiveness of questions to ask that will help with expectations. Rob had the great suggestion to keep it positive and shot down my questions like, "What has really disappointed you lately?" or "What would you like to see your spouse stop doing?" (Have I mentioned that I'm a pessimist?) So these are meant to look forward at what could change, not back at what was hard or hurtful. They're also more geared to us and don't deal with things like diapers and meals specifically, as some thins like that we've already figured out. As I'm reading through them, the wording is horrendous. But you get the point and I'm too tired right now to change them. If you have thoughts of more great questions, please add them in the comments! We'd love all the help we could get.

-What do you hope for when you get home/when your spouse gets home?

-What are your expectations of what your jobs around the house are? (housework)

-What are expectations do you have for your spouse around the house? (housework)

-What do you expect your role to be in the daily care of your kids?

-What do you expect your spouse's role to be in the daily care of your kids?

-How much time "off" would you like to see a week? (this means no work, not hanging with the kids--YOU time. doesn't have to be hours, could be an afternoon or a a nights, etc)

-What are you having the hardest time with right now?

-How could your spouse help you with your struggles?

-How much time should we spend together as a whole family a day/week? What could that time look like? (walks, meals, etc)

-What are one or two things that you feel could really make your life easier or better right now?

A Post for Failures

Have I mentioned my latest blog obsession? It's There Are No Rules by Jane Friedman over at Writers Digest. She is great for linking into the network of writers and publishers and for posing great questions and thoughts. My absolute favorite thing is her weekly Twitter roundup where she links to great blog posts and articles that people tweeted. (A rabbit hole of digital-ness: I read a blog whose author reads tweets which lead to other blogs...) I love finding new blogs and having someone else wade through and give basically a table of contents for things I might enjoy reading.

I was reading through the Twitter roundup today and found a great article from the Huffington Post about some of the changes and odd occurrences in publishing now that there is a larger e-book market. In the article, there was a quote (again, the rabbit hole: a tweet to a link to a link to a quote) from JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. She was rejected a number of times before she got published and went on to do fairly well. Have you heard of her? Here's what she said failure did for her:

...failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.

I think that's pretty encouraging no matter what you're failing in at the moment. I'm currently failing at no fewer than three things. Now to discourage you writers out there, I will say that writers love to hold Rowling up and think that because she got rejected and then famous and rich that this is the norm, not the exception. Publishing is a tough industry where even good writers may (read: will) face rejection, but you may be getting rejected because you actually aren't any good.

This is the reason not to write in a vacuum--share your work with other credible people. Don't be like those tone deaf people who try out for American Idol after their Mom and Pop and girlfriend and other tone deaf friends said they were awesome. We see where that gets them: compared by Simon Cowell to a blender with a shrieking cat inside.

I do believe that directing your energy into what matters is a great philosophy and think that we can let failure direct us and help us determine our course. And I'm also a proponent of stripping down the clutter and trying to succeed at maybe one thing at a time. If you're superwoman, perhaps three. Today I succeeded at keeping my children alive and not burning down my house. That's two things, and I'm rewarding myself by going to skate at Rec League tonight.

Engaged Parenting

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you might have noticed a decrease in the frequency of my posts.  I don't know if there has been a huge difference on here yet, only because I tend to post sporadically anyway:  naptime, after bedtime, or any moment Saw is engaged enough in alone play to let me have a moment.  The reason for the change is that I've moved my computer from the kitchen table (where it's basically in the middle of our main playing and eating area) to the living room, which I have gated off from the kiddos.  Basically that means no easy access when they are up (unless I want them destroying all the non-kid-friendly things I have in there, like the pottery I made in college), which means I am less likely to be online during the normal day hours.

Here's a long story of why.

On the plane back to Texas, I was on a plane with three-seat rows:  two seats on one side and a single on the other.  I was in a single across from a mom with a three-month-old in her lap and a seven-year-old next to her.  Her husband sat in front of her with the two-year-old beside me.  Basically, the husband spent the whole flight playing Sudoku while the Mom tried to feed and soothe the baby (who mostly slept) and keep the older two boys from creating too much of a ruckus.  The two-year-old was causing trouble:  screaming, trying to bite his older brother, jumping up and down in the seat, etc.  Meanwhile Dad is totally oblivious, playing his number game.  Mom was handling a three-ring circus of kids.  I was watching and thinking that it was really sad.

I think that as a parent, it's all too easy to be disengaged:  checking your email while sort of watching your daughter.  Sending a text while your son tries to tell you something.  Watching your favorite TV show while your kids are asking you to play in the floor with them.  I definitely feel like I'm a (mostly) engaged parent.  However, after seeing this little scene on the flight, I thought I would remove my biggest distraction (the internet) from easy access.  What this does is makes it harder for me to be doing my own thing when there are more important tasks at hand.

There are definitely times I need to multitask.  If I don't, the laundry won't get done or the dishwasher emptied or the plants watered.  But housework should come before checking my email or updating my Facebook status.  I've actually started getting Saw to help me with the household stuff as well.  I bought him a mini watering can from Target for 50 cents so he helps me water the plants.  This also offers a great teaching opportunity about how things grow.  He's not great with it, but I let him help me push the laundry into the dryer--mostly he just likes slamming the dryer shut, which is far more annoying than helpful.  Still--getting him involved is a great way for me to engage with him, but also get things done.

As a parent, I don't want to disengage.  That should be on MY time, like this post, which I'm writing during the rare (and I bet brief) moment where both boys are asleep.  So just in case I'm around a little less--I'm likely spending time where it's most needed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

From the Mouth of My Babe

Some fun things Sawyer has been saying lately now that he's into phrases and starting to form sentences:

"Read Jesus?"
-This one comes just before bedtime.  Rob and I have been reading the Bible to him at night before bed, so he now goes to bed asking for us to read Jesus and pray Jesus.  It's cute.

"Bye, ocean!"
-This was today, obviously, at the beach.  After we got back to Houston, he also kept asking for the ocean. He's just like his Momma, a beach freak!

"Wheel of fortune!"
-Three of my favorite words because it's one of my favorite shows. I turned it on for a minute tonight and he immediately recognized it and said this without prompting.

"Check on Lincoln?"
-Another bedtime fave.  He gets upset if we are in his room putting him to bed for too long without going to check on Lincoln, so he'll order us away.  Very sweet!

Oh, and in a funny note today, we were listening to a song today that had Hallelujah in the chorus (because that's one of his favorite things to say) and he got confused and said "Halle-boo-yeah."

Bedroom Population: Plus One, Minus One

The other night, I posted that we were trying Lincoln in the crib.  That was probably our worst night of sleep in a while.  I don't know if it was getting used to a new room or new bed, but he kept waking up needing reassurance (usually losing the pacifier and then rolling his face over on it).  Then Sawyer didn't stay asleep, so it was a long, long night.  Actually, Sawyer has only slept through the night once since I've been home.  Is it me?  Am I the common factor in my kid not sleeping all night?  Ugh.

In any case, we'll adjust a little more slowly to Linc moving into his nursery. I just can't take the low sleep. I guess that's why I slept in every morning in Virginia--I was stocking up and didn't know it.  He's still sleeping really well otherwise, so I can't complain...just wish the switch to crib had been seamless.

Oh, and this post title comes from a song by one of my favorite chicks.  Anyone know??

Dear Texas

You are a great state.  You talk about seceding when things in the country aren't going the way you like, and I think you actually mean it.  You are big into everything, and that includes the good kind of pride, generosity, and friendliness.  You welcomed me here ten years ago like I was an old friend and I just had to stay around.  You are diverse and unique and strange and fun.  You have, hands-down, the best state pride in the country.  I think most people would agree with that, even if they like their state better.

Here's the thing:  could you please clean up your beaches??  I know you can't help the stinky seaweed, since that's a natural thing, but the beer cans and bleach bottles and broken glass all over the sand is another matter altogether.  The litter is pretty inexcusable, and out of character for a state that takes care of its own.  Your state parks are usually phenomenal, so why can't you take care of your beaches?  If they were clean, people might be able to ignore the brown water a little more--we know you can't help that either.  The Mississippi River is to blame for that.  So let's all focus on the things that are manageable, like people's gross disrespect for their surroundings, and your ho-hum attitude toward taking care of your parks and public beaches.

K, thanks.

X Marks the Spot

...on my back where I'm NOT sunburned.  Don't ask me how it happened--I always use sunscreen.  Actually, here's how it happened.  Rob bought SPF 4.  I'm not sure that even counts as sunscreen.  In any case, we loved our beach day, despite the smelly, seaweedy beach (more on that in another post).  Sea Center Texas, the free aquarium in nearby Lake Jackson, was closed Mondays, so that was our biggest disappointment.  Sawyer LOVED the beach and kept asking about the ocean on the way home, and said, "Bye, ocean!" as we left.  Robbie spent the whole time helping him jump waves, burying him in the sand, and carrying him back into the mud flats.  Lincoln didn't have such a good time, only because it was bright, even with a hat in the shade of our new beach umbrella, and because he wanted to sleep and it was hard to get him comfortable on the beach.  We had his whale tub, which I'm loving, and it made a pretty good beach seat for baby.  I hope when he's older, he'll enjoy it as much as Sawyer!

We always have some flying in the air.
Rob and Saw jumping the waves.

My little Linc!
Saw should be running AWAY from the seaweed, not towards it.
My two big boys!!
Linc sleeping.  The seaweed ruins this pic.  Let me just say it--I miss Va, NC, and SC beaches. 
The beach does wonders with my hair. Look! I have bangs!



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