May 31, 2023

Pregnancy Update: Month 8

It's nearly June, I'm hot, and exhausted.  After the warmest weekend so far this year (low 90s), I feel wiped out.
It's a miracle that I'm able to get dishes done and make it through the day.  Add to the mix that I have this funny feeling that this baby is coming early--I'm hoping I'm wrong, as I still have so much to do.  Plus he/she still seems to be in a breech position.  That feeling of a head jammed up into my ribs is not very pleasant, however the baby is moving around and I'm hoping will flip over soon.

I don't remember feeling so uncomfortable this early with Soren--I think it was those last two weeks or so, plus the 10 days he was overdue.  I think it was easier being ripely pregnant in March, rather than May.
Predictably, many things get neglected, like the weeding of our garden.  However the lettuce and radishes have gone crazy loco wild in their growing.  We can't keep up with eating them, even Soren who occasionally will pull one out for a bite.
Thankfully I knew my limits this year, and stuck to herbs, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, peppers and one eggplant.  And they're all growing well so far.

I think once this freaky warm weather dissipates, things will be much better in my world.  The energy is just zapped right out of me, never mind that we haven't installed our air conditioners yet (waiting on our upstairs windows to be replaced next week).  So if you imagine me, this whale of a body, parked on the couch in front of an oscillating fan, you wouldn't be too far off from what life has been like here of late.

Any advice for coping with a summer pregnancy?  I might just have to go to the town pool tonight to cool off with S.

May 30, 2023

Potty Training Success!

After what seems like months of urging, reading stories about the potty, and getting mock-excited about big boy underwear, Soren is finally a champion on the potty!  Woo hoo!

I can't say that I've had much to do with it, other than being patient and believing that when a child is ready, it will happen.  Cajoling didn't seem to work with him in the beginning, though gummy bears certainly do!  I wish he was more of a sticker kind of kid, but he really could care less about them.  Sugar trumps stickers any day.

So far we've had no accidents for over a week, plus we've taken him out a few places, like his gym class and to a local park for quite a few hours without any problems.  I'm so proud and so relieved about this, I mean, who wants 2 children in diapers?  I confess that I dreaded potty training, even since he was a baby.  It just seemed like torture, having to nag and maybe even hang out for hours in the bathroom, trying to get things to click for him.

I know we'll probably experience some regression once the baby arrives, but it's good to know that S is capable of using the toilet now, and is excited about wearing his big boy underwear.  We still use a pull-up at night and during naps, but at least during the daytime he's dry.

While each child is different, I can share some of the things that worked for us.

1. Wait until the child is ready.  I actually started encouraging the potty when he was 2, and it worked occasionally, especially with pooping (it was easier for me to see the signs of that, rather than pee).  But he was definitely not ready (compared to my niece, who was trained at 18 months).  I believe that there is a time frame in each child's mind, and they'll train when they're ready, so why badger them all those moments leading up to that time?

2. Buy and use underwear rather than training diapers (even let your child pick them out).  I let S run around wearing just the undies (much easier to do in warmer weather) and put towels on the couch and chair.  He seemed to pick up being wet much easier in underwear, rather than a training diaper, which still absorbs a lot of the pee.  And underwear are so easy to clean; just buy a lot!  At his age, he tends to just poop once a day, so I'm not so concerned about messes from #2.

3.  Set up a comfortable potty area in your bathroom.  Include a potty or potty seat, and a step stool, especially if using the big toilet. It's easier for them to feel secure if they can place their feet on the ground.  We love these kids built-in toilet seats, from Home Depot, which are in our 2 bathrooms.  The kids' seat hides in the lid and is held there with a magnet.   It will serve us well over the next few years, with both kids.

I really hope I didn't jinx myself by posting about our potty successes--let's hope that it continues!

Any tips for potty training that worked or didn't work for you?

May 27, 2023

Inspired by Rangoli: Working with Chalk and Water

Soren and I spend a lot of time outside, just puttering around the yard and keeping busy with the most ordinary things like mud, rocks and water.  We have quite a stash of sidewalk chalk, and often break that out to use too.

Chris has become quite enamored of a traditional decorative art form from India called Rangoli, that involves chalk, or often, colored stone powder.   Created by women, these decorative designs are made in living areas as well as outside one's house and are believed to be welcoming signs for benevolent deities.  They're also considered good luck.
Somewhat inspired by Rangoli, we've been taking chalk drawing a little more seriously around here, well at least Chris and I.  I shared this artwork he made a few weeks ago.
Out on the back steps, we brought out the chalk and I decided to make some crude decorations of my own
It's funny how I never considered chalk to be something other than a kids' art material, though why not do something a little more decorative with it?

Of course Soren, still in the midst of his all-eraser period of artmaking, enjoyed washing away my designs as quickly as I put them up.
Ah, the beauty of ephemeral art and letting go...
For my son especially, a perfect day is one that includes a bucket of water, a washcloth, and a spray bottle.  Sometimes we even just let him "wash" the car, which surprisingly occupies quite a bit of time. 

So next time you're out with the sidewalk chalk, get down there and start drawing!

May 23, 2023

Nursery Update

We at least got one item off the checklist this weekend.  Nursery moldings painted!
 Our house is still a disaster though.
But at least the whites in the room are more white than dirty.  Next up, the walls.  Piece of cake compared to all the nooks and crannies of the moldings.
I also had some energy and time last night to finally start the quilting of the quilted wall hanging for the nursery.  Progress is a great thing, and a motivator for more progress.  I'm eager to finish it off tonight, if I am not wiped out after dinner time.
Now, I didn't do anything crazy with the quilting, just some straight(ish) lines and eventually some borders around the outside.  This was really all I could handle at the moment--a wall hanging with minimal fancy stitching.
I even used painter's tape as stitching guides, so I could sneak out on having to draw chalk lines all over the quilt top.  So lazy....
While I was sewing last night, I kept thinking "I'm doing this!! I'm quilting!" It was exciting, and a little funny too, that that kept playing over and over in my head.  Such a dork.

I still have many other projects to tackle, like my felt mobile for the nursery, and making a coordinating pillow from the fabrics of the quilt.
Eventually I'd like to do a crib sized quilt, or even a twin, since I do have enough fabric left to do it.  But as usual, time, space and energy need to align to get anything done.

Hope your weekend was productive, or more importantly, relaxing.  Thanks Iz and Jeff for help in scraping and painting those stubborn moldings, and for keeping an eye on S!

May 20, 2023

Weekend Musings

I'm sad to report it's been a pretty difficult week around here, with stomach bugs and a lame cat kicking about.

Soren's been battling a stomach flu, which means comforting him as best as one can (so hard to not really be able to do anything for him) and cleaning up puked-on blankets and sheets.  And of course, rocky nights of sleep for him, with illness dreams that wake him (and me) a few times a night.  I'm just praying that Chris and I don't get it.
Add to the mix, our dear, sweet cat, Oscar, suddenly lost control of his back legs yesterday.  Poor cat was sick 2 weeks ago with some sort of equilibrium/nervous system issue, which left him stumbling about with a head tilt.  So I'm assuming this latest development is related to that, now that he's struggling to pull himself around like his own personal Christina's World.
(sorry to be so snarky, but I couldn't help but think of the reference).  And of course that means more yucky stuff to clean up, and towels to wash, since he can't get to the litter box.
Soren's been reading to Oscar, to make him feel better. It's so sweet!  I have my feeling this might be their last photo together, depending on what the vet says today.  I tear up just thinking of saying goodbye to our sweet kitty.

So far this post has been about the week's end, though my thoughts are now moving to the weekend, which will hopefully be a little better.  We are celebrating my brother's graduation from law school this evening, assuming we all don't lose our cookies throughout the day.  Tomorrow, we're tackling some of the nursery painting with my other brother and his wife, as well as other tasks throughout the house.

And I hope to finally finish up the quilt for the nursery, which technically is more of a wallhanging, but has been good practice for a larger version.  I just couldn't find the time or motivation for a larger one right now, though I still have plenty of fabric.
We have no big plans out, but are hoping to relax more next weekend, with Memorial Day and all.  I hope you have a great weekend, whatever you may be doing!

May 18, 2023

Be Kind

During this last stretch of pregnancy, I'm reminded of how the growing of a baby incites so much kindness in people around me, both friends and strangers.  Holding open doors, checking to see if I need some water, asking after my health, and just generally smiling and being friendly and helpful, in so many little ways.  It's so touching and humbling, and I'm enjoying it.

It's a great reminder to be kind to ourselves, especially as mothers. It's often the time when we feel the most frustrated (and often failing!) as human beings, and it's amazing how hard we are on ourselves about it.  And don't get me started on other people and their opinions of how we're parenting our kids.  The early years of parenthood are not always the time and place to be critical! Believe me, we're hard enough on ourselves about our kids' behavior, eating habits, and educational growth.

I need to remind myself, beyond this pregnancy, to be gentle to Kathleen.  Eat well, think well, smile often, and rest, even without a baby in my belly.

May 14, 2023

Procrastination and Panic

I'm having a rough couple of days here, mostly because I'm a highly organized (bordering on obsessive) person and I'm panicking about all the things I want to get done before this baby arrives.  I mean, check out the sidebar ticker--I have 8 weeks at the most!
Don't let that smile fool you.  Just look at that huge belly--it's almost time! And that wall paper is a little sneak peek at the room.

I'm most worried about getting the nursery together, not because the baby will be sleeping in there necessarily, but because there's no way I'll have time to fix up the nursery once he/she arrives.  Being with two kids alone all day is already freaking out my sense of order and timeliness in getting just the general stuff like meals and laundry done.
I'm trying to rope some family and friends into helping paint the room. It's truly a mess! The walls are all banged up, holey from things I've drilled and hammered into the walls, and the moldings are atrocious and haven't been painted since the previous owners.
And we need a doorknob!  I'm embarrassed to admit that the door has been like this for quite a while, even when Soren was using this room as his nursery.
I generally adore our old house, however there are so many quirks and weird measurements that never add up to "normal" renovations.  Chris was going to replace the crappy doorknob months ago, but didn't realize until after drilling the hole that the door was too thin for a standard knob.  Somehow we'll get that fixed, eventually.
And the crib---well that has to be repositioned to the highest level.  Aaaaghhh! I'm overwhelmed with tasks!  Plus, where in the world have I stashed all the crib sheets?

Thankfully the dresser and wardrobe have arrived; the wardrobe is in pieces all over the room, in the process of being put together.  And the paint is here too, which I'm eager to get on the walls along with the wallpaper.  The paint is from Yolo Colorhouse, which manufactures gorgeous, eco-friendly colors with low VOCs.  I went with Stone .04, a soothing light gray.

I really just want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the last few weeks of this pregnancy.  But of course, the nesting instinct is making me insane, wanting to re-caulk our horrible bathtub, sew burp cloths, finish the mobile I started making, sort and wash baby clothes, and de-gunk the fridge.  There are too many things on my mental to-do list.  What's the most crazy thing that you've done as a result of nesting before your baby?  I'm fighting the urge to scrub the pantry closet and lay down contact paper on the shelves.

I'm sure you're wondering what the hold-up is with getting the nursery together?  Stay tuned--it will be worth the wait, and the surprise.

May 10, 2023

The Best Focaccia

Rather than spend Mother's Day enduring the stress of restaurant eating with a 3 year old (plus wolfing down food and barely tasting it), Chris and I decided to take a picnic lunch to the park down the street from our house.  And what a great idea that was!
It was the perfect day for a picnic, and our lunch was so incredibly delicious, and actually easy to prepare.  I wasn't sure I was up for cooking on Mother's Day, but being in the kitchen is surprisingly relaxing for me, as long as I'm not perpetually dodging little feet and big demands.
I was really up for making some hearty sandwiches, and came across a great recipe for focaccia, the dough for which I made in the bread machine (best bulky, cabinet space-devouring kitchen appliance ev'ah!).

The bread came out perfectly, and is definitely on the weekly request list.  I might just make some more tomorrow, as it is tasty with salad, soup or as a sandwich.
I sliced the focaccia and tucked in sliced tomato, fresh basil, mozzarella, a little mayo and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  We also enjoyed pasta salad, salt and vinegar chips (fave of the Mister), pickles, Orangina, and angel food cake with berries and cream.  Yummy!
So back to the focaccia: here's the recipe, modified from

Bread Machine Focaccia
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated finely)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse sea salt
  1. Place water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, garlic, Parmesan, bread flour and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough cycle; press Start.
  2. Remove dough from bread machine when cycle is complete. Pat dough into either a 9x13 inch baking pan or 12 inch pizza pan. Use your fingers to dimple the dough every inch or so. Brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Cover focaccia with plastic wrap while oven preheats.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Really, really delicious and so little effort to make thanks to the bread machine.  I'm thinking I'd like to stuff it with sauteed red onion and portabello mushrooms next.

May 7, 2023

Happy Mother's Day!

While I've been enjoying a child-free Friday night and Saturday (thanks Gigi and Grandpa!), I miss my little munchkin!
So goes the saga of being a mother--one minute you feel like you're clawing your way out of a pit of whining and defiant behavior and the next minute you're pining away for that sweet little voice and his meltingly-adorable hugs and kisses.

Here's hoping you have a relaxing, reflective Mother's Day filled with plenty of hugs and kisses.
photo from last summer

May 6, 2023

Cheap Friday Fun: Painted Blocks

With our current construction project going on in the garage, there are plenty of scrap pieces of lumber lying about.  What to do with them all?
Well, paint them of course! Not only are we using some of them up, but it's a great way to keep a 3 year-old busy.  You don't even really need paints, in fact we mostly used markers that we painted over with water.   That's actually a really frugal way to paint--just pull out the markers, a paint brush and a cup of water and let the kids have fun.
Now I'm not certain that these wooden blocks will be much good for indoor play, since I didn't sand them or really clean them, but it was just a fun activity for Soren to engage in.
Next time, I'd like to spend some more time preparing the blocks; it would be fun to have a hand-painted block set, created by my son.  I'd rub the outside with beeswax to seal them and make them less likely to splinter during playtime.
These will probably just be kicked about around the garage or backyard.

The best part?  Those few precious minutes spent in the garage "with daddy", actually gave daddy some time to work too.
Happy Friday friends!

May 5, 2023

The Beauty of Bunny Chalk

With the aid of some Easter bunny chalk, Chris made this over the weekend.
It's a lesson in impermanence, in that, like sand mandala artwork, will be washed away by wind, feet and rain.
Soren really got into it, and I'm always pleased when he sees his Dada and I making arts and crafts; I think it sets a great example for the value of art in our home.
In case you're wondering, Chris actually went to art school prior to working in Info Tech.  He's slowly been trying to come to terms with his creativity again, and trying to let go of his desire for perfection.  Perhaps this impermanent sort of art is freeing, in that there's no pressure to be perfect because it will wash away.

What kinds of arts to you practice in front of your children?

May 4, 2023

Baby Month: Packing a Hospital Bag

With the birth of my son 3 years ago, I was eagerly over-prepared and over-packed for my stay in the hospital. Looking back on it, I feel bad for my poor husband, who shlepped not only the unnecessary things that I packed along for labor (like a small CD player that was never used!), but all the floral arrangements, gifts, hospital swag and, well, a 9lb 5oz baby too!

This time around, I'm definitely taking the minimalist route.  I'm tempted to just show up with my insurance card, purse, and a pair of slippers.  Really, what else is needed? :)

Here's what I'll most likely be bringing. I'm making this list a lot for myself too, just so I can go back to my blog to refer to it once I'm closer to my due date.

  • Insurance cards, hospital paperwork
  • Purse (already contains my wallet, hairbands, phone, paper/pen, lip balm, etc.)
  • Slippers
  • Glasses
  • Lightweight robe
  • Nightgown
  • Loose-fitting clothes/sandals to wear home
  • Nursing bra/pads
  • Toiletry items (toothbrush, contact lens solution, etc.)
  • Phone charger
  • Camera/ Flip video camera
  • Onesie/ baby pants
  • Outfit for photos
  • Lightweight swaddle blanket
  • Car seat
Am I missing anything? I'm sure I'll add or subtract to this list once I think about it some more.  And Chris will most likely be coming home at night so he can always bring things I forgot, plus get showered and changed there.  What is the best item that you brought along with you when you went into labor?

May 3, 2023

Reflecting on Motherhood

With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I've been reflecting on what it is to be a mother, especially since I'll be experiencing it for the second time this July.

While motherhood for me has certainly not always been a picnic, it has brought out some of the best qualities in me, and has shown me that I possess lots of strength, endurance and humor, even in the most dire of circumstances, like tantrums, naked diaper-avoidance sprints throughout the house, and food fights.
S and his usual energetic self
In participation with Johnson’s “Treasuring Everyday Joy” campaign, I've compiled a list of things that no one tells you about motherhood.  Despite the humor, they really are things that make me happy about having kids, especially because some of them really do fill you with laughter and joy.
  • Babies will not necessarily sleep wherever you'd like them to.  Usually within mama's arms is their favorite spot, even if you're trying to wash dishes or get dressed.
  • You learn to juggle more things than you'd ever imagine. Try pouring milk while holding a wriggling toddler in one arm, holding a toy in your mouth, and gesturing at the cat to get off the table.  All while your phone is ringing.
  • When it comes to eating, a long hot shower, and sex, most of the time I'd choose the shower.
  • For some children, like my son, there is no toy that will occupy their time more than mommy or daddy.  Believe me, I would have paid 100s of dollars if I found the thing that would entertain him for more than 15 minutes (other than the hole in our attic wall that he loves to chisel at with his toy hammer).
  • Just when you think you've found any predictability about your child (sleeping, eating, pooping), they throw you a curve ball.
  • It really doesn't get easier as they get older; it just is different. Some things are easier, but new issues float to the surface (goodbye diapers, hello potty training!).
  • That you'll have to watch, read, eat and listen to the same things over and over and over and over again.  Let's just say I buried Goodnight Moon and can't stand hearing the song "Blitzkrieg Bop" anymore.
  • You'll find yourself exclusively calling your spouse "Daddy", as if you're one of those creepy old couples calling each other "Mother" and "father"
  • You'll find yourself getting over-the-top excited ("Look! Look!") when you have to stop the car for a train, holiday lights, an off-highway dump truck, or even Elmo. I used to dread when the train crossing made me late for work, though now I've actually done a U-turn so my son could see it.
  • You'll have more conversations about poop with your girlfriends with kids that you seriously ever thought.
Despite these issues, I really wouldn't trade motherhood for anything.  I can't imagine not seeing that sweet face every morning, or smelling that yeasty baby breath or hearing so much laughter in the house.  Motherhood has changed and challenged me for the better, and for that (along with my son), I'm thankful.
My first Mother's Day: tears and all--and not just Soren's
In honor of Mother's Day, Johnson's will donate $1 to the March of Dimes with every “promise” (“like”) made at

Johnson’s will also be hosting a series of photo contests on its Facebook page beginning in May. Selected monthly winners will receive one of a variety of prizes and be eligible for the $25,000 Grand Prize, to be announced in January 2012.

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Johnson’s and received Johnson’s Baby products and a  promotional item and to facilitate my review.
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