Friday, July 31, 2009

Beautiful Curls!

Sadie's curls are getting thicker and thicker. Todays she decided that it was hilarious when I said "Your curls are beautiful." After she laughed uncontrollably for an entire minute I repeated it again and she doubled over laughing. Tonight at dinner the same thing happened (things are seldom funny for an entire day). And when we say "hair" she points to her hair.

So she was understandably upset when she got out of the bath today and looked in the mirror. Her hair was wet! Her curls were gone! She put her hands up and touched her hair. She looked around for her curls. They were gone. Her little lip stuck out and started to tremble. She was not happy. Luckily, Nani fluffed her hair a little and it instantly started to curl. Her lips stopped trembling and she was happy again, instantly.

I guess that means she recognizes her reflection now!

Surviving Mass with a Toddler

Mass used to be easier.

In the beginning Sadie slept through Mass. Occasionally she would wake and want to nurse and I would fumble with the nursing cover until she was happily slurping away. When she got older, but was very definitely still a baby, she would sit on my lap and watch everything that was going on around her with wide eyes. Then something happened. Our chubby, quiet baby transformed into a squirming, wriggly toddler. She wants to talk, laugh, climb, chew (on the pews), and run. Sitting on Daddy or Mommy’s lap for an extended period of time is no longer on her list of favorite things to do. I had hoped that since we were going every single Sunday since she was eight days old, she would just learn to be quiet and it would all happen naturally. I was very naive.

Now we're trying to survive the hour as gracefully as possible (i.e. without any screaming, loud noises that disturb everyone else). I have learned a few things so far (I’m sure I’ll be able to add to this list in the future as what works and what doesn’t work seems to shift each day) about surviving Mass with a toddler. Here’s what we’re trying.

Church Shoes-
The Tactic: I read about this idea on a few different websites and thought that we would give it a try with Sadie. The idea is that you have special dress shoes that your child only wears on special occasions. Because the shoes are only for special occasions, the child learns that they need to be on their best behavior when the shoes are on their feet.

How it Has Worked: I think that Sadie is still little to really understand that it’s serious time when the shoes are on her feet. But I think it’s a good habit to get into and I think it could work later on. So far Sadie spends a good portion of Mass working on getting her Church Shoes off of her little feet. At least it keeps her busy for a while!

Religious Books-
The Tactic: Okay, this one’s pretty clear. I don’t really want to bring a bunch of toys into Mass so that Sadie can play, because I think that she needs to learn early on that it’s a very important time and that something very important is going on. So we limit what we bring to a couple of her religious board books (usually We Go to Mass and either her Mary book or her Guardian Angels book) and a couple other appropriate toys (see next section).

How it Has Worked: Sadie loves her Board Books. We went to Mass this morning and she spent a solid ten minutes sitting on my lap turning the pages of her We Go to Mass Book. She would close it and reopen it and go through the entire thing over and over again. Then she went through it pointing out the priest on every single page. It doesn’t keep her busy for the entire Mass, but it definitely can keep her occupied for a while, and the pictures in the book show match what’s going on in the Church.

Rosary and Veil-
The Tactic: Another straight forward idea for keeping little hands busy at Mass. We bring her rosary, along with the board books and veil and keep them in her bag (she usually wears a hat during Mass, or at least for part of it).

How it Has Worked: When she starts to get fussy I pull them out, one at a time (sometimes I take the books out before Mass and put them next to the hymnals so that she grabs at them instead of the hymnals and missals) and hand them to her. When she was smaller the rosary would keep her busy for quite a long time. These days she’s more taken with her veil. She can almost put it on by herself or she wraps it around her shoulders like a little shawl.

Having Daddy Hold Her-
The Tactic: Paul holds her. I like this tactic the best. Now that he’s holding her more often I actually get to experience a bit more, instead of being on the verge of pulling my hair out the entire time!

How it Has Worked: She doesn’t struggle with him as much as she does with me. It doesn’t usually work for the entire time, but she does tend to sit more quietly when she’s with him. Today I also put her down on the pew next to me. She thought that this was hilariously funny and sat still, with a huge smile on her face, for about two minutes (that’s a long time to sit still when your thirteen months old)… then she started to squeal and tried to climb over the back of the pew to visit with one of our friends who was about five rows back, on the opposite side of the church.

What We Haven’t Tried-
We don’t bring snacks or drinks to Mass. It’s only an hour and I don’t want her to get into the habit of needing, or expecting snacks. Sometimes she does bring a doll (if she’s holding it when we leave the house and then carries it in), but other than that we try to limit toys, because it’s not play-time.

If anyone else has any suggestions of things that have worked for their families or friends, we’re definitely open to new ideas. What works seems to change on a daily basis!

A Hot Busy, Mountain Lion Infested Week

It's busy around here! The bishop is coming on Sunday to our tiny parish, for the first time since our new pastor arrived last August, so there's lots to do. I'm in charge of cleaning the parish hall for July, so we're running in to Mass today (in fifteen minutes) and then going over to make sure the hall is ready for the pot luck dinner that will be held after the Mass. We're keeping our fingers crossed that there's enough food for everybody. There usually is, but the sign up list hardly has any names on it (I can't say anything about that because while I'm planning on making several things I haven't signed up yet either). Everything always seems to work out in the end!

The weather people have continued to string our hopes along, by constantly promising cool (think mid 90s) by the end of the week (each week) and then changing the forecast as each day arrives (we've been in the triple digits for weeks now). We have even brought Sadie's little blow up pool inside (dry) and have discovered that she thinks it's great, even without water (did you know that a blow up pool could be worn as a hat? It's pretty little.).

We've also had a new animal visitor this past week, which is making me more than a little nervous. We have bears, foxes and coyotes, along with tons of deer and jack rabbits where we live. The deer and jack rabbits make it hard to have gardens (but are very cute to watch, Sadie goes to the window and points them out for us) but we manage, with quite a few plant casualties each year. The bears haven't had enough food this year and have been quite aggressive, coming up on the porch to rip down the bird feeder (at my parents and grandparents houses up the way) and even breaking in to one of the neighbors houses to grab a bag of tortilla chips. Usually however, when the bears see people, they take off, so I don't worry much about them. And while I'm sure I'll worry about the coyotes when Sadie is a little bit older, they usually only bother people who have dogs around here. The foxes in the area have been known to be rabid, so we watch out for them, but the main interaction that goes on is when they steal a shoe off the porch, or one of my dad's work gloves off of a chair. We usually find them, dropped a few dozen yards from the house.

Mountain lions, however, are something else entirely. Let me say that I am not a big fan of mountain lions. When we lived in Dunsmuir, a few hours away, a mountain lion killed both of my cats (I was ten, it was devastating!) and attacked our horses several times. I came face to face with one when I was walking to the car after drama practice in high school. We hear quite a few stories every year about lions waiting on people's porches outside of their cat doors and picking off their cats one by one. When these cat owners call fish and game or the sheriff expecting help ("hi, there's a mountain lion on my porch") they are told that mountain lions can only be shot if they are threatening live stock (which is usually raised to be slaughtered... unlike the family cat or dog). Luckily, we have livestock.

I should have known something was up when I was walking earlier this week and found an entire osprey wing. I remember wondering what kind of animal would take out an osprey, then pushing the idea of a cougar aside and hoping that it was a very old bird that had just happened to die and be ripped apart near our home. Unfortunately my grandmother saw a large cat rip a bird out of the sky earlier this week. The strange thing is that the cat was black. My dad saw the same cat earlier this week. And then the news came home with my husband from work that several people have spotted a black mountain lion prowling around the area. Locals thinks that it's because we've had such bad fires for so many years and the lions are actually starting to have darker fur to blend in with the burnt environment. I don't know about that but I do know that I'm not happy about whatever it is killing stuff in our backyard!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Puddy the Tiger

We now know why Sadie insisted on the orange tiger at the zoo yesterday. When we were playing this morning we spent a bunch of time talking about tigers and she would walk over and show me her tiger. Later in the day when I asked her where her tiger was Sadie stood up and walked across the room to the door and pointed at Puddy, our 17 year old orange tabby cat. She picked out the cat doll that reminded her of Puddy!

Today we took another trip to the library, where we picked five board books and to the pool for swimming. We hadn't been to the pool since Sadie's ear infections and she started squealing gleefully when her feet touched the water. It was a good, if still very hot, day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sadie's Trip to the Zoo

We fled from the heat today and after two hours of driving, we were at the coast. It was 107 in Junction City. It was 60 degrees in Eureka! I didn’t realize it until now, but I miss 60 degree weather. I miss comfortably wearing long sleeves. I even miss wearing a coat! We spent time at the beach, went Geocaching, had a great lunch at the Samoa Cookhouse (which is all you can eat) and went to the Zoo! The Zoo was definitely the high point of Sadie’s day, although she was also thrilled about walking on the beach and looking at shells (and kicking her little foot into a puddle of slimy foam, which she then became obsessed with).

At the Zoo we saw monkeys and bears (it’s a pretty small zoo) and pink flamingos. The funniest thing though was a big white turkey that fell in love with Sadie’s stroller (we think that it has probably learned that food tends to fall from strollers) and followed us for about half an hour. We had to watch Sadie because after gently petting the turkey a few times she started to be less gentle. She didn’t seem to realize that the turkey was quite a bit bigger than her, although she definitely had him in weight.

Sadie also showed that she won’t be influenced by Mommy or Daddy when she got to pick a stuffed animal at the Zoo Gift Shop. We picked out three stuffed cats, a bobcat (that I liked the best), a white tiger (that Paul liked the best) and an orange tiger that I put in just for the heck of it. She immediately picked the orange tiger. “Don’t you like this one?” I asked, pointing to the bobcat. “Or this one?” Paul said. Sadie turned her head away and clung to the orange tiger. Until we paid for it. She hasn’t had anything to do with it since then. I think she was only after his tag! We’ve learned that it’s the best part of every single toy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Finding Things to Do on a Hot Day!

The heat wave continues (109 with dry lightening today) so we're having more fun coming up with things to do indoors today. That usually ends up meaning lots of books. Sadie is surprising us every day. This morning she was looking at one of her books with Nani. She pointed at a picture of a girl with her arms in the air and then looked up at Nani to make sure that Nani was looking at the picture. Then she put her arms back up in the air.

Earlier in the week there was also the incident with Grumpa's slippers. He had come in from working outside for the day and he was wearing his slippers (which Sadie loves to untie). He took them off when he sat down on the couch. Sadie scurried over, grabbed the slippers with a grin that said that she definitely thought she was being naughty, then hurried over to her playpen and dropped them into it. Then she turned around to see if she'd gotten any reactions.
We did go out side early this morning and Sadie walked halfway up the drive way and back, but it was already very hot!

Later in the day when she was tired she sat on my lap and we looked at the library board books that we checked out last week. Usually when we get to the last page of the dinosaur book, I ask her which dinosaur is her favorite and she points to one of them. Today she didn't point when I asked her (she was very tired, despite a long early afternoon nap) so I pointed to the pink and blue dinosaur and said that it was my favorite. She usually picks one of three other dinosaurs (out of about ten) and never picks the pink and blue dinosaur. When I asked her again she smiled hugely and then pointed to the pink and blue dinosaur. Then the weather came on the news (she loves watching the weather report) and she pushed down the book so she could see the forecast for the next week. Maybe she's going to be a meteorologist!

When Are You Going Back To Work?

"When are you going back to work?" is a question that most stay at home mom's face, in my experience, on a fairly regular basis. It may be followed by the brilliant comment "because you certainly didn't go to college and get a degree to sit at home and raise kids."

It's true that I wasn't planning on being a stay at home mom when I got my degree in political science. After I graduated I went to work for a non-profit lobby group in Berkeley and was then hired by the CIA's clandestine service (I'll try and write a blog on this sometime, because it was a crazy experience). I had big plans.

And then I met my husband and all the plans that I'd made went out the window. I'd found the love of my life and my vocation. I never moved to D.C. We married and built a little cabin in the middle of no where instead. A year later I was pregnant.

We had always talked about having a big family, but the news that there was a little one on the way was still shocking. Our lives were about to change, even more drastically. There was no question that I would be a stay at home mom. I had been working at our local newspaper as a sports writer. I resigned right before Sadie was born, at the end of baseball season.

The idea that I should go to work, simply so that I can have a career and pay someone else to watch my children, is kind of crazy. What career could possibly be as rewarding as guiding her little, brilliant mind as it grows and develops? How could I possibly trust that job to someone else?

My experience coaching cheerleading at a local school solidified my ideas about homeschooling. The youngest girls on my team were involved in stuff most of the girls I went to college with wouldn't have even talked about, much less done. I didn't want that kind of information thrust on my children at a young age. They'll have more then enough time to grow up when they're at an age when they should be growing up. There's no reason to rush the experience!

Many women have to work to support their families. We've given up the things that we consider luxuries, so that I can raise our children full time.

And so yes, in the end, I did go to school so that someday I could be a mom. I'm rather sure I'll use most of the things that I was taught as my little ones grow to love learning.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wash Clothes and Bath Time: The Coolest Thing in the World

Today Sadie decided that the funniest thing in the world was picking up a wash cloth, putting it into the water in her bath tub and then holding it up in the air and watching the water drip out. Repeating this action over and over again held her attention for a solid ten minutes. I now have a new idea of things we can do inside while the heat wave continues (it was 109 degrees here today). We can go upstairs and play in Nani's bath tub! There are even jets!

Since the ear infection Sadie has also decided that she needs to nurse every half hour or so. That has also been keeping us very busy. I'm ready for her appetite to go back to normal and for her to decide that she likes solid foods again. A twenty-six pound baby cannot survive on milk alone!

That's right, I said it, she's now twenty-six pounds. I knew that there was a reason that I have a hard time holding her for an entire Mass or carrying her around a store when she's feeling small. A while back I found a little book that I had made when I was seven. In it I wrote things like "my name is Cammie" "my favorite color is blue" and "my hair is blonde" (it was when I was little). I also wrote "I am seven years old and thirty three pounds." I think Sadie might catch my seven year old weight by next year. She's definitely "thriving!"

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses....

Earlier this month Sadie was "looking" at Nani's marigolds. If she was able to talk she very well may have told us that while she was looking at them a bunch of them just fell clear off the stems! Before Sadie was looking at them they were alive and well. After a few minutes of looking quite a few had lost their heads!

That's the kind of explanation I've heard toddlers come up with (my mom was a preschool teacher) and I was reminded of these excuses during the first reading this morning at Mass.

Moses comes down the mountain with the tablets and he hears a party. He gets closer and he sees the golden calf. He throws the tablets down and asks Aaron how he could have let this happen. And what is Aaron's response?

The people wanted a God when Moses disappeared up the mountain, so he told them to throw their gold jewelry into the fire. They threw their gold into the fire and out came the calf.

Everyone at Mass chuckled at the words because it's hard to imagine an adult coming up with that sort of an excuse... Aaron is telling Moses that they aren't really responsible for the calf, they just put the gold in (although he does admit that it was evil of them to want to create an idol in the first place) and it popped out.

Yet we live in a world where excuses that are just as ridiculous have become the norm. We hear excuses every day for every sort of behavior. While responsibility, and being responsible for our actions, are still looked on as positive virtues in theory, it often doesn't transfer over into reality.

A woman can make a very grown up choice that results in a pregnancy. And then she can say, quite simply, "I don't want it," and a doctor will murder her own child, tearing it from her womb. She may tell herself that she's not responsible for the life that she's killed, simply because it was her "choice" to have, or not have, a baby. That excuse sounds just as hollow as the "we threw it into the fire and this is what we got out" excuse.

These days our culture makes excuses for nearly every action. Pleasure and instant gratification seem to trump responsibility and obedience to God's will. And in a country where a great many things that are evil are "legal," irresponsible behavior is seen as a God-given right in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In their own way the excuses of our age are just as ridiculous as those that people were making thousand of years ago.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We Need Sleep!

It's official. We have our days and our nights reversed. Sadie is exhausted during the day, but was ready to get up and play last night. She still seems to be getting over being sick and has been extra snuggly. We spent a good portion of the day on the couch, in the air conditioned house, avoiding the heat (today it was 107 here, according to the thermometer) and cuddling. In my defense I haven't slept much in the last 96 hours or so. So it was a pretty lazy day.

I will be glad when it cools down again. We haven't even gone to the pool much lately (before Sadie got sick even) because of the heat. It's simply too hot to be out in the sun and the beautiful new community pool in our town has one definite flaw: no shade whatsoever.

Sadie is getting much more vocal. I've been wondering if she's going to be a late talker (she may still be) because she's so good at expressing herself using her own little made up signs. She can pretty much tell anyone what she wants by pointing and because she's the only little one here, she can usually convince someone to get it. She really doesn't see any need, so far, to say words. However, lately she's been getting in moods where she talks and talks. Her favorite phrase this week, other than the typical "mama mama mama" and "dada dada dada" is "ya ya ya ya ya." She walks around the house saying it at the top of her lungs. I definitely prefer it to "no!" though!

Special Report: Stop the Abortion Mandate! - Catholic Online

Special Report: Stop the Abortion Mandate! - Catholic Online

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Post Pregnancy Weight Loss

I finally did it! Thirteen months after giving birth I am back down to my pre-pregnancy weight! I gained a whooping 42 pounds when I was pregnant with Sadie (did I mention that she was 9 lbs 4 oz and 22 inches long! She is definitely taking after her dad!). I have now lost a whooping 42 lbs! And I learned a thing or two along the way about losing post-baby weight and feeling good. Here is what instantly comes to mind.

-Girdles- I can't remember when I heard that wearing a girdle after pregnancy can help you get your figure back, but I can tell you that it definitely made mobility easier after my c-section. I quickly found that when I was wearing a girdle (or two at the beginning, once I learned how much better it made my stomach muscles feel) the pain was considerably lessened. After looking up once and finding that even that movement takes stomach muscles (and after nearly falling over backwards) I started wearing it all the time, when I was awake and asleep. I don't know if it really did help my muscles contract and heal back in place, which was one of the claims that I saw frequently made once I looked into it, but it made me feel much better.

-Fiber- This may the most important thing I learned about weight loss. I didn't know anything about fiber pre-baby. Post baby, with all the post baby problems that accompany childbirth, I found fiber to be a lifesaver. When I stopped taking fiber supplements I noticed I stopped losing weight. When I started taking them again the weight loss would slowly pick back up. When I told my husband about this he started taking fiber supplements too and he was shocked at the weight her began to lose. My personal favorites at this point are the Fiber One Caramel Granola Bars. I love them!

-Walking- I guess this goes under general exercise, but going on daily walks with the baby (which have currently been put on hold because of the three digit heat) makes me feel better and can help her get a nap in on days when she's insisting that she's absolutely not tired.

-Having a Toddler- I think this may be the greatest contributing factor at pushing me over the edge to lose those last few pounds. I spend so much time trying to get food into Sadie's little mouth that there are usually a few minutes between each bite that I take. Since I'm eating so slowly the food actually gets to my stomach and I'm noticing that I'm completely full after eating a lot less than I used to eat. I do miss being able to eat an entire meal without having to beg Sadie to take a bite though!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is Daddy on the Phone?

I forgot about this Sadie story and I just had to post it before I forget about it.

Today Sadie was playing at her little mini kitchen (which is in the kitchen so that she can play at it while we're in there). Nani had just put her little plastic play phone back in it's place and she said "Sadie, did your phone just ring? Is it Daddy calling you?" Sadie looked at the phone, grabbed it and held it up to her mouth and then started repeating "Dada, Dada, Dada, Dada." As soon as I she saw me looking at her she stopped and put the phone down. She's so funny!

Feeling Better and Flinging Sippy Cups

Sadie is finally doing better today! It started out pretty rough. She had an awful night and was feeling very small this morning (she didn't even want to be put down to play and Sadie is usually a very busy baby). Then she fell asleep. Three hours later she woke up feeling much better. Two hours later she was asleep again for another three hours. Now I'm just hoping she sleeps tonight because she is in an amazing mood and doesn't seem sick at all! Yay! After being up all night she really needed the rest. Hopefully we don't have our days and nights mixed up now.

While we were one our trip to the Bay Sadie seemed to overcome her desire to throw her sippy cup onto the floor. We were in a restaurant and when she put it down on the table Paul made a big deal about how good she was being and told her that she was being a very good girl. After that she spent the meal very proudly flinging her cup onto the table (a bit forcefully). Most of the time it landed right side up. It worked pretty well because she was in a restaurant high chair, which was pushed right up to the table, rather than in a regular high chair, that has it's own tray and sits back from the table.

Now that we are home Sadie still remembers the little lesson that she learned. She still wants to put her cup down on the table. The only problem is, she doesn't want to set it on her tray in front of her. She wants to put it on the big table, which is one the other side of the tray, making it quite a ways away. Sadie has found that if she tosses her cup she can get it onto the table (one way or another). At least she hasn't tried it with any of her straw cups yet, just the sippies.

Universal Health Care

I've been thinking a lot lately about what would happen if President Obama's universal health care bill passes and abortions are funded by tax payer dollars. The idea makes me feel a little bit sick (only a little bit because the idealistic part of me thinks that surely this part of the bill won't pass...). At this point we're not making enough to pay taxes (or at least everything is refunded), but I don't expect that situation to last once my husband finishes school (hopefully, at least). So what are the options going to be for pro-life tax payers who don't want there hard earned dollars going towards the slaughter of unborn children?

Refuse to pay taxes? Leave the country? Do nothing at all?

Leaving the country doesn't seem to be the answer, because if we all leave then the opposition wins and the slaughter continues (although every few weeks I read something so disturbing about something that's happening in our great nation that that idea instantly comes to mind).

Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that we don't see what's going on doesn't work either. Ignoring the fact that we will be paying for murders that take place on a daily basis is simply unacceptable.

Deacon Keith Fournier wrote an interesting article about the upcoming struggle earlier this week.

Deacon Fournier end his article by saying-

"There is an irony to my timing in writing this somber piece. I just yesterday wrote about the misguided fears which too often paralyze so many of us. However, this warning is not an effort to elicit fear but a realistic call to preparation for action. Short of a miracle, which I truly do believe in, we will soon face a time of necessary massive resistance. We who know the truth that every procured abortion takes an innocent human life cannot participate in any new health care plan which includes anti-life procedures under its definition of “health care services”."

We live in a time when the most basic rights are under attack. I am constantly surprised at how far the opposition is willing to take things (supporting partial birth abortion, mandatory lessons on being "accepting" of different "lifestyles" in schools, ect.). We must all speak out and rely on God and his will for each of us as we face a future in which we are expected by our government to continue to tolerate the death of the least protected in our society. It won't be an easy road, but we really have no other choice.

Back on Antibiotics

We went to Redding yesterday for the doctor's appointment and she has a double ear infection yet again. She has also decided that she has had enough of taking medicine of any kind and is going to fight tooth and nail to keep the medicine dropper out of her mouth. This resulted in her antibiotic getting on her clothes, her car seat, my seat and on Paul's clothes. She can be very determined when she sets her mind to something. Luckily, this morning she seems to have softened her stance on medicine and I was able to get her to take baby tylenol. I'm just hoping she got enough of the antibiotic down for it to start working (I think she swallowed more than half).

It isn't working very quickly this time though, and she was up most of last night with a fever. Poor little thing! She has been taking good naps during the mornings these last few days though, because she's so exhausted from being up all night. Hopefully by tonight she'll be feeling well enough that I can write a real blog and post pictures.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Double Ear Infection

We are home from the doctor. Sadie ended up having a double ear infection and is back on antibiotics. She already seems to be feeling better. She is also making up for the time she spent couped up in the car (it's an hour and a half drive each way to the doctor) and the one hour and twenty minute wait at the pharmacy. Hopefully we will get a little sleep tonight so I can think about something other than fevers and crying (and not sleeping!). Maybe, if she crashes early tonight (because she truly should be tired after not sleeping for so long!) I'll have time to write something and exercise my mind.

One Sick Baby

It has been a stressful couple of days. Sadie started to get really fussy the night before last and feel very warm. When I took her temperature it was 103.35. I called the doctor and he said to give her baby tylenol and bring her in in the morning if she was still feeling poorly. The morning came and her temperature was 97 degrees and she was up and running around so I didn't bring her in. Last night however she was sicker than ever (with a temperature of 102.84). So we're off to the doctor right now. I'm guessing that she has another ear infection (I have definitely found that not all breastfed babies are immune to them, Sadie gets one every month almost) although she hasn't been pulling at her ears.

One Sick Little Bunny

Sadie has been one sick little bunny, which is why I haven't had a chance to write these last few days. We're waiting right now for the doctor's office to open (less than five minutes to go) and hopefully we can get an appointment this morning before it gets super hot this afternoon. It looks like it's going to be a long day again. She had a fever of over 103 two nights ago, but yesterday morning it was down to 97 and she was happy and playful. Last night though she felt worse than ever (with a fever of 102) and this morning she is still definitely sick. Poor little thing. Now it's time to call the doctor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Progress on Words in the Middle of a Hot Week

You'll all be happy to know that the heat wave hasn't hit us yet (according to the morning news). It's only supposed to be 103 degrees this afternoon. The real heat wave, which is supposed to drive things up to 110 is set to hit on Friday. Two more days of "cool" weather.

We've really had a lot of time to spend reading with all this time indoors. I may start sounding like an infomercial for the Your Baby Can Read Program, but I have to tell my proud mom of the week story. Yesterday I was getting Sadie ready to go into town for Mass and I asked her where her arm is. She crouched down on the ground and started looking around on the floor. I repeated the word arm several times, thinking that she hadn't understood, but she ignored me and crawled over to a pile of toys. After unearthing a book from one of the toys she looked at the cover (it was the Your Baby Can Read Slider Book) and pointed at the baby's arm. Then she flipped the book open to the first page (where the word arm is next to a picture of a boys arm) and pointed straight to the word "arm." I think it was the first time Paul had seen her actually point out a word and everyone was very excited, including Sadie.

Still, I will be relieved when the heat wave passes (they're predicting nineties by the first week of August) and we can actually go outside and play again. Right now there are too many mosquitoes in the morning and by the time the mosquitoes disappear it's just too hot for a baby to be out toddling around.

I just started reading the Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. So far I really like it (although I wonder if I am going to be completely sold on every single homeschool program that I read about over the course of the next few years). I'm still in the kindergarden through fourth grade section, but it talks about the importance of teaching facts at this age. It says that so much emphasis has been put on creativity in schools these days, to the harm of basic skills that are really necessary for future creativity, like reading and writing. I probably agree with this so strongly because I proof read a lot of papers for quite a few friends in college and I was surprised by the fact that many were barely literate. It was really shocking. The theory for the first few years seems to be to put as much information in front of you child as possible and let them soak it up. If they want to be creative support that endeavor, but make sure to read lots of stories and learn, learn, learn rather than just expressing how they feel. And of course, there will be tons of time to run around and play because I think that's a hugely important part of childhood that has been largely lost with video games and TV taking it's place.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Words, Words and More Words

I had a very proud mom moment this morning. We've been working on learning body parts lately. Sadie's favorite to point out are ears and belly button. Over the last few days she's also been pointing out mouth and arm. This morning she was sitting on the ground and I said "Sadie, where is your arm?" She started looking around on the ground. "Sadie, I said, where is your arm? Your arm?" I repeated the word several times so that I could be sure that she understood. After looking at the ground for a few more moments she dug through a pile of toys and found one of her favorite books (the Your Baby Can Read Slider Book). She looked at the cover for a few seconds and then pointed at the baby on the covers arm. I held my breath as she opened the book to the first page and pointed at the printed word "arm" before looking up at Paul and I expectantly. She lights up when we say "good girl!"

We brought the book to Church this morning and afterwards she looked at it while we were having lunch. Paul noticed while I was fishing through my bag looking for her food that she was repeatedly pointing to the word "eating" which has a picture of a little girl eating a sandwich next to it. I know I'm starting to sound like an infomercial, but I'm starting to think that this program actually works.

Sadie and Her Chapel Veil

Sadie's veil (which was my veil before she claimed it for herself) has become her lovey. When she's upset it instantly calms her. She can sit perfectly still and stare in the mirror when it's on her head. She even wore it in the car for the majority of the four hour drive to the bay area and then took it off and clutched it against her cheek. This morning when she started to fuss during the homily at Mass I pulled the veil from my bag and handed it to her. She tries to put it on her head but she's not quite coordinated enough, so I usually have to help her. This morning she wore it for the last part of Mass without even raising her hand to take it off (after a quick game of peekaboo). When we went up for communion she held perfectly still and smiled the entire time. I think her veil makes her feel special and it seems to help her stay still, for now anyways!

What I Wish I Could Erase

You see them everywhere these days, particularly during summer when clothing practically becomes optional. Tattoos have become commonplace, lots of people have them. I am, unfortunately, one of them. I don't think there's something inherently wrong with getting tattoos, lots of people have them and love them (and hopefully, for their sakes, they keep on loving them).

I just want mine off of my body. I'm more then a little embarrassed by them. I got them during college and I gave most of them quite a bit of thought. I was sure that I would want them forever, that they would always mean something to me and that I would never change my mind. While you can't see most of mine, even in shorts and a tank top (not that I wear shorts or a a tank top in public these days) you can see most of them when I'm in my modest one piece bathing suit.

I almost forget about them most of the time, even when I have Sadie at the pool. And then some eight year old girl comes up to me and says "I love your tattoos, I want to get one of a butterfly when I'm older" (I kid you not, this has actually happened, although I can't remember what the actual tattoo was that she wanted). The first time this happened I froze for a second. Now I've given it more thought and I'm determined to be the poster child for not getting a tattoo. I'm not sure that will dissuade anyone from getting one, but who knows, maybe it will.

And I could always go into how much it hurts to have them removed. At over three hundred dollars a pop I once tried to have just two (the two that are the most obvious, one on my ankle and one on the back of my neck) removed. Getting the tattoos hadn't really hurt all that much. Having them zapped with a giant lazer was considerably less pleasant. And while, after three sessions, they are faded, they are definitely still visible. If I ever miraculously sell one of my books and then (even more miraculously) make a significant amount of money that would be at the top of my list of things I would want to do. Have each and every one removed!

Maybe seeing how much I hate mine will keep them from appealing to Sadie and any other future children that we have. Or maybe it will be much less cool just because Mom has them.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pasta Salad with Tuna and Sweet Corn

With all the traveling we've been doing lately I haven't had a chance to bake anything lately, but I did just get the book First Meals by Annabel Karmel. Sadie is bored with her baby food, so we're trying new recipes and First Meals has recipes grouped by age group. Here's the one we tried today.

Pasta Salad with Tuna and Sweet Corn
Preparation: 7 minutes, Cooking: 12 minutes
Makes: 2 portions
Provides: protein, b vitamins, and vitamins C,D, and E

2 oz pasta twists
3 1/2 oz canned tuna in oil, drained and flaked
1/3 cup canned or cooked frozen sweet corn
3 cherry tomatoes
1 green onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp light olive oil

-Cook the pasta in boiling, lightly salted water, according to the instructions on the package.
-Mix together the ingredients for the dressing.
-Mix the cooked pasta together with the tuna, sweet corn, tomatoes and green onion and toss in the dressing.
-Optional- you can also add avocado to this salad (I didn't this time).

It turned out really well and Sadie ate a bunch of it. She only made one little face at first and I think that might be because it was her first taste of tuna and it was different from the other foods she's had so far. I'll post any other good recipes that I discover as I learn to cook easily chewed toddler food!

A Flash of Bareness

There has been a small naked baby being wrangled into her swimming pool on the front porch these last few days. In her defense, it has been 106 degrees and I have ruled that that is simply too hot to go the fifteen miles into town to go to the pool (which has absolutely no shade). So we have been swimming in the blow up pool on the porch. Tomorrow after Mass and brunch with Diane we'll brave the heat and go to the pool in town again.

The What to Expect in the Toddler Years Book says that soon Sadie should be able to remove one article of clothing. We actually already have that one covered. She is in the 25% of thirteen month olds that can take of her pants. Twice I've come into the room after leaving for just a moment to find her pantless in her playpen. I'm not sure how she does it, because I've never actually seen her in action. I just know that one moment she's wearing pants and the next she's not.

She also said what sounded like "I love you" today. When it was repeated back to her she laughed hysterically. I'm taking that as confirmation that that was actually what she meant to say (wishful mom thinking?).

And we've started a weekly tradition. We discovered today that our library has a board book section. So far Sadie is a bit wary of the books that we checked out (they are clearly not her books, i.e. the books she has memorized) but I think they'll grow on her. Just in time to go back to the library.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We're Home! Again!

After a long day of driving we are finally home! Sadie is playing with Paul, because after a couple of nine o’clock nights she has come to believe that that is her bedtime (it’s not!). The reunion was a lot of fun, but the days were also very long! We got to SMC at 8:30 and we ended up going home after the reunion Mass Saturday night before meeting up again with Danny and Michelle for dinner at our hotel. That meant we finally got back to our room at nine o’clock, making it a 12+ hour day. That’s a long time to be away from hotel or home with only a diaper bag, especially in 97 degree heat.

The reunion committee sent us an email on Thursday claiming that the high for the weekend was supposed to be 82 degrees. As we were walking out the door Grumpa checked on his computer and the forecast was 97. Grumpa’s forecast (unfortunately) turned out to be the right one.

Sadie finally got to meet Rosy, one of my best buddies from college, who was deployed to Iraq about a half a year before Sadie was born. After just under a year and a half deployed she is back it was great to see her! Sadie also got to see both Rosy and Michelle jump in the pool fully clothed. It really was that hot!

Now it’s off to get Sadie ready for bed. Maybe we can get that bedtime back to normal! I'll post some of the numerous pictures that we took tomorrow!

Friday, July 17, 2009

...Why I'm Thankful for My Alma Mater

In an hour and a half we will jump in the car and head south for the weekend. I'm especially excited because this weekend it is supposed to be around 105 degrees here (it was 104 yesterday...yuck...), which means Sadie and I stay inside after 10 o'clock in the morning. While we come up with lots of things to do Sadie still spends a good portion of the afternoon staring wistfully out the window. Thankfully the forecast for this weekend (according the reunion email I just got) said that it's only supposed to be 82 there with a low of 60. We haven't seen a high temperature that low in quite a while, so I'm very excited!

Since I posted yesterday on the things that I dislike about my alma mater, I thought I would post something today before we leave explaining one of the reasons that I am thankful to have picked SMC when they offered me the Presidential Scholarship, nine years ago (which is how a Southern Baptist ended up at a Catholic College after writing an essay on LaSallian morals in my life).

My freshman year in college was fine, but the other three years were pretty rough. I had stopped praying and if you'd asked me I wouldn't have even said that I was a Christian (for a time I would have even said that I was Buddhist). It was definitely a low point in my life and I was struggling with some trauma that I hadn't dealt with from some violence during my teenage years and making all sorts of excuses for myself about why it was okay to act the way that I was acting. A psychiatrist put me on anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, which masked the problem nicely and allowed me to party my way through a couple years. If you'd asked me I might even have said I was happy on any given day.

Looking back I can't believe I fooled myself. While I managed not to cry most of the time, I definitely wasn't happy. But there was one person that was always very kind to me and that memory stood out when I agreed with my then-fiancee, now husband, to convert to Catholicism.

I was the lifeguard at the pool on campus for most of my college career, and the priest that said Mass in the Chapel would come by when he went swimming and talk to me. He would ask how things were and would usually say something about how kind and good I was, at a time when I definitely wasn't feeling kind or good. Maybe he could see that I was falling apart when I couldn't! The words stuck with me and gave me a very positive impression of Catholicism. About five years later I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil service. And this year I wrote him a thank you email telling him about my conversion and thanking him for always being so kind.

So while I am upset when I read about what's going on at various Catholic Colleges and Universities, I am glad that I spent four years at SMC. Who knows if I would have been as open to Catholicism when my husband suggested I convert if I hadn't had the memory of kindness, years earlier, exactly when I most needed it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Teddy's Alive!!!!

Here's a picture of Sadie waiting at the spot that Teddy shows up....

...And Theodore showed up today to steal seeds from the bird seed bag and we're all relieved to see that he wasn't one of the ground squirrel's who got his neck snapped by the fox. Nani was so happy to see him that she took a bowl of blueberries that were getting too ripe and put them on the back porch so that he could steal them. He was bold enough (as usual) to peek in through the window at us.

Tomorrow morning we leave for my five year college reunion. Sadie's isn't going to be excited about another four plus hour car ride, but hopefully she'll nap most of the way. She has had a bit of a head cold and she actually napped for five hours today (three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon). Since she wasn't feeling all that well I didn't want to wake her, but I hope she gets some sleep tonight, since she seems well rested.

Her walking has improved exponentially. She is now walking to get from place to place instead of just walking to practice walking. She still looks delighted most of the time when she's doing it and sometimes she stops halfway across the room to clap for herself (about a quarter of the time the clapping naps her over).

Oh, and I forgot to tell everyone yesterday about our new visitors. Just before the sun went down a mom deer showed up with two tiny fawns that couldn't be more than a couple weeks old. Hopefully they stick around for a while. Tucker and Taylor, our resident deers both have grown quite a bit and have antlers now! It would be nice to have fawns running around!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Baby Can Read (kind of)

We have been reading, reading, reading. There are two things that Sadie wants to do all the time. One is going outside (which is out of the question since the forecast had it at 103 today and 106 tomorrow). The other is reading her books. As you may remember, when Sadie was very small, I got sucked into watching a infomercial during the small hours of the morning after days with only a few short hours of sleep. In three easy, automatic payments, we purchased the Your Baby Can Read program. It took two months to get here (punishment for not paying extra for the expedited processing?) and by the time it arrived I had time to rethink spending so much on something I was pretty sure wouldn't work.

While Sadie refused to even watch the dvd portion of the program in the beginning, much less look at the books, she was hooked after a month. I really didn't think that they would work, and we didn't watch them consistently, but if I needed to get something done I could count on twenty minutes of silence if I put her in the exersaucer or playpen and put on one of the disk.

Lately, Sadie's started pulling out the Your Baby Can Read Board Book and bringing it over so we can look at it. And now I'm beginning to think that there might be something to the program. I showed Sadie the word arm and she touched her arm. When we do ears she touches her ears. The other day when Nani asked where her teeth were she pointed in her mouth. She also pointed out an elephant when I asked her too. But the biggest step I saw was when we were looking at a picture of a little girl reading a book. I asked Sadie to point to the book. Instead of pointing at the picture she pointed to word "book." Since the heat wave doesn't seem to be letting up I guess we'll be reading even more than usual! I wonder what she'll learn next.

P.S. For those of you who were worried about Theodore, we still haven't seen him... Hopefully he'll turn up tomorrow! Poor little guy!

My Baby Can Read (or at least point!)

Sadie's mind really is like a little sponge (today's picture is pretty old, but it shoes her "reading" about six months ago!). If she had her way our time would be divided between reading books (the same dozen books over and over again) and sitting in the little baby pool on the deck. Today we were looking at a book that had a picture of a little girl reading a book. Since Sadie is so into pointing things out for us I asked her to point out the book. Instead of pointing to the book, she pointed to the word "book." She also pointed out the elephant in another picture and when I read the word arm she touched her own arm. When I read the word clap she even started to clap. It's so much fun to see her learning and beginning to understand new things.

I do have to admit that when Sadie was very small I got sucked into an infomercial. I was nursing Sadie up and Nani and Grumpa's house and the TV was on. Dr. Tizner came on and started talking about brain development and babies learning and the next think I knew they were showing a little eighteen month old girl who was reading Charlotte's Web and another who could read the word "hippopotamus" out loud off of a flash card. It was very early in the morning (which was why I was watching an infomercial in the first place) and I was sold (a quick side note: when Sadie was first born Paul was still working three day shifts away from us and I would stay at my parents house because the cabin can be a little scary when your all alone, or at least it used to seem that way). I went online and after being shocked by the price (it is not the $14 they promise on TV) I paid for Your Baby Can Read in three installments.

I was skeptical by the time it finally arrived (about two months later). Sadie was too. It's a set of different supplies that include books, flash cards, more books, dvds and slider cards. I put a dvd in and Sadie look pointedly away and fussed. After about a week she started to watch about five minutes of the 20 minute program. By the end of the month she was hooked and while I don't advocate parking your baby in front of the TV, it was nice to have 20 minutes to run around and get things done (or just sit and knit). I haven't counted on the program to teach Sadie to read, but I do feel that she's learning from it. And she has become obsessed with the books that accompanied the dvds. She goes and gets the board books on her own and tries to slide the flaps to do it by herself.

There are other books that she loves too, and they are much more affordable. She's a big fan of the Begin Smart series. Some of her favorites are Meow, Hello Baby, Baby Plays Pat Pat, Splish Splash and Woof. They're really simple and they have tips on different ways to read them to your baby as she begins to learn.

Our new favorites are Roger Priddy's "My Big Word Books." We picked up My Big Word Book at a yard sale for a dollar and Sadie is hooked. So a few days ago I broke down and ordered a few more of the Big Word Books online. They're just under ten dollars at Walmart and they're half that on Amazon, so it's a pretty good deal. We're waiting for My Big Truck Book (Sadie loves trucks and tractors because she sees Grumpa working on them, My Big Train Book and My Big Animal Book. Hopefully these books are as good as the first. There are also My Big books on dinosaurs, rescue vehicles and all sorts of other things.

I don't know if Sadie will be saying "hippopotamus" in a few months, but I am so excited that she's recognizing and pointing out words. And I'm especially excited that she's excited about reading!

The Ephesians Foot

Ephesians 5:21-27
21 Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ. 22 Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: 23 Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it: 26 That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life: 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any; such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.

My husband and I have had a joke since we went through our engagement counseling a few years ago. It was before I had converted and we went through the Catholic Engaged Encounter that the Church requires and the pre-marriage counseling that the Southern Baptist church that I had grown up in required. The Engaged Encounter didn't talk about Ephesians Chapter 5 and in a way tiptoed around any talk of traditional gender roles. We discussed the importance or prayer and problem solving but my guess is that they didn't want to offend anyone and chase them away from the Church (it was an Engaged Encounter in the SF Bay Area, so they are probably dealing with rather liberal couples, for the most part).

On the other hand, our Baptist counseling was based on Ephesians Chapter 5. I was a little offended at the time. I remember thinking that it was old fashioned. My thinking has definitely changed as we've grown in our marriage, closer to each other and closer to God. We talked in depth about how the husband is the head of the home and how, when there is a disagreement I should explain my opinion completely, but that I should understand that the final call is my husbands and how, if there is going to be peace in our home, I need to accept that completely without bitterness. It was very good advice. After all, we can't both be leading at the same time!

Paul, who is a Cradle Catholic, thought that this was the greatest thing that he had ever heard. He started joking around saying things like "don't make me put down my Ephesians Foot!" And it has kept coming up in that way over the course of the last few years.

He's never actually had to "put down his Ephesians Foot." He claims that he did when we got married (by insisting that we married in the Church) but I don't really think that counts because I agreed right away (I already knew that I was going to convert at that point). This makes me feel very lucky, because it would be easy for him to use his position to get what he wants in every argument (this is one of the man reasons it's so important to marry a good Catholic man! It would be very easy to abuse this sort of power!). Thankfully, we have been on the same page on pretty much every subject spiritually. It may help that our religious interests differ significantly. I'm more focused on the practical expression of religion in marriage and our day to day life and he's more interested in Canon Law and the grand theological ideas that I get a glimpse of when I proof read his graduate school papers. The things we would debate would be so entirely different that it doesn't really come up!

Anyways, it's time to feed the baby her lunch, so I have to run.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Growing Up in the Country

A rather startling sight met our eyes this afternoon when we looked out the window at Nini and Gigi's house.  Children may learn about life and death a bit earlier in rural areas (luckily Sadie had no idea what was going on).  But maybe I should go back a few hours.

Earlier in the day Sadie had just woken up from her nap.  She rolled over and looked out the window.  What met her gaze?  A beat up little ground squirrel named Theodore that hangs around our back porch stealing bird seed.  He actually stares down our cats on a daily basis and today he was staring right into Sadie's face.  He's quite a little character with on torn ear and his cheeks stuffed full of thistle seeds.

Fast forward two hours.  We walk down the driveway in the hundred plus degree weather (it's supposed to be 103 here tomorrow and 106 in Redding) thinking cool thoughts.  Sadie showed Nini and Gigi what a good walker she has become (she actually walked a distance of about ten feet today and she's now walking from place to place as a way of traveling instead of just a cool trick, which is what it was before).  As we were getting ready to go home Nani said "Look, there's a fox outside."  We all went to the door to see the fox, because they usually don't come out during the day unless they are rabid (and we were hoping these weren't rabid).  There were actually two foxes and they looked happy and healthy with their sleek coats and their bushy tails.  

And then we saw what they were doing.  One of them snapped it's mouth and caught a ground squirrel (that we hadn't seen).  Then he shook his head and broke it's neck.  He trotted behind the garden shed, and when he reappeared on the other side he had two squirrel's in his mouth, flopping limply.  A few moments later the other fox trotted after him and they disappeared in the brush.  

We're hoping it's not Theodore.  While he is a bird seed thief he's kind of like a pet.  Nani doesn't even lock up all the bird seed so that he won't go hungry.  He's probably the best fed squirrel in the area during winter!  I'll be keeping my eyes open and hopefully we'll see him tomorrow.  

Post Card Souvenir Story Book

I have a new craft project that I'm working on. I got the idea out of one of the many free parenting magazines that magically started appearing in my mailbox shortly before Sadie was born. Once I finish it I'll take some pictures and post it on here. The idea is to buy post cards while your on vacation (which I did at all the little shops while we were in Plymouth and Boston) and then take a hole punch and punch holes on the left hand side of each one so you can bind them together with a key ring, like a little book.

If your kids are old enough you can have them write what they did each day on the back of the post cards. When you get home you have an instant journal. Since Sadie isn't big enough to write on the back of the post cards I wrote a story myself so that she can look at it when she gets older (and in this case so she knows something about the place that Daddy and her Gramma and Grampa and Aunts and Uncles and cousins are all from).

I worked on ours in the plane (I even drew little pictures) and would have finished it if Sadie was ever the normal type of baby that sleeps when she's in a moving car seat. As she isn't, she woke up (although she did sit very nicely watching the clouds go by outside of the window). Hopefully it will turn out as cute as it sounded in the magazine. I'll post the pictures as soon as I finish it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Odd Couple: Puddy and Sadie

In a typical day a portion of each evening is spent separating Sadie and our seventeen year old geriatric tabby cat Pumpkin (fondly known as Puddy) from each other. Neither seem to realize the danger involved in each interaction. Sadie doesn't have "gentle" down yet and Pumpkin, despite seventeen years of training, has never had a gentle day in her life (her motto is "bite or scratch now, ask questions later"). The other day I documented an encounter. No blood was shed during this meeting of the minds, although there was some biting.

Here, for once in Sadie's short life, Pumpkin is doing the right thing and walking away. It looks like things might turn out alright after all. But then for some reason she turns. I hold my breath and try not to hover. After all, Grumpa is right there...

Puddy walks over and sniffs the baby. Sadie holds perfectly still. Maybe this time she senses danger, however if she does it certainly doesn't show in the delight on her little face. Instead she beams at the cat... right up until the moment that Puddy bites her... not hard but still...
After nipping Sadie's hand Pumpkin feels that it would be prudent to move on. Sadie however has other ideas and goes flying after her, adoration showing in her expression. They are such an odd little pair!

Another Note: While I was in the other room writing this I heard cheering. When I came in Nani and Grumpa said that Sadie has been walking all over the room. She also took ten steps to me after playing in her kitchen today. I wonder how long it will be before she really replaces her crawling with walking.

My Favorite Appetizer Recipe

I had to share one of my favorite recipes with you. It's from the Mountain Treasures Cookbook, which is a cookbook that was put out by some of the ladies in our town a few years ago. This particular recipe is by Kathy Fox.

2 (6.5 oz) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained/chopped
1 (8 oz) package Neufchatel cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine ingredients in a shallow 1 quart baking dish and stir well. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Serve with bread/crackers.

I love this recipe and make it whenever we go someplace where we're bringing food, or for get togethers at my parents house. I usually add a tsp of crushed garlic too, because I love garlic, but it is delicious either way. You can also substitute regular mayo with lite. It isn't the flashiest dish and when I've taken it to pot lucks it will usually just sit there for a bit until one person tries it and then it usually disappears in about fifteen minutes!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

So Many Words

We are pointing, pointing, pointing. Some babies wave. Not us. We point. Because of this skill Sadie's able to tell us a lot about the different words that she understands. The game of the day was having Mommy or Nani say a word and then pointing out what it was. Here are the words we know so far.

1) Mommy
2) Daddy
3) Nani
4) Grumpa
5) Horse
6) Tractor
7) Kitty
8) Abby (her baby doll)
9) Hat (the stained beanie cap that she stole from me)
10) Flower
11) Ball (she realized today that the picture in the book was the same ball as her beach ball)
12) Neko (the name of her other Kitty)
13) Lion (her push cart lion)
14) Cow (the neck rest that looks like a cow that we picked up in Houston)
15) Truck
16) Book
17) Teeth
18) Ears
19) Hair

Words that she pretends not to understand
1) No
2) Time Out
3) Nose (I don't know why this is, but whenever I try to point out her nose she looks disinterested)

And her new, favorite word to say

1) "ine" (which is apparently "mine")

I think she is officially a toddler!

Home Sweet Home: Welcome to the Cabin

As I promised yesterday, today's post is on the cabin. My father and husband built it (and hopes that someday it will be a tack room for my dad's stuff) but for now it is our home. It is 10 x 15 feet and it sits on cement blocks. We bought our bed before the cabin was built, after we got married, with the hope that we would have a apartment to put it in before too long and knowing that we'd need a bed someday (the air mattress we were on in those days was horrible on our backs!). Lots of plans have changed since then and it now takes up most of the space in the cabin. The crib at the end of the bed, which our daughter steadily refuses to sleep in, but likes to play in, takes up almost all the rest of the space.

It's very cozy with all three of us, but it's hard to imagine us anyplace else now. I put a lot of time into decorating it with pictures from our wedding and pictures of our families. The biggest decorations though, came when one of the churches in the area closed down. It was a small church out in the middle of nowhere and our county would send a priest out there once a month. The church sold the land this year and at one of the daily masses they brought in a bunch of paintings that they needed to get rid of because our church is already full of stuff. I went over to work in the office while my husband was looking at them and told him he could pick out whatever he wanted. I was very surprised when he showed up with a giant painting of the Last Supper, along with some smaller paintings he thought we could use. I was a bit skeptical as to how it would look at first.... now I can't imagine it any other way. Our house is like a little chapel.

If I could change one thing I would add a bathroom. But if we had added a bathroom we would have had to add a septic tank and that would have been much too expensive! It's hard to see in the pictures but we did pick up a wash basin (below the blue baby pictures next to the book shelf) that we can use if we need it. Usually we just borrow the bathroom at my parents house when we need one.

The best part of the cabin has to be the garden. When we first moved back to the country I planted a garden. The first year it was small. The second year it was so big that I was able to supply our church's soup kitchen with vegetables and stuff still ended up going bad (that's what happens when you plant an entire bag of tomatoes from seed and they all live). Last year I was so pregnant I couldn't bend over to plant anything and then the fires hit and nothing grew in the gardens that were planted because there was so much smoke (we were evacuated for a while). This year the garden is small, in raised beds. I can't wait to teach Sadie about gardening and help her grow her own plants as she gets older.

I know that many families think that they should wait to have kids for financial reasons, or that the mother should work so that they can live a certain lifestyle. While this may be true in many cases I think that often times people don't realize how little they can survive (and thrive) on. It's nice to have nice things, but the family should come first and I definitely think that time is the most important gift (after love) that I can give my family.

And I wonder if I will someday look back on our little cabin and reminisce about how simple our lives were when we lived in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sadie the Sponge

Sadie took a few more steps today! She seems to think of it as something fun to do rather than a mode of transportation. But she is getting steadier and steadier every day. She's also more willing to walk around outside holding my hand. We walked all the way down the driveway to the loop part of our dirt road and then about ten minutes later we walked all the way from Nani and Grumpa's house to Nini and Gigi's house.

Sadie is soaking up everything around her like a little sponge. She spent some time examining the gravel in the driveway and then, when I was working in the garden she dug in the wood chips on the path. She's very dainty, even when she's digging. She would pick up a handful or wood chips, move them and then shake her hand. When the wood chips wouldn't come off she would wait for me to brush them off. She wouldn't pick up another handful until her little hand was clean.

We also went to the pool today and Sadie was thrilled to be back in the water. She squealed as soon as her feet touched it and then giggled hysterically as I pulled her around. We were the only people there, so Sadie had the entire pool to herself, although I think she prefers having a bunch of kids around to watch.

She and Pumpkin are also having more and more close calls. The cat hasn't seemed to realize that the baby is much faster than she used to be (and just as grabby as ever) and Sadie hasn't realized that Pumpkin has sharp claws and a short temper. This can't end well!

Catholic Books for Little Hands

I've been searching since I found out I was pregnant for the best books to help instill a love of reading in Sadie at a young age. She's at a picky age and while she loves books (we went through a phase where she loved to throw books and I'm glad that's over), which books she loves changes on a day to day basis.

I particularly wanted to find Catholic children's books and was rather disappointed when I would order some that were advertised for young children (i.e. preschoolers) that were more appropriate for tweens. However, I finally found a line of books that are perfect for little kids and I love them. They are the St. Joseph Carry-Me-Along Board Books by George Brundage. Sadie's favorite is We Go To Mass. For a while we were keeping it in the car and we would end up reading it three or four times on the fifteen minute drive from our house into town. She's also a big fan of Our Blessed Mother and Our Guardian Angels although we haven't read them nearly as much. I think that the next time I place an order at EWTN it will be for Our Friends the Saints, which looks just as good as the others. It may be a while though. Our house is starting to look like a library and there really isn't any room for anything new to come in.

That brings me to tomorrow's blog (I hope!). I don't know if I put this in my first post, but we've been on a tight budget since last July (08) when my husband left his last job (which is a long story), effectively cutting our budget by about 75% (and it really was just above the poverty line to begin with!). We currently live in a cabin that is 10 x 15 feet. I love the cabin. I just wish it had running water. The last year has taught me just how much we don't need. So tomorrow I'm going to do a post on our little home. If I can be creative enough maybe I can start a weekly post on how much you can do on very little. It's actually a lot more fun than I thought.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Busy Day

Sadie, who has not taken a nap since early this morning, is still refusing to go to sleep. She's almost gotten there a few times, but then she seems to snap back to life and is more determined than ever not to close her little, very sleepy, eyes.

We had a very exciting day today. Grumpa was out working on the tractor this morning, so Sadie and I headed out. She practiced walking, holding my hand, down the driveway, stopping every few steps to feel the gravel and dirt and pine needles with her fingers. At least she didn't try to eat any of them though. She did however, try to eat the lavender (I guess it smells good enough to eat).

After we made it down the driveway (after a brief visit with one of the horses who was grazing on the lawn) we headed over to watch Grumpa clean one of the corrals with the tractor. He had a giant rake hooked to the back and was driving forwards and backwards, which Sadie thought was great fun. When he noticed us he drove the tractor over and Sadie rode about ten feet with Grumpa, which was the high point of the day. The tractor's steering wheel has a round blue knob on it and after about three minutes Sadie was brave enough to grab on to it. It took some convincing to get her to let go. After that we did a bit more walking practice, swung on the porch swing, read some books and then headed back inside.

We were going to go to the pool today, but Sadie's morning nap was a little late, and it's best to get to the pool early on Friday's because Friday is a free day and it get very crowded. So hopefully we'll have time to go tomorrow.

School Already?

This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. Sadie finally got to meet her Massachusetts cousins and she had a great time, although we have a lot to learn about sharing. Right now she wants any toy that anyone else has and Bailey (her cousin who has just turned two) did a great job sharing with Sadie.

I've been thinking a lot about how much Sadie is learning and that (along with various comments we've heard) has got me thinking more and more about homeschooling. We decided, long before Sadie was born, that we would homeschool our children.

Like breastfeeding and headcovering, homeschooling seems to be an issue that people are passionate about, even when it doesn't affect them. That's one thing I don't understand. I understand being passionate about these issues if they affect you, but if they don't, if you're not a mother making the choice to breastfeed or a woman deciding to cover her head during Mass or a family who's decided to homeschool, why care so passionately about it?

The socialization argument is the one we're already coming up against and it makes me want to scream. Socialization is the reason we've decided to take this path. I don't want my daughter socialized at an incredibly young age in our secular culture. When did protecting your child from very adult topics become a bad thing?

People automatically assume that we're homeschooling Sadie because I feel I can teach her more on my own. While I do feel that way (I had a 4.0 throughout school and it really wasn't challenging) that's not the reason we've chosen to homeschool. If it was only a matter of getting a good education I would send her to school and then supplement what she did at school at home.

We're still years away from deciding what kind of homeschooling, but I'm learning all I can right now. So far I'm leaning towards a mixture of different methods. I want to use a combination of one of the more traditional Catholic homeschooling programs and the Unschooling method. I'm sure we can come up with something that fosters Sadie's curiosity and love of learning and lets her truly be a child for far longer then she would be if we sent her to school, public or private.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Our Vacation to Massachusetts!

We got home this morning after an amazing trip to visit our family in Plymouth. Sadie got to meet her Massachusetts cousins (she'll get to meet her Texas cousins in November) and her Aunts and Uncles. The week flew by! It felt like we had just arrived and unpacked and suddenly it was time to head back to California.

The trip had so many highlights that it's hard to pick out particular moments. We went to a Red Sox game at Fenway and Sadie actually sat quietly through the first four innings (we headed back to our hotel, which was next to Fenway and watched the rest of the game in our room). We went to a family party at the beach and Sadie got her feet wet in the bay. In Boston Sadie played at the Boston Children's Museum, rode on a carousel and went to the Museum of Fine Arts. And we got our pictures taken at an old time photo place.

Sadie was fascinated by her cousins. She hasn't been around very many people her own size for any extended period of time and while she definitely doesn't have the sharing concept down she loves watching other kids play (and trying to take their toys away from them while Mommy runs interference and returns them).

She also started walking while we were on our trip. She's not running around, but she has taken four steps several times (then she throws herself to the ground and starts racing at a crawl sprint).

She was even good on the plane. She had a window seat and she looked out the window quietly for long periods of time without making a sound. She was such a good little traveler.

Now I have to go to convince her that it's bedtime. She seems to be a little confused about the time change and now she's thinks she's supposed to be awake all the time!

Flying the Not So Friendly Skies...

This is not the kind of blog that I like to write but I just had to share this because I think mom's with babies should be warned and should definitely think twice before flying Continental.

I am so angry right now! We just got home from a trip and a seat had been purchased for my one year old daughter so I wouldn't have to hold her the entire time, from Boston to Houston and then Houston to Sacramento. We had reserved seats when we booked the tickets, but when we changed days I guess the seat reservation got lost.

However, we arrived at the airport three hours early. On our way there I checked to make sure we were all seated together, but on the way back I was so busy juggling the baby, the stroller and all the bags that I didn't glance at the tickets until we were on the plane. At that point I found that my one year old daughter had been seated several rows away from me. For this leg I begged the man who had the seat to switch with me (I figured who would want to sit by a one year old anyway?) and while the woman he was traveling with was angry (and rude) he agreed to let me have the seat and he took my seat.

We got to Houston two hours before the connecting flight and I went straight up to the desk and asked for help. The woman there said she couldn't help me and passed me along to another person. About eight representatives later I got a number for Continental and called them.

I was told that it was not there responsibility to ensure that I was seated with my daughter and that of course they wouldn't call the passenger in the row with my daughter up to ask them to switch seats, because that would inconvenience the other customer and I couldn't seriously ask them to do that. I explained that she was a baby and still breastfeeding and they apologized but said that it simply wasn't there problem. I was in tears at this point.

I told them that I would never fly Continental again. When we got on the flight I stood next to my baby until the passenger whose seat I was in arrived and he agreed to change with me. It was just so much drama for something that seemed like it should be easy! If you buy a ticket with a baby you should be seated with that baby! And at least in my mind that should definitely be part of the airline's responsibility!

If your a mom with a baby I would seriously consider another airline!