Don’t Put Me in a Box – An Open Letter to Amy Glass

As much as I hate to link back to Amy Glass and give her any more attention than she’s already gotten, there seems to be no other option.  Read her post before you read mine.

Ms. Glass,

You and I clearly have different ideas on different things.  And that’s okay.  But I will say that I find some of your ideas to be exceptionally flawed. [Read more…]

Finding Joy In Unexpected Places

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last few days doing paperwork.  On one hand, I enjoy paperwork because it’s orderly, it has a purpose, and when it’s done, it’s obviously done.  I’m pretty good at finding joy in paperwork based on those reasons alone.

However, when it comes to things related to taxes, I have to work a little harder at finding joy.  Everything has to be just so in order to be correct, and it’s a bit harder to do everything “just so” with little children.  The paperwork that I’ve been up to my eyeballs in are cloth diaper charity related donations.  It’s not so much that the work is hard or miserable so much as I’m focusing very hard on making it all correct.  There’s no joy in perfectionism. [Read more…]

Love Story – How I Met My Husband

Eleven years ago today, my husband and I were married in a scenic park in Prince George, BC.  Since I’m actually from a tiny town in Florida, a frequent question that I’m asked is how I met my husband.  After all, Prince George is a pretty unlikely place for a born and raised southern girl to end up.  Our love story is a pretty unlikely fairy tale. [Read more…]

Train Track Tuesday #3

Since adding to our train track collection, building Norton’s wooden railway layout has become much more time consuming.  Now it’s officially a once (or twice) a week activity.

Here’s this week’s layout:

Train Track Tuesday (Motherhood Looms)

Since we don’t actually really watch any of the train shows, Norton doesn’t require that we have any brand loyalty.  That means that we have a variety of Chuggington and Thomas stuff.  This layout features the Chuggington Deluxe Roundhouse, the Chuggington Clock Tower playset, the Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway Echo Tunnel, a no name tunnel, and a no name viaduct bridge.

Train Track Tuesday #2

When it comes to kid toys, I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing more fun (for parents, at least) than wooden track track.  Since we went a little crazy with buying wooden train track for Norton, it’s too big of a job for me to build something every day.  Here’s this week’s train track layout.

Train Track Tuesday #2 (Motherhood Looms)

This wooden train track layout stretches about six feet across.

Wooden Railway Fun

It started at Christmas.  We bought Norton a Melissa and Doug wooden railway set.  It was a small wooden railway set: just a circle with a bland flat engine and a couple of cars that had an elephant and a tiger in them.  We also picked up a Skarloey train from the Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway and a tunnel to go along with it.  That was the beginning of our wooden railway hobby.

We realized that the wooden train track was a great way to go for our family.  Wooden train track is durable: it can easily survive the beating that a preschooler and a young toddler will put it through.  There are unlimited options: you can buy huge track packs or individual pieces.  We also found that loose track pieces were a great reward for Norton.  When we’d catch him doing good, we’d reward him with a new piece of track.

Not to mention the train track was a great bonding experience.  Every day, I’d get up in the morning and I’d build Norton a new track layout.  At the end of the day, I’d take the track down and put it away while he showered.  I’d have it all put away and his room vacuumed before he was finished.  And the husband and I both took great delight in buying new fun bits for Norton’s train set.  The husband once surprised Norton with a viaduct bridge.  For his birthday, we got the Chuggington Wooden Railway Double Decker Wheelhouse.  When we had a successful outing in underwear, Norton and I stopped at the local toy store and got him a Spencer train.

This was the last layout that we did for our daily event:

Wooden Railway Fun (Motherhood Looms)

I’m not sure who had more fun with the new track designs every day.  Me building them or Norton playing with them.  Now, though, the amount of track that we have has gotten to the point of doing a new layout once a week.

Do you play trains with your kids?  What kind of layouts do you like to do?

State of the Union – #30things Day 3

The State of Our Union (Motherhood Looms)

This was a recent gift from my husband. 11 diamonds: A princess cut in the center, and on the sides are two brilliant cuts with small baguettes on each side. And they’re pressure-mounted. How’s that for symbolism? We’ve been together for ten years now…)

Day 3 of 30 Things My Kids Should know About Me challenge is “Describe your relationship with your spouse.” The best way to do that is to deliver what I affectionately call our State of the Union Address.

The State of the Union is going strong. We’ve weathered storms and had our failures of communication. There were times when I thought our Union may fail. However, we always work through them and find that each trial makes the State of the Union that much stronger.

There’s one very simple reason for that: even when we hit a rough spot, that we love each other never changes. If anything, our loves is constantly growing. He’s my soulmate. He’s the one that I’ll always be with.

Maybe the reason that the State of the Union is so strong is because we complement each other. We have a traditional marriage in a lot of ways: I’m a stay at home mom now, but I was a homemaker for a couple of years before we had Norton. I was a homemaker in the beginning of our relationship due to immigration issues, and that was what has always worked best for us.

In spite of the State of the Union being so traditional in a lot of ways, he’s very much my partner in every way. He’s my co-parent. He’s my friend. He’s the first face I see in the morning and the last face I see at night. In short, he’s all that I could ever ask for. I can only hope that our children find that kind of love for themselves.

30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me – Day 1 #30things

Kelly over at A Mother’s Design shared a link called 30 things my kids should know about me.  I thought, hey, it was cool and fun, so why not?

Day 1: List 20 random facts about yourself

Fair enough.

1.) I have naturally curly hair.

2.) Because I was teased about my hair so much as a kid, I will never leave my house without my hair being done.

3.) I am a die hard dog lover.

4.) My puppies sleep with me.

5.) I like a clean house.  A lot.

6.) I particularly enjoy watching Hoarders while I clean.

7.) Watching Hoarders and the knowledge that we’re done having children has made me particularly ruthless about getting rid of things.

8.) I’m fascinated by our ancestry.

9.) I’d much rather wake up early than stay up late.

10.) My favorite flowers are a toss up between roses and gardenias.

11.) Coincidentally enough, none of them grow well where I live now.

12.) When I stop having babies in cloth diapers, it will be a very, very sad day.

13.) At least I have cloth trainers to make the transition slightly less painful.

14.) I’m not pushing the potty training thing so much because I have a whole lot of diapers.

15.) I can happily walk two miles through the woods but will complain about walking two blocks on the sidewalk.

16.) Cats make me wheeze.

17.) So do most perfumes.

18.) And chemical propellents.

19.) And The Body Shop.

20.) Natural fragrances are nice.

21.) I like essential oils and vanilla extract for fragrance.

22.) Lush also makes wonderful bath products that I can breathe in.

23.) I have five diaper bags.

24.) But only one purse.

25.) I haven’t actually carried that purse in many years.

26.) I’m really, really sick of Elmo.

27.) I hope that Norton gets more interested in trains so that we can build awesome train track layouts together in the living room.

28.) I really hope that Eudora wants to play Barbies.

29.) I still have the handmade crocheted Barbie doll dresses that my grandmother made for me.

30.) I’m more soft-hearted than I seem.

Did any of these things surprise you?

Decluttering – The Traditional Post Holiday Purge

Decluttering – The Traditional Post Holiday Purge (image by nkzs @Stock xchange)Every year after Christmas, I look around at the carnage of my house.  Usually, the carnage results from us bringing home the presents after a day at my in-laws’ house and then putting them down when we get home and collapsing.  This year, we had Christmas morning at my house.  That made it even worse.  I do, however, have another post-holiday tradition: decluttering.

That’s actually why I’ve been so quiet for the last half of December: as soon as Christmas was done, I started on the post-holiday decluttering.  I started taking down all of our Christmas decorations on Boxing Day.  I’ve gotten rid of a couch.  I’ve sold off outgrown baby gear.  My Bumbo seat and jumperoo are now being used by other families that had a need for them.  Some of Eudora’s adorable outfits have also been rehomed.  Norton’s excessive quantities of Mega Blocks are also gone (we’re moving into Duplo blocks), and so is our Guitar Hero collection.

I’m not just decluttering my house.  I’ve been decluttering my body, too.  I gained back all of the weight that I lost after having Eudora.  Since I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, I didn’t bother waiting until January 1 to start exercising again.  I’ve been putting my treadmill to use and started meal planning again.  And tomorrow, my first Moving Over the Hump post about my body decluttering journey will go live!

It’s about time that I start getting back into the habit of decluttering and simplifying.  When my home and my body are in better shape than they’ve been, I feel better about myself and am more productive.  I already look around my cleaner, emptier house and feel relieved.

Have you done any decluttering?  What prompted you to clean up?

Christmas Traditions – Our Tacky Tree

Christmas Traditions – Our Tacky Tree

All ornaments are shatter-proof and are made as the season goes on.

It’s amazing how Christmas traditions change when one has small children.  When my husband and I first moved into our house, Andy lived with me and was seven years old.  He was young enough to still believe in Santa Claus, but old enough to not do stupid things with glass ornaments.  My husband went nuts with our tree: it was beautifully done in silver and blue.  He took the time to buy strings of blue lights and strings of white lights, then sit down and swap out bulbs so that the lights were alternating blue and white.

We maintained that beautifully done tree as part of our family Christmas traditions for Norton’s first Christmas.  When Norton joined us, we put up a Super Gate around the tree.  Last year, though, we changed things up.  There was no way that I could jury rig a barrier around the tree.  Norton would just go around it.  Instead, we made ornaments with Norton and only used homemade, child safe, non-toxic stuff to make them.  No glass ornaments, et cetera.

We don’t have a day of decorating the tree together.  Instead, we’ve adjusted our Christmas traditions so that decorating the tree is an ongoing event.  Sure, Daddy hangs the lights and the garland, but the ornaments only can go up as quickly as we make them.  Our tree becomes filled with kid-friendly ornament ideas that I find on Pinterest as the holiday season wears on.

The pro tree

This is what our tree looked like before having little fingers.

Do I miss the beautiful tree that looked like it should have been in a department store?  Sure.  But this is a way to make our Christmas traditions much more kid friendly.

What adjustments did you make to help your Christmas traditions be more kid friendly?