Mama Monday: Things that make life easier

Who doesn't like to save a little bit of time and hassle?  I am still enjoying making Larkyn's purees and we have fun letting her try new things (papaya--the kid loves papaya!) However, sometimes homemade things do no transport as easily, OR you find your selves sitting down to eat at Whole Foods with no baby spoon!  What's a mama to do?

Dash through the aisles to the Whole Baby section, only to find a package of baby flatware that is $9 and made out of corn syrup (therefore, they disintegrate after 10 washes!) Defeated and feeling like an unprepared mom, I turned around and saw these.
Earth's Best 100% Organic baby puree pouches
I've seen kids at school have similar thingymajigs and had no idea why anyone would buy them. NOW without a spoon, I know why! I picked a flavor I thought she'd enjoy (Pear Mango Apple yogurt smoothie) and booked it back to our table. I was afraid she wouldn't know what to do with it, but I stuck it in her mouth, squeezed a little, and she sucked it down!  It was sweeter (no added sugar, though) than her usual food, so she definitely couldn't stomach a whole pouch, but we used it then for the next 24 hours. I mixed it into squash for dinner and into rice cereal for breakfast. We picked up several more today to stick in the diaper bag when needed. Earth's Best pouches are 1.99 and Ella's Kitchen pouches are 1.49, and both are widely available at grocery stores.

So, there is one of the things that makes life easier for me. I finally caved and bought an iPhone today, hoping that some of the apps and tools will simplify life a bit. I'll get back with you on that one!  So what makes your mama life easier?

Foodie Friday: Holiday pumpkin dip

What is it about pumpkin? Is it that it is a seasonal flavor, like chocolate & peppermint, and we anticipate its premiere every year? By now, you know that I enjoy pumpkin, judging from my post last year. This year, I thought I'd give you a recipe to try at your next Fall/Winter event. It is pretty popular at the potlucks we have at school (that's where I got the recipe!) Enjoy...

photo from

Holiday pumpkin dip
recipe from Ann

15 oz. pumpkin
8 oz. softened cream cheese
2 C confectioners (powdered) sugar
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger (I use Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus)

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Fold in pumpkin and add spices. Fold in sugar. Chill and serve
with gingersnaps, graham sticks, Nilla wafers, or apple slices. It is also adorable served in a small, carved-out pumpkin.

Birthday Thursday: Happy 27 weeks!

And happy Halloween!  Well, its Halloween around here because our school parties were today. Yes, parties plural. We had an AM kindergarten party at 11 and a PM party at 3. So, I am exhausted!! However, not too exhausted to share my little visitor. The kids loved meeting her and she always likes to come see them at school.

Not much new this week except for trying some new foods (papaya and yogurt!) and sitting in highchairs. We had a fun lunch at Whole Foods with Daddy and breakfast at Honeydip Donuts with Julie and Daisy, both times trying out the high chair. Her favorite activity is slamming plastic spoons on the table and "makin' it rain" napkins.

Wonder when she will get sick of me matching costumes with her?? College maybe?

Mama Monday: When I can't protect her

When this face is sad, I can't take it. That being said, I am not a believer in shielding my child from everything.  Being a kindergarten teacher, I know that kids need to have a little bit of tough skin to make it through the day. In a given day, their fingers might get stepped on, someone might shove them while getting in line, or they might take an unkind comment or two. Not that I am condoning this behavior, but it is life. But being a mom, I see the other side too. The side of me learning to deal with this...

Yep. Those are the battle scar band-aids of the 6 month checkup (by the way, we are 19 lbs and 26 inches:o) She was so happy, slamming her rattle onto the paper-covered table and squealing at the pretty nurses. Looking at me while I held her down, she probably wondered what was about to happen. Her poor face turned bright red and she had the most painful cry!  Not a whiny cry or a cry about not getting something she wants, but pain. Ugh. It took all I had not to cry with her, but within a minute or so, she was back to normal.

But watching TV this week, there were two poignant moments when I thought, "God, WHY is this on TV?  Why is this OK for me, let alone children, to see?"  Moment number one. A man outside of Columbus (Zanesville, to be exact), loses his mind, lets all of his exotic animals out of their cages to run rampant around suburbia, and then shoots himself. Oh yeah, and 49 of 56 gorgeous, incredible animals are shot and killed in the chaos following his selfish, idiotic act. I know they needed to be and I would not have traded places with any of the deputies that had to make that choice. But, like Jack Hanna said, human life comes first. So, my problem? My problem is that as I am feeding my daughter her bottle, as many of my students are eating their breakfast while mom and dad have the news on, they SHOW the dead animals. Yes, all 50 of them laying dead in a field to be buried. Carnage! And then they show Jack Hanna, whose image never have been associated with the image of slaughtered animals. I can't protect Larkyn from hearing this story, nor do I need to. But I want to protect her from seeing the images that the news thought they should show. Actually, I just tried to find a link to read about the incident in case you are unfamiliar, but they all showed the dead animals as well and I refuse to perpetuate the indecency.

Next moment?  Seriously the most disturbing thing I have ever seen on TV!!  Has anyone seen the video of Moammar Gadhafi being killed?  Let's just get it out there... I'm not a "fan" of his. But to show a person, any person, being dragged through the street completely beaten, begging for his life, and then cutting it the second before he actually gets shot? Crossing the line. And no, I didn't google it. I was watching the nightly news like I do every night and there is was.  I don't ever want my child seeing another person in that situation no matter who the person is. I don't believe in the death penalty and I don't believe she needs to see it unfold. Yes, she will know that it happens and that people get killed, but this crosses the line of portraying real life on TV. Stop trying to sell advertising by showing shocking images on TV.

Anyway, my point?  Becoming a mom hasn't changed my opinion. But it put into motion a delicate balancing act...letting her experience the world and the "ouchies" that go with it while shielding her as much as I can from scary images running rampant through the media. Welcome to motherhood, right?

Birthday Thursday: Happy 26 weeks!

Look how big she has gotten all of a sudden!

This week has brought us some fun new events like spontaneously sitting up in the bathtub and me worrying the whole time about her face-planting into the water or faucet. She is teething hardcore, and actually just finished a crying outburst that was the hardest I have heard her cry since she was BORN. I'm not exaggerating. But, let me say that Orajel Natural is the bomb. I might have already said that.

We are eating 2 meals per day and finding that (like her mama) she is definitely a fan of fruits over veggies. Come to think of it, she hasn't really accepted a green vegetable, other than zucchini that is mixed in with fruit or squash. She had a not-so-pretty reaction to plums, so it'll be a while before we attempt those again!
Watching Zoe on the couch

She loves bouncing on anything and has really gotten LOUD about it. It is funny and cute until you are trying to have a conversation or watch something on TV and then the squeal/gag noise she makes is a little unpleasant.

Here is sassy-pants now, taking the envelope I used for the pictures...

Mama Monday: Mom's sales

I had my first experience at a mom sale this weekend. I was skeptical of the quality of goods and how crowded it might be, but I thought it was worth a try! So, Larkyn and I, my prego friend Katie, and our moms all headed to the Dublin Rec Center for the Baby & Kid Bonanza (the word Bonanza always scares me).

I took $100 cash with me so that I had a limit (and cash seems to be the only method of payment at these sales). For me, that was plenty. I ended up spending $88, which I will break down below. Both Katie and I were glad to have the help of "the moms", or we definitely would have had trouble corralling our purchases. A word to the wise: bring a second person and shopping bags with you! 

I did go with a short list in mind: a JJ Cole Bundleme (pink, if possible!) and 2 shopping cart/high chair covers. The first table I stopped at had both!  The Bundleme (retail: $39.99) was $4 and the shopping cart cover (retail around $20) was $2. Score.  So, my list was complete, and the rest of the time I spent picking up size 3 shoes, which we are lacking, and cold weather gear. This Columbia snowsuit was $8 (ours is purple, though) and was my favorite purchase of the day. So if you are keeping track, that leaves $74. With that, Larkyn gained 3 new pairs of Robeez shoes (retail $24.95 each), 3 board books, the Learning Puppy she had on her Christmas list, and 22 pieces of Gymboree and Carters clothing for this winter.

So, my mama advice for today? Check these sales out! Bring a friend and bags, have a list of things you need so you have some focus, and bring cash. Unfold clothes to make sure there are no stains (one cute outfit I brought home was strategically "bundled" with the matching pants to hide a stain). Also, when you are done having babies and need some extra cash, this is a perfectly easy way to make some money. One mom told me she had made about $1000 by the end of the sale. Now, to clear out the closet...

Birthday Thursday: Happy 6 months!

Flashing her diaper as she is scooching down

My big girl!
How can this be?!  She is half a year old already?  It seems like she has always been here, but at the same time, it feels like we were just leaving for the hospital at 2 AM on 4/21/11. A lot has happened this week. First, breaking news on the tooth front:  she is teething for real now. 2 months ago I could see little white specks and she was drooling a lot, but now they are actually breaking through and she is showing all those fabulous signs of teething. I wonder what she will look like with teeth? We will find out soon.

She seems to have grown overnight...look at how she almost takes up the whole chair!  We have been trying the straw sippy cup recommended by my school's speech therapist (I put that disclaimer on because you might think I'm crazy for trying it). She is using it, but obviously prefers her bottle.

Nana took her to the grocery store today and she sat up in the cart, which is music to my ears! I am in NO hurry for her to grow up, but it is exciting to know that I don't have to hassle with a carrier, stroller, or carseat to go get groceries.

In those informative, yet pesky emails I get every week from baby websites, they mention crawling, turning things upside down and beginning talking...that is not happening, nor am I worried about it. We are starting signing a few words, which I will write about when she starts using the signs. Thanks to Jill, I have a good understanding of the words that are most helpful. 

I am getting better at the working-mom thing but with lots of support. If I didn't have Matt, mom, or Miss C, all the balls I have in the air would drop and you'd find me in bed with the covers over my head.

As a parting thought, here is a look at our "hyper time" right before bed. Does this count as purposeful moving...backwards and on her back?? Also, she pants now. Ha!

Random Wednesday: 25 things

Ah yes, remember these? I did them back in my hot minute of Facebook time. Another blogger I follow reminded me of it, and life has changed so much since the Facebook era that I thought I'd treat you to an updated version, if you should care to know 25 things about me...
  1. I could never, ever be a vegetarian. I just read a crockpot recipe for BBQ ribs and am dying to have them. 
  2. I have learned that the more hoops you jump through to get a pet, the more trouble they will be. Case in point: I drove hours and paid quite a bit for Zoe and she is the most high-maintenance being in the house. Matt found the cat under the golf cart and he is awesome
  3. I tend to like "guy" movies/shows...Superbad, True Grit, and that bad habit of mine, South Park!
  4. I have never missed an episode of The Office or Grey's Anatomy (DVR has helped)!
  5. I used to cry every year when my birthday was over because I was getting older. This was cause for many appointments with the school guidance counselor per my mom and dad, who thought I was whacko for not wanting to grow up!
  6. If I could do one thing REALLY well, it would be taking pictures. I'd like to take a class on it sometime soon.
  7. I liiiiive to plan! As soon as one thing is over, I look forward to the next. I constantly need something "fun" to look forward to and plan. Even simple things, like planning outfits for Larkyn's weekly photos.
  8. Speaking of her, there is nothing in the world that comes close to the love I have for her. It is a mushy, fierce, hearbreaking, joyous, hilarious, hang-on-as-tight-as-I-can love I can't explain.
  9. I love to make desserts, especially for other people, and would love to do that as a living (but then it wouldn't be fun anymore, I know)
  10. I almost ALMOST majored in journalism after being the editor of our high school newspaper. The pressure of the deadlines scared me away. 
  11. I have known Matt since we were in 2nd grade. In my elementary school diary, I called him "my boyfriend" but that was a very one-sided point of view.
  12. I could eat Italian food every day. The pasta, the bread, the salads, the dessert, wine...all of it!
  13. I used to love clothes shopping. Then I had a baby. Now, it is not really that much fun, so I have turned to buying clothes online!
  14. I watch NASCAR racing every week, like most people sit down to watch OSU football games. That is what we watched in my house every Sunday, and I am aware that I don't exactly fit the "demographic" of the typical viewer. Go #99!
  15. I spent most of my summers away from home, which I loved. I was either at the beach or at some sort of camp. Always running around in my "Turn the tide, save the ocean " bikini somewhere!
  16. My mom owned a sewing store for 18 years, but I actually don't even know the proper way to sew on a button. I was not into sewing at all. 
  17. I owned, showed, and trained 3 horses. It was a lot of hard work and time, but I loved them so much that they actually show up in my dreams quite often!
  18. There is just nothing like Christmas. I decorate the whole house for it, make cookie gifts, and cannot WAIT for Larkyn's first this year. Oh yeah, I used to cry when Christmas was over too. 
  19. I was the president of my sorority but my approval rating was questionable, I imagine. I had a hard time being in charge of friends...
  20. Which leads me to my constant paranoia that people are mad at me. If I don't receive a return text or email, I assume I have done something wrong until I hear from the person. I am not exaggerating and I know its silly.
  21. I loved being pregnant. I can't wait to have baby #2, but that has to wait until we can afford him/her.
  22. I have learned never to believe my first impressions of people, good or bad. There is always more.
  23. When I treat myself to breakfast or lunch from a restaurant, the rest of my day is automatically better!
  24. I don't understand people who vote against school levies. Our entire community is based on public schools, and you are only damaging your own home value.
  25. I enjoy blogging and documenting life in many different ways. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Mama Monday: High Street (Memory Lane)

I have been waiting. WAITING. Waiting for a Saturday that isn't 90+ degrees or 40 degrees with rain. Finally, it came on Saturday! I could take Lulu to her first trip to Clintonville. My mom used to work in the area, and we didn't live too far away from it as I was growing up, so some of my very first memories were made along High Street in Clintonville.
Hmmm, she's not quite sure what to think about all the traffic.

Every Saturday, they have (I think) the largest farmer's market in Columbus. This is a great place for it because the population here is very into organic and local products. So, we started with that. We luckily had a good parking spot in front of Balanced Yoga (more on that later..) and views of downtown. We found the produce we needed and all the sweets (pumpkin roll cookie from Sweet Scetti, apricot bars, and cherry handpie) we didn't need. Oh yeah and an heirloom tomato scone that made me want to grow tomatoes simply to make these incredible delights. But anyway, back to our day...
"Yum! Pies and cheese and muffins...can't wait to start eating REAL food!"
Someone saw me taking a picture of her and asked if I wanted to be in it too. My awesome dirty-hair-outta-the-face style makes me wish I had declined.
After the market, we walked down to Cover to Cover, my favorite childrens bookstore in the world. Why, you ask? Well, do you see any more childrens bookstores left? Me neither. Besides that, my mom used to bring me to this store and we would get lost in it (well at its old location down the street). I met my favorite authors, Jan Brett and Eric Carle here, and I believe this is where my love of kids books began. I experienced a bit of childrens lit burnout after I got my masters in it, but as soon as I walked in and saw this, I knew the old flame was coming back. I restrained myself and just got 2 Elephant and Piggie books for my students and Larkyn to share. She loved the place. And we actually met friends there. This sounds weird, but I don't often meet people. Do you? Unless someone introduces me to their friend or whatever, I don't usually go past the "yeah people think my baby is a boy, too" line. But today, another mommy and I discussed the difficulties of the Ergo, Senate Bill 5, and mommy-baby yoga right up the street! I hope to meet her and baby Charlotte there next Saturday.

Our last stop was further up High Street, at Lottie Da. You can read about our purchase and the store so I am not completely redundant. After a long morning in the stroller, meeting new people, and seeing the places mama loves, she is successfully napping. eating another Dan the Baker heirloom tomato scone. Seriously.
The new hilarious books

Style Saturday: Gotta-have-it hat

Larkyn and I spent the day in one of my favorite parts of town: Clintonville. I love it for its vibrancy and locally-owned stores. I will post for about our day on Monday, but thought I would highlight our moment of style today. At my favorite childrens clothing boutique, Lottie Da, we found our must-have for the season.

This little houndstooth gem came in three different patterns and you can guess how tempting it was to buy all three. However, I thought this pattern was unique and looked cute on my girl. The store owner, Amy, is always there to greet us with a smile and show us what all the cool babies are wearing right now. Hee hee. Check out her adorable store right on High Street and you can make a day of Clintonville shopping!

Mini Mod

Foodie Friday: Pizza sandwiches

If you went to Dublin Scioto High School, like 100% of the adults in this household, you know what a "Mr. Bestwich" is. Mr. Best was our assistant principal and created this amazingly simple concoction that was sold in our cafeteria. If you are sick of the same old grilled cheese, try this variation:

Pizza sandwich
from DSHS cafeteria

Sliced Italian bread (we use Arnold or Nickles...not the fancy loaf from the bakery)
Mozzarella cheese slices
Turkey pepperoni (70% less fat and tastes the same in a sandwich!)
Pizza sauce

Butter the slices of bread and put them butter-side down in a pan. Place a cheese slice on top of each piece of bread. Add 5-6 pepperonis on top of the cheese. Add another piece of bread, butter-side up. Cook sandwiches until each side is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Serve with pizza sauce for dipping. I'm sure there are ways to make this healthier, but some nights you just need something quick, easy, and delicious!

Birthday Thursday: Happy 24 weeks!

Everyone keeps saying, "Oh isn't this a fun age?" Yes! I love this stage of my roly-poly, smiley, toothless girl. As she was growing out of the teeny, newborn stage, I was thinking I would miss it. But, it gets even better!  She makes us laugh all day with her silly faces and her new look-at-me-I'm-fake-gagging noise. Yeah, its a little disturbing, but she thinks it is great.

She has been trying a few new foods. Peas, she hated. Mangoes and zucchini she loves! Interesting because I love peas, but am indifferent on the other two. But seriously, have you seen or smelled baby food peas? Gross.

Since tonight was conference night (hello, 12 hour workday), my mom brought her to work on my lunch hour. She loved seeing all the kids in the cafeteria and playing around in Ann's room while we ate. You can see that I am trying to winterize her wardrobe, but it seems like by 2 pm, it is about 20 degrees hotter than when I dressed her...
Boots from Gymboree, jeggings from Old Navy, onesie from Old Navy.

She greatly enjoys being the center of attention. Usually it is just the two of us for these "photo shoots". Today, she had an audience.
Out in front of our school. I promise it was cold this morning!

Random Wednesday: My owl-themed classroom

So, if you have been reading for a while, you have seen pictures of my daughter, my house, my dogs...but do you know what I do all day? I thought I'd share with you the other piece of my life: teaching kindergarten!

I love my job and it is truly the job that I always wanted. I am soooo blessed to be employed in the first place, let alone in the highest-rated district in Franklin County (whoop whoop!) I'd love to show you all my kiddos, but that's a little no-no. Trust me, they are adorable. I have 41 of them. 21 in the morning, 20 in the afternoon.

Right now is one of my 2 favorite months of the year. I love teaching them about the growth cycle of apples, pumpkins, researching farm animals with them, reading silly farm books, and going to amazing Stratford Farm. Even better, we learn about bats, spiders, and have a Halloween Party that is one of the highlights of their entire year. (If you are wondering, my other favorite teaching month is February).

I start my morning with them at 9:30 and end at 12:00. Then I have a lunch break/planning period until 1:20, when the PM kids arrive. They leave around 4:00. It is so nice to have that long lunch break that allows me to go run errands, go sit down at a restaurant, and get a lot of stuff (copying, staring at pictures of baby on the wall) done.

I have been working with my teammates Ann and Heidi for 8 years and we are like peas and carrots!  Luckily, we share the same sense of humor, political views (teaching is quite a political job, unbeknownst to the public), and are there for each other when we are completely falling apart or just need a Starbucks in the morning. 

Yes, there are huge challenges right now in education. The 2 1/2 hours that I teach are fast-paced and usually a lot of fun. But the demands of testing the kids are disheartening and are leaving less and less time to do fun things like plant seeds and make leaf prints!  I try to make the room as inviting as possible and thought I'd show you a few of my favorite spots or ideas I use...
We start the day by picking the Lucky Duck out of the basket. That lucky person gets to do the calendar routine, pass out papers, and be the line leader!  When all the clips are out, we throw them back in and start over.

Above my word wall, I have birthday bags. I write all their names and their birthday on the cupcake. The kids always think there are presents inside. Sorry to disappoint!

The crown jewels of the primary hallway! These are the owls my mama made over the summer with her Cricut machine. They are awesome, and will go home with the kids in their portfolios in May.


Our current bulletin board: Don't let the pigeon drive the bus. If you are a mother of a 3-6 year old, go find all of Mo Willems' books, pronto!

My personal bulletin board beside my desk. Of course, a baby gallery, along with 2 of my most-used forms, the band-aid bag, and the sub folder. I'm not sure what I will do with the orange section yet. The kids' class promises are above. I refer to them often.

So, there you have it! A look at my second home...
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