We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mommy/Daughter Weekend (Part Two)

Today we continued our Tour de Cincinnati and support of local businesses. Thankfully the severe weather missed our area of town last night. I still didn't sleep as well as I do when Eric was home, but at least I didn't have sirens or thunder or anything that might have made Cate wake up to worry about. The only bad thing is that no rain meant no cool down. By 6:00 this evening, it was 82 in our house with all of the windows open. Poor Cate was fussy and uncomfortable, so I broke down and turned on the air.

Anyway...so I thought the rain would end up coming today. But again it missed us. So Cate and I were able to enjoy lots of outside time. :-) We started out the morning by walking up to our local coffee shop, Pleasant Perk, where yummy Belgian waffles are available on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They make theirs a little differently, so you don't need syrup (although whipped cream and strawberries would have been yummy). And I actually found it easier to eat with my hands like a pastry. Cate played for a little bit in her stroller while I enjoyed breakfast. The O-Ball is quickly becoming a favorite.
We took a quick pit stop at the library afterwards to pick up a book that had come in for me. If you're not familiar with the libraries book ordering system, I recommend checking it out. You can get on their website at www.cincinnatilibrary.org, browse the catalog to find the book, CD, or DVD (only works for documentaries and TV Series), put in your card number, and select the branch where you want to pick it up. They'll call or email you when it comes in. Even if the website shows the book you want is available at your local branch, you can still request it and they'll pull it for you. This has made going to the library a little more efficient for me, especially since I usually have Zoey in tow (she stands outside and guards the stroller while we run in real quick).

We came home for lunch and then headed downtown to a place I've been wanting to check out for awhile. Park and Vine is Cincinnati's Green General Store. They sell a variety of eco-friendly products for you and your home. This weekend was their one year anniversary (we got a free candle).
While I've always wanted to check them out, my main reason for going today was to investigate a particular brand of cloth diapers- BumGenius! Having Cate has really put into perspective the things going on in our environment- the world Cate is going to inherit. We've been trying to walk more places (the grocery store, Wal Mart, Lowes, Blockbuster, Home Depot, the library, the coffee shop, and a smattering of local stores and restaurants are all less than a mile from our house) and Eric plans to ride his bike to work this summer since his work is only 2 miles from home (he can't right now because he drops Cate off in the mornings). We use reusable grocery bags at the store (which we walk to...unless we're already out). We try not to leave things like our computer or microwave plugged into the wall when they're not in use. We don't turn on lights unless we need them. You get the idea.

Anyway, we recently read an article that talked about how disposable diapers take at least 120 years to break down in a landfill. Yikes! Those diapers will still be decomposing long after Cate's gone. Now, I realize that Climatecounts.org did rate Proctor and Gamble, who makes our beloved Pampers Swaddlers) as an eco-friendly company. So that made me feel a little better. But I still felt like we could do more than just continue to throw diapers away. I'd love to use g-diapers, but our nearly 100 year old plumbing just can't handle the flushable liner. Enter BumGenius! These cloth diapers are all one piece and require no pins. You just insert a cloth liner or two depending on how much you want them to absorb. And they wash in the washing machine. The diaper actually has snap adjusters, so it will fit a baby from 8 lbs. to 35 lbs. The reviews on several websites have been nothing but positive. You used to be able to only order them online, but now Park and Vine is carrying them (the only place in the city that does). I picked one up to try with Cate tonight. I figure if it's going to leak, it'll do it when it's on her overnight. If it works and is easy to clean, we're planning on making the investment (they're not cheap unfortunately) to have enough of them for Cate to wear at night and on the weekends when we're home with her. I'll try to use them all summer as well, but the disposables are still necessary for church and the sitter in the fall (we don't want them to have to deal with putting the diaper in a bag, etc.).

I apologize for the eco-rant...but here's a picture of Cate in the new diapee!
It's a little thicker than a disposable, but otherwise easy to use. And really really soft.

After Park and Vine, we went up to Findlay Market to check out what local growers and crafters had to display.
It was really crowded, but fun. I was really surprised at how affordable a lot of the produce was (some cheaper than the grocery store). I picked up oranges and organic (I've been trying to buy more organic products while nursing) cherries. I've had both since we've been home and they're yummy!
All the looking around at things made Cate sleepy.
It was definitely an afternoon well-spent.

Thanks for putting up with a long, rambling post. Cate has been in bed for about an hour now and I'm really keeping my fingers crossed that the new diaper is a hit. I'm looking forward to a little ice cream and finishing On Chesil Beach tonight. After talking to Eric this evening, we definitely want to try and make breakfast at Pleasant Perk and Findlay Market part of our regular summer Saturday routine.

Thanks also to everyone praying for Cate and I while we're on our own. I am gaining a whole new respect for single parents and military spouses (who are left on their own with their kids for months at a time).


Stir Crazy in Nevada

So, for the first time since Cate has been here, Daddy gets to take a trip, and he has to be away from all of his girls. I can't believe how much I miss them all already, and it has only been 1 full day. I am so busy out here, and I know that I wouldn't get to see them much, but I stilll miss their presence. It was so hard to leave Cate on Friday morning when she was still half asleep, and just kind of smiling in her usual morning way. And it was hard to leave Mel while she was doing so much on her own. But I know that all of my girls, including Sierra and Zoey, are very capable without me, and they will all get along fine. I will just pray for them daily, and hope that I can bring home some of the sunshine of the west for them all. Pray for me, and pray for my family back at home. Thanks to everyone who reads this blogs and does think of us or pray for us regularly.

PS, I will try to get some pictures from Lake Tahoe posted to here before I leave, if I am able.

- Papa E

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mommy/Daughter Weekend (Part One)

As many of you know, Eric is in Lake Tahoe with the TNT team for America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride. He left dark and early this morning by cab and arrived at about 3pm Ohio time. He picture-messaged me a shot of his view from the hotel and it's pretty incredible.

So that leaves Cate with me for the weekend. And this time she is a lot needier than she was when he went to Tucson in November (when she was still growing inside me).

Today hasn't been so bad. I was actually a few minutes earlier to work than I have been since I went back, but I think a lot of that is because I was really movin' fast this morning to make sure I'd have plenty of time to take Cate to my grandma's and still get to school. Thankfully it is the end of the school year (only 2 more days to go- and a brief teacher workday on Wednesday), so if something were to cause me to be late, it wouldn't be a huge deal.

Cate was very patient with me as I did all of my normal after school stuff (putting her things she used at my grandma's away, changing my clothes, getting the expressed milk from school into bags for the freezer) and even while I dealt with a little insurance thing. She is really starting to love being in her ExerSaucer and the Bumbo seat. She likes holding her head up and when she's in a reclined position, she's always trying to pull her head forward. She's also starting to pay a little more attention to the Baby Einstein DVDs I occasionally put on TV for her (trust me, she "watches" it maybe a few times a month).

After dinner tonight we headed down to Oakley After Hours. On the last Friday of every month, all of the shops in Oakley (most are along Madison Road) stay open until 10. There is a lot of live music and wine tastings and food samples. Tonight we discovered Red Tree, a coffee shop and art gallery on Brazee (a street off of Madison). Here's Cate at the coffee bar.
The store NEST is right on the corner of Brazee and Madison and we did pop in there to look around. Cate started to get a little fussy, and it was a little hot in there, so it's somewhere that we'll have to go back to. If you've never been there, it's a cute little boutique with a little bit of everything to decorate your home and yourself. :-)

Our next stop was the Blue Manatee children's bookstore. We browsed the books there for a little bit and sampled one of their mini waffles that they sell at the "de-cafe" (get it?)...which is their kid-friendly cafe in the store. They were giving out whole king-size "art bars" which is a dark chocolate candy bar with art inside the wrapper. I don't know what kind of art I'll get as I think I'm going to save my chocolate bar for the last day of school (unless I crack before then).

We took a quick stop into the Spotted Goose, a baby boutique. They sell the Hooter Hiders nursing covers, which I must say has been one of the best things I bought for use with Cate. And finally we ended up at King Arthur's Court Toys, which is where I wanted to get Cate an O-Ball. Here she is playing with it in the store.
We took the tag off of it as soon as we left the store and she held onto it the rest of the way to the car. If you don't know what an O-Ball, it's a great toy for small infants. Cate still hasn't discovered her hands yet (but I think we're getting close), so she loses her grip on bigger toys a lot easier and then gets frustrated. Because of the way the O-Ball is designed, it stays in her hand even if she slackens her grip a little bit. Of course I have to put it in her hand, but once it's there the other hand quickly grabs on and she pulls it towards her mouth. The other nice things about it are that it's dishwasher safe and it's very smushy, so she can't hurt herself on it. I highly recommend it to those of you with babies. They make football shaped ones and really big ones (like soccer ball size) for when they're older.

After that we came home, Cate took a bath, ate, and now she's sound asleep. So my first day as a single parent really wasn't too bad. Please pray for us that the weekend continues to go well. They're predicting some severe weather tonight, so I'm a little anxious about that. Eric will be back on Tuesday night and we can't wait to see him as we miss him already.

~Melody :-)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And while we're on the subject of summer...

I thought I'd also post my summer reading list...it's a little ambitious with an almost 4 month old, but we'll see...

On Chesil Beach (I just started this one) by Ian McEwan

How to be Good by Nick Hornby

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (if it ever comes in from the library)

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 by Steve Stockman

Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella

Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin

So it's about one book per every 10 days or so, which is a lot slower than my normal summer reading pace. Of course Cate and I will be reading plenty of picture books as well. We got a ton at the Scholastic warehouse sale two weeks ago and we love our library! I can't wait to take her to story time.

Don't worry...I'll take and post new pictures this weekend. And if you have any summer reading suggestions, let me know and I'll add them to my ever growing list. :-)


Summer is coming

Only 3 more school days until summer vacation! I can't wait.

I started my summer playlist for my iPod and thanks to playlist.com, I can share it with you below. Enjoy! (PS...If you're on Facebook, this may not pop up, but it's in my profile)


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Meeting Emily

Cate finally got to meet our wonderful friend, Emily, who lives across the ocean in England. Em and Eric went to high school together. I met Emily my freshman year at Miami (her sophomore year) when we joined Kappa Phi. When I met Eric a year and a half later it was very convenient that he already knew some of my friends. :-) Anyway...Em moved a couple of years ago to London for her job. Hopefully I'll get over to visit her soon. On her visit home she got to meet Cate and brought her some cool accessories- sunglasses and sandals (Em is very much an accessories girl and while I do well to pick out cute clothes for Miss Cate, Em will have to help us enhance the outfits). ;-)
Her timing couldn't have been better. Eric and I had just been discussing the need to get her some sunglasses since the sun shades in our cars don't always keep the sun out of her eyes and she hates it when the stroller shade is adjusted to block the sun, but also blocks her view (you can pull the shade all the way down to meet the tray depending on where the sun is). Cate still doesn't know she has hands yet, so right now she leaves them on and doesn't complain. Although they do slide down her nose a little bit since her nose is so tiny...but seeing as she's growing like a weed, they're perfect! Thanks Em! This is even more proof that summer is here (we think for real this time)!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New pictures

We've finally managed to put a few more pictures on our Shutterfly site. The link is at the right (or go to www.riggsfamilypictures.shutterfly.com). A lot of them have been posted on the blog already, but there are a few that haven't been. Things have been crazy since I went back to work, but I love my job and need the daily adult interaction and conversation. :-) Plus, it makes my time with Cate so much sweeter.

We're off to Wooster tomorrow and Friday for the Power of the Pen state tournament. I've been involved as a coach of our school's competition creative writing team since I started teaching at Mason. We've made it to states every year for the last 6 or 7 years (I can't remember how many times we went before I got there). This year all 12 of our writers qualified for this final tournament (a rarity with POP). Eric and Cate are going because I'm kind of Cate's food supply and while we have a stockpile of expressed milk in the freezer, I didn't want her taking only a bottle for 2 days....I was afraid it might interrupt our nursing relationship and might start a more intimate relationship between me and my pump (although I really do like mine...Medela is the best). So off we all go.

Sorry there are no pictures to post...we haven't taken any new ones since the Reds game. We'll be sure to take some more this Memorial Day weekend. And hopefully we'll have good news about the POP team.

If you're looking for some other interesting reading, I suggest you check out http://cfhusband.blogspot.com

A friend of mine first introduced me to the story of this family and it's incredible. The doctors told them to abort the baby or mother and baby would both have slim survival chances. They didn't listen, and mom and baby are now doing amazingly well. Just check it out!

~Melody :-)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Take Cate Out to the Ballgame...and other random busy-ness :-)

So, on Friday, Cate finally got to meet her uncle RyRy! It took him a little while to get here from Blue Ash so, we decided to get experimental with our camera.
But when he did finally see her, he couldn't get enough of her.

So When Saturday rolled around, Mel had to play single mom while Eric went and supported the bikers for Team in Training on their 80-mile route. Cate got plenty of time sitting up, and playing in her exer-saucer (which she can now stand up in with a few blankets around her) and then spent time with Eric while Mel took her bike out for the first time in 6 months. (Between the 2 5K's, the countless walks, and the biking, you would have never thought Mel was only 3&1/2 months postpartum. She is amazing!!)

When Sunday morning came, Eric set up shop at the Tri for Joe with a TNT tent and all kinds of goodies. (Interesting note: This same weekend last year was when we found out we were about to have a little one to take us from DINKS - double income, no kids - to a family) And if all of that weren't enough, Eric, Melody and the whole staff of Team in Training got to enjoy a box suite at the reds game. Cate went to her first Baseball game, and man was she in style.

Overall, It was a great weekend. Only a couple of weeks until Tahoe (Pray for Mel for being alone with Cate for almost a week) and three weeks until the end of school. Then some of the busy-ness will subside and we get to enjoy Cate even more. Happy Summer!!

- The Riggs'

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Blessings Continue . . .

So, while Melody was gracious enough to thank me, and her own mother, it is really a day to celebrate all that she is to our family. She has become a mother with such strength and grace, it's as if she has always been a mother, only awaiting her child. The way she cares for Cate, in talking to her, reading to her, holding her, playing with her, praying over her, and always worrying about her and thinking about her, just simply amazes me. But on top of all that, she is a great, caring wife, keeping the two of us (Cate and myself) in almost perfect balance. I know that none of this is possible without the grace of God, but it takes a strong woman to respond to his grace, and accept it. To all other mothers who do likewise for their families, thank you, and please know how much you are loved and appreciated. And to my wife, know that Cate and I both will always hold a place in our hearts for you. God Bless.
- Papa E

Happy Mother's Day

Today I celebrated my first Mother's Day. While I was pregnant with Cate on Mother's Day last year, we had no idea yet. Eric was wonderful and picked up a card from him and a card from Cate (he used to give me cards from the pets since I'm kind of their pseudo-mom), beautiful roses, and JUNO...I love that movie! He also picked up donuts from the Ridge Donut Shop, one of our new favorite places. After church, we headed to Mimi's Cafe in Mason. It was our first time there and absolutely wonderful! Thank goodness Eric remembered to make reservations, otherwise the wait was over an hour. Here's a picture from church today. Cate is wearing a cute little purple dress with matching cardigan and socks that look like Mary Jane's. Our church choir director's wife passed on a ton of adorable clothes for Cate (her Cate is two years older than ours). Cate is set with summer clothes now. I think she could go 6 weeks and not wear the same outfit this summer.

Last night I also had the privilege of taking my baby girl to church for the mother/daughter banquet. The theme was Cheerleaders/Go Team and Cate and I joined my grandmother. Cate looked adorable in her Miami polo onesie and khaki skirt...you can't really see it that well from the picture.

Eric also weeded our flower bed out front and got it to look amazing yesterday. You'll have to come by and see it. It was almost dark when he finished and rainy today, so we haven't been able to take a picture.

I have to say, I love being a mom and feel absolutely blessed to have the little girl I have in my life. And I'm thankful for my own mom as well...I wouldn't be the mom I am today without her example. I'm thankful that I have a supportive husband who helps me raise our little girl...he's a wonderful father. I'm thankful that God has given us the means to provide for our little girl. I get frustrated sometimes when I read articles or posts on Cincymoms or other websites where women think that only stay-at-home-moms are full-time moms and that working moms have it easier. Or that working moms are wrong to be working. I think all moms are full time moms. I think about Cate all the time when I'm at work and can't wait to get home to her. But I have to work. My students need me and I like my job. God put me at that school for a reason. Eric and I both love our jobs, but as a public school teacher and a non-profit worker, a single-income home isn't even feasible.

Even though it's sometimes tough to leave her, I know Cate is in good hands. She's getting 1 on 1 attention from my grandmother, whose watching her right now (and 2 on 1 attention most of the time because my Uncle is there too). I know that by working, we can help her go to college, travel, and experience all of the blessings life has to offer...things my parents worked to give me. I'm lucky though. Of the 365 days in a year, I only work 185 of them. I finished my Master's last summer, so I don't have to worry about going back to school. That gives me 180 full days to be with Cate. Plus, with the way our schedules work out, Cate is only with someone else for 6 hours a day.

The last 3 months or so have been amazing. Cate is growing everyday and I never ceased to be awed by the miracle that she truly is. I pray every night that she'll come to know and love and worship the God her daddy and I know and love and worship. I pray she'll outlive us both. I pray she'll always know how much I love her. And I give thanks that I'm her mom. It's worth the spit up, extra laundry, dirty diapers, and tears to see her smile back at me. And here's a little glimpse at what we get every day.

~Melody :-)

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Flying Pig

Last weekend was Flying Pig weekend in Cincinnati and it kept both of us busy. Since Eric works for Team in Training (a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society), he was busy taking things to the Expo on Friday, setting up the carbo-loading pasta party (with special guests, Team Lachey from Clash of the Choirs) all day Saturday, and getting the finish line tent set up at Yeatman's Cove at 1:30 Sunday morning. All of this left Melody as pretty much a single mom for the weekend. Cate and Eric did come out to cheer Mommy on as she ran the 5k Saturday morning though. Here they are pre-race. Like Cate's TNT onesie?
It poured down rain the entire time, and it was hilly. Considering that Melody only ran once in between Rat Race and this 5K, she was just glad to finish in just under 42 minutes.
Afterwards, we headed to the temporary TNT staff headquarters in the St. Nicholas Suite at the Hilton downtown. Cate took a nap in what we liked to call "Fort Cate"- she was surrounded by pillows since she has a tendency to scoot in her sleep.
The suite was amazing. It was two stories with four individual rooms that lead out into a two story common room. Here's the view from the stairs.
And a view of the stairs. The friendly Hilton folks were kind enough to give the staff the room since TNT booked about 150 rooms for participants.
On Sunday, Melody and Cate hung out at the finish line tent for a while and then just chilled at home for the rest of the day. Monday brought Cate's 3 month birthday. Here's the birthday girl at 8:35 that night, just a half hour shy of it being her 3 month birthday to the minute.
As for the video we took of Cate "talking" earlier today, you're going to have to wait...due to some technical issues (ie...it takes forever to load and we're really tired), we'll post it later this weekend when we update you on Melody's first Mother's Day (even though she was a mommy last year and just didn't know it yet).

~Eric and Melody (and Cate)

I'm a little sad...

...to learn that Presidential hopeful John McCain supports No Child Left Behind and merit pay for teachers. Most of you that know us, know that Eric and I don't really align ourselves with any political party as we feel it's important to vote for the candidate that feels the same way we do about issues. For us the biggies have always been education, healthcare, the environment, and the war.

If you don't know a lot about NCLB, I suggest you read up on it. While it's good in its intentions, it is not carried out effectively at all (ask any teacher). I like the parts of it that keep schools accountable for hiring highly qualified teachers...after all, our kids deserve to have someone in the classroom who knows what they're doing. And I like that it wants schools to continue to make improvements. I don't like the parts of it that say if a school is not performing up to standard (this is largely judged by how well students perform on tests) then the government can take over the school, laying off the staff and bringing in a new staff. Why not bring in people to help trouble shoot and work on improving the school instead of laying off the entire staff?

As teachers, we have no control over the things that go on in our students' lives and how much information they choose to retain. I can teach things over and over again, but I do not go home with the student to make sure they study, or do homework, or practice, etc. Likewise, I have no control over whether or not they come to school having had breakfast, a good night's sleep, etc. On test day, I can't hold their hands and bubble in answers for them. Yet NCLB expects that the child coming from a broken, low income home to retain the same information as the child from the higher income, loving home. This is also how merit pay works. A teacher is paid for how well his/her students perform on a test. I met an incredible teacher through my grad. school program that teaches in one of the worst Cincinnati Public Schools. She puts in more hours trying to love and reach those kids than any other teacher I know. Yet she would be one of the first to have her salary lowered by merit pay or potentially lose her job because of NCLB.

I'm fortunate to teach in a district with involved parents, in-tact families, and a lot of support. But I really feel like merit pay and NCLB would be like basing the President's salary on how well the American citizens can do on a citizenship test (I've seen some of the questions in an article I read and they're not all easy) and firing him/her, the cabinet, chiefs of staffs, senators, and representatives if the scores were too low. I'm not trying to tell you who to vote for...there are important issues other than education...I simply needed to vent. And something different definitely needs to be done about education in this country.


PS...check back later tonight/early tomorrow for new pictures from Pig weekend, Cate's 3 month birthday picture, and a special video message from baby herself. :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More Weekend Pics

One of the main reasons we traveled to Hudson last weekend was to see my sister, Catherine run in her track meet. Here's a picture from the meet (Hudson placed 4th and we're hoping Catherine makes it to state this year):We also got to see the ring bearers from our wedding. I started babysitting Garrett and Michael when they were 18 months old. They were 6 when they were in our wedding and just turned 10 on the 26th! Time flies!

Here they are with Cate:
This weekend I'm on my own with her. It's Flying Pig time in Cincinnati so Eric is busy, busy, busy. :-) If Cate's in a good mood and the weather is decent, we're hoping to head on down there. I'm also thinking about running the 5k...I can still register tomorrow, so we'll see.