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

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Toe-Tally Cute!

Yesterday morning, while Eric staffed a 20-mile training run, Cate let me do this to her toenails:

Since she could crawl, Cate has always been fascinated by my painted toenails (when they're actually painted).  So since we were having such fun mommy/daughter time, I thought we'd give her some color to match mine (Eric did my toes the night before school started---he started giving me pedicures when I was pregnant with Cate and I'm thankful he still offers even though I gave birth 18 months ago and am not planning on being pregnant).
I know, the glare makes it look like my big toe is chipped, but it's not.  And I realize that hers look a little raggedy, but I knew she wouldn't sit still long enough for me to file them...we barely get them trimmed around here.  I put Cate in her high chair, because while she'd sit still to let me paint her toenails, she'd also probably want to grab them-- which she did once they were dry:

Adding to all that girly cuteness yesterday was the purse I bought her at a Stop Traffick Fashion trunk show.
My friend, Emily, is the woman behind Stop Traffick Fashion.  Her online boutique sells handbags and jewelry made by people rescued out of human trafficking. Cate loves her purse.
It's the perfect place for storing those keys.   And her dinosaur toys.  I'm not sure what all has been in and out of that purse in the last 24 hours.  
~Melody :-)

Friday, August 28, 2009


Our friend, Tina, from our small group is also a teacher.  She knows how crazy the first day of school can be.  And she knows that the last thing any teacher wants to do on the first day of school is come home and make dinner.  So last week at small group she handed us a pan.  Full of yummy lasagna goodness.  All I had to do yesterday (the first day of school for me) was thaw it while at work and stick it in the oven for an hour when I got home.  It was delicious!  Cate loved eating (and wearing) it.  She promptly took a bath while Mommy promptly vegged on the couch in order to digest her three servings.

I also thoroughly enjoyed leftovers at lunch today!  Thanks Tina!

The first week of school-- all 2 days of it-- went really well.  My students seem like nice kids, I feel incredibly organized this year, and am confident that this year will be a good one.  Cate has been a little clingy when Eric drops her off at our sitter, but she seems to get over it quickly.  Hopefully as we settle more into the routine of school, she'll be less clingy when getting dropped off.  I think it's just because she actually recognizes us leaving and coming to get her every day (I'm greeted with "Hi Mommy" every afternoon).  But I'm stickin' to what I said in this post: Working makes me a better mom.  This week was a reminder of that.  (Sidenote...that post was in no way intended to offend all you stay-at-home moms out there, so I hope you weren't offended.  I love my job-- most days-- and that is how I find balance and what makes me better.  I couldn't be a SAHM-- it's just not in my personality...at least not right now).

Next week is a full five-day week of school.  Time to rest up this weekend.

Happy back to school everyone!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Penguin and Spidey

Alternately Titled: What I Was Watching Unfold While I Should Have Been Paying Attention

Disclaimer:  If you work with me, please, please, please, don't tell on me.  ;-)  And if you work with Eric...don't tell on him either.

Today was our teacher work day.  Tomorrow the students come.  Today we come in to work on our classrooms sit through a three hour meeting in the morning-- which isn't all bad--introductions, re-introductions, celebrating what we did well last year and our diversity are all good things.

But during all of this, a story told in picture messages with brief captions was unfolding.  I should note that this all started when I texted my hubby asking for a picture of my sweet baby girl this morning.  He didn't see the text until he was already at work, but figured this would do the trick.

"Penguin eating Spidey"
It made me laugh.  Spidey is a Lego Spiderman that showed up in our rental car last year after we got hit. I thought this was the end of it-- afterall, he'd made me laugh and made up for not sending me a picture of Cate.  But then my pocket buzzed again.
"They worked it out."
I have no idea where the penguin came from.  I chuckled again and put my phone away only to feel the buzz again a few minutes later.
"Spidey apparently didn't like the penguin and wants to end it"

The rest of the story unfolds like so:
"Penguin to the rescue"
"Mouth to mouth"
"Drying off"

"All is well in the land of cube" 
The "land of cube" refers to my husband's cubicle, where Spidey and the penguin apparently hang out.  
I know, I have an awesome and creative husband who was willing to create this story for me when he probably should have been working too.  Although we could consider this a tradeoff for the work he sometimes does at home, like answering emails, making phone calls, etc. 
And on a totally other random note...

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sharing Writing

After my recent post about Cate and her keys that Daddy gave her, my aunt sent me the following poem, which I think warrants sharing in more than just the comment section.

The “Key” to her Daddy’s Heart

They open the doors to the place we call home,
They bring us security,
Whenever we roam.

They’ll start a car running,
Or lock a diary up tight,
They sprout wings when we’ve lost them,
And stay out of sight.

They can unlock that old chest,
Where treasures may be,
They can open a bird cage,
And let them soar free.

But there’s a key that’s most precious,
And it’s been there from the start,
It’s the key that Cate carries,
That fits Daddy’s heart.

With love to Daddy Eric and the keeper of the keys…Miss Cate

Aunt Brenda McAninch 08/24/2009

My aunt is a great writer! Here she is with Cate last fall.
My mom says she gets her writing talent from my great-grandmother (mother's father's mother), whom I never met. I guess my great-grandmother was always being asked to write things for her church and for others. I love this poem! Eric printed out a copy which is now hanging in his cubicle at work. I printed out a keepsake copy for Cate and one to take to school with me to show my students what a wonderful and personal gift writing can be. I'm hoping to do something new this December and write gifts for people (poems, memoirs, whatever) for the holidays.

And while we're on the subject of writing, did I ever mentioned that I was published on another blog? I don't think so. You see here's the thing about me and writing. I'm an English teacher and I love to write and I love to blog, but I don't like to get too personal (although I'm working on this). So when I participated in The Letter Project with a friend, I was scared to death. Scared because I knew I wanted to be honest and while I had known the woman to whom I was writing since middle school and we did run in a lot of the same circles (band, theater, etc.), we hadn't really started forging a friendship until recently through our blogs and Facebook and a wedding we're both in. It was terrifying and freeing all at the same time. You can read my letter and more about The Letter Project here.

While I recognize that there are certain things in life that shouldn't be shared on such a public forum like a blog, I also hope that this can be the beginning of me opening up a little more with my writing. Maybe not on the blog, but maybe by writing my own gifts for my family or being a little more personal in the writing I share with my students. You've got to start somewhere I guess and I'm beginning to wonder how I made it though a Master's program in teaching writing when I find sharing personal writing so terrifying. I think it was the "teaching" writing part that saved me. I didn't have to get too personal.

~Melody :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Working Mom Manifesto

With school starting this week, I feel it only appropriate to write this post now.

I'm just going to say it-- I don't think I could be a stay-at-home mom. I think working makes me a better mom. You see, since I teach, I do get to experience being a stay-at-home mom for just under half the year (11 weeks in the summer, 5 days at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas, 1 week in the spring, and every major bank holiday...not to mention the three generous personal days I get and at least one or two snow days, if not more). And I love those days and weeks that I get to hang out with Cate. I love coloring with her, trips to the library, going to the pool, the museum, the zoo, hanging out at home and just being lazy. But I also love new school supplies, sharing my love of reading and writing with my students, and the "break" from drool and dirty diapers.

Cate went to our sitter one day a week this summer and I think it saved my sanity. I spent most of those days off learning to sew. This is my newest project for Cate, which will now have to be worked on during weekend visits to my grandma's. There are two more tiers to add to this sundress I'm making for next summer. The next row will be brown and pink (the leftover material from my skirt) and the bottom row will be the pink that you see below the brown here (the leftover material from the first outfit I made Cate). So it'll kind of look like this when it's done:But I digress. Anyway, when I am home with Cate and she has a particularly fussy and cranky day, I'm ready with my earbuds in and the dog on the leash when Eric walks through the door-- I'm desperate for a break. When I'm back at work though, Cate can have the roughest day in the world and I know I'm more patient with her. Why? Because I've gotten to spend part of my day already talking with other adults, doing something I love, and not changing diapers (not that it's all about changing diapers though). It helps to know she's not spending a full 8 hour work day at our sitter either. Eric waits for her to wake up and eat breakfast before dropping her off around 8:45. I'm usually there by 3 to get her. And it helps to know that when she does start school in just a few short years, she won't need any before or after school care at all because Eric and I have such great work schedules.

I look forward to summer break because it is the longest break I get with her. But by the time August rolls around, even though I say I'm never ready to go back, a couple of days in my classroom always seem to prove that I am ready to be back. My breaks with Cate-- those days and weeks when I do get to see how it would be if I did stay at home (if I could still get paid my salary while staying at home)-- fill me up so I'm ready to go back to work. And that time at work fills me up in a different way so I'm ready to spend time with Cate after school and on breaks.

Today was my last day of summer with Cate. She went to our sitter four of the five days last week so that I could attempt to restore order to my classroom, go to a doctor's appointment and get some professional development out of the way. I was going to send her to our sitter all five days this week, but decided I really wanted that one last day with her.

So today we went to Lunken playfield with my sister-in-law (who is home on a break from med school) and some small group friends. After naptime (which wasn't really naptime because she fell asleep in the car, woke up when we got home, and laid in her crib babbling for the next hour before I showed her some mercy and just got her up to play), we played on the floor and read some books. We swung on the porch swing and took Zoey for a walk. Cate walked all the way around the block with me without the stroller...probably why she's sleeping so well now.

I wanted to experience today not from behind the lens of my camera, so I only took one picture of my sweet babe.
Yes, with dinosaur in hand. My awesome sister-in-law took a ton of pictures at the playground anyway.

It's been a great summer and I can't believe how much Cate has grown and learned. At the beginning of the summer she was a wobbly new walker. Now she can run with the best of 'em (toddlers, I mean). At the beginning of the summer she only knew a few words. Now I feel like she's learning new ones each day (broccoli, doggie, daddy, mommy, book, chicken, cheese, fish, leash, nanny, poppy, baby, hi, bye-bye, night-night, shoe, cat and go are just a few she knows). She does pretty well feeding herself oatmeal with a spoon and occasionally can manage a fork with her broccoli or green beans if she concentrates hard enough. She can entertain herself with her toys for a pretty extended period of time, can build towers with her blocks now (she only has the patience to get them about four blocks high before she knocks it down, laughing), and plays okay with other kids (we're still working on this one, but I hear it's a phase every kid goes through).

And after all of that, I'm ready for my 101 new students to walk through my door on Thursday. I'm ready to watch them grow and learn until next June, when Cate and I can begin another summer together. I'm truly blessed to have such fulfillment from both motherhood and teaching. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

~Melody :-)

P.S. I lied. I took one other picture of Cate today. With my cell phone. It's of her in Zoey's crate. I took all of Zoey's blankets out to wash them and Cate crawled right on in and shut the door.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Keys To Her Heart

Cate has a penchant for things that are "real." She has about four toy cell phones, one that even says her name and one that looks like a pretty genuine flip phone, yet she still prefers to play with mine or Eric's (sometimes calling people in our address books). Mommy and Daddy's books on the shelves are much more interesting than the dozens of kid-friendly board books Cate has collected in the last 18 months. Keys are no exception to this rule of "real" things.

Cate loves our keys. They keep her quiet at the grocery store if she starts to get fussy. She happily plays with them in her stroller on long evening walks or jogs. She will most definitely push the panic button when you are in line at the post office and so busy getting a package ready to mail that you don't notice it until someone comes in and says loudly, "Whoever has the silver car your alarm is going off!"

Being the wonderful and smart man that he is, Eric had a brilliant idea Saturday morning. While out running errands with Miss Cate (so mommy could sleep in because she got no sleep the night before due to Diet Coke overdose while out to dinner with our small group), they stopped at Lowe's and got Cate some real keys.
They are uncut, of course. But what I love, love, love, most about what my hubby did, is he bought a pack of skeleton keys. We live in a nearly 100 year old house-- and I love it! All of doors are still the originals (but have had dead bolts, etc. installed on the outside doors). So all of doors still have a keyhole for a skeleton key. We actually inherited a couple of smaller ones with the house. Knowing this about our house, Eric bought the 2-pack of keys so that at least one of the keys on Cate's ring would be functional. And since there were two in the pack, Eric put one on his key ring. So now they each have one-- their own private little daddy-daughter connection.

Cate loves her "real" keys and while you can't see them in the picture below (they're in her pocket), they're quickly becoming a new favorite.
I have to say that I think she looks like an awfully big girl in this last picture too. Where has my baby gone?

~Melody :-)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some Things That Have Made Me Laugh Recently

Cate's new dinosaur infatuation and her constant "roaring."
Avocado with lime juice (perfect for dipping blue corn tortilla chips). This makes me laugh because I first tasted avocados and this particular concoction during the summer of 2003 when I lived in Los Angeles. I was an RA for a gifted program and the memories make me chuckle still, six years later. Let's just say that some gifted kids are very socially awkward and prefer to have contests to see who can write Pi out to the most digits from memory at Saturday night dances rather than say, actually dancing at the dance. ;-)
The name on Cate's prescription diaper rash cream (she has a stubborn one that won't go away). If you can't read the label it says "Magic Butt Cream." I thought the pediatrician was just joking when she called it that on the phone and said she call in the prescription to the pharmacy. Turns out she wasn't joking.
The squirrels or other creatures that keep stealing our next-door neighbors tomatoes, eating parts of them, and then leaving them on our back deck.
These two photographs are from the SECOND time this happened.
What's made you laugh recently?

~Melody :-)

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Little Bag That Could

Meet The Little Bag That Could!

I made this bag all on my own this week and am so very proud. I saw it in a sewing for baby book that I bought for a couple of books at the Friends of the Public Library book sale this summer. It's supposed to be a small-ish diaper bag. While a summer of sewing with my grandmother doesn't make me an expert by any means, I did find that some of the assembly and sewing instructions were a little out of order or just "off." And I wish the strap was longer. I do plan to make another one soon...I'll probably add a few inches to the strap and assemble it in a little different order (the way it is now leaves a few "rough" spots on the bag). But I love the button/ribbon closure (it's pretty much an open top besides this) and the two outside pockets which are the perfect size for books.

And speaking of books...the two latest that I've read are below.
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist is a book I finished shortly before we went to Hilton Head. It's basically her collection of faith-based essays on life, motherhood, and being an adult. I LOVED it! I identified with her in so many ways, especially her "Old House" essay (I'm an old house kind of person too). I wish I knew her in real life...or I'd at least like to have coffee with her sometime.
Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah was my required summer reading for school. Everyone in our department is reading a young adult fiction book this summer in which the main character is of a different culture. We're getting together on Tuesday to discuss our reads. This book follows Jamilah, a Lebanese-Muslim high school sophomore in Australia who tries to hide her cultural background at school in order to be more popular. While it was fairly predictable and definitely aimed at teenage readers, it wasn't too bad of a book. There were moments of humor and the "just be yourself" message is an important one for students in the grade I teach. It was a quick read too as the author keeps the plot moving along.

I don't think I'll get another book in by the time school starts (the kids come next Thursday), but hopefully I'll have the time to read (and blog) about a couple of books this fall.

~Melody :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Roaring New Obsession

On Monday Cate and I went to the Children's Museum...which is on the bottom level of the Natural History Museum...which is currently hosting a dinosaur exhibit...which means there is a large dinosaur statue out front (sorry, I didn't have my camera and didn't take a picture of it). It's one of the long-necked dinosaurs and walking up to the entrance, Cate pointed at it and made her noise for elephant. I think the long neck made her think it was an elephant. Seizing the teachable moment, I told her that it wasn't an elephant, but a dinosaur and proceeded to show her that a dinosaur roars.

Cate continued to keep saying something that sounded like "dino" and roaring throughout our museum visit (and we didn't even go to that exhibit-- it costs extra...a lot extra...but maybe we'll check it out before it leaves). On our way out, we picked up a small, rubbery, dinosaur toy in the gift shop (the cheapest one they had there). Cate roared and played with him the whole way home and he has become quite the favorite toy this week. Here's a little video I took with my phone outside the museum.

Daddy further indulged Cate's new little obsession when he picked up some dinosaur toys and a book from the dollar bin at Target (the big one lying down is the one from the museum).
So now Cate loves to read about dinosaurs (we own the board book How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms and the book from Target; we checked out the board book How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors from the library).
And she loves to play with her dinosaurs. Her favorite thing is making them roar at the pets.It's the cutest little roar I've ever heard!

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hanging onto Summer

Cate may be back at her sitter's house, I may be going back into school and setting up my classroom, the ice cream truck may not roll down our street as frequently, the pool at the community center may be closed, but...we are hanging onto summer.

August is hot, hot, hot in Cincinnati. Today after I picked Cate up, we played in the sprinkler with Zoey.
I was too lazy to put a swimsuit-- or even a swim diaper-- on Cate. I just stripped her down and let her run around in the water. This was a fine plan until something must have started to feel weird in her diaper and she pulled it off.
So there you have it-- a perfect way to spend late afternoon in August, holding onto to that last little bit of summertime.

~Melody :-)

PS...That last picture was from my phone once she sat down on the concrete. The ones I took with my camera may embarrass her later so I'm not posting them. :-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Me Monday

One of the things I've been learning as a mom is to let go of the "guilt" I sometimes feel when not everything in the world of motherhood goes as planned..."Not Me Monday" helps me let go and reminds me that I'm not alone. Check out more "Not Me's" at MckMama's blog.

This past week we were on vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. We did NOT get up at 12:30 in the morning to drive through the night. Eric did NOT only have about 2 hours of sleep and a Starbucks Doubleshot when we started the drive. We are perfectly safe and only drive when we've had a full night's sleep. And speaking of sleep...Cate did NOT babble to us for the first hour of the car ride instead of going to sleep (she did sleep the rest of the drive until breakfast like a champ though).

Upon seeing the ocean for the first time in her life, Cate did NOT run right into the waves. Eric did NOT have to go chasing after her because I was NOT too busy taking pictures instead of making sure my daughter didn't get washed out to sea.I did NOT forget to pack a bib and did NOT simply strip Cate down to her diaper to eat spaghetti the first night we were in our cottage.I am NOT secretly in love with how comfortable and beach-friendly Crocs are. I did NOT contemplate buying them in several more sizes for Cate because rumor has it that they're on their way out. I have NOT decided they are the perfect beach shoes.And we certainly did NOT pay $4 for a plastic Hilton Head jibbitz for Cate's Crocs.After eating at one of our favorite HHI restaurants, The Crazy Crab, our table did NOT look like this.
We are nice, neat people after all. And I was NOT outwardly thrilled that Cate ate shrimp, lobster, and crab with us (but mostly shrimp).

We also did NOT "sneak" into the Disney Hilton Head resort just so I could see it and get a pin for my Disney pin collection (which I have NOT had since high school). We did NOT decide that perhaps next summer when we travel to Hilton Head, we will spend an extra day or two enjoying the Disney resort (only bummer is that it's not on the beach).

I did NOT take an insane amount of pictures on our trip...all of which can be viewed here.
On the way home from vacation, we did NOT stop for a good ole' fashioned Southern family reunion in Hazard, Kentucky. I did NOT enjoy holding this delicious little baby (my cousin's third child).Cate did NOT try to push/pull her off my lap when she discovered me holding her.

Just before we left the family reunion to head back home to Cincinnati, we did NOT simply bathe Cate in the kiddie pool.We always bathe in the bathtub.

And finally, after a week in the south, I did NOT decide that I was simply born in the wrong state. My affinities for sweet tea, fried chicken, pecan pie, hot weather, and the word/phrase "y'all" are all indications that maybe I need to move south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Feel free to play along.

~Melody :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We're Back!

Our trip to Hilton Head was absolutely wonderful! It was great to go on our first vacation as a family of three (unless you count Eric's work trip to Nashville last year). Cate loved the ocean and mommy and daddy loved relaxing at the beach. We'll post more pictures and details later...but here are a few of our favorites.~Melody :-)