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

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Test Drive

We had some unseasonably warm weather here a little over a week ago. So we decided to take our new double stroller for a test drive. Cate buckled in Monster, then buckled in herself and we were off around the neighborhood.
I really debated about getting a double stroller since Cate will be 3 in February and closer the 3 1/2 this summer when we are really getting some use out of it. But then I began to think about some of my own experiences growing up. I was just shy of my 4th birthday when my brother was born and I remember some days spent walking around the zoo or Kings Island Amusement Park and being so jealous that he got to ride in the stroller. Yes, we have a wagon, but Brennan won't be big enough for that until he's at least 1. I also thought about how a few of our friends have actually rented strollers at Disney and other theme parks for their children (kids older than Cate by at least 2 or 3 years) to keep them from whining about walking. And three is still little. Asking Cate to walk around a zoo all day is asking a lot.

So I did some research before arriving at the stroller we purchased. A lot of research. I wanted something side-by-side. We walk around the neighborhood a lot and I've pushed a double stroller that is tandem (one in front of the other) before. They are not easy to maneuver on old, cracked sidewalks and up hills (we have both in our neighborhood). I wanted each seat to recline independently (so Brennan could lie nearly flat on his side as an infant) and have an independent sunshade. Cate is tall and I know that if she doesn't have the sunshade pulled down, she'll be able to sit in the stroller a lot longer (meaning, until she's a lot older). That being said, I wanted something with a total weight limit for the stroller, not for each individual seat. At almost 3, Cate still weighs somewhere in the 3oish pound range. If Brennan is about the same when he's 3, I doubt Cate will weigh 70 pounds at 6, so she can still ride (if she wants to). I didn't necessarily want a jogger, as those can be big and heavy. Plus, let's face it, jogging with just Cate in our single jogger was hard. This stroller will jog just fine on a paved trail and that's probably the only place I'd ever take it too jog. We'll just be doing a whole lot of walking with this. It's lightweight and fits through a standard doorway too.

Believe me, I looked at every option in our price range. I didn't like the sit and stands because if the kid in the actual seat is reclined, the other child couldn't really sit down (or so said the reviews). Chicco, the brand of infant car seat we have, does have a double stroller that will hold the carseat, but it's a tandem stroller. A lot of the joggers weighed a lot. And so that's how we arrived at the Baby Jogger (brand, not an actual jogger) City Mini Double. One weight limit for the whole side-by-side stroller, independent reclining seats and sunshades, lots of storage, lightweight, etc. Everything I wanted (minus a cupholder, but we can add a parent console).

The verdict after our test drive? We love it! Easy to maneuver, break, and push. Now we'll just have to see how it does once Brennan is here.

~Melody :-)

PS...I was in no way compensated for talking about this stroller. These are just my regular ol' Mama thoughts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Musings on Peace

Hey there. It's Papa E with some thoughts on Christmas, meaning, purpose and making sense of it all. I heard some rather thought provoking comments in this weekend's sermon at Crossroads. Isaiah 9:6 is an often quoted verse this time of year; "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." The very last phrase is probably one of the most used during this time of year to describe the newborn Christ, and it is parsed and used in much broader terms to wish "peace" on all of our friends and family. However, this sense of peace in the American vernacular denotes a much simpler form than the peace Christ came to usher in. Our American peace might more easily align with words like calm, quiet, or absence of conflict. The Prince of peace as described in Isaiah is actually the Prince of "Shalom," an ancient Hebrew word that has a much deeper meaning. This type of peace actually refers to completeness, wholeness, and even a sense of harmony with God, creation and in relationships. As Chuck Mingo put it, Christ came to redeem the garden of Eden in our lives!

This is an amazing thought to me. God created the garden of Eden and creation to be a perfect place of peace, pleasure, joy and oneness with God and each other. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have broken that completeness God wanted to give us, but he came and brought his son to redeem us to that place. Not only that, but he gives us the power to bring about Eden, or his Kingdom on earth right now. We don't have to wait until we leave this earth to enter the Kingdom.

When my wife and I got married, we used a song (artfully presented by my friends) called "The Echoes of Eden." I am struck so much by that imagery, especially in the love and joy we were able to share in that day. Recently, I have been experiencing more and more echoes of Eden in so many areas of my life. I see Eden in the joy in my daughters face when I come home from a long day at work, and am overwhelmed with joy. I hear echoes in beautiful music (from choral to rap) and in the excitement in the performers. I see the garden in a church community that is reaching out to the lost, the hungry, the sick, the enslaved, and the victims of sexual trafficking in a time when few others are. I hear Eden in the voices of Team in Training participants sharing their mission of beating blood cancers and see it in their jubilation when crossing the finish line of an endurance event. I taste Eden in food that is not only a blessing to have everyday, but is also flavorful, experimental, and decadent. I see and hear echoes of the Garden all around me and want God to use me to bring Eden to others.

May we never forget the blessings of a loving God, and may he use us to show his perfect love, his Garden, to all. Merry Christmas!

- Papa E

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming To Town

And our little Cate couldn't be more excited.
We decided to beat the crowds and took her to see him the day before Thanksgiving. She climbed right up on his lap, asked him for a dollhouse, and then talked to him about a few other things we couldn't quite hear.
Our Elf on the Shelf made his appearance on Thanksgiving night (more about him in a later post). Cate has been asking to talk to him every night before bed, usually after we read the book. She always tells him "I've been good. Tell Santa to bring me a dollhouse please." It's adorable. I know one little girl who will be super excited come the morning of December 25th when she finds just what she wants under the tree.

~Melody :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

How We Spent Black Friday

We didn't get up early (or stay up late depending on which store you were going to). In fact, we had to chuckle at the people standing under umbrellas in the cold rain at Toys R' Us last night as we drove home from Thanksgiving dinner. We didn't laugh too hard though, as we know it could be us next year, or some year in the future when there is some must-have-toy-doorbuster-deal. Oh, the things we do for our kids. But we did enjoy a slightly lazy morning. We ended up at our local coffee shop up the street around 10:00am. Eric and I enjoyed their yummy decaf blueberry crumble coffee while Cate enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie the size of her face.

Then we decided to patronize a couple of our favorite local businesses. First up was the record store where we really wanted a special U2 vinyl (yes, that means a record) EP. Several bands released EP's on vinyl today that were only available at independent record stores. U2's 3 song album had only 5000 copies available nationwide. So exciting to have one of them! We also found a KT Tunstall Christmas CD for $4 (it's not bad...sounds like it should be on a Gap commercial), and we let Cate get a Yo Gabba Gabba cd (hey, mommy and daddy were okay with it considering bands like MGMT, The Ting Tings, Solange, and Jimmy Eat World are on it).On a whim, we stopped by the comic book store. Eric enjoys reading graphic novels and comic books from time to time. He really liked the movie American Splendor and was excited to find a few of the comic books. The guy that worked there was also able to suggest a couple of other "slice of life" comic books similar to American Splendor for Eric to try next time he's there. Cate found the kids' section and picked out a Finding Nemo comic book.
After patronizing our favorite local stores, we headed downtown to Krohn Conservatory to see the poinsettia displays. And yes, I did get my hair chopped the other night. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but I love the shorter length!
Cate was fascinated by the trains they had running through some of the displays.
We also stopped down at Fountain Square to take a quick picture. A friend of mine from high school teaches elementary school in North Carolina. Her class made Flat Stanley's after reading the book by the same name and then she shipped their Stanley's all over the country to her friends. So we took Stanley downtown for some pictures and to pick up some brochures to send back to her class. Here's Cate holding Stanley up:
It's hard to see here, but part of the fountain was frozen. It's cold here today, but is supposed to warm up again tomorrow. At least it's sunny.

The rest of our Black Friday will be spent napping, putting ornaments on the tree, cleaning the house, and just spending time at home. Not too bad of a day if you ask me. And we didn't have to get out of bed early for it.

~Melody :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

So Very Thankful

Our Thanksgiving has been a rainy and cold one. Which meant that we spent most of the day indoors. Indoor time, however, means that most of our Christmas decorations are up and so is the tree. The tree is lit, but we don't have our ornaments on it yet. It was a relaxing morning of pancakes, coffee, Christmas, the Macy's parade, and browsing Black Friday ads...even though we will not be joining the madness, mostly because we're finished shopping with the exception of about 5 gifts.

It's kind of surreal to think that next year we'll be corralling two kids as we head off to Thanksgiving dinner. This year though, we spent it with Eric's family, and we only had one kid to wrangle. We were able to sneak away just after eating in order to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One while Cate stayed with her grandparents. So as I sit in the glow of lights on the tree with stockings hung on the mantel (including a new one for Brennan), I can't help but think of the many things I'm so thankful for.

I'll keep it short and sweet. I'm thankful that 2010 has been much better health-wise (for me) than 2009 (when I was dealing with all of that nasty GI stuff/anxiety crap/etc.). I'm so thankful that I have been healed of those things and that in place of the bad, good came, in the form of a heartbeat on a doppler at the doctor's office. And good came in so many other ways too-- in energy that I gained again, a renewed enthusiasm at my job, time spent with family and friends, growing closer with our small group, and so many other things-- mostly intangible. And it's those intangible things, the things money can't buy, that make me so, so thankful today.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I'll leave you with a picture that makes me smile. Cate showing off Daddy's sunglasses in the car the other day. Don't worry, I was at a red light when I snapped it on my phone.
~Melody :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I know Thanksgiving isn't even here yet since it's tomorrow and all, but my mind has been thinking about Christmas cards for the last few weeks. And Christmas in general for the last few months (hello, we do have most of our Christmas shopping done). With a 5 day stretch of no school ahead of me, one of my tasks to accomplish before Monday is to work on our Christmas cards. I'm having a hard time deciding. Color?
Black and White?
More than one image?
So many options! And not a ton of flattering pictures of me since I've been pregnant for most of 2010. This year we're going with cards from Shutterfly. They have more creative options than the Walgreen's cards we've gone with in the past. And we've never been disappointed in anything we've ever ordered from them.

From photo books...
...to cards...
...to calendars (quickly becoming a yearly traditional gift for grandparents.
(All pictures above are taken from previous Shutterfly orders.)

So what do you think? One image with my very pregnant belly so that Brennan is included? Multiple images that showcase the year (and my growing belly) including Brennan's ultrasound picture? Black and White? Color?

Good thing I have 5 days to figure this out. And it's okay if I don't make my deadline. I'm not a strict sticking-to-the-schedule/to-do list kind of girl at this point in my life. :-)

~Melody :-)

P.S. I'm getting some of these Shutterfly cards for free. If you're a blogger, you can too by clicking here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My First "Made for You" Mommy Present

I didn't get a chance to take pictures at yesterday's art class because the craft was a little involved-- and there were two of them! The first (on the right below) was a turkey made out of an egg carton. We painted it brown, glued on feathers, a beak, eyes, and a gobbler (you know the red thing that hangs down from their neck). The second (on the left below) was a turkey pin made out of construction paper, cardboard, and some glue-on jewels.
Cate had a blast making both and was so proud to give the pin to me. It's now affixed to my jacket. I love it! I love that she made it, did most of the work, and wanted to give it to mommy.
The kids also colored turkey pictures while they were waiting for their projects to dry. Cate continued to color hers at home. She is making such an effort to stay within the lines now. It's crazy. And I am so proud of how well she traces letters.
After art class yesterday, we headed to my grandma's (dad's mom) for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with my aunt, uncle, and cousin's daughter. They were visiting in town from Louisiana. One of my cousin's had to work and the other wasn't feeling well, but it was still fun to see my aunt and uncle and their granddaughter, whom I haven't seen since she was a baby. Cate had fun playing with her cousin (who is about 11 months younger than her) and I had fun watching them interact.
Not too bad for a Saturday. We spent most of today just relaxing around the house. A warm spell has hit our area sending temperatures to near 70 degrees. But Ol' Man Winter is lurking right around the corner as the temperatures are supposed to plunge by Thanksgiving.

~Melody :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

It Won't Be Long...

...before our family of 3 becomes a family of 4.

This week has kicked my behind in so many ways. It was the end of the grading trimester at school, I've had a cold for nearly two weeks, and my body is starting some early labor preparations (aka: Braxton Hicks contractions). All was well at an OB visit earlier this week...except I gained a little more weight than they'd like to see these last two weeks. I blamed the cold. It has made me feel like doing NOTHING for two weeks.

Thankfully, I only have 2 days of school next week and then a nice 5 day break for Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to sleeping (Eric is off for 4.5 of those same days), putting up our tree, reading, getting my hair cut, knitting, and trying not to eat too much (although I'm really not eating much lately because I'm just plain out of room).

But until next Wednesday arrives, I'm simply looking forward to art class tomorrow, a visit with some family that has come into town, and serving my last weekend in the nursery at church until after Brennan arrives and I'm back on my feet (I love those 7-12 month olds, but getting down on the floor with them is getting to be downright painful).

~Melody :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010


We've been having some sleep problems here lately. Yes, some are the result of Brennan's inconvenient position in the womb and the yucky 3rd trimester congestion. But, this is a post about another sleep problem. Namely, the almost 3 year old in our house. Who used to be such a good sleeper.

A few weeks ago we noticed it was taking her longer and longer to fall asleep. One of us usually lays down with her until she conks. What used to be a 10-15 minute snuggle session was turning into 60-90 minutes! She'd talk, sing, flop around, and just be restless. And that wasn't the bad part. The bad part was that she'd wake up again between 2 and 4 am and repeat the process-- coming to get one of us first.

We tried the whole Supernanny bedtime routine and it was literally a battle of wills. 3.5 hours into that we decided to nix it until we can afford to be running on less sleep (which no one in our house can do right now). So after talking to our pediatrician, reading in The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, (click title for link) and asking a few friends, we've come up with a sort of hybrid approach that seems to be working for now.

1. We realized that part of Cate's problem was then when she gave up her ookies (pacifiers) several weeks ago, it was like we had taken away the equivalent of a teddy bear or blankie for some kids. They were her security. So step one has been trying to get her reattached to something else. She's never shown a preference for anything, so we took her to Build-a-Bear where she picked out a dog to make. She enjoyed making him and named him Monster.
Not sure what's up with all of her weird faces. We've kind of been making a big deal about having Monster with her at home, especially at bed time and nap time. It's kind of working in combination with a couple of other things like...

2. A slightly later bedtime. I'd rather her stay up and play for an extra 30 minutes so that Eric and I can sit on the couch and catch up, than have one of lying in her room while she tries to get to sleep and we can't talk and catch up.

3. Letting her zone out to a favorite TV show for about 20 minutes before bed. I know the books say you shouldn't do this, but let's be real here. She watches an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba on the couch, in the dark, snuggled up against Mommy and Daddy, and then heads straight to bed, much more relaxed than before.

4. A playlist of relaxing music. We just tell her to be still and listen while she falls asleep. Usually it works.

5. Rewards for when she doesn't get up during the night to come and get one of us (usually Eric because he's a saint and knows lying in a twin bed with a restless toddler at 2am does not a happy mama make). Right now Cate likes those little GoGo's and Squinkies. Look 'em up if you're not sure what they are, but they're basically little (like miniature) monsters and people and animals. And you can get quite a few for cheap. She's only made it through one night the last 2 weeks where she has not come in to get us. But...

We're making progress. The combination of the above has led to one of us only needing to be with her for about 20 minutes before she falls asleep...often times less, on one occasion it was 45 minutes. But 20 is about average. And I'm okay with that. 20 minutes of one-on-one in bed snuggle time is great for her. And since she now has Monster, when she does get up in the middle of the night, it's usually a 10 minute process to get her back down. Eric reminds her to snuggle Monster, turns on the playlist, and he gets in bed with her for a few minutes and rubs her back; then she's out and he's back in bed with me.

Hopefully the middle of the night thing will stop soon. But if not, it won't be long before I'm up to breastfeed a munchkin anyway. I think Cate's weird 6th sense is just preparing us for sleep deprivation again. I shouldn't be complaining though. Things have gotten so much better lately and I'm grateful for any improvement.

~Melody :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Soooo Big!

Yes, my belly is getting pretty big. And it's getting pretty darn uncomfortable. That icky 3rd trimester stuffy nose has set in, just as it did with Cate. As a result, I'm not sleeping so well these days. But that's not what this post is about. This post is about my sweet girl: Earlier this week she went from drawing random scribbles on her Magna-Doodle to this:
Yeah, it's a bird. She drew it all by herself and then brought it to us to show us. She's just getting so big. Today at art class, she made a leaf painting: Not bad for a two-year-old huh? And since she finished a little early, she got some time to just draw. Cate can trace her name if you make dotted/dashed letters for her to follow. We're not quite to the point where she can just write the letters on her own yet...but I don't expect her to be there either. So she traced her name and drew some more of her round people and I was happy the entire morning we were there.
And it's crazy what she understands too. We've been talking at home and she's been talking some at church already about Christmas and baby Jesus. It was high time to buy the Little People Nativity set so we could take a hands-on approach to the story. The other night she had it set up like this (excuse the cell phone pic): I asked her what was going on and she said everyone was coming to see baby Jesus. I know, melt my heart.

Really, she's just getting so big. If it weren't for the fact that she's still in diapers (a whole other post as well...but rest assured, the pediatrician said it's normal for some kids to not be ready until they're 3), I'd say she was pretty much a preschooler and no longer a toddler. The whole diaper thing still makes her seem little to me.

And on a random note, I had a couple of big splurges recently. Okay, big probably isn't the word. Impractical maybe? You know, buying things you don't really need. But I couldn't resist this adorable bib and matching burp cloths from Brooklyn Bib Shop on Etsy:
The fabric in the middle of the bib is a map of the NYC subway. New York City is one of our favorite places to visit and is where we got engaged. Click here to read the story. Our little man will look adorable and will spit up in style. On the other end of his body he'll be sporting these:
My friend from college has these for her little guy and they are adorable. I couldn't resist getting them for Brennan. And when I found a local store that sold them so I wouldn't have to pay shipping to order them, the deal became even sweeter.

I think that's all the "big" news for now. 42 days until my actual due date. 35 until induction day (as long as I've started to dilate though).

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Last Weekend's Art Class

Last Saturday was busy for us. In addition to the big first haircut, Cate also had her second art class. This week, they started off with a story-- The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Next, they colored with markers on the cut-out bottoms of coffee filters.
They used water to "paint" the four circles and two antennae, which made the colors bleed. They also used water color paints on water color paper to make a background onto which they glued the caterpillar.
When it was all done, Cate had a caterpillar of her own to take home.
She's seems to be enjoying art class. And weirdly enough, I recognized her teacher the first time we went two weeks ago. However, I couldn't put my finger on where I knew her from. Turns out that she ran the Disney Marathon with Team in Training in January of 2007-- so...with me. We did a few training runs together, but she was usually just a bit faster.

~Melody :-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Even More Fall Fun

Wanna know what will entertain Cate for at least a good 45 minutes, if not a full hour every day?

First, get a rake. Second, rake all the leaves that you can into a big pile at the bottom of the slide. Third, allow Cate to slide into the pile.
I will agree that there are advantages and disadvantages to living in a nearly 100 year old house. Depending on how you look at it, nearly 100 year old trees (or probably even older than that) can be a disadvantage or an advantage. While I realize that many new neighborhood developments try to plan around existing greenery-- lots of fall leaves are a guarantee in our older neck of the woods.
I say it's an advantage (probably because taking care of the leaves is split about 70/30 between Eric and I and I am not on the 70 side). I think Cate would agree.
~Melody :-)

PS...Pictures taken before her haircut.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Haircut

Cate's hair has been out of control for quite some time now. Some days it's super curly all over and looks like a 'fro. Other days parts of it are curly, parts are only wavy, and still other parts are straight. She kind of has this part mohawk, part mullet thing going on. And every day she wakes up looking like Kramer from Seinfeld. While I don't think we'll take her regularly to a kids' haircut place (too expensive and they do the same thing you can do at Great Clips), we decided a kids' place was the best option for her first time. You can see how crazy her hair was pre-haircut.
She sat on a little playground animal frog while they cut her hair and wore a serious expression pretty much the entire time.
I did think it was creative on the part of the stylist to have Cate put stickers on the frog's head in order to get her to look down so the hair in the back could be trimmed.
She still wasn't too sure about the whole thing when she was done. But she didn't cry at all either.
I think she looked pretty cute! And I can't believe that it took almost 3 years of her life before she needed a haircut! Hopefully the trimming and shaping she got today will help her hair lie better on her head and help it grow in a little fuller. Still, knowing that the hair that got cut off was her baby hair-- those first locks that we waited FOREVER to come in-- was hard on mommy. We saved a cute little curl that I'll put in a picture frame with a picture of her at her first haircut for later. If her hair grows in okay, she probably won't need another trim and shape until spring.
~Melody :-)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trick or Treat

Sunday night Cate posed for a quick picture by the jack-o-lantern that Eric carved.
Then, armed with her jack-o-lantern flashlight from Nanny and Poppy, Cate headed out to trick or treat with Daddy while Mommy stayed home and passed out candy.
To be fair, Mommy did take Cate to Great Granny and Uncle Ed's house to trick or treat just before the actual trick or treat began. She also took Cate to the home of a coworker that lives up the street. Then Daddy took over and took Cate around our block. They came home with a lot of loot.
Cate's favorites so far are Tootsie Rolls, M & M's, Reese Pieces, and Kit Kats (one of Mommy's favorites too). Thankfully we only made it around one block and we managed to get rid of all of our candy (two bags). So we don't have a bunch of candy around the house...a good thing going into the holiday season.

~Melody :-)

PS...And on sort-of related note-- what was with all of the adults trick or treating? I realize we live in an urban area and so I've come to expect an adult or two that will shamelessly come up to the door and ask for candy because they're too cheap to just go buy some of their own. Something that probably doesn't happen in more suburban areas. But this year there seemed to be more adults than usual. And most weren't even dressed up. If you're going to trick-or-treat, at least go put on a costume and make an effort. I heard several "reasons" for the adult trick or treating too. "My kid is home sick," "I lost a bet so now I have to trick or treat," and pretending not to speak English (okay maybe they really didn't speak English)/not understand that adults don't trick or treat were just a few of my favorites. I was also semi-disappointed in the amount of kids we had show up that lacked a costume. Isn't the point of Halloween and trick or treating to get dressed up in a costume?