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

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Inspiration Workshop

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!
Trying a new blog event today-- the inspiration workshop with Gussy Sews (you must check out her blog and her shop). I so want one of her totes (hint, hint hubby since I know you read here). Maybe a back to school/end of maternity leave present?

Anyway, the inspiration workshop is all about finding and sharing inspiration while meeting other bloggers. She even gives you almost a whole week to think about the prompt. Today's prompt-- handmade.

I grew up wearing a lot of clothes handmade by both my grandmother (dad's mom) and my mom (who actually started learning how to sew when she took my dad's mom's class in high school-- my grandma was a home-ec/sewing teacher). I've loved crafty things since I was a kid and I'm not too shabby when it comes to unleashing my inner creative beast and crafting some things. I've made Cate several cute dresses/skirts, like this one:

I managed to sew this apron together for myself (I love aprons and this was an easy kit from JoAnn's--incidentally JoAnn's headquarters is pretty much in my parents' backyard; I can walk there; I used to nanny in the summers for a JoAnn's buyer):
And I knit Brennan's baby blanket: A quick click on the sewing or knitting category on the left of this blog will give you a taste of a few of my other creations. But I can't do (or make it all). Here are some other handmade things I find inspiring:

These cars are from the Etsy shop, Birdy Boots. I actually already ordered a truck, tractor, and helicopter for Brennan from their shop. He'll get them on his birthday.

And when he gets older, I totally plan to make him this:

I want to make my sweet girl a memory game (a use for my fabric scraps):

And I can use my ribbon scraps to make these (fun for back to school):
I weirdly collect stickers off of the produce we buy (if it's cool looking and doesn't have a barcode). I think I need to make this to store them in:
I so love this idea-- making a little mini-scrap book using a deck of cards as the base:

Now it's just finding the time to get creative and get my handmade juices flowing. Looking forward to finding even more inspiration through today's linky party. Head on over for some inspiration.

We had a blast in Pittsburgh with my friend, Jenn, yesterday. My animal lovin' girl seriously enjoyed feeding birds at the National Aviary and was crackin' up over the penguins. Pics to come soon.


A Day at the Lake

It's been quiet around this blog because we've quietly been enjoying some time away from home. While on maternity leave, I'm still coaching our school's Power of the Pen team. It has been a nice way to stay "in the loop" and use my teacher brain before school starts again in August. The state tournament was on Friday, about an hour away from my parents' home. Our team didn't place in the top 5 (which are the only ones they announce), so we won't know how we did overall for a few weeks. But, we did have an 8th grader place 13th and a 7th grader place 10th. Not too shabby. Being only an hour from my parents' home, we decided to make a weekend of it all.

We enjoyed Saturday brunch at my Aunt's house before my cousin's high school graduation. Sunday got hot and we decided it was high time to introduce the kids to Lake Erie. We're not going on our typical beach vacation this year as the thought of driving 10ish hours with a 5 month old is not high on my bucket list (or on it at all for that matter). He eats every 3 or 4 hours during the day. It takes him a good half hour or so to eat and get changed. A 10 hour drive would quickly become a 15 hour one with all the stopping we'd do to feed him (not to mention our fairly newly potty-trained girl). Still, it was a beach.

The water was cold, but the sand felt great. Little man didn't mind having it between his toes. Cate enjoyed splashing around and hunting for rocks. We had to be careful though-- the recent downpours of rain left higher than normal levels of bacteria in the water. Thankfully, it didn't affect any of us.

The sunshine peeked out through pockets in the clouds, which meant no one got sunburned either. It could not have been a more perfect day to head up to the lake. We're hoping that on future visits to my parents we can head to the lake some more. Maybe when the water isn't so gross or cold and we can dip our whole bodies in.

Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all who serve. Pictures from our morning parade experience coming soon.

~Melody :-)

PS...Sunday also brought a milestone for my little man. He rolled over-- tummy to back for the first time!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Life and Death

Explaining life to Cate was easy: I had a c-section with Brennan and so she assumes that's how all babies get here. She's three. I don't care to get more technical than that for now. She's seen my scar and is quick to point out that "that's how the doctor got Brennan out." When she's a little bit older, we'll give her the real low down on how babies get here.

Death is a whole other story. About 3 months ago we attended the calling hours for my cousins' grandmother (not a grandmother we share). The casket was open. Cate asked me what the lady was doing "in that box." I had to make a decision in that moment-- go "there" with the whole death thing OR say she's just sleeping. I chose the latter. I realize some mothers may judge me for that, but hear me out. Cate had only seen this woman on one other occasion. No one we are close to has passed away (thankfully) since Cate's birth so we haven't needed to have this conversation. Telling her that my cousins' grandmother was asleep satisfied her curiosity and we were able to move on. Our shared grandmother tried to step in and told Cate, "no, she's dead" (not kidding, that's how she said it), but we kind of walked away and reinforced the sleeping thing.

(ETA: After reading a few of the comments on this post, I should point out that we did not equate sleeping with death as in "she's dead, it's like being asleep." We described my cousin's grandmother as sleeping because that's what she looked like and it seemed good enough for Cate-- she never asked anyone about it again. BUT I'm glad a commenter pointed out that you have to be careful with the whole death and sleeping thing so as to not make kids afraid to fall asleep at night).

Then came Easter. We started talking to Cate a little more about death because of Christ's resurrection. She didn't really "get it," but she didn't ask a lot of questions either.

Then came the bird. My girl has a bleeding heart for animals. She loves her dog, cat, and fish. She loves other people's dogs and cats. She loves the zoo. Heck, when we went downtown last week for lunch she shared half of hers with the pigeons (they like hot dog buns and shredded cheese).But before we went downtown, we were getting in the car. And she picked up a dead bird that was on our driveway. We didn't know she had picked it up, but she was cradling it and brought it to us and asked us what was wrong with it. After disposing of the bird and thoroughly sanitizing her hands, we tried again to explain what death meant. Again, we don't think she really got it, but she did tell people that she found a bird and "it was dead because it flew too fast and it's heart stopped." FYI: We didn't tell her that it flew too fast-- not sure where that came from.

I lost one of my grandfathers before I was two, so I don't remember him. My mom tells me I told her that he had gone "night night" after seeing him at the calling hours. The next close relative I lost wasn't until 5th grade, when I clearly understood what it meant to die.

So how do you do it? How do you explain the whole life and death thing to a three year old? Or do you? I don't feel like we did a very adequate job in any of the above instances. And I know our pets aren't getting any younger (and not to be morbid, but neither are some of the elderly members of our family).

~Melody :-)

Pouring my heart out with Shell today.

PS...We're coming up on some busy times. It might be a little quiet around here with just a post or two over the next couple of weeks. I promise we're all okay. And while I'd love to tell you we're going on vacation to somewhere cool, the reality is, we're just plain old busy.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Five months ago, Eric, my OB, and I decided it was time to cut Brennan out. He was stuck and inside my body was no longer the safest place for him.
And now my big guy is eating cereal and apples and pears (pears were new this week, and so much fun to make...seriously). He LOVED the pears when he tried them for the first time yesterday!
He tries really hard to eat Mum-Mums too. He likes them when he gets them in his mouth. Sometimes he misses though since his hand-eye coordination is a work in progress. Then he just gets ticked because he's poking himself in the eye or jabbing his nose.
But mostly, he likes them.

He's turning into quite a hunk. I hope he doesn't break too many hearts one day.
He charms just about everyone with his smile.
Even his big sister, who really is quite in love with him now.
Happy Five Months to the only man other than Eric to completely steal my heart!

~Melody :-)

Side note: We had a tornado warning here tonight and some bad thunderstorms. My dog hates storms. She hid here:
That's right...climbed by herself onto the kids' toy shelf and is still there now even though the storm has passed. Weirdo.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Baby Pro

Meet my new friend, the Baby Pro babyfood maker. A fabulous gift from my mother in law.
This bad boy steams and purees fruits and veggies all in one convenient place. It makes making baby food easy. I've been itching to use it, but I don't want to wish away Brennan's babyhood either. Alas, he is turning 5 months old on Monday. So now that he seems to have cereal down, we decided to try apples. First though, I got him a new bib. Appropriate, no?
Although I think if it said "co-star" it would be better. Anyway, Monday night I peeled two apples (sweet, organic, Fuji's) and diced them up into 1/2 inch (approximately) cubes. I stuck the cubes in the steamer part after adding water and waited for the light to go off. After that, I transferred the now soft apples into the processor, pushed another button, and it pureed them to a nice little apple sauce. It was enough to fill an ice cube tray. I froze the cubes (it was late so I wasn't going to attempt to feed any to B that night) and decided we'd try apples the next day. So on Tuesday we did.
He wasn't too sure of them, but ate an ice-cube sized (thawed, of course) portion. Not much ended up on his bib-- which is great!
Wednesday he moved onto two ice-cube sized portions and liked them so much better. This weekend, I'm making pears.

And in co-star news, it's been gross here again so we're stuck inside. But Cate got to paint a puzzle.
That picture is deceiving though. We've actually been in long sleeves and pants this week. Cate just happened to have a tank top on at one point since the heat is back on at our house.

It turned out like this and is now her favorite puzzle to do.
Happy Weekend! Our sun is supposed to come back. Woo hoo!

~Melody :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If Only Part 2

Yesterday's post got me thinking about 2 things:
1.) Based on a few comments and emails, it seems like a lot of people around my age have some sort of debt they are working to pay off. Eric and I joked that paying off the mountain of debt was like a rite of passage. But in all seriousness, it shouldn't be. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that we, like a lot of our peers, felt some sort of weird sense of entitlement post-college. Entitlement to a lifestyle like the one we had when we were still in our parents' "nest." So we took on car payments and rent payments (in neighborhoods that were desirable and expensive) in addition to our student loan payments, and our paychecks may have covered those expenses, but we felt entitled to clothes and dinners out and movies on weekends, etc. Living in a smaller apartment or a different (cheaper) neighborhood, making the cars we had work for us, and saving up for the clothes, movies, and dinners out instead of charging them would have made our mountain into a molehill. Or maybe it would have made it disappear. Who knows? And yes, I do realize that not everyone gets into debt because they feel they need certain luxuries. Sometimes we accrue debt out of necessity-- because we have medical bills to pay or groceries to buy during a time of unemployment, or other uncontrollable circumstances. I'm talking mostly about debt I chose to take on for no other reason than I wanted certain "things" though. But there is no point in wallowing in regret and instead we go forward and let it be a lesson. Which brings me to the second thing I thought about:

2.) The movie Sliding Doors. If you haven't seen it, the essential premise follows the main character through two realities. In one, she misses her train home and takes a cab instead. In the the other, she catches the train. In one, she catches her husband in the midst of an affair. In the other, she just misses walking in on that. And while I won't tell you exactly what happens as the two realities play out, in the end, she ends up in pretty much the same place. I'm not a "fate" kind of person. But I really do think I probably would be in pretty much the same place I'm in now whether or not I would've fallen for the first credit card offer to come in the mail when I was 18. Maybe we would've made more of a down payment on our house if we didn't have to dedicate a portion of our income to paying off debt. Maybe we wouldn't have a car payment now. Maybe my student loan would be paid off already. Maybe we'd have our kitchen remodeled. Those are nice maybe's, but I'm happy with where I am now. And I'm pretty sure I'd be in pretty much the same place no matter what. A place I wouldn't trade for anything-- even erasing my "if only."

~Melody :-)

Also, if you've ever wondered what happens when you put a top rack item in the bottom rack of the dishwasher, here's what happens:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

If Only

Today's topic is one I hesitated to blog about mostly because it's embarrassing. But the more conversations I have with people and the more blogs I read, I realize I'm not the only one. Linking up with Shell today.

While I'm not one to dwell on past events or regret things (frankly, I find it a waste of time to sit around thinking "if only" although sometimes it's necessary if we want to learn from our past), there is one thing that I sometimes wonder "if only I had done things differently."

IF ONLY I hadn't signed up for that darned credit card with it's 20ish % interest and $200 limit and shiny Starry Night print on the front when I was 18. Because with that card, I learned to use credit and got in the habit of buying things I couldn't necessarily afford. I'd run up the card, work hard to pay it off, and then run it back up again. The limit always increasing because I was the credit card company's dream with all the interest I was paying.

This spend, pay off, repeat cycle continued for 7 years and was something I brought into my marriage. In 2007, my husband and I decided we were done with credit cards. We cut them up, made a plan to pay them off, and promised we'd close the accounts once they were paid off. We started attending a new church in the summer of 2008 and in the fall of 2008, we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course through our church. While we don't religiously follow all of Dave Ramsey's advice , we have found most of his principles to work for us.

It's been so liberating to pay cash for everything-- from the not fun stuff like car repairs and our roof (the deductible) to fun stuff like vacations and books and even my iPhone. Don't misunderstand me though, we're not "stuff" people. I hate clutter. And paying cash for everything has meant that we have a lot less "stuff" because we don't buy what we can't afford (or we sell things we're done with to pay for new things we want/need or we just give stuff away because there are so many people in need). We're down to our mortgage, one car payment, and my student loan (which is under 15K now and wasn't all that large to begin with). I'm not against credit. Just against irresponsible credit use.

So sometimes I let myself go "there." Go to the place where I wonder where we'd be if I hadn't signed up for that stupid card. If I'd started paying cash from the beginning instead of using credit irresponsibly to purchase things I couldn't afford and didn't need. I'm happy with where we are now for sure. And our plan at the moment is to continue saving (we want a nice 10 year anniversary trip in 3 years and a nice trip to Disney for the kids around that same time-- they'll be old enough to remember it but young enough for it to be "magical"). In a few years we'll be deciding if we want to put an addition on this house or purchase a new one, but either way, we want to pay off our home before Cate starts college (a realistic goal since we bought at the bottom of our price range and will do so again if we decide to buy a new house). But I wonder if maybe that Disney trip money would already be in the bank or if we'd be able to start an addition on our house right now "if only."

What about you? Do you have that one "if only" wandering around in your mind?

~Melody :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tiny Dancer

The dance recital Saturday was fabulous. Friday night I just kept praying that Cate would simply be true to herself and have fun. She still did her own thing on stage and she delighted the audience. At times her "thing" looked like the dance the rest of the girls were attempting to do (a few froze in front of an actual audience). Even her teacher said that Cate did better than she thought she would. I am one proud mama! My heart swelled as I gave her a hug and some flowers (now in a vase in her room) after the final curtain call with all of the dancers (picture blurry because it was with my phone). I refused to watch her recital through any sort of lens-- video or camera. Cate keeps asking when she can dance again. We're taking a break for the summer, but if she's still asking in the fall, we'll give it another go.

I'll post a video when I can and if I can. My cousin and Eric's stepdad both took videos and we ordered a DVD so I'm hoping one of those will find a way to transfer here somehow, even if it's through YouTube. You'll crack up, I promise. But you'll be proud too.

~Melody :-)

And in case you were wondering...she gets her mad dance moves from her mommy.
(me, at my first recital when I was 3.5)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot

There's a joke in the Midwest that if you don't like the weather, wait an hour and it will change. Last week, we were in long sleeves. And it was raining. This week? Three days of temperatures near 90. So we got the Step 2 pool we inherited last summer out of the garage and holy cow does my sweet girl love it!
We ate lunch poolside all three days.
And played some more.
Mommy wore her new bathing suit (one of the first bathing suits that I've really enjoyed wearing b/c I look good in it) and sun hat (a Mother's Day gift from my kiddos).
Little Man dipped his toes in on day one.
On day two of hot temperatures and pool fun, Brennan put on his full trunks/shirt/hat outfit.I blew up Cate's old baby float for him:
And I was quickly reminded of how alike my kids look b/c here's Cate at 4 months old in the same float. I also tried out my new mesh sling. I bought it for the pool we joined this summer (which opens in a few weeks), but wanted to make sure it was easy to put on. I want to be able to have my hands free when we're in the water in case Cate needs some help. It has zero lumbar support, BUT it is mesh and will dry quickly, so I can wear it in the water. It'll also be good on hot days when Brennan wants to be worn but the Boba or Moby are too hot. Although, given that it has no back support, I won't be able to wear him long in this when we're out of the water. No biggie though. Brennan clearly thinks it's a winner.We got a third day of swimming in today before we had to hastily put it all away as a thunderstorm blew in late this afternoon. We're supposed to have off and on showers and storms all weekend. Next week it'll be mid-high 60s and sunny. Perfect late spring weather. Not hot enough for the pool but perfect for the zoo and the park.

Tomorrow is Cate's recital. I'm both nervous and excited for my girl. I know she'll do her own thing when she gets out there, but that's her spirit and there's no sense in trying to quell it. As long as she's having fun that's all I care about.

~Melody :-)

I apologize that some of these pictures are of poorer quality than others. I had my camera out for a bit, then I took it inside so it wouldn't get hot. Then I took some with my iPhone, but I had to take it inside when it got hot. So you know....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Have THAT Kid

I'm linking up with Shell today to tell you about how yes, I have THAT kid.

Cate started dance class in February. She loved to dance around the house and we thought she'd like the class. Plus, it was a way for me to get out of the house once a week while on maternity leave. We've had kind of a love/hate relationship ever since. Some weeks Cate enjoys going and does what she's supposed to do (for the most part). Other weeks Cate tells me she doesn't want to go or will go and do what she's supposed to for the first 20 minutes and spend the last 40 in her own little world. It's important to note though, that she's the youngest in her class and her class has about 15 girls in it. From what I've gathered from the other moms in the parent waiting area each week, most of the girls, if not all, are in preschool or kindergarten. So they know how to listen and work with a large group of their peers. Cate won't start preschool until the fall. I think this alone explains so much.

Anyway, her recital is this weekend. She's stoked to get to be up on stage. We had the run through on Monday night and tonight is the dress rehearsal. The run through can be summed up in two words= hilarious chaos. While the other girls had moments of stopping their dancing to wave and call out to their parents, Cate just plain did her own thing the whole time she was on stage. While the video below is pretty crappy, you get the idea. She's the one not doing anything the other girls are doing.

My first reaction was that it was funny and cute. The other parents were laughing and smiling as they witnessed the pure joy Cate experienced as she performed on stage. But then I began to over-think the whole thing. Will Cate's dancing going to ruin the other parents' enjoyment of the recital? What if they don't think it's cute and think it's annoying? The other parents must think we don't discipline or anything at home because Cate is sure not listening or doing what she's supposed to be doing.

It's all in my head. I know this. I grew up in a church with children's choirs and loved it when THAT kid waved to mom and dad and called out to them instead of singing. I don't want to squish her spirit. I just hope the other parents find it as endearing as I do.

At the end of it all, come Saturday, we'll be taking a summer hiatus from dance, even though a summer session is offered. We're not big believers in over-scheduling our kids, on having a different activity for each night of the week. Cate will be taking swim lessons this summer because I at least want her to learn how to hold her breath and get herself out of trouble if she ends up face first in the water this summer. And we're considering a one week long soccer/basketball camp where they just do little drills and play little games as they learn the fundamentals for an hour a day. We want to expose Cate to some different things, but ultimately let her choose what she wants to do. In the fall, if she wants to do dance again, we'll revisit it. If something else catches her fancy, then we'll pursue that. No matter what, THAT kid is mine.

~Melody :-)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Skipping Spring and other Random Musings

I feel like the last couple of years here in the Midwest, we've just skipped spring altogether. We go from cold and fleece to hot and sweaty. I'm washing sweaters and shorts in the same load of laundry. We have our moments of spring-- the temperatures in the 50s and 60s--but mostly it seems like we go from the 30s to the 80s with the blink of an eye. But this isn't a post about the weather.

It's a post about how I have a couple of pictures from Mother's Day to share. This was from the day before Mother's Day. We went to a brunch at my grandmother's (dad's mom) church. My mom's mom was also able to attend.My dad started helping her get her deck furniture out, so we snapped a quick picture there too.
My sister drove down to Cincinnati yesterday morning and joined my grandmother's, parents, Eric, the kids, and I at the bistro for lunch. She stayed with us last night. We went to see Something Borrowed while my awesome husband stayed with the kids. This morning we went to the zoo. Cate loved having her Aunt Catherine to play with at the zoo.
They watched a few of the animals, like the polar bears.
We saw the baby giraffe again. But mostly, my sweet girl just wanted to ride the carousel...
...and show her little brother how to ride the carousel (his first ride, we actually sat in a stationary cart in front of Cate's bald eagle).
Catherine and Cate went to see The Wizard of Oz 4-D show (it's only 16 minutes long) while I nursed Brennan. Cate liked the special glasses she had to wear. And no trip to the zoo during the warm weather would be complete without a ride on the train. Catherine and Cate shared the train ride together: While they were on the train, I simply lost myself in this boy's blue, blue, eyes:
It's weekends like these when I'm thankful that our out-of-town family isn't too far out of town. A four hour car ride is all it takes to get to my parents, brother, and sister (or for them to come to us). It was so nice to visit with my mom and with my sister and know I'll get to do so again when they're hear next weekend for Cate's dance recital. My parents are in a sort of long-waiting-for-the-housing-market-to-pick-up process of moving to Cincinnati. Hopefully they'll be here in the next couple of years. And my sister is hoping to move here after she graduates college. Now we just need to work on my brother. :-) In all seriousness though, it will be nice to have them here along with Eric's family, who already lives in town.

Happy Summer since it appears we're skipping spring again (it hit almost 80 today and will be above 80 tomorrow).

~Melody :-)