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

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Have an Instagram Problem (and a Rambling Problem)

I will be the first to admit that I probably don't use my iPhone to its full capabilities. There's probably a lot more that I could do with it-- a LOT more (and let's not even go there with what I could do were I actually allowed to hook it up to my work computer). Still, in the almost year that I've had it, I don't think I could ever go back to another phone. I love the Facebook app. And my Kindle app (which allows me to read my books when I'm without my Kindle-- at least while my eyes are still good enough for the small screen). I love various news apps-- some local channels and then NPR and The Week. Gas Buddy helps me find cheap gas. Key Ring freed up my actual key ring as all of my loyal shopper/reward cards are on my phone now instead. Pinterest is addicting. Pandora feeds my music love. And I love a good Word Jumble or Rush Hour puzzle. Words with Friends, Family Feud and Friends, Angry Birds, and Plants vs. Zombies round out my games.

However, one of my FAVORITE apps of all time is Instagram. I love that vintage look it gives my photos with so little effort on my part.
I hadn't been using it for awhile. It was almost as if I forgot it. But alas, over the weekend, my Instagram love was renewed. Above: our Sunday morning music. Below: a boy and his doggy. Brennan isn't walking yet, but will stand for several seconds without holding onto anything. He loves Zoey so much and I'm amazed at how playing gently and not pulling her fur is almost instinctual for him. Eric and I keep saying that we'll never get another dog after Zoey because dog ownership is just hard. But really, it's only hard about 5% of the time (like when we have to take her out on a leash in the rain because otherwise she won't go out or when we have to find someone to watch her when we go out of town). I'm pretty sure Brennan will talk us into another one someday. I know it's still two weeks until Valentine's Day, but Cate and I started making some for her classmates. I was afraid that with 16 classmates and 3 teachers to make cards for, that she'd get bored after a few. She actually made 8 before she was ready to just color and not make Valentines anymore. And yes, I do know that there are convenient boxed Valentines that she could just sign her name on and be done with. But we got a letter home from preschool encouraging us to make Valentines. On the bright side, it was a good excuse to use all of that scrapbook stuff collecting dust in the basement (especially since Shutterfly books are so much more convenient-- I don't think I'll "scrapbook" in the traditional sense again).
And speaking of Valentine's Day-- those $1 gel clings from Target have been amusing my kiddos for days. Thankfully it's been about 60 degrees out for the last few days which makes keeping the front door open to play with them okay (in normal January weather, that door stays shut tight).
I know that last picture wasn't Instagram, but it does show you just how warm it is. Earlier today we put on jackets, loaded the kids in the wagon, gave them each a book to look at (which occupied them each for about 5 minutes), and headed out for a walk. We found some pine cones down the street which actually amused them for the remainder of the walk. Brennan loved being able to face his big sis. I loved being able to take a walk in January without freezing.

Happy Tuesday!
~Melody :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Some Dates

Yesterday was my due date. With Cate. I remember that day coming and going and there being no sign of her arriving anytime soon. I wasn't dilated. I wasn't having contractions. It would be 9 more days before I would finally get to meet the little girl I had already named. The little girl I was already in love with. That little girl got her very own library card this week. She turns four a week from tomorrow. At our library, you can get a card when you can sign your name.
At Cate's age, she is allowed to check out three books at a time and thankfully, doesn't get a fine if they're late.
I love that my girl loves to read. Just like her mama. ;-)
Three months from today, I hit a kind of milestone birthday-- 30. I'm not freaked out about it. It's not sending me into some weird sort of crisis. I've had the advantage of watching quite a few friends pass this milestone before me. Some with quiet celebrations. Some with big parties or nights out on the town. I have no idea how I want to celebrate-- but I have three months to think about it. I'm thinking a pedicure or a massage would be nice. Lunch or dinner out with Eric and the kids. Graeter's Ice Cream for dessert. Maybe shopping for a new outfit-- splurging at a store I normally can't afford. Maybe some gathering of other family and friends. No presents, just their presence. Although I'd be totally okay if Eric got me some photography lessons. Or even one of the few books I want in print instead of on my Kindle.

The end of April is funny here in the Midwest. Some years I have been in shorts or a sundress. Others have been spent sipping hot chocolate and waiting for snow to melt. It will be interesting to see what it brings this year. Given our mild winter so far, I'm holding out for sunshine, but am prepared for a blizzard.

My 30th conveniently falls on a Saturday, so I don't have to worry about work. I'll have the day to mark my movement into another decade. It's weird to think that I traded the latter half of my twenties for toddlers...
...and that I'll be trading the latter half of my thirites for teens.

~Melody :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A House Guest, Painting Guitars, and Bad Shrimp

As soon as I walked in the door on Friday, my spirited, sweet girl nearly tackled me before I could get my wet shoes off. "Mommy, I got to bring home Mr. Bear. Mrs. Norris choosed me, Cate, to bring Mr. Bear home."

Mr. Bear is Cate's class' bear. The kids all get to take a turn bringing him home and then writing about their adventures with him in his book. Cate felt extra special since she got him for the weekend. And not just any weekend, but a weekend in which she was spending the night with Grandma and Poppy (Eric's parents). My mother-in-law arrived about 15 minutes later to pick up the kids, and Cate tackled her to tell her the news as well. We got the kids packed and loaded and enjoyed a quiet house before date night.

Date night was fabulous. We had a Groupon for a favorite local eatery and then we were meeting up with some friends at Cheers to Art, a local paint studio. If you've ever done pain-your-own-pottery, this is like that, only better. They had a date night special where the guys got to paint free. The painting of the evening was a guitar, which fit both us and our friends well as both guys LOVE to play guitar. We donned our aprons and sat before blank canvases.
They guided us every step of the way, playing awesome music while we painted (my favorite was when the whole room busted out to the chorus of "Sweet Caroline"), and slowly, our paintings took shape.
We made ours mirror images to hang together. We'll most likely put them above our bed (we even painted the side of the guitar that matched the side of the bed we sleep on-- and no, that wasn't planned) since the colors in the paintings match some of the colors in our bedroom.
Afterward, we had appetizers with our friends at a local pizza place. The ice storm that was predicted for the night was just starting as we said our goodbyes. Unfortunately, when we got home, Eric and I both had horrible stomachaches and nausea. While neither of us got sick, we felt pretty crappy the rest of the night and attributed to bad shrimp at the restaurant where we ate dinner (either that or bad ranch dressing since those were the only things we had that were the same). Needless to say, we took yesterday morning easy, waited for the ice from the storm to melt a little, and then headed to pick up the kids. Clearly they had fun.
Eric's step-dad is just really getting into digital photography. I'm envious of his awesome dSLR (not that I'm complaining about mine though). He used to do a lot of regular film photography-- weddings, senior pictures, etc. In fact, he took our engagement shots and wedding pictures. They turned out wonderfully. He had some fun with Cate, one of his backgrounds, and his new flash.
By last night, Eric and I were feeling pretty much 100% better. Cate worked on her Mr. Bear page for her class book.
We snuggled and watched a movie.
My boys read books-- Brennan has a few he is starting to prefer now.
Today has been pretty quiet since we got home from church. My sweet girl and handsome hubby are at the Children's Museum on a daddy-daughter date. Brennan is sound asleep and will hopefully stay that way for a bit so I can do a little knitting and reading in this quiet house. Once Cate and Eric return, I'm off to my typical Sunday early evening restorative yoga class-- a class that helps me feel so clear and focused and ready to start the work week.

I hope you all have had lovely weekends, too.

~Melody :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Jury Duty Made Me Thankful

Yesterday I was officially released from jury duty. In our county, jury duty lasts two weeks, but you don't have to go every day. Last Monday was my first day and was mostly orientation stuff. I didn't have to go last Tuesday, but did have to report on Wednesday and Thursday. Both of those days I pretty much sat in the juror waiting room (large room, a few TV's, free coffee, couches, chairs, and tables) until the court rooms cleared. Basically, the county has to have enough jurors in the waiting room to fill the jury should any case goes to trial that day. On average they call in 100-150 people per day. Once you get to the courthouse you wait. If your name gets called, you're going to be interviewed to be on a jury. If you get picked to be on the jury (they have to make sure you don't have any personal prejudices, know people on the case, etc.), then you stay in the courtroom and come back every day until the trial ends. If you don't get picked, you head back to the waiting room. My jury duty officially ends tomorrow, but they dismissed anyone who started last week, yesterday afternoon.

While I was kind of hoping to be on a trial-- mostly because I thought it would be interesting-- the "me time" I got in the waiting room was nice too. I knitted. I read. I wrote. I read and knitted some more. And I learned a few things despite never even going through the interview process (just luck of the draw, nothing I did or said).

1. I am thankful I have great friends. There were some women in the waiting room who would talk to anyone who would listen and who would give you every last intimate detail of their lives if you let them. I'm all for making small talk with strangers. And I don't doubt that some people make friends in the juror waiting room. But I think on some level, it takes someone who is a little lonely to reach out to people in a group of strangers. Strangers that don't have the best attitudes because, let's face it, not too many jurors want to be sitting there essentially doing nothing when they could be at home or at work doing something productive.

2. I am thankful we have good health care. I had no desire to mess with parking downtown, so I rode the bus. The express line stops at the end of our street during rush hour. It makes 2 or 3 more stops and then gets on the highway and heads straight downtown (as opposed to taking back roads the entire way as regular buses do). Two of the days Eric picked me up downtown when I was dismissed. One of the days though, he was in the middle of lunch time at home when I got dismissed. So I hopped on the bus home. As it wound its way out of downtown, a young mom with two kids got on. The older kid sat next to me. The mother sat with a baby on her lap across the aisle. The baby had a horrible sounding cough. The older sister fell asleep leaning on me. They got off in front of the city health clinic. While the clinic provides good health care, I'm thankful that I don't have to rely on it. And I'm thankful that when my kids are sick, I can put them in the car and head to the doctor instead of loading them onto a public bus and enduring cold stares from strangers who are probably dying to get home and sanitize their hands and wash their clothes after hearing that cough.

3. I am thankful I have hobbies. Some people just sat there. Doing nothing. I'm glad I know how to knit and that it's portable. I'm glad I enjoy reading. I'm glad I like to write. I'm thankful God gave those things to me to keep my hands and mind busy-- that He gave me those things for my enjoyment.

And so jury duty is over and we'll see how long it takes before I'm called for it again. Hopefully not anytime soon.

Tonight, my kids are playing a funny chase/crawl game in the hallway. They are learning to become friends. The age difference is still a struggle (Brennan doesn't have a lot of words to communicate, Cate doesn't like when Brennan "wrecks" her stuff), but I love the moments like this. The moments that tell me a year from now, a decade from now, they'll be friends. Oh, there will be moments when they're ready to kill one another, but they'll be friends. I have no fear that either of my kids will go looking for friendship in a disinterested juror waiting room .

~Melody :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Five Days Ago, 10 Years Ago

Five days or so ago-- last weekend and at the beginning of this week-- the weather was unseasonably warm-- weather I would've killed for this time last year when I was pretty much snowed in/rained in/cold-weathered in with a newborn and an almost 3 year old. It meant that we could walk to the park this week. Yes, in January.
We had some fun on the swings. Cate showed off her mad tight-rope walking skills.
Then the sun did this:And the moon did this:
So we walked home. Today, about 5 days later, the view from my front porch looks like this: Funny how quickly things change, huh? In fact, this made me think of how, 10 years ago around this time (I don't remember the exact date, nor do I feel like digging up my journal from that year to find it), my heart was breaking. A guy that I thought I was destined to be with forever dumped me. We had been together for a year and a half. I had a lot invested in that relationship. I was convinced I was doomed to be single forever. Little did I know, that about 6 weeks later I'd meet Eric for the first time and that by the end of the semester, we'd be dating. Little did I know that about 15 months after that horrible breakup, I'd be in Central Park in New York City with a man asking me to be his wife. Little did I know that 10 years post-breakup, I'd have built a marriage, bought a house, become a mom, and changed in so many ways. Funny how quickly things change, huh?

We don't always know what changes are coming. Some take time (like relationships) and some surprise us (like quickly plunging temperatures and rain that turns into snow and hopefully might mean a delay tomorrow morning). And sometimes change is just downright painful. But many times, in the end, the change is worth it.

~Melody :-)

PS...Speaking of change, weaning has gone smoothly. Brennan doesn't miss it at all and aside for feeling crappy for the first couple of days post-weaning, I'm starting to feel much better now. My kids need a mama who feels 100%, which trumped feeling 50% all the time just so I could feed Brennan a few ounces once a day. My body is still changing and adjusting-- it's been less than a week-- but once it adjusts, I'm looking forward to feeling GREAT!

Friday, January 6, 2012


Tonight is bittersweet. My sweet little man, now with 7 teeth (number 7 popped through today, and I have to tell you, with numbers 5-7 you wouldn't have even known he was teething-- he was that good), is growing up. And tonight is the last night I'll nurse him to sleep.

Truth be told, it's been several weeks coming. I hesitated to blog about all of this, but decided I would, mostly because I want any other woman going through something similar to know she is totally normal.

I blogged last month about how I really hadn't felt well since I'd had the flu at the beginning of November. A couple of different doctors ran lots of different tests and the conclusive result was that every unpleasant symptom-- from nausea to dizziness to insomnia to breaking out in a sweat to headaches-- was due to the hormonal changes of weaning. A weaning that went fast because of the dramatic decrease in milk supply brought about by the dehydration during the flu.

I've only been nursing before bed for about 3 weeks. Most of my symptoms have subsided and are manageable. So I decided to keep nursing before bed for as long as I could. Cue weird rash cropping up earlier this week. Yup, hormone related too. And that's pretty much when I knew. To feel totally normal again, I need to go easy on myself and give up the night nursing. And to be completely honest, he's really not all that interested in it either. Probably because there's not much there. We made it 11 months on breast milk as his only liquid nutrition (other than the formula supplements we had to give him in the hospital), he had morning and nights on mommy milk for most of December, and now, at two weeks past his first birthday, we're stopping for good. It was my own personal convictions that kept me going and I make no judgements on women that choose to nurse for longer periods of time, shorter periods of time, or not at all. Every woman is different.

I'm happy I was able to give him that much and I'm happy to get started on making a full recovery and feeling fully normal again (and not feel like my skin is crawling).

I'll leave you with a video of my cute little guy playing with the kitchen timer, which he couldn't decide if it was a phone or a teether (no small parts, promise). I love watching him play and pretend. That boy can "zoom" some cars, too! He's really starting to enter a fun stage of babyhood. That stage on the cusp of todderhood. He has his 1 year checkup on Monday and I'm hoping it shows a weight gain as well as brings some suggestions for helping with the gagging/tonsil issue (he still gags on chunky food, but since the antibiotic to reduce his tonsil swelling, he hasn't actually vomited).

I love my little man! Cheers to our last night!

~Melody :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome 2012

Despite it's ups and downs, 2011 was a pretty good year. And really, a lot of those things we thought were "downs" turned out to be blessings in disguise. We rang in the New Year quietly. My sister-in-law, her fiance, and her fiance's daughter came over for dinner (yes, in 2012 I get to become Aunt Melody to one adorable little girl-- the brother I'm gaining is pretty cool too). The soon-to-be cousins played and wore their matching jammies (thanks, Grandma) and made it up until midnight to see the ball drop.As if on cue, they both started to lose it about 5 minutes into the New Year. We said our goodbyes and Cate was asleep before her head hit the pillow. Little man had crashed at 9:30.
I had nursery duty at the 8:30AM service today. There were two of us working and two babies to rock. The rest of today will be spent playing with my kids, knitting a bit, attending a yoga class with a friend, and snuggling with my man after the kids are in bed (which will probably be early tonight). My husband has graciously let me sleep in most days during this break, but tomorrow I need to set my alarm to get up at least by 7, so that 5:15 doesn't quite hit me like a truck on Wednesday.

I have high hopes for 2012. It will be the year that Brennan will learn to walk and will transition into full on toddler-hood. It will be the year that Cate will go to school all 5 days (she'll do 5 half days starting in the fall). It will the year Eric and I will both turn 30 and begin a new decade. February 2012 will mark 10 years since we first met. The 2012-2013 school year will be my 9th-- my last year in single digits-- weird.

I'm keeping my resolutions simple again this year since that's what helped with my success in meeting last year's:
1. I'd like to once again branch out in my knitting and make something new. Eric bought me all of the fixin's to make these (expensive yarn included). I'm kind of obsessed with their cute-ness and retro-ness.

2. I want to really learn how to use my camera. I've had it for nearly 3 years and Photoshop Elements for nearly 2 and I'm not even close to using either to their full potentials. I've gotten great shots, mostly by luck, but I'd like to take a class on learning to use my camera and delve back into my PSE book to learn how to use it in editing. A friend of mine recommended this class, taught by a local woman, but all online so I don't have to physically drive to the class. I think it would make a lovely 30th birthday present, hint, hint, hubby.

3. I want to (and need to) unplug a little more. I love my iPhone and my Kindle and our Mac, but I love a good game of pretend with my kids or an afternoon at the park or a movie with my husband. And to be fully present in those things, I need to be fully unplugged-- not browsing Twitter or Facebook while I sort of watch the movie, not playing a word in Words with Friends while Cate waiting for Cate to find me when playing hide and seek at the park, not surfing the internet while Brennan plays with his toys next to me.

4. And once again, I want to continue to grow and cultivate my faith. I experienced such growth last year and I want it to continue. I'm thirsty for more. I'm hungry to be closer to God. This isn't something that's always come easy to me. I don't always want to get out of bed and go to church. I don't always want to be in community with others. I don't always feel like praying. But I know those things help me grow and I will continue to pursue those things as I grow in faith.

New Year blessings to you all. I hope 2012 is wonderful!

~Melody :-)