Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Project Life (Mar. 22-28)

Monday 3/22: Kate's new favorite food is blueberries. She downs them by the handful. Here, Kate and Daddy share an after-dinner snack. (We had pasta for dinner, and her sweater got really messy... thus the topless baby.)Tuesday 3/23: Grandpa died today. Mom called with the news while I was giving Kate a bath. After putting her to bed, I desperately wanted to find something connected to him--something he'd given me or that somehow related to him. Like many families, though, it's the women that buy the gifts, and I couldn't think of anything I really associated with him. Then I remembered the state quarters collection he and Nana gave me for Christmas. I remember he started collecting them when the U.S. Mint started the series in 1999, and it turned out he'd been collecting several sets--one for each of the granddaughters--and gave them to us in 2009 when the series was complete.
Wednesday 3/24: Matt and I had a nice, quiet evening together playing Scene It? I finally won one game! He knows so much more pop culture trivia than me!
Thursday 3/25: I worked a half day and then we drove up to Louisville for the funeral. We watched Butler play in the Sweet Sixteen and beat Syracuse to advance to the Elite Eight! (Saturday, they won again and are in the Final Four for the first time! Matt is over the moon, as you can imagine, it being his undergrad alma mater and all.) You can sort of see in this pic that Kate was wearing her "I love Grandpa" bib. It's generally intended as a sentiment for her grandfather, but this weekend it was all about my Grandpa, and we really celebrated him.
Friday 3/26: After helping Mom get things together to host the post-funeral lunch, we all went to the funeral home for the visitation. Beforehand, Nana said "I don't know what friends will come. They're all dead!" (She's so matter-of-fact about things, and it's true, when you're in your nineties!!) But, in addition to Grandpa's kids and grandkids and great-granddaughter, Kate (the other great-grandkids were left at home in Ohio and Illinois) there were actually tons of visitors. My dad's relatives all came, as did Mom and Dad's friends from church and their other activities. It was great to see so many of our family and friends, and I actually lost my voice from all the meeting and greeting! After the visitation, the family went out for dinner. Here's Nana and Kate, with her cheek stuffed full of yummy yeast roll. Saturday 3/27: We laid Grandpa to rest today with a lovely memorial service conducted by Matt and my cousin Becky, a Disciples of Christ minister. Some of our relatives on Grandpa's side came down from Ohio for the small service--one of his two remaining sisters, and several of my mom's cousins. Becky talked about Grandpa's "good death," which I will write about later this week. Some of the photos on display included his Navy portrait (ca. 1934).
Sunday 3/28: Home again, we ushered in Holy Week with Palm Sunday at church. (Kate had a fit and had to bow out of processing in with a palm with the other children!) I decorated for Easter and dyed eggs in the evening. After a week focused on Grandpa's death and new life in heaven, we now look forward to a week focused on Jesus' death and resurrection as well.

If you're visiting from The Mom Creative, welcome and please come back!
And if you're a regular here, check out other people's Project Life pics here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Body is Revolting

Not in the adjectival sense (I hope!) but rather it feels like my body is revolting against me lately. Since I stopped breastfeeding (pumping) two months ago, various changes have been taking place. I suppose this is to be expected, since the body does crazy things when you become pregnant, then when you give birth and start lactating, but it seems surprising and frustrating now; I guess because this is the time when things are supposed to be “getting back to normal.”

First off, the boob situation. I’m not going to go into huge detail about this, but suffice it to say that I thought all the rumors were untrue and that somehow the way of all womanhood (and the way of gravity) would not apply to me. I was wrong. This old post from my friend Amy’s blog keeps coming to mind. (sigh.)

Next, I noticed that my skin was breaking out more. Stupid hormones.

Third, my restless legs have returned. I suffered for years from Restless Leg Syndrome (aren’t you glad the pharmaceutical companies finally gave us a name for it?) but noticed at some point during the last year that I hadn’t experienced it lately--like since giving birth. This might be a stretch, but I know muscle aches are sometimes caused by lactic acid pooling in the muscles, and my lactose has been focused elsewhere for the past year. Sound plausible?

On top of it all, I've just plain felt like crap half the time for the past few weeks.

Then again, the only baby weight I'm carrying around goes to day care three days a week, so maybe I'll just channel what you're probably thinking right now and shut up about it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Squalor

I have vowed to purge the word from my vocabulary: squalor.

It is my word of choice whenever I am getting overwhelmed by the clutter in our house, when I am frustrated by the cracks in the sink where mildew breeds or the gap in the back door through which creepy-crawlies enter, or in those fleeting moments when I think my mom might be right and I need to clean more.

But I'm always aware (or at least I try to be) how good I have it compared to the conditions in which many people live, both around the world and even in America.

And thanks to the Compassion Bloggers who were recently in Kenya, I feel like I have now seen real squalor, and I want to never again make light of those impoverished conditions by likening my palatial abode to the homes of mud and tin lining streets of sewage in places like the Mathare Valley--a slum near Nairobi.

I cannot imagine this being my neighborhood. As one blogger on the trip said "There wasn't just sewage in the streets. The streets were sewage." Kristen Welch (with whose permission I use these photos) described it as a hell hole--dark and oppressive, dangerous, sick, rank, the unliveable "home" of countless orphans, plagued with horrific violence, drug use, exploitation, and alcoholism. Read her full post from that day here. I may complain of a little dirt in my home. These homes are made of dirt. The teenage boy who lives in this home (about the size of a walk-in closet) has been an orphan for ten years. He cares for his younger brother, walks an hour and a half to school, and does his homework by the light of a kerosene lamp. The Compassion project in this slum gave him a job and is helping him to have a better future. Kristen described the project as a haven of safety and hope amidst these horrid conditions. It was amazing to follow Kristen's journey in Kenya and see how child sponsorship through organizations like Compassion and WorldVision really does make a difference in these children's lives. Only $38 a month can give these kids life, health, education, and hope.
I try not to take what I have for granted. Envy is a real temptation for me as I see people (often via the blog-world) with bigger homes than me, nicer furniture and decor, or at least homes they have chosen for themselves. I battle that temptation and desperately need reminding that, though no virtue of my own, I was born into a life where I've always had more than enough. Through no fault of their own, billions were born into lives of poverty.

I don't know what real squalor is.

But I know my home is not it.

(I hope my mom remembers that next time she visits. )

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Less Words Wednesday--Grandpa

I'm glad he got to meet her.And she got to meet him.And now she'll know How special he thought she was.

video

My Grandpa died yesterday at the age of 95 1/2. I didn't want him to go.

That's what I keep saying, through the tears. I know there should be a "yet" on that statement, since he had to go sometime, and given his age, probably sometime soon, but I just wasn't ready for him to go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Project Life (Mar. 15-21)

We had a pretty fun week, even though it ended with a double eye infection for Kate (yuck!)

Monday 3/15: Kate has fun playing on our bed, but her penchant for flinging her body forward with little warning requires a close watch from Mommy and Daddy. She giggled like crazy falling back on our pillows.Tuesday 3/16: I have been bizarrely excited about filling out the census form. So, dork that I am, I was very excited to see that it arrived!! Naturally, I filled it out that very night and sent it back the next day. After all, "they can't move forward till we send it back"! ;0)
Wednesday 3/17: St. Patrick's Day!! We all wore green and Kate brought home a construction paper shamrock from school. Read more about the day and see many more delightfully green photos here.
Thursday 3/18: Round One of the NCAA men's basketball tournament started today, and it was also a Daddy-Daughter Day, so Matt and Kate had lots of fun watching games and playing with Kate's new basketball goal. We all filled out brackets (even Kate) and have enjoyed watching these crazy upsets all weekend! We love March Madness!
Friday 3/18: Spring is close at hand! With the time change, it is now still light and beautiful when I get home from work. Since I had to leave work early on Friday to get poor goopy-eyed Kate from day care, I worked a while at home out on the sun-drenched front porch. Just heavenly.
Saturday 3/20: Kate and I went to a "red" baby shower with ladies from church. Two baby cousins named Ruby and Scarlett were born a week apart back in October, and we had a party to celebrate them. All the guests wore red, and we ate an amazing red velvet cake. It was a really fun alternative to the typical pastel pink and blue shower!
Sunday 3/21: Kate loves fruit, and I love sharing afternoon snacks with her. When we share an apple, I cut pieces off the whole fruit with a knife, then scrape some of the inner fruit out for her and eat the skin-side fruit myself. This time, however, she picked up the whole fruit while I was slicing up her piece and started eating straight off the piece! I figured she would get tired of it quickly, but she ended up eating almost the entire apple by herself, big-girl style! Those new teeth really do come in handy!
If you're just visiting for Project Life Tuesday, I recently posted pics of how I'm using the Becky Higgins Project Life kit even though I'm not scrapping all 365 photos. Check it out here!



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some Scrapbook Pages

My dining room table is perpetually covered in scrapbook supplies and half-finished pages. I really should have a dinner party at least once a month to force myself to clean it up. But hey, I think I'm putting it to good use because I really love this memory-keeping craft. Here's a few things I've done recently:

I've struggled for over a month on Kate's birthday party pages. They're difficult because we took so many pictures, and even with them narrowed way down, there were still a lot of photos I wanted to work in. Picking the papers were easy, though, since they were part of the same coordinated package of papers I used to make the invitations, flag banners, party hat, etc. for the party. I made a little miniature version of the flag banner for the page. I love that little element, though the spread is kind of crazy, overall. And that's not even all the birthday pictures I scrapbooked--there are other pages with messy-face cake pictures, a family photo and letter to Kate, etc.
I love this page about Kate's Halloween costume. I actually bought those little monkey and banana embellishments before she was born, for some little albums I made for the grandparents-to-be, but I liked them so much I kept them for myself!

Like Kate's birthday, Christmas was difficult to scrabook because of the sheer number of pictures, but with a collage/mosaic style, this spread gives a quick snapshot of our holday.
I had fun with this page documenting Kate's giraffes that she loves to carry around. The original Raffi was a gift from Kate's aunt and uncle, and she loved it so much that we got Raffi II (which stays at school for naptime) and Raffi III (which lives at Granna and Opa's). Then, for Christmas, she got another plush giraffe, so I named it Giri (Giri and Raffi...) and Kate likes to carry them both around as she plays. She also has a giraffe ride-on toy.

The giraffe embellishment on the page was on a cute birthday card Kate got--it worked perfectly!!I mentioned a couple weeks ago in Project Life that I finally bought the Project Life Kit, with its divided page protectors and cool journaling cards. As I said then, I don't intend to use them for all 365 daily photos, but rather for special clusters of photos that I want to feature in my album without creating a traditional scrapbook page.
I made one scrapbook page with three pics from Kate's 9-month photo shoot, and wanted to include more but couldn't think of any more creative layouts for that set of photos. So, I used the front and back of a Project Life divided page to highlight a few more favorite photos, plus some journaling about Kate's 9-month milestones and the day our friend Maria took the photos. (Sorry for the glare--taking these out of the page protector would kind of defeat the purpose!) I also plan to use the kit's supplies as they are intended every now and again for a "week (or part of a week) in the life" snapshot. For example, this page about our Valentine's weekend.
And, this week where we had a lot going on: my trip to Chicago, then Kate and my weekend in Louisville and Daddy's conference in D.C. A typical scrapbook page on this smattering of events would have been very disjointed, but the Project Life kit is designed to highlight these day-by-day events. This page also shows some alternative ways to use the divided slots. The 4x6 photo slots are all horizontal, and the smaller vertical slots are intended for journaling cards. As you see, I trimmed the pics of Kate with her great-grandparents down to fit the smaller slots, and then to accommodate a vertical 4x6, I cut it into three pieces and put them on three different background cards in three adjoining slots. I think it's kind of cool, and there was also room for Matt's only souvenir from his trip that week--his visitor pass from the Senate Chaplain's office.
Do you scrapbook? What do you do with most of your photos?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bully or Bullied?

I saw a poll the other day on Parents.com, asking “Would you rather have your child be bullied or be a bully?”

Interesting question.

It's a forced choice between two things, neither of which a parent would wish for their child. No one wants to see their child in pain--physical, emotional, or otherwise--but if, hypothetically, the only alternative was for my child to cause other children pain, I would rather her be the innocent victim. To me, it seems to be a basic choice about the character you hope your child will possess.

After clicking “bullied,” I was really surprised to see that 59% had said they would rather their child be the bully. 41% said “bullied."

I suppose that a lot of parents cringe so strongly at the thought of their child being victimized, they would rather their child be strong and confident "to a fault" and simply have to teach them to reign it in and be nicer to others--as if it were that simple. Kids who bully often have very low self-esteem, and a whole host of other issues causing them to act out.

It would break my heart to know Kate was getting teased or picked on, but I would talk her through it, help her be strong, and take what action was necessary through her teacher, etc. It would be sad and difficult, but I would much prefer that to rehabilitating an angry child lacking empathy for others. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's All Grand, and It's All Green!

I know I promised at Valentine's that I don't go as nuts with St. Patty's Day as I do with Valentine's, and it's true, in that I don't decorate the house for St. P's as I do St. V's, but I still love dressing for minor holidays, and in my book, you HAVE to wear green on St. Patrick's Day. (Even though we're Protestants, and therefore my Dad says we should wear orange.)

Green has long been my favorite color, minus about a ten-year hiatus because I was a foolish and impressionable child. Basically, my kindergarten best friend told me that green shouldn't be my favorite color "because green is the color of slime." (This was in the days of "You Can't Do That On Television.")
So, my favorite color became pink.


Anyway, I realized today that I really love seeing green everywhere. Even traffic lights and road signs gained a new lustre. I loved walking Kate into day care and seeing all the little kids and teachers wearing their green, and was sincerely disappointed that not as many adults care about this. I gave our business manager a string of shamrock mardi-gras beads I had around, so he wouldn't get pinched. Sadly, I did not have enough beads for all the party-poopers among my colleagues. They informed me that green suits my coloring while it makes them look like, well, slime.
I think Kate looks pretty good in green too. We took lots of pictures of us in our green tonight, and I was reminded of doing the same last year. Amazing how much she's changed. (I, on the other hand, am still wearing the same twinset and necklace.)
Sweet girl. (Check out that molar!)Sweet girl turns cranky after a while. (Molar coming in on the other side :0( She got cranky during last year's photo shoot too. . . . . . so Uncle Andrew (who lives in New Jersey) made us this:Loving Daddy (wearing what we call his "IRA bomber" hat) made us a nice beer-basted beef stew in the crock pot, and we listened to Riverdance while we ate.

I hope you had a fun St. Patrick's Day, curling up with a Guinness and nice Irish lassie or lad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Project Life (Mar. 8-14)

Monday 3/8: Kate's big "thing" in the last few weeks is to climb into her wagon and wait for someone to notice and pull her around. If you don't notice quickly enough, she'll start to fuss. When she did this at my parents' house a couple weeks ago, Mom reminded her "you know, we got you this so you can pull things around in it." She'll be in for a rude awakening when she no longer fits inside easily! Tuesday 3/9: As I bragged earlier this week, I got a bunch of clothes for Kate at a big consignment sale this week. All this for $29.
Wednesday 3/10: I've had these jeans for four years, so holes in the knees were probably due to happen anyway, but I'd still like to think these holes are the product of hours of crawling around on the floor, playing toddler games.
Thursday 3/11: Kate learned how to take pictures this week. She loves to play with the camera, and last Sunday, I taught her how to press the button firmly enough for it to take. Now, she snaps away any time we let her get her hands on the camera! She hasn't quite grasped that what she sees in the display is what she's taking a picture of, but if we jump into the frame, it's not bad. Remarkably few are out of focus!
Friday 3/12: We had a "family date night," going out to Backyard Burger and then watching our Netflix movie, 500 Days of Summer, after Kate went to bed. Ah, the thrilling night-life of parenthood :0)
Saturday 3/13: My friend Paula is a yard-sale queen, and she suggested we go together on Saturday. I didn't really intend to buy anything, but somehow ended up with a red sweater-dress for myself, two tops for Kate, an autumn mantle-swag, the Scene It? DVD game (for $2!) and three toys for Kate: a basketball goal, set of maracas, and a bus that plays the appropriate verse of "The Wheels on the Bus" when you roll the wheels, move the wipers, open the door, etc. She loves it! (and Matt blogged about it here.)
Sunday 3/14: Shawn Wood, one of the authors with whom I have the privilege of working, was signing books at Crosspoint Church, so Kate and I went to support him and check out Crosspoint. I'd heard great things about that church, and Shawn gave us a great excuse to go!


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