Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My First Turkey...Hits the Road

On Thanksgiving weekend, I always find myself reflecting about the weekend that Andrew was born.  In 1999, Thanksgiving was 2 days before he was born and just one day before I went into the hospital.

This year, my almost 12 year old son will be turning 12 on Sunday.  I think I'm still in shock that it's been 12 years since he was born, 'cause really 12 years from now he'll be done with college and mid 20's.  Whoa.

He's celebrating Thanksgiving and his birthday in Nashville this year with his dad and that part of his family. He's enjoying his time! On the agenda for him is going to the movies with his dad, stepmom and grandparents, having a birthday party, seeing his oldest sister off to her new adventure, getting a haircut and just hanging out with his dad and family.

The day before Thanksgiving, we headed off to Cincinnati to the same McDonald's we've been meeting at for a few years to "exchange" our son. Andrew was ecstatic to go! He's always been a good traveler, so not much griping about how long, are we there yet, or I have to go to the bathroom 8 million times. He's just as anxious to get going and get there as I am. We're good road trip companions. ;)

He helps keep Lily occupied and entertained even when she's in total little sister mode and doing things deliberately to get his attention and bug him.

After we arrived, only about 15 minutes late due to rain slowing us leaving Pittsburgh, we sat to have lunch with Andrew's dad. Andrew and Lily had a lightsaber straw fight while waiting for lunch.

Reagan commented that it was neat how Andrew could eat lunch with both of his parents and it was fun. This made me smile.  She's not usually with us on our trips, so she was super excited to talk about the places she has now been.  She talked about social studies at school and how glad she was to be able to say she'd been through a couple different states to her friends.  It was cute.

Andrew was ready to hit the road! Anxious to get to Tennessee and be done with the driving...happy to see his dad.

Last thing to do was take a few more pictures, transfer his bags from car to car and then we're off!
My last picture with my 11 year old...for when he returns he will be 12. :)

And then they head South and we head back North, all to do it again a few days later.  On the way home, the girls were sleepy.  Lily apparently was interested in showing how old she is instead of giving in and just falling asleep.  Reag, on the other hand, crashed.

There was a lot of traffic coming home due to it being the day before Turkey Day, so it took a little longer than usual, but it was still an enjoyable trip. Everyone was in a great mood and stayed that way all day! Can't ask for much more. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Rest of the Story...Glasses

I mentioned yesterday about writing a weekly stepfamily post. Bear with me as I try to figure out what day it'll end up being.  I'm thinking Tuesdays might be the day.  So for this week, it is. :)

About 10 days ago I had written about Reagan needing and getting glasses after receiving a letter home that she didn't pass her vision screening.  Last year we had received one for Andrew as well, so we knew what it entailed.  This should be no biggie, right?  Nothing is as simple as it should be with BM involved. 

That's a simple order of business that George should be able to let BM know about, the kid goes to the eye doctor and gets what she needs, and it's taken care of.  Instead, the letter comes, George lets BM know and gets attacked immediately because he didn't tell her in the way she thought he should and that I opened the letter that came in the mail at my house.  

Like I said, nothing simple.  It's frustrating.

Subsequent threatening that BM would be taking Reagan to a different eye doctor and he would, in fact, be paying for it.  Threats to call the doctor's office to cancel the appointment to pick out the frames.  Swears at him when he tries to ask her on the phone if she wants a copy of the eye prescription then tells him to call her other phone because her husband's cell phone doesn't get signal in their house. (He's "not allowed" to have her phone number even though it's court ordered. She claims it's because I will harrass her. HA!)   He literally said, "Do you want..." and she cut him off to yell what she had to say, called him a liar preceded by her favorite "f" word. He then calls the home phone she told him to call and she has her husband answer and say she's busy.

And that, my friends, is "communication" between my husband and BM.

Let me also add that because BM was so up in arms about Reagan picking out glasses without her, despite my husband letting her know when and where and telling her she could show up if she wanted, she told R that if she didn't like her glasses she'd break them and say it was an "accident" and get her new glasses.


Here's just a thought too. If George had her cell phone number, he could have sent her pictures of Reagan in different frames in real time since she chose not to come and she STILL could have been a participant.  She'd rather be mad that she didn't control what he did. 

So, a simple letter that Reagan didn't pass her vision screening from school turns into an exhaustive event.

Conversely, last year when the letter came for Andrew, I called his dad, let him know, told him of the appointment, told him Andrew needed glasses, I sent him a picture of the ones Andrew picked out and that was it.  The end.  I don't DREAD dealing with him because we both do what our son needs done and that's it. 

We literally DREAD having to deal with BM and while my husband is the one who does, I ALWAYS get brought into it through her emails referring to me as merely "a 3rd party" etc.  We keep interaction with her all business.  He addresses the statements she makes that are concerning their daughter and doesn't engage in the other.

Rather than her concern being her daughter, her issue is and has always been me. 

From the day I met Reagan, she started her battle...about me.  Guess what?  It's not about me.  So when she says to my husband that she doesn't "consent" to him taking Reagan to pick out her frames without her because it's "not up to your wife's ridiculous idea of what is age-appropriate for MY daughter," really puts it out there what her concern truly is. 
Number one, she's both of yours. Number two, get over yourself because my opinion is that your daughter chooses what SHE wants.  Number three, it's STILL not about me all these years later.

And the fact is, Reagan picked out the glasses she wanted and she is happy with them!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Internal Health

I've been thinking about a few things to improve my health lately.  Both physically and emotionally.
(there's nothing wrong other than self-improvement)

It's no secret that life with a crazy ex-girlfriend (whom my husband has to deal with), affects my emotional health. 

Ever since I was a little kid, I have been passionate about literature, literacy, music, expression, writing. Writing has been an invaluable asset for me in dealing with my emotions--my first heart break, the demise of my marriage, the death of my father, the birth of my son, my son's growth, my miscarriage,  dropping out of college, my return to college....well, you get the idea.  Writing has always been consistent for me.

I've, therefore, learned that if I don't release many of the emotions in writing, they stay and foster.  Anger primarily.  I don't vent about the bullshit with my stepdaughter's mother to my husband because we have agreed she is not allowed in our home.  We talk about the business and logistics, but the rest of it, we choose not to. There's been too much time, energy and effort exhausted dealing with the crazy and we don't want anymore than we have to.  As a result, I vent with my best friends, to my mother, my Pittsburgh parents and I write.  I'm not willing to live in anger, so I need outlets to release it.

The last few weeks there has been a whole lot of bullshit in this situation.  So, rather than it consuming every day blog posts, I'm thinking about starting a weekly post about stepfamily life--good, bad and ugly.  I want an outlet--MY outlet--but not to be consumed by it even on my blog.  

That's the plan.

I am a:

The 2nd part of my getting healthy is not something I'm ready to reveal completely, but will very soon.  It's been stirring in me for the better part of the last couple months and I've been researching a lot.  I have the full support of my husband and will begin my journey tomorrow! (not the ever elusive "tomorrow"), but truly tomorrow.   I've been inspired by a lot of people and after reading and learning more about the person who it is honoring, I'm convinced this is what I need to do.

Let's Gather 'Round the Campfire

The boys headed off this weekend for a camping trip while Lily and I stayed home for a girls weekend.  Theoretically, I could have been in bed at 7:15pm when Lily went to bed just an hour after the guys left.  I did stay up a little later, but you can bet I totally enjoyed laying in bed in my jammies early, catching up on my dvr and some reading.  It was really nice.
I always enjoy pictures when the guys get back home and listening to their stories. They both enjoy this particular camping trip and have been looking forward to it for a long time.

Boys are funny and really so different from girls about stuff.  Take this picture, for example.

They just all basically sleep wherever and everyone's stuff is on top of one anothers.  This is just the kids' stuff. The adults have an entire separate area where they neatly have their tents and belongings. Andrew and his buddy where just hanging out getting some stuff together.

I appreciate the experience my son is having just being around good people, developing skills that he will utilize in his life. Andrew is more of a small group of buddies or one-on-one kind of kid, so I think experiences such as this one are also good for him to teach him how to handle situations in bigger groups too.
They do skits and a lot of comraderie-type activities.  They went on a 3 hour hike one day and also a ceremony where they retire a flag.  In addition to the "fun stuff", they are assigned duties like cooking, clean-up, tending to the fire, cutting and carrying firewood etc.  I don't get too many details from them since I'm not a boy, you know.  But, I do know both Andrew and George are happy when they come home.  I'm glad it's something they do together.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hold the Phone

I always find it funny when babies start to mimic everything.  Sometimes even things you don't realize you say or do, but this little sponge soaks it up and repeats it back to you.

Lately, Lily loves to pretend she's talking on the phone.  She holds it up to her ear (sometimes upside down or backwards) and says, "Hi Lily!" with a big grin on her face. It's adorable. 

Recently, she has decided that everything that fits in her hand is a phone. 

You know, the part of the baby monitor we use to see her,
a calculator

A few days ago she started saying this 3-syllable word
 that we weren't quite sure what it was.

Until she picked up whatever her phone of the moment is and started saying it:

I ended up with her new word on video trying to capture her new way of saying "thank you". :)
She used to say "tahhhk eeee" and now it's "tank yooo"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Searching for Talent

So, remember just last week when I was raving about Tiny Prints?

Well, this amazing company has another great opportunity going on right now with the Tiny Prints Talent Search!

You can enter for a chance to win the grand prize of $1,000 cash, plus a $500 Tiny Prints gift certificate!

They're looking for the cutest photos in the following categories:
·         ~Cutest Baby (From ages of 0-24 months) 
·         ~Cutest Kid (From ages of 25 months - 10 years old)
·         ~Cutest Family
·         ~Cutest Couple
·         ~Cutest Pet & Owner

You can enter the Tiny Print Talent Search Contest via Facebook or on the  Tiny Prints website. For Official Rules, click here.

The entry deadline has been extended to November 21st!  After the entry period is over, they'll open up the contest to everyone to vote for their favorites and determine the winners.  Hurry to get your pictures entered!

But, you know, Lily's got the cutest baby wrapped. ;) hee hee
She can't believe it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanks & Giving

Thanksgiving weekend 2008
Andrew, his dad and myself

It's literally just one week away from Thanksgiving.  Where has this year gone? 

When Andrew's dad and I divorced, one of the pieces we had to iron out was holidays.  At the time, we were all living in Nashville still, however Andrew and I would be moving back to Arizona to be closer to my family and for me to return to school thus making holidays even more challenging.  Andrew was 3 when we moved.

My ex-husband and I had a discussion that went something along these lines:

him:   "I don't think it's fair that I don't get to have him on Christmas morning."
me:    "I didn't choose to not be a part of this family and I don't think it's fair that I have to give up Christmas morning with our son because of it."
him:    silence
me:    "When he is old enough to say to me that he wants to be with you on Christmas morning, then he will."

He didn't have much more to say because it was logical.

You know why ?  Because he knew he could trust me.  Despite the fact we were divorcing, he knew he could trust me about our son.

Andrew has not yet spent Christmas morning with his dad in another state. 

About 6 weeks or so ago, I sent Andrew's dad a text message asking him about his Thanksgiving plans.  He told me that he and his fiancee would be in Nashville and not traveling this year.  He had plans to come to visit Andrew either the weekend before or after Andrew's birthday which is Thanksgiving weekend this year. 

I started thinking about how to make this time best for Andrew surrounding a visit with his dad, Thanksgiving and his birthday.

I talked with my husband and he agreed with my decision as long as it was what Andrew really wanted.

So, for a variety of reasons, Andrew will be going to spend the long holiday weekend/break from school and Thanksgiving in Tennessee with his dad and that part of his family. 

This wasn't his dad's prompt, idea or based on any discussion.  This was me, as my child's mother, making a decision that I thought was a benefit to our child regardless of MY time.  You see, I'm giving more than Thanksgiving.  I'm giving my son's 12th birthday too.  And honestly, that's the part that makes me teary eyed. 

Could I hear the surprise in my ex-husband's voice? Yes.  But, not shock.  Just grateful for the time and understanding how I feel about Andrew's birthday, he was taken aback.

This Thanksgiving will be our little family of three--George, Lily and myself--celebrating with my Pittsburgh parents (that's your new name, Granny & Pappy, if I don't say G&P). Reagan will be with BM this year per their holiday schedule. 

I am so, so grateful for the parenting relationship Andrew's dad and I have. And yes, he parents even though he lives in another state. He's involved with school info, Scouts, hockey, and whatever else is part of Andrew's life.  I appreciate that I can text or call him and we can have a conversation. He sends me pictures, I send him pictures. He knew what Andrew's costume looked like before y'all did. ;)  He doesn't make issue that Andrew has another dad in his life everyday. He doesn't bad mouth our son's family to our son.

We're our son's parents.  And we share in his triumphs and his challenges together.

The Art of Imitation

We've reached the point in toddlerhood where  (yes, I officially say toddler now that she's actually toddling) EVERYTHING has the potential of being repeated by Lily and some already has started. Cue the watching your language, huz. ;)

My not-so-little guy who approaching his 12th birthday and is filled with emotions all over the place experienced this last week.  He is in the place where everything his parents ask him to do, we get an exasperated sigh in response. I asked him to do something.... As soon as he finished his big sigh, his baby sister responded with the same exact noise.  He turned his head sharply to look at me with wide-eyes.  I just said, "That's exactly what we've been talking about regarding being a role model. She looks up to you and will do and try to do everything you do. Both the good and the bad."  Actually, her reaction was the kick in the butt to nip his it's-the-end-of-the-world-that-you've-asked-me-to-do-anything reactions.  Score one for Lily.  So, yeah the tween and the baby teaching each other. 

My husband is a loud nose blower. He's a lot of wonderful things.  This is not one of them.

Like, you can't hear someone talk when he blows his nose, loud. 

Like, it scares Lily loud. She who doesn't like the vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, handmixer, lawnmower, drill sounds and screams and cries, reacts the same to her daddy blowing his nose.  Until recently.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mish Mash Monday

The rainy, cloudy weather is doing NOTHING for my motivation, or lack there of, today.  One plus, it's warm for mid November in Pittsburgh.  65 degrees.  Yes, thank you, I'll take it.

We had a great home.  Lots of working around the house yesterday and movies Saturday.

Andrew spent the night at a friend's house Friday night, so it was just our party of 3 --G, Lily and me.

I have a daredevil kid.  She's 15 months old. I did not have a daredevil the first time. This is so new to me. And somewhat scary.

Lily took a tumble Friday morning and ended up with some more bumps and bruises. I, on the other hand, nearly had a heart attack, screamed out loud and still 3 days later feel sick to my stomach about it.  She's going to be the death of me!

She also had a red mark on her nose too. :(   This one warranted a call to the pediatrician just to be safe.  No worries, though because in true daredevil fashion...she was her typical self right after.  She actually cried harder last week with the kaboom, even though this fall was worse. 

She's a pistol! But apparently nothing slows her down at all.

Our party of 3 consisted of watching Jeopardy (Yes, Lily likes Jeopardy too) hanging out and going to bed early.  It was nice!

Saturday, after Andrew came home from his friend's, we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 in order to refresh before our viewing of Part 2 that night.  This is how Andrew watched Part 1. ;) 
I guess that's what happens when you stay up all night with your buddy.

Seriously, watching Part 2 with my husband was painful.  He has not read the books and it's been too long since he'd watched all the previous movies.  THE QUESTIONS, Oh my gosh the questions he asked while the movie was on!! I just wanted to watch it, feel my sadness at the series ending and enjoy the movie.  He finally let me have my peaceful viewing and I just made him pause it if he had questions.

Sunday, we took advantage of the not having anywhere to be weekend, relaxed in the morning and then did some work around the house.

Lily has been working on using a fork. Clearly it's going well as it rests in her other hand.

I decided to declutter our bedroom and rearrange to move our bed to an inside wall of the room away from the windows. As I was working in the bedroom, George and Andrew worked outside. Lily took a marathon 3 1/2 hour nap, so it was a productive day for all of us. 

I started feeling badly late afternoon and figured out quickly what was going on with me. Let me tell you for the record, I now swear by the baking soda/water to rid the onset of a uti.   I drank it again this morning amidst the water and cranberry juice and I think I have flushed my system of all its wrong. ha

While I was at the store to get cranberry juice, I had this sudden craving for German chocolate cake --my favorite! So, I came home and baked a cake.  George thought it was pretty random. Lily helped him lick the beaters and ended up with half a mustache for Movember.  (it was hard to catch her to get a picture since all she wants to do is walk)

The cake was yummy by the way! And by the time I went to bed, I felt a thousand times better!  Now to finish the laundry. yeah right.

Empowering Tools

I'm sure most of y'all know unless you're Ashton Kutcher about the events surrounding Penn State in the last few weeks. This has prompted a lot of discussion in our house between George and myself, but also with Andrew surrounding what is appropriate with trusted authority figures that he could encounter in his life. We believe giving your children the tools and information to empower them to feel confident in themselves in scary and difficult situations will only help them, should God forbid, they are in one.  But the reality is, burying your head to it, won't make it go away.  It's our job as parents to arm our children with the RIGHT tools.

Penn State has been the primary news story in Pittsburgh each day for the last 10 days or so, so my nearly 12 year old son has asked a lot of questions. In addition, as a 6th grader, a big part of their curriculum is current events as well.  As this boy transitions into teen, we have been working to ensure he comes to us with questions and curiousities rather than taking his friends' words as truth or seeking information on the internet without talking to us.  So far, so good.

Having been falsely accused of sexual abuse by my stepdaughter's biological mother I understand the destructive power words can hold.  I am not one to immediately believe what I hear on the news as gospel so within the first few days, I went looking for more factual information online versus the slant that always comes with reporting.  I came across the grand jury report and quite honestly only made it to the end of the second victim's information and could read no more.

I think what I'm most disturbed by (aside from the abuse itself) with regard to the situation is that although I wholeheartedly believe Joe Paterno had a moral obligation to do more than he did, the graduate assistant who witnessed Sandusky abusing a 10 year old boy was a TWENTY-EIGHT YEAR OLD MAN.   I believe that graduate assistant should have called the police.  He witnessed the abuse IN PROGRESS and instead called his dad and the next day met with Joe Paterno to tell him.  If someone saw my son being raped and DID NOTHING in the moment, I'd find culpability there too. Legally or not, morally there is. 

And if that twenty-eight year old man had acted on what HE witnessed, perhaps all those other children who were abused, would not have been. 

The entire situation from top to bottom is utterly disgusting and I have so many feelings about it that are best kept within my own family discussions, but each day when I see and hear on the news about Joe Paterno this and Joe Paterno that, I want to scream that a 28 year old man turned and walked away while a ten year old boy was being raped. 

I hope this situation has prompts discussion with your children to provide them the tools to empower them with the word "no" when it can make a difference in their life and safety.  THAT is the positive we have taken from the recent Penn State events.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like...

Ok, let's face it.
I am THE WORST at getting cards out on time.  But, the fact is, I LOVE cards.  Especially Christmas cards.  Oh, I have always looked forward to getting cards, reading letters and seeing how my friends and family had grown and what was happening in their lives.  Last year I just wasn't able to get it together in time to get our cards out, although I still have them. :)  And will be sending them with this year's cards ...and thank you notes and birth announcements.  You see what I'm saying?  This year I'm determined to take care of this!

After Lily's 1st birthday, I was able to get it together and sent out thank you cards timely.  I ordered them from Tiny Prints after searching and finding EXACTLY what I wanted.  Seriously, I am still in love with these cards.
the front

When I received an email from Tiny Prints to do a review for their Christmas cards specifically, there was no hesitation on my part!

I am loving their designs this year!

There are some unique shapes like this one:  how cute is this???
I am also loving the tri-fold design like this one:
And there are so many that have multiple photos that I tend to find myself favoring! 
The truth is, I have only narrowed it down to TWELVE that I love! Ack! 
Yes, I love Tiny Prints that much that I'm still trying to decide on what is my favorite for our family this year!

In addition to their adorable and classic styles of Christmas cards, there is so much personalization that you can do with them! I know this for certain because Lily's thank you cards were actually designed to be birthday invitations that I customized into my thank yous. The quality of their products is what sealed the deal for me!

I can't wait to get my cards picked out and designed, so that I get them in the mail on time this year!

If you're interested in this, Tiny Prints is offering you the opportunity to get 50 cards for free! Simply fill out the form for more info! I know a few of you (you know who you are) who this is PERFECT for!  Send me an email if you do fill it out and/or want more information! *wink wink* there's a potential bonus if you do it before 11/14. ;)

I was provided free Christmas cards from Tiny Prints for my honest review.  These opinions are 100% my own. I am a huge fan of Tny Prints quality and customer service.

Busy Week & New Glasses

Yesterday my computer had some crazy stuff going on. I think it was a virus or something. My husband was able to get it fixed up and squared away, thankfully.  I had emails I needed and wanted to reply to, some blog posts to write and some research to do, but it all had to wait.  I'm still having trouble with a photo program and it's driving me crazy, but he says he can fix it, however he said "Do not mess with it. I not mess with it." ha  He knows my impatience with it.


This week flew by since it was busy and thus starts hectic life for the next few weeks all over again. 

Andrew and Reagan  were off school on Monday and Tuesday.  When there's no school on Mondays and Fridays, Reag is at BM's house, so we were all happy she was here Tuesday since we have only a couple non-school days that are not Mondays or Fridays.  We had parent-teacher conferences on Monday for both of them.

I LOVE Andrew's teachers! 6th grade is tougher than previous years i.e. he actually has to work harder and the As don't come as easily for him.  There are three 6th grade classes and they split all the kids into high, middle, low groups and rotate to all 3 teachers for different subjects.  They did it in 5th grade too, so he's used to it and it seems to work for all the students for their needs to be met.  We're happy with it and it's been good for Andrew, they all think he's a good kid--they just wish he'd volunteer to participate more.  Plus, it's a good practice for when he goes to junior high next year. OHMYGOODNESSSSSSS junior high! Too fast.

Reagan is doing well in school also and her teacher said she has transitioned to her new school fabulously! We hope she continues doing as well the rest of the school year and fully expect that to be the case.  Her teacher has shared with us many times that she thinks Reag could run the class. :)

On Tuesday after we picked Reagan up at BM's, we headed to the Holiday Shop at school for the olders to do their Christmas shopping.  I cracked up that both Andrew and Reagan independently picked out the same thing for George.  

We also did some raking of the billions of leaves in our yard. We knew we were in for only a couple more really good fall days before the weather turned cold...again, so we wanted to make sure we got them cleaned up and just did it all together. Lily just practiced walking back and forth and had zero interest in being held or helped. Yes, my girls are doing yard work in skirts. :) 

Having grown up in Arizona with no leaves, I don't mind raking them either. It was a nice afternoon with beautiful weather and fun for the 5 of us to hang out not trying to cram typical school day responsibilities into and still have some leftover family time. We had an enjoyable day finished off by supper and playing Uno before the kids went to bed.

Reagan also had an eye doctor appointment this week since we got notice she didn't pass the school vision screening.  I forgot my camera, so I only got cell phone pics of her visit. :(  She thought the sunglasses they gave her to wear since her eyes were dilated were fun and kept cracking up at herself in the mirror.  The funniest part while we waited was when she said, "I hope we make it back to school for lunch. We're having a really good chicken sandwich today."  ha!  We made it just in time. 
We found out she's near sighted and definitely needs glasses.  She was super excited to pick out glasses when she found out she needed them! We waited until the next day for her to pick out frames so she could see better after her eyes were dilated and because she wanted her dad to be there.  She can't wait for them to come in.  When she came home from school, she said she'd told her friends she needs glasses and couldn't wait to pick them out too!

She's a lucky kid because quite honestly, she looked good in every pair of glasses she put on. Obviously some were better than others, but we told her to pick what she liked, what she felt comfortable wearing.  She tried them all on and then started narrowing down.

Her final choice:

After picking out glasses, last night we ended our week with a family movie night of Cars 2.  We're looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

*I've begun watermarking particular pictures as I have had several ip addresses downloading photographs of Reagan recently.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Blog Love

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

To keep this award going and pass it along to other new deserving blogs, the recipient must now recognize five other bloggers with less than 200 followers that have really stood out in the crowd.

~One of my favorite bloggers, Michelle, gave me a blog award! So sweet.  Check her out!!

Michelle has a baby girl who is Lily's age (just about 10 or so days younger) and I started following her when we were both pregnant.  Michelle and her husband are serving our country and are currently stationed in Germany.  I'm so grateful to them both for their service!!  I have loved watching their baby grow (she walked WAYYYY before Lily haha) and seeing their adventures across the ocean.  Thank you, Michelle!

The rules for the Liebster Award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love too!

My pick for blogs to follow was easy!  I have some friends I'd like to share with y'all. 

All of these ladies are local to the Pittsburgh area.  We discovered each other on Twitter actually.
What I love about all of them is they are positive, supportive, encouraging women. We're all in varying stages of parenting...some 1st time mamas, others adding the second and/or third baby (all girls) to the mix. A few of us have widely spaced siblings with a much older brothers to these baby girls.  Connection.  That is what life is all about.  I enjoy, appreciate and respect all of these women!  Some of us are in real life friends and today, actually all of us will meet up for a playdate! I hope you enjoy their blogs too!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Children Learn What They Live

When I was growing up this plaque hung in our hallway.  I probably read it at least a thousand times. I loved it.  I asked my mom questions about it, definitions of words I didn't understand at the time --like what it means to "condemn".  If I'm being honest, I have thought of these words many, many times in my decade plus of parenting.

The most difficult part of parenting in split homes is when there is confliction in parenting styles.

Over the years, we have learned that we can't do anything about what happens in the other houses. It's hard to relinquish the desire to "fix" it or have a say in it, but in order to have a peaceful home, we had to let go a long time ago.

Andrew's dad and I actually don't have much parenting conflict because parenting was not really something we disagreed about even when we were together.  It makes life easy for all of us...especially Andrew.

To say there is different parenting in our home and BM's home is a HUGE understatement. If we say the sky is blue, it cannot possibly be the case simply because we said it.

The WORST part is that there is zero filter with regard to what Reagan overhears there.  You see, each week we help her decompress, try to rebuild her self-esteem and help make her feel positive about her life... ALL of her life. I so wish I were exaggerating, but unfortunately that's not the case.

As she has gotten older, her language and verbalization is more mature and she is more capable of expressing her opinions and feelings.

Quite simply it really is all how you handle things.  The fine line between handling something positively and critically in a negative way makes a huge difference in how a child feels about themselves and treats others.  This is very common sense to me, but given the state of our nation and families, I'm not quite sure it's so common any longer.

To personalize with an example, I have mentioned before that Reag doesn't pick up after herself.  This has been going on for a very long time, so not in relation to the amount of time she spends here.  It's just something she has to work on.  Yes, it drives me crazy especially when I find stuff after she's gone back to BM's because I either have to do it myself or leave it until she comes back to our house a few days later.  Depends on how I feel which one I do.  Other times, she loses a privilege if she's been corrected and reminded on the behavior and still doesn't follow through.  All part of life lessons.  We don't yell at her, we explain, we talk, we physically walk her through what the expectations are and she explains back to us what she, in fact, understands.

She came home today upset that she overheard her mother say to her grandmother that she was a "sloppy, non-helpful person" after being at our house so much now.  There is nothing I can do to prevent those occurances, but I can help my stepdaughter deal with her feelings about it.  I asked her how it made her feel and she replied that if her mom is going to say that while she's standing right there, there's no telling what else she says when she's not there and since she knows her mom talks negatively about all members of our family, now she got lumped in with that negativity too.  It hurt her feelings.  Calling someone names --especially children--is unacceptable.  It's a behavior.   That can be changed. 

Again, we understand and accept we can do nothing about what is said to her, in front of her, around her, within earshot or the actions BM takes with her when Reagan is in her care.  It doesn't erase the feelings of frustration we have, however.  

So, we try to turn those actions and experiences in which we cannot control into lessons for her. And while that example independently may not seem destructive, add to it 4 days of other negativity and destructive words and behaviors exhibited to her and about her family, it is very damaging to this young girl's psyche.

We keep on keepin' on and hope and pray the positivity we're working on can overcome the negativity she has to encounter.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Friday night started off with a bang.  Literally.

Lily and I were hanging out in my bed early evening watching Yo Gabba Gabba. I was tired and wanted to stretch out and she was in a crankypants, post afternoon nap, too early for bed witching hour mood.  Daddy came in to talk with us and picked her up, played with her like they normally do--the ka-booming her on to the bed that she loves. She makes "boy" noises to get him to play and do it.  "Boy noises" like crashing sounds. It's hysterical.

Welp, when they were done, he headed upstairs and she was still in hyper mode and decided to try to kaboom herself.  Unfortunately she did it too quickly and I was unprepared. She stood up on the bed and as I reached to grab her, she kaboomed (trying to fall onto her bum on the bed) herself right off the bed onto the floor, missing the bed entirely.  I'm sure it was super scary to fall that far after thinking she was going to just kaboom onto her butt on the bed!  She's fallen off the bed before, sadly. :(

In her kaboom all the way to the floor, she hit her face near her eye on the corner of the nightstand!  (I will say we are SO lucky that she missed her eye because it was soooo close to her actual eye & the corner is sharp.)  That makes my stomach hurt thinking about it even now. :(

There were a lot of tears, that scary beginning of a scream where they hold their breath, and a lot of loud crying.  It was pretty awful.  In addition to the screaming and crying from her fall, there was much more because of us trying to put ice on her face.  She was NOT happy about that at all.  So, after the sobbing and trying to catch her breath was done, she just wanted to sit and watch her show.

It did bruise a little bit, but I was sure she was going to have a terrible black eye and we were SOOOO lucky it didn't turn super black and blue.  Just a slight bruise the next morning.

She's one tough little girl.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Here Kitty, Kitty

Way back in August, we were at Costco and found this adorable kitty costume. George and I both thought it was so cute and decided to get it and then decide for sure what she would be for Halloween.
After I finally tried it on her at the beginning of October, we knew Lily the Kitty would be trick-or-treating.

We have a few elderly neighbors who were looking forward to seeing the kids on Halloween, but due to the weather and events on Halloween night, we just didn't get to their houses. 
So, a couple days after Halloween, it warmed up and we had a sunny day where we re-dressed up the kids and headed to a few houses. Plus, I hadn't gotten any pictures of all of the kids together, so I needed to do that too.