Wednesday, September 29, 2010


We have been working on potty-training this week. I'll be honest. We first attempted potty-training with Charlie at the camp over Labor Day weekend. It did not go well. He didn't care when he wet his pants and in the matter of a very short period of time, we went through the few pairs of underwear he had very quickly. I was not ready for it and was not inclined to begin the process in full.

I don't know if it was having two in diapers or if it was just how often Charlie goes to the bathroom, but I am now ready to be done changing Charlie's diapers. We started potty-training in full mid-week last week and I am happily surprised with how well it's gone. Charlie's potty chart has gone from 3 stickers to almost full and we took him out to dinner tonight because he filled his bean jar (reward system) to the point required to get dinner and ice cream at "The Kimball's" (as Charlie likes to call it). He's done so well! He's been letting me know when he has to go, has had few accidents, and he gets so excited when he goes on the potty!

So far, he's been in undies whenever we're at home. We usually do errands/storytime/playdate in the mornings and we spend the afternoon at home, so it's a good chunk of time for him to be in undies. When we go out, I've been putting him in a diaper and when he has "quiet" time (my hope for a nap) in the afternoon, he's in a diaper. We're taking baby steps. I don't want to overwhelm either one of us.

Our trip to Kimball's tonight was Charlie's first time out of the house in undies. I felt like I was pestering him all night asking if he had to pee, but when it came time for ice cream, he told us he had to go and we went rushing into the bathroom. I think the different bathrooms and unfamiliar toilets frightened him because once we got in there and on the potty, he decided he didn't have to go. Pops took him once and I took him once (I also wonder if the different bathrooms, urinal versus toilet was an issue). Shortly after trying, while running around in the rocks, he had an accident. :( Only the first of many, I'm sure. I took him to the car, changed him into the spare undies and pants I brought and we went back to ice cream and he was fine until bedtime.

There are so many things I hadn't though of in terms of potty-training and I think this will definitely be a learning experience for all of us. We're going to work on getting comfortable going at home all day first. The next step will probably be working on going when we're out in public and I think the last step will be night-time. If anyone has any pointers or suggestions, I will gladly take them!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Meal Plan 9/27-10/1

This week's meal planning was pretty easy as we missed Friday and Saturday's meals from last week's menu. We ended up going to the Big E all day Friday with Nana and on Saturday, I HAD A LAST-MINUTE DATE WITH MY HUBBY thanks to my wonderful mom, step-dad and sister! It was wonderful and much-needed.... I think it was our second time out alone since February. haha

The lunch planning worked well last week, so I will continue to include lunches in my menus. Most of the time we eat leftovers, but it helps me to have it written down.

Last week's meals were great, except for my crock pot failure on Thursday night. We were supposed to have Lemony Garlic Chicken Breasts. The chicken was horribly dry (Chris tried to improve it with BBQ sauce and it didn't help) and the spinach sauce was brown and did not look appetizing. Chris ate some of the angel hair that was leftover with Charlie's chicken nuggets and I pigged out on junk (cheese, chips, 5 (yes 5!) packs of fruit snacks....). Gotta love Thursdays! *sigh*

For this week, I have planned the following:

L: Leftover Pulled Pork Sandwiches
D: Asian Beef & Noodles (quick & easy family favorite)

L: Leftover Asian Beef & Noodles
D: Pork Chops with Cider Sauce, Ginger-and-Orange Sweet Potato Mash, Broccoli

L: PB&J, Chips, Grapes
D: Penne with Vodka Sauce & Pancetta

L: Leftover Penne
D: Pot Roast with Fall Veggies

L: Leftover Pot Roast
D: Lia Sophia party at my aunt's house; we are supposed to bring a pumpkin treat, so I am making Pumpkin-Maple Mousse Parfaits

For other meal planning ideas, hop on over and visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Muffin Tin Meals

I think I'm becoming a muffin tin meal convert.

I started following Muffin Tin Mom a few weeks ago, thinking that the meals were very cute, but nothing I would ever have time (or be creative enough!) to do.


As I mentioned the other night, Charlie is a very picky eater. He might be happy eating chicken nuggets, PB&J or mac & cheese all the time, but I get bored feeding it to him! I've been trying to come up with other creative lunches (any suggestions are welcome!) and I was also looking for something that might entice him to take a nap (an ongoing battle for about 2 months now). One afternoon, in hopes of getting him to stay in bed, I promised that I would have a special lunch ready for him when he woke up. When he did wake up that afternoon (woohoo!), I had a muffin tin meal ready to go and he was so excited!

I've been making Charlie a muffin tin meal once a week or so now. (It does take some time and creativity to put together and those are two things that I don't often have.) I've put together a few breakfasts and a few lunches and if Charlie has any leftovers, they end up as snacks later that day. I don't have any special tins, nor do I use special liners or toothpicks. I've been using a regular 6-muffin tin and Charlie loves it. He lights up when he sees his meal and he requests them often. He's even dug in my cupboard for the tin while I was still in bed and carried it into me with his breakfast request. My first tin was nothing special - just different items in the different holes. In putting together my past few tins, I've forced myself to get creative and it's been fun.

Last week, our theme of the week for school was stars so Charlie had a MTM with a large star PB&J, several small PB&J stars, cheese stars, apple stars, some yogurt with sprinkles and some of Isaac's puffs that were shaped liked stars.

This week, our shape of the week is stars (our theme is the sun), so I dug out my large star cookie cutter, my mini star cutter and a mini crescent moon cutter (to spice things up a bit). Today's MTM consisted of a large star turkey, cheese and hummus sandwich (he ate the WHOLE THING!), star and moon cucumbers (he tried them), star and moon cantaloupe pieces (ate almost all of them), blueberry yogurt (too full at lunch, so it became this afternoon's snack), one moon and one star brownie, and some goldfish (didn't want to give up any more of Isaac's puffs - they're expensive!).

It's been fun to come up with different foods to cut up and it's been nice using my cookie cutters for something other than sugar cookies! I can't wait to do a Halloween tin! I've been forcing myself to get creative and I'm enjoying it. Unfortunately, I was in a such a hurry to get lunch on the table for Chris and myself that I didn't get a chance to take any pictures today before Charlie started digging in (and it's too bad 'cause it was pretty cute!). I plan to with the next meal. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

We all have our guilty pleasures. For some, it's chocolate or a trashy romance novel; for others, it's a hidden love of Britney Spears.

At the moment, my guilty pleasure is the FOX TV show Glee and I am so excited about the new season. It NEVER fails to make me laugh out loud and this is not an easy feat (I have a very odd sense of humor). The stereotypes are a riot, the songs are amazing, and Sue Sylvester kills me! The show also touches upon some pretty serious issues, and in my opinion, does it well. The writers are great. I also like that although Chris won't admit to enjoying the show, he will sit and watch it with me. (I think he harbors a secret liking for it. :)) If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend you watch it.

To make it even better, Britney Spears is guest-starring next week. You know where I'll be at 8pm. Woohoo!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Second Time Around

Honestly, I blame Charlie's pickiness when it comes to food on myself. He is giving me what I gave my parents. I was a horribly picky eater growing up. I lived off Spaghetti O's for years and didn't touch a salad until I went off to college. In a similar fashion, Master Charles' diet consists of chicken nuggets, PB&J and macaroni and cheese with an occasional grilled cheese thrown in for variety. I've attempted to introduce new foods, but he will Not Even Try Them. I can't even get him to keep the new foods on his plate, let alone into his mouth!

I'm learning to pick my battles with Charlie. I want meal-time to be an enjoyable time, not a fight to get food into his mouth. Charlie is small, but healthy. He eats fruit, an occasional slice of bell pepper and he gets his protein in the form of cheese, peanut butter and those damn chicken nuggets. He gets a daily multivitamin, as well, in an attempt to cover all of the bases. I occasionally try to trick him into trying a new food and was able to do so successfully today. Chris and I had turkey and cheese sandwiches for lunch; Charlie asked for a cheese sandwich with hummus (an odd food for such a picky eater to like, but hey, it's protein). While making Charlie's sandwich, I ripped up some turkey, hid it among the cheese slices and gave him his lunch. He devoured it and was shocked when I told him! Woohoo! I tried to pass some fish off as chicken nuggets at dinner tonight, but he didn't fall for that one.

When Charlie was a baby, he ate everything we fed him. But, we only fed him baby food. And, because he didn't have teeth until he was around 8 months old, I didn't start him on the chunkier baby foods, thinking that he couldn't eat it without teeth. I think the lack of chunky foods (and a HORRID gag reflex) factors in to his pickiness as well. He tends to not like different textures.

This time around, as with Charlie, I had planned to breastfeed. Because of Isaac's battle with RSV and pneumonia at 12 days old, I decided to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months to give him the full benefits of my milk and to hopefully give him a bit more of my immunity. I am so excited that I was (and still am) able to do so because I was devastated when my milk started to dry up when Charlie was around 4 months old. I cried when I had to give Charlie formula!**

I was nervous that delaying the introduction of solids would lead us down the same road as Charlie, but our doctor agreed with me and so far, so good. When I took Isaac in for his 6-month check-up, I was given the go-ahead to start solids. Our doctor told us only honey was off-limits and we could/should give him table food instead of baby food. She literally said to me, "Things are different the second time around."

And they have been different! Isaac is like a vulture every time we put food on his tray. It doesn't matter what the food is as long as he can get it into his hands and mouth as fast as he can. He's had peanut butter and jelly, toast, bagels, English muffins, eggs, fish, hamburger, buffalo!, chicken, turkey and cheese, frozen peas, bananas, melons.... anything we're eating, I give to him. And it's so much fun! It's amazing to watch how quickly his hand-to-mouth coordination is improving and to watch him learn to deal with the different textures of foods. That boy loves his food and is eating more than Charlie! Pretty soon, Isaac's going to be Charlie's "younger" brother, not his "little" brother!

**On a side note, I have nothing wrong with formula; it's just not what I wanted to do for my babies. When my milk dried up, I felt like I had failed my child. I wanted to breastfeed exclusively. Growing up, I watched my mother breastfeed my younger siblings and my best friend's mom was a lactation consultant, so I had breastfeeding pounded into my brain. I think breastfeeding is a wonderful and beautiful thing! Formula is expensive and what else can I use these things for?! :) Breastfeeding versus formula-feeding is a very hot topic. Everyone tends to think their own way is the only way, but really, whatever works for you and your family is the best way. I do feel that everyone should give breastfeeding a chance, but if it doesn't work for you, then find something else that does. What's important is that you find what makes you and your baby healthy and happy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meal Plan 9/20-9/26

Last week's meal plan went pretty much as planned, apart from Chris picking up a pizza on Thursday night after working late. We also didn't get around to the Linguine with Butternut, Spinach & Pancetta so that has been scheduled into this week's plan.

This week, I'm trying something new in my planning - planning lunches. We usually eat leftovers, but there's often a day or two when we don't have leftovers and it can be hard to find something creative and tasty to eat.

I also have two special meals to make for friends with life-changing events in the past week. One is to welcome a new arrival to the family. The other is to help a friend and her four kids who are saying good-bye to their husband/father who is being deployed for the next year.

Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches, Sliced Bell Peppers, Chips
Dinner: Lemon-Pepper Haddock, Smashed Red Potatoes, Honey-Glazed Carrots

Lunch: English Muffin Pizzas
Dinner: Linguine with Butternut, Spinach & Pancetta, Wheat Dinner Rolls

Lunch: Leftover Linguine
Dinner: Baked Ravioli with Homemade Meat Sauce, Cucumber Ribbon Salad, Wheat Dinner Rolls

Lunch: Leftover Ravioli
Dinner: Lemony Garlic Chicken Breasts (crock pot meal), Wheat Dinner Rolls

Lunch: TBD depending on Chris' work schedule
Dinner: Pork Chops with Cider Sauce, Ginger-and-Orange Sweet Potato Mash, Broccoli

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Penne with Vodka Sauce & Pancetta

Lunch: Leftover Penne
Dinner: Pulled Pork with Root Beer Sauce

Meal to Welcome Baby
Zucchini Pizza
Andies Candies Brownies

Meal to Help a Friend
Chicken & Cheese Rice Bake

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Bloody Thursday

I've mentioned before my dislike of Thursdays.

Today, however, was different from the norm. Maybe it was only having to get up with Isaac once last night. Maybe it was looking forward to the playdate we had tentatively scheduled for this morning.

Whatever it was, I'm happy for it.

Although I did enjoy my day, nothing went as I had planned it. As I normally do before going to bed, I wrote out my to-do list for today. I also prepared the diaper bag, my purse and Isaac's carseat in hopes of being on time for our tentative (we weren't sure where we were going to go or if we would go anywhere depending on the weather) early morning playdate.

We were able to get ourselves ready for that playdate, but because it was a bit chilly this morning, we did not have it. (On a side note, I really need to learn to not say anything to Charlie until I am absolutely, positively sure things will go as planned. He doesn't throw a tantrum or anything, but his nonstop questions about what we supposed to be doing tend to be a bit much.)

Not having our playdate threw a little wrench into my plans as I had marked off the whole morning for that event. Instead of falling to pieces, as can be my typical reaction when things don't go as planned, especially on a Thursday, I decided to take care of my afternoon to-do's early as we had the possibility of rescheduling our playdate for the afternoon. So, I paid the bills while Isaac napped and Charlie played, I dusted the bedrooms while Charlie built towers nearby, and we did some schoolwork. We had a nice lunch of leftovers with Chris, Isaac went down for a nap and Charlie went into his room for quiet time.

Our playdate did not happen this afternoon, either, but has been rescheduled for next week when we'll have more time, and hopefully, better weather. And, because the majority of my to-do's were completed in the morning, I was left with some FREE TIME this afternoon. I promptly made myself a cup of tea, grabbed Jamie and Claire and plopped myself on the couch. Contentment!

Charlie didn't nap as I hoped he would, but he read books in his room for a bit and then sat and watched a movie. I lucked out and was able to sit with my book for a good 90 minutes! Isaac, thankfully, took a good, long nap, something that hasn't happened in the past week because of the cold we've both been suffering from. Peace!

After our relaxing time this afternoon, we all headed outside for a bit to enjoy the sunshine before the rain came. Isaac and I sat on a blanket while Charlie and Peanut played in the sandbox.

Chris called just as I was about to start dinner to say he was going to work late and that he would bring a pizza home. Once he arrived home, the four of us, with Peanut hovering nearby, sat on the living room floor and enjoyed pizza with Oreos and milk for dessert. It was a very informal, enjoyable family dinner. No cooking for me and I love it when everyone eats the same thing!

Not all of my afternoon to-do's were completed, the most important being working out. Chris didn't get home with dinner until 7 and the boys weren't in bed until 8; I won't work out after 8 or I won't fall asleep at night. But, I did post a few real estate listings on craigslist and here I am blogging! Tomorrow is a new day and I'll be sure to fit in my workout.

I'm learning to go with the flow and to be able to improvise. Today's good experience will make me more likely to do so again, and will hopefully reduce my distaste for Thursdays.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baby Steps

I have a tendency to want life to be perfect.

In my perfect world, I would be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5am. I would be able to hop right out of bed, do some yoga, meditate and enjoy a cup of tea and the news all before the kids are awake! I would keep our lunches healthy and varied and be able to cook an entirely healthy dinner for my family every night. I would have a spotless, well-decorated house, clean clothes and beautiful gardens while still being able to spend a huge portion of my day playing with my kids. I would go on regular playdates, arriving on time!, and be home in time to ensure that my kids get restful naps every afternoon. I would workout for a good chunk of time every night and be at a perfect weight so I could wear clothes that look pulled together. I would do a little side work every day to make some extra spending money, read a book a week, enjoy time with my girlfriends every week and enjoy quality time with my husband every night.

In reality, there are only so many hours in a day and some things are more important than others. I know that life is not perfect, but I still do what I can to get as close to my vision as possible. However, I tend to get in the mode of trying too many new things at once to make improvements. I am slowly learning that it's best - and easiest - to add one new thing to my plate at a time. Once that new thing has become routine, I can add another.

I am a perfectionist at heart. I know this and I'm okay with this. I've always been this way. I have a report card from second grade on which my teacher noted that I often erased holes in my papers trying to ensure perfection.

In addition to being a perfectionist, I am also a very routine-oriented person. I do things the same way every time I do them. It's routine for me to make the bed as soon as I get out of it and to get a load of laundry started first thing in the morning. In the shower, I wash up in the same order every day and before bed, I have an order in which I need to get ready. These are things I no longer have to think about. It's also routine for me to read before I go to bed at night... no matter how tired I am, I can't fall asleep without reading something!

Since I began staying home, I've added quite a few new routines to my life. The biggest was school for Charlie. We've become quite comfortable with this addition to our day, although we have a few off weeks, and it's amazing to see what Charlie's learned in a few short months. I think homeschooling him is also good for me because it's forcing me to be a bit more creative and spontaneous than I naturally am.

My most recent addition was my house-cleaning schedule and although it still needs some work, I am LOVING it, and I was happy to find out that Chris has actually noticed. It's preventing me from having to spend hours at a time cleaning the house and it's making me happy to have an organized space at the end of the day. However, the beginning of my week goes well, but by Thursday, I tend to be too tired to do that day's chore (luckily, I've scheduled cleaning the bedrooms for Thursday - they aren't a high traffic area, so it's not a big deal if they're skipped for a week). I'm working on this. :)

Another new addition was scheduling "work" into my day. Last night, I was actually able to get caught up, so from here on out, it should be much easier to maintain. I'll schedule a small task per night and and it will soon become a routine for me.

My next addition will be making working out part of my regular routine. I was an athlete throughout high school (not so much college), and I enjoy exercise. More often than not, I feel on top of the world once I've completed a workout; however, I fall in and out of working out too easily. I think part of the issue, again, is trying to do too much at once. I need to implement taking small steps with working out, just as I have done elsewhere.

It's hard to fit in a workout with two little ones running around, and it can be hard to find the energy at the end of a long day. I've scheduled my workouts for the end of my day as soon as the kids are in bed. My goal is to reacquaint myself with a cardio workout and stretching. Once that's become a routine, I'll begin strength training again. Eventually, I'd like to squeeze some yoga into my day. But, maybe when the boys are a little older and I'm actually able to sleep through the night again..... I need something to look forward to.

The title of my blog, Tryin' to Be Everything, comes from a lyric in the song "American Honey" by Lady Antebellum: "Get caught in the race of this crazy life, tryin' to be everything can make you lose your mind." I often sing this song and try to keep in mind that I can't be and do everything.... But it doesn't stop me from trying. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apple-Glazed Pork Chops

I love fall.


I love the crisp air, the brilliant colors, the smell of the air. I love the warm colors and being able to wear jeans and a comfy sweater all day. I love apples freshly picked from the tree and Halloween candy. Almost everything about fall makes me happy. Especially the food!

We had one of our family's favorite recipes tonight - Apple-Glazed Pork Chops. When I was in Edinburgh for my junior year of college, my friend Emily and I shared a flat. We planned and ate meals together (sometimes with Veronika, our Austrian flatmate) and had a wonderful arrangement: one of us would cook, the other would clean. Some of my favorite memories from my time in Scotland include meals with Emily. Apple-Glazed Pork Chops is a recipe from Emily's mother and it is one of my favorite fall meals.

Apple-Glazed Pork Chops
serves 4


1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
4 tbsp butter, divided
2 lbs pork chops
2 tbsp brown sugar
1.5 cups apple juice
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup raisins

Combine the flour, salt and dry mustard in a plastic bag. Add chops and toss to coat. Melt 2 tbsp butter in large pan. Brown chops.

Once browned, remove chops from pan. Melt remaining 2 tbsp butter and stir in 2 tbsp flour mixture and brown sugar.

Gradually stir in apple juice. Cook until thickened.

Place chops in foil-lined baking pan. Arrange apples (You might notice that I did not peel my apples... I recommend peeling them. I didn't mind the peel, but caught Chris pulling it out of his mouth on a few bites.) and raisins over chops. Cover with apple juice mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meal Plan 9/13-9/18

Life doesn't always go as planned, but it is nice to plan, right?

Chris did indeed head up to the camp with Brucey this weekend and he came back home to Maple Leaf Cookies (kind of a pain to make between freezing the rolled dough, cutting the cookies and then freezing the cookies again before they cook, but SO WORTH IT) fresh out of the oven and a homemade apple pie about to go in.

Making that apple pie and having fun are the only things I was able to cross off my list of ideas for this weekend. In reality, I suppose those were the most important things. :)

We had quite a busy weekend. On Friday, we went shopping with Nana and attended Auntie's soccer game; on Saturday, we ran errands, went apple picking and enjoyed Chinese food; today, we hit up the fair. This afternoon, while Charlie relaxed with a movie, I baked the aforementioned cookies and pie before Daddy returned from his boys' weekend away. I also spent a few too many hours with Jamie and Claire when I should have been sleeping. I highly recommend Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series if you haven't already read it. (I won't tell you how many times I've read them now - it's embarrassing.) Love it!

I did not do any of the so-called "important" ideas on my list. No work, no cleaning my desk, no meal planning (saved that for the last minute tonight. Ooops.). But, we had a great weekend and everything will get done eventually.

On to the meal plan for this week....

Monday - Chris' first night back at volleyball, so quick and easy supper
Grilled Cheese & Apple Sandwiches
Leftover Tomato Soup (for me)

Apple-Glazed Pork Chops
Brown Rice

Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats

Honey-Garlic Chicken
Rice Pilaf
Green Beans

Linguine with Butternut Squash, Spinach & Pancetta

Mimi's Night Away!!!!!!!! Woohoo!!!! Men in kilts, here I come? *wink*

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Single Parent Weekend

This weekend, it's just me and these two:

I will be a single mom this weekend and I'm both dreading and anticipating this at the same time. I have total respect for those moms I know who do this on an everyday basis; I could NOT do it on my own.

Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I REALLY look forward to the time that my hubby is home with us. I love my boys, but it's very nice to have a second set of hands to help out. Chris usually works a half-day on Fridays and I anticipate having him home in the afternoons so that we can do something fun as a family or just hang out around the house and get stuff done. When I find out at the last minute that Chris has to work later than expected, sometimes, no make that most of the time, I get very angry. I don't mean to get angry.... For me, it's like working a full-time job and expecting to have a day off only to find out at the last minute that you have to work overtime and won't be getting compensated for it. It's not a fun equation. Also, I'm a planner and I don't like it when things don't go as planned. Sometimes I'm short with Chris on the phone, which makes him angry (it's a vicious circle!), but by the time he returns home at the end of the day, I apologize and we're both happy again.

As much as I look forward to the time that Chris is home with me and the boys, I also love the time we spend away from each other. It allows us to be individuals as well as a couple and in my opinion, it strengthens our relationship.

In the fall, Chris plays volleyball in a league in a nearby town. This means that for one night a week, I have the house (and the TV remote) to myself. I know some women who HATE to be alone. I am NOT one of them. When Chris is away, Mimi gets to play.

Well, most people wouldn't consider what I do play. However, I enjoy myself and I get stuff done around the house. It can't really be true, but on those nights that I have the house to myself, I feel more productive. Dinner tends to get cleaned up faster, the boys are in bed a bit earlier (sometimes with two books read before bed instead of one!), and I'm ready for bed earlier than normal. Usually, I fit in an elliptical workout once the boys are in bed (sometimes going longer than normal since I don't feel guilty about not spending time with my hubby since he's not home). Sometimes, I do a little pampering - I give myself facial and sit with a cup of tea and a book. More often than not, by the time Chris arrives back home, (if I'm awake!) I'm in bed with my book or magazine, feeling very relaxed.

This weekend, I'm planning on using my free nights to do some organizing and some work. I know, you're probably thinking, with a heavy dose of sarcasm, "Oh, what FUN!" But I am looking forward to a blissful Sunday night once I see what I was able to accomplish in a few short days.

Here are a few of my ideas:

Meal Planning - The idea of planning my meals for a month at a time instead of a week popped into my head this afternoon when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. I love having my meals planned out, but I'm not such a fan of taking the time to do that plan, especially on a Sunday night when I just want to relax before the upcoming week. My thinking is, if I planned my meals out once a month, all I would have to do is create my grocery list once a week. That makes me happy.

Organizing and Cleaning My Desk - For about two months now, I've been dreaming about cleaning out my desk downstairs in the basement. I haven't used the desk since we moved into our house three years ago. First, it's in the basement. Second, it's a huge mess! Organizing and de-cluttering are a great relaxer for me and it might be nice to have a workspace apart from the kitchen counter.

Work - Last week, my plan for work actually did work. This week, after a weekend away at the camp, I haven't had a plan at all and let me tell you, this week has not been a pleasant one. I've totally abandoned my list notebook, didn't do a meal plan and school has gone by the wayside. I have been a tired wreck and I believe it's because of my lack of organization (well, that and staying up a bit later than I planned because I've totally gotten absorbed in Jamie and Claire again - love them!). It hasn't been a total wash of a week - the house has been tidy, we've eaten some great meals, had some play dates and read some books for school. However, when I'm organized, the weeks are so much more accomplished. I like accomplishment.

Fun - In addition to my organization, I'm planning on squeezing some fun in, too. Hopefully, we'll be attending the Fair with Grammy and Auntie, and I bet I can convince someone to go apple picking with us one day. How happy would Daddy and Grampy Bruce be to come home to homemade apple pies? ;) And maybe we'll squeeze in a walk on the bike path, too?

I'm sure that once Chris returns home on Sunday night, not only will he be refreshed from his Boys' Weekend Away, but I will be a much more organized, happy wifey.

So, this weekend, after I tire them out with some fun daytime activities, I plan to use the boys' sleeping hours to catch up on work and create a "schedule" for the coming week to ensure that I don't fall behind again.

And, I might just enjoy one or two of these while I'm at it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Little Things

It's so easy to forget the little things. Those little moments throughout your day that never fail to make you smile, no matter how many things have gone wrong in your day. I thought I'd share some of my favorites so I have something to reference when I need a pick-me-up. :)

The smell and feel of opening a new book
The smooth, creamy, minty bite of a Peppermint Patty
A warm cup of Sleepytime tea with the perfect amount of milk and honey
An ice cold glass of lemonade
My herb garden in the spring

Playing a game of Scrabble with my hubby
Crossing items off my to-do list
Cleaning my house from top to bottom (it rarely happens, but oh, it feels so good!)
Rolling out bread dough

Reading a book to the boys at bedtime
Rubbing Peanut's belly
Mixing up dough for chocolate chip cookies

A warm cup of milk and honey in my favorite sunflower mug at bedtime
Gerbera daisies
Hanging clothes to dry on the clothesline
Spending a morning or afternoon hiking with my family

The spicy smell of my baking cabinet when I open its doors
Beef & Barley Soup in the crock pot on a fall day
Watching Charlie tell a story

Warm Chai tea with milk
The smells of Christmas
Apple picking!
Eating a freshly picked apple

Going for a walk on a crisp autumn day
French Toast with Orange Syrup
Isaac's smile

Getting a hug from Charlie
Days that Charlie actually takes a nap (so rare!)

Mystery rides with the family
Skinny dipping in the pool! (sorry, no pictures :))
Isaac and his binky

Spending time laughing and talking with old friends
Hearing Charlie say, "I love you, Mi"

What makes you happy?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Something More

Lately, I've been wrestling with a feeling of wanting more in my life. I want to be something more than a mother and a wife. I want to be something. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't see anything wrong with my current role. It's working very well for me and my family right now. However, I've always envisioned more for myself. Even when I was working, I wanted more. I'm a smart woman and I don't think I'm living up to my full capabilities. Growing up and playing with friends, I pretended I was a lawyer or doctor. I went through phases of wanting to be an archaeologist, a vulcanologist, a heart surgeon, a lawyer, a teacher, and so many more things. I love to learn and there is so much in life that I want to do.

Now, it's not really possible for me to continue my schooling at this point in time, but I can always dream, right? We don't have the money for more school, nor do I have the time for classes or homework. I do dream about it often (especially in September when school is starting up again), although I can't decide what exactly I'd like to do next. I'm toying with a few ideas but I don't know if anything will materialize from it.

My newest dream is getting a Master's in library science. I giggle at the vision of myself as a librarian (I picture glasses and a bun in my hair), but I also think it'd be perfect for me. Organization is one of my strong points and I don't leave the house without some sort of reading material - libraries are a mecca of organization and books. It'd be a perfect combination for me.

For me, the sensation of opening a brand-new book - the smell, the feel of the crisp pages turning in my hands, the anticipation of making a new friend with the characters within - brings an immediate sense of happiness. I'm learning to enjoy the sensations of used books, too. They have their own antique-y smells and a history outside of their pages. Imagine all of the people who enjoyed (or despised) the story you're holding in your hands!

I've come to realize that reading is the perfect escape. For just a little while, I can have that something more that I'm wanting in life. I can experience a life that I wouldn't normally be able to experience. I always return to reality, sometimes reluctantly, but I was able to experience something outside of my world for the time the pages were open before me.

Sharing the new worlds within books with someone else is a wonderful feeling, and I'm enjoying making little readers out of my boys. For school, Charlie and I read at least two books together every day. He enjoys listening to the stories and it makes me so proud to find him sitting with a book and working his way through the story - either remembering what I've previously read or creating his own story from the pictures. Isaac is also quite interested in reading material. He enjoys listening to me read, but at the moment, I think his tastes lean more towards eating. Every time he's near me when I have a magazine, I end up tearing out a page for him to munch on!

When I'm relaxing, it's hard to find me without some sort of reading material in my hands or at least nearby. I love language and seeing the different ways that letters and words can combine to create a great story. I enjoy sharing my literary finds with other people, especially those who aren't normally readers, and I'm always on the lookout for new material. Who knows? Maybe in time, I'll make this my dream my reality.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September 3, 2009

One year ago today, September 3, 2009, was a day our family (and a really good friend) will always remember.

I had dropped Charlie off at Crystal's house and then headed into work to get ready for that month's business meeting, scheduled to start at 9am. I got to the office shortly before 8:30 and started my normal routine. I was able to begin checking my email, say hello to a few agents who arrived early for the meeting and answer a few phone calls before my cell phone rang. I saw it was Crystal calling, answered to have her say, "Can you call me back from your office?" as she knew I wasn't supposed to use my cell phone during office hours.

I hung up and called her back right away to hear her very calmly say, "Charlie fell, something's wrong with his leg, you need to come right away." We hung up, I quickly called a co-worker to cover the phones, and I then interrupted my boss in a meeting to tell him that we thought Charlie broke his leg (thinking I was exaggerating as I had absolutely no idea at this point what was really wrong) and I had to go. I could hear in my voice just how jittery and nervous I was about what I was going to find when I arrived at Crystal's.

As I got to my car, I attempted to call my husband at work to let him know what was going on. I called and got a busy signal. I called again. Same thing. I'm starting to panic now. I call my mother. Answering machine. Call my husband again. Busy signal. Panic.

I called Crystal back to see how Charlie was doing and to see what she thought we should do: call the doctor, call an ambulance (not the best idea out where we live), who knows? Luckily, I was able to reach her. She said she tried to have Charlie stand, he won't put any pressure on the leg and is crying uncontrollably. We were expecting to discover that he had dislocated his knee because his lower leg was very wobbly and almost seemed like it was disconnected at the knee.

We decided I should try the doctor's office to see what their suggestion was. I did, and as I hadn't seen Charlie yet, they wanted me to call back once I arrived at Crystal's house so I could more accurately describe what his leg looked like and go from there. I proceeded to call Crystal back to let her know and he was still crying.

By now, my mother noticed that I called and called me back. She knew I was supposed to be at work and thought it was odd for me to be calling at that time of day. I told her what was going on and told her I would keep her updated. I hung up and tried Chris again. This time I got through and filled him in as I reached Crystal's house.

When I arrived, Charlie was cuddling with Papa, Crystal's grandfather, who often visited during the day. He wasn't full-out crying, but was pretty teary. Once he saw me, tears began again and Crystal attempted to fill me in a bit more over the noise. Charlie was wearing socks and they had a hardwood floor. He was playing peek-a-boo in a doorway and slipped, landing on his knees. I called the doctor's office back, explained that he was in a lot of pain and they told me to bring him to the ER at the hospital and they would inform the ER that we were coming in.

Crystal drove to the hospital with us (Papa stayed with her kids who she had been able to put down for naps while I was driving from work), sitting in the backseat with Charlie in order to (attempt to) stabilize his leg. She was holding his knee and could feel it grind with every bump. We carefully rushed him into the ER and they saw us right away.

Once there, we had to fill them in on what happened while getting Charlie checked out. Now, because we were in the ER with an injured child, we weren't really treated very nicely, I guess you could say. Instead, we were treated as the cause of that injury... child abusers. I was holding Charlie on the exam table and he was starting to calm down a bit. Because he wasn't crying and the leg looked normal, the nurse wasn't taking us too seriously. As horrible as it is, I actually had to jiggle him when she wasn't looking to make him cry so she would understand the seriousness of the situation. When we got his shorts off, we realized that his knee wasn't the problem. His thigh was swollen to 2 or 3 times its normal size.

Charlie was taken in for an x-ray and we followed. Thankfully, Crystal was there to remind me and the x-ray tech that I was 5-months pregnant! I had to stand behind the door while poor Crystal had to help the tech position Charlie for his scans, including straightening out that injured leg.

After x-rays, we were taken to a bed in the ER. I think Charlie was given pain medication, but the doctors and nurses actually didn't fill us in on much, no, make that ANYTHING, of what was going on with my child, so I honestly don't know. When the doctor finally came to talk to us, he was addressing Crystal rather than me and we had to inform him that I was the mother! The doctor informed us that we would be transferred up to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center because Monadnock wasn't equipped to handle pediatrics. At this point, Crystal and I had no idea what was wrong with Charlie's leg! I had to ask! When I did, they informed me that he had a spiral fracture in his left femur - a broken leg.

Next, we had to wait for the ambulance to arrive to transfer us to Dartmouth. I called Chris, informed him of the situation and he left work to come with us. I called my mother to let her know what was going on and she came over to the hospital to be with us while we waited.

Once my mom arrived and was able to stay with Charlie, Crystal was able to return to her kids. As she didn't have a vehicle, she took mine home. On our way to the car, we stopped at the pediatrician's office to see Charlie's doctor and let her know what was going on. The receptionist wasn't going to let us in, but the doctor's assistant (thank you, Tiana!) saw us and waved us in. This was where I lost it. Charlie's doctor was my doctor so I've know her for years. Charlie was (is) a small child and I was peppering her with questions. Did this happen because he's so small? Will it cause any problems for him later? Will he be able to walk normally once he's healed? He'd only been walking for 5 months at this point! Was this somehow MY fault?! She calmed me down, told me what would probably happen and informed me that she knew the Pediatric Orthopedic doctor we would most likely see and that she was wonderful.

After I settled down, Crystal and I walked to my car so I could get a few things and she could head home. I returned to the ER to discover we still had a bit of a wait for the ambulance. While waiting, a volunteer brought in a blanket for Charlie - a wonderful Cheerios blanket that was the only good thing that came out of that ER visit. This volunteer also had paperwork for me to fill out before the ambulance ride. While filling out the paperwork, I wanted to ensure that I would be able to ride in the ambulance with my son. She wasn't sure and asked one of the nurses. The nurse informed me that she wasn't sure, but was guessing no. I promptly informed her that my 22-month-old son who was in a lot of pain from his broken leg would NOT be riding in an ambulance with people he did not know without his mother. She said she would talk to the EMTs when they arrived.

Luckily, we had 2 wonderful female EMTs who told the nurses I could ride with them, up in the front. Once we walked outside, they told me I could ride in the back with Charlie. Big sigh of relief!

My mom and Chris followed the Ambulance up to Dartmouth. To get a sense of our day, Crystal's call came to me shortly before 9am. I had at least a 20 minute ride to her house, time to call the doctor once there, another 20 minute ride to Monadnock, time waiting before x-rays, time for x-rays, time waiting for ambulance. By the time we headed up to Dartmouth, it was around 1pm and it was about a 90-minute ride. Once at Dartmouth, we had to go through the whole ER thing again. At least Dartmouth had a special pediatric ER and each room had its own bathroom (with 2 toilets, too - an adult-sized one and a child-sized one - the coolest thing!) - a wonderful blessing with me being pregnant!

The nurses and doctors at Dartmouth were friendlier than those at Monadnock, but because we were suspects in our child's injury, they weren't that friendly. We were questioned about what happened, informed that because of the injury, Charlie would have to go through a whole body scan to check for other possible abuse, etc. We were fine with this. Eventually, because of our story, the nurses/doctors decided that the full body scan wasn't necessary and the tone of things got a bit nicer. Charlie had to go for another x-ray of the injury and we had to wait.

The staff at Dartmouth was also wonderful enough to inform us of everything they were doing to our son. After x-rays, we were informed that, unfortunately, they wouldn't be able to cast his leg that night, but the next morning. That night, they would splint his leg and send us up to CHAD to spend the night.

I left the room for the splinting. It involved drugging Charlie briefly (with a short-acting drug that wouldn't knock Charlie out, but would give him an out-of-body experience so he would be awake but not be able to feel the pain of them straightening out his leg) and they informed me that it can be traumatic for parents to see their child like that, so my mom and I left while Chris stayed with him. I called Crystal to let her know what was going on while we waited.

After the splinting, we returned to the room and waited some more. Have you noticed a theme here yet? We had to wait for a special transfer technician to come transfer us up to CHAD. Once up there, the nurses gave 11am as a time for Charlie's casting the next morning. We settled in for the night and my mom headed back home.

Normally, CHAD only allows one parent to spend the night at a time. Because we were so far from home and not a long-term stay, they allowed us both to stay and we curled up on a pull-out chair for the night. VERY cozy - keep in mind that I'm 5-months pregnant. LOL I'm very glad I was prepared to go to the gym after work that day because I had a gym bag packed with sneakers and gym clothes and wasn't forced to spend our entire hospital stay in work clothes and high heels.

The next morning, breakfast arrived for Charlie and we waited some more. Charlie's injury occurred right before Labor Day weekend, so not too many doctors were around. My mom came back up on Friday to give us a little moral support. We waited and waited and the 11am casting ended up happening around 2pm. By the time the casting was over, it was close to 4pm and the nurses had to make sure we were able to handle the cast at home so we had to stay ANOTHER night.

Because of the nature of Charlie's break, he was to be in a SPICA cast for the next 5 weeks. The cast went around his waist and down his entire left leg. At 22 months, he was still in diapers so diapering required a newborn diaper in the open area under the cast and a size-5 diaper wrapped around the entire cast to keep the smaller diaper in place.

Because the cast went the full length of Charlie's leg, he was quite awkward and we had to learn to move him as well as diaper him. Another thing to worry about was whether or not his car seat would accommodate the cast. Luckily, it did and we didn't have to borrow a special one from the hospital.

Amazingly, Charlie did very well during this whole ordeal. For an active little boy, he was quite calm and under control, not even too teary about being in any pain. Once that cast was on, he didn't complain once about his leg hurting and when we returned home with him, we didn't feel the need to keep him on pain medication past the first day. He rolled with the situation very well; he knew something serious was wrong and that he couldn't move around as he normally did, even though he didn't understand exactly what had happened to him.

Once we knew we had to spend Friday night at the hospital again, Chris and my mom drove back home so that Chris could get our vehicle and some necessities. While Charlie and I were waiting for Dad, we did some walking around the hospital hallways with me pulling Charlie in a Radio Flyer wagon. He was very bossy telling me to keep walking him around and I was extremely compliant. :)

We were finally able to head home late afternoon on Saturday and start acclimating ourselves to dealing with a small child in a huge cast. Charlie did very well and we even took him to the Hopkinton Fair while in his cast! Labor Day was Monday and I ended up taking the rest of the week off from work. I think Chris returned to work on Thursday. I was nervous to send Charlie back to Crystal's right away because that cast was SUCH a pain to deal with.

After that first week, the cast was a bit easier to deal with. We were so afraid that moving would hurt him, but it didn't bother him at all. Once the cast was on, he was a pretty happy boy.... at least in terms of pain. :) The cast made him weigh quite a bit - probably more than he weighs now at almost 3 - but it also made propping him on your hip a bit easier because the bend in the cast fit just right. I will say that a parent doesn't fully understand a "poop-tastrophe" until they have a child in a SPICA cast and the poop ends up underneath the back of the cast when you can't fully get up there to clean it! YUCK!

The 5 weeks went by pretty quickly, apart from having to add weekly doctor's appointments for Charlie (first at Dartmouth, then later at the Dartmouth Clinic in Manchester - which I hated by the way; the staff there was horrible) to my monthly pregnancy appointments. In addition to hospital bills not covered by insurance, it all added up to a lot of time taken off from work!

By the 3rd week, Charlie was crawling around in his cast.

By the 4th, he was walking in it. Very comical!

It was amazing to see the x-rays progress each week. Children heal so fast! I can remember thinking there is no way 5 weeks will be long enough for him to heal and I was prepared to have the doctors keep it on longer to be safe, but by the 5th week's x-ray, you could only see a bump of new bone where the break had healed. The cast was sawed off and the back half of it was made into a splint to support muscles that might be weak from lack of use. We Ace-bandaged the splint to his leg for the first day or two, but thereafter, life was pretty much back to normal.

Cold weather occasionally bothers his bone and for the unsuspecting person (Auntie!), Charlie will say his leg hurts so he can be carried, but for the most part, you would never suspect that anything had happened to Charlie just one year ago.

Well, apart from his parents being deathly afraid of the combination of socks and hardwood floors. :)