Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Wednesday Toddler Tuesday

I haven’t much been in the mood lately to write a Toddler Tuesday. Not sure why. But I have a few minutes, so I’ll write a few things.

Miss Anne is now 16 months old. She no longer looks like a little baby, though she is still quite small for her age. She has yet to hit the 20-pound mark on the scale. She has, however, gotten really good at weighing herself. She’s clearly imitating her Daddy, who weighs himself every morning. (No, Mommy does not go near the scale. Mommy is allergic.)

Speaking of Daddy, he’s been scarce these past few days. He left Friday morning and didn’t come back until Sunday afternoon because of work. And then he left Monday morning and didn’t see her awake again until today (thanks to two late meetings on Monday and Tuesday nights). This morning, when I brought her to our bed as always, she yelled, “Dada!” and crawled over to him and kissed his face. She couldn’t stop grinning and leaning against him and kissing him. He said it was a nice way to wake up.

She’s quite the kisser, our little Anne. There is nothing sweeter than getting a kiss, unasked for, from her.

She loves to sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” because she can clap her hands and stomp her feet. I added another verse, “If you’re happy and you know it, kiss a frog.” She runs to wherever her Froggie is (sometimes in the next room), grabs him, and kisses him. Then the brings him to me so I can kiss him, too. So cute.

She’s a little obsessed with frogs. When we’re reading a book, if there’s a frog on the page, she squeals and points to it. If we go to Wal-Mart and she sees a frog stuffed animal, she squeals and runs to it. The girl loves frogs.

She loves to squeal when she’s happy, too.

She also loves clocks (the round kind, with the hands). Whenever she sees one, she squeals, points to it, and yells, “Cah!”

She also likes to play chase, with me chasing her. I’ll say, “Better watch out, Mommy’s gonna catch you!” and she takes off running, squealing with delight the whole time. I run after her, and when I catch her, I hug her and she just cackles with glee. So much fun. It’s during our games of chase that my face starts hurting from smiling so much.

When it’s time for a bath, I’ll say, “Anne, are you ready for your bath?” Up she goes, straight to her room, to open the drawer where we keep her towels and washcloths. By the time I get to the bathroom, she’s standing by the tub, towel and three or four washcloths in her hands.

She seems to be allergic to something other than the milk, eggs, soy, cats, and dogs that showed up on her allergy panel. The other night, she had a strong reaction (hives on the face and hands) to leftover spaghetti, which she’d eaten a couple nights before with no issues. She did get spaghetti sauce all over her face and hands this time, which she doesn’t always do, so I’m thinking the sauce may be irritating her skin. Sigh.

Miss Anne is still breastfeeding in the mornings and at night. Some days she doesn’t seem as interested, but on the weekends we’re back to several times a day. I don’t know when we’ll stop—it may be next month, it may be six months from now. I’m in no hurry, except for the fact that I really need to be on antidepressants, and I can’t start them until she’s weaned. Sigh again.

Anne continues to love music. I’ve gotten to where I can play piano for her a few minutes a night, and she loves it. She also likes to have music playing as she goes to sleep at night. She actually goes to the CD player in her room and presses “Play” before she crawls into my lap to read or nurse. And if the CD skips, she gets a little flustered, stops nursing, and waits for me to “fix” it. Sadly, one of our oft-played CDs of “sleepy classical music” (that’s what it says on the cover) is dying and skips (and gets stuck) a lot.

I don’t need no stinkin’ “sleepy classical music” CD anyway. Tonight she’ll listen to a “real” classical CD from my collection.

Anyway, back to Anne. That sweet darling.

Actually, I think this is the end of today’s Toddler Tuesday. I adore Miss Anne and am so excited that my busy season at work is over, and I’ll now get to spend more than a couple of hours with her each night.

Sorry I don't have any pictures to share today. Scroll down to my most recent "Multitude Monday" post, and you'll see a few there.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Six Years Ago Today: The Beatles Invasion of 1985

I can't believe it's been six years since I wrote "The Beatles Invasion of 1985." It's one of my favorite blog posts I've ever written, so I thought I'd share it with you today. Click the link above and enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Multitude Monday #18

Today I'm most thankful for the end of tax season (#300 in my list!). I don't know if that's a gift from God, but I sure am thankful for it. Combine tax season with development season, and that's about seven months of long work hours and time away from my little girl. I'm ready for a more flexible few months.

Dan had to work all weekend, but Anne and I still managed to have a wonderful couple of days together. Our exciting activities included a birthday party for a three-year old, and trips to the gear store, the health food store, the bakery, and the dollar store. (I think everyone in the dollar store knew Anne's name by the time we left; I must have said things like, "Anne, come back here," "Not in the mouth, Anne," "Anne, take Mommy's hand now," "Anne, put that back up," etc., the entire time I was there.)

Here are a few other things I'm thankful for these days:

301. dogwoods blooming

302. azaleas blooming

303. irises blooming

304. spring, spring, spring!

305. "Wild Geese," by Mary Oliver--a poem that has been on my mind a lot lately

306. Ella Monk--my sweet niece with the jazzy name and the beautiful smile

307. Sunday afternoons at the playground with Anne, Ella, and my sister, Megan

308. smiling so much my face hurts at the end of the day

309. the way Anne wants to carry her new Camelbak water bottle everywhere--just like Mommy

310. little girls in party hats

Anne at the birthday party

Making friends

311. profiles

No, she didn't keep the party hat on for long

312. the privilege of being Anne's mommy

313. healing

314. dancing

315. Schumann's "The Happy Farmer"--never one of my favorites, but Anne loves it, so I've dug out my old sheet music and am dusting this one off.

316. Anne's "funny face"--and how much it looks like my trademark funny face

I'll try to find a picture of my funny face for comparison ...
317. the brave American soldiers who fought in WWII (I'm reading a book about it now and am wide-eyed at how much I've taken for granted for most of my life.)

I know I ended that on a serious note, but hey ... I write these as they come to mind. For more gratitude thoughts around the blogosphere, check out Ann Voskamp's blog.

Hope everyone has a good week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sad, and Counting the Time

I've been so busy, and feeling really sad. Missing my sweet daughter as we work these long (10-hour) work days this week. I hate missing that sweet girl.

Trying to focus on being thankful that I at least get to see her a few hours a day. It's better than never being able to see her at all. She's alive and healthy and happy (other than some general crankiness this week--seems she misses her mommy, too).

I love my sweet baby. I miss her. And I'm so ready for these long hours to end.

Today, tomorrow, and Monday. And then our company goes back to a "normal" work schedule.

I'm counting the hours. And counting the minutes (about 110 as of right now) until I can hold, and hug, and kiss my sweet li'l boo again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Multitude Monday #17

I had the most delightful weekend with Miss Anne. We spent all day Saturday together while Dan worked at camp, and then the whole family spent the day together Sunday. Friends, I cannot tell you how rare it is that we have a Saturday like the one we just had--where Anne and I can stay home and have nowhere to go and no one to meet. And it was nice to have family time on Sunday. Sadly, that's not such a common thing, either.

I also got a bit of free time. Sunday morning before church, I got to go out for a short run. While Anne napped that afternoon, I got to lie down for a nap myself. I didn't fall asleep, but at least it was "down time."

(One thing I realized while trying to nap: I have trouble falling asleep at night because, just as I'm drifting into dreamland, I wake up with something like being on the verge of a panic attack. When I wake up in the morning, I can barely open my mouth because I've been clenching my jaw all night. I knew this was happening, but I don't think about it in the light of day. Two hours of trying to fall asleep, and waking up in a mild panic every 15-20 minutes, triggered the memory of what happens to me throughout the night.)

I'm looking forward to a time (if one ever comes) when I'm not teeth-clenchingly stressed. All this decluttering has helped, but I still have a long way to go. Perhaps gratitude will be easier once I get "there." (Ha.) For now, here are a few items I was particularly thankful for last week:

271. weekends with no plans

272. learning to pour water (Anne's latest achievement)

273. healthy, home-cooked food

274. the way the sidewalk glistens in the morning sunlight

275. the sound of my own footfalls as I run

276. wildflowers blooming--particularly the violets

277. phlox, too

Anne and Froggie, picking flowers
278. one little curl

279. a husband who thinks I am beautiful

280. safe journeys home

281. a letter from my Compassion child, written a few days after her birthday, telling me of the specific gifts I "gave" her through a monetary birthday gift

282. how she signed it, "Consuelo, 10 years old"--forgetting she'd just turned 11

283. Romans 8:28 ... and the knowledge that it's all going to work out

284. Anne's two-year-old cousin Ella's compassion: When Anne forgot "Froggie" at their house two weekends ago, Ella took care of him (even taking him to dinner with them, and keeping him in her bed at night) for Anne for the entire week before we could get him again.

285. my husband's generosity. Sometimes it makes me crazy, but I'm ultimately thankful to be married to such a generous man.

286. the first warm days of the year

287. spending them at the playground with Anne

Yes, it was warm enough for a sleeveless top!

And sandals! Giddy-up, you old frog!

Climbing the steps to the "big" slide

288. my friend Jammie, and her journey

289. loving friends so much that their joys are your joys

290. and their sorrows your sorrows, and their tears your tears

291. Anne's kisses

292. Dan's kisses

293. oranges--I have been eating them daily, and they are so yummy!

294. Anne's little "twist-move" on the slide: a third of the way down, she lies down and twists over to her belly

Anne, ready to go down the slide
295. in letting go of books, being able to let go of certain ideas I had about myself ... and being okay with that

296. the way Anne laughs when I pretend to eat her fingers and toes

297. the way Anne laughs, period.

298. Anne's crazy hair that goes every which way, no matter what we do

299. when my mostly unsnuggly (unless you're Froggie) toddler wants to snuggle ... ahhh, it's the sweetest gift in the whole world.

I'll stop here, and save the triumph of reaching #300 for next week. :-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Decluttering V: Finding Time in a Cluttered Schedule

As I re-read my “Decluttering” posts, I realize that they’re mostly rambly and pointless to anyone but me. My apologies. The blog is serving as a sort of journal lately, and as a means for decluttering my own thoughts. It helps to write it all down here, even if it doesn’t make for the most interesting reading.

I am about halfway through Tsh Oxenreider’s Organized Simplicity. Some of the book has been helpful—the suggestion to create a family purpose statement, for instance. Other parts have been less so. It's pretty much geared toward stay-at-home moms. It’s hard to be a “home manager” when you're rarely at home.

Still, much of the book has been helpful so far. One exercise it has you do (starting on p. 55) is to make lists of three things:

1. Everything you’d like to enjoy each month but currently aren’t doing
2. Basic tasks you think you need to do to live
3. All the things you do in an average month

One you’ve made the three lists, you compare them, circling the items on your third list that aren’t present on the other two. “Those,” she writes, “are the potential time-eating culprits.”

So, let’s look at my lists.

Here’s List 1 (Things I’d like to enjoy each month but currently am not doing)

List 1 (click to enlarge)
 Here’s List 2, of basis tasks I think I need to do to live:

List 2 (click to enlarge)
And List 3, all the things I do in an average month:

List 3 (click to enlarge)
The highlighted items are the “potential time-wasters.” Er ... maybe some of those should have been in one of the previous lists. Let’s look at them all:

- Check e-mail: I discussed this in my previous post. I could definitely check my personal e-mail less often, particularly since I don’t typically have much in my inbox.

- Care for Anne: This probably should have been in List 2 ... or List 1!

- Wait for computer to load: Maybe I need to use our PC and accept that my laptop is ready to go home to the Great Toshiba Factory in the Sky.

- Check Facebook: I’m spending between zero and 15 minutes a day on Facebook. I don’t know if it’s really a time-waster for me at this point; it’s useful for some things, and I’ve gotten pretty good at using it efficiently.

- Wonder what’s for dinner: I do this a lot, particularly since Anne can’t have dairy, eggs, or soy. Meal-planning is tough when neither parent gets home until 7:00 at night. We do sometimes plan a week’s meal in advance and can do that more. I’ll need to make time on Saturday to do the planning so I can get the necessary groceries on Sunday.

- Snack: I need to snack less. That’s a given.

- Look up egg-free, dairy free, and soy-free recipes online: Since I don’t have any “specialty” cookbooks and am not eager to buy yet more books, I used the Internet a lot for finding recipes. I’ll generally do this a few minutes before I leave work, frantically trying to figure out what’s for dinner, and if I need to run by the grocery store on my way home.

- Listen to podcasts in the car: Not sure if this is a time-waster. I’m in the car roughly 30 minutes a day. Podcasts make me think and help the time go by.

- Call my mom while driving to or from Angela’s: Now that’s what I call family quality time! This is what I do when I’m not listening to podcasts.

- Take Anne to playground: A time-waster? I don’t think so!

One area I can improve is in meal planning. For part of the year, this is a real challenge; for much of January 1 through mid-April, I work 9–7 or 10–8, and for much of late September through December 31, I work between 45 and 60 hours a week. Dan helps, but his work schedule is pretty crazy; for the past three years, he’s been gone for 10 weeks every summer, plus he works 20 or more weekends a year and has many meetings where he doesn’t get home until almost 10:00 at night on weeknights.

(It’s amazing we recognize each other at the end of the day. And that Anne realizes that, yes, we are her parents.)

(OK, now I'm depressed.)

Anyway, I definitely can improve in the area of meal-planning. I can do the recipe research on Saturdays, in time for the Sunday night shopping trip. That’s just one thing, but it’s one more thing than what I was doing previously.

Here concludes yet another rambling post on decluttering and time management. Unfortunately, it left me feeling kind of discouraged. The next post will probably be on the family purpose statementsomething I'm very excited about!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Anne's Cute Spaghetti Picture

I think all toddlers in the U.S. are required to take a cute spaghetti picture. And all moms who blog are required to post them. So, in keeping with the requirements ...

Yes, she loves spaghetti!

Decluttering IV: Clearing the Mind

My mind is cluttered: messy, disorganized, and full of junk that's better thrown away. I want to declutter my mind without losing all the valuable stuff ... which means it probably won't do to drown it all in a bottle (or five) of fine red wine.

Ah, well. Making lists and setting priorities may not be as fun, but it'll be a lot more effective (I hope).

Prompted by the books Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent and Organized Simplicity, I've done a few simple exercises to start clearing the mind-clutter.

1. Making an inventory of what I do with every minute of every day.
2. Making three lists: What I wish I had time for, what I need to do to survive, and what I actually do with my time. List #3 was easy since I'd taken the "time inventory" several weeks before.
3. Work (with Dan) on writing a family purpose statement.

I'll write three blog posts focusing on each exercise. Today I'm writing about the time inventory.

I learned a few things from the time inventory:

- I spend a more time with Anne than I realized. This was a relief. I'm constantly beating myself up for not being there for Miss Anne. Even though I do work long hours, I spend the majority of my non-work, non-sleeping, non-housework time giving her my undivided attention.

- I check my e-mail a lot. Rarely do I visit Gmail for more than one or two minutes, but I do visit a dozen or so times throughout the day. Funny because I'm such a poor e-mail correspondent that I rarely have any e-mail, and I delete any junk mail unread. Still, that's 15-30 minutes per day (several hours a week!) that I waste checking an empty inbox.

- I don't spend nearly as much time blogging and looking at Facebook as I thought.

- I spend a lot more time than I realized waiting for my slow computer to do things like open Word or load a web page. Maybe it's time to get a new computer?

- I don't sleep enough. (As if I needed a time inventory to tell me that.)

- This is probably just a typical "mom" thing, but ... I don't stop all day. From when I wake up in the morning until I fall exhausted into bed at night, I don't stop for "me time." I have about 30 minutes myself at night after Anne goes to sleep and before I crash. I generally spend that half-hour running on the treadmill (a real one, not a metaphorical one ... though I guess I'm on that one a lot, too) and waiting for things to load on my computer.

- I could do a better job of setting aside "me time" on weekends, but I don't do it because "Anne time" seems more important than "me time" (and "Dan time"--sorry, Hubby.) I see her so rarely during the week that the thought of finding a babysitter for Saturday morning so I can get my hair cut or go on a long run is just ... unthinkable.

- I spend a lot of time snacking. It takes just a few minutes to go to the pantry for a cracker, or the fridge for leftovers, but it adds up. I knew I was snacking too much. The time inventory confirmed that, and told me I was spending too much time snacking as well.

- "Important things" like piano, writing, prayer, Bible reading, and time with Dan all fall last in the priority list.

When I did a similar "money inventory" years ago, I was shocked to see how much money per month I was spending on things like coffee, bagels, and lunch. The inventory was a wake-up call, and it caused me to change my habits drastically. I was hoping this "time inventory" would do the same thing. However, as I look at my time usage laid out in front of me, I'm seeing that I really don't have a lot of free time, and that I'm actually pretty good at managing what little time I have. I can shave a few minutes here and there by curtailing the e-mail-checking and snacking, but there aren't any huge swaths of time there that I wasn't aware of before.

Still, I need to work out a way to fit in more of the important things. I'll focus on that in my next "Decluttering" post.

Meanwhile it looks like this mind-decluttering thing is going to be harder than the money thing, and probably harder than the stuff-decluttering thing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Decluttering III: Our Neat House

It isn't that neat, but it's better.

My apologies for the weird coloring in some of the pictures. For some reason, our flash wouldn't work for a couple of hours.

For comparison pics, click here.

Here's our kitchen counter:

We use the bread machine several times a month, but not enough to justify having it take up half the far counter space. So it, and the food processor (which I use once every few months, maybe), are in a storage bin in the bottom of my closet. We decided that I use the mixer enough to keep it out.

This table was in a "nook" in the living room previously. It was where I would do my writing. Since I've been too busy and/or exhausted to do any writing of late, we decided to move the table back into the kitchen. We threw a cute $2 tablecloth from Big Lots over it, and voila! We now have a spot to eat breakfast.

Here's the ugly dresser, all cleaned off:

My bedside table is a little better, though it could still use some work:

This is Rabbit Pig:

I have a story about Rabbit Pig that I'll share with you some other day. We found him in the decluttering process, and I tossed him onto the bed because I didn't know what else to do with him. (He had a brief stint in the "Goodwill" bag, but I took him out. I can't get rid of Rabbit Pig. Ever. So Rabbit Pig is now the centerpiece of our otherwise ugly bed.)

(We bought the ugly bed at a liquidation sale in 2006. We were suffering from several years of poor sleep on an old double bed. We were desperate, so we bought the bedroom suite I hated the least. I learned a lesson: No matter how desperate you are, never buy "permanent" type furniture out of desperation. And if you have to say, "Well, this one is the least ugly of what's available," then you probably shouldn't buy it.)

Here's my dresser again, all cleared off. The bookcase is still there:

Now we're downstairs in the "office" section of the finished basement. Believe it or not, I got rid of about 40 books. I know ... 40 isn't a lot. But it's a start. We still need to get rid of the jumperoos and walker. All the other junk from the previous picture is gone, mostly to Dan's Rotary Club for their big yard sale later this spring.

We decided to move the treadmill to the "office" section. So I guess it's an "office/gym" section now, particularly since the ball and my handweights are right there with the treadmill.

So, that's today's decluttering post. I've been working, with some success, on decluttering my mind. More on that later.

Monday, April 4, 2011

MM #16: Wayah Bald and Winding Stair

Yesterday, we took a short hike on the Rufus Morgan Trail to see Rufus Morgan Falls. Alas, we forgot the camera in the car and took no pictures.

After that hike, we headed up to Wayah Bald, since it was a gorgeous day and the views promised to be spectacular.

And they were. (We remembered the camera this time!)

View from Wayah Bald Observation Tower

Anne and I walked the path to the tower. In front of us is a northbound AT thru-hiker; there were lots of them in town this weekend. The two guys in front of him are Chili and Pepper, friends of ours who are hiking from Springer to Damascus (about 500 miles) right now.

Anne was more interested in exploring the rocks and grass than she was in walking up the hill. No, I'm not picking my nose in this picture. I think I'm biting my fingernails. Attractive, huh?

Dan and Anne taking in the view.

Is her Eagle Scout daddy teaching her to use a compass already?

Waterfall (me), Scout (Anne), and Chili on Wayah Bald

This morning, it was time for the hikers to go back "home" to the Appalachian Trail. I dropped Chili, Pepper, and Hopeful (a thru-hiker and an old friend who stayed with us all weekend) at Winding Stair Gap before taking Anne to her sitter's for the day.

Anne and Chili (her new best friend) at a chilly, windy
Winding Stair Gap. (Happy 12th birthday, Chili!)

Chili, Anne, and Pepper

Hopeful prepares to hit the Trail again.

Anne helps Chili ready his pack (She's trying to
give him a tube of hand sanitizer!)

Anne and her second-favorite "Grandpa," Hopeful

Me, Hopeful, and Anne. Time to say good-bye.
It was a great weekend, and I have a lot to be thankful for.

251. cold breezes on warm days

252. thru-hikers (my tribe)

253. clear days where you can see forever

254. short trails to waterfalls

255. the first wildflowers of spring--the redbuds are starting to bloom, and we spotted a few yellow violets and a trout lily on the Rufus Morgan Trail)

256. trail maintainers

257. Chili and Pepper - good friends, and a father/son duo who thru-hiked the AT last year, when Cameron ("Chili") was 11 years old.

258. Hopeful - a hiking friend from 'way back, who thru-hiked in 2003 and is thru-hiking again this year

259. having time to bake up a batch of oatmeal cookies

260. having time to share conversation with Hopeful over a cup of coffee

261. other friends we got to see this weekend - Jennifer Pharr Davis, Tenacious Tanasi, Ox, Miss Janet, Circuit Rider, Sherlock, Smokestack, Mother Nature, and others

262. trail names--I just love that I have all these treasured friends, and I don't even know most of their real names

262. a "For Sale" sign in front of the house (though I'll be much more grateful for a "Sold" sign!)

263. Anne's delight at seeing a tall waterfall up close

264. having a few minutes to play the piano (while someone else does the dishes!)

265. the way Anne dances when I play ragtime on the piano

266. the quick friendship that struck up between Chili and Anne

267. how Anne immediately ran to Hopeful, arms outstretched, when she first saw him. ("She knows a grandpa when she sees one," Hopeful said knowingly.) (She'd only met him a couple of times before, and very briefly then.)

268. this book, which a friend of mine recommended. It might have to join Learned Optimism, Your Money or Your Life, and Organizing from the Inside Out as one of the few self-help books that have actually helped this inflexible old self.

269. the ability to explore and appreciate the wonder of God's creation

270. being able to share that wonder with friends--and with Anne

Blogging Elsewhere

Hi, Strangers! I've been blogging with my friend Anh over at Then a Gentle Whisper . Check it out!