day one: monkey style

My Little Monkey,

Today, I decided to undertake a grand adventure with you. You threw away your diapers, and we took a step toward being a big boy. I just went back and read the entry from the first night we did this with your brother, and all I can say is you are a much easier child sometimes.

You turned two about 3 weeks ago, and I decided we should try this whole potty business with you. Since our method involves staying home for (at least) 3 days straight and we're always on the run, it seemed a good time to hunker down and get it done. You had shown no real interest in using the potty besides using it as a chair while fully dressed. You did tell me once before you had to go, and I managed to get you there on time. That was about a month ago and a total fluke.

I'm not sure why I wasn't as stressed with you as I was with your brother. Perhaps because I knew it was a stage and the first day was going to be emotionally draining. Perhaps because your big brother was testing his boundaries and my frustration had another direction. Perhaps because I'm already dreaming of the facebook status that tells the world 2011 is the last year of diapers for our family.

Daddy is "home", but he's in month 2 of shift work so we don't see him awake very often. He was quite surprised to come home from work and find you running around in a t-shirt, baby legs and real undies. Daddy was nice enough to order pizza since I was so focused on keeping our floor as clean as possible.

Our biggest issue was getting you to go to the bathroom at all. I stuffed you full of juice, gave you some salty food to make you drink some more, and offered some more milk and water.

Bear caught on halfway through day 2. I have no idea when in this 3 day process it will click for you. You did stop yourself after a little dribble tonight. You wouldn't go once you were on the potty, but you at least knew you weren't supposed to use the floor for that. I know you though, Monkey. I have become a master on bodily functions in my 4 years of mothering. I knew you had to poop, waited until you could not go back, and pushed you into your potty chair. You weren't a fan of Momma wrestling you in, but you did like the sticker and cookie reward after.

I can't wait for what tomorrow is going to bring. I know we'll be able to do this, and I am so happy to be able to stay at home and do it with you.



merry christmas

merry christmas

and a happy new year.



We raise them patriotic.


(incourage) brighten a day

I worked at Hallmark in high school. True story. It made me a bit of a card snob; American Greetings just doesn't cut it. The Hallmark I worked at also carried a line of Christian based cards under the label DaySpring. You can find their products online and in most Christian bookstores. I've always loved their simple messages and comforting colors.

As a mom, I've also become much more aware of the things we have in our house. I want the boys to grow up in a Christian home and that means more than bedtime prayers and church on Sundays. I want to live a Christian life to the best of my abilities. That means lots of love, forgiveness and faith.

I remember a sermon when I was a kid that talked about what our houses say about our faith. If someone came into your house and looked at your calendar, would he know you were a Christian? If he looked in your checkbook would be see you living a giving life. If Jesus walked into your house right now, would you be ashamed of any of the books, magazines or shows on your DVR?

One of the things I want the boys to know is that we are meant to support each other. While we can't fix everyone's troubles, we can offer encouragement, prayers and love. While mission trips are great and needed, there is plenty of support we can give from our own homes.

Back before Bear and Monkey entered my life, I would spend hours searching for the perfect card. Now, I live more in the grab and go world. When I was glancing through their products, I loved the set of Hope & Encouragement cards. Real cards have the ability to change someone's day, and the 10 pack was more realistic than buying cards one and a time. There's always someone in my life that could use a pick me up. Having the cards already at home means I won't be making excuses for not doing my part to lighten other's burdens. I was a little concerned with buying a bulk pack. You know they always put the most adorable one on top and then you get the awkward ones at the bottom. I was so pleased that every single card was just as meaningful and honest as the last.

I also loved that at the top of the pack they included a sheet for you to list 10 people in your life that could use some encouragement. What a simple way to remind others that you care. Spending 5 minutes listing people out is another way to keep the cards and love from being shoved to the bottom of the to do pile. (You know you have a pile just like that on your counter.)
Head over to DaySpring to see how you can brighten a day or read the reviews of others to get some ideas for simple acts to encourage others.

I was sent a package of these adorable cards for free to share them my opinions with others. There is no other compensation besides the package of cards and allowing me to brighten someone's day.


still here

We're still here. I just needed a time out to spend time with my family and get back to the things that I really value.
I have lots of things to share. But, this will do for now.


face the rear

The AAP updated their guidelines for car seats today. They now suggest that children rear face (look out the back of a car instead of the windshield) until they are 2 years old.

I posted a link to the Chicago Tribune article on Facebook last night. I was shocked at the immediate strong negative reactions. Why are so many moms against safety? People commented that their legs looked smushed and that their kid would have hated it.

Our parents didn't wear seat belts when they were kids. They survived. Is this evidence that seat belts don't work? Should we all demand that the government is crazy for recommending them?

Children's joints are different than adults'. How many times have you seen a kid sleeping in a way that looks completely awkward and uncomfortable? They like small spaces. Their legs will not be broken. (I've heard that there has never been a documented case of a child breaking a leg because they were rear facing. I can't find any proof of this right now though.) Besides, you can fix a broken leg. You can not fix a broken spine.

Just because you survived or your older children survived does not matter.
What should matter is if you were ever in a car accident rear facing keeps your child safer. 5 times safer. While you might be proving a point by switching your child forward facing at a year and 20 pounds, is that really a point worth making? Is the potential of that choice being responsible for killing your child worth it? No one is trying to control you or your child. They're trying to keep your baby safe. In a way that requires no extra money or effort.

Parenting is full of making your kids unhappy. Of not doing the "fun" thing. I think my mom told me when I was about 16 that it was her job to make me unhappy. Her job was to make me safe and unhappy.

Each parent has the right to make their own choice.
Just make it an informed choice.



In case you couldn't tell, we're really excited for spring weather to be here.
Even if it is just for a day.


embrace the camera: march 17

I love that Emily asks us to take a picture with our kids each week. Bear is quite the self centered little kid, and he loves having his picture taken. I love how he's all decked out in his St Patrick's Day gear. I made his shirt, and my mom sent him the green visor. Just Momma and Bear hanging out while Monkey takes his nap.


coming home

When Hubby and I chose to get married, we both knew he was in the military. We both knew that our life together would involve long absences and hard good byes. We were both willing participants in this adventure of being a military family.

Bear and Monkey never got that choice. They never had the option to say "yes it's worth it" or "no I don't think I'm up for the emotional roller coaster". We signed them up. Their life is just as rough as mine is. And, they have no idea about the reasons why Daddy disappears or any real concept of how long he'll be gone.

I worry sometimes about the things we put the boys through. I want someone else to take on that burden for a while. Can't it be someone else's turn for their Daddy to leave?

Lifetime has started a new TV show called Coming Home. You need to watch it. Please spend 15 minutes to see what life is like for these kids. I'm not asking you to send your Hubby away for months; I'm asking for 15 minutes to see what these military kids go through.


best thing

I teach Sunday School for third and fourth graders at our church. This Sunday's lesson was on Matthew 17 and the transfiguration. In the story, God says "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 17:5 KJV).

The kids all made signs for the best thing they could hear God say about them. We talked about how God really feels that way about each one of us, and we all have the potential for those signs to be true.

We are the kindest people.
We always try our best.
We are good.
We are loved.

God's compliment was one of the best I've ever heard though. I want to be wanted and loved and make God happy.

What's the best thing anyone could every say about you?


2011: month 2

Two months have gone by since we all made big lists of how our 2011s were going to go. I thought it was time to check in to hold myself accountable and to see how everyone else is doing.

My goals were:
*Read 30 books. I've read 9 so far which makes me 30% of the way there. I'm really hoping to exceed my goal. I go in stages where I devour books and then nothing happens. Well honestly, Facebook and TV happen, but nothing productive happens. I'm glad I've stayed on track so far.

*Be serious with the budget. We went on our huge vacation in February. I've been cutting back and trying to only buy what we need (or really, really want). It's a slow lifestyle change, and that's the kind that's going to stick.

*52 dates. Fail. The only real date we've gone on was on vacation when we ate dinner by ourselves. We do have one scheduled for next Saturday. This is something that I really need to make an effort to improve.

*Be patient. Despite yesterday's huge failure, I feel like I'm making strides to be the mom I want to be. Finding me time and time for my faith have really helped me grow. There will be the screw ups, but that's also a time to show Bear and Monkey that Momma isn't perfect and how to handle the times when you need to say "I'm sorry."

How are you doing in 2011? You still have 10 months to make it happen.


in order to get the best view

sometimes you have to do a little work


Yesterday was a rough day. More honestly, 11 am until 11:15 was an excruciating 15 minutes. The kind of 15 minutes that can ruin an entire day.

Bear had gone to a friend's house to play while I had taken Monkey to his tumble class.

Monkey and I went in to get him. He refused to leave. Like no joke bones turned to jello, laying on the floor and screaming.

I tried to be patient with him. I finally got his shoes and coat on and grabbed Monkey. We've just stepped outside when Bear loses it again.

Screaming at me.
In the middle of the street.
In the pouring rain.

I can't just walk away. He's in the middle of the street.
I can't pick him up and carry him. I holding a squirmy Monkey and Bear is thrashing about.

A car starts coming down the street.

So I screamed at Bear. As loud and as harshly as I could.
I told him to get in the car. I told him to stop embarrassing me. I told him he was being hateful and I was done putting up with it.

I strapped them in their car seats and climbed in. And, then I cried. I made my 3 year old cry. I had lost control of him and myself. I was showing it was okay to scream and be hurtful when you're upset.

I had failed.

A few hugs, two apologies and a few hours later, we were back to normal. We're learning this 3 year old thing together. This is my first time parenting a 3 year old boy and it's his first time being one. We're going to have some mistakes along the way. We're going to have some hurt feelings. That's how it goes. It's my job to raise him up. I remind myself it's a process that takes years. God has chosen me to be his momma. And as long as we have love and forgiveness, we'll be just fine in the end.



Today, we had Bear's first parent-teacher conferences.

He's in pre-school so it wasn't exactly hard core. It was the first time that trained people sat me down and talked about his development. His doctor goes over a few milestones at each well child appointment, but it's always been a "does he do this? okay" type of discussion.

It was weird to have someone give me goals for him. A written list of the things he does well and the things he doesn't. While I might have a been a bit defensive, I think I'm okay with admitting his weaknesses.

Here in the state of Connecticut, the cut off date for starting kindergarten in January 1st. Kids have to be 5 by the January half-way through the school year in order to start. Bear is a December baby so he would be one of the youngest in his class.

We don't have to decide now, but I had wanted to bring up the conversation. He'll only have one more year of pre-school before he starts, and I didn't know if he should be put in with the 4s instead of the 3s.

The teacher commented that she has a November daughter and was told to hold her back because she wasn't able to socially assert herself. That's a fancy way of saying she was shy. She would quietly ask someone to play and if they didn't respond, she would happily play by herself.
And, that's why she didn't start kindergarten until she was 5 and a half.

Since when is being shy an awful trait? Why must every child love playing in large groups and always voice their opinions? This isn't even my kid, and I'm all worked in a tizzy.

It hurts my heart to know that such a stereotype exists. Why can't we just let each kid be himself?



I have a lot of rules about dating and relationships. I know how it ought to be.

The boy must be taller.
Traditional and outdated. I'm relatively tall for a girl, and I still have night mares of 7th grade dances.

The boy's last name must come alphabetically after the girl's.
It's true love if you move down in alphabet. It's a sacrifice of sorts.

Engagement rings must not be given on birthdays, Christmas or Valentine's Day.
Too predictable and a cop out of getting a gift. Besides, how many people have already done this.

The boy should come to the door to pick up his date.
My mom made some off handed comment when I was 8 about our neighbor's boyfriend honking for her. It stuck.

While I know these are all fake rules and really no indication of a successful relationship, it was really more of a way to know if a boy knew me.

5 years ago today, Hubby proposed to me. A week after Valentine's Day. On a day that had no real significance to either one of us or our relationship.
Exactly as it ought to be.

I had a class that went late, and he always picked me up afterwards. He texted me and we met at the chocolate shop where we had our first "kind of date". It was a little suspicious since I knew he had a ring and I knew he had asked my parents' permission, but nothing happened.

We went back to his house and I went in to check my email on his computer. His away message was "Asking Stephanie to marry me... Shhhh". I turned around and he was down on his knee.

He had thought about asking me while we were out, but we're not the most public of people. It was a moment for just the two of us.
Exactly as it ought to be.

5 years later, I'm still really excited that I said yes.
Exactly as it ought to be.



A friend this question on Facebook:
Is it okay for a teacher to say "Stop flirting with so-and-so" to a student?

There were tons of responses from mothers saying it should only be done in private, and it's embarrassing to students.

Yes, it is embarrassing. Isn't that the point? The embarrassment ends the behavior.

Am I the only one that thinks shame and embarrassment are fine tactics? I'm not talking excessive amounts here, but the occasional comment and guilt trip are fine in my book. Does anyone else remember the Texas jails that issued the pink jumpsuits? It worked.

I was raised by guilt. My only lasting consequences are my unnecessary apologizes.

It makes me feel like I belong in a Puritan society. Scarlet As are a way better deterrent than prenups.


milspouse friday fill in

I did this the first week and then life got .... life-like and crazy busy. Head over to Wife of a Sailor to see some more.

1. What is your favorite MilSpouse blog (not including Wife of a Sailor who we all love, or your own)?
I love
The Mrs at Trying Our Best. She's honest about the struggles of having 3 kids and a hubby that's gone a lot, but not in the "oh I hate the world" way.

2. What are your favorite perks about your s/o being deployed (we all know there are perks)?
The "nice" answer is getting to travel to see him. We were really lucky on his first deployment and I was able to fly to see him twice (and see 4 continents in the process). The more honest answer is that I get my control fix. No compromising and waiting until he's ready to do something. It works out well though because after 6 months of making every single decision, I gladly pass the reigns and let him do his Hubby thing.

3. How long did you date your before getting engaged? Married?
We moved fast. Or at least I thought so until I met other mil spouses. We dated for 3 months and 2 days before we were engaged. I called my mom after our first date and told her we were getting married though so it was no real shock to people. We got married just shy of a year from the day we started dating.

4. What do you think your would do if s/he wasn’t in the military?
Hubby dreams big. Our joke is that he likes jobs that he doesn't have to see me much. I think his current plan is either to get an MBA and work on Wall Street or to go to law school.

5. If you could talk to the Secretary of (fill in your appropriate branch) what is one suggestion you would like to bring to their attention in order to improve the lives of military families?
We matter. How you treat spouses and families impacts job satisfaction and productivity. Please be nice. The Navy is not for forever. Family is.



He won't be this little for long.
He won't want to snuggle me so tight for long.
He won't pick to only be with me for long.
He will always be my baby boy.

Head over to Emily's post to find more pictures of mommas and their babes.


love day celebrations

I love holidays. I'm a sucker for all things holiday related. Bear is at the age where he gets holidays and jumps up and down when he sees things.

I made this. It was filled with little presents from the dollar store. It's going to be a sad day when he no longer gets so excited for a straw and some stickers.

We had heart shaped cookies, heart shaped cake pops and heart shaped Rice Krispie treats.

I used my Cricut (how fun is that to say?) to make this for Hubby. It's filled with words and dates that are important to our relationship.

We had a mini photo shoot before dinner. I saw this idea some where online. You bend a toilet paper roll into a heart shape and can get some cute pictures.

Hubby and I took some pictures. My forever Valentine.



Bear and I had quite the rumble today. He's three. And his daddy's son (translation: very stubborn).

He's a smart kid. I'm not saying he's the next Einstein, but he can hold is own among the pre-school crowd.

Our battle today was about him counting to 10. He can count way beyond 10 so this wasn't a difficult task. It was just a task he didn't want to do.

I was shocked at the frustration and anger that he brought out in me today. I'm normally fairly patient with his meanderings, and I know how to get him motivated.

Once he was in bed and looking like an angel fast asleep, I was mulling over today. Why did it get me so upset? Why was I letting a 3 year old's need to be in charge run my day? I'm the parent here. Right?

Then, I realized he had tapped into my biggest fear.

A dumb kid.

No. I was a Special Ed aid during college vacations. I loved some of those sweet kids.

A lazy kid. A kid that doesn't try. A kid that doesn't want to be smart.

Then, I talked to my mom and was reminded that he's 3. And, he'll grow out of that.


love day

Happy Love Day!
hugs and kisses,
Bear & Monkey


gym membership

We were going to join The Y (which is what the YMCA is now officially called) in January. We had asked for sponsorships for the boys' Christmas presents. Swim lessons and art classes are way better for us than more toys they don't need.

It's January 26th, and I still haven't gotten over there to sign us up. No big deal really. I'm assuming all the other new years resolution-ers will be tapering off shortly anyways.

I was feeling very fluffy. Fluffy is that mix of fat and puffy that comes from winter, PMS and feeling blah. I justified not going to register until we get back from our vacation in 2 weeks. Because who wants to pay for a membership when they're gone? Or bundle everyone up for the trek there? Yeah, not me.

Today when it started snowing again I realized I didn't need that silly old Y. Shoveling our driveway at least every other day (for about 30 minutes a pop) can count as my exercise.

That can count, right?


mean mommy time

Tonight is the night.

The same night we had almost exactly 2 years ago in this same house.

I'm taking away Monkey's pacifier. He's 13 months old, and I know he'll be fine. He's way more attached to his paci than Bear was. I was very strict with Bear; he only had it at naps and bedtime by now. Monkey has it in the car, too. And, when I'm pushing his nap time and trying to accomplish more than is fair to him.

He's having his last paci nap right now. Then we'll go on a paci hunt and collect them all. They go in a bag with some stinky diapers and it goes out to the curb. Tomorrow is garage day so there's so going back.

I'm emotionally preparing myself for the crying tonight. Hopefully, by the time Hubby is home for the weekend the fussing will be all done.

Here's hoping.


rough day

Bear pretty much summed up our day tonight.

"Rough day today, Momma. We try again tomorrow."


3 of 1

Monkey's turn for my top 3 recent pictures. It would have made sense to pick 1 favorite since he's 1, but there's no way I can narrow it down that much!

Loving his birthday presents.

First birthday boy. Nothing like some good cake smashing to get the party going.

Our little musician.


end of an era

I am no longer a milk maid. Since March 2007, there have been 3 months that I was not pregnant or breastfeeding.

Last night, I nursed Monkey for the last time. He was down to the just before bedtime feeding which was about 3 minutes and more about our routine and last minute snuggles than nutrition.

I nursed Bear for 12 and a half months. That journey ended when he was hospitalized for 5 days and I wasn't able to breastfeed him.

Monkey turned 13 months yesterday so we lasted slightly longer. Not a record by any means, but it was long enough I feel like I have given him the best start possible.

Hard to believe he's gone from this
To this

I was expecting a bit of a fuss tonight when I put him to sleep. I thought he was slightly attached to our routine. Nope. Straight to sleep. Love you too kid.

Growing up is harder on me than it is on him.


Since we've been away for a bit, I felt the need to show off some pictures. Here are my favorite recent 3 pictures from my new 3 year old.

Cheesing for the camera. He wanted to show off his new scarf I made him.

The "monster snow storm" in which you could still see our grass at the end.

Birthday celebration #4,302 for Bear. We went to Walt Disney World and it was a week long birthday extravaganza. He loved when people would sing to him. Donald Duck brought over this cupcake and led the song for him.


birthday presents

We have a birthday season in our house. From the middle of October to the end of the year, we are slammed with birthday parties and celebrations. Monkey and Bear both have birthdays at the start of December which only adds to the festive season.

Bear really is a birthday fan. He is 100% my son and can't get enough balloons and cake.

In our attempt to teach Bear about Christmas, we pitched it as Jesus' birthday. He knew that Jesus was born a long time ago in a far away place. (Bear asked if it was a car ride or a long plane ride away.) He learned his momma's name was Mary, and there were lots of animals. The closest we got to explaining a manger was like a big Puppy dish.

We went to the family church service where they had a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. I told him that Jesus gave really good goody bags.

Christmas morning, we woke up and he was enchanted by the presents. We also do Santa and Bear was so stinking excited.

Right before bedtime, he got a serious look on his face. He came up to me and in the innocent voice of a 3 year old he asked me what we getting Jesus for his birthday.

It's taken me a little bit to figure out what kind of present we could give Jesus this year. The stereotypical volunteering at a soup kitchen thing doesn't work with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. We have an abundance of stuff. Stuff we don't use. Stuff we don't need. Stuff other people could use and do need.

Every Sunday, we will be dropping off a bag. I know it's not giving much and right now it's embarrassingly easy to get rid of things. I'm hoping that by the time bag 52 rolls around, we'll have streamlined our life and helped someone.

Not the biggest gift for Jesus. But, I think he's the type to appreciate everything.


I love the freshness of January. Everyone is so gung ho and ready for a clean slate. While looking over my 2010 goals, I'm actually pleased with myself. I wasn't perfect, but there was definitely more accomplished than not. I really think that writing them down and posting them for the world pushed me. And, this year I'll do better with the monthly check ins.

* Read 30 books.

* Be serious with the budget. At the end of the year, I will have $X saved for our someday house. (It's $X now because I want to check with Hubby before I publish financial things online)

* Hubby and I will have 52 dates this year. It could work out to one a week, but with him in the Navy we might have to clump some together. Once a month it will be a real date where we get a baby sitter and go out. The other dates can be after the boys are in bed. It's really just about devoting time to each other and not our computers.

* Be patient. With the little boys. With Hubby. With the Navy. With myself. We're all learning this as we go. I don't want the boys to grow up in a house that yells. I'm not a screamer, but there are times that my frustration reaches my limit. I want to love more.

What are you going to do in 2011?