Doc McStuffins Babysat E While I Was Sick. And I’m Totally Cool With That

I haven’t been sick sick in a long time. I think the last time I had a fever I was teaching preschool, a job where hazmat suits should be issued but sadly aren’t. Then this weekend we got the head cold from Hell. Not a lot of snot, a minor sore throat, but a high fever that wouldn’t leave for three days. E came down with it on Thursday, meaning little sleep for me, and I got it Friday. This deployment has been wrought with sickness. Given our close timing, I can only assume we picked it up at dance class from the little love who was lethargic and coughing. Thanks awesome mom for bringing your sick kid. Hey dance mom, in the future let’s keep in mind that it’s a toddler dance class, not the New York City Ballet. Thanks.

Anyhoo. Given the whole three days of misery thing, she was 100% by Saturday evening. I was not. Sunday morning arrived along with a necessary trip to the store for dog food (my plan had been to go to the pet food store on Friday, and clearly that didn’t happen) as at this point Meatball had had whole wheat bread and yogurt (at least they were organic…) for two meals. One outing with a potty training toddler and a large bag of dog food and I wasn’t up to entertaining E. Enter the DVR and Doc McStuffins. Thank you Lord for DVRs. E had the time of her life watching every Doc we have, and I was able to lie like a dead thing on the couch running death prevention. We are both still alive so clearly I did a bang up job.

E watched pretty much a whole day of TV, and survived. As did I. I felt like a new person after a day of rest and a good night’s sleep. If you had told me when E was born that she would watch an entire day of TV, I would have said maybe when she’s in college. Or, 2 1/2.

This brings me to the larger point of sharing this weekend’s misery and my adoration of Doc. I’ve had one too many conversations with mom friends who feel stressed that they aren’t living up to the ideals of a parenting style. My philosophy: Parenting is pragmatic.

It’s comforting to hold a parenting philosophy close. Attachment Parenting, Free Range Parenting, The Child Centered Approach, etc etc. They can offer guidelines and answers to problems at all hours of the day, but only within the confines of their tenets. Life, however, does not always fit nicely into a particular parenting philosophy’s teachings. So many parents, especially moms, who already have one of the hardest jobs known to humankind, are left feeling like failures as they weren’t able to live up to the {Insert Parenting Philosophy Here}’s ideal of what a parent should be doing.

The tenets of Attachment Parenting were born in a laboratory setting.

Free Range Parenting was created by ONE MOM, based on her and family’s experiences.

And on, and on, and on.

This isn’t to say that many parenting philosophies don’t have value. Most do. But to hold so strongly to a parenting philosophy that you alter your life in ways that compromise your sanity, well that’s just insane. As for myself, I am indebted to dear Doc McStuffins and I don’t regret it one bit.

 

 

Family, Young Cousins, and Life During Deployment for E

This past weekend was a fantastic one with my sister and her family on the Cape. 4 kids under 4, 4 adults and 2 dogs in one house, and all survived unscathed. The gorgeous weather may have helped!

Grammie loved having both her girls and all her grandkids home at the same time. E and her 3 year old cousin played so well together, screaming, laughing, jumping and engaging in general kid antics for the whole weekend. My sister’s infant twins weren’t left out of the fun, what with their playful big brother and E mothering them as much as possible.

My favorite picture from the weekend is this one, with all the kids and adults gathering and playing on the backyard lawn.

Everyone on the lawn

Although we had a lot of fun, the stress on E of having her Dada away on deployment was very apparent. E clung on to her Uncle this weekend, and asked for pictures of her Dada often. Having a Daddy around (even if it was her cousins’ and not hers!) meant a lot to her.

Sometimes only a Dad figure will do to brave the water!

Sometimes only a Dad figure will do to brave the water!

 

The pictures on the iPhone weren’t doing it, so I ended up cutting up a picture from our wedding that my mom had and giving it to her to sleep with. Clearly a Daddy Doll is needed, so one is on order. I honestly thought she’d get frustrated with a Daddy Doll, and not understand why min-Dada was there but not there, but obviously that isn’t the case as she loves her Dada picture.

I most definitely lost it crying a time or two when she called her Uncle “Dada” (her cousin was calling him that, so she was probably just following suit, but still). We slept together last night as she had a hard time going to bed on her own. I give lots of credit to those who co-sleep, as I got kicked in the legs and whopped in the face all night by a soundly sleeping tot. The goal was for her to sleep well, so it was a win all in all.

She was heartbroken when my sister and her family left, but luckily so worn out from all the playing and outdoor fun that she fell asleep well on her own.

Hangin in the BOB on the way back from the neighborhood bay beach

Hangin in the BOB on the way back from the neighborhood bay beach

Here’s to hoping that that was just a blip (one of many I’m sure) and we’ll have smooth nights from here on out for a bit (Daddy Doll, please come quickly!)

I also ordered a set of oils from Young Living, many that are purported to have a calming effect. For this and future deployments, I hope they help! If nothing else the lemon oil is supposed to help to increase metabolism, and what with all the extra Summer treats, I could use that for myself.

-Me

 

 

 

 

A Fourth of July Art Project for Your Little Ones, Along with Ideas on Talking About the Fourth with Little Ones

fourth of july art project collage final .jpg

What kind of Military Family would we be without a Fourth of July project?

For this project we made red, white and blue paper by painting a large sheet of white paper with red and blue paint, just like in our Spring Art Project. Since the weather has been gorgeous, and painting in and of itself is more fun when it’s messy (sensory fun!) we did our painting outside.

RWB Painting 2

After E completed her patriotic painting we moved onto blue handprints for the flags.

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Blue Handprints

After E’s painting fun, I painted red stripes next to two of the best handprints to make the flags.

Handprint flag 1 .jpg

Once the red and blue painting dried I cut out stars for the wreath. I wanted a handmade feel so I drew stars on the back as opposed to using a star cookie cutter or star pattern.

To make the wreath frame I cut the middle out of a generic paper plate, along with the edge. I cut out the middle of two paper plates and kept both centers to mount the handprint flags.

After E woke up from her nap, I showed her the stars and told her how they were made out of the painting she had made. I modeled how to glue the stars on and then let her create her wreath (with a lille help from me now and then).

Gluing stars on .jpg

We then moved onto the flags. We talked about her handprints and how I painted red stripes next to them to make a flag. I had a picture of an American flag for her to see and talked about how her hand was the stars and the red lines were the stripes.

To finish making the flags I mounted them on the paper plates and added the sticks. For preschoolers have kids help mount the cut out completed flags on the paper plate circles.

Handprint Flag with Stick .jpg

Talk about what parts of the circle you have to remove to make it fit the rectangle of the flag. Tape or glue the sticks for the flag on (I found tape worked best for this part) and let all pieces dry.

 

Once all pieces are dried, arrange as you’d like. Here’s what we came up with.

Completed Fourth of July Project Displayed .jpg

I put E’s project next to her Countdown plate, an appropriate place I think!

 

Why we celebrate the Fourth of July is a big concept for little ones. Different countries, fighting for freedom, American liberty, and so on. Taking large concepts like these and breaking them down to their simplest form, within a context children will understand, can be challenging. Here’s an idea for toddlers and preschoolers:

“We’re having a big party today because we live in a very special place, and we’re happy we live here. Today is like a birthday for the special place we live. It’s special here because we can make choices that lots of other kids, moms and dads can’t make, like what to wear, what we talk about, and what schools you can go to. Daddy works to help keep us and our special home safe. We’re very blessed to live where we do, and so today we’re celebrating, just like we celebrate your birthday!”

Happy Fourth of July to You and Your Family! Enjoy!

One Week Down on Practice Deployment, I’ve Learned a Few Things and No One’s Been Seriously Injured! Win!

5 Days Left 7 Days Down, 5 To Go. Yup, E and I have made it a week on our own unscathed. A few minor mishaps, but all in all unscathed. For those of you just joining in, Jer’s new assignment is on a large Coast Guard Cutter where he’ll be gone for a few months at a time. As of now, he’s away for two weeks at a class. Hence our Practice Deployment.

Over the last week I’ve learned a thing or two about living in an unknown place with a toddler by myself, and a few tricks for surviving the lifestyle deployment will bring. I imagine I’ll acquire a few hundred more in the next two years and beyond. But for now, my weekly words of…wisdom??

1. Don’t Run Off With the Neighbors Trash Can: I was all sorts of proud of myself for first remembering trash day (though the other trash cans out all over the street may have given me a heads up), and then actually putting out the trash and recycling, and finally bringing said cans back to the backyard. If you’re a rural lady like myself who’s family drove their garbage to the dump, then this new fangled suburban affair of trash day can be deceivingly tricky. No one mentioned having to note WHICH side of the mailbox you put yours on. My proud moment turned into me trucking four trash and recycling cans back and forth and hoping no one saw my suburban faux pas. Here’s to a better trash day this week.

2. When It’s You Versus a Toddler, Day In and Day Out, The “Rules” You Once Adhered to Do Not Apply: Limited screen time. Encouraging only good behavior. Boxed mac n cheese only in a pinch. Save the good wine for dinner parties and date nights. All out the freakin window. E now knows the theme song to the Sprout network, as well as the word “Sprout”. She got a balloon today at the grocery store in response to a tantrum over bananas. I’ve hidden meat and other sources of protein in mac n cheese on a daily basis, and the good wine is pouring nightly. Survival people, this is survival.

Sooo happy and all is well.

Sooo happy and all is well.

3. Remember That Sweet Furbaby You Have That Was at One Time Your World? No really, Remember Them. Like That They’re in the Back Yard: Like most Sundays, E managed to sustain an injury between waking up and the time we needed to leave for church. Not like last week’s bloody and bruised lip, but a decent knee scrape none the less (hence the BandAid in the picture above). After the crying and the well-vocalized hatred of wound care, I was able to distract E and get her in the car, happy, tear free, and off to church. Half way through the service, I remembered poor Meatball. In the backyard for his morning outing (albeit fenced in, but he’s not the outdoors type). Thank God it wasn’t a hot morning. If you’re not used to having a fenced in yard, take note the dangers as well as the perks. 

Poor Meats. He was not amused. But really he was actually having fun outside. This is his happy face.

Poor Meats. He was not amused. But really he was actually having fun outside. This is his happy face.

Meatball was just fine, in fact he was happily playing (with E’s soccer ball). Though it wasn’t one of my finest moments as a dog parent, E did get to make this sweet Dove of the Holy Spirit for her first Sunday School Project.

Dove for Pentecost

4. Make Your Bed: When it’s you, a messy toddler and a slobbering dog it’s easy to get lax about daily chores and upkeep (both household and personal). Start the day off with discipline by doing something as simple as making your bed. The meaning of that simple task will trickle down into all you do that day. Rules of toddler engagement may change, but our personal daily rituals should be kept sacred despite the company.

5. Making Friends is Like Dating: It takes time, effort, and a whole lot of patience to sort through the crazies. Find the good ones and make it a point to make time for them in your day. Like how I look for the school bus to arrive in our neighborhood, as I know my fabulous new friend and neighbor will be gathering her kiddos from school. Time to go play in the front yard E, mommy wants to play with her friends too! (Totally not stalking, right?)

And so you have it, 7 days down and many more to go…next up, our meal plan of dinners, toddler approved! (According to today’s preferences and favorites….)

 

 

A First Attempt at Gallery Walls and Some Friendly Faces

When Jer got his orders for VA and we started house hunting, I had one thing (other than the fear of leaving friends, the stress of moving, the impending days of E and myself on our own, and so forth) on my mind: Gallery walls and what rooms to put them in.

I, like many others, am a Pinteraddict (Pinterest addict for those who don’t share my love of Pinterest) and I have been pining for spaces that would work for a gallery wall. Our last house was an open floor plan with most areas being used for storage like bookcases, bureaus, etc., leaving the prospect of a gallery wall to rooms no one would ever really see.

In light of this obsession and my past lack of space I’ve been collecting items to add to a gallery wall or two, including a beautiful piece my girlfriend Brooke made, an “E” with a mermaid painting for E’s first birthday, and a mirror my late father gave me years ago for Christmas with the quote “Always remember to take yourself along” on the back. I added to the mix an 8×10 poster I had bought for E’s nursery that never really fit in, about love and waves in the sea, and a Giclee of a painting by an amazing artist Hans De Castellane (check out his gallery here) from an event I helped plan on the Cape.

From all of these pieces along with special photos of loved ones I created a gallery wall for E’s playroom with a “Friends and Family at Play” theme and one for our living room with a “By the Sea” theme to go with the general feel of the living room.

Our living room mantle, adorned by another de Castellane original masterpiece.

Our living room mantle, adorned by another de Castellane original masterpiece.

The Living Room gallery wall

The Living Room gallery wall

By the sea gallery wall Mirror and Waves sign .jpg

The top photo is of E, a little less than 1 year old, making her way to the bay to swim all on her own. I love her determination (sometimes). The mirror is the one from my father, next to a photo of E’s older cousin’s first trip to the beach.

And onto the playroom…

 

E's Playroom and Gallery Wall

E’s Playroom and Gallery Wall

Closeup playroom gallery wall .jpg

One of my favorite pieces, E and Her Friend Sharing a Smooch

One of my favorite pieces on the playroom wall, E and Her Friend Sharing a Smooch

The playroom gallery wall has a priceless picture of E and all her living grandparents as a focal piece in the center, along with E and her cousins and close friends at play, including a photo of my best friend Maria and I as kids ourselves playing. I used the beautiful “E” by Brooke as part of E’s initials and added an “M” that will match the bureaus we’re working on for her playroom. I took her initials “E M” and turned them to read “ME” from top to bottom, a bit of a play on letters but also as I really didn’t want to explain to visitors why ME was misspelled.

We’ve got a few pictures to add to the playroom wall of E’s best friends from up north, but so far, my first attempts at gallery walls are, if I do say so myself, not half bad (maybe even Pinterest worthy?)

In these last two weeks I’ve met some lovely ladies who’s faces I imagine will grace future gallery walls, including neighbors and other wives from the boat. E has enjoyed playdates with new friends, and in a very sweet moment this evening hugged her new friend from next door good bye. This was quickly followed by a minor meltdown at the prospect of parting, which was quickly quelled with the promise of mac n cheese (I always said I’d never use food as a ploy. Then I had a toddler.)

Day by day, it’s starting to feel a bit more like a new home and less like a place we happen to live.

 

 

 

 

A Meal Plan for the Week and A Few Good Things

We’ve found ourselves spending more than usual on food these days, and it has little to to with food prices in VA. Sadly it has to do with being entirely too disorganized. We’ve been planning our meals, but not doing a great job of making a thorough grocery list, for both food and what we need for the house, resulting in lots (and lots) of short trips to the store for one more thing.

The problem with these little trips is you rarely walk out with just that one can of beef broth. All of a sudden a fresh baguette, some on-sale wine and a wedge of brie wind up in your basket. And on your grocery bill. And on your butt.

This week my main goal, now that we’re moved in (mostly) and settling into a routine, is to seriously cut down on the food budget (cooking for just E and I will inadvertently do that, but I mean SERIOUSLY cut down). How? By once again keeping on top of printable and newspaper insert coupons, matching them with sales at the store, and making a comprehensive grocery list with all that we need, eliminating (hopefully) the last minute trips for broth and the ten other things you never really needed.

I’ve included 2 meat free meals this week (good for you, the environment, and your budget) as well as some salmon burgers that you can either make with canned salmon or go all out and make with fresh fillets, depending on your budget. Either way, as I mention in the meal plan, go for wild caught! It tastes better and is FAR better for you and the environment.

menu week of 6.1.14.jpg

 

Use low fat dairy if desired, for the enchiladas and eliminate the buns from the salmon burgers and serve them over a bed of greens instead for some lower calorie/lower carb options.

 

As for a few good things, today ended up being a great start to E and I’s new adventure, though it started off a bit rough for E.

As for me, I got up early to get ready so we could venture out for a 10:15 service at an Episcopal church in the area. I successfully got ready, makeup, hair, breakfast and all, before E woke. E woke up happy as usual, had a great breakfast, and then busted her lip in the playroom on a windowsill. Luckily more bruising then bleeding, but quite the blow nonetheless.

Es Hurt Lip

This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but you can see the injury of the day. Luckily Sprout had Super Why on, and the theme song saved the morning. By the third note she was on the mend and ready to solve the Super Big Problem with the Super Readers, or at the very least support them in between bites of graham cracker bunnies. Nothing comes between E and her food, not even a busted lip.

So first good thing: My plan to get ready to make the morning go smoothly went smoothly. Until the great fall.

Second good thing: Both E and I enjoyed the church (E more so the nursery,she had fun, and all without mommy for a whole hour! Such a big girl) I enjoyed how welcoming the congregation was and the service as a whole (though my thoughts on it all may be a but swayed by my hour long break from toddlerdom). We’ll be going back next week for Pentecost. I’m told red is the color to sport to this service, I see nautical in my future.

Third good thing: Jer made it safely to CT, our tenant is happy, and Jer has some time to mend his back sans the demands of moving and a toddler.

So there you have it. A budget friendly meal plan (as well as diet friendly) and a few good things from Me and Baby E!

 

Some First-Evers and E and I’s (almost) Start of Life During Deployment

I am happy to report we are all on the mend. It may have taken some PT advice from a good friend in Scotland to get us there, but we’re here! E is back to her happy, loud self, I can talk and Jer can stand up for more than 5 minutes at a go.

Just in time to prepare for Baby E and I’s test run for life with Jer on deployment. Jer has to attend a two week course back up north for his new assignment, giving E and I two weeks of life sans Dada. Jer’s back being out ended up being a blessing in disguise as I was able to ease into this new lifestyle with Jer still here for moral support. Being that he couldn’t stand, all cooking, cleaning, and even lawn mowing was done by me.

Not bad for a first go 'round

Not bad for a first go ’round

I asked Jer if I should send a picture of my yard work art to his father, the lawn mowing guru. He suggested I give it a few more tries. Clearly there’s room for improvement, though I think it went quite well. No limbs or digits lost, and the grass is relatively even. Win.

I also ran my first road race this week! Sadly not a 5K, as that’s what I was hoping to run, but instead a 1 mile. I’d love to say my lack of running the 5K portion was due to my partners in crime all having strollers, making the hiking trails the 5K was on impossible to navigate, but really it was due to my clumsiness. I trip on flat roads, so the thought of running over rocks and through trees brought images of ER visits and broken ankles to mind. So I opted for the paved 1 Mile run. Either way, I can check off my first race ever.

Tomorrow we start our first ever Countdown til Daddy is Home, though I think I’ll be getting more out of the numbers going down than E will. Either way, it begins….

Countdown Plate

And with that, my Top Five Tips for This Week on Surviving Injuries, Illness and Maybe Even Deployment:

1. Let it Go, Let it Go: The dirty counters never really mattered anyways.

2. Take a Deep Breath and Dive In: No matter the task, it’s most likely far easier and less stressful than you’ve made it out to be in your mind.

3. Go to Bed and Drink Water: Translation, take care of yourself.

4. Cling Tight to Your Crock Pot: This, this is the saving Grace of dinner time. The main meal is done when dinner time arrives, all you have to do is make a side dish.

5. Have Faith in YOU: And celebrate your victories, no matter how small.