Monday, February 27, 2012

My Beef with Girl Scouts

When Kaitlyn started Kindergarten, she was eligible for Girl Scouts and I couldn't be more excited. 

Since there was a long wait list for troops, I volunteered to be a leader.  I accepted a troop into our home.  I planned meetings, I spent too much on books, guides and materials for meetings.  I did all my required trainings, I went to monthly meetings and I learned a lot.

My goal with Girl Scouts was for Kaitlyn to have an experience like I remembered having.  I wanted her to learn to become more active in the community, how to respect nature and the world around her, how to have community service in her heart and how to put others before her.

The Girl Scout promise and law are rules that everyone should promise in life:

The Girl Scout Promise
On my honor, I will try:To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
The Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to behonest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and torespect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Who wouldn't want their child to practice those rules in life?  How could you go wrong with that instilled in your upbringing?

I do believe there are service units across the country that practice these rules through all levels of Girl Scouts.  I do not believe this was our experience.

My first hint should have been the number of membership coordinators we seemed to go through at council level.  How much paperwork was lost.  How long it took our troop to receive the funds we earned through sales.  How often I had to repeat the same paperwork to get our bank account set up (something that still hasn't been done). and how often I found myself feeling as though our troop wasn't that important.

I was very upfront in the beginning that I could not attend all leader's meetings.  It is a lot to ask of a volunteer.  Depending on the membership coordinator, this either was a problem or it wasn't.  Some were awesome at relaying information to those who couldn't attend and some weren't.  And since everything was so clique, it could be hard to get necessary information.

This was fine.  I could handle it.  The first year was still fine.  Our troop rocked, we were amazing in Cookie Sales and had a fun summer. 

When I was pregnant with Samantha, we took a break once I hit the third trimester.  We eventually joined another troop.  But, once I realized I was setting things up, the troop leader was never around and the majority of the meetings were spent in chaos that stressed me out, we decided to start our troop back up.

At first it was ok.  Then, came the road blocks.  They wanted me to go to every meeting.  I got looks for taking Samantha.  If I didn't go to meetings, I didn't get information.  And the meetings lasted far too long and were filled with far too much small town gossip.  All of a sudden we were getting another membership director.  We did fall product sales and magically most of our sales were "deleted" from the system.  I was told "oh well, too bad" when I asked about it.  I was left to my own devices to solve the problem and evidently it mattered to no one else as much as it mattered to me that family and friends trusted our girls with their money and girl scouts did not deliver.  I asked numerous times how the orders could be deleted after I submitted them and printed the submissions.  No answer.  Not to mention it was a complete and total hassle to get a hold of anyone to get the items that did come in. 

I began to notice at meetings that the events that at one time were girl oriented but family approved (if you paid for insurance for the family to be there) were now girl only allowed.  No daddy's allowed.  No baby's allowed.  Not even newborn nursing little ones.  Just drop your girl off. 

That is not how our family is.

As much as I love the girl scout promise and law, I think family is incredibly important and I think special events should be celebrated as a family.  With our service unit, it felt more (to me at least) that family was only important when it came to the really expensive events they wanted the entire family to attend and buy tickets too.

All of a sudden our meeting times and location wasn't acceptable if we wanted more girls assigned to our troop.  We weren't convenient enough.  And our troop wasn't big enough to matter.

Lastly came girl scout cookies.  We were completely left out of any cookie sales.  Our troop had previously sold over 2,000 boxes.  2 of our girls had sold over 500 individually and looked forward to selling this year.  I inquired about when training was.  Since training was mandatory to sell, I became irritated when my emails and phone calls went ignored.  Then, cookie sales started and it was obvious how excluded we were.  Our troop could not sell cookies.  Our 7 year olds had to be told "we're sorry, you can't sell cookies this year."

And I was fed up.  I realized I didn't need Girl Scouts to teach my daughter the same lessons.  I didn't need the rules, the exclusions, the lack of family time and the stress to teach my daughter the same exact things.  I didn't need the books, the lessons, the crafts.  We can do it on our own.  We can do community service on our time with our own agenda.  And so we are no longer Girl Scouts.  I have no desire to beg people to allow me to volunteer for them.  I have no need to peddle cookies where a service unit that I do not support keeps far more money than the hard working girls get.  This year, we will be a cookie free household and I'm ok with that.

If we ever moved into an area with a different service unit, I would totally consider rejoining.  I would love to be part of a service unit that practiced what they taught.  But for us here and now, it's not in the cards.  Kaitlyn's time will just have to be occupied in other ways. 

Kaitlyn's week off

Instead of having President's day off, Kaitlyn's school got the whole week off for "midwinter break."

We decided to make it an awesome and busy kinda week.

We started off on Saturday with me getting some work done and us having everyone's favorite dinner: make your own pizza!

Sunday night we left Samantha with grandma and grandpa while Kaitlyn and I drove to San Jose for the Big Time Rush concert.  She did a lot of screaming.  I did a lot of giggling.  A lot of girls did a lot of swooning.

After a late night out, we spent Monday relaxing and hanging out at home.  We got to play games, watch TV and all that good stuff.

Tuesday, I went to the March of Dimes Kick Off while Kaitlyn hung out with daddy at work, riding her bikes and all that good stuff.  That evening we went to the in-laws for dinner.

Wednesday, we picked up Kaitlyn's cousin Camaryn and headed to Chick Fil A for some grub and some play.  We left there and headed for the botanical garden to take some pictures before we went to find a park.  We did not find the park.  So, we headed to Nana and Papa's for a bit and headed back to work.

Thursday we met one of my favorite and closest friends and her little ones at Fairy Tale Town for a day of playing and fun.  It was also going to be a pictures in the park day, but the wind was ferocious, so it didn't work out that way.  I did get this picture there, that I'm sure will be the topic of an upcoming post.

Friday, we went to John's Incredible Pizza and Hobby Lobby to end the free weekday portion of her vacation!  She had a blast running around everywhere and winning the claw machine and lots of dinosaurs!

Saturday we helped through my youngest sister's Golden birthday.  I will have a TON more pictures to post of this later.  But, I have to say, aside from the nutella fondue bar, the photo booth was my favorite.  As you may be able to tell, Kaitlyn absolutely LOVED having a remote to take as many pictures as she could.  I can't tell you how many times I walked by and the camera was pointed down....

Sunday, Kaitlyn had another fun day going roller skating with one of her BFFs.  Then, we headed over to my parents for Sunday dinner.

Kaitlyn woke up this morning not at all ready for the week to end.  Samantha was ready to go back to her regular schedule and napping at home, and I had a ton of fun all week, but am exhausted and used way too much gas for it to be over $4 a gallon, and I was excited to get back to our schedule today.

How was your week?  Any leap year plans?

The Poo Diaries

** Disclaimer: If you don't like poo talk, click that little red X at the top.  This will be a update about Samantha's poop issues and might be kinda gross for the squeamish **

As you may remember from here and here, Samantha has been battling constipation since she was 13 months old.  She'll be 16 months next week.

We've been to the doctor now a third time for this issue.  We've done a total of 4 enemas, a ton of miralax, big kid doses of magnesium citrate, x-rays, diet changes, old wives tales and more to try and figure out what is going on.  Since Friday, Samantha's appetite has really decreased.  Even her favorite, milk, has to be coerced down into her belly.  She's still spitting up some.  Today, we headed back to the doctor.

Samantha has only gained .2 lbs in 3 months.  She's lost weight in the last 2 weeks. It's hard to tell exactly how much because one weight was done laying down completely naked and one (today) was done fully clothed, standing, with a jacket and tennis shoes.  They estimate nearly a pound.  An examination of her tummy revealed multiple patches of stool that are just not coming out.

She's going.  Some.  But, it's mostly diarrhea like.  Stinky and watery.  But, not anything of substance.

Samantha's on her last chance.  We're going to be doing adult doses of magnesium citrate today (once she gets up from her nap) and tomorrow.  We're going to continue the miralax for 2 weeks at a full dose before tapering off.  If she doesn't show improvement, we get to call her doctor and go in for an x-ray.  If things get a little better, she waits 2 weeks before her x-ray.  If there is still anything in there, she earns herself a referral to a pediatric gastroenterologists. 

Here's to hoping we have lots of full diapers over the next 2 days! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait

On Tuesday, I was invited to the Kick Off for March for Babies presented by the local chapter of the March of Dimes.  My mom and Samantha both attended with me and we were seated at a table with some really nice women.

One of the new ad campaigns the March of Dimes is running is called "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" and addresses the misconception that a baby born at 37 weeks is getting the same healthy start as one born at 39/40 weeks gestation.

A big part of their campaign is directly related to recent research indicating the health risks of having a baby too soon, even if you are considered "full-term."

Why at least 39 weeks is best for your baby

This article is for women thinking about scheduling their baby's birth.

More and more births are being scheduled a little early for non-medical reasons. Experts are learning that this can cause problems for both mom and baby. If possible, it's best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks. If your pregnancy is healthy, wait for labor to begin on its own. You can help get the message out with your own Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait T-shirt.

We know you can’t wait to meet your baby face to face. But getting to at least 39 weeks gives your baby the time he needs to grow. There are lots of important things happening to your baby in the last few weeks of pregnancy. For example, your baby's brain and lungs are still growing.

You might not have a choice about when to have your baby. If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby's health, you may need to have your baby earlier. But if you have a choice and you're planning to schedule your baby's birth, wait until at least 39 weeks.

Why babies need timeBabies born too early may have more health problems at birth and later in life than babies born full term.
Here's why your baby needs 39 weeks:
  • Important organs, like his brain, lungs and liver, get all the time they need to develop.
  • He is less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.
  • Babies born too soon often are too small. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warmthan babies born too small.
  • He can suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after he's born. Babies born early sometimes can't do these things.
Why scheduling an early birth can be a problem Experts are learning that scheduling an early birth for non-medical reasons can cause problems for mom and baby. For example:
  • Your due date may not be exactly right. Sometimes it's hard to know just when you got pregnant. Even with an ultrasound, your due date can be off by as much as 2 weeks. If you schedule to induce labor or schedule acesarean birth (also called a c-section) and your date is off by a week or two, your baby may be born too early.
  • Inducing labor may not work. If your labor is induced, the medicine your doctor or certified nurse-midwife gives you may not start your labor. When this happens, you may need to have a c-section.
  • A c-section can cause problems for your baby. Babies born by c-section may have more breathing and other medical problems than babies born by vaginal birth. (Most babies are born by vaginal birth. The mother's uterus contracts to help push the baby out through the vagina, also called the birth canal.)
  • C-sections can cause problems in future pregnancies. Once you have a c-section, you may be more likely in future pregnancies to have a c-section. The more c-sections you have, the more problems you and your baby may have, including problems with the placenta.
  • A c-section is major surgery for mom. It takes longer for you to recover from a c-section than from a vaginal birth. You can expect to spend 2 to 4 days in the hospital after a c-section. Then you'll need 4 to 6 weeks after you go home to fully recover. You also could have complications from the surgery, like infections and bleeding. So it's important to stay in touch with your health care provider even after you go home.
The March of Dimes Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait™ education campaign and obstetric provider groups advise that you wait until at least 39 weeks to induce labor or have a c-section if it is needed. Wait this long unless there are medical problems that make it necessary to have your baby earlier.
The Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait™ education campaign was developed in response to the growing number of inductions and c-sections prior to 39 weeks for non-medical reasons. Campaign messaging is not intended for mothers who have their babies early for medical reasons or who go into early labor on their own

I know how hard those last few weeks of pregnancy is.  The waiting.  The wondering about every single twinge and if today will be the day baby is born.  The anticipation of what or who baby will look like.  The aches and the pains.  The feeling of just being done.

Kaitlyn was born 3 days after her due date.  I felt like those were the longest 3 days of my life.  How could she not know her time was up?  How could she not realize that?  Why wasn't she being born yet?  What could she possibly be waiting for?  And why couldn't I be one of those lucky moms that went in at 37 weeks and spared myself the last 3 weeks of aches and pains and swollen feet and stretch marks.

Obviously, my pregnancy with Matthew taught me a lot about patience in pregnancy.  Obviously when we, or my body, thought it was time to be born was far too soon.  And everything possible was done to prolong delivery.  Every Monday was a big deal, it was another week, it was progress, it was a chance at life.  A week meant the entire world.  And sometimes I wonder if we would have hit 35-36 weeks and he would have been "pre-term" instead of premature if it would have made a difference in his life span.

By the time I was "full term" with Samantha, I had just spent 37 weeks terrified that I would go into preterm labor and she would end up with a NICU stay.  Then, when the p17 shots ended, I was convinced I would go into labor at anytime and was taken off of baby aspirin to prepare for delivery.  Baby aspirin stays in your system for 2 weeks.  At 38 weeks, I was constantly on edge.  Terrified.  I thought for sure that my body was just gearing up to create a blood clot that would cause her to suffer from fetal demise.  I used the doppler anytime I thought she was moving sluggish or differently.  It is the only reason I opted for a repeat cesarean.  Even so, we waited until 39 weeks and 3 days to give her the absolute best possible chance at life.

I understand not everyone has the luxury of getting to 39 weeks.  And mommy and baby's health should always come first.  And no matter what you do to try and get to 39 weeks, your baby may not stay put. 

We should all be proud of the job our body's do to create a life, nurture it and allow it to grow and form.  We should be proud and supportive of how far we get in pregnancy, and know that it isn't anything that you did to cause your baby to be born too soon if you unfortunately are in that position.  We should embrace our stretch marks, relish in the last days of baby kicks and enjoy the awe of impending childbirth.  

But, encouraging baby to be born early just because you're sick of pregnancy, isn't the answer.  I wish more doctors would educate their patients on why waiting is so important!

Want to help get the word out and give more babies a healthy start?  Just donate to our March for Baby's team, Matthew's Team!

The Keys to a Happy Marriage and a Happy Family

I'm going to start my opinion tonight by stating that I am not even going to pretend that I know everything about a happy marriage or happy family, that we are the happiest or anything at all like that.  This is simply my opinion on what I think works or what I've noticed around me.

I strongly believe that to have a happy family, you have to have your priorities in order.  Everyone's priorities are different.  For me, my immediate family is at the very tippity top of my priority chart.  I love them with everything I am.  I can't help it.  I put their needs, wants, desires and well being above all else.

I do strongly believe that the relationship you have with your spouse should come first.  When you put your marriage first, your children thrive.  When you put your marriage first, you continue a relationship with someone who will still be there long after your children are up and out of the house.  When you put your marriage first, you have a best friend to get through it all with.  When you put your spouse first, you teach your children that their wants do not come before another's needs.

When you have a happy marriage, you have a happier home.  When the bickering is limited, kids get to feel more secure and have a happy place in the home.

For me, the trick starts with never thinking you have a perfect marriage.  As soon as you think your marriage is perfect, you stop working at it.  Once you stop working at it, adjusting for the growth and development you'll each achieve every day, it's no longer perfect.

Being married is really hard work.  You are two people who are evolving every day, you are around each other each and every day, you are in high stress situations, sometimes surviving on lack of sleep and constantly having to be sure that you are being considerate of someone else and realizing the world does not revolve around YOU.

I personally think that having a happy family is a result of putting your family first, practicing selflessness, enjoying each and every day, finding something to smile about every day, thinking in the day instead of the past and future, being free with your love, hugs and kisses and realizing that everyone has a bad day, accept it and move on.

There's no such thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect family, even if you read about it on blogs or on facebook.  The only perfect marriage are the ones you'll hear about in divorce court.  A good marriage is something that is a constant work in progress.   

Monday, February 20, 2012

Being a Stay At Home Mom

I love, love, love being a stay at home mom.  I guess though, technically I'm a work at home mom.  I do some contract work for a couple of organizations and I do run The Design Studio which keeps me busy.  But, my number one goal is being a stay at home mom.

I was recently asked by someone who barely knows me if I'll be going back to work soon.  I simply said no.  I mean, it's not as though it's anyone elses business, right?  Which then prompted the "well, when the baby is in school?"  And again, I replied no.  And I was met with a look of, I don't know?  Disgust?  Shock?  Judgement?  What was most surprising is that it was from an older person whose generation never would have had a woman working outside the home.

Since then, I've seen some really offensive comments regarding moms that stay home and the dire financial straits the families must be in, how bored, lazy or undervalued the mom must be and how oppressive the father surely is for not allowing his wife to work.  The comments go back and forth between being offensive, frustrating and just plain silly.

I do not believe there is a blanket answer on what is right or wrong concerning working moms and stay at home moms.  I think the debates between the two are ignorant and a waste of time.  I believe that each family situation is completely different and all that matters is that the kids are well cared for and the parents are pleased with the decision they make.  

I am incredibly fortunate that I married someone who values the role I play in this home and supports MY decision to be at home with and for our kids day in and day out.  I am also incredibly fortunate that we not only had frank conversations regarding what was most important to us and our family regarding myself working out of the home or not.  We made a decision and since then we work together to make this happen.

One of the "consequences" of being a one income family is that we do not go out spending silly nilly.  Most of the time.  We are far from living in a teeny tiny apartment, eating only ramen noodles and wearing shoes that are without soles.  Our kids are far from going without, there are few things that we want that we don't have, we still splurge on unnecessary (in my opinion :P) cable channels and our hobbies are supported.

We do not drive new cars.  It would be nice, but the trade off to me isn't really worth it.  We could live in a bigger house, but really I would need to work full time or we would have to move and we love our families and the bonds they have with our children too much to do that.  And really, a bigger house would just mean more cleaning and less playing.  We're happy.

I was at Kaitlyn's school last week when I overheard a couple of parents talking.  They were frustrated with the school being out all of next week for mid winter break.  I understood their frustrations. They both worked and made sure they got off in time to pick their kids up from school, but they didn't work jobs where they could take a week off every month.

Hearing that conversation made me even more grateful that we are in the position that we are in.  I'm looking forward to Kaitlyn's week off of school.  I'm looking forward to spending the week doing crafts, seeing friends and working to teach her fractions.  I'm grateful that I don't have the stress of figuring out what we're going to do for childcare.  And, I won't lie, I'm looking forward to sleeping in a little bit.

I couldn't imagine not having all the time that I have with Kaitlyn and Samantha.  I think it would literally break my heart every single day.  It's worth everything that we do to make it possible and it's worth the days of hard work and lack of lunch breaks.  I just absolutely love it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Finding Our Routine

I LOVE routines.  I love conquering the world and thoroughly enjoy the days when I feel like I did just that.  But, I feel like I cannot do that without a routine.  And for some reason, Samantha had made finding one really difficult.

Last week, I was determined to find it.  One that worked for her and one that I could work with.  It involved a whole week of basically staying home during the day to make sure I was following her cues and paying attention to her.  Let me tell you, after 2 days, we found it, we perfected it and she's happier and I'm happier.  And our house is spotless.  I love that.

7:30 Dusty leaves for work and I get in the shower
7:45 I wake Kaitlyn up and get her ready for school
8:30 I wake Samantha up, give her a cup of milk
8:40 Take Kaitlyn to School
9:00 Get home, give Samantha breakfast
9:25 Play time!  Make sure diaper is clean and she is having fun
10:00 Sesame Street comes on, we cuddle for the first 15 minutes of it, then she plays
11:00 Nap Time!
2:15 Nap Time is traded in for lunch time
2:45 Samantha gets dressed for the day and we play some more
3:15 We leave to get Kaitlyn
3:35 Kaitlyn is done with school and we head to the store for dinner if necessary
4:15 We're home, it's snack time and then playing, Kaitlyn does her homework in 25 minutes
5:00 I start dinner
5:15 Dusty is home
5:30 I put Samantha in the high chair to color until dinner is ready
6:00 Dinner is ready
6:30 I clean up dinner, Kaitlyn and Samantha play
7:00 Samantha bath time
7:30 Kaitlyn bath time
8:00 More playing
8:30 Kaitlyn bed time
9:00 Samantha bed time
10:30 My bed time

The only days the schedule has some tweaking is Tuesdays and Wednesdays because Tuesdays we go to Dusty's parents for dinner and Wednesdays are late start days for Kaitlyn. 

I work on a 10 minute cleaning cycle.  I do 10 minutes of as much cleaning as I can without interruption in one room, then I take a 10 minute break to catch up on facebook, texts, words with friends or eat something.  I vary the days, every other day is laundry and the days inbetween are for dusting.  Our baseboards and toilets have never been cleaner and typically (as long as I stay on it every day) I can be done in less than 2 hours.  Which then leaves me time to sew, design or whatever I feel like.

Now, all I can hope is that she likes this schedule for a while, I could totally get used to 3 hour naps...

Friday, February 17, 2012

K. K.

Have you ever seen that episode of Big Bang Theory, "The Friendship Contraction" which aired earlier this month?  In it, one of the main characters, Howard, is getting ready to go into space with NASA and wants a cool nickname like the other NASA guys.  But, he wants a super cool nickname.  So, he decides to encourage the astronauts toward a cool nickname he really wants.  He tries setting up opportunities to plant the idea in their head.

Well, earlier this week, I was picking Kaitlyn up from school.  Like normal, she ran off with some of her friends until we hit the gate to leave the school.  One of the girls yelled "Bye K. K."

I was taken a little aback and asked her what that stood for?  And teased a little, asking if it was short for Kaitlyn and Kevin (one of her BFFs)?  She got offended and said "NO!"  I asked then what K. K. was?  She told me it was her nickname.

I asked her how she got that nickname.  She said she really wanted a nickname, so she just told some of the girls that's what we call her at home and if they wanted, they could call her it to.  Well, I guess that's one way to get a nickname.  I wonder if I should tell her friends that when she whines, we call her the only nick name we know "Itty, Bitty, Baby Katy" to remind her that she's a big girl now.

I've now noticed a lot of her Valentine's Day Cards are addressed to K. K...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My bossy daughter

Today, Samantha and I picked up Kaitlyn from school like we normally do. We we waited outside her classroom until her class was dismissed.

From there, we walked to the side gate towards the crosswalk to the street we park on. Typically, Kaitlyn ditches us until we hit the side gate in favor of walking with her friends.

Today, we as we got to the street there was a little boy standing between two crosswalks, right next to the street, teetering on the street, next to several teachers and staff throwing his back pack high up in the air then trying to catch it. Several times he had step into the street to catch it.

Kaitlyn looked at him with the look that everyone who knows her has seen before. A look most girls don't master until way into their teens. The look where her eyes narrow, her brows slightly point inwards and one side of her lip curls up.

She said "_________ that is a really stupid thing to do." I immediately told her that was not nice as he busted up laughing, asked how she really got her picture on her valentine's day card and stopped doing it.

She explained he was in her class and had already lost them table points by not listening to her. Which of corse prompted a discussion about better ways to talk to people and better ways to get people to listen to you. And of course, how to not be Bossy McBossy Pants.

She was right though, it wads stupid thing to do. If only I could figure out where on earth she got this bossy streak from...

The lost form of etiquette

More and more often, I'm noticing how common it is for people to completely and totally omit manners and etiquette from their daily lives.

I wonder how much of it is from just not knowing manners and how much is from just pure laziness.

Some of my biggest pet peeves are: being late, not RSVPing, not acknowledging gifts, not saying please and thank you, having a sense of entitlement about just about anything and asking or demanding particular gifts. 

I push being on time with Kaitlyn really hard. I hate being late.  I think it is one of the most disrespectful things you can do to someone.  I think if it is something that happens on a regular basis it is essentially telling someone "my time is more valuable than yours" and is just in such poor taste.  Now, I get that things happen and come up, and I do think that one or two slip ups are one thing, it's the repetitiveness that I think is just so incredibly rude.

As someone who loves to throw parties, I can tell you, the inability for people these days to properly RSVP is enough to make me want to rip my hair out.  It seriously takes less than 5 minutes and the reason behind it should just be common sense.  RSVPing to an event allows the host to prepare the right food, enough favors (for kids parties and the like) and to plan the event accordingly.  Please do not be one of these offenders.

Thank yous!  This is a huge deal in our family.  Our rule with Kaitlyn (and with Samantha when she's old enough) is that you cannot touch, hold, try, spend or play with a gift until you have written that thank you card and it's in an addressed envelope ready for mommy to drop in the mail.  If someone is going to take the time, energy and thought to give you a gift, the very least you can do is to thank them for it.  My rule in the future is going to be, I do not want to burden someone with the responsibility of acknowledging a gift by giving one.  I love giving gifts.  Seriously.  I enjoy it.  And not for any hoopla or to look good or anything like that.  I just don't understand how we've strayed so far from saying thank you?

As long as I'm talking about how much I love giving gifts, I hate being restricted on what I can or should buy.  I think registries and wish lists are great sources of inspiration and ideas, but I hate when people make it clear that they only want X, Y or Z.  And in those cases, I will gladly give A, B or C without a gift receipt and if you would like to donate it to charity, by all means, please do.

Lately, these seem to be my biggest pet peeves.  They cover the most important lessons in etiquette and manners I try to teach my kids.  What are yours?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Must Haves for Toddlerhood and Baby's Second Year

This is our second time into toddlerhood, we learned a lot the first time around, and obviously in 6 years, things have changed and progressed and we've learned more since then.  I'm sure if there were a third journey we'd learn even more.  But, for now, I wanted to share our must haves.

Obviously, every family is going to be different.  This is what has worked for our family.  And a lot of it has to do with easing communication which therefore decreases tantrums, crying and frustration for the little one.  I really wanted to sign with Kaitlyn.  Really wanted to.  But, since she was born with her tongue tied and that ultimately led to years of speech therapy, we made the decision with her speech therapist and doctor to not sign.  We all agreed it would cut down on her frustration, however, her frustration fueled her to work harder on her speech which greatly benefited her in the long run.  Samantha was also born tongue tied and while I do not think she'll need speech therapy because she was "clipped" earlier and has such an extensive vocabulary, I don't want to risk it.

Without further digression, here is our list:

* Sippy Cups.  And a lot of them.  It is so important to wean baby from the bottle.  We usually start at about 10 months because this is the age they seem to be more willing to try something new and typically aren't as attached.  However, it's hard to know what kind they will like: hard spout, soft spout, big handles, little handles, no handles, clunky, tiny and so on.  We buy a variety and when she shows her favorites we stock up on those.  They are always kept in a cupboard she can easily get to because it cuts down on frustrations.  If she wants something to drink, she just walks over to her cupboard and gets a cup and brings it to me and it's clear that she's fussy because she's thirsty.  No guess work involved.

* Hip Hammock (or sling that works with little ones over 25 lbs).  I personally love the hip hammock.  It holds them on your hip until 35 lbs and evenly distributes the weight across your back and shoulders.  This makes it so easy for when we're out shopping and I have to run into the grocery store and look in the backseat to discover she's sound asleep.  I then have to make a decision based on 3 choices: 1. Wake her up and deal with the consequences; 2. Put her in the stroller and maneuver the stroller and groceries; 3. Put her in the hip hammock, push a basket and let her sleep.  I personally like #3.  I know there is a huge variety of slings and carriers on the market, this just so happens to be my personal favorite at this age, but find what works for you and your baby.

* Musical CD of classical lullabies.  This has saved our sleep.  It's the same CD we used for Kaitlyn.  It only gets turned on twice and then plays on repeat.  The first time of the day is during nap time.  Samantha knows that if we're going into her room and I turn the CD on and hand her a blanket, it's nap time.  And she will now go down without fussing.  Same thing at night.  It also creates enough background noise where Dusty can drill into the walls, I can vacuum and Kaitlyn can sing at the top of her lungs and she will sleep through it.

* Good Tennis Shoes.  I am a big fan of comfort over looks any day of the week.  Samantha wears her sketchers or her Stride Rites every day.  They don't leave any marks on her feet, she has figured out how to walk really well in shoes and her feet are protected from the elements.

* A favorite blankie.  Samantha FINALLY has a favorite.  She had one that she really liked, and she would cuddle it when she slept, but it never was something she had to take with her.  Then, I made her one that was minkie on one side and silky on the other.  She will drag it all over the place (which reminds me, I need to go pick up more yardage of it so they can be in rotation!), and insist on it to sleep with.  And it's super lightweight, so I more comfortable when she insists on putting it over her head or walking around with it draped over her.

* Easily accessible toys.  I am a firm believer in teaching kids how to entertain themselves at an early age.  It helps foster an active imagination, it gives you some time to enjoy that cup of coffee and it just is so sweet to peak into their room or their space and see them playing while imaging what could be going on in their heads.  Samantha has toddler toys in her room that she can get to easily, both in and out of bins.  Since kids love the activity of pulling things out of boxes and shoving them back in, she has soft cloth cubes that she can easily carry that are filled with toys.

* Easy to put on clothes.  Once they can take off, it's all they want to do.  They do not have time for you to bother them with being dressed, brushing their hair or any of that.  At least, that's what Samantha tries to communicate with me by thrashing all over the place and yelling "Up! Up!" as I'm trying to get her dressed.  They are going to get dirty, they are going to need something they can move easily in and they are going to try and take their clothes off.  Samantha does not like to be in just a diaper ever.  If she is, she'll bring us whatever clothing she is missing (top or bottom) and insist we put it on her as she walks.  This also makes it so much easier for when they start insisting on doing it themselves.

* Patience, a sense of humor, a camera.  This time goes by so incredibly fast.  In my opinion, the first year is nothing compared to the ones that come after it.  Each day they are learning and figuring out so much and from month to month they loose that baby-ness to them.  They become such individuals and it's just overall scary how quickly they leave their babyself in the dust.  Enjoy it.  Take a ton of pictures, there is no such thing as too much.  Videotape their tiny voices and the silly noises they make, watch their brains work, learn to laugh when everything goes wrong and remember how hard their brains and bodies are working.

For us, everything else is fun, but these are the necessities.  These are the things that makes our days go by easier.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Around here, I usually handle all of the holidays.  I do Christmas Shopping and ask Dusty for his thoughts about gifts along the way, looking for ideas or inspiration on what to get the ones we love.  He helps set some of it up the night before and helps videotape that morning.  For Easter, I fill those baskets and make the notes from the Easter Bunny.  For birthdays, I tell him what I'm going to get and have him sign the card.

Valentine's Day is the exception. 

For the most part, Valentine's Day is another day around here.  We spend a lot of time with the I Love You's amongst us and little surprises through the year.  Valentine's Day is another holiday, but a much smaller one.  We're really big on Valentine's Day being a day of love and time together and not really a gift giving holiday.  I mean, seriously, our girls (and us) have way too much stuff as it is.  I'm always looking for ways to downgrade it, not increase it.

Every year since Kaitlyn was an itty bitty baby, Dusty has taken it upon himself to handle it all.  He gets all his "girls" roses and little presents and candy.  He buys it without asking about any gift ideas.  He sets it all up, every year, after I go to bed in places we're sure to find it in easily when we wake up in the morning.

This year was no exception.

Dusty surprised Kaitlyn with her favorite things.  A new Monster High car, lime green roses (her favorite color right now), a Big Time Rush card with a poem in it, and some of her favorite candy.  She was elated. 

When Samantha decides to wake up, she is going to be excited to see the Blowing Kisses Elmo.  Her and Kaitlyn fought over this toy when they saw it in the store to the point where I nearly bought it.  And of course, her pink rose and balloon, hiding what might be her favorite discovery Daddy found her: Chocolate Teddy Grahams.

And I woke up to beautiful roses, delicious bags of my favorite candies, a sewing apparatus I've had my eyes on and a perfect card complete with googly eyes.

Kaitlyn has her cards (that she helped design) are attached to candy, ready to pass out.  Her teacher's gift ready to be given and she's getting dressed now in her custom made Valentine's Day Outfit.

Samantha has mailed out her cards (with Kaitlyn's and which she absolutely loves and carries around with her) to friends and family.  She's asleep, but then she'll get to also wear her custom made Valentine's Day outfit and, depending on her tummy,  enjoy a yummy piece of chocolate or two.

Life is good. 

We are truly a blessed family.  While life may not be perfect and we may endure the daily pain of being a family person short, our house is filled with love, laughter, warmth and beautiful memories that will last us a lifetime.

I hope that your Valentine's Day is a lot of fun.  Even more, I hope that your everyday is filled with love.  I hope that you feel warmth in your home and you have the privilege of being surrounded by those that make you happy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Samantha's 15 month Appointment

What a crazy day today has been.  And it's not even 1 yet!

We started this rainy day by taking Samantha to the doctors for her 15 month check up.  Since Kaitlyn had a dentist appointment at 11, and Samantha's appointments are usually over in less than 20 minutes, it made sense to take her with me. 

Never again.

I LOVE our pediatrician and I love his office.  I recommend him to anyone in the area.  But, today, the nurse was work on training a new nurse to prepare for her upcoming maternity leave and my favorite nurse was not in today.  BOO.  So, once in the office, things ran slow on their end.  And it was hard keeping Samantha not crying (she cut a molar this morning, had another "poop" incident with constipation in the waiting room and was in the most awful of moods), Kaitlyn sitting still and our stuff all contained.

First, the measurements.  She's down to 21 lbs and 15 ounces.  Which is a weight loss of about 3 ounces from almost 3 weeks ago.  She's dropped to the 40% mark.  But, her doctor is not concerned.  She's active, she's energetic, she's eating and we'll just see how she does at her 18 month appointment.  Her height is at 31.5" (which is up an inch from 3 months ago) and is in the 80% mark.  Her gigantic head is at 47.5 cm which is in the 90%.  So, she's growing.  Which is great!

She's advanced for her age as far as her gross and fine motor skills go, as well as her language development.  She's really, really behind though in pooping. 

During our wait in the waiting room, she had a tough stool.  I mean, she cried, a hemroid formed and she was not a happy camper.  Since dropping to the half dose of laxative on Saturday, she's been having troubles going.

This resulted in our doctor ordering an X-Ray of her tummy to see what the deal was.  We waited in our room for nearly an hour to get her 3 little shots (which she of course screamed thorugh since we were holding her down and still) and then headed down to radiology.

She did AMAZING during her X-Ray.  She layed perfectly still without any help or support and we got it in one shot. 

Her X-Ray showed even though she had 2 large, heavy bowel movements within the couple hours prior, she was still filled with stool.  It needs to get out.  So, we are back to the full dose of laxative, another enema and magnesium citrate.  Wish us luck.

From there, we raced to Kaitlyn's dentist office.  The delay at the doctor's office pushed us 30 minutes late, :( , but, as always they were amazing.  She got her cavitiy filled, started feeling less woozy from the gas and was ready to go.

So, we had one day back in cloth and it looks like that was it for now.  Joy.  Not.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Diet

Around New Years, Dusty decided he wanted to start losing weight.  This led to me deciding that our whole family could start eating healthier.  We could give up fast food, we could trade in the unhealthy treats for healthier ones and we could practice better living habits.

My concern was that he would want to do something that resulted in rapid weight loss and would be disappointed if he didn't see significant results rather quickly, get discouraged and give up.  My other concern was my own weight.  I have the HARDEST time keeping weight on and gaining.  HARDEST.  I'm finally at 123 and I have to fight to stay there and easily consume 3,000+ calories a day.  I am blessed with an awesome metabolism that one day, I'm sure, will catch up with me.  But, until then, I don't like the idea of dropping even a single pound.

To help Dusty with his weight loss, we decided to utilize some aspects of  We entered in his current weight, his goal weight and it told us how many calories he should consume a day (as well as fat, protein, carbs and so on), meal ideas, recipes, and all that good stuff.  His goal was to drop to 1500-1800 calories a day and to lose 2 pounds a week.  His total weight loss goal was 37 pounds.  This goal should be reached in about 4 months according to Spark People.

We began logging each and everything he ate.  Trading unhealthy meals for healthier ones.  Saving calories where we could.  For example, instead of eating left overs for breakfast, he started eating a yogurt with a sprinkle of granola.  Lunches were taken to work instead of fast food, and dinner stayed nearly the same.  Whenever possible substitutions were made to ensure that it was super low in calories, healthy and flavorful.  And lots and lots of veggies.  We've always been big veggie eaters, so that part was easy.

Thursday marked 1 month since starting the lifestyle change.  Dusty is down 19 pounds!  How awesome is that?  We've become a lot more aware of what we're eating and the nutritional value of every bite.  Dusty still gets to have just about anything he wants and we've eaten out only once in a month.  Super proud of him!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

15 months

Little Miss Samantha is 1/4 of the way through her second year.  Which means Kaitlyn is 8 days away from being 1/4 of the way through her eighth year.  If I could figure out how to pause time, even just a little big each day, I would totally love that.

At 15 months, Samantha is growing by leaps and bounds.  She talks like crazy.  She says a lot of things that sounds like other things, like it seriously sounds like she says "Get Away From Me" when Dusty is trying to irritate her and things of that nature.  She's added "Stop" and "nuh huh" and "huh huh" to her vocabulary as well.

She's learned to dance.  Mostly, she likes to dance in circles and circles and circles until she is so dizzy she can't stand up anymore.  Then, while she is still dizzy, she does it some more.  She has some of the funniest expressions.  I wish I could get more photographed, but she's a cheeser when she sees a camera or my phone pointed in her direction.  So, some of these pictures are horrific quality.  I have to be sneaky with my phone otherwise I can't get any in the moment of what she's doing.

She loves to eat.  She's not terribly picky, but definitely prefers meat and cookies.  She will only eat now if she can use her fork.  She works carefully that to ensure each and every bite makes it to a fork before her mouth.

She loves her blankey we made last month.  One side is silky and the other side is minky.  I swear her sleep has improved so much with that blanket.  She cuddles against it.  It's really, really sweet.  She's also taken to her baby dolls.  She loves to push them around in a stroller.  A lot of her toys were once Kaitlyn's, and her stroller was used.  I mean used.  Used well.  Do you know how many stores I had to go to just to find a stroller used for pushing (until I find the perfect one I want) or at all?  It was crazy!

She really wants to start doing somersaults.  She does this constantly!  We have Kaitlyn starting tumbling this month and if Samantha keeps this up, she'll be close behind.

She's also big on head banging.  Against anything.  Preferably hard, in rapid succession.  For no particular reason other than we think she likes the head rush. 

She's just growing and learning so fast.  She hates being told no and loves to tell us "no no" when we tell her no.  But, even while she's screaming "No, No" at us, 80% of the time she'll listen.  She loves to help clean up.  Which means everything goes into the recycling bin or garbage.  She loves to garbage dig.  She loves Elmo and Big Bang Theory.  I swear, there is a good possibility my dreams of a primary colored, bright, energetic Sesame Street party are going to be pushed aside for a neuron inspired Big Bang Theory Party when she turns 2 if this keeps up.

She loves baths, but hates having her hair washed, and hates having water on her hair or face AT ALL.

We're in disposables still, but I'm hoping that since we end the adult doseage of laxatives tomorrow we can go back to cloth!  I look forward to not having leaks, blowouts, wing drop, smelly issues and excessive poo in my garbage can.  Anyone that says they don't like cloth because of washing poo diapers obviously hasn't experienced the fun of a blowout and the challenges of washing it out of delicate baby clothes.

Samantha loves playing dress-up.  She loves wearing crowns, necklaces, bracelets and putting anything over her head to be a dress.  She'll come tell you pretty.  She loves high fives and "fist bumps" for any reason at all. 

I love Samantha's room.  One of my big things in nurseries is having something they can grow with, then, as they make their big changes early in life, like potty training, big kid bed transitions and things of that nature, they have the security of their room being familiar.  Kaitlyn kept her princess room until we moved here, so she was nearly 5?  Samantha's room has been rearranged.  Isn't it amazing how what is convenient when they are babies can be a pain in the rear when they are toddlers?  She needed more room, she needed more toy space and less room for swaddle blankets and burp cloths.  She needed more room to play and read her stories.  It's funny, Kaitlyn moved into her toddler bed at 13 months.  She was climbing out of her crib all the time.   Samantha is no where near ready.  If I converted her crib now to the toddler bed, she would be out of it all night long.  I'm keeping her in that crib until she is either crawling out or I can't lift her in and out anymore. 

Samantha has her 15 month appointment on Monday, then I'll have an accurate weight/height measurement.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Dentist

Kaitlyn loves her dentist.  And why wouldn't she?  She gets to sit in an awesome chair and watch her choice of TVs, featuring whatever she wants with jungle animals all over the place, she gets goodies, balloons and otter pops.  Before her appointment she gets to wait in the playroom with toys, Xboxes, PS3s and even more TVs.  I would love it too. 

And, her dentist is a really nice guy.  He brings his kid to work.  He's a year or so younger than Kaitlyn and super cute. 

After x-rays and teeth cleaning, he comes over and checks all of her teeth.  None of them have numbers here, they all have names, all characters that she knows, you know, Hannah Montanna, Aurora, Sponge Bob, Cinderella and the like. 

Kaitlyn had her six month check-up on Monday.  We battle with tooth brushing.  Not really doing it, but doing it long enough.  Kaitlyn's version of 3 minutes and my version of 3 minutes is so different.  Even if my 3 minutes match the timer on one of her half dozen tooth brushes.  So, the deal was, if there was a single cavity, there would be no sugary treats until the next check-up.

After her tooth cleaning, he came over and told her that Arial had a cavity.  She asked him what she was going to do and which tooth it was.  Then, the light bulb went off and she realized it was her Arial tooth.  She nearly cried.  He reassured her it just meant she could come back and see him sooner, get a new toy and it was so teeny tiny it would only take a few moments to fill. 

Then, he took a peek at Samantha's chipped tooth for me.  He said it's so common on that tooth and he sees it all. the. time on that age.  He would be happy to grind it down for us, but it would only be for cosmetic reasons, however, she wouldn't like it (and I can only imagine how traumatizing that would be on both of us), and it would eventually do it on it's own.

Kaitlyn gets to go back on Monday.  After Samantha's 15 month check-up.

The Quilt

For the past couple of years, I've wanted to have Matthew's clothes turned into quilt.  There are a multitude of problems regarding all of this.  The first was finding someone to do it.  It had to be someone I trusted, I mean these are his clothes, when you don't have very many belongings that were touched and used by someone you miss in a short period of time, what could be a dirty, spit-up stained onesie to someone can be another's treasure. 

So, if I found someone that I trusted to make it, I would need to have them make my vision a reality.  I found a lot of really reputable people who have their own small businesses making memory quilts.  For anywhere from $400 to $1000.  That's a lot of money.  And you have to send your clothes to them, and wait 12+ weeks to get it back.  So, 12 weeks to be sure that you made the right decision.

The more research I did, the more I wanted to try it myself.  But, I was scared.  What if I messed it up?  And I'm not one to practice patience very well.  I mean, I prefer to make the girls things that can be done in a couple of hours. 

So, I decided to take it one step at a time.  I started by choosing which clothes I wanted to use.  There are a few outfits that are my favorites, and Dusty had a couple that were his favorites.  We kept some out and some I put in, especially my favorite sleeper because it was so textured.  We let the girls pick out some (well, Kaitlyn picked out Samantha's) to put on a teddy bear that they could keep and some to make into tiny pillows for them (Dusty's idea).

At this point, I had my clothes picked out and some receiving blankets.  Initially, I had wanted to back it with receiving blankets, but I ended up hating that idea, so I put those away.

I went through each and every outfit I wanted to use and cut out 3" squares from my favorites parts first and then filler pieces through the outfit, trying to use as much as possible.  On several pieces, my favorite part was much bigger than 3", so those I cut 4" with some 3" filler parts.  Then, I saved all the "scraps" from each and every outfit, just in case I find something else I can do with them.  I actually have an idea of making a teddy bear and filling the teddy bear with scraps?  Maybe attaching different snaps and buttons from the outfits to use as eyes and such?

I used card stock to make my squares, then traced them onto the fabric using a air erasable fabric pen.  Did you know that if you go through that whole pile and mark it, then go back the next day to start cutting, and continue it through the following day, many of those marks will have already disappeared?  Lesson learned.

Eventually I had this

Then, came the harder part, well, maybe not harder, more like tedious.  I cut out 3" pieces and 4" pieces of iron on stabilizer to attach to each and every piece.  Halfway through, I re-read the directions on the stabilizer and it said to leave a 1/2" seam allowance.  So, I started doing that.  If I did it all over again, I wouldn't have read those instructions because the ones with the seam allowance were SO much harder to sew together.

Once everything was nice and stable, I started laying out the pieces to decide how I want it to look.  I played and played until I got this.

I then had sneaky little fingers all over the place trying to ruin my fabulous design, so I had to sew it all quickly.  I went row by row and then attached each row until the were all nice and attached securely to eachother.

I decided to use some of my extra squares to make mini ones for each set of grandparents.  I wanted brown backing on ours and decided to do light blue backings on theirs.  I also used premade quilt binding, which took some playing with.

I learned a couple of lessons, the first being I should have binded it a different way, like by pulling the back up and folding it over the front.  I almost wish I would have used fleece on the back?  And I HATE, HATE, HATE the adhesive spray used to hold the layers together.  If I ever use the rest of that overpriced can, I will do it outside, with gloves on and plastic bags on my shoes so not a drop comes in the house.  It really, really sucked.

In the end, I had this

Someone saw a camera and had to get in on the action.

Our two mini ones.

And that, my friends is 500 posts.  Thanks for being a part of it all.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


For the past couple of weeks, I've been doing some serious decluttering around here.  I guess with how spring like it feels, it just seems appropriate to do some spring cleaning.

I've weeded out so much in the cabinets under the counter, taking out every kitchen gadget that seemed way cooler on TV or that I haven't touched in the 3 years we've lived here.  I've taken EVERYTHING out of Samantha's room and totally rearranged it and gave her so much room.  (I would love to see more pictures of people whose nurseries have changed from super cute to super functional in that first and second year lol!)  I've taken 2 huge garbage bags out of Kaitlyn's room, rearranging some things and making her the deal that if she is attitude free for 30 days she'll get a complete room makeover, complete with new paint and wall art.  I've gone through my craft "corner" and drawers and gotten rid of a huge garbage bag of stuff that was just shoved in there.  I've gone through my closets and donated 2 huge bags to charity.  I've gone through medicine cabinets, through my office shelves in the closets, through picture frames, changing out the old with the new (although I still need to update like crazy, time is just flying and these girls are changing so much every day!), through purses and drawers and cupboards galore.  And it feels good.  It feels clean.  It feels refreshing.  It feels simple.

I've noticed too, when there is less room for high quantity, there is more room for high quality.  And with life being as short and unpredictable as it is, I much prefer high quality.

After an awesome ending to a great weekend, I find that it's the same way with people.  I like having high quality people in my life.  I like having life being truly drama free.  I like spending time with people I really and truly like and care about and having fun things to talk about besides the latest squabble with the same people, or the gossip of so and so.  I think that it also helps make for deeper conversations and closer bonds.  We are truly blessed by having such wonderful friends and amazing family in our lives.  I want this year to be about enriching those relationships, creating more intimacy with the people I love and enjoy spending time with.

I think we're off to a great start.

*PS- This is my 499 post!  WOO HOO!!!!  For post number 500, I'm hoping to share with you all something I've been working on.  Fingers crossed I get it finished this week and can post and share it with you for post 500!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Setting Good Examples

I believe there are many different ways to parent your children.  There are right ways, righter ways, different ways, more different ways, and as long as you love your child and genuinely have their best interest in your heart with every decision you make, there is no wrong way.  I believe that being a good parent is about not always taking the easy way out, while still allowing yourself some shortcuts, and sometimes using that "mommy is a grown-up and grown-ups can make their own decisions, when you're a grown-up, you can make those decisions too."

I cringe when I see certain shortcuts being made in front of kids.  Be it your kids or another's, such as mine.  One of my biggest pet peeves (aside from the obvious and sickening violent and disgusting acts against children) occurs in front of Kaitlyn's school each and every day, and when we're driving around.  I'm a huge fan of using frozen veggies in food to save me from having to cut any, but I would never stop 10 feet short of a crosswalk to cross the street.  WHY?  Why do people not take the few extra steps to walk in the crosswalk.  Especially in front of a school?  Why have your kids cut through traffic with you, darting in between cars when they aren't tall enough to be seen over most dashboards all so you can save yourself a few feet and what, 3 minutes?  At most?

Earlier this school year, Kaitlyn's questioning of parents jaywalking in front of the school led me to start realizing exactly how impressionable she is now.  She's at an age where she really does pay attention to everything around her, and she reacts to it, thinks about it, comes up with questions about it and critically thinks about it.  Which is awesome.  But, it also means that we have to be more vigilant about teaching her which behaviors are ok to emulate and which behaviors should be completely and totally ignored.  Of course, it doesn't help that she is one of the nosiest kids I know :P

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Dusty and I have this conversation, ALL the time.  You know how when you have a headache, or a cold, or a runny nose and all you can think about is how miserable it feels.  When it's over, you realize you feel better, but you don't really think about it on a regular basis.  Unless you feel awesome any particular day, you don't really stop during the day and say "wow, it feels great to feel normal" or "yay, I don't have a runny nose today!"

It often makes me think about how often I can go through a day and not really take in how fortunate we are or how thankful we should be.  When times are at their darkest, it's easy to concentrate on those awful moments and wish for how things were or "should" be, but why don't we do that more often on the normal days?

How often do we stop and think about how blessed we are on just a normal hum, drum day?  How often do we stop and appreciate the simple things in life?  Toast or warm socks?  And if we spent more time thinking about how thankful we are for the little things, maybe the world would filled with a few more smiles.