Friday, August 13, 2010

101 small pleasures you can enjoy every day

1. coloring (yes, grown-ups can do it, too)
2. crisp cotton sheets
3. soft skin
4. old family recipes
5. the first daffodils of spring
6. sleeping in
7. an exercise endorphin high
8. window boxes
9. a perfect cup of coffee
10. a genuine compliment (giving or receiving)
11. the way babies smell
12. a handwritten letter
13. waking up in a good mood...for no real reason
14. singing in the shower
15. finding a couple forgotten dollars in your pocket
16. doing something nice for your neighbor
17. a home cooked meal
18. laughing
19. movie theater popcorn
20. playing hookey
21. a bubble bath
22. swimming
23. an afternoon nap
24. street musicians
25. your favorite song
26. saying thank you
27. helping someone in need
28. old fashioned photo booths
29. fresh whipped cream
30. inspiring blogs
31. a glass of wine
32. rainy afternoons
33. the funny things kids say
34. a novel you can get lost in
35. finding the perfect piece of clothing...on sale
36. clean laundry
37. the wind in your hair
38. treating the person behind you at the drive-thru
39. sharing an umbrella
40. the smell of lavender
41. a long walk that clears your head
42. a bear hug
43. The Beatles
44. smiling at a stranger
45. eating with chopsticks (Chinese food optional)
46. butterflies
47. staying in your pj's all day
48. singing along to the radio and knowing all the words
49. fresh herbs
50. ordering in pizza
51. happy endings...even if they're fictional
52. flying a kite
53. puppies
54. root beer floats
55. holding open the door...
56. ...or having someone hold the door for you
57. fountain soda
58. white, fluffy towels
59. sunshine
60. spending an afternoon at a museum
61. really great advice
62. green lights all the way home
63. the sound of rain hitting the windows
64. sitting in a booth
65. holding hands
66. a great hair day with no effort
67. building a fort with your kids
68. when someone falls asleep with their head on your shoulder
69. fireflies
70. the perfect taco
71. geraniums on a windowsill
72. slow dancing
73. the smell of fresh-baked bread
74. cheesy, uplifting musicals
75. great stories
76. the smell of gasoline
77. the cold side of the pillow
78. love letters
79. old friends...
80. friends
81. a pull-through parking space
82. a baguette -- crisp on the outside, airy on the inside
83. when a dog licks your hand
84. sitting at the counter at an old-fashioned diner
85. using your favorite dishes
86. reading your child a bedtime story
87. Girl Scout Cookies
88. flossing
89. kissing someone you love
90. the smell of onions and garlic cooking
91. hot chocolate
92. jumping in puddles
93. old photographs
94. birds hopping on the sidewalk
95. Ella Fitzgerald
96. a spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar
97. your softest t-shirt
98. a new magazine in the mail
99. fireplaces
100. having exact change
101. bacon and pancakes cooking on Saturday morning

Dating 101: Seven Things No One Tells You About Marriage

I was cleaning out the bookmarks section of my internet, and found this gem. I should also add that it was in the "HELP" folder. I am by no means an expert when it comes to marriage. Mike and I have our problems, and they probably get shared with too many people. Some things are meant to be kept between a husband and his wife, not their parents and siblings too.

The surprising, enlightening, and sometimes hard truths married folks all face -- and how they teach us about what love really means.

By Ylonda Gault Caviness for Redbook Updated: May 22, 2009

You're smart. You know life is no storybook. But admit it: Somewhere deep in your subconscious lurk romantic visions of Cinderella, or maybe Julia Roberts. The images may be sketchy and a little outdated, but you can still make out the silhouette of the bride and Prince Charming riding off into the sunset.
In real life, sometimes your Disney fairy tale ends up feeling more like a Wes Craven horror flick -- and you're the chick who keeps falling down and screaming for her life. I've been there. Let's face it, marriage is not for the faint of heart. You want to believe your pure love for each other will pull you through. And it does. But it ain't always pretty.

That may sound grim. But here's a secret: Sometimes it's the least romantic parts of marriage that have the most to teach you about yourself, your partner, and the nature of love. Read on for some simple truths that will unlock the surprising treasures and pleasures in your imperfect, unstorybook, real-life love.

1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?
When you get married, you think that as long as you pick the right guy -- your soul mate -- you'll be happy together until death do you part. Then you wake up one day and realize that no matter how great he is, he doesn't make you happy every moment of every day. In fact, some days you might wonder why you were in such a hurry to get married in the first place. You think to yourself, "This is so not what I signed up for."
Actually, it is. You just didn't realize it the day you and your guy were cramming wedding cake into each other's faces, clinking champagne glasses, and dancing the Electric Slide. Back then you had no idea that "for better and for worse" doesn't kick in only when life hands you a tragedy. Your relationship mettle is, in fact, most tested on a daily basis, when the utter sameness of day-in/day-out togetherness can sometimes make you want to run for the hills. That's when the disappointment sneaks in, and maybe even a palpable sense of loneliness and grief. It's not him. It's just you, letting go of that sugarcoated fantasy of marriage that danced in your eyes the day you and your beloved posed in all those soft-focus wedding photos. You're learning that marriage isn't a destination; it's a journey filled with equal parts excitement and tedium.
Waking up from a good dream to face the harsh morning daylight may not seem like a reason to celebrate. But trust me, it is. Because once you let go of all the hokey stories of eternal bliss, you find that the reality of marriage is far richer and more rewarding than you ever could have guessed. Hard, yes. Frustrating, yes. But full of its own powerful, quiet enchantments just the same, and that's better than any fairy tale.

2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.
Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume "work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat. In your naivete, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.
If only it were that easy. Human beings, you may have noticed, are not simple creatures. Your man has mysterious, unplumbed depths -- and from where he sits, you're pretty complicated, too. You have to learn each other the same way that you once learned earth science or world geography. And getting married doesn't mean you're done -- it just means you've advanced to graduate-level studies. That's because every time you think you've mastered the material, he'll change a bit. And so will you. As two people grow and evolve, the real work of marriage is finding a way to relate to and nurture each other in the process.
"It's like losing weight," says Andrea Harden, 45, of Buffalo, NY. "You want it to be a one-time deal. You lost it, now just live. But then you learn it's a lifestyle. That's marriage. The effort is a forever thing." So don't be too hard on yourself -- or him -- on those days when you feel like you're struggling through remedial math.

3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).
Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.
You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs to breathe. A break in the action will help you figure out whether you're angry, hurt, or both, and then pinpoint the exact source. Maybe the fight that seemed to erupt over the overflowing garbage can is really about feeling underappreciated. Could be you're both stressed out at work and just needed to unload on someone. Taking a break will help you see that, and let go. Or maybe you really do have a legitimate disagreement to work out. Without a time-out, sometimes a perfectly good argument can turn into an endless round of silly back-and-forth, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions as you get more and more wound up.
Even when you do manage to stay focused and on topic, there are some fights that stubbornly refuse to die by bedtime. And if you stifle your real feelings just to meet some arbitrary deadline, your marriage will surely be the worse for it. "This was a huge lesson for me," says Andrea. "As women we've been trained to make nice. But the whole kiss-and-make-up thing just to keep the peace was eating me up inside. I'd let things build up inside me until I just exploded. Now I wait a while to get hold of myself -- let the emotions settle a bit -- and state my position. Even if that means reopening the fight the next day."

4. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.
I can be a bit of a know-it-all. There, I said it. It's really not my intention to be hurtful or brash with people I love. It's just that a lifetime of experience has taught me that in most areas, at most times, I am right about most things. What shocked me several years into my marriage, though, was the realization that the more "right" I was, the more discontented my husband and I were as a couple. See, oddly enough, throughout his life Genoveso has been under the misguided impression that he's right most of the time (go figure!). So we'd lock horns -- often. That is, until I learned a few things.
Namely, that when it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong -- there is simply your way of looking at things and your husband's. "I used to be very black-and-white earlier in our marriage," says Lindy Vincent, 38, who lives in Minneapolis. "Now I see that I'm not all right and my husband is not all wrong. There's more gray in life than I thought, and that's taught me patience and the value of compromise."

5. A great marriage doesn't mean no conflict; it simply means a couple keeps trying to get it right.
Maybe you think that because of my newfound wisdom, Genoveso and I never fight anymore. Ha! As important as it is to strike a balance, it's also important to have a big, fat fight every now and then. Because when you fight, you don't just raise your voices; you raise real -- sometimes buried -- issues that challenge you to come to a clearer understanding of you, your man, and your relationship. I wouldn't give up our fights for anything in the world, because I know in the end they won't break us; they'll only make us stronger.

6. You'll realize that you can only change yourself.
Ever seen the '80s sci-fi cult classic "Making Mr. Right?" When the stylish heroine, played by Ann Magnuson, is hired to teach a robot how to act like a human, she seizes the chance to create a perfect guy. A hotshot commercial whiz, she uses her marketing prowess to shape John Malkovich's android character into her personal version of the ideal man -- sensitive, eager to please, and willing to listen.
There is a bit of that makeover fantasy in all of us -- something that makes us believe we can change the person we love, make him just a little bit closer to perfect. We may use support and empathy or shouts and ultimatums, but with dogged conviction we take on this huge responsibility, convinced we're doing the right thing.
Whatever our motives, the effort is exhausting. Transforming a full-grown man -- stripping him of decades-old habits, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies -- is truly an impossible task. And you will come to realize, sooner than later if you're lucky, that it is far easier to change the way you respond to him.

7. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of.
There were clues when Genoveso and I were dating, especially with the trust thing. Early on, I was supersuspicious of him. He used to say things like, "I'll call you at 8." Then, just to try to trip me up, he'd call at 8. I knew he was up to something, I just couldn't figure out what. The same kinds of experiences followed after the wedding. Except occasionally he would actually mess up. And I had no sense of scale when it came to rating his offenses; everything was a major violation. Whether he teased me about a new haircut or came home late, I seethed for days and even let thoughts of divorce creep into my head. I figured, if he loved me -- really and truly -- this stuff wouldn't happen.
I'd like to be able to say that this irrational behavior lasted only a few months and I eventually worked it out. Kind of, sort of, is closer to the truth. After years of looking deeply into my soul and talking to good friends and the best sister a girl could ever have, I've come to recognize certain things about myself. Not to get all Dr. Phil about it, but I've had to examine my history with an emotionally distant dad and a strong-willed mom and face up to all the ways, both good and bad, that those relationships have affected how I approach my marriage.
That's the strange beauty of marriage: It's full of hard times and hard lessons that no one can ever prepare you for. But in the end, those are the things that give richness to your life together -- and make your love even deeper and stronger than when it began.

Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

Potty Traing Day 2

Day 2 went a little better. I've decided that since Genevieve is still nursing and taking lots of time, we won't try really hard to potty train Dianna right now. She's "ready" to train, but she doesn't seem to really want to go in the toilet. I'd put the little one in the living room, but with Genevieve crawling around, that is NOT a good idea.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Potty Training Day 1

After 2 days of Dianna playing in her poo, I decided that it is time to start potty training her. She was obviously very aware that she was going to poo, because there was NO POO AT ALL on the inside of her pull-up. It was all on her hands, and a little on the outside of the pull-up. I was not very happy about that. The mess I mean. When she got up this morning, we put a pair of Elmo underwear on her and got her dressed for the day. I gave her a sippy of juice about 10-15 minutes ago, and in a couple of minutes, I'm going to have her go sit on the toilet. Hopefully, she will make it and not go in the underwear. I'm just going to keep her in underwear and go sit her on the toilet every 30 minutes today. If we are really lucky, she will only have a few accidents.

Added at 10:08am:
No luck this time. Dianna sat on the toilet for 30 minutes, and didn't go at all. She finished her juice and had some cereal while she sat there. I guess we will try again at 10:30.

Added at 10:36am: She missed potty attempt #2 by 2 minutes, so we are short set #2.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Starting a Business!

Money is too tight around here, so I am going to try to earn some extra money. I've knitted some hats and scarves, and so far they are turning out good. One hat has been gifted to a friend, and another is for Genevieve. Another hat is in the works right now, and that one is going to a mommy friend. I'm hoping to wrangle the girls enough that I can start setting aside time to make a bunch more stuff, including some dresses, skirts, and tops for girls. Hopefully, I can start making more and a greater variety of items by the end of the year. I don't know if I would start a blog specifically for all this fun filled working, but I will probably join an etsy type webpage and sell stuff on there too. If you want something, I will definitely try to fill that wanting void. =)

A Helpful Article from the Attachment Parenting Blog

It has given me lots of ideas and shown me where I need to work on stuff with the girls.

Staying Patient
by Dionna on March 3, 2010

Let’s be honest: toddlers and young preschoolers can wear on even the most patient person’s nerves. From the constant questions (“why?” “wat dat?” “where mama go?”) to the wild mood swings and outbursts, life with one to three year old kids can be difficult. But screaming back at your angry two year old is not going to help him learn how to handle his difficult emotions. Telling your heartbroken three year old to stop crying and “get over it” after she spills her ice cream is not going to make her feel better about the ice cream or herself. Smacking your twenty month old’s hand for pulling the cat’s tail does not teach him how to give gentle touches.

Here are a few tips for staying patient with your child (these don’t only apply to toddlers and preschoolers, but those are the ages I am most familiar with).

1. Be Silly and Play: Play is a child’s “main way of communicating, of experimenting, and of learning.” Play is such an important part of children’s lives that there is an entire therapeutic technique based entirely on play. And not only is it important to get regular play time in with your child, but you can also avoid arguments and stress by being silly and playing with your child when you foresee a problem. I recommend reading Dr. Cohen’s book Playful Parenting for more ideas in this area.

2. Try Alternatives to “Punishment”: Rather than resorting to immediate “punishment” or “consequences,” take a few minutes to cool off before addressing your child when you are angry. Hitting your child, humiliating him with harsh words, threatening him, or calling him names all leave emotional scars. Instead of punishment, try making a connection. Your child is more likely to understand and communicate when they are not cowering in fear of a scary, angry parent. Give your child a hug, pull him aside, and talk quietly -without judgment – about what happened. You are more likely to get to the root of the problem by connecting with your child than you are while smacking him.

3. Sing Instead of Shout: Similar to the idea of being playful, try singing your requests instead of shouting them. You may get your child’s attention faster by asking “please pick up your shoes before I trip and break my neck!” in a singsong voice than by saying (for the umpteenth time) “get in here and pick these shoes up right now young lady!”

4. Try a Change of Scenery: Boredom is rarely conducive to happiness and cooperation, so if you’ve been stuck in the same house or routine, get out and do something different.

5. Remind Yourself That It’s Age Appropriate: Sometimes all it takes to calm us down is a simple reminder that your children are not trying to make you crazy, they’re just being kids. Toddlers cannot help expressing big emotions – they simply do not have the tools yet to manage them. One year olds aren’t trying to kill themselves by climbing the bookcase or sticking fingers in the light socket – they just haven’t learned what is dangerous. It is our responsibility and privilege to help children as they learn. Would we rather our child’s experiences growing up be filled with gentleness, love and respect, or fear, self-doubt and shame?

6. Identify Your Triggers: Take notice of the times you feel the most stressed out and what can calm you down. Do you need more alone time? Do you feel better after visiting with a friend? Do your batteries recharge during small playgroups? Can you chill out while volunteering? Are you getting adequate nutrition? Parents must take care of themselves too.

7. Adjust Your Expectations: Are you holding on to expectations that are no longer realistic? Our children are always growing and changing – they will drop naps, they will develop their own preferences, they will constantly challenge us. Make sure that you are not expecting too much (or too little!) of your child. And remember that parenting does not equal control. If you are always trying to control your child, you will only be disappointed and frustrated, and your relationship with your child will suffer.

8. Tell Your Child How You Feel: Are you angry? Frustrated? Tired? Share your feelings! Children need help identifying feelings in themselves and others. They also need to know that their actions affect others. Be careful, though, not to say “you are making me angry” – your child is not in control of your emotions, you are. It is not your child’s fault you are angry. Try “Mama is feeling angry that the paint spilled all over the carpet. I will have to spend time cleaning it up now, and I am disappointed because I will miss my book club meeting. I would appreciate your help getting some towels so we can start cleaning up.” A good resource for this concept is Naomi Aldort’s Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves.

9. Remember that “This Too Shall Pass”: If all else fails take a deep breath and repeat these words: “this too shall pass.” Your child won’t be two (or three or four) forever. This beautiful little one screaming in the next room will grow up too fast. These difficult days will be a fleeting (and precious) memory.