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Thursday, January 28, 2010

100 Best Photos of 2009

Digital Photography has so many wonderful benefits, but it leaves us all with way too many photos! I am committed to only keeping about 350 "everyday" family photos along with 100 summer vacation photos each year. This means that I dump all my photos into an editing folder and delete loads of them on the spot. Only my favorites make it into the final folder. As I was finalizing my picks for this year, I decided it would be fun to share with you my favorite 100 photos. Wow, has all this happened in the last 12 months?
The pictures are set to music by Ambrosia Parsley. The song is called "Everybody Came" and is featured on For the Kids too which is a great CD that features fun, kid friendly songs sung by Modern Adult Singers. On the first For the Kids artists like Cake, Sarah McLachlan, and Barenaked Ladies are featured. My kids love it, and don't tell them but so do I!

Book Recomendation: My First Little House Books

I know some of you loved the Little House on the Prairie books as children, and if you didn't read the books, you probably watched the Little House on the Prairie TV series. I can't say that I got through the whole book series, but reading these books to my kids has made me want to try again even as an adult. The My First Little House Books follow the basic plot line of the original books and are a great way to introduce your children to Ma, Pa, big sister Mary, little sister Carrie, Jack the bulldog, and, of course, Laura Ingalls herself.

Book Recommendation: Amazing Baby: Baby, Boo!

This book is perfect for babies aged 9-18 months. I didn't choose it, Julian did. He was probably 10 months old when it found it's way into our library bag. He was instantly enthralled with the babies in the book. I remember him giggling at every page, and especially at the end where the book climaxes. Yes, their is a build up and climax in a baby book! I look forward to the boo! page with every read because I know it's going to bring forth a giggle, or at least it did with Julian. At age 2, D'arcy memorized the words and would read it to him over and over again. We even took video of it with our old phone. Hmmm...Stephen do you still have that?

We had so much fun with this book, that I was determined to buy it for Schroeder. Grammy helped us out with that at Christmas time. She found the BIG board book on Amazon which is even better than the smaller version we had borrowed from the library so many times. I wasn't sure if Schroeder would like it as much as JuJu did, but this book has proven to be more than just an individual favorite. Schroeder is compelled to grab the book and kiss the babies in the first four pages, and the boo! page never fails to produce a smile. Then I close the book and pop it back open again which gets a bigger smile. Then I close the book and pop it open one more time to get that hard earned laugh.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Those Moxley Kids: Update on my sister

Yesterday, after having nothing but great reports on her babies, Connie went to the ER very concerned that she might be miscarrying one of her triplets. After a difficult four hour wait (is it a coincidence that the ultrasound technician didn't get there until after the Colts game was over?), my sister was relieved to find out that all the babies were still visible and had strong heartbeats. She was also assured that she was not dilated at all.
She came home obviously shaken up and with instructions to rest. She is a high school science teacher, and resting can only be done once lesson plans are in place for her subs. She was told that the bleeding should subside in the next couple of days. Her doctor has pushed her next appointment up from next Tuesday to this coming Friday.
I know many of you were intrigued and moved by her story so I wanted to keep you up to date on her pregnancy. Thus far, her doctor has been happily surprised by how well the pregnancy has gone. The babies have been growing at an equal and standard rate, and no abnormalities have been detected. We are hoping that after a couple of days of rest, her bleeding will subside, and the doctor will give her the go ahead to go back to work.

Look, No Training Wheels!

It was 80 degrees here on Friday so we spent much of the afternoon playing in our front yard. After about an hour, D'arcy asked if I would take her training wheels off her bike so that she could learn to ride like Jayden and Keagan, two first grade girls in our neighborhood. I can't believe I so willingly said yes since I haven't had motivation to do much of anything in the last couple of weeks. It took just a few twists of the wrench to get the training wheels off, and we headed down to the sidewalk to start.

D'arcy wanted to put both feet on the pedals before pushing off, and was quickly falling over. I showed her the best way to push off with one foot on the pedal and one on the ground. After a couple of tries, she had gotten the hang of it, but still needed some practice with balance. But thanks to much scooter riding, her balance was already pretty good, and after about an hour, a couple of falls, and one scooby-doo Bandaid, she was riding a bike like the big girls.

Stephen came home and amazed him with her new skills. I don't know how long these things usually take, but what I've discovered with D'arcy is that when she desires to learn something, she is persistent to practice until she gets it. She proved that with her scooter, and with her jump rope, and now with her bike. I had seen this quality come out early in Julian with his puzzles when at 1 1/2 he would work and rework this very basic Curious George puzzle until he could fit the pieces into the right spot. One day he spent over an hour doing that. It's great to see this quality coming out in D'arcy as well.

Kids say the darndest things...

D'arcy brought her pram stroller over to Grammy's house after receiving it from Grandma Clark on Christmas Eve. She showed it to Grammy and preceeded to tell Grammy that this was "one of her dreams come true!"

Tonight, the kids were in their room playing dress up. Julian was adamantly searching for his Woody costume. I told him it was in the dirty clothes, but both D'arcy and Julian said they couldn't find it. I told them they needed to look harder. D'arcy finally found it to Julian's great joy, and she says, "Julian, isn't it wonderful to have a big sister around who can help you find things and teach you things." Julian eagerly agrees as he pulls on his costume.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pregnancy Update: Due Dates and other less certain predictions

This is my fourth pregnancy. I've been through this before, and I've learned a few things along the way. Not 24 hours after I took a positive pregnancy test with my first pregnancy, I was on the phone with my OB/GYN. "What, you don't want to see me until 10 weeks? Don't you want to take a blood test to confirm I'm not making this up?"
So in the last few weeks when someone has asked if I had scheduled my first prenatal appointment, I've shrugged and responded, "Ehhh, I've got time. They won't want to see me until I'm 10-12 weeks along anyway, and then all their going to do is listen to the babies heart beat, tell me when I'm due (which I already know), and tell me to take prenatals (which I'm already doing)."
I had some things to think about, too. The midwife that I fell in love with and who delivered both Julian and Schroeder recently moved to Virginia. Plus, I gave birth less than ten months ago, and the intensity of an unmedicated labor is still fresh. I thought maybe I NEEDED an epidural this time. I sat at Steak 'n Shake on our trip to Indiana explaining to Stephen why an epidural might be emotionally necessary.
As the shock of being pregnant again has subsided, I've come to the conclusion that labor only lasts a couple of hours. I've handled it twice before, and I can do it again. So, I once again made an appointment at the San Antonio Birth.
My first appointment was this morning. Before I headed out, I got a call from my mother-in-law. As we were saying goodbye, she said, "Hey, let me know what they say, you know, when and who." I threw back my usual sassy reply, "Well, the when isn't going to change. I already know when I'm due."
Because besides being less eager, the other thing that has changed with each pregnancy is the confidence I have in my ability to understand my own body. I know when I'm due, not because I know the date of conception (I'm still trying to figure that out) but because I know when my last cycle was, I know how long my cycles normally are, I know when my morning sickness symptoms began and started to subside, and I know when my stomach started to firm up. I also know that my dates will be confirmed if I go to the doctor and they tell me, "Oh my, the top of uterus is only ___ below your belly button. That indicates at least 14-15 weeks."
"Yeah, have you noticed that my torso is half the size of a normal womans? Before this baby is born it will practically reach my chin!"
My 20 week ultrasounds aren't much better. They usually indicate the baby is at least 2 weeks further along than they are. According to Julian's ultrasound, he should have been born September 15th. His birthday is October 7th.
So this morning, I walked into the birth center and simply said, I'm due August 7th. Then I breathed a sigh of relief when the reaction was like, "Sure, your reasoning is sound, and, hey, we kind of have the approach that babies take as long as they take." I had made the right decision in going to a caregiver that honors my experience and knowledge of how my body works, and, yes, I will pay for it in labor pains.
I'm also vowing now that this pregnancy I will not get caught up in believing that a doctor's visit is going to give me more insight on when this baby will actually appear. See, around week 38 of my first pregnancy, I had a realization. I would head to the doctor's office each week hoping that something would indicate that this baby's delivery was imminent. Instead, I would leave in tears having been told two things. First, that I was heavier than I had ever been in my life. Yippee. Secondly, that according to my cervix, I was not going to have this baby anytime soon. These doctor's appointments were sure overrated! I fell into the trap again with Schroeder, when at only 37 weeks, the midwife identified that I was already several centimeters dilated. She happily said that she would be surprised if I went past 40 weeks. I began to hope beyond reason. I even blogged that my hope was that I would have a red haired girl on St. Patty's Day. I even bought a St. Patty's Day onesie in expectation. Well, my beautiful baby boy was born a mere 10 days later (for those who can't do the math, March 27th). He does have a tinge of red in his hair, and ,yep, he still wore that onesie I paid 5 hard earned dollars for.
I should have trusted my experience, and my body's signs which clearly indicated the last weekend in March. Had I done this, I would have saved myself one week full of grief.
That being said, I'm predicting that this baby will be born sometime on or around Friday, August 13th. Let's all hope that this San Antonio summer isn't as blazing hot as the last one.
So, unlike my sister, who have had their portrait taken about seven times now, I have not had an ultrasound. However, I plan to have one at the 18-20 week mark, and we intend to find out the sex. We didn't last time. We thought we would see what it was like to find out in the delivery room. That was before we knew that the delivery room would be our own bedroom. When Stephen said, "It's a boy." All I could think was, "Hi Holly (our midwife), I'm glad you could join us in time for this alien to shoot out of my body (She arrived with about three minutes to spare)."
So what am I hoping for this time around? Well, let's just say I'm refusing to come up with boys names until forced to, and when asked what we should refer to this baby as right now, my answer is "Uh...Maggie! :)" Don't worry, this baby will get loads of love one way or the other.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What a girl needs: Everyday China

Initially, this blog was simply to document the lives of my kids for those far away to read and feel close. In the last year or so, I've broadened the scope to include my thoughts and tips on being a mommy. I'm now broadening the scope further to include thoughts and tips on the job that pretty much goes hand in hand with being a mom; home maker. You may have an additional job on top of these two, and quite possibly your husband helps run the house. Still, it's a big job, and I think it's one that all of us struggle to balance with our other roles.
So think of blog posts that start with "What a girl needs" as my version of Oprah's favorite things. They will most likely be things that are helpful with raising kids or making a home, but, hey, maybe I'll throw in some things that don't apply to either.
Today, though, I'm telling everyone out there why you need "Everyday" china dinnerware. A few of my friends have registered for fine, occasion china when they were getting married, but I don't know anybody besides myself who registered for everyday china. Instead, all my friends have what I think most of us consider as more casual, more durable, more economical ceramic plates. Let me tell you why I don't believe any of these apply.
My mother-in-law had a set of everyday china that she just retired after 35+ years of use. When I got married she convinced me that china was the way to go. I registered for Noritake Ambience dinnerware in Charcoal. They are dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, and even freezer safe. In the last 7 years of almost continual, daily use (sans the 6 months we lived with our in-laws), not one plate, saucer, bowl, or mug has cracked, chipped, or broken.

The other day, one of my smaller plates fell on the floor due to some mishap involving the laptop cord and our dog. I thought for sure that I would have to go searching on one of those retired china warehouse websites, but, no, the plate remained intact.
So let me ask you, are your ceramic plates in pristine condition after that much time? China plates are not the delicate things we think about bringing out every year when we host Thanksgiving (and let's be honest, how many of us young moms host holidays on a yearly basis?), these are like the diamonds we where on our fingers that are continually exposed to dishwater and diapers; they can stand the test of life.
So unless you're afraid that you'll get sick of the same pattern after so many years, my suggestion is to invest (or register if not already married) for a set of "everyday" china.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thoughts on parenting: When are my kids old enough for ______?

Some of the timing of raising kids is mapped out. For example, the consensus is that children should either be formula fed or breastfed until a year of age. Kids normally potty train between 2-3.5. School typically starts around age 5. Drivers licenses are handed out at 16, and, of course, "adulthood" is reached at age 18.
There are thousands of other milestones that aren't so mapped out for us, though. Over the Christmas holidays, I was having a discussion with some mothers in Indiana, and I was sharing that on Saturday mornings my two oldest kids have a routine. First, they know not to get out of their room until 8am. Most of the time they aren't up before 8, but if they are, D'arcy knows how to read the clock to tell what time it is. At 8, they are allowed to get up, but we don't get up with them. They make their own breakfast, and, no, I don't mean they eat cold cereal. They'll each make themselves a packet of instant oatmeal, and D'arcy will stick them in the microwave and cook them. Sometimes, they'll have individually packed yogurts, or peanut butter and jelly tortillas. How do they spread the peanut butter? With a blue plastic knife that they have permission to use. The other moms got a laugh out of how much my kids do or are allowed to do on their own. None of them had kids quite as old as D'arcy, but it made me realize how much of a judgment call each of these steps of independence can be for parents.
For example, at what age can a child safely play out front without supervision? We live on a fairly slow neighborhood street, and so, at the age of 5, D'arcy is allowed to play out front on her own. She has specific boundaries that she is not to cross which she is great about adhering to. She'll climb "her" tree or ride her scooter outside. The problem begins when her three year old brother wants to join her. Although he understands that the street is off limits, I don't trust him to be out there on his own. However, can he be out there with his sister?
I'm not looking for advice here so don't feel prompted to leave your opinion on this question. I'm simply sharing that one of the things that I find most difficult about parenting is deciding what level of independence my child is ready for. Two generations ago, when my dad was little, most kids were released outside in the morning and were told to be back in time for dinner. I was listening to someone on NPR express how nowadays kids have very little to no time that isn't supervised which from my observations is pretty accurate. A lot of children's play is in an organized setting; playdates, organized sports, etc. Which ultimately means that in two generations, we have greatly altered the way we parent.
I'm trying to be aware of this change as I make decisions about what my kids are ready for, and in general, I lean towards giving independence versus over sheltering. One of the qualities that I praise in my kids is being teachable. If a kid is asking for independence in an area, they have to be willing to receive basic instruction on the topic first. If they remain patient and teachable during the instruction, I think it displays, in many cases, a readiness for independence.