Friday, February 27, 2009

Bring It: Cake-making advice

So I like asking for advice. It's so helpful! All these people with lots of experience tell you what they did and how it worked! It's like conducting an experiment without the test tubes. So I think I'd like to make "Bring It" a regular occurrence. I'm getting ready to put all of your potty training advice (from the last edition of Bring It) into practice this weekend. We've cleared our schedule, and we're going to focus on potty training (not force it, this girl has been BEGGING me to wear panties and sit on the potty, I just haven't had the time to focus on it). So we'll see how this weekend goes and evaluate on Monday.

So. Cake-making. A certain baby that I know has a first birthday coming up. I know, I can't believe it either. And for the whole 2 birthdays that I have previously navigated as a mom, I've bought cakes. The first one, my mom ordered with Katy's baby picture on it. The second one, I had an acquaintance make a Dora cake, which was gorgeous, but not delicious. So I was thinking, since we're not doing a big party (if those of you who are normally invited to our birthday bashes are wondering - we're taking a break this time), the cake would be something special and memorable that I could do for him. Actually, maybe for all my kids' birthdays from now on?

But here's the problem: I don't have a clue. Those of you who know me know that I'm no Martha. And the extent of my cake-making history is the Cake-Mix Doctor, or drawing a Block O on Brian's cake one time. (Brian always teases me about this cake because we weren't even dating when I made it for him. He says I was smitten.)

So is making an interesting birthday cake out of my league? Any ideas as to where to start? Is it really hard to cut the cake and make a new shape and ice it? Oh, man. I hope I don't have expectations too high.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Glimmer of Hope

It's been 50 here the past couple of days, and it may as well have been 80!

That's Thursday Kate and Baby Frank. Oh, that hat!!

It's a sign of desperate times when this weather seems so glorious. Come, spring, come!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To preschool, or not to preschool?

A few have asked me to explain how we came to the decision about preschool for Katy next year, especially since I said that it was a tough one. I wasn't going to write about it, but now that we've made a decision, I think it would be good to get the thought process down.

It's so funny, the whole preschool discussion. Some people just assume that the moment your kid turns 3, of COURSE you will send them to preschool, as if that's when school starts, like kindergarten. In fact, in the MOMS Club where I belong, I'd say about half of the kids go to pre-preschool, which starts at 18months. And the families who do it absolutely love it. Other moms that I know are more like, "why would I pay to send my kid to learn shapes and colors when I am here at home and available to teach them?" which is also a good point. Then those of you working moms whose kids have been essentially going to full-time preschool since they were babies are probably thinking, "What is the big deal? It's 2 mornings a week?" So I've spent the last month trying to figure out where our family is on the continuum.

I have to admit: it feels like a big deal. I know it's only a few hours a week, but it just seems so HUGE. I think mostly because this signifies the start of it all. Every year from now until they're 18 (or 22?), we'll be in one way or another making a decision about where they will receive their education. Of course, I hope that we'll find our niche and won't be changing every year, but still. This marks the beginning of Education Decisions. Which rank right up there with Work/Stay-at-home Decisions.

I think I could best summarize this decision for our family in a list of pros and cons (hmmm...maybe we should've done this when we were actually deciding?):


*I know with certainty that Katy will LOVE it. She loves structured activity (begs me for it all day), loves other kids, and just thrives in that type of environment. She's actually already asking to go to school.

*I think it will be good for her development to do activities in a group setting, learn how to function as part of a group, and participate in lessons that are way over my creative threshold.

*I think we will both enjoy a couple of short breaks from one another each week. (So we can be happily reunited!)

*It will give me some time alone with David (both for the purpose of hanging out with him and for the purpose of running errands with just one kid).

*This is definitely a secondary benefit, but I hope that it will be a good way to get settled into a new community after moving. The preschool we decided on has an active parent association, and I am excited to get to know other parents in the new area of town.


*Cost. It's no drop in the bucket, and in this economy... (isn't that the tag line these days?)

*I have to let go a little bit. After being completely in our care for 3 years, I have to trust someone else (actually lots of "elses") to have so much influence on her. It's hard to imagine how there will be this part of her week that I won't know about. That she'll have experiences that I'm not there for. I know this has to happen eventually, but the big question is When? I think Kelsey summarized this back when her daughter started preschool.

*The schedule. Everyone I know who has kids in preschool seems to have a lot of trouble scheduling everything else. But on the other hand, the weeks might have a nice rhythm to them.

So after all of that, when we really considered all of these things, we decided that we want to send her. Now this did not even direct us to WHERE. That was another whole dicussion. (Structured or loose? Consecutive days or non? In a church or in a school? 2 days or 3?) But I toured a place where it just felt right, and we took the plunge. Of course, if it doesn't go well, we can always pull her out, but I don't see that happening. Good luck to several of you who I know are considering this same decision right now! We're all just trying to do what we think is the best for our families, right? What else can we do?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Really Happening

So it's official. We're moving.

I mentioned last summer that we were seriously considering moving, and I haven't talked much about it here since. But it's been highly discussed in this household, and yesterday we crossed a big road: a group of (hopefully responsible) guys signed a lease to live in this half of our duplex as of September 1st. So legally speaking, we've gotta get out of dodge by that date.

I talked about the pros and cons on this post, and they are still pretty accurate. Overall though, I am excited to move and I think it's the right decision for our family. The upcoming process of making it all happen is overwhelming, but it'll work out. And hopefully we won't have to do it again for awhile.

Another thing that is making this feel more like a reality is that earlier this week I mailed in a registration form for Katy to attend preschool next fall. I cannot tell you how I agonized over this decision (even though it was both Brian's and mine to make). I was having some serious heart struggles with the whole thing. But we did it, and we picked a place that is up in the area where we plan to move. So without knowing the area super-well, we researched it and picked a school that I hope will be a positive experience for her. *sigh* This could (and will be) another post.

So I guess this begins what I'm sure will be a string of OMG-WE'RE-MOVING!-related posts. Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Trip to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum: a Pictorial

Oma and Opa's house: Tour of Toys

We're visiting my mom and Greg, which is always a trip down the memory lane of toys.

This John Deere tractor is the first thing Katy talks about when we mention Oma's house. Look who's big enough to ride it this time!

This was my sister's doll, Jonathan, wearing a Reds outfit that my dad put on her when she was a baby. And my grandmother crocheted that blanket. Classic.

Funny story: when we decided to name her Kathryn, I didn't imagine that we would call her Katy. Brian started referring to her as Katy while I was still pregnant, and after she was born, it just stuck. I secretly hope that she uses the name Kathryn someday, because I think it's so pretty. This was pretty funny, though, because we kept telling her that this puzzle spelled her name, Kathryn, and she would insist, "NO! My name is Katy!!"

Do you remember how Cabage Patch Kids came out with these? They're like Cabage Patch pets? Isn't this the ugliest thing you've ever seen? And I apparently ordered a personalized nametag for him: Caramel.

My sister Melanie got this for her third birthday, I was 11. I remember actually fighting with her over it (I know, real mature, to fight with a 3 year old) because I thought it was SO fun.

Oh, how I loved this game. Especially on long road trips.

This is my precious Dumbo, who my great-grandmother made for me when I was little. I carried him everywhere, and when I was 3, my mom had a garage sale and someone tried to buy him, right out of my hands! No can do, bucko! This elephant is NOT for sale!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"New" technology that works

I realize that for many of you, this will be old news. But. If you have small children and out of town relatives, you MUST try using a webcam. We've just gotten into it, and it's really amazing.

When Brian first mentioned the idea, I assumed it would be crazy expensive or complicated. But no! You can get webcams that plug into your computer for as little as $30. And then the service that we use, Skype, is completely free. So for Christmas, we gave webcams to all of the grandparents, and now Katy talks to the Grand generation "on the ca-cuter" every week.

We hadn't had much luck getting Katy to talk on the phone to anyone. She would just nod and be completely silent. And at first, she was a little confused about the webcam, too. But after a few tries, she's got it! Now she loves it, and it has been really neat. Grammy got to see Katy wake up after the first night in her big girl bed (our webcam is on our laptop, so we can take it anywhere in the house), Grandpa and Grandma Sue give good night kisses, and here she is playing a letter game with Oma on her V-tech:

So in 20 years I'll probably read this post and roll my eyes at how hip I thought it was to use a webcam, but there you go! That's my product recommendation for the year.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Sickness update:

David had his first cold when he was just weeks old, and he has tended to have lots of respiratory infections these first 10 months. He has also been somewhat wheezy several times during these colds, but I've always hesitated to take him to the doctor, not confident that it truly was wheezing. But over the weekend, I encountered wheezing that I was certain constituted a trip to the office. He was concerned, and gave him a breathing treatment and sent him home with a nebulizer. I know that this is not uncommon, but I feel like this is unchartered territory for me. The most concerning thing is that the pediatrician said that we will keep an eye on it over the next year, and that if he continues in this pattern, he may have asthma. We don't have any family history of asthma, and hopefully that will not be the case, but I am completely unfamiliar with the condition. What does it mean if he has it? I know I can google it, but we all know where that leads: unnecessary freak-out. So any personal experience to share?

Katy quote update:

*She just realized what it means to say, "My name is Katy. Jack's name is Jack. Aunt Mel's name is Aunt Mel." So Brian asked her, "What is Mommy's name?" and she said, "Mommy." So he asked, "Yes, but what does Daddy call her?" She replied, "On the phone."

*She's also getting in touch with her emotions. One of her most frequent uses is to say, "I'm sad." Sometimes she really is sad (crying that she has to take a nap, etc), and sometimes she is saying it because she recognizes that it grabs our attention: "I want cookies, Mommy, because I'm sad!" The other night she woke up crying as if she had had a bad dream, and I was trying to calm her down. After a few minutes, she was still crying, and she told me, "Mommy, I'm still sad."

Cuteness update:

David has learned to give kisses. It is absolutely the sweetest thing in my life right now. If I need a pick me up, I put my baby boy up to my face and pucker up, and he leans in with big open mouth and lots of drool. It's perfect.

The other day he was sitting across the room from me and Brian put him on the floor, he started saying, "Mamamama" and crawled right to me and wanted picked up. That's the first time I've thought maybe he was meaning me. He also waves bye-bye and says "dye".

Big Girl bed update:

Katy's doing pretty well in her bed at night. She falls asleep fairly quickly and doesn't get up except to run and get a doll and climb right back into bed. Naps have been a little more of a struggle. She gets up more easily, and then she keeps waking up after a short period screaming and cranky, obviously not getting the sleep that she needs. I'm really hoping that this is an adjustment period that will work itself out. I need her to nap so I can do my job (let alone maintain my sanity).

Monday, February 02, 2009

Funny (and not-so) Katy-isms

Lately Katy has been busting me right UP, and I feel this frantic need to record some of the things that she says. I know that in a couple of years I will look back and say, "Oh, she was so funny...what was it she used to say?" So even if just for posterity...

**Katy started calling various people "my friend," as in "Let's go see my friend Jack," or "That's my friend Brooklyn's house!" One evening after I had left to go to the grocery store, she asked Brian, "Where'd my friend Mommy go?"

**She also has 2 phrases that end many of her sentences: "I fink" and "or someping." For example, "We go to music class today, I fink." Also, "I wanna do my princess puzzle or someping."

**Nobody likes to hear a baby cry, especially when you're strapped into a car seat right next to the culprit, with limited emotional resources to deal with it. So every time David makes a squawk in the car, Katy screams at the top of her lungs until he stops. If he stops for 10 seconds to catch his breath, she stops, but as soon as he starts, she's screaming. This makes for some fun car rides.

**To cut down on the all-day whining for snacks and videos, we've made a chart to help Katy keep track of whether she can have these things. (She gets one morning snack, one video, one bear-shaped vitamin, and one healthy snack per day, marked off with stickers). She's gotten so accustomed to my reminding her to check her chart when she asks for something, now she says, "Mommy, I'm going to ask my chart if I can have a video," and goes running into the kitchen to see.

**One day when our friend Brett was here, Katy coerced him into a letter-finding game, in which he would request a letter of the alphabet, and she would retrieve the appropriate letter magnet from the refrigerator. After a few rounds of this, Brett said, "Good job, Katy! Did your Mommy teach you the letters?" She did not hesitate to reply, "NO! I learned them on my video!"
**While Katy is working on puzzles (a very favorite activity), she picks up every piece and says, "OH! I found a good one!"
**If we ever wonder what we sound like as Katy's parents, all we have to do is listen to her talk to Blankie up in her room. She takes Blankie through all the routines, with verbal instructions: "Now Blankie, this is your big girl bed. After we say our prayers, you lay down and go to sleep. And you do NOT GET UP."
**There are two things in this world that Katy cannot get enough of: swimming and music. As for music, she has her favorite CD's (which I am working on getting onto my new iPod), but there is one song that she sings louder and with more joy than all the others. It's from a worship CD for kids that my mom gave us, and of course Katy's favorite part is the incessant LaLa's.
**Finally, I have a little video. This will make a lot more sense if you know Laurie Berkner's My Energy. And I feel incredibly guilty that you can hear David crying in the background. I don't usually ignore my son, but I was so excited that Katy was finally singing for the camera!