Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year to Remember

With the turn of the year upon us, I cannot help but give all glory and thanks to God for such an incredible 2009.  It's unbelievable to me that about a year ago to date I was in the hospital with frightening complications with my pregnancy.  Four weeks of bed rest later I experienced one of the most emotionally-driven times in my life with Thomas in the NICU.  While we received excellent medical care, a 9-day stay in the hospital with a newborn was not ideal.  But 10 1/2 months later (since his birth), I chuckle quietly to myself that the primary problem keeping us at Provena was our son struggling to, how things have changed!  He's gone from a feeding tube to feeding himself all kinds of veggies, fruits, a little meat, graham crackers, Cheerios, and drinking water from a sippy cup like such a big boy.  He's crawling everywhere, spends his days exploring, reading, singing, playing, laughing, eating, and getting lavished with attention from his number one fan.

In many ways, I almost cannot remember life before having a family.  I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving to God for his miraculous gift and humbled by my calling to marriage and motherhood.  I'm in love with the most incredible man I have ever known and seem to fall more deeply in love with him daily.  Drake, it is because of your selflessness and sacrificing that I am able to be a stay at home mom and experience the beautiful gift of family.  I love you and thank God for you.

Enjoy a little photo tour of the Steed family in 2009!

5lbs 13oz 19in...and 6 weeks early!

Celebrating Irish heritage

All dressed up for Easter Sunday...and oh so sleepy.



Meeting new baby friends!

Mmm...solid food!

Mommy and Thomas swim lessons

Crunchy leaves

Playing guitar with Daddy

Family photo taken on a Thanksgiving trip to Dallas

Wishing you a most blessed 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Design Help

As you can see, we're in the process of revamping our blog, focusing mostly on the layout and overall theme/design.  I'm pretty new at all the formatting and everything, but I'm hoping to find a design that I like and is easy to use.  This current one is okay, but I'm not crazy about it, nor can I figure out how to format the fonts to give me more than Times New Roman-esqe choices.  Please feel free to comment with suggestions! Any websites you've found useful?  Do I need to download other programs?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holy Family, Pray for us!

Today is the feast of the Holy Family . They are our family's patrons. We end each prayer with an intercession prayer to the Holy Family, so naturally, yesterday, when we were at vigil mass and we discovered that it was our family's patron day, we REJOICED! Of course, we are still in the Christmas season, so there is plenty about which to rejoice, but here is a list of fun things we have done in order to celebrate our patron:

  • Go to mass
  • Pray the liturgy of the hours
  • Have special foods/drinks (try an "ailing turkey"--it's a hit with stay at home moms!) such as that, and tonight we are having some peppermint schnapps and macaroons while watching The Two Towers
  • Take a nap
  • Have fun tickle time with Thomas
  • Rest together
  • Have a nice meal
  • Find little ways to serve each other like doing simple chores and getting little presents
I'm sure there is more we could do to celebrate our patrons. Looking at that list, I feel good that those are simple things that we strive to do often, like tickle time with Thomas, have nice meals together (even if they are cupboard-cleaners!), and find little ways to serve each other.

Thank you for your prayers, patrons!

Holy family, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mary Mother of God, Pray for Us!

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception and is a big celebration in the Catholic Church!  If you have some time today, I'd recommend this article for your reading pleasure.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving in Texas

As I mentioned in my previous post, our family spent Thanksgiving in Dallas this year.  We spent the entire week with family, and it was nice for us to get away for a while and have somewhat of a vacation.  Uncle Tom and Aunt Jeanne were great hosts, and Thomas loved them!  It was good to introduce Thomas to Drake's dad's side of the family, and we were thankful to see them on a few occasions throughout the week.  He even met his great grandma who couldn't get enough of "that little cutie poo" as she described him :).  Not only was Thomas an angel on both plane rides, but he even slept pretty decently in a new place with new smells, new people, and in an unfamiliar bed.  It's too bad he won't remember the trip, but enjoy some photos below! 

Playing with Uncle Tom...who knew plastic food containers could be so much fun?

Hanging out with Aunt Jeanne

Meeting Grandpa Mickey...same expression...


Great Grandma Gerry, Thomas, and Drake

At the Dallas Turkey Trot...along with 50,000 others!

After the Turkey Trot

Clowning around with cousin Sara

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

We're leaving on a jet plane...

Our family is looking forward to Thanksgiving this year for many reasons, and one of them is a little vacation to Texas!  We're boarding a plane at 7:20am on Sunday to head to Dallas to visit some family, many of whom have never met Thomas.  It should be fun, though I admit I'm feeling a little anxious about the plane rides.  The last time I flew was to and from Costa Rica, and both ways I got terrible splitting headaches on the ascent and descent.  Oh, and this time we're traveling with a 9 month old :).  So please pray for our safe travels there and back.  I'll post with photos and a re-cap when we return!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grandparent Weekend

This past weekend we invited the grandparents to our place for a visit.  Grandma Eileen came on Saturday afternoon, and soon after we headed to the apple orchard in town.  While we didn't pick any apples, we did purchase some along with several other treats!   Thomas was hamming it up for the camera!

Actual height: 28 inches
Fun in the swing

Thomas and the goat having a money's on Thomas.

Grandma Eileen and Thomas

Thomas putting a quarter into the box to make the train take a few laps

Leaving the orchard...can't wait to come back!

Nana and Grandpa came the next day for Sunday morning brunch.  Thomas was pretty pleased especially after being fed pancakes!  Much smiling and giggling ensued, especially over some new toys and tons of attention from three grandparents.

Breakfast time!

Grandpa listening intently; Thomas stuffing his face

Peek-a-boo!  (Note: While it may look like a weapon on the wall and/or a strange object sticking out of Grandpa's neck, it's actually just a tie-back for our curtains).

This kid means business...future linebacker?

Thomas playing with Nana...and yes, by "playing" I mean "gnawing."  Obviously.

Goofing around with Grandpa

Thanks, grandparents, for a great weekend! :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hail Mary

Tonight we had our regular family adoration hour.  Drake and I handled things as per usual by each taking Thomas for 30 minutes so that we're each guaranteed at least 30 minutes to pray.  It's worked out quite well for the past several months, and often we get more than a half hour since Thomas seems to be pretty content to play with the toys we bring for him.  In any case, my "Thomas time" was different tonight.  He started to get a bit antsy, so I brought him over to a picture hanging in the adoration chapel.

For a visual image, click here

Literally the moment his eyes met hers, he smiled one of the biggest smiles I've ever seen.  And then he started to smile up at her for a few seconds, cuddle his face into my shoulder, and repeat this cycle over and over again.  He was so in awe of her, and it made me so very aware of God's presence in that moment.  He then started looking at other things in the chapel, so we retreated from the picture for a while.  We later returned, and again Thomas was overjoyed upon seeing Mary.  This time he started to look at the picture and then up at the monstrance.  This cycle, too, repeated itself again and again.

Thomas in his 9 months of life outside of the womb has taught me so much about life, love, and beauty.  Tonight he continued to teach me, and the lesson pointed me to Heaven in a way that differed from anything else.  I witnessed his complete joy upon spending a moment with our Mother.  I saw his eagerness to return to Her after spending some time away.  I observed the delight he so openly showed each time he looked at her.

And I could not help but examine my relationship with Mary.  I thought about how often I only turn to her in times of distress and despair.  My tendency is to plead for her intercession in the moment I need help...but then it seems that our conversation typically ceases.  As Catholics, we don't worship Mary, but we do honor her.  And rather than fostering this relationship as I would with a good friend, it tends to be on a more "as needed" need, that is.  You might be curious as to why this relationship is even worth my time.  In the midst of the busyness that is motherhood and family life, why would I want to intentionally nurture this relationship?

Well, I'll tell you.

There are some more obvious reasons as to why I might want to deepen this friendship.  Mary was a wife (check), a mother (check), and she loved our Lord (check).  She took care of the home, raised a child, cooked, cleaned.  But one thing that all too often differs from my own life to date is that Mary said, "yes."  She said "yes" even though she was unsure.  She said "yes" despite her fears, questions, and humanity.  She said "yes" because she was directly told by an angel what the will of God was for her.  This was also called her fiat, and this one agreement to comply with God's desire for her changed the course of humanity.

I nearly always desire my will over that of God.  I'm stubborn, set in my ways, selfish, and seek comforts.  There are infinite numbers of ways in which I say "no" to God and "yes" to myself.  And I've noticed that being around faithful people helps make me a better Catholic.  It helps me to (slowly but surely) unite myself more closely to Jesus and finally come around to seeing that His will for me is more intensely beautiful than anything I could wish for myself...if only I would say "yes."    

One of my Advent goals: to spend time with Mary each day to better prepare my heart for the birth of her Son on Christmas.

Help keep me accountable, would you? 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bath out, this is incredibly adorable!

Part of Thomas' morning routine is a bath after breakfast...and he just lives it up in the tub!  Enjoy!

Sometimes I'm convinced that Thomas could not possibly get any cuter...and then he does!  Happy baby=happy parents :)

Monday, November 9, 2009


Sometimes I find myself worrying.  Worrying that Thomas might be behind developmentally for the first few years because of his early entry into the world.  Worrying that I'm not doing things right as a parent.  Worrying about the fact that decisions I make might affect Thomas negatively.  Parenting is an incredible gift and a terrifying adventure.  And of course I know that this isn't just "I."  It's Drake and I, but it's also the Heavenly Host and I...and being a parent has taught me to rely more fully on the angels and saints, particularly in times of difficulty, frustration, and confusion.

When Thomas was born, an occupational therapist did some tests and found that Thomas was actually right on track despite missing out on 6 weeks of womb time.  But in the same breath she mentioned that he might be behind for the first two years of his life.  Up to this point, I've felt that Thomas was pretty much on target...he's been hitting milestones as he should be.  But as he approaches 9 months of age, I'm worried that he's not crawling.  He pushes up on his arms with no problem, but he seems to drag his butt on the ground instead of lifting it in the air.  I also feel like he's sometimes quick to give up when he's frustrated or can't get to where he'd like to go.  It's really hard as a parent...hard not only to see my son struggle but also hard to know exactly how to help him in a way that will enable him to thrive versus depend on things to be done for him, such as my moving a toy closer so that he doesn't need to reach or scoot toward it.  It's also humbling to see some 6 month olds at the library crawling around.  Sometimes it doesn't seem fair because I, like every parent, want the best for my child.  We parents all want our children to be ahead of the curve or at least be keeping up.

I've talked to many parents who have said their children were late crawlers...not crawling until 9 or 10 months, and some not really even ever getting up onto their knees at all.  One friend has a husband in medical school who recently learned that babies are hard-wired to reach milestones at a certain time so there's not a lot that parents can do to encourage it to happen any earlier.  I take some consolation in that.  But it admittedly doesn't make it any easier.  I don't want to fall back on the "excuse" that he's a preemie, though that is the reality of the situation.  Gestationally, Thomas is 7 1/2 months old with his chronological age being nearly 9 months.  And I realize that he's still within the "normal" limits for crawling.  And you know, maybe I need to worry much less about what other people think and focus more on areas in which Thomas is excelling.  With that said, I'm going to list some of the many incredible things about my son:

  • He is learning sign language really well - his face lights up when he sees signs for milk, eat, more, up, bath, all done, cereal, cracker, change, etc.  It's amazing to be able to communicate with him like this.
  • He sits up beautifully and plays independently.  He's starting to be able to interact a lot more with Drake and I.
  • This kid has the best belly laughs I've ever warms my heart to hear him crack up over silly things Drake and I do, not to mention the excitement that ensues over tickle time.
  • He's been wanting to put the spoon in his mouth by himself, and he has excellent aim!  He's been loving all sorts of different foods and has a new love for graham crackers.
  • He loves playing in his Jumperoo and Exersaucer.
  • He does a great job locating sounds and is very curious and alert.
  • He has an insanely cute reaction upon seeing a picture of have to see it to believe it.
  • He is cooing and babbling all the time...and buzzing his lips is a new favorite activity.
  • He's quite the little swimmer!
  • He recognizes the first few words to some of his favorite songs, including Wheels on the Bus, Patty Cake, and Itsy Bitsy Spider.
  • He easily transfers toys from one hand to the other and will even use both hands to support heavier toys.
  • He's recently started giving kisses...I love it so much that I typically leave the sloppy spot on my cheek until it dries instead of wiping it off.
  • His joyful personality is second to none.  
One of the biggest lessons I've learned as a parent is the importance of embracing the present moment and taking life one day at a time.  Time to relish in the now instead of worrying about the future.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

resting in my Father's arms

for some reason, Adoration tends to bring out the God the Father connection to me. grace and prayer connect me to my Father in Heaven; this connection enlightens me as a father and as a son.

tonight at Adoration, for a brief moment, i held thomas in the crook of my arm as he chewed on a cup. at that moment, we were both basking in our Father's care--i provided to him warmth, protection, safety, and love. simultaneously, i was reminded of our Father's similar loving touch, those grace-filled moments during which life makes complete sense and feels good. [praise God for having received good catechism enough to be aware of the infinite depth of the faith, much deeper than a "feeling" or "emotional bond" between me and the cosmos...that is for a different post.]

in previous Adoration experiences with thomas, i have been given similar graces upon observing fatherhood and Fatherhood. one observation is that i (lauren and i) provide everything for thomas-- his food, his clothes, his shelter, the love he receives, and, ultimately, his life. recognizing all i provide for thomas reminds me of the infinite generosity of our Lord. our Lord provides at the most basic level our lives. without our Lord's loving, generous gift of life, we would not be here. similarly, without our family's commitment to be open to life, thomas would not exist. i give thomas love, but our Lord offers His Love; more importantly, he has offered for us an invitation to the divine life through His Son, and consequently through His Church. i give thomas an apartment, and a room of his own. our Lord gives us graces to build virtues through His Sacraments to protect us from evil and bring us closer to Himself.

we love dressing thomas in fun clothes. let me be more clear: lauren absolutely can't get enough of dressing thomas in fun clothes. i kind of enjoy taking pictures of them. similarly, through grace we are given virtues like faith. i love in Ephesians when paul talks about clothing ourselves in faith--i believe the line is "put on the armor of Christ." this imagery reminds me of the spiritual battle in which we are taking part, and the importance of "gearing up." i am going to wear a cup when i play baseball: of course i'm going to wear something when engaging in spiritual warfare. that all comes down to prayer i suppose (a topic to be covered another time).

lauren and i feed thomas food--lately he has tried and enjoyed graham crackers and potatoes (no--not at the same time!). our Lord gives us spiritual food.

when i was in choir in high school, we had to do sight-reading exercises. we all hated these exercises as they diverted our attention from singing cool songs in parts and had to be sung in boring solfege. my choir director informed us we were "eating our vegetables." just like we eat vegetables to improve and maintain our health, so we sight-read to improve and maintain our musical abilities.

so it is with faith. every day, God gives us several "vegetable-eating" moments. Deuteronomy 30 talks about a choice we have each day, light or darkness, life or death: the writer urges: "choose life so that you and your descendants might live." more practically, we are given several opportunities throughout each day to choose life. "life" might be something more quantifiable like patience, understanding, right-judgment. read up on the fruits/gifts of the Holy Spirit and you might get the gist. when we practice virtues such as courage and hope, we are eating our spiritual food.

more importantly, God gives us His Son in the Eucharist each day. each day, we have an opportunity to partake in the Heavenly Banquet. more on the Eucharist in another post.

what a beautiful blessing to be given insights into Fatherhood, just by observing fatherhood. praise God!

Updates, Halloween, and Fall Fun

Well life has been hectic around here, but God has really blessed us in many ways too. Every weekend for the entirety of the Fall it seems have been filled with things to do, but we've been intentional about taking time for our family as well. And lately both Drake and I were pretty sick, but thankfully it didn't hit both of us at the same time...and Thomas managed to stay very healthy through it all!

We all just got the H1N1 vaccine too...we did a great deal of research, talked to lots of parents and doctors, etc., and we made an informed decision. It's a tricky parenting thing with these vaccines...there's no guarantee that our decision to have our family vaccinated was the "right" one. But in the end, it's the decision we made based on recommendations from health care professionals, our own research, and discussions between Drake and I about the pros and cons. So, what's done is done. And we hope and pray that we'll stay swine flu free!

Thomas had his first Halloween, and here are a few photos. Of course we didn't go out trick-or-treating (that will be more appealing next year when he can walk), but we did dress him up primarily to take pictures. We also went to a community event at the library. Neither Drake nor I are huge fans of Halloween, but we figured we should do our parental duty and dress up our son for the occasion.

The little calf...this was actually an outfit that someone gave us. It's not necessarily meant to be a costume, but I didn't really want to take Thomas out in cow print for anything other than Halloween! Next year we'll get a little more creative :)

Full body shot...

The ears on the hood were probably the best part of the cute!

That same day, we also had our second annual Steed family Thanksgiving! Last year Drake and I wanted to start some of our family traditions...and since we often travel for the holidays, we both wanted to make sure to set aside time for our family to celebrate together. We realized that our November weekends are all scheduled out already, so Thanksgiving on Halloween was our only option! Great fun (and food) was had by all...including our dear friend Steph Thomas! It was a tremendous blessing to have her with us for all the festivities of the weekend, though I must admit that in some ways it makes me miss her even more! She introduced us to a great new wine, brought over a movie that was surprisingly quite excellent, provided snacks, showed off her intense pumpkin carving skills, spent quality time with Thomas, and indulged my obsession with a Bubble Wrap game.

The next day we went out for some fun in the fall - a park about a 2 minute drive from our house is full of trees, and this time of year that means one thing...leaves! With the camera in tow, we spent time crunching in the leaves and enjoying the cool fall weather. I'm always happy about opportunities for Thomas to wear his cute winter hat, so that was a nice perk too! Enjoy a few pictures below...

Thomas flying high with Daddy

Thomas and Mommy...poor T was so tired!

Sitting in some leaves

Happy family

Fall has been a great time for our family so far...stay tuned for more Steed family adventures!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Lately I've been pretty inspired to "domesticate" myself...and maybe it's the result of all these money-saving mom blogs or maybe it's because we don't have a heck of a lot of extra money lying around. Or maybe it's a way that I can better embrace my role of being a stay-at-home mom (note: I'm not indicating that moms who don't bake, cloth diaper, eat out minimally, etc are not embracing their SAHM role...this is purely a way that helps me personally to do it). But whatever the reason, I've been tackling various household tasks that not only save us some money but also have admittedly been rather empowering!

My latest feat has been making a nursing cover...these things sell for $40 online, and that's ridiculous! I wanted to have one because I find them to be so much easier than using a blanket for nursing Thomas in public or when we have guests over and I don't want to lock myself in a room for 10 minutes. When my mom caught wind of my desire to start some sewing projects, she went out and bought me a sewing machine. I was shocked though quite thankful! After a week of struggling to thread the darn thing, I finally sat down with a woman at a local fabric store who coached me through it. And I'm happy to say that I've finished my first sewing project! Hopefully it's the first of many!

Drake and I just recently started using cloth wipes - cloth diapers have been working out incredibly well, so we wanted to try reusable wipes as well. I made a really easy solution of baby oil, baby wash, and water, and we're using wipes that my mom made for us. This just started yesterday, so we'll see if we can stick it out!

I've also been making Thomas' baby, unfortunately we don't have a garden, so I can't grow our own food...yet! But for now I'm settling for cashing in on produce deals at the Farmers Market or the grocery store, churning up chunks in our food processor, and storing it in ice cube trays in the freezer. It's been working out great! Thomas has tried lots of different foods so far -- green beans, avocado, pumpkin, peaches, nectarines, applesauce, carrots...and I feel good about giving him fresh food.

My adventures in the kitchen are slowly but surely improving. Even though I'll declare forever that my husband is a much better cook than I am, I've tried a few different dishes lately with some success. I cooked up hamburgers the other night and made the hamburger buns as well as the potato wedges. Last night I baked a fritatta from our leftover vegetables, adding my own spices (and cheese of course!). We also had homemade hash browns. While I still don't understand how I'm able to mess up crock pot recipes, I'll take whatever edible food I can scrounge up for our family. If God has a large family in mind for us, I need to get a heck of a lot more efficient in that kitchen!

I'm learning that timing is everything with regards to household tasks. Thomas' nap times are prime times for me to do things like sewing, cleaning, organizing. And even though I sometimes take those times for other things (like blogging :)) or catching up on phone calls, I'm learning how to fit in the daily tasks with raising a child. And I must say it's the best and most humbling job I've ever encountered.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Retreat Weekend...

So we're doing something this weekend that we've been wanting to do for a long time...we're going on an informal family retreat! Now, to be clear, we're not actually "going" anywhere. We're going to stay here in Urbana. We are simply going to take extra time this weekend for prayer, for receiving the sacraments (namely Confession and the Eucharist), and for nourishing our Catholic family life. And, as with any good retreat, we've got some tasty meals and snacks planned too :). So please pray for us if you think of it! Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"They are piles of love..."

Lately I've found myself feeling pretty defeated when it comes to housework - it seems that no matter how hard I try, there are just piles of stuff everywhere. Today I felt that literally everywhere I looked, I found something that could/should be cleaned, organized, or picked up. Everywhere!

I'm finding that one aspect of motherhood that I wasn't quite prepared for was the sheer difficulty of keeping things in order...I thought, heck! I'll be able to stay on top of everything when Thomas naps! Bahahaha. Famous last words.

I'm also realizing that my duties as a wife and mother entail doing tasks that aren't noticed if they are done but are more noticeable if they are NOT completed. When I've emptied the dishwasher and put all the dishes away, things are as they "should" be in the kitchen. But when I haven't had time to do that, and dishes are piled up all over, then that chore is noticed because there's a big mess and nothing to eat on. If I haven't had time to stuff Thomas' diapers, that job is noticed because we have to search around for a disposable diaper.

And so tonight I gave Drake an ear-full about my struggles as of late...and he reminded me of something really important: "You know, it's good that there are piles around here...if our place was perfectly put together but Thomas was constantly upset and unpredictable, then I'd be concerned. But the fact is that Thomas is so joyful and loved. So who cares about the piles? They are piles of love..."

Thank you, Drake - I love you!

Monday, September 7, 2009

39 Things Every Mom Should Know...

I came across this in Parent Magazine (my new favorite), and I found some of this advice to be not only funny but pretty practical as well. Thanks to author Kacy Faulconer!

1. You never have to go to the obnoxious kid-themed restaurants. Ever. I wish someone had told me that.

2. Don’t make birthday parties a huge deal.

3. Do your chores while the kids are awake. Using up naptime to wash dishes or clean the bathroom is truly soul-crushing.

4. Put Band-Aids on everything your kids want you to. Why not?

5. If the kids are awake, bit the bullet and be awake yourself. You’ll waste so many hours trying futilely to extend early morning snoozes that it’s not worth it. If you are sick, pregnant, or it’s the middle of the night, ignore this advice.

6. Just throw away the poopy underwear.

7. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to use a bribe.

8. Teach your kids not to pee outside unless you’re camping – you’ll be glad you did. But if other people’s kids do it, don’t judge the parents too harshly-it’s all about karma. (If you’re in the midst of potty training, all bets are off. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.)

9. Buy cheap shoes when kids are little. Feet grow faster than you think.

10. Don’t forget about board games. You’ll suffer through way too much Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, but Connect Four and Battleship aren’t half bad. And Clue rocks.

11. Embrace their quirks.

12. Know this: That stain won’t come out. And it’s okay. (The sooner you accept this, the better.)

13. At some point it will be February. Things will seem bleak. You will think about vitamins, glasses, more exercise, more sleep, more chores, less TV, more rules, fewer rules, and organic food. Just wait. Things will get better when the snow melts. Know that it will happen again at the end of summer, right before school starts. It’s the circle of life, baby.
14. Always get boys’ haircuts at barber shops instead of hair salons.

15. Answer this question: What is the worst thing that can happen if your kids sleep in their clothes?

16. Never stifle a generous inclination.

17. Try to like what they like. It kind of sucks when it’s Bob the Builder, but the payoff will come when they discover Lemony Snicket.

18. Teach them to pump on the swings ASAP.

19. If your child falls asleep occasionally without brushing her teeth, don’t wake her; baby teeth do eventually fall out.

20. I know you are supposed to use natural consequences to punish bad behavior, but sometimes it’s hard to think of natural consequences. In these cases try threatening your kids with clipping their toenails or some other activity they dread. I’ve had great success with this one, but you must find your own.

21. Get used to the word zerrissenheit. It means a state of disjointedness, and it’s the new normal for most of us. At least you can feel fancy because it’s German.

22. Buy kids deodorant before they need it.

23. Teach your children to make their own breakfast – and allow enough time so they can do it without pressure.

24. I can’t stress this enough: use duvet covers on your comforters and forget about a top sheet. Not only will you thank me for this advice, but your kids will thank me as well when they are learning to make their bed.

25. Remember clogging lessons are not in the best interest of the child.

26. Don’t administer a punishment that hurts you more than it hurts them.

27. Always pack wipes. If your kids go somewhere without you, send along wipes. It’s like having a mom with them.

28. Do not allow the word wienies in your home.

29. Dress your little girls, well, like little girls.

30. Make sure your kids know how they like their eggs and burgers cooked. You don’t want them to feel stress when ordering dinner.

31. It’s fine to brag about yourself to your kids.

32. Buy quaint wooden toys and hand-knit stuffed animals, but don’t expect your kids to play with them.

33. Just say “no” to a toy or doll that comes with packets that have to be mixed with water.

34. Teach them to like cool music. Why suffer through The Wiggles when you could be enjoying Wilco or counting along with Feist?

35. Don’t buy the most expensive school-picture package. It’s a waste of money.

36. Give out awards for actual achievements.

37. You’re never too old to dress up and decorate your house for Halloween. And it’s more fun for everyone if you are into it. It also entitles you to more candy.

38. If the school year, new babysitter, or karate class gets off to a rocky start, don’t totally stress out about it. Instead, think of the improvement that can be made by the end of the year.

39. Independence is a wonderful thing. For everyone. So is together time. Make sure you have a healthy dose of both.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A quick weekend-recap...

We practiced sitting up and began planting seeds of musicianship...

We visited our good friends Kate, Andrew, and their new baby James Carlisle...and we couldn't get over the fact that Thomas used to be much smaller than that!

We had a little too much fun at the Sweet Corn Festival as Thomas fell asleep in the baby carrier...

We actually hit up the festival twice this weekend...everyone's looking a bit more chipper for this photo...

We spent time with our dear friends Erin, Henry, and Will...Will was living the high life devouring some tasty corn in his trendy red stroller.

Other notable items: We discovered this weekend that Lauren has a knack for making lasagnas as she made three within and hour or so; Drake's going to have a mean jump-shot this season if he continues to practice basketball as much as he has been lately; and Thomas seems to love oatmeal even more than rice cereal...yum!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Taste of Fall...

Thomas driving the Cool Bus...

Debi, me, T-man, and Adam...

Happy (though squinty!) parents, serious baby...

Ok, so for some reason I can't get text to be above the below will have to do for now. This past weekend was filled with fun fall-like festivities (how's that for alliteration?), and it made me really excited for the cooler weather months to come. Saturday morning we spent some time at Portrait Innovations getting some 6-month photos taken of Thomas...and he was such a little ham! It was really fun, and he did a great job despite all the different posing and positioning. We got some really cute prints, and I can't wait to put them up around the apartment. That afternoon we headed to Curtis Apple Orchard with Adam and was so much fun, and we got some great baking apples. I'm excited to find time to spend with my Kitchen Aide mixer in hopes of producing some tasty treats! The three photos above were taken that afternoon...that certainly was not our only trip to the orchard...I'm sure we'll be going several more times in the upcoming months!

Sunday morning was spent at mass of course, and Drake cooked up a delicious brunch for us when we returned home. We then split up for a few hours...Drake worked on some things around the apartment (including putting all of our books on our newly painted bookshelves...they look awesome, and I was admittedly pretty proud of one of our first DIY projects!), and I took Thomas to go run some errands. When I returned home, I checked the mail because I hadn't done that the previous day...we received a letter from Provena Hospital with the final decision on our application. (A quick re-cap: we had 3 accounts going with them and owed several thousands of dollars even after insurance...after talking with one of their reps, I decided to fill out an application to see if they would help us with any of the costs). Our accounts had been on a "freeze" until a decision was made...and as it turns out...we owe them $0. Zero. Zilch. Nada. They've covered ALL of our expenses. I was in COMPLETE shock, and I'm overwhelmed with thankgiving to God for this. I really feel that God has blessed our openness to life in so many beautiful ways - it's an unbelievable blessing to say the least.

Later that afternoon, we headed to Monticello for a softball was good to spend time with families and hang out with some of the other kiddos. It was a bummer that Drake had to miss the very last game of the season, but he's looking forward to basketball with the St. Matt's dads this fall!

Here's hoping we'll have more fun adventures in the cool autumn days ahead!