Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What's Happenin'

I have only blogged twice in the last two weeks. There is a reason. I have been reading, writing, and prepping for my next 31 day series and I am super excited about it. I have put some emotional blood, sweat, and tears into this thing. I'm a little nervous though and I am hesitant to go an entire month without my typical journalistic lifestyle blogging that I usually do. For now let me just give you a little freeze frame of what each of us are doing so that I feel relatively caught up on updates for the messy clan.

First of all, I'm keeping busy with some photography work, along with volunteer work at the kid's schools, and I already mentioned the writing.

J is still leading worship in Indiana and he is going to school on campus this semester. I have been helping him with his speech class. Most of what he does is computer programming classes and for that I pack him a lunch and give him a kiss on his way out the door. That stuff is way out of my league, but writing speeches I can do. Did I ever mention he made the Dean's List for his first two semesters? It's been a ton of hard work, but I am very proud of him! Only one year left. Ahhhh!

Z is going through some stuff at school right now. All is well as far as grades and studies, but he has been testing the waters behaviorally. I am hoping the strategies we've implemented and the prayers I pray non stop will make a difference! He's getting to the age where I am not sure what is appropriate to share on the blog. I would never want to embarrass him, but I also like to be candid with my readers and myself, admitting when times are tough. Cub Scouts is going well. He is doing a fund raiser right now where he has to sell popcorn. I might as well throw the link out there because we are way behind on sales. Boy Scouts popcorn does not "fly off the shelves" like Girl Scout cookies do. I am learning that the hard way. If you want to check out his store it's available HERE.

SJ has started talking a bit more. We are at a place now where we can communicate our everyday needs to each other pretty well. It's still hard though when there are so many things she wants to say, but I just don't understand her. She's going through a serious daddy stage. She asks about him and talks about him a lot which is not typical for her, but it's sweet. One time I asked if she wanted to call daddy and she said yes. I was hesitant because she doesn't have the device that syncs her processors with the phone and of course she doesn't hear with her ear canals like we do so I was just hoping speaker phone would suffice, and it did. It was a successful first time phone conversation (aside from face time which doesn't count because it's visual). Another exciting milestone.

 Ezie turns two TOMORROW! He's talking, signing, and singing a lot more. The other day he starting to sing "outside, going outside, it's an outside kind of day", which is a song from signing time. The thing that struck me was that I have heard him sing with songs or initiate singing songs that we have sung before and listen to a lot. This was a song I had to think about before I even knew what it was because I had heard it so few times, but he had obviously remembered it and was reciting it! He gets mistaken as a girl often enough that I will probably cut off his lovely baby curls soon, but it's not easy. I don't even want to think about it. With my other two I was pregnant before their second birthday so I was a little more willing to let go of the baby stage. I'll get there though. He makes it easier with how independent he is!

There are a lot of other things happening, but that's the skinny. Tomorrow is the big day. My 31 day series will be live, and you'll be hearing from me a lot! Just not like this. I hope everyone has had a wonderful September. Here's to a new season!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Taking Pictures Alone VS. Taking Pictures With Children

Getting a great photo of a your children is a feat in and of itself. Getting a photo with your children takes olympic level skills! I just finished having family photos done with me, my husband, and our three children. As a photographer that has been in this situation behind the lens countless times you would think I would have it all together, but it's different when it's your own family.

I remember the days when I would take selfies for my myspace (yeah, it was a long time ago). Or my husband would snap a photo of me in the park out on a date. 

Here was the scene-

I think this light and this background right here would be good for a photo. I think I'll stand here and hold this pose. Am I smiling too big or not big enough? Do you think this is my good side? Okay, eyebrows slightly raised, tummy sucked in, shoulders back, body tilted ever so slightly.

Then I look at the photo and see that my hair was sticking up in one place, or my shirt wasn't laying flat. Oh MY! Taking a good photo is hard work. Let's reshoot that again and again until I love the way I look.

Now let's look at yesterday's scene.

I think this light and this background is perfect, let's pray that our children will miraculously stand here and look in the same direction for 10 seconds so that we can take a photo.

Okay, guys we are going to stand right here. No? Okay, let's stand over here where baby Ezie is. No wait! Baby Ezie come back. Do you want to go on daddy's shoulders? But you love daddy's shoulders. Fine, let's all sit. On the count of three say "Chuck E. Cheeeese"  Keep your shirt down sweetie. HEY! Do not pull your sister's pony tail! Seriously, every one look at the camera. NO, don't point at it, just look. And smile. Not like that, that looks like the Joker. Come on!  Alright, where is your sister? I think we lost her. Oh, there she is running toward that poison ivy.  Stop! Stop now! Hold onto my hand. Is this everyone? How about standing by this tree stump here. Hello? Is there anyone in this family that knows what a tree stump is? Stop pushing. If you don't cut it out right now you might not see Mine Craft ever again! No. Don't cry. We want happy photos. Fine, who wants candy? How much candy is this going to take? Ewww, gross. What is that smell? I think someone stepped in dog poo. Let's check your shoes everyone. Bingo. Alright, try and wipe it off in the leaves over there. Goodness gracious! Moving on...

Not once did I ever think about my shoulders or my hair. There is no checking the preview to see how I look. No "place all your weight on your back foot" rule. Nope. If we have a photo of the 5 of us together where no one is crying or injuring someone then it's a keeper. You don't even have to have your eyes open. I went from having a 20 point checklist for how I looked in a photograph to just one qualification. Do I look sane? Even that is debatable. 


For the record out of probably 200 tries we were able to get one decent photo. 

It was sent out with our Christmas cards and after all that effort I can assure I will have it hanging on our wall. So if my family can do it, there is hope for everyone. Just say Chuck E. Cheese!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Winning at Weaning

Today Ezie is officially one week breast milk sober. It hasn't been easy, but on the other hand it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a lot of reasons that I chose to nurse Ezie until he was two. Well, technically he hasn't turned two yet, but I wanted to schedule the weaning for a time that I knew we didn't have a lot of other obligations because I figured we were in for some sleeplessness nights, and I was right. 

First off, I feel bad for anyone that has to sit through any of Ezie's milestone stories because I will inevitably share that story in light of the way it happened with my other two children. In this case Z was weened at about 16 months. I knew we were down to very few feedings and when we spent the night at his cousins house one day he was so busy and tired that he just went all day and night without wanting to nurse. When he woke the next day I realized it had been over 24 hours and I wasn't about to turn back. He probably would have continued to nurse if I had planned to, but I never offered it again. It was kind of child-led. Then I breast fed SJ until she was a little over a year. She never cared about nursing though. Unlike her brothers she was very practical about the whole thing. If she was hurt or upset I would often try to feed her to calm her down, except she would just push away and give me this confused baby look like I am not hungry, I am hurt. Totally opposite of her bros. However, she did have a pacifier and when we took that away just before her 2nd birthday she had 3 days of hardcore rehab. There was thrashing and screaming throughout the night, but by the end of day 3 it was like she was completely detoxed. I figured it would be the same if not worse for Ezie, because I have been his "pacifier" for 2 years and I can't exactly removed myself from the situation like I could with a binky. 

The first night he was pretty upset about not getting his "night night milk" as he calls it. The next day he was so exhausted from not getting any sleep that he fell asleep on the way to drop his siblings off at school. He stayed asleep when I took him out at the grocery store. I decided to put him in the Ergo and he continued to sleep the whole time I shopped no matter how much movement, squatting down and bending over him that I did he was just out! 

It's got a little easier each day and once again it only took about 3 days for him to forget about it. However he still wakes up in the middle of the night and he's had some nights were I couldn't get him back to sleep for the longest time. I no longer have a magic potion, but I know he'll adjust.  

I did a lot of research online before attempting to tackle this transition and for me the thing I found to be most effective was trying not to trigger his urge to nurse. This meant high collared shirts with layers if necessary and even crossing my arms if I was laying next to him. I also had to stand up with him a lot because sometimes laying down and cuddling was just too difficult, as you can imagine. Lastly, because "night night milk" was what we always referred to as I had to pull every synonym for night night out of my mental thesaurus and use a lot of words that could be calming and get him ready for bed, but distract him from what that used to mean. For example 

"Let's go to BED, and lay down with an animal, and pillow, and blanket" 
"It's time to go to SLEEP"
"Are you ready to shut your eyes? Do you hear the music? Are you tired?" 

 So, that's my experience and advice for anyone that is in a similar boat where maybe you lay down with your baby/toddler and nurse them to sleep. It's been bitter sweet for sure. Sometimes it's hard to let go of the familiar and step into new seasons,  but I am definitely relieved to have it over with. Next up potty training. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Back before the American What Not to Wear there was a British version with Trinny and Sussanah. Maybe you remember it? Those girls were great at fashion advice, but one thing they said that I have never forgotten is that they disapproved of shorts. For any occasion or tempeture. No shorts. Ever. Gasp.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't love shorts. Shorts mean I have to shave, or that I have to look at girls/women wearing too short of shorts and try not to stare at their butts. I don't want to see a 16 year olds cheeks hanging out, but it's like someone with a weird birth mark on their face or something. You try hard not to look at it, but it has magnetic power over your eyes! So frustrating. Anyway back to Trinny and Sussanah, I can get why shorts might seem inappropriate for some, but I look at it the same way fellow blogger Amy feels about ceiling fans. Fine for HGTV to be anti-fan , not fine for a family living in Houston trying to keep utilities down. 

Today is a shorts day for me because where I live in Ohio it is a high of 86, but it looks like we may have cold front coming through. Bring on the fall! Until then here is a selection of shorts from my closet.It turns out every pair of shorts that I own are from thrift stores! I probably bought all of my summer bottoms for less than what I would have spent on one pair off the rack. Yippee.

First of all the cut off shorts. You have got to love the thriftiness of repurposing old pants. 

Actually, these were already cut off when I found them at a vintage shop in Lousiville. They couldn't be any more comfortable and yes it is perfectly acceptable to tuck a shirt in without a belt, I read it in a magazine. 

In keeping with the grunge theme, I also have a pair of ripped up shorts. Also very comfortable. 

Now let's get a little more formal with my dress-pants-shorts (oxymoron?). 

They are a little more risqué than what I wear for my day and night job (mother hood), but they make shorts look chic, unless you wear them with brightly colored underwear. That changes everything. Both of these photos were taken on dates with my husband.

Like I said, I have a few other pair like khakis of all colors, but that's what I have photos of. I don't plan on doing a What I Wore Wednesday on a regular basis, but I did want to sneak in some of these summer favorites before it's strictly cardigans and boots. I get giddy just thinking about it. For me it's the most wonderful time of the year.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

The 7th Birthday

When we Z was 6 he learned to tie his shoes, snap, and he memorized the state capitols. But  it was a week ago just before he turned 7 that I understood just how much of a transformative year this has been. We were at one of Cincinnati's acclaimed chili parlors when when Z said "Mom I did it". "What did you do?" I asked him. "I asked that lady for more chocolate milk and she gave me some". I was really impressed and asked for his exact wording, he said "May I have more chocolate milk please". I smiled and praised him for his ability to take initiative independently and use manners. It was the first time he had ever asked for his own refill.

Now this wasn't one of those tangible milestones where you get an award or take photos. I didn't jump out of my seat to go give him a hug. It was just a subtle choice that really stood out to me. I didn't tell him he needed to handle his own refill. I didn't ridicule him for not speaking up as I am embarrassed to say that I have done in the past. I didn't coach him through any of it. He had a need and he took care of it. It's such a simple act, but so big. He is on his way to becoming a young man. It's like watching plants grow in a garden. You don't see them shoot up, but you know it's happening and suddenly it's blossomed. I can't put my finger on many measurable stats for Z from this past year, but I know a lot of change has taken place.

As far as the actual birthday, it was a winner.

I do what I call Theme Parties every other year so this year was an off year and we just met up with two other families at Chuck E. Cheese on Monday since it was a holiday. It was very low key, but he got a scooter and helmet which was his biggest surprise.


On the actual birthday date he got to have his name on the intercom announcement at school. It was kind of funny because he asked me if I heard it (I was miles away at home during the announcements and he thought the news was broadcast throughout the city). It was also the same day as a cub scouts sign up meeting so J took Z and they signed up. Even though it was a last minute decision I think it will be a great program for Z to be a part of.

Friday was the school carnival which he has been more excited about then his actual birthday.

Lastly, he had his first pack meeting where they did a service act for the community by cleaning up the school grounds the morning after the carnival.

Followed by an outing at the lake where there was fishing and fun for all.

TIt was a typical week for us in a lot of ways, but it was Z's week and I am so glad. He deserved some special attention. He is my special boy.

Friday, September 5, 2014

That's What Z Said

As a follow up to "4 Year Old Funnies" and "Laugh-out-loud conversations with Z" I am pleased to announce the third installment of quotes from my oldest son that made me smile last year. His mix ups have matured as he has grown. At the age of six he definitely has a deeper understanding of things, but there are a lot of words that he has started using that he may not be entirely sure of the meaning yet. It makes for a good laugh.

1.  Z was trying to get out of eating the meal I had served and using every distraction possible he started telling me how much he loved me and I said Show me you love me by finishing your dinner and he replied "I don't think that's love. I think that's generous"

2. Me: I've had enough! You guys have got to quit fighting. I mean it!!!
     Z: Mom, are you going to obliterate us? 

3. Z to his baby brother "Ezie, you sure are a keeper today" 

Which is nice, but let's hope that he's a keeper tomorrow too. 

4. Me: Why are you eating a cookie before dinner!? 
     Z: Because I am unpredictable. 

5. After Z overheard me talking about my Toyota he approached me with a look of astonishment and said "I didn't know that you had a Toy Yoda! Can I see it!? 

6. After Z spent quite some time texting his dad back and forth J had to get back to his online classes. Z continued to text and was genuinely concerned when he didn't get a response.

7. Something I overheard at the playground. I will spell it the way he said it to give the full effect, but for the record Z has eczema

Little boy: Do you have asthma? 
Z: No, it's eggs-ma
Little boy: Oh

8. Z thinking out loud in the car says "I wish I were a Peregrine Falcon". Then a few seconds later, I am assuming after he imagined what life would be like he added "That could play the wii". 

Yes, that would be the ultimate life. 

9. One of our favorite holidays- Thanks Given

10. Lastly, as seen on Facebook 

We had our first appointment with a new Doctor and they have to ask all kinds of routine questions and Z wanted to chime in on ALL of them! I could go on and on, but here is just one example:
Nurse (to me): Do you have any relationships where you have been threatened?
Me: No.
Z: Yes, you have. 
Me: Z what are you talking about!?
Z: I have threatened you, but you told me I'm not allowed.
Me: You mean when you say something like "I am not going to go to bed if you don't let me watch another movie" and I tell you not to threaten me?
Z: Yes.
Nurse: She's right. You shouldn't threaten your mother.

Those are the ones I wrote down or could remember. He brings us so much joy. It's been another great year. Thanks Z.