Thursday, June 30, 2011

What are we missing?

For those of you who haven’t read this thought provoking story …

In Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk..

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously.  Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.  The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.
The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:  If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made….
How many other things are we missing?

Not surprising  – all the children were instantly captivated, yet not one parent allowed their child a moment to appreciate the music!!!!

So today I challenge you this:  take a moment to appreciate something you may not "have the time" to appreciate.  Allow a child in your life a moment to be unhurried and to follow their heart.  You never know what you might discover!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sleep Strike

We had 6 weeks of awesome sleep.

Notice how I used the past tense?

In the past week, Cole has all of a sudden decided to go on a sleep strike.  Yesiree, no sleep for him.  No naps, no cuddles, no nothing - he has decided that sleep is for the birds! 

Instead, I'll find him bouncing up and down in his crib or walking as fast as he can back and forth in his crib.  Or he'll drop his bink and scream loudly for me to come in and give it back to him, only to repeat the performance the instant I shut the door.

Yes, it's fabulous.  LOTS of fun!

I'm pretty sure it's because he's so excited to excercise his new awesome walking skillz.  And I must admit, I'm excited to see those walking skillz.  But sleep skillz are awesome too, right little mister?

On another adorable note, when he DOES sleep, he always falls asleep with his foot propped up in between the bars of his crib:
Don't you just want to munch on those chubby little feet and toes? 

Singin' in the Rain

It's a rainy day today here, so I thought I'd share a "Singin' in the Rain" GLEE dance:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Love you forever

You know the book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch?  You know the cover of that book?

I remember reading this book both as a small child and as an adult, and thinking about how much it would be make me crazy to be the mother of a toddler who did crazy things like flushing a watch down a toilet and unraveling all of the toilet paper.

And then yesterday I caught Cole doing this:

In the period of one day, Cole dropped my cellphone in our garbage can (full of cantelope guts...PERFECT!), dumped the dog food into the water dish, threw out every single freshly washed and folded item of clothing in my laundry basket one by one, pulled Nala's tail, dumped the contents of my purse AND the diaper bag, threw every single sock in my underwear drawer at the dogs (laughing hysterically the entire time), pulled out all my (clean) panties from the drawer and dragged them all over the house, pulled all the DVDs off the shelf and onto the floor, dumped his shoe basket, discovered how to pull out dirty clothes from his hamper, emptied two drawers and two baskets of stuff in the bathroom, pushed two dining table chairs across the room, and pulled out two drawers and three cupboards worth of kitchen items from the cupboards I can't put baby locks on.


I'm not gonna lie, it's hard.  It's hard to just sit back and let him make a mess of the house I spend hours putting back together after he goes to bed every night.  It's frustrating when I turn my back for a second and the toilet paper ends up all over the floor (which, by the way, it still is.  So if you come over, you'll have to just rip the toilet paper from the pile on the floor.  Don't judge me, it was laundry day.).  But I have to just keep telling myself how important it is for Cole to learn and explore and make messes (and someday, help clean them up...eagerly awaiting that day...). 

It's like walking down the freezer aisle at the grocery store and your baby sees the whole row of FREEZER HANDLES which happen to be his most favorite thing ever at the moment, so you stop the shopping cart at every handle for him to open and close at least once.  Not really my idea of a great time, but the look of PURE JOY on Cole's face every single time he opened one of those doors was worth it.

Just like the look of pure joy on his face when he's holding my panties and pelting rolled-up socks at the dogs all over my bedroom is worth the clean up later. As will the photos to show any future girlfriends.


More than once, I've been accused of being a "hippie" mama.  Yeah, I'd agree, I guess I'm sort of the "crunchy" type. Cloth diapers? yup.  Breastfeeding? pretty much..  Co-sleeping? sorta.  Natural wooden toys instead of plastic battery toys?  oh yeah.

No TV watching?  Check.

There's a lot of reasons that we try to limit Cole's exposure to TV, video games, and other screen time as much as possible.  There have been multiple world-wide studies linking TV watching to the onset of disorders such as ADD and ADHD.  There have been studies that show that TV on as background noise interferes with language development.  There have been hundreds of studies that link TV watching with increased overeating, childhood obesity, and sleep problems.  Even programs geared especially toward infants and young children can do a lot of damage to a developing child's brain. 

One of the problems I face as a teacher is having students who are so used to being so entertained and stimulated by screen time that it is difficult to engage them in any other way.  Their brains are so used to not having to do any work to think and learn that it makes my job very difficult - especially on a limited budget. 

But most importantly, television watching interferes with a child's normal brain development and attention span.  How difficult is it for you to concentrate 100% when reading a book or having a conversation when the TV is on?  Ever noticed how your eye is continually drawn to the TV when it's on, even when you're not "watching" it?  The same is true with babies and kids, and this can truly interfere with their ability later on to focus and concentrate.  Babies are in such a constant state of learning, and the neural pathways are all being developed - once those pathways are developed to learn through something as stimulating as TV, it's really hard for kids to be stimulated in any other way (like books).

Over and over again, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends absolutely no screen time for children under the age of two, and limited time thereafter.  But by the age of five, 90% of American children have watched over 5,000 hours of television - the equivilant of what it takes to get a four-year college degree!

But more importantly than all that research is my mother's instinct.  And as a mama, I just don't feel like it's ever necessary to expose Cole to TV.  I'd so much rather he play or read or interact with me instead of a television.

And I have never, ever heard of a parent who raised their child who said, "Boy, I sure wish I'd made my kid watch more TV! They really missed out!"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

These shoes were made for walkin'

My mom has been asking me to post a video of Cole walking - but the only problem is that he's so adorable I couldn't choose just one! So here's THREE cutie-patootie videos of Cole walking like a drunken sailor:

Friday, June 24, 2011


Cole is totally in love with his binks.  When he was a newborn, I had a really hard time deciding if I should give him a pacifier or not, but when I read this article about pacifiers helping prevent SIDS, I was sold.

And now, it's all I can do to take Cole's binks away. I'm trying to keep his binks in his crib just for use during naps and at night but it's SO HARD!  He sleeps best with one in his mouth and one or two to hold.  I'll find them hidden in secret little spots around the house where he squirreled them away for later.  When he finds them, he'll crawl around the house with one in his mouth and one in each hand, and he'll stop periodically to switch them from hand to mouth.

Let's just hope he grows out of this attachment by the time he goes away to college!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feel like dancing?

This song makes me feel the exact same way.  I love Florence and the Machine.

Babies are so cute - I love how you always know exactly how they are feeling!

Tuesday Garbage Truck Day

Tuesdays are one of the highlight's of Cole's little life routine.

Tuesdays are Garbage and Recycling Truck days.

Big, noisy trucks going up and down the street - this little boy's idea of heaven:

 And to make it even better, Daddy was here to share the joy of Garbage Truck Day!

It's the little things!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Of shopping carts and kidnappers

Now that I've been a parent for more than a year, I feel like I (mostly) have things pretty well under control.  Things that would have floored me a short 12 months ago I can now take in stride.  Breastfeeding in public?  SO not a problem.  Installing a carseat?  I'm all over that action.  Changing a dirty diaper on a squirming infant in a public restroom without a changing table?  Um, ok, I guess that one I'm still not awesome at.  (Sidenote: can someone please tell me why it is still not legal for all public restrooms to have a changing table?! Someone call your legislator about this!)

But the point is, most things regarding baby don't throw me (famous last words).

Except for shopping carts.

Yeah, you'd think that if I could handle changing poopy blow-out diapers, a little thing like a shopping cart wouldn't stress me out.  Think again.

Ok, so here's my issue.  You know how most people try to park as far away from those shopping cart corral thingys as they can to avoid shopping cart damage to their car?  Well, not I.  (That is to say, in towns where people are actually NOT too lazy to walk the 10 feet to put their shopping cart in the corral and not just push it away from their own car and usually into someone else's).

I like to live dangerously.  So I tend to park RIGHT NEXT to the corrals.

I can just hear my mom gasping aloud at this confession.

But just wait!  I have a really good reason for this.

Ok, so when you have a squirming (and STRONG) little baby, a big ol' diaper bag, and a fancy shmancy shopping cart cover that usually requires two well-coordinated hands to put it on, you need a little help. 

Let me tell you, the first time I took Cole to the grocery store by myself without his handy infant carrier, I was totally overwhelmed.  I was all, OH MY GOSH I NEED TO GROW AT LEAST TWO MORE ARMS RIGHT NOW! I was standing in the middle of the parking lot with my hands full, holding a cart and trying desperately to figure out how exactly I was going to get the cover on the cart, the baby in the cart, and the diaper bag in the cart.

AND it was raining.  Fabulous.

So after the grocery shopping experience, I proceeded to load Cole into the carseat first, to get him out of the rain, load my groceries, and then look around in a panic because to be a responsible cart-borrower I needed to walk my cart over the corral which was TEN WHOLE FEET AWAY - away from my baby, fastened snugly into his carseat in the car.

The dilemma, people.  You could see it my eyes.  What to do, what to do - why don't they teach these kinds of important things in childbirth class?!  How far away from my unattended child do I go?  I could just picture a car-jacker watching me from afar - "AHA! She's taking the cart back to the corral, the responsible gal!  Now's my chance to take her car AND kidnap her adorable baby!"

Given the choice between leaving a cart in a (GASP) parking space or a kidnapper stealing my baby, I regretfully pushed the cart away, all the while sneaking embarrassed glances around to make sure no one was going to roll down their window and tell me to PUT THE CART IN THE CORRAL YOU LAZY SELFISH PERSON! (not that I've ever thought about doing that or anything).

So, like any halfway intelligent human, I learned from this experience. And I now risk dents in my car by parking right next to the corral.  Because a dented car is WAY better than a kidnapped baby.

I'm telling you, I need to put in a guest appearance at childbirth class.  Then all new moms could save themselves so much stress.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If I had to pick just one thing I couldn't live without, it just might be my water bottle with pop-up runner's straw.
You guys, I LOVE this water bottle.  I currently have about eighteen of them in my cupboard.  Something about the double layer design that prevents condensation on the outside, the pop-up straw (a nice feature since I once had a kindergarten student come up to a non-pop-up-straw water bottle of mine and drink from it...ewww), and of course, the awesome colors. I think having the straw makes me drink more water, since I'm so lazy that apparently tilting a bottle is too much work.

I love this water bottle so much that I had a student tell me one time, "I know when you're coming to sub in our class because I see your water bottle on the desk!"

Yes, they rock that much.

And apparently Cole thinks so too - he LOVES drinking from these water bottles.  Sometimes he'll take a drink even when he's not thirsty and spit all the water down his front, just for the pure pleasure of sucking water up the straw.

It's adorable.

Monday, June 20, 2011

summertime...and the livin' is easy

We just finished getting a sprinkler system and new sod installed in our backyard - I was so excited, Cole and I ran out right away to take some pictures on the beautiful grass:

Reason number 398,598,098,234 why I love this age - even a piece of dirt is fascinating and entertaining.  He played with this chunk of dirt for a good five minutes and probably would have played with it even longer, but then he tried to put it in his mouth.  Gross.  So I took it away - and from the tears that ensued, you'd have thought I broke Cole's little heart. 

He thinks it's the funniest thing EVER to yank off his hat.

I just love summertime!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my amazing husband.

Chris is a great dad for so many reasons.  But above all - and most importantly - he puts his family first, always, before his own needs and wants.

Case in point - working at a job 3 hours away during the week, then another job 1.5 hours away on most weekends, just to provide for his family.

I think he's pretty awesome - and Cole does too!

We love you, babe! Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


My name is Mandy, and I'm a stay-at-home mama.

What do you think of when you hear those words?

There's often a social stigma against SAHM's in our country - sometimes, when I tell strangers what I do, I get words like:

"Must be nice to sit around at home all day!"
"Don't you get bored?"
"Doesn't your husband get tired of supporting you?"
"Oh, you couldn't get a job, huh?"

The simple truth is that I LOVE being a SAHM.  It's what I was meant to do.  It doesn't mean that I can't find a job (I've actually turned down a couple of offers.)  It doesn't mean that I never get bored (do you ever get bored at your job, even if it's something you love?).  It doesn't mean that I never get lonesome or tired or frustrated.  It's not perfect.

But I love my job.

Before I had Cole, I was a teacher and I LOVED it.  And maybe sometime in the future I'll go back to teaching.  But honestly?  I tried teaching and being a mama at the same time.  It just wasn't for me - I couldn't handle it all.  So Chris and I made a decision for what's best for our family.

That does not mean that I will ever judge a working parent of any kind.  I hate bananas - does that mean you should hate bananas too? Of course not.  You do what works for your family, I do what works for mine.

All I know is that if you are a working mama, a part-time working mama, or a stay-at-home mama, you deserve kudos for doing your very best.

And if you want a laugh, read this hilarious blog post.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cole's new fav book

After a short spell of not really being interested in books(he was just too active and interested in other things!), Cole is back to being passionately interested in books.  His new favorite is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"

We have read this book 46 times today.

But who's counting? :)

pool days

I bought Cole a little blow-up pool for in our backyard.  And while it takes approximately one hour of preparation (swim diaper, swim trunks, wrestle a tight rash guard shirt over his head, apply fifteen pounds of SPF 50 to every square millimeter of his body, hat, put sunglasses on, put sunglasses on again after he pulls them off, put sunglasses on AGAIN after he pulls them off, repeat, repeat, repeat, throw sunglasses on counter in frustration and walk out the door) for every ten minutes of pool time, he's so adorable and has so much fun it's worth it.

 When Cole's concentrating really hard, he sticks out his tongue. SO ADORABLE!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Cole's been up to:

Here's a sneaky peek at some of the stuff we've been up to lately around here:

  • Cole had his one year pediatrician appointment.  He weights 21.5 pounds (24th percentile), is 30 inches long (45th percentile), and has an 18 inch head (75th percentile!) Yup, he's my little dandelion boy, tall and skinny with a big head.
  • Woe is me, Cole has started to climb!!!!!!
  • He's been lifting weights lately... you know, he's got to impress the ladies and all:
  • Lately, Cole's been "talking" to the dogs in this really adorable high-pitched voice - it's a voice he uses just for the dogs! ADORABLE!
  • I am so thrilled that he has finally started to put some things back IN after taking them OUT from wherever they were.  They might not make it back in the same spot he took them from (thus why our television remote was in the basket where I keep his hats), but you know, beggars can't be choosers!
  • I occasionally have to check to make sure Cole has not turned into a giant blueberry (like what's-her-name from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) because he eats so.many.blueberries.  I can't get him to stop.  As we put the GIANT container of blueberries in our cart at Costco, I had to literally hold Cole down to stop him from lunging for them.  His little butt is dyed blue from his blue poop as a result of said blueberries.  I think he's obsessed.
  • When Cole smiles, his whole entire face lights up like you would not believe.  His eyes scrunch up, he looks into your eyes with this ridiculously wide smile, and it's impossible not to smile back!
  • The quickest way to make Cole smile lately? (Other than to give him a handful of blueberries?) Let him open the refrigerator and freezer doors.  He is IN LOVE with handles - anything that lets him open and close something.  Who knew?

tears and frustration

It was one of those days.

Nothing was making my little man happy.  He didn't want to be put down.  He didn't want to be held.  He didn't want to eat.  He didn't want to read.  He didn't want to play.  In desperation, I handed him my cellphone (the trusty parenting trick) - he threw it to the ground and cried. 

All he wanted to do was chew on electrical wires and play with the dog food.

Both of which are strictly forbidden.

There were tears. There was frustration on both our parts. "I don't know what you need!" I sighed in exasperation.

This is what Cole looked like for most of the day:

But I did the best I could.  We had a nice lasagna dinner, a warm bath, and extra snuggles before bed.  As Cole reached up and patted my chest lovingly as I was rocking him to sleep, I took a deep breath.  Some days aren't going to be perfect or easy.  It's ok for me to be exasperated and frustrated, just like it's ok for Cole to feel that way too.  I'm still a good mama, and we still love each other.

Tomorrow's another day. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tumalo Falls

This past weekend Cole and I drove up to Bend to spend the weekend with Chris  - and we FINALLY made it to Tumalo Falls this trip.  We've been wanting to do this hike for a couple months, but it just hasn't happened until now.  Fortunately, it was a trip worth the wait - the falls were beautiful:

 The view from the top of the falls:

Chris' parents found this amazing Kelty Kids backpack at a yard sale for only $30!  Cole loved it and I have a feeling we'll put it to a lot of use in our upcoming Yellowstone vacation.

Cole was so impressed with the falls, he couldn't take his eyes off of them!

We started a 4 mile loop hike along the Tumalo Creek, heading toward the beautiful Double Falls, but we got turned around by too much snow!  Yes, over a foot of snow on the trail in the middle of June - welcome to Oregon!
Cole was having so much fun he was "talking" (screaming) at the top of his lungs while we were hiking.  It was adorable.

The dogs really enjoyed themselves:

We had such a lovely time enjoying the outdoors - I have a feeling Chris can't wait to take Cole camping and on all sorts of outdoorsy adventures!

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