Friday, September 30, 2011


As a teacher, praise is something I think about a lot.  My students always wanted to draw my attention to any of their small accomplishments - writing the "e" the correct way, solving a social problem, climbing to the top of the jungle gym.

And after reading this fantastic New York Times article about praise, I've been thinking about it a lot as it relates to Cole as well.

Let's face it, we all like our accomplishments to be noticed and appreciated.  Kids are no different - even Cole will struggle to pull a blanket down from his crib, then look over at me with a look of pride to see if I saw his effort and result.

But I have a little bit of a problem with praise.  I don't want Cole's focus with his accomplishments to be external praise.  I don't want him to do something just because I say "Good job". I don't want him to choose easy activities just because it will be easy to succeed.

More importantly, I want Cole to focus on the PROCESS of everything he does, not the RESULT. 

I am ashamed to admit that too often in my childhood, I chose a path that was easier just because I knew I would be successful.  Too often, I lacked confidence to try something new because I was afraid of failure.  And one of the reasons I believe I was like this was being labeled early on as "smart" and praised as such - I didn't want to fail, because I thought then I wouldn't be "smart".

Too often as parents I think we misunderstand the difference between acknowledgement and praise.  Babies and kids and adults need acknowledgement...we don't always need praise.  I shouldn't have to tell Cole "Good Job!" for eating his food - would I say that to an adult?  Or even to a five year old?  Not really necessary, right?  What I should tell him is a simple statement of fact: "You ate all your food!"  It's not praising him, but I am ACKNOWLDGING his effort and the process. This is an excellent article of better statements to use other than "Good job!".

Now, I'm not saying that I never praise Cole.  Of course I give him praise occasionally, when it is warranted.  But a simple, general "Good job" is not effective praise - for praise to actually work, it needs to be specific and for it to work better, it needs to be about the effort, not the end result.  Praise should also be honest - I'm never going to tell Cole, "You're the next Michealangelo!" because he's not.  He may have worked hard on a piece of art, but he and I both know that he's not as talented as a true artist.  It's the same as if I cooked Chris a total bomb of a meal (which NEVER happens) and he tells me it's fabulous.  I KNOW it's not fabulous, so I KNOW he's not telling me the truth and it makes me feel bad.  However, if he were to tell me thank you for making the effort to cook something, I feel ok about it.

Praising kids for effort gives kids something they can control.  Intelligence is innate, often not perceived as something that can be changed or improved.  But effort - that's something that kids can grow in, something they can control.

In the New York Times article mentioned above, the author discusses a study performed on a group of children.  Each student was given an easy puzzle to complete.  Half the kids were told, "You must be really smart at this!" and the other half were told, "You must have worked really hard!".  Next, the researchers offered the students a second puzzle to complete, with their choice of either a difficult puzzle or an easy one.  All the children who were praised for their intelligence wimped out and chose the easy one, while all the children who were praised for effort challenged themselves and tried the difficult puzzle.  Lastly, the kids were all given an "impossible" puzzle that no one completed.  But the "effort" kids were all encouraged and wanted another try, while the "smart" kids were eager to give up.

I never want Cole to rely on external praise from someone to build his self-esteem and self-worth.  I want his sense of accomplishment to come from within, because that will never change. 

Baby Shower!

Two of our very closest friends just had one of the most adorable baby boys ever:

Seriously, how cute are they?  Sean, Kadance, and Baby Boy Declan.

Since Kadance is one of my best friends (and practically a twin sister with how similar we are in our likes and dislikes), I jumped at the chance to help throw her baby shower. 

(All photos credit the immensely talented Crystal Muno of Imaginography Studios)

We decided on a Mustache Bash theme and I went ALL OUT and had a blast making the decorations:

I made mustache cups:

The favors: chocolate bars with custom tags:
The star of the show, sporting a mustache:
Marlena brought food and mimosas:
I made these cards for "Wishes for Baby":

 How beautiful is Kadance?  Declan is such a lucky little man to have such a loving mama - motherhood completely agrees with her!

With such an artistic and creative guest list, we thought decorating onesies would be a great idea - and no one disappointed!  They turned out amazing:
imagine world "peas" (peace) 
 Matching gumball machines!
 Kadance is a fellow Eiffel Tower lover!

The partygoers showing off our 'staches:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Toddlers on a Plane! (not to be confused with "Snakes on a Plane", although possibly just as terrifying)

Cole and I are on our way to Palm Springs tomorrow.

Which means we are flying.  In a plane.

Just us two.

Ok, we just us two for the first leg of the flight - we're meeting up with Gram and Pap the second part (thank goodness!).

And I am a wee bit nervous.

I know, I know, I was all nervous this time last July when we flew cross-country to Philadelphia to visit relatives, but it was seriously a piece of cake.  I had Chris around for help, Cole was itty-bitty and portable and breast-feeding, so it was no problem.

But this time?  This time I am flying with a toddler, alone.  A toddler who NEVER HOLDS STILL.  Seriously, the only time he is still is when he's sleeping.  Which is not something he does at the drop of a hat. AND we didn't get him his own seat, he'll be on my lap.

I am combated with visions of a screaming, thrashing toddler in tight coach seats, while other flyers look disapprovingly at me.

So, I am breaking out all the stops.  Snacks? Check.  Books? Check. The Sesame Street app for my smartphone? Check.  (Only if true desperation arises, since we usually have a no TV policy for Cole...but hey, if it saves us from being kicked off the flight, I'll use whatever I need!)

And then some more unusual ideas I found while googling "toddlers on a plane":
  • Pipe cleaners.  Small, cheap, and no biggie if they get lost. 
  • Blue painter's tape.  Hopefully I won't be using to tape Cole's mouth shut (I'm totally joking, don't worry)
  • Aluminum foil. I wrapped up a new book in it, so Cole would have a "present" on the plane, then he can play with the foil.
  • These baby food thingys, which are awesome since they don't require a spoon.
Ok friends and readers...any other sanity-saving ideas from mamas who've been there, done that?  I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Solution

Since Cole and I are flying down to Palm Springs on Tuesday (to spend a couple weeks with Gram and Pap!  We're sooo excited!), I've been packing.  But I decided not to check any bags - the whole pay-for-a-checked-bag dealio is pretty lame, in my opinion.  So we are taking a carry-on and the diaper bag, and that's it.

For 2 weeks.

All my stuff AND all Cole's stuff.

So, I need to pack light - however, these two words are not words that I am familiar with.

What if I need something that I don't have room to bring?  And I have to bring THESE shoes because they go with THESE pants, but then I also need THOSE shoes because they go with THOSE pants and oh my gosh what if I need to get dressed up for any reason?  There's a whole 'nother ball of wax with shoes and underwear and Spanx.

BUT! I have found a solution:

Yup.  We're going to WEAR all our clothes. 

I know, GENIUS, right?! 

If only I could figure out how to wear more than one pair of shoes, we'd be all set.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I watch you run around the living room, chasing the dogs and laughing your high-pitched laugh hysterically.

I hold you, snuggled safe and warm, with your head nestled on my shoulder and your hand holding tight to my arm.

I come into your room after hearing you wake from your nap, and you give me your extra-happy, scrunched-up-face smile; and you bounce excitedly on your mattress and reach out your arms for me.

I watch as you bye and blow kisses to Daddy as he leaves for work.

I watch as you bring me books to read, one after another, then climb into my lap expectantly.

I see you playing in your sandbox, methodically gathering handfuls of dirt and stacking your nesting blocks.

I feel your hot little hand gripped trustingly in mine as we walk slowly down the stairs, with you glancing up at me occasionally with an enormous proud grin on your face.

But most of all, when you run up to me for a giant hug, and plant "kisses" (which are really just tapping your mouth) onto my shoulder or my legs.

These are the moments when I feel as though my heart might just explode with love for you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

adorable old couple

I'm sure just about everyone has seen this adorable video circulating around the interwebs, but it is just so cute I had to post it too. 

This gentleman reminds me SO MUCH of my own Pap - the singing, the laughter - it's perfect.  I hope Chris and I are just like this couple in 50 years.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Random Adorableness

Cole is developing the most hilarious little personality:

- When he's taking a drink, he swallows and goes "AHHHH!"   It's also his way of asking for a drink - he'll point emphatically and go "Ahhh!"  How on earth did he learn that?!

-He ADORES pillows.  Not sure why.  He throws them around, pulls them onto the floor, and flops down on them.

-Every time we go up the stairs and he helps me close the baby gate, he gives us a round of applause.

-Obsessed with nightlights - he'll take them and hide them in his room.

-For some reason, he doesn't like to point to things.  Instead, he'll take my pointer finger in his hand and use it to point to something.  It's hysterical.

-One of our new favorite pastimes is waving to passerby from our front deck.  Or waving to anyone, anywhere.  Cole has a very enthusiastic wave; so much so, in fact, that he often ends up smacking himself in the face with his arm.

-Cole loves to have his face touched.  He falls asleep best with at least one hand pressed up against the side of his face with him holding onto a finger.  When he crawls into bed with us, we have to watch because he'll head butt us trying to fall asleep with his head pillowed onto one of our faces. Comfy, no? 

-Along the same lines, Cole loves to be kissed on the forehead.  He'll come up to me, take my face in both hands, and bring his head to it so I'll kiss him.  Sometimes he's a little too forceful...but it's so cute it doesn't matter.

-LOVE LOVE LOVES ceiling fans and lights.  But most especially ceiling fans.  Seriously, any time we walk into a building, the first thing he looks for is a ceiling fan and if he spies one, he lets out a loud "UH!" (which in Cole-speak must mean "LOOK!") and points dramatically at it.  And he'll continue pointing dramatically at it for the duration of the visit, sometimes emphatically smacking us with his pointed finger to get the "point" (haha) across.  Not really sure just what he wants us to do, but we're excited that he's excited. One of his favorite places we EVER took him was the ceiling fan aisle of Lowe's - he was pretty enthralled!

-And my favorite - this face:

This is his flirting face - he always gets such a dramatic reaction when he does this that he does it all the time now!  But my favorite time was a few days ago in TJ Maxx...we were shopping and Cole was sitting in the cart and decided to do this grin face at every.single.person who walked by.  Every one.  And every single one stopped and laughed and commented on his adorableness, which of course only encouraged him more.  It was beyond hysterical, I was practically in tears from laughing so hard by the time we checked out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Maybe he'll start a blog next

What's that?

Oh, don't mind me, I'm just writing. 

Yup, writing the Great American Novel.

I'll let you know when I get published.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

piano love

Every time Cole and I head downstairs to do laundry or any other type of cleaning, he always ends up at the piano.  He toddles right over to it, lifts the cover, and plinks away with a huge grin on his face.  He just learned to climb up onto the bench, and he'll sit there swinging his feet and banging away joyfully.

I always said I wouldn't pressure Cole into any activities, sports OR music...but I have to say it makes my piano fingers proud to see him taking an interest in the piano!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blackberry Picking

It has always been a dream of mine to pick blackberries and make my own jam. 

I know, some people dream about solving global warming or the issues in Darfur...I dream about jam. 

Don't judge me, I like jam.  Plus, how awesome is it to be one of THOSE moms...the ones who are all, "Why yes, I do make my own jam.  I am a super-mom."

So when Chris' dad found some blackberry bushes in a park just a few minutes from our house, I proceeded to nag Chris until he took us out there to pick blackberries:

Cole loved running around in the grass - seriously, this kid hardly ever slows down!

"But wait!":

The fruits of our labor...ha ha, get it? FRUITS!  I crack myself up!

Cole enjoyed the blackberries too!

We didn't have quite enough for jam...but we did have enough for this a-mazing blackberry cobbler:
Come on over and have some!
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