Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let the adventure begin!

Did you know that God answers prayers?  Even prayers we don't actually pray? 

This summer, I was getting a bit discouraged about this blogging business.  I had big goals and dreams when I started about three years ago, but haven't seen real progress in building a reader base, and with the summer months, even those numbers were slipping.  Of course, I haven't been reading anyone ELSE's blogs, either, so I tried to blow it off as a seasonal thing.

But still that sense of failure nagged at me.  In retaliation, my fear of being a quitter would start up.  So it went, back and forth, for several months.  I finally decided that if I was going to be happy, I needed to stop relying on traffic and comments to deem my blog a success.  It had to be for me and my family.  Since blogging is, essentially, my form of journaling (more about that later!), it's where I record all the little things about my kids as they grow up.  Other people may not be so compelled to memorialize every. blessed. detail, but I am and always have been.  I decided to continue blogging just for my family's sake.

And then my amazing friend CB stepped in!  She recommended Modern-Day Jane to a local woman who works for Forum Communications, based here in Fargo, but covering about 35 newspapers in a tri-state area.  This woman, Tracy Briggs, has asked me to join the Forum's website called Area Voices, and then she'll promote Modern-Day Jane as a featured blog!  This means that those 35 newspapers could choose to list MDJ in their papers, in whatever section they like.

Basically, I was recruited.

And after looking around at some of the blogs on Area Voices, I can see why.  Most of them are political (Freethinkers, anyone?) or sports oriented, and a lot are just selling stuff.  I have only found a few that are about family life, and those are well done...mostly by people who work for Forum Communications!  There appears to be a big opening for "normal" mommy bloggers (an oxymoron if I've ever heard one.  Like talking about poop and wiping snot all day is normal).  I'm going to step in a take a chance.

Area Voices uses WordPress software, which I've heard is superior to Blogspot. If this whole thing doesn't work out, I'll probably stick with WordPress anyway.

My biggest concern, naturally, is that some of you reading now won't follow me to my new site.  PLEASE come with me!  You don't have to login to Area Voices or create an account there to see the new Modern-Day Jane page, but you CAN, of course, and it's super easy.  ALSO, be sure to change your "favorites" link to the new page and Google Reader, etc...  I'm not deleting this version of MDJ, so if you forget, you can come here and link to the new site.  No new posts will be put here, however.

My biggest regret?  Area Voices does not have a function for "following" a blog, so no longer will I have your friendly faces keeping me company in the right hand column.  I will truly miss your silent (and maybe even inaccurate) voice of support. 

One other, smaller regret?  Losing my hyphen.  For some reason, the Area Voices site does not allow punctuation in their URL addresses.  My blog address is now , but the blog will continue to be Modern-Day Jane, with the hyphen, thankyouverymuch.

I'm excited for a new challenge, and new readership possibilities!  Already I've had a new comment, which may or may not rub you the wrong way, if you've been a reader here and have a feel for my parenting (and writing) style.  I

Can't wait to see what's around the bend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'll be sure to get a photo of that, too.

One more thing I forgot about Ben.  Lately, he's been quite the diva, changing his clothes at least once a day.  As a result, his laundry pile is twice as big as Leah's.  Here's an example:

Ben: (wearing a T-shirt & that's it.  I had just given him a new pair of undies.  Also was wearing sweatpants previously.) Mommy, I'm too hot.  Can I put on shorts?
Me:  No!  It's too cold out! You are FINE.
Ben:  I'm hooooot.  I want shorts!  (Repeat MANY more times.)
Me:  Fine.
After about FIVE MINUTES, he comes down with a different T-shirt and flannel pants, also new undies.  Um, NO.  I pointed out that T-shirts are pretty much the same warmth, and the pants are STILL PANTS.  Also, sent him back up with the undies.  Explained that he had a whole day's worth of clothes in his hands.  Listen, I'm just trying to save the earth by reducing my laundry load.

This weather is throwing things all out of whack for ALL of us.  The mornings are around 40 degrees, but the afternoons are in the upper 60's.  Leah has been going to school in capris and T-shirts, but also with socks & sneakers and a jacket.  This seems to work for her, but Mr. Diva has been changing from pants to shorts somewhere around 3pm. 

Which is fine.  For about 2 hours, until the sun starts to go down.

Tonight, for example, we were all outside.  Aaron, Adam and I were wearing pants and jackets.  Leah is wearing her clothes from school (capris) and Ben a t-shirt and shorts.  Shocking!  The ticked-off mosquitos were enjoying the free meal, I'm sure. 


I really want to tell you about all these cute things that Adam is doing lately, but since I don't have photos of them, it seems kinda cruel.  So I'll work on that, and get back to you soon.

He's now holding his own cup  - YAY - so my next request is that he start talking.  Now.   That would be sooo helpful.  Because the crying tantrums? NOT so cute.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Down by the Seaside (not really)

Leah has had this thing lately where she thinks she's right all the time.  And that would make us, her parents, wrong.  This is annoying for two reasons:  1)  SHE'S USUALLY WRONG and 2) I know I get to look forward to this for the rest of my life.  This is what some people might call karma.

Here's an example of a recent conversation - remember she rides home from school with another mom and her kids:

The parents:  Leah, when you ride home, do you sit in the middle?
Leah:  No, I sit in the back...
Parents:  By yourself?
Leah: No, next to Sarah.
P: So, does anyone sit behind you?
L: Yeah, I guess B sits behind us, and J does too if he's with.
P: sit in the middle.
L:  Hehe, I guess I do!


Ben's thing lately has been nudity.  We've had some backsliding in the poopy training area after a fairly good several weeks.  This has naturally lead to many changes of underwear.  He's more than eager to have clean ones, but it seems to take for-EVER for him to put them on. Like, I have to remind him about 20 times to PUT THE THINGS ON. 


MY thing lately has been cleaning out the sandbox.  Not of toys, although that's happened, too

And not of sidewalk chalk, although I've gathered a lot of that as well.

See all that pea gravel surrounding the sandbox?  Yeah.

I've spent a couple afternoons out there with the boys, sifting sand through a toy sifter, tossing the pebbles back out.  It's been oddly satisfying work.  I can see progress begin made, even though Adam has been trying to help by tossing out perfectly good sand.

Now I'm just trying not to think about how my two afternoons of work could be erased in 30 seconds. 

Denial.  It's every mom's best friend.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Free desserts also appreciated.

The stars aligned just right today.  I remembered to turn on the radio to a talk program I like AND had enough quiet in the house to listen and not go crazy.  I even tried to call in, but by the the skies must have shifted and the kids started yelling.  Or maybe it was just that at 11:30 my boys turn into hungry gremlins.

The radio program is The Christopher Gabriel Show, and we are lucky enough to be friends - IN PERSON- with both Christopher & his amazing wife Wendy. Their oldest daughter, big C, was in Leah's class last year, and although she's being homeschooled this year, it has not changed the fact that Leah and big C are cut from fairly identical cloth.  Little C is a bit younger than Ben, and keeps things lively.

Anyway, CG always teases that I don't listen to his program.  But it's nothing personal - I don't really listen to ANY radio while at home, but if I do, it's his.  So there.

Today I caught that The Christopher Gabriel Show was going to be discussing a restaurant that had hung a sign saying, "Screaming Children WILL NOT be tolerated!".  Apparently the restaurant has seen an increase in traffic, rather than the my predicted decrease.

I have no problem with people not wanting to listen to a screaming kid.  It's not like I personally enjoy it, either.  And if a kid IS screaming, and the parents are ignoring the child, then yes, go ahead and point out the fact that they are in PUBLIC and maybe they might want to try to parent, hmm?

If a kid is screaming and can't be consoled, most reasonable parents will leave until the child is calmed down.  And if you have a child prone to screaming fits, I don't think "eating out" is at the top of your list.  We are currently in the phase of Adam's life I like to refer to as "the no-restaurant zone".  Since Adam was about nine months old, we have avoided restaurants except when traveling.  Oh, we still eat out once in awhile, but it is much rarer than before.  This is purely for our convenience - babies from about 9mo- 18 mo are just a pain to feed away from home.  They are messy, eat specific foods (peas but not beans), and tend to have an attention span of approximately 3 seconds.  Also, they have NO patience for waiting for food to arrive.

If we DO decide to go out to eat, we take turns walking Adam around the restaurant sight-seeing (which may be more annoying to some patrons, but can you not smile at his drooling, grinning face?  I don't think so.)  We also bring snacks and let him play with the crayons and kids' menus that are provided at the restaurants we frequent.  Also, we hand him spoons and butter knives.  But we have learned not to let him play with the creamer cups.

But still.

Here's my problem:  Does this sign give you a general warm feeling about this restaurant?  Um, no.  Not as a parent, but even just as a human being.  "Will not be tolerated" is not a phrase that I associate with "Come on in and let us serve you!"

Also, if screaming children will not be tolerated, I would hope that the following would not be tolerated, either:

1) Obnoxious laughing (the kind you can hear across restaurant)
2) Swearing
3) Dirty jokes
4) Excessive alcohol consumption

and also, from the restaurant itself (as long as we're making rules!)

1) rudeness from staff
2) having to track down the check so we can leave
3) a sticky seat...or table

But I don't like to dwell TOO long on the negatives.  Here are the things that I LUUURVE about past restaurants:
1) servers who talk to the kids and seem to genuinely enjoy them
2) being given extra napkins - and even an extra plate!
3) drinks refilled without us noticing

What do you think about the "no screaming kids" sign?  Would you go in with kids?  Or without kids?  Have you had a really great experience at a restaurant lately?  What made it great - one thing, or lots of little things?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thumb leaning towards green-ish

I was raised by a mother with not one, but two green thumbs.  There may have even been a few greenish fingers in there too, and if it happened to be pea shelling time, that was very literal.  Our garden was a quarter of an acre, and was fueled by 100% people power. Okay, a tractor tilled it up.  But from there on out, the planting, watering, weeding (and weeding and weeding), and of course harvesting, was all done by Mom and us four kids.  A few times we had friends join us for snapping beans - there were bags and bags of them - 8 kids and 2 moms going at it!  Insane.  And then the freezing and canning started.

This may give you some insight into why I feel like gardening is something I must do.  Even if my own personal feelings lean more towards the ambivalent than the passionate.

Adam tests out the dirt in the new garden bed.  He got a bath afterwards.

Aaron built me these gorgeous garden beds.  We had some in our old house too, but with the move in the middle of the summer, and then Adam being born in June last year, the gardens got delayed a bit until this year.

I start out strong - choosing which veggies to plant, buying the seeds, and even making a chart of what will go where.  Leah and I planted those garden beds this year, and it was every bit as picturesque as I'd always imagined - mother and daughter bonding over putting these little capsules of potential into the warm earth.  We quickly decided that beans were a better choice for her first planting experience, rather than lettuce - hence the random lettuce growing on the side of the yard!
Aaron wisely put the garden beds along a sprinkler line, and put new sprinkler heads in so that with a turn of a wheel we could water just the garden beds (not even the whole lawn), and not have to fight the mosquitos to do it.

Oh yeah.. The mosquitos.  Those nasty buggers are one of the reasons for the lackadasical progression of my gardening.  One hand was picking, and the other was smacking and swiping as fast as possible.  Makes you appreciate the "gathering" part of "hunting and gathering" a little more - it becomes a contact sport.

Because the beds are raised, weeds aren't too much of a problem.  When it comes to'd think I'd be a little more excited.  But after the 10th day of having salad twice a day, the enthusiasm, it tends to wain a bit. 

It's too bad that those veggies don't pace themselves out more.  I might be more happy to see them.  But none are more welcome than the snow peas.  Raw or cooked, we eat 'em up!
Adam approves the snow peas.

And the dirt. Again.  But isn't he just ridiculously cute?

And beets!  They are the size of baseballs, or even softballs.

At some point at the beginning of August, Aaron usually accuses me of being a hypothetical gardener and claims that he's doing all the work, and usually he's pretty much right.  So I step up my gardening and try to justify planting another one next year.  As much as I might get tired of the overflow (green beans at least 3 times a week for a month?  Um, SURE!), I love being able to go pick the veggies for dinner.  Plus, the carrots taste WAY better than store-bought.  Next year, I'm trying leeks.  No beets, though.

Maybe.  We'll see how I feel.


To what degree are you are gardener?  Apathetic, lukewarm, or fired up?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Things I wish my kids would learn:

Adam:  How to talk.  He could at least use the few basic signs we've been modeling for him the last 5 months.  This would be oh-so helpful, but since Ben didn't start talking until 2 yrs, I'm not holding my breath.
            How to hold his own cup.  The problem is that he's got his mother totally whipped into holding it for him about 95% of the time.  I've seen him do it himself, but if I'm at all in the vicinity, there's a bunch of "uh-uh"ing and even HOLDING THE CUP out to me.  So clearly those paws at the ends of his arms work just fine.

Ben:  This one would seem obvious - poop in the toilet - but I have to say that he has really improved!  In fact, over the past month, the only accidents have been when we were on vacation or had a babysitter that one time.  So basically, if we are at home and in his regular routine, he does great!  Now to work on those other occasions...

Leah:  My girl is so smart!  She's loving first grade, and now that we have started our carpool (another neighbor mom brings her home) so am I.  But she really needs to learn to tie her shoes.  And again, the fault lies mostly with her mother.

You see, when other parents were teaching their kids to tie their shoelaces, I was blithely buying sneakers with velcro and not really worrying about tying at all.  That was all fine until she need new shoes for tennis lessons this summer.  And there just wasn't a very good selection of decent athletic shoes in her size, much less a choice with velcro.  ALSO, Aaron has mentioned several times that those velcro shoes don't tighten up enough to stay securely on the foot (as demonstrated by both Leah and Ben losing their shoes on the soccer field).

So we got honest-to-goodness tennis shoes with laces.  And I did work with Leah a bit on tying, but she definitely never hit the mastery level.

Now Leah has gym class 2-3 times a week, and because it's a small gym that gets used for a lot of activities (like, EVERYTHING), the kids need to keep shoes at school so they are clean for gym class.

After the first day of gym, I asked what she did about her laces.  She said, "Well, Jordan tied one, and Caleb tied the other."  Oh dear.  The second day, her teacher tied them - and mentioned that she should learn to do it herself- and then Blake tied one in class that had come undone.

Clearly, we have a problem.  I pointed out that she really needed to learn to tie her shoes, and she offered a solution:  "I know how to tie knots!  Why can't I just tie a double knot?" Um, 'cause there would still be laces dragging on the floor.  "How about a triple knot?  Or a quadriple knot?"  Nice try.

Unfortunately for this particular step of independence, Leah has no pride issues about asking for help.  I said, "Wouldn't it be silly if you had to have another kid zip your coat for you?", and she answered, "Actually, I had to do that today because it was tricky!"

She gets away with this because she's so much smaller than the rest of the kids, I'm sure.  She tends to become a class pet.

One who need her shoes tied and her jacket zipped.  At least she brings her own food and is house-trained.

What step of independence do you remember learning?  When was it obvious that you (or your child) needed to learn that skill?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So far, all limbs are intact.

Friday was one of those days.

Sometimes Aaron comes home and asks, “So, what did you do all day?” And sometimes all I have to contribute is: “I kept three kids alive! Isn’t that enough?!”

But that day I would have to add, “I BARELY kept three kids alive.”

The list of victims started with Ben. We had overnight guests, including 2 boys. Ben and the boys were running around, of course, and at one point, Ben threw himself back onto the ottoman. Which happened to be pushed up against the fireplace hearth. His head made contact, crying ensued, and Mommy gave out hugs and kisses. A few seconds later, he was off running and playing again. Another few seconds later, and my palm was sticking to my keyboard… with blood. Is it bad that I first checked my white shirt before calling Ben back? The back of his head was bloody in an area about the size of my palm.

In one of my more genius parenting moments, I chose a dark colored washcloth to blott his hair, knowing that if he saw the blood, his crying (which had started again) would quickly turn to panic. After getting cleaned up, he seemed fine – I couldn’t find the cut, and it stopped bleeding on its own, so I figured that stitches wouldn’t be necessary.

We managed to get through the rest of the morning and naptime unscathed, but the day’s next victim was poor baby Adam. We were all outside, and he decided to take a stroll on the sidewalk. Unfortunately for him, I foolishly attempted to “help” him by holding his hand…which only prevented him from catching himself when he fell. One bloody lip was the result, but it quickly developed into a swollen lip worthy of many inquiries from an amazed father. “WHAT did you do? HOW HARD did he fall?!” I assured him several times that Adam had fallen from his own height – I hadn’t dropped or thrown him. Thankfully, a neighbor friend was there in case a witness is ever needed.
Oh, and he's cutting his two top canine teeth, hence the immense amount of drooling going on right now.  I'm not sure if the runny nose is related to teething or a separate symptom, but basically his face is oozing liquid 80 % of the day.  And apparently his face is mosquitoes favorite food.

Saturday we headed to the Cities to visit my brother, his lovely wife, and their 2 adorable boys, David (20 months) and Henry (2 1/2 months).  Needless to say, all three mobile boys quickly became best buds and bitter rivals.  Especially concerning a particular toy motorcycle, which was threatened with several time outs.

Sunday morning the injury streak started again, with Adam crashing down a couple of steps onto a hard floor.  The result was a bruise the size of a finger on the side of his face - MY finger.

Throughout the day, I kept insisting that it seemed to be fading and not getting too dark, based on my own experience that deeper bruises don't show up immediately, as Adam's did.  Aaron was doubtful, and continued to question my parenting skills.  I have to admit, my track record for the weekend did not look good.

Later Sunday morning, SIL Jess and I ventured to a park with all five children.  Within minutes, Ben pooped in his underwear.  Thankfully, there was a portapotty nearby, so we got him changed quickly.  After about a half hour of playing and snacks, the kids wanted to move over to the swingset.  As I hoisted Adam and all my gear (jackets, purse, diaper bag), Adam belched and up came some of the crackers.  Thankfully, that was pretty much all it was, but it managed to hit my pants, sweatshirt, and the diaper bag.  Lovely.

Monday morning I went to Super Target with Leah to pick up some shoes & leggings for her, and lunch for everyone. (If we had a Super Target here, I think I would buy myself California rolls on every visit.)

When I returned - which was NOT two hours later, as Aaron insisted, Adam had a NEW BRUISE on his face!  This time, an inverted V on his forehead.  Our guess was that he fell on one of the blocks he'd been carrying around.

As we drove home that afternoon, we'd glance back at Adam passed out, leaning forward in his seat against his straps, drool running down his chin, face covered in bruises and mosquito bites, and just marvel that we hadn't been to the hospital yet.

This is the kind of photo that is responsible for all those younger siblings out there:

Adam sat and "read" books while Henry played.

And this is what happens when the baby is removed.