Friday, August 28, 2009


If you know my kids, then these pics need no explanation. If you don't know them well, let me explain. Ava is a BOOKWORM! I like to say she often has her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. Each night she lays awake in her bed for a good hour after we've put her to bed, "reading" books. Once she's fallen asleep, I tiptoe into her room, gather atleast 10-15 books from her bed and the surrounding area and put them away. I snapped these pictures this week (one is during a nap). Typical Ava.

As I got Jax ready for bed, Ava patiently waited for me to read to her. She just couldn't wait any longer...

Jax, feels about food the way his sister feels about books. He loves it. Ava has recently become strong enough to open the refrigerator, yet seemingly too weak to close it ;) One day, Jax was far too quiet, so I went into the kitchen and this is what I found.
Typical Jax.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Our kids were definitely born with their own unique personalities.

From the moment Ava was born, she has been tender and emotional, happy and silly, yet pensive and focused. Even as a baby, she was so in tune with other people's emotions, always showing concern and knowing just when a smile or a cuddle was necessary. She's still that way. Her feelings are easily hurt, yet she is quick to forgive. She finds joy in the simplest things (dandelions, an ant carrying a piece of food, a newly-sharpened pencil). She remembers the tiniest details, like how many times a horse sneezed when she rode it several months ago, and often surprises us with the little memories she recounts. She'll do just about anything to make you laugh. And when she does, the joy that beams out of her face is just priceless.

She climbed into her baby doll crib then called us up to her room. We couldn't find her until we heard a giggle coming from the corner of her room. This is what we found! Goofball!

She has an imagination that seems too large to fit in her little body. Even from a young age, other parents and pediatricians told me just how developed her imagination was. I didn't realize because I was so used to it. I still am. But, now I recognize what a gift it is. I will often sit outside her room as she plays and just listen to the stories she comes up. From picnics in the park with her Care Bears to rescuing her princesses from a terrifying ogre, each story has a plot, plenty of excitement and, of course, a happy ending. More often than not, she never even realizes I've been watching her; she's too engrossed in her own little world. But, it's when she reads that we completely lose her. When she has a book in her hand, we don't even exist. Even though she can't technically "read" she knows the stories and what happens on each page, and while she can only pick out and sound out a few words, she uses her memory to fill in the rest.

Jax, on the other hand is all boy, always has been and, I'm sure always will be. He's fearless and mischievous, laid-back yet determined. He loves to cuddle and laugh, and absolutely adores his big sister. When Jax was a newborn the nurses in the hospital all commented on how good-natured he was. Fifteen months later, nothing has changed. It takes a lot to upset him. Sure, he gets frustrated if he can't fit a block in it's coordinating-shaped hole, but more often than not, he's smiling. He loves to be startled and to play chase, often starting the game by growling and attacking or running into the kitchen shrieking, hoping someone will come after him. Now that he can walk, nothing makes him happier than being outside. He loves to sit in the grass picking out individual blades, dig in the dirt and smoosh it between his fingers and bugs make him so happy!

Loves his dirt!

He is so aware of the noises and sights around him, often shouting "AIRPANE" and pointing to the sky long before we've seen or heard the plane. He climbs on everything, throws everything (the kid has a cannon) and will turn just about anything into a hammer and begin banging. He adores his big sister. When I get him out of his crib each morning, he immediately asks for her. He loves to play with her hair and follows her around everywhere. If Ava dances, Jax dances. When she goes upstairs, he goes upstairs. If Ava reads a book, so does her baby brother. It's cute just how much he loves her.

Ava paints, so Jax paints :)

He is definitely a Mama's Boy, though. On several occasions each day, he'll walk over to me plop himself on my lap and cuddle with me, patting my back and giving me sweet little kisses. He cries when I leave and bangs on the bathroom door when I'm in it (I'm hoping he'll grow out of that). His vocabulary is amazing. He often surprises us when, out of nowhere, he'll say a new word or mimic a word the first time we say it to him. He wants so badly to hold conversations with us (especially Ava) and tries so hard to do so.

Why this blog post today?

I've been a little overwhelmed lately. My business is keeping me more than busy and often allowing me to get only a few hours of sleep a night. There have, unfortunately, been a few days when I've had to work while the kids were awake; something I try with all my might not to do. I've felt like I'm slacking as a mother. Andy and friends assure me this isn't the case, however, I've set a certain standard for myself as a mom, and when I feel as if I'm not living up to that standard I can't help but be frustrated and a little concerned. I realized I, in the past few weeks, have slightly lost sight of what's important. And, in the hustle and bustle of designing, filling orders, packaging, repeat, I've also lost a little of myself.

When Ava was born, and I decided to leave my career and stay home with her, I became a new person. As trite as it sounds, it's true. I always thought my dream was to be a reporter. But, a teeny little girl helped me discover that my dream was to actually be a mom. She helped me find who I really am. Fast forward 26 months and Jax blessed our life, helping me to realize even more that the most important thing I can do in my life is be a mother. It's a big job. It's not glamorous, and there's no monetary pay. But, what I lack in glamour and fashion, is made up for in the smiles my kids wear on their faces. And while I'm not paid with money, I am overpaid with love and affection, laughter and memories.

Nothing is more important to me than my family. Nothing. While my business is a huge blessing, my husband and kids are even bigger blessings. So, today, I made a few changes. I decided that I WILL NOT work Sundays and Mondays. I won't even turn my computer on to check e-mails from customers, I won't work on orders. Sundays and Mondays are for my family. When the kids are sleeping (which is when I normally work) I will spend time with Andy, read, sew, clean; small and simple things, yet important to me. On "work days" (Tues-Sat.) I will work ONLY when the kids are sleeping. And when they're awake, my attention will be fully committed to them. I won't allow my mind to wander and make lists of all I have to accomplish or e-mails I have to answer. I will play with my kids, read to them, teach them, just be with them 100%. Before I begin work each night, I will go to the gym. And each month I will read atleast one book -- non-childrens :)

I know this blog may sound dramatic. But, I needed to write it. As moms we try to do it all. And it is so easy to lose sight of ourselves and what is truly important, even if just for an instant. But really, if you take a step back and evaluate, we CAN do it all. Because as mothers and wives, the most important thing we CAN do is love our families, make them our top priority. If we do that, everything else seems inconsequential. And doing it all, becomes a joy, rather than a pain.

Playing in the living room fort with Daddy

I wrote this blog to remind myself, and to let anyone who reads this know just how blessed I am. I have an amazing husband, who supports me in all that I do, and teaches me more each day than he will ever know. And best of all, he makes me laugh. Ava and Jaxon are wonderful. They are their own little people and I have an important responsibility to love them, teach them, guide them and nurture their unique little personalities, so they always know who they are and never lose themselves.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I have to brag. That's okay right? I think this merits some bragging.

Recently I bought Ava some educational games from a wonderful shop on Etsy called Second Story Window. Ava love, love, loves to play games so these are just perfect. They teach phonograms, basic reading skills 3-dimensional shapes, etc. Tonight we played one called "Reindeer Feed." To be honest, I always put that one at the bottom of the pile when I give Ava the option to choose her nightly game. I hope she'll find something else she'd like to play before she reaches that one. And, on every other night she has. But not tonight. It's not that the game isn't fun, I just thought it might be a little out of Ava's league, at least for now. But, she proved me wrong.

The gist of the game is this. There are two reindeer Rose and Ross. Each with a feeding trough in front of them. On dozens of "hay" cards are written single words. A player draws a card and determines if the vowel sound in the word is short or long. They then feed the hay to the appropriate reindeer (Rose = long, Ross=short). While Ava has known her ABC's and all the sounds each letter makes since 18 months, grasping short and long vowel sounds can be hard. So, before we began the game I went over the vowels with her (we've done this before) and the various sounds they make. The first few cards, I walked her through the sounds. But after that, she was on her own, pointing out the vowel(s) in each word and correctly determining which trough they went in. On a few cards, she even said, "Okay, there's an 'e' at the end of this word so the vowel says its name." Or, she'd sing a little song to remember the vowels, "A, E, I, O and UUUUUU."

I was so impressed by how quickly she caught on to this concept and that she really, truly understood it. I brings me such joy knowing just how excited she is to learn, and more than that, how excited she is to learn to read. Soon enough, soon enough.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ava's blanket

I'm finally getting this up. After I finished Jax's blanket and Ava's dress I moved on to Ava's blanket. Here's the finished product. I know it's nothing spectacular. But, for a beginning sewer like me, I gotta say, I'm pretty pleased.

I still need to make the pillow case, which I'll do Monday.


Buying shoes for kids is frustrating on so many levels. First of all, for some reason, my children seem to think that taking their shoes off in a store gives them free-range to run around like a couple of banshees. I think the naked feet make them feel, well, footloose and fancy free. Secondly, for being just three and 14 months, they are very opinionated regarding their footwear. Ava's shoes need to be pink or have pink on them. If pink is unavailable, she will accept bling of some sort (rhinestones, glitter, etc) or black church shoes. Negotiation is not an option. Jax on the other hand, must have velcro. He handed me a very loud "NO!" when I attempted to place shoes with laces on his feet. He likes to play with the velcro, and will often undo it, unbeknownst to his mother which leads us to a nice game of "Where in the store did Jax's shoe fall off?"

Jax is actually on his very first pair of REAL shoes. He's had the soft-soled baby kind and a pair of sandals, but despite my attempts, I have been unable to buy him shoes until now. You see, my son suffers from elephantitis of the feet, or so it seems. Those suckers are enormous! I have, until now, been unable to find shoes to fit his big, fat feet without being enormously long on him. But, now that he walks EVERYWHERE I decided I had to do something. And a kid can only go to church barefoot so many times. So, while perusing the shoe aisles at Target, I spotted a pair that were not only cute but seemed wide. I grabbed a size 4 and held the sole up to the bottom of his foot. Serious overhang. So, I went up to a 5, same thing. The 6 seemed about right, but when I attempt to shove his chunky feet in them, we couldn't make it past his toes. Frantically and a little bewildered I searched for a SIZE 7. With my fingers crossed I slid them on. They fit, like a glove. Then it hit me. My 14-month-old is in a SIZE 7 shoe! His big sister, who is a whole 26 months older than him wears an 8.5.

When I went to take the shoes off to place in our cart Jax yelled, "NO! DON'T!" I explained that we had to pay for them, but he could hold them. He cradled that pair of shoes the entire rest of the shopping trip and in his car seat on the way home. When we arrived home, I asked him where our shoes go and he very gently placed them in the shoe basket by the front door.

This was two weeks ago, but still, he cherishes those little shoes. He gets so excited to put them on and sometimes that's the first thing he'll do after he's done eating breakfast -- he'll go, grab his shoes and bring them to the nearest adult, throw them in said adult's lap and very politely say, "Ooshs." Then, he'll climb up into the shoe-putter-onners lap and bounce his legs with excitement. When the shoes are finally on, he paces around the house, looking down at his shoes most of the time. He loves the sound they make across the tile floor in the kitchen, and is sure to stomp his feet a little more when he's in there.

Bringing his "ooshs" to Daddy

Dancing in his ooshs

When it comes time to take his shoes off, he allows us to help him and then immediately, and very gently places them in the shoe basket. They are his prized possession. I think he knows they are his and completely his. They're the one thing in this house he doesn't have to share. Andy and I joke that he's kinda like Dobby the house-elf in "Harry Potter." For you non-HP readers, Dobby is basically a slave. The only way he can be freed from his slavedom is if he is his master gives him an article of clothing. At some point he is given a sock, which he then cherishes. Kinda like Jax with his shoes... minus the slave part.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mine Mama

Anyone who remembers Ava as a baby/toddler will remember just how attached to me she was. She rarely allowed anyone else to hold her and became very concerned if anyone got to close to me... including Andy. If Andy and I held hands, she'd rip our hands apart. If we hugged, she wiggle her way between us. As nice as it would have been to show my husband some affection in peace, I'll admit, it was nice to know just how loved I was.

Fast forward two years or so. Jax has been having some attachment issues. He's such an easy-going, friendly and super-social little guy. However, as of late, no one will do except Mama. Tonight, Andy and I tried to sneak a hug in in the kitchen while the kids played in the living room. But, lo and behold, Jax, sensing someone was touching his Mama walked into the kitchen, declared "Mine Mama!", pushed Andy away from me and then let out his mightiest "ROAR!" I feel so loved. I wonder how Andy feels :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Look What I Did!

I've made it my new mission to become more self-sufficient. Which means trying new things (see previous post on my gardening experience). Ava grows so darn quickly that it seems she wears a dress to church once or twice and, next thing you know, it's too short. Thank goodness for cute little leggings. If you've ever bought a little girl's dress you'll know they're not cheap. I take that back, buying one isn't bad. But when your child grows out of them as fast as Incredible Hulk transforms from a mild-mannered guy to a bulky, grean fighting-maching, well then... you can understand my dilemma. So, I decided to make her a dress. I started with the most simple one I could: a pillowcase dress. In all actuality, you're really supposed to make it from a pillowcase. But, I would like to know where in the world I'm supposed to find a cute pillow case, that I would be willing to chop up. Besides, I ordered this fabric from a lady on Etsy and desperately wanted to make the dress out if. So, Joni and I went to work finding a tutorial for making a pillowcase dress out of fabric. We found one. We tackled it. I made one for Ava, she made one for her little girl who will be born on the 17th (you're in single-digit days now, Joni!).

Here's the end result.

I gotta say, it wasn't nearly as frightening or difficult as I had anticipated. I actually really enjoyed it and have already ordered fabric to make other styles. Cost-wise it's much more effective. I love saying I made the dress she's wearing and Ava LOOOOVES choosing fabric! It's a WIN WIN WIN.

I had actually originally gotten my sewing machine out to make a blanket for Jax. I know, it's summer and he doesn't really need one. But I figure winter will sneak up on us in no time and I better be prepared. The little dude has a vintage baseball-themed room and when I saw this fabric I fell in love with it!

Please excuse the wrinkles, Jax had been napping on it just a few minutes prior to the picture.

This is the back. Check out the top seam... get it, it's shaped like baseball stitching. Thank goodness for Joni who is a much better sewer than I. She helped me map out the top stitch and even said nice things when I did dumb things! That's a real friend!! :)

Yes, the sewing machine is still out. I have to make Ava a new blanket with this fabric:

I also have fabric for her curtains, but that will go to the back burner once the new dress fabric arrives.

I think I've found my newest obession!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I tend to kill things. Most of my childhood animals died untimely deaths. Some from improper care (apparently frogs can't have tap water), others from food chain issues (hamster escaped, dog ate hamster) and some from heat exposure (RIP, Jenny the Bunny). In college I attempted numerous times to care for plants. Yet, even those were reduced to dried out, wrinkly corpses of what used to be lush greenery. So, one can imagine my hesitation when Andy and I decided to plant a garden this year. I've heard it's not rocket science and anyone can do it. But, I'm not anyone, I am apparently Death. However, Ava jumped on board the garden idea, and I'll admit, I was pretty excited at the possibilities. So, we did it. The kids and I chose a few plants to try out this year. I didn't want to go all out, just in case. I wasn't prepared to expose my children to their mother's innate plant murdering abilities.

Ava and I knew we wanted tomatoes. She eats them like candy and I had heard there's nothing better than a homegrown tomato. We chose Better Boys, because that's what the man at the nursery suggested. Who was I to argue? I bet he'd never killed an innocent plant. Ava suggested we also buy cherry tomatoes so she could "pop them" in her mouth and strawberries. Three plants sounded good to me. So, we took them home, potted them and I crossed my fingers.

Within a week, the large tomato had grown quite a bit and several new tomatoes had sprouted. I was feeling good. But, I didn't want to get cocky. So, I still just watched and waited. Ava, took right to the gardening thing and made it her daily responsibility to water all the plants. I must say, she's been great! I rarely have to remind her, usually, she heads right out, grabs her pink watering can and gives the plants a little drink. Sometimes, it's more like a dunking, but hey, you can never have too much water, right?

We bought the plants in early June. By mid-July, our first "red ripe tomato" (as Ava describes them) was ready for the picking. I could hardly contain myself and wanted to nab that juicy ball of tomato-y goodness, dip it in gold and display it for all to see that I, the self-proclaimed killer of all things living, had successfully grown a tomato. But alas, I resisted and allowed Ava to do the picking. That night, in honor of our tomato, I changed the dinner menu and we had BLTs. Those were the best BLTs I'd ever had. Normally, I like tomatoes, but I'm not a freak about them. However, this tomato I would have eaten whole like an apple.

The kids and I have been waiting patiently for the next tomato to ripen. And by patiently, I mean that we go outside every day and inspect each tomato on our vine, checking for any signs of color change. Jax, I assume, just couldn't wait and decided a green tomato was good enough for him. As we played outside one day, he picked one, walked up to me, held out his treasure and said, "Ball!" Fortunately, all was not lost. The tomato was close enough to ripening that after a few days on the counter it was ready to eat. And finally, this week, the rest have begun ripening. I assume that by early next week we'll have 10 ripe tomatoes for the picking.

Our little cherry tomatoes didn't do so well. We got two tomatoes from the plant. Both of which Jaxon picked prematurely. Oh well, we'll see what happens next year. The strawberry plant is growing quite well, but I'm told it often takes a season to get any fruit. So, we're keeping our fingers crossed for some strawberry jam to take with us to Mississippi next year.

It's been so wonderful watching my kids get excited about our little "garden." Ava thought it needed some color, so we went to the nursery just a few weeks ago (the same day we picked our first tomato) and I let her choose several flowers, which we went home and planted together (Jax helped dig, find earthworms and ate some dirt). Then, while at the farmers market Thursday, we picked up mint and basil plants, and have already enjoyed some fresh mint lemonade.

While the fruits of our labors are a great reward, for me, the best part is the responsibility Ava has learned. She takes such wonderful care of the plants and I can see the sense of accomplishment on her face when she picks her tomatoes. While Jax is young and doesn't completely understand, he still likes to help. Often, when we're outside he'll bring Ava's watering can to me and say, "Wawa" (water), asking me to fill it for him so he can water the plants just like his big sister. More than anything, I think he likes the popsicles that come after we've spent some time in the garden.

Now that I know I can have a successful garden, I look forward to taking on some new vegetables next year and maybe adding a few more each year. I want my kids to grow up having a garden and the responsibility, excitement and delcious food that comes from it!