Danielle the Decorator.

For Christmas Danielle got some kid kitchen tools. She loves to cook with me and she is so darling. So today when she asked we made a cake with the star cake pans my sister in law Kathryn gave me a while ago. Danielle was very good at mixing the cake up- even though she was a little disappointed that she didn't get to roll it out with the kid roller.
Then came the decorating. She put whipped cream on it and blueberries. I meant to ask John to buy three little packages of blueberries but I asked him to buy three pinks of blueberries instead- which is a lot of blueberries. So we used a lot of them. And of course topped it with about ten million pounds of red sanding sugar. Just a little fourth of July goodness in December. Danielle said she loved it but really wished she could have made a bigger one. We've been storing the pans in the box they came in, which features a three layer cake with blueberries and strawberries.
After we made the cake we ate it. and I threw away that stupid box.


Merry Christmas!

First of all did I mention this year we finally found the perfect tree topper? I am in love with it. So Christmas was destined to be perfect.

I think there is nothing more rewarding than having kids at Christmas time. Everything we got Danielle was just what she wanted. She was so happy with her presents. Even her winter boots that we wrapped up were just what she wanted. She was pretty happy about the wall art I made her from the Rapunzel fabric she picked out. and the Rapunzel dishes and dress up clothes. She likes everything. I like that I can wrap up her winter clothes and she thinks Santa has been generous. Danielle came down the stairs after our upstairs breakfast and asked to open her stocking. darling. Mark went straight for the big present. We wanted Santa to bring the kids one big present- a ride on powered car. Then I wanted it to be good for both kids to I got a blue one. I looked all over for the best deal and finally bought it on Black Friday. I couldn't wait for Danielle's reaction. Then it came- Danielle went for the big reveal, saw the car, and asked to open her stocking. She said- "baby Mark loves his car." HIS CAR. that's right. The powered ride on is Mark's. He climbed right in and claimed it for his own. Since then Mark has been carrying things he likes to the car and storing them there. The put all his candy from his stocking in the car. Danielle showed him some of the buttons but calls it Marky's car.

Mark kept coming back to climb on different parts of his car. He got stuck once but then he got free so he was OK.
I guess that's OK since we didn't get Mark much of anything else. Turns out Mark is the unlucky kid. Every family has one- in my family every year Claire would get money in addition to her presents- because they realized the night before that she didn't have as much as anyone else. Mark pretty much got some candy in his stocking and a toothbrush and shoes. And presents from other people. We got him one thing-a kid computer. He loved that present. He always tries to steal the laptop so I thought we should get him his own. HOURS OF FUN. I like the deep transformer voice asking him to pick a game. Mark seemed very concerned about getting a comfortable chair.
Danielle was thrilled with how many books she got- and her Rapunzel stuff. We talked about baby Jesus and I'm not sure if she knows who is better- Christ or Santa Claus. Do children ever ask if Jesus is real when they lean that Santa isn't? this seems like a difficult topic.

of course right now Danielle likes playing princesses and loved all her Rapunzel stuff so maybe I don't have to worry about it too much. She knows that the witch wasn't actually Rapunzel's mother after all...

I loved this Christmas. I loved my presents and the whole day was great and best of all I loved my kiddos! Whoever said I wish I was Santa Claus was right. I loved it. I also learned that Danielle never stays still, so we don't have as many pictures of her. I tell her I am going to take her picture and she starts running around in circles. Can't so much capture that.

Less awesome- my struggling camera not wanting to get the kids in focus. It's hard to tell kids that they need to sit still so you can get a picture that may or may not be in focus. It's especially discouraging since baby Mark smiles so infrequently to begin with. I'm so frustrated my camera is supposed to be nice :-(

We took the kiddos to the Jewish Deli for our new Lunch Christmas Tradition. It was the sabbath though (which I felt a little guilty about) so they couldn't cook on the grill. I had a BLT (with beef) and John had what he said was the best Reuben he's ever had. Mark loved his food, especially that we let him eat the black and white cookie on the way home when Danielle didn't want it. You might think we feed our children only junk food- but hey- It's Christmas!


Merry Christmas Eve.

I love Christmas Eve. We made cookies and read the story of Jesus' birth and then picked a spot for our stockings and opened one present. The kiddos loved their new pajamas and Danielle loved the princess shoes Mark picked out for her (with a free ten dollar Kohl's coupon I might add). Mark got the book "Good Night Gorilla." He carried it around for a long time and loves it. Then he loved one of the cookies we made for Santa. Danielle drew Santa a picture of himself and the sippy cup Mark"wants." She helped us write Santa a letter.
Sometimes her prayers are a little bit like her requests to Santa- we told her that Santa gives kids presents for Jesus' birthday. Now she wants to know what kind of cake we are making for Jesus.
Good question.


Home Again Home Again

well given extra time Danielle likes to ask to visit Eddy and Maya and Lucy and Aida. She loves playing with them. so we went to New Jersey so she could see her best friend ever- Eddy. Also it's a little weird when she calls my uncle dad but I'll get over it some day. And Mark and Sara have the coolest bathroom ever. That's all I'm saying.

On the way home we stopped at the dinosaur museum- the Museum of Natural History in Philadelphia. The kiddos loved it. While John was paying at the kiosk I tried to capture a picture of the kids on a bench. Mark was not pleased.

What he was pleased with was the Mark sized automatic faucet in the bathroom. Danielle loved the butterflies- at first she was quite frightened that she was going to step on one and kill it. So frightened she didn't want to move. Maybe we overstressed that lesson. We was also really good at practicing her crocodile walk.

Speaking of frightening Danielle was quite frightened of the tyrannosaurus rex. She told everyone that they walked on two foots. She told the girls that were preserving a new fossilized dinosaur that. And the security guard. and a random stranger she wanted to go home with. at the end of the day we got home and she got to watch dinosaur Dan. She wasn't quite sure why the dinosaurs at the museum weren't just like the one's in the show, but I think she loved it anyway.


6 Years

Did I mention that John and I had our anniversary yesterday? We went out to lunch while we were visiting Mark and Sara. I was super sick with a cold so we decided not to celebrate until a little later. No one wants to have a snot nose at their wedding, or their anniversary.
I still can't believe I am married. It is nice. also nice- a laid back anniversary where I get to sleep a lot and Danielle gets to play with Eddie.
6 years! That's longer than high school. I loved my wedding. and I love John.


Nuttybars For Everyone

Just like their mother, My children think the world would be a better place with Nutty bars. For everyone. Mark saw a box and started dancing around the kitchen. and yelling. He quickly called Danielle over to share in the glory. He offered them them to all of us.
Oh our little Marker- a food pusher already.


Sunday Thoughts

I don't think the perfect mom would be having a meltdown right now about her daughter not sleeping. She would just rock the sad child back to sleep with a lullaby. Her three year old child would obediently go to bed at eight and also take an early afternoon nap. If you guys don't start sleeping soon I don't know what will happen, but it won't be good.

I was talking to my sister the other day about some moms she knows who tell her she will have kids as soon as she isn't afraid of them anymore. They ask her if she realizes "the church" meaning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints tells you to have children. They remind her that as a working woman, she has no idea what it is like to be busy and tired. My sister questioned why all these women were so unhappy with their lives. Their husbands- their children.
I love my children so much, but I feel like having children is the hardest thing I've ever done. I never thought I would just wish for it to be easy- to stop feel like I am fighting for control of my own sanity.
After Danielle was born I found myself crying a lot. For hours a day I would sit there and cry after the baby went to sleep or when she was awake. Almost all the time when I was alone. I felt like all my worst fears had come true. I couldn't breastfeed. I was so tired. I wasn't going to work. I was fat. She wouldn't stop screaming at me. She had reflux and seemed to always be angry with me. She didn't let me feed her rice cereal. She kept throwing up on me. I remember wondering if I would always feel so empty inside. I hated all the moms that told me how easy having just one child was. then I moved to a place where some of the moms at church had sick kids.
I feel like those sick children changed how I felt about motherhood. I would be terrified if my child died. Maybe I started coming out of the tunnel of sadness with the help of some great anti-depressants. I never bonded with my baby. I knew I wouldn't do anything to hurt her and would take care of her needs, but it was hard to talk to moms about how great it was to have children. I never wanted to admit that I wished I was dead but I didn't want to do anything about it because that would make me an irresponsible mother. I'm glad I got professional help to start to feel like I was alive again.
My first labor was terrible. I wanted to have another baby. To prove to myself that I could do it. People started telling me that two wasn't hard, three was.
Having baby Mark changed everything. I've never been so tired. Staying up for a few months in a row will really make you crazy I'm convinced. Mark tried to stay up all night and sleep during the day. But he took a bottle for a few weeks while I tried to figure the breastfeeding/pumping thing out and then he switched back to breastfeeding. He let me feed him. He LOVED me. I immediately felt like I loved this baby more than anything, in an intense way I thought must be a hormone released in new mothers and maybe more in breastfeeding new mothers. I have no idea what it was, but it made me feel terrible. Because I didn't have it the first time. I just felt lost. I filled my emptiness up with cute little dresses and matching shoes. This time was different. I was connected to Mark but still sad. I never anticipated waking up with children and forgetting who I was. What I loved to do. When Mark was a week old I sat in his room in the middle of the night and cried about how easy he seemed. Then I cried because I had grown to love Danielle but wondered if she would ever forgive me for not loving her immediately.
I'm different now. But I'm also still the same. I've had an easier time deciding the commit to the care of my children than I've had feeling alive. I tried not to blame my religion for telling me motherhood is a holy calling. I knew I shouldn't blame my children. I tried not to blame my husband for being busy and emotionally exhausted with school. I tried not to blame my mom for not coming to help since she was sick. I tried not to blame the church ladies for saying they would love to help but never doing anything. Except Paula.

I'm grateful for my friends. I think they saved my life. After Mark was born I remember feeling horrible and having Melissa from the med school come over and watch the kids while I slept. She cleaned my whole house. Sarah watched the kids and I went to the dentist. Melissa came again when I was sick with a breast infection. Holly came and John and I went on a date to the grocery store. Best date ever. Melissa watched them again. I have no idea how she can clean any house in 30 minutes and keep the children happy, but those kind of skills might be why she's in medical school. Then Carlie came and watched the kids and I went to the gym and took a nap every day for a week. At the end she probably felt like dying but I felt like I was a person again.

I feel really sad about how hard it is to have depression after having kids. To feel like you are lost somewhere in a sea of what you wanted your life to be and what other people say. When I became a mother I didn't understand the lost feelings at the beginning of the day, or the anger I suddenly had. Taking anti-depressants made it possible for me to love my daughter and start to feel alive again.
I know in the end I will make it though unbroken. I will know who I am and love my children. I will be a different person. I don't know if I will always live under the cloud of depression that I've carried since my first pregnancy. I don't know if I will ever weigh what I did before I had Danielle (Oh wait- yes I do and I will.) I didn't know what to tell my sister when talked about those mothers who hurt her feelings. I don't always know if I will be able to fit in to my religion as a mother who doesn't feel that holy or fulfilled. But I know that I will always be a mom and I will never give up on them. I know that even if I am broken inside and lost, I can pick up the pieces and start over again.

I love the people who helped me,
including my little kiddos.


Dear Friend: Happy Birthday

Dear Friend,

I just wanted you to know that I am planning to ship your birthday present today. I know that your birthday was yesterday. To celebrate your birthday I found a box to mail your present in. Then I wrapped your Christmas present. I decided to mail them together. You know which one is for your Birthday because it isn't wrapped. That wouldn't fit in the box. Actually it probably would but in the frenzy of preparing the package I didn't want to venture into the cold basement where the wrapping paper is. I predict that by the end of the week the basement will be warmer, since we are getting carpet down there and some heaters. Well maybe some heaters if we buy them.

Not that I'm making excuses. I hope you are still accepting presents. I actually accept presents year round FAMILY, so I think you will too. Even though I'm pretty sure you sent me my present on time.

Also you should know that my husband's family is still waiting for their birthday presents this year. Do you think it is rude to wrap them in Christmas paper and write on them "happy birthday" with a Sharpie marker? I love sharpie markers- I want some of them in my stocking this year. Since I waited until December to purchase a years worth of Birthday presents they probably won't be that great. Also technically I think this is his fault- and not just because everything in our marriage that goes wrong is his fault (we worked that little bit out before we got married, a wife is there to nag and everything is the huband's fault.) They are his family so I mentally decided he was in charge of them this year- since he forgets to remind me of his mom's birthday sometimes. His dad gets a calendar from us every year since he asked us to make him one and his parents are divorced so mom isn't on the calendar. The first year we were married I "forgot" her birthday because he did. After that one year of embarrassment when I forgot to send the present in time I've decided to make my own calendar. Luckily now I'm facebook friends with his mom. Also I guess not shipping presents is a real habit of mine, because that has happened too. Then the people come see the present I was going to give them and I don't want them to think it's some cast off present, so it stays in my presents to be shipped bin. I actually have Thomas trains from two years ago for my nephews. I think they might have been part of that whole Chinese lead pant recall though plus I'm sure my nephews don't still use them so they are also in the bin.

Anyway I just wanted you to know when you open your present the Birthday gift isn't wrapped which I thought was appropriate since your birthday is over. Plus there is no card. I duct taped the box shut before I remembered to go get one. Also in the freezing basement.

Should I ship it separate?

Just want you to know you aren't off the hook for my birthday next year, and I'm sorry for delaying your birthday package thus making your December birthday even closer to the dreaded birthday destroyer Christmas.

Love ya- happy birthday a while ago




Our blog is finally ready for Christmas- and our Christmas tree is up. We decided to only put up some of our ornaments this year. We also didn't put any of the ornaments on the lower branches of the tree. We've discovered exactly how high baby Mark can reach.

Merry Christmastime from my family to yours. Since my children stay up until past midnight and sleep past eleven I'm hoping they are able to sleep in Christmas Eve. I'm sad that we will have new years eve traditions because Danielle probably won't be able to sleep. Danielle loves Christmas.

I do too. I need to finally sew up my adventscalendar but it is living in my freezing cold basement. So cold. I can't go down there anymore. Actually when it gets really cold I don't even want to leave my bed. My bed is so warm and loving.

Mark likes to cuddle with all the blankets I make for my etsy shop and he wants to be the center of attention. He loves to sit on the canvas board and let me take pictures of him. He wants to climb on things- he can move Danielle's seat and climb on to the kitchen table. He is helping us get ready for Christmas- also by carrying ornaments that he can get ahold of around. He wants all the ball ornaments.

What have you done to get ready for Christmas and what do your babies want?


Remember November

I miss November. It was not as cold as December is. I remember it being colder last year and I dread the cold. Last year our heating bills were so high that I wanted to die. I resolved not to have our house be very hot. Lucky for me it was warm in November so we didn't have to use a lot of heat. Danielle and I spent at least an hour doing yard work every day while Mark was asleep in the morning. Suddenly Winter has come. Luckily Danielle and I finished building our flower beds before the ground froze. We had a lot of time to plant the bulbs that were 75 percent off the price. We built two new flower beds. I'm hoping to have raised beds around the yard and use them for a garden when we live here- then when we move I can just plant flowers in them. I love raised flower beds because they are easy to work with.
Danielle collected rocks from all over the yard and we built a rock path. I leveled corner of the yard that was made up of yard rubble from the bricks and fence and sandbox problems.

Danielle has her own wheelbarrow. She loves it. She helps me carry things. She was very proud of our little path and the rocks. Austin was very happy to play with us.

and now our little flower bed is covered in a little bit of snow. and it is so windy. Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons here in Pennsylvania. I wonder how winter will be.


Sunday Thoughts: Marriage

My brain doesn't work right when I have a tension headache. Today I was talking to a girl at church who said she was about to get divorced. She said that she had been dating a guy who was close to getting his temple recommend then got married and realized he still smoked. She has a young baby and was very sick while she was pregnant. Her husband couldn't care for her so she went to stay with her parents. Now she doesn't want to go visit him for Christmas and he isn't getting leave. She seemed discouraged. I was sad for her.
I was also a little bit confused. Not because I doubted that she was unhappy- but because I wondered if you should stop trying if your spouse refuses to give up smoking or come to church. I don't doubt that in this woman's situation her relationship isn't good- especially after talking to her more. I just thought of how she wanted to explain her divorce by the fact that her husband says it's impossible to be in the military and mormon. As if him not wanting to be Mormon was a reason in itself. (this was not her entire story but I got sidetracked by that idea). I wonder if that is true for some people. Would you leave someone if they had different religious views that you did? If they refused to give up an addiction or smoking or friend? If you felt like they were a bad example for your children? I wonder how much that plays into someone's happiness or love. I've talked to a few women lately who have husbands with addictions. I wonder how I would feel if my husband came to me and told me he didn't want to be Mormon anymore. What if he wanted to start drinking? Do people who aren't Mormon think about things like this- if your spouse changed religions and you disagreed do you think it would destroy your marriage? If you are non religious are there behaviors that would destroy your relationship? I think it would be interesting to ask people because everyone seems to have different values.
I don't know why this one part of the conversation stuck out so much. Maybe because I didn't relate to her situation very much. I don't know anything about the military and marriage- I have a cousin that got married and her husband got deployed. He contacted her and asked for divorce and she never really found out why. I also have another cousin who seems quite happily married to a man in the military. It wasn't just about the military but about what a marriage "deal breaker" is.
What would be a marriage "deal breaker" for you- or do you have any?