I saw this fun link up on a couple of other blogs and thought I'd join in on the fun! Hopefully it will encourage me to read a little faster since my goal is to read more books than I did the year before. At the rate I'm going, I'll never catch up...life as a mom I guess?
I can't believe I waited as long as I did to read this book. It was truly wonderful and extremely interesting. It is set in Mississippi in the 1950's and examines the different types of relationships white families had with their "help". A budding writer decides to secretly start writing a book from the helps perspective admist the civil rights movement. I cried and laughed while reading it and it was quite thought provoking.
I am fascinated by anything to do with WWII and after reading so many rave reviews I thought this book would be a sure winner. The author alternates chapters between a little Jewish girl during the war and a young American woman living in present day Paris. The beginning of the book made my heartache with pain and I couldn't wait to read what came next. I found that the present day chapters continuously slowed the pace down and eventually towards the end my interest started to fizzle out. It is still a decent read though.
Yesterday my friend and fellow blogger Heather, Ethan and I ventured out to Amish Country in Ethridge, TN as part of our Tour of Tennessee project. The main stop of the day was The Amish Country Mall, home of "The best fried bologna sandwich".
After an hour and a half drive we were hungry and and ready for anything. Unfortunately The Amish Country Mall wasn't so ready for us. It was closed along with several other Amish locations as well.
An Amish holiday I suppose?
Darn....I really wanted a fried bologna sandwich. You can't find those just anywhere!
We were off to a very bad start seeing as how that was the majority of our plan for the day.
Let's just say there's not much to do in Ethridge, TN but we decided to make the best of it and do our own thing. We stopped in a local store and asked for a good place to eat since that was the top priority. They suggested Rick's BBQ or Mashall's Deli both of which were right up the road.
We decided BBQ would be the best fit, but discovered it was a gas station chain restaurant. We decided that we needed to do something a little more local. So Marshall's Deli it was...
...which was also a gas station.
Yikes this was not turning out as planned. We laughed it off, took a deep breath and went inside.
The sign said it was built in 1982 and I don't think a thing has changed since! They had everything from kitty litter to holographic Jesus pictures in that place. Dust a mile high. I don't think they have sold a thing since they opened.
Onwards we went to the back of the store where the "restaurant" was. It also happened to be a video store (VHS mind you) and a pool hall. We bravely ordered a hot ham sandwich for me, a BBQ sandwich for her, an order of fries to split and two drinks. The total was $8. At least lunch was cheap!
It was actually good. We are both still alive to talk about it. I consider it a success.
Next stop....Wagon Tour.
Another sign explained that it was a "heated" wagon tour. It was 90 degrees out. I didn't get it. Turns out the Wagon Tour was an hour and a half long. We are on day number 3 of project elimination paci and I knew my ass wasn't getting on a wagon with a potentially screaming baby and no escape route. I'm not that brave. Plus I like my AC...if you want to know the real reason.
So we got a map and headed out on our own.
We were told to follow the map which listed the names of all the Amish households along with the products they each sold. See the Amish don't sell things in stores...you have to drive up to their house and get what you want. They also had signs posted along the way so you could find what you wanted. They left a sign out in front of their house as well so you knew if they were "open" or not.
We were also told not to take pictures of the Amish people. It's against their religious beliefs to have their photos takes so we were careful to abide by their rules. My goal was to buy Jam and maybe something pickled. You can't go to Amish country and not buy anything!
The problem was...I was scared to drive up to someones house I didn't know and just show up on their front porch. Also...I wasn't sure if I knew proper Amish etiquette and the last thing I wanted to do was offend these very reserved people. Knowing me my nervousness would make me act "extra friendly" and probably scare them off.
We drove around for hours just taking in the sights. Every time we approached a home that sold jam we would slow down and look at each other and shake our heads. The drive way was too long, it doesn't look like anyone is home, what if we don't like what they have...we can't just show up and then say "no thanks" and drive on.
We were chickens.
We finally found the perfect one...sold jam, close to the road, kids outside, products on the porch instead of a shed. This was it. Time to put on the big girl panties. We drove up waved, got no return wave, and walked up to their porch and picked out what we wanted. Finally the kids came up to the porch and we told them what we wanted.
Thankfully it had been explained to us that the children grow up speaking German instead of English. We were also told that they tried to keep themselves as separated from society as possible (which explained the no wave or friendly chatter). Keeping that in mind we said little and spoke slowly.
There were about 5 kids on the porch. They stared at us in our probably scandalous clothing and we looked at them in their what we consider very conservative clothing. I felt like I was in another country, an alien from another time. We paid for our Jam and Pickled Okra and headed back to the car.
We did it.
It was a great experience and an eye opening one as well. The Amish are nice, reserved, and talented. I would purchase from them again and next time I won't be quite as nervous.
She just recently started blogging and came up with a great idea to do a Tour of Tennessee (our home state). The one we have lived in our entire lives. The one we have neglected to fully experience. Isn't it funny how you can ...
Tour of TN - Rock City. If you haven't noticed, I tend to not be able to just sit at home on the weekends. It always seems we have some kind of plans and if we don't I usually try to come up with something fun to keep us busy.
...that's how long I'm giving me and Ethan to give up the pacifier. I started this process accidentally the week before our vacation. I forgot to give him his paci at nap time and guess what....he didn't care. SWEET! So the next nap time we also went paci-less with a little crying. That's okay, this is new. I still let him have it in the car, while we were out, and for night time sleep. I decided that I'd get rid of it in phases. Before vacation we were napping paci free. I thought I was golden.
Then we went on vacation.
Of course he had it all the way down there. I gave it to him at nap time because he was in a new location, off schedule, and in a new crib. The paci free nap times were forgotten...until this weekend and I decided it was time to give it up again. It was so easy the last time right? It shouldn't be any different this time.
Wrong, wrong, wrong! I thought I'd start back with just going without it at nap times again. There was more crying this go around and every time he saw the paci he'd grab it like it was something he couldn't live without.
Somehow I made him MORE attached to the paci.
So, yesterday I made the decision that we were going to have to cut it out.....completely. Oh God, what have I done? That means no paci in the car, at the grocery store, in restaurants....
So I decided to try this out...see if I could handle it. We went on a paci free errand trip. To the drugstore, to the grocery store, to the bank. Easy peasy...I'd even accidentally pinched him with the shopping cart cover belt at the grocery store and we recovered with no problems. I had to fight my instinct to instantly shove that paci in his mouth (yeah I brought it just in case...I'm not totally crazy).
I had to hide it from myself. You see the thing about pacis is that it's not just the baby that gets attached to it. It's also the parents. It makes things easier. Less crying, more sleep, less public embarrassment. Good for everyone. So I've hidden them from myself. And yeah, I can do that because lets face it...the mommy brain allows me to forget everything like where my keys are, when the last time I showered was, and if I paid the bills...so hiding the paci...no problem.
So we get back to the house for the second nap time and we go through the crying routine again. I'm okay with "crying it out" for a few minutes. It pains me...it does, but I'm doing this for his own good. I go in there and rub his back, rock him, turn on his seahorse and start the crying process over a couple of times. Finally he settles down. I go in there to check on him just to make sure everything is okay and that he is finally sleeping and I find this...
He swiped a paci off the side table. Apparently that one did not make it into the hiding place. Here's where we encounter problem number two...
He learned to crawl between vacation and now which makes him 5 thousand times more curious, more mobile, and more challenging. We moved his crib down just in time for him to learn to pull up on the bars. Well guess what.....he doesn't know how to get down.
I tried to put lay him back down, paci and all. He was smart enough to retrieve it. I couldn't bring myself to take it away. I have to admit I was sort of impressed. He wouldn't sleep though and he was definitely tired. So I laid down with him in my bed with the tv on so maybe he would at least rest since my husband wasn't getting home until late and we all know what happens after 5......fussy baby chaos time. Rest was needed...for us both.
Now for night time sleep. My kid normally goes right to sleep..no problems for the most part. I broke it to my hubby that we were cutting the paci completely. We did the crying routine again. I was exhausted by this point but I know from previous experiences with Ethan that usually 3 days is all it takes to get him used to something and the first day is always the worst. He finally went to sleep...everything seemed good.
Around midnight he woke back up and he was NOT happy. I rocked him, turned his seahorse on...let him cry for a few minutes and went back in. He was STANDING in his crib. Again, he couldn't get back down. We had to start the process again....and again...and again.
All I could think was what a terrible mother I was. I'm a mean person. He's just a baby. I should just give it back to him. Enter overworked husband...."why are we doing this again?" "He's only 7 months old Laura" "I thought we were just doing nap times".
I left him with Ethan and I went downstairs to pout and take a breather. Michael came back down about 10 minutes later and Ethan was asleep. "You know you just ruined all the process I made today" I said. That's when he told me...he didn't even have a paci in. Miracle worker I tell you.
We are an hour into the first morning nap of today and I have a sleeping boy. The first 30 minutes...cry, rock, seahorse, repeat. It was easier though. So, maybe we are making progress.
Now, I know everyone has their different opinions on this pacifier topic so let me go ahead and get this out there...I'll respect your decision for your child, please respect my decision for mine.
Ten years ago I was 17 and on the brink of entering my senior year of high school. I had just become captain of my high school cheerleading squad and thought pep rallies and half times were life or death. I was involved in several school clubs including student council and was also on a competition squad made up of girls from our county and several surrounding counties as well. As far as actual school went, I was in all honors classes, but it wasn't really my cup of tea. I didn't know how to study and I was the kind that needed to.
I'd have a crash course in that two years later.
I was uptight and probably had stomach ulcers from stress. I didn't drink. I thought I would make mistakes that I wouldn't want to own up to. Later I found out I was right. I didn't smoke...anything. I thought I would like it too much. I didn't curse. In general I tried to not do things I shouldn't. The only trouble I got into involved two speeding tickets.
Oh the days of innocence.
I had a couple of girlfriends but for the most part I liked to hang out with the guys. The soccer team more specifically. Girls didn't really interest me. I wasn't into field parties, or trying to flirt with all the guys. I was too blunt and honest to have many girlfriends. I wasn't into petty nonsense. Not that girls didn't like me, they did (as far as I know), I just didn't put forth much effort.
I wish someone had told me how important women would be later on in life.
I was surrounded by a circle of guy friends and one close girlfriend. My house was the hangout house, mostly because we had a pool and a playroom. They showed up pretty much everyday during the summer and every weekend during the school year. They were the kind of friends where you didn't have to say a thing if something was wrong...they knew. It was nice having a close group of friends around at all times. The kind where one look could tell you the whole story.
Sometimes I miss those days.
I had a car (a gold Saturn two door), but I didn't drive much. I had guy friends for that. I still prefer to not drive to this day (unless it's a long trip...for some reason I like driving then). If I was driving, I was probably carting around my little sister who was two years younger than I and her best friend. They would both sit in the front seat half out the passenger side window, half hanging out the sunroof. They would drive me nuts. It's a miracle I didn't have a wreck. They were so exhaustingly happy and adventurous.
Three years later, I'd be wondering what happened to that happy go lucky sister of mine.
I had a couple of boyfriends, but only one that really stole my heart. He tasted like Winterfresh gum and smelled like Curve. He was two years younger than me (apparently I have a thing for the younger ones) and made my life a hell of a lot more interesting. We were off and on, passionate, and stupid. We stayed up late on MSN chat and sent countless emails and notes back and forth. Oh, the days of high school. I of course thought he was the one, but it wasn't meant to be.
He wouldn't live past 23.
One of my best friends was a guy. Someone who I told all my secrets to, brought me breakfast on summer days, and listened to me cry about my boyfriend who was his best friend. We would spend hours and hours on the phone. If he was driving, drunk or both, I was the one he called. I thought we would be friends forever. I was too stupid to know that he wanted more than I did.
Somethings aren't meant to last.
My friends and I hung out by the pool for most of the summer. I was brown as a biscuit, skinny as could be and fit too. God, I miss that body! One summer I bet we saw every single movie that came out at the theater. We all met up after school and ate at random restaurants (of course you had to reload with food before all the practices and games began). Oh the days of metabolism! The boys all did things they weren't suppose to, sometimes I tagged along, but mostly they saw me as a mother hen who they tried to hide it from because they knew I would give them crap about it. We constantly rode along the back roads that were behind my house. We would talk about our drama and listen to DMB.
DMB still brings me back every time and I'm thankful for that.
There are times when I wish I could go back to these days. Especially when the weather is warm out and my life seems a little mundane. I sometimes wonder if I would have done things differently if I knew what I know now. I'd like to say no for the most part. But, I would have stopped wishing for the clock to speed up, stopped counting down the days before I escaped my little town, and most of all I would have just relaxed and enjoyed it more.
The best of my life was yet to come....although the past wasn't that bad either.
Now that we have been doing this baby food thing for a little over a month (it seems much longer) I thought I would share my favorite products as well as how the baby food making process is going. I decided to start making my own baby food for several reasons. Numero uno: It's fun. It really doesn't take that long. I can feed my child a bigger variety of food, change up the consistency of it as well, and I know exactly how it was prepared. I might also mention it's a little bit cheaper.
There are three things that are a must in baby food making. One is either a food processor or a blender. The second is a steamer and I have to say I love mine.
I got this from amazon not too long ago and it's awesome. I have never owned a steamer before and wow...it makes some fabulously easy and healthy side dishes!
The third thing you need is something to freeze it in. I found these Mumi and Bubi trays to be the best. They are super flat and hold 21oz of baby food a piece. I put my homemade goodness in them, freeze them, then pop them out into a freezer bag. Awesome.
It is a horrible, terrible product that will waste your time, space and money. The lids don't stay on, there aren't enough to even make one food much less a whole meals worth, they crack easily, and you can't just pop the food out once frozen.
The rest of my favorite things apply to anyone whether you make your own or you buy premade. I seemed to have a hard time finding a dish with separated sides. Sometimes baby food tastes better one on one, no? I ended up finding this OXO plate. It has a lid and also a handy dandy place to scrape off the spoon so you don't have dripage.
You can easily fit 4oz of baby food in these. They make for super easy one hand feeding on the go, but you better bring napkins. They tend to splatter. I squeeze it out using my hand as a shield first so I don't splatter it everywhere. Also, the food hole is in the back of the spoon and sometimes it's hard for the baby to get the whole spoon in his mouth which leads to dripage. With that said...this is what I use when I go out. I haven't found anything better.
My favorite sippy cup so far is this Dr. Browns one. I use their bottles as well so I may be biased.
You can just rinse these Bumkins bibs in the sink or wipe them off and use them for the next feeding. Forget those stupid cloth ones! They stain, must be machine washed, and are a waste of money. I have three of these plastic bibs and probably could have gotten away with just two. I love them.
Ok, I hope that's helpful! What are your favorite products?
**If you click through the links I provided to purchase one of these products, I'll be paid a very small fee. I enjoy sharing my favorite stuff and only do so honestly. Also "dripage" is apparently not a word, but I think you know what I mean. Someone should tell Webster.**
I could tell you about how I had another mom fail this morning when my baby fell off my bed while I was getting ready (and yes, I had surrounded him with pillows). I could tell you about how I looked out my window yesterday and saw my neighbor mowing our yard. Instead I think I'll tell you something positive...
I'm learning how to FLY.
Ok, it's not what you are thinking....I'm not that cool. I'm joining the Fly Lady on my journey to a cleaner home. See I told you it wasn't that cool.
My home isn't dirty by any means, but it's definitely not perfect and I definitely don't have a routine. I clean in spurts. I'll take two days and do a major overhaul and then I do nothing and guess what....it's dirty again by day two and I'm disgusted.
I'm that person who leaves her plate at the dinner table, or refuses to do the dishes after I've prepared a meal, or leaves clean laundry in the laundry basket for a week. Yep, that's me. It's time to reprogram myself. So I'm joining a group that will spell it out for me.
I just started yesterday so I can't tell you if I love it yet or not, but it has given me hope. If you want to play along, start here. These are the baby steps. She tells you one thing to do everyday for 30 days. You can also sign up for emails that will give you little projects. Today for example I'm suppose to take 15 minutes and declutter the laundry room and bathroom.
I'm hoping that if I start doing a little everyday I won't overwhelm myself and just give up completely. We shall see how this goes!
We made it back safely. Unfortunately we arrived back to rainy and chilly weather. I think we are all a little depressed to be back on our regular routine including the dog who had a vacay at her Papa's chasing rabbits. Let's just say her appearance said everything about just how much fun she had. I should have taken a picture.
Luggage is strewn about the house. I have mail spilling out of my mail box and hundreds of pictures to edit. Stacks of laundry and dirty dishes are waiting for me to tend to them. Piles of coupons need to be clipped and sorted. Our yard looks like a jungle and our vegetables have grown past their prime size. The refrigerator needs cleaning out and is surely empty of anything that could possibly make a meal. The baby has squash in his eyelashes from an extra squirmy car feeding and someone needs to get this dog back to her proper shade of white.
I have a lot to do apparently.
Please excuse me while I readjust to this thing called "real life".
It's Saturday and our last full day at the beach. Thoughts of packing, timing and home are creeping in and I don't like it one bit! Instead I'm going to concentrate on our last full day of this....
I just love watching him enjoy all these new beach experiences. I think both of us might be a little down next week when there is no body of water to swim in or pile of sand to run through our fingers.