Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Really Long Post on Why I Don't Feel Guilty About Letting My Child Cry It Out

When I was a first-time mom I was pretty naive on the whole sleep issue.  I knew newborns woke up in the middle of the night but I thought it was short-lived and I thought the cure, the way to "teach" a baby to sleep, would be to let them cry it out.  I didn't know what age that would happen but I knew eventually we would get to that point and we would use that method.

But along came my prodigy of sleeper named William.  He started sleeping through the night very early on, around five weeks of age or so.  After that he only woke during the night if he was extremely hungry (rare) or if he was extremely in pain (chronic ear infections).  We never even had to consider using the cry-it-out method because it simply wasn't necessary.  He had a need, we met his need and he went back to sleep.  Easy as pie.

Instead of thinking he was a fluke I took all the credit thinking I was the best mom in the world and started to get up on my high horse whenever another mother would talk about sleep deprivation.

But that God of ours, he knows how to humble us to our knees.

Along came my Lucy who seemed to have deep-seated opinions about the idea of sleeping more than three or four hours at a time.  Those opinions being that she didn't want to do it.  She would have rather nursed or rocked or watched Letterman.  Sometimes she would have rather just screamed for no inexplicable reason.

But still, we never used the cry-it-out method.  By this time I had read numerous reports and posts from other bloggers about how damaging that method really can be to a baby's psyche.  Those ideas were constantly weighing on my mind.  I didn't want to drive a stake in our mother-daughter relationship at such young age.  That's what the teenage years are for, right?  Of course her relentless, blood-curdling, glass-shattering way of crying didn't help either.  Who could sleep through that anyway?

Even if we did use the cry-it-out method I'm not sure it would have worked.  Lucy is one determined girl and, as a baby, I would bet my life savings that she would have rather cried for an entire night than throw in the towel.  The most I ever let her cry was five to ten minutes and that was only to regain some sort of sanity through my sleep-deprived state so that I wouldn't go in her room and do or say something I might later regret.  Extreme sleep deprivation can do that to a person.

In fact, I remember during one particularly difficult night, when I turned to Brian and declared we would not be having any more children.  He quickly agreed.

But then the magical age of nine months arrived and suddenly she decided 12 (sometimes even 13!) hours of sleep sounded pretty good to her.  There was no gradual crossover here.  She literally changed overnight.  At first Brian and I didn't say anything.  We didn't want to jinx it.  But after a few weeks (months?!) we finally looked at each and sighed.  We had survived and lived to tell about it!  Maybe we could manage that big family we've always dreamed about.

As I mentioned last week, she still does occasionally wake up in the middle of the night.  But the wakings are easy, dare I say, even blissful.  A drink of water, a slight cuddle, finding her nukie, her blankie and her bunny and getting her situated again.

But the past couple of weeks have been a downward spiral setting us right back at square one.  At first I was sure she was in pain.  In fact, I'm convinced that's what started this whole thing because she wasn't only cranky at night, she was cranky all. day. long.  She's getting her bottom two canine teeth which I know are the most painful.  One day she even spiked a fever making me think it might have been the teeth coupled with a minor bout of some illness.

But even after I was sure the pain had subsided and her usual happy state returned during the day, the four-a-night wakings continued.  And it wasn't the wakings that were the real trouble.  The real trouble was getting her back to sleep.  She just didn't want to do it.  And even if she did do it, she was awake again ten minutes later.

This sleeplessness was taking its toll on me as a mother, wife and human being.  I became extremely runned-down and just mad at the world in general.  It's no way to live your life, I'm telling you.  No one, no one, benefits.  For some reason getting up four times a night with a toddler is so much more taxing than getting up four times a night with a newborn.

A few days ago I had reached the end of my no-sleep rope.  It was the middle of the afternoon and both William and Lucy had just fallen asleep for a nap.   At almost four years old, William's naps are no longer consistent so when he does fall asleep I seize the opportunity.  This particular day I saw my opportunity as being able to take a nap myself to try to catch up on those lost Zs.

The house was oh so quiet and I gingerly laid down my tiresome body.  I kid you not, as soon as my head hit my pillow Lucy started screaming.  And I, subsequently, started crying.  How much longer can one person go on little to no sleep? I knew that it was going to be near impossible to get her to go back down.  So I went in her room to make sure she didn't accidentally cut off her right leg or anything like that, gave her some water and gently, but firmly, told her it was time to take a rest.

Then I walked out of the room.

That really set her off.

But I just left her be.  I went back into my bedroom and laid on my bed.  I buried my head in my pillow and started praying, please, for just a few quiet moments of shut-eye.  Please, please, please, over and over I pleaded with God.

The heavens opened up, the angels began rejoicing in harmony and a miracle was blessed upon me.

Lucy stopped crying.

Not only did she stop crying but she went back to sleep on her own.

I think during the whole teething/sick thing (which I do believe should be looked upon with empathy, by the way) she learned that if she woke up and cried in a certain way that I would come in there and rock her and sing to her and maybe even let her get up.  Toddlers are smart that way.

And while it's certainly justified to be asking for affection from a parent I wholeheartedly believe it's also justified for me to let her know there are times for sleep and there are times for cuddling and those times don't necessarily cross paths.

Later that night the same thing happened again.  And this time, rather than getting all emotionally-charged up about it, I went in her room with a level head and called her bluff.  I gave her some water and tucked her back into bed and gently informed her it was time to sleep.  She started to get up and cry as I left the room but I just kept walking and shut the door.  A few minutes later the crying ceased all together and she was back asleep.

Since then I have used the same routine.  I always go into her room when she initially starts a hard cry.  Little yelps while dreaming don't count.  I give her some water, find her lovey items and lay her back on her pillow.  She stills cries when I leave the room but she's not as upset anymore.  It's more of an annoyed cry than a mad one.

I know there are plenty of people out there who will tell you that letting your child cry it out will guarantee his/her spot in therapy in years to come.

Maybe they're right.

But I'm here to say I've found a solution that works for us.  It might not work for you and it might not work for your child.  And you might even still think I'm an awful mother for making this decision.  I'm OK with that.

If you're a mother and you ever have to make a decision about letting your child cry it out, I'm hoping my story makes you feel a little less guilty.  There will be plenty other situations where you'll get the opportunity to feel guilty.  That, I can assure you.  But I, for one, don't think sleep should be one of them.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pay It Forward Friday

Last weekend Brian's mom offered begged to take the kids overnight.  When we tried to turn her down after a stretch of sleepless nights from Miss Lucy she wouldn't listen.

"I. DON'T. CARE." She kept repeating to Brian over and over, citing many grandmotherly reasons why we were wrong and she was right.

So the kids went and Brian and I had a Saturday afternoon and evening to ourselves.  And while that was extremely kind of her, that's not my Pay It Forward Friday story.  It's just the lead-up.

During that Saturday afternoon we drank coffee at a local coffee shop.  The good, strong kind.  We dilly-dallied at Pier 1 imagining furniture in certain rooms of our house and wondering if we should buy any.  We went to a lighting store and dreamed of putting a gigantic, old chandelier in our dining room.

Then we came home and showered and went to church.  We held hands and sang the hymns and listened intently to the homily.

Then we got down to business and started mapping out our bar/restaurant route for the night.  First stop: Moscow on the Hill, known for their incredible vodka selection.

Brian ordered a single shot of some posh selection, served with a mini pickle on a toothpick.  But I like to get my money's worth so I ordered a cherry gimlet, one of the bar's specialties.

This drink is amazing.  It's perfect for those of us who can't handle a straight vodka martini but also for those of us who don't appreciate their cocktails tasting like a bag of Skittles.

We sipped and chatted.  We had all the time in the world.  It was grand. all came crashing down.  Literally.

My legs were crossed and I was angled toward Brian as we sat, deep in conversation, on the barstools.  Every once in a while I gingerly picked up my drink and took a sip.  About a third of the way through my drink, the lowball slipped out of my hand and spilled all over the wood bar.  I'm sure I turned three shades of red while we made all the obvious jokes about me needing to be cut off already.  Thankfully nothing hit my white skirt.  But when all my embarrassment was gone I was just sad that I wasted such an amazing drink on this kid-less night.

But I guilt myself too much.  The bartender was busy mixing drinks for other patrons as the dinner rush approached so I thought, "That's it.  Let's just get our check and go."

But in the midst of his busy-ness, he turned over his shoulder and slid me a brand new cherry gimlet.  He looked at me and winked.  Oh those Russians!  They get such a bum rap.

So that's how I got two drinks for the price of one even if the first one was slightly wasted.  Ha!  No pun intended.

OK, you're turn!

P.S. I've had many questions about this whole "Friday" business.  Don't assume that you have to post/comment only on Friday.  Any day of the week is just fine!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby Needs a New Pair of Soo-THs {Shoes}

Lucy needed a new pair of shoes.  Her little feet-sies grew a whole size this summer and now that she's full-on walking we needed the real deal.

I'll gladly take hand-me-down clothes and one-dollar shirts and pants here and there but for shoes I don't skimp.  At least not once they're walking.  I made that mistake once with William and ended up buying three pairs of cheap ones before I finally decided to spend a little bit more to get a quality pair of shoes that still look like new years after he's outgrown them.

William has only worn Stride Rites and Crocs ever since.  I bought a pair of Rileyroos sandals for Lucy this summer and if I could only pause her growth I know they'd last for years to come.  But since I can't, they'll sit in storage waiting for the chance to be worn by another little Nash girl.  Perhaps.  Maybe.

For the fall/winter I decided to try See Kai Run.  All over the web mothers are singing the praises of this brand so I thought it be about time I give them a shot.  I ordered a pair on sale last week.

"Ah Soo-THs!" cried Lucy when she saw their website on my computer monitor.

Already she has the female fetish.  Great.

The shoes arrived last week and when I opened the box my heart did a little pitter-patter.

Are. You. Serious?!

First of all, I have to say that I love that these shoes are not pink or purple or any other obvious girly color.  It's a nice break from the Pepto Bismol that can sometimes invade our house.

And I love that they're classic Mary Janes.  They show just the right amount of baby fat coming out of the top without being too tight.

And what I love the most, the whole reason I even thought to write this post, is how obsessed Lucy is with them.  Obsessed, I say!

From morning to night she runs around the house yelling, "Ah Soo-THs! Ah SOO-THs!"

She wants to hold them. Play with the Velcro. She tries to put them on and gets frustrated when she can't. She plops the shoes on my lap and holds up one foot and wiggles her toes, asking me to put them on.  Then she runs around the house in just her diaper and butter yellow soo-ths.

Maybe I think these shoes are so darn cute because they make her look like such a little lady.

All grow-ed up with a big opinion about what she wants to don on her feet.

I hear this is one of the biggest differences between the boy and girl genders.  Having opinions about attire.  I understand that one day I'll find it frustrating.  The very angst of my being.  Or her being, as the case may be.  But for now, since we're at the beginning of it all, I think it's just plain adorable.

**Note: All comments written above are strickly of my own opinion.  No brands mentioned have asked me or paid me to write about their shoes.  But maybe they should. Wink. Wink.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pay It Forward Friday

OK.  Let's put it out there.  Last week was a big fat bust.

Apparently not a whole lot of kind acts happening or at least not any that are memorable.

So.  I'm going to change the rules a bit.  Or omit one, rather.

For me, it's easy to list kind acts that happened to me.  Things others did for me to make my life a little happier, a little easier.

But it's difficult for me to write about things I have done for others.  Not because I don't do them but because it feels like I'm bragging.  Trying to prove I'm holier than thou.  Which I am not.  At. All.

Instead, let's just write about all the kind things others have done for you over the past week.  In writing these and subsequently reading others' lists maybe we'll still feel more inspired to be kind.  Knowing that every little thing adds up to a whole lot of big things.

If you'd like to use it, the code for the button is on my sidebar and you can link up below via Mister Linky.  Otherwise, just leave a good old-fashioned comment!

Here's mine:

1.  Our neighbors have pretty much opened their garage to us as a free tool rental shop.  We've borrowed everything from an ax to a rake.  This week we borrowed their extension ladder and wire cutter and...viola!... we have ourselves a swing.

2.  Our other neighbors asked us to grab their newspaper off their front porch while they were out of town this weekend.  A simple task to hopefully ward off possible intruders.  (Piled up newspapers are a robber's easy clue.)  In return they brought us back an entire loaf of cinnamon bread from a famous bakery in northern Minnesota.  That loaf of bread definitely outweighed our easy two days or newspaper removal.  We've been enjoying it for breakfast every morning this week.

OK, you're turn!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In the Dark of the Night

The wakings don't happen as often now.  And they certainly aren't as traumatic.  But they do happen.  More than they ever have with William.

Short bursts of discomfort letting me know she needs me.

Last night she needed me five times before giving in to sleep.

I walk into her room and see her sitting there in her crib.  In the dark.

She stands up, silently, and puts her arms out.  Hold me.  So I do.

I give her water.  She gulps it down.  I foolishly think thirst was the problem this whole time.  Ten minutes later she reminds me that she's still awake in there and that thirst, it seems, was not the problem this whole time.

I pick her up again and sit down in the rocking chair.

I stare at this little girl of mine in the dark.  So content to just lay her head on my shoulder.  She twists and turns to get just so.  Wraps her arms around me.  Tucks in her little legs so that she's now just a tight ball against my stomach.

I close my eyes and try to remember if this is what it felt like when she was inside me.  It's funny how you can spend months feeling a baby spinning inside you but only fifteen months later the memory of the feeling is too far gone to conjure up.

I notice things, here in the dark, that the busy-ness of life in the daylight make too hard to discern.  How her hair ever so slightly curls under at the ends.  How long her eyelashes really are.  When did that happen?  How her legs are longer and leaner now but her bare back is still so tiny and fragile.   My one-year-old, who, by most accounts, should be considered a toddler, but is still holding on to signs that not too long ago she was just a baby.

She flips now.  Decides she wants to sit on my lap and face forward as we rock.

I see her chubby fingers hold tightly to her Jellycat bunny and I stifle a small giggle.  It's funny, to me, to see one of my children so attached to a stuffed animal.  William only ever cared about his blankie and his nukie.  But Lucy would trade in both those items if she could just hang on to her bunny for all of eternity.

She loosens her grip on Jellycat bunny now and starts to pat him.  It's the same way I pat her back when I give her a hug, as if to say, "it's ok" without saying anything at all.

We rock some more.  She picks up one of her feet and watches her draped pink blanket come with it.  She lowers it and then kicks it out again.  Watching the blanket rise and fall, rise and fall.

How easy it would be, I think, to just bring her in bed with me.  Cuddle her close and drift off to merry, merry dreamland.  But I know better.  Lucy does not like to share, least of all her bed.  Most times I'm thankful for that.  But times like this I'm a little forlorn about her dismissing the idea so quickly.

I let my head fall back against the rocking chair now and close my eyes.  How much longer?  How much longer will she need me tonight?  How much longer will she need me during the night at all?  My head wants the answer to be "not much longer" but my heart tells me it still feels good to be needed.  To be forced into this quality, quiet time alone.

I rise now and cradle her like a newborn.

"It's time to go to sleep now," I whisper.

I lay her back down in her crib and tuck her in.

"You go sleeeeeeeepy now."  She blinks at me.  Sucks her pacifier.  Eyes wide open.  I brush her bangs off her forehead and kiss those swollen cheeks that have never come down since the day she was born.

I turn to leave the room and steal one last peek just before I close the door.  She moves not an inch but watches my every move with big eyes.

We'll meet again in the dark, I'm sure of it.  Maybe later tonight.  Maybe not for another few days.

And now, now that she's moving so far away from being a baby, I'm still trying to decide if I want to complain about it or just relinquish the effort it takes to complain about it and learn to cherish it.  I know these midnight dates are numbered.  Midnight dates with me and my restless sleeper.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


When I was growing up we had the best swingset in the neighborhood.  It's not bragging when it's fact, I assure you.

My parents rarely spoiled us.  I mean every once in a while we broke the rules and it was super fun but it was probably only super fun because it rarely happened.

Our family held tightly to structure and routine and we only "got" something out of the ordinary if we earned it.  Girbaud jeans for babysitting my younger siblings.  An overnight stay at a hotel with a pool for raking leaves.  A trip to Pizza Hut for good grades.

But when it came to our swingset they went all out.  I've never even heard the story of how the swingset came to be.  Maybe I should get that story from my mom the next time we chat.  All I know is that my dad was in the business of selling steel and hardware and before we even knew to ask for a swingset there were huge beams being delivered to our house.  I'm pretty sure it was just leftover materials from some steel warehouse because the whole thing was never something you'd see on the cover of a Walmart ad.

Kids were always getting hurt on it.  Legs got pinched in the seasaw.  Bums got bruised trying to go down the too-steep steel slide.  In the winter tongues got stuck and would bleed a la A Christmas Story.  One time my then three-year-old sister flew off the back of her swing and almost landed in the lake.  No help from dad's extreme pushing technique, I'm sure.

But we loved that swing set.

On hot days we'd pull the hose up to the top of the slide to make our very own water park.

After watching the summer Olympics I'd climb up one of the bars and pretend I was competing in gymnastics.

I remember running out there after dinner on warm summer nights to have shoe-kicking contests.  There were three of us so two people would be the kickers and one person would be the announcer/distance judge.  Those contests lasted well into my teen years.

When we closed on our house last year I was thrilled that it came complete with a tree swing in the backyard for my own kids.  Nothing compared the swingset of my childhood, of course, but still something for my kids to call their own.

At the beginning of the summer Brian broke our tree swing.  To be fair, the previous owners had a flawed design of hanging the swing and it was really only a matter of time.  Better him than one of the kids, right?

I've been bugging him ever since to get it fixed.  Because he's not home all day like I am, I don't think he saw the value of the swing.  He didn't see what I saw.  A little boy with a swing as a friend.  A friend who kept him busy while his mom made his lunch.  Or tended to his little sister.  A friend who could be anything from a soaring airplane to a galloping horse.

This week Brian finally bought a new chain and borrowed an extension ladder.  So the swing lives to hang another day.  Since then, from 8:30 in the morning to 8:30 at night, I can look out my kitchen window as I wash the dishes or put together tonight's dinner, and see this.

After all three of us kids had moved out, my mom made the decision to take down our childhood swingset.  I was irate.  I threatened not to talk to her or never to come visit her again.  But, of course, that didn't happen.  Despite the fate of that swingset I still talk to my mom and we still make the trek up to her house a few times a year.

I admit, I'm a little sad that the grandkids never got a chance to experience that swingset.  I look over at the spot it used to stand and picture pushing my kids on the swings or catching them at the bottom of the slide.  Maybe we'd even have our own shoe-kicking contest.  I don't know though.  I was pretty tough to beat so I wouldn't want to make them feel bad about their kicking abilities or anything like that.  But it doesn't matter because none of it will come to be.

Instead my kids have their own swing to play on. Their own swing to turn into a water park with the sprinkler and blow-up pool.  Their own swing to use in crazy, made-up games.  Their own swing to fall off of and possibly get hurt.  (It comes with the territory, right?)  And maybe someday they'll even throw a mini-tantrum if their dad and I decide to take it down.


But I don't think so.  I think that swing's up for the long haul.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Life Gives You Vegetables

I love farmers market produce but after my trip to the market a week and a half ago my refrigerator was still full of quickly-rotting veggies.  Here's an idea if you're looking to use up a lot of veggies.

Step One

Wait for a cold-er-ish day.  The dew points finally fell below the 60-degree mark today and while you'll rarely hear me complain about heat of any kind I must admit that the summer months do put a cramp in my cooking.  I just can't bear to be in front of a stove when the sun is calling my name.

Step Two

Chop up all the veggies you want to use.  Seriously, any veggie will do.

When you're done, cut up some more.

I used five ears of corn (boiled in water for four minutes and then kernels cut off), some green beans, A LOT of carrots, a red onion, three yellow squash and three cloves of garlic.

Step Three
Butter.  And lots of it.  I used a whole stick.  Just plop it in the bottom of the biggest stock pot you own and let it get all melty on medium low heat.

Step Four
Add the vegetables and a palm full of salt.  You could get technical and add the onion and garlic first then add the carrots and wait for them to get tender and then add the green beans and squash since they cook quicker but I wasn't in to getting technical today.  So I just threw them all in the pot at once.  Minus the corn kernels because they were already cooked.

Stir all the vegetables around so they get coated in the buttery goodness.  I let my vegetables cook in the butter for about 20 minutes.  Just keep an eye on the heat so that the butter doesn't start to boil and brown.

Step Five
When your husband gets home from the store with the chicken broth or when you've had enough of the whole butter saute thing, add in one 32-ounce container.

Turn the heat up to medium until the liquid starts to come to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Now's the time to add seasonings if you're in to that sort of thing.  I added one bay leaf and some dried thyme.

In the meantime start boiling water in your next largest pot.

Step Six
When your water in the second pot comes to a boil, add one pound of any small-shaped pasta you like.

If it were me I would have added whole grain pasta.  But when the husband comes back from the store just smile and nod at whatever he bought.  I cooked the pasta for a minute less than the package suggested.  The pasta will cook a tiny bit more in the large pot and I hate nothing more than mushy pasta.

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain and set aside.

Step Seven
Test the veggies.  Since I had a lots of carrots I knew those would be the last to finish cooking.  Once my carrots were tender I knew the entire pot was ready.  When this happens, reduce the heat to as low as it goes and pour in the second 32-ounce container of broth and the cooked noodles.  This is also the time I added in my cooked corn kernels.  Once the pot is heated through turn off the heat entirely.

Step Eight

Eat!  Brian and I added shredded parmesan into our bowls.  And you could be like me and serve the soup with some homemade cornbread and berry crisp but that's only because I haven't been in the kitchen forever and I just. couldn't. stop. cooking.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pay It Forward Friday

Maybe it's because I know it will help me get out of a funk.  Maybe it's because my bloggy friend, Stephanie is doing this.  Maybe it's because I feel there's a bit of responsibility that comes with having a blog, a tiny voice in the universe. Maybe it's just because I feel lazy on Fridays and need something to write about.

Whatever the case, I hope you'll join me.  I'm starting Pay It Forward Friday.

Participation is easy.  All you need to do is list one act of kindness someone else has bestowed upon you and another act of kindness you have bestowed upon someone else or something you plan to bestow on someone else.

My hope is that we'll all read each other words and be moved to pay it forward, creatively, randomly or just in the mundane everyday to-do lists.  It doesn't matter if it's someone you know or a complete stranger.  I want to be more inspired as I go about my week; making sure to recognize others' kind gestures and trying to be more cognizant about performing my own acts of kindness.

You can write about your acts of kindness in the comments section.  If you have your own blog you can make a post about your acts of kindness and then leave the link via Mister Linky below.  (Make sure to link directly to your post and not just to your blog's main page.)  If you write a post about it on your blog feel free to include this button in your post.  The HTML code can be found on my sidebar.

OK, I'll start!

1.  I went on a quick overnight trip this week.  Brian worked from home on Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning so that we needn't worry about getting a sitter.  Wednesday is typically my cleaning day and I knew I wouldn't have enough time to get it all done before I left.

"Leave me a list!" He told me.

So I did, thinking he might help me out and make a small dent.

But when I returned it was all done.  Everything.  And he replaced all the burned out lightbulbs I've been too lazy to do.  And he gathered up all the garbage in the house and had that ready to go and outside waiting for the truck.  And the kids were happily eating their lunch outside and the kitchen was pristine.

It made my whole night away totally worth it.  I came back refreshed with a clean to-do list.  A-MAZING.

2.  I bought a new yoga mat last week.  My old one has seen better-smelling days and it was too thin to begin with.  I found a quality mat at an affordable price on Amazon and ordered it.

It arrived yesterday and per the enclosed instructions I put it in my washing machine on hot water to help break it in.  When it came out the entire mat was ruined.  There were huge gashes and rips and tears.

I immediately composed an email to the manufacturer about my experience and within the hour the CEO wrote back to me with sincere apologies.  Apparently there was an error in including those instructions and they've been trying to fix it ever since.  He offered to 2-day ship me a brand new mat and told me I could cut up my ruined mat and use it as knee pads.

Normally I'm the kind of person who will write a negative review about a product in order to warn potential customers.  But so often I forget to leave positive reviews when something good happens because it's what I expected in the first place.  But after receiving top notch customer service I made sure to go right on Amazon and leave five stars and explain my experience.  I also promised the CEO I would recommend their company to anyone who was interested.  So if you're in the need a new yoga mat check out

OK, you're turn.  Leave a comment or make a post and enter your link below.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In Which I Rant About Grammar

It wasn't really my journalism degree that started it. I know this to be true because my passion for it, my desire to get it right, started way back in elementary school.  Maybe even before that.  I loved those exercises where you had to take a despicable sentence, with all its punctuation, capitalization and contraction errors and make them right.

The bloggy world is full of good writers.  Writers who are thoughtful and funny and inspiring.  But unfortunately so much of their writing is overshadowed by their glaringly obvious and juvenile grammar mistakes.

Before I publish a blog post I proofread it one thousand times.  Does this word sound better here or here?  Am I rambling?  Should this be two short sentences or one long one?  Maybe this will read better if I insert a paragraph break.

It's true that the same old grammar rules we learned in grade school don't always apply to a blog.  For example, I find certain posts much more convicting with short one-sentence paragraphs rather than neat by-the-book paragraphs all beginning with a five-space indentation and consisting of three to five complete sentences.

Sometimes I like my sentences to be incomplete: Oh. My. Gosh.

And sometimes I like to begin my sentences with "And."  Or "But."

And (see, there I go again) while it's nice to see so many people hop on to the bloggy wagon I feel that some of us may be getting a little too relaxed around here.  We're letting too many things slide and in the process we're losing our credibility as writers and we're showing some serious disrespect to the English language, not to mention our third grade teachers.

While I certainly don't claim to be perfect (I'll welcome any grammar feedback!) I do think it's important to try your best to show the world that you did reread what you wrote at least once before you hit the publish button.  And when you do, perhaps you might consider refreshing your memory on these common mistakes.


It's as simple as reading the context of your sentence.  If "they're" can be replaced with "they are," you've found your word.  If "their" is followed by something or someone that belongs to the subject of the sentence (i.e., their house, their dog, their name), you've found your word.  In most other cases you should use "there." It can be a sentence beginner (i.e., There are times in my life...) or a pronoun for a place (i.e., I like sitting over there.)


I see this mistake time and again and I think it's because both words are so commonly used in everyday language.  I'm so sad because the usage is so easy to figure out.  If "you're" can be replaced with the words "you are" then you know it needs to be a contraction  If not, you use "your."  Example 1: I found your dog. This sentence sounds funny if you were to say, I found you are dog.  Example 2: You're so funny.  This sentence can easily be replaced as: You are so funny.  See?  Easy peasy.


I can understand how this one would be tough because technically both words are supposed to be contracted.  But because they each have a separate meaning the English language says you need to differentiate by removing the apostrophe from one of the words.  Thus, you should use "it's" as a contraction if the word can easily be replaced by the phrase "it is."  Example 1: It's a nice day can easily be replaced with It is a nice day.

If the word is a possessive pronoun then the apostrophe should be left out.  Example 2: The house and all its glory...  In this case the word it is a pronoun for the word house and because the glory belongs to it, its a possessive pronoun.  And just to be safe you can use process of elimination by trying to replace its with it isThe house and all it is glory...doesn't sound right so you know the apostrophe should be omitted.

That's all for today, folks.  Maybe I'll come back later and explain the differences between here/hear and then/than and to/too/two.  Until then, Google it!  There are tons of websites out there dedicated to helping you figure out your grammar questions.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Today Brian and I celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary.  Although it isn't a major milestone because the number doesn't end in a 5 or a 0, I've been thinking a lot about where we are.

It seems to me I'm in the meat of my life.  The peanut butter and jelly of the sandwich.  The cream of the Oreo.  The best part.  Or, at least, the most important part.  The whole reason the bread or cookie part even exists.

Our oldest child will soon turn four (!) and our youngest is already at the age where we're starting to think about adding another baby to the chaos and joy, oh so much joy, that is the Nash abode.

We're finally living in a home that's perfect for the season we're in.  We worked so hard to get it and every day I wake up I'm so proud of what we have to offer our little family of four.

We've made amazing friendships along the way.  Friendships that, I can now say with intense certainty, will last a lifetime.  Friendships that, thankfully, require no explaining when we haven't spoken or seen each other in months.  But when we do, oh boy when we do.  The stories and the wine and the laughter and the sheer delight in just being good friends.

Brian's career hasn't hit its it peak yet and my purpose, my passion, hasn't yet either.  But that's OK.  We know where we are.  All in good time, all in good time.

I'm not a believer in fate or soul mates but I do believe a part of me had always been searching for "the one," even as a little girl.  "The one" turned out to be my Brian.  Even still he's not ever what I pictured my "one" to be with his love of music, his curly hair, his deep devotion to the Church, and he incessant need to constantly be so slow at everything he does.  He's not perfect, it's true, but he's perfect for me.

I can't help but think I've lived my entire life in preparation for these years.  These are the years I was always going toward, and when they're over, these are the years I'll always be coming from.

Right here.  Right now.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Me, All Crunchy and Stuff

Every once in a while I feel granola-y.  Today was one of those days.

I took the kids to the Minneapolis Farmers Market this morning and came home with bursting bags.  Corn on the cob, green beans, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes and carrots.  I'm thinkin' vegetarian fried rice for dinner tonight.

I let William pick the produce and hand over the money.  I said 'yes' when he asked if he could eat a carrot right then and there.
And Lucy's whines landed her some crisp green beans.

On the way home William spied the famous Spoon and Cherry and I said 'yes' when he asked if we could go see it.  So we made a spontaneous trip to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.  We stayed for an hour.  I let the kids run and we ate a five-dollar hot dog from a nearby outdoor grill.  It's kind of an upscale area, I guess.  At that price the dog must have been laced with gold.

The only bummer is that spontaneous, unplanned trips do not force me to make sure I've got my camera with me.  So all I got were these ho-hum photos with my phone.

But vegetarian fried rice for dinner tonight!  Seriously.  It's going to be awesome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Got Our Porch Re-did!

One of the many charming things about our 90-year-old home is the large, enclosed, four-season, front porch.

Unfortunately it wasn't so charming when we first moved in.
The carpet was dingy and and stained.  The windows are new but needed an entire day's worth of washing.
There's a lovely window seat just as you enter the porch but it, too, was badly stained.  The space quickly became a catchall for anything I needed out of sight and out of mind.

As summer and all its hot and stickiness has loomed on I've realized what wasted space this has become.  So in a rush of get-it-done energy one Sunday I told Brian I just had to start cleaning the windows.  I popped out every single screen, undid both window sashes and scrubbed the grit and cobwebs right off.

That was the domino that started it all.

During the week I whitewashed the walls and wainscoting and the following weekend we removed the carpeting.
With carpeting

Without carpeting -- betcha coulda figured those captions out on your own, huh?
After some hard work by hubby we had the entire floor sanded and a fresh coat of paint applied in a couple of weeks.
Gorgeous, right?

Let's not forget about that welcoming window seat. I picked out my fabric and enlisted the help of someone I knew who had a sewing machine (check out In Stitches Designs!) and  in no time we had ourselves a window seat that looked like new, perfect for reading a book or enjoying a cup of coffee.

Bonus points for the reader who can direct me to the location of cheap throw pillows in neutral colors.
Yesterday we completed the final touches.  I moved my computer and desk out there (so much more inspiring!) and I organized and sorted all the toys.  When all is said and done we'll have a couple of wicker chairs and coffee table.  But for now, it looks like this.
All these refound toys in new places has ignited a new love of playing by my children.  So most of the time the space actually looks like this.
But as long as that television screen stays black, that's just fine by me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Another Story about Church-Going

Today we took the kids to the Cathedral for mass.  Our parish church is just a block from our house but every once in a while we like to expose our kids to great architecture and, if we're lucky, a mass said by our very own Archbishop.

Ha!  Who am I kidding?  It's the closest church that has a noon mass for us late-risers and the Archbishop is rarely present that late in the day anyway.

Today I blame Lucy, who insisted on taking a morning nap which caused bed head so bad that the detangling project ate right into the 11 o'clock service just down the street.

I, for one, love the Cathedral so you won't find too many complaints from this lady.  The great structure reminds me of a model-sized replica of the grand churches I toured on my college abroad trip to England and France.

With kids it's a bit of a different story.  On the one hand the building is so large that their movements and voices go largely unnoticed.  On the other hand the acoustics are state-of-the-art, a fact Lucy picked up on immediately.


She'll wait 0.2 seconds for her echo's reply and then start again.


Today she was her normal crazy.  Up and down, up and down.  This book, that book.  Walk along the pew to the right.  Then to the left.  Then, quick! A getaway! Down the aisle before mom notices!  Then screaming when she's grabbed from behind and brought back to the rest of the boring, solemn worshippers near the Nash seats.

To intensify matters from any another other chaotic mass attendance, the Cathedral does not have air conditioning.  Or if it does, they choose not to run it in the main gathering area.  Whatever the case Lucy was as slick as a fish just out of water.  At one points she slowly brushed her forehead against my perfectly powdered cheek and I felt just like Ben Stiller in that basketball scene in Along Came Polly.

During the consecration I knelt and held Lucy facing me as she sat her bottom on the pew ledge in front of us.  She was not a fan.  She wanted to get D-O-W-N and she wanted to do it N-O-W.

For a split second, though, she was quiet and still when she spied the magnificent ceilings that make up the St. Paul Cathedral.  And then it was over.

"Wait, wait, wait!" I whispered with a great sense of urgency.  She looked at me, waiting.

" there a...puppy up there?!"

What are the physics required in that, she must have been wondering.  But she tilted her head back and stared at the ceiling anyway, searching for the puppy that I indicated might be up there.  Then she looked back at me.

"Is there...umm...a birdie up there?!"

Tilt head.  Stare.  Sheep?  Tilt head.  Stare.  Kitty cat?  Tilt head.  Stare.  Bunny rabbit? Tilt head. Stare.  And on and on until it was time for us to process to communion.

Every parent lets out a huge sigh of relief after they have received communion because they know the end is near.  Not that we're itching to get out of church so quickly, mind you, but rather so that we can relieve our embarrassment from our ill-behaved children.  No matter how well my kids behave I always walk out of church feeling a little ashamed, which is completely unwarranted because, in all fairness, the kids are only acting their age.

But, in truth, most parishioners and their tolerance levels surprise me.

"Your kids are so beautiful!"

"It's so great to see young families at mass on Sunday!"

And every once in a while: "Your kids are so polite and well-behaved!"

Today it was this, just outside on the Cathedral steps:

"Your daughter is so gorgeous.  And during the consecration she sat so still.  And did you notice how she was staring at the ceiling?  I think she could see angels!"
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