Thursday, April 30, 2015

5 favorites: summer shoes

linking up with Rachel for some Five Favorites.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks about new shoes in the spring. I've been thinking a lot about new shoes lately. And as we are about to be unemployed and Alex a full time student, naturally I'm thinking about very expensive shoes. 

Here's my list of favorite shoes that I will probably never own. 


Why do I always like the expensive shoes? I saw some Swedish Hasbeens on Camp Patton a while ago and thought, gee those look nice. Then I went to look for some on Amazon and of course, they're wicked expensive. But, a girl can dream, right?


Saltwater Sandals. I got Johnny these sandals last summer and they were great but now they're getting too small! He needs new ones and I wouldn't mind a pair for myself!


Danskos. Another expensive shoe that Dwija from House Unseen swears are worth every dollar.  I fell in love with these particular sandals, so they'll be sitting on my wishlist for a while.


Toms are another shoe that I have always wanted but that Johnny got first.  He's been rocking some gray Toms all spring and Alex and I are seriously considering using some of our tax return to get our own.


Everyone should have a pair of Birkenstocks. I myself have never had a pair of Birkenstocks but someday I would love some. And I would love some for Alex as well.  Not these ones. He can get the more masculine looking sandals.

And there you have it! All the pretty things that are currently on my radar.


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Monday, April 27, 2015

Johnny Speaks

When Johnny is focusing hard on a toy, or looking curiously at something going on outside and we can just see the wheels turning in his head we often say something like this: "I can't wait until we can hear what's going on in that little head."

We're still waiting. Johnny has such expressive faces. It's easy to figure out what he wants or needs. But he remains, for the most part, pretty silent. Sometimes he does pipe up and babble or coo or sing. Then we say something like this: "I love to hear your pretty voice!"

And oh how I want to hear more.

During the first week of Johnny's life, as we were receiving all of his diagnoses, his hearing loss was the least of our concerns.  I was getting letters and phone calls from all the deaf and hard of hearing associations in the state wanting to sign me up for their news letters, and get me involved with a mentor, and put me in touch with a speech therapist and sign language instructor.

And I was so annoyed!

My child is not deaf. He can hear. And his hearing aids are correcting the hearing loss he does have. So what's the big deal?

But as things have wound down with other medical needs, as he's gotten older, and people keep asking, "does he have any words yet?" and we keep saying, "no, not really." we've started giving his hearing loss more attention.

Johnny signing "help".

It's hard to say whether Johnny's speech delay is related to his hearing loss, or if it's a part of his shy and stubborn personality. He was born with a mild to moderate hearing loss, he's been wearing hearing aids since he was 2 months old, and theoretically with the hearing aids on, he should hear normally. But he is still at risk for speech delay.

Because of that risk, and the fact that he was 20 months old and had only one word ("up") we started weekly speech therapy appointments in January. They are first thing Monday morning and oh I hate starting the week with a frantic morning of hurrying to get diapers changed and breakfast eaten and coats on and out the door. And sometimes Johnny's shyness and stubbornness dictate the appointments and he doesn't do or say anything and I wonder if it's just a waste of time. But all and all I think it's been good.

Johnny signing "bath time".

The speech therapist first encouraged us to give sign language another try, which we had done very halfheartedly when Johnny was around 8 months old. We did, and within a week Johnny was signing more, all done, bath time, and milk. since then he has added help, open, diaper, waiving bye bye, and a very fuzzy version of the sign of the cross! It's pretty cute to see him sign, but it's even better to see how proud he is when he realizes he's communicating with us.

Johnny signing "more".

After he mastered some signs we started trying to get him to say the word with the sign.  This has been a lot harder than just signing. And it often seems like no progress is being made. But he is making progress. Before we started therapy the only word he had was "up".

Now he says all done, more, help, up, bye bye, papa, mama, hot, open, ("mmmpa") and sometimes he'll bath time. He also says ball, bite, and bus, but they all sound the same. And he babbles. He babbles all the time. Well, not at therapy.  At therapy he is basically silent. But at home he babbles all the time. He knows what he wants to say, and he's starting to say it to us.

And I love to hear his pretty voice.


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Friday, April 24, 2015

7 quick takes vol. 15


We are 16 weeks now. Hello second trimester. You feel good.  It feels good to not feel sick all day long. It feels good to have more energy. It feels really good to be getting stuff done around the house again, instead of just the bare minimum. And above all, I no longer feel the need to nap with Johnny, so I have my 1-2 hours of hobby time back! And that feels great!


Now that I have my hobby time back I have been knitting a lot more and I finished this scarf the other day.

 I have been working on this scarf for over a year. It was my between-projects-project. Anytime I finished something but wasn't sure what to start next I would work on this incredibly boring garter stitch scarf. Now It's done. It turned out better than I thought it would, so it's going in the Etsy Shop


And now that I've finished my between-projects-project I really needed to come up with a new project. I have had the yarn for two different sweaters for a while now but I've been to chicken to commit to a pattern and start.  But then I found this incredible website with beautiful patterns.  I decided to start this one. And I've pinned all the other ones that I like for later.


Spring is here! I know to some of you this is old news. But to us here in Minnesota it is new and wonderful.  We are putting away our winter coats, taking out our sandals and getting outside as much as possible.  Everyone takes deep breathes of fresh air and feels an energy they thought they'd never feel again. It's great.

I've even been able to do a little yard work with Johnny. Mostly just clearing away the dead stuff from last year. I am always amazed by the sight of plants coming up after winter. It's like the earth is saying "We made it!"

It's also been making me think of this song.


Johnny can open doors now. It's not really a milestone we're excited about.  I didn't think he was tall enough but where there's a toddler will, there's a way.

And he locked himself in the bathroom last week. 


I don't brag about my husband enough on here and so I'm going to take a few minutes and do so now.

Alex has been amazing during this pregnancy. I have long days at home while he has long days at work, but he still comes home, cleans up after dinner, gets Johnny bathed and to bed and insists that I sit on the couch and look through Instagram. On the weekends he keeps Johnny out of my hair for a couple hours so that I can do things like write blog posts. And he helps me get the house clean on weekends, which, I'm sure is the last thing he wants to do with his Saturday, but he's nice to me.

All in all, I guess I'm just #blessed.


After finishing Gilmore Girls on Netflix, (a hard act to follow) we watched Bloodline, which was kind of depressing and I'm not sure that I'd recommend it. Now we are watching Turn and it's.....ok. It's a drama set during the American Revolution. It's interesting, but the writing is a little slow.  But it's pretty clean compared to most shows out there, so I appreciate that.

Confession, I may or may not have started watching  The West Wing for for 4th time. I can't help it! Let Bartlet be Bartlet! It's my show for when I want to watch something when Alex isn't around. It's prefect for knitting, because I've seen it, so it's OK if I'm not watching the entire time. And I just love C.J., and Toby, and yes, even Josh.

Well this post is quickly spiraling into ramblings of nothing so I think I'd better stop.  I hope you have a great weekend, and if you have any Netflix suggestions for us, please share!

for more quick takes visit This Ain't The Lyceum


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Through the Eyes of Infertility


"Do you have any kids yet?"

Hard swallow. Fast blink. Forced smile. "No, not yet."

For two years I tried to dodge this question, or else answer it without the awkward second half of the answer jumping out of my mouth. "But I want them!" 

Infertility was not something I expected to deal with. When I heard the word I pictured a couple well advanced in years, or someone who had some other major health conditions. Yet here we were, my husband and I, in our early twenties, not able to conceive.  The two years we tried for a baby were the hardest, most discouraging, and isolating of my entire life.  And now that we're on the other side of it my entire perspective on pregnancy, parenting, family size, even life itself, has changed. 

There's so much I could say to those who are affected by infertility. Whether primary or secondary, multiple miscarriages or no conceptions at all, whether you suffered for a year or 10 years, infertility an incredibly difficult cross to bear. I want you to know your frustrations are valid, that you have cause for grief, and most of all, that you are not alone or forgotten. 

What about those who do not struggle with infertility? You may know someone who does, or you may have never thought about it before. Either way, here are some thoughts that will give you a glimpse into the world of infertility.

Don't assume. Just because a couple doesn't have kids doesn't mean they don't want kids. Or just because a family has only one or two doesn't mean they don't want more. These are assumption I used to make about people all the time, until my own desire to have a baby was not met. The fact of the matter is, you just don't know what's going on with a person, or with a couple, or with a family. And honestly, it's none of your business. Instead of making an assumption, make a choice to extend compassion.

What can I say? A lot of people have asked me, when a friend is experiencing miscarriage or infertility, "what can I say to help them feel better?" The truth is, there's probably nothing you can say to make them feel better.  There's a few things I wouldn't say.

I can image how you feel. Because unless you've been through it, you really can't. 

I'm sure you'll have children one day. Really? Because I'm not sure, and my doctor isn't sure. So how can you be sure?

At least you have one baby. Yes, and I love my baby, and there is some consolation in that, but it doesn't take away the heartache of wanting to grow a family. 

Just enjoy this time with your husband. It is true that dealing infertility can be a very unifying experience for a couple. My husband and I grew a lot in our marriage during our two years of infertility. But trying for a baby for a long period of time can be a source of tension in a marriage. Something that is supposed to be full of joy and love becomes something that is calculated and agonized over. Needless to say, it's not always very romantic.  

There were a few things people said to me after our miscarriage that did make me feel a little better. One was acknowledging our loss and letting us know we had a legitimate reason for grief. The second was receiving kind words and flowers from a friend on Mother's Day. 

Don't ask if they have tried (fill in the blank). Because they probably have tried it, along with a whole litany of other things, like going off gluten, dairy, sugar. trying to lose weight. taking scores of vitamins, supplements, and medications. Not to mention the  the invasive exams and ultrasounds, and the weekly blood draws and shots in the rear end in attempts to balance the ever imbalanced hormones. 

Your friends who struggle with infertility may not want to be around you when you're pregnant. Please don't be offended by this. It's just really hard to be around pregnant people when you've been trying for a long time to get pregnant. If it seems like they're pulling away, try waiting for them to get in touch with you. They still love you, they just need a little space. 

Social media can kill. I had to un-friend a lot of people on Facebook while we trying for a baby, because if I heard one more birth announcement, or saw one more bump shot... This doesn't mean you shouldn't celebrate your own good news with family and friends on social media. But maybe think twice before publicly complaining about the unpleasant side affects of pregnancy, or the baby who never seems to sleep. Now that I have a baby of my own I do plenty of complaining about his bad naps (like today!), but I try to keep this in check. I remember well the days when I longed to deal with this sort of problem.

Let them know you care. If you know someone struggling with infertility let them know you care, and let them know they can talk to you about it. Sometimes a good conversation or venting session can be the best therapy. It's such a relief not to carry the burden of infertility alone.  And a good community of friends heals much heartache.


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Monday, April 13, 2015

Jury Duty, May You Never Get The Summons

Mondays are never easy. Can I get an "amen"?

But last week I had a particularly awful Monday.

It all started at around 7:15 am when Alex woke me up with a piece of paper in his hand and said, "You have jury duty today."


It was supposed to be in May. Wasn't it May? I'm sure of it, May 6. Nope, the jury summons very clearly said 4/6/2015.

You see, I really thought it was MAY 6. I thought I had a whole month to find a way out of this. I was going to call the office and explain how I had a toddler at home and we have a very limited number of sitters to use, and I run my own business, and it would be a financial hardship for me to miss work, and that week was the week before my spring recital so I really can't cancel any lessons that week. But because I have pregnant-brain and can't keep anything straight I had no time to tell my story and had to suck up the fact that I was going to jury duty.

And why was Alex going through our mail at 7:00 on a Monday morning you might be asking?

Good question. You see, Alex is very frugal and doesn't like to pay for things that aren't necessary. So when he got a parking ticket a few months back he thought that it was an unnecessary expense and was going to contest it. So he was up early looking for the parking ticket and found my jury summons while he was at it.

Back to me. I had less than an hour to be at the court house, I was not showered, Johnny was still asleep, and I had no childcare set up. Obviously the shower was not going to happen. So I got Johnny up, got us some breakfast,  got as presentable as I could and we headed out. We met Alex at the court house, where he had just finished getting out of his parking ticket, switched cars, Alex took Johnny to speech therapy, and I accepted my fate for the day.

Alex sent me this picture of Johnny enjoying their McDonald's breakfast. Mmm...hash browns. 

Going to the court house is like going through airport security. I had my entire knitting bag confiscated because as you know wooden knitting needles are exceedingly dangerous. Luckily I had some books on my phone to keep my brain from turning mush while I waited in a hot, smelly room with over a hundred other people until 11:30 when they told half of us that we could leave. YAY!

From the court house I drove over to Alex's work, where he had taken Johnny after speech therapy. I got Johnny home and down for a nap, and after all this felt like I needed a strong drink but it was only 1:00 in the afternoon and I am pregnant so that wasn't really an option for me.

Johnny was a perfect angel while helping his papa at work. 
Tuesday I had to report back to the court house. My mom was able to come over and watch Johnny Thanks mom! And I spent the day sitting in the jury room waiting.

Jury duty is pretty high up on my list of least favorite things to do, but I do believe that any experience, no matter how unpleasant, can give new perspective.

I got a little glimpse of what it must be like to be a working mom. Getting up early each day and scrambling to get yourself and you kids ready and out the door. Having to say goodbye to them for the day. It's really hard!

So many times as a stay at home mom I just want a day off.  A day away. I want to be off the hook for diapers and getting lunch ready and doing nap time. I want a break from playing with the same baby toys and looking at the same books over and over. But when I did get a day away last week all I could think about was Johnny and how I wanted to be home with him. I had my laptop and some books and could have read and blogged to my hearts content. But I just wanted my regular routine. And by 3:00 pm, when I got released, I felt like I was being freed from a day in prison.

Each night I had call in and listen to a 5 minute long recording to see if I needed to report the next day. Wednesday I was not needed, Thursday I was not needed, and I was beginning to like my jury duty was at an end. But, lo and behold, I had to report for Friday. I am still praising The Lord that I got released at noon, and that I didn't get put on a case Friday that could have continued into this week. It was rough, but it could have been a lot worse.

At least I know I'm safe for the next 4 years. And a good lesson learned: write things down in your calendar!


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Friday, April 10, 2015

My Favorite Granola: A Recipe

A while back in this post I mentioned this granola recipe as being my favorite granola. But then I realized that I have made that recipe so many times from memory over the last 3 years, making little changes here and there depending on what I have or don't have in my pantry, so that now the granola I make looks almost nothing like the original recipe.

The first change I made was swapping the honey for maple syrup because I don't really like the taste of honey, but I love maple syrup. The other changes came about mostly as a result of what dried fruit and nuts I had on hand.  I've tried a lot of different things. Raisins and walnuts, dried cherries and pecans, sesame seeds instead of flax seeds. You could try substituting whatever fruits and nuts you like the best. But here is my  favorite granola for you, inspired by and based on 101 Cookbooks.

You will need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt butter and maple syrup in a small sauce pan over low heat, stirring occasionally. When butter is melted turn off heat and set aside.

Combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl.

Drizzle melted butter-syrup mixture over the dry ingredients.

Then stir, stir, stir to combine well.

Here is Johnny playing with a bunch of tupperware lids. Our kitchen floor is always covered with lids. I am forever stepping on them. But it if keeps him busy so I can bake, then who am I to complain?

Pour half of the granola out onto a baking sheet and spread evenly. Spread the remaining granola onto a second baking sheet.

Then stick them in the oven.

And wait patiently.

Bake the granola for 10 minutes, then stir and rotate the baking sheets and bake for 7 more minutes, or until lightly golden.

Viola! Super easy, super delicious granola that you can enjoy with yogurt and fresh fruit, or with milk, or just on it's own.


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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Holy Recap!

In case you were wondering how we fared during Holy Week, you can put your mind at rest and feast your eyes on this gem of a recap post, complete with grainy cell phone pictures.

You're welcome!

Alex is super involved with music at our church so between rehearsals and the Triduum he was gone every night last week. I was dreading it, picturing myself wrestling Johnny to sleep each night in place of Alex, who usually does bed time with him. But it actually wasn't so bad. There was only one night he missed bed time, and he was around for dinner most nights too.

I decided to gird my loins (as my friend Nell would say) and take Johnny to the Holy Thursday and Good Friday services at our church.  Holy Thursday went pretty well. Johnny spent most of mass working on holding the hymnal with one hand, the way I have to when I'm holding him on one hip and still trying to sing.

He also made the little girl in the pew in front of us very sad when he whipped out his sippy-cup and ziplock bag of goldfish crackers  I felt deeply guilty of having made mass all the harder for that poor family and instantly began reevaluating my decision to let Johnny have snacks during church. This has been how I have been surviving  mass by myself every week while Alex sings in choir. I know it will have to stop at some point. When is that point? Older, wiser parents? Advice? Please don't judge me too harshly.

Good Friday I tried to fast as much as possible in my pregnant state. No TV. No morning coffee.  No sweets. No instagram. I can't go more than a couple hours between meals/snacks without feeling gravely ill, and even though I was eating regularly I still felt hungry all day. I think it was sympathy hunger for everyone else who was fasting.

Johnny and I went to the Good Friday prayer vigil at the Planned Parenthood near our house. Johnny got to ride a school bus that shuttled us to and fro, and I thought that since he goes bananas with glee every time a school bus drives past our house he would be pretty thrilled to ride on one.  Instead he cried and kept his face buried in my jacket the whole time. We've been going to this event since Johnny was just a tummy baby and it's always deeply moving to me. It's also nice to have an activity to do that still feels Good Friday appropriate.

We did a little grocery shopping, went to stations of the cross at 3:00, ate tuna cheese melts for dinner (yum!!) and killed time waiting for church. My sister came with us for the Good Friday service, and I don't know if it was having a fun family member with us, or the recent memory of stations where he was permitted to walk around the church, but Johnny was terrible that night.  The worst he was been in church ever. For the first time ever he noticed Alex cantoring on the altar, even though Alex has been doing this all Johnny's existence. H kept shouting "papa?" in his high pitched screech that rebounded so nicely off the vaulted ceilings. Nothing could induce him to quietude, so he and I spend most of the service in the narthex.

For the first time since Alex and I have been dating he did not have to work the day before Easter.  In the bakery business the day before any major holiday is a really big day, getting up at 3:00 am and working 12 hours straight. But since Alex is on his way out of the bakery business and on his way to being a full time student many of his duties are being passed on to other people and he didn't need to go in! Alleluia! So we spent the day baking Easter goodies, including this cake, and getting some chores done.

My parents so nicely agreed to come over to watch Johnny so that I could go to the Eater Vigil and hear my husband sing the Exultet. Johnny is really hard at bed time  It takes me an hour to get him to sleep and it usually takes Alex a half hour. I wasn't sure that he would go to sleep for my parents at all and was bracing myself for an over stimulated, over tired toddler to deal with when we got home. But he was sound asleep and it turns our it only took my dad 10 minutes to put him to bed! (He's a grandpa's boy.) So now the questions remains, do we try a night away without him? I think yes.

Since we both went to the Vigil and I got all my baking done on Saturday we spent Easter morning in our PJs eating cinnamon rolls and bacon. It was the most relaxing morning we've had in a long time. I even painted my toenails. Johnny took a great nap, Then we headed over the my parents house where we feasted ourselves on ham and cheesy potatoes (a Lutheran thing) and glorified rice (also a Lutheran thing), and of course Jelly Bellies and malted milk eggs!

Congratulations, you made it to the end of this post. I hope your Easter was filled with all the treats you like the best, and don't forget, it's still Easter! So keeping saying Alleluia!


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