Friday, November 30, 2012

30 Days of Thankful

I feel tremendously blessed. Every day I wake up and count my blessings. I have a wonderful husband; a child I adore; family whom I love; a warm house; food that sustains me; clean water to drink; cloths to wear; and a job that allows me to contribute to our household income while also filling the role of mom. I have friends, near and far. I believe in a God that watches over me during the good times and the bad. I have so much to be thankful for.

During the month of November, I decided to record some of the things that I am thankful for daily. I am thankful for the mundane, the normal, the unexpected. I am so thankful for this life I have.

1. Thankful for life's little surprises. I never expected to find this little trail in County Park in Scottsboro, Alabama. I felt like I discovered my only little Secret Garden!

2. Thankful for lunches with old friends – the Reynolds. I guess that technically Jack and Charlotte are new friends, though we have known the Reynolds since 2005 when we first moved to Charlotte.

3. Thankful to be making progress on our screened-in porch project. This is the modified screen door which now has a doggy door.

4. Thankful for another year on earth, my wonderful family, good friends, and copious amounts of coffee. I am blessed.

5. Thankful for three square meals a day and a warm, safe place to sleep.

6. Thankful for the opportunity to exercise my right to vote. 

7. Thankful for friends, old and new.

8. Thankful that Jack and Sophie like each other... I hope they will be close in a few years.

9. Thankful for my little guy, who is still playing hard despite a cold.

10. Thankful for my sister who coached me through labor and delivery one year ago, even thought she was 6 months preggo.

11. Thankful for all of the family that were able to join us in celebrating Jack's first birthday. We definitely missed those who were unable to attend. Jack has blessed our lives tremendously. 

12. Thankful for the guys in my life.

13. Thankful for moments of solitude to lay on my back porch in the warm November sunshine and finish an old favorite novel.
14. Thankful for my running buddy. 

15. Thankful for life group... now if only we didn't have to drive an hour home.

16. Thankful for 10 years of marriage (exactly 1 month from today), even if date nights are now most likely to be a redbox and some leftover dessert.

17. Thankful that I can do yoga at home to help relieve my sciatica... I miss having access to a yoga studio though.  

18. Thankful for beautiful days spent with my family.

19. After visiting Walmart, I am thankful that I am not in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year! Emily Annette Moore did an excellent job of hosting this year!

20. Thankful that I have a husband that knows me so well -- he surprised me with a tent so that our family can go backpacking when it gets a bit warmer. 

21. Thankful that I don't have a daily commute in a big city. Traffic in Brentwood is not my fave. Also thankful for the massage I got in an effort to relieve some back pain I have been dealing with (see #17).

22. Thankful to be able to spend time with Daniel's family and my brother.

23. Thankful my baby seems to be feeling better tonight... he was conked out with a fever yesterday.

24. Thankful for family. Glad to be able to spend a few days with Daniel's fam. Looking forward to seeing my parents in a week.

25. Thankful that Jack, Daniel and I are all relatively healthy.

26. Thankful that Daniel has a steady job and that I can be at home with Jack. Also thankful for my wonderful clients who are willing to work with me long distance and who have made me feel connected to the world as I have made the transition to being a mother.

27. Thankful for my weekly "me" time which currently means going to kickboxing. I miss being able to work out in group settings multiple times a week, but right now I will take what I can get. 

28. As a follow up to #26... the life of a freelancer means that all of your projects typically come in at once... I am thankful for this, but hoping I don't get overwhelmed with the confluence of work and the holiday season. The end of the year means catalogs and annual reports, oh my!

29. Thankful that our dentist fit us in even though we were 30 minutes late for our appointment due to a hazmat spill on I-24 East bound into Chattanooga. Also glad that neither Daniel nor I have any cavities.

30. Thankful for family traditions. We took our second annual trip to the Thornhill Christmas Tree Farm.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 Book 27: Brain Rules for Baby

Have you ever read a book and been blown away by how closely the words on the pages echo your own thoughts? That is how I felt when I read Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina.

I first heard about this book when I read a review on Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading? Her review intrigued me:
I thought Brain Rules for Baby was so good that it should be required reading for all parents and soon-to-be parents. I thought this book was so good, I read it TWICE, which says a lot because I have a rule that I don’t re-read books...
Based on her {entire} review and the fact that Jack is still in the baby stage, I immediately downloaded this book on my Kindle. It did not disappoint. The content is really that good. My only negative reaction is that I felt like the book had too many metaphors instead of just saying what it was trying to say. But the advice is solid.

Things I had been thinking about or that Daniel and I have been discussing recently:
  • The importance of keeping your marriage strong {after kids come along}.
  • Screen time. Should you or shouldn't you?
  • Empathy. This has been a hot topic in our household for the last couple of weeks. Not in relation to raising a baby, just the importance of empathy in general. Who knew that empathy and helping your child name their emotions was so key.
  • Explaining the rational behind rules while administering punishment is key. Do not say "BECAUSE I SAID SO."
  • The importance of independent, creative play that has some degree of structure.
There is so much good in this book. I probably highlighted over half of the book and will be consulting it in the future. Daniel is also going to read it so that we can discuss further and be on the same page. If you are not a reader, at least check out the conclusion of this book, it gives the highlights without going into a lot of detail.

I was kind of shocked at how much emphasis this secular book put on the good marriages and encouraging moral behavior in children.

If you have kids or work with young children, I would highly recommend you read this book.

Excerpts from the book:
Having a first child is like swallowing an intoxicating drink made of equal parts joy and terror, chased with a bucketful of transitions nobody ever tells you about.
When I lecture on the science of young brains, the dads (it’s almost always the dads) demand to know how to get their kids into Harvard. The question invariably angers me. I bellow, “You want to get your kid into Harvard? You really want to know what the data say? I’ll tell you what the data say! Go home and love your wife!”

Babies create hypotheses, test them, and then relentlessly appraise their findings with the vigor of a seasoned scientist. This means infants are extraordinarily delightful, surprisingly aggressive learners. They pick up everything.

People view their own behaviors as originating from amendable, situational constraints, but they view other people’s behaviors as originating from inherent, immutable personality traits.

Empathy works so well because it does not require a solution. It requires only understanding.

Thousands of experiments confirm that babies learn about their environment through a series of increasingly self-corrected ideas. They experience sensory observations, make predictions about what they observe, design and deploy experiments capable of testing their predictions, evaluate their tests, and add that knowledge to a self-generated, growing database. The style is naturally aggressive, wonderfully flexible, and annoyingly persistent. They use fluid intelligence to extract information, then crystallize it into memory. Nobody teaches infants how to do this, yet they do it all over the world. This hints at the behavior’s strong evolutionary roots. They are scientists, as their parents suspected all along. And their laboratory is the whole world...

“If you look at 4-year-olds, they are constantly asking questions. But by the time they are 6 ½ years old, they stop asking questions because they quickly learn that teachers value the right answers more than provocative questions. High school students rarely show inquisitiveness. And by the time they’re grown up and are in corporate settings, they have already had the curiosity drummed out of them. Eighty percent of executives spend less than 20 percent of their time on discovering new ideas.

We do not survive so that we can learn. We learn so that we can survive.

Children with a growth mindset tend to have a refreshing attitude toward failure. They do not ruminate over their mistakes. They simply perceive errors as problems to be solved, then go to work.

Exercise—especially aerobic exercise—is fantastic for the brain, increasing executive function scores anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent.

Authoritative: Just right Responsive plus demanding. The best of the lot. These parents are demanding, but they care a great deal about their kids. They explain their rules and encourage their children to state their reactions to them. They encourage high levels of independence, yet see that children comply with family values.

...a willingness to make the right choices—and to withstand pressure to make the wrong ones, even in the absence of a credible threat or in the presence of a reward—is the goal of moral development.

Parents whose rules issue from warm acceptance and whose rationales are consistently explained end up being perceived as reasonable and fair, rather than as capricious and dictatorial. They are most likely to evince from their kids committed compliance rather than committed defiance.

As a new parent, you may feel sometimes that all children do is take from you, but it is just a form of giving in disguise. Kids present you with an ear infection, but what they are really giving you is patience. They present you with a tantrum, but they are really giving you the honor of witnessing a developing personality. Before you know it, you’ve raised up another human being.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

See Jack {early-mid November 2012}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack dance. He loves to bounce up and down to music.
{early November}

See Jack play. It doesn't take much to make this guy happy.
{early November}

See Jack laugh. He thinks that birthday cards that play music are amazing.
*only watch this video if you are prepared to be annoyed by Ren and Stimpy
{early-mid November}

See Jack play with Sophie. 
He wants so desperately to rough house with Sophie like his daddy does. 
Sophie isn't so sure about this.
Thankfully she is a good sport and refuses to be rough with him.
{mid November}

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trimming the Tree 2012

Last night we set up our first tree for the season {tree #2 will involve a trip to the Christmas tree farm and will be decorated with homemade ornaments}.

Our tree is 10-years old, purchased from Big Lots for $10 when we were first married. Daniel calls it our Charlie Brown tree. I like it, even if it is fake.

We cover it with ornaments – memories we have collected from years gone by. Unfortunately we didn't get an ornament on our honeymoon... this may mean we need to take a trip back to Keystone, Colorado in the future.

We were given tons of ornaments at our wedding {since we were married just before Christmas}. Then our first official ornament we bought as a couple was from a trip to Hawaii in 2004. Since then we have picked up ornaments on every vacation that we could.

We have been blessed to have some amazing memories over the years and look forward to more in our future.

Besides our memory ornaments, another tradition we have is drinking my decadent hot chocolate, eating homemade cookies and watching a Christmas movie.

This year we shared the cookies with Jack, but waited until he was in bed to drink our hot chocolate and watch Home Alone. I forgot how funny this movie is. It also makes me feel old. Just a bit. I will never tire of watching it though {which is saying a lot because there aren't many movies that I will repeat -- Christmas movies being the exception}.

After Jack was in bed we spent a little time discussing traditions. Not just the fun ones, but ones we want to start incorporating that will teach Jack that there is more to the season than hot chocolate and ornaments and gifts. We want to teach the spirit of giving, of helping others and being thankful. Jack is still pretty little so we kind of get a "pass" this year, but we really want to model what the season is truly about.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Daniel thinks we looked like the Clampett's coming to town. 
We had a full vehicle, a full roof rack and a trailer!

We try to alternate holidays with our families as best we can. Some holidays this means we double up and see everyone. Some holidays it means we see who we can. It gets trickier the older we get – especially as our families grow.

This year was slated to be Thanksgiving with the Moores. My parents are taking care of my Grandmother in Arkansas and my sister and her family were going to her in-laws in Florida, so it was impossible to see both of our families this year. 

We just make an effort to see as many people as we can on each holiday {within reason}.

My brother was going to be around so we invited him over for the traditional Moore breakfast. He was game, but left in the afternoon to go home to cook a turkey for his friends who would be celebrating with him that evening.

Daniel's youngest sister, Emily, took charge of Thanksgiving this year. Last year Amy {Daniel's middle sister} hosted both Thanksgiving breakfast and Christmas Eve {and did an fantastic job} and the year before that, we hosted the Moores at our house in Alabama

I think rotating years is an excellent way to allow everyone a chance to be in charge and do things how they would want them done. Plus it spreads out the burden of planning/cooking/cleaning.

Emily works full time and is also enrolled in night school full time. She certainly has her hands full with her own life. But even so, she did a great job of getting Thanksgiving planned and on the table. She handled not one but two big meals in the same day, which is pretty impressive.

Unfortunately on Thanksgiving day Jack developed a mild fever some time after breakfast. Poor little guy just wanted to be held and cuddled for most of the day.

After some baby Tylenol and a brief evening nap, he was ready to play again. He was also very interested in our dessert.

Friday morning, we did not go shopping, but we did get up and go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast with Daniel's grandmother. 

Jack had a blast playing in the country store -- that place is as good as any toy store!

When it was all said and done, Jack was worn out. After two days of off and on fever and a barky cough {probably croup}, he seems to be on the mend.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...