Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Few Mommies' Resolutions For 2012

As 2011 comes to a close, we here at Mumbling Mommy find ourselves in a reflective mood. It has been a great year for some of us and not-so-great for others. No matter what life dealt us in the past year we did our best to enjoy the good times and make the best of the bad days. Thank you for letting us get to know you, readers. We look forward to even more conversations in the coming year and getting to know you even better. Look for informative "Mommy 101" posts, announcements about life events and the same honest posts we already pride ourselves in writing in the coming year.

In the time-honored tradition of making New Year's resolutions, we have a few of our own here at Mumbling Mommy. We would love to hear what yours are too and are interested to see if any of them are the same as ours.

Wishing you and your family health and happiness in the coming year!

Resolutions Ten Years In The Making

By Rachael

It’s been at least a decade since I've made any New Year’s resolutions. I guess there’s no better time than 2012 to renew the practice.

I have two goals this year. First of all, I’m making the traditional resolution to lose a little weight. There are the last few pounds from my recent pregnancy with Abby, on top of the few pounds I never lost after giving birth to Megan, on top of the couple of pounds I put on the first year of my marriage when, in the midst of moving, getting a new job, and adjusting to married life, I lost my exercise habit. I’m still at a healthy weight, but wouldn't we all be happier if we lost a couple of pounds?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Single Child Envy

By Katie

When I wrote for a different blog a few years back, I posted a piece about a survey that stated that married moms envied single moms. The gist of the survey was that the responsibility of having a husband on top of having children made married moms feel like it might be easier at times to be single instead. I must admit, I liked the results of the survey since I was a single mom who often envied married moms. In my post, I rambled on about how I could see how married moms would feel that way since being a mom is pressure enough, minus the husband. I also may have written something about how being single was great because I could leave dirty gym clothes on the bathroom floor. This prompted a few responses from angry readers, the most memorable of which was a handwritten letter from one who told me that one day I would be a "horrible wife."

Well, I'm not a single mom anymore. I still leave dirty gym clothes on the bathroom floor but so far, my husband has not declared me "horrible." I do not envy single moms -- not by a long shot. I have found myself envying a different group of moms lately, however. It has nothing to do with husbands, or lack of husbands, or marriage at all. It is simply a numbers game.

I have "single child" envy and am not ashamed to admit it.

Still Digging Myself Out Of The Christmas Toys

By Katie

Please excuse any typos. I'm writing this from a small island in my home that has not been overrun with new Christmas toys. For anyone new to the blog, I have three children at home age four and under. This means 3x the toys at Christmas time and 3x the toys throughout the year for birthdays. Since our kids are not quite old enough to accept a handful of cash, it means a lot of plastic items that are impossible to remove from the packaging without the jaws of life. Add in the overstimulation of needing to play with every single toy for exactly 30 seconds before tossing it aside and playing with the next, then doing the toy circuit again, and even two days after Christmas it's a disaster around here.

Our New Kitchen
This is not the fault of my husband or I. Last week we both looked at each other and said, "I guess we should get the kids something for Christmas, huh?" To which we both answered the other with "No. They have so much and will already get so much from other people." The season of greed got the better of us, however, and on Christmas Eve we found ourselves in the kids' section at the bookstore looking for a few things to wrap from "Santa." We found a total of six books, two for each kid, and called it a day. We wrapped them up. From Santa. I already knew we had plenty of room on the bookshelf to accommodate.

So why then are there toy parts, empty boxes and children fighting over both things seemingly in every room of my home? (I'm now writing this locked in the bathroom, btw.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Day Off

The bloggers at Mumbling Mommy are taking a day to enjoy this federal holiday with their families.

We will be back, bright and early, Tuesday morning with fresh content.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Girl Power, And All That Stuff

By Katie

I found out on Wednesday that I am having a little girl. It took some time and coaxing from the ultrasound tech (who was encouraging baby to stretch out by shoving the wand into my full bladder) but just as we were about to give up, our little angel gave us a glimpse of what she's made of. I thought that I sensed disappointment in my husband's voice when he told my four-year-old stepson Ferris "It's a girl." Sort of like, "Oh man. No boy for us, buddy." My husband told me later that he is excited for another sweet little girl (we already have two) but just a little nervous about having three teenage women living under one roof at the same time.

Our Little Girl
I guess I cannot blame him for having that fear, even though the teen years seem eons away to me.

I, for one, breathed a huge sigh of relief when I was told that baby is a girl. Unknowingly, I had been stressing out about the possibility of having a little boy. I have nothing against the male sex. In theory, I wanted this baby to be a boy to even out the numbers in our home and give hopeful Ferris a little brother. In reality, I knew it did not matter what I put in the "pro" or "con" column for either sex because the determination was already made. I only needed a prodding ultrasound tech to find the proof.

Still, something about hearing the word "girl" made me wipe some sweat off my forehead. Phew. A girl. Okay. I've had a baby girl before. I can do this. Girl power, and all that stuff.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thursday Three: Ways You Can Still Make A Difference This Holiday Season

By Katie

The mad rush to get everything done before the "big day" is upon us. Even the most organized of holiday divas get a little kooky three days before Christmas. Is everyone checked off your nice list? Do you have all the ingredients to make your famous pumpkin pie? Did you mail everything on time, or do you need to rush to the post office and frantically overnight some envelopes of cash?

In all the hubbub, it can be easy to forget that there is more to the season than gifts, pies and standing in line at the post office. If you haven't had time to reach out this holiday season, there is good news. You still have time. Here are a few easy ways that you can still make a difference this Christmas.

1. Donate Your Time. Find a local homeless shelter that will be serving meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Call and find out if you can help out for a few hours. If your children are old enough, bring them along. If you think a soup kitchen atmosphere may be too overwhelming for your little ones, find out if your church, police department or local hospital needs any help delivering food or toys. Spending just one hour of your time can help a large number of organizations that are trying to give every family a wonderful Christmas this year.

2. Donate Your Stuff. If you have cleaned out some things to make room for all of the shiny, new stuff that Santa will be dropping off on Christmas Eve, find a good home for the oldies. Ask teachers at your childrens' schools if there is a particular family in need or contact your church. Finding a specific home for your old items is the best plan, but if all else fails, make a trip or two to the local thrift shop to unload.

Crazy Schedules & Crazier Kids: Welcome Beth

Anthony III and Halle
Hello all! I am Beth and I am excited to be blogging.

I am a 29-year-old mommy to two beautiful and crazy kids. My firstborn is Halle (pronounced like Halle Berry) who is 6.5 years old. My son is Anthony III and he is 2.5 years old. I am not married to their father, but we have been together for 8.5 happy years. Maybe we will get married one day... maybe we won't... all I do know is that we are a family and our focus is exactly that. Family.
We both are full-time working parents who work opposite schedules. I work days and he works nights. It has been this way since day one and not that it makes it any easier but it’s pretty much all we know. To be perfectly honest, because of our work schedules, I feel like a single mom. Oh yeah, wait! I forgot to mention I coach cheerleading too. We stay busy over here.

In Life, A + B Truly Does Equal C

By Melissa

As you may know from this blog, I am 35, recently divorced and a mother a 2-year-old girl. Not what I had planned when I accepted the proposal, organized a large wedding and excitedly planned to have a baby but as I tell my students “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.” 
Still, though I hate to admit it, I occasionally ask “Why?” and “How?”  But then I quickly remember that if all of this had not happened then I would not be where I am right now -- cuddling on the couch watching "Toy Story" with Lindsay and typing a few words at a time, while I laugh at every part that I am programmed to react to.    

In the car we have slowly started to phase out the nursery rhymes during our hour drive and when the Christmas songs overload my brain, I happily enjoy listening to my country station.  During these “White Christmas” breaks, I am reminded that others feel the same way about being in the right place in their life right now despite a difficult past. Just last week I heard ‘Led Me Here to This’ by Darius Rucker and ‘The Day Before You’ (ironically my wedding song) and ‘Bless this Broken Road’ by Rascal Flatts.  All of these songs recognize that the math equation A+B=C is true and share the belief that if A and B didn’t happen then neither would C.  If I didn’t break up with a former boyfriend, I would not have met my ex-husband and would not have had Lindsay and would not be having this terrific moment in the car with her.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Excess: I May Have Gone Overboard This Year

By Maddie

I went Holiday Overboard.

I’ve coined a new term: "Holiday Overboard."

Definition: Buying way too much stuff for way too many people.

I’m sure many, many other moms can relate to this term. My son is 3.5-years-old this Christmas. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited he is for Santa to come. His excitement may be slightly overshadowed by my excitement at BEING Santa, though! At his age, I know he will love anything and everything he receives. So I just kept buying.

That one-click button on Amazon is beyond dangerous. Cars 2 die-cast cars for half off at Target? Throw them in the cart! Gymboree having a half off sale, plus I have a 20% off coupon... time to stock up for spring (and buy some pants for a friend who mentioned needing them for her son). I know. Yikes!

‘Tis the season of excess, right? Guilty, party of one. Even my husband, who is usually very understanding about my shopping habit, has started to wonder if I have gone overboard. My mom has insisted that we put some stuff away for Easter or his birthday.

The mischievous 'Elf on the Shelf,' teepeeing our tree
It isn't all about consumerism at our house, though. We are trying to implement some fun family traditions along the way. We started with an Elf on the Shelf tradition this year. He causes all kind of mayhem in our house. My son seems to enjoying the fun of that tradition.

The only thing I feel like Holiday Overboard has caused is a lack of “reason for the season,” if you will. Now, we are not a religious family at all. So we don’t teach (at this point) what many consider the real reason for Christmas. Instead, we encourage giving to others without expecting anything in return and helping those that are less fortunate than we are.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Talking To My Son About Melanoma: I Can't Say The "C" Word

By Tricia

We all want to protect our children’s innocence and keep their world safe and happy for as long as were semi in control of it. I struggle with how much information about my health I should share with my kids since I was diagnosed with stage III melanoma last year. I wonder how much to share with my son in particular, who is five years old. He is old enough to know that something is wrong but not old enough to grasp the details.
If I don't say the "c" word, does it cease to exist?
Photo via

I’ve been very careful over the past year, since my cancer diagnosis, to never utter the “c”word in front of my son. We talk about how my arm is different now because of my surgery (I permanently lost the ability to lift more than a few pounds and can’t do any repetitive motions or my arm will swell and be painful). He refers to my cancer as my “gumball,” the name I gave the lump that turned out to be my affected lymph nodes that were removed. I know he wonders what happened and if it is serious but I have no clue how to handle it. So I just avoid the topic completely unless he asks directly about it.

In the days after diagnosis, I couldn’t look at my son without crying. I tried to keep it together but the tears would just roll out no matter what I did. I told him I had allergies. It was the best I could come up with in the moment. Every time I saw his face I imagined me not being there to tuck him into bed or make him breakfast or take him to school….who would do those things? Who could love him as much as I do? My husband is an amazing father but is it possible for a mother’s love to ever be replaced? He knew I went to the doctor's office constantly and he knew when I had surgery but I never wanted to admit to him that I was scared.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays, Internet. I Cherish You.

By Katie

I jumped on board the Christmas cookie train on Saturday. Despite my hesitation to dig myself into a flour hole that would take a minimum of 12 - 14 to emerge from, I decided it was about time I threw my hat in the holiday baking ring. Every other mom/grandma/elf bakes cookies. I really should too.

Call it pregnancy nesting syndrome. Or a bite from the holiday bug. Or just plain crazy, but I decided to make no less than three different types of cookies to hand out to loved ones and service people in our neighborhood. My three-year-old daughter enthusiastically offered to help and then enthusiastically lost interest about twenty minutes in. She told me to call her when it was time to use the cookie cutters. Then after cutting out about four candy cane shapes, she told me to call her when it was time to decorate with the icing. Surprisingly, she was nowhere to be found when it was time to clean up.

A few of the gazillions of cutouts we decorated
Despite the day not being the ideal mother-daughter experience I had envisioned (unless you count the bonding with my unborn child -- who may or may not be a daughter -- who had no escape from my rousing renditions of "Last Christmas" and "All I Want For Christmas Is You," high notes and all), I enjoyed myself. I reconnected with my inner Betty Crocker. I relieved stress by (over) kneading my cutout cookie dough. Most of all, I became incredibly grateful for the Internet.

Memoir Monday: An Angel For Emilia

By Katie

** Memoir Monday is a weekly series that features pieces of my memoir-in-progress that covers my first pregnancy. Click here to see past entries. **

During that December trip home, my Mom and I went to visit my great aunt Betty. She is a frail, white-haired Polish woman in her late 80s who scoots and hunches over when she walks. Aunt Betty is a devout Catholic. Aunt Betty is devout Polack. She will be the first to confirm both things.

As a pre-teen, Aunt Betty had given me my first and only rosary when she caught me admiring hers. To tell the truth, I thought it was just a necklace -- a beautiful string of beads with a bleeding Christ medallion hanging from the end. I went to Catholic high school for a year where I learned how to use my rosary to plead with the Virgin Mother to talk to her Son about the ails of my life and see if he could help me out. I liked the part of praying the rosary where I could assign a bead to each person I loved or each issue that troubled me. I hated repeating the phrase “fruit of thy womb” fifty times. All I could think of were those dumb guys on the underwear commercials dressed like grape clusters.

The gift of the rosary from Aunt Betty mainly just hung from my bedpost. Something about the shiny pink crystals being within reach in the dark was comforting to me as a young woman.

Photo via The Wooden Wagon
Aunt Betty could be found at Polish-language mass each week at St. Stanislaus cathedral. Her Christmas cards always featured the virgin Madonna atop a donkey on her pilgrimage to Bethlehem with a message from the book of Luke, which many Catholics maintain is the most accurate of the Gospels. Aunt Betty made meals for the sick and poor. Until she could not drive any longer, she ran errands for people in the neighborhood who couldn’t get to the store. She had a dog named Rufus.

Aunt Betty was a single mom. Her only child Steven was about my dad’s age. Over the years I never knew the real deal with that story. At one time I believed that Betty’s young lover had gone off to the Korean War and never returned. I had also heard something about a bowling tournament in Ohio that led to a baby boy nine months later. I didn't know the details. I knew better than to ask. All I knew was that I had always admired my Aunt Betty, no time more than now -- my first Holy Advent season as a single, pregnant non-virgin.  ­­­­­ 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Easy Christmas Cookie Recipe: Rudolph In Four Ingredients

By Rachael

When I work in the kitchen, my preschooler loves to drag a chair up to the counter to help me measure and pour ingredients, so I’m always looking for fun recipes we can make together. Last year, a simple internet search yielded these cookies that look like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We took them to a party on Christmas Day at my in-laws’ house. I like that they are easy to make. I also like that I get lots of compliments from people thinking I came up with the idea all by myself!

If you’re a perfectionist like me, you can help your children assemble these cookies so they will look like they’re ready for a magazine photo shoot, or you can leave the decorating entirely up to the kiddos and your cookies may look like they’ve pranced out of some sort of Picasso painting.  Either way, they will look cute and taste delicious!

Rudolph Cookie Recipe

-          One package of peanut butter cookie dough

-          One large bag of M&M’s

-          One package of chocolate-covered pretzels

-          One small tube of white or brown icing

Shape peanut butter cookie dough into small balls and bake according to directions, but do not make the usual criss-cross design with a fork. While cookies are still warm, press on chocolate-covered pretzels to make Rudolph’s antlers. Use a drop of icing to attach a red M&M for the nose. Use more icing to attach M&M’s of another color for eyes. Serve when cookies are cool.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

As Long As Baby Is Healthy... Yeah, Riiiight.

My husband and I have reached that exciting point in the pregnancy when we are anxiously counting down the days until we finally get to see our baby... on an ultrasound screen. Yes, dear readers, in a few days we will go to our second trimester ultrasound, a.k.a. the "sex" ultrasound. Forget the fact that the ultrasound tech will be taking valuable measurements and evaluating the overall health of our halfway-there child. Just tell us if baby is a boy or girl. Please.

I say that I really do not care either way. I really do not. So why do I want to know the sex so dang badly?

I asked my husband what he thought about the excitement surrounding finding out the sex (for those who actually want to know). He gave me a long list of practical reasons that finding out can be helpful, like knowing what you need to buy (though I'm pretty sure most babies have similar needs whether boy or girl). He said that knowing helps narrow down the naming process. In our case and with all families with other children at home, knowing if a "brother" or a "sister" is on the way can be helpful in preparing the other children for the adjustment. I agreed with him but still did not feel like we were getting to the core of the matter -- the real reason that second trimester ultrasound is met with so much anticipation by so many parents.

Thursday Three: Things Parents Can Learn From Grandparents

My three-year-old daughter and I just returned from a long weekend visit to our family in Northwest Indiana. Though it was a short trip, we spent a lot of quality time with our family and friends.

I am always amazed when I watch my parents interact with my daughter and my stepchildren. The depth of kindness floors me. I feel the same way observing my in-laws with the kids and with my daughter's paternal grandmother. There is just something about the way that a grandparent loves that is different, and fuller, than a parent's love.

I know that as parents we are the self-proclaimed "experts" on our kids, but I think that there are a few things that we could learn from our own parents when it comes to our little ones.

Grandma Sally and London
We Should Spoil Our Kids (Sometimes): I know that parenting is all about teaching kids boundaries and that they just "can't have everything" they want in life. But sometimes, just sometimes, maybe it's okay to buy them that $2 matchbox car from the grocery store just because they asked for it. It is important not to set the precedent that everything that is asked for will be received but I think that parents can be a little bit too withholding sometimes. The answer doesn't always have to be a "no." Sometimes, just sometimes, maybe it should be "Okay sweetie. If that will make you happy, I'd be happy to do it for you."

We Should Make Our Kids Feel Special: It can be really easy as a parent to say a lot of things that are intended to make our kids feel good about themselves. "Oh honey, I'm so proud of you!" or "That was great. You are doing so well at that!" or "You're the best." This is all well and good but words are just that... words. Grandparents don't just tell kids that they are special. They make them feel like they are special by dropping whatever they are doing to read a story, or scratch a back, or watch a silly children's TV show, or just have a chat. Parents are constantly trying to find the "balance" between work, maintaining a home and spending quality time with their kids. Maybe it's because I work at home, but I generally feel like I am the worst at the last part of the balancing act. Between answering emails, bidding on jobs, blogging and keeping the house (somewhat) clean, I often feel like I'm sending my kids away to do their own thing so that I can do

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fossilized Play-Doh Is The New "Normal": Introducing Sleepless Rachael

Rachael and Family
Hello, mommy friends! My name is Rachael, and I’m so excited that Katie is sharing her blog with writer friends like me. Also, I want to announce I’m having a great week. We have a newborn in the house, and I have started getting one four-hour stretch of sleep at night. People who have never had children may think that sounds crazy, but four hours (in a row!) is really something to brag about.

In my sleep-indulged life before children, I was a newspaper editor in the small town where I grew up. I managed the weekly faith section, writing columns and stories about faith issues and church events. I also edited copy and designed pages for the daily portion of the paper and did other miscellaneous newspapery things. A few years into my stint at the paper, I ventured into the world of online dating. I soon met Josh on eHarmony. We got married five years ago and I moved to suburban St. Louis where he was already living and working, and we are now living happily ever after. I dabbled in freelance book editing during the first year of our marriage, and I’ve drafted a children’s historical novel that I continue to tweak, but most of my time now is spent as a stay-at-home mom caring for our two daughters, tiny Abigail and her big sister, 3-year-old Megan.

When I was pregnant with Abigail, I had visions of what life would be like with two sweet little girls. We’d spend these coming winter days cuddled in the rocking chair reading story books or playing with dolls. We would form new mother-daughter bonds and pass our days tranquilly. Reality is slightly different. A day in my life often goes something like this: I sit down to nurse the baby. Megan goes into the bathroom and poops on the potty. Megan hollers for me to help wipe her bottom. I put still-hungry Abby down. Abby cries. Megan, finding the crying to be somehow amusing, joins in with loud fake wails of her own. I can’t decide whether to throw up my hands or plug my ears. Rinse and repeat.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mom, Coach, Blogger: Meet Aubrey

Aubrey and Family
Folks, I would like to introduce myself using my first name, Aubrey. I call this my "first" name because I have another name. My second name is of great importance and rings in my ears 25 hours a day, seven days a week. My second name is "Mommy." Although both of my children have yet to utter a ‘mama” or bellow a “mommy” at their young age, I see them call me mommy all the time just by looking into their innocent bright eyes. My number one, full time job is mothering my two children. I take an extreme amount of pride and joy in devoting my love, time, and energy to my two little angels.
My first child Emily is a rambunctious and curious 27-month-old and is a shining little star. Emily keeps my loving hands full with her spunky demeanor, golden willingness to “help” and her Sensory Processing Disorder, which requires several hours of one-on-one therapy each day.

My second child Anson is two-months-old and loves to awaken mama at 4:30 a.m. on the dot each morning for his breakfast. Luckily he just takes a bottle and isn’t expecting pancakes and eggs just yet.  He is an adorable little peanut and currently enjoys taking in the world like a fresh gulp of water at each new moment.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Memoir Monday: The First Slip

Memoir Monday is a weekly series that features snippets of my pregnancy memoir in progress. To see entries from previous weeks, click on the tag "Memoir Monday" at the bottom of this post. -- Katie

Though journalism is written in my DNA, I fell into the field haphazardly.

I got fired from my first professional job out of college. I was an “editor” at a pharmaceutical journal, which sounded downright glamorous to a 23-year-old. My office was in a tall, important building near the Ritzy communities of Northern Indianapolis. I interviewed well and was fairly certain my bosses had made a mistake hiring me for such a high title. Editor. I even got to write a little editor’s note at the beginning of each bi-monthly edition. 

At the risk of sabotaging future resumes, I will admit that I did very little editing. It was a sales job, plain and simple. The free journals were supplemented by advertising. The official sales team could sell more advertising space based on the type of pharmaceutical articles being written. I should explain here that I didn’t make commission off my sales. I simply set up the sales team to make commission and took home my paycheck that added up to somewhere in the mid-20K’s.

I suppose this is the stark reality of media in general, but I was disheartened at how my days as "editor" were spent cold calling scientists and trying to convince them to write (for free) for us. When it finally came time for me to do some “editing,” I was awash in terminology and concepts I did not understand. I fixed an occasional comma, shortened gigantic paragraphs and crossed my fingers that these people knew what they were talking about.

My bosses were really no help. Two guys from across the pond who headed up the American versions of the British originals. They operated the office like a bunch of fraternity boys, with high expectations and little guidance for their team of young professionals. We were given a very modest food allowance for business trips and expected to fly out on Sunday afternoons. There was no official vacation policy, but I was told I would likely get four or five days after I’d worked there for six months. This was an entry-level job for most of my colleagues and though we consistently complained to each other, we all lacked the experience and confidence to do anything about it.

There was an office rumor that we were going to be given an upcoming federal holiday off work.

“Okay, well that’s in like three days. Has anyone asked them?” I wondered.

Everyone shook their heads violently. No one wanted to ask and taint the possible perk with an expectation of it.

“Last year Liam just called us Sunday night and told us not to come in Monday morning.”

I left work that Friday night and headed out of town to visit Brian for the weekend. As I drove I started to get really angry at the fact that I didn’t know if I needed to drive back to my apartment on Sunday or Monday. I realized that there were miners working in deathly caverns and children working their fingers to the bone at a sewing machine in Asia somewhere. There were plenty of other workers with bigger problems. But damn. I was annoyed.

Blogger and Cancer Warrior: Welcome Tricia

I was intimidated at the prospect of writing for a blog, probably the same fear my 86-year-old grandfather has when someone talks about sending him a text message. But here goes...

My name is Tricia. I am a 34-year-old mother of two. I have a five-year-old son, Alex, and a one-year-old daughter, Evelyn. My husband Jason and I planned very well for our first child because I am an obsessive planner by nature. Our second child was a complete surprise though. I still ask her on a weekly basis, "Where did you come from?" But thank God she is here.

The last year and a half has been a complete roller coaster ride for my family. Once I got over the shock that our second child was on the way, I started to get really excited about it. I found out the weekend of July 4, 2010 that I was expecting a baby girl. I was over the moon -- couldn't wait to buy pink. Despite my constant worry about money and how we would manage a second child, I felt like that luckiest girl in the world. That feeling, however, didn't last very long.

On August 24, 2010, I went to my family doctor to find out the results of a biopsy from under my arm. I was told that I had stage III melanoma. I received a cancer diagnosis at 28 weeks pregnant. I immediately went home and looked up every bit of information that I could on my cancer... it's good to be proactive, right? Turns out, no, not so good for me. All of the information that I found pointed to less than five years for survival. Only about 30% of the people with my diagnosis make it past the five year mark. This was not the most promising information but I kept searching for positive material. I never did any that was slightly helpful or uplifting, and I haven't researched my cancer since that first dreary day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thursday Three: Must-Make Christmas Cookies

I'm going to make a holiday confession: I lack skills in the kitchen. It takes a lot for me to get excited enough about a recipe to clang through my pots and pans cupboard and lace up the ole' apron. Christmas cookies are such an occasion. Here are a few "must have" Christmas cookie recipes.


My mom used to make these when I was growing up and if you catch her on a good day, you can still talk her into whipping up a batch. Mom makes her kolaches from an old Polish family recipe. I found this recipe on for Jam Kolaches that resembles Mom's though. I highly recommend using apricot jam for the filling -- yum! This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup strawberry jam (apricot!)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Blend butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add in flour and mix thoroughly. Roll the dough into an 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut out dough with a 2-inch round cutter and place about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the jam on each cookie. Fold opposite sides together, slightly overlapping edges. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes. After kolaches have cooled, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

New Blogger: Meet Maddie and Her Messy Life

Hi blog world!

My name is Maddie. I am a 25-year-old working mom to 3.5-year-old Jackson. I have been married to my husband Les for a little more than 2 years (I know you are doing the math. Yes, kid first, then married. ). We live in Orlando, FL. No, we have not yet taken Jack to Disney.

My husband and I met in college and then went our separate ways. When he moved to Orlando after graduating from college, we became friends and then started dating. The rest is history!

Me, enjoying Central Florida in December
I have had a lot of ups and downs in the past few years. I was a stay at home mom until my son was 18-months-old, while I finished college and found a job. I have been working for a great company now for almost 2 years. Balancing a work and family life has been tough, but fun. I often feel like there are not enough hours in the day. We bought a house in November of 2010 and a car in January 2011. I feel like this cemented my adult status!

The past 6 months though, have been rough. In the spring of 2011, my husband and I decided that we were ready to add to our family. Our whip-smart nearly 3-year-old would make a great big brother! So we threw caution to the wind, if you know what I mean. In July, I felt nauseous on an airplane, which is very unusual for me. I craved ice cold fruit. I gagged when I brushed my teeth. On August 1, I took a pregnancy test. Sure enough, the 2 pink lines came up faster than I could blink. I was terrified and excited.

A Night Without Lindsay

Moms, when you have the night to yourself, do you find your heart missing your child?

After a busy week of teaching, appointments, and just life, I was looking forward to a night of watching the news on the couch while wearing pajamas. My two year old Lindsay was having a sleepover at her dad’s and I was excited to curl up with dinner and Brian Williams. 
I came home to a quiet house (ahhhh!) and started to make dinner. Suddenly I heard my fragile grandmother’s voice and of course I stopped what I was doing to make sure she was okay and not calling for help.  To my relief she was just fine, BUT she was calling for Lindsay. 
“Lindsay, where are you?  Lindsay?  Who is down there? Where is Lindsay?”  I smiled and yelled up that she was at her dad’s and I heard a disappointed voice say “ok” and then a bedroom door close.  I started to laugh, “Oh Nana, my day was good, too” I said to the empty space between the kitchen and her door. I knew that behind that door Lindsay’s Gigi (great grandma) was missing her “Cha-Cha Slide” dance partner and her red walker passenger.

I returned to making dinner and was jamming to the radio.  As I put the finishing touches on the vegetables, my dad walked in from work.  He said hello and walked straight to the T.V. room.  “Where is Lindsay?” he asked.  I told him.  “Oh. Until when?”  I explained that she would be back the next day. Dad changed and got comfortable, but I knew that he was missing his chair partner, his camera’s muse, and his Goldfish supplier.

My dad and I ate dinner while watching Seinfeld and laughing hysterically (a luxury in the Mickey/Oso world we live in).   I checked in on Lindsay through a text to her dad (you moms out there know how hard it is to check in while not interrupting their nightly routine) and was getting ready to start my work, when I chuckled to myself and said to my dad “I was just getting ready to go check on Lindsay.”  He told me “That will never change.” From such a stoic and conservative dad, my heart melted but then he added “The house just isn’t the same without her.” 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memoir Monday: The Secondhand Playpen

Hello Readers --

This is the third week of "Memoir Monday." For those of you dropping in for the first time, I have decided to post pieces of my memoir-in-progress on Mondays about my first pregnancy as a single mom. If you want to read past weeks, click on the tag "Memoir Monday" at the bottom of this post. As always, thanks for reading!

By Katie

The Secondhand Playpen

Every mother thinks she knows the gender of her baby long before an ultrasound technician confirms it. Though no woman will admit it, I believe the gender she suspects is the one that she desires. Pregnant women will say that they think they are having a boy because they have heart burn, or having a girl because they have the hiccups. Some will claim that a soothsayer colleague swung a pocket watch over her pregnant bump and declared the baby to be a girl because it swung side to side, or that the baby is “sitting low” in her belly so must be a boy.

It’s all crap, really. Whatever explanation a woman gives for her baby’s sex is just a cover so she doesn’t actually have to say “A mini-me at fifteen years old is too terrifying a thought. I really hope this baby is a boy.”

In fact, I believed my baby was a boy. I said it was because I had a “gut feeling” – which was true. I had a gut feeling that this baby better not come out with girly parts or I was going to have to marry the first bodybuilding jock that crossed my path, lay a rifle in his hand and put him on porch duty on date night.

I had started shopping at the Salvation Army near 192 and Orange Blossom Trail on Wednesdays toward the end of my first trimester. That was 50 percent off clothing day. I liked looking through the racks of secondhand onesies and baby jeans. The sale meant a cart full of baby clothes cost me about $10 per visit. Financially, I was doing okay. My day job at the paper paid my bills and my waitress moonlighting was cash in hand and money for savings. With my medical insurance, I still owed close to $900 to my obstetrician’s office that was due by the time I reached 30 weeks. When I had a checkup, I took some waitressing cash and paid a little toward what I owed. I had been warned that bill didn’t include my hospital stay, possible anesthesia or my financial responsibility if surgery was necessary. I also knew that waiting tables would be out of the question once the baby came, so I was trying to stash away as much money as I could. I could have spent my hard-earned cash on new baby clothes, but what was the point if my baby was just going to do all forms of vileness to his clothing the first time he wore it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday Three: Gifts Moms Want This Year

By Katie

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and if you are like me, you are adding new people to your list everyday. In the bustle of the season, I have not taken a whole lot of time to think about what I would like under my Christmas tree this year. My standard response to the question of what I want this year is "I don't need anything," which is true but not very helpful to the people that plan to get me a gift no matter what I say.

So if you would like to let your mom you appreciate her, here a few suggestions of what to get her. To my family and friends, you're welcome. And thank you, too.

1. A gift card for clothing. Moms are notorious for heading out to buy something for their wardrobe and ending up with something "cute" for their husbands or kids instead. Find a specific store that only carries women's clothing or at least demand that the mom on your list use the gift card ONLY for herself. My store this year is Motherhood Maternity. What's yours?

Kindle Fire, via

2. Something "techie." Men usually get the best deal during the holiday season on anything gadgety. Even  children are into the craze (and that's okay, technology is good for kids!).  Here's some news for you though: Moms like technology too. What's more, we often do not take the initiative to purchase anything that is just plain "cool." Look into iPods, tablets and the especially hot Kindle Fire. Feeling hip with the newest tech toy takes a bit of the edge off splitting up toddler fights and changing diapers. 

3.  Some time off. It's an oldie but a goodie -- give the mom in your life a day all to herself. If she enjoys the spa, send her there with a gift card. If she would just like some peace and quiet in her own home, offer to take the kids out for a few hours. If the mom in your life is not your own mom or your wife, offer to babysit so she can put her feet up for awhile. Remind her that she can't use the time to do laundry or pay bills online and maybe even put a good book in her hand before bidding adieu.  She needs to take the time to enjoy her guilty pleasures.

While you are here, you may enjoy the following posts:

Is There Anything You Won't Do in Front of Your Man?

Make it Earth Day, Every Day

Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Parents

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