Thursday, May 26, 2011

When Morning Has Broken

Sorry it has been a few days friends.... life got a little crazy for me and I had to take a few days to sort myself out. Between the dance studio recital, photo shoots, and some stuff going on at home... my thoughts are like the waves on a stormy sea.

It is in times like these that I rely heavily on meditation, my friends, and my "silver-lining" outlook on life to keep me from running for the hills. I can easily get too caught up trying to perfect everything, keep everyone happy, be the super-mom that is expected, and then I find myself in the midst of a mental breakdown. I have to remember to take a deep breathe, remember that I have had so much more placed on my shoulders and was just fine, and take everything one item at a time.

I really appreciate all the kind words you all leave me, the thoughts, inspiration, and love that I feel from my friends. Right now, my life is weighing down on me and I am struggling to figure out how to untangle the strings. In a way I am thankful for the craziness of dance recital time because once again my craft is helping me through the rough patches! Thank you and the normal, ever-cheerful Connie will be back tomorrow. Kisses, hugs, and well wishes to all!
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Pinterest, How I Love Thee!

If you are anything like me, you are always finding really cool things on the web. Images that strike your fancy, crafts to make, cute things to add to your home. Usually I share these things with you, my lovely readers, via a blog post. And I still will... but for myself I have found an easier way to keep track of all the coolness I see online- 

Pinterest is a cool site that lets you "pin" images that you see online to boards that you create. They can be any theme from crafting to a certain color, fashion to design inspiration. And no matter what site you are on, you can pin the images to your boards. Cool right? Well this is also a community, which adds an additional layer of coolness.

Personally, I love seeing what other people like. It's like people watching, only better. And as you look more, you can see trends in fashion, design, and even photography styles. For instance, I am seeing tons of braided hair and tutus....

If you look at my sidebar you can see a link to my boards. I believe you need an invitation sent to you still to join Pinterest, but it is 100% worth it. Especially if you are in a creative field and sometimes need a little inspiration!

Here are some really lovely things that I have found, just from browsing other people's boards:

Aren't they wonderful?! I am so excited to think about what I will find tomorrow! I love any site that makes virtual inspiration boards at the tips of my fingers... (which I would love to have painted like this:

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

My lil girl...

Words can't describe how much I love this little girl...
She is obsessed with my hair, and even though it hurts,
I wear it down so that she can play with it and pat it.
At night, she twines her fingers in my shirt and reaches for me,
making sure that I am near, 
and snuggles closer until we are one.
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Today I am....

:digging: this Ultimate Lego Roundup! I love playing with Legos and the girls!
:watching: Gnomeo and Juliet and remembering my first encounters with this famous play... I cried at the end...
:dancing: to this song. I want to not like her music but I just can't help myself! 
:reading: this book that I totally picked up because of the cover. I am addicted to Russian ballet stories that take place during the Romanov era!
:loving: this swim suit! I think it would flatter any figure... even curvy, " recently had a baby" ones!
:eating: french toast and mango- yummo!
:wishing: that the days would stay this springy, the kids would stay this little, and time would stop marching on across my face!
:hoping: that my knees hold out with all the dancing I am going to be doing cause it's a lot but I love it!
:making: some pop up cards thanks to this tutorial
:browsing: over this new website, lots of kid-related eye candy to see!
:cleaning: out the girls dressers and closets... seasons change and the girls are growing out of sizes so fast...
:craving: some more color in this house. I am strongly considering painting my stairs like this...
:learning: more about vaccinations and the risks they pose to our children, all starting with this website.

What are you doing today?
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Plank Pulling: Courage Doesn't Always Roar

“Promise me you'll always remember: 
You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." 
                                  Christopher Robin to Pooh

A fellow blogger named Jen does a feature on her blog where she does something called plank pulling. She writes, "The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye." So I am here to pull out one of my own planks- my lack of courage.

Most of my close friends can tell you that when they need someone to give them a piece of courage I am always there. Whether it is someone pushing them around, some well needed advice, or just a push in the right direction, I try to give some gusto to whomever needs it. But when it comes to myself, I don't take my own advice. I cower, defer, avoid, and generally let people walk all over me because I don't want to be disliked and do not like confrontation. 

I let parents, whose children I care for, not pay me when they pick up their kids late. I don't ask for raises that I deserve because I don't want to make waves. I avoid mentioning that we homeschool if I don't think the other person will be understanding. And I don't breastfeed in public without a cover because I don't want to deal with the stares and disapproving looks, especially because Miss M is a casual drinker and likes to drink then look around a lot. 

But I know I NEED to stand up for myself and our family values. I am so very proud to nurse my baby because I know that it is best for her and me,  I love homeschooling Gabby and AJ- I wish people did not have the stereotypes that they do about it, and I need to stop letting other people take advantage of me. Sigh... my head knows all these things but my gusto goes with the wind when push comes to shove. 

I realize a lot of people would say that I actually have a lot of courage- I stood up for my daughter's education and despite a lack of support from most friends I did what I had to do to make sure she was happy and loved learning. I was the one who told my teachers that we were being abused at home and needed to get out. And I stood up to my OB/GYN and left her practice when I was being forced into a c-section based on convenience instead of need. But... it is all the little things that I lack the courage for, things that aren't really hurting anyone unless you add them all up. Then they do matter...

So I guess that I need to start taking my own advice, strap on some cajones, and realize that the only person I am hurting is myself when I don't stand up for my beliefs and values. Cheers!
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Books Everywhere!

Every Monday we go to the library and pick out books for the week. Gabby chooses her books for school which always include her main interest, this past month it has been birds, along with a history book, a fictional story, and whatever else catches our eye. Lately her choices have been so wonderful that I wanted to share the list of books that we have taken home for the week... it is a lot!!!

Gabby's Book List

Of course AJ picks out books too which are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, and I discovered her using her finger to follow the words and pretending to sound them out. It made me so proud to see her trying by herself to read and creating a story using the pictures!
AJ is really interested in hippos right now, for some reason rainbow colored ones are her favorite thing to draw... she is a very creative girl with animals!

AJ's Book List

I love our weekly trips because I get to watch my girls explore one of my favorite places and see what they are interested in. I know that they can have free reign there, get however many and whatever books interest them and will be exposed to new words and ideas.
Plus it gives me a chance to get my own books. I always read before bed and devour books like chocolate!
Note to self: No more reading Dean Koontz at night, alone, before bed! 
I had to stop myself from covering all the mirrors and sleeping with the lights on! 
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

Hola ya'll! Well after a very rough week I can honestly say that I am looking forward to Monday. I am hopping back on the No Yelling Wagon, reaching deep within that calm mommy inside, and going to set the example that I so want to be for my girls. Hopefully this rainy weather will stop so that we can get back to our regularly scheduled program of bike riding, gardening, and playing! Here are some cool things that I wanted to share before I forget them:

I am clutching this article from Tiny Buddha like it is a life-raft... good-bye bad moods!

We love going to the movies when it is bad out or too hot but these days it is really pricey. If your kids are movie buffs too check out the Summer Movie Clubhouse for a GREAT summer movie deal- 10 movies for only $5 if you get the whole set or $1 per show at the ticket box!!!

Of course, summer also means lazy reading days on the beach, at the park, or wherever else we decide to plunk down. Check out Border's Double Dog Dare Reading Challenge or Barnes and Nobel's reading program to earn free books!

I would love to organize our garden like this... so neat and tidy...

Gabby is starting to really notice nature and I wanted her to start a nature journal this summer. This is a great example of a simple journal!

And of course there is always a new Etsy find... today's new discovery is a shop called Andrew's Reclaimed. I love beautifully polished and simple decor and this wood shop delivers all that and more. Check them out, especially this neat woodpecker feeder!

Well, that's it! Here's to a new week, a fresh start, and many new discoveries...
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Friday, May 13, 2011

:these moments:

By the Beautiful Sea
Love These Paints!

Drifter's City
Swinging High

Pasta Garden

Hopefully these moments will stick in my memory more than those of yesterday's parenting disasters... kids fighting, baby wailing, preschooler meltdowns, my super sensitive 6yr old crying over everything possible...

Yep, I am just going to look at my pasta garden and channel my inner Zen Mama!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Puzzle Blocks Tutorial

My puzzle blocks

Aj has reallllly been into puzzles lately...
actually, she adores them more than anything!
So I decided to try making her some cute puzzle blocks.
Well, since we have been watching food shows like 
Kitchen Nightmare, Cake Boss, and Man vs. Food
I found this adorable (and free!) digital scrapbooking clip art that was perfect-
little Italian chefs.
Italian Blocks

It was really easy to make these blocks...
here is what you need:
(2) 1.5 inch wooden blocks
images to go on the blocks 
(you can get the images that I used, altered to fit the blocks here)
modge podge and a brush
sanding paper

Ok, here's the how-to for making two-block puzzles:
1. Use a ruler to cut out your image so that it fits as a whole on two blocks.
2. Cut that image in half, forming (2) 1.5x1.5 inch images
3. Spread some Modge Podge on the block face, lightly
4. Place the image down, smoothing it gently
5. Spread some more Modge Podge on top of the image, lightly
6. After the block is dry, sand the edges slightly
7. Repeat on all the sides and the play!

There are so many things you can do with this... custom ABC blocks, puzzles, photo gifts!
Notes: * I used Modge Podge because the blocks were not in danger of going in a mouth. Use a non-toxic sealant for making baby blocks.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

5 Months Old!


This is a couple days late thanks to a crazy schedule and Mother's Day, but Miss Moira is now 5 months old! Oh my how the time is flying by!

5 Months Old!!Moira's personality is so cheerful, calm, and watchful. She has started reaching for things she wants, Spooky being her favorite target of love. She looooooves food and has fingertips tastes of just about everything we eat from avocado to pasta sauce.

An interesting thing about Miss Moira is that she discovered how to scoot off her floor bed. I heard her wake up at about 3 in the morning one night. I looked down and saw her laying there... in the hallway! She managed to get all the way out of her room before babbling for me! Moira doesn't really cry too much so it was quite a surprise. =)

Moira is learning who everyone is in the family and smiles the biggest for her sisters, especially Gabby. Whenever we want smiley pictures of Moira we get Gabby to make her laugh!

I could go on and on about this little girl because she is pretty much my world. Let's just say that everyday I thank my lucky stars for this little girl, her kisses, smiles, and love!
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thoughts on Motherhood

I started writing this post, thinking that I had some inspirational insights to motherhood. Then I realized that this whole blog is about motherhood. It is something I am and I practice everyday, 24/7. I craft for my kids, take photos of them, advocate for their education, cheer on their accomplishments, encourage them with their challenges, and teach them everything I know.

Mother's Day is a reminder that even though my own mother was not a good example of parenting, I will be a good example to my girls, setting them up to be good mother's themselves someday. Being a mom is a tough job, I don't think anyone will argue with that. But for me it is something that I wanted to be more than anything and I never forget that not everyone is as lucky as I am.

These three little girls who call me mom are my world. They inspire me, challenge me to be the best "me" possible, and love me the way no one else can.

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow moms, mom-to-be, mothers of angels, and mother's in spirit. Enjoy your day!
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

5 Things I Know for Sure

There are some days when I feel like I don't know a darn thing, but here are 5 things I know for sure:

1. Nursing clothes are pretty blah unless you know where to look... I NEED this sundress in orange and this awesome nursing bra! Who says you need to dress plain and dull if you are nursing?!

2. I am over all the rainy weather Cleveland has been getting! This fort-making bag makes a super gift and until we can garden for real I am making this gardening sensory bucket for the girls to play in.

3. There is something about homemade sweet tea that just makes everything right in the world. This awesome white tea make such a refreshing cold brew! And if you are needing some activities to do with your tea-drinking kids, check out this month's Action Pack from Whip Up. (Pssst... go here to get a code for 20% off the $5 Mini-mag... what a steal!!!)

4. Days are flying faster than I ever thought possible. My oldest girl now can ride a bike without training wheels and my baby is 5 months old today. When people tell you to cherish these days because they fly by, believe them!

5. Even when life gets a little crazy, fate hands you the tools to right yourself again. I have found my parenting inspiration, got an additional job teaching at a local dance studio, met new neighbors, planted flowers that will make my days sunny and colorful, and am surrounded by great music that lifts the spirit.... it is so very good here.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.For more moments, visit SouleMama

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

No More Yelling Over Spilled Milk!

No, that isn't my playroom... but it could be any given day.
What is the difference from last week until now?
How I react to it.

Remember this post that I wrote about a few days ago? 
How I noticed that I am not being the calm peaceful parent that I want to be 
because I am yelling all the time...
Well I took it to heart and can honestly say that 
I wish everyone would read it and realize what truth there is written there.

Since reading that post by my fellow mommy and homeschooler
my days are 100% smoother,
my girls actually listen to my words instead of tuning me out,
the lying has stopped,
and there is a "niceness" to everyone's demeanor.

No, it isn't a miracle drug and no, I haven't started spanking, using timeouts, or any other punishment.
In fact, all punishments and threats are gone
Of course I still parent and pay close attention to how my girls are acting.
But where the old Connie would have FLIPPED out at a mess like above,
the new Connie simply turns on the clean up music and has everyone work together to pick up.
Simple right?! 

I realized that I am setting the tone for the day,
when I am stressed and yell, 
the kids get just as frazzled and then the day goes to hell in a handbasket!!
And in the end, it is all small stuff...what is really worth more?
A trusting and loving relationship with my kids,
or a playroom where nothing gets played with because I want it to stay clean?
(Who the heck cares anyhow?!)

So there ya have it...
and I promised my girls out loud that I am no longer yelling,
so I am held accountable by them
and remember that I made a promise.

I am pretty sure everyone is a lot happier that there is no more angry mommy in the house!
(If you want to read more from the genius, this is a good post... and this one... oh what the heck, just read it all!!)
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Homeschooling Post

With the formal school year winding down I have been thinking a lot about our adventures in schooling this year. We started out in the norm... waking up at 7:15, hurry through breakfast, lots of chaos and stress, going to a public school with a great reputation, homework and PTO meetings... even though my heart told me that this wasn't right for our sensitive, dreamy eyed oldest girl.

Today we have an eclectic, non-conforming routine that involves weekly library trips, singing scales in the car to teach music, throwing bananas at knives to demonstrate gravity and velocity,  and go more with the flow of life. It is wonderful, scary, funny, frustrating, fun, tiring, challenging and rewarding everyday.

What I enjoy most though is the HUGE amount of resources available for kids to learn from, not just homeschoolers. There are so many great places that supplement an education... here is a quick list of some of our favorite tools, site, and books!

Gabby is really into birds so we are participating in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Celebrate the Urban Bird study. You sign up, they send you a kit, and then you get to bird watch and send in your observations. A great introduction to nature studies.

Polymers are pretty interesting for kids and this is a great experiment to do that looks at color and polymers.

Reading is a huge part of our day and now you can register your homeschool in the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program. Yay for books and pizza!

Speaking of books, we love the "You Wouldn't Want to be..." series! The books introduce periods of history in ways that interest and engage kids, plus shed some light on some pretty overlooked people... I definitely wouldn't want to be a servant in the Victorian era- yuck!

Another cool series is the "See Inside" ones by Usborne. So many flaps to look at and another interesting way to look at the body, how things work, and inside buildings.

Science really interests Gabby so I think that this homemade Lava Lamp experiment is perfect to try!

Artistic ChemistryBut my favorite site for getting worksheets, experiments, poems, writing exercises and more is It is a great site, easy to navigate, and has tons of worksheets to help introduce concepts which we then apply to the real world.

So that is where we are with our homeschool... it is a great experience and I know Gabby loves it because she asks to do "school" stuff. Be sure to check the Homeschool Links tab at the top, I try to add sites and such that help me as I see them!  Cheers!
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