The Graham Cracker Death Trap (A Gingerbread House FAIL)

Gingerbread House Fail

I’ve been dreaming about this day for years.  

The day we would sit together as a family, creating beautiful gingerbread houses that would make any Pinterest goer green with envy.  Oh, yeah. I got this.  Except not.

Gingerbread House

I was so excited to be able to share this special time with my toddler, making gingerbread houses for the first time.  Something I hoped we would be able to turn into an annual tradition. But now, my hopes and dreams have been forever ruined because I realize that I suck at making gingerbread houses.  I mean, I’m terrible at it.  I mean, it’s pretty bad. Like really bad.

Gingerbread House decorating

Let’s backtrack to earlier in the weekend when I  braved the crowds in hell at our local Walmart for some wine and gingerbread house making materials.  Somewhere in the store, nowhere near the candy and graham cracker aisles (because, you know, it’s Walmart and nothing makes sense), I saw actual gingerbread house decorating kits. “Pffft! PAH-LEESE,” I said to myself, “That’s for idiots who don’t know how to decorate their own houses. Not me!” And so I spent more than I care to admit on candy, frosting, graham crackers (which I used, instead of making gingerbread, to save time), and various other little treats that we could adorn our lovely homes with.

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As we sat down at the table to start decorating our homes, I was thrilled.  Mostly at the idea of documenting our awesome journey in gingerbread house making to gloat about on Facebook (yeah, I’m awesome) but also because it’s our first year doing this.  I actually cannot remember the last time I decorated a gingerbread house.  It may have been never.  I consider myself to be a relatively crafty person so I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to rock that shit.

Gingerbread House Decorating

My toddler lovingly placed rainbow sprinkles across her rooftop.

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She was so careful and meticulous about placing the decorations on her house.  I was so proud.

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My husband’s craftsmanship.  He is, perhaps, one of the least artistic people that I know and in this particular case, it worked to his advantage.  He was extremely proud that he created something that looked somewhat like a house and actually remained intact as he completed the project.  HOORAY lowered expectations.

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Pretty quickly after I started constructing my gingerbread mansion, I realized that I’m not cut out to be a contractor.  I have no idea what it means to create vaulted ceilings and it’s safe to say that no gingerbread men will be hiring me to play a part in the construction of their homes.  I opted for a flat roof with Kit Kat solar panels on the roof (because, you know, being environmentally conscious is important to me and it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was incapable of making a structurally sound roof).  It looks more or less like a safe house that would harbor a wanted terrorist for interrogation rather than a comfortable environment for any loving gingerbread family.

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At some point, through no fault of her own, my daughter’s house came crashing to the ground. Presumably crushing all of its gummy bear residents under mounds of sweet, sweet rubble.

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Here they stand…our condemned gingerbread neighborhood.

Next year we’re buying a kit.

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Happy Mother’s Day

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Three years ago today was a little difficult for me. My husband and I had been trying, unsuccessfully, for five months to get pregnant again after experiencing a loss in November 2009. I’ll always remember the feeling I had on June 22nd, 2010 when, after several positive pregnancy tests, we found out that we were going to be parents. It was a feeling of pure joy. I felt it again, a little more intensely, on October 4th, 2010 when we found out that the baby growing inside me was a little girl. Both of those moments were trumped with C’s birth in February 2011. I felt  (and still feel every day) so incredibly blessed. Motherhood is my greatest joy, my biggest passion, and my most precious gift.

I was surprised yesterday afternoon with an early Mother’s Day gift. After playing outside for a little while, my husband had me go inside before he and C did. When they walked through the door, flowers in hand, my daughter came up the stairs and said, “Happy Mother’s (Day) Mommy!”.

I’m not big on commercialized holidays but I do think it’s nice to honor the special people in your life on their respective days (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc) and hearing my daughter wish me a Happy Mother’s Day (along with a hug and very thoughtful flower presentation) was the best gift I could have gotten. It brought me to tears. Today was wonderful. We slept in (until 9:30!) and then got up and had a nice breakfast together as a family. We ran errands, got the supplies for C’s new big girl room (more on that later), ran some errands, and then enjoyed a nice Lunner (lunch/dinner) at McAlisters. Tonight we’ll watch the season finale of Survivor on CBS before C goes to bed for the night. I literally could not have asked for a better day. Thanks to my husband and my amazing daughter (who can’t read this yet) for making this day such a special one for me. I love you guys to the moon and back.

To all of the wonderful moms out there, including my own mom (hi!): Happy Mother’s Day.

I hope that this day has been a great one for you. 🙂

 

It’s Just Pictures Series: The Toddler

I thought I would post some pictures I took yesterday evening of C. A little back story…I was making dinner and she climbed up onto the kitchen table and started drinking out of my water-glass. Instead of getting upset and making her get down right away, I embraced the moment. It isn’t often that she actually sits still long enough for me to snap some good pictures so I’ll take what I can get, know what I mean?!C will be two in less than a month, hard to believe time has gone by so quickly! Don’t you just wish it would slow down sometimes?!

On an unrelated note (before I forget)…I got special mail today from Nature Box, an awesome California-based company. I was contacted by them to do a review on their products and am so excited to share my thoughts with all of you (and to offer you a special surprise) so be on the lookout for that post the first week of February!

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Baby #2

Ever since our daughter was born in 2011, my husband and I have gone back and forth on the subject of whether or not we plan to ever have more children. C is an incredible child. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s loving, and she is so much more. She’s everything you could ever hope for in a daughter and I feel so lucky to be the one she calls “mommy”. When I think of all of the amazing aspects of parenthood so far, having another child seems like a great idea. Then I start to think about what life would be like if we only had one child. We could afford to give her more opportunities than we might otherwise be able to with a bigger family. We’d have more opportunity to travel, a better financial situation to provide assistance with college tuition some day (getting a PhD is expensive ;)), and the ability to provide more (in general) for her as she grows. It’s a tough decision. Just when I thought I was leaning towards being a mommy to only one, life threw a little curve ball my way.

When I was laid off in August from my job with a small marketing firm, I transitioned into a new full-time role as Co-Founder and CPO (Chief People Officer) for my family. I love being a stay at home mom but I always just assumed I’d do something part-time when C starts school in a few years. One of my best friends and I are planning to start a small business together that will allow both of us to be available for our children as they grow and I know that’s something that I can do no matter how many children we have so that does help to alleviate some of my concerns about having my own “identity” once the kids start school. Having more children, though, means that I won’t have that free time (when C and my friend’s child will be in school) for several more years. I know that sounds incredibly selfish of me, thinking about how having more children would inconvenience me, but it is something that I think about. Please don’t misunderstand me, I love being a mom more than anything else on this planet but I know that C will grow and someday have a life of her own so maintaining that sense of identity is important to me (as I feel it should be important to any mother).

In all the going back and forth and all the discussions we’d had, I was okay with the idea of C being an only child. And then it happened, last week, my husband and I were reflecting on parenthood and looking at C and he said, “I want to have another baby”. He’s said it a few times since and he’s even said things to C like, “Do you want to have a little brother?” (that’s another conversation entirely…I get concerned that if we do have another baby and it ends up being a girl there will be a level of disappointment for C if we’ve been asking her the whole time if she wants a brother instead of asking if she wants a little brother OR sister). The thought of having another baby scares me and excites me at the same time. I’ve heard that things just work out when you have subsequent children and that the love you have for one child doesn’t lessen (rather, that your heart grows and you love them both equally). While I’m sure all of that is true, part of me worries about having to divide my love, my attention, between C and another child. Is this a natural fear?

In all of the conversations my husband and I have had about the prospect of having more children, this is the first time that either of us has come out solidly one way or another. If and when we do have another child, it won’t be for another two or three more years. I would like to be out of debt and into a bigger home before we grow our family. Until then, I think it’s good to continue having conversations.

For those of you who have more than one child: How and when did you decide to have more? Were you and your spouse on the same page when it came to how many children you wanted?

For those of you who have only one: How did you decide to only have one? Do you think your opinion will ever change?

Life & Death…Memories & Legacies

Have you ever had one of those restless nights where your brain just won’t stop over thinking?

That’s where I was last night. I don’t know what time I finally got to sleep, probably around 3:00. I started thinking about life, death, and the legacy you leave behind. I went to a funeral this past week for my grandmother’s best friend, Morris Leo Taylor, who died on September 22nd this year. A World War II veteran, Morris served in the Navy and lived a long and incredible life. The Catholic service was beautiful, followed by a short ceremony at the graveside where two soldiers presented his daughter, Andrea, with an American flag. Morris was 91 when he died. Even though most of us hope that we’ll live as long as Morris did, the sad reality is that death is a natural part of life. Not everyone gets to live into their nineties. I asked a question on my personal Facebook page some time ago about whether or not, if given the opportunity, you would want to know the year and cause of your death (knowing it couldn’t be prevented, no matter what you did). Many people said that they wouldn’t want to know. I get that.

I go back and forth. On one hand, it would be nice to know how much time I have left so that I could better prepare but on the other hand I wonder how it would change things. Would I invest more in relationships? How would it change what kind of parent I am to C? The fact is that it shouldn’t change things. We should always live each day like it could be our last. We should love each day like it could be our last. We should embrace life, enjoy it. And so last night I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how Andrea must feel now, having lost both her parents and her only (blood related) sibling. I couldn’t stop thinking about how that will be me one day, at my dad’s funeral and how much I dread that day because I don’t want to lose him. I couldn’t stop thinking about C and how she will eventually lose both of us (the husband and me). I couldn’t stop thinking about death. I couldn’t stop thinking about life.

I was thinking last night about what would happen if, god forbid, something happened and I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to my loved ones. C is so young she wouldn’t even remember me. I haven’t been very good about documenting our family life and it’s something I need to get better at. I’ve always been pretty good about taking videos and pictures of C for friends and family who live across the country but I have got to get better at making sure we have family videos and family pictures. I made a vow to myself last night to start taking one video each week of how our family is. It doesn’t have to be a long video and it doesn’t even have to be about anything in particular…I just want to make sure I start documenting our life so that we never lose those moments. I want to start writing C letters that I’ll give to her when she had kids of her own one day, so that she will always have a little part of me with her and so that she can share them with her children, and their children.

It’s been said that we live on through the memories of others…

How do you plan to share those memories?

How do you plan to make those memories?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
-Henry David Thoreau