Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy turkey day

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I pray that you are able to find peace and contentment in your life, and rejoice in the blessings big and small that grace your days.

Now go eat some turkey!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Even though there won't be much hint of green around these parts for the next few months, I'm still trying to keep up with my newfound crunchy, tree-hugging, green habits. I've tried a bunch of new things this past year - liked some, not-so-fond of others... so as 2008 wraps itself up (eek!) in a blanket of gray and white... here's the update on my greens.

1. Growing veggies on my front porch - all the plants actually grew, and most actually grew fruit (or vegetables, whatever). The only things that actually got big enough/produced enough for us to eat were the green beans. I may try this again for next summer, or I may try to plant an actual little garden in the backyard. Depends on how ambitious I am come springtime... but it was fun to watch everything grow and know that I could grow some of our own food if I worked at it enough.

2. Reusable grocery bags - LOVE THEM. However, I do NOT love the cheapy silly bags that they sell for 99 cents at the grocery stores - mine are already wearing out. I need to find some quality shopping bags to take with me - but I love not bringing home oodles of plastic bags every time I go to the store. I just keep 'em in my car and grab them on the way into the store. Easy cheesy. All the old plastic bags I've got in the house get used as liners for the little trash cans in the bathrooms, so at least they get one more use before they get pitched.

3. Homemade house cleaners - The only one I really still use is the glass cleaner and I love it. It's just cornstarch, vinegar & water - and it cleans great and doesn't streak. What else could I want? (I had a tough time with the others - everything with baking soda in it required one go-over to clean it, and one more with just water to wipe up the baking soda that would remain on my counters... a little too much work for this mama). I am now using Dr. Bronner's and Mrs. Meyer's soaps for all other cleaning in the house (except toilets, which see a slightly stronger cleaner every now and then, just because I don't mind putting chemicals in there so much, and... well, ick!) I love the friendly smells, the lack of chemicals... and everything still winds up clean. (Plus, the bottles will last for-EV-er!)

4. Cloth diapers - Obviously, since I can't stop talking about the giveaway and all - I'm still using them, still loving them. This summer, I did a lot of air-drying on our back deck, and I loved not using the dryer so much. I've been drying them since it got cold/cloudy/wet here in Michigan, until I figured out a good place to set up my drying rack. Now I'm back to (or at least testing out) air drying Haze's diapers - and knowing that our energy use will come back down a bit (especially since the furnace runs all the time these days!)

5. CFL bulbs - I've switched most of the main lights in the house, and I love it. It takes a little bit to get used to the slightly different quality of light, but our energy bill dropped a few bucks within a month or so of using these. Good deal.

6. Recycling - I still SO wish that the recycling center was closer - because it is a PAIN to truck our stuff out there... but I have a good system going in the garage for sorting our recyclables and I love how much less trash we are putting on the curb every week. Makes me want to hang my head a little bit about all those years where I wasn't recycling. Shhh....

7. Replacing paper with cloth - I do almost all of my cleaning with old rags and dishtowels now - and again, enjoying NOT going through the paper towels like crazy (I do still have some paper towels in the kitchen, but that's the only spot in the house). I also just got myself some cloth napkins, and as soon as we use up the last of the paper ones in the house, we're switching over.

All in all - it takes surprisingly little effort (just a bit of focus) to make these changes... and I'm thrilled at what a difference they seem to make. I know it's just a little bit... but knowing that we're at least trying to keep our little corner of the world a bit cleaner makes me feel all warm & fuzzy inside. Anyone else got any good tips for reusing and repurposing some stuff around the house?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

new button

Check out the new button on my sidebar - seriously, the giveaway is awesome! Go sign yourself up!

glamorous, it ain't.

When people think of glitzy, glamorous Things To Be When I Grow Up, "Mama" isn't usually topping the list. For some unfathomable reason, movie stars and rock stars and professional athletes and the like tend to outrank Mamahood on the bling scale.

(Unless of course, you are both a mama and a rock star/movie star/athlete, in which case the general public thinks you're the Most! Popular! and Interesting! Person! EVER!)

There are no cameras trying to sneak shots of you folding laundry, no appearances on talk shows to hype your upcoming trip to the grocery store, no endorsement deals for which brand of tissue you think best wipes snot from itty bitty noses.

BUT... there are little hands always reaching out for you. Heads lean on your shoulder and settle into the crook of your arms. Little tummies and toes beg for you to kiss and tickle, and chubby arms entangle themselves in your legs as you walk. Toothless smiles crack wide open at the sight of you and bright little eyes follow intently wherever you go.

I'll tell you - on the surface, "Mama" is even less glamorous than the non-glamorous images it conjures up... there's poop and snot and long nights and bad smells and spit-up and all other manner of really non-sparkly facets to the job. However... I believe that the glitz and glam are there, wrapped up in baby-smooth skin and tiny non-skid socks and teething rings and burp rags. The general public may not bat an eyelash at what I do all day long... but to one little girl, I am the Most! Popular! and Interesting! Person! EVER!

And that, friends, is more than enough for this here mama.

Monday, November 24, 2008

more free stuff

I swear I'll post an actual post again soon - but life here is busy with holidays, snow, and a sad, fussy baby with an icky head cold that makes her something of a leaky faucet...

SOoooo... Any cloth diapering mamas or mamas-to-be out there - go check out this giveaway because it's stinking awesome!!

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

check out my new digs

Like the new look??
I think I'm in love. :)
Thanks, Ashleigh!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

free stuff!

SimpleMom is one of my favorite blogs - and right now, she's hosting a giveaway for several different kinds of reusable grocery bags!

I love using my reusable bags, but I just bought the cheapy ones from the store I shop at most frequently - and *shock!* they actually don't hold up all that well. A couple of them are already tearing at the seams... but since they were only 99 cents each, I'm not too miffed. However, I wouldn't mind toting around a more durable (and slightly more attractive) set of bags that didn't loudly proclaim one particular store's name.

Anyway - make sure you amble on over and check out the giveaway - and the blog itself! Lots of great stuff!!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Hazel's nine-month check-up was today. As always - Dr. says she looks great and is growing and developing "perfectly." (not sure what exactly that means, but I'll take it)

Overall, we really like our pediatrician. She's professional, knowledgable and friendly. However, I can't help but wonder, once in awhile, if having your own baby shouldn't be a prerequisite to being a pediatrician. (all obvious disciminatory flaws in that requirement aside) Or at least, should be a prerequisite to handing out certain kinds of input/judgment.

It's just hard to sit and take advice (and the occasional mildly sarcastic comment) from a doctor who has never nursed a baby. Never wrestled with sleep issues or incessant crying or teething... or any long list of other things.

I know she means well and I know she's an "expert." But every once in awhile, I find it hard to swallow the well-meaning advice of someone who's never actually been in my shoes, and only sees me & my daughter for a few minutes once every few months.

But then again - I HAVE had a baby, and I don't know that I'd be any more helpful to a new mama who is wrestling with all the toughness that comes with the job. We never can totally be in someone else's shoes. I guess no one's perfect.

Except Hazel, apparently.

Friday, November 14, 2008

it may not be music

As I sat at the kitchen table this morning, enjoying the mini-facial provided courtesy of my steamy mug of herbal tea, I listened to the quiet of the house. And as I paid attention to the tiny little sounds that a house makes when it thinks no one is listening, I got to thinking about some of my favorite sounds. So to kick off the weekend, I decided to leave you with a little list of some of my favorite sweet, sweet sounds.

Deep rumbly thunder and steady raindrops on the roof (best heard when snuggled up in a toasty blanket)

Fire crackling (when it's properly contained in a fireplace or firepit, of course)

The whistle of my teakettle - not only does it signal a delicious hot drink is on the way, but it actually has a sort of harmonic, two-tone whistle. Quite lovely.

The funky music that plays when my little sister calls my cell phone - she picked the ringtone, and I have no idea what it is. But it makes me smile.

Popcorn popping - it just sounds like good times are ahead.

The funny sing-song babbling of a baby waking up from a good sleep.

My hubby's voice on the other end of the phone line.

Hundreds of voices raised in worship to our Father King.

Someone (usually it would be Mark or my sister, but I'm not picky) saying, "Hey, you look like you could use a backrub." (And then, of course, actually giving me one. Not just simply being observant...)

"Have a good weekend." Because that means it's the weekend.

Have a good weekend, everyone! :)

gratuitous pictures of my beautiful baby

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

fresh and clean

I feel the need for a little "freshening up."

And not just because I haven't showered yet today.

I'm feeling the need because I'm starting to get that fuzzy feeling... you know how your mouth starts to feel fuzzy when you need to brush your teeth, or your eyes begin to feel fuzzy when you're exhausted because your baby has decided sleep is for weaklings... or you know, just tired for other, normal reasons. That fuzzy feeling is a symptom, an indication that something (or things) needs to be swept up, cleared out, or refocused.

And although both of those things (need to brush teeth AND the amazing non-sleeping baby) are also true of me right now (yup, I've just painted you a most delightful and irresistible picture of myself - don't you all want to come hang out with me RIGHT NOW??)... I'm talking more about the need for a mental freshening up. My brains have been feelin' a wee bit fuzzy, folks.

Now... the fuzzy teeth are easily fixed by a good swipe with a toothbrush and swish with mouthwash. Fuzzy eyes due to lack of sleep... not quite as easy, but in the absence of suddenly and magically being able to coerce (I mean coax) my baby into sleeping all night long - a little Visine may go a long way toward making me feel better.

But what to do about cranial fuzziness?

Here's my plan:
1. (Continue to) Spend some time talking with friends. Just chat about life, hear about their lives, talk about shopping or politics or books or kids - whatever floats the boat, I say. It's like calisthenics for the social part of my brain. The part of my brain that's losing muscle mass by the day due to the fact that I spend 99.9% of my time talking to a 9-month-old.

2. (Continue to) Spend time with God. Every day. This is relatively easy, once I get the habit down, because the payoffs are generally immediate and undeniable. My day is different when it has a heavenward focus. 'Nuff said.

3. Ease up on myself. (The hardest one of all, for me) However, once a week, I've taken to writing down ever' blessed thing I do. All day. And the list, it may not be New York Times Bestseller - level reading... but it's long. So what if "change diaper" is listed 7 times, or if I "cleaned up the living room" for the 4th time before 3:00pm? The point is - at the end of my day, I can see that I did a lot for my home and my family. And while much of the world may not see a whole heap of value in what I did... I do. On paper, written in my own handwriting, the value of those things helps rinse away a bit more fuzziness.

Now then... I'm still sitting here barefoot in my fuzzy gray robe, needing a shower, a teeth-brushing and some Visine... and there's a baby on the floor, chattering to herself while she fills up her diaper. The fount of my eternal wisdom must cease its flow for a bit... depressing, I know.

Until I return to spout more pearls of deep-deep thought-provoking thought all over the internet... anyone else got some great tips for gettin' rid of that fuzz?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm it!

I got tagged yesterday to complete the Seven Random Things meme... so here goes.

1. I sort the silverware in our dishwasher. And everything points "up" except for scary sharp knives, which point "down" for what I think are obvious reasons. To me, this process makes incredibly logical sense - it saves me time when emptying the dishwasher... but most people just think I'm a little nutty. PoTAYto, PoTAHto.

2. I love school supplies. Notebooks (especially pretty ones), pens, binders, paper, highlighters...

3. By the time I was 25 years old, I'd been to Ireland, England, France (twice), Belgium, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Germany... and Canada. Still never been to Mexico. Or anywhere else that's not fairly "western cultury."

4. I can't have nail polish on my fingernails - I pick at it and within days (sometimes hours) it looks horrendous. Even clear nail polish.

5. My full name is spelled Katharine (like Katharine Hepburn, although I wasn't "named after" her). It's been spelled wrong consistently my whole life... but I still like that it's spelled that way.

6. The first two years Mark and I were married, we lived in a teeny apartment in a residence hall at MSU - I was a grad student with an assistantship supervising the RAs in that hall. It was crazy, but fun.

7. The second toe on my left foot is longer than the big toe... and on my right foot, the second toe is the appropriate, slightly smaller size. Dunno what's up with that.

So there ya go. Seven Random and Wildly Interesting Things. I hope it has lent you all some fabulous and extensive insight into my personality. *smile*

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

staying salty

It's thought that the origin of the phrase "take it with a grain of salt" relates to the fact that nasty food might taste just a wee bit better if you put a little salt on it. (It makes perfect, logical sense, but I still googled it a few minutes ago. Just to be sure.)

And since salt was rather expensive "back in the day" - you had to make do with a grain... otherwise the saying would be "take it with a whole heaping pile of salty goodness."

I think 2 things about this are interesting... salt was flavorful and salt was valuable.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." Matthew 5:13

I am the salt of the earth. People are the salt of the earth.
We are the flavor and value of the earth.

As a mama - I've discovered whole new levels of what it means for me to stay salty.

Sometimes it means listening to the diatribes of other (well-meaning, but often condescending) moms about how they did things, what's "good" for kids and what isn't, and why they think your baby behaves in specific ways... and not being rankled by them, but rather, smiling graciously, adding a dash of salt to their words, and giving them a taste. Even when you don't want to.

Sometimes it means flavoring your own words, lest you become one of the afore-mentioned patronizing mamas... and just plain old offering words of encouragement to your friends. One of my friends has a baby girl just a bit younger than Hazel, and I ran into her at church on Saturday night - we hadn't seen each other in awhile. Aside from being fabulous to see her and laugh with her, she left me with a few precious words of encouragement that I have thought about every day since then. Multiple times a day. And even now, it almost brings tears to my eyes to think about how much those little words mean to me. It strikes me that it's really not so hard to give away a little salt - and chances are good that it will probably flavor the recipient's thoughts for a long time.

And sometimes it just simply means that I need to remember that God sees me as flavorful and valuable - no matter how bland and used-up I might feel at the end of the day. I am working a part of His plan out every single day... and that is a good thing. I need to cling to my saltiness.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

what a difference a year makes

October 31, 2007
*Baby's "First" Halloween (if it counts in utero and Mama dressed you up from the outside)
*270-some trick-or-treaters came to our house in the chilly, freezy rain
*Mama turned 27

October 31, 2008
*Baby's Actual First Halloween - nope, no trick or treating... just sittin' on the front steps, handing out candy with Mama, Daddy & Meredith (aka Mama Bear, Papa Bear & Goldilocks)
*204 trick-or-treaters came to our house in the beautiful, warm sunshine (darn those home football games)
*Mama turned 28 (Which - I am told - will be a "defining" year for me in terms of becoming a full-fledged adult grown-up type person. Except I still feel like a kid...)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

an expert diagnostician

I think I have a case of Kathisecoautomysophobia.
I combined three actual phobias into one and made up my own word. Not that I ever do that.
For those of you who are not expert diagnosticians when it comes to hitherto unnamed and nonsensical phobias... allow me to enlighten you.
It's the fear of sitting down and allowing your home to become dirty.
Which is my fancy way of saying - I have a problem.
I like order. I like things being in their "places" and general tidiness to my space. Messy spaces are very distracting and unsettling to me. Can't relax. I'm not overly hung up on cleaning all the time - but as big piles of dirty dishes and mountains of laundry aren't any fun to look at, or to imagine tackling... I try to keep them from appearing in my house.
It used to be that a lot of my Kathisecoautomysophobic tendencies were focused on my office (at work). It was a tidy little space where I felt very comfortable. My home was then allowed to be comfortably cluttery - never really messy, but I didn't feel so compelled to put it in order.
Fast forward to me becoming a stay-at-home-mama... suddenly my house IS my "office" - except now there are other people in it all the time and I'm not the only one who uses/moves things and I'm here during the week and on the weekends and in the evenings...
This is a very long-winded way of saying that I have a hard time allowing myself to relax. I used to be OK with coming home from work and giving myself that time to unwind. Now that home is where I work - I find it much more difficult to unwind here... it kinda feels like staying late at the office to try to relax - why would anyone do that??
Now, I'm a homebody - I love being at home... going "out" doesn't relax me much at all - so I don't know that leaving the house to find some relaxation is a good solution for me. I just need to find a way to allow myself to sit on my behind once in awhile and read a book (without turning into a lazy bum, because that's my other tendency... I either work too hard, or I don't do anything all day long).
As my sage husband said to me this morning, "Sometimes it takes more discipline to be undisciplined." He knows me well.
I wonder if there's a pill I can take...