raising a spirited child….

Ever since Cade was born, we have known that he would likely be a “spirited” little dude.  He was not the easiest baby, and he has always been very active and all boy.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve (he totally gets that from me), and he is often the one that gets in trouble because he is very reactive and hits when he is frustrated.

We were lucky enough to find an amazing daycare provider, Shawna, that did everything she could to help us with him.  She worked through all the concerns we had and all the phases he went through, and she assured me that he was normal and just a boy.  And, I appreciated all the support she offered our family. Truthfully, I don’t think I could have done it without her.

Cade and Shawna

She wasn’t just good for Cade; she was good for me.  I have personally found the process of mothering to be very isolating, particularly if you are the parent of the spirited child — the one the all the other mothers look at and try to figure out why they are acting that way.  I am here to say for the record that we are trying to figure it out too.  And, the most important thing Shawna taught me is the having a spirited child isn’t a bad thing.

Recently, Shawna moved with her family to Georgia.  Her husband is military as well, and we knew this was inevitable.  We had already moved across town and had found a new school for Cade, so the transition wasn’t as hard as it could have been, but I do miss the “village” mentality she offered me.  She always made sure to tell me all the great things he did during the day as well as the challenging things.  There are a million awesome things that Cade does that I don’t see other children his age doing because he is active and into everything (and has parents that are too).

Cade started preschool two weeks ago, and I have to admit that I was terrified.  There is a great family joke about one of my brothers getting kicked out of preschool for beating up on the other kids, but I was so scared that Cade was going to follow in his footsteps. At the open house the day before school started, his teacher told me that they would use the first few weeks to get used to the schedule and play, and it seemed that things were going well. I even sent the Boy a message so excited about what I saw one morning!


And, there was another incident where Cade was not the aggressor and did the right thing when another little boy bite him for using the word “poop.”  I think the teacher thought I was crazy that I was so relieved that Cade was not the biter.  But, that’s how you can tell that you are the parent of a spirited child.

Then, yesterday, I got this message sent home from school.

red mark

I was so bummed.  We talked about it all night and talked about the fact that we will get to do fun things if he good reports all week.  And, this morning I talked to his teacher more closely about how things are going.  Turns out that he is relating more with the older kids and isn’t playing with the kids his own age quite as much.  She asked if he had an older sibling, and I explained that he had been around older kids quite a bit.  She explained that she was surprised that he was into superheroes, swords, and turning things into guns (his classmates are still interested in Thomas and things a little younger).  And, she’s right. He definitely is.

But, my bubble burst a little, both about how things were going and about what was “normal.”  Cade is an older three year old, and he has had the opportunity to play with older kids quite a bit.  Even at Shawna’s where there were two other tiny humans his age, he often opted to play with her older son.  And, the whole interchange with his teacher made me question something I deemed as normal.  He loves Spiderman, the Avengers, and Batman, and he likes to watch the older cartoons related to those characters.

Now, I am questioning whether or not those things are too old for him right now and whether or not we have done something wrong by allowing him to follow his interest.  My gut reaction is no.  We don’t buy toy guns and things like that, but sometimes his action figures come with tiny exaggerated weapons similar to those my brothers played with as kids.  We don’t try to stop every sword fight, but we don’t offer toys that are meant for them either.

Cade-superman pose

The teacher’s comments this morning worried me because I don’t want the people he looks up to think he isn’t normal, particularly his teachers in these formative years. I want them to remember that there are several things he does that are advanced for his age, like the fact that he has awesome manners and raises his hand to be called on and is incredibly sweet, not just his preferred method of playing.  I want to figure out a way to call attention to his good qualities as well as recognize those things that need to be adjusted without feeling like I am just making excuses for his behavior.

So, I guess that’s what I will be working on, both for him and me.  For him, continuing to talk about how he should be behaving in school and at home and which behaviors are appropriate where.  And, for me, I will be working on finding my voice to stand up for my son.  Because even though it is frustrating at times,  I know that I definitely don’t want to break that spirit that makes him who he is.

is this thing on….

So, something happened recently. I started leaving off my blog address when commenting on other people’s posts.  I think it stems from wondering why I was sending people here when I wasn’t posting anything about what I was doing.

I haven’t posted anything since February, and it isn’t that there isn’t anything going on with us. I mean since my last post, we have sold our house after finishing a ton of really cool projects, my little man is now closer to little boy than toddler, and we moved in with my mother. And, those are just the big things. There have been lots of little things I have been wanting to capture too.

Needless to say, we have a few things going on, but that doesn’t mean that I am ready to desert my little corner of the interwebs. Particularly since we are potentially about to embark on a pretty cool adventure building our house. So, I thought that I would start with this post talking about what I want from this space.

  1. A place to share what’s going on with our family for the few people that care to know.
  2. A place for me to share the crafty adventures and other DIY projects I decide to take on.  And, not just the ones that I deem cool enough to share. There is something to be said for capturing the stuff that doesn’t quite work out like I want it to too!
  3. A place for me to capture the smaller moments of our life that I miss out on in the hustle of everyday.

However to do this, that means that I will need to let go of some of my expectations about what posts will look like, how often I will be able to post, and that this space is for anyone else but me. This is a good start!

it’s totally true…

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook this morning, and I shared it there, but I thought I would share it here as well.

The video itself is very well done, and while I was watching it, I found myself nodding along because I used to have conversations like this with my students every semester when I was in a traditional classroom setting.  Now that I am teaching online, I find it’s harder to get these types of messages across, although it is still my goal.But, beyond the reminder of past teaching moments, I found myself nodding along because I think this is something I have seen come to fruition during my short career.

When I was in high school, I desperately wanted to go to design school.  I was fortunate to go to a school that had a pilot computer graphics program, which was a big deal almost 20 years ago (how was that actually almost 20 years ago!).  I learned the fundamentals of Photoshop and Illustrator, and I wish I had taken the opportunity I had to learn Flash back then. I also worked on the layout of the school’s literary magazine, and I loved it. I got to work closely with our teacher, and she taught me a ton about how to manipulate text in Illustrator.  I am actually pretty amazed at the number of students I know from those classes that are working in these fields now.

But, I was the oldest of four children, and a private design school out-of-state was not feasible, particularly when my mother had examples all around us of kids that had gone to the big fancy art colleges and were now working at local craft stores.  So, the local university was the place for me, and I got a great education there for a reasonable price.  While I was there, I studied art history as much as I could, but I majored in English.

From there, I married my lobster and completed my masters in teaching composition. And, I have always told people that while I, of course, enjoy reading and critiquing great literature, my passion in English is really related to the writing and the tools we use to write, namely computers.  For years, I taught entry level courses (basic composition, intro to lit courses, and rudimentary technical writing), but while I was living in Kansas, I had the awesome opportunity to start teaching technical writing to Engineering students.  And, I loved it! I could totally relate to how those students were going to be using writing in their everyday lives, and I loved watching them think.

It is important here to note that the reason I taught was never to make any money because anyone teaching at the college level can tell you that there isn’t much money to be had teaching as an adjunct faculty member. And, without a PhD, there isn’t much to be made as a full time faculty member either.  But, I just kept moving and tried not to let the money part bother me.  I took all the “resuming building” opportunities I could, and I worked my ass off, but I really did love working with my students.  And, the technical writing aspect of my job allowed me to learn more about design from a practical stance.

After I had the little man, my model had to change because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to my students in the way I had before.  It wasn’t going to work to grade almost 720 assignments (or over 2500 pages) a semester, so I was fortunate enough to get my foot in the door, through the help of a close family member, editing lesson plans for a national STEM program for 5th grade students.  That work has turned into curriculum development, document design, and writing: all of my favorite things. And, I no longer feel like my husband supports my teaching habit. I work from home, and even though he is in daycare, I am able to be here if the little man needs me for something.

Watching the video above was a nice reminder that sticking with what you love despite whether there is any money in it can sometimes eventually lead you right to where you wanted to be in the first place.  And, along the way, I learned things that enrich the work I am doing now that I never would have experienced if I hadn’t just surrender to the process.

Thrift Shop Challenge

So, two weeks ago, my “friends” Sherry and John posted their Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge over at Young House Love based on this song.

And, I thought this would be a great time for an adventure. I hadn’t done a little thrifting for a while, and my two best friends both had the day off.  So, we thought it would be fun to hit up a few thrift stores that we hadn’t had a chance to see. The way I looked at the challenge was to head to a thrift store and spend no more than $20 and look for some funky stuff like what he talks about in the song, although we did look for the weirdest stuff we could find. It was a dreary day, threatening rain the whole time, but we had a great time!

So, here are the ladies, Alie and Emily (sorry for the cruddy phone pictures–needed hands free for the digging)!


And, this is the first place we hit up, Community Forklift in Edmonston, Maryland, a local organization much like ReStore where donations are collected for new, used, or vintage building supplies.  We realized this isn’t really a thrift store, but it really depends on your definition.  And, for our DIYing-loving selves, it counted.


We found a ton of cool stuff, and Alie found some old science equipment that she is going to use as decor pieces. I didn’t come home with anything at this stop, but I would have loved one of these guys.  I think they were old rolling room dividers in a previous life. They were all already sold, but I might DIY one sometime.  I think they would be awesome for a chalkboard, particularly if you didn’t want to chalkboard paint a wall in your home.


After a wonderful lunch at a local little place, Busboys and Poets, we headed over to our next stop, Unique Thrift in White Oak, Maryland. I had been to the Unique Thrift in Falls Church before, but hadn’t been to this one. This one is particularly cool because there is a Value Village on the other side of the same space.  Prices for the two were roughly the same; they are just owned by two different people, so you have to check purchases between the two.  A little weird, but it was also very convenient.

And, for $24 (yes, I was over by $4), here is my loot.  Lots of stuff for the little man – two shirts, two trucks, and number foam squares.  Some textiles – two sheets and an awesome pillow case/cover.   And, my favorite find, the the little framed carnival photo. It was a good day, and the challenge helped keep me reined in.


As for the other stuff we found, we start with the obligatory keyboard from the song.


The real ferret or mink or some small gross little animal stole that Alie actually bought to send to her dad for his birthday.  Sounds a little weird, I know, but seriously, her dad will love it.  And, it’s purchase led to our funniest moment of the day when the checkout lady wouldn’t touch it.


But, that wasn’t even the weirdest thing we found. This little number was.


The lovely color and flowered trim was one thing, but the pants or apron (???) the dog is wearing unzipped to say “I love you.”


Which, I have to say, is just weird.  I mean, why would an “I love you” like this need to be hidden? So strange!

Overall, the day was a great one.  I don’t get a chance to see my lovely ladies very often, so a day with both of them is an added bonus.

{this and that}

:: My little man wandered into our room about an hour ago, said something incomprehensible, but it was clear I should follow.  I followed him back into his room, and he immediately crawled into bed.  I covered him up, and he went right back to sleep.  Now, I am wondering if I wake up Joe and get him to do the same for me, who will help Joe get back to sleep?

:: We are making some great progress on getting the house ready for us to move.  More trips to storage.  Most of the crafting stuff is over at Mom’s in much need of organization, but neatly nestled into her shop (certain amount of irony there). The front door has been painted, although the sidelights really need one more coat of white. I painted it a “Seal” from Martha Stewart mixed to Behr Ultra Exterior.  Don’t love how the paint went on, but trying to paint an exterior door in the middle of winter was a little crazy.  Hopefully the paint stays on until the house sells.

:: We also got the basement floor evened out a little.  It isn’t level, but the elevation changes (almost 2 inches in some spots) are much better now, and it shouldn’t be as noticeable under the new carpet.  The carpet installer is coming to measure today, so I am excited about that.  As soon as we can get that ordered and installed, then we can really start staging the basement.  And, it will mean a whole floor will be ready to go on the market.  That is a big deal for me.

:: It is weird trying to move with a little person.  I know that he senses the upheaval going on; we all do.  But, it is  it is quite obvious that he doesn’t know what to do about it, so he is just asking for lots of extra attention, which, of course, is really hard to do when you are still trying to work full time and get a house on the market. We are doing the best we can though, and he is super excited about moving the nana’s house.

:: The boy is off all week, so we are hoping to get lots done here.  On the list are the shelves in the hallway.  I need him to get them installed, so I can work on getting them finished (caulked, wood puttied, and painted). We are also going to work on trim stuff throughout the house and getting the doors on the laundry room closet.  I also hope to get the stupid shutters ordered/bought and painted, so we can put them back up on the next warm day. We took them down because they looked stupid, but we never got to make any of the changes we wanted to make that would help them not look quite as stupid, so up they go.

:: Cade has been doing something really cute lately.  He tells us that everything is “really cool” or “that’s pretty awesome, Mom!” It’s like I have my own little cheering squad when he isn’t screaming at me.  Conversations have been going something like this: “Mom, did you buy this for me? At the store?” When I say yes, that’s what I get the “I really like this, Mom!” I don’t know when I became just mom, and not mommy, but I am mourning it a little. I still get it every once in a while, but I am guessing it happened so quickly because the older kids at daycare call their parents mom and dad.  I am getting lots of “I love you’s” lately, so that’s pretty awesome! Wait, maybe that’s were that came from.

{microgratitude monday}

Today, I decided to just open a blog post and add to it throughout the day of all the things I am grateful for. A micro look at all the wonderful things I have going on in my life.

  1. I am grateful that the few tiny people I have that actually read this blog wouldn’t hold it against me that 30-in-30 didn’t happen for me this year. Maybe I will try again later and come back to December.  Or, maybe I will decide that December will always be too hard.  We will see.
  2. I am grateful that I found a contractor to do the work we need in the basement that not only is doing the work for a price we can afford but also showed up on time this morning. Like, exactly on time.
  3. I am grateful to have a job that is fulfilling, both mentally and financially. This is important for me to remember in the busy times.  No more complaining about work. I have a job when so many people equally qualified don’t.
  4. I am grateful that despite the fact that the ten step process I explained in my last post isn’t going to work all the people involved in the process are still dedicated to making this happen for us.  That is an amazing gift and a strong focus to keep in mind while we navigate the ups and downs of the process.
  5. Today, I am grateful that my husband and I have the integrity to decide to leave this house better than the way we got it.  Along the way, we could have tried to cover up mistakes and problems that we encountered.  Instead, in every way we can, we take the appropriate action to fix the issue.  We will never get back all the money we put in here, but at least I will be able to sell this house with a clear conscience.

{30-in-30} a tentative yes

So, I think we might could, just maybe be building a house. We have a million different steps to take before we can get there, including getting this house ready to sell and on the market (which scares the ever-living snot out of me, by the way).  But, there are lots of aspects of this process that are scaring me, so I am really trying to put aside that fear and just go for it.

The yes we got was from the builder. He is interested and wants to move forward with buying the land.  But, wait, hold on, let me explain. The land we are interested adjoins my mother’s property.

It is the part in red.  It is about four acres, which we would only be buying half of.  Our spot would be roughly the interior shape. It is still a little overpriced, so that is hurdle number one, but it would put us in the right school district, closer to the hubby’s job, in the right county, etc.  And, we would be able to get what we wanted instead of living with someone’s plan for our home.

Every time I tentatively tell someone about it, the first question I get is “isn’t that really close to your mother?” or “I could never live that close to my parents.” And, it is something that the boy and I talked about for a long time. But, we already live just ten miles away or so, and see my mom quite a bit during the week, partially because she and I work together and partially because, well, she is my mom, and I love her.  Her living situation changed over the summer, for the better, and that means that she could use a little more help around her large property. So, being closer would be a way we would feel better about being able to help her.

So, here are all the steps that have to align in order for this all to work out (does it help them be less scary to get them down on paper?):

  1. Builder puts offer in on land with a 60 day study period.
  2. Offer is accepted by owners, and studying commences.
  3. Studies (soil, engineering, etc) all come back okay, and land closes.
  4. We get our house ready and put it on the market.
  5. We (quickly) get an acceptable offer that leaves us enough cash to do what we need to do.
  6. We move everything out of our house (haven’t had to do that without the Army in a really long time), and move into Mom’s house.  More than half of our stuff would go into storage, and the other half would go in with her.
  7. After our house closes, we would buy our portion of the land back from the builder.
  8. We would secure a construction loan.
  9. Finalize the details for the new house, get all necessary permits from the county, and start building, meanwhile saving every possible nickel and dime we can.
  10. We would get to watch our house be built step-by-step from next door, and, hopefully, by next Christmas, we would be in our new home!

Just ten “easy” steps! What could possible go wrong?  Famous last words.

I am just trying to keep my eye on number ten down there. That’s the energy I want to put out into the universe!

{30-in-30} gift giving

Today’s prompt from Shimelle’s class was all about our favorite gift. Today, in the document she sends everyday during this course, she outlined the way gifting changes as you grow older. The wild excitement of gift giving when you are a little kid, and how that can morph into more careful planning both in the giving and receiving that happens as you get older.

She asked us to share our “shiniest” gift receiving moment. For me, I have quite a few gift receiving moments that stand out for me.  Most of them include my dad and the little gifts that he would pick out for me on his own. Not that my mom’s gifts weren’t always just as amazing, but for a little girl, a gift from your dad that you know he picked out for you means something special. And, those memories have probably taken on the shiny qualities even more since he’s been gone.

But, the moment that came to mind immediately when I read through her prompt was not a gift I received for Christmas. It was something my mom brought home for me one day. A gift unattached to a holiday, birthday, or requirement.

I grew up in the age of Cabbage Patch Kids. The real ones with the yarn hair, adoption paperwork, and cute little autographed asses. The ones that parents waited hours in line for. They always smelled a certain way, and I loved them. Looking back, I don’t know if I loved them more because they were hard to get, but either way that particular toy was a significant part of my childhood. And, I was a lucky kid that had several Cabbage Patch Kids. I had a preemie doll and a set of twins. And, another one that I am not sure I remember (I still have them all in a tote in my garage).

But, one day, my mom came home from being out and about with Roger. Roger was a brown-haired Cabbage Patch Kid, and I don’t know why, but he was always my favorite. Like I said, there was no particular reason for her to get me the doll. She had been in a store, Sears I think, that had just received a shipment, and there wasn’t a line a mile long. I remember her describing it to me when I was older that there was a wall of them to choose from. But, at the time, I didn’t realize that.

At the time, I just knew I wasn’t asking for a new doll, and she didn’t feel like she had to get me a present for anything in particular. She just got him for me because she knew that I would love him, and I did. It was simple. The way gift giving should be and so rarely actually is. What an awesome thing to remember this time of year.

{30-in-30} plan for the month

Didn’t do such a hot job sticking with my 30-in-30 already, but I am not going to give myself too hard a time about and just do the best I can.

Today’s prompt was about deciding on a plan for the rest of the month up until Christmas. And, it couldn’t be more perfect for what I was thinking about most of the day.

Before the little man was born, December was usually clouded by a sprint to the end of the semester full of student conferences, grading, and lots of late nights. But, since then, I spend the first half of December thinking about getting ready for the little dude’s birthday and then Christmas sneaks up on me.

This year, I have a ton of ideas about things I would like to do to decorate the house for Christmas, but then we decided to pursue moving and building a house and my brain is full of house ideas and worrying about trying to get this deal to go through in a way that keeps us protected. The prospect of building a house is both amazingly awesome and scary at the same time. But, as my best good friend reminded me recently, taking risks means you are living.

So, tonight, instead of getting completely bogged down with all the stuff I have to do and being frustrated by what I want to be doing, which of course means they both cancel each other out and lead to not being able to get anything done, I decided to get started on one of the projects I have been wanting to do for the little man ever since I saw this.

I ordered the felt for the project a while ago, but I was held up a little trying to decide how I was going to attach the tree to the wall. I was at Ikea the other day and saw a frame that I think will work well, so I have a plan! And, tonight I got the tree ready to go.  Just need to sew it onto some burlap, and I will be one step closer to a finished project! I am pretty excited about how cute it will be.


Hopefully, I will continue to be able to squeeze in both the stuff I want to do and the stuff I have to do.

{30-in-30} a start to daily december

So, last year, I decided to do 30-in-30 blog posts in November. So, when November arrived this year, I thought about it again. And, I decided that I would do it again this year, just thirty days later. I thought how fun it would be that in twelve years (if I can keep this up), I will have a month of each of our years. A little scary to think that my baby will be 14 by then. Crazy!

And, to help me out a little this year, I thought I would use the prompts from the Journal Your Christmas class I was a part of several years ago. Today’s prompt is about my Christmas Manifesto. And, I take that to be what I want Christmas and the journey towards it to look like this year. I have actually been thinking a lot about this already this year.

This is the first year that my little man might remember glimpses of Christmas. The first year that he might really get into the events and activities we could plan for him. But, this year, we might really have to work pretty hard to make sure we leave room in our days for the things that will make it most memorable for him.

Things will be particularly busy because we are planning to sell our house in a few months. And, we are going to try to build a home that’s closer to what we have always wanted. So, this year, while we are trying to get this house ready to sell and get the details of our new home all worked out, we will have to be more mindful than ever to make room for the Christmas spirit!

So, maybe that’s my manifesto for this year.

{santa graphic from Graphicsfairy}

I hope to share some of the ways we plan to do this throughout the month!