Thursday, April 30, 2015

Flashback: Rome Update 13

Flashback: Rome Update 13

November 22, 2014

Hey Everyone -

I really cannot write long, but just wanted to touch base for this week. I am just loving every minute that I have here in Rome and I do not even want to think about the fact that I will be home one month from now. I never want this to end.

I went to Florence this past weekend with my art history class (it was a required trip) and it was AMAZING! Florence was a very influential location for Renaissance art and so it was surreal to have the opportunity to walk into a church or museum with my class and with my brilliant professor and walk over to the paintings or sculptors we have
been viewing as slides since the beginning of the year. It was wonderful.

Plus my friend Lydia met me in Florence and attended the classes with me and I stayed with her at the Villa she works at on Friday night. Her room is very small but the surrounding area is beautiful and it was nice to see where she is living. It was wonderful to see her again and then we both went back into Florence on Saturday for more art history classes.

Saturday night I returned to Rome as I had major rehearsals for the musical on Sunday - that is one reason this email is so short, I have a lot going on right now. We open for the school tomorrow night with dress rehearsal tonight, and it's getting to be crunch time. Also, an old friend whom I haven't really seen since Freshman year of college arrived
yesterday and is visiting for a week, so that adds a little stress to the platter.

But all in all things are going very well and I am just LOVING every day I am here. I love the kids I am in the musical with (I will be sad when it ends) and I am having a ball.

I love you all! :)

- B

image signature

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Treasuring the Present: Little Toddler

We have this adorable little toddler who is such a handful, but she is the best, most hilarious, beautiful little handful on the planet.

She has this adorable laugh, and she's learned that I usually say "no" to certain things (crackers, playing with the ipad, my telephone), and so when I say "yes", her eyes get so big, and she flaps her little hands and squeals with delight.

She climbs on everything, and has started to run.  Her little feet prancing through our house is the sweetest little sound.

She has little temper tantrums, but she usually is easily distracted or knocks it off when she realizes we're ignoring it.

She has started to put items in various compartments... anything that fits in her hands, now can be found in anything larger than that -- her shoes have been found in the trash, our potatoes have been found in a cereal box, her toys are in any drawer she can reach to open... so the fun game of hide and seek is just beginning.

Whenever I tell her "no", she signs "Daddy."

She LOVES books!  She flips through books all the time and we are so proud.  She flips through her books, and she sees a picture of an animal she recognizes and she makes the sign for that animal.

Whenever I try to do crunches, she climbs on my chest and giggles -- except when I ask Hubby to take of picture of her doing it... then she doesn't climb on my chest... she ignores me and the fact I'm doing crunches.

We love this little girl, and all the ups and downs of the toddler years.

image signature

Monday, April 27, 2015

Back of the Bottom Drawer

When I was growing up, our television didn't get MTV.  It wasn't that my parents didn't pay for the channel -- our television was so old, it literally didn't get the channel.  MTV was channel 38 or something, and our television only went up to channel 26... or was it 21?

For that reason, the very few music videos I saw in my youth are ones I remember.

I still don't know how I came to watch the video, "Back of the Bottom Drawer," but that song stayed with me ever since.  I only heard the song once, but I remembered the title, the content, and lyrics so well that, I was able to find it on KaZaa (one of the primitive, possibly illegal, downloading sites) eight-ish years later during my freshman year of college.

From the first time I heard this song, I not only loved it, but I knew that it told a story that I wanted for my life.  I was never raised being told that I would meet one man, fall in love, and get married.  I was raised more with the, "you've got to kiss a lot of frogs" and "don't get too serious with this one, there will be other boys" philosophy.

I must have strongly understood that philosophy at age 10, or thereabouts, because when I heard this song, I knew, not only was this song telling a story I wanted for myself, but it was telling a story of the life I was destined to have.

Granted, I wanted my own story -- not hers -- and I certainly didn't want to copy her mistakes... but I made a decision at age 10, or thereabouts, that I was not going to throw away old mementos from relationships despite heart-breaks and break-ups... because someday, I would be happily married, and I wanted to have something at the back of the bottom drawer with tangible memories from the beautiful, adventurous life that led me to my wonderful husband.

The song made sense to me, from that very young age...

"I don't keep these things 'cause I'm longing to go back
I keep them because I want to stay right where I'm at
I'm reminded of my rights and wrongs
I don't want to mess this up
But I wouldn't know where I belong
Without this box of stuff"

Well, I don't need a 'box of stuff' to know where I belong... but it is a sweet reminder of all the experiences, people, and adventures that led me to the blessed and wonderful life I have today.

image signature

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day of Shopping

Yesterday, Hubby, Tracey Ann and I had a day of shopping taking advantage of some sales and to get ready for summer.  Our little girl apparently is quite a shopper.  She pushed a rolling basket through the store and grabbed items from the lowest shelves and put them in her basket.  Then, just like any wise shopper, she thought about her items... and put some back.  Then, she thought about the items... and put them in her cart again.

I wish I could say I am proud... but I am not a shopaholic.  I think she is adorable, but I do hope she finds other hobbies in adulthood.

What a cutie!

image signature

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Learning Together


Our precious little girl is such a toddler.  She is trying to understand the world around her and how she fits into it.  She is growing and imitating us and laughing and dancing and talking and signing and wanting to please us and wanting to test her boundaries.  She goes from zero to 100 and 100 back to zero depending on the situation, and she seems to have a little flare for the dramatic depending on how tired she is.

That being said, she is LEARNING.  She is learning every minute of every day.  Sometimes, after she has fallen asleep nursing, her arms and hands are still do signs as I lay her down in her crib.  Her brain is running on overdrive trying to piece together all that she learns on a daily basis.

As a result, Hubby and I are learning every day with her.  I was the director of a preschool, but the youngest children were three years old, which gives me a little history, but not really with children as young as Tracey Ann.  Although I don't have a lot of hands-on experience with toddlers, I pretty much live by the philosophy that children will meet your expectations -- however high or low, they will meet them.

Ever since Tracey Ann was a newborn, Hubby and I have treated Tracey Ann as though her actions and verbalizations are purposeful and intentional.  If she let out a little squeal, we would relate it to whatever was going on, "Oh, did you see that strike out?  Way to go Cardinals!," or after a cry we would say, "Tracey Ann doesn't like that idea either."

Now that she is older, nothing has changed.  We give her every credit that her words, actions, signs, and squeals are completely intentional and related to her surroundings.

My struggle doesn't come in keeping my expectations high, but come when sometimes I feel like I'm repeating myself dozens of times.  It is hard to say the same thing every day and have faith that, one day, Tracey Ann will show me that she has understood me and complied with what I'm saying... BUT... with consistency, we have learned, that one day, she does demonstrate understanding.

Yesterday, Tracey Ann got up from her afternoon nap and said she was hungry.  So, we went to the kitchen, got in the high chair, and she ate one bite of banana before throwing the rest on the ground.  I reminded her that when she throws her food on the ground, snack time is over because we don't waste food.

So, I took us into the family room, put some toys out, put up the baby-gates, and began a workout DVD.  Not long thereafter, Tracey Ann began telling me that she was hungry.  I had the pause the workout several times to explain to Tracey Ann that we were not going to have a snack because when I gave her a snack a few minutes ago, she threw it on the ground.

For about ten minutes, she wandered around the family room, unhappy, telling me she was hungry, while I repeatedly explained why we were not having a snack.

After those ten minutes, she was really getting worked up and adamant about her hunger.  So, I knelt right down to her eye level, and I asked her if she was ready to sit in her high chair, like a big girl, and obey Mama, and eat all her food, and not throw her food on the floor?  She held my gaze while I was explaining that, and then I said, "Can you tell Mama, 'Yes Ma'am?'" and she immediately nodded her head, enthusiastically.

And you know what? Once in the kitchen, she sat in her high chair and ate her food and did not throw any on the floor.  Once or twice, she sort of looked like she was thinking about it... but I got her attention and said, "Don't even think about it," and the piece of food made a bee-line for her mouth.

In this process, I did not yell, I did not get upset, and I did not react to her emotions -- a trifecta which I rarely achieve, and the result was surprising -- in this case, she seemed to learn a lesson and met my expectations for the expected behavior while we're eating.

I don't like being "the bad guy" but I don't think behaving, obedience, and a desire to please her parents is going to magically happen when Tracey Ann turns five- or ten- or fifteen-years-old.  She is learning our expectations for her and what happens when she does and does not meet them every single day.

She is learning every day what rules are serious and what rules are flexible... and we are learning every day what methods work well and do not work for raising and training our daughter.

We are learning together.

image signature

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tracey Ann -- 15 Months

I missed posting what she was up to a 14 months... maybe this will be an every-other month update.

But, at 15 months, Tracy Ann is:

  • Walking exclusively.  She now walks anywhere and everywhere and is on the verge of running.  When she tries to run, she sort of prances a few steps and then falls.  She can walk on all terrain, with shoes or socks or barefoot.  She can now step over things when necessary and rarely looses her balance.  March 6 is officially the day when she really got the hang of walking. 

  • TALKING.  That's right -- her first words were on April 11.  She looked at our cat, Lexie, and said, "Lex... Meow".  Since then she's begun saying, "dog (duc)", "yes (les)", "cracker (cack)", "book (ook)", "daddy" (aa-eee), "no" (na-na-na), "teeth" (tee)
  • Signing -- the last time, I gave an update, I said she was signing "milk", "more", "food", "all done", "up", "help", "sleepy", and she blows kisses, which are also "thank you."  Now, in addition to those signs, she signs "dog", "lion", "cracker", "daddy", "mama", "papa", "grammie", "elephant", "please", "banana", "cheese", "book", "brushing teeth", "orange", "fish".  We have really seen he language explode in the last month.
  • Still breastfeeding anywhere between once and three-times a day -- usually in the evening, middle of the night, and morning

  • Still LOVES brushing her teeth -- in fact, she walks in to the bath room, signs "brushing teeth" and says "teeth" 4-8 times a day.  We now have tooth brushes scattered around the house because she walks and brushes her teeth and then eventually leaves the tooth brush somewhere.
  • She loves to be outside, and really loves to pick up small rocks while outside -- sometimes she carries them around, and sometimes she puts them in her mouth
  • She loves baths and showers... and showers that turn into baths, and she doesn't mind water on her face -- in fact, just yesterday, she tried to pour a cup of water over her own head after Daddy had done it a few times to rinse the soap out of her hair
  • She watches everything we do and tries to copy it -- just last Sunday, we were singing in church and I had one of my hands raised, and she watched me for awhile, and then raised her hand just like mine
  • She loves to laugh and smile
  • She doesn't like being told "no" and has even had a few toddler temper tantrums in the past few months
  • We spent our first night away from Tracey Ann when she was just 14 months old, and she did wonderfully spending the night at our nanny's house

  • *Update* This was posted a few hours ago, and then I woke up this morning and realized I had completely forgotten a new big thing in Tracey Ann's world -- she LOVES music!  In the past month or so, she has started to notice when music plays, and she will clap, dance, and nod her head along.  It is absolutely adorable.  If she is in another room and then hears music playing, she will scamper to the room where the music is in order to smile and clap along.

  • She also LOVES to read.  We have read books with her since she was young, but we never had a set reading time everyday, like we probably should have.  Nevertheless, this little girl LOVES to read.  She will often sit up in her crib either before falling asleep or after she wakes up just flipping through the two books that are in her crib.  Its also one of her favorite things to do during the daytime.  If she's not actually reading a book, she's probably playing with the books in another way.  It is so wonderful to see.

image signature

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Sometimes I don't have the energy to come up with one-of-a-kind blog posts.  On days like those (like today), I'm grateful for some standard questions to get my thoughts going:

Currently I'm...

Loving:  My days home with Tracey Ann -- they are just so precious to me.  Some days we are more productive than others, but I have such a little helper with me for whatever we are doing.  I love how excited she is every day and how she is observing and copying everything she sees.

Reading/Watching:  Reading Husband-Coached Childbirth because I am studying to become a Bradley Method of Childbirth instructor!  I'm also watching -- well several programs -- Dancing with the Stars, and 19 Kids & Counting are two of my favorites at the moment.

Trying to:  Cherish each day of Spring, and each day left to the school year -- trying to not count the days until summer vacation

Wishing:  Tracey Ann were a little more flexible with her daily and nightly routine -- we have some travel plans coming up in May and I'm very nervous about taking her away from our home and the lack of sleep that might result.

Excited for: To see what God is doing in our lives, in our marriage, in our parenting, and with our time and resources, and how He is abundantly providing for us.

image signature

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Flashback: Rome Update 12

Flashback: Rome Update 12

November 15, 2004

Good Morning Everyone -

Wow - I am not sure where to start.  This week didn't have a big trip or anything but there are lots of things I want to remember to tell you all in this update, so here I go...

It got colder this week, cold and rainy.  Last Saturday evening it was still really warm where people were out in t-shirts and then BAM, Sunday morning it was winter coat, scarf and mittens weather.  It's taken a little bit of adjusting, but I guess it's about time - Michigan had it's first snow in mid-October, and I'm here in short sleeves until mid-November, I can't really complain.

I had a number of visitors this week which was really good because they seemed to come at the perfect time to remind me of all the great things around me.  I've been here about two and a half months now, and I was just about on the verge of not looking twice when I passed the Pantheon or Colosseum.  Spending this week with friends who haven't seen Rome before was a great chance to remember the tourist attractions and history all around me.

I have not written much about my roommates and they are wonderful, so I think it's time everyone heard about them.  I live in the larger of the two rooms with Liza (we got there first) :) and we call it the "non-smoking, Bush-supporting, red-headed room" while Monika and Christina live in the "non-red-headed, non-Bush-supporting, smoking (outside the apartment) room".

Liza is a Junior at Marquette University in Wisconsin and travels a lot so she isn't always around, but when she is, we get along very well.  Monika is a Senior at DePaul University in Chicago and she and Liza seem to pair off while Christina and I pair off.  We are all very independent and don't have to always be with another person -- and we enjoy hanging out as a four-some -- but in terms of hanging out or going out, or whenever we do things with other people, it's almost always Monika and Liza together, and then Christina and me together.

Christina is a sophomore at Wright State University in Ohio, but I think she's going to transfer somewhere in Minnesota because her parents are in the process of moving and I believe she is going with them.  Christina and I have NOTHING in common but we get along SO well.  She is my best friend here.  It kind of baffles me that we can carry on even a small-talk conversation let alone become such good friends with how different we are.

She is into heavy metal music, smokes, is liberal-minded, and has an evolved wild side.  She is very intelligent and I guess our commonalities arise from our personalities and not our tastes because we differ in everything from taste in food, entertainment, music, clothing, hairstyle, guys, politics, religion - you name it, and yet we do everything together.  It has probably been very good for me to have such a good friend who is so opposite from me coming from a mainly homogeneous environment of W&L.

Rehearsals for the musical are well underway and it is actually coming together nicely.  Several of the guests we had this week sat in on dress rehearsals and it is going to be really good.  We open a week from Tuesday and then have performances Tuesday and Wednesday night.  It has been a lot of fun with about nine cast members, one director and about four back stage people - it is a nice size group and we are all getting along and getting to know each other.

Saturday night, Christina and I went to a party at one of the theater girl's home (as her parents are diplomats and just moved here to Rome) and it was a lot of fun.  There were about 15 kids there - some theater kids and then other John Cabot kids also and no one knew each other very well so everyone was in the same boat and just relaxed and made new friends.  We all agreed it was very nice to be in an actual home and it kind of felt like we weren't in Rome anymore.  It was a lot of fun.

Kate and Clint (two of my friends who visited this week) bought me beautiful flowers as a thank you for having them, and in the spirit of both a college kid and a kid in Rome, the flowers are all around the apartment in various empty wine bottles which are serving as vases.  :)

I was SOOOOO excited to see that Michigan State knocked off Wisconsin in their game last Saturday!  I could hardly believe it when I read the score on the ESPN website on Sunday.  I am hoping to be able to catch at least some of the Michigan v. Ohio State game this Saturday where Michigan controls it's own destiny and if they win, they win the Big Ten Championship AND they go to the Rose Bowl!  Good Luck to the Wolverines.

I hope all if going well for you.  I love you!

- B

image signature

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Best We Can...

Usually, when I see parenting articles in magazines or on facebook, I'm pretty open-minded.  I might not agree with what they say, but I read or skim them... take away any suggestions I find useful and move on.  Generally speaking, I often especially like the articles talking, in some way, about trying to raise our kids more like they did in the "good ole days" and striving to bring back a simpler time.

Well, last week, when skimming an article about raising our kids like they did in the good ole days, I found myself overly offended and angry by what I read.

The article that made me so angry was from Yahoo News and it was about how few children walk or bike to school, and how we, as a society are stifling children's development by not letting them have freedom and autonomy to go places and do things.  It talked about how parents are being charged with neglect for letting their children walk home from the park unsupervised and that, according to statistics on kidnapping and traffic accidents, children are actually safer out and about today than they were in the 90s.  The article went on to say that we are a very fearful society and we are raising our kids in a fearful way and the children will rebel because they are not given freedom as they grow and develop.  To read the entire article click on the link where I wrote the "article that made me so angry."

So, now that you have have the summary... this article infuriated me, and even writing that synopsis in the paragraph above has filled me with rage.

Let me be really clear when I say this:
As parents in this day and age, WE ARE DOING THE BEST WE CAN.

Speaking for my own demographic... here we are:
  • Adults who have been responsible in our decisions
  • Adults who are married and have waited to be married to have children
  • Adults in their thirties who have worked hard and are settled in their careers
  • Adults who have at least an undergraduate college degree, and many have graduate degrees as well
Now, we are taking all of our responsible life choices leading up to this point, all of our study skills and strong work ethic... and trying to raise a child.  We are examining history, and trying to learn from those who have gone before us.

We are:
  • breastfeeding
  • doing tummy time
  • putting the babies to sleep on their backs with no loose covers
  • we don't smoke
  • we've gotten rid of all the toys that could have killed us when we were a child
  • we wear seat belts and use car seats until the child is 10-12 years old (or something like that)
  • we have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • in our family, for financial and environmental reasons, we're using cloth diapers

You know what?  We are raising children at a different time in history than ever before.  I remember life without a microwave -- my daughter will never remember life without a cell phone or television or ipad or twitter or facebook or blogs.  The evil, the bullying, the predators that used to only exist outside on the streets can now come into my home through electronics.

We have a video monitor for the nursery, and I'm not sure I'd be able to sleep without one.

We live in a very VERY scary world, and I am in no mood to read an article telling me that I need to let my kids walk home from the park -- and be charged with child neglect -- lest my children will feel stifled in their development.  This is a different time.

You remember little Laura Ingalls? I seem to remember she, as a child, was left home with her two sisters, tending dinner, over an open fire, when a burning log rolled out of the make-shift fireplace onto the cabin floor.  Laura, not feeling at all stifled by her ability to develop through independence and responsibility, picked up the burning log with her bare hands and threw it back in the fireplace to avoid the wooden cabin from burning down.

Barely over 100 years ago, children were sent off to work in factories to load spools of thread onto spooling machines because their little fingers were nice and small and could switch out the empty and full spools nimbly and quickly.  Never mind that they they occasionally got their fingers caught, and crushed, or that their hair could get caught in with the tread causing the spooling machine to rip off their scalp.  They were growing in their development without the over-reaching hovering arm of mom and dad.  Oh, and *bonus* they also walked to and from work unsupervised -- usually in bare feet regardless of temperature.

Different circumstances demand different ways of parenting.

The world is a scary place and I sure don't need to read an article berating the fact that I am, and intend to stay, protective of my child.

Yes, there will be a time for additional freedoms, and additional responsibilities -- but they will be appropriate for this day and age.  They will not involve earning a living at the spool and tread factory, and they might not involve walking to school alone.  My husband and I will evaluate that situation when it presents itself.  But, rest assured, at that time, and now, we are evaluating our entire situation, and we are doing the best we can.

image signature

Friday, April 17, 2015


So... I have absolutely no idea who this woman is.  I'm sorry, Comedian, Amy Schumer... even after this appearance on Ellen, I still have no idea who you are or what you did that landed you on Ellen.  What I do know is now I need to find out who you are because you are absolutely hysterical.

I have been laughing so hard ever since I watched this interview... and her jokes are still  bringing me so much joy and so many laughs. 
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

Happy Friday!

image signature

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Easter Family Pictures Outtakes

I feel very strongly that every year, on Easter, we take an Easter family picture.

This year, the best family pictures were these two:

Here were some of our outtakes:

image signature