August 31, 2011

Small Style: Today What Shall We Do, Ivy LaRue?

 going for a walk

She said let's walk to the library 

because she wanted to ride in the vela-tator


story time

and get her own PINK library card, (sorry they are all blue.)

at the library

Then we went to lunch.

salad in the park

"Cobb salad two forks, please."

And we passed by the spray park, of course you can go in.

small style day 5

Half-way home she said "I'm going to sleep. Don't wake me, Mom"

"Okay, babe."

on ivy for this week's small style...

tee: mini boden
skirt: rosemary's cuppa
socks: target
shoes: livie & luca

[linking up as always with our love small style at mama loves papa.]   

be mindful of these giveaways ending soon:
$75 to spend at tea collection
$225 prize from gogo squeez

I love the way you wear your baby: all wrapped up

babywearing moby wrap (karen)
My new friend Karen

So, I followed the bus to school last week on the boys' first day. I do that whenever they start kindergarten so that I can still see them off to their room. And choke back hugemongous tears.

Thankfully I was distracted this time by a lovely mama wearing her sleeping baby in a Moby wrap. I practically accosted her as the kids poured out of the bus and she searched for her first grader. She was gracious and a good sport. And now I have a new babywearing friend at my kids' school!

See past I love the way your wear your baby photos .

As always, I love to see your babywearing photos. If you've posted any recently, feel free to link in the comments below!

Oh and it would be a shame to miss this Sakura Bloom sling giveaway at tout-est-des-roses today. Be sure to check it out!

Have a blog? Would love to have you join the babywearing bloggers blogroll. If you get a chance, "like" the babywearing bloggers blogroll on facebook so others can know to join, too.

August 30, 2011

What I Did

Yesterday was the first day I was kid-free from 9am until almost 4. Jeff's mom picked Ivy up and off they rode to run errands and do laundry and play dolls. I stood there and thought, what shall I do?!

I finished up all my writing work for the morning, then went to the grocery store and moseyed (and I mean moseyed taking my sweet time) down each aisle. Not only did I have the whole cart to myself, I had no need to hurry back home. I gladly checked my email on my phone while I got in the slowest checkout line ever. I didn't mind.

I went to Starbucks. Made a ginormous pot of tortilla soup, like, I had to buy extra containers to store it all. Listened to Pandora (Phil Wickham radio) and then after a while was all wait a second and I turned the music off and just soaked in the quiet for hours. I mopped the floors. Cleaned a bathroom. Straightened stuff. Did some laundry, dreamed of a stacked washer dryer.

It doesn't seem like much for all that time, but I have lofty goals for next Monday. I'm talking clearing out the closets and finally organizing all the kids' outgrown clothes and figuring out what they need for fall. I might never return.

Oh, so, speaking of work. Here's some worth-while things I've written and would love for you to check out, share, do with what you want...

15 Best Movie Moms Ever
What did you do with your placenta?
Co-sleeping: for some it's a dirty night-time secret (love this video!)
An update on Gray's backpack and what he really ended up taking to school.
A little "tongue in cheek"- babywearing... are you doing it wrong?
A fun look back: 13 Classic Cartoons Then & Now

August 29, 2011

Arrivals and Departures

 stay there

Until yesterday I had always sang along to The Beatles' Let It Be like a declaration: let it BE! Let it be so , let it be true, let it turn into something great, let it become. But no maybe it's, let it be. Like leave it alone. It will work itself out. It already happened.

swing kids
this year

August 28, 2011

I Can't Wait For Bedtime

I Can't Wait For Bedtime starts at the :54 mark 

Behind the scenes of Listen To Your Mother with Stephanie Precourt (yeah, that's me)...

Stephanie Precourt lives in Valparaiso with husband Jeff and four awesome kids- Noah, Carter, Grayson, & Ivy LaRue. She is also a freelance writer for's Strollerderby and NWI Parent Magazine, and journals her daily life at, twitters: @babysteph.

Stephanie was so thrilled to be on stage again after a very long (married with four children) hiatus. Growing up she had great plans to be on Broadway, in the movies, or directing children's theatre. But mostly she finds that she and her husband Jeff are best at managing every kind of drama, tragedy, and comedy in their little home with their four very entertaining kids

Thoughts from Steph: "To be absolutely honest, I would have preferred to only direct and produce my Listen To Your Mother Valpo show and not read a piece.  But, "I Can't Wait For Bedtime" is so my life and sums me up quite well, and I do think it fell into place in the end. But I can't say that I would have cast myself if I had to audition ::cough::

My hope was to write something original for the show but my concentration was entirely on the production as a whole (my dream!) and I just couldn't get my brain to grasp composing a piece to read as well. Also, I was immensely intimidated by my cast. I mean, their readings were perfection and I just didn't know how I was going to follow that. But, I must say that my cast was my baby, my marvelous composition, and I am totally okay with that. I am so thankful for Listen To Your Mother and- it's been almost four months since our performance- I continue to get chills and tears in my eyes when I replay that night over in my mind. It was a phenomenal experience and I am so proud."

A little message from Ann Imig, creator of Listen To Your Mother: "In January 2010 Listen To Your Mother wasn’t even a protozoan of an idea yet. Steph made such an impression on me because at that time I struggled with my own goals and purpose in the online space. Steph clearly knew hers and used them with intention to build something quality, and I admired her for it.

After I put the 2010 show online, Steph tweeted that she watched it from start to finish while cleaning her closet. A 90 minute video online from start to finish? How many of us make it past 50 seconds when someone sends us a “must-see” youtube link? It meant so much to me that Steph took that time, and soon after I received the very first request of its kind for me to consider--

How could I get you to come to Valparaiso?

I responded:
Although this was supposed to be my "rest and reflect" period, I am already thinking about next year and thinking big. Not sure how big yet. I will definitely keep you, Valparaiso and this email in mind as this all marinates. 

Then I took three months to assess what made the Madison show successful, and what it would take to replicate it. I’m learning the easiest and most successful towns to produce LTYM shows are those communities where relatively low overhead expenses meet sizeable venues, and combine with a strong sense of local community. Add an experienced person skilled in networking and relating authentically and effectively in that community like Stephanie (both with social networking and with local people), and you can hit it out of the park.

In addition to being a Valpo and blog superstar, Steph makes a wonderful colleague. I felt so supported by her throughout this huge national expansion and trusted her implicitly. The heart and soul she brought to her production carried the LTYM torch, and I feel so grateful to her for honoring the vision and making it such a success."

This is the last installment in my Sunday feature "behind the scenes" of each Listen To Your Mother Valparaiso/NW Indiana piece. You can watch the entire show on the Listen To Your Mother Show YouTube channel here or see each piece listed and linked here and here.

August 27, 2011

Right Here Right Now

 (Noah was inside helping dad get all our drinks)

We've walked downtown three days in a row now (1.6 miles one-way).  Today we trekked it to breakfast, and then the market (mini pies made this morning: strawberry rhubarb, apple, & raspberry now in my possession), the splash pad, a kid's lemonade stand, and a yard sale promoted by a hilarious girl on the corner wearing a whoopie cushion costume and singing into a megaphone. We bought a book of riddles, an electric guitar, and a Wizard of Oz lunchbox.

My heartful eyes see. I cherish Gray's little legs in shorts with socks and shoes. He is counting down the days until he gets to go back to school he loves it that much. I can't figure out if Ivy is a mirror image of myself or if I am transforming into her. I'm mesmerized by her flair. Noah and Carter are big kids now and suddenly our neighborhood seems smaller. Their bikes go farther, out of sight. This freedom and letting go seems to come naturally, a meeting in the middle sort of thing. Happy scary love.

August 26, 2011

These Are The Days Of Our Lives

 one day of ivy
The trail of Ivy (my view from the kitchen sink) :
"let's play dollhouse now let's paint then draw look my pencil makes a drum set!"

So what have we been doing all day, now that the boys are back in school and it's just Ivy and me?

Well, the first day, we chased the school bus to take pics of Gray going to his kindergarten class. And then we went to Target. Of course. And then kind of milled around, napped, and such. Yesterday Jeff was off so in the morning I worked for an hour at a coffee shop and then we walked downtown to have lunch and visit the splash pad.

And then today Ivy assumed we were going to walk again, and I thought, why not. The 3+ miles roundtrip does help me get away from my computer and phone and would be excellent exercise until I finally get around to joining the Y. So we walked again and got an iced latte (and she a frozen cherry lemonade) and I'm tempted to start making this an every day thing.

When we got home we put on Pandora (Laurie Berkner station) and filled up the baby pool to make a water park for her My Little Ponies. As long as she had control of the water hose, I could even get some work done. Right about then was when it hit me that one is quite fun. This is going to be a precious time for us. A gift I didn't even see coming. It's awesome.

Now, I'm about to join her outside, dancing to Bob Marley with no pants on and maybe do some knitting while she "does beauty shop" to me and the ponies. (I'll keep my pants on.)

[*] I was sent a few tickets from Kodak to see the new Anne Hathaway movie One Day just out in theaters. I went to see it last night and I had not read the book - I definitely did not expect that ending! I have two tickets (from Kodak as well) to give away if you would like to see it, too?

Just leave a comment here to be entered to win the pair, and feel free to "like" Kodak on Facebook, while you're at it (today is the last day to vote in their special One Day photo contest, btw)! The tickets can be used virtually anywhere in the U.S. except AMC. I'll choose one comment at random on Monday August 29th and mail the tickets to the winner right away!

I also happen to have another giveaway going on- enter to win $75 to Tea Collection here.

Congrats to winner Celeste. Your tickets have been sent!

I love the way you wear your baby: the early years of babywearing

Remember Megan Summers from my Listen To Your Mother show? She sent me this photo of herself babywearing at a wedding in 1987.

"That big 9 month old is now a 6'3" man and 25 years old. Some days I just can't believe it. I must admit in looking for that picture today, I went through years of memories and had a good little cry along the journey."

I did capture a few babywearing photos while I was out and about this week but I wanted to have the moms view the photos first before I post them. In the meantime I found Megan's oldie but goodie timely because I wrote a (controversial?) (silly?) babywearing piece about the debate of wearing your baby forward facing or not... and I give my updated opinion on a certain kind of baby carrier (yes, that is me circa 2002) that many babywearers hate. Would love to know what you think about it all. Babywearing: Are You Doing It Wrong? How You Carry Your Baby Could Scar(e) Them For Life. 

See past I love the way your wear your baby: beautiful babywearing photos 

As always, I love to see your babywearing photos. If you've posted any recently, feel free to link in the comments below!

Have a blog? Would love to have you join the babywearing bloggers blogroll.

August 25, 2011

Poncho! Poncho! [Tea Collection Giveaway]


I am seriously so excited that ponchos are coming back in. I've been searching for the perfect knitting pattern to make one for Ivy and myself. I couldn't resist snatching up the Dulce Sarape Poncho from Tea Collection (btw you already know we are huge fans and have long been buying Tea Kids Clothes before I even started a blog, and most of the Tea "As Seen On Ivy" and Gray is out of our own pockets (and absolutely worth every penny in quality alone, not to mention style.)

Tea did let me choose some items from their new fall collection and I dove right in.


The first time I put the skinny stretch jeans on Ivy I almost fell over from the cute. (Honestly I was skeptical that they would even fit but oh my goodness they fit well! And are adorable!)

skinny jeans

She claims the cape makes her a "batman princess". Go for it, baby girl.


More from Tea Collection:
Girls Clothes
Women's Clothing 


Win! Check out Tea Collection and leave a comment below if you'd like to be entered to win $75 to spend.
  • "Like" Tea Collection on Facebook for an additional entry (leave another comment letting me know).
  • Like this post on Facebook ("like" button at the bottom!) for an additional entry (leave another comment letting me know).

I'll choose a winner at random from the comments next Friday September 2nd!

Congrats to winner Laura Seymour!

Tea Collection provided clothing for this post and a $75 Tea Collection gift certificate to give away. 

Small Style: Red Jon Jons

Seriously. Seriously? Who taught her to pose like this.

small style jon jons

I won a giveaway to the adorable etsy shop Sugarpetite.
I chose the red jon jons. Perfect selection for miss Ivy LaRue, no?

When they came in the mail she insisted that she wear them immediately. We were heading to a pizza party at Jeff's parent's, so I admit that I cringed at the thought of staining them up so soon. But she had already gotten undressed and so, I told her the only way she could wear them is if she wore her leg warmers, too (to protect her knees-they play on the driveway and sidewalks outside at Grandma's and she falls a lot.) Then, at the party, she would walk up to every adult and do that hands on the hip pose and say, look at my new outfit!*

sweet sweet

On ivy for this week's small style...

jon jons: sugarpetite
leg warmers: etsy

August 24, 2011

First Day...

Gray's first day of school

Carter's first day of 4th grade

Noah's first day of 5th grade

Ivy's first day

August 23, 2011

Bittersweet Symphony On My Little Finger Violin

Jeff took the kids for a walk tonight so I could "clean up the kitchen" aw gee thanks but I admit it was nice to crank up my iPod and not trip over little people while I put away all our foodstuffs and washed dishes. And then I glanced at Gray's lunchbox and had time to put Veggie Straws in little baggies for the week and resolved to be all organized about packing lunches as much as possible ahead of time so I'm not rushed every morning this year and also I was ignoring any and all feelings that tried to bubble up from the presence of said lunchbox.

He starts school in the morning, like all day. Like, what is he going to be doing all day? That is a lot of learning, to go from home all the time to school. I know that I know that it's the right thing for him, it's just so weird!

I'm also a little skeeved about what he might say to his teachers. Of all my kids, he's the one that tells the stories that embarrass worry me the most. Is it too late to back out now. My "baby" starts school tomorrow and I don't know if I am ready for this.

August 22, 2011

Precisely Why Kids Can't Marry, Drive Cars, and Have Kids Of Their Own

optical illusion

Gray gabbed the entire time we were in the car yesterday, but I didn't mind because our days together grow short- him starting school all day on Wednesday. He talked about marriage, of course, and I tried to explain why he couldn't marry his cousin Lauren. So his shoulders drooped and he said, Fiiiiiiiiiine. I'll just marry Ivy then I guess. And then we had to talk some more.Then Ivy cried because she and Gray can't get married.

He got to talking about having kids and he said, When I have kids, if I don't have room in my car I will have to put the extra kid in the trunk. And of course I told him that he can't do that and he said, But it will be in the trunk! No one will know.

August 21, 2011

Sponsored: Will Go Go With Me? [GoGo squeeZ GoGo Time]

145/365 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

I can hear the metal swing chains clang, the hot black rubber seat on the elementary school playground way back sometime in the mid-eighties. At recess we'd race to claim our swings and go as high as we could. We all chose a name of a fruit that we wanted to be and one person would call out "apple!" and whoever was apple would have to immediately jump off. And if the person called "fruit basket!" we all had to jump off. And then run to get a swing again.

I have no idea who invented this mixed up game of musical chairs, we knew it as "upset fruit basket"- but I remember clear as day the adrenaline rush of swinging so high and what if I'm called? And jumping off and it seemed like two hundred feet from the ground but I bet if I could see it today it would be much, much smaller. 

The only other recess games I remember playing is tether ball, four square, and Jem.

ogosport game

Our new favorite thing to play with this summer is the OgoDisk- frisbees that are like tiny trampolines and you can bounce this koosh ball back and forth. Grayson has made some very specific rules about this game that we call Bouncy Catch. The main objective is  pretty much to try not to drop the ball.

Gray's rules are as follows: if you drop the ball, he gets a point. If he drops the ball, he gets two points. And no one keeps score. Basically I go with it because this way he doesn't quit and we can keep on moving and it makes him so happy and I love to hear him laugh and marvel at his awesome Bouncy Catch skillz. 

bouncy catch

We also play in the front yard and I always hope people will see us and be like, oh man, I need to get out and play with my kid when I get home. (Hey, It totally works on me when I see this neighbor lady walking her kids every day. I'm all, I feel guilty I don't go for walks with the kids more so I do something about it and go!) (Usually.)

So, now I'm asking you to take action. I'm working with GoGo squeeZ this month to encourage parents to  get outside and play. Can you dedicate yourself to get a daily dose of physical activity with your kids. Yes? Great! Please consider joining us in the GoGo Gang.

When the GoGo Gang is 100,000 members strong, GoGo squeeZ will build a playground in an community in need, making it easy and fun for children in the area to get their GoGo Time. When membership reaches 250,000, GoGo squeeZ will build play spaces in two more communities! Upload a photo of you and your kids having GoGo Time here and you'll be giving back so others can get back to the playground, too.

What did you play at recess as a kid? What's your favorite outside game to play with your kids right now?

GoGo squeeZ is handsomely compensating me for this post and provided the GoGo Time in the Summertime kit, which included GoGo squeeZ samples,outdoor play gear like the OgoDisk, and a Flip HD video camera. (I'll be giving away a GoGo Time in the Summertime kit next week, be sure to subscribe to my blog, like GoGo squeeZ on Facebook, and follow on Twitter so you don't miss your chance to enter! Enter your zip code to find out where to buy GoGo squeeZ near you. (Perfect for lunches this back to school time.)

Finding The Humor

Finding The Humor starts at the :41 mark 

Behind the scenes of Listen To Your Mother with Patrick Thornton...

Patrick Thornton is is an actor, writer, and a 2010 Butler University grad. A former stay at home man-child, he recently started working at the Memorial Opera House earlier this year.

Although he doesn’t have any children of his own, he stays busy raising his two middle aged parents and 87 year old grandfather, and helping them through those awkward years between 50 and 100. Find Patrick online at & @retropat on Twitter.

Thoughts from Patrick: "Although I had been encouraged by my cousin Shelli and our friend Katy to audition, I never thought I would actually be a part of LTYM.  It wasn't until I met Stephanie that I decided to audition.  I can't thank her enough for talking me into doing the show.

The most difficult aspect of LTYM was writing a monologue.  The fact is, there are an overwhelming number of stories to tell about my mom.  There were so many I wanted to tell.  The "Get Us In The Will" story was almost replaced by the time when mom found a opossum in our basement and she told me to smack her because she was in shock and couldn't stop screaming.  Another one that didn't make the cut was when she broke her nose picking up cat poop.  I know what you're thinking, "Been there.  Done that."

As for the show itself, most things make me nervous, but performing isn't one of them.  What did worry me was whether or not people would the that my mom was in on the joke.  It wasn't until that first laught that I knew the audience would be on my side.

Oh, and the reason I start laughing in the middle of my monologue?  It's not because I find myself hilarious, it's because I could hear my mom's sadistic laught from the audience.  Hearing her laughter was probably my favorite part of the show."

A little background from Steph: "Oh, Patrick! I just loved his piece so much, and I loved that it was about his mom. Most of the Listen To Your Mother Valpo readings were more about the performer's perspective as a mother, so I was thankful to have Patrick and Adam speak about their moms. And also it was pretty neat that I had two men in the cast.

I briefly met Patrick before he decided to audition and admit I thought he was this shy young man and had no idea what he would come up with for auditions. Did you watch the video up there? Yeah. He blew me away! First of all, I knew my mom would love him as would every woman in the audience (I was right!) and second, he made me laugh and was such a different style than the rest of the auditions I'd seen, with his stand-up comic style. I also instantly had him in mind as the perfect emcee to introduce me before my piece at the end of the show. He had the audience roaring, and the best part is that his mom was the leader of all that laughter."

Every Sunday I feature a "behind the scenes" of each Listen To Your Mother Valparaiso/NW Indiana piece. You can watch the entire show on the Listen To Your Mother Show YouTube channel here or see each piece listed and linked here and here.

August 20, 2011

I promise there was a basket of clean towels that just needed to be folded.

Hubs, being a good sport sent this to me yesterday morning.

And there's a pile of clean dishes that just need to be dried. And please just don't even go into the bathroom, okay.

I don't even know where to begin, sometimes I want to haul a dumspter up to the house and start shoveling stuff out the window. Or we could just light a match. It's not even about simplifying; I've filled my small home with only things I love and use but still. I will finally talk myself down from the ledge about it and nibble one bite at a time and then I walk out into the garage. Not any better in there and I'd really like to park my car in there by winter. Oh yeah, and then there's my car. Don't go in there either.

Starting in September, Jeff's mom wants to take Ivy on Mondays- all day. So I will be empty nesting it while the boys are in school. She probably got wind of her son having to use kid towels and was like we have to get this girl some help. Well, I'll take it.

I'm thankful my writing can be a paying job, and I'm so grateful for my family, our home and all my things. But I have got to rein it in somehow someway.  Do you have a "system" you go by? Do you dedicate one day a week to cleaning (and if so how do you keep it clean the other days of the week?!) Is this one of those things that won't even matter when I look back in ten years? Oh and also where do I even begin?

So that it's not all for naught, I'm indebted if you'd read this post that I wrote (and truly put my heart into) this week, would like for you to consider signing up for the newsletter here, check out my latest posts at Strollerderby, and if you find yourself with some time to watch a few short videos, my Listen To Your Mother show is waiting to inspire you right here.

Ta ta, I'm off to fold some towels.

For bed linens and quilts, visit CentrSource

August 19, 2011

A conversation, and new hair before & after

Hey, mom, you know how you said I could get an app on my iPod if I pay you for it?

Ok sure.

He places four quarters on my dresser.

(As I enter my password to buy the app) Where'd you get those quarters?

They were in your car.

Last week he decided he wanted a hair cut.

photo by crookedeyebrow

I will say this just once, and hopefully not again, but... the 'tude has totally started with him and while I am sure most moms dread this change in their child I have to say I find it comforting and exciting. And it kind of makes me want to happy cry because well, there was a time when we didn't know just how long he'd make it and so... yeah*. How's that for perspective? Insert smiley face here.

 Noah's hair cut

He's pretty much one of the best people I know.

P.S. those photos were taken less than two weeks

*catch up on Noah's story by clicking on the tab at the top of my blog.

August 18, 2011

It's been one week... GMC Acadia Denali Review

love that skyline...

It's been one week since I last drove the lovely carbon black metallic GMC Acadia Denali. If you've followed along, GM graciously let us use the vehicle for a week during our road trip to a river cabin in Michigan. I had never thought of myself as a car person, it's just not my cup of tea but I found I was a bit enamored. And actually being thoughtful about what and how I drive.

So, here are my thoughts about it!

It had been a few years since we last went car shopping, so a lot of the bells and whistles were new to me. Our car (a 2007 Kia Rondo) is simple and adequate for our needs as a family of 6. Definitely not roomy enough to go on a big trip, or even to tote a large stroller if we're all together, but most of the year when the kids are in school, I am just driving around myself and two (or now one!) other kid(s). We make do.

Driving the Acadia Denali was a treat, and it was fun to indulge for the week. (First things first- the 2011 Acadia Denali starts at about $44,000). (So imagine if you will that I or you can afford it, or something similar with the same awesome features.)

Like a glove: One thing that stands out the most to me is how I never once felt like I was driving someone else's car. It never felt awkward or like it didn't fit (see? match made in heaven!) I was very comfortable in the driver's side, passenger seat, and even in the middle aisle when Noah wanted to ride up front on our way home from Michigan.

OnStar: I had never had experience with OnStar before and was excited that we actually needed to use it to figure out how to get to our cabin before we even left our driveway. It was like we made a phone call on speakerphone inside the car, just by pushing a button. And a real live person took care of us. Then what they looked up loaded directly onto our GPS screen. This definitely came in handy when we were in areas of no cell service (yes I kept double checking the directions on my iPhone Google map!) I also found the GPS navigator's voice helpful when she would warn of traffic, its reason, and location.

rearview camera

Rearview Camera System: Genius. I had heard about the rear view video thing that you could use when in reverse- located right where the stereo/GPS screen was. While it can't take the place of still looking in all mirrors and being careful of anything that could be in the way, it offered a wonderful peace of mind. And was also kind of cool to see so much of what was behind you. If an object was too close (think parking or child walking behind) then an alarm would sound. I think I loved it most when exiting my driveway in a neighborhood filled with kids as well as the grocery store parking lot. I definitely miss this feature and wish I had it in my car. (Please note that the photos I took were staged and no child was ever in any harm!)

Satellite radio: Hello. Where have I been? I loved the options of listening to AM/FM, my iPod, or the satellite radio- we settled on Coffee House Radio for most of the trip. And yes, I do miss it!

Entertainment System:
We never used the DVD player even once! But I think that's awesome. Our traveling time was only about 4 hours or so one way, so really, the kids could busy themselves with napping or chatting or playing on their iPods or yeah, looking out the windows! If the trip had been a more lengthy one, we'd have tried out the DVD player for sure. But I love that even though it was there, we didn't need it, so we didn't have it on just to have it on. I think that if we had an entertainment system in our car we'd be the same way: for long trips only. Or when the kids are driving us crazy. (Hey, there are times, in Chicago traffic... yes.)

(usually there are a lot more groceries and stuff.)

Roomy-ness: I loved how spacious it felt. I am not even sure if the overall size was that much more roomy than we are used to, but it appeared to be. A sign of good design. And I definitely long to have a vehicle with three rows and STILL have room in the back for groceries or other large items. That is the main reason we took the Acadia on the trip, because our vehicle was too small.

"3-D" Head-Up Display*: Probably one of my favorite features was the "head-up display" that projects your speed, radio station, and more onto the windshield so you never have to take your eyes off the road. I love this! I honestly have never paid so much attention to how fast I was going until it was right there before my eyes. And since then, I am so much more aware of my speed. I just wish I had it displayed like that for me! (It's not really 3D, it just felt like it!)

Good for all kinds of driving: We drove it around our city, a small-ish easy town, we drove it up to Michigan on the highway, we drove it on gravel, then dirt roads, then the woodsy woods, even in the rain, and then on the last day, I took that baby into the city. It really is a lover of all roads, and the real test on Lake Shore Drive, moon roof open to see the beautiful skyline of downtown Chicago... a memory was made.

Please have mercy: I hope I'm not butchering this review. I'm thinking I am probably leaving big important things out like the size of the engine and other important automotive-speaky terms. But, I'm just going to keep it real.

Good for the feelings: Not just about the car, but the company... GM is in the business of honoring heroes and are looking for nominations if you happen to know someone deserving of recognition. Check out Driving The Midwest, Driving the Heartland, Driving the Southeast, and Driving the Northeast to find out about their projects for good nearest you. The winners and their nominees win some great prizes from GM!

GM provided me with a 2011 Acadia Denali, including a full tank of gas for my use for a whole week. (Yes I filled it up using my own money in between that time!) Please check out Driving The Midwest for more information about Our Town, Our Heroes. And be sure to scroll to the bottom right of that page to find a similar project going on if you're not in the midwest! Follow @DrivingMidwest on Twitter.

*edited to add! One of my favorite features, didn't mean to exclude from the original post!

Small Style: Teacher, Teacher edition


Someone is ready for school to start so she can have me all to herself all day! It's going to be amazing!



On ivy for this week's small style...

dress-  h&m
socks- matilda jane

[linking up as always with small style at mama loves papa.] 

August 17, 2011

I love the way you wear your baby: beautiful babywearing photos

Heather + mei tai back carry.2

I am going to start capturing photos of babywearing as I see it when I'm out and about. (With the subject's permission, of course.) It makes me happy that I do see quite a bit of babywearing around my wonderful city.

Today I was chatting at the park with my fabulous friend Heather (fabulous is the perfect word to describe her, btw) as she had her baby Libby chilling on her back in a mei tai. She so kindly agreed to be my first in this photo series!

Heather + mei tai back carry

Heather wears her 8-month old daughter Libby in a local mama-made Hold Me Close mei tai.

As always, I love to see your babywearing photos. If you've posted any recently, feel free to link in the comments below!

Have a blog? Would love to have you join the babywearing bloggers blogroll.

August 16, 2011

Even her shadow jumps for joy.

ivy at splash pad

At our city's new ampitheatre- Central Park Plaza- we love we love! 

Today we enjoyed family and friends and the sun and the water and live music and farmer's market veggies and peaches so fresh you had to eat them right now.  

If you get a chance, please check out:

August 15, 2011

To baby or not to baby?

35 weeks
Three years ago this week I was 35 weeks pregnant with Ivy and apparently had thinner arms than I do now but also, three years- THREE YEARS it's been since I had a baby in my belly? That just absolutely took me by surprise.

I've found myself so adamant about being done having babies that I'm almost all the way on the other side of the fence again... thinking... and second guessing the empty womb. All of this is probably due to the fact that all of my children now sleep through the night for the most part and are growing-ly independent and thus the memory-loss happens of how life is with many children and a baby. Oh the memory, it fades.

We saw Jim Gaffigan over the weekend and he described what having four kids was like: "Imagine you are drowning. Then someone hands you a baby."

Of course it's a joke. I love having four kids and that love often nudges me into thinking five would be even more awesome. I am sure it would be. But I don't know if I'm meant for that kind of awesome today- or rather- 9 months from now.  And it's not even about the money or the size of our house anymore. It's much, much deeper than that.

It's never comfortable talking about not having any more babies. I always feel like I'm going to say the wrong thing even when I'm obviously only speaking for myself. I think I feel like some camps are disappointed that we don't keep on and other people of course think we have way too many kids already. And who cares what either thinks? I can't even make up my own mind about it.

I'm just being wistful today. I love being pregnant, and I love that I love when I'm not.

photo: crookedeyebrow

Palms up.

Once there were two little froggies

I turned my hands, palms upward, and said help me give today. I was in the shower trying to wake myself up and clean off the busy. We had one day left with the vehicle we'd used for our roadtrip and I wanted to do something good with it like their mission with Hometown Heroes.

But in all honesty I was failing miserably. My best attempt earlier in the week: being too exhausted to even plan a play/coffee date, I drove to a friend's house, slipped a book and Starbucks card in her door, and was off. Hoping it was enough. And vowing to do that more often, instead of nothing.

I ended up taking the kids to the zoo on this final day, which was probably selfish encouragement on my part. It's what I needed. The drive was breathtaking. The kids led the way, zigzagging from animal to bird off our normal course. We sat on a bench to eat our popcorn and snow cones and a lady came right up to me and asked me for a dollar. My opportunity to give, so I reached in my purse and handed her one. (Then she came back a few moments later and asked for another, and I said no. And I felt both annoyed and guilty. If I could go back in time I would have given her all I had. I feel like that was what I should have done.)

Palms up.

The past few days have had me groggy and tangled in my puppet strings. It's like at the beginning of summer I set out all the plans and to-dos and then wound myself, nudged off into the motions, but my heart has had a heck of a time keeping up.

During our river cabin stay, Gray was on constant search of these little frogs that were all around us. These tiny little woodland creatures. We emptied the box from our plastic forks and he made a home. One escaped under the deck when not in careful grasp, and the other kept playing dead until he wasn't playing any longer.

Gray was heartbroken to say the least, as five year olds do, and so we made a big deal about it, too, as if he'd lost someone very close to him. He decided on a quiet burial at sea, and shed real funeral tears. I hugged him and let him cry.

and then there were none

So, as I'm trying to be more intentional with my encouragement and do-gooding every day (and finding that it's not easy in this already not-easy life) it doesn't mean I won't keep trying. Most days it will be in the form of a smile to a stranger, an email, a hug while you just cry or maybe a text or a comment on Facebook. Other times I will hopefully sit myself down and handwrite it out and take a walk to the mailbox.

And some days I'll be the one receiving- 

Palms up.

-this time to catch, instead of release.

Hallmark has never asked me to do product placement here but I personally wanted to mention that I take comfort in having a stack of cards, stamps, and a pen in a designated spot on hand, because if I have to make a special trip it's probably not going to happen. Even better are the pre-paid postage cards. Win win.

Go forth and encourage!

Hallmark is compensating me for this sponsored post, but let me write about anything I wanted in the theme of encouragement. It would be awesome if you'd sign up for their promotional emails (you might even see me in there!) by following this link. I am partnering with Hallmark to shine a light to the Life Is A Special Occasion  blogger campaign for the rest of this year. As always, all content and opinions expressed are my own.

August 13, 2011

Things I May Have Forgotten To Tell You

Things I May Have Forgotten To Tell You starts at the 1:01 mark 

Behind the scenes of Listen To Your Mother with Megan Summers...

Megan-LTYM-2Megan Summers is an advertising copywriter by trade and has thus mastered the art of writing everything
at an eighth grade level. When she moved to Texas in the late 70’s with her then boyfriend and now husband and boyfriend of nearly 30 years, she found work in a very small advertising agency and thus began her not-so-storied career.

After the birth of her first child, her plans to be a stay-at-home mom lasted only seven months. Much to her surprise and feelings of guilt, Megan did not feel fulfilled. This time she went to work part time writing for an agency whose clients were rich Texans who bred and showed purebred cattle.

After the birth of her third and final native Texan, Megan and family moved back to the Midwest where she and her husband grew up and still had some family. Here, she continued her part time copywriting career. In 2005, Megan decided she was bored with agency life and decided to become a freelance copywriter. At the same time her youngest was leaving home, Megan became a stay-at-home mom.

Growing up with little parental guidance herself, Megan has found motherhood exciting, scary, fun, demanding and often mind-boggling. She loves when her children Alane (28), Evan (25) and Iris (21) are home at the same time. It’s always a laugh fest and an opportunity for her to prepare their favorite comfort food – frozen pizza.

Thoughts from Megan: "Like so many things I’ve done in life, I came upon LTYM without a clue as to what I was doing. I do not blog (though I’m considering it) and did not read blogs. However my oldest daughter is an avid reader and saw the audition notice on Adventures in Babywearing. She sent me the link and, without a second thought, I emailed Stephanie. I liked Stephanie immediately and was amazed that all of these writers – women and men – connected through the blogsosphere. Frankly I still am amazed and even more so to learn there are big national conferences specifically designed for women bloggers. Plus, all of the technology that I knew nothing about really made me feel old – like in OMG I’m OLD!

However, after I was selected to perform and had the opportunity to meet the other cast members, I found a type of energy that I hadn’t experienced in years. Collectively, they made me laugh, cry, question and want more. They also made me glad that I was no longer in the trenches of parenting:)

I can’t describe what the whole live LTYM event was like. For some reason I wasn’t nervous. More than anything, I felt proud to be in the company of the other readers, because they were soooo good. And, I was proud to look into the audience and see Alane, Evan and Iris – kids who have grown into competent, capable and secure adults."

A little background from Steph: "Megan was such a pleasant surprise for me on audition day. I had never met her before and admit that when I saw a Megan Summers emailed me to audition that I was picturing a, cough, young, "newish" mom. She has a young name, alright! And I would soon learn an even younger heart.

I know she felt out of her element with most of us "youngsters" at first but I was and am still so comforted by Megan's presence in our show and as my now friend. Her piece made me view the time I will take my own kids off to college as less scary and more life. She made me laugh and cry and want to do and be better for my family, while at the same time laughing at herself and the crazy things in motherhood."

Every Sunday I'm featuring a "behind the scenes" of each Listen To Your Mother Valparaiso/NW Indiana piece. You can watch the entire show on the Listen To Your Mother Show YouTube channel here or see each piece listed and linked here and here.

August 12, 2011

"Mom, can you take a picture of my Legos and put it on your blog?" "Ok."

Lego building farnsworth house

And then he was like, can you send it to and youtube, too? And I was like, I need to get you a computer, kid.

Lego architecture farnsworth house

My dad got Carter the Lego Farnsworth House for his birthday.

Legos angry birds

I thought these Angry Birds were pretty creative. He's such an awesome kid.

(This also inspired me to round up a bunch of cool Lego photos off the Internet for a photo slideshow at Strollerderby: 15 Awesome and Imaginative Lego Creations.)

Are your kids Lego maniacs? Should we start them their own blog or flickr group to share with each other? I'm tempted!