Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hey! Get back here you little Scooter Toot!

I've never been a pet name kind of gal. Shane and I call each other, well, Shane and Natalie. Occasionally we call each other something like "sweetheart", but it is so rare that it really does come across as a noticeable term of endearment. I always thought that couples who are calling each other "honey" or "babe" in the midst of a heated argument may be at the point of overuse. But that's just me. Shane has a few other nicknames for me, but they' :)

As soon as I had kids, that pet name policy went at the window. With Lydia every other word from my mouth was "sweetie", " sweet baby", "munchkin", "cutie pie", "sweetheart", "Liddy Bitty". From the day Collin was born I started calling him my little "scooter toot". It just seemed to fit. I found out recently that my mom called me that as well, so I guess it makes sense. Now he is actually crawling and I get to see that little toot scooting around the house. I hope he doesn't walk too soon. I like this stage.

What nicknames do you use in your family? 

By the way, I've added my summer reading recommendations and summer reading list to Monday's post.   Sorry I didn't think to include them earlier. Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Updated Book Club

Speaking of summer reading, I have a great idea for you ladies. (Do any men actually read this blog?)

Book clubs are fun, but it can be really difficult to agree on a book that everyone wants to read, and then of course, to find the time to read the book. A couple months ago I had an idea to have a "Summer Reading List" party. Instead of having one specific book to read, get a bunch of friends together to discuss summer reading recommendations. Everyone make a list of books that they think others would enjoy. Bring food and spend an evening talking about favorite reads. Everyone goes home with their own new list.

My friend Jessica was nice enough to host our "Summer Reading List Party" at her gorgeous home. Everyone brought delicious food and their book recommendations. Jessica set up a "swap table" for any one who wanted to bring books to trade. (Four of the guests are weeks away from giving birth. I'm so glad in not pregnant.)

It was a great time and I have a list of 10 books I want to have done by September. Thanks ladies!

What books would you recommend for a summer reading list???

Update- I probably should have thought to do this earlier, but here are the books I recommended. Not necessarily my favorite books of all time, but books I really enjoyed reading - I did star (****) my very favorite reads in the list.

French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure

These are the books I am planning on reading this summer- 

Right now I'm reading On Folly Beach. I'll review it next month. It hasn't been released yet... (ah the perks of blogging!) but you can pick it up on May 4th. Read it and we can discuss! It's great so far. I read for an hour and a half in the bath last night. With chocolate. Bliss. 


Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...
Fun idea! I want to see your new list :) I am always looking for a new book to read.
Brit said...
I'd love to hear a few titles! I have a book club with some of my friends and we're always interested in what's out there that moms enjoy. Please post or e-mail me! :)
S Club Mama said...
Water for Elephants Hunger Games triology (the 3rd book is due out in Sept.) Plan B Run Like a Mother Will you do a post with your recommendations?
Life With the Crazies said...
The Help by Kathryn Sockett... I couldn't put it down, even though it is super long, I loved it!!!
Kytsmom said...
French Women don't get Fat. I read it every summertime. It gets me excited for Farmer's Markets and having friends over for fresh food!
Natalie Jane said...
LOVE that book! It was on my list of recommendations! Makes me want to bake a baguette....
Modern Crush said...
I spy THE HOST!!! Ahh, I do love that book... happy reading! xo
Nickie said...
I love reading in the bath....Sometimes if I am finishing a book I could be in the for hours. My daughter loves the Hunger Games. She keeps begging me to read it. I just might have to read it on vacation this year. Thanks for the list.
Stacy said...
I'd definitely recommend The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster.
Nama said...
Thanks for putting up this list! I love that you included a Laurie Nataro book...she's hilarious, and I love her books as fun, light reads that you can pick up randomly when you need a good laugh. :) Also, I love Ender's Game. Have you read Speaker for the Dead? I absolutely love that book, and you should totally read it!
sara said...
I love LOVE this idea!!! Whenever I can get my act together and plan a party, that's the one for sure! It might be lame at this point, but The Time Traveler's Wife is on my top five books of all time list. Perfect read for any season, especially summer! Currently, I'm reading Let The Great World Spin by, Colum McCann. It's good so far.
Natalie Jane said...
Nama - I've read the entire Ender's series several times. Have you read the one that came out a couple years ago? I thought it was just so so. The rest I LOVED!
Gilbert Family said...
Please tell me that you plan on reading Catching Fire (second book to Hunger Games)! I love those entertaining!
Natalie Jane said...
LOVED Catching Fire! Can't wait for the next one!!!!
Nickie said...
I just ordered the third Hunger Games. It comes out August 24th.
kanishk said...
I am always looking for a new book to read. post free classified ads
Heileson Family said...
I am a huge reader. I read 8 books in April. I love to read. I have read most of your titles. A few were harder to get into than others. Oh I have so many I loved though. You should go to and set up an account and then all of your friends can see what you are reading and they are reading. You can make tons of comments on the books too. I love it because I can see what people are reading and then mark that I want to read the books as well. It is a nice way to find out about new books. Check it out. I love it and then when you sign up we can be reading friends too.
Natalie Jane said...
I'm on Goodreads and I will make sure to look you up!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Next Move Towards Becoming Green

Happy Earth Day! It is so glorious outside right now, it is like the Earth is celebrating her big day along with us. The smell of new honeysuckle is wafting through the open windows. Yum.

 I'm happy to report our family has made some good strides towards becoming green. We are now using cloth napkins almost exclusively along with reusable snack bags. I have curbed my driving so that instead of filling up my gas tank every 3 weeks, it is every 5 weeks. We finally have recycling pick up offered in our area and that has cut our trash in half. I love to give Lydia cereal boxes to jump on to crush and then walk her out to the recycle bin. I recently found out that you use 8 times as much water to wash dishes by hand as in the dishwasher, so that was a freebee. I hate washing dishes by hand.

My next move it to get rid of the plastic store sacks. Did you know that the average American family consumes over 2,500 plastic sacks a year! Yikes! That can't be good. My goal is to stock up on those $1 grocery totes and actually take them with me to the store. Along with that, I want a really stylish tote to always have with me when I am running errands. I'm loving the "Bag Envy" tote from Green Eyed Monster. Stylish, practical and gets the point across. Also, the simple "live enviably" tote is on sale for $10!!  I saw on Twitter and facebook that you can win a Bag Envy tote for yourself. I know, leave it to me to see Earth Day as a reason to go purse shopping. But hey, it's for the planet!

What are you doing to go more green?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yellow Springtime

It is a gorgeous Monday morning here in Tennessee. A day to get out and play!

85 Degrees in April? Guess it's time to pull out the pillowcase dresses and spend some serious time in the backyard.

While Lydia was swinging, she looked towards the sun and closed her eyes. She yelled "everything looks yellow!" I remember that childhood sensation perfectly.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Springtime Lovelies

My favorite local photographer. 

Could someone please tell Shane these are the flowers I am dreaming of?

And how perfect is this top for a Springtime date? 


The lane to my house. Well, not really, but maybe someday.


Lovelies everywhere you look.

My little family on a springtime picnic on a perfect day. I love that this shot was taken through a hundred year old window. Makes a lovely filter, no?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Through Collin's Eyes

I'm taking a month long photo class where each day we are asked to take a photo with a particular theme. Tuesday's assignment was to take a photo from the perspective of a different person. Lydia was at preschool so I took Collin out to the yard and let him explore. At first I was frustrated by the full sun (really hard to photograph in), but as I watched him, I was mesmerized. Can it really be that he is mine?

Click here to see some more of my practice photos. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Perfect Housewife.

Lydia and I were about to start baking and Shane grabbed the camera. Later on I looked at the photos and laughed. There she is. The perfect housewife. Making muffins with her daughter to share with the rest of her family and neighborhood. You would never know that just hours before, she threw a dust pan at the wall in total exasperation at the baby who would not go down for his nap. Or that she had to actually toss the Easter candy in the garbage disposal to keep from drowning her frustration in chocolate. Nope. For all you know, she is the perfect mommy and wife.

And I am. Exactly 27% of the time.

And in other news:

Other perfect housewives: I made the yummiest meatloaf on Sunday. I added a variety of bell peppers for a little added flavor. Found the recipe over at one of my favorite cooking blogs, The Sister's Cafe. Check them out and tell them I sent you. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heeding The Universal Pieces Of Advice

I learned something about a year out of high school. "They" are most often right. The people who all tell you the same thing but you don't listen. You tune it out because you hear it so often. "They" are the people who are older and more experienced than you. "They" are the people who want you to learn from their mistakes.

Soon after high school I learned an amazing truth. All that drama and need to fit it....wouldn't matter at all after graduation. Who cares who was in the popular group or who drove the right car? No one cares. The amazing thing was I heard that over and over again. I heard it from my parents, from older friends, from books and strangers in the mall. Over and over I heard "Don't stress about all this stuff. In a few years it won't matter to anyone."

But I didn't listen. I thought, they don't know anything about it. The 5 journals that span my high school life would indicate I was worried about the drama.

When the truth of it all hit me, somewhere in my freshman year of college, I realized something much more important. "They" knew this. Had I just listened to my parents and teachers and strangers, I could have saved myself (and my parents) so much mental exertion and drama. Had I just known in high school what I learned very quickly in college, I would have been happier.

It was that day I decided to listen to "them". I decided I would pay attention to the advice that seems universally given. I would not let my eyes glaze over in the mere repetition of it all, but try to see the reason behind the counsel.

When Shane and I got married, the advice I held to closest was "Experience everything you can before you have kids, because afterwards, you'll have to wait years before you have the chance again." So we did. We did everything! For the five years before Lydia was born we experienced everything we could. We traveled as often as possible. "Hey, it's a three day weekend, let's drive to Washington DC!" ...."Hey, it's a beautiful night, let's travel into the country and sleep in the back of the jeep and call it camping".  "Hey, let's go to Guatemala for a couple weeks!"..."Hey, we get to sleep in tomorrow, let's stay up all night talking and watch the sunrise." We went on dates, whether fancy or simple, a few times a week. We enjoyed each other.

Thank you to all those who urgently admonished this. You were right. Oh you were right.

There are so many of these universal pieces of advice I want to adhere to.

"Don't go into needless debt! It can destroy your life" - So we try not to.

"Keep your body healthy, you won't always be young" - So I need to.

There is one piece of advice I hold closest now. I clutch at it in near desperation. "They" have told me to "Enjoy them". Enjoy my little ones. Enjoy them while they are so young. Take advantage of this sweet time with my children.

This is the advice I have heard more than any other. I have heard it from almost every parent whose children are older than 10.

"Enjoy them".

I know, I know "they" are right. I look at my sweet children and I already ache that they are growing so fast. I watch with fascination as Lydia starts to read. She articulates her emotion with such clarity and I wonder where my baby went. Her sweet innocence still shins on her face and I want to whisper, hold on to that. Don't grow up too fast. My little Collin is moving swiftly out of babyhood to become a toddler and I want to scream for him to stay little. I'm not ready not to have a baby. It went too fast!

The problem with this advice is that you can't see around the haze of motherhood with enough clarity. I know I need to enjoy my children. Everyday I should plop down on the floor and color and play for hours. But that is the exact problem. It is EVERYDAY. ALL DAY LONG. I try to explain to Shane that he leaves his job at the end of the day and comes home. But my home is my job. I never leave. My freedom is relativity non existent. It is difficult to constantly embrace what you can never get away from.

The more I learn about myself as a mother, the more I understand that the routine I am living with is not conducive to my personality. I love staying at home with my children. More than I thought I ever could. But I do not like staying home with them all day, every day. It just isn't conducive to "me". I NEED time for myself. I need to step away from my children for a few hours a few times a week. I need that time away so I can return to them refreshed and ready to enjoy them.

But I can't have a few hours. I have no family here. My husband works more hours than a surgeon. All my friends have very young children as well. In this economy, it wouldn't be prudent to hire even a very part time nanny.  It makes me desperate at times. I don't want to miss these amazing moments with my children, just because I am drowning in them. I need to step away so I can see them with clarity.

I'm coming to terms with the fact that "this just isn't the time" for many things in my life. My life is truly not my own. Right now I am so ensconced in motherhood, the other parts of me are on standby.

What I dream of is 2 hours of daylight. 2 hours for myself with no one crying or calling for me. Oh what I could accomplish in two hours. I could practice my photography. I could go running. I could play my guitar. I could bake bread in a blissful moment of domestic zen. Yoga, shopping, reading. I would buy Photoshop and learn to use it. I could plant a garden. I could be a better friend.

But I don't have that. What I cannot do is stop "enjoying them", just because I am overwhelmed. I know it is only a few years away that I will be telling a new mother to enjoy every moment with her little children. I just hope I tell her that with the knowledge that I enjoyed my children as much as I could before their childhood slipped through my fingers and they were grown.


The Pyper Fam said...
I couldn't have said that better about my own thoughts and feelings! Thanks for sharing, it's nice to know I'm not alone in feeling this way! You still seem to be so creative and make things so beautiful around you! I'm always impressed!!!
Joy said...
Straight from my brain. I have been thinking about this since my third baby was born. It feels like she was born just a few days ago but it has been almost 6 months. The more children I have the faster time goes! I want to cry, want to hold on to them. But my children decide it's time to grow up and learn new things and grow, grow, grow. I think I'll take your advice to sit on the floor and color and play all day. I don't do that enough. There's always dishes and vacuuming and laundry to do. Tomorrow will be different.
Joy said...
I linked this at my blog!
{amy k.} said...
first of all, I really love your new blog design. maybe you've had it for a while now, but i really love it! second- i do not have children of my own yet but i still appreciate this post for so many reasons. i love that you are so real and honest.... i feel so many times people portray who they want to be on their blogs. you admit that you can't take 24 hours a day 7 days a week of children, no matter how adorable they are- they still have their fits and you still have your weaknesses. i really appreciate that, it's refreshing. and it's evident how much you love being a mother and wife and that too is refreshing. thank you for sharing and for being so real!
Anonymous said...
Natalie, I've followed your blog for some time now and this is the first time I've responded! BTW, I really enjoy your blog. I too have two little ones who are a little older than yours, but I can tell you that everything you've articulated is exactly how I have felt for so long. You are most definitely not alone!! And like you, I've always held that piece of advice in the back of my head -- that they grow up so fast -- because they really do! Just know that every little ounce of time and energy that you give to them today is worth it in the long run. You are an amazing mom and thanks for sharing what so many of us feel. AJ
Kelly and Gunner said...
I know how it feels to have no help and no family around. It can make you feel sooo lonely at times. My lil man is 6 months old now and my husband and I never go on dates because we have literally no one to watch him. Hopefully life will start to look up...
Nama said...
This was beautiful, Natalie. Thank you so much for sharing.
Molly and Wayne said...
I love you
House Queen said...
Well said Natalie! I work so I cannot fully understand what it is like to be a stay at home mom except for I do get to experience that in the summer months and I cherish every moment. However, I do understand your need to escape for awhile. If we lived just a little closer, I gladly would help you out. HAng in there! You are doing a great job!!!!
Cristin said...
What a beautiful blog and post! I am so happy to dropped by too. I have a fun surprise for you. So, pls contact me when you can. xo, cristin
sara said...
Oh Natalie, you got me again with this one. Every single thing you said has been on my heart these last few months. We too, are without family in town and I constantly have to fight back the jealousy I feel towards friends of ours that have their parents right down the street. I think what you said about your husband having independence struck the biggest chord. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to explain to my hubs that he has this amazing thing called autonomy even while he is working hard all day at a job outisde of the house. When he has to pee he never has to stop and see if our girl is occupied enough that he can steel away for a minute. (And he never has to go #2 in front of an audience.) If he needs to run an errand in the middle of the day, he just does it--no diaper bag, no stroller, no juice cup and snacks and baby in tow. These days, even a solo trip to the grocery store sounds like a little slice of heaven to me. I don't know you personally of course, but from what you share, it is clear you are a really good mom. Hang on and know you aren't alone. Sending hugs...
Ashleigh said...
Have you heard the song "you're gonna miss this" ? If not, look it up on youtube, i absolutely love it. Helps me keep things in perspective when I'm down in the dumps, especially since the hubby is gone it's hard to find joy in the everyday things. But thanks for this, it was nicely written :)
Carrie said...
I had the same thoughts today (albeit not so well-written in my head) as I watched my daughter play alone on the kitchen floor while I folded laundry and did the dishes for an hour. I SO wanted to be down there with her, but I was drowning in household chores. It broke my heart. She is so good and deserves a mommy who will be interact and play every chance I can-- but those darn piles of laundry, dishes, bills, groceries keep growing. One GREAT piece of advice I was given in college was "You CAN have it all-- just not at the same time." The great body, but no kids. Kids--- but not a clean house. Money-- but not leisure because you are working. Keeping that in mind, on the rough days I see this as a stage to enjoy and the other things-- being toned and fit, long vacations, a clean house-- will come later. It's when I strive to have it all at the same time that I feel most overwhelmed. Beautifully written thoughts, Natalie!
Artsy-Craftsy Merchant said...
Well said! I now am saying..."she is only with me 4 more summers and off to college...what will I do?" Endless circle.
Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...
Yo are a winner! Stop by my blog to see what you have won :)
Shawna said...
Natalie ~ this too shall pass. I remember working from home with my 2 kids there. I hated being distracted with work and always tied down to the house with the 2 kids, but felt as long as they were there with me, it was "quality time". not so much. enjoy this time that you have with them. it's all too true that they grow up too fast. Mine are both in school all day now. At the beginning of the school year the days were soooooo long. Now my baby girl is turning 10 next week. She loves putting on makeup (and she's good at it!) and being on a big stage with all the lights on her -- where did my shy little girl go?? Enjoy the memories that you are making with them NOW, and you can hold on to those forever, as will they. they don't care if mommy is a few pounds overwieight, or if the house isn't spotless clean, or if you haven't applied any makeup in a week. and in time, you will get the chance to find the "you" again, although you may find that you have changed slightly because of your children - they make us better people. ;-)
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