Wednesday, February 27, 2008


After having tried blogging for a couple of weeks, I have decided to go on a little (or long) hiatus. Be sure to check out new photos of Katy and family at There are some cute new photos there already!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Heading into a new week

The Katy Report: Michael and I took Katy on a shopping spree at Springfield Mall on Saturday afternoon. She has outgrown so many of her clothes and needed some "footy pajamas" for the still-cold weather. Since all of the stores have their spring and summer clothing on display, we found good deals on winter clothing on the sale racks. We hit The Children's Place, Gymboree, Gap Kids, and Macy's, and she came away with lots of new goodies. Unbelievably, she is wearing mainly 9-month clothing. It's roomy, but fits better than any other size.

Last night she got a "manicure" from her Daddy. We have to clip or file her nails just about every day; they grow so fast. Yesterday she scratched one of her nails down the side of my neck and left a burning red mark so Michael took the nail file after her pointy nail corners. I heard him up in the nursery saying, "So Sue told Ruth that she wants to go out with Bob..."--his version of nail salon gossip!

Right now Katy is hanging out in her play gym, partly watching her reflection in the hanging mirror, and partly watching me on the computer. We don't have any big plans for a few days, but it won't be long until we all head up to Connecticut to visit Michael's cousin and her family. Now that we have done the church retreat, we feel better prepared for hitting the road with Katy for a two-night trip away from home!

Mom-Tip Monday: I realized that my previous two "Mom Tips" came from Better Homes and Gardens, and not from Parents magazine, as I think I had written. This comes from BHG, too: A mom from Virginia suggests that you take all of those "not-so-great photos" of your child and turn them into gift tags. The photos may not be good enough for the photo album, but you can attach them to birthday gifts and they make great tags. When your child is a toddler and going to friends' parties, this kind of gift tag makes it easy for the recipient to remember who gave him/her the gift! I like the idea for family gifts at Christmas too!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow Day!

Today's entries for Photo Friday:
Here is the view from our front door this morning.

Here is the view from our back door.

And here is Katy, warm inside:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Mommy Mental Meltdown

Today was one of THOSE days. I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately because Katy is back to her nighttime schedule of waking up every three or four hours. I don’t function particularly well on not enough sleep. Katy got a bath this morning, and the baby tub both leaked and spilled as I attempted to rinse it out before she cried too hard in the next room. It took three hours of wrestling over two attempted feedings to get her to choke down about five ounces of formula. I finally got her snapped into her outfit for the day, and she proceeded to spit up all over it and all over my outfit, as well (and getting myself dressed is no small feat these days either!). She got her sheet-saver dirty, too, and as I was changing it, with her lying at the other end of the crib, she spit up AGAIN and got the sheet dirty, as well. Needless to say, I was pretty much frustrated beyond belief at that point. Happily, we both got an afternoon nap, and woke up in much better spirits to face the end of the day together.

Thoughtful Thursday: Today I thought I would explain the name of my blog. James 4:8 of the Bible say, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Drawing near to God is a daily focus for me, through prayer (and sometimes just cries for help, like today!), Bible study, talking with others about our beliefs and understandings of God’s will. I fall short in so many ways with my goals, but God seems to recognize and bless my efforts. Even if this blog never becomes exactly a record of my efforts to draw near to God, it occurred to me as I was getting it underway that blogs are great methods of drawing near to others. A blog gives us a peek into the mind and life of the blogger, and the blogger shares things about him/herself that might not have been made public if not for the blog. So, “Drawing Near” struck me as an appropriate name for a blog meant to open up my life to those who choose to share it with me!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Meeting of the Moms

Katy and I went to a get-together of new moms and their kids up at church this morning. We meet once a month, and this was the group’s second meeting. Last month, Katy had her cold, so we had to miss it. Today, there were four moms and five kids, ranging in age from 3 months (Katy) to just short of 4 years. We talked about getting kids to sleep at night when they keep finding excuses not to go, fighting kids’ constipation, and facing a child who says “no” when you ask her to do something (or in this child’s case, instead of saying “no” she declares, “never, ever, ever!”). I am looking forward to Katy being able to play and interact with the other children when we do these things. The other little ones come up and look at her and reach out, wanting to touch her, so there is some interaction already. It’s useful to me to talk with moms of children a little bit older than Katy because I get some idea of what I can expect in the future, and it also helps me to appreciate where she is right now.

Wellness Wednesday: When you want to start any kind of new diet or exercise, it’s a good idea to find a “buddy” to give you support, make the process do-able, and keep you honest. It’s best to find someone with similar goals, and set aside times to exercise together or swap healthy snack and meal ideas. People who work together toward their goals seem to have a greater rate of success! Kristen, I’ll be calling you about starting up “Mommy and Baby Yoga” soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Teething Time!

The Katy Report: We are pretty sure that Katy is showing all of the signs of upcoming teething: fussing, difficulty feeding, chewing on bottle nipple, low-grade fever, drooling, hands up to cheeks and ears. I can’t believe that she might have a little tooth soon. She has already grown up even though she’s only three months old! Michael was lamenting that she seems to have already grown out of the phase where she likes to quietly cuddle in the crook of his arm while lying on the sofa; she’s wiggly and busy looking around the room! Today Katy and I went out to King of Prussia Mall to meet up with Julie and Ryan. What a nice change of scenery! But I’m afraid that going out in the afternoon sets her off for the rest of the evening. Or maybe it’s just teething pain. We never really know.

Tasty Tuesday: Dad asked for this recipe when he came to visit in December, so here is the test of whether he is reading my blog or not! Here’s the recipe:

Peruvian Baked Chicken
1 pkg. chicken breasts
½ tsp. minced garlic
2 T. white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 T. paprika
3 T. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each chicken breast into at least three pieces and put into a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, combine minced garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, and oil. Mix thoroughly and pour over the chicken breasts. Bake for one hour.

This is a great recipe for company because I almost always have all of its ingredients on hand at any given time, and once you put it in the oven, there is no kitchen labor that keeps you from chatting with company!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Presidents' Day

Here’s what I found out about Presidents’ Day (and probably should have already known!): Presidents’ Day started out as George Washington’s Birthday, celebrated on his actual birthday, February 22. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (who knew?!) led to the move to celebrate it the third Monday of February each year. (The Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved Memorial day, Washington’s Birthday, and Veterans Day from fixed dates to designated Mondays, and created Columbus Day as a new Monday holiday.) Because Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, the theme of the day expanded to include him, too. Since 1862, the Senate has traditionally read aloud Washington’s Farewell Address on this day. If you feel so moved, you can read his address at this site:

The Katy Report: I would call our weekend All-Church Retreat a success. Michael and I managed to participate in most of the activities—singing, sessions with the speaker, meals, a family game on Saturday evening. We switched off who had to run off to take care of Katy so the other could stay back for the activity. And often we both got to participate together, which was nice. During whole group activities, we spread her quilt out in an open space and sat down on the floor with her.

Katy had a “nuclear meltdown” on Sunday morning, then fell asleep, so we headed out early so she would be sleeping on the two-hour ride home. She slept the rest of the afternoon to “recover” from all of the stimulation of the weekend. Consider the difference between her usual quiet day at home with Mommy to a day-and-a-half of bright lights, people speaking into microphones, a room full of singing, little kids and adults coming over to see her and talk to her. No wonder she was exhausted!

Everyone was so sweet and welcoming to her. When Michael and I both got called up at the same time for “The Price is Right” game, there were at least three people who jumped up to watch her in our absence. Even though we were a little self-conscious about some of her crying, several people commented that she was a quiet, good-natured baby. The folks in room next to ours didn’t hear her cry at all during the night, for which I was grateful.

This was our second year to attend the retreat, and I’m looking forward to making it an annual family event. It’s a really special time for the children who come year after year, and it’s a safe environment for parents to let their kids run around a little wild with other kids and just enjoy themselves, while parents don’t have to be quite as hyper-vigilant as usual—everyone watches out for everyone else.

Mom-Tip Monday: Since Katy lives so far away from so many of her relatives, I always knew that I would make photo albums of her relatives and hang pictures low on the fridge for her to see and familiarize herself with their faces. But I read a suggestion in a parents’ magazine that took this idea one step further: The Texas mom made a book that contained not only photos, but a simple narrative with each one. Her child’s name is Taft, so one page said, “Will Taft be sweet and loving like Aunt Abby?” and another said, “Grandpa Weber fixes people’s teeth and loves to watch football with Taft sitting next to him on the couch.” I love the idea of incorporating words and memories with the photos! I will be creating something like this for Katy throughout the years.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Photo Friday

Michael and I had a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner at the Gables restaurant in Chadds Ford last night. This was our fourth time to eat there, and we have never been disappointed. After the meal, we splurged on the outrageously expensive Valentine’s Day dessert for two—chocolate covered strawberries, sorbet, ice cream, cookies—the works. It’s easy to go “all out” when you don’t get the chance to do it very often!

Katy shared her healthy lungs with Marmar, but Marmar discovered what Mommy realized a week or so ago—at three months old, Katy is already mesmerized by the TV! While we might feel guilty about using it as a pacifier, when she gets screaming and nothing else seems to soothe her, the television looks that much more appealing. I don’t know what Marmar watched with her (she watches higher-quality programs than I do, I believe!), but I have seen that Katy likes watching Rachael Ray quite a lot in the mornings. When Rachael had Sam Waterston on as a guest recently, he made Katy giggle!

I bought Katy six pink roses (she is Kathryn Rose, after all), so here is a photo of her, ready to head off to Marmar’s house, with me displaying her roses:

Here is Michael and Marmar as we prepare to head home at the end of the evening:

Our family has a big weekend ahead: We are attending our church’s annual retreat, about two hours away from where we live. We went last year (before Katy) and had a great time; it was very helpful in getting us acquainted with the folks at our church. With Katy so fussy a lot of the time, we are just going to “play it by ear,” as we say; if she isn’t doing well, we’ll just head home early. But it’s good practice, both for us to get used to packing everything we need for her, and for her to get used to being on vacation once in awhile. Wish us luck!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Well, I am finding the blog a little tempermental this morning, so ignore the half-written post below. I can't figure out how to erase it! What I was trying to say was...

Here are some of my favorite thoughts on love, in honor of Valentine's Day and Thoughtful Thursday:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us…We love because he first loved us.
-I John 4:7, 12, 19
Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other
but in looking outward in the same direction.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
-Lao Tzu

Michael and I are going out to dinner tonight for the first time without Katy; she is going to stay with her Marmar. We will be going to the same restaurant we went to last year, which happens to be across the street from my mother-in-law's development. So if Katy gets too fussy (as she has been the last three evenings) it won't be too much trouble for us to run back over. But hopefully that won't be necessary, and we'll get a whole, romantic meal together.

The Katy Report: Katy has been learning about hugging over the past week or so. When we hold her upright in our arms, she stretches her arms out around us, which is about the sweetest thing ever! And her favorite toy is a little stuffed dog that barks when I squeeze a little box in his tummy. Her face lights up when she sees him every morning and I have him bark "hello" to her. At first she would just look at him, but now she reaches her arms around him in a hug, and manages to hold onto a paw or ear for awhile before her excitement causes her to fling him to the floor!

Again, ignore the half-post below and bear with me as I continue to figure out this "blogging thing."

Happy Valentine's Day

Wow! I just wrote an entire post and had it erased because my laptop lost its Internet connection.

In honor of Valentine's Day and Thoughtful Thursday (my alliterative element for the day), I want to share some of my favorite thoughts on love:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us…We love because he first loved us.
-I John 4:7, 12, 19

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The title is the hardest part

I'm not sure that I can come up with a title for every blog post! It's fun to have people stopping by and checking out my blog. At first, the setting I had it on prevented people from posting comments unless they signed in with a Google ID and password (annoying!), but I think I "fixed" it so anyone can comment.

The Katy Report: Though Katy is only three months old, she is wearing clothing that is for 6 and 9 month babies. The fact that some of her clothing says "3 to 6 months", some says "6 months", some says "6 to 9 months", and some says "9 months" (and some items with those same labels DON'T fit her) shows that the baby-clothing industry suffers from a severe lack of sizing consistency. There is nothing worse than getting her completely dressed and then having to take it all off again because it's too snug to be comfortable. I feel so cruel starting over with a whole new outfit. (Winter clothing takes some effort to get on and off a little squirmy baby!)

Wellness Wednesday: Since I've decided that each weekday should have some alliterative element (check out Mom-Tip Monday and Tasty Tuesday, then come back tomorrow for Thoughtful Thursday), I'll reserve Wednesdays for some tip or information related to health, exercise, diet, etc. Have you noticed that no one exercises to lose weight anymore? The "correct" thing to say is that you are trying to develop "a more healthy lifestyle." Well, I want to lose weight! I've been gravitating toward magazine articles that highlight exercise and diet information because of my status as a post-partum woman. I've read that there are 5 pounds that a woman just never loses of her pregnancy weight. Not only am I currently saddled with those 5 pounds, but I've also managed to pick up another extra 15 or 20 pounds since I was in my early 20s!

Just about every diet and exercise article I read begins with the instruction, "Keep a log of everything you eat." One article claimed that I could lose some weight just by keeping the log, even if I did no additional exercise. I guess that being accountable for every bite keeps you from some of the emptier, more ridiculously fattening snacks. The only problem is: I am completely incapable of keeping the log! As much as like diaries and journals and lists, I cannot bring myself to keep a log of the food I eat. (I also rebelled a little against the "wet/poopy diaper log "and the "time/amount eaten log" in Katy's earliest days! They strike me as a similar issue, whatever it might be.) So I offer a Wednesday Wellness tip that I am completely unable to make use of myself: If you are working on developing "a more healthy lifestyle," keep track of what you eat...if you can!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Photographing Life

Last night I read Nick Kelsh's How to Photograph Your Life, a book I asked for and received for Christmas. It doesn't take long to read in terms of text, but the ideas he gives could keep a person busy for years. I think if everyone tried just the following five things, without worrying about f-stops and shutter speeds and such, they would revolutionize their casual photography significantly:

1. Fill your frame with what you want to see in your picture, either by zooming in or standing closer to your subject. I started doing this instinctively when I started scrapbooking. Since scrapbooking starts with cropping out extraneous background material, I just naturally started zooming in to focus on my subject, leaving out the extraneous material to begin with. I think it has made my photos of Katy much better.

2. Take lots and lots of photos, then go back and delete the ones you don't love. You are bound to snap a few beauties among the less-than-perfect. That's the beauty of digital cameras!

3. Keep your subject off-center in the photo--to the right or left if people, above or below if landscapes. I don't know if I do this or not; it's something I want to start paying attention to and playing around with.

4. Turn off your flashand use natural light. (The light at sunrise and sunset is best; avoid high noon.) I discovered this just playing around when photographing Katy.

5. When photographing a table of people, stand on a chair to look down on all the people and the table, too. (People look better when their chins are raised to the camera, too. I discovered this when pregnancy gave me a bit of a second chin, and I don't think I've quite shaken it yet. Best not to call attention to it in photos, when possible!)

Like I said, just thinking about these five simple things will make your photos so much more effective, without thinking about any special equipment or sophisticated techniques.

The Katy Report: Though Katy's crying continued last night and this morning, I am discovering at this very moment that the Lion King soundtrack and laying down next to me while I type away at the computer seems to keep Katy happily occupied! Like everything else, it's working for the moment, and may or may not ever work again. She is so aware of what is going on around her. If I set down her bottle to burp her, she looks over longingly to where I have set the bottle. She knows where her food comes from, and she doesn't intend to lose sight of it! I've never seen a kid who likes to have her mouth wiped like Katy; I think she thinks it's a game. She always smiles and grabs at the cloth when I go to clean up her face. She must know that I am writing about her right now; she is smiling and acting like a little angel!

Tasty Tuesday: Every weekday I am going to include an alliterative element to my post. (Check out Mom-Tip Monday yesterday, and come back for Wellness Wednesday tomorrow.) Because I've been asked for recipes at least three times in the past few months, I am going to include a recipe on Tasty Tuesdays! This one is for Mom; I never got it out in the mail to you.

Italian White Beans with Turkey (or Chicken)
(serves 4)
1 T. olive or vegetable oil
1 T. chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 finely chopped garlic clove
2 cups cut up cooked turkey or chicken
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/4 cup sliced ripe olive
2 cans (15 or 16 oz.) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook basil and garlic in oil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook/stir until hot.

Couldn't be easier! And it tastes really good.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Measuring life

In T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," the narrator says, "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." In addition to coffee spoons, I also measure out my life in bottles washed, dishwasher loads emptied, and laundry loads completed--three chores that are in endless rotation! (Guess what I've been doing today!)

The Katy Report: After another challenging evening last night, Katy is a delight today. Mainly sleeping actually. I think that her internal naptime needs have been disrupted, and being overtired has brought on more crying than usual. The baby books all had me believing that the crying eases up at three months. Katy obviously did not get the memo! But when she isn't crying, she is often smiling and even giggling, so the angst caused by her tears is easily forgotten (and then, of course, quickly remembered again!). She is experiencing the coldest day of her entire life today; it was only 11 degrees when we got up this morning, and still is not much above 20 degrees. For some reason, our heat is not keeping the house particularly warm, so I have a space heater out and am keeping blankets on Katy as she sleeps and even as she plays, when I can. She's got some good insulation, though! At church yesterday, one of the new member families introduced us to their child, who is smaller than Katy but about five months older!

Mom-Tip Monday: Just for fun, I am going to include some alliterative element each weekday. Mondays will be Mom-Tip Monday, where I include some interesting or helpful tip that I have read, often from a parenting magazine. (Come back tomorrow for Tasty Tuesday!) The Mom-Tip/idea for today: When grandparents live far away from their grandchildren, they can send recordings of themselves reading stories, singing lullabies, and sharing stories of their own or their children's childhoods. The recording can include messages of love and bedtime prayers. When the faraway child finally gets to see her grandparents again, she will immediately recognize their voices! (This idea came from a grandmother in Oklahoma, and I think I read it in "Parents" magazine.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Beginning to Blog

I decided to start a blog because Mom suggested that it would be a good way to keep everyone updated on Katy's milestones. How else to effectively spread the news that she has started to roll over from tummy to back this week, or that she has reached 15 pounds at age 3 months (which keeps her in her 97th percentile for weight!). I told Michael my plans, and he said immediately that Mom would be the only one to read it! Maybe not everyone in the world will be waiting with baited breath to see Katy's next move, but hopefully there will be other family members who also peek in from time to time to see what's new in the Kaskey household.