Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Sunday, October 31, 2010

JP's 1st Halloween!

The story of our rocking chair...

This is somewhat of a tangent. A sleep-deprived tangent. To begin we must rewind to 2 and a 1/2 years ago. The day after our wedding. Before we left for our honeymoon, Dan and I went to Lazyboy to order new living room furniture. I think they were having a big sale and we didn't want to miss out I guess- I don't really remember. It must have been Dan's idea or at least it sounds like something that would be his idea. Anyway, another of his idea's was to include in this purchase a recliner that we really didn't need nor did I want. But we got it. And it never really was used.

That is until the past 9 months. It is now in Jackson's nursery and has been used a lot. Used a lot for rocking and cuddling and story time. And in this chair I have had more moments of clarity and inspiration than anywhere else in the world. I think it has something to do with the magic that comes when you're holding your baby in your arms in the quietest, darkest hours of the night. When the world seems to come to a stand still. When nothing else matters. When there is nothing that could possibly match the peace that you feel in your heart. All of this combined sparks something inside that allows me to dream bigger and better than ever before. 

And what has really been hitting me hard the past few days is that I have only a finite number of these moments left with him. Because like it or not my little man will only call for me in his sleep so many times to come and rock him and love on him and cuddle him back to sleep. Like it or not there will come a day when the very idea of me cradling him in my arms will embarrass him deeply. And while that day is far away (thank you, God!) it will be here far sooner than I like to admit and the brutal truth is that these nights in themselves are already getting fewer and farther between.

Yes, I am actually sad that my handsome little man does not wake very often at night anymore. This must sound like utter lunacy to any one who has a newborn, but trust me, the day will come when you will cherish those moments when it's just you and your baby and the rocking chair and your dreams and those chubby little fingers locked around yours. And when that day comes you will do as I have been doing... you will hold him a little closer, hug him a little tighter and rock him a little longer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dinner with Jackson: Week 36

welcome to your weekly dinner date with my handsome little man.
tonight you are having applesauce and gluten-free banana bread.
highlights of tonight's meal includes showing off your new "give me a high five" trick, showing us how much it really ticks you off when we try to hold your hand to pray (he gets mad every single night at this) and watching your mother who should never be shown on film for so many reasons.

PS: As you will see from my less-than-stellar appearance, I did run AND survive the 5K race today! To most my time would appear to be ridiculously slow, but overall I am quite happy with it considering I haven't ran in so long. Now I have a base to go from- and lets be honest it can only improve from here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

True Stories

True Story, I am running a 5K with my 400 of my coworkers tomorrow, but haven't ran more than a mile since I became pregnant with Jackson. That was 1.5 years ago if you're counting.

True Story, I had fried ice cream for the first time in my life tonight. It was delish. 

True Story, I also had a white peppermint mocha from Starbucks today. It was like heaven in my mouth. Clearly I am having a very unhealthy day. Which is probably why I feel so gross. The mocha was totally worth it.

True Story, Dan and I started a system where we each get "allowances" every week. I think I would be perfectly happy spending my entire allowance on Starbucks. (I'll write more on this "allowance" system later this week. It also involves the true story that our family budget excel sheet now is up to 8 workbooks and I love each and every one of them dearly.)

True Story, JP started wearing his winter PJ's this week. You know, the ones with the little footies. Babies in footy PJs are probably one of the cutest things ever. 

True Story, Dan showed me this website -here- this guy bought a McDonald's burger in 1996 and takes a photo of the same burger every 6 months. It still looks the same. It is still in tact. People feed their kids McDonalds every day. Tell me what is wrong with this picture!

True Story, last night I walked into the living room and clearly Dan has somewhat lost his mind. He had the TV on. Since we turned off all cable the TV just picks up a few very random stations. He must have been desperate. This is what he was watching: (PS: sorry for the shaky camera but I was literally on the ground shaking I was laughing so hard).  (PSS: Also note that he had his popcorn and everything in hand, like he was watching some fabulous movie or something!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Halloween Week!

JP just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween Week.

He also wanted to say 'thank you' for all of the 'get well' wishes. 
He is finally 100% back to himself!

His best scary monster face.

"No more pictures, Mom"
Being a little dramatic. 
I have no idea where he gets that from.

Have a spook-tacular week!
Love, Jackson

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lumberjack for Hire

Attention: Lumberjack for hire

Comes with very little experience

But makes up for it in good looks

Will work for pureed fruit of any kind

Who are we kidding. This face is too spoiled to work.

Breakfast with Jackson- week 35

We are in complete hibernation mode this morning.
Attempting to keep our germs to ourselves.
Trying to catch up on rest, hoping that it helps our bodies recover.
One of us finally surrendered to nap time.
One of us is sipping coffee and mentally going through an endless to do list of catch-up work.
One of us is still working on their truck.
I think we are all hoping that I soon find my sanity that has appeared to go MIA over this past week of chaos.

Since our video camera wasn't working earlier this week, we didn't tape JP eating dinner, but here he is eating a breakfast snack this morning. This morning you are having yogurt bites and you certainly are getting awfully good at picking them up!

(and by "our camera wasn't working" what I really mean is that I accidentally hit a button and then couldn't figure out what I did to un-do it...)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh, you got me, you got me. my 13 year old self.

One of my most favorite blogs, Enjoying the Small Things, completely inspired me today. That comes as no great surprise. It is one of my favorite blogs to follow- Kelle Hampton is a fellow mom who holds a very similar outlook on life as me. Today she was writing about words she would tell her 13-year old self if given the chance. Words of wisdom, if you will, in honor of Dove's self-esteem weekend. After reading Kelle's version I was inspired to think through what I would have liked to tell myself at 13.

After thinking about it for awhile I realized that what I needed to hear at 13 is the same as what I need to be reminded of today, every day, at 26. 

I think it's also worth noting that while this weekend's self-esteem campaign is directed towards women and girls, I don't see those lines separating how we are to build self esteem in our sons versus our daughters. I would (and will and do) instill these same 4 pieces of advice to Jackson. I think the differences lie in how we communicate and share the advice. It may very well vary between boys and girls, but I would argue that it varies more child by child, independent of gender.

There are a lot of things, really, that I could include in this list, but I have boiled it down to the Big 4: 

First, be confident in who you are. I have always had this continuous fear of being wrong- of speaking up and someone correcting me and in turn I look stupid. I have always questioned my ideas, points of view, opinions... and in turn a lot of times (especially at 13) ended up keeping quiet, when really they were actually probably some pretty good ideas. I've gotten better at this over the years, especially in my personal life (and especially by exercising this confidence through my writing), but there are still way too many days at work when I don't speak up enough for the fear of failure holds me back. For my first 2 years at P&G my biggest "opportunity" area according to my management was always that I needed to be more assertive. Assertiveness stems from confidence and "be more confident" is generic advice, really, because clearly those of us lacking it would love to have more of it, but it doesn't just come along like that. Most of us, especially those of us who are perfectionists, feel we need to earn it and most of the time we just don't feel like we deserve it. But, I do deserve to be confident in me. Just like I deserved it at 13 and just like I'll deserve it at 95. I am realizing that you can feel secure in having complete confidence as long as you are being your authentic self. Because nobody can tell you you're wrong when you're just being you. I hope I can help all of my children realize this much earlier than 13 and surely much earlier than 26. 

Second, dream big. This one I'm pretty good at. Dan and I both are. We dream big a lot. No dream is too big. I think most 13 year old also do this very well... but the trick is to not stop- ever. Never, ever stop dreaming and certainly never stop believing in your dreams. 

Third, work hard. Whatsoever you do, do with all of your heart. So, whether you're taking out the garbage or giving an important speech, practicing basketball or doing homework... give it your best effort. Work hard every day. Never give up. Never get lazy. Never lay a burden on someone else due to lack of effort on your part. And hopefully, more often than not, you will be working hard at making all of those dreams that you have been dreaming come true. 

Lastly, and most importantly, hold true to your values. You must always, always hold true to your values. Your values are those guiding principles that never change. They are your moral compass- those things that you know in your heart are right. That way of living that is 100% in line with the way Jesus lived. Never stray from those. Each stage of life will test different values- but it is up to you and you alone to always stand strong and never give in to the pressure you will face. 

10 Random Updates

1. JP seems to be getting somewhat better. We found out at the DR that he has a virus that has given him a high fever and blisters in his throat. In other words, he has been in a lot of pain. Poor thing. He went to Nanna's today so I could catch up on some work and his fever seems to be gone- praying that is stays away. If it doesn't he has to go back to the DR tomorrow. 

2. Despite the sickness he has had pockets of a lot of energy and has developed a couple of new tricks. He likes to now sit on the hardwood floors and push himself backwards around the room. This entertained him for at least 15 minutes yesterday. Probably the only 15 minutes I wasn't holding him. He is also crawling in spurts- he still realizes that army-crawling is so much faster for him at this point, so he will crawl on all fours for a few steps and then says forget that I'm doing this my way! And for some reason the only way I could get him to laugh yesterday was by throwing a baseball into the air and saying "ball" when I caught it... he was laughing so hard that he was literally laying on the ground with his face in the rug cracking up. Hilarious. 

3. I am WAY behind in work. It is overwhelming actually. And is going to put somewhat of a damper on this weekend... 

4. Sammy had a vet appointment early this morning for his annual shots. For some reason it is actually harder to watch him get shots than it is to watch JP get them. I have no idea why. This doesn't make sense to me either. 

5. I started a new book this week- "Make the Right Choice" by Joel Zeff. So far, so good. And by "so far" I mean the 3 pages I have had a chance to read. 

6. JP and I went to the library earlier this week. I am so anxious for him to be to the stage where we get to go to reading time there, so I thought we would try on our own. We sat in the children's section and I read him books. It was more like I was reading to myself because he found it far more entertaining to climb on the bookshelves. So, we picked up books in Spanish to read at home along with a couple of CDs to listen to in the car. 

7. The weather continues to be absolutely perfect. Fall at its finest. 

8. LOVE this bible verse that I came across this week: "Am I now trying to win the approval of men.. or of God?" Galatians 1:10 - I've been trying to keep that in mind each day this week. 

9. I signed up for a 5K run at work a few months ago thinking that at this point I would be running longer distances again. Yeah right. JP and I rock the walks, but I doubt we have ran more than a mile at once. The 5K at work is this coming Thursday. Needless to say I am not prepared! Lets hope I don't come in last place in front of all my colleagues :) 

10. 64 days until Christmas. YES- the countdown is ON!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hands Tied

Let me paint a picture for you of yesterday & today:

1. Blackberry dead. It died last week. Replacement on the way.
2. Cell phone broken. Dropped on floor of grocery store. Sprint is making it ridiculously difficult to fix.
3. House phone off. We decided to get rid of our land line when we turned off the cable. Who needs one with cell phones?
4. Internet not working. When the telephone company turned off the cable and the land line they messed up and also turned off the internet. 
5. JP has a fever. Not eating well. Only wants his mama. 

This begs a few questions...
1. How does one call the telephone company to tell them that they messed up and turned off the internet when one does not have a telephone? 
2. How does one email or call their work team to tell them that they need to stay home with a sick baby with no phone or internet access?
3. How does one keep up with work needs with a sick baby to tend to?

I think someone was telling me to just disconnect today and focus on getting Jackson well by taking away all of my technology that I lean way too heavily on. My hands were literally tied today. Luckily, the internet came back on tonight after Jackson was tucked into bed so I am catching up on some work emails. But, you know, minus the sick baby, it was kind of nice not being online today. Totally unreachable. Perhaps I should make that the case more often. Of course, the control freak in me would require that it be scheduled way in advance and completely on my terms... but still, it might be a good refresh. 

Here's hoping that my little man skips the 1:30-5am party he held last night and gets some much needed sleep, waking up a happy and well baby!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nobody ever promised EASY

Nobody ever promised that being a mom with a career would be easy. Nobody promised being a mom would be easy for that matter. And I am okay with that because being blessed with children is the biggest blessing one can be given. Truly believing that is what has allowed me to never buy into the fact that being a mom is a job.  Exhausting, challenging, nerve-wracking? Yes. A job? No.

But as a mom with a job- a full-time job that actually ends up being more than “full-time”- is hard sometimes and has been especially so this week (did I mention it’s only Tuesday?). It has been hard because Jackson has caught on to the fact that when I wake him early in the morning, before the sun rises, that I am doing so because I am going to be leaving him all day. This results in a little boy who does not want his mama to put him down- at all. It is simply not possible to do all of the things I need to do to prepare for the day with a baby in my arms, which results in tears shed (mostly from him but sometimes from us both). Those tears just about put me over the edge.

I can handle staying up later than everyone else in order to pack diaper bags, prepare baby food, wash and sterilize bottles, pump breastmilk, wash dishes, do laundry, pick up toys…

I can handle nights where I average just a few hours of sleep and then working a full day…

I can handle dragging my computer and work supplies down to the lactation room multiple times throughout the day to pump…

I can handle it all. But, those tears are really hard for me to handle. That little lip pucker face that he has is really hard for me to handle. Prying his chubby little fingers off of me when I drop him off is too hard to handle.

So, then I spend my hour-long commute talking it out with God. Asking Him to help me. Telling Him about how it hurts my heart not knowing what to do. Asking Him to help me understand if I’m doing the right thing. And in doing so I turn over my burdens to Him and wait for guidance and remind myself of why I have a career. Why it’s important to me as a woman, as a wife, as a mother.

Because it is important. Because there is a higher purpose behind it, but it’s not  easy. No. Nobody promised easy. Because if it was easy then everyone would be doing it. So, I’ll take the hard with the faith and hope that it won’t always be this way.  So, thank you, God, in advance for showing me the way. And thank you God for giving me the most precious baby boy to go home to tonight. I love you, Jackson Philip!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poppy's Birthday Dinner

Poppy (my dad) turned the big 53 this week, so we celebrated with dinner this evening at Poppy & Nanna's house- JP's favorite place away from home. This was Jackson's favorite kind of party- you know, the kind where he is the center of attention. Where people fight to hold him. Where he gets his way always. And most of all where Poppy will carry him around outside to enjoy the sunset and visit with the Lynard and Skynard (the cows). 
Uncle Juey, Poppy, Dan, Lucy the dog hanging out outside... I can only imagine what they are discussing.

Grandma Roy and Jackson hanging out

Grandma Nanny


JP and Nanna

JP and Grandpa Roy. They get along great because they act the same age :)

Once we got home I was sure my little man would pass out. He had been up for over 7 hours- an all time record for him, but no, he was not finished playing yet. 

Quickly he began to use his toys as a crutch when he just couldn't muster the energy to stand on his own, but he still didn't complain. My sweet boy is a fighter, but I ushered him to bed anyway. I think he was secretly thankful.

Happy Birthday, Poppy!

Arc in the Park

Jackson, Nanna and I had a great time at the first annual Arc in the Park this afternoon! This was a walk-a-thon sponsored by The Arc of Dearborn County which is a non-profit organization that helps those with developmental disabilities. The day could not have been any more perfect for the event and JP loved riding along in his stroller. If you would like to learn more about the Arc please visit their website at

From Selfish to Selfless

As Jackson takes a power nap I wanted to share with you the inspiration I was given this morning in church- which was all based around the story of Zacchaeus (found in Luke 19:1-11). Zacchaeus (lets call him Zacch), was an itty bitty man in size and yet his ego and greed made the reputation that followed him bigger than life- and not in a good way. This tax collector had no friends and was really off track thanks to the selfish way he lived his life. But as Jesus teaches us, our past need not define our future and so it was his encounter with Jesus that we read about that turned his life around. Taking him from being selfish to selfless.

Zacch met Jesus one day when Jesus was visiting his town. Zacch had climbed way up in a tree to get a glance at Jesus (like I said, he was short!) and when Jesus came to this tree he called to Zacch by name to come down and told him that He would need to stay in Zacch's home that night. The people were shocked- why would Jesus choose to stay with Zacch, such a sinner, such a corrupt, selfish man? But Jesus forgives all who sin. And He reached out to Zacch in love.

Zacch was not used to such genuine love and forgiveness and responded immediately. He immediately spoke with love that he had never felt before and promised out loud in front of Jesus and his town that he would give half of his wealth to the poor and would return to anyone he had stolen from four times the amount. As Jesus said, "today salvation has come to this house." Today, Zacch decided he wanted to change. He made the decision to change. And he did indeed change, turning his life completely around and moving forward as a selfless, hope, love and faith-filled man. 

As we were reminded this morning, each of us is a work in progress in how we live our life, but the point is to keep working at living our lives as closely to how Jesus lived His. The reality is that we will never be perfect and that's okay. We will make mistakes and get off track- and that's okay too as long as we never give up- as long as we keep bettering ourselves in the eyes of The Lord. 

Here are 3 very simple, very practical action steps we can take this week to focus on taking another step towards being selfless:
1. Avoid the "me first" syndrome
2. Intentionally put others first
3. Ask questions of others with sincere interest (aka talk less, listen more)

In closing, one little quote that really touched me this morning was when a man was giving a testimonial about how Jesus had changed his life and he said "it's not about having a religion- it's about having a relationship with God." This 100% stuck home with me because it was this very transition (from having a religion to having a relationship) that is what completely changed my life (and still is changing my life) in the past year since joining our current church community. I grew up having  a religion. But, now, I have a relationship with God and that is what has made ALL the difference. That is what I pray every day I can give to Jackson. 

I wish you the most beautiful day- Jackson, Nanna and I are off to do a walk that will raise funds for those with developmental disabilities (I'll share more on that tonight) and then we are off to celebrate Poppy's birthday! And yes, you guessed it, while we are walking Dan will of course be working on his truck :). 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The perfect day for...

Today was everything Fall was meant to be. The skies were nothing but blue. The air was crisp. The leaves were a rainbow. The sun was shining. 

And we enjoyed every second of it. Beginning with brunch with some good friends. We enjoyed good food. Good conversation. And good entertainment provided by the puppies and Jackson. 

Thank you, God, for the perfect day and Thank you, Megan, Paul, Jordan, Phil & Dave, for joining us!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Engels: UNplugged

As of today we are officially unplugged. From TV that is. Dan and I have been thinking about doing this for the past several months but he asked that we wait until the end of the Reds season and as we all know that happened when they were swept in the the first round of the playoffs, so today we are officially taking back to the cable company all of their equipment so the cable can be shut off and we have physically taken the TV out of the bedroom and given it away. We are going to keep (for now) the TV in the living room in case we want to watch a movie for a "date night in" but it is my goal to get rid of that as well eventually.

So why are we going unplugged? Well, many reasons, but the biggest boils down to the fact that I don't want Jackson watching television. The studies that have been done make it clear that TV is just not good for children. And really you don't even have to read the research, have you ever watched or tried to talk or interact with a child who is watching TV? They go into complete zombie mode. Mindless zombie mode. I would argue that TV is not good for adults either, but as an adult you can make the choice yourself to watch or not watch. Children on the other hand rely on us, their parents, to set the rules and in our house the rule will be no TV. With that in mind we want to teach Jackson through our example more than anything else which means that if we expect him to not watch TV then we better not be watching TV. I am a HUGE believer in teaching children through example as much as possible. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson summed this up this quite nicely once when he said 
"“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”

 Added onto all of this I honestly just do not want to spend my life and my time sitting on the couch with the TV on. I do not want the memories we have as a family to be of just watching TV together every evening. The list of things I would rather be doing is endless, but even with those feelings the TV somehow still ends up on, even if in the background... that is until it is just not there. It is no longer a choice and I am so happy about that.

Now, to be fair, we still have the internet. So, we still need to be disciplined and not spend too much time online either. But, I need to have it for my career and I also think that when used appropriate it is an endless bank of open knowledge to be soaked up. We will just need to lead by example and teach Jackson when and how it is and is not okay to be online. One step we did take to minimize time online is that we got rid of wireless in our home. So it's no longer an option for each of us to grab a laptop and hang out "together" when really we were both on our computers. We must physically get up and go to the desktop computer. 

We may sound crazy. I'm okay with that. We may sound over-the-top. I'm okay with that too. I'll gladly be an over-the-top-crazy-mom who is off living life and making memories with Jackson any day! 

So, JP, some day when you read this you will understand why you grew up in the house with no TV. But you will grow up in the house with endless love, fun and learning. I love you, little man!

I bleed Gold & Black

As a life-long-loyal Boilermaker I had to share this video. If you too are from Purdue you will understand! Now excuse me while I go break out into "Hail Purdue"...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dinner with Jackson: Week 34

Welcome to your weekly dinner date with Jackson. Tonight you are having bananas and you are having them on the couch on mama's lap. Jackson took an evening nap which is unusual for him and when he woke up it was past his normal dinner time and so I flexed and let him sit on my lap and not in the high chair. We are crazy like that in the Engel house.

JP would also like to give a Happy Birthday shout out to Poppy although we will be officially celebrating on Sunday!!

*Warning: WORST camera-person skills ever. The result of this mama trying to balance baby, food and camera at once. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

JP & Friends

While I was at work today, JP and Nanna had a play date with his friends Kenya, Nora and Ethan. 

 Look at my little man holding Kenya's hand!

And look at the smirk on her face thinking "I've already got him wrapped around my little finger..."

 I so wish I could have been there, but I have been brainstorming some ways to fit in many more play dates with JP and our friends that will hopefully work out just as well. More to come on that as it progresses!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

dan's new ride (that doesn't actually "ride")

Dan bought a new truck that is actually very, very old. In case you didn't catch it, see here for the adventure- or lack of- that it has already provided. 

I have no idea what he sees in this truck. Whatever it is I certainly don't see it. I would say maybe it's a 'guy thing' but I actually think it's a 'Dan thing.' He has been working on this thing every day. I'm not sure what he has been working on exactly because it's still in a million pieces in our driveway, but either way this "truck" has been a big time sucker already. So, tonight he came in to get JP. He put him in the back pack and I thought they were going on their usual hike outside, but when I went out to find them I found that Daddy had put JP to work as his little helper. 

I started to ask them what they were doing, but they both made it clear that I was interrupting guy time. 

Admiring their progress. 

Watching this truck-fixing action bored me, so it was my turn to take JP on a hike to admire the fall leaves. 

The driveway up to Cottage Hill

Our little spot on top of the world- beautiful sunset tonight

Some of the mums JP and I picked up today - I love fall!!

Sammy watching us from inside. We would have brought him out with us but his arch nemesis (the neighbor's cow) was near and that only results in this feisty little guy obnoxiously barking like crazy. But that's a whole other story for another time.

After our little hike we went back to check in on Dan. He was still hard at work.

Quiz: what is wrong with this photo?

If you answered "that truck has no wheels" - then you are correct! And this is why before Dan was allowed to purchase this truck we shook on the agreement that Jackson is not allowed to ride in it until he is 5 years old. And the only reason I said "5 years old" is that there is no chance that this thing will still be running in 5 years. Correction: this thing isn't running today, so that sort of confirms my point. 

The one good thing about this truck. The Purdue sticker that was on the back window. 

And now my two mechanics are in bed- one sleeping, one watching the Reds in the playoffs- and this officially wraps up another weekend. I'm off to get things ready for tomorrow. There are bottles and baby food to be packed. Work bags to organize. Clothes to fold. Puppies to feed. And to do lists to make. Have a good night and an even better week!
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