Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A bit torn

A few weeks ago, I had a stressful day. After the babies had fallen asleep I tackled the Christmas cards. Address book, labels, photos, etc. surrounded me in an organized semi-circle on the couch. In close proximity was a full glass of wine. (Oh yes, it had been one of those days.) The sight made my older sister laugh. She said it reminded her of a part in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - when apparently Bridget wrote and mailed Christmas cards while being, simply put, smashed.

The next day, Audrey brought the book to me and had bookmarked the pages describing the incident. But I have a thing about reading the ending of a book. Despite the temptation, it ruins everything. So I started from the very beginning.

Wow, the writer is beyond talented and funny. I found myself grinning during parts, and feeling sheepish at others, thinking, Yes! That's so true. That's real life. I equated characters in the book to real life friends - which is both good and bad depending on the character. The book grabbed me from the very beginning; this is shocking seeing as I haven't read a book in way too long. Reading actually bores me lately.

But if you're thinking I'm recommending such a book to all the young women out there, please be advised I am not. The morality level of the book was at a 2 (out of 10). The language (while funny 99% of the time) was also not upstanding in any way. The lifestyles of the characters are none to be followed. I really wish that such an amazing, witty, dead-on author could write a book I could brag about and buy for all my friends. I love stories with romance, humor, and smarts. But I could do without the f-bombs and sleeping around. Call me prude? Oh, go right ahead. But I don't believe I am. Prude would be turning my nose up to the "Princess Diaries" because -- heaven forbid!!-- they kiss. I think having boundaries or being able to recognize iffy material is not being prude. It is being prudent - a trait that seems to be flung out the window in this day and age.

Anyways. If you have a good book to recommend, please do so! I'm on a roll after reading the whole Bridget Jones in three days. Remember, I like a good love story, humor, smart writing, and sure, some adventure too. Along the same lines of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.        

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's the holiday season

I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas! (And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I'll happily accept your reply of whatever holiday you recognize. Except Festivus.) It's a cozy afternoon here, and while the babes are a-nap in their beds, I shall write and fill all your heads...with...talk of Halloween Costumes! Why am I talking about Halloween costumes? Well, because I never did end up showing you the one Little Huck and I wore trick-or-treating. (Better late than never, right?) Well, here it is.

Spider Web and Spider: Mommy and Baby Costume
I have to admit, I totally messed up on this gig. As you can see from the picture, I am the spider web. I did this by cutting out a large circle of black felt, and painted on a pretty web with glitter paint. Then, I cut a hole for my head to fit through. My first mistake. The hole is entirely too large, and the web poncho kept slipping off my shoulder.
Tip: make head hole small at first. It can always be enlarged if needed.

Then, I made a spider costume for the baby. I used gray flannel, and traced a newborn sized outfit onto the fabric, cut, and sewed it up. The baby's arms and legs would count as 4 out of 8 "legs." I then cut, sewed, stuffed, and attached 4 extra legs to make a total of 8. It looked great. But I made it while I was still pregnant; therefore, I had no idea how old or how big the child would be at Halloween.

Tip: do not assume. We all know what happens.

Because...when it came time for trick-or-treating, the outfit was much too small. As you can see from the picture, it didn't fit his torso, so I folded it down and had his real arms be the final 2 of the 8 "legs."

However, if done right, this idea could make a perfect adult Halloween costume, as well as a beautiful baby/kids Halloween costume. You just have to do it right!

Alright, I'm off to celebrate Christmas! Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vaccine Concerns

This is something that has been weighing on my mind for years (I can say that now because Little Olive is two). Ever since Little Huck was born, I'm going crazy wondering if I'm making the right call to not vaccinate against a couple diseases.

I can defend my position when it comes to Polio, Chicken Pox, Hep B, Measles, etc. But you never hear non-vaxers talking about why you shouldn't get Hib and Pc. In my old post about vaccines (read here), I said the breastfeeding/no daycare angle really lowers your chances of catching the illnesses. And yes, the ingredients of those vaccines are disgusting. But what if?? Do the cons outweigh the pros? I'm looking for facts. I'm looking for good, sound information that will help me make the best decision regarding these two vaccines. My doctor, who I respect a TON because she respects my position, recommends those two (Hib and Pc).  Meningitis is very serious, and by the time you know it's meningitis, isn't it almost too late?

This is what I'm reading, and it really scares me.

I'm asking if anyone has resources, sound and valid information regarding the Pc and Hib vaccines, please send them along. I'm not interested in fear-mongering articles from either side.

Merry Christmasy Things

Just sharing two of my favorite Christmas videos I've seen my friends post. Seriously, adorable and amazing!

This one is just incredible. Plus I love that song and the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy...so, it's perfect.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just another December day

Little Huck turned two months yesterday. The little angel is absolutely precious. Sometimes when he smiles, he becomes so excited he'll actually wink. We just love him to pieces. He's really into chewing on his hands and talking at the same time, which results in a gurgly, silly conversation. He is a very docile baby. We wonder if it's because 1) we know what we're doing better this time around or 2) I did hypnobirthing rather than watching "24" the whole pregnancy, lessening the amount of adrenaline he received as opposed to Little Olive, or 3) he's a different baby with a different personality. That sounds about right. :)


Handsome Stallion is doing great. Still keeping busy with some projects around the house, such as handcrafting Christmas gifts or re-caulking the bathroom. Oh the joy of home-owning! We had a coupon and a gift card, so we went to a local Italian restaurant this past weekend. It was delicious...and he even caved to let Huck use the pacifier so we could eat in quiet. :)

Kila is just dandy. She's such a tiny little dog that she's often cold and shivery on these chilly days. She even wanted to cuddle with me last night while I was typing up another blog post. I felt so special.
 
Little Olive. Oooh, our sweet little olive. Always busy, busy, busy. For some absolutely crazy reason, she has taken to calling me "Mommia" or "Momly." I cannot tell you honestly how I feel about this, for when they come out in a whine, it's like nails on a cheese grater. But when she does it just to be silly, I laugh out loud. What I'd like to know is, where did these names come from? It's better than her oh-so-adult phrases, such as, "Um, hey Mom...?"

"Um, hey what? And why are you talking like a teenager??"

This crazy little thing called life. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Talkin bout hard times

I recently listened to Dave Ramsey's audio book, The Total Money Makeover. It was phenomenal. My older siblings are all doing the steps to become debt free, and we're just starting now. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. If you want a taste of Mr. Ramsey, here's my Christmas gift to you: Dumping Debt. A free download! Money is such a necessary thing, and it's really great knowing some tips to handle and grow it safely.

My husband started two new jobs this past week. One is teaching (his dream job), and the other is a management position within his company. We're feeling very blessed right now. Jobs are so difficult to come by, especially those with benefits or decent wages. Even with all the job websites, people are still struggling. But you know, there's always nursing. Goodness knows we need nurses!


But I'm very grateful my husband didn't have to go back to school to get better jobs. It takes a lot of stress away knowing we'll be able to start snowballing that debt and get rid of all the school loans! Stay tuned for such accomplishments.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Santa Revisited

You may have been around for the Great Santa Debate found on my blog here, Our Children Will Never Believe in Santa Claus. Back then I couldn't believe people put up such a fuss about the whole Santa business! People were just being silly. Of course.

Then many comments and conversations happened, and before you knew it, my Handsome Stallion of a Husband and I started to think about it all. Really overthink. Listening to everyone's thoughts made us wonder if we were going about it the right way.

This past week I cleaned up the house and moved some furniture around to make room for our Christmas tree. I have plans to decorate the tree and the house within the coming days. (I wasn't purposely waiting for the "pink Advent Sunday" to do so, but it's kind of turning out that way.) But as I was organizing some Christmas decorations in the boxes downstairs, I came upon the cute, vintage-looking little guy - the Elf on the Shelf!

In light of the whole Santa Debate, my question is...do we bring out Mr. Elf?

I love the story and the idea of Santa Claus, I'm not going to lie. I think it's a great way to motivate children to behave and listen - because Santa's coming to all the good little boys and girls! And his little elves will help tell him who has been good or bad!

Then I come across an article that says children aren't "good" or "bad". Their actions and choices are good or bad. Before you brush this off as fluffy psycho babble, think about it: how would you feel if you made a mistake as a mother (as we often do), and your own mother (the wonderful Grandma) said, "You're a bad mom. You only get nice things if you're a good mom."

I'd be like, "I made a mistake. I know what I did wrong. But that doesn't make me a bad person."

Granted, children aren't logical adults. But in a way, the same goes for kids. We can't go around telling our children they're "bad" if we really want them to learn from what they did wrong. I want Little Olive to learn she can't hit because it's wrong. I want the focus being on what she did wrong, not on the fact that she's a bad girl. She is a person too. No matter how little, toddlerish, and crazy she may be at times. That's not to say there shouldn't be consequences for her bad actions. But misbehaving doesn't make her a bad kid.

Back to Santa Claus. My husband and I are wondering if we should tell Little Olive about him. Or if we should use the Elf to entice her into good behavior. But is this the way to go? I've read countless times that this is not a good way of rearing the youngins. Rewards, punishment, and bribes are quick fixes and don't encourage intrinsic motivation. Ahhh! All these choices we have to make as parents!

The last time this came up, one of my readers left a wonderful comment:

"I read an article once that in my opinion gave a very nice compromise. The parents celebrated Christmas with Santa and co until the kids got old enough to have classmates begin the arguments. Then when the daughter came home asking that question, the mom sat her down and told her the story of St Nicholas and how Santa Claus is the continuation of his good deeds and tradition. She told he girl something like, "Now, we're all Santas keeping up his tradition because we believe that what he did was something worth repeating." I like it because it explains that Santa is no longer alive and so in that way he's not "real." But it also tells the kids that yes he is real, as a historical figure, as a tradition, and that his good deeds still live through us."

I think, personally, this is the best solution we've found. The question still remains, however, if we should use the Elf on the Shelf. Maybe if we said the Elf is helping Mommy and Daddy, that would be better. It would still be integrating the magic and make-believe, but then also not be a lie either.

Thoughts are welcome!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Notes From A Dragon Mom

When Little Huck was a few days old, one of my facebook friends shared this outstanding article, Notes From A Dragon Mom. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so now. If you have already read it, take a few minutes to go through it again. I truly believe it is that important. I mentioned the age of my son because this article moved me beyond words. There I was sitting at my computer, fresh into postpartum, holding this beautiful miracle against my chest, with tears literally falling down my cheeks. Suddenly, life was more precious than ever before. 

The author blew me away by pointing out that all parenting advice is geared toward the future. I never realized that before. You discipline your child so that she will grow into a responsible, well-behaved individual. You feed her the right foods so she will grow to be healthy and strong. You teach her the alphabet so she will learn how to read someday. You gently correct her language errors so she will learn how to talk properly. The list goes on.

But this mother's story broke my heart. In a beautiful way. She showed the importance, if not the necessity, of living in the moment. If there is no distant future, then there is only now. It's not about what will happen years down the road. It's what is happening at this very instant.

That's not to say you should feed your child junk food all day because it makes her happy, or empty your savings on expensive toys. But as parents, we all know the little things we could do to appreciate life and how precious it is. It could mean letting the messy house slide just a little longer and instead sit on the couch to read books together. It could mean letting your child eat turkey for her 9th meal in a row instead of pushing the veggies. It could mean stop washing the dishes and picking up the whining toddler hanging on your legs. Or, it could mean doing something very special as a family. It could be saving up and taking a beautiful vacation together.

I hold Huck and tell him all the time, "You don't have to grow up. You can stay small forever. I'll take care of you." I wish he would listen better than his older sister did. We've all heard it a million times, but time goes by way too quickly. If you're a parent reading this, promise yourself that you will take today to just treasure the moments. Our babies will only be this way for a short while. Maybe forget about "goals" and just appreciate what they can do now. Cherish the cuddles, the kisses, the boogers, the baby talk or toddler babble. Don't worry about the future. Just love them today.

Monday, December 05, 2011

DIY Gifts

As Christmas approaches, here are some do-it-yourself ideas for gifts!

1. For the young child in your life: Close Your Clothes. You could make this book by going to a local thrift store and purchasing some inexpensive clothes. Cut them up, sew them onto a page, and sew each page together. I absolutely love this idea. In fact, if I didn't already have Little Olive's gifts all set, I would be doing this right now. I am going to make it for someone though. Who will be the lucky toddler?

2. For the teen: Since styles and history repeat itself, we have it pretty easy right now. 70s and 80s used to make us cringe, ("Mom, you wore that??") but now the same sweaters hang in the stores for us to purchase at full price. How about instead, give a unique gift of vintage jewelry without breaking the bank. Go to the thrift store, buy a couple pieces of old jewelry, and reassemble them into a new necklace. You'd be amazed at the treasures hidden inside those glass cabinets.               

3. For the sweet tooth: Ice Cream Sundae Box. You could pick any theme, really, to make a Gift Box. But this one in particular is beyond creative. If someone handed this to me on Christmas morning, I would be thrilled. Some other ideas could be a wine box, a movie box, craft supplies, -- you name it. (Apparently I can only name three. It's late, alright?)

Are there any DIY gift ideas you'd like to share?      

Friday, December 02, 2011

Exercises and BLTs

In an attempt to stay in great shape and remain in sound health, I realize that certain, little changes need to be made in my daily life. To prevent veins on my legs, also known as varicose veins, I have to keep the circulation flowing and not cross my legs all the time. In order to not gain excessive pounds this holiday season, or any time of year, I have to make choices throughout my day to eat right.

It's not one, gigantic change. Those rarely work. Instead, it's a way of life. My fitness instructor, Lindsay Brin, says the way to keep yourself on track is to say "no" to BLTs. That's no bites, no licks, and no tastes. All those little sneaks add up and you're never satisfied with just one. Getting a taste makes you want more. So instead of cutting out everything that you love, just say no during the day - until dessert time!

I'm starting week 3 of my 8 week program. Lindsay gets a little nuttier during this session. Jumping around and yelling "yha!" now and then. It made me feel a little embarrassed following her moves on the TV, but you know, only Little Olive was my witness, and I do believe there's a reason you don't remember much from your infant/toddler years.

Also, I'm excited because I decided not to save up for an Ergo baby carrier anymore. It would have taken me about three more months to earn enough SwagBucks to buy it on Amazon (which is the only way I would buy one, since it wouldn't cost me a penny that way). That would mean more time away from my kids, and more time on the computer. Plus, I would miss all these opportunities to hold Little Huck while I'm earning the SwagBucks. So I went with a Moby wrap. It came a few days later, and Huck and I finally got the hang of it. He's currently sleeping against my chest while I have both hands free to type! Plus, I still have Amazon gift cards left over from the purchase. Totally the way to go!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Poem


I heard a beautiful poem this Thanksgiving Day that I wanted to share with everyone. It really made me appreciate some not-so-pleasantries of life after hearing it:

Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.
Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.
Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you're employed.
Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.
Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.
Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.
Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means you can walk.
Be thankful for the lady who sings off-key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.
Be thankful when people complain about the government, because it means we have freedom of speech.
Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means you're alive.
Taken from Ann Landers' 11/22/01 column.

I wanted to wait a few days after the holiday to post about thankfulness. Otherwise, it would have been lost in the crowd. Taking time to be thankful doesn't have to end the moment Black Friday shopping begins. But I'll be honest, sometimes it can be really difficult finding the bright side of life. When you're tired and worn out, and there's so much needing to be done, it's hard to sit there and think, "But I'm so thankful because I had a bed to sleep in and covers to keep me warm all night." Instead you think, "What the crap...blah...life is crap...I need a nap...grr..." But maybe after seeing this poem, you can look at life with a new perspective. Instead of complaining about how much your bills are, be thankful that there are good companies that offer motor vehicle liability insurance at competitive rates. Instead of complaining about the spills the kids are making, be thankful they can hold their glasses of milk all by themselves. Just be thankful for everything!

As your assignment, class, think of something that is annoying and turn it around in a positive way. Leave it in the comments below!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Baby Wearing

If I could go back two years and change one thing about my baby registry, I would take off a lot of the big, expensive, somewhat bulky baby items (the play set, the swing, the bumbo), and instead put a really great baby carrier on there - like the Ergo! True, the Ergo might seem costly at first glance, but its reviews are resoundingly and repeatedly positive! And it's just as much as the other baby items, anyway. I hadn't done much research when it came to babywearing, and I thought they were all the same - that only price was the determining factor. So I chose an economically priced item, an over the shoulder baby carrier.

It wasn't used much, however, as my lifestyle back then revolved around only one little child. But now that Little Olive requires attention whether or not Little Huck is asleep or awake, in my arms or laying down, babywearing has become a necessity for me. Unfortunately, I've been dealing with some pretty sharp back and neck pains whenever I try to wear Baby Huck. I'm learning the hard way that baby carriers are not made equal!

So I'm currently saving up for the Ergo carrier. One of my friends found hers at a garage sale and absolutely loves it. I think I can trust her opinion (and the hundreds of other moms who rave about it) and know I'm making a good purchase. I'm about halfway there! Wish me luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Facebook Etiquette

Say you run into an old friend at Target. You used to play together when you were young, and now 12 years later, it's good to see each other again. She introduces you to her friend, and the three of you smalltalk for a bit. At the end you tell your friend, "Hey, we should keep in touch! Facebook me."

The next day, your old friend has sent you a friend request. Awesome! You accept happily.

Then...your friend's friend sends you one. You accept it...and can't help but notice you're now one of her 1,759 friends.

Which kind of person are you? Do you have facebook to stay in touch with friends and family? Or do you find it necessary to stalk every person you've ever met?

Back in the MySpace days, the number of friends we had was a huge deal. The number of profile views you had was almost bigger. I feel like facebook started a more mature way of social networking. But some people are still stuck on the popularity contest. I couldn't tell you how many friends I have right now. I've tried cutting back and limiting my list to only close friends and family. But when people see you've removed them, they get offended and think you hate them.

Because, after all, facebook is reality!

It has become an alternate reality, in a sense. Even so, there are social rules and etiquette that I believe should still be followed. In general: If you wouldn't do something in person, you probably shouldn't do it on the internet. But more specifically, here are some rules that facebook users should follow:

1. We all use facebook as the easy way to communicate. But find a balance. If you like a girl you work with but never had the nerve to go up and say hi, don't start a chat session with her and claim that you're shy. Lame-o.

2. Try to draw the line about private messages and public wall posts. Everyone does not need to see everything. 

3. Be aware of what you're saying on another person's wall. This is huge. So I'll dedicate the next few rules to this issue.

4. If you're commenting on someone's status, keep it relevant - unless they asked a question or are looking for advice.

5. If you're engaging in a comment thread, be respectful of the person whose wall it's on. Don't take it over unless you and the originator are in agreement. 

6. If a story pops up on your newsfeed of one person writing on another's wall, think before jumping in. Though it's viewable to all their friends, determine the nature of the post before budding in. (And this goes back to #2.) 

7. If you're tempted to continue a discussion with someone (most likely through comments that others can see), ask yourself whether you're writing to communicate with that person or broadcast to the world. There is a difference, and it's glaringly obvious. 

8. Don't put up pictures and caption them, "Ugh, I look gross but I liked my hair" because we all know you think you look hot in your little gym shorts, and you wouldn't have posted the picture in the first place if you thought it was that bad. 

9. Don't put up pictures of yourself with your nose Picnik'd out (although I'll admit, photo editing software is so much fun), your lips puckered, and a peace sign on the side. You are not a duck. 
10. If you don't like someone and don't want to be friends, don't be! There is no point seeing updates and pictures about someone you just don't get along with. It will only aggravate you and make you exude negativity. On the other hand, if you're not in a position to remove (there's one in every family..."two in mine") just make good use of the hide button, or put them on a restricted list. 
Be polite, be kind, but be real. 




    Breastfeeding Trouble and Solutions

    I feel like I haven't written any helpful, informative posts lately. My early blogging days were full of them! (Omg, I am such a helpful person.) My faithful readers return day after day, just to hear me blab away. (Oh look, I'm a poet too.) To them I say, thanks! Y'all are so sweet to leave comments and keep coming back despite my sometimes boring updates. Your inspiration and support means a lot! Okay, now that I've left the Grammy's stage...

    I need to get back on track today and focus on my original theme. I must clear away the non-essentials and simplify, kind of like how the junk removal company does it out in Texas. (You have to say that in an accent like Rick Perry, and then add on "ice cream.") So my topic for today is purely informative, for women, and postpartum related: breastfeeding troubles!

    Any nursing mother out there can probably relate to some discomfort while breastfeeding. Whether it be that initial latch shortly following birth, or aching cramps, aka afterbirth pains, brought on by feedings, breastfeeding can be painful! With Little Olive, breastfeeding was more or less uneventful. Tricky at first, but smooth sailing after that. However, I had a rough time breastfeeding Little Huck for a few days. It began with the usual sensitivity when he was first born. But over the next few days, nursing became excruciatingly painful. It felt like Little Huck was biting me with razor-sharp teeth. He wasn't doing anything wrong, but the pain was just getting worse. I would cry sometimes when he'd latch on. As it turned out, my nipple was cracked and bleeding; I didn't know what to do. Thank God for moms. Here are some tips my Mom passed along that healed me up within days.

    1) Don't wear a bra. Instead, wear a very loose shirt to allow as much air as possible onto your skin. I wore one of my husband's shirts around the house until we had a visitor. Then I'd change into more appropriate clothes - but only as long as was necessary.

    2) When I'd go out and needed a bra, I would make sure to change my nursing pads as often as possible to keep the skin dry. Nursing pads tend to trap moisture close to the skin, which keeps the nipples sensitive and tender.

    3) Soak several wash cloths and keep them in the freezer. When it's time for a feeding, press the cloth onto your skin for a few minutes beforehand to a) help numb the tenderness and b) make the nipple stick out a little better. This will help the baby latch on much easier, so that the nipple doesn't roll inbetween hard gums (seriously, one of the most painful things ever).

    4) After a feeding, cover the nipple with lanolin cream. Lanolin is waxy fat from lamb's wool, and it is known for its healing, protective, and moisturizing properties. I would also use this before a shower to keep the hot water and steam from aggravating the skin. It is safe for a baby to ingest (though mine certainly didn't like the taste - in this case, just gently wipe it away before a feeding), so you don't have to worry about it harming your little one.

    http://happybabies.multiply.com/journal
    5) Drink before/during a feeding. And by drink, yes, I mean alcohol! It will help calm and relax you. And after nine months of fasting, it might make you a little tipsy, easing the pain. Regardless, you deserve a nice beer or glass of wine!

    6) If you have a pump, don't feel bad if you have to use it for a few minutes when your milk "comes in". Sometimes the breasts become engorged, and it's difficult for the baby to latch on. (Sounds like a nice problem, but it's really no fun.) Once some milk has been expressed, the breast will be a little softer. If you can express by hand, go right ahead.

    So these are some tips, but if you know of any others, please share them below! We can all help each other out. Have a nice evening, everyone!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Thanks and Tidying

    Some of my facebook friends are doing a sweet activity this month, where every day they write what they're thankful for in their statuses. When I read them, it has really made me stop and think of all the blessings in my own life. Allow me to do a quick catch up.

    Today, I am thankful for the warm sun on my back as I type away.

    Today, I am thankful for the decent night of sleep, despite both babies being sick. (Six hours ain't shabby, even if it wasn't restful.)

    Today, I am thankful that we always seem to have everything we need.

    Today, I am thankful for the great weekend ahead.

    (Tomorrow is Little Olive's birthday party, combined with Little Huck's baptism party. We're going to celebrate with family, both immediate and some extended. It should be a great time! In preparation for the new gifts, my goal today is to tidy up the play area in our living room and make room for everything. I've cleared away some of the battery-operated toys, but absolutely kept all the wooden toys out. I recently opened up the old box of baby toys from Little Olive's younger days and added them to the collection for Baby Huck. Even though he's still too small to play with anything, they're all his now! I hope he'll enjoy them soon! It was nice to see everything still in one piece. I have to admit, some of Little Olive's older toys have suffered the craziness and sharp teeth of our puppy, especially those beautiful wooden letters. I don't understand it - we don't bite Kila's toys. She should know better. Gosh.)

    And finally, today I am so thankful for my sister's help every single day. Whether she's doing the dishes without being asked, or stepping in just when both kids start crying, or finishing the laundry for me, she's been such a huge help. It is so nice to talk every day when she comes home from work. I love hearing about the stories she's been handling all day, or about the latest development in her life. Sometimes it reminds me of the old days when we used to lay in our bunkbeds at night and talk about everything. (Once we quoted the entire movie Toy Story - all the way to Sid's house.)

    Life is good, and when it's not, it will get better.

    What are you thankful for today?

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Doing it all over again

    I remember the days when my niece would visit while I was pregnant the first time around. That spunky and curious toddler was showing me how dangerous my house had suddenly become! I was constantly rearranging things every time she came over. But it prepped me for the arrival of Little Olive. I thought I was all set. But babyproofing is an ongoing task. As the child grows and changes, so do the needs of the home. You realize the garbage cans can no longer stay uncovered, or the outlet can no longer be exposed. The stairs absolutely have to be blocked off, and the dog food cannot stay on the ground.

    When visiting my parents' home, Little Olive used to collect airsoft pellets in her mouth. (What is airsoft? You'd have to ask my little brother...the same one who always leaves the little yellow pellets lying around. -- I'm looking at you, Tony.) We use to have to dig them out of her little mouth constantly. But that was when she was young and crawling. Now, at two years old and very advanced, she'd much rather collect them in her hands. She does this with stones and marbles too. From dangerous to acceptable.

    Now with Little Huck in the picture, we're going to start all over again with the houseproofing. Our lives will be a constant revolving door. In and out, up and down, open close, over and over. I'm so glad we're going through everything again! How boring it would have been if we never got to experience another, new little life again!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Happy Birthday to our Little Olive

    At 11:37pm tonight, Little Olive will turn two years old. Her birthday so far has been really nice, despite the fact that she's fighting a little cold. Thanks to some nat mur 6x, it doesn't seem to have affected her all too much though. As a birthday present to us, she slept in (for her, that's 7am). As a reward from us, she woke up to a purple table with her three purple gifts ready to be opened.

    My husband hand carved her a gorgeous wooden heart necklace. It's so perfect. Little Olive has been putting it on, taking it off, throwing it, kissing it, losing it, finding it, all day long. I'd take a picture for the blog, but alas, it's in a lost stage right now. When she wakes up, she'll have to show me where she hid it. She must think I'm going to take it...it's pretty nice, I'm not gonna lie.

    I made her a purple dress which she's been wearing as well. I'm still thinking of adding a collar of some sort, so you might be seeing updates over at my sewing blog eventually. :)

    Her third gift was a Melissa and Doug numbers puzzle I found in perfect condition at a consignment shop over the summer. (Don't worry, kid. Someday we'll take you to one of those nice Poconos Family Resorts for a fancy birthday.) But she didn't even know the difference; she was pretty darn excited about it.

    This afternoon, we made a pink cake for dessert tonight. She had fun mixing everything together. I actually have no idea what we'll be having for dinner. Maybe french toast - it is a favorite meal of hers. (And mine, but that has nothing to do with it. Haha.) My husband rearranged his schedule for the evening so we can all spend time together.

    Despite the flurries of snow daring to descend as we speak, it has been a very nice day. I am so thankful.


    *** Update! Here's a picture of the necklace!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    My child is making a liar out of me

    My little pulsatilla princess clung to me as I stood in line at a store this past summer. The cashier and I were chit-chatting about my huge belly, the non-gender of the baby inside, and the pregnancy in general. That's when she nodded toward Little Olive and asked, "How do you think she'll be with a new baby?"

    "Oh gosh," I replied, kissing L.O.'s head. "Probably not good at all."

    The same conversation replicated itself countless times over the course of my pregnancy. My firstborn, while extremely independent, is also a mush. She loves cuddling, being held, having my undivided attention (hence why I blog during naps), and being carried everywhere we go. Heaven forbid I try putting her in the cart at a store. The very thought of shopping with two children worried me. Life was going to be awesome. I was told by someone (who was trying to be very uplifting, obviously), "You don't know what you're in for." 

    I didn't, but the surprise was so sweet. Little Olive embraced her little brother's arrival like a true champ. Whenever she sees him, she exclaims, "Oooh! So tute. Tisses." And will then gently kiss his face. She always wants to hold him a lot and props up a pillow by her arm. She touches his head and gives him "big hugs". She's fascinated with his eyes, his feet, fingers, his belly button, and... other things. She gets so close to his face and imitates our inflections as she talks to him, "Hi han-some! Hi big boy!"

    Of course there are crabby times when she tells me to lay him down so I can hold her. Or that my husband and I should "switch" so that she can be with the desired parent. But overall, I am so impressed with her handling the new arrival.

    The one area where she could use improvement is with our dog. Every day she wrestles with Kila and ends up getting hurt - one way or another. Whether it's a nip caused by snatching one of the dog's toys, or a bump from running away, there comes a fierce yell from her little mouth, "NO, Kila! Go play!" In revenge, she runs to the kitchen and dumps the water bowl into our dog's food. Thanks. Then she'll mess up all the pet supplies in the closet as if Kila will learn her lesson from the Alpha Olive.

    Life is always busy, always an adventure. But for now, Little Olive loves her Little Huck. And for that I am so thankful!

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    We made it one month!

    Little Huck is one month!
    Well, we made it! Little Huck turned one month old yesterday. I know you could probably write the next couple sentences for me...about how fast time flies and how quickly those babies grow up. So I'll spare you the cliches myself.

    Actually, no I shan't. Sorry, I just have to...

    My baby is getting so big already! How did a whole month go by since he was born?? How has it been 30 days??

    :) I am completely serious, by the way. It's so bittersweet!

    It has been a good month. No complaints, though still a little different than what I expected. After Little Olive's birth, I felt great. This time it took a little longer. It was like my body was sticking it to me: You had a great labor? Watch postpartum hit you.

    And it did. I wouldn't go as far as to say I had PPD, but I definitely cried a lot more this time around. I felt more stressed and overwhelmed. When I was with Little Olive and Little Huck, I was fine. No problem bonding or being a mom. But just life was a little more mopey than usual. I also had "afterbirth pains" that I do NOT remember having with L.O. They feel like contractions - and they're bad. They lasted a few days.

    But thankfully, things seem to be under control right now. I had to get into a rhythm for that to happen.

    1. First off, I had to accept that my house was not going to be constantly clean. After a great summer of clearing out and cleaning up, I grew accustomed to a neat home, and I took pride in keeping up on all the housework. My countertops shined and glistened. Not so much anymore. My mom and sister really helped me realize that there are other things that need me more. So now, dishes sit for a little while longer. Laundry piles up a bit more. And Little Olive's toys are not neatly organized in their designated bins. Some things are just more important, and a clean house is not everything!

    2. When Little Olive was born, I held her for almost every single nap. My world revolved around her all day long. I spent my winter cuddling with her and watching all 8 seasons of Gilmore Girls from start to finish. However, I can't hold Little Huck during all his naps. I'd love to, and I do whenever I can. But I learned that his naptimes are really when I can give Little Olive the attention she needs. I secure Huck in our bedroom for a couple hours while he snoozes away, and I focus on her. A part of me is sad that I can't give him my attention 100% of the time, but if he's sleeping, he's happy.

    3. I said "yes!" to everyone who offered to make a dinner. Dinners are a wonderfully delicious comfort at the end of the day, especially when you don't have to make them. :) So thank you: Mom, Dad, Dan, Marie, Kiera, Donna, and Sheri.

    4. My Mom insisted that I take a break from cloth diapering for a good month. She bought me several packs of disposables which really made my life much easier. I'm a huge advocate of cloth - but without the poopy laundry hanging over my head, I was a better-functioning woman. Thanks, Mom!

    5. I started to exercise. Remember my review about Lindsay Brin's dvd's back in April? Well, I'm doing her boot camp dvd now! It's not "boot camp" like crazy, nutso, can't handle it. It's totally enjoyable. She fits in a full workout including warm-up, cardio, weights, core, and cool-down in only a half hour. It's awesome. It has definitely helped my mood too! So if you're feeling a little down after having a baby, definitely do some exercises. From the most unmotivated person in the world, trust me, it will help!

    Well, perfect timing. Little Huck is starting to grunt...that's how he wakes up. Gotta go!

    Wednesday, November 09, 2011

    My trips to Target have changed

    My sister used to be a cashier at Target, and she couldn't believe how often people would come through her line with a $150+ total and say, "I don't know what happened; I just came in for paper towels."

    Beware this Christmas season...
    Let me tell you what happened: you walked into Target. And that store is amazing for making you think you're finding a great deal, or that you need everything you see. I know this from experience. While I've never gone in for only one thing and came out overdrafting my account, I have experienced the draw of thinking I'll use everything I find on clearance. End-caps, full of items with tempting red stickers, are dangerous. And I'm sorry, but salon-grade shampoo for 15% off isn't really worth it. You're still looking at a $16 bottle of hair cleaner. Or what about those Halloween party supplies marked down at 30% off. Even though the holiday's over, you could buy them for next year! (Then they'll sit in a closet for ages until you decide to put them in the 25 cent bin at your next garage sale. Because guess what? You never had and never will have a Halloween party no matter how many purple ghost plates you bought.)

    This past summer I told myself I was going to stop spending money on things we didn't need. This meant I had to stop going to stores (Target, I'm looking at you) altogether. I had to stop treating stores as a way of just "getting out of the house". I'm a huge clearance rack shopper, and I still believe it is the best way to get what you need, but I realized there wasn't much that we really needed after all. I usually check out the 50-75% off racks of clothes, hoping to find a great deal on maternity items. But more often than not, what's left over is usually plus size maternity - not my size. So I stopped going into the women's section.

    My next crutch was the baby section. Just as you can't help doting over a new baby, you can't help picking up or touching every cozy, fleece sleeper you see. Or a sweet little bathing suit with green polka dots. But do they have enough pajamas? Yes. Do they have their own bathing suits? Yes. Then as much as a bright red sign saying, "Only $12.99!" is calling your name, you have to walk away.

    I'm happy to say I now can go in and out of stores purchasing only what I need. There have been many occasions where I've proudly told my husband, "I went into Target today and left without buying anything!" I don't think he believed me at first, but our bank statement backed me up. I love saving money and finding great deals. It's nice that the two can still be separated.

    What's your weakness when it comes to shopping?

    Tuesday, November 08, 2011

    Second Pregnancy Survey

    I did one of these surveys on facebook after Little Olive was born. But nobody really writes "notes" anymore, so I'm moving mine to the blog! Here's a Q and A about Huck's pregnancy! Also, I dislike that the questions are all in caps [YELLING, ANYONE?] but I have neither time or patience to retype them. So, we'll deal with it together. :)

    WAS YOUR PREGNANCY PLANNED? Yes.

    WERE YOU MARRIED AT THE TIME? Yes, for two years.

    WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS? We were so pumped!

    WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU? Never.

    HOW OLD WERE YOU? I was 23.

    HOW DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? I counted down the days till I could take a test, and it was positive. :)

    WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? Ian (of course!) then my sister.

    DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT THE SEX? Yes, I did! But we decided to wait till the birth. (I'm a nice wife like that.)

    DUE DATE? October 3rd

    DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? Yes, for the first trimester, but I never threw up! That was a nice change. I just felt nauseous.

    WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? Coffee, wine, beer. You know, all the things I couldn't really have.

    WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? Going to summer parties and being the only one not drinking. "No, I'm fine. I'm happy with my sprite," I'd say with a smile. Inside...glares.

    DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WERE HAVING BEFORE AN ULTRASOUND? We had two ultrasounds...didn't look for either.

    WHAT WAS THE CHILD'S SEX? Male!

    DID YOU WISH YOU HAD THE OPPOSITE SEX OF WHAT YOU WERE GETTING? No way. I couldn't decide what I wanted more...and I'm very happy with a little boy!

    HOW MANY POUNDS DID YOU GAIN THROUGHOUT THE PREGNANCY? 33

    DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? Not for the second baby.

    WAS IT A SURPRISE OR DID YOU KNOW? I did know we weren't having any surprise showers. :P

    DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? Just the usual aches and pains - nothing crazy.

    WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? At home!

    HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? Labor was 8 hours for me.

    WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL? Irrelevant. :P

    WHO WAS AT THE BIRTH? Ian, Jen our midwife, my mom, my sister, and Little Olive.

    WAS IT NATURAL OR C-SECTION? Wait...does this question mean that "natural" means vaginal? Weird. Anyways, natural.

    DID YOU TAKE MEDICINE TO EASE THE PAIN? No, I just did hypnobirthing.

    HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 9lbs, 2 oz.

    WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY BORN ? 1:10pm

    WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Huckleberry Finn (code name, of course)

    HOW OLD IS YOUR FIRST BORN TODAY? Almost one month! (Oh my gosh...)

    WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU FIRST SAW YOUR BABY? The absolute happiest joy imaginable!

    WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME AROUND? Nothing. I had the most amazing birth experience ever.

    WILL THERE BE A NEXT TIME AROUND? Most definitely - just not sure when.

    WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT PREGNANCY? The heat of summer, tiredness, and keeping up with Little Olive's busy little self. Also -- waiting! Huck was born at 41.5 weeks...so that last month was a killer!                    

    WHAT WAS THE EASIEST THING ABOUT PREGNANCY? Not having as much water retention this time around - so I still got to wear my rings throughout the whole nine months!

    WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT CHILDBIRTH? The contractions near the end. Man, they're a killer.

    WHAT WAS THE EASIEST THING ABOUT CHILDBIRTH? Pushing! Also being at home, feeling safe, and being with people I knew and felt comfortable with.

    DO YOU LIKE BEING A PARENT? I love it. Having two kids is better than I expected! <3

    Sunday, November 06, 2011

    Do parents really do that?

    Have you ever seen the Veggie Tales movie, "Madame Blueberry"? It's a sweet story about being grateful for what you already have and living with a happy heart. While watching it with Little Olive the other day, one part jumped out at me, even though I've seen the movie tons of times in the past. It's when Junior Asparagus and his dad are in Stuff Mart, and Junior sees this super fancy train set that he's wanted for a really long time. He excitedly begs his dad, so politely. But his dad explains it's a lot of money and offers to buy him a ball instead. Disappointed at first, but so understanding, Junior accepts the switch and thanks his dad with a cute song.

    My question is, do parents really buy their children something just because they're in a store? When we're in stores, I avoid going into the toy/candy sections. I know Little Olive would go crazy. But even in the shampoo aisles, when she asks for the purple bottles, I just say no. Yeah, she gets upset for a little while, but I'm not filling my bathroom cupboards with Aussie conditioner just because my toddler wants it.

    My sister used to work at Target and said parents would buy their children things to make them quiet, or to prevent a tantrum. Seriously?

    As a child, we got presents twice a year: on our birthdays and on Christmas. Occasionally we'd get a special treat while shopping with our mom, like a bag of candy to bring home and share, or a pack of 25 cent Wrigley's gum. And these things were so special and exciting. A pack of gum, just for me?? Wow, thanks, Mom!

    I grew up with eight siblings. We lived simply, but our Christmas's and birthdays were always so happy. You could tell my parents made sure those days were special. As we grew into our teen years, we became financially independent younger than most of our friends. But I really never thought twice about it. I learned early to save my money because that is how I would get what I wanted. I split my paychecks - half into savings, half into checking. I never had a lot of money - ever - but I learned to prioritize what I really needed. I paid for my own college expenses, a lot of my own wedding, and we pay for everything on our own now that we're married and living on our own. I think this is how it should be, and I never once wished my parents would have paid for things or bought me more.

    But in this day and age, "saving for your children's future" seems to be a selling point for many institutions. They explain the simplicity of taking $20-$50 out of each paycheck and putting it toward your children's college. That must be nice for some people, but my husband and I just can't swing that. Instead of saving for our children's college, we opened up mutual funds. We took our tax credit that you receive when a child is born, and we placed that money in the account. We figure, we were given that money because we had a kid, so we're turning it around and saving it for them. We won't be able to contribute to it bi-weekly, monthly, or even yearly. But now that chunk of money will build and be there for them should they chose college, travel, or simply a wedding to settle down with a nice guy/gal.

    I don't judge (or shall I say, I try not to judge) parents who buy presents or stuff for their children just because they're in Target. But I do question the mentality. Do we really want to impress materialism on our young kids this early? Do we really want to teach them that if they get over-stimulated and excited in a certain area of the store, have a meltdown and won't stop, that we'll give in and buy them a toy to shut them up? Classical conditioning, people. Pavolv's dog.

    Now, for the disclaimer: I have timed outings badly and accidentally skipped lunch so we could run out. The crabbiness factor played a huge part in me buying "Puffs" for Little Olive so we could finish our errands. I have done this once. So I can understand pulling something off the shelf to calm your child. But not on a regular basis, and not because you're unable to tell your child no.

    Maybe I'm too harsh. What do you think?

    Thursday, November 03, 2011

    Emergency Preparedness

    My husband listens to NPR during his workday, which means he's always coming home starting conversations about the cool things he has learned that day. Just recently he heard a program about how to handle an emergency situation. Then he found a book at the library about survival out in the wilderness. (Ironic, in my mind, considering he's been playing Fallout 3, and actually gets excited when he sees a bobby pin lying around the house.) 

    Then I came upon a website, Your Own Home Store, that focuses primary on emergency preparedness and self-reliance. I was blown away. I stayed on their site for a really long time, and I learned so much. Usually I skim new websites and look for what interests me. Not this one. The entire site impressed me, as well as shook my nerves a little. If you can, check out their shelf reliance coupon to get started.

    wallpaperstock.net
    It made me realize that we - as in my own family - are not prepared for an emergency situation. Heck, we don't even have candles and matches set aside for when we lose power someday. It opened my eyes to the fact that we need to have some sort of plan. What will we do if we have to evacuate? If our cell phones stop working? If we lose power? If there's a fire, a flood, a storm? Do we have a decent amount of canned goods or ready-to-eat foods that don't require refrigeration? Do I have a packed bag - just in case? Nobody likes to think about these things, but emergencies can happen! Thanks to this website, formulating a plan for this kind of situation is high on my list.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2011

    Music and Development

    Little Olive absolutely loves her music. When she was younger, probably 10 or 11 months, we taught her the ASL sign for music so she could ask for it whenever she wanted. She now enjoys dancing, humming, singing along, playing the piano, and strumming her fingers on guitar strings. I wonder if she'll be one of those avid musicians who will attend an awesome summer music camp when she's older. Time will tell.

    We love listening to music in our home. Ian is always on the lookout for new songs. Right now, we're really into Gotye, Kimbra, and Blind Pilot. Mumford and Sons is still a favorite of mine, though, and I listen to them every time I'm driving in the car (just look up "Winter Winds" - oh gosh, so good). Unfortunately, mainstream pop music has really starting to wear on me. I used to love turning on the radio and listening to all the free music. But the past couple months, I just can't do it anymore! Am I getting old? Or just picky?

    Probably picky, because I'm more aware of what I listen to now that there are children in the car. I couldn't believe when I was driving this past summer, flipping through the stations, and Little Olive wanted me to go back to Ke$ha's song. I was like, "Uh, no way. Sorry!" Kesha, really? Let's get some real music coming out of these speakers. So classical music became a top, calming favorite. I love Mozart, Vivaldi, Debussy, and Pachelbel. Did you know that Mozart's music has actually been researched and shown to enhance brain development and performance? Here's just one of many sources on the topic.

    When Little Olive was younger, and very squirmy, I used to clip her finger and toenails by playing this youtube video:


    Nowadays, Huckleberry (that's the code name for my son!) enjoys it too. But he usually just falls asleep and doesn't notice the video itself. He's a little lovebug, that one. He's been sleeping soundly for a while now. I expect him to wake up any minute, so until tomorrow (or whenever I update next), have a wonderful day!

    Protection

    Do you remember when online shopping was first becoming popular? Some people loved it - others wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. You had the diehard shoppers clicking away on their computers that first Black Friday, while everyone else was shoving each other at the local Wal Marts. The risk of being trampled was safer than trusting "that computer" with all their credit card information. That's what my Grandma calls it, "That computer." All the pictures aren't in albums anymore; they're on "the computers." People don't go to the mall anymore; they shop on "those computers." It's so sweet. I can only imagine what newfangled ways of life will be around when I'm 91 years old.

    Whenever I sell something on craigslist, it's almost guaranteed that I will be contacted by a scammer. They probe for my information and suggest that their "assistant" meets with me to deliver the check (because of course, they just need to have my $20 couch and offer me $60 for it so I will hold it for them - because lo and behold, they're out of town!). It used to make me nervous, but now I just tell them to never contact me again or I'll report them to the authorities. Then I call them a scammer. It's quite satisfying.

    I really would feel bad if they were truly honest, generous people who just want my couch.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2011

    My child is NOT very adanced. Are we all on the same page now?

    It recently came to my attention that people do not realize my blog title is a joke. It rubs them quite the wrong way. Unfortunately, these are people who only found my facebook page and/or never actually went to my blog to read some posts. Instead, they took the title seriously and assumed I'm here to actually talk about how advanced my child is. It caused a bit of a stir yesterday, and now I know that people do not understand how hilarious I am or how to relate to my amazing sense of dry humor.

    (Kidding, okay? I'm not a funny person.)

    For the record, back on January 19, I changed my blog around. See here. So if people had been following religiously like they were supposed to, they would be on board with the whole shebang. (Kidding.) But I know, we are mostly busy, working/stay-at-home moms, so I'll give them all a break.

    I think Little Olive and Little Son (I still need to give him a code name) are amazing children. I love them more than life itself. So if my talking about them comes off as arrogant, I truly apologize. Having been around children my whole life, you'd think I'd be used to them by now and just go with the flow. On the contrary. Having your own children is a completely different story. Everything my kids do amazes me. Not because they're special, advanced, or different - but because their lives are beautiful miracles and I can't believe that I'm watching my children develop and grow. I'm very shaken by death and people's stories of losing their children. Life is way too short, people. And babies grow up so fast. I want to treasure every moment with them, love them to pieces, and record as much as I can.

    The past couple months, my blog has taken a different turn. Earlier posts (see June 2011 and prior) were still mostly themed to my genre of natural living, attachment parenting, etc. But now I've started to monetize and I've been treating this as more of a journal. What can I say, when the household appliances break down, we need funds for our kitchenaid food processor parts. (Not kidding.) I still work on themed topics as much as possible, so stick around for them. My point is that things change, and the blog is following along to meet my family's needs.

    At first I was aggravated by all this, but I gave it a lot of thought. After considering whether or not I should apologize to everyone I have offended by my blog title, I decided it was unnecessary. I never meant anything negative or even serious by those five words. I did nothing wrong by naming my blog after a family inside joke. If people are going to judge a blog by its title and write it off without reading anything else, then those are probably just people who miss out on a lot of other wonderful things by being so quick to judge. (Oh yes, I just insinuated that my blog is a wonderful thing.)

    On the flipside of life, my babies are now awake from their naps and we're going to have a delicious lunch of chicken and biscuits.  The sun is beaming outside, and it's supposed to be semi-warm. A great day to go get our milk from the farm. See, life is beautiful after all. :)

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Should my husband start a blog?

    Who doesn't love getting a good reward? Jessica over at Healthy Mommy, Healthy Baby gave me the Liebster Blog Award! As she puts it, "The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome (wow, that's a lot of nice meanings!). To keep this award going and pass it along to other new deserving blogs, the recipient must now recognize five other bloggers with less than 200 followers that have really stood out in the crowd."

    So here are my Five Picks:


    1. Clean, Mean and Not Quite a Queen - Even though she hasn't updated in over 6 months, I thoroughly enjoy her sarcasm and hilarious posts. Hopefully this award will force her to write again! (We're all about passive aggressively forcing each other to do things through blog posts.)


    2. Faith Elizabeth Hough - I came across many writers' blogs this past summer and fell asleep halfway through the first posts I saw. Not here though! Ladies and gentlemen, let me show you a spunky, smart, and sweet blog that captures my attention every time I visit. I feel like I can relate to everything she says!


    3. To Create, To Live, To Appreciate - A wonderfully young perspective on life. She includes pictures and diverse topics which will surely please the eager eye. Her honest and powerful words might make you rethink certain things and look inside yourself. I consider that a gift. 


    4. Positive Parenting - Wow, this blog makes me so excited about being a parent. It gives me new ideas and alternatives to raising, playing with, and disciplining my little toddler. Check it out and you might learn something new too!


    5. Constructing the Communal Time Machine - Come on...you know you've always wanted to go back in time and fix something. Here's a group of curious scientists-ish who are figuring it out. I honestly have no idea what they're talking about half the time, but it's still interesting! 


    So guys, pass the award on if you like, and spread the love! Now onto my second point of business today. 

    My husband, Ian, wants to start a blog. Well, sort of. I'm trying to convince him. He's not against the idea, but he needs a little push to get started. So here's what you need to do: comment below and let him know you agree with me! Also, offer ideas for names and topics. He's a smart guy; I'd love to read what he writes and I know you will too!

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    When the occasion calls for it

    Is it sometimes necessary to be mean?

    The simple answer to the question is: yes.
    The naive answer is: no.

    I consider myself to be a nice person. I try hard to give people second chances, to make up for awkward social situations, to tell while lies and make a conversation flow, and to brush things off that really should bother me. Growing up, I had a great group of friends. There were a few very close ones that I loved dearly, but I mostly got along with everyone regardless. I also had a great atmosphere for cultivating relationships. I consider myself very lucky in this regard. There were a couple "pickles" for sure, but for the most part, every one of my friends was super kind.

    When I ventured into the college and beyond, I learned that people are not as willing to be so awesome after all. No matter how much I was myself and tried to start friendships with certain individuals, I could see it would never happen. My sister and I discovered a paradox that continues to puzzle us. We truly believe that with certain females, they will not be nice to you unless you're mean to them.

    I know. You might have to read that twice, but it's true.

    Not necessarily mean. But definitely disinterested. Trying to be friends makes you look weak, eager, and desperate, apparently.

    Don't worry, I refuse to start off a friendship that way. How can you ever give someone a fair chance if you're going to be rude right off the bat? Besides, it's easier for me to see the good eggs from the bad eggs if I just act like myself. If other girls need me to act somewhat witchy toward them in order for a friendship to click, they are definitely not people I want to involve myself with. There are enough awesome girls out there who are kind, sweet, awesome, and easy to talk to without having to change myself.

    But I have sadly learned there can come a point where you have to stand up for yourself and not tolerate rudeness, dominance, or catty, petty behavior. There comes a time where you have to tuck away that ready smile and take out your angry eyes. When you won't stand for near-abuse in an elder care situation. When you won't pretend it's okay that an acquaintance is stalking you and leaving rude comments where everyone can see. When someone has clearly lied to you and tries to cover it up with a coffee date. When someone tells you you will never amount to anything.

    There is always a time to "kill them with kindness." But there's also a time to put your foot down and stop trying with certain people. Make them meet you halfway for a change. It might have taken me a few years to understand that, but I'm glad to say I've found the right balance.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Escape


    We had our first snowfall of the season here today. It's only October 27th!? What the... Thankfully, the ground is still too warm for anything to stick. Hopefully it will stay that way for months. I know...you laugh. Months, eh. I can hope, can't I? I love my city, but not the winters. I only ever ask for a gentle snowfall surrounding Christmas. After that, it can melt away and not return again until December 23, 2012.

    People say if you're going to live in a city that is cold and snowy for months on end, you might as well learn to enjoy it. Learn to embrace it! Life is a song. Sing with it. My family and friends are big skiers (is that right? ski-ers?), snowboarders, and ice skaters. I do love a fun skate around an ice rink - it's kind of romantic. We have a nice outdoor rink downtown; I love going there. But overall, I'm a big "stay indoors and drink warm tea and cocoa" kind of person. Ideally, I'd rather be somewhere warm. And even though I have lots of extended family living there, my immediate family is here; I don't ever see us moving. And that's okay with me. My sister just stocked up on four boxes of amazing tea. (Ever heard of Christmas Eve by Stash, or Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride by Celestial Seasonings? Go check them out!) We're set for a while.

    But do you ever feel the need to escape? Not necessarily physically, but mentally. Going to California wouldn't really stop facebook from happening. That's where I need the escape from. You could just stop going on it, you might say. True...I have given it serious thought today. It's because everyone has something to say, and even though it's a free country, I'm not always in the mood to hear everyone's opinions. If I see one more person posting an ignorant, arrogant, biased comment/picture/link about anything political or Occupy Wall Street, I just might go nuts. And I know, I wrote a blog about it a couple weeks ago, and here I am mentioning it in another post. But it's the constant stream on my newsfeed of people saying something different about it that's getting to me.

    Maybe I'm feeling a little too hormonal tonight, sitting here drinking my wine (oh, have you not noticed? I have). Maybe the thought of another American revolution is really just a little too overwhelming for me. Maybe I'm just wishing I was oblivious and apathetic about world events. But I do know for sure that the negativity and arguing among friends and family over an issue that nobody has any concrete answers about is really starting to get to me. It has come to the point where blocking, removing, or hiding certain people on facebook might actually need to happen. Call me mean, go ahead. I'm just a stay-at-home mom with a beautiful newborn and an adorable toddler, blogging away to bring in extra income. I'm trying to keep the positive vibes inside, and the bad ones out. That includes the snow...you stay away, snow. Or else I'll go outside with my blowdryer and make you go away.

    (I got that from my sister.)

    Oh, Thursdays...

    Oh you know, it has always been my favorite day of the week. What, do we take "tomorrow shall be poopy" pills every Wednesday night? My sweet little noisemaker was up a lot of the night. Grunting, mostly. Didn't even want to nurse. He was just perfectly content making little sounds as soon as the light shut off. I'd like to say I slept through a lot of it, but I still woke up feeling haggard and worn. I feel like I could nap for the rest of the day. He's just too beautiful; I can't even be mad at him.

    Little Olive, however, might make that cut. She dumped out half a box of cereal on my not-so-clean kitchen floor. They can't really be saved, so she's currently in the process of picking them all up to put in the trash. Meanwhile, the baby has fallen fast asleep in my arms. And, he's so quiet. The irony!

    Tomorrow my husband goes back to work after being off for two weeks. Two weeks? Has it been that long already? The days seemed to blend, as we alternated taking care of the babies and catching up on sleep. The weather has been cold, windy, and rainy - Ian had plans to clean the gutters, but that never happened. Not that I mind - I'd rather him be inside with us than out in the cold anyway.

    So why such a dreary post? Well, maybe it was - up until now. I suppose this is the perfect day to put all those quotes and cliches into practice.

    Count your blessings.

    Today is a gift. That's why it's called the "present."

    Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today.

    So while I'd love to sit here and complain about being tired and feeling sorry for myself, I'm going back in the kitchen, making sure Little Olive has cleaned up all the cereal, and then we're just going to cuddle on the couch. No laundry, no dishes, no organizing for a few hours. Just some quality time. Then tonight, I'm going to enjoy some wine and cheese with my husband and be thankful for the last two weeks we had together.

    ...And then it'll be bedtime. Sleep! :)

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Finn's Birth Story

    This is a pretty long and detailed birth story. I wrote it for anyone to read, but mostly for myself so that I wouldn't forget anything. I hope you enjoy it! :)

    *** 

    I was due with my second baby on October 3, 2011. Labor actually began at 41.5 weeks on Thursday, October 13, 2011. Here is the story of how my little son came into the world.

    Since my first baby came three weeks early, I had a hopeful expectation to have the same experience the second time around. But after my two sisters-in-law had their babies within a week of each other, and my due date came and went with ease, I finally accepted that I was "late". If it wasn't for my best friend's wedding approaching in less than 10 days (in which I was a bridesmaid!), I might have been okay with being past due. Physically, I felt fine. But emotionally, I really needed and wanted the baby to come! I decided to try natural things to help bring on labor. None of them worked. So after a day of running up and down the stairs, purposely hopping around the house instead of walking (something my little toddler found hilarious), and ingesting far too much evening primrose oil, I went to bed. While hopeful, I also knew the next day could be like every other as well.

    I woke at 5am to go to the bathroom and felt my first contraction starting. My body and mind instantly became alert and excited! I was in labor! Two seconds later I was harshly reminded of how much these things could hurt. I began the deep hypnobreathing I'd been practicing this whole pregnancy, and got through the first contraction of the day.

    I laid in bed for 40 minutes, timing the surges at 8 minutes apart. I was going to let Ian sleep as long as possible, but during one of the contractions I reached over and grabbed his arm. I said, "Are you awake?" "Yeah, what's up?" I waited till the contraction passed and replied, "I'm in labor." He woke up immediately and snuggled with me. We had been waiting for this for weeks, and I could tell how excited he was too.

    At 6:00, in between surges, I called our midwife to tell her what was going on. She responded with, "Yay, that's great news!" Because she lives 1.5 hours away, she decided to head into our area and simply be close by in case I needed her. She said she'd call me in two hours to see how everything was going. I was totally comfortable with that. I knew I had a long way to go.

    Usually our little toddler wakes up around 6:20 every day, so Ian and I stayed in our bedroom together, talking and just being excited. He was timing the contractions on the stopwatch of my cell phone, starting a new "lap" every time one began. Every 8 minutes, I would close my eyes to signal the contraction coming on, and Ian would either hold me or lightly run his fingers along my arms. In hypnobirthing, this "light touch massage" is done to counteract the pain one feels during a contraction. The body's endorphins help block the pain. While the massage didn't eliminate all the pain, it helped so much and reminded me to relax my body.

    At 7:00, Malley woke up, and my sister was starting to get ready for work. We told her I was in labor, and she came in the room with a huge smile and gave me a big hug. It was so nice that everyone was excited and ready! She decided to work from home that day, and we began doing little things to set up for the birth. We all ate breakfast, then Ian blew up the birth pool. We put a waterproof cover under the sheets of our bed and collected extra towels for the "birth supply box." I called Ian every time I felt a contraction coming, and he was right by my side. They were already pretty rough, and after one of them I said to him, "This is going to be a really long day." But Ian was incredible; he helped me get through them all.

    I'll admit, I took a few moments to comb my hair, put on some make-up, brush my teeth, and pick out a fresh outfit. I would find that these things didn't matter within a couple hours, but I was still pumped at this time.

    At 8:00, I texted Jen that my contractions had been all over the place - 5 within 20 minutes, but then nothing during the next 20. She said she would go do a home visit with another momma, and then check back with me. Sounds good, I thought. Around this time, I called my parents' house to tell my Mom. She was out at morning Mass, but my Dad told me to text her anyways. I told her I was in labor and to give us a call when Mass was done.

    Marie prepared two homeopathic remedies for me to sip as frequently as I wanted. One was Mag Phos. 6x in warm water, which would help with the contractions and anything uterus-related. The other was Arnica 200c to help with the overall process of labor, delivery, and beyond. She also kept Malley busy all morning long. It worked out well because Ian was able to be right by my side with no distractions. He and I talked and just hung out in between contractions, and then we would focus during them. I actually found that standing up was one of the best ways to get through them. Ian would stand behind me, lightly massaging my back. And then it would be over. The contractions were about 7 mins apart at that point.

    Ian asked me, "So, do you think this baby will come before or after noon?" If I was a mean person, I would have laughed out loud. Instead I just said, "Oh darling, we will be at this all day." I was judging this based off my first birth, which was 8 hours and started abruptly with intense contractions at 4 mins apart. In my mind, I knew I still had to get to that point, and then ALL the way to birth.

    Off and on, I listened to a few minutes of a guided relaxation on my iPod. I layed down on the couch and tried to relax completely. But then a crazy contraction came, and as hard as I tried to breathe and get through it, I ended up ripping my ear phones out and sitting up, nearly losing it. Even though I should have deducted it to laying down (because laying down was the worst thing for me during Malley's labor), I'll admit, I panicked a little and told Ian we had to call Jen.

    After that, I was able to keep my wits about me. I took bathroom breaks and frequent sips of the remedies. Around 10:00, Jen arrived. Things were good at that point. We all talked and touched bases, and she reviewed my birth plan while we sat around the dining room table. Ian had to step out for a few minutes, and I felt a wild sort of fear without him when a contraction came on. But Jen was right there and guided me so well through it. She knew just what to say to get me back on top of it. It was comforting that I had all this help just for me!

    Shortly after that, Malley went down for a nap. Marie headed downstairs to get some work done, and we called my mom to come over. I had wanted her to wait until after Malley was in bed so that it wouldn't be a struggle getting her to sleep. (There is only one thing Malley loves more than popsicles, and that's Grandma.)

    Around this time, I went in the bathroom and lost a ton of mucus. There's my plug, I thought to myself. I was a little bummed that I only had dilated enough to lose it just now, but later Jen told me that's probably not how it really works. But at the time, that's what I thought. As with the first birth, we did no cervix checks to see how far along I was. I really like doing this because I wasn't worried about numbers, and it was relaxing for me to not know.

    Jen stepped outside to make some phone calls and throw the ball for Kila (our puppy), so I got in the birth pool and listened to a relaxation on the earphones. Ian was right behind me, giving me an awesome neck and shoulder massage the whole time. It was a great half hour. The house was so quiet, the water was soothing and warm, and for the first time ever I was in a "zone". I felt the contractions, and they were still poopy, but being so relaxed in a rhythm of deep breathing made them very manageable.

    Jen came by the pool to give the baby's heartbeat another listen. Everything sounded great. She then told me that Heather, her assistant who attended Malley's birth, wouldn't be able to make it. She was in between night shifts and just couldn't swing it. I was understanding but sad too. We had a backup, who I had met and really liked, so Jen told me we'd call her in a little while.

    After my mom arrived, and I'd given her a smile before closing my eyes again, the water seemed to be cooling down. Since I bled a lot after my first birth, we had decided to keep the water temperature less steamy this time around. But the cool air above the warm water was making me shiver, and I could no longer focus. Ian helped me out and I put on new clothes. I was freezing, though, so my mom wrapped a huge blanket around me, which helped so much. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart.

    Around then, Malley woke up - not only to her Grandma - but to a huge pool of water in her dining room. The excitement was adorable. She stuck with my mom from then on. They went outside, played with blocks, read books, and had snacks together. It was great; Ian and I were able to stay focused together. Before the birth, I thought that maybe help wouldn't be necessary for Malley. Maybe she'd be fine and we could keep her busy. But everything about having the help there made the whole experience a billion times better.

    It was probably around 12noon then. Even though I was pretty tired at that point, I wanted to stand up for two reasons: 1) I was able to handle the surges much easier, and 2) they started coming a bit more frequently when I was standing. Good good. Let's get this going.

    After listening to the heartbeat again, Jen asked if I felt any baby movement. I said yes, and explained where...and also added that I had back pain during the contractions. She asked if I could lay down so she could determine the position of the baby. I agreed but warned her that it might get bad. While I was laying on the couch, she felt around and noticed that the baby was leaning toward the right - and began to say something when a bad contraction came on. I felt myself losing it and told her I had to stand up right away. She and Ian helped me get through it, but it was intense. Thankful it was over, I resumed my "good" position of standing up, and Jen hopped on the computer to look up some tips on spinningbabies.com. Just the other night, she had read about a way to help the baby angle down better. She showed Ian and I what to do. Pretty much, you lock your fingers under the belly and lift up at the start of a contraction. This extra lift helps the baby descend easier. When the next contraction started, we tried it together, but probably too enthusiastically - because it made the surge 10x worse. Jen said we didn't have to do it anymore if it was bad.

    But little did they know, I modified it myself by just doing it very, very slightly during each following contraction - which, by the way, were coming very frequently. I'd gently lift my belly when one began and could not believe what I felt: the baby was moving down! I could actually feel the descent. It was incredible. But not fun either.

    It got to the point where I couldn't be silent anymore. The contractions were so strong and intense that I had to make some noise. Sometimes I'd say "Ow, ow, ow!" or kind of cry. Poor Malley must have been a little upset by this because I could hear my mom gently telling her I was okay, and that I was just using my voice to help the baby come out. She later told me this helped Malley accept what was going on, and they went back to playing with some toys.

    During one contraction, I felt something crazy. Kind of confused, I said, "I think I might need to push..." Jen and Ian both were like, "That's okay." But I looked at the clock and dismissed this crazy idea. It was only 1:00. It just wasn't time yet. But the next contraction came, and oh my gosh, I really needed to push.

    Jen had already started to fill up the pool again with warmer water before I said this, so the timing was perfect. I got in and sat on my knees. I asked my Mom to call Marie from downstairs and looked at Ian with more excitement than I can explain. I started to cry with complete happiness and said, "Oh my gosh, the baby's coming!" There was a slight pause in everything - maybe a minute or two of no contractions or anything. Then I could feel one coming...and I was pushing!

    The next 10 minutes flew by. I did my best to relax all my muscles and let my body work with each surge. I felt a ton of pressure down there, and as I reached down to see what was going on, my fingers hit a bulge. Instantly, my water broke and hot fluid flooded around my feet. It was pretty cool, considering I have no recollection of my water breaking the first time around. With the amniotic fluid out of the way, I could feel the baby's head coming as crowning began! I made Ian check it out too. It was really incredible. Then the intense ring of fire started. I remember saying, "Oh my gosh, the head! But ouch this really hurts." I was so eager that Jen reminded me to wait for the next contraction. After a couple I couldn't help laughing with tears in my eyes - this was really happening! A few pushes later, the head was out! Ian and I could feel the little face and all the features. At this point, I was just dying to see him/her, so I said, "Come on, baby!" And then, during the next push, the entire body came right out into my hands.

    Jen slipped the cord out from around the neck, and I lifted the baby out of the water and into my arms - but not before looking to see the big surprise: boy or girl?

    "It's a boy!" I exclaimed. It was such a happy announcement! We had waited till the end for this pregnancy, and everyone had been telling me the whole time, "You're having a boy." I myself would have been surprised if the baby ended up being a girl - but I wouldn't exactly say I knew it was a boy. It was just awesome finally knowing for sure! And there he was...right in front of us!

    The time was 1:10pm.




    He was completely covered in slippery vernix. I cradled him against my chest and kissed him, but Jen noticed I might have been pressing on the cord. So I laid him back in the water and gently roused him to make some noise. Jen told us not to worry because he was still getting oxygen from his cord. We touched his face and rubbed his belly until he made a sweet little cry.

    Ian turned to Malley and told her, "Finn is here! The baby is Finn - he's a boy!" All pregnancy long, we had asked her, "Is the baby a boy or a girl?" And she would answer whatever she felt at the moment (or whatever gender we said last). 









    It was just perfect. There were a few minutes of awesome bliss. Ian and I were the only hands that touched him for a long while, and Malley came in the pool to check out this wiggly, white thing in mommy's arms. She wasn't too sure about it all, but a popsicle took care of everything. She was happily running around in no time.

     


    After the cord stopped pulsating, Jen clamped and Ian cut it. Some rolling contractions came back, and they were quite uncomfortable. So Ian bundled our little son in a blanket and held him while the placenta was birthed.

    After that, Amanda, the assistant arrived. It was so sweet how quietly and respectfully she came in the front door and gently set her bags down - and then she noticed the baby and exclaimed, "Oh my goodness - congratulations!"

    Together, Jen and Amanda helped me into the bedroom where I was able to relax and hold the baby. But I was shivering and shaking like crazy. They said my body was probably just in a little bit of shock from the birth, but mentally I was completely fine. My mom gave me some more arnica and warm blankets, and in no time the shaking had gone away. I hadn't torn or anything, and the bleeding was all normal. So after making sure I was okay, everyone actually left the room and gave Ian, Malley, and I some alone time with the baby.


    Everyone was awesome. They cleaned out the pool, did some paperwork, brought me chocolate milk, and called the relatives while we enjoyed some family time. Malley held her little brother and gave him lots of kisses right away. He made funny, sweet little noises and was so alert with us.

    He was weighed at 9lbs 2oz, 21.5 inches long, and just beautiful. He latched on about two hours later for a small snack, but otherwise he wasn't interested in breastfeeding until later that night - when he nursed all night. :)

    Honestly, the best birth day ever!