Friday, September 30, 2011

Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

If you've never visited a chiropractor before, I highly recommend it - for anyone. It's one of the most comfortable and most effective methods of preventative care we have. For my first pregnancy, I sought out a good chiropractor for some lower back pain treatment. The results were so impressive that I remembered the kind doctor for this pregnancy as well. I actually look forward to our appointments. I'll go have a pleasant yet thorough adjustment, and when I walk back to my car, I can hardly believe the absence of pain and that typical "pregnancy waddle" I went in with. I recommend our chiropractor to anyone when I have a chance. I even got my Handsome Stallion of a Husband going for routine maintenance.

Chiropractic care is invaluable to families. It has helped my baby niece with constipation issues. It can help with headaches, migraines, menstrual issues, bedwetting, sleep problems, chronic crying and fussiness in infants, and it keeps the spine (and therefore hips, legs, shoulders, etc) in line for young toddlers learning to walk. It is known to flip posterior and breach babies before they're born. It relieves neck, shoulder, and back pain, and it helps a pregnant woman carry her extra weight with a sturdy spine.

It's truly amazing how the nerves in our spine are connected to our entire body. I've attached the chart below to show how important it is to take care of our backs. You might find it hard to believe that an issue could be healed just by being adjusted, but I would give it a fair chance before dismissing the possibility. Make sure you find a good chiropractor who massages/works the muscles surrounding your spine before simply snapping and popping things into place. I've had some adjustments from other doctors that were only about two minutes long - and I didn't feel that great afterward. Our chiropractor will return to the area several times inbetween massages to gradually put everything back in place. There is never any pain!

There are wonderful chiropractors out there, so just ask around!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Natural Toothpaste

For Christmas, my family started doing "Secret Santas" where we pick one name and
give that person a special, meaningful gift. I have a lot of brothers and sisters, and so as we grow up, get married, and have families of our own, funds are tight around this wonderful holiday. Last Christmas, my sister treated me to some beautiful, natural soap and shampoo. Not only does it smell great like almonds, but it also has lasted me up until this month!

Her introduction and awareness of this area really opened my eyes. I always see natural products in the store, but actually using one started a little revolutionary activism in my home. When I can, I buy all-natural products. Though they're expensive, I try to prioritize for Little Olive, especially with what she needs for bathtime.

One area of natural products we are experimenting with right now is toothpaste. My husband recently became aware of the harmful effects of flouride in our water and in our toothpastes. Even "natural" toothpastes contain dangerous ingredients that shouldn't be swished around our mouths and possibly ingested. I searched a few websites and gathered information from friends; I decided to make our own toothpaste. Well, it's technically tooth powder.

1/2 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of arrowroot (some recipes call for French clay, but my Mom said arrowroot is great for sensitive gums and we've been happy with the results)
A few drops of cooking extract or essential oil - we use cinnamon

Combine and mix all ingredients in a container.
Wet your toothbrush, dip it into the powder, and brush as usual.

Putting too much baking soda on your brush can be abrasive to your teeth, so you only need a little.

My husband and I have found that equal parts of baking soda and arrowroot are still pretty bitter for our taste. Next batch, I'll probably use 1/4 cup of baking soda.

If you have other ideas or recipes, definitely pass them along! We're just starting out on this quest and welcome new ideas from all around the kingdom - er, world.

Marriage Notes

This summer, we painted our bedroom. It was so needed. The walls were transformed from an awful faded, lime green to a calming "sage gray" shade. I love it now. I also made brown, gold, and blue curtains to go along with the walls. I'm working on framing some engagement photos to display. One thing I noticed the other day was that I've lost my wall decals. For our wedding, someone gave us peel-away stickers that read, 

Granted, they didn't look like that. But you get the idea. I must have thrown them out by accident during the redecorating process. I'm on the hunt to find some new ones!

I really want something like that because little reminders about love are so important. Love is a choice you make every day, and sometimes life makes it a little tricky to do it so willingly! I once heard of a couple who wrote "shmily" notes to each other throughout their entire marriage. They would try to beat each other on creativity and good hiding spots for these little messages that literally stood for: "See How Much I Love You". I guess once the husband unrolled a whole toilet paper roll and placed the note on the cardboard, then timed it so his wife would be the one to find it. How cute and funny is that!

Are there any things you and your spouse do to remind each other about love? Or stories you've heard? Pass them along!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kid Yoga

Little Olive doing stretches this past summer
My sister-in-law recently gave us a Little Yogis dvd that she and her son used to watch together. Since Little Olive loves doing stretches with us, especially Daddy, we thought she'd jump right in. And she definitely did.

The dvd is quite interesting. It was shot in Hawaii with Wai Lana and her daughter, and then a bunch of kids. The set-up is beautiful. Everyone is on a lush green spread of grass with the ocean around them in the background. The palm trees blow in the gentle breeze and the clear blue skies definitely perked my attention and made me want to move there.

I'm going to be honest - the lady actually creeped us out at first. She is so incredibly calm and sweet, but her voice is a little eerie. (My sister-in-law actually warned me about this...I brushed it off. How can someone's voice be that irritating? Well, it's true.) Not to mention the songs at the beginning of each segment...

If you're interested in seeing it for yourself, definitely check out the pink dvd on the left. That's the one we have.

Besides that, once you get past the "different" feel of the movie, it's actually awesome. Little Olive followed along really well and did as much stretching and positioning as her little self understood at this point. I was pretty impressed. I think the calmness and simplicity aspects of the movie encourage focus and listening skills. If you're looking for a fun yoga movie for your child, this one is pretty good. But honestly, tell me if she doesn't creep you out just a little in the beginning.

"My trunk is my friend...especially when it's hot..."

(Just one of the songs...about an elephant. Trust me.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Judgment and Bullies

We hear it a lot: "Don't judge." A lot of us go through daily life thinking that judging is bad - when in reality, we all do it. All day, every single day. When you get dressed in the morning, you judge the weather and decide what to wear. When you drive to work, you make judgements every few seconds to be safe on the road. While at work, you judge your co-worker's bragging about giving her 3-month-old Diet Coke to help with colic. I always knew she was nuts.

My point is, judging is not this horrible, mean experience. At least, it shouldn't be. We all have a right to make decisions - judgments - based on what we believe and know to be true.

We do not, however, have any right to do so in an unkind, mean, or unloving way. 

This month, a young teen from my area in WNY committed suicide due to bullying from kids at his school. This boy was gay, open about it, and took a lot of heat from his peers because of it. Actually, let me rephrase: not heat - more like hate. Your view and opinion on homosexuality is irrelevant. Whether you think it's right or wrong makes no difference in how you should treat a homosexual.

I'm Catholic, and my Faith demands that we treat homosexuals like we would anyone else - with complete love. It doesn't get any clearer than that. The only way to deal with people - with any kind of people - is with love. I get really, really upset when I hear or see people make faces, jokes, or lower their voice to say derogatory things about the gay community. Not because I particularly have some special connection to them, but because such behavior goes completely against our obligations to them - and that's the simple act of love.

We wouldn't think it's okay if someone talked badly of a disabled, special needs person. We're all human beings, and whether you like it or not, God loves each of us equally. And if HE does, then we have no excuse to do otherwise.

It is appalling to me that bullies are tolerated in our day and age. Kids can't even stand up for themselves out of fear of being the ones punished. Bullies start behaving that way at a very young age. And it is NOT okay. Parents need to pay more attention to their children and how they treat others. Manipulative, dominating, arrogant, and nasty behavior are all signs. Parents must make it their responsibility to teach their own kids that being mean to any group or any child is not acceptable. Children cannot treat each other like doormats. Nasty children should be nipped at the bud and given strict consequences when they're mean to others. My kids will never step foot in a school unless things change. 

I think it's revolting that even after the young teen from WNY died, the bullying still continued. Messages like, "You're better off dead" were still sent his way.

Seriously? People mourned the death of Osama Bin Laden, saying we should never rejoice over one's death. Yet kids these days are heartless enough to continue their hate even after the boy kills himself?

We should all speak up more than we do. Who cares if you irritate someone by telling them that they're being mean or rude -- or even that their child is? Better a hurt ego than a broken child. Or a dead one. Bullying has to stop. 

NO H8.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just say, "Thanks!"
Scenario: A party's coming up that you're really excited about. Of course, nothing in your closet seems fitting for the occasion. So you go out and find a great new outfit at the store. The day of, you take time doing your hair, putting on make-up, and picking out cute shoes. You look so snazzy standing there in front of the mirror. You get to the party, and someone greets you with a big smile saying, "Hey! How's it going? You look great - I love your hair."

"Oh gosh, really? It's so frizzy...I tried straightening it forever."

Compliments are given for a reason, but so many people feel uncomfortable receiving them. Perhaps feeling bashful from the attention, some people are quick to deflect the kind words and put themselves down a little.

"Did you really make this dessert? I totally love it!"

"It would be better if I had all the ingredients."

Why is it so hard to just say "Thanks"? In an attempt to be humble or minimize the greatness of something, you're missing out on an opportunity to 1) be humble and 2) keep the great energetic conversation going.

Instead, it would be better to accept the compliment graciously and say, "Thanks! I like how my hair turned out too!" or "Oh thanks - I'm so glad you like the dessert. It's one of my favorites!"

When you treat a compliment in this way, it makes everyone's lives much easier. Otherwise, the person who is trying to be nice by giving you the compliment then has to make up for the awkwardness. They mostly do this by insisting they're right, "No really! Your hair is just fine." or "I think the dessert really tastes great - good job!"

Then we usually accept it and say, "Oh thanks!"

As if we need to be told 50 times for it to be true.

Imagine if, in after an attempt to appear humble and turn away the compliment, the person giving it agreed with us and said, "Actually, now that you mention it, your hair does look pretty bad." or "Yeah, I can see what you mean. The flavor is really time make sure you have all the right ingredients."

I bet this would make people accept a compliment the next time one was given to them.

Accepting a compliment or kind words is not very difficult. It's not as though we have to sit down and write detailed thank you cards. All it takes is a couple sincere words and everyone's happy. So the next time someone reaches out to be kind, just say "Thanks!"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Swag Bucks For Beginners

Recently I began using Swag Bucks to earn some money online. I've referred some friends and gotten really into it. It's one of those fun ways to do what you might already do online. I'm not someone who spends all day on it. Rather, I try to get the most out of it in the shortest amount of time.
  1. First of all, sign up through this: It's my referral link and it'll get you started. :)
  2. Download the toolbar. It will make this whole process very easy. If you don't want to, at least bookmark the Swag Bucks homepage. You can do mostly everything from there. 
  3. "Like" their Facebook Page. This is where you will learn a lot of information!
  4. In all reality, one SB is usually only worth a penny. I earn SB to redeem them for $5 Amazon Gift Cards. Each $5 card can be redeemed for 450 SB, which equals to almost a penny a SB. So putting that into perspective right away, don't get caught up in thinking you're losing out on "dollars" if you don't get as many SB as you'd like in a day.
  5. Now, how to win "swag bucks": search! Using the toolbar or the homepage, search normally as you would on Google. DON'T oversearch trying to get a win (typing in random things, one after another). You will be put in "timeout". 
  6. I use the search engine for getting around to my usual pages. I've won many times searching gmail, Pinterest, facebook, blogger, Etsy, etc.
  7. What do "singles, doubles/dubs, triples/trips" mean? Your first search win of the day is "singles" - the second is "doubles" and so on. 
  8. It's very easy to get one or two wins a day. But the gates for triples and quads only open after a while. Watch the FB page to see what people are posting.
  9. CODES: codes can come out any time of day and for any amount of SB. Don't wait around for them. They're usually around 5SB. If I'm on the computer while one's out, awesome. You will know when a code is posted when everyone on the FB page says, "Thanks for the code!"
  10. The codes are usually posted on the Blog, Twitter, or the swidget. I placed the Swidget in my blog (see bottom right column). Sometimes the people at SwagBucks makes it difficult to find the a treasure hunt or a search in the Swag Store. Sometimes it'll be right in a Tweet.
  11. Once you find the code, do not post it publicly or tell anyone what it is. They're very serious about deleting your account if you're caught passing around an active code.
  12. Some codes change every 20-30 seconds so that people can't cheat. 
  13. When you find the code, copy and paste it into the "gimme" box on your homepage and voila!
  14. For other ways to win, go to the homepage (or toolbar) under "Earn" and find what works best for you. Here's what I do:
  15. A way to win 1 SB every day is to visit the Daily Poll.
  16. A way to win 2 SB is to visit the "NOSO". Skip through five special offers until a captcha pops up. Type in the words, and you have 2SB. 
  17. Trusted Surveys: I refuse to attempt them unless they are 15 minutes or under. People complain constantly about being disqualified from surveys after spending so much time on them. I try the 10 minute ones and sometimes they work!
  18. For the first 5 disqualified surveys of the day, you'll earn 1SB each for your time.
  19. Swagbucks TV: If you download the toolbar, a pop-up window appears for this. For watching 10 videos (at 10% of the meter each), you will earn 3SB when you reach 100%. You are allowed a maximum amount of 75SB per day doing this. I don't sit there and watch it; I run the TV on mute in the background when I'm blogging, e-mailing, etc.
  20. You earn 1SB a day for inviting friends.
  21. Special Offers are hit or miss: sometimes I'll play a video for a few SB but I refuse to do any that require my information or signing up for things. The FB page is very active and helpful about which Special Offers are good or not!
  22. Sometimes videos pop up on the homepage - you can usually watch them several times for easy SB. 
  23. Most days, I'll receive a message in my SB Inbox to watch a video ad, and then answer the 1 question about it. An easy 3SB. 
  24. I usually earn around 40 SB a day, depending on how much my "search wins" are. This evens out to getting 1 AGC a week. I've used two so far, so they are real and work just fine! :) I plan on using all my gift cards for Christmas gifts, or whatever we need around the house. Some people earn hundreds of SBs a day (I don't know how they do it!). But since you can only redeem 5 ACG per month, I like how this works out for me.
If you have questions or any other tips, feel free to ask and share! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

That Wonderful Pumpkin Season
I'm not much of a baker; I'll admit it. There is only about a three month stretch out of the year where I will bake. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking, but baking is a little out of my league. You mix everything together, throw it in the oven, and wait a long 25 minutes to see if it'll even turn out! It's a little scary to me.

But year after year, the wonderful fall foods and scents sucker me into the kitchen to test out my Suzie Homemakery Skills. It begins around this time in September, just around autumn, when freshly picked apples and cider fill the stores. Who can resist an apple pie? I'm still perfecting the crust, folks. Bear with me. My zeal in the kitchen continues through Thanksgiving where I will make two pumpkin pies. There is honestly nothing - nothing - I love more (in regards to foods) than a perfect piece of pumpkin pie with homemade whip cream on top. For Christmas, I'll do some baking of cookies and fun treats. Come January, though, the oven shuts off. Nothing against that month, but it's just how it turns out.
Tonight was the kick-off. My sister and I found some easy recipes to follow, and we had fun bustling about in our tiny kitchen making a few dishes. We started off with this: pumpkin dip with ginger snap cookies. Spices, cream cheese, and pumpkin were all blended together while Audrey tackled the homemade cookies. Then we moved on to pumpkin muffins (see picture above) with a similar frosting.

The only thing bad about all this is that we can't eat anything until tomorrow. We made everything for a gathering with friends. It will be a good night, for sure...I will be standing by the food table, almost 39 weeks pregnant, eating all these pumpkin treats of goodness. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting for Baby

In the past, I have come close to criticizing women for being impatient when they near the end of their pregnancies. Why would someone want to induce? Wait until the baby's ready. When the time is right, labor will start naturally. Enjoy your time waiting. Have unlimited amount of patience.

Well, let me tell you...I totally get it now.

For the most part, I'm content. But in other ways, I would be perfectly okay with having our baby - tonight. Physically, I feel tired, sluggish, a bit large, and oh yeah, tired. Sometimes I have that pregnancy waddle. And then emotionally, I have been a little impatient. Sometimes I just want to hold the new baby and be done with pregnancy! I want to know if we're having a boy or girl. I want to start breastfeeding and changing breastfed-poop diapers. I want to hold the Baby while he/she sleeps for hours and just stare at that beautiful face. I want to hold him/her in my sling and kiss that little face.

But then I life is never going to be like this again. I will probably never have as much time and attention to give Little Olive as I do now. We probably won't be able to just sit on the couch together and cuddle for a very long time when she wakes up. How I love our cuddles!

I will probably not be able to nap in a few weeks either. At least now, I can squeeze one in when L.O. lays down for the afternoon.

These are the last few days where I will have only one child to buckle in, and then take out of, the car. Shopping trips will be a little more challenging, with coordinating mealtimes, diapers, naps, and moods. The house will probably not be this clean for months. I may never see the bottom of the sink again. I enjoy keeping up on laundry but that may not be possible either. I have a lot of time now to sew some projects and read when I please.

I am not saying life will become horrible when the new baby is born. On the absolute contrary! But life will change. And instead of chugging red raspberry leaf tea and doing squats or jumping jacks, I've decided from this day on (38 weeks and 2 days), I am going to relax and be 100% content with waiting for the baby.

One way to help this is to plan something for the every day. So tomorrow, I'm heading to the grocery store to buy ingredients to make our own toothpaste. (Maybe a possible blog idea?) I also want to have a tea party with Little Olive.

Then it'll be the weekend. We're hoping to see some good friends and possible play matchmaker.

Sunday will be church and family time.

Monday will be week 39...and I'll have new plans for that week! Stay tuned. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mother's Affection

Can a mother's affection prevent anxiety in adulthood?  

I came across that amazing article sometime last year; it's just too good to not share. It shows the powerful connection between children and their mothers, especially in regards to emotional health due to positive and healthy interactions when they are young babies. I love that it emphasizes the importance of oxytocin-related behaviors, such as developing trust responding to each other.

I know for a fact that the comfort my mother brings is comparable to no other. When something is wrong or has upset me, I first want to talk to her. Sometimes just talking about other things brings me serenity and I can sort life out afterward. 

Just remember, if you're a mom - or if you have a mom - the undeniable connection moms and children share. Trust that bond and follow that instinct. Even if the child is in another country, studying abroad, or spreading their wings, a few minutes on the phone can make all the difference. Just hearing that familiar voice will surely put your mind at ease. Remember to hug your babies and love them to pieces...afterall, research has shown it will help them later in adulthood. It's even better than starting a college fund. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Aiming for 100!

Do you come to my blog regularly? Do you enjoy my random posts, informational updates, or latest news on my life? If so - become a follower and show me some love. I'm aiming for 100!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Loving or Not

Why are people afraid of commitment?

Why is it easier to hold a grudge instead of forgiving?

Why do people insist on relying upon first impressions and not giving second chances?

Why do people always blame each other for problems instead of looking at themselves as well?

All of these questions revolve around love; they all show pride and egocentric behavior. With just a little self-awareness, more people could really make a difference. This might sound lovey-dovey and naive, but think about it. Everything we do in life has a domino effect on our surroundings, which then affects other people, etc. Selfish acts or mindsets are like poison to our families, our friends and coworkers, and even that person on facebook you've never met but just have to be superior over.

Take non-committal individuals. I'm talking about the people who refuse to commit to a specific person - not necessarily those who haven't found their mate yet. (By no means should you commit to someone who's no good for you.) It's frustrating to see relationships and "love" be abused by people who are only using each other. Saying that titles or "labels" aren't needed or wouldn't make a difference is pointless, because - if no difference would happen, then just admit you're boyfriend/girlfriend (or dating, or engaged, or whatever it is), instead of having a vague, undefined relationship that holds neither person accountable. Committing to a relationship does offer potential risk and hurt. But if you're taking the time to be with someone, isn't it worth the risk? If not, why are you still together?

By embracing what you have with another person and cultivating that relationship, you're honoring each other as an individual and as a whole person - instead of using them for whatever area you might need at the time.

Forgiving people for past wrongs is the most cathartic and loving step one could take for a better life. By doing so, we give others a second chance, which we all desperately need from someone or another. Think about a time you might have messed up. Imagine if the person you offended saw that one mistake as everything. Even though you believe you can do so much better, they have already written you off. A look that wasn't directed at them, a tone that was the cause of something entirely different than your conversation, a reaction to something you said that they took the wrong way, a complete misunderstanding of your words...

All of those things can ruin chances of friendships or put walls between people.

Do you always say the right thing, 100% of the time? Have you never messed up? Have you never said anything dumb? Have you always been 100% clear in your meanings, instructions, and tone?

Unless you can honestly say yes (and even if you can), it's unreasonable to hold others at such a standard. If we are always quick to blame others for problems, we are always going to see problems in others. For example, sometimes I get very frustrated with my toddler for her behavior. Why is she throwing her books instead of sitting there nicely reading them? Why is she whining for a popsicle when she just finished one?

I can get all snappy telling her, "Don't do this" or "Stop doing that" and increase our frustration with each other.  It's not until I take a look at myself and refocus my attention that Little Olive's behavior improves too. That's not to say she won't ever be a typical toddler, but so many of her "annoyances" are either caused or at least, not helped, by me.

Take some time today to realize it takes two to tango...and do your part to make things work!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Read My Interview on "The Baby Habit"

Who's excited? I am - I am!

I was interviewed for a website called "The Baby Habit" and it was posted today! Head on over and check it out. Click here. :)

I hope everyone's having a relaxing day. Life is good right now. My body played a fun trick on me Sunday night, sending me some symptoms that very much resembled the start of Little Olive's labor two years ago. But alas, nothing happened further. There's still some time before Baby Number Two makes his/her arrival!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Movies With My Daughter

I always like to see what things change or stay the same as we grow older. Take Cinderella, for example. When I was younger, one of my favorite parts of the movie was when the pumpkin turned into the carriage. The way the pumpkin vines swirled into the wheels, and then the orange vegetable just sprung up into a shimmering white coach blew me away. I almost felt like the glitter and sparkles would fall right out of the tv and settle into my hands.

Something that has changed, though, is I now understand exactly everything that is going on in the movies. For example, Cinderella never said, "No matter how your heart is beating, if you keep on bereaving." The correct words are "grieving" and "believing." But up until a few months ago, I had no idea. Watching the movies as an adult makes me realize I seriously missed so much. Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book -- there is so much you discover after being away from them for 10 years!

My husband insisted on having a quality Disney movie collection for Little Olive. He started stocking up on VHS's at the thrift stores. Why spend $20 on a dvd when you can get a decent tape for $1? Though he claims L.O. is his "Spartan Warrior/Tom Boy", he still wanted her to have a few princess movies. Totally cute, I tell you. She's a little too obsessed with the Lion King right now, so we're introducing The Jungle Book (hilarious how she says "Moe-ghee") and Beauty and the Beast. The only one we're missing right now is Robin Hood, which, in my personal opinion, is one of the greatest Disney animation movies - ever!

What are some movies/words that you finally understood as an adult, despite watching them all your childhood?

One Year Ago Today

In memory of 9-11, I think today's prompt is more than appropriate. It's making us reflect on the past. Today marked the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, and people need to be reminded of what happened that day. One year ago today, I don't think I put much thought into this whole thing. I'm ashamed to admit that, but I've learned from it too.

I think people are quick to forget. If it's not hot news, they're onto something else. Or in the name of peace and unity, people would just rather hold hands and smile.

They would rather leave God out of the picture, writing "Bless America" on flags being sold at Wal Mart instead of embracing their faith and using it to bring us closer together. (Why does God ever have to be excluded?)

I'm sure many priests did the same as mine this weekend at Mass. He talked about forgiveness and moving forward. We are told to forgive again and again - no matter how many times we've been wronged. But forgiveness is something we must do - forgetting is something we should never do. What a dishonor it would be to all who died 10 years ago to forget about them. To forget about how they died. Yes, it might make us uncomfortable to face the facts of history, but we cannot rewrite them just to make us feel better.

Even if we were not personally affected by the events of September 11th, some of us are still dealing with the emotions of witnessing what happened that day. What are some ways you are trying to forgive and remember at the same time?

For me, I've found comfort in praying for specific people or groups of people. The flight attendants. The mothers in the towers. The janitors in the pentagon. The cooks in the restaurants of the WTC. And then all their families. It makes it more real to me...instead of just summarizing everyone together.

May God bless them all.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Make a statement

How excited do you think I am right now? Quite excited. I have two reasons:

1) I'm going out to dinner with my husband tonight. We've had two gift cards to this particular place for almost a year...I think it's high time we use them! I can't wait for some good food. I can't wait to spend some time with him. It'll be fun to have a few dates before the baby arrives.

2) The business cards for my Etsy shop came in!

Come on, aren't they cute? Simple and colorful. Just what I wanted. If you'd like one, I'll actually give you two: so you can give one away and help me spread the word!

Business cards aren't the only way to get your message out there. Making a statement can be done in a variety of ways - from very subtle to loud and proud! You could put your logo or quote on a keychain, a bumper sticker, a water bottle, or by using amsterdam tradeshow giveaways. (I'm partial to the pack of crayons on pg. 3).

When Little Olive was born, we were given a large vinyl sign for our front porch that read, "It's a girl!" It was so sweet, with pastel pinks and little bears. This time around, we just might do it again! Only, I can't really plan till after the baby maybe we'll pass! (Another reason why next time, we're finding out the gender!) ;)

What would be your message and product of choice if you were to get something customized?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What I'm Up To Today

The other day I mentioned that the only thing frustrating about not knowing whether this baby is a boy or girl is the fact that I have to prepare two wardrobes - one blue/green, the other, pink and purple.

Oh, did I not mention that?

Well, it's true. I can't get past it! It seems like such a waste of water, energy, and detergent to do several unnecessary loads of laundry. But there's not much I can do about it. I'm not dressing my boy in flowers, and my baby girl is not going to wear dinosaurs (however cute they may be) her first days out of the womb. I'm not an OCD parent, but there is a line I draw.

So while I'm at it, I decided to move all of Little Olive's clothes up to her big girl bedroom. Until today they've still been in our room. But now that's where the new baby's will be! And wow, just another thing to add to my emotions. It was very bittersweet. I filled her dresser with a few summer outfits to hold her out a few more warm days, but then I took out some beautiful fall/winter hand-me-downs and added those too. I realized I had been given a couple winter coats. Though they both say the same size, one looks much larger than the other. I should probably hang onto them both just in case Little Olive has a growth spurt in January.

It's just that preparing for Little Olive's arrival was a breeze. We were ready with everything, and everything had a place. This time, I must find room for two of everything. There are boxes scattered around the house of things I may or may not need. I like being organized and I just don't feel like I am now.

So here's what I've decided: next time, we're 1) finding out the gender and 2) finding out the gender.

(Oh, and if you're tempted to say, "Just relax, the baby isn't going to care what he/she is wearing once they arrive" - doh, just be quiet. I appreciate your comforting thoughts, but I can bet you in 10 years when the child looks back on their newborn pictures, they will be like, "Mom, why am I wearing boy clothes?"

"Because you didn't care back then and apparently neither did I."

You see? It simply doesn't work. I just have to be prepared!)

I'm off to make some hot chocolate (maybe I'll add two packets just because) and be happy! :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Family Time

I'm 36 weeks pregnant! Knowing I gave birth the day I turned 37 weeks with Little Olive has put me in such a torn mindset. In one way, I would love to have our baby next Monday! On the other hand, I could also wait a few more weeks. Nevertheless, I have to be ready. So I've been busy preparing for our home birth by getting all the supplies together. Yesterday I put a few newborn outfits in the box - and washed a few more for each gender. The last thing I want to worry about once the baby arrives is not having any clean laundry ready for him/her!

I've been finishing up some projects for my Etsy shop too. I made a baby quilt and some more baby wipes. It will probably be my last listings for several months! (At least, that's what I anticipate.) I also finished my Halloween costume - have I told you what it's going to be? I'll be a spider web, and the new baby will be the spider! I figure he/she will still be so tiny and need to be with me a lot, and what a better way to have a good excuse than for our costumes to need each other!

Last Halloween we were in Disney with my husband's family. Little Olive was a turtle - she was so cute. The vacation was four days, and it was a lot of fun! We stayed at the Caribbean Hotels - Martinique, to be specific. While the Disney parks really highlighted the Halloween weekend, we actually came home on the 31st, just in time for a nap and then trick-or-treating. Halloween is actually one of my favorite holidays, and I cannot wait to trick-or-treat with both of my kids this year! I want it to be very special and fun. Little Olive has a cute princess costume (that I got on clearance last year), so maybe she and Ian can be the Prince and Princess together. How cute would that be!

And while we await our baby's arrival, we're trying to have lots of family time. Yesterday we used a gift card to go out to lunch. I was worried Little Olive would be a bear (seeing as she only took a short, little nap), but it was so enjoyable! She was thrilled about her chocolate milk and french fries. (Little kids are so easily pleased sometimes!). Ian and I decided that every weekend, we will plan for a dinner/date out alone to bide the time. I'm really excited! Especially since we don't know exactly when Baby will come, we at least know something fun will happen every weekend!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Great Wolf Lodge

Sometimes when I watch my husband play with our daughter or other youngsters, I can't help but think he is still such a kid at heart. He can be such a goof - and we wonder where Little Olive gets it. Just yesterday he was reading "Green Eggs and Ham" in a silly cartoon voice. It was making me laugh, but L.O. just stared at him the whole time with a humored smile across her face. Later in the day, she pulled out the book and just kept repeating, "Ah Sam I Am, ah Sam I Am..." over and over, shaking her head as my husband had done.

He's really great at thinking up fun activities for kids. It's probably because he feels so connected to them. It's a true gift. Last night we were watching one of our favorite shows "Chopped" where the winning contestant said he took his family to Disney with his $10,000 prize. We couldn't imagine spending so much on a few days. Unless it was non-stop fun! Such as...the largest indoor water park- The Great Wolf Lodge. With several locations across the country, we could easily drive and save on flights. I think Ian would have a blast at such a place.

Well, at least it's nice to write about! :)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Big Deals

"You just have to let it go."

"Just get over it."

"It's not as big of a deal as you'll be fine."

Have you ever been told one of those things? If the answer is yes, has it ever made you want to sock the person in the nose? If the answer is also yes, I hope you'll take something positive away from this post today.

I understand the reasoning behind such advice. Holding onto grudges or past offenses will never do any good. It actually has been shown to be detrimental to one's health, causing stress-related problems throughout the mind and body. The suggestion to "let it go" is well-meant, but easier said than done. And that's because something has truly upset you, and it's not easy to just "get over it." Our feelings are real. They're not just words being told to someone, or expressions showing on a face. They are real.

There are some things I've learned that really help me deal with emotional upsets:

1) Know your source. It's a lot easier taking things with a grain of salt when you know the person from which they come. A wishy-washy friend who has let you down numerous times in the past? Recognize that they will probably do the same in the future. Guard yourself against potential upsets in the future by not expecting them to be perfect - accept them for who they are. This is not lowering your standards or giving up on them. This is realizing that you cannot change or control them, and you have to learn your lesson after a while.

2) Do something with your hurt. It might be easy to let things go when Miss Wishy Washy is involved, but what about a close family member? Or someone in whom you've put a lot of trust and hope? That sinks in much worse. Here's what I try to do when that happens.

Talk about it. If you have someone who will listen, talk. Having someone understand you and just listen means more than anyone trying to fix the problem. Do realize, however, that if you go to the same person, and they notice a pattern, they just might tell you so honestly. This isn't what you're going to want to hear. But just as they listen to you, listen to them.

Find another way to express your feelings. It's going to sound girly, but writing things in a notebook, a journal, or even typing it out where you can see it in front of you helps. I've noticed that if something is bothering me, and I "make a big deal out of it", suddenly it seems okay. If I can say whatever I want without being judged, I usually see a different viewpoint fold out in front of me.

Write a public blog about the problem. This is especially helpful and vindictive if you know the person involved will read it. Be sure not to mention specific names, but instead be passive aggressive and vague. (Also know you will have to take this down after a few minutes when guilt and a better conscience steps in.)

Create a sign. If you feel especially creative, create a few banners and display them all around town. "You can't stay in my head, forever!" with a silly cartoon would be amusing. Or "I'll breastfeed in public if I want to" would be especially fulfilling.

If you could do the last step, what would your banner say? :)

How To Make Your Own Butter

The other day I found a great tutorial on making your own butter at home, using a jar and a marble. I was pretty excited and decided this would be a fun activity for my little 21 month old toddler and I. Of course, I didn't bookmark the page. But I remember a lot from it - as well as when my Mom used to make butter when I was a youngster.

Most people use heavy cream right from the store. I used the heavy cream that floated to the top of our raw milk. It was easily accessed by my turkey baster.

I carefully took as much cream as possible from the top of the jar. When it started to become more "liquid", I figured I was hitting the milk underneath and stopped.

I got about a full cup of cream into my new glass jar. I then dropped a marble into the milk and tightened the lid. It was time to make butter! You do this by shaking the jar up and down, left and right, all over. The marble is there to help you determine how thick the butter is becoming.

The directions I read online said that using a glass jar is risky because it could crack from the marble flying around. I decided to remedy this by wrapping the glass jar in a towel to offer more protection.

It made sense at the time...

I shook the jar for about 10 minutes before inspecting it and noticing a small crack. Oh bugger.

When I opened the lid to change containers, I noticed the milk was already separating into butter!

I switched over to a plastic container and shook the milk for about 5 more minutes. My triceps were starting to burn at that point. Little Olive had abandoned the activity back when I was turkey basting the heavy cream out, so I had been on my own for a while.

When I could no longer hear the marble moving around, I opened up the lid - and there was butter!

I poured off the buttermilk into a separate container, added some salt, mixed it up, and voila!

It's quite yummy. It's much more dark and flavorful than the store bought kind. I added it to some eggs and toast today, and I must say I felt quite like Laura Ingalls out on the prairie.

You don't ever need the marble for this project. It's probably better if you don't, especially if you're using a glass jar.

You can also put the milk in a blender or food processor for faster results.

I also remember "kneading" the extra buttermilk out when making butter with my mom, but I wasn't sure how to do this. If I find out, I'll come back for an edit. :)