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 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, 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 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!