Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zoo and Zero

Wow, folks! We've reached the end. There are zero days left in the A-Z Challenge. Thanks for stopping by and following all the 26 posts of the month. I've really enjoyed connecting with everyone and finding new, awesome blogs. I thought this was a really great idea. If you're ever stuck on what to write for your blog, go through the alphabet. It's a fun way to think up new ideas.

I'm closing the challenge on an easy note, using someone pictures I took of zoo animals. I'll be back in a few days. Have a wonderful weekend!

Funny meerkat

Lazy monkey

Majestic and blurry all in one
Elephant from the safari ride in Animal Kingdom

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for You Might be an Exceptional Parent

Are you an Exceptional Parent? You might be if...

1. You make the best decisions, all the time.

2. You know everything there is to know about everything. You don't need anyone's advice - ever, even if you ask for it. You were just being nice.

3. You make sure everyone knows how well you know your child, and that no one else does. It's important everyone's on the same page about this matter.

4. You make sure everyone knows that anything bad your child does is clearly from an outside influence (specifically those other kids). You had nothing to do with it.

5. You know anything good your child does is a reflection of you and your amazing parenting skills.

6. You know that when your child misbehaves, it's not because she's being bad or typical. It's because your child is so incredibly advanced, and she just continues to outsmart everyone - which is something she learned from you.

7. You feel sad for those people who make any parenting choices that differ from yours. How unfortunate.

8. You let others know how amazing your children are. This is actually a nice, gentle way to showcase your abilities as a parent. You are careful to word your boasts so they don't sound like competition, but just friendly conversation.

9. You know how hard it is being an exceptional parent. Sometimes you have to let others know just how stressed out you are. It's just not as easy as they think!

10. You are feeling slightly uncomfortable by now. ;)

Congratulate an Exceptional Parent today!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for X Chromosome

"My husband is so stupid. 
Why, if he were lying face down he wouldn't have sense enough to turn his head to breathe. 
That's why I do his thinking for him."
-Brian Regan, Epitome of Hyperbole

I would like to spend a little time today addressing the female population and a common occurrence among them: bashing their husbands, boyfriends, or men in general.

I often wonder why women insist on doing this. Whether it's to their faces, behind their backs, or in front of family/friends, I see it all the time. Women bash their men. I really can't understand it.

Oh, I know what you're thinking, But men are jerks! Trust me, I know.

Trust me, I know too. We've all been there. We've all been with or known that guy who definitely was not Mr. Right. We've all seen the guy who couldn't commit to one girl even if he was given a million dollars. We've all seen the guy who uses women. We've all seen the guy who lies, cheats, or is abusive or mean.

But news flash: girls do all that too. (Uhh...grumble grumble, no they don't.) Girls can be just as shady, hard to read, dishonest, backstabbing, etc. It's not like women are perfect angels who always make sense and never mistakes, and men are the evil population we all have to be wary of. It's actually really embarrassing being around a woman who takes every opportunity to put her man down. Even if she's trying to make it a joke, it's really not funny. It's awkward.

Now, I totally think there's a difference between doing what I just described above vs. innocently teasing your significant other. I'm married to a great guy (<-- post about him, if you care to read) who made my jaw drop at the difference. Before him, I had been around guys who would "jokingly" put me down, laugh their butts off, and wonder why I didn't think they were the most hilarious human beings to ever walk the earth.

But when Ian and I started hanging out, I was actually shocked by how different teasing could be. He would tease me to make me laugh, not anyone else. He really does have a great sense of humor, and it's great being around someone who is truly funny, trying to make me smile. ("Bacon??" lol)

And at the same time, I understand: your S.O. isn't perfect. I get it. No one is. I could sit here and complain about how Ian insists on living only by candlelight after 7pm, or how he brushes his teeth in the dark, so as to not throw off his circadian rhythm. Or that he reads through my blogs, calling out corrections while I'm tidying the house. And how he will probably be doing so when he reaches this point in today's blog. (You don't have to, darling; I'm just exaggerating.)

Take a little time today to be 100% grateful for your husband, boyfriend, fiance, etc. Stop bashing your men. It doesn't make you look like a strong woman - it actually has the opposite effect.

::steps down off the soap box::

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Ways to Piss Off a Pregnant Woman

Pardon my French. I usually say "tick off" but the article title says the "p" word, hence I allow myself to be manipulated into repeating it.

So...yes, the article!

Definitely check this out, 10 Ways to Piss Off a Pregnant Woman. It is hilarious! I can't even pick a favorite one. They're all so true. As a pregnant momma myself, I've started to hear these same things. Granted, it's not as bad as it was the first time around with Little Olive. Number 8, for example, has been the big one. People comment on how big or small they think I am already. At 17 weeks, I admit I am not as enormous as I was with L.O. (But maybe I'm just carrying differently. Or maybe this baby doesn't have legs. That would affect her/his size, right?) People ask when my due date is and then start calculating in their heads how big I really should be by now. They then assume I have my conception date wrong...I mean, who can trust a young mom to know about things like that anyway?

I'm actually telling the truth. With my first pregnancy, people said I got my conception date wrong...or that I thought I got a period when I really didn't. (Oh, I'm serious.) After all, how could a healthy, 8lb baby be born three weeks early!? Um...the same way a healthy 11lb baby can be born at full term. And maybe because I ate like a horse my entire pregnancy.

How do I feel about Number 10 (touching a pregnant belly)? I don't mind too much. If you're family or friend, it's probably okay - just ask first, or else I might just reach out and touch yours so we're equal. If you're a stranger/creeper, it's probably not okay.

Number 7 is really good. "Just wait until the baby comes." Because after that your. life. is. over. I see this in all situations, not just pregnancy. It almost seems like people don't want you to be happy! Or maybe they can't be happy until they make sure you're as miserable as they are.

"I'm so excited to get married!"
Just wait till you're sick of your husband.

"I can't wait to graduate and get a real job!"
You say that now. In a year you'll be wishing you were a kid again.

"I'm loving this sunshine!"
Seriously? I am way too hot.

"I bought a new car today! It's awesome."
Now watch your insurance rates skyrocket. 

"Yes! New cell phone. Totally excited."
Keep it away from the baby or else they'll puke on it.

"Look at this picture of my cute child."
...What is she WEARING?

"I'm actually getting along with the dog! Hooray."
No, you're not. You're lying. 

This is what I got when
typing"glass half full"
into google images.
They're so creative.
I once heard a great piece of advice. It came from a class at my community college (my favorite college ever!). My teacher told us it was important to find happiness in whatever area of life we happen to be. You couldn't think the grass would be greener on the other side. You couldn't depend on another stage of your life making you happier. "When the semester's done, everything will be perfect." Naturally, students feel stress during their school year and relief when it's over. That's normal. But it's about enjoying life at every stage while you can, not just waiting for it to get better. You have to make that happen yourself.

So if you notice someone being optimistic about life, don't squash their happiness simply because you're miserable.

If you notice someone being optimistic, learn from them! The glass can be half full. They can find the bright side of things. There's always a silver lining.

Your job today is to pass along a positive, hopeful, happy piece of life. You can do it, I promise. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Vaccines

Several people have asked me to share my views and findings on vaccines. I am starting this post off by saying if you don't want to read this, you don't have to. I'm not here to start a debate or make anyone feel bad for vaccinating. This can be a very controversial topic, and I'm trying to present it in a peaceful way. However, the reason it's controversial is because it involves parents making decisions about the health of our children. When we're emotionally involved, it's easy to get defensive, or make judgements about what other people are doing/have done. For the most part, I am 99% positive in our decision. The 1% of uncertainty is there because I still am researching and looking for answers. To better understand where I'm coming from before reading this post, you might want to check out a previous post on this topic. Otherwise, read on. :)

I've gathered most of this information from various sources. I wrote this post over several months, so unfortunately I didn't think to cite every piece of information as I went along. For that, I apologize. But I can tell you where I got everything:

Mothering Magazine Vaccine Debate Article
Dr. Tenpenny's website and DVDs
Informed Choice
Continued research, reading, practice, and understanding of homeopathy.
The Vaccine Book, by Dr. Sears
Aluminum Article by Dr. Sears (read in Mothering Magazine)

Vaccines in general:

1) The first reason why I don't vaccinate is because I believe that the body has a natural way of healing itself when faced with an illness. Let a fever run its course, instead of giving Tylenol to break it. Let a cough bring up mucus from the lungs, instead of giving a cough suppressant. I also think good sleep, a sound nutritional diet, and healthy vitamins are a great way to prevent sicknesses. That being said, the body simply can't fight off everything that comes along. If it could, no one would have ever died from diseases - no one would ever get sick, period. It's necessary to treat illnesses, but how we do so is where many people differ. I want to treat the illness - when it happens. My first choice for medicine is homeopathy. Homeopathy activates the body's healing process. In order for it to work quickly, it helps if the body is as "pure" as possible...meaning that, no drugs, prescriptions, medications, vaccines, etc. are in the system. This brings me to my second point.

2) The ingredients in vaccines are not pure, nor should they be anywhere near our bodies. Some questionable ingredients include: thimerosal (which is mercury based), aluminum, formaldehyde, and cells from aborted babies. These are only a few of the ones that alarm me. They do not belong in our bodies - no matter how small the amount, and no matter how the manufacturers try to defend their place in vaccines. I am not okay with aborted baby cells being injected into my baby's body. Ian and I both are equally opposed to abortion and see this as morally wrong, as well as disgusting. 

3) Injected shots are not the most effective way to become immune to a disease. Inhalation or ingestion triggers the body's natural defense mechanisms. However, injections, instead of only creating an antibody, then cause the antibody to attack good parts of our bodies. This is because the antibody gets bored in our system, and with no disease to fight off, it finds other things to do. 

4) Vaccines came into play well after deadly diseases began dying down. If you look at a timeline of when vaccines were introduced, many diseases were already so close to being eradicated. But people think that vaccines were the reason. Instead, better living conditions, better sewage systems, clean water, and overall health can be credited for the decrease in illness.  

5) Perhaps this is a more cynical reason for being against vaccines, but I really do not trust the vaccine companies. Vaccines are a multi-billion dollar business, and they create products which keep us coming back for more. Vaccines need boosters. That's another doctor's visit. That's another trip to a place where only sick people should go. Not a place where you bring your 4 month old because they need their Hep B booster! Also, vaccine manufacturers are protected, meaning if a vaccine causes harm to a child, you can't hold the vaccine people accountable. Doesn't that seem odd? And if you think our government is out there to protect us from all things bad, think again. Dr. Sheri Tenpenny's Facebook Page has almost daily updates on different states restricting families abilities to decline vaccines, or claim exemptions from them. In a country where we should be free to make our own decisions based on what's best for our families, the government is making this harder and harder. 

7) Vaccines are causing us to need new vaccines. We took a harmless childhood illness, chicken pox, and made it out to be this horrible disease. They created a vaccine for it so children wouldn't get sick for a week of their lives. Now that less children are being infected, adults who had chicken pox as children (and survived!), are not being exposed to their necessary and natural "boosters." So now, when the rare case of chicken pox comes around, the adults are at risk for shingles, which is much more serious than a childhood case of chicken pox. So they've created a new vaccine for shingles! Not to mention, the guilt placed on parents when they don't want to vaccinate their children. "If you don't, you could infect an adult and get them incredibly sick." We're on this vicious cycle because we're not letting the body get what it needs.

8) Side effects and beyond: Remember that horrible, British guy, Andrew Wakefield, who said that there's a connection between autism and vaccines? Well, actually, he didn't say that. Watch the video I just linked and see for yourself. There ARE people, however, who do make such a claim. They also include seizures, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, etc. in their claims. I'm still learning about this, so I can't comment with certainty. However, metals such as aluminum and mercury have been shown to cause brain damage, and there is a definite link between Alzheimer's and aluminum. Would I be surprised if autism and vaccines were related? No. Do I know for sure they are? No. All I can say is that any side effect, whether it's a high fever, a week of vomiting, a week of intense screaming from the baby, seizures, or soreness, should not be ignored or accepted as "perfectly normal." The time of sickness after a vaccine can be equated to the time your child would have been sick if they just came down with the measles. No side effect is okay with me. Not to mention, now the body has to deal with all the vaccine ingredients floating around inside of the body, looking for something to do.

9) Herd immunity: people consider non-vax families somewhat selfish. We don't vaccinate because of the risks, but then we depend on everyone else to stay healthy so our children are safe. This is not my mindset. If every family in the world decided to not vaccinate, I would not blame them, and I would not be afraid that my child is not being "immune by the herds". If vaccinating families think vaccines work, have no harmful side effects or ingredients, are 100% necessary, then it should not bother them that other people do not vaccinate. If my kid comes down with rotavirus, guess what? Your kid is protected because of all the vaccines he received. Right? But sadly, we already know that children who have been vaccinated still come down with those very illnesses. 

10) And that's because vaccines wear off. Or they don't work. Or both. We vaccinate our children for pertussis but by the time they're adults, the immunization has lost its effectiveness. Adults carry around whooping cough and spread it to children. Even children carry it. That's because the pertussis vaccine doesn't prevent people from the sickness - it diminishes the symptoms. So yes, you could say the vaccine offers protection, but it doesn't offer immunity, nor does it stop the disease from spreading. 

11) As long as my children do not attend day care, their risk for diseases is already reduced. Day cares are swarming with germs and sickness. It's not that they are bad places, but you put 100+ kids in a building, all day, every day, and the germs have no where to go. Day cares are also places where anti-bacterials are used like it's nobody's business. This creates stronger bacteria and stronger illnesses. (For the record, we don't use anti-bacterials in our home.)

12) Breastfeeding reduces the risk of childhood illnesses. I could go on forever about how much a child is protected while breastfeeding, but this information is already prevalent. Just to summarize: breastfeeding your baby IS best! If you can do it, definitely go for it! 

13) I have a feeling that if a child were to get ahold of a vaccine and drink the liquid, we'd freak out. Poison control would be called and the child would get very sick. Why is it still okay to inject it into their muscles?

14) I'm not saying that un-vax children are perfect and healthy, but vaccinated children still get sick. They still get colds, flus, ear aches, pneumonia, digestive issues, fevers, etc. etc. Vaccinating does not guarantee an illness-free life. People do die from the sicknesses I just mentioned (save colds and ear aches). Vaccines do not protect you from everything. Nor is there a vaccine for every illness out there. Vaccinated children could still die from another deadly disease. 

15) "God made dirt and dirt don't hurt." There's wisdom and health benefits of letting your child play outside, get dirty, eat sand, eat food off the floor, etc. That makes me sound like a neglectful mother, but my point is - some germs are good for kids. Being exposed to germs helps the body's immune system to get stronger and tougher. Not to mention, being outside exposes them to fresh air and sunlight - two things that aid the body's overall health. So make your kids play outside! 

16) Whether a baby is born at 5lbs or 11lbs, the same vaccines are given. The same amount of chemicals are injected into a child whether their weight is doubled another child's. This is scary to me. Is such an amount safe for one child's body, but too much for another?

17) I feel as though non-vax is the "safer route" - in my opinion. By actively injecting my child with a vaccine, I am doing something to change their health. By refusing vaccines, I can always do something later on.

Vaccines specifically:

At the start of my research, several diseases/illnesses really scared me. I mention which ones they are as I go along. When I say I "almost got" a vaccine for one of the diseases, I mean that it scared me enough to seriously consider a vaccine. At this time, those diseases still scare me, but I have done much research to know that, at this time, I still think it is best to not vaccinate. 

Hepatitis B
: The way a baby could catch this is if he/she is sexually active or using dirty needles. Since no baby I've heard of does these things, I think this is a pointless vaccine. If the mother is infected, it would be another story.

: This can be a very serious case of digestive issues, resulting in diarrhea, which can then lead to dehydration. But at the same time, children can get dehydrated very easily - from other things too. The most important thing is to be vigilant about sanitary measures in your home, and to keep your child hydrated.

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis

Tetanus - this is scary because it leads me to think of rusty nails, lock jaw, paralysis, and death. However, good cleaning of an injury, and an emergency room visit (at worst) would take care of any deep wound. A good tip is to just let the wound bleed a lot to get any germs out. The body bleeds for a reason; let it work. 
Pertussis - I have to admit, out of all the diseases, this is one of the scariest for me. Especially for young babies, whose lungs are really not strong enough to fight this on its own. At the same time, there are several very tried and true homeopathic remedies which treat whooping cough with efficiency and gentleness. And the pertussis vaccine is very controversial and shown to be ineffective. The scarier the disease does not equate the justification of a vaccine that doesn't work. 
Diphteria - It is so uncommon in the US I don't know why we vaccinate here anymore. If we were to travel to a country where it was prevalent, I would reconsider. 

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib): This disease is also one that makes me it can lead to meningitis, which is no funny business. However, this is a treatable disease, and breastfed babies not in day care are at very low risk. It is most dangerous to children two and under, so if you're breastfeeding at those ages, are out of day care, the child is strongly protected. It is treatable with remedies, but if desperate, antibiotics. 

Pneumococcal: This is one I definitely almost got for my daughter before I started researching vaccines, since it is common and dangerous. But again, breastfeeding, out of day care, and remedies are great defenses to this disease. 

Polio: There are no cases in the U.S., although I do realize it is still in other areas of the world. I wasn't around during the time that Polio was, which might add to my confidence about declining this vaccine. I do not dismiss the fact that it was a serious diseases; however, I think if people came down with Polio now, we could treat it better than we did 40-50 years ago. I also know of people who had Polio, and who came out of it just fine. Not everyone who gets it knows they have it, or even get seriously sick. Some cases did cause paralysis, but only a few of those were actually permanent. I'm not trying to say it's not a serious sickness, but I think the fear can lead us to make choices that are maybe not the best. 

Influenza: Honestly, I've gotten the flu every year of my life. You feel like crap for a few days, get the chills, feel achey, and REST. Then, you get better. I know some people die from the flu, and I'm not ignoring that. But I'm talking about your otherwise healthy children. With good care, you can get better. 

Measles, Mumps, Rubella:
Measles - Measles can lead to pneumonia and encephilitis. However, doctors openly admit those complications arise almost exclusively in malnourished, or immune-weakened people. Every symptom of measles (from the rash to the cough) can point you to the right homeopathic remedy. 
Mumps - In serious cases, this can lead to meningitis. In most cases, people do not even know they've had mumps. Again, treating the symptoms can cure this illness.
Rubella - This is a very harmless disease to anyone who catches it. The harm, however, is directed at an unborn child if a pregnant women comes down with rubella. We feel compelled as parents to vaccinate our children so they don't infect pregnant mothers. What our doctors don't tell us, though, is that once a person has rubella, they have life-long immunity. So if a girl gets the disease at any age, she has no need to worry about her unborn baby when she's pregnant - no matter who is sick around her.

Varicella (chicken pox): A childhood illness that requires oatmeal baths and soothing lotion. A vaccine for this is the silliest thing I've ever heard. Seriously. 

Hepatitis A: A disease which can cause liver failure...but, why are we vaccinating 12 year olds for a disease they could get from having sex with multiple partners or from using needles for drugs? I understand kids are going to do things, but pumping them full of vaccines at 12 years old is like saying, "Don't do these things, BUT if you do, at least you're protected." How about, "Don't do these things because they're wrong and have negative consequences"? 

Meningococcal: Single dose at 11 years. If I had dormed at a college, I would have gotten this. Living in such close quarters and possibly sharing personal items puts students at risk for this disease. If at 18 years old, my kids will dorm, I'd be okay with them getting this vaccine. But not at 11 years old. 

More thoughts:

I've heard that our generation has no fear since we don't see diseases anymore. That we're naive and putting our children at risk because we're ignorant. I would just like to set the record straight: I would never do this if I thought I was putting my child at risk. My child means more to me than absolutely anything and everything. I would gladly change my mind if down the road we find out this isn't the best decision. My pride is not the most important thing here. I'm doing this because I love my little girl so much...and I want only what's best for her.

That being said, I would have had a much harder time coming to this decision if it wasn't for homeopathy. We have a wonderful local homeopath who not only takes care of us when we're desperate, but who also encourages us to learn and educate ourselves in this alternative medicine so that we can take care of ourselves and our families. If I hadn't already seen for over a decade how effective, gentle, and safe homeopathy was, I'd be nervous putting my trust in it. 

If I gave my children these vaccines, and something happened to them, I would never forgive myself. I could never change my would be too late. On the other hand, if they come down with a disease, I could do all in my power to heal them. 

People say, "I was vaccinated, and I was fine." I'm one of those people! But the amount of vaccines that any of us received as children are far less than what kids receive now. Girls receive slightly more than boys, but even if boys receive all the recommended vaccines throughout their childhood, they will be exposed to 144 vaccine antigens and 42 shots. On the flip side, I bet there are just as many people out there who can say, "I had measles, and I was fine," or "I had chicken pox, and I was fine."

If my child was immune-compromised, they probably wouldn't be able to handle any form of a disease. I would take a different look at vaccines. I am thankful my child is okay in this area. It's ironic, though, that vaccines are recommended for the weak, seeing as formaldehyde (an ingredient in many vaccines) is known to weaken the immune system.

There are "pro-vax" people out there who will tell you until they're blue in the face that "Vaccines are safe, vaccines are safe, vaccines are safe." They will deny any link between vaccines and harmful side effects, deaths, or change in the child. They claim there is no scientific data to back up such claims. But what about the thousands of parents' testimonies who swear their child acted differently the day after getting a certain shot? How many times have we heard, "Bobby was a normal, happy, healthy baby. The next day after his vaccinations, he wouldn't make eye contact, he stopped talking, he screamed and cried more." It's unfortunate (for lack of a better word) that story after story is not enough "evidence" to show that something may be wrong with these vaccines!

I also have a huge issue with high-up, pro-vax people saying, "Vaccines save children's lives - that's why I'm in this field." (It couldn't possibly be for the money, could it?) You know what I think? That's not good enough. Do not pump my child full of chemicals, month after month, so that you can be rich. Don't inject my child with monkey/chicken/cow/aborted baby cells to "protect" them from a rare disease. Don't inject my child with harmful metals just so the vaccine works a little better. For me and my kids, it is the process, not the product, that counts. I want my child to be as healthy as possible. I want my child to be thriving, not just surviving. 

I also want to say that there are other areas of our life that we take precautions to prevent disasters. We lock medicine away so that children won't get into it; we don't vaccinate for overdoses of Tylenol. We put scissors up high so children don't cut themselves; we don't wrap their bodies in band-aids ahead of time. We put floaties on young children when we're in the pool; drowning happens all the time, but we don't stop our children from swimming. And car accidents are absolutely horrible; they could happen in a blink of an eye, and children do die from car accidents. But parents still take their child out with them, despite the facts, despite the risk, despite the statistics. But do you have a safe car seat? Do you make sure your car seat is not expired? Did you buckle them tightly? Did you pay just a little more attention to your driving? Of course. Because even though there's a risk, there's still things we can do to prevent things. Not everything is in our control, but we have to make wise choices. 

After writing all that, I will admit that it is scary. What if we don't catch a disease in time? What if we pick the wrong remedy? What if my child is injured from a disease I could have prevented? What if I went ahead and vaccinated, and nothing bad ever happened to her? These questions are what drive me to continue reading, continue searching, and continue watching dvds - even the ones pro-vaccines. This is not about me, it's about my children. 

What do you think? I welcome your thoughts, other resources, and differing opinions. But before commenting, please remain respectful in your responses. This is a topic where every single person can continue to learn more. Keep that in mind. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Ukrainian Easter Eggs (Pysanky)

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter! I thought my daughter would be the only one with a sugar crash at the end of the day, but I found myself in her shoes as well. With only one week left of the A-Z Challenge, I start this Monday off with my "U" post and a bit of a chocolate bunny headache.

About 11 years ago, a Polish family taught my family how to make Pysanky, Ukrainian Easter Eggs. Also known as "pisanki" or Polish Easter Eggs, this meticulous and beautiful art form can be fun and addicting. We didn't get to it this year, otherwise I would have written it as my "P" post, saving myself from choosing to highlight Polish or Ukrainian. (Don't hate me; it's both!) Nonetheless, enjoy the pictures.

Pysanky involves many steps and little tools that hold melting beeswax. First, you poke a hole in the bottom of the egg and drain everything out (and make a delicious cheese omelette while you're at it). Next, take your little tool (as seen in picture to the right) and cover any part of the egg that you want to stay white. Then, you dye your egg the next lightest color (yellow, or light green/pink for example). Then add more to your design by covering sections in beeswax. You continue doing this, one step at a time, going darker in your colors, until you have completed your design. The egg will look messy, black, and unattractive. This is normal.

Then, you *carefully* remove all the wax with a hair blowdryer, wiping away the black wax with a soft towel. I highlight carefully because too much heat can cause the egg to crack. You don't want this after all your hard work! As the wax melts away, all the colors and designs come through, revealing a beautiful egg.

I found these pictures from Google images, but the blue egg above is the exact design I tried one year! Mine looks a little different. Doing something so precise takes a lot of patience and a steady hand, something I'm not really known for. My pride and joy of an egg is one colored dark green with "Lord of the Rings" designs all over. I even remember writing Legolas' name. It's a gorgeous egg. If I get a picture of it, I'll be sure to post it for you all to see.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Teething

Teething can be such a sad and painful time for a baby. The discomfort they're feeling makes them miserable - I mean, wouldn't you feel the same way if sharp teeth were cutting up through your gums at such a young age? Sure, you might think, but there's always Oragel. I'm not adamantly against Oragel or other medicines that numb the pain. After all, they work. But I am hesitant because they can numb other parts of the mouth, making feeding difficult, or inhibiting their gag reflex. Not always a good thing!

Thankfully, there are several natural options for teething relief.

Boiron Homeopathic Medicine Camilia Teething Relief Single-Use Oral Doses, 20-Count Boxes (Pack of 2)The first is Boiron Homeopathic Camilia. Its main ingredient is the remedy, chamomilla. Have you ever heard of chamomile tea? Known for its relaxing qualities, essentially, chamomilla is a remedy for teething, as it works to ease restlessness, sore gums, and irritability. I went through so many of these packets as Little Olive was starting to teethe. They worked almost immediately, and they were low enough in potency so that I could repeat a dose when needed. I found these at our local grocery store, but you can also find them online, such as on

The next is just plain, old Chamomilla. For those of you who are not being guided by a well-trained homeopath, you can give doses of 12c or 30c. Dissolve 3 tablets in water, and give a teaspoon of the solution to the baby every 4 hours until they're better.

Another idea that my husband and I really liked was wetting washcloths, sticking them in the freezer, and then letting L.O. chew on them to relieve the pain. She loved it.

And then if you want to destine your child to alcoholism, you can always rub whiskey on the gums. Maintaining my title as the Exceptional Parent, I have to say: I prefer a safe remedy any day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Sign Language Baby

Have you ever thought of teaching your baby sign language? I know people have different opinions on this. Oh, what a great idea versus No thanks, I want my kid to actually speak instead.

Signing "again/repeat" when she was young
I'm one who recommends sign language for babies. My husband and I both took classes in college and learned from our friends, but he wins when it comes to fluency. But for anyone who has no background in ASL, don't worry! Teaching a baby doesn't require one to be fluent - at all. Signs are very easy to learn and teach. Start by picking just a few signs to help your child communicate.

The reason I think sign language is so helpful for parents is because babies really understand it. At first they might just mimic your hand motions. But soon they learn that by hearing/seeing "repeat/again," you will play their favorite song again. It encourages them to mimic for a reason, and then be able to ask on their own. Before they are capable of speaking, they will be able to tell you what they want (or at least most of the time).

We started with signs like "more, repeat/again, and all-done". These were helpful when it came to eating table food, listening to music, or taking a bath. We always said the word with the sign, so it never replaced speaking for her. She learned both at the same time, but obviously she couldn't speak them so young.

As she got older, we added more relevant signs to her vocabulary as they were needed. Right now she knows more, please, all-done, thank-you, different, again, music, food, water, drink, milk, book, bowl, bacon, piano, computer, apple, poop (hey, it comes in handy), hungry, thirsty, cereal, happy. 

I'm sure a lot of exceptional parents shy away from communicating through sign language with their advanced child because, well, they simply don't need it. "I already know what my baby wants, even before they try to speak." I know where they're coming an extent. But coming from a stay-at-home mom who is with her kid 24/7, I even think it helps - especially during this babbling stage. Little Olive speaks some words clear as day - but then others I'm so clueless trying to figure out what she means. When she does the sign with it, then it all makes sense. Her spoken word for "music" sounds nothing like it. But when she waves her little hand across her forearm, I know she wants her songs. It's so adorable.

Here is a great link to help you get started or learn more:

I love this because it has videos for each sign and explains how to do it. Give it a try and see how quickly you can pick up some signs!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for "Really, I can handle it."

I have to admit something, I get a little nervous when I think about the baby's arrival. (Oh my gosh, it's 5 months away. Just relax for now.) But it's not about the baby, necessarily. I'm beyond excited for that. But all the joys that come with a newborn are also accompanied by some outside stress. Not sure what I mean? Read on. 

Disagree if you like, but everyone, everyone is such an expert when it comes to parenting. Even those who aren't parents have strong opinions about what works and what doesn't. Whether or not they have had any experience in that particular issue, they already know the answer - and they are always ready to tell you.

Enjoying a moment
last fall
Don't get me wrong. I like when I bring up an issue among family and friends looking for help, "Why won't my baby eat anything besides toast and avocados?" and they offer their views: "Maybe try this," or "With my baby, this really helped." I'm still learning, and I really appreciate some great advice I've been given.

However, I always struggle with unasked-for advice, especially when it does not sit well with my personality or way of parenting. I also struggle with how to tell people, "No, thank you." For example, when Little Olive was brand new and she cried, I wanted her back right away. 

And clearly, this is because I was a horribly controlling mother who had a spazz attack every time my child made the slightest fuss.

Actually no. This is how it went: the sound of her crying tightened every muscle in my body. I could feel my blood pressure rise. I couldn't relax for anything. It's not that I was overreacting - instead, a fresh, necessary, motherly instinct was kicking in right on time. The sound of a baby crying is supposed to make you anxious, because otherwise we'd let our kids cry forever. As someone who has been around babies for almost my entire life, I understood what this felt like. When babies cried at the day care, I couldn't just block it out. When my nieces or nephews cried, we carried them right to their mommies.


But when I became a parent, this reaction was a million times stronger. I didn't just need her to stop crying; I needed her to be okay
 - pronto. But people would try to do it themselves and calm her down. They'd bounce and rock and shush and sing and walk and move farther away from me. Everyone wanted to be the hero! But in my mind, they all became little villains because they were not helping the situation. 

And little did they know that the sound of my baby crying was causing a physical reaction inside me that I couldn't just announce, "Hey everyone, just so you know - my milk is letting down now!" That's right - hearing the sound of a baby crying causes a mother to have a milk letdown, which essentially means fresh milk floods into the breasts, ready to be nursed away. It can be an uncomfortable feeling, especially when the mother is already anxious. I think moms who haven't breastfed in a while, or ever, do not realize this when they're keeping a crying baby away from the mom. (Just as I forgot until reminded by a friend. Thanks, Megan!) 

And I felt like I had to pretend to be okay with the fact that my child was not calming down. I was expected to look like the well-rounded, laid back mom who would brush it off saying, "She's fine. She just nursed...she shouldn't need anything."

But I was not that kind of mom. I just didn't know how to say it. How was I to be respectful of my elders, visitors, peers, and of relatives, but still do what I feel was right as a mother? A few times I had to just take the baby away from whoever was holding her...because apparently my pounding heartbeat and polite requests couldn't be heard by those around me. I felt uncomfortable even having to do it because 1) it made me look like a b*tch, 2) I was aggravated I even had to stand up and remove the child from their arms, and 3) I know they always meant well. They never intended to keep my baby crying; they wanted her to be fine too. After she was snuggled at the breast (whether she had just eaten or not), she was fine. 

I mean no disrespect to the many women who tried to calm Little Olive down. I know they just wanted to help. After all, from their perspective, I was a brand new mom who couldn't have possibly known what I was doing. Older moms especially want to know they "still have it". They wanted to show me the ropes. But unfortunately, when a baby is crying, it's not the time to shine a spotlight on your exceptional parenting skills. It's about doing what's best for the new baby, and if that means giving the baby back to her mother, so be it. Doing that simple thing shows you respect both the new mom and the baby the way you would want to be respected. 

So I'll admit, if I let myself worry about it, I get nervous at the thought of another round of polite "Can have her back for a minute?" requests. I have a feeling I'll have to be much more forward when it comes to this issue for Bambino Two. If other people are annoyed by what I do as a mom, I'm truly sorry, but they are adults and can deal with it. As my mom always said, "They raised their children, and I'm raising mine."

Thank you in advance for your understanding. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Quiet and Quality

I feel like I've been running a lot lately. I started to feel worn down this week; not as if I'm getting sick, but just feeling the need to relax. When I try to squeeze too many visits, errands, or chores in a day, my little pregnant belly starts to grumble. Just go sit down. So today I did. Little Olive surprised me in the afternoon with a wonderfully long nap, giving me more than enough downtime for myself. It's naps like this that have me glancing at the clock, itching for her to wake up. When she did, she was so cute and cuddly.

We had some awesome moments together today. We didn't do anything unusual, no crafts (surprise! lol) or projects, but we didn't need to. I just focussed on her.

Are You My Mother?We read her favorite book, Are You My Mother by P. D. Eastman. She loves that book, and I couldn't tell you why! She always has...she sits through the whole thing. Lately, she enjoys drawing in it. With pens. Always around the little bird too. It's a sign. She's so advanced.

We ate snacks of yogurt, oatmeal, GF pasta (which I must have cooked wrong because, my goodness, it was gross), and juice boxes.

She has been (more than usual) very affectionate lately. Maybe she's catching onto how sweet it is? Whatever the reason, I totally love it. She gives the best bear-hugs - and the best toddler kisses ever. She wraps her little arms tightly around my neck and just smacks her little lips against mine. If I smile, she does it again. If I try not to, she'll wait until I do.

I just relish these moments.

Have you ever heard of The 5 Love Languages? You should go take the quiz and see which one you are. I'm quality time. I love, love, love just spending meaningful time with people, especially Ian. I love when we go on walks, sit on the couch and talk, drive together, or even go grocery shopping (though he doesn't care too much for that). I start to feel cranky when we haven't spent that kind of time together. So it's no surprise that when it comes to L.O., I feel the same way. I love being with her...even if all we're doing is making a diaper change funny, or pretending I understand her serious sentences of complete babble.

It's little moments like this that make me stop, look upward, and say "Thank you".

Be sure to take some time today to just be thankful. And take the quiz! It's really cool. :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for the Passion of Christ
In the Catholic Church, we've just begun Holy Week - the week leading up to Easter. It started with Palm Sunday - a beautiful, tradition-filled Mass, with all the congregation holding palms in remembrance of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. Extra blessings, readings, and focus was put on this week, and what we can do to prepare for Easter.

Families handle Holy Week differently. Some turn off the tv and computer. Others go to church more often, say more prayers, perhaps fast or abstain from desserts or treats. Growing up, my family went to the Triduum each night for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil. We kept Good Friday very solemn and holy.

For those of you not too fond of the Catholic Church, let me shed some light on why we do these things:

We don't make sacrifices because we like to be miserable.
Or because we feel we have to beat ourselves to be good.
We don't do this to guilt trip each other and other people.
We don't do it just because it's what the Big Bad Church has forced us into doing.

We do this because Christ went through crap during this week. He went through more misery and pain than any of us could imagine. (You think you have it bad sometimes? Do some research about Roman scourgings and crucifixions...I bet your life will look pretty nice afterward.)

We do this because Christ loved us.  He loved me, and you, and everyone you can think of, so much that He endured all of this for us. 

Here's what I think: by sacrificing and meditating on Christ's Passion, we become closer to Him. We start to understand how much love He has for us. By bringing Him inside our hearts, and with His passion filling our minds, we naturally want to be better people. We want to live good lives, be charitable, forgiving, and gentle. We want to do this because we realize how beautiful our Savior is, and it makes us want to be as amazing as He is. 

But it all starts with Him; it starts with what He did for us.

Even if you're not Catholic, Christian, or anything, you can still read or think about this week's events. It certainly won't hurt you. To think that a Man, over 2000 years ago, chose to die just for you because He knew you were worth it...

It certainly makes me feel very humbled. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Ohh, Politics

Oh, politics. I cannot help being annoyed with you. Every candidate promises to save the world from people like him/herself, fix schools, cut taxes, and give you a billion dollars - just because. Then they get elected, fall into their party's stereotypes, and you're sitting at home, swearing at the radio, waiting for your free money. "Hello...? This is why I voted for you..."

For all the political issues going on in the world, I chose an ugly font color for today...what is this, pukey brown anyways? In a paint store, they would name it, "Mocha Sunbeam" or something impossible like that.

To bring a lighthearted view to politics, enjoy this video from none other than Mr. Brian Regan. 
It's so true. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I used to tutor college English and writing (I'm so smart). While I know I'm far from perfect when it comes to the technical and creative aspects of our language, there are some mistakes that sound like nails on a chalkboard to my eyes.

1. There, they're and their. If it's possessive, then use their: "Their house looks great." If it's a contraction of they and are, use they're: "They're putting a new roof on the house." If it's referring to a place, use there: "Look at that house over there."

2. It's and its. It's either a contraction or possessive. Don't write "Potty training at it's worst." That translates to: Potty training at it is worst. I don't think so.

3. Should of, could of, would of. It's how we all talk, but it should be should have, could have, would have.

4. The word that is overused. I learned this from a great teacher, and it has jumped out at me ever since. "I know that we all love to talk about our pets, but I've realized that it gets a little annoying." Take both of them out, and the sentence works just fine.

5. We all know there are times when a comma is desperately needed to separate clauses otherwise the reader isn't sure when to start or stop or where a new idea begins and the old one ends and this often not only creates a comma problem but also a run-on sentence problem so use your commas and we'll all be happy!

6. On the other hand, too many commas, often inserted for dramatic effect, or where we think we would naturally take a breath, if we were to read it out loud, can make the reader also unsure, of where a different ideas begin, and end.

7. Incorrect use of the semi-colon; when people use it for commas, or periods; or to be creative. It just looks plain silly;

8. Uses of the number zero to replace the letter "o". Call me when y0u get 0uta w0rk t0night. Stop it!

9. Being Creative By Capitalizing Every Word In Every Sentence Doesn't Work And Is Beyond Difficult To Read.

10. not giving proper names or beginning of sentences capitalization for whatever reason people come up with. i actually tutored a guy once who refused to capitalize "new york yankees" because he hated the team. it was a little ridiculous.

I'm sorry you're bitter because they're just that good, but please be mature about it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Nature Trail

Last summer, my husband, daughter, and I took a nice walk one afternoon 
at a local nature preserve. Here are some pictures I took that day. 

Mr. Frogman

Those dam beavers

I still see nature behind you!

I know you're all just dying to copy these amazing pictures of mine. I am quite the photographer.
If you want to use them for any reason, link back to my blog. Please and thank you!