Friday, July 29, 2011

Another shameless plug

Today is a glorious day for our family: I made the last payment on my student loans! It was supposed to take 10 years to pay them off, but circumstances being as they were would not allow that. Instead, I had made it my goal for the past year (or so) to pay mine off ahead of time. This summer I took the task on full-steam. Between yard sales, craigslist, ebay, and etsy, I was able to chip off little amounts at a time. It made a BIG difference. This new goal gave me such motivation! And because I paid off the loans only 2.5 years into repayment, I saved us literally thousands in interest. I couldn't be happier.

So...does this mean I can become a little more relaxed? No way, Jose. I'm making it my personal mission to tackle Ian's school loans. Sure, we'll still have the monthly payments, but every thing I earn on the side will help with extra payments. Granted, his amount is easily 5 times more than mine, so this is going to take longer than a year, for sure. BUT we can do it!

To help the process, I decided to become more proactive about my Etsy shop.



Today I hired my beautiful sisters to help with modeling some dresses I'm selling. By all means, have a look at the dresses; but more so - aren't the girls gorgeous?

I've been thinking of other ways I can expand my shop. Perhaps sewing baby clothes or dabbling into plus size fashion? I've never done it, but I could always start. I just have to pay more attention to these styles!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Being chic on a budget

I can't really claim to be a fashionista of any sorts, but I do know how to find some good deals. I've always been one to search clearance racks and pull out my coupons while shopping, especially for clothes. My reasoning is, styles change so frequently, and I can't afford to update my entire wardrobe every few years. Instead, I look for cute, special, and flattering bargains that add to my collection and wear them for as long as they last.

onestopplus.com
For example: I was out at JCPenny's one day with a $10 off $10 purchase or more coupon. I knew I could find something for a nice price. Things were on sale, but still a little high for me. I took my time and looked at all the racks until I found the cutest summer tops for only $10.49! The style was perfect for regular or maternity bodies. I was beyond thrilled. After my coupon, I only paid $0.42 for my shirt.

Now that's what I'm talking about. When it comes to being pregnant and having your body change so quickly, it's even more important for me to spend my money wisely.  I really enjoy finding websites with petite, maternity, and plus size women's clothing. I always go right to the sales page - and usually I find a great steal. Some people might not need to be as frugal when it comes to shopping, but since we all love saving money, it never hurts to try!

Monday, July 25, 2011

All About Me

1. First thing you wash in the shower? Face...no wait - actually, my hands!


3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again? Considering it would be Ian or Little Olive, absolutely.


4. Do you plan outfits? No, never.


5. How are you feeling RIGHT now? Excited because I just might make my goal of paying off my school loans before the baby arrives!


6.Tell me about the last dream you remember having: Calling someone out. It was a very belligerent dream.


8. Did you meet anybody new today? Nope


9. What are you craving right now? A Wegman's sub


10. Do you floss daily? I should say yes so you all think I'm amazing.


12. Are you emotional? Sometimes...and usually in front of the same people, which is very frustrating because it just confirms the "water works" label. How odd.


13. Have you ever counted to 1,000? No, definitely never wasted my time lol.

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it? Lick it. Unless I'm trying to get a particular piece of candy out of it.


15. Do you like your hair? Yes, I think it's great. 


16. Do you like yourself? Yeah, sure!


17. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush? Maybe his wife. I think we'd have more in common. "You wear Cover Girl make-up too??"


18. What are you listening to right now? The fan going...it's hot today!


19. Are your parents strict? About certain things, yes.


20. Would you go skydiving? Never ever.


21. Do you like cottage cheese? Yes, I love it!


22. Have you ever met a celebrity?  The president...no biggie.


23. Do you rent movies often? Not as much as I used to.


24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in? No. Sparkles and glitter do not enter my husband's home. 


25. How many countries have you visited? Canada, Ireland, England, and Italy :)


26. Have you made a prank phone call? When I was little we used to prank call radio stations (like, soft rock, easy listening stations), asking them to play "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" over and over and over. The DJ finally yelled at me.


27. Ever been on a train? Yes, to NYC and then in Italy :)


28. Brown or white eggs? Either...I definitely love eggs.


29. Do you have a cell-phone? Yes, a pay as you go kinda thing. That's why I never carry it around with me.


30. Do you use chap stick? All the time.


31. Do you own a gun? I just sold my paintball gun so the answer is no.

32. Can you use chop sticks? If I tried.

33. Who are you going to be with tonight? Just the three of us...sweating away in our little house.
 
34. Are you too forgiving? For dumb things, yes.


35. Ever been in love? Yeah for the past 5 years. 


36. What is your best friend(s) doing tomorrow? Going to Cancun without me. (Actually I have no idea really.)


37. Ever have cream puffs? I love them!


38. Last time you cried? Couple nights ago.


39. What was the last question you asked? "Can we buy a Wegman's sub?" to my husband.


40. Favorite time of the year? Christmas!

41. Do you have any tattoos? No...I'd only get a very discreet one someday if it meant something extremely special to me. Like my husband's name. On the bottom of my foot...or somewhere not so mean-sounding.


42. Are you sarcastic? A little...around certain people.


43. Have you ever seen The Butterfly Effect? No, but I'm sure you were on the edge of your seat waiting to hear my answer!


44. Ever walked into a wall? Yes, and I've apologized to signs I've run into.


45. Favorite color?  Red, yellow, green...bright shades. Purple. Not blue...or pink.


46. Have you ever slapped someone? My hands have never touched another human being in such a way as this.


47. Is your hair curly? Don't I wish!


Here's a dress I made the other day. 

48. What was the last CD you bought? Michael Buble maybe?


49. Do looks matter? Yes, because my husband is extremely good looking.


50. Could you ever forgive a cheater? Gah....it would be very, very hard to forget. Forgive, yes.


51. Is your phone bill sky high? No, because we don't have the money to pay for such frivolousness.


52. Do you like your life right now? It would be 100% if it were about 10 degrees cooler, but I like it just the same.


53. Do you sleep with the TV on? No.

54. Can you handle the truth? Even if I couldn't I'd want to know it over a lie any day!


55. Do you have good vision? It's not horrible...but I can't read street signs from super far away...hence I make sharp turns sometimes.


56. Who's your biggest Hollywood crush? It used to be Jude Law and James McAvoy but then I married and the crushes dissolved away.


57. Does fate exist, or is it all just up in the air? I believe that everything happens because it's supposed to. I believe that with my whole heart.


58. The last person you held hands with? My husband :)


59. What are you wearing? If you really want to know, leave me a comment and I'll tell you.


60. What is your favorite animal? Tigers

61. Where was your profile picture taken at? On facebook...at my friend's wedding! <3 


62. Can you hula hoop? I'll get back to you on that.


63. Do you have a job? I'm a stay at home mom so I'd say yes. Daily pay consists of poopy diapers, sticky hands, funny faces, and the most amazing "huds and tisses" at the end of the night.


64. What was the most recent thing you bought? I bought razors, a shower curtain, and chocolate milk today.


65. Have you ever crawled through a window? I think so? It must not have been that memorable...


66. Your question goes here! Ask me anything!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A favorite thing in the summertime

buffalorising.com
I was driving home the other night and was heading into the city through the highways. The buildings of downtown were speckled with lights and activity, and our small city seemed to be more appealing in the nighttime. I had my radio on low, as Little Olive was asleep in the backseat. It was cooler, so the windows were closed and the temperature was perfect inside.

Just as I was turning a bend in the road, I saw a single firework come up over the river. One by one, beautiful colors filled the sky and faded away. It was so pretty. I'm usually good about not being distracted while driving, but this made me look over again and again.

I realized this is one of my favorite summer moments: silent fireworks. Though there's nothing quite like sitting under a huge display as the sound booms and vibrates in your chest, there's such a peaceful beauty about only one of your senses absorbing the scene.

What's your favorite summer moment?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Games and Funtimes

Being around a goofy toddler definitely brings out the child in me. It had been years since I sang "Ring Around the Rosie" and actually had fun doing so, but now it's one of Little Olive's favorite things to do. "Rosie, rosie, rosie" she'll sing. And if I don't actually fall all the way on the ground at the end, she pushes me down to make sure I'm playing the right way. No cheating! She knows me too well already.

melissa and doug
Building blocks, playing peek a boo, talking in jibberish on purpose - these are the things that make me and my daughter so happy. Having some wonderful toys and  child games around the house help when you're at a loss for creativity. And they are so exciting to play with. Though...I'm finding they're not always necessary to have a good time. It's the connections we make just playing with each other that seem to become favorites. She loves watching me sign the "ABCs" and I love watching her little hands try to imitate the letters. She's learning to count..in her own little way. Her favorite numbers right now seem to be 5 and 7, as she'll repeat them over and over...

Games and fun keep us feeling young. So speaking of games, I've been wanting to share this video for a while. Brought to you by the awesome, Brian Regan.  This happens all the time during Jeopardy!




To all my followers...

As a thank-you to all my 82 (!!) followers, I wanted to offer you a coupon code to my Etsy shop. You'll find a variety of items - antiques, cloth diaper items, clothing, etc. Feel free to look around, make a purchase, send me a message, or give me some advice!

Spread the word to anyone you like: use coupon code FAMFRIEND at check-out to receive 20% off your entire purchase.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why We're Planning a Home Birth

In a society where the vast majority of women give birth in the hospital, it's not uncommon for many of us to feel like that may be our only option. But in the U.S., over 32 percent of women will have a c-section when trying to give birth in a hospital setting. And that may be perfectly fine for some, but many of us are looking for other options. We are continually learning truths about ourselves and our bodies that doctors simply aren't telling us - maybe because they honestly just don't know any better. Even though birth is a natural event, doctors make it a medical event. Most women will go along with this belief because they want to place their trust in the doctors.

But other women take a step back and think differently. I'm one of those women, and thanks to many amazing resources and other mothers out there, I had my first child born at home. Here are the reasons why I am planning my second home birth.

First of all, birth is not, by nature, a medical event. Can it be a medical event? Absolutely. I'll start this off with a big, fat disclaimer: women should only plan a home birth if they are healthy and have a low-risk pregnancy. When certain medical issues arise in pregnancy, there is a higher chance of issues arising during birth. When that happens, a hospital is the place for a woman to be.

However, there are very few of these pregnancies. The majority of pregnancies are low-risk and therefore, the births do not need to be handled in a hospital.

I've never birthed in a hospital, so I'm not going to bash them. I've heard a lot of stories of women who had wonderful nurses, accommodating doctors, and helpful lactation consultants. They say their experience in the hospital was great. I have no doubt about this! There are some real gems on the labor/delivery floors. However, I've also heard a lot of stories, as well as the facts and statistics, of hospitals interfering and intervening when it's unnecessary.

The Business of Being BornThe reason for this is because a hospital is the place where sick people go. Pregnant women aren't sick. But the hospital's mindset is that if someone is in their building, something must be wrong, and that something must be fixed. Hospitals are also businesses, in a sense. They need to run efficiently and make the most of their customers. But giving birth has nothing to do with efficiency or business. Instead, it's one of the most personal and intimate experiences of our lives.

That is the number one reason why I wanted (and still want) to have a homebirth. Even before going through the process the first time around, I had an idea of what I wanted. I knew it was important to have a "birth plan" - meaning, what you really wanted for the birth, even if it wasn't written down on a sheet of paper. I knew I wanted the lights dimmed, I wanted to be surrounded by people who I knew and trusted and felt 100% comfortable around. I wanted to have control over how I labored, in what position I gave birth, and to be able to hold my baby immediately, etc. I also wanted the baby's transition into the world to be peaceful. I wanted the first person to hold the baby to be me and my husband - not nurses or doctors. I didn't want any weighing, testing, shots, or anything to be done until the baby was comfortable and safe.

My labor and birth with Little Olive went amazingly. Thanks to everyone present, it was just what I wanted. Sure, it wasn't exactly the most fun 8 hours of my life, but they were all worth it. Knowing I had such a great experience the first time around has only fueled my desire to spread the great possibilities of homebirth to other women. I really encourage all mothers to think about what they really want - to even question the system if it's not what they want. The science is behind you; the facts are behind you. Homebirths are safe and perfectly okay. What happens at home could easily happen in the hospital too. What doesn't happen at home happens every day in the hospital.

If you want to give birth at home, I say go for it. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Being careful, jumping, and letting go

I'm really such a worrier. It was bad enough before I became a mom; now I'm just hopeless. My daughter stands up too quickly, and I knock my chair over jumping to her side. My nephew swings high on his swing set, and I cover my eyes looking away. You could call me a nut, but my quick reflexes have saved a bump or two. And they give me quite the adrenaline rush. Keeps me feelin' young. (Haha.)
fisherprice.com

But I just have to trust that these kids know what they're doing. Watching Little Olive climb in and out of her little high chair amazes me...nobody taught her how to do that. One day, she realized we were eating pizza for dinner and clambered up there like it was her last meal on earth. (It's also funny how no one taught her that pizza was a delicious treat. Now she's obsessed with it.) Then tonight, she surprised us all by getting herself down.

I know why people hold onto their kids and worry sick about them as they grow up and do their own things. Accidents and mistakes happen all the time. Just today I saw the aftermath of a horrible motorcycle accident. It really affected me. I truly hope Little Olive never wants to ride one of those.

I just wonder how I'm going to be in 18 years when Little Olive, who won't be so little anymore, tries to do more than climb out of her "big girl high chair". It's easy to say now that I'll have to trust her...but how can I really know?

Well, if it gives me any comfort, I have an amazingly advanced child who will never do a single thing wrong. ;) We're all set to go! Bring it on, future.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A staycation

hollywoodnews.com
A lot of people I know go on yearly family vacations. We seriously considered doing so this summer. I wanted to take my husband to see the wonderful Harry Potter Wizarding World at Universal Studios - especially for the final movie which came out this past weekend. Don't you think such a hardworking, stallion of a husband deserves a nice trip? :)

After tons of research and waiting for the right days to book, we could have made the entire trip for about $800 (yep, that included airfare, park tickets, hotels, etc). We discussed it thoroughly and decided even though it was a really great price for the trip, it was out of our budget for this year.

As it turns out, two weeks later, my husband's car needed nearly $900 in repairs! Good thing we didn't go off to Florida.

The idea of going away with just my little family always sounds so nice and relaxing. I've always wanted to go on a cruise. We almost went on one for our honeymoon actually. We looked into cruises at length. It would have been super romantic going to the Bahamas at the different stops. Though we opted for a relaxing resort on the water, I still check the website every once in a while...just in case there's a deal we can't pass up.

But this summer it looks like we're having a staycation. Don't be jealous...you can join us! We pulled out the little turtle pool in the backyard today and soaked up the sun and some water. I've been letting Little Olive eat ice cream for dinner, (how can I resist?), we go on walks, go to the beach, the local pools, anything relaxing.

Maybe next year, Harry Potter or a cruise. Maybe next year! :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Midnight


Midnight reminds me of many years ago...when my Dad woke us up around 4am to see the auroras in the sky. They were beautiful and eerie at the same time. (Not like this picture, but still so fascinating just the same.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Polarlicht_2.jpg
The word midnight reminds me of an e-mail address I had years ago that was "midnightevenstar" - combining my obsession with Lord of the Rings and my love of the night sky. 
 
Midnight reminds me of starlit dates with my husband when we were young enough to stay out all night. We'd sit out in my family's backyard and look for shooting stars. 

Midnight reminds me of summer evenings sitting around the bonfire with my family, watching the coals in the fire pit glow with heat.


Midnight reminds me of Little Olive's newborn days, when her schedule was the exact opposite of ours, and we would often stay awake together until the wee hours of the morning until she was sleepy.


Midnight reminds me of peaceful moments and warm memories. 
Maybe that's why it's one of my favorite words...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to Fix a Dislocated Elbow

In early July, I had the unfortunate chance of handling my first ever "emergency room" situation - at home. My 19 month old was running around the house, avoiding me because it was time for a diaper change. My sister, Audrey, was over at the time and took Little Olive's arm as ran passed. Immediately, my toddler collapsed into a little tantrum but was brought to me for her diaper change just the same.

In an odd and eerie kind of way, Audrey and I both noticed that something was not right. Little Olive was holding her left arm and crying in a strange kind of way. Even when I picked her up to console her, she was crying and saying, "Boo boo," and "All done!" quite forcefully. Audrey pointed out that her arm was definitely hurt. Little Olive was holding her elbow close to her body, and trying not to move it at all - even the slightest movement caused her to scream.

It had to be broken or dislocated. If I hadn't known better, I would have driven to the hospital.  But thankfully, my parents have handled this situation before because my two little sisters had both dislocated their elbows (several times) as young kids. So we called my mom and she was able to direct Audrey to tell me what to do.

Otherwise known as Nursemaid's Elbow, a dislocated elbow needs to be "relocated". You can do this at home, and it's not very hard.

Start by sitting face-to-face with the child. While supporting the elbow with one hand, use your other hand to straighten their arm, palm up, in front of them. Websites and videos will say this causes "slight discomfort" to your child. Um, be warned: it freaking hurts. I actually had to stop and try this part several times because Little Olive's screams were just killing me. But just do it...trying again and again causes more pain than just doing it once and getting it over with.

The next step is to fold their arm up toward their body, and then turn it over, in front of their body. Do this in one motion. You should hear/feel a "pop" as their elbow relocates back into place. Sometimes it's the simple folding of the arm, other times it's the turning. I felt the pop at the turning.

It was really amazing how quickly Little Olive recovered after this. It was as if there was no pain anymore. After cuddling for a moment, she used her injured arm to reach for a bowl of jelly beans. I'd say progress was made!

Nobody ever wants to be in a position where your child is so badly hurt, but this is an easy fix. Practice on your kid so you know what to do in the case of a dislocation. This is a great video with more information and directions on how to fix it. Let's have a safe summer! :)

Friday, July 08, 2011

And slowly the energy dwindles away

Be prepared...this is a therapy session/blog post for myself. I feel like I need to be lying on a couch, trusting my deep secrets with someone. (Will you be my someone?)

Okay, it's not that serious.

genexe.com/tech-industry/cleaning-done-more-efficiently/
During my second trimester,  I could not believe how great I felt. The baby bump was the perfect size so I still could move around easily, and the energy level! My goodness. Every day, I would wake up and do one project after another around the house. I decluttered everything. I got into this rhythm about cleaning and couldn't believe how much I loved the house in a clean state. Now, I vacuum, sweep, do the dishes, organize, and do laundry as often as they're needed.

So can someone tell me why I'm still losing things?

Little Olive's shoes (she has two pairs) are both missing a match. I have looked everywhere. I'm beginning to wonder if the dog really eats things or if they accidentally were thrown out. Little Olive does enjoy peering mysteriously into the garbage occasionally.

Besides all this, my energy is slowly fading away. You crazy third trimester..."standing around, deciding my future!" (Name the movie.) You have stolen my energy. I'm definitely not doing as much these days. But if we had carpets, I would be all over them using a natural carpet cleaner.

Well, wish me luck. I'm off to the thrift store to find a pair of shoes for my daughter. I would be feeling guilty except her feet were already outgrowing the missing shoes. ::pats self on back:: We're good to go.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Pennies and Dimes

My sister Audrey found a pair of Marc Jacobs sunglasses in a local college bathroom. They're currently on ebay, hopefully getting lots of bids. What people will pay for a namebrand always amazes me. If I didn't know that Marc Jacobs was a fancy name, I would have stuck a 50 cents sticker on them for our garage sale.

We're in total "sell mode" over here. Our garage sale is coming up this weekend, and we have nearly four tables stocked full of things we're going to sell. I'm pretty excited - I love garage sales. Last summer we had one at our house and earned $120 - just for getting rid of things we don't need. I was quite pleased. We ordered some amazing Buffalo chicken wings as a celebration, but the rest went to bills.

This year...we'll be doing the same thing. No blowing the money on fun things. I'm hoping to double our earnings (listen to me, all business mode). I'm so close to paying off my school loans - so all the money earned will be chunked into that payment.

On other news, my etsy account has hit a small low. Lots of views, but no buys since day one. I need to fix this...not sure how. Better pictures? Better products? Stick to ebay? Maybe I should start sewing some pink scrubs. Those are so cute...I'd buy them. And I could make them for less than $25...just saying. But for the more manly people, I would have to make more manly colored things. But I'd need a model for that...

("Ian!")

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Independence and Attachment

"Don't hold her all the time; she'll never let you put her down," they warned.

The advice came early, but I just smiled and nodded. Holding my baby was necessary and right. Erikson's 8 Stages of Development begin with trust vs. mistrust. Infants develop trust, independence, and attachments by being held, having their cries responded to, and being spoiled with love.

Now, people tell me, "I can't believe how independent she is." I openly agree. I can believe it. There's no "training" when it comes to forming a healthy attachment. Just love. And lots of cuddles.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Natural Deoderant

Welcome summer! Not so much welcome to the extra sweating and need for deodorant applications several times a day. Deodorants have not escaped the "harmful products" list, unfortunately, as ingredients such as aluminum have been added as a main ingredient for anti-perspirants. Aluminum has been a concern for my family for years ever since we learned it was linked to Alzheimer's disease - which runs in our family. We try to avoid it in lotions, foods, vaccines, and everything else, including our deodorants. We try to go as natural as possible. 

For years I was thrilled with an Adidas brand that smelled great and really worked! It wasn't an anti-perspirant, but I was glad since blocking the pores from sweating is actually not good at all. Sweating is a cleansing function of the body and we shouldn't try to block that from happening.

The other day, I went to the store to restock on my Adidas deodorant. At first I couldn't find it, and I became discouraged that they stopped making it. Then I found it, and instead of being discouraged, I was upset. They no longer make the "natural" kind without aluminum. In fact, their bottle says right on the front that it contains this blasted ingredient.

Thinking that my only option was the $5 bottle of Tom's Naturals (which never worked for me anyway), I thought I would have to stink all summer.

Then, I saw it! An Arm and Hammer brand that advertised "No Aluminum"! I was so happy - plus it was a dollar less than the Adidas stuff I'd been buying for years.

A few days later, I am pleased to tell you that I love this new brand. I bought the "unscented" kind since the "Fresh" bottle smelled rather manly. Mine isn't fragrance free, but I like the scent. It's very simple and clean.

I would highly recommend this to anyone.

I know some people use cornstarch, baking soda, vinegar, etc. as their natural deodorants. Feel free to leave a comment below telling us what works for you and how to apply it. We're always up for a new idea!