Sunday, October 30, 2011

Should my husband start a blog?

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

So here are my Five Picks:


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

When the occasion calls for it

Is it sometimes necessary to be mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Escape


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

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

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

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

(I got that from my sister.)

Oh, Thursdays...

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

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

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

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

Count your blessings.

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finn's Birth Story

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

*** 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The time was 1:10pm.




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

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









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

 


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

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

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


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

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

Honestly, the best birth day ever!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Make Your Own Toys

lilla-a-design.blogspot.com
Looking for a quick and easy, creative toy for your child? Consider making a fine motor skills board. You can do this by finding a flat piece of plywood and attaching various mechanisms: hooks, cabinet hinges, locks, strings, magnets, screws, switches, or anything else. Children love playing with real, adult objects, and this is safe way for them to do just that and enhance their cognitive development as well. Problem-solving skills and creative thinking are sparked during such activities, and the children will be having so much fun they won't even realize they're learning at the same time!

Another awesome idea I've often seen while browsing blogs and Pinterest is taking a tv stand or end table and converting it into a play kichen! This is definitely something I want to do for Little Olive when she gets a little older. It would require some time and brainstorming from my husband and I, but the end result would be so worth it.

martawrites.com/2010/07/how-to-build-kitchen-play-set.html
Huge tv stands, like the one below, are at almost every thrift store these days. How awesome that someone found a way to repurpose out-dated pieces of furniture? For about $10 and a little work, you could have a solid wood kitchen for the kids. Compare this to paying over $100 for a plastic one at the store. Granted, they are so cute and fun. But if you don't have the funds, there are other ways to get your hands on a great toy!
Tv stand turned kitchen.

This one to the right is probably the best I've seen. There are great details and realistic sections. The refrigerator could be turned into shelves or cabinets if necessary, giving an organized space for all the dishes and cups. I love the window and hooks for the utensils. As a young girl, I would be in heaven with something like this in my living room!

**I am unable to find the original source of the image, so please let me know if you do. I would love to link this to directions or a tutorial if there is one!

If you have any ideas or have done something like this, share away!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Developmentally Appropriate Playthings

When I was in school for Early Childhood, we became very familiar with the term "DAP" - which stood for developmentally appropriate practice. It meant that considering the child's developmental stage, rather than age, was vital for providing an exceptional education. The theory was woven into every class, every topic of discussion, every lesson plan, and every method of teaching. There was also a big emphasis on the toys and other playthings. I call this being aware of "developmentally appropriate playthings."
constructiveplaythings.com

If you're ever looking for items to add to your home's play area, consider checking out this website for great ideas. Simple, wooden, non-commercialized toys are the absolute best for a child's imagination, attention span, and learning process. Costumes for dramatic play, "adult-looking" items for a kitchen area, various and creative manipulatives for cognitive development, math and science items, blocks...the list goes on.

When we purchase or accept toys for Little Olive, we try to make sure they will enhance her development instead of just lighting up, playing music, and simply "keeping her busy" for a few minutes. We think it's important to have toys that will force the child to think and be creative. (I know, we're so mean.) Even having an Elmo can inhibit good play. It comes with a name, a voice, a way of behaving, and a whole life's story - the child has no reason to think out of the box. These are just some things to consider with the holidays coming up.

Do you have any rules or guidelines regarding toys in your household?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Welcome, Baby Finn!

Hello again! I've been gone for about a week now. I've been pretty busy! Can you imagine why? I'll give you some hints: lots of cuddling, resting, late nights, co-sleeping again, breastfeeding, and babywearing. Yep, I've been carrying around a sweet, little boy in my ring sling the past few days while getting back on my feet. That little boy is pictured below!

Introducing...Baby Finn! 


He is gorgeous, healthy, and just perfect! Sometimes when he sleeps, I'll just stare at him and kiss him over and over. Everything with the birth went great. I'm taking a while writing up the birth story because I just don't go on the computer much now. So hang in there while I type it up, add some pictures, and ready it for you all to read.

In the meantime, my husband and I are getting back into the newborn swing of things while keeping up with our cutie Little Olive at the same time. Things are great now, but I'm sure when his vacation is done I'll be looking for some advice from others. Feel free to share your thoughts and tips! And just go look at that picture again...isn't he awesome? :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Princess Tea Party

I've been dying to have a little tea party with Little Olive lately. We went to the thrift store and found beautiful china tea cups for 24 cents a piece. I took out her princess costume that we're saving for Halloween, and I made some "tea". We enjoyed a goofy afternoon at the dining room table together.

Princess Tea Recipe
Ingredients:

Hot water
Chocolate milk
Honey

Stir together and enjoy :)



The princess and her mommy



She insisted I wear the crown. Beautiful, isn't it?


Delicious tea!



Sweet Little Olive






She is such a goofy girl!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy: The Way To Go?

Today, Buffalo officially became one of the Occupy Wall Street cities. They now have a permit to set up tents and be there 24/7. As with all issues and protests, I know people who are absolutely against this whole movement, and others who fully support it and would be there if they could.

We all have the right to protest and use our freedom of speech. And while I feel the whole movement has some good points, I'm a little confused about their methods. I feel like all of them should pack up and move to Washington. Take over the city. Go all over Washington. At the White House, at Capitol Hill, etc. My opinion is that standing around Wall Street is never going to convince the people who need to make change. Nobody votes on who works on Wall Street. You want to make a democratic difference? Go to the government. They should find their favorite politician and volunteer for their campaign. You'd have some great resume experience and actually be doing something worthwhile. (I find it ironic that they aren't going to Washington for this; could it be due to the fact that most of these people are Lib/Dems and so is the President? Gotta find someone else to blame.)

Two of the main reasons many people gather is because of the state of unemployment and student loans. Trust me, trust me, trust me. My little family is feeling the effects of these. My husband, thankfully, has a job. But trying to get a better/new one has been close to impossible. Jobs are scarce, and we are stuck in this cycle of trying and hoping. Student loans are beyond ridiculous. They are as much as our monthly mortgage payment.

However, my husband went to school out of his own choice. Blaming others for his choices and expecting his debt to be taken care of by someone else is irresponsible. That's like buying a $20k car just because everyone else is doing it, then realizing you don't have the money to pay for it. Then you continue driving the car but expect someone else to pick up the payments. College has gotten out of control. Every high school student should watch an hour long documentary on YouTube called "The College Conspiracy." Ignore the subtle hints to invest in the company's gold, and you will learn some insane facts about the college hype and how not every 18 year old should go to a four-year-school and squander money for an "experience" out of their means.

As far as jobs go, I'm NOT saying there are enough good jobs for everyone. But I am saying people are hiring. I know it's not the job you went to school for, but there are jobs. This is directed at the people who are "occupying" and not looking for jobs. Who are eating food being donated from others, who are updating their FB statuses on their iPhones but complaining about not being able to pay their student loans.

Yes, we are the 99%. But have you stopped to think that we still have more than millions of people around the world? We have plenty of clothes, food, we have a house, a car, apparently we all can't live without our fancy web-surfing cell phones, and spending money for going out.

I'm just so curious what would have happened if the organizer of "Occupy Wall Street" decided to create an "Occupy a Nursing Home" or "Occupy an Orphanage" or "Occupy a Soup Kitchen" - some place that needed love, time, and support. There are thousands of places all over just the U.S. that need help. I can guarantee nobody would have stepped forward. People don't have enough time to volunteer. People never have enough time to help others.

But stand on the street corners and demand that others help you? Heck yeah, we have time for that.

In our day and age of entitlement, I'm not surprised that thousands of people are gathering to demand better treatment. Corporate greed is real and it does affect us, but do you really think the CEOs are going to look out their windows, and change? That's what I just don't understand. As soon as things get hard, people stop trying to make their lives better and just start complaining. They open their hands and close their minds. I think they're hoping to be given a bailout so they can move into a retirement community at 30 years old without any more student loans.

I'm not against using your voice and your freedom of speech. I'm not against protesting.

I am against the entitlement mindset, trashing a city to a disgusting level, and refusing to use your time and talents to help those in need.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Going cloth

We're a big fan of cloth diapering over here, and this past spring I also switched to cloth wipes. I definitely recommend looking into this because they have helped us out a great deal here. I've found we saved some money with them because the wipes became so useful in many different ways around the house. We've used them in place of napkins, washcloths, tissues, and paper towels. And when you have a little toddler around, you know how many spills and messes you clean up on a daily basis. The best thing is that all you have to do is throw them in the washer with a regular load of laundry, and nothing's wasted!

I bought a little spray bottle that fits nicely in our wipes case. I make a solution of water and lavender scented Dr. Bronner's soap. Little Olive loves to "clean", so she sprays the house down and wipes it all up with her little wipies. I don't mind because the house smells great and she loves doing it.

Reusing as much as possible is really important. In our day and age of consumerism and materialism, it's not only frugal but smart to become self-sufficient and "green".  For my family, there's no reason to buy thousands of little disposable wipes that come in plastic packaging and end up being thrown out immediately after use. I have tried to wash/reuse disposable wipes before - and it actually worked for a little while! They eventually broke down and I did have to toss them. But it worked for a while before I sewed up some flannel wipes.

Share any tips or ideas regarding this area if you like! :)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Being Positive

So you've been out running errands all morning, stopping at the post office, going into the grocery store, picking up some last minute back to school supplies, and just when you're about finished, your child starts to become antsy. No matter how often you honestly reassure her that you're almost done, her patience dwindles and her voice grows louder. People start to turn their heads as they pass your cart. You're doing the best you can, and going as fast as your brain allows - but how many options for crayons can one store have?

I'd pull out the sunscreen stick from my purse to keep her busy and then scold her for eating it. This is where I would start to get a little tense. "Shh, I'm almost done. It's okay." That would be my impatient attempt at comfort.

ivillage.ca
But has saying that ever really worked? Thinking back, it hasn't at all for me. Not once. A child doesn't want to hear such lies. And even though you're really telling the truth, he simply won't believe you.

This is where I've learned an important lesson from my husband. He totally engages my daughter in situations like this. Instead of dismissing her feelings or trying to hush her, he makes her a part of the conversation. "Look at all these crayons! We need to pick out some. Which ones should we get? The big box, or the little box?"

He does this in grocery stores, around the house, and when he's trying to get her to clean up her toys. Instead of just bossing her, "Clean up all your blocks!" he'll say, "Can you find all the red ones? Good job! See if you can find the ones with the blue and green colors."

It's true; it takes a lot more patience and creativity than just repeating yourself over and over. But in the long run, it will help you both out. It's a perfect example of taking an "every day" situation and turning it into a learning opportunity. Because of his example, I was reminded to do this today. Little Olive was beside herself before dinner. (Just like her mommy, she turns into a bear when she's hungry.) She was crying and wanted me to hold her. In the past, I've often told her, "It's okay; we're almost ready to eat. Don't be sad."

Today I asked, "Hey! Do you want to set the table for me?? Here - take the spoons and put them on the table." She instantly perked up and proceeded to bring all the spoons, bowls, and cups we needed into the dining room. Granted, she placed them in the most adorable, precarious piles at the very edge of the table, but it totally bought me five extra minutes to finish dinner. I highly recommend this tactic. Thanks, Ian.

      Thursday, October 06, 2011

      People Can Change

      When I was in high school, one of the largest areas for competition among my friends was music. Not only what music we liked and listened to, but more importantly, who liked and listened to it first. My family went through long and intense phases of listening to different genres of music. My first memory was listening to oldies, where my love for the Beatles, Elvis, and Boston began. Then we were really into Christian music, where the Smalltown Poets and Rebecca St. James took up a huge piece of my heart. After that we listened to classical composers. Hearing "Bolero" and "Flight of the Bumblebee" still pull me back to my young teen years.

      As you can see, pop and country music weren't really the frontrunners for the speakers in our home. I listened to songs at the dance studio and liked them all, but at home, we had our favorites.

      Among my friends, country music was the pinnacle of contention. There were a few friends who absolutely loved it, as they had all their lives. There were other friends who couldn't stand it. I fell into this group.

      The twang, and the whine, and the over-emphasis on the letter "r" turned me off. But two of my best friends listened to it so much that I decided to just give it a chance. If I expected my friends to give my own music a chance, I should at least try theirs. It was a slow going process. I used to listen to my Latin lessons with headphones on every afternoon. When the lesson was done, I would secretly switch to the radio and listen for a little while. Eventually I found a few songs and artists that actually sounded okay! I knew my friends would be thrilled.

      Life doesn't work that way though, and it certainly didn't surrounding this particular issue. It became such a huge deal that I suddenly crossed over to that side, and I was made fun of (by both close and distant friends) for "pretending" to like country.

      One friend in particular made a huge divide in the group about our musical differences and nearly fell off her chair laughing one day when she heard we liked country music.

      Where am I going with all this?

      People change. Looking back, I actually cannot believe how much people change. When I reconnected with the above friend many years later, I nearly fell of my chair when I saw her facebook statuses filled with country lyrics.

      We need to remember to give people the benefit of the doubt and to not write each other off because of differences. The mindset you had 5 years ago is probably very different on certain issues than what you think today. People probably crossed you off their list because of something you did or said. You always wondered why they were so "weird" to you. They probably have their own reasons. It sounds unfair, doesn't it?

      In a way, it's nice to surround yourself with people who think just like you do, but you would probably learn a lot by opening your heart to others who might not appear to be the "perfect" fit. If you knew someone to be a complete dweeb a few years ago, chances are they have changed since then. True, they might have grown into an even bigger dweeb, but they also might have matured too.

      Just some food for thought. Have a great Friday!

      Pin Up, Chin Up

      I may have mentioned this in the past, but I've recently become really interested in a website called Pinterest.  It's a cool website where people can post/pull pictures from anywhere on the internet and collect them on "pin boards" in their accounts. What I love about this site is all the creative ideas people share. Because each picture is linked back to the original website, I've found so many delicious recipes, kid's art project ideas, and far too many visuals for future kitchen remodeling. It's actually where I found most of my inspiration for the bathroom I redid this summer.

      Today, I received an e-mail from an administrator on the site telling me they had to remove one of my pictures. Because they don't allow objectionable or risque content on their site, they reminded me to make sure I didn't post anything else that went against their policies. 

      At first I felt bad. I even started to type a response and apologized in the first line. Then I was miffed. I have seen a lot of questionable and clearly risque content on that site before and always found it tasteless. Not funny or cute. And the thing that really bugged me, is that these pictures come up all the time. Not just once.

      So I continued my e-mail and mentioned that in comparison to some pins I've seen, I found mine to be more innocent than malicious. I also asked how one could go about reporting pins that contain partial/full nudity using the Pinterest App (as far as I can tell, this can only be done using the actual website).

      I will not hesitate to report an image that I find to be objectionable or risque in the future. But for now, I'd like your opinion. Is the picture below (the one that was removed from my site) really that bad? Tell me it didn't make you laugh.

      I'll Tell You...

      You know how after a baby is born, everyone waits their turn to hold and touch him. They snuggle that little bundle and coo over him, asking sweetly, "What did we ever do before you came?"

      Would you like to know? Well, I'll tell you.

      I've been cleaning. Organizing. Rearranging. Getting rid of things. Etc. Nesting. Never has my house been more neat and clean than it has the past month. From 36 weeks on, I have been on top of laundry and scrubbing my tub like nobody's business. Our dog has been shedding a lot, so I've been vacuuming like nobody's business.

      I almost want to take pictures of my house right now. Because I know in just a couple days (at least, I'm hoping!), the Baby will be here, and the time and energy needed to keep the house sparkling will not. As I'm sitting here typing, I'm noticing the front windows look like they have one too many finger prints on them. Heaven help me - when did I start being bothered about smudgy windows? This child better make his/her appearance soon before I turn into Kate Plus 8 who washed her floors three times a day - at least.

      I will not become insane. I will not become insane. I will not become insane.

      Wish me luck! 40 weeks, 3 days today.




      Sunday, October 02, 2011

      Passing the Time

      sharpbrains.com
      I am a huge fan of Su Doku puzzles. It's something I've been doing a lot of recently while waiting for the Baby. A couple Christmas's ago, Ian gave me a two paperback books filled with really difficult puzzles, and tonight, I finished the very last one. Bittersweet, I tell you. What am I to do now? Why, use my brain, of course!

      I downloaded an app on my iPod of su doku, but after one game, I just had to delete it. There was something off about having an electronic version as opposed to the real deal. I know some people feel this way about e-readers too or books read online. In one way they're great - lightweight, compact, functional, etc. But on the other hand, some people don't like giving up the look, smell, and feel of a real book. With su doku, I write a lot of notes in the squares and find singles, doubles, and triples that way. When I was using the iPod, all that went away - and instead the board blinked when I entered in the wrong number. Cheaters.

      I'll be on the lookout for another book for sure. To pass the time, I'm working on my bridesmaid dress. Did I mention I'm in my amazing friend's wedding this month? She is the best. And the dress I'm wearing is beautiful. Let me find a picture.
      billlevkoff.com

      Isn't it seriously great? I'm working on some alterations at the moment so I can breastfeed comfortably in it. Depending on when the Baby arrives, he/she will be less than three weeks old and will be with me throughout the day. The Bride is honestly the most non-bridezilla girl I have ever known...she picked out this dress for me with that important factor in mind. How thoughtful is that?

      Well, I'm off to bed. I hope everyone has a great Sunday!