Tuesday, August 30, 2011

36 weeks 6 days (Day 29 of 30)

Had my 37 week check-up today. No weight gain since last visit, so I'm at 22 lbs. Blood pressure is good, I am measuring properly, no swelling/adema. I saw a different midwife who I really liked and she said my cervix is softening and she could feel where baby's head is.

Only issue...I have a different strain of Group B Strep this time than last time, and it requires me to take penicillin. Yeah, I am allergic to penicillin. Slight issue, but hopefully we'll come up with a good solution! She said that if I leave it untreated, the baby could spend 7 - 10 days in the hospital on antibiotics, which would not be good. I am really glad they didn't just try to convince me to have a c-section at that point. I am so determined to have a safe, healthy, vaginal birth. My midwife consulted with one of the doctors before speaking with me today. They asked what type of reaction I had to penicillin as a child, and I said a rash and diarrhea. If that is all, they should still be able to give it to me, and I'll just deal with the symptoms. Much rather feel a little under the weather and pull through than risk baby being ill. I'm supposed to call back tomorrow to discuss this further.

My Motherboard, My Self (Day 28 of 30)

I have learned that having a computer in the repair shop is like having a friend in the hospital. You just keep your fingers crossed hoping you'll hear a positive outcome. Well, yesterday, I learned that my computer can be saved! It seems like all the files survived their crash to the ground, I now have a MUCH bigger hard drive and a newer operating system. I will have to re-install a few programs, like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop, but no big deal there. I get to pick it up in just a few hours! Yay :-)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Labor of Love (Day 27 of 30)

I started another blog briefly a while back just for my recipes. I would include some quick fixes and some "labor of love" recipes. Today, I was inspired by an episode of a Bobby Flay show to make some S'mores...from scratch. Graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate ganache to pour over. I wanted to do an all-natural graham cracker. I found a recipe and tweaked it some to my liking. After making them, I tweaked them a bit more. Here's the recipe:

Whole Wheat Honey Graham Crackers
1 cup + 2 T whole wheat flour
¼ cup raw sugar + 1 T extra for sprinkling
½ t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
2 T raw honey
2 T water
1 t quality vanilla extract
½ stick organic butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt stick of butter in a pan on the stove. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Add the liquids: honey, water, vanilla, and melted butter.
5. Stir well until a nice ball of dough is formed.
6. Cut two pieces of Parchment paper the size of the cookie sheet.
7. Lay one piece of parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
8. Place the ball of dough on the parchment paper.
9. Lay the other piece of parchment paper on top of the ball of dough. Squish dough down a little with your fist.
10. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough between the pieces of parchment paper. Roll until the dough is about 1/4 “ thick.
11. Remove the top piece of parchment paper. Cut rolled dough into 2 inch squares, or cut shapes with cookie cutters, being sure to separate the shapes from the surrounding dough a little.
12. Puncture small holes in the top with a fork and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
13. Bake in oven for 18 minutes.
14. Turn oven off, but leave crackers in the oven to get crisp.
15. Remove from oven after 30 minutes.
16. Eat immediately or store in an air-tight container.

Recipe makes about 10 2” x 2” graham crackers

Then I found a recipe for homemade marshmallows that did not contain corn syrup. I thought I completely messed up my marshmallows because I poured the liquid into the egg whites when it was still pretty warm, but i just kept mixing them in my mixer, and they came out perfect. This picture shows right when I poured the marshmallow into the pan to set up. I altered the recipe a bit to make them vanilla marshmallows. Yum!

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
1 ½ T powdered gelatin
1 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 t vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting pan and marshmallows
Butter, for greasing pan

1. In a small saucepan soak the gelatin in the cold water. After the gelatin has softened, approximately 10 minutes, add the regular sugar and then gently dissolve over low heat, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla extract, and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. In a mixer, beat the egg white until stiff peaks, and then fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar. 3. While the mixer is on low, slowly pour in the cooled gelatin mixture. Increase the speed and beat until white and thick. The volume should double in size and should form between soft and firm peaks.
4. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with high sides with foil, grease slightly with butter, and coat with confectioners' sugar. Alternatively, you can use a baking sheet, but the marshmallows will not be as tall. Pour marshmallow mixture in and top with more sifted confectioners' sugar. Leave out overnight or for at least 3 hours to set. The marshmallow should be light and spongy when set.
5. Loosen marshmallow from edges of tray and invert onto a large cutting board. Peel off foil and use a large knife to cut the marshmallows into cubes. Dredge each piece in confectioners' sugar.

For the chocolate part of the s'mores, I made a ganache with organic heavy whipping cream and bittersweet chocolate. I will have to assemble another one tomorrow and photograph the completed version. It was definitely quite yummy! Love cooking for my family. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Family Time (Day 26 of 30)

Spent a nice day with the family today. Jamie came over along with my parents. We just hung out and talked a bunch. Lydia had a lot of fun playing with everyone! She even enjoy playing with Poppa's harmonica. My little dancer and musician!

We all went to Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza for dinner. I tried something new - the pizza with sausage, meatballs, and ricotta with hot peppers on the side. Yum! I feel almost like Bryce (that seems to be "Baba"'s official name now) was with us tonight because he was wiggling around so much. Nice to see our little family beginning to grow.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Cheese Course & The Urban Farmer (Day 25 of 30)

First off, just realized that today's post is pretty much the midpoint between when I started these 30 days and my due date. That's pretty awesome!

Tonight Richard, Lydia, and I went to the new Cheese Course in Coral Springs for a free fruit and cheese pairing class. The Cheese Course features hundreds of cheeses, accompaniments (e.g. pestos, honey, fruits, nuts, etc.), bread, and wine. They have a menu with sandwiches, salads, and platters. You can eat there or just take cheese and other items to go. The event itself wasn't quite what I expected, but I did get to try some yummy things. Here are the two appetizers they served:
~An aged gouda with freshly-made mango jam a mint puree on a water cracker. I love aged gouda, and this paired nicely. It brought out the milder, sweeter flavors, but in a balanced way.
~Buffalo mozzarella with locally-grown roasted yellow squash/zucchini, onions, tomatoes, fresh oregano, basil, balsamic reduction, and olive oil.

After trying the different items, the local farmer and chef spoke to us (there were about 20 people in attendance). The local farmer began a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in her own yard. She explained the program she helps to run, where you can purchase weekly share of her produce along with other locally-grown/raised produce and meat. It's called The Urban Farmer. She's the mother of a two-year old daughter who inspired her to create this farm and buying club. Whenever I hear people speak about local farming, I find it to be very inspirational. I definitely want to look through the website and lean more about the products/services offered. It just makes me want to never eat another processed food again. She was talking about how much better nutrient-rich food tastes, and it is so true. I love the farm-to-table movement and the idea of "slow food" rather than "fast food." I've said it before - I want Lydia to know where her food comes from, how it is grown, how food is prepared, etc. I hope she enjoys cooking (and eating) like I do!

Oh, and the chef who prepared the food works at Daniel Boulud's restaurant in West Palm. That was pretty cool! May have to check it out one day.

I got "Sad Mac"ed (Day 24 of 30)

No better way to say it than this (my Facebook status update from earlier):

New 500 GB hard drive + attempt at retrieving my files + updated OS = $235. Moral of the story? Don't do airplane with your daughter when you are 36 weeks pregnant and have a MacBook on your lap :-(

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Product Review ~ Perfect Foods Bar

Normally, when I think of a protein bar or energy bar, I think of something people who exercise frequently must eat to benefit from their work-outs (even though they are not very tasty or natural). Perfect Foods Bars are very different. They are delicious and good for you! Click here to read more about the creation of these whole foods bars, started by a family passionate about good health and nutrition.

I sampled 4 of the 5 flavors: Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cranberry Crunch Lite, and Fruit & Nut. My favorite was the Almond Butter, but all of the flavors were delicious. They tasted like yummy, chewy cookies. These are great for on-the-go breakfasts as a source of energy and protein or snacks for road trips (or, of course, before/after a good work-out).

Health & Nutrition Facts for each bar:
  • Between 199 and 309 calories
  • Between 10 grams and 18 grams of protein
  • Made of organic nuts and honey
  • Free of preservatives, soy, refined sugar, and gluten
  • Contains other essential nutrients, such as Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus, Niacin, and Copper
  • Good source of fiber to aid in digestion
  • High in Omega-3s

BUY IT! Perfect Foods Bars can be purchased through their website or any of these retailers. A box of 8 bars is just $19.50 - $21.50, depending upon the flavor.

You can 'like' Perfect Foods Bar on Facebook or 'follow' on Twitter to keep up with the latest news and information.

* I received the aforementioned product for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eco-Friendly Choices (Day 23 of 30)

Let me begin by saying...the 4-week countdown is ON!

So last night, I participated in a Healthy Child, Healthy World and Seventh Generation twitter party. We talked about eco-friendly choices, and it made me really think about how many eco-friendly choices I have made, especially since giving birth to Lydia:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Cloth diapering
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Recycling pretty much everything I can
  • Donating unneeded goods to charities
  • Composting
  • Gardening using seeds from my kitchen
  • Reused tire mulch under our playground set
  • Greener household cleaning products
  • Organic food choices
  • Using reusable bottles for water and a Brita pitcher instead of buying water bottles
  • Some eco-friendly toys for Lydia
  • Conserving energy as much as possible 
  • Not using excessive quantities of gas - just driving when I need to
  • Refusing plasticware, bags, packaging in restaurants as often as possible
  • Reusing containers, butting back on zipper bags
I'm sure I'm forgetting several, but it feels good to confidently make these choices. Being more eco-conscious is a way of life. It makes you think about each decision you make, how it affects your life, the lives of your children, and the future generations. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Being a self-taught blogger (Day 22 of 30)

I see all these "courses" available to learn to blog, tweet, etc. I kinda feel like that defeats the purpose. I mean, I get that some people want to make truly profitable careers out of social media, but I do it for fun. I have learned how to win lots of cool prizes on twitter, obviously, and that does help offset the cost of groceries and entertainment. I also just enjoy engaging in social media - Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to learning how to navigate Twitter/Facebook well, recently I've figured out some HTML stuff. I decided to add a slideshow to my blog, so today I deleted some of the pictures I had in my right column, uploaded pictures to Photobucket, and inserted the HTML into a gadget. Well, when I previewed it, the slideshow was too large and completely off-center. So I messed around with the HTML to make it smaller and centered. It was a simple fix, but probably something I couldn't have figured out a few months ago. I also figured out how to link a button to something other than the original designated site so I could add someone's button to my blog, but a particular page within that person's blog. I think all that made sense...

At any rate, I'm still learning. I'm still finding new opportunities to host reviews and giveaways. I really enjoy writing reviews for toys, educational products, and eco-friendly products. When I am passionate about something, then I am passionate about the writing portion as well!

Short and sweet! (Day 21 of 30)

I can't wait to give Lydia her best friend <3

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One month away! (Day 20 of 30)

Somehow I'm only one month away from our due date and my baby boy being born. I feel prepared, but I also don't feel impatient. It seems like it was just January 11th. I had an appointment with an oral surgeon to get my wisdom teeth pulled. Richard and I "chanced" things on Christmas, so I figured before discussing pain killers and tooth extraction, I should take a pregnancy test. Sure enough, came back positive! I put the test in a gift bag, and pretty much bounced around the house endlessly. Well, until Richard came home. I had Lydia give Richard the bag with the test. He looked somewhat shocked at first, but then get all mushy and was so happy! We told my parents, who were not as thrilled at first. My mom tends to be an overly cautious individual, so she was concerned that I wasn't ready to be pregnant again. I knew everything would be great!

Today we cleaned and organized our house pretty thoroughly. I tend to make little piles around the house of random stuff - bills, coupons, work-related papers, product samples, etc. Sometimes I put the little piles in boxes. Well, today I sorted "stuff" from 4 or 5 of these piles/boxes. Felt good to organize, purge, and find things to donate. Then we organized the garage some. The house will never be "perfect," but it definitely looks a lot better now!

With one month to go, I completed my hospital registration. It will go out in tomorrow's mail. We toured the hospital several weeks ago, and although a hospital birth is not ideal for me, I think the experience will be what we make of it.

Just one more month...

Oops...I skipped a day. Time to be thankful! (Day 19 of 30)

This entry is to make up for not writing yesterday. I'm not sure how I completely forgot to post, but, it happens! Maybe I'll make this a "thankful" post. Here are some of the things that I am so thankful to have:
1. Richard, the world's most amazing husband, even though I tend to give him a hard time.
2. A beautiful, healthy, happy, loving daughter. Lydia is my world, my heart.
3. A very healthy pregnancy - with a baby boy who seems to be developing perfectly.
4. A mother, father, and sister who love me endlessly, even if they have a strange way of showing it sometimes. Whenever I need them, they are always there for me. I hope I am able to do the same for them.
5. Friends - I don't need a million of them, but I definitely appreciate the friends who have stuck by me over the years.
6. A nice house. It's not a mansion, it doesn't have the most modern kitchen or high-end furniture, but it is just enough for a family of four to live comfortably.
7. Enough income to live a nice life.
8. My education - I am glad that I have been able to find a passion and make a career out of it that allows me to contribute positively to my community. 
9. Food. I am so very thankful for food.
10. Electricity, especially during the summer in Florida.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Twitter Prizes! (Day 18 of 30)

I've been really into twitter parties recently, so I've kept a log of what I've won. Figured I'd share it with my readers. Twitter parties are such a wonderful way to try exciting new products you may not have the opportunity (or even interest) to try in the first place. I've been introduced to so many new things that I would definitely purchase in the future!

One Coconut Water (3 cases)
Organic Valley for a year ($520 value)
Dozen smoothies from HAPPYFAMILY
Almond Butter Prize Package
$25 Macy’s Gift Card
$25 Target Gift Card
Basket #1 from Creativity4Kids
Barney Butter–12 small packets (through Facebook)
$10 Starbucks Gift Card
Two Madame Alexander Dolls
Beach Safety Kit from VCA
Peace Love Mom shirt
Starbucks giftcard
Organic dog ear wipes
1 lb of jellybeans
Playskool heroes prize package
12 pints of Ben & Jerry’s
Green chat prize
Fine Cooking prize – Grilling magazine
Disney Princess castle and Ariel doll
Best Pals grand prize
Udderly smooth basket
Kim & Scott’s Pretzel coupon
$85 shopping spree to All Locally Made
2011-2012 Planner in Chocolate
Pair of Squeaker Shoes
Imagine Toys product for review
Prize #5 from The Tender Filet
HAPPYBABY shirt and water bottle
Cheese Club Kit – Bertolli® Tasting Certificate, Bottle Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Monthly shipment of artisanal cheeses for three months
50 business cards
Case of Beanitos
Thermos Lunch Kit
SparkParks Playground Prize pack
Melissa & Doug Farm train set & freight train
Leapfrog Let’s Go To School DVD
Weleda Mother/Baby Kit
$100 from Simply OJ
One month supply of Best Oats 

A lot of my friends have asked about Twitter Parties since I began participating in them. Here's a brief overview of what they are all about.  But basically, if you want to figure twitter out, you just need to register and start tweeting! It's definitely a trial/error process to figure out how it all works.

Next step for me: find a way to host my own twitter party!  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tommee Tippee Web App Review ~ The Day Baby Was Born

When I reflect back on the day Lydia was born, I tend to have negative feelings regarding the doctors, nurses, and hospital in general. I do regret some of the decisions that were made for and by me, as I do not believe they were the best decisions that could have been made. However, if you play life by the end results, then the result was a healthy, beautiful baby girl and a mom who was pretty much back to herself within just 5 or 6 days. I just wish that I was more confident and the medical staff was more supportive.

As I've written before, I will be attempting a VBAC with this pregnancy (due date is just 33 days away - time flew by!) Regardless of what happens the day baby #2 is born, the experience on the whole has been so different. Baby #1 - Girl; Baby #2 - Boy. I gained about twice as much weight with Lydia as I have this time. I was a pescatarian with my first pregnancy, and now I eat meat. I have a midwife and not an OB/GYN this time. So many changes, all of which I think show just how much I have learned in the last two years.

In my desire to have a more natural labor and delivery, listening to my body and following what it says to do, I daydream of the amazing day when my son will be born. I also enjoy writing about how I hope things will be, so when I learned of this web app The Day Baby Was Born by Tommee Tippee, I was very excited! Here's what I did to register:

1. I logged in for free using my Facebook account.
2. I answered a few simple questions about myself (name, zip code, etc.)
3. Then it began to ask me questions about Baby #2. I specified my due date and the gender, and I was able to upload a photo from my ultrasound (luckily I have a few 3D images).
4. An account was created, and I am now able to create a free storybook about the birth of my son!

This was such a simple registration process and this web app allows me to put so much information all in one place, including:
  • Online pregnancy announcement (with my friend's Facebook comments)
  • A weekly pregnancy journal
  • Online birth announcement
  • News & Facts from the day baby is born
  • Your personal story ~ I think this is the most important part of this website. Every birth is different, every family is different, and every baby is different. Sharing personal birth stories is a great way to reconnect with your own feelings and connect with other family members and friends.
  • A letter to baby ~ Richard and I both wrote one for Lydia, and I still get misty-eyed re-reading them. I think it's a really awesome thing to do before baby is born! 
  • Photos ~ I am such a photo-freak! Perfect feature for me!
I try to maintain an actual baby book for Lydia and I have started one for this baby, but sometimes it's hard to remember to add new photos, fill out information, etc. so I lose track of exact numbers like dates and measurements. Having access to an online account that allows me to input this information as soon as I acquire it will make things so much easier! After completing the book, you are able to download it to print and share it with friends on Facebook. This app was so user-friendly, as it really walks you through each step of your personalized The Day Baby Was Born book. I highly recommend it to pregnant women and new mommies (and daddies, of course!)
*I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Tommee Tippee blogging contest for a chance to get a gift pack worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

I'm Just Pooped! (Day 17 of 30)

Sometimes, mommies need to forgive themselves for not being able to do it all. I worked all day today, I'm physically and mentally drained, and I just spent about an hour and a half trying to get my screaming/crying toddler to sleep. This isn't the entry I planned to write tonight, but I must allow myself to just breathe, get a nice drink of water, and go to bed. Goodnight, everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Imagine Toys Review ~ Pretend & Play Birthday Set

I just learned of a great website, Imagine Toys. They carry toys for children birth through 11+ years. Toys are organized into categories, age groups, price range, and brand so parents can really explore all of the different types of toys they carry.

I was so excited to receive the Pretend & Play Birthday Set in the mail to review, just in time for Lydia's birthday! Birthdays only come once a year, but with this pretend play set, your child can pretend it's his birthday every day of the year. The set comes with everything pictured below:

 48 Pieces include:
  • A birthday crown
  • 5 numbered candles
  • 3 nesting presents
  • 5 slices of cake
  • 5 plates
  • Pretend camera
  • Wipe off crayons and more!
I think people often disregard the value of imaginative play in learning early, fundamental skills that are building blocks to learning more advanced skills. This pretend play set targets so many of those skills! Here are just a few of the variety of skills children can learn while playing with this great set from Learning Resources:

~Social skills - With 5 slices of cake, 5 plates, and just one birthday crown, children are required to take turns to play with this set imaginatively. One child can be the 'birthday kid' while the others are guests at the party. Children can also play different roles, like the invitation maker, cake baker, cake slicer, and gift giver. Role playing is such an important part of a child's development.

~Early math skills - Some of the early math skills targeted in this set include number identification, counting, and one-to-one correspondence (understanding that each guest receives one slice of cake, one plate, and one invitation). The nesting gifts also work on teaching size concepts.

~Fine Motor development - Fine motor skills are those that require use of your hands. Children can work on placing the candles in the cakes, similar to placing pegs in a peg board. They can work on placing each lid on the corresponding gift before arranging by size. Adjusting the crown to the proper size and taking pictures with the camera also require the child to use both hands together.

~Language skills - Most importantly, pretend play allows children to practice their language skills. Parents can provide their children with directions to play with each piece in new ways. Here are some examples:
  • "Put the candle in the cake and put the cake on the plate."
  • "Take a picture of daddy wearing the birthday crown."
  • "Show me what you do with the birthday candles."
Children can also work on their own spontaneous language as they explore each piece in this set and use it to make up pretend games with parents and friends. Here's a video clip of Lydia (age 2) and Daddy playing together. The recommended age for this toy is 3+, but with supervision, I think this set is appropriate for children who are 2 years of age. As you can see in this clip, children naturally work on imaginative and imitative play, expressive/receptive language skills, motor skills, and social skills when playing with the Pretend & Play Birthday Set.

Even though this toy has a lot of pieces, they all fit together into a small container for easy clean up!

BUY IT! Interested in owning a Pretend & Play Birthday Set for your child? It's on sale now at Imagine Toys for just $19.99.

Imagine Toys offers many other wonderful pretend play sets, like a Standing Puppet Theater by Alex, Lil' Shopper Play Set by Earlyears, and the Ice Cream Social play set, which is on sale now for just $9.97.

You can also 'like' Imagine Toys on Facebook and 'follow' Imagine Toys on Twitter, where they host fun Twitter parties with great giveaways.

* I received the aforementioned product for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

A Boy's Bedroom (Day 16 of 30)

Since we bed-shared with Lydia past the crib stage, we figured there would be no point in designing a nursery for our baby boy. Instead, we decided to make a toddler room that doubles as a learning room for Lydia. I noticed that I had a lot of primary-colored items around the house (mostly from my teaching career), so I thought about what type of theme would go with primary colors. Then it hit me: Outerspace! I think I design rooms in a way that is similar to how actual designers do it - I started with a wall color and then found accessories to go with it. Here are images of the things that I put together:

This is the wall color from the Buzz Lightyear Collection - Star Command Blue
Moon lamp from IKEA

Rocket Lamp from Target

Large space rug from Amazon

Kidcraft table/chairs from BuyBuyBaby
These are the last two pieces I would like to purchase for the room. I think it will definitely be complete after we get these:

Guidecraft Star & Moon Shelves

What do you think? What theme do you have in your child's room? Did you put it together piece by piece? Does your child like his/her bedroom?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The "What Ifs" (Day 15 of 30)

If I am calculating things correctly, I believe I have hit the midpoint of my 30 days of posting thing. YAY to me! I really don't have too much to say today. I had a midwife appointment today. If any of you ever read my post about my first labor/delivery, you'd see that it pretty much sucked! In retrospect, it sucks even more. This time around, I have a great midwife who is supportive of VBACs, so I feel great about being given the opportunity to try things again the 'right' way.

But today I decided to open the "What If" box... What if things don't go according to my birth plan? What if I need another c-section? And...for what reasons would I 'need' one? The main reason for having another c-section would be if I didn't go into labor by 41 weeks. With a VBAC, they cannot induce, so I'd automatically have to schedule a c-section for my safety and the safety of my child. There's also a very slight risk of uterine rupture, but that doesn't scare me. I want to do everything the natural way - I am not allowed to have Pitocin or any related drugs, which is a definite plus. They encourage moms not to even go to the hospital until contractions are 5 mins apart (my last dr. said 8 mins apart). I told my midwife that I do not under any circumstances want an epidural. I want to experience all that my body has to offer me. I want to get into the most ideal position, I want to push when my body encourages me to push, I want to get so caught up in the moment that even though it is painful, it is also magical. I hope it can be all that I dream it can be!

The "What Ifs" can still be scary, though...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Parenting and Our Children's Emotions (Day 14 of 30)

Now that my daughter is approaching two, I notice her experiencing more of a range of emotions. She's happy, sad, frustrated, disappointed, goofy/silly, etc. I've also noticed myself anticipating her emotions and responding accordingly. Sometimes this is awesome because she gets me so excited with her happiness, but sometimes it's hard because I feel her sadness.

Lydia loves our pets, but at the beginning of the summer, we had to put down my oldest (and her favorite) cat. While I was sad because I had to part with her, I was more sad because Lydia was losing her favorite cat. Obviously Lydia has long forgotten about her (as this was about 8 weeks ago), but the hardest part of losing Emmy was experiencing Lydia's loss.

Emmy's last day with us
Well, today was another loss for Lydia, even if she doesn't fully understand it.  Lydia fell in love with her cousins Kayla and Kyra this summer. She'd wake up in the morning and say "Kay" and "Ky," hoping they'd be at our house that day. We went on vacation together at the beginning of the summer and she wanted to do everything with them. We went out to dinner to say 'goodbye' to them last night - they come down during the summer and every other Winter Break, but they live in Ohio the rest of the year - but I decided that wasn't enough. So today, we spent the day together. Lydia, Kayla, Kyra, and I went to Young at Art Children's Museum. We all had a genuinely great time! The museum focuses on recycling, so there are lots of different areas set up throughout with different projects kids can make using recycled materials. The girls made some nice projects, and I had fun making a few, too. Here are some pictures:

Making a recycled craft
Making Japanese kites
Digging for artifacts
Mr. Potato Head

Making recycled puppets

Leaving the museum
Out to lunch Mexican-style
 We went out for lunch after, and everyone enjoyed their food. I hope Lydia remembers her cousins and looks forward to seeing them this Christmas. I'm glad that she had big girls this summer to spend time with and look up to. I never had cousins when I was little (I just had my mom, dad, younger sister, one grandma, and one great aunt), so it's nice to watch her enjoy their company so much. We'll have to frame some photos of them together this summer and hang them in her room :-) I think she will like that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our Big Sister Birthday Party (Day 13 of 30)

Lydia had a beautiful early 2nd big sister birthday party yesterday! This was a double celebration...actually, triple! Lydia's 2nd birthday, becoming a big sister, and the soon-to-be birth of her baby brother. How exciting! We had the party at our community swimming pool. Lots of friends and our family showed up. We did a sandwich bar with salads, dips/chips, veggies, fruit, etc. She had a great time swimming, and she received some beautiful gifts. Overall, the perfect 2nd birthday party! Here are some of the pictures:

Lydia's friend Kahlan with her mommy Lauren
My big swimming girl!

Lydia's friend Brandon

Birthday Cake

Lydia's cousin Kayla

Lydia with her cousin Kyra

Big Sis shirt for winter time!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Simple Mathematics (Day 12 of 30)

They say love multiplies, not divides. I look forward to watching the love in my family grow exponentially. Pretty amazing to think about!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Featured Teacher (Day 11 of 30)

I'm really trying to boost my at-home career and my blog by reviewing educational toys and materials. I definitely got a wonderful start when Guidecraft invited me to be an Educator Blogger. When I first started my blog Spring 2010, I also did a guest post for The Big Toy Book.

I noticed this past week that Melissa & Doug posted a status on their Facebook page asking teachers to describe how one of their toys can be used as a teaching tool. One teacher will be featured each month in a newsletter they will be starting soon. I'll wait until the first newsletter comes out to share my idea with you -- Because I was chosen as their first Featured Teacher! This is a very exciting opportunity and makes me feel really good about my 'basket of tricks' - using toys as tools to teach children language skills. I love Melissa & Doug toys because they are so classic looking, developmentally-appropriate for many stages, and allow children to use their imaginations. Because I was chosen as a featured teacher, I got to pick $25 in products from their website. I chose to get the Farm Train Set and an extra freight train. I know Lydia played with trains at her preschool, so I think she will like this. Great gender-neutral toy, too.
Farm Train Set from Melissa & Doug

Lydia playing with the train set at her preschool, April 2011.

I'll share the link to the first newsletter with my readers when it comes out!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marriage and Compromise (Day 10 of 30)

Obviously, a big part of marriage is compromise. Sometimes couples are really good at this, sometimes not. Richard and I, historically, have only really fought about one thing: his love of sports, specifically football, the Miami Dolphins. Each year I get anxious as football season approaches. I know it will cause unnecessary battles (and I blame myself for my impatience). But it really isn't the football that's the problem...it's the checking other scores, checking Fantasy Football, reading all the articles before/after, checking the ESPN app, etc. Plus, I'm not a fan of having to plan my Sundays around football. I grew up in a house where my father probably couldn't name one player, team, position, or any other football anything. I knew nothing of sports and how crazed people got until I went to UF - total culture shock for me!!

At the beginning of each football season, I tell myself I'll be kinder and more patient because my husband deserves it, but I'm not always so good at sticking to that. Well, this year, I want to make it work for our family. Two children, one grumpy wife, and one football-crazed husband won't work, but maybe something WILL work. Here's what I proposed:

1. Richard can watch all Sunday Dolphin games.
2. Richard can read all the articles, Fantasy Football stuff, check other scores, etc. during the Dolphin game.
3. He can go out to watch 2 games at World of Beer or some other sports bar (with a two drink limit).
4. He can trade Dolphins games for Gator games if he prefers.
5. He can clap loudly during a Dolphins game watched at home IF Lydia and her brother are both awake.


6. No endless hours searching Sun-Sentinel.com for articles.
7. No checking scores constantly.
8. No Fantasy Football all the time.
9. No non-Dolphin games (without exchanging for Dolphins games).
10. Monday games = questionable

I want to learn to be patient and accepting of the whole sports thing, but I know it will be a struggle having a baby right at the start of football season, so I hope this all works out well. I also hope that if we find something better to do as a family on Sunday, that comes first. I guess we'll see how everything goes, but I am glad that some guidelines were agreed upon before football season begins!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Revisiting My 1st Pregnancy (Day 9 of 30)

I woke up this morning with that "Okay, I'm starting to have enough of this" thing. Today is 34 weeks. Just 6 left (hopefully). My grumpiness (sore back, cramping, overall unmotivated/lethargic feeling) reminded me of a blog post I wrote about being pregnant the first time around. I was probably right around 34 weeks that time, too. I've definitely handled things much better this pregnancy. For the most part, I've really embraced and enjoyed my experiences. I've learned so much about my body since the last pregnancy, and I think I have put all that knowledge to good use. So, if you want a good laugh from Carrie (July 17, 2009), here it is:

I've tried to remain very positive throughout my whole pregnancy, especially these last few weeks, but after just tripping over my comforter and falling to the ground in my own bedroom, it's time to bitch a little bit. I think if I just get these thoughts off my chest, I'll feel better. Let's try!

Some people say that pregnancy is the most beautiful thing they've ever experienced. Those people are either a.) lying or b.) masochists. Here are all the things they DON'T tell you before you get knocked up:

1. morning sickness - nothing morning about it. it's all day, everyday, for several months.
2. it doesn't matter if your boobs are real or fake - they become saggy messes either way.
3. back/rib pain - my back hurts most of every day, especially while i was working full-time. massages were great temporary fixes, but basically, it just hurts.
4. stretch marks - doesn't matter if you never had them before, you're going to get them now. the cocoa butter may help a drip, but not all that much. they just look bad.
5. lack of coordination - i just can't do the things that i want to do, like stand up and put pants on or shave my legs well. never thought about what a luxury those were.
6. (omitting this one)
7. acne - i haven't had this many zits and blackheads since high school. horrible. plus, it's not like you can really treat it. i have some all-natural stuff, but it doesn't help all that much.
8. farting - yeah, nothing you can do about that.
9. false peeing/accidentally peeing - sometimes i feel like i have to pee, then nothing comes out. on two occasions, i actually started to accidentally pee in my pants without even realizing that i had to go at all.
10. baby wiggling - this sometimes gets annoying now that she's so big and I feel it so frequently.
11. advice - every single person alive wants to give you pregnancy advice. most of it sucks.
12. maternity clothing - it's just not cute or well-made.
13. thicker/frizzier hair - my hair does not shed AT ALL, so even though it's cut/thinned, it is still so thick and unmanageable. i always groom my hair well, so this is very annoying.
14. being fat - i know this sounds silly, but i've always been slender to average. thighs rubbing together, more cellulite...im just not used to this, so it's uncomfortable.
15. restricted diet - sometimes i just want a bite of sushi or a tuna melt. maybe just a sip of Sam Adams or a mimosa?
16. answering the same questions over and over again...how many weeks along? the sex? the name? I've been pregnant for 10 years, its a hermaphrodite, and its name is Satan. (sorry, baby, mommy does really love you, i promise!!)
17. sleeping - i know this gets much worse, but i just can't sleep comfortably anymore. pretty much i've just given up on sleep already.

Okay, so now that I got all that out...here are some really nice things about pregnancy:
1. The excitement of each ultrasound. It is very exciting!
2. Finding out the sex - again, definitely exciting.
3. People letting you get away with things in stores. Like, they'll actually hold doors for you and let you go down an aisle before them.
4. The first few months of baby kicking and moving around. It's very cute, and sometimes cute towards the end, too.
5. Putting together a registry. I really enjoyed picking everything out.
6. Having a baby shower is better than almost any other event (except my wedding - that was just an amazing weekend!!)
7. Designing the nursery - Love it!
8. Gaining the support of those around you. Being pregnant definitely shows you who is really there for you and who is not so supportive. This is a good lesson to learn.
9. The oooo's and ahhhh's. The attention is nice at first.
10. Sharing something beautiful with your husband.
11. Pregnancy allows you to dream a lot more. I have so many fantasies about being a mom. Some may be realistic, some probably aren't, but the dreaming part is fun!!

I think that's about all I can think about. I do actually feel much better now. Maybe venting every so often is good - I just don't want to be a negative, pessimistic person anymore!! :-) :-) :-)

And when I'm not "Huppie Mama" (Day 8 of 30)

I'm director of a nonprofit organization for children with moderate to severe disabilities. Last summer, we won a grant through Chase Community Giving for $20,000. This year, of the 200 grants they gave out in last summer's competition, they chose about a dozen organizations to focus on, and we were one of them. They created a video of Abi's Place to promote what they have done and spread the word about our organization.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Language Development (Day 7 of 30)

Every night I bathe with Lydia. A lot of times we sing together, play with her bath toys, write in bath foam or with bath markers. It's a nice bonding experience for us. I think she enjoys it as much as I do. Today she picks up a washcloth and the following occurs:

Lydia: Mama, what's this?
Me: A washcloth
Lydia: Hm, butt

She then proceeds to scoop a bunch of bubbles on to the washcloth and scrub her bottom with it. I know this doesn't sound very significant, but lately we're having conversational exchanges. She asks questions, I answer, she responds, I respond.

At one point, maybe around 6 months ago, I was slightly concerned about her language development. She began talking and signing single words around 8 months of age. She was doing great then! Lots of single words. She continued to learn individual words slowly for a while...with somewhat poor articulation. But her receptive language grew tremendously. At around 18 months, she heard me talking to her dad about not being able to locate a specific bathing suit. I saw her go in her bedroom, open a drawer, pull it out, and bring it to me. I thought that was pretty amazing! I wasn't even certain she knew the word bathing suit, much less which one I wanted and where to find it.

Lately, her expressive language has really grown. Today she wanted something out of the fridge, which I was holding open and started to close. She goes "No no no! That door!" so that I would keep it open. She went in, pulled out what she wanted and said "Cheese!" It's usually very clear what she wants and when. That makes for a happy child and happy parents.

I think with infants and toddlers, people often judge intelligence by a child's language and motor skills. It's what is most obvious. My daughter is quite shy around less familiar adults. In fact, her uncle on my husband's side (who sees her maybe 5 times a year even though he lives nearby...and really has no idea of how to interact with her) said she was "weird" the other day and voiced concerns about her language development. It's that "stranger danger" thing that he knows little to nothing about. Get her around her "Mamaw" and "Pawpaw" (my parents) and she's plenty talkative. But beyond just the obvious walking/talking, there are so many other hidden skills.

I sat down today with some brand-new Guidecraft toysthat I will be reviewing next month. I wanted to see what Lydia thought of them. The toys are ages 2+ and require a lot of manipulating (puzzles, sorting by shape, size, color, etc.). Lydia picked up how to complete these manipulative toy/puzzles almost instantly. Not only that, she wanted to do them several times over with minimal assistance. Amazing how she was able to logically reason through manipulating these pieces and figure out how to arrange in size order and by shape. Even though I am pretty aware of developmental stages, I have a feeling she was able to do things beyond her age. I would have to check a developmental profile, though, to be certain.

Sometimes, it's hard to separate what I know educationally and what my mother instincts tell me. This is true with both my child and other people's children. It's hard not to say "Wow, that child may need some assistance in (this) area" when I see a friend's child months behind developmentally. But then I guess I think about Richard's brother thinking Lydia is behind in her language... and realize that when I am around others, I am only able to get a snapshot into that child's life. And beyond that, with others knowing my area of expertise and what I do professionally, if they don't ask me questions, clearly they are just not concerned.

At the end of the day, I am exceptionally proud of the girl my daughter is already growing into. I am amazed each day at all that she is able to do and all that I know she will do one day!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Falling in Love (Day 6 of 30)

I am one of those rare people who gets to fall in love again everyday. Not like in 50 First Dates. Well, I don't know...maybe it is kinda like that. My husband has a zillion quirky behaviors that drive me insane. Snoring, passing gas, watching sports more than I care to watch, repeating the same line from a song 100 times over, picking his nose, scratching his butt... You get the idea.

But there's also something so incredibly amazing about him. Something I can't really describe. It's so far beyond just a sense of security or stability or love. I am IN LOVE everyday. I fall in love watching him play with my daughter. I fall in love watching him randomly bring me a cup of water because he knows I'm thirsty. I fall in love with him when he puts my feet on his lap and rubs them. I fall in love with him when he comes to bed at night. I fall in love with him when he licks his plate clean after I cook him dinner. I fall in love with him when he accomplishes something important at work. I fall in love with him when I see him speak in front of an audience. I fall in love with him when it's just the two of us in a restaurant together. I fall in love with him in the car, on the couch, in the kitchen...Hell, in the bathroom.

It saddens me to think that some people may never experience this, because I think it's one of the few benefits to being humans (besides the whole being able to communicate, get dressed, have sex for pleasure, think rationally, live in homes, etc.). I hope my daughter and my son learn from us. I hope they learn how to love purely and be loved thoroughly and completely. I hope they learn to give themselves honestly and expect and respect the same in return. To make sacrifices, but only because they love endlessly. All I can do is lead by example and remember to love my wonderful husband the same way.

I am still so in love with you.

April 30th, 2005

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Labor and Delivery (Day 5 of 30)

I've been daydreaming about my labor and delivery all day. I hope it will be amazing. I can do it naturally. I will do it naturally. I will embrace every moment of it by relaxing and trusting my body, something I don't think I was capable of doing or even understanding the last time. So excited to experience all that it can be as we bring our son into the world...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Biting My Tongue, Clenching My Fists (Day 4 of 30)

So yesterday I spoke about motherhood and social media. Today, I will describe something that happened a few months back. A new mom who I work with invited me to join a mom group on Facebook. I was hesitant, but decided to join in. I noticed there were a lot of moms who were very unlike me: hiring nannies, allowing their children to cry-it-out at a very young age, formula-feeding, giving solid foods at or before 4 months, etc. At first I ignored their posts, but then I began to get confused...hiring a sleep trainer? a night nurse? So I started to ask questions and make comments. Then it happened...I couldn't bear to bite my tongue (clench my fists) any longer. A mom was talking about how her child "needed" pre-digested formula. Apparently it has a very off-putting odor/flavor, so this mother was asking how to make it more tolerable for her child. The suggestions included adding either SPLENDA or VANILLA EXTRACT! So basically, a chemical artificial sweetener or 70-proof alcohol. Great ideas! I expressed my opinions (including facts about infants from reliable resources) and my responses were NOT well-received. I guess it was probably mostly mommy guilt (or just plain ignorance), but I was kicked out of the group. I think I said some other things that weren't well-received either, but I can't even remember now. However, getting kicked out helped me because I formed my own group called Responsive Parenting, and I invited people who I wanted to be there. People whose knowledge, experiences, and opinions are actually valuable to me.

Last week, a woman I know wrote a FB status update about her daughter and formula. It was a logical update/question. Some of her friends responded by weaning off formula at a very young age (7 months) and replacing it with cow's milk. Then, to make it taste better, they added Strawberry Quik. Some people also suggested that it's okay to wean off formula if a child is eating a lot of finger foods. I voiced my opinion/knowledge a few times, but then I just stopped.

At the end of the day, I can't control (or even suggest) how people should raise their children. All I can do is be the best mother I can be to my children... and hope when it's time for them to make friends, they choose wisely!
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