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Monday, January 30, 2012

Toddle Along Tuesday: The Mommy Battles

This week I'm linking up with Growing Up Geeky for Toddle Along Tuesday! This week's topic is advice for Moms-to-be.

Some of the most important lessons I learned about being a Mother revolve around finding my voice, my confidence, and my values when it came to all things Motherhood. Who am I? Am I doing this right? Who is the judge of what "right" is? Here are a few of the battles that you may encounter as you find your inner Mommy.

Pediatrician vs. Advocacy
We do our research, but we don't have a medical degree. No one wants to be "that Mom" driving the doctor crazy with phone calls and symptoms we Googled at 3am when we were too worried to sleep. So, we second guess ourselves, apologize for calling, and follow pediatrician's orders to the letter. While its always a good idea to build a relationship with your pediatrician (or practice of pediatricians) we have a right to ask questions and follow up if we feel like something is being over looked. Never, ever be afraid to ask to see a different doctor, for a second opinion, or for further testing. Don't underestimate the power of Mothering instinct.

For months, C's original pediatrician brushed off our concerns regarding his physical development being delayed. He was seven months old and not yet able to sit up independently. At ten months, he wasn't crawling.  We kept being told it would come in time. When we switched pediatricians, it took exactly one visit for the doctor to recommend Early Intervention. Had we stayed with the other doctor, who knows where we'd be today.

Mommy Time vs. Guilt
True or False: Once you have a child, your life becomes a series of sacrifices. False! Once the baby is born and comes home, its very easy to give, give, give. When I was on maternity leave, there would be days when J would come home from work and I hadn't showered or really eaten. I didn't make it a priority to find time to do these things - I HAD TO stay with C's colicky little butt 24/7. Of course he needed to be taken care of, but there were a lot of offers from friends and family to help out that I didn't take advantage of. I was the Mom after all and asking for help so early on was admitting defeat. I know; doesn't that sound crazy?

Take time, Moms. Take time for yourself. Take people up on offers to watch the baby while you shower. Baby napping? Leave the dishes alone. Sit on the couch and watch something mindless on TLC. A happy Mom makes for a happy baby.

The Organic Homemade Utopia vs. Reality
We all do it. My child was never going to eat fast food, watch TV, or play with light up, over stimulating toys. Guess what - he does all three. We all have best intentions for our children and want to give them the absolute healthiest and best option out there. We buy the organic bananas, natural fiber pajamas, and only grace their bottom with paraben and alcohol free baby wipes. Then life happens.

I'm not knocking the natural, organic lifestyle at all; we cloth diaper, buy hormone free milk, etc. but when we're at a restaurant and there is only apple juice or 1% milk available for C, its not the end of the world. Don't beat yourself up over the occasional happy meal or episode of Mickey Mouse Club. Your child will still grow up to be a happy, healthy kid. I promise. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Mom vs. Mom
If you haven't heard, Motherhood is one gigantic pissing contest. Oh, your kid is crawling? Well, mine is running. Aw, your kid can say "mama?" Well, mine can recite the Gettysburg Address. In Latin. You may laugh, but ask any Mom - its pretty true. I'm going to be a big ol' hypocrite by saying this, but don't let it bother you.

I can be pretty sensitive about C being behind most of the kids his age, but really there isn't any reason to be. Its not just positive mumbo jumbo - babies really do develop at their own pace and yours will too. Hang in there, celebrate the milestones as they come, and if your neighbors 1 year old is potty trained, dressing themselves, and reciting poetry, good for them. Jerks. ;-)

As you learn the ins and outs of this crazy new job, its okay to stumble, ask questions, and feel confused/overwhelmed. Find out what works for you and stick with it. Most of all, whatever happens - give yourself a break from the self-critisism, look yourself in the mirror, and pat yourself on the back. YOU ARE AWESOME. End of story.

Have a some advice for Moms to be? Just want to read a really funny/informative/geeky Mom blog? Check out Growing Up Geeky and Toddle Along Tuesday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Your Three Words: Bring it, February.

I realized something horrible yesterday. As you may or may not know, I work at a university so my whole life is divided up by semesters. Well, despite feeling like we've been ass deep in the spring semester for MONTHS, its really only been....two weeks. Lord help me.

The cherry on top of my epiphany sundae is realizing what the month of February is going to look like; events and programs almost every weekend, lots of deadlines and meetings, and elections for the group I advise. Plus, I'm participating in this year's production of The Vagina Monologues (yay, vaginas!), but that's on my own desire to be a scheduling crazy person.

In reality, February won't be too bad; I love my job, I don't mind being busy, and talking about vaginas and making people visibly uncomfortable is fun. The down side is the lack of C and J time that is bound to result. I'm going to have to make it a serious point to spend some QT with the boys to keep my sanity.

So, here's to the end of January - you were a good, relatively calm month and I'm sad to see you go. As for February, I say bring it, you day off-less, extra long this year heathen.

Can you sum up your week in three words? Every  Friday, Jenni from the Blog challenges bloggers to do just that every week. Fun, huh? Join in the fun! When you've written about your three words, hop around to other blogs participating in Y3W by clicking this lovely button!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

February Swap Sponsors

Calling all Mommy bloggers/businesses! How do you feel about swapping sponsorships for the month of February?

Over the last year and a half, I've been steadily gaining readers and have been getting my name out there, but I know there is more I can do. If you're in the same boat (or have a successful/popular blog and just feel like joining in), lets swap!

You post my button and I'll post yours through the month of February as well as include a blurb about your blog/business in a sponsorship post. Please make buttons 150 x 150 so they fit in my side bar.

What do you think? If you're interested, email me at misscraftiepants (at) gmail (dot) com!

Wordless Wednesday: New Family Tradition

Since we get a family membership through C's daycare, we've decided to go to the YMCA and swim every Saturday that we can. New family tradition #1! Here are the pictures from last Saturday's swimming adventure.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Toddle Along Tuesday: Must Have Item

Course #1. No, I'm not kidding.
This week, I'm linking up with Growing Up Geeky for Toddle Along Tuesday! This week's topic is your current must have baby/toddler item.

For us, I can say that it's hands down our food scissors. Yes, I said food scissors. Like, plain old stuck in your knife block scissors made to cut food. With a bottomless pit for a toddler, a knife and fork just don't cut it (see what I did there?) and the scissors make it faster and easier to prep food for the beast.

They work so well, we actually bought a second set for the diaper bag. They even came with a sheath, making them all travel savvy. Sure, people give us funny looks in restaurants, but I can cut a slice of pizza into toddler sized pieces in literally a minute. Just make long cuts up the slice without going through the crust, then cuts straight across to make the desired sized pieces. Take that fork and knife.

While its not your typical baby item, it's definitely a keeper.

Have a favorite baby item you want to rave about? Just want to read a really funny/informative/geeky Mom blog? Check out Growing Up Geeky & Toddle Along Tuesday!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cleaning Supply Revamp

As part of my 2012 goals, we aren't going to buy a single commercial/pre-made cleaner this year, but instead use homemade and natural cleaners in our home.

Why? A few reasons. Firstly, I'm frugal. Cleaners are expensive and don't seem to go on sale too often. Secondly, there seems to be a gazillion different types of cleaners - one for every individual thing in the house meaning we end up with a collection like this...

That's 14 different cleaners from under the sink or the cleaning closet. After I took the picture, I realized I'd missed like 5 or 6 others, so that brings the total to at least 19 bottles. WHY!?

Lastly, the overwhelming majority of these cleaners are toxic chemicals - hence the gloves. Call me a crunchy granola Mom, but why use chemicals that aren't good for my home, my family, and the environment? Granted, we'll probably keep the Clorox spray around for the seriously scary stuff (i.e. like dropping raw chicken on the counter, down the cabinet, and on the floor), but otherwise, its all going. We're going to use up whatever we have a tiny bit left of and donate/give away the rest.

Instead, we're going to switch to these four ingredients - white vinegar, baking soda, Borax, and washing soda. Seriously - these four things will not only clean and deodorize your entire house, but whiten clothes, wash dishes, and keep away common household pests. As a bonus, the word on the street is that they do it better than the toxic stuff.

After lots of Pinterest-ing and searching for recipes, I found a ton of easy recipes for various cleaners using only these four ingredients with the occasional random ingredient thrown in - essential oil, citrus, hydrogen peroxide, etc.

Here's the basic breakdown of what the different ingredients do:

  • Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
  • Soap - unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
  • Lemon - one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
  • Borax - (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
  • White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
  • Washing Soda - or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
  • Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.
With that guide, you can clean just about anything. Need to clean grout? Borax and water into a paste. Need to clean baby toys that were all over the floor? Vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Need dishwashing detergent? Borax, washing soda, salt, and citrus.

Its all right there - and for cheap too. All four of these ingredients combined cost less than $10 and will make an absolute ton of cleaning solution. My first project is going to be to clean the nasty grout in the kitchen. More on that later this week!

Do you have any cleaning solution tips or recipes? What are your favorites?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Snow of 2012!

Hooray for snow! And we thought the Northwest was going to have all the fun this winter. While this wasn't C's first snow, it was definitely the first he enjoyed. Back in October, we had about six inches dumped on us as a "welcome back up north" present from Mother Nature. It was thankfully cleaned up before C's birthday party the next day and with family in town, it was a blast to go outside and play.

Back in October, however, C was less than impressed...

If that's not a "WTF?!" face, I don't know what is.

Fortunately, this was his reaction today...

In short, he absolutely loved it. The faster we'd pull him down the hill, the louder (and more high pitched) he'd squeal. Good to know our kid isn't an indoorsy wuss. I was worried for a second there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Y3W: Charlie Loves Daddy!

Kind of a Wordless Wednesday, kind of a Your Three Words Friday. Either way, I took a picture today of C and J playing (the last one at the bottom) and it inspired me to go through all of the pictures I've taken over the past year and pick out my favorite Daddy and C shots. Enjoy!


 How can you not love these two?

Can you sum up your week in three words? Every  Friday, Jenni from the Blog challenges bloggers to do just that every week. Fun, huh? Join in the fun! When you've written about your three words, hop around to other blogs participating in Y3W by clicking this lovely button!

Dressing a Boy is Hard

This is one of those things I complain about a lot. Sorry. If you don't have children or are the Mom of a little girl, you may not notice, but when it comes to clothes, accessories, etc. little boys get the short end of the stick. For every rack of boy clothes, there are at least three of girl clothes. Really - next time you're in Target, take a look. Its not necessarily every store everywhere, but the vast majority are this way.

Another big offender are deal sites like Zulily and BabySteals. Oh, baby shoes on today's steal for 75% off? Seven versions of girl shoes in 10 sizes and two versions for boys in 3 sizes? Ah, gotcha. I've gotten a few great steals from Baby Steals, but always baby gear, not clothing.

Granted, I understand there just isn't as much out there for boys - especially in the shoe/accessory sector. Girls have headbands and other hair things, tights, a ton of shoe options, tutus, and so on. How many miniature ties and bucket hats can one boy own? Even Baby Legs (which I love) are debatable as to their gender neutralness.

Now, what I will say in favor of the boy's selection out there is that it seems much easier to find miniature adult clothes for boys than for girls. Even dressy clothes for girls have crazy sparkles, appliques, and sayings on them. I can find a plain polo or sweater for C pretty easy once I track down the boy's section.

That brings me to cloth diapers. Cloth diaper manufacturers are unfortunately as girls > boys as the stores. Lots of girly patterns and few boy patterns and even those are usually relegated to sports and puppies. Can a Mom get a robot or space ship up in here? Again, they exist, but aren't easy to find and everyone deserves stylish poop sacks - even the boys.

Voila! Glow Bug Cloth Diapers -- a cloth diaper set where every single boy print is unique, boyish, and cute!

Flames, stars, punk rock plaid, skulls, space ships, robots, dinosaurs, guitars, and more. Love it!

ELF: A Family Blog is having a give away for a Glow Bug Cloth Diaper of your choice right now and I know I've got my eye on the rocket ship one. If you're interested, head over and throw your hat in the ring!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Toddler "Cuddles"

Now that C is getting bigger, stronger, and more curious, "cuddles" usually end up looking like this...

Luckily, I've been blessed with a very deep sleeper who doesn't wake up if I pick him up out of bed and rock in the glider with him for a little bit. ;-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: Visor CD Holder

Thanks to the serious lack of good radio stations around here and the sweet futuristic sound system in my new older car, I needed to burn several CDs to keep myself entertained while I drive. Not mp3 CDs, like 70 minute regular CDs. And if you want to get technical, I could have made cassette tapes because, ladies and gentlemen, my car has a tape deck. I look forward to the day C asks from the back, "What is that?"

In my frugal fashion (and laziness to shop), I decided to try my hand at making a CD holder for my visor instead of buying one. Turns out, it wasn't all that hard once I got the measurements down.

For this project, you'll need:

Front and back cut from a cereal box
Various fabric scraps
Hot glue gun

And the basiscs...scissors, rotary cutter and mat, pins, and iron

First start by cutting out all of your pieces. I chose a main print and then three complimentary (sort of) prints to mix in.

Cut two 10 3/4" x 5 3/4" rectangles out of the main color. This will be the backing and base for the front. Then, cut out five 9" x 5 3/4" rectangles out of the complimentary/main colors. These will be the pockets on the front that hold the CDs. Fold each of the pocket pieces in half and press.

Take one of the larger rectangles and a pocket piece. Place the pocket piece 1 1/2" from the right most edge (folded side towards the edge) and pin. Sew the inner side of the pocket about 3/8" from the edge. Don't worry about the side edges - they will be taken care of when you sew the front and the back together.

Place the next pocket over the first one leaving a 1 1/4" space from the top edge of the previous pocket. Sew a 3/8" seam along the inner edge like with the first pocket. Do this for the rest of the pockets. The last pocket should line up with the edge of the main rectangle.

Once all of the pockets are sewn onto the front piece, its time for Velcro! You'll need two sets of Velcro strips at 6" each. Place one side of the Velcro, face up, on top of the pockets about 2 1/2" from one edge with 1/2" sticking off the fabric. Pin in place. Stick the coordinating strip on top with 1/2" sticking off the other edge right over the pin. This will ensure the right sides of Velcro touch when you wrap it around your car's visor. Repeat with the other set of Velcro strips 2 1/2" from the other edge.

When all of the Velcro is pinned to the pocket layer, create a sandwich with the backing -- right sides facing. Pin in place.

For the sake of communication ease, lets call the end on the right the "top" and the end on the left the "bottom." Make sense?
<------------------ "Bottom"                 "Top"--------------------->
Starting at one side of the "top," sew around the edges of your fabric sandwich with a 3/8" seam allowance. Leave the "top" edge completely open to insert your cardboard backing. If you don't have a heavy duty machine needle, this would be a good reason to get one. With all these layers and the Velcro, a regular needle might not do well.

IMPORTANT: Make sure when you go over the Velcro that you aren't sewing through both strips. Only sew through the strip that is sticking 1/2" out of the sandwich. Peel back the strip from across the holder to keep it out of the way.

After sewing around the 3 sides, turn inside right and poke the corners out. Press. Cut your cereal box cardboard into two 10 1/4" x 4 3/4" rectangles. Stack them together and slide them into the fabric. I had to trim mine a little bit to make it fit, but it should be very snug, so don't worry if its tough to slide in.

There should be approximately 1/2" extra at the top past the cardboard. Top stitch very close to the edge of the cardboard being careful not to hit the cardboard. With a hot glue gun, glue the extra flap of fabric towards the back. Super professional? Not really, but its easy and won't ever be seen.

Now go burn yourself five sweet mix CDs because you're done! Here's my CD holder in my fancy new car making it all colorful and stuff. And yes, I have a Taylor Swift CD next to a Lady Gaga CD. You don't even want to know what the other three are. Don't judge.