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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Toddle Along Tuesday: Holiday Wish List

C's 1st Christmas Present
When originally faced with the task of choosing Christmas presents for C two years ago, it was pretty easy. Lets face it, the kid didn't have anything at that point! Now, however, he's got plenty of toys and buying presents has gotten a bit more difficult. With a late October birthday, Christmas comes at a time when he especially doesn't "need" anything else, but of course Santa needs to bring him something.

Growing up, my parents did an amazing job stretching a very small budget to make for a very big Christmas for my siblings and I. Something I realized growing up was that we didn't realize a) how fortunate we were to be getting a large number of things and b) didn't have a good grasp on the fact that there was a budget and my Mom was really good at stretching it. Despite their efforts, I think we felt (and sometimes acted) a bit spoiled -- until we got older and truly understood how much things cost, that is.

The sibs and I circa 1994 (I'm in the white)

In preparation for the holidays this year, J and I were talking about what kind of traditions we wanted to start since we are quickly running out of years that C won't really remember. We decided that we wanted to focus on quality over quantity and most of all appreciation and gratefulness.

Each year, we're going to try and stick to a four present per person maximum; something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. There isn't a cost maximum on each gift and it isn't a contest to spent the most or the least. Its about finding meaningful gifts that fit into these categories so its not all frivolous "want" things.

When C is old enough to understand, we also want to start doing a Santa swap. When Santa comes to drop off your gifts, you need to leave four things you don't use anymore under the tree for him to bring back to the North Pole, fix up, and give to other boys and girls. Eventually, the kids will understand that things just get donated, but we think its a good message to send about giving back (not to mention keeping the house slightly less cluttered).

Anyway, for C this year we're still trying to figure out what he's getting. So far, I'm thinking...

Something You Want
Help! Yes, I seriously have no idea what my toddler "wants" for Christmas. Does a toddler really "want" for something? Toy commercials are lost on him (thankfully) and he hardly eyes up toys as we pass them in the store. I'll think of something. I promise.

Something You Need
A toy box and new toy storage. To be honest, he's getting this early. He has a lot of things that he actively plays with, but they end up all over the house because they don't have a home. Between a toy box and cube storage unit from Target, hopefully we can tame the mess.

Something to Wear
To further encourage his complete obsession with Mickey Mouse, I found this adorable fuzzy bathrobe at Kohl's. Hopefully it fits him for a while, but with how this kid has been growing. Who knows!

Something to Read
C has taken a much bigger interest in books lately and reading before naps and bedtime has become a staple in this house. We are still perusing titles, but we're going to get him one or two books about being a big brother and a first 100 words type picture book. He loves pointing out pictures in books and the few picture books we have are, well, getting old.

Hopefully, we can get a few more ideas down pat before too long. I don't like being stuck on present ideas! Want to share your little one's Christmas list? Swing by Growing Up Geeky and link up with Toddle Along Tuesday!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Birthday Party Time!

Though I still have a few more days with my 1 year old little man, today we celebrated C's 2nd birthday! It was a wonderful afternoon of family, friends, and several absolutely hysterical little kids.

 What is a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party without a Mousekadoer and Toodles?

 We took C's birthday shirt off so it wouldn't get dirty and apparently started a trend! 
Delicious cake with less laundry. Win, win situation!

 We borrowed a popcorn machine and it was a huge hit with the little guys.

He received such wonderful and thoughtful gifts from everyone! Despite being absolutely wiped out, it was tough to get him to bed because he wouldn't put them down.

Chillin' after a long afternoon. 

Two birthday parties in the books. I'm holding back my Momma tears until Wednesday when he's officially two, but in the meantime, I still can't believe how big and smart he has gotten. Slow down, little man.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oh yeah, the nursery...

Thank goodness for Pinterest. I have such decorating ADD that I would never be able to put together a coherent project without it. Though we have a few more weeks before we find out #2's big secret, I've been kicking around some ideas for nursery themes because, well, its freaking fun!

I feel slightly awful about it, but if we have a boy we are probably going to reuse most of C's nursery decor, but only because I love the theme so much. This time around, we'll paint, put up some new curtains, and maybe do some new artwork, but it'll basically be the same idea as before. Is that lazy? Eh, I'm leaning towards economical. I can't, however, decide what color to paint the walls. I love rich colors, but the room is on the small side with florescent lighting. Bleh. Blue maybe? Or green? Suggestions very welcome.

For a girl, I've started a Pinterest board to collect ideas for a theme that J came up with. He's not up on all of the latest styles and baby trends, so I know this came straight from his creativity: pink and green with birds and trees. Simple, but pretty. I absolutely love it.

I would love to paint a mural just like this tree, but if I can't, no big - contact paper is a great stand in when you can't do anything permanent. The bird houses and simple colors would brighten up the room so beautifully and compliment our walnut colored furniture.

So there you have it. Our nursery ideas in the works. Now to just find out which direction we're going in! November 5th can't get here soon enough!!

Follow Me on PinterestWant to follow my boards and watch the nursery evolution (and the other fun/random stuff I pin?) Click the red P!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Party Prep

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm working on C's birthday party. I know, right? It sounds cliche, but I literally feel like it was just yesterday that I was posting about his first birthday party preparations and the big day. Nope, apparently it was closer to 365 yesterdays.

This year, we're following C's request and going with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme. I've been pinning ideas for a while now (longer than I'd like to admit) and its finally come down to crunch time. Dun dun dun...

I'm proud to say that I got the invitations out in a good amount of time (thank you, Shutterfly!), but I've been procrastinating the rest ever so slightly. Denial? Pregnancy brain? Both, I suppose. I'm not going as over the top as last year, so the list is significantly shorter, but as his last birthday as an only child, we obviously still want it to be very special.

Crossed off the list so far is reserving a space, buying paper goods, deciding on a menu, and choosing a cake design. Still to go are buying party favors, making some decorations, buying and making food and drink, and the most fun part - making the cake. I love planning parties and can't wait to see it all come together for our little man and his little friends. :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

C's Big Boy Room!

We moved C to a larger room recently and though I had a theme in mind, it wasn't until very recently that I actually got up the energy to put it all together. At first, we considered doing Mickey Mouse as a theme, but didn't think that would really grow with him over the next few years. We settled on cars (as in transportation, not the Disney movie) since that's his second favorite thing. There are still a few more things to do, but here's some shots of the (almost) finished product!

The road border is 6' x 18" black contact paperthat I ordered off Amazon. I cut it in half length wise giving me two 6' x 9" strips that I joined at a straight edge. The white dashes are just Avery labels cut into 1/4" x 1" strips placed about 3 inches apart. To space them properly, I laid the black paper out and used a yard stick to mark where the dashes should go, then stuck them on. Super easy, once I figured out the math! Putting it up was a bit of a task, but the glory of contact paper is that you can reposition it 1,000 times without a problem (trust me - I've tested this). Total cost: $8

For the letter art, I cut out a "C" and white dashes of paper (about 1/4" x 3/4") in a curved pattern so they'd fit in the C. I glued the C to white card stock and added the dashes - some glue stick did the trick. The cars are actually from the dollar bin at WalMart, of all places. They are cheap, plastic toys that I wouldn't give to C directly, but their cheapness made them light weight and perfect for crafting. I removed the glass from the frame and put the poster board in the front (I kept the glass in the back of the frame so I didn't lose it). Total cost: $6

These pictures totally fit under the category of re-purposed stuff. I love maps, so I always keep our old Rand McNally atlases when they get old. J had a few old canvases, so I decoupaged them with maps and print outs of various road signs. The lettering is from an old scrapbook kit, but could have easily been hand written or cut out via Criket. Total cost: Free

This lamp might be my favorite of the new craft projects in C's room. We've had the lamp for years and just had a plain white shade on it since it matched everything. I picked up the black shade at WalMart along with some more of the cars. The dashes are white paper cut to about 1/4" x 1" long. Everything is hot glued on and it literally took about 10 minutes to put together. Total cost: $8

The bedding was the most expensive part, but that is to be expected. I found a lot of nice patterns online, but they were so pricy! This set was a nice balance of fun color and price. Total cost: $60

Still to go on my list are curtains (I have the fabric, but we all know how that goes...), some road signs for above the highway border, and to hang the old license plates Grandma is giving us. I can't wait to see everything all put together!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Diaper Stripping: Heavy Duty Edition

A few weeks ago, I wrote about having a horrible ammonia stink in our cloth diapers and my attempts to get rid of it. We tried several methods of stripping (including boiling them on the stove!) and changing soaps, but to no avail. They still stunk like death every time C peed. The secret that saved our diapers (and sanity)? RLR Laundry Treatment.

The package looks like its straight out of the 70's, but it works like magic. I bought ours from Jillian's Drawers, but its available at several other cloth diaper selling websites and some grocery stores, or so I've heard.

RLR is not a soap, its a powder that removes mineral and detergent build up from fabric that builds up over time (especially with hard water). You sprinkle about half a packet directly on the cloth diapers and run a cycle as normal with absolutely no soap. I repeat - there was no soap in the cycle and RLR does not make suds by its self. A few minutes into the first rinse, this is what my diapers looked like in the machine....

See all those suds?! All of that soap was sitting in the microfiber inserts making them repel and stink to high heaven. After a bazillion rinse cycles (like 6 or 7) the water was finally rinsing clear. The microfiber was brighter, fluffier, and most importantly, didn't smell. For good measure and some guaranteed germ busting, I then ran them through a sanitize cycle with oxygen bleach (which I also purchased from Jillian's).

We haven't had a problem since. We are still using Rockin Green Hard Rock to prevent more hard water build up, but plan to run a sanitize/bleach cycle about once a month to keep things really clean. I was always cautioned not to use a washer's sanitize cycle for cloth, but I figure if I only use it on microfiber, it can't hurt anything.

As a side note, when you order washing and stripping supplies from Jillian's Drawers, they send you specific directions on how to safely use them with cloth diapers. If that's not awesome customer service, I don't know what is.

The next cloth diaper escapade in this house will consist of researching and acquiring newborn cloth. Squeeeeee! We didn't cloth diaper C until he was 3 or 4 months old because he was so tiny, but now that I know more about the plethora of cloth options out there, I'm excited to start looking into teeny tiny options. If you did newborn cloth, any suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tasty Thursday: J's Easy Crock Pot Chili

I am one lucky lady. J is an amazing cook! This is another one of his yummy crock pot inventions; easy crock pot chili.

This chili is toddler approved.
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, uncooked
  • 2 15oz cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 15oz cans of pinto beans, drained
  • 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce (he uses Sweet Baby Rays)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  1. Throw everything in the crock pot and stir. 
  2. Put on low for 8 hours.
  3. Be ready to salivate at the smell coming from your kitchen.
  4. Optional: At around 6 hours, mash up the mixture a bit to get that good thick chili consistency.
Its not super complicated, its not super fancy, but it is super good. It freezes and reheats well and even C will eat it! Add heat as you'd like, but we like our chili on the flavorful/sweet side. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: New Favorite Snack

If you don't watch him, he'll eat the entire thing - core and all. Thank goodness for this handy kitchen tool: OXO Good Grips Corer. Pop out the core and he can eat the whole darn apple if he wants...and usually does. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Toddle Along Tuesday: Wedding Flashback

With our third wedding anniversary around the corner, its perfect timing that its this week's Toddle Along Tuesday topic! Warning: get ready for a serious photo bomb.

We were married on our favorite holiday in one of our favorite places; October 31st, 2009 at West River Center in West River, Maryland. Yes, we were married on Halloween. We love fall, plus Halloween was a Saturday that year, so why not? And yes, C was born on Halloween (our first anniversary), but that's a whole other story!

 Walking with the two greatest men in my life.

Yes, I wore sneakers to my wedding. I was comfy all night and didn't need to run around barefoot or change shoes. Score.

 The treats! Our "Trick or Treat" bar and the cake, complete with a jack o' lantern cake topper. See the cake melting? That particular Halloween was not the weather we'd banked on - it was 75 degrees with 100% humidity!

 Cake time with my crazy, loveable bridesmaids. :)

The grand exit.

And of course, pictures from the sweet couple themed costume party we had after the reception!

What an amazing day, from start to finish. Though it had its stressful moments (like the downpour and awful weather), it made it memorable none the less.

Share your wedding story and link up with Toddle Along Tuesday! This week's cohost is Amber from Blissful and Wishful.

16 Weeks

How far along? 16 weeks

Baby is the size of an avocado (about 4 1/2 inches long).

Weight gain: According to my scale, up a total of about 5lbs. According to my OB's scale, it depends on which exam room I'm in. ;-)

Sleep/Energy: My energy is slowly coming back, but I'm sleeping very well at night which helps a ton. Every once in a while I'll get up to pee in the wee hours of the morning, but I've almost mastered the sleep walk bathroom trip.

Cravings/Aversions: I'm craving the same types of foods I wanted when I was pregnant with C - big deli sandwiches, pickles, and lots of salty foods. Boar's Head should totally cater my pregnancy.

General symptoms/feelings: The sciatic pain and headaches are starting to get to me, but I have a chiropractic appointment with a prenatal specialist who can hopefully get my ass straightened out (literally). I've also noticed a lot more car sickness if I'm not driving. Boo.

Maternity clothes: Now that I've found myself some maternity leggings, I'm set for winter!

Movement: I've been starting to feel tiny bubbles, but nothing consistent or definite yet.

Gender: The anatomy scan is set for Monday, November 5th at 2pm. I can't wait!

Next appointment: My next prenatal appointment is November 5th for my 19 week check up, but I've started going weekly for 17P injections. I still haven't decided if this will make time go faster or much slower.

Best moment of last week: Whether he understands it or not, C has started pointing to my belly and saying, "baby." We're hoping to get him some kind of baby doll for Christmas so he can start learning gentle and helping out with his new sibling.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Shot at Full Term

Here's a quick lesson about pregnancy. When you're pregnant, the placenta has a lot of big jobs to do. One of those jobs is to produce progesterone and keep the uterus at a nice hormonal balance, preventing contractions and labor from coming on too early. During pregnancy, your body also produces oxytocin (the natural form of Pitocin - and we all know what that does) which starts labor. The progesterone keeps the oxytocin at bay and keeps you pregnant until the time is right. Though 39-40 weeks is the optimal time to have a baby, anytime past 37 weeks is considered full term and has been deemed safe for delivery.

Now, a problem arises if the level of progesterone in a woman's body drops at any point prior to 37 weeks since it can make the body think its time for labor, kicking up the oxytocin, and starting contractions. This is called preterm labor. A lot of times it can be stopped, but if coupled with other medical issues (like dilation or your water breaking) or if labor is too progressed, it may be in the everyone's best interest to deliver - regardless of what week you are.

As many of you probably know, C was born at 34 weeks, 5 days gestation due to preterm labor and amniotic sac rupture. There was no indication during my otherwise boring pregnancy that I'd have a preemie, then again, for a lot of women there is no indication.

When I found out I was pregnant again, it was the first thing that raced through my mind. What if this baby comes early? Or even earlier?! Granted, in the grand scheme of things in the preemie realm, J and I won the lottery. He was early, but he was big and relatively healthy for his age. He recovered quickly and though he gained weight woefully slow, he's now completely caught up and in the 90th percentile for weight. What if we aren't this lucky again?

At one of my first OB appointments for this pregnancy, my midwife mentioned progesterone therapy. 17 Alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P) is a synthetic form of progesterone administered once a week from week 16 to week 34(ish) to keep the level of progesterone high and healthy throughout the pregnancy. Though its not a guarantee, it reduces the chance of preterm birth by 34-40% in women with a history of preterm labor and rupture. Definitely not a sure thing, but its a shot!

Speaking of shot, that's how its administered - a shot with a huge needle right in the ass once a week for 20 weeks. I was told that it hurts like heck and takes a long time to push because the compound is thick. ::shudders:: I don't like getting my yearly flu shot (I still get it though!) so this should be very interesting. BUT, as a fellow preemie Mom recently told me, "I'd rather be taking the pokes now, than to see my baby getting poked on a daily basis in the NICU." Heart wrenching and true. What C went through (daily blood draws and heel pricks, IVs in his hands and head, etc.) is my motivation to do this - achy, tired side effects and all.

So, at 16 weeks, tomorrow is week one and shot one to give this baby a chance at a full 40 weeks on the inside. I can't help but wonder what if it doesn't work, but at least I know that I'm doing everything I can to try.