Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stranger Danger

Near Kaitlyn's school there has been a stranger danger alarm out.  Since Friday, a white man in his 30s driving a white, windowless cargo style van has made at least 4 reported attempts to abduct girls between the ages of 7 and 10.  He pulls up to them, offers them a ride to school and when they say no, demands they get in the car.  Fortunately, each time, the girls have been smart and educated enough to run away and get away.  He has driven off without an adult witness seeing him, without a license plate number being recorded, and without the police being able to find him.  All of the attempts have been in the same area.  All in broad daylight.  All with girls.

Each time there is an attempted abduction, the school calls each and every parent that has an up to date phone number on file.  The news has carried it extensively.  The police have been involved to the point of having several patrol cars around the school (and I'm sure other schools in the area) and the schools have been doing stranger danger teaching in addition to urging parents NOT to let their kids walk home alone.

Even so, yesterday I saw at least a dozen young girls, from Kindergarten on up walking home by themselves. Not even with a buddy.  It absolutely terrified me.  And I totally get that those parents don't care any less for their kid, and who knows what situations prevent them from being able to arrange for afterschool pick up for their child, but it still terrifies me.  I want to give them each a can of pepper spray, a super loud whistle, a taser, something.  Anything.

And it has led to a lot of discussions at home about stranger danger.  This is something we've done since Kaitlyn was in preschool.  One of our biggest lessons is just because someone says they are something doesn't mean they are.  If someone says they are a police officer, if they are in uniform ask for a badge, if they aren't, run.  Always run.  If you can't, kick, scream, bite, punch and do anything you can to be able to run.  If someone goes to the school and says "I'm a friend of your mommy's, she's hurt/sick/dead/crazy and told me to pick you up,"  Run.

But, the hardest part has been stressing that 90% of adults are ok, honest and want to only help protect kids in the community, it's that darned 10% that are sneaky little bastards that should be strung up by their toes, shot and then swarmed by starving black widows.

I'm not one to believe that kidnappings and violent crimes against children are up, or that the world today isn't as safe as it was 20-50 years ago, more that the media has made us so much more aware of the evil in the world and how prevalent it is.  And I'll tell you, it terrifies me to know that in 3 years Kaitlyn will be in middle school.  If the past 7 years have flown by, it's unlikely the next 3 are going to all of a sudden slow down and give us a break.  And after that it's driving.  In 8 years, she can get her permit.  Um.  What?  In 8 years she can drive around with Samantha in the car listening to whatever the Justin Beiber of the year is?  No Thanks.

I digress....

Stranger Danger is very real.  It's very scary and as parents it's our job to both teach our kids that strangers are scary, but that sometimes you have to trust them.  In the real world, eventually we have to start seperating ourselves from our kids some.  Eventually, they have to start school (unless you home school) or start daycare, or an activity where you cannot be attached to their hand.  What are your methods?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Cloth Hiatus

Be forewarned, if you do not want to hear about baby poop, hit that little red box up there.  It might get a little, um, gross?

Since about a month after Samantha's birthday, she started spitting up again.  At first it was just every other day or so, maybe a tablespoon, but it has graduated into several times a day.  Throw in the fact that we're going back and forth between constipation and diarrhea and rashes, screaming at night, fussy during the day and her turning into a completely different baby resulted in a trip to the doctor's office.

When we got there, the nurse ripped away any delusions I had that she was still a baby by having her stand on the big kid scale.  She loved it and is up to 22.2 lbs. 

Her examination revealed a massive amount of stool stuck in there.  Like, a lot.  Our normally conservative doctor recommended we get it all out.  This involves 2 days of enemas, 14 days of Miralax at the adult dosage, and 3 months at the half dose.  We go back in 2 weeks to make sure it's all gone.

Have you ever told a 14 month old to relax, lay on her side, hold her knees to her chest and not clench her bottom?  But, it does seem we're making some progress.

Samantha has also developed a cold and a peak in her mouth revealed that she s just willy nilly with teething and has a massive molar that cut through her back gums.  But, just one.

Considering she's not sleeping that great and we've went through 18 diapers in 12 hours, even with a stash of 60+ cloth diapers, even with my absolute disgust with the chemicals in disposables, it just makes sense to spend the next 2-3 weeks in disposables to make it easier.  Potty training is also off the table or the next 3 months (not that we had necessarily planned on starting) until she is regular again all natural.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I HATE the term

Baby Loss Mom.  Or Mother.  Or Mama.  Or BLM.

I think because it emphasizes so much on the word Baby.  Or, maybe it's just in my head that it does.

To me, I don't think it matters how old your child was when they passed away.  The pain is still enough to make you feel as though someone cut through your chest with the dullest of spoons, ripped out your heart, stomped on it, put it through a paper shredder, then grabbed a couple of those pieces up, shoved them back in your chest cavity, stitched you up with a rusted needle and sent you your way to see if you survive it or not.

Sometimes, I think that when people find out we had a son that passed away, they find it less heartbreaking to find out that he was "just a baby" and that someone makes it a little more Ok?  Because after all, we didn't have as much time to get to know him, or to bond with him, or to become attached.


I mean seriously?

And I get it.  I think there are different pains depending on how old your child is when you are forced into making their final arrangements.  Whether your child was born still, or passed as an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager or a grown adult with their own family, the pain is just as intense.  It is still such a raw feeling that makes you want to puke.

You miss different things.  You either miss the things they would do or you miss not knowing the things they would have done.  You either see them in their own children or you see them in their siblings.  You either get to reflect on the years you created memories together or you spend those years wondering what memories you would have created.  You either miss them and their quirky ways or you miss them and learning about their personality traits.

I just do not understand how we got to a point where we started differentiating.  Where we started almost justifying it.  As though if you had decades with your child, that made the pain less unbearable or if you didn't have a chance to find out what their favorite color was somehow the pain isn't as terrible.  After all, you didn't even know them or you had that time together.

And I do know that the term isn't used to be hurtful or differentiate necessarily.  I get that.  I respect that.  I respect those that feel comfortable using it, I respect those that want a community like feeling and get that when they can classify themselves with others.  I mean, after all, there are terms for widows and orphans, yet there has yet to be a term to describe the horrific feeling of being a parent forever separated from your child.  There is no term imaginable that can sum up what it is like to continue living when your child does not.  But, regardless of the child's age, the parents are left with that pain.

At the end of the day, I wish there was a term.  A term that can just sum up a sentence when asked how many kids you have and where the missing one is as quickly as the term widow and orphan.  And I'm surprised that with how unfortunately common it is in today's world and how we are working on grieving and accepting and growing as a community we don't have one.

One day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life is so short

And I think sometimes we tend to forget that.  Maybe it's human nature to get caught up in the drama, the negative and the he said/she said crap that contribute to our days slipping away.  We try so hard to be so perfect sometimes I think we lose focus of what is truly important.

I don't think I've ever heard of someone laying on their death bed thinking "I wish I would have done the laundry more often" or "Gosh, I hope the picture frames are all dusted on the top."  I'm not saying it's ok to let your house rival hoarders, but, is it really necessary to dust every single day?

My resolution this year is to have life be simpler.  I've learned if I have less stuff, less dusting, right?  And that leaves more time for playing outside or practicing Eskimo Kisses.

Part of that too is making time for those who matter and who I not only love and adore, but that I like spending time with.  I think it's silly to spend time with people we think we should for one reason or another when that time could be spent creating quality memories.

I want a life filled with laughter, memories and good times.  I want my kids to grow up with fond memories of a happy, stable, fun childhood.  I want everyday to count and every moment to matter.

What are your wishes?  What do you wish you spent more time focusing on?  What do you think is your biggest time drainer?  Is it worth it?

Monday, January 23, 2012

A trip down Would Be, Could Be, Should Be Lane

It's open enrollment time at Kaitlyn's school.  It's the time where other kids who are not assigned to it, can petition to have her school become their "home school." 

This is not Kaitlyn's home school.  She is a transfer student, which means that at any time the school can technically decide that there isn't enough room for her, she isn't performing up to grade level standards, that she isn't behaving the way she needs to and ship her back to her "home" school.  Last week, the school secretary called me and told me how much they love having her there, what an asset she is to the class and the student body and how they really want to make this her home school.  Which, we of course are ALL for, I mean, if they tried to send her back to her home school, there would be no question in my mind that homeschooling would be the route we would take.  Of course, that led to the statement "if you have any other children enrolling, be sure to submit them for open enrollment as well."

This time 5 years ago, I found out I was pregnant with a little one.  I believe it was right around the 16th of January.  It was a little one that didn't give me that dreaded evil morning sickness.  A little one that turned out to be a stubborn and strong little boy.  A little one that less than 7 short months later would make his appearance.  A little boy that would be 5 this year.

We should be filling out open enrollment paperwork for Matthew to start Kindergarten this year.  I remember talking with Kaitlyn forever about what would be the perfect backpack for her to start school with.  Kaitlyn literally has over 25 backpacks.  She rotates them now between going on trips, school days and sleepovers.  She has her favorite one week that becomes her least favorite next week.  They are impossible to store because she has so many she loves.  I wonder if we would make that same dreaded mistake with Matthew?  I wonder what kind of backpack he would want?  Would it be a character one, or could we talk him into a an awesome black and white chevron striped one?  Would his name be on it?

Kaitlyn and Matthew would go to the same school, but with Kaitlyn entering the third grade, they wouldn't share recess or lunch time.  She would be with the older grades.  But, they would have the same school activities, the same back to school nights, the same matching school spirit shirts and sweatshirts.  He would have to actually get dressed when I took Kaitlyn (because I assume that if he were here now, I would let him go in his jammies like I do Samantha) and they would have to figure out which classroom we went to first on Open House night.  I bet Kaitlyn would insist on a game of rock, paper, scissors, where she almost always plays scissors. 

I bet he would be a strong, happy, eager to please little guy just like his sisters are.  I bet he would do great and excel.  I bet Kaitlyn would already have him reading.  I bet the girls would just love him. 

Sometimes it's so easy to get lost taking the What should be lane down to the what would be and what could be forest.  This year, when August comes around and we celebrate our little man turning 5, and another year without him, instead of Kaitlyn holding her brother's hand going into school and showing him where his class would be and how to hang up his backpack, we'll carry him in our hearts and think of him and who he would be today.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Miss Samantha

I know I just updated on her a couple of weeks ago when she turned 14 months, but she has developed so much since then, I want to be sure I document it.  :)

She has been talking so much.  And I'm especially excited that she has figured out how to string a couple words together.  Of course, they aren't super clear all the time, but it's pretty clear and she does hand motions to help you out.  She's also picky about when she says it.  If she's tired at all, grumpy or eating, she'll just keep her little lips closed.

I Love You
No No
No More
Dadda (and sometimes Daddy, depends on if she's being ornery)
Kaitlyn (I think she's trying to)
What's that
nose (and points to it)
teeth (and points to it)
Eye (and points to it)
uh (but not the oh)
poo poo (usually when she is trying to go or has just went)
diaper (occasionally accompanied with a diaper in hand or standing at the changing table)
good girl
bad girl

She loves to ask for kisses and hugs.  She'll come up to you with her lips all puckered doing the mmmmmm sound.  She also has two different ways she does her hands.  One is for up and to pick her up right that second and hold her.  The other is to pick her up and set her down wherever she wants.  If her hands are close together, it means cuddle time.  Love it.  Of course, she'll also do that to the dogs to try so hard to get them to lick her hands.

She also knows where the cups are and the milk, so she'll get a cup, stand at the fridge and scream and cry for it.  And that led to the poop disaster of last weekend that we are still battling.

On Friday, she had an extra cup of milk, bringing the total of the day to 3 7 oz cups of milk.  Which led to no poop on Saturday.  Since she normally has perfect poops 3-4 times a day, this led to a rough Sunday.  It led to "stuck" poo, and a bath to help her work it out.  It led to a golfball sized ball of hard yuckiness and to a 14 month old with hemorrhoids.  Which led, to screaming, more baths, infant Advil and lots of fruit and apple juice to help the rest that was backed up in there to come out more smoothly.  Which, has so far led to a week of alternating between good poo and diarrhea like poo.  Which, has led to an ugly rash that isn't going away as easily as they normally do.  Even with creams, liners and using only the bamboo diapers.  So, we shall see where this leads us.

But, to end the blog on a funny note.  The other night, I was getting Samantha ready for a bath after a dinner of chili left her hair delicious lol.  I started running the water while Kaitlyn and Samantha were in the playroom.  Then, I went into her room to get out the jammies she would wear after and to grab her towel and all that goodness.  Then, Kaitlyn yelled for me.  Samantha was in the bathtub.  She saw the water, decided that inch or two was enough for her and climbed in.  Fully clothed.  And diapered.  She is a determined little one that's for sure.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Posts I'm Working On

This week has been CRAZY busy!  I've spent time on the computer, but haven't had enough time to do much blogging!  :(

Here are things I've been working on:

* Nursing Cover Tutorial
* March for Babies Updates
* Super Cute T-Shirt dress tutorial
* Shirred Skirt Tutorial
* Silly things Samantha has been up to
* My thoughts on STAR testing
* A thought on the necessities of life with a toddler
* Thoughts on the lifelong journey of grief
* Our Healthy, Low Calorie "without knowing it" superbowl snack plans

Here's hoping I get all my thoughts posted this week :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

14 months

On Monday, our littlest princess turned 14 months old.  All of a sudden, the baby look is starting to slip away and the toddler in her is coming out in full form.

To say that she is outgoing would be an understatement.  She says Hi to everyone that she comes into contact with or sees on the TV.  She adores her big sister, milk, food and her doggies.  If she had it her way she would eat and play outside all day long.  She loves the backyard.  She loves the slide.  She loves the swing.  But mostly, she loves being able to be free to run as much and as fast as she can.

She is talking up a storm.  She says "More" (and sounds EXACTLY how Kaitlyn did!  It's crazy cute and creepy), Diaper, Poo Poo, MaMa, Daddy, Cookie (all day long if she could lol), I Love You, Night Night, Dog, Bye, What's That and some form of sister and Kaitlyn.  She tries to say everything we do, when she feels like it.

It does look like she may have chipped a tooth :(  I have no idea when though. The kid is so clumsy and falls ALL the time.  Usually face first and she hasn't quite figured out to put her hands out first (good thing maybe?).  She just really wants to run and her teeny little feet don't know how to keep up with that running.  And she bites on everything, just to be sure it isn't food.  We have a dentist appointment next week to see what their thoughts are. 

Yeah, I know it's blurry, but it gives you an idea.  And here is our brave girl tackling the slide.  You can totally see this better if you move your head 90 degrees and you'll enjoy it best if you are a lover of the Blair Witch Project.  Thank you camera woman Kaitlyn.

Samantha is weighing in at 21 lbs and 8 oz  and she's 31" tall.  Which is 37.2% for weight (which is crazy to me because she feels SOO heavy!) and 79.9% for height.

She's back to sleeping through the night.  We have to let her cry it out at night.  She hates that.  And I am surprised that she can still cry for 25-45 minutes before going to sleep :(  She does it at nap time too :(  I look forward to her enjoying going to sleep as much as she enjoys eating!  Maybe I'll have better to report next month.  Until then, I'll leave you with a picture of Miss Kaitlyn.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Word Art

Word Art has been some of my favorite projects right now!  I wanted to share some of the ones I've made :)

March for Babies 2012 Shirt Design

I'm excited and proud to say, our 2012 March for Babies Team shirt design is ready!

Here is the front:

And here is the back:

I'm also debating creating an iron on patch to put on the sleeves to celebrate this being our 5th walk!  Do you March for Babies?  I'd love to see everyone's team shirt design!  Interested in being a part of Matthew's Team?  Like us on Facebook for more details!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yummy, Good for you Chili

Dusty wants to work on healthier habits this year and gave me free and full rein on all the menus and menu planning!  While I love the control, it has been a little bit overwhelming.  Especially since I'm trying to help him stay full and calories in check.

So far this week has been ok.  Most meals have been pretty ok.  The hardest part for me is dinner.  I don't want to cook more than one dinner and while Kaitlyn isn't necessarily picky, she can be.  Monday's dinner was as simple as tacos but the meat replaced with lean turkey and went heavy on the veggies.  A side of black beans and the meal was good for you and filling.

Tuesday night we had pasta with chicken.  I took a chicken breast (boneless, skinless) and smashed the heck out of it with a mallet then lightly dusted it with wheat flour, oregano and salt and pepper.  I browned it in olive oil, removed it out of the pan and cooked some mushrooms in with water and a bit of brandy and garlic.  Once it was nice and going I returned the chicken for about 20 minutes and served it with whole wheat pasta. It was under 500 calories a serving and it kinda tasted that way.

Wednesday night was my FAVORITE.  It was really tasty, everyone liked it, even Samantha.  And, it was only one pot, so yay!  So, I'm sharing the recipe :)

What you'll need:

1 lb ground extra lean beef (can leave out or substitute with turkey)
1 table spoon olive oil
1 onion
2 carrots
1 green bell pepper
4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or minced)
2 tomatoes
2 14.5 cans of black beans - drained
chili powder

In a stock pot, brown the beef.  Drain off all excess fat and remove beef from pot.

In the same pot, add the olive oil and onions and garlic to sweat.

While the onions and garlic are cooking, peal the carrots and add them with the bell pepper and tomatoes to a food processor and chop it all up nice and fine.

Add the remaining veggies and black beans to the pot with  about a tablespoon of chili powder.

Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes.

This made enough for 6 large servings and we were all full after.

In addition to being easy, each serving only had 275 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 43 mg of sodium and 24 grams of protein.  (and of course, my math could be offer, we've mostly just been watching calories).

Friday, January 6, 2012

March for Babies

June 2, 2007 we were a happy, blissful, naive family.  Our daughter, Kaitlyn had turned 2 1/2 the month before, we were happily married and I was 23 weeks pregnant with a little boy we had decided to name Matthew Jackson.  My belly was rapidly growing, we had been enjoying the summer and all the heat that it brought, I was managing an apartment complex and our dog was going to turn 4 at the end of the summer.  All was well.  Nothing in the world could possibly go wrong.  Life was fantastic.

I went to bed around 10 that night and within 12 hours, things were not so perfect.

My water had broken in the night, it was confirmed after an emergency trip to Labor and Delivery.  I was laying in a bed, when the perinatologist came in with her recommendation.  We should induce labor to reduce the risk of infection, since my body was going to force it soon anyways, and have a peaceful goodbye to our son.  I couldn't.  How could I give up hope based on the words of just one woman.  I didn't care what kind of degree or education she had.

10 weeks of strict hospital bed rest and our lives turned completely upside down.  By the last few weeks he had measly a pocket of fluid near his mouth to help him grow and teach his lungs to work.  Then, he decided he was ready to be born.  That same doctor was in the room when he cried.  A sound she said he would never make, the breaths she said would be limited to just a few in his lifetime.  He was born.  He was there.  He cried.  He was alive.

Thanks to a nearly 4 week NICU stay, the amazing staff and the advances in medicine we brought Matthew home.  He saw his nursery that we worked so hard at.  He cuddled with his sister as she read him stories.  He had diaper changes, late night snuggle sessions, learned to breast feed, see the park, walk through the outdoors, visit the pumpkin patch and meet so much of the family that loved him and expected to watch him grow.

Often, I've been asked if we would have chosen differently on June 3rd had we of known the outcome.  Would we have spared ourselves the pain of the sudden loss after the long hospital stay, the sacrifices, the roller coaster of the NICU, and the trauma we went through the morning of October 15.  The answer is an easy No.  I would have done double, triple or infinity times that length of time standing on my head if it meant just one moment with him.  Those 10 weeks and the memories created in them have to last us a lifetime.

A decade or two ago, we wouldn't have had those 10 weeks.  The medication and techniques he needed to survive the first month of his life, just were not available then.  The medications and techniques used to save his life are available because of the work the March of Dimes does.  That is why we started walking.

The March of Dimes is also responsible for the research that encouraged the use of the medication we used to get Samantha to full term in pregnancy.  Without the p17, she may not be here at all.  That is another reason we walk.

Around the country, every year the March of Dimes hosts March for Babies.  March for Babies raises funds and awareness in the community to save the most innocent, babies.  The money raises stays in our community for research, for health, for babies everywhere.  We walk so more babies can go home healthy to be with their families.  We walk because no parent should ever have to pick out tiny suits, tiny dresses or tiny coffins. No parent should ever have to take a "Baby's 1st Christmas" bib to the cemetery.  We walk to save lives.

You can help. In so many ways.  Below, I'll share them with you.

1. You can join our team.  This is our 5th year walking, which I think is amazing and awesome.  To join our team, you just have to go here and sign up!

2.  You can donate to our team!  Our goal this year is $10,000.  I'm happy to raise that $1 at a time!  Just go to our team page to donate!

3. You can like our facebook Team page:  Matthew's Team and share with your friends to spread the word.

4. You can buy a team shirt!  The way I do them is I create the design and high quality transfers.  I sell them for $5 with all $5 going straight to our team.  I send instructions on how to put them on your shirts with the shirts.  I do it this way because it's so much easier and cost effective that getting everyone's sizes and waiting for the printed shirts to come in, and this way you can pick if you want it V-neck, long sleeve, short sleeve and so on!  Designs will be ready by next month!

5. You can buy a ticket to our Taco feed and Auction Night!  Details are coming soon!

6. You can donate a prize to our Auction (value $50 and higher) or Raffle (value $10-$49)

7. You can start your own Matthew's Team in your area!

Raise money, Raise Awareness and Raise Hope!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Tie Bib Tutorial

I want to start blogging more.  About everything.  About our journey, about our family, about things that I have passion about and the things that tick me off.

Have you ever gotten an idea on how to make something and become so excited about it, that you went straight home after the gym and started, only breaking when your "time to go and get the oldest from school" timer goes off, and you rush out the door with your toddler only to get there and realize that you still have your gym clothes on....  Yeah, me neither :P  Until this bib.

I've been making baby tie onesies for a while, and love them.  But, I wanted something a little different.  I also just got a new silhouette cameo machine, which inspired me to clean out my craft section and discover all the scraps I had and needed to start using if I want to buy more, and actually have room for it.

As I created, I took pictures.

If you want this in just 13 super easy steps:

you'll need to start out with the following materials:

* Bib you love the shape of
* Material for the front (amount will depend on the size you're making, but a fat quarter should be plenty, for this project, I used cotton)
* Material for the back (same amount as for the front, I used minky for this, but terry or chenille or towel just hanging out would be great too!)
* Coordinating Fabric for the tie (like an 1/8 of a yard will make a couple, this is a perfect scrap opportunity. For this, I used fleece, but cotton would be great too)
* Velcro (or snaps)
* Heat'n Bond (or something similar)
* Sewing machine and basic notions (thread, pins and so on)
* A tie template cut out of cardstock (I free handed my design, then folded it in half to shape it so it was even on both sides)

Step One:  Take your material, layer it right side together and pin your bib template on top of it.  Minky can be a tricky little stinker, so be sure that you use plenty of pins so it doesn't shift on you.  You might notice that my top piece is two pieces sewn together.  I really wanted to to use this fabric and while it was pretty wide enough, it wasn't tall enough.  So, I sewed them together and then arranged the top of the bib "template" to where the straps would start.

Step Two: Now that they are pinned nice and securely together, cut out your fabric.  Add about 1/4" to the entire design to give yourself a seam allowance.

Step Three.  It's all cut out!  Yay!  Remove the pins and admire the hardest part (in my opinion) of the whole project.

Step Four:  Now it's time to separate the pieces and add your velcro.  Remember that the pieces are going to be opposite once they are sewn together.  So, attach your velcro to what looks like the same side of each of the pieces.

Step 5:  Sew the velcro to your front and back pieces.

Step 6:  Now we start my favorite part!  Making the tie.  The first part of this is to iron your heat'n bond to your tie material.

Step 7:  Lay your awesome tie pattern piece on top of the heat'n bond material side and trace it before cutting it out.

Step 8:  Admire your awesome tie and lay it on top of your bib.  Adjust it so it looks how you like it.  I like to tuck the bottom under the top just slightly.  Also, when you iron it on, be sure to take into consideration your seam allowances.  I ironed mine on about 1/2" under the top center.  I also eyeballed it.  If you want it perfect, fold the top of your bib in half vertically and and iron it to find your center to put your tie on the center.

Step 9: Take your awesome bib over to your trusty sewing machine.  Using a zig zag stitch, permanently adhere your tie to your bib.  I used to hate appliqueing.  Then, I learned to sloooooooow my machine down.  It isn't a race, if you go slow, your machine won't get confused and skip stitches, plus it'll be easier to stay straight and look nice.

This is how the back of your tie may look.  As you can see, I tried rushing in some places and ended up having some stitches get skipped that I had to go back and fix.

Step 10: Trim your threads and then pin your front and back pieces together.  You will want to be sure that you leave an opening to be able to turn your bib right side out.  To do this, I use two pins close together to scream "Hey, stop sewing!" at me.

Step 11:  Sew all the way around, leaving your opening open.

Step 12: Turn your bib right side out through the opening.  To help turn the corners and push all the pieces out, grab a chopstick and push it through.  Once you do that, pin the opening closed and top stitch your bib.  I did 1/4" seam for the top stitch.

Step 13:  Admire your handy work.  Find a cute little neck to wrap it around :)


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lets Talk Potty Training

Kaitlyn potty trained on her third birthday.  Far later than I wanted her too, but she didn't start showing signs of being ready until about 2 1/2, and that was about the time I was hospitalized for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy with Matthew.  Then, the roller coaster of the NICU, and the adjustments of bringing him home, and then his passing all made it too much to throw potty training in as well.  The plus side of waiting so long was that she was trained in about a day.  She had to choose, diapers or a birthday party, since her birthday party included ponies she gave up the diapers.

Samantha is only a few days away from being 14 months old.  But, she tells us when she "poo poos" and asks for a diaper many times when she's wet, and when she's ready to be changed, she'll walk you to her changing table.  Of course, once there the possibility of her running from you and thrashing during a diaper training is pretty high.  But, she obviously does not like the feel of damp cloth against her (score 1 for cloth and 0 for disposable!) and knows that when it's yucky it's time to be clean.

She's fascinated with toilets.  I mean fascinated.  If doors aren't closed and lids aren't put down every single time you're going to find her elbow deep in the "fun" water of the toilet.  She received a gift card for Christmas and one of the things "she" bought with it was a fun baby potty with her own toilet paper holder and all.  But, she has no interest in it.  Well, that's not entirely true.  She takes a lot of interest in me yelling at Kaitlyn to please get off the toilet and reminding her that she is 7!! years old and does not need a baby potty that forces her knees into her chin, but I digress.

Tell me about your potty experiences.  How did you start potty training?  What was the age?  Were you using cloth or disposable before?  If you're a cloth user did you switch to training cloth or just stick to the same diapers you were using?

Monday, January 2, 2012

How to live a happier life

30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself

I've seen this blog posted a few different times over the past week or so, and I do find it to be a really interesting read.  One, that I think will affect many people in many different ways.  I'm going to list them below with part of the description given in italics and my opinions.

Here it is, a positive ‘to-do’ list for the upcoming year – 30 things to start doing for yourself:
  1. Start spending time with the right people. – These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways.  They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.  I honestly find this to be the most important step.  And the hardest.  For so many, who we spend time with sometimes becomes so much of a habit and routine that becomes hard to break.  We often don't want to separate ourselves from some friendships because of the effect that it can have on social events and outings with those that we feel are the right people to spend time with.  We also enter this train of thought that we don't want anyone to be uncomfortable or to think that everyone can't get along just because you find a situation or relationship to be less than healthy.  When we find the strength to surround ourselves with those that encourage and inspire you to be a better person, I believe the rest comes more naturally.  And I also believe it is totally possible to distance yourself from unhealthy relationships without it being drama.
  2. Start facing your problems head on. – It isn’t your problems that define you, but how you react to them and recover from them.  Problems will not disappear unless you take action.  Do what you can, when you can, and acknowledge what you’ve done.  It’s all about taking baby steps in the right direction, inch by inch.  These inches count, they add up to yards and miles in the long run.  Again, having the strength to see not only what the problem is but putting energy towards rectifying it, regardless of how difficult or how uncomfortable it may be will change your life forever.
  3. Start being honest with yourself about everything. – Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed.  Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become.  Be honest with every aspect of your life, always.  Because you are the one person you can forever count on.  Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are.  Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there.  Again, I totally think that part of being honest with yourself is hard, and it's how we become stuck in unhealthy ruts watching the sands through the hourglass of our lives just slip away.
  4. Start making your own happiness a priority. – Your needs matter.  If you don’t value yourself, look out for yourself, and stick up for yourself, you’re sabotaging yourself.  Remember, it IS possible to take care of your own needs while simultaneously caring for those around you.  And once your needs are met, you will likely be far more capable of helping those who need you most.  Let's be honest, no one is going to care more about your happiness than you are.  Before you can be happy for others and create happiness for other people, you must do what needs to be done to find that happy place in your life.
  5. Start being yourself, genuinely and proudly. – Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are.  Be yourself.  Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else.  Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms.  Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.  In my mind, this is the same as above.
  6. Start noticing and living in the present. – Right now is a miracle.  Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you.  Right now is life.  So stop thinking about how great things will be in the future.  Stop dwelling on what did or didn’t happen in the past.  Learn to be in the ‘here and now’ and experience life as it’s happening.  Appreciate the world for the beauty that it holds, right now.  This is one that I don't necessarily agree with.  For me, I find a lot of happiness and peace reflecting on parts of my past.  I find so much peace at night drifting off to sleep thinking of how it felt when I cradled Matthew in my arms, or how sweet he was when he was taking it all in.  I also find so much happiness in knowing that in the afterlife, our entire family will one day be whole again.  And I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking in that way.  While I think it's incredibly important to live in the now, I also think part of who we are is in the past and the strength to become who we want to be is in the promise of the future.
  7. Start valuing the lessons your mistakes teach you. – Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of progress.  If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning.  Take risks, stumble, fall, and then get up and try again.  Appreciate that you are pushing yourself, learning, growing and improving.  Significant achievements are almost invariably realized at the end of a long road of failures.  One of the ‘mistakes’ you fear might just be the link to your greatest achievement yet.  I don't believe in mistakes.  I believe in lessons, I believe in fate and I believe that everything happens to shape our lives and our futures.  We have the choice to learn from them or to ignore them.
  8. Start being more polite to yourself. – If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?  The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.  You must love who you are or no one else will.  I'm usually suffering from the opposite here.  I think it reflects back to item #1 and the importance of being careful about who we surround ourselves with.
  9. Start enjoying the things you already have. – The problem with many of us is that we think we’ll be happy when we reach a certain level in life – a level we see others operating at – your boss with her corner office, that friend of a friend who owns a mansion on the beach, etc.  Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there you’ll likely have a new destination in mind.  You’ll end up spending your whole life working toward something new without ever stopping to enjoy the things you have now.  So take a quiet moment every morning when you first awake to appreciate where you are and what you already have.  This is something I think the many in our country suffers from.  The "more, more and more" syndrome with little appreciation for what you have already.  Once you can find happiness with the things you have and realize how much stuff is just stuff, life becomes so much simpler.
  10. Start creating your own happiness. – If you are waiting for someone else to make you happy, you’re missing out.  Smile because you can.  Choose happiness.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  Be happy with who you are now, and let your positivity inspire your journey into tomorrow.  Happiness is often found when and where you decide to seek it.  If you look for happiness within the opportunities you have, you will eventually find it.  But if you constantly look for something else, unfortunately, you’ll find that too.  I think this is exactly the same as #4.  Take responsibility for your own happiness and peace.
  11. Start giving your ideas and dreams a chance. – In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Change can be so scary, so overwhelming and seem absolutely impossible.  Finding the strength to push past that fear can make your entire life different.
  12. Start believing that you’re ready for the next step. – You are ready!  Think about it.  You have everything you need right now to take the next small, realistic step forward.  So embrace the opportunities that come your way, and accept the challenges – they’re gifts that will help you to grow.  Again, see 11.  
  13. Start entering new relationships for the right reasons. – Enter new relationships with dependable, honest people who reflect the person you are and the person you want to be.  Choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who show you love and respect – people who reciprocate your kindness and commitment.  And pay attention to what people do, because a person’s actions are much more important than their words or how others represent them.  To me, this relates all the way back to #1.  Don't invest a deep friendship into someone out of  convenience, in the end it isn't worth the time or the effort.  Think about who your close friends are and why.  For me, it's better to invest more time in those that really matter than to spread yourself super thin just to please too many people.
  14. Start giving new people you meet a chance. – It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you’ve ever made.  People and priorities change.  As some relationships fade others will grow.  Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work.  Trust your judgment.  Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory.  Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.  Same as above.  It is absolutely acceptable for people and relationships to grow apart.  It isn't an insult at all, and there are different times in life when you need different friendships.
  15. Start competing against an earlier version of yourself. – Be inspired by others, appreciate others, learn from others, but know that competing against them is a waste of time.  You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself.  You are competing to be the best you can be.  Aim to break your own personal records.  Competition for the mere sake of competition drives me absolutely insane.  I think there are few things that are so petty and childish as competing against others at every possible chance.  Enjoy what you have, be happy for others and find peace.
  16. Start cheering for other people’s victories. – Start noticing what you like about others and tell them.  Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places.  So be happy for those who are making progress.  Cheer for their victories.  Be thankful for their blessings, openly.  What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.  Again, surround yourself with people that deserve to be in the front row of your life and you'll enjoy being in the front row of theirs and cheering for them!
  17. Start looking for the silver lining in tough situations. – When things are hard, and you feel down, take a few deep breaths and look for the silver lining – the small glimmers of hope.  Remind yourself that you can and will grow stronger from these hard times.  And remain conscious of your blessings and victories – all the things in your life that are right.  Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.  I do not believe all situations have silver linings.  Sorry, I just don't.  BUT, I think that even in the darkest of moments, even in the hardest of times, there is always something to be grateful for.  Sometimes, you have to really search for it and really hold onto it.  This will make all the difference in the world.
  18. Start forgiving yourself and others. – We’ve all been hurt by our own decisions and by others.  And while the pain of these experiences is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long.  We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go.  Forgiveness is the remedy.  It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.  Forgiving does not mean forgetting.  Ever.  It is just simply releasing your heart from the anger (though, not always the intense hurt) and it does not mean that you have to continue a relationship in any shape, form or sort with the offender.  It merely releases yourself of the obligation of feeling anger and wasting that energy.
  19. Start helping those around you. – Care about people.  Guide them if you know a better way.  The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.  Love and kindness begets love and kindness.  And so on and so forth.  Being a good person to others will make you feel better, no matter how bad of a day your having.  A good deed is always good for the heart.
  20. Start listening to your own inner voice. – If it helps, discuss your ideas with those closest to you, but give yourself enough room to follow your own intuition.  Be true to yourself.  Say what you need to say.  Do what you know in your heart is right.  There are some things in life that you cannot explain every possible thought or explanation regarding.  No one, no matter how close, can ever be all the way in your head, on the really important issues, my thoughts are always to get opinions, weigh them, then do what you think is right.
  21. Start being attentive to your stress level and take short breaks.– Slow down.  Breathe.  Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose.  When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity.  These short breaks will help you regain your sanity and reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.  Rather than taking breaks, I'm a huge (new) fan of planning less.  Make sure that you are living your day to day life in a way that allows you time to smell the roses and appreciate the memories you're making.
  22. Start noticing the beauty of small moments. – Instead of waiting for the big things to happen – marriage, kids, big promotion, winning the lottery – find happiness in the small things that happen every day.  Little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the early morning, or the delicious taste and smell of a homemade meal, or the pleasure of sharing something you enjoy with someone else, or holding hands with your partner.  Noticing these small pleasures on a daily basis makes a big difference in the quality of your life.  The most amazing memories and happy moments are the small ones.
  23. Start accepting things when they are less than perfect. – Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’  One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are.  Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to trying to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal.  No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.  I disagree, to an extent.  I think we have so much to learn from something that we do not see as perfect.  We can figure out why it isn't perfect and use it as a learning experience to find out how we can make it seem perfect to us.  Our own personal idea of perfection rarely matches the rest of the world.
  24. Start working toward your goals every single day. – Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  Whatever it is you dream about, start taking small, logical steps every day to make it happen.  Get out there and DO something!  The harder you work the luckier you will become.  While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it.  By ‘working on it,’ I mean consistently devoting oneself to the end result.   I think this, again, has more to do with the above goals.  It's about battling the fear of change and taking control of your own happiness.
  25. Start being more open about how you feel. – If you’re hurting, give yourself the necessary space and time to hurt, but be open about it.  Talk to those closest to you.  Tell them the truth about how you feel.  Let them listen.  The simple act of getting things off your chest and into the open is your first step toward feeling good again.  Another point I think was more than covered above.  When you are honest with yourself and you take charge of your own happiness, it's rare for you to have the opportunity to hide how you feel.
  26. Start taking full accountability for your own life. – Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them.  Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will.  And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.  You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life.  And no, it won’t always be easy.  Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them.  But you must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles.  Choosing not to is choosing a lifetime of mere existence.  Again, I think this was covered above.  
  27. Start actively nurturing your most important relationships. – Bring real, honest joy into your life and the lives of those you love by simply telling them how much they mean to you on a regular basis.  You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to a few people.  Decide who these people are in your life and treat them like royalty.  Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.   See #13.  Stop wasting time on people that are not a positive influence on your life!  Trade them in for true friends!
  28. Start concentrating on the things you can control. – You can’t change everything, but you can always change something.  Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation.  Invest your energy in the things you can control, and act on them now.  I couldn't agree more.  Life is so precious and not a moment is guaranteed.  Enjoy the moment, take charge and stop wasting energy on things that will not ever be different.
  29. Start focusing on the possibility of positive outcomes. – The mind must believe it CAN do something before it is capable of actually doing it.  The way to overcome negative thoughts and destructive emotions is to develop opposing, positive emotions that are stronger and more powerful.  Listen to your self-talk and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  Regardless of how a situation seems, focus on what you DO WANT to happen, and then take the next positive step forward.  No, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you react to things.  Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether or not you’re happy and successful in the long run depends greatly on which aspects you focus on.  Again, I think this is all about the fears of change, trying and making a difference in your own life.
  30. Start noticing how wealthy you are right now. – Henry David Thoreau once said, “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”  Even when times are tough, it’s always important to keep things in perspective.  You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.  You didn’t go to sleep outside.  You had a choice of what clothes to wear this morning.  You hardly broke a sweat today.  You didn’t spend a minute in fear.  You have access to clean drinking water.  You have access to medical care.  You have access to the Internet.  You can read.  Some might say you are incredibly wealthy, so remember to be grateful for all the things you do have.  In my mind, this is exactly the same as showing gratitude for the things that you already have.  

So, maybe it's more like 10 things to Start Doing for Yourself....  Still, a great reminder on encouraging ourselves to take charge of our own lives to live happier ones.