Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Oscars: Cast Your Vote!

Tonight is always a fun night, no matter how big our party. The Academy Awards have been an event in our home for the last four years or so. And this year, I wanted to extend the party to you!

Below you will find a downloadable ballot. The cover is a list of all films that were nominated. How many have you seen? The inside and back panels are where you can cast your votes.  (Print it two-sided it you are able!) How well did you do?

Printable Ballot

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Baby B2: 24 Weeks

How far along: 24 weeks. I can't believe I'm over the half way point already!

How big is the baby: about 1 pound and 12 inches (from head to toe)

Sleep: I think I've been sleeping a bit better lately, I had a cold for the past three weeks which was keeping me up coughing and not breathing. So, now sleep seems so much better!

Best moment of the week: Chris being able to feel the baby move around. Baby is so active at night; it's a nice way for me to wind down at the end of the day with his hand on my belly.

Worst thing: low back pain (it's a recurring thing); I've been meaning to get back to PT, but haven't because my schedule is crazy.

Symptoms: Nausea isn't has common these days, I think it's more acid reflex at night now more than anything. Belly is growing, back is aching, acne is improving.  

Movement: Mostly at night, but often through out the day too! 

What I miss: Wine and deli meat sandwiches

Food Cravings: Chocolate -- always (but that was even before I was pregnant)

Food Aversions: Nothing at the moment

Maternity Clothes: Not yet. Guess my clothes were more baggy to start with this time around, which is fine because my sisters still have most of my maternity clothes!

Things People Say: "Oh, you're showing!" They ask how I'm feeling, nothing too outrageous or funny lately. Its mostly about William being a big brother.

Exercise: Not much. I've tried to get outside more now that the rain isn't has often and my cold is getting better. I did meet my 10k-step goal one day last week thanks to my sister's FitBit challenge.
Last Appointment: January 29, met with a midwife, I came with questions so the appointment went much better than our first meeting. Everything looks good! We had our ultrasound the week before that. This hospital has 42" screens you watch your baby on . . . bigger than life size! Other than it taking forever because Baby wasn't in the right position, everything was great.

Next Appointment: March 4

MOPS: Creativity and Motherhood

This last Friday, I shared with our MOPS group my ideas on creativity and motherhood. I thought I'd post it here as well because it might help you too!

I have distinct childhood memories of my mother pulling out all sorts of crafts for us kids to do together. We made Christmas ornaments out of beads, we made all of our birthday cards, and she taught me to sew when I was 10. But I also remember her pulling out craft projects that were just for her. She painted, made decorations for every holiday, and she sewed gifts. At one point she started selling her creations at craft shows. Looking back, I have no idea if she had us working on crafts to keep us out of her way or if she needed to have an outlet for herself and she we just never left her alone so she found ways to do it with us. I also can't believe she did all of it without the help of the internet and Pinterest (a sign of a truly creative lady).

I do think of myself as a creative person, but I can barely draw a stick person. I was never very confident in art class; paint and pencils kind of scared me. But photography, scrapbooking and writing are areas where I do enjoy creating. I love being behind the camera or surrounding myself with colored paper, scissors and glue!

I never gave it much thought to how important it is to be creative, or have the chance to create until I had William and no longer had the energy to do anything of the sort. I had done all sorts of “crafty” things before that and even started a blog to keep track of my projects. I scrapbooked and made cards, I started sewing and quilting in 2011, and I started my photography business in 2012. I had plenty of opportunities to create. 

I think one of the first things to “go” when I had my son were my creative hobbies. I no longer had time to make cards or sew. I didn't have the energy to do a photo shoot. I can tell just by looking at my blog how much time I lacked. I averaged 110 posts a year before William was born, but the year he was born I blogged half as much, and mostly about him – not even about my projects. I had nothing to write about because I wasn't creating anything.

After a while, that becomes an issue. If you don't have an outlet to be creative – or be who you used to be in whatever terminology you use, it starts to eat away at your identity. If nothing else, you feel like your time is not your own – you are always sacrificing for someone else and you may feel bitterness edging in.

During one of our anniversary dates, my husband and realized that this was becoming a problem for both of us. Neither one of us had time or energy to invest in ourselves and bitterness was starting to creep into our relationship. This became one of the major goals my husband and I have been working on this past year as we are both creative people and need to have space to create or we go a little crazy.

Each month, we try to give each other a “creative afternoon” or whole day if we could. It didn't happen all of the time, but when it worked, it was great. It has been so encouraging to both of us to look at what we've been able to accomplish this year because we worked together in finding the time. My photography business grew, I had time to make two quilts, and I finished my son's Christmas stocking.

None of these projects are actually crucial to my life, but they give me a sense of living and a sense of who I am. Which is something I can easily forget when in the trenches of motherhood.

And now I have a two year old who loves to create. He loves painting and drawing and requests that I draw with him (or for him). I'm not any good at it, but we can create together and hopefully he'll learn to draw better than I can teach him. He's learning about colors and shapes, textures, and the differences between crayon, marker and paints. Last week, he used glue!

Creativity can come in so many different ways so its hard to say that someone isn't a creative person. Maybe you aren't crafty, but you love to create meals. Perhaps you also can't draw a stick person, but you have a great eye for decorating and using color. Or maybe you're an artist and use a brush or a computer to create beautiful things. Perhaps you use words to create stories or an instrument to create music. Maybe your creativity is seen in your garden or the way you organize your home. I think creativity can happen anywhere and the tools are endless.

So, as we contemplate how we are each creative in our own ways, let's discuss how we can make space and time for them.

1) What are your favorite hobbies or creative outlets?
2) How have you made time for them?

3) Brainstorm ways to make time or find hobbies that could work with small kids

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Toddler Boy: Potty Training

Between my being pregnant and William potty training, at least one of us is using bathroom at any given time. And my hands are cracked and raw from all the hand washing. But I remain thankful for the progress he's made so far.

We started potty training William on New Year's Day. It was a Friday and a long weekend and Chris and I were both available all weekend long. It was a messy weekend to say the least, but now, five weeks later, I'm so glad we started when we did. But let me back up.

At William's 18 month appointment, his pediatrician recommended we get a potty chair for him to get used to. Have him sit on it a couple of times a day and build a routine. So we did. Every night before bed we had him sit on the potty. We'd read a story or sing a song and that'd be it. Sometimes he would go, other times he wouldn't. Then we added another time in the morning, before breakfast. By the time he turned 2, he would go more often than not whenever he sat on it. And the doctor recommended upping it to five times a day. But by November, he was refusing to sit most of the time. Crying "no potty, no potty" with thick tears rolling down his sweet cheeks. I backed off.

By Christmas, he was ready again. We had read a lot of library books and his cousin told him about her potty over Skype. We were now removing his diaper and having him sit on the potty 4-5 times a day with fair success. Removing the cloth diaper was getting a little old, and I was admitting that I was feeling tired of diapering (knowing I had a new baby on the way and was basically starting over was not helping!).

So, by New Year's Day, I was motivated. We introduced William to underwear (thanks Grandma!) and showed told him how he needed to head to the bathroom whenever he felt the urge to "go." We stuck to our normal schedule of having him go just as we had when he was in diapers, and added a few more (especially after he drank liquids!).  We basically stayed in the house all weekend long. He did really well when we were watchful. It was when we let our guard down that we had an accident to deal with. It scared him to feel so wet. He requested to wear diapers a lot during that first week, and I obliged, but learned that if I distracted him long enough, he'd put on his underwear without fussing.

After the first couple of days, I put together a sticker chart for him with star stickers, he got one star for every time he used the potty. If he was wearing underwear and went to the potty, he got two stickers! That motivated him to basically do without the diapers.

Going #2 remained a challenge, and still remains a challenge. To help, we brought out the super special dinosaur stickers I had been saving for just such an occasion. If the poo made it in the potty, he got a special sticker; this worked well at the beginning, but now we just can't seem to get the timing right. (any tips?)

The other challenge we've come up against, is that he now wakes up from his nap screaming if he has to go potty. Even though he's wearing a diaper, he rarely lets himself use it. And he gets really worked up about it. I had not heard of this happening to others, and was worried at the beginning. Now, I just try to help him go to the bathroom and calm him down enough to try napping again, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Thankfully night time waking was only an issue once or twice.

I can't say we are fully potty trained yet, since the #2 just isn't clicking, but he hasn't worn diapers while he's awake in nearly three weeks! He can tell us when he has to use the potty, although his verb tense is all wrong, "William peed!" or "You peed!" he says. He successfully goes potty in public bathrooms: the park, church and at my office. So, yes, I'm very thankful for his progress and glad we started when we did! Its a process and takes a lot of energy for all of us. But, no more energy than washing diapers three times a week!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I'm an Aunt Again! A Baby Quilt for my Niece

I've been behind my sewing machine every spare minute since Thanksgiving quilting for gifts for two new babies in the family. My sister, El was due just six weeks after Molly, but since she found out the gender of her baby and was getting an actual nursery ready, I started with hers. She had her baby girl just last week!

At the time I started the quilt, the potential nursery theme was coral and blue with woodland animals. It took me nearly six hours to pick out the fabric, and who knows how many hours to sew it, but I did it. And I love how it turned out.

The final size is 40" x 40." The binding fabric was some yellow floral piece I had left over from my very first quilt. It matches the main backing piece really well. I did the top stitching using my free-motion foot. I was out of practice so it took me a while to get used to doing that again. Of course there are a ton of things that I should have ripped and redone, but my machine was acting up a lot so I had to go with it.

I hope the colors match the nursery, which I haven't seen yet. I wanted it to be feminine, but not so much that dad would scoff at using it. I think the deer add a nice touch; I'll say it's in honor of the first deer he got this winter with his bow! And hopefully this baby girl gets some use out of it - whether it be a floor mat or a lap blanket . . . or a giant burp cloth!

Can't wait to meet you little Adley Rae!