Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Does Your Toddler Learn?

One of the most amazing things about being a mom is watching your child learn. Lately Ethan has been very into his flash cards and is finally into books. We don't read the books mind you, he couldn't possibly sit still for that, but we look at the pictures and point out what things are. 

Lately, his favorite word has been "sunshine". He says it so enthusiastically that it just melts my heart. He's proud of himself and I love that. He'll find the sun flashcard and bring it to me. He knows exactly where all the sunshine pictures are in his books and he will flip straight to them solely so he can say "sunshine!". 

I thought I'd share with you some of the learning tools we have been using that I feel have made a huge difference. Sometimes flash cards can be a mess and can get ruined quite quickly. I thought that I could maybe make them a "no touch" object, but I'm sure you know how that turned out. We do use them a lot in the bath tub (obviously we hold them for him) but it seems to work as we have his full attention. Although we have several sets that have already seen better days, I have found two sets that I absolutely love and think will hold up for quite some time.

These flashcards are made of the board book material so they aren't bendable. They do come on a convenient plastic ring, but they do come off of it pretty easily. I actually have the first words set instead of the animal set, but you get the gist. 

My First Touch  &  Feel Picture Cards: Colors  &  Shapes (MY 1ST T&F PICTURE CARDS)

These are also made of the board book material, but come with the very fun aspect of feeling different textures. They also have an added feature of having question ideas on the back for the parent to use. Like what sound does a duck make? What else is yellow? etc...

One of the first learning tools we started using was actually a DVD that was given to Ethan for his first birthday. I had my doubts, as we don't really use DVD's in this house, but he was absolutely enthralled with it and I have to say I thought it was put together very well and absolutely focused on learning

What's awesome about this video is that is shows a white background and flashes a letter across the screen multiple times saying it aloud. It goes through both upper and lower case and before it switches to the next letter it will show an animated version of the letter as well. It's really attention grabbing for little ones and I could tell an immediate difference. Ethan has mastered several of the letter and I'm sure if I were more religious about showing the DVD he would probably know them all. I look forward to trying out the other DVD's in this series as well once he is ready for them!

Since Ethan is so into learning at this point, I decided to ordered a couple of books for his Valentine's Day gift. We had so much success with the My First Christmas Board Book that I'm just sure he will love these as well.

Big Board Books Colors, ABC, Numbers (Bright Baby)

Every kid is so different when it comes to learning and I'd love to know what you have had success with as I'm always looking for ideas. These would all make great Valentine's day gifts for your little ones as well since obviously candy is out at this point!

***This review is completely honest. I either purchased these products with my own money or Ethan was gifted them from friends and family. If you do decided to order these products and click through the links I have listed, I will be compensated a small amount through the amazon associates program I am a part of. ***

Monday, January 30, 2012

Whole Foods Diet

***Nope you aren't in the wrong place...I'm just in the middle of updating the look of things around here! Please be patient as I'm sure this will be a work in progress for awhile.***

Our family has started a new diet around here. It was prompted by the Making Babies book, but really it's been something I've wanted to do for some time now and just hadn't taken the leap. It's called the whole foods diet or real foods diet...however you want to refer to it. I'm by no means an expert and we are just in week two of this, but I'd love to share with you the changes we are making.

Eliminate Processed Foods
This means cutting out foods that have more than 5 ingredients listed on the side of the product as well as any food that have ingredients you can't pronounce. No artificial sweeteners, flavors or coloring. No white flour or sugar that has been refined.

Last week I was so inspired I jumped in head first. I knew the majority of our issues were with breakfast and snack items. We used bread, instant oatmeal, granola bars, cereals and yogurt that did not make the whole foods cut. I made 4 loaves of 100% whole wheat bread as well as my own homemade granola. I also bought real oatmeal, organic cereal and a big container of plain yogurt that I dress up with honey, vanilla and fruit. Yep, it's a tad more labor intensive, but it's really not that bad. I'm fairly certain our bread will last 3-4 weeks (I froze it of course) and our granola will last us 2 weeks.

Choose Organic Foods
This is all about eliminating the amount of hormones and pesticides you take in through foods.

I have to admit we haven't made this leap yet due to budget constraints. I do hope to implement this one slowly though. I found a list of the "dirty dozen" foods that you should definitely eat organic so I plan on starting there. Starting this week, Ethan will be drinking organic milk. It is a budget buster at $5.79 a gallon when our regular milk cost us $2.99, but since it's the majority of his diet I think it's important to make the switch.

It's also encouraged to eat organic meat as most meat contains hormones. I've decided that we will just reduce the amount of meat we are eating. No we are not going vegetarian, but it will be more of an occasional food instead of always being the center of our meal. We are now getting out protein from eggs, nuts and beans.

Cut out Fast Foods
This is a tough one. I do cook the majority of our meals, but we are busy like everyone else and sometimes have to get food on the go. We haven't figured out exactly how to avoid fast food completely, but are currently brainstorming ideas. I know we can freeze meals, but sometimes you don't even have time for that so we still have to work that one out. We will be trying to eat fast food salads instead of fries and of course trying to eat as little meat from there as possible. You just never know what you are really eating when you eat out. For example here is what is makes up a bun from Wendy's. Information found here

Bun, Sandwich: Enriched Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, thiamine mononi- trate, riboflavin, niacin, iron, folic acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following: soybean, cottonseed, canola), Yeast, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Contains 2% or less of the following: Dough Conditioners (contains one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono and diglycerides, DATEM, enzymes), Yeast Nutrients (may contain one or more of the following: monocalcium phosphate, calci- um sulfate, calcium carbonate, ammonium sulfate), Turmeric, Paprika, Annatto, Nat- ural Flavor, Calcium Silicate, Calcium Propionate (preservative). CONTAINS: WHEAT. 

Can you pronounce all of that? I can't. In fact, I don't know what most of it is and that's just bread. Supposedly.

Let's Get Real

Is this hard to do? (Don't you love how I pretend you guys have asked questions?) 

Actually no. I haven't missed processed foods at all. In fact, I am loving the fact that I know exactly what I am eating and I feel so good about it! I'd say the hardest part is finding a substitution for fast food.

Where have you found your information?

Honestly, I've found most if not all of my information from this site. If you want to see some of the recipes I'm trying you should follow my whole foods pin board. I'm trying to update my thoughts on them once I test them!

Has this increased your food budget?

Well, it's increased my grocery budget for sure, but remember we are also cutting out fast food so....I'm hoping it will stay the same. Only time will tell. This is just week two, but once I find my normal maybe I can post some money saving tips. For now, I'm shopping the sale ads and using coupons when I can. 

Any other questions, tips, thoughts? Share away!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Embracing Motherhood

I'm pretty sure a bomb went off in my living room...err...whole downstairs (if I'm being honest)

That was the only reasonable excuse I could come up with anyways when my husband came through the door tonight. I'd show you a picture, but I'm too damn tired to go through that whole process. 

I think I've come to terms with the fact that things will never run perfectly smoothly around here, at least not anytime soon. It's a constant whirlwind of toys scattered on the ground, dinner needing to be made, dirty counter tops and the never ending piles of laundry. Not to mention that I have a toddler who has no problem telling me he needs something (all the time) and usually if I do get a chance to sit down, the dog will pick that time to scratch at the door.

Being a mom isn't easy. It's definitely not what's always pictured on TV shows and movies with the squeaky clean houses and mom's with perfectly coiffed hair and hobbies of their own. It's the biggest challenge I've ever taken on and honestly it's the most eye opening, rewarding experience I've ever had. 

Motherhood is about picking your battles. You can't do it all, or at least not at all the same time. I know that seems obvious, but it wasn't to me. I constantly felt guilty for not doing such and such during the day. I would clean the house, but wouldn't have time to make dinner, so I had failed. I would do all the laundry and make dinner, but wouldn't have had time to get dressed that day, so I had failed. At almost 16 months of motherhood I've learned that I simply cannot do it all...at least not at all the same time...and that's ok.

Some days are better than others. I've always got something to learn. There are tears and kisses, unbelievable messes along with great accomplishments, and times where there aren't enough hours in the day as well as lusciously long naps.  

I want to embrace this time because I know one day it will all of passed. My house will be quiet, my days won't be quite as hectic and I'll have more time than I know what to do with. I'm sure I won't remember the dirty house or the fact that I stayed in yoga pants most of the time, but hopefully I'll remember the hugs and kisses, the tears and the joys, the scattered toys and the silliness that makes being a mom the best thing in the world.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Ventures

I've got a couple of new ventures going on right now that I'm pretty excited about. It all centers around bettering myself and I feel like it fits in perfectly with January and kicking off the new year. 

For the Soul

Our pastor challenged us the other night to read the Bible from cover to cover. It's always been something I've wanted to do and believe me, I've tried a few times, but I've always given up around Exodus. Sad, huh? Well I'm hoping this time goes a little differently. I feel like I'll have a little better shot this time since there will be a higher level of accountability. If you want to follow along from week to week, you can get the breakdown of the schedule here

For the Body

As part of my quest for fertility (It sounds fun when worded that way doesn't it? It's not.) I've decided to make a change in my diet. As of yesterday, my husband, Ethan and I are only eating whole foods. No preservatives, no fast food, and making the slow change to all organic. I'll expand on this more later on as I'm sure I will want to make it into a full post. 

For the Mind

I recently changed my "about me" section because it said things that were no longer true, like when I described myself as "an avid book reader". Um, yeah, I can't remember the last time I picked up a book until here recently. It's funny how we change so much and so quickly that our own "about me" sections, written by us, can be so untrue by the following year. Well, I've decided to get back on the reading train although I'm not back to describing myself as an avid book reader just yet. Along with the Bible, my husband and I are also reading the Love and Respect book to strengthen our marriage even more. I will also pick back up my "just for fun" books that I put down months ago. 

I know January is almost over, but the year has just begun. I can't help but be excited about what all this year might hold. I'm excited about all of the changes I'm hoping to make this year and can't wait to see what type of person I will be by the time 2013 rolls around. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Laundry Room Makeover

I've been moving slowly on my reorganization this January. With a little one, I just can't do things as fast as I use to and I've just come to terms with the fact that I'll have to do everything little by little. I decided to make over the laundry room on a whim. I walked in one day and just realized how depressing the room was and immediately started ripping down the wire shelving....after taking before pictures of course!


Our laundry room is the room we come home to since it is located right off the garage. The previous homeowner had it painted a very dark color making the room appear even smaller than it already is.

I'll admit that these pictures reflect a much more cluttered laundry room than normal, but there was no way I was cleaning it just for a before photo! The wire shelving had to go. It drives me batty. I like to be able to slid hangers across a rod!

We use to have to squeeze through when we came home. Our dryer sat about 6 inches away from the wall thanks to major lack of common sense on the contractors part when this home was built. 

I loved having easy access to my "everyday" (and I use that term loosely) cleaning supplies, but I hated that they were so visible! Ok, let's move on to the afterwards...enough of this mess!


You can see that I replaced the wire shelving with wooden shelving. I also raised the shelf so I could hang more clothes (we hang dry a lot of clothes around here!). I painted the room a very light blue (Olympia, Elusive Blue if you are wondering). I also googled ways to get the dryer closer to the wall and found this little contraption at Lowes that was a life saver! So easy to install I did it myself! 

Once the dryer was moved, I was able to squeeze in this cabinet that the previous homeowner had left I us. I painted it white and put all of my "everyday" cleaners in it along with trash bags and cleaning rags. I put the laundry basket on top so I could easily toss clothes into it from the dryer!

I hung a wooden curtain rod (really it's just a painted dowel rod) for extra hang drying space. I got rid of all the mismatched hangers (a pet peeve of mine) and left only the white and wooden ones.

I also hung this towel rack on the back of the door to help hang dry pants...told you, we do a lot of hang drying around here!

I used the plastic containers I already owned, but relabeled them to make them match the space. I found the chevron pattern on Pinterest and made my own labels in Pages. Now all of my cleaners are officially out of sight!

I put a small shelf above the washer so I could have easy access to laundry supplies. I'm not thrilled with the basket I currently have (I repurposed it from our closet) but hopefully I'll find something a little better soon. I put a piggy bank to catch change when I go through pockets.

We already had the ironing board hanging behind the door, but I thought I'd show you the cute cover I got from Bed, Bath and Beyond. 

The laundry room is also our mudroom. My dad and Michael built this unit for me last year so we would have an organized dumping ground for coats, purses and shoes. I love it! In fact, I had them build it as a separate piece so we could take it with us when we move!

So much brighter and cleaner. Now that's a room I don't mind coming home to!

Please take a second and hit the "Like" button...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ethan's 15 Months Old!

Better late than never right? I feel like this past month was so wrapped up in Christmas it's almost hard to separate everything. I'll let the picture do the most of the talking since I seem to be out of words today.

I can tell this month is going to be a big one. The amount of changes that have already taken place over the past 11 days has been mind blowing! You never cease to amaze me Ethan!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Little Table Dancer

When I found out I was having a little boy I knew I was in for an awakening. I grew up with a sister in a house full of antiques and breakables and hardly anything ever got broken. I knew having a boy would mean there would be rough housing, things would get broken, and dirt would probably be abundant. What I didn't expect was for all of this to happen so early.

Notice anything missing?

As I was talking to my sister on the phone yesterday I felt the table slip out from under my elbow. When I turned to see what happened, I found Ethan holding my dining room table leg. My little incredible hulk had yanked it right off. I'm fairly certain it must have been loose already for him to have been able to get it off without me even noticing. But alas, my table is now 3-legged. I decided to disassemble it and Ethan, well...he's my little table dancer.

Boys...can't live with them and most definitely, can't live without them!

Now someone please tell me what I'm going to do about the lunch I'm hosting on Saturday? Guess we will be eating in our laps!

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Season Are We In?

I'm not exactly sure how you do things in your neck of the woods, but when it comes to sledding this year, we are doing things...well...a little differently.

What? You don't rake sled?

Yesterday we headed over to my dad's to hang out for a little while. To be honest, we just wanted to escape the house. It had been dark and dreary around here all last week and even though it was still frigid outside we were determined to get out in the sunshine. It's amazing what a little vitamin D will do for your mood. 

I can't wait for spring weather to start creeping in! There's nothing that makes my little boy happier than to be outside and I can't say I blame him. If these buttercups are any indication, then maybe, just maybe, we won't have to wait too much longer!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back into Routine

This blog has been getting a little "whomp, whomp" lately and the loss of a couple of subscribers has solidified that fact. It's time to spice it up a little bit before I lose the rest of you! It's not always easy to pop back into rainbows and butterflies so we are going to do this simple and well, random.

See the cute kid you guys are really all here to see is still around and I actually got out my camera today! Hello!

I cut caffeine cold turkey this month (hence some of the "whomp, whomp" around here). Does anyone remember the SNL Debbie Downer skit around here or are my "whomp, whomps" falling on deaf ears? Did you know caffeine was my life source? Yep, I probably racked up more calories and energy from caffeinated products than food since Ethan has been mobile. Main reason is who has freakin time to sit down and eat? And if I do find the time I usually have a dog and a baby both trying to eat off my plate and I just give up. So I've been trying to find other ways to get up and go, like washing my face in the mornings. 

Because you were dying to know what I used on my face....admit it.

Sometimes it's the little things that help you get on track. Getting back to basics. That's what I'm going to concentrate on for now. I'm starting with making the bed. Isn't it funny how that just makes the whole room feel better?

We won't talk about the fact that every single sheet I own is piled in the corner of my bedroom right now. Somehow me organizing always makes everything else a bigger wreck in the meantime. Anyone else notice this? It will be okay though I'm one basket, an ironing board cover, and a few labels away from being done with the laundry room and then it looks like I might be moving on to our bedroom. January is my husband's least favorite time of the year, thankfully Ethan doesn't seem to mind. 

Jumping into a pile of bedsheets is where it's at...who need leaves?

Speaking of routines (we were talking about routines somewhere right?) I've decided it's time for Ethan to get a new one too. Routine used to mean eat, play, change a diaper and sleep. I've discovered he's getting bored though so I've thrown caution to the wind and switched him to one nap a day as of yesterday which opens up a whole hell of a lot more time for us to "do things". I haven't quite figured out what those things are just yet, but I do know that they mean I've got to get up earlier in the morning. Long gone are afternoon romps around Target. It's time to get a morning routine going and my options are limited around here, but we both need to start getting out of the house. 

Alright, that's about all the sass and cuteness I can muster today. Hope you have a great one! I've got a toddler to chase.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I Really Needed to Say

It's 10:37PM. My face is squeaky clean and smells like Olay. I'm comfy in bed wearing the same clothes I wore all day and had slept in the night before. I'm mostly content, but then again I'm not really. I've tried my best to hold myself together, to not let things get to me but they do. No amount of projects or goals that I throw in front of myself will truly distract me from what's actually going on. It's so funny because I know something is wrong, but yet I just can't actually deal with it yet. 

I broke down yesterday and just cried. Enough was enough. Things had gotten the best of me. I'd been stressful and impatient and truth be told I didn't feel like a great mother or wife. I could not get myself together. I cancelled plans, got in my pajamas and cried. Big fat tears.

My husband made dinner and I just took it easy. It was what I needed in the end. I may not have gotten out of my pajamas today, but I was better. The house got picked up, I enjoyed time with my son and I had dinner ready to go by the time my husband arrived at the house. I had a good day. 

Sometimes I feel disconnected from myself. I know there's a problem, but until I can actually carve out time to face it...it will just eat away at me. I don't want to become that person again. I have worked really hard to deal with things as they come and not let them eat away at me.

I don't have time to be that person again. I have people that depend on me. I can't wallow in my pajamas with a bag of sour patch kids and a blanket over my head all day just hoping it goes away. Not dealing with things does funny stuff to you. It makes you miss out on all the good in life. Why haven't I posted my son's 15 month post? Well frankly because I"ve been too damn caught up in myself to take some decent pictures of him. I'm too caught up in what don't have to concentrate on what I do have and that's just plain sad. 

This blog is my outlet and it's felt like torture to sit at my computer lately to write. I knew what I needed to write all along, I just didn't want to do it. I wanted to put on a brave face and say..yep, I'm dealing with it just fine, but I'm not. It's getting to me.

***This is my attempt at stream of consciousness. I just needed to sit down and write. This is not a "please cry me a river" request. It is what it is. Not all of life is happy, sometimes you get lemons and now I just have to figure out how to deal with them.***

Monday, January 9, 2012

Trying for #2: An Update

I posted about a month ago regarding trying for number two and I thought it was time for an update. If you need to catch up read this post. After a lot of helpful comments and emails from you all I jumped on some fertility forums to search out options. I started taking B-50 complex vitamins to help lengthen my luteal phase, ordered a large pack of ovulation/pregnancy test strips (by the way I found a really cheap set here) and scheduled a consultation with my doctor.

I can't tell you how much better I felt just being able to do something. Taking the vitamins made me feel like I wasn't just throwing another month to chance and talking with my doctor honestly gave me peace. In fact, I was so glad to see my doctor that when he went for a handshake, I hugged him. Who am I? I'm totally not a big hugger, but I guess I figured after he had gone through Ethan's birth with me that this was acceptable. The very first thing he told me was that this wasn't my fault. I didn't even know that I needed to hear that. I bursted into tears on the spot. I know I didn't do anything wrong, but it was nice to hear it all the same. After a short chat about my need of a plan of action and what I thought was going on, he prescribed Prometrium (aka progesterone) for me to take for 14 days after I ovulated.

This month did not turn up the results I wanted. I took several pregnancy tests all resulting in a single line (I'm an impatient person apparently with very little self control). It wasn't completely a wash though. The B-vitamins most certainly did their job as I ovulated a couple days earlier and of course the progesterone gave me a 14 day luteal phase although I did end up spotting starting on day 11. (Is this TMI? I'm hoping it's helpful for those of you that are currently going through this as well.) My doctor recommended that we try this out for 4 cycles total before switching things up. So 3 more cycles before I head into the doctor again if needed although I do think I might call him about the spotting if it happens again this month. Maybe I need a stronger dosage?

I don't know why my body is betraying me, but I'm trying my hardest to trust that God knows what he's doing. For now I am just trying to keep myself preoccupied with other things like ripping the shelving out of the laundry room for an impromptu room makeover. Upon many recommendations I have ordered a book called Making Babies. I thought I had that all under control but apparently there is more to know than the obvious. I believe this book calls for some dietary changes and acupuncture among other things. I'm up for the dietary changes, but acupuncture I think not. I guess we will find out just how desperate I am right?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Get Knocked Down, I Get Up Again

Yesterday, I was defeated.

I lost my patience.
I screamed and didn't bother to get a pillow.
I got hit in the face with a plastic wrench.
I got poked in the eye multiple times by a curious toddler.
I fought a battle with hangers and they won.
My inner worries got the best of me and tears were shed.

Yesterday was not my shining moment as a mother. Not even close.

Today...is a new day. And now, both you and I have that dumb song stuck in our heads.

You are welcome.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January is My Christmas

January first fills me with a level of energy and excitement that just isn't present the rest of the year. I wait in anticipation for it to arrive probably as soon as the fall weather hits the south each year. 

To me January means new hope. I get excited about planning the next year and getting my house back in order after a hectic holiday season. My mind goes into overload with all the things I've been putting off since the holiday season began. It's a time to implement new systems, goals and ideas that will get our family's year started off on the right foot. 

It's time to hunker down, say no to "extra" activities and just focus on us, our family of three. And maybe, that's why I like January the most. I try to schedule as little as possible during this month as far as extended family and friends go. I like to be a home body the month of January. Hunker down and tear my house apart so that we can start anew. 

I'm hoping to share some of my organizational tips and tricks throughout this first part of the year. Yep, I'm going to go ahead and say this process will take through March. Things I used to get done in a week now take me months thanks to my precious little guy and I know you all understand that one! In order to make this process more effective I'm going to ask you all a simple question.....What is your biggest organizational challenge? Do you need help meal planning, with your finances, filing paperwork, cleaning out your closet, storing toys? I can't do it for you but I can share my tips if I have any!