Saturday, November 30, 2013

Giving Thanks

Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade?  Check.

Way too much food made?  Check.

Charming place settings made by the 3.5 year old? Check.

Table prepared?  Check.

Precious guests?  Check.

Family gathered?

Check, and check. 

We have so much to be thankful for this year it's almost breathtaking.  

But these faces, above all else, as always.

Friday, November 29, 2013


It is still amazing to me how you set out to have a baby, and before you can even bat your eyes what you have no longer resembles a baby so much as a tiny tornado of opinions, wants and personality.  In other words... a person.

How does that happen so fast?! Hopefully none of us are so naive as to believe that the sweet little bundle we held in a hospital bed won't one day grow into a person, yet at the same time, there is this intrinsic block when you're holding that tiny baby.  You can't possibly imagine how much he will change a little over a year down the road.

Some things never change, though.  I think one is my absolute favorite year.  I have so many fond memories of cute, sweet, endearing one year old Leah, and Logan is proving to be just as joyful and hilarious.  (For the record, here's a little glimpse at Leah when she was 15 months.  Not that I'm comparing...)

I love watching his chubby-legged walk through the house.  He still has that adorable, wobbly, wide-legged baby stance.  He's actually quite sturdy, but don't ask me how because it looks like the child should fall over at pretty much every step.

He still gives the world's best kisses.  They are open-mouthed, sucker-fish kisses and they completely slime you; the kind that actually POP when he lets go.  His favorite is to give them to me around the legs when I've stepped out of the shower.

He is soooo funny.  The child is definitely going to be a class clown.  He adores making people laugh and he has a real sense of what is funny.  If you're laughing at something unconnected to him, he will chime in with a great belly laugh as if he totally gets the joke.

He doesn't play with toys, but his favorite game is to make as much of a mess as humanly possible.  He likes to knock over toy baskets, dump out boxes, and then immediately move on to the next place he can cause destruction.  My kitchen cabinets are a favorite of his (they haven't been re-baby proofed since we painted the cabinets in August.  C'mon, hubby!!), and he loves to pull plastic ziploc bags out of drawers, or plastic mixing bowls out of cabinets.  It's a hot mess pretty much anywhere he's been.

He is influenced for sure by his sister and her whole "being three" conundrum.  He does much more screaming than Leah did at this age, and I've even seen him throw belly-down, fist pounding fits.  I've mentioned that he's just 15 months, right?  He has the best life is horrible face, and he's not afraid to use it.

Logan loves to help with the dishwasher.  Anything involving putting dishes away or taking them out, and you're guaranteed to have a special little helper.

He has an incredible amount of language, but it's very different developmentally than sister's.  Leah was very precise - she worked on her enunciation because she wanted to get it perfect.  Logan, not so much.  Both are very representative of who they are as people: I'm convinced Leah could have walked earlier than Logan, but she didn't because she didn't want to fall.  She didn't take her first steps until she was sure she could do them right.  Logan, on the other hand, barreled across the living room as soon as his little body would propel him and promptly fell on his tush.  It's been the same with his language.  I think Logan actually has more language than Leah, he's just not as concerned with how it comes across, so I have to do a lot more interpreting than I did with his sister.  He also babbles infinitely more than she did.  She was not a babbler; if she was going to speak, you were going to understand what she said.  He never has a quiet moment from dawn to dusk. Then again, at three, neither does Leah.

The words I know he can say:
Yeah                               Hiya                               Daddy
Doggy                             Bunny                             Fish
Giraffe                             Bird                                Duck
Kitty                                Fork                               Sissy
Yuck                               Bath                                Jesus
More                               All done                          Thanks
Sock                               Cheese                            Cheek
On                                  Off                                   Trash
Please                              Banana                            This
That                                 Tree                               Santa
Pretty                               Stuck                             Ta-Da!
Quack                              Moo                              Bark (dog noise)

He can find his foot, tummy, cheek, head, hair, eyes, ears, nose, hands and fingers when you ask.  At least, I'm pretty sure he can.  Again, unlike his sis, who was happy to do whatever she was asked at this phase, you have to catch him in the right mood where he's willing to demonstrate these talents, so I'm about 98% sure he knows those body parts.  He doesn't like to practice them on the changing table (like sis did) either.  Boys!

I've been able to influence my children in two big ways so far: 1) developing a love of music and 2) adoring the holidays.  Logan was absolutely obsessed with pumpkins, and now he feels the same way about Christmas trees (and pretty much anything with lights on it).  He can no longer say mama, but the kid can say Santa.  Fair trade, if you ask me.

He gets his adorable little pointy finger out when he sees anything holiday related and either gets really loud or really quiet, and says, "oooooh!"  and "pretty!" over and over again.  So stinkin' sweet.

He is a monkey.  He climbs anywhere he can get and tries faithfully to give his mommy a heart attack.  He likes to climb, then raise both hands over his head and exclaim, TA-DA!!!

His most recent trick is to, when he is hungry, grab his bib out of its drawer and run over to his high chair.  A fit will likely follow if you can't either feed him or distract him, but it's adorable.

He loves to help, and has the sweetest spirit about doing jobs you ask him to do.  That dishwasher, I tell you.  He could unload it all day long.

My child finally sleeps successfully through both the night and his naps.  In fact, we have finally reached that juncture where he loves his crib.  HOORAY!  He typically sleeps about 7-6:30 and naps a good 2-2.5 hours.  YAY!

He wears size 5 shoes and size 3 or 4 diapers, and exclusively 18 month clothing.  I think we may make it through the winter in 18 months and not have to upgrade to the 2Ts until spring/summer.  Stay tuned...

His laugh.  Oh my gosh, it's the thing pure joy is made of.  Great, big belly laughs that he is more than willing to share with everyone.  Usually it's sister that makes him laugh the hardest, probably followed closely by me.  He is too hilarious.

Our little guy is so much harder than Leah was in so many ways.  At the same time, though, he is also sweet, cuddly, so loving and just Mommy's best little buddy.  As hard as he is, I just adore that baby boy.  I can't imagine our lives without him!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving funk and other randoms

I have been so spoiled the last few days it's ridiculous.

Well, I suppose maybe I should preface that by explaining that my husband finally came home after the world's longest 11 day trip (Tuesday) and my body promptly gave out.  The cold I'd been fighting for the entire duration of his trip caught up with me the same day he came home (seriously?  Bodies are amazing!  Thank GOD I made it through that trip without getting sick, we all would have died!  He got home and literally within five hours I was full-on, no-holds-barred sick.  Go figure.).  I spent yesterday in bed running a fever.  

BUT.  Compared to chasing after my energetic two all alone?  It was heaven on earth.  Thanks, hubby!

I'm in a strange funk this year, which is super out of character for me, since October and December bookend my absolute favorite hundred days of the year.  I have all these projects to do, but none of them seem to be getting done.  It's like I have to actually tackle them to make them happen... weird, right?

So this is a completely random collection of things I've either a) attempted, b) been thinking about or c) plan to do.  Soon.  Ish.  Unless I have another cup of cocoa.  

1) The Thankful Tree.

Not a new idea, I know, but I love it.  I'm longing for a different way to recount our family's gratitude this year.  Probably because I'm the Thanksgiving Grinch and I'm finding the 30 days of thankfulness Facebook thing totally cliche.  I told you!  F-u-n-K!  

2) Thanksgiving Prep.  We are hosting Thanksgiving this year!  I have to confess, I am kind of ridiculously excited.  It has been at least two years since we hosted the holiday meal, and I have to brush up on my hostess skills.  You, too?  You might want to check out this handy little helper.  

3) Let's talk about these giant carts at Target.

People, I hate them.  Loathe.  And I rarely loathe anything when it comes to Tarjay.  But I can't drive this stupid cart, and when I try I bump into things and force other customers to report DUI shopper to that cop guy at the front.  Of course, to children they look like superawesomefuntime, resulting in my three year old begging to ride and melting down when mommy explains that there's this thing called child protective services, and they are likely to come to our door if mommy has to drive this monstrosity.

4) Is it just me, or does Starbucks completely rule the holiday season?

I set my internal celebrating clock by them.  When does the pumpkin spice latte come out?  On the first official day of fall!  Of course, we might also read: what's the first official day of fall?  When the PSL comes out!  I had my first Eggnog latte today, therefore I dub today the official start of the holiday season.  I know there are those who begin celebrating Christmas on November 1 (I'm looking at you, every retail establishment in the country), but I've been intentionally holding off.  UNTIL NOW.  Game.on.

5) I made the most delicious pumpkin cookies for Halloween.  

Seriously, they were to die.  And totally fat free if by fat free you mean containing approximately three sticks of butter.  We packed them up and took them to a few of our neighbors, but only after eating a clean dozen on our own.  The best example of worth it! calories I've tasted in a long time.

6) Love those "family rules" signs.  I'm contemplating making our own - perhaps a New Year project?  

... but how to boil down the thing your family stands for to a handful of words?  What would your family's be?

7) This year, both Food Network and Hocus Pocus celebrate their 20th anniversaries!  Just because it's fun to highlight things that make us feel old... 

Incidentally, not as old as Sarah Jessica Parker or Bette Midler, but still.

One of my all time favorite movies, since this is soooo my generation.  I also had a crush on Zach, in case you were wondering, because he was, like, all that and a bag of chips.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Butt covering update: What I know about cloth diapering (14 month edition)

So, the last time I talked about cloth diapers, our situation was a wee bit different.  Logan was 4 months old, he was still breastfeeding exclusively and we'd only been on the bandwagon for the time it took our little cherub to gain 10 pounds.

Fast forward ten months.  We made it!  It's been over a year on the cloth diapering front!  Remind me to show you the medal I was never actually awarded for faithfully changing and dumping poop three to five times a day for the last 14 months.  (Sidenote: that's a LOT of poop that is not sitting in landfills.  You're welcome, world.)

I know this gig isn't for everyone.  Truthfully, it didn't even used to be for me considering that we used disposables the first time through.  But it bums me out when people are all, eeeew, doesn't it gross you out to have poop in your washing machine?  Here's the thing: I so-ooo do not have poop in my washing machine.  Yes, that would completely gross me out, but the truth is that the poop gets flushed, as it's technically supposed to even if you are using disposable diapers.

The other myth that bums me out: I don't think I can handle dealing with poop all the time.  Here's the thing: 1) you'd better get used to dealing with poop if you ever intend to potty train your child, because, trust me... that poop is a-comin'.  Probably in the form of ooops I didn't tell you I had to poop and now it's in my underwear/pants/socks/upmyshirt/downmyleg from your sweet two year old.  Enjoy. 2)  The extent of my dealing with poop is typically this: open diaper.  Tip poop into toilet.  Flush toilet.  We don't have many icky sticky poop incidents at our house that require scraping, although there are a plethora of tools to deal with them should they occur.

Am I really qualified to make recommendations about cloth diapers?  Heck no!  But I can tell you what works for us, and why.  Here it is, in good, old-fashioned, teacher-approved bullet point format: the world of cloth diapering according to Melissa.

  • We chose Rumparooz.  Why?  Because we like them, and they are a local company here in Colorado.  That was really the final nail for me, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the diapers themselves.  Also in the running were BumGenius4.0  - which can now be found at Target - and OhKaty because they have super adorable patterns and colors.  All three have the same basic premise: snap closure, microfiber diapers designed to grow with your baby, as well as inserts that help absorb all the ickies.  
  • How are they different from disposables?  A disposable diaper relies on an absorbent gel to lock mess in.  One of the many things I love about cloth diapering is that babies are much less likely to get diaper rash, because 1) you change them more frequently and 2) that mess isn't locked in against their skin.  In 14 months, Logan has had only one case of diaper rash, and it was absolutely due to the fact that he was going through an I have to poop every 37 minutes phase.  When you poop that much, you pretty much get a rash regardless.  I've never had to use any kind of butt paste or diaper creme on him, and the diapers are super soft even after all this time.  
  • Cleaning.  We use the most basic liquid Tide available.  No scent, no additives, no nothing.  It's different from our regular laundry detergent, but it works wonders on the diapers.  You could try all sorts of fancy organic blends, I've also heard of people making their own, or you could just schlep to the store since Tide is available everywhere.  We're super lazy, so we chose option C.  It works for us.  The sun is your best friend in cleaning a diaper, and the covers get sunned usually once a month to help get rid of any build up or stains.  I am happy to report that the stains we had initially from the breastmilk poops have entirely gone away.  Although our diapers look a bit more lived in these days, they are still fluffy, soft, and overwhelmingly stain free.
  • Poop.  I can't vouch for anyone else who uses cloth, because people have created all sorts of gadgets to get cloth diapers poop free.  When they're exclusively breastfed, you can simply toss a poopy diaper in the wash and, since the poo is water soluble, it washes right out.  Once you start on solids, you have to devise a new strategy.  We've been really lucky, because we seldom have to do anything more complicated than dump a clump and flush.  Occasionally the diaper gets banged against the side of the toilet to knock poop lose, and every now and again I have to use some TP to help me scrape it out.  There are those who dunk the diaper, who have an attachment on the toilet, who keep a scraper... we've never had to go to any of those extremes.  My original plan was to use these flushable liners to help us dispose of messy dumps, but I've never had to use them.  
  • Changing.  We've slowed down dramatically on the changing front.  Once Logan got onto solids and off of breast milk, I was able to go 3-4 hours between changings and his outfits are no longer wet throughout the day.  We are still using disposables at night; whether we need to or not remains to be seen.  It's become our habit and we're pretty happy with it.  
  • How many?  I have two dozen, and it's a number that works fabulously for us.  When we have another baby to diaper, I will probably get 6-10 more depending on where we are in the potty training process with Logan. 
  • Velcro or Snap?  Snap.  No contest.  Based on my exactly zero experience with velcro, but I hear the snaps are longer lasting and less hassle. I'm sticking with that story.
  • Wipes. We're still using these fabulous cloth wipes from Charlie Banana.  Love them.  They come in sets of 10; I have 2 packs (20 total).  It's plenty, even though I do keep a box of disposable wipes on hand as well, simply because they're super handy.  We use far less disposable wipes than we did with Leah, though.  
  • Costs.  We buy a small pack of diapers once every two months or so, as opposed to a huge box once every three-four weeks.  The revolving costs for us are 1) disposable diapers and 2) the cost of washing and drying our diapers, which is so minimal we don't feel it.  Maybe an extra $1-$3 dollars a month... and if I had to guess I'd say even that is a stretch (I read a statistic that says a load of laundry costs approximately  $0.16 each time to wash and dry.  Another stat says $0.11 to wash and $0.35 to dry.  I don't know the truth, but I know it's nothing in the long run).  The truth is, the cost of cloth is so minimal compared to the continual costs of disposables, it's not even a contest.  Particularly because for our next child, there's not going to be the huge start up cost of buying all those cloth diapers.  We spent $567 on the diapers, wipes, wet bags and other accessories necessary; we spent something close to $900 on Leah's first year of diapers, wipes, Diaper Genie liners and butt paste (she was potty trained right at 3, if that gives you any reference).  For us, it's a no-brainer.
I'm sure there's things I've missed here.  So how about you?  Cloth or disposable?  How do you run the clean bottom express?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween Scavenger Hunt

One of our favorite activities on Halloween was a scavenger hunt that I created at the very last minute.  Leah had an absolutely wonderful time running from place to place around our house and front yard finding and solving each clue.  

I was a little apprehensive about how this would go, given that she's only three and each clue required a bit of critical thinking in order to solve.  It would have been easy to dumb this down just a little to ensure that she could find each clue, but I'm really glad I stuck it out; it was amazing watching her think through the clues and come to a conclusion!  She definitely needed us to read parts of the clues more than once, but she did not require any additional prompting to reason through it.  It was awesome.  

To set it up, I simply made a list of the places I wanted her to travel.  Then, I wrote the clues on numbered index cards and taped a piece of candy to each card.  She had a paper bag that we had decorated earlier in the week, and she got to keep all the candy and keep track of the clues along the way.

This game could be used at any time of the year in any household with a few simple modifications.  For reference, here are the clues I came up with:

1. I am the thing you'll carve tonight 
to give your neighbors quite a fright.  
Once you start, you can't turn back.  
I'm orange and my name is Jack.

2. Here's the place you get all clean,
so dirt and germs cannot be seen.
To find the clue just lift the cup,
but do not drink the water up!

(more specifically, under the cup we use to wash her hair)

3. The next clue is in your room,
with a witch, her cat, and a broom.
Follow, follow, where I lead,
I'm so glad you love to read!

4. For the next clue to put in your sack,
find the place mom keeps your snack.
This is the place that keeps food cold.
Hurry!  I am getting old.

5. Hurry, hurry, the next clue is calling.
From the place where leaves are falling.
Put on your shoes, your coat and hat,
for outside is where I'm at!
(Helpful hint: tie the clue securely to the tree with some twine.  We didn't do this, and got to spend a few extra minutes searching as Mommy frantically tried to remember what the heck the clue said.  We finally found it in the neighbor's driveway.)

6. The next clue is found in a bag
that makes the doggies' tails wag.
When you give the dogs their food,
you will find your next clue, dude!

7. This clue is the very last,
isn't this going fast?
Under where your shows come alive,
you'll find tools you need to survive.
It's the best holiday we've ever seen,
I love you, and happy Halloween!

Her prize was a bag full of pumpkin carving supplies, some glow sticks for trick or treating, and of course, candy.  She never knew it, but I recycled some of the candy we had already gathered from Boo at the Zoo and other places this season.  Waste not, want not, right?  (Plus, it's not as if anyone can actually eat all the candy they get on Halloween.)

Enjoy!  If you try it with your little one, let me know how it goes!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

So let's talk October in November.

Every year, I look forward to October.  For, well, pretty much the entire year.  

Because I am a creature of supreme habit, my year looks about like this: Post-holiday exhaustion in January, hate on February for being cold and icky, plan madly for Leah's birthday in March.  Then, beginning somewhere around April, a longing for fall kicks in.  Because, really, I love summer, but after summer comes fall and I looooove fall.  The anticipation kicks into hyperdrive after we watch fireworks, and by the time the kids are going back to school I'm all it's totally fall!  Whip out the sweaters!  Let the leaves change colors!  I'm putting up Halloween decorations! even though it's still 98 degrees outside and the pool hasn't closed yet.

And then, after all that anticipation, after the decorations go up, the kids get in their costumes, the candy is piled up in a massively large bowl that should be used to hold punch, I wake up disoriented, completely stunned and struggling to believe that... October is... over? and it's November 1st.  How did that happen?!

Every year.

We had an amazingly great October.  Casey was gone a lot, which didn't leave me time to do much more than prep for school, cook meals/clean up after the two littles with a side of Labrador and Shih Tzu.  

Still, we managed to fit in quite a bit of festive fun.  And we got a ton of mileage out of their Halloween costumes!

I was a little stumped at first as to how to combine the boy/girl thing to create a workable theme.  Leah spotted this Sully costume from Monsters Inc - her current favorite movie - and I was sold.  I was able to use my fabulous sewing machine to make a few improvements - like stitching the dress and the underskirt, which came in two pieces for unknown and totally ridiculous reasons - together.  Once our Sully was in place, Mr. Mike was an easy jump.  

I love it.  Love it for so many reasons, one of which might be that her first request for a costume was a princess, which I was not digging.  I'm not ready to enter the world of princesses, folks.  I may never be, so for this year I'm grateful for the little monsters that invaded our house.

We attended Halloween parties.

We visited pumpkin patches with our dear friends.

I got my first grown up hair cut in such a long time I'm ashamed to cop to it.

We practiced for the Big Night at trick-or-treat street near our music class.

Casey and I celebrated our anniversary a little more with a date night, and tickets to Book of Mormon (which we've been trying to see literally since it opened in New York two years ago.  Review?  Awesome.  Hilarious. Creative.  Best show I've see in ages.  And completely offensive.)

For the fourth year in a row, we Boo'd at the Zoo.

Halloween itself was filled with wonderfully fun events:

We played games like spider fishing.

And pin the nose on the Jack O Lantern

And did a scavenger hunt.

And lots of crafts.

And carved pumpkins.

And had dinner with good friends.  And trick or treated till our feet were tired.

And came home completely exhausted to eat candy and fall, spent, into our beds.

Whew!  It's been a crazy and wonderful October. 

I am ridiculously, sickeningly in love with and grateful for this life.  We're just as blessed and lucky as we could possibly be.  

Hoping everyone else had an equally happy October!  And so... bring on November!

I changed my font at