Friday, September 30, 2011

Mommy Lesson #10: Celebrate

Moral: Celebrate the little victories that happen every day.

Okay, so if you've read much of my blog you know that my 3 year old is not good at going to sleep.  He just doesn't know how to relax himself well and it's almost always a struggle.

Today I am celebrating day #2 that he's put himself to sleep this week.  He was SUPER cranky both days and chose to lay in his own bed, cover himself up, and lay still until he was asleep.

HOORAY FOR THE LITTLE THINGS.

It's not too late

It's not too late to enter the Itzbeen Pocket Nanny giveaway!  Check out this great device and enter the giveaway on THIS LINK.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

35 weeks and counting...

Tomorrow I will officially be at 35 weeks!
Last week I shared about the doctor's concerns - baby's got some swelling, I've got extra fluid, and my blood sugars have been fairly uncontrollable.  Today we went back to the doctor for a check up.  

Here is the latest news:
Baby doesn't have any additional swelling.
Mama doesn't have any additional "extra" fluid.
Mama's blood sugars are looking a lot better.
Still measuring at full term.
I've gained 3 more pounds.

The doctor did NOT push the idea of a C-section today.  I was concerned that she would push it and insist on scheduling.
She has changed us to visiting with her twice a week (which means we get to drive to the north side of town 3 days a week now - hoorah).
She still wants him to be earlier than 40 weeks, but is not concerned yet about MAKING that happen.

I've had a lot of contractions today, she did not check me to see if I was dilated at all, she said she'll do that Monday.  

My plan? To take a warm bath, get some pictures in my Belevation underpants, and sleep (probably in my recliner).

Then wake up and take my boys on a play date, do some work at the church, get everyone's bags ready for baby day.  Then, if it's nice out, go walk the zoo!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Swaddlekinz Winner

Congratulations to Ashey Reynolds! 
Rafflecopter has your number tonight!
I will be emailing you about your prize shortly!

Crock Pot Meal: Unstuffed Peppers

The truth is: I couldn't find my menu for the week when we got home last night.  I couldn't for the life of me remember what I planned on serving tonight between my doctor's appointment and church.  So I looked in the fridge and got creative.  Monkey doesn't like bell peppers, so I thought I'd try and hide them a bit.

Unstuffed Peppers-
Diced Onions
Diced Green Bell Peppers
Chopped Celery
1 can of diced tomatoes with peppers
1 "scoop" of rice
enough water to cover it all
chicken bullion cubes
(I debated about adding chopped carrots but we didn't have room).

Mix it all together in the crock pot.  Cook on low for several hours (we cooked it overnight).  If the rice is still crunchy, turn it up for half an hour and get that water boiling!


Yes, I know - very precise measuring is involved here.

Wordless Wednesday: Apple Pie






Okay - words here... Monkey was ready to put the apples in the pie.. this was his method.





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mommy Lesson #9: Expect to wait

Moral: Be prepared for doctors visits to take MUCH longer than you expect.

Today my Crackers had 2 doctors appointments with different specialists, in a town about 2 hours south of us.  I took the boys to my parent's house yesterday afternoon so we wouldn't have as far to drive today - it also gave us a good excuse to visit family!

We got to Indianapolis only slightly early (I like to be at  least half an hour early for these appointments).  I found the right parking garage so I could ride the people mover between the 2 hospitals... yep, the 2 appointments were in different hospitals, go figure.  We hopped on the people mover and I groaned as I saw the time on their clock said "9:30"... I was late, already!

I made it to the first hospital at 9:37 (according to the clock in ophthalmology).  Whew!  We had a super quick visit with the doctor and were back on the people mover before 10:30.  Crackers loved standing on the seat and staring out the window over Indianapolis as we moved through town.  It was fun to watch him enjoy the scenes.

We got back to the other hospital (where we had parked) with a lot of time to spare.  We were assisted by a friendly "redcoat" named Marc.  He helped us find the "skywalk" to get from the hospital to the hospital tower - why do they make these big hospitals so complicated?  We found our way across and figured out where the doctor's office was.

We were in the office at 11:00 for our 11:40 appointment.  I felt good about that, it meant we could get in early and get on the road, where we would quickly meet up with Bri from Eco Baby Mama Drama to give her something cool.

NOT GONNA HAPPEN LIKE THAT - oi.  We didn't leave the neurologist until after 1pm, then had to wait for this boy to pee in a bag (did I mention he hadn't eaten since 8am?) .  So tired, hungry cranky Crackers and I waited and waited until almost 3, they took the bag off and said maybe there would be enough, they aren't sure - we should know in a week or so.

Oh my.

Crackers was asleep before we got out of the parking garage!  He had "lunch" in the car after we picked his brother up, around 5.

Next time: I bring snacks and don't plan to meet up with anyone!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Auntie Bev

I think I first fell in love with the idea of canning when I was about 7.  I remember standing in my Auntie Bev's kitchen one fall day and watching her use her amazing apple peeler/slicer/corer (yep, they had those back then).  I was fascinated.  She just wizzed those apples around in circles with long strings of peels coming off.  Then she somehow turned those same apples into applesauce and put them in jars to can them.

Maybe it's not a big deal to everyone but I clearly remember the experience of watching her in amazement as she made that amazing treat!  Ever since that day I was fascinated by the apple peeler/corer/slicer (I have one now that I store in my basement).  I don't remember ever seeing anyone else practice canning as I grew up.  Certainly there were people canning at some point when I was around - I don't remember it at all though.

My first experience with canning was about 2 years ago when Mr. Crum and I decided we were going to try making apple butter, and caramel syrup, and honey for Christmas presents.  I fell in love with canning all over again.  We're not great canners, we don't can enough for our family to make it through the winter - and I often forget to use the things we have.  But I love it.  I enjoy learning that I can make something different and store it for the winter.

I love that I control what goes into my family's food, and that I save money by buying FRESH foods while they're in season.  I love that canning allows me to support our local farming community, and challenges me to think about how my family will use food over the coming seasons.

Thank you Auntie Bev for letting me watch you can applesauce all those years ago.  You probably don't even remember it.  I was probably a pain in the rear while I watched.  I imagine that I had about a hundred questions. I still remember it and love that you helped plant a seed of green in me at a young age.  I hope that my children will also learn to love preparing food for their family as they grow!

URGENT HOUSE NEED

And the list goes on...

It's been on our list for a while, we needed to do some work on the roof over our entryway, we had noted that the front wall was showing some signs of moisture... earlier in the week (I think it's been in the last week) - the ceiling in our entry started to leak when it rained.  Tonight, when we got home from our nephew's birthday party, we noticed a much larger leak than was there previously... tonight, as I lay in my recliner asleep, I heard the leak turn into a flow and then.. instantly... the ceiling collapsed.

Here I am, 3am, with a "clean" floor, a steadily dripping ceiling, and buckets lined up in front of the door.  YUCK.  This is not the way I ever pictured living.  I know, it just happens sometimes, but I don't like it.  Now the cash that had been reserved for the chimney (which has bricks falling off of the outside) will first have to go to fixing the entryway.  We knew we would need to fix it soon, but hadn't quite gotten there yet.

I can't decide if I'm glad or annoyed that I'll be away for a couple of days to take care of some medical appointments for Crackers.  I hate that Mr. Crum will have to deal with some of this on his own.

We need help in a big way and can't afford to hire someone.  Praying for help to rise up out of our community to take care of this need.

The front door needs replaced (the core is rusted out).  The front wall  has water damage on the left side and needs to be addressed.
The screen door needs to be replaced, the frame is warped and it won't close, it's an old nasty door anyway.  We also need to put on a "pointy" roof above the entryway.

This is the ceiling prior to Mr. Crum's clean up effort.

The ceiling in its current condition.
And the floor... Poor Monkey cried tonight when it was just dripping into one bucket... "I don't want rain my house".  So glad he's asleep and doesn't see/hear this!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Christmas preview...

The fabrics are cut for the Christmas Mermaid - now for some sewing.. and a second crown.

Oh, and then, of course - the Christmas Dinosaurs!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The best $3.34

The best $3.34 I spent today was the price of the gas I used to go with my family to the nearest Lowe's store.  It's true!  Have you heard of the Lowe's Build and Grow Clinics?  These are free, yes FREE.. that's right, no cost to you.. workshops put on by Lowe's stores approximately twice a month.  

Lowe's recommends these clinics for elementary aged children.  We started doing them with Monkey just before his 2nd birthday.  Sometimes he loves doing them, sometimes he loves watching daddy build things.  Crackers has just started working on projects too.  

HERE'S WHAT YOU GET:  Each participant gets a FREE APRON, GOGGLES, PROJECT, and BADGE.  Yep, all of that stuff is free for attending the clinic.  I watched one little boy today walk in with his little apron completely covered in badges and he had a safety pin clipped to it with at least a dozen more badges.  These kids are proud of their projects!

My boys love the time to build, they like the hammering, the friendly staff, and best of all, they are proud of their projects.  Today we made fire trucks with working sirens.  You better believe that my boys carried their trucks EVERYWHERE today.  (I made Cracker's truck with a bit of help from him - I didn't follow directions as well as I should have - so 3 of his wheels came off. - he doesn't care).


We had a fun family time and my boys felt like they accomplished something.  Monkey is learning how to "read" pictorial directions.  Crackers is learning how to bang things with a hammer - and also that hammers feel really good on your sore teeth.

Thank you Lowe's for making these family memories possible.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Baby update

Today I am 34 weeks, 1 day pregnant.

Baby Azariah's "official" due date has changed to 11/4/11.

Yesterday he was (according to the ultrasound) approximately 7lb 5 oz.

YIKES!  You read that right - 6 weeks to go and over 7 pounds!

My blood sugars have remained unstable throughout the pregnancy - I could speculate on why but it won't do anyone any good at this point.  I've gained 45 pounds (or more).  Right now I am uncomfortable a lot of the time and have semi-regular contractions when I do even a little bit of walking.

Baby Azariah appears to have some edema (swelling).  The doctor said that this can be related to issues with the  heart - heart troubles in infants are common among babies born to diabetics.  She is also concerned about the risk of strokes (due to Cracker's medical history).  

The doctor has informed us that if I go into labor at this point she will not stop it, in fact - she would be glad for that to happen sooner than later.  She would like to talk about scheduling a C-section.  I really would like to avoid a C-section.  I think that we will have to talk about it at our visit next Thursday though.  

She also let us know that she expects Azariah to spend some time in the NICU after he is born (due to the edema).  Blah.  I am not excited about the prospect of having a baby in the NICU.  I'm also not fond of the idea of a C-section.

Obviously, if that happens,  I will be taking a bit of a break from my "regular" work (babysitting, blogging, and church), so that I can be mommy to a sweet little boy.  It also means that we've got to figure out how we're going to care for Monkey and Crackers during the times that daddy has to work.  I know that they will be well cared for, just as Monkey was well cared for when Crackers was in the hospital for his first week.

Monkey is anxious about the baby - he knows the baby is coming "soon", and every time mommy goes ANYWHERE without him, he expects that I'll bring home baby Azariah.  He's pretty clingy a lot of the time right now.  Crackers is less stressed, he is also clingy right now though - I think that's more about his age and that he senses changes are coming.  They'll all do well as we prepare and transition into this next phase of our 5 person family.

Prayers for my health and the baby's are greatly appreciated.  Offers of help with child care or other help will be greatly appreciated when Azariah decides (or is scheduled) to appear.  I expect I'll keep updating friends and family through my blog and through Facebook over the next 6 weeks or so  as we step forward in this journey.

Naptime News

My sweet Monkey has always had a hard time relaxing, going to sleep is tough for him.  I've had all kinds of theories about "why".  The basic truth, however is that he just doesn't sleep well.

A while back I was puzzling over ideas for helping him at nap time.  Honestly, it's a lot easier for him to fall asleep mid-day than it is at night, but one thing at a time, right?  Most days I would sit or lay with him on his bed until he fell asleep.  Sometimes it would take an hour, sometimes much longer.

Recently we started napping together in my bed (I've got 2 young children and I'm pregnant - plenty of reason to be tired).  It was nice, but it's hard to get anything else done when you're napping with a 3 year old!

This week we finally got my recliner moved to our living room (this is a hugely important thing to me, as I sleep much better there when I'm pregnant).  Moving the recliner spawned a change in sleep time thinking.

So here it is, if I sit in the recliner, or at the table, and have Monkey lay on the loveseat (where we can still see each other) - maybe he'll sleep and I can do some other work.

Day 1 - Monkey was VERY resistant.  He did NOT want to sleep on the "couch".  He eventually fell asleep - on my bed - after wearing himself out throwing a fit about the loveseat.

Day 2 - Monkey did NOT want to take a nap.  Grandma was coming over and he was excited about that.  He argued, and then laid down with only a little prompting and put himself to sleep.

Day 3 (today) - Monkey went upstairs and got his pillow and leopard and snake and blankets.... with only a little prompting.  When he returned to the loveseat, he covered himself up and laid still.  He's not QUITE asleep yet, but he's being very still and trying to fall asleep.

This might be a good change!  In fact, it might help me a ton when baby arrives!

Now, bed time is a whole different story.. we'll get there... eventually.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

I currently have 4 giveaways on my blog, 2 ending Friday with low entries!  Don't forget to enter for these amazing mama & baby products!

Itzbeen Pocket Nanny has been added to the giveaway section and opened at midnight!  Enter right away so you don't forget!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mommy Lesson #8: Don't ask

Moral: Don't ask why...


Okay, I worked in a residential facility with abused young boys for several years.  One thing my boss told us again and again was this: DON'T ASK WHY.  His main reason?  It's nearly impossible to satisfactorily answer the question "why".  For instance, "Why did you hit Jimmy in the face?"  "Well.. see, he was looking at me mean..." Right, there's not a GOOD answer to the question "Why".

I know this, I promise.. I really do.

Tonight while we were at church one of the "pretty girls" came to tell me that Monkey had "an accident".  (We don't use that phrase at home, but that's okay, I knew what she meant - he had wet his pants).  I made my way slowly to the room where the kids were playing (I go everywhere slowly right now).  

Monkey was waiting for me in the bathroom with wet pants.  He wasn't anxious about this, he doesn't get in trouble for it - he's 3.. he's still learning and I figure if I don't make a real big deal about it, it won't be a behavior issue later (ie, I'm mad at you so I'm going to pee my pants in this public place to embarrass you).  This is a lesson I learned from a former foster son.

As I got down on the floor to change Monkey's pants, I asked him the unanswerable question...
"Why did you wet your pants?"
"Ummm... "
"Why did you go potty in your pants?"
"Pretty girl say I have to".

There you have it - my son wet his pants because the pretty girl (babysitter) said he had to do it.  LOL.  I am certain they did not tell him that... I've got to remind myself not to ask dumb questions!

Itzbeen Pocket Nanny: Review & Giveaway

Soon, very soon we'll be back into the world of baby-hood.  That means keeping track of feeding, sleeping, diapers, medicine and so forth.  I remember the world of baby from Monkey - it was a lot easier with just 1 baby than when I had Monkey and Crackers.. and 2 older foster sons.  There sure was a lot to keep track of for a tired, overwhelmed, recovering mama (especially with Cracker's special needs at the start).

This time around it will be different.  I only have 2 "big" boys to keep track of, not 3 - and these 2 have pretty easy schedules.  We will also have the Itzbeen Pocket Nanny to help keep track of baby's needs!  This handy little monitor is pretty easy to use.  I have to admit I was a little intimidated by it at first, but as I've practiced with it, I'm certain I will be able to keep track of Azariah's needs with confidence!

Itzbeen has a nightlight feature, so it will be easy to use, even for midnight feedings and changings!  It keeps track of how long baby has been wearing the same diaper, when he last ate, and how long he has been asleep!  There is also an "extra" button to track any other special needs (like medicine) that baby might have.

One of my favorite features (this seems silly) is that there is a clock right there on the front of the monitor.  I don't need to grab for a phone or hunt for the alarm clock to know what time it is in the middle of the night - why is it that we want to know the time whenever we get up in the night?

Another FANTASTIC feature for mamas that breastfeed (I'm planning on it), is the nursing tracker - a little switch at the bottom that helps you remember whether you last nursed on the left or right side!

Each timer can also be used as an alarm, so if I need to feed baby every 3 hours, or remind the babysitter to change him, I can set it and let my mind be at ease!

USE WITH BIG KIDS - as I mentioned, there are multiple buttons for keeping track of baby's needs.  We've been practicing with Crackers - It helps me to remember to put him on the potty regularly.  Yep, I want this little guy to use the toilet - even better is that he really wants to use it.  The Itzbeen has been a fantastic tool for helping us with this.

As I already stated, it can track medicines, this is great even with big kids that are ill or have medical conditions that require medication multiple times a day.

PRICE - I think Itzbeen is well-priced at $24.99 for one monitor or $48.99 for 2!  The freedom it gives me to remember other times and dates in my busy head is will worth the small amount of cash for the little device!

GIVEAWAY - OPENING AT MIDNIGHT 9/21/11... COME BACK SOON!
 Itzbeen has offered to give one of my lucky readers a timer of their own!  This contest is restricted to US and Canada and will end on Friday, September 30 at midnight.


Wordless Wednesday: Sneak Preview


ANY GUESSES?

On the ball

Oi, I have not been on the ball lately.  I am not the cute, jolly pregnant lady I remember being before and I can't figure out where those ladies come from!  Mr. Crum says that I was that person when i was pregnant with Monkey, and still some with Crackers - but this time, wow - I just hurt and am tired.

I'm not sharing this because I want a pity party - if I wanted that I'd tell you all sorts of other things ;p

I'm struggling right now to keep up with the house work, and the blog, well it's fallen behind the housework, so I'm off schedule.  I have several fantastic reviews and giveaways to share with my readers, as well as some fun pictures and stories.  I just need to get to it.  Hopefully I can catch up with a few of the house details this week and get back on the ball with blogging.

Actually, truthfully, I'll probably try and catch up with a couple of late posts today .. because my back is super super achy and I don't want to be bending and lifting and cleaning!

33weeks, 5 days today.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My newest silly fear/question

Okay, so this is my third pregnancy ... still I have silly fears.

I have never (so far) had my belly button pop out... I think it's close though.  I think my belly button is going to pop out this time and that makes me anxious.  How dumb is that?  I mean really...

So my question?  Does it hurt? Does it feel weird?  What's that like?  When will it go back to "normal"?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Apple Orchard Visit!

Tonight we were blessed - we had a picnic with several families from church and then had a fantastic visit to the local orchard for U-pick apples!  I can't wait to make apple pie, apple crisp, and applesauce.  We brought home 39 pounds of apples, and ate a pound or two while we were there.  We had the opportunity to share our evening with 40 other amazing people.  What a night.

Next month?  Pumpkin Patch!



GUEST POST: Kathleen Thomas - Caring, Sharing, and Cooperation.

Kathleen is a Communications Coordinator for the Atlanta day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.




A Lesson in Caring, Sharing and Cooperation for You & Your Child

Cooperation is not a skill babies are born with. It takes learning and experiences in a child's life to pick up the caring, sharing and cooperation skills they are going to need as they grow older.  Most of these skills are picked up from caregivers, parents, and older siblings.  Somewhere around age three (right around preschool), children start to practice genuine cooperation during play by sharing and taking turns.

Learning to share and collaborate with other individuals is how little ones grow the skills needed to work with other people.  It is important children learn these skills early in life so they become part of their nature and exhibit those skills regularly.  Developing the caring and sharing attitude will improve your child's ability to nurture and grow well rounded relationships with others throughout life.  

You are your child’s most important role model. Modeling the type of caring and sharing behavior you expect out of them will go a long way.  Talk to your child about lending a helping hand and show how you and other family members, each do your own parts around the house and with specific tasks.

Show your child the fun in working together with other people to achieve a certain goal.  Coming up with family projects, wehre everyone plays a role, is a great way to show teamwork and cooperation.  It's a fantastic opportunity to show that everyone plays an important part.  Examples include making a shopping list, planning a family trip or making a family collage.

Cooking is a perfect time to discover cooperation seeing that little ones can actively assist by collecting ingredients, measuring, combining, dishing out and eating.  Most children love the idea of helping a parent with a task that, ordinarily, only a grown-up does.  Working together with your child to create a meal or special treat will surely open up communication to talk about the cooperation and sharing of ideas and responsibility that was involved in the task.

Present the idea of cooperation by reading books featuring characters that exhibit sharing.  There are many books available with extraordinary examples of sharing in them.  Ask your child to tell you how they would react if a person needed their cooperation on a task.  Talk about what takes place at the conclusion of the narrative.

Listen to a short musical composition and discuss how the members of the chorus, band or orchestra operated together to produce a divine sound.  It's an easy task to pull together a basic set, and the way little ones react to music is magical.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh what a night!

First of all, I must thank Mr. Crum for bringing home a Milky Way bar - he is amazing.

Now, to my post....

Do you ever have one of those days, or nights in this case, where things just don't go as planned?

It was SO one of those nights for me.  

Here was the plan:
4:00 - Shower
4:30 - Make Dinner
7:00 - Church
9:00 - Put the kids to bed, do dishes & laundry
10:00 - Relax until Mr. Crum comes home from his Man Group

Sounds fairly simple and straight forward, right?

Well... Here's what happened:

4:00 - Mr. Crum came home (half an hour later than normal), we sat on the front porch while the boys played, Mr. Crum talked to his dad on the phone
4:30 - Shower.  Okay - so here's more personal information you don't want to know - I've now gained 45 pounds during this pregnancy - my underwear don't fit right... they hurt.. I whined and begged Mr. Crum to go buy some new ones "real quick" before church.  He did, he's amazing.  (he also bought that Milky Way bar).
5:30 - Mr. Crum gets home, I've got the boys dressed but am waiting on my new "merchandise" so I can finish getting ready to go.  We quickly finish getting ready and load everyone into the van
6:00 - right, see - we haven't had dinner yet.  We stop at Chipotle for dinner, Monkey is in heaven, he LOVES their kids meals - I love that my boys eat healthy when we go there.  Good food, good fun.
6:45 - Arrive at church, great class time.
8:50 - Leave church with very tired boys hoping they fall asleep on the way home (they don't).
9:15 - Put the boys in bed, Crackers screams, Monkey whines, Mr. Crum goes in search of the Allen Wrench because Crackers has been working the side of his crib loose.
9:30 - I need to empty myself, while I sit by the window in the bathroom (yep, our pot is by the window, I wrote about that earlier) I hear a cat outside.  It sounds like Farlow - our 14 year old cat that disappeared almost 2 weeks ago - I go outside and look around - I find a skinny version of Farlow.. well, it's actually him, bring him inside and give him food and some love.
9:45 - Crackers is still screaming, I try rocking him, giving him tylenol, singing, reading, giving him water... no avail, no idea what's wrong either - but he has started grabbing at his feet. Strange.  Monkey can't sleep because he's excited about the cat, and also his brother is screaming and he's concerned about what's wrong.
10:00 - I'm supposed to be relaxing now.  It's not happening.  I try giving Crackers some cereal, it doesn't help for long.  He's back to screaming and definitely in pain.
10:30 - Mr. Crum gets Monkey settled into our bed, Crackers is on my back in a carrier, I start to work on dishes.  Monkey gets excited about the cat too now, "Kitty Cat, Meow"
10:45 - Mr. Crum takes over dishes (thank you)! I sit down and hold Crackers tight, rocking and singing while he screams at me for the next 20 minutes.
11:07 - Crackers is silent, he's finally asleep.  I'm afraid to put him down.  Eventually I scoot him onto the love seat next to me.

11:52 - yep, that's right now - Crackers is sleeping on the love seat, Monkey is in my bed, Mr. Crum has done laundry and dishes, he's taken out the trash and now he's relaxing, watching a funny video online... I'm terrified that if I move Crackers, he'll wake up - and if I don't, he'll roll off the love seat.

Good night~

You probably don't want to know this

BUT...
Our bathroom has a window, right next to the toilet.  It's at about chest level for adults.  This means that when I'm sitting on the pot, trying to do well.. anything I do on the toilet... I can look outside and see the NIPSCO man who is walking by to read the gas meter.  Or the neighbor kids running between houses.... today it's the man that owns the house next door.  He's working on replacing some of their windows - I don't really WANT to be friendly with these people while I'm trying to use the restroom...

We do have a blind on our bathroom window, and a fan in the lower part of the window.. I don't think anyone can see me if they're looking over here.. but.. oi - we need a new solution to this bathroom window thing!

Aren't you glad you read that post?

Wordless Wednesday: Best Summer Purchase





Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bedtime Blues

Ugh, Monkey won't sleep tonight.

Here's a conversation from a little while ago:

Daddy (hollaring upstairs):  What are you doing?
Monkey: I'm wet.
Daddy (opening stairs door): You know how to go potty, use the potty.  You just have to ask.
Monkey: Can I ask?
Daddy: Yes.
Monkey: May I go potty?

oi!

Swaddlekinz: Review & Giveaway

Did you know I'm pregnant?  If you don't know that, you haven't been reading my blog very long.  Since I'm pregnant, I'm always on the lookout for great baby products to share with my readers.

Recently I learned about Swaddlekinz blankets.  These are amazing and I can't wait to use the "brightest orange, light green circles" blanket on baby Azariah.

Why am I so excited about this particular blanket?

NURSING
I have never used a "nursing cover" with my boys - I've always just used a blanket.  In fact, I've used "Nana's Magic Blanket" - this is a thick fleece blanket that all of my mom's grandkids get when their born.  It's fantastically soft and lovable.. but in the spring and summer it gets HOT!  Swaddlekinz blankets are light weight because they're made of muslin, which is very breathable.  This blanket will be PERFECT for spring and summer nursing!

SWADDLING
Crackers loved to be swaddled.  He went to sleep with just swaddling and a pacifier until he was about 9 months old.  He's a January baby, so that means that all summer last year, he was swaddled.  We used a double thick flannel blanket that had been specially made for him.  It was great in the colder months, but when we went on vacation to North Carolina in June, it was miserable.  My poor baby HAD to be swaddled in this thick flannel blanket in order to sleep and it was 80+ degrees outside.  Yuck!
Again, muslin is breathable and will be much more comfortable for baby in the summer months.  I plan to swaddle Azariah as well.  The size of this blanket is perfect for swaddling any baby - it will be easy to fold when he's newborn, and if he still wants to be swaddled when he's 2, it should work.  (I tried it on 20 month old Crackers - he got really mad, but it worked).

SNUGGLING
Monkey chose the teal stripes, Crackers has the purple stripes
Truthfully, my boys love blankets, especially soft ones.  The day Azariah's blanket arrived, Monkey came downstairs, saw the blanket, and curled up next to me on the couch, snuggling the blanket.  Muslin is a material that gets softer the more it's washed - I tested this by washing 1 multiple times, another 2 times, and a third not at all.  They feel so nice on the skin that it's hard to resist snuggling in the Swaddlekinz blanket.

CAR RIDES
My boys like comfort objects, they're just at the ages where they become attached to certain things.  Their Swaddlekinz blankets have become especially dear to them in the car - we have to keep them with us and they are very particular about which blanket belongs to which boy.  They're not super thick, so I don't have to worry about the boys overheating, but on days (like today) when preggo mama has to turn up the air conditioning and they complain about being cold - they can cover up and keep some warmth!

Monkey is playing "turtle", Crackers is wrestling
IMAGINATION
Oh my goodness - Monkey is full of imagination right now and Crackers follows right along with his imaginary games.  It is so much fun and the Swaddlekinz blankets have sparked a HOST of games and fun imaginary play.  A few of our great fun uses have included playing "turtle" - a game Monkey learned from his 6 year old cousin Little Lout over the summer.  Crackers thinks that "turtle" is a great excuse for wrestling.
Flying
Swaddlekinz make AMAZING capes for flying off of just about anything.  Monkey loves to fly (that's good since he loves to climb, right?)

OTHER USES
These make great forts and tablecloths, changing pads, and play mats.  Swaddlekinz truly grow with your children.  


SPECIAL BENEFIT
During the month of September, Swaddlekinz is donating $2 from every single blanket sold, and $5 from every 3 pack to CURE Childhood Cancer Foundation.  
They will also be participating in the blogger raffle to benefit CURE Childhood Cancer Foundation's cause.  Tickets for the raffle are only $10 each and 2 sets of Swaddlekinz will be included in the giveaway.

BUY NOW
Don't hesitate to buy these fantastic muslin blankets right now for your next baby, or your next baby shower.  I am certain that you know someone who would benefit from a Swaddlekinz blanket or blanket set.  Single blankets are $12 and 3 packs are only $30!

WIN THEM HERE
The generous folks at Swaddlekinz have offered to send a 3 pack of blankets to one of my readers!  This giveaway will be open to readers in the US and Canada.  The winning entry will be chosen at random on Monday, September 26 12:01 AM.

Chuck E Cheese: Review

Do you remember visiting Show Biz or Chuck E Cheese as a kid?  I have great memories from visiting those places with my Nonnie (grandma).  I remember large, singing, robotic puppets on multiple stages, lots of kids running everywhere, tokens, video games, tickets, cheap-o prizes, pizza, and pitchers of soda.

I loved visiting these "fine dining" establishments as a kid.  As I think back on those memories now, however - I cringe - I can't imagine WANTING to take my kids to a noisy, greasy, environment to play games and win trashy prizes.  Monkey is 3, Crackers is 20 months now - they're kind of young for this type of fun anyhow, right?

WELL - Tonight we had the opportunity to visit our local Chuck E Cheese in Fort Wayne, IN.  We were treated with a family pass, that includes a large pizza, 4 drinks, and 30 tokens.  As much as I hate to admit it, I was actually pretty excited about visiting and checking this out again.  It was nice to remember those many visits with my grandma.  It was also nice to have so many of my pre-conceptions about what I would find, changed.

SAFETY - was the first thing we noticed as we entered.  We learned that every family gets "stamped" as they come in.  The greeter puts an ultra-violet stamp on each party member's arm, each party gets their own number.  This "secret" number is checked by the greeter when the family leaves, to make sure that no one is leaving with children that they did not come with (I'm not sure how they were certain we didn't leave any children behind though).

CLEANLINESS - was also obviously a high value at the Chuck E Cheese in Fort Wayne.  While we were there, we saw a number of employees roaming the floor and keeping things cleaned.  They cleaned tables, floors, bathrooms, etc.  I did make sure we stopped in to the bathroom to check it out (a review is a good excuse for a pregnant mama with a pre-schooler, right).  The bathroom was moderately clean, there had just been a large group of young elementary aged children racing through it, so I would not expect perfection.

SERVICE - while we sat at our table waiting on pizza, then eating our meal, several employees stopped to make sure that we had been served and see if we needed anything.  They brought out spare plates and a flyer about birthday parties "with pleasure".  We received the type of pleasant greetings that we expect to find at one of the local fast food joints.  The response whenever we thanked someone was, "my pleasure".  (I love that response - it reminds me of when I lived in Costa Rica.... that's another story).

Most of the salad bar
He doesn't LOOK excited, but he could hardly wait to dig in.
FOOD - the food is moderately priced.  It is more expensive than a "regular" fast food restaurant, but not incredibly over priced.  It took 12 minutes from ordering to receiving our food, that's not too bad!  The salad bar (at our local Chuck E Cheese) is only $6.49 for unlimited use.  It looks like a fantastic salad bar, I think I would have preferred it over pizza - but I'm a salad lover.  The pizza was decent, they have a new recipe with more cheese and a different sauce.  I can't say that I really remember the old pizza and have little to compare it with.  It was pretty well covered with toppings, however for some reason there only appeared to be peppers and onions on half of the pizza.  There is a great variety of options for drinks, and free refills.
- another note - Monkey is not always fond of pizza, he's REALLY picky about what he'll eat on it, temperatures, and textures... he ate 2.5 pieces by himself and only quit because he wanted to play.
Monkey on "TV"
STAGE - remember that stage I talked about, the one with the giant robotic puppets.  I loved the shows and music.  There are 3 stages at the local Chuck E Cheese.  Left to right they look like this:  The Studio - a blue wall with a video camera, where children can stand, dance, etc and be "on television" while their adults watch in amusement.  The video screen/control area - they played a couple of videos, veggie tales and something else I didn't recognize, the control area let you see different video clips and even "spy" on people in the main seating area.  Finally on the right hand side, was Chuck E Cheese - the large robotic mouse puppet.  He seemed to be more of a DJ than anything, but the kids were still enamored with him.  
The show
BALL PIT - got you there, do you remember when they used to have those?  I loved the ball pit... unfortunately, I don't think you can find them at any Chuck E Cheese anymore.

GAMES/ENTERTAINMENT - I was SO wrong about Chuck E Cheese not being "little kid" friendly.  There was a whole area of rides and a big climber that my kids loved.  There is still plenty of activity for "big kids" too.  Mr. Crum and I even played some games to earn "tickets" for prizes.  The boys loved trying to help us play games like ski ball and operation.  There was plenty to do and we all had a fun time exploring our options.  All the games (as far as I could tell) were only one token - approx. 25c each (cheaper if you buy them in higher quantities).  

PRICES - As I've stated, the food prices at Chuck E Cheese are moderate - higher than McDonalds, but not incredibly expensive.  We got their Super Combo Pizza (which has 7 toppings), I believe a large was about $20.  Drinks were $1.50-$2 a piece.  To get our meal as a package (with 60 tokens) would run about $36.   Sandwiches are around $6.50, and salad bar is the same.  Chuck E Cheese also regularly offers coupons for the family!  
Selecting Souveneirs
SOUVENEIRS - Remember those cheapo little prizes?  They're still kind of cheap, but my 3 year old thinks that his crazy straw, spinning top, and plastic bug are the best things in the world.  My favorite souveneirs are the ones that we found in the "games" for a token each - photos of the boys on a ride, pictures of us "sketched", and "licenses" with my boy's pictures.  If you spend a lot of money or are REALLY good at games (3 year olds are not helpful at ticket winning games), you can get some other pretty neat stuff too.

PARTIES - Chuck E Cheese offers party packages for your little star - These birthday packages vary in what they contain and flyers can be picked up at your local Chuck E Cheese.  Packages appear to range between $12 and 16 per child, depending on your preferences.  Additional services can be added for an additional cost.  "New packages include a longer reservation time, as well as several new items for the birthday star. Plus, the special boy or girl has the opportunity to step into the Ticket Blaster and grab as many ticket vouchers as they can to redeem for awesome prizes!" says Chuck E Cheese.

OVERALL IMPRESSION
My Nonnie was crazy.  She loved her grandkids though and knew that we had a great time when we went to Show Biz and Chuck E Cheese, we had a great time.  I was impressed at the quality of service and the selection of entertainment, as well as the safety measures and cleanliness of our local Chuck E Cheese.  In our current situation, prices would be prohibitive for us to make this a "regular" event, but I do think it's something we may set aside for special occasions with our family as the boys grow.  
I also think it would be a fun date night with Mr. Crum - I'd love to go and have sandwiches or salads, and play games together.  It's kind of silly, but different from our "usual" date night (appetizers, coffee, and a movie at home).

Mixbook Photo Cards: Review



I recently had the opportunity to try Mixbook photo thank you cards.  I chose to use the "Tailored Dots Thank You Cards".  These can be found under the section, "birthday party thank you's".   The simple design of these cards was easy to customize.  Mixbook's editor was simple to use and the options were plentiful.  I chose to convert my cards from a "Thank you" to a general use card for our family, simply by changing the words.

These cards are high quality printing and I had a selection between matte and glossy finish.  For our purposes, I chose glossy cards.  5x7 cards start at the low price of $.49 each.  What an incredible deal for the ability to personalize your cards!

The service was super fast - I ordered my cards and they arrived only 4 days later!


One thing I wish I had realized is that the photo card is simply that, a card - it does not open up, it has a front and a back like a post card.  If I had realized that, I would have made space on the back of my cards for writing, instead of having a dark background on my entire card.

I will absolutely consider using Mixbook to print announcements when baby Crum comes, or for personal Christmas cards.



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Anxiety

Yep, 12:15 AM.  I'm still awake.  I'm anxious.  Today (at 8:30am) I am meeting OB #3 for this pregnancy.  The first one was fantastic, but a specialist, so we had to change to a "regular" OB when our insurance changed... The second one, let's just say we got off on the wrong foot.  Visiting her office gave me extremely high anxiety.  Tomorrow (er, today) I meet our final OB.  I've heard good things about this lady from some friends and am hopeful that this will be a better match.

My "secret" hopes:  that she'll tell me I need to work less (but not stop work at the church), and that she'll plan to induce baby 3 in about a month.

Ah, we'll see... soon.  For now, I need to convince my body to rest - it's going to be a very busy day!

Monday, September 12, 2011

So tired

Have you ever felt this tired.....


Hazelaid: Review & Giveaway (includes discount code)

The first thing you need to know is this: I'm a skeptic.  I hesitated about trying amber necklaces, because I was sure their usefulness was crazy hippie talk.  Then I tried one on my toddler, and was amazed at how well it worked.

The second thing you need to know is this: I'm pregnant - very pregnant.  I have lots of heartburn, as well as other aches and pains that go along with being pregnant.

Now - If you have heard or read about Hazelwood necklaces, you may know that they are supposed to help clear up problems with eczema, indigestion (such as heartburn), and other acid related problems.  The truth?  I did not believe that a hazelwood necklace would make a difference in my comfort while I am pregnant.

I was wrong.  The first week I had the necklace, I wore it around my neck (because that's where most people wear necklaces).  My heartburn got CRAZY BAD.  I mean, really really bad - I couldn't believe how much worse it was.  I wasn't sure whether to attribute it to the necklace, or being increasingly pregnant.
Don't you wish I'd painted my toenails?  I do, but I'm not sure I can reach them!

So, I wrote to Hazelaid.  The friendly folks there said they had recently talked with one other person that had similair problems, and suggested trying it on my ankle.  It seems that the hazelwood was drawing the acids up and causing the increased irritation.  Now I have been wearing it on my ankle for 2 weeks and have noticed an amazing DECREASE in heartburn.  I wanted to chalk it up to my body regulating itself better - until the day I forgot to put it on and noticed a flare up of heartburn.

It works for me.  Hazelwood makes a huge difference in my heartburn!

About Hazelaid
Service - "with a smile".  Well, I don't know if they were smiling, but they have certainly been friendly and helpful as I've worked with them.  Initially some of the things I ordered were out of stock, they were very good about communicating and offering other choices, they let me know as soon as the item was available and shipped right away.

Selection
I love the great selection of Amber and Hazelwood necklaces that Hazelaid offers.  They offer child and adult sizes in most of their products.  (I really loved the coffee colored amber necklace - and got one for baby Crum, but there is not one in my size - bummer).

Price  
Hazelaid's prices appear to be very competitive.  The best thing about their prices?  They frequently offer discounts through their Facebook page!  Children's amber bracelets starting at $10.95!

Overall Impression
Hazelaid offers quality products at fair prices.  They are excellent at serving their customers and stand behind their products.  I highly recommend their products to any parent with young children, or any adult experiencing chronic muscle pains, or indigestion, or eczema...
Even if amber and hazelwood do not work for your conditions, you end up with an inexpensive, stylish piece of jewelry for yourself or your loved one!

Wanna shop? Here's an exclusive discount promo code for 10% off your order!  Use the following code just below the zip code/postal code box in your shopping cart: CRUM10

Belevation: Review & Giveaway

I am pregnant and I have a big belly
That is my confession for the night.  
2 months to go, does this belly scare anyone else?
Did you know that it hurts to have a big belly?  I'm about 31 weeks right now and I've already gained about 35 pounds.  I feel huge.  My great aunt asked the other day if I was having twins.  I'm not.

I'm not small anyway, so when you take a body that's already overweight, and add 35+ pounds.. yikes!  I often am short of breath, sore in my belly muscles, achy in my back, my legs hurt, etc.  Basically, I feel pregnant.

I have never used maternity "support" before, it hasn't really been necessary with my other pregnancies.  This time though, I've noticed a need for some extra support.  I have had the privledge to try a belly band by Belevation.
I feel fully supported and ready to conquer the world - too bad it's almost bed time.
I LOVE using this support.  The belly band by Belevation makes me feel secure even when I am wearing loose fitting clothes, like shorts.  My abdomen does not feel nearly as sore at the end of the day when I've worn the belly support as it does on days that I go without.  I think one reason this band is so comfortable is that it supports me from below my belly to the top of my belly.  I feel supported in my front and my back! 

Belevation's maternity supports are seamless, so they don't leave marks or sore areas due to rubbing.  They come in 3 colors and in multiple sizes.  Even with my heavier body, I fit comfortably in the belly support.  
My butt looks huge.. the point here is that my back is fully supported as well as my belly.
I have to admit, I did consider maternity supports when I was about 7 months pregnant with Crackers, I looked at the prices, however, and turned away.  They were way too expensive for me to seriously consider at that point.  Belevation's belly bands are not as expensive as the ones I found 2 years ago, in fact the prices start at only $18 each.