Saturday, May 31, 2008

digital scrapping, part 2

First, some good news:  My Mom and Step-Dad watched Sydney today with NO CRYING (on neither their part nor Sydney's!).  WOO HOO!  Mom, if you are reading this:  You are in charge of all future baby-sitting! Lucky YOU! :)

As much as I love to be loved by this little girl, I'm happy that there is hope that I won't be her prom date.

OK, now time to get back to digital scrapping...

Remember those element freebies I mentioned before that you can find on the web?  Well, I'll route you to some of my fav links.  Some of these links offer freebies and/or items for sale.  

When using these digital elements, be sure to read the TOU (terms of usage) that comes with each download.  Most are for personal-use only (so scrappin' is just fine).  But some require credits (and rightfully so) for any work showcased online.  Additionally, many items are not eligible for use in a product that you plan to sell - those that are ok for this purpose are tagged as "commercial use ok". 
Now, there are tons more blogs and sites out there - below are just some of my favorites.  Beware, one click on a link below may suck you into hours of browsing all the cool stuff out there!

My FAV site!  A "search engine" of sorts to find digital freebies available for download!  Feel free to make a donation to help the woman who runs it make up for all her time she spends searching for freebies!  Here's an example of a freebie DigiFree pointed me to.  It's by Sarah's Scraps.

More freebies found for you!

A relatively new blog showing you all sorts of freebies out there!  She has found some cute stuff!

I LOVE this designer.  She has an ABC series she's in the middle of doing right now where she is going through every letter of the alphabet and creating cool elements and pages based on that letter in varying styles.  When each new product comes out it's free on the main page of her blog and once it drops off it is still available for sale.  Here is an example of her creations as part of the letter C.  The template is a scrapbook page layout template & is used to drop & drag pictures on to.
Not a lot of freebies here, but high-quality downloads are available at reasonable prices.  Commercial products and commercial licenses available for sale too - which is why I personally like this site.  I do not recommend the grab bag, though I've only tried one.

Every Monday they have a freebie to download.  Also helpful on this site are the tutorials.  Check out the galleries to get ideas or to show off your own work!

Several high-quality freebies here.  The site does not appear to be updated with "new" things very often but if you are a first time visitor you will find many treats for you.

Looking for a place to talk to other people about scrapping & get some ideas?  This is the place to go.  I've found their Directory very useful in helping me track down digital scrapping resources.

Tips for Macintosh Digital Scrappers (yours truly!)

Once you start downloading freebies you may quickly become overwhelmed with all of your images.  You'll hear from me soon regarding ideas for organizing all of your downloads.


Friday, May 30, 2008

no corporate world for this baby!

We interrupt this digital scrapping series to bring you an important message:  Never bring a baby to an office.  Ever.

oh my god.  What an afternoon I had.  I went to pick up my laptop at my contracting company and decided to bring Sydney (my 5 mo old) with me because I had thought it would be a quick visit, it was a Friday afternoon, and I had previous requests to bring her by for people to meet her.  big mistake.  BIG mistake.

I knew we were in trouble the moment I got to the parking lot as she started to cry.  So we get inside and the person I'm meeting is on the phone.  Sydney is losing her patience.  Meanwhile one of my favorite colleagues (& a big wig with the company) spots Syd and wants to hold her.  I let her but tell her that I'm not sure it's going to go well.  Did I tell you that Sydney is the world's biggest mommy's girl and daddy's girl EVER?  I thought separation anxiety is supposed to start at like 9 mo?  Well, it kicked in for this girl at 4 mo.  And it never fails, whenever I react with hesitation for people to hold her (only because I know dang well we are about to see some serious tears) I get some sort of comment about how she'll be fine and then no more than 2 minutes later they are returning a screaming baby to me.  *sigh*  My own best friend said, "Oh Tricia, it can't be that bad."  I told her she could give it a try then and within 5 minutes my friend said, "Yeah, I don't know what you are going to do.  Good luck with that."  I continue to let people try though (with me close at hand) because I'm certain that keeping her all to myself will only perpetuate things.

So, there I was, at work, with a screaming baby.  I could feel sweat beads on my forehead while I tried my darndest to listen to the info they needed to pass along to me and keep my cool at the same time.  I felt like I was shoving pacifiers in Syd's mouth left & right (poor girl!).  I looked like a complete side-show... Syd keeps spitting out her paci to the floor and as I'm reaching down to get it things start falling out of my bag.  Oh, and did I mention I had spit-up on my shirt?  So much for professionalism.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my baby girl and I LOVE when people meet her.  But I learned one thing for sure today: I will never ever bring a baby to an office again.  I don't care how busy I am, and I don't care who wants to see her, it's not going to happen.  I just don't handle things well when my separate worlds collide like that.

Luckily my colleagues were cool about it - at least they pretended to be anyway.  And since it was a Friday afternoon and so many people were out sick the office was pretty dead.  Thankfully.  Should a colleague ever stumble on this little blog... apologies for taking over your office today.  Hopefully you didn't have any explaining to do to any clients.

Sydney, on the other hand, was not cool about it.  She was a mess the rest of the night.  I swear every time a stranger looked at her she gave a look like "don't you dare pick me up!".  Poor thing!  I just sincerely hope that this stage will not prevent other people from bonding with her.  I'm SO not used to this because our son is extremely independent and such a social butterfly.  But when Syd is just with us, our little fam of 4 (5 with the dog), she is SUCH a sweet, fun, HAPPY and SMILEY baby.  I feel like we have a completely different baby behind closed doors.

So, wish me luck as Sydney will need to have childcare very soon.  How on Earth will we do it?  Thankfully my job does not require a lot of hours and is quite flexible in terms of when I complete them.  So I may need to help our sitter (who has not been hired yet!  Ahhh!  So much to do!) a bit until Sydney gets accustomed to her.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

digital scrapping, part 1

I've been sucked into the vortex that is digital scrapping!  I've spent a lot of time finding some great resources so I thought I'd share what I've found thus far.  But there is so much great info out there in web-land that I couldn't possibly share it all in one post.  Today I'll focus on what Digital Scrapping is and share nitty-gritty details as I create subsequent posts.  I'm still a beginner though so if you have any great tips please share as well!

So, what do I mean by digital scrapping? When scrapping digitally, embellishments such as ribbons, buttons, and brads are now digital images that can be dragged and dropped wherever you want them on your digital layout.  You can create a beautiful end product that can look like the "real thing".  It offers a mess-free solution that is often less expensive, more flexible, and environmentally friendly!  Check this out for more on the benefits of Digital Scrapping.

To be truthful, I'm not totally into scrap-booking in general. I'm way too lazy to create a fancy page for every picture I have. But since I'm sort of a gadget-geek and have a love of all-things-tech, digital scrapping is much more appealing to me than traditional scrapping. Yet, still I'm too lazy to digital scrapbook all my pics.  My plan is to create a yearly photo-book filled with a few pages I've designed myself showcasing my favorite pics and then use a photo-book creation product such as the one Shutterfly has to quickly display the remaining pictures.  Shutterfly allows you to include both pages designed by you (specs and templates are available to help ensure you are using the right dimensions) and those stemming from Shutterfly templates (more on printing and pricing later).

So, how do you make your own digital scrapbook page?  Well, check out Digital Scrapbooking 101 for a good overview.  I personally use a combination of a layout program (iScrapbook for Macintosh and in the past I've used Scrapbook Factory for the PC) and a photo editing program like Photoshop Elements.  Many other great programs exist, these are just the ones I have experience with.

Photo editing programs like Photoshop offer the most design flexibility and a way to actually create digital elements.  But again, I'm lazy, & cheap, so I enjoy using a more user-friendly and lower learning-curve program like iScrapbook to complete my actual layout in conjunction with a less expensive version of Photoshop (Elements) for some photo & element editing along the way.  Programs like iScrapbook also come included with some digital elements and page templates so that you don't have to start from scratch.  Personally, I often find the included elements "cheesy".  iScrapbook actually does have some good embellishments but I've seen some other packages that have a "90s clip art-esque" look to them.  Don't worry though, there are PLENTY of really cool elements available on the internet (& FREE!) that can be imported into programs like Photoshop or iScrapbook. 

Here are some samples of things I've created digitally recently.

A 12x12 photo-book page below of baby girl!  I used a template available in my iScrapbook software and simply dragged my pictures onto it!  Super easy!   

The following 12x12 page I designed myself using my iScrapbook software and elements I downloaded for free from the "run elements kit" (sorry, the kit now costs - $1.99) at

And what I love best about digital scrapping...  I can use digital software and elements to create frame-able layouts, invitations, cards, and announcements - all of which can be printed online or at a photo lab.  

I created this 5x7 using my iScrapbook software and I incorporated free elements (now priced at $1) from the "Sorbet Bliss" collection at Divine Digital.  

I designed this 5x7 invitation using my iScrapbook software.  I purchased the bow from lbcreations.  It can be colored to any color and it came with terms of usage (TOU) that allows for commercial-use should I choose to sell some of my invites.

So, if all of that overwhelms you I do have some good news... since digital scrapbook elements are usually .jpg image files, they can even be used in programs like MS Word as a modern-day "clip-art" for a brochure or simple invitation you may be creating.

More later on where to find digital elements online (& for free!), how to organize your elements, and where to print your end-products!  Please share your ideas too as I'm learning as I go!  Thanks to any of you who have already helped me along the way!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

gettin' old

We went to a H.S. graduation party on Sunday.  But get this:  for the 3 year old boy I used to nanny for.  Where did time go?  Why is he taller than me?  A LOT taller than me.  I have this problem where I think anyone younger than me should be shorter than me.  This really is a strange way for me to think given the fact that I'm only 5'3" (DH insists I'm actually 5'2") and really just about everyone over the age of 12 is taller than me.  *sigh*

I was a nanny for his 2 older sisters too - one now on her way to med school and the other with a budding career in the music biz.  She released her first album last year and is on her way to creating a second.  She's really good - great voice, meaningful lyrics, soulful - the perfect combination.  Check Alison Scott out at

Here's Alison at I believe her CD Release Party:

Hey!  The pictures feature is now working for me.  Which means no more excuses to get you the start of my digital scrapping posts.  I have a ton of what I think are great resources to share with you so it will be a short series of posts.  But, for now, time for this old lady to get to bed.

finally! good customer service!

Well, I had high hopes of publishing my first post about digital scrapping but I'm having trouble attaching my files (they keep showing up at the top of my posts).  So, while I buy some time I'd like to rave about the company Summer Infant.  I have their hand-held day & night color baby monitor (pictured above, since I can't get this freakin' post to put my pictures in the right spot mid-post).  I just L-O-V-E this monitor.  It's truly a "Top 10 Must" in my book!  But more on that later.  

Anyway, I had to call Summer Infant today to inquire about replacing one of our cameras.  I have two video cameras (one for each child - both transmit sound/video signals to the same hand-held monitor) and the one in baby girl's room suddenly produced a large amount of static and really was no longer use-able from a sound perspective.  I searched high and low for my receipt and could not find one anywhere (which is so unlike me since I still have receipts filed away from years ago!).  I called Summer Infant assuming they would not be able to help me because of either the fact that I didn't have a receipt or because any warranty they might offer I had expected to be expired by now.  I'm happy to report that I was proven wrong.  The Customer Service Rep simply asked for an ID number on the back of the camera and confirmed it was still within warranty (FWIW they offer a year full warranty and 50% discount on a replacement product post-warranty).  My information was already on file from my purchase and they are sending me a fed-ex return label.  Upon receipt of my faulty camera they will send me a replacement free of charge.  THANK YOU SUMMER INFANT.  It's so nice to have experiences like that with no hassle.

So, back to making my Top 10... I know it sounds crazy that I consider a video camera a "Top 10 Must".  I mean, do I really *need* a video camera?  No.  But absolutely, definitely, positively it is my fav baby gadget.  I got it when my son was about 14 mo. old and I wish I had it from the beginning!  It allows me to see if he's sleeping without walking in the room and inadvertently waking him!  I've learned all sorts of funny things about what my little guy does once doors are closed.  And best of all, now that he's in a big boy bed it allows me to see if he's getting out of bed and into mischief.

The monitor has 2 channels so I can switch back and forth between my son and daughter's room.  The only problem is that you can't have the sound/video displayed from both rooms at the same time.  So before I go to bed I have to choose which room I want on.  Luckily the kids are right next door to each other so if I have the sound/video on from my sons room I'll still hear my daughter via my son's camera if she gets up.

This camera has night vision too, which is important because for us even nap-time is dark since we close the shades.  In fact, we get little use out of the "color" feature on this monitor because 99% of the time the room is dark and the night vision is on (it turns on automatically when needed, something not every video monitor brand does).  Another thing it has that not all hand-held video monitors do - rechargeable batteries.  Just plug it in & charge!  No AA batteries!

My only gripes about the monitor?  Well, the fact that one of my cameras broke suddenly of course (which is being remedied by Summer Infant).  I also wish the sound dial had numbers on it so that I could turn the dial to a specific spot each night before bed.  Some complain of static but I believe that could be a problem with virtually every monitor depending on what kind of frequencies you have running in/near your home.

I want you to know the hype is not just from me; everyone I know with a video camera can't imagine life with out it.  It's certainly indulgent but I justify it by knowing just how much I use it.  It's probably my most used baby product.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

good news, bad news

Well, good news first:  Those Hyland's Teething Tablets seem to work on our baby girl!  Well, at least for a short period of time.  She was crying this weekend, a lot.  And it seemed I couldn't do anything to help her.  So, I broke out the teething tablets.  Within 15 seconds of giving her 2 teething tablets she was calm (recommended dosage is 2-3 tablets).  It was absolutely amazing!  I'd say within an hour she was fussy again but it offered a much needed break, for both of us.

So, what's the bad news?  Well, it turns out the tablets are slightly controversial.  The tablets contain Belladonna, which stems from a toxic plant and has several different medical uses including sedation.  They also contain Coffea Cruda so of course I worried about caffeine intake.  When I was exploring the tablets for my son a year ago I called Hyland's regarding my concern.  The Customer Service Rep explained to me that since the tablets are made using a homeopathic process, extremely small dosages are used resulting in an effective product that is not harmful.  She also went on to tell me that their product has been in use for decades with no problems.  I asked her why caffeine (Coffea Cruda) would be on the ingredient list.  I mean, why would you want to give a baby who can't sleep caffeine?  She explained to me that often in homeopathic treatments, since the dosage is so small, you actually get the opposite effect as if the dosage were large.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia's definition of Homeopathy, which explains it much better than I can.
According to homeopaths, serial dilution, with shaking between each dilution, removes the toxic effects of the remedy while the qualities of the substance are retained by the diluent(water, sugar, or alcohol). The end product is often so diluted that it is indistinguishable from pure water, sugar or alcohol.

While I'm no expert on homeopathy, that explanation helped me to feel comfortable using the tablets, especially given Hyland's great track record for them.  But what I didn't know before giving the tablets to our baby girl, and only learned upon preparing this post, is that there is a recent uproar on the internet related to a mother claiming belladonna poisoning from these tablets.  Hyland's response can be found on their website.

Now, I'm not sure what to think.  And to make matters worse, here is more bad news.  That tooth that I so clearly felt the tip of on baby girl's gums the other day is now just beneath the surface again.  How unfair is that?  I had heard that was possible but never noticed it with our son.  Poor girl.  Maybe had my husband known this he would have understood why I was so incredibly upset with him after he inadvertently woke her this afternoon (it took me a long time to get her down!).

Since I posted 2 bits of bad news it's only fair to leave on a happy note: I got several digital projects done this weekend which I'll share with you soon!

Hope your Memorial Day weekend was nice.  Aside from the teething we had a great weekend with lots of family time.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

baby's first tooth!

We've had a rough few nights in the sleep department. I had thought it was because we were no longer swaddling our baby girl. But now I think I know the real reason: her first tooth (at 5.5 mo) is just peeking out of her gums. Poor girl is in pain!

Time to break out the anbesol tooth chart to track her teething for her baby book, which I'll probably complete in say 5 years from now (if I'm lucky). *sigh*

I'll be interested to find out if the Hyland's Teething Tablets work this time around.  I've had many people recommend them to me but they never seemed to do much for my son.  We just stuck to occasional Tylenol for him.

It's also time to break out those teethers again!  But what about BPA in teethers?!  To be honest, I haven't taken all precautions I could when it comes to the plastics concern, partly because of the conflicting information out there regarding how big of a concern this topic really is.  I have not thrown out plastic kitchen items that I have not been able to determine the safety of and I am not planning to throw out all of our plastic toys.  However, when it comes to things children suck on like bottles, teethers, pacifiers, sippys and dinnerware, I'm not taking any chances.  For those items, I've ensured that we use only plastics having recycle codes that are considered "safe" and I try to use stainless steel sippys and water bottles, especially outside in the heat.  

I threw many of our teethers away because they were not found on any of the safe teether guides that I'm aware of (see links on the left side of my blog).  These lists are not necessarily all-inclusive, so it's possible some of the teethers I tossed are BPA-free; however, after a ton of use from our son (he loved 'em), they were getting old anyway.  So, I bought this BPA-free teething kit from The Soft Landing:

How freakin' cute is that giraffe? Unfortunately that dang giraffe is what drives up the price on this sampler.  But I'm a sucker and since I just got a job I went for it.

While I was shopping at The Soft Landing I also bought a few more Sassy teethers

and this cool Klean Kanteen tote by Built NY.  I love that it can insulate not only our Klean Kanteen sippys but bottles too, and it can attach to a stroller or diaper bag!

I'll leave you with a really cool blog I found recently.  It's called "Z Recommends".  Here is a link to a post in which BPA information is broken down by brand.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

mama got a job!

Big news:  I was offered a part-time, work-from-home, contracting position today, and I accepted!  I have not been actively looking for a job but my contracting company has been on the look-out for something flexible for me.  I'll be working 15-25 hours a week and the great news is that for the most part I can do these hours whenever I want to, which means less time for the kids in child-care.  I've been told it won't be my most challenging job but the pay is the same as my previous rate and the flexibility can't be beat.  I'll be outsourced by my company to a company who is outsourcing me to another company - gotta love today's tech world.

Of course, I have some mixed emotions because it means less time with the kids.  And naturally I worry about child-care.  And selfishly I'm also sad to think of the fact that I may need to spend less time on my hobbies and creative outlets, though I'm hoping this blog won't suffer as I'm really having fun with it!  Maybe my new crazier life will give me blog material, though I won't write about my experiences with work - I'm not that dumb.

My husband jokingly said, "Does this now mean you are going to be a part-time mom?"  He's referring to the fact that I tend to take offense to the term "full-time mom".  Aren't ALL moms full-time moms, even if they have a job outside the home?  I don't think stay-at-home-moms mean any offense with that term.  And I do feel that stay-at-home-moms deserve a loaded title equal to their efforts (is such a title possible!) because as I've said before it's a totally under-appreciated and very difficult job.  But yet, somehow I can't seem to get past that term and feel that it implies working moms are "part-time moms" even if it's not the intent.  I suppose my offense stems from my own insecurity.

So, let me introduce you to the new me:  a full-time mom/wife/doggie mommy/daughter/sister/friend/dork and a part-time business analyst in the software industry.  I start the BA job next Wednesday.

Can I sneak in a Sam-story?  Tonight I caught him trying to get into my jewelry box.  When I asked what he was doing he said, very reassuringly, "I'm not opening your jewelry box."  Sure you're not, Sam.  Later he tried again, this time behind a closed door.  When I busted him again he said, "This box is just for you, mommy?  I want to be you mommy." and then quickly bursted into song singing "I Wanna Be Like You" from "The Jungle Book".  "ooh ooh ooh!  I wanna be like you!  I wanna walk like you, talk like you, tooooo!..."

He's double trouble now - both mischievous and cunning.  But he sure is cute and knows how to make a sucker out of me.  Just yesterday he said, "Mommy, I love you.  I like your smile."  Awwwwe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

time for a pat on the back

Breaking news: some people are reading my blog.  It turns out all whopping 41 hits on my counter are not just from my parents.  Word is out that I actually helped someone with my review on baby wearing.  My friend Shannon (who has a really great blog filled with wonderful tidbits of Mom info as well as fun updates on her family) recommended my blog and one of her readers bought a Moby Wrap thanks to my review.  And guess what?  It is working out great for her!  I'm so happy!  That makes consolidating my research into this blog totally worth it for me.

In other big news:  Your American Idol is David Cook!  GO DC!  Turns out my 3 votes mattered.  Yes, I voted 3 times (lowering my head in shame).

And finally I'll end this post with something I was very surprised to learn today from Parents Magazine.  Did you know you can hire your own "Super Nanny"?  Apparently there are certified Parent Coaches available to assist with child-behavior problems.  I had no idea such certifications existed.  Professions such as this really are a testament to today's parenting trends.  It seems so many parents are totally overwhelmed, not just by today's busy schedules, but also by the perceived cultural expectation to parent perfectly.  With so much information at our fingertips, a lot of research goes into parenting today.  I'm not convinced there is a "right" way to parent as I'm a firm believer that every kid is different, requiring a specific approach.  But, as obvious from this blog, I do want to do what I can to find the perfect solution for us.  Oh how I hope I will never need to consult a professional like this to find the solutions we need, but it's nice to know it's an option.

The service is pricey at approximately $60-$100 for a 45 minute phone conversation. 
Need to find your own parent coach?  Here are some links that Parents Magazine provided:

Or, I'll throw in a cheaper option - ask Grandma & Grandpa what they did when you bit your friends.  Or join a playgroup and talk amongst other Moms (and Dads).  I've been active on an online playgroup with other Mothers that have children Sam's age.  That has been invaluable for me to get parenting advice from other people going through similar things.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

i heart david cook

I did say that this blog would contain not just the latest research I've done on mommyhood but also my interests that help define me as a mom, right?  Well, I admit it, I like American Idol.  And I heart David Cook.  I'm not totally blown away by his performance tonight, and I must admit David Archuleta won a few points from me for his performance, but David Cook is still my overall fav.  And I will be voting.  I've never voted before.  Ever.  So that shows you how much I want David Cook to win.

I promise I've got some posts cooking that will have some real information in the week to come.  Specifically, I'm working on consolidating all the great "Digital Scrapbooking" information I've been finding.  And I'm putting together a list of my 10 favorite baby gadget/product must-haves for a girlfriend of mine.  So if you know of a must-have that I must include, feel free to leave me a comment!


P.S.  My friend Shannon was right; Sydney is getting used to her SleepSack that I posted about.  The first night she only woke up 10 minutes earlier than normal.  Though lately normal is 5am - so hopefully that's a consolation for any of you who may have been irritated that my baby slept through the night by 6 weeks.  Last night, however, she woke up very early.  But I have hopes my 7pm-5am sleeper will return soon.  Once we cross this bridge my next task will be moving her to her own room.  Yes, I admit, I still have her in our room.  I think she will have a much easier time parting than I will.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

the return of sleepless nights?

I think I'm off to bed for a sleepless night.  At five months old our baby has sadly outgrown the swaddle blanket that I believe helped her to sleep through the night beginning at such a young age (6 weeks!).  It's called The Miracle Blanket and it kept Sydney snug and warm while she slept so soundly.  We are big fans of swaddling around here; it helped sooth both of our children very well.  I'm so thankful my friend Jessica recommended the book "The Happiest Baby on the Block" because it introduced us to some fantastic infant soothing techniques, swaddling being one of them.  None of the techniques are earth-shattering.  In fact, they are quite simple.  But when you aren't used to being in "baby mode", and when you are sleep-deprived, it's nice to have a great source like this book to lay out soothing techniques that really work.

So, what do we do now that Sydney has outgrown swaddling?  She's kicking her way out of blankets (even tight swaddles) so it's certainly no longer safe to wrap her.  I remember being in this position with my son too but how can I forget what I did to get past it?  I suppose I probably wasn't getting any sleep and therefore don't remember it.  Anyway, tonight I have put Syd in one of those SleepSacks to at least keep her warm, but without that snug swaddle I worry she'll not sleep soundly.  And anyone who knows me knows that Mama needs her sleep!

Wish me luck,


Saturday, May 17, 2008

what's in a name?

What's in a name?  A lot in my opinion.  And I'm just not satisfied with how I have things named here.  I want to settle on a name now while the reader numbers are low.  Not that I'll ever get a lot of readers but one can hope, right?  Anyway, I love the sound of "All Things Mom" but that blog URL is not available (even though it's not being used), nor is "All Things Mommy".  So, for now the URL is "" because this blog really is about consolidating my resources.  In fact, I thought about changing it to "".  But neither is really doing it for me.

So, any creative ideas out there from you few readers?  I'm listening!  (I hear crickets chirping as I wait.)

Have a great weekend.  It's gorgeous here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

a new beginning

The other day the kids and I had what seemed to be one of those "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days".  After some toys thrown at windows (not by me!), hitting (again, not by me!), tantrums, pure exhaustion, and crying (yes, by me too), I was at my wits end.  I really didn't know how to turn things around, until I looked outside.  The sun was shining, and that very cute birdie that keeps pecking at every window in our house was back for her daily hello.  I then peered across the street to find my neighbor mowing his lawn, his VERY big lawn.  Then from down the street comes another neighbor on his riding mower to help.  Before long another neighbor came on their tractor as well, and then yet another!  There were four people mowing my neighbor's lawn on a beautiful sun-shiny day.  You may wonder if my neighbor needed the help.  Nope, he's perfectly healthy.  The other neighbors pitched in simply to lend a hand and to enjoy the day together.  And THIS is what turned my "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" around.  It was just the thing I needed to lift my spirits and remind myself that life is good.  Very good.

During the next tantrum (as there will certainly be many more to come) I am going to try to remind myself that "this too shall pass".  Kate, from my favorite reality show "Jon & Kate plus 8" (about their life raising a set of twins and a set of sextuplets) once said that each day is a chance for a new beginning.  I'm going to take that a step further and say that each moment is a chance for a new beginning.  When I feel myself or my kids getting into a funk I'm really going to try to look for simple things to lift our spirits and turn things around.

Enjoy your new beginning,


p.s. That cute birdie I referred to is a female cardinal my son nick-named "Crash" because she's been running into our windows for weeks trying to protect her territory from her own reflection. *sigh*  There's a male in the area too so she must be fighting for her man.

p.p.s. I should note that my attitude also improved thanks to a little retail therapy!  My cool new diaper bag arrived (which I LOVE except I think the inside pockets could be a touch bigger & deeper to accommodate toddler diapers better).  I also got a package in the mail with a generous gift for Sydney and loads of fantastic hand-me-downs from a great friend too (Thanks Jennifer!).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

fingerprint art on your stainless steel appliances?

In a time where many of us are looking for more natural solutions I wanted to pass along a great Mother's Day gift I got yesterday from my Mother-in-Law.  Check out this Stainless Steel Cloth from Casabella!  Just add a touch of water and wipe those finger prints away without using any chemicals!  Super easy and effective!  And it doesn't require using paper towels, which I'm guilty of using entirely too much.

I also want to quickly note that I'm in the process of redesigning the look of my blog to help define it better.  Please excuse any design experiments you may encounter along the way while I finalize things.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

my recent addiction:

Have you heard of Why it's the place to buy and sell all things home-made! It's where to shop for the person that has everything! I could get sucked into this site for hours browsing all the cool things out there. Luckily they have search tools to help you find gifts for babies, weddings, Father's Day, etc.

Check out my new diaper bag I found on etsy!! I had this custom made from The Funky Bag Lady.

I still love my Lands' End back-pack for all-day trips with the kids (though the back pack appears to be no longer available for sale???!).  Anyway, I get tired of carrying around such a big bag and I wanted something that I could just throw some diapers in and a spare change of clothes for Sydney.  The bag from The Funky Bag Lady seems perfect!  It's a good size, has several pockets, and is darn cute!  Once again comes through for me!

Here are some other favorite things I've browsed recently:

Don't say I didn't warn you!  It's addictive!  Have fun!  Tricia

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!


What's a blog on "all things mom" without a special shout out to all the Moms out there on Mother's Day!  Anyone out there?  Hellloooooooooo?  Helllooooo!  Well, my blog is so new I have a feeling this shout out will go mostly unheard.  But I'll be sure to inform my own Mother of it.  And what a special Mom she is!  As a single Mom she raised me and my 2 brothers into successful and loving adults (excuse the lack of modesty here!).  She somehow found a way to get us anything we could ever need and had a way of doing it without us having a clue how hard money was to come by.  She was so busy with work to provide for us yet she always managed to come to every game, event, etc. that we were involved in.  Basically, she was there for us - always has been, even today!  THANKS MOM!  I love you!  WE love you!

I feel very fortunate to know many incredible Moms out there.  From single Moms to stay-at-home Moms to Moms that work outside the home as assistants, corporate executives, project managers, analysts (yours truly), teachers, nurses, doctors, dance instructors, sales professionals and Airforce pilots, to name a few.  It's incredible what Moms can do and I'm fortunate to be surrounded by amazing Mothers.

I didn't realize until recently how little recognition Mothers get for doing the hardest job on Earth!  When I've worked outside the home I think I've thrived on the recognition I get via that job - whether it be through a coworker compliment, a nice review, or even a promotion!  As I'm currently a stay at home Mom I no longer get formal reviews.  It's easy to feel invisible and under-appreciated some days with spit up running down my shirt and screaming kids next to me.  After-all, a child is a lifelong project - it's not like a corporate job where I can feel good about a job well done when a project is complete.  So I am trying to feel good about the "baby steps" of success I have along the way as a Mom and it doesn't take long to get a sweet smile from my baby and a big hug combined with a "you so lucky!" from my 2 year old.  I guess that's their way of giving me positive feedback and I relish those moments.

Thanks to my husband, this Mother's Day has been very nice and I think I got the "review" I've been looking for in the form of flowers, breakfast and a card from the kids!  My own Mom was here last night and she had my son record "Happy Mother's Day" in a card, which I'll cherish forever!  What a special day!  I hope you enjoy your day too!

Friday, May 9, 2008

more on plastics...

Yesterday a friend of mine passed along a great link regarding plastics (thanks Shannon!).  Check out this blog/company regarding information and products for plastic-free living:

Be sure to review their plastic-free products and their "Facts on Plastics".  According to this site there are potential dangers with some plastics containing recycle code #1.  This was news to me as I had only heard that to-date codes 3, 6, and 7 (some 7s) were considered potentially dangerous to one's health.  I did, however, know that codes 1 and 2 are meant for single-use only.  At this point I don't have any information to back up what is saying regarding code #1 but you can be sure that I'll be on the look out.  

Of course, there are those out there who say there are no dangers proven from plastics of any resin-type and that any chemical leaching is negligible.  However, Canada is not one of them.  Did you know that Canada is proposing legal action to reduce the exposure of BPA to newborns and infants?  For more information check out Health Canada.  GO CANADA!  

I was sipping coffee with friends the other day and glanced down to see that my Starbucks disposable lid was a #6.  Aaaahhh!  Hot coffee + potentially hazardous material when heated = not a good combination. I called Starbucks and as I expected they assured me that all of their products are safe and comply with government (US) standards. They also assured me that should any information come out showing otherwise they would act accordingly and quickly. While I agree they comply with government standards (after-all we have no laws banning Starbucks, and other food/beverage companies, from using these plastics), that doesn't mean I'm in favor of the current standards. I told the customer service rep that those lids are #6, which represents polystyrene plastics. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the following risks could exist with these plastics.

Styrene can leach from polystyrene plastic.

Styrene is toxic to the brain and nervous system,

among workers with longer-term exposures but also

has been found to adversely affect red blood cells, liver, kid-

neys and stomach in animal studies. Aside from exposure

from food containers, children can be exposed to styrene

from secondhand cigarette smoke, off-gassing of building

materials, auto exhaust fumes and drinking water.

The Starbucks Customer Service Representative told me that the recycle code represented the fact that the product was recyclable, not what the product was made of. I disagree with her on that. From what I've read the code is meant to designate the type of plastic, which in turn allows recycling facilities to determine whether or not it's recyclable (not all recycling facilities recycle every code). Therefore, the code does represent the type of plastic and it does not automatically mean that it's recyclable. Refer to the American Chemistry Council for further information.

And speaking of the American Chemistry Council, they say that Health Canada's assessment of BPA actually supports it's safety. Click here for further details. The discrepancy of information out there is enough to make your head spin, right? I'm fully aware that studies showing risks so far have either been on animals or on humans with long-term and/or significant exposure. So I do recognize that it's possible that the leaching of BPA and other substances is "safe" in small doses. But again, at this point I feel more comfortable erring on the side of caution, especially since we don't necessarily know the long-term affects to small amounts of exposure or the long-term affects to exposure on young children.

So, back to my Starbucks cup, I'm going to make a point to remember my own portable mug next time I go to Starbucks or Caribou Coffee (my other favorite coffee spot) - better for me and the environment. Until now I never really gave it much thought that the two platforms may actually be one. But to me it makes complete sense that something that has a hard time breaking down in the environment probably isn't well tolerated by our bodies either.

One more thing before I go for the day: did you know there is a site specifically for BPA? Of course it's a "pro-BPA" site so take the source into consideration. Here you go: Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group

Until next time, Tricia

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

baby wearing

I had a great day yesterday. One of those days where I feel like I just might be ok at this Mom thing. Everything seemed to fall in line today. I got a lot done and yet the kids and I had a ton of fun along the way. I've also rediscovered my hotsling, which brings me to the point of this blog entry - BABY WEARING.

When Sydney was born it was clear that she LOVES to be held. Samuel was much more independent, even from the beginning, so this was new to me. It seems 90% of the time when she's crying she just wants a little attention by being held and talked to. She's a people-person, what can I say! My husband says I used to complain that Samuel wasn't a cuddler and now I got my cuddler! Anyway, after Syd's birth I had to find a way to hold her often yet keep up with my busy 2 year old! And that is how I discovered the world of baby wearing!

Here is a link for pediatrician Dr. Sears' take on baby wearing to help explain the concept.

So, how to wear the baby you ask? Check out the following for information on baby wearing and determining what sling/wrap is best for you:

As for me, I have not found a one-size fits-all answer to this. I can only tell you what has worked best for ME personally, which I've outlined below.

1.  The Moby wrap!
Oh boy how I love my Moby! It's basically about 5 yards of stretchy fabric that you wrap around yourself and allows you to hold the baby in several different ways. As the baby grows you can change the hold position to best fit that age. 

I found this sling is especially helpful for when baby is brand new. It's really the only sling Syd liked at that stage and it allowed me to nurse her in the wrap very easily. I was at a gym once with a friend and all of our kids. I mentioned to her, as I was chasing my 2 year old, that I was nursing Sydney and she could NOT believe it. The sling not only served to hold Syd and keep her happy - but nurse her discreetly as well (thanks also to the help of my FAVORITE nursing tops by BOOB brand - no lie on the brand name)!

What I also love about the Moby is it is definitely the easiest on my back of any of the 4 slings I've tried.

My mother-in-law made me a hand-made Moby out of fleece that I used in the winter time. It was such a perfect way to get Sydney and Samuel outside more easily in our sub-freezing temps! I'd put Syd in the wrap and then put my husband's coat over us! That way I didn't have to bundle her up in outdoor winter wear and she still stayed very warm. I had a whole assembly-line-style process for how to get the 2 young kids outdoors. It was a necessity for my 2 year old - there will never be a winter to slow this kid down! Here are some pics of my outdoor winter baby wearing get up.

Step 1: get baby in sling/wrap. Ensure you are wearing an easily accessible nursing shirt and bra for feedings if necessary. My favorite is by Boob (which is what I'm wearing in this picture) because it doesn't require you to lift the entire shirt up in order to nurse & it's a flattering shirt.

Step 2: Put a big coat over you and the baby and viola you look pregnant again! I used my husband's coat.

Here Syd is all snug as a bug inside the Moby inside my jacket. Don't worry, she got plenty of fresh air through the top of my jacket and she absolutely LOVED it in there. She has taken countless naps in the Moby.

The downside to the Moby - well, some say it's complicated but I don't find that. Don't let the look or directions intimidate you! True, it took a few tries to figure out how to wrap that sucker around me but it actually is a very simple concept once I got a couple practice rounds in. The Moby wrap comes with great instructions, which they also have available on their website. The Moby plays on a method of baby wearing used successfully all over the world. The downside in my opinion to the Moby is that it's slightly bulky as it's about 5 yards of fabric. When I want to travel with it, it takes up a good chunk of my diaper bag - yet still entirely portable. The Moby can also can take a bit longer to put on than some of the other slings.

The BABY BJORN is fantastic for when I'm doing really active things. I take a music class with Samuel that requires a lot of dancing and in that class I feel most comfortable using the BJORN. I've worn the Moby in that class before but seem to always have to readjust her a bit after all that dancing but the BABY BJORN requires no readjusting - it's always at a fixed position (though you can change the settings relatively easily for a different user) with no slack in the material. What I also love about this sling is that my husband feels the most comfortable wearing this one (it's more guy-friendly. lol.) and I'm all for anything that helps him help me! :)  This carrier is probably a great option for hot summer days too since it doesn't involve the baby being wrapped up blanket-style.

So what is the downside to the BABY BJORN? Well, unlike other slings and wraps there really is only 2 ways to hold the baby - facing in or facing out. Therefore, I didn't like it as much for brand brand new babies. I really prefer to hold newer babies in the cradle position as it seems the most comfortable and they sleep so much at that age. The only other drawback: although I got the active carrier, for some reason the Baby Bjorn still puts a lot of stress on my shoulders. This carrier is also one of the more pricey ones.

3. The hotsling!
I wasn't sold on this sling at first - other than how darn CUTE they are! I just felt like Sydney was too confined in there. I know babies like to be snug but her head seemed really cramped and she wasn't very happy. I wondered if I was wearing it wrong but I have heard the same response from many other moms. Fast forward to Sydney's 4th month... I got tired of putting that Moby wrap in my diaper bag because it took up so much room so I broke out the hotsling and guess what: SUCCESS! Now that Sydney's head can be positioned on the outside of the sling both she and I like it! I still find the Moby or Baby Bjorn more comfortable but this sling is great in the fact that it travels easier & it's faster to put on.

The downside to the hotsling? Not all Moms find it comfortable for her and/or baby - but that is maybe true for any sling. This sling requires a sized fit as well. I'm not sure the size I bought was quite right after Syd was born but now that I've lost all the baby weight and Syd can sit in it with her head out of the sling, it seems perfect. Like the BJORN, this sling can be on the more expensive side, though some of their fabrics are more affordable than others.

4. The ring sling
I tried one and did not at all like it. It just didn't seem to fit my short 5'3" body at all. I don't really even think it would be fair for me to comment on this one because I was never sure if I was doing it right and I'm not certain of the name of the brand I tried.

That summarizes my adventure in finding the perfect sling! In the end I have enjoyed having 3 slings as I love them each for different reasons. If I had to recommend just one sling it would be the Moby wrap due to the fact that it's affordable and offers the most long term flexibility in baby wearing since there are so many ways it allows you to hold the baby.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The working Mom v. the Stay at Home Mom

I was listening to a local afternoon talk show the other day. The hosts asked that working mothers and stay at home mothers call in with any opinions on the working v. staying home debate. This upset me because it seems Moms are hard on each other enough as it is. Everyone has an opinion on raising another person's child yet every child and every family is so different. I wish us Moms could be more supportive of one another and respect another Mom's decision even if it's different than her own in the working v. staying at home debate. At any rate, I was pleasantly surprised that the calls into the show were pretty tame so maybe there are a lot more women out there who feel like me than I had thought.

Speaking of working, after a 5 mo (so far) maternity leave with my 2nd child I've been contemplating entering the workforce again part time. I was approached about a job opportunity that seemed almost too good to be true (close to home, great schedule, good pay, perfect nanny to watch the kids, etc.). Apparently it was too good to be true because it sadly never transpired. Although I've LOVED staying home with my 2 kids, I have to admit the thought of returning to work energized me. But I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason so perhaps staying home is the best decision for us right now or perhaps an even better job is on the horizon. 

My new goal is to find ways to feel energized that help me both do better at my job (being a Mom) and feel better about myself, which is why I'm hoping to get more serious about this blog. I spend so much time researching kid-related stuff I might as well document along the way. It will keep the OCD side of me happy anyway. I've also decided to get back into my hand-made and digital projects (making invitations, announcements, etc.). Maybe I can even earn a touch of spending money while I wait for that perfect job and meanwhile I'll work to enjoy every minute I have with my kids as I know I'm fortunate.

I feel like I'm making good steps toward my new goal. Case in point this post and I made myself a new digital signature as well (see below).