Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Reasons why I didn't post yesterday and probably won't again for a little while:

1.  My baby is sick and demands constant attention.
2.  I have a million things to do that should have been finished yesterday.
3.  My husband's work week is nuts, and he isn't able to help me at all.
4.  We're leaving for California in day and half and have NOTHING prepared.

I would thoroughly enjoy some sleep right about now.  Goodbye to internet land.... Can't... type... another... word.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Losing the Baby Weight: Part 2

To read the beginning of this journey (Part 1), click here.

At the conclusion of my first official week of trying to lose weight, I have this to share:

It sucked.  It was insanely difficult, and I hated it.  After a couple days, I think my body went into shock.  My stomach was probably FREAKED out to no end about the decent food it was processing.  I actually  got a little sick for a day.

I did lose 4 pounds though.  I also kept to a reasonable diet.  I tried the whole no carbs thing a few weeks ago and only lasted 2 days.  This time, I monitored my carbs during the day (stayed under 20 net carbs) and  ate a good dinner.  I didn't go crazy and splurge with my dinner meals.  I kept them as healthy as I could, while not sacrificing flavor.  I've learned that depriving myself 24/7 absolutely does not work.

Even with the 4 pound loss, I couldn't make it through the weekend and gained 2 pounds back.  I was literally thinking about food every second of the day.  We had a scare with our 4 day old cousin, and I desperately wanted to camp out on the couch with a bag of Reese's.  The next day, when I found out about my great uncle (grandfather figure) having congestive heart failure... I made brownies.  Honestly though, I think the act of baking is my therapy.  I always thought the product was what made me feel better, but this time, I put the brownies in the oven and FORGOT about them.  I remember feeling the release of emotions as I was mixing the batter but didn't think much of it.  As I was sliding the pan onto the oven rack, my husband came home from work.  I handed him the baby so I could go for a walk (needed to get  out of the house).  Toward the end of the walk, I remembered the brownies in the oven and didn't even rush home.  Plus, it gave my husband a taste of what it's like to get a bottle ready, feed the baby, and deal with food cooking in the kitchen.  

I hadn't binged on the brownies, but the next day, we attended the birthday party of a 2 year old.  Naturally, I didn't turn down cake... or spaghetti... or amazing dip... or another brownie... or a cupcake.  Then, I had to go to town today.  It's a 5 hour round trip, so I indulged in fast food.  I figured I had already ruined anything I had started anyway.  I can actually say I ordered small fries and a cheeseburger from McDonald's and couldn't eat the fries.  They just didn't taste as good as they usually do.  Sure, they were hot and salted to perfection.  My body just didn't want them.  It was telling me to stop.  

Now... my revelation:  I feel like shit.  Seriously.  After the weekend "off", my stomach is churning.  As difficult as last week was, my mind wasn't as clouded, I didn't have my usual headaches, and once I got used to the food change, I felt better.  Tonight, I'm crampy, bloated, and just feel disgusting.  I'm not doing this again.  I'm more motivated than ever.  There is a reason we call that crap "junk food".  I feel like garbage tossed out on a junk pile.  Bleh.

I hope this experience helps me throughout the rest of this week.  I'm sure I'll still fall into the whole grass is greener slump and think about food constantly, but I really believe it will be a little (if only even a hair) easier over the next few days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Baby Doll

Emma got all dressed up for a birthday party today!  I can't resist posting these pictures.  :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Make Your Own Crinkly Baby Toys

I should wait until I've made a cute toy so that I can post a picture on here, but I want to share this.  Babies love soft toys that crinkle when grasped in their tiny fingers.  Here is an easy way to make your own crinkly toys and not spend a dime.  :-)

Materials Needed:
Plastic grocery bags
Needle and Thread or Sewing Machine


  1. Gather some spare fabric, scraps of old clothing, OR newborn onesies and baby clothes that no longer fit.  I used a bright pink, newborn onesie that was too small for my daughter even when she was a newborn.  You can use any fabric, but try to find colorful pieces.  
  2. Make sure the fabric is clean.
  3. Cut whatever shape you want, turn it inside out, and sew all but a gap wide enough for a finger to fit through.  Make sure your sewing is durable and will withstand the constant grabbing of a baby's hands.  For my sample, I turned the newborn sized onesie inside out, sewed the arm and leg holes closed and left the bottom area (with the snaps) open.
  4. Pull the inside of the fabric through the hole so that the outside is showing (as you would with a sewed pillow case, for example).
  5. Stuff a plastic bag or 2 through the remaining hole.
  6. Finish by sewing the hole closed (securely).  

Obviously, you want ALL of your stitches to be tight and close to prevent the bags from being pulled out.  You can jazz up your toy by adding personal touches.  Try sewing pieces of wide ribbon in the seems or adding additional textures for the baby to touch.  You could also embroider the child's name if you want to get really crafty.  The possibilities are endless.  This is an easy way to make a few toys for your baby if you're on a budget.   You could even create really cute toys for personalized baby gifts.  :-)

Baby Registry: Where do I start???

When I was pregnant, I had to create my baby registries online, and I had to do it by myself.  I had NO IDEA what I was doing.  :-)  Naturally, I asked for a few things that were completely unnecessary and neglected to ask for things we absolutely needed.  I now have a few friends who are expecting their first babies and have decided to make a list a of what I think are the most important registry items.  If you're an expecting mom and trying to wrap your brain around the thousands of products out there, take a look below.  Hopefully, this will help a little.

1.)  Diapers, diapers, diapers!!!
  • If you plan to use disposable diapers, I recommend Pampers Swaddlers and Pampers BabyDry.  I would ask for both Newborn and Size 1.
  • If you plan to use cloth diapers and would like to learn more about how to choose the best type for your family, click here.
2.)  Wipes
  • I prefer Huggies Natural Care.  They're thicker than cheaper brands and perfect for sensitive skin.
3.)  Boppy Pillow
  • This is my single most favorite item.  You can use it so many different ways.  
4.)  Vibrating Bouncer (Love!)

5.)  Playpen with Changing Table Insert
  • There are many different brands and models, but I love my Fisher Price Precious Planet Playard.  It has the changing table and a very handy bassinet option.  We chose to purchase all of our baby gear from the Precious Planet line, but any playpen with these accessories would be great.
6.)  Bottles or Breastfeeding Accessories
  • Make sure you have plenty of feeding supplies.  Figure out which methods and products best suit you.  I had planned to breastfeed and didn't register for any bottles.  When it didn't work out, we only had a couple of bottles from baby showers and had to purchase more.  If you are going with regular bottles, I recommend Dr. Brown's.  
7.)  Bottle Warmer
The following are in no particular order:

8.)  Fisher Price Soothing Motions Glider (or something similar)
  • This isn't something you would have to have, but I recommend it.  It is a great sleeping aid for babies with colic or babies who tend to spit up.  We don't have one, but our neighbor let us borrow theirs.  Our daughter went through a short phase of spitting up so much at once that she would choke.  I wouldn't sleep out of fear of her doing this while in her bassinet at night, but when she was in the glider, I was comforted because of the slightly upright position.  She loved it and would sleep for hours.  My neighbors swear by it as well. 
9.)  Burp Cloths  - You can never have too many.  

10.)  Large, Practical Diaper Bag

11.)  Bath Towels and Wash Cloths

  • I love this stuff and use it every single day.  My daughter has sensitive skin, and her cheeks get very dry (from bottles, burp cloths, pacifiers, etc.).  The Aquaphor keeps her skin moisturized.  It also helps heal little cuts and scrapes from her fingernails and has even lessened the redness of a few rashes.  If you aren't sure what Aquaphor is, click the link above.  You can buy it in a squeeze tube or a tub.  
  • Gassy babies are very unhappy babies.  These drops really do help.
14.)  Desitin Diaper Rash Cream

15.)  Front Button Tshirts, Bodysuits and Sleepers
  • Clothing that buttons up the front is more practical when dressing a newborn.  The front button Tshirts are great and easy on the skin, especially while the umbilical cord is still attached. 
16.)  Blankets (Receiving and Regular)

17.)  Pacifiers
  • I don't believe in overusing pacifiers, but they are great for helping Baby get to sleep and are proven to help reduce the risk of SIDS.  My daughter's favorites are from NUK.  I also like AVENT because they are smaller and don't allow as much wetness to build up on the skin.  I actually was planning not to use pacifiers at all, but the nurses and lactation consultant at the hospital convinced me.  I'm so glad.  
18.)  Safety/Grooming Kit
  • A simple kit is perfect.  You don't need to find the biggest, fanciest one out there.  As long as you have nail clippers, emery boards, a thermometer, and a nose sucker (which you get from the hospital), you'll be fine.
19.)  Bibs  (Plenty)

20.)  Car Seat with Base** (See #20)

21.)  Stroller (or Travel System)

**Sometimes, you can find a better deal by purchasing a travel system.  A travel system contains the stroller, car seat, and base for one price.

22.)  Bath Tub

The following items are not absolute necessities but are nice to have.  You won't need many of them right away, but it's worth it to ask.  Family and friends are incredibly generous when babies are in the picture, and you want to try to stock up on as much as you can.  The diapers you're going to have to buy (and formula if you're using it) are insanely expensive.  

Bumbo Chair
Playmat/Activity Mat
Bottle Drying Rack
Soft Rattles
Spoons and Bowls (for cereal and baby food)
Educational Books for Baby
Sleep Sack
Baby Wash and Lotion**  You'll probably get plenty of this without registering for it.
Baby Carrier
Baby Book 
Footprint/Handprint Set
Picture Frames
Gift Cards**  These are the best!

I also realize many people register for Dreft laundry detergent.  "Baby" and Dreft go hand in hand.  Just be careful.  My daughter is allergic.  Before she was born, I washed EVERYTHING in Dreft and caused her to have a horrible rash.  We now use all Free Clear detergent and haven't had a problem.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Compulsive Overeating Disorder: Addicted to Food

Compulsive Overeating Disorder is characterized by excessive overeating or binge eating.  Many refer to it as an addiction to food.  People dealing with this usually eat in secret and probably keep it hidden so well that no one around them realizes how severe the situation may be.  Unlike bulimia, compulsive overeaters do not purge after a binge session.  All eating disorders are unhealthy and traumatic for those suffering from them, but Anorexia and Bulimia are the two most publicized disorders.  There are obvious, visual signs of anorexia and bulimia.  However, as most compulsive overeaters hide their actions, the only visual sign is that they are perhaps overweight.  Not all overeaters are overweight, but when they are, others simply see extra pounds.  Outsiders probably do not realize the emotional torment compulsive overeaters are constantly battling.

I've done a lot of research on compulsive overeating and cannot find a specific reason for why it happens.  Most likely, it stems from emotional issues, internal voids, and/or seeking comfort of some kind.  Binge eating provides a high of sorts.  It is literally like a drug and sometimes impossible to control once started.  In the course of one binge, the person may experience an intense high, comfort, feelings of happiness, and then intense guilt or depression over the amount of food they have eaten.  Compulsive overeaters realize they have a problem and are conscious of their weight but obsess over food so much so that they cannot stop.

Typical Signs of Compulsive Overeating Disorder:

  • Binge eating (no purging)
  • Eating in secret
  • Obsessions with food
  • Emotional connection to food
  • Eating when not hungry 
  • History of dieting
  • Depression
  • Guilt

Why am I writing about this?  
For the first time in my life, my compulsive overeating is catching up with me and I'm forcing myself to confront it.  Unless I am honest and face this head-on, I am not going to be able do this.  Right now, for example, I cannot stop thinking about the box of brownie mix in my pantry.  I've been trying to lose weight and have successfully managed to diet for the past 5 days.  Every second has been a struggle, but I am about to crack.  This is exactly why dieting doesn't work with compulsive overeaters.  We deprive ourselves, give up, and binge again.  If I allow myself, I'll bake those brownies and have every crumb devoured within the 5 minutes after I pull them from the oven.  That is... only after I eat about 1/3 of the batter.  

I know why I do what I do, so I'm going to share.  I hope that by publicly acknowledging this problem, it will be a little easier to fight.  However, if you know me and are reading this, please do not attempt to discuss this with me or give me pitying looks.  If someone acts like they feel sorry for me or stares at me, thinking... "I wonder how much crap she ate before she came here," I assure you the postpartum anger in me will lash out and take a swift kick to your rear.  

This will be a rather long post, and I hope I do not lose respect from my loved ones after they read some of the disgusting, horrible things I've done....  

Since I was a child, I've (literally) been obsessed with Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  When I say "obsessed", I mean it.  I think about them 24/7.  I stress about when I'll be able to enjoy them again.  When I have the opportunity, I buy boxes upon boxes and bags upon bags.    In high school and throughout college, I would binge 3 entire boxes of cake rolls at a time (anytime I was upset or depressed).  I would buy bags of Reese's cups and eat 2-3 bags at once.  Yes, BAGS.  I have tons of stories, but the most disturbing happened when I was a sophomore in college.  Get ready to judge me....  I was in my dorm room by myself and had just gone out to buy 3 boxes of cake rolls (again).  I had eaten 2 boxes, the high was gone, and the guilt was setting in.  I was so disgusted with myself and depressed and wanted to stop so badly.  I couldn't.  I just kept eating.  I had gotten a pack or two into the third box and got so disappointed and angry that I spit the chewed pieces I was eating back into the box. This was supposed to prevent me for trying to get to the other, unopened packs.  I then took the box to the large trash can at the end of the hall and dropped it in.  After sitting in my room for a few hours, obsessing over the rest of the cake rolls that I knew were safely sitting in their plastic wrap, I checked the hall, made sure no one was around, and retrieved them.  I realize how horrifying this sounds, but I genuinely could not stop.  

I have been doing these things for years.  I used to drive around to 3 or 4 fast food restaurants when I was alone and order meals at each one.  I would quickly eat them before meeting friends or going back to my apartment.  While teaching, I kept bags of Reese's in my desk and scarfed them down between classes and during my prep periods.  I can go on and on.  The main points to grasp:  everything was hidden, at the first bite, I would feel as if everything in the world was finally OK, and every bite would be followed by overbearing guilt and depression.  I don't think anyone ever knew.  Until I got pregnant, I wasn't THAT fat, so it isn't like I was a 400lb woman walking down the street.  Even when I was thin, I was doing this.  In the past, I would binge and either not eat for a few days or just workout enough to balance it.  It's different now.  It's all catching up with me, and I'm having an incredibly difficult time getting rid of it.  I binged throughout my pregnancy (I know, I know) and wasn't able to stop eating or workout excessively.  Toward the end of my pregnancy, I was on a modified bed rest and could only work 4 hours a day.  I was eating more than ever, still binge eating, and not getting ANY exercise.  

It's always been a battle, but it seems harder now.  I'm a stay-at-home mom in the middle of nowhere.  I'm trying... but it's tough.

I have enough of a background in psychology to understand why I turn to food as a crutch.  I try to fill voids originally created by my biological father.  My first 2 memories with sneaking food have to do with a Reese's candy bar and a package of cake rolls.  Go figure.  I don't remember how old I was, but I couldn't have been older than 4 when I stole the Reese's.  My dad had taken me with him to the Village Pantry in town.  As we were leaving, I swiped the Reese's.  He saw it when we got in the car.  He was sooooo angry, and made me take it back inside.  The second instance happened a few years later, after my parents had gotten divorced.  Those first few years, my sister and I would go to my dad's every other weekend, but he wasn't around very often.  We were left with our stepmom who thought we were too fat and locked us out of the house.  She wanted us to get exercise.  She was very controlling.  I don't blame her now.  My dad shouldn't have dumped us on her.  Anyway, they used to keep a box of cake rolls in the top cabinet above the oven.  One day, when Dad was gone, and our stepmom was in a different room, I grabbed a dining room chair, climbed up on the oven, and sneaked a pack of cake rolls.  I put everything away and ran to my room.  I will never forget the sensation I got when I bit into that first cake roll.  In that split second, everything was OK.  My dad wasn't a negligent ass, my stepmom wasn't evil, I didn't miss my mom, nothing else mattered.  I had just escaped into that wonderful chocolate, creamy treat.  

I don't really know where to go from here.  I can blame everything on my dad, but ultimately it's my responsibility to take care of myself.  All of this time, I have been allowing food to have complete control over me.  My world revolves around it, and I go through withdrawals when I can't have what I want.  I sincerely believe I'm dealing with this like a drug addict.  I wish I could run off to a rehabilitation center, but I can't.  I have to figure this out and deal with it myself.  I hope I can get a grip on it, but realistically, I know I'll be battling it forever.  

If you think you or someone you know might be suffering from Compulsive Overeating Disorder, visit the links below for more information.  This is a real issue and more common than one might think.  There are treatment centers all over the country and psychologists in your area who are trained to help.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Separation Anxiety: Mom and Baby

This week as been particularly crazy for some reason, and my "to do" list is suffocating me.  I was so frustrated today because I needed a break.  I still need a break.  I love my daughter, but I wish I had my mom and mother-in-law around to help sometimes.  I really need a day to get caught up and chill out.

When my husband finally got home today, he could tell I was annoyed and wanted his help.  He had had the day "off" which means, of course, that he planned enough crap to take up the entire morning and much of the afternoon.  Shortly after he walked in the door, he took over baby duty so I could go to the grocery store.  Oh, yay!  The grocery store!  It's a whole 2 minutes from my house!  What a treat!  I might have been gone a total of 20 minutes.  Yes, I needed to get out of the house and have a little time off from constant baby watch, but when I got back home, all I wanted to do was hold my daughter.

Later, I wanted to take advantage of my husband being home and have him watch Emma again so I could do the dishes.  She can flip her bouncer seat, rolls all over the place when on the floor, and isn't quite big enough to be in her jumperoo for more than a few minutes.  She needs constant attention.  I fixed a bottle and put him to work feeding her.  The longer I washed the dishes, the more upset I became about her falling asleep with him instead of me.  I put her to sleep every night.  It actually made me sad to be away from her even though she was only 10 feet from me.  Eventually, I conceded, left the dishes and asked if I could have her back.

My dilemma:

I'm exhausted.
I'm frustrated.
I need help.
I want to run away....
yet I can't be without my daughter.

She just turned 5 months old this week.  Is this going to get better?  I don't want to be an overbearing mom, and I don't want my kid to be one of those babies who is afraid of everyone but Mommy.  I keep saying we need to have someone babysit her for a few minutes a week so she'll be OK around other people, but I think it's me.  I think I'm the one who needs to try to stay away from her a few minutes every other day or so.  I don't know what I'll do when I have to go back to work.  We can't afford to live this way forever.

The developmental information out there for babies my daughter's age says she might start exhibiting separation anxiety soon.  I think I'm the one with the separation anxiety.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baby's Intuition?

As mothers, we seem to have the whole "mother's intuition" thing down pretty well.  We know what each cry means or what each facial expressional represents.  I wake at the same times every night because I know my baby is about to cry out for me.  Before my daughter was born, I wondered if I would simply grasp these mom skills overnight.  In the past months, I've had time to reflect on the bond I have with this little girl.  I know her inside and out.  Today, however, I swear our roles were slightly reversed, and it made me think....

Do our little ones have baby's intuition???

I gave Emma a bath this morning.  I hate doing this when my husband isn't home because it's a little difficult for me to get her up and out of the bathtub.  We manage; it's just easier if he can pick her up for me.  Alas, she needed a bath.  :-)  She splashed and kicked the water all over me (as usual), and I got her out, dried, and dressed just fine.  She was happy.  As we walked through the kitchen, our dog (Bad, Bad Leroy Brown) told me he wanted a treat.  Yes, he really does tell me when he wants a treat.  With Emma in my right arm, I bent down to pull out a few Milkbones from the cabinet and somehow pulled a muscle in my left shoulder.  It hurt.  BAD.  It still does, but this morning just flat out sucked.  I could hardly move.  To top it off, someone decided to turn on a blender in my stomach.  I felt terrible.

I swear Emma knew what I needed.  It's as if she looked at me and said, "It's OK, Mommy.  Let's just take a nap."  I managed to maneuver us into a somewhat comfortable position on the couch, and we fell asleep.  Her naps during the day usually last 5-20 minutes each.  Today, she slept for almost 2 hours.  This means, I got to sleep too.  I needed it.  I really did feel better.

I think she knew I wasn't feeling well and wanted to make things easier for me.  :-)  Baby's Intuition?  Maybe.

I love this little girl.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Postpartum Insomnia Continued

Last month, I wrote about my postpartum insomnia.  That particular post still receives about 30 views a day.  Obviously, there are other moms searching for answers and advice in this area, so I want to follow up and share what has helped me.  If you are new to my blog and would like to read the original post, click here.

First of all, I want to reiterate how terrible postpartum insomnia can be.  Trying to care for a new baby on little to no sleep (for weeks and even months) takes a toll on your mental state.  If you're dealing with this, you are certainly not alone.  It's awful.  Out of desperation, I was typing "postpartum insomnia" into every search engine I could find and reading every article that would pop up in the results.  I knew I didn't want to use sleeping pills and wanted to find another "cure".

I really didn't find any straightforward method for fixing the problem, but I did find a common theme among the women who had overcome the issue.  One way or another, they were able to sleep for the first time.  After that first night of sleep, it got easier.

This is what I did:

I completely broke down.  I asked my husband for help and stood over his shoulder as he read my original insomnia post.  I don't think he had a clue.  He knew I wasn't sleeping and that it was bothering me, but he didn't realize how crazy it was making me.  That night, we put the baby to bed, and he stayed up long enough for me to fall asleep.  Because I knew he was awake and available to care for the baby should she wake up, I was able to relax (kind of) and eventually fall asleep.  It did take a few hours, but eventually it happened.  Yes, I had to wake up at the slightest noise from the monitor, but it didn't matter because I had finally gotten a few hours of sleep.  It took a couple of weeks to get used to sleeping through the night, but it was much easier after breaking the cycle.  For a while, I still had difficulty when I would first go to bed, and I would wake at the softest sound or movement, but it really did get better.  I now sleep pretty well.  I wake when the baby wakes, but I no longer freak out every time I hear her turn her head or take a deep breath.

My advice is to simply do whatever you have to do to get one good night of sleep.  Have your partner take over for a night, hire a babysitter, ask a family member or friend to help, try sleeping pills, meditate before bed, pray, whatever you need to do, do it.  Once you have that first night out of the way, it should get better.

Amazon Package Contained Cockroaches!

I've been anxiously awaiting a particular package from Amazon and was delighted when my husband brought it home for me this morning.  Emma's new toys had finally arrived!  I sat down next to her on the floor, she on her playmat, and began opening the first box while explaining to Emma that she had a fun, new toy to play with.  Imagine my disgust when large cockroaches fell onto the floor as I pulled out the packaging!!!

Never mind the fact that I'm horribly terrified of bugs; they fell on the floor!!  Next to my baby!  AND the toy inside the box had been exposed to them.  Yuck, yuck, yuck!

I realize cockroaches love cardboard, but I never would have even thought to be weary of them being inside a package that contained a baby toy.

Be careful opening your packages.  

Monday, November 8, 2010

Emma in Dr. Suess Clothes

I just recently discovered Dr. Suess clothes.  I'm slightly (or more than slightly) obsessed with Dr. Suess and am excited for Emma to be learning his stories already!  :-)  I think she likes them just as much as I do.  When I went to Dillard's last week, I hit the jackpot of Dr. Suess sleepers.  I'm sure there will be more Dr. Suess pictures to come.  I wonder if she can hold a book by herself....

DIY Ideas for Jazzing Up The Nursery

When I started planning our daughter's nursery, I knew immediately what I wanted.  I just didn't quite know how to get it.  We were on a tight budget, but I wanted her to have a room fit for a princess.  I have always loved decorating and creating projects, so I knew I would have to make things myself if my vision were to become a reality.  Naturally, we would have loved to spend tons of money making her little room perfect, but I think it's pretty cute, and we really only splurged on one thing... the bedding.

As inspiration for the entire room, I started with the baby bedding.  I didn't really start putting her room together (or making my husband build things) until late into my pregnancy, but I found her bedding within the first few months.  I simply fell in love with the classic florals, polka dots, and stripes.  It was everything I had imagined.  However, it was expensive.  I continued shopping around for similar yet cheaper bedding but just didn't love anything else.  I talked with my husband, and we decided we would splurge a little on that one particular item.  Everything else would have to be super cheap or created by us.  Luckily, since I found the bedding early on, I was able to stalk the price for months until it went on sale!!  We ended up getting almost $200 of the original price.  Once I had the bedding in my hands, I was able to start the little things that would complete her room.  

The Inspiration:

First Project:  Letters

I've seen these letters used in many nurseries.  They're so easy to decorate and hang.  This is what I did...
  1. Buy (or cut) plain, wooden letters from a craft store or convenience store.  I bought plain, white letters in the craft section at WalMart because they were the cheapest.  
  2. Use craft paint/wood paint to decorate!  Again, the bedding was my inspiration, so I continued with the flowers, polka dots, and stripes.  For the "A", I needed to incorporate a little more green but didn't want to repeat a pattern.  I went with blocks because I felt it was a solid conclusion since the "E" had thick stripes.  
  3. Add ribbon!  I always save ribbon and had this pink ribbon in my craft box.  If I had bought some, I probably would have gone with a thicker, more prominent type, but this worked just fine.  I cut the pieces, tied them into bows, and dropped a tiny bit of wood glue on the back of each letter where the ribbon met the wood.  
  4. Obviously, the ribbon wouldn't be strong enough to hold the letters while hanging on the wall (as they were only glued on), so I used the built in nail holes on the letters to hang them.  Then, I hammered a tiny nail into the knot on each bow to make it look as though the ribbons were actually hanging from the wall.  

Second Project:  Bookshelf

This isn't a very good picture, but this is the bookshelf I painted to coordinate with the wooden letters.  We weren't able to purchase additional furniture for Emma's room, so I decided to recycle an old bookshelf we had planned to get rid of.
  1. Find an old piece of furniture.  I used an old $10 bookshelf from Walmart (college apartment decor).   :-)
  2. Sand it down.
  3. Paint a base color.  We had paint left over that had been used in the house, and since I wanted a white crib, it worked.
  4. Decorate!  You can paint specific designs, quotes, use stickers, or whatever else you like.  I wanted the shelves to match the letters, so I kept with the floral and polka dots. 
  5. Since we went with a classic, vintage looking bedding, I was able to use keepsakes and toys from my childhood to decorate the shelves.  
Third Project:  Accent Pillows

We knew the futon would need to stay in the nursery for visitors, but it didn't match anything in the room.  Futon covers are expensive, so I simply found a fitted sheet for a few dollars and used it as a new "futon cover".  It actually pulls the room together by balancing out our green accent wall.  However, I needed accent pillows.  
  1. Buy pillows at a craft store or use accent pillows from your house.
  2. Choose fabric.  I found this quilter's fabric on sale at Walmart.  It goes well with the bedding on the opposite side of the room.  
  3. Sew!  I don't have a sewing machine and could have done it by hand but sought the help of a friend.  There are many different ways to make pillow cases, but these are simple and easy to clean.  They're made with an open side, just like pillow cases for bed pillows.  You don't even have to worry about zippers or buttons.  However, you could use buttons to jazz up your pillows even more.  
Fourth Project:  Wall Art

This is kind of embarrassing to post; I'm not the best painter.  I can draw and thought it would translate into painting.  It didn't work out as well as planned, but I still used the pieces. 

I found some beautiful painted canvases online and used some of the elements as inspiration for these.  I love birds and wanted to incorporate a little more blue to bring out the tiny bits of blue in the bedding.  You could do any type of wall art and create your own, but for these, I just used canvas paper from a pad.  I would have loved to have painted a mural directly on the wall.
  1. Think of a design or find a design to use as a model.
  2. Choose your type and size of canvas or fabric.
  3. Paint a picture, scene, image, or text.
  4. Take a razor blade or scissors and cut 4 small slits in each corner.
  5. Take some spare ribbon (again, I just had this sitting around the house) and cut a rather long piece.
  6. Pull the ribbon (from the back) through one of the bottom slits and create a knot.  Leave as much ribbon hanging from the bottom as you like.
  7. Pull the remaining ribbon (from the back) through the top slit on the same side.
  8. Tie a large bow with the ribbon at the top.
  9. Take the remaining ribbon and repeat the process of pulling through the slits in the other side.  
  10. There are different ways to hang these, but you don't want to simply hang it from the ribbon or the canvas will pull in the middle or corners.  I used a small nail to hang the ribbon and used Scotch removable stick-ups on the corners of the canvas to attach the actual canvas to the wall.  
Again, these are just some examples of how to fix up your nursery for less money.  If you're looking for  a dresser, try buying a kit where you can build it yourself.  Yes, it is a pain, but it's MUCH cheaper than buying ready assembled.  Also, if you're wanting shelves on the walls, try making your own or buying the pieces from a Home Depot.  

Hope you've found some tips to help with your nursery!  

Update: The Lady Who Insulted My Kid

Last week, I was upset after a shopping trip with my daughter and blogged about it.  If you didn't catch that post, a sales associate at the Dillards in Flagstaff inadvertently insulted my baby.

After thinking about it and letting the situation get me unnecessarily angry, I filed a complaint with Dillards.  The complaint was then forwarded to the manager of the Flagstaff store.  I was quite pleased with the response time and reaction from the manager.

She sincerely apologized for my experience and tried her best to rectify the situation.  I'm not one to complain to companies, but I think there was a positive outcome here.  I received comments about the previous post on my blog and on Facebook and appreciate the feedback, but want you all to know that the response from Dillards was great.  I will shop there again.  :-)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Losing the Baby Weight: Part 1

On October 23, I started the following post:

I was going to wait until I had actually lost some of the baby weight before blogging about it.  I wanted to share words of wisdom and the miraculous trick that will work for everyone.... Hahahahahahaha, it's only the first day of my top secret diet plan.  I'm writing because I'm craving sweets and absolutely CANNOT cave!

Hopefully, I'll have more posts to come regarding tips for losing weight.  For now, we'll just start with analyzing the term "baby weight."  Let's get real.  The weight isn't because of the baby.  It's because we indulge in the delight of unnecessary, editable treats throughout our pregnancies and (if you're anything like me) after the baby is born.  Being pregnant is the best excuse in the world to eat as much of whatever you want.  :-)  I did gain quite a bit of weight in my pregnancy, but thankfully lost about 14lbs in the beginning.  It ended up balancing out.  Immediately following the birth was the worst part for me.

I had to have an emergency c-section.  All of my plans for wearing Spanx everyday and compressing the remnants of my baby belly flew straight out the window.  Wearing compression garments after the birth is supposed to help shrink your uterus back to size (or so I've heard).  I was also going to walk everyday, right away.  Well, you're quite sore after a c-section, especially when you refuse to take your pain pills.  Even with the soreness, if you still try to get in some physical activity, like I did, you might overdo it.... like I did.  Plus, I had a terrible time breastfeeding, my daughter was starving for days and lost too much weight, I felt inexplicable guilt, blah, blah, blah.  Eventually, I conceded.  I gave up.  I just wanted to spend time with her and stop obsessing with the weight all the time.  It had only been a couple weeks.  I would get there....

Today, November 6:

While I was writing that first post, my computer freaked out and I thought I had lost everything I had typed.  Annoyed, I closed my laptop and started doing something else.  Well, I just found the draft and have been thinking about this quite a bit.  A friend of mine is trying to shed some pounds and get healthy as well, and I'm realizing so many of us deal with the same issues.  I've struggled with my weight since I was a child, but my pregnancy has been the biggest factor in my size to date.  I'm the heaviest I've EVER been, and I can't just get rid of it like I used to.  For all of my thin, pregnant friends out there, if you've never had weight issues, you're probably not going to balloon up after your pregnancy.  Don't worry too much.  You'll probably have some evidence of a stretched uterus, but for the most part, your body should go back to normal.  Regardless of what some skinny people want to believe, some of this stuff is just genetic and reinforced by the environments in which we are raised.

I'm not making excuses or saying it's the fault of those large, intimidating German and Dutch ancestors of mine that I'm fat.  I'm saying genetics play a role, hereditary traits (depression, anxiety), learned eating habits, traumatic situations, all of these things factor into how we take care of our bodies.  It's going to be more difficult for me to lose this weight when I'm predisposed to being this way.  Soo... my point... if you're freaking out about losing the baby weight or just losing weight in general, you're not alone.

I'm going to try to be honest (inspired by a dear friend) about this struggle and write about it.  I definitely did cave on my first attempt at dieting (2 days after the first draft above was written), but I'm starting over.  In order to combat my obsession with food, I need to confront it head on and be honest for the first time in my life.  Some of my stories will shock my family and friends, but I hope the things I share can help another mom out there who is battling the same demons.

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Yea, she has kind of a big head." ~ PUNCH!

I'm going to need people to think before they speak.  Stop telling me I have a big baby.  I'm sick of hearing it.  I get it.  She's big.  She's also super cute and perfectly healthy.

I had honestly forgotten how big my kid is until yesterday.  I was confronted with it all day.  "Oh, your baby is so cute!  How old is she??  (pause) Wow, she's big!"  Yep....

Then, Emma and I encountered the be all and end all of rude comments while shopping for a Christmas dress at Dillards.  I had found the perfect dress.  It's so pretty and makes Emma's eyes pop.  The cashier asked if we were ready to check out and directed us toward the cash register.  That in itself was an obstacle course.  One would think stores would make room for strollers in the baby section.  Seriously.  Anyway, the lady was trying to make casual conversation like cashiers always do.  I was a cashier once; I know how it goes.  I, however, NEVER would have insulted a customer's child.

Cashier:  "Oh, this is such a pretty dress!"
Me:  "Yea, I hope it fits.  Thinking about getting her Christmas pictures taken."
Cashier:  "Yea, she has kind of a big head."

What???  Are you kidding me?  I was paying for clothes in her store, maybe she shouldn't have been so rude.  Just a thought.  Of course, she caught herself and tried to salvage the conversation with a "...but she's so cute."  I wasn't having it.  I simply informed her that she didn't need to try to compliment my child, grabbed my bag, and fought my way through the racks of clothes.

My daughter does have a large head, but I don't need anyone to point it out to me.  If the cashier would have looked at Emma, she would have seen that her head is proportionate to her chubby body.  :o)  I don't understand why people think it's OK to criticize babies.  Do they not realize that as the mothers of these babies, we think they're perfect and take horrible offense to anyone who tells us otherwise?  Please, for the sake of everyone else, think before you speak.

Protective Instincts... a Bull and a Drunkard

If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you know that my husband, daughter, and I live on the Navajo reservation.  It takes at least 2 and half hours to get to town, and since part of that is over a horribly bumpy, dirt road (and the kid gets car sick), we don't go as often as I would like.  Yesterday, however, little Emma and I wanted to get out of the house and run some errands.  Soo... we got up early, prepared for a long day away from home, and headed out.

I don't mind driving on the dirt road when it's dry and the sun is shining.  It's actually quite therapeutic in a weird way.  Yes, the incessant shaking of the car, loud sounds as the tires climb through the holes and bumps, and seemingly unending length of the road are enough to drive one absolutely crazy.  However, there is a peacefulness to be found in the landscape and solitude.  I was actually enjoying the time away. Emma was asleep, and I was finally able to escape into my favorite tunes.

There we were, about halfway through the dirt as I saw cows in the distance.  I slowed, as I have a hundred times before, to let them finish crossing, but this time was different.  I noticed the rather large, intimidating bull at the rear of the group had stopped walking.  He was looking intently at my Trailblazer.   I thought it was weird but slowed to almost a stop and planned to wait him out.  Then, I noticed he wasn't looking at my car after all.  He was looking at me.  We made eye contact.  Once I realized we were staring at each other, I saw that he was angry.  As I began to process that he was preparing to CHARGE AT MY CAR, a million things flooded threw my mind....

... My baby was in her car seat behind me.  If he charged, he would undoubtedly hurt me, but maybe she would be ok???  But what if he killed me?  What if he hurt me so badly that I couldn't tend to her?  We would have been stuck out there in the middle of nowhere....

In the split second that the ginormous bull jumped at us (literally), I slammed on the gas pedal.  I didn't know what to do.  If it were to come down to a fight between the bull and me, he would have won.  Thank God, the unexpected lurching of the car frightened him.  He jumped backward and ran right into another cow.  I didn't see anything after that.  We were gone.

My heart was pounding, I could hardly catch my breath, and I did what I always do when I'm terrified.  I called my mom.  :-)  The whole situation got me thinking about our instinct to protect our children and families.  If the bull had charged me and Emma hadn't been in the car, I might have frozen in panic.  I might not have acted quickly enough.  Because I had to protect her, I managed to do something.  I protected my daughter just as I'm sure the bull was attempting to protect his family.

Needless to say, we had an eventful morning.  The day was productive and enjoyable, but I encountered another one of those "protective instinct" things on the way home.  Once again, we were traveling down the dirt road, but this time it was in pitch black darkness.  Obviously, there are no lights.  The dirt was so dry that the dust being kicked up by cars blurred my vision.  I'm used to this.  I've driven in it before.  I can still usually spot the animals by the glare of my headlights in their eyes.  I was a little tense as I drove but not worried.  We were almost home when I sped up to pass a very slow car.  The dust from our 2 cars and the truck far ahead was pretty thick, but it was manageable.  I thought.  Apparently, it wasn't manageable for the drunk guy stumbling toward me.  Did I mention it was PITCH BLACK OUTSIDE??!  What the hell was he doing?  Why on earth would he be walking into traffic with his head down??  How did he expect me to see him?  Sooo... yea.  I almost killed a guy.

I swerved, but my daughter was in the car.  If I had swerved any more, we would have gone off the road and possibly crashed.  Sorry, buddy.  If I have to choose between crashing with my daughter in the car and running you over, I'm definitely choosing the second option.

I missed him by maybe 2".  Again, it made me think about the things we do to protect our kids.  I was seriously more OK with hitting that man than trying to avoid it at even the slightest risk of my daughter being hurt.

It was definitely an interesting day....  Maybe I should stay away from the dirt road for a while.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So This is What a Clean House is Like...

Huh....  My house is clean.  The entire house is clean.  I usually just keep the front area somewhat picked up in the event a visitor should drop by, but having every room clean is something that has never happened before.

My husband and I live on a reservation, and since we are not of the native population, we have to live on the school district's housing compound.  The houses are decent, and the rent is super cheap.  The only downfall (I used to think) is the fact that maintenance and security employees have the ability to walk into our houses at any time.  Honestly, I like to believe this doesn't happen aside from our yearly housing inspections, but I've heard stories stating otherwise.  Regardless, I knew the inspection was coming, and the  "down home Indiana" girl in me did not want anyone walking around my messy house... so I cleaned.  And cleaned.  And cleaned.

All of this cleaning has caused me to learn, believe it or not.  I have spent the past 2 or 3 days cleaning every nook and cranny of my house which has prohibited me from spending every waking second playing with my daughter.  I didn't like that part, but once I was finished, I was able to enjoy our time together even more.  :-)  The time we share now is different.  I'm not constantly thinking about how much I need to be cleaning; I have little else to worry about.  I can focus solely on my daughter.  It's wonderful.

I'm still in a state of disbelief regarding how clean our house is, but it's so relaxing to have a tidy living space. I never really found it important before.  I'm not saying I let my kid live in a bacteria infested death trap, but there has always been a little clutter around.  With this newly found cleanliness, relief, and worry-free time with my little girl, I think I've found a new way of life.  I truly think I'll keep my house clean from now on.  A cleaner house is a happier house.   : )

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Fun with Mommy!

I always forget about "Wordless Wednesday" until after I've already written a post.  Oh well...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sometimes It Just Has to Get Worse Before It Gets Better

Sometimes, we get ourselves into situations where we don't even know how to begin to dig ourselves out.  It almost always will get worse before it gets better, but we have to jump in and start somewhere.

What am I talking about?  Cleaning the master bedroom, of course.  Since the last month or so of my pregnancy, I have completely let that room go.  At nine months pregnant, I was too ginormous to clean that horrible room.  After the c-section and having a newborn to take care of, I didn't have the energy.  Then... I don't know what happened.  The bedroom seemed to take on a mind of its own.  It was out of control; I didn't know where to start; so I just ignored it.  What's the point of keeping it clean anyway?  We only sleep in there.  : )  

Every night before I would try to go to bed, I would stare at the piles and piles of clothes waiting to be put away.  I would think about how disgusting the room was and how terrified I was to clean it.  The mess was the first thing I saw when I got up in the mornings, and I would think the same things again and again.  Until today.  I got up this morning, fed the kid, and just... started.  I didn't know where to begin, and honestly, it didn't matter, so I just started where I stood and worked my way around.  I managed to make the rest of the house look worse as the bedroom looked better, but I'm finally finished.  It only took the ENTIRE day, but my husband and I can retire to a clean room with no clutter.  I can be confident in the middle of the night that I won't trip over random objects scattered about the floor when my daughter cries.  I finally fought the beast that was our bedroom, and I won.  Perhaps it was my desire to make a change, confront the last remaining smudge in a decently clean house; perhaps it was me realizing I needed to kick myself into gear.  Perhaps... or most definitely... it was the yearly housing inspection in our rented house.  Hah.  

I do, however, think this is true to life.  Sometimes, we get ourselves into places where we just have to start somewhere, push ourselves to make it better, and be ok with the fact that things will most definitely get worse before they start to look up.  Sometimes, it takes some sort of kick in the rear to get us going.  My kick was the house inspection.  Whatever the motivation is, it's just a physical representation of what we already feel.  Maybe things don't even get worse before they get better.  Maybe we're just so sick of being in a bad place that we begin to appreciate the small changes.  I don't know... but I'm glad the bedroom is clean.  : )