Monday, September 28, 2009

A Few More of My Favorite Things

It's been awhile since I did one of these posts. I always love seeing these on other blogs, so here goes.

1) Barilla whole wheat pastas.

Will loves pasta. This is a good way to serve him pasta without feeling guilty about it. You can find these at pretty much any mainstream grocery store.

2) Deceptively Delicious cookbook.

I think I have posted on this before, but now that Will is eating more "Big Kid" food, I am really enjoying a lot of the recipes in this book. A nice side bonus is that my husband (a notorious veggie-hater) is even eating more vegetables. . . and he doesn't even know it! Some of my favorites (and Will's, of course) are the applesauce muffins, chicken nuggets, green eggs, and the meatball soup. Even if you don't follow the recipes exactly, there are good ideas that you can use in other recipes (I now stir purees into almost anything, from boxed mac & cheese to spaghetti sauces to pancakes).

3) Disposable stick on place mats.

This is something that I probably would have made fun of someone for having pre-baby. But now that Will is sitting and eating at restaurants, I have to say that I really love my adhesive place mats. I actually found mine at Tar.get for a lot less than listed here, but couldn't find the link. You can actually get these for free at certain restaurants, but you can never count on it, and if you really look at the tables at restaurants. especially on the side and underneath, where they tend to chew and grab. . . ew.

4) The BEST diaper ointment ever.

I really seriously cannot believe that I haven't posted about this before. It is not the least expensive option, but it WORKS. It leaves a great scent and it stays on the skin for a long time. I love it. It is so worth it. Diaper rash has not been a problem for us since I started using it.

5) Extended-wear/overnight diapers.

These aren't perfect, we have still had some leaks, but not nearly as many as when he was wearing his normal diapers. They are more expensive, but using only one per night, saving on laundry, and not having a soaked-through Little Man at 3 AM. . . priceless!

6) Take n' Toss stuff.

First off, it's clearly a price advantage to purchase these take and toss spoons, forks, cups, etc. You can get a twelve pack of spoons for $2.97. It would cost three or four times that to get those little Ger.ber ones. And if you lose these or don't want to take a dirty one home, well, don't worry about it.

7) Suction, divided, covered plates/dishes.

I could not find a link to the exact ones that I have. I got mine at Tar.get for $4 for a three-pack. These are close, but more expensive. I use these ALL of the time, not just for travel (though that's why the cover is genius), but at home, too.

8) Miracle cream.

You know how the dad in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" thought Wind.ex could cure anything? Well, I am like that with this stuff. Will has a pimple? Aqua.phor. Will gets a scratch? Aqua.phor. I have chapped lips? Aqua.phor. The moon reverses the tides and he is fussy? Aqua.phor. Okay, maybe not that last one, but for reals, this stuff is freakin' amazing. We buy the BIG tub at Tar.get.

So. . . what are your favorite things? Either comment here or put a post of your own up and let me know so I can check it out. I will add a link to this post so that we can all find out each others' favorite stuff.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Inquiring Minds. . .

With the feeling of fall in the air, I find myself with the following questions. . .

1) When can Will have a blanket in his crib?

Right now, he sleeps with two very small, stuffed "lovies" and a small square of a blanket that doesn't even cover his tummy. During the warm, summer months, I dressed him in lightweight jammies. Now that the air is getting brisk, I am using blanket sleepers, but I still worry about him getting a chill. When can he use a blanket?

2) With holiday travel in our near future, what is a good option for a travel bed?

Has anyone used one of these to travel with? We have a standard sized pack n' play, but it doesn't fit in the tight space that we stay at when we are at my in-laws or my parents' houses. Also, it is cumbersome to lug the big ol' pack n' play around, and this sounds like it might be a more space-saving option, especially if we ever get brave enough to travel by airplane. If you have any other small travel bed ideas, or experience with this one in particular, PLEASE leave them for me in the comments section.

3) What toddler-friendly, make-ahead, economical, easy meals do you make during the fall and winter time?

I have a lot of great recipes that I am excited to make, but I am always eager to learn more. Again, please leave in the comments section. As a thank you in advance, here is one of MY favorites. I love it because you can prep it all the night before or the morning of. It just sits in the crock pot all day and makes the house smell like your grandma came over and is making dinner. It is "fancy" enough to serve for guests, but "homey" enough to make for just any old weeknight dinner. This time of year, most grocery stores have really good deals on the cream soups and roast meat cuts so you can stock up and make this recipe really affordable.

BEEF POTROAST RECIPE (CROCKPOT)

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen onions

1 (8-ounce) bag frozen baby carrots

1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms

1/2 pound small new potatoes, halved

4 pounds beef chuck roast, rinsed and patted dry

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup*

1 packet onion soup mix

1 cup low-sodium beef broth

1/4 cup steak sauce

Into a slow cooker, put the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes.

Season the roast with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the meat on all sides in oil. When it is browned, put it in the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.

In a small bowl, stir together the cream of celery soup, onion soup mix, beef broth, and steak sauce. Pour over top of roast. Cover and cook on high setting for 3 to 4 hours or low for 8 to 9 hours.

*I have used cream of mushroom soup and added some diced celery and it tasted almost exactly the same and was a little less expensive.

4) Baby needs new shoes.

Will hates to have shoes on his little feet. He does love to pull them off, though. We have a lot of right shoes and a lot of left shoes, but not a lot of pairs since I don't always see him pull them off. I'll be honest, during the summer months, especially before he was walking, I kind of let it go. Now that he is walking around and it is getting colder outside, he needs to have shoes on. P So, give me some good toddler shoe ideas. I am willing to spend a bit more for good quality shoes that he can walk easily in and not pry off, but I don't want to spend a fortune if we can help it (especially if he does lose them).

I think that's it. Thank you for your advice!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wanted: WAHM

When I didn't get moved to the next phase of the Verity Mom selection process, M asked if I was "done" looking for a job for awhile.

I said, "No."

See, the thing is, we don't need the money. We are comfortable, we are able to pay all of our bills, and we even have a bit of extra for fun things like dinners out and trips to the fair.

It's not about the money, although a little extra certainly wouldn't hurt. What I want from a job is that feeling that I got last week when I was campaigning. I loved the "zing" of excitement that came from doing something that I enjoyed. I loved the outlet for my creativity, the passion that I had for blending motherhood with a career, and the self-satisfaction from doing something that I felt successful at.

I don't ever regret the fact that I didn't go back to my job at J&J. It would have been very difficult for me to be the type of mom that I want to be and the type of employee that I had been. While I know I would have found my way, as millions of other working moms do each and every day, I know that feeling so torn would have been very difficult for me. If I had gone back, I know I would have resented the travel, the amount of time I was away from Will. Although I worked from a home office, I was really not working "from home." My job required me to be out in the field all day, and I was often not home until after 10 PM, taking clients to dinner, hosting programs, or trying to get into difficult to see departments that would be less busy at night. If I was home, I was on conference calls or on the phone with clients, so it wouldn't have been quality time with Will. I know that many women have to work, but since I don't have to, I know it was the right choice for me, for our family, to stay at home.

I do love being at home. I love being with Will. I love the fact that I get to see all of his firsts. I love the close bond that I have with him. I am thankful for this amazing opportunity to have so much time with my son. That being said, I really do believe that there is time left in my day for me to find an outlet for my professional side, my creativity, my passion, my sales and marketing background. I am finding that easier said than done.

It is difficult to find a work from home position. First, there are a ton of "work at home" scams out there. I feel as if I am pretty saavy, but I have been duped by more than a few ads that seemed promising and ended up not panning out. I actually got that ad sales job, and it was legitimate, but it was also a really crappy job and when they started haggling over my commission, I realized it wasn't worth my time. I know any job is going to have it's downsides, but it also needs to have an upside to be worth it.

Today, I got offered a job working for an at-home call center. I was all excited. It paid a reasonable hourly amount, even for training. In six months, I would qualify for benefits and a raise. I was about to accept, when the person on the other end of the phone mentioned the 10 hour shifts. As I had applied for part time only work (which stated shifts no longer than 4 hours), this was a bit of a surprise. The lady apologized and said she would put my name back in the hopper for part time work, but that those shifts are few and far between.

Sigh.

Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When Good Naps Go Bad

2 - 1 Nap Transition.

How did you handle it?

What advice do you have?

Help. . . please.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Memorial Monday

It's been awhile since I have had the honor of posting a Memorial Monday on the good ol' blog. Please keep sending them my way . . . you can find my e-mail in my profile. Please do not forget to comment and show your love and support.

And, Lisa, I just want you to know that your baby is important and not just a "little miscarriage." I have grieved as much for my chemical pregnancies as I have for my sweet Gummy Bear. I don't think a mother's heart measures its love in terms of time. Please let me know when you start your own blog so that I can link to it, and also, maybe you could do a Memorial Monday for me.

Dear Katie,

My name is Lisa and I just found your blog on Friday. Friday is the day I miscarried my first baby at 14 weeks, 2 days. My friend told me about your blog.

I started reading it Friday night. And I kept reading and reading and reading. I cried, I laughed, I got angry for you, I celebrated with you. It took me all weekend (not all at once, of course) to read your entire blog, from start to finish. When I first got to the Monday posts, I didn't really think I would ever send mine in to you, because each post was sadder than the one before it. I didn't feel like one little miscarriage would count the same as all of those women with their really sad stories.

But then I thought some more about it and figured I would let you decide if you thought my one baby was worth mentioning. I would appreciate it if you would, but I also understand if you don't. I kind of think you will, though, because we both think each life is important. I am thinking about starting my own blog and hope you don't mind if I steal the idea of Memorial Monday from you.

Thank you blogging, for letting people know they aren't alone. I see that you don't get as many comments as you used to, but I'll bet a lot of people still go back and read your old entries and get comfort from them. I know that's what I did.

Thank you,

Lisa S.




Thank You

I just wanted to post here, thanking everyone again for their support as I campaigned to be the Verity Mom. It was an amazing experience and one that I would do again (although I would have preferred a different outcome, to be sure). The comments that I got from readers here, from my IRL friends, and from my family brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.

I feel as if I did my best, and there is never anything to regret when you do that. So, I gave myself 15 minutes to feel sorry of myself (14 of those have passed as I type this) and that's it.

I guess that's the "best" thing about infertility. It has taught me to keep things in perspective. Of course I am disappointed, but it's just that: a disappointment. There will be other opportunities in my future and I can't wait to find out what life holds in store for me!

And, no matter what else, I have an absolutely amazing, gorgeous, wonderful Little Man, who says, "oooooh, eggs!" when I put them on his tray in the morning (trying to get it on video, trust me). And thinks that I am the best mom in the world. That is what really matters!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall Family Fun Friday


Last year, when Will was just 10 weeks old, I took him here.

This is one of the best pumpkin patches I have ever been to, and I have been to my share. It is small enough so as not to be overwhelming, but big enough to have a lot of different things to do with the kiddos. There is a barn with animals, a huge pumpkin patch (they even have a tour of the patch and wheelbarrows to help with your selection), a general store where you can buy produce and baked goods, and some fun photo ops. It's also 100% free, which you have got to love!

I can't wait to take him back this year! I love the fall and I love that Halloween is the kick off to all of the holiday festivities!

Want to join in the fun? Go here to see all of the Fall Family Fun Friday blogs!

Walk Like A Man

So, Will took his first steps. He is so proud of himself. And we are so proud of him. It is a source of endless fun and pride for us to sit feet apart from each other and have him walk between us.

This clip might make you kind of dizzy, but it's best to see for yourself how proud we all are of his latest skill!

video

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why I Love Blogging

Do you know why I love blogging? There are too many reasons to count, but right at the top of the list is the amazing support that I get from people that I have never truly "met," and yet would count as a friend. And hopefully, you feel the same about me.

There have been so many times that I have reached out to this community and it always gives back. I also love being able to return the favor. That, my friends, is why I love blogging.

So, for those of you that have linked to my application page on your blog, left comments here and at my application page, and sent me supportive e-mails, THANK YOU. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. It means so much to me.

Oh, and I answered this to the person that sent me the e-mail already, but in case anyone else is wondering, I definitely am going to continue blogging here if I am lucky enough to be chosen as the Verity Mom.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Happy Day

After so much heartbreak, tomorrow is finally going to be a happy day.

Please go over and give your thoughts and love to Kathy, Sean, Bob, Molly, and Baby Girl Benson. This is truly one of the most loving and wonderful families that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Baby Girl is going to be one lucky Little Lady to have them as her family.

Shaping the Future of Verity

There are a lot (34, to be exact) extremely qualified and talented candidates for the Verity Mom job. I don't really know how much of a shot I really have. I like what I've put together for my application, I feel as if it accurately reflects the type of mom and blogger that I am. I know that I have the passion, dedication, and experience to make one heck of a great Mommy blogger for Verity. Then, I look at all of the other amazing moms, and know that each of them bring something unique to the table and there really isn't a bad choice to fill this role.

No matter who wins, I truly believe that the role of Verity Mom will be shaped not only by the individual who holds the title, but the community of readers that contribute their comments, ideas, and spirit. It is the readers that will truly drive the content, because if they aren't seeing things of interest to them, then the whole idea won't really get off the ground.

So, what would you like to see in the Verity Mom blog? What topics interest you, financial and otherwise?

For me, these are some topics that come up again and again as a mom and wife:
  • Financial planning, college savings plans, etc.
  • Estate planning, wills, and trusts.
  • Meal planning, grocery shopping, and eating out on a budget
  • Fun family outings and places to go that are either cheap or, even better, free
  • Baby, toddler, kid, and tween to teen gear deals
  • And, of course, good deals on things for Mom and Dad. . . from shoes to restaurants!
These are just some ideas, a springboard of sorts. Let me hear from you! And please don't forget to leave a comment on my application page!

Thanks again!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cookie Pie Recipe

To my regular readers, I apologize for taking over this blog with my Verity Mom application stuff. I just know that I would be really good for this position and it would be so nice to bring in some extra income.

To those of you just stopping by for the first time, Welcome! I can't wait to get to know you better!

I have posted yet another one of my videos here. If I am lucky enough to become the Verity Mom, I would love to do a weekly posting on good ideas for budget and family-friendly meals, snacks, and desserts. Cooking at home is a great way to save money. . . and if you have extra money, why not put it in a Verity Savings Account? See. . .

Here is the recipe for Cookie Pie:

1 unbaked 9-inch (4 cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 sticks of softened butter
1 cup (6 oz.) semi-sweet or milk chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees F.
BEAT eggs in large bowl on high speed until foamy.
BEAT in flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.
BEAT in butter.
STIR in morsels and (optional) nuts.
SPOON into pie shell.
BAKE for 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean.
COOL for at least 20 - 30 minutes prior to serving.
SERVE warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Makes EIGHT servings.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Skinny

I have had a lot of questions about the Verity Mom application process and how you can help.

Basically, this week is about me getting my application filed (done), and then getting people to go and comment on it (that's where you come in). Go check out my video and then leave a comment showing your support for my campaign. If you wouldn't mind, you can also post about this on your blogs and direct people my way.

After that, it's all in the hands of the fine people at Verity Credit Union. They select the Top Three Applicants out of the pool of 34 very qualified candidates. Those finalists are announced next Monday morning, September 21, at 9 AM.

Then, there is a week of voting. If I am fortunate enough to be selected as a Top Three Finalist, I will need all of the support that I can get with votes. Don't worry, though, I will let you know if I am selected and when to start voting.

So, that's it! Enjoy the campaign video. . . oh, and for those wondering why my face is the only one that looks like I'm in a police line up, it's because they haven't added my "glamor shot" to my profile. Yeah, I can't wait for that, either!

Dream Job

The new button to the left indicates my newest venture. I want to be the Verity Mom.

I love blogging and I feel as if I am pretty darn good at it. I love blogging here, because this is where it all began, there is where my blogging roots are planted. I love our community and I like being here, not only to give you glimpses of Little Man, but also to show my support for the friends that I found during my journey.

I love blogging at our family blog, because it's an easy way to keep friends and family updated on Will without me having to send out e-mails. As cute as we think every. single. second of Will's life is, I know that opinion is probably not shared outside of me and my mother-in-law. So, I figure people can check it out when they want an update and not be bothered with a string of e-mails.

So, yeah, I love blogging. But I kinda would like to get paid for it, too. This is an amazing opportunity for me to get to do what I love and get an income from it. And still be at home with Will. It would be a dream come true to get this position.

That being said, the competition is fierce. There are a lot of great moms out there dying for the chance to be the Verity Mom. This is just the first phase and they will select three finalists, which then are voted on by people like you!

So, if I make it to the next phase, I will need your help, starting next week. I am not sure if you can vote just once, every day, or how ever many times you would like. Once I know everything, I will fill in the details and provide a link. In the meantime, if you would like to, I started a Facebook page that you can sign up to be a fan of, by clicking the really large and awkward widget to the left.

Oh, and you can find my application page here. Go ahead, laugh, but I think it captures the essence of me! And if you can, leave me some comments on the application page so that I can feel the love!

I really appreciate all of the help!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The "One"der Years

Now that Will is one, there have been some pretty significant changes in our house.

#1: Eating.

Will has had a healthy appetite from day one. Now that he is a "toddler," he is more finicky. He doesn't eat just anything, and there are meals that he picks or skips altogether. This has been a challenge for me. At first, I would make him several meals, trying to appease his palette. After several meals ended up on the floor, and I asked our pediatrician, I realized that Will eats when he is hungry. When he is not hungry, trying to entice him with "treats" will not work and is counterproductive to allowing him to follow his own bodily needs. It is still tough for me when he doesn't eat dinner. Now that we have cut out his last feed of the night, I feel as if I am sending my kid to bed without supper, and that makes me feel bad. It is what it is, however, and he is not starving by any means.

#2: Discipline.

I am just gonna say it. Disciple is not my strong suit as a parent. I want to strike the right chord of being firm, yet not overdoing it. I do not want a brat, that much I am sure on. But how firm to be, what battles to choose, how to enforce our rules, all of that is a very steep learning curve for me. Any tips on disciplining a young toddler are very much appreciated.

#3: Whiny, clingy.

Will is fairly independent. He can play for long periods of time without my interference and when he wakes from a nap, he has been known to grab books from his shelf and read to himself before "calling" to me to come and get him.

In the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that he is not doing the independent play and reading thing so much. It's hard because I love being with him, but I do want to foster his independence, and I also need to get things done throughout the day, so this whiny-ness is a true challenge.

Okay, now for the positives of having a one year old:

#1: Engaging

Will is so much more engaging and entertaining. He loves doing so many more things. It is fun to take him places, fun to play here at home. It's just fun having a toddler.

#2: No more multiple meals.

He eats what we eat. 'Nuff said.

#3: Oh my gosh, is he sweet.

This kid is a flirt. He loves his mommy, loves to kiss, loves to hug, loves to capture my heart each and every single day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Moments That Define Us

Today, as I was dressing Will, he started to get wiggly and whiny on the changing table. To distract him, I started singing "If You're Happy and You Know It" to him. I have done this countless times since he was born, singing this same silly song, complete with pantomiming the clapping, foot stomping, and shouting hooray (I get pretty into it, if I do say so myself).

As I was launching into another rousing round, Will shocked me by doing not one, but all three verses, complete with his own clapping, foot stomping, and hooray-shouting. I was so surprised that I sang the song again. And he clapped, stomped, and hoorayed right on cue. I gave him kisses and hugs and realized. . .

Hey, I taught him that. I did that. I showed him that. I got to see that.

It was absolutely amazing. It's the moments like these that make me feel like a mother.

What moments define you? What was the first time that you felt like a mom? What was a recent experience that reminded you what being a mom truly meant?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

This Post Is MUCH Better

I was about to blog about something.

I logged in.

And my dashboard popped up.

A post from Christian's mom was listed.

Whatever I was about to post about (I seriously forgot what it was) flittered away as I read about this miracle. . . this little boy going home to his family after a tragedy. As his Mommy wrote. . . "he left home clinically dead and is coming back alive. Just think about that for a second. It's really miraculous..."

It is. A true miracle.

That's not it, either. I think about my dear friend, Kathy, a person that I have never met, not in person anyway. Yet, I feel as if we are sisters. We think so similarly, we blog from our hearts. We have both lost children, we have both endured so much pain, yet experienced so much triumph in the birth of our babies. If you haven't clicked over to Kathy's blog yet, please treat yourself to doing so. She is one of the most amazing women that I have had the pleasure of "meeting."

Another miracle.

Speaking of miracles, here is another one. My sweet friend, Ms. J, had a rough road getting to a "safe place" in her pregnancy. As a fellow multiple-miscarriage survivor, I get it. I get that she isn't embracing this pregnancy as another might. She is starting to feel it, though, I can sense it. Go congratulate her on yet another miracle.

So, yeah. I don't exactly remember what I was going to post about.

But I like this post much, much better.





My husband often gives me a hard time about blogging, about the sad stories that make me cry, the posts that break my heart. Then, I show him the miracles that I get to see, the happy endings to stories that reinforce my faith in God and all that is good in this world. He still doesn't quite "get it."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Need Your Help

So, I am applying for another job (turns out I don't really love cold-calling, surprise, surprise).

This one requires me to submit a video application and then recruit votes for my cause. It's totally legit, just a really cool marketing thing.

I don't usually like to use this blog as a vehicle for making money, but I feel as if this is slightly different, as it is a one-time occurrence.

I will be posting more in the coming days, but if I were to ask for your vote and even ask for you to put a button on your site to direct more votes my way, would you be willing to help?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Taking On the World One Bite At A Time

That's right, folks, we have a biter.

Will has decided that if something happens that he doesn't like (he is "forced" to share a toy, I tell him "no," etc.) then the best way to handle it is by using his teeth.

He has bitten me too many times to count, his father just once, and his best baby friend TWICE.

After extensive consultations with Dr. Google, and a real consultation with our own pediatrician, I have reached the following conclusions:

1) Biting is a normal developmental phase that many kids go through. Like any other forms of communication (crying or pushing), it is a toddler's way of letting you know that they are not happy with a situation.

2) Biting my be "normal," but it is seen as far worse by most parents than something else, like pushing (and I am sure I would feel the same way if my kid was the victim).

3) Biting the kid back is a major no-no, no matter what my parents, my in-laws, and about 50% of the people I talk to about it recommend.

4) He should be over it, like any phase, pretty soon. I can't wait.

In the meantime, I am just super diligent about recognizing when he is about to use his teeth for evil. If I see that he starts to open his mouth, I am on it like white on rice. If he actually uses said teeth, it is a stern NO and a removal from the situation.

How about any of you out there? Any biters? Any advice?