My Life of Travels and Adventures: 2012

Craft: Christmas Tree Foot Print

20 December 2012

Super Simple Christmas Craft Here

Stamp baby foot in green paint.  

Press on little canvas. (Next year - Bigger canvas is needed)
Let Dry. 

Draw lights with permanent marker.


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Craft: Holiday Picture Frames

17 December 2012

Supplies: Wooden picture frame.  I bought these on a super sale and Joann's a while ago. 
Clear Coat
While painting various things for Reid's First Birthday party, I pulled these guys out and put a quick coat of stain on them.
Then one evening when Reid was in a good mood, we tried stamping his hand prints on the frames.  He was having nothing of it.  

So we dipped one hand in red paint and one in green paint and let him go to town.  
I wrote Christmas 2012 and Reid's name on each in silver permanent marker and painted a clear coat on each. 
No to shabby for a quick holiday craft. 

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Twinkle Lights Pictures: How To

06 December 2012

I love "twinkle light" pictures.  So for our Christmas card this year we went ahead and had a mini-photoshoot.  
A quick 10 minute set-up with the following...

2 strings of white lights
Masking tape
White Sheet

One afternoon I quickly set up a twinkle light studio in the dining room. 

I used the desk already there and a piece of cardboard to tape up a white sheet.  Then I taped up the christmas lights. 
 See nothing fancy at all..
I used my 50mm lens at f/1.8 and 1/200... due to the lighting in the room I was between ISO 400 and 800 on all the pictures. 
I tried to keep Reid about 3 to 3.5 feet from the backdrop and I moved to the far end of the dining room.
Of course, with a moving baby that was not always possible. 

After a few shots with my test owl, I was ready to get a cute picture for our Christmas Card.
I love this face!

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Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

01 December 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherI read "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua recently while pumping at work.

According to goodreads... " All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.
Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:
  • have a playdate 
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin
The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin.

Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:

"According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:

1. Oh my God, you're just getting worse and worse.
2. I'm going to count to three, then I want musicality.
3. If the next time's not PERFECT, I'm going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!"

But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters' performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting- and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another.""

It was an interesting read.  I am sure that it is not the parenting style I choose for my family but it does explain some things that I see with other families.  I am sure that is one of many parenting style books I will read in my time.

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Book Review: Save Me

17 November 2012

I recently read Save Me by Lisa Scottoline.  I love that her books are set in the Philadelphia area... homey.

According to goodreads... "Rose McKenna volunteers as a lunch mom in her daughter Melly’s school in order to keep an eye on Amanda, a mean girl who’s been bullying her daughter. Her fears come true when the bullying begins, sending Melly to the bathroom in tears. Just as Rose is about to follow after her daughter, a massive explosion goes off in the kitchen, sending the room into chaos. Rose finds herself faced with the horrifying decision of whether or not to run to the bathroom to rescue her daughter or usher Amanda to safety. She believes she has accomplished both, only to discover that Amanda, for an unknown reason, ran back into the school once out of Rose's sight. In an instance, Rose goes from hero to villain as the small community blames Amanda’s injuries on her. In the days that follow, Rose's life starts to fall to pieces, Amanda’s mother decides to sue, her marriage is put to the test, and worse, when her daughter returns to school, the bullying only intensifies. Rose must take matters into her own hands and get down to the truth of what really happened that fateful day in order to save herself, her marriage and her family.

In the way that Look Again had readers questioning everything they thought they knew about family, Save Me will have readers wondering just how far they would go to save the ones they love. Lisa Scottoline is writing about real issues that resonate with real women, and the results are emotional, heartbreaking and honest."

I really liked this book.  At first I thought I knew where the book was going but it surprised me.  Always a good sign.   I liked this book and would recommend it.  Good read!

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Craft: Fall Wreath

15 November 2012

I am a sucker for wreaths/decorations on our front door.  I don't know why.  We don't get very many visitors but I like wreaths and door decorations. 

For Halloween, we alternated between a sparkly trick-or-treat sign and a glow-in-the-dark skeleton.  But now, that Halloween is over, I was lacking a door decoration.  

So when Joann's was having a nice sale (and offered at 25% off everything coupon) I headed out (by myself none the less) and stocked up on lots of crafty things. 

After Reid went to sleep one night, I busted out my hot glue gun, some thread and a needle and got crafty!

I started with a straw wreath (it was messy) and three 18" square pieces of fabric 

The first square, I "sewed" into a little fluff ball.  The second square, I hot glued (much easier) into a fluff ball.  The third square, I  cut into three pieces and hot glued into tiny fluff balls. 

Then I hot glued them onto the wreath.  Simple.  

Some thread to hang it on the door and it was complete.

Total price: $ 6.50
Total time: 30 minutes

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Book Review: How to Photograph your Baby

02 November 2012

Remember a while ago, I mentioned a private photography lesson I had attended.  The lesson itself was really quite helpful.  During the lesson, the teacher  mentioned Nick Kelch's book "How to Photograph your Baby".  So a quick order with Amazon and 2 days later this book arrived at my doorstep. 

According to goodreads... "Everyone with children -- from expectant parents to grandparents -- wants to take clear, beautiful photographs of their kids and, for the first time, Nick Kelsh shows them how to do it in this accessible, easy-to-follow guide.In his introduction, Kelsh explains his successful approach to baby portraiture and the techniques he has developed over the years. Then, through nine beautifully designed, fold-out lessons, photographers of all levels are given a foolproof method of mastering baby portraiture. Each accessible lesson includes instructions, dos and donts, visual examples of good and bad techniques, sidebars, and quick tips.

Essential concepts covered include: mastering the close-up, utilizing natural light, ensuring agreeable and compliant subjects, and transforming locations throughout the home, or even the car, into studios for spontaneous photo shoots. Also featured are creative ways to display work and suggestions for unique photography projects.

This invaluable book reveals how to capture the essence of your special baby using the tried and true techniques of a well-known professional."

This "book" was interesting.  There wasn't really much to it.  I think I finished it in 20 minutes or so while pumping at work.  

He does have some good concepts... Get close to your subject (thus eliminating the junk cluttering your background)... He explains good lighting vs using the flash on your camera... And he talks about taking a lot of pictures to try to get a couple good ones.  

He does not go into detail on your camera itself... He does not talk about shooting in a mode other than automatic... 

Overall, it was an okay book with a couple main points but not much else.  For me I felt like it was a waste of money.  Oh well. 

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Tips for the Breastfeeding/Working Mom

30 October 2012

 We are in our 9th month of breastfeeding here and still going pretty strong.  Of course we have had some ups and downs throughout this journey but overall everything is going well…

I have been back to work for 4 months now and have developed quite the knack for pumping… So I thought I would share some of the things I have learnt with you. 

(Yes, learnt is a word.  Yes, I have had this discussion quite a few times.  Yes, I used it frequently.)

1.  Invest in a nice double electric pump - I feel like this is a no brainer.  Having to use a manual pump day after day.  No thanks!
2.  Have 2 sets of pump parts -  I started back to work with one complete set of pump parts, some spare tubes, extra membranes and a bunch of bottles.  Each night/next morning either Neil or I (who am I kidding, it was mostly always Neil) had to disassemble, wash and reassemble the pump parts.  When Reid was in the hospital, I was given a set of pump parts to use with their hospital grade pump.  Lucky for me, everything would work with my pump too.  Score!  Extra set of parts for me.  Let me tell you… Having two sets of parts is like heaven.  Now we do not need to (and usually do not) wash dishes and parts each night. 
3.  Prepare as much as you can the night before - We always try to have the parts washed the night before and at least drying on the rack when we head to bed.
4.  Don’t wash your pump parts between sessions in a work day -  I work at a small manufacturing company that resides in 2 twin houses… There is no kitchen, there is no sink other than that in the restroom… The place gets cleaned once a week.  I am not comfortable using that sink to wash and clean things that are going to touch my babies milk.  No thanks!  I start out the day with clean parts, pump once, store the milk in a bottle, wipe the flanges, connect a second set of bottles and pop everything back into the cooler. 
5.  Bring a cooler - I actually am using an insulated lunch bag as my cooler with a reusable ice pack made to fit around soda cans.  I keep my pumped milk and parts in the cooler for the entire day. It was easier than storing the milk in the fridge (we do have a small common fridge for all 20+ of us).  I was afraid someone would get into it or I would forget it.  The lunch box next to my desk works great.
6.  Have a freezer stash - I went back to work with an awesome freezer stash… 1000+ oz… Yes, I was crazy.  Is that much necessary?  No.  We had some issues early off where Reid refused to nurse for about a week and I was exclusively pumping.  I realized at that point, once I was pumping for entire feedings I was not going to keep up with him for long. 
7.  Drink - Water that is.  Drink lot’s of it.  I think I pee more now that I did when I was pregnant. 
8.  Don’t worry so much - I found that if I worry about the amount of milk I am producing, it just makes it worse.  So now I just go with the flow. 

There you have it.  My tips for the breastfeeding/working/pumping/do it all momma. 

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Book Review: The Lone Wolf

28 October 2012

Lone WolfI love Jodi Picoult!  I was so super excited when I saw this book in the store and was not disappointed

According to goodreads... "Edward Warren, twenty-four, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.

With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?

Lone Wolf explores the notion of family, and the love, protection and strength it’s meant to offer. But what if the hope that should sustain it, is the very thing that pulls it apart? Another tour de force from Jodi Picoult,Lone Wolf examines the wild and lonely terrain upon which love battles reason"

Definitely a good book and highly recommended. 

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How to Build Your Breast Milk Freezer Stash?

23 October 2012

When Reid was 5 months old, I went back to work full time with over 1500 oz of milk in my freezer.  Yes, that is a crazy amount. 

However, we had room in our deep freezer for it and I was producing it.  So why not store it up for a raining day.  Or a day when it would be needed. 

Okay, on to the point of this post… how I built up my stash. 

1.   I Pumped Early -  My milk came in when Reid was 3 days old.  That happened to be the same night we came home from the hospital.  This lead to a 2am melt down at our house.   

I had an awesome nurser at the hospital.  He would happily suckle away every other hour for 10/20 minutes at a time.  Easy peasy, right?  Not so much when I was super engorged.  Reid would not latch.  I was sore from the c-section.  I was tired.  He was frustrated.  He was gassy.  It was 2am.  It was not a good combination. 

Thank god (maybe?) my mom was there.  We knew he was hungry.  We just could not get him to eat.  So at 2am, my mom busts open my pump box.  (Okay, I know everyone says not to open the pump before you need it, since then it can not be returned.  My advice is to at least find the manual online and read it prior)  Neither of us, having every seen or used a breast pump before had quite some trouble assembling it for use the first time.  (Of course the instructions say to sterilize everything prior to use… That was the least of our worries at that time)

Needless to say, I pumped my first 3/4oz my first night home from the hospital and Reid had his first bottle at 2am.  (After which he burped and we all promptly fell asleep)

So, began my pumping journey… 3 days postpardum.

2.  I pumped often - Starting then, I pretty much pumped every day.  When there were others around, I would nurse Reid and then pump after every feeding I could.  In the early weeks I wouldn’t get much… An ounce or two at a time (It all adds up though) but I stuck with it and started a freezer stash.  I froze my first bag of milk when Reid was just 4 days old.

No I don’t feel like I missed a lot by pumping so much.  I only pumped after nursing sessions if someone else was around to play with Reid.  Most of the time, it was once session in the morning before Neil left for work and then 2 in the evening when he was home from work. 

3.  I pumped overnight - Once Reid was a few weeks old and getting into a consistent sleeping pattern overnight (Sleeping a good 4/5 hour stretch at once… Oh, how I miss the swaddled baby sleep) Neil would feed a bottle and I would pump for this first overnight feeding.  This is really how my freezer stash grew.  Reid would take a 3-4oz bottle and I was pumping between 10-15oz.  Grow stash grow. 

Yes, I was not working and Neil was at the time.  Yes, Neil got up with us overnight.  I started out nursing overnight as well.  Neil would get up with us then also.  It would take forever for Reid to nurse.  Sitting there in bed, I would be soo tired.

 Once we figured out that it was s good 10-15 minutes quicker for me to get a bottle from downstairs, bring it upstairs for Neil, go back downstairs, set up the pump parts, pump, store everything, and then go back upstairs to bed… all while Neil gave Reid a bottle… that became our middle of the night routine. 

4. I pumped until I was empty plus some more - 99% of the time I would pump a good 3-5 minutes past when my milk stopped flowing.  Of course there was a couple times, when something urgent came up and I stopped early.

5. I kept it up - Up until the week before I went back to work, I pumped every night while Reid took a bottle.  I pumped after most nursing sessions when Neil was around.

6.  I nursed often and on demand - For the first 3 -4 months, Reid was nursing every 2 - 2.5 hours during the day and a once or twice (plus a pumping session) overnight.  Early on, I swear all I did was nurse him.

7.  I let (and even encouraged) him comfort suck

8.  I drank (water that is) - I drank at least 8oz of water every time he would nurse.  I still do… In addition to whatever else I drink during the day.  

 I think #9 should be that I peed a lot!

By pumping after Reid had ate, it set aside a few minutes of dedicated Daddy/Reid time each evening.  Something that I love!

I really am glad that I was so vigilant about pumping and growing my freezer stash.   When Reid was sick and not eating it took a hit.  Also, now that I have been back to work for a bit… I am not pumping enough to cover Reid’s daycare bottles each day.  So little by little my freezer stash is being depleted. 

Again, I don't think this much of a freezer stash is necessary.  I am rotating through it now.  I may donate some soon.  But for now I am happy to have it. 

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Book Review: Angry Housewives Eating BonBons

22 October 2012

Another one of the books I read while pumping at work... Angry Housewives Eating BonBons by Lorna Landvik.

It was an interesting book... I kept waiting for something to happen but there was no big dramatic event.

According to goodreads..."The women of Freesia Court are convinced that there is nothing good coffee, delectable desserts, and a strong shoulder can’t fix. Laughter is the glue that holds them together—the foundation of a book group they call AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), an unofficial “club” that becomes much more. It becomes a lifeline. Holding on through forty eventful years, there’s Faith, a lonely mother of twins who harbors a terrible secret that has condemned her to living a lie; big, beautiful Audrey, the resident sex queen who knows that with good posture and an attitude you can get away with anything; Merit, the shy doctor’s wife with the face of an angel and the private hell of an abusive husband; Kari, a wise woman with a wonderful laugh who knows the greatest gifts appear after life’s fiercest storms; and finally, Slip, a tiny spitfire of a woman who isn’t afraid to look trouble straight in the eye. 

This stalwart group of friends depicts a special slice of American life, of stay-at-home days and new careers, of children and grandchildren, of bold beginnings and second chances, in which the power of forgiveness, understanding, and the perfectly timed giggle fit is the CPR that mends broken hearts and shattered dreams."

Overall it was an okay book.

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