Sunday, September 30, 2012

Who Doesn't Need Diapers? A Giveaway!

Ever since having my first baby I think I've become more and more crunchy.  Except in one great, big area.  I haven't jumped on the cloth diapering bandwagon.  I know there are really great brands out there that make cloth diapering just as easy as disposable diapering but I just haven't made the leap to do the research and make the investment.  Plus, I'm not sure my washer and drier could handle any more work than I'm already giving it.
This month Earth's Best sent me a package of their Chlorine Free Diapers which seems to be a nice compromise between being environmentally conscience while still enjoying the ease of disposable diapers.  Each diaper contains natural absorbent material such as corn and wheat.  Using these renewable resources reduces your impact on the environment.

When I first opened the package the diapers felt a bit cheap to me and I was a little worried they wouldn't do the job like the diapers I was used to.  (We currently use the Up & Up brand from Target.)  But after using Earth's Best diapers for nearly a week I can report that we haven't had a single leak or mess.  And Katherine's little bum is just as cute and soft as it usually is -- no rashes in the least.

Of course the downside to most earth-friendly products is that they are on the spendier side.  If you're a Subscribe & Save member on Amazon you can buy a package of 140 (size 3) for $40.09.  Come December we will have two kids in diapers for at least another year so I'm unsure if I can justify increasing our diaper budget to reduce our carbon footprint.  But for anyone who is less selfish and more green than me, these diapers would be a perfect fit!

A Giveaway!
Earth's Best is offering a package of their Chlorine Free Diapers (you choose the size) for one of my lucky readers.  To enter, simple leave a comment on this post.  I'd love to know how much the environment plays a role when deciding what diapers you use for your children.  Deadline to enter is Monday, October 8 at noon (Central Time).

* Earth's Best has provided me with one package of diapers to review and one to giveaway. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

**This contest is now closed.  Congrats to the winner, commenter #4!**

Friday, September 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes [9.28.12]

1. I've been away from the blog for a while. We came back from Boston on Sunday and were instantly swooped back into the grind. But things are good. The days go by fast and are full of to-dos. I went through all day yesterday thinking that it was Tuesday and that I still had plenty of the week ahead of me to knock out a couple of blog posts. But alas, Friday is already upon me.

I spend one day a week deep cleaning the house. But I've realized that even with a whole day set aside I still spend at least 80% of my time tidying up. Sometimes I loathe my mother for these genes she gave me that insist my home remain clean and clutter-free. I would have so much more time on my hands if everything didn't need to be in its place. But deep down I know this part of me is a gift. It's what has allowed us to have four kids in six years and still be able to pass as "having it together."

2. Brian and I were in Boston together last week and it was fantastic to get away for a few days. On Friday, while Brian was off on some client meetings, I slept in until 9:30! Then I went downstairs and ate breakfast at the hotel's buffet while I read the whole newspaper. It felt weird to say "table for one." There was a time not too long ago when I would have never dared enter a restaurant to eat by my lonesome. And now it feels like such a treat!

On Saturday we wandered through all the touristy spots. And if I had pictures I would show them to you. But I don't. It just wasn't that kind of trip. We walked at a leisurely pace with no real agenda. We were happy to see what we came upon and didn't really care if we missed something. We were just happy to be together.
The one self portrait I took of us.  With an old burying ground as a backdrop.
3. I am in my third trimester. Seven months pregnant. Can you believe it?! I can't believe it, but I sure do feel it. Clunky would be the best description of how I feel. I started a prenatal water aerobics class with another friend who is also pregnant. And after we got through the giggles of how matronly we felt in our grandma suits doing grandma-like exercises, we both agreed that the class did make us feel really good. I did water aerobics regularly when I was pregnant with Lucy and that pregnancy still remains as the best shape I was in while carrying a child. Here's hoping it works again.

4. Of course, the big thing I have looming over me every single day as I plow through our routine is Lucy's upcoming surgery. At first I thought about waiting to do the surgery until after Number Four is born but I quickly realized that was the dumbest idea I ever had. Waiting until Number 4 is born would save us hundreds of dollars because of some insurance loopholes. (Health insurance is so complicated!) But I don't think the money can justify the added stress of caring for a newborn while also trying to care for my three-year-old in the hospital and at home.

The doctor had some October dates available but I didn't want her to miss her preschool field trip to the apple orchard. And I didn't want it to be too close to Katherine's birthday because she's already going to get the short end of everything for the rest of her life. And I didn't want it to be too close to Halloween. So her surgery is scheduled for the morning of November 12. We're crossing our fingers that it will be limited to a one-night hospital stay and that her recovery will be super fast.

I hate to say it but of all my children, I'm glad this is happening to Lucy. She's the strongest little lady I know and her pain tolerance is crazy high. Except when I'm brushing her hair. What's up with that? I know she'll be just fine. But, as always, prayers are appreciated.

5. Yesterday I caught Katherine standing alone unassisted.  Of course, by the time I grabbed my camera she wouldn't do it anymore.  But I still got this cute shot.
Her development is so funny to me because it's the exact opposite of my other two.  She's very physical and super strong.  But she hardly talks at all.  William and Lucy could rattle off a ton of crystal clear words by the time their first birthday rolled around.  But neither of them walked until 14 or 15 months.  It's so funny how things shake out.  I can't help but wonder if Katherine is who she is because of her birth order or if these developments are just who she is no matter what her environment.  It's my inner psych minor coming out.

6. Ever since starting Kindergarten William's new bedtime has been 6:30.  And he sleeps soundly until 7:00 or later.  He's always been one who needs a lot of sleep to function properly.  But an unforeseen casualty of his exhaustion is that he has started to wet the bed a few times a week.  This is something he hasn't done in years.  My heart weeps for him because he's so ashamed of this even though we tell him over and over that it isn't his fault.

But fault or not, I'm really getting sick of washing his sheets all week long. He sleeps on the top bunk of a bunk beds so stripping and making his bed is no easy task.  Last night I made him wear a Pull-Up and felt the guilt pile up as he almost started crying because "everyone would think he was a baby."  I told him it would be our little secret and he quickly rushed up to bed so that Lucy wouldn't see.  First thing this morning he ripped that thing off and pretended like it never happened.

What's a mom to do?  Please tell me this phase is short and that his body will quickly adjust to his new sleep pattern.

7.  We are Brian-less this weekend.  We have activities planned so the weekend should go by quickly.  And I'm praying everyone sleeps through both nights.  (I'm looking at you, Katherine!)  It's the last time Brian will be away from home until the baby comes.  I can do this.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall's Flavors

At the change of any season I am always so thankful to live in Minnesota. While certain aspects of our climate leave little to be desired, there's something to be said about experiencing four distinct seasons. We Northerners rejoice in the little things: a Maple tree turned bright red, the quiet after the year's first snowfall, the sighting of a robin, long, luxurious days on the lake.

While summer will always remain my favorite of all the seasons, I do so enjoy the beginning of autumn if for one reason alone: the food!

When the days get cooler I find myself getting reacquainted with things like my stove, my oven, soups & stews, hot coffee instead of iced lattes and apple-baked anything.

Just last night, instead of my usual dessert choice of chocolate or ice cream, I treated myself to a hot mug of cider. And today I'm making pumpkin soup; a recipe I found years ago and still delight in pulling out every year. I kid you not when I say that Brian has been dreaming of this meal ever since I put it on our week's menu on Monday. Men really are so easy to please, aren't they?
Just in time for all these Fall flavors, Earth's Best sent me two packages of their new Happy Snax Cereal Snacks in apple cinnamon and graham.  These were a welcomed treat because, if I'm being honest, my kids weren't so in love with the veggie-flavored Pop Snax we received last month.  It's a curious thing because all my kids are actually really good vegetable-eaters.

But they are in love with the new Happy Snax flavors!  Both flavors come in fun happy face shapes.  And both flavors boast 12 grams of whole grains, 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 25% of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C in each serving.

Every evening when the clock ticks past 5:00 Katherine gets feisty.  But Brian doesn't get home for our family dinner until 5:30 or after.  So lately I've been putting her in her booster seat and throwing a handful of these guys on her tray to keep her happy.  It turns out these things are irresistible as our entire family has been walking past Katherine's seat and sneaking a taste.

The other day Brian popped a couple in his mouth on his way in the door and upstairs to change out of his dress clothes.

"Holy crap!" He said.  "Have you tried these things?  They're awesome!"

Like I said, easy to please.

* This post was inspired by products I received in partnership with Earth's Best. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ten Minute Tuesday

**Written as part of Testosterhome's Ten Minute Tuesday.  But, of course, I didn't get it posted until Wednesday.  Such is my life.**

Today is a "woe is me" kind of day.  Not because things are going badly, per se, but because I'm wondering just how many more things I can pile on top of my list of "things to do" and "things to worry about" and "things I should be doing" and "things that are keeping me up at night," etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

We sold our car on Saturday.  We bought our new car on Monday.  Yay!  More details on that later.  But those things are, you know, stressful.  Even when they do turn out for the best, as was the case in our situation.

Then there's our trip to Boston that's coming up tomorrow. (Tomorrow!)  Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited to get away for a few days with my love.  But why is there always that tinge of regret leading up to the actual departure?  Like, why did I get myself into this?  Is it really worth it? (Answer: Yes.  Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.)  My mom, Queen of Kid-Watching Wonderfulness, is coming to stay at our house.  There will be no problems. Of this I'm sure.  But there's still the planning and the transferring of knowledge and the worry that something will go wrong.  But, of course, it won't.  It never does.

But Katherine has a cold.  So then I go back to worrying that something will go wrong.  Like that she'll be up all night allowing my poor mom no sleep.  Or that it will turn into a raging ear infection.  Please, Baby Katherine, get better soon.  Like, today, please.

And then there's the biggie.  The news we learned yesterday.  That our Lucy Girl will need another head surgery.  You know how as a mom you know stuff about your kids?  Like, really know stuff?  But you don't argue for what you already know to be true because you, lowly mom, are not a doctor.

That's where I'm at.  For at least a year I've known that Lucy will need this second repair surgery.  That the three depressions on the top of her head were not filling in like they were supposed to.  But the doctors kept saying no.  That chances are it's not what I think because that's not common.

Then the doctor walks in the room with her CT scan and says, "Much to my surprise..."

I wasn't surprised at all.
Charmer of all Doctors & Nurses
Thankfully this surgery is much less of an ordeal than the first one. But, surgery nonetheless. Anesthesia. Incisions. IVs. A hospital stay. None of these should be on a three-year-old's to-do list.

I thought I had a good handle on the situation. I didn't cry. I didn't get upset. We even made light of the news by tenderly teasing Lucy that we always knew she would be our problem child.

But then I lay in bed. Darkness all around me save for the red digital clock staring me down. And I kept thinking about it. And thinking, and thinking, and thinking.

And then there was nothing left to do except offer it up.  And go to sleep.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bringing Out My Best Mom

I used to think a mother could only be the best mother if she stayed at home with her children.

I was young.  And naive.  And I had only one baby at the time.

I've since wised up and learned that every mom has to find her own schedule to bring out her best mom.  For some that's working full time.  Or part time.  Or working from home.  Or homeschooling.  Or being at home full time.

For me, working outside the home would not make me the best mom I can be.  It's not that I need to be with my kids 24/7.  It's that I'm too domestic.  I like to clean.  And cook.  And bake.  And organize.  I like wearing my yoga pants with my sequined apron all day.  I don't mind wearing a ponytail and scant makeup every day.  I don't need to leave the house every day to make my life feel complete.

This is who I am.

Another thing that brings out the really excellent mother in me is abiding to a schedule or routine.  Flying by the seat of our pants is only fun for a day or two before I start to get frustrated.  Mostly I get frustrated because the domestic part of me falls by the wayside because the kids demand all of my attention when there isn't a plan for the day.

But then comes September.  We find our rhythm.  There's a nice little hum at Casa del Nash when all gears are fully greased and running smoothly.

I have found that although the older kids are away from me more now than they ever have before, that I'm spending more quality one-on-one time with them than I ever have before.  I yell less.  They tantrum less.  We talk more.  The TV stays black.  The house is in order.  Birds sing.  Rainbows appear.

In the mornings I sip my hot cup of coffee while seated on the floor, watching my baby crawl around and discover new things.  She is undisturbed by older siblings who pull her this way and that and who yank toys out of her tiny hands.  What happens if I pull on this?  What happens if I open this?  What does it mean when mom says "no no" and says my name in that tone?

At lunch I sit with the little girl who is stuck in the middle and rarely gets her one-on-one time.  Her baby sister naps and together we have girl talk.  What did she have for a snack at school today?  Was she a helper?  Did she get to paint?  Did she go outside?  What are her friends' names?  There is no whining.  No screaming.  No demands.  Her little voice uses five-year-old language.  And she complains not once when I tell her it's time for a rest.  Her little body is weary from all that preschool play.

In the middle of the afternoon I see him skipping down the sidewalk with his green backpack and his Batman lunch box.  This boy gets lots of time with his dad but hardly any alone time with me.  He's the oldest so it's easy to say "just a minute" or "not right now".  His younger siblings' needs are more pressing.  But he's only just five and he still needs me too.  So we sit at the table while he eats his snack.  I give him my one hundred percent undivided attention and full eye contact.  His cup runneth over.  He talks and talks and talks about his day.  I don't even need to ask him questions.  All he asks for is my listening ear.  Sometimes he gets cranky and I know he's not acting out.  He's tired.  It's a long day for a little boy.  So we sit and read books knowing there will be no time after bath because he will be fast asleep before the sun has even had a chance to think about setting.

This is me, my best mom.  A slotted time for each child (and husband!) and still some left over for me.  I go to bed with little guilt and no regrets.

With another baby soon entering the picture, I realize it won't always be like this.  Come December my time will be stretched further and we'll have to find a new rhythm.  But just knowing what works, and most of all, what doesn't work, is always half the solution to any puzzle.

Each member of our family holds a unique spot that only they can fill.  And each is deserving of my attention no matter their age or ability.  Being able to fill up their love cups each day brings out my best mom.

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes [9.7.12]

1. I feel like I could maybe change my blog name to the "Going Back to School Blog" since that's nearly what every one of my posts has been about for the past month.  But I think I'm done with that now.  Except for one more thing.  I promise.  This is it.

So yesterday was the first day William started school at the same time as the rest of the first through eighth-graders do.  As is normal practice at his school, all the lower school students line up outside on the plaza in front of the sign where their teacher's name is written.  They all wait for the bell to ring and for their teacher to escort them inside and into their classroom.  The parents kind of gather behind the student body waiting until the bell rings to make sure their child gets in the building OK.  (This won't happen every day but it's common to have all the parents there for the first week or so.)  So Brian and I are waiting for the bell, dry eyes, no emotion.  Then the bell rings and suddenly every single student turns toward the kindergarten lines and starts clapping and cheering and whooping and hollering for those teeny, tiny kindergartners as they paraded in behind their teacher for the first time.  I don't believe there was a dry eye in the crowd.  It was such an uplifting sense of community.  A real we're-watching-out-for-the-little-ones moment.  It, once again, reaffirmed our decision to send William to this school.
2. Seeing as he is a kindergartner now, I figured it was high time this kiddo learn how to tie his own shoes.  I was kind of forced into it because I found out that once they outgrow the toddler sizes and start wearing youth sizes, the hook and loop velcro options are very limited.  Once we get into winter he's going to have to change out of his boots and into his tennis shoes all by himself.  So we sat down after lunch for a little lesson.  Five minutes in and someone wanted to take both shoes and throw them through the window. That someone may have been me.  This is why I could never homeschool.

I did some Google searches and found this helpful method called the Ian Knot.  Have you heard of it?  I haven't but it looks a lot easier (and faster) to teach than the "around the tree" or "bunny ears" method.  We'll give it another go this afternoon and hope that neither of us ends up in a screaming match.

3.  Yesterday at kindergarten pick-up I met another mom who also has a baby due in December.  I found out that our due dates are just a day a part and at that very moment I wanted to crawl into a hole because she looked a whole one or two months LESS pregnant than me.

And then she said to me, "Wow! You look a lot smaller than I do!"

I laughed and told her I had just had the exact opposite feeling.  It just goes to show you, we are always our own worst critic.

4.  We have a major problem going on in our house.  It's a problem other moms of girls warned me about but that I failed to believe would ever be the case because, you know, I've got such a good handle on things compared to other parents.

Lucy will only wear dresses.  And by that I mean, it is an all-out fall-to-the-ground, weep, wailing, hysterical disaster if I try to dress her in anything else.  It is as if I am trying to dress her in an outfit made out of razor blades.  She physically hurts to put on anything that is not a dress.

I can sometimes get her into a skirt but it still takes a lot of convincing.  "I promise.  This will twirl just like a dress.  Look how pretty it is!"

Right now it really isn't that big of a deal because she has plenty of sun dresses to choose from in between my laundry cycles.  But once we get into winter, things could get tricky.  It's tough to find dresses that keep little ones warm in our harsh climate.  Leggings and tights can only do so much.  I'm praying the chill will help sway her but until then I've taken to eBay to find as many cheap long-sleeve dresses as I can.

5.  Brian and I have two kidless trips coming up!  The best part, of course, is that there will be no kids with us.  But the second best part is that both trips are almost entirely paid for by his work.  One will be in a couple weeks out to Boston where I only had to buy a plane ticket and the other is at a posh resort in Northern Minnesota where I only have to pay for the gas it takes to get me there.  That one will be in the middle of October right at the height of the autumn colors.  A huge advance thank you goes out to both of our mothers who will be coming into our home to watch the kids while we're away.  It's easy to leave the kids when we know they are in the hands of someone who loves them just as much as we do.

6.  Sometimes I can't think of seven different things to say in 7 Quick Takes.

7.  This is one of those times.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day & Instagram Goodness it Friday yet? It's only Wednesday night and it feels like I've already lived through a full week even with a holiday built in.

It's our first week back to school but nothing is "normal" yet. We've had late starts, orientation, half days, escorts to and from, and lunch at home. The kids had their first days on separate days which meant I had to go through dressing, backpack packing and photo sessions twice. Tomorrow they both start at 8:00 and end at buildings across the street from each other. Pick up and drop off should be interesting. Who do I do first?!

Monday will be the first day of our regular routine and I, for one, will be sighing a huge sigh of relief. Lucy will be at preschool two mornings a week and William will be in full day kindergarten every day.

I think I might be the only parent on the face of the planet who has no upset feelings about sending my child to kindergarten. Yes, I still get teary-eyed when I see him in his uniform and backpack and when he gives me a hug goodbye. But not because I wish he were at home instead. It's the good kind of cry. He's so grown up! I'm so proud! He's so excited! He can do it all on his own now!

And maybe a tiny part of me is crying happy tears because now I don't have to try to entertain him all day.

I'm not going to lie. The kid exhausts me. With a three-year-old, an infant and a growing belly, I can't give him all he requires. He needs school more than words can describe. He needs peers around him at all times. He needs an authority figure who he doesn't also call mom. He needs a place to go outside the house every day. This model isn't built for every child but my child was definitely built for this model.

And now for the obligatory first-day-of-school pictures courtesy of Instagram.  And some others thrown in for good measure. (I'm mamanash75 if you're there.)
The Kindergartener

The Preschooler

The Bump. 25 weeks + 2 days. (But who's counting?)

The Baby.  Still "The Baby."
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