Little luxuries are always fun for Mamas to give (and receive) as gifts at Christmas. Here are some of my favorites...
The Posh by Tori bangle clutch available at SoBeBabies. I carry mine everywhere and love how convenient the bangle hangs on my wrist, on the stroller handles, or wherever else you need to hang. It's roomy enough for the essentials: lipstick, phone, camera, debit card & checkbook, but small enough to feel like a sassy handbag. Yes, a bit pricey but I have to say that after months of use, it still looks new. I can't even say that for my Coach bags that I no longer carry! And you or your gift-giver can save $5 off your order at Sobebabies by entering code ABW. Speaking of hanging your bag, one of my favorite items I've reviewed over at Mama Speaks is the Luxe Link. Such a perfect gift for any handbag connoisseur. I use my Luxe Link all the time and it's a great conversation piece, trust me!
And talk about conversation pieces, try browsing for just one minute over at Etsy and you will agree it can't be done. I could hang out on Etsy for hours. One of my favorite finds is Dandelion Blu (thanks to Cara!) where I found my sweet Lil Blue Bird necklace and now have my eye on the Nesting hair pins. Include "adventures" in the comment field at checkout and your shipping will be free (refunded to you after checkout) at Dandelion Blu! If you have a limited budget but want to find a thoughtful and creative gift, Etsy should be the first place you shop!
I am just not in much of a Christmas decorating mood, but am the odd one out here as it's all my boys can think about. So today we put out all the decorations and set up the tree. We have the kind that you have to attach each color-coded branch individually. Do they even make these anymore? The tree box was too heavy for me to bring up from the basement so the boys made a chain-gang line up the stairs and brought each branch. I think Gray found that the most fun. I found that putting them to work is quite useful!
And then I had my first taste of what it's like when the lights won't work. I tested the first strand and... nothing. Then the next strand... nothing. Then I thought maybe I should try a different outlet. Same thing. So the next strand lit up the half end, but was dark the first half. I still strung it on the tree and made do with what was lit up. Then the next 5 strands all did not work. I am just not up for going to Target (is that possible?) and I'm even contemplating a Freecycle post "Wanted: WORKING Christmas lights, white or red preferred" but I am not even in the mood for that. So I guess I'll do the lights tomorrow. If I feel like it. In the meantime there's a small glob of white lights at the bottom of the tree. Not our best look, but at least I made the effort.
When the tree is all decorated and the house is all quiet and I have some John Denver Rocky Mountain Christmas music playing, it's one of my very favorite things.
I just had EIGHT UNINTERRUPTED HOURS OF SLEEP last night and I don't know what to do with myself. I can't even remember the last time that has happened. Maybe back in 2004? Does this mean I am going to be expected to think clearly and all today? Maybe I should have kept this on the down low...
I love blogger meet ups! Today we had a dainty bloggy meet-up at a tea room and I just realized that I never really had any tea. (So, yeah, I'm faking in the photo.) But I did have some delicious strawberry-stuffed French toast and ate every bite. Including whipped cream. Mmm Hmm. Crooked Eyebrow took most of the good pictures and I can't wait to see what everyone else took. Arianne's got a great group shot here.
There are a few different considerations that a plus-sized parent must think about when choosing a carrier for babywearing. Because plus-sized parents are more "squishy," carriers that require tying knots may not be as comfortable. Also, store-bought, one-size-fits-most carriers, probably won't work very well. Find someone who can custom make a carrier for you, or learn to make them yourself!
I have found that an unpadded ring sling works best for us. We are able to use a standard size ring sling, but having someone who can make one for you allows for extra fabric and a longer "tail."
Also, keep in mind that you might have to do more adjusting of the sling while wearing your baby. Because of the aforementioned squishiness, the sling will slide or slip positioning as you move. And, you may not be able to be 100% hands free when using a carrier. Always be aware of adjusting the carrier too tightly, for yourself or your baby. Don't let the need for adjusting discourage you from wearing your baby. It's just part of being plus-sized! If the carrier hurts, it's not right. If it's too tight for baby, baby will let you know!
Four years ago on Thanksgiving Day, a turkey baked in the oven, a new table cloth lay spread on our table, and my 2-year-old son had his first seizure.
We spent that Thanksgiving in the hospital, and not once was a thought of the abandoned turkey or pumpkin pie in our minds.
The following Thanksgiving was a hard day for me to honor. I just wanted to forget that day, and the horrific days to follow, had ever happened. Why couldn't it have happened on a normal day, an easy-to-forget day, like a boring Tuesday or just anyother day? But Thanksgiving is celebrated every year without fail and with much fanfare and to-do, with non-abandoned turkeys and pumpkin pies. They always show up. And so do my memories. Of that day.
Each year I seem to "get over it" a little more. The bitterness and hurt that I once felt is now upstaged by the overflowing thankfulness that I have for the healing of my son. That one Thanksgiving day changed my life forever and continues to challenge and shape me every day. Even the boring Tuesdays and the Any Days.
I've recapped Oprah's Favorite Things here, if you want to see my take on it. I found this year's episode hard to watch, to be honest.
The way the audience gets so unbelievably excited and on fire (or "on far" as Oprah would have said it in her Macon accent today) for these things, these things like bath-sized forty-dollar soaps and $190 lounge pants and a fridge that can tell you the weather forecast.
But how excited are we in our hearts about our spiritual life. Or our love life? You know, the things that, like, really matter?
Today was a really good play day. I am not a fan of cars and Star Wars guys, but do enjoy playing with the castle stuff and animals. I am really glad that's what Gray is most into lately. And when I say 'into', I really mean into.
Inside joke. But anyway, I did want to share my favorite diapers during my favorite things month. I don't do cloth diapers- maybe with the next baby, but do use Seventh Generation diapers & wipes and feel that's at least a step in the right direction. The best place I've found to buy them inexpensively and conveniently is from 1-800-DIAPERS, now Diapers.com. You can even save $5 off your first order by using referral code: ABWdiapers . Other brands of diapers and baby care items are available as well, like California Baby (we love!) and so on. This is not another product "review" here or anything- it's just something I wanted to share!
*Added- I forgot to mention that Gray is on his way out of diapers thanks to the Peter Potty... isn't that the greatest!?!
Have you heard about the 2008 International Babywearing Conference being held in Chicago next June? I'll be there! I am planning on hanging out with Ashlee with her Nest slings- so please plan to stop on by to see us!Tickets just went on sale for the low price of $99! Maybe you can put it on your Christmas list?! The conference dates are June 25th-28th, 2008. Come learn new sling techniques, shop the exhibit hall, take in a fashion show, and meet the big names in babywearing. Tickets are only $99 until April 1st, 2008 and recieve a free t-shirt if you sign up before the end of 2007!
I caught just a bit of the Ellen show this afternoon and they were featuring a woman named Janice with some unusual animals on her farm.
What brought tears to my eyes was a zebra named Zebiscuit that she rescued. He had a seizure disorder and she treated him with alternative treatments, herbs, and diet, and he's never had another seizure! Just like my Noah!
My favorite tv show started its new season tonight! Project Runway, yay! I must say that so far I am most pleasantly surprised by designer Chris March and thought he had the best design, although I also predicted the challenge winner and loved that dress, too!
I write here! Inside you'll find me as a contributing editor with my own Real Reviews page. These magazines will be distributed in thousands of local Times newspapers and also direct-mailed to families with children.
Edited to add: All this makes me very pleased, but I am now bursting with pride as Noah begged me to let him take my only copy to school this morning to show his teacher... and of course I let him. : )
Last week as part of the Chicago Moms Blog I was invited to attend an elite session for Bloggers on How To Shop for Tech Gifts this Christmas, thanks to Staples. It was great to see my Silicon Valley Moms friend again-Techmamas blogger Beth Blecherman, the special speaker of the night!
There had been two other sessions earlier in the day, but I could only attend the later one and brought along Arianne.Turns out that everyone else went to the previous sessions and we were the only attendees for the evening!
It really became more like a Moms Night Out and we had no problem with that! The James Hotel in Chicago had the swankiest bathroom and the most delicious little hors d'ouerves. We had it all to ourselves!
We checked out the latest gadgets and cool tech gifts available at Staples- all of which should be on your Christmas shopping list this season. The perfect "group gift" for Grandparents, Aunts, & Uncles is the must-have digital photo frame - look for ones that offer a multi-card reader, slide show, & remote control. Staples is the first retailer to sell Dell computers, and at the top of my Christmas list is a laptop. Shouldn't every blogger have a laptop? I'm missing out! Tips from the Tech meeting were to have a large enough hard drive on your laptop for all your photos, music, & memory to multi-task. A wide screen for watching DVDs is a nice perk, as well as playing it up with a funky color. Give me a green one and I'd be set!
We didn't talk just tech stuff all night- we talked about blogging and Facebook and NaBloPoMo and about marketing to Mommy Bloggers and all that jazz. We even talked about pajamas and how I needed a new pair of boots and my wondering if there was such a thing as cankle surgery. I'd possibly consider it. One of my favorite things in our swag bag was the Staples Easy Button. It has now become a bit of a legend for my Moms Night Out group- while bowling the other night, the winner got to keep the Easy Button and will decide what to do with it at the future Moms Night Outs. Since then, the Easy Button has taken on an interesting life of its own and even went on a road trip this weekend. Just where will the Easy Button show up next? To be continued...
Pictured at the Tech Event: Arianne, Beth, & Me (David-Spade-hair, cankles, & all.)
I have been working on my latest knitted handbag (this version now named the Elizabeth for the recipient of the Fall Y'all Bloggy Giveaway) and after a few adjustments and do-overs, finally finished it up today. I was starting to get in a knitting funk and feel like I am ready to go again!
I was in Old Navy the other night and the Christmas music they were playing (already!) gave me a headache. And I don't think I'm that old, but the Salt-N-Pepa song (if you'd call it that and who knew they were still around?) was hideous. Don't they know that I'd be inclined to shop more productively if say, Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas or just some good ol' Nat King Cole was playing!?
Anyways. Even though I wish there was no rush on passing up autumn, I'll admit that I am getting a bit excited about Christmas. I am adding to my wish list everyday. Here are some of my favorites... last night I saw a commercial for Catch Phrase Music Edition. (You can watch the commercial on that link.) HOW FUN IS THAT? 'Cause all our friends act like that when we have a party. Yikes.
I really think I just must have the new Wilton Giant Cupcake pan. Normally giant things are creepy to me, but this would be so cool. And if these boots actually could keep the warm in and the snowy cold out, I'd totally dig them. But instead I think more practical would be these. (Size 9, Santa, but you already knew that.)
Learn how to do the "Mama Sway" while applying your mascara!! LoL. As a mother of a newborn that absolutely LOVES to be held, I know how hard it is to try to get things done. Putting yourself together is one area where mamas slack off, because it's just too hard. I'm a firm believer that in order to feel better about yourself, you must get your makeup on!! This is not an easy task with a baby! Oh, it's not enough that my baby is being held, he has to be held by me! So, I throw him in a carrier, usually a wrap or a ring sling, and start swaying. He loves the closeness of mama, he loves the motion, and I'm able to get ready!! When baby is happy, everyone is happy! Next on the agenda? Learning how to apply eyeliner while doing the sway! YIKES!-Jaymi
My favorite magazine is Vegetarian Times. Although I am sometimes here & there with my meat eating, I love vegan recipes as I have to avoid dairy and egg while I am still breastfeeding Gray. When the new Vegetarian Times is in my mailbox, I get so excited and usually start my grocery list as I read along.
In the current issue is a quick & easy Penne with Caramelized Cauliflower. Mmmm... it's really good. Gray likes it, too (that's his chubby little hand sneaking in the photo above.)
I love to cook and bake things that I am proud of, and then must take a picture to record such artistry!
You don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan to appreciate these yummy dishes. My favorite brownies are still these fudgy treats.
Grab VT at your local bookstore or the best deal I've seen on a subscription is through Best Deal Magazines- just $4.69 for a year !!
My review of Tina Cassidy's new book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born is up here at Mama Speaks, where you can also win yourself a copy- so enter by tonight!
I was also asked today about trying my hand at being a doula for a friend's upcoming home birth. I can not tell you how exciting this is for me. I'm giddy about it and honored for the possible opportunity!
I don't know how I've been blogging all this time and had never read Design Mom. (One of my new favorite blogs.) Well, I'm making up for it now. There is always something pretty to look at. Yesterday's pièce de résistance is just a baby step in my design direction.
I now long to have this owl lightswitch cover for my kitchen (this particular one is currently sold out on Etsy- to hubby's delight, no doubt!)And these birds would be perfect above our large overstuffed chair in the living room, I'm convinced! I now stare at the blank walls in my home with a whole new perspective, because there is just so much potential!
Or Alternately titled: Grayson And The Purple Marker Gone Wild
Gray is at that age where a pencil, crayon, or marker in his hand causes him to lose his 2-year-old senses and it pulls him to the walls, books, picture frames, photo albums, and, gulp, his brand new wooden kitchen set. My very favorite toy he has right now. I even keep it in our kitchen, and the day the offending purple marker took control of Gray's sweet little hand and created mayhem throughout the dining room, living room, and kitchen, I was standing right there. Cooking away. And noticed about two minutes too late.
I haven't told Mimi, the giver of the wonderful kitchen set, and didn't want her to know until I tried to remedy the situation. Magic Eraser was not able to work his magic. So Mommy got creative.
Before: (Just imagine it with hideous purple marker drawings all over)
We found this set at Amazon.com here, but that is not the exact same link we used- they have a couple different links that sell the same thing, so look around. And it comes with ALL those extra accessories! So nice!
My very favorite thing to make this time of year is a big pot of Copycat Olive Garden minestrone... Oh my, I think this tastes better than the restaurant's (and I've compared) and it just feels nurturing and soulful making such a good thing. Tonight Noah helped chop the Italian parsley and added all the spices. We're just waiting for it to boil and Carter will add the pasta. Mmmm.
I made pancakes (Gray loudly calls them CAN CAKES!) for three very grateful little boys this morning. Carter finished his fourth one and patted his tummy, still in his pjs, and said "These were the best pancakes I've ever ate."
Our water heater broke today! Oh, how spending money we don't have on stuff like this and cars and boring things hurts... but I am so very thankful that my Dad and Uncle are handy-men to the rescue. All is fixed. I still haven't seen the hot water yet, but I trust it will be there when I climb into the pile of dishes to be done in a few. And we gain an hour tonight, too. Ahhhh...
I had a vivid dream last night that it started to snow, and the flakes were the size of saucers... it was beautiful and I kept snapping pictures. I think they were really good pictures, too.
I am so grateful that my wonderful Sister-in-law has passed down my nephew's old winter coat and snow pants for Noah to wear this year, Carter can then wear Noah's, and today I just picked up a coat and matching snow pants for Gray, thanks to Freecycle!
NaBloPoMo is National Blog Posting Month- beginning today and all through November I'll be posting every day (not something new I guess.) I specifically plan to post every day about my Favorite Things, kinda "a la Oprah", but without the thousands of dollars in giveaways. Although, there will be giveaways, so stay tuned!!
One of my favorite things that I use every day, and just can't live without is my camera- it even has its own story. It's just a simple Nikon CoolPix L11, one of the cheapest you can buy, but it does a great job!
Just yesterday I was taking this picture of Gray:
When all of a sudden a huge swarm of birds began flying crazily around our street and since my camera also takes video, I quickly switched to record the Hitchcock-like scene!