Friday, October 30, 2009

Tis the Season: Halloween

Today we finished making our preparations for Halloween. We don't really do a whole lot for Halloween, but there are a few traditions that are important to us! This morning I made her a little Trick or Treat bag. We do not plan on doing that much trick or treating this year since she is so little so this was just the right size! I took a lunch sack, some orange and black letters I had from other projects, and some black yarn. I think it turned out pretty cute considering it was free and took very little time!

Today Jessica and I also carved a Jack-o-lantern! Jessica seemed to have a good time although at times she was not so sure what to make of it!

Finally, I finished her costume earlier this week. She is going as a Miami Indian. Halloween costumes are really a pretty big deal to me. I like to make good, quality costumes that can be worn throughout the year because we love to play dress up!! I spent about $20, most of which was the fabric. I had to buy a little ribbon, some beads, thread, etc, but the most expensive part by far was the fabric! We had some moccasins that had belonged to my husband when he was a baby so we used those for her shoes! She was not so sure what to think about it at first, but she seems to think it is alright now! I will post more pictures tomorrow from trick or treating, but here are some pictures from when she wore her costume to dance class!

Not the best shot of Jessica, but you can see all of the costume! If you remember I also bead the belt!

Jessica with her best friend whose mom made her a peacock costume!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Story of Jessica

We found out we were pregnant with Jessica when we were in the process of leaving graduate school and moving to David's new job. David had to leave two weeks earlier than me, and I went down to visit him one weekend. While down there I took a pregnancy test and told him it was positive. He rolled over and went back to sleep hoping it was a bad dream! Then I had to leave to finish getting everything packed up. While I was there I ended up having some pretty heavy spotting and ended up driving myself to the ER in the middle of the night! Thankfully everything was just fine, but they said to follow up with my doctor immediately. Well, since I was leaving the next day, I did not have a doctor yet so I asked a girl I knew down here who she used and made an appointment for the next day!

Probably the only good picture of my pregnant with Jessica!

That summer was rather full. In less that a month we went from both being in graduate school and working to moving to a new state farther from family, graduating, David getting a job, me not getting a job (for like the first time ever), buying a house, getting pregnant, not to mention all of the things that go along with an out of state move! Also it was summer, and it was HOT!!!! I kept getting dehydrated which eventually resulted in another ER visit. I eventually realized that it was just too warm outside for me! I also seemed to have trouble pushing things. It made me feel sick. Overall though the pregnancy itself was uneventful, which we were very grateful for! We were also very fortunate to have so many wonderful family and friends (both old and new) who made welcoming our sweet little girl into the world so much easier and much more fun!

A day or two before we went to the hospital.

A week or two before my due date, I was at 2 cm, and the doctor said I would have her within the week. Well, I didn't, and then I missed my next appointment because he was delivering another baby. That night I started having some contractions so we decided to go ahead on in since it is almost an hour drive and we knew I was over 2 cm. We got there and I was at 3 cm, having good contractions, but they weren't really doing anything yet. By morning we decided to stay and get petocin because we were really afraid David would be at work and would have to drive 45 min home and then drive another 45 min to the hospital. I think it ended up being a good decision because after they got the petocin up to the right level, Jessica was born 6 hours later with only 30 minutes of pushing, which is incredibly short for a first delivery (Average is 12 hours and usually several hours pushing). This is especially true since they did not break my water until 9 cm which also slows down the process. The nurse tried and tried to break it accidentally, but ended up having to wait for the doctor to show up. Apparently they did not expect it to go so quickly. The only real negative was that I broke my tailbone, which really hurt since I did not have an epidural. I did get some medication through an iv which seemed to help a little. The petocin is supposed to make the contractions much worse, but I found it to be doable (not great mind you but doable). Once the doctor got there, things went quite quickly, and he managed to keep me from tearing very much at all. (In case you are curious, I did have a local anesthetic for the stitches!!) Apparently it is uncommon to not have an epidural because the nurses kept having to tell the staff "She can walk. She didn't have an epidural."

Where Jessica slept most of her hospital stay...otherwise she screamed bloody murder....seriously she woke up the family across the hall!

The birth experience I would describe as doable. I had to be hooked up to an iv since I had tested positive for strep group B so I had few options about moving around. I did try a birthing ball at one point and did like that. However, mostly it was the quietest 6 hours of our marriage. The more pain I am in the quieter I get. I kind of go into a zone. David tried to go get lunch once, but I wouldn't let him because I did not want to be alone. I didn't want him to do anything or say anything, but I didn't want to be alone either. He did field calls from family which was good since I wasn't saying much of anything. Apparently the doctor and nurses were quite shocked at how quickly things progressed. Towards the end the nurse suggested I scream to scare everyone in the next room. (I did not) I think she thought I was being a little too quiet, but it seems to work for me! It's one of the few times in my life something has gotten my attention to the point that I can block out everything else!

All cleaned, fed, and sleeping in her little cart!

Jessica was very alert when she was born and nursed almost immediately! She really took to it like a duck to water! She spent most of her time in our room, and the only negative was that she got kind of ticked our last night in the hospital because while I had colostrum, the real milk hadn't come in yet and apparently she was ready for the real deal! Since we were in the hospital over a weekend, there were no lactation consultants which was fine because I didn't end up needing them. The nurses kept telling David to make me get out of bed and move on my own not realizing that I had broken my tailbone (I didn't know at that point either since it was my first!). Thankfully, David didn't listen to them. He knows I don't whine about discomfort until it gets really bad! The two things that aggrevated me the most was that it took them 3 hours after Jessica's birth to get me some food and the blinds didn't block out enough light to allow you to sleep during the day!

Obviously, we were smitten from the very beginning! I think the last picture I have of David smiling like that was when we got married!

Overall, Jessica's pregnancy and birth were relatively easy and without complication. There were challenges, but nothing unmanagable. Although we had not planned on having a baby at that time, we were truly ecstatic at her arrival, and we both believe she is one of the best things that ever happened to us! Obviously....we decided to have another one!! I am undecided as to whether or not we will try petocin this time or not. My new doctor was also absolutely shocked it went that quickly and understands my concern about actually making it TO the hospital!! However, we will see how things progress!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tricks of the Trade: Breastfeeding

I really enjoyed breastfeeding Jessica. We both took to it like ducks to water, and to me it seemed like less of a hassle than bottle feeding. While I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, I also believe that everyone needs the opportunity to choose what will work best for their family. There are some people who have medical reasons they cannot breastfeed. There are also people who must take medications that are not safe while breastfeeding. There are people who must go back to work and just can't seem to get the whole pumping thing to work for them. There are people who have trouble getting a rhythm started: the child has trouble latching on, the mom has inverted nipples, and just plain old stress!! However, if you do choose to breastfeed, there are some tricks of the trade I have picked up along the way.

Amazingly, I think this is the only picture I have of me feeding Jessica since I fed her just about everywhere we went!

1) Whatever you do, DO NOT eat broccoli or onions (raw, cooked, minced, powder, etc) period. These foods can be the culprits for causing tummy problems for little ones, which can make breastfeeding incredibly challenging in the beginning. After breastfeeding is well established, you might try something with a little onion powder in it. If that goes well after a few tries, then a week or so later you might want to try some dried minced onion. If that goes well after a few tries, then a week a or so later you might want to try cooking with chopped onions. Once you can eat cooked onions without the baby getting upset a couple hours after eating, then you can try raw onions. You could also try a little cooked broccoli at some point but wait until breastfeeding is well established! Jessica did fine with broccoli, but we had some trouble with onions in the beginning!

2) If you get a hard knot on your breast (a clogged milk duct), boil an egg, wrap it in a wet rag, and stick it in your bra. It is way more effective than hot showers and hot compresses, and it allows you to move about the house doing other things! If it doesn't completely go away push on it going towards the nipple while taking a hot shower. That should take care of any that remains.

3) If you get some red bumps that looks and feels like a pimple on your nipples (clogged wax ducts), boil and egg, wrap it in a wet rag, and stick it in your bra. It works wonders!!!

4) If you get sore, dry, or cracked nipples, try rubbing some colostrum (pre-breastmilk) or breastmilk (whichever you are producing currently) on them. I found it to be more effective than the creams; however, there are creams available if that doesn't work.

5) I was also told during a class at the hospital that they used to recommend that husbands "prepare" their wive's nipples for breastfeeding by sucking on them. Apparently, it is not something they recommend anymore, but it seems like it might be helpful in the case of inverted nipples since once a baby starts nursing they eventually become much less inverted. I'm no expert.....just thinking.

6) They also have several products to help with nursing. If you need them, I hear they can work wonders. However, if you don't need them, then I wouldn't bother because the less stuff you have to get together to feed your infant the better!!

7) This is probably the best tip I ever got, and it was from someone who never breastfed but got tired of always having to go get her sister stuff! Put things you might want while nursing in a basket: bottle of water, books, paper, pen, tv remotes, laptop, knitting, cell phone, etc. When you get the baby to nurse also get the basket! That way you won't get bored or feel like you aren't getting anything accomplished. I also found that if I used a boppy while sitting on the couch crosslegged, that I could rest Jessica in my elbow and have both hands free!

8) I felt very comfortable breastfeeding Jessica no matter where we were. This probably came from living in Mississippi. I can't tell you how many moms on a given Sunday nursed their babies straight through the sermon! During winter months I wore a large sweatshirt with an old t-shirt underneath that I had cut holes in. Then all I had to do was lift the sweatshirt a bit and let Jessica eat. Most people thought she was sleeping. During the summer I wore an old tank top with holes cut in it under t-shirts. I also had a couple nursing shirts that I enjoyed right after Jessica was born because they were a little roomier than my regular clothes. Nursing covers can be nice, but it's also like a big announcement "I am nursing my baby!" (Well, and I had to actually remember the cover!!!

I think the three things I enjoyed most about breastfeeding Jessica were 1) I had time each day where I was the only one who could make it all better. 2) It was one of the few times she sat still long enough for me to cuddle her once she got mobile! and 3) There was almost no prep work or clean up involved, and I never had to worry about having a little cooler with me to keep the milk cold, etc. There are also the health benefits: her getting my immunity through the milk, her getting exposure to all kinds of flavors through my milk, and the fat content is so good for little brains! Overall it was a very enjoyable experience, and I hope some of these tricks of the trade will help to make someone else's experience just as enjoyable! Feel free to post your experiences with breastfeeding, other tricks of the trade you have learned, etc.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maternity Clothes

Probably the number one thing I have the most trouble with while pregnant (other than not being able to push anything without getting sick) is figuring what to wear with my constantly changing shape. I am NOT very good at matching clothes...AT ALL....even when I stay the same size!! I also find it challenging because the way my body is I will carry every child really really low, which also means I will carry them straight out in front.

Me 7 months pregnant with Jessica beginning to outgrow the last of my maternity tops.

Although they now carry cute maternity clothes, they are very expensive and are made to fit people of an average size who grow proportionally. Seriously??? What woman can describe herself as an average size AND manages to grow proportionally throughout her pregnancy?!??! During my last pregnancy I out grew the large sized maternity clothes (which fit like a sack) by about month 7. The rest of the pregnancy I ended up wearing XL and XXL sized clothing (which also fit like a sack) because it was the only thing that would cover my gargantuan belly! Is it any wonder that I did not feel particularly good about how I looked, especially with strangers coming up to me and making comments about my size?? (Seriously...the gas station, the grocery store, restaurants...)

Me the week Jessica was born in my husband's XL t-shirt and below the belly maternity pants.

This time around I know what to expect, and I am bound and determined to feel good about how I look! Thursday I am going on a mission to the Motherhood Maternity Outlet to find some dresses that can be worn over leggings. I figure this would manage to cover my gargantuan belly till the very end! Apparently, this style is on its way out, so I need to get over there and buy some of whatever they have left. (From what I understand, they plan to bring back the 80's. Is it just me or was that a bad idea the first time around?!?!?!?!?!) As long as I can find one or two dresses that would work, I could always make more. I also had a friend who just finished with her maternity clothes who offered to let me use some of hers. That will be nice since I don't have a lot of winter maternity clothes and she does!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Preparing for Subsequent Children

Most of what you will need for subsequent children seems to depend on your other child(ren). For example if your children were all born about the same time of year then they can wear a lot of the same clothes. If you have a boy, but the next child is a girl, then you may need some new clothes as well. If you still have a child in cloth diapers, then you might need more cloth diapers. If your child is old enough to take care of themselves out in public, then mobility may not be much of an issue for you. In our case, we will have a 2.5 year old who may or may not be potty trained and who can definitely NOT take care of herself out in public!

1) Mobility is going to be an issue with a very active 2.5 year old. I think the Kolcraft Contour Double Stroller and the Gypsy Mama Water Wrap are going to be must haves at our house in order for me to keep up with two of them on the road and in the water! The stroller has lots of options for changing seat positions so you can effectively put a child in time-out while on the road! (I walk with moms of two children and let me tell you, THAT is an awesome feature!!!)

The seats can face each other, away from each other, both front, or both back. Perfect for time-out on the go.

I can definitely see myself chasing Jessica around the pool while wearing the new baby in this swimsuit material wrap!

2) I may also need to pick up some more cloth diapers/washcloths.

3) Definitely more soap and other consumables.

4) Clothes. This child will be born in a different season and may be a different gender. I have some gender neutral clothes and some heavy and light clothes for all sizes, but I may need to flesh it out a bit.

5) Nursing bras tend to wear out after one child from all the opening/closing, expanding and contracting, and later on tugging on by your child. I think new ones will be in order.

6) We have an infant car seat, but eventually we will need a convertible car seat. Jessica needed to stay backwards for a while because she was so lightweight, but she needed a convertible car seat because she got too tall for the infant car seat.

7) And then there is preparing Jessica for a new sibling. At some point before or after this baby arrives, she will be potty trained. At some point before or after this baby arrives she will also move to a big girl bed, which is all ready minus the mattress pad. However, the thing I have thought about the most is that I would like to give her a doll when the baby arrives complete with a diaper bag full of all the things that are in my diaper bag. (I think it will be absolutely adorable!)

Overall though, there are very few immediate essentials for subsequent children. Most of it is not truly essential and just comes down to how you can keep up with them without loosing your mind!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Trying to Beat Nausea

I usually end up feeling nauseated the entire time I am pregnant; however, it usually lightens up some after the first three months. On the bright side, I have a very strong stomach, so although I feel awful I rarely vomit! (There is a bright side to everything....sometimes you just have to look for it a little harder!) Here are a few things I have tried to do to help fight nausea:

1) Go out to eat. Far better to be repulsed by a restaurant than your own cooking!

2) Prepare dinner in a crock-pot and plug it up outside!

3) Prepare quick prepackaged dinners.

4) Wear a mask when you cook to block out smells.

5) Sleep through it.

6) Drink lots of gatorade (feeling nauseated and dehydrated is not a good combination!)

7) Eat whatever sounds good, whenever it sounds good!

8) Avoid things that don't appeal to you or make you feel worse.

9) Remember that feeling nauseated is often associated with a healthy pregnancy.

10) If it gets to the point that you can't keep food down, get some medication from the doctor.

11) If you have other children, get some prepackaged items that don't require prep-work for lunch!

12) If dealing with cloth diapers bothers you, wear a mask or switch to disposables (this did not work for us....Jessica ended up breaking out into a heat rash).

13) Hang on. It can't last forever!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The 10 Things You Need for Your First Baby

Our first photo together as a family

When you get pregnant with your first child, you are bombarded by fliers and magazines telling you about all of the things you must have to be prepared to welcome your little one. Truth be told most of these items, while sometimes very nice to have, are not absolutely necessary. Children will add some expense to your budget. However, you do not have to break the bank once you have children. People have been having children since the very beginning of time, and I guarantee you they made it just fine without a Babiesrus, Target, Toysrus, Baby Depot, Walmart, or whatever be your particular poison! That being said lets go through the items you WILL need!

Jessica in her second hand car seat that we lent to someone else and will be getting back for the new arrival!

1) A car seat is required by law if you want to take that precious baby home with you! You can get a used car seat as long as it has not been in a wreck and has not passed the don't use past date! On the bright side since very few people have 2-seater cars, you probably won't need a new car!

Yes, this is a photo of me breastfeeding Jessica last Christmas. You'd never know! Actually, I don't think Dad would have taken that picture if he had realized I was feeding Jessica.

2) One thing infants do a lot of in their first year is eat! Breastfeeding is the cheapest way to go, and most people can breastfeed exclusively if they so choose. It can also greatly reduce doctor's bills during the first year (especially if your child is cared for at home). The only items you truly need to breastfeed are nursing bras and nursing pads to accommodate all of the increased size and leakage associated with breastfeeding! I have heard you can make your own, but I haven't tried it. Boppy's are nice, but you can get by without them. Disposable nursing pads are nice the first couple weeks until your body figures out how much milk your baby needs! For sore nipples, I have found that clostrum (pre-breastmilk) and breastmilk help more than the creams.

First taste of homemade cereal mixed with breastmilk in her Bebe Pod. Note: If you make your own cereal, it would be a good idea of make sure your child is getting Poly Vi Sol vitamins as store bought cereal is fortified.

3) Once your baby starts eating food, the cheapest way to go is homemade baby food. All you need is to blend up some of your food before seasoning it and add a little water. Babies eat so little that I don't consider this to be an extra cost unless you get a new food blending tool. I personally recommend the Magic Bullet because it comes with some many attachments, if one is dirty you can just use the other one. However, you can make baby food without a fancy gadget. The best place to go for recipes and information on what to feed your baby when is You can get by without sippy cups and baby silverware and dishes.

All dressed up and no where to go!

4) With lots of eating comes lots of diaper changes! Cloth diapers are the absolute cheapest way to diaper your baby. I wrote about how to diaper your baby in prefolds for a total investment of $25 in Cloth Diapering on a Dime. That being said, I do love our Bumgenius One Size pocket diapers! They are great for bedtime and when we go places because they do not leak, but they are definitely more expensive than prefolds! However, there are organizations on the internet that will lend qualifying families cloth diapers. As for wipes, the cheapest way to go is soft rags (like old t-shirts) or baby washrags. I would make sure you had at least one rag per cloth diaper. And that is pretty much all you need! You may at some point need some diaper rash cream or cornstarch, but I would just wait and see what your baby needs. One last thing, you do have to wash cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I run mine through a rinse cyle and then put the rest of our clothes on top of them to wash and have never had any trouble. You may also hear that you need a special baby detergent. You don't as long as whatever you use is fragrance free and gentle on the skin!

Jessica in the cradle David built for her. He hopes to build something specifically for each of our children.

5) The only other things babies do a lot of the first year is sleep! Although it can be a lot of fun to decorate a nursery for them, they do not have to have their own room, and they do not even have to have a crib. Before my parents were given a crib, they had planned to let me sleep in a dresser drawer! While they could sleep in the bed with you, there is always the chance that you will roll over and suffocate them, especially in the early months. Once they get big enough, they could be transitioned to a big bed. I have heard of people who have done this quite successfully; however, we enjoyed the crib option! If your child is not sleeping on the opposite end of the house then you do not need a baby monitor. If you do use a crib when they are newborn, you might roll up a towel next to them so that the crib will not seem so huge. Remember, they are used to rather cramped living quarters! Speaking of which, some infants find white noise rather soothing in the beginning, as they are used to being lulled to sleep by momma's heartbeat! Swaddling is also wonderful for helping infants sleep. Most receiving blankets are too small to be used for very long. Jessica enjoyed being swaddled for most of her first year! You can either make your own, buy some large, lightweight blankets, or use baby towels. They are large, lightweight, and stretchy enough to do the job just fine! You will also need some heavier blankets for colder months.

Bath time in the sink!

6) A baby that eats and poops also needs to be bathed from time to time! In the beginning I bathed Jessica in the bathroom sink with a handtowel in the bottom for traction and comfort. As she got bigger I moved her to the bathtub with me until she was sturdy enough to sit in there by herself. All you have to have is the washclothes and towels you already have on your list and baby soap. None of the other products are necessary. I still wash Jessica's hair with soap only now we use homemade soap. Baby soap does not burn their eyes so I would stick with that for the first year.

I found the stroller particularly helpful when taking our furry "child" to the doctor!

7) Overtime your baby will stay awake as many hours a day as he or she sleeps. Most parents find it helpful to find something (other than themselves) to occupy their child's time. Swings, high chairs, slings, strollers, bouncers, jumparoos, walkers, bumbo chairs, and activity centers are some of the favorite ways parents contain their children. If I had to choose one, I would choose the stroller because it is so versitile. You can use it when going places. You can use it as a high chair. You can use it when your child needs movement to lull him to sleep. You can use it to contain them inside the house, and you can use it to push your child around the house while you clean or whatever. However, that being said I absolutely loved my Ultimate Baby Wrap!!! It was the only way I could get Jessica to nap the first few months, and I was able to use it until she was independent enough that she wanted to crawl or walk on her own! We also enjoyed using our Bebe Pod (bumbo seat) as a travel high chair before she was sturdy enough to sit in a restaurant high chair (it also came with a cool toy she absolutely loved!).

Jessica having the best time with an old watch and a plastic container!!

8) As your child becomes more independent, he or she will need things to do or toys to play with. Each child finds different things interesting. The important point here is that you really don't need to buy a lot of toys. Often they are just as happy playing with boxes, pots and pans, tupperware, socks, empty containers, books, etc. The first year is all about exploration of their world. As they get older, they get more enjoyment out of toys.

The staples of Jessica's 2009 wardrobe. Obviously, we did not wear a lot of clothes this summer! (It was too hot!)

9) Now at some point you will leave your house, and when you do, you will most definitely need baby clothes for the baby (if not before)! You don't need an astronomical number or type of clothes. You need enough to be able to change his outfit a couple times a day (accidents do happen), and you will need clothes appropriate for the season he is currently in. Baby clothes make great gifts for first time parents because they outgrow them so quickly. Used to be people made all of their own baby clothes, and typically they wore little gowns and grew with them. However, those are really hard to strap a child into a carseat in, especially if the weather is cold! I prefer to wait until after the first year to start making children's clothes. I often get clothes used or on sale at outlets.

Jessica loved The Ultimate Baby Wrap! And as you can see, you don't need baby hats can make a baby "doo rag" out of a onesie!

10) At some point you will probably travel with your baby. First-time parents usually pack lots of stuff they do not need to travel (probably because the extra space in the car is not taken up by other children)! All you have to take with you are the 10 items in bold above. Other things can be nice like a Bumbo seat or a bouncer seat, but you can get by without them. That being said, I have particularly enjoyed using my sling, travel high chair, and pack-n-play when we travel. I have already sung the praises of the Ultimate Baby Wrap up above. The pack-n-play is great for containing children while they sleep at places that may not be baby-friendly, and it makes a great location for time-out after the first year until they are able to follow instructions a little better! But, like I said none of it is truly necessary!

Isn't she absolutely precious?

And there you have it! The 10 things you need for your first baby! How many you need of these items primarily depends on how often you do laundry! We were quite fortunate to have many family and friends who wished to help us prepare for Jessica's arrival so we ended up with many things that while they are not necessary can be very nice to have! Nothing makes me feel more cared for than having people either do or give you something practical to your current circumstances!

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Favorite Books about Babies!

There are all kinds of books out there are pregnancy, child development, brain development, parenting, etc, and almost as many theories to match! I get very frustrated reading books telling you how to best nurture your child with absolutely no scientific background. However, what is even worse is when they take scientific studies and twist them to suit their own purposes. I prefer books that give you the scientific facts and then allow you to make your own decisions about what is best for your family. There are two books I particularly enjoyed when I was pregnant and shortly after Jessica was born and one that I am looking forward to getting my hands on this time around.

1) The book I turned to time and again after Jessica was born was Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality by Jana and Shu. It is an American Association of Pediatrics book (I have found several of their books to be full of good, reliable information.) written by two pediatricians who are also moms. I remembered a lot about newborn care from taking care of my brothers and sisters, but right before Jessica was born I got a little nervous that I might have forgotten something. This book was a great reference for anything from concerns about abnormal poop to high fevers!

2) When I found out I was pregnant with Jessica, I was absolutely fascinated in learning about brain development (probably due to the fact that I worked on an emphasis in Neuropsychology in graduate school)! I found a book I particularly enjoyed that was also very accessible to someone with a solid high school biology background called What's Going On in There: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First 5 Years of Life by Lise Eliot. Not only is Lise Eliot a neuroscientist, but she is also the mother of three children. She does an excellent job of exploring the factors involved in brain development while backing it up with research and plenty of real-world mom experience! It was exciting to learn at what point my unborn baby could hear me reading to her and how different choices I make as a parent can affect her developing brain! However, I must warn you. A lot of brain development is accomplished in utero and birth to two years so more emphasis is placed on those time frames than ages 3 to 5.

3) I am very excited about getting my hands on Lise Eliot's latest book Pink Baby, Blue Baby that was released just this fall about gender differences in brain development due to both nature and nurture! I think it sounds absolutely fascinating!

Front Porch Friday: One of God's Greatest Blessings

Many rabbis have taught that one of God's greatest blessings are children because it teaches us more about the Creator. Today David and I are incredibly blessed to be awaiting the arrival of another precious baby! We are almost a quarter of the way through this pregnancy and so far things look good! Although our last pregnancy did not make it, we are choosing to happily embrace this wee one even though we are still in the early stages of development. One of the greatest risks your heart ever takes in life is choosing to love someone, but I can think of nothing in life more worthwhile. That being said, we are choosing not to broadcast all of the exciting news on facebook out of respect for those who may find our good news a painful reminder at this junction in their lives.

First view of our wee one! See the head and arms and legs?

And now for all the juicy details! Our little one is due to arrive May 30, 2010. Today we went to the doctor for our first visit and got to see our wee one on the ultrasound! We saw its little arms and legs moving and its heart beating! David and I found it very exciting to see the little one moving around; however, I think it was a little lost on Jessica! We also got to hear the heartbeat. That did catch Jessica's attention! In a little over 10 weeks we will be able to see all of its organs to make sure everything is developing as it should (as well as if it is a boy or a girl)! This next week on the blog we will be focusing on pregnancy and baby topics (of course from a frugal and self-sufficient perspective) in celebration of the newest member of our family!!! Then I promise we will get on with topics relating to and celebrating the season!!!

Drumroll please!

Just wanted to let you know that more fun and excitement is on the way in approximately 6 hours!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just a bit of a tease...

I have something fun and exciting to post, but you will have to wait until Friday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Fun, Free, and Educational Activity for Kids!

Today Jessica and I decided to go to Lowe's for our morning outing! I know most people probably don't see Lowe's as the place for a child's morning outing. However, I have discovered that it makes for a fun, free, and educational activity for kids, and your house won't get dirty!!!

We started out with a ride on a John Deer lawnmower!

Next we tried out all of the patio furniture!

We have discovered that the swings are great fun!

Then we opened all the cabinets in the kitchen section.

....And all of the drawers!

She was quite curious to know what a bidet was!

She also had great fun with the faucets....don't worry....I explained to her that they are cantilever beams!

She also enjoyed being allowed to play in the toilets....FINALLY!!

We also had to check out the showers!

All of the different colors and textures on the tile samples were quite interesting!

No trip to Lowe's is complete without a visit to the drawer pulls!!

Finally, on our way out we stopped to rock in the rocking chairs!

w do you see what I mean about Lowe's being a fun, free, and educational activity for kids? It is the perfect activity no matter what the weather! How does Lowe's feel about us turning their store into a playground you ask? Actually, they have been wonderfully accommodating! I frequently have sales representatives stopping to talk to us and telling us about the children's projects they do on Saturdays!

Lowe's knows it is in their best interest to be family-friendly. Not only will parents be more likely to make trips to Lowe's with their children, but when those children grow up, they will remember Lowe's as the place Mom and Dad went to get all the things they needed for projects around the house! Lowe's makes a point of investing in the future of DIY projects by teaching people of all ages different skills to help them become more self-sufficient!

Disclaimer: I am not paid in any way to advertise for Lowe's. I just like our local Lowe's that much!!!

Fun with Scott and Ashley!

We had a wonderful time with Scott and Ashley this weekend!! Ashley made her wonderful Shrimp Pasta (among other things), and Scott did the dishes! It was pretty chilly so they did not get to enjoy the beach as much as they would have liked; however, we did go to the Gulfarium! It was a lot of fun, and Jessica really enjoyed herself!!

The sea lion kissed the dolphin at the multi-species show.

Jessica thought that was great fun!

The sea lion and the dolphin waved good-bye.

We all had to wave good-bye too!

There was a lot of different tanks to see! They also had several shows put on throughout the day. There was a sting ray feeding session right after the multi-species show, but we decided to fore go that one! There was also a very shallow tank where you could pick up the animals! However, Jessica's favorite part was a small room with 5 cages for birds. Jessica LOVES birds!!! The Gulfarium was rather expensive; however, since our zoo closed, the Gulfarium may be a good place to a pass to next year!

Ashley bought some sunglasses in the gift shop, and Jessica wore them all the way home!

We had a really good time hanging out with Scott and Ashley! Jessica absolutely LOVES Aunt Ashley! At one point Ashley was in the guest room, and Scott was in the bathroom. Jessica thought Ashley was in the bathroom so she went to the door, squatted down to look under the door, and said, "Ash-wee!!" When that didn't work, she got up and started banging on the door! Ashley also asked Jessica if she needed to go potty. Jessica went to her potty, sat down, and peed all by herself!!!!!! Now I just have to figure out a way to get Scott and Ashley to move down here!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Extra Special Visitors!

Today my wonderful brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Ashley, came to visit us! I am so excited to have them here with us for a long weekend!!!!!! (Seriously, you have NO idea!) We have a lot of excitement happening around here this next week so it is nice to have them around to dote on Jessica and cook Ashley's awesome Shrimp Pasta (among other things)!!!! They used to come down a lot while I was pregnant with Jessica, and they always cooked for us and did all the dishes!! They got a free place to stay near the beach so it worked out well for everyone! They have always been so thoughtful, and we always enjoy hanging out with them!! (Seriously, we really enjoy having them visit, not just because they often cook and do dishes!)

Scott and Ashley hanging out at our house after their long drive!

We are planning to go to a stargazing event put on by a local astronomy group this weekend, but other than that it should be pretty quiet around here! It will be a bit of a relief after this past week. Jessica started refusing to take naps until Thursday and completely wore her poor mother out! I also tried putting her in disposable diapers for part of the week because of some other things we had going on around our house (more about that later), and she got an awful diaper rash! Thankfully, we finally have that almost under control. On the whole we are looking forward to a very pleasant weekend and an enjoyable visit with Scott and Ashley (Jessica will especially enjoy that part!).