Thursday, August 30, 2012

community

Thousands of miles away, there is a war going on. We go about our daily lives and often forget about it because it is being fought on foreign soil and not in our neighborhood or backyard. But men and women, that could be our neighbors, are fighting and dying for our freedoms there every day.

On August 16th, Private First Class Michael DeMarsico II gave the ultimate sacrifice, protecting his fellow soldiers and protecting the freedoms of his country in Afghanistan.

I did not know Michael. I have no personal connection to him other than the fact that we were born and raised in the same city, the place we both call home. But yesterday, thousands lined the streets with American flags, silence and great respect, to welcome home this soldier's remains in a 15-vehicle motorcade. It was a hero's welcome and it touched my heart to see this community come together to support him and his family in this way.

On Saturday, the community will gather again to support the DeMarsico family. We will line the streets and surround the church. We will honor a fallen solider. We will lead by example, and teach our children to respect and appreciate the sacrifices our military and their families make to protect us. We will form a barrier and protect the family from the hateful people who have claimed they are coming to protest this military funeral. We will allow a family to mourn and bury their son, brother, cousin and friend, not just a random soldier, in peace and surrounded by love and respect.

I have never been more proud to be a part of this community and to raise my daughter here. My uncle served in the Gulf War. My brother-in-law is currently serving in Afghanistan. My daughter safely runs around in the backyard because of them, Michael, and many more brave men and women like them. My daughter may not even be 2 years old yet, but she knows that we fly the American flag on the porch for Uncle Ry Ry. I pray that she will grow to herself feel the respect that I have for our military and that she always has this sense of community support around her.

Thank you for your sacrifice, Michael. Our prayers are with you and your family. We appreciate your protection of our way of life here at home and your sacrifice. We are grateful. May you rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Audrey - 20 months

Audrey,

I know we are still 4 months away from your 2nd birthday, but I think we've hit the "terrible twos!" Some of your favorite things to say this month are "No, Mama!" and "No, Mama! Stop!" I think you enjoy climbing up on the table and doing other things Mama has told you are dangerous or not allowed, over and over and over, just to ruffle Mama's feathers! When you don't get your way, you will sometimes scream or throw a little fit, but Mama tries to stick to her guns. I consider myself a pretty patient person, but I have a feeling you're really going to test that character trait.

Despite the defiance, you really are a sweet little girl. You've been signing "thank you" for a long time now, but you are finally saying it too, though it sounds more like, "Dank a." Your vocabulary continues to expand at the speed of light. You repeat everything we say, and you are using short sentences almost all the time. "Two" and "too" are probably your favorite words this month. You can count to five, though you often get stuck on or skip three all together. But two is your favorite, and you love to count things that come in twos. You also love the word "too" and definitely know the distinction even though they sound the same and you don't know they are spelled differently. If someone is doing something, you'll say, "Audrey, too!" Mama may say, "Dada, Audrey had tomatoes from the garden for lunch." And you will chime in, "Cheese, too!" Those are just a couple examples, but you find a way to fit that word in often.


Your hair is finally just long enough to put in pigtails now! Mama thinks you are the cutest thing ever and tries to put them in every day, but you are not too fond of it!

Your rain boots are your favorite accessory and you wear them every chance you get. You absolutely must wear them when you go to pick in the garden, and the other night you wouldn't eat dinner unless you had them on.

You loved watching the Olympics this month! The first time you saw gymnastics on the television, you were completely in awe. When the routine stopped, you rolled around on the ground, stood up and put your hands in the air, and said, "Ta da!" It was so completely adorable! You try to do the "balance beam," and love to say, "Mark, set, GO!" and run as fast as you can.

video

We still aren't pushing the potty training. You don't tell us when you have to go yet, but you go when we put you on. You even did poo poo on the potty for the first time the other day, all by yourself!


Your cousin Blake turned 1 this month, and you had so much fun at his party. You love playing with him and all his new toys, but you especially love building with his Mega Blocks. You love them so much that Mama had to get you some of your own. You build castles as tall as you can, then knock them down, only to build them back up all over again.



As always, you frustrate and challenge me on a daily basis, but you continue to inspire me and open my mind and heart in new and more wonderful ways. I love more than words and count myself blessed to be your Mama.

Love you "much," sweetheart!
Mama

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Night Circus

"And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister's story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story?"
I just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I absolutely loved it. I don't usually care for books that go back and forth in time and/or between lots of different characters, but Morgenstern executes it to perfection and the result is magic. The story flows flawlessly and the characters are enchanting and captivating. In the end, the characters and story come together seamlessly, and not in an overly predictable way. It is not a book I would have probably chosen to read on my own, but I'm really glad a friend recommended it and that I took her word on it.




Thursday, August 23, 2012

perspective

Our errands this morning ran into nap time and Audrey fell asleep before our last stop. So I took her out of the car seat and put her head on my shoulder thinking we'd only be a minute or two. She weighs just about 30 pounds now, so as I waited at the pharmacy, standing and holding her for 5...10...20 minutes, I started to get irritated. It shouldn't have been taking this long and she is heavy. I finally found a place to sit down and an older gentleman stopped right by us. He smiled at me and said, "She's beautiful. I wish I could still hold my kids while they slept." Then he just walked away. I smiled and looked at my little sleeping beauty. Thanks for the dose of perspective, mister.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hollywood media drama

I don't usually post things like this on my blog or really pay it all that much attention anyway, but man are they tearing Kristen Stewart apart in the press. I don't in any way condone cheating, but jeeeez louise, give the girl a break! She made a mistake. We're all human. What she did is between her and her boyfriend. And not that it makes it any better that she wasn't married, but what about the MARRIED man with children that kissed her back. There aren't even half as many "reports" about him. She made her bed, and now she has to lay in it, but that doesn't mean it is any of our business. Leave her alone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

L L F M D: Don't be afraid to have a soft heart


8. Don't be afraid to have a soft heart.

There is a difference between being a compassionate, caring, kindhearted person, and being a push-over. Society pushes on us the belief that we cannot be strong, independent women unless we harden our hearts. It is quite the opposite really. I hope I show you and the world that you can feel your emotions, be affected by people and things and still be very much in control of your life. Show people love, gratitude and kindness, but don't let them walk all over you. There is strength in allowing yourself to feel and experience emotions, people, places, words and situations. Don't be afraid to have a soft heart, and don't let anyone take it from you.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

DIY Personalized Dish Towels

My best friend has a lot of really wonderful things happening in her life right now, including the brand new house she bought with her husband! Today is their housewarming party and I wanted to bring them a little gift. Since I'm a stay-at-home mom and we live on one income, we don't have a lot of extra cash. But I still wanted to do something for them, something personal.

April is a designer and their wedding invitations featured a custom monogram of sorts that she designed. I used that idea and the fact that I knew they painted their new kitchen green to make them these custom dish towels!


You start with some plain, white flour sack dish towels.


Next, I found a font I liked and created a Word document with a monogram similar to what they had on their wedding invitations. I then cut some freezer paper down to 8.5"x11" and printed the monogram onto the MAT side of the paper. (The freezer paper fed into my printer just fine, but if you're having trouble, you could always print on regular paper and trace it onto the freezer paper.)


With a mat and x-acto knife, carefully cut out the letters.


You just need the negative of the letters, so you can throw the black away, but make sure to save the little white middles of "a"s and "e"s for example.


Take the negative and iron it, glossy side down, onto the dish towel.


With a plastic bag underneath the towel to protect your table, use a sponge brush to fill in the letters, being careful to dab up and down and not paint side to side. I used regular acrylic paint because that's what I had, but I think fabric paint would work even better.

(I forgot to take a picture of this step, so this picture does not actually show it ironed down. Your stencil should be completely adhered to the towel, with no parts sticking up, otherwise, your paint will bleed. And yes, you can use your freezer paper stencil more than once!)

Let the paint dry (I let mine dry overnight) and then peel off the freezer paper.


A butterfly may even come and land on your towel because it is so impressed with your craftiness!

Heat set the paint by using an iron on both the front and back of the painted parts, or by the instructions on your paint.


You're done! I ironed and folded them to make them look pretty,


tied them with some twine for presentation, and voila!


You now have a personalized housewarming gift that barely costs anything to make and is super simple!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cloth diaper update

I've been meaning to do a cloth diaper update for a while now, but I just haven't gotten around to it. Today, I stop procrastinating and get it written down! Audrey is already using the potty 3-4 times a day, and I want to get it recorded before she's potty trained!

In my original cloth diapering post, I broke down what we have for products and what our routines are. As with most parts of parenthood, we're learning as we go and a few things have changed for us.

We are still using Flips during the day, but we found that Audrey was leaking at night because she just pees so much! We tried using 2 liners and even stripped them, and she was still leaking. So we invested in 3 BumGenius Freetime All-In-Ones. We only use them at night, but they are a little bit more absorbent so they've solved our leaking issue. We have also added 3 more Flip covers and 2 more inserts to our supply just to have a few extra.

My dirty diaper bag is still in great condition and we've had no leaks at all.

My wash routine is probably the biggest thing that has changed. I have tried many different things, but we're using a front loading, high efficiency washer now, so we had to change things up a little. I found that because the washer is saving water and the diapers aren't sitting in a drum of water and soaking, that they just weren't getting clean. They were starting to smell and it was just gross. So I did some internet research to see what other cloth diapering mamas were doing with a high efficiency washer. I played around with the cycles myself, and eventually I came up with this:

  1. Rinse cycle only in cold water with extra high spin cycle. (This does exactly what it sounds like, rinses out all the pee and poop soaked into the diapers.)
  2. Handwash cycle in cold water with NO SPIN CYCLE. (This adds water to the diapers before they are washed. I've found it really helps since they are not sitting in a drum of water to soak.)
  3. Sanitize cycle using Dreft laundry soap with extra high spin cycle. (This is obviously the cycle that gets them clean. I like the sanitize feature, but hot water would probably work just as well.)
  4. Quick wash cycle with warm water and extra high rinse cycle. (I was just using an extra rinse cycle, but I found that because the washer uses less water, the soap was building up in the diapers. A quick wash cycle is the same length as a rinse cycle, but it gives you the option to use warm water, which I've found washes out more of the soap.)

Despite how long it takes to wash a load of diapers from start to finish, I'm happy with this routine. I really hater the front loading washer though. The drier I love!!

That's it I think. Everything else has pretty much stayed the same. I've been really happy with our choice to cloth diaper and I've recommended it to many friends. Although, I must say, I am looking forward to Audrey being potty trained!