Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday-The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

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Although I bought this book when it was first released, it is a recent favorite in our home.  Even my husband loves it and my son couldn't wait to take it to school to share with his classmates.

Duncan's crayons have all turned against him.  Some are tired because they're used too much.  Some want to be used more.  Yellow and orange aren't speaking to each other because they both think they are the true color of the sun.  Peach lost his wrapper so now he's naked (my son's favorite part!), and poor pink doesn't want to be known as only a 'girl color'.  They decide to write Duncan a series of letters to voice their complaints.  Duncan listens to his crayons and at the end he colors a beautiful, creative picture using all of his crayons the way they want to be used.

The Day the Crayons Quit has a unique storyline to which all kids can relate.  Each crayon has it's own distinct voice and wishes to be heard.  The message of creativity in this book is truly special, particularly in a day when the arts seem to get left behind.

Everyone in our family highly recommends The Day the Crayons Quit!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Car Seat Safety Tips for Winter

Car seat safety is very important to me.  I was the last of my friends to forward-face my son in his convertible car seat.  We turned him a couple of weeks before his second birthday.  This was before it was actually the law to rear-face until age two.  With winter approaching...well, I'm in Ohio, it's here...I feel it's important to review some car seat safety tips.

No coats in car seats!  My grandmother still to this day tells me that my child needs his coat on in the car.  I have told her until I'm blue in the face that it's not safe.  With a coat on, it is impossible to get the straps tight enough to actually hold your child in the seat in the event of an accident.  I have seen very graphic pictures and videos of a coat left behind in the car seat while the child wearing it was ejected.  I thought this was common sense in this day and age, but I just saw a picture a friend posted on Facebook of her three kids wearing coats while strapped in their car seats.

Tom's Ware Unisex-baby Winter Lamby Hoodie
Tom's Ware Winter Lamby Hoodie
What to do instead:  Have your child wear his coat to the car, remove it before getting in the seat, and cover the child with his coat or blanket.  We always keep a blanket in the car for this purpose.  Yes, it's an extra step and it takes some time, but your child's safety is worth it.  For the non-walking child, you can purchase an all-in-one suit that zips.  I am not talking about a bulky snow suit, rather a light-weight fleece that your child can wear over his regular clothing.  Something similar to the picture to the right would be perfect.

Cozy Cover
Nothing between the infant seat and your child.  There is a popular brand of car seat blanket that goes behind your child and zips up around them.  I'm guilty because I had one with my son.  I didn't know at the time how unsafe it was.  I thought it was an alternative to wearing a coat.  The concept is the same as coats in the car seat, though.  You cannot get the car seat straps tight enough to protect your child during an accident.

What to do instead:  For infant carriers, purchase a cover that goes around the outside of the car seat.  I purchased this cozy cover for my daughter.  It was cheaper than other brands and it fits our Graco Click Connect car seat just fine.

Other tips:  
Warm the car ahead of time.  Most cars have remote start systems, and for those who don't, take the extra five minutes to start your car before you head outside.  (Just remember to raise your garage door!)

Older children can wear a thin coat in the car seat, just make sure to move coat down over the shoulders so it does not come between the straps and the child.  Once buckled, zip the coat up around the child.

A child-size snuggie is perfect for keeping the child warm in the car seat.  After the child is buckled in, have them slip their arms through the sleeves and cover up!  They make fun ones for kids, my son has one that looks like Buzz Lightyear.

You should not be able to "pinch an inch" of the car seat straps.  If you can, the straps are too loose.

Many car seat manufacturers do not recommend any after-market products and the use of after-market products voids the warranty.

For more information, visit

Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas at Disney-A Truly Magical Experience

I have had the opportunity to experience Walt Disney World at Christmas time three times.  The first time I went to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Spectacle of Lights.  The second time, my son was 18 months old, and we spent about four days at Disney.  This past year we went again as sort of a "last vacation as a family-of-three."  We stayed on property for five days and purchased the Dining Plan.  Of course, this was my favorite of all three trips.  There is just something so special about Disney at Christmastime.  If you can get past the crowds (I can, it is more difficult for my husband), it is truly magical.  All three times we actually went after Christmas, so we have never gotten to experience Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  Maybe one of these days we will make it down before Christmas (and before the crowds).  That's the curse of being a teacher, we can't travel during off-season.  The Fast Pass + helped us a lot with the crowds.  We have been to Disney so many times that I knew which rides we would need Fast Passes for and which we wouldn't.  I also knew which rides were "must-do" for my son.  We booked pretty late, but we were still able to get dining at most of the restaurants that we wanted, and we were also forced to try some new restaurants as well.  We ate at Biergarten in the Germany pavilion at Epcot and the dimming of the lights while entire restaurant sang Silent Night together was truly something spectacular.

While it's tough to choose a favorite, I would have to say my favorite park at Christmas is Hollywood Studios.  The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights is something that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.  It was so fun watching my son see it when he was 18 months old, and even more fun watching him see it as a five-year-old.  We had a lot of fun walking through and trying to count all the hidden Mickeys.  I can't remember exactly, but I think we found almost all of them!

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The Osborne Family's Spectacle of Dancing Lights
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Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
To see Cinderella's castle lit up for Christmas is absolutely breathtaking.  This past week, Disney lit the castle for the season and seeing pictures of it gave me chills.  That's just in pictures!  Seeing it in person is even better!  The Christmas parade is also fun to watch because it's something different from the Electrical Parade that we have seen so many times before.

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Christmas Tree at Animal Kingdom

One thing that I really wanted to do this time was resort-hop to see all of the decorations.  The Grand Floridian was beautiful, as always, and they featured a magnificent life-size gingerbread house.  The Beach Club Resort had an incredible gingerbread carousel.  Each resort also featured Christmas trees specific to the resort theme.  For example, a Christmas tree at the Polynesian featured hibiscus flowers.  I think my favorite Christmas tree, though, was at the entrance to Animal Kingdom.  The animal-themed ornaments were amazing.

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Gingerbread Carousel at Beach Club Resort
Due to the crowds at Christmastime, this is the perfect occasion to experience Disney in ways you may not have before.  There is so much more to Disney than the rides.  While I personally love the Hall of Presidents, not many people do, so remove yourself from the crowds for a bit and take in a little history.  We also explored Tom Sawyer Island, which we have skipped many times in the past.  While my husband and son rode Star Tours for the umpteenth time, I took the opportunity to view the "One Man's Dream" exhibit about Walt Disney.

I highly recommend everyone go to Walt Disney World at Christmas at least once in their lifetime.  If you're like me, you'll be hooked.  I can't wait to go back in a few years and take baby girl.  (Don't tell my husband, though....)
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Our family at Magic Kingdom

Thursday, November 13, 2014

So...You Want to Breastfeed?

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I am a proud breastfeeding momma.  I nursed my son until he was a year old and my daughter is six months old and still going strong.  I went back to work when my son was six weeks old, so I pumped milk for him and he got it through the bottle.  Neither of my children have ever had a drop of formula.  I'm not into playing "Mommy Wars" but I really feel like if you truly want to breastfeed your children, you can and will.  I hate hearing "Oh, I really wanted to breastfeed, but my milk didn't come in" or "I breastfed for two weeks before I dried up."  Sorry, I don't buy that.  I'm going on 19 months in my breastfeeding career, if you will, and I've never had those concerns.  There are very few health impairments that would cause a mother not to breastfeed their children.  I have more respect for the women who choose not to breastfeed because it's just not for them than those who make up every excuse in the book about why it didn't work.  In my opinion, it's more of a perceived convenience problem for those mothers.  For some reason that I truly do not understand, people believe it is more convenient to bottle feed their child.  I'm really not sure what is more convenient than breasts you have with you everywhere you go...

If you truly want to breastfeed your children whether it be for the health benefits of both you and your child, the bonding, the convenience of it, or all of the above, this post is for you.

Take a class.  When I was pregnant with my son, a breastfeeding class was offered along with our childbirth classes.  This class was given by a nurse who was also a lactation consultant.  We watched videos, practiced different holds, and were given many valuable resources.  Though you don't truly know what to expect until you are holding that little baby in your arms trying to teach her to nurse, it really helps to be prepared.  My hospital also offered a class after the baby was born.  I attended that as well, but the one I took prior to birth was more informative.

Seek the help of a lactation consultant.  My firstborn was the toughest to nurse.  We were both learning and I didn't know how to help him.  My hospital is breastfeeding friendly and had lactation consultants on hand to support you in any way possible.  She really helped me with proper positioning and latch.  I didn't need the help with my daughter...she latched on right from the start...but the lactation consultant called my room three different times throughout our 8-day stay to see if I needed her.  I felt so bad telling her no all the time, I almost had her come in anyways!

Have a supportive partner.  My husband is pretty good about trusting my decision making, especially when it comes to the children.  He never once doubted that breastfeeding was what was best.  He never tried to convince me to "just give the baby a bottle."  My baby girl doesn't take to bottles very well so we don't get out much without her, and that is perfectly ok with him.  My husband attended the breastfeeding class with me, and I think that helped as well.  In the beginning with both children, he would help me get situated with pillows, help position the baby, and bring me water and snacks.  I've heard mothers say, "I want the dad to be able to bond with the baby too." There are plenty of other ways for a father to bond with his child.  Nothing would ever compare a nursing baby's bond with his mother.

Where there's a will.  I put it into my mind I was going to breastfeed, and I didn't look back.  I never looked at formula as an option.  In fact, I don't know that we've ever even kept formula in the house.  Anytime my children and I were together, I was breastfeeding.  Not 24/7 of course, but if I was with my children, they did not receive bottles.  I believe that is why I was able to successfully pump for 11 months with my son.  My milk supply was maintained by my child nursing in the evenings and on the weekends because the body responds better to a baby than to a breast pump.

My go-to website for anything breastfeeding related is  This is where I learned that I had a fast let-down and how to curb it.  This site is where I go to check what medications are ok to take while breastfeeding.  I also learned the best pumping techniques and how much milk I would need to pump while I was at work.  Neat little factoid:  Babies only need one ounce of breast milk for each hour they are away from you.  Unlike formula, this never changes!  My son took two four-ounce bottles of breast milk from the time he was an infant until he was a year old.  Your milk changes to meet the baby's cool.   There is also a directory of lactation consultants and a wealth of other information.  I highly recommend you check them out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Crazy for Crochet

In my absence, or more likely, my absence is due to my new pastime--crochet.  I kept seeing all these adorable things on Pinterest, and I finally decided to pick it up.  My grandma tried to teach me to crochet several years ago.  I had some yarn and a hook and one Saturday I sat down with that and my iPad and started watching and practicing along with YouTube videos.  Just a few short days later, I made my first scarf. Please ignore the terrible double chin in the picture.

Then I made a (very ugly) hat for baby girl.  I went to Michaels, bought some more yarn, and made another hat.  It ended up way to big, and I'm still not sure what went wrong, but it was really cute! Maybe her head is smaller than the average six-month-old, I don't know.  Maybe she'll grow into it....

Since then, I made several pairs of booties and slippers.  Actually, I can't even say pairs, because most of the time, the first one didn't turn out so I didn't bother with the second.  I bought some new yarn, a few more hooks, and was determined to make a pair of Mary Jane crochet slippers for my baby girl.  This was the result:
Not bad right?  The strappy part was in two different locations, and I swear I had it right before I finished it off, but I thought they were cute.  They actually ended up a little small, so I'm going to make the next size up before football season is over!  (Notice, they're scarlet & gray...the colors of my Buckeyes!)

Next, I made a hat for my little boy.  (Buckeyes, again!) But somehow, he has ended up stretching it out to the point where it is wayyyy too big on him now.  Any crocheters out there know what I did wrong and what I can do differently next time?  He loved the hat.  He was so sweet.  He kept saying, "Thank you, Mommy for making this hat for me."  My mom said he told everyone at church that Mommy made his hat.
My most favorite creation so far is this Minnie Mouse hat.
Yes, the model is the absolute cutest, but the hat is pretty darn cute too!  I think I found this pattern at but now I can't find it to link to it.  I hope she didn't take it down!  I would love to make another one in the next size up! 

I've also made some slippers for myself and this mug cozy:
Picking up crochet has taught me a lot of things about myself.  First, I learned the level of determination I have.  Things have always come pretty easy to me.  I was always pretty decent in school and even when I struggled, it always seemed to work itself out.  I put my mind to learning how to crochet, and I succeeded in making several successful projects in just a few short weeks.  My level of perfectionism took on new heights with crochet.  I'm a Virgo, so I'm a perfectionist.  But I'm a weird Virgo, maybe because I'm on the cusp of Leo, so I'm only a perfectionist about select things.  Writing on the chalkboard has to be straight.  Grammar has to be correct.  My desk, however, does not need to be clean.  With crochet, though, I had to be perfect.  Many times I had a project nearly finished before I realized it wasn't coming out the way I wanted.  I would take it all out and start over again.  I probably drove my husband crazy.  And dropped a few curse words.  I think the perfectionism is what motivates me.  I want to keep trying until I can do it perfectly.  I also learned that crochet is the one thing that I picked up that would take me away from my books.  I can't read a good book and crochet at the same time.  I would have serious internal conflict about which to do when, and it gave me great anxiety.  I'm kidding, but there may be a teensy bit of truth.  I also learned that I do have just a little bit of craftiness inside me.  My mom is the crafty one.  I try, but most of the time, my projects would end up as Pinterest fails.  Don't get me wrong, I've failed several times at my crochet projects, but I'm pretty happy with how a lot has turned out!  If you want to follow my Pinterest Board "Gettin' Crafty" click here.

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