Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes Jan 31, 2013

--- 1 ---
My baby turned one this week! Where did this year go?!?

--- 2 ---
My friend Kilee has an Etsy store where she sells leather belts for babies & toddlers and leather cuffs and earrings for mamas, and today started selling these amazing teardrop earrings in a 2" size! I ordered silver for myself and can't wait to get them! She has free shipping (no coupon code needed!) through the weekend, so I definitely recommend grabbing a pair for yourself!

--- 3 ---
I'm working on some fun giveaways for February, including a building kit (think giant tinker toys) and a woven wrap! Check back soon for more details and to enter!!

--- 4 ---
Do you have Amazon Prime ? We discovered it has all the episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation for free with a Prime membership, so we have been watching an episode most nights. Our preschooler keeps asking whether "the Borg" are in each episode, lol. He ought to be a Trekkie-we watched every episode of the original series while I was pregnant with him!

--- 5 ---
Boy #2 got promoted this week to being allowed to help load the dishwasher on top of his previous chores of setting the table and unloading the dishwasher. And he's thrilled. And I'm thrilled. Everyone wins. Yay for kids who want to do things themselves and are still impressed by the novelty of being allowed to handle butter knives!!
--- 6 ---
Boy #1 is a lean mean crawling machine these days, not to mention pulling himself to a kneel and to a stand constantly! He is always on the go and always working those muscles. And he's getting more vocal about what he wants. When boy #1 takes his toys now he fusses almost as much as he does from pain or injury (actually he cries more than he does at blood draws!). 

--- 7 ---
A new season of my CW guilty pleasure, the Tomorrow People, is well underway and it looks like the main character's little brother, Luca, is finally getting his powers! Stephen has been criticized as an underwhelming and/or miscast leading man by many fans (and non fans) of the show, so it's exciting to see another potential main character. I'd love to see some storylines with him and some of the other younger Tomorrow People, like geeky Kelsey or Citadel-escapee Chloe! Not to mention Alexa Vega's extended guest role on the show this season. Definitely spicing things up at Ultra! For all the poor acting and predictable storylines, I really think the Tomorrow People is one of the best sci-fi shows on right now, thanks to good acting by other characters, a fun premise, and compelling characters. I hope it keeps airing for a long time!

What TV show do you love despite its flaws?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Amazon link is an affiliate link, but I didn't receive any compensation for writing this post. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Felt Finger Puppet Frog Tutorial & Free Pattern

On Thursdays I'll repost old posts that I think are worth sharing again, many from my old blog Maman A Droit. I may make a few changes to them, primarily fixing errors and updating links. I hope you enjoy them as much this time around! The following post was originally published on April 1, 2011.

Introducing the newest addition to our felt finger puppet family...a frog! He'll be going in my son's Easter basket along with the bunny finger puppet I made earlier.

Materials Needed:

  • Green felt
  • White felt (scraps)
  • Black felt scraps and/or black thread for eyes
  • Green thread
  • White thread
  • Red or pink thread for mouth
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery needle
  • Two straight pins (optional)

This frog puppet is super easy. The head with eye bulges is all one piece, and pretty much all you have to do is sew on the eyes, nose and mouth, then assemble it all with some quick blanket stitch or backstitch. Which, in case I haven't mentioned, is really easy to learn. Believe it or not, I taught myself blanket stitch from a YouTube video just a few months ago!


If you want your frog finger puppet to be a toad finger puppet instead, you could use olive green felt and cut muddy brown spots out using the eye pupil circle from my pattern. Then, sew the spots at random on the body and face of the your toad. Muddy brown French knots can enhance the toady look.

For a tropical tree frog finger puppet, make the eye bulges a separate piece from the head itself and use bright orange or blue felt (or how cute would a hot pink and purple tree frog be?!?). Make a tummy circle out of the same bright color as the eye bulges (you can use the tummy oval from my monkey finger puppet pattern). Use black French knots to make a fun polka dot pattern if desired!

If you don't want to attempt sewing, you could use felt glue, but if you do I wouldn't recommend letting anyone who still chews toys play with it lest an eye come off!

The free PDF frog finger puppet pattern on Google docs is here.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wear them Wednesday Jan 29, 2014

One I Love
Diva Milano Barocco Lions Turchese. All-cotton, gray and turquoise. I like to pretend my eyes are the same color of this wrap, and we once spent 6 hours together at the zoo as well as several hours picking apples at a local orchard, not to mention many less exciting days of wrapping, so I think it's fair to say this is one of my favorite wraps. Lions are also the first wrap of mine that my mother-in-law liked, so that earns them bonus points!

please excuse my wind-blown least the wrap looks awesome, right?!?

Right side:

Close up!

Wrong side:

One I Want

*Photo from the Artipoppe Facebook page; used with permission

This green and blue wrap in 50% nightblue Egyptian cotton, 42% green Egyptian cotton and 8% green cashmere from Artipoppe sings to me. The colors, the pretty! I'm trying to console myself for not being lucky enough to get it when they released it a few weeks ago by reminding myself the cashmere might be too warm in summer...but ooh boy it's a beautiful wrap!

One Way to Wear It

One of my favorite ways to wear a woven wrap is a front cross carry, tied at the hip. It is a poppable carry so you can get baby in and out easily, and tying the knot on the side instead of front helps avoid adding awkward bulk to your midsection if you're like me and don't need any extra there! FCC is one of the first carries I learned and I still use it regularly!

The ever helpful Babywearing Faith (who you really ought to follow on Facebook and YouTube if you're interested in learning new carries!) of course has a video for Front Cross Carry:

And to tie it at your hip, you'll have to experiment a little with where the sweet spot is for you, but for me with a size 5 it works best to have the middle marker just about at my shoulder blade opposite the hip I plan to tie on rather than the actual middle of my back

PS: I reviewed The Babywearing Workout (spoiler alert: I love it!) earlier in the week, so be sure to check it out if you're looking for ways to stay in shape while wearing baby! My review is here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Birthday to Baby #2!!!

I can hardly believe it, but my baby is now a year old! What a year it has been! 
Beginning with a failed VBAC and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome, it hasn't always been our easiest year, but he has helped make it one full of so much joy and laughter. He's now crawling all over, climbing onto things, pulling himself up to a kneel and to a stand, loves playing with his brother, reading books together, eating anything I bake and anything with lots of flavor, like tacos and spaghetti, and cuddling with his mama, daddy, and brother.
We are so proud of our sweet boy for all he has learned and taught us this year and can't wait to share many more years together :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Babywearing Workout Review

What it is
The Babywearing Workout is a 30 minute exercise video designed to be done while your baby is in a wrap or carrier.

Who made it
Kelli Stewart, a mom and health expert who blogs here. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube

The Scoop
The Babywearing Workout features Kelli and her adorable daughter in a park leading viewers through exercises from gentle stretching to tricep dips, squats, kicks, and more. I think Kelli has great composure and leads the exercises well, and my heart totally melts at her grin when she tells us to kiss our babies (in the course of the workout-this is definitely my kind of workout!) She is so charming and you can see how smitten she is with her baby. The exercises are fairly simple, and on the surface don't seem that difficult, but I always get sweaty, I always feel it the next day, and I can't keep up on the triceps dips at all! I think Kelli includes a good variety of moves to work different parts of the body, and I like the way she pairs exercises so you aren't just doing a million of the same thing all at once but you do still get plenty of each particular exercise in.
That being said, I was disappointed in the production values (alert! mass comm nerd in me coming out!). I don't think the location she chose was ideal at all, as a few times airplanes flew overhead and made it nearly impossible to hear her. It was also obvious that the music had been added in later, as she does not always quite do the moves in sync to the music. 
I would love to see Kelli someday do an updated version, in an exercise studio and doing the moves to the music. And maybe even add a few harder moves, for people who feel they are ready for a little bit more of a challenge! 
I think it's such a brilliant concept though that even as a mass comm nerd I am totally willing to overlook the production issues and have made this workout part of my regular fitness schedule. I have been doing it several times a week for a couple weeks and I have so much more energy now and have lost a couple pounds! The cutest part is that my four year old likes to exercise too, and always wants to put a "baby" in his shirt to do so. And by baby, I mean a plush snowman or a large Spider-Man. Lol. 

I personally am definitely not interested in leaving my kids with someone else so I can exercise, and it has been difficult in the past to stay fit, especially during winter, from just walking, but I feel like The Babywearing Workout is the missing piece of the puzzle! I love the convenience of being able to workout anytime my son is napping and/or cuddling in the wrap and think this is a must-have for any babywearing mom. 

I also want to take a minute to mention Kelli's amazing customer service. Right when I was first trying to download The Babywearing Workout, I had some computer issues and then got a new computer with Windows 8 and had a hard time getting used to it at first, and she was SO helpful and sympathetic as I told her my computer woes and actually helped me figure out the problem (my hint for fellow Windows 8 users: download QuickTime and the .mov version of The Babywearing Workout even though technically that's the "Apple version" and you're using a PC). I think that's one of the best things about working with a small business run by a mom-you can get amazing customer service! 

And Kelli also posts personally in the private FB group for The Babywearing Workout, and has fun fitness challenges and giveaways for babywearing moms. Right now she is doing a New Year's Challenge, and it's not too late to join in! You can find details here and this week's giveaway for a baby K'tan here

Great customer service

Low production values

Get it
You can get The Babywearing Workout directly from their website or from Amazon. It is available as an .mpg or .mov file for $9.95 or as a DVD mailed to your house for $19.95

Want a sneak peek? Here's a preview from Kelli's YouTube channel:

The Bottom Line
A wonderful way for moms to stay in shape and care for babies at the same time. Definitely worth buying and incorporating into your fitness schedule.

I received a complimentary copy of The Babywearing Workout to review, but was not compensated in any other way. Links to The Babywearing Workout in this post are affiliate links.

Monday, January 20, 2014

#NaturalParents Twitter party tonight!!!

Yours truly will be hosting a twitter party tonight for @NatParNet (Natural Parents' Network)! There are some amazing prizes, including the difficult-to-find Jules BumGenius cloth diaper, organic candy from one of my favorite companies, SunRidge Farms, plantable Valentine's Day cards filled with flower seeds inside the paper, and more! There's also special door prize (one of the prizes, randomly selected) that you can only win if you RSVP, so be sure to go here and RSVP through the Rafflecopter form! See you tonight at 10 eastern/9 central/7 pacific with the hashtag #NaturalParents!

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes January 17, 2013

--- 1 ---
On Monday I'm hosting a Twitter party for the first time ever! The party is the Natural Parents' Network Valentine's Day Twitter Party and I'll be tweeting as the host, @NatParNet. It's at 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific on Monday the 20th of January with the hashtag #NaturalParents. There are tons of great prizes, so if you're interested, you should check out the details here (and RSVP because we are saving one of the prizes just for someone who RSVPs!)

--- 2 ---
I mentioned it yesterday, but after a long battle with my old laptop and my new desktop, I finally got The Babywearing Workout to download and play, and I love it! I am working on a full review, but I am already feeling it in my muscles-but not toooo much-so I know it's a good amount of exercise for me! Anyway, she is doing a New Year's health challenge with tons of great prizes so I definitely encourage you to sign up for the challenge if you have or plan to get the DVD!

--- 3 ---
We got a new computer! Hurray! The bad news is that it comes with Windows 8, and it appears Microsoft, in their attempt to differentiate themselves from Apple, decided to make everything as counterintuitive as possible. I'm still figuring out all the work arounds, but cautiously optimistic it will be an awesome, fully functional computer soon!

--- 4 ---
Boy #2 is fully mobile these days and getting into everything! He crawls all over the house and pulls himself to kneeling and standing on all sorts of things and tries to eat anything Boy #1 leaves on the ground. But his best new trick is rolling a ball! His face lights up so wonderfully when he rolls the ball back and forth with us, and he is actually pretty good at it for a baby!

--- 5 ---
Boy #2 is going to be one in just a couple weeks! Eek! I need to get cute cups and plates and napkins and bake a cake! Oh, and order him a present. What are your favorite first birthday presents for someone who has an older brother who used to be the only grandchild on either side and therefore has entirely too many baby toys already?!?

--- 6 ---
Boy #1 is really truly turning into a big kid. He is so thoughtful and funny these days, and while he still has tantrums sometimes, he is mostly so mature and wonderful to be around. I am getting as many snuggles as possible from him in while I can still scoop him up in my lap in the rocking chair and read him Curious George and have him think that's the best thing that happened to him all day. 

--- 7 ---
A new season of American Idol just started! Last winter we would all snuggle up on the couch together, me nursing little newborn Boy #2 while we watched. This year everyone climbed and crawled and made noise all over the playroom while we watched. I could hardly hear! Mostly I think I like Harry Conick but haven't seen anyone I think can win it yet. Sometimes people aren't as impressive in auditions as they are later on though, and my favorites in the auditions never make it past Hollywood, so clearly I know nothing!
*links to the Babywearing Workout are affiliate links!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wear them Thursday Jan 15, 2014

Due to computer problems, this week's Wear Them Wednesday got bumped to Wear them Thursday! Not as catchy, but the baby and the carriers are still just as cute!

One I love
My mom must actually read my blog (thanks Mom!) because she bought me the wrap I posted as "one I want" just a few weeks ago! The amazingly gorgeous Lir Slings Realt Aodh is now actually mine! It's grey and white, half Irish linen, and is supportive and fairly grippy but not unpleasant to wrap with even new, and getting so nice and soft now that it has been broken in a bit! I think it's the perfect wrap for winter (which should last for several more months around here). 
Right side:

Wrong side:

One I want
For a more whimsical take on the deep of winter, I think Natibaby polaria frosty is adorable. Penguins, polar bears, seals, and sled dogs adorn this polar themed wrap in dark blue and off white  in a 30/70 wool/cotton blend. (Picture is screenshot from Natibaby site where it is for sale!)

One way to wear it
While exercising! Have you heard of The Babywearing Workout? It's a fitness video designed for exercising while babywearing! I love that it takes the logistics of babywearing into account when designing moves to make sure they are safe for mamas and babies. My son thinks its hilarious to be wrapped up while mama exercises, and I think if I can keep a consistent routine up with it that I can be back into my normal clothing sizes by the time my sister-in-law gets married this summer! 
I'll post a full review coming soon, but basically, I really like it and think its definitely worth doing and amazed at the wonderful customer service from Kelli (I had computer issues and she was helpful and sympathetic! This is why I love working with WAHM companies!)
PS: The Babywearing Workout runs fun contests from time to time to motivate people to keep exercising, so be sure to follow them on Facebook so you know when they are coming and can join in! The next one started this week and features dozens of awesome babywearing and general baby care prizes including an Onya baby carrier, and its not too late to join in! You're supposed to exercise 5 days a week for the next 10 weeks with 3 days/week being The Babywearing Workout, so you can count the first three days of this week as your off days or as your cross-training days!

I received a free copy of the Babywearing Workout to review on my blog but received no compensation for this post! Links to The Babywearing Workout are affiliate links, which means your price stays the same but I get some of the profits if you decide to buy! You can also do a google search to find The Babywearing Workouton your own if you would rather not use an affiliate link.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My husband's mini

p>Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Want to know a secret? Most people who know my husband well think our preschooler looks soooo much like him, and his high school friends call that son my husbands "mini". But the truth is that he also has a fair amount of my dad's looks. No, based on comparing baby photos, our baby with Down syndrome looks even more like his Dad than big brother!
It's easy to notice the differences with Down syndrome. The eye shape. Delayed milestones. Smaller size. But there's so much more to my son, and to all people with Down syndrome-or any disability or medical condition- than that. And with a closer look at my baby, it's pretty obvious he's truly OUR baby in so many ways. 

In how he tries to escape from diaper changes using the same moves as his brother. 
The way he makes the same facial expressions as me for selfies. 
His love of mashed potatoes, peppermint Oreos, coconut ice cream, ground beef with taco seasoning, and fresh pears. 
His determination. 
His sense of humor. 
The way he calms when I sing. 
How noisy he is when he wants to join in the conversation too. 
His love of knocking down towers made of blocks. 
The way he snuggles into my shoulder. 
The way he reaches for his Dad...and then for Dad's glasses. 

In all these things, I see not his extra chromosome, but how similar he is to my husband, older son and I. 

My preschooler's current favorite TV star, Daniel Tiger says, "in some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same!" and I think that sums it up well. We all have differences, and they are sometimes easy to find if that is what you are interested in focusing on.  But when it comes down to it, the differences are inevitably less than the similarities. This last year we have been learning what Down syndrome means for our son and our family, and the underwhelming answer is that, while yes, it does make a difference in our life and his, for the most part, for our day to day life, it really isn't a big deal. He is so much like our older son at the same stage of life, and the two of us, if the stories from our baby days are true!

His high school friends may not know it yet, but my husband has two minis...and number two is going to give number one a run for his money as they both grow into wonderful men who are unique but also so like their father.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to 'stay the same' and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I'm AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums' and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the 'great big magic show of life' and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn't change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else's children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband's military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it "Normal" — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama's World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama's son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn't kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband's MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband's baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter's early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now - Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family's default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we've taken to promote "breast is best," Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Things to do with little ones on a SubZero Day

Our temperature today won't go above zero (don't even ask about the wind chill!) so we are staying in for the day, and I thought other people might enjoy hearing my ideas for fun non-screen time activities to do with preschoolers and toddlers on a frigid day of hibernation:

Play board games
Play card games
Play hide & seek
Make a collage
Have an indoor picnic in a room you don't usually eat in
Build a fort
Build a castle out of blocks
Play dress up
Have a sword fight with empty paper towel or wrapping paper rolls
Have a pillow fight
Bake cookies
Bake bread
Make play dough
Put on a play
Dance together
Tell stories
Make an obstacle course
Paint faces

What do you enjoy when you're stuck in the house for bad weather?