Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When your family doesn't support nursing

I hesitate to write this, but if I don't I will feel like a big hypocrite, so here it is.

Christmas Day festivities were underway. We had opened piles of presents, and yet piles and piles remained. Jordan's family opens one gift at a time. It was about 1:00 and we were due at my uncle's house, 45 minutes away, around 3:00. Suzi had already opened gifts from Santa at our house, sat in the car for a two-hour ride, and then opened a bunch more gifts. Jordan's parents had just hauled in a giant pile of gifts for Suzi, as well as for me, Jordan, Jordan's brother, his wife, and their soon-to-be-born baby boy. The coffee table had to be removed for the gifts to fit and they completely filled the room. All day Suzi had been handed one gift after another to unwrap and enjoy for ten seconds before it was whisked away and she was expected to refocus on opening a new gift. She was so ridiculously overwhelmed that, naturally, all she wanted to do was breastfeed. Which she made known.

I had been sneaking around trying to breastfeed her all day long, as any attempts to put her off until later were met with shrieking the likes of which no toy could assuage. My child had been made so disoriented and irritable by the season's rituals that she was searching for some source of quiet comfort, and it is my job to provide her with that.

So, amidst the generous piles of gifts we had yet to open, Suzi ran to my knees and asked to breastfeed yet again. I was fully prepared to leave the room, not because I am ashamed of breastfeeding her but because also sitting in the room were two of the most confrontational people I have ever met and I did not want to start a big hairy argument on Christmas. The only reason I did not get up and leave with Suzi was because my sweet husband said "Jenny, there's no reason for you to leave. I'll get a blanket and you can do that right here." I figured he knew his family better than I did. That's when his mom said, ever so transparently, "Oh, but if you take her in the bedroom she might go to sleep." Jordan did not acknowledge this, and when he couldn't find a free blanket I decided to leave the room. He followed me, and I heard his mom whispering to him, "Jordan, she needs to do that back here (meaning in the bedroom, where there is no comfortable place to sit) because it makes ______ and ______ (two narrow-minded individuals) uncomfortable."

Ouch. I never thought I would be banished from a family gathering.

I have been mentally prepared for months to deal with these sorts of people in malls, restaurants, stores--anywhere but in the home of a close family member. And as I sat there in the back bedroom staring at the hardwood floor, I thought, what just happened here? If this had happened anywhere else I would've known exactly what to do. But what do you do when it's your family?

Present them with the card in my purse stating that by South Carolina law, breastfeeding must not be considered indecent exposure? Notify the state Breastfeeding Coalition? Organize a nurse-in on the front lawn?

I would have told them the World Health Organization recommends that I breastfeed Suzi for at least another five months and by doing so I am being a good mother, but the offended parties never would have listened to reason. This I know from experience.

I consider this to be judgmental rejection, and it hurts. And there's really nothing I can do.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Phibby, Suzi's "puppy"

This is a long and detailed story, but it's one I want to remember so I'm going to post it.

After many many discussions, Jordan and I decided that this year Suzi could have a puppy for Christmas. (By "puppy," we meant dog in general; Suzi doesn't differentiate.) Jordan's close friend Miss Beth, from whom he learned his love of animals, began asking Suzi if she wanted a puppy as soon as she was born. Miss Beth gave Jordan a puppy when he was a child too, although she had to wait until he was ten before his parents approved. Jordan and I wanted a dog, but due to some painful mistakes regarding pets in the past, we were reluctant to jump into anything.

Jordan assured me that the decision to adopt a dog was a good one. I felt the same way, if it was the right dog. Just to be sure, the morning of our trip to the shelter I said a prayer that if we were not meant to have a dog, God would see that we didn't find the right one that day. All the dogs would be too big, too young, too hyper, or not good with children. I felt at peace that we would make the right decision once we met the dogs up for adoption.

When we arrived at Petsmart, a happy little dog named Bailey caught my eye. She was a small female and her foster mother said she was good with kids. I was excited to meet her, but first we were required to fill out an application--and the applications had been forgotten at the Project Pet office and weren't available yet. At the same time, Miss Beth spotted a beautiful little black lab/bassett mix. She was bigger than what I had in mind, but she was so calm, and her name just happened to be Sara. Miss Beth had unexpectedly lost her mother, also named Sara, earlier in December. It seemed it was meant to be. With bunches of other people also eyeing the dogs, Miss Beth carefully guarded Sara's crate and talked to her while we waited for the applications to arrive.

After Jordan filled out the extremely detailed application, one of the volunteers looked it over and talked to us for a couple of minutes. We asked to meet Sara and the volunteer went to get a leash. When she came back, she said "I have some bad news. Someone else who wants Sara just turned in their application before you. I'm not sure how that happened." The disappointment was intensified by the connection of the name, and Miss Beth in particular was crushed. No one else had seemed interested in Sara at all, and she had mentioned our desire to meet her to no less than three of the volunteers. Within minutes Sara was getting to know a family of five with three little boys, and we decided to meet Bailey as Miss Beth got some answers as to how the dog was adopted out from under us. The volunteers said they were sorry, but the other family really was first to hand their application in. The other dog, Bailey, was sweet but was not right for us. We worried that Suzi might annoy her and cause her to snap.

We hung around for a few minutes to be sure that family really was going to adopt Sara. When we saw a volunteer putting her back into her crate, we were hopeful they'd changed their minds, but it turned out they wanted a few minutes to "buy some things." It seemed strange that a family of five would come to Petsmart to adopt a dog and not one of them could hold her while they shopped. We decided to leave and go to the animal shelter. I thought perhaps we didn't get Sara because there was a dog who needed us somewhere else.

We didn't see any dogs at the shelter we wanted to meet. Some of their dogs had probably already been taken to Project Pet, and those dogs were at Petsmart. We sadly began the drive home, and I figured this was God telling us now was not the right time for a dog. Although I'd turned it over to Him, I couldn't help hoping we'd find one.

Remembering the weird behavior of Sara's new family at Petsmart, I suggested we stop back by and just be sure they hadn't changed their minds. Jordan and Miss Beth ran in to check while I sat with Suzi in the car. It's amazing to me how things can work out even when we are so certain they have gone all wrong. After a few minutes of hoping and praying for a happy ending, I saw Jordan walking back to the van alone. "Sara isn't here," he said, "but they just brought another dog with a similar disposition. Her name is Phyllis." We took Suzi in to meet her, and the volunteers who had witnessed how upset we were over Sara said they'd thought of us when Phyllis came in and were glad we'd returned. She was a five-year-old Vizsla mix and had been at the shelter for months. Some of the volunteers knew Phyllis well, and assured us she had a fabulous personality and would be great with Suzi. They felt the only reason she had been passed over so many times was a cosmetic issue--her underbite. (We like to think of it as a cute little toothy grin.) They explained that although the shelter dogs are named randomly, Phyllis had kept her name for so long that it would be best to change it to something similar. Since I don't much care for the name Phyllis, we decided to name her Phibby. Miss Beth's last name (and her mother's last name) is Phibbs, and Miss Beth had been nicknamed Phibby in college. On the way home we all realized how the events of the day must have been carefully orchestrated to bring us together with Phibby. Had we adopted Sara, no one may have come for Phibby. We found a dog who needed us as much as we needed her, and we never would have come back to Petsmart if it hadn't been for Sara.

We brought Phibby home and she has been an angel. Vizslas are sometimes called velcro dogs because they want to stick with their humans all the time, and that's what she's done. Her favorite activity is cuddling on the couch, and Jordan is going to take her to work tomorrow. She also loves to go for walks on her leash, is house-trained, and doesn't mind when Suzi gets in her face or holds her paws. Suzi follows her around calling "Phibby? Phibby?" and gives her lots of hugs and kisses. We are hoping she'll come out of her shell and play more soon, but she's still getting used to us.

I made her the jacket in the picture (with this pattern) so she can stay warm when we take her outside this winter. I was amazed at how nice it turned out. Making it myself out of things I already had saved us at least $20, and maybe more! Besides, now she has flair.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pray for South Carolina's unemployed

Monday, Jordan and I were feeling sorry for ourselves. I left work early to come home and do a little housecleaning, but on the way I noticed our van, long overdue for a trip to the mechanic, was making a sound I could not ignore. We are driving it for four hours on Christmas and again this weekend--with our child in it. So, instead of cleaning anything, when I arrived at the house I insisted we take it to a mechanic. We hoped and prayed it would cost around $100 for maintenance-type stuff (but tell me, when does that *ever* happen?). Nope. It was $359 and then a laundry list of other stuff we needed in the next couple of months to the tune of around $1200. It was an OMG moment.

But, thanks to my parents giving us our Christmas money early, we were able to pay for the initial repairs with no problem. And after gaining a bit of perspective about the things needed later, we started feeling better. Then I caught this on the news. Mark Sanford, perhaps in second place right now for the Worst Governor in the Country Award, has decided that due to dissension regarding how the Employment Security Commission is run, he will simply allow South Carolina's unemployment checks to stop cold turkey come January 1st. Yes, it's a Merry Christmas here, with people wondering if Sanford is going to end his reign of terror and allow them to feed and house their children. Other Republicans are calling him heartless and cruel.

Jordan and I, along with most of our families, have long disliked this governor for numerous reasons. He criticizes our public schools but throws the teachers under the bus. Just a few months ago he squashed what would have been a fantastic higher cigarette tax. It would have helped pay for health care and couldn't have hurt smokers' efforts to quit. But holding 70,000 South Carolinians who have fallen on hard times hostage? You would think that Sanford, a so-called Christian and a family man, would have a bit more compassion for the people who voted for him. Hmm. I guess it's a little easier to keep perspective when you're living in a cushy mansion and making a guaranteed six-figure salary. I just pray that they can work something out, or we are going to have an awful lot of cold and starving people come January.

P.S. A more upbeat, Christmasy post is to follow... I hope.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jingle Bell Rocks

Today Jordan and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary! My parents kept Suzi for the day so we could do whatever we wanted. After going through a long list of activities we didn't want to do because they were more fun with Suzi (like the aquarium) we settled on gem mining. I'd never done it and Jordan had been as a child and loved it. We went to a little place up in North Carolina and found a bunch of pretty rocks...

I don't think we found anything that will make us millionaires, but we had fun!

I am so behind on blogging. I really didn't mean to leave it for so long! Since it's only a week until Christmas and I have a big pile of gifts to wrap, a house to clean, and a Suzi to chase, it may not get better right away. I'm going to go now and continue spending time with Jordy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The best way to nap...

By treelight.

Jordan and I put up our tree this afternoon. It's a sad little Charlie Brown tree at only 6.5 feet, artificial, and see-through, but it doesn't bother us much. "It'll look better once the sun goes down," Jordan pointed out. And yes--it does look better in the dark (but don't we all?).

Christmas before last we were renting an old historical home with 12-foot ceilings, and I insisted on having a giant tree. I felt a small tree would be dwarfed by the house's size and architectural presence. We really couldn't afford to buy a new artificial tree tall enough, so I was overjoyed to find a 9.5 foot tall one for $15 at a yard sale months in advance. It was ginormous. It's hard to describe the girth of a tree that height. It looked like it belonged in a forest, not our house. I was pregnant and just getting over my morning sickness that December, so decorating a tree of that size seemed almost unattainable. Jordan set it up and strung the lights, and it took forever to fully decorate. We didn't even have enough ornaments to cover it, and the job wasn't finished until two or three days before Christmas. The thing was so hard to put up we just couldn't face taking it down, so... We left it up until March.

Lesson learned. It's a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree for us from now on. I can reach up and put the topper on without even standing on my toes. Decorating it takes 15 minutes flat. And you know, it's not the size of the tree that matters anyway. It's who you decorate it with.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Suzi and "Ho-Ho"

Like last year, when we took Suzi to see Santa last night she didn't freak out. I started priming her for it while we waited in line, telling her she was going to meet "Ho-Ho." (That is what my parents taught her to call him.) She got kind of excited and asked "Ho-Ho? Ho-Ho?" Once she was in Santa's lap she couldn't think of anything to ask for, but that will probably change in a year or two! She certainly wasn't shy about asking for cookies later in the evening. I know the pictures are blurry. We had an awful fingerprint on the camera lens, and I think I got it off so hopefully my pictures will be clearer now.

By the way--my two contests ended today and the winners are posted (and emailed)!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Way-Back Wednesday (instead of wordless)

This was last year at the Lights Before Christmas at the hospital where I work. We are taking Suzi again tomorrow night! But Suzi wasn't scared of Santa. Mommy was an elf! She was a little put off by the line, and refused to wear her hat.

Go add your own Way-Back Wednesday at Twinfatuation!

Give-Away Day 2008: Doll sling (CLOSED)

This giveaway is now closed, and the winner is Stephanie from On the Needles. Stephanie, I will be contacting you and will need a response with shipping info within four days! Thanks for entering, everyone!

This post is part of a big carnival of handmade giveaways at Sew, Mama, Sew Blog! Go enter all of them!

I am giving away a doll sling similar to the one modeled by my daughter, Suzi, below...

Studies show that gloworms worn close to the body are smarter than those dragged around by one ear.

I can go hands free!

These slings are NOT just for girls! Look how great they are for toting manly toys such as a football! (I am not saying boys shouldn't play with dolls. Boys *SHOULD* play with dolls!) I am thinking of making these in big sizes for real football players. It would revolutionize running for a touchdown by saving a bunch of embarrassing fumbles ;-)

I learned to make these from the directions on Jan Andrea's website, and also the ones by Stacie Steadman. The slings I have made so far would fit a 2-4 year old (that is my best guess), but if you think your child may need a bigger sling I could make one. It just might take several days extra, as I have been kind of busy lately!

To enter, please leave a comment on this post. I will give you one extra entry for
adding me to your blogroll/feed list; just tell me in the comments if you do. You don't have to be a blogger to win, but please leave an email address! You may want to type it as somebody (at) somewhere .com to foil the spambots. I will mail internationally if needed. *I changed my mind about the end time and extended it by a day.* The contest will end at 11:59 pm Thursday, December 4th and I will select the winner randomly. I'll email the winner (and post here) and if she has not responded with shipping information within four days I will pick someone else.
Also, you may want to enter my book giveaway while you're here. It ends the same time.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Should companies be advertising to our kids?

A group of parents, in league with Boston's Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, have begun sending some holiday letters to their friends the toy companies. This year in particular, a lot of moms and dads are sick and tired of their children being the targets of aggressive advertising. They are requesting that the toy companies appeal directly to parents about why their product would make the best plaything. There are two reasons for this. One, many parents cannot afford to buy their children all the toys that strike their fancy from the ads. Two, there are some parents who don't want their children to have a bunch of mind-numbing, irritating-as-hell mainstream toys. Jordan and I are feeling a little of both.

Think back to your childhood. Did you watch TV? How did you formulate your Christmas list? I did it by watching Saturday morning cartoons and intermittently shouting, "I would LOVE one of those!" Such was the case with one of my most memorable and beloved childhood toys: Little Miss Makeup of Christmas 1988. You can read more about her here. I was three and a half and just knew Santa was going to bring me my "li-mi-makeup." When a lady at church asked me what I was getting for Christmas, that's what I told her. "Li-mi-makeup." I probably would've been bitterly disappointed if Santa hadn't come through with her.

Just what Mattel was counting on. My parents had no choice but to buy her.

Little Miss Makeup looked innocent enough at first glance, but when you brushed a cool sponge (which was provided in the form of a "wand") over her face, blood-red lipstick and nail polish and purple eyeshadow magically appeared. I never noticed it at the time, but what business does Little Miss Makeup have wearing all that eyeshadow and lipstick? I mean, she couldn't be more than four or five years old, right? And her blonde hair is far too brassy to be natural. What kind of mother would allow her child to go out like this??? Certainly not mine!

I shudder to think what Suzi is going to beg for when she gets a year or two older. Will it be something that rails against my values? Will it be a video game that costs $300? I know there were certain things, for both me and my husband, that our parents told us Santa was not going to bring, and we both survived. I just don't want to leave a big dose of disappointment under the tree every year.

We have already bought almost all of Suzi's Christmas gifts, but there's something missing. Her two favorite characters are Elmo and Mickey Mouse. She watches Sesame Street at my parents' house--an innocent pastime, I think--but now everywhere we go she is looking for Elmo. She can spot him a mile away--on balloons, on TV, in ads--and begins shouting "Emmo! EMMO!" She's the same way with "Mick Mou," to the point she almost had me and Jordan checking out of Home Depot with a $60 front-yard inflatable of the Disney icon wearing a Santa hat and holding a candy cane. The neighbors would've loved us.

We may end up purchasing an Elmo doll for Suzi, but he is not going to do the Hokey Pokey, Chicken Dance, play the electric guitar, deliver pizza, or demonstrate how to use the potty. I just want a plain little stuffed Elmo, and I'm holding firm on that.

Anybody know where we can find one of those?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Man dies in the name of saving money, living better

Thanks to my husband Jordan for the heads-up on this one.

In a Wal-Mart store (where else???) in Long Island, NY, a 34-year-old employee was knocked down by some lunatic customers and suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. The shoppers also injured a young pregnant woman, although luckily, according to doctors, she and the baby are fine. Three others were injured as well.

When the shoppers were told that a man had been killed and they would have to leave, the angry customers yelled that they'd "been in line since yesterday morning" and kept right on shopping.

This is how our culture prepares to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Wal-Mart insists "the safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority." Pardon me if I'm skeptical. If that were Wal-Mart's top priority, they would hire extra police officers and/or security for crowd control.

Save money. (Save lives.) Live better. Stay home on Black Friday.

Love Dare: Days 17, 18, 19, 20

We have fallen a couple of days behind, but are picking up where we left off!

Day 17 was "Love promotes intimacy."
It centered around the idea that if your partner tells you a secret in confidence, you should not go out and share it. I think this is mostly a problem with women, because they start out sharing a secret in the name of getting help or advice, and then it escalates from there. How many times do women hear a secret, which they are warned not to share with anyone, only to go and tell one more person and tell her not to share it with anyone? You can generally bet that everyone will have heard about it within a week or two. This is especially bad when you're talking about your spouse's secrets. It reminds me of Mama Rissa's post on gossiping about our husbands and children. Maybe it feels okay because you're talking about your own family, but it's really the worst gossiping of all. You will be privy to all kinds of damaging or embarrassing information about your spouse, and you ought to be the one person in the world your spouse can count on to keep that information a secret. The dare was to determine to guard your mate's secrets and to pray for them; to really listen to their personal thoughts and struggles and make them feel safe. I think Jordan and I already do a pretty good job of this, but it is a good reminder to watch what I say to other people. There are certain things that should remain private.

Day 18 was "Love seeks to understand." The book reminds us of how, in the beginning, our partners are so interesting to us. When you first start dating someone, you want to learn everything about them, and you spend most of your time thinking about them. When you've been married a few years, it may seem that you know enough and, having lived together so long and seeing all the good and the bad, a lot of the mystery is gone. The dare challenged us to prepare a special dinner at home and focus on getting to know one another better. There was even a list of questions in the back of the book to help with this. It specified that the dinner be just for the two of us, but with Suzi, that is kind of tough. We would've needed advance notice. Luckily she was taking a nap so we had a pizza together and talked for a while. I plan to try to continue that conversation with Jordan later, perhaps in the car. We always have our best talks while we're in the car because there's nothing to distract us.

Day 19 was "Love is impossible." This may sound strange, but it's actually referring to our human inability to love unconditionally--at least by ourselves. The only way we can give unconditional love is with God's help, through Jesus Christ. (If you've seen the movie Fireproof, you probably remember this part of it.) The dare was to ask God to show you where you stand with Him, and ask for the strength and grace to settle your eternal destination. Jordan and I both already felt we had done this. For someone who had not, this would be both an important and possibly difficult day.

Day 20 was "Love is Jesus Christ." It reiterates the previous day's conclusion, and the dare asks us to dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation and to pray "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner. But you have shown Your love for me by dying to forgive my sins, and You have proven Your power to save me from death by Your resurrection. Lord, change my heart, and save me by Your grace." We had already prayed this prayer, but it doesn't hurt to pray it again and again.

One more thing I wanted to share. A few days ago at work, I sold a couple of nursing bras to the parents of a new mom who was waiting upstairs with her baby. They politely thanked me for my help and then, before they left, the woman turned to me and asked "How can we pray for you?" I was taken aback. (Very few people ask that here outside of church.) I had no idea what to say! After thinking for a while, I told them that everything was going well for me and I wasn't sure. It's not that I didn't want them to pray for me; it just took me by surprise. The woman said that they would just pray for Jesus to show himself to me and for me to recognize Him when that happened. I think I was meant to see that woman, because it left me thinking... Why don't I do that? I know it isn't just me. Why do many Christians, in particular, act so shy about their faith? If there's one thing we can take from people of other religions, it's the ability to "go public" with our beliefs. How is it that we have the most widespread religion in the country and yet some of us can't come up with the courage to speak openly about it? I know I need to work on this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Book Review: The Paper Bag Christmas (CLOSED)

This giveaway is now closed, and the winner is Mel (dancerinthemaking). Mel, I've emailed you and will need a response with shipping info within four days. Thanks for entering, everyone!

I read about Kevin Alan Milne's The Paper Bag Christmas on someone else's blog and it looked like a great Christmas read, so I was excited to get the chance to review it! On the outside, it's a beautiful book. It's a hardcover with an embossed jacket, which would make it a lovely Christmas gift.

Here is a description of the book from the publisher's website:

Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you'd expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children's hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is tasked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag. Almost in spite of himself, Mo finds that Christmas joy emanates from a source far greater than the North Pole, while the young girl learns that she is more beautiful than she had ever imagined.

As a person who read a lot of difficult books in college, I found this book to be an easy read--in a good way. Nothing about it is hard to understand, and I think younger people could enjoy it as much as adults. Milne did a wonderful job of creating dynamic, lovable characters. One of my favorite professors once told us that a character should be like an iceberg: readers will see just a tiny bit of the character by his actions and words in the story, but there is so much more than that beneath the surface, and the author must know all of it before the story is written. That's what I think Milne has done with his main characters, Molar and Katrina. The storyline was seamless and engaging, and it's amazing that it all fits into 150 little pages. You could read it in an afternoon! (I am a slow reader and it took me 3-4 hours.)

If you are an elementary, middle, or high school teacher looking for a book to read aloud to your class during the month of December, this one would be perfect. (A couple of my teachers did that when I was in school and I loved it.) The main characters in the book are between nine and twelve years old, so I think children could relate to and enjoy this book possibly even more than adults could. This would also be a good book to give to your own children to read before Christmas or to read together as a family.

The Paper Bag Christmas is the perfect book to help young and old alike refocus on the meaning of Christmas. I am glad to have read it, and now I'd like to pass it along to someone else. I thought it'd be fun to do a sort of giveaway, but really more of a book pass-along. (What's the point of keeping a book you've already read?) If you'd like to have The Paper Bag Christmas, just leave a comment on this post telling me who you will pass the book along to after you've read it. This will end on Thursday, December 4 at 11:59 pm. The person chosen will be emailed and will have four days to get back to me with a mailing address.

If you don't get my copy, or if you'd like a copy now, there are some good deals on Amazon.

Grab yourself a cup of hot chocolate and a blanket and curl up in your recliner with The Paper Bag Christmas!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FDA, are you high?

I was pretty sure it would happen eventually. Traces of melamine have been found in our infant formula. Here, in the US. One might reasonably expect some recalls to be in order, wouldn't you say?

Psych! Instead, the FDA is talking parents down, telling them that this is far less melamine than caused the agonizing deaths of three babies and terrible illnesses of 50,000 others in China. So no worries! Just keep feeding your baby the same old formula, because that's in his "best interest." They don't have any idea what level of melamine is actually safe, but it's probably okay.

Funny--isn't that what people used to think about asbestos?

FDA, we're talking about our children here. Possibly harmful chemicals are not innocent until proven deadly. Do you really know what long-term health effects this melamine could have on our babies? Do you even care? Because you were certainly whistling a different tune a couple of months ago when, as thousands of babies suffered needlessly in China, you told us you were "currently unable to establish any level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula that does not raise public health concerns." I, for one, assumed that it was your duty to remove any item which raises public health concerns from the market!

You may have given the thumbs-up to small amounts of melamine in our infant formula, and while it's so nice of you to try and help us poor simple parents out with our decision-making, I think that should be left up to the moms and dads whose children could be harmed. Don't you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My minivan KILLED my OJ!

Is this normal? If you have an Odyssey, tell your kids to be careful where they put their feet! That door just kept right on truckin and the juice shot up a good two feet in the air.

Monday, November 24, 2008

MomDot Blog Party Day 9!

The Day Nine Blog Party Question is Brought to you by jaC Jewelry, Cutie Covers and Sassy Baby.

What is the most unusual gift you’ve received? It doesn’t have to be bad, just unusual. I've received several unusual gifts, but I'm not really inclined to list most of them, as the gifters could possibly be reading this. Instead I will give an unusual gift which was brought to our family's white elephant gift exchange. It was the first year we did it, and no rules had really been established. Basically, the purpose was for everyone to have a good laugh and spend time together (which we definitely did). Someone timidly opened a small package to reveal a jar that rattled when shaken. It was my cousin's wisdom teeth. Near the end of the gift-swapping, she said she felt a little sad about giving them up, so when it was her mom's turn to pick she took my cousin's teeth instead of opening a wrapped gift. As you might have guessed, no one wanted to steal them back from her :-) That may have also been the year of the "butt floss," which my dad got. Now we all try to be the one to bring the "good gift" that everyone wants to steal, so the presents have evolved to be better and more normal.

What was one of your favorite gifts? I've had a lot of great gifts, but the one material gift that stands out in my mind is Josephine. She is an heirloom doll with a china head who belonged to my great-grandfather. When I was a child she lay in my grandmother's living room (Mama Susie's) in a wooden cradle which was a few inches too short for her. My mom and I always wanted her to pass down to my future daughter (this was before Suzi was born). You can never tell what Mama Susie is going to do. Without a single hint, that year there was this giant, awkward gift under the tree with my name on it. I thought the shape looked familiar, and when I opened it I was not disappointed. It was the doll, cradle and all! Somewhere there is a picture of me sitting next to Mama Susie holding her and grinning like an idiot. This is not what she looked like then. My mom spent days giving her a makeover, which involved sewing covers for her arms (her original arms are underneath the white, and they are a dark, weathered tan) and a complete new outfit. She did an amazing job! For an entire run-down of Josephine's extreme makeover and history, visit my mom's blog.

Do you think re-gifting is okay? Yes, but. If you have received something as a gift but you just can't use it, and you think hey! That would be perfect for ______! Then yes. But if you are on your way out the door to a Christmas party and realize you've forgotten to buy a gift for someone, it is not okay to throw something you received and hated into a bag and give it to that person without putting two minutes' thought into it. That is also why I'm not the biggest fan of one-gift-fits-all gifts. To me, Christmas is a time to think of your loved ones' desires and give them something that will say I love you. It doesn't necessarily have to cost anything, but it does require some a little thought and care.

Only a couple more days to enter my Glow Mama giveaway!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Split Creek... Not just goats this time!

Jordan, my mom and I took Suzi out to Split Creek Farm yesterday to see the goats. A friend had posted their open house on Facebook, and I never visited the website, so I was expecting an event similar to what they had last spring. (Amazing how Suzi looks like such a baby in those pictures!) It was totally different. There were a bunch of vendors there, and it looked more like a craft fair than anything.

We ran into some friends we hadn't seen in a long time.

Of course, we bought a few things: a scarf and a finger puppet from Lucky Acres Farm, which raises alpacas. We met two of the alpacas and they were so sweet, but the pictures are on my mom's camera because mine died. I'll put one on here as soon as she sends it.
We bought some goat cheese too. It is so good! We also got a little spreader made by Jonathan's Wild Cherry Spoons, and it is just perfect for spreading goat cheese. If you are (in Upstate SC) looking for a local place to buy some amazing unique Christmas gifts, head on out to Split Creek. Sometimes the best way to take care of those tough people to shop for is to buy them something edible. Then if they like it, you can buy them more next year! They also have wooden ornaments and other craft items. The shop is open Monday - Saturday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm and Sundays, 1:30 pm - 6:00 pm. They also ship their products if you are out of town.

Friday, November 21, 2008

MomDot Blog Party Day 8

I haven't been participating in the Blog Party so far because I've been so busy blogging about other things. Today the topic looked interesting, so I thought I'd participate.

Day Eight Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Koshas, Leapfrog and Soda Club.

And the question of the day is... Do you shop on Black Friday? What time do you start? Do you finish all your shopping on that day? What’s the best deal you have found? What’s your shopping strategy?

I did shop on Black Friday last year. Jordan and I went to Wal-Mart, and left Suzi with my parents. I don't remember much of what we bought; a bunch of toys we don't have anymore. We did get some great deals on DVDs for gifts. They were like $3 each, and they were the best deal we found. We were out in the crowds by about 5 or 6 am. We did not finish our shopping that day, because there honestly wasn't enough stuff at Wal-Mart that I wanted to give people. I like to diversify a little. And we didn't have a shopping strategy. Basically, we went for the thrill of the hunt.

We won't be going this year. Frankly, I think it's pretty silly how a bunch of grown people can get so worked up over a bunch of junk. Of course, it may be worth fighting through the crowd for a digital camera or a Wii or something, but one lady actually blocked me out of the clothing section with her shopping cart. I wonder what she wanted in there so badly that she had to be such a rude jerk! Black Friday seems to bring out the worst in people, and last year all the misguided shopping we did resulted in me never really getting that Christmas feeling. You know what I mean?

On Sunday we are going to an Alternative Gift Fair in Greenville, and I'm excited about that! Basically, you give donations to different charities to help people in a specific way, and then give your recipient a card explaining how their gift helped someone. My favorite was a teddy bear "companion" for an abused child who has to go through a forensic exam. Those only cost $10, and I honestly can't think of a better way than that to spend a ten dollar bill. Can you? I'd love to help comfort a frightened child for Christmas!

While you are here, be sure to enter my contest to win some Glow Mama Drinks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

*Updated with winner* Glow Mama... the drink made just for you

And the winner is... Hannah! I will be emailing her and she'll have four days to get back with me with her address so they can ship her drinks. Thanks for entering everyone!

What did you drink when you were pregnant? Gatorade was my beverage of choice, as I'd always enjoyed it during my (brief!) athletic experience and when I was sick. But the aftertaste? Not ideal for a morning sick mama-to-be. And the sodium--wasn't I puffy enough already? Unfortunately, Gatorade was my only option, as flavored water drinks made me gag and I wasn't about to subject the baby to my caffeinated favorites of Coke and iced tea. But Gatorade isn't made for moms.
Glow Mama is! Flavored lightly with kiwi, it contains a bunch of mom-to-be essentials you won't find in other drinks: fiber, vitamin B6, and folate, to name a few. It's also perfect for nursing moms.

I can't say for sure because I'm not pregnant at the moment, but I just bet Glow Mama would help counter morning sickness. When you were pregnant, did you ever feel as though anything you ate or drank could put you over the edge and make you vomit? I felt that way a lot. At times like those, I would have been relieved to have a light, refreshing drink like Glow Mama. Besides, one bottle has 25% of your daily vitamin B6, which is known to ease nausea. Because of my morning sickness I was also unable to take regular prenatal vitamins (have you tasted one of those things?!). How comforting to know you are getting a lot of what your baby needs just by enjoying a refreshing drink!

I know you are curious about the taste. It's hard to describe, but it's important to note that Glow Mama is water-based and flavored with fruit juice. It is not meant to be juice; even 100% pure apple juice with no added sweeteners contains several times more sugar than Glow Mama. It doesn't taste like a sugary soft drink, but if you look at the label and see what is in Glow Mama, you'll be wondering how they made it taste so good. It will also leave you feeling more refreshed than a glass of water will.

The one drawback? Most of us can't make a quick run to the store for a case of these. While I hope to one day see them next to the Gatorade in my local Bi-Lo, it is currently necessary to order them online because they are sold in California and that's about it. There are several options at different price points in Glow Mama's online store, or, if you prefer, you can order them on Amazon where they are eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping! Incidentally, Glow Mama has received impeccable ratings from Amazon customers.

Glow Mama has generously offered to let one of you try a two-week taster pack (16 bottles) of their drinks for free! To enter, please visit the Glow Mama website and leave a comment here telling me your favorite Glow Mama mocktail! I am anxious to try one myself, because normally I'm terrible at making drinks.
For extra entries, you may do one or all of the following for a total of five possible entries:

1) Sign up to receive the Glow Guide in your email (bottom left of their home page). Glow Mama has an informative blog which covers all sorts of mothers' issues and products.
2) Blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post and to Glow Mama's website.
3) Add Babyfingers to your blogroll or feed list.
4) If you purchase any Glow Mama during the contest period I'll give you an extra entry (use coupon code TM842 for 15% off).

Please leave a separate comment to tell me each thing you did, or the extra entries won't count!

This giveaway is open only to United States residents. Please be sure to leave an email address if I can't access one in your blog profile! Otherwise I will have to pick another winner. It will end on Wednesday, November 26 at 11:59 p.m., at which time the winner will be chosen randomly and announced on this post within a few hours. I will email the winner and she will have four days to email me back with shipping information. After four days I will have to pick a new winner. Good luck!
If you want your Glow Mama now, you can order some at 15% off with coupon code TM842!
Thanks, Glow Mama, for a great giveaway!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Love Dare, days 13, 14, 15, and 16

Day 13 was "Love fights fair." The challenge was to set up rules to follow when an argument is unavoidable. I'd imagine, though, that by the time couples reach this point in the book, arguments are rare. Jordan and I used to argue regularly over stupid little things, but we haven't really argued in a while. We are more sensitive to each others' needs. There was a list of rules already in the book, and we agreed with most of them. The ones we came up with on our own were:

1) No guilt-tripping (um... that would be me)
2) No fighting in front of other people

The rules in the book have it just about covered. Don't bring up divorce, don't fight in front of your kids, don't go to bed angry, etc. Jordan and I have always been good at getting over arguments easily. I don't think we've ever had an argument last overnight, even the worst ones! We stay up and talk it out until it's resolved.

Day 14 was "Love takes delight." We were to purposely neglect an activity we normally do and spend the time having fun together instead. Well, it's funny. We decided to spend Sunday afternoon shopping for pants for me, and on the way home I suggested we eat at Fuddruckers. It was our favorite restaurant until the incident two years ago, which I will recount in a later post. We had a great time. I shared my burger with Suzi and we all shared a basket of fries. We'd hardly been out to eat alone with Suzi at all, except for fast food, and we normally get that to go. It was so nice to go to a good loud restaurant and enjoy being parents without having to worry about dirty looks because Suzi is still confused about the purpose of an "inside voice." When we arrived back home, Suzi fell asleep early and that's when we read the day's dare, only to find we'd already done it!

Day 15, "Love is honorable," was a tough one. We were supposed to find a way to honor each other above our normal routine. If you've been keeping up with this, you'll know Jordan and I have done a few different nice things for one another and we are running out of creativity. We both ended up helping each other out with laundry and other household chores. And I did iron his clothes this morning so he'd have a nice looking outfit to wear, which was what I'd planned to do back on day 11. It is easy to lose track when several of the days are so similar, so I need to do a better job of keeping up! One thing I need to work on is paying better attention when Jordan is telling me a story or about how his day went. He usually talks about computers and things that don't generally interest me, and I often have to ask him to repeat things. It's not just something I do to him; my wandering mind is one of my worst faults.

Day 16, today, was "Love intercedes." The best point the book made was that we can't change our partners, but God can. (Of course, that's not to say God will change our partners in the way we specify!) Our only task was to pray for each other, and pray for three specific areas in which we wanted God to work. I did pray for Jordan but I won't say what I prayed for specifically. That's between me and God.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Motrin just bashed my parenting style

This morning as I was catching up on my blogs, I saw the headline of "Thanks, Motrin, I'll be wearing my baby anyway." Huh? What did Motrin know about babywearing? It turns out, nothing.

here to see what the genius marketing team at Motrin has come up with. Writing dumb things wasn't good enough for them; they went the extra mile and put it into a cutesy little video! Just in case they've taken it down, you can go to Mama's Nest for a full run-down of every stupid thing they uttered.

They've apparently launched a new ad concept in which they say "Awww, poor moms, we understand your pain." The thing is, they don't understand. I didn't wear my baby "because it would 'totally' make me look like an official mom." And I don't think I look any more "tired and crazy" than I did before. (Do I?!?)

"As a mom," they venture, "you know what it's like to have a unique kind of pain that's often underappreciated. From walking for hours in high heels to staying up all night, carrying a feverish child. The MOTRIN Brand wants you to know, WE FEEL YOUR PAIN." Who, may I ask, is walking around for hours in high heels? I didn't realize that was a requirement! Goodness, I'd better get started or else I might not look like an official mom.

If you think I'm overreacting, perhaps I should explain why this ad bothers me most. You see, I know the ad is idiotic. But what if a pregnant lady, one who had not yet discovered the joy of babywearing, saw this? Her back may already be hurting from the pregnancy, and the fallacies in the ad might just be enough to make her scratch the baby sling off her gift registry.

I'm not saying babywearing is always comfortable, but there are ways to deal with it. The babywearing group I attend once took an entire meeting just to discuss babywearing problems. (Every mom present agreed the benefits were far greater.) If a mom is having back pain, it's probably because she has the wrong carrier, the wrong size carrier, or is wearing it slightly wrong. For instance, slings (which go over one shoulder) are pretty good at distributing baby's weight. However, if you're going on a four-hour hike it'd be best to use a wrap or mei tai, both of which distribute the weight evenly on both shoulders.

What the people at Motrin don't know or have conveniently chosen to ignore is that babywearing is an ancient practice. This is not something "'they've' come up with" recently. It's been going on for thousands of years! It did see a decline in our culture, however, because it was misunderstood. I think misunderstandings still have a negative impact on the rate of women who wear their babies. Some moms think, because it's all they've known, that it's best to leave the baby in the floor in the car seat or push him around in a stroller. Babywearing is much more beneficial for baby's development, but it's tough to overcome a mom's preconceived notion of what is and isn't appropriate.

Small, benevolent non-profit organizations such as No Mother Left Behind (and women who make slings and wraps by hand) have worked too long and too hard to help women learn this life skill to have it ridiculed by a bunch of corporate idiots.

The truth is that babywearing has probably kept at least a few frazzled parents from shaking their babies to death. When a newborn is shrieking inconsolably at the top of his lungs and his parents have tried everything to calm him, it can be so hurtful and frustrating. Do you understand that pain, MOTRIN? It's far greater than the pain in my shoulders from carrying a little babe who weighs less than ten pounds.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Love Dare, days 11 and 12

Day 11 was "love cherishes." Our task was to find some gesture which would say "I cherish you" to each other. It could be a chore or an errand, or maybe a massage, etc. Jordan decided to run by the store and pick up borax and baking soda to make our own dishwasher detergent. Then he came own and washed a load of dishes with it, and it worked great! It is going to be sooo much cheaper than the commercial stuff! Sadly, I couldn't think of anything. I am planning to iron a bunch of Jordan's clothes over the weekend so they will all look nice for him to wear to work next week.

Day 12, today, was interesting: "Love lets the other win." Most people have the 1 Corinthians verse about love read at their weddings and look at this as an ideal, but sometimes it's easier said than done. Jordan and I got along perfectly, for instance, until we realized our beliefs on key political issues did not align. My mom warned me not to even bring politics up with Jordan, but for two people as stubborn as Jordan and me? It was irresistible! We both thought we were right and argued until we were blue in the face, all to no avail. We could have been doing something constructive, and instead we were busy alienating one another.

The challenge was to pick a disagreement you've had with your partner and say "I'm willing to go your way on this." I had a very hard time thinking of something, because Jordan and I have recently resolved our political disagreements and there's not much else we disagree on. There are only big things, and even the Love Dare book agrees that you shouldn't have to bend on an issue if it's truly what you believe is right in the eyes of God. You'll see what I mean in a minute. Anyway, as I was talking to my brother this afternoon he asked how much Suzi weighed. "20 pounds," I said. "She's big enough to turn around in the car seat, but I--" Then I remembered the dare. Jordan had been asking for weeks to turn her around (she's nearly 18 months old, but I thought it might be safer to leave her rear-facing just a little longer). I decided to go his way on that. When he came home, I told him my decision and he said he hadn't thought of anything to agree with me on yet. I asked if he would be open to a suggestion. Jordan had conceded, in the face of all kinds of facts and articles I'd sent him and after much discussion, that we would not circumcise any sons we may have in the future. There was no good reason we could see to do it, but he seemed to be holding a grudge. I asked him if he could go my way on that and do it with a smile on his face, and he agreed. It made my day.

I know a lot of people have their sons circumcised, and that's fine; it's a decision the parents have to make. But for a number of reasons, I just can't bear to think of it being done to a child of mine. For me, that was one of those important things on which I wasn't going to yield.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Love Dare, day 10

Day 10's message was "love is unconditional." In God's eyes, the ideal marriage is one in which you don't tell your partner "I love you because..." but rather "I love you, period." We were supposed to do something out of the ordinary for each other to prove that our love was based on choice and not just positive attributes. It took me a long time to think of it, but I finally decided to clean Jordan's shower. We don't use the same shower because it's really small and I don't like the shower head. I use the guest shower and never even look in his. No one sees it but him, and, well, I'm sure you can imagine what greeted me when I drew back the curtain yesterday afternoon. It was gross. I removed two empty shampoo bottles and a worn out old bath puff and cleaned it from top to bottom. I even took down the shower curtains and washed them. Somewhere along the way I decided I might as well clean the rest of the bathroom, and then I figured what's the point of having a sparkling bathroom if the bedroom's a disaster? I really wanted to go above and beyond, so I vacuumed, dusted, swept, mopped, scrubbed, organized, and threw out a bunch of trash. I changed the sheets and blanket on our bed. It took me all afternoon!

When Jordan got home I asked him to help me put away a little laundry, and when he went upstairs to our bedroom he didn't say anything. For a while I thought he didn't notice (which, if I had "before" pictures to show you, you'd see was just impossible), but then he admitted that he was going to clean the bathroom for me, and now he didn't know what he was going to do. I'm glad I cleaned it though. He never would've bothered to clean his own shower, and I didn't want him to spend a bunch of time cleaning after he'd been at work all day. He ended up making me a perfect bowl of egg drop soup last night, which I loved.

We are a quarter of the way done! Wow!

P.S. I am not going to complain about it here, but if you want to see something really stupid that happened in my state recently, go to my other blog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Love Dare, days 8 and 9

Day eight's lesson was "love is not jealous." The main idea was that partners should not be jealous of one another's accomplishments. For instance, if the wife is always getting invited out for girls' nights, the husband shouldn't begrudge her that just because he doesn't go out with his friends very often. (Here, we both pretty much hang with Suzi every night.) Remember before how we were to make a list of each other's positive and negative qualities? Well, for day eight we were to burn the list of negative qualities "discreetly" and tell each other how happy we were about a success the other had. Since we both knew about the lists, and I was afraid I might burn my fingers, we decided to burn them together on the grill in the backyard. We wrapped our arms around each other as we watched them burn. I was glad to see the lists would be burned because, honestly, I don't think giving someone a laundry list of their worst qualities is constructive at all. I didn't want to get one and I didn't want to give one to Jordan either. So, as they burned, I told Jordan how glad I am that he has been getting good grades and will be graduating next month. And then... Jordan blanked. He fumbled noticeably for something to say. Finally he mentioned my job and my blog. LOL.

For day nine, the lesson was "Love makes good impressions." It discussed the way couples greet one another. Greetings are important, and not just for couples. Have you ever been excited to see someone, and then when you met them they barely acknowledged you or gave you a depressed, flat hello? It takes the wind out of your sails. You wonder if they are mad at you. The way you greet someone sets the tone for the rest of the time they spend with you, and perhaps even their whole day! I do my best to greet everyone cheerfully, but especially Jordan. It comes naturally most of the time because I miss him during the day and am happy to see him. Whenever Jordan comes home I generally stop what I am doing and open the door (if I see him coming). Then I give him a hug and a kiss (even as Suzi is clamoring for attention at our feet). If I am the one working (like some Saturdays) Jordan often makes an effort to do some cleaning or cook me lunch for when I get home. I feel like we already do a good job on greetings. The challenge was to think of a specific way you'd like to greet your spouse and do it with a smile and enthusiasm. Then we were to change our greetings to reflect our love for one another. I couldn't really think of any creative way to improve my greeting, besides perhaps jumping on Jordan instead of just hugging him or answering the door dressed only in cellophane, a la Fried Green Tomatoes. Ha. Maybe one day when Suzi is in college. So finally I decided to don my "Mommy needs a beer" apron and make him brownies. He liked that. I called him before he left work to ask if he'd pick up some things at the store, and he took that opportunity to greet me with soynuts and cookies. He knew I'd be happy to have soynuts because around here they are hard to find. We won't buy/make things for each other every day, of course, but occasionally it's nice. We will never run short of hugs and kisses to say I missed you and I'm glad you're home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The election is over but we are STILL VOTING

I just finished reading about (and entering) Amy's newest challenge over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess and, as usual, she has inspired me to post about it too. One thing she pointed out, which we all need to remember, is that we vote with our money. Every time we spend a buck we are voting for something. If I forgo shopping at the small businesses in our town and go to a large chain instead, then I am voting for the small businesses to shut down. I actually think this money-vote is more important than any other type of vote. You can tell where someone's allegiances lie by looking over their bank statement.

The most money-voting is done during the Christmas season. Just as people lined up into parking lots to cast votes for Obama or McCain, they will also line up to vote at Wal-Mart and Best Buy and Toys-R-Us on Black Friday. Jordan and I will not be there, because we have already voted by absentee ballot. I bought several gifts at Nubius Organics, which stocks eco-friendly, fair-trade products often made by small companies. I bought two little sock monkeys from My Mommy's Place on Etsy. In just a minute I'm going to place an order with The Hunger Site Store. That's a vote I'm particularly proud of. Not only is rice donated with each purchase, but the items are handmade and fair-trade, and many of them are made in training programs which allow women to learn a marketable trade and support their families. Soon we will be attending a local alternative gift fair where shoppers can make donations in the names of the people on their list. There are a ton of good things you can vote for there--for the promise of fresh eggs or milk for a family in an impoverished country; for a child living in poverty to discover the joy of reading; for a rape victim to have a new set of clothing to wear home from the hospital when her own clothes have been kept for evidence. There will even be handmade material gifts to buy.

What are you planning to vote for this Christmas season? Will you vote for more products to be made on U.S. soil? Will you vote for less packaging waste? Will you let some Etsy merchants know you want them to keep at it because they are doing a great job? Will you demand safer toys for our children?

I have already seen this at work. Have you been to the Target toy section lately? It was once full of typical noisy plastic toys. Then moms started raving over Haba and Plan's gorgeous wooden playthings. They just couldn't seem to find what they wanted at old Targee'. That's when oodles of wooden toys and things that encouraged imaginative play started popping up on Target's shelves! (Yeah--I know the dumb stuff is still there too. Unfortunately people still buy it.) The point is, your vote does count. At Jennie G's, if we purchase a product from a company and no one buys it, do you think we are going to reorder? Of course not. We'd go out of business! Big stores make decisions the same way.

It all goes hand-in-hand, but Amy's platform is that we should vote for less plastic. (And if you are buying Suzi a gift, please oblige.) This means not only buying fewer plastic toys, but also buying things that don't use up a bunch of plastic and styro packaging, or requesting that they be packaged in paper instead if possible. I have already signed up for this challenge and I think you should too. Amy will even give you some link love as a reward.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Love Dare, days 6 and 7

For day six, we were to choose to react to tough situations in our marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. We have been trying to do this since we began the Love Dare, and I think we did a pretty good job. Also, we were supposed to decide on areas in which we could add margin to our schedule. We thought it over and came up with a couple of ideas. I don't think we are necessarily over scheduled, but...

1) We watch a lot of TV, and TV can suck your life away. We turn it on to fill up silence and then end up watching for the rest of the night. The funny thing is how we'll say "We're just so busy! We don't have time for _______." Actually, we do have time; we just need to take it. When you're watching TV you feel like you were doing something, even if you can't quite remember what. We resolved to plan some fun afternoon activities with Suzi instead of turning on the TV.

2) We need to build in daily cleaning time. Our house gets overwhelming fast. On the days when I'm home with Suzi, I usually try to clean but it's hard because she wants to play, and generally in a manner which undermines my cleaning. She goes around behind me taking all her toys back out, or starts doing something dangerous so I have to stop what I'm doing to take care of her. Then I forget what I was working on. That is when I get frustrated with her, and I'd rather be a happy mom spending time with my daughter than a grouchy one feebly trying to clean around her. I usually only get one day off with her each week! I'm not sure Jordan is totally on board with this, but we agreed to add a "cleaning hour" to our schedule each night. After dinner we can turn off the TV and turn on some music and do dishes or fold laundry together. With the two of us working together, Suzi would be more likely to get involved and stay happy. As we catch up on our messy house, we could probably cut back to half an hour. I also would like to get up early (like 5 am) more often to clean. I do it sometimes already.

3) I pointed out we need to add more margin to our finances, but we were working on that before beginning the Love Dare. We don't have credit card debt and I'm thankful for that, but the more margin you have in your finances the happier you'll be. I know I'm not the only one who's had a bad day just because of money worries such as a big unexpected expense. Sense to Save is an inspiring blog if you want to save money. Kacie is so smart and it's just amazing that she's learned all she knows at such a young age. Our goals are to pay our van and hospital bill off early. We already make a little more than the regular monthly payment on the van, and any extra we pay goes straight to the principal. It's a double-whammy: the faster we pay it, the less interest we get stuck with; and the faster we pay it, the sooner we have several hundred dollars freed up each month. We will soon have $38 extra each month as we are about to finish paying off a vacation program we purchased in college. (Incidentally, we've used it several times and it was already worth what we paid.) We will probably tack an extra $40 to our van payment at that time. Over the past couple of months we have been a lot more careful with impulsive purchases and it's paid off.

For day seven we were supposed to make two lists: one list of positive things about each other, and one list of negative things. We were to hide both lists away for later use, but share one thing off the positive list at some point during the day and just say thank you for having that quality. Jordan wanted to be sure I wasn't blogging a laundry list of his negative qualities (of course not!) but I told him I would share some of the positive and that was fine by him! I'll just share some of them. I wouldn't want him to get embarrassed.

1) He can fix most anything. Several years ago, with no specific training whatsoever, he ordered a bunch of computer parts and put together a custom PC for us. The parts cost a significant chunk of money (but we saved a lot over what we'd have spent to buy that computer ready-to-use), so to be honest, I was a little nervous. But he did it and I am sitting here using the computer to blog right now! It is so nice to have a computer guy right here 24/7!

2) He never shrinks from helping others with his geeky gift. He recently helped my parents get their monitor fixed, helped my dad re-run the cable for their TV so it isn't fuzzy when they turn on the shredder (long story), and installed a wireless router so my mom could check her email and surf the web on my old college laptop without having to go downstairs. He frequently troubleshoots his parents' computer over the phone, and has advised numerous people on what type of computer to buy.

3) I have always loved his laugh when something struck him as really, really funny. It's cute.

4) He has the ability to make friends in a snap. He's gotten into a study group in every single class he has taken in the past two years or so. I could never do that.

5) He always believes the best about people.

Jordan told me he likes how I love to help people. He gave the example of some of my blog topics, and also how babywearing helped us so now I make slings for others and help spread the word about it. That made me feel good.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Love Dare, days 4 and 5

For day four, Jordan and I were to call one another at some point during the day, just to check on each other. This was a little silly since we ended up talking to each other twice, but we did it anyway. I usually call Jordan at least a couple of times a week, but this was different because normally I'm calling to ask a favor and this time I was calling to see if there was anything I could do for him. Then he called me later in the afternoon.

Day five was trickier. I will sort of quote the task to keep it from getting wordy and confusing: Ask your partner to share three things you do which make him feel uncomfortable or irritated with you. Now who really wants to know that? And the catch was that you weren't allowed to attack your partner or defend yourself. The funny part is, during arguments, we've had an easy time thinking up half a dozen of one another's faults! Yet since we've begun the Love Dare we haven't argued once, and haven't even come close. This time we gently and thoughtfully offered one another our areas for improvement, realizing it might hurt to hear them. We gave each other three things but Jordan and I decided not to forfeit all of our privacy, so I will just share one of each.

First, Jordan told me I sometimes say "I'm just going to check my email," at which point I will get sidetracked and spend an hour or more on the computer. This had happened the night before, because I got an email which reminded me that we needed to order Suzi's big Christmas gift. Then I stayed up late (and woke Jordan up) to order it. He was right; I do need to work on that.

I had a hard time thinking of three annoying things about Jordan. I told him he sometimes procrastinates household tasks--even ones he has agreed to do. I think this is fairly common among husbands, and I know I also do it myself.

I am going to try to work on the things he mentioned. They are all written down and stuck in our book. For today, day six, we are to find areas to add "margin" to our schedule. We read the lesson, which was about how to overcome irritability, last night. It pointed out that stress is a main cause of irritability. I can definitely see how that applies to my life, because it doesn't take much to get me wound up. I know this is something I need to work on too.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thanks Northwest Mom Finds--I love it!

I just received my prize from the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival in the mail and wanted to say thanks to Northwest Mom Finds. I won a $10 Starbucks gift card and this:

It's a 2-in-1 coffee cup sleeve from Handmaiden BC. Actually I think it's a 3-in-1. Starbucks is a rare thing for me. I don't drive by one every day and couldn't afford it if I did! (But gift cards are great.) The beauty of it is, the sleeve also fits on my Earthlust Stainless Steel Bottle. The bottle is made from a single layer of steel, so it will burn your fingers if filled with hot coffee! But not anymore...

Whether you make a daily Starbucks run or make your own coffee at home, you can use one of these sweet, soft cup sleeves. They are only $8 at Handmaiden BC and would make cute Christmas gifts!

So thanks a lot, Northwest Mom Finds! I love my prizes! (Even though I'm a Southeast Mom, myself.)

Well, I'm off to make a pot of coffee which will hopefully spark a long overdue housecleaning marathon...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Love Dare, Days 2 and 3

For day two, Jordan and I were supposed to do one unexpected thing as an act of kindness. Jordan had the day off (election day) and started by helping me get to work on time by ironing my pants. I decided to stop by the store and buy him some nori, because he has found he enjoys making sushi, but they didn't have any. I did pick up some roasted red pepper hummus and a couple of other things he liked. When I got home, I was greeted by a spotless living room, sleeping baby and grinning husband. (The living room had previously been a disaster.) Jordan had also done most of the laundry that had been piling up, and actually put it away, which is where the breakdown normally occurs. I really appreciated it. I didn't feel like I had "done" the day two dare yet.

The day three dare was to buy each other something that says "I was thinking of you today." Jordan and I are not big on buying each other expensive gifts; even Christmas and birthdays usually go by with handmade ornaments or just a card. Therefore, I bought Jordan a small box of dark chocolate coffee bean candy, and he bought me some Nutella (my favorite) and a couple of other things at the store. When he came home from work we both said "I couldn't think of what to get you!" and apologized for our gifts' smallness, and then laughed when we saw the evenness of what we'd purchased. We both liked what we got and agreed that more expensive gifts would have been unnecessary.

Then, as I had intended to do the day before, I gave Jordan a back massage as an unexpected act of kindness. I got out the massage oils I'd given him as a gift much longer ago than I remembered. The card was still attached and read something to the effect of "Jordan, it's been a great year and you've been the best boyfriend ever!" That dates it back to, oh, late 2003. We used to give each other back massages all the time before we had Suzi.

Massage oil, by the way, makes an excellent gift. My freshman year in college, my roommate Sara asked me to take a Swedish massage mini-class with her. She didn't want to go by herself and end up massaging a stranger. I don't remember much of what I learned, but it was fun and it gave me the idea of making a massage oil set for Jordan. I bought sweet almond oil (my mom and I had to go to Lucy's Love Shop to find it; almond oil was about the tamest thing in the shop) and separated it into four jars, then added peppermint oil and several others to make it scented. I guess I overestimated how much massaging we would be doing, because we still have a ton left over and, really, it's time to buy new oil. Do I feel a Christmas gift coming on?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy blogoversary to me?

My blog's birthday, November 3rd, came and went and I MISSED it! But I did unknowingly celebrate the milestone. I am working on a new project with a good friend I know in real life who also blogs, and we just found out we have another awesome mom-to-be joining us! We are very excited about it and I won't go into details yet, but it's going to be great. We thought of the idea Monday on my blog's anniversary, and yesterday a name for it popped into my head while I was in the shower. Stay tuned for more details!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On hurling the haggis

One thing I never thought I'd be doing: actually competing in the games portion of a Highland Games event. But in Hendersonville on Saturday, the VP came around asking women to sign up. "It's just fun, and a way for us to be a part of the games, rather than just watching," she assured me. So I signed up. I think if you can do something, you should do it. Otherwise you might miss out.

The first event was hurling the haggis. This is based on the custom of Scottish women throwing their husbands a meal, tied up in a sheep's stomach, across a stream where the men were working. The man would have to catch it. I'm so glad I don't have to do that, because Jordan would probably starve to death, poor thing. We didn't really hurl haggis, though; it was a 2.5 pound beanbag. We first had to curtsy to the judge and then yell something, it didn't matter what, as we released the haggis. We were supposed to stand on a barrel to do this but it basically dissolved right before the competition, so we stood on a bale of hay instead. If you fell off, the throw didn't count. I fared better than I expected; I managed not to fall on my butt like some of the women did, and didn't end up hurling the haggis back over the heads of the audience. We didn't use the proper form, but I might look it up for next time.

Then we tossed the broom. This was based on the idea that the woman would throw the broom at her husband because he made her mad. I did okay, but not great. The next event was the Welly Toss, based on what you would do with your husband's muddy boots if he put them on your clean floor. Well, we only got to throw once for this one, and you can see how I did...

It landed about two yards from my feet! Embarrassing. "But it bounced up pretty high!" Jordan pointed out.

But that wasn't all. We still had the Mead Relay to go! In this one we filled shot glasses with mead (okay, it was actually root beer) and ran across a field to pour it into a mug. The team to fill their mug first wins! Here I am filling up my glass (second person from the left).

And here you see me running back to hand the glass to my teammate. Please notice and duly appreciate how I am nearly at a 45-degree angle with the ground. That hasn't happened since college, for sure. That second mug is ours, and we were doing pretty good!

My team won third place, and I got a ribbon! Yay! It makes me glad I didn't dress up for these games.

This is right after they handed the ribbons out (Suzi missed me). The lady behind me in the dark dress and apron was on my team for the relay.

I think I am going to get a boot, a broom and a beanbag and train in the backyard for next year.