Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eight crazy nights...

Tonight's the second night of Chanukah, and figuring out activities and/or gifts for EIGHT nights this year had been a bit much for me.

I'm trying to stick to the spirit of  "handmade Chanukah" by focusing on doing things together and/or handmade gifts.

For the second night, we made a gingerbread house. (Which, funnily enough, was a Christmas gift. But we're a non-traditional family, so I'm OK with it.)

Ben enjoyed it. And the pre-made house was a great idea. It held his attention for about 30 minutes, then he was ready for bath and bed.

But, he wanted to pose for pictures tonight. My little man's becoming more of a ham, and while I like that he's not fighting me when I pull out the camera, I'm not crazy about all the goofy faces he makes.

But, I guess now that I look at those faces, what's not to love?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Breastfeeding -- An Adventure of its Own

Let me start by saying that breastfeeding is natural thing. It’s also full of health benefits and way cheaper than formula. And while I’ve never found the actual act of breastfeeding that difficult, breastfeeding isn’t easy.

But MAN OH MAN is it hard to breastfeed and work fulltime. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that much easier to do it while I was at home but I was getting brave. Not carrying my pump everywhere. Feeding Vivi in “mother’s lounges” at the mall or on a bench or my car when I was out and about. We had such a good little system that when I came back to work I had almost NO stash…. And the stress began.

I hated pumping today for tomorrow. Not to mention that my days are so crazy, any hopes of pumping three times a day on a normal basis were out the window on day one.

And did I mention that there are two lactation rooms in our building? Seems like a nice idea, but there are a BA-ZILLION people that work here. And about half of them are women. And, by the way things are working out, it seems 95% of them are breast feeding. Oh, and the building is a quarter mile long (That’s NOT an exaggeration. It really is a quarter mile long.) So if the lactation room closer to me is full, and I walk to the other end of the building… well it just takes forever.

And the constant planning…. And calculating… When did she eat? Add three hours to that, so I should pump at 9:30, but I have a 9:00 meeting and if it runs long, I won’t be able to pump until 11, and that would be too long. So maybe I should pump at 8:30, but is that too soon? Ok, if I go with 8:30, then I’ll need to pump twice more before I leave… But someone is talking to me right now and it’s 8:30 right now and if I don’t go by 8:40, then I won’t be back in time for my 9:00.

Then there’s… How much did she eat? 15 oz!? I pumped only 12 oz. today. I am going to have to dip in to my stash. How much to do I have frozen? How long will that last me? How can I boost my production? I have to get up to 15 oz. per day or my child will STARVE!

But you know what? Six weeks in, I’ve got a pretty good little routine at work. And we have a nice little routine at night. And, I’ve learned that if I can pump only twice a day, it’s OK. I still come home with about the same amount. And water keeps my production up. And drinking water is the one thing that’s actually easier at work. And stress is bad for production. So I’m not stressing anymore.

And you know what else? I stopped breastfeeding Ben at about 4.5 months... and he turned out just fine. So we’ll try and keep this breastfeeding thing up for as long as I can… and, as long as I can avoid walking around with my shirt on inside-out, I’m going to be OK.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Impromtu vacation take two

So, we did the last minute vacation thing again.

The week before I went back to work. The week my four-hour freelance project turned into a 16 hour freelance project. When Vivi was only 5 weeks old.

What were we thinking?

We were thinking we needed a getaway. We were thinking we had the time off of work. We were thinking .... it was cheap. Honestly. That's mostly what we were thinking. Brian had the vacation days, I was off of work and rates in Destin, Florida were dirt cheap.

It was wonderful. Toes in the white sand.

The beach to ourselves.

And snuggling up like alligators in the sun.

Monday, December 12, 2011

really? two months?

It's been two months since my last post? How is that possible?
Oh, I have an 11 week old. You get it, right? I know you do.

I should try and recap, but I can't. The past 11 weeks has been a whirlwind of the best kind. A new family member, new routines, new memories and a joy that's familiar but unique.

There are also familiar challenges. Like, oh, getting out the door fully dressed. Arriving at work on time. Putting meals on the table for the boys. Staying hydrated enough to continue to make food for my baby girl. All worth it.

Every minute.

I'd say I'm back, but no promises. Who knows what tomorrow holds.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kitchen racetrack

Have a few minutes on a Sunday morning?

Make a racetrack in your kitchen with tape. I saw this idea online somewhere (Pinterest, probably) and have been waiting for a free moment to do it.

Pretty self explanatory -- my only tip is to buy your painters' tape at the dollar store.

And to get creative with "obstacles" ...

(you know, the usual obstacles... a sign, traffic cones, an alien, Tow Mater and a photographer...) 

and to create ramps with pieces of a pizza box...

and to get ready to fish cars out from under appliances...

And to enjoy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Apple Picking and waiting for baby...

Another year at Lynd's

This time with new friends

And just a few days before a new baby sister

One of our yummiest tradtions

Sunday, September 18, 2011

30 things

.... before I am thirty....

Give birth to ONE new baby
Make that baby TWO dresses from a pattern
Try THREE new veggies or fruits
Sit down for dinner as a family of FOUR
Try FIVE new updos
Send SIX birthday cards
Spend SEVEN days on vacation
Put EIGHT quarters in expired meters
Read NINE new books
Run TEN miles (at once) again
Send TWELVE letters
Make my own butter using SIXTEEN ounces of milk
Celebrate my engagement on March SEVENTEETH with my husband
Have all TWENTY of my nails (fingers and toes) painted
Make TWENTY FOUR cookies from scratch and give them as a gifts
Leave TWENTY SEVEN comments on my favorite blogs
Print and frame TWENTY EIGHT pictures
Write TWENTY NINE new blog posts
Get rid of THIRTY things from my closet

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Like so many, I'll never forget September 11, 2001.

I was a sophomore living in my sorority house and one of the few who, not only had early morning classes, but who also watched the news.

I saw the smoke from the first tower on Good Morning America. Walked down to the kitchen and told our cook and the other girls grabbing breakfast that something happened in New York. An explosion, or maybe a plane hit one of the twin towers. No one had heard about it.

I went to class and no one -- not even the teacher who had a long commute to Athens -- had seen or heard the news. So I went to my next class in the history building.

It was a mad house -- classes being cancelled, professors talking to each other comparing this to Pearl Harbor and talking about terrorists. I had heard of Osama bin Laden. I had read a Time magazine article about him. I thought he had to be involved. My class was cancelled. I went back to the house I shared with 67 other women.

We were ALL in the living room. Glued to the TV. One girl had a boyfriend in New York -- his first day of work in one of the towers. (If I remember correctly he was being taken out to coffee with the planes hit. But it was a long time before we knew he was OK.) Another girl's father was a federal judge. He worked in the pentagon frequently. (He was also OK. But again it was hours -- I think it may have actually been after sundown -- before we knew for sure.)  I had friends who had enlisted in the army, marines, ROTC for the tuition benefit. Now they were getting phone calls -- told to standby because we'd likely be going to war.

I was 19. 19. A baby, really. And it was the first time that I realized how vulnerable life is. It was the first time I truly realized how big the world is. It was the first time I understood the sacrifice that our servicemen and women are willing to make.

It shook me to my core and it sill does. Today, I shed a lot of tears. Quietly. I thought I was being discreet but Ben picks up on everything. And there was no avoiding the images on the TV.

Why you crying mommy?

Mommy's remembering a sad day 10 years ago.

What happened?

Some bad guys hurt a lot of people.

In 'dat building? Wit the smoke coming out?

Yes, in that building and a couple other places. A lot of people were hurt and died. It was scary.

What happened? 

Well, Ben-Ben, it's complicated. But what's important is that we remember that today is an important day to remember the people who died, who were hurt and who helped and protected us that day and everyday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beach vacation survival tips part two

So Brian wasn't the only brilliant packer, I chipped in as well.

Mostly with non-glamorous stuff that you'd hate to forget/have to buy at inflated vacation prices. Here are my must pack items:
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Laundry detergent (I used freed samples that I had saved up -- just two or three of them)
- Mini first aid kit (just the basics like Neosporin and Band Aids)
- Sunscreen and aloe
- Bug spray
- Bottled water (the little half pint guys are perfect for the little)

And the only thing we forgot that I kept kicking myself about: snack baggies. Seriously. You need these for toting snacks to the beach.

I also packed lots of entertainment for our little man so we could enjoy our meals and car trips. I brought just one shoebox with toys, so there's really no need to bring a lot of stuff. The sand and sun tuckered him out. I kid the "new" toys in the shoe box and took them out only in case of emergency and/or dinner. Our best bet toys:
- little paper/marker/sticker kits from the impulse checkout line at Wal-mart for a buck.
- a dollar store puzzle
- matchbox cars
- DVDs

Boring. Unglamorous. But necessary and essential to our sanity.

You're welcome.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Beach vacation survival tips

I think I could write a month's worth of posts about how to plan for a successful beach vacation.

Not that we are perfect, but we really did luck out. And, even though we packed in semi-panic mode, we did pretty good.

I've always said that between Brian and I, we can figure out just about anything. (We would totally win Cash Cab.) And that was proven with this vacation.

Here were the bestest things Bri picked up/packed for the trip:

This giant blue bucket from Wal*Mart.

Why a giant blue bucket? It was cheaper than the other beach toys. But it came in SUPER handy. We used it to:
- carry all of the other beach toys
- build sand castles
- refill water guns
- rinse our hands, feet and toys off before heading back up to the condo
... and lots more. And now that it's home, I have plan for it as well. :)

Easy Mac was a true key to success. 3 mins and 30 seconds was the maximum time we could wait to eat after a morning on the beach. We ate Easy Mac and/or PB&J and fruit for lunch every day. Dinner was always someplace out.

Driving at night and/or movies in the car
We left on Friday at midnight. Now, for our family, this was fab. Brian works nights, so this was his "usual" time awake. And Ben slept nearly the entire time. Though he did wake up suddenly at about 3:00 a.m. exclaiming, "I need go pee!" And he did. On the side of the highway. And then, he went right back to sleep.

On the way home, he didn't sleep as much as we had hoped. But thanks to our DVD player, he was pretty much amused the entire time. Though, he did find time to make up this original song.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Last minute beach vacay

Remember this post? Well, I wasn't kidding.

All in that month:
  • Bri went to St. Louis
  • We hosted two birthday parties
  • I resigned from one job
  • I accepted another
  • We secured our renter for the next year for the condo
  • We booked a vacation on a Tuesday
  • We packed on a Wednesday and a Thursday
  • We left for vacation on a Friday
  • We returned on the following Thursday (at 11:00 p.m.)
  • I left for Florida for a convention Friday (at 4:00 a.m.)
  • I returned from Florida on Tuesday
  • I trained my replacement Wednesday and Thursday
  • I started my new job Friday...
  • The same day Ben got his tonsils out
Yeah. That was a lot.

And the last minute vacation was the best thing ever. I don't know how I would have survived without it.

We went to Myrtle Beach, technically Cherry Grove, which is north of North Myrtle. And, even though I swore I'd never go to Myrtle again (we went there a TON when I was growing up, like 9 or 10 years in a row), it was just what we needed: inexpensive, drivable, no passport required (mine's expired, Ben's is non-existent), beach, sun, pool.

Brian handled all the arrangements via Craig's List, which I highly recommend. The week before we left, it was a fire sale. Condo management companies were posting their not-yet-rented spaces on the cheap. And prices just kept dropping. Honestly, it was hard to pick which one we wanted. We ended up here at the Prince Resort, beach front. The building across the street had a lazy river. Both facilities were clean, convenient, easily accessible.

We enjoyed the beach all day (and I worked in the mornings and during nap time) then we explored Myrtle in the evenings. The shopping centers were packed, the food was over priced, but the nightly fireworks were fabulous and the family time was the best ever.

I'll share my lessons learned soon, but until then, enjoy the cutest kid on the beach.

Friday, July 8, 2011

3rd Birthday Cakes

As I mentioned before, I held Ben's kids' party and family party on the same day. The kids' party was from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and the family one began at 4:00 p.m.

I would definitely do this again, but cross my fingers that less than perfect weather and a menu-planning snafus don't occur again. (Both of these things left me a distracted and not as able to enjoy our company as I would typically like. So apologies to everyone who saw chicken-with-her-head-cut-off-Sayonada that day.)

I really did want to keep it simple, but I also wanted to be sure it was fun. And what's more fun than cake?

I made a Lego-shaped cake for the kids' party (and I use the term Lego-shaped loosely. These pictures are actually way more flattering than it looked in real life.)

...and decided to just use Lego-shaped candles on the family one. (By the way, the kids' was a white cake and the family one was chocolate.)

Interestingly, I got tons of compliments on the cake. Both were made with Betty Crocker cake mixes and copius amounts Kroger brand frosting. There. The secret is out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ben's 3rd Birthday

For Ben's 3rd birthday, I went with a Lego theme and decided to host both his friends' party and our family party on the same day. Rain the night before and the morning of kept us away from the soggy park, but by the time the kiddos arrived it was a sunny and beautiful.

The craftiest part of the both parties was the Lego pull-string pinata inspired by this one at Delia Creates (also a fab resource for LOTS of Lego-themed ideas).

Because the week prior to the party Bri was in St. Louis (in fact, he arrived mid-kids' party), I tried to make party prep easy. I won't go in to all the details, but here is how I planned my week:

And here's an overview of how the pinata came together using just a diaper box, green plastic table cloth, clothesline, tape and candy.

The concept is simple: only one string actually opens up the door that spills out the candy. The others were just taped on to the bottom. The kids took turns pulling the string and one lucky kid would make the candy pour out.

(And no, I am not anti-real pinata or anything, but I didn't really think arming a group of 3 year-olds was wise. And I wasn't confident that even if armed, they would be strong enough to break an actual pinata. Plus, this was super cheap.)

Clearly, this is not perfect, but it worked. And it was recognizable as a Lego piece. (At least, that is what my kind guests told me!)

More importantly, it was a hit! As I mention in the collage above, the door to open the candy should have been cut wider, but we got it open with a little help.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

it's raining, it's pouring

and Sayonada is NOT snoring.

Right after Mothers' Day, I realized that I had a LOT going on.

Does that ever happen to you? All of a sudden, you look at your calendar and think, "Wait a second, I planned to do ALL of this at the same time? What was I thinking?!"

Well that happened. Then more stuff happened.

So I been just trying to keep my head above water and enjoy a little "me" time when I can.

So I've sewed when I can. And done what I have to do. And just kept telling myself that if I could make it through June, I would be OK.

And you know what?! Today is June 30. And I've almost done it.

Tomorrow is July 1, and a it's a big day in our house. I'm starting a new job and Ben's getting his tonsils out.

Then, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers' Day and the little things

This year I've totally slacked for Mothers' Day... Last year I posted a little something as a kind of cautionary tale and unsolicited advice. 

But this year, I just want to say thanks. Even though "thanks" doesn't do it. 

Thanks or thank you or ohmigosh thank you so so so much still doesn't do it. 

There really aren't words to share the deep deep appreciation I have for the moms and grandmas who have taught me so very much. 

They've made me feel loved and valued and like I can do anything I set my mind to. 

And that's a gift I hope to share with my children. 

Recently, I've noticed something else. As a child, it was the little things my mom did that really stuck with me and my sister. Things we adamantly declare are a "tradition" but, at the time, were just the things my mom did to keep us busy or the things she needed to do so she could keep our household moving.

Things like eating cookies on Christmas morning instead of breakfast were just a way to keep us out of the kitchen so she could get dinner goes and we could get to wrapper ripping pronto. But now, we think of it as a tradition. (And as the coolest breakfast of the year!) 

The same thing happened with Robin's Pizza. Just a quick dinner that was ready in time to get us kids to soccer and dance practice -- now something I make for my family. I think Robin was surprised I even remembered it, let alone thought of it as such a great idea.

There's a quote that says to enjoy the little things in life, because some day, you'll look back and realize that they were the big things.

Truer words were never spoken.

Happy mothers' day everyone. Remember to enjoy the little things.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Behind the scenes...

I couldn't let the big baby reveal go off without a HUGE thank you to one of my very bestest friends, former work spouse and extrordinary photographers, Amanda!

She managed to snap 150+ pics in record time, getting just the right shots.

I was worried the "photo shoot" would turn out overly cheesy, and was ready to nix it up until I saw the pics. She managed to catch the just the right moments and even took a few family shots while we had a toddler in a decent mood.

I love the way a few of them turned out, especially this one (also in my May blog header)

... and this pic of Bri and I.

Of course there were plenty of outtakes....

and us letting Ben say "poopy" and "booggers" over and over just to make him smile...

So, thanks, Amanda! We couldn't have done it without you!