Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's great to buy items made by moms!

That is why I LOVE Etsy. It is a website where you can buy and sell things that have been handmade. Not all things are made by moms, but you can find a ton of cool things and many are made by either moms who work at home or moms just trying to get their craft on while making a little extra money for their families.

For example, as you can see from previous posts I am a babywearing advocate. I was in the market for a carrier that went over both shoulders, but wasn't quite as bulky as the Ergo carrier (which is great for longer hauls and bigger kids). I found a woman on Etsy who makes mei tai baby carriers for a fraction of the cost of the more well-known designers. The kicker is that they are SO well-made! The people who sell things on Etsy take pride in what they produce so I have found the quality to be amazing.

I can't say enough about this site and the people who sells things on it!

Win a Babywearing Dream Stash!

How AWESOME is this!
Win the Essential Babywearing Stash from Along for the Ride (one Beco Butterfly, one Hotsling baby pouch, one BabyHawk Mei Tai, one Zolowear Ring Sling, and one Gypsy Mama Wrap)

You could win one of each of the major types of baby carrier from Along For The Ride. Enter the contest, then head back to the main site to peruse their great collection and learn something from their information section!

My husband has begun to raise his eyebrows at my growing collection of carriers and baby carriers are my new favorite baby gift because as they say at Along For The Ride, babies are born to be worn.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I thought I'd seen this pose before...

So funny, they really do look alike! Isn't it crazy how some people have several kids who look TOTALLY different and others have several kids who look SO MUCH alike? These were taken by two different cameras in two different houses by two different people, but they look alike to me.

So sorry, I've been overwhelmed.

Wow, a week without a post and so much to post about. First, an update on my brother: Lucas is doing well and in high spirits. His surgery on Wednesday went well. I'm not sure exactly what they did, but it involved plates, rods, and screws being put either in his back or his left foot. They sat him up in bed today (the first time he has been able to sit up in a week) so I think that made him feel better mentally. They hope to re-introduce solid foods tomorrow. Pray that he doesn't have the same reaction he did last time (he couldn't keep anything down in the beginning). Depending on how the next couple of days go, he may be out of the hospital by mid-week next week and could possibly be home the first week in July. Thank you again for all of your prayers.

On the homefront it has been a really stressful couple of weeks on a variety of levels. My body chemistry is slowly returning to normal after having Jack (can you believe he is 7 1/2 weeks old). This means that I am having longer stretches where I can be gentle and tolerant with Katherine. Although, I think having an extremely active, intelligent toddler can be trying for even the best of mothers (at least I like to think that).

It doesn't help that James' job has been taking him out of town so much these last couple of weeks. You've got to love the end-of-quarter heroics that must be performed to make stock holders happy. So, I have basically been a single mom (without the brief reprieve of work outside the home) for the better part of two weeks.

I pray more during times like this, but often feel farther from Him when I lose my cool and become a mother I don't like very much. I think God tries to give me moments of respite or reflection via a new smile from Jack, a thoughtful gesture from Katherine, a beautiful bird landing outside my kitchen window, a ray of sunshine that filters beautifully through the canopy of leaves on the tree in my front yard, reading a blog post that really resonates with me and makes me realize I'm not the only one who struggles as a wife, mother, or believer...

Thankfully He has put us in a place where we are surrounded by friends and neighbors who, although not biological family, have become our chosen family. We are blessed by these people in large ways and small on a daily basis. Whether it is my neighbor Jae bringing our garbage cans in from the curb when I've been too overwhelmed to even notice they are still there, his wife Trish offering to have Katherine over for a play-date so that I can get something done with only one child, Balaz ans Suzanne walking our dog Hunter (or even hanging out with Katherine for a while), or Lisa inviting us down the street to join them for dinner so I don't have to make an entire meal for myself and a 2 1/2 year old...these people have become like family and I thank God for them.

We are truly blessed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thank You and an Update

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been thinking of and/or praying for Lucas and the rest of our family! We are overwhelmed with the support. God has truly been at work in this situation (I'll blog later about some of the amazing ways He has shown up).

Update on Lucas: We have more concrete information on his condition (two broken feet and several dislocated vertebrae) and have been told that he will undergo surgery in Barcelona on Monday (or possibly Tuesday). We haven't spoken directly to a doctor yet so have not been able to ask questions regarding extent of the injury to his feet, what procedures will be done during the surgery, or potential recovery time.

We are blessed to have a friend who lives and works in Barcelona. Emil has been able to visit Lucas in the hospital, spoke to the doctors (which netted the additional information since he is fluent in Spanish and not full of pain meds), and provided Lucas with a cell phone to use while he is in the hospital. Emil has been an amazing and invaluable friend!

Thanks to the cell phone we have been able to talk to Lucas at greater length. I don't know whose spirits were lifted more by our ability to just chat with him, ours or his! The family contact has been great for Lucas, he sounds much better after having an opportunity to be in contact with us.

On a side note: I can't tell you how amazing James has been throughout this ordeal. Lucas didn't grow up with a father or big brother around to lean into, look to for a model, or ask advice of. James has really become a big brother figure for Lucas. I think they spent as much time on the phone this afternoon as Lucas and I did! James is so disarming that he allowed Lucas to forget about his situation for a few minutes by just chatting with him and acting like everything is normal.

James has also been amazing regarding the impact of this situation on our family. We are both comitted to helping Lucas in any way we possibly can. James took on the mantle of big brother without a second thought and hasn't looked back. This situation has happened to our family, not just to my little brother. Without batting an eye, he opened our home to Lucas should he need a place to recover. He immediately suggested that I start looking at flights in case I needed to fly to Barcelona to either be there for Lucas' surgery or to help him get home to completely recover.

If he were a lesser man he could hesitate, thinking about the roof repair project we have been putting off, the fact that we will likely have to replace our dishwasher soon (I know, we don't HAVE to have a dishwasher), the leaf blower/vac that he has been eyeing with Father's Day approaching, etc. He could have balked at the thought of his wife possibly taking his six-week-old halfway across the world. Thankfully he didn't. He hit the ground running, shifting into project management mode. He has done so much in the last 24 hours! I am absolutely blessed to have James in my life, and even more in our family.

Anyway, we are just going to take things one day at a time and provide updates as we are able!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We Need Your Prayers

We found out this afternoon that my brother Lucas was in an accident in Barcelona, Spain. His injuries are not life-threatening, but he is in the hospital in a fair amount of pain and looking at surgeries on his back and at least one foot.

He was not traveling with anyone so is alone in a foreign country whose language he does not speak. Please pray for his physical recovery and that his spirits don't fall too much. We have no idea when or how he will be able to come home so we can use all the prayer we can get!

Thank you and God bless you and yours.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A toy I look forward to playing with... opposed to the plastic jungle of garishly colored, brain-sucking clutter we typically call toys. I just read a post over on Z Recommends about a cool product called thumballs. Thumballs are four or six inch soft stuffed balls that have things printed on the individual panels (12 panels for 4 inch balls and 32 panels for 6 inch balls).

I am particularly excited about their early learner series (numbers, letters, shapes, and animals) as well as their icebreaker version (perfect for the college students I work with). How cool!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Speaking of rain...

If you could pick any sound to capture inside a little wooden ball mean to be a child's toy, what would it be? Me? I would choose the sound that those rain sticks make. Kind of like "chshshshsh" - maybe? Spelling a sound is harder than it seems!

One of my favorite blogs is Z Recommends. Over at Z Recs today they have a review for Haba Discovery Balls. They are small wooden balls that make different noises (one clacks, one squeaks, etc.). They are meant for children 12 months and up, but I think if they had one that made the sound of a rain stick I would carry it around!

Maybe we should get some of these for Jack - although at five weeks old I think he'll have to gain some skills (neck control, sitting up, grasping, etc.) before he would enjoy them much!

OK, So I'm A Freak About Weather

I really have an overactive sense of self-preservation when it comes to weather. I have had nightmares about tornados since I was a kid (probably stemming from the description my half-brother gave me of living through one - a description I now recognize as totally pulling my leg). I just get a little freaked out.

This is one of the many reasons I appreciate our basement (especially since we had it finished into a family room). The kids and I camped out in the basement yesterday afternoon and all night last night during several hours of tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm watches. I guess camping isn't a great analogy since we have a big TV, a comfy couch, a full bathroom, and a kitchenette (fridge, microwave, etc.). The only part of the analogy that holds true is the fact that we didn't sleep in our own beds.

Luckily Katherine eventually did take a nap while I hawkishly watched the weather coverage from one of our local stations. Then another front was predicted to come through overnight so we took the back cushions off the couch, got a light blanket, and the three of us settled down to sleep on the couch. My wonderfully understanding husband (who doesn't make sense of my mania) suggested I pull out the couch (it folds out to a queen bed) and I should have taken his advice. I may have gotten more sleep had I taken his advice. It just seemed like too much work at the time.

The only damage that actually happened in our area was some fallen tree branches. So, I really had nothing to worry about. But, you never know how things will play out and we have had damage done to the outside of our house as a result of fallen tree branches during previous storms.

I guess I'll just be glad when tornados are out of season, I don't mind snow storms nearly as much!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Great Idea - Cool Product

I saw this product somewhere about a year ago and in lieu of purchasing it, I put a modified form of the idea into daily practice with Katherine. When we get to the car I have her put her hand on the rear tire while I open the door for her so that she can then climb into her carseat by herself. Again, when we are getting out of the car I take her around to Jack's side of the car and have her put her hand on that rear tire while I get him out.

Katherine cooperates most of the time, but I think the Parking Pal, reviewed over at SIMPLE, would be a more visual reminder for both of us. I think my favorite is the FishPal design, but the FlowerPal and the DynoPal are pretty cool as well. What a fun way to keep kids safe!