Friday, January 30, 2015

Blogaversary


Writing, for me, has always been a way to express myself. It's my outlet. A way to vent. A memory tracker. An online diary. As my friend Jenn said, it's a poor man's version of therapy. Over the years, I've probably saved us a mint then.

I started my first blog in 2008 when I moved to Germany by myself. It had some travel adventures and it's where the first memories of my husband are recorded. In 2010, I started a new blog that focused on the year my husband was deployed. I wrote in it every day and I swear it saved my sanity. And when E was born, I kept up a personal blog for about a year. If someone wanted to know when he got his first tooth, I'd look in my blog archives, not his baby book (I really should update that, shouldn't I?).

And now here we are a year into my mommy blog. It's not super personal because it's public, but it gives me a chance to write and be heard. I want to thank each of you for reading my blog posts. I also appreciate all of the public and private feedback that I've been given in the past year. Knowing that others enjoy reading the blog gives me the motivation I need to keep going.

On that note, I'm thinking of changing the name again (I know, I know). I think it's gotten a bit lengthy for my taste and I want to shorten it up. If you get a chance, please fill out the poll below.

Thanks again for your continued support. I'm excited to start another year of blogging with you!

Cheers,
Jen

*Congrats to Kristen S. for winning the blogaversary giveaway prize package!*

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stitch Fix #8 - One big box of sadness

First things first. I still love the idea of Stitch Fix. I really do. But this box bombed big time and for half a second, I was ready to quit the program altogether.

If you've been reading these posts, you know that I was having serious fit issues awhile back. And then I started using the same stylist (yay for Jacqueslene!) and everything was coming up spades. The clothes were fitting better, they were more my style, I was easily able to find at least one item in each box. And then the unthinkable happened.

Jacqueslene didn't style my box. When I opened it there was a note from *gasp* Stacey. Normally, there's a lengthy note from Jacqueslene that addresses my requests for the month with some of her personal styling tips. Instead, I found two sentences - they didn't have a red dress or skirt in my size. She included a red blouse as substitute. XO, Stacey. 

Oh hello, red flag. Were you there the whole time?

Monday, January 26, 2015

DIY: Activity Jars (AKA - I'm Bored)


Lately, we've been stuck in a rut. We watch movies, color, build towers, play with dragons, read books and repeat. It doesn't help that we've been sick going on nearly two weeks or that my motivation is near zero. All I want to do is watch Child Genius and eat Thin Mints. So I started thinking about other activities for us to do and realized that we did much better back in December. And the reason is because we drew new activities to do each day when we added an ornament to our advent calendar.

I'm sure you've seen the "I'm bored jars" on Pinterest or other mom sites. I finally dredged up enough energy to put not one, but two, together. From now on, we'll pull popsicle sticks out of these jars when we need an activity pick-me up. I opted to make two jars because one is geared toward learning and one is toward playing.

The idea behind the learning jar is that today, we're going to learn about XYZ. And then we spend the rest of the day relating back to that item, whether it's an animal, a shape, a letter, and so forth. Here are some of the items in the learning jar.

* Letters A - Z
* Colors
* Numbers
* Shapes like hearts, squares, rectangles and triangles
* Animals like lions, dogs, cats, tigers, sheep, cows, ducks, horses and elephants

There are probably about 50 popsicle sticks in the learning jar. For the "time to play" jar, I had a much harder time coming up with activities. I probably need to go on Pinterest so I can beef up my numbers. Here are some of the play activities in our jar.

* Walk Layla
* Bake cookies
* Build a tower
* Ride tricycle
* Dress up
* Play castle
* Playground
* Build a fort
* Play outside
* Bath time
* Make music
* Color
* Paint
* Sing songs
* Read books
* Do a craft
* Signing time
* Busy bag activity
* Play monster/chase
* Watch movie
* Dance party
* Play with chalk
* Play with trains
* Meet up with friends

Has anyone else done something similar? Or have a cool activity I could add to my jars?

Cheers,
Jen

Have you signed up for the blogaversary giveaway yet? You have until Thursday, Jan 29 at midnight to sign up!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Blogaversary Giveaway!

After digging through the archives, I realized that I started my crunchy mama blog nearly a year ago - Jan. 30 to be exact. So to celebrate a full year of crunchiness (among other things), I'm hosting a blogaversary giveaway! But let's get to what you really want to know about...

One lucky individual will win a Starbucks gift set, a 2015 weekly planner, hand knit socks AND a handmade infinity scarf. 

Here's a better pic of the hand knit socks. These look super warm and toasty. I was awfully tempted to wear them around the house, but I practiced good self control. You're welcome. Also, big thanks to Jackie for donating these to the raffle. She doesn't have a business page (she should, right?!), but if you're interested in buying a pair let me know. I'll try to pull some strings. Get it? Strings? 

Here's the crocheted infinity scarf. The photo doesn't do it justice. I considered saying it got lost in the mail and keeping it for myself. You can all thank me for having morals because now you have a chance to win. Check out Misty's Hooks & Dreams Facebook page. Her stuff is amazing and I can't thank her enough for donating this fabulous scarf for the raffle! 

You don't have to be local to win. I'll ship the prizes if necessary! So enter using all the tools below to maximize your chances. Trust me, you want to win this one.

The winner will be announced next Friday, Jan 30 on the official blogaversary.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cheers,
Jen

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm sick. Where is my mom?



I realize that at the age of 31 I should probably have the whole "handle an illness on my own thing" down pat, but all I want right now is my mom and a Michael Jordan triple cheeseburger from McDonald's.

Don't judge me.

E has been sick since last Thursday (oh hello, 2 a.m. ER visit) and I either caught it from him or from one of the other sick people in the waiting room (or Target, the grocery store, the gas station - you get the picture). E seems to have finally hit an upswing with his illness after fighting a fever every day for nearly a week and a particularly stressful trip to his regular doctor yesterday morning. An episode that resulted in lots of tears and a swift kick to the doc's leg while she was trying to look in his ear. I'm pretty sure at this point they're hoping we'll move far, far away never to be heard from again. Can't say I blame them. As soon as I pulled into the clinic parking lot he started saying no, no, no and held his chest clips together on his car seat. Yeah, that was a good sign.

Right so back to me (obviously) - whatever I caught seems to be getting worse. I was up around 3 a.m. with a sore throat (it felt like fire every time I swallowed) and when I got up for good around 8 a.m. it felt like a mild version of the flu. Body aches, low grade temp, breathing through my mouth only to have my nose start running profusely with no signs of stopping, nausea when I stand up - I AM SICK. And I want my mom. Did I already mention that?

Since I'm nursing, I rarely take any kind of medication but I was desperate this morning. Luckily, my friend doesn't mind me texting her for medical advice (thanks, J!) and I found some meds in the house to take. I'm not cured, but it's more manageable for the most part.

Naturally, once I started feeling better the mom guilt kicked in. How many days have we been at home? How many times have we watched Frozen? Has my kid, who is in the "best learning phase of his life" learned anything in the past week other than the words to Frozen? Seriously, he's obsessed. He sings the songs and knows the hand gestures. He "sneezes" when Olaf does. We had to take drastic measures and put him on a once a day limit. A rule I begrudgingly broke about 30 minutes ago. Scratch that - more like willingly broke. He hasn't taken a nap yet today. It's 4 p.m. and he hasn't had a nap. WTF. I need quiet time. I just want to sit in this rocking chair and drink my sixth cup of tea in peace.

Although, to his credit, he's been a peach today. E was a bear yesterday, so he must realize I'm hurting today. We've had minimal tears and tantrums today. And when I crumpled to the floor in pain (this actually happens often - today it was from hitting my ankle on the metal piece of his baby gate), he bent down and gave me a hug to make sure I was OK. And even though he hasn't had a nap, he's eating snacks and watching Frozen without complaint. He's even looking at his flash cards, which I pulled out an hour ago in a feeble attempt to assuage my mom guilt about the recent lack of learning.

At this point, I'm trying to coast. Nate should get off work in an hour (hopefully) and then he can come home and help out. My most recent dose of meds is slowly kicking in, too (hallelujah). I'm so grateful that Nate is home right now and not in the field or downrange. If only my mom still lived here! I would've sent out an SOS this morning and spent the day curled in the fetal position only lifting my head for sips of tea and bites of cheeseburger.

Instead, I'm going to sit in this chair and try not to fall asleep until Nate gets home while my child watches Frozen for the second time while still wearing his pajamas from last night.

Motherhood - nailing it.

Cheers,
Jen


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I change my mind all the time. And that's OK.


Case in point -

Before I got pregnant, I was one of those judgemental people who thought breastfeeding past a year was gross. Your kid can lift your shirt on his own? Your child can say the word milk? Your kid can go down the slide at the park solo? Yeah, it's time to stop lady. Put your boob away and move on.

And then I had E and my views changed. We were very fortunate that breastfeeding was relatively easy for both of us. Sure it hurts at first, but several months in we were like old pros. And when his first birthday rolled around nothing changed. It's not some magical number where you wake up one day and they're suddenly six feet tall sporting a mustache. Rather it's only a day later. 24 hours. Not all that different from yesterday.

Since he showed no interest in stopping and it didn't bother me to keep going, on we went. Now at 20 months, we're still going strong. There are lots of benefits to extended breastfeeding (although in other countries this is par for the course, not "extended"), but I'm not going to get into them here. It's not really about trying to sway you into breastfeeding longer or to make you feel bad because you didn't do it at all. What I'm really trying to say is that it's OK to change your mind. Just because you made some silly statements when you were 22 27 doesn't mean you have to live with them when you're 31.

Now do I get teased about those statements now and then? Of course. It was wrong to think those things before and I'll (try to) eat my words gracefully. But really, the teasing doesn't bother me much because I know I'm doing what's right for us.

And for what it's worth, there are days when I'm so over it. Like hurry up and quit the boob already. It's not always sunshine and roses and blue unicorns. But those moments pass and we move along. And who knows? Today could be our last day (ha, I doubt it). But in a couple of months, we may call it quits. And that's OK, too.

Anyone else change their mind about something after they became a parent??

Cheers,
Jen

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Review of Cards Against Humanity


Have you heard of the game Cards Against Humanity? I'd heard of it, but never played it until recently. Apparently, I'm a slow adopter since the card game officially came out in 2011. What's even more sad is that you can download the cards and print them off at home for free, which means I'm a slow adopter and slightly lazy. Womp womp.

Anyway, Nate gave me the card game as a birthday present and we played while my sister was in town. For those that are unfamiliar with the game, it's kind of like a twisted version of Apples to Apples. Everyone takes a turn playing a black card, which prompts a question (why did your last relationship end? I need _____ to get through the day). Everyone else plays a white card that answers said question/fills in the blank. However, the questions and answers are really warped so rather than seeing something like this:

Apples to Apples: "Scary"  Answers: "My high school prom" "My fridge" "J.Lo"

You'll see something like this:

CAH: "Why did your last relationship end?" Answers: "Michael Jackson" "Homeless people" "Herpes of the mouth"

Get it? The box clearly says it's a party game for horrible people so I can't fault them for false advertising. If you're in a room with people who require you to act in a PC manner, this is not the right time to whip out this game. In fact, unless I'm with family who won't disown me, or a friend of more than 10 years that shares deep dark secrets with me, I don't think I'd play this game at all because it makes you look horrible.

Because you aren't going to pick the most mild answer. Heck no! We play to win. So you're intentionally picking the most horrible answer. This game actually encourages you to compete to be the most twisted, awful, loathsome human being. A point my husband readily pointed out when I won. Mental note: It's not nice to gloat. In the future, win with dignity.

Overall, we had a good time playing the game. Some of it is just plain dumb, and other parts make you groan at how awful it is. I recommend playing it while drinking an alcoholic beverage. And again, be careful who sits at the table. When your friends decide to abandon you because they can't take a joke about Keanu Reeves and fiery poops don't say I didn't warn you.

Cheers,
Jen