Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are Parents too Reliable on Technology?


So yesterday, around 3pm, the snow began falling!  And this wasn't one of those little flurry was a full-out blizzard kind of snow!  Between the wind and the amount of snow falling, I couldn't bear to stay out there for more than about 10 minutes to take the little guy sledding in it! "Okay, that was it's dark out, I'm warm and it's time to get the kiddos to sleep".  Oh if only it had been that simple.  I decide to hop in the hot shower, along with my son and 'BAM'!!  BLACK! PITCH BLACK.  He starts freaking out and I can barely find the knobs to turn off the water.  We did finally make it out and my husband came to our rescue with some flashlights and candles.

At this point, lil guy did not have any interest in going to bed! It was like an instant adrenalin rush for him.  I think it was a similar scenario for my husband, who immediately began shoveling the driveway, hauling in wood and starting a fire in the fireplace downstairs.  I saw this as a chance to relax. No internet, no television and my phone had died, so I was completely cut off from the outside world.  "What the heck do I do now?"  Normally I would put the kids in bed, and then turn on E! to see if there are any good shows on and flip open the lap top to catch up with my facebook, twitter and maybe type up a blog of what I did that day.  Instead, I lay in bed with both my little boys, cuddling them in my arms to try and keep them warm, for it wasn't taking long for the temperature to drop upstairs.  Once they fell asleep, I cracked open a book (Jennifer Weiner's Little Earthquakes: A Novel (Washington Square Press) and then fell asleep before midnight... which doesn't happen very often. 

I woke up this morning, only to find that the temperature had now gotten down to 55 degrees in our house and the fire had gone out in the middle of the night.  Brrrr!! I hate the cold!! But luckily I have a great husband who had spent half the night shoveling the driveway so he could get the car out and he was able to drive down the street to get us some Panera and my morning coffee of course!!  The power then came on shortly after he returned, which I was very pleased about, but at the same time, I was a little sad that our adventure of trying to live like people did back before electricity, had come to an end.  Before I know it, my kid's got Spongebob on tv, my husband has got his Call of Duty on playstation 3 downstairs and yes....I'm on my computer typing a blog post.  

How long would our society today last without technology? I think people would lose their minds at first, but then it would be pretty relaxing.  Even if you think back to as early as 10 years ago, we didn't have facebook, where you could sign on to check in on every friend or relative you've ever known.  We survived just fine then.  But we rely on cell phones, tvs and internet almost to the point where it's a little ridiculous, I think.  Would any of you be able to survive without these things for a day...or better yet, what about a month?  It's crazy to think that people used to live everyday like that.  I don't think I could do it!  In the end though, I had a fun time with my family, sitting by the fire to keep warm and snuggling them in bed with me all night.  But I sure am glad to have my coffee maker and my internet back on! ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Playland Anxiety. Is This Normal?

With the temperature being in the low 20's the past week, I find myself stuck in the house for way too long with the kids.  The 4-month-old doesn't mind so much, because he still sleeps for half the day, but my (almost) 3-year-old starts going as stir crazy as me!  So just to get out of the house and let the little guy run around and release some energy, I will sometimes take him down the street to McDonald's for lunch.  Even though I swore I would never let my kids eat this crap, I find that it really can be a life saver at times.  And I make sure to get him the apple dippers and milk, so I don't feel quite as bad about it.  And luckily, this McDonald's has the the perfect playland for him to play and run around in.

I have such mixed emotions about this whole fast food playland idea though.  I love the look on my son's face when he removes his little velcro shoes, neatly puts them in the little shoe rack, looks back at me and then ventures into the maze of tunnels.  He gets so excited when he finds his way to the slide, all by himself, and then makes his way down!  "Look at me mommy", he yells from up above while frantically waving his arms through the netting so that he knows I can see him.  It brings such a smile to my face seeing how happy it makes him to feel like such a big boy.  He even gets to socialize with all the other kids, which he doesn't always get the chance to do since he stays at home with me everyday.

On the other hand though, as soon as he disappears into the tubes and tunnels, my stomach knots up and I feel anxiety coming on.  I'm not sure if it's because a few months ago when I took him, he got to the top and then freaked out because he couldn't find his way out, and I was 7 months pregnant so I wasn't able to climb up and help him.  My poor baby was all alone in this big, scary maze and all he wanted was mommy and I couldn't rescue him.  I think that's every mother's worst fear!  His cries brought tears to my eyes and I finally got another kid to go up and help him down.  He's now a little older and has the playland memorized and isn't afraid, but I think it's the fact that I can't see him at all times while he's up there that stresses me out.  If I don't hear or see him for more than a minute, I yell up for him to make sure he's still in there and is alright.
Am I a crazy overprotective mom or is this completely normal?  Maybe once he's a little older, I won't be as anxious at the playlands.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5 Months to Plan My Dream Wedding!

So as you may already know from reading some of my previous blog posts, me and my fiance have done everything backwards! We got engaged, had a baby, bought our first house together, had another baby and now we have finally set a date to be married in the church! Since we have been engaged forever and already have children, we decided we didn't want to do the whole year-long wedding planning!  Since life is already hectic with two kids, let's make it ever more crazy by giving ourselves less than 5 months to plan a wedding!
It's definitely 'do able', it's just been difficult because a lot of the venues, photographers, etc are already booked for our wedding date.
Luckily, my future mother-in-law is going to be helping me out a lot! Between the two of us, we found two nice hotels with available space for a reception.  We have appointments set to check out the Marriott on Wednesday and then the Hilton on Friday, so I'm hoping one of these will work and we can get the ball rolling.  I'm not that worried about finding a reception venue, but I'm getting a bit nervous about finding a good photographer!  My two favorites that I've found so far were way too expensive, but I loved their work!
It's just so ironic to me that we've been engaged for like 3 years, and yet we are going to end up getting last pick of what we want because we've decided we just don't want to wait another few months to get the best available options!  Oh's going to be fun and everything will work out great, I'm sure of it! I could definitely use advice though! And when do I need to send out invites? Oh man, oh man... it's getting way too late for my brain to even function at this point, and the baby will probably wake up right as I snuggle up into bed and I'll be up bright and early when the 2 year old runs into my room yelling "get up, mommy, wake up!" Goodnight! :) xoxo

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Couldn't Live More Than a Week Without My Keurig!

This post is in response to a daily writing prompt at

This Christmas, my husband surprised me with this amazing new Keurig Cuisinart SS-700 Single Serve Brewing System, Silver coffee maker!  Now I would have considered myself an avid coffee drinker before I owned this thing, but now it is literally what helps me get out of bed every morning.  With the K-cups, I get to choose from so many different flavors of coffee.  " I in the mood for Donut Shop coffee or Caramel Vanilla"?  "Or maybe it's not coffee that I want this morning.  Maybe I am in the mood for some hot apple cider or some English Breakfast Tea."  Who needs Starbucks when you have this amazing machine right in your kitchen?  And not to mention, your cup of joe is ready within seconds, without any of the hassle of dealing with coffee filters, or having to measure out just the right amount of coffee grains to ensure that you don't end up with a cup thats way too strong or too watered down to your liking.  I also use it frequently to make hot cocoa for my son or use the 'hot water' button to quickly make a bowl of soup when I'm feeling under the weather or just need something to warm my bones on a cold, winter afternoon.  I am telling you, people, you may read this and think I'm crazy if I couldn't go a week without a coffee maker, but this thing is so much more than just a coffee maker and it has made my life so much easier... especially in the mornings, since I am absolutely not a morning person.  They may be a little more expensive than a regular coffee maker, but it's been worth every penny! 

Turned Away By My Church

So to make a long story, short... I have two boys, one will be 3 in March and the other is 4 months old as of last week.  My husband and I are both Catholic and come from very Catholic families.  Since I was still finishing up college when I got pregnant with my kids and we had no time to plan a big, fancy wedding at the time, we decided, what the heck, let's just go to the court house and get married in the meantime and we'll have our official wedding ceremony with friends and family once the second baby is born, I'm graduated from college and things aren't quite as hectic.

So one random March afternoon (it was actually the day before our son's 2nd birthday), we went to the courthouse, got the paperwork taken care of, and in a matter of only an hour or so, we were in this small, quiet museum right in the middle of this small city.  While we both took it seriously, we both also realized that it was very important that we be married by a Priest in a church, in front of God and our family and friends.
It's almost been a year since we exchanged vows in that little museum, and since then I have graduated college, had the new baby, moved into a new house and now we are ready to PLAN A WEDDING!!!    

So naturally, the first person I go to is the new Priest at the parish that we have been members of for 3 years.  Although we don't attend mass regularly, this is the church where our first son was baptized and the previous Priest, who just recently left, had been the Priest that baptized my mother's first daughter right before she passed away from a bad case of pneumonia, at only 2-years-old.  We also figured the timing worked out perfectly since they charge you $2,000 to hold your wedding in their church if you've been members for less than a year, but since we have been parishioners for over two years now, it would only cost us $500.  But when I spoke with the Priest, he told me that I should find the church nearest to our new house since we are no longer within their parish boundaries.  He told me that he would have considered marrying us if we were regular church-goers, and then continues to explain that since we are civilly married through the Justice of the Peace and have children that he wouldn't do a full mass ceremony for us anyways. And not to mention, "I wouldn't want you to have to drive 20 minutes to get here when there's another church right down the street from you guys", he told me.  "But I don't want you to think I'm turning you away", he kept telling me over the phone.  But that's exactly what I felt like he was doing.  Even though I continued to tell him that the 20 minute drive was no problem at all because we were in that area very often and that I was just more familiar with his church and had been excited about planning my wedding there with them for years, but just hadn't had time with being a full-time student and full-time mother of two. To my disappointment, he held his ground and tried to tell me that he preferred for me to find "our" church.

While I somewhat understood where he was coming from, I couldn't believe that he was pretty much refusing to marry me in what I considered "my" church.  I got off the phone in tears, feeling almost embarrassed.  I felt like he had judged me for having children out of wedlock and then doing what we felt was right, by getting married according to law before our second child was born.  It's one thing to feel judged by everyday people when I'm out with my kids at the store or even try to attend mass with a baby, and they stare and make comments that I look like I'm way too young to have a child, much-less two children.  I am 25 years old, which is a bit young, but that was my choice and it doesn't affect anyone but me.  Most people grow up wanting to be a doctor or a teacher, well I wanted to be a mom!  I guess I've learned to just expect those judgmental looks and comments from bystanders, but I never expected to be judged by a man of God, a Priest of all people.  Isn't one of their jobs as a priest to teach us not to judge others... for only God can judge us when he comes back on Judgment Day.  I'm not a super religious person or anything, but I just found it a bit hypocritical.  I don't think it was about whether we were within their parish boundaries or not.  I know plenty of people who have gotten married at Catholic Churches that weren't even within their state, much-less their parish boundaries. But this Priest didn't even give me the option.

Luckily, my "future" mother-in-law took me to her parish last week to speak to them about having a wedding with them and they had absolutely no problem since she and her husband have been parishioners there for years. Within five minutes of walking in the door, they had us filling out papers for both our new son's baptism (which the other church also 'preferred' not to do) and our wedding and they told us that the Priest would call as soon as he got a chance.  I left feeling relieved and so excited that I would finally be able to have my big Catholic wedding ceremony that I've always dreamed of.  And in less than an hour's time, Father called us and arranged a meeting for the next week to come in, meet him, set a date and get the ball rolling!  It's now the night before we get to meet with him and I am happier than ever! I know God works in mysterious ways and maybe there is a reason for things to work out this way.  Now that I think about it, I wouldn't even want to get married at our old parish. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

3 Must-haves for Breastfeeding Moms!

As a mother of two, I have tried numerous products out on the market today that claim to be "must-haves" for the breastfeeding mother.  Of those numerous products, I have found only a handful to be what I'd consider "MUST-haves".  So here they are:

1.  An electric breast pump (preferably one that comes with two separate pumps to save you time): The First Years miPump Double Electric Breast Pump
The pump that I use now, for my second child, is a  that you can find at Amazon for about $70.  Very affordable, works great for me and it has 4 different suction levels that you can control, it's much quieter than the Medela single electric pump I used with my first child and I love that I can throw 4 AA batteries in it and it's wireless, enabling me to pump wherever and whenever I want.  I am a stay-at-home mom, so I only use it once or twice a day, but I can usually get about 5-6 oz's total each time I pump.  It even comes with a nice bag that you can carry it in for the office, a trip, or you can even just use it to store your pump in it while your not using it.  While I'm sure there are other pumps that may work better or be more high-end, they will also cost you double or even triple the price of this one.

2.  I wish I had invested in one of these babies a few months ago, but I just recently found it at target! I couldn't find it on their website, but I found the same thing on Amazon for $28.  It's a Simple Wishes Hands-Free Breastpump Bra, XS/S/M  I absolutely LOVE it because I can throw it on in the mornings (or whenever you pump), insert the pump suction cups and run around the kitchen to make my 2-year-old breakfast and put on my pot of decaffeinated coffee, all while pumping!  I think this helps me to get the most possible milk pumped too, because instead of impatiently sitting there holding these awkward pumps on your breasts while the baby screams in the background, you forget you even have it on there.  Next thing you know, you look down and 'TA DA', you've got yourself a few ounces of milk, and you were able to make your other kid breakfast, get your cup of coffee or maybe even send out that important email.

3. While I still use the absorbent breast pads that go in your nursing bra, I found this Lily Padz Starter Kit.  They are thin, non-absorbent, silicone breast shields that actually keep your breasts from leaking. I love to wear them at night since I hate sleeping in a bra of any kind, and they are great for the summertime when you want to rock the bathing suit, but don't want to wear those obvious pads that would completely get soaked if you decided to take a quick dip in the pool.  You just have to make sure to clean them pretty often because sometimes they can attract lint or fuzz from your clothing.

So these are probably my 3 favorite breastfeeding products and they are all pretty affordable! Feel free to comment and leave us your breastfeeding "must-haves" that I haven't mentioned here!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Important Advice for First Time or Soon-to-be Parents

This blog post is in response to a writing prompt at SocialMoms: "What Two Pieces of Important Advice Would You Share With First Time or Soon-to-be Parents?"
When you come home from the hospital with your first baby, there are a million things that go through your head as a first time parent. "Is my baby eating enough?" "Will swaddling him/her overheat him?" "Which bottles should I use?"  And as if we weren't stressing ourselves out enough, it seems like everyone else has their own input as well.  I remember my mother-in-law repeatedly telling me that when her children were babies, she was told to put them to sleep on their bellies, insinuating that "my way" was wrong.  But today, doctors actually claim that putting babies to sleep on their bellies has been linked to SIDS.  So my first bit of advice to you would be to:

1. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!  Although you are a first time parent and have never done this before, your natural instincts kick in as soon as the baby arrives.  And chances are, you're not completely clueless if you read some of the baby books or online articles to educate yourself a little during the last 9 months.  You may not know all of the answers and in certain cases it may be best to consult your pediatrician, but for the most part, you can go with what you feel is best for your child.  If your baby starts acting different, eating differently or something just doesn't seem right, follow your gut and take them to the doctor.  If a doctor claims the baby is perfectly fine, but you just still feel like something is wrong, don't be afraid to speak up or take your child to someone else for a second opinion.  So when it comes to your child's health, don't hesitate to ask a professional, but just try not to overwhelm yourself with every little thing that you could be doing wrong with your new baby. Chances are, you won't be perfect, you'll make mistakes and sometimes you won't know all the answers, but trust yourself and do your best to provide your baby with a loving, healthy life.

2. CHERISH EVERY MOMENT!!  Everyone tells you how fast the time will fly by with your little one.  One day you're coming home from the hospital with your new baby bundle and before you know it, he's starting his first day of school.  Where did the time go?  You want to cherish each and every moment with your baby because they won't be this small for long.  Take a few minutes of your time each day to sit and rock him/her in your arms, read a book with them, or sing a lullaby.  These are all things that when you look back on, you will be thankful that you took the time out for your baby.  And make sure to take plenty of pictures to document their milestones and the different phases that they go through as they grow.  You'll be surprised at how much their features and personalities will change and develop over such a short period of time.  Chances are... one day you will absolutely love looking back on these cherished moments with your baby.

Need a Creative Baby Shower Gift?

Pregnant? Have a friend whose pregnant? Throwing a baby shower? Stumped on what to give to stand out at the shower? Well, let me just tell you... I have received 2 of these (one at my first baby shower and one for my second child) and they were by far the most creative gifts I received.  Not to mention, it included lots of fun necessities that I am still using to this day with both of my boys!  My good friend, Jami, recently got into making these GORGEOUS & ADORABLE Diaper Cakes!  They are great as gifts, but it's also great if you want a cute centerpiece to display at your own baby shower!  And once your baby is out and ready to use up some of those diapers, you have enough to last you quite a while (saving your mama-to-be lots of $ because we know how expensive diapers can get).  And the most fun part of it all is that you can tell her what sort of theme you want and she can arrange it to match the baby's nursery, or whatever theme you want.  The pricing all depends on the size of the "cake", how many baby products you want to include in the cake, how much time in advance she gets, etc.  While it may not look like a whole lot is included, there are tons of goodies (baby shampoos, lotions, vaseline, washcloths, and what-not hidden in the center of the cake.  This is something you have complete control over though.  Whether you want to spend $40 or $200, it's completely up to you!  If this is something you're interested in hearing more about, feel free to contact Jami Perkins at  Shoot her a quick email and let her know that you found out about her through Crystal!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An educational ABC's video for Kids! With Tutorial to make your own!

This is a creative video that I made for my 2-year-old to learn his ABC's! (And believe me...I am no computer savvy tech mom) He absolutely LOVES it and has almost learned his whole alphabet now! The best part is... if you have a lap top with Windows Movie Maker, you and your kids could make your very own ABC video as well!  It really wasn't hard at all! 

Video Tutorial:
This is really all it took to make this video:

1. Google some images or use your own pictures from your computer for each letter (I tried to use at least 3-5 different pictures for each letter)

2. Save each googled image to a *New folder (name it ABC video or something to make it easier to find)

3. Open your Windows Movie Maker, click Add Photos/Videos at the top of your screen (far left), find your folder, select your images and open.  It automatically will lay them out for you, and a secret that will make your life so much easier... when you're saving your pictures, name the pictures just as they are (if it's a picture of an apple, Save As: Apple)  That way, your pictures will already all be in order and you won't have re-arrange them.   There is even a button at the top that says AUTOMOVIE, which if you push, the program automatically throws in the transitions for you, and enables you to easily add your title, captions, etc in there.

4. Add your voice narration.  I just started playing the video, opened my sound recorder (go to Start-All Programs-Accessories-Sound recorder)  Save your voice-over somewhere you will remember how to find it and then go back to your Movie Maker program, open project, find your audio file and add it right into your video. 

5. If you have a laptop with a disk reader, then chances are, you can pop in a DVD-R (recordable) and burn the video onto a disk so that you can play it in a dvd player for your child.

My son loves to just sit and watch it over and over and I don't feel bad about it because it's educational and he's beginning to understand the letters of the alphabet! I asked him the other day what words start with A and he named apple and alligator, then did it with B and he goes BATMAN!!! For a 2-year-old (almost 3) he is doing great just by watching this video! It was fun too, because he helped me make it also.  He sat with me by the computer and helped me pick out the animals and things he wanted to feature on the video.  (hence the Batman, Spiderman and Dora in there)  

  It's not only great for making educational videos for your kids, but it's great for documenting videos of their childhood by making movies you can watch on tv with the whole family, or make a slideshow for your grandpa on his 80th birthday!  I hope you enjoy this ABC's video and feel free to ask me any questions you may have if your interested in learning more about the movie maker program!!  Have a great day! :)

Best Cold Remedies BEFORE the Cold Sets In!

So I woke up this morning with that congested feeling in my sinuses, a slight soreness in my throat and a splitting headache (like the ones you get when you wake up with a hangover, only I didn't drink anything last night).  As a stay-at-home mother of two little ones, I can't afford a "sick day".  So when you catch even the slightest symptoms of a cold setting in, start treating them immediately to prevent it from worsening over the next few days.
First and foremost, I take one of those zinc lozenges that you can buy at any pharmacy. The ones I use are called "Cold-Eeze", which cost you about $7 for a bag of 18, but you can usually find a generic brand of the same thing for even less. My father has sworn by these for the past 5 years or so and has turned me on to them. Zinc has an antioxidant effect and can help protect the body from infections.  I take one of these about ever 4 hours during the day.  They have somewhat of a metallic taste to them because of the zinc, but they really aren't bad.  Not to mention, they come in a variety of different flavors and only take a few minutes to completely dissolve in your mouth, so it's totally worth it.
Another remedy that I like, which is more of a natural remedy, is hot tea and honey! Just like your grandma used to tell you!  Tea works wonders for me, not to mention I love the taste and the warmth on my throat.  It seems to soothe any itchy or scratchy feeling in my throat immediately.  And according to Jeffrey Blumber, Ph.D., F.A.C.N, Chief of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the Jean Mayber USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, studies reveal that the antioxidants in tea may also inhibit the growth of cancer cells and suppor cardiovascular health as well (  
While there are so many different teas to choose from, my personal favorite is the TAZO-Calm, which has a "comforting blend of chamomile, rose petals and other soothing herbs".  It actually has a slight apple taste to it  and comes in both caffeinated and non-caffeinated.  Just stir in a teaspoon of honey and ta-da!!  Instant cold remedy and delicious, hot tea!
My next suggestion is lots of VITAMIN C!  While I like to take a daily vitamin, it also can't hurt to take a separate vitamin C daily to not only help you get over your cold quicker, but it can also be used to prevent a cold if taken every day.  If you aren't a fan of swallowing big pills or hate the taste of the chewable vitamins, I'd suggest the Emergen-C packs that you can add to a glass of water.  I like the taste too!  Each packet contains 1,000mg of Vitamin C!  Click here to try Free Samples !
And most importantly, don't forget to HYDRATE!!!  Drink lots of water!!!  Make sure you're getting your 8 glasses a day because this can make a big difference in your health.  Especially if you have a cold, water can help provide you with transporting nutrients throughout your body, while flushing out toxins along the way.  Drinking the daily recommended water can also help with headaches, which are usually caused by an increased amount of toxins in the body.  And if you're like me and find it hard to drink that much water a day, I found these flavored waters by Dasani! They come in raspberry, grape, strawberry and lemon and are made with splenda sweetners so they have 0 calories and 0 carbs and taste great!! 

So these are just a few natural cold remedies that I hope you guys find helpful!!  Feel free to comment and give us your favorite remedies of choice! 

Take care and stay healthy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Are We Teaching Little Girls?

Okay, so I saw this video on youtube the other day and instantly had a rush of mixed emotions about it.  Since I come from a cheerleading/gymnastics background myself, the outfits weren't as big of a shocker as they may be to most people at first glance.  My little sister wore a similar cheerleading outfit at a much younger age and I thought it was adorable.  But as I continued to watch this video, the little girls began moving their hips and shaking their little buns in ways that I can't even do at age 25 (and I was a cheerleader at Virginia Tech for 3 years).  

While these little girls are extremely talented dancers who show tremendous skill and technique throughout their routine, I just find many of the moves a bit provocative for their age group.  What are we teaching these little girls at such a young age?  And as I mentioned before, the outfits weren't an issue at all for me in the beginning, but I think once some of these dance moves are executed in the little short skirt and the bra-sized tops, it gives the whole outfit more of a scandalous look and less of a dance attire look.  Now if these girls were over 18 years old, I would just assume they were the next Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and wouldn't think twice about it.  

What about their parents?  What are they teaching their little girls by getting them all dressed up (or lack thereof), covered in make-up, fake tans and cheering them on while they thrust their hips in the air and toward their fellow dancers on a stage in front of hundreds of people.  And now the video has been viewed over a million times on youtube, and I guarantee not all of those views were from people who would be considered appropriate, according to these children's parents.  With the number of pedophiles on the internet and people with bad intentions, this video is almost asking for the wrong kind of attention.

I was just curious on what other people's thoughts on this video were.  Am I overreacting?