Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall Y'all Bloggy Giveaway: Christmas Ornaments and Chocolate

Each year at Christmas, every person in our family gets a Christmas ornament. It usually reflects the persons hobbies, style, or is a reminder of somewhere we've travelled or lived. It's become a big tradition and now we are always on the lookout for the perfect ornament that year for each person and we have found a lot of great places for ornaments. I thought it would be fun to include TWO of the lovely bloggers out there in this family tradition. Once we get in touch, I'll ask you about what you want... hobbies, colors, or a certain style. I'll take it from there and find you a really neat ornament (or maybe a few, depending on price)!

And because I love chocolate, I'll include our other family tradition as well- Fra.ngo Mints. If you know what these are, then you know how great they are. If you don't know about this heaven on earth, just picture a Yo.rk peppermint patty, only like a million times better (and I love Yo.rk, so you Fran.go are darn good). I don't know what size box yet, but probably small unless they are on sale. They are a Christmas tradition simply because we only allow them in our house once a year. If not, we'd be on constant sugar rush.

When you comment below, please just give me your blog address (if it doesn't already link there) or an email address so I can contact you. This is open to anyone. Comments will close on Saturday, November 3rd at noon and I'll pick the TWO winners randomly by Sunday, November 4th at noon.

UPDATE... Comments are now closed. I'll get back to you with the winners tomorrow!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

10-20-30

I've been tagged by both Carrie and Cheri (thanks girls!) for this meme that asks... What were you doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago?

10 years ago I was a freshman in college and I loved it. I loved dorm life, the campus, and was getting ready to join a wonderful group- Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. I was a music major, but didn't care too much for classical music at this point. I really loved Third Eye Blind and Dave Matthews band and was finally recovering from my "grunge phase" in high school. I probably saw my future husband many times that fall, but didn't meet him officially until over a year later and didn't become his girlfriend until two years later. This is a picture of me with a little boy that I babysat, who ended up being in my wedding as a junior usher- his little sister was the flower girl. (Notice the tan/skin damage that I mentioned in this post, but oh man was I skinny! At the time I thought I could lose a few pounds, but 10 years later and post-baby, I would LOOOVE to be this weight!)


20 years ago I was eight years old and growing up in a small town in North Carolina. I had never moved at this point and has no idea the adventures I would have even the next 10 years, moving a few different times and making many new friends along the way. I was in a combination class of 3rd graders like myself, with 2nd graders as well. The teacher was the one I had wanted in 2nd grade, so I was thrilled (but my 2nd grade teacher was also wonderful). I loved math, singing, playing piano, ice skating, and softball. I've performed in over 10 musicals, but my first was this year- I starred as "Little Red Riding Hood". This is a picture of my brother and I on Christmas morning.

And if you're good at math, you'd already know that 30 years ago I hadn't even been born yet. My husband would've been born just a few months ago.
I tag Jacquie and Kelli, both haven't left comments in awhile, but I'd love to hear from them!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ingredients for a Fun Weekend!

First, my Dad's Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins came to Chicago to see us today! I'm so excited to have them here. One cousin is married and has two kids so we are planning a fun outing in the city tomorrow. The American Girl Store is one of the things on our list. This weekend, we also hope to visit the Zoo, go to a Halloween Dinner with a Hayride, and watch football in front of the fireplace with our bowls of my Mom's homemade white chili. (I'll try to get the recipe out there for those who'd like to try it.)
I saw the endodontist today, who said my tooth is fine and I don't need a root canal. I can enjoy my weekend instead of worrying about some scary procedure on Monday.
B is coming tomorrow and Love Bug and I can't wait to see him! He is also bringing our laptop so I can add some pictures to my sad little blog, since my card doesn't fit in my Mom's digital reader.
And finally, Carrie tagged me for a fun meme... I'll do that this weekend. I've never been tagged before and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Realizing My Mistakes

I got a facial today and it was just wonderful. I'm really trying to use good, but inexpensive products to repair the all the sun damage to my skin, especially on my face. The facial was a nice treat to tie this new regiment together. I've been doing this for almost a year. My husband and friends are impressed to see that I've consistently used my morning cleanser, lotion with SPF, and eye cream every day. I even use a night cream most evenings and a DNA repairing mask once a week.
I was a swimmer most of my life, and would pretty much spent the rest of my day after swim practice, at the pool. Combine that with years I spent as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and pool manager and you have a recipe for skin cancer. I have realized that even though I used sunscreen and used the umbrella on the lifeguard stand, I really didn't do enough and you are just started to see the effects on my skin. This last year I've been obsessed with putting sunscreen on Love Bug, even for short walks. Finally when she was about a month old, I thought, "Hey! What about my skin?" And there my new obsession was born. I'm trying to apply all the health and safety rules to my life, that I would automatically apply to Love Bug's in the quest to be the best mother I could be.

This is my progress so far...

Good things we were already doing...

1. We already used seat belts, helmets, and looked before crossing the street. We're big on safety, so no need to change that.

2. We also get physicals every year, teeth cleanings twice a year, and eye exams every few years. If there are any problems or other tests needed, we get follow ups regularly. Our shots are up to date.

3. Our final gold star is for lifestyle. We avoid smoke, and drink very moderately.

Some things I've changed this year...

4. Skin care- Using SPF on everyone in our family, even in the winter, and using repairing products on myself for the sun damage I have.

5. TV watching- My pediatrician in France recommended from the beginning that Love Bug not watch any TV until she is 2 years old. Sure enough, the American Academy of Pediatrics Book agreed so I instituted a no TV rule. Amazingly, I found that I got more done than I did even before I had a baby, found more creative things to occupy Love Bug, and we discovered some great new music, because we listened to the radio or CDs at least half of the day! Most of my friends still think I'm crazy, but check out this article about Baby Ein.stein videos and maybe you'll be convinced too. Only watching TV a few hours a week has changed my life.

Next are the things that I'm in the process of changing, but haven't quite accomplished yet...

6. Prayer- We are working to make prayer a family habit. I pray individually, as does my husband, but we need to pray at meals, at family activities, and make it a part of our day.

7. Healthy Eating- Love Bug eats wonderfully. Myself and B... not as well, but we're working on it. We have actually cut out soda and all sugary candy already. We still indulge in desserts and processed foods, but at a much lower frequency. It must be working because I've slowly lost about 10 pounds from extra 30 I was carrying after having Love Bug. (Yes, I gained 50 pounds... it's awful!) Our plan is to continue to cut these foods out, eat fresh foods, and drink more water.

8. Exercise- My husband runs, but I need to do more. I take walks, but we used to play tennis, rollerblade, and ski together a lot. We need to start making these things a habit again, because I want our kids to see exercise as a positive constant in our household and something fun we do as a family.

Where I'm not doing so well...

9. Sleep- I do not get enough sleep. Neither does my husband. I try and nap with Love Bug, but that's just to catch up on sleep we missed the night before. I need to come up with a plan and commit to getting better sleep.

So, that's where we stand. I had this as a list in my calendar, but wanted to share it with you. Hopefully I can keep you up to date on our progress... "as parents, changing our lives for the better, as we discover ways to raise our children well".

Monday, October 22, 2007

Finally feeling better!

I ended up going to the ER for my post-pneum.ovax problems. I was still feeling pretty tired and my arm was red, burning hot, and swollen in one huge area. I was worried that it was some kind of infection, but (after 3 hours) the ER staff concluded that it was just a really bad reaction. I was given anti-histamines and told to rest. I really laughed when they said that... what Mom can ever rest? Especially with a husband away on business, staying in an unfamiliar house in a country I haven't lived in for 4 years, and a Mom who is working or playing paddle or having appointments, meetings, or church activities constantly? Yeah, I'm not getting much rest these days!
In other news, I went to see the dentist. I don't know what my dentist in Paris saw, but they don't see any of the gum disease problems he saw, just some gingivitis. They gave me some toothpaste and a special gum massager and sent me on my way. I need to have two fillings fixed in the next two weeks, which should be no big deal. They are also sending me to an endodontist just to "check" on a tooth that they feel has some suspicious activity under the deep fillings. I'm hoping I don't need a root canal, but if I do, at least I've had one before. They aren't that bad really and I hope it all goes well. Even if I need treatment, at least I know now before I leave for Rome and try to get pregnant again. My Mom keeps reassuring me that the dentist is just very cautious and she's been referred to the endodontist herself and had nothing wrong in the end.
We're surviving otherwise and trying to make the most of our time here, although I feel so busy and tired of all this medical stuff. I'm going to save my visit to the eye doctor and getting new glasses for our visit to B's parents in Ohio.
I'll be back soon... I promise. I'm a bad blogger, going a week between posts!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ouch, ouch... double ouch!

I had a flu shot yesterday at the pharmacy and decided to get the pneumonia vaccine as well. They were offering it and since I'm very prone to pneumonia and was told I should get one, I went ahead. Big mistake.
I knew the side effects could be pretty bad, but this is ridiculous. I've had a fever of over 100 for about 24 hours (it does go down with Tylenol fortunately) and just a general unwell feeling, like I'm getting a bad cold. And my arm... oh, it's a mess! The spot where I had the injection has a nice red, hot bump. It's really sore, but I can finally lift it today.
I'm just really surprised because I've never had a problem with vaccines before. I'm hoping by tomorrow I'm feeling a whole lot better.
In other news, I decided not to ween Love Bug. I go see the dentist next week or the week after and I'll talk to him about options then. I don't want to ween her and I don't think either of us are ready, so I see no reason to do so. Hopefully, if I need surgery, it will be easy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Trying to ween?

So, I think I explained in my last post that I was told after my pregnancy, that these two small pockets of gum disease I had, have progressed to the stage where a dentist would refer you to a periodontist for some possible procedure, etc. They're right on the borderline of what a dentist could treat, but my dentist in France thought I'd be better off with a periodontist. I decided to have the work done here because my husband had such a bad experience getting his wisdom teeth removed and I have no wish to live through that myself.
Well, I ran into a friend of my Mom's, who is a dentist. I mentioned this in passing and she said she'd be happy to give me her opinion if I could tell her more about my case. So we spoke and she said I'd be a great candidate for this antibiotic that they put right into the infected areas. Your body absorbs the medicine and in theory, it should stop the gum disease and actually reduce the size of the infected area, making it treatable. Sounds great, huh?
Well, I wanted to know more about this antibiotic, so I went online to consult Dr. Google. And wouldn't you know it... you can't use it when breastfeeding! I was so bummed and thought oh, well... so much for a simple cure and possibly avoiding surgery. My Mom's friend didn't even think to ask, because most people assume you're done nursing by the time your baby is 11 months old.
I was relaying my disappointment to a friend. She looked at me like I was stupid and she told me to just start weening right away. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy, if not impossible? I'd have to ween her completely in just a week or two because they'd have to do it soon so they could follow up once or twice before I leave after Christmas. You can't nurse at all with this medicine, so I couldn't even leave a feed or two. It's not a guarantee and sometimes doesn't work, so I may still need surgery in another month anyway, even if I tried it. I don't really want to stop nursing Love Bug anyway and I planned to start weening in a few weeks when she turns one, but I was thinking it would be a gradual process. I thought it could take a few months, from what other Moms have said. I've heard of mothers who have had to ween overnight, or within a week, but that was women who were diagnosed with cancer and needed major surgery or treatment... not two small pockets of gum disease! It just seems unfair to Love Bug too and will be yet another upheaval in her already crazy life.
Isn't it a bit ridiculous to try to ween in just a few weeks for something that my not even work? Should I just continue with my plan to try to ween her gradually over a few months once she turns one? Or am I being a "nursing" martyr? The surgery/procedure, although minor (I'd be awake), will still be expensive, probably more so than the medicine. What do you all think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Long time, no blog

I'm here! We've been travelling across country the past few days and are finally feeling settled at my Mom's. B is staying behind in DC to finish preparing for our new post in Rome, but I've come out to the Chicago area to stay with my Mom. We just thought it would be better for Love Bug to have a more stable environment. The hotel was cramped and didn't give her enough room to play. Now she has her own room with a crib, changing table, toys, and clothes all put away in the closet... it's great. I love having a nice house to roam around in with sidewalks and parks down the street. It's so much fun to live a normal life for awhile.
The last two weeks in DC were pretty good, despite living out of a suitcase. We all had physicals, got shots, and have a just a few more "medical" things to line up. I need to go to the eye doctor and get new glasses- and maybe even prescription sunglasses if my regular glasses don't need to be replaced. I also need a cleaning at the dentist and have two pockets of gum disease that need minor surgery. They had told me about them before I had Love Bug, but apparently they got much worse during the pregnancy. Ah... the joys of motherhood. At least I didn't get a few new cavities like so many other friends did during their pregnancies.
We also checked on our house, since we still own one outside Annapolis and it's being rented out. We had the doors replaced because they were starting to rot and put storm doors on to prevent that from happening again. We also got the deck power washed and stained. We drove by last week and it looks really good. The management company has said that he keeps it really nice inside. Good to hear that!
Other than that, we just have some financial stuff to handle. Checking in on all our insurance policies and investments is important. Some changes have to be signed on, which is much easier while we're back in the US. I do need help with two aspects of our financial planning. We need to start a 529 plan or some other college savings plan for Love Bug. Anyone enrolled in one they really like? We're thinking about Virginia. Also, we need to re-evaluate the groups we regularly donate money to each year. We mainly give money to our church right now, but most of that goes to running the parish. I also do Chemo Angels and the usual donations of clothes/food to different groups. Does anyone have a cause that is easy to give to and very worthwhile?
Hope you can help with both those things... and I'll work at catching up on Google reader. I can't wait to hear what you've all been up to!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Works-For-Me-Wednesday Backwards: Using a Cup & Recommended Shoes

Instead of giving advice, we can ask for some... I love it! My daughter is almost 11 months old, so I wanted to get a little advice while I can!

Using a Cup

My daughter is still breastfeeding and we'll probably keep doing this for at least a few more months. I hope to get her to use a sippy cup at some point, but she just wants to chew on it right now. Love Bug is really attached to breastfeeding, so I probably won't rush her to stop. At what point did most people start trying to use a regular cup? Has anyone gone straight from the breast to the cup? We're not afraid of spills... it's how they learn.


Shoes

Love Bug just took her first steps, so I'm guessing that she'll soon be running around the house at full speed. This means that she'll need shoes when we go outside or to a place with a public, dirty floor. I know everyone loves Rob.eez (I do too) but they can get expensive. What other types of shoes work best when they have to walk around outside or in a public place?


Thanks for any help you can offer! Want to help someone else? Stop by Works-For-Me-Wednesday, hosted by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.

Monday, October 1, 2007

100 Things About Me

Here we go... in no particular order:

1. My name, my husband's, and my daughter's all REALLY start with A, B, and C.

2. My favorite color is lavender.

3. My wedding colors were lavender and peach.

4. We took a trolley from the church to the reception (my husband's very cool idea).

5. I hate to cook.

6. I love to clean.

7. I'm the most organized person I know.

8. I love to make to-do lists, shopping lists... or whatever kind of list I need.

9. I had a detailed inventory and chart to keep our last two moves organized.

10. My exception to hating cooking, is baking- I love it.

11. I have had more time to bake since my daughter was born.

12. This is probably why I still have 20 pregnancy pounds to lose, plus a few from before!

13. I was very upset when my doctor said I needed a c-section.

14. I hate moths.

15. I think I would rather be stung by a bee than have a moth land on me.

16. My favorite season is fall.

17. My favorite holidays are Christmas and 4th of July, tied (okay... maybe Christmas is slightly ahead).

18. I love bonfires, fires in fireplaces, and candles.

19. I love s'mores and hot chocolate too.

20. I collect Nutcrackers or anything Nutcracker ballet themed.

21. My favorite flower is the Gerbera Daisy.

22. I had a beautiful flower box garden on my balcony in Paris, France.

23. We lived in Paris the last four years, up until just a few weeks ago.

24. We are moving to Rome, Italy just after Christmas this year.

25. I broke my thumb when I was little, because I fell off the bed when I was jumping on it.

26. I sprained my ankle really badly playing volleyball in high school.

27. Doctors still notice how weak that ankle is whenever I get a physical.

28. I got a varsity letter my freshman year of high school for swimming.

29. I was a lifeguard and swim instructor for four summers.

30. The two years after, I was promoted to pool manager.

31. My first job out of college was a choir director/vocal music teacher at an arts school for grades kindergarten to eighth grade.

32. My major in college was vocal music education.

33. The last two years of college I lived with music majors.

34. I also played in the steel drum band for one semester and loved it.

35. I took art classes in high school and wanted to be an architect before I realised that music was where I belonged.

36. Besides art and music, my favorite subject in high school was math.

37. I especially loved geometry and loved proofs.

38. My mom was a math teacher.

39. My dad was a football coach.

40. I only wear a little mascara and lipstick.

41. I love jewelry and wear it when I remember.

42. Most of my clothes are from Anne Taylor and Talbot's, but I've bought almost everything form the clearance racks!

43. I don't really like the smell of lavender.

44. My favorite scent is lemon verbena (kind of a lemon flowery smell).

45. I love hand soaps and room sprays from Bath and Body Works, but only food smells, like peach, pear, and fig.

46. I switch to caramel or spice/cinnamon smells in the holiday months.

47. My favorite food is Mexican, but I also love Indian- both spicy!

48. I don't like raw seafood (oysters, etc), zucchini, or honeydew melon.

49. I was born in North Carolina.

50. I grew up in mostly small towns and spent 7 years of my childhood in a small college town.

51. I hate cell phones and only borrow my husband's occasionally.

52. I love to read and often read books in one day before my daughter was born.

53. I only watch TV a few nights a week.

54. Most of the time, I listen to music or just enjoy a quiet house.

55. I met Michael Jordan when I was little.

56. I've ridden in a pace car at the Daytona 500.

57. My favorite sport is football.

58. I fly a lot for convenience, but get really nervous every single time I fly.

59. I love roller coasters and don't have a fear of heights.

60. I have an organized file for birthday cards and buy them a few years in advance.

61. We send out about 100 Christmas cards every year.

62. The first year we were married, we made the cards together.

63. We usually send a picture and put a short, hand-written note in our Christmas cards.

64. I love pictures and have them all over my house, including a whole gallery in the main hallway (hopefully we'll have a main hallway in our new house).

65. I love dogs, but don't particularly like cats.

66. I love the rain, but hate going out in it.

67. I always wanted my kids to be born in November or December- my daughter was born in November.

68. I was a figure skater for 8 years. I quit right before high school so I could do other sports and activities.

69. I played piano growing up, as did my Mom (a little), my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. I'm told my great-grandmother was very good.

70. I have a hereditary fast heart beat.

71. But I have really low cholesterol.

72. And low blood pressure.

73. I have terrible teeth, and have had 3 root canals.

74. This happened even though I brush twice and floss everyday.

75. My husband never flosses and only brushes in the morning, but has only had 1 cavity.

76. I hope our daughter and all future children get his teeth.

77. My favorite US cities are Boston, MA and San Antonio, TX, but I have never lived in either.

78. I want to visit the Grand Canyon someday (it's number one one my travel list... yes, I have a Places to Travel List.

79. My feet aren't ticklish.

80. I've only gotten stitches during surgeries.

81. I had an open-lung biopsy in 1998, to diagnose Wegener's Granulomatosis.

82. Fortunately, I had no kidney complications, which are common with the disease.

83. I am very blessed that, according to doctors, I won't have a recurrence of the disease.

84. I actually don't like talking about it, since I feel that sad chapter in my life is over.

85. I'm very impatient, except when working with kids.

86. When I was little, I had an imaginary friend named Binny.

87. My brother and I are exactly 3 years apart (I'm older)... we were both born on January 24th.

88. I love doing sudokus.

89. My favorite comic is "Get Fuzzy".

90. One of my favorite TV shows of all time is "The Golden Girls".

91. I have had short hair almost my whole life.

92. I have glasses, but only wear them for driving (I should wear them all the time).

93. I wanted a boy first, but now realise that my daughter was meant for me.

94. I stay in bed in the morning and bring her in to cuddle with me.

95. We tried for almost 2 years to get pregnant.

96. I pray to God and thank him for bringing me Love Bug many times a day.

97. I love to laugh and can already see how happy Love Bug is and how much she laughs.

98. The movies I watch are usually comedy.

99. My husband and I have a little private joke that we say to each other. When we're fighting, it makes us stop!

100. My husband and I still laugh about the little things every day.