Tuesday, June 30, 2009

End of the Journey

For the entire month of June I have been using Twitter to micro-blog my mommy adventures and competing against 29 other very cool moms for a grand prize! To start the Sling and Swaddle adventure Hotslings supplied us each with our very own baby carrier and Miracle Blanket gave us two swaddling blankets. In return, we were to be tweeting and blogging about our experiences day to day with our newborns! I had never used Twitter before and wasn't sure how it worked. It was a little confusing and overwhelming to figure out how it works but now that I use it... I kind of like it... well okay Love it sometimes. :) I have been trying to keep up with my tweets and occasionally posting info. on this blog for the contest. Hopefully you all have enjoyed the information that I shared! I know at least the family loves seeing any new pics of the kids. I realized I have more pictures with Charlotte and I together than I do of Luke and I when he was a newborn and mostly that is because of this contest! So that's a great gift for us in the future. I also was just dipping my toes into the babywearing pool when I bought my Sleepywrap carrier. Now that I also have a Hotslings carrier and have been tweeting with other moms, there are several styles of carriers that I would love to try out! Seasoned babywearers say you can never have too many types! I find that when I am wearing Charlotte, her head is up close to me so I naturally talk with her while I am walking around and describe what we are doing. Great for speech and language development! She gets a good view of the world around her instead of being stuck in the carseat stroller...which by the way she usually hates to ride in! If I try to just carry Charlotte while I go in a store or play outside with Luke, I notice how quickly my back starts aching. The difference is amazing! Wearing her in the Hotsling allows her to be comforted and feel close to me while I am able to tend to Luke, clean, or shop! I love having two free hands when it gets busy around here. Babywearing is beneficial for baby, convenient for mom, and Hotslings makes it fashionable.

I definately have also seen the benefits of swaddling your baby. Dr. Harvey Karp lists it as one of the 5 S's for infant sleep solutions! http://www.colichelp.com/shop/happiestbabyontheblock.html
I never had any luck with the swaddling blankets that use velcro that you can buy at Target or Babies R Us. They never stayed tight and the velcro was loud enough to disturb the baby. The Miracle Blanket did look complicated at first when we got one for Luke, but once you get used to it, it literally goes on in seconds. Charlotte is still wearing hers and she has yet to wiggle any body parts out of it. I think I mentioned before that I love how it stays in place and I don't have to worry about blankets or covers coming up around her mouth. That takes a huge worry off of me at night when we go to sleep. Our little girl has spent all but one night at home swaddled in her Miracle Blankets. :)

I was a little skeptical of this Twitter journey at first but it has ended up being very fun. I have met so many great moms from all over the place that love to laugh, share, support, and offer advice on any subject! It's a great way to connect and not feel so isolated if you are a mom facing the day to day challenges with your kids. The hardest part is fitting what you want to say in 140 characters or less each time! Since we have our computer on most of the day, it has been fun to type a little message quickly as I walk through the dining room or check what other's have tweeted! I will be tweeting as Shera_Mama from now on, but probably not as often as I have been (JW will be glad for that! haha) I'm thankful to have met my new Twitter friends including the Sling and Swaddle mamas and hope to stay in touch as our babies are all close in age! This contest has offered a lot of new experiences and created some great connections! Thanks Hotslings and MiracleBlanket and all the sponsors!

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Babies Don't Keep"

Babies Don't Keep

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

- Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

How time flies. I love this poem because it reminds me of what is truly important in day to day life. I don't want to spend all my time cleaning and stressing about what to make for dinner. I want to live in the moment and enjoy my children while they are young and still WANT to be around me! Trying to enjoy each minute with these two! :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Thursday we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Hard to believe huh? We were so young... and now we are so old! Ha! Most of you already know that JW and I met on the internet back in 1998. He lived in Holland at the time and we were fortunate enough to be able to meet each other in person several times and then married in 2001. Since we had to wait on a fiancee' visa, then had 3 months for him to move to the U.S., and then 3 months to get married it would have been hard to plan a wedding! We decided to combine a wedding and honeymoon and go it alone. I was still an undergrad at the time and JW did not have a job lined up in the U.S. so we had to save what little money we had to our names. With help from in-laws we bought flight and hotel package and that was it! We flew to Oahu 3 days after J.W. arrived from Holland (talk about jet lag!). I think the ceremony, including flowers, minister, and photographer cost $50.00. I got my dress for $15.00 and his outfit at Old Navy. We rented a car just one day in Hawaii and that was to drive to the beach we were to be married. Lucky for us it was beautiful and isolated with no one around. We had arrived early since we didn't know exactly where we were driving and had fun taking pictures of each other and got sunburned before the minister even arrived. The ceremony was great although I couldn't stop laughing that the minister called Janwillem "Jan" with an English J sound instead of the dutch Y. Things were said in Hawaiian that we had no idea what they meant- could have been calling us stupid tourists for all we know but hey it was romantic! For us, it was perfect. We longed to be together and there we finally managed to pull it off.

Anyways, as I look back at that day it seems sooooooooooo long ago. Who would have imagined we would live where we live and be lucky enough to have two beautiful children and still have each other. We take it for granted a lot. We try not to bicker over silly things. We try to cooperate to make a happy place for a family to grow and thrive... but marriage is hard sometimes (I don't think anyone would disagree with that statement!). Sometimes I wish it was as easy and simple as it was back then and sometimes I don't. We have wonderful memories of the last 8 years...or as JW put it last month (sarcastically- mind you) "8 GLORIOUS Years!" with a smarmy smile that made us both bust out laughing. I still appreciate having him in my life (even if I forget to show it sometimes) and he is a good daddy to Luke and Charlotte. Let's hope we do what we promised to do and stick together forever!

**Geez did we need tans or what!!!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Still Hotsling-ing it!

I've been using the Hotslings baby carrier all this month as part of my Sling & Swaddle Journey! I am really grateful to be able to try a sling style carrier and love that the Hotslings come in really beautiful fabrics. I had the hardest time choosing my fabric pattern but that was part of the fun as well! I went with the Kyoto pattern and was a little worried it would be a little too colorful or clash with what I wear but I LOVE IT and have received several compliments on it! At www.hotslings.com you can find slings in solid colors, everyday patterns,reversible patterns, mens patterns, designer patterns, and even "Haute" silk designs. They also sell cute little detatchable pockets that match your sling, nursing tanks, nursing covers, and kids slings (so your child can practice babywearing with his or her own dolls/stuffed animals- too cute!). As you can see from the above pictures, children up to 35 pounds are able to be carried in the hip position. Luke really did enjoy this- he didn't want me to put him down! In the beginning, I wore Charlotte in the cradle carry but now she prefers the front carry so she can look out and see the world from an adult point of view. With two children in the household it has been a lifesaver to have two free hands some days! The SleepyWrap I have shown in other pictures is an extremely long piece of fabric that gets wrapped and tied around your body. Although it is comfortable, all the fabric will make it pretty hot to use in the summer. I also have found the Hotslings to be much easier and quicker for making trips to go out shopping. I just throw it in the diaper bag wherever we go, and it doesn't take up much room in the already packed bag!

If you are thinking of purchasing a sling style carrier I would definately recommend checking their site! www.hotslings.com

Today we went to the beach/park today because it was terribly hot and humid. Luke loved playing in the water and swinging. Charlotte seemed to enjoy the water and we just needed an excuse to put her in the little Nijntje swimsuit and sunhat from Tante Kirsten, Ome Marco, and cousins Luna and Senna! So cute!

Daddy and daughter, aren't they so sweet together????

Daddy's Day Trip

Monday we decided to take our first family road trip in honor of Daddy for Father's Day. I was a little nervous since Charlotte usually doesn't ride very well in the car. We went up to the big Cabela's store and then to the IKEA store up in Michigan. We hadn't really traveled much with the Garmin GPS that JW got for Christmas so that was fun as well. We just went where the lady told us to go! I didn't expect to be going through Ohio on the way up, but that is the way she sent us! The ride up wasn't too bad (about 3 hours if you aren't stopping). I only had to crawl in the backseat once to try to cheer Charlotte up. You would think in an SUV there would be enough space for 2 car seats and a person but really there isn't! I was uncomfortably wedged in between but it was better than listening to crying. She was happy to have someone talk to her and show her things. Luke was busy linking his arm in my bra strap and making me pick something up so that he could just knock it down again (because that's sooooo much fun!). The cutest thing he said on the way up was, "See those popcorns Daddy???" in reference to the corn fields! He is a little cutie, even though he is a stinker at times!

At Cabela's they have a large mountain of stuffed (dead) animals in different scenes. Luke loved looking at all the different scenes. He also loved the freshwater aquariums and the little fish "river" where you could feed trout! You could throw a little pellet of food in and the fish would rush towards it and sometimes jump out of the water to get there first! Daddy had a good time even though Luke got a little restless towards the end. He was ready for a nap.

Luke wouldn't pose with me here but Kathryn says we have the same expression!

After Cabela's we managed to go North about 30 minutes to an IKEA store. We need to get a Wardrobe/closet for our bedroom since we currently don't have any hanging space for clothes. However, as cool as IKEA was, I didn't realize how it was like a giant (pretty) maze! We were a little overwhelmed since Luke was very tired and wanting to run away. Luckily, I had Charlotte in the Hotslings carrier and she was happy the whole time and I had two free hands to get Luke! It ended up being a little too stressful though to make a decision on anything but at least I know what they have and the costs. On the trip home I had to spend the majority of the time wedged between the car seats again. Luke was starting to get psychotic! He blew raspberries for literally 5 minutes straight at one point. JW was like, "Well, he's going to run out of spit eventually!" Then he was yelling "Go Daddy Go Daddy Go Daddy!!" over and over and over again FOR-EV-ER! Then he ended with one "Go Mommy!" which made me laugh. It was a little frustrating because Charlotte was trying to fall asleep but Luke would yell or make a weird noise or something and it would wake her up and she would cry. But eventually we made it back home again. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gone With The Wind! (title courtesy of JW)

5:30 a.m. this morning JW is tapping me on the shoulder... I hear the sump pump alarm beeping to indicate a power outage... he says, Maybe we should get up"... I said "just turn the alarm off"....then loud BANG!... he says, "Get up!" I grabbed Charlotte out of the bassinet (she was swaddled and sleeping soundly in her MiracleBlanket) and ran to Luke's room where I heard him crying as I approached the door. Poor little guy was REALLY scared and stuck in his big boy bed (he still doesn't attempt to go down the little ladder by himself which is nice for Mommy and Daddy!). So I grab him on my other hip- carried both kids back through our bedroom and to the farthest section of the basement. JW was upstairs looking for flashlights and then soon followed us. The wind was howling and rain was pouring. We had no weather radio and I didn't think we could hear the tornado sirens with all the storm noise- it was loud enough that I thought it could have been a tornado. Luke sat on a carpet remnant with his blankie around his shoulders with a very serious expression. I found a chair to sit on and nursed Charlotte while we waited for the storms to pass. It was still dark out, but JW could see that there was a big section of the old willow tree down in our backyard.
The old willow is a ginormous tree that sits on the "empty lot" next door, but it hangs over our yard. Several car sized pieces have fallen off in the past but luckily landed in or close to the water. We were always worried about it falling on us... we had tried to contact the owners of the lot to split the cost of removal or get permission but never received a reply. Plus it's darn expensive to cut down a tree!! Well good news is that the section closest to our bedrooms fell down and did not squish us! woohoo!
Once it started to get light out and the storms passed, we were able to see 3 huge sections of tree that are the length of a pick up truck and several people sized branches piled up all over. JW opened the front door and said something about a tree falling on our cars and I'm like "What?" of course he just continues to walk out the door with his mouth open and doesn't let me know what he saw. A large hickory tree at the top of the hill was uprooted in the wind and fell towards our cars... but by some sort of grace it landed on a sassafrass and a maple tree which braced it's fall. The top of the hickory was touching some power lines and also hanging in mid-air above the neighbors garage (who informed us he has a special mustang in there that doesn't run and has 2 flat tires so he couldn't move it out of harms way...). We heard from the neighbors that the roads were blocked in both directions by trees and power lines. Nipsco eventually trimmed the sections of the tree that were close to the power lines. We had a friend come over and help JW cut the hickory off the roots, yank the suspended part down with a truck, and chainsaw up the pieces. Then Uncle Chad was available and came with his chain saw as well. It took all day to clear that one tree- and it approached 90 degrees today so those boys were sweatin! We still have the mess in the backyard but that will take several days and several large chainsaws to remove. Just what we needed- more yard clean up! The leaves never get raked in the fall and there are so many wild weeds, so this just adds to our wonderful landscaping! There are a couple neighbors who now have nice new skylights in their roofs, thanks to all the wonderful trees around here- so we feel very thankful that no damage was done to our house and no one was hurt.
** Funny sidenote- JW said when the storm was hitting, his first thought was, "I don't want to die in my Budlight pajama pants!" He thought that would be pretty embarrassing to be found in those. Hey- I was at Walmart and he wanted PJ pants and that was the best choice over The Simpsons, Family Guy, or SpongeBob themes... He was on a Budlight kick when I bought them. :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Big Boy Adventure Continues...

Well we are one more step closer to having an official "Big boy" in the house (I will consider granting the official title once I am no longer changing size 5 diapers). Luke got his first big boy bed in his room and so far tonight he appears to be sleeping in it. He was all hyper while Daddy put the bed together and then had great fun climbing up the ladder and in and out of the storage space below. For some reason last year I HAD to have this giant (plastic mind you) Step 2 captain's bed for Luke. Yes, it's made of giant, heavy duty PLASTIC. A guy was selling unopened boxes at a garage sale- apparently he gets them from the stores when people don't want site to store items and then sells them on ebay. Anyways, I got it pretty cheap although now I don't know why I felt like I HAD to have it for him. It is up high and he is sort of contained so that's good for a transitioning bed and the storage underneath will be great too. He was excited to see his sports themed sheets and pillows on the bed too! So far he talked until 10:30 and we only had to go down once and tell him to settle down because he was kicking something. I think he fell asleep now. Woohoo! I hope it's an easy transition!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Slingin' & Swaddlin'

As it has been nice weather outside, Luke wants to be out ALL THE TIME. Who can blame him right? It's not always easy though if JW is busy and Charlotte needs fed or held or whatever. The majority of the times that I have been using my new Hotslings baby carrier have been playing outside in the yard with Luke. I am able to play along with whatever he wants to do and she can peek out and watch or eventually fall asleep. I have also worn it grocery shopping since Charlotte doesn't appreciate being in her car seat for too long. When I needed to clean the house quickly before having guests over, the Hotsling was a lifesaver. It has come in handy when I need to have two free hands to get things done. Luke isn't a kid that just lets you sit in a lawnchair, sip a cold drink, and watch him play. Ohhhh no, you have to be actively involved in whatever he wants to play. If he swings, you need to stand there and there are no "pushing breaks" allowed. If I try to sit and look at a magazine, he brings me a stick and instructs me to fish. I love that he communicates so well and wants to play with me but sometimes mommies want breaks too! At least when I put Charlotte in the carrier he can have my full attention (just like the good ol' days for him I suppose!).
Daddy got home from phsyical therapy and took these pictures for us and let me take a few of him as well. He thought he would be returning to work but the therapists want to do some ladder work/practice and he has too many movement restrictions to return to his normal job. For now they told us it will probably be another month off. I think we both had mixed emotions about that! In one way, it is nice he is home to help, play with the kids, work on house projects. In another way, after 3 months being home all the time together we are getting a little sick of each other. :) I know he misses the routine and commaraderie of the workplace as well. Hopefully we will survive another month.

I also continue to use the Miracle Blanket, although I am starting to wonder how long it will be beneficial for Charlotte to be swaddled. One thing I like about it is that the blanket stays put all night and it doesn't come loose or shift- it stays at her shoulder level (I still freak out about SIDS risks). She is always swaddled in there securely and safely like a little straight jacket! It also keeps babies from being able to scratch themselves at night. Plus I worry that if I don't put her in it she will wake up halfway through the night! Now she sleeps until 6 or 7 and that's really a blessing! I'm not ready to risk giving that up yet! The Miracle Blanket company website was asking for people to post video on YouTube of your baby being swaddled and going from crying to calm. In return they will send you $150.00! Since I do this every night (although she isn't usually crying when I do it) I wanted to try to get it on tape. It took awhile to actually find a night she was fussy and have JW around to tape. Of course, Luke is alongside begging for a book to be read and then for marshmallows... haha but that is real life! Here is the video I posted on YouTube for Miracle Blanket...it works! A doctor recommended the Miracle Blanket to us when Luke was tiny, and I continue to recommend it to expecting friends and new mommies who aren't getting very much sleep! If you already own a Miracle Blanket check out http://www.miracleblanket.com/ for the $150.00 video info!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Let's Go Out To A Movie!

Tonight Luke went to see his first movie. We saw "UP" in 3D (well I saw it in 3D, he didn't keep the glasses on so he saw a sometimes blurry 2D). Nana came along for moral support (and movie popcorn) since we weren't sure how Luke would do sitting and watching a movie for that long! It was fun and he did a good job. It also helped that the movie was super cute and had a great message for adults as well. A few tear-jerker moments for me! We learned that Luke DOES NOT like popcorn and he DOES NOT want to wear dorky 3D glasses like his mom and Nana haha. Halfway through he got a little antsy and climbed on my lap. He was fascinated by the lightning and thunder in one scene and had to repeatedly tell me "thunder..boom boom...splatt splatt" during quieter moments of the show (thanks Dr. Suess and 'The Wonderful Sounds Mr.Brown Can Do!'). He jumped a few times and got caught up in the dramatic parts so I think he got the whole movie experience!

Daddy stayed home with Charlotte and had a great time. She loves the sounds he makes and always smiles and giggles. I love hearing her laugh- it makes her seem so much older! Whenever she hears JW's voice she starts looking around for him. She needs to practice taking a bottle but she wasn't very cooperative for him tonight. Eventually she took a little bit but it wasn't her favorite bottle so she didn't do as well as she had done before.

I've taken some cute pictures that I will just tag on to the end of this post. I love the outdoor pics of Luke- my camara is so fickle, I never know when things will turn out good or not! Maybe I should read the manual!


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