Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday's Top Five Laughs

5. I have some serious "Mommy Brain." I've always been a little absent minded, but I was never this bad. My latest exploits include: leaving a sweater at the dry cleaner for four weeks, rushing to the DMV to get my driver's license renewed 10 minutes before they quit accepting applications the night before my license expired, and forgetting my work keys at home and proceeding to lock a coworker's keys in my office. This led Craig to ask, "Amber, when did you become the biggest crack smoker ever?" Um, thanks for the support Craig.

4. I only had one pair of jeans that fit, so we stopped to get a couple of new pairs on the way home from my parents' house. Since we hadn't actually planned to go shopping, we didn't bring Liam's stroller. So, we had to rent one of those strollers from the mall. {Yeah, I know. Craig and I aren't usually germaphobes, but we definitely wiped it down and lined the seat with one of Liam's blankets.} It was shaped like a race car and had a steering wheel.  At one point I looked down, and he had one hand on the wheel and was looking around like, "Yeah, check me out in my Mall Racer." Too cute.

3. Liam's been kind of sick lately, and our doctor suggested that we start Nebulizing him. It's like the Nebulizer has become his favorite toy. One night, he was playing with the tube, so I pulled it away. His face got all red and he immediately started crying and screaming. Yep, that phase is starting. Awesome.

2. When we stopped to buy my jeans, I also picked up a little gray Champion fleece off a clearance rack at Target. Last night, when Craig went to put the jacket on him, he said, "Ooh, did your mom buy you a little girls jacket, Princess?" I apparently grabbed a little girls jacket. I figure I'm going to make him wear it anyway. Nobody's going to know the difference unless they try to zip it up. And Liam, if you're reading this in the future, I'm sorry if I scarred you for life.

1. Liam is kind of starting to outgrow his 6-9 month clothes, so we stopped to check out the clearance racks at The Children's Place to pick up some new 9-12 month clothes. While I was scouring the racks for polos and sweatshirts, Craig and Liam picked this out.

They were so proud of themselves, we obviously had to get it.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!


Friday, December 30, 2011

I am the Worst Book Club Member Ever and Other Thoughts on Nudging Myself to Be Healthier and Happier in 2012

I am a proud member of the Kyle Girl Long Distance Book Club, but I haven't been the best member of the book club over the course of the past few months. In fact, I started to wonder if I should just join this book club instead:

When we opted to read Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, I faithfully went to the library and ordered it via interlibrary loan. But alas, when it was time to return the book, I had only made it through the Introduction. So, my friend Jenny sent me the audio book. {Yes, this is me hanging my head in shame.} To be fair, the book was actually pretty interesting, especially if you're interested in policy making and psychology, which I usually am. But between work, baby, and wedding planning I just didn't find the time to get through the whole thing.

Anyway, at the end of book club this week, as part of the small talk that usually consumes most of book club, we started talking about New Year's Resolutions. It wasn't until book club had ended that I started thinking about ways that I could nudge myself into being healthier and happier in 2012.

I had recently read an article (I can't remember where, so it's not cited here) about having a jar and paying yourself a dollar for each time you work out. At first, I thought it was a little silly. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized this would be a great way to "nudge" myself to make good decisions.  As I see the cash grow, I'll be more motivated to do things that will make me healthier and happier.


On a semi-related note, Jillian Michaels is another factor that's going to nudge me to work out. My friend Shannon sent me the 30 Day Shred (Although I like to call it the 30 Day Burn, because oh my goodness, it definitely makes my thighs burn). I love that it's only 20 minutes long, and just when I start to think "I. can't. do. this. any. more." She says, "Alright, two more." Amazing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Today is my 28th birthday. I used to be quite the princess on my birthday. I insisted that my mom take the Christmas tree down before my birthday, was disgusted when people wrapped my gifts in Christmas paper, and they didn't dare give me combination gifts. Until I started working in a juvenile detention facility, I hadn't actually ever worked on my birthday, and for my 18th birthday, my grandpa got somebody to shoot off a cannon. Yep, you read that right. I had a cannon at my 18th birthday party. Today, I'm going to be a real adult and head to work and maybe come home to a glass of red wine. Craig and I went out for supper on Tuesday night, so I can't complain too much.

I can't believe I'm 28. I feel like I oscillate between feeling really old and feeling incredibly young. On one hand, I have a mortgage and a baby. On the other, I often find myself feeling naive and unsure of myself.

As I was looking through pictures, I found this picture from my 24th birthday. I wanted it to be classy--I wore trouser jeans, we went to Olive Garden, and followed dinner with a cookie and a couple of beers at my favorite local brewery and restaurant. There was a guy playing a guitar in the corner, and my friends convinced him to play Happy Birthday for me. He requested that I dance on the bar, but I exercised some restraint and refused.

Things are so much different now than they were then. These two ladies have moved across the country. I'm living in a little house with a white picket fence, raising a little boy, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap {As Narrated By Liam}

I'm not so sure about this Christmas stuff. It's exhausting. I spent waaay too much time in my car seat, and Mom and Dad always wanted me to wake up and look cute opening presents right at nap time. I did get to see Grandpa and Grandma and Aunt Mic and Uncle Blake and Cousin Harlee, so that was pretty cool.

On Thursday night we went to visit Dad's friends. Check out this new elephant they got me. He's all soft and squishy, so I like him. And, he's going to look pretty awesome in my new bedroom.

We spent all day Saturday and Sunday with Mom's family. I ate some mashed potatoes. 


And I opened presents. Did I ever tell you guys how much I love ripping up paper? Well, it's one of my favorite things to do right now. Except Dad's pretty quick and got it out of my hands just before I was ready to stick it in my mouth.


I also got to play some Angry Birds with Aunt Mic. I didn't even have time to smile for the camera.

Then Harlee and I hung out for a little while before we took a family picture. We were supposed to wear ugly sweaters in the picture, but of course, forgetful Mama struck again. So, we just wore our regular clothes. Uncle Blake thought her sweater was ugly enough.



** Editor's Note: When I first did an {As Narrated by Liam} post, I thought it would just be a one-time thing. Some stories are just more interesting when they're told from Liam's point of view, though. I apologize if this is overkill.

A Few Blog Updates

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays as much as I did. It went by so quickly--I only had a chance to sit down and check my e-mail once. I can't believe I'm heading back to work already. I'm not too upset, though, because I'm looking forward to having only one full week of work in January.

My January is going to be insanely busy-- recovering from the holidays, house cleaning, and a wedding. So, my posting may be a little sporadic. With that being said, if you're interested in writing a guest post the week of January 9-14, shoot me an e-mail. 

I'm also looking for bloggers who might be interested in doing a sponsor swap for the month of January. I realized that I discovered many of the new blogs I'm reading through ads on other blogs, and I thought it would be fun to swap ads. It's completely free. All I ask is that you display my ad on your sidebar in return. Send me an e-mail if you're interested.

A few things you can look forward to in the coming weeks and months include:

-A Holiday Recap
-Wedding Food and Projects
-A Nursery/Toddler Room Remodel
-More Cute Pictures of Liam as He Grows Up

Thank you all for your continued support. I hate to sound too mushy, but I am so grateful that I discovered blogging. I truly enjoy reading others' blogs, and appreciate all of the wonderful comments. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Stockings Were Hung

Random Ramblings: Christmas Edition

While the Southwest dealt with a winter storm, I did my Christmas shopping in 65-degree weather on Sunday, and it was glorious. I'm not even going to complain about the 30-degree high and chance of snow predicted for Wednesday. It could definitely be worse.


Craig insisted on stopping at Toys-R-Us to buy presents for my cousins. While most parents were dealing with their screaming three-year olds, I was dealing with Craig. "No, Craig, Liam does not need a $70 Optimus Prime. Yes, I know it's cool." He ended up picking up this little gem and dubbed himself "The Best Toy Buyer Ever."


I know I've been talking about the size of Liam's head a lot lately, but I honestly can't get over it. After Toys-R-Us, we stopped at Gymboree. We saw a hat that both Craig and I liked, but it was 12-18 months. When he tried it on, it fit perfectly. The poor kid swims in size 3 shoes and 6-12 month pants, but he needs a 12-18 month hat. Seriously?

As I was looking through my iPhoto pictures, I stumbled upon this picture. It made me smile. It was totally staged. I didn't make any of that food. Craig made it one Christmas (two years ago) when we were snowed in. That Christmas was the first year we lived in our current house, and I really loved spending Christmas with just the two of us. 


This boy is almost as serious about his singing as he is about his dancing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Best Christmas Present Ever

Some of you might remember this post from a couple of months back. You know, the one where I was all, "My baby's going to develop at his own pace, and I'm not going to worry about it one bit." Yeah, we all know I was kidding myself. Of course I started to worry.

Liam went in for his six month appointment, and we found out he was in the 10th percentile for weight. Our doctor didn't seem overly concerned, but she did mention that she wanted to see him again in December to check his weight gain.

Overall, Liam seems like a pretty happy, well-adjusted kid. However, he continued to refuse to sit up without some sort of support (the couch, his high chair, our hands). He wouldn't even do the whole tripod thing. So, as our December 22nd appointment for the weight check started to approach, I got a little concerned. You may have even caught me at 2:30 in the morning, wide awake, Googling "seven-month-old baby large head circumference low weight not sitting." Guess how many useful results came from that query.

Liam obviously knew what his mom needed for Christmas, because on Saturday, just five days before our follow-up appointment, Liam surprised me and decided to sit up on his own. I don't care how out of focus it is, I love this picture of Liam sitting up with his tongue sticking out. This sitting business is hard work.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter To Do List Check In

You might remember that winter and I have a love/hate relationship. Right now, I'm in love. Highs in the 40s the week before Christmas? When you live in South Dakota, that's nothing short of amazing.

I started out with a seven-item winter to do list. However, I've slowly added items. Do you ever add items to your to do list after you've done them just so you can cross them off? Me neither. 

Here's my progress so far:

-learn how to make a new side dish for Thanksgiving dinner
Umm. I thought about this one, but Craig made a green bean casserole and stuffing, so there was no need for my side dishes. Also, I picked up a vegetable tray for a pot luck at work. Does that count?

-pull Liam around in a sled at least once

We haven't gone sledding, so this one's still on the list. We did play in the snow, though.

-go to a parade of lights

-make Christmas treats

I'm planning to do this over the weekend.

-take Liam to see Santa Claus

In case you didn't see the pictures, you can check them out here.

-come up with an indoor/baby friendly exercise routine 

 Okay, I promise I'm working on this one, too. I watched the first few minutes of a yoga video one night before my sister called me. Then, I tried to go to Zumba in a nearby town on Wednesday night, but I got lost trying to find the class and didn't get there until I was 45 minutes late and was too embarrassed to go in. At least I know where it's at now, so we'll try this again next week.

-make Christmas tree decorations
Check out Liam's salt dough ornaments from last weekend. I also made the paper chain from old book pages. It was inspired by this post from one of my favorite blogs, She Always Loved Larking.


-donate to the local food pantry and Christmas for Kids program

I am definitely looking forward to crossing a few more items off of this list. What about you? Have you done anything exciting yet this winter?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Did I ever tell you Liam has the best dad ever?

On Tuesday night, when I stopped to pick up Liam from daycare, Mae said, "And you remembered that our Christmas party is tomorrow, right? You know a few of my moms are going to come help out. We're doing hand print crafts." To be honest, I thought the Christmas party was next week, and when Mae mentioned hand print crafts, a vision of a half-dozen sugar filled three and four-year olds running around the  house with paint-covered hands flashed through my head.

"Well, I actually teach class in the afternoons," I said. "You know, Craig's day off is tomorrow. He's been working a lot the past couple of days, but I'll check and see if he wants to bring Liam up for the party."

When I got home, I called Craig to tell him about the party. "She said a few of the other parents were going to stay and help out," I said. So, Craig agreed to take Liam.

Don't you think they did a pretty good job with their hand print craft?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We Whisk You a Merry Christmas

Let me introduce you to Liam's new favorite toy. Maybe I should just stick this in his stocking and call it good.

The Twelve Books of Christmas

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas traditions lately, since this year is Liam's first Christmas. When I was younger, one thing I could almost always count on was a new book in my stocking.

When I first stumbled upon this idea, my immediate response was, "Well, that's kind of dumb. Why would you wrap up books your kid already has?" The more I thought about it, the more I realized this might be a great idea. One of Liam's favorite hobbies is tearing up paper, so this will give him the opportunity to do that and practice opening presents for the big day. The idea eventually evolved into the twelve books of Christmas.

We had to cheat a little bit this year. Not all of the books are Christmas books, but they are all winter books. We also had to check out a couple of the books from the library. I figured that as Liam gets older and receives more books as Christmas gifts, we'll eventually have twelve (or more) Christmas books to share.

December 13: The Mitten- This book was one of my favorites as a kid. I remember making a lace-up mitten in preschool and coloring pictures of the woodland animals to stuff inside. I can't wait to share this book with Liam.

December 14: Bear Snores On- Liam and I have read this book several times now. He loves the rhyming prose about a bear who wakes up from hibernation to find a mouse and his friends popping corn and drinking tea. 

December 15: Dream Snow- I'll be honest and admit that I hadn't heard of this book before I started researching Christmas books for Liam. It's written by Eric Carle, and Liam likes a lot of his other books. Hopefully, he'll enjoy this one, too.

December 16: A Wish to be a Christmas Tree- This book has such beautiful illustrations.

December 17: In keeping with the tree theme, we're going to read The Mitten Tree today.

December 18: We're going to cheat a little and listen to the song that goes with today's book. When I read through Your Personal Penguin, it didn't sound quite right. When I read that it had a song by Davy Jones from The Monkees, I decided I needed to download it. I promised myself I wold never be the type of mom who would listen to silly songs just for her kids' sake, but I love Sandra Boynton. I'm hoping she and Davy Jones don't dissappoint.

December 19: Llama Llama Holiday Drama- I've been reading this book to Liam since October, and I know he loves it almost as much as he loves the other Llama Llama books.
December 20: How the Grinch Stole Christmas- I figure by December 20, I'll need to read this classic tale by Dr. Seuss.

December 21: Olive,  the Other Reindeer- Liam loves his puppies, so I'm hoping he loves this story about a puppy named Olive, who gets confused by the line "all of the other reindeer" in the song about Rudolph.

December 22: I've Seen Santa- Liam got this book through a book exchange we participated in recently. We have yet to make it through the whole book (other exciting things, like Daddy coming home, usually happen before we can finish). Hopefully, we'll be able to finish it on the 22nd.

December 23: The Polar Express- This is one of my favorite classic Christmas stories.

December 24: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas- We couldn't have read it any other night.

December 25: Jingle Bugs- My sister got this book in her stocking in 1994, and I was so jealous that she got a book with flashing lights and music. When I saw that it was available on Amazon I couldn't help but pick it up for Liam's stocking.

What about you? What are your favorite holiday traditions? Do you have any book suggestions for next year?

Monday, December 12, 2011

This is What Happens When Mommy Spends Too Much Time Shopping Online

I was originally planning to write a post about how I'm starting to rethink the whole Christmas thing -- that I was going to start valuing experiences over material possessions, yada, yada, yada. But, who am I kidding? I posted my wishlist, Liam's wishlist, and I have a whole stack of presents that I bought for myself Liam waiting to be wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree.

I love online shopping. Not only do you get to avoid the crowds, but it's also like Christmas everyday when you come home and find another package on your doorstep. So, rather than a self-righteous post about the true spirit of Christmas, I am going to share a few pictures of my kid wearing one of my most recent online purchases.

As I was typing this post, I realized that not too many years from now, Liam will probably be asking for a Red Ryder BB gun, and I'll probably be prying his tongue off a flag pole. So, I better cherish that sweet little baby giggle while it lasts.

**In case you're wondering, that A Christmas Story onesie is from Witty Bitty on Etsy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Found It {I Think}

I've felt a little like Goldilocks in my quest to find the perfect sippy cup. We tried soft spouts--too easy and no spills--too hard. I just wanted a sippy cup that worked just right.

With bottles, we got it right on the second try (Dr. Brown's), so I didn't really think it would be that difficult to find a sippy cup. I mean it's just a sippy cup, right? 

First, I tried the Nuby soft spout. Liam's drinks ended up all over his face, his onesies, and the floor. It just came out way too easily. Next, we checked out the Nuk no-spill sippy cups that I had gotten as a baby gift. It reminded me of the time we tried Breastflow bottles-- it was just too hard for Liam to get his water-juice combo. He would just get pissed and start chewing on the nipple.

I brought the issue up to Mae, who loaned me a couple of cups she had used with other kids at daycare-- the Nuk learner cup and the Nuby three-stage bottle. The design was different from the other two, but I experienced the same problems I had with the other Nuk and Nuby sippy cups I had tried.

Finally, I did what I probably should have done in the beginning--I turned to the Internet. After reading the reviews, I decided to try the Playtex First Sipster. Yes, the name is pretty ridiculous, but this cup has worked really well for us so far. It's easy for Liam to drink from this cup, and we haven't experienced any major spills. I liked it so much, I broke down and ordered two more last night. Let's hope it continues to work for us.

What about you? Did you have troubles finding the perfect sippy cup? Which one worked best for you?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This Is What Happens When Daddy Takes Me Shopping

Liam went shopping with his daddy on Sunday. Check out their prize purchase-- a new Puma track suit.

On Marriage

Today my wedding registry reminded me that my wedding is just 40 days away. I can't believe it's happening this quickly. In fact, I can't really believe that it's happening at all. In the past, when Craig and I discussed marriage, it would always boil down to the fact that we'd been together for years, we already owned a house and a car, and after all, in the words of Joni Mitchell, "we don't need no piece of paper from the city hall keeping us tied and true."

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, Craig and I aren't alone. 52 percent of respondents reported that they felt being a good parent was "one of the most important" things in life. Meanwhile, only  22 percent reported the same thing about marriage. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with Liam, though, our opinions began to change. And, shortly after Liam was born, Craig finally put that ring on my finger after helping me clean and rearrange our bedroom. (So romantic...)

Quite frankly, I'm glad we waited until after Liam was born. While I had that brief period of guilt shortly after I found out I was pregnant, worrying about the fact that I was doing this in the wrong order, I don't regret waiting. It's really made me consider what's really important--having a day we can share and enjoy with our closest friends and family.

A few months ago, I did a post asking for wedding planning advice, and one of my college roommates sent me an e-mail in response to that post. Her thoughts were so heartfelt and made me stop and think about what's going to be most important. Nobody would probably remember it if I spent hours making these hot glue wine bottles. But, it will be important that we are truly happy, that we take time to breathe, and that we truly enjoy that day. In turn, others will too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up and Random Ramblings

Let me preface this by saying that we had a pretty busy weekend at our house, which led to a lot of random thoughts.

1. On Saturday morning, we did a little photo shoot for my mom's Christmas present. This is the aftermath.

2. On Saturday night, Liam and I bundled up and headed out to our local Parade of Lights. We only live about two blocks from the parade route, so we just decided to take the stroller. Let me just say, thank goodness for small towns. The parade ended just before my toes started to go numb and just before Liam started to get bored. (He got his attention span from his mama.)

3. Sunday included a shopping trip. I needed to get my dress altered (see #5), and we needed to pick up a few things. Sam's Club is so overwhelming. I never shop there, but Craig's been a member for a long time. He wanted to get me a guest pass so I can pick up diapers and things. I walked out with three pounds of almonds, 174 diapers, and 810 wipes. We didn't even touch the perishable items. Who, besides the Duggars, really needs a 24 pack of strawberry yogurt anyway?

 4. The only thing more overwhelming than Sam's Club is shopping for sippy cups. We're now on our fourth brand--Playtex. It only took us two tries when we started using bottles. (Liam doesn't really like anything that may make it difficult for him to get his milk, so he definitely preferred Dr. Brown's over Breastflow.) There may be a full post about shopping for sippy cups later this week. We're going to give Playtex a shot before I throw my hands in the air and just give up. In the meantime, any suggestions?

5. Wedding dress alterations are expensive. I'm pretty sure the price of my alterations was more than the price of the actual dress. The good news is: they had to take it in.

6. While I was getting my dress alterations, Craig and Liam did some shopping. Liam is going to be so stylish when he shows up to daycare in his Puma track suit. There will definitely be more pictures of this baby. Liam was all worn out from shopping, so he wasn't really in the mood for a photo shoot.

7. Oh my goodness, I almost forgot this one. Here's a shot of Liam's newest hobby--riding Ollie.  Notice Gus is nowhere to be seen.

8. Finally, thanks for all of the votes ;). I am slowly climbing. Thanks for all of your support!

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thrifty Baby

I love Baby Gap and Gymboree as much as any other mother, but I just can't bring myself to spend $20 or even $15 on a shirt that Liam's going to wear to daycare. As a result, I've grown to love thrifting for baby items.

Yep. This shirt came in a box of clothes-- all for $15. Who can resist an "I Love Mommy" shirt.

When I first started thrifting for baby items, I would get excited whenever I found any type of boy items and buy anything and everything in sight. Now, I've learned to shop smarter, so I decided to share a few of the tips I've learned.

- Watch for style and quality- Even if it's only $3, it's not worth the money if you're never going to let your baby wear it. Along the same line, watch the brand. If you can buy it for close to the same cost brand new at Kohl's, then by all means, buy it brand new at Kohl's.

-Watch for size and age-appropriateness-  I try to stick to items that Liam will be able to wear within the next six months. I really don't have the space to store much more. The same is true for toys. Make sure it's something your baby can play with in the near future.

I lucked out and picked up all of these items for $5 at the consignment store in my hometown.

-Find shops you can trust-- I normally shop at the Thrift Store at The Club for Boys in a nearby town. It's well-established, I can trust it to have good prices, and the sales benefit an excellent charity.

The same is true for Better World Books. A friend of mine suggested this site to me as a way to build my classroom library when I first started teaching. Now, I use it to build my library at home. Liam and I read a lot of books, and many of them came from Better World Books. They have great deals, offer free shipping with no minimum order, and they match purchases book for book.

What about you? Do you buy used for your baby? Do you have any other tips to share?