Windows in My life

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge #HAWMC


My focus will be on Bi-Polar Manic Depression and some of the Postnatal depression issues. Please don't judge this as a personal experience and I will be bearing my soul.

Hey everyone - I just wanted to tell you about a new activity I'll be doing this April. The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health. I will be writing a post a day for all 30 days. I hope you'll join me in writing every day about health. It's going to be a lot of fun and I'd love to see what you have to say about each of the topics, too. All you have to do to join is sign up here: http://info.wegohealth.com/HAWMC2012 and you'll be able to start posting once April rolls around. Looking forward to writing with you!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Going Back to Work - A Mother and her Breast Pumps

With many work out side the home mom's know breastfeeding is a challenge and a nightmare. Got to get the right things for working AND try to decide which pump to take back to work with you. This is my review of the two breast pumps I currently own.

I breastfed my daughter Bella for 22 months and planed on breastfeeding the new one when he or she came here. Well baby Grace came and we were able to establish a great breastfeeding relationship. The down side was my breast pump from when I pumped at work a Medela Pump In Style (the back pack kind, see picture below), was falling apart. I would think a little wear and tear after a year and a half was reasonable, however, 
This is the Pump In Style style I own
This Hygeia EnJoye Pump that I am using now
the tabs on the zippers started to fall off (my husband made a few make shift ones), and the bag in the back started to split along the seam. Also just recently, one of the face plate's prog broke. I was a bit overwhelmed to say the least. The warranty expired long ago and I wasn't too happy about the fact I could not take the motor out and place it in a new case if the bag got damaged in any way.

Like any mom about six months in to the pumping for Bella, I was looking at the latest in breast pumps, by then I was not having too much trouble with the Medela, I really liked the fact that I could transport a few things in the bag portion, but my love for the pump was over with the face plate coming off each time I pulled the tubing off. My husband didn't like the cleaning of the flanges because the membranes (little plastic tabs that helped with the suction), they would either tear or get lost when he cleaned them for me. And I came across the Hygeia EnJoye Breast Pump.

At first the jaw dropping price was around $100 more than that of the Pump In Style, but for me it offered freedom. The freedom to leave the bag behind and use many of the back packs I had. The top of the line breast pump has a Lithium Battery pack built in, so if there is no power outlets around no problem. The problem was convincing my husband that I needed something else. The Medela pump still worked, so I wasn't going to get one any time soon.

I told myself and my husband in 2011, with baby number 2 on the way I wasn't going to use the Pump In Style. The motor was still running but the bag was in bad shape. I told him that I wanted the Hygeia EnJoye Pump and showed him the website (Hygeia Baby) and gave him the bullet points:
  • Enclosed Lithium battery
  • Certified Recyclable parts
  • Can use all of the old pumping bottles and items from Medela (I have a lot of old things in good condition still)
  • Can record the baby crying on the device (no ear phone plugs though)
  • And I just want it.
I bought it two weeks ago and I am in love. Wednesday was my first day using it and it was purely easy to use. I was able to pump Grace's milk in the Medela bottles and still have the Hygeia bottles for work. So I don't have to spill any milk (unless I trip) in the morning when I am groggy. It was easy to set up and I was pumping in no time flat.

More Later as I need to attend to Grace! Next post will be a Review of the new Medela Calma Nipples Grace is using for the first time this week!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thought on a Thursday - Picture Day

 
This is Bella's first school picture that she actually posed for all by herself. Its hard to believe that the same time last year she refused to take the school picture at all. We were only able to get a small class picture with her shining face as a small dot and now look at her! I am one proud mama!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Going back to work, Tomorrow

I never thought the day would come to being. Maybe in a few weeks it will be different. Maybe Grace (the youngest) will not like the arrangement and or grandma will think watching a baby is too rough on her and will have to throw in the towel. Only time will tell.

I have been getting use to the stay at home life. Sleeping in a bit, knowing that the only person to take care of is sleeping right next to you, ok maybe kicking you in the back to change her diaper; because the eldest is at daycare. Getting dressed at noon, so when the mailman comes you do not look like a wreck. Having the freedom to clean the house at what ever time is best for you, because the Netflix marathon of "Say Yes to the Dress" is great mind numbing fun.

However fun it seems to me about being the stay at home mom, the anxiety of the real world sets in fast. Bills, depression, and feeling like a failure on some level about being the mom I think my family needs.

I feel the middle ground is me working part time to be there for both kids during the week and to take some pressure off my husband with the bills. Finding my inner craft diva and tacking my husband's sewing machine to sell a few items on Etsy and this new website I found called Craftsy. And getting my Lactation Certificate to hopefully become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) one day.

For now, I guess, I'll be back behind my desk tomorrow morning at 6 AM Pacific Daylight Time trying to stay awake thinking of Grace and how I am doing this wacky job for her and Bella and no one else.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Green Bear - A Car Story

The year 1962. The place Walnut Creek, California. The time, say mid morning. A newly rolled out VolksWagon in a car dealership sparkling in the sun. Elvis is playing on the AM radio some where. A man in a suit and tie walks towards a couple as they peer into the freshly washed window, of the newest 1963 model, seeing the new leather, room for their growing family and shopping. They buy the car and enjoy it.   Ten years down the road, same family, yet they are a little older, have two daughters who lay on the hood like car models they see in magazines. The family keeps the car very well maintained for an older model VW.
sorry its upside down

Eighteen years later, a family member is in need to take a baby to and from places, the car is given to a new owner with some sadness from the old owner. The memories flood back and as the car drives away, the woman wonders if she will ever see it again.

A little shy of the car's thirtieth year of life, tragedy hits. In the hills of Marin County coming back from a weekend trip to Napa, the original engine dies and the guy driving the car is forced to tow it to a shop to get it replaced. He still needs it to get around and to see the little girl that is growing up. She has named it "Green Bear" as it is green and for no other reason, the man lets her call it that. The car doesn't mind at all. Another tragedy comes when it's broken into several times because it is old and people think it can be just taken on a joy ride. The man tells the little girl that he might have to either sell it or junk it. She cries. He decides to take it off the streets, his sister gives him a new car, her old car, and he takes it to Napa for a few years.

In the mists of these years it sat waiting for the man to bring it back to life, which he did on the weekends when he was in Napa. Then one day, he turns the car towards the freeway and doesn't stop till he's in Oakland, where that once young girl is standing now a teenager, and has a license to drive! She is new to the road. Doesn't take it easy on the now thirty-five, or thirty-six years old car. She wants to explore the world. The man says "Do not take it on the freeway, as it's not safe for you or the car". The girl nods and plots to go to places that are only accessible by the freeway. And she does. The man says "do not drive on too many hills, as it's not safe for you or the car", the girl does anyway.

Being a first time driver she is very rough on the car. She has many accidents with it and for a time it does not run. Yet the car is ingrained in her soul. She has it for a few more months after she graduates from high school and then it's returned to Napa to wait patiently for the return of her. Years are not too good on the car.

On it's fortieth birthday it is in Napa baking in the sun, the rain rusting parts that were so lovely taken care of. The feeling that the scrap heap is its final destination. The man tells the young woman that she's better off with out it. She again cries. She vows not to let it go. He purses his lips, but let's this battle go.

In its late forties, the car has seen better days, it feels like its going to wither in the sun, until the girl comes and says, "I am taking you with me!" and proceeds to hook up the car to a hitch as the car's tires are not yet tested to drive long distances. Again it is sidelined for a newer car, however not in the elements as it once was. A few months later, it is again hitched to a trailer and taken to the streets of a small city, again exposed to the elements. Immobile by the years of neglect. The woman and her husband roll it to one side of the street to the other side every other week. The car gets a few tickets because of forgetfulness on their part. A year goes by and finally it gets taken to a repair shop and it gets a small dose of tender loving care. It perks up and starts to run again. A few weeks later it gets placed in a garage, away from the elements, away from the street weepers. It is now waiting for more tender loving care from the woman.

Now the car is in its fiftieth year. Most cars are gone from that era. It knows that. It is very lucky to be in a garage when most of its counter parts are now buried in rust. The woman has two small girls. It hopes to be running great by the time they are old enough to drive. When it becomes sixty years old.

Thank you for reading. The car has been passed down from my aunt to my dad to me. Some of the facts from the 1960's I am not too sure of, so don't treat them like they are real facts. I only know what people have told me.

The dark side of Pinterest

As the world knows there isn't a website that isn't untouched by evil spam, or adult (Rated XXX) content. However I thought it was different on a website called Pinterest. I thought that this was a website that limit their access to it so that real content could get through and not be subjected to porn or "toys" in a category that once held images and links to "How to make home made Play-Doh" or other craft ideas for young children.

This morning I was feeding my youngest daughter and was looking through some of the categories to get some ideas about possible crafts and tips for my eldest daughter (who turns 3 this year) in the Education category of their website. However instead of this category being chalked full of educational crafts, websites for teachers and the random infogram, which I am use to, I found this:



I am not trying to cause an anti-Pinterest movement nor am I canceling my account over this image and link, I am however surprised at the lack of thought that Pinterest does not have a "Mark as Adult" or a flag of some kind for people to click to say that they do not want this kind of image in a particular category. I also do not want to "re-pin" this image and place it in my Pinterest stream for other people to see that may have different ideas. Also give the person whom pinned this in the first place more attention.

Please Pinterest place an Adult category and a flag of some kind for people to tell your company to move questionable content to a more appropriate space after a review of the image and link so that parents and teachers a like can share their crafts in a safe environment.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Woman VS the Sewing Machine

I really have a hard time with getting motivated with sewing. I have a craft box full of material that hasn't seen the light of day in a few years.

My husband a few years ago bought two sewing machines. One a Sears $50 dollar blue one that was for light weight things and a $200 dollar Singer heavy duty almost industrial one that according to my husband costs $300 to replace.
This is the machine. It looks easy, right?
Recently I asked to use one of them to do a few projects that I thought I could complete myself. He pulled out the Singer. I was very scared when I saw it on the table for me to use. So I had him help me start one project was the tutu I made for my youngest. Though it didn't quite make it to being a tutu, it was still very motivating for me to make something that wasn't just a test swatch.

Now I am on to my second project, which doesn't seem to hard, is driving both me and my husband nuts. I really would like to stitch two pieces of material together. However its not working out for me. I have the same problem no matter how much I run the machine. The bobbin thread gets bunched up and gets stuck in one place. I almost want to give up each and every time. Even when I just run a piece of fabric it does the same.

The
Machine
HATES
ME!

Any suggestions on how to fix the problem would be great. I don't want to give it up, and the many times when I asked my husband for help, he tells me he will, then he falls asleep or totally forgets and it doesn't seem to get done any faster than if I do it myself. I feel like a domestic failure.

What am I doing that is wrong? Please help!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This year is an important year

This year will mark the fourth year I have had this blog. Combined I have probably blogged one third of a year's worth of material. However I have had a few other blogs that would probably make up the loss. This year I hope to do many more things like Reviews, Giveaways and invite you into my life a little more. I have several things I'd like to say and do so stay tuned!

It also marks the fourth year of my marriage! Go figure!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review - Lighting-Fast Chinese for Kids and Families by Carolyn Woods

Learning a language can be tough, whether it be your second or third and in my case filth! With a full time job, two kids, and a husband to look after I though the possibilities of learning a language was remote. Only when my two year old was watching Ni-Hao Kai-lan on the television was it possible to engage her and my husband in another language. So when this book review opportunity came I really wanted to give it a shot.

Having the sayings from Kai-lan, the small amount of Chinese food words and random words I picked up from my husband, I was totally lost and overwhelmed to start learning one of the oldest languages in the world.

Taken from Amazon.com
The book Lighting-Fast Chinese for Kids and Families by Carolyn Woods makes it easy. She creates prompts and guides in the 60 pages (in paper back or on the Kindle) that made it easy for me to ask my two year old basic questions in real life situations like getting dressed, going to the Zoo, and going to the store. How easy is that? Immersion is one of the best ways to learn a new language and by taking this book with us as we went walking to see the shī zi (lions), lǎo hǔ (tigers) and the xióng (bears) at the Zoo made it more interesting because we were having fun learning Chinese. And that is when real learning takes place.

A small video I made to show you how fun and easy the lesson are!


More by Carolyn Woods
Lightning-fast Spanish For Kids and Families 
 Lightning-fast Spanish Vocabulary Building Crossword Puzzles 
Lightning-fast French For Kids and Families
Lightning-fast German For Kids and Families
Lightning-fast Italian For Kids and Families
Make Money From Home With A Children’s eBay Business
And just published 
Lightning-fast Japanese For Kids and Families


There are only 2 cons I could see about the book. One was the lack of clarity of what dialect I was about to learn. In China there are two main branches Mandarin and Cantonese, then there are the smaller regional subsets. I had to ask my husband, who has a few years of the language, tell me it was Mandarin. The second was the word Pinyin, not until the end of the book is it defined, in the book, {as} the Chinese phonetic language, rather than characters. I would have liked to see that in the beginning as I thought it was the actual dialect of Chinese! 

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars (Amazon Rating system), because of the ease of use that my family enjoyed learning from the book, but lost a star because of the confusion of the dialect and definition as I pointed out above.


Please Note: I was given a copy of the book to review ($14.99 value), however was not told in any way how to write or do a video for the author or received anything other than the copy mentioned above to influence my review.

Wordless Wednesday





Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dear sixteen year old self,

Can you believe you are now 32? Have two daughters, a husband, a house, and the VW?
Me at 16 with my friend Winston

I know it seems far fetched because you are in the mist of a melt down. You will get help and medication for what you are finding out from your biological father about a chemical imbalance in your brain called Bi-Polar Mania. The medication will make things better, but our mom will not.

When you are 18, she will call the cops and have them place you under a 5150, though its hard for the doctors to find out what is wrong with you after the first 12 hours of being there. Some of them think our mom should be in here, not you. When you get back to your home, your mother is there with a restraining order not to go near her or your childhood home. All of this at the start of your last year in high school, how rude right?

You do graduate from Skyline High School with top honors. Both the Future Teachers and Preforming Arts magnate completions and honor roll cords. I think we were the first person to do such a thing in the schools history. I doubt that few will remember, but we will!

It took us a few more years to complete college than we had hoped. 1 year in City College and 5 years in San Francisco State University. You met a few friends, laughed and tried so hard to shed the awkwardness about you by reinventing yourself a few times. However it seemed not to work and the self doubt haunts you even to this day. 

You did get a job at the PlayStation Store San Francisco in the Metreon. Yup you get into video games. You actually meet your husband there, however don't know it yet, and meet another guy that will break your heart into a million pieces and runs back to Michigan. So when you see a tall handsome, blond hair, blue eyed guy that is just as shy, RUN AWAY! 

A few years later when you're about to turn 27, our mother dies and you lose your childhood home to fore-closer. You have days from when you find out that she has died to when they take it away, to prioritize the things that you want to take with you and the things you will never see again. And those decisions still haunt you till this day.

A year latter you get married and another year after that your first daughter is born. Bella is a great little girl and brings mountains of joy. So in 2011 you try once again and you have another daughter Grace and you decide to give her our mother's middle name as hers. 

Please do not be scared as this is even over whelming to your 32 year old self. Just know that you do not become what your mother has told you, however the bit about the girls were right. 

You are not crazy, you do become loved by yourself, and you are loved by others.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Working or Not Working - this is the reality

In my previous post Stunning absolute I talked about the real possibility of me quitting my job to stay home with my two year old and my newborn. I felt that I can totally quit my job as long as I can get some extra income by a part time job on the weekends.

I talked to my husband about this and he feels in order for me to complete the quitting my job part, I would have to stay at my job till at least my husband feels like he's in the black or if Grandma once faced with the day to day routine of baby G, doesn't feel like she can handle it anymore give my two weeks notice.

I still feel like I am going to get fired before that happens however we need to get one foot out of the debt that maternity leave leaves me in and I think I could do fine. How come I feel a sense of dread coming on then??

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Start of a homemade guru? The Tutu Story

To stick to a New Years Goal of getting off my duff and start making something of and for myself and family, led to the motivation of making things from scratch. Whether it be food or home goods including clothes. 

When I was a kid I didn't have a good impression of homemade clothes. My mother used to make a few of my summer dresses and a few shirts which was fine. However the hang up was when she took my store bought dresses that still fit on the top, however because I would have a growth spurt (as all kids do) they turned in to mini skirts, she would find the "matching" (that kind of looked like the dress material but was off) material and sew an extra panel to the bottom of the dress. To an eight year old all ready getting teased and bullied because I was different having this fashion faux pas was just another nail in my coffin. 

By associating this with the sewing machine and the horrid dresses that my mom tacked with extra material, I disliked dresses and the thought of home made anything made me think of clothes looking cheep and dirty.

Flash forward twenty years I met my husband and he had a love of sewing. Soon I was introduced back into the thing I vowed not to touch back when I was an eight year old child. A Sewing Machine. The fabric store was easy to get back into. The feel of the yards of different fabrics made my brain explode with different ideas of things to make. Maybe a bag, maybe make an actual piece of clothing or something like a bed sheet. A few years later I got pregnant and I got all the Winnie the Pooh material, patterns and accessories to make everything a nursery would need. However a good majority of material is still uncut, the patterns are still folded and the accessories have been used a little. Though I did manage to make a quilt for my first daughter, but that's a different story.

Two and a half years later, I had my second daughter and my eldest was getting into girly things like princesses, also their fluffy dresses and Tutu's. However to spend the money on one pre-made tutu with out braking the bank is hard. So I decided to make two. One for my eldest and one for my baby girl. 

On my quest to the fabric store I found an organza I thought would be nice as a topper to the tutu rather than just plane white tutu.
The organza I used
The problem was with the tulle. How to make the multiple layers with out cutting each piece individually. I solved the problem by folding the tulle fabric to the correct size that I wanted, I sewed  it to the top and bottom layer of organza (I feel tulle is a bit itchy so I used the sheer part of the organza to make a backing), I cut the folds and sewed a pink ribbon on it.



My baby girl trying it on. She wasn't too happy about being the model however I did get to snag these pictures. It should be with a white onesie or a nice shirt and leggings.


Now on to my eldest's tutu!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Twine you want to win a 100 dollars?

All the delicious colors (Click to see the deal!)


Who wants to win a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card? I have teamed up with realmomsrealdeals.com and a bunch of other great sites to bring you this $100 Amazon gift card giveaway. It's easy to enter. Simply use our Rafflecopter to submit your entries. Good-Luck!

While you are on Real Moms Real Deals website check out the Timeless Twine to the left. Isn't it awesome? I don't know what to use it for however for less than 6 dollars a spool I'm thinking on getting a few for my craft box. Maybe for an Easter project with Bella. Or maybe save it for Christmas (they do have a Christmas color its an Olive and Cherry twist) for the finishing touches on the gifts I love to use ribbon on. With 160 yards of the Timeless Twine I think I can do both!
About Real Moms Real Deals: We are, 100% committed to bringing fantastic REAL deals, to REAL mom’s, like you! What does this mean, exactly? It means squeal-inducing savings, up to 90% off…nope, not a typo!…on products you actually use and love! We also proudly support hand crafted items right along with brand name items, so for those of you who have an affinity for beautiful craftsmanship that comes only from hand crafted items, we’ve got you covered! Not only are we super diverse in the brands we offer our deals on, we also have a wide range of products available to you! Everything from baby clothes to home décor (and more!). Come see what fun daily deals you can snag today!!!

Potty Training Update - $2 and some change

from In Recovery
Well its been two days and my daughter has earned a grand total of $.95 cents today and $1.45 yesterday. I think its working though she's not telling us yet. I know baby steps however I just want one kid in diapers soon!

I will be taking the loose change from the piggy bank and trading it in for bills so we can keep using the coins. Also it will be easier to count!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Paying out of pocket for potty training

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Assorted_United_States_coins.jpg 
This is what we have decided to do about potty training. Pay her in coins. Its bribery, clear and simple. I mean that's what parents do at this age, bribe them with something that they want. Usually a Skittles or M&M's, small candies that get kids to do their business for cheep and small sugar highs. 

Me and my husband don't let my daughter eat that many sugary treats, we are realists and know that she will have a sweet tooth and buy what she wants some day, but I didn't want her first thrills be revolving around candy. I know it works for most kids, however its different for us. 

We decided to pay her the loose change around the house for a potty reward. After all its a good start to get excited about money. This is the break down of what we are giving her:

$.05 for telling us she needs to use the potty
$.10 for just sitting on the potty
$.25 for going pee pee
$.50 for poo poo
A total of $.65 if she does all the above

Once she has completed this we wash hands and then hand her the amount she's earned and she places it in her piggy bank for the future.

The thing we need to do is tell every one in the family what we are doing this so we can be consistent with this instead of wavering from one reward system or to another. 

Are there any other tricks of potty training that I am not doing for my daughter? Please let me know!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

3 months young

Baby Grace is three months old!
Sleeping
I learned that in three months my heart could grow another size larger, my want of another life is growing like the little one in my arms. However it seems that I am faced with the life of a working out side the home mom. As much as I try it seems that the goal of at least being a SAHM (stay at home mom) is very out of reach. 

My Mother in Law, the one that stated that she may not be able to watch Grace, is now rushing me to get Grace on the bottle, reminding me that in two weeks I become the night and weekend care giver, like Bella when she was her age. I didn't want that status then I don't want it now. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stunning absolute.

Confession - I want to stay at home.

Like most work outside the home moms, the elusive quest to stay at home is like the quest for the Holy Grail, especially living in the Bay Area. In 2009 I wanted desperately to quit my day job and stay home with my first daughter to see all of her firsts. At 3 months and some change of her life I went back to work with a pump and a heavy heart.

2.5 years later I was gearing myself up to do the same thing with now my second daughter until my husband brought home some news. My MIL might not be able to watch this one as she did with the first.

With my mind racing, I thought of the possibility that I will be going from Work Out Side the Home to Stay At Home Mom in less than 3 weeks before I would have to return to work was overwhelming. I would also have to take care of my first who would be pulled out of daycare because with just one income my husband couldn't afford the $1200 extra a month on his salary.

I figured I would need to make an income too. I figured an amount no less than $1000 per month to pay the phone bills, some of the other small bills and incidentals like gas and clothing for the kids. I don't have any super bills like a car payment under my name so that's a blessing. And I would need to also pay off the credit cards I have (which are two) and one has reoccurring debit on it.

I am working on a pet project that might give me some flexibility but it's still in the planing stages. More on that later.

Any SAHM advice would be welcomed.