Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Merry Fluffy Christmas - Giveaway #1

So here goes, my very first giveaway! I want to start with something different so I'll introduce you to Koonts.

I love Etsy. As I was 'window shopping' one day I came upon the Koonts shop and was intrigued.

The pants are adjustable, both waist and length. My first thought was, 'Wow! These would be great over cloth diapers!' As soon as my little one became mobile, it seemed harder to get pants that fit over her cloth diapers and didn't turn her into a stiff little scarecrow. If I got a size or two up, the pants fit her waist but needed to be rolled up a few times and were definitely on the baggy size. And most pants tend to slide down as she walks, runs and climbs. That can't be comfortable. But if I could make the waist fit properly...

Israela is mom to two boys, currently on maternity leave after many years working in the Hi-tech arena. She is fulfilling her dreams with Koonts. In Yiddish koonts means 'trick.'
Koonts - known by its quality of fabric and sewing and its clean and happy look - was born from a place of a lot of creativity and the desire to give an answer to the challenge hidden in children's clothing.The outcome is unique items - with the unique idea - clothes growing with the child.
 Israela sent me a pair of Koonts pants for my toddler to try. Immediate impression - they are cute! My daughter wanted to put them on right away. Action shots were hard to get at this time but I wanted to show them on an actual child.

They fit really well - of course, because we can adjust them to the perfect size, no matter what kind of diaper she wears. She seemed very comfortable (and she is one to say if she isn't!) and was more than happy to keep wearing them. They are easy to take off and put on for diaper changes or quick potty needs. So all of our needs are covered.

The quality is wonderful. I even wrote to Israela to double-check and ask if Koonts was a bigger company than I originally thought. But no, right now Koonts is a marvelous one-woman shop, with dreams for growing. Israela even said that she would start a line for cloth diapering kiddos if it makes sense! So share your thoughts and feedback if you try a pair! In my house, we already love Koonts!

You can buy a pair of Koonts pants here.

You can also enter the giveaway to win a pair of your choice! This giveaway begins a 12:01 am on December 1st and closes at 11:59 pm on December 3rd. The winner will be emailed and you will need to get back to me within 48 hours. There will be a new giveaway on each day of the Merry Fluffy Christmas event and all winners will be posted and notified before December 10th.

You will need the link to the Koonts Etsy shop.

Finally, make sure you scroll all the way down to find the links to the other Merry Fluffy Christmas blogs for more fabulous giveaways!

**THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! Winner will be announced when all Merry Fluffy Christmas giveaways are over, on Dec 8th.**

Make sure you visit all of the Merry Fluffy Christmas blogs for more fabulous giveaways and visit me again tomorrow for Day 2!

A Merry Fluffy Christmas!

So I mentioned a few fun terms together in my last post - 'blog hop' 'giveaway' and 'cloth diapering' - nice combination right?!

Well you heard right! Nineteen bloggers are coming together with cloth diapering related prizes worth over $3800. From December 1st (oh my gosh that's tomorrow!) to December 5th, you can hop around and enter to win them all!

I believe short and sweet is the best. So here's the countdown. Be sure to join us!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A breather

I've been pretty silent on the blog front lately. I was on a roll there, enjoying taking a few moments each evening to sit and leave my mark. But life has had a few hiccups lately and it's thrown off my groove. Not the least of which was a fire that completely destroyed the inside of a home that we own (thankfully we are not living in it at this time).
As my online class work piles up, I should probably take a hiatus anyway. Just a few weeks, although I will hopefully check in every once in a while with something (I did make matching Thanksgiving outfits for my girls out of a lovely wool sweater and I really want to post photos!).

In the meantime, I will be trying out another blog tool - a giveaway. Well , more specifically, a blog hop giveaway for cloth diapering families! Sounds fun. I'll share more about it tomorrow.

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

But it's mine!

As my daughter's second birthday approaches we are seeing all sorts of challenges, I mean behaviors, appear. Sharing is definitely a hard lesson to learn (some of us are better than others, even in our more mature years). And having a baby sister makes it even harder.

I used to carry around a big day planner to keep track of my appointments as I traveled from home to home for an Early Intervention program. On one of the pages I had posted a list of the 'Toddler Property Laws' to remind myself (and parents sometimes) about how we have to be light-hearted about some of the more frustrating developmental stages of our dear littles one. I'm taking out this chart now to re-remind myself and my husband of just that.

It's not always easy to be a toddler!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I often get asked if I would recommend having kids as close as mine are (15 months). I usually say something like they should ask me in a year when my girls are best buds. Asking me right now is kind of like asking me if labor's worth it when I'm in the crux of intense contractions. Well, not *that* bad; but I am sure that in a year, my struggles of today will be a hazy memory.

'Time' is something that I'm having trouble getting a handle on these days. I don't mean in the way of being late for things (although that's true too). I mean, it can be hard to seize the moment.

With a toddler, I want to take meandering toddler-speed walks. Of course sometimes we do; but other times, a crying, tired, teething baby sister means our shadow discovery walk had to be cut short. There are times when I need to stop everything and get down low to calmly get through to my almost two-year old why a certain behavior really needs to stop. But sometimes, my attention is split and I'm multi-tasking, desperately trying to get the three of us out the door so we can head home for nap, and I just can't/don't take that time. My little one also misses out on the amounts of one-on-one mommy time that the first one got. But then, the way her face lights up whenever her big sister wakes up from her nap to join us, just can't be beat.

There will be sunnier words. It's just been one of those days... or rather... one of those weeks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

(Not-so) Simple Pleasures

There are all sorts of Holiday 'must-have' lists this time of year. So here's a suggestion from me; something I have newly realized that all parents must have.

A jacuzzi tub.

Yup, a jacuzzi tub. It's not something you'll find on the 'Gifts for under $20' list. And I can't seriously put it on my wish list since the renovation costs are significant as well. But it can sit there on my dream list.

We are staying out of town this week for my husband's work. Our hotel suite has a jacuzzi tub- therefore my newfound interest. It could be because we only have a shower at home but aahh...

Anyway, the main reasons this is a *parent* must-have:
• there is so much room for the kids to play (i.e. fun)
• the high sides mean not so much worrying about splashing (i.e. more fun)
• after the kids go to sleep, it's mommy's turn (i.e. the best part!)

Ah, for the (not-so) simple pleasures in life!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 12, 2010

Feminism and AP

It would be easy to have a blog that was all about ranting, but... it might not be healthy. But I have to bring up this topic which is apparently a hot ticket lately in the online world of discussions. Erica Jong recently published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in which she went on and on about how Attachment Parenting is harmful to mothers and their children. Now everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion. I can only share mine.

I'd actually never heard of 'Attachment Parenting' a year ago. I had read Dr. Sears so I must have seen the phrase but it never stuck in my mind. Then I moved and went on Meetup looking for mommy-child groups in the area and found an AP group. It sounded like the other moms in the group and I shared a number of parenting choices, such as co-sleeping, cloth diapering, breastfeeding and babywearing. I had done all of those things though not because they followed some doctrine but just because they felt right. And it always feels good to be part of a group.

I still do plan on blogging about each of these topics, just not now. My sleepy brain these days is limiting the length, depth and clarity of my posts. But I've been on the other side of the fence - giving advice to parents in my role as an educator. And now as a parent I can honestly say that there really is no one-size-fits-all solution for anything. I do believe however, that women do become 'mothers' when they have children. Hormones, evolution, there's all sorts of reasoning (and it's fascinating). But mothering has to feel right.

Jong writes that Attachment Parenting is "a prison for mothers." That sounds so strange to me. I think perhaps I am just a different kind of feminist (for while I'm sure Jong would scoff, I have been called a feminist many times). I don't think that being a feminist means that women must put on the pants, get full-time, high-achieving jobs, put the kids in daycare, hire house cleaners, and marry men that will cook. (Doesn't that sound ridiculous? As ridiculous as the opposite extreme, I think.) I think that being a feminist means believing that women are free to choose how they lives their lives. At least that's how I live, and I would like to share that with my daughters.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Froggable or not

So, upcycling.
For example - there are so many things to be made from used sweaters! I found another blogger, Resweater, who shares her creativity in this arena (along with some neat tutorials). Hats, mittens, balls, sleep sacks, pants, new sweaters for kids. Fun! Plus, she raids (not literally) secondhand stores for sweaters (wool, cashmere, etc.) and sells them online, which is great since the closest secondhand store I could find near me is so posh I found a sweater for $140.
So anyway, I began my cutting and piecing and sewing. I've made a pair of longies for each of my girls. So far, I just did it by using the sleeves from sweaters. For one I just cut and sewed. The other sweater was 'froggable' (is that a great word or what?!), so I unraveled the tops of the sleeves and then knit them together at the top. They are great for wearing over cloth diapers, just as I hoped. They do still have a bit to be desired in the fashion department so they are mostly indoor wear. Although, we did get compliments at a playdate the other day when we just left the house in whatever we were wearing (necessary sometimes in order to get out the door at all). But I've been looking at a lot of other people's longies and I'll be trying again.

I will get pictures up at some point soon. I'd love to hear from anyone who knows some good patterns or suggestions or other online resources!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For the love of Wool

I've been using cloth diapers as a mom now for almost two years and I've known about them forever since my mom cloth diapered me and my siblings. But I only recently learned about wool soakers and longies. Now they are my new obsession... I mean, hobby.

A little boy at a 'Diaper Free Baby' meeting was wearing a pair of lightweight wool short pants over a thin cloth diaper. It was summer and my toddler was getting increasingly mobile and while I love cloth diapers, they sometimes seemed a bit bulky and hot. So this little boy looked pretty comfortable. And - his mom mentioned that she had knit his pants! I was all ears!

I came home and did my research. (I love Google search!) And there's a whole world of information out there - blogs, forums, Etsy shops. I started by ordering some wool from KnitPicks and I quickly knit up a sweet pink soaker for my little one using a pattern I found on Ravelry. Loved it. Except, it leaked. And wool was supposed to be this magical material that wouldn't leak or smell. It turns out that I thought I was being smart by ordering a special type of wool that could be machine washed but it just meant that it had been treated by some chemicals, which negated some of the natural properties. At that point I was a bit disheartened and not up to knitting another one (in all my spare time).

Then I discovered - 'upcycling'!

To be continued tomorrow as sleep calls me now...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 8, 2010

"That's why they call it the Present"

Sometimes I get frustrated. At night when I'm lying with my daughter, waiting for her to fall asleep, sometimes I get impatient. I need to go clean up after dinner, or tidy the living room, or check-in on my online class, or shower. It always seems to take much longer for her to fall asleep when I'm waiting impatiently.

And then I have remind myself that these are just moments. If I just relax, I can enjoy her whispering quietly to herself (a skill she does not employ during the day when I try to put her little sister down for naps) - "blowing kisses to daddy.... good night.... whooo, whooo, owl says... " Some of the whispers I don't understand, but after not too long, she quiets down and her breathing gets deeper as she fades into sleep.

Moments to treasure. (Shower can wait.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Hour

Isn't the evening supposed to be the most difficult time of day for parents of young children? I guess this is often true for us in the early evening hours, between the time when daddy gets home from work and when we eat dinner. But then - it's happy time. We say the words, "Let's get ready for nigh-nigh!" and the girls perk up!

I used to ask my husband not to have wrestle-time right before bed but then I saw how happy my daughter was (the oldest, as far back as when she was 5 or 6 months old) when he would put her on the bed and step just outside the bedroom door saying "Here I come.. here I come!!" Her little arms and legs would go crazy as her face lit up. (Fabulous daddy bonding time.) Now that she's almost 2, she does more than just lie and wait with excited anticipation. It's her little sister's turn to try and bring her not-yet-mobile self over to where the action is, and to wriggle with joy when her daddy or sister come her way.

Then of course we need some calming time. Lately, since the girls now go to bed at the same time, we've gotten back into massage. It seems to have a calming effect on all four of us. (Although it'd be nice if the girls could give me a full massage sometimes! Maybe one day.) The little one is determined to crawl so she tends to be pretty squirmy but we can usually get through the legs and feet. The big one has come through and past her squirmy phase and now really enjoys the massage (although her feet are too ticklish for much touch), especially face and back. Some nights we'll meditate together for a few minutes.

At this point the girls are usually completely ready for bed - bedtimes stories with daddy for the big one and a final nursing for the little one.

Lights off.


Good night.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gentle Discipline - Thank you!

I'm teaching a class (online) now using someone else's curriculum; and planning how I will teach it differently next semester, putting my own spin on assignments and such. One assignment I want to have is for my students to write a letter to a prominent child development theorist. In that spirit, here's my own letter to the author of a book I just got into.

Dear Ms. Flower,
A fellow mom just lent me your book Adventures in Gentle Discipline. Driving home from her house, my daughters - 22 months and 7 months - feel asleep in the car and I decided to take advantage of the precious calm and quiet moments and read a 'grown-up book.' I must admit that as much as I love reading, I have read very little for myself over the past two years. And, being a child development specialist, books pertaining to those topics used to be my favorite reading material! But these days, they are too long, or, they just don't pertain to my situation and I've got somewhat of a narrow attention span these days. (Or, when it comes to the topic of discipline, most books are about older children.) But your book is different.

I've actually only made it a few pages into the introduction! But reading the Foreward by Ms. Granju brought tears to my eyes as I was reminded that I'm not alone in having intense emotions and reactions to my kids. And then I sighed a deep sigh of relief as I read the beginning of your introduction because I also felt, perhaps "smug" as you say, about my parenting, until my second child came along. You write that your "daughter abruptly changed into a regressive, demanding, unreasonable - and very confused and needy - little girl." I also "hardly recognize her, or myself as a mother." Your words resonate with me.

So I would like to thank you for sharing that. As mothers, it helps to hear about others' not-so-perfect experiences to keep us feeling that there is hope we will get through these uncontrollable times; and so we can enjoy the precious moments in between, before they slip quickly by.

So I've already gotten something out of your book but I look forward to hearing more from you and the other parent voices in there. The Table of Contents offers promising phrases like 'Reinventing Time Out,' 'Whining,' 'Temper Tantrums,' 'Sometimes it's Just "No",' 'Problem-Solving Instead of Power Struggles,' 'Changing Development, Changing Discipline.'

Now I'll try to get a few more pages read before one of my girls wakes up!

A Mommy Relieved

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Artistic Literacy

Some books are works of art! Last weekend we received one of these from a dear family friend. It doesn't have any words except for a few animal sounds. Even the cover (if I can get my daughter to stop taking off the dust cover) is just one stunning image - the face of a majestic lion.

The artist, Jerry Pinkney, tells a story with his artwork. The simple yet meaningful story of 'The Lion and the Mouse.' My daughter loves animals so there's plenty to talk about. And the lack of text means we take our time on each page, exploring the details of each one and talking about what is happening. For the past few nights, my husband has been reading it with her at bedtime. After lights are off and I lie down for a few mommy-cuddles as she falls asleep, my daughter whispers (with hand gestures) her recollections of the story. 'Nibble, nibble, nibble... the mouse nibbles... snap... the net breaks... the lion can get out... baby chews on mommy's tail... lion gonna eat the mouse?... let him go...' Over and over again as she processes it. It happens to also be a great story, with the tiny mouse being able to help his big friend. (My daughter is very into 'big' and 'small' right now.)

I love that this book shows that a story can be told without words. And we will definitely have to look for more Pinkney art. A Google search reveals that his work will be at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge in a couple of weeks. We'll have to make it out there!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oh Vygotsky!

In grad school, my professors made sure we knew all the important (relevant) theories and theorists like they were good friends. It worked. Even now I think of them. Lev Vygotsky's theory on Social Development states basically that children learn through interactions with others. While siblings learn from each other no matter their age difference, I think it's going to be pretty fun for my girls to be so close (15 months). Right now, at almost 2 years and at 7 months, they are probably the most different, developmentally, than they ever will be again. And it's fun to watch them begin to interact.

The big one opened a box of pegs and began stacking them one upon another. At first the little one was content to just grab a peg in each hand and suck on those (learning through actual hands-on experience - Piaget - but that'll be another day). But when she saw her sister stacking them, she decided she needed those. When mommy wouldn't allow it, she squealed loudly. Mommy stacked some for her and then the big one decided that those were more desirable (of course!) and when mommy again stepped in, the big one now squealed. So we've got the big sister learning that she needs to share her toys, and the little sister learning that if she squeals, mommy will jump in and make her happy (for now). Well, when they are a little older, I'll have to let them figure things out without me. For now, one is much too much stronger than the other.

On a side note, during this interaction, I had the random thought that "Oh Vygotsky!" was a nice alternative to a curse in times of frustration (as when moderating between two very stubborn little girls). Fun to say and fine for little voices to repeat!

Holiday Snail Mail!

So I think it's now officially okay to think about Christmas! Well, maybe not quite, but at least Halloween is over and I do love the Christmas season (yes, it can be a season!). I do though, have a dilemma. In Colorado we had no problem taking snowy family pictures for Christmas cards, but here in Massachusetts..... that might be hard to do!

For the past three years, we've sent out photo Christmas cards from Shutterfly. I've got them laid out in our scrapbook and it's fun to see the family grow. The first year we have a bunny. The second year we have our dog Ella and I'm pregnant with our first. The third year we have our almost one-year old daughter and I'm pregnant with our second. How quickly things change! (We sent photo cards for birth announcements too but those are on a different page of the scrapbook, and it'll be a while before we're sending out those again!)

So I still have some time to browse designs...

This one is sweet and isn't specific to Christmas which is nice for sending to all friends and family. Of course it would be cuter with a picture of our girls but getting them both to smile together is a trick!

There are lots of pretty and cute ones. I guess it's a good thing I like to start early! Hm.. and maybe now that we have two little ones captured in oh so many photos (mommy has a busy clicker-finger), we should make some calendars for some family members. Let's see!

I like to get the traditional holiday image cards as well but it's nice to have photos of loving friends and family hung up one by one as they arrive via snail mail (oh the joy in getting interesting snail mail during this time of year!). I'm sure the girls will want to look at them all again and again.

Love this season!

*Thanks to Shutterfly for providing 50 free cards.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween & Diwali

We decided (it sounds better saying 'we' than 'I') not to get into Halloween this year. While it seems a much stranger holiday from my now grown-up perspective, we'll let that conversation slide and just leave it at - my little ones don't understand the whole dressing-up-as-something-else concept (and won't keep anything on for more than 15 minutes) and I was feeling motivated enough to put costumes together for my own satisfaction and in order to snap photos for friends and relatives (don't worry, we've taken some nice Fall leaf fun photos instead!).
We were not however holed up at home with all the lights off on Halloween night as we drove up to Maine to visit some friends for the weekend and ended up celebrating another holiday that involves lights and decorations - Diwali! This is an Indian 'festival of lights' and while the day itself has varying significance for different groups of people, for everyone celebrating, it is a day to celebrate LIGHT! More specifically, the inner light or true essence within each person. It's a lovely meaning and the celebration is very joyful with the making of sweets and brightly colored decorations and filling the house with many colorful lights.

There is a connection to my children here. My toddler has been very into our salt shaker lately, as I try to let her help more when I'm cooking. This means that either our food becomes very salty, or we find ourselves sliding around on the salt scattered across the floor. So I've been asking around for some alternative suggestions. Glitter is the obvious one but I wasn't ready for that mess yet. (The best suggestion I've received so far is sequins but we just haven't tried it yet!) And then we arrive at our friends' house to find crepe paper lanterns being made; lanterns that needed some sparkles! My daughter joined forces with another two-year old and they got sparkles everywhere (literally)! Glue stick and gold glitter and they were in heaven. The joy (and focus) on their faces was priceless.

Big thanks and lots of love to friends that know just what children like and how they can enjoy preparing for the holidays too! And Happy Diwali to all!