Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Clean Clean Clean - LMWL Week #?

First: A virtual giant bear hug for sharing your kind words on my last post.  I know it's totally normal to worry that you're doing it right as a first-time mom, but it was very reassuring to hear you all say it and share your fears and wisdom and experience - all of you who I feel ARE doing it so well!  

My friend Janna sent out this article that I thought was especially relevant.  Like the author says, when being a mom is your job, it's hard to come to grips with the fact that there is no job description or benchmarks you are assessed against.  You can't look to others to see if you're doing it right - The only one you can compare yourself to is yourself.  

"What if we stopped comparing to others and started just comparing to our past selves. “I am more patient this year than I was last year.” “I’m a better housekeeper this year than I was last year.”
“It doesn't matter if you’re THE best, it just matters if you are YOUR best.”

And I can say this:
- I am better at managing our day and being happy at the end of it than I was even 3 months ago.
- I am better at keeping up with the house than I was 6 months ago (just don't ask Tony...)
- I have kept my kid alive, and HAPPY!, for 8 months now.
- I am doing my best each day. (well, most days).  :)  
... and that's all that matters.  


7 Weeks to a Clean Home

Anyway, after a few weeks' absence, I finally had the chance to rejoin Emily of Imperfect's Live More with Less challenge.  This week, I tackled our master bathroom.  Much like our bedroom, it's back-of-the-house status leaves it as the last place that gets attention.  It's decently large, except there is only one sink.  There's a big closet, but I just wish they would have made it smaller and made a double sink instead.  The closet is convenient, but not as much as it would be if it were in the hall or somewhere more practical. 

The decor in there is sad and has remained unchanged since we first moved in.  The room gets cleaned, of course, but not as often as it should.  And the cabinets and closet in there were way too full of stuff we don't need.  I'm notorious for saving little lotion samples or hotel shampoos (I know, I know).  Luckily, I had done a big purge of stuff like that in my frantic nesting days before Harper was born, but over the past 8 months it's built back up again.

Here are some befores - again - it's not a pretty space.  It's really not even functional half the time.  But it's low on the priority list.

I could go on and on.  It's a mess, stuff is cluttery, and we have a sheet as a curtain.  (In my defense, the blinds in our kitchen recently broke, so we moved the bamboo shade that was in here into the kitchen.  We plan to frost the glass in here one day, hence the sheet for now...).  

One day, my dream is to frame out the mirrors.  See how the tub has mirrors on both sides of it (making it impossible to take a decent photo in here)??  I guess they were supposed to help make the space appear bigger, or maybe someone just wanted to see themselves bathing 1,000,000,000 times to infinity.  I don't know.  But it's ugly and I just don't know if it's worth taking them down.

The trim needs painting, especially the doors.  The light fixture is so dated.  

It's all blah - but I tried to not let that get me down and spent a naptime fixing what I realistically could.

I emptied all of the drawers and the under cabinets.  I organized and threw out anything expired or sticky or stupid.  

As I sat there looking at that terrible shelf next to the sink, I thought about all of the times I have searched for a medicine cabinet at a thrift store- to no avail.  I thought about ways to add sides to that shelf thing to make the stuff less visible.  Then I had the epiphany I should have had 5 years ago - take it down.  

Needs some wall decor and a little personality now...

Brilliant!  Only a few things on it are used daily, and those would all fit into the two little drawers with some rearranging.  The rest could go in a basket under the sink.  Yes, we might have to bend down (the horror!) to retrieve these things when needed.  But it would be ok.  And I threw out the banana clip. 

The closet was in decent shape, but I still threw away a big bag full of junk.  There is actually room to spare in here now - and I'm fighting the urge to fill it with something   I will let the space breathe for now.

And of course the room got a good cleaning.  Towels were changed out and floors scrubbed (except the shower, don't look there).  

Side note - Anyone else with contacts have the hardest time keeping counters cleaned??  The solution gets everywhere and leaves them sticky.  We even have a little tray to keep it corralled, but SOMEONE doesn't care and gets solution everywhere.... It's a losing battle.

I ignored the other bathroom for now.  (and the mirrors, apparently.)

A clean bathroom is such a nice thing.  I'm going to try to keep it this way for at least 48 hours.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Clubfoot Files: Buying Your Own Shoes

Harper has some fancy new shoes!  It's totally normal to buy an 8 month old $200+ shoes, right?? :)

Here's how we decided to order shoes ourselves and a followup on her progress at the end of the post.

I've had a few people stop by this blog who are also dealing with clubfoot in their little one (hi!), so I'm writing these Clubfoot Files to share what we are going through and what we are learning.  I know I like reading other parents' blogs about it - the more info you can arm yourself with, the better!  It helps to hear what real people are going through.  If this isn't your cup of tea, feel free to skip this post. I'll keep posting about other stuff here too. :)

After 7 months in a very small AFO shoe size (00), she was finally ready to move up to the big single 0 size (ha!).  My baby has tiny feet, which is fine by me.  I wear a size 9.5-10, and I can assure you, there are rarely any cute shoes whatsoever in this monster size.  More normal sized feet would be great.

Harper's toes had been creeping up over the edges of her old shoes, but our doctor told us we could wait until her toes were officially curling over the edges to get new ones.  So we waited until our scheduled 7 month check with the doctor to get new ones.

See something awesome about the new ones?  They are pink!!  I know, I know, NOT a big deal.  But when your kid has to wear ugly orthotic footwear, it helps if they have a little character.  They recently started making the shoes in blue and pink, in addition to the typical gray.  Harper only wears hers while she sleeps now, so it's not like anyone seems them anymore, but it would have been nice to have a fun pink while she was wearing these 23 hours a day.  And I get to appreciate them now, so that's good enough for me (plus, there was no extra charge for a little color!)

Since this is her second pair, we opted to buy them ourselves instead of going through Children's Ortho and insurance.

I will say - I would not take the DIY route for your very first pair.  It was INVALUABLE to sit in the Children's office that first day she got her brace and have the orthotist explain everything to us, measure her extensively to find the right fit, and get the shoes that same day.  The orthotist called us to follow up and was so amazingly informative and friendly.  Even if we had to pay full price for those first shoes, I would still go that route for the first pair.

Yet buying them ourselves made so much sense for the second pair, in our particular insurance situation.

Here's why:

  • The company MD Orthopaedics makes the AFOs/bar that our office uses anyway. Yet you can buy shoes directly from the company yourself, without any prescription or insurance info.
  • We knew exactly what size we needed.  Although they offer help on gauging the size you need, we didn't have to worry we were getting the wrong one.
  • MUCH cheaper!  Everyone's insurance situation is different, but we have a $500 deductible, and then pay 20% after that up until our personal/family limits.  Last year, we had hit our max just by me giving birth, so it didn't matter that the shoes cost $1600 from Children's, since insurance covered it all.  Yet this year, luckily, we so far haven't gotten close to even our deductible, since Harper's well visits are covered anyway and we haven't had any sickness yet (things could change, of course, later in the year).  We would have had to pay $500 (the deductible) for the shoes, plus 20% after that (I think - ask Tony...).  So, while it probably wouldn't have cost as much as $1600, since we are able to use the same bar and only needed new shoes, it would have still been at least $500 to go through our doctor. 
  • MD Orthopaedics charged us $237.60 for the shoes, $7 shipping, and gave us a $12 discount for using a credit card.  Total $232.37.  MUCH better!  We got the pink pair, they had great customer service, and the shoes arrived in less than a week.

I would definitely recommend going this direction if you are in a similar situation.


I mentioned we had our followup doctor's appointment, marking 3 months of nights/naps only brace wear.  I was convinced the doctor would see Harper's great progress and we would be given the all clear for 12 hours (night only) wear.  Well, that didn't happen.  But it's ok.

Harper's foot looks great (yay!) and the doctor again reassured us that all was right on track.  Our next test will be to see how she does once she starts walking, to see if she puts weight on it incorrectly or walks on the outside of her foot.  But until then, it's smooth sailing.

I asked about reducing her time to just nights, instead of nights and naps (meaning going from 16 hours to 12).  She referred to it as "an experiment that's not worth trying."  I understand.  

As much as I want it to be more convenient for me, it's just not worth a relapse.  My doctor seems to be a little more conservative in terms of her approach, which, honestly, I prefer.  I hear of people doing away with the brace entirely at age 2, and that scares me just a little.  Each case is different, of course, and I feel it's important to trust your doctor.  But my doctor believes in brace wear whenever she is sleeping until she is 4-5 years old.  That seems interminable, but it's worth it for a lifetime of healthy feet.

So while we don't get to reduce our time, the doctor said she will gradually reduce the time just by the nature of dropping naps.  I'm continuing my approach of putting the brace on at bedtime at 7 and leaving it on through her first nap, ending at 11 am.  I know it would be better to take it off when she wakes, and then put it back on for her morning and afternoon naps, but that's just not practical.  However, since our appointment, I've begun taking the bar off right when she gets up and just leaving the shoes on while she's awake.  This way, I'm not hindering her development, but I'm not having to put the shoes on and off (the hard part) all day.  I told our doctor about this, and she was ok with it, so I am too.

2 things:
- I am grateful, every single day, that we are only dealing with clubfoot.  It's a foot - a simple foot - and something that is 100% treatable.  Sometimes I feel guilty about even writing about it or talking about it, since there is so much more we could be dealing with, that we are thankfully not.  I do want to share information, but I just never want it to seem like I am ungrounded in the severity and impact of this - it's mild compared to so much else and I think God we are so blessed.  It's not that big of a deal.

- It's irrational and silly, but I've been really worried about her development lately.  Part of me worries it's something I have done (or not done, really), and part of me wants to explain it away by the fact that she spent 6 weeks in a full leg cast, followed by 3 months in a brace 23 hours a day, and now 16.  Harper is 8 months old today and has rolled over just 6 times (yes, I'm counting, ha!) and shows very little interest in becoming mobile.  She sits really well, and has quite strong legs, but doesn't really care to move.  No scooting, no wiggling.  I know most moms out there are laughing, thinking that I need to appreciate the immobility before it becomes forever changed.  And I know that each child develops differently.  Harper is quite chubby, and it's a vicious cycle because that keeps her from moving, but the not moving keeps her plump!  And it's ok.  I know it's ok.  I know she will get there on her own timeline and everything will be totally fine.  I just wanted to share - I know it's somewhat normal to worry and probably a normal feeling for other clubfoot moms, but there it is.  I'm a crazy person.  And I love Harper and think she's perfect just the way she is - it's more about me, worrying if I'm doing it right, if that makes sense?

Anyway, that's where we stand in the clubfoot adventure!

[I think it's pretty obvious, but these opinions and this recommendation are all my own.  I just wanted to share a company that we were happy with - they don't know I exist beyond my order a few weeks ago!]

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Over the Hump

That's how I feel: over the latest hurdle and ready to move on.

Today I took another big, impossibly both vague and specific, standardized test to add Early Childhood to my teaching certificate (I already hold middle grades and reading). It wasn't hard, but it's one of those that could contain questions about anything you could do between pre k and 5th grade - ya know, nearly everything. I've spent the last few weeks making Harper's nap time count by studying the water cycle and Native American tribes and decoding strategies and gym rules and dividing fractions. Basically all review, but a time-consumer nonetheless.

So I feel like I have all the time in the world again- where I don't have to feel guilty every time I'm reading for pleasure or organizing a closet or ... Blogging. Basically anything but productively studying.

I have big plans for this week: major spring cleaning and catching up on following along with Imperfect's weekly decluttering. I'm going to do something crafty. I'm going to Target alone to try to find some spring basics (with help from a gift card I've been hoarding since December ). I want to maybe go swinging again with H if the weather warms up.

Anyone else lamenting this little chilly hiccup on the path to spring? (Oh yeah - everyone. )

I feel free again and want to capitalize on this energy!

Monday, March 11, 2013

New at the Zoo

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Random updates, inspired by iPhone pics:

- I have spring fever - bad.  This weekend it was in the high 60s/70s and sunny, and now I just want to throw all of my sweaters in the attic and trade my boots for flipflops.  The trees are all blooming here, bulbs are coming up, and you can just sense winter lifting.

Our peach tree blooming (and out of focus)

$1 wheat grass from the farmer's market
- Harper is growing like crazy!  I swear she had a growth spurt this week (but without the night waking that we experienced during previous spurts- yay!).  Her clothes are all of the sudden too small and we had to raise her bouncer and exersaucer to the higher levels.  I'm officially retiring the 6m clothes in favor of 9m.  For some reason, this was just as hard as putting away the newborn stuff.  But it had to be done.  I picked her up from the church nursery yesterday and her little jeans were unbuttoned and unzipped, with her fat little belly rolling over.  The volunteer told me it was probably time to retire those.  I swear they fit that morning when I first put them on her!!
She's big enough to ride in the baskets now! Yay!

Graduating to the big girl stroller too! 

- Harper is also in Habit Breaking Boot Camp Day 1.  She sucks on her first two fingers on her left hand constantly.  I'm ok with this, since she won't take a pacifier, and it certainly helps her self-soothe and go to sleep so easily (she's still sleeping 11.5 at night, with two 2 hr naps and a catnap in the evening!! woot!).  So I'm not out to make her quit that.  However, from the time when she first started eating solids she started sucking on her fingers while she eats.  Like, she will pull them out for a bite then jam them right back in.  It's ridiculous.  She uses them to help her swallow.  I'm pretty sure this is not ideal.  Also, it makes a royal mess.  But when I try to hold them down, she cries and acts like she's choking (she's not.), and eventually the other hand goes in.  Since I don't have two hands for holding her down and an extra for feeding, I have to be creative.  Today we started by putting a sock on her hand.  It's making her so mad during feeding but I don't know what else to do.  I hate that it's teaching her not to use her hands, since I want her to learn to feed herself (she's definitely not there yet with the dexterity!), but perhaps I can break this habit and then start fresh...?

Bad habits.

But she's so cute while doing it!

Sock hand!

Angry, smearing sock hand green beans all over her face.
- We've been trying to eat healthy, replacing a lot of meat with veggies, beans, etc. I've been doing well on my daily activity too. It feels pretty good!

Sweet potato, kale, chicken sausage soup - so good!
(from a mag but kinda like this recipe)
- We signed Harper up for swim lessons for May! Tony's parents have a pool that I know we will be at often this summer, so I want to get her used to it all. Also, I didn't learn to swim until middle school, and birthday pool parties were my nightmare. Harper will be a swimmer! The only problem... I have to be in there too, requiring a bathing suit. Ugh!

- We have an appt tomorrow with the orthopedist - can't wait to see if her foot is still doing well and if we can reduce her time in the brace to nights only!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Live More with Less: Week 3

7 Weeks to a Clean Home

Ok... so I had good intentions this week for Emily's Live More With Less.  Truly, I did.  I was going to tackle the guest room/office, which is always a mess.  I was also going to post about it by Wednesday.  Neither happened.  Womp womp.

We went on a long weekend trip to see my family in Tennessee, and by the time that was over it was midweek already.  The bags we took are still sitting, unpacked, in our rooms...

I am not going to even post pictures of this room.  Since it's the least functional room in our house, it often becomes the dumping ground.  It's truly not that messy right now, but it's disorganized and I really want to repaint it and redecorate it.  Plus the dogs sleep on the bed in here at night and I just couldn't bring myself to really clean piles of fur (I know, eew.).  This room gets vacuumed and picked up when we clean the rest of the house, but that's about all of the attention it gets.  I really want to change that, but that's going to have to be a bigger project than just a week.  So stay tuned for what I do in here (but like always with me, don't hold your breath).  

One thing I knew I did want to do was "clean up" our desktop that lives in here (on which I am currently typing).  I have an iPhone and we have an iPad, and those are where I do most of my browsing time - reading email, blogs, fb, etc - but I am weird in that I HATE typing on those and can't really get into writing unless it's at this computer.  (which, side note, is why I have been TERRIBLE about commenting on blogs lately - I read all of your lovely posts right away, but sometimes it takes awhile before I actually sit down at the computer to comment!)

Thus the desk and desktop remaining.  Call me old fashioned, but even a laptop won't do.  Luckily, our computer is one of those 'everything in the monitor' kinds and it takes up little space.  But it does hold a lot - which was a requirement for me and my billion pictures saved.

So since the computer is in the office/guest room, I wanted to clean it up too.  I went about this by reorganizing my folders (I'm a compulsive folder maker, so it didn't take much).  I pared down my blog reading feed to just the ones I actually read and like - mostly that meant cutting out the ones that were inactive or were feed aggregators and the like.   

I also cleaned up my gmail inbox by cutting down the clutter.  I get lots of emails from companies each day.  Usually I just pass by these, but they are annoying.  Yet sometimes if I want to buy something, it's nice to go back in and find a coupon code.  So, I set a filter to send these straight to archive.  Easy enough, but this is what I did:

1.  Open the email, click on the dropdown arrow on the right, clicking Filter messages like this

2. Check Skip the inbox (archive it).  I also created a new label called Store Emails and added this label, so it would be even easier to find what I need in my archive later.  Also check the Apply to matching conversations box.

(someone's blog recently gave me the idea to do this, but I can't for the life of me remember who it was!! sorry if it was you!)

So now I get far less junk to filter through on my phone.  I also unsubscribed from many that I didn't want to get at all.

I also backed up all of my photos on the external hard drive, since I don't do that often enough.  

So, the room didn't get cleaned, but the computer did.  Better luck next week, (this week), when I'm tackling ... bathrooms!

Week 1: Our Bedroom
Week 2: Harper's Room
Week 3: Guest Room (sorta)
Week 4: Bathrooms
Week 5: Assorted Closets/ Laundry Room
Week 6: Outside
Week 7: Kitchen/Living Room (hopefully we will have finished up our big projects in there by then)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Seven Months!

My little baby is seven months old.  I'm not sure where this year is going.

But I do know one thing, baby girl has figured out how to smile for that camera!

[All of her weekly and monthly photos here]

More pictures, because I just can't help it:

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