We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Friday, April 29, 2011

It Was Epic

Turning 29? Not so bad. Pretty sure I feel the same way about turning 30. 40? Eric might have to get me out of bed and get me dressed, but that's 11 years away, so why worry about it now?

I started celebrating the last year of my 20's with breakfast with my dad. He took the kids and I out for pancakes. Mmmm! Next up was the BMV to renew my license plates. Turned out I needed a new license as well. Good thing I had put on makeup to go out to breakfast. We got home and some friends came over with a cute necklace/earring set (that I wore out to dinner later and that Cate is wearing in the picture below with my cake), my favorite wine (Emeri sparkling sauvignon blanc), and my current favorite ice cream (Jeni's Salted Caramel-- comes from Columbus and made with milk from local cows).

The middle of the day saw a bit of a hiccup. Cate's been complaining of her ear hurting for a couple of days. I took her in today and she's got a doozy of an infection in her right ear and a moderate infection in the left. But doesn't she look so darn cute in her ballet costume (picture taken yesterday)?
Brennan ended his pooping-strike while we were at the doctor's office and I ran out of wipes (wet paper towels to the rescue). We came home (after picking up Cate's medicine) and took it easy.
My in-laws came over to watch the kids later that night. Eric and I went to check out Senate where we had some awesome gourmet hot dogs and truffle fries. Eric also got me this. In red. I'm not a self-conscious kind-of girl when it comes to body image. Never really have been. I love the vintage styling of this suit and can't wait to wear it all summer long! It looks pretty fab on.
We came home for some cake-- Boston Cream Pie actually. Cate blew out my candles. The kids went to bed and we enjoyed Michael Scott's last day at Dunder Mifflin and Jack Donaghey's flute-playing skills.
Oh, and on the way home from dinner, God gave me a rainbow.
And....the winner of my Amazon giveaway? Commenter #13, Tina. Congratulations Tina. I'll email you at the email address you left to see if you'd prefer the instant gratification of emailing you the gift card or if you'd rather get it via snail mail.
Happy Weekend friends! I feel like I've been blogging a lot lately. Probably because both kids have actually been going to bed!

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Loving One More?

I'm linking up with Shell today for Pour Your Heart Out.

Today's topic is one that I've thought a lot about now that I have two children-- one of each gender. I read this post a couple of weeks ago. It was one mom's confession of why she thought she loved her son just a little bit more than her daughter. A lot of it had to do with the vastly different birthing experiences she had with each of her children. If you read the post, read the follow-up here.

The thing is-- I get what she's trying to say. I wouldn't say I love Brennan more than Cate or Cate more than Brennan. I love them equally, but I love them differently. My husband and I even had a discussion about this after I read that post. He feels the same way. Through our discussion, I kind of came to the conclusion that it mostly comes down to gender (though not all, because I realize parents of children that are the same gender probably feel like they love them differently too).

Cate is a lot like me. And while it's important to be her parent and not her BFF for the next couple of decades or so, I hope we'll eventually grow to be friends as she transitions into an adult. Much like the relationship my mom and I have.

(shooting bubbles with her bubble gun)

I talk to my mom just about every day. Sometimes it's just for a minute or two. It was a habit we got into when I was pregnant with Cate and she'd call to check on me. But even before that, I talked to her a few times a week. We're friends. I value her opinion and advice. Though there were moments as a teen in which I thought I hated her, at the end of it all, I realized she always tried to do what was best for me and it's probably why we get along so well now. No matter how many girlfriends Cate envelopes into her own life, I hope she'll make a place for me when she becomes an adult.

(tap costume preview)

But Brennan? He's a little different. He will grow up and I hope we are friends too. But I know that I will not always be the number one woman in his life (and I shouldn't be). I hope he'll want to talk to me and that he'll value my opinion and advice, but ultimately, I hope he finds the kind of love I have with his Daddy-- I hope he meets a woman that exceeds anyone I could imagine being his partner for life. And I think that's why I love him differently. Because I know that even though the day is far away, the day will inevitably come where the leading lady role is fulfilled by someone else. In fact, this post puts what I feel into words quite well.

(holy cow-- when did he get big enough to sit in an exersaucer)

And Eric feels the same way, but opposite, y'know? He knows he won't always be Cate's leading man, but he hopes and prays that he and Brennan are always good friends-- that they can catch a game together, or go have a beer together, or exchange regular emails or phone calls.

So that's why I feel that while I love my children equally, I also love them differently. Not more, just different.

~Melody :-)

PS...Tomorrow I turn 29 for real (as opposed to turning "29 again," though I think I'll be one of those women that fully embraces 30 the way I've fully embraced the strands of white hair I've found on my hair instead of running to the salon for highlights and color). So my giveaway will be closing with a winner announced on Friday. Comments for the giveaway will close somewhere around 4:23pm (EST), the time I came into this world. So go. Enter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Be a Shutterfly

I love, love, LOVE, love Shutterfly! I recently decided to make a photobook for each year of my kids' lives. But since Cate is already 3, I had some catching up to do. Her third year book arrived just before her third birthday.
Her first year book is made (just need to order it)and her second year book is in the works. Then I'll be all caught up and can focus on her fourth year book and Brennan's first year book (thus far since the year isn't close to over for either of them). I plan to make them as we go through the year from now on so the task isn't so overwhelming. And I find this a great alternative to scrapbooking because I'm not a scrapbooker. At all. It's expensive, frustrating, and time-consuming (in my own opinion). I know you can create beautiful ones; I just don't have the patience. But photobooks? Those I can do. And Shutterfly's new custom path even has little embellishments to give it more of the scrapbook-y feel. But I digress.

We also got our Christmas cards through Shutterfly this year. But did you know they do other cards? Like Mother's Day cards? Or birth announcements?

Spring is in the air-- which means so is my birthday (my Amazon giveaway closes that day), Mother's Day, and the birth of several of my friends' long-awaited babies. Shutterfly is celebrating spring's arrival by giving bloggers a chance to get 50 free cards. Sign up and get some cards to help usher in spring.

~Melody :-)

For writing this post I will be compensated with either a free 8 x 8 photo book or 50 free spring cards from Shutterfly. Did I mention that I love them?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rice, Rice, Baby

Who got their first taste of rice cereal on Easter Sunday?
Little man! Considering it was his first time eating with a spoon, he took to it all like a natural. I mixed 2 tablespoons of breast-milk with 1 tablespoon of cereal and there was very little left over.
And not too much on his bib either. The kids both enjoyed their Easter baskets. The Take the Cake game you see in Cate's is awesome! Totally worth it if you have a kid 3 years old or older. My cupcake-lovin' sweet girl thinks it's the best thing ever.
We spent our Easter Sunday enjoying a great service at church in which a neuro-scientist and former agnostic shared how he came to believe in the resurrection, the cornerstone of Christian salvation. Cate and Brennan looked as adorable as ever in their Easter outfits. We came home, took a nap, snacked on some Easter candy, and then headed out to Eric's stepdad's sister's house. Some of his family had never seen Brennan before. We got one family picture (like my new mom-haircut? I don't even need to use a brush when I blow it dry).
Brennan loved on his new teething toy all day. He knew just what to do with it. We have to help him get a grip on it (he's almost there with the whole knowing-he-has-hands thing). But once he's got it in his hands, he brings it right to his mouth.

We also brought this home from our Easter celebration:
Eric's stepdad's father is a talented woodworker and made this babydoll cradle for Cate. It's the perfect sleeping spot for her Bitty Baby, Baby Annie.

It was a Happy Easter indeed.

~Melody :-)

PS...Still a few days to win an Amazon gift card.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eggs! And a 4 Month Update.

Yesterday we got together with some friends to dye Easter eggs. Cate loved coloring her eggs with friends.
She stuck stickers, wiggle eyes, and puff balls on them later.I asked her the other day if Brennan hatched from an egg. She told me "no, he came from your belly, where your scar is." I'm pretty thankful for that scar. Until she's really ready for "the talk," it suffices as a great way to explain how Brennan came out of me.

Speaking of Brennan, he's 4 months old today!
Time is flyin' by! I'm about halfway through this maternity leave. And while we've tightened up the budget a lot to make up for my not working temporarily, it's been one of the best decisions we've ever made. I'm excited to get back to work. In August. It's been a blessing to stay home with my kids (though hard at times) and not have to think about piling on grading, pumping, parent meetings, etc. on top of adjusting to life as a family of 4. All things I'll be ready to handle in a few months when Brennan and Cate are just a bit older.

He sits quite well in his Bumbo seat now. And is holding onto objects better. We think he knows his hands are attached to his body, but he just isn't sure how to control them/reach for things.
Today we had some more Easter fun. The weather lately has been wet, to put it mildly. We took advantage of a break in the rain and hit 25 eggs around our yard for Cate to find. Guess what game I'll be playing all week with Cate? Only we have about 5 times as many eggs now.
We decided at the last minute to head to a downtown egg hung. Where it poured down rain right as the hunt began and stopped as we were walking back to the car. My grandmother (mom's mom) and uncle (mom's brother) also came over for a quick visit this morning to give Cate and Brennan some more Easter goodies.

As I mentioned in my last post, we've been trying to communicate to Cate that the Easter Bunny simply helps us celebrate Jesus' coming back to life on Easter Sunday. A friend of mine commented that they read/talk about the Easter story before they do baskets on Easter morning. I love that idea and think we'll be doing the same tomorrow and then heading off to church and a late lunch/early dinner with Eric's family.

Happy Easter!
~Melody :-)

PS...Amazon $10 gift card drawing ends Thursday-- click here to enter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Prep

Thanks to all of the wonderful women who stopped by in my last post. EC recommended a book that I'm definitely adding to my reading list. Motherhood should so be a sisterhood in which we share joys and struggles, not compete against one another for "mother-of-the-year" as Mrs. R said. Questioning ourselves and whether what we're doing measures up against other moms will only leave us feeling guilty. And guilt doesn't lead to any good places.

Don't forget-- Amazon gift card giveaway closes in less than a week. Winner announced a week from today!

We're in full-on Easter mode here. Yesterday I took Cate to see the Easter bunny. I wasn't about to pay $15 for one picture, so you're getting one that's a little off-center from my camera. I think it's just as good as what I would've paid money for. The bald head in the picture is not Brennan, but Cate's Bitty Baby (whom she's taken more of an interest in lately). Brennan stayed in the stroller. While he's definitely better, I don't want to expose him to anything unnecessary, which I figured I'd be doing if he sat on the lap of the Easter Bunny. I think I made the right decision given the number of runny-nosed, coughing kids that proceeded us in line.

Cate's been hiding the same 6 eggs around the house and having Eric and I go on egg hunts. She likes to tell us where they are: "Mommy, there's one in Brennan's Bumbo seat." I feel like this is the first holiday she's starting to "get." She kind of understood Christmas, but since I was in the hospital from 12/22-12/26 having Brennan, it wasn't a typical Christmas. We really haven't had a typical Easter either. Her first Easter, she wasn't even 2 months old and could have cared less. Her second Easter, she was recovering from a nasty stomach bug that left her dehydrated and caused her to end up in the hospital for a night on IV fluids. Last year she loved her basket, but didn't really "get it."

We've been trying to talk to her about the true meaning of Easter too. That the Easter Bunny and the goodness he brings helps us to celebrate was Easter is all about-- that Jesus died and then came back to life. A little over her head, but we want her to understand it's not all about egg hunts and candy.

Our church is helping people remember the true meaning too. This week they've offered a Holy Week Experience, where you can walk through all of the events from Palm Sunday to the Crucifixion. Sometimes as Christians, we become numb to the idea that Jesus died for us. It's something we gloss over once we're sure of our salvation. Yet it should be something to which we cling. Our salvation wouldn't exist if God had chosen to take away Jesus' pain and purpose, if He had decided that his Son didn't need to bear all of the world's sin on a cross. We'd be pretty lost.

So on this Good Friday, we're going to dye some eggs with friends, talk a little more about the Easter story, and try to stay dry (it's been raining all week, I'm not even kidding...a little more Noah-ish around these parts than it is spring/Easter/almost May flowers). Tomorrow will be more of the same and then after church on Sunday, we'll be heading to dinner with family.

And I'm curious to those of you reading who care to respond-- do you celebrate Easter? How?

~Melody :-)

PS...Brennan turns 4 months old tomorrow! Where has the time gone? He will be getting a box of rice cereal in his basket in lieu of candy. :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Na-Na-Na-Na-Boo-Boo, I'm a Better Mom Than You

Not really. Not even close. But I figured I'd do a Pour Your Heart Out post about a topic that's bugged me off and on since before Cate's birth-- mom-petition (kind of like competition, just with moms). But before I get into that, you have 8 more days to enter for a chance to win $10 to Amazon.

When I was pregnant with Cate, I got on our local mom's message board a lot looking for answers on how to "do" this whole mom thing. After her birth, I continued to seek this out. I learned that moms fit into all different kinds of categories-- crunchy/granola, SAHM (stay-at-home), working moms, attachment parents, and the list goes on.

And then I started questioning everything. I didn't fit into any one category. Was I wrong to work? Was I right about eating/feeding Cate organic food? Should we be co-sleeping?

So I quit. I quit trying to figure out what kind of mom I was and just started being a mom. I check in on the message board from time-to-time though. Mostly if I'm looking for specific information, like getting Cate to stay in her bed at night (she usually only gets up once now, which is a big improvement from the 2-4 times she'd be up each night a few months ago).

I happened to pop in on a day when one of the hot topics was extended breastfeeding. The discussion thread was sparked by a scene in the movie Grown Ups where a four-year-old is still breastfeeding. The poster wanted to know if this really happened and why some moms did that. The extended breast-feeders explained why they chose to extend breastfeeding into their child's toddler and pre-school years. The non-extended breast-feeders launched an attack, calling breast-feeding beyond 18 months (most) or 2 years old (some) gross and non-beneficial at all. Judgments flew all over that message board. Even though the extended breast-feeders were answering the question the original poster posed, those not in agreement came down hard on them (which had nothing to do with the discussion's original intent of why do some moms choose to breastfeed for so long).

And really, I feel like motherhood is full of these kinds of attacks and judgments. The SAHM vs. The Working Mom. The cloth diapers vs. disposables. Breast-feeding vs. formula. Potty-train at 2 vs. potty-train at 3. TV vs. no TV. Co-Sleeping vs. Sleep in own bed. Cry-It-Out vs. Soothing baby's every cry.

As moms, we want to feel not just like we're doing a good job with our kids, but that we're doing the best job. We want to feel like we're better than every other mom out there. But can I be honest? You're not the best mom out there. Neither am I. No mom is. But we are the BEST at knowing what to do BEST for our families.

And because of that, I'd like to challenge the momma's out there to let go of the labels you hold onto or desire. It's so freeing. Once I gave up the mom message board, stopped reading the blogs of mothers that made me feel like I was failing because I wasn't doing exactly what they were doing, and let go of labels (and just started calling myself "mom"-- no prefix or suffix or other type-descriptor needed), I felt so much better. I was doing what I knew to be best for my family. Whether you have 1 kid or 10, no one's got this whole mom thing completely figured out. One mom's strategy might be another mom's stress. It's great to share what works for you, but don't expect anyone else to think it's THE way to mother.

It sounds idealistic and all peace-love-and-sunshine, but I really do think if as moms we channeled the time and energy we spend judging others and questioning ourselves into building one another up and encouraging one another, we'd see a lot less hostile message board threads. And maybe more moms would feel like they're doing a better job. I know some moms out there that struggle a lot with guilt and wonder if what they're doing is best for their kid(s). And I want to say to them, let go of that guilt-- you are doing a FANTASTIC job.

~Melody :-)

And some pics (about a month old, but new to the blog):
Sidenote: As a teacher, I see students that have been raised in all different ways-- by SAHM's, working parents, single parents, in crunchy homes, in TV-as-babysitter homes, in big houses, small apartments, that didn't go to preschool, that did go to preschool, etc. By middle school, they're all more or less the same-- punky and squirrely. :-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's Been

It's been:
  • One month exactly since Cate had an accident (while awake) in her underwear. I'm so proud of her. We keep her in a pull-up at night, but she wakes up dry most mornings. We'll probably transition to underwear soon.
  • Over 72 hours since we've had to take Brennan to an urgent care or pediatrician. He still coughs from time to time, but slept in his own (albeit slightly inclined) bed last night (well, his bed in our room, he hasn't moved in with big sis yet and probably won't for a couple more months). He rarely wheezes or sounds like a crackly radio.
  • A while since I gave my blog a facelift. What do you think?
  • Almost 4 months since I went on maternity leave. This is the longest period of my life that I have not worked since my sophomore year of high school when I started my first regular job at a local retirement center. Before this maternity leave, my maternity leave with Cate (which was about 10 weeks) was my longest non-working time. Before that, it was the six weeks I didn't work after breaking my elbow. My jobs in college were very part time (like 4-6 hours a week), but I worked every year I was there. I'm still coaching our Power of the Pen team though. We have four students going to the State tournament in a month. I just resumed coaching duties last week. It felt great to be back in the classroom and reaffirmed that I made the right career choice and am not crazy to want to go back in August.
  • A trying spring so far with our roof. New leaks continue to spring up. A roofer has confirmed hail and wind damage. Our insurance company will probably try to fight and say that our roof is old and "non-recoverable." Either way, someone's going to be paying for a new roof. I'd love your votes (click here) to become an editor/reviewer for HopScout. It's not a ton of extra income, and I'm kind of a longshot, but I'd use my earnings if given a position to literally put a non-leaky roof over our heads. If you could share that link through your own blog, tweet, or Facebook, you would so rock my world. I'm not sure if you have to have a Facebook account to vote.
No matter what though, God is good. My husband recently shared with me that our lives are not a series of peaks and valleys (where we have our highs of good things followed by the lows of bad things), but rather parallel train tracks. We can have the good and the bad at the same time. All of it builds character and faith. We're living that right now with our kids' health and steady improvement right alongside our leaky roof.

Cate asked to hold Brennan earlier tonight. She does this every few days or so. Not that she totally ignores him on the other days-- she tickles him, sings to him, tries to interact with him. She just doesn't always ask to hold him. I had to take a picture. My phone was the only thing readily available.11 more days to enter my 600th post giveaway. $10 to Amazon is up for grabs!

How has it been for you lately?

~Melody :-)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Spoke Too Soon

First, Amazon giveaway can be entered here ($10 gift card), comments close on 4/28, the day I begin my last year in my 20's.

Anyway, I spoke too soon in my last post. Brennan got a little worse. Okay, a lot worse. Tuesday afternoon he had a breathing treatment. It didn't work, but his oxygen level was decent, so the doctor sent us back home and told us to continue to be vigilant. He woke up yesterday totally happy with no wheezing or rasping and very little coughing. Then he got way worse. As in choking/gagging/coughing for a good hour last night. We ended up at Urgent Care. Thankfully, his oxygen level, while lower than the level he had the day before, still didn't warrant admission to Children's. And thankfully, we have awesome neighbors who came over at 9:30 at night and stayed until nearly midnight with Cate so we didn't have to pack her up and take her with us.

We had Brennan rechecked today. His oxygen level is in between where it was Tuesday and last night. So it's going up. The pediatrician said that with Bronchiolitis, babies usually get worse before they get better and that we were probably seeing the worst last night/today. She said the worst part comes around day 3 or 4, which would be last night/today since this all started going down Sunday evening/Monday morning. I'm hoping we're going to start seeing steady improvement. And I'm praying tomorrow doesn't bring a trip to the pediatrician or Urgent Care. 4 out of 4 days so far this week we've been at one or the other (at the doctor's advice, not out of paranoia).

Brennan looks like this right now:
He's to sleep in his carseat or papasan seat until he can go through a night without coughing. We put the cool mist humidifier close by. And we bought a battery-powered nasal aspirator for him (much better than the bulb, but not doing a whole lot since he doesn't have much clogging up his nose-- it's all in his chest). A gracious friend took Cate for a few hours today so that she could get a little attention (she tends to freak out and want to be held when B is in the midst of a coughing fit and I obviously can't hold her). Another gracious friend is taking her tomorrow for awhile. Her son is only a few weeks older than Cate and they are great buddies. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to just stay with B tomorrow and help him rest (and hopefully get some rest myself). I really have awesome friends!

It would be so easy to blame myself for B's illness right now. To say that I shouldn't have taken him with Cate to the Children's Museum twice in one week a few weeks ago. To say that I shouldn't have ventured out to the grocery store with him or brought him into the waiting room at Cate's dance class or let my friends' wonderfully loving kids get close to him (even though they've all been healthy). To say I didn't wash my hands enough, keep my house clean enough, etc. But the reality is, he could've picked this up anywhere. Eric or Cate or I could have all brought the RSV-causing Bronchiolitis into our home simply from being out in public. We have better immunities to fight it off. He doesn't. But he will. His immune system is learning how to fight. It's been a scary week, but in the end, we know he's going to be okay and recover from this. It just takes time. At no point has Brennan even dipped into the "seriously concerned" or "critical" stages. Feeling guilty for no good reason isn't going to make him better.

A pediatric oncologist that visited Eric's work actually said germs are good for babies. He wasn't advocating that you take your newborn to a germ-infested elementary school classroom and let every kid with a cold breath on your infant. Nor is he saying that you need to take your baby some place every day to get him/her out and exposed. But rather, he thinks it's important to continue living your normal life and bringing your baby with you-- even if it does expose him to germs because you have to leave the house and do things. Babies are born in sterile environments. Not leaving your home and perpetuating that sterile environment only hurts them when they're older. When babies and young children are exposed to germs, they learn how to fight them off and strengthen their immune systems. And yes, they should be at home when it's recovery and rest time. It's stressful for Mommy's and Daddy's to see their little ones so sick, but the majority of kids make full recoveries while a very, very, VERY small few need hospitalization to help them recover.

So we're giving the little guy extra snuggles and kisses and love. We're making extra time for Cate as well and constantly reminding her how proud we are of her for helping us take care of her baby brother. And we're hoping the weekend brings improvement and rest for us all.

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Little of This, A Little of That, and a Giveaway

Comments Closed-- Winner will be announced tomorrow 4/29/11. Thanks for entering!

Wow! Today marks my 600th post. I realize my life isn't really that interesting. That most of my blog posts are just little updates on our family from our corner of the Midwest. And really, I thought I would've given it up by now. But this blog has been a chance for me reconnect with people I know in real life, a platform for meeting new people via their blogs (even if I never meet them in person), and oddly therapeutic. So until it becomes a chose to do so, I'll keep blogging. If nothing else, I know there are a few family members that check-in just for the pictures-- reason enough to at least keep posting those. Speaking of pictures, how about a little of this: The advantage to living close the zoo and having a membership, is that we can go for an hour and not feel like we wasted money or gasoline. Sunday was beautiful-- temperatures in the high 80s and sunny! We went to the zoo for the last hour they were open and took some pictures among all of the bloomin' flowers.

I took over 100 pictures. So many turned out well. It's hard for us to decide which ones we want to blow up to hang up around our house. I know one will be this one though:
It's one of my favorites.

The crazy thing about going to the zoo though? Both of my kiddos were in great spirits despite being sick. I'm not some psycho-mom heck-bent on getting pictures on the one nice day of the week. Cate had strep throat last week and was pretty much on the mend, other than complaining her ear hurt. A weekend call to our pediatrician verified what I already thought-- she was already taking an amoxicillin, which should cover the ear if she had an infection. We were to call back if some Ibuprofen and over-the-counter children's decongestant didn't clear things up. Brennan had a little bit of a cough over the weekend. But he was eating, sleeping, and going through diapers just fine. Sunday night, we could hear a little more of the cough in his chest, so yesterday morning I took them both in (Cate was still complaining about her ear).

Turns out there was a nasty infection growing in her ear. She's on a new amoxicillin now and seems much better 24 hours in. Brennan was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis. The doctor said he was too little to give any medicine, but if his condition worsened (struggling to breath, not eating, not wetting/dirtying his diapers), we were to bring him back for a breathing treatment before heading to Children's Hospital for oxygen and possible fluids. Thankfully, God heard our prayers to protect sweet B, and while he got a little worse initially at home, he started to improve by yesterday afternoon. This morning he's not wheezing or purring (raspy breathing). He's not really coughing much either. We're still being vigilant and are planning to stay at home today and tomorrow (and the rest of the week if we need to), just to be sure his lungs and airways are able to heal. Please continue to pray for his recovery. The thought of a hospital trip freaks me out a bit-- especially after having made a few with Cate already in her 3 years.

And now...the real reason you're here. I thought quite a bit about what to giveaway. I don't have blog sponsors nor do I make extra money from advertisements. So no freebies there. A friend suggested something handmade. But when I think about the things I can make in a reasonable amount of time, they didn't seem like things people would actually want. If you really want some knitted dishcloths for your kitchen or a sensory blanket for your baby or something else that I've shared on here, just let me know. I like doing that kind of stuff. I'll make it for you.

So since my blog is pretty random and seems to cover "a little of this" and "a little of that," I thought I'd giveaway a gift card for somewhere that has "a little of this" and "a little of that." They have a little of everything. Amazon! We're on a budget though, so today's giveaway is $10 to Amazon. $10 goes further than you'd think on that website. And the best part? I can send the gift card electronically (unless you want snail mail) so you can use it as soon as you win. To enter, leave a comment.
For additional entries:
1. Follow this blog (click follow on the right) and leave a comment letting me know you follow
2. Link your blog or a Tweet or a Facebook status (or all three) to this post and leave a comment for each that you do.

Comments will close on my 29th birthday, which is April 28th, and I'll announce a winner the next morning.

~Melody :-)

**Amazon did not contact me for this giveaway. They did not give me any compensation nor provide today's gift card. I'm providing out of our own budget and the kindness of my heart because I love ordering from Amazon myself.

***I think Amazon would be in business whether I promoted them on my blog or not. :-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Post 599

I'll hit 600 posts the next time I write. And I think I've found a fitting giveaway. Because I like giving stuff away. I started this blog to keep out-of-town family and friends up-to-date on all things Cate when I was pregnant. Who knew it would grow to be such a wonderful way to capture our memories and be semi-therapeutic for me?

Anyway, we made it to the zoo yesterday. It was sunny and 70ish-- perfect weather!We had to ride the train first. They close in December, after the Festival of Lights, and it was supposed to re-open mid-March. However, it didn't reopen until the end of March. Cate was happy to take a train ride.
Some days I think she'd stay there all day. We got to sort-of see the new baby giraffe (less than a week old) and we checked out a few other animals. I managed a few great shots of Cate with the tulips just a bloomin'.
I didn't feel like getting Brennan out of the Boba to take any pictures. We're going back on Sunday, donning our Easter outfits, to take some family pictures. Look for those next week. I did snap this one of the little guy though:
My sweet girl wanted some ice cream at the zoo. The line was crazy long so we went to Baskin Robbins on our way home instead. I think Brennan sensed he would get to taste the Oreo goodness later. ;-)

And because our zoo is going green (they just installed huge solar panels in the parking lot), I decided to share about another way we're reducing, reusing, and recycling here at the Riggs house. Thredup is an online children's clothing swap. I've never been one to turn my nose up at hand-me-downs or consignment clothes, as long as they're in great shape. With Thredup, you "buy" a box of clothes for $5 +$10.95 shipping (they use flat rate boxes). The $5 essentially keeps the website running. Clothing swappers fill a box and list the boxes on the website. You can't see pictures of the clothes, but you can browse boxes and read descriptions of what they contain. I based my choices based on the clothing brands and seller ratings. I picked boxes in which the sellers were very descriptive and looked for descriptions that told me the clothes came from smoke-free homes. I had a $5 credit from our city's recycling program that I used. So I bought two boxes of clothes for about $25 ($5 for one box, the other was free with my credit and $10.95 shipping for each) and got all of this:
They're all clothes for Brennan for next winter. A pair of overalls, 8 pairs of sweats/track pants, 3 full sweats outfits, 9 tops, a pair of jammies and a pair of boots (not pictured). Oh, and two pairs of socks. Brands like Carter's, Lucky Brand, and Ralph Lauren. All in great shape! I was so pleased. I can't get that much for that amount at the consignment store. Brennan now has tons of play-clothes for the fall and winter. And I can use our clothing budget then to buy him a few nicer, new outfits. I think that's my favorite part of using a site like ThredUp or shopping consignment-- I get more for my money so the new clothes I buy can be nicer. Play-clothes will just end up dirty and stained eventually anyway.

Now, with ThredUp, you can only get 2 boxes when you first sign up. To be able to purchase more, you have to put some of your kids' stuff up there. That's why it's a swap. I just found a bin of Cate's 18 month clothes in the basement that I'm planning to put on there so that I can get more credits to buy a couple of boxes for her for the coming fall/winter. I just need ThredUp to send me my boxes (they send you the flat rate boxes, you post a description of what's in your box online, they notify you when someone buys it, you print out a shipping label and hand it to your mailman-- easy peasy). I love the idea of this swap-- check it out!

We're lying low today. The warmer weather is wonderful, but it's starting to bring out a bit of a spring cold in both of my kiddos and in myself. I'm skipping my yoga class tonight so as to not drip snot all over my mat or pass my germs around. A long, after-dinner walk is in store instead.

~Melody :-)

Stay tuned-- the next post is post 600, with a giveaway!