Friday, September 26, 2014

I Don't Even Like That Girl

I really, REALLY love the song "Lead Me to the Cross". I don't even care which of the MANY Contemporary Christian Artists is singing, and seriously, A LOT of them have recorded this song. I love it all.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about the chorus:

Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out,
Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down,
Rid me of myself, I belong to You,
Lead me, lead me to the cross.

I especially have been focusing on the the "rid me of myself" part. It is an everyday struggle for me to relinquish control and give it to the Lord, to whom it really belongs. Sometimes, it is a battle I fight several times in the same day. I love the Lord. I trust the Lord. I want Him at the helm of my life. So why is it so hard to let Him?

When the Lord is in charge, when I'm committed to serving Him, I am nicer. I am more productive. I feel love and joy in ways that I just can't explain and don't even compare to when I'm steering the ship of my life. The trouble is, I'm a bit of a control freak.

But why do I want to be in control, when I KNOW just how much better it is when God has the reigns? Who am I, when I'm in control. I look in the mirror to see.

Oh, the mirror. WE ARE NOT FRIENDS. I know that girl looking back at me. It took me a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY long time to learn to love her. I do now, I love her. I love the kindness I discovered deep down in her heart. I love her endless creativity. The trouble is, no matter how much I love her, I can't seem to like her. Her kindness is buried within and her creativity is hidden behind the fear of sharing it. She has a constant need for approval, but she has trouble letting people in. Her heart is not hidden behind a brick wall, but a barbed wire fence. She is witty, but often uses her wit in a cutting and judgmental manner. When she feels she has been wronged she can be vengeful and mean. She's not so great at the forgive and forget mantra. She loves food a little too much.She's moody. She can be really condescending.

I DON'T EVEN LIKE HER. So why is it so hard to let go of her?

I know her. She's comfortable. I am her, after all. To give everything over to the Lord I have to step outside my comfort zone. I have to willingly walk into the unknown. The thing is, it is not unknown to Him. Recently, I was given an illustration. Take a piece of paper and draw a line all the way across it. Pick up a straw and look through it to see the line. You can only see a little bitty, teeny weeny, yellow polka dot...wait, scratch that last part. The point is, you can only see a very small, minute part of the overall line. The line is like a timeline of our lives. We can only see the day to day. A tiny piece of the overall line. God sees the whole line, though. He knows what is coming. He knows how to prepare me. The trials I face each day are his way of shaping me so that I am best suited for what is coming.I know that. And it helps, really. It's still a little scary to relinquish control.

I love the Lord. I get to know Him more a little each day. But I have a finite mind and will never understand all that he understands. That girl in the mirror? I know her completely. That's why she's so hard to let go of.

I'm working on it, though. Everyday. All day. Constantly.

Rid me of myself. Please.

I don't even like that girl.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lessons From Motherhood

The first nine months of it anyway.


I love being a mom. Even more than I ever thought I would. Most people don't know this about me, but I've always wanted to be a mom. Even through my tomboy stage. Even when I wanted to be the kind of world traveler that never settles down. Even when I wanted to write novels (I still kinda want to do that). Even though I would have denied it if you had asked me when I was younger, the truth is through every stage of my life I have held a secret desire to have children. In fact, when I was in high school a friend of mine had to have a medical procedure done to ensure her health that had a possible side effect of not being able to bear children. She cried at the prospect. I cried with her. I cried as her friend. I cried out of sympathy. And I cried for fear of it one day happening to me. I've wanted a lot of things over the years, my wants and desires have changed with each stage of my life in unpredictable ways, but my desire to have children never wavered. I sometimes questioned if it should happen or if it would happen, but I always wanted it. And now? I have a beautiful baby boy.

I am a mother.

Despite the fact that I have wanted this for so long, I still sometimes am blown away by that last part. I AM A MOTHER. I'M THE MAMA. Where's Mama? Right here, because, suddenly, I'm Mama. I'm the one who is supposed to mother. I'm in charge of this little life. I love it and it terrifies me.

See that is the thing about having wanted children all my life. I always dreamed about what it would be like.  Y'know, I thought about when they go off to school, when they need comfort, when they go on a first date, when they get their heart broken, when they have amazing accomplishments. It is a little like dreaming of being a soldier, even if it means going to war, but forgetting about going through boot camp first.

I never thought about the infant part. How hard it would be. What the challenges might be. I knew I'd be exhausted. I knew I would love my child. I did not know to what extent on either account. I'm not sure either state can be described with the limited ability of human language.

Nine months in and I'm still learning. I love it. And since many of my friends have become or are becoming parents themselves, I thought now might be a good time to share some of the lessons I've learned thus far. You might disagree, or not care. That's not really the point. As always this blog serves as a form of my own self expression and if you don't like it, too bad, so sad.

1. There is a reason child rearing is meant to be handled by both parents. It is a team sport. You have to be on the same side and help each other out. Having said that, I now think successful single parents are the closest thing that reality has to superheroes.

2. A lot of the things I thought about parenting before I became a parent were stupid. "You can always just..." "I'll never let my kid act like that." No, you can't. And yes, you will. Why? Because you must pick your battles. Some are more important than others. Some can be saved for another day. Others must be fought and MUST be won immediately. You'll know when it happens to you. In my house giving up the pacifier outside of nap time could wait until 8 months old, but kicking Mama during diaper changes had to be dealt with without delay. Drinking a bottle on his own? Negotiable to a degree. Throwing food? No, sir.

3. Other people will give you more advice than you can shake a stick at. Smile and nod. Just smile and nod. You can tell them off in your head, but do try to avoid doing it out loud. They think they are helping. Really, they do.

4. Other people will also try to tell you what your child is ready for. "Oh, he should be doing (insert arbitrary milestone activity that has nothing to do with mental, social, or physical development here) on his own by now." And might even try to force your child into it. Try not to strangle them. Even if they wait until you're not looking, and make you miss a "first" that, while arbitrary, was still important to you to see. They mean well. They don't realize they have just stolen a moment from you. He'll do it again soon and you can watch in supportive amazement then. As for the meddler, they think they've done you a great service. Even if it is through clenched teeth, say thank you and move on.

5. Love is not finite. Just when you think you couldn't love this small creature any more than you already do, something happens and more love flows forth from you. I didn't know human beings had such a capacity for love before parenthood. I understand God's love for us just a little better now. I'm not claiming to understand it completely, mind you, just to understand it better than I did before.

6. You can survive on a lot less sleep than you think. A lot less. A LOT less. And then your child will sleep through the night and you'll get used to getting more again. And then, one night, he'll get sick or have a nightmare and you'll be up all night again. And you'll survive. And you'll want to slap every person who tries to tell you how bad caffeine is for you.

7. Welcome to the "mommy wars". They are brutal and unforgiving. You didn't breastfeed? Wretch. Breast feeder? Attachment issues.You are using cloth diapers? Crazy Hippie! Disposables? Earth hater! You are going back to work?  You are shirking your motherly duties! Staying home? You are killing feminism!! In the mommy wars every decision you make will be wrong, someone else will always be able to do it better, and NOBODY wins. Nobody. A mom's best ally during the wonderfully difficult first days of motherhood are other mothers who understand what you are going through. Worst enemy? Other mothers who will tell you everything you are doing wrong. Learn who is who and stay away from the latter.

8. Not all wipes are created equal. Some are thicker (great for the especially gross moments). Some smell better than others (or at least less disgusting than what you are using them to clean up!). Some are wetter, or slimier. Prices vary greatly. I, personally, love Huggies Triple Clean. Partly because I can buy them at Costco in bulk and not worry about running out at the most inconvenient time possible. To each her own, though.

9. Not all diapers (disposables, I have no experience with cloth diapers. That's right, I must be an planet hater.) are created equal, either. And not each type or brand of diaper fits every baby. My son can't wear certain brands because he has a longer torso, and they don't fit him at all (he ends up with "plumber's crack"). While we started off LOVING Pampers Swaddlers, as he got bigger and started moving around more, I grew to really appreciate Huggies Little Movers with the double grip strips. Although, I sometimes use Pampers Baby Dry at night these days, because they do better to get through a long night. Wait. You mean you use two different types of diapers? You betcha. Anything to get the job done. I've joined both rewards programs and redeem my codes, too.

10. Consignment shops are awesome. You can sometimes buy kids clothes that have never even been worn, for less than half the original price. Worth it.

11. Nothing can distract your child long enough for you to get a potty break, or even brush your teeth, quite like Mickey Mouse. I have always loved Disney. I even worked at one of their stores years ago. LOVE Disney. Now that I am a mom and Mickey Mouse affords me a couple of minutes at a time to take care of my own needs, Flight of the Bumble Bee style, while teaching my son about primary colors, counting, letters, shapes, etc, that rodent is magic. Doc McStuffins with her check up song also helps us get ready for doctor visits.

12. Don't judge me for turning on our TV for 15 minutes a day. Unless we are watching Sports (I tuned in to the World Cup, my husband and I love to watch college football, and he loves to watch the Braves), I generally don't turn on the TV while my son is awake. Sometimes, though, if I have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it, I will turn on Disney Junior for 15 to 30 minutes to give me a few extra minutes to accomplish things. That's it. He only pays attention for maybe 2-3 minutes at a time anyway, so it never lasts long, and then I turn it back off.

13. We have read to my son multiple times a day, and again at bed time everyday since before he could sit up on his own. He is nine months old now and thinks books are the greatest things ever. They are toys to him. He LOVES reading time. Bed time stories are great, but we also generally have reading time each afternoon where I sit and read to him whatever he has pulled off the shelf (another favorite game of his). He giggles, he wants to touch the book, he loves to turn the pages (sometimes even before I'm done reading it). New books are such a treat for him. I love that.

14. Do not mess with nap time. Nap time is sacred. If you miss a nap, the whole rest of your day is shot. My child gets cranky and tired, but too tired to sleep. It's not good. And I miss the part of my day that offers me respite.

15. There is no job greater than that of being a mom. There is also no more difficult job that I know of. When people ask me how I feel about motherhood now, I say it is the best and hardest job I've ever had. I love it. That doesn't mean I couldn't use a break now and again. That's okay, too. It's okay to want to paint your nails, dry you hair, or watch a show you like (y'know the kind without cartoon animals as the main characters). It's okay. It doesn't make you a bad mom. It makes you  human.

16. It's okay to ask for help. My husband is GREAT with our son, and loves to come home and give me a break. He loves getting to spend time with our son after work and the fact that this gives me a little chance to rest is icing on the cake. Sometimes, though, we both need a break. We need to sit together and have adult conversation, with EACH OTHER. We need to call reinforcements. Again, it doesn't make us bad parents.

17. The first time your child gets sick you will completely freak out. No matter how prepared you are. No matter how calm and collected you normally are. When your child gets sick, your heart will break, your brain will go on the fritz and you will lose it. I mean LOSE IT. No other mother will judge you for this. In fact, you will probably get the pitiful "Aw, you poor thing. I've been there." look from them.

18. The first time your child gets hurt is the same. My son fell on his face. No, really, ON HIS FACE and got a black eye. I felt like the worst human being ever. Who lets their baby get a black eye? ME! That's who. My sister, mom to three boys, never missed a beat. She put a comforting hand on my shoulder and took a look at my son, saying, "That's gonna look nice. The first of many. He'll be fine." He was okay. It took a little more comforting on my part.

19. No matter how hard this phase is, it won't last. I'm tempted to quote every last lyric from "It Won't Be Like This for Long" by Darius Rucker. I liked that song before. Now it sends me to tears. In a good way. Teething? Sleepless? It won't be like this for long. One day soon, you'll look back and wonder how it seemed to last so long, and be over so quickly at the same time. You look down at them at nap time as they are still and quiet and all of sudden think, "How did you get so big? I used to be able to hold you in the crook of one elbow. Where has the time gone?"

20. Your house will never be completely clean again, and that's okay. At least once a day I have to clean up the play area. If I don't, the mess gets daunting. It doesn't matter how much laundry I do a day, how much I sweep, vacuum, or dust, part of my house will always be a disaster. The play area. My son's favorite activity right now is to pull all the toys and books off of his shelves, spread them around on the floor, and to generally make as big a mess with his toys and books as possible. During afternoon nap I try to put it all back where it came from. Otherwise, I look at it before I go to bed and think, "Nope, not worth it."

21. There's no place like home. Seriously. Traveling to see your family is great. Traveling to see your friends, wonderful. But there is nothing that disrupts your baby's sleeping habits quite like being somewhere new. At home our night routine for our son consists of bath time (a few times a week, not every night), teeth brushing, pajamas (and new diaper), hair brushing, story time, and then setting him in the crib, turning on his sound machine and leaving the room. He puts himself to sleep. However, when we are at someone else's house, or at a hotel, it NEVER goes that smoothly. I usually have to turn on his sound machine and rock him until he is so asleep his pacifier falls out of his mouth. And he usually doesn't sleep through the night when we travel either. Vacations are exhausting.

22. Put your child's name, or at least surname on EVERYTHING. Even if he is just going to the church nursery. Even if he is just going to a play group. Seriously. My husband's aunt and uncle gave us these labels that are dishwasher/washing machine safe that had our son's name printed on them. MARVELOUS. I can't tell you how many times it has saved his stuff from accidentally going home with someone else.

23. Toys that have been hidden away for a couple of weeks or months are just as good as new toys sometimes. I have a few of my sons smaller toys hidden away all the time. I keep them separate from his other toys and rotate them out every so often. I hide them in the diaper bag so when we go places, if he gets restless and needs a distraction, I pull one out. He is so fascinated by the "new" toy or so excited to see his old toy that it buys me a few minutes at a time.

24. Is baby fussy? Restless? Go for a walk. There is nothing that will calm my son down faster from a bout of whining than putting him the stroller and walking anywhere. It doesn't matter if it's around the neighborhood, through Target, all around our large church parking lot, it doesn't matter. Outside is usually better, but when it rains, seriously, Target will do. A $10 inflatable baby pool also helps. Let him splash around and get water all over the patio. He'll love it. Instant happiness.

25. Every mom thinks she is screwing it up at some point. You're not. I know it is hard to believe. I'm writing it and I still need encouragement on this issue. Really, though. You'll be fine. And so will your child. And if there are hiccups only the way, don't worry. You have to mess them up a little so they'll be interesting as adults anyway, right? Right?

There are many more things I could write here. A ton more. A myriad. Every day, every minute, I learn something new about my child, about myself, about life, about love. Some lessons are harder than others. Some are more wonderful. All are totally worth it. I've wanted to be a mom all my life. Now I am one. I wouldn't trade it for the world. If my younger self could see me now, she might not recognize me for all the changes I've been through in my life, but she would be elated that I have a child. And you know what? I am, too.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Breast IS Best, But BACK OFF!



There are a myriad of people who will not hesitate to tell you all about the numerous benefits to breast feeding. It is best for the baby and has some pretty great health perks for mom, too, including a decreased risk of breast cancer. Awesome. No, really, I mean that.

Doctors, scientific researchers, lactation consultants, La Leche League reps, other moms, and COMPLETE STRANGERS will tell you all about how formula is the devil and breast feeding is the only way to go. What makes this more unnerving are the nurses along the way who will swear up one side and down the other that every woman can breastfeed, and that those who are unsuccessful just aren't committed to it enough. 

I beg to differ.

My son is almost two months old and I desperately wanted to be able to breastfeed him. I knew that my sisters, as well as other, equally well respected, women in my life had experienced trouble in doing so. I knew that I might not be successful. I kept telling myself that it would be okay. If I could do it, great, if not, formula isn't the end of the world. The nurses at the hospital told me that was the wrong attitude to have. The nurse teaching the 7 week parent preparation course assured me that I would have no problems, I just had to be willing to stick it out. So I steeled myself the best that I could. Outwardly I told my friends and family that I wouldn't be heartbroken if I couldn't do it, but I wanted to try. Inwardly, I thought that was the truth. Until it happened.

While I was in the hospital, several lactation consultants and a slew of nurses tried relentlessly to help me. When my milk came in before I went home they were convinced I just had to stick it out, it was going to work. I was determined, but I had a small problem. My son would scream relentlessly during most of his waking moments. I didn't know what was wrong. He had a good latch. He had a strong (ouch!) suck. He wasn't tongue tied. What was wrong? Finally, one of the nurses from the nursery handed me a bottle of supplementation formula. 

Wait, I was told I just had to stick it out. I was told there was no reason a woman could not exclusively breastfeed her child. I was told it was a matter of will. This nurse disagreed. She recognized his cry and said he was still hungry. I had nothing left to give and my child was still hungry. What else could I do? So I gave him the bottle. And do you know what happened?

He stopped crying. He slept better. I felt horrible. My determination to exclusively breastfeed was starving my child. What kind of mother was I? What was wrong with me? So I continued to supplement with a bottle the rest of our stay in the hospital. And the lactation consultant rolled her eyes at me as if I were some kind of lost cause. She brought me a pump and told me to pump after every feed to increase my supply so I could stop supplementing. That mostly lead to sore nipples and about a quarter ounce, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

Then we went home. My supply continued to decrease and it became harder and harder to breastfeed at all. I was reduced to heaving inconsolable sobbing every couple of hours when it was time to try again. HEAVING. INCONSOLABLE. SOBBING. I have never cried that hard or that much in my life. And that, I'm ashamed to admit, is saying something. What was wrong with me? I thought I had prepared myself for this possibility. I thought I could handle it. Now, though, all I could think was that I was a giant failure as a mother. I wasn't enough for my son. My heart broke over and over again, but I had to put aside how I felt and focus on what he needed. So I kept supplementing and made an appointment with the lactation consultant at pediatrician's office. I hadn't met her yet and prayed that she didn't roll her eyes and tell me I wasn't committed enough, because if she did I might implode into a concentrated ball of white hot rage.

In the meantime, my sisters, my friends, and my mom all tried to comfort me. It happens. Some women have trouble. The nurses were wrong, not every woman can do this. You love your child enough to not let him suffer. He'll be just fine. Some of the sweetest, smartest, healthiest, most beautiful children I know were formula fed babies. It is not the end of the world situation they are telling you it is.

I rented a pump from the hospital to help, too. I had been using the hand pump at home, but needed the heavy artillery. Double electric, hospital grade, #1 trusted brand in America. This HAD to help, right? So I pumped. Every two hours. I ate the foods that are supposed to increase your supply. I drank more water than ever before in my life. I stared at my child while pumping. I smelled his head. I tried everything I had ever heard. I looked up more tips online and tried those, too. My supply was still decreasing.

My visit with the lactation consultant was actually pretty great. She gave me more tips. Showed me some techniques to make the breastfeeding process easier. She comforted me. She gave me 3 grocery bags filled with packages of formula to supplement with and told me not to give up, but to do what was best for my son, which was to feed him enough. She also had me go ahead and make another appointment for two weeks later to check in.

It wasn't an easy two weeks. When I returned, my supply had decreased even further, despite my efforts and adherence to her advice. I dreaded what she might say. Was she going to think I wasn't trying? Because that just wasn't true. She comforted me again, gave me another list of tips and tricks, and more formula. 

My saga continues, but I have learned a few things along the way. I still have moments when I break down in tears. I still have moments when I feel like a failure as a woman and a mother because of my struggle. 

And then there are those moments when a woman behind me in the grocery line while I'm buying more formula, an old friend, a new acquaintance, or complete strangers that happen to see me pull a bottle out of the diaper bag give me that look of disdain that says "How could you do that to your own child? You gave up. You just wanted life to be more convenient for you. Your child will suffer for your selfishness." In those moments I don't want to cry. I don't feel ashamed. I get angry. I get defensive. Would you rather my child be malnourished? You don't know my struggle. You weren't there when medical professionals told me it was time to start supplementing. You haven't been there for both the heaving sobs and the quiet tears during bottle time. I'm thrilled for you that you were able to breastfeed without issue, or at least, without issues to this extent, but I'm having trouble so get off your high friggin' horse and stick your judgement where the sun doesn't shine. I'm not a failure as a mother. I'm not a failure as a woman. I'm not being selfish. I haven't even given up breastfeeding completely. I have changed techniques, taken supplements, and continue to make the changes and plow ahead through it all. I'm trying, dang it. And how dare you try to make me feel like a failure and add to my distress. HOW DARE YOU. HOW. DARE. YOU. I would say I wish similar struggles and failure upon you, but I don't. I'm not THAT petty. I wouldn't wish the feeling of helplessness that I have experienced on ANY OTHER MOTHER. So why the MESS would you wish such a feeling of failure on me with your unconcealed disdain and air of superiority? 

Breast is ABSOLUTELY best, but it isn't the only option and letting my child die of malnourishment is not an option at all so BACK. THE. HECK. OFF.

Thank you.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thoughts and Confessions

1. Luxury cars are stupid. You are spending thousands of dollars for one MAYBE two higher end features over the cheaper model. Heated seats aren't that valuable. It is like advertising to the world that you have more money than sense. Or a complex. Either way, is that the message you really want to send out to people?

2. I like bad puns sometimes. Ones that elicit a "hardy har har" from most people will elicit smile and a small giggle from me. The picture of the Koala Bear with the caption of "What you do mean I'm not a bear? I have all of the koalafications?" cracks me up every time.

3. I love Pinterest, but I spend about 1/3 of my time looking at pins and saying "You know you can just buy that, right?" or "Yeah, never gonna happen." Side note, because of this I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the world's worst mom by Pinterest standards.

4. Tights are not pants. Seriously. I know they are comfy, but they are an undergarment; as in, you wear them UNDER something else. What you do in your own home is up to you, but out in public, realize the rest of us don't want to see that.

5. If you wear your pants so tight they might as well be tights, see #4. I don't want to know what kind of underwear you have on.

6. Commercials have gotten weirder and weirder over time. Now some of them are downright creepy. I give you the following examples:
    A. The commercial where the gingerbread cookie is stalking the woman through her office? That's a horror movie waiting to happen.
    B. The Charmin Bears family on those commercials? WAAAAYYYYY too close. Weirdly close. Seriously. Any family that talks about toilet paper lint that often is sort of creepy.
    C. The commercial where the guy is "made of money" and dollars are falling off of him as he travels? Is anybody else weirded out by the the fact that if his skin is money and money is falling off of him, then that essentially means his skins is constantly falling off and people are just grabbing it? Ew.
    D. Viagra commercials are awkward enough, but the fact that the latest commercial I have seen shows all the featured men doing activities all by their lonesome with no woman in sight is just crossing the line. Quadruple ew. Quintuple ew.
There are many more examples, but that is really enough for a whole different post.

7. I was taught that it is NEVER okay to ask a woman if she is pregnant, unless she talks about it first. I mean, it is not even okay if she is 40 weeks and about to start labor right in front of you. So, I know it is wrong, but when I was in the Hallmark store last week, and a random lady asked me about my due date without knowing anything about me, part of me wanted to deny even being pregnant for just a second just to see the horrified look on her face. It would have been mean. I know. I didn't. I smiled and told her my due date and she was sweet about it. It occurred to me that I might have a bit of a mean streak. I hope my son doesn't inherit that.

8. Thank you notes are not optional. End of story.

9. Being pregnant can be hard. I'm not talking about the million and one trips to the bathroom each day. I'm not talking about swollen feet, clumsiness, pelvic pressure, congestion from swollen membranes, clothes that don't fit, exhaustion, super weird dreams, or the ever present general discomfort. I can get over that stuff. I think the hard part is the emotional roller coaster ride that never really ends. I'm thrilled and excited, I'm nervous, I'm terrified, I'm worried, I'm happy; in short, I'm a hot mess. No wonder people think pregnant women are a little crazy. We are.

10. I like baseball. I do. However, I find it ridiculous that the World Series is not over until November. They are referred to as the "Boys of Summer" for a reason. November is not summer. The season is too long. This is why I like college baseball and I'm not as enthusiastic about MLB. Seriously, the MLB season (including post season) is almost, ALMOST, the entire length of my pregnancy. That's insane.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Duct Tape Toy Bin

I'm from Mississippi. For those of you who don't know, that means I am a special breed. We all are here. Some of us even more than others. I'm also blessed to come from one of those extra special breed kind of families. By virtue of this, I have learned several key truths that I can carry with me always. One day I will share my wealth of knowledge with you, but today I'm just going to share two key lessons that I carry around in my day to day:

1. Never pay full retail if you can help it.
2. If you can't fix it with duct tape, it probably isn't worth saving.

So how do these two particular lessons apply to my latest dilemma (read: How the heck is she gonna get from this to a toy bin)? Well, as mentioned in my previous post, kid stuff is expensive. Ridiculously and unreasonably so. There is no reason that a plastic box to store my stuff in is only $5, but a toy bin that is essentially the same thing, but happens to have a toy duck painted on the side is $100. 

Stupid toy duck.

So, once again, I took to the internet. The shipping charges for even the cheapest of options still put them over the price range I was willing to pay, which, in all fairness, wasn't much. I mean, really. All I wanted was a plastic bin that I could throw some toys in. It didn't need ducks, a monogram, or "safety hinges". Light weight plastic is not going hurt little fingers.

What I needed was essentially a storage bin with some paint on it. I had craft paint. Storage bins come cheap. However, the thought occurred to me that I didn't want to spend the next several days wasting paint on a cheap plastic bin. My baby won't care if I cheat here and there, and being that he is a boy, he probably won't really care what it looks like in the end, either. So, what would be quicker, and still cheap? 

Duct tape.

Duct tape can fix anything. Especially now that it comes in a myriad of colors and designs. 

I chose my color scheme as one that would pay homage to my alma mater (Mississippi State), because you have to raise them right, dont' ya know, and camouflage, because this is Mississippi, after all. 




So I got a cheap bin.....


...and began covering it strip by strip.


I made sure I only covered to within about an inch around the bottom, so that I could use my secondary "color" as an accent.


Then, I went around the top and bottom with my accent tape.


I went all the way around like this. And then, I made sure to do the top. And VOILA!


Duct tape toy bin.

But what about safety standards for this?!?!?

1. It is lightweight plastic for Heaven's sake. If he can climb into without turning it over, it will take more effort than getting back out.
2. Once you cover it with duct tape, it doesn't exactly latch tightly. 
3. Even if he could wind up inside it, and somehow get the lid on, the lid isn't exactly made of lead. It comes off easy.
4. JUST IN CASE, for you worry warts out there, I will point out that there actually are two air holes, one on either end for just such an emergency. I covered them with duct tape, but then re-cut the tape in that area to match the original hole.

So, once again, pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb.

And for those of you who look at this and say, "OMG! Could she BE any more redneck?!" The answer is yes, I can, because you don't know the half of it. I'm from the South. We're proud of our crazy around here, don't ya know.


Monday, August 26, 2013

DIY Pacifier Clips

So here's the thing about baby stuff, no matter whether it is for a girl or a boy, a lot of it is pretty feminine looking and none of it is cheap. Note to designers: just because it is blue doesn't automatically make it look masculine. For instance, pacifier clips that are powder blue with frilly green flowers does not scream baby boy to me. And as for the gender neutral options? Still pretty girly.

So what was I to do? Scour the internet for possibilities? That would mean paying more in shipping than the darn things are even worth. I mean, it is essentially a clothespin, some velcro and a ribbon.

LIGHT BULB!

I could just make a few. It wouldn't be that hard. And before all you naysayers jump my case for things not being safety standard approved, I actually looked into that. So ppppbbbbbbbbbb!

So I took stock of what left over craft supplies I had on hand. I had some simple snaps (with the attachment doohickey - very technical term, I know - and the hammer I needed to go with it), but I needed some clips and my ribbon selection wasn't great. Nothing was cross grain or appropriate for the task.

Enter Hobby Lobby. I got some really cute ribbon options without much effort (or cash). Now the trick was the clips. What should I use? I wanted something strong so that grabby little hands wouldn't be able to just pull it off. I wanted something sturdy. Most importantly, I wanted something that required very little effort on my part. Priorities. So when I looked through the options, what did I come away with? Mitten/Suspender clips. Laugh all you want. It works in theory (the baby still isn't here yet, so I haven't road tested my finished product).

So how exactly did I accomplish this? And yes, I trust that you are smart enough to figure out what I did, but the whole point of the blog is for me to have a creative outlet and I really want to talk about this for a minute, so bear with me.


My materials:
Ribbon (I chose 3 different kinds to branch out a bit)
Clips
Snaps
Snap attachment tool
Hammer (it is gold and covered in flowers, but I've learned to love it)
Scissors
Hot glue gun (not pictured)
Measuring tape (not pictured)


I started by cutting the ribbon. Safety standards (see, I told you I looked into it!) say that the length shouldn't be more than 6", but I needed enough to work with each end first. I found that if I cut it about 13" first it worked out once I worked all my magic.


So, I looked at the cut ends of the ribbon and knew they need to be protected from fraying. I didn't have any of that fancy schmancy No Fray stuff. So I decided to use what I had. I hot glued the ends so they wouldn't fray.

I also realized the snaps called for a double layer of fabric, so then I folded the ribbon over with enough room for each snap set on each end and hot glued them again (this seemed a more efficient use of my time than sewing the ends, plus the glue gun was already hot).



Next, I attached the snaps at a short distance from each other, making sure I still had enough room to actually attach them, but not so much that it kept the length of the ribbon too long. I did this at both ends, so that all I had to do was snap in the suspender clips at one end and a pacifier could snap in at the other end.

This is what I came up with (note: some of the pictures show the snaps closed at both ends, making them the correct (mostly) measurement, others are unsnapped and therefore a little longer):


And boom: pacifier clips that I actually like. Of course, you may look at them and sneer. In which case you can take your hoighty toighty opinions and shove.....ahem, I mean to each their own. In any case, this is what I threw together. I think it works. And, another bonus, if ever they get super nasty and beyond saving, I can just throw together a few more with the supplies I have left!

So there you have it. I'm cheap, but I'm resourceful! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

And Just Where, Pray Tell, Have I Been??

My last post was in September. It is now July. Holy crap on a cracker. Where did the time go?

Well, hmmm, let me think about that. I was a first year teacher and soccer coach. Between lesson plans, practices, games, meetings, parent teacher conferences, and actual classroom time, I barely had time to do anything else. And, in all fairness, what little extra time I did have I wanted to spend with my family and friends in real life. I enjoy writing my cathartic blog, don't get me wrong, but I find myself in a shrinking minority that actually still values face to face interaction over the likes of social networking online.

So, after soccer season ended and I at least got that time commitment back, what happened then? Well, after the season ended, I gave myself a small window of time to just be a teacher and wife. All of you out there who look at teachers and say things like "How hard can it be? I mean you get off of work at 3:30 and get summers off?" are rolling your eyes right now because you have NO IDEA how the job takes over your life. School may be out at 3:30, but it was truly rare for me to leave the building before 6. And I took more work home with me more often than not. That is the life of a first year teacher. You have to build so much from scratch, you end up giving up a lot of personal time. The good news is that surviving the first year earns you a badge of honor among other teachers. As for summer vacation, trust me, I earned EVERY LAST SECOND. I love (most of - let's be honest) those kids, and my job, but I work hard to give them my best and still have something left at the end of the day for me. A parent of one of my students put it like this: "I have four kids. I love them, they are my flesh and blood. I wouldn't trade them for the world. However, during the summer I get a small taste of what you get for the rest of the year. I only have four of them and they can be overwhelming. You have exponentially more to deal with all day and you can't put a bedroom door between you when you need a minute. You are locked in a room with them all day. God bless you." I love her for saying that.

So when I had rested and given myself a small recovery time, then what? What was my new excuse, exactly? Pregnancy. I was/am beyond thrilled to be starting a family with my husband. We have talked about it for a while and now here we are. We have a son on the way. I'm going to be a mom. I am so excited, but I have been ridiculously tired. The official pregnancy symptom term is, of course, fatigue. All I know is that it makes me completely zonk out every time I get still. In all of my pregnancy books and apps, etc, I am told that during the second trimester you get this "burst" of energy. I am just a few weeks shy of starting the third trimester and I have yet to experience said energy burst. I think I have been lied to. However, now that I am getting ready for my little bundle of joy (and crying, laughing, smiling, dirty diapers, screaming fits, and sleepless nights), I have found a wealth of new topics to discuss with you.

Be forewarned, though: When the baby comes, I will most likely, once again, take a hiatus from the blog world. I'm a first time mom. Let's just be real. I'll be in way over my head and have very little time for anything else. Surely, though, when I return to bloggerdom my stories will be cuter and funnier. Until then, sit back and enjoy my random and intermittent posts (or rants) about all things pre-baby.