Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My last baby: On my new life

I became an expectant mom early in life when I really wasn't expecting to. I was 20 and the positive test was a huge shocker, to say the least. After going through the classic stages of grief (seriously, I did), I really embraced pregnancy and the new life within. Once he was born, 18 long years ago, I realized what I had never known to be true — babies were amazing. I had loved the wonder and excitement of being pregnant and I loved having a new baby.

As he grew, it became so affirming to have someone to teach, someone to love, and someone to love me back. I hankered for a second baby by the time he was midway through his third year, and when he was closer to 3 1/2, his brother was born.

Again, not too much beyond his third birthday, I was pregnant with my first daughter. And four years later, I began trying for another baby. Unfortunately, it took an additional three years to conceive, but I did it — at age 35, I had my second daughter and now had a family of six. We were complete with two boys and two girls.

My youngest is on the cusp of turning four, and her baby stage is long over. She is learning to write, she can dress herself (and the results, of course, are amazing), she can use the potty and she can feed herself. She never used a crib, but if she did, it would have gone by the wayside by now. She still nurses and occasionally wants me to wear her, but these are rapidly diminishing aspects of her baby- and toddlerhood.

I am not going to have any more babies. For most of my adult life I was either pregnant, parenting a baby or young child, or planning a pregnancy. I'm on the verge of a big birthday myself as I prepare to brand myself 40 years old next March. I can already feel the effects of age creeping in, as some days my favorite thing is what happens at the end of the day — crawling into bed and feeling the effects of gravity go away as my joints settle into slumber.

I've entertained the thought of another pregnancy, but that's where it ends — simple entertainment. I felt like hell near the end of my last pregnancy, which ended four years ago. I had terrible acid reflux and my hips were so out of whack I arranged my workspace so that I rarely had to get up and walk around. Sleep was nothing but a yearned-for dream and heaving my giant carcass around was a task that I couldn't wait to be relieved of.

However, knowing how taxing another pregnancy could be, and how little sleep I continue to get with my crap-sleeper youngest child, and how much time and energy I spend on the four kids I already have, I can't imagine stretching myself further with a fifth baby.

Admitting that is hard. It may be one of the hardest things I've ever had to fess up to.  Knowing that my reproductive years are behind me and that they are coming to an end feels a little like the first part of dying. I am going through, yet again, the stages of grief as I've realized that I will no longer house and birth another little person. I still follow cloth diaper pages on Facebook and I am still seriously tempted to buy some when big sales hit, "just in case." It makes me feel crazy, and it's painful. I sometimes tear up when I see someone's positive pregnancy tests.

I will say that it has been good to focus on my career, though, and to really, really enjoy my kids and the unique stages of life that they are in. It's fun to have a little one again this holiday season, as the magic is in full force with her. I have kids in school sports, I have one nearing the end of his high school career, and there is so much to look forward to over the next decades of my life.

In less than two years, this youngest baby of mine will toddle off to kindergarten. The thought is both exhilarating and terrifying. My time as the parent of a young child is rapidly coming to a close, but I'm working on pushing forward and focusing on the now — and the future.

Is it bittersweet? Yes, yes it is. But really, that simple, contradictory word doesn't even begin to cover it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to recycle old crayons

Just about every week, me and Willow go to the Remington Nature Center. In what she calls the "bug room," they have a bunch of rubbing plates nailed to a desk, paper and round crayons. Today, I asked how they made the crayons, and they said they bake them in an oven. I looked up how to do it, and it seemed easy, so we came home and made a half dozen.

Willow had, at one point, a small tote that contained the contents of an entire box of 96 Crayola crayons. This is a crapload of crayons. Over time, that number has understandably dwindled, with many going missing, quite a few getting trod on and snapped in half, and the others whittled down with use. We went through that tote and retrieved all the broken bits, and then I decided to break up perfectly good ones so we could have a solid six when we were done. The results were terrific. It was easy, and Willow then decided that we should do all of the rest of her crayons. My fingers are now purple and sore, but we have a ton of fun, "new" crayons.

Here is how we did it.

You will need:

  • An oven, preheated to 275
  • Crayola crayons
  • Mini muffin tin
  • A timer
  • A refrigerator
  • A towel

STEP ONE. Whether your crayons are broken or not, you will have to spend time peeling the paper off. This can be easy or it can be hard. It can also make you want to stab eyeballs (not that I felt like that, of course). I did surreptitiously chuck a few in the trash when I simply couldn't get them off, but even Willow was able to do most of the ones she selected.

PART TWO. Admire your unpeeled crayon pile. It is impressive, admire it!

STEP THREE. This part may be the most fun. Design your crayons. I discovered that three whole crayons will break up nicely and fit into one mini muffin spot. You want to make sure you fill each spot up as much as possible as the spaces between the bits disappear when they melt. You can put similar colors in each spot, or coordinating colors, or whatever-the-hell-you-want-to colors like Willow did in the upper right-hand spot. This makes it fun and visually appealing.

STEP FOUR. Bake those puppies. Ten minutes in the oven at 275 degrees was absolutely perfect for us. You might have to keep an eye on yours. But once they are melted, they are done.  

STEP FIVE. Let cool on the counter, on a cooling pad or something similar, for 20 to 25 minutes.

STEP SIX. Cool in refrigerator for around 15 minutes.

STEP SEVEN. Remove from the fridge, put the pan face down on a towel, and hope they pop right out. If they don't, you might have to encourage them a bit by smacking the back a few times.

STEP EIGHT. Admire your handiwork. And do it again, and again, and again, and again.

The fun thing about these is that there are tons of options. I think that a silicone baking pan would work better because you could pop them out easier, and they come in all sorts of fabulous shapes. You can experiment with different colors and combos. Don't use white, like I did the first time, unless you want your kid mad that the color doesn't show up in certain spots. Above all, have fun, and take care of your little fingers. I can barely type this. You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Awesome offer: Free baby leg warmers, only pay shipping

Baby leg warmers are such a cool invention. They are priceless when your child is an infant — pop a onesie on her, and a pair of leg warmers, and she's fully dressed. It makes diaper changing a breeze. For older babies, they serve to protect those little knees from bruising and damage as they learn to crawl.

They continue to be useful even after your baby is no longer a baby. They are priceless during potty training, for sure. No pants, no problem, but legs can get cold. And the beauty is, there are no zippers or elastic to get in the way of an emergency potty visit.

Also, my 3-year-old daughter recently wore some under a dress (the bee-colored "leggings" pictured here are Baby Legs). They can also be worn on the arms, even well into their school age years.

I've seen a promo code for Baby Leggings posted multiple times, so I wanted to pass it along. The company said that the code will be good "while supplies last." When that will be, nobody knows, but getting five pairs of leg warmers for around $13 is a great deal. So hurry up and grab you some if you're interested.

From the Baby Leggings Facebook page:


Check out our amazing offer! A promo code for 5 FREE pairs of Baby Leggings-a $50 value! Choose from 70+ different styles! To claim this exclusive offer go to and use the promo code 'FACEBOOK'

Thanks Baby Leggings! These would also make great stocking stuffers for babies and toddlers on your Christmas list. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review: BobaAir Lightweight Baby Carrier

We received a blue BobaAir baby carrier to review, and I was blown away. The carrier itself is loaded with the same quality that Boba uses when creating all of their wonderful carriers, but the BobaAir has some unique features that busy moms and dads will love.


The BobaAir ($65) has all of the same ergonomic features that the 3G and 4G have, but it's designed to be lightweight and super portable.

What other quality baby carrier can you stash in your purse for backpacking adventures, for camping, for hiking, or even for an emergency when you've forgotten to bring your other carrier? Stick it in your diaper bag, keep it in your car — you never know when a baby carrier will come in handy.

The BobaAir is:
  • 100 percent nylon
  • Easy to clean
  • Adaptable for both front and back carries
  • Compact and self-storing
  • Complete with a sleeping hood and pocket
  • Suitable for parents of many sizes — it fits from 5'0" to 6'3" and its waistband fits from 27" to 56"


Our take

The BobaAir fit and carried my 3-year-old daughter very well. I love how comfortable it is (absolutely comparable to the 3G) and it's easy to get on and off. It's also a nice option for warmer days. I can't think of any other baby carrier that folds down so compactly, either. It fits well in my bag and is excellent for the adventures that we engage in as a busy family.

I recommend this carrier, and love that it fits such a wide range of sizes. Both Mom and Dad can use it, and since it can fit children from 15 to 45 pounds. You'll get tons of use out of it.

Two thumbs up.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Slow cooker: Chicken enchilada chili (GF)

My older daughter has celiac disease. She was diagnosed in 2009, right around the time Willow was born (picture me, 9 months pregnant, watching my then-7-year-old daughter get put under for a biopsy, trying to calm Grandma and hoping the contractions I was feeling weren't the real thing — ha). Since then, I have, of course, researched gluten and all of its manifestations like crazy.

And fortunately, so much more awareness is out there now about celiac disease and gluten intolerance. More products are labeling for gluten now, and restaurants are also getting in on the act.

However, nothing really beats a home-cooked meal, and nothing beats that like a slow-cooked meal. I love my crock pot. Always have, always will. So when I discovered Stephanie O'Dea's website A Year of Slow Cooking, and realized that the recipes were gluten free, I was in heaven.

I randomly picked one that sounded good, tweaked it a bit, and the result was heavenly. I have included my version here, and linked to hers below. There is also no dairy in the recipe (the cheese is optional), so it's a great choice for my younger daughter who is allergic to milk. Also, if you're reading this on your tablet or phone, be sure to clean it off with disinfecting wipes before diving into the below recipe (because spreading germs is so yesterday).

Chicken Enchilada Chili


1 1/2 lbs chicken (I used fresh boneless, skinless breasts)
1 1/2 c. enchilada sauce
2 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes (garlic and olive oil)
1 15 oz can of pinto beans
1 15 oz can of kidney beans
1 tbsp dry minced onion
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Shredded cheese and plain tortilla chips if desired


Pour enchilada sauce and canned tomatoes into the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker. Add beans, onion and spices. Stir to combine. Place chicken on top.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours. After 4 hours, remove chicken, shred with forks, stir back in. Continue to cook for another 2 hours or so.

If desired, top individual bowls with shredded cheese and crunched up tortilla chips when you serve the chili, of course, after wiping splatters off your phone if necessary.


Slightly adapted from here:

Let me know if you try it, and what you think about it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gobble and Grow Sprout Toddler Snacks giveaway

Are you ready for a giveaway? You've come to the right place!

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Fifteen — yes, fifteen! — winners will be chosen at the end of the day on November 26.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Each winner will receive: One prize kit containing Sprout Organic Toddler Snacks, both the Fruit & Veggie Crispy Chews and Fruity Yogurt Bites, in assorted flavors. 

Check them out here, and share this giveaway with your friends and family.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Doctor Who Halloween

Happy Halloween from my girls who, along with myself and an older son, are huge Doctor Who fans. I was happy they wanted to dress up as characters from the show. My 10-year-old girl chose to represent the 11th Doctor, and my 3-year-old girl wanted to be a Dalek. The Doctor costume took some work to find, but with a lucky thrift store find (a slightly-too-big jacket for $6), a bow tie from JC Penney and a fez we found at Spirit Halloween, it came together nicely.

The Dalek costume, however, was a bit more work. It involved part of a pattern of a dress I've made a dozen or so times before, about 35-40 yards of tulle (for real), two rolls of ribbon, a dozen craft styrofoam balls and cotton fabric and pins to cover them with.

I had initially wanted to talk her out of the idea — I wasn't sure I had the time nor the inclination to create such a costume. She's been into Harry Potter lately, but she wasn't interested in being Hermione Granger, which would have been far easier to assemble. However, she insisted, and over the course of two days, I did it. I'm glad that she never wavered and I didn't refuse.

They really didn't spend a lot of time posing for photos, but I got a few that hopefully represents the time and dedication it took to pull these off. They had a good time trick-or-treating and it was adorable watching my little Dalek become so excited every time someone gave her a handful of candy. She has a lot of food allergies so I had to pare down her selection quite a bit but she was extremely happy overall.

I can't wait to see what they come up with next year!