Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Surfs Up, (with your) Baby!

I hope your Memorial Day weekend was long and wonderful. Mine was spent in a beach town, but not at the beach...not much. The weather wasn't all that conducive to bathing suits and barefoot walks through lapping ocean water. But, we did take advantage of a few hours of sunshine on Sunday.

Last summer, my daughter wasn't mobile. Beach trips consisted of playing with stacking cups under the umbrella and pointing at seagulls. This past weekend was our first time at the beach with a walking toddler. And wow was she walking...and running. She stumbled across the dunes, shouted at the ocean, genuinely blown away by the foaming waves, she picked up shells, put down shells and barrel rolled on the sand. She was so happy and it was wonderful to watch.

At some point during her backward crab crawl across the beach, as sand caked into her pupils, I was brought back to a Caribbean vacation I took pre-baby. I remembered my childless self, sipping a tropical cocktail and reading a book under a tiki umbrella with my husband basking in the sun next to me, an hour into the worst sunburn of his life. Next to us were a couple with an adorable 6 month old. I was thoroughly impressed, and slightly confused, as to why this adventurous couple decided to bring their infant to the far off island of our destination. It seemed an impossible feat. Were they actually having a nice, relaxing vacation? I didn't ask, but I desperately wanted to.

Flash forward to my sand covered babe who is gleefully rolling across the wet beach like a frolicking seal lion. The beach is so different now. Life is so different now. And, I can't compare my two hour beach trip to a week long tropical vacation, but I can make an educated guess at what those parents were thinking - they couldn't bare to do anything without their tiny man. They derived such joy from watching him experience life that it almost didn't matter where they were. They weren't there for the drinks or the sunburns, they were there to have an adventure as a family. Of course (of course), there will be future vacations when my little one stays at grandma's house while my husband and I sip cocktails under a tiki umbrella. And I'll sleep late and read a book more than one chapter at a time and sun bathe in silence, which will be amazing, but I'll miss my daughter more than a little. I'll miss her sea lion impression.

How adorable is this little seal lion pup? My daughter has the same form.
(image source)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Very Colorful Baby Shower

Throwing a gender neutral baby shower can stress people out. Should all the decor be blue and pink? Or just yellow? Or is yellow old news and everything should be orange or gray or minty green? By removing the gender factor, pulling together a nice color scheme can feel tricky. So, how about choosing all colors? If I could do it again (I had a gender neutral baby shower), I might use the following as inspiration because I truly love it.

Where To Find These Jewels
Felt Acorns by Sewn Natural
Jones Soda from Amazon
You're My Favorite Pin by Bust My Buttons
Scalloped Color Block Napkins from Target
Rainbow Invitation by Tambo Creations
Heart Night Light by Light Box Furniture

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Let's Get Personal...With Art

Taking it down a notch (or ten) from this Monday, I'm back to crafting. It's not another quilt...it will be a while before I can tackle one of those again. It's some personalized nursery art. Of course it involves the artistry of your little one, making it doubly personalized (and doubly awesome). 

Again, I should apologize for the iPhone photos, though I think in this particular post it's only enhancing the free-flowing, impressionist style of my daughter's work.

The execution was pretty simple. First, I cut a letter "M" out of some scrap paper. Next, I taped the M to a piece of card stock using little circles of scotch tape. I chose card stock instead of regular weight paper because my daughter tends to paint with thick layers and regular weight paper has a hard time handling her magic. She's great at blobbing and blotching. 

Then I let her do her thing. Typically brown and purple are her favorite colors to work with, but for this particular project she went full rainbow. It's hard to see the M in the painting below, but it's there.

I let it all dry, then I gently peeled off the M. Ta Da! A sweet, frame-worthy creation. I absolutely love it.

I love painting and I think my little lady is taking to it as well. Speaking of those who love painting -  did anyone else read Taylor Kinney's interview in which he talks about how he and Lady Gaga love painting together. I bet some freaky stuff goes down in those creative sessions.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Just Wait Until...

Something super duper annoying that people say about parenting: "Just wait until...fill in the phrase". Just wait until she starts to crawl. Just wait until he turns two. Just wait until she starts preschool. Just wait until you have two kids. Just wait until you have three kids. Just wait until you have a dozen tantruming, psychotic kids.

It's typically used in response to another parent venting about the challenges of a new stage in her child's development. Exhibit A:

Mom 1 - Jane started to crawl. She gets into everything now. I can't take my eyes off her.
Mom 2 - Just wait until she starts to walk.

They are such competitive words. Oh, you think you have it hard? You think juggling twenty things at once is tricky, do ya? Mom 2 might as well say, I have it harder and I juggle more. Or even, your parenting is pie, I do the real thing. Those are the indisputable implications and they're all really frustrating.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this sentence from another parent because it happens all the freaking time. You might even know a perpetual offender. I typically respond by affirming the assertion with "I can't imagine!" or "Yeah, that's gonna be hard." I'm a pretty non-confrontational person and I'm very non-confrontational when it comes to parenting. I try to live by the rule that most parents are just trying to survive, just trying to get it done without anyone losing limbs or eyeballs. And so, I bite my tongue and play along.

But, it's not cool. And, maybe more importantly, it's not true. Who's to say that it is more difficult to parent a walker than it is to parent a crawler. There are harder aspects and easier aspects to both stages. A walker has farther to fall to the ground and is, thus, more prone to injury. A walker is also more self-sufficient. It's impossible and short-sighted to characterize any stage as more difficult than another. Each stage of life, and of parenting, has unique challenges.

So, maybe I'll never be able to (or want) to say it in the moment, but I'll say it here - the parenting that I'm doing right now is pretty damn legit and I plan to continue being a rockstar, just wait.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Didn't See That Coming

In case you missed it, last Friday, the Social Security Administration posted a list of the most popular baby names from 2013. I'm obsessed with baby names and was basically waiting by my computer for the list to post, like a total lunatic with a disheveled side pony tail and sleepy crust at the corner of my eyes. I quickly gave you my initial reaction last Friday and today, after a full week to look through the new list, I'm ready to present some extensive cliff notes. Is that an oxymoron - extensive cliff notes? Anyway, the theme of the 2013 list (for me) is - didn't see that coming. There was so much that I didn't predict or predicted the opposite. Ooops.

Ladies First.

Geraldine - Just a month ago I told you that Geraldine was "right on trend" and would rise in popularity. Wrong. Geraldine had the 2nd biggest drop in popularity of any girl name last year. It sunk from 990 in 2012 to 1402 last year. That's 412 spots downward.

Adele - Another name that I could have sworn would rise in popularity dropped 109 spots last year. Have we already forgotten about the British song bird? Perhaps so given that she hasn't come out with a new album since 2011. Her third studio album is expected to release in August, so maybe her name will rebound this year.

Daleyza - This name increased in popularity more than any other girl name last year, times three. It jumped from 3715 in 2012 to 585 last year. That's a massive jump in popularity. Enormous. So, where did this name come from? Who or what drove the sudden and extreme popularity? After some Google research, I found the answer: Larry Hernandez. He is a really popular Latin musician with a reality TV series. Larry's daughter is named Daleyza. Aha. Clearly I didn't see this coming, I had no idea who Larry Hernandez was until writing this post.

Last Name Trend - The last name as a first name trend has been steady and strong on the boy side, but, as I mentioned last week, I never considered it to be a trend for girl names. Again, didn't see this one coming. Many of the girl names that saw a noteworthy increase in popularity last year fall into this trend: Lennon, Henley, Oakley, Hunter, Saylor, Wynter, Sutton and Carter.

The Kardashian Effect - The names Kourtney and Khloe lost popularity last year, but there were several other Kardashian influenced names that rose in popularity. Mercy, the name of the kitten that Kanye gave Kim jumped 143 spots to 854. Kaidence, the name that we all thought Kim and Kanye were going to name their daughter, had its first year in the Top 1,000. Penelope, the name of Kourtney's daughter, broke into the Top 100.

Flower Power - Many people gave their daughter flower and plant names last year. All of the following names had a big rise in popularity: Saige, Azalea, Rosie, Juniper, Magnolia and Rosemary.

Geography - I immediately noticed a trend in geography related names when I posted last week. This is a crossover trend for both boys and girls. Dallas, India and Ireland had major popularity growth last year, each jumping more than 200 spots. On the boys side, Milan, Atlas and Memphis took big jumps.

Gentlemen Next.

Jayceon - Jayceon Terrell Taylor, better known as The Game, had quite the impact on pop culture last year. His name rose in popularity more than any other boy name. The second season of Marrying The Game aired on VH1 last year. If you don't watch, it's a dating show where contestants vie to marry The Game. Spoiler Alert: season two worked as well as season one (not at all), which you may already know because two episodes of season three have already aired. So, apparently, people love The Game and his (real) name.

Castiel - I don't watch the CW television series Super Natural, but a lot of people do. I know this because Super Natural has an upcoming ninth season and because Castiel is the name of a character. Last year, the name Castiel rose 418 spots and broke into the Top 1,000 list for the first time.

Uber Masculine Names - We get it, you had a son. The rise in hyper-masculine boy names last year was the hands down biggest trend for either gender. Check out this list of boy names that jumped at least 100 spots in popularity: Duke, Magnus, Stetson, Mack, Bruno, Major, Royal and Legend. If we include boy names that jumped 50 or more spots we can add Maverick, King and Titan. 

Ethnic Boy Names - American parents have always borrowed names from other countries when it comes to daughters. More and more, they're getting comfortable with borrowing boy names as well. A big handful of boy names that had a significant rise in popularity came from overseas:  Lochlan (Irish), Thiago (Brazilian), Niko (Greek), Santana (Spanish) and Otto (German).

Hebrew Names - Hebrew and Biblical names have always reigned on the boy's side, but last year was a bit of a banner year for these names. Noah, a Hebrew name, was the most popular boy's name last year. We also saw a rise in popularity with some lesser known choices including Azariah, Jair, Yair and Enoch.

And that's that.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer of Andi

Juanary is long over, thankfully, and the Summer of Andi is about to begin. The first episode of Andi Dorfman's season of the Bachelorette (Season 10 if you're counting) will air next Monday, May 19th. Obviously, I'll be watching and not just because I always watch. First, Andi is pretty darn likable. She reads level headed with a bit of sass, so I'm expecting drama that doesn't involve endless weeping like some previous bachelorettes (ahem...Ashley Herbert...who's pregnant if anyone's interested). Second, Chris Harrison. When he goes rogue, which has become a regular occurrence, we get some of the best one-liners of the show.

Back to Andi. Despite her likability factor, she isn't all beauty and charisma. I was highly underwhelmed last season when she told Juan Pablo that she "puts people in jail for a living". She was referring to the fact that she's a state prosecutor. As a state prosecutor, she should know that what she does for a living is investigate criminal complaints, prosecute those complaints with sufficient evidence and seek punishment for the guilty. One could take her little statement to mean that she is disinterested in truth, innocence or justice as long as someone goes to jail. But, we'll give Andi a pass on this bonehead comment and assume she was trying to show off or that she hadn't yet had training at the District Attorney's Office and didn't actually know what she did for a living.

The highlight of Andi and Juan Pablo's relationship
(image source)

Andi's big moment, of course, was her pulling out of the competition for JP's heart and telling him, several times, that saying "it's okay" to everything in life isn't okay. I think she also called him an a**hole. This was hands down the moment she won her current title as Bachelorette and, to a certain extent, I think she milked the scene because she knew it. She could have walked away a few sentences sooner. But, I won't fault her for that because it was all so entertaining.

What you may want to know about Andi's season before it begins:

  • As always, Reality Steve is spoiling the winner. He's already figured it out and posted it. For the past several seasons I've been reading his blog and, thus, spoiling the winner for myself. I'm undecided about whether I'll go that route again. It's just so tempting.
  • According to Wet Paint, Andi is earning $50k for her role, which is markedly less than most prior bachelorettes.
  • One of the men vying for Andi's heart, Eric Hill, was tragically killed in a paragliding accident after he filmed (he wasn't filming at the time because he didn't last long). How horrible.
  • Andi has 154k followers on Twitter and I'm guessing that number will be about double by the season's end. She's a pretty active Twitterer...Tweeter...what's the word? But, she has been on Twitter hiatus due to Bachelorette filming. She'll be back in full throttle with live commentary while the episodes air.
  • Andi and Nikki Ferrell (winner of Juan Pablo's season) are apparently besties because nothing says "friends forever" like deciding to marry the guy that your BFF just publicly humiliated by calling out as a self-absorbed, shallow, Dbag. I wonder where there friendship currently stands and I wonder if Nikki will show up at any point to give Andi some relationship advice. That could be highly entertaining.
  • Episode one gets interesting when an uninvited guy shows up and wants to compete for Ms. Dorfman. Huh? Yes, this is strange. According to an interview with USA Today, Chris Harrison revealed that some guy with "knowledge" of where the Bachelorette is filmed and how production goes down, crashed the first cocktail party.

Nikki - "I'm gonna marry that D-bag!"
Andi - "Eeees okay!"

(image source)

Monday, May 12, 2014

I Made A Quilt

I took my crafting to the next level with the grand daddy of sewing adventures - a quilt.

I started in February and finished two weeks ago. I didn't work on it very consistently, sometimes I'd go a week or even two without any progress. Even so, it clearly took a while. The finished product is pretty fantastic. It's full of wiggled lines that should be straight and misaligned fabrics, but that adds to the charm. Most importantly, my daughter absolutely loves it.

It's toddler bed sized. Though, as you learned last week, I have no intention of transitioning my little lady to a toddler bed any time soon and due to her "active" sleeping she is best suited for a wearable blanket. For now, she admires it (which makes me so happy), rolls around on it and snuggles with it during nap time.

Rather than walk you through a step-by-step guide of how I made it (because I'm totally unqualified and I'm not fully sure how it came together), I'll just give you the highlights. To begin, I went to Pinterest - the starting point for all great DIY projects. A bit of searching led me to a handful of tutorials. To make the front of the quilt, I used a guide from Film in the Fridge. To make the back of the quilt and sew together the front, the filling and the back (basting), I looked at a bunch of blogs and made my own way. To create the thin border (the binding), I used a guide from Make It & Love It.

As far as my gear (my quilting gear) - I didn't get any. I couldn't bring myself to purchase all the "necessary" accoutrement simply because it was pretty expensive and I didn't want to make the commitment. I wasn't certain that I'd even finish this quilt much less take on future quilts. Not having a rotary cutter or cutting board or marking tape or curved safety pins or massive ruler didn't stop me, nor did it significantly affect my finished product. BUT, if I do it again, I will pick up a rotary cutter and cutting board. Cutting fabric with greater precision will make for a better quilt (especially if I use a more complicated pattern) and it will save me time. A lot of time.

I fell in love with the multi-color bunting fabric, which I found on Fabric.com, and chose the other fabrics based on the color scheme of my daughter's room (pink and red - read more about that here) and what was available at my local Joann Fabric. I played around with the order of fabric strips for a while and took a photo when I finally settled on a pattern (great tip from Film in the Fridge). One early mistake I made was not paying attention to the direction of the bunting pattern. In some strips the bunting faced upward and in others it faced downward. I realized this after I had sewn a whole bunch of strips together...and had to take them a part. So, great tip from NSB: pay attention to the direction of the pattern!

I found the basting to be the most difficult step. I found the binding to be the most satisfying. It was a great project and I'm already thinking about my next.

Friday, May 9, 2014

It's Here!!!!

The Social Security Administration's list of the most popular baby names from 2013! It's here! IT'S HERE!

It just (hours ago) came out, so I haven't had time to digest, but I'll give you my first quick thoughts. Before I do so, let's look at the new Top 10s with a screen shot from the SSA website.

The biggest changes you'll see from 2012 to 2013 are on the boy's side. We have a new leading boy: Noah. He snagged the spot from Jacob, who had been reigning since 1999. That's an impressive run. Interesting that not only did Noah dethrone Jacob, but Liam slipped into the number two spot. The other noteworthy change to the Top 10 boy's list is that Daniel is part of the pack (last year Daniel was #11).

No new girl names broke into the Top 10, this year's list is just a mix-up of last year's mix with the top two spots staying put. Olivia and Isabella switched spots, but that's nothing maj.

What else can I tell you? Let's see...

As I predicted (ahem...), Everly made a huge leap in popularity last year from a rank of 907 in 2012 to a rank of 383 last year. I wonder if Jenna and Channing Tatum are pleased to have made such an impact on pop culture or if they're pissed that their Everly may be known as Everly T. in preschool (to differentiate her from all the other Everlys). One prediction that I didn't make, or actually I did but for the wrong gender, was the popularity of using last names as first names for girls. The girls Top 1,000 list had a few interesting newcomers: Lennon, Henley, Saylor, Sutton and Hunter.  

On the boy's side, big newcomers include Milan, Atlas and Duke. I think Giuliana and Bill Rancic can be thanked for the Duke trend. Their reality series was picked up by the E! Network and their influence has likely increased. As far as Milan and Atlas? Hmmm. I'll have to think on those names. They're both sort of geographical, travel related names. Jase and Jayse are also big movers and shakers for 2013. Jase broke into the Top 100 and Jayse is a new comer to the list. Could this be the result of one of our favorite Teen Mom's son's name? Thanks Janelle! I wonder whether Janelle's name choice for baby number two will have the same impact.

That's all for now. I hope you enjoy perusing the new name list as much as I do and have a fabulous Mother's Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Help A Blogger Out

Hey Friends, Followers, Stoppers Byers, Former Coworkers, Mom,

If you have about 15 free seconds, do me a favor:

1) Click HERE and you'll be brought to a webpage that looks like the image below

2) Click to the LEFT on the owl that is speaking into the brown thought bubble.

3) When you click on the left owl, you will be brought to a website called Top Baby Blogs and you can close that browser window and go on with your day.

Explanation - Top Baby Blogs is a website that ranks baby blogs. The rankings are based on click-thrus (aka the number of people that click on the owl to the left) and everyone is allowed to click once a day. This prevents me from sitting at my computer, clicking the owl 500 times a day and unfairly (and psychotically) skewing the ranks. The loophole is that you can actually click thru more than once a day if you use different devices (so feel free to do the same 1-2-3 steps on your home laptop, phone, work desktop and iPad and whatever else you own!). 

Appreciation - Thank you so much for your support. Seriously. I'm a one woman shop with no big, fancy site designer or marketing guru or editor or contributor or whatever else bigger, fancier blogs have. Again, I appreciate your taking the time.

It's Bed Time!

The title of this post feels like the title of a Sandra Boynton board book. I think that's Pajama Time! Either way, I'm not talking about time to go to bed. I am talking about time to switch your firstborn from a crib to a bed. When it comes to this transition, I have 2 types of friends. First are those that put off the transition as long as possible, but before college because no one wants to be the parent of the freshman who sleeps in a crib. Second are those that force the transition as soon as baby number two is on the way because there's no budget for another piece of furniture with a teeny life span.

I'm in camp one - hold out as long as possible - but that may be because my daughter is not a climber. If she were scaling her crib walls, I would feel differently. Thankfully, I've trained her to believe that the only way for her to get out of her crib is by me picking her up. Or, her upper body strength isn't there yet (more likely). Either way, I'm in no rush to move her into bed land. 

But, when bed time comes, will I move her straight to a twin bed or will I transition with a toddler bed? I have no idea and would love some input on the subject. I don't know anyone who's done the toddler bed. I think this is because almost all of my friends (even those with 3+ year olds) still have their kiddos in a crib. My one friend who moved her little one into a twin bed experienced some resistance to the change (you can interpret "resistance" in whatever way you like...).

Here is my crib (check out THIS post to learn why I chose it):

(image source)

It's the Robin crib by Oeuf. And I love it. I love, love, LOVE it. It looks as good today as it did the day we got it and as it does in the photo above with that cutie doing downward facing dog. It has the ability to convert into a toddler bed that looks like this:

Comparing images, my daughter looks much closer in age to the yogi than the pirate. So, basing my parenting choice on Oeuf's marketing, I have a long ways to go before I need to purchase the conversion kit. Another thing I'm realizing is that those roll guards are very low...or is that normal height? My daughter is a pretty active sleeper. I didn't think active sleeping was possible, it falls directly into the definition of an oxymoron, but it is. Night after night she defies science by barrel rolling back and forth and upways and downways and crossways, all while maintaining a deep sleep.

With my daughter being a non-climbing, ruckus snoozer and the fact that I'm undecided on the toddler bed vs. twin bed issue, it's clear that bed time is not an impending transition in my household. When the time does come I'll fill you in on which path we choose - toddler conversion or twin bed or some other option that I'm not yet aware of...perhaps floor tent.

What's your plan? Did you already make the transition? How did it go? 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lindsay Walks Out, Tori Walks In

As the saying goes - when one door closes another one opens. Well, Tori Spelling has opened the door. Or, she walked through it. Or, she is the door. Whatever, you get the idea.

I've already told you about my questionably wasteful addiction to Lindsay (the reality show on Oprah's network). Sadly, that series ended. It was 8 quick episodes and now it's over. I'm holding out hope that Oprah does a post-series interview. There's no word of that happening and after Lindsay's less than cooperative/committed/professional behavior on the series it doesn't seem likely, but one can dream.

As luck would have it, shortly after Lindsay wrapped up, True Tori began. I'm sure you've heard all about True Tori because promos are friggin' everywhere. By "everywhere" I mean all over People.com. Despite being bombarded by clip after clip after news tabloid story about it, I still hadn't decided to watch. It was on the personal recommendation of a friend (thank you, EC) that I finally jumped on board. And what a ride...

This is Dean and Tori leaving the hospital (according to E!Online).
Tori was apparently hospitalized during this whole marriage crisis.
No clue whether the show was filming at the time.
(image source)

Lindsay and Tori couldn't be more dissimilar. Lindsay spent most of her time buying exorbitantly priced coats and perching her lips and sleeping. Tori spends most of time parenting and crying and not eating. Tori is much more relatable than Lindsay, yet manages to stay interesting despite leading the camera crew on activities like dropping her kids off at school and meeting girlfriends for coffee. Of course, the reason why True Tori is so riveting is that Tori's marriage is currently a colossal disaster. Her husband, Dean McDermott, had a 2-day romp session with a Canadian chick (Emily Goodhand...yep, Goodhand...you couldn't make this stuff up) during which he showed said chick a sex tape of him and Tori. I've learned all this from the show. The Canadian chick shopped the story around to US tabloids moments after getting out of Dean's hotel bed and US Magazine made the highest bid. The story went public. Dean then checked himself into rehab for alcohol, drugs and depression and stayed there (without any face-to-face contact with Tori or their 4 kids) for 3 months. Whew. The show begins with Tori and Dean's reunion and is premised on their journey to fix (or end) their marriage.

After watching the first two episode, I have two major questions:

1) Everyone asks Tori the obvious question: How can she trust that he won't do it again? But, no one has asked the other obvious question: How can she trust that this was the first and only time?

2) Much of the show highlights how difficult it is for Tori to parent four young children, but let's be serious - there's a nanny. Or two. Tori and the Lifetime production team's attempt to hide the fact that Tori has help is glaring and annoying.

That's all I have for now. Please tell me that me (and EC) are not the only ones watching!?