7/28/14

6 Tips For A Non-Boring Staycation


The word "staycation" never conjured up particularly good images in my mind.  I always thought it sounded a bit boring.  However, I am happy to report that after our staycation a couple weeks ago, I have become a fan!  We had a great time, and we managed to squeeze a lot of fun things in while still relaxing.  I'm not a staycation expert, but I thought I'd share a few tips for making a stay cation fun from my limited experience.


Staycation


Play Tourist

I don't know why, but it seems like people tend to take for granted all of the tourist sites that are right down the road from where they live.  Before our staycation we came up with a list of touristy places and activities in our area and picked a couple of them to do.  It was fun to go some places that we never go.  We even went to one national monument that we had never visited before.  It made it feel like we were going somewhere new, even though we were staying home.

Take A "Road Trip"

On your way to your touristy destinations, treat the drive like a road trip.  Turn up the music, roll down the windows, play a movie for the kids (if you have that capability).  Or if you are like Derek and me, listen to an audio book or drama.  Do whatever you would normal do for a road trip, even if you are only driving for 30 minutes.

Go Camping

Set up a tent in your backyard, complete with air mattress, sleeping bags, Skittles, and a movie on the laptop (yes, that is how I camp - I'm not hardcore).  You can even add a fire and s'mores if you have a fire pit, or if your area allows.  We were planning on doing this, but we ended up being so busy with all of the stuff we wanted to do together that we actually never got around to camping.  However, if we had, I think it would have been pretty fun!

Add Something Tastey

For us, this translated into special drinks that I made for Derek and myself when we got home early enough (virgin pina coladas and homemade sodas).  We also stocked up on snacks, and we added an "eating out" budget so we didn't have to make as many meals.

Ignore The Mess

It can be difficult to relax at home when you are a neat freak like me.  But cleaning and working don't really go with a vacation (or a staycation), so I cleaned as much as possible on Sunday night, and then ignored the mess as much as possible during the week (okay, I admit, I did declutter a little - just a couple times).

Unplug

I wanted to treat our staycation like a vacation as much as possible, so I decided to put away my laptop, limit my contact with the outside world, and just spend time with my family.  The only thing I did was Instagram some of the great pictures we took!  It gives more of a vacation atmosphere when you take a break from normal distractions and obligations and just focus on spending time together.

Those are my tips!  The main point is just to do something you wouldn't normally do, relax, and spend time with your loved ones.  Those are the things that can make a staycation just as fun as a vacation, in my opinion.  I no longer balk at the idea of staying home - and the distinct advantage is that you save lots of money with staycations!

Have you ever taken a staycation?  What did you do to make it more fun?

7/25/14

A Night Night Prayer Review

Bedtime is one of my favorite times of the day with the kids.  For Wyatt in particular, this is the time of day that he likes to chat my ear off.

We usually say a prayer together every night, and he likes to list things.  Sometimes we'll list things to thank God for, sometimes he'll list things he hopes we get to do the next day.  His new favorite is listing people that he wants to go to Heaven with him (is that cute, or what?).

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We received "A Night Night Prayer" by Amy Parker recently.  I love this book for multiple reasons - for one, the illustrations are so cute!  In these pages we follow a little llama child through his bedtime routine.  He lists all the things that are sleeping - trees, flowers, the dog, parents, etc.  He says goodnight to each thing that is sleeping, and then the book closes with a sweet little prayer.

This book fits in right with our nighttime list theme.  I think Wyatt and I will have a lot of fun looking at all the things listed in this book, and then coming up with some of our own things to add to it.  This is a great book for winding down at night and prepping kids mentally for bedtime, and the board book style allows for easy handling.  I don't have to worry about pages tearing if the kids want to read this book themselves!
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As you can see, Miss Gwen loved this book too!  We're training her in list-making now.

If you'd like another bedtime book to add to your collection, I recommend checking this one out!

Note: I received this book for free from Tommy Nelson in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

7/24/14

On Books And Me (Vlog)

A couple months ago Michelle, from I Hope You Dance, gave me the Sunshine blog award!  I have known Michelle for years (in real life), and I like following her blog, reading about her life, and about all the books she reads!  She is like a super-reader, and I am always amazed at how many books she can read in a year. She shares my love for reading, but she's better at it than me!

I always think these awards are fun, and it's a good excuse to do a vlog.  So watch the video to hear my answers to the following questions!




What's your favorite book genre?
What's your favorite time of year and why?
What made you want to start blogging?
Favorite time to read?
How do you find out about new books? (Goodreads, blogs, friends, etc)
Beach, mountains, or in between?
What is the best movie you have seen lately?
Do you mark (highlight/underline) things in your books such as a good quote?
Predictable books or more mysterious?
What is your favorite snack?
What is your favorite book of the year so far?



Excuse my rambling, and the fact that I am wearing pajama shorts.

I'm throwing this post together at 10:30 at night (and I still have to squeeze in a shower), so I'm not going to take the time to tag individuals now - but keep an eye out on Twitter, because I might tag a few of you there!  I'm sticking with the same questions, because I like the ones Michelle came up with, so if you are tagged (or if you just want to) write a post or do a blog with the same questions I listed above!  I'd love to hear your answers!

7/22/14

Gallery Wall Musings And Canvas Giveaway!

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am attempting to redecorate my living room.  I haven't changed much since we got married, except for adding new coffee tables.  So far I have re-done the coffee table arrangement, added new curtains, and my new project is working on a gallery wall.

I have been searching for things to add to my gallery wall arrangement, and I knew I wanted to include some pictures of our family - so I was so excited when I was contacted by Canvas Champ!  They asked if I would like to review a canvas, and I jumped at the chance.

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I decided to print one of our wedding pictures, and I love the way it turned out.  It printed perfectly.  I was also impressed with how sturdy the canvas was - it is wrapped tightly, and it has some heavy-duty hardware to make for easy hanging on the wall.  I also checked out the Canvas Champ website, and the prices were amazing!  Way less expensive than any other canvas websites that I have come across, and I thought the quality was really great for the price!

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I think it is going to look great with the other things I have so far - I have a lantern, some scientific drawing prints (you have to see them to know what I mean - trust me, they're cool), and a chalkboard.  I'm thinking I want to add some sort of script art, and maybe a mirror. Eventually I will post an update and show you all the finished wall!  I just have to figure out how I want to put it all together.  Who knows, maybe I'll get another picture printed on canvas to add to it!

Canvas Champ was also kind enough to offer an 8x12 inch canvas to one of my readers!  You can enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

7/21/14

Topic Dump

You know when there are some things that make you think "I should blog about this", but they never seem to fit into a post?  I'm dumping them all into this post today.  You are welcome.



"Our Show"

Derek is starting to travel more again for work, and I miss him a lot.  The summer was far too short for us.  I want to try to think of more date-type things that we can do at home, but for now we have a standard date on Sunday nights, watching "our show", The Hunt.

For those of you who don't know, I have been hunting big game since I was twelve years old - but this show is pretty hard core!  It's all about hunting Alaskan brown bears in Kodiak, but the way it is filmed is so impressive to me.  I honestly don't know how the cameramen get such clear shots of the bears, and they do a great job of presenting the stories of the hunters and guides, and the reason behind hunting (conservation). It's very well done.

These big bears are cannibalistic, and they will kill off any cubs they come across.  They may charge the hunters at any moment, which makes the show pretty exciting and scary.

(I was pretty much completely paranoid about the kids getting too close to this rail at the zoo, especially afar watching this show.  Those bears are dangerous!)

Anyway, it's a fascinating show.  Hunting shows have come a long way since I used to watch them with my dad on the Outdoor Channel when I was growing up.



I actually need some shows that I can watch by myself during the week when Derek is gone though - does anyone have a favorite show I should check out?  I get so bored and lonely when he's not here.  I need distraction.



A Free Gift

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I got an e-mail from a company called Red Envelope a while back, saying that they liked my blog and they just wanted to send me a gift.  No strings attached.  They didn't want me to review it on my blog or anything!  That has never happened to me before.  It was such a pleasant surprise, so of course I had to mention it on the blog anyway.  They sent us this cute little "tummy time mat" for Clyde - personalized and everything!  It is so cute and soft.  They sell lots of cute baby gifts, if you want to check them out!

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MOPS Publicity Team

I am serving on the publicity team for MOPS this year.  This basically involves coming up with content for our group's blog and running all online MOPS group activity - so I have been working on a new blog design for the last few weeks. I tell you, I have never had so much to think about for a blog design (I usually just design for myself, or a friend occasionally).  It's just different trying to come up with something for a whole group, as opposed to an individual.  I think it's almost done, and I am so happy.  I'm ready to think less about HTML and more about content.  

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(I saw the title of the book above and I jumped at the chance to read it - hoping for inspiration.)

The theme for MOPS this year is "Be you, Bravely".  I thought that was very appropriate since it was a big deal for me to tell the MOPS girls that I have a blog.  I don't know why, but I don't usually mention it people.  Anyway, if you see any brave-related resources, send them my way!  I need all the ideas I can get for content.  It feels different writing things for our MOPS blog.  Here I can just write whatever I want (as evidenced by this completely random post).


Some Exciting News

Finally - I have some exciting news!  

I have been a part of Tommy Nelson's "Tommy Mommy" program for a little over a year - this is the program that allows me to review and give away most of the children's books I post about on the blog.
  
Well, a couple months ago, Tommy Nelson asked me to join a team of moms who write for their blog!  I'll be writing a post for them once a month.  I am so honored that they liked my blog enough to choose me for the position, and I am so excited about my first post coming up next week - so keep an eye out for that.



We're also having a Tommy Mommy meet-up in Nashville in September - they are flying all of us out for a weekend!  I have never done anything like that before, so this is a big deal for me.  Have any of you ever gone to a blogger conference or meet-up?  Anything I should do to prepare?


That is all I have for now.  I feel like these type of list posts can be clumsy, but it is the best and easiest way to handle those straggler topics that I want to mention, but that won't take up a full post.  Am I right?  

7/18/14

Clyde At Three Months

Note: The full update on Clyde, with pictures, is on my photo blog - you can request to follow it here, or follow me on Instagram for occasional pics.

Clyde is three months old!

(My and my boy, getting some snuggle time on on the 4th of July.)

We took him in to the doctor for his two month checkup, and found out that he is over 11 pounds!  I forget how many ounces - I want to say 2 ounces, but I lost the sheet, so I can't check for sure.  We are about to switch him to size 1 diapers.  He is in mostly 0-3 month clothes, though a couple 3-6 month outfits are starting to fit.

A few things that happened this month:

-We got him circumcised.  Poor boy.  We couldn't do it in the hospital because our doctor was out of town.  Then we couldn't do it at his two week checkup because I was on blood thinners, and Clyde was bleeding too much from the needle prick - so we didn't want to risk his circumcision bleeding too much.  We were finally able to do it, and he was inconsolable for 45 minutes.  If I ever have another boy and our pediatrician is unavailable, I'm just going to ask a hospital doctor to do it at birth.  I don't know why I didn't think of that at the time.

-We left him for the first time to go on a date!  He got to spend some quality time with Gramie and Poppa!

-He rolled over from his stomach to his back on July 5th!  It was mostly an accident, but I'm counting it.

-He started laughing on July 3rd!  It sounded like a little laugh/hiccup, and it was so cute.  He has laughed several times since at Derek, and once or twice at me.  I love the baby giggles.

-He started getting over his colic!  We didn't do anything different, I think he is just starting to outgrow it.  Over the last two weeks he has just started crying a lot less, and smiling a lot more.

-We tried out his Bumbo seat for the first time!  He looks pretty adorable in it.


He is still sleeping pretty well - he will usually go an 8 hour stretch at night.  His doctor is very impressed.  Where we are having trouble is with falling asleep.  He usually has to be asleep or mostly asleep before I put him down or we have to go in multiple times to give him a pacifier.  I don't like that he needs his pacifier to fall asleep.  My other kids found their thumbs, and that was so much easier, so I'm holding out hope.  I'm thinking once Derek starts traveling I'm going to start attempting to get him to go to sleep on his own - that way if it is a disaster, only one of us is losing sleep.  I also think I'm a little better at the sleep training (sorry Babe!), so we'll see how it goes.

What I'm loving most this month?  Clyde's sweet little personality is starting to show more now that the colic is clearing up!   He loves Wyatt and Gwen - all they have to do is look at him, and it's ear-to-ear.  He likes to look around more and more, and he seemed to be a fan of the bumbo seat when we tried it.   He likes to be tickled.  He gives me this huge grin whenever I kiss his cheek.  He is so happy in the morning, or when his tummy is full, and he'll just smile at anyone who comes near him.  I love my sweet, happy boy.

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My Little Baby Clyde,

Sweetie, your personality is showing through more and more this month, and I love it!  You have a smile for everyone, and you love it when people talk to you.  I think you are going to be sociable, but you still like to be with me best.  

I think mornings are my favorite time with you.  You usually wake up once around 4:00, and then you'll sleep until 7:00 or so - and then I bring you into bed with me, and we snuggle and snooze for a little while longer.  Eventually you'll get squirmy, and I'll say "good morning", and you give me that biggest smile possible and talk to me with your sweet baby coos.  It's a time for just me and you, to smile and talk and play and tickle.  I love those moments, sweet boy.  Sometimes I wish you would stay little forever.

I love you more than all the mosquitos in the summer (and that's saying something).

Love Always,
Mama

7/16/14

3 Natural Birth Resources

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Shortly after we found out we were pregnant last year, I decided I wanted to try for a natural birth. 

I have no problems with epidurals, but there were a few reasons I want to give natural birth a try:  (1) to save money, (2) because my recovery was so much easier after my natural birth with my daughter, and (3) to prove to myself I could give birth naturally by choice instead of just by necessity.  

There is only so much you can do to prepare for labor, and I don't think anything fully prepared me for how intense the transition phase of labor was!  However, there were three labor resources that I found encouraging and helpful when I was trying to mentally prepare for giving birth naturally, and I wanted to share them here for all of you ladies who are interested.


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I rented this DVD from the library when we were pregnant with our first child.  We didn't take a childbirth class, so this was our version of a class.  This is not a DVD about natural childbirth - all the medical interventions that can be involved with childbirth are discussed as well.  But the reason I am listing it is because the breathing methods discussed were so helpful to me during my labors.  The instructor is a lamaze teacher, so she goes through the three classic Lamaze breathing techniques.  Breathing through each contraction was the main thing that helped me through all three of my labors, but especially with my natural labors.  Focusing on each technique took my mind off the pain, helped me relax, and made the contractions much more manageable.  I thought it was useful to have the breathing demonstrated and practice beforehand, and this DVD was great for that.


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This entire book is about giving birth naturally in a hospital, and I thought the information was useful and interesting.  The author does advocate for having a doula and picking a caregiver that is supportive of a natural birth - those sections weren't as helpful to me because I already had a caregiver I was comfortable with, and I couldn't afford a doula.  What I thought was most helpful about this book were the tips on how to handle things in the hospital to give yourself the best chance of succeeding - how to get the hospital staff on board and postpone certain interventions.  I felt pretty motivated and confident that I could have a good chance at a successful natural hospital birth through utilizing the information in this book.


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I read this book mostly to see what the fuss was about.  First, I have to say that I did not like everything in this book.  I felt like a lot of the philosophy was more New Age in nature, I didn't like the fertility idols she seemed enthralled with, and The Farm sounds kind of cultish to me.   I think Christians should read this book with discernment.  She was also fairly anti-hospital in this book, and since I knew that I wanted a hospital birth, I refused to accept the parts where she seemed to imply that it was difficult or impossible to succeed at natural birth in a hospital.  What I did find useful was some of the information on helping your body along in labor - different positions, relaxing your muscles in labor, etc.  Even though I didn't like many of her philosophies, I did feel more confident in my ability to give birth naturally after reading the practical information that was shared.

That is all I have!  Do any of you have resources that you found helpful before giving birth?
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