Monday, June 30, 2008

Pay It Forward!

Inspired by Swistle, I am one of many participants in a group of Pay It Forward contests. Here's how it works:

1. I tell you about a prize.

2. You decided to enter the contest and leave a comment on this post, by the deadline.

3. I use a random number generator to select a winner.

4. I send the prize to the winner.

5. The winner sends a fun package to someone else.

For my prize, I'm going to put together a writerly package. It will include things like a fun/funky journal or notebook, pens, note cards, or other items along those lines. The winner of my Pay It Forward will be able to choose whether she'd like writerly items geared toward an adult or a child (the child's option, for one example, would likely include stickers).

To enter you must leave a comment on this post by Friday, July 4, at 4 p.m. EST. If you don't know what to say, how about leaving the name of a book you really love, or telling me if you've ever kept a journal.

I'll announce the winner sometime the following week, and, with any luck, I'll get the package mailed out before Christmas.

If I don't know you personally, make sure you leave an email address or blog link in your comment, that way I'll be able to let you know you've won!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blog Karma

After my last post, full of fascinating product reviews, I had an experience related to each of the products.

1) After my not so glowing review of the Schick Intuition razor, I got an email from someone offering to send me a competitor's razor to try for free. Part of me says, "Yes, please!" and part of me says, "What's the catch?" I haven't responded to the email yet. Do you think if I post a negative review of my car someone will offer to send me a free minivan to try?

2) I received the June issue of Wondertime. I had already received the July/August issue and hadn't even realized I was missing an issue, but it was such a pleasant surprise to have another to read that I don't really mind that they came out of order. I am trying to stretch out the reading of the June issue because there won't be another one until September. (Yes, I like it that much.)

3) Michael had what will surely be referred to as The Great Diaper Blowout of Aught Eight, and I thought to myself, "Self, you should document this in order to prove the worth of the Shout Advanced you spoke so highly of." And I did.

The results of The Great Diaper Blowout of Aught Eight:

Michael, giving his best, "Who, me?" look:

The post-laundry, totally stain free clothes:

In the interest of full disclosure I will share that stains of such proportions did require two treatments and two trips through the washer to be totally removed. Matt (who would, by the way, like the credit for cleaning the baby after said diaper blowout) was ready to just throw the clothes away, so bad were the stains. Shout Advanced, I sing thy praises! (Edited to add: When I look at that photo, it seems like there is a tiny hint of a shadow of a stain on the lighter piece of clothing, I swear to you, this cannot be seen in when I am holding the actual item in front of my face!)

And now, for some unrelated bonus content:

Harper has taken to falling asleep with sunglasses on because it is, according to her, too bright in her room when she tries to sleep.

Stay tuned, in a day or two there's going to be a contest!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Unsolicited Product Reviews

There are a couple of things I have been eager to talk about here, whether the Internet cares for my opinion or not. I'm not getting paid to review anything (ha!) and suspect my readership would have to increase mightily before anyone would care to pay me to do so. . .

Something I don't like -- the Schick Intuition Plus razor. To be fair, it's pretty and I think the idea behind it is a good one, but it just doesn't work for me. I have over a dozen of these things because they were giving them away when I was in the hospital for a month and just about everyone who walked through the door left one for me. The supposed benefit is that this razor eliminates the need for shaving gel/cream etc. This point is lost on me because I don't use those things anyway. In my experience the surrounding skin conditioning stuff is too big in the beginning, making it difficult to get a close shave and making the whole thing unduly slippery. I've been through several of these now and there is a very small window between when the conditioner ceases to be too big and when it falls off completely. I find the razor very uncomfortable once the conditioning stuff is gone so I am going through them pretty quickly. I would not pay for refills at the rate I would need them. We do have a bit of a moisture problem in our bathroom, so it is possible that the razor would hold up better under drier conditions. It just seems to me that a product designed for bathroom use shouldn't fall apart when it gets wet.

Now for two things I really like.

The first is Shout Advanced stain remover. (It will come in handy for the blood I got on my sheets after cutting myself with the slippery razor.) I cannot say enough good things about this concoction. We have had some severe baby stains in these parts lately. In particular, I have had many items stained by regurgitated baby vitamins with iron in them and by prune juice, both dribbled from the bottle and spit up. This stuff is amazing. A few days ago Michael spit up prune juice all over a fuzzy white blanket; I treated it with the Shout stuff, washed it normally (in cold water with regular Tide) and I can no longer tell there was ever a stain there, I kid you not. The only baby stains this has not removed completely are the ones I failed to thoroughly spray. It works for set in stains (days old!) and fresh stains. It seems important to rub it in well and let it sit for at least a few minutes before laundering (you can leave stains for several days after treating if need be), but I swear the stuff is practically magic. The only downfall is that it warns to wash your hands after you use it, so you'd definitely want to keep it away from the kiddos. A certain three-year-old I know has a tendency to play with exactly this sort of thing if it is accidentally left within her reach.

I was unable to find a link for this product, but if you're looking for it in the store it comes in a blue spray bottle. I wouldn't sent it in the mail, but the next local person I know to have a baby shower is totally getting a bottle with their gift.

The other thing I really like is Wondertime magazine. A few of months ago a friend (Hi, Moira!) sent me a piece from the magazine about blogging and a couple of weeks later I received a card in the mail saying that another friend (Hi, Jill!) had given me a subscription. I've received three issues so far and read them all cover to cover (the other parenting magazine I get I usually flip through, but I'm not sure I've read one issue cover to cover in three plus years). I find the issues nearly as engaging as a compelling novel. Wondertime is beautiful but not cute. The style (layout/photography) has a nostalgic feeling to it, bringing to mind all the happiest of my fuzzy childhood memories, without being cheesy at all. The advice is gentle, the opinion pieces are balanced, and it is relatively very light on the advertising. So far (three issues in) I haven't come across a single article of the scary and over-reactive type I feel like I'm seeing in lots of parenting magazines these days. No seven page pull-out on 398 seemingly harmless summer items that could maim your innocent child. They do highlight kid friendly products and I find it refreshing that most of their suggestions are affordable for the masses and not only items to put on a list for the day I win the lottery. I am not sure how apt a description this is, but it feels more like I'm reading really well written essays than articles. The NPR of parenting magazines, perhaps?

Oddly enough I am not as taken with their website, but that's fine by me, because I really do not need one more thing to keep me busy online!

So there you have it, some advice you didn't ask for! Go ahead and leave your thoughts about these, or similar, products in the comments, I dare you.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Shhhhh. . .

Okay, I'm going to say this really quietly and try not to jinx things. . .

Michael slept from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. the last two nights.

Truth be told, I'm a little freaked out by this. I was actually horrified that he'd been awake, hungry, in the middle of the night and I'd just not noticed. However, since he's still sleeping in our room that is fairly unlikely. He is not gaining weight at alarming rates and I'm a little nervous that he's not big enough to be sleeping through the night. Plus this new sleep schedule, combined with the fact that Matt gives him a bottle at 5 a.m. means I might be on the verge of getting decent sleep again, which is so delicious a thought I nearly cry considering it.

I'm tempted to call the doctor and ask whether this is okay. Then again, we'll be there in two weeks anyway and there's always a chance this is a fluke.

My mom is all, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth you idiot!" (I might have added the idiot part.)

The truth is, if he were three months + old and hadn't been a preemie, I would have been trying to make this happen for at least a month already.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Looking Less Like a Disgruntled Old Man By the Day

Last month:

This month:

I love my baby dearly, and I am still able to admit that for a long time now he's looked decidedly more like a troll or an old man than a sweet little boy. But perhaps we are entering a wonderage (complete with more social personality and sleeping through the night perhaps?) because I have noticed a change lately. In the last few days Michael has really begun to inch up on the adorable scale. (Whew!)

When we were up at my parents' house last week, Michael, Harper, and I were all hanging out in my bed. Harper and I were talking to him in that ooey-gooey voice reserved for the smallest of babies and he looked squarely at her and gave her a huge, gummy, ear-to-ear, crinkly-eyed grin. His first smile, smiled, appropriately, at his big sister. It took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I will always treasure that moment. How special for Harper that she'll always know Michael smiled his first smile for her. When she tells people about it she says, "Michael smiled at me all by himself!"

Speaking of Harper, Swistle recently commented that she loved the three's for the talking, and she is so right. My brother came over for lunch on Monday and was yawning (a little too much partying, Jamie???). Harper asked if he was tired and invited him to have a "napover" with her.

I love, love, love the insight into Harper's thoughts that she is constantly providing through her chatter. I love how she is learning to use language. AND I love the childish mispronunciations and misunderstandings that come with learning language. Many of them I hate to correct because all too soon she'll outgrow them on her own. (Remember "fyock?" Sigh.) Right now my favorite mispronunciation is elevator; Harper says, "elegator." And when she says remember, she leaves the "b" sound out, "rememer?" And many of her "th" sounds come out like "f"; so thirty is "firty." These little quirks are something about this age that I know I'm going to miss.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weather Watchers

I think I will need prescription for anti-anxiety meds before this summer is over. I used to love a good thunderstorm, but something has shifted in me and they now give me a very severe nervous tummy. I would like to note that I have always had a healthy respect for tornadoes (it happens fairly automatically if you grow up in the midwest), but my respect (read: intense fear) has been ratcheted up a notch of late.

Part of the reason for this is certainly the insane storm season we've had here already, and all the horrific tornadoes so early in the year. But I think another reason I am so much more nervous about storms, specifically tornadoes, is the fact that I have children now and I just can't stand the thought of anything happening to them.

We had the first major storm/tornado threat in our part of Ohio a little over a week ago. I believe it was a Tuesday night, sometime after eight, when the sirens went off. Harper was already out cold for the night. I started yelling for her to “getup!getup!getup!getup!” which she reacted to by not moving or blinking or giving any other sign that she could hear anything. So I had myself a little Sophie’s Choice moment when I debated which child I should leave to the mercy of the tornado while I ran the other one down to the basement. Since I was already holding the baby, he got to be ferried to the basement first. Then I ran back up for Harper - thankfully our house had not been leveled while I saved the youngest child - carried her downstairs, and deposited her safely in an armchair. As an afterthought, I ran back up for Harper’s epi pens (Because the food at the shelter where we’d have to stay after the house had been leveled might not be safe and then where would we be?), the diaper bag, and my cell phone. And then we waited.

Michael was surprisingly content to let me entertain him as he lay on the floor, while I kept half an eye on the fuzzy reception of the local weather report on the basement television.

Harper passed the time doing some sort of bizarre sleep yoga. The next morning she had no memory of being in the basement. (And, yes, she still wears a diaper to bed. BIG SIGH. That is for another post.) As luck would have it, my camera was in the diaper bag and I was able to document Harper’s strange position changes.

Fortunately we all survived that evening unscathed.

We also missed the worst of the severe weather which cut through our path to my parents' house last Friday. Although the storms did blow two semi trucks over, turning I-65 into a parking lot for nearly half an hour. At least Harper got to see her first ever real-life rainbow while we were sitting in the resulting traffic.

The first Saturday we were here we all ended up in the basement as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms swept this area of Wisconsin.

Sunday we drove back from my aunt's house in torrential downpours, during which I was sure our car was going to be washed off the road.

The weather last night and this evening has sent me scurrying around making sure there were working flashlights and putting needed items in the basement "just in case."

And we are very fortunate not to be in a town where severe flooding is occuring. Just yesterday a friend was going to drive out from Madison to see us but couldn't because, oops, the freeway is under water.

Mother Nature? We've had enough, okay?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I can't believe I haven't posted in nearly two weeks. Oops!

We are fine. We are on "vacation" in Wisconsin this week and getting here was one of the worst drives we've EVER had.

Michael is awake more and completely discontent unless he's being snuggled or fed. Even with extra adults around to help, this is not conducive to getting anything accomplished, especially with a three-year-old who requires a little attention now and again.

I kept thinking I would be able to catch up a little this week but limited computer access has turned that plan on its head.

We are really enjoying our time with my family, who we don't see often enough. My dad is headed out of town for the next two days. He was telling Harper that he'd be in Detroit for work and she said, "You get a one day vacation from the house, how special for you!"

My sister told Harper she would sleep over here tomorrow night and Harper said, "That's because I'm totally old enough to have a sleepover!"

Harper has been entertaining and maddening this trip. She alternating between cute and funny and downright awful. She told my dad she likes coming here because she is the boss in this house. Ha!

My sweet mother is sitting on the couch right now, holding the pacifier that Michael wants but cannot reliably keep in his mouth. So I am typing on borrowed time.

So this random post with little substance is mostly to let you know we haven't dropped off the face of the planet. I hope to be back soon with regular posts and pictures. Kisses to you, Internet!