Monday, March 26, 2012

Discount Codes for Hunger Games books! About a dollar each!

I came across a discount code for the Hunger Game e-book trilogy that is an AWESOME deal! It's from and expires March 31, 2012. Although, sometimes these codes go out of control on the internet, so if you're going to by them, do it soon!

The codes are  HungerGamesDeal2 for Hunger Games (ends up being 83 cents), HungerGamesDeal3 for Catching Fire ($1.16), and HungerGamesDeal for Mockingjay ($1.07). So you get all 3 for like $3!

I guess Kobo has their own e-reader, so it's not a file that will just automatically play on everything. It is an EPUB file, so if you check out books for a Nook, it will download to Adobe Digital Editions like the library books do. If you're trying to read them on a Kindle or iphone, check out Kobo and see what they say. You may have to download some sort of app or conversion.

I did buy these and they downloaded nicely to my Adobe Digital Editions, which I'll just transfer over like I do library books.


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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Motherhood Real-Life: I Hated Breastfeeding

(Gratuitous cute pic of my son I mention in this post. Because I hate posting without a pic. 
Plus, pretty sure I had just been nursing here - note Boppy pillow and scrunched up shirt.)

Yes, I am ready for the social backlash for that comment. I will preface this post by saying that I'm in no way trying to argue the fact that breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, the best thing for a baby. I'm not trying to negate the fact that it was the most precious time you had with your baby. I'm not trying to rub salt in the wound that you desperately wanted to nurse and couldn't.

I'm just saying. I hated it. This is tantamount, I think, in today's mommyland, to my saying that I don't make my kids eat what I made for dinner. Inconceivable! But I don't think it does new mothers any favors to pretend that everything is sunshine and rainbows. Not everybody loves to breastfeed. Not everyone even likes it. Nursing caused me to feel overwhelming anxiety and resentment toward my baby. And I'll be honest, I'm selfish and a control-freak, which further complicated the situation.

Here's the thing. I tried to love it. Everyone loves it. And even if you don't love it, you at least stick with it for the good of your child and their health. That's what good moms do. Right?

But then here's what happened. I did a decent job with my first. Nursed until she was almost six months. Respectable enough (but never did like it). Then I had my second when my oldest was 18 months. Still a baby herself, really. And oddly enough, she did not GET why I had to make myself completely unavailable to her for eternal (to her) lengths of time every few hours. Having kids close in age is a lot of work. Having a husband who is rarely home is a lot of work. Breastfeeding is also a lot of work, especially if you happen to have breasts that dispense milk in super-slo-mo. And I found myself resenting it. Baby #2 would cry, my husband would hand him to me and ask, "Do you want to nurse him?" and I would snarl something like, "Do I want to nurse him? Not really. But I want him to live and all, so someone's gotta feed him." Tender, right?

So I sat down and thought about it. Why was I nursing? It was the best thing for my baby. But... that wasn't really why I was nursing. I was nursing because I was scared to say I had stopped. Especially because I had stopped for no good reason. Just because I didn't like it. "Well, see, I was getting really sick of being the only member of my family who was constantly having their dinner interrupted to go breastfeed, so... you know..." Nope. Couldn't do it.

I once had a well-meaning friend, right after I stopped breastfeeding, innocently ask me, "You know breastfeeding is the best thing for your baby, right?" As my brain thought, Really? I have NEVER heard that before! Fascinating! my mouth said, "Just because breast milk is the best thing for your baby doesn't mean that breastfeeding is the best thing for your family." And that's what it came down to.

I wanted to look back on my son's infancy and treasure those memories. I did not want them to be clouded by resentment and irritation toward him simply for needing to eat. My husband was dealing with a crazy, snarly meanie (me, obviously). My daughter was spending vast amounts of time wandering around the house unattended at the tender age of 1. I was up all night feeding my son, and then got to handle the joys of parenting 2 babies while my husband was gone 14-16 hours a day. It was not working.

I was wracked with guilt. What would people say? What would I say when they asked why I wasn't nursing? I had never, ever heard another mother say they had stopped breastfeeding because they simply didn't like it. I imagined the stony-eyed silence at Playgroup.

But I did it anyway. I wanted to enjoy my little guy. And whatever the personal demons that were causing me to feel this way, I didn't really care. So I stopped. Pumped for a while, then switched him over to formula.

The weird thing was that after that I LOVED feeding him. It was like when I was a kid, the difference between cleaning my room when it was my own idea versus cleaning it because my mom made me. I loved to snuggle him and coo to him and stroke his face while he ate. And as my joy in mothering him returned, my guilt quickly disappeared.

And oddly enough, no one cared. If people asked, I just said, "It wasn't working out for us." And that was that.

I read someone on the internet once say that her doctor gave her some sort of depression-related diagnosis having to do with this anxiety and resentment over breastfeeding. I'm not going to say that I'm 100% positive that it didn't partially have to do with post-partum depression on the chance that it does. I'm not going to chalk it up to that on the chance that it doesn't, and I'm just a really selfish mom. The truth is that I don't know what caused these feelings. I just know that they were real to me.

I guess the point here is that we need to be real with each other. Be honest about the difficulties of new motherhood and the options we have. And when someone chooses something different from us, to be gentle with each other. Motherhood is tough enough as it is.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fun and Easy Sewing Idea for Kids - Toy Pillows!

I love to let my kids sew with me, since I really wish I'd learned to sew when I was younger (not that stumbling through YouTube tutorials isn't effective and all, but....). But it's hard to find projects that are easy enough that they can truly do a large part of it themselves.

Last week we decided to make little pillows for the kids' dolls and stuffed animals. I brought down my box of scraps, and my kids sorted through to find what they wanted. My son chose two random flannel prints that totally clashed, but who cares? (That's me not being a control freak. I'm practicing.)

First, make a template out of cardboard. Mine was about 5 inches by 7 inches. Then your child can trace the template on the wrong side of your fabric(s). You'll need two of these. Cut out, or have your kids cut it out, and pin the two sides together if desired, right sides together.

Start on one of the long sides, and sew down the edge until you get about a quarter inch from the bottom. Make sure your needle is stabbed into the fabric (expert sewing terminology, thanks YouTube), and rotate the fabric 90 degrees. Sew down the short side. Repeat the pivot, and sew down the last long side. I let my kids sit on my lap and press the pedal, with my food under theirs for safety. They go when I say go and stop when I say stop. For my younger two (ages 4 & 2), I handle the fabric. My oldest (age 6) is learning to manipulate the fabric herself, with my supervision.

At this point, flip the pillow so it's right side out.

Let your child stuff it with some polyfill.

Then shove the polyfill down a little, tuck your ends in, and sew that last seam nice and close to the edge.

Because this was a project for dolls and stuffed animals, I didn't worry that the whole last seam was visible when none of the others were. Oddly enough, Poley the Polar Bear didn't complain either. But if that kind of thing matters to you, just stitch half the fourth side when you do the other three and then hand stitch it shut, I guess.

Loved this project so much. It literally takes about 5 minutes, and takes such a minimal amount of fabric. My kids loved seeing fabrics that had originally been used to make clothes for them, and using those same fabrics to make matching pillows for their toys. We made some with the cousins too, and this worked for both boys and girls, from ages 2-9. We will definitely be making more of these at our house! My daughter has plans for a matching patchwork quilt, so I guess at some point I'll have to break it to her that I don't know how to sew a doll quilt. But then again, there's always YouTube....

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cranberry Hootycreeks

You'll want to eat these cookies just because of their great name. It feels sort of.... I don't know, vaguely Southern and/or trashy or something.

I first came across this recipe looking for a neighbor gift for Christmas one year. It's one of those recipes that you can layer the dry ingredients in a mason jar and give it away with the recipe attached. Really cute that way. If you want some pics and instructions on that, make friends with Google.

Oh, and I recently saw a recipe very similar to this on the back of the bag of Craisins. That's how you know it's good. My ex-chef husband says that the recipes on the back of products are always the best ones because companies want their products to taste good when you bake with them!

Anyway, tangent aside, here's the recipe for the cookies themselves (from with my notes in italics):

    • 2 ¼ cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup softened butter
    • 23 cup brown sugar
    • 23 cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 1 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional - I think pecans would be best here, but I've never made them with nuts myself)

  1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Cream butter, then add sugars, eggs & vanilla.
  3. Mix in flour mixture & oats, then cranberries, chips & nuts.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. (Note: For my oven it took 12 minutes for each batch. You'll want to pull these babies when they look underdone in the middle and the edges are just starting to brown. In fact, I brushed my sleeve against one taking it out of the oven and obliterated it. So don't let them get to where you would consider them "done" when you take them out, or they will be way too hard once they're cooled.)

Makes about 36 cookies.


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Monday, March 12, 2012

Tips for Moving

We're getting ready to move soon, and this will be our second move in two years. The first time around our system worked so well, I'm attempting to do it the same way again.

I decided to go through my whole house WELL in advance (think, several months) of our move, going through every drawer, shelf, and cabinet and deciding what to keep, toss, and give away. With plenty of time before things got REALLY crazy, I was able to take stuff to donate, sell things on Craigslist, have a garage sale, etc. By the time moving day came along, EVERYTHING left in the house got packed.

I started by making a checklist of each and every room and closet. When I had a few minutes, I'd start on a room and go slowly, going through one area at a time. If I didn't consider it worth the time and space to pack, move, and unpack the item, we got rid of it. Trash, donate, sell, whatever.

This strategy saved us from having to make the decisions during the crunch time of the actual move. It helped us better estimate what size moving van we needed (and save money by getting a smaller one!). We were able to get a fair price for our stuff when selling it, because we weren't desperate to do it right away. For special things that weren't coming with us, we had time to find them a good home. People were able to help us pack because I could just say, "Everything left in that bathroom is going. Pack it all." The benefits went on and on.

I'm starting this process again right now (in my kids' room - UGH!), and with each bag that comes out ready to go to the trash or the thrift store, it makes me so happy to know that's one less load of stuff that I'll have to pack and unpack.

Moving is never fun, particularly when you have little kids. But using this system makes it as painless as possible, at least!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

WFD? Menu planning made easy

What's for dinner?

We used to plan our meals a week at a time, but we're busy parents with young kids and a life that gets crazy, and inevitably, Monday would roll around again and we wouldn't have our week planned out. In December, we decided to make a monthly meal plan because of the holiday craziness, and it worked out so well, we've been doing it ever since.

First we decided on a "Category" for each day of the week. Although you could do anything, ours are: Monday = Regional/Ethnic, Tuesday = Kids' Favorites, Wednesday = Soups/Salads, Thursday = Family Favorites, Friday = Breakfast for Dinner, Saturday = Leftovers. Sundays we eat with family so that varies.

We usually do Tuesdays first, and ask the kids what meals they'd like for the upcoming month. Then we pencil in Wednesdays (soups) and Fridays (breakfasts). Then we do Mondays, and think of some ethnic meals, maybe browse Pinterest or our cookbooks for ideas. Then we fill in Thursdays with just miscellaneous meals that we've been craving that didn't make it in anywhere else.

We buy meat throughout the month and freeze it as it comes on sale, and when we menu plan, we take into account any meat that we have in the freezer, or leftovers in the freezer that need to get used up. We also think of any other ingredients we have lying around that need to be used (produce, etc.).

For some reason, it is so much easier to come up with 4 soups for the month, 4 breakfasts, etc. than it would be to just sit down and plan out a month at a time. We keep the calendar on the fridge, and if we think of any meals during the month that we want to put in the following month, we just make a note on the calendar.

If anyone would like, I'd be more than happy to do a follow-up post of lists of dinners in each category. This method has been working so well for us - finally something we can stick with for menu planning!

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