Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Gotta Be One of the Two: A Boy or a Girl


T minus 11 days until we find out the gender of baby #2. Everyone keeps asking me if I think it's a boy or a girl... and I honestly have no idea! Every time I think I know, something happens and I start thinking the opposite. Here is my "research" so far...

Gender Prediction Charts
According to TheBump.com's Gender Prediction chart, this baby will be a girl. BUT... that same chart said Paige would be a boy. So was it just wrong with Paige? Or is it always wrong? All official "Chinese Gender Prediction" chart says this baby will be a boy. And that one was right for Paige, and all of my friends (except for my sister... it said girl, and she is having a boy).

Old Wives' Tales
The telltale sign that confirmed I was having a girl weeks before the actual ultrasound confirmation was the brown mark that appeared on my face. The same thing happened to my mom while she was pregnant with my sister and then with me. But I haven't gotten any brown spots yet. So that means it must be a boy, right? But I HAVE gotten two fat deposits (little white pimple looking things) in the last two weeks.. one under each eye. I read that those marks may also signal a girl is on the way.

The Swinging Ring
Have you heard the gender test where you tie your ring to a lock of hair and hold it over your belly? If it moves in a circular motion, then you are having a girl. If it moves like a pendulum, then it means you are having a boy. I just tired it out and it swung from side to side like a pendulum. Check one for the BOY box, right? Well... not so fast my friend. It swung the same way for Miss Paige back in August 2009 (I checked my blog archives).

So can you tell why I really have NO idea on the gender of this baby? We'll know for sure on January 6. I have a fun way to let you all know, too : ) So stay tuned...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Being a Stay at Home Mama: Making it Work Financially


Over the last year or so I've received more than a few inquiries on how I've been able to be a stay at home mama on a single income. I've always responded individually, but I think it's a very valid question and so I figured I'd write a post about it.

First of all, it's not easy. We're not independently wealthy, nor does my husband make so much money that going from a double income to single income family was an easy decision. It was actually very difficult for our hearts and our brains to meet up on the final decision for me to resign from my job and stay home with our baby. Both my husband and I instantly felt like it was the best thing for our family - but would our dollars stretch enough to cover all our expenses? Mortgage payments, car payments, utilities, groceries, and unexpected expenses? As soon as I found out I was pregnant the first time around, we looked at our budget and figured out where we could cut back. Then, we basically lived off Daniel's salary and put mine in our savings account (or as much of it as we could) each month.

After my last official paycheck came in February of 2010, it was definitely a shock to us financially. We had planned for it, but seeing our monthly income cut in half was a real eye-opener. We're going on a year of single-income living, and to be 100% honest, we take it a few months at a time and then reevaluate financially. We pull from our savings for unexpected expenses (i.e. medical, house stuff) and we stretch our other dollars as much as we can. Here are a few ways I found to cut back... my motto is "Every Little Bit Helps..." And if you are determined to stay home, there is always a way to make it work.

1. Refinancing our Mortgage: This may not be an option for everyone, but we were able to refinance from a 6.5% to 5.25% mortgage last year. We didn't have to bring any money to the table, and were able to reduce our monthly payment by around $300. Not a HUGE amount, but enough for groceries each month!

2. Cut out Cable Extras: Daniel and I LOVE our TV shows... especially HBO. It's our time to relax and spend time together once Paige goes to bed. But at an extra $30-$40 per month for the "movie channels", we couldn't justify the cost vs. the two or three shows/movies we watched each month. So I called and had those cut from our plan. Now we get the shows we missed from Netflix, or catch up on our favorite shows when they do "Free Preview Weeks" on the movie channels.

3. Buy in Bulk: Now, I'm not talking Costco kind of bulk (we personally don't have the room to store 500 cans of green beans), but I grocery shop every two weeks instead of every few days. I buy what's on sale and that's what we eat for the next two weeks. Spaghetti, chicken, rice, homemade pizzas - you'd be surprised how creative you can get when you are on a budget! I need to get better about coupons - I use them all the time for Paige's necessities (formula and diapers) but always forget to look for them before doing my regular shopping.

4. Look at What You Can Sell: For us, it was our cars. After some research, we realized our Jeeps were worth a lot more than we owed on them, and we were able to sell them for a significant profit. We then downsized to 4-door sedans vs. gas-guzzling SUVs to save on gas. Our payments were also cut in half. Do I miss my SUV sometimes? YES! But I'm very happy with my car and the fact that selling the Jeeps gave us enough wiggle room for me to stay home for a while longer.

5. Remember Tax Time!: If you're income is cut in half, most likely you will drop to a lower tax bracket... which means a bigger tax return (in most cases)! Also, if you own a home, you'll get a large tax return based on that alone - so stash that away in a savings account for those unforeseen expenses that may come up. Or, to transfer over a few hundred each month to help supplement your husband's paycheck.

6. Get a Side Hustle: My friend once told me that, "You always need a side hustle..." What exactly is a "side hustle" you ask? Something to create a little bit of cash flow when times get tight or to bring in a little extra money each month. I have two "side hustles" - this blog and my make-up business. Neither is creating a gold mine for me, but each brings in a little money each month without a ton of overhead expense. Beyond finances, a side hustle lets you retain some part of your former self and have adult conversation (or vent to other adults, in my case with this blog). : )

So, you can see I'm definitely not an expert on this topic. But since people asked, I figured I would pass along tips on how I've managed to make it work over the last year. The first step is to layout ALL your monthly expenses - mortgage payment, average grocery bill, car payments, utilities, entertainment - and compare the total to the income of the parent who plans to continue working. Is it enough to cover the necessities without going into foreclosure on your home or defaulting on loans? If not, what is the difference? Can you save that much x 12 to cover you for a year of staying home before the baby is born? Is there a "side hustle" you can manage to maintain on a part time basis? Do you have a family friend or grandparent who can watch the baby one or two days a week so you can work part time? Sometimes the answer is flat out "No." And in that case I think it's better that both parents stay working than to put your family's financial future in jeopardy. But if you can manage to swing it, it definitely is a rewarding experience.

And in the meantime, we can all keep hoping for a lottery win one of these days, right? : )

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Sequential Screening: Why I Changed My Mind


All the pregos know that between 11 and 14 weeks, the OB suggests (usually somewhat firmly) that you receive the "Sequential Screening". In a nutshell, Sequential Screening is a way to estimate the chance that a baby will be born with Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or an open neural tube defect such as spina bifida. During my first pregnancy I had a very firm response back to the doctors when they suggested it: No Way. My husband and I had already discussed it and decided that it really didn't matter - we loved our baby no matter what. I wasn't going to get an abortion, so what did it matter what the baby did or didn't have? At the time, I felt the Dr.'s assumed that if there was something "wrong", I would have opted for an abortion. But I really can't blame them for making that assumption based on the track record of so many mamas - studies show close to 90% of babies found to have Down syndrome are aborted. Shocking, I know. I'm not going to judge the decisions of those mothers - I can only imagine it was the hardest thing they've ever had to go though. But I know that abortion isn't an option for me. So, I firmly denied having any genetic testing done on Miss Paige while she was still in my belly.

Then, at about 6 months, I was given some potentially devastating news. Here is the post I wrote documenting that event: http://sweetleighmama.blogspot.com/2009/08/last-few-days.html

At the time, I wasn't able to write specifically about what the doctor had told me because it was too raw, but I will now... After all, the experience is forever burned into my memory.

During the ultrasound, the tech saw a suspicious raised area on the bottom of Paige's spine. She kept zooming in and taking pictures of it. I immediately knew something wasn't right. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "This doesn't look good. I need to go show the doctor immediately." And she ran out the door, leaving me on the ultrasound table, all alone, wondering what had just happened. I couldn't breathe. It felt like hours passed before the tech returned with the doctor. They both stared at the screen, again zooming in on Paige's tiny little spine and the "bump". The tech kept asking the doctor, "Do you see it? Do you see it?" And the Doctor would squint and say, "Not really, but it definitely looked like something on the picture you printed out." This back and forth went on for about 15 minutes as the tech tried to convince the doctor of what she had "seen." During this whole time, no one was telling me anything. Finally I asked - What is going on? What does the bump on her spine mean?! The Doctor looked at me nonchalantly and replied, "Well, it could be Down syndrome, but most likely if it is what we think it is, it's an open neural tube defect... spina bifida." At that point my mind went blank. Absolutely blank. Then she said, "But you got the Sequential Screening done, right? What were the results of that?" I informed her I hadn't gotten the screening done... but said I would get it done now to know for sure. She told me it was "too late" - that the only way to tell now was through ultrasound screenings or an amniocentesis. She told me to come back in two weeks, where they would do another ultrasound and determine if an amnio was necessary.

TWO WEEKS?! You want me to sit on my big butt for TWO WEEKS and wonder if my baby will never walk?! I would have given anything in that moment to have the results of the Sequential Screening. Not because I would have aborted her or wouldn't want a baby with a major disability such as spina bifida, but because I truly feel NOT knowing is worse than having all the information up front. I don't deal well with surprises or unpredictable situations. I like to know as much information as possible right off the bat - so I can process it and move forward with an appropriate plan. If Paige really did have spina bifida, I would have liked to have spent the last 4 months reading, preparing and educating myself on the condition so I could be the best mama to her that I could be. I felt unprepared and completely caught off guard.

And while additional ultrasounds proved there was absolutely nothing wrong with the baby girl growing inside my belly, I vowed to not ever be caught off guard again. So this time around, I opted to get the Sequential Screening done. So far I've gone through the first stage of it, and all looks good - no signs of Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or an open neural tube defect (spina bifida). And I'm confident that even if the results had come back to show the baby may have one of the above, we would have been ok. Would it have been devastating? Of course! The hardest part for me during the scare with Paige was wondering what her life was going to be like. I would cry at the thought of her having any difficulties or obstacles to overcome. Every parent wants their child to experience nothing but joy. But I know a number of strong mamas who have the most wonderful, amazing children with Down syndrome and other conditions.. and I knew we would be ok, too.

So... when people ask me my thoughts on the Sequential Screening, I'm always honest with them - I think it is a valuable source of information. Some people may not want the information. But I know now, that when you can't touch or hold or see or comfort the precious miracle growing inside your belly, it's best to know what you CAN do to prepare for the day when your baby is snuggled tight in your arms.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Best Gift I Ever Gave


SWAGG is a free mobile app (download here) that lets you shop smarter using your mobile phone. Buy, send or swap SWAGG GIFTS and organize your old school plastic gift cards. For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) , up to $125,000.

Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG are sending a pair of movie fans to the Sundance Film Festival! Download the SWAGG app and then visit the Ultimate SWAGG Getaway Sweepstakes site to enter to win a trip for two to the Sundance Film Festival. Entry deadline is January 3, 2011, 11:59pm, PST.


When my new friends at SWAGG - who happen to know I'm an iPhone junkie - told me about their new online shopping app, I was immediately hooked! My favorite part is being able to download store coupons on the spot, and then have them scanned right at the register! Super cool, IMO.

To celebrate the holiday season (and of course drum up some business and interest in the SWAGG app), my new found friends asked a bunch of us bloggers to write about the best gift we ever gave. It took me a hot second to think of something because honestly, my gift giving prowess has had the breaks put on it in the past year or so once I decided to resign from my job and become a stay-at-home mama to Miss Paige. The money isn't quite coming in like it used to : ) I haven't let that dampen my joy of gift giving though - I just had to get a little more creative! But I definitely have to separate my gift giving life into two parts - DI and SI (dual income vs. single income).

So - the best gift I ever gave "SI" was definitely to my favorite niece last Christmas. (I can say favorite because she is my only niece... but any future nieces have big shoes to fill to take Miss Ellie's crown!) My niece is super creative and imaginative. At 4 years old, she has an amazingly creative mind. So for Christmas last year, I knew I wanted to get her something that would allow her to keep dreaming, exploring and playing all year long. My concept started big and needed to be scaled back a bit... initially I wanted to create a "Costume Closet" for her full of everything any little girl could dream of for playing dress up and make believe. I knew my highly organized and "everything has its place" sister wouldn't go for that much craziness, so I scaled my idea back to a "Costume Bag" (you're welcome GiGi!).

I started the day after Halloween, hitting all the big box stores and picking up clearance costumes and accessories - crowns and boas and dresses and shoes. Then I raided my own closet for pre-mama/college wear that I was still holding on to - glittery belts, trendy hats. And finally, I hit up the craft store to get a few more must haves for any legitimate Costume Bag - beads, feathers, pom poms, long flower stems - basically anything fun and glittery. When I finally put the gift together, the large tote bag was spilling over with all things fabulous. When my niece saw it, her eyes lit up with the possibilities of what could be inside. In less than a second, the bag was tipped over and all the dress up goodies were spilled all over the room. We spent that entire weekend running around as fairies with wings, playing cowgirls with our pink bandannas on, and pretending to be princesses with our bejeweled tiaras. It was a blast, and I realized I could create magical moments and perfect gifts without spending a small fortune. It was definitely the best gift I ever gave!



Learn more about the coolest new app that revolutionizes the whole shopping, gifting, and gift card-organizing experience and Download the SWAGG app to your iPhone or Droid. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity.


More info about Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C)
http://www.standup2cancer.org/


SWAGG has partnered with non-profit Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to SU2C up to $125,000. Awesome, right?! Visit the SU2C site for more info http://www.standup2cancer.org/


More info about the Ultimate SWAGG Getaway Sweepstakes
http://wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/82357


Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG are sending a lucky pair of movie fans to the Sundance Film Festival! The sweepstakes is offered exclusively through the Clever 1000, and it has a pretty kick butt prize, including:


* 2 night/3 day stay at Yarrow Hotel in Park City Utah (Jan 21 - Jan 23, 2011)
* Ground transportation to and from hotel to airport in Park City, Utah
* Dinner for two at Tao Lounge, including 2 nightclub passes
* All access to The House of SWAGG Gifting Suite
* 2 tickets to a movie premiere on Saturday, January 22nd -- movie tbd
* $4,000 value

Friday, December 17, 2010

Floor Dweller

Most everything is the same with this pregnancy as the last. Morning sickness - check! Extreme fatigue - check! Food aversions - check! (Although last time it was BBQ sauce and marinades that made me gag... this time it's anything made of beef). However, there is one major difference. Last time I couldn't have enough pillows when I slept. In addition to my giant pregnancy pillow that I strategically wrapped around my body each night for maximum comfort, I used at least 5 other pillows. This time around, it's the complete opposite. The pregnancy pillow has been banished to the hall closet. The thought of sleeping on more than one pillow makes me feel like I might suffocate. AND - the icing on the prego cake - I feel like my mattress is way too soft and I might drown in the pillow top. At first the mattress in the guest room seemed to be better. But that joy lasted about 3 nights before my body decided that mattress was also way too soft. So what's a mama to do? After I decided that crawling into the crib with Paige might not be the best idea, I went for the next best thing... the floor : ) And let me tell you - it is the BEST sleep I've gotten in weeks!! Just me, the carpet, a single pillow and a light blanket. HEAVEN! Of course my husband thinks I've lost my mind as he peers down at me from our Queen size bed. But I can't get enough of it. I've even started taking my daily cat naps on the floor. I'd probably sleep on the driveway if it wasn't 18 degrees outside. And you'd think I'd wake up in the morning with terrible back pain, right? WRONG! I feel totally refreshed. I'll keep you all posted on how long this phase lasts - but after 2 weeks and still going strong, I think I've found my manger : )

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Awkward Encounters and Questionable Confrontations

I wouldn't say that I enjoy confrontation. But if the cause is just and weighing on my heart or mind, I don't back down from saying how I feel. Especially if it is in someone else's defense. There have been a few recent encounters that have caught me off guard, when I should have said something and didn't... and from now on I vow not to keep my mouth shut again.

Each of these awkward moments involved one of two words: "retarded" and/or "gay." Specifically, using these words as inappropriate adjectives. For example, when someone says, "That is so gay!" or "That thing is really retarded." Even writing those statements makes me uncomfortable. With the billions of words available, is it really necessary to poke fun or criticize at someone else's expense? It makes my blood boil when people use these words in that context. I can't say that I've never ever used them myself (although I really can't remember why or when I would have), but it's about time we take them out of our daily vocabulary and think up a few, more appropriate, adjectives.

The thing that makes confronting someone who used one of these words a little awkward is that I don't think they use them on purpose - it's more of a habit. I don't think they consciously say, "I'm going to offend all disabled people right now by describing my hairstyle/clothes/car/random thing as "retarded"." I would imagine that they've never thought of the power behind what they are saying, or how it could be construed as offensive. However, with that said, ignorance is NOT a defense, and they need to wake up and realize what they are saying. It's immature and naive to not consider the meaning of words that you speak. And using the words "retarded" and "gay" as inappropriate adjectives must stop NOW!

From now on, if someone uses one of those words in my presence, I'm not going to be afraid to say something. In fact, I've already thought through my response (so let me know what you think): "Would you mind not using the word "retarded/gay" as an adjective in my presence? I find it offensive." I know it's going to create a few awkward moments, but not speaking my mind and doing my part to eraticate ignorance is far worse in my opinion.

OK... I'm off my soapbox.  Now I can continue on with my day with a clear conscious : )

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Birthday Tree

It's hard to believe that last year at this time I was anxiously awaiting Paige's arrival. I knew my life was going to change, but I never could have predicted how amazing my little angel would be, and how much I could love her. Daniel and I can't look at her without smiling - she is just such a precious gift!

As many of you know, I ended up going into the hospital last year on Christmas Eve, was induced on Christmas Day, and Paige arrived via C-Section on the evening of December 26th. Since that day, I've interviewed every "Christmas Baby" I could find, asking how their lives were growing up with their birthdays so close to (or on, in many cases) Christmas Day. Luckily, all of them were well adjusted folks, with no lasting issues or resentments. PHEW! : ) But there was one resounding response: no "two-in-one" presents. That we needed to try to separate the two as much as possible, keeping each special in its own right. And so, in an effort to keep my "mommy of the Year" crown, I created the Birthday Tree!

The Birthday Tree is pink and sparkly and beautiful. It's decorations are 100% birthday themed - cupcakes as of right now. Plus, each year Daniel and I will give Paige a special birthday ornament to add to her tree. This year it's a smiling sunshine - since she's out little sunshine : ) I also got her a "Big Sister" ornament for her Birthday Tree. The plan is that all birthday presents will go under this tree in the front living room, while Christmas presents go under the official Christmas tree in the family room. Genius, right?! : )

But I'm left with one important question... Since Paige is getting a special Birthday Tree, will Baby #2 also need a Birthday Tree? And because his/her birthday will be in June, is a Christmas tree the most appropriate? I'll need to keep thinkng on this one. Maybe I'll do a Birthday Palm Tree for Baby #2... or a Birthday Cactus?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Awkward Pregnancy Photos

O.M.G. I have found the best website ever. I know it's been around for a while, but only recently did I realize the website Awkward Family Photos has a Pregnancy section! What were these women thinking?! And how in the world did they talk their husbands into this trip to crazy town? Let's blame it on the hormones... : )

If you are prego, I warn you - view at your own risk. Hysterical laughing may cause sudden, uncontrollable peeing. : )



Here are a few of my favorites:

"Tiny Dancer"
http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2010/08/03/tiny-dancer/
















"Roadside Assistance"
http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2010/06/26/saturday-night-special-roadside-assistance/
















"Venus De Swamp"
http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2010/05/01/saturday-night-special-venus-de-swampo/

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Biting the Double Stroller Bullet

Chugga, chugga, CHOO CHOO! Here comes the Baby Express! As soon as I found out I was prego again, I knew a double stroller was in my near future. I love being able to bring Paige all over town with me... everywhere I go, she goes too : ) I know it's going to be a lot harder to tote two bambinos around, but I'm hoping a double stroller will make things a tad easier. So on Monday I logged onto Babies R Us and bit the bullet - I purchased a double stroller. They were having awesome sales because it was Cyber Monday (the biggest online shopping day of the year) and I just could pass it up. The double stroller I wanted was $50 off - $150 vs. $200. Can't beat that! My options were somewhat limited because I didn't want to have to get a new infant carseat/carrier. Paige's is still in awesome condition (minus a few spit up stains for character) and so I plan on using it for this baby too. I also decided I wanted a "stadium seating" set-up versus the "side-by-side" variety. My rationale was simple on that decision point - I need to be able to navigate the aisles of our favorite shopping destinations. Side-by-side would not allow me to do that, and we can't cramp our shopping style! This is the stroller I ended up getting: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3958894 It's the Jeep Traveler Double Stroller. Everything about it seems pretty great. The only thing that scares me is the weight of it. According to the reviews, it's a TON. But I really wouldn't expect anything less from a double stroller. It does, after all, need to be sturdy enough to cart around two babies! Maybe it will help my post-baby fitness plan? Mama's gonna need all the help she can get! Do any of the two-time mamas out there have any reccos for keeping up with two babies? Which double strollers did you get and love?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Already Starting!

My sneaky little peanut is already figuring out ways to try and fool me! Check out this video (click the link below to play)... Hilarious!!

http://vimeo.com/17137171


She learned this technique all on her own : )

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's in a Name?

What's in a name? In my opinion, EVERYTHING! I think it's so important to pick the perfect name for your baby - it's almost like giving them a brand for the rest of their lives. That may sound dramatic, but it's SO true! A name can conjur up all sorts of feelings and emotions - whether they can be attributed to your child or not. Think about the names that your husband suggested that you immediately said, "NO WAY!" to, all because they reminded you of someone you knew from high school, college, work. Beyond it's official meaning, names can carry emotional baggage as well. For example, once we decided on the name Paige, everyone immediately loved it. And about 90% of the time, people would say this exact statement, "I knew/know someone named Paige who is the SWEETEST person ever." Are ALL Paige's sweet and nice? Of course not! But it seems as if there are enough of them out there who fit into that category where the name "Paige" conjures up positive emotions.

And then, we have to consider the "official" meaning of the name. Every child loves looking up what their name means - I can remember feeling so special when I found out Erica meant "honorable ruler." How regal!! Paige means "messenger," which I have decided really means: messenger = messenger of God = angel : ) Here middle name is Karolina, which means "tiny and feminine." One name I liked if Baby #2 is a girl is Camryn. That was until I found out it's official meaning - crooked nose. I swear! What a terrible meaning! Another name we really like is Leah. But the official meaning of Leah? Tired and weary. What the fuzzball?! How am I going to explain one day that while Paige is my "tiny, feminine angel", you are my "tired and weary" daughter with the "crooked nose." Nice. Mother of the year, here I come!

We're not having as much trouble with deciding on a boy's name - my husband has had his heart set on a particular name all his life. So that's that. And the meaning is the same as Paige's actually - messenger : )

7 more months to figure this out - as my husband keeps reminding me every day when I throw names out at him. But this literally keeps me up at night. Oh, the pressure!

Monday, November 22, 2010

For the Love of Elastic Waist Bands

I recently decided to transition back into my maternity clothes. Not all of them yet, but definitely the pants. I probably needed to a week or two ago, but went the loose and comfy sweatpants route instead. My belly is only slightly bloated at this point, but what's forcing me to the prego-pants tipping point is all the bruises! See, as soon as I found out I was prgeo (litterally at 4 weeks on the dot), I had to go back on the oh-so-fun twice a day Heparin injections. Heparin is the blood thinner I was on after the mini-stroke/TIA at 30 weeks during my last pregnancy (here's a link to that lovely post in case you forgot). They say that the blood-related conditions I have (Protein S Deficiency and Factor V) cause my blood to clot very easily, especially during pregnancy. So far so good - except that my belly looks like it has been in a brawl with a UFC fighter. It's basically one giant bruise. Not so pretty. And it's painful! Hence the desparate need for loose fitting prego-wear.

But I ran into a slight problem when I went to put back on my prego skinny jeans - they were too big! No, not because I've had some sort of dramatic weight loss (unfortunately). But becasue they got SOO stretched out at the end of my last pregnancy that the elastic waistband is about 4 sizes too big! I know they will fit again eventually when my belly gets to be the size of a watermelon or beach ball, but for now I went and picked up 2 new pairs at Old Navy. They are pretty great, I must say. Here is a link to the ones I got in case you are looking for some nice but inexpensive maternity jeans. They were on sale for about $25 each when I got them - definitely wait until another sale!

http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=5854&vid=1&pid=675514

















http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=5854&vid=1&pid=775651

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Joys of Morning Sickness

You think I'd be an old pro at this by now. This is, after all, the second time I'm experiencing being prego. But a funny thing happens in between pregnancies - even ones less than a year apart... You completely forget the specifics of what it was like to be pregnant. The memories of morning sickness, aches and pains, labor... it all washes away as soon as you hold your new baby. I think it's God's way of making she we all keep procreating : ) I remember during my first pregnancy thinking that the morning sickness would never end - that I would feel nauseous for the rest of my life. But then one day - just as quickly as it came on initially - it was gone. And a few days later, I couldn't even remember what it felt like to have morning sickness. So when I found out I was prego again, I was a little nervous about having morning sickness, but not super nervous because I really couldn't remember the specifics. But oh, let me tell you this... the levy broke on those awful memories the first day I woke up with that terrible feeling. Everything comes flooding back with the quickness, and you think to yourself, "Why did I do this again?!" Luckily this time around I know it has an endpoint - and that afterward my mind will be erased again. Halleluia! But for now I'll keep feeling like I have ridden a loopy roller coaster a few too many times, avoid gag-inducing foods, and get through it one day at a time. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Party Poopers

At some point each day, I pull up my source for breaking news - the E! News iPhone App : ) And then I usually pull up my second essential iPhone application... What To Expect When You're Expecting. And then at some point when I figure I need to keep a pulse on the outside world, I check out my USA Today app. Well, a few days ago there was an article on there that really frosted my cookies. The title? "Parents Turn a Cold Shoulder on Pre-Baby Tradition". In a nutshell, the article claims that people hate baby showers! Blasphemy! One expert actually is quoted as saying:
"There's nobody on the planet that's like, 'I'm so excited! I get to go to a baby shower today,' " says Carley Roney, editor in chief of baby website TheBump. "For years, they've had a reputation for being sweet for the family but boring for everyone else who has to sacrifice their Saturday. "
I couldn't disagree more! I, for one, LOVE attending baby showers! Who doesn't love celebrating the impending arrival of a tiny miracle? Everything about them are wonderful - the smiles! The games! The CAKE! : ) I totally get the fact that the "traditional" baby shower may be shifting for more modern versions... but to say that people "hate" them? Sorry, but I think the authors - and unfortunately the Editor and Chief of TheBump - are waaaaay out of touch with how people really feel. It seems as if they've taken their personal dislike for the bambino celebrations and mistaken it for how all of America feels. Oh, and a few women that were interviewed, all of whom happen to be corporate executives In NYC who decided to have their babies later in life. They took a micro-perspective and turned it into a macro-one. BOO for poor reporting!!

So roll out the crepe paper, blow up the balloons and keep planning the Baby Bingo. The baby shower lives on!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's Black and White and Cute All Over?

An ultrasound picture of our newest addition to the family!! YAY! In true Oprah-like fashion... I'm PREEEEEEGGGGGGNANNNNNT!


So here we go again! : ) I'm about 9 weeks along - due in late June 2011. We are so excited, it's hard to keep from smiling and shouting it from the roof tops. Which is why I haven't blogged in 2 weeks - all I wanted to talk about was the fact that I was prego!! But I knew it was too early to let the cat out of the bag, so instead I decided to take a mini-hiatus from Sweet Leigh Mama. But I'm back baby! With another baby in tow. YAHOOOOOO!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Is Up With All These Recalls?! A Mad Mama's Rant

Am I the only mama who has had it UP TO HERE with all these recalls?! First it was the Infant Tylenol due to "tiny particles" and "too much active ingredients". Then it was Similac formula, which reportedly contained BEETLES! And now it's Hyland Teething Tablets, which have been recalled due to potential belladonna poisoning! THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!

How are we supposed to trust that the indigestible we are giving to our most precious beings - our children - are safe? What is wrong with these companies that they think it is OK to just wing it with ingredients? These products aren't made for adults with mature immune systems and fully developed brains. These products are for BABIES! Babies who are still growing and developing. Babies who God has entrusted each mama with to protect and nurture. What part of that is so hard to understand?! These companies need to step up their safety procedures in a major way. How can you do this to innocent babies and their moms, who are doping everything they can to do the right thing? Get your acts together - PLEASE!


Also - a specific message to the folks at Similac - DO NOT email me again about promoting your product on my blog. Especially when you are unwilling to respond to my questions re: new safety procedures to ensure contamination never happens again, and how it happened in the first place. Your lack of response to my questions "Anna at Similac" speaks volumes... you must not have solutions! My readers deserve more than that. PR and marketing efforts don't magically undo the massive mistakes your company has made. Prove yourself, explain how and why it happened - and most importantly why it won't happen again - and then ask for our trust and patronage again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Christmas Cards in October? Yes, Ma'am!

Every year - even before I became a mama - my thought process goes a little like this regarding Christmas cards:

Early September: WOW! Christmas is right around the corner. What am I going to do for Christmas cards this year? Maybe I'll go the Martha Stewart route and MAKE them all! Glitter and cut outs and stamping - oh my!

Late September: Well, didn't make it over to Hobby Lobby to pick up the craft paper. Oh well. I'll just find some super cute ones and write personal messages inside.


Early October: Shoot! I'm not going to have time to write messages in all those cards!! I think I'll go the picture card route - everyone wants a picture of me and my smiling family, don't they? Of course they do!


Mid/Late October: Haloween madness hits - all anyone can think of is costumes, parties and candy. Christmas who?


November: Let's get real - planning the Thanksgiving menu is going to take all month. AND, since I didn't get to show off my Martha Stewart with my homemade, glittery Christmas cards, I've got to BRING IT for the Thanksgiving meal.


December 4th: The first Christmas card arrives in the mail and I haven't even ordered mine yet!! I go into total defense mode and send out leftovers of last years cards... maybe no one will remember? We kind of look the same, right? EEK!


One year I even sent out "New Year's" cards because I couldn't get my act together for Christmas. I thought it was creative! My husband thought it was lame.

So this year when my friends at Shutterfly reached out to promote their Christmas cards in October, my first thought was - NO WAY! It's waaaaay to early to talk about Christmas cards. But then the more I thought about it, I realized how genius it is to get them out of the way NOW, so I don't have to give them another thought. Maybe MINE will be the first to arrive this year?! Ok - let's not get ahead of ourselves... You know I'll forget to pick up the stamps until at lest the 5th of December : )


So here are some of my favorite holiday photo cards this year. I can't decide between these three. I want to go cute, but not overboard. PLEASE vote which one you like best!





So what do you say we take as stab at getting organized this year mamas?? : ) Check out all of Shutterfly's Christmas cards HERE!



Do you want 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select "Clever 1000" as the referral source.


This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mom Jeans

My husband accused me of something so horrific, so vile, it's hard to even write about... He said I'm only one step away from (Cue dramatic music...) MOM JEANS! Here's what happened...

Yesterday, we were driving home after church and in bumper to bumper traffic. As we sat there, I started to admire the "rear decor" on the SUV in front of us. She had all sorts of stickers representing her life - the stick people family, a South Carolina palm tree and crescent moon, a "13.1" sicker for the half-marathon she ran (which, BTW, seems to be a new mandatory past time for women ages 25-35. Everyone I know is talking about what half-marathon/5K they are training for... right?!) And the highlight for me was her license plate frame. It was a decorative one, with blue and green polka dots. I thought it was adorable. I took out my iPhone and started to search for it online to see how much it cost. My husband - who obviously knows me better than I know myself - looked over and said, "Why don't you just search for some mom jeans why you're in there." Here is the conversation that followed:

Me: EXUUUUUUUSE ME?!

Daniel: I know you are looking for that license plate frame. And if you get that, you're only one step away from mom jeans. I'm just sayin'...

Me: No way! That frame is adorable! There is nothing "mom jeans" about it!

Daniel: Yeah, ok! (note the sarcasm). Two years ago, the young fashionista I knew NEVER would have put that on her car. You're going down a slippery slope my friend.

Me: Whatever! (that's pretty much all I could muster up for a response... I know - pretty lame)

Daniel: It's not like I care, but I wanted to intervene because I know how much YOU care...

Me: Whatever.

So for the rest of the ride home, I really could not figure out why liking that adorable license plate frame made me mom jeans-esque. And there, I believe, lies the problem! I'm so close to jumping head first into mom jean mania, that I can't even differentiate the line. So what's a mama to do? I ran directly (did not pass go, did not collect $200) to Old Navy and bought a second pair of Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans. So basically - my mind my be going the way of mom jeans, but I'm going to try and hold on - kicking and screaming - to my former self. Let's see how long that lasts... : )

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So Fresh and So Clean

I've been at home for almost an entire year now (first on disability at the end of the pregnancy, and now of course a stay-at-home mama) - hard to believe since I've worked at least one job (usually more than one) since the age of 13! And I am totally loving it. But there is one down side that I discovered... since I don't spend an hour + in the car commuting each morning, I miss out on all the scoop from my beloved morning radio shows! Occasionally I'll grab 10 minutes of the chatter here or there as I make a Starbucks run or go to pick up my husband's dry cleaning in the morning. Yes, I totally realize I could turn on the radio in my house each morning - but I seriously don't think about it until it's after 10 a.m. and all the shows are over. A few days ago I ran out to Starbucks with Miss Paige in tow and there was a particularly interesting conversation going on. I can't remember specifics, but it was something really juicy! : ) So I am totally sucked into the story and decide to sit in the car for a few moments to listen to the conclusion, sipping my Starbucks while Paige plays in the back seat. All is good, right? WRONG! After a few minutes I realized I was sitting in the garage, with the car running still, and the garage door down!!! DUH! Luckily we're still alive to tell the story : ) Anyway, I digress...

So this morning I had to run out to do a few errands and had on a local radio show. A commercial came on for Secret's newest product - waterproof deodorant. I know what you're thinking - "Yeah. Nothing new. Who cares." Which is totally what I was thinking. All I want my deodorant to do is keep me from stinking up the joint. Whatever they have to do to make that happen is fine with me. So you know the commercials where one of the morning show DJs talks from "personal experience" about the product? You know - like Healthee Trim diet pills? Laser hair removal? Cell phone plans? Car dealers? Well this commercial was one of those types, and the female DJ starts raving about how great this waterproof deodorant is. She says something to the extent of, "I can do whatever I want throughout the day, and I know my deodorant is still there. Even after I shower! Nothing can penetrate through this waterproof deodorant!" HUH?! Isn't the point of showering to CLEAN your body - including the pits? Why in the world would I want a deodorant that REPELS water, and therefore repels my attempts to clean my pits? It's not like waterproof mascara, where it stays on until you wash it off. According to the commercial, it stays on even after you try to wash it off! Who in the world would want that? I mean, is it that hard to reapply deodorant after you shower? I personally would rather reapply then let the funk fester until the waterproof deodorant finally decomposes under my pits. Not that I have any funk, that is ; ) So am I missing something here? I just don't get it! It's other uses make sense - like when you are at the pool or beach. But shower-proof? I'll pass on that!

In other news, Paige is standing! Woo hoo!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Southern Mamas Say

Over the last week I've had playdates with a few diferent Southern Mamas. Being a transplant to the deep South, it's taken me a couple years to work words like "ya'll" into my everyday vocabulary. And I must say that it's very strange to say things like "ya'll want some coffee?" with "ya'll" being as Southern as can be, and my still distinct NY accent coming out on "coffee." Oh, and then throw in the long O's of the Pennsylvania Dutch accent I picked up in college. I'm a hot mess the say the least : ) So anyway...

There is one thing all Southern Mamas say to their daughters - and I have definitely picked up on over the last few months. And that is "No, ma'am!"

In the same vein as how "bless his/her heart" is used as a sweet, Southern way of saying "They're NUTS!,"   "No, Ma'am!" is a sweet was of disciplining our baby girls. It can be said gently as you take away something she shouldn't be playing with. It can be said with a slight tone paired with a hand slap if they take something that isn't theirs. Or, it can be used in full force with clenched teeth and the evil eye, when they've done something really bad - NO! MA'AM!!

You should try it. It's a great catchall for discipline, and you'll still sound sweet as a Georgia Peach while saying it. And if you're in the South, pay attention to how many times it's used at your next playdate. I lost track at the last few I've been at : )

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby Sign Language: Advice from the Expert

Happy Monday Mamas! I have a special treat today - a guest post from Misty Weaver, the Chief Editor of BabySignLanguage.com I've been trying to teach Paige baby sign language since birth without much luck. I asked Misty what I may be doing wrong, and how to get the ball rolling in a more productive way... And here is her advice!! Enjoy!

How To Get Started With Baby Sign Language And What Signs Should You Teach First
When you are first starting with Baby Sign Language it’s best to begin with signs you can use every day, such as Mommy, Daddy, Milk and More. Signs that represent something exciting and meaningful to baby will be easier to learn. Begin with these starter signs then build up your range to include other objects, ideas and emotions.


How To Get Started With Baby Sign Language
First of all, you need to remember to make the sign every time you say the relevant word to your baby. It’s important to say the word that goes with the sign clearly, using good eye-contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing. Sign when your baby is alert and not fussing. Remember to practice the signs beforehand so you feel confident and clear about what you are doing.

What Signs Should You Teach First And How?

Start with these signs: Mommy, Daddy, Milk and More. These signs are simple to learn and are really interesting to your baby. To sign Mommy extend and spread apart your fingers. With your little finger facing forward, tap your thumb on your chin.

  • To sign Daddy, extend and spread out your five fingers on your strong hand. Tap your hand on your forehead. Done right you will look like a turkey.

  • The sign for Milk is a lot like milking a cow, but without the vertical motion – you are just squeezing the udder. Take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat. You will notice most babies have trouble moving their fingers together this way, but any kind of repeated squeezing and relaxing of the hand is likely Milk.

  • To make the sign for More, flatten out your hands then bring your thumbs under to make an O shape. Then, bring your hands together and separate them repeatedly. Baby will often simplify More by clapping their fists together. As they get older and more proficient you may want to encourage the more correct sign of flattening out their hands and creating the O shape with their thumbs as a fun way to help them develop fine motor skills.

Repetition
Repetition is the key to Baby Sign Language . When you first start, be sure to make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object. Soon this will become second-nature. Your baby will learn the signs through repetition and constant exposure.

Be Patient
Don’t expect too much too soon – from your baby or from yourself. If you forget to sign for a day it’s doesn’t matter – just begin again with renewed effort. Have realistic expectations. Research by Dr. Joseph Garcia, one of the founders of Baby Sign Language, found that a typical baby who starts learning signs at seven months old needs about two months of repetition and exposure to a sign to start using it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Poop Happens

TGIF!!! Never thought it would get here, but HALLELUIA, at last it has!

So last week while I was on my death bed (and by "death bed" I really mean "super sick, but more mad/cranky than anything else about the fact that I couldn't eat") something pretty hilarious happened. Now, last year at this time - before I was a mama - I probably would not have seen the humor in this at all. But now it's pretty much the funniest thing that's happened in along time. And it's all about poop. No, not MY poop. Paige's poop : )

So one day last week I was moping around the kitchen, opening the refrigerator and cupboards just to see all the things I couldn't eat thanks to my sore throat. After I tortured myself enough, I sauntered back into the living room where Paige was playing. As I approached Paige, I noticed she was squirming around on her back, kind of rubbing her butt against the floor. When I was finally next to her, she rolled over and I saw a bunch of "mud" on the rug. And I thought to myself - "How in the world did that mud get into the house?!" So finally after a few seconds of pondering the mud, it hit me - it wasn't mud at all! It was POOP!!! (DUH! I know, I know - let's blame my stupidity on the NyQuil...) And not just normal poop - explosive diarrhea poop. The kind that shoots out of the sides of diapers and up the front, back and everywhere in between. Totally grossed out, I raced her up the stairs and put her in the bathtub, clothes and all. Now covered in poop myself from carrying her up the stairs, I jumped in the tub with her. Oh, we were a sorry, sh*tty sight to say the least : ). So as I'm trying desperately to de-poop both of us, I think about the gross mess on the carpet downstairs and how I'm going to clean up the smashed up poo. And then I realized - where was Lenni LuLu (the dog)?! Still in the tub, I screamed for her. I hear her bolt up the stairs, run into the bedroom, then bathroom, and then I see her - licking her chops like she just had a juicy steak! Yes, that's right... Lenni ate the poop. I started dry heaving. By the time I got back downstairs, you almost couldn't even tell where the poop had been - that's how "good" of a job Lenni did on it. I worked for the next 45 minutes scrubbing and disinfecting, just to make sure all the poop (or what was left of it after the "clean up crew") was gone. Then I went upstairs to give Paige a bottle and put her down for bed. Just as she was dozing off, I heard the garage door go up - Daddy's home!!! : ) I put Paige down, and headed downstairs, excited to tell Daniel about the craziness that was the last 2 hours. And as I hit the last few stairs, I saw it - as if it was happening in slow motion... Daniel was bending over, greeting Lenni... and Lenni was LICKING DANIEL'S FACE!!! Yes - that's right - licking him with the same tongue that only 1 hour earlier had eaten Paige's poop! Needless to say I woke Paige up because I was laughing so hard. It was an "almost peed myself, can't breathe, crying my eyes out" kind of laughing. I couldn't even get the words out to tell Daniel what was going on. When I did finally tell him, he wasn't as amused as I was. But I still crack up at the thought of it, even more than a week later. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night laughing about it. It's the little things... : )

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mixed Messages at the Dr

So today Paige and I headed into the Dr.'s office for her nine month check up. I admit I may be a bit gun shy about Pediatricians after the "barbarian" incident, but I always get a bit of anxiety before going to these appointments. Yes, the new pediatrician is a bazillion times better than the first, but every time I go I leave more confused than ever. Maybe I'm the only one this happens to, but I totally feel like all Dr.'s have a handbook - probably a prerequesite before graduating - that explains how to be elusive and vague with patients, yet self-assured enough to make you (the patient/parent) feel like a complete moron. Who's with me on this one?! SERIOUSLY! Here's what happened today... Paige is a chunky monkey - not a secret : ) She weighed in today at 24 lbs and measured almost 30 inches. So the Dr comes in with their fancy schmancy growth chart and shows me that Paige's stats are "off the chart". Ok. Not a suprise there. But they said I should make sure I'm not overfeeding her. Then, She directly followed that statement with a disclaimer, making sure to tell me not to withhold food from her or try to get her to lose weight... Interesting. I jokingly said, "Oh, So you think I should unsubscribe her from the Jillian Michaels and Weight Watchers emails?!" The Dr didn't find it as amusing as Paige and I did : ) Anywho!! So then they ask what her feeding schedule is each day. I give them the run down of about 3-4 4-6oz bottles, plus 2 meals. I start to go into what kinds of foods she's eating - you know, all organics since I am super mom and all...), when the doctor cuts me off mid sentence. "She's only having 20 oz of formula on average a day?!?!?!" I did some quick calculations in my head before answering "Correct. About 20 oz each day. Plus two meals. And about 8 oz of water via sippy cup." Come to find out
she "should" be having 24-28oz per day, plus THREE meals! WHAT?! Didn't you just get done telling me that she is a baby sumo wrestler? And now you want me to feed her MORE? I obviously
couldn't really wrap my mind around this concept. I never withhold food from her - and she stops eating when she's full. There is no way I could fit in another 1 or 2 bottles AND a meal. So I basically said that, and the doctor said to try and "sneak" in the formula. Ok... Sure : ) I'll add it to her bath water and hope it absorbs through her pores : ). So then we finish up the exam. I got dinged because Paige wasn't waving "bye bye" yet and laughs when I say "no", but I totally think I got those "parenting points" back when Paige looked at me and said "Mooooooooom." I chimed in that she also says "Daaaddddddy", which she promptly noted on her clipboard. And as the Dr is leaving she says this exact statement: "Paige is absolutely perfect! Keep doing what you are doing and don't change a thing!" Then the door closes, and I'm left totally confused. Didn't we just spend the last 15 minutes reviewing everything I was doing wrong? Ay-yi-yi!! So basically I will spend the next week doubting, worrying and stressing over every little thing. And just when I think things are going smoothly, it will be time for another Dr visit. Fun times!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

FINALLY We're Better PLUS Carter's Sweepstakes Winner

After about 2+ weeks, we are FINALLY all better! WOO HOO! Yes, we all have a few last sniffles and sneezes in us - but my-oh-my, this virus was sin serious! We still have no idea where it came from or how it took out our entire family (even Lenni LuLu was feeling under the weather!) but I can tell you this: Virus, you are not welcome here!!!

In other news, the winner of the Carter's $50 gift card sweepstakes is......
LORRAINE ROBINSON from Hamtramck, MI
YAY!!! Congrats!
Publish Post

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Know It's Bad When I Refuse French Fries...

The last few times Paige has been sick, I've managed to avoid catching it. This go round, I wasn't so lucky. The stinkin' virus swarmed our house like bedbugs in a NYC hotel. And it's been going on for over a week now! It all started when Daniel came home from a weekend away with a sore throat. Then, on Tuesday night, Paige woke up with a 103 degree fever. When I brought her to the doctor on Wednesday, they tested her for strep (which thank goodness she didn't have!) and then diagnosed her with a bad sore throat virus. BOO! She was pretty miserable for two days, and seemed to bypass the stuffy nose the doctor warned me about. And just when I thought we were in the clear, it happened... I GOT SICK! NOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm the caregiver, not the receiver! All day Sunday I was completely useless - I couldn't even get out of bed. Monday was a bit better, but was in no shape to be a mommy... luckily my mother-in-law was able to come over to watch Paige while I slept off the fever and achiness. Daniel surprised me later that afternoon with my favorite Chic-Fil-A french fries. I was SO excited since I hadn't eaten anything in 48 hours. I shoved about 4 into my mouth at the same time and just as I was savoring their crisp, saltiness, they hit the back of my throat. OH. MY. GOSH!!!! The Pain!!!!! Sadly I handed the french fries back to Daniel, which is when I think it finally hit him just how sick I was. The 103 degree fever didn't show him. The moaning and groaning didn't show him. It was only when I refused the french fries that he realized : ) Go figure! So the only silver lining to this pile of poop week we've had in the Billups' household is that this morning I stepped on the scale and I have lost 5 lbs! Woo hoo!! I know, I know - it's because I have eaten in 3 days. But I'm going to savor it for a bit and put on my skinny jeans - even if I am just schlepping around the house in them, wiping Paige's runny nose and wiping sweat off my brow as I fight off this fever. The joys of mommyhood : )

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Who Loves Carter's? Sweepstakes and $50 Giveaway! Enter by Monday!

Do you love Carter's? I guess that's kind of like asking if you've ever eaten ice cream sans bowl in front of the TV while watching Bravo, Style or E!... Um, HECK YEAH! SERIOUSLY!


So here's the scoop...You have exactly two days left to enter a fab two-part contest from Carter's - entries are due end of day Monday, September 13! So... ummm... yeah - Better get on it, mamas!! Here are all the details:


Carter’s is celebrating the funny things that kids say and do by giving away 70 gift cards worth up to $1,000. Every parent loves sharing stories about their child, and let’s face it, kids are hilarious and they can make you crack up at the most unexpected times! Enter your e-mail or share your funny story for the chance to win a Carter’s gift card. Those interested have until Monday - September 13, 2010 to enter the sweepstakes – no purchase necessary.


Official rules are located here: carters.promo.eprize.com/kids/display_page?page=rules


The Easy-Peezy Sweepstakes (aka No Thought Required): Click HERE and enter your email address for a chance to win...
  • Grand prize: 5 winners will receive a $250 Carter's gift card
  • First prize: 20 winners will receive a $50 Carter's gift card
  • Second prize: 40 winners will receive a $25 Carter's gift card


The "The Funny Thing Is..." Contest (aka Some Thought Required, but Still Pretty Darn Easy-Peezy): Click HERE and enter your email address, and then tell Carter's about the funniest thing your baby has done for a chance to win... You know you've told the story a million times anyway - so now just put it in writing!!
  • Grand prize: 1 winner will receive a $1000 Carter's gift card
  • First prize: 4 winners will receive a $250 Carter's gift card

JUST FOR SWEET LEIGH MAMA READERS!
And then, once you get done entering the Carter's sweepstakes/contest, fill out the form below for ANOTHER chance to win a $50 Carter's gift card. (Or click HERE to enter if you can't see the form below.) This one is thanks to the super fab Carter's PR folks who kinda just love you all. You have until EOD Sunday the 18th to enter this one - lucky you! One winner will be chosen at random, and will be announced on Monday a.m.

Speechless Saturday: Paige in Boots

I'm not ashamed to admit it - I am totally turning Paige into a Mini-Me! Yesterday Daniel and I stopped by Old Navy so he could get a new pair of jeans and I couldn't help but make a beeline to the children's section. See, ever since I purchased my slouchy brown boots, I've been on the lookout for identical ones for Paige. Don't judge - you know every girl needs a perfect pair of slouchy brown boots for Fall! So I spotted a great pair and as I searched for Paige's size,  Daniel walked up behind me. Here is the conversation that followed:

Daniel: What are you doing?
Me: Ummm... what? Nothing. Nothing. I'm just looking for something.
Daniel: Paige doesn't need shoes. She isn't even walking.
Me: She does. She desperately needs brown slouchy boots.
Daniel: What? Why? What 8-month-old needs brown boots?
Me (trying to distract him): Don't worry about it. Are you going to try on those jeans or what?
Daniel: Yeah. But are you seriously going to get Paige these boots?

And then it happened. These words literally came out of my mouth as naturally as if I was saying my name and phone number.

Me (in an exasperated, unnecessarily loud voice): YES! I planned Paige's ENTIRE Fall/Winter wardrobe around these boots. We NEED the brown slouchy boots!
Needless to say, we got the boots. Mama always wins : )
 

Friday, September 10, 2010

"I Hate to Break it to You Babe, But I'm Not Drowning..."

At the moment, I am 100% obsessed with the new Sara Bareilles song "King of Anything." Love it. Love it. LOVE! IT! It totally reminds me of the phase of life that mommyhood spurs... the phase where you stop giving a hoot about everyone else's opinions and start trusting and relying on yourself and your gut instincts.

I feel like when you find out your prego, you quickly get your priorities in check and figure out what really matters. Then, when the baby arrives, the initial exhaustion and fear of the unknown leads to a vacuum of self-doubt. Am I doing this right? Will I be a good mom? How on earth am I going to take care of this little tiny baby? You ask everyone's opinions and forget about your own maternal instinct. And then finally - after you've heard all the opinions of how everyone else would do it if they were you - you realize that YOU are the one in control. You are the mama... the one who carried this tiny being for 9 months and gave birth to him or her. You are the one who is with the baby 24/7 - who sees the good and the not-so-good. And you start taking everyone's advice with a grain of salt. We may be new mamas, but we're not drowning. We don't need saving. God blessed us with the gift of maternal instincts... and no matter what crazy advice or opinions people throw our way, we know what's best for our individual babies. As the song says, "Who cares if you disagree? You are not me. Who made you King of Anything?"



Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside
So many things I’d say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ‘em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost with no direction
But you’ll never see

You’re so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps
You got the talking down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
While I just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Let me hold your crown, babe.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Schmying to Schmoncieve

Schmying to Schmoncieve... that is my code word for what has been going on lately : ) Yup - that's right... we're trying for baby #2! We've actually been trying for a few months now without any luck. You all know that the first time around was a real surprise (read this for a refresher: 4 Pregnancy Tests Don't Lie ). And because of that, I figured whenever we would try for number 2, it would be a total breeze. WRONG! This baby-making thing is hard work! : ) When we started out, we figured we should try and track when I'm ovulating. So what's a techno-phile family to do? We downloaded an iPhone app called "P Tracker". You enter in your past few periods, and then it takes the average and figures out when you might be ovulating. Well - no dice on that one. So then I decided I would track mucus... yes, totally gross. But if you've ever been in the phase of Schmying to Schmoncieve you know exactly what I'm talking about. Who knew there was actually a change with all that throughout the month? So fingers crossed the "raw egg white" stage does the trick. If not, my next step is to buy one of those "ovulation prediction tests." Aye-yi-yi! It's amazing to think about how blessed we were with Paige. And we're trying hard not to get discouraged! We know it will happen when it's the right time... but it sure is hard to wait : )

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Top 10 Beauty Buys for New Moms!

Hey mamas! Check out the latest article on TheBump.com: Top 10 Beauty Buys for New Moms. SweetLeighMama is featured, offering my suggestion for brightening up those sleep deprived first weeks of mommyhood.


Benefit Oh La LiftMom favorite #9: Benefit Ooh La Lift eye cream
Why it works: "After you give birth, your belly is bloated, your boobs are swollen... The last thing a new mama needs is for her eyes to be puffy too! While I may have been running on pure adrenaline postdelivery, operating on about 20 minutes of sleep took its toll on my tired eyes. Thank goodness for this eye cream. A few dabs under the eyes not only reduced puffiness, but it made my eyes look bigger and brighter too." –Erica from SweetLeighMama.Blogspot.com
What it will cost you: $22, Sephora.com

Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

To HEEL and Back

Read the title again. No, I didn't say "hell." I said "heel"... as in high heels! : ) This past weekend we drove up to a gorgeous wedding in Lake Keowee South Carolina. Of course Paige was in tow... but she did great! My big feat for the night? Getting back into a pair of heels after 12 months of flats. And let me say this... Mama's back in action! I stopped wearing heels at about 3-4 months prego out of necessity - my feet were swollen and all I felt like wearing were my Ugg boots or Crocs. And then once Paige was born, I still wore my Uggs or knit boots daily until it was "warm" enough for flip flops, which I have lived in since about March. But lately I've been yearning to throw on a pair of cute heels. The only thing that has been stopping me? Heels don't really go with sweatpants - which is what I wear on a daily basis. But just last week I decided to try and put on some of my fav old pre-prego jeans and was SHOCKED that they actually fit! But there was one issue - I got these jeans super extra long so I could wear cute heels with them. But God knows I wasn't going to get these suckers back off my booty so I cuffed them and threw on my flip flops. At the wedding this weekend I knew it was time to take the plunge... no, not into the lake (like the two mothers did post- reception! too cute!)... but into my first pair of post-prego heels. There is something about heels that make me feel so fancy : ) I was proud that I actually kept them on for the majority of the evening. But the truth is that black stilettos don't really fit into my role as Mama of the Year. Sooooo... I'm going to improvise and get these: http://www.zappos.com/dingo-sole-sister-tan-burnished Well - a version of these with a lower price tag : ) I figure I will get the "click click" of the heel I'm looking for with the comfort and security of a full shoe. Baby steps, right? And I'm kinda in love with these too: http://www.zappos.com/kenneth-cole-reaction-chip-trick-black-leather  But these would mean a complete rehash of my wardrobe... I have an idea for a new book! Here are the first few lines... (Like "If You Give a Pig a Pancake")

If you buy a mama a new pair of shoes...
She'll have to get a fun dress to go with them.
And when she puts on the dress she'll realize she needs some Spanx.
When she's in the Spanx section of the store, a bright yellow scarf will catch her eye.
After wrapping the scarf around her neck, she realizes she needs new sunglasses to complete the look
As she checks out her huge sunglasses in the mirror, she'll see handbags behind her in the reflection.
As she runs towards the new Jessica Simpson collection of bags, she sees a gorg black leather one.
But her new shoes are brown!
So back to the shoe section she goes.
And if you buy a mama a new pair of shoes...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just 17 and Half More Years to Save for College...

Since Paige was born, I've been trying to figure out a good way to start saving for her college education. But then life happens and those plans go on the back burner. Who can think about putting moolah in an account for "down the road" when we need to buy diapers, pay medical bills, etc right now? But I'm determined to get something set up by her first birthday/Christmas so we can ask relatives to put money there instead of towards too many toys. Good plan, huh? Well... that gives me 4 more months to get my act together on this. But when there are so many options, I just can't wrap my head around which one is best. My mother-in-law gave me a great article written by Carmen Wong Ulrich which outlines the top for ways to save for college.. I found it online and here is the link: PARADE - 4 Smart Ways to Save for College

I think I'm leaning towards a 529 Plan.. but then I have to choose which one! The Parade article reccomends this site to compare 529 Plans: www.SavingforCollege.com

Have any mamas out there figured out what they are doing yet? I know I'm already behind the eight ball on this one, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!

And since this subject is kinda stressful, I decided to lift your spirits with a picture I took this morning...

When Muffin Tops Are Still Cute


Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Change Will Do You Good

For some reason, I've been in sort of a rut lately. I think I was getting too comfortable in my daily routine. But I am the first to admit that I HATE routine. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. I constantly need to change things up, keep things interesting.If I always take a particular route to go to the mall, I will find a new way - even if its a little longer - to get to the same place. I have two Kroger super markets within 5 miles of my house - I recently started going to the other one with a different layout. Last week I surprised my unsuspecting husband with an "Extreme Makeover" to our front living room. I changed out the rug, switched around the couches - even bringing the leather love seat down from our bedroom (yes, by myself - don't ask me how!). I bought a cheap duvet cover for our bed to change out the red comforter. Tonight I dyed my hair. Actually, the process started last night. I bought a box of dark blond hair dye - but it turned an unfortunate shade of orange. So tonight I did it again - this time dying the top layer blond and the rest a dark chocolate brown. I'm actually kind of liking it! And tomorrow night we're going to trade in our Jeeps for new Toyotas (that was actually my husband's idea, not mine!) The funny thing is that both my husband and daughter are creatures of habit. They like things the exact same way, every single day. Paige couldn't stop staring at my hair this morning when she woke up. It seemed to throw her off for the first hour or so of her day. Daniel took 3 days to get used to the new living room arrangement. I think I'm good on the changes for now... but give me about a month and I'll be at it again!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mommy Failure?

I kept going back and forth on whether or not I would share this... Which is probably why I had a mental block on blogging for a few days. I knew I SHOULD discuss, but I guess I just wasn't ready to. It's part traumatic, part scary, and part embarrassing. But after sitting with it for a few days, I figured I would go ahead and share - writing always makes me feel better : )

Since Paige was born I prided myself on being a pretty great mom. Yes, things get chaotic from time to time and I feel like my head is going to explode, but I think I do a pretty good job keeping everything together. I love gallivanting with her all over the place and taking the bumps of mommyhood in stride. Emergency diaper change? I got that. Need a quick bottle? No prob! I get a thrill out of juggling all the different parts of being Paige's mommy. So exactly how I let the following happen, I'm not too sure...

I was up in NY visiting family, and was just finishing feeding Paige her dinner. I had her strapped into one of those portable booster seats, which was then strapped onto a dining chair. I was gabbing away while wiping off her face and hands. I snapped off the tray, unhooked her straps, turned around to put everything down and... BOOM! Paige toppled out of the booster seat and onto the floor. The whole thing happened in a matter of moments - probably not even one full second. I turned around in time to see her falling out, but couldn't move fast enough to catch her. She landed on the kitchen floor on her hands and knees (kind of like a crawling position). All I remember doing at that point is screaming at the top of my lungs. I scooped Paige up in my arms - she was also screaming and crying. All I could say to her was, "I am so sorry baby. I am so sorry" over and over again. At that moment I felt like a complete failure as a mommy. HOW COULD I LET THIS HAPPEN?!

Thank God, Paige was fine. The only evidence of her fall was a scratched nose which healed in 2 days. 10 minutes later she was back to laughing and playing. It seemed as if she had forgotten about the whole incident. I, unfortunately, still can't get it out of my mind. It's like an internal dialogue, with one side saying, "It was an accident. Everything is ok." and the other side saying, "You fool! If you let this happen, what is going to happen next?" I can't seem to shake the guilt. : (  But I'm working on it. And I think writing about it will help.

Ain't mommyhood grand? : ) Guess I'm not Super Mom afterall.