Tuesday, August 30, 2011


In the past I haven't exactly been the best at handling pregnancy.  With Madeline and Ellie I pretty much complained about every pregnancy related symptom.  Pregnancy isn't necessarily a state in which I'm fond of being.

This time around I have handled pregnancy far better than I ever have.  I suppose these things get better with repeated practice.  I haven't hit the point of being considered "Massive Mood Swing Karen" and I've done a pretty good job about not complaining excessively about pregnancy related aches and pains.  I managed to brave the first trimester with less than seven naps spread out over a span of 10 weeks where I desperately needed a nap every day.  I've survived having my favorite dinner food banned from the menu as I deal with my aversion to chicken.  I'm managing to deal with the inevitable weight gain and the havoc it is wreaking on my poor feet.  But, I simply cannot just deal with the sensation that my abdominal muscles are being ripped apart.

When I was pregnant with Ellie I had a lot of issues with round ligament pain.  If you've ever experienced this, you know it's not a walk in the park by any means.  In fact, it's far more painful and longer lasting than labor.  I'd rather labor for a month than deal with a month of round ligament pain.  I was convinced that this pain was probably the worst pregnancy related pain I could have.  This time around something super stretched abdominal muscles have decided to prove that they are far more painful than any round ligament.

A few weeks ago I started having pains where it felt like my muscles were being pulled on the left side of my belly button.  I figured it was just the result of the baby growing and that it would stop eventually. After this started happening every few days I began to wonder what was going on.  I've had a few days where I wondered if maybe I had something seriously wrong with me.  At my last visit with the midwife I asked about the pain and was told it's perfectly normal and is simply the result of the muscles stretching and not having much support.  She suggested I try one of those belly bands to support my abdominal muscles.

Today the horrid tearing muscle pain is back.  Most of the time this pain subsides after an hour or two, but today it's been plaguing me since 8AM.  I'm keenly aware that just about everything I do requires my abdominal muscles to move in some way.  To say that today has been quite painful would be a gross understatement.

So at 34 weeks and 2 days, I think I've had enough of being pregnant.  I'm tired, my body hurts and I just want this to be over.  I tried the belly band for support and it made me feel worse.  Sitting down made me feel better for a little bit but then the pain resurfaced.  I can't imagine what the remainder of this pregnancy will have in store for me.  My biggest worry is that the ripping feeling that I have will actually result in a ripped abdominal muscle.  I wouldn't be surprised if it happens.

Dear Baby,
Aim for moving on to an area with plenty of leg room in about three weeks.  Look at it as a compromise.  You give up three weeks of living in cramped quarters and I'll wake up without complaint and tend to your every need.  Oh, and you can sprawl out as much as you want.  Think about it.
AKA: that warm not so squishy place you presently call home

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene Update

Looks like we weathered the storm with minimal damage.  From what we can see, it looks like we have a few shingles on the roof that lifted.  The mostly dead trees are still standing but it looks like one of them lost a few branches.

We had a brief period where the winds were pretty bad, but other than that it wasn't as bad as the media was making it out to be.

Last night our neighbors who are away on vacation called and asked if we would check in on their property and make sure everything was ok.  They were concerned that three of their trees may fall and damage the house.  Unfortunately their tree which lost a huge branch a few weeks ago split in half last night.  At this point the tree will have to be cut down.  I'm sure they're disappointed about it given that it was a nice looking tree.  Bryan snapped a couple pictures and texted them to the neighbors along with the news that everything else is fine.

My parents and my brother are both without power.  The electric company told them they do not have an estimated time for when they anticipate their power being restored.

Book Review: Atheist to Catholic

Atheist to Catholic is a collection of conversion stories from a variety of sources.  Each of the eleven stories contained in this volume is the personal conversion story of a former atheist turned Catholic and his or her journey to that conversion.

I found most of the stories in this volume to be quite captivating.  There were a couple of stories that just didn't resonate with me at all.  I don't know what exactly it was about those particular stories, but they didn't pull me in at all.  The rest of the stories were interesting and well written.

As a convert to Catholicism, I can identify with many of the stories contained in this book.  The stories speak of the the longing for truth and the general pull to the Catholic Church.  This book is an enjoyable read.  Catholic converts will likely find something in this book which they have felt or experienced in their own conversion.

I was provided with a review copy of Atheist to Catholic by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.  You can take a peek inside this book by visiting the product page at Amazon.com.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weathering Irene

Since around noon today we've been experiencing what Irene has for us.  Mostly it's just been rain and wind.  It's certainly not pleasant out there.

Bryan had been trying to stay on top of draining the pool to keep it from overflowing, but at this point I think the rain is coming down faster than the pump can remove it.  He's pretty much resigned himself to the fact that we likely can't prevent the pool from overflowing.

A little over an hour ago we entered a tornado warning.  Thankfully, the tornados seem to have passed and went right between where we live and the town where our friends live.  We're camping out in the basement at the moment until we are sure we're not at risk for a tornado.  I've never experienced one and I'd prefer to keep it that way.

The girls are spending the night in the basement on the sofa bed.  The winds from the hurricane are supposed to be at their worst between midnight and 5AM so we figured it'd would be best if they were in the basement and not in rooms with large windows.

Our biggest concerns are that some of the trees around us could fall.  We have two trees in our yard that are near death (pretty sure the one is dead and the other is "mostly dead"--sorry, I couldn't resist using that term from Princess Bride).   We think it's very likely if the winds are bad enough that those trees will probably fall.  If that happens we could be looking at an obliterated swing set, shed roof or fence.  It's anyone's guess at the moment.

I talked to my mom about an hour and a half ago.  They lost power shortly before I called them to tell them of the tornado warning.  We're prepared for a possible power outage, but I'm hoping we don't lose power.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  I'll update as things with the storm develop as long as we still have power.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quick Takes Volume 13

I had an appointment with the midwife this morning.  It looks like the baby is head down, but I suppose she's just getting bigger since I was convinced she was transverse for the past week or so.  Of course, she probably just moved back to her usual position to show off at the appointment.

At my appointment, I got the green light to piggy back Pepcid AC and Zantac so that I can get sleep at night.  I'm hoping this will work to reduce/eliminate my heartburn while I'm desperately trying to get some sleep.

I got more reassurance that I may be able to get out of the hospital 24 hours after I deliver as opposed to 48.  I just have to pray that one of the agreeable doctors from the pediatrician's office is making his or her rounds the day I'm hoping to go home.  So I'm praying that I won't have a problem there.  Also praying that I will not test positive for group b strep at my next appointment.  That will certainly help my cause in getting sprung from the hospital ASAP.

We're preparing to get hit by hurricane Irene this weekend.  Last night I went out and stacked up some of the chairs we had on our deck and by the pool.  Bryan was out there this morning putting things away.  We still have a few things to do.  I'm not worried or freaked out about the storm since we don't live on the coast.  I grew up on a barrier island, which is currently under mandatory evacuation, and I simply don't feel that a hurricane is a huge threat when you live inland.  The only thing that really concerns me about this storm is the wind and the possibility of a power outage.  Flooding and damage to our cars from sea water is something I thankfully do not have to worry about.  Other people around me are freaking out about the storm but I guess I see things differently having lived most of my life on an island where a storm like this really is a serious matter.  I am happy that my friends and family who are still living on the island have evacuated or are making plans to get out of there today.

Apparently shopping for essentials prior to a hurricane is much the same as shopping before a big snow storm.  I was not prepared to find Target and Lowes completely sold out of D batteries and flashlights.  Fortunately we have some flashlights with working batteries already, but I was hoping to get a couple extra flash lights so the kids would have them in the event that we lose power.  Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Because of the threat of a hurricane, Madeline's soccer tournament for this weekend has been cancelled.  I'm actually pretty happy with that development.  I didn't want her to have to play in the rain this Saturday and Sunday.

I'm finding that stopping at a local bakery on my way home from Target is the best and cheapest way to procure hoagie rolls for lunch.  I don't know why I never thought to stop there in the past.  For the past few years I have been driving out of my way to go to the grocery store to buy rolls that were smaller and cost more money.  I also discovered that this bakery even sells the ravioli that we like for a few dollars less a bag than the grocery store.  Hooray for mom and pop type of shops!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

round button chicken

Capturing those moments in life that I won't want to forget.


I realize this isn't the most flattering picture of Madeline, but she doesn't seem to want to ham it up for the camera much these days.  She was very happy to finally make a sandcastle.
Ellie's happy to have some water for the sandcastle construction project.


Ellie kept trying to fill her bucket with water.  Every time a wave rolled in she would try to get some water in her bucket but she was getting frustrated that when she picked it up there was hardly anything in it.  She didn't realize that as the waves rolled out the water was also leaving the bucket.  After a few attempts she got the water she needed for her sand castle.

The earthquake that we had on Tuesday shook the bookend off of Madeline's bookcase and sent many of her books tumbling onto the floor.

Grammar Giveaway

Earlier this week I reviewed two grammar books published by Reader's Digest: Write (Or is the "Right"?) Every time and My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me?  I enjoyed both of these books and think they're great guides to have on hand for when your kids, or even you, have something you need to write and you find yourself faced with a grammar conundrum.   Or, maybe you're like me and are a bit of a grammar geek and would like these books for the fun of reading about grammar rules.

Whatever your reasons for wanting these books may be, you now have a chance to win copies of both books thanks to the folks at FSB Media who are sponsoring this giveaway.  All you need to do is leave a comment telling me why you want these books.

You can earn bonus entries by doing one or all of the following:

  • Become a follower (+1)
  • Like Karen In Mommyland on Facebook (+1)
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back to this post and provide the link in the comments (+2)
  • Share the link to this giveaway on Facebook and tag Karen In Mommyland (+2)
The giveaway will close on September 1st at 5PM.  Good luck!

Small Successes-August 25th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. I took the girls to the beach yesterday.  It was the annual "Don't say I didn't take you to the beach this summer!" trip.  We got up early yesterday and drove to my hometown to spend a couple hours on the beach with my best friend and two of her children.  The girls had a good time playing on the beach and finding tiny shells with their friends.

2. On Tuesday, I was way too tired to make lunch for the girls so I took the easy way out and got them happy meals from McDonald's.  This pathetic move made me the coolest mom for the day when the girls discovered that the two Strawberry Shortcake dolls that they "needed" were in the bags.  A few weeks ago Ellie was devastated when the Strawberry Shortcake promo ended and the Smurfs began.  We had spent a few weeks trying to get her the Lemon Meringue toy and she was in tears when we learned that they were done with the Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

3. I gave selling on Craigslist a try this week and actually managed to sell everything I listed in one transaction with the exception of one item which I think I'm just going to keep.  Best of all, I made a profit on the baby items that I had picked up at yard sales or from the trash.

While you're here, visit my two current giveaways:
Grammar Giveaway (ends September 1st)
Wholly Mary Giveaway (ends August 30th)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


One of the things I like about living on the east coast is that we don't have earthquakes.  I've experienced the odd earth tremor here and there, but when they happen it's something that only last a second or two.  I've always been pretty thankful that we don't need to worry about earthquakes here.

This afternoon, however, has me wondering if those of us on the east coast are really ok to have no worries about earth quakes.  As I sat at the dining room table looking around online, I thought my sleep deprivation was getting to me.  It looked like the china in my china cabinets was moving.  Then I began to hear them rattle and see them dance.  It was at this point that Madeline and Ellie started asking what was happening.  Seconds before Madeline didn't notice that the house was shaking when I asked her.  In all the ordeal lasted close to thirty seconds.  It started off very gradually and the intensity just got stronger and stronger.  Once the house stopped shaking that's when I started to hear things fall.  Apparently the quake was strong enough to knock Madeline's heavy bookend and books off of her bookshelf.

When I went to investigate the upstairs (the scene of the fallen items) I also noticed that the light fixtures were swaying quite a bit.  It took over three minute for them to stop swaying.  How crazy is that?

Shockingly Easy

I mentioned on Sunday that I was giving selling on Craigslist a try.  I honestly expected to either get no responses on anything I was selling, or to get people like me trying to get what I was selling for next to nothing.  Instead I had a totally different experience.

Last night I checked my email on my phone while Bryan dropped Madeline off at soccer camp.  I was really surprised when I had an email from someone asking if the aquarium bouncer seat I had listed was still available.  She was also interested in the matching activity gym I had listed (proof that mentioning other items you are selling in the ad is a good way to make another sale).  I responded to her that I had both items.  She wanted them both and was willing to pay my asking price.  As if that didn't shock me enough, she also asked what else I had for sale that she could use for when her grandbaby visits.  I sent her a list and later that evening she sent me an email saying she'd like to buy it all to and give her a total and a meeting place for today.  I'm still shocked at my apparent beginner's luck.

Probably the best part of this is the fact that I managed to sell just about everything I listed in one transaction.  Even better is the fact that I made a profit on the items.  I'm still very excited that I got $20 for a mint condition Chicco hook on booster seat that I trash picked from someone in our development a few months ago.  Bryan made fun of me when I rescued it from the curb, but I now have $20 that says trash picking pays.

I met with the buyer's husband this morning and he was very pleased with their new baby gear.  I'm glad my trash picking and yard sale bargain hunting paid off.

Getting a Jump on Sleep Deprivation

Why wait until you have a newborn in the house to have sleepless nights?  I couldn't think of a good answer to that question so now I'm sitting here at my laptop trying to pass time.

As if having to wake up multiple times a night to the baby's thrashing about and sucker punches to my internal organs wasn't enough fun, now I'm dealing with some pretty bad acid reflux.  Up until late last week Pepcid AC was doing a great job of keeping the joys of acid reflux at bay in the evening.  I suppose that the baby's size now has something to do with the ramped up intensity of my current state of evening heartburn.

The past few nights haven't provided me with the best sleep, but I did manage to prop myself up in such a way that my esophagus didn't wind up with a hole burnt in it and I got to sleep.  Tonight nothing has worked for me.  I couldn't fall asleep on the couch and nap before bed, and then once I went to bed I only got 2 1/2-3 hours of sleep before finding myself in my present state of misery.

So as I sit here popping Tums, which by the way don't work, I find myself wondering if I'd be able to get sleep if I had a recliner.  Bryan would probably love the prospect of having a recliner in the house, but I really don't like them.  I wouldn't mind borrowing one for a few weeks to see if it lets me get some sleep.

Book Review: Catholic Mass for Dummies

One of the things that struck me about Catholic Mass for Dummies is its versatility.  Whether you are a cradle Catholic, a recent convert, or just someone who is curious about the Catholic Mass, you are bound to learn something from this book.  Just as with any For Dummies book, you can open this book having minimal knowledge on the topic at hand and come away from it knowing enough to carry on a conversation.

In this book readers will learn about the structure of the Mass.  You'll get a good explanation of why Catholics do what they do during Mass.  You'll also learn about the different Catholic rites, the different forms of the Mass and much more.

I teach religious education at my parish and I liked that this book doesn't just cover the order of the Mass.  It covers the reasons for the liturgical colors, it discusses the objects used during Mass, and the things you'll see when you enter a Catholic church.  It's great as a primer for someone who's new to the Catholic faith or as a refresher for someone who either can't remember what he was taught in CCD or was never taught about it at all.

I was happy to see that this book covers the upcoming changes to the Mass responses.  A sufficient explanation is given for the changes.  Since a vast majority of Catholics are unaware that these changes are coming in November, this book could serve as a as good resource and a nice jumping off point for gaining a better understanding of the Mass.

While this isn't the best book I have read on the Mass, it is a decent book that offers plenty of information on both the Mass and Catholicism.

This review was written as part of the Amazon Vine review program.  I was provided with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  To learn more about this book or to read excerpts please visit the Catholic Mass for Dummies product page.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Friar Jack's Favorite Prayers

A little while back, I had the opportunity to read Friar Jack's Favorite Prayers.  In this book Friar Jack Wintz introduces us to his favorite prayers and lets us in on what makes those prayers resonate with him.  At first glance, you might wonder why someone would want to read a book about another person's favorite prayers.  I wondered that myself as I began to read this book and I quickly found that there was more to this book than just a Franciscan friar writing about the prayers he likes best.

One of the things that struck me when reading this book was Friar Jack's take on many traditional, well-known prayers.  While some of what he had to say didn't necessarily resonate with me at first, I found over time that much of what he had to say came to make a lot of sense in the months after I had read the book.

In the beginning of this book, Friar Jack gives a brief tour of the different types of prayer and discusses how they all help to lead us closer to God.  He also shares an important bit of wisdom as to why each of us should find the type of prayer that helps us to "tune in" the best.  Having read that, it helped me to not feel so bad when I'd come across a favorite prayer of his in this book that simply didn't resonate with me one bit.

As with any book that gives a reflection on a well known prayer, you're likely to find that maybe you don't agree with the author's take.  There were a few prayers where Friar Jack's take on it was very different from other explanations I had read in the past.  At first glance I'd be caught off guard.  In many instances, after taking a little time to ponder what he had to say much of it would make sense and as I mentioned already, after more time had passed I found many of his reflections to seem deeper than I had previously thought.  Overall, I found the book to be an insightful read.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of Friar Jack's Favorite Prayers by the publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press, in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me?

The grammar loving geek in me squealed with delight when I was asked if I'd be interested in reviewing this title.  Of course I'd be interested in checking out a book on grammar that is intended to be a useful reference for students and their parents!

Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines have put together an easy to understand guide to grammar in their My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me?-How to speak and Write it Right.  The book comes across as the big brother version of another grammar book I recently reviewed entitled Write (Or Is That "Right"?) Every Time.  My Grammar and I is a book which I think would be of benefit to students ranging from seventh grade through college and beyond.  The book covers many areas of grammar which many people typically bungle.  Pretty much, if it's something that would make a grammar teacher want to pull out her hair and scream, it's explained in this book with easy to understand explanations.

If you're a grammar geek and you think you know it all, you'll likely be amused by the Smart Aleck asides that are sprinkled throughout the text.  There are many other occasions for the grammar expert to learn a few new things as he pages through this book.

Having been afforded the opportunity to read this book and Write (Or Is That "Right"?) Every Time, I would only recommend this book for students who aren't going to totally glaze over at the sight of this book. While it has some fun facts, it certainly has a more serious focus than the other title which is geared to a younger audience.  Older grammar geeks, like myself, will also appreciate My Grammar and I.  This book is certainly a nice reference book to have on hand for those moments when those pesky grammar questions arise.

My Grammar and I...Or Should That Be Me? is published by Reader's Digest.  The book is available in ebook and hardcover versions.  The hardcover version retails for $14.95.  You can take a peek inside this book at Amazon.com by visiting the product page.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by FSB Media in exchange for my honest review.

Later this week I will be hosting a giveaway of this title sponsored by FSB Media.  Stay tuned for details  to win a copy of this book.

Book Review: Write (Or Is That "Right"?) Every Time

I'm a total sucker for grammar rules.  I blame the grammar teacher I had for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.  She was tough and absolutely determined to make sure her students didn't get out of her class without knowing how to spell the word grammar ("Use two A's if you want to get an A in grammar.") and use grammar properly in their speech and writing.  I'm sure plenty of kids zoned out and didn't succumb to her powerful reprogramming, but I can still hear her in the back of my head as I write.  What I learned in the three years I had her has stuck with me and I am now bound and determined to make sure my children are also well versed in the art of grammar.

Recently I was provided an opportunity to review a book geared to help students and really anyone who uses the English language to write properly.  The book is called Write (Or Is That "Right"?) Every Time-Cool Way to Improve your English.  According to the product page on Amazon.com the target audience for this book is children between the ages of nine to twelve. After reading this book  I can tell you I believe it's a great resource for grade four and beyond.  The book takes a light-hearted approach at explaining various grammar rules.  It essentially fills in the cavernous gaps that are found in many schools today.  As I read through this book I was not only amused by the author's turn of phrase, but I also found the illustrations to be rather humorous.  Because of this, I believe this is a book that will grab the attention of younger students in the fourth to eighth grade range.  While this book will certainly appeal to these younger students, there is still a wealth of information to be found in this book which will prove incredibly useful for high school and even college students.

My oldest daughter is about to enter fifth grade and I pointed out a few of the topics in this book and asked her if she understood them after reading the author's explanation.  She not only found the explanations funny, but she also came away with a good understanding of things such as the importance of comma placement.

I suspect that this book will be referenced many times over the coming years as my children learn to write properly.  Whether you home educate or send your children to a traditional school, this book is certainly a fun and informative reference to have on hand.

This handy grammar book, which is published by Reader's Digest,  is available in an attractive hard back.  The hard back version retails for $9.99 which I think is a very reasonable price given the sound grammatical direction it offers.

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of this book by FSB Media in exchange for my honest review.  You can learn more about this book and take a peek inside by visiting the product page on Amazon's website.

Later this week I'll be hosting a giveaway of this title sponsored by FSB Media.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Giving Craigslist a Try

Over the past year or so I've made a few purchases through Craigslist.  It's sort of like the internet version of yard sales, only I don't have to follow bad signs and I can actually search for specifically what I want.  I've found that just like regular yard sales you can haggle on the price and I like that.  I love to point out a slight flaw on something that is for sale and make it seem like it's horrible enough to knock 50% off of the asking price.  Usually it catches the seller off guard and they agree.  Other times, I use the walk away tactic after my low ball offer is rejected.  That typically results in the seller chasing me down before I reach my car to tell me they'll take it.  Craigslist is pretty much the same.  Since I go through email when making offers I usually will tell people who reject my offer that they can contact me in a month when it still hasn't sold for their asking price or counter offer.  That usually gets a response a few days later telling me they'll sell it for what I was offering.

Now I'm giving Craigslist a try from the selling side.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine program and generous friends who have passed baby items on to us, some of my yard sale finds are now on Craigslist.  I had picked up some baby gear for my mom's house which wasn't as nice as things I was given so I tossed them up with reasonable prices which leave room for haggling with people like me.  If this venture into the world of selling stuff doesn't work I'll either take it to a consignment shop or I'll do what I normally do and just donate it so I don't have to be bothered.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Sinner

Sometimes you see a book and you instantly think to yourself that there's probably no way you're going to like it.  That was my initial reaction when an advance review copy of Lino Rulli's Sinner arrived at my house.  I looked at it and thought there would be little in the book that would even remotely appeal to me.  Then I decided that I should at least peek inside the book and see what it was about.  Within minutes of me scanning the book, I was incredibly amused.

Sinner is Lino's story of his life as a Catholic and his struggle to be a faithful one at that.  As I read through the book I frequently found myself laughing until I cried.  The stories found in this book are a riot.  Each of the stories has a point so for those who lack a sense of humor, you can rest assured that there are nice little gems of wisdom tucked into the author's amusing recollections.

Because of how funny this book is, you may not want to take it so say a waiting room at a doctor's office unless, of course,  you don't mind people looking at you like you've lost it.  It's certainly a book that will get you some curious stares as you try to suppress raucous laughter.  That being said, it was worth having a room full of people look at me as though I were insane to have the pleasure of reading this book.

Sinner certainly gets my recommendation.  It's an enjoyable read that is sure to make you laugh out loud.    You can grab a copy of this seriously funny book when it is released this September.

I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher, Servant Books, in exchange for my honest review.  You can view excerpts of this book on the product page at Amazon.com.

Car Question?

It's become rather obvious that the bright yellow Ford Mustang that sits in our driveway is not exactly a car that will be able to accommodate our family in another 5 1/2-7 weeks.  The car, which I cannot drive since someone who shall remain nameless decided to buy himself a stick shift, only seats four.  Since strapping children to the roof of the car or stowing them in the trunk is typically frowned upon, that leaves us looking for a suitable car that can occasionally carry all three children in the back seat.

We're looking for a car that has a back seat that is big enough to fit and properly secure two Graco backless Turboboosters, and a Britax Marathon 70 or Britax Roundabout convertible seat.  We were looking at a Ford Edge, but that one got tossed out of consideration as soon as I came to the realization that the back seat is really only meant to carry two children riding in a child restraint.

Also, traveling with only two children in a child safety seat is not an option.  While Madeline is going to be ten next month and legally in the state of NJ she was only required to be in a booster seat until age 8 or 80lbs, which ever came first, I intend to keep her in a booster seat until she is either 4'9"[NHTSA recommendation or "magic number"] or 12 years old.  I'm not willing to take the chance of her sustaining internal injuries due to improper seat belt placement in the event of an accident.  Madeline has a good six inches to grow before she hits the NHTSA's "magic number" so I don't think she'll be riding without a booster seat anytime soon.

I'm not sure why the car manufacturers make the seat belt placement on their cars as odd as they do.  If all the belts were evenly spaced, we would have been able to fit three seats across the back of the Edge.  The same goes for the third row of our Toyota Sienna.  The bench in the van has more than enough room to fit all three seats but the seat belt placement is what keeps us from actually being able to secure the seats.

If you have any suggestions for a car that isn't a minivan or a huge SUV with a third row which might work for us, let me know.  We're going to be checking out different cars and seeing which ones can fit our three seats.

Wholly Mary Giveaway

There's nothing quite like announcing that you're going to host a giveaway of something and then not realizing that you never wrote up the post to start the giveaway until nearly two weeks later.  Ooops!  I think at this point it's pretty obvious that pregnancy is keeping me from being able to think straight.  The scary thing is I'm allowed to operate a motor vehicle in this condition. So long as I don't forget that red means stop I think everyone else will be just fine.

Anyway, on to the giveaway.  A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Chris Padgett's latest book Wholly Mary.  I rather enjoyed this book and I suspect many of you would, too.  Entering the giveaway is simple.  Just leave a comment here to be entered.

Interested in earning bonus entries?  You can earn one extra entry for each one of these:

  • Become a follower of my blog and leave a comment. (If you already follow just leave a comment saying you do.)
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

round button chicken

Capturing those moments I won't want to forget.

Ellie was a flower girl in my cousin Brian's wedding.  Here she is before the ceremony posing with the beautiful bride.
Ellie was very serious about her job and made sure she had all the rose petals placed just right.

Ellie and I posed for a quick picture.  Thankfully the hours long downpour had stopped so the bride and groom could get some beautiful pictures outside.

Ellie and the ring bearer occupied themselves by playing while the rest of the bridal party posed for pictures.  I had more than a few moments where I cringed as Ellie came close to snagging her dress on a bush or running through a soaked garden.  Happily, nothing happened to the dress.
The girls and my dad had a really good time dancing.  My mom, who you can see in the background, was also having a great time.

I assume that most if not all of you have seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Well, this past Sunday we attended my cousin's big fat Kenyan wedding.  The bride and her family are from Kenya and  a lot of their Kenyan traditions were infused into this wedding making it a very unique experience.  Several times all the ladies from the bride's side of the family came out to do a dance.  My mom (in the polka dot dress--because she's Aunt Dot) and my aunts decided to join in the fun.  It was a riot watching them.
My dad had a really good time at the wedding.  You can see him swinging his dinner napkin around in this picture. (Seriously, I can't make this stuff up!)  He's to the left of Madeline in this picture.  He ran around for a while twirling the napkin and towel whipping people with it.  We let him have fun, but I stopped him when he started twirling around the wedding cake and dancing on the platform where the bride and groom had their table.  I'll have to tell my younger cousins that my dad is not to do shots with them at the next wedding in two months since I won't be there to keep an eye on him.

It's the wall of commandeered items.  The chair and pillow were once Ellie's and the pictures on the wall used to hang in Madeline's room before we moved.
I found the white ledge shelves I wanted.  Now I just need to find the perfect spot for the beautiful picture that I currently have resting on the one shelf.

Thanks to the creative inspiration of Charlotte who blogs at Waltzing Matilda, I was able to use her decorating idea and pretty up the wall over the dresser with these beautiful flower cards.  I love how it brings a nice punch of color into the nursery.
I'd say I'm pretty well set at this point to have this baby.  Her closet is packed with tons of diapers, wipes and adorable clothing.  

Small Successes-August 18th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. Call it nesting, call it frenzied purging and cleaning, but this past weekend I spent most of Friday night and Saturday morning organizing the garage.  I simply got tired of waiting for Bryan to get around to it.  I went through the containers that had some college and high school books and notebooks and found plenty to recycle.  I also managed to gather up plenty of old toys and household items that will be finding new homes once they've been donated to Goodwill or some other charity.  I even found a few items that we can currently use in the process.  The garage isn't totally organized yet, but it's getting there.  I'm sure I'll be out there again cleaning like a crazy nesting pregnant woman.  I am very happy that I was able to get both of my new strollers out of the house and stored in the garage.  Now I just need to bring myself to part with one or two of my ten year old strollers.  Convince me that I really don't NEED five strollers for one child.  I do know that I am hanging on to three of them no matter what.

2.  Despite a total deluge on Saturday, we managed to safely make it to my cousin's wedding/renewal ceremony.  Ellie was one of the flower girls and she did a meticulous job carefully making sure the white runner was evenly sprinkled with rose petals.  It was funny how serious she was about doing her job.

3.  I forgot to mention it last week, but Ellie is now riding a bike without training wheels.  She still needs help getting started, but she can ride a couple hundred feet at a time on her own before she starts to get wobbly.  I've been meaning to blog about this since Wednesday of last week and I kept forgetting.   We're hoping she'll learn how to push off and start pedaling sometime during the next week.  I'm very excited for her.  She's not exactly thrilled that riding a two wheeler means she's going to have to exert energy and go for bike rides around the neighborhood with Bryan and Madeline.  I thought she would have been really excited about that since she always wants to go with them.

4. I added more finishing touches to the nursery on Saturday.  The walls are looking more inviting.  I also found a book bin and a shelf for the baby's room.  They're both scheduled to be delivered today, so I suspect they will be on the walls by this weekend or before.  I'm really impressed with how well the room is coming together.  I had my doubts that I could take this particular room and arrange it to fully meet my needs because of it's size, but I've managed to make it work.  Now I need to focus on getting a ceiling fan and someone to install it and a switch for the wall.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Small Successes-August 11th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. At long last I have finished the seemingly never ending project of sanding, painting/staining and sewing liners for three wooden crates.  I needed to do this job so I could reclaim the three crates that were originally used as under the crib storage when Ellie was a baby.  It probably would have been easier to just stain three more to match the nursery furniture, but I figured it would be best to finish the new crates to match the furniture in the rooms where the old ones were being used.  In the process, I have learned that spray painting pine white isn't the easiest thing to do.  In hindsight, I should have used a primer.  Also, polystain that is nearly black in color is not much fun to use.  I had a few freak out moments when the black stain hit my skin and could be seen absorbing and spreading within seconds.  Thankfully, baking soda, the rock star of the cleaning world, had me covered for stain removal.

2. I now have the vast majority of the school supplies that Madeline will need for middle school.  Bryan also managed to get Madeline's bus stop changed.  On Saturday we received her bus pass and the transportation office assigned her to the bus stop at the opposite end of our street as opposed to the bus stop that is less than 100 feet from our property line.  After calling around to the neighbors I discovered that the kids who live in the middle of the street were all assigned to the bus stop closest to our house, but Madeline and the boy who also lives one house away from the bus stop were assigned to the opposite end of the street.  Clearly there's a glitch somewhere.  I can now relax knowing that I'll be able to see her get on the bus in the morning.

3. I'm inching closer to having the nursery set up.  We moved the arm chair from Ellie's room to the nursery.  I had been convinced for months that the chair simply wasn't going to work in the small room, but I was surprised on Sunday afternoon to find that I was wrong.  Ellie isn't exactly happy that her chair is gone, but we promised to get her a bookshelf to replace it.   I haven't said anything to Bryan yet, but I'm thinking about getting her a small chair, too.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Impending Hostage Situation

Last night we took a tour of the hospital where I'll be delivering the new baby.  I chose this hospital because not only is the labor and delivery room private, the mother-baby unit also consists of private rooms.  When I had Madeline it was at a hospital that had LDR[Labor, Delivery, Recovery] rooms and I stayed in that room from when I arrive in labor until she and I were discharged around 32 hours later.  Of the whole experience I had no complaints.  With Ellie I went to a hospital with a L&D room and was moved to a semi-private room which was mine alone until the last day I was there when a chain smoking c-section mom and ten of her visitors packed into the room, encroached on my space and made loads of noise.  I was also kept at the hospital far longer than I would have liked.  I was ready to go home 8 hours after delivering and was kept there for an additional 32 hours and was only discharged when I threw a huge fit that they were keeping me and the baby against my will.

Our hospital tour went well last night and I'm happy that I won't have to repeat the awful experience of sharing a room with someone.  I was not happy when the tour guide kept mentioning that after birth you spend two days in the mother baby unit.  I'm sorry, but unless there's something wrong with me or the baby I can't see a single reason why I should be kept in a tiny room, with a horrifically uncomfortable bed for two days.  Personally, I'd prefer to never set foot in the hospital, but I have a husband who insists that I have the baby at the hospital.  I think I'd rather take my chances of bleeding out after delivery than go to the "safety" of a germ ridden hospital.

I was hopeful that I would get some assurance from the midwife at my appointment this Thursday that I wouldn't be held hostage for two days after giving birth, but I'm starting to think I'm not going to get that assurance.  I took Madeline to the doctor today for a well visit and was talking to our pediatrician about newborn related concerns for when I deliver.  He's fairly certain that jaundice is in our future given our track record.  He also agrees that my little hiccuping wonder probably has reflux.  While we were talking he mentioned the blood work that is done in the hospital at 36-48 hours after birth.  Wonderful.  I'm staring down the barrel of at least 36 hours of being held hostage.

To make the situation worse, Bryan still has full intentions of carting me off to the hospital as early as possible to prolong my suffering.  I'm hoping that I will go into labor when he's at work.  If I'm lucky, he'll get stuck in traffic along the way and won't get to me until labor has progressed along a little further.  With Madeline and Ellie he was at the last OB appointment which lead to me being in labor.  Is it wrong if I intentionally tell him my appointment is a day after when  it actually is starting around 36 weeks?  This would certainly buy me a little time and get the nervous Nellie off my back.

We were just arguing on the phone a little bit ago about the fact that I don't want to be in the hospital a minute longer than I feel I need to be there.  He's insisting that I need to stay for however long they say I need to be there.  I then raised my concern about his carting me off to the hospital hours before I need to be there.  He for some reason feels that he's the one who should make that judgement call.  With Ellie I spent nearly 8 hours in the hospital before I delivered her, and with Madeline I was there for about 4 or 5 hours before I had her.  Both times I felt that I could have spent a little more time laboring on my own out of the hospital than I did.  I'd be happy if I only had to be there for an hour or so before delivering.

I think it goes without saying that I'm not a happy camper at this point.  I'll be sure to make sure I don't mention any contractions I feel once I hit the 36 week mark otherwise someone will be hauling me off to the hospital for no reason.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Things that make me giddy

In many ways I am my grandfather's granddaughter.  Grandpop always loved a good bargain.  If he found a bargain, he didn't just buy one, he'd buy a dozen.  If Sears had a good deal on hammers, Grandpop would buy 12 of them.  It didn't even matter if he had one at home already.  After he'd get his great bargain he'd happily tell everyone and anyone about it.  He'd tell the story, pause to run and get the item and then come back proudly holding his latest bargain.  I always found this rather amusing.  It wasn't enough that KMart had Fruit of the Loom underwear on sale, Grandpop had to buy a lifetime supply [and NEVER use it].

The cool thing about my grandpop was he liked hearing about other people's great bargains as much as he liked telling people about his.  When Madeline was very little money was quite tight and I turned to yard sales to find the pricy outdoor toys I wanted for our yard.  Spending $45 on a little car or $200 on a play house or Power Wheels vehicle was just not in the budget for us.  By going to yard sales I was able to get the items I wanted for Madeline for literally a small fraction of the price.  One particular day, I managed to find a Power Wheels Jeep for $10, a Barbie Power Wheels Jeep for $10 [Which we sold to Bryan's co-worker for $20, thereby making the one we kept FREE], a Little Tikes house in desperate need of a good cleaning for $5 and a cozy coupe and yellow little Tike's chair for $1.  In the end, I got the items on my most wanted list for a whopping $6.  My grandfather was so proud when he heard this story, that he insisted on paying for my yard sale finds.  He wanted to tell others about the $6 he spent, and he had a picture of Madeline playing with her new to her toys that he could show to others.

So I think it's safe to say that between my Grandpop (Mom's side) and my dad, I learned to be one frugal bargain hunting gal.  Sure I like to buy the occasional high end overpriced item here and there, but for the most part, I want everything I buy to be the best deal I can get.  Example: I won't buy Cheerios at Acme.  Instead, I'd rather drive in pouring rain to Target, get soaked going in and out of the store and save a dollar and get a bigger box of cereal, rather than give Acme my money and reduce my time in the rain.  Faced with the same scenario Bryan would take the hit and buy the cereal at Acme.  Not me.  I play the game.

Yesterday we took the girls out to lunch and stopped in at a not so local Target to check out their baby clearance.  I had already scored a Graco Pack N Play for $35 and a Fisher Price Bouncer for $15 a couple weeks ago.  I've been stressing about the small size of the nursery and how limited I am in where I can place the furniture.  We decided that perhaps a changing table would be a good solution to our problem.  We could put it on the small wall, place the dresser in the closet and pull in a chair so I have a place to sit with the baby.   Two Targets in one day yielded the same result.  Changing table for $58 that would require me to spray paint it a color to go with the nursery.  I'm not a fan of spray painting things that cost more than a few dollars when I'm not sure how the end result will look.  We decided to pass on it.  Then I spied the bargain that I simply have to tell everyone about.

I managed to find a Britax Roundabout 50 Classic, in a girly pattern with a harness that goes with my van interior, for $77!  I'm so thrilled at this.  I had seen the seat for $105 a few weeks ago at another Target, but I didn't buy it thinking that it would be cheaper to buy a new cover for a seat I reviewed last year.  It wasn't until I found out that the company wanted $70 plus shipping for a new cover that I started to think that I'd be better off buying a new Britax Marathon classic so I could use the spare covers I have from Ellie's old seat.  Anyway, I got the carseat I'll be using for the baby once she's no longer in the infant car seat.  The bonus in all of this is the Marathon covers I have from Ellie's old seat which will expire in 12 months, actually fit this seat perfectly.  In the event of a major mess, I at least have a cover which I can use in a pinch.

Oh, and I think I have the nursery furniture problem solved.  Ellie's white armchair fits nicely on the tiny wall.  It's not the best furniture arrangement, but I think we can live with it.  I'll probably be posting a few pictures of the room in the coming days.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Imagination Station Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Munchesmom!  The random number generator selected you as the winner of the Imagination Station books.  Please email me at Karen@KarenInMommyland.com with your contact information.

Sorry I took so long to announce the winner.  I've been wrapped up in a lot of craft projects this past week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quick Takes Volume 12

It's slightly unsettling when you walk into a room and discover that the massive pile of clothes that once occupied a sizable portion of a wall is gone.  Once I get over the initial shock, I feel a wave of relief knowing that I finally got the outgrown clothes sorted.
I think Madeline is trying to soak us this week.  On Monday, the pregnant mom couldn't take being asked "When can we go shopping for school clothes?" one more time.  So I decided to take the kids to Kohls and Children's Place in an attempt to get Madeline off my back.  It worked for approximately eighteen hours.  On Tuesday, she began to pester me about school supplies, again.  I looked up the supply list for the middle school and took her to Target.  That night minutes before soccer practice she informed me that her cleats are too small.  Really? Wednesday she woke up and began to pester me for soccer cleats and a book bag.  So off we went to L.L.Bean to get the bag.  We get home and she tells me she doesn't like the color. [God help me!].  I then go online and buy the same bag in the color she wants thereby making the trip to the store totally pointless.  That evening saw us at Sports Authority buying new cleats and soccer sandals.  Surely the kid would be content on Thursday morning, right?  HA! "Mom, when are you going to get me new glasses?  Mine are all bent." [Mom takes a deep breath and tries to remember what the young, childless priest told her about needing to be charitable, prudent and patient, when she went to confession last Saturday.]  First, I calmly explained that we've spent quite a lot of money on her this week and we have other expenses and needs [like food for pregnant mom] that we need to address.  Then, completely throwing the valid and wise advice from the priest out the window I proceeded to tell her that she was insane if she thought we were going to spend $500 on her in a single week.  An hour or two later I asked a FB friend where she got her daughter's glasses and she told me about how she got two pairs for under $90.  So I caved, took both girls to this place and got them two pairs each for less than what I paid for Ellie's current pair.  Friday morning came and Madeline hasn't asked for a single thing.
My body has now caught onto the fact that I am indeed in my third trimester.  I had been feeling pretty good lately, but the past few days I've been incredibly tired.  I even slept late a few mornings this week.
I'm continually in amazement that I am only nine weeks away from my due date.  Both of my girls were born at 38 weeks on the nose, so I suspect I'll be holding a new baby girl in my arms sometime in the next 7-9 weeks.  Amazing.
A frappuccino from Starbucks is responsible for me powering through the outgrown clothes in my bedroom and getting the downstairs cleaned on Tuesday night.  It's also the reason I didn't go to bed until 3AM.  I guess in the scheme of things it was well worth it.  Imagine, for under $5 I can have my house look like a cleaning crew swooped in late at night.  Of course, I'm the one doing all the work.  It would be better to have an actual cleaning crew.
This week has been rather productive for me in terms of writing reviews.  I managed to review five items that were on my to do list.  I'm trying to get everything caught up before the baby arrives.  No idea if it's possible or not.
I'm working towards getting the wooden crates for the family room and Ellie's room finished.  I finally went out and brought black stain for the family room crate and got to work on finishing the crate yesterday.  I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of this weekend.  Ellie's crates should be finished by tomorrow.  I put what I hope is the final coat of white spray paint on them this morning.  Now I just need to go buy fabric for the liners and break out the sewing machine.  These projects feel like they're never ending.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: Wholly Mary

It feels like ages ago that I finally got a moment to sit down and read Chris Padgett's new book Wholly Mary Mother of God.  It was a book I knew I wanted to read as soon as I saw it.  The problem, of course, was finding the time to sit down with this book.

Once I found a few moments here and there to sit down and read this book, I was transported to a guided tour of who Our Blessed Mother is.  There were a few moments when I read this book that I felt like it wasn't all that different from many of the other books I have read on the Blessed Mother, but there were many more moments where I found myself reading what Chris Padgett had to say and thinking that he expertly explained whatever aspect he was currently addressing in the book.

So who might benefit from reading this book?  I'd say anyone who is looking to learn more about who Mary is.  It would be a great book for someone who doesn't understand Marian devotion, or anyone who would like a good introduction to Marian devotion.  This book really has something in it for everyone.

For more information on Wholly Mary-Mother of God please visit The Catholic Company. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

I was provided with a complimentary review copies of this book by The Catholic Company Reviewer Program and the publisher, Servant Books in exchange for my honest review.  Because I have two copies, I will be hosting a giveaway of this book starting August 5th and closing on August 15th August 19th and closing on August 29th.  Be sure to check back for you chance to win a copy of this book.

Small Successes-August 4th


Celebrating the little things in life that add up.

1. For over a year I've had a growing pile of outgrown children's clothing and shoes that was taking over an eight foot long section of open wall in my bedroom.  Sure, you might think, "Well maybe they don't have somewhere to put it." but that wouldn't exactly be true.  The truth is I was too cheap to go and buy new 18 gal rubbermaid totes, and I was too lazy to actually sort through the clothes.  Had I done either of these things, I would have known that there were clothes in that mess of a pile that Ellie could have been wearing since the start of the summer.  I spent just about all day Tuesday tackling the clothing problem.  I sorted through the clothes and separated them by size.  I was delighted to learn that I have lots of size 4 clothes and even some 3T.

I also came to the conclusion that Bryan was right and saving used underwear to hand down to younger siblings just shouldn't be done. (Yes, I have done this and Ellie is alive and well.)  One day I expect the baby to heartily thank me for not making her wear underwear that is 10 years old and previously worn by two other people.  I doubt I'll actually be thanked for that.  I'll probably just get Ellie's therapy bills to pay for the emotional damage I inflicted on her by making her wear the occasional used underwear.  For the record, she has always had several packs of new underwear, but I also mixed in the nicer hand me down stuff, too.  In Bryan's eyes even this practice could qualify as a mortal sin.

So the clothes are organized, I have several large bags of clothes, shoes and soccer gear that will be donated or given to friends and all of the remaining clothes save for one tote were able to fit in the hand-me-down closet.  Going through the existing totes that were in the closet is what allowed me to get everything put away and organized.  Going forward I will no longer be saving very worn shoes, used underwear (You're welcome, Ellie and baby.) and discolored socks, or clothes with stains or visible signs of overwearing.  I'm also going to work on buy less clothing to begin with.  At one point Bryan walked into the room as I was lamenting the fact that I don't know how we could have so much clothing when we only have two kids.  His response was simply "This is what happens when you buy everything that you think is cute."

2. On Monday, I took the girls to Children's place and did a little back to school shopping with the 30% off coupon they emailed me.  I didn't want to go shopping, but between Madeline pestering me everyday since July 1st to buy clothes and TCP twisting my arm with clothes on sale plus an 30% off coupon I figured I'd just do it and get Madeline off my back.  In an attempt to be reasonable about clothes shopping (see above) I brought Madeline 4 pairs of jeans, which happen to be the same size she wore last year, and one skirt outfit she can wear to school or Mass.  Poor Ellie hardly ever gets clothes when we go shopping since I tend to go shopping for her in our hand me down closet.  She didn't need jeans since we had plenty in the hand me down closet.  I did buy her one really cute skirt outfit with two different tops so she can wear it in the fall when it's still a bit warm and also in the winter when it's freezing.  I even managed to score a pair of navy mary jane shoes for her for around $10.  She was very happy with her new shoes, knee socks and outfit.

3. Last week some friends gave us their wood high chair.  Not only is this high chair a perfect match to our kitchen set, it also fits perfectly in the small space next to our pantry closet.  It's like the highchair was made for this previously useless space.  The only thing this high chair needed was a new seat pad.  Using a helpful tutorial I found on line, I managed to make two new seat pads for the highchair.  I'm really happy with how the second pad turned out.  I like how cheerful it looks.  I was originally going to have Bryan find a place to store the high chair until we need it in January or February, but now I'm thinking I might just leave it out.
4. I took the girls to L.L.Bean yesterday so Madeline would stop pestering me to get Madeline a book bag for middle school.  While we were there I managed to steer her away from the incredibly ugly print she wanted and onto the retina burning hot pink pack.  Once we got home I looked online and found the pack was actually available in the solid aqua color she liked on another pack.  So I ordered that one to avoid having a miserable 5th grader.  While looking at lunch box options I found the blue critter lunch box to match Ellie's new pack* on clearance.  It ended up being a fortunate series of events.  

*Last year I took Ellie to L.L.Bean to buy her critter pack and lunch box that would be used from K-4th grade.  When we left the house she was bound and determined to buy the light blue bag.  As soon as we walked in the store she NEEDED the retina burning hot pink pack.  The day she graduated from kindergarten she told me that she made a bad color choice and should have gotten the blue bag.  Why this child never said anything when I asked her a gazillion times before school started if she was sure about the color will remain a mystery.  That night I went online and noticed that the bag she wanted was clearanced out to $15.  I told my mom who was looking for birthday ideas for Ellie and she ordered the bag.  The problem was that they no longer had the matching lunch box for sale.  Imagine my delight when I came across the lunch box clearanced out on the L.L.Bean website yesterday afternoon.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Final Day for Imagination Station Giveaway

Tonight I will be drawing a winner for the Imagination Station Giveaway.  Make sure you enter by 5pm EST today for a chance to win books three and four for the young reader in your life.  You can enter the giveaway by clicking on this link.
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