Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Top 25 Must-Have Books for Wee Ones

Yes, I'm a teacher and yes, teaching is going to weave its way into my child rearing. But reading to your little one isn't necessarily something that only teachers know is good for them. Duh. It's common sense. Read to your kids! Every night. Yes. Ev-er-ry  ni-igh-ht. Lots of research has shown that reading to your kids at very early ages stimulates their minds. Ok, I totally made that up, but I really don't think it's ever too early to start reading to them. I can guarantee that it's never made a kid stupider.

I remember being read to all the time when I was little. And I get such a wonderful nostalgic feeling when I come across some of the books that I may have "forgotten about", but are still buried deep within the depths of my soul. Some of the books that I've put on my top 25 must-have list are such books, and others are newer books that are truly amazing and should definitely be in every kid's library. This list is comprised of picture books and is geared towards children ages 0-5, but most of them can easily be enjoyed by kids as old as me {30+}. Without further aideu:

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

2. Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch

3. I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer

4. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

 5. The Three Little Pigs {any author of the original story}

6. Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss

7. Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire

8. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
9. The Poky Little Puppy, a Little Golden Book Classic*
*It should be noted that I am not a fan of the Golden Books...Most of them are silly, outdated, and don't really tell a story. They're just words on pictures, in my opinion. But this one stuck with me and it's the one exception to this rule.

10. Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel

11. The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

12. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

13. Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems

14. Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin

15. Don't Let Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems

16. Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

17. No, David! by David Shannon

18. Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt

19. The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

20. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

21. Go Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman

22. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

23. The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audry Wood

24. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

25. The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

10 Things I Will Miss About Being Pregnant. And 5 Things I Won't.

Being pregnant for the first time has been such a cool experience. It's nothing and everything like I thought it would be all at the same time! When I first found out I was pregnant back on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - it didn't seem real. I mean I didn't really know what I was looking at.  I peed on like 4 of those little tests! The first time, I thought I was crazy, but then the rest of them didn't really help convince me. The little + sign was so faint and I didn't want to get overly excited without being 100% sure. But when I showed baby daddy, he agreed that it was positive!! Laissez les bons temps roule!

 Now that I am this close to popping this kid out, I know there will definitely be things that I am going to miss. And sure, things that I won't.

Here are the 10 things that I am definitely going to miss about being pregnant:

1. Feeling those awesome, no-better-feeling-in-the-world rolls and kicks and squirms. They stop me in my tracks and I love 'em. It's kind of like butterflies in your belly, topped with what you think a human moving in around in your belly would feel like. That's really how it feels! Just like you think it would feel. I will definitely miss that.

2. Not knowing what to expect or when to expect it! I love the unknown - even the stuff that isn't so pleasant. It's crazy the things that happen to a woman's body when we get pregnant - and some of it is, let's face it, gross! But it's kinda comical. Like, for instance, clearing my husband out of a room because of one of my farts - instead of the other way around. What goes around comes around, dear!

3. Feeling her little butt in my belly. I love when I know what a body part is that's moving around - and really, the only one I know for sure that I'm feeling is her little butt. Bah!

4.Using the "I'm eating that because I'm pregnant" excuse. I will definitely miss my nightly ice cream or brownie, or cake, or Oreo Blizzard, or cookie. I was not shy at all about taking full advantage of being pregnant to indulge in whatever sinful dessert presented itself. Or even the ones that didn't present themselves {Glennnnnn....will you go get me a Blizzard???}. Those days are slowly coming to an end. Instead of every night, I'm down to just a few nights a week of enjoying something sweet. And sometimes that consists of a tall glass of Ovaltine.

5. Taking full advantage of not "overdoing" it. I am so very guilty of that. I really do try my best to still do the little things on my own, like getting off the couch unassisted, for example. But sometimes, I ask Glenn to put my socks on because I am just plum worn out. I don't think he'll go for that once I am no longer with child.

6. Sleeping all the time. I will definitely miss that. There is no need to elaborate on this.

7. I'm going to miss the mystery of what she will look like! I love surprises and we didn't do any of the 3 or 4D ultrasounds because I want it to be a surprise! I'll miss the anticipation, but at the same time, I'll be so ecstatic to meet her, I will likely forget about this one very quickly.

8. Using the "I'm pregnant" excuse to get out of doing stuff I don't feel like doing. Like carrying things. Or bringing the groceries in. And unloading the dishwasher, which is definitely the stupidest and #1 most-hated chore in the universe. I will seriously pay someone in chocolate to come unload my dishwasher every other day.

9. Wearing sweatpants {I call them my "pregnant pants"} and/or workout clothes basically on a daily basis. I have the most comfortable clothes on 90% of the time and I will definitely miss using my big belly as an excuse to be a slob. At least I'm still showering daily, though!

10. Being pregnant for the first time in general. The whole experience has been incredible and I will definitely miss it. I will never be pregnant again for the first time and that's kind of a sad pill to swallow.

And now, let's not neglect the things that I definitely won't miss!

1. Heartburn and indigestion. It's awful and there is just no nice way of putting that. It sucks.

2. Not being able to get comfortable, especially at night. I would love to be able to sit up in bed and read a book like a normal human, but I have to get really creative in the way in which I contort myself in order to stay comfortable whilst reading. It's exhausting.

3. Not being able to eat mass quantities of food. I can't eat hardly anything anymore because there is just no room in there! I miss going for seconds. However, I can't really say that this is a bad thing! It's because of this that I have managed to keep my pregnancy weight gain under 30 pounds.

4. Not being able to workout like the beast that I usually am. I'll eat those words later, I'm sure, but I really do miss working out. I'm looking forward to my first spin class after Olivia's arrival.

5. This daggone costochondritis. {Go ahead and Google that. I'll be right here waiting.} I have had it the ENTIRE time and it's relentless. Sometimes I am able to forget about it, but other times, it's really difficult to ignore. I will be glad when it subsides.

Overall, my pregnancy has been darn good to me. Which can only mean one thing for the birth itself: It will be hell. But, like all mothers out there keep telling me, totally worth it!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

DIY Maternity Photo Shoot

Maternity photographers are VERY good at what they do. There is no question about that. I love seeing the gorgeous shots that they are able to catch and I am definitely an advocate for supporting photographers. With that being said, true professional photography sessions are expensive, and rightfully so. The time it takes alone to retouch photographs to get them just right is worth as much as they charge for the whole package. Seriously. But with diapers, daycare, car seats, clothes, cribs, bottles, boogie wipes, and the endless list of baby gear that continues to grow {well after you think you have it all} - paying for yet another expense is stupid scary. If you have the money to spend on professional photography - definitely do it. No question about it. But if you truly just do not have the funds - like poor me, then you can host your own photography session and still get gorgeous pictures! Even some of the less expensive cameras can produce quality pics that you can retouch using regular ole' software, like iPhoto. Google is your friend. Use it. I got the DIY maternity photo shoot by using it. Shameless! This post by Lindsey from The Accidental Wallflower was a HUGE help in getting me started in the right direction.

Pinterest is your friend, too. And if you are one of those people that have been living on the moon for the last 2 years, discovering Pinterest should be your #1 priority - after reading this post, of course. I spend many o'hours wasting time on Pinterest. Sometimes, however, I become productive and take some of the things I've seen on Pinterest and put them to use. Case in point: my wonderful DIY Maternity Photog Board. I was able to steal borrow some of my favorite poses that I found and use them during my own photo session {during which I had a dear friend take the photos using my Sony DSLR camera - an investment EVERY new parent should make}. Below are some of my maternity photos from my el cheap-o DIY photo session. I edited most of them using Photoshop {and FYI...I'm by NO MEANS a Photoshop expert - and again, this is where Google comes in handy}, but some of them I edited just using iPhoto - so that you can see that you don't need fancy software to get your pics looking like you want them to look. Another good, less expensive photo editing option is Photoshop Elements, software that you can download for about a hundred bucks and can be used by the dummiest of dummies out there with a little patience. Photo editing software is a great investment because you know you will ALWAYS want to take pics of your babies and you will ALWAYS want to make them look better than your neighbor/sister/friend's photos. You know it's true.


So, don't panic if you're newly pregnant, short on cash, and you know you want to have some awesome maternity photos taken. This is also my plan for my birthing photos. Which may or may not end up being a great idea. More on that later.

19 days and counting until my little angel makes her debut!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ready or Not!

I finally have a mommy blog! Nerd alert! I'm so excited to share and steal some great mommy ideas with the world. First and foremost, I am creating this blog to have a beautiful written record of the good, the bad, and the wonderful that I will inevitably go through as a new mommy.

My unborn daughter, Olivia Reese, is due any day now. I hope. Ok, not really. Any WEEK now. I know I shouldn't rush her arrival and I certainly do not intend on being induced - but O.M.G. I am SO EXCITED to meet this little child!!! I am officially 37 weeks pregnant today, so Olivia, sweetheart, you can TECHNICALLY go ahead and come out and be just fine. No one will be mad. Especially your dear old mother.

First up for discussion - nursery design. I had a major meltdown when I first went shopping for Baby O. I had no idea where to go first or what to buy or what the heck any of that stuff was. {Nursing butter?! Boppy pillows?? Diaper Genie? Do I get a bumper or leave it out?? Which theme is cutest? What's safe - what's not safe? AHH!!!!} I literally sat down and cried on one of the display beds in the middle of Babies R' Us and called my mommy. True story. It's so overwhelming. And I had all of these ideas running through my head of how perfect the nursery should look - thanks to Pinterest. Let me just tell you that REAL nurseries DO NOT look like this:

If someone says, "Oh, but MINE does", they're a boldfaced liar. Ha! But I will tell you that getting the nursery to look at least somewhat like you envisioned is possible and you can do it for a reasonable price. Here are some realistic tips:

1. Take whatever your family is offering you. Families - especially GRANDPARENTS - love to spoil their unborn grandchildren. And they love to help you. So let them. As if I really needed to put this tip out there.

2. Go to Target. Target has GREAT baby furniture at a very reasonable price. Buy the crib that converts. It's just silly not to. Buy bookshelves and other furniture that can be used later, when your baby is all grown up, making more money than you and not sharing it. You'll need it then.

3. Don't buy expensive artwork that you will only use for the first few years of the baby's life. Instead, go to Etsy and buy downloadable files from artists! Then have print them for super cheap. I made my own prints since I am a graphic designer turned teacher, but lots of great graphic designers out there put their stuff on Etsy and sell them for much less than what you'd pay at an art gallery or a retail store. Here are some of the prints I did and had printed at Zazzle. I spent $8.00 on getting these printed and then $45 for the frames. That's $53 for a whole wall of art!!!

4. Don't junk up the room with all the "extras" that come with those sets. But a comforter set, but then look elsewhere for little things like books, stuffed animals, and little trinkets to jazz up the room. It's cheaper AND cuter. Here's the set I bought, along with some of my finds that didn't come with the set, but ended up working just fine:

5. Last, if you can't find anything you're looking for - DIY! I did the little yard-wrapped O for less than $10. Pinterest has a gazillion DIY crafts on there that have step-by-step instructions for creating cuteness. For this one, all you need is some scrapbook flowers, yarn, a wooden or paper mache letter, and some accent pearls or whatever you see at Hobby Lobby that looks appealing. Wrap, decorate, and done. And if you want to know how I did this - hot glue. That's all that needs to be said.

That's all for my first post. Hope you've enjoyed this first edition of "Emily Goes to Mommyland." I'm sure future posts will include boogers, poop, and fun tales of mommy failures.

I'm linking this DIY project up with: