Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Giveaway!

I know most of you are past the wedding planning stage, but you might still have friends/family members/colleagues/neighbors going through it.

You're welcome to enter two separate contests to win a free copy of A Priceless Wedding: Crafting a Meaningful, Memorable, and Affordable Celebration (and definitely feel free to send your partner/friends/family/neighbors/colleagues over to increase your odds of winning)!

The first contest is over at Goodreads, and the second one is via Craftside.

Good luck to you and yours!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Priceless Wedding by Sara Cotner

A Priceless Wedding

by Sara Cotner

Giveaway ends February 07, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baby Registry Revisited

I got an e-mail from a former Purposeful Conception kindred spirit (she's due a couple weeks after I am!), asking for my thoughts about the items on our original baby registry. Would we still want all those same things now that we have the benefit of knowledge and experience? What would we do differently? What do we wish we had put on there? What items did we never actually use (if any)?

I have to preface this post by pointing out that every "Must Have" baby item list I've ever read (even from bloggers whom I turn to every day for other advice and insight) has never even come close to my own list. I think it's simply that what we need, want, and the kinds of babies we have vary so much from person to person. 

With that said, I still think it's worth going through this exercise, as long as I explain my thinking behind my preferences. That way, you can see if my rationale resonates with you on any of these things.

Also, keep in mind that most of this stuff can be purchased used. All of these items are personal preference; none of them is absolutely critical. My strategy was to try and think of everything we would need until Christmas. Then, at Christmas, I try to think of everything we'll need until the next birthday. Then, at his birthday, I try and think of everything he'll need until Christmas. It means we may have to store things in the closet for a while, but it helps us save money.

So, here we go (in no particular order):

Items I'm so glad we received (or purchased):
  • American Baby Company Organic Waterproof Quilted Crib Mattress Pad Cover These are like fitted sheets that protect the mattress from urine and poop. Buying organic mattress covers made me feel better about purchasing Henry's mattress from IKEA. I was so glad to have two of these, so if we need to change it in the middle of the night, we can take it off and put the next one on without worrying about washing it right away.
  • Global Babies/Bebes del mundo (Global Fund for Children) In my experience, babies love looking at pictures of other babies. I love this book for its global perspective. We still read this book to Henry and he's almost two.
  • Black & White  This book is great because you can set it up accordion style on the floor and set your baby down for stomach time in front of it. In the grand scheme of things, you don't get much use out of it because this developmental time period is so short, but it's invaluable for that stomach time phase.
  • Baby Faces Board Book #02: Smile!  See explanation about baby faces above. We still read this to Henry.
  • BearView Infant Mirror Tan Bear This is one of those contraptions that allows you to see your child when they are in a rear-facing carseat. We just flipped Henry's carseats forward facing because the most recent recommendation is to keep them rear-facing as long as possible. These mirrors were super helpful. We had one for each car.
  • Graco SnugRide 35/32 Infant Car Seat Base,Tan We bought an extra carseat base, so that we could snap the carseat in and out of both cars. Having two really allowed Matt and me to distribute Henry responsibilities with ease. I'm so glad we went this route. Once you get a base installed, you should have it professionally verified (places like fire departments and hospitals can do this for free), so you don't really want to move it around after that.
  • Graco SnugRide 32 Infant Car Seat, Rittenhouse We opted for a bigger infant carseat than most of our friends, which meant that we got to use it a little longer. The downside is that it's heavier to carry, but we honestly didn't keep Henry in his carseat very much. Even if he was sleeping, we would take him out and put him into the Moby or Ergo because he would sleep much better in one of those than the carseat. Again, this varies a lot from baby to baby.     
  • bumGenius Diaper Sprayer  We didn't use this much during the breastmilk phase (even though we should have to keep waste out of the water system), but we use it constantly now.
  • Stokke Tripp Trapp Highchair, Cherry We love this high chair. We never bought the special infant adapter harness thing (because many of the reviews said it was too tight for a lot of kids), and I'm glad we didn't. We never needed it.
  • Lansinoh HPA Lanolin 1.41 oz   Definitely needed this stuff constantly in the first several months of breastfeeding!
  • My Brest Friend Deluxe Pillow, Light Green We opted for the My Brest Friend instead of the Boppy because it snaps around your back (I found that the the Boppy slid forward too much). It's very much personal preference, though. I recommend trying them out for yourself.
  • My Brest Friend Slipcover, Leaf Having a second cover was absolutely necessary because of vomit, etc. Like mattress covers and sheets, having a second one on hand allows you to change it out right away and delay washing, if necessary.
  • Moby Wrap Moderns 100% Cotton Baby Carrier, Slate I love, love, love the Moby. I had to watch the internet tutorial several times to learn how to put it on, but I love it. We used it all the time to carry around Henry when he was really young.
  • ERGO Baby Carrier - Performance Grey I also loved the Ergo. Having two kinds of carriers gave us options in those "dark days." We really did fluctuate between the both of them. 
  • ERGObaby Organic Heart2Heart Infant Insert, Silver I'm glad we had this, but I recommend trying to borrow it from a friend because you don't use it for very long. The most helpful piece is the little pillow that helps them sit up higher when they're still really small.
  • Fold-up Baby Nail Clipper from Safety 1st Great nail clipper. Their nails grow so fast!
  • BABYBJORN Little Potty - White  I like the simplicity of this little toilet.
  • BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter For Single Strollers  Our pediatrician said not to let Henry sit in the stroller for six months, so this adapter was absolutely essential. In fact, we still have it attached so Henry can use it as a footrest.
  • BT285 Double Ring Hanging Toy Great, simple toy.
  • Wooden Natural Boars' Hair Baby Brush We rarely use this, but I still think it's helpful to have on hand.
  • bumGenius Elemental One-Size Cloth Diaper 12-pack - Diaper Packages - Cotton Babies Cloth Diaper Store I'm still really happy with our bumGenius all-in-ones. Yes, they take longer to dry and they take longer to fit a newborn, but I really like the organic cotton, and I think they will last through a second child. They are starting to get some wear and tear. We have 18 of these all together, and that's been a good.
  • BA212 Arch Toy Hanger Even though we didn't use this for very long, I appreciated having it. It allowed me to take a shower every single day when I was staying at home with a newborn. In retrospect, I might have saved money by buying the IKEA wooden arch and painting it all white to minimize its busyness.
  • DwellStudio | *NEW SKYLINE LT. BLUE FITTED CRIB SHEET - Crib Fitted Sheets - Bedding - Baby I wish we had gotten two fitted sheets for all the reasons discussed in the mattress cover section.
  • BT290 Color Snake Hanging Toy Another great, simple toy.
  • BT295 Sphere and Bell Hanging Toy Another great, simple toy.
  • BR010 Rattling Caterpiller Hanging Toy Another great, simple toy.
  • Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner - Diaper Accessories - Cotton Babies Cloth Diaper Store These pail liners have worked great for us. Again, having two is indispensable.
  • Butterfly Mobile The Montessori mobiles are expensive and you don't use them for very long, but I just haven't found anything that compares to them. They are so beautiful,  lightweight so they move with air currents, and they are designed specifically for infants on their backs (i.e., the mobile elements are flat so the child can actually see them instead of just staring at the bottom of something like on most mobiles). I think they are a hugely important part of teaching independence, focus, concentration, and tracking from the very earliest days. I'm so glad we have these.
  • Montessori Infant Bell Another great, simple toy.
  • Mother and Baby Whale MobileSee mobile description above.
  • Aden Anais Muslin Swaddle Blanket Star Bright for boysWe never swaddled Henry because it's not a Montessori practice (plus he didn't seem to like it), but these are great multi-purpose blankets anyway.
  • Edison's Day - DVDs and Videos - montessori-namt​​​​a.orgIf you are at all interested in Montessori in the home, this video is essential for understanding what the goal is. It's a documentary about a 20-month old. I have watched it many, many times.
  • Chicken and Egg Pull Toy by McCoyToys on EtsyAnother great, simple toy.

Day-to-day items that I'm glad we stocked up on:

Items we got but wouldn't necessarily ask for again:
Things I wish we had:

Items we purchased after having Henry that I would have added to our registry:
Things we didn't get and didn't need:
  • Sterling Silver Rattle and Bag This item is way too expensive for the short amount of time it's used.
  • Changing Table: We still use a folded towel on the bathroom counter and it works fine for us.
  • Rocker/Glider: Everyone in the world says we needed one of these, but I didn't want to invest in one. I felt like we wouldn't use it for very long. I did use the front porch swing for several weeks, but other than that Henry has been fine without that kind of rocking motion. If I really felt like I needed one, I would probably make one like this.
  • Dresser: We just use a baby organizer that hangs in the closet. It has two bars (one up high and one low enough for a toddler to reach) and cubbies. We keep Henry's clothes to a minimum, so one of these organizers is enough for us. 
  • Multiple Strollers: We only received and use one stroller, the BOB Revolution. I love it.
  • Swing/Bouncy Seat/Playyard/Etc.
So there you have it! Definitely let me know if you have any comments or questions. We're going to have a baby shower for Bambino #2 like we did for Henry (basically a fun party that we throw for ourselves). Instead of a bowling theme, I think we'll paint my belly to look like a beach ball and then throw the party at a swimming hole. I'm looking forward to it!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Organizational Vision

When I read this little joke over at Modern Parents, Messy Kids about how the author had completely and utterly organized her entire life, I was actually inspired to create my own list--for real, not as a joke. Regardless of whether it stems from some kind of neurosis (perhaps an intense need to control things to make up for the lack of control I felt in childhood?), I have an intense interest in and desire to completely organize our home and my life. Being in clean, bright, orderly environments palpably lifts my spirits. Being organized makes me feel lighter and freer. Ironically, the more organized I am, the more comfortable I am being spontaneous. When my center is in control, I can branch out to take more risks and shake things up on the periphery of my life.

Lists like this are not impossibly high bars that I use to judge myself and feel guilty about all the things I'm not accomplishing. Instead, penning my words on paper (er, typing them into the ether) inspires me to reach higher and do more. I'm excited to tackle the things on the list below:
  • A meal plan binder with different meals for an entire month, including shopping lists so I can grab and go each week when heading out to the grocery store (I'm giving up on seasonal plans for now, since it was hard enough coming up with 25 meals that are simple, inexpensive, healthy, and appealing to our whole family). This resource will allow us to have homemade meals five nights a week while trying to balance two full-time jobs and other side projects and goals. 
  • A spot for everything in our house. I know this key principle is the backbone of effective organization, but it's easier said than done! I also want to label where things go whenever it makes sense, so that other family members can independently help maintain the order.
  • A plan for chores each day, week, month, and year, so that we are diving our chores equitably as a family.
  • A family calendar that helps us track our common events and holidays.
  • A clean and organized entryway that has a spot for our bags, shoes, keys, mail, and charging cell phones.
  • Clutter-free countertops in the bathroom and kitchen. I want there to be a spot in the drawers or cabinets for everything to be put away.
  • A family photo album that is updated with photos at least yearly, if not monthly.
  • Well-managed e-mail inboxes that only have up to one page of messages.
  • A file system for important documents to ensure that everything is at our fingertips when we need it. P.S. This one is already halfway done
  • An ongoing donation box so we can purge things whenever we need to rather than at designated times through the year.
  • Well-organized seasonal things, like Christmas decorations and birthday-related paraphernalia. I also want to have a designated spot for future gifts (either things that I buy early in the year for birthdays or Christmas or things that I want to re-gift later).
We definitely need to start the purging and organizing process now. Doing it before we move will ensure that we don't move a lot of junk to our new house. It's crazy how quickly stuff accumulates. We completed purged and organized our old bungalow before moving to our rental house a year ago, and already we have a ton of stuff that needs to be recycled, shredded, donated, etc.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Live the Life You Imagined

I started reading last month's issue of Sunset Magazine, and I have to say that several different segments are resonating with me. 

First, there was the "From the Editor" letter about the American tendency to set resolutions focused on self-improvement. She speculates that thinking about our lives as "another task to be executed" thwarts our attempts to find true contentment. She says, "adding on yet another layer of self-improvement isn't what will make us happy." Instead, she decides to be more present in the moment and enjoy life around her. 

I am definitely guilty of living a task-oriented life. In fact, I am probably at the extreme end of the spectrum (although I have friends who are farther past me...Maia, I'm looking at you!). And my intentions for this year are all habits that I want to execute on a daily basis in a cumulative way. Reading her letter definitely gave me pause and made me eager to read the main article that she was referring to, which focuses on the "island life" of Hawaii and what makes it the "happiest state in the country."

The article itself did not disappoint. Part of it was a week-in-the-life piece about a family that moved from San Francisco to Oahu. Honestly, their life does sound idyllic. They wake up on Sunday and ask the kids what they want to do. They decide to head to the beach (which is five minutes away). At the beach, they run into the wife's brother and sister-in-law and their three kids. The kids start surfing while the mother decides to get some exercise by walking along the beach. Her brisk walked is slowed down by coming across lots of people she knows along the way.

When she returns, she sees that her kids are still playing contentedly and her close friend has brought a cooler full of lunch and beer. They are invited to join them for an impromptu lunch. 

Afterwards, they go home to put the two year-old down for a nap. In the afternoon, some friends stop by to swim in the pool and they end up staying for dinner. 

Monday after school, the mother and daughter go for a hike up a stunningly beautiful mountain. 

Wednesday, they're able to venture into nature after school again. That evening, friends stop by for swimming, outdoor dinner, music, and homework. 

As I read through the description, I found myself yearning for that kind of life. It's a life full of beautiful nature, good friends, spontaneous community, and relaxation. Those are the things I want to cultivate in my life (without having to move to Hawaii). I'm confident that we'll be able to create something close to "island life" within our little sliver of Austin. 

One of the main reasons we moved from Houston to Austin was to have more access to beautiful nature. While we don't have lush, stunning mountains and awe-inspiring beaches, we do have lakes, rivers, creeks, springs, forests, and hills within easy access. And the longer we live in Austin, the more likely we will start running into people we know when we frequent these places (it's already started happening). 

And then there's the house we're building. It's exactly the kind of place where friends can "stop by to swim in the pool" (once we can afford a pool) and "end up staying for dinner." It's got an open floor plan (kitchen with big island and four stools, large dining room table that will fit 6-10 people, living room with a large sectional couch) and fluidity between the indoors and outdoors (the living room opens out onto a large deck). We've already started meeting families in the neighborhood that we would probably enjoy spending time with. 

As a side note, I don't mean to overly romanticize the life we're building for ourselves. I'm honestly nervous about the crime in our neighborhood, the nearby half-way houses, and the registered sex offender who lives across the creek ("indecency with a child" who was 8 at the time). But living in this neighborhood will allow us to be more connected to the community where I'm trying to build a school, it will minimize our commutes so we can spend more time with our family, and it will allow our children to have nearby friends from school to play with. 

Reading the article helped affirm for me that we're on the right track toward building the kind of life we want for our family, and that my intention for this year--"Put down roots"--is exactly what will help us achieve that life. I really feel like our generation has the amazing opportunity to create the kind of lives we want for ourselves and our families. There are models everywhere of people who are giving up soul-sucking (yet prestigious) jobs and seeking out more meaningful work. I find such inspiration in people like Kelly Rae or John and Sherry or the family who moved to Oahu. We can envision the kind of lives we want for ourselves and make them happen.*

*The caveat to this statement is that I recognize how this kind of freedom is directly tied to socio-economic status (as well as other forms of privilege). It is a lot easier for someone from an upper-middle class background with a college education to take these kinds of risks. That's why I'm so passionate about quality education for all. It seems like the surest route to helping all people have more choice and options in their lives.

Photo Above: The permit from the city finally came in and construction on our house has begun! Pure craziness.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finally! A Growth Chart

It seems kind of silly to devote an entire post to discussing my search for a growth chart, but the process took enough time and went through enough iterations to seem worthy of a conversation. Perhaps all my thinking can save you some thinking if growth charts are on your horizon.

First, let me say that I'm a little sad that I waited two years to purchase a growth chart. Ideally, we would have been charting Henry's growth from the time he was standing. But we didn't. 

I'm over it. 

I started my search on Etsy and immediately fell in love with giant wooden ruler growth charts. I love that they look like authentic rules, especially because we have a vintage schoolhouse theme going on at our abode. I even pinned tutorials about how to make your own. However, the more I tried to visualize what they would actually look like on the wall, the less I started to think that a single piece of wood would look good hung on the wall. 

As I scrolled through page after page of options, a list of criteria started to form:
  1. I wanted something that wasn't childish. If the goal is to chart a child's growth from start to finish, it seems more prudent to purchase something with a more classic style that will continue to look good on the wall throughout many, many years.
  2. I wanted something that could move with us. Our hope is that we stay in the same house for a long, long time, but I don't want to count on it. I saw some awesome vinyl growth charts, but once you peel them off, they can't be re-applied.
  3. I wanted something that could be rolled up and stored when we're older. Although I think it might be awesome to keep a growth chart up on the wall long after the kids have left the nest, I imagine at some point I'll want to stow it away and pass it along to the children when they're grown.
  4. I wanted something that could double as a piece of art. As I mentioned above, we honestly have an old schoolhouse theme going on (think science lab table, maps, chalkboards, textbooks, vintage desks, etc.). We're lucky that something with 6-feet+ of measurement can actually fit into our decor.
After consulting with Matt, I settled on this canvas, vintage-inspired ruler. I chose it over this awesome canvas, vintage measuring tape because the starting point can be customized. I ordered it six inches shorter than pictured because I want it to hang above the baseboard, flush with the wall.

I have a couple different places in mind to hang it, although I obviously won't know for sure until our house is built. I'm excited that it meets all four of my criteria. Hopefully you'll see it in a Home Tour blog post in the next six months or so. Come on, City of Austin, we are eagerly awaiting that permit!

Photo courtesy of KimsSister

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Habit #2: Read Every Night Before Bed

So far, so good when it comes to my plan to introduce one new habit every week (or so). I've done a much better job with staying hydrated. I make it a habit to always have my water bottle with me, to constantly drink water whenever I'm at restaurants, and to drink a lot at dinner if I need to catch up for the rest of the day.

The next habit I want to add into the mix will be to read a little most nights before bed. I've been disappointed with how much TV I've been watching lately (on a computer via Netflix or Hulu, since we don't own a real TV). I forgive myself for wasting so much time on mindless shows because going through two first trimesters of pregnancy within a couple of months of each other (with a miscarriage in between) was pretty rough for me. I felt tired and uncomfortable and sick nearly every night. 

But now that I'm into the second trimester, I really want to get back into the habit of reading instead of watching TV.

Whenever I want to make a change in my life, I start by identifying what specific actions I'll need to take in order to make my goal a reality and what might hold me back. When it comes to reading each night, I need to be sure I have something to read on my nightstand. I know it sounds obvious, but now that we are on a tight budget and I only use the library, it takes extra work to find good books. I have to know what I want, order it from the library, and pick it up. At the start of every month when I'm setting my goals for the month, I'll be sure to order books from the library. I also think it will help to have a go-to list of what I want to read. Here are some ideas:
My first book is available on hold at the library. I'll go pick it up tomorrow!

Habits in Review
  1. Drink Enough Water
  2. Read Before Bed

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spending Time Abroad

I know I'm getting ahead of myself (my first born isn't turning two until the end of February!), but I've started dreaming about taking a year off to live abroad when our kids are around the 4th and 6th grade respectively. The idea appeals to me on so many levels: it would be fun to plan, it could bring us closer as a family, it would be an amazing learning and life-changing experience for our children, it could be an opportunity for our children to have one-on-one academic attention--the list goes on! 

Even though it feels early to be thinking about this kind of trip, it also feels like our kids will grow up in an instant and if we don't plan these kind of experiences with intention well in advance, the opportunity might pass us by. It will take a lot of planning to identify the right place to go, to save up the money we need, to take care of all the logistics back in Austin, to plan out the homeschooling piece, to position myself at work in a way that allows me to take time off, etc. 

Matt and I have started the conversation (he only wants to go for a semester; I want to go for a year; he wants to go to the south of France; I would rather go somewhere like Guatemala), but we also recognize that the children will be an integral part of the planning. I imagine we'll work together to create a matrix to compare all the options. I'd like to spend our mornings focused on academics and then spend our afternoons in various ways, including volunteering, exploring, and focusing on new independent hobbies.

So exciting!

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Reflections on the First Trimester

Phew. I sure am glad the first trimester is over. While in the middle of it, I knew it was rough. But now that I'm through it, I realize just how bad I felt. 

My prediction is that I'm pregnant with a girl. I know it's silly to try and read little signs, but with 50/50 odds, I might as well take a guess, right? 

At first I thought I was having a girl because the heart rate was on the high end of the spectrum the first two times we heard it (the third time it dropped down to the middle range, so who knows?). Henry's heart rate was always on the low end, which is part of the reason I predicted he was a boy. 

Also, I just felt sicker during the first trimester. Finally, I feel like I'm gaining weight all over instead of just a little basketball on my abdomen like Henry was of. Of course, perhaps my body looks different because a) I let myself eat way too much junk food over the holidays and b) I never got my body fully back into shape after Henry. 

But all of this speculating will come to a close on January 23rd. I'll keep you updated. 

Since we've gotten back from the holidays, I've done a much better job of embodying healthier habits. I haven't been eating many sweets at all, and I've been focusing a lot on my protein, calcium, iron, fruit, and vegetable intake. I started going to pre-natal yoga once a week. I'm still haven't trouble working walking into my routine (Henry hates being cooped up in a stroller), but I have a plan. I'm trying to coordinate walking with friends three times a week (with a stop at the playground for Henry afterwards) and a solo walk on two days a week. Having specific days and times for my exercise plan really helps me stick to it. 

Oh, I've also been going to acupuncture once a week to try and stave off the liver problems I had in my last pregnancy (along with taking nettle, milk thistle, and dandelion). The whole family started taking elderberry syrup to support our immune systems.

I know that parenting is going to be different the second time around, but I want to be as intentional as possible about those differences. When it comes to a healthy pregnancy, I want to try and replicate what I was able to maintain with Henry. I want to make time for daily naps and exercise, and I want to prioritize healthy eating. Reading back over my First Trimester Advice and Second Trimester Advice has been helpful.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Displaying Children's Artwork

Even though we still haven't started construction on our new house due to permitting delays, I've been having so much fun planning the space as much as possible. My hope is that we stay at this house for the next 10-20 years (eep!), so I'm eager to get it settled and organized. I'm not someone who likes to constantly rearrange and redecorate; I like to tinker until it's just right and then just maintain the environment while my focus shifts to other things and projects. (Well, having growing children means that the space will inevitably change in order to meet their needs, but that's different than simply changing things up for the novelty.)

One of the things I've been thinking about is how to process, store, and display our children's artwork over the years. I want to find the right balance between preserving our memories and keeping the clutter at bay. There will be five of us (including our bloodhound) living in 1,779 square feet (3 bedrooms and 2 baths) without a garage, basement, or attic. We'll have large closets in each bedroom, three linen closets spread out among the two bathrooms, a small outdoor storage area, and a coat closet. I think it will be sufficient space if we're really conscious about purging, organizing, and minimizing new purchases. 

When I was helping my best friend figure out how to hang curtains in his house, I realized that a similar set-up (either a tension wire or a thin curtain rod with clips) would provide an incredible amount of flexibility (especially when it comes to different sizes and shapes of work) and ease for displaying children's art (of course Pinterest already had several images of the same concept!). The clips could be moved from side to side to accommodate different widths, and if we hung a single rod/wire, then it could fit different lengths. The simple clips wouldn't require much fuss or effort when we wanted to switch things out. 

We could also attach a metal strip to the wall and then use magnetic clips to accomplish a similar functionality with something that was more flush with the wall. 

We'll also need to figure out what to do with the work that we rotate off the wall. I imagine we'll store it in some kind of plastic container for the whole year and then go through once a year to purge or store more permanently (maybe in binders). By the way, I love this idea from designer Jan Eleni for photographing artwork and turning it into a collage (see photo above). 

Our entryway will definitely have to have an inbox area to hold papers when they come out of the backpack. I'm excited to get it all figured out!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Organic Mattress

The search for an organic mattress begins! 

Henry's been sleeping on a crib mattress on the floor (Montessori-style) since we stopped co-sleeping around two months. Now that there's a new baby on the way (due at the end of June), it feels like a good time to upgrade him to a twin mattress on the floor. Eventually, we'll probably pair the mattress with the MALM bed from IKEA, but for now we might as well keep it as low to the ground as possible. 

It won't be much of a transition to go from a crib to a twin mattress, but we might as well implement any impending changes well before the baby comes. 

Matt and I care very much about eco-friendly and non-toxic products, but we can't always afford them. For example, our own mattress is from IKEA. And while we might end up with a non-organic mattress for Henry because of price considerations, I would love to be able to provide him with the healthiest sleeping surface possible. After all, he literally spends half his life face down on the thing! Here's an interesting article about the dangers of sleeping on chemical mattresses.

Honestly, searching for an inexpensive organic mattress is pretty daunting. There's this recommendation from Young House Love, but the twin version is $1,639. Um, cannot afford that for a child's bed!

There's a local place in Austin that offers organic options, but their price tags are faint-inducing, too.

There's something like this from Wal-Mart (I hate to promote Wal-Mart!), but it's hard to tell whether it's actually "eco" or whether they just slapped the label on it.

And all this mattress talk is making me wonder whether we should get a full-size for Henry, so that we can all read stories together before bed (parents + two kids). And will our kids share a room? If yes, will we do bunk beds (like this cheapo twin on top of a full)? If we don't do bunk beds, then we'll probably want two twin beds for space reasons.

I don't mean to turn a small molehill of a decision into a mountain; it's just that I want to have a vision for the future, so that the purchases we make now can line up with it. Otherwise, we'll end up wasting more money and having a greater environmental impact by having to replace things.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

And So the New Year Begins!

What a whirlwind vacation: a 20-hour road trip with a toddler and a bloodhound (not nearly as awful as I thought it would be!) from Austin to Tampa, a couple days with my family in Florida, a last-minute change to our flight to avoid the blizzard that descended upon Indiana, a Christmas-day flight to Matt's hometown in Bloomington, five days of snow, a trip to the pediatrician for antibiotics, two flights back to Florida along with a 2-hour car ride to get to my best friend's house on the other side of Florida, a New Year's party, a trip to the beach, a two-hour trip back to my family's hometown, and the return 20-hour road trip. 

Honestly, it sounds more stressful than it was. There were lots of naps and moments of relaxation among family. I spent time browsing Pinterest, working on the charter application for the school I'm working to start, and making plans for the new year.

I planted a lot of metaphorical seeds last year, and I'm eager to see them take root and grow in 2013. Last year's mantra--"Make Dreams Happen"--has given way to this year's focus: "Put Down Roots." If all goes well (fingers crossed!), we'll be moving into a new house/neighborhood, having a baby, and I'll be starting a school (although the school won't be open to students until the fall of 2014). 

My plan for "goals" this year is to implement a new habit each week or two. The idea is that each habit will be cumulative; each small change will be added to the previous changes and by the end of the year I will have positively impacted my life trajectory. 

So far, I have a list of about 20 things to focus on. I imagine I will add to the list as the year goes on. For this first week, I'm going to start out simply: "Drink enough water." I know that hydration is super-important for my health and wellness (and my baby's health and wellness!), but when I get too busy, I have trouble keeping it at the forefront of my mind. My goal is to drink at least 80 ounces a day (which is as simple as filling my bottle twice). 

My plan for making this small goal a new habit is to drink out of my water bottle. If I switch back and forth between glasses and my bottle, it's easy to think I've drunk more than I actually have. 

It's such a simple yet satisfying intention to start off with. I'm looking forward to it! 

I hope your holidays were full of joy and connection and I hope your new year is off to a fantastic start!

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