Thursday, July 31, 2008

Minnesota Weather

One thing I've missed about Minnesota is the awe inspiring thunderstorms. Today, I'm back in Minnesota and the sky turned black at 9 a.m. It looked like it was 9 p.m. The rain fell in sheets and the wind whipped it horizontal. It was weird, so most of my family went to the basement to hideout in case a tornado hit. Bryan thought we were weird. The wind blows much harder in a Virginia hurricane. But weather is different everywhere. I explained to him that a tornado could hit anywhere, anytime without warning.

Then he understood better. But he really understood when we found out that the tops of two pine trees were stopped from hurtling into our home by two other trees planted by my grandma. (Thank you for your forsight!). And that a plane crashed near us. (Thank you, God, for protecting all our flying relatives.) Some are stranded in airports. Some had no power, water, or working sewer. But all are alive and safe.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mom's Food Flavors Breast Milk

A new study proves what breastfeeding moms have believed for years (centuries?). What a mom eats flavors the milk her child drinks. Maybe that's why Kalen drank so much--I ate a LOT of chocolate.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oops! I broke the potty!

Every time I pick Kalen up from school ("two's class!") she runs to show me how she can use the potty. This little girl in the picture always comes to torment her while Kalen's showing off her skills.

Well, Kalen was having a hard time flushing the toilet. So, not wanting to touch the handle of a germ filled two-year-old bathroom, I kicked the handle to flush the toilet. Whoosh! It flushed. Of course, Kalen started trying to kick the handle, too. I began to question the wisdom of my actions.

And then, water started overflowing the tank of the toilet (not the bowl). The teacher freaked out. She didn't know what to do. Drawing upon my water utility experience, I attempted to turn off the water valve. Oops. I turned it the wrong way. (I struggle with right and left which is why I've already started teaching Kalen. If she knows it before she has memories, maybe she won't have to think about it!).

Back to the story...water rushed out of the toilet and down the drain in the bathroom. All the two-year-olds gathered at the door. Kalen yelled, "Mommy, Mommy!" terrified that I would be harmed by the torrent of water. I lifted the lid off the toilet and saw that the float-arm had broken off. I opened the flapper-valve and drained all the water and then I turned the shut-off valve the correct way. The water stopped. The kids calmed down. And the center staff wondered how in the world this all happened.

Potty Training Progress

Several weeks ago, we started moving Kalen towards the "final" stage of potty training. She was peeing in the potty pretty much every time we took her, so I thought she was ready to completely finish up. We started taking her to the potty every 20 minutes to help her keep her diaper dry (Yes, she actually pees every 20 minutes!).

This worked well at first, but then Kalen got tired of going so often. She started to fight going and started crying. We backed off for a week. We took her more often, but not every 20 minutes. Sure, her diaper got wet, but she was once again happy to go potty.

Yesterday, an amazing thing happened! She kept her pullup dry for over 2 hours! This has never happened in the entire history of Kalen's life (slight exaggeration). She was excited and we were excited. Yeah!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Signing Time! Rachel Coleman Coming to Virginia

If you want to see Rachel Coleman live and you live near Virginia Beach, VA, now's your chance. Rachel will be doing a benefit concert on August 12 at Old Dominion Theater. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the tickets cost $10 at the door.

I haven't found any links online, but when I do, I'll let you know. Here is the online link to purchase tickets.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grinding My Own Rice Flour

Tonight, I started grinding my own rice flour. Purchasing pre-ground speciality flours for my diet is getting expensive. One 24 0z package of Bob's Red Mill Organic White Rice Flour costs $4.46. One 25 lb. bag of long grain white rice costs $12-14. That means that I could purchase 4.5 lbs of pre-ground flour for the price of one 25 lb. bag. That's significant savings.

So, I borrowed a hand mill and got started. It's hard work! No wonder people didn't have to work out to The Firm in the "olden days." If I keep this up, I am going to have beautiful arms. Turn the crank from the right angle and you can work your core, too.

Bryan stepped in and ground for awhile and then I ground some more. We ground about four cups of uncooked rice into flour. I then began the process of making rice milk. But that's a post for another day.

*Notice the cool cutting board in the picture. This is an eco-friendly cutting board made from reclaimed wood. The craftsman saves scrap lumber from the trimwork of the houses he builds. He then turns the high-quality wood into cutting boards, knife-blocks, and awesome surfboard countertops and chairs. They can be custom made to match your decor. Purchase them directly from his site, the southside woodshop, or from Green Alternatives.

**Two points for finding Franklin in the pictures.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

20% Discount and Coupon Code for Stars and Clouds Quick Zip Sheets

I love my Quick Zip Sheets from Clouds and Stars. They work great on my daughter's toddler bed now that we've taken down her crib. They stay on--even when she doesn't.

Buy now and get
Free Shipping

on all orders over $40
Use Coupon Code: ShipJuly08
Offer Expires: July 31, 2008

Biting While Breastfeeding - Advice that Didn't Work

Babies bite while breastfeeding. It just happens. So most mom's want to know, "How can I stop that horrible pain?" Of course, the only way is to stop feeding or get the baby to stop biting.

Here are three less-than-helpful pieces of advice given to a blogger at Babies Online.

  • Be sure not to giggle because your baby will think it’s a game. (WHAT? I was holding back a SCREAM.)
  • Hug your baby close so she has to let go to breathe. (You are a stronger woman than I am if you can bear the pain that long.)
  • Gently poke your finger in his mouth and prop his mouth open. (Go in BEHIND the teeth.)
Actually, the finger technique got my daughter to stop biting. But, she also stopped breastfeeding. Hmm...not exactly a win-win situation. My daughter got tired of me popping her off and simply refused to breastfeed for about a week. Then one morning she was really hungry and everything went well. Was it a permanent fix? I don’t know. I had to wean her because I needed to take medication that wasn’t recommended for use during breastfeeding.

One thing Babies Online didn't mention was to make sure your baby is latched on well. According to Breastfeeding Basics,
A baby who is latched on and nursing properly cannot bite the breast. If the nipple is positioned far back in his mouth, and his lips and gums are positioned about an inch behind the nipple on the areola, then his tongue will cover his gums, between his lower teeth and your breast. If he is actively nursing, he can't bite and if he is biting, he can't be actively nursing at the same time.
All that to say, I hope you don't have a biter. If you have any tips that really worked, let me know.

Oh, in case you are wondering, that is NOT a picture of my sweet baby.

What’s going on in the brain during breastfeeding?

I love learning about the science behind nature, so this article on the neural activity during breastfeeding intrigued me. The article discusses how oxytocin is created in super-bursts (my term) every five minutes or so during breastfeeding. Oxytocin is known as the "trust drug" because it brings a sense of closeness, bonding,

I agree, breastfeeding gives mothers a sense of well-being. I had some enjoyable times feeding my daughter in the middle of the night. Notice, I said some. I didn’t bounce out of bed with a smile every time I had to feed her. But a little snuggling and a little oxytocin left me with good memories.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

2-Year-Old Spells With Word World DVD

Kalen loves Word World. She won't even watch Signing Time now that I got her the Lucky Duck DVD. This morning she started trying to match letters with what they were spelling on the show. So, I guess it's more than simple entertainment.
I have a YouTube Playlist set up.

Or, just watch it here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Is Your Driveway Safe? - Tips for Preventing Backovers and Other Tragedies

I know, the title is very Enquirer or Evening news fearmongeringish. But I started writing and that's how it came out. But, these little tips could be helpful.

I have had a fear of running over someone for years. Probably since my beloved dog, Beckley, almost got ran over by my husband (because I accidentally let her out.) When I heard about the tragedy in Stephen Curtis Chapman's family, I started thinking more about it. It would be devestating to the entire family. As a parent, would you be able to comfort the child who survived the tragedy while grieving the one that died?

Babies Today has a good article about the issue of children being backed over in their own driveways. The article states that 90% of those injuries are caused by relatives or friends.

The article gives good tips for helping to keep your children safe. For example, don't allow your children to play in the driveway. If you do, use orange cones to block it off while their playing.

One of the reasons for the number of accidents is large vehicles with "blind zones." The Cars and Kids website has a listing of the size of "blind zones" for most cars. Look up your vehicle and consider installing a rearview camera. I found them for as little as $123 without trying to find a deal.

I just realized, my fear of backing over something started when I was 17 and ran into an electrical pole at my friends home. I smashed the wiring to her house and knocked out power. Oops! But what always bothered me was that I WAS LOOKING! But, I was wearing my glasses and the pole was in the line of vision that wasn't corrected by the glasses.

Get a Wig for your "Bald Baby's Dome"!

Baby Toupees! Hilarious! Fortunately, Kalen had a lot of hair and didn't need one of these.

Thanks to CrunchGear for posting this funny story. is one-stop shopping for bald babies. While many parents worry themselves to death that they’re going to give their children some sort of weird complex, I say to get it over with early by making your baby wear a toupee.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why I am Teaching My Children Spanish

This is an excellent blog post on the struggles parents face when teaching their child a foreign language in the United States. The perceptions of others can be difficult to deal with.

read more | digg story

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Diaper Debate: Are Disposables as Green as Cloth?

Stop feeling guilty every time you throw a diaper in the trash. This study reported by ABC News states that laundering reusable diapers has about the same negative environmental impact as disposables.Since I can barely get to the diapers out to the trash, I can't imagine getting the laundry done in time to keep the stench down.

However, reusable diapers are much cuter than disposables, and I have friends who love them...but, they are all SAHMs. Which means, they are closer to the wash machine than I am. So, if you want to give cute diapers a try, visit Diaperco to see a variety of popular styles like Fuzzi Bunz, Bum Genius, Bummis, Happy Heinys (you have to look at the cow print!), Thirsties, and more...

And, since I plugged cloth diapers, and I'm going put in a good word for my favorite disposable diapers: Pampers Swaddlers are the best at leak control and are super soft. Loved these. I was sad when I had to switch to Pampers Cruisers, but the Cruisers worked better than any other brands we tried. I've represented everybody but the diaper-free, early-toilet-training-crowd. And seriously, that could never work for a work-out-of-the-house mom like me.

Nail Polish so Quick and Easy, Even I Can Do It

I've been resistant to polishing my nails for years. First of all, I have "hobbit thumbs" which are short, stubby, and wide. I don't want to draw attention to them with polish. And I believe my stubby thumbs reduce my fine motor skills. Whether or not this is true, I may never know, but it helps me excuse my atrocious handwriting. Second, I hate how there is too much nail polish on the brush when i start, but not enough later, and I end up with ridges and blobs.

Today I discovered a product that seems to have eliminated these woes--Nicole Nic's Sticks by OPI. The polish and brush are contained in a painting stick. The polish comes out at a steady rate, and it's easy to apply without constantly dipping the brush (which is when I often smudge my nails). Nic's Sticks come in a range of colors. I chose "Are We There Yet?" because it just enough color to look nice, but not enough to draw attention to my--you guessed it--hobbit thumbs.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Keep Track of Your Favorite Blogs with a Feed Reader like Google Reader or Bloglines

I used to wonder how we lived without the Internet. Now I wonder how we survived with out RSS feeds! RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. I know, that doesn't help much, does it? Basically, it is a way to have new content from blogs and news sites sent to one place. That way, you don't have to visit each site individually. And you don't have to be disappointed if you type in the address only to find out there is no new content. In really simple terms--it's like your favorite sites "email" you new content whenever it's added. But, the "emails" are sent to a feed reader, not your email program.

So, how do you start getting RSS feeds? It's easy. Just set up a free account. I prefer Google Reader, but I also use Bloglines. (That way I keep my personal reading separate from my work reading.) Other feed readers are NetVibes, NewsGator, or MyYahoo.

Once you set up an account, just start adding your favorite blogs and websites. Look for the orange RSS feed symbol and click on that, or copy the web address into your reader. I've made it really easy for you to add Holly Tried It to your reader. Just go to the top, right-hand side of my blog where it says "Subscribe." Click on the orange icon and then click on the reader you chose. You can add my posts only, or you can subscribe to all the comments, also.

If you find that it's not as easy as I've said, write your question in the comment section of this post. I'll do my best to help you out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Red Robin Has a Food Allergy Menus

Food Allergy Buzz: A Food Allergy Friendly Restaurant Tip

Did you know Red Robin has food allergy specific menus? I had no idea, but I'll be going there soon to check it out. I did visit Red Robin before they developed the allergy-free menus, and they were very accommodating. But this is even better. Red Robin, here I come!

I need date night for different reasons than I thought!

My husband and I took a rare opportunity to go out on a date last night. We watched a movie, and then went out to eat. The restaurant was dim, and we were the only customers. There was nothing to look at but him! And it was great. I realized that I had forgotten how much I like the crinkles around his eyes when he smiles. And his cute grin. When we're at home, there's little time for just looking. There's a crazy toddler to chase, blogs to write, a house to clean, and a dog to keep from tripping over.

I can communicate with all that going on, but just looking? Can't be done without serious bodily injury to me or my dog. (Sorry, Franklin. I know it hurts when I trip over you.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How to get your spouse to help clean house

This article is an excerpt from Jeff Bredenberg's How to Cheat at Cleaning. It has great ideas for splitting up chores, including ways to motivate a spouse who still won't help out. For example, leave all the chores that affect them to last. Don't wash their clothes until you've accomplished everything else. Or, hire the help you need and remind your spouse that you asked for their assistance. If you still want to try to do it all yourself, read Jeff's book. It has great time-saving tips. For example, did you know you don't need to make your bed in the morning? Pulling the covers up traps moisture in the bed and is the same as tucking little dust mites into a cozy bed. Instead, make survival more difficult for the critters by pulling the covers back and letting the sheets air out.Hmmm..I wonder what Jeff would think of my childhood strategy of sleeping in a sleeping bag so I wouldn't have to change my sheets. I saved lots of time because I never washed the sleeping bag!

read more | digg story

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Miracle Blanket Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the free Miracle Blanket contest that ended tonight. The winners, chosen by random, are Erin and Rebecca R.

Please email me your mailing info and the gender of the child you plan to give the blanket to by July 11.

Thank you to Spot4Tots for supplying the blankets and many nights of good sleep.

If you want to purchase the Miracle Blanket, visit Spot4Tots and enter coupon code "holly" at the checkout. You'll get 10% off and free shipping.

Potty Training Using Baby Signs

We're picking up speed with Kalen's potty training. She's been on board the "Potty Train" for several months now, but she just recently moved to a class at daycare that will allow her to potty train. They are amazed at how well she's doing.

Now that I've mostly recovered from surgery, we are on focusing on finishing up Kalen's potty training. We've started setting the timer, and every 20 minutes we check to see if she's dry. If her diaper's clean she gets a piece of candy. We then put her on the toilet. If she does her business, she gets another piece of candy. Every twenty minutes seems like a lot, but it's really not. If she's dry at the 20 minute mark and doesn't go potty, she'll be wet within a couple minutes.

All the candy seems like a lot, too, but it helps motivate her to sit on the potty. Because every twenty minutes feels like a lot to a toddler! To her, we're constantly interrupting her play for something less exciting. After all, she's been going in the potty for about a year (at 12 months she told us she wanted to go potty with sign language). The toilet just isn't that exciting anymore! And it's definitely not as exciting as the mini-toilets at daycare. (No daycare doesn't have the cute decorated one above, but they should!)

Oh, that reminded me of another thing that's nice about working full-time: I get a break from potty-training while she's at school and she gets the reinforcement from other adults and her peers.

If you're looking for other moms who started potty training early read Wild Rides or join the Baby Signs Potty Training Yahoo Group.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Where are the Red, White, and Blue on the 4th of July?

Today we celebrated the 4th of July, but we never said USA, America, freedom, independence, England, soldiers, declaration of independence, etc. We did say "Fireworks!" and "Party!" over and over, again.

I realized that my husband and I do very little to incorporate the actual meaning of holiday's into our celebrations. I would like to change that (but I don't want to start to dress my daughter to match the day. She has red, white, and blue outfits, but I couldn't bear to put her in them.)

Today, I could have shown Kalen the flag and told her that it was special and that we are proud of it. I'm not sure what else I could have done. What ideas do you have for incorporating the meaning of the 4th (or any other holiday) into your celebration?

Just thought of this: We could have sung "Yankee Doodle."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sign Language Book Signing Babies Can Read

I've been looking for books that my two-year-old daughter can "read" that incorporate sign language. Finally, I found Max Learns Sign Language. The illustrations show the characters signing words from the text. If I pause, my daughter will fill in the right word. It gives us both the feeling that she's reading. Fun, fun, fun!

Another plus, this book uses American Sign Language signs. Do you know of any other texts that use ASL?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Finding a safe sleep surface for baby

This is the first I have seen someone specifically address safety considerations in bassinets. I think that's great. When my daughter was young I really struggled to know what to do to keep her safest. A used crib could have structural weaknesses from age (even if it meets all the other safety requirements). But new cribs are made with cheaper materials and are subject to recalls. With a used crib, you know if it's had a recall or not. And then you throw in co-sleeping....that scares me. There are so many other factors to consider. How do you keep your bedding away from the baby's face? How do you ensure the baby doesn't scoot to the top or side of the bed and fall off or get trapped somewhere.I'm so glad I don't have to think about this stuff anymore!

read more | digg story

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How to fold a fitted sheet

Since childhood (when my mom paid me $3 to do laundry), I have been plagued with the very real problem--How do you fold a fitted sheet? Real Simple has posted step by step instructions with photos. After looking through them, I decided I like my method better.

Fold the sheet up as best you can with very little effort. Then, store a matched set of bottom sheet, top sheet and pillow cases inside one matching pillow case. When you change your sheets, pull the pillow case set out and all your pieces are together. And no one will care that the fitted sheet was folded properly. (I believe this is my version of one of Martha Stewart's tips.)