Friday, April 21, 2017

Rec Five: Things to put in a guest room

1) Wifi Password and contact information- Living in a digital age, the wifi password is often the first thing a guest will ask for. We have a print out that we provide and leave in the room along with other items in a tray. Also, consider including your contact information on that same sheet of paper, on the off-chance your guests don't have it and need you.

2) Towels and toiletries- These are the other items we include on a tray for the guest room. Sometimes you forget things on a trip, so a little collection of travel-sized toiletries can be a life-saver for your guest. Providing them with a towel just seems like common sense- that way no one ends up towel-less and wet in the morning!

3) Fresh Flowers- Guest rooms are typically not the most used rooms in your home, and can seem stale as a result. Flowers are living things that seem bright and welcoming.

4)  Bottle of water and snacks- Save a thirsty or hungry guest from the awkwardness of trying to hunt around your kitchen for a glass or midnight snack!

5) Universal Charger or a charging dock- After the password, a charger is the most often asked for item my guests request.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What's In My Bag

Who doesn't love the voyeuristic pleasure of peeking into another person's life (we all read blogs here, after all?) For a woman, it seems to me, one of the best ways to see her day to day life is to look into her purse. So, I'm starting a new series that allows us to get to know different women through their purses. 
For my own, I'm pretty minimalistic and actually want to buy a different purse that can house a bit more. So comment below with what purses you recommend or what yours holds!

1) Pen and mini-notebook- for those moments you need to jot down a number, or directions or a really good quote, amrite? Plus, this pen has my glasses on the side!

2) Diabetic supplies- the two black pouches are my glucose monitor and my insulin pens. And, yes, the black is the most fashionable these carriers come. I literally never am without these.

3) Lip gloss- Although, I don't actually wear it very often? I need to become a real grown-up and learn to wear make-up better.

4) My wallet- I love the bright color and its real Roman leather from a trip there. The nostalgia factor is strong, but, like my purse, this probably needs to retire

5) The purse- I love clutches because they fit the diabetic supplies but don't feel huge.Plus, this one is very tongue-in-cheek with a Hello/Goodbye embossed on it. However, managing a baby and having this dangling from y wrist is less than ideal. Share your purse shopping ideas with me, please!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ellis at 3 months

Ellis is 3 months old as of this week! He weighs 12 pounds and 3 oz.

He's still a serious, grump-prone little guy, but- dare I say it? We don't want to jinx anything!- he has outgrown his colic. Yes, there is still fussing, but it is fussing, not constant piercing wails of pain. Plus, it seemed like a light switched a week or so ago and he's so much more observant and alert! He definitely has his father's stubbornness, but he's also been very cuddly and wanting to be held a lot. He has the best smile when he chooses to show it. 

That "light switch" moment that lead to more observation and awareness is a milestone, according to the Wonder Weeks, book (any other mamas reading about Wonder Weeks?). He's also discovered how enjoyable sucking on his hands can be. He's always noticed his hands, even very early, but couldn't quite figure out their use before. Clearly, their use is being tasty.  He's also started babbling and making sounds a lot more, both vowels and some constant sounds. He's got a lot to say! 

Now that he's figured out he can suck on his hands, his fists are up by his mouth 24/7. He gets mad that he can't fit both in his mouth at the same time though! He still loves music, and watching the world with his little head popped over someone's shoulder too.  As you can see below, he merely tolerates walks in his stroller right now, but I think he'll like them more as it gets warm enough that he no longer needs a hat (hats are not his favorite!) 

This was the big challenge of the past few weeks- getting Ellis to take a bottle in preparation for going to childcare. We tried a lot of different ways to slowly ease into the situation, but nothing worked. Finally, Amos sent me away overnight, so it would be the bottle or nothing. I'm not sure quitting breastfeeding cold turkey is the best solution, but it was the only one that was working for us. 

My own feelings have been mixed; the decision to go a bottle or the breast was a tough one for us before we had our baby and every argument on either side has proven to be true. I did love the bonding breastfeeding provided Ellis and I, as well as the health benefits and even the convenience of it. However, I am really happy we made the switch to the bottle too. It has changed my and Ellis' relationship a bit, mostly because his Daddy was the primary food-giver for a few days; I definitely felt a bit second fiddle there! We now can both successfully feed him, (and so can our childcare providers) and that second fiddle feeling has gone away. It has been really special to see how it let Amos experience that closeness too. Most importantly though, we switched to a formula on the recommendation of our doctor and it seems to have really helped Ellis' upset stomach issues that were at the root of his colic. Less pain and a more cheerful baby, for the win! I know that bottle versus breastfeeding and mother's milk versus formula brings out a lot of really strong opinions, but, for us, this seems to be what works best for our family and our baby's health. 

We had a really good rhythm, where he went down at fairly predictable times and ate a predictable times throughout the night.... and then, bottle feeding happened. Parenting advice books seem to all say that once you get things down, something will come along to change up the schedule, and that certainly seems true. So, we are tired and all over the place on sleep, but that's okay. In fact it will likely continue because.... 

I am back at work today! That's right- maternity leave has come to an end. I've mixed feelings about it.  I love the creativity and stimulation; I love seeing people at work. However, I love my boy. But, as the daughter of a working mom, I know that really, childcare is just a chance for more people to love Ellis. The woman who babysat me since I was 3 weeks old came to meet Ellis while we were still in the hospital. Those are some pretty great bonds. We'll see if it is the right fit for us, and there will be some adjusting on all sides, but my own experiences with childcare were pretty positive, so I'm hopeful it will work. 

Doesn't stop me from missing him like crazy though. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Film Flick: A Night at the Opera

I'd never had A Night at the Opera- or any other night with the Marx Brothers- before now. Considered one of the most enduring and unique set of voices to movie comedy (or lack of voice in Harpo's case), the Marx Brothers are something unlike anything I'd ever seen before.  And despite the fact that A Night at the Opera was not the Marx Brothers first film, it was still  unlike anything movie-going audiences of time had seen before either.

A Night at the Opera was the brothers' first movie at a new studio, MGM, and it was also the first picture to feature only three of the brothers, rather than four. Due to these changes, A Night at the Opera would develop what would become the basis of all their following movies. When they had filmed previously at Paramount Studios, the plots to their movies were barely existent, and all who crossed paths with the brothers were sure to fall victim to their aggressive brand of comedy. However, MGM producer, Irving Thalberg insisted on a more coherent plot. He also sought to make the brothers more sympathetic to audiences, so, while the brothers' trademark chaos was still very much the center of the picture, that chaos was only unleashed on deserving bad guys. Instead, Groucho, Chico, and Harpo's characters would seek to aid the heroes of the story. Thalberg felt this way, they could get "twice the box office with half the laughs."

Still, Thalberg was taking no chances on what was comedic in A Night at the Opera. The film
underwent multiple rewrites with multiple scriptwriters. The first two were so bad all that remained of their work in the final film was two characters' names! Another scriptwriter was better, but got so fed up with the producer and brothers' constant hounding that, when they went to meet about the final script, they found the writer had left the building, leaving behind only a torn up script. According to Groucho's memoirs through, they were pleased with the work once they'd be able to piece it back together! 

Beyond just establishing the script, Thalberg also insisted that the Marx Brothers take the comic routines that would be used in the film to the vaudeville circuit to be tested before live audiences. Unless something got uproarious laughter, it was reworked or cut from the film. After the filming was completed, there was again extensive audience testing, and recutting of the film in order to make sure the pacing was perfect.

It is satire on a grand scale. The movie lampoons high society and Opera culture, while at the same time celebrating its beautiful music with multiple songs throughout. Obstinately, A Night at the Opera is about two young opera singers who are in love, and about a wealthy dowager bankrolling an New York opera production. While Groucho's character, Otis B. Driftwood, attempts to romance the dowager, played in the most elegant manner possible by Margret Dunmont, the audience is introduced to Harpo and Chico's characters when they stumble upon the young couple in trouble!  One is going to New York to sing, so, with help from the Marx Brothers, the intrepid hero sneaks on board the steam ship carrying everyone to America. Zany misadventures happen and their presence is revealed. Even more hijinks result as they attempt to evade justice and deportation. People are fired from the opera, and desperate measures are taken to ensure a happy ending. Nearly all following films would be modeled after this same formula:a friendship is established between the romantic couple and Chico, Harpo's character is always displayed as sympathetic,  the comedy happens amidst elaborate surroundings, and there is a fall from grace followed by grand scale chaos where everything is righted. The three brother's characters were also further refined and defined. Groucho- known for stinging one-liners- makes more sense. Chico's character gained a bit more intelligence to be able to have verbal tennis with his brother. Harpo's persona here- and in subsequent movies- take on more child-like behaviors (except when pursuing the ladies, that is!) 

Though some Marx Brother fans were not well pleased with the changes that came with MGM producing, the film never comes off as overwrought. Instead, it was a success, and one of Groucho's two favorite films they ever made (the other was A Day at the Races, also an MGM production). And there is good reason for it being a favorite with such moments as the famous stateroom scene (interestingly, this scene was nearly cut, and the version we see on the screen was a last minute ad-lib). In fact, A Night at the Opera is so popular that it placed at number 87 in the American Film Institute's revised list of Top 100 American Films. With that for a recommendation, don't you want to experience A Night at the Opera too?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Motherhood Musings: Diabetes and Pregnancy

I've written this post over several times. Each time it's scrapped because- well, it is a personal journey and it gets too easy to get bogged down in medical explanations and background knowledge. The thing of it is, is I have diabetes (You can read more here and here, if interested). Type 1, to be more exact, sometimes called Juvenile Diabetes though I contracted the disease as an adult. And the thing about diabetes is it makes everything more complicated. Including- and this should surprise no one- pregnancy. Pregnancy is already pretty complicated, despite the way movies on TV portray it, but, yeah, the disease instantly put me and our pregnancy into the "High Risk" category of pregnancies and that's what I wanted to talk about today.

Because you can't escape medical jargon completely when talking about diseases, here's what you need to know about Type 1 Diabetes. Your body makes this thing called insulin; it breaks down your food into a form of sugar or energy called glucose. This happens pretty instantaneously and you don't ever have to think about it. Anyone who is otherwise healthy who says they have low or high blood sugar levels (called hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia respectively) probably  (thankfully) has only the mildest forms of that, and their body can correct it typically pretty quickly. With Type 1 Diabetes, the body has stopped making insulin. So, we can eat food, but our body can't process it. We can literally starve to death, even while eating. Also- our blood sugar levels will soar really high. There is no cure for this disease, but it can be managed through medicinal insulin. It isn't as fast or as effective as the insulin made by the body, and it requires a lot of thought to manage, but it can help us. There is a danger that one can take too much insulin and get low blood sugar (low enough and it too can cause death). All of this is hard on the body, so there are a plethora of side effects.

Now, add pregnancy to the mix. That's when things get real interesting.

Needless to say, all this gets complicated. What it comes down to is management. I found out I was pregnant really early on (5 weeks, actually), and we were able to get in touch with doctors right away to get things locked down. Our regular doctor put us in touch with a specialist- A Maternal and Fetal Medicine doctor- who was in the nearest city to us. I also saw a diabetes educator who specialized in managing diabetes in pregnancies.

What they told us were the type of things that no soon-to-be-parents want to hear. The baby was at a higher risk for things like heart complications and spinal abnormalities. The baby's weight would also be a potential risk factor (because they get food from the mama, and it could have too much or not enough glucose in it. Meaning, the baby could grow too big too fast or alternatively be too small). After birth, the baby would also be at risk for several things immediately, the biggest of which was being at risk for hypoglycemia, because their bodies were producing enough insulin to deal with a high amount of glucose, but once the umbilical cord was cut, their bodies wouldn't be getting that much glucose and it could cause low blood sugar! Additionally, there were a lot of risks to me, mostly a heightened chance of getting preeclampsia, but we also found out my regular doctor had been mismanaging my diabetes, so my blood sugar levels were not where they ideally needed to be as a pregnant lady! Yikes!  Luckily, we had a great team of people. I saw them maybe twice a month throughout the first trimester and some of the second trimester. (Actually, frequent doctor visits will be a theme of this journey).

Being pregnant additionally had the strange effect of changing my sensitivity to insulin. Throughout the first trimester, even the smallest walk could sent my blood sugars plummeting, and I only needed a slight bit of medicine to process what I ate. As things continued, I became less and less sensitive and by the third trimester, was taking a unit of insulin for every 8 gms of carbs (this is roughly 4x the normal amount I would need to take!) Between the sensitivity and getting on different types of insulin though, my health was in the best place it had been since contracting the disease!

For us, the focus was really on the baby's health. We waited and didn't get the regular ultrasound at 20 weeks, because at 22 weeks, they needed an in-depth health screening that included both an ultrasound and a heart echo. This meant an hour and a half process first thing in the morning. We'd come up to Billings the night before, but I spent much of the night awake in the hotel, trying not to disturb my husband; I was that nervous about it. Once it became clear there weren't problems in the ultrasound, I had trouble keeping my eyes open, I was that tired!

Turns out, this would be one of many, many ultrasounds. Doctor visits for ultrasounds and stress tests increased until, for the last two months, I was in the doctor's office twice a week! I could have practically hooked myself up to the machine!

We had always planned on inducing at 38 weeks, on the assumption that the baby would be bigger (and that I was small). However, with the help of all these professionals, my pregnancy had seemed very much like a healthy person's, so our OBGYN was in favor of waiting until labor happened naturally. I'll be honest- I was very uncertain about this plan as our son had a HUGE head according to the ultrasounds (he still does) . As it turned out, what happened was what neither I nor the doctor expected. I did get some signs of preeclampsia and that necessitated the induction at 39 weeks.

I covered some of what happened during labor in Ellis Jerome's Birth Story, so won't retread that. However, I did want to touch on diabetes postpartum. First, it was really strange to go from so much medical support to almost none. I saw the OBGYN a few more times and that's it. I had to figure out how to manage insulin for a body that was flooding with hormones and whose insulin sensitivity was fluctuating wildly. Obviously, I know my body better than anyone, but it was a big change! Second was how the disease affected my body physically in postpartum. You see, I am one of those people who the weight just fell off of. And, yeah, I totally get how that could seem annoying to others who have had kids. Yet, this too was a result from the disease. Remember that part about starving up at the top? Well, what happens is, if your body can't process the food you are eating to make energy, it converts the fat. Since how much insulin I needed was changing so much, sometimes I missed the mark and my body couldn't get energy from what I ate, so it took it from the body fat. Silver linings, I guess, but trust me (since yes, someone once said they were jealous of this), I'd rather be healthy.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Dog Eared Page: Wind in the Willows

This was a wonderful thing, indeed, that the Badger should pay a formal call on them, or indeed on anybody. He generally had to be caught, if you wanted him badly, as he slipped quietly along a hedgerow of an early morning or a late evening, or else hunted up in his own house in the middle of the Wood, which was a serious undertaking.

The Badger strode heavily into the room, and stood looking at the two animals with an expression full of seriousness. The Rat let his egg-spoon fall on the table-cloth, and sat open-mouthed.
`The hour has come!' said the Badger at last with great solemnity.

`What hour?' asked the Rat uneasily, glancing at the clock on the mantelpiece.

`WHOSE hour, you should rather say,' replied the Badger. `Why, Toad's hour! The hour of Toad! I said I would take him in hand as soon as the winter was well over, and I'm going to take him in hand to-day!'

`Toad's hour, of course!' cried the Mole delightedly. `Hooray! I remember now! WE'LL teach him to be a sensible Toad!"
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Monday, April 3, 2017

Motherhood Musings: Easter Basket for a Baby

1. Books | 2. Clothes | 3.  Bunnies  | 4. Blocks

It's our baby's first Easter! Truthfully, Ellis wouldn't know or care whether he got a basket from the Easter Bunny or not, but it feels fun for our growing family to build these traditions just the same. Since very young babies (Ellis will be close to 3 months by Easter), are limited in what they can play with, I chose to pick less items, even if they cost a bit more. Books, clothes and useful toys were the order of the day! 

1. Books - Pat the Bunny is a delightful classic and perfect for even very young babies. The book is touch-and-feel, so it helps babies learn by activating their senses.  The simple illustrations make it easier for newborn eyes to be able to focus on the pictures. Guess How Much I Love You is another classic book. It has more sophisticated illustrations, but it has a nicely predicative set of words that will engage young children. 

2. Clothes- An adorable bunny ear hat and diaper cover may not be the most practical of items, but babies are this small for such a short amount of time! Use these as costumes for a photo you'll love forever. If you want more practical options, why not get an Outfit for Easter Sunday at Church, like this smart faux-vest outfit? A third choice is  a onesie, something you would probably get the most use out of. This one with Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit gives a fun nod to the holiday whilst still being something you can wear in the months ahead (till that next growth spurt, anyway!) 

3.  Bunnies - A stuffed bunny in an Easter Basket seems like a must, doesn't it? Yet, babies in their first year don't actually play much with toys, so are they worth getting? Though these two options are slightly pricier than a stuffy you might find in the Target dollar section, I'd contend they are worth it! The Wobble Bunny is great for kids in their third month on, as they beginning to develop the motor skills to grasp things and to reach for things. Even younger babies might enjoy the sensation of pushing the Wobble Bunny as they experiment with moving arms and legs.  This Blanket Bunny is another useful toy with fabrics of different texture and knots and "tags." These all have different sensations as baby touches. Plus it is easy to clear and you could even use it as a burp cloth if you needed (hey- no judgement. Sometimes things happen!)

4. Blocks- Peter Rabbit wooden blocks. Okay, my 3 mo. old won't be playing with these on this own anytime soon, but they make great decor in the meantime. The illustrations from classic literature also reinforces the importance of literacy. Being in a "literature rich" environment is key to kid's oral and written language development. You could probably make these with some decoupage, but if you don't have the time or inclination, why not purchase them at Etsy? 

Friday, March 31, 2017

In April, Why Don't You....

Get your taxes done

Visit a makerspace

Make National Secretary's Day special

Take pictures of baby being washed in Grandma's sink

Have your carpets professionally washed

Have High Tea with a friend

Change all your passwords

Build a robot

Wear red shoes

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 2016 in Review

New Plans
March was Women's History Month, so in honor of that, several of the month's posts were dedicated to celebrating women, including Links for International Women's Day; Rec Five: Females Leads in Kids' Books; and this month's Dog Eared Page.  And, since I am a woman who's recently entered a new phase of life, I started a new series called Motherhood Musings. Don't worry; this isn't becoming a mommy blog (though, yes, I realize the clothing posts have been light on the ground recently). This series will post every Monday and could cover a wide variety of topics; the only connection is they are somehow about Motherhood. This month's Motherhood Musings included: Breastfeeding Baskets; Babies + Dogs; and Ellis at Two Months. Don't worry about things changing too much though; my two movie post series are still going strong. Both this month's Film Flick and Cinema Style are about the Becall and Peck film Designing Woman.  I also got to share things you could do this month, and things you can do in 15 minutes or less. 

New Finds

Last Native Speaker Creates Dictionary

My Life Right Now

A Good Reminder

Iceland Makes Companies Prove Equal Pay! 

How Finland Teaches Coding

50 Reasons Why to Make Streets More Walkable- A mind blowing read!

A dreamy dress and photoshoot

How to Snore in Other Languages

Modern Life Art

I've loved the Finnish Baby Box program- and now it is in the US! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ellis At Two Months

Ellis is 2 months old! He's 23" ; that's 3" in 60 days! He weighed in at 11 pounds and 4 oz. at this last doctor's appointment (he got shots! Ouch!) 

Hey Mom-readers (and not-Mom Readers)! How are you doing? Are you like me, tired of everyone telling you about how their baby never cries, sleeps a solid nine hours and can go on vacation to France with nary a hiccup?  Don't worry. I'm not here to tell you that.  I am here to tell you, it is okay if your baby- or any baby- isn't the next incarnation of Buddha; that he doesn't sleep through the night at two weeks; heck, can't handle a trip to the grocery store. You are still good parents and nothing is incurable about your kid. 

Colic, we've discovered is a real thing. So, yeah, you've guessed it, there's a lot of crying and whimpering at our house. Our little Ellis' colic seems to stem from a digestive system that is still getting the hang of things. He's also pretty "high maintenance"  in that he knows what he likes and wants and isn't afraid to tell you about it. However, he is quick to find things funny, and he is so, so alert and incredibly curious. He has been since day one. He wants to be up where he can see things and on the move. When he's not having stomach pains, we've seen lots of smiles; I suspect a pretty funny guy is underneath all the tummy aches.


Our little dude has a seriously strong neck. He can hold it up on his own for quite a few minutes. He also showing a lot of real, or "social" smiles. Mommy and baby both find it hilarious when Ellis manages to imitate her by sticking out tongues at each other too. He's starting to make some cooing sounds and will sometimes grip things (mostly my hair).  

This guy loves his jams. He's a big Beatles fan; his favorite lullaby is "In My Life."  He loves to dance around the room, and, if that isn't possible, will try to move his arms to a beat (So Grandpa says, anyway!)  Ellis demands to be in the thick of things, and always wants to be carried so that he can see what is happening. It has to be walking about too; there is too much to see to stay in one place! Which is just like his daddy was as a baby, according to my mother-in-law. What is that saying about apples and trees? He is pretty friendly and content right now with other people. He wasn't sure of my dad's beard even a few weeks ago, but now seems to find it fascinating! Bath time is now tolerable but tummy time still is not.


We have been breastfeeding, but the doctor recommended trying formula to help with his stomach. He was taking a bottle up until he reached one month and has refused to since. This past weekend was when we started the hard switch to bottles. Wish us luck! 

Ellis sleeps in his crib now, swaddled. He's not a big fan of being swaddled, but it helps him immensely once he is asleep. Otherwise he will startle awake. His longest stretch of sleeping is usually about four and half hours, right after he is put down for the night. He typically has been fed 2-3 times at night; we shall see how night feeding with a bottle works out! 

As I shared in Ellis' birth story, the labor was really rough on my body. In all honesty, the postpartum recovery was harder than the pregnancy on me physically. I finally feel mostly recovered and have lost all pregnancy weight (more on both of these topics in the coming weeks). Right now though, I'm dealing with insomnia (any tips, new moms?) and migraine headaches. This too shall pass, though, right?

What is upmost on my mind right now, though, is going back to work. My maternity leave ends this week! Things have been a bit stressful about work this year, as there are a lot of upheavals and budget cuts, but  I am excited to see my students again. Ellis will be going to childcare; who will this been harder on (pretty sure it will be me!) I feel so blessed to have had the time off for maternity leave, to get to know this amazing, tiny person and have the time heal. Wish us luck as we enter into these new journeys and Ellis' third month.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rec Five: Children's Books with Strong Female Characters

Madeline- "They left the house at half past nine/ In two straight lines in rain or shine- /The smallest one was Madeline.” Nearly everyone will find, if they try, that they are able to recite these first few lines of the Madeline books. What makes Madeline so remarkable though isn't her enduring popularity, but that even though she is the smallest, she is still the bravest, saying "pooh pooh" to tigers at the zoo. She is kind, taking in stray dogs and stopping bullies, and a perfect example of what we want as a role model for girls and boys alike.

Oz books - Some people are surprised that that is more than one book about the magical land of Oz, but let me tell you something even more better- all the rest are far, far superior to the first. Part of that is the role that girls and women play in all of the books. L. Frank Baum was himself a suffragist, and purposely made his protagonists girls. Strong, and powerful women were sources of wisdom in his stories; girl rulers were nobel and kind; Dorothy- and other heroine's modeled after her- were plucky and had common sense. In one book even, two armies faced off and all the members of either side were girls! He did this because he felt it was important for women to be represented in literature, and tried to do just that when creating his "American Fairytales."

The Betsy-Tacy series - Another series that deserves far greater recognition than it gets, these books show the daily life of a two girls living in the early 1900s. Though technically fiction, the author, Maud Hart Lovelace, draws quite heavily from her own life to the point where it might be more accurate to say they are fictionalized memoirs. The first book starts when Betsy is five and future novels take her through childhood, high school, and eventually college, marriage and the world beyond. As she ages, the writing becomes more complex, allowing the reader to grow with the series. What I love most about these books is that all the women are individuals (since they are based on real people that is hardly surprising) with complex inner lives, and nearly all of them pursue jobs and dreams outside of the home, with the support of their families.

Eight Cousins and A Rose in Bloom- Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and its sequels are perhaps better known, but I love these two books. In real life Alcott was a feminist; she and her family had been part of the transcendentalist movement. Both of these facts put her in the same social circles as the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The characters in the books likewise espouse many of the same values and even quote some of her friends' works. Yet, it never comes across as preachy. Instead, Rose, other female characters, and the male characters are equally encouraged to make something of themselves, to have a purpose beyond that of leisure and family. Again, these are messages that I find very encouraging to young readers.

Emily of New Moon-  The whole world love's  Lucy Maud Montgomery creation, Anne of Green Gables. This book series is somewhat in the same vein, but here Montgomery draws more closely from her own childhood and young adult experiences as she chronicles the daily life of Emily. Like Montgomery did, Emily longs to be an author, a dream that sometimes put her at odds with society's expectations of women. Emily also deals with deep emotions as she and her friends struggle to find their right paths, a theme that I feel will resonate with readers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Motherhood Musings: Breastfeeding Basket

I was not a breastfed baby.  So, despite the omnipresence of breastfeeding on any pregnancy forum, it was also not something I had strongly considered.... until my husband brought up that he felt it was important to breastfeed a baby. Please note:this is a hot-button topic to many, but each person has their own reasons for caring for their child as they do, so please refrain from negative commentary on people's choices). Oh, the debates that were had! Questions of health benefits, bonding experiences for both parents, convenience, money, and time all were rehashed. Doctors reassured me that either choice was a good choice- bottle or breastfed, what was important was that the baby was fed. Still, for a variety of reasons, I did in the end, choose to breastfeed. And by the end, I mean, we'd come to that decision only the last three weeks of the pregnancy. Not exactly a plethora of time to read up and find out the right way to do anything. Luckily, I and Ellis took to things easily enough.

Now, as my maternity leave draws to a close at the end of this month, we are switching to bottle and formula (once again, for a variety of reasons unique to our situations, so no commentary on that, please). We can only hope he takes to it as easily.  But before then, I wanted to share with you one tool I found particularly helpful: The breastfeeding basket.

1. Board Books | 2. Diabetic Supplies | 3. Nursing Pads | 4. Notebook | 5. Kleenex | 6. Lotion and Chapstick | 7. Nose bulb | 8. Drink | 9. Extra Burp Cloth. 

1. Board Books - It is never too early to start reading to your child. At this stage though, they can't see much, so don't get too hung up on things. We use about three books in regular rotation. All are simple with high contrast pictures to make it easier for the baby to see. 

2. Diabetic Supplies - Breastfeeding helps me regulate my blood sugar levels, but, since breastfeeding also takes a lot of energy, it is important to have my diabetic supplies close at hand to check on things and react, if needed. 

3. Nursing Pads - Your body is amazing. It is also a bit gross and things can leak. These can help keep your clothes looking great. 

4. Notebook - This can help you remember all those little things, like recording when your baby slept, or sweet moments, like when the baby first smiled. 

5. Kleenex - Your immune system is lower right after giving birth. Be prepared. 

6. Lotion and Chapstick - It is easy to become dehydrated breastfeeding, which can lead to dry skin. Stay ahead of the game here. 

7. Nose bulb - It could be used to clean out baby noses, but we used to to help suck out spit-up. Use for one or the other. Not both because- ew. 

8. Drink - As we said, it is easy to become dehydrated breastfeeding. This nifty straw and cup came from the hospital. It is nicer than a sports bottle because I don't have to lift it up and yet it doesn't spill. 

9. Extra Burp Cloth- babies spit up. Have an extra on hand, so you don't ruin your clothes. 

Not pictured but still important: 

Snacks- I had both a low-carb snack and a snack I could eat if I was becoming hypoglycemic. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and quickly changing blood sugar levels are possible. Even if you are not diabetic though, it is good to have snacks as you need to replenish your own energy levels. 

Wallet and Phone- A phone provides communication and entertainment. Especially in the early days, you maybe physically be up to moving around much, so having the world at your finger tips is helpful. Likewise, your wallet has mony, credit cards and your health insurance card. As you get all the paperwork for your baby finished (like, say, ordering birth certificates!), you want these in easy reach. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cinema Style: Designing Woman

Designing Woman may be a repackaged version of Woman of the Year... but the plot is besides the point. It is really a film all about the clothes, something Gregory Peck's character comes to understand when the wife he's known all of three days discards her casual wear for, well, this ensemble. As the film's costume designer put it, Lauren Becall had a body made to wear clothes, and that is put to advantage in a number of pencil skirted dresses. A conservative neckline keeps things classy, and the accessories do the rest. Pearl earrings, mink stole and a structured bag complete the look. You have to pretty confident in your style to pull off red-on-red monochromatic look like Becall does here. With confidence as the main accessory, everything else is kept pretty minimal with only a subtle watch added to the ensemble. The focus in on the color. Another wiggle dress is seen, and a swing coat with three quarter sleeves adds enough drama on its own. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

10 Productive Things to do in 15 minutes or less

Lay out your clothes

Write several Thank You notes

De-clutter your wallet

Watch a TED Talk video

Update your resume

Toss dinner in the crock pot

Learn a new language with Duolingo

Call, text or email a friend

Get up and stretch, especially if you've been working on the computer all day

Unsubscribe to unwanted emails (try Unroll.Me to help!)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Film Flick: Designing Woman

The story MGM  likes to tell about Designing Woman is that costume designer Helen Rose came up with the idea of making a film about a fashion designer. While this may or may not be true, some accuse it of being a little more closely related the Spencer/Hepburn vehicle Woman of the Year than this costume designer's dream. Certainly, the two films do share some basic plot characteristics.   Both involve an earthy sports writer and an intellectual woman getting married and discovering how little they have in common. But both the details of the story, and the style of the films differ greatly from there.

Mike Hannigan  (Gregory Peck ) meets a Marilla Brown (Lauren Becall) on vacation and ends up in a whirlwind romance and marriage. However, on returning to New York, they discover everything from their social spheres to their daily pursuits, to their bank accounts seem to be opposites. What's already a tense situation becomes more awkward when exes get involved and- oh yeah- the mob.

Furthermore, where Woman of the Year was most definitely 1930s screwball comedy- with witty banter and a fast pace- Designing Woman has all the hallmark signs of 1950s filmmaking. First, it is  filmed in Cinescope with many large, sweeping sets and colorful, decadent  woman's clothes. There is even a literal fashion show in the film. Luckily, Becall's past as a fashion model meant she was made to wear beautiful clothes, and the second leading lady, Dolores Gray, had a body built for evening gowns as well. Designing Woman also has less of the quick banter. Its comedy is more broad and physical, which might not have worked with lesser actors, but Becall and Peck do it tremendously. Another unique conceit of the film Designing Woman is that it is narrated, in turns, by five of the main characters talking directly to the audience. This adds a delicious dichotomy  when what the character are saying doesn't match what they are thinking. It is not, perhaps, as laugh out loud funny as Woman of the Year, but this style brings a charm all its own.

One of the main draws of course, is seeing two of Hollywood's greatest play opposite each other. Gregory Peck is so effortlessly charming, and Becall's sultry voice means she can vacillate between sexy and funny with ease. These two also have chemistry, with some steamy gestures that would have seemed against the Hayes Code were it not for the fact the characters were married. Why they weren't cast as a pairing more often remains a mystery to me! So it is perhaps surprising to learn that James Stewart and Grace Kelly were originally considered for the parts,  but when Kelly became betrothed to Prince Rainier of Monaco, Stewart decided not to take the role.

"She got the Prince, I got the part," Becall is supposed to have said on the matter. In fact, Peck was cast first. He was against type, seeing as he had not really done a comedy since Roman Holiday. Part of the deal was that he got final approval of the choice for leading lady, but then he and  Becall were friendly, so it wasn't much of an issue when she was cast. Both recalled the film fondly, and for Becall filming Designing Woman had a special appeal.Her home life at the time was very stressful since her husband, Humphrey Bogart, was terminally ill. She explained in her biography, that the part of Marrilla, with all the broad physical comedy and yelling dramatics, allowed her an emotional outlet, so that she was able to keep a calm and stable demeanor for her husband and children at home. Perhaps in tribute to her own successful marriage, one of the scenes in Designing Woman has the song "How Little We Know" playing in the background. This is the same song Lauren Becall sang in her first film, To Have and Have Not, where she met and fell in love with Bogart.

It can be hard to be a remake- or even to be thought to be a remake!- as there will always be some who cannot help but compare. However, in my opinion, if such a comparison has to be made, I might prefer this gentler tale of opposites attract. Maybe it is just the clothing that draws me in, maybe it is the charm of Peck and Becall but Designing Woman seems designed to delight! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day!

As you probably already know, it is being celebrated in America and in 13 other countries with a general women's strike, or a "Day Without Women." Here are some inspiring posts about the event:

Check out the International Women's Day Website

The Declaration of Sentiments and early women's rights activists in the US

Elana reminds of what we can do, if we must work today

10 Inspiring Quotes for Women's Day

The Statue of Liberty Goes Dark

The issues  women around the world are protesting for

Monday, March 6, 2017

Motherhood Musings: Dogs + Babies

A friend of mine told me that one of the biggest surprises of motherhood was that "my dog became just that- a dog." As evidenced by the very existence of  the phrase "fur-babies," many people feel like pets are their children. And, well,  it's probably fairly obvious from the blog and my instagram account, but if you met me in person, it becomes really apparent really fast that we are Dog People (capitals totally warranted). So one of our main concerns as my pregnancy drew to an end was- how to handle dogs + babies?

Here are some of the tips we followed before the baby was brought home:

  • We let the dogs sniff all of the things the baby would use, especially diapering and bathing supplies. 
  • We spent time in the nursery with the dogs before the baby was born. We laid the ground rules before the baby arrived: No chewing on baby toys. No getting on the nursing glider. This meant there was no change in the rules once baby arrived.
  • We got them familiar with being around wheeled objects, like a stroller.
  • We played them sounds of babies crying (only a few times but still...) 
  • Once the baby was born, we had my in-laws, who were kenneling the dogs, take them a blanket that our baby, Ellis, had been wrapped in. Having that allowed them to be familiar with his smell before even meeting him.  
Since everyone- dogs, babies and everything in between- all got home, there's been some interesting reactions too. Our fox terrier, Stella, was the most curious in all things baby prior to Ellis' arrival, and that proved true afterwards as well. She went from curiosity about whether he was a toy to impatience for him to play with her to being wary of all the crying. Actually, she still loves to give him the "sniff test," but definitely is a bit more disdainful of the baby when he is interrupting her sleeptime with wails! Our other dog, Max, wouldn't even go in the nursery before the baby, but now it is his more usual hang-out spot. He's still mostly indifferent and just wants to stick close to me, but if I'm out of the room and he thinks the baby needs me, he will track me down, for sure! 

I can only imagine there will be new hurdles for us to adjust for as Ellis gets more mobile. What were issues you faced with a dog + baby, and do you have any tips to handle those situations? 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Dog-Eared Page: Age of Innocence

The word had fallen like a bombshell in the pure and tranquil atmosphere of the Archer dining-room. Mrs. Archer raised her delicate eye-brows in the particular curve that signified: "The butler—" and the young man, himself mindful of the bad taste of discussing such intimate matters in public, hastily branched off into an account of his visit to old Mrs. Mingott.

After dinner, according to immemorial custom, Mrs. Archer and Janey trailed their long silk draperies up to the drawing-room, where, while the gentlemen smoked below stairs, they sat beside a Carcel lamp with an engraved globe, facing each other across a rosewood work-table with a green silk bag under it, and stitched at the two ends of a tapestry band of field-flowers destined to adorn an "occasional" chair in the drawing-room of young Mrs. Newland Archer.

While this rite was in progress in the drawing-room, Archer settled Mr. Jackson in an armchair near the fire in the Gothic library and handed him a cigar. Mr. Jackson sank into the armchair with satisfaction, lit his cigar with perfect confidence (it was Newland who bought them), and stretching his thin old ankles to the coals, said: "You say the secretary merely helped her to get away, my dear fellow? Well, he was still helping her a year later, then; for somebody met 'em living at Lausanne together."

Newland reddened. "Living together? Well, why not? Who had the right to make her life over if she hadn't? I'm sick of the hypocrisy that would bury alive a woman of her age if her husband prefers to live with harlots."

He stopped and turned away angrily to light his cigar. "Women ought to be free—as free as we are," he declared, making a discovery of which he was too irritated to measure the terrific consequences.

Mr. Sillerton Jackson stretched his ankles nearer the coals and emitted a sardonic whistle.
-Age of Innocence By Edith Warton 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In March, Why Don't You

*Photo via the

Call a friend you haven't spoken to in awhile

Learn a new lullaby

Get Amazon Prime. Its worth it.

 Help someone move

Go to your  6-week check-up!

Do any last minute adjustments to your childcare plans for once maternity leave is over

Join the search for  the missing Declaration of Sentiments from the Senneca Falls Women's Rights Convention (Find out more here)

Take a picture of the baby bathing in Grandma's sink

Update all your passwords

Donate to the Malala Fund and help girls get an education!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Month in Review: February 2016

New Plans
To start out the month, I shared some ideas you should try for February's Why Don't You... list, some lovey-dovey, and others of a more practical vein. For this Valentine month, a romantic Dog Eared Page seemed especially apropo! The deceptively named Without Love was our romantic Film Flick for the month too. Plus, even through the spring seems far off, I can't help daydreaming about my Spring 2017 Wishlist!

New Mama

We welcomed Ellis Jerome to our lives in late January! I shared his birth story this month, and you were able to virtually visit his new nursery.

New Finds

3 ways to participate in the Women's General Strike on March 8th (International Women's Day)

Making friends as an adult is hard. Here's some tips to make it easier

Another reason to love IKEA

As a new mama, I can attest, this is one of the best gifts to get

How Iceland got kids to say no to drug

Clean up your inbox with this brilliant tool

Living close to Yellowstone, as I do, this really rang true: What it is like to work for the National Park Service these days. 

Katerina of Demure Muse gives great tips on caring for old leather

Babies in flight

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rec Five: Things to put in your car for winter

1) Collapsible Shovel- Be able to dig yourself out of snow embankments if the worst happens.

2) Kitty Litter- it can absorb snow, which is  also helpful if you get stuck in the snow. Plus, putting it in the back of your vehicle means it is added weight, making you less likely to fishtail on icy roads.

3) Ice scraper- Parked outside? Warming up your car can melt frost, but there's not always time! Be safe and scrape off your wind shield fully. I had a friend run over when someone didn't properly clear their windshield.

4) Blankets and/or winter coats- You never know when you might need extra warmth- what if the heater goes out?

5) Plastic bags- If you have to park outside overnight, tie a plastic bag around your side mirrors. It will keep the frost and snow off. Don't forget to lift your wipers off the windshield too; keep them from freezing to the glass as that can damage the wiper.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Spring 2017 Wishlist

1. White Shirt | 2. Blue shirt  | 3. Blue Striped Button up | 4. Slim-Legged Trousers | 5. Grey Jeans | 6. Reversible Sweatshirt | 7. Draped Sweater  | 8. Nursing Top | 9. Striped Dress |

1. White Shirt - White button-ups are so classic and versatile. I love them, but... they don't always love me. Life gets messy. That's why I was so super-pumped to see the clothing service Elizabeth and Clarke had developed an Unstainable collection. I've literally seen people pour coffee and wine it not stick to the cloth. Sign me up. The only question is, do I get a traditional button-up, or this lovely collarless number.

 2. Blue shirt  - Also from Elizabeth and Clarke. Also unsustainable. It is part of their spring 2017 collection, which is no longer being sold. BUT in their FAQs they said you could email about clothes from past collections and they will check their inventory. If they have your size, you can buy it! I feel like this shirt is what you wear whilst strolling through the Tuileries Jardins on your way to look at art in the Louvre... but it will look good in my classroom too!

3. Blue Striped Button up - Has anyone else noticed the sudden omnipresence of blue striped button-ups? Why isn't this one all those "trend" lists as it is in every store? I mean, a blue striped button-up is obviously a classic, something that, as my dad puts it, never goes out of style. Still, it used to be much harder to find in store. Not that I'm complaining. In fact, here is not one but TWO versions I love. Which do you like better?

 4. Slim-Legged Trousers - Are you sensing a stripe theme yet? If asked my favorite color, I think I'd have to say "striped." Which is why those trousers are so, SO me. However, I also need to update my black trousers. My current ones (both maternity and non-maternity) have served me well, but I wear black trousers at least once a week. They get worn out. My pocket book says "either/or" but my heart says "both."

5. Grey Jeans - I got grey jeans when pregnant and loved them so much, I want a pair for my "regular" body too! Nuff said!

6. Reversible Sweatshirt - Okay, okay. I don't really need another striped top, but this would be perfect to wear on those days that aren't quite warm but aren't really wintery either (in other words every single day from now until till June in Wyoming), and it would be even more perfect to wear up in the mountains. Plus- it is reversible. There's something about the words "reversible clothing" that is a siren's call....

7. Draped Sweater - I'm nursing and I get cold. This seems like the perfect answer.

 8. Nursing Top - I though stylish maternity clothing was hard to find. Try something you can easily nurse in. Luckily this top seems rather chic, and like you could wear it even once nursing is done (as far off as that seems!)

 9. Striped Dress - I got a blue striped dress waaaaay back many moons ago when I was getting ready to go to Prague to teach English. I splurged on a new wardrobe before going, after hearing clothing was more expensive in the Czech Republic. Looking back, it was really my first foray into having a stylish and "me" wardrobe. My favorite item was a blue striped dress. I still have it, but, well, it might be hanging together by a thread. THis dress would seem me through spring and summer- AND is nursing friendly too. Win-win-win!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ellis Jerome: A Birth Story

We welcomed our first child, Ellis Jerome, to the world on January 21st. It goes without saying that things have been rather hectic around these parts for a few weeks, but I also was unsure about sharing this story. However, ultimately it felt worth it to share my own experiences, as a type one diabetic giving birth, for others who may also be dealing with the complications of a chronic disease while pregnant. 
First a little background: as a diabetic, there was a lot of potential for complications with my pregnancy. One was that the baby might grow too big too quickly. With this in mind, from the very beginning, we were told that I would be induced at week 38. They wanted to avoid a C-section, which can be hard for diabetics to recover from due to a slowed digestive system, but they need the baby small enough for a regular birth. However,  I was very lucky that most of complications didn't happen and in many ways I was the healthiest I'd been since contracting the disease (but that's a story for another time). In fact, they thought that baby was growing to normal parameters, so  the doctor didn't want to induce that week. Only a week later though, after I started showing some signs of preeclampsia, the induction plan was back on. 

For someone as into plans as I am, this was actually a comfort. There was a clear plan on what to do, and, because it was planned, our regular OB would deliver the baby. We were told that I needed to rest on Friday and after dinner to come into the hospital. So, I ate a bland but protein heavy meal (you don't eat during labor, a fact that scared this diabetic since that's a big way the disease is managed), we repacked our hospital bags and went in. In all the haste, I left my phone, so The Boy had to get me to our room and immediately left again to retrieve it, while I quietly waited in this room where the biggest change of our lives was about to take place. 

I was induced around 8 that night, but before that I was hooked up to an IV with a sugar drip. One doesn't typically eat during labor, as the body usually can't keep food down, but as a diabetic, they needed to insure I wouldn't become hypoglycemic. Induced labor also typically has much more intense contractions. I did sleep through the night thanks to sleeping pills, but the next morning I was in so much pain. There are a lot of different things they try having you do to encourage your body to dilate more. They put you in different positions, have you walk the hallways, even use a jacuzzi tub. But by about 10 or 11, I really couldn't stand it and asked for an epidural. I'd held off on that, worried it would slow down the process. Agreeing to get the epidural was a relief to both the nurses and my husband, who were worried about how my body was handling the pain. Throughout the day, I'd been sick several times and was eventually put on oxygen as well. These days you get what is called a "walking epidural" (though you can't actually walk when you have one. Your legs are totally numb) where you can't feel the pain but you can feel pressure. This allows you to feel the pressure of the contractions without the pain.

 By six that evening, I still wasn't fully dilated on one side, but they were getting nervous that it wouldn't do anymore on its own, so they had me start pushing.  You hear that word with pregnancy a lot- "pushing." And everyone just says, "Oh, you'll know when to push." Maybe for some people pushing feels really natural; not me.  Still, with the nurses' help, I pushed for about 2 hours when it became clear from the baby's heart rate that he was becoming tired. They were worried that he would stop trying and become stuck there. So,  they gave us the choice of having our doctor use a vacuum or forceps to help pull the baby out in conjunction with my pushing. As it sounds, a vacuum uses suction pressure; as for forceps- think salad tongs, only they go around a baby's head instead of cabbage. Ultimately, I told the doctor to choose what she was more comfortable with, and she grabbed ahold of the head with forceps. In addition to being tired, it also turned out the baby was at an odd angle, so she twisted him around and pulled while I pushed. 

At 8:01 our 8 lb. 1 oz. baby came into the world. The minute he was out, they shoved him in my arms. Now, they did this for two reasons. It turned out the birth had been very hard on my body and they just didn't want me to freak out;  they wanted me distracted while they took care of any trauma to my body . It is also really beneficial to have "skin on skin" time with Baby and Mom right away. Certainly the distraction worked! Ellis was screaming- practicing using his lungs as a nurse put it- and over and over all I could say was "You're perfect." It was the most amazing things to be holding this tiny person in my arms, to be seeing him after all that. That warm baby skin, impossibly small fingers and eyes that were already so alert- all of it was perfect.  

Most birth stories end here, but our hospital stay was just beginning as it turned out. Since I am diabetic, Ellis was at some risk several things. His body had grown use to managing the high amount of glucose my body provided, but now that he was born he wasn't getting such large doses of glucose. There was a danger his body could go into hypoglycemia. This was the most serious worry. So every few hours for much of the night, his heel was poked and blood tested. Similarly, My body's change in hormones also meant I was at  risk for becoming either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. I'd also lost a lot of blood, so they wanted to keep an eye on that as well.

We were set to be discharged the next day, except a test came back that showed I'd lost a lot of blood. Not at the birth (though, yes, there too), but afterward. A CAT scan and two blood transfusions later though, they felt more confident about letting me go home. So, we ended up 4 days (Friday to Tuesday) in the hospital. The funny thing was, Ellis was discharged before I was! 

Being a mom is strange, but wonderful (if occasionally very frustrating.) I write to our son in his baby book, imagining he might look back as an adult, perhaps when his own family starts growing, and this is how I told him those first days or parenthood struck The Boy and I: 
 "In the days since, there have been tears. We've had to learn to be patient with you, as you have had to learn to be patient with your new parents. But the first words I said to you still stand- you are perfect- a perfect fit for our family."

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