Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My 15 Month Old

When Lucia turned 1 year old, I promised myself I would only do these updates every three months.  Along with professional pictures - it was tough finding time to take her in once a month - but totally worth it for the $7.99 photo packets.  

It's incredible to think how much she's changed since December.  Lulu's now a full-fledged walking, talking toddler.  And I'm loving it!  Don't worry though, I made sure to take notes of all her accomplishments, big and small, since her last update.

Accomplished by 13 Months:
  • says "bear", "ball", "book", and "no"'
  • signs "food"
  • points to my parents' bedside (where the special books they read with her are kept) and says "book"
  • tries on my shoes 
  • much more cuddly than in the past
  • loves to sneeze, smiles and laughs when she does it
  • fake sneezes
  • eats with spoon
  • drinks with a straw
  • throws a ball
  • rides on her rocking horses (can get on and off herself)
  • pees on potty (when set there on regular intervals)
  • raises arms to be held
  • has "gentle hands" - with the dogs and in general.  I can generally trust her to read a "regular" (non-board) book and not rip it

Accomplished by 14 Months:
  • says "bubbles"
  • made connections between the word/sign "food" and other words "eat", "breakfast", "dinner", etc 
  • can stand for long periods of time
  • walks just holding on to one hand
  • first steps - Sat, Jan 26th
  • showing a strong preference for using her left hand
  • has her stuffed animals kiss people (makes the kissy noise as they do)
  • loves to smell things, especially soap
  • neighs with her rocking horse
  • first thing she does when she wakes up is hug Zoey (her Gloworm), she won't leave the crib without her

Accomplished by 15 Months:
  • says "bye", "bottle", "pocket" ("pock"), "baby", "doll", "hot", "hat"
  • says "Jew" for Jesus (but thinks every pictures/statue in church is Jesus)
  • signs "please", "potty"
  • put two signs together "more" and "food"
  • loves pine cones and her baby doll
  • first molars coming in (on top), canines haven't come out yet 
  • puts things in and out of pockets
  • loves "The Wheels on the Bus", "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", and "The Itsy, Bitsy Spider" - moves arms along with these, doing these are the only way we can keep her still for a diaper change
  • feeds her baby doll and makes smacking noises when baby is "drinking"
  • can appropriately do the Sign of the Cross (without words)
  • covers her mouth with her hand when she's told "no" or gets caught doing something she knows she's not supposed to
  • What sounds does a dog make? "Ruff." What sound does a duck make? "Quack." What sound does a frog make? "Roar."
  • can identify her nose, ears, eye, feet

At 15 months, Lucia is an absolute joy.  I haven't spent much time with older babies/younger toddlers before, so I'm in awe of how much she understands.  She says quite a few words and does a few signs, but I have a tendency to underestimate just how much she understands since she can't fully communicate with us in return, but I'm certain that she understands 99% of what we say.  

Whether Lulu decides to truly listen to us is another story.  She can be quite fussy at times, but usually that's directly related to being either tired or hungry (she's like her mama in that way).  She's starting to realize when she's tired and has gone to bed at night many times with a smile on her face (not every night, but we're working on it).  

We have gotten a glimpse of what the terrible twos might be like, although David seems to think that we are currently experiencing the terrible twos and by the time she's two, she'll be a sweet angel.  Ha ha, I'm not so idealistic.  We are very grateful though that she hasn't been much of a picky eater, although she'll often refuse to eat certain foods certain nights (on other nights, those same foods are her favorite).  

Lucia is still nursing, although only 1-2 times a day when I work and 2-3 times a day when I'm home with her.  It's still a very special time for us and one of the only times when Lucia still seems like a baby.  We're planning to keep it up as long as it lasts, but it seems to be naturally decreasing and I'm not sure how much longer supply will keep up.

For the most part though, the word that best describes Lucia is "fun".  She's full of life, always curious, will often cuddle (tell her "put your head on my shoulder" and you get the best 2.3 seconds of loving ever), and gets into everything (in a good way).  She's quite mischievous, which for the time being is very endearing, especially when she gets caught doing something naughty and covers her mouth with her hand and whimpers.  

Lulu's super, super active, very rarely sitting still and very rarely content to be doing something for very long.  Now that she's walking, I feel like I'm constantly on the go chasing her, although for the most part, I can trust her to do her own thing without getting into too much trouble.  I'm working on letting her have some of her own space and figure things out on her own instead of always doing them for her.  I'm also trying to let her make messes and get hurt so she learns.  It's hard to step back though.  I just have to keep reminding myself that my baby girl isn't a baby anymore.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

March Sponsor Spotlight

I'd love for you to meet Messy Wife, Blessed Life's March sponsorsWon't you please go check out these lovely ladies and woman-owned businesses.

Meet Hayley.
 Army wife. Mom of 2. Child of God. 
Daughter (in-law). Sister (in-law).

My name is Hayley and I blog at Hayley's World. There you'll find, well, everything about my world. Family, Army life, crafts, cooking, things I love. I also have a shop called Hayley's World where you will find personalized embroidery items, other cute sewn item and some fun crochets items too!

Meet Jessica.
Wife to Steve. Mother to Stephen & Paul.  
Devout Catholic. Former teacher. Book lover.

I am a stay-at-home mom to two boys (2 years old and 10 months old) who wanted to help provide for my family. As a former elementary teacher and lifelong book lover, Usborne Books & More is the perfect fit. Our books are high-quality, exciting, engaging, and the books kids love to read! I'd love to help you expand your child's library or join the Usborne family!

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Meet EpicLinen.
Cozy home. Invaluable linen beauty. Inspired by simple designs.  
Delicacy of cuisine. In love with Provence.


Online Linen Boutique provides the finest linen production manufactured in Europe. EpicLinen adores vintage, shabby chic and rustic country charm. All EpicLinen’s production is dedicated to create cozy home and well being of the family!

Meet Liz.
Wife. Mother. Crafter. Wanna be chef. Former teacher.

I'm a cradle Catholic who enjoys blogging about my life as a wife and mother.  When I'm not blogging, you can find me barefoot wandering around the beach.

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Meet Kelley.
Vocational wife. Professional nurse.  
Temporary student. Amateur writer/photographer/chef.

We've had an exciting marriage so far living in 4 different states and 2 countries since our wedding day.  You can read more about our adventures at home and on the road plus book and movie reviews, recipes, and a hodge-podge of other faith-based thoughts (including my thoughts on becoming Catholic this Easter!).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Teach Your Child Spanish - BookLingual Review & Giveaway

When I saw the opportunity to review a bilingual Spanish/English book program, I was elated.  As many of you know, I'm a K-8 Spanish teacher and I'm always on the lookout for great new teaching resources for my classroom.  The BookLingual is a program developed to help parents teach their children Spanish through engaging books, but I found it to be useful for my classroom as well.  I haven't had a chance to incorporate the books into my lessons yet, but I they are an integral part of my lesson plans next month.

I received a sample of six books from the full 32 book program.  The books come in digital form, which initially made me a bit wary (despite being a blogger, I'm not on the up and up with all technology).  I soon discovered that digital format is a boon; as a teacher, I'm able to project the book for the entire classroom to read along with me and am able to ask certain students to read particular pages.  Any parents with a tablet, ereader, or even a laptop computer can make it a more personalized experience as well.  

As a Spanish teacher, I really like these as a teaching tool.  (If I didn't, I wouldn't plan to use them with my students!) Here's why:

  • The pictures are engaging and the stories are fun for kids.  It's clear that the intent is to entertain as well as teach.  You'd be surprised how many foreign language materials are bland, lack story lines, and are clearly only there to teach specific words.  It's common sense that kids learn better when they are actually interested in the content.
  • Some of the words with more difficult pronunciations have a "pronunciation guide" right there.  This is certainly helpful for parents that are learning Spanish along with their children. (See imageto the left.)
  • Certain corresponding words are similarly colored in Spanish and English so children can make the connections between the two.  In the past, I have often shied away from bilingual books because many of them confuse students more than teach them.  Most beginning Spanish students assume that word order is the same in both languages and make connections between the first word in each sentence, second word in each sentence, etc.  By having two words with the same meaning highlighted in the same color, student can make the proper word correlations. (See image below.)
  • The books have patterns that help children learn grammar without it being explicitly taught.  For example, I look forward to teaching noun-adjective agreement and word order to my younger elementary students with Come to the Zoo.  (See image below.)
  • The books have various ability levels, so your child has the ability to improve throughout the program.
from Come to the Zoo
This is a great starting place for learning Spanish, especially for learning to read Spanish, which is often forgotten in other children's Spanish programs.  I am really looking forward to using these in my classroom and reading them to my own sweet pea at home.  I am actually planning to ask my principal about buying the full program for my classes.  If you have any questions about teaching your little one Spanish or whether this program might work for you, I'd love to chat.   Leave a comment below or send me an email.

Ready to get the BookLingual program for yourself?  BookLingual is offering an amazing deal:

Click on the image above to get this great deal, or click on the pre-order page here.
5% of the proceeds always goes to charities, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

You can find out more about BookLingual by liking their Facebook page.

BookLingual is also giving away the six book set I was able to sample (emailed to the winner).  To enter, use the PromoSimple widget below.  Contest will end 3/27.  Good luck!

BookLingual Six Book Set  

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

7 Quick Takes Friday (84)

--- 1 ---

I'm sick.  I think it's just a nasty cold but it's really knocking me off my feet.  Usually I barely even notice a cold, but I can't remember feeling this sick since before I was pregnant (over 2 years ago!).  In all honesty, the pain from my ears, sinuses, and headache is more unbearable than any pain I felt during pregnancy and childbirth.  I remember reading about labor pain being more "discomfort" and "pressure" than actual pain and, in hindsight, I have to agree.  I'd rather go through childbirth right now than have this cold (only if there was a cute baby at the end of it, of course).

--- 2 ---

A friend of a friend lost her baby in childbirth recently.  I've only met her a few times, but when my friend told me about it, my heart broke for her.  I can't imagine having a healthy pregnancy, going into labor naturally, and then losing the baby.  So, so sad.  Will you pray for her and her family?

--- 3 ---

My mom actually had something similar happen.  She went into early labor with my sister and lost her only hours after she was born.  I've always seen my mom as a somewhat emotionally fragile woman, but I forget how strong she must have been through it all.  I've only written about my sister once previously here.

--- 4 ---

My current favorite item from the shop: Ebele Bracelet

I didn't mean for these Quick Takes to be such a downer!  Would winning a $50 credit to my accessories shop, Blessed Life Boutique, cheer you up?  Head over to From Mrs. to Mama to see Becky's review of one of the boutique's most darling bracelets and enter to win.

--- 5 ---

Are you in shape for summer?  It still feels pretty wintery here, but I know that I'll be breaking out the cute skirts and dresses - and even bathing suits - soon.  I don't exactly feel in tip-top shape, so I've started a DietBet for a little motivation to lose weight before summer and would love you to join.  

What is DietBet, you ask?  It's an website where you create weight loss "games".  To join a game, you pay a bet and everyone who loses 4% of their body weight in 4 weeks splits the pot.   I set the bet for my game at $25 - just high enough to make me motivated to win my money back!  Another aspect of the game is the ability to write on the game "wall" to encourage one another, ask for help, report progress, etc.  The game will run April 1-29 (after you get your fill of Easter Peeps!).  You can click here to join or learn more about DietBet.  Feel free to ask me questions as well!

--- 6 ---

Someone is ready for summer.  Or maybe just for fabulous.

--- 7 ---

I can't tell you enough how good God is to my family!  We've been having a rough time of it recently with David's continued job search, financial woes that just don't seem to end, etc., etc., etc.  Nothing major, we're just starting to lose hope after being in these circumstances going on a year now.  Right when the burden was starting to become unbearable, we got some great news this past week.  I can't really say anything about it right now, but I just can't help smiling every time I think about it.  He knew we were in need of some good news to help up keep on keeping on.  I will say that it doesn't have anything to do with David's job search though, so continued prayers on that front would be much appreciated.

P.S. If you're still in need of some Easter basket goodies for your little one, check out my post of 50 Easter Basket Ideas for One Year Olds.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

50 Easter Basket Ideas for One Year Olds


I was stumped trying to think about what to put in Lucia's Easter basket, so I did what I always do when I need some mommy advice: turned to my Facebook fans/twitter followers.  And they came through with such awesome ideas that I just had to share. 

1. bath toys (thanks, Ashley) 
3. puzzles
4. stuffed animals
5. books
6. blocks (thanks, LaDonna)
7. DVDs (thanks, LaDonna) 
8. stacking cups (thanks, Rita)
9. egg shaped sidewalk chalk
10. bubbles
11. balls
12. magnets (thanks, Cat)
13. sandbox toys (thanks, Rachel)
14. coloring book
15. plant growing kit (I got a strawberry one in the Target dollar bin)
16. bubbles
17. clothes
18. sippy cups/spoons/plates/bowls 
19. stickers (thanks, Bonnie)
20. rubber ducks (thanks, Jerica)
21. markers/crayons
22. hats/hairbows (thanks, Bonnie)
23. toiletries (lotions, shampoo, toothbrush/paste, non toxic nail polish
25. stampers 
26. toy phones (thanks, Ashley)
27. playdough (thanks, Beth)
28. finger paints
29. (large) beads and string for threading
30. sunglasses

ideas for filling plastic eggs:
32. coins (help them put them in their piggy bank right away)
33. cheerios 
34. puffs
35. berries
36. yogurt drops (Thanks, Beth)
37. mini raisin boxes (thanks, Amy)
38. socks (thanks, Cat)
39. or just empty plastic eggs (your little one will find plenty of things to fill them!)

religious ideas: 
41. religious books (Lucia is getting this one and this one and this one
43. small hands rosary (thanks, Karen)
44. Saint magnets (thanks, Sarah)

(for more religious ideas, check out my Religious Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers post - some of the ideas are too "Christmas-y" for Easter, but most are not!)

food ideas:
45. whole fruits (bananas, apples, etc.)
46. hard boiled eggs (duh!)
47. pouches
48. juice boxes (thanks, Bonnie)
49. graham crackers/animal crackers
50. homemade "trail mix" - chex & raisins (thanks, Cat)

See my 50 Easter Basket Ideas for Two Year Olds here.  (50 new ideas! No repeats!)

Some more Easter book ideas:
Book of Bible Stories // Easter Bunny Flap Book
For more ideas, see these posts:

If you have written a similar post and want me to include the link here, leave the link in the comments and I'll add it here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Three for Coffee

Recently, we've gotten into a bit of a rut around here.  The weather is just starting to warm up, so going outside is just now becoming a possibility and it's still hit or miss.  Prolonged errands with Lucia are all but impossible. (At what age is she going to start liking to sit in the cart/stroller or are we out of luck if she doesn't like it by now?)  We don't have the money to do anything fancy and most of the big "attractions" - zoo, aquarium, museums - are at least an hour away anyway.  So most of our days together, including family time with the three of us, involve just hanging out around the house. 

On Sunday, I was feeling a bit stir-crazy, so we left the house a few hours early and stopped by David's work.  It was surprisingly one of the best hours we've spend as a family in a long time (maybe ever).  Who knew you could take a toddler to coffee and have a fabulous time?  She was super well-behaved, felt like such a big deal with her special Starbucks' drink (water), sat in the high chair the whole time (small miracle), and interacted with us as if just another member of our party, albeit small and short on words.  It's so amazing to see her this way, fully toddler, engaged and interested in everything going on around her.  Responding to our stories and directions.  People-watching.  Here are my favorite pictures from the afternoon:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Five Favorites (2)

my new DIY earring holder

Love it!  So useful, so cheap and easy to make.  See my tutorial here.
(And since I know you are wondering, yes those are Rockies and Broncos earrings.
No, they don't get much wear.)

Little Blue Truck

I believe that children deserve the best, including literature, movies, and television shows.  How can we expect them to grow up to love the classics and be able to discern good literature (and perhaps to write a classic of their own) if we feed them a steady diet of, excuse my French, crap?  There are a lot of good children's books out there, but there is even more "fluff".  If I can't stand most children's books because it's boring, predictable, annoying, or otherwise less than stellar, is it any wonder that they can't keep my one-year-old's attention?  This book is great and has a really vintage feel, even though it's only a few years old.  One of my favorite bedtime (or anytime) reads.


Mmmm...cheese, yeah!  Did you catch my post yesterday in which I described one of the million reasons why I know that my husband is the man God meant for me to be with?  (If you didn't, it's because he's an amazing gift giver and gave me a basket full of fancy schmancy cheeses from around the globe for my birthday.)  Last night, after Lucia went to sleep, us adults - my parents, David and I - had a mini cheese sampling with four of the cheeses (and apples and pears and almonds and WINE!).  I felt very adult (and very French) doing so.  I was the only one who rated all four cheeses highly (see me homemade rating scale here) and David only really liked one.  (The only cheese he liked tasted very similar to cheddar and he declared that he actually preferred supermarket block o' cheddar better, the poor uncultured soul.)  I see a life-long cheese tasting love affair in the works.  A true affair in the sense that it won't involve my husband at all.

Cheeses tasted & ratings:
Edam (Holland) - 4
Leicester Red (England) - 4
Leonora Goat (Spain) - 4
Roboila de Bosco - 4 (This is the particularly smelly one I mentioned yesterday! Much tastier than it smells!)

Maxi Skirts

I love them!  I'm dying to get a flowy chiffon one in mint or coral.  Or light pink.  Or cream.   Or any color really.  I almost got one at a thrift store the other day, but it wasn't quite what I wanted and I couldn't justify spending any money, not even thrift store prices, on something I wasn't in love with.  I see myself wearing one all the time and looking boho beautiful in future pregnancies wearing it (like this).  But in truth, I'm pretty darn short and I worry that any one I buy will be way too long and will make me look frumpy and short.

St. Joseph

Yesterday was the feast day of Saint Joseph.  We've been spending quite a bit of time asking for his intercession during David's job search and I've gotten quite close to this gentle, hardworking man.  Imagine what it must have been like to be the only person in the household that wasn't perfect?  That must have been humbling!  

I was looking for a prayer yesterday for us to say to honor Saint Joseph and yet again ask for his aid in finding David a job.  I came across this beautiful one that you may want to forward on to anyone currently job searching.  It's the most lovely employment prayer I've encountered.
Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God. Amen.

Thanks for hosting, Miss Hallie!

DIY Earring Holder

I made this Tuesday night to hold my earrings and I have to say it's one of my all-time favorite DIYs.  It was super simple (and cheap!) and it came out exactly how I imagined it!  Here's the super fancy tutorial:

You will need:
embroidery hoop (cost me $1.69)
burlap (cost me $2.30 & I have heaps left over)
five minutes

Directions: Put the burlap over the smaller hoop.  Put the larger hoop over it and start tightening (slowly).  When it's fairly tight but you can still move the fabric a bit, pull the burlap taut.  Finish tightening.  Cut the excess fabric.  Hang your earrings.  Enjoy.

The blogger I got the idea from used lace in her embroidery hoops and they look gorgeous.  That was my intent until I was at the craft store looking for lace and came across burlap.  I think I may make myself another one since this one is pretty full, and I might experiment with lace this time.   There were several other burlap colors as well, so I may just go with one of those.  We'll see.

I had forgotten that I owned half those earrings since they were stashed at the back of my jewelry box.  I'm terrible at remembering to accessorize and I think the main issue is out of sight out of mind.  The more visible and accessible my jewelry is, the more likely I am to actually think about wearing it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Life Updates

I tend to leave our everyday updates for 7 Quick Takes, but by the time Friday rolls around, I always seem to forget the "little things" that have been going on.  I also feel like I usually write "themed" posts, so the daily stuff - you know, the stuff that actually makes up a life - those tend to get pushed off and I never end up writing about them.  So here's a recap of the "little" things.

David is an amazing gift giver.  I'm not quite sure why men get a bad rep regarding gift giving because I've known several women who have super thoughtful and creative significant others.  Anyway, for my birthday, he gave me the best gift: cheeses.  Nine different fancy & exotic cheeses from around the world.  He knows that I'm always checking out the cheese section of the grocery store and hoping to find something smelly and interesting on clearance. He had to drive a little ways away to get to a specialty cheese store, so his gift was particularly sweet.

This is what my breakfast looked like this morning.  I was hoping to taste more than three but Lucia was being high maintenance (yelling for more "baby", which in addition to the obvious also means banana) and it takes a lot longer than you would think to unwrap and slice cheeses.  I've decided to rate all the cheeses, so I've made up my own ratings:
1- Disgusting. Throw away immediately.
2- Probably won't eat again, but won't throw up either.
3- Would eat again if free, but wouldn't waste my money on it.
4- Yum!
5- My new favorite!

Here are the cheeses I had this morning:
Lou Bergier Pichin (Italy) - 3
Cana de Oveja (Spain) - 3
Pecorino Sardo (Italy) - 4
So far so good, but there is a particularly stinky one I haven't tried yet that I have a mixed attitude toward.  I'll give another update in my Quick Takes on Friday.  Maybe I will have found my one true (cheese) love by then!

Lucia got her first bee sting yesterday (inside the comforts of our own home, of course).  I was napping at the time, but David said she cried real briefly, then quickly forgot all about it.  It was a little red around the sting, but that was it.  At least we know she's not allergic to bee stings.

Potty training...we're at a bit of an impasse, Lulu and I.  As soon as she started walking, she lost all interest in sitting on the potty and I'm not going to force her.  She was peeing on the potty 2-4 times a day before she started walking, and now we can only get her to actually sit on the seat maybe 2-4 times a week (and she rarely goes then).  This morning, I was able to catch her straining a bit, so I ran upstairs with her and set her on the potty and she did her business there.  Which was nice, because her cloth diaper was dry, so I could put it back on.  And for you cloth diapering mamas, you now how nice it is to save one diaper and have just a little bit longer between cloth diapering loads.

Speaking of cloth diapering, now is as good of a time as any to give an update.  We still love cloth diapering!  It's not nearly as much work as it seemed before Lucia was born and much less than when she was small.  It has a lot of small conveniences (like never having to run out to the store because you ran out of diapers or wipes) and having to do one load of laundry every 2-3 days isn't a big deal.  We do use disposable diapers sometimes when out and about, on the rare occasion that we run out of cloth before a load of laundry is done, and with the babysitter, but all-in-all we've still come out financially ahead, even considering the cost of water and detergent.  I won't say that we've saved much money, but I'm convinced that the savings of cloth diapers is dependent on the number of children that use them.  The only thing we'll have to pay for with baby #2 is water & detergent, and that's way cheaper than another whole round of disposable.

I'm making good use of my spring break and bought supplies to complete two DIYs this week.  I finished this one last night in about 5 minutes (seriously):

If you read the 30 Before 30 list I posted on my birthday, you know that one of my goals was to complete 48 crafts (which equals one per month for the next four years).  I'm so excited to have one crossed off the list (and hopefully another by the end of the week). Tutorial will be up tomorrow.

And this:

This is the best part of my life lately.