Friday, January 29, 2016

Five on Friday

I haven't felt like blogging lately. At all. I've been completely disinterested, uninspired, and consumed by a lack of motivation. Which then results in feelings of guilt and shame. Therefore, I am writing a quick Five on Friday post in the hopes that it will alleviate some of the weight I feel on my shoulders due to my lazy lack of posts recently.


Important announcement: Shelfari is merging with Goodreads. For the past few years, Amazon has supported two online communities that help readers find new books and share their reading. As a huge book nerd, I love using Shelfari to track my reading goals, progress, and recommendations. And I've always much preferred the format of Shelfari to Goodreads, although I did create profiles on each. Now, sadly, Shelfari is going away for good, and I had to spend an entire evening this week transferring all my data over to Goodreads.   


I figured out how to enable Guided Access on my iPhone, and it's pretty much changed my life. Guided Access limits your device to a single app, and lets you control which app features are available. What this means for me is that I can now let Ryder use the PBS Kids app to his heart's content without having to watch him like a hawk to make sure that he doesn't delete half of my apps or Facetime my exes.  


I might be crazy, but I signed up for the Ragnar Relay Series Northwest Passage as part of a team with my co-workers. Our relay team will start near the Canadian border in the city of Blaine, WA and then we will run relay style from point to point as we experience the iconic sights of the Pacific Northwest. We will cover 200 miles of running! Each team member runs three legs covering between 3 and 9 miles at a stretch. Needless to say, I have some major training to do before July... 


Forbes recently published a super interesting article about 15 things productive people do differently. I tend to think of myself as a very organized, productive, efficient person. However, this article really made me re-think some of my habits and activities. I definitely need to incorporate some of these secrets into my daily routines!


I've been super successful this month with diet and exercise! I've been eating mostly carb and sugar free, and I've managed to fit in a workout at least six days a week. It's been exhausting, but a great reminder that there is always time to fit in some sort of a workout every day. And also that it's not really that hard to say no to all those extra sweets. (Actually it is, but that's what I tell myself...)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Club: Those Who Save Us

Finally... a decent book!

I believe this was a pick from my office book club, and I'm finally getting around to it months and months later. But I'm so glad that I decided to read it!

Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum, is (in a nutshell) a mother/daughter drama about World War II. 

It approaches the Holocaust from a very unique angle: the German perspective, which I thought this was incredibly risky on Blum's part. But she managed to turn it into an extremely compelling story, and I was intrigued right from the start. 

"For 50 years, Anna has refused to talk about her life in Germany during WWII. Her daughter, Trudy, was only 3 when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer.

Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating her past, and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life."

Passion, a doomed love story, life during the war, mother/daughter drama... this book had it all. It seamlessly integrates stories from two different time periods being experienced by two different women. I do admit I was usually anxious to get back to Anna's story during the war, but Blum also created interesting twists and turns in Trudy's story, as she searches for answers and love in the modern world. 

As someone with German heritage, I found myself thinking a lot about how people still perceive Germans who were involved in the Holocaust. This book provided an interesting, unique, and personal perspective of a woman and her child who lived and suffered through a war that they had no wish to be a part of. Unfortunately, this meant utilizing wartime survival tactics that ended up haunting them for the rest of their lives.

Those Who Save Us had excellent characterization, and seemed to be fairly historically accurate. I thought it was touching without being sappy, and I think Blum took a bold step in putting out such a unique World War II perspective. 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Club: Baby Resources

I spent so much time researching healthy pregnancy habits and preparing for the birth of our first child that I completely forgot to get ready for life after his imminent arrival. This meant that I had a lot of reading to do once we got home from the hospital. You'd think maternity leave meant that I had tons of spare time on my hands, but it's absolutely mind boggling how quickly a day with an infant can go by without even a moment to shower.

That being said, I did eventually find time for some informational reading about how to raise a tiny human without screwing them up completely. I shall share that knowledge with you here...

Alway Family recommended reading for 
surviving the first year with a brand new baby:

What to Expect the First Year
by Heidi Murkoff

This book was my bible. There's a reason why it's the world's best-selling, best-loved guide to the instructions that babies don't come with (but should). I loved the month-by-month format, because it allowed me to take the overwhelming first year just one month (and a few pages) at a time. I kept it next to my bed and read little tidbits whenever I had the energy to keep my eyes open for a few minutes before passing out cold — until my little demon baby inevitably awakened me just a few short hours (or minutes) later.

Super Baby Food
by Ruth Yaron

I started reading this book while I was sitting in the closet pumping at work. I had dreamy ideas of becoming a hippie mom who only fed her child homemade, all-natural, organic baby foods. Had that actually happened, this book would have been an incredible resource. As it stands, my kid eats mac 'n' cheese and goldfish alongside his organic blueberries — so I guess we made it halfway. The book is still contains fantastic recommendations on what, when and how to feed your baby and toddler, even if you don't have the time or energy to commit to making your own baby food.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution
by Elizabeth Pantley

This is a book about gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night. Ryder has always been a crappy sleeper, literally since the night he was born. We went through months of agony deciding how we wanted to deal with the situation — the hotly debated "cry it out" technique, or the "grin-and-bear-it" solution of getting up from dusk until dawn as often as necessary. After I read an article that left me in tears and validated all my basic instincts regarding motherhood, we decided against the "cry it out" method and I went in search of other options. This book offered clearly explained, step-by-step ideas to steer our precious little one toward a good night's sleep — all with no crying.

The Gentle Sleep Book
by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Along the same lines, this is a gentle, evidence-based approach that doesn't involve "cry it out." It examines everything from frequent night waking in babyhood through bed wetting in toddlerhood to nightmares and refusal to go to bed in preschool — all without leaving a baby to cry or shutting a sobbing child in their bedroom. It's filled with extensive scientific and anecdotal information, plus plenty of gentle suggestions that help the whole family get a good night's sleep.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
by Marc Weissbluth

I loved this book's philosophy that "the most important thing is to have a well-rested family." It basically offers a middle ground between severe extinction methods of "cry it out" and attachment parenting. It presents evidence-based knowledge and experiences that offer helpful advice and information about a child's natural sleep patterns. However, the book does still present what are essentially "cry it out" methods. And since I vehemently disagree with this option, I personally recommend some of the previous books I mentioned much more highly than this one.

The following are NOT recommended 
by the Alway Family:

Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems
by Richard Ferber

Please, do not "Ferberize" your child! I bought this book at a garage sale after someone assured me that it was the only reliable sleep-training method. However, Richard Ferber's "extinction method" of ending a child's instinctive cues for attention (popularized more than 30 years ago) has since been shown to be dangerous and damaging. A recent piece in Psychology Today outlines the dangers of "crying it out," which include a stress-released toxic hormone that kills brain cells, among others. Studies out of Harvard, Yale, Baylor and other prestigious institutions also show that this destroying of baby brain cells can lead to a higher probability of ADHD, poor academic performance, and anti-social tendencies. Ironically, even Dr. Ferber himself is reexamining his original theories, which the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against because they increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). So although I didn't actually read this book (and plan to throw it away, rather than donate it and further spread this dangerous madness), I strongly advise against it.

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
by Gary Ezzo

Please, don't try to become "Baby Wise." I stupidly bought this book when I was 38 weeks pregnant at the recommendation of a strange man on the bus. I blame pregnancy hormones. In any case, I did actually read it in a moment of sleep-deprived desperation. The book presents an extremely rigid, unnatural feeding and sleep program that really seemed to go against my basic instincts as a parent, so I ultimately decided it. Thank god, because I subsequently learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics has linked the Baby Wise method with failure to thrive, poor weight gain, dehydration, breast milk supply failure, and involuntary early weaning in infants. The advice found in the book is in direct opposition to the latest AAP, WHO, and La Leche League recommendations on newborn feeding. It also contains many examples of unsubstantiated "medical" claims. This is another one for the trash; I strongly advise against it.

And just to clarify...

The intent of this post is not to criticize any decisions other parents have made, or the resources they have used. Stewart and I have labored over every single choice related to our son. Each one has required extensive research, soul-searching, and the counsel of trusted loved ones. We embrace the opportunity to share some of the information that we've gathered, but we recognize that what worked for our family may not be right for yours.

We're all just trying to figure it out, right?!

What are some of your favorite baby resources?

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Five on Friday

Happy Blue Friday, friends!

After a lot of photo-heavy posts over the holidays, I thought I'd share some random, mindless little tidbits today. 


The Seahawks play off against the Vikings on Sunday in record-breaking cold temperatures — zero degrees or below. Luckily, quarterback Russell Wilson says he doesn't anticipate it being a problem. Also, Marshawn Lynch is expected to be back in action after undergoing abdominal surgery late in November and missing the seven final games of the regular season. I wonder... at what temperature do Skittles freeze?  


Staying with Seattle sports, Ken Griffey Jr. was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday with a record-breaking 99.32% of the vote. Griffey will wear his Mariners hat for the induction, despite his departure from Seattle in 2000 (and unlike his jerky, ungrateful former teammate Randy Johnson). We take our loyalties very serious out here, donchaknow? 


The first Fuller House photos have been released! As a die-hard Full House fan when I was growing up in the '80s, I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Netflix has reunited the Tanner family in a new series releasing on February 26. Almost all of the original cast will be back, except the Olsen twins, who I have now written off for their lack of participation (because loyalty, duh — see above). 


On a personal note, you can officially chalk me up as one of those annoying people who is back on the diet and exercise bandwagon after gluttonously gaining a disgustingly excessive amount of chub over the holidays. It's going okay so far — I've managed to work out every day this week before work, and I haven't touched a single carb. I'm exhausted, cranky, and starving... but I'm already starting to see results.


Were you aware that I nerd out and read the science news every single day? #truth 
And did you know that scientists recently discovered the 1,000th exoplanet? They have also added another 554 candidates to the roll of potential planets, six of which are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of stars similar to our sun. I am incredibly fascinated by all of the possibilities that our universe offers. Seriously, check out NASA's Instagram feed it will blow your mind.

And there you have it: Five random tidbits to start off your Friday!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone...

Don't forget to catch the Hawks game on Sunday!

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Christmas v2.0

Oh, did you think Christmas was over? 

Not around these parts!

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with the Alway family, and it was yet another round of family, food, and fantastic gifts.

It was Christmas morning all over again for Ryder as we woke up to a beautiful Christmas tree surrounded by beautifully packaged gifts.

My in-laws got Ryder an amazing ridable pirate ship complete with a telescope, sound effects, and a "Shiver Me Letters" pirate ABC book. I think it was one of his favorite presents this year.
And of course Russ got his favorite... 
Everyone got super fun, generous gifts, and it was so awesome to have yet another Christmas!

Patty prepared one of the yummier brunches I've ever had (tater tot breakfast casserole, y'all!) complete with mimosas, of course. 

The rest of the day we got to spend lounging around, relaxing, catching up, and watching the Ducks game (although that didn't turn out quite as anticipated). 

We had a long, late drive home on Saturday night, but it was totally worth it to be able to spend Christmas with the Alway family.

Our holiday season really did seem to go on and on this year, and it's bittersweet to have things officially come to a close.

But we're looking forward to getting back into a normal, healthy routine again, and hope that 2016 brings us even more laughter and love than ever.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Cheers to the New Year

"We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne."

Does anyone even really know what that song means? I didn't, so I took it upon myself to find out. 

Auld Lang Syne is traditionally sung at the stroke of midnight each New Year's Eve. The lyrics refer to raising a glass for good will, friendship, and kind regards as we celebrate a happy New Year. The Scottish "auld lang syne" can technically be translated into standard English as "old long since," or "long long ago," "days gone by," or "old times."

So farewell to the old days, my friends, and cheers to a happy New Year!

We don't typically get to celebrate Christmas with my sister Nichole's family, but this year our schedules magically worked out so that we could spend New Year's together. I absolutely love any opportunity to get Ryder together with his cousins, and spending time with my sister is one of my favorite things ever, so this was definitely a fantastic way to ring in the New Year.

And because we hadn't exchanged gifts yet, it was like Christmas all over again!

The kiddos were super stoked.

Unfortunately, Stew had to work New Year's Eve, but Ryder and I arrived at my parents' house with a few hours to spare before the ball dropped. After opening all our presents, we made s'mores and the kids had a parade until they totally exhausted themselves into sugar comas.

And miracle of miracles, the adults all somehow stayed awake until midnight to ring in the new year.

New Year's day was so much fun. We just hung out, ate yummy food, hung around and played games. Well, some of us did. It's pretty hard to stay awake and have fun when you stayed up past midnight the night before, you guys!!

"We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne."

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