Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bookroo Take Two

I am super passionate about helping my children develop a love of reading.

Loving books means that my kids can experience an amazing world of learning and exploration. Books and stories fill a child's mind with knowledge and help develop literacy skills and language development. Reading stimulates imagination and play, curiosity and discussion. Books provide inspiration, thoughts, and reflections. Pictures help readers develop an appreciation for art. A love of reading is a stepping stone to becoming an enthusiastic learner and a confident reader, writer, and speaker. Sitting down with a book also provides us with a time for quiet and calmness in our busy lives. 

I first learned about Bookroo when Ryder was only a year old. They believe, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did, that: 

"It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own."

Bookroo's mission is to enable and empower parents to build their children's book collections in an affordable and exciting way through curated monthly book deliveries. They believe in the power and impact of the written word in the life of a child, and believe it's never too early to start reading to children. 

Obviously, I was hooked.

Ryder still absolutely loves books, but he's passed on most of his board books to baby sister Kiley and has moved on to big boy stories. His latest delivery from Bookroo included The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon by A. N. Kang and The Spelling Bee Before Recess by Deborah Lee Rose. Since it's the holiday season, their classic adorable wrapping paper had a Christmas theme, and Ryder was especially excited to open up some early presents.

Bookroo is an adorable little subscription service, and a family-run business. Give it a try!

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DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a free subscription box in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by Bookroo and/or its affiliates in any way.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gobble Gobble

"Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, let these gifts to us be blessed."

That is the blessing that my Grandpa said from the head of the table at every family meal we ever shared together. This was our first Thanksgiving without him and Grandma, and although it was bittersweet, I am still reminded that we have so much to be thankful for. 

Despite the loss of two family members, we were also graced with the addition of both Kiley and Kinley this year. And as we each experienced and processed our grief, we were reminded by an outpouring of support and love that we remain surrounded by a vast community of family and friends.

I have also learned that the close relationship I had with my grandparents was incredibly rare and special. And although that made the subsequent heartbreak of their loss almost unbearable, I am so thankful that I had so many wonderful years with them.

We spent Thanksgiving this year at my parents' new house, where my grandparents lived for more than 50 years. It was wonderful to come back there again and spend the holiday together as a family. I think it would have made Grandpa and Grandma very happy. 

My sister Erin volunteered to be in charge of the menu and cooking this year, and she did a fantastic job!

I was in charge of desserts, which included Grandma's classic — jello with marshmallows. 

I also made a heroic attempt at her famous blueberry pie... but unfortunately it didn't really turn out. I'll keep practicing!

Getchman ladies in the kitchen. It's changed a bit, but it's still the same space where Grandma prepared us so many delicious meals.

Ryder also starred in a pretty fantastic preschool Thanksgiving program... What a cute little turkey!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with food, family, and friends, and that the coming year brings joy and laughter for all.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Mom Hair Problems

Having kids has really done a number on my body, in both expected and surprising ways. 

When I was pregnant with Ryder a few years ago, I watched in fascination as I began to grow an almost entirely new hairline. Then, instead of experiencing the more typical postpartum hair loss I had heard my Mom Friends complaining about, my previously straight, smooth, slinky hair began to change dramatically. It started to grow in dark, thick, wiry, and wavy. It was also dry, brittle, and didn't seem to react the same way to my usual color treatments anymore. My second pregnancy only exacerbated the situation, and since Kiley was born almost a year ago I've been so frustrated with my hair that I pretty much just throw it up into a messy mom bun every morning in exasperation.

Additionally, two kids is no freaking joke, and the days of pampering myself with daily hair washings are definitely over. I'm lucky if I wash my hair even twice a week. And although I know that shampooing one's hair less frequently is generally healthier for it overall, I've found that weather and hormonal changes combined with dirty hair, hairspray, and dry shampoo make my scalp itch and my hair feel generally yucky all around.

Despite an overwhelming urge to just give up and give in to a Britney Spears style head shave, I have continued on my mission to find solutions and hopefully get at least some version of my pre-mom hair back. This included switching to an organic salon that uses the cleanest product lines available, and after six months I've really started to notice that my hair is responding well to their environmentally-friendly hair services and treatments. In the meantime, I've also been trying out a plethora of different organic hair care products.

So when Maple Holistics, a company that specializes in all-natural and cruelty-free personal care products, approached me about sampling their tea tree oil shampoo, I was excited to give it a whirl. My hair stylist had actually just been talking me to about the therapeutic benefits of natural tea tree oil to help with my itchy scalp, so the timing was perfect.

According to the website, this shampoo can improve hair and scalp health while promoting hair growth and even slowing hair loss. Known for its antiseptic properties and ability to treat wounds, tea tree oil is apparently capable of doing wondrous things when worked into a high-quality shampoo formula.

I was super excited to try it.

I really enjoyed the clean smell and smooth texture of the shampoo, which created a nice foamy lather that I let sit on my hair for 2-3 minutes, as instructed on the bottle. After rinsing, I finished off with my regular organic conditioner. So far, two days later, my hair feels soft and my previously irritated scalp is moisturized and dandruff free!

I'm definitely using this stuff again.  

If you are interested in trying any products from Maple Holistics, please visit their website for free natural product samples. The program gives you the opportunity to try out products at no cost.

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DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by Maple Holistics and/or its affiliates in any way.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dear Kiley... Nine Months

Dear Kiley,

Here we are again, with another month having gone by in the blink of an eye.

It was nice to have a relatively quiet, calm, routine month where we didn't have any big trips or terrible sicknesses to deal with. Grandpa Russ came to visit us for a week, and on October 18 we left you for the first time with a babysitter who wasn't a family member while Daddy and I went to a work event. You were a very good girl and were sleeping soundly in your bed when we got home. I was sad to have missed our usual bedtime cuddles, but relieved that you had a good evening.

We spent one weekend at Nana and Papa's house while Daddy played in a pickle ball tournament (he took home the gold!) and visited again a couple weeks later for Nana's birthday party. 

You love hanging out at Nana and Papa's house, partly because you get to spend time with your cousin, Kinley, who is only six months younger than you. 

That yellow high chair actually belonged to Papa when he was a baby!

You attended your good friend Caleb's first birthday party in October, and you got dressed up all fancy for the occasion. 

At the party you socialized with your friends and showed quite a bit of interest in Daddy's adult beverages.

We celebrated your very first Halloween!

You went with us to a costume party at Ryder's preschool, although you slept the whole time in the front pack. 

At home, we carved pumpkins for the first time.

And you dressed up as an adorable ladybug for the actual holiday.

We joined Daddy and Ryder for a walk around the block while they Trick or Treated, but since it was kind of chilly, you and I were happy to head back early and hand out candy to the rest of the kiddos.

Daddy hosted a Turkey Bowl football game in early November, and we went and watched for a while until it started raining. 

Back at home, you were the life of the party in the midst of the action with all of your little friends. You sure are social!

At night you sleep in a Pack 'n' Play in our room next to our bed.

We've had you in the raised bassinet insert, but recently realized that it's not safe anymore, and that it's definitely time to lower you down...

You are sleeping a little bit better, but you still wake up several times every night to nurse and be rocked back to sleep. You clearly want to cuddle and don't prefer sleeping alone, so sometimes I'll bring you back into our bed to sleep. Unfortunately, no matter how you sleep during the night or what time you go to bed, you also consistently wake up super early in the morning, sometimes around 4:00 AM, and refuse to go back down. I have to admit I really don't appreciate this very much... 

Naps are still not going well. You're chronically exhausted, but you still will only nap while being held or in the car.

I wish we could help you understand that if you'd just sleep you'd feel so much better!

You have graduated from your baby bath tub to The Duck Bath, and you are now the fourth family member to use it, following cousins Sophia and Aubrey and big brother Ryder. Kids just love that thing!

Some of your favorite foods these days include Cheerios, puffs, teething biscuits, pear and sweet potato baby food.

Although the opportunities are getting fewer and further between as the days get shorter and the weather turns, you still love getting outside whenever we can. 

You're sitting up confidently all on your own now, and we're no longer constantly paranoid that you're going to tip over and bonk your head, which is a nice change.

So far you haven't shown much interest in crawling, but I have a feeling that it's right around the corner...

You still love playing with your brother, and the two of you are spending much more quality time together now that you've become so much more interactive.

Although lack of sleep makes you fussy, your general personality has remained sweet and happy. 

You love to laugh and babble, and it's such a joy to watch as you enthusiastically discover the world. I love to cuddle and squish you and just breathe in your sweet baby-ness. I love nuzzling your neck and blowing on your belly to make you squeal. I love petting your silly fuzzy hair and kissing your round rosy cheeks. I literally can't get enough of you, maybe because I know that as each day passes, you'll need me less and less.  

Don't grow up too fast, little girl!