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Baby A’s Birth Story

Baby A was born November 30 at 9:06 a.m., weighing 8 lbs 3 oz and measuring about 20 inches long. He had an Apgar score of 9 at one minute and five minutes, and came into this world enveloped in love, excitement, and peace.

THE DAYS BEFORE

We woke up early on Sunday to take care of the last remaining household tasks we could get at – cleaning up the kitchen, making sure beds had fresh linens, and some basic sanitizing and scrubbing. We also had to pack for everyone because we had been up doing laundry until the night before, then pack up the car and make sure our cat sitter had the keys to our house and mailbox. It was an incredibly rushed morning and we still ended up leaving three hours later than we would have liked. M napped for about half the drive, and we thankfully hit clear weather the whole way through.

When we arrived in Winnipeg we went right to the hotel and found out that the free upgrade we’d earned for sharing our reservation on social media was very much a HUGE upgrade – from a basic queen room to a full suite! Having our sleeping space separate from the living and eating area was perfect with a toddler in tow, and we made good use of having a dining table. We ordered food in that night, and I went to bed early while Mac Daddy and a very-wired M stayed up in the living room watching TV.

The next morning Mac Daddy had to do some troubleshooting. We’d realized we’d forgotten M’s luggage at home the night before, meaning she had absolutely no clothing. He headed off to the mall and got her a new wardrobe, which was an unwanted expense, but necessary given that we were going to be in town for a week. She also scored a Paw Patrol suitcase out of it so she was quite thrilled. When he got back we grabbed lunch at the hotel, then they went swimming while I snuck in another nap. My mom and her fiancé showed up in the early evening, having road tripped through the States, and we all went out for dinner before bed.

Processed with VSCO with x4 preset

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12 Sites to Buy Christmas Cards

I started sending Christmas cards about 7 years ago, and in the beginning I sent them from my dog, Mason, dressed in silly Christmas doggy outfits. Now, I schedule time with a photographer and get some cute Christmas photos done of the kids. I love the process of finding the best card and I love and sending them out to family and friends. We are quickly approaching the ideal time to send out Christmas or Holiday cards, so I’ve rounded up some options. Many of them have sales going on right now!

1) Shutterfly –  Shutterfly has a ton of great options to choose from. The prices range as well, from really affordable, to relatively extravagant. There are options on card shape, size, and finish (matte or glossy). There is a super cool feature that you can ask the system to upload and fill in the cards with the photo or photos you’ve chosen for your card. All the options then come up with your photo in them, which makes choosing them even easier. There are also options for the envelopes — you can get very plain standard envelopes, or you can upgrade them to lined envelopes. Lastly, you can have Shutterfly address you envelopes for you, which is a huge time saver. An added bonus is that you can almost always use codes for discounts.

shutterfly
 Shutterfly

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Making the holidays my own

I loved the holidays when I was a kid. Although my mom raised me mostly by herself, she did have a long-term boyfriend when I was little. I remember spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with him and/or his extended family. It was great – exactly like the families I saw on TV or the ones my friends were a part of. After they broke up, my mom and I moved in with my aunt and my 3 teenage cousins. Thanksgiving still felt largely the same to me, although my cousins were usually busy with their lives to spend too much time with me. Christmas was slightly different, as my aunt is Jewish, but I enjoyed learning about Hanukkah and still felt very surrounded by family.

Things felt different when my mom and I moved into our own place when I was a teenager. We didn’t cook the traditional Thanksgiving feast because it was just the two of us, with the occasional visit from my aunt, and we didn’t really have any other traditions to fall back on. I remember thinking it was a holiday meant for big families and people who loved football. Mostly I just waited for the day to pass, like any other. Christmas was also odd. My mom and I would sit together and exchange presents – which was kind of one-sided those days (sorry, Mom!). We would order Chinese food and sometimes watch classic Christmas movies on TV, but I remember wishing that there was more to the day.

In college, I started a long-term relationship with a guy who had a large Portuguese family. I tried to angle myself to spend as much time as I could with them during the holidays. They had the huge Thanksgiving meal and the large get-togethers under the Christmas tree that I had always pictured and longed for. Their family was loud and fun and always did things together. I spent time with my mom at our house for each holiday, but selfishly (oh so, so selfishly) wanted to be a part of something more.

It wasn’t really until I started dating Mr. Oyster that I began to realize how differently all families celebrate the holidays. His big (huge, by my standards) family all gathered at his grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve for everyone to exchange presents, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. The first year that I was invited, I surprised myself by stating that I would go,  but that I had to spend Christmas morning at my mom’s house. So Mr. Oyster and I ended up spending Christmas Eve driving from his family’s party to my mom’s house, about an hour and a half away, so that we could wake up with her to open presents.

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Fiona’s Cake Smash

A little late (life as the third child), but I finally got around to doing Fiona’s cake smash at 15 months. I had planned on doing it sooner, but it was hard in the summer with both Drake and Juliet around and once school started, it took us a little while to get into the new routine. But better late than never I suppose.

I blogged about Juliet’s cake smash which I did in almost the same spot, and to see the difference in my photography has made me see how much I have progressed in my journey. I made the flowers in the backdrop using this tutorial from another photographer. I might in the future try to fill the whole wall and see how that looks. For her part, Fiona had a blast and it shows in the photos!

Cake Smash
Cake Smash 1

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12 New(ish) Picture Books We’re Really Excited About!

We’re always on the lookout for book recommendations and I keep a running list of books that we want to purchase or try to find at the library. There have been some great new releases (and upcoming releases) that I’m really excited about. Most of these aren’t available at our library, so I may have to bite the bullet and purchase some of them because I’m so eager to get my hands on them! These books fall into one (or more) of three categories: they cover a subject I’m interested in, have gorgeous illustrations, or are very unique. There is one caveat: I haven’t actually read or seen any of these books firsthand, but have only read reviews or seen pictures online.

12-New-Picture-Books

Imagine a World – This one was released last year and is the latest in a series that includes Imagine a Night, Imagine a Day and Imagine a Place. I loved the first two in the series and would imagine that the latter two are just as magically illustrated. These books feature illusion and magical realism, though perhaps is geared for older children. I first encountered these books as an adult and loved them immediately, so they’re not just for children!

A is for Activist – This book is already out in board book form, but is being released as a picture book soon. I love this unique take on an ABC book and this one covers a lot of the issues that Mr. Dolphin and I strongly believe in, focusing on community, equality, and justice.

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7 Ways to Make a Difference with Your Kids During the Holidays

I’ve been quiet here for the past few weeks as I’ve absorbed what is going on in the world and attempted to integrate what has happened since Election Day with my understanding of the world around me. I don’t assume that every US citizen reading this blog voted the same way I did or that our beliefs and values line up perfectly, but from my point of view there are some terrifying and bewildering things happening in American and global politics at the moment.

After an intense two weeks of throwing myself into online progressive groups, making phone calls to my representatives, donating to progressive organizations, and even attending a rally, I decided to take a step back and take some time to take care of myself and my family. Now that it is December, I’m ready for the next phase, which is to incorporate my values more fully into my life (which is a goal I had for 2016 anyway), and that includes finding ways to create something positive in the world with my Mr. Cotton Candy and Little Cotton Candy. Here are a few ways we are trying to give a little to the world and out community this holiday season.

1. Donate toys to children in need. There are so many options for donating toys to families in need. In Austin we have the Blue Santa Parade, which takes place downtown. You get to watch a fun holiday-themed parade, and at the end, the kids get to hand their toy donations to the organizers, so they get to feel like a part of the action. There’s always the Salvation Army Angel Tree; we plan on going to our local mall to adopt an angel or two. Finally, there are smaller organizations that collect toys for children living in shelters and/or refugee children. We have found ways to donate through Little Cotton Candy’s preschool.

2. Donate bedding, kitchenware, books to shelters. Continuing in the spirit of giving, we have also donated gently used and new items to a local shelter that houses immigrants and asylum seekers. Again, we were able to organize the donation drive through Little Cotton Candy’s preschool, which made it so easy for us.

3. Donate money to organizations we care about. We have donated money to Planned Parenthood, and we plan on making another donation this December to another organization that is close to our hearts. The ultimate plan is to continue with monthly donations throughout 2017. This may not be something Little CC, at age four, understands yet, but I do plan on talking to him about donating money as part of a larger conversation with him about helping others and giving back.

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Parts of a Christmas Tree Printable 3-Part Cards

Parts Of A Christmas Tree Printable 3-Part Cards

Want to help your kids with their vocabulary while they enjoy some Christmas matching? Print out a set of these Montessori-inspired cards and watch them learn to read the words that describe the parts of a Christmas tree!

In Montessori classrooms, 3-part cards (also known as nomenclature cards) are common. They teach children to identify elements of an object or animal, along with the words that go with them. They are best for kids who are starting to read, but that doesn’t mean they need to be able to read the words on the cards. In fact, even younger children can learn to match the words as though they are pictures.

Print the Cards on Card Stock

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