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Iris Is Home! Reflections On Her 6 Weeks In The Hospital...

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Exactly 6 weeks after her birth, at 36 weeks and 2 days, our little Iris was discharged from the hospital. The last 6 weeks evoked that familiar sentiment of something simultaneously flying by and feeling like forever. In reflection, there were many chapters in this brief period of our lives. So many emotional ups and downs, so many lessons learned.

There was the beginning, the birth that all happened so fast, the fear, the shock, the immense gratitude that everything went as well as it possibly could have.

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10 Math Toys for Pre-Schoolers

Drake has always liked numbers, counting and now adding and subtracting. These skills are obviously important as he grows, and I'm glad that he has a keen interest in numbers and math at his young age (since clearly he didn't inherit these traits from his mom). I want him to see math and learning as fun; it might not always be possible, but at his age everything can be exciting. I wanted to find some toys that encouraged math development while still engaging his young pre-school mind. This is what I found:

1) Inchimals - I have been eyeing this toy for some time now, and I think this Christmas Drake might be getting it courtesy of his grandmother. Drake has been very interested in the idea of size and measurement these days; he asks how tall things are and compares his height to things. Inchimals are small rulers with different animals depicted on each one, which of course helps my cause since Drake is 100% animal crazy. I have read reviews where children use the rulers to measure everything, as well as add the rulers together and work on addition.

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Introducing Your Dogs to Your Baby

Oh, dogs and babies. As an expectant parent, it was one of my biggest stresses - how will our dogs do with the baby? How should we introduce the dogs to him? What if they hate each other? What if the dogs love him TOO much?

(Jackson insists on being outside anytime the dogs are!)

We have three dogs and we had a lot of worries when it came to our dogs and bringing a baby home. Our dogs are super spoiled and were our only babies for a long time (we've had our oldest dog for five years), and they were all very used to being our primary focus when we're at home. Lots of cuddles, lots of play time, and they pretty much never got ignored.

Until this little guy joined the family. And then? They had to come to a pretty quick realization that they weren't the most important things in our lives anymore. For the first couple of months with Jackson, it was almost impossible to give them any attention. We were so focused on him and figuring out our new normal that everything else flew out the window. Now that we've settled into a good routine, the dogs get much more love than they were getting, but they still aren't quite as prioritized as they used to be.

When I was pregnant, we were pretty sure we knew exactly how the dogs would react. We discussed it extensively and we figured that we only really had to worry about one of our big dogs who has a lot of anxiety issues, and that the other two would love the baby instantly. We were right about one of the dogs - he immediately fell in love with Jackson and couldn't spend enough time near him. From the day we brought him home, he had to be right next to the person who is holding Jackson, and if Jackson was on the floor, he was down there with him. He loves to lick his face and sleep next to him, and I honestly think he'd sleep in his crib with him at night if we let him.

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DIY Coasters

Several years ago I made a set of these awesome coasters, and I have been so impressed with how they have stood up over time. This year, my church small group has made about 30 sets of these to sell for charity, and since I feel like quite the expert now I thought I would share! Believe it or not these are really easy and inexpensive, but they make an awesome gift for the holidays!

Materials

  • Mod Podge - You don't need a ton of this. If you are only buying it for this project, get the smallest size bottle.
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • 4 inch White Tiles - I purchased these for 16 cents each at Lowes. They can be found in the section with the bathroom tiles.
  • Felt Circles (self sticking dots work great!)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrush

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Chatbooks Photobook Review

I kept seeing Chatbooks, a photobook printing service, pop up in my Instagram feed and finally decided to order some for myself. I've been using it for a couple of months now to print my Instagram pictures and wanted to write a review. I love its ease and affordability, and I'd probably never get around to printing pictures otherwise!

I N S T A G R A M  S E R I E S

First you have to download the Chatbooks app (there is no desktop interface). Once it's downloaded, open up the app and decide which of the three types of Chatbooks you'd like to create. If you want to print all your Instagram pictures at once, it's easiest to use the "Instagram Series" feature which will automatically suck all your images into the Chatbooks app. Your pictures appear chronologically and you cannot edit the order. Each book is $6 and 60 pages, and you have the option to purchase them all at once or spread them out. 

Chatbooks is an ongoing printing service -- once you reach 60 images, they send you an email giving you a 3 day window to make any edits to your latest book. You can select a title, the cover photo, delete images, and show/hide captions, locations, date, and time.

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DIY Cork "Gingerbread" Ornaments with Homemade Puffy Paint

by: Mina of Mini Piccolini

I love the look of gingerbread ornaments, so when I found some flat pieces of cork in my craft box, I knew I wanted to make “gingerbread” ornaments with them. It’s a really easy project and I like the idea of making gingerbread ornaments that will keep for years to come.

"God Jul" is Merry Christmas in Swedish

I used homemade puffy paint to decorate my ornaments. Though small children would need help to cut out the ornaments, kids of all ages would love decorating these with puffy paint. Too fun! 

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Pregnancy Leg Cramps

Those stabbing calf pains that wake you up at 2:00 a.m.? One of the not so fun parts of pregnancy. I thought I knew what leg cramps felt like -- until I hit the third trimester. It’s not a dull ache or general soreness, but an OMGWHATISHAPPENING sensation when you panic, suddenly realizing you can’t flex your foot because your calf muscle has  gone rigid.

I’d always assumed that pregnancy leg cramps were a sign of dehydration or maybe because I needed to eat another banana, but it turns out that there’s no real consensus on what causes them. According to the March of Dimes, doctors cite a variety of potential causes for pregnancy leg cramps, including changes in blood circulation, stress on leg muscles from carrying around extra weight, and/or the increased pressure applied to blood vessels and nerves by a growing baby.

So how can you prevent leg cramps during pregnancy?

  • Take magnesium supplements. There isn’t much evidence to support calcium or sodium supplements, as previously recommended, but growing research suggests that a magnesium supplement might be beneficial. One study of women who took an oral magnesium supplement indicated a significant reduction in both intensity and frequency of leg cramps during pregnancy compared to a control group (Supakatisant and Phupong 2012). The women in the study took 300 mg of magnesium bisglycinate chelate daily and saw a 50% improvement in their leg cramps. Obviously, this is an ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST recommendation, but it’s worth checking into if your leg cramps are killing you.
  • Stretch before bed. Try a “runner’s stretch” or a “standing calf stretch” before bedtime. The runner’s stretch looks like this. Hold it for 30 seconds on each side, being careful to keep your feet parallel. Also, avoid pointing your toes - while stretching or at bed at night.
  • Drink more water. Even though dehydration isn’t a specific cause of pregnancy leg cramps, staying well hydrated can still help ward off the pain (Mayo Clinic). The general recommendation is that pregnant women should drink 8-10 8 oz glasses of water per day. If you’re unsure about your hydration level, you can always reference this helpful urine color chart from the Cleveland Clinic.

How can you find relief when a leg cramp does strike in the middle of the night?

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