Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflection of 2013



I am so ready to say good-bye to 2013. The truth to be told, it has not been a very great, or eventful year. I can go into details about what went wrong, or what I did not like about 2013...but, is it really worth dwelling on the bad? As much as I am looking forward to 2013 to be over, there are some things that I really have loved, and enjoyed being a part of, and it is better to remember those times. 

In May, we moved out of our tiny upstairs duplex apartment into a bigger duplex house. It was great to go from like 800 SQ. feet to 1,500 SQ feet with 3 floors (basement, first floor, and second floor), and it definitely accommodated to our expanding family! The best part was that we moved back to a town where Stu, and I first met in college. It was wonderful to close the circle in such a fun way. Our brood of pets also appreciated the larger space to run amok around, and to lounge in! 

In the summer months, we traveled, and visited our family. Stu, and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! Forrest got baptized in July by the same pastor, who married us, and it was a wonderful occasion. We attended a couple weddings as well! I took a lot of long summer walks with Forrest, and hiked a few times with him, and our dog. It was hard to believe that Forrest was ever that little!! 


I had a wonderful time doing monthly pictures of Forrest, and watching him grow up. I am constantly amazed by all the developmental milestones that he has achieved in a year! Forrest has grown from a little bean to a babbling, active toddler that loves to get into everything! With all amazing fests that Forrest accomplished, we learned shortly before Forrest's first birthday that he has a peanut allergy, and had to adapt to nut-free lifestyle. It is funny, because when we first found out--it was OMG big deal...and now it's like psh, it's a walk in the park! We celebrated Forrest's first birthday in August with a fun photo session with Michelle, and later, a big birthday bash with our family there! We really can't imagine what our lives are like before Forrest; he is really meant to be in our lives, and us to be his parents. 




In the fall months, we attended a lot of fun festivals, and activities such as September Fest, trick-n-treating, and fall festival. I had one of my best friends visit us for a week, and half! It was so GREAT to be able to catch up, and take a stroll down a memory lane. It was hard to believe that G, and I had been friends for nearly twenty-one years. With G, and Forrest, we took Layla to vet to be examined, and got her shots updated. It was when we learned that our Miss Layla was older than she was originally estimated by our first vet! She was estimated to be 8 years old instead of 6. It explained some of her grumpiness! We also learned that she needed an extensive dental cleaning, which was set for February-ish, to be done to have plague tartar removed from her teeth. 



As the weather turned cold, we bulked up to stay warm, and visited family for Christmas. We traveled A LOT, and racked up my Jeep mileage. It was so wonderful to kick back, and relax for Christmas. Fortunately, this brought Forrest, and I to the very last leg of holiday madness travelling. We definitely missed being at home, sleeping in our beds, and being back to our daily routine. It was worth seeing our family, and friends. 

Yes, 2013 may have been an uneventful year, but at least, we have a lot of wonderful memories to be put close to our hearts. Having said all this, I am looking forward to 2014! We have tons of weddings to stand up in, and attend. We have a few great things to look forward to, and can't announce about them just yet seeing that they aren't set in the stone. When it does happen, then I will definitely share! 

Have a wonderful time tonight, and do stay safe! 



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Among Christmas Madness

We are back home from our first leg of Christmas Madness, and I am quite exhausted from all the events that had transpired along with traveling. Among the huge piles of gifts, wrapping tissues, and papers; there is dirty clothes to be laundered, toys to be put away, projects to be sewn, kitchen appliances to be tested, and bags to be unpacked. Thankfully, I have until tomorrow evening to do it all, well, minus testing out the kitchen appliances. They have to wait until the holiday madness is OVER. 

We had a blast visiting my side of the family. The last two days had been the craziest part of Christmas. We visited, ate a lot of great food, opened amazing gifts, watched our boy open the gifts, gave gifts to our loved ones, and participated in a lot of holiday festiveness. Among the holiday festiveness, Stu, and I managed to go out on a date, the first one that we have had alone since Forrest was born, and it was great!

Forrest came to bed rather late on both nights, quite exhausted, and tuckered out. He was kind of underwhelmed by the unwrapping part of the gifts, and did not have much interest in that part. However, the gifts themselves? He loved them. He didn't understand why he got so many things, and was overwhelmed by number of toys he received, especially the mega-blocks, which ended up being one of his favorite gifts. 


Forrest had been trooper for the last two days with so many sights to be seen, and sounds to be heard. However, by the end of the second day, Forrest had enough, as the picture down below evidenced: 


So, yeah, little buddy had enough. 

This Christmas is a bit rather overwhelming for me as a parent. It is a good overwhelming feeling though! It is just that so many people wanted to see us, so many things to be done, and so many things that are being given, and received. I have never been so happy with how well everything had turned out. It is only the beginning, though. 

We are heading up north to the Farm to spend time with the Russ family. I wish we could stay a bit longer than just a weekend. That's what future visits are for though! On this upcoming Sunday, I have to go through the motion all over again with the laundry, cleaning, unpacking, then packing up once again to make a trek down back to my hometown, all because my sister is coming home for a visit from Texas! I absolutely cannot wait!

I am looking forward seeing my sister, and my soon-to-be brother in the law, then go dress shopping with my sister. It will be a blast!! 

So, I hope you had a really wonderful Christmas, and that things are winding down for you guys!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Going to Take A Break For Christmas


It is once this time of the year again. The craziness is just around the corner. I'm both excited, and dreading all the traveling we have to do in next two to three weeks. This Friday, our little man, and I are heading down to my hometown to spend a week-ish with my family for Christmas. I am quite excited to see my siblings, and family. It has been awhile since I have last seen them. It is only one bad thing about the distance is less time being spent with both sides of our family. 

Yesterday, Forrest, and I braved shopping for Christmas. It was not that bad seeing we went during non-busy hours, and people were at work. I managed to finally FINISH Christmas shopping for everybody! What an accomplishment. I had to pick up new wipers for the Jeep since the current wipers was going kind of bad, and not doing its job. I just didn't want to risk driving two hours with faulty wipers, especially with a little guy traveling with me, and I would rather be safe than sorry. 

Like I said, we are planning on leaving this Friday, and staying through Christmas, then returning home to quickly do laundry, clean up, drop off our gifts from my side of the family, and load up the Jeep with gifts for Stu's side of the family. Then we are heading out to go up to the Farm for a weekend. It should be fun! After the weekend is done, Forrest, and I are heading back home to go through the same cycle of laundry, cleaning, dropping off the gifts, and what not, then driving back to my hometown. Boy, I tell you, that's a lot of driving! I hope Forrest is able to handle all this driving. We will find out, won't we? 

I'm really looking forward to the second leg of the trip down to my hometown, because it means we get to dress shop for my sister's wedding! I am so excited to be a part of that special day for my sister, and help her find THE ONE. I am so looking forward to that. It's one of my favorite part of the wedding planning--to help the bride find her perfect dress, and be a part of that special celebration. 

It is so hard to believe that the New Year is on the verge of arriving soon! This year, Forrest, and I won't be spending New Year's Eve with Stu. He says that it is okay, and I am okay with it. You see, when you get older, celebrating New Year's is not really that big of a deal, and it is just another day. Sadly, I admit to this, but I went to bed before midnight last year, and I don't really remember what we did. Ha ha ha. Oh well! 

I may or may not be blogging much in the next few weeks. I will try to blog again right before New Year's, but no promise. Sometimes, when you are having a lot of fun, you don't want to sit down in front of the computer, and blog or check your social network pages. It is more important to spend those time with people you love. 

I just want to say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter's Solstice, and Happy Kwanzaa! Also, happy New Year's as well if I don't get a chance to say so before then! 

Stay safe, and have fun!!!  




Monday, December 16, 2013

What I Have In My Stash: Pocket Diapers

I have been diapering Forrest since he was 6-7 months old. Forrest is now almost year, and half old (where does the time go, really), and he is still wearing cloth diapers! I absolutely love cloth diapers, and it has saved us a lot of money in needing to buy disposable diapers. To this date, pocket diapers remain my favorite. I have about 6 different types in my stash right now.



TINY TUSH ELITE DIAPER

The first one I have is Tiny Tush Elite diaper that I picked up from a local cloth diaper store. I really like it a lot. It fits on Forrest very well especially around his waist. This is becoming one of my fast favorites, and I plan on picking up more of this eventually. I can't say much about long-term, because we only have had this for a few uses. It has held up well in the washing, and the pattern is fun (it reminds me of our college colors)! 

(I can't picture my own right now because it's dirty so I have to settle for a picture from internet)



BUMGENIUS 4.0 POCKET DIAPER

Bumgenius 4.0 Pocket diaper has held up for a long time. I really like it especially now Forrest is older. The color has not faded, and the insert works great. I only need one insert, and it holds up great. It wraps around Forrest's waist perfectly, and doesn't leave any marks. The PUL (elastic) is still in a great shape. Granted, I don't dry my diapers in the dryer machine, but rather hang them up. It does contribute to longevity of the PUL inside my cloth diapers. It isn't that super bulky, and has grown with Forrest very well. It's becoming one of my fast favorites for toddler diaper wear. 

It is funny because when Forrest was younger, I had no preference to Bumgenius 4.0, because it was super bulky on Forrest, and I found that I often used this for nap-time. Today, I find that I prefer this for anytime, because it's really nice. I am actually considering about investing more in this brand down the road. The only disadvantage is that they don't have a lot of fun solid colors.

Cost-wise, this is a bit expensive, and it ranges from $17 to $20, depending on where you purchase them from. I can really vouch that it LASTS a long time, is in great quality, and the customer service at Cottonbabies.com is great. This is made in US. So, the shipping won't take a long time if you order it online.



KAWAII 

I ordered Kawaii diapers because I wanted to try something different, and to figure out the overnight solution. I was unable to solve the wetting problem I had with cloth diapers for overnight, so I gave up on it, and decide to stick to using them for day-time only. Anyway, Kawaii was the cheapest in my lot (one cost only 8 dollars). Five of my Kawaiis lasted pretty long time, and held up well, however, one of them failed to stay up to their standard. The snap button broke off after only 3 uses. I was unhappy about it! Again, I didn't dry my covers in the drying machine, and I always snap them close before I tossed them in the washing machine. But for $8, what did I expect, really? It also didn't fit Forrest the best since they all came in varying size despite it being "one-size". Forrest ended up having marks on his waist, and around thighs from this brand. It didn't seem to bother Forrest, but I was not sure if it was that entirely comfortable for him.

Now, this is made in China factory, and there is no one set size standard for each cover. So each cover is slightly different in size. It's only one disadvantage to this. While a few of Kawaiis fits Forrest pretty well around the waist, there are also a couple that doesn't fit him that great, and I'm on the last 2 row of tabs for Forrest. 

This is not my favorite lot even though it's nice for cheap cloth diaper. The quality isn't terrible. Just that I'm not crazy about them. My only suggestion is that you should buy it from US retailer instead of straight from China--their customer service is AWFUL, and their website is a hot mess. To go with US retailer will make your life easier--I did go with US retailer, and the lady was super nice--she even offered to replace the one with broken snap at little cost. 



BLUEBERRY ONE SIZE

Blueberry is a diaper I also picked up from a local cloth diaper store. It's really nice...but, not my favorite either. The wrap-around is very short in length and I doubt this one will last us a long time, despite this being one-size diaper that is supposedly to "grow" with your toddler. I think the biggest pitfall is having a short length in flaps to wrap around the baby's waist, especially if you have a bigger baby, or toddler. The flap in the back tore a bit when I stuffed it. Believe me, I don't stuff it that hard, and I do take a good care of my diapers. So I am not very sure about its quality anymore. It is really cute, and soft on the inside, even after a few washes. It is not a diaper I would invest in, unless if I have a small toddler. Maybe it would be better for an infant (under a year old) instead of for a toddler. 




CHARLIE BANANA POCKET ONE SIZE 

Charlie Banana remains one of my favorite. I love the material. It lasts me a very long time. It is a slim fit, and doesn't give Forrest a big booty, even with it being doubled stuffed. The snaps are intact, and the material inside is soft after months, and months of Forrest wearing it. The only disadvantage to this is that after a long time of using this, the PUL on the top part where you wrap the diaper around the waist to snap on in the front start to fold inward. So it can be annoying. It's not terribly bad, or affects the look of diaper at all. It is just a quirk of mine to find this annoying. The PUL on the sides are still in a very great shape. 

This diaper brand is made in Hong Kong. While some people are iffy about diapers made in other countries, I can vouch for Charlie Banana's quality, and customer service. I ordered 6 diapers, and they arrived within a week! This brand is slightly expensive, and it is around $20 per diaper. I think it is worth the buy, and the quality is great. The consumer service is pretty swift, and nice. I don't have any complaint about them.

I prefer their solid colored diapers over patterned ones though. No real reason other than a personal preference! *Even though, I am on a look-out for a mustache diaper, and military designed diaper*



HAND-MADE CLOTH DIAPER (ONE SIZE)

I bought two hand-made cloth diapers from my friend, Sarah, and she did a fantastic job. The diapers remained a perfect fit on Forrest, and everything remained intact. The fabric did become a bit worn from repeated washing, and I found that I actually liked the worn look of it--more unique, I say. The stuffing was easy because the back was wide, which gave my hand better access to stuff the diaper (I think it was why Blueberry diaper flap tore a bit because the width was not wide enough to give my hand-arm room to stuff it). 

I hope to make my own cloth diapers down the road. If I do, then I may end up copying this style, since it has everything I really like. It is almost like Bumgenius 4.0 pocket diaper, so it is pretty sweet! 




Overall, I find that I love Charlie Bananas, Bumgenius 4.0, Tiny Tush Elite, and hand-made cloth diapers. I would be careful with certain hand-made cloth diapers, and what type it is, because I did buy AIO cloth diaper from Etsy seller...well, it turned out to be a pain in the butt. I could not get rid of the smell in it, and I can't add, or subtract the amount of inserts in that diaper. It is one of the reasons why I find that I prefer pocket diapers the most. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Life With A Toddler Is Never Boring.....

I am pretty sure that it is safe to say that Forrest is feeling much better. He still has moments where he just gets cranky for no real good reason. His molar teeth on the top are still emerging, and even at that, the worse is over. Now, I'm waiting for the bottom molars, and canine teeth to come in. Teething can be a tough gig. 

The other day, I was in bathroom for less than two minutes, and realized that it was way too quiet. Forrest was not in his customary places; his play-area, or on the sofa watching Sesame Street, and Layla was also a-missing. I walked around the first floor--we had recently taken down baby gates on the entire first floor seeing that Forrest has managed to get through one of the "gates"--and found conspirators in the dining room. 


Yep, Forrest had managed to take down a box of Cheerios, dumped it all over the floor, and tried to clean it up! Layla rejoiced at the sight of free food, and allowed her appetite take over her mind. The minute Forrest had realized that he had been caught, he grew very upset, and flipped a bird. I assured him that all was good, and vacuumed the mess.

I tell you, a life with a toddler is never boring!




Monday, December 9, 2013

Molars Can Suck It

This weekend was spent with a lot of cuddles, and watching classic Christmas movies. Initially, I planned on going to Dickens of Christmas over the weekend. I was planning on taking Forrest with me to the window display on Friday evening. However, with -4 weather chill, and Forrest acting a bit off; I decided it was not worth the trip, and stayed in. Well, there was next time, right? Forrest was not feeling awesome on Saturday. Stu was dealing with a mild case of a head cold, which I have dubbed as "end of the season coaching" crash, since he always seemed to get it every year when his busy schedule winded down. I decided to cancel my plan with my good friend, and her twins on that day for Christmas events since neither Forrest, and Stu were feeling awesome. 

On Sunday, Stu let me to sleep in since I allowed him to sleep in on Saturday. What a nice compromise, right? I woke up to find our little guy not wanting to do anything except lay on Stu's chest. Stu mentioned to me that he had been laying on Stu all morning, despite eating breakfast, and having some water and milk. I wanted to check Forrest's temperature, and well...

Two of our digital thermometers broke. So much for technology. I ended up buying a plain Vick's stick thermometer, and it worked like a charm for monitoring Forrest's temperature. 

It was when we discovered two large molars coming in on the top along with canine teeth! What a poor kid. After a few months of no new teeth, new ones came rather relentlessly, and caused disruption in our lives. 

Seriously...molars can suck it. 



 Thankfully, his temperature did plummet from 101 to 98 degrees overnight. 

Today, Forrest seems to be doing a bit better, with some food, liquid, and children's ibuprofen in his system, and he's up running amok around the entire first floor. While it does suck to deal with him not feeling well, I am also relieved that we are dealing with this NOW instead of during Christmas travels, and at other people's houses. It would be no fun for him to not be feeling well on such fun occasion. Hopefully, bottom molars, and canines can hold off until after Christmas.   

On a separate note, Stu brought us a jug of eggnog! So yummy!! However, it was a bit too much for both of us to drink it all, and I didn't want it to go waste...so imagine my excitement when I saw an eggnog recipe for cookies on one of my fellow blogger's blog! I figured once my little guy is feeling better, then I will whip up this recipe! 





Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Currently.....

LOVING:


our fake tree. who knew it would look so pretty, and realistic. 
bonus: i recently bought scented pine ornament sticks so it smells like a real tree!
big bauble ornaments.
my little boy sitting on sofa.
seeing the month of december filled with all plans to be done.
our new advent calendar.
homemade fruit smoothes especially the blackberries mixed with bananas, and beets. yum!
string cheese sticks.
snow, even though it has yet to stick to the ground for more than a day.
christmas cards.
forrest signing a sentence: eat more, eat more, and eat more! 
forrest waving daddy good-bye before he heads out to work.
make-ahead breakfast egg sandwiches. 


READING:

i just finished Allegiant. wow! what an ending!! totally unexpected!! i didn't see that coming...
(on a separate note: divergent movie will be released in March of '14!) 



i need to find next book to read; either in death series, or finish storyteller before actually moving on to a new book.

WATCHING:




sons of anarchy season 4 is coming to the end. i can't believe how dark, and twisted the show is becoming! i would love to say more regarding my thoughts with soa, but i don't want to spoil anything! we are kind of slow with viewing soa because of stu's hectic work schedule, but we are determined to finish out season 4 before christmas.




i am on the last episode of army wives season 5. it is right on the brink of when everything changes in the series, and it is what lost viewers' interest in continuing to watch beyond season 5, but i want to see for myself to decide. anyway, a large round of applause goes to army wives for introducing a character living with hiv, and getting ALL INFORMATION right about hiv for a change.


THINKING:

how much i want a riding crop boots. i saw a pair at target, and am really itching to buy one. i have a pair with heels, which is nice, but not practical with a toddler, and i want a flat riding crop boots. 

i guess i should wait until after christmas for it to go on sale. 




LOOKING FORWARD TO:

spending christmas with my side of family this year.
visiting Grandma bernice, and the russ family.
christmas food. 
giving gifts!
shopping to get a few more gifts to wrap up.
watching forrest enjoy christmas. 
making turkey. let's see how it turns out, won't we?
dress shopping for my sister to find her wedding dress in January!
dickens of christmas this weekend.


MAKING ME HAPPY:

spending time with forrest, and stu.
knowing that christmas is just around the corner.
reciting 12 days of dog christmas on my FB profile.
wrapping christmas gifts.
sending out holiday cards.
getting holiday cards.
our christmas tree.
watching forrest making connections in his language development.
this gif of captain picard dancing. makes me giggle.
pay forward from strangers, and friends--keep kindness going!

 photo tumblr_mtrancMR091szoirio1_400_zps1783ddc0.gif

Monday, December 2, 2013

Turkey Coma Is Over....Bring on Christmas!

Pinterest 
Turkey coma is over. Sort of. While Thanksgiving is over, I do plan on baking a turkey that we have gotten from our neighbor, and make ourselves a second Thanksgiving meal. I figure that it will be nice to use up the turkey, and have leftover meat for lunch sandwiches. The trouble is that the turkey is quite frozen, and there is no way I can speed up the thawing process. Off it goes into the fridge for a couple days until it is thawed out. 

We spent our Thanksgiving up at the Farm. It was a really wonderful time with the family. I relaxed, slept in a bit, and acted like a total glutton. Yum. I definitely had to pull out my loose pants on Thanksgiving, and it was worth it. Forrest was mister sneaky. He went around asking for a piece of pie from each person that had a plate of pie in their hand. Needless to say, Forrest had a sugar rush that day. We also double-checked who we had for our secret santa recipients before I started shopping for them! 

We received an amazing gift from Aunt Kathy; her daughter is currently living in Germany, and because of her visit to Germany, she picked up an advent calendar for us. I had never seen advent calendar in this style before since I am far accustomed to a block with little doors to be opened to reveal candies inside. I also have my advent calendar that I made from last year: Advent Calendar. I need to remake some tags because I lost some from the move. Anyway, we have two now, and I must admit that I really love the advent that Kathy gave to us. It's currently hanging on our living room wall. Yes, I do plan on framing the picture of Forrest or even change the scenery of the wall once Christmas is over. 


Stu, and I recently purchased a new tree. It's a fake tree, and it is a decision that I agonized over a bit. You see, I grew up with a real Christmas tree. I have so many memories of us going up north with Steve, and Mom to cut down a tree, and bringing it back home, then having my siblings, and I go through at least 4-6 boxes of ornaments that are gathered over the years to be hung up on the tree. I love the feeling of family closeness, spirit of Christmas, and decorating the house for Christmas. The feel of pine needles, and smell of it brings me back to those memories. 

When Stu, and I first got married; we did get a fake tree that was on a sale from Stein's store, and it was wrecked after a few weeks with no thanks to our trouble-maker cat, Missy Girl. It was a pain to assemble, and unassemble due to all the pre-lit strings attached to the tree. We tried to save it, but ended up tossing it out. Then I got pregnant with Forrest, we picked out a small real tree, and it was really difficult to maintain it with us being gone for most of December due to traveling. It was brown, dead, and the needles were everywhere (again, due to the cats playing with the tree) by the time we got back. It took me forever to vacuum the needles out of the carpet...it really sucked as a pregnant lady to bend over to pick up individual needle that the vacuum did not suck up. 

The year that Forrest was born, he was only 4-month old, and I was so sleep deprived. I had no energy to decorate. I just put up some lights, and that was it. 

This year, I was very determined to come up with something, and to decorate! Stu, and I looked around for fake trees. We decided to give it one more shot, and look for a good quality tree. I wanted something that looked somewhat realistic, and fuller than most. We also agreed almost immediately that we didn't want a pre-lit tree! We found a tree at Shopko for a decent price, and it was what we looked for! I spent the whole morning yesterday working on the tree. It was a lot of work, but worth it! I left the bottom of the tree blank because I worried that Forrest was going to be absolutely fascinated by the tree, and wanted to play with it. I also only hung up safe ornaments, and left the glass, or the fragile in the boxes to be opened for the future years to come yet. After working on the tree, I stepped back, feeling rather proud, and admired the tree. It looked great. 


On the other hand, Forrest would have cared less. He barely glanced at the tree, and left it alone. I was relieved! Our tree remained safe from a curious toddler. Or at least for this year. 

Last night, Stu, and I sat on our sofa across from our prettily-lit tree. I complemented for a bit, then pointed out how quickly time was going this year. I was amazed at how fast 2013 flew by especially the month of November! Stu agreed that with all the plans set in the place for December, this month was also going to fly really fast, and before we knew it, it was going to be 2014! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Crossing The Line With Hunting?

Recently, there was an article floating around in the internet space about hunting big game on the Safari. It did disturb me. It bothered me to see a hunter killing a big game for pure thrill, challenge, and to earn a trophy from the kill. The big game; lions, tigers, and elephants often were unable to defend themselves. They were unable to run away. They were unable to be provided with a route of escape. Hunters, or rather I should say poachers, approached them in a very sneaky manner, then took them down in most inhumanely way as possible. Then once the animal perishes, the poachers proudly boasts the kill, and it led to a misconception about general hunting. 

As you can see, hunting is a huge part of Wisconsin culture especially up in the north. My stepdad, Steve, is big into hunting bird game, and deer. My husband's family is very into deer hunting as well. So I've grown up with hunting culture incorporated in my family. I have often enjoyed eating geese jerky, pheasant, and deer meat. 


Recently, there is an open season starting up for deer hunting. People flocks to the open season weekend to start hunting. It appears to me that a lot of hunters have gotten lucky this year! Stu happens to be one of the lucky hunters that got us a doe. 

I asked Stu to please have a picture taken of a deer that he shot. My sister-in-law, Jenni, took this picture, and posted it for rest of us to see. I was excited to see that Stu got us a deer because that meant we were going to be well-stocked in venison meat this winter! I assure you that this doe was killed humanely, and swiftly. She did not feel pain. She won't go to waste. We are thankful for her, and the life she has given up for us. 

It is funny--not in ha ha funny way, but a thoughtful manner--because after the doe was killed, Stu called me, and we had a short talk before he went to register the deer, and for the processing. He said that he felt bad that the doe died, and that it was not all about look at me, I just killed an animal, hear me roar! It is something that we really do value while hunting, and I believe that a lot of hunters do resonate with what I am about to say. 

What I would love for Forrest, or any of our future kids, who may end up being interested in hunting with Stu eventually, to learn that it is critical  to have a good sportsmanship, and to be thankful for the bounty. The animals, that have died, are not to be disrespected, or disregarded. This can be hard concept to grasp in today's age, and time because we have an easy access to food, and things we need at our local food store. 

Hunting is about good sportsmanship. I won't deny that there may be some of thrill involved with strategically setting up location, lurking/baiting game, then securing the animal. Sometimes, you win. Sometimes, you lose. A deer have a route of escape. You don't always get a deer or a bird. It is a part of the thrill because you don't know if you always will get an animal in the end. When you do get an animal, you make sure the animal die swiftly. A lot of hunters, including Stu, wants to kill an animal as humanely as possible. It is not about getting a thrill out of causing an animal to suffer as it dies. Nobody likes to hear, or see an animal to suffer, even as a hunter. The thrill comes from securing a kill. It is why there is some pride in securing a kill, not because of attention that is gained from killing an animal, but to providing for the family to eat, and/or use. 

Hunting brings a person closer to the nature, and you learn to appreciate what the nature has to give to you. If we don't take care of our environment, then we won't be able to have deer, or small game, to hunt for. Matter of fact, many hunters I know are very into conservation, and preserving the environment. To kill some small game is to help to regulate the population. Otherwise, we would see overpopulation of deer, and small game in the nature, which can lead them to starve, or become sick over the winter, or overgrazing or over-consumption of other animals in the food chain. 

Lastly, you bond while you are hunting. Most of the time is spent sitting together or in a close distance, and wait. I can see Forrest, or any future kids we might have, hanging out with his cousins, uncles, and his dad in the woods, and having time of his life. It is better to spend time out in the nature instead of in front of TV. 



It is why, to me, it crosses a line when it comes to hunting big game on the safari. I don't see the interaction between mother nature, and the hunter. The hunter is in the truck, and the driver drives around until the hunter sees an animal then he/she shoots at it from the truck. I don't see a pride in securing a kill when a lion is taken down. I don't understand the purpose of using an arsenal rifle on elephant, then shoot at an elephant multiple times as it goes down. They do feel the pain as they die. The poacher sit back, wait for the animal to suffer as it dies, because a wounded animal is dangerous, and a poacher often don't approach them until poacher knows that the animal is on the verge of death. When an animal is on the verge of death, the hunter kills the animal, as carefully as possible to avoid from ruining the fur (especially mane on the lion, or leather of elephant's skin), and then proudly stand over the body. There is no thankfulness between the animal, and the hunter. 

Then the hunter takes what he/she wants, and leave the carcass behind. In some cases, some will take the carcass with them, and mount the carcass. It costs money, though. It costs money to transport the carcass out of the country, to obtain proper paperwork, to ensure license is up to the date, and to find a butcher to process the meat. After that, it costs money to ship the carcass to other country, where you hail from, and mount it. Where's the space to mount the animal in the first place? And for what purpose? Other than intimidation, and arrogance? 

A friend of mine makes a good point, "If you survived an attack, which you did not instigate; I think you can brag about that as something significant, but taking down a lion with a gun because you want to is not something to be proud of". You know why? The whole act of killing is cowardly. It is sad. I don't see a relationship between Mother Nature, and the hunter in that case at all.

Most hunters I know says that there is a HUGE difference between hunting, and killing. Yes, there is a fine line of crossing from hunting for consumption to just killing for a trophy. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interpreters Are People Too

Yesterday I had a doctor appointment for my son's 15 months check-up, and saw one of the "regulars" waiting to interpret for us. I was pleased to see John (mind you, the name is false, totally made it up for his privacy). He was one of my favorite interpreters because he was amicable, personable, and very good at his job. We had a small-talk about how some Deaf people treat their interpreters. John had a recent situation that bugged him.

John was interpreting for a group setting for a Deaf client since the client had requested for a qualified male interpreter. During a break, the client, and John had a small talk. The client turned to John, stared at him, and asked him if he was interpreting in the afternoon. John explained that he won't be around in the afternoon due to another appointment. The client signed rather exasperatedly, thank god you won't be interpreting this afternoon.


This had hurt John. The client had specifically requested for a qualified male interpreter. Now, everybody knows that needing male interpreters is quite high, and there is not enough men interested to become interpreters or not enough qualified men to interpret for male clients...especially in the Midwest. 

Now I can vouch for John. He's a pretty good interpreter. I mean, really good at his job. And I am not saying it just because I like him, and he happens to be one of the interpreters I enjoy to work with. 

A few minutes later, other Deaf client joined the conversation, and asked John if he would be around in the afternoon. John turned to other man, who had signed thank god rudely to him, and looked at him while answering other man's question. John said, No, I can't interpret this afternoon because I have other appointment...thank god. The man was offended that John said that, and went on a tirade how John worked for him, should be respectful to him, and should not have said that to a client.

I nodded my head rather sympathetically as I listened to John's story. Of course, John felt bad that he lost his temper, and his professionalism for a minute there. He did notify his boss about the incident, and the boss was cool about it. After John was done venting, I explained to John what he had done was right. 

You see, interpreters are people, too. They are not robots going around, moving their arms, and speaking for us without feelings, thoughts, and reactions to what is going on. Interpreters, especially damn good ones, are hard to find...again especially so in the Midwest. I am fortunately to have high adaptive skills. I am okay with any type of interpreters; new, and inexperienced or regular, and experienced. I am flexible with what kind of signing is used. I am able to work with interpreters I'm not so crazy about if I am in a pinch. I roll with the punches. I know when it is appropriate to speak up, what words to be used, and who to contact if I am not comfortable speaking directly to the interpreter.


Unfortunately, there are some Deaf people that don't quite understand the role of an interpreter, and abuse that. I have met some Deaf people that think that interpreters work for them. In reality, it is not true. We don't pay our interpreters. We don't set their hours. We don't have them at our every beck, and call. Interpreters are there to WORK WITH us. 

Yes, we do have a right to request not to work with a particular interpreter again if the working relationship between us don't work out. We can put in a request for our "regulars" or preference for an interpreter for certain appointments. For example, for my OB-GYN appointment, I always request for a female interpreter, because I don't want a man interpreter for that type of appointment! I would imagine it would be uncomfortable for a male interpreter as well! Even if the first choice doesn't work out, then I usually get a second female choice to interpret for that appointment. 

At the same time, we also need to understand that sometimes it doesn't always work out at last minute, or a particular Deaf client need more experienced interpreter compared to the other Deaf client, or a setting to the appointment doesn't require a highly experienced interpreter because the Deaf client going there is pretty flexible with whoever he/she ends up with. 

Sometimes, it is not the agency's fault, but the place that put in request for an interpreter. For example, a doctor's office rescheduled the appointment at the last minute, and because it is at the last minute, securing an interpreter can be harder. Then the Deaf client ends up with a different interpreter because the first interpreter booked for the previously re-scheduled appointment can't make it due to another appointment that is put down for that day, and time. 

To totally blow up at an interpreter just because of changed circumstance, or for not getting the right interpreter, or because you don't like him/her is not fair especially if you are an adult. Interpreters have many roles to carry out. It is not always easy to interpret while carrying out those roles. Once in while, when I have a regular coming in to interpret for any of my appointment, I can tell when they have had a previous bad appointment, and it does affect their mood even though they remain very professional, and great at working with me. 

In a very rare instance, when I do get a really terrible interpreter that is very unprofessional, I do speak up, and contact the agency because I don't tolerate that bullshit. At the same time, I don't go out of my way to hurt or be rude.  


Sometimes, I believe that some of us have a tendency to forget that interpreters are also people with thoughts, and feelings. Be sure to thank an interpreter next time you see them. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What We Have Been Up To Lately......

My kid is going through this age where he is starting going through phases that can drive this mama quite crazy. It is a good thing that I have a tons of patience to begin with. Forrest is enthralled with standing so close to TV. I have to often remind him to back up, and sit in his big boy chair rather than standing so close to the TV. I have to do this multiple times during the viewing time. I guess it is good exercise for me to stand up, then sit down, then sit up, then sit down million of time. The second phase that Forrest quite enjoy doing is tossing toys over the baby gate into the kitchen hallway right smack into dog water bowl dish. He can make a mountain of toys within seconds. The minute I clean up the mess, return them to the play area, Forrest gathers the same toys, and toss them over the baby gate. I end up giving up on cleaning after him, and let the toys sit in the hallway until Forrest loses interest, and walks off. Then I clean up. The last, but not the least, Forrest is starting to become more expressive with his frustration. It is really cute. I try not to laugh, and it is just so darn cute. He squeezes his hands, shakes his little body, and goes MMMmmmmmmMMMMM! I swear that Forrest is going on one to thirteen year-old. 

                                 
Toddler years is definitely not for the weak of heart. It is amazing how somebody so little can test your patience, and sanity, I mean that in a good sense of humor.  It is all about a child's development, learning what is okay, and what is not okay, and establishing rules for him/her to follow. Or maybe this is just a test run for when they become teenagers? Either way, your toddler is going to give you run for your money.

I spent a whole afternoon the other day filling out holiday cards to many lucky recipients while watching Polar Express with Forrest. I loved seeing a bunch of addresses on the envelope, and felt pretty lucky to have friends near, and far. It was so much fun to have a preview of what yet was to come, a bunch of Christmas movies, and getting into Christmas mood. I decided to send off the cards after Thanksgiving because I felt that it was a bit too early to be sending them out right now. Thanksgiving holiday needed to celebrated first, methinks. 

That reminds me, I need to buy Polar Express book for Forrest. I have a quite few Christmas books that I want to buy for my little guy. Any recommendations? We currently do have T'was The Night Before Christmas poem, and Santa is Coming to Wisconsin.

I am planning on creating a few new traditions. One is to buy a Christmas book every year for Forrest to put in his stocking. I really want to instill our love of reading to Forrest, and any of our future kids we might have eventually. Hence, it is why I'm asking for book recommendations if you have any to share with me? 

Since we are traveling for Christmas, and most likely won't be having a Christmas at home anytime soon, it can be hard to incorporate certain traditions, that I had growing up, for Forrest to experience. It is why I am going to spread some of those traditions throughout the month of December, and bring some with us as we travel. One of those examples that we will be bringing with us would be a Christmas Eve pajamas box. 

Is there any traditions that you celebrate with your family at home or while traveling? Share if you would like! 



I am still struggling with figuring out why Forrest has such terrible flare up on his face. I am currently withholding humus from Forrest's lunch, in case if the chickpeas (which is also a part of legume family) is the culprit, and I am beginning to think it is not the culprit at all. Matter of fact, the red patches on Forrest's face got worse despite my attempts at managing it with natural Eczema lotion. I prefer not to use stronger medication such as a steroid topical lotion because the patches are so close to Forrest's mouth, and steroid topical lotion can also cause the flare-up to become aggressively worse. 

Poor kid, huh. 

Because of this, I am going reintroduce oatmeal milk back into his diet, and see if the spots fade away. A part of me would rather not to quit completely on cow's milk mainly because I am afraid that if I do this then Forrest will become increasingly intolerant to milk because his body won't be able to build up immunity to accustom itself to cow's milk. I am intolerant to cow's milk including plain ice cream. It is why I love eating at Cold Stone Creamery because they carry custard, and custard has different properties in it; therefore, it is easier on my stomach. I'm going off topic here....anyway, I would like Forrest not to end up like me, and not be able to handle dairy on top of his peanut allergy. That poor kid has a lot against him right now, and my hope is that he will outgrow dairy allergy by the time he turns 3 like many others kids do.

I'm going to make a new batch of Oat Milk today, and hopefully, within a week, I will see a result, and have patches fade away. If not, then I'm going to scream because I have no idea what else could be causing the patches to flare up. 

The other day, I went to the dentist, and it went really well. My teeth was in great shape, and everything looked good. I was really happy about that! On the other hand, my husband was not as lucky. He had a few cavities. Because of that, we decided that we were going to help him eliminate soda from his diet. 

Any tips on how to make soda habit to be broken faster, and easier? What can be substituted in the place of soda? I am really determined to help Stu kick this habit to the corner for once, and all!! I am not of much help for Stu because I don't drink soda. I drink water, juice, tea, and COFFEE, of course. Very rarely, soda. When I do drink soda, I get the worse gut rot EVER, and it is not worth it for me. But for Stu, he LOVES soda. I need to find something that replaces soda, but tastes as equally good without causing problems for his teeth! 

Besides, I want both of us to instill good healthy habits for Forrest to follow, and incorporate into his life as he gets older. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to completely ban soda from Forrest's life. He will have it. I am not gung-ho about that. At the same time, I don't want soda to be at the dining table for supper every night or as a daily drink. Because of this, Stu really need to be able to kick soda habit to the corner! 

We are still watching Sons of Anarchy. I think we are on season 4. We are kind of slow with SOA because of Stu's schedule, and it is our thing to watch it together. Once we are done with SOA, and waiting for Netflix to add new season, we are going to start Dexter, and I am excited about that!

During Forrest's nap time, I watch an episode or two of Army Wives, and I absolutely love the show. I'm getting to the juicy part of the series, and I love the cast. I've been blazing through the series faster than I did with Buffy. I'm kind of dreading the end of Army Wives, especially in the latter seasons, because I heard some things that are not so great about the show, due to the original cast leaving the show, and it becoming less exciting to watch. But I need to watch, and determine for myself if it's true or not. 

The other day, I made my own mixture of fruit squeezies for Forrest, and saved some for myself as well! The reason why I wanted to make my own mixture was because I used to buy Plum Organics Pouches all of the time for Forrest, and it was getting to to be expensive. It was organic, and top of the line brand name. However, the real reason was because Forrest got food poisoning off Plum organic Pouches. He was really sick from eating them. At first, I had no idea that it was making him sick until I learned...a week later...that the items were spoiled, and recalled by the company. I was very unhappy about that. The thing was, the pouches was in good shape, and it was not swollen or smelled funky. It gave me absolutely no indication that it was spoiled, and I kept giving those to him. 

I felt so terrible when I learned that the items were spoiled, and Forrest was eating them! I called the company to complain. All I got out of the deal was voucher cards to buy more of their items. What? No thank you, my friend! I just wanted a refund, and decided it was not worth the pursue to get money back. I was told that they were going to call me to follow up...never happened. I was pretty jaded. 

Because of that, I thought of this...hey why don't I make my own! So I did.....as it turned out, they tasted amazing! I felt confident about giving them to Forrest because I knew what exactly were going in the mixture. I bought the fruit and vegetable produces! I handpicked them so I knew for fact that they were not spoiled. Besides, it was not a big deal to make the mixtures...it was easy, and fun. It literally only took me less than 15 minutes to make 3 bags of mixture! 

Now, I just need to find reusable pouch and/or disposable pouches to put the mixture in. Then we are set to go!

This experience has really confirmed why I should continue making everything from scratch. Fortunately for me, I love to prep, cook, and share food to be consumed. It is one of the reasons why I feel lucky to be able to stay at home because I have time to do this, and I find that I feel better to know what is being put in our food. Forrest's peanut allergy has concreted my love of making everything from scratch--and it is why it does not feel like it is a HUGE lifestyle change for me to cook, and bake. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This Is Just Too Much

When I learned that Forrest had a peanut allergy, we made a lifestyle change by giving up peanuts, and it was an adjustment. I had to read labels. When there was no allergen warning on the product, I researched the product online until I was able to detect the allergens found inside the product, and mark it as safe/unsafe for my future knowledge. It was not that difficult to give up on products that had peanuts in them. However, I felt guilty that I was able to enjoy certain candies or cookies whereas Forrest was unable to eat them. I felt like a thief on the sly, eating the forbidden fruit in the other room, or during Forrest's nap time, and after he went to bed. I did not like having to worry about contact rash, and wondering if I was being proactive enough to ensure that there was absolutely no residue left behind to onset an allergic reaction for Forrest. Eventually, I just gave up on doing that altogether. 

Until I found something incredible.

Enjoy Life candy bar caught my eye in the health food section at our local food store. In excitement, I grabbed the Dark Chocolate Enjoy Life Bar. It was free of 8 major allergens as show in the picture down below:


How awesome is that? The best part? It didn't taste like crap. It actually tasted good! I ended up researching Enjoy Life site, and it was a great site. It basically served desserts like cookies, candy bars, baking chocolate, cereals, and seed/fruit mixes. 

I highly recommend this site. It's not only good for food allergies, but for those with Celiac Disease, and living Gluten-free lifestyle. Parents living with food allergies, or parents who have children with food allergies know that those food are typically unsafe food found everywhere else because it contains any of 8 top allergens including Gluten. If you want to eat something guilt-free, then this site is for you! Also, this can be found in your local food store's health/organic food section as well.

You can thank me later.

Aside from this excitement, things are going pretty good in Russ household. I admit that I've been lagging a bit in blogging lately mainly due to holidays coming up. The truth to be told, I don't have much to say these days. I believe in quality instead of quantity, you know?

I am done with holiday shopping for my side of the family. I'd say that 85% of shopping was done through online. Why? I despite shopping between the months of November-December. I don't like Black Friday. I don't like crowds. People that get prissy, loud, bumpy, and rush into getting things off the shelves. I hate long lines at the check-out lines. I don't like traffic. People don't know how to park. They cut each other off. They steal spots from each other. There's too much competition in the parking lot. Throw in milling people, and trying not hit them as you weave around them. Even worse if there is little kids running around amok while their parents are too busy dumping gifts in the back of their fancy SUV's. The energy I pick up from people is overwhelming, and it makes me anxious. It is quite overwhelming for an introvert like me.


Online? Oh, that's easy. I compare prices. I get the best deal as possible. Click, click, and click. Done! I save even more with coupons, and free shipping with the promo codes. The hard part is just having to wait for the items to arrive at my house. I have to resist temptation from kissing my mailman or UPS man every time he brings a box to the front door. I adore snail mail. It is something that is long-forgotten especially with technology advancing like crazy these days. Snail mail? It's something of the past, which makes me one very sad woman, because I absolutely love snail mail. To get packages in the mail, even if it's not for me, is exciting! I love picking out a gift for someone, and ultimately giving it to them. It's more fun to give than to receive, methinks. Anyway, shopping online is much better, in my humble opinion. I'll be more than glad to leave it up determined yet slightly insane shoppers wanting to hit the mall, and stores to get gifts.

I'm debating if I should send out holiday cards this year. Really, I'm terrible. I started writing a holiday letter one year--the same year I got pregnant with Forrest--and had so much grief with it. My printer broke. I had to run to an office max store and shell out so much money for printed letters. Then Layla ate a few letters. *le sigh* Too much hassle, I tell you. Yet at the same time, I loved writing letters, and sharing what was going on in our lives. It was just the "sending off" part that jaded me.

I'm a walking contradiction.

So, I propose an easier solution this year. I'm just going to grab a holiday card, maybe stick a family photo, and viola! I'm done. That way, I get to satisfy my snail mail bug, spread a holiday cheer, and to remind people that they are wonderful. Besides, a lot of people do read my blog, and they are already updated. The holiday letter would be kind of a moot point.

Anyway, it is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is nearly here in a couple weeks. I feel like as I grow older, the faster time seem to fly, and it is a totally paradox because when as a child, I feel that time is going so slow, and life is just dragging on. Then boom, I become a certain age, and life is flying by. I suppose it is why I often pause, and say thanks for what I do have in my life. It helps to stay mindful, and to be appreciative of the moment. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Currently....

LOVING: 



beautiful babies' arrivals in the mommy groups.
first snowfall.
baby snuggles.
christmassy socks.
hot cup of peppermint mocha.
food allergy & intolerance group that my friend, and i created
(https://www.facebook.com/groups/364320680369715/?bookmark_t=group)
christmas shopping online.
knowing that i am nearly done with christmas shopping.
my mom's visit.
donuts maker--i have been making a lot of baked donuts lately!
soldiers that have fought for our country.
traditions to be started this year for the holidays.
gun-metal nail polish. 

READING:


this book that Stu loaned from the school library. 
it is good so far!! I suggest reading Divergent series (sooo good).

WATCHING:


army wives; i'm at the juicy part of the series, and i can't stop watching!!!
sons of anarchy. the plot has definitely changed, and i am curious to find out what happens next. 
once those two are done, i'm getting my butt on to watch
dexter  (by way, he has the same birthday as i do) and ghost whisper.

THINKING:


how much i love christmas shopping.
how much i love wrapping gifts. 
starting up old traditions such as st. nick's, watching christmas movies, picking out a christmas tree, decorating the house, and drinking christmassy coffee flavors. 
thinking about starting up new traditions such as doing elf on the shelf, & christmas pj on christmas eve for forrest. 
making a creamy potato soup from my dad's recipes, yum, 
which is perfect for this chilly snowy day.
baking more donuts just because.
how much i am craving nutella. 
getting lunch ready for forrest. 
did i mention how much i love wrapping gifts? 

LOOKING FORWARD TO:



that very yummy potato soup for supper.
having my teeth cleaned next week 
(i'm one of those weird people that likes the feeling of clean teeth from the dentist appointment).

MAKING ME HAPPY:

my boy, like always.
my husband.
my family.
my friends. 
people thanking the veterans. 
new babies.
the smell of freshly baked donuts.
the smell of just brewed coffee.
snuggling under an electric blanket.
baking.
cooking. 
wrapping christmas gifts.