Naked Conversations

I picked up this title during our stay in Amelia Island last Christmas. The library options were limited so it was either this or 49 Ways to Improve Your Birdwatching by J.S. Bank. I suspect you would have chosen the same. First things first, a small disclaimer: this is not my usual blog post. Tune in next time for my commentary on Martha Stewart’s sewing crafts or DIY fabric stenciling.

I listened to a webinar this week as part of my Kindermusik training. It is called “Talking to Today’s Mom”. It highlighted the power of consumer reviews in influencing buyer decisions {particularly ours, ladies}. I may have started doodling a bit at this point in the lecture. Sales and marketing have never really been my thing. I’m an artist {insert dramatics here} for crying out load. But the social media stats {i.e. Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.} suddenly made my ears perk up, and it reminded me of what I read in Naked Conversations last winter. Try this on. Did you know that in 2010, Facebook reported over 400 million users?  4…0…0…,0…0…0…,0…0…0… {Yep…. that’s 8 zeros… just checking}. I ask you: what on EARTH did we do before Facebook?

My training requires listening and discussion so I’ll clue you in to part of my response.

“The stats regarding brand purchases and the psychology behind social media confirmed a theory I have questioned about my generation for some time. The pendulum has swung from my grandparent’s generation who was impressed by glossy slogans and well-manicured hands to a generation influenced primarily by word of mouth and more down-to-earth marketing approaches. My generation wants to keep it “real”. We get frustrated when we’re on the listening end of a pre-recorded message. We prefer a REAL person who breathes and sneezes on the other line, thank you. We might not give a second glance to a billboard sign with larger-than-life advertising phrases that include the words “top-rated” or “money-back guarantee”, but we’ll read a blog full of tpyos from top to bottom because REAL people can’t spell. REAL people write like they talk. REAL people are more likely to purchase something because their college roommate swears by it and not because it was featured on the Home Shopping Network. Commercials don’t influence buying power. We do! REAL stories. REAL spellers. REAL people!”

Thanks for indulging the social-science nerd in me for a moment. Have a great weekend keeping it “real”.

New Mommy Survival Gift Guide

You might remember a last month I hosted a coffee themed baby shower for my friend Ginny. Well, allow me to introduce…

{drumroll please}

Charlotte “Lottie” Anne Gum.

I saw this picture last night and I almost stopped breathing. Not only do I get to brag on my friend’s gorgeous kid, but allow me to take this moment to feature the photo genius of my dear friend Emily Chidester. She’s brilliant and inspiring and almost as much of a Harry Potter nerd as I am. Be sure to check out her blog for her latest work.

I have so many friends getting pregnant and having babies that I’m beginning to think there really is something in the water. All of these babies got me thinking about creative gift ideas. What does every new mother need but can’t afford? The correct answer is: time and sanity. Unfortunately, you can’t exactly register for either at Babies R Us. So, I did a little brainstorming on my morning run, and this is my best attempt at what I like to call a New Mommy Survival Gift Guide.

Survival gift idea #1: Meal coordination. New mothers are oftentimes less concerned with cooking than they are with eating. After I had Mia, all I cared about was if she was getting enough to eat. If someone didn’t remind me to grab some grub, I would have opted for a long nap instead. I have world-class friends who arranged for home cooked meals to arrive every two days with left overs to spare. True story. I don’t think we bought groceries for a month. Takethemameal.com allows you to coordinate meals online and it does most of the work for you. This is priceless. Literally.

Survival gift idea #2: A housekeeper. I’m not pregnant nor do I have any desire to be in the near future, but I still fantasize at least once a week about a fairy housekeeper gracing my front doorstep. I never wanted one more than right after I had my babies. I knew it was bad when I noticed that Clark’s bare feet were sticking to the wood floor. Seriously, I thought he was going to strap on a biohazard suit before entering the shower– that’s how long it had been since I gave it a good scrub. If you’ve got the money, do your friend a favor and pay for a couple of visits from the housekeeper. She may just name her unborn child after you. Oh, and don’t forget laundry. Do a little research to find a local wash & fold service that delivers, or for major friend points, opt to provide laundry service yourself.

Survival gift idea #3: Counseling. Don’t furrow your brows at me. Baby blues don’t lift after 2 weeks for every mama. Take me for example. I wound up on the shrink’s couch 3 months after Salem was born after I woke up from a nightmare where I had confused him with the oven pot roast. I wish I was making this up. Postpartum depression is a terrifying thing for mommy, daddy, and baby, and sadly most women don’t seek help when they should because they are either embarrassed or they simply can’t afford it. I’d say, if you are a family member or a close enough friend, perhaps include a voucher in her baby shower card that says, “Redeemable for post-delivery counseling and/or margarita therapy”.

Survival gift idea #4: Child care. Babysitters are not cheap, and most likely after a few weeks, mom will be ready for a little break to go out shopping or to have tea or to have a good cry {refer to survival gift idea #3}. Again, slip a couple of coupons for “free babysitting” into her shower gift. Follow up a few weeks after delivery to remind her that you still intend to make good on your gift. Then again, if you’re my friend, you won’t have to remind me.

Survival gift idea #5: Stamped and addressed thank you cards. Speaking of shower gifts, this is a thoughtful and inexpensive one. Showers are wonderful. Mommies and babies are loaded up with diapers and burp cloths and onesies and nipple shields. {Okay, perhaps the nipple shields are not that wonderful.} But, how many of you post-shower mommies took months to tend to the seemingly insurmountable task of sending gift thank you’s? I know I did. And who has time to go buy stamps when you’re too busy with nipple shields? {I just want to see how many times I can say ‘nipple shield’ in a blog post and get away with it. There ought to be a limit, right?} You can make the task less daunting by putting together a little basket complete with cards, envelopes, stamps and a pen. You can even go the extra mile by having some return address labels printed with baby’s name included. Again, friend-points will be awarded.

Survival gift idea #6: Professional newborn photo session. {Such as… Ahem… Emily Chidester Photography}. Just think, a little piece of your thoughtfulness frozen in time on their living room wall or above the fireplace. I believe there’s a few things in life that you shouldn’t get for a basement bargain such as Lasik or plastic surgery. Photography is one of them. Don’t skimp. If you have the money to get a quality gift, opt for a family photo session with a professional, not your cousin Ralph who promises to give you a “sweet deal”.

Survival gift idea #7: Moms on Call. I’ve said it before, these ladies are God’s gift to mothers everywhere. If you live in or around the Atlanta area, they will come to your home and give you a personal consultation on everything from feeding, to bathing, to getting your newborn to sleep. If you have to choose between the fairy housekeeper and Moms on Call, take it from me. Give the gift of Moms on Call. If you’re not fortunate to live within driving distance, they offer online seminars that are just as helpful. You mama-friend will thank you.

If you want to treat your loved one to a housekeeper or a photographer, but you don’t want to break the bank, perhaps you can invite a few friends or relatives to go in on the gift with you. The best gift is one that you’ve always wanted, but you’d never splurge to get it for yourself.

Let’s add to this list. What are some of your favorite new mommy survival gifts?

Nursery Duty

Happy Monday everyone! Its not even 10:30 and already I’ve already broken a glass, been passed up by a granny during my 5k training, and fixed the DVD player which was skipping on account of a piece of granola lodged into the loading tray.

I have been getting up at 5am {Heaven help me} for the past couple of weeks while I am undergoing my online Kindermusik certification. More to come about that. My assignment over the weekend was to observe a pre-school environment {other than Kindermusik} and compare my findings based on the Kindermusik philosophy. That doesn’t sound so bad. Yesterday, I observed the pre-school nursery at church. Half way through my written observations this morning, I figured I just had to include you in this conversation since  you’ve so graciously subjected yourself to my commentary on life thus far. I find it difficult to write without using irony based on true story.

Here are a few of my responses–

Q. Was the environment fun for the child?

A. “The toddler that threw a block at the face of another unsuspecting nursery attendee was no doubt having a rip-roaring good time, but as mama always used to say, “If everybody isn’t having fun, nobody is having fun.” Perhaps it is a blessing that children don’t remember all that much before the age of 2 or else the child-target now has something to tell his future therapist.”

Q. Did the environment encourage parent involvement?

A. “You better believe I got involved when the aforementioned block thrower took a swing at my 11-month-old.”

Q. Did the class provide quality materials?

A. “My two-and-a-half year old was assigned the task of holding the laminated number on a popsicle stick that corresponded with the days of Creation. He beamed. But I could see his wheels turning when he realized that the days of Creation ended with the number “7”. I’m pretty sure he was puzzled when the Bible story teller didn’t promptly produce a number “8” popsicle stick. Must remember to explain that one later.

I have a feeling when my husband reads this, he is going to think, “oh dear, what on Earth are they going to do with you, Salina?” To which I will reply, “If I am going to get up at 5am to watch a group sing-a-long video circa 1978, I am darn well going to have fun with it.”

Oh, and for all you church nursery workers, my hat’s off to you. That is no easy task. Extra jewels in your crown {or an extra drink during Sunday lunch.}

Cheers!

Lady Lullabuy’s 200th Blog Post!!

What a week. Not only did I celebrate my 31st 27th birthday, but I have officially published 200 blog posts since this madness all began. I have enjoyed our little inspiration journey over the last 11 months. Can you believe it has been that long? How about a trip down memory lane. According my trusty reader stats, here are Lady Lullabuy’s Top Ten Blog Posts.

#10-Asian Inspired

#9-Taking the Plunge

#8-Valentine’s Day Julie & Julia Style

#7-Messy French Bun

#6-La Vie En Rosesttes

#5-The Academy Award Goes To…

#4-Brighton Cheery

#3-I Cannot Do it All

#2-“Wonder” Wall

And the #1 Lady Lullabuy blog post….

Why Not Wine Corks?

 What do you say we take a vote? Do you have favorite?

Thanks again to all my lovely readers {a.k.a. my web-community}. You’ve already made this quite the memorable journey.

Tea Party Invitations

There’s tired and then there is “incapable-of-operating-heavy-machinery” tired. I ran a red light tonight on the way to Harris Teeter, and when it occurred to me in mid-intersection what I had done, what did I do? I came to a screeching halt. So, I promptly came home and restricted myself to using beginner scissors to finish Mia’s tea party invitations which proved to be safer and much more productive. I was inspired when I saw these invitations from Happy Hound Creative’s Etsy shop

… and I thought, “hey, I can do that.”

So I did…

First, I rounded up some supplies…

… which were quite literally just lying around.

I threaded some ribbon through my favorite tea bags.

Then I created a tea cup stencil and glued two pieces of colored card stock together leaving room for a pouch at the top to house the tea bag. I then added my tea party invite script and some tea/dress-up party scrapbooking embellishments, and voila!

Now, you know I love you, but I wasn’t about to post my address and phone, hence the wine cork magnet.

Seriously, I spent most of my own birthday getting more excited about Mia’s upcoming celebration!

Like I said… I LOVE BIRTHDAYS!!!!

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

I snapped this pic of Mia at a party last weekend and I’m so glad I did because this is how I feel today.
!!! I LOVE BIRTHDAYS !!!

I am not one of those people that tries to keep their birthday under wraps and doesn’t make it known until a week has gone by and no one has even noticed. I tell everyone that its my birthday… weeks before the actual date. Waiters, postmen, grocery baggers… all are invited to celebrate.

Right now, I am enjoying my favorite pancakes in bed and my pre-schooler is sitting in his high chair next to me singing “Happ bert-dee a me”. Tonight, Greek food with my sweetheart.

We interrupt this post for me to open my first birthday gift of the day. Just a little something that reminds my family of me.

Classic. Post-its for the Post-It Queen! What more could I ask for?!

Nerd Alert

Perhaps my last post was a little weighty for a Friday morning. Well, let it not cast a shadow on the fact that today marks a rather important event in the history of a generation. It is the beginning of an end.. an epic conclusion of unrivaled imagination and complexity… a literary saga that has impressed and inspired creative young minds for a decade.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows– Part 2

I have been looking so forward to this for months. I all but slept outside the theater last night to score tickets, and yet I refrained. Nevertheless, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the occasion than with a pint of Butterbeer?

BUTTERBEER

Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

3/4 cup heavy cream, divided

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.

Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

Have a magical weekend!

Mothers Speak: Balancing Act

I spent the better part of last night catching up on the “My Balance” series from Joanna Goddard’s blog. Her latest string of posts speaks directly to the woman who’s constant quest is to find the balance between work, life, and motherhood. I don’t know one woman in my sphere of relationship who isn’t trying desperately to find just that, and ladies, if we’re honest, don’t you feel like most days everyone else is in the lead and you’re destined to be the last runner to cross the finish line if you’re lucky enough to make it there in one piece? Its a complete circus around my house most days and I feel like I’m in the center ring and balls keep getting thrown my way and I’m juggling…. juggling…. juggling. The phone rings….. juggling….. Salem wants juice…. juggling….. Mia needs a new diaper…. juggling…. Clark wants my input on a song idea…. juggling…. My hair hasn’t been washed in 3 days….. juggling!

Right after Salem was born we began to implement “Mom’s morning out” once a week. At first, I felt guilty being away from the baby… but not that guilty. The inspiration that I drew from getting reacquainted with my own passions and interests during those few precious hours away from home spilled over onto my family upon my return. It got to the point where Clark would practically push me out the door because as the old saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”. The more inspiration I would glean, the less conflicted I would feel at home. The more I tended to the status of my spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and creative health during those designated hours, the more pleasant I was to be around, and the more present I was for the demands of home and family.

What does this have to do with juggling? What if I came to grips with the fact that the phone is never going to stop ringing, the to-do list is never going to get any shorter, and as long as I have hair, it will at some point need washing? What if I directed my energies less toward the balance of work and motherhood, and more toward the balance of health and relationships? What would that look like? Would I feel less upset about the pink ring in the toilet bowl and more sympathetic toward the friend who is saying goodbye to her mother for perhaps the last time? Perhaps I am suggesting a new balancing act.

Is it impossible to stay adequately fueled while fervently spending yourself of behalf of those around you?

Make Your Own Sushi

 

{Image via Cape Town Daily Photo}

Have you ever attempted to make your own sushi? The idea has always made me a little nervous. I’m afraid I won’t prepare it properly and I’ll make myself sick. Sushi is not like meatloaf where you would have to be a complete domestic disaster to jack it up. It seems rather tricky, doesn’t it? We’re hosting an Asian-inspired dinner party with a couple of friends on Friday night featuring, “Make Your Own Sushi”. {Gulp!} Unlike us, our friends are experienced sushi makers, so we’re counting on them to show us the ropes. If you’re the slightest bit curious how to make your own sushi, check out this tutorial. I can’t wait to tell you how it turned out.

My Happy Place

It’s 5:02am and I am on top of the dining room table. I can assure you that I did not leave the comfort of my own bed to check the sturdiness of the furniture. At 4:55am I woke up to the sound of rain outside my window. Nothing like rain in the middle of the night that makes you want to snug closer to your sweetheart and drift back to dreamland, right? But as I laid there, I realized that this rain sounded more like erratic clicking than an actual shower.

Hold on. That’s not rain.

There would be no snuggling. Heck, no sleeping for that matter. My loathsome creature-sense knew that we were being watched. Yesterday morning, I discovered a cockroach at the Elementary School where we meet for church. You know how I feel about roaches. My version of hell involves wall to wall cockroaches in florescent lit cubicles.  I screamed like a 6 year old girl and then assured my critics that if it was anything other than a roach {a spider, a mouse, even a snake} I could handle myself, thank you.

I was wrong.

Back to the clicking. Clark and I laid awake listening to the little invader growing larger by the second. Before long, I was convinced that whatever it was had claws, fangs, and a machete poised and ready to slaughter us in our sleep. We flip on the lights and begin our futile attempts at peeking behind night stands, underneath pillows, and in the bed sheets. I’m still deluded enough to think I can “handle” myself in the event that I’m greeted by any of the aforementioned critters . Finally, Clark says, “do you want to just go back to sleep”? No sooner than he said that did he lock his gaze on something in the corner of the room. My corner of the room. My corner of the room where 2 minutes earlier I blissfully laid my head listening to what I thought was rain outside my window. It took only seconds for a rodent the size of a chiuaua to dart across the floor and in my general direction. I only caught a glimpse, but I knew it was out for blood.

Next thing I know, I’m curled up in a ball rocking back and forth on top of the dining room table. Hence, this blog post is brought to you by my happy place. Clark re-emerges with half-eaten evidence of our home invader… a deserted cereal bar that apparently never quite made it out of my beach bag from last month’s trip to Myrtle. He assured me that the mouse was “just a little guy”, but I know what I saw. Rat King with a vengeance!

Well, that’s one way to start your Monday.

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