Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Team Braverman

You guys.

Parenthood is ending.
I don't think I'm going to be able to handle it.  For realz.  What am I going to do without the Bravermans?!

I didn't get into the show until I started working at my "new" school two years ago.  Every Friday at lunch, my teammate (and now good friend), Cindy, would ask our Speech-Language Pathologist, Diana (also a good friend), "Did you watch Parenthood last night?!," and then they would discuss.  Naturally, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I could join in on their Friday lunchtime analysis.  I caught up on the current season (I think it was season 4) online and was hooked immediately.  Then I joined Netflix so I could watch the first 3 seasons to get all the background deets.

This past summer, I watched seasons 1-5 again on Netflix to prepare for the farewell season (newborns make binge-watching easy).  

And now here we are.  On the eve of the series finale.  I need to cope with my grief somehow.  So I will tell you some reasons why I love the show.

The characters
They're so real and dynamic. Dedicated parents, angst-y teenagers, precocious children, wise-cracking siblings.  This cast of characters runs the gamut.  I can't choose a favorite character because they're all so great.  The actors are beyond amazing, and there's a chance that I stalk many of them on Instagram.


The relationships
Overall, it's a show about a family: Zeek and Camille Braverman and their four grown kids, Adam, Sarah, Crosby, and Julia.  They all have spouses and/or children of their own, but each relationship is unique.  There's the bond between siblings.  There's the love and respect for parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren.  There's sibling rivalry and conflicts.  There's relationships outside of the family.  You see so much love, support, understanding, and forgiveness in each episode, and I always find myself reflecting on the interactions in the show and how I could use the examples in my own life.


The issues
Marriage, divorce, addiction, substance abuse, autism, adoption, infidelity, religion, retention (in school), homosexuality, bullying, cancer, heart disease, PTSD, sex, child rearing, death...I'm sure I forgot some.  This show has covered it all!  Every issue they feature is explored so beautifully and deeply and brings out all the feels.  I'll get all personal and tell you that I have always been against cheating/infidelity; I've always felt it was cowardly, disrespectful, and impulsive.  But then I saw Joel and Julia's marriage unravel in season 5, and my eyes were opened to how it could one could be driven to cheat or seek comfort and companionship outside of the marriage.  This show makes you think things you never thought you could think!




The Feels
Oh, the feels.  This show hits you right in the middle of 'em.  I cry, I laugh, I shout, I curse, I sometimes even sit in silence as I process it all.  It's all so real and expertly delivered, you can't help being moved by it all.  It's such a beautiful show.


If you haven't already explored the beautiful world of Parenthood, hopefully I've piqued your curiosity.  Seasons 1-5 are on Netflix.  Go get your binge-watch on.

There's no doubt I'll be crying throughout tomorrow night's final episode, likely due to the goings-on in the show, but also because I'll be sad it's over.

Go Team Braverman!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Five Days on a Fun Ship

About two weeks ago, Victor, Max, and I took a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas from Charleston, SC.
We were joined by Victor's parents, his brother, and his brother's fiancee.

Truth time: I was quite nervous to take Max on the cruise.  I, myself, am a cruising veteran.  My aunt took me on my first cruise around the southern portion of South America during my sophomore year of high school.  I've also been on 3 other cruises with Victor and his family over the years.  It's definitely a great way to vacation: you're basically on a floating resort, which is great in and of itself, but you also get to visit a couple new places when you stop in port.  Definitely worth trying at least once.

Now back to being nervous about bringing baby on board.  I was mainly worried about him potentially getting sick, disturbing our stateroom neighbors when he woke up at night, and running out of clean clothes due to diaper blowouts/spit-up/barfing.  To make sure I was prepared, I packed all the over-the-counter medications he was allowed to take (just in case), close to 100 diapers, 3 packs of wipes, and an average of 3 outfits for each day were supposed to be on the ship.

Luckily, Max didn't get sick at all (nor did we need any meds), he slept well on the ship and was able to be soothed by nursing when he woke up at night, and we didn't need all those extra outfits.

In fact, Max was quite possibly the most popular guest on the cruise; he was so flirty with everyone.  He gained many admirers onboard and in port.

Here are a few pictures from our 5-day escape from the cold.

Max's "orphanage crib," as we called it

We got to wait inside-ish during the muster station drill.  Perks of having a fragile little babe.

Heading to dinner the first night on the ship

Max always had a jolly good time at dinner.
Max loved taking pictures with our towel animals each night

Spoons were his main source of entertainment at all our meals

Victor's parents are so cute in their matching sweatshirts

Enjoying our first "sea day" on the pool deck
Fancy dinner night

Fancy dinner night

Fancy Max with our towel elephant
 We spent one day in Freeport, Bahamas.  We took a taxi to a cute little beach club and spent the day there.  They had a nice covered bar/restaurant area that overlooked the beach.  Victor and I camped out there with our fair-skinned Max while the rest of our crew enjoyed the beach.  The water was cold so I didn't even bother going in.

Hanging out in the sunburns here!

Our view from the shade.  Not too shabby.
Victor was adamant about stopping at Senor Frog's, which was right by where the ship was docked.  Conch fritters and tequila.  Good times.

The front of Max's shirt says "Party at my crib.  3:00 AM."
Bros at Senor Frog's
The next day, we were docked in Nassau, so we visited the Atlantis resort and went to the public beach there.
The water was warmer here, but the sea was rough!
We also went to the Senor Frogs there, because...why not?

As mentioned before, Max was Mr. Popular on the trip.  The crew on the ship just loved interacting with him.  He was such a happy baby the entire trip, and I couldn't be more grateful for that!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't affected by the slightly-rough seas we experienced on our sea day back to Charleston.  I have never actually gotten sick from being "seasick," but I also can't hang on the upper decks of the ship when the boat's a-rockin'.  However, I have to say that having a baby to tend to is a great distraction from feeling icky.  Seriously.  I sucked it up and was able to keep it together so I could enjoy the last bits of warm weather.  The lesson to be learned here: if you think you might succumb to seasickness, take a baby or small child with you.  You'll barely notice it.

Overall, it was a great trip.  I am no longer nervous to travel with a baby.  Piece of cake.

Ok, not really, but it's not that bad.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Goals for 2015

Hello!  Long time, no blog, huh?!

I've got a good excuse: I was cruising to the Bahamas with Max, the hubs, and the in-laws.  It was so nice to escape the cold, spend some quality family time, and prove to myself that vacationing with a baby isn't as scary as I thought.  I'll post more about all that later, pinky-swear.

As is the case after every trip we take, I have a lot to do now that we're home.  Here's a sample of my to-do list:
laundry (so much laundry)
plan meals
buy groceries
take down Christmas decorations (yeah, I still haven't done that...)
order/make decorations for Max's baptism
begin "The Great Purge of 2015" (where I go through all our stuff and get rid of/donate things we haven't used in the last year)

See?  Told you I had lots to do.

Max had a weird night of sleep last night: he woke up screaming about 4 different times and it took a good 15 minutes to get him to go back down each time.  I tried nursing him each time (my go-to when nothing else works) and even THAT wouldn't soothe him!  He screamed himself awake at 6:30 this morning, but I could tell he wasn't "up for the day" (seriously, you learn the signs.  He wasn't ready to be awake) so I walked him around the house and eventually was able to nurse him in our "nursing spot" in the family room.  As I suspected, he passed right out and is currently snoozing in his room.

Mommy, on the other hand, is wide awake.  Of course.

As I was making my first cup of coffee after putting Max down, I was going through that "little" to-do list in my head, trying to decide how I should spend this "free time" that I unexpectedly was granted.  "I should go through my cookbooks and make a grocery list."  "I should sort the laundry and start a load."  "I should unpack the suitcases and put them away."  This was a great time for me to get something done!

But instead, I ignored all the "shoulds," took my coffee to the couch, and I curled up with a blanket (Kenny nuzzled in there, too), The Today Show, and my computer and wrote this here little blog post.  I'll get to all that other stuff eventually.

Dog and baby toys are EVERYWHERE!
I haven't really made New Year's resolutions in the past couple of years because I haven't been successful with them.  But I do have some goals for this year after reflecting on my new life as a mommy.  One goal is to take time to just "be."  

By this, I mean I want to forgot the to-do list, ignore all the "shoulds" and just do something I feel like doing at that moment, at least once a day, even if it's just for 10 minutes.  Examples include: read, watch a movie with my husband (and hopefully not fall asleep 20 minutes in), write in my journal, drink a cup of coffee while sitting down...basically do something I want to do and not simultaneously do something I have to do.  Easier said than done, I think, but I was already successful this morning, so that's a start!

I also want to be more productive.  I suffer a bit from ADD (self-diagnosed), so I get distracted frequently, which makes it tough for me to complete a task in a timely manner.  Having a mobile baby isn't helping that situation.  My goal is to focus on one task until it is completed, especially when it comes to household tasks.  I read an article about increasing productivity a few weeks ago, and it suggested setting a timer for 10 minutes and doing as much as you can in that amount of time.  Then give yourself a break, if you haven't completed everything, and set the timer again.  I've tried this a few times and I have to say it's incredibly motivating.  Hopefully it continues to work for me!

I could make a goal to be less stressed/anxious, but I think that if I'm successful with my other two goals, a reduction in my stress levels will come naturally.

Wish me luck!

What are your goals for 2015?  Do you have any tips to help me be successful with mine?  I'll take all the help I can get!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mason Jar Lid Ornaments

Happy 2015!  I hope you all had a wonderful time ringing in the New Year!

I'm getting ready to pack up my Christmas decorations, but I wanted to get some Christmas crafts completed before I boxed everything up.  I found a bag full of Mason jar lids that I forgot about a few weeks ago, so I decided to put them to use.  Here's what I came up with.

Still can't get enough of that face!
If only I'd thought of this before Christmas...these would've made great gifts!  You could also turn this into a fun kid craft and let your kiddos decorate pieces of paper to put inside instead of using photos.

Here's what you'll need to do some photo ornaments.

  • Mason jar lids (both the rim and the flat interior)
  • Photo prints
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Paper scissors
  • Fabric scissors (every crafty gal should have a pair of separate fabric/ribbon scissors.  Cutting fabric with scissors usually used for paper will cause your fabric cuts to be messy.  It'll also make it more difficult to cut paper afterward with the same scissors.)
  • Tape
  • Paint and paint brushes or spray paint (optional)
  • A napping baby (optional)
Here's what you need to do:
  1. Place your jar lid upside-down over your photo and center the portion you want to display inside the opening.  Then trace around the OUTSIDE of the lid.  Then remove the lid. 
    Trace the OUTSIDE edge

    Look at that sweet, drooly mug...
  2.  Place the flat interior portion of the lid INSIDE the circle you just traced on your photo.  It's okay if it's not centered, it's just going to help you cut off the excess of the photo so it fits inside the lid.  (This is easier than cutting around the first line and eye-balling as you cut a bit more off.  It's also easier than cutting around the first line and then holding the lid interior over the cut picture to trim more off.  Trust me.  I tried it all). 
    Different photo.  Didn't try this method until the third picture.  Live and learn!
  3. Now cut along the inner-most line that you drew.  **If you are doing multiple lids/pictures, I recommend tracing and cutting all the pictures before decorating the lids.** 
    Can you see the double line on wee little Max's shirt?  Cut the innermost line.
  4. Now it's time to decorate your lid! (I don't have any photos of this part.  It's difficult/dangerous to use a glue gun and play photographer at the same time).  I simply glued ribbon around the outside rim of the jar lids, being sure to place a dot of glue at several points around the lid to ensure it was well-secured.  You can even layer ribbon types if you like.  Be sure to secure the ends of the ribbon with glue.
  5. Once your lid is dry, drop your photo face down into the jar lid.  Roll a piece of tape and place it on the back of the photo, then place the flat interior portion of the lid on top of it.  Secure with tape around the edge. (see photo in next step for example)
  6. Cut a length of ribbon/twine/rope and loop it.  This will be what you use to hang the lid ornament on your tree, so be sure it's long enough. Place a large blob of hot glue on the inside of the lid, at the top of your picture, and press the ends of the ribbon loop into the glue (use pencil, pen, or other stick-like object instead of your fingers because...ouch!) 
    Can you see the tape?
  7. Once the glue is dry, you can admire your craftiness by hanging your creation on your tree!

I painted the top rim of this lid before gluing the ribbon around the edge for a different look.  I used acrylic paint and a brush, but you would probably get better coverage with spray paint.  I also just decided that it could be super-cute to use buttons or beads to decorate the lid.  You could even do Mod Podge and glitter.  The possibilities are endless!

Aren't they cute?!  These were super quick to make...I was able to bang these out during Max's nap!

Is anyone else doing post-Christmas Christmas crafts like me, or am I the only one who wasn't "with it" enough to get this stuff done before Santa came?  I'm using my lack of planning as an excuse to keep my Christmas decorations up longer...gotta wait until I can pack the Christmas crafts up with the Christmas decorations!