Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: December 2014

Dear Sylvie,

These last couple of months have been quite the wild ride. You've grown up so much it's almost hard to believe. I thought this time I'd just tell you about a few of the things you say and do that make me laugh and on the flip side, make me want to tear my hair out.

You are getting to be quite a chatterbox. You are progressively speaking more in sentences than in one or two word phrases. You have to know where everybody is at all times and what they're doing, especially when you first wake up. Usually the first words out of your mouth are:

"Where Mama/Daddy go?"  or "Mama/Daddy go work in black car?"

Wearing Daddy's head and wrist bands for his Halloween costume. It looked like you were ready to kick some butt at dodge ball!
You also constantly ask what we're doing and want to participate. I'm sure this is why you're so interested in tying flies as Daddy is always sitting at his fly tying bench. He set you up with your own little vice and giant hook to tie on and you're actually getting really good. You love to sit there and tie your own fly and dictate what you're doing – "wrap it, wrap it..." It's the cutest thing ever.

You have several things that you really love. One of them is your "Big Bear". He goes with you EVERYWHERE. He's constantly tucked under your arm, occasionally wearing one of your shirts, and is frequently squeezed with such vehemence as to emit a grunt out of you. You love him so much.
We finally turned your car seat to face forward and you LOVE it!
A rare day on which you let me do your hair.

I cannot believe how much you pick up on. We have to be careful not to give you too much leeway with things or you will exploit the hell out of whatever we do. For instance, if you happen upon something that has bought you more time before taking a nap, you'll invoke it each time before we put you to bed. You will always say you're hungry or want a "pouch" (fruit pouch you get for snacks). There are some times where I think you might be legitimately hungry and the mother in me just can't bear to put you to bed without a snack, just in case. Other times I know you're so full you're about ready to pop and I call your bluff. One time Daddy put you to bed and you played around for a quite a while so he figured you weren't quite tired enough yet. So, he took you downstairs to watch football (you call it "fatball") for a while. So, now you frequently ask if you can "Watch fatball with Daddy?" when he puts you down for a nap. Very clever. You already know so many of our weak spots.

You LOVE to paint!
While you are generally very well behaved, you have begun the tantrum stage. Usually the tantrums come and go. You'll be an angel for a week or two and then have a few days in a row where I could swear your soul has been replaced with one of the Devil's imps. You'll be just fine one minute and then BAM something (sometimes we have no idea what) will set you off into a blind fury of screaming and crying and general irrationality. No amount of calm reasoning or threats will dissuade you in the slightest and I think "WHERE HAS MY SWEET LITTLE GIRL GONE?"

For instance, one day you wanted some grapes I was cutting up. So I thought I'd be nice and cut up a few and put them in a bowl for you. BUT NO. This would not do. You had to have TWO grapes in your hand right that moment and would not calm down until I removed them from the bowl and handed them to you. Of course 2 minutes later you came back looking for more grapes and I handed you the bowl full of grapes you'd previously shunned without incident. There is no knowing what is happening in that little mind of yours.

You wanted me to take your picture with Big Bear in your hood and asked me when you saw it why I was in the picture. Turns out you're 15, not 2 1/2 like I thought.
You are all about playing outside. It's the first thing you want to do every morning when you get up. This is getting a little harder to do as it gets cold and dark outside, but you still enjoy it just as much as you did during the warmer months. We got you a pair of rain boots and a full-body slicker for our trip to Oregon in a month and you especially love your boots. You want to wear them ALL THE TIME.

One of your common phrases is, "Oh yeah, I do!" This doesn't always make complete sense as you will use it for questions such as "Did you eat all your breakfast today?" or "Did Daddy take you to the park?" Daddy and I have taken to using this phrase as well. It'll be a wonder if you are ever able to determine correct speech patterns.

A rare occasion on which you let me try something new with your hair. 
Just a short incident that happened one weekend – Daddy and I were sitting in your room with you and you were scuttling about playing with toys or whatnot. At one point you decided to leave the room for some purpose and as you opened the door to leave you said, "Don't worry, I'll be right back." Daddy and I just looked at each other and laughed in wonder at your grown-up sounding sentence. You really do listen to everything we say.
You LOVE to go get donuts and watch them being made.
 This year you are really loving the Christmas season. You LOVE Christmas lights and point them out wherever we go. We put our Christmas tree up just before Thanksgiving and it is your favorite thing. You call it your "Trismas Tree" and ask every morning if Christmas is still here. We also got a little nativity set for you to play with which you took to immediately. Not too long after it was out of the package, you sent "Baby Zeesus" on a bus ride to the park with the Angel. I have a feeling you are going to be very upset when we have to put Christmas away in another month.

Helping Daddy put the star on the Christmas tree.

Baby Jesus on a bus to the park.
As far as physical milestones go, you are very good at opening and closing doors. You also frequently lock doors, but have figured out with a small amount of coaching how to open them. You love to jump off of things and practice running as fast as you can. You are getting really good at going up and down stairs standing up, though we still try to hold your hand as you aren't super reliable yet. You're very good at drinking out of a regular cup and eating with a fork or spoon. Half of the time I forget to put a bib on you because you're such a clean eater. We have not tried potty training again yet, but I think we're going to try again after Christmas to see if you're ready. You love to flush the potty and you're getting much better at pulling down your pants/removing your clothing.

Here are just a few of your random likes/dislikes:


Movies (esp. Annie, Despicable Me ("Me"), Finding Nemo, and Toy Story)
Sugary Cereal (esp. Trix ("Balls" and Fruit Loops)
Candy (esp. suckers)
Rain Boots
Your pink phone (Mommy's old smartphone that you play songs on)
Wearing multiple shirts
Scrambled Eggs (usually)
Licking the beaters
Helping mama cook/bake
Tying flies
Coloring & Painting
Pizza crust (you eat that end first when we get pizza)
Opening & Closing Doors
Jumping/playing on beds
Green yogurt (lime flavor)
Soda & Juice
Taking your vitamin ("man")
Eating your pizza crust-first.

Meat (you'll rarely eat it)
Potatoes (unless they're fries)
Getting your teeth or hair brushed
Putting on pants
Getting your diaper changed
Trying new foods

Turns out it was hard for me to think of things you don't like. You're generally so easy going and love to play and explore new things. It's a rare occasion you're sad or grumpy for any length of time. You're so fun and full of life and your Daddy and I just love watching you grow and experience things. We enjoy you more and more each day and are so happy to have you in our lives. You're our little ray of sunshine.

I love you Huggie Buggie!

Love, Mama

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's a Boy!

Ok so I'm a little late posting this but thought I should do another pregnancy update. A couple weeks ago we went in for the "big" ultrasound to find out what baby #2 would be. I swear the wait up to that point felt like it'd been like 5 years. I was so excited to find out.

Seth & I took Sylvie with us to the ultrasound appointment that morning and eagerly watched and waited as the tech pointed out and measured all the important parts. We were both waiting for the big lead up to the reveal and were caught off guard as she casually mentioned "looks like you've got a boy." Wait, WHAT? Did we just hear what we thought we heard? It took us a second to realize what was going on. This giant piece of information was just thrown out as if it was another statistic like a leg measurement. THIS WAS HUGE!

Needless to say, Seth and I were both ecstatic. I teared up and tried to hold myself together as I processed this life-changing piece of information. Seth and I would have two kids: a girl and a boy. Our little family was complete and this is what it looked like.

We were both divided on what we were hoping for. I thought it'd be fun for Sylvie to have a little sister. And it'd be nice to be able to have another baby that got to wear all of the adorable clothes she'd outgrown. Plus I'm a pro at girls. Most of my real experience with kids has been with Sylvie and my own two sisters growing up. I don't know much about little boys except that they can squirt you in the eye if you're not careful. But, I thought having a boy would be a cool new adventure and the possibility of having a mini-Seth look-a-like pattering around the house was also very appealing. I knew I'd be happy with whatever came our way.

But here it was. We were having a boy. The option that carries more uncertainty and less knowledge and familiarity. And I couldn't be happier. Turns out my hunch was right. I thought there was a possibility the initial lack of morning sickness in those first couple of weeks and the lack of any kind of food aversions indicated something very different this time around.

These days I'm feeling great. My bump seems to be growing at an incredible rate. I've been asked several times if I'm having twins. Carrying Sylvie around is getting harder and harder to do as we both get bigger, which is hard for both of us. We're learning to be content with snuggling on a chair. I figure it'll help transition us to our new scenario which will involve me holding a baby instead of my little toddler.

At this point we're just trying to make it through the winter months. Baby Boy doesn't have a name yet and it's proving to be the most difficult part of this whole process. It's a good thing we have some time to argue about it think it over. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: September 2014

Dear Sylvie,

Things have been a little crazy around here lately and I haven't been quite as diligent in writing about you and your milestones. That's not to say there is a lack of things to talk about, however.

Hanging out with Daddy
I honestly can't believe how much you have progressed in the last couple of months, especially with your language skills. You're like a little sponge – constantly listening to everything around you and repeating what you hear. I can actually understand a lot of what you say, as basic as your language is. You're beginning to put together multi-word sentences and can tell me little events that happened during the day, or details about something you see. You know all your colors and love to point to things at random and tell me what color they are. Grandma & Grandpa Hanson came to visit recently and even a couple of weeks after they'd been here, you kept talking about "Grandma & Grandpa's red car." You love to look out the window and name the colors of all the cars on the street.

Helping Mommy make cookies. You love to help in the kitchen!

You are very good at your letters. You don't repeat the alphabet, but you can identify about 80% of the letters. You love to point out the letters on signs and tell me what they are. You're also starting to get a handle on counting and numbers. Usually when I ask you how old you are you'll say "2!" and hold up your fingers to show me (even though you have a hard time with that part and it usually looks like a 3). You know what "one" and "two" are and can count to two. The other day while we were sitting at the dinner table you tooted twice and correctly said, "TWO TOOTS!" My favorite thing lately is instead of saying "one, two, three" before you do something you say "two, nine, ten!" I have to make a concerted effort not to encourage the adorable, but incorrect counting.

Out getting donuts on a Saturday morning.

Your new "hat"

You have recently started saying "OK" instead of "yes." These terms are not always interchangeable. For instance, you will say something like "Play outside?" and I'll repeat "You want to play outside?" just to make sure I've heard you correctly. Then you'll enthusiastically say "Oh OK!" as if I just presented you with this great idea that you are now agreeing to.

Having a blast playing in the Ogden River

While you have always being outdoors, over the last few months you have become quite the little adventurer. Your daddy will frequently take you out in the morning to various places like Antelope Island, walking along different places on the Weber River, or to the park to feed ducks. Recently we went for a hike up by Snowbasin. You hiked the whole way up, picking up small rocks and "jumping" off the bigger ones, and refused to be carried at all. You were also very interested in seeing deer. You chattered the whole time asking "Where did the deer go?" and looking all around. At one point you claimed you saw one.

Hiking up to Green Pond at Snowbasin

You have a handful of favorite things right now. Daniel Tiger is out and Disney movies are in. More specifically "Nemo" and "Miyama"(Llama) aka "The Emperors New Groove." While you watch your movies you like to have "Tohwn" (popcorn) or chips. Even better is when I let you watch movies with me in my bed (on the Kindle). Sometimes I'll get you a little bowl of grapes instead of popcorn or chips. Maybe I should even switch to broccoli. You will tune out and watch your show and mindlessly eat everything in your bowl.

You and your cute cousin Liam at the fair.

Milking the cow with Soren & Liam
Speaking of favorite foods, you have a handful of items that you would eat at any time. Your most recent find is Trix cereal which you call "balls." You will now eat cereal with milk (woohoo!) and it's the cutest to hear you ask for your "balls with moot." You also love corn and tomatoes. You will easily eat a whole ear of corn by yourself. And you love to eat the little yellow grape tomatoes from the garden. You also like the larger red tomatoes in the garden as well, especially when you get to pick them. The other day you picked a nice red one and immediately started eating it like an apple. It was the cutest thing ever to see you tottering around the yard munching on your tomato. Did I mention you call tomatoes "toes"? Adorable. Oh and how could I forget about fries and juice? It's kind of a tradition to go out once a week and get McDonald's. Once when I took you there after we went to the park we got an ice cream cone too. So now whenever we're driving around running errands you think it's fries, juice, and ice cream time. Sometimes you're right!

Chomping on corn at the Idaho Fair

Eating your favorite... tomatoes!
Your biggest accomplishment as of late is your mastery of the swing set. You will finally go down the slide all by yourself. You go down the slide and climb up the slide. You always look so proud of yourself. Heck you'll even go down some of the slides at the park by yourself! And all of a sudden you love to swing. You used to hate it and wouldn't last more than 30 seconds, if you'd even get on it at all. Now you'll swing for an hour if we let you, especially if you're playing "swing ball" with Daddy. This is where you hold a ball and then throw it in a way that Daddy can't catch it. I am not good at swing ball. Daddy claims he can catch just about everything you throw. You think it's so funny and will giggle and laugh like it's the funniest thing you've ever seen.

Showing off your slide skills.

Daddy or I will occasionally tell you about the baby in my belly, just to prep you a little and keep you in the loop. One time Daddy asked you if it was going to be a brother or sister and you told him it was a brother. So I asked you on a separate occasion if there was a boy or a girl in there and you said it was a boy. We'll see in a few weeks whether you're right! I think you're going to be a great big sister.

Sylvie your Daddy and I love you so much. You are just the sweetest little girl. You're always so fun to be around and your laughs and crazy antics make me want to constantly smother you in hugs and kisses. I couldn't have asked for a better daughter.

I love you Sylvie Sue!

Love, Mama

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Week 10: Kumquat

Thought I'd give a more recent update of the baby happenings around here since there's been a bit more to tell.

First of all, I broke the big news of my pregnancy to family and work this week. Though, I'm not sure it was really necessary as everyone already kind of knew from my appearance. I had an older dude at work ask me last week if I had the "Egyptian flu" (going to be a mummy... har har har). Looks like I'm showing a bit earlier this time around! No big deal, it just means I get to wear my comfy maternity pants sooner! Ha!

I also had my first doctor's appointment and ultrasound. Unfortunately they were not on the same day and I wasn't sure what would take place with the doctor, so I had Seth & Sylvie come along. I didn't want Seth to miss out on hearing a heart beat. But, turns out Sylvie is all too experienced in the ways of the doctor and was scared and crying most of the time. We tried to give her snacks and assure her that it was Mommy's turn this time, but she wasn't having any of it. Luckily nothing much happened and Seth was able to take her outside mid-way through without missing anything but a blood draw.

The good news is, when we came back a couple of days later for the first ultrasound, Sylvie had been prepped a little. I told her we were going to watch the baby in Mommy's tummy on a tv and showed her what the technician lady would do to me. It also helped that as soon as we got in the room I climbed up on the evil paper covered table. This was a sure sign that this in fact was Mommy's turn. We got to see a great image and 3D video of the baby with arms and legs kicking and moving. Pretty dang cool. It was quite a bit different than when we saw Sylvie at 8 weeks. She was mostly a little bean-shaped lump. We didn't get to hear the heart beat this time because they've upgraded the equipment and they don't like to do the heart beat this early on anymore because it's too strong. But hopefully when I go back in a few more weeks we'll get to hear it.

As far as my pregnancy symptoms go, things haven't been too bad. The nausea did rear its ugly head at about the 6 week mark. Nothing too serious and I think it's a little better than it was with Sylvie. So long as I keep food in my stomach I feel ok. I always feel the most sick at night, especially while brushing my teeth or after I take a prenatal vitamin. Somehow those two things have made me lose my lunch a couple times. I do feel more tired this time around and haven't had much motivation to do anything. But luckily the nausea and tiredness seem to be subsiding. I'm hoping they'll completely disappear at 12 weeks like they did last time.

At this point we're just super excited and crossing our fingers everything continues to progress normally. I'm doing my best to keep baby supplied with cheeseburgers so I feel like I'm doing everything I can! :D

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here Comes Another One!

Written July 15, 2014

At the end of 2013 Seth came to me and said he thought we should start trying for a second kid. Now I don't know why this always takes me by surprise. It's something I'm constantly analyzing... are we ready? can I handle a second kid yet? what about money? what about sleep? In my mind we hadn't quite made it yet and I wasn't really sure how things would work out, so I was in "waiting" mode. So I was a little freaked out by Seth's proposition. But over the next couple days we talked things through and came up with a pretty solid plan. Then I decided that come Christmas, we'd give it a go.

I was hoping the second time around would come easier, but it seemed to be a long, drawn out process like it was the first time. It took us 9 months to get a pregnancy to "stick" the first time around. I was pretty diligent with the ovulation times and such on the 2nd go, but that little stick would just not give me the sign I wanted. So, I went searching for ways to improve my odds. I was pretty consistent at taking my pre-natals and omega-3 & omega-6s, but they didn't seem to be helping much. It wasn't until 6 months later when I cut out caffeine completely that we got the big fat positive. 

It took me by surprise really. In the past when I tested positive I'd felt lots of symptoms before I got the confirmation on the test. This time, we'd been on vacation with Seth's family and I'd expected Aunt Flow to come and ruin the trip (like she so often does). She still hadn't come by the time we got home that Sunday evening so I decided to just pee on a stick for fun. I set it down in the bathroom and forgot about it for a few minutes. When I finally remembered I went in and picked it up and lo and behold, there were 2 lines instead of the one I was used to seeing. Wha? I dug the instructions out of the garbage just to make sure I was reading it right. Yep sure enough. This was positive. I ran into the bedroom and showed it to Seth. He just looked sort of stunned and caught off guard. We exchanged our hopes that this would stick and went on with our evening. The next day I took one of my fancy electronic tests. PREGNANT. Wow. I tried not to get my hopes up. It took a few positives the first time around before one stuck. I hoped I wouldn't have to go through that again. 

But, it has been over a week now and little sesame seed is still in there. I haven't had a lick of symptoms. No nausea. No food aversions. The last day or two my bewbs have been very faintly sore, but nothing I'd notice normally. Ok fine, I'm a little more gassy and bloated but that's it. I wouldn't complain if this pregnancy decided to go easy on me. Now for the planning to begin...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: 2 Years!

Dear Sylvie,

Well, you made it! You are officially 2 years old! I think you've known there was a big milestone coming up because you have been learning and doing so many new things.

Climbing on the rocks at the park. You love to go there to feed the ducks.
You are becoming quite the little chatterbox. I can't believe how many words you can say now compared to a couple of months ago. You'll generally try to say just about any word, though you still look at me like I'm crazy when I try to get you to say large words like "hippopotamus." You finally refer to me as "Mama." When you get excited you point to all the things and say "Mama Dada Mama Dada Mama Mama Mama!!" Your newest words are grandpa & grandma, though they both sound like "Papa." Every old man we see is now Papa. You can also say duck, peas, pool, home, meow (for cat), again, sauce, ball, all done, shoes, tall, popcorn, Nemo, down, blue, car, ah oh, mess, poop, yes, yeah, & no. I'm sure there are more. There are a lot of things you can identify but can't say the word for. You know all your animals, colors, and body parts. You also make up signs for different things, the most common being "thirsty" and "hungry". You'll point to your tongue for thirsty and pat your chest when you're hungry. You now use these signals when it's time for bed to try and stall the inevitable. Sometimes it actually works!

Wearing two of your favorite things – your shades and your robe.

You have a great sense of humor. I don't know how you can identify jokes at this young age but you do. One day I was naming off a list of things trying to figure out what you wanted to eat. You were answering 'no' to all my suggestions so I asked you if you wanted a "kick in the bum." You immediately smiled with delight at such a prospect. I now routinely ask you if you want a kick in the bum just to get a smile out of you. You also show embarrassment at your father's crazy antics. He'll sing a song using a weird voice and you'll look at him and shake your head and say "Daadaa". I'm going to give you a hint here and tell you that giving Daddy a reaction to his antics will only encourage him.

Farmer Sylvie out harvesting your peas. It's the first thing you ask for when you get up.

Although we haven't started the potty training process yet, you are slowly becoming more interested in the idea. You'll sit on your potty while Mom or Daddy is in the bathroom and once I caught you just in time and got you to poop in the potty! More of a fluke than anything but it's a start! You really hate getting your diaper changed so I think you'll be much happier when you can wear your big girl panties.

You've taken to removing your pants while you're sitting on the potty and putting them on your head as a nice hat.
You're getting much better with your physical coordination. You can climb up the ladder on your little slide, screw lids on & off, drink out of a regular cup, climb up into your high chair, and you can walk pretty long distances. You are also getting much better at doing puzzles. You got a new farm animal puzzle for your birthday and I left you to put it together one day on your own. It took you about 10 minutes to finish but you ran into the kitchen to tell me you were done so I could come see your work. You were very proud of yourself. Since then you have gotten much faster and have a couple other puzzles you can do as well.

This year we had your birthday a little early so we could have more family members there. You had a Daniel Tiger theme because you LOVE Daniel Tiger. You watch it every day. Grandpa Fred & Grandma Denise and the Westons came for the party. We had pizza and Daniel Tiger cupcakes. You didn't quite get the blowing out the candle thing, but you did eat some of your cake this year! You really seemed to like your party this year and had a lot of fun. Actually you kind of had 2 parties. Your cousin Luke is just a week older than you so we had a double party during our Hanson family reunion down in Cedar City. You got to hit a pinata and play with all your cousins. Luke was very nice to share his party with you.

Eating your Daniel Tiger birthday cupcake. You wouldn't touch it with your hands.

Looking at the cute play food your Auntie Annie made you for your birthday.

Testing out your new pink bike.

Your Daniel Tiger party decorations.

Whacking the pinata at your cousin Luke's birthday party.
In general, you continue to be very obedient and helpful. You can put away all the clean silverware from the dishwasher into their correct places in the drawer and you will always help put away your books and toys where they go. Your little basket full of board books is usually pretty immaculate with all the spines facing out. You are also really good at putting your laundry away. You know right where your shirts and socks go and love to help Mommy by putting them in their place. I definitely think you got your Dad's cleanliness genes. The other day I was making something in the kitchen and you got very quiet playing in the living room. I called to you and didn't get an answer for a couple seconds so I went to investigate. Suddenly I heard your little feet pattering towards me and as you burst into the kitchen, you furiously started "cleaning" things with a ragged looking napkin you'd found. You cleaned EVERYTHING – the chairs, the window, the stools, the fridge, even the pedal on the trashcan. It was so dang adorable. Then, when you were all done I figured I'd take advantage of your cleaning spree and gave you the Swiffer broom to push around. You thought it was fun so that makes it OK (you threw a fit the other day when I wouldn't let you have a turn because you were being grabby and not asking nicely). Along those lines, we've started small punishments when you don't behave. Usually all it takes is a threat for you to go stand in the corner and you'll do what you're asked, though we have had to enforce the dreaded corner a couple of times.

You during your cleaning spree.

Cleaning up the "mess" on the floor.

Sylvie you bring so much joy into our lives. The hugs and the giggles and the sweetness make my heart feel like bursting. Every day I love you more and more and I love to see you grow and learn and become your own little person. It's crazy for me to think that one day you'll be all grown up. Hopefully by then you'll wear more clothing when you go outside. But for now, I'll soak up all your babyness for as long as I can. I sure love you Huggie Buggie.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beauty Tip Series: Curly Hair Perfection

When I was a kid I had stick straight hair. Gradually as I've gotten older my hair has become more wavy. Which is actually the best of both worlds. Having wavy hair makes it easy for me to go straight or curly depending on my mood.

For years my curly hair success days had been a bit hit-or-miss. The good days my hair looked evenly curled and not too frizzy. On bad days my hair would be flat on top and have loose, frizzy looking waves. No big deal... a messy bun always fixed that. But, I wanted a more reliable way to get beautiful, soft, defined curls every time. Lucky for me I stumbled across the Curly Girl method and I can't believe the difference a couple of tweaks in my hair routine have made in the outcome of my curls. Now, some of these processes are more crucial than others. Some are a bonus if you can work them in. I'll let you know the importance of each as I walk you through the process. And of course feel free to check out the Naturally Curly website for more info on your specific hair type. I'm just going to generalize the process and tell you what works well for me.

Before: Frizzy and flat
AFTER! Curly & defined!

Before you step in the shower to wash your hair, make sure you have the following at the ready (in addition to your shampoo & conditioner):

  1. Wide Tooth Comb (essential)
  2. Product for your curls (essential)
  3. Microfiber towel (bonus)

After cleansing your hair, apply conditioner and comb it through to evenly distribute and detangle hair. This will be the only time you comb your hair as anything after this will make your hair frizzy. Rinse out the conditioner and grab your hair product. I really like Suave Professionals Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse because it creates nice curls without being crunchy. Plus it's cheap & easy to find.
Readily available and only about $2
With your hair soaking wet, flip your hair upside-down and squeeze out the excess water. Shake your hair at the roots with your fingers to separate the curls naturally. Using a generous amount of product (I use a palm-ful of mousse), emulsify it between your palms and lift your hair up to your scalp and then scrunch. Repeat over all the hair.

With your hair still flipped over, use a microfiber towel (microfiber doesn't cause hair to frizz as much as regular towels but I haven't seen a huge difference here) to lift hair up to the scalp and scrunch. Repeat to remove excess water from hair. Do not wrap your hair in the towel or rub the towel over your hair. Only use it to lift the hair up to your scalp and scrunch. This is a key technique.

At this point your can flip your hair back over but don't touch it. You're technically supposed to let your hair air dry at this point but my hair doesn't turn out very well this way. I typically let mine air dry a bit then finish it off with a diffuser. If you want to use a diffuser, carefully pile curls onto the diffuser head, put it up to your scalp, and allow it to sit there and dry on low-- moving the hair dryer to different sections until it's dry (or nearly dry). Try to move/touch hair as little as possible because the more you touch it, the more frizz it creates.

That's basically it. I've found that adding product to super wet hair and using the scrunching technique have had the most influence on how my curls turn out. I went from fuzzy-ish waves to more defined corkscrew type curls by following this method. What do you think? Try it out for yourself and let me know!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Beauty Tip Series: Cowashing

I’ve been meaning to do another “I Can Vouch for That” post of my favorite products, but lately I’ve found more processes I like than actual products. More specifically, beauty processes. After a lot of experimentation I’ve found a couple things that really work well for me so I thought I’d pass them along in a series of posts.

Twice now I’ve tried going “no poo” or shampooless. It typically involves washing your hair with baking soda and conditioning with a diluted apple cider vinegar rinse. I tried all the combinations of ratios and just never liked the results of this. Plus I just didn’t like the process. It was a pain and didn’t have a very satisfying feel to it like using shampoo. And truth be told, I don’t think my hair is that horrible to begin with so switching to something so drastic just didn’t seem to be that beneficial. It’s not like I’m spending hundreds of dollars on shampoo and conditioner every month.

What I have tried with success is “co-washing” or washing with conditioner. I know. I’ll be the first one to admit I was skeptical of this because I have oily hair and have to wash it every day. I can get away with using a dry shampoo on off days if I pull my hair up but it never looks too good. Basically the purpose of cowashing is to keep more of the natural oils in your hair. This is especially good if you’ve got dry hair or process it a lot.

The process basically involves using a silicone (and other “cones”) free conditioner as shampoo. There are small amounts of cleansing agents in conditioner and it turns out it’s plenty to get all the oils & dirt out of your hair. The good news with this method is one of the best conditioners to use is Suave Naturals… the conditioner that costs like $1 per bottle.

To wash your hair with conditioner, just get your hair wet and using several palm-fuls of conditioner (you can’t use too much), work it into your scalp and the length of your hair. Massage your scalp really well to get all the dirt loosened up (like you normally do with shampoo). At this point use a wide toothed comb to detangle your hair and evenly distribute the conditioner (this is a critical step if you have curly hair… I’ll cover this in my next post). Then rinse really well with warm water. Sometimes I’ll add a higher quality conditioner to the ends of my hair and rinse again (with cooler water), but it’s not really necessary.

So that’s it! I still use a regular shampoo about once a week for my problem scalp, but for most people that wouldn’t really be necessary. I’m really liking my new cowashing process and think I’ll keep it around for a while. If any of you have tried this I’d like to hear your experience and/or tips as well!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: 21 Months

Dear Sylvie,

I can't believe two more months have gone by. Soon enough you'll be TWO!

I always marvel at the things you pick up on your own. You'll start to do one thing or another and I'll wonder where you came up with it. You've become more amenable to sitting down to watch a movie and depending on your mood you'll usually watch for 30 minutes or so. We've been starting in on the Disney movies which you seem to really like. One evening we made some popcorn and gathered on the couch to watch Cinderella. You sat there on the couch with Daddy and me and watched the movie while blindly reaching for  popcorn in the bowl. It was like you'd done it a million times! So funny.

Having fun in the photo booth. The dynamics in the last pic kill me. 

At the Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum... You loved it!

Your first ice cream cone (which was promptly devoured)
We recently put in a big sandbox for you and you love to sit out there and play with your buckets and shovels. The other day I was playing with you and made a sand castle out of one of your molds. When I lifted the mold off to reveal the sand castle underneath, your eyes went huge with amazement and awe at this "magic" I'd just performed.

Playing in your sandbox
A couple months ago on a rainy day I gave you some dry beans to play with. Since then you play with them almost every day and enjoy putting them in your pots and pans. You pretend to feed them to the kitty or your teddy bear or Mom and Daddy. We give you different reactions each time you feed them to us, one of which is telling you the beans need more salt. You've started to mime adding salt to the beans and it's the cutest thing ever. You also pretend to eat things as well. Which doesn't work out so well when I want you to actually taste your food, not pretend to taste it!

You're getting big enough now that you can play on playgrounds and walk a bit during our walks. Whenever we walk on a path you constantly stop to investigate rocks and sticks (both of which you'll hand to Mommy or Daddy to carry). You do your penguin walk or your little shuffley walk or run as fast as you can. You can actually walk pretty far now without getting tired. When we go to the playground you mainly like the slides. It usually takes you a little while to go up and down the stairs though because you have to brush off all the wood chips or rocks you find there before moving up to the next step. You're not quite big enough to go down the slides yourself so you sit on my lap or I hold your hands. You always get so excited when you see the playground and I think you get a little frustrated when you see bigger kids running around and climbing things that you can't. All in due time.

Playing with giant abacus at the park.

You are getting to be quite the good little helper. You help put away your clothes into their drawers when I do the laundry and you empty your forks and spoons out of the dishwasher and put them in their spot in the drawer when Daddy does the dishes. When he empties the garbage cans you'll go put the bathroom trash can back in its place. You're pretty consistent at putting things away when we ask you to, or fetching one object or another if we need it.

First trip to the zoo. You loved this little otter as well as the giraffes.

Showing off your little top-notches.
You're still not talking too much (at least that we can understand), but you are picking up a few words here and there. You say Mama and Dada (though Mama isn't necessarily directed at me), up and down, this, and right there. You have a lot more signs and actions you make. You will do a fish gulping noise when you see or hear mention of a fish, you'll flap your arms like a chicken, make the little chick "cheap" movement with your hands, point to your ear when you hear a loud noise like an airplane or truck (I've never realized how many planes fly over our house), and raise your hands above your head for something big. You did this when you saw the giraffe at the zoo. You definitely have a way of getting your point across.

You love to smell the flowers in the yard.

 Grandma Denise sharing her potato chips with you at the weenie roast. She knows how to win you over!

Sylvie I am just amazed everyday at what a good little girl you are. You're so smart and sweet and happy, and it's unbelievably fun to watch you grow and learn. You are a bright light in our lives and we're so happy to have you.

Love, Mommy

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Letters to Sylvie: 19 Months

Dear Sylvie,

Over the last couple of months you have really grown up! You can do so many things and are becoming so independent. It seems you pick up on something new everyday. Your coordination is getting remarkably better.

You can eat very well with a spoon or fork now and you can drink out of a straw. The types of foods you can eat are slowly increasing as you've finally sprouted four molars! Yeah for real teeth! As you get more and more used to eating by yourself, you are wanting more independence and don't like as much help. You'll allow us to cut up your daily pancakes for you, but other foods such as quesadillas and sandwiches have to be to left whole. Cutting things up is for babies! Your daddy and I were a little too proud the other day when you ate a small slice of pizza.

Your favorite food is definitely yogurt!
Along the food lines... you are officially and completely weaned. You were technically done just after Christmas. I was determined to stop getting up with you at night so I used the time over the holidays when your dad was home to make the transition. We went to visit your Grandma and Grandpa Hanson up in Idaho around the New Year and I put you to bed at your normal time of 8:00 pm. Two hours later, just as I got into bed, you woke up and started crying. Not wanting to get up out of my warm bed, I spoke into the baby monitor and said, "Sylvie, go to sleep." I was amazed when you immediately stopped crying and went to sleep. This happened a couple more times during the night and every time I told you to go back to sleep you did. I never had to get up with you again after that and you currently sleep for 12 hours solid during the night. Woohoo! I was very glad the process ended up being much easier than anticipated for both of us.

You have so many cute things you do every day. Lately you are loving the teddy bear your Uncle Scott & Aunt Amanda got you for Christmas. You carry it around and hug it and take it to bed with you. It's super adorable. You generally like to carry things around or move them from place to place, even more so if you can sit on said objects. You'll sit on anything that is just your height. Your very favorite thing is the little wood stool your Great Grandpa Warnes made for you. Second in line is your pink potty chair (which you're still just getting used to and not actually using), followed by 12 packs of soda and stairs. You've started to practice walking backwards and sometimes combine this with sitting on things. You'll squat down and slowly back up until your bum hits your selected chair. Cracks me up! You've also figured out how to use your stool to climb up on things. You're not too crazy yet... just climbing up on the couches, but I'm sure you'll figure out how to get into more trouble soon.

You and your teddy bear

Sitting on your "Coke bench"

You are getting very good at mimicking me & Daddy. If we put our coats on, you have to put your coat on. If I don't wear gloves, you don't want gloves. I've been counting your fingers and toes when I get you undressed and you've started to "count" as well. But you don't actually say numbers, you just copy the intonation of my voice and say "eh, eh, eh, eh, EH!" Ha ha, it's a start I guess!

Daddy said you picked out this outfit yourself
For the longest time you didn't like to be snuggled in blankets. Whenever I'd try to put a blanket over you you'd immediately pull it off. Lately though you've completely changed your mind. Whenever you're in your carseat you have to have a blanket tucked over your bottom half otherwise you'll squawk and fuss the entire ride. You also have to have the fuzzy owl blanket Grandma Denise made you for Christmas covering you when we read books in the rocking chair. It's so fun to snuggle you.

Being consoled by snacks after Mommy cut your hair
One more thing I'll mention is your toys and organization. You love to play with your big Lego blocks and the picnic basket you got for Christmas. You are very good at putting the blocks together and building towers or putting the picnic food onto the plates and pretending to eat. I'm not sure how you know, but you are very aware which toys belong where. You never mix the Legos with your picnic basket stuff and you are very good at putting them away where they go. Daddy said yesterday you built a tower with the Legos then when you were finished, you pulled all the blocks apart and put them away in the Lego bag. Everything has a place and you know right where to put it. This comes in very handy when you help me with the laundry. You really are a great little helper!

Your first time coloring
Sylvie, you are always such a joy to be around. I have so much fun playing with you and being around you. You are constantly smiling and laughing and are just the happiest little girl. You are so smart and full of energy and I can't help but be happy when I'm around you. I sure love being your mommy.

Love, Mama