Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Charlie's First Dinosaur Playdate

Hi everyone! Charlie had his first ever play date last week and I thought I'd share some of the crafts we did. It was so fun and probably the cutest thing ever. Charlie kept talking about his best friend, D, so I gathered up my courage and called his mom (who I didn't know) to schedule a play date. We initially scheduled for a Monday and charlie was SO excited but then his mom had to cancel at the last minute. There were SO many tears, yikes! Luckily we could reschedule for the next day!

Charlie mentioned that his friend LOVED dinosaurs so I found some dinosaur activities that could keep them busy for part of the time while he was over.  I thought I'd share them here because they worked really well and were easy to boot :)

Dinosaur Dig:  I bought a little tub of plastic dinosaurs and 2 tubs of cornstarch to make this activity; you can find the original post HERE.  It was a definite hit with the boys!  First, mix one tub of cornstarch with enough water to dissolve it and dye it any color you like with food coloring.  Once it's thoroughly mixed you can drop in your plastic dinosaurs and set out to dry.  If you want you can also swirl a few extra drops of food coloring on the top for a cool marble-y effect :)

Since I was doing this the night before I didn't have enough time for it to air dry completely.  When I came downstairs in the morning most of the cornstarch had settled to the bottom of the tupperware so I carefully drained off the water on top.  After that I microwaved in intervals of 30 seconds to 1 minute until it seemed dry (make sure you let it cool after each spin in the microwave).  The picture on the right shows what it looks like when it's nice and dry; you'll see cracks along the top that help it look like a fossil rock :)

I gave the kids tools to dig into the cornstarch and find the dinosaurs.  I also gave them a bowl of water and a toothbrush to clean off each dinosaur.

This is what it looked like at the end.  The cornstarch hardened but was still pretty crumbly so it wasn't too hard for them to "dig".  They both really thought it was an awesome activity so I highly recommend trying it.

Afterwards the kids played with one of Charlie's giant dinosaurs while I cleaned up and set up the next activity.  How cute are they playing, right?

The next activity was making dinosaur fossils.  It was very easy, I had the kids help measure 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to make a simple salt dough.  After I let it rest for 15 minutes they rolled out some circles and pressed their little plastic dinosaurs, that they previously dug up, into the dough to make a fossil-like imprint.  If you'd like to see more directions you can see HERE, where I originally found the idea. 

Once they were done I microwaved the fossils to cure the dough and then they painted them brown, green, and black to look "authentic" haha.  They came out very cute, but I forgot to get a photo of the finished product.

I also found some free dinosaur printables for coloring while the kids waiting for the fossils to cure. Although that only took up about 5 minutes of a 4 hour playdate so it wasn't that big of a hit when D wanted to play with all of Charlie's toys haha.

I hope this gives you some fun ideas for a dinosaur play date! Charlie loved having his friend over and showing him all of his toys/his room.  It was definitely a success!

Friday, March 13, 2015

New 2015 Blog Header

Hi everyone!! It's a New Year (or it was back in January when I made this lol) which means I need a new blog header!  This year I went for a shabby chic vibe with lots of frills, flowers, and layers.  I used the past Miss Nelson kit from Noel Mignon and I really loved making it super girly!  Unfortunately I never got around to getting a photo from Robb so this is just an iPhone picture but hopefully it still looks OK :/

Here are the past 4 years of blog headers for your perusal:




So which one is your favorite?! I think 2012 is definitely one of my top choices but it's so hard to choose!

Monday, March 9, 2015

What We've Been Up To

Hi everyone! I know it's been a while since I've posted, sorry about that.  Things have been busy and boring all at once :) I will have some new posts coming up but for now here's a little glimpse to what we've been up to lately

I made a new 2015 Blog Header (which I really need to get photographed and posted on the blog already) and 3 new layouts!

Ungodly amounts of snow (this photo was just the first storm, there have been many more since so it's like 3 ft of snow everywhere at all times and it makes me want to cry)

I spent a month gathering ingredients and one very long day making the exact recipe for Momofuku ramen broth (which was delicious BTW, I'll be sharing the recipe!)

Charlie and I have been to an insane amount of Doctor's appointments

It's been cold enough to wear hats indoors (as if the stupid snow wasn't bad enough. I hate winter!)

Charlie made Valentine's Day treat bags for his friends and attended a Valentine's Day party at preschool

Lastly, Charlie is a bit under the weather at the moment and on a strong antibiotic to hopefully get rid of a cough he's had for a few weeks now.  Not sure what will happen- last year at this exact time Charlie was also on the same antibiotic (which didn't work) and had to be admitted to the hospital for IVs.  We're prepared if that happens but hoping that it doesn't obviously :) I'll update here as I learn more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

If You Don't Vaccinate Your Kids

I wrote this blog post about 6 months ago, before the recent measles epidemic and all of the vaccination stuff came to the forefront again. As you know, as a reader of my blog, I've been on a high horse about vaccinations for quite a while.  When this whole measles thing happened I thought to myself "I'm just so damn sick of having to defend vaccines to these people" so I didn't even post about it. I didn't comment on messageboards, I stayed out of it completely.  However while I was writing new posts (yes I will update my blog again I promise haha) I came upon this article I had written but deemed too bitchy to post.  Maybe now with the measles/whooping cough outbreaks it's not too bitchy anymore, so I'm posting it!  It's mean, condescending, and littered with swear words. But that's how I was feeling when I wrote it and still how I feel about the topic when I see it come up. I realize articles like this are approaching the anti-vaxxers in all the wrong ways, but WTH I'm posting it anyways.  Even if it was nice and thoroughly referenced I know the anti vaxxers would ignore it so I might as well put it out there.  Maybe someone will agree with me ;)


Why Do I Have to Be Nice to Dummies?

I'm so fed up with stupidity so I'm going to be an asshole in this post. I sure hope you feel no allegiance to be nice to me, otherwise the title would not be applicable.  I'm all fired up from a situation that happened a couple days ago and wanted to write a post to talk about it.

First off, there was a debate on the CF FB group for moms about vaccines. You might have realized by now that I am VERY pro-vaccine. Anyways, I was SHOCKED to see that there is an entire group of CF moms that don't vaccinate. Yup, you read that right. So I linked to my past vaccine post, expressed my opinion and posted about the topic as I have a unique perspective with my background (not that any anti-vax person seems to consider that this makes me informed in the slightest....).

 Anyways, one of the girls in the conversation had kittens about the whole thing and felt attacked (cough good cough) and made a post complaining about how she wouldn't be part of the message board anymore and she was moving to the holistic naturopath CF boards (um that exists? Good lord...). This kind of idiocy really gets my blood boiling- way past the point where it should. I was intentionally trying to be reasonable but that being said I can get pretty opinionated when dealing with these sorts of people, so if their paper-thin skin was offended than I'm not shocked nor do I really care. You know what offends me? People that are anti vaccination.  So there.  But the fact that I have to even TRY to be nice and reasonable with these people drives me NUTS. As my title states, why do I even have to be nice to these people?  Being nice doesn't get them to listen to reason, being stern doesn't work, so ya know what? I might as well be a jerk about it.  Result will be the same.

Vaccines aren't a personal opinion. The safety of vaccines is not up for debate, it is a FACT. You might not want those statements to be true, but they are. Vaccination is perfectly safe. Chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough and the flu are not. When you go on a message board full with moms of chronically ill children espousing the dangers of vaccines you are fear mongering in the worst possible way. If i went on that same message board and said that Pseudomonas infection increases lung fxn I'd be laughed out of town immediately. Why is this any different? They're both equally dangerous, equally false, and equally proven. But no, the anti vaccers spin it so that they are the victims who feel judged about their parenting choices. But you know what? If you choose not to vaccinate your child with Cystic Fibrosis, you totally should be judged because it's a dumb decision.

So. Since I came out of the whole thing looking like a jerk (shocking, I know) I figured I'd go full-on and be a real jerk.

 Let me be the one to say what everyone is thinking.

 If you don't vaccinate your kids, you're probably an asshole.

As a public service announcement (you're welcome) I have put together the following list explaining why.  If you don't vaccinate this is what it says to the world, whether you want it to or not:

1. You don't care about your community.

 One argument I hear a LOT is "why do you care about my vaccine if vaccines work so well, huh?". Well, here's why. 1. Not everyone can be vaccinated (newborns, immune compromised, transplant recipients, etc). 2. Vaccines don't work as well in immune compromised individuals (CF patients, for example), which means they can still catch a disease despite being vaccinated, although it does lower the likelihood. 3. Vaccines aren't infallible, they don't work 100%, just like nothing else in the world does. 4. Some vaccines wear off over time and require boosters that don't always happen on schedule as they should.

So there are a bunch of people that you should care about that rely on you and herd immunity to stay healthy.

Another argument I hear is "My kid got the flu and is perfectly FINE. Her immune system is naturally strong because I didn't vaccinate" That's so awesome for you! Wow, you're such an innovator. But I wonder what happened to all those kids that got sick when your child was contagious (typically people are contagious before they show signs of illness)? How many of them were infected by coming into contact with your sick kid? How many of them made it through? How many needed to go to the hospital? Oh, who cares. Your kid is the only one that matters anyways.

2. You consider being autistic worse than your 2 year old dying from the flu

I have friends that have autistic children and not only do they completely understand the fact that vaccines don't cause autism, they find this entire argument offensive. As they should. When mom's complain about the risk for autism (the imaginary risk, I might add) it implies that they'd rather their child get measles, mumps, or some other horrific disease than autism.

3. You know more than doctors, scientists, researchers, and clinicians-- put together.

The overwhelming majority of the scientific community is in agreement on this, but no, this one mom with a degree in art history knows better than everyone.  I've spent my entire career working in research for rare diseases or injectable manufacturers. I've been a scientist for 12 years and I did my graduate studies (including virology) at Brown University. But fuck that. You anti-vacciners know better; you can't take my opinion seriously because I don't *really* know what I'm talking about, I've just been brainwashed. Oh, those countries full of doctors, scientists, and researchers that all agree with me? They're just working for big pharma. You guys know best, because Nature News doesn't have an agenda whatsoever. Keep fighting the good fight, assholes.

 PS- I know there are a couple wayward scientists that are anti-vaccine. There are also scientists that don't believe in evolution. Doesn't make 'em right. 

4. You like to gamble away your good fortune

 Wow you lucky son of a bitch- you have a healthy kid! Hey, I have a good idea! Let's take your healthy kid, not vaccinate them, and see what happens. It looks an awful lot like throwing your good luck down the toilet to us moms with chronically sick kids.  Even if you have a CF kid that's healthy-- that's a LUXURY.  You are so lucky to have a child that is so healthy, despite such a devastating illness.  WHY WHY WHY would you take the risk of these diseases that could wreak havoc in a CF patient?

5. You don't know where good intentions stop and bad ideas begin

The road to hell is paved with good intentions (man I love this quote).  Your good intentions based on misinformation have the exact same result as bad intentions. You might want what's best for your child, but you're not doing it.

6. You refuse to learn from the past; you'd rather believe conspiracy 

Remember polio? Small pox? I don't.  That's pretty awesome, huh? How lucky am I that I never had polio?!  I am VERY thankful I was vaccinated.  Only one generation ago, people got polio.  One generation ago, people were paralyzed and suffocated to death from polio. Vaccines work, and they've worked since the 1800s.  The small pox and polio vaccines were considered a miracle at the time.  You and I are alive because our parents were wise enough to get our vaccinations.  No one is scared of small pox or polio or mumps or measles any longer because no one hears about kids dying from them anymore because the vaccines do. their. job. perfectly.

People are way more apt to believe dumb conspiracy theories than the boring truth. It's fun to believe that big pharma is out to get you because you can then feel superior because you 'figured it out', but the truth is that the scientists that develop these vaccines genuinely care about people's health. The truth is that clinicians researched and tested the shit out of these vaccines before they became available for use.  Super boring, I know.

There you have it, my 6 reasons anti-vacciners look like douchebags.  Exceptions to the above? Very few. If you CANT vaccinate your kids because of a legitimate health reason that's different and I'm not talking about you.  Spacing out your vaccines a little bit? Sure, why not, as long as your kid gets 'em.

Here's a fun question. If you had to go to Syria tomorrow, where polio is making a comeback thanks to children not having access to the polio vaccine, would you vaccinate your child beforehand? Or just leave them to become infected by a perfectly preventable and utterly devastating disease? What's that? You don't want your kid to live the rest of their life in an iron lung? Maybe vaccines aren't so bad, are they?

There- I sure feel better now. Nice to get that off my chest. I'm a jerk too, I get it. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Finished December Daily

Hi everyone! I thought it would be a good time to share my first ever December Daily with you :) I had a great time doing it this year and I think I stayed on top of it fairly well (for the most part!). I got the whole thing finished up in the first week of January, which I think is pretty good.  Of course taking pictures and getting it up on the blog took quite a bit longer ;) Here are a few of the things that I learned that helped me out.  I'd love it if you'd share your suggestions too, so that I can steal them for next year ;)

1. Editing

Editing my photos in a timely manner was really helpful because it made it simple to place photo orders.  Every night, or every other night if I was feeling lazy, I'd edit my favorite pictures of the day using Snapseed.  Sometimes I'd add text or a little story using Phonto.  Typical days only had 1-3 photos so this took a very short amount of time.  I know photoshop is how you *should* do it, but I don't own it nor do I know how to actually use it, so this was easiest for me.  It also helped being able to do it on my phone without having to transfer photos to my computer and sit at my desk to edit.  This way was quick and easy.

2. Dropbox

I love Dropbox! I use it all the time, especially when Robb takes pictures using his fancy DSLR and I want the digital images.  He just uploads them right to our Dropbox and I can access them on my computer- easy peasy.  After editing my photos I put them all straight in the Dropbox from my phone so I wouldn't have to bother sorting through mounds of photos to remember which ones I wanted in the final album.  The edited and chosen photos were all in one place.

3. Photo ordering

I don't print at home.  I would love to though! Do any of you do this? It seems very expensive to do and I just don't know much about it so if you have any tips on a great quality at-home printer please share.  Anyways, I wound up placing 3 photo orders through Persnickety Prints to get my pictures printed.  I like Persnickety's quality, but the main reason I chose them was that they offer LOTS of print sizes- include 6x8 and 3x4, which both fit into the pocket pages that I was using.  I placed one order on Day 8, one on Day 17 and one on Day 26.  This split it up so I had a little over a week between orders, which gave me time to finish the previous weeks before ordering more prints.  I would just take all the pictures that were in the dropbox, upload to Persnickety, order and boom, done! It worked really well for me.  I think if I had waited until the end of the month to order everything I would have forgotten some sizes I wanted, etc.

4. Take a few random pictures

There were a few days that I just didn't have a picture to take or an interesting story to tell ("Today we hung out and watched TV all day because I was being a lazy mom......").  I hate not having a picture for each day, which might be a personal quirk of mine, so I took some random photos around the house.  Things like crafts that Charlie made, Christmas decorations, etc.  Those photos weren't specific to a date so they filled in the empty blocks in my album.

5.  Only do it when you have time

I only worked on my album maybe 1-2 days per week, plus 5 minutes per day editing photos.  It was totally manageable. Once I got my photo order in I would spend an hour here or there adding them to the album, but because I did my foundation pages beforehand this went by pretty quickly.  I was worried about the time commitment initially but it really wasn't so bad after all.

6. Get your kids involved

As you can imagine, Charlie was very interested in all of the fun embellishments and stickers that were on my crafting table all month.  He also really liked my book- he started to understand that he had to smile in pictures "because I'm putting it in the December book" which was helpful, too!  I ended up making him his own little December book as a way to get him involved (and off my back lol).  I let him use a few of my embellishments that I knew I wouldn't use and the photo's that didn't fit in any of my spreads.  He loved it and it was so cute! I even have a page in my December Daily all about Charlie's December Daily haha.

I loved the laid-back December Daily approach and will definitely be doing it again next year!  I have been SO SO impressed by all of the beautiful December Dailies that I have seen from others so far, they're truly stunning.  I mean, how do people get such gorgeous, brightly lit photos of their houses? It's like they live in all white rooms made of windows in a permanently sunny climate haha. So mine is a bit less stunning and a bit more average, but I like it just the same ;)  Warning: PICTURE HEAVY!

Please do share your tips, tricks, and links to your December Dailies as well- I'd love to see them!!  Next project- a new 2015 Blog Header!  Once I make one that is, lol....