A New Normal

Today I nurtured and nourished a tiny human. And that's a lot more important than dishes and laundry. I’m baaaacccckkkkk! After a long and unintended hiatus, I’m back at this blogging thing. BIG News – I had baby number two! He’s a cutie, if I do say so myself.

So what has suddenly brought me back to this page? I’ve certainly had a lot to talk about over the last year but haven’t shared it here: turning 40 (gulp); two miscarriages; moving and remodeling; a successful pregnancy along with some minor complications; a late-term premature birth; jaundice; tongue-tie; and, well, that about catches you up!

Lately I’ve been feeling less than productive even though I’m taking care of two kids. Keeping them clothed and fed is all I can manage some days and even that is questionable. Thankfully J is in kindergarten most of the day during the week. And I try to keep our house from looking like a category 5 hurricane blew over (most days it looks like a class 3) all while functioning on 4 hours of sleep. So with my busy schedule I figured it would be the perfect time to squeeze writing back into the fold too. Did I mention baby C is only 8 weeks old? :)

There isn’t much of a point to this post other than to get back to updating things here…and to tell myself that keeping the littles alive and well is more important than having a spotless kitchen.

DIY Cat Mask Halloween Costume – Fits All

DIY-Cat-Mask-Title Time to bust out your craft supplies because it’s HALLOWEEN! After much back and forth with J, she finally settled on a costume…a black cat. She was also very specific in her requirements for the costume: pink collar with crystals, black paws with white pads, white whiskers on a black mask and a white patch on her chest. While you may commend her for her specificity since she’s only 4 1/2, I can’t give her much credit. There is a picture collage of her first year of life hanging in her room. In it is her first Halloween costume. Guess what it is? Yup.

I decided to make the mask and a few other parts of her costume. I came up with this mask to avoid putting paint on her face. Of course, if your kid doesn’t like wearing masks, then you’ll need a new plan…or costume.

J also decided that I need to be a black cat too. BONUS: The pattern fit my face too, with a slight increase the size of the eye holes. Easy as long as you’re not scissor-phobic. A few extra snips and you should be able to see out of the mask.

Here is what you’ll need to make the mask:

  • Cat mask pattern (download and print the PDF)
  • Black felt (a felt square from the craft store is more than you need)
  • White pipe cleaners (minimum 4)
  • Black elastic
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins (optional, but really helpful)
  • Needle and thread (optional, but again, helpful)

DIY-Cat-Mask-Pattern-PinnedPrint out the cat mask pattern at 100%. I included a 1″ line in case you’re not sure if the pattern is the correct size when printed. The pattern is HALF of the mask. Cut it out of the paper and don’t forget to cut out the eye holes. Fold your felt piece in half and place the pattern on it, with the side where I wrote “fold” lined up over the fold.

The little circle on the pattern indicates where to attach your elastic. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Here’s where the pins come in very handy. Pin around the pattern so it won’t slip while you’re cutting it.

Cut around the outside of the mask. Then cut out the eye holes. This part is a little tricky, but you can handle it! If you mess up, you probably have enough black felt to try one more time.

DIY - Cut out black felt mask

After the felt is cut, hold it up to your child’s face (or your own) and make sure they can see and breath.

Time for the big guns, err, hot glue gun. Fold your pipe cleaners in half and place them on the mask approximately where you want them. I opted for symmetry but you may not be so type-A.

Glue the folded end of the pipe cleaner to the mask. Repeat for all of the whiskers. Once the glue is dry you need to adhere the whiskers to the outer edges of the mask, otherwise they will bop around, sag, and generally look bad. Glue them to the side of the mask or tack them with the needle and thread. Either way will work. I tacked J’s mask since it was the first one I made. I made mine afterwards and used glue because I was getting lazy.

Whiskers glued onto felt mask

This is my mask. Look closely on the left side and you’ll see that I glued the whiskers to the edge of the mask.

IMPORTANT!! Check the length of the whiskers. Cut them if need be. Then DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. Put a small bead of hot glue at the cut end of each whisker so that the wire isn’t so sharp and pokey. Once the glue has cooled slightly, use your finger to smoosh it into the wire. Whiskers are not weapons!

Close up of end of whisker with glue

Add glue to the cut end of each whisker to avoid injury!

Almost done! Grab your elastic and pin it to the mask. Use the circle on the pattern for a point of reference. Again, straight pins will come in handy but not absolutely necessary. Use a safety pin if you have one. Adjust the length of the elastic as needed to fit comfortably around your child’s head.

DIY Cat Mask

I sewed the elastic to the mask to make sure it wouldn’t come apart when we went to Brick-or-Treat at Legoland. If you’re in a hurry, you could use hot glue. By the way, I’m a hot mess when it comes to hot glue. I burned myself several times making the mask and cat gloves.

DIY Cat Mask Full Costume

Be still my heart! October 2011 vs October 2015.

Anyhoo, J absolutely loves her mask and the other pieces of her costume that I made and bought. In fact, she helped make her collar. She meticulously lined up all of the crystals and glued them individually. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree!

What Is Ebates? Earn a Cash Back Rebate When You Shop!

Ebates - Earn cash back when you shop

Earn a cash back rebate when you click through Ebates before shopping online. It’s quick, easy and FREE! If you look closely at this image, in the upper right hand corner you will see my cash back to date. Yes, over $1000!!

Summer is in full swing and I’ve been spending most of my time away from the computer. I’m not sure if this has had a positive impact on my pocket book since I’ve been out of the house, however I haven’t been shopping online a lot. This also means I haven’t been getting my Ebates cash back when I do shop!

What is Ebates? It’s a free service that pays you a rebate when you shop online! There are a few caveats: you have to click through their web site to get to your online retailer (or install their plugin); the web site has to be listed in Ebates; and it takes awhile (months) to get your rebate. BUT, if you’re spending money at a retailer you may as well get a rebate if available. And it’s not like those three things I listed are difficult to do!

Also, if you refer a friend you will get a cash back reward. Ebates runs various promotions throughout the year, so the reward will vary – usually $5 to $25 for each referral. Additionally, when your friend signs up, they get to pick a reward. This offer also varies but is usually a gift card with a $10 value.

Warning: clicking the links to Ebates from my blog will give me a referral. Let’s be referral friends! :)

Over the last few years, I have earned $1066.35 from rebates and referrals. Um, mostly from shopping rebates…very few from referrals. The cash back you receive varies per store and will also vary throughout the year. Sometimes I got 6% cash back from shopping at Nordstrom.com and other times I would only get 3%, depending on the promotion. But, hey, it was an additional savings, so why not take advantage?!

If you ever forget to click through Ebates before you buy, don’t worry! They have a page where you can submit a request for a missing rebate. You will need to cut/paste your email receipt from the purchase to prove you spent the money. I’ve used this many times and have always received credit.

Retailers are not the only sites that offer cash back through Ebates. Many travel services such as hotels and car rentals are listed. Remember that your cash back from these services will post AFTER you complete your reservation. Normally, within a couple days, you will receive an email from Ebates notifying you of your cash rebate.

I’ve read online that some people think Ebates is a scam. It’s not! However, you don’t get your rebate immediately. You have to wait – the same way you do with traditional rebates that you have to send via snail mail or submit online. You also have to create an account with Ebates which does require creating a password and giving your name, address and email address. They don’t ask for any classified information and it’s all public domain, so you’re not risking anything!

Have you tried Ebates? I’d love to hear your experience. I love it!

What’s My Fitbit Name?

My Fitbit greeting says ROCKSTAR

My Fitbit calls me ROCKSTAR! What’s your name?

For those of you with a Fitbit One or Ultra, your tracker greets you with a name. Most likely it’s your first name. Well, I have a secret to share with you and I have not told anyone about it! Instead of my first name, my Fitbit greets me with “ROCKSTAR”. I like how it’s ALL CAPS! :D

Have you thought of changing your greeting, but can’t find the right name? I’m here to help! Unfortunately, the name is limited to 8 characters, which is a bit of a challenge. Anyone remember the days of MS-DOS command prompts and filenames??!! (Yea, my greeting should say “GEEK”.)

So here it is, an easy way to get a fun(ny) new Fitbit greeting! Leave me a comment with your name. I’d love to see how many other ROCKSTARS are out there.

Use your initials to find a new, personal greeting.

Your FIRST Initial Your LAST Initial
A - raw A - beef
B - fast B - play
C - best C - star
D - new D - bird
E - big E - goal
F - bad F - road
G - zany G - lead
H - bold H - mode
I - busy I - gal
J - cool J - rat
K - true K - girl
L - mad L - boy
M - good M - dog
N - hard N - bear
O - high O - wolf
P - hot P - game
Q - icy Q - show
R - lean R - doll
S - gym S - iron
T - rock T - fuel
U - real U - guy
V - ripe V - head
W - dark W - reps
X - taut X - bull
Y - fit Y - dude
Z - free Z - lady


If you’re having trouble meeting your step goal, checkout my post Fitbit Follies – How to Get 10K Steps a Day.

The End of Co-Sleeping and the Start of Independent Sleep at Four Years Old

Independent Sleep at Four Years Old

J snuggles her Wolverine lovey (Go Blue!). When she was a baby I was her lovey, but lately she’s really gravitated toward this stuffed animal.

This is an update to the post published at the end of last year, My Preschooler Cannot Sleep without Me. After four freakin’ years, I am happy to say that J is sleeping independently! Crack open the champagne, because Mama needs to celebrate!

I hope I am not jinxing myself by putting this out into the Universe. I have talked to my friends about it so this isn’t the first time I’m making this revelation. She’s been falling asleep and sleeping independently for many weeks so I think (hope) this is a permanent situation.

For those of you who are curious about what I did…it wasn’t much! I refused (and still refuse) to let J cry by herself if she needed me at night, so this is really about her being ready. I noticed she was not waking in the middle of the night for several days in a row, so I decided to build upon that and see if I could get her to fall asleep without me in the bed.

The first night was somewhat of an accident. I needed a shower so after I finished reading her a story, I said I smelled! I made a silly game of it and told her I was too stinky to stay in bed. There was a small amount of protest on her part, so I said I would check on her when my shower was done…hoping that she would fall asleep before that time. Guess what? She did!

I kept up that same routine for several more nights…telling her I need a shower and then getting out of bed. Lately, she’s asked to read books so I keep the light on when I leave the room. Usually within 20 minutes she’s asleep!

Sometimes she asks for me to sleep in her bed and I avoid giving her a direct answer. I tell her I’ll check on her and usually she’s satisfied with that. I also tell her if she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs me, all she has to do is ask and I’ll come to her room. This has happened a couple times and as soon as I’ve come to her room she’s rolled over and fallen back to sleep. I want her to have the security of knowing that I am always here for her if she needs me. She seems to know this too, and I believe it’s helping her feel safe to sleep by herself.

A few mornings she’s woken up super pissed to see that I’m not in the bed! Most of the time she wakes up and I go in her room and cuddle her for a few minutes before it’s time to start the day.

At this point, I have not given into her requests for me to sleep with her. She asks but it doesn’t turn into a complete meltdown or even result in tears. Being consistent with our bedtime routine is very important and I know if I give in, even one time, it will set us back.

I am satisfied with the way she grew into independent sleep on her own. I didn’t want to force it on her, even though it took four years. I’ve seen a lot of changes toward independence in her personality lately, and I can’t help but think that it’s stemming from the overall way she has been parented, when awake and asleep.

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Fitbit One
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