Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Me and My (peggy) Peeps

This post is sponsored by Me and My Peeps. All expressed opinions are mine.

I don't know about you, but I have a special place in my heart for handmade toys and gifts. I feel like as I hold them and use them, I can sense the love and talent that went into creating the objects. I also appreciate their uniqueness -- no two handmade items are ever the same.

That's why I was so excited when my friend Jessica, who is a brilliant artist, contacted me about reviewing some of her hand-painted peg dolls on this here blog. I've been a fan of Jessica's "peggy peeps" Facebook page for a long time. She can literally paint any character on a peg doll with the most precise attention to detail. Disney princesses, zombies, Toy Story characters, superheroes, athletes ... It's so fun to see what she'll come up with next!

I was especially anxious to get my set in the mail because I didn't know what I was getting. Imagine my excitement when I opened the package to find ...

The characters from Disney's "Frozen!" In order: Sven, Kristoff, Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Hans.

Check out this close-up the famed sisters, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa:

Let's take a minute to admire the details on these ladies! Sparkles on Elsa's dress and in her braid, a gold waistline and tiny flourishes on Anna's dress ... it's perfect.

And finally, my favorite character, Olaf! So cute.

My kids and their friends have been avidly playing with their new Frozen friends for a few weeks now. Actually, they were so excited to start using them when they first arrived, I had to convince them to let me take the pictures for this post before they ran off with their new toys. They've been involved in Audrey and Carson's adventures ever since!

If you think these peg dolls are as cute as a button (and who wouldn't?), go follow Jessica's Me and My Peeps page on Facebook. She and her friends not only make these peggy people, but jewelry, hair clips and much more! They are so talented. Their creations would make such excellent birthday and Christmas gifts, too!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Half-o-ween!

Little Clara is officially half-way through her first year of life! As I promised last month, here is my little dumpling in her hilarious Halloween costume:

Cluck-cluck, Clara!

Our "chicken nugget" is doing great these days, saying "da-da-da," rolling all over the place and even doing the hands-and-knees rocking that precedes crawling. Yeah, I'm going to have a mobile baby before too long! It's crazy. She's also tried a few solid foods (rice cereal, banana, avocado and carrot). She watches us eat with hungry eyes and eagerly grasps at the utensils as we try to feed her, but once the food arrives in her mouth she makes the most pitiful, disgusted faces. She usually manages to swallow whatever it is, but it's just funny how she can go from being infatuated with food to horrified by it in an instant.

Poor thing got her first ear infection over the weekend. After a night of her refusing to nurse and crying intermittently, I decided to take her to urgent care Sunday morning. The antibiotics kicked in quickly and we got our happy, giggly Clara back a few days later. Thank goodness!

Her Halloween costume comes with chicken feet booties that are far too huge on her, and the hat is torturous enough on its own so I opted to leave them off for this photo shoot. But seriously, A CHICKEN. It's pretty much amazing. I just wish it wasn't so warm outside. When I bought it, I anticipated cooler weather. It's not normally still in the '90's at the end of October. I feel like I'm being robbed of the gorgeous weather we usually get between now and March!

The big kids also got to don their costumes early this year for the annual Foote Family Halloween bash. Carson went as a Power Ranger (Super Megaforce variety, he'd like everyone to know):

Audrey is the biped, land-dwelling version of Ariel, red hair and all:

By the way, that red hair spray stuff is super-convenient to apply but absolute insanity to remove. It seriously looked like a murder scene in the bathtub after her shower that night. And it seemed like no matter how many times I rinsed it, there was still more red dripping from her hair! You can see I didn't even completely coat her whole head, but that didn't matter. Maybe next time I'll just hose her off in the backyard ... I'm sure she'd love that.

(Currently accepting Mom of the Year nominations.)

Anyway, I hope you have a fantastic Halloween! Post links of you and your kids all dressed up in the comments. I'd love to see them!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The big five-monther.

Yep, as of yesterday, it's been five months since this little chub-a-lub burst onto the scene. What a joyous five months it's been!

Clara's name means "light and clear," and it's beyond fitting for her bubbly, excited personality. She is always smiling, babbling and cooing at us like we're the best thing since sliced bread. She's a bright ray of sunshine!

Clara figured out how to roll over from back to tummy earlier this month, and now it's her favorite way to be. She holds her head up really well and it's so dang cute. See?

I mean, really. I could stare at this adorable face all day. I pretty much do, come to think of it! I kiss it a whole lot, too.

Clara hasn't officially started on solid foods yet. But the other night, she was teething and fussy, so I held a cold apple slice to her mouth so she could suck on it. And boy, did she go to town on that thing!  She cried when I took it away. Haha! Still no teeth, though she's been drooling, sucking and biting (yowch!) for nearly two months now. Come on teefers, pop out already!

In other news, we highly suspect Clara is allergic to cow's milk. As I said before, I went off dairy pretty much right away because it seemed to upset her stomach whenever I ate it. I started to reintroduce it to my diet in small amounts (aka bowls of ice cream -- no judging) last month and she didn't seem to mind. I still don't eat a whole lot of dairy products, but I'm not worried if I eat a bit here and there because it doesn't affect her disposition.

A few weeks ago, I went to the temple for a friend's endowment. I was gone for four hours and Clara of course had to eat some formula. She's had it a handful of times previously, so I wasn't worried at all about how she'd do. A few hours later, though, she started vomiting like crazy. It was pitiful! I had her on a towel on the floor and was just laying by her, rubbing her back and crying because tiny babies should never have to throw up. It went on for about 2 1/2 hours and then it was over. At first, I thought it must be a stomach bug, but she never had any diarrhea and the rest of us were just fine. She also has other symptoms of milk allergy, like runny stools, frequent spit-up and eczema. I'm going to have her tested for allergies soon to confirm it.

I can't believe Clara's coming up on half a year of life. Next month, her chair picture will be extra special because she'll be wearing her Halloween costume, which I am beyond excited about. You'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lumps, car crashes, staples and more.

So, life lately. What can I say? A lot, actually. Let's go in chronological order.

In July, I found a large-ish lump on my rib cage. Lumps are kind of a big deal, so I had an ultrasound. The doctor says it's PROBABLY a lymph node but maybe not, so we're watching it for now and possibly doing a biopsy next month if it doesn't go away. It's still hanging around like it's my sidekick, so that biopsy is looking more definite with each passing day. Maybe I should give the lump a name. Trudy? Morticia? I'm open to suggestions.

In August, I accidentally crashed the front of my car into the shelving unit in the garage and it nearly pulled the whole right fender off. I promise, I'm not a total moron. It's REALLY tricky to park our crossover vehicle in a two-car garage with a very short driveway and no room to swing out due to poor planning on the developer of our community -- seriously, who puts grass and trees RIGHT behind someone's house when their garage is in the back?

Three body shop quotes later, the whole ordeal is going to cost $700. I definitely cried over that one.

Then, last Thursday, I was rocking out choral-style with MCO when all the sudden, I got a text from Dill. Dill, the man who never texts me, ever. It said, "Call me now!" So I did. And it turned out Carson had hit his head on something while rough-housing and "probably needed stitches," which turned into definitely needing staples. Bless Dill's squeamish heart, he took him to the ER that night because babies gotta eat and I have the monopoly on milk-making around these parts.

Three hours later, the two returned home, Carson with a fresh set of staples in the back of his head. Surprisingly, I'm actually not too mad about it because I honestly thought it would've happened sooner.

This is the part where you blur your eyes and scroll fast if you don't like blood and guts. Behold, staples:

THEN on Sunday, I'm sitting in church when Carson walks up to me with pink eyes and yellow goop in his eyelashes. In other words, CONJUNCTIVITIS!!! Without hesitation, I ordered Dill to take him to the nearest urgent care and get that crap taken care of because pink eye is the worst. Not because it actually hurts or anything, but because putting eye drops in a child's eye is more difficult than tying up a greased hog on a rainy day, and you have to do it not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES DAILY.

By the way, Dill didn't believe it was pink eye, but guess what? It was totally pink eye and guess what else? Dill had it, too! Oh boy. They probably picked it up from their emergency room visit. So all of us got it except baby Clara (so far). Which is why I'll be sporting glasses for the next week or so.

Any-hoo, in all that excitement, I'd nearly forgotten I was guest-posting on my friend Jen's blog, "Nothing Can Come of Nothing" for her Marriage Month series! I'm glad I remembered today. You should go check it out. I talk all mushy about how Dill and I met, discuss some less-than-fun aspects of marriage and also give a little marital advice. And Jen's blog is great, anyway. I really like her. You will, too.

Reminiscing on our cute little courtship helped me momentarily forget about all this junk I'm dealing with. So thank you, Jen, for the opportunity to remember the important things in life. I may have a lump on my ribs, a wonky right fender, a kid who looks like Frankenstein's monster and a family ridden with pink eye, but I also have the best husband and kids a gal could ask for.

In the meantime, if you have any tricks to getting a 4-year-old to cooperate for antibiotic eye drops, let me have 'em. Because really, it's getting ridiculous.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Clara is four months old today, which makes her one-third of a year old! That's probably not crazy to anyone except for me. I swear, every day this little girl gets bigger, stronger and more expressive. And cuter, which hardly seems possible.

An evolutionary photo sequence would be perfect right about now, no? Therefore:

She can now roll from tummy to back, but not the other way ... yet. Though she is very close. She can, however, turn in a circle while laying on her back. I found this out when one morning a few weeks ago, I went in to get her out of her crib and her head was pointing in the opposite direction of how I'd originally put her down. She does it all the time now. Just scoots herself along until she's happy with the view.

Clara has Third Child Syndrome. Symptoms include infrequent fussing, long stretches of sleeping, greater adaptability and general contentment. In other words, she is basically the most easy-going, predictable baby ever. I've been talking to a lot of my third-time mom friends who agree that baby number three has been loads easier for them than their older two children were. It's just a theory, but I've definitely been seeing a pattern here.

Of course, it could just be that we're all finally figuring out this mom thing. Chilling out a little, taking things in stride, not trying to control everything.

Who knows.

I DO know that we all feel oh-so-lucky to have this Butterball in our family. She adds so much light and cheer to our home. I can't imagine life without her!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Suicide: What should we say?

This probably isn't the first post about suicide you've read recently and it probably won't be the last. Though I'm incredibly discouraged by the reality of mental illness and suicide, I am relieved that we are talking about it a little more freely these days. Open dialogue has the potential to help so many people. And since I have personally been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders, I understand how crucial it is to discuss these issues in order to empower people to seek help.

I've been pondering on how I would address the topic since I learned of Robin Williams' recent death. I've felt that I need to because my family and I have been directly affected by depression, anxiety, mental illness and even suicide. Unfortunately, much of what people are saying about these issues in the heat of the moment is incorrect, in poor taste or even downright cruel at times. So, I'm here to help clear the air.

On April 7, 2010, I lost my uncle CP to suicide. I will never forget the crushing anguish I felt when I heard the news. It was my 23rd birthday, just two weeks after I gave birth to my son, Carson. Dill told me right before bed, just hours after my family had left the house after a small birthday celebration. My parents and sisters acted like nothing was wrong the entire time they were with us, when in actuality, they were devastated by the loss and had been crying all day (I still feel terrible about that.) I didn't sleep that night. I sobbed off and on until the morning came, asking "Why?" and wondering where we all went wrong.

CP's funeral service was downright tragic. I usually cry at funerals, but within me there is always a hope for the deceased. I think things like, Maybe they're not suffering anymore, and I'll see them again someday. But not at CP's funeral. All I felt then was immense pain in the wake of his seemingly senseless death. I think we all did.

Like Robin Williams, CP was a light to everyone he knew, and he knew a LOT of people. He was so hilariously funny, he made everyone laugh. He was a talented craftsman who could transform a dilapidated shack into a luxurious condo, not missing a single detail. And everyone who knew him admired his vocal talent -- he was known for his spot-on imitations of various artists (Elvis being his most popular) and his ability to move a crowd to tears with his perfect, powerful singing voice. I had the privilege of accompanying him on numerous occasions. It was always an honor.

CP impersonating Elvis at our wedding. It was epic.

After CP's death, my family and I endured the immense grief that follows such a tragedy. Sleepless nights -- or, when we did sleep, nightmares. Unexpected tears. Sobbing sessions. Painful reminders around every corner. Endless questions. Unfortunately, the grief was not always made easier by others' attempts to lighten our load. Sometimes, when a person we love is going through something difficult, we don't know what to say, but we think we need to say something. And this is usually when we say the exact WRONG things.

"Suicide is selfish."

In the wake of a suicide, no one wants to hear that their beloved family member or friend was selfish. What does it really communicate about us when we call others selfish, anyway? It says we feel entitled to something another person has to give. We want their money, we want them to spend more time with us, we want them to live despite the fact they are in great pain and can't go on for another second. In calling others selfish, WE are the selfish ones.

Think about that.

And I'm sure if we knew exactly what a person was feeling and thinking when they decided to defy human nature and end their own life, we'd think of them as anything BUT selfish.

Of course, it's downright devastating that the person's spouse, children, parents, extended family and dear friends are left behind when a person commits suicide. But to cast blame on the victim? It's heartless.

"It happened because ..."

Some people feel a need to muse on the reason(s) the person took their life. They think determining the "why" will somehow make things better. If you must entertain these thoughts, please do this privately. Usually, those close to the victim know they suffered from mental illness and don't need to hear a layperson's point-of-view on the matter. The reasons behind their death are likely numerous and quite complicated, so there's no sense in trying to tie them up in a pretty little package. Also, unless you were very close to the victim, your reasons for their death are probably way off-base and can even come across as hurtful, such as saying the person was spiritually unwell or under the influence of Satan. These statements are seen as cruelly judgmental and aren't helpful in the least to those who are grieving.

(And if you post thoughts like these on your very popular, public blog, you'd better be prepared for some serious backlash. I'm looking at you, super-famous male blogger of the click-baiter variety.)

"It was a bad choice."

Let's get something straight: suicide is most definitely self-inflicted. But how often is a suicide victim in their right frame of mind when they die? I would venture to guess never. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 90 percent of those who commit suicide are diagnosed with a mental illness. And those are just the diagnosed cases. Other factors, according to NAMI, are chronic medical illness, past trauma and substance abuse. In fact, "more than one in three people who die from suicide are intoxicated." In other words, saying a suicide victim "made a bad choice" is a gross oversimplification.

After Mr. Williams died, I read a fantastic analogy on social media. It said contemplating suicide is like being at the top of a burning building with only the following options: to jump (commit suicide) or be consumed by the flames (suffer the pains of mental illness). Meanwhile, everyone at the bottom (family and friends) is telling them to "just hold on, help is coming!" But how can they know that? They're not going through this ordeal. They're not suffering. They're not faced with this insurmountable decision.

Sometimes, the victim chooses the flames. And sometimes, he jumps.

In short, there are too many unknowns about a person's mental state and decision-making ability when they commit suicide. Even IF they were coherent enough to make the choice of their own free will, we as outsiders can't possibly determine whether it was righteous or evil or even something in between. There is only one Judge who knows that -- our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is perfect and He understands us all completely. He is merciful and kind, and He has the final say on these matters. Everyone else is just guessing and making assumptions that usually hurt the ones close to the deceased.

Instead ...

When someone takes their life, whatever you do, don't judge the deceased person's character or their situation, and don't call them or the act "selfish." You might believe it's the truth, but that doesn't mean it's not incredibly cruel to say.

So, what should you say to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide? How should you act? Here are some ideas:

Be kind and sympathetic -- treat them as you would anyone else who has lost a loved one. Say things like,

"I'm so sorry for your loss. __________ was such a great person." Then, list some admirable traits they had that you will miss.

"I'm so sad to hear about __________'s death. If you'd like to talk about it, I am here to listen."

"I can't imagine the pain you're feeling right now. What can I do to help ease your burden today?"

Most importantly, just LOVE them! Give them a hug. Let them cry in your arms. Let them be angry. Bring them dinner or a special treat. Allow them to talk about anything or nothing at all related to the death. Everyone grieves in different ways -- some will want to talk at length about the person or their death, some prefer quiet, personal reflection. Leave them alone if they want to be alone. Follow their lead. But in everything you do, act in love. Ask yourself, "If I had just lost a loved one in such a tragic way, how would I want to be treated?" And remember that everyone is different and we receive and give love in different ways.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, "Mental Illnesses: Suicide." http://www.nami.org/factsheets/suicide_factsheet.pdf

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bye bye, hair.

My long-time readers and friends will remember when I took the plunge and got a pixie cut five years ago. (Yeah, can you believe it's been five years already?) Well, the postpartum phase has been pretty rough this time around in more ways than one, but my hair ... you guys. It's been falling out like crazy. Everywhere I go, there are hairs on my shoulders and back. Every time I wash it, I pull wad after wad of hair off my hands and as I do, I have to take deep, cleansing breaths so I don't hyperventilate and pass out from shock and disgust. My part was starting to get wider and wider and THEN, I found one of my hairs in my baby's mouth and said THAT'S IT. Last straw, blah blah blah ... I'm getting a pixie cut.

So I did. On Tuesday.

You saw my before picture on Monday when I posted the nursing camisole giveaway (which, by the way, did you enter?). But here it is again, in case you'd forgotten.

You're probably like, "I don't see any postpartum balding going on here," to which I say, I'm good at hiding it. Just trust me on this one.

And ... here's the after!

I was totally brave and got an asymmetrical cut. I figured if I'm gonna go short, I might as well have fun, right?

So far, I feel like this was definitely the right choice, especially considering the fact I only lost, like, three hairs this morning and it took a whole 15 minutes to style. It also makes me feel lighter and cuter. Like Tinkerbell. It's basically the best.

Short hair for the win!

And don't forget about the giveaway ... it ends on Monday! Even if you're not currently nursing, you might be in the near future. Or maybe you know someone who's nursing and what an awesome gift would that be? Or maybe you're nowhere near lactating, but you're sick of having two sets of straps on your body when you wear a camisole undershirt. Basically, if you have a pulse, you should enter this giveaway. The end.