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July 28, 2010

You've Got Mail

I love mail. I look forward to going to my mail box every day to get the mail. One of the first things I ask my husband if he gets home before me is, "Did you get the mail?"

This could stem from the fact that I was born with paper on my butt and ink on my hands, since my dad was in the printing industry as a pressman the day of my birth. And I grew up helping out in his businesses, later pursuing a career in design and working for a printing company. I can remember as a kid my dad would show me things he got in the mail, paper samples, printed samples, samples of things with embossing and foil stamping, shiny finishes and metallic ink. I would ooh and ahh at how neat and how expensive they must be. Now I'm designing those same pieces and oohing and ahhing when the come off the press and I get to see the finished sample, I often smell the ink on the piece. It's a unique high and instant gratification from a job well done.

Or this could have to do with the fact that my job depends on paper. If it wasn't for paper and junk mail, I wouldn't have a job! Paper may be coming to an end in some businesses with letterhead templates now being produced and printed in black and white on "normal" paper with the letter right on them, and the paperless and electronic age booming, but I still love and am in love with paper.

The purpose of this post is to talk about the postage rate increase. I am somewhat annoyed by people complaining about the cost of stamps increasing. I think if more people used the post office, prices would not go up so much, but in the electronic/paperless age I spoke of above, it's become more difficult to use the post office. 

My solutions is to open all of my junk mail and re-stuff things into the business reply mail envelopes. These are the envelopes that come with almost all junk mail: credit card offers, requests for donations, etc. The envelopes can be mailed at no cost to me (or you). I stuff anything that does not have my name on it back inside the envelope - coupons, newspaper inserts, inserts they send to me, etc. I stuff them inside, seal the envelope and take it back out to the mail box. You may be fearful of the "customer locator code" that is printed on the back of the envelope, but I can assure you, the majority of the time, this code is not specific to you, it's just to scare you and convince you to not mail junk back to them. And if someone does contact me and tell me they didn't get my application (and they know this because of the code on the envelope) I will tell them I am sorry, I got my mail mixed up, to send me another and I'll be sure to get it right this time!

If you are trying to go-green this may not be your favorite option. But you will have to decide on a personal level what to complain about -- using paper or spending more money on stamps. 

Read more here: Postal Service Rate Increase. 


July 19, 2010

Fourth of July 2010


Over the fourth we went to Ocean City, Maryland to hang out with some family members. It was a great time!

Rachel did AWESOME the entire time we were there. We left Friday night and spent the night in Pennsylvania. She slept great in the car and at the hotel room. The next day we drove to Maryland. It was a longer trip than we wanted it to be, but we stopped for feedings, and diaper changes and to get water and soda and beer and then hit some traffic. 

While on vacation, Rachel loved the water. We set up a pool by the ocean and filled it with salt water. We let it warm up and she hung out in the pool almost all day. She liked to watch the ocean, but I think the water was too cold for her. Occasionally she would be sitting on the shore and the tide would come up and get her butt wet and she would fuss. The water temperatures were near 70s and the air was in the 80s-100s every day. It was perfect.

We had a huge wagon load of things that we took to the beach every day, but we managed to get it all there in one trip and never have to go back to the condo for anything. We spent all day at the beach and two of those days we spent at the condo pool. 

Rachel liked to grab and play with the sand and enjoyed chewing on the (salt) water covered toys I brought to put into her pool. She splashed her arms up and down in the water and was enjoying all the attention by family. 

We all managed to get "cooked" nicely on the beach and at the pool, but no sun burns to report. We were careful at reapplying sunscreen and keeping our baby girl in the shade. I still think her legs got tan! 

Cousin Jami had a knack with Rachel. Jami is a high-school baby lover and she always willingly took Rachel and managed to get her to fall asleep in her arms. It was crazy! And so cute at the same time. 

"Does she ever cry?"  That wast the question most asked by family members. Our child is so amazing that she rarely cries and fusses, and since it is so rare, i often let her cry and laugh at how cute she looks when she cries! Mean, maybe, but it's too cute! On the long ride home (14.5 hours) she didn't cry once. I swear, she was an angel. It was odd and crazy at the same time! I couldn't ask for a better child!



Rachel's first souvenir....a personalized flip flop zipper pull that i put on her diaper bag! 



The wagon at the beach, all loaded up! 


Here's a list of what is inside:
Beach Towels
Beach Blanke
Cooler with Beverages & Sandwiches
2 Umbrellas
Sun Tent
Kiddie Pool
Bag of Toys

Pretty impressive, but what is more impressive is that my husband dragged it across the sand every day we went to the beach! Don't worry, it's not overloaded, with the correct air pressure in the tires, it can hold 300 lbs. Thanks to grandma and grandpa for getting Rachel this wagon! She hasn't ridden in it, but all of her stuff has! 

July 14, 2010

Rachel is half a year old!

Rachel is already 6 months old! She sits up, she rolls over, she talks and she is now eating cereal, bananas, peas squash and sweet potatoes! We're working on a sippy cup and she sometimes will drink water from a bottle. Often she makes a mean face when she starts to suck and realizes it's just water.

She loves her exersaucer and jumperoo at home and whenever we put her in there she will poop. We were on our way to vacation over the fourth and I put her in her exersaucer about an hour before we were leaving, hoping she would poop before we began our 6 hour car ride, and she did!

She sleeps well, she smiles and laughs a lot and people often comment on how happy she is and ask us if she ever cries! She's tiny - petite - weighing in at 13 pounds 12 ounces at her six month check up and 24.5 inches long. She's following her curve and in the 10th percentile!

My kid is so mellow and calm. Almost all of the photos we take she is just sitting there looking.


But I can coax a smile out of her!




July 12, 2010

Rock Star Camping

We went on a trial-run camping in Rachel's Grandpa's Rock Star Motor home to the west side of the state. It was our test before we drove to Ocean City, Maryland over the fourth. It gave us a nice idea of what worked on the beach, what did not and what we need to take. Plus, Grandpa was nice enough to let us borrow his "rock star" motor home, so camping really wasn't all that bad.

Rachel traveled well in her car seat buckled into the motor home couch, she slept well in her pack n play, enjoyed a bath in the kitchen sink and had a nice long nap in her beach tent on Lake Michigan. She wasn't too fond of the water, mostly because I think it felt cold to her, but she liked the sand and enjoyed "people watching" with her dad.

We are so grateful that Grandpa let us borrow his Coach, and watched our dog while we were away. And so thankful to Stacy L. for inviting us on the camping trip. There were about 8-10 families that all camped and hung out at the beach! We hope to do it again next year!

Here is a photo of the coach, all set up and in our camping spot. 



Rachel comfortably hangs out in the motor home (on the floor).  You can see her seat strapped in where she rode for the trip (on the right) and the usual accommodations of camping (laptop/internet on the left couch).



Here is the other shot, facing the entrance/driver's seat. The satellite TV wasn't working, which upset my husband who wanted to watch a baseball game. As you can see with the slide out we were able to accommodate her exersaucer for the trip, too! Grandpa even steam cleaned the couch cushions "for Rachel" before we left.


July 03, 2010

Nemo Ear Thoughts

If you have forgotten, Rachel has Microtia of the right ear. For now there is little we can do but make sure she meets her milestones and so far she is doing excellent in her milestones, often displaying actions beyond her ripe old age of 6 months. Sometimes I get upset knowing that my baby girl is perfect except for her tiny right ear, and sometimes I just deal with it. But twice I have asked strangers if they noticed Rachel's tiny ear. The first time was a woman who spent a few hours with us in a meeting. Rachel was about 2 months old and was sleeping in her stroller car seat. Due to the length of the meeting, she woke up and needed to be taken out and fed. While out of the seat, the woman kept complementing how cute Rachel was and I flat out asked her if she noticed Rachel's ear. She said no and then I explained what was going on with it since it now peaked the interest of the woman. The second time was at a store. I was waiting for an order to be finished and a woman was ooohing and ahhing all over Rachel. Rachel was about 5 months at the time and I flat out asked the woman if she noticed Rachel's ear. Her response was, "Absolutely." She then went on to say she so stinking cute it doesn't even matter what is going on with her ear. And she told me Rachel is in the "best time' of her life to have this since all the medical advances will allow for her to be completely normal in no time. At first her comment caught me off guard, but then I was quickly relieved because I like honesty and I like that the woman quickly looked beyond her ear and asked to carry her around the shop and show everyone how cute she was. Since these two situations with strangers, I have come to the conclusion the first woman was lying. She was "trying to be nice" and pretended to not notice her ear, but I'm almost certain she did. How can you not! It's pretty obvious when a child turns their head and you expect to see an ear and instead see a small, deformed ear. There are times I get very upset about her ear. Times when I think, "Why did this happen to me? Why did this happen to her? Why can't she just be normal like everyone else? What if her hearing test is so expensive we cannot afford to pay for it? What if they do surgery and she still cannot hear?" And then I come to the same conclusion: God gave me a child with this "issue/situation" because he knew I could handle it. He knew that I was a strong woman and had a strong marriage and strong family and he knew I would be the best mother to deal with a baby and a tiny ear. For all the mothers out there that are challenged by a physical or mental condition their child has, remember, you are the best mother to deal with that situation and the mothers of "perfect" children would never be able to handle such a task.