Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mic check 1,2,1,2

Attempting to blog with this thing on?!?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sayonara Sherlock ...

If we've been a little absent recently, don't take it personally. We're MOVING! Yes, God is good and has finally answered our prayers. Today (assuming all goes as planned) by 1:30 we will have closed on our house in Raleigh and are now proud owners of a much smaller, much closer to Casey's work home in Durham!

There's so much about our first home that we'll miss. None more so than the super tall ceilings that can house a super tall Christmas tree each year:

Breaking up is so hard to do ... But Sherlock Court, no, really it's not you. It's me. And we can still be friends, right?
More details to come about the move (with a toddler!?!?), the new house and all the crazy Durham happenings...oh and of course, we'll need a new blog address, huh? The Raleigh Collins are no more!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Littlest Book Worm ...

Nothing makes my inner nerd's heart smile more than when I look over and see this:
 My sweet girl loves to read. Ok, so she doesn't actually know how to read words. I mean, the kid is smart, but she's not a super genius or anything. But, she loves to act like she can read:

Just pretend like this book is right-side up ..
It makes me proud that amidst a pile of her discarded toys, she frequently quietly sits and reads her books :
I think I've read this before ...
Often "quiet time" is synonymous with "destruction time" so I don't usually leave her alone for more than a quick trip to the bathroom or to put in my contacts. But it is a nice, non-whining way of buying us both a little "Me Time".

Last week, I took her to the Mecca for Book Worms; the library, for Rhyme Time. I don't know why we haven't ever been before but it was great:
Biding time until Rhyme Time starts with a few "new" books ...
 Staying true to her form, Beatrice Kate could care less about the singing and dancing business. But once she laid eyes on a stack of someone (else's) freshly checked-out stash of Dora books... it was game on:
Oh, what's this ...
Do-do-do, Don't mind me one bit.
Ah, yea. Paper Pages. They make a better ripping noise than board books.
I was getting a little worried I may have to pry the books out of her tiny power grip but just at the moment of truth, the Librarian (who has the best job on the planet) sprung Favorite Item #2 on Bea's list- bubbles:
They're like Toddler Crack. Everyone goes crazy for bubbles.
After the mayhem of Rhyme Time, she couldn't wait for Daddy to get home and read her all-time fav book The Lorax, which Bea calls, "Lax":
Well, maybe it's her favorite? Or she could just be bored...


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I'm loving Wednesday ...

Holy Cow!

This week, I'm loving that it's Wednesday already! Friday is only two days away... HALLELUJAH! And do you know what happens on Friday?!? WE FINALLY CLOSE ON OUR HOUSE! I wish I could bold and animate how excited I am about that fact. More coming but until then, I don't want to jinx it!

I'm loving this nail polish:

Sally Hansen, Insta-Dry. It dries almost as soon as you put it on and if you have a toddler... that's a necessity.

I'm loving International Delights new line of coffee creamers (The "Coffeehouse Collections", especially in the "Skinny" variety:
I'm loving the fact that this guy:
Can fix nearly anything, including our broken air conditioner (yep, two days before we close!). His skillz just saved us over $400 at least and plus, he looks super Sexy being all handy around the house. I knew there was a reason I married him :)

I'm loving rewatching all the Grey's Anatomy episodes from the very beginning on Netflix. Actually, I guess I should say that I'm loving Netflix since it's about the only T.V. we watch these days.

And as always, I'm loving this sweet girl:

How is it possible that she keeps getting more and more lovable? I especially love her in the mornings. She's in a super funny and silly mood and keeps me laughing throughout our breakfasts.

What's on your lists this week?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Houston, We Have A Climber ...

In a matter of minutes, Beatrice Kate has gone from hardly mobile to OMG.SHE'S.EVERYWHERE. To add insult to injury, she's also taken to climbing a little too well. Oh, and she can scale anything. Two days ago, Casey caught her one leg up our linen closet shelves.

It started out innocently enough. Oh, how sweet. She's climbed through the chair legs:

Then, overnight she started constructing elaborate scaling expeditions in an effort to bust out of Baby Jail. At first, she utilized the simple, everyday items at her disposal:
Who puts books in a basket anyway? This'll show them ...

Followed by more clever tactics such as pushing items across the room to create modified stair cases:
Looking a little too smug for my liking ...

I blame her father for this. It's his engineering brain that's responsible for her ability to problem solve so freakin' well. My problem is that I don't know the point at which I should step in. Do I race to her aide every time I see her start an ascent? Or, do I wait for her to fall off of something, possibly get hurt and then let her "Learnt a Lessin"?
Huh? Oh, I was just... checking out this table from a new angle. That's all.
This parenting stuff needs a manual sometimes.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Meanest Parents In the World ...

Beatrice Kate is unfortunate enough to have been born into a family with the two meanest parents in the world. At least, that's what she thinks as of recent.

Here's a list of things that Mean Mommy (that would be, oh yes... me) and Mean Daddy make her do:
  • Eat food
  • Eat food other than pretzel sticks and Cheddar Bunnies
  • Change her diaper
  • Put on a fresh diaper
  • Don't allow her to smear feces around with her feet while having a diaper change
  • Put clothes on her
  • Make her keep her clothing on (well, for the most part)
  • Make her keep her diapers on
  • Lay her down
  • Pick her up
  • Play with her
  • Don't play with her
  • Take small items of trash from her mouth that she found on the floor
  • Stop her from smacking the dogs in the face with a toy
  • Stop her from cornering the dogs in terror with her walker
  • Stop her from pulling clumps of dog hair out of Arnold's neck (poor guy)
  • Stop her from putting said clumps into her mouth (ick. ick... and ick)
  • Don't allow her to crawl off the bed
  • Don't allow her to climb on top of chairs
  • Don't allow her to climb over baby gates
  • Don't allow her to put her toys into light sockets
 You can see, the list is quite extensive. Now that she's become more mobile and more ahem, independent, things have gotten a little heated around here.

Of course, all it takes is a hug and kiss from this sweet girl and Mean Mommy and Mean Daddy's defenses are useless. Play with knives? Coming right up!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Familiar Place, Familiar Faces ...

I realize this post is two weeks over due. That's half because we've been so slammed busy getting ready for our big move (more on that later) and half because well, I just couldn't put together the words...

Two Thursdays ago we visited our NICU at UNC Children's Hospital. It was the first time we walked through the doors, inside of the germ-protected bubble, since we last walked out nearly 17 months ago.
Casey and I, we knew it would be emotional. Being a Preemie Parent isn't something you just wake-up and get over in a day; or even in a year. We knew that walking through the doors would trigger a lot of painful and equally strong happy memories. Everything from the ding of the elevator bells, the smell of the hospital-grade soap, the click of the heavy, locked door makes when it's buzzed open brought a fresh wave of "I can't believe we're back".

We were both reduced to tears when we spoke to our doctors and nurses. But this time, instead of crying and sobbing and asking God to please heal our daughter; we were crying tears of joy. Tears of thanksgiving that We. Made. It.
Bea wore the diaper on the left, folded down twice to fit...
And it we're where we are today because of those doctors and nurses. You see, to us, NICU Parents, NICU Survivors, Superheros don't look like Batman or Spiderman.

To us, Superheros look more like this:
The girl loves a mustache ...

And like this:

And like this:

These are the faces of the our heroes. Instead of capes, they wear white coats and scrubs and carry stethoscopes. They smell like hand sanitizer and talk in soft, whispery voices. Most importantly, instead of saving you from an evil villain, they save your child from the brink of death.

Don't be fooled by their everyday appearance, though. These people... they have super powers. Sure, it's not X-ray vision or invisibility. Instead, it's quick thinking, nimble hands and a lot of patience.

These are the faces of the people who taught us how to be parents to a baby that was smaller than our shoe. They're the ones who sat and held our hands and said things like, "She's doing great!" on those really tough days when we were ready to give up.

Because of our Superheros, today we not only have a healthy ex-preemie; we have a thriving, beautiful, strong daughter.
 Yea, I'd have to say that our Superheros? They're way cooler than Batman.

Note: The N&O did a great story about the opening of Pod G (which is the reason we went back). You can find that article here. And here, you can see photos taken by a actual photographer, courtesy of UNC Hospitals. There's a nice shot of a super-cute former preemie around Photo Number 10. 


Friday, July 15, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner ...

And we have a winner for the free 45/90 bag of Rockin' Green!! See?
#11: April, from Enchanted Dandelions, please send me an email with your mailing address and I'll ask Rockin' Green to ship your Motley Clean Remix Formula straightaway!.

April says, "With three little ones, ages 6, 5 and 3, there are PLENTY of ways I can think to use Rockin' Green Soap... from grungy towels, to hand prints on the walls! We use a variety of cloth diapers, but my favorite is probably good ol' prefolds"

Congrats, April and I hope that you'll love Rockin' Green as much as I do!

To everyone else: Don't worry! More giveaway goodness is on the horizon!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Random Flow of Thoughts ...

There's a lot of stuff going on this week and I can't seem to get it together enough to put together a cohesive blog post, so hopefully, bullet points will work?!? ...

  • Giveaway Alert: This is a biggie. Don't forget, you have until tomorrow to be entered to win a FREE bag of my fav baby detergent, Rockin' Green. Click here to find out how to get your name in the hat to win. 
  • Long time, no blog: Ok, not really, but faithfuls know that we usually update the blog daily. This week, things have been a little crazy. Sorry for that.
  • Reason #1 for the extended absesnce: My grandmother, Nana, was put into the hospital on Monday night. Scary at first, still a little weary from the drive there and back in 24 hours but all seems to be stable and okay now. Long story short: Nana had a series of small strokes which caused a hemorrhage in her brain. A trip to the E.R., a two day stay at the hospital and she'll be discharged today with  a few activity restrictions. Nana, my only living grandparent, is more than a family member. She's a family force, and a giant, Nana-sized hole will be created, and never filled in our family, when something happens to her. We were all a little freaked for a bit. 
  • First night away: The trauma of leaving my baby for the first time overnight was overshadowed a bit by the fact that my grandmother was sick. But, don't think the thought was lost on me. I hated being away from her and annoyed Casey like crazy for hourly updates on how she was doing. 
  • She did great, of course: Casey stayed home from work yesterday to take care of Bea. They had a great time together and took in a visit to the NC Museum of Art. Bea loved it, ate well for Casey and even took a great nap. The punk.
  • Reason #2: Beatrice Kate has turned into a complete crazy baby this week. We assume that she's cutting molars and thus is just plain uncomfortable; but she's making life around here.... less than pleasant. In the past 8 days, she's only slept through the night entirely twice. The rest of the time she wakes up no less than 4-5 times a night, crying a blood curdling cry that's only soothed by being rocked back to sleep. Naps, naturally, are out of the question for her too.We're tired and our ears are ringing from all the whining.
  • Reason #3: I haven't talked a lot about it; but we've got some things happening with our house and it's keeping us constantly busy. 
  • Eating Rampage: Usually, I'm hemming and hawing over the fact that I can't get Bea to eat a proper meal. This week, she's on a tear. For breakfast alone yesterday she ate: an egg with onion and bell peppers, a waffle, four strawberries, a few bites of oatmeal and a handful of spinach (just to be well-rounded). Craziness, I tell you.
  • When Nana was in the ER on Monday night, she was getting overwhelmed by the loud noises surrounding her. This is the note that the nurses put on her door. It did not inspire a lot of confidence:
Correct spelling optional ...
That's it. I have a lot to say about our trip last week to visit our NICU. It was emotional and rewarding to be back. But, I want to give it the proper amount of time a post about that visit deserves. It'll have to wait until tomorrow...


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Funky Butt No-More: Rockin' Green Review and Giveaway!

As most of our readers know, we're a loud-and-proud Cloth Diaperin' Family. There's rarely a day that I don't talk to someone about the wonders of cloth diapering, trying my hardest to persuade them to make the switch out of 'sposies. It's probably annoying I'm sure. Regardless, Beatrice Kate is nearly sixteen months now and we've been cloth diapering for over a year. I think it's safe to say that in that time, I've become a "cloth diaper expert". In my head.

I've tried nearly every diaper detergent on the market. I've even tried making my own (yea, that fancy Chemistry Degree doesn't work so well outside of the lab). But hands down, the best detergent I've found during my tenure as the Cloth Mama has been Rockin' Green.

Ah, Rockin' Green. How I love thee.You remember, right? It's one of my favorite things (and has been on the list for a while now). As sweet and sugary of a little girl Beatrice Kate is, her two-day-old diapers are a force to be reckoned with. Toddlerhood has not done her diapers any favors and the smell of ammonia is enough to make a Navy SEAL gag.

That's why I jumped at the chance to review Rockin' Green Detergent's new REMIX formula. I got to sample scents in Rage Against the Raspberry and Bare Naked Babies ('cause I'm greedy like that). The scents are perfect, in my opinion. Not too powerful, but enough to make laundry a more pleasant experience (Well, at least it helps lessen the burning sensation my eyes experience when I first dump Bea's dirties into the wash)

Let me tell you- nothing, and I mean nothing, has done a better job at getting rid of the smellies like this stuff.

Oh, and if you're all about saving Mother Earth, then you'll love this: It's safe for Baby and for the environment. They leave out all of the yucky stuff like phosphates, fillers and dyes. It's especially great for babies with sensitive skin like, ahem.... my husband child. And, if you live somewhere with hard or soft water, they've got you covered with three different formulas to suit your needs!

Don't have a baby? What about 6 cats? Dogs? A teenage son? Rockin' Green can be one of your favorites too. I've used it on everything from baby clothes to stinky towels to dog beds and the result is the same- clean, fresh laundry. Their web site shares all kinds of alternative uses for the product, besides just washing diapers.

So, now that you're all, "Oh, man. This stuff sounds awesome. I can't wait to try it"; I've got some good news. How about the chance to win a FREE 45/90 load bag!?! Here's how...

***Mandatory for one entry to win:*** 
-Become an official follower of this blog and
-Leave a comment below, telling me what scent you would choose if you won.

Get extra entries (leave a comment below  for each to let me know):
-Visit Rockin' Green's Facebook Page, give them a "Like" and say hello
-Install my blog button on your blog
- Tell me what your favorite kind of cloth diaper is
-Tell me a new way you would use Rockin' Green, besides washing diapers

That's it! You have the chance to enter up to five times to win your very own bag of Rockin' Green. A random winner will be picked on Thursday, July 14 by 5 p.m.!

*Yes, Rockin' Green provided a sample size of the REMIX formula free of charge for the purposes of this review. However, I am not being paid to tell you how amazing this product is. And, even if I had purchased it on my own, the opinion would be the same: It ROCKS and I would recommend it to anyone, anytime.*


Thursday, July 7, 2011

An all-too-familiar routine; revisited ...

Get in the car. Turn up the radio, drive down the interstate with excitement. What will she look like today? I can't wait to see her.

Turn onto Hwy. 54 and a little flicker in my stomach starts. Turn right on to Highway 15-501, flicker turns into full-press nausea. How did she do overnight? Did anything happen in between the morning call and now? Maybe I should call again.

Turning right onto Manning Drive, pass the Emergency Room. Turn left into the parking deck. Sprint out seat belt, nearly tripping out of the car. Speed walk down the breezeway. No, can't say hello to strangers today. I need to check on her first, before I can think about anything else.

Check-in. Yes, I am a parent. Here's my badge. See, NCCC Parent. I have the monthly pass, can't they tell we're here for the long-haul? Surely they can tell that, right?

Hurry and try to catch the elevator. Come on, lady, don't you see I'm in a hurry? Maybe I should call to tell the nurse I'm on my way up. I really want to make the 8:00 Care Time. 

Push button for Level 4. 1, beep. 2, beep. Stop. OK good, we're going again. 3, beep. Stop. Seriously? 4, beep. Finally.

Step off elevator. Turn left. Pick up phone. Hello? Yes, I'm Ashley Collins. I'm here to see my daugther. Let me in straightaway.

Buzzer. Door opens automatically. Quick peek into her Pod. Oh, God. There are doctors. Lots of doctors standing in the doorway. And buzzers. And monitors pinging. Why didn't they call?

Check again. There she is on the right, nested into her little pillow. Sound asleep.They're at another baby's bed. Breathe. She's OK.

Catch the nurse's eye. I can sign-in and wash-up now. She knows I'm here. Can't she tell I'm here, even if I'm not next to her?

Scrub to my elbows. Counting to thirty in water so hot, my hands are stinging. Dry off and use sanitizer. Can't be too careful.

Walk back down the hall. Breathe. She's there. She's so, so, very tiny. But she's ours and she's OK. Today.


We visited our NICU today. Somethings were the same. Most things were very, very different. More tomorrow ...


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday ...

Right off the bat: I love weeks that start on Tuesday. It makes the entire week fly by and before you know it, BAM. Saturday's here again and my sweet husband gets two entire days with his girls.

I'm loving this web site. It's a guy who blogs about the Bachelor/Bachelorette series and I nearly wet my pants every week from laughing so hard at his summaries of each episode. Warning: It can be a little crude at times; but when you're dealing with a bunch of drunk singles searching for love whoring it up on television... it's completely well-placed.

I'm loving I couldn't figure out what it was for a long time and everyone was raving about it, but now that I'm on it...I'm hooked. It's a great way to organize project ideas; and especially if you're like me, and are more into "planning" than "doing", it's an easy way to feed the need.

I'm loving our back deck on these summer nights. I think we've utilized it more in the past four days than we have for the entire past five years we've lived here. What the heck were we waiting for?!?

I'm loving that my sweet girl loves to wear her bike helmet; even when she's not taking a ride with her Daddy. She's quite demanding and wants to wear it the moment she first spots it. I nearly had to pry it off of her head just to get her down for a nap this morning:

We're all about safety ...
That's it for this week. Tomorrow, we're going back to visit our NICU at UNC Children's Hospital for the first time since Bea was discharged last year. I have a lot of things I want to say about that and Casey and I both have a lot of emotions about returning. It's sure to be a roller coaster of a day. Stay tuned ...


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'Merican Pride

This post could have many, many titles ...

A Patriotic Party, for starters:

Cute July Fourth Decorations Made Easy, would be another:

Pinwheel instructions found here.

How about: Birthday Party, Done Right:

Then there's my personal favorite: Sangria is Spanish for "Devil's Juice":
Or The Pioneer Woman Made Me Do It:
Heaven comes in the form of a giant hunk of meat ...
We're still talking about that corn casserole ...
Or, depending on the who's account of the night we're going with, simply: Mommy Got Rowdy might be fitting:

We had a dinner party on Saturday in honor of my birthday. Did I mention that it was my birthday? Well, it was. And to celebrate, we hosted Date Night for a very special group of friends. Once a month, we get together with three couples we met during our Bradley Birthing Method class last year for a night of childless, adult conversation. Sometimes we go out, sometimes we take turns hosting at our homes.

Can you believe that some of our now-closest friendships developed as a result of childbirth education?!? Over the past year, these folks have become like family to us. They know our child and they love our child; as we do theirs. And when someone loves your child as much as you do... well, you keep those folks around. So, it was an honor to have them over and to celebrate my birthday with them. We made a full dinner using recipes from The Pioneer Woman (including that wicked Sangria). It was amazing: Beef Tenderloin, Fresh Corn Casserole, Mango-Pineapple Salsa, Caprese Salad and Red, White and Blue Strawberries (these weren't from PW, but they were super easy to make).

The next day was, well, rough. But it was a celebration and we had two of the best babysitters a girl could ask for:
They're going to say this is a bad picture; but I love it and it's my blog ...

We had planned to go for brunch, but someone's stomach just couldn't handle the thought of digesting a buffet meal just yet so we waited it out. Dad and Toni went for a hike a nearby Umstead State Park. I'm not sure they were adequately dressed for the occasion, though:
Speechless ...
Then we went to run a yet-to-be-unveiled-to-our-readers-super-secret mission. Don't worry, all will be revealed in due time. But, it was awesome and Casey and I are SO excited about the coming month. And no, Lord, no. I'm not pregnant.

After the Special Op Mission, we went to dinner at Mura in North Hills. It was delicious, as expected, but mostly I wanted you to see how freakin' adorable my child looked:
She looked like a birthday present ...
Oh, and we've discovered the kid will eat anything off of chopsticks. Including green beans:
She turned up the amplifier on her personality at dinner and as Toni says, "Showed Out". Despite being out a full half-hour past her normal bedtime, she never once cried, whined or fussed the entire time we were in public. Good grief, I love this kid:

What? Oh, like you don't let your toddler select the wine for you ...
It was a great weekend. Casey and I got to rest and relax all day yesterday and even had ourselves a miniature cook-out for the three of us. I love being born so close to a holiday. It allows everyone around me to slow down and appreciate the occasion :) I think July 4th may just be my favorite holiday all year.

Hope yours was filled with the Power of Pride, too.