Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Whatcha Reading Wednesday: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is not the kind of book I typically read. When I read the synopsis (cancer, teen love, death...), I wasn't sold. But it was highly recommended by a friend, so I decided to give it a go.

Front Cover

The story centers on, and is told by, Hazel. She is 16 and has terminal cancer, but has been in remission due to a miracle trial drug that no one expected to work. Her parents are overbearing and worried she may lapse at any minute. This leaves her mom to hover and her dad to cry a lot. She isn't in high school and her only real interaction with other kids her age is from the cancer support group, which she hates. Until August, a new guy, shows up and starts helping her live a little.

I really cannot praise this book enough. The writing is amazing and witty. I love the voice it's told in. John Green did a great job capturing a teenage girl on paper. I could sometimes almost see her rolling her eyes as I read. You don't expect a book about cancer to be funny, but this one was hilarious. Hazel and August have great banters and really humorous ways of describing cancer, its treatment, and the world around them. 

Of course, in a book whose main them is cancer, you can't expect the whole thing to be a joy ride. There is pain and sadness, lost body parts, and lost people. Even with the dark aspects woven here and then and pervading the end, I didn't come away from reading this feeling down. It was a light, quick read that I would (and already have!) recommend to others.
{*Thanks Julie for recommending this book!*}

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Work towards happiness as a state of being, not a temporary emotion. Ways to do this, aim to fill your life with general happiness inducing experiences (spending time with people you care about, engaging in a hobby...), instead of focusing on particular "if only" goals (I'd be happy if only I was out of debt, had a newer car, bought that outfit...). Monetary and material things do no produce true happiness. They supply you with a temporary distraction that succeeds in diverting your attention away from you state of unhappiness.

Get Moving.

Do something selfless.

Take control/relinquish control.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Bath Melts Tutorial

I originally found out you could make bath melts/truffles at home from Be Beautiful, so of course I consulted all mighty pinterest and was quickly over-run with other versions and recipes. I decided to make some of my own, and just for giggles, here's how I did it.

1 oz. Shea butter
1 oz Cocoa butter
1 teas. Dried herbiness (I used orange peel)
10-15 Essential oil (I used sweet orange)

(I got everything but the EO at Hobby Lobby)

Step 1:
I lined a silicone tray with some mini muffin papers because I wanted to be able to give some of these away.

Step 2:
Melt butters. You can use a double boiler. I used my mini crock pot that's just for soap making and bath products. It was taking awhile to melt, so I went and did some sewing and checked back after 30 minutes and it was ready.

Step 3:
Mix in the essential oil and teaspoon of dried goodies, than carefully spoon into your mold. I used a tablespoon worth of melted goodness for each one, but will be using less next go around because it only takes half of one to get the bath water feeling nice and silky.

Step 4:
Allow the melts to harden completely. I popped mine in the fridge for a couple hours because I was eager to try them out.

Step 5: 
Grab some wine and a book and go take a nice long bath! (Then revel in your ultra luxurious soft, scrumptiously smelling skin)

{*Note that these make your tub slippery so take care when stepping out*}

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Journey of 35 Pounds

I started getting serious about losing the last of my baby-weight on October 16th 2012, when I joined My Fitness Pal. It's a website that helps you figure your caloric needs and goals, charts your progress while logging your food and exercise, and offering a community of support. I had never even heard of it until some mamas in my online mommy group were talking about it (thanks Laura S and Sarah H.!) and I had to get in on the action and I am so glad I did! I was 148 lbs at the time. Now, 9 weeks later, I am down to 137! That's 11 pounds in 2 (ish) months and an average of 1.35 pounds a week. I am really excited about my progress and have hit my first goal point nearly 3 weeks early!
It hasn't even been as hard as I expected. Some days (ok, many hahaha) I am either too lazy or too busy with the business to "workout", but the site has opened my eyes to how many calories I actually burn from daily activities and how to maximize seemingly trivial actions to burn more calories (folding clothes while standing burns double the amount of calories as folding while sitting does!). Who knew that grocery shopping burns (for me) nearly 300 calories?! Do it while babywearing a 20ish pound baby and you've actually gotten a really good workout without even meaning to ; ) By showing graphs and trends, MFP also opened my eyes to my hidden weaknesses (late night leftovers monching and drinking extra calories through soda and juices).

The change has been monumental in bringing back my confidence in my body. Last year, during my pregnancy, I spent 4 months on extremely restrictive bedrest. I'm talking unimaginable restrictive... I had to lay on my left side, feet elevated, only moving enough to take a drink/eat or change the channel/text, and only getting up to use the bathroom. I wasn't even allowed to be up long enough to make myself a bowl of cereal due to the risk of fetal cardiac arrest from my dangerously high blood pressure that skyrocketed with my slightest movement. Months of not moving (and being at the whim of whatever fast food my busy friends and family could drop off for me) tool me from a pre-pregnancy 116 pound size 2 to a post-pregnancy 172 pound size 14 (considered obese for my 4'11 small frame) and shattered my self-esteem.

The first part of my weight loss journey was painstakingly slow. A lot of bad eating habits had carried over from when I was on bedrest, and I had been immobile for so long that the slightest hint of exercise was extremely exhausting. As my strength returned, I started taking Cadence on walks, and babywearing to boot. The pounds came off slowly but surely, but by mid-summer I hit an unflinching plateau. I tried increasing my cardio. I tried only drinking water. I tried to go low carb. I even tried a master cleanse that promised to rid my body of toxins and help me shed at least (!) 10 lbs. as the toxins left my body. Instead, it left my nauseous and too weak to even lift my daughter from her crib.

I began to feel defeated, that maybe 148-150 pounds was just my post-baby size. The thought that I would spend the rest of my life in this body was extremely depressing and was taking a toll on my relationship. Now that I am seeing such amazing progress, I am motivated to put even more effort into the weight loss. I know I will never have the body I did before my pregnancy. This hips have given birth! But I can be at a happy, healthy weight for my height and frame and feel good in clothes (and out of them!), which is just about where I'm at now. I would like to lose 8-10 more pounds and start focusing on toning. Buh-bye bat wing arms!

{*I have not been compensated in anyway for endorsing My Fitness Pal*}

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My, How Things Change!

My days used to be filled with textbooks and coffee breaks, speeding from one end of campus to the other, and hoola hooping in the quad. 

Now my days are filled with developmental toys and sippy cups, chasing a baby through the house, and playing uh oh for endless periods of time. And laundry. Mountains of laundry that are never ending. 

But that’s ok. I enjoy my life - this new life I never expected to be leading. I love my family and this tiny little person I grew in my belly. It is phenomenal to watch her mature and learn. She is developing preferences and her own personality. It is quite amazing to know I am fostering this. She started as a blank slate and every interaction I have with her helps shape the woman she will one day be. It really is an awe inspiring responsibility.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baby Bibliophile

Cadence loves books. Like really, she loves them (like her mama). We were playing in her room and she threw a bunch of toys out of her toy bin, climbed in, and proceeded to dig out all the books and pile them around her. She spent almost 45 minutes sitting there "reading".

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Teaching Failure

Learning how to fail could be one of the most important lessons you ever teach your child. It teaches perseverance, dedication, hard work, and follow through. Because let's be real, no on likes a sore loser who quits all the time, and we want our children to be liked. Encourage them to see a task to completion even if it isn't "perfect". Let them learn the reality that they are not naturally awesome at everything - being awesome takes work.

Highlight progress stemming from repetition and practice. (You're catching the ball more often than you did the last time we played catch. You're getting better because you're practicing!) Focus on excellence that is the result of hard word and dedication. (This is a really good picture. I can tell you put a lot of time and work into it.) Encourage your child to always do their best regardless of the task. It really is true that "something worth doing is worth doing right". This will foster a sense of self-pride in accomplishment that is more meaningful than abundant empty praise that doesn't paint an accurate picture of their skill level or the work it takes to improve. It will also help your child use these same accomplishments to build self-esteem that doesn't rely heavily on external cues and rewards. This will be increasingly beneficial as your child grows towards adulthood because failures will not be seen as a crushing ego blow, but instead as challenges to overcome.

I am NOT saying do not praise your children, but I am saying you should be aware of the wording and frequency of that praise. Also pay attention to the quality of your child's work, and bear in mind the age appropriateness of their finished product. You might congratulate a 4 year old that writes their name with a backward letter in it, but to tell a first grader who did the same that they did good job would not be honest or doing the child any favors (a more appropriate response would be to say "I don't think you were trying your best on this. I have seen you write your name better than that.) In my experience, if you call your child out on not giving their best effort, they will make corrections without actually being told to.

This is why I do not jump in to rescue my girls (ages 1 and 6) from difficult tasks. I try to let them work through it. If they are getting frustrated, I will offer hints or suggestions, but I do not take over. Even if that means it takes longer for the task to get done than if I would have just done if myself. Bailing your kids out when things get tough sets a bad precedent for when they are older and you are not around to help them out of a tough situation.

There will, however, be times when a task really is just too difficult for the child. In those instances, I suggest talking them through and giving them broken down, guided steps, or replacing the task with a more age appropriate one (maybe they can stir instead of breaking eggs). This is the difference between teaching your child to fail and setting them up for failure.

For more on how to use failure to your benefit, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure is a great book, emphasizing how failure teaches innovation.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's About Time!

This blog is 2 years in the works. There have been many stutter starts, but I am now committed to taking the plunge. Welcome to Cucculuccia, my world of pampered green living - cloth diapering, luxury all-natural beauty products, upcycling crafts, and healthy flavorful recipes. 
But what is Cucculuccia? It is an Italian term of endearment meaning "my sweet little cuddly one", and it is my bella bambina that has finally motivated me to to dive headfirst into this journey of growth and learning. I can't wait to share it with you!

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