Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent Resolutions

The first Sunday of Advent is the mark of a new liturgical year. For the past few years I have made resolutions, similar to New Years resolutions but more spiritual in nature. I have never been successful in keeping my resolutions. 

I think that I give myself too much to strive for and as a result I fail. One year I resolved to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day. Things were going well in the beginning, then it kept slipping my mind. 

This year, I'm going to try to keep it a little more simple. I am going to read The Imitation of Christ and I am going to give myself a year to do it. I am also going to make sure I go to confession at least once during Advent. 

I have read parts of the Imitation of Christ and it is not a difficult read, but it is very spiritually fulfilling. I hope that this is a resolution that I can finally stick to! It is also a desire of mine to share with you all any inspirations that this book sparks within me! 

Have you tried making any Advent resolutions? This may be your years to start! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Got Books?

Libraries are just plain awesome. I remember getting excited as a kid when I got my first library card. It was my magical little key to reading any book that I wanted. The Bookmobile would stop in my town every Thursday evening and my grandmother and I would walk down the block to get a new stash of pages to read. 

Sometimes we would drive to the next town where the big library was and I would walk through the stacks, or watch one of the movies the librarians would show in their little theater. 

Those are some very fond memories for me.

I didn't have much time for leisurely reading while I was in graduate school. But once I earned that lambskin the first thing I did was walk down to my local public library and get a library card. Let me tell you, there is nothing like the smell of a library, the scent of paper and binding glue...ah, strangely comforting!

Well, my obsession with the e-reader kinda put a damper on my trips to the library. However, I recently found out that the library in the town where I work actually has the ability to lend e-books! During my lunch break last week I donned my pretty purple coat and made the trek downtown so that I could take advantage of free e-books!

Granted, the selection of e-books is much smaller that he traditional books, but it's still awesome. 

The cool thing about libraries is the fact that they have so much to offer: books, movies, activities, and it's all for free! (As long as you return the books and movies on time, that is.) They are an undervalued resource in society and I think that the people who seem to appreciate them the most are parents and book dorks...I just happen to be both.

Now, I am actually a member of two libraries, one where I live and one where I work. I cannot wait for my son to get a little bit older so that I can take him to the event that are offered for children. I certainly hope that he will appreciate them as much as I did. 

Finally, I am always looking for good books to read, so please feel free to leave me some suggestions below!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cute Gift Idea for Toddlers

I love books. They are a big passion of mine. It is my desire to instill the same passion that I have for books into my young son and I am always keeping an eye out for books that may pique his interest.

A friend of mine told me about Lost My Name. You can actually personalize the book to your child. The basic story is of a young boy or girl who loses their bedroom name plaque, and go on a quest to find their name. They reclaim their name by meeting friends along the way and earning each letter one by one.

Photo Credit: Babyworld
I ordered one for my son and intend to give it to him for Christmas. I think that would be a really cute idea for Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays, whatever! I recommend checking it out! 

*Note-If you click the link above you will receive 15% off of your order*

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Curse of the Bad Sleeper

There it is, that little pink line on the stick you just peed on and in a moment you life is changed forever. Instantly, images of the perfect family life flash through your mind and your heart is filled with joy. You will spend the next nine months planning to ensure that you have that perfect family life. You read every book, browse through Pinterest, join every mommy friendly Facebook page, you even start a blog to tell everyone how you’re going to have that perfect life.

Then, the unthinkable give birth to a bad sleeper.

The curse of motherhood! Yup, it happened to me. My hubby and I were so excited to have a baby and I naturally imagined a life of nothing but happiness. You know, the kind where your child sleeps on command and is perfectly behaved. Needless to say, reality is much different, especially when nighttime is involved.

I could tell we were going to have sleeping issues during that first night in the hospital. I had a pretty rough delivery and was extremely exhausted. Since I had chosen to breastfeed, I thought it would be best for my son to stay with me in the hospital room so that I could have easy access to him. I never knew how much noise an infant could make! He didn’t cry or fuss, but he kept grunting and groaning all night. None of us got much sleep, and I desperately needed it.

The next few nights were not much better. We tried to start a nighttime routine and lay him in the cute little bassinet that we purchased just for him and set by our bed. The grunting and groaning continued keeping all three of us up at night. Strangely enough, my son seemed to drift into a deep sleep just as the sun peaked over the horizon. My grandmother laughed as she told me that the baby simply ‘had his days and nights mixed up’ and he would settle into a new schedule soon. When that didn’t happen she grimly stated that we were cursed with a ‘bad sleeper’. 

My son did not want to be on his back. When we tried to lay him down on a flat surface, he would either fuss or grunt. We then tried keeping him in a sitting up position by trying to get him to sleep in his car seat, which is what our doctor recommended. She also gave us medicine for infant heartburn to see if that would soothe him. The medicine helped a little, but not much.

First shift!

Things were really taking a toll on me and my husband. We started a routine that I was not happy with. He took the ‘first shift’, meaning he stayed up with baby while I got a few hours of sleep, then we would change shifts around 2 am. He would go to bed while I stayed up with baby.

This went on for weeks. I was overtired and cranky. Motherhood was not sitting well with me and I started to feel very depressed. One night when the baby simply would not stop crying no matter how much boob I gave him, I woke up the hubby in tears and said, “I can’t do it tonight. I’m so tired!” My husband graciously took over for the night (what a saint!).

We visited a friend who had a baby a few weeks older than my son, and she showed us her baby’s Montessori style nursery and told us how she co-sleeps with her children for the first nine months of their life. I never really considered co-sleeping because I had read how potentially dangerous it was. My friend then gave me some advice that I will never forget. “Just remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to parenting. Do what is right for you and your baby.”

It was difficult for me to rummage through all of the articles on getting a baby to sleep through the night, and people seem to be very passionate about their approaches. Almost to the point of getting angry or judgmental. I had seen Facebook threads full of cry-it-out versus non-crying methods of sleep training. I couldn’t seem to make sense of it all. I simply wanted my child to sleep at night in his crib while I slept in my own bed with my husband. Was that too much to ask?

Six weeks after my son was born, we were still doing that hideous night time routine. Hubby taking the first shift and me taking the second. One night, I simply had enough. My son, was still grunting and groaning in his little car seat. I picked him up, breastfed him for a few minutes, then I laid down on the sofa with him belly down on my chest. He slept for 4 hours straight and it was the best night sleep I had had since he was born!

I did the same thing the next night, and then the next. We were finally getting some sleep! I then remembered what my friend told me about co-sleeping with her babies, and I figured that maybe it would work for us. One night, I took my baby to bed with me. I laid down on my back and placed him belly down on my chest. He slept soundly and only woke up a few times for his regular feedings.

My son loved to be cuddled and he also loved to sleep on his tummy. Now, I could have tried to lay him belly down in his crib to see if I could transition him that way, but I have a friend who lost a son to SIDS, and I could not bring myself to leave my son alone in a crib while laying face down. We stuck with co-sleeping where I could keep an eye on him. Yes, it took a little getting used to since I had to sleep more on my back, but adjust I did! 

I fully understand that co-sleeping is very controversial and that there will be a number of mothers shaking their heads at me, but I don’t care. Co-sleeping saved my sanity and my baby is a sweet and healthy child. He can sometimes be a little restless at night, but I still treasure the moments when he cuddles up into my arms.

I am not saying that everyone should co-sleep with their child. If my husband and I are blessed with another child I will still break out that beautiful bassinet and try that route first. I am just saying that if you are cursed with a ‘bad sleeper’, you may want to give it a try. Just make sure you do it safely.

The hubby snuck a pic at night...

Monday, November 16, 2015

5 Goals for November

Photo Credit: stargardner

Ok, so I know that we are in the middle of November, but for some reason, I've been inspired to set some goals for the month...we'll see how this pans out, right? 

Here we go! 

1) Reach 30 'Likes' on my Facebook page. (You need at least 30 'likes' to before you can view insights.)
2) Organize my kitchen. (This will be interesting with a toddler...)
3) Get my Christmas gift list together. (Plan now so that I won't have to scramble later.)
4) Plan our Thanksgiving meal. (The fact we are only in charge of side dishes this year certainly helps.)
5) Pray more! (Morning and evening prayers are important and I've been neglecting both.)

I'll let you know how it all plays out in the end! Maybe now that I've actually written out some goals and actually published them will make me be more accountable. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Basic Chicken Soup Recipe You Can Customize!

Cold season is upon is and it has already struck the Garland household! I adore my husband, but he is a baby when it comes to being sick and kicks and screams when I suggest remedies to him (Like taking the Honest Company Immunity Defense capsules).

Pic from

The most comforting go-to remedy to the common cold is chicken soup! I will no doubt be making a big batch of it this weekend, so I thought I would take the opportunity to share my very basic recipe.

I love soup and I love to make soup. It is just one of those staples that is so versatile and comforting, especially in the winter. I could eat soup day in and day out. The great thing about chicken soup is the fact that there are so many ways to customize it to your own tastes and needs.

Things you must have
-1 whole chicken (or chicken parts that still have the bone)
-1 onion finely chopped
-Potatoes that have been cubed (as many as you want)
-Water (store bought broth is optional if you want to add a little for additional flavor)

Fill a pot with water (or broth if you have it) and start boiling that chicken. You can add salt/pepper/garlic powder to it if you so choose for some seasoning. Once the chicken is cooked, take it out of the pot and set aside to cool. Turn heat down to medium and add the potatoes.

Choose a Green Veggie
-Kale/Spinach (Or both)

When your potatoes are mostly cooked, add a green veggie. Then pull apart the chicken and add the meat. Save the bones and throw them in a crock pot on low with some water for about 24 hours and you'll have some bone broth on hand for later use.

Add a Carb
-1 cup of quinoa (not sure if that qualifies as a carb, but that's what I'm calling it)
-1 cup of Rice (not minute rice)
-Noodles of your choice (all depending in the type of noodle, it may be best to cook noodles separately and add later to prevent them from getting mushy)

This is my very basic recipe. However, there are lots of ways to customize it and I always end up addling other stuff to match what I am hankering for.

Things You Can Add
-Chia Seeds (You won't even remember they are there because they are so small and have no taste, but that are very healthy for you!)
-Spring Onions
-White Beans
-Diced Tomatoes
-Tomato Paste
-Poached Egg (For extra protein)
-Lemon Juice or Lemon Grass


Friday, November 13, 2015

The Jane Austen Book Club- Review

I have been dying to read a good book. One that can keep me enthralled from beginning to end. I have had a very difficult time finding good books, so I always end up reading either Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion by Jane Austen, even though I've read them both almost a hundred times. I decided to take a chance a purchase The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler from Amazon. The reason I purchased the book was because I was unable to find it in my local library. 

Yes, I read the reviews on Amazon and on Goodreads and noticed that most people did not care for it, but after all, it's about Jane Austen and I love Jane Austen, so how bad can it really be? Also, I did rather enjoy the movie, and books are always better than the movie, right? 

Not in this case.

It was disappointment from page one. Since I had already seen the movie I was familiar with the premise of the story; four women and one man basically identifying with the characters in the Jane Austen books that they were reading. It's a cute story idea!

However, the author's writing style seriously inhibits you from connecting with the characters. Some scenes are very descriptive, which is nice, but she jumps around too much for my liking. One moment we'll be in a book group scene and the very next will be a flash back of some childhood memory, and then we'll return to the book group. Also, it kept jumping from first person to third person narrative and there were time that I could not tell who was telling the story.

To me, it gave a very disconnected feeling that was just way too distracting.

I should have paid attention to the reviews and not wasted my time. Needless to say, this will be donated to my local library because I don't want it cluttering up my house. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Burt's Bees Renewal Refining Cleanser- Review

Pic by cutiebootycakes (find her review here)
As most of you know, I love products by the Honest Company and Honest Beauty. However, I do use a lot of products by Burt's Bees as well.

One of my favorite products is the Renewal Refining Cleanser. According to the Burt's Been website,

  "This refining cleanser, infused with our Hibiscus and Apple Rejuvenating Complex, is shown to improve skin’s texture and smoothness.* Our hydrating formula cleanses deeply without stripping moisture and gently exfoliates to reveal smoother skin." 

I typically use this product a few times a week when I shower. It's my go to facial scrub. I really like it because it is not too harsh, it smells great, and it makes my face feel really soft and rejuvenated. I can actually feel the dead skins cells and grime coming off and my face being renewed and conditioned at the same time. 

I also like it because it is not extremely expensive. lists it as retailing for $10, however, where I purchase it (Martins Grocery Store) it retails for $8.99. There are probably a lot of other instances, depending on where you live, where it is probably cheaper in the stores than on the website. 

I would totally recommend it over St. Ives. It truly has made a difference in the texture of my skin. 

I recently noticed that Burt's Bees is offering a Holiday Grab Bag  for $25 ($48 value). It comes with a number of products in a super cute bag. I have not purchased one yet, but am definitely considering getting one and giving it away as a Christmas gift. Check it out!

Thanks Burt's Bees for keeping my face beautiful!

Monday, November 9, 2015

12 Things That Make Me Happy

Thanksgiving is on its way! It’s my second favorite holiday (next only to Christmas) and when November rolls along I begin to sit back and think about the things that I am grateful for in my life. After suffering from depression for over two years (both during and after pregnancy) I am now seeing more of the little things that make me happy, and above all I am the most thankful for being happy!

The top 12 things that make me happy:

12) Chick-Fil-A Peppermint Chocolate Chip shakes (If you’ve never had one you’re missing out!)

11) Good Co-workers- They’re like family after all!

10) Prayer- Sometimes you just need to center yourself with God.

9) Pumpkin Pie…or really just about anything with pumpkin…

8) A good skin care routine- Thanks Honest Beauty

7) Funny YouTube videos- I love seeing a cute video come across my Facebook feed. They brighten my day!

6) Boots- Because who doesn’t love a cute pair of boots?

5) A good book- Preferably something by Jane Austen. 

4) Nice home cooked meals- They’re even better if hubby does the dishes.

3) Coffee- Gets my day started off right!

2) Cuddling with my son- Makes my day even brighter!

1) My family- My world revolves around God and my family! I would be nothing without them!