Sunday, September 25, 2011

Annoyed by the new Facebook layout? Privacy issues? I have some solutions!!

Whether you want to or not... apparently.
So along with the new Facebook layout that was rolled out earlier this week were the usual complaints from people (like me) who don't adjust well to change... especially seemingly pointless change. But along with this were some very real privacy concerns. I keep my personal Facebook friends group pretty lean. The FB page for the blog is open but I don't post personal things there. I hate people I don't know seeing where I've been 'checked in' to a place in real time... creepy. My page is friends ONLY for a reason. I don't share things with people unless I'm positive I want them to see. I have some people who have a limited view, some who see everything and even a choice few who are blocked entirely. So after the update when I noticed that all of a sudden my public view contained a list of people I had friend-ed and comments I made, I was more than a little miffed. And that ticker?!??!!! HATED that ticker. So I went hunting for a way to deal with the changes before I just gave up and deleted myself entirely.... here's what I came up with.
This information is out there but it's scattered all over so here it is neat and tidy and all in one place. I've tried all of these solutions and am currently running them successfully with minimal inconvenience.
I did the legwork for you... hope it helps!!
So, where to start?

Want to get rid of the Facebook ticker that is now showing up on the side of your news feed? Well, if you are browsing with Chrome there is a quick fix that will get rid of it for FREE! No info, no 'liking' anything. Just a click to install the Chrome extension.
Go here to get it: https://chrome.google.com/webstore
It's legitimate and it takes about five seconds, then you refresh the page and *poof* no more annoying ticker in your sidebar!
I've read that there is also a Firefox script you can run, but I can't recommend something I haven't tried myself, but here's the link if you want to give it a shot:  https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/facebook-ticker-removal/
Unfortunately, I haven't found a reasonable way to eliminate it with other browsers.

Now how about this annoying top stories business appearing above your feed?
This one is a little tricky and it isn't a one click solution, but over time it should clear the section entirely. See those blue triangles in the top left hand corner of your 'top' stories? Click it. It will mark that type of story as less important and if you clear them all and refresh your news feed goes back to normal! The catch? Whenever Facebook reloads it finds new 'top' stories. The hope is that eventually after marking stories as NOT top stories they will eventually stop showing up altogether. To be honest, it's yet to be seen, but it is a quick and simple short term solution!

There is also an issue with FB showing select stories only in your regular feed or whittling down the amount of posts. The solution to this seems to be creating a list of all of your friends... call it 'everyone' or 'all' and then in your sidebar under lists go to your new 'everyone' or 'all' group and Voila! all the posts from all of your friends are back!

As far as privacy goes, this would also serve as a solution if you are worried about tagging and commenting activity showing up where it isn't supposed to. Just set your privacy settings to ONLY the 'everyone' or 'all' group. Then no one will else will be able to see your info or tags, likes, comments etc...

The only catch to this list solution is that you will have to revise it a little every time you add a new friend, but I think it's worth it...

Hope this was helpful!!! Feel free to let me know if you've found a quicker or easier way or if you have any other Facebook tips/tricks to make it less annoying and better protect our privacy.

Oh yeah... and consider this my admission that I'm a total nerd.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Huge sale at Little Passports!

I know I've mentioned them before because I'm in LOVE with this idea and can't wait for Aurora to be old enough but : Little Passports (HERE is the original entry with some more info in case you missed it) is offering a HUGE discount on their Globetrotter Package (a full year subscription to their awesome service). The original price is $131 but from now until midnight (PST) on September 26th they'll be offering it for only $99!! That's almost 33% off! Just enter the code LPSEPT99 at the checkout! Yet again, I'm bummed that it's too early to start on it for Aura or this would've been an amazing present. Hopefully when she's old enough, they'll run this again at the same time... I think it would be a great start of the school year idea! Something to look forward to every month (and a sneaky dose of extra learning). Anyway, I just thought I'd share because I really hope someone else will be able to take advantage of this deal! If you do be sure to tell me how your littles feel about it!



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Goodbye Summer! A perfect end to Aurora's first!

Perfect.
I mentioned yesterday that we had our last beach adventure of the season on Tuesday...  Summer has always been my favorite season and I often will have a last hurrah the week after labor day once the beaches are closed. I love to do this because the weather is still nice and warm but the beach is usually almost empty aside from some hardcore sunbathers. This was the case on Tuesday. I counted less than 12 people besides us... It was pretty amazing and peaceful and perfect. We had a blast! I couldn't have asked for a better end to Aurora's first summer. Here's some pictures... including a special surprise that she had in store for me!!
I guess squishing mud in her hands was hilarious. 
Looking out at the water
So I haven't said anything yet, because I thought maybe it was a fluke, but a few times in the last week or so Aurora has gotten into a squatting position and tried to stand up on her own. I always thought babies learned to stand by pulling up on something and letting go but I guess she wants to do things differently! Usually she stays hunched over like a little mini sumo wrestler and it only lasts a few seconds before she's on her bum. However she seemed very determined and wouldn't you know it we were at the beach about half and hour before she tried it....  and stayed up!!!
Standing!
I'm not sure if it was the sand that made her more stable or what but she was super confident about it... as a matter of fact a few minutes later she was doing it again and let me walk pretty far away from her. She was super steady on her little feet!
After some fun at the water we headed over to a giant grassy area and I let Aura do her thing and crawl all over the place. She loves exploring and already tries to be independent.


Right before I started packing us up to head home, I looked over and Aurora was standing again!!
Surprise!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday XI - (Goodbye Summer!)

Yesterday was our last beach outing... more on that tomorrow!!

Our weekend: (a little late) Art festivals and a baby shower!

This weekend there were art festivals in both Providence (where we live) and Pawtucket (which is close by and where we go every week for baby yoga)! We stopped by the Providence one first because it was close to home. It's times like these that I fall in love with my city all over again. During the warm weather months we have events like this just about every weekend and everyone comes out for them. I've lived in other cities where the community wasn't nearly as established. Providence really is a small-town city. Everyone knows everyone and, even if it gets annoying sometimes, there is a great deal of comfort to be taken in that. This particular Providence Art Festival has become a twice a year event. One of the main streets downtown (which ironically was a pedestrian mall or an outdoor shopping area in the 60s) is completely blocked off and vendors and artists set up booths, food trucks come out and bands play.
I bought an adorable (and very nerdy) bib from one of these vendors for only $3.00!
I'll be sure to post a picture soon!
We attempted to go to the arts festival in Pawtucket afterwards but it was $10 just to get in and I really couldn't justify it after coming from such a great one that was free. So we just took a long walk instead and then headed home. I realized that I didn't take a picture of Aura's outfit so I tried to rectify that once we got back. This was the best I could get, she was on the move the minute I put her down! I wish you could see the glittery silver shoes!!
Then on Sunday we went to a baby shower for my friend K.B. who is having a little girl in October. It works out well because she gets to have Aurora's hand-me-downs since they will be in the same season. Strange the things you don't really think about before you have a baby. I always had this idea that hand-me-downs were universal... it wasn't till I got a bunch of 6 month sized winter coats that I realized that wasn't the case at all. Not at first anyway... but baby V. lucks out and Aura's things will fit at the right time!
When we got there Aurora reunited with her friends from Mayhem (a party that K.B.'s family has on Memorial Day weekend every year). She loves other kids and they love her and my arm loves a break from carrying her so it was a win-win-win situation!!!

Then Aurora took advantage of the big giant backyard (which we unfortunately don't have) and crawled all over it the place!
When we got home, she had her new favorite meal: organic whole wheat elbows with organic (from frozen) shelled and halved edamame. When she was younger I tried giving her pureed edamame and it was the only thing she turned her nose up at after a spoonful but if she can grab them and shovel them in it's a different story... she LOVES them now. Just goes to show you, don't give up on a food just because you got a bad reaction once. You never know, they may love it a different way!!
See?

Monday, September 12, 2011

If I could give one piece of advice to all the advice-givers....

It would be this:

Just because you've read about or experienced something, doesn't make you an authority on it. PERIOD.

Got it? 
Makes sense right?
No? Well then let me explain:
This is something that I notice constantly on a few of the parenting/pregnancy message boards, and something that I've witnessed happening to friends when certain taboo subjects arise or when advice is solicited either via blogs or even in person. All of a sudden everyone has to chime in and everyone is convinced that they are right. I've even seen people claim to be experts or say they are 'studying to be a midwife'...
For the record; typing things into Google or Wikipedia is not "studying" and does not make you an "expert"... otherwise college wouldn't be so expensive.
Then there is the 'I've been there so I know better than everyone' crowd. I don't care if you had PC or GD or a colicky baby, a C-section or a beautiful candlelit home birth in your family's bathtub with violins playing while you successfully breastfed on the very first attempt. I don't care if your baby sleeps through the night, big whoop, so does mine but I don't have the audacity to tell other people they are doing something wrong if their baby wakes up throughout the night. Everyone's experience is uniquely theirs and should be treated as such. Your way is not the only way. Your experience is not universal and your decisions are not right for anyone but you. Short of child abuse and other extremes everyone has a right to gestate, labor, feed and raise their children however they wish...
You are NOT an expert on pregnancy/childbirth/parenting.
I'm sorry, but someone needed to tell you.
Don't worry, we can still be friends.
Just keep your mouth shut.
<3

***Please note this is not in response to anything that has happened on my blog. All of my followers have been amazing and supportive despite my hospital birth (Gasp!) and my inability to breastfeed (Surely, I just didn't try?! Everyone can breastfeed!!)***

After the induction... My birth story pt.2 (finally)

It's taken me forever to get this part of my birth story written. Some of it had to do with finding a diplomatic way to do so. There was quite a bit of daddy drama at the hospital after Aura was born and now that I am becoming close with Aurora's extended family I didn't think it would be appropriate for me to write about it. Even if no names were publicly mentioned it would still be obvious to them and that wouldn't be fair. On top of this, I don't want to associate any negative feelings with something so amazing and life changing. I've omitted the drama from this story in exactly the same way that I intend to eventually be able to omit it from my memory. If you missed the first half of this story, you may want to go HERE first.

After the induction I finally felt what a real contraction was like. The problem was I had no build up. I went straight from slightly uncomfortable to 'HOLY SHIT get this baby OUT' in a matter of about 10 minutes. I'm sure that contractions are pretty horrible no matter what but without a chance to even get used to the idea they were unbearable. I've always had a huge tolerance for pain, (I'm the type to super glue cuts closed) but those contractions knocked the wind out of me. Mind you, I had never even had real period cramps before so this was a totally alien feeling to me and I couldn't handle it.
So I gave up...
I got the epidural.
And you know what? I have absolutely no regrets about it. After 36 hours of no progress I was dilated and ready to push within a half an hour of being induced and my little bean was ready to go! I pushed exactly four times and she came flying out to meet the world! Right as they gave her to me the Christmas tree in Rockefeller center was lit! I looked down at this perfect little baby lying on my chest and she looked back at me like she'd been dreaming of that moment for as long as I had. She squeezed my finger and stared at me memorizing my face until the nurse took her to get weighed and measured.
I know it's a cliche but when people tell you that your life will be forever changed at that moment, they are right. It's a change you can't even prepare for... it's not about changing diapers or putting someone else first. This change is on a cellular level. I was a different person the moment I held her. When she looked up at me it was like she had known me forever and she saw no failures or heartache. My painful past didn't matter. I wasn't an artist or a bartender, a cook or a DJ... I was just her mom and that was more than enough. It was the ultimate clean slate. I was and still am all of those things, but they pale in comparison to this new grand title of mother.
My best friend and the dad came in to meet her. I ate yet another very boring turkey sandwich but I swear nothing had ever tasted better! I was brought up to my room while they cleaned and dressed my little one. I still hadn't officially given her a name but I think I always knew it would be Aurora. I just wanted to keep it to myself and sleep on it one last time before I shared it, and her, with the world.
Aurora slept most of the night by my side in her little cot while I stared at her wondering how I could've made something so perfect. When she woke I would snuggle with her and try to breastfeed but she didn't seem very interested and then we noticed she was having a little trouble breathing. She wasn't getting air through her nose so she kept pursing her lips and exhaling through them making little phhft noises. It's impossible to describe. If it wasn't so scary, I'd say it was the most adorable thing I'd ever seen. The nurses kept coming to try to suction her nose and they took xrays to make sure her lungs and sinuses were okay. She never got to latch because she couldn't breathe through her nose. I pumped and we gave her the little I could get but she was jaundice and getting worse so once a full day but had passed without her getting a substansial feeding they gave her formula in the nursery. It's the only complaint I have about the whole hospital experience really. I suppose I understand why they did it but you'd think they would've let me be the one to give it to her! They were still pretty concerned about her jaundice so they had to put her under the bilirubin lights for awhile.
Aura's little blue 'tanning booth'.
Between Aura's seemingly waning health, my post pregnancy hormones and a decent dose of drama I had a small nervous breakdown. Ok, maybe not a full-on nervous breakdown but I lost my cool, and I never do that. One of the times they took her to the nursery to check on her nose and her bilirubin levels I started to panic about her not getting better and getting down on myself for not being able to breastfeed. Before I knew it, I was in front of the nursery demanding to see her, one of the nurses came up to me and told me they had a scare because she thought Aurora was turning blue for a minute and I lost it. I ended up talking to a chaplain at the hospital for a little bit because she came in to see how I was doing and that helped. Then I proceeded to write a long letter to Aura's father and that helped even more. Maybe I just needed to let a few things out. Once my little bean was back in the room with me and they said the test results looked a little better I calmed down a lot. She had to remain under the lights for a full 24 hours but the doctors assured me that she was going to be fine. I was technically discharged but allowed to stay in my room so I could be with her (which I thought was amazing of them).
The next day we were given the all clear and we headed home to begin our little love story...
Yeah, this suit in NO way fit yet. But it was freezing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What Aurora's been eating @ 6- 9 months... Photobomb!

Aurora is nine months old now and her food adventures are full blown! We're off purees and 'baby food' entirely. And we've moved on to cut up fruits, veggies, beans, cereal puffs and toddler snacks!! Get ready for some pictures!!
A few things she's had over the last few months:

Happy Baby cereal puffs... TONS of them.
Peas!

Grapes (cut up, now she eats them whole)
Roasted pears!
Mango!!
Barley teething biscuits
Attempting her own spoon...
Almost there....
Never mind... hands are quicker!
Cheddar puffs!
A WHOLE banana!!
Black beans!
Also, for anyone who goes to a buffet or food court and sees steamed carrots as a side and wonders (like I used to) Who the heck just wants to eat steamed carrots.... well, the answer is Aurora.
Aurora wants to eat the heck out of those carrots.
Snack time at the park. Gerber puffs.
Oh yeah, and Aura also wants to eat books....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our weekend (and week): Hurricane, check-up and Children's Museum!

So as you all know, hurricane Irene made it's way up the east coast last weekend. We were luckily pretty unaffected. We never lost power and had minimal damage, just a lost gutter. However, we were cooped up in the house all weekend which was a little bit of a bummer... we made do though and Aurora didn't seem to mind terribly. Our internet service is another story. It's been unreliable to say the least ever since. Sometimes it's up and running for an hour, sometimes five minutes but for the most part it's down altogether. The cable company assures us that it's due to the storm and they are getting it fixed as soon as possible but in the meantime I haven't been able to get anything done. Tonight is the longest stretch since the storm.
Here's hoping it's fixed for good!
In other news, this week we went for Aurora's nine month check up!
I was anxious to hear how she's doing since this is the longest we've gone between appointments. When we got there they gave her a tiny johnnie and everything! It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen and she loved it for some reason. Probably due to the fact that everyone who saw her in it couldn't get enough of her!!
The pediatrician seems extremely happy with her growth, she's HUGE. Haha 20lbs, and almost 29 inches! Above the 90th percentile for everything. Can't say I was surprised at that, she eats like crazy and seems to be outgrowing clothes on a weekly basis. As far as development goes, we don't have any words yet... but she's crawling, doing a tiny bit of cruising, trying (and occasionally succeeding!) to stand up on her own for a short period of time, 'talking' a blue streak to anyone who will listen and her new favorite thing is to wave at everyone on the bus!
The Providence Children's Museum was within walking distance of the doctor's so I decided to take Aura so we could check it out. I was doubtful there would be much for her to do there since she's still so young, but I needn't have worried. She had a blast!! There were cute little rooms for her to explore that didn't have small or dangerous things in them. I think she was happy just to have a little freedom. She played with plastic potatoes and a bucket in the colonial room:
Played with velcro quilt pieces and a big velcro board in another room... I think she liked this a lot because it was sort of like the refrigerator magnets she keeps trying to get her hands on at our house!!
Then it was on to the big pirate ship!! She bee-lined 'below deck' for the pots and pans and all of the giant plastic food. For some reason she thought it was hilarious to keep banging a plastic clam on the floor:

I had to get a shot of her on the tiny bunk beds... the bowl was her idea.
As usual, strange plastic things caught her interest more than, oh say, the giant pirate ship steering wheel!! I thought she'd love it, but she just made her way over to this plastic rectangle that I'm pretty sure didn't even belong there... oh well.
We had a funny 'conversation' about this pineapple and spatula that she was trying to steal from the make-believe grocery store.
And then we found what will surely become our new favorite hangout!! It's a part in the museum for kids 4 and under called 'Little Woods'! There's a big crawl through tunnel that Aurora LOVED, and a mirror for her to play in.
There's plastic balls for her to chomp on and she even made a new friend while we were there....
Then mama found this little beaver vest and couldn't resist putting in on her for a little bit while she was crawling around.
I'm sure we'll be going there much more often, especially on rainy days. It's totally fenced in and safe and she had a great time. An hour passed without either of us noticing and I even got to talk to a few other moms which was nice! It was a pretty great day and a welcome relief from being stuck in the house all weekend.
 The weather has been amazing since the storm passed. We went to the park yesterday for a bit and Aurora played in the grass for awhile (without eating it!). We also discovered that she's learning how to take things out of a container for herself. Up until now, if I gave her anything in a bowl her reaction is to pick up the bowl and dump it. I wanted to see what would happen if I handed her the canister of puffs once there was only a couple left and sure enough, she stuck her hand right in and started munching away!

So that was our week in a nutshell! Hope everyone else affected by Irene was able to recover as easily!!

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