Reuse Your Cards!

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If you know me even a little, you know I am about as thrifty (and borderline cheap) as they come.  I also enjoy a good trend (home or otherwise), fashion, and I am possibly overly into perfecting everything.  (At least I can admit my faults!)  Because of these flaws and obsessions, and because we are a typical family with one income, I have had to find unique ways to fulfill my fetishes and non-necessities without breaking the bank.

To do this, I have learned to cut corners and scrimp on certain things.  Greeting cards are an example of this. Personally, I think cards are over-priced and wasteful.  I am not a card saver.  I am hardly a saver of anything.  Eventually, almost every card we get goes straight into the trash.  **Just to clarify, by saying “wasteful” here, I am referring to the fact that most cards will be thrown away, NOT that the thought of sending a card is a waste…**

I’ve found, though, that others like to receive cards and cherish them.  For these people, I certainly choose to buy a nice card on special occasions.

I also like to send small packages and notes during different times of the year to young family members living far away.  For these Littles, I have found that recycled cards are a cute addition to their package of fun.

To reuse received cards, I simply keep certain cards that were sent to us in past years. I like to save cards that have no writing on the front or back of the card’s cover.  These types of cards are typically neutral cards and can be used for almost anyone (depending on the holiday). I tear off the front of the card (where the picture is found), and throw the back side (where the signature is found) away.

Front of the card:  KEEP!
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When preparing the gift, I write a note on the back of the piece of the card that was saved (the front cover).

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And add it to the gift! I am mailing this parcel, but you could also insert the repurposed card into a gift bag or tape it to the top of a present.

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That is it!  Easy!

And FREE!

Because you know those Valentine’s Day cards will probably soon be headed right for the garbage!  (Unless you are reusing them like me!)

Happy thrifting!

<3

Low-Carbohydrate, Clean Eating and Diabetics

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I am so excited to share that my collaborative post with The Gracious Pantry is now on her blog! Click here or on the clip below for the details! 

Stay tuned to Our Path Less Traveled for a post coming soon, Confessions of a Dietitian!

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Behold This Beauty!

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Tonight when I put Baby #4 to bed, he gave me a very long hug.  He doesn’t hug that much anymore.  You see, he has faucets to find, dogs to bother, cabinets to clean out, and laundry to scatter.  He MIGHT play with toys if he feels like it, for sure if somebody plays with him, but he really prefers the everyday sort of fun.  As I held him by his crib, I realized that his babyness was almost gone.  I began to reminisce back to last year when Baby #4 would cuddle more.  I had forgotten how I miss that and his little baby ways.  I miss his bottle.  At least he still has his diaper… ;)

As with my others, I occasionally forget who I am holding and caring for daily.  My job can be somewhat monotonous, especially lately.  With Baby #4’s slower development; he has been baby-like for

sooo

long.

I guess I didn’t realize that he was growing out of this stage.

Sometimes I just look at him, you know lovingly, like mothers do when their children are being peaceful.  With my others, I look for familial characteristics.  I do that with Baby #4 too; he reminds me a lot of his birth mom, but I also like admiring his unique features.  For example, he has cute spaces between his first and second toes, a little nose, and tiny hands.  I love how he looks.  Lately, I’ve been noticing that others are starting to recognize his features of Down syndrome too, but not in an appreciative sort of way.  If he is loudly shouting in a store, I often get looks of pity.  There are the quick glances our way and uncomfortable stares.

I wish those that peer at Baby #4 could see past his appearance.  Afterall, he IS quite cute.  His behavior, too, is similar to that of most other almost-two-year-olds.  If any of these people would actually talk to him, they’d find that he is pretty friendly.  In fact, it is likely that he may have been shouting at them…or at me, because he hates shopping… He’s really just a typical kid; he’s not THAT much different.

I suppose I could nonchalantly follow these gawkers through the store, strike up a conversation, and get Baby #4 to wave or something.  One day, if I am feeling brave, I may ask why he is making them feel uneasy.  I want to know if their obvious opinion of him is based only on his looks, his Down syndrome.

For now, though, I just walk away.  I probably walk a little faster.  I try to distract Baby #4.  I give him something to hold.  I am not really sure how I am supposed to handle situations such as these yet.

Maybe most people will someday see Baby #4’s potential or find him funny, like we do.  They might even enjoy his company.  I hope they become his friends.

If they never are lucky enough to spend time with him, however, I will still know who I was holding tonight.  A little boy.  Mr. Silly-Face.  A fan of mealtime.  He is out-going and sociable, smart and stubborn.  A patient soul.  A laugh replicator.

Even though I, too, see the many features of Down syndrome in my son, I notice more ALL the other things that make him who he is.  I see a future.  I see success.

I don’t see all this ‘difference’.

I see Baby #4.

I love what I see, but YOU don’t have to.  Booyah.

Maybe I’ll say just that!

OPLTBB

*A version of this post has been featured on The Mighty.

Resolutions Update and Some EXCITING News!

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Not that any of you care, but I wanted to follow-up on my post from last January regarding my New Year’s Resolutions.

My main goals from last year were:

  1. Regular devotions with our kids.  Although not quite as consistent as I would have preferred, we did enjoy somewhat regular devotions as a family and individually.  We are also teaching the kids to pray alone, out loud at mealtime.  Voluntarily, Baby #1 has started to read the Bible on his own.  Last I checked, he was on page 118.
  2. Consistent physical activity.  Thanks to some GREAT friends, I was quite successful in this area.  Although our move, and everything that goes along with that, did take a toll on me for a little while; I am now back at it.  I have some specific goals for this year; however, I do not plan to elaborate on them at this time.  Maybe I will fill you in in a future post!
  3. Relaxing on the home front.  Yes!  I was also successful in this area!  Our family had an extrordinary 2014 filled with friends, fun, and change! Amazingly, I stayed pretty sane for most of it! ;)
  4. Menus.  FAIL.  Not sure if this is my thing…or maybe I just did too much of this in past occupations.  Honestly, I never even started this goal.  I do think menus would be helpful, though, so it is possible that I will reconsider putting something together in the future.  I have some exciting related news, however!  Recently, I have agreed to help The Gracious Pantry with a blog post regarding lower-carbohydrate, clean-eating information for diabetics.  I started following The Gracious Pantry on Facebook about four years ago when our family completely overhauled our lifestyle (more on this soon).  If you are interested in this topic, please stay-tuned, or at least check out her web-site for recipe ideas!  I will occasionally share some of her concoctions on here, as well as write some nutrition-related posts!  I am so looking forward to this new partnership, and using my degrees again!

As for my resolutions for this year…I will keep them simple.

  1. Maintain/Improve on the resolution successes from last year.
  2. Make new friends and form new relationships in our new location.
  3. Continue to promote acceptance and information concerning those with Down syndrome via this blog and elsewhere.
  4. Keep up with regular blogging!

Are you ready for more Our Path Less Traveled this year?  I hope so!  Here’s to a great year for All!

Happy New Year!

#IMREADY #15in2015

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It’s possible you’ve noticed a little campaign using the hashtags #IMREADY and #15in2015 spreading over social media this past holiday season, but do you know what the hashtags are about?

After a little girl with Down syndrome was featured in a Target ad this past December, parents all over the world noticed.  Some, including Changing the Face of Beauty, have created the campaign #IMREADY and #15in2015 in order to encourage at least 15 retailers to feature ALL customers in their advertising, including those with differing abilities.

If you would like to support this campaign by sharing a photo of your child, please visit Changing the Face of Beauty‘s facebook page to join the movement. Feel free to post a photo (please get permission if this is not your child or personal photography), and call out a retailer of your choice requesting more inclusive advertisement while embodying the hashtags #IMREADY and #15in2015 in your post.  FIVE companies (Infantino, Livie and Luca, Andy and Evan, Matilda Jane Clothing, and Teryelle Girls) have already noticed and have been influenced by this campaign enough that they have decided to integrate models with differing abilities in 2015!

Our Little, Baby #4, is also ready!

#IMREADY #15in2015

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Are you?

Please feel free to share this post! Together we can inclusively broaden the face of BEAUTY!

Click here to see others READY for change and acceptance!  You might notice a familiar face!  :)

Thank you for your support!

<3

15 Ideas For a No-Santa Christmas

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Since this is the first year we haven’t celebrated Santa, my kids and I aren’t quite in the groove to responding to comments from every clerk, old lady passing by, or teacher when they ask, “What is Santa bringing you this year?” Or, “Are you ready for Santa?” In fact, we have gotten pretty good at ignoring the questions and/or smiling. I happen to believe most people know the real meaning of Christmas, so I choose not to come off as berating some by explaining why we do not celebrate. I am also aware that not celebrating Santa’s appearance may seem taboo to others, so I prefer to avoid the topic all together in situations like these. Maybe one day, I’ll come out with our antics to these strangers…or maybe not.

It has been kind of fun avoiding the facade that is Santa this year. We have actually had great discussions about other things unrelated to Santa; Baby #2 wanted to know exactly how old Jesus is on Christmas. We have also conversed about things we want to do as a family over break. Baby #2 made her very own list of things she hopes her Christmas to include…

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I especially like #15, make dogs fansy Christmas. (She plans to dress up the dogs for the holiday.)

Many of our family’s ideas (that we’ve listed below) are things we’ve done for some time, however it is apparent that their meanings are increasingly important now that Santa is out of the picture. So, in case you are also new to a NO-Santa Christmas, here are the 15 things we plan to do to make our holiday special and stay true to its steadfast meaning:

  1. Decorate a Christmas tree. Yes, I realize that this is essentially a pagan tradition; however our family finds much meaning and excitement in decorating a tree yearly. Each year after Thanksgiving, we dig out our Christmas tree and play Christmas music while it is erected. (Being the cheap skate that I am, I am not a fan of a real tree; especially since our tree is gorgeous and was only $30 on sale many years ago…and I don’t have to deal with the needles or its disposal.) Once it is put up, each child has a box of ornaments accumulated over the years since their birth that they use to adorn our tree with. Some of the ornaments are from family or friends, some are of their own creation, and some are ornaments that we have chosen together (most likely at a post-Christmas clearance sale). Regardless, decorating a tree yearly is always something that we all look forward to, and when we get to reflect back on other times.
  2. Put up stockings. In an effort to begin a new holiday tradition, this is the first year we have done this. We plan to add movie passes to each of them, however if you have other useful or unique ideas for future stockings, please advise! (Keep in mind, I am not a fan of junk food or filling them with useless toys that will be discarded in a day.) I am hoping it will be a hit such that movie passes in the stockings will be something they look forward to yearly.
  3. Read Advent scripture passages nightly. Here is the one that we use.
  4. Set up a navity scene. We’ve been using a Little People Navity Set for the longest time…it’s durable and appropriate for all ages! As a game this year, we plan to hide the set’s Three Wise Men on Christmas Eve. The child who finds all of them first will get to start the gift opening.
  5. Track Christmas by an Advent Calendar. Our Advent calendar is a reusable one with an attached faux candy cane that the kids move from day to day.
  6. Bake cookies. This year, the kids have picked out the cookies that they want to help bake. We are baking gingerbread men, frosted sugar cookies, and puppy chow.
  7. Bake Jesus’s birthday cake on Christmas Day. I cannot tell you how excited the kids are about this! Since we no longer recognize Santa, Jesus’s birthday is a hot topic here!
  8. Encourage gift buying for others. This year our children picked out gifts for kids less fortunate. They also were given a certain amount each to purchase gifts for each other. We too colored Christmas cards for the residents of a local nursing home.
  9. Participate in a church Christmas program. This is probably my favorite part of the holiday, as it is usually sooo cute! :)
  10. Make a special meal for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. To make holiday mealtime more special for our kids, I found at a thrift store a while back mini wine glasses that we fill with “wine juice” (some sort of sparkling juice). Our kids think this is super fun!
  11. Read Christmas books! Ours are brought out only at Christmastime!
  12. Listen and sing to Christmas music!
  13. Watch Christmas movies! We sometimes like to enjoy our movies with a bowl of popcorn and a cup of hot chocolate!
  14. Have a slumber party! My kids LOVE for all of us to sleep in the same room together. Baby #2 would prefer that I be her nightly roomie, so it is high on her list to do a family sleepover at least one night during their Christmas break.
  15. Check out your local Christmas light displays!

Getting rid of Santa’s celebration has helped our family focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the importance of serving others, and the significance and joy in spending time together over the holiday. Its removal has also taken the high expectations and material focus away from my children’s assumptions, and instead has begun to instill in their hearts Christmas’s true meanings…Jesus, Family, and Giving.

And…they are STILL excited about Christmas!

<3

Out With the Old DISHES!

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And so it’s yet another night writing alongside my hard-working husband…You may be getting sick of me, but I am kind of enjoying my time at the computer lately.  :)  I’ve had this little piece saved for quite a while now (since before our latest move), and thought I should finally finish it once and for all! Let’s talk dishes!

Dishes are something I am just NOT into. I mean, I LOVE how they look when OTHER people use their fancy printed ones alongside their beautifully coordinated place settings; they’re just not for me. For one, I can never decide on a print OR a color.  I just can’t commit to a look I may be stuck with for quite a few years.

Plus, they chip.  Like right away.  Pretty sure I have chipped some coming straight out of the NEW box.  And if you are like our family, you will break some…or many…and you’ll end up with a couple mismatched sets in your cabinet.  And this takes up A LOT of space.

I’ve been kind of sick of my chipped dishes for a while. For the longest time we were using a set my parents purchased for us at an auction. When they chipped, my husband bought me a red set for my birthday. They looked really nice until we actually started using them. Needless to say, they’ve been chipped forever; I just haven’t had the desire to spend money on new ones doomed to the ill fate of <gasp> daily usage.

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That was until I came across Clean Planetware

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Clean Planetware offers stainless steel dishes and storage containers made from high grade steel that is BPA, toxin, lead, and lining free; these are things that may be concerning to parents of young children, those inclined to live more simply, and those troubled by the health detriments associated with the use of these items.   Personally, I share in these concerns. I also particularly like that I am not only able to utilize the dishes for daily use, but that they are also versatile enough for our stove or toaster oven. (We rarely use our microwave, but if you do, DO NOT put them in the microwave!  You could possibly start a fire!  The dishes ARE dishwasher safe, however.)

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Additionally, since stainless steel does not break or rust, these are promised to last a lifetime.  No more chipped or broken plates or cups at this house (or in the trash)…and the BEST and most surprising aspect of our switch, you may ask?? These dishes take up considerably less space in our cabinet.

Before…a cramped cabinet.

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After…a cabinet with much more room.  I even moved items from other spaces into this same spot!

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AND, I will NEVER have to buy dishes AGAIN!

The downfalls…

  • These dishes tend to get really hot, really fast, so we wait for food to cool slightly before serving it on these plates to our kids.
  • My husband says that he feels like he is eating in prison now.  But that feeling will wear off…Right?!  Because my food has got to be WAAAYY better than that!

:)

**I received no compensation for this product’s review.**

Family Photos! (Oops, It’s a Video!)

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Of course Baby #4 would start doing this AFTER I wrote about his milestones last week! We are so excited that he may be WALKING soon!

**Please ignore the loud, bossy, and annoying voice in the background! It’s really NOT me! ;) **

Happy Video Friday!

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