This week I found out that house sorting was back up on the PotterMore site. Listen closely. Do you hear that cheer? Harry Potter fans all over the world are clinking their Butterbeer.
Have you been sorted yet?
The sorting - done by a series of questions - is eerily accurate. So imagine my surprise when two people I love were sorted into Slytherin. SLYTHERIN. That’s right. The house of Lord Voldemort. Malfoy. Bellatrix. So naturally I found myself second guessing them as any sane person would do.
Are they really trustworthy?
Maybe they aren’t the people I thought they were.
Should I watch my back!?
But because I'm a Ravenclaw (right?!) I decided to do some research before I kicked them to the curb. After all, we had years of friendship under our belts. They deserved that at least!
Do you know what? Turns out House Slytherin is not all bad.
Let me explain:
Top 5 Reasons Slytherin Is Great
Now, you could say that people who like to flirt with the Dark Side like Slytherin, but then you could also say that braggarts like Gryffindor, stuck-up academics who back-stab for the highest marks like Ravenclaw, and the rest of the dregs like Hufflepuff. Boo hiss.
Which leads me to the greatest thing I realized in rethinking Slytherin:
Lumping people into groups can be dangerous for your heart.
As soon as you label a group you stop being mindful in the moment to an individual, a situation, or your intuition.
For example, if you met Draco Malfoy in the corridor near Sir Cadogan you might have the urge to step aside and let him pass. Unless he is your friend, in which case you would give him a big hug. (Um, does Malfoy like hugs?)
If you met Ron Weasley in the Great Hall and he was in a bad mood (angry at Hermione, perhaps?) you might give him and his scowl a wide berth, regardless of his Gryffindor status.
The point is, as soon as you lump people into a group and label that group “bad” you may be stepping out of love. As soon as you lump people into a group and label that group “good” (and you keep going with that assumption no matter what is presented to you) you may be stepping out of your intuition.
I knew this, but I forgot.
Those people I love who are in Slytherin...they actually do fit into the "edgiest group in Hogwarts". They do garner respect with a hint of fear. They do have that hard-to-define thing called “greatness” about them. And they are people I have known for years whom I trust and adore.
While it's true you don't see any nice Slytherins in the books (maybe Professor Slughorn?) that doesn't mean they don't exist. I am almost embarrassed to admit I had never thought of that before. But not as much as I am excited to realize I'm a Slytherin fan!
It feels so good to love everybody!
P.S. I saw this video this week and it really moved me. It's about labels just like this post is. Only there is no Harry Potter in it. Except it's still amazing.
All you have to do is watch one parent chase a toddler through a supermarket to know that parenting can be hard. But how hard is it? And why do people have kids? Some even more than one?
This is the best blog post I have ever read on the subject.
It also might help you on a hard day. ❤️
(Warning: the post contains swear words.)
Don't you just love that word "secrets"? Say it with a nice He Who Must Not Be Named whispy whisper. Seeeeeeeecrets.
Ok, I don't know if these are secrets or not, but in November 2014 my family went to Harry Potter World at Universal in Florida and being the geek I am I scoured the interwebs for all the secret things to see and do. Then I saw them and did them!
Then I came home and forgot to save the links I found.
Then my friend on just asked on Facebook for tips because she is going to Harry Potter World.
Then I wrote a zillion posts on her thread today as I remembered secret things to see and do at Harry Potter World.
Then I decided to write cut and paste that stuff I wrote here for future reference for me and for all of my geeky friends.
Here they are:
Bonus 10 More Things
And stuff I just saw from an article that wasn't on my list and seven of these things I didn't see when I was there. It's settled. I HAVE TO GO BACK.
In dreams, we enter a world that’s entirely our own.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Alkaban
- Quote by Albus Dumbledore
Have a fantastic time!
My midwife told me to get this — and use it, darnit — for my birth with her. It was my second child so I knew already what life was like folding diapers back over a healing umbilical cord for weeks. Ug.
The cord healed easily. It stayed dry. And it was all done in a little over a week. A week!
It was just as awesome with my third child.
No one outside the crunchy birthers knows about this so I have gifted it to pregnant women I know.
It's goldenseal power.
Buy it from HerbLore.com because you want a clean, real source and the Herb Lore lady used to live in the Bay Area and is friends with my discerning, real life friend and doula. My midwife also uses Herb Lore.
Here is a link.
I never had the baby wipes warmer for my first two kids. It looked like high-maintenance excess. But someone gave me their hand-me-down one for my third child and at one point in the middle of the night I thought "maybe this would keep him from waking up so much when I change his diaper". (You change a LOT of diapers all day all night those first few months.)
It. Was. Awesome.
Yes, you have to have a plug handy and a cord to deal with. Yes, you have to stock it yourself. But OMGosh when baby goes back to bed more easily it's a keeper.
We stopped using it that first year for sure. It's newborn gear for sure but put it on your baby shower list if you ask me.
What should kids learn?
I feel much the same way he does except he has more anger and better hair. :)
Winter Coat? Bah. I've Got Something Even Better.
OMgosh I have just discovered the most amazing thing to wear in cold weather if you have a baby or toddler EVER. Before I tell you what it is I must warn you. It's not conventional. (No mall purchase here.) If you wear it you are going to have to get your fun-face on. And people are going to want to talk to you and ask you about it. But honestly, once you try it on in the biting wind you are never going back.
Are you ready?
Really, really ready?
Super-duper - OK OK!
It's a cloak.
That's right. A full-on, button around your neck, flowing down to your ankles, got-a-hood-on-it fantasy fiction cloak.
I wore mine today in the biting wind with my 13 month old baby boy. I felt like a super-hero. I was impervious to cold because my legs were warm, my butt was covered when I sat down on the metal benches, and my arms were still near my body where I generated heat. Plus, I could throw it over my shoulder and pose. (A must in any park-day situation.)
But enough about me. When I picked up my 13 month old I could prop him on one hip, wrap one half of the cloak around him and then cover him up in the front with the other half. This kept his dangling legs and little hands out of the cold. (Can you keep mittens on a baby? If you can, tell me how!) Why don't I use a blanket? I have tried blankets but they never stay on. (Can you keep a blanket on a baby you are carrying? If you can, tell me how!) The cloak, since it was buttoned around my neck and flowing so magnificently over my stoic shoulders in an iconic display of awesomeness, stayed on both of us, even while I tossed that 20 lb. bag of rice for distance. (I did. Woot!)
Nursing? Bottle feeding? Time for a little snuggle? No problem! When you sit down you have a lot of fabric to wrap around the baby and you. Fabric that does not fall off onto the dirty, muddy ground or cursed wood chips that cling.
I tell you the list of pluses is endless including - but not limited to - your friend saying in an awed whisper, "I feel like I'm walking behind a Jedi".
Yes, yes, you are.
"Where can I get my cloak?" you ask?
I got mine from a year-round costume store but you can get a cloak on Amazon. It doesn't even have to be fancy - mine is just a thin polyester brown. Cloaks come in all sorts of fabrics. Velvet and wool and cotton and more. Get a faux-fur-lined one. Sing "Let It Go" in the snow. Go crazy. But above all, be warm. You're welcome.
And now you have the song stuck in your head. You're welcome.
It's been 10 years since I had my first child and OMGosh they have invented such amazing stuff since then!
Some of my friends are having babies. They asked me what I like for my latest baby (born in 2013). Here is my list:
Amazing things. They are the right size with armrests to nurse or feed a baby, and they rock so smoothly without squishing little toes.
Even if you bottle feed the nursing stool is awesome for propping your legs a bit while you hold a baby for a long time in a gilder rocker. I didn't have one for my first two kids and now that I do have one I have said "What was I thinking?! They are so worth it!"
Newborns are tiny things, squishy and all curled up. Their heads flop around. How are you going to wear them? I adore my Moby Wrap until the baby is at least 5 months old. Do not get a color just to match your baby's gender. Get a color you would wear if it were a shirt. Once you put this thing on you will wear it all day like a shirt. If you are having a hard time putting it on take my advice: let the ends drag on the ground. They won't touch the baby anyway once it's on you. Also, be VERY CAREFUL with slings. You have to make sure the baby's head is not chin-to-chest or they can't breathe. This hard to do with a newborn in a sling and I DO NOT recommend slings for newborns. Keep your baby's head high enough that you can kiss it. The Moby Wrap does this.
Ergobaby Carrier or something like it
Once the baby is big enough I use an ErgoBaby Carrier or some carrier where they baby's hips are positioned wide and above their knees (NOT a Bjorn). A carrier that rests on my hips as well is awesome.
Baby Scratch Mittens
Yes, it's important for the baby to be able to suck on their hands. Yes, you should keep their nails trimmed anyway. But even this third-time mom has a bear of a time keeping her newborn from scratching her nipple while she's trying to learn how to latch again. Get the mittens for you until you get the hang of it.
Emery Boards Before Nail Clippers
Newborn nails grow fast but they are also soft. Their fingers are too small for nail clippers, even the safety ones. A cut finger is too easy and can get infected so just use your mouth to chew the nail or use an emery board while they are sleeping or feeding to soften and file them down. Easy peasy. Nail clippers are for later.
Aden + Anais Blankets
I have baby blankets a friend used with her son who is now 16. They are bigger than those useless receiving blankets you get in a pack at Target and I saved them because they were the only thing I could swaddle my baby in. This time around a friend gave me some Aden + Anais blankets and I am hooked! I bought more. They are THE BEST. Get the 47 x 47 inch ones (make sure of this size because they brand different blankets for different stores) and opt for cotton NOT the bamboo which are not really bamboo but rayon which is chemical made. Plus the cotton ones have a better grip and babies are squirmy. Yes they cost money. Buy them anyway.
I never had a swing until this last baby. Either we were broke or we had no room for one or both and I just didn't bother with it. My Sister-In-Law dropped off hers last year so I could use it and now I wonder what the heck I did without it. See TroublesomeTots.com for info on how the swing can be your new bestie. It's a terrible name because the website is sweet and the woman is caring and I wish I had read it ten years ago. I don't think it really matters what swing you get but I have heard rumors there is at least one that comes with a plug as well as battery options. I would get one with a plug if I had to buy one.
I love picking out strollers. Personally, I'm a Graco gal. This time around I could have spent $1,000 on one and I still went with the Graco click connect system. My favorite test is to push it around the store one-handed. If I can't one-hand a stroller it's out.
Try to park in a tight parking lot, open the back door of a SUV or sedan and get your baby or infant carseat out. Sliding doors ROCK.
My midwife suggested we blow dry the baby's butt to keep down diaper rash. This is yet another something I wish I had known with the first kids. Get one with a "cold shot" button so you don't burn a bum.
One more thing I thought was silly or just excess that I didn't bother with until this time around when someone handed me down one. OMgosh these things are the best. Baby doesn't howl now in the night because, um, wouldn't you if you were half-asleep and someone took an ice-cold something to your bottom? Shocking.
Even if you get a My Brest Friend, get a boppy. I didn't have one for my first two kids, this time I splurged and yet again I wonder what I did without it.
My Brest Friend
If you nurse, a My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. Especially if you are a first-time mom. Get a Boppy as well, but definitely get thisl. I think for new nursing moms it's critical. For bottle babies it's unnecessary.
Smartphone or iPod with Wifi
You will spend a lot of hours rocking, feeding, nursing, holding, being with a newborn. It's nice to not go crazy lonely as well. With Facebook and texting and email you can still be connected to other adults even if you can't talk on the phone. These things did not exist with my first two kids like they do now and I attribute having an iPhone as a HUGE factor in my current happiness. I'm not alone! Yay! Plus, they have really awesome apps like feed timers and sleep timers and baby apps. And you can use it as a flashlight at night. And download white noise onto it to play. The list is endless. Of course you can use a tablet or iPad , but you can't hold an iPad in one hand while you carry a baby, not even the mini.
Along those lines, trips to the bookstore are not so easy now. Find a way to download and read books. Since my eyes strain reading books on a computer or tablet I have a Kindle with no backlight. It's as great as reading a book and I can download new books from my glider rocker.
White noise is your friend. Use it.
Black Out Curtains
One more thing I didn't bother with until this baby and WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!!
Even in my small house it's nice to have another place to put down the baby so I can pull something out of the oven. You can get a traditional bassinet or you can get a playpen with a bassinet feature.
Changing Diaper Situation
Whether it's a changing table or a bassinet or a dedicated top of a desk with a changing pad on it like I'm using, a dedicated diaper changing place that doesn't require you to bend over too much is awesome. You will be changing a lot of diapers.
Organic Crib Mattress
Get an organic mattress with no off-gassing otherwise your baby is breathing in the chemicals they put in mattresses all night long.
Amazon Prime Membership
Delivery is your friend. Use it.
You will have a much nicer year if you have a cleaning service that comes every two weeks. Trust me. Imagine never having to clean that tub or scrub those floors again! :)
I had one with all of my kids. They hit about 6 weeks old and I'm like, "Where do I put them? They don't want to lie down and they can't sit up!" My son adores his bouncy chair. He laughs and coos and plays with his monkey friends on it for at least ten minutes. "Ten minutes?" you exclaim. "Is it worth it?" Oh heck yes. But only if you want to eat your dinner.
If they take one or not it's really up to them. Every kid is different. But that night when they want to get some gas out and they can't eat anymore and they want to suck to relieve their anxiety and either your body or your pinkie finger are worn out you will be glad you have one. Make sure you boil it for 5 minutes before you use it for the first time and of course, let it cool off and squeeze it before you give it to the little one since a really hot bubble could be hiding inside it just waiting to get sucked into a mouth. Ouch.
Boudreaux's Butt Paste
I use the natural version. It's the best diaper cream I've used in all my ten years of butts and diapers.
Sunday Afternoons Sun Hat
The. Best. Sun. Hat. Ever. For babies, for toddlers, for kids, and even for me. We all have them.
OK, not really needed for a baby, but if your kid won't poop in the toilet someday even though you know they can, try it. Kids are smart even if they can't articulate it. Sitting to poop is hard work and doesn't ever complete the job compared to standing or kneeling to use a pull-up. Let them squat over the toilet on a platform instead and be amazed.
Earthing Sheets or Throw Blanket
Earthing totally calms people and babies down. Since you may not be outside for quite some time, you can emulate the healing and soothing benefits of connecting with the Earth indoors. It's anti-inflammatory and stuff so do your research before you employ it if you are on blood medication.
If you are nursing you have some. If you are not nursing see if you can get yourself some. If your baby has acne, breast milk will clear it up. Cradle cap? Breast milk will clear it up. Diaper rash? Breast milk will clear it up. Pink eye? Yep. Breast milk. Basically just bathe your child in breast milk and all is well.
Before your baby is born get goldenseal and some Q-tips. Put it on your newborn's umbilical cord stump every time you change their diaper and it will dry up and fall off in a week vs. the usual weeks. SO AWESOME. Make sure you use Q-tips and don't double-dip to keep the powder clean. Make sure you don't get it in their face. P.S. The link to HerbLore.com is important. Keep it. My doula friend knows this woman personally. Her products are authentic. My midwife uses them. She rocks. Etc.
Because you can't put a onesie over that umbilical cord stump.
Footy Pajamas In Every Size
Babies usually grow out of their footy pajamas in the middle of the night. It's helpful to always have the next size up clean and handy to put on in a flash. Just sayin'.
Sounds obvious, but I forgot about it this time until I had to go out. Get one you like since it's like an extra purse.
For you. I'm partial to Dansko clogs and even Crocs. Yes, I said it. When you have a baby and you need to step outside for a moment you don't want to have to figure out how to bend over and tie your shoes.
Slippers You Adore
Because you will wear them a lot. A lot.
Extra Contact Lenses
Stock up before your prescription runs out. Going to the eye doctor with a baby can be skipped for a long time. Yay!
Got Someone Who Wants To Spend A Fortune On Your Wee One?
There are only so many outfits your newborn or baby needs. Soon, however, they will need or you will want:
If you can't stop someone from spending on you, you can direct the flow away from mounds of space-consuming stuffed animals and plastic toys. Woot!
Saw this video on Facebook today. Love it. Any short video that illustrates so well something that makes me a better parent by being a better person is my favorite.
As an empath (someone who really feels or senses other people's emotions) the practice of empathy has been a road of self discipline for me. If I am not centered in myself I can go adrift instantly in other people's crappy, dark waters. Meditation and daily Law of Attraction stuff has anchored me in myself enough to practice empathy now. I weep with relief and gratitude that I can, otherwise I would still be a nagging goat.
Reasons I have tried to "be sympathetic":
… or, as Nancy Tappe told me once "someone who thinks that if she just keeps taking she can talk the problem to death". So true it makes laugh.
That's My Freedom You Are Stepping On!
Arg! You need me and I'm on the phone or trying to get on the phone or to just have a minute of quiet. Seriously. Stop it.
We are in public or at a play date. You are revealing how crappy I am as a parent. I'm mortified. And I'm trying to talk to this mom over here. Freedom, eh?
Your crying scares me. What if I'm totally screwing you up for life in ways I can't comprehend, even in my darkest fears, which always involve therapy or you not wanting me to visit for Christmas because I suck.
Your Hurt Hurts Me
I can't handle this. It hurts be so bad to see you hurt I have to stop you to protect myself. <insert primal wail here>
I'm way better now but I'm human and these trip me up still so I will watch this video from time to time and laugh at myself when I realize I'm an old goat, annoying or alienating or not helping my kids by telling them "at least" or by clicking my tongue while I try to placate them with the Paleo version of a sandwich.
Let's face it, not every moment of parenting is a dream come true. There are moments, or even days, (weeks?) of intense boredom, frustration or relentless thankless tasks. Can you say "wiping someone's butt", anyone? And
how about that Elmo?
So... what is a parent to do?
Blame the kid, of course!
No! That would be silly. Although sometimes resentment can creep in, and it's not pretty. Natural, yes. Understandable, yes, but just not pretty. It leads to yelling and controlling and shaming and all sorts of parenting bullying. Waaaa.
One day while I was doing the dishes (again) I must have been thinking about the relentless boredom or repetitive tasks of being a stay-at-home-mom when I had an epiphany:
I felt like this before I had kids, too.
It wasn't hard to recall when.
The list goes on and on.
Every age of my life, every stage of my experience has had its own level of boredom, frustration, clock-watching, and emotional challenges. Parenting is no different. It makes no sense to blame my children or my parenting life for how I am feeling - these feelings are universal and they would continue whether I had kids or not, even if I stopped being a stay-at-home-parent and got a job, ran away and joined the circus, or hid under the covers.
Seriously, how many hours did I waste before I had kids?
I had no idea how much free time I had. How much it was a luxory to get in the car when I wanted to, play the music I wanted to play and stay out as late as the party raged. Instead I was in angst over some boy, feeling insecure about my outfit, fretting over a fight with my friend or wondering if I put money in my account or if I would bounce that check. Again. Oops.
My life at home growing up. My time in school. My time in college and grad school. My jobs in my 20's. They all had their share of ick without kids. Without Elmo. Without having to wipe someone's butt.
How many hours have I wasted since I've had kids?
Hours I could have spent coloring unicorns purple and laughing with my children instead of being in angst over the mess, feeling insecure about my choices, fretting over the way I handled something or wondering if I put money in my account or if I would bounce that check. Again. Oh wait, that's why my husband does the banking. Thank you, honey.
I smiled that day, looking out of the window over my daily dishes. Parenting wasn't hard after all, I realized. It was just life. Having a toddler, having a baby, having a child or two or three didn't make my life hard... I was the only one who could make my life hard. I get to choose my thoughts, after all.
What was I thinking?
I can either resent the dishes or be thankful I have a home to do dishes in. I can either be frustrated my toddler won't sit still so I can buckle their car seat or I can laugh and tickle them and enjoy the fact that I have a toddler. An amazing, precious, incredible little human I adore with all my life. "Yes, honey, I know, I don't want to go grocery shopping, either. Let's make it a game instead!"
Right now I have a newborn. I am carrying him around in my Moby Wrap baby carrier and my back hurts. I have to type this standing up. If I sit down he wakes up and fusses. I want to sit down. I crave sitting down. I could, right this very second, get envious and cranky at my husband who is sitting down, or at my newborn who won't just sleep like a grown person except for my secret weapon: Algebra class.
It puts it all in perspective.
Now I look down and smile. I have a newborn. A child I wanted for years, healthy and happy and sleeping peacefully. I can feel his little chest breathing against me. I can hear his cute little newborn snuffles. If he weren't here I could still find something to make me cranky but are you kidding me? I don't want him not here. He has blessed me already beyond imagining. I will carry him gladly. And I will look forward to sitting down.
Life is good.
I am happy again.
And hey, it seems my high school teacher was right after all and Algebra is useful. A+, Mr. Wright. A+.
I'm super spiritual. I'm a total geek. I do improv. Then I became a mom.