Bringing Information and Resources to Houston is an amazing event held each year to educate pregnant women and families in a free, fun, and exciting way!  As you arrive, you receive a free goodie bag with pamphlets, coupons, and freebies.  Next, you must decide which of the speaker sessions you'd like to attend.  There are multiple rooms where a variety of informational lectures/talks/demonstrations/films take place.  You can learn about nutrition, education, babywearing, breastfeeding, health concerns, and so much more!  

Then there are the vendors!! So many wonderful vendors come from all over Houston and the surrounding areas to offer their services.  Some vendors have supplies you can buy right at their booths, others offer discounts for when you visit their store later.  Many vendors have freebies, giveaways and raffles, and baby stuff for you to try out.  I'll be honest - the vendors are personally my favorite part of the B.I.R.T.H. fair ;-)

At Noon, we celebrate the physicians in the community who help support healthier mother & baby maternity care.  Following the awards, there is a fashion show!  The models are families from the community wearing clothing from various local stores as well as cloth diaper apparel and sometimes babywearing gear.  The children have such a great time being a part of the fashion show!  You can tell they know they're doing something very important!

Oh, and did I mention that all of the B.I.R.T.H. Fair events are FREE!?!  Yup!  100% FREE!!  So if you are pregnant, new mama, old mama, small family, large family, or even just thinking about having a family, this fair is for YOU!  Come out and meet the members in your birthing community!  It is a wonderful time to find the support you need for your pregnancy, babies, and children of all ages!  Also, don't forget to stop by and see me at the Music Garden booth - I'll be helping out there this year!

Click here for a detailed list of the Special Speaker Sessions: diapers, dads, & doulas, vaccines & VBACs, waterbirth, healthcare options, postpartum disorders, & education...there is something for everyone!

Babywearing

"Got a babywearing breakdown? Come by the BIRTH Fair's Sling Station, open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, October 6, 2012. Local babywearing "technicians" will provide free, one-on-one baby carrier advice and tune-ups. Improve the fit of your existing carrier, learn a new technique or carry, get a recommendation, or ask a question!

New to babywearing? Please join Angelique Geehan and Mary Puryear Potee at 11 a.m. for "Baby Carriers and Slings 101." This orientation will cover the benefits of using cloth slings, major types of carriers, how to select a good carrier for your family (including basic safety points), and where to find help as your family's babywearing needs change.

Please feel free to spread the word!" -  from my friend's Facebook page :-)

Extras! - This is a 3 day event!

Special Speakers Series

Friday, October 5, 2012

United Way - 50 Waugh Dr. - Houston

9:00 am to 12:00 pm - CPR - FREE - register at actco23@yahoo.com 
9:00 am to 9:45 am - Circumcision
9:45 am to 10:30 am - Placenta Encapsulation
10:30 am to 11:15 am - Abdominal Scar healing
11:15 am to 12:00 pm - Acupuncture


Sunday, October 7, 2012 
Haven Center
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church - 1827 W. Alabama

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm - Birth Trauma & Your Baby's Brain - Pauline Dillard
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm - The Birth of a Father - Patrick Houser
 
 
Riley & I have been exploring Midland and Odessa these last couple of weeks. We have visited the Midland Library, the Sibley Nature Center, the Petroleum Museum, the Museum of the Southwest: the Children's Museum, the Odessa Meteor Crater, & the Midland County Fair.  
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Checking out the pump jacks up close at the Petroleum Museum.
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Digging up dinosaurs at the Children's Museum.
The weather in Midland has been in the 60s/70s morning & evening, reaching a high in the 90s during the afternoon.  It is dry, slightly windy, and once in a while...a thunderstorm rolls in, bringing a bit of rain with it.  This makes for great weather to play outside in the mornings and take family walks together in the evenings.
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Riley showing me how he can climb up the rope ladder all by himself!
Since most of our belongings are in storage, we've had to get creative playing in the apartment when we stay home.  We found a great sensory activity idea on Pinterest.  Use popcorn kernels, rice, or beans in a flat pan as a substrate for digging with construction vehicles - Riley loved it!   
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Click on the photo to find the link for more indoor activities!
Riley's had an increased interest in letters and words lately so we also spend a lot of our time reading alphabet books and making letters out of various things.  Our words have been made out of things including his wooden toy snake, food, colored pencils, & pipe cleaners.  The best part is that he initiates all of the letter-making.  He'll show me an S or a P, then ask me to start spelling things for him.  He is also reading the letters & numbers on signs, cars, trucks, & various other things and asking me what they say.  I found a great app for my phone that Riley can practice tracing letters and numbers.  Check out this app and other ABC/123 games here: Tracing ABC, Kids ABC Letters, Kids Connect the Dots.
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Pipe cleaner letters of a few of Riley's favorite people.
 
 
Our family has recently relocated to Midland, TX.  We are really excited about the new adventures to come our way!  Riley and I have already explored the Sibley Nature Center, Hogan Park, two different libraries, and we have plans to check out the Petroleum Museum and Wildlife Preserve later this week.  On Saturday, Henry & I will begin our serious house hunting...after we check out the County Fair!  
The weather has been in the 60s-70s in the morning and evening, with highs in the 90s...but it's a DRY heat versus the humid heat of Houston.  I am so in love with this weather!!  
Have you ever been to Midland?  What did you think?  What was your favorite thing to see/do?
 
 
I came across this very cute guide to teach children about how to interpret dog behavior.  It also demonstrates how the child should behave around dogs!  I am rather partial to the adorable little Boston Terrier featured in this training guide.  If you are interested in learning more about dog behavior and/or training, check out their website, The Behaviour Company, to find all kinds of tips and suggestions.
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Click on the photo to go to their webpage for more resources on dog training!
 
 
Last month, Henry & his brother built this wonderful table & chair set for Riley!  I was soooo excited!  I had come across this tutorial awhile ago and couldn't wait for us to have a chance to finally make Riley his very own special place to work, eat, & play.
After Henry & his brother, Dan, did the woodwork, Dan's girlfriend, Suzie, & I painted everything.  I had already decided to paint everything bright, rainbow colors, but was stumped on the table top.  Suzie & I came up with the drizzled paint effect while shaking off some excess in the grass.  We had so much fun!  Then, as a final touch, Riley had to have a part in the making of his furniture with his hand prints.
Of course, the boys tweaked the directions a bit to suit their own needs, but everything worked out just fine in the end!  Now Riley can enjoy eating his lunch while looking out the window, doing crafts, & creating masterpieces with his playdough!
If you would like to make your own table & chairs, check out the directions here: table & chairs
 
 
I have become ever so busy lately and have had little time to sew, knit, or post on my blog.  I accepted a new job as an assistant teacher in a 1-3 grade Montessori classroom.  It is only part-time, but the other half of the day is spent doing everything I used to do in a whole day!

Riley is adjusting to a new daycare, everyday going to play with his new friends.  I am adjusting to the new routine and trying to figure out how to prioritize and balance all of the many things in my schedule.  I am slowly getting things figured out but in the meantime, my goal is to set aside time every week for ME and my FAMILY!  

I leave you with a photo from our family outing to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last weekend.  
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Riley had a fantastic time at the Rodeo! He loved the animals, the tractors, the dragon roller coaster ride, & of course - the sundae!
 
 
Happy Valentine's Day! Riley helped me prepare valentines for his classmates and other friends outside of school.  Mama glued the doilies together, he placed the stickers on them.  He also helped me prepare crayons to be melted into new shapes - I could not find an appropriate heart mold so we made squares.  He loved peeling the paper off of the crayons and breaking them up!  

He was very excited for his gift - a Mini Beco baby carrier for his doll, Wren!  He was so cute and so sweet carrying his doll around yesterday!  
Henry & I even managed to have dinner alone together after Riley went to bed, followed by a sappy Romance movie - Tangled!! Hehehe...All in all, it was a pretty good day!
 
 
Oh my goodness, that was a busy holiday season!!  Hosting Thanksgiving, my birthday, hosting a Christmas party for my knitting group, teaching a knitting class, making holiday crafts & foods, knitting up a flurry of Christmas gifts, and flying off to Florida....Whew!!!  I'm tired again just thinking about it all!  I am terribly behind on posting a few of our holiday projects but here is a photo collage to enjoy in the meantime!
Happy Holidays!!
 
 
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Pirate buddies, helping to pull the wagon
I am a big fan of the Texas Renaissance Festival!  I love the costumes, the people, the food, the rides, the entertainment, the music, the parade, the themed weekends, the competitions, and the autumn feeling in the air!  This year, we had plenty of tickets at our disposal thanks to Urban Dealight, a daily deal site.  Our family visited the ren fest FOUR times!! We even spent one night camping out!  This season was a blast!

Our first weekend was Pirate Adventure!!  Arrrggghhhh!!!! Riley wore his pirate costume, learned out to sword-fight, and enjoyed seeing the sights from his very own "sailboat"....his trusty Radio Flyer wagon!  
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Learning to sword fight!
The next time we visited was for Roman Bacchanal.  Henry sat this one out so we brought along a friend instead.  We had a great time shopping, enjoying the elephant ears and smoothies, and listening to Tartanic - my favorite band at the festival!  Riley was mesmorized by the music and entranced by the belly dancers!  
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Tartanic!!
Our last visit was an overnight stay in the family camping area for Celtic Christmas.  We had an amazing time!  It was so nice to be able to stay on the grounds overnight and not feel rushed to get home for bedtime.  We discovered our new favorite food in La Fiesta, popped into a few stores we hadn't visited in previous trips, and enjoyed the amazing fire show in the evening.  There were fire dancers and fire breathers...it was well worth staying for!  

The next morning, we woke up to a downpour!  It was raining quite hard all morning, eventually letting up enough to allow us to leave camp and head into the festival.  We knew that it may rain and yet we did not prepare ourselves at all!  We bought ponchos and still managed to have a great time.  
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Sopping wet in the pouring down rain!
The best part of our final visit to the Renaissance Festival was the King's Feast!  The feast is a 2 hour affair with 6 courses and live entertainment.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We began with a fruit and cheese plate, which was probably my favorite course.  That may just be due to the fact that I was starving as we hadn't eaten anything all morning!  The second course was a shrimp & noodle soup followed by a "cleanse the palate" course: berries with mint! The 4th & 5th courses were veggies and SIX types of meat: sausage, corned beef, prime rib, bbq pork, chicken, and of course, a turkey leg!  I tried a little bit of everything, though I certainly did not finish all of it!  The final course was a creme brulee followed by a very entertaining song "Get the fork out of here!"
I mentioned that Riley had a pirate costume...but what about Henry and myself?!?  We, too, have costumes only I failed to get a photo of us wearing them this year!  For shame, I know!!  However, I do have one photo from the Halloween party we went to this year:
Each year for the past 4 years, we allow ourselves one big purchase to go towards our costume.  This year, we bought Henry's boots and my leather skirt.  I love wearing our costumes!  They are quite comfortable and so much fun!  I also enjoy dressing up like a woodland faerie for the festival from time to time.

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Hanging out in the water garden
I hope that you get a chance to go to the Texas Renaissance Festival or even a ren fest near you!  They are so much fun!  If you can make it out sometime, here are my favorite things to see & do:

  • The parade at Noon each day
  • Arsene
  • Tartanic
  • Circa Paleo
  • Sound & Fury
  • Glassblower
  • Nativearth
  • Lost Island
  • Green Man Games & Books
  • Fruitful Endeavers
  • eating anything "on a stick" - salad, bacon, cheesecake, steak, strawberries, you name it - it probably comes on a stick!
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Pirate Adventure - 2010
 
 
~This repost is from November 19th, 2009 and was first found on my old blog which can be found here

~The next National Wear Red Day will be on February 3rd, 2012.

Many people don't know this about me but I have an extra hole in my heart!!  Today is the anniversary of the day I became whole-hearted on November 19th, 2007.  A tiny, umbrella shaped device was placed in my heart to cover the hole and my life was changed immediately.  Last February (Heart Awareness month), I wrote the letter below about my experience so that I could share my story online for national Wear Red Day (2/05/10 next year).

February 3rd, 2009

I grew up thinking I wasn't very good at sports, I was a bit lazy, and I especially hated running. In college, I started having more regular chest pains, especially after exercising. I tried swimming and got out of breath easily. Many different doctors had many different explanations: exercise-induced asthma, old chest injuries, etc. I just learned what I could and couldn't do and got on with life. 

As I got married, moved, bought a house, landed a career, and moved on into the "adult world", I started having more chest pains, usually with stress. With my new adult life came health insurance so I insisted that I find a doctor who could tell me why my chest ached, sometimes so severely it would cause me to gasp in pain. We wanted to start a family but I refused to do so until I knew I was healthy. A simple EKG revealed that something abnormal was going on in my heart. Further testing was required, revealing symptoms that the doctors were very concerned about. I received a phone call that brought my life to a stand-still: the doctors let me know that my heart could have a serious condition that would require surgery very soon but we would do an MRI for more details to narrow down the problem. Upon hearing that something was seriously wrong with my heart, the one organ that seems so vital to our lives and well-being, I became very scared. I was only 26! How could I have a heart defect!? 

Fortunately, the MRI revealed the lesser of the heart defect/disease evils - I had an Atrial Septum Defect - something normally detected at birth (blue babies), but somehow mine was lying hidden until now. This hole in my heart was causing a recirculation of blood, not allowing all of the much needed oxygen to make its way to the rest of my body - hence the many life-long symptoms I had displayed: easily tiring, easily running out of breath, 2 flights of stairs feeling like 4, and oddly -clubbing in my fingernails. My whole life I thought I wasn't very good at sports and that I was lazy - to find out my body had simply had to work around the lack of oxygen was sort of a relief in a weird way.

Ok - now what? We repair my heart as soon as possible. Thanks to modern medicine & a terrific surgeon, my chest was not cracked open (perhaps it was best to wait out those 26 years!) and the almost quarter-sized hole was repaired intravenously, with teeny cameras and tools, in an out-patient procedure and one miserable night in the hospital (I wasn't allowed to turn over and then stand up for HOURS afterwards).

In only a couple of months, my body had quickly responded to being whole-hearted, allowing me to breathe easier (stairs aren't so bad!) and work out harder in the gym - even the fingernail clubbing went away. I came out on the positive end of a heart problem, very lucky indeed!! I am somewhat of a "novelty" as my cardiologist said; my health profile (age, weight, gender, etc) doesn't fit this type of diagnosis very often so he is keen on keeping tabs on how my heart progresses over the years. My husband and I try to be more health-conscious, attempting to eat better and work out more. We are now expecting our first baby and are very happy to know that everything is going well and so far, my heart is still doing great. 

~Franny Zollinger
age 28

11/19/09 - Added note - my heart was GREAT for the pregnancy!  My cardiologist said everything was fine and I shouldn't have anything to worry about. 

11/19/11 - I still have an echo done on my heart and visit the cardiologist once a year.  Everything is still going great!

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