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April 15, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

April is the month of the military child!

April is the month of the military child!

Today I wear purple in honor of my son, who is a military child. :)
I just wanted to say I appreciate all the sacrifices military children make.
God bless you all!
:)

April 15, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

N400 Mailed.. and some updates!

I mailed my N400 packet last 4/2/2014 through USPS Priority Express to Lincoln, NE. It cost about $20 for one-day delivery. It was delivered noontime on 4/3/2014. Just to clarify, I mailed mine 4/2/2014 because that was the day of our 3-year anniversary, which is one of the rules for eligibility (3 years married + 3 years permanent resident). I sent the G-1145 with my application but never received any notifications when my application was received and processed, which I thought was strange.. On 4/9/2014, my check was cashed (I got the lovely deduction on my bank account). On 4/14/2014 I finally received my NOA1 or I-797C Notice of Action which made me happy and breathe a sigh of relief. However, my NOA1 was odd and unusual. It stated:

Receipt with Exception

“The above application has been received by our office and is in process, but has been noted with one or more of the following exceptions: missing evidence(s)- your application was missing evidences that you will need to provide at the time of your naturalization interview. You will be notified under separate notice of the necessary evidences that you will be required to bring to your interview. Do not submit any evidences by mail”

I’m not sure why I got this statement, from what I have observed, it is not really standard. It is making me worry :( I guess all I can do now is wait for the separate notice. I will keep you all updated! I am thinking it is because I said yes to being cited by a police officer because I had a traffic ticket. I have proof for that, so that’s an easy fix. No big deal if that’s all it is. 

I also checked my case status online, and it says, 

Initial Review

On April 11, 2014, we mailed you an appointment notice to have your fingerprints taken. Please follow the instructions on the notice. If you move while this case is pending, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.

Which means I will get my biometrics letter soon, hopefully! 

I will keep everyone updated with my N400 Journey! Hoping for a smooth sailing one! 

March 11, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Working Mom Woes

Working mom.. who are we kidding here. I am so frustrated, because try as I may to do my job well, something always comes up, and of course, my son always comes first. Ever since my son started daycare, he’s had the stomach bug, the cold (twice), random fevers (Don’t get me started on the 24 hr fever-free policy), and now I just got the call that they think he has pink eye. He doesn’t, he has a blocked tear duct, but I get the resemblance. They won’t accept my mom-diagnosis, so now we have to take him to the doctor to get a note. I work a teacher’s schedule, I get 3 personal days and 10 sick days a year. It’s only March and I only have 4.5 days left. NONE of those sick days were for me, they were all for Johnny, but that’s okay because he was legitimately sick in some of those occasions and I wanted to watch him. But now I have to leave work early or miss work altogether just because of fever-free policies and things like that? They don’t make it easy for working moms.. Maybe I should just stay home. 

Feeling frustrated :(

March 6, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Preparing my N-400 Packet

So I have been reading up on the forums and instructions for citizenship (N-400), and here is what I am preparing to include in my packet so far. I have not gotten around to actually doing it yet, but I will do it in the next 3 weeks (I send mine in 4/3/14). Here’s my list:

1. Cover Letter (Optional- But to me it looks more professional, and presentable and the person who opens it knows what the packet should have)

2. G-1145 (So that you can get notifications)

3. Completed, signed N-400 form (21 pages long)

4. Check for $680 (Ugh, I know!) addressed to U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, with A# printed on the back

5. 2 2X2 passport photos (thin, glossy) with name and alien # printed on back

6. Hubby’s BC copy (to prove his citizenship)

7. Copy of Marriage Cert

8. Johnny’s (son) copy of BC

9. 3 years tax return transcript

10. Lease with both our names on it (Not necessary, but proves domicile and that I live with my husband)

11. Copies of my DL and Tim’s DL and Mil ID – (Totally not necessary, but I will add it in anyway).

12. Front and back copy of current 10-year GC (duh.. almost forgot about that!)

Edit.. After consulting with other people who have previously filed, I am thinking of adding in a recent joint account statement. Can’t hurt I guess!

What do you guys think? What’s in your pack N400 packet?

Because I am a military spouse, I am sending mine to Nebraska through USPS Priority Mail.

Wish me luck!!! I am very nervous!

February 25, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Mom Confession: We bed-share (safely)

I grew up sleeping next to my parents. It was never a thing anyone batted their eyelashes about in the Philippines. Its very normal and I would say it would be more unusual to find parents who put their baby to sleep in a crib in their own room. Needless to say I was shocked when I became pregnant and started talking to doctors and nurses and got lectures about the dangers of co-sleeping and bed-sharing. I was so scared that it made me get a bassinet and rethink my decision. So before Johnny arrived I decided to co-sleep instead and placed the bassinet next to my bed. Well when he arrived he just wasn’t having it. He was just more comfortable in mommy’s arms and mommy’s chest, and bed-sharing made nights and breastfeeding so much easier. I knew the risks of bed-sharing, and I was not a heavy sleeper and neither was I a smoker and a drinker (some factors of SIDS). Plus Tim was deployed for the first 6 months of Johnny’s life so he had a ton of space in the bed. It felt natural and great. We sleep great. Yes, there are times when I feel jealousy when I hear of other kids who have slept through the night since 2 months old, but well that’s not my Johnny. Johnny is 12 months old and still nurses a couple times a night. He’s just always been that way. Why would I deny him that need? People tell me that he no longer needs to nurse at night and this is just comfort nursing now, then my deny him that comfort? I feel guilty for working during the day and leaving him at daycare, and this is his chance to get more mommy snuggle time. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those who put their babies in a crib, it just isn’t what works for us. My husband loves having him snuggled with us too, especially since he is still making up for all the time apart they had. What I don’t like is that I am made to feel guilty and forced to lie about our choices. Everytime I come back for a well-visit I get asked “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” and at first I was honest and said no, and I got a long lecture about how he needed to be transitioned to a crib, and we would both sleep so much better and its so much safer etc. I felt so guilty afterwards. The next two visits I had I ended up telling the doctor he was sleeping on a crib.. which technically isn’t a lie because he does sleep in his crib at the daycare. Just not at home. Sometimes I worry about the time when we actually do need to transition him. We have a toddler bed next to our bed which is ready for Johnny. I figure we will start the process when he is about 18 months old, but I will do it slowly. He’s only young once, and I know eventually he will be independent from mommy and daddy, but for now, we shall relish and savor all the snuggles we get from him. 

So what kind of sleeping arrangements do you guys have? And how did you transition your kid into a big bed? I would love to hear other people’s experiences. :) 

February 24, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

“Is my child delayed?”

This is a question I get asked a lot by my mom friends, because they know my profession. And lately, this is a question I have been asking myself, because just like any other mom, I worry and I compare. My son is 12 months old, and he says “dada,” “mama,” and shakes his head consistently for “no.” He is able to respond to his name by turning his head, he imitates actions, he initiates contact by making noises or actions, he takes turns and can wave to “hi” and “bye.” He can pound a toy hammer and presses on the buttons of his toys appropriately. I say those are pretty good accomplishments for his age. But is it enough? He’s standing and walking assisted, but not on his own yet. He hesitates, I can tell he’s getting there, but he’s not ready. He wasn’t even self-feeding until this weekend. Prior to this weekend he has been eating only if I spoonfeed him or if he eats off my hand. He would touch food but he would not put it in his mouth, he would only play with it. With some mom advice I was given, I gave him the larger piece of food and I began to eat off his hand. Somehow this triggered something in him and he started feeding himself, just like that. I felt like he was telling me, “See mommy, I had it in me all along, I was just taking my time. Don’t rush me mommy.” We live in a society where we expect too much from children and we cant let them grow and learn on their own. This weekend my son taught me something, it was that I need to be more patient as a mom, and I need to savor each moment and stage because I know once he self-feeds, I will miss the moments when he depended on me to feed him. I can feel him slowly gaining more independence and courage, and while it makes me so proud, I am also sad because I know he’s growing up! Last Monday, he went down the bed on his own, and he also started using a sippy cup and grabbed my spoon and pretended to eat. Everyday he continues to amaze me with what he picks up and learns just by watching his surroundings.

Despite all his accomplishments, I do see other babies his age who are maybe talking more, eating better or walking unassisted. So is my son behind? Not necessarily. Other children maybe “ahead” in some aspects, but it does not make my son “behind” or “delayed.” It just makes my son an individual who does things in his own time. Milestones are there for a reason, its a general guide, but its not the holy grail.

However, these things need to be taken with a grain of salt. Obviously if my son is almost two and not walking or talking more, then yes I will become concerned and I will seek help from professionals. One personal pet peeve of mine are the typical statements like “Oh my son didn’t talk till he was 3! He’s fine! He will talk when he’s ready!” (said to a mom with a non-verbal 3 year old). While this may be true, there needs to come a time where you need to think about seeking intervention. When there is already an obvious delay, seek help!!! Do not even hesitate, I cannot stress enough the importance of early intervention. And the sooner they seek help, the sooner they can catch up and become dismissed from services. Also, as a mom, I feel like you always have that gut feeling, that maternal instinct. If that is telling you that something isn’t right, tell your pediatrician and find a local SLP. An evaluation from Birth to 3 or EI is more than beneficial. At the very least, they can equip you with language stimulation techniques and help ease your mind. :)

So I guess my take home message is this, don’t expect too much too soon, and don’t expect too little too late. Makes sense? Remember that no two children are the same. Everyone develops differently and in their own time, but you also need to know when its time to step in and do something about it. Lastly, talk to your children constantly! Read them books and ask them questions. Sing to them, label everything, narrate your actions. You’ll be amazed at how much they pick up on what you say and do. :)

I think ASHA sums it up pretty nicely in this article, its all a matter of determining whether its just a child being a “late bloomer” or if its a language problem. And here’s an excellent article on milestones you can refer to :)

February 20, 2014 / thegirlwhotooktheleap

Just another diaper review!

First off, I do not cloth diaper. Believe me I thought about doing it plenty of times, and maybe for baby 2 I will actually take the plunge but for the first 4 months of Johnny’s life we lived in a college town and my apartment had no washer and dryer plus I was still in grad school full-time, so that was a no-go. Then we travelled for 2 months to the Philippines and used sposies there too. Then we came back, Tim came home and he was still adjusting to having a son to take care of so I did not want to force him to cloth-diaper (He wasn’t keen on the idea. I am hoping to convince him when we have baby 2 to try it) :) So there, I use sposies and I have probably tried a few brands out there. Luckily, my son does not have a picky butt and does well with most of them.. I am basing my review on three things, cost, quality and effectiveness.

PAMPERS

Johnny used Pampers Swaddlers when he was a newborn, and they are great. Soft, I love the classic look and the wetness indicator works well. My only beef with Pampers is the cost.. they are so expensive and don’t seem to have as much high-value coupons and sales as Huggies. Johnny hardly ever leaked with Pampers. Having said that, I hardly ever use this brand because I can’t really justify the cost. Quality and effectiveness are top-notch for me.

HUGGIES

I will divide Huggies into 2: Little Movers and Snug and Dry.

I buy Huggies a lot because they seem to have the most sales. If you coupon in CVS, you can get Huggies practically free (Well not really, but for much much cheaper). Without coupons and store sales, they are as expensive as Pampers but with the savings they come out pretty much equal to or cheaper than the store brand diapers. I love the softness of Little Movers, I love how it forms on my baby’s butt, the designs are cute and we have not had rash or leak problems with it.

SNUG AND DRY

Snug and Dry is okay… It’s not as soft as Little Movers though. I don’t like it as much, but they are still one of my go-to diapers. It really is snug, the elastic on the waist really follows the shape of my baby’s butt. Same price as Little Movers, so I tend to go for that since I find it much, much softer.

LUVS

Cheap, works great, but I am not a fan of the smell and design. We do use it though, especially for the daycare. A box is pretty reasonably priced. I wish they would make a scent-free one, its so obnoxiously strong. Quality is good too, and its effective, and cost is a definite plus.

UP AND UP (TARGET)

Not a fan, but cost is great! Even cheaper than LUVS. I find them too hard and stiff. They are effective but my son seemed uncomfortable in them. I think the quality is not as good. But we did not have leaks with this brand.

PARENT’S CHOICE (WALMART)

These are actually not bad, but I also find it of lesser quality. What I mean by this is that it works, but you can tell the difference when you compare it with others. Not as snug, and tabs aren’t as tight. We actually did leak with this brand. Probably would not recommend this for overnight use. Cost is great, cheaper than the rest.

SIMPLY RIGHT (Sam’s Club)

I found these to be pretty terrible, sorry. Almost no elastic, you had to just rely on the tabs to keep it in place. Would not recommend it.

HONEST CO. 

I call this the disposables for the rich people, lol. They are very expensive, I know its more environmentally-friendly and I appreciate that fact. I have to say I do love the prints and the quality of it. If I had the money, I would subscribe monthly! I have 2 months worth of these diapers because I used a sale coupon and had some referral cash, and I am very pleased with the softness. It’s thin but surprisingly absorbent. I feel that my son’s butt can breathe lol. Probably my favorite, but would I use it for long-term? Sadly no, because the cost is too much! They do offer a trial, which I recommend, you can sign up to try it here and could always call and cancel your subscription if you choose not to continue it.

So there’s my quick but honest review from just another busy working mama! I wish I could be more detailed and give pictures, but this is it for now :) I would love to hear stories about the kinds of diapers you use, and your experiences, especially for the ones I haven’t tried :)

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