Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wesley's Newborn Photo Shoot

I couldn't wait for our little man to arrive so I could start taking photos of him! I'd pinned a bunch of different photo ideas and was so excited to get him in front of a camera. In fact, we purchased my camera knowing that someday we'd have a baby that I'd want to photograph. I practiced on the dog, cats, and other subjects for nearly 10 months before Wesley arrived and was ready to be photographed.

Sunday morning, January 15th, Wesley and I woke up before Jarrod and I got to take some adorable pictures of our 4 day old son.

I took a few pictures of the Wes man in his cute duckie outfit from his Granddad and Mimi (my dad and his wife) on January 19th.

I also knew we'd want to have a professional come out and take newborn photos of Wesley, Jarrod, and I to capture our new family. Thankfully, we have a wonderful friend from church who took our maternity shots and offered to come over and take newborn pictures of Wesley. We scheduled a photo shoot at our home on Friday, January 20th - Wesley was 9 days old. The following photos were all taken by Keith Austell of Timeframe Photography.

There were a few shots we wanted to get with Keith that we weren't able to because Wesley got fussy. So I decided to do a photo shoot with him on January 24th. My friend and photographer Carrie gave me the incredible advice of keeping Wesley's room warm and using an electric blanket to make sure he's warm. It worked really well!

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Semi-Homemade Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies

Jarrod LOVED my caramel brownies. Who would blame him? They are freaking fantastic. Unfortunately, finding German Chocolate Cake mix in a gluten-free variety has not been easy, so I haven't been able to make them for him. Thankfully, boxed gluten-free brownies are amazing so we've at least gotten our brownie fix - I'm not savvy or brave enough to try baking from scratch with gluten-free flours, etc.

After this incredible caramel took over pinterest, I knew I wanted to give it a try. If it worked, amazing. If not, no big loss. Turns out this pin is genius! After 8 hours in the crock pot and a few hours in the fridge, I had a whole can of delicious caramel! No plastic to unwrap, no double boiler, just delicious caramel. YUM!

Once I discovered that the trick worked, I got to thinking about what I wanted to do with the caramel. Jarrod has a love of all things salted caramel so I immediately thought I could spice up boxed gluten-free brownies with caramel and kosher salt to make semi-homemade salted caramel brownies.

It turns out I stumbled upon something amazing. A super easy dessert that looks much more complicated (read: fancy!) than it actually is. I hesitate to even list a recipe - really this is just throwing already prepared ingredients together to make something magical. While we made these gluten-free, you could easily make your favorite boxed (or from scratch!) brownies, gluten-free or not!

Boxed chocolate brownie mix, prepared
One can of sweetened condensed milk
Kosher salt
Milk chocolate chips (optional)

This recipe does take some preparation. Put the condensed milk in a crockpot of water. Make sure the can is completely submerged and set the crockpot on low for 8 hours. Once done, put the can in the refrigerator to cool - this can take another couple of hours. It's easiest to work with room temperature caramel, but cool caramel is fine as well.

Prepare the brownie mix according to the box. Pour into a greased 8x8" or 9x13" baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove brownies from oven. If you want to use chocolate chips, sprinkle them over the brownies.

Then pour the caramel over the brownies. You can make swirls, drops, or lines in the brownies. Be creative! Finish baking until brownies are firm but not dry.

As soon as you remove the brownies from the oven sprinkle with salt. Next time I make these I might add the salt after the caramel but before baking. That might help the salt stick better.

Allow the brownies to cool completely before slicing. Or just grab a fork and eat the entire batch straight from the pan. :-)
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Friday, January 27, 2012

My Baby Daddy

 I knew my husband was an incredible man when I married him. He's patient, loyal, funny, and talented. He far exceeded all of the things on my imaginary list when we met. I have grown more and more in love with him over the past 2.5 years. We have gone through some very difficult times, had wonderful experiences, and got to know each other in new ways. Since July 4, 2009 I have discovered that not only is Jarrod an incredible man, but he's a rockstar husband. He takes care of me, challenges me, makes me laugh, and is my best friend.

2 weeks ago I discovered an even deeper love for the man I married. I have never felt a deeper love than seeing my husband as a father. During my labor and our stay in the hospital, Jarrod took care of us and immediately fell into his role as father. Our partnership was tested but was strengthened.

The first week we were home from the hospital were very difficult for me. I had a difficult recovery and was incredibly overwhelmed. My emotions were out of control and I cried a lot. Jarrod handled things so well - saying the right things, saying nothing, and hugging it out.

Jarrod went back to work and while I thought it would be hard on me, I've discovered how challenging it is for him. He cuts out early, comes home quickly, and snuggles his little man as much as possible. He savors the time he has with Wesley but does a great job balancing time with me also.

When we got home from the hospital I couldn't cut off my bracelets quick enough. We were home about 30 minutes before I cut off mine and Wesley's. We've been home for over 2 weeks now and Jarrod's still wearing his. He's so proud to be a father. His cell phone camera has worked overtime because he's constantly snapping photos of Wesley to share on Facebook and text to friends. I'm sure our friends and family are tired of seeing new pictures of Wesley every 30 minutes pop up on their newsfeed. Jarrod doesn't care - he's so proud of our little man.

We always said Wesley would sleep in the pack 'n play in our room for a few weeks before transitioning to his crib. We had absolutely no intention of him sleeping in bed with us. However, after our first night at home, we discovered we aren't strong enough to listen to him cry in the pack 'n play. He slept on our chests for the first few nights before I tried to transition him to the napper in the pack 'n play. After each feeding, I'd change him and put him in the napper with the vibration and music on. Sometimes he'd settle in and go to sleep and sometimes he'd fuss. Soon he was sleeping almost entirely in the napper...except when Daddy had him...If Jarrod has him, Wesley will sleep for hours on his chest through the night until he wakes to feed. I'd encourage Jarrod to put him in the napper (and he will eventually) but he said he never minded and could get great sleep even with Wesley sleeping on him. He loves cuddling with his little boy. I know in the next couple of weeks Wesley will start sleeping through the night and we'll be able to put him in his crib. Jarrod will survive. :-)

I cannot wait to watch Wesley grow up and develop a relationship with Jarrod. I can't wait to watch them play together. Jarrod will be the greatest influence and role model in Wesley's life and I'm so excited to watch their relationship develop.
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