Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sleep when he sleeps...

Everyone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps. While I love sleep as much as anyone else, this advice really didn't work for me. Of course I sleep at night - as much as possible, really. I sleep in on days where Jarrod takes Wesley - it gives me a few extra minutes. but as far as sleeping during the day, that doesn't happen. I think I've had one nap in the past 7 weeks of Wesley's life. It's just not my style.

What I do while he is sleeping is projects. Besides keeping up with his baby book, I've also been careful to walk most days, keep up with laundry, keep the house clean, cook meals, run errands, and stay somewhat sane. In order to stay sane, I need to keep busy.

In the early days of having Wesley, I'd make a short list of thing I'd want to get done that day. Sometimes it was simple and consisted of basic things - return something at Target, take a shower, pump, and wipe down counters. As Wesley got bigger, I got to healing, and we got into a groove, I could add a few more things to the list or more complicated items. I'd typically roughly plan my week - the major things I'd need to get done, errands that needed to happen, blog posts, and other appointments. I figured out how much I could get done in a day and I'd try to be productive while also not doing too much.

I think that this sort of routine kept me sane in the beginning and helps keep me happy now that Wesley is 7 weeks old. I'm proud of the things I've been able to accomplish over the past month and a half. On top of keeping myself sane and keeping our house running, I've also done a lot of work, responded to e-mails, and kept on top of my job.

Am I tired? Yes. Do I get out of my jammies everyday? No. Do I fix my hair or wear makeup? No. Do I snuggle with Wesley any chance I get? Absolutely. Maybe taking a nap isn't the way I relax - it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows me that I don't calm down by sitting still.

I'm looking at less than 2 weeks of maternity left and have several projects on my to-do list. Check back later this week for a list of some of the projects I'm working on!
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Help for new moms

I'm fortunate to have experience with new moms. Several years ago (5+!) a dear friend of mine gave birth to twins. They lived minutes from my job and I often stopped by after work, in the middle of the day, or any other time I wanted to. I held babies, fed babies, changed diapers, and soothed myself. Honestly, I had no idea what my friend and her family needed, I just knew I needed baby love. It was peaceful hanging out with them. As the babies got bigger, I would run errands with my friend, watch them so she could sleep, and loved her kiddos.

I didn't bring food, do laundry, offer to run errands for them, or consider that perhaps sometimes they didn't WANT me in their house. Hopefully I didn't invade their privacy or irritate them. Hopefully I was helpful even though I had no idea what I was doing.

Now my friend comes to my house (not right around the corner, she drives an hour!) most Mondays to sit with me, hold Wesley, and calm my fears about being a mom. She tells me I'm doing a good job, loves my sweet boy, and gives me advice. Basically, she rocks. I don't put on make-up when she comes over - I don't even wear real pants. I don't mind that my house isn't perfect and never worry about entertaining her. Basically, she soothes my soul and I look forward to Mondays.

I surf facebook and read blogs in the middle of the night while feeding Wesley. One night someone posted this list on facebook. It literally took me 3 days to read through the whole list. Typically top 100 lists can only be 50% accurate. This one left me laughing and in tears. I wish more people knew how important these things are.

I read this list and wished more people knew about these things. I think it's a list every church needs in their main office so they can inspire the congregation to help with families with new little ones. This list doesn't apply to my dearest friend - all she needs to do is come over and let me relax. This list is for everyone else.

Some of my favorites on this list include:
  • Bring her food in disposable dishes so she doesn’t have to deal with washing or returning them
  • Make sure she’s actually in 1 out of every 1,000 photos she’s taking
  • Offer to drive her on errands and stay in the car with the baby
  • Wash her dishes without being asked
  • Ask her what the one chore is around the house she wishes she could get to and do it for her
  • Ask her which baby items she still needs – get her those instead of the cute clothes you have your eye on
  • Send a special prayer, encouragement or blessing addressed to the baby via snail mail
  • Take her (and the baby) for a walk (my sweet friend did this with me yesterday!)
  • Make up midnight snacks for her to grab when she’s up feeding the baby
  • Encourage her also to go spend two glorious hours at the hair dresser while you watch the baby (my sweet husband did this last week...delightful!!)
  • Promise her it will just keep getting better
I have several friends giving birth soon and hope I can remember this list to use on them. Really, it is all about showing new moms you live them in a way they can understand in their new reality. We don't know to ask for these things, but we need them.

Because I am always involved in a church and believe the church is family, this is a list I desperately wish every church had on hand. Perhaps every church needs a handful of folks to ensure that one of these items happens each month for a new mom. Maybe your moms group, neighborhood group, or organization needs this list to show love to new moms. I don't imagine it matters if it's the first baby or 5th - these are all perfect acts of love for a mom who has recently given birth.

The best part about this list? They are easy. These are things you can do to a new mom you just met or one you've been friends with for years.

Moms - What's the best thing someone did for you after you had a baby?
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Cloth Diapering - The Beginning

I knew before I even got pregnant with Wesley that I would want to cloth diaper. I know it's not for everyone and doesn't work with every schedule, baby, or lifestyle, but I wanted to give it my best shot. I wrote about our stash here. I knew I wanted to wait until Wesley was around 10 pounds before trying out the cloth diapers. The one size diapers we have say they fit babies as small as 8 pounds, but I didn't want to start too early and have a bad experience. Jarrod was very tentative about cloth diapering - I wanted to be sure we had the best start possible.

We guessed Wesley was about 10 pounds somewhere around 5 weeks. I started him in the cloth diapers at about 5.5 weeks. We use the FuzziBunz stuffed with two inserts at night and the Flip system during the day. Some days it is great and we can use the same cover for most of the day. The genius behind the Flip diapers is that it's just a cover and inserts - provided no leakage happens onto the cover, you can just replace the insert with a clean one and reuse the cover through several diaper changes. Obviously we thought this was great for daytime use.

We only have 4 Flip covers that were handed down to us by a friend. We have about a dozen inserts so I recently purchased two more covers in hopes that they could last us 2 days. We have 6 FuzziBunz covers and 12 inserts. We use one FuzziBunz diaper and two inserts per night. We have had no trouble with leaking or blowouts at night but the diaper is definitely full in the morning! We have tried the FuzziBunz during the day with just one insert but had some trouble with that. There was leaking around the legs, even though they were very tight (all set to a 3). I think he was just too little and we'll try them again soon.
Wesley rocks the vibrant colors we got. :-) You can't tell from this picture, but he is wearing lime green socks to match...

One thing I was concerned with in going with cloth diapers was diaper rash. I know that cloth diapers can help with diaper rash but will not cure it entirely. However, you cannot use standard diaper creams with cloth diapers because of residue build-up. So I did some research and purchased a tube of California Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream.

 I'm really glad I purchased it, but so far, we haven't had to use it! In disposables, Wesley would occasionally get a very red little bottom. A few hours or days of Boudreaux's Butt Paste and we were good to go. While the butt paste does work wonderfully, we don't want the residue messing with the absorbancy of the cloth diapers.

So far, cloth diapering is going really well. It's challenging, but overall doesn't really take more time. Because we're using the Flips during the day, there is very little stuffing necessary. I don't mind throwing a load of laundry in every other day or so and I've already sun-dried the diapers once with great success. (Living in Texas is awesome.) :-) We will see how things go once I go back to work in a few weeks. Jarrod has adapted really well to the cloth diapers.

I'll continue to update you on the status of our cloth diapering, but for now, I'm excited about the money we're saving and the lack of waste we are contributing to!
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

What I've learned...

Since I've been a mom for over a month now, I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned over the past month. I am no kind of expert and still have no idea what I'm doing. But I've learned some things over the past few weeks, things I hope to share with friends, things I hope to remember if I ever decide to bring home an infant.
  1. I don't need an infant car seat. - I got lots of advice about getting the Infant Car Seat because of the convenience of carrying around baby. The carrier fits on carts at the grocery store, makes eating in restaurants easier, and is just more convenient. This is probably true, but I never use ours. I could easily leave the carrier connected to the base. Wesley is in the wrap 99% of the time we're out. If we go to a restaurant, he's in the wrap. If I'm running errands, he's in the wrap. We use his stoller for walks but stopped putting him in the carrier in the car seat when he was about 2 weeks old. The car seat is one of the best rated carriers but it's very heavy and as he gets heavier, the odds of me using it is decreasing exponentially. If I were to do it over, I'd go straight to the Convertible Car Seat and skip the infant carrier.
  2. I love the Moby Wrap. - I wear Wesley around the house to get things done, when we run errands, and for walks around the block. When he was really little it was the only way I could function. Now that he's getting a little bigger we may transition to the BABYBJĂ–RN, but overall, I'm a baby-wearer. 
  3. Time is different - On one hand, time is going by very quickly. I cannot believe Wesley is over a month old. I cannot believe I have to go back to work in less than a month. It feels like he's been here forever and just got here all at the same time. About a week after he was born I texted a good friend who recently had a little girl. She had a similar labor experience and I wanted to know the real deal - would I ever be able to walk or sit again? She assured me I would, in a few weeks. I remember thinking "WEEKS?! How will I survive!" Now that we're 4 weeks post-partum, I'm walking nearly every day several miles and have no trouble sitting...most of the time. I can hardly remember the pains of labor or those first few days at home. Time has flown by and stretched out at the same time. 
  4. Everyone has advice. - People gave us lots of parenting advice before Wesley was born. Thankfully I've spent enough time with families and babies that I knew (a very tiny bit) about babies. Now that Wesley is here I get advice everywhere we go. Dads tell me how to get Wesley to adjust his schedule to sleep through the night while I wait in line at the fabric store. I love advice from friends and family, especially once who have young kids, but advice from random people is interesting. I smile a lot. :-)
  5. My priorities are different. - I still value a clean house and we still have annual Thursday night Johnston Family Cleaning nights, but I don't really care to do much else but play with our little man. I'm glad I love my job and feel fulfilled by it because otherwise I'd just stay home with Wesley all day. It's amazing how he just got here and I cannot imagine my life without him. 
  6. I'm thankful my marriage was strong - because otherwise we'd be really struggling right now! Lack of sleep, disagreements about how to handle a crabby baby, and how to get everything else done around the house makes parenting very hard.
  7. I'm thrilled that we spent the money on a good walking stroller. - I've been trying to walk everyday and have done a decent job. I've gone from walking about a mile a day to walking nearly 4 miles at a time. The stroller is big but is such a smooth ride and is very easy to push. With all the walking I do with it, I'm really glad we went with the big guns! 
  8. Everything takes longer. - Wesley and I run errands together and spend time relaxing around the house, both take significantly longer than they used to. Things that used to take me a few hours now can take me all day. I spread out errands that I used to cram together just to make things easier on Wesley. The key is we still do things. I take him out, we go to church, and I go on walks. That's been key to my own sanity. Life hasn't stopped, it's just different.
  9. We always need more stuff. - Wesley will never have enough clothes, toys, books, etc. I am so cheap with everything else, but every time I leave the house I want to buy him something - a new outfit, cute shoes, or a book. We do crafts together and I could spend millions on supplies. I try to keep it in check - I definitely don't want a house full of stuff!
  10. Recovery takes much longer than I ever thought. - I'm now 6 weeks post-partum and am just now starting to feel human. I had no idea it would take that long. I knew my jeans wouldn't fit, but I didn't know I wouldn't be able to sit down! Thankfully, my body is slowly healing and getting back to normal, or a new normal, I suppose. I wish someone would have really told me the gory truth - your body will never be the same, but it's so worth it!
I know I will continue to learn incredible lessons. Wesley is teaching me so much. I cannot believe it's only been 6 weeks and I cannot believe it's already been 6 weeks! God is good. 
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    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Ash Wednesday

    We're United Methodist and it's not essential or required for United Methodists to give something up for Lent, which begins today. Ash Wednesday signifies the start of Lent, the 40 days (plus Sundays) leading up to Easter. It is a time of preparation towards Easter. It is customary for people to fast from certain behaviors, substances, or foods in order to prepare for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. This also mirrors the suffering of Christ leading up to his resurrection. Some people will refrain from fasting on Sundays because every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection and one is not supposed to fast on the Sabbath.

    I didn't grow up giving up anything. I didn't really grow up understanding Lent at all. While we're liturgy and Christian calendar celebrating people, I didn't really understand what that meant until college. Likewise, I didn't understand the concept of fasting until college either. Fasting is not something others should know about. Matthew 6:16 says, "And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward." This is incredibly difficult - fasting from something should be a challenge. It should remind you of the suffering of Christ and make you thankful for his sacrifice. One should be fasting from something that gets in the way of their relationship with Christ.

    It's also interesting to add something in during the season of Lent. This could be more disciplined Bible reading, intentional prayer time, or regular worship attendance. One very memorable year I gave up soda and added in prayer time. I stopped listening to music in the car, thus forcing myself to us all driving time for prayer. It was a very meaningful Lenten season.

    This year I plan to give up drinking sodas. I drink soda as a crutch, thinking it will make me feel better. It doesn't. I feel guilty for drinking caffeine while breast feeding (I limit it). I often feel like I cannot live without sodas and have essentially made Coke Zero an idol. I will not be drinking soda from now (had my last one yesterday!) until Easter, at least. My hope is that when I desire soda, I will pray.

    I will also be adding in a daily devotional. I have always valued time for a daily devotional but have fallen off the wagon recently. I would love for Jarrod to join me, but I will definitely be doing an intentional study time each day. I will be using "This Day" - a beautiful daily devotional guide. I look forward to what God will reveal to me during this time.

    What are you doing this Lenten season?
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    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Must Haves for New Moms

    I stressed terribly once I hit about 30 weeks in my pregnancy about having everything in order. Some call this nesting... It's really just part of who I am. I read a lot of blogs and websites, spoke with friends, and consulted you all. I thought I needed to have absolutely everything I could ever possibly need by week 37, just in case baby arrived. I thought I'd never be able to get to the store again. Turns out, I was wrong. :-) Here are some things I would recommend you have before baby arrives.
    For baby
    Moby, K'tan, or other infant carrier - Even if you don't want to wear it out of the house, having a carrier for around the house is ideal. I love the Moby because it keeps little infants snug. It takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's awesome!
    Lots of diapers and wipes - Wes was about 7.5 pounds when we left the hospital and 8 pounds 4 ounces at his 2 week check up. He wore newborn diapers and clothes until he was about 3 weeks old. Buy a huge box of newborn diapers and a huge box of size 1s. If you don't need the newborns you can change them for more size 1s or size 2s.
    A car seat - This is an obvious one, but make sure you have one, it's installed correctly, and the straps are set as tight as they can go. We went with the Peg-Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30/30 Infant Car Seat. It's heavy, but got great safety ratings and was compatible with our stroller. 
    Swaddle blankets or outfits - Wes refused to be swaddled with his arms in, but we gave it our best shot. He did like to be swaddled with his arms out, though, so good blankets were essential.
    Somewhere easy for baby to sleep - For us that was the newborn napper in the pack 'n play at the end of our bed. It made it easy for me to grab him to feed in the middle of the night but also gave Jarrod and I space. For some baby sleeps in their crib from day 1. For some baby sleeps right in bed with them. Whatever you decide, have an idea of where baby will be when you get home.

    Bath - Within the first few days at home you'll need to give baby a bath. Until the umbilical stump falls off, baby can't be submerged, so choose your bath carefully. We opted for the Bath Sponge because it doesn't take up any space. It's perfect for baby before the stump falls off but it's also great for after that. You'll also need baby soap and lotion for sensitive skin.

    For mom
    Heavy-flow pads, breast pads, and comfortable clothes - Your body will be a battleground - leaking, hurting, and sore. Don't force yourself into your pre-pregnancy jeans, embrace the stretchy yoga pants!
    An idea of what you will need/want - Maybe you want people to bring dinner or perhaps you want people to leave you alone. Jarrod and I took a full week to get used to being a family. Some folks want help immediately. We had lots of freezer meals and didn't need family to bring food. I don't think that there's a right or wrong, just have an idea of what you'll need and let everyone know.
    Baby monitor - Eventually the baby will sleep, nap, or be in a room that you are not. Baby is fine, mama is not. We went with the Angelcare Movement Sensor. It has a sensor that goes under the mattress to sense movement. It also has a sound monitor. The sensor saves my life because it tells me if he's breathing. If I don't hear an alarm, he's breathing and I don't need to go in and check on him.
    Baby Mirror - Within the first few days/weeks you are home, you'll have to leave the house with the baby in the backseat and you in the front seat. It's terrifying, but having a mirror makes it possible. If I didn't have the Safe-fit Day And Night Musical Mirror I wouldn't leave the house. Seriously. 

    For the family
    Easy meals - Either have a bunch of meals ready to go in the freezer or family/friends set to bring you meals. You will not want to cook for weeks and having meals ready to go will save you from eating out - or going out to pick up food.
    Enough to get you through - Toilet paper, dog food, deodorant, etc. Make sure you don't run out of the important stuff the day after you arrive home with the baby.
    Clear communication - You need to be sure that you and your spouse have clear communication. Lack of sleep, mommy brain, and hormones will make communication stressful no matter what. Being clear with how you feel, having an understanding of who will be doing what, and how you will interact with extended family is crucial.

    What else would you suggest having when bringing baby home from the hospital?
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    A Lovey Dovey Survey

    This survey is a little more appropriate for BEFORE Valentine's Day, but I'm a little behind the times... 

    How long have you and your significant other been together?
    We started dating in July of 2008 - just over 3.5 years.

    How did you meet?
    We met when Jarrod was in seminary and I was visiting the school the year before I started. He was a good friend with my best friend and we went to lunch together. We became facebook friends and saw each other at events for several years before making a connection.

    If you're married, how long?
    We were married on July 4, 2009 and have been married for 2.5 years.
    If you're married, where did you get married?  big or small wedding?  
    We got married in Farmers Branch, Texas. It was a relatively large wedding in terms of attendants and relatively small in terms of our budget.

    Do you have any nicknames you call one another?
    Babe or baby, mama and dad, and that's it.

    How did he propose?
    He asked me to marry him. I had the stomach flu and was visiting him in Louisiana over Halloween weekend. He'd planned some big sweet thing that went out the window when I got sick. It was sweet, but definitely not over the top.

    Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy or strawberries, champagne and rose petals?
    Neither... He's a make-the-bed-without-being-asked kind of guy...

    are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl or pop in a movie and relax on the couch?
    Movie on the couch, for sure. We're at home kind of people. Which is definitely good now that we have a child.

    Tell us one thing you'd like to do with your significant other some day?
    Travel. He's done a lot of international travel and I've done a lot of domestic travel, but we haven't done much travel together. I'd like him to show me Italy and Hawaii and I'd like to show him Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and NYC. We'd like to go to the holy lands, Taize, and Iona together.

    Tell us what you plan on doing this valentine's day?
    We stayed home. He cooked, I made dessert, and we played with a cranky-pants 5 week old boy.

    Are you asking for anything this valentine's day?
    Nope. We don't give gifts for Valentine's Day.

    Tell us one thing about keeping a relationship strong and full of love.
    It takes constant work. Everyday we work at our relationship. We're honest with each other, have fun together, and don't hold grudges. There's very little drama in our relationship because we try not to be passive aggressive with each other. It's hard, especially for me, but it makes things much better. We are best friends and really enjoy life together.

    Show us a picture of what love means to you.  
    This picture was taken moments after Wesley was born. I have no idea who took the picture (Courtney, maybe?) but it captures us making faces at each other in awe of our little man. Just outside this frame I am probably being stitched but, but that didn't matter - we were so in love with each other and our little man...and still are!
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    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Cedar Planked Salmon

    Jarrod knows I LOVE salmon. Because it's a pricey meat, we only have it for special occasions. Valentine's Day is a special occasion around here. Jarrod had one cedar plank left from another grilling experience, so he decided that's what we'd have for Valentine's Day... and it was DELICIOUS!

    Cedar Planked Salmon
    1 (12 inch) untreated cedar planks
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    1/3 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup chopped green onions
    1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    2 (1 pound) salmon fillets, skin removed

    Soak the cedar plank for at least 24 hours. This ensures that the plank won't catch on fire in the grill. Mix together the veggie oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Place the salmon fillets in the marinade. We put the fish and marinade in a gallon ziplock bag in the fridge for at least an hour. Preheat the grill to medium. Place the plank on the grill, but not on the direct flame until hot. Place the salmon on the board and discard the marinade. Cover and grill for about 20 minutes. Cooking the salmon off the direct flame takes a little longer but cooking low and slow seals in a lot of the delicious marinade and cedar flavor. 

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    Friday, February 17, 2012

    Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus

    Jarrod made this delicious side dish for our Valentine's Date night. He was a little disappointed that we had prosciutto wrapped asparagus at a friend's house the night before Valentine's Day so he stepped it up a bit and added cream cheese! It sounds a little bit crazy, but it was one of the best things I've ever eaten in my whole life. We love asparagus around here but this made it that much more awesome.

    Special Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus

    1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced
    1/2 of an 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
    12 spears of fresh asparagus, trimmed

    Preheat oven at 450 degrees. Slice cream cheese into length-wise slices about 1/4" wide. Place cream cheese on 3-4 spears of asparagus and wrap with prosciutto. Arrange wrapped spears in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until asparagus is tender. We opt not to blanch the asparagus because we like it crisp.

    We will most definitely be making these again! 
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    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Salted Caramel Frozen Hot Chocolate

    Jarrod put me in charge of our dessert for Valentine's Day... but he didn't give me any of the budget money and the dessert needed to be gluten free. My plans to make tiramisu went out the window when I was left with zero dollars.

    Of course I hit up Pinterest to try and come up with a dessert recipe using what we already had in the house. After several days of worrying about it, I realized a delicious dessert was right under my nose! Picky Palate's Frozen Hot Chocolate fit the bill! While we didn't have whole milk, we did have 1% milk and half and half... Close enough! We didn't have hot chocolate either, so I decided to pull some dollars from my spending money to make this dessert happen. Thankfully, I found the perfect hot chocolate - Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. For less than $5 this was perfect!

    I loved this recipe because all I needed to purchase was hot chocolate mix - I replaced whole milk for part half and half and 1% milk. We happened to have heavy whipping cream and little chocolate chips. Perfect!

    Salted Caramel Frozen Hot Chocolate
    via Picky Palate

    5 packets of salted caramel hot chocolate
    2 cups of ice
    1 cup whole milk (half and half/1% worked great for me)
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips

    Pour milk and hot chocolate packets into the blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend until somewhat smooth - don't overblend. Whip heavy cream with sugar until creamy. Pour chocolate into 4 cups - be sure there is a plate under the cups to catch overflow. Spoon whipped cream on top and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Eat and enjoy!

    Note: Next time I'll probably make caramel and top with caramel, salt, and chocolate chips.
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    Valentine's Day 2012

     Jarrod and I typically stay in to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays and have a delicious meal in our own home. This year's Valentine's Day was no different. It was convenient because we didn't need to schedule a babysitter, find clothes to fit, or do any preparations to leave the house - no reservations necessary! We budgeted about $40 for dinner, dessert, and a bottle of wine - far less than we would have spent at a fancy restaurant. Jarrod was in charge of the meal and I handled the wine and dessert. Neither of us knew what the other was preparing, so it was especially fun.

    Our first year married Jarrod kicked me out of the house all day on Valentine's Day so that he could prepare. Thankfully, he didn't do that this year! Wesley had a rough afternoon (kid REFUSES to nap!) so it was nice to sit with Wesley and chat with Jarrod while he made dinner.

    Jarrod was so excited about the meal he was preparing... and once we sat down, it was easy to tell why! He prepared a delicious spread of cedar plank salmon, fried rice with ginger, garlic, and mushrooms, and prosciutto wrapped asparagus.

    The fried rice was an adaptation of Jarrod's standard recipe. Rather than adding egg and meat, he stuck with baby bella mushrooms, green onions, garlic, and ginger. Delicious!

    Jarrod has done cedar plank fish before, but this was hands down the best I've ever had. I'll give you the recipes later this week, but he did something new that made a big difference. The prosciutto wrapped asparagus had a delicious addition to the standard - cream cheese! Again, recipe will come, but trust me when I say this veggie side was incredibly delicious and deceptively easy!
    For dessert I adapted the frozen hot chocolate recipe bouncing around on pinterest from Picky Palate. My addition included salted caramel, one of Jarrod's favorites. You can check out this delicious recipe later today! We enjoyed dessert cuddling with Wesley on the couch rather than sophisticated at the table, which was fine with us! My favorite part was when Jarrod said, "Have I ever told you you're my best friend? I've been thinking about it and you are. And the best part is that you can't go anywhere." Super sweet.

    I hope that you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!
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    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Wesley's Photo Shoot

    On Sunday afternoon Wesley and I had his one month photo shoot. He was officially one month and one day, but he was very cranky on Saturday so I decided to put it off until Sunday. He was in a great mood after church so I got some great shots.

    I decided rather than doing weekly shots, like Young House Love, to do monthly shots. Taking our weekly maternity shots was challenging and doing shots with Wesley would be even harder. I thought I could do some really great monthly shots in Jarrod's guitar case. It can track his growth but can also accommodate for a little one month old and a wiggly growing boy. He can sit, lounge, lay down, etc. as he gets bigger. I bought a pack of 0-3 month onesies - long sleeved and white - so we can at least be consistent because he can always get larger onesies.

    I love the red in the guitar case. It casts an interesting shadow on Wesley, but I don't mind. Here are some of my favorites from the weekend photo shoot.

    I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out and look forward to taking his monthly pictures each month until at least he turns one!
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    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Happy Valentine's Day

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    And my heart exploded...

    It's completely appropriate for me to share this story with you on Valentine's Day. This is a story about love - a story that started back in 2004 when I met a super awesome family. 

    One of the greatest days we've had since Wesley's birth was when he got to meet some very dear friends of mine. We drove north about an hour for him to meet three of my favorite children in the whole world. Perhaps you remember them from our wedding:
    I've known those little ones since before anyone knew they'd be twins. Their mom is one of my dearest friends. We have been through a lot together - my life has changed and her family has journeyed with me through many life transitions. I lived with them for a while and came over daily for a long time, especially after the babies were born. I was in the waiting room when the twins were born. I met this family when their eldest had just turned one.
    They are my family. In fact, our son was named after three people - John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and this guy:
    When our little Wesley was born I was completely torn on his name. We had Wesley and Nolan picked out. I hoped I'd immediately know what to name our little one, but I didn't know. I wanted time to get to know our baby before naming him. Thankfully, Jarrod and my sister were thinking clearly and almost immediately named him Wesley. Once I held him I was reminded of when this guy was born and knew we had a Wesley too.

    The kids were so good with Wesley - they were excited, sweet, and in awe of the sweet baby. My heart exploded when I took this picture:
    I get tears in my eyes just looking at this picture. My heart is so full. I am so thankful that Wesley has so many people in his life that love him. I am thrilled that some of those people are related by blood and some are related by choice. There aren't any kids better than these three. Check out the girls with their newest Wesley:
    I cannot believe how sweet they were with him...and how good he was! He just looked up at them. It won't be long before he's chasing them around the yard!
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    Monday, February 13, 2012

    A Day in the Life...

    I love reading about other people's lives and while my life is fairly uneventful right now, I thought it might be interesting to share what I do for a full day. I got this ideas from Amy's Finer Things and am linking up with Simply Rebekah. Just your average Wednesday with a little man who turned 4 weeks today!

    Wednesday officially began at 2:20am when Wesley woke up to eat. I fed him, changed him, and put him back in the pack 'n play where he sleeps at the end of our bed. I fell back to sleep around 3am.
    4:40am - Wesley's hungry again. I pull him into bed to feed him. He goes back to sleep around 5am.
    7:20am - Wesley's crying again. He feeds and I pass him off to Jarrod around 8am and go back to sleep for a little while.
    9:30am - Jarrod and Wesley are watching TV in the other room when I wake up. I make the bed and go make breakfast before Wesley's ready to eat again. I eat a bowl of oatmeal while Jarrod changes Wesley.
    10am - Wesley eats until 10:30am. When he's done eating I put him in his swing while I pump in the nursery. The pumping experience is less than stellar. I can normally get 3 ounces or so but because Wes has fed so frequently I can't even get a full ounce. Hopefully I'll have more luck later today.

    11am - After I pumped it was time for Wesley's bath! Jarrod and I worked together to get our boy clean. He absolutely hates taking a bath so I try to make sure the water is warm enough and cover him with a wet wash cloth so he doesn't get cold.
    After his bath we dried him off, lotioned him up, and got him dressed.

    I was itching to try on his overalls again - they are newborn, but were huge when I tried them on about 2 weeks ago. Lucky us, they fit perfectly today!

    Seriously, he looks like a little man! I love it.
    11:30am - I took a shower while Jarrod watched Wesley and researched health insurance for the boys. To add Jarrod and Wesley (or just one of them) to my plan would cost us over $1,000 - we're adding Wesley to Jarrod's policy. But Jarrod's policy had a very high deductible and we weren't comfortable with that for Wesley, so after some research, we're good to go!
    11:45am - Time to feed Wesley again! While I'm feeding Wes I call a friend back to schedule lunch tomorrow and talk about insurance with Jarrod.
    12:15pm - Lunch time for Jarrod and I! I have spaghetti squash and marinara. Wesley has gotten very fussy and refuses to be put down. We try to ignore his cries while we eat.
    12:45pm - Jarrod leaves for work and Wesley screams. I put him in his swing again in hopes that it will calm him down - nothing else is working. He cries for a few minutes and then settles down, eventually falling asleep. While he sleeps, I work. I am on maternity leave but I respond to e-mails and get some things done for upcoming events whenever I can. I try not to work more than a few hours a day.

    1:55pm - Talk to my sister for a while. She's getting married in a month and of course now is the time for some serious family drama to go down.
    2:45pm - Begin to wonder if Wesley is EVER going to wake up. He hasn't eaten in about 3 hours so I start to wake him, change his diaper and get him ready to eat.
    3:05pm - Wesley is starving and eats for about 30 minutes.
    3:45pm - Head to Babies R Us to look at carseats and pick up some things.
    4:20pm - Stop at the church and visit for a while. Hang out with Jarrod while he eats dinner. Feed Wesley so he can make it through our Target trip without a scream-fest.
    5:15pm - Head out to Target for some gifts and other items.
    6:20pm - Arrive home and feed Wesley.
    6:45pm - Make green smoothies for the next few days and eat dinner. Get some work done.
    7pm - Play with an alert little man. We read stories, I pump some more, and we play.
    When I am done pumping (got another few ounces), I change Wesley and put him in his jammies.

    7:30pm - I hop in a warm bath for a few minutes.
    7:45pm - Feed Wesley.
    8:10pm - Read books and rock in the rocking chair.
    8:45pm - Daddy's home! Wesley smiles when he hears Jarrod's voice. We talk about our days and Jarrod makes whipped cream to go with our brownies.
    9:05pm - Jarrod gets ready for bed and I feed Wesley. We continue to chat about life.
    9:30pm - Top Chef time! We enjoy our brownies with whipped cream (I seriously didn't get a picture...) and cuddle on the couch with Wesley.
    10:30pm - Get in bed and feed Wesley. Pray it is for the last time today! While I feed Jarrod writes down a memory from the day in Wesley's book. When he's done eating, we pray and put Wesley to bed. He's out by 11:15pm or so, after a couple of paci retrievals.

    Thankfully Wesley sleeps until about 3am! Day is done. It's not an exciting life and I didn't get near as many pictures as I would have liked (definitely not one an hour...), but that's my day on Wesley's 4 week birthday. I am so grateful for the time to spend with him before I go back to work next month. It's difficult, but a beautiful time.
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    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Wesley's One Month Photo Shoot

    Wesley is one month old! He likes looking around, has started to smile in response to things, and is getting so big! He sleeps for about 2-4 hours at a time at night, averaging 3 hours at a time and about 2-3 feedings through the night. He likes swinging in his swing and playing on his piano play mat. He has taken a few bottles and doesn't have any trouble with the Dr. Browns bottles. We estimate Wesley weighs about 9.5 pounds. He is wearing 0-3 month clothes but most of them are still a little bit big. He likes the Moby and we use that nearly every time we leave the house. He fits in the baby Bjorn and I imagine we'll stat using that one soon as well. Wesley is great in the car and running short errands. He loves church and relaxes during the contemporary service.

    I am dreading going back to work next month but am thrilled with the time to spend with Wesley. Jarrod is working, but we visit him often and spend as much time together as we can. Lucy is getting used to Wesley but still doesn't like when he cries at all. Wesley is very serious and spends most of his awake time looking around and figuring things out. He gets the hiccups a lot, just like he did before he was born!

    Wesley hates going to sleep and fights it until he can't take it anymore and completely crashes. He doesn't wake up quickly either - it takes him a lot time to wake up...just like Jarrod!
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    Friday, February 10, 2012

    One month old!

    I cannot believe my little man is one month old. On one hand time has gone by faster than I could ever imagine and on the other hand it feels like he got here yesterday. We have loved getting to know Wesley over the past month. The day before he was born we didn't even know if we had a son or daughter, now we know his little personality.

    Here are some thoughts and observations about Wesley:
    He goes from calm and content to freaking out insane in a split second.
    He fights going to sleep and takes a long time to wake up - just like daddy!
    He hates getting his diaper changed and getting a bath because he likes to be warm and snuggly.
    He loves being in the Moby wrap and is really good at church.
    He has beautiful deep blue eyes and the most awesome brown hair ever.
    He outgrew newborn diapers and newborn clothes at about 2.5-3 weeks. He's growing into 0-3 month stuff now.
    He loves the rockin' music of the contemporary service,
    He loves to go for walks in the stroller or the Moby and is really good if he's moving around.
    He's been to Target nearly a dozen times - and is so good!
    Some nights he sleeps 4-5 hours straight and some nights he can't make it an hour without feeding.
    He's starting to smile in response to things, not just at random.
    He follows us with his eyes and focuses on us when we talk to him.
    He adores his dog Pedro.
    Wesley has lots of nicknames - Wesmonster, Wesley Messley, Wes the Mess, Cuddle Bug, Bubba, Cuddle Bunny, the Wes Man and when he's especially fussy he gets the full name - Wesley Daniel!

    I cannot believe that Jarrod and I have a son that is one month old. Time has flown by. We are figuring out how to be parents but are loving life. Life is hard, parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done and we're just getting started. Part of me cannot wait for Wesley to start laughing, holding his head up consistently, and talk. The other part of me cannot believe he's one month old already - he's getting so big! We love our little man more and more each day and love each other in new and different ways because of him.
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    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Five Year Goals

    Jarrod and I have always been fairly good at making longer term goals in the midst of our short-term goals. We know that having plans for the future and figuring out how to get those goals will make us successful in living the life we've always wanted. Now that we've expanded our family, our longer term goals are even more important to us.

    This is the second year in a row that we've made yearly goals. Seeing progress and being held accountable (by you!) helps remember to strive toward these goals every day, not just in January and December. We haven't made firm 5 year goals, but now that we have Wesley, I'd like to write down the goals we've tossed around over the past few weeks.

    In 5 years we will be 35, Wesley will be heading towards kindergarten, and we'll be in a different place financially.

    Here are some of our 5 year goals:

    • Have an intelligent, well-rounded 5 year old boy who is prepared to start kindergarten. 
    • Consistently pray together as a family
    • Eat dinner as a family at least 5 days a week
    • Cook together, trying new recipes and maintaining a healthy and whole life
    • Have regular family dates and mom and dad date nights
    • Add to our family - perhaps a dog, adoption, or another biological child...or all three!
    • Jarrod would like to be ordained in 5 years and I'd like to be pursuing some from of continuing education/teaching opportunity
    • Maintain a healthy weight through eating nutritious meals and regular exercise
    • Continue to work on our marriage by spending quality time together
    • Cultivate social life by sending time with friend, as a couple, a family, and individuals
    • Become debt free, save a 3 month emergency fund, save a down payment for a home, purchase a home, save an additional 3 month emergency fund (bringing our total up to 6 months), save 15% of income towards retirement and fund college fund(s). 
    • Continuing tithing to our local church
    • Give to those who have need - corporately or individually
    • Continue supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure through the 3-day
    We have smaller goals in place to help us reach these larger goals. It can be incredibly daunting to think about eating dinner together as a family 5 nights a week if we weren't eating any dinners together, cooking together healthy meals most nights, or tithing to our church - with these goals we plan to maintain. Our financial goals are part of our plan to financial freedom and following Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps.

    Thinking 5 years out with a plan can seem overwhelming - having a 5 year old terrifies me! - but it's also freeing. We have a plan and have control. Things will go wrong, everything won't work out the way we've planned, life with change and our priorities will change too. But I am thankful that we have a 5 year plan to help us stay on track of the things we can control. We are going through life with purpose and direction. This will help us achieve the life we've always wanted - and we're confident that life will be even better than we're planning!
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      Wednesday, February 8, 2012

      Thumbprint Designs

      Have you checked out Thumbprint Designs? I've had Skye's shop button on the side of my blog for a while now but I've never told you why. Skye and I met officially a few months ago at a very dear friend's funeral. Skye's husband went to seminary with Jarrod and I. Skye and her husband are very good friends with our very good friends, Jared and Alina.  Skye is also the mastermind behind Thumbprint Designs.

      I love the new collegiate cards that Skye created over the holidays. Check out the cards she has for some of our favorite colleges:
      Super cute, right? Perfect little gift for your favorite graduate, alumni, or college student. I conveniently chose to highlight A&M and OSU for some of my favorite people. :-)
       Looking for something to go with these notecards? Check out the college subway art Skye created!

      My favorite items in her shop are her upcycled wooden signs. These would make the perfect gift because Skye can do it all! Here are some of my favorites:

      Jarrod and I have a very special event coming up and we are going to have Skye create a unique and meaningful gift for us to give. Skye is creative, great to work with, and genuinely awesome. If you need a custom gift for someone this year, be sure to check out Thumbprint Designs. You will not be disappointed.

      Full disclosure: While I do think Skye is awesome, this post is in hopes of driving the most traffic to her shop this month!
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      Tuesday, February 7, 2012

      What would I do?

      Since Wesley arrived I've thought a lot about what I'd do the day before he came if I knew when he would arrive. We did have a full week post-due date to go on dates, sleep through the night, and spend time together - I do not feel like I missed out on anything before he arrived.

      But there are a few things I'd do if I knew when he would arrive...
      1. Get my haircut - I thought about getting my hair cut the week before Wesley came. I was long overdue for a haircut but never got around to it. Now I don't think I'll ever get my hair cut again...  This could also include a massage, pedicure, manicure, etc. Something that requires an hour or two of being alone.
      2. Go to lunch with a friend - I spent great time with my husband before Wesley, but I would have spent more time out with friends.
      3. Take a long bath - Is an explanation really needed?
      4. Read a good book - I can't remember the last time I picked up a book... Even Jarrod has stopped reading. Wesley's just so much more entertaining. 
      5. Go see a movie in the theatre - I don't know when we'll do this again and wish we'd done it before. 
      Overall being a mother is incredible. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, hands down and it's only been 4 weeks. :-) I am loving most minutes and cannot imagine my life without Wesley.

      Are you waiting on a little one and wondering what to do with your anxious in between time? Are you a mom who has advice to share? I'm listening!
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      Monday, February 6, 2012

      Welsey's Open House

      In order to protect our family time, we told our friends that we'd have everyone over once Wesley was about a week old. We got the idea from other friends and thought it would give us some peace the first week we were home as a family.

      Throughout that first week I thought about the idea to have an open house one afternoon for Wesley. The thought completely terrified me. I could barely take a shower an get myself dressed, let alone make sure my house was clean, food was prepared, and Wesley wasn't fussy! How could we ever entertain guests?!

      Then my dad and his wife decided to make a visit to meet Wesley. They were scheduled to be here for a weekend when Wesley was 2.5 weeks old. They love entertaining and knew they would be a huge help if we decided to have a party for Wesley. We asked if they'd be up for it and they thought it was a great idea! Excellent!

      I have to give Jarrod credit for coming up with the idea to host the open house when they were visiting. It was a genius idea and worked out really well. Having an extra set of hands was crucial for my sanity if nothing else.

      The party was awesome. Sadly, I didn't get any photos of the actual party, but I did want to share our casual, simple, and delicious menu. First, the spread:

      We made salted caramel brownies, corn dip with veggies, cheesy spinach and bacon nacho dip, soft sugar cookies (with piped 'W's), pigs in a blanket, guacamole, apple dip, fritos, tortilla chips, sodas, and water. We (embarassingly) still have dessert plates, napkins, and plastic cups left over from our wedding 2.5 years ago. Thankfully we had a boy so the blue and brown theme went really well.

      Everything was relatively easy. I made the cookies over two days the week before the party. I made the dough, let it set, baked the cookies, made the frosting, frosted the cookies, let them sit, and then piped them with a W. It took a few hours, but I spread it out over two days, so it was manageable. We made the corn dip the night before because it's best after it's had time to sit. I made the brownies a few days before the party as well. I let them sit in the fridge for a day or so to make them easier to cut, which was awesome. We made the apple dip the morning of the party and allowed it to sit in the fridge until just before people arrived. Jarrod cooked up the bacon the morning of the party as well and once it was done we threw all the ingredients for the cheesy spinach bacon dip into the crock pot to cook.

      We cut the veggies and the apples right before people arrived. My dad made the guacamole then as well so that it wasn't brown when people arrived. We had canned sodas in a cooler with ice on the floor next to the table. We actually forgot about the pigs in a blanket until after people arrived, but my dad put those in the oven and they disappeared very quickly. We served them with mustard and barbecue sauce - we don't ever have ketchup in the house, but I'm not sure why. The BBQ sauce was delicious!

      Wesley had a great time meeting his church family and our friends. We are so blessed to have such wonderful, loving people in our lives to love our child!
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