Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Adventures in Baby Food

If you follow us on Instagram, you know we recently started Wesley on solid/pureed foods. I waited until our 6 month appointment to speak with our pediatrician about starting Wesley on solid foods. After sleeping through the night (11-12 hours!) for about 2 months, he started waking at least twice through the night. I cannot complain because I know how lucky we are that Wesley was sleeping through the night at all, but it was really cramping my style!
After receiving the green light from the doctor, we got to making baby food! We started with a few easy ones - bananas and avocado. We bought some baby cereal, mixed that with breast milk, and fed him some cereal with a little mashed fruit or veggie.
I knew I would make our own baby food. A dear friend of mine told me how she made baby food for her kiddos and they would literally eat anything. She credited homemade baby food! I want a kid who will eat anything and if making his food will help assist in this, fantastic! Not only that, but it's more healthy, cheaper, and super easy!

Lucy likes Wesley a little more after a mishap with some mangoes...

I decided I'm going to make baby food about once a month and freeze it. Here's what I do:

1) Prepare the food. Peel carrots, poke holes in the sweet potato, etc.

2) Cook the vegetable or fruit. Steaming is best in retaining the most nutrients. I steam carrots in my rice cooker and bake sweet potatoes. I also love veggies and fruits that don't need to be cooked like bananas and avocados!

3) Puree! I use a small food processor and add a little water to get a nice consistency.

4) Freeze. I spoon small amount of puree into ice cube trays, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until solid.

5) Remove cubes and put into storage container. I use freezer ziplock bags. The sandwich sized bags are perfect for 5-10 cubes and don't take up much freezer space.

6) Grab a cube, defrost (it doesn't take long at all because they are so small), and feed! You can add milk or oatmeal to get the desired consistency.

Obviously we aren't experts yet, but this process has worked great for us so far! It makes baby food cheap, easy, and simple. It took Wesley a few days to get the hang of eating off a spoon, but now he's a champ. So far he's had bananas, mango, avocado, apple sauce, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Once we run low on a few of those I plan to try squash, green beans, pumpkin, peas and pears.

What's your baby eating?
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Candied Bacon {the greatest food ever}

What a fantastic way to start a Monday! What is better than bacon?? We love bacon around here. I don't know if we love it as much as Katie Bower, but we do love bacon. We even spend the big bucks to buy the thick cut bacon because we've learned that it's just worth the month.

As an excuse to eat bacon, we have breakfast for dinner (or brinner) at least once a month. This normally means french toast, bacon, fritata, or egg casserole. Sometimes it means left over tortillas, salsa and a fried egg. It's normally at the end of the month and uses up some of the things we always have on hand. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Jarrod makes the most delicious bacon ever. I like my bacon really crispy with nearly all the fat rendered out. We've found the best way to do that is to bake it in the oven on a rack. We've used a broiler pan, but this time we went with a cooling rack on a cookie sheet lined with silpat. This is a great trick to get deliciously crispy bacon. And if that's where you choose to stop, that's fantastic. But if you want to take your bacon up a notch, keep reading because your world is about to be rocked.
Candied Bacon
by Jarrod Johnston

full package of thick cut bacon, cut in half (we used half a package)
1/4 cup brown sugar, or enough to coat the surface of the bacon
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder, just enough to give a little heat
Set your oven to 375 degrees. Mix the brown sugar and chili powder in a large bowl. Add the bacon slices mix it in the bowl so that the mixture coats the bacon without becoming too thick.
You need a pan with a rim to catch the bacon fat. Be sure that the pan is also lined with aluminum foil or silpat because the fat/sugar mixture gets very hot. 
 Lay the bacon on a rack - cooling rack, broiling pan, etc. - and bake for about 20 minutes or until done. If you want your bacon super crispy like me, you might want to go to 23 minutes. If you prefer your bacon a little more chewy, stop at 20 minutes.

This bacon is killer amazing. It is crispy, sweet, savory, with a little kick from the chili powder. As deliciously fantastic as bacon is, this easy preparation takes bacon to an entirely new level.

Are you a bacon fan? Give this a try!
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Friday, July 27, 2012

How does your garden grow?

I'm a bit of a hippie and wish we had a huge garden full of all the veggies and fruits we buy. I also wish we had chickens for fresh eggs. But we rent our home and have a wonderful, but very small backyard. We also have full-time jobs and a baby. But when I have chickens and a huge, lush garden I'll have figured out how to survive on 3 hours of sleep and Wesley will be able to dig, put away dishes, and vacuum.

Back to reality...

I've been thinking a lot about gardening lately. I know it's completely the wrong time in Texas to think about gardening, but I'm hopeful that someday it won't be 105 degrees. A few days ago I discovered Smart Gardener. Enter even more enthusiasm for gardening! It's definitely not the right time to plant, but it's plenty early to dream!

I'm ready to plant tomatoes, squash, lettuce, carrots, and peppers. I'm excited to be able to cook with veggies from our garden. I've been moderately successful with herbs in the past and feel such a sense of accomplishment when I make pesto with fresh basil from the backyard. How cool would it be to have pumpkins for halloween that we grow in our garden!?

With Wesley eating vegetables and fruits now, being able to provide him with organic food homegrown would make me feel really good. Of course, this might be completely impossible considering I've never been able to grow anything...

I've looked at a few different options for garden but probably won't put much time or effort into anything until we purchase a home in 2013. Once we settle somewhere, I'll be able to feel good the investment.

I even set up a garden pinboard. Follow along there as I figure out what I'm going to plant!

Do you garden? How does your garden grow?
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

A New Look

If you subscribe via a reader, I encourage you to click over to our actual site today. I've been working hard on a redesign of www.cookinwiththejohnstons.com and am rolling things out today! I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm still tweaking things and looking for errors, so please let me know if you find something!

We like this new design because it's clean and bright. We hope you like it!
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Debt Freedom Wish-list

I love dreaming about a day when we are debt free. We currently put nearly 50% of our income towards debt-repayment with the hope of being debt free as quickly as possible. We cut expenses in nearly every way possible. On our recent road trip, I welcomed Jarrod into this dream and asked what 5 things he'd do once we are debt free. I'm talking small changes - not purchase a home, get a new car, etc.

Here's my list:
1. Hire a cleaning person - Because I work outside the home and we have 2 cats and a dog, our house is always messy. We have Johnston Family Cleaning Nights, but time at home as a family is very precious. I'd love to have someone come every 2 weeks or so to really do deep cleaning.
2. Give more - I'd love to be able to purchase fantastic "just because" gifts for friends and family. I see the perfect gift and take a picture with my phone to text to my friends because that's about the best I can do. I'd love to be able to make the purchase and give fantastic gifts whenever I want to. I'd also love to be able to pay for someone's meal, leave big tips, and have people over to eat more without worrying about the cost.
3. Increase the decorating budget - I love decorating blogs, crafting, and making our home look beautiful. Unfortunately, that's an area of the budget that is very slim. I have dreams of redecorating our office, building a desk, and making more curtains for our home. Someday!
4. Taking classes - I'd love to take a photography class to learn more about how to effectively use our DSLR. I have read a lot online, but would love some hands-on tutoring. I'd also enjoy a cake-decorating class or two!
5. Regular pampering - Who doesn't want to be pampered? Getting nice haircuts, pedicures, massages, etc. is an easy expense to cut. When we're debt free, I'd like to increase my superfluous spending budget in order to get a massage or pedicure every once and a while. And my eye-brows waxed! What a luxury that would be!

Jarrod's list:
1. Increase the eating out budget - Jarrod wants to be able to eat out at a fancy restaurant one a month or so. Right now our budget doesn't allow for us to eat out much at all, let alone at a nice restaurant. We don't mind eating at home, but Jarrod would love to try some really nice restaurants!
2. Increase our grocery budget - Along the same lines, Jarrod wants to be able to cook some more complicated things - fish, meats, etc. Things we cut out because they are too expensive.
3. Replacing cookware - We've piecemealed our kitchen pots and pans. Most of it is left over from Jarrod's bachelor days and it desperately needs to be replaced.
4. Increasing our blow money - We currently each receive $40 or so each month. We spend that on eating lunch out at work occasionally, clothes, and other personal incidentals. It doesn't leave much room for saving for bigger purchases. With a little more room in the budget, we could spend more money on fun things for ourselves.
5. Gibson SG Guitar Cherry Red to match the '67 SG Bass - Jarrod has been talking about this guitar for years. He has guitars and frankly, I don't know what makes this guitar better than any of the others except it will match the bass...but you can't play a bass and a guitar at the same time... but, that's what he wants and someday that will be what he gets!

What would you do if you have an increase in your expendable income?
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Baby Beignet meets Louisiana

This post is long overdue. We took Wesley to Louisiana to meet his Louisiana family for the 4th of July. We visited our old offices and church, ate delicious food, and enjoyed time with some of our favorite people in the world. Wesley wore his Beignet shirt for the occasion! 


Meeting so many people really wore him out! He took a little nap with our pastor friend!
We learned on this trip that Wesley LOVES puppies. Our Lucy doesn't really love Wesley, but these boxer puppies would lick Wesley all over and he loved it. Sometimes he would get overwhelmed, but most of the time he loved being licked and would watch the puppies play.
We fed the ducks in Baton Rouge on the 4th of July. Wesley didn't really understand it and it was difficult for me to capture a really good shot, but Jarrod and I had a lot of fun!
Wesley's hair went a little crazy in Louisiana... The humidity makes it wild!
This is Wesley's Louisiana grandma. He LOVED meeting her and she thinks he's pretty great too!
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Cloth Diaper Week - Your Questions Answered!

We are wrapping things up here with Cloth Diaper Week! Just a little recap:

First, if you haven't already, I encourage you to check out my cloth diapering journey. This post is especially helpful for those of you looking to start cloth diapering. Other posts that here helpful in my research process include:
Be sure to check out the other posts available during Cloth Diaper Week.

On Monday, Suzy said, "it sounds like you didn't start with cloth diapers immediately (and we're thinking we might not initially, either). When did you decide to start and why/how did you know to switch over?"

We didn't start cloth diapering immediately. Because we chose to use one-size diapers, we opted to wait until Wesley was about 10 pounds. This happened when he was about 6 weeks old. Honestly, this gave us time to get used to the idea of having a baby,  breast feeding, lack of sleep, etc. By the time Wesley was 6 weeks old I was capable of trying something new. This gave time for the meconium to pass and Wesley wasn't wetting 24 million diapers a day. It took a little longer for us to feel comfortable to leave the house with cloth diapers. Eventually we started leaving the house without disposables and now we can travel for 3-4 days without disposables! It's a process - you don't need to go all in at the same time.

Suzy's question was the only real question I got this week but I decided to answer common questions that I get asked regularly.

How often do you do a load of diapers? How long does it take for them to dry?
Washing the diapers is something people balk at all the time. We haven't found washing to be trying at all. We do about 2-3 loads of diapers a week or about every other day. This allows us to dry the diapers on the drying rack in the sun rather than in the dryer. Here in Texas, they can dry in the sun in just a few hours. A wetter or cooler climate would require more dry time. 

Do they leak? Are there lots of blow-outs? Does he get diaper rash?
They do leak on occasion. Usually alerting me that they need to be stripped. Sometimes they leak just like a disposable would leak. They do contain the poop, which is awesome. We're still working on the best washing, drying, and cleaning routine to be sure that we're getting the most out of our diapers to eliminate the leaks. We do not experience diaper rash hardly at all. He gets a rash much more frequently in disposables.

We are now washing exclusively in Charlie's Soap Laundry Liquid and using Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion on our cloth wipes. 


Do you have other cloth diapering questions? 
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cloth Diaper Week - ABCs and 123s of Cloth Diapering


It's already Thursday of Cloth Diaper Week! Be sure to check out the other posts in cloth diaper week. Today we're going to cover some of the basics of cloth diapering. Because many others have done this, I'm going to skip over some details. Please check out Sherry and John's post about cloth diapering Clara, All of Rachel's incredible advice at Intentionally Simple, Heather's review of cloth diapers, and  Diana's cloth diapering experiences to learn more from others. If you're interested in my experiences, check out these posts also.

A is for All-in-One. All in one diapers are just what they sound like - they are diapers that have everything all together. There aren't different parts, the diaper is just one piece. Several different diaper companies make all-in-ones (AIOs) including BumGenius, GroVia, and Thirsties. These diapers are great because they are easy and so similar to disposables. Other types of cloth diapers include pockets (covers and inserts, like we use), and prefolds (think: the kind of diapers your mom and grandma used).

B is for boys. I knew before we had Wesley that I wanted to try cloth diapering. I did a lot of research but knew that once our baby arrived, we'd need to see if it worked for us. Every baby is different and different brands work for different babies. This is especially true, as I've discovered, for boys. Sometimes it seems like Wesley has the magical power of getting his clothes wet while his diaper stays completely dry. We go through phases where one diaper works better than the others, but the next week everything is different. I imagine this is true with disposable diapering, but it's worth saying. Give different brands a try because you never know what will work for your baby. Another point - cloth diapering gives us the option to adjust the absorbancy to where we need it - in the front!

C is for care. Caring for cloth diapers is important. We soak our diapers in warm water (we've heard lots of things about soaking hot or cold, but ultimately went with warm because we read that it's the best for waste and that works for us!) before washing hot in a natural detergent. We've used baby detergent, homemade detergent, and have ultimately settled on Charlie's Soap Laundry. We also dry our diapers on a drying rack in the sun. If it's raining and we're hurting for diapers, we have been known to dry them in the dryer, but we try not to do that often. Drying in the sun not only helps bleach the inserts clean, but also keeps the diapers newer longer. We want to be sure our diapers survive Wesley and potential future Johnston babies!

1 is for One-size. We opted to skip the newborn cloth diapers and go directly to the one-size diapers. There are excellent sized diapers, but we're cheap people and decided we wanted to purchase one set of diapers rather than 3-4. One size diapers are intended to fit babies at about 10 pounds (some say 8 pounds, but we didn't experience diapers fitting Wesley at 8 pounds) until potty training or 35 pounds. The snaps or hook & loop closures give a great fit on the one-size diapers.

2 is for the number of inserts we use for overnight. We've found that the two inserts that came with our Fuzzi Bunz are perfect for overnight. Being able to adjust the absorbancy for overnight is fantastic to ensure that we wake up to a happy baby and not a wet bed. Although we do have leaks, being able to have two inserts for overnight is perfect for us.

3 is for the number of covers we go through on an average day. Without a huge poop, Wesley tends to go through about 3 covers (either Flip or GroVia) per day. We put Wesley in a completely new diaper first thing in the morning, obviously. By noon or so, that cover is wet and we change him into a new cover. By the late afternoon it's time for another cover. We will change the cover also if he's been outside for an extended period of time or if we've had to leave him in the diaper for more than a couple of hours. If we change the pads regularly, the covers usually don't need to be changed more than 3 times during the day. Of course, pending a huge poop - the covers never survive a big poop!


What kind of cloth diapers do you like? Are you overwhelmed with the different kinds of diapers? Leave your questions here so I can answer your questions on day 5 of cloth diaper week!
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cloth Diaper Week - Dad's Perspective

Be sure to check out the other posts in cloth diaper week

When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to cloth diaper. Jarrod was not excited at all. He didn't know anything about cloth diapering except what he'd heard from people the age of our parents. He hadn't scoured hundreds of blogs about different cloth diapering options, the money we'd save by not buying disposable diapers, and how turbo cute cloth diapers are. I did my best to give him the needed information about cloth diapering without overwhelming him. Most of all, I told him we'd just give it a try and see how it goes.

When Wesley was about 6 weeks old, we made the jump to cloth diapers. We started slowly - when Jarrod was home I gave him a pass to use disposables. One day I came home from an errand and Wesley was in a cloth diaper - Jarrod had made the jump over to cloth diapers! From that day we've been completely devoted to cloth diapering.

My first week back at work I came home to a drying rack of diapers. Jarrod had not only washed the diapers, but he hung them in the sun to dry. He's now the primary diaper-washer in our house. It's awesome!

I've heard from several dads who, like Jarrod, are reluctant to take the leap to cloth diapering. In order to help other dads discover the wonder of cloth diapering today we're going to hear from Jarrod. I'd asked Jarrod to write a blog post about cloth diapering a few months ago. When it didn't happen, I decided I should take things into my own hands and just write it myself.

Q. What were you most afraid of when we started cloth diapering?
Cleaning. Keeping the diapers clean and dealing with that nasty. I wasn't sure what they were and 20 years ago they were pre-fold diapers with plastic covers and safety pins. I didn't know it would be as simple as it is.

Q. What is the easiest part of cloth diapering?
I hate taking out the garbage and there's a lot less of that than there would be. (Plus the saved money and benefit of saving the planet)

Q. What is the hardest part of cloth diapering?
For whatever reason, sometimes they just don't seem to work. We go through phases where one kind of diaper won't work for a week or two and then they are great again. It might be fit, but it's very frustrating. It makes me glad we have more than one kind. I imagine that happens with disposables too, though.

Q. How much time do you spend cloth diapering a week that you wouldn't spend with disposables? (cleaning, stuffing, etc)
I'm sure it's more time-consuming when you add in laundering them. You have to launder them with the right process so they are sanitary and don't stink or stain. I wouldn't call it a hassle or anything though. We split the time pretty evenly and I probably do a load or two a week - depending on the week. It's hard to quantify time.

Q. What's your favorite part of cloth diapering?
I don't know, I guess we just have fun changing diapers, so that's always fun. Wesley has fun and we have time to chat. It's not the quickest process so I make the best of it by hanging out with my boy. The biggest benefit of cloth diapering is the financial aspect. It's all about the family budget. Disposable diapers are easier, but knowing that we've already saved several hundred dollars is a huge selling point for me. The environmental benefit is also awesome.

Q. Is it really as gross as it seems?
No, I don't think it's anymore gross than it would be with disposables. It's all gross. But it's your kid and that makes it less gross. 


Jarrod's final words: Just give it a shot. It may or may not work for your family. Ask your friends if they are using them and for help with questions. It's really not a big deal.


There you have it! I hoped to have this be a vlog (because it's about time we did one of those!) but Jarrod vetoed that idea. Jarrod is standing by to answer your toughest cloth diapering questions! Share this with your hubby and let him see that real men do cloth diaper!

Leave your questions here so I can answer them on day 5 of cloth diaper week! 
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cloth Diaper Week - Stripping

 
It's cloth diaper week! This week I'm writing all about cloth diapering. I'm taking you through some of my struggles and triumphs of cloth diapering.

First, if you haven't already, I encourage you to check out my cloth diapering journey. This post is especially helpful for those of you looking to start cloth diapering. Other posts that here helpful in my research process include:
Be sure to check out the other posts in cloth diaper week.

One of the biggest problems we've had cloth diapering is loss of absorbency. It might not happen if we used fancy cloth diaper detergent, which we are currently exploring, but it happens every few months and it's annoying. A few days ago Wesley peed through diapers, clothes, jammies, and sheets before I decided it was time to strip the inserts.

We've done this before - we put all the inserts in the dishwasher because it gets hotter than the washer...or at least I heard it does. That worked for a while but after a few months we needed to strip them again. This time I decided to try a few other things.

First I placed the (clean but not absorbent) inserts in a huge pot of hot water. I let them soak for about 30 minutes. Then I ran them through two or three super hot rise cycles in the washer. No detergent.

After the rinse cycles, I put the inserts in the dryer. I typically dry the inserts on the drying rack outside, but when stripping them, I put them in the dryer. When they were dry, they had gotten their absorbency back and were good as new!

I know there are a variety of ways to strip inserts and help them get back their absorbency again, but I've found that this is the most effective and efficient.

How do you keep your diapers clean and absorbent? Leave your questions here so I can answer them on day 5 of cloth diaper week!
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    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Cloth Diaper Week - Cloth Wipes

    It's cloth diaper week! I've done lots of research and struggled with cloth diapers for nearly 6 months. This week I am going to share everything I know! I am absolutely not an expert but I would love to share what I've learned the hard way so that cloth diapering can be that much easier for you. I'm also going to share some of my favorite cloth diaper posts and articles that really helped me.

    First, if you haven't already, I encourage you to check out my cloth diapering journey. This post is especially helpful for those of you looking to start cloth diapering. Other posts that here helpful in my research process include:
    I'll be sharing stories about cloth diapering all week. If you have specific questions, leave a comment so I can be sure to address it in this series.And be sure to check out the other posts available during Cloth Diaper Week.

    We have been cloth diapering for about 4.5 months but just recently took the plunge to cloth wipes. I did a bit of research and found a few blogs especially helpful. It was this post by Intentionally Simple that made me finally bite the bullet and make some cloth wipes. We had a whole bin of receiving blankets, including two flannel ones we got at the hospital, that I knew we'd never use. I followed Rachel's advice and got to cutting.
    I took the first receiving blanket and cut it into 16 pieces. Then I sewed two pieces together using a zig-zag stitch. Some of them I did reverse, like Rachel, and some I simply sewed together - right sides facing out. It took about 15 minutes to make 8 large wipes. I decided to wait and see how they worked before cutting into another blanket.

    After stitching, I grabbed a jar and got to mixing some wipe solution. I followed a simple recipe that I found online. (Thanks, Pinterest!)

    Cloth Wipe Solution
    1/2 cup baby oil
    1/2 cup of baby wash (we used Johnson and Johnson)
    2 cups of water

    Mix everything together in a spray bottle. Spray on wipes before use. You can also pour this solution over cloth wipes and store in an old wipe container or other air-tight container.

    At first I made this solution in a jar and thought I could just dip the wipes in it before use. This was a huge mistake. I got WAY too much solution on the wipes and it was a disaster. I quickly purchased this large spray bottle for .94 and it works much better.

    We store our cloth wipes in the top drawer just under the changing table pad and the spray bottle on the dresser for easy access. A few sprays and we're good to go! Some of the wipes are large and 2-ply while others are smaller and 1-ply. This gives us options depending on how crazy the diaper is.

    So far we haven't had any issues, but I anticipate putting up another small wet bag exclusively for wipes so we don't contaminate the diapers with the wipe solution and potentially cause them to lose absorbency.

    Do you use cloth wipes? What's your experience?
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    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Wesley's Favorite Toy

    Wesley's favorite toy right now (and has been for 2 months at least!) is the Fisher-Price Discover 'n Grow Kick and Play Piano Gym. We call it the play mat and kick piano... He has loved looking at himself in the mirror, grabbing at the toys, and playing. Now that he can roll over, he enjoys getting himself tangled up in the toys.
    Recently I decided it was time to turn the piano and sit Wesley up to play. He wasn't quite ready for sitting up alone, but he did a good job at balancing for a few photos!

    I love toys that transition as the baby learns and grows. We purchased this playmat when Wesley was 6 weeks old, I believe, and he was just old enough to be somewhat interested in it. He's played with it at least once a day since we purchased it and I am glad that he will continue to get use out of it as he sits up.

    What was your favorite toy as a child? What is your child's favorite toy?
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    Six Months

    How is it that Wesley has been here a full 6 months? Jarrod and I constantly look at each other and proclaim that we cannot imagine our lives without him. It's exciting, exhausting, and literally the most joy I've ever felt in my whole life.
    Chunk-master Wesley-pants,
    You are 6 months old today! If I could feed you cake I would. I might eat a piece today in your honor...mostly because I'm so sad that you're getting so big! When we got pregnant with you we were so excited but didn't know half the joy that you would bring to our family. It is incredible watching you learn new things and explore the world each day. You are starting to look like a little man. You got your first haircut this month. Daddy cut it at home and you did a great job. We didn't want to cut it too much and you still have a ton of hair, but now look like a little man.
    You have gotten very wiggly and while you cannot sit up unassisted yet, you do scoot backwards and I know crawling will happen before too long. You are very strong and diaper changes have become athletic. You love to roll and will roll yourself across the room to get a toy. You are outgrowing your swing but still love your play mat. You talk to your toys and the birds above your changing table. You love flirting and are very social. You sleep through the night most nights - typically from 7:30pm/8pm until about 6:30-7:30am. It's really delightful and you usually wake up in such a good mood! Your hand-eye coordination is getting much better and you're really good at grabbing at toys. Usually they go immediately into your mouth!
    This also marks 6 months of being exclusively breast-fed! We will see the doctor next week and discuss when we will add in some fruits and veggies. We hope to start introducing simple fruits and vegetables soon so you develop a taste for all sorts of foods. You grab at our food all the time and it's nearly impossible to eat with you at arms length. Daddy and I are both so excited to share our love of cooking and food with you!
    You are loud, feisty, and always on the move. You've trained us well - when you drop a toy, you scream until we get it and then you completely calm down. You love people and will watch people everywhere we go. We took you to our first Rangers game this month and you charmed everyone around us. You went to the church nursery for the first time and before you turn 7 months old you will go to day care for the first time...

    That's right - after 4 months with your wonderful and fantastic nanny, we're putting you in day care. Your sweet nanny got a fantastic teaching position and we're losing her to go teach 2nd grade. She has taken care of you just like we would if we were home. She adores you and you LOVE her. We're very sad but know that you will love being around other kids.
    You continued to travel a lot this month - you went to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. You don't LOVE your carseat, but you're a really good traveler. Even cloth diapering has gone well while traveling! Everyone at our church adores you and everyone at mommy's work loves you too. You flirt with everyone, but especially love teenaged girls. I imagine this will be a problem in a decade or so, but for now, it's very sweet.
    We have lots of fun things planned this month including another trip to Oklahoma City, your first trip to the zoo, and starting solid foods. We cannot believe how much we adore you. It's more fun than we ever thought it would be. God blessed us incredibly by allowing us to be your parents. We will do everything we can to show you how much we love you and how much you are loved by God. Sharing church with you and introducing you to your family in Christ is just about my favorite thing ever. We share in the Lord's Prayer after we pray before you fall asleep and you've started to recognize when we say it. Someday you'll join us, but for now I just love that you seem to understand.

    We love you, sweet boy!

    Love,
    Mama and Daddy

    P.S. When I asked your dad if there was anything he wanted to add to this, he said, "Stop farting so much." It's true, you do have some pretty intense farts. Just keeping it real. :-)
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    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Wesley's first pool party

    It's so hot this summer. Wesley is a very hot kid by nature. We don't have a neighborhood pool but recently decided to get a small baby pool to see if Wesley would like it. Basically it was just a glorified bath outside in his swim diaper!

    Note on his swim diaper: I read that removing the pads from his fuzzibunz would make a perfectly suitable swim diaper. Swim diapers are not intended to be absorbent, just hold in the poo. While I suppose that makes sense, it does make me question the years I spent at the community pool! Because we were just in the backyard, Wesley could have essentially gone without any diaper at all, but we opted to try this technique and had great success!
    Daddy getting the pool filled with water.
    Wesley's not too sure about this...
    He loves his rubber duckies!


    In order to be sure that we all enjoyed the pool and I wasn't plastered to a camera, I set up the tripod and used the remote to capture these photos. I'm really glad I did this because we got some great photos and I didn't need to look through a viewfinder! I tested the placement of the camera before we filled the pool and just was sure we didn't move it once I got everything set. Granted, we didn't get our heads in any of the pictures, but that wasn't really the intention...

    I know we'll continue using the pool as Wesley gets a little bigger and better at sitting up! Eventually, we know he'll love it!
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    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Babywearing

    I know babywearing is one tenants of attachment parenting. This is not a post about attachment parenting. This is just a post about babywearing. I am a big fan!

    When Wesley was little I wore him in the Moby Wrap all the time. He was in it while we ran errands or went to church until he was at least 2 months old. I got a lot of stuff done while I was on maternity leave because of the Moby. I could vacuum, put away dishes, or go for a walk with him sleeping in the wrap. I loved that he was close to me and he was mostly content in it.

    Since I went back to work I don't wear Wesley in the Moby nearly as often. We don't run errands everyday just to get out of the house. As Wesley got bigger, wearing him while going for walks became much more challenging. As RSV season ended and Wesley's immune system got stronger, I wore him less. I still love the Moby, I just don't use it as much...

    Wesley was fussy the other night and I had about 90 minutes to clean the house, vacuum, etc. I decided to break out the Moby again...
    Forgive the half-naked baby. He is wearing a diaper but it's about 110 degrees outside, so he's not wearing clothes. It's awesome to see this picture and realize how much he's grown since I wore him while we walked around the block!

    He's gotten fairly heavy for this wrap, but it still works great. If I wear him for a long time we usually oft for the Baby Bjorn, but for around the house or if Wesley needs to sleep, the Moby is fantastic!

    Do you wear your baby? What is your favorite wrap, sling, or carrier?


    *The links in this post are affiliate links, but I was not paid for my opinions nor was I asked to write this post. Moby and Baby Bjorn have no idea who I am.*
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    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Pinterest Challenge - Ooey Gooey Rocky Road Chocolate Cookies {gluten free cookies}

    I couldn't stop at just one project - I made three projects for the summer edition of the Pinterest Challenge! After I made homemade yogurt and crusty bread, I decided to make cookies. A dear friend of ours not only watched Lucy while we were out of town but she made us soup for our return. I couldn't give back her container empty, so I hit up my Yummy Desserts board and with some help from Jarrod, landed on these.
    All photos in this post were taken and published on Instagram, my new love. I'm so new, I have no idea how to tell you to follow us except that our handle is cookinwiththejohnstons. Follow us and we'll follow you back!
    Ooey Gooey Rocky Road Chocolate Cookies
    from The Ginger Snap Girl

    3 cups powdered sugar
    2/3 cup cocoa powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 tablespoon vanilla
    3 egg whites
    2 cups chocolate chips
    15-18 large marshmallows cut into quarters or 60 small marshmallows
    2.5 ounces chopped or slivered, toasted, almonds (to toast almonds, heat oven to 350 and place almonds on foil lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes) - I omited

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Whisk in salt. Add vanilla and egg whites and whip until creamy. Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts).

    Scoop out 24 medium-sized cookies on a parchment (or silpat) -lined cookie sheet. The silpat worked GREAT for these cookies. Place 3-4 marshmallow pieces or mini marshmallows on each cookie. Put the cookie sheets in the freezer for about 5 minutes or the fridge for about 20. This helps the cookies not spread too much during baking.

    Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly golden brown.

    I'm sad to say that I forgot to snap a picture of the finished product. They looked incredible. The marshmallows flattened out and were a delicious golden brown. The chocolate chips got creamy and gooey. Nuts would have been a good add because they could have cut some of the gooey sweetness, but even without them they are delicious! 

    Be sure to check out my other Pinterest Challenge projects: Homemade Yogurt and Crusty Bread! And pop over to the lovely hosts of this Pinterest Challenge and check out their projects: Young House Love, Bower Power, Ten June, and Centsational Girl.
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