Friday, December 31, 2010

Review Session

Today's the day that we say goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011. We're ending one decade and starting a new. Can you believe it's been a decade since all the Y2k madness? For me it's also been a decade since I graduated from high school, but let's not focus on that.

I always like to reflect on the year as we get ready for a new one. Something about starting a new year for some reason feels more momentous than any other second that passes. It really is just another tick of the clock though. To say that our 2010 was eventful would be an understatement. We had a lot of ups and downs and some major life changes. Here's a look back at our eventful 2010...

January found us both working hard and counting down to the arrival of our baby girl. I was teaching full time and 110 hours behind in my internship from the fall semester. This is not because I wasn't spending every day working on the internship hours, but merely a matter of limited hours in the day. I upped my internship hours to 17.5 per week in addition to teaching full time. Oh, while 6 months pregnant. Oh, and I had to finish the internship about 3 weeks before everyone else because my baby was due!

February brought us a TON of snow. Record-breaking amounts in fact. We were pretty much buried. There were about 5 good days that our neighborhood went without seeing a plow. Just before one of these big snow events I convinced my husband to take me to Home Depot to get all the supplies we'd need to do the baby's bedroom. While snowed in we were able to prime, paint, and apply chair rail and picture frame moldings. Literally the Monday after we finished the baby's room, my hubby had knee surgery - ACL replacement. The next weeks and months were spent helping him recover from that.

March started out with two really fun baby showers that our families threw for me. We got completely stocked and I was able to get everything ready for the baby's arrival. The rest of March was pretty much a countdown for me. I was still working like crazy to get my internship hours completed but once March was over I was pretty well done. I also found an excellent substitute to cover my classes for the rest of the year while I was out. She was an intern already working in our department. She spent the week before my leave hanging out in my classroom and bit-teaching, and was ready to roll. I can't even describe the blessing she was. Since she was a student teacher she could write and execute lesson plans without a worry. I left her my lesson book and told her to go to town. She did a lot of her own stuff and took care of all the grading. I'm not sure there's anything I could say or do to adequately thank her for that. Ok, well I did give her my job.... but that's not until July.

April kicked off with spring break! I'm not talking about the Cancun variety, either. I spent it doing homework for grad school and trying to get all the last minute things ready for the baby. I had one more week of work after that before the due date. My last week of work went quickly. All of my internship hours got finished, all of my papers and my portfolio were all completed and handed in. I went to class for the last time that week. The Friday before my due date (April 16) I woke up in the middle of the night with horrible pain. I thought it was certainly labor. I woke my husband up and we went downstairs. There was no way I could sleep. We were up for a while and finally decided we would at least try to lay down. We did end up falling asleep and then I spent the rest of the weekend (and really the whole week following) having some pretty good Braxton-Hicks contractions. Everyone asked me 20 times a day how I was feeling. Finally on Saturday morning (the 24th) I woke up and realized I was in labor. After a pretty calm day, we went to the hospital, got some fluids and an epidural, and our gorgeous girl arrived at 10:54 pm. Best day ever :) I don't even have to tell you about the rest of April.

May was fun. I spent most days staring at, singing to, holding, kissing, snuggling... our sweet tiny girl. We took her to her first baseball game. She attended her first wedding. She also went to two graduations - one at the school where I teach, the other my own! It was a proud day :)

June and July each held another wedding, more baseball games and more snuggling. We went out more, had play dates, and took lots of walks in the park. I also had to let my school district (and principal) know that I was going to take a leave of absence for the 2010-11 school year and be at home with my baby. It was both a tough decision, and an easy one. It was hard from the financial aspect. We knew it would mean a lot of budgeting. But it was easy because we both knew we wanted me to be at home with her. We would have been in the same financial circumstances paying for day care, so it made sense to be the one caring for her and not worrying.

August was a little less eventful. The biggest things we did were a family photo shoot with our favorite photographer, Jamie Roberts of Roberts Photographers, and an autograph signing with Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. It was actually so nice to wind down summer with some relaxation :) It was only slightly strange feeling when school started and I didn't go back - either to grad classes or to teaching. It took me like 0.2 seconds to get past that though.

In September we got in as much outside time as possible in preparation for the cooler temperatures ahead. We also got to spend a really gorgeous day outside at a picnic with my whole family. We picnic yearly as our "reunion." It's always the weekend closest to my grandfather's birthday and it's always so much fun to visit with everyone.

Colt James
Austin Richard
October gave us not one, but TWO new nephews! They were born just 2 weeks apart. Colt James was born to my husband's brother and his wife on October 11th, and Austin Richard was born to my brother and his wife on October 27th. Talk about an exciting month! They are two of the cutest little dudes you could imagine. And I'm the lucky auntie that gets to babysit Austin when his mommy goes back to work in a couple of weeks! We also attended our 4th and final wedding of 2010 at which my hubby officiated!

November went by in a flash. We spent the earlier part getting ready for a big trip, and then before we knew it, it was the 23rd and we were on a plane! It was our first flight with baby girl in tow and she was an angel. We had a wonderful visit with my husband's family and got to celebrate his grandfather's 75th birthday as well as Thanksgiving with them.

December is always a whirlwind and this year was no exception. We got to visit with my hubby's grandparents again when they came to town to meet Colt. We celebrated our niece Caraline's first birthday. I made Christmas presents for the first time and that went pretty well. I should have given myself a lot more time though. It got a little hectic there at the end! But I learned a lot and had fun. It was our baby girl's first Christmas and she just loved opening presents. She was a little confused as to why we took the paper away no sooner did she get it off the box though :) No one went over board, and we just had a really nice Christmas with her and each of our families. It even snowed!

Tonight we are ringing in the new year at home. My brother and his wife are coming over and we're going to order some Chinese, play games, watch a movie and welcome 2011 with smiles and smooches. I can honestly say 2010 brought more blessings than I could have imagined, and certainly more than we deserved. I can only hope 2011 approaches the same. I hope 2010 has been good to you, and 2011 is even better!

Happy New Year :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

That Christmas Post

There was a topic I was going to post on before Christmas, but as I started composing it in my head, I changed my mind. I'm going to leave that one alone. I will take a second to say that Caraline's birthday party was adorable and our family photos beforehand turned out great! If you check out our photographer's Facebook page you can peek at some of the photos. When we get our copies I'll post a bunch more. I also have a ton that I took of the birthday festivities which are going to require uploading and maybe some editing. All that will have to be done after Christmas because you know, Crafty Christmas 2010 has taken over my life for the time being :) Speaking of it.. I'd better get back to my present-wrapping while my sweet baby girl is still asleep!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bad Blogger!

Not the site... me! Long periods of hiatus, unfulfilled promises of topics, I'm not sure why you're still here. But I'm glad :)

Gosh, so what was the last thing I promised? Natural cleaning? I should probably also post about our Thanksgiving trip across the country and "Crafty Christmas 2010" (as I'm calling it). There's just so much going on this time of year. Let me not fail to mention my recent wedding anniversary and upcoming first birthday for my niece, Caraline.

Could you forgive me if I go ahead and just smush them all into one post, right here, right now? Oh, thank you! Lucky me, it's the season for forgiveness :) I'll take it from the top...

My Natural Cleaning Experiment
I got to thinking about cleaning recently after this post by my sister-in-law as well as the post she mentions by MckMama. I've never been someone who is all that concerned about the impact of dish detergent on the environment or whatever. My priority has always been - get the salmonella off my counter, thanks. But, whattayaknow, having a baby changes some things. I started to view everything as something my baby would eat, because essentially it is. She tries to put everything into her mouth. When she crawls, her hands will be all over the floor and then right in her mouth. When she's big enough for the bath tub, I've no doubt she will be drinking some of that water, not to mention it will be all over her skin and in her eyes, etc. So whereas before I thought the bath tub was one place I'd always use the harshest cleaners, I now see it as a giant drinking glass for my daughter and I don't want her drinking Scrubbing Bubbles (though I love them DEARLY). Long story short, I decided to experiment with vinegar and water. Nice and simple, vinegar is in lots of foods so it's perfectly safe to eat. I bought a cheap cleaner spray bottle from the cleaning aisle in Target and mixed 50/50 plain white vinegar and water. I tried it out first on my stove top, knowing it was a little hurting. Worked like a charm! I got excited and used it to clean my bathroom. I always do the "squeak" test on my bathroom tiles, as in they need to squeak when I run my fingers over them. The vinegar/water left them streak-free and squeaky! The real test? Bathroom mirror. If it can remove soap scum it can handle little specks of toothpaste and such on the bathroom mirror, but the part that impressed me was that it was streak-free. Looked like I had used Windex! Now, I had the same concern as everyone else... vinegar smells. Yes, it did sting the nostrils and the smell did not dissipate as quickly as I had read it would. However, I consider it a small price for a cleaner that disinfects and is safe for my baby to eat. The next thing I'm trying is vinegar + baking soda in the drain. I have a lot (a LOT) of hair which requires a lot of shampoo & conditioner so our drain requires regular de-clogging. I've read that a little vinegar + baking soda each time you clean the bathroom will keep it running perfectly. If you're going to use vinegar/water to clean your bathroom, my only caveat would be to clean it at least bi-weekly and it will be an easy job. Waiting too long will certainly (as with any cleaning product) mean more elbow-grease on your part.

Thanksgiving Trip
For Thanksgiving this year we traveled to spend time with my husband's relatives. It was his grandfather's 75th birthday so a bunch of the family was traveling in to surprise him and celebrate with him. We spent Tuesday-Saturday there and had a ton of fun. It was great to see lots of family and introduce our baby girl to them all. I had never been to those parts and so it was a good time getting to tour around and see some of the places where my husband had spent his childhood. I took a billion pictures, but here are just a few...

Baby Girl and Grandpa :) They both really enjoyed bonding on this trip.

Driving around looking for a good Christmas card photo spot!
Looking east across the valley
Looked like a postcard
...and there's the Christmas card :)

Crafty Christmas 2010
This year for Christmas I got the wild idea to make, as in "hand craft" Christmas gifts. Some stuff I'm purchasing, but lots of stuff I'm making or personalizing what was bought. Why would I want to take an already hectic time of year and burden myself with seemingly never-ending tasks with a looming deadline? Well for fun, of course! So far, it's been a blast. I've learned several new crafts which I plan to continue after Christmas because they're so fun. Plus it was a totally different "shopping" experience to look for craft ideas and come up with things to make for people, and I think the gifts are just a little more meaningful which is something I'm always after at Christmas time. Not to mention, I've been totally amazed at how inexpensive some of these crafts are for pretty impressive (if I may say so, myself) finished products. I won't tell you all about my crafts just yet because some of the gift recipients are also readers and I'd hate to give the surprises away -- or worse, have them hoping NOT to receive some of these things only to unwrap them on Christmas morning! Ha! Anyway, it's a little late to decide now, but wander around a craft store and you might find some crafts you're excited about. If you have a Hobby Lobby near you you're especially lucky :)

Recent Anniversary
On December 15th my hubby and I were married for 3 years. He's cute. You can see him in the left sidebar. Pretty sure I'm gonna keep him.

Caraline's Birthday
My niece Caraline is turning 1 on Sunday (12/19)! I can't believe it's already her birthday. She is just a super-adorable, hilarious, chubby-wubby, smiley little blonde bebe. I think she's the perfect punctuation to my sister's MSC ;) (not that any of us would be sad if she happens to be a comma or ellipse)! We're having a huge family photo shoot before her birthday party with our favorite photographer, Jamie Roberts of Roberts Photographers. Check back for the pictures and links to Jamie's set. He's incredible and will be photographing our baby girl's first birthday party, too! ... one day in the very very very distant future...

Ok, I'm calling it good for now! I have a post topic on Christmas that I want to get up before the 25th, though the sooner the better in terms of what it's about. It's something that gets me every Christmas season. So for both of you who are still checking this blog, please continue to do so :) and maybe tell a friend!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Diet Revolution?

Probably not. But it's interesting information, nonetheless :)

I recently saw a news article about a professor who ate junk food like Twinkies and snack cakes for two months and lost a whopping 27 pounds! Seriously?? If you're like me, you might feel like that's kind of what you've done your whole life (ok, maybe since college) and yet you're not exactly watching the pounds disappear. Well there's a little more to this "diet." The professor did eat junk food, but his overall caloric intake was drastically less than when he ate normally. The point of his experiment was to say that maybe it's not what you eat, but simply how much, that impacts your body weight.

Intrigued? Well, how's this... not only did the professor lose weight, but his cholesterol and triglyceride numbers improved as well. I don't know about you, but this sounds appealing. The guy ate some junk every 3 hours instead of a normal meal. He did eat some vegetables in front of his kids so as not to set a bad example, but for the most part it was all the things we're told to avoid like the plague. And after two months he was in fantastic shape! I imagine he was also craving some seriously crunchy salads, I know I would be. Double-plus for this diet!

If you read the article I linked, you'll see it's mentioned that the long-term impact is questionable although his short-term numbers all looked good. While it sounds like a lot of fun to eat junk and lose a crap-load of weight, the logic behind it - simply calorie counting - seems to prove that there are better ways of doing this. If you're just counting calories wouldn't you get to eat more if you chose lower calorie foods? I mean, I love me some junk food just as much as the next person (ice cream, anyone?), but I feel like the volume of food you would get to consume if it's all super calorie-dense would actually be kind of disappointing. I wouldn't want to stare at the clock counting down to my next tiny little Twinkie while listening to my stomach growl. I'm thinking there's a good balance in there somewhere between total junk and all lettuce.

Anyway, with the holidays and New Year's resolutions just around the corner, those of you considering something to do with your weight or eating healthy can take this info and do with it what you will. For me, I think I like knowing that (for the most part) it all comes down to calories! I suck at eliminating one kind of food or another. It just makes me want that food more. Knowing that I can bank some calories and save up for Christmas cookies and pie and still be ok, kind of makes my whole holiday season. I've never tried counting calories (so tedious), but maybe I'll just begin loosely paying attention and see if I notice a difference.

Whew-- so that's one previously promised post (say that 10 times fast!) down. Stay tuned for the report on my natural cleaning experiment coming up next!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not Me! Monday

It's been a while since I've done one of these. And what better way to return from a short hiatus than with a "Not Me! Monday" post? I don't even know if MckMama does these anymore, but what's to say the tradition can't continue here? Nothing that I know of! Here goes....

  • I have never been walking through Target wondering how my foot got wet, and then realized it was my own Dr. Pepper splashing out of the cup holder on my diaper bag!
  • I've never discovered that I had spilled my ice water in bed at 1 a.m. by feeling it suddenly in the seat of my pants. Such a thing would require changing my bed down to the mattress in the dark. I've never been in such a predicament. Nope, not me!
  • I certainly would never judge a mother in the grocery store for fighting with her toddler (not even old enough to talk) to get her PDA back so she could mark something off her grocery list. Nope, I'm 100% judgement-free.
  • I would definitely never eat three mint fudge-covered Oreos on the 5 minute ride home from the grocery store just because it had been so long since I'd had them last. Please. I'm not pregnant! (really, I'm not)
  • I do not put my baby's winter hat on her even when it's not that cold out just because it's ultra-ridiculously adorable and people always tell me how cute she is when she wears it.
  • Lastly, I am not looking forward to this Christmas more than any other simply because I'm excited to buy things for my own baby. What kind of Christmas spirit is that? Not mine :)
Ahhhhh, that feels better! How about you? Got a few things you don't need to get off your chest? Any hilarious things you haven't been up to lately? Go ahead and unload in a comment. We won't judge... :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two Hours

That's how long my baby usually naps, twice a day, every day.

That's also how long it has taken me to get my baby to nap every single day this week. And at that, she has slept for a max of 40 minutes. My rule was when we had cried longer than we slept, it was over. Time to get up and move on.

So that's what happened to all those fun blog posts I had promised you at the end of my last one. I still want to write them, so hang in there. Yes, hang in there, as in right now is not when that's happening. Sorry. But I do have something fun to share with you in this post! So don't despair :) We're also getting ready for our first big trip with a tiny one in tow. We're headed 3/4 of the way across the country to celebrate Thanksgiving with some relatives. We leave on Tuesday, so I've actually spent this past week trying to get everything together, organized, ready, and cleaned before we go. Doing all this with a 6 month-old who doesn't want to nap? Ick. It's been challenging. I feel like all I've done this past week was nap time and packing.

And when she would go to bed for the night, I was working on a fun new undertaking of mine. Have you ever been to the briar.claire Etsy store? Well they have some of the gosh-darned cutest little baby hats and accessories and I'm in love with them all. However, I realized it would be a little unreasonable to buy everything from that store, and since I used to crochet when I was a little kid... why can't I do it now? A little hat can't be too difficult to make, right? Some of those little flowers glued to a hair clip? I can totally do that! I haven't done any hats or flowers yet, but I did do the following, seen here on my blog for the first time ever....

What is that? Why yes, it is a tiny sweater for your coffee/cocoa cup!! Go ahead: ooooooohhh, aaaaaahhh! They are incredibly stylish and adorable, and would make darling gifts for the holidays.

Think you want one? If you email I will be happy to get one right to you for $5.

I can also make them in pretty much any color. I have pink and purple right now, but if something else suits you then just let me know in your email and I'll make it happen! Eventually I might open a store on Etsy when I get to making things other than cup sweaters :)

Ok, signing off as my tiny napper has awoken. Check back for those other fun posts sometime after Thanksgiving. I doubt I'll be blogging them while we're away.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What I Love About Sundays

My sweet...
er, furry....
plain goofy...

...great big family :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

6 months

What can I say? I have a very happy 6 month old :) We were playing one of her favorite little games when I took these pictures. Basically if you turn your head away from her then turn back quickly, she thinks it's really funny. Sometimes I'll say something when I turn back, or make a funny noise or a funny face. I think this day I was saying "oh my goodness!"

So aside from smiling and giggling and being in love, here are some things my sweet tiny girl is up to these days...
- She has been sitting up unassisted for about 3 weeks now.
- She has her two bottom teeth, finally! They took a long time to come through.
- She babbles, sings and squeals all day long.
- She is absolutely fascinated by our dog. Sometimes she looks at him and just squeals, even if all he's doing is sitting there.
- She is in a very good nap/bedtime routine. She takes 2 usually 2 hour naps every day and sleeps for an initial stretch of about 6 hours before she wakes up at night. Yes, she still wakes up at night. We're working on it, but there are several reasons why it's going to take us a little longer.
- She still loves to sing and dance, it always makes her smile.
- She sits in shopping carts and restaurant high chairs now and LOVES it.
- She is more and more aware of other kids and babies so she has really started interacting with her cousin Cara who is 4 months older. It's so sweet, and now she has 2 new younger cousins that she'll be playing with once they're big enough.
- She also likes playing "where's the baby?" We'll sit her lovey on top of her head and she will reach up to pull it down.
- You saw my previous post on food and cereal. She ate her oatmeal yesterday like she actually liked it, so I'm remaining optimistic that she will stick with it.
- No signs of crawling yet, but she does love to stand (with our help, of course)

I think that covers most of it for now. If I get a chance, maybe I'll do another 24 hours next week. I have several new topics lined up though, so check back soon! Here are just a few-
- When strangers ask...
- A revolutionary new diet I'm thinking about trying
- Some current event news items
- My attempt at all natural cleaning

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Miracle

I just want to briefly share a miracle story, though I won't go into too much detail out of respect for the individual the story is about. I just feel very strongly that this story demonstrates God's power in our lives and shows that even if we have plans for ourselves, God's plan will always come through.

I know of a young man who tried to end his life recently by shooting himself in the head with an AK-47. Sounds like a plan with little chance of error, right? Well, he is alive. Two factors foiled his seemingly fool-proof plan. First, even though he was able to get his family out of the house, his dad returned and was there to call for help immediately. Second, he was unable to reach the trigger of the gun without the barrel slipping sideways. He miraculously didn't hit a single bone in his head, but only damaged his cheek and teeth.

So there you go. If you can shoot yourself in the head with an AK-47 and only hit your cheek, God wants you here. Please pray for this guy and his family as he still has a long road ahead. While you're at it, go ahead and thank God for whatever obviously important things He has in store for his future.

Monday, November 8, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Try, try again!

About a month ago, on our tiny girl's 5 month birthday, we gave her rice cereal for the first time. She did a great job with the mechanics of opening her mouth for the spoon and swallowing the cereal. After that night though, it was all downhill. She grew increasingly less tolerant of being spoon fed and I was dumping increasingly larger quantities of pumped milk. At the end of about 2 weeks, she would just look at me when I put the spoon up to her mouth and if I was able to trick her into opening up, she would just sit there with the cereal on her tongue and her mouth wide open. Sometimes she'd babble or blow bubbles sending the cereal flying back in my face. Eventually she was waving her arms and turning her face away when I'd try to feed her. I decided it was time for a break.

I waited two and a half weeks hoping she would kind of forget about that experience and start fresh. When I introduced the rice cereal again, it was received with the same arm-waving and head-turning + squirming and screeching to make the point extra clear. This baby was not going to eat rice cereal. I decided to try oatmeal instead and her first go at it is what you see above. I won't call it a smashing success. I think she was more excited for the spoon than the cereal. But there was no arm waving or head turning, or screeching and squirming. And best of all, she finished the whole bowl without any complaints! I remain cautiously optimistic.

Have any of you had struggles getting your baby to start solids? Any ideas or solutions? I really don't want feeding time to get a bad wrap with her and become a struggle for the long haul.