Sunday, March 18, 2012

Heaven needs babies too

Most everyone loves babies, their tiny imperfect nails, uncontrolled reflexes, chubby thighs, giggles.

Most everyone loves the innocence of children, the funny things they say, the weird things they do, the way they learn and grow into their personalities.

Most everyone loves sweet sixteens or kids graduating college into a big world they've worked hard to be apart of as adults.

Most everyone loves the early parts of adulthood, getting their first job, getting married, becoming parents.

Most everyone loves the wisdom of the old souls that raised us as grandparents.

Each day in our life, whether it be day one or day 200,001, each day there is something more unique about each of us than the last.  We all age at the same rate, yet years are so different in the middle than the beginning and the end of life.

What would our world be like if every person was the same age?  Weird question right?!  That would just be so weird and boring and strange.  How then can we spend eternity with only old people amongst us.  That would also just be so boring.  No wonder God has a different plan for each of us that involves a different age for each of us to reach his kingdom.  I know how much joy there is in holding a baby in my arms.  I can imagine God wants to have this joy too.  The children in heaven must be having so much fun!  They have the world's most patient and loving parent. 

I thought about this a lot on March 23, 2010 when my nephew Jacob was BORNstill, but STILLborn at 35 weeks.   In my deep grief for my sister and our family, as she struggled for her life in the ICU without her first beautiful baby kicking away inside of her, this was one of the first thoughts racing thru my mind as I sat trying to rationalize the horrific event.  A tiny 5 lb 18 inch gorgeous child, that never got to take his first oxygenated breath.  I thought about how much God needed babies and children in heaven just as much as we need them here on earth.  It amazed me how much God wanted her to know he was there, even in the darkest of days.  She was given a tear jerking, page turner in her book of life.

Two years after the placental abruption that took his life, he still lives in my heart and always will.  I'm thankful that through his death, he showed our family that we have a genetic predisposition for miscarriages and blood clots.  He saved so many of us, my sister, our Aunt, myself, from medical issues we never could have foreseen.  His life reminds me of God's omnipotent will in my life.  His life always constantly reminds me that life is a gift and a healthy full term baby is a miracle.  It scares me every night that SIDS will come and take Sam from me.  I don't know if this is because I have held a blue baby, I know the grief, or if it is because deep down I know that Sam is on loan to the world from God.  He is God's first than mine.  No prayers for Sam's health will ever change God's plan for his life.  All I can do as his mother is pray that Sam becomes a man who lives by the fruit of the spirit, a man who knows that to thrive in life he has to be willing to adapt and that he becomes a man who loves the God that created him.

Today, in honor of my friend Anna, whose son Jack gained his wings too soon, we let off six balloons for what would have been his 13th birthday.  One from me, one from Bailey, one from Paul, one from Sam one for Jack and one for Jacob.  Jack's tragic death occurred about a month before Sam was born.  I'm sure Jack's passing would have made me a better mother even if I'd been a veteran mother at the time, but as a newbie, Jack has consistently reminded me of just how much of a gift a child is.  Jack's favorite verse "nothing is impossible with God" Luke 1:37, is in my mind on replay whenever things get tough with Sam.  His life and his mother's love for him has like my nephew Jacob had an overwhelming shaped my life as a new mother.  I pray that whoever reads this article, will pray for my friend Anna, her husband Tim, her daughter Margaret, her late son Jack and my sister Ruth and her late son Jacob as well as the other women whose children have been given wings early.  Please be patient with your children, hug them and remember the days are long but the years are short. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

A President's Day Date!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love shopping just about as much as I love using apostrophes!  So it should come as no surprise that my first post baby date with Paul was a shopping and lunch date.  (not to worry, we've been out a lot, just with Sam in tow.  He is surprisingly very portable and knock on wood, an excellent restaurant sleeper).  I thought Paul would have preferred for it to be a winery, shopping and lunch date, but he was actually really excited to go shopping with me sans wine.  Who would have thought.

We headed out on President's Day to the outlets and dogfish after dropping Sammy of with his grandma and grandpa for a few hours.  Spending some quality time with Paul was awesome and much needed. 

I think President's Day may be my new go to shopping day for end of winter sales.  It used to be MLK, but I think retailers aren't marking stuff down as quickly as they had before.  Or, they just aren't low enough yet for my frugal standards.  I stuck with my mantra of buying what I need vs want as well as making sure what I was buying was something I would have purchased even at full price.  Because let's be honest, a sale isn't a good deal if it isn't something you wouldn't buy full price.  Queue in extreme couponing, who really needs 100 bottles of mustard?  Coupons in tow, what I ended up buying were mainly presents.  I got some incredible deals.

  • 3 shirts for my sister and sister in laws upcoming birthdays this spring at the ann taylor loft outlet for $3.50 each (retail was $29), it was crazy.  
  • 3 awesome onesie's for my niece's Christmas present from the Gap outlet for $1.25 each (retail $18), super crazy.  Sadly, like always there was nothing good for boys even reg. price
  • Pair of black corduroy pants for $5 at the reg ann taylor loft.  They had awesome sales all winter (even pre christmas).  When I was headed back to work, I found great cardigans, button downs, dresses, and pants all less than $20. 
  • William Sonoma Dishtowels ($4/3 towels) and hand soap ($4) as a thank you to my Mother in Law for watching Sam.
  • Most of Sam's fall wardrobe for next year as well as some cute spring clothes from Carters $40, below is a pic of what I got him, sans some cute socks that were being washed.

One sad note is that the pottery barn and crate and barrel outlets have both closed in leesburg.  This really only leaves williams and sonoma as a draw for me to drive out there.  So, this maybe my last Leesburg outlet shopping trip.  I think you can get deals that are just as good at the regular stores. 

While it seems crazy to some that I am already buying presents for next Christmas or clothes for Sam for next fall/winter, it really helps save money and quite frankly my sanity come present giving time.  It is so much easier to have a present on hand: the cost for presents are dispersed throughout the year, you aren't shopping when things are most expensive and stores are crowded.

Buying children's clothes on clearance a year in advanced is a shopping lesson I learned from my mom.  Kids grow way to fast to spend a lot on their clothes.  My Mom, would mostly buy our clothes the year before on clearance in the size we would be most likely be wearing the following year.  I bought Sam 3 18 month pants for next winter for $5 each when they retailed at $30, a ton of shirts including a my first birthday onesie for $2 and even found his Christmas jammies for next year for $3.  I was stoked!  This was great for us because with only one salary now, cutting costs is not just fun now, its a priority.  We actually spent more on lunch than we did buying 5 presents and most of Sam's winter wardrobe for next year.

What are your favorite days of the year to shop?  Did you find any good deals recently?  Have any good baby clothes shopping tips?
Sunday, March 11, 2012

Five Months with Sammy

Sammy, this past month has been awesome!  It is amazing what the lack of stress can do for a person!  All the months leading up to the end of my maternity leave, I was stressing about how I didn't know how I would leave you, then last month I did leave you and that was even more stressful.  This month, my only stress was how to get you to sleep well again. 

You reached tons of fun milestones.  You giggle all the time, you found your toes, you are completely in love with Bailey, you're ticklish, you love to read before your bath and bedtime with Daddy, you rolled twice now from belly to back (we keep eagerly waiting for you to do it again, but you're stubborn), you give big smooches on demand and just in time for your 5 month birthday you showed us you can sit unassisted!  One thing, that is funny but annoying that is new is how distracted you are.  You can barely eat without stopping to survey the scene.  We couldn't get much more than outakes for your 5 month photo shoot today, because you were busy looking at everything else but me and Daddy.  Please note how you were very distracted by Bailey's wagging tail in the above photo.  So many changes, I love it, but at the same time I can see your babyness slipping quickly from me as you grow and develop which makes me a little sad.

 One thing that amazes me about you is your ability to teach me to go with the flow and follow your lead.  I was stressing about how you were sleeping and eating.  I kept reading that babies do best on a eat, awake, sleep (easy) routine or feed/wake/nap and wanted to try.  I just did it (go nike) and you took it like a champ.  I also needed to start teaching you to nap in your crib and was worried.  You have also taken that like a champ.  You don't nap long in there, maybe 45 min max which is frustrating, but we're working on it.  You pull your pacifier out of your mouth and when you cycle into another sleep stage you get frustrated with your hands not soothing you in the way you like.  By the end of last month you were greeting the 45 minute intruder in your swing too, so I figured if you aren't going to sleep well in your swing you may as well sleep badly in your bed.  Besides if you can go 12 hours of sleep at night in your crib with a break at 9 or so hours to eat, you def like sleeping in your crib!  I'm perplexed as to why you can sleep well at night but not during nap time, hopefully as you get older things will get easier.  The part of the EASY routine I'm missing is the Y which stands for You, meaning mommy time.

It was so warm this month, that we even got to go out in the ergo and played fetch with Bailey a lot.  Every time I bent down with you to get his stick and he jumped around trying to get it before I threw it, you just giggled and giggled and than giggled some more once it was thrown and fetched.  It's one of those magically simple moments that make me know without a doubt that not being at work was the best decision I ever made.

You did a lot of celebrating this month, First you celebrated your first valentine's day.  Unfortunately, I was mean and scheduled your 4 month appointment that day so you had to get shots which resulted in you not being too happy a camper. Grandma and Grandpa came over to wish you a happy first valentine's day.

I'm pretty sure you are thinking shots suck

Then, it was your Auntie's birthdays.  We skyped Auntie Anita in the morning and then you went for your first truly awake trip out to a restaurant to celebrate with Auntie Christine and Grandma.  By the time your nap time was rearing it's head I was getting nervous, but eventually after lunch was almost over I managed to get you to take a nap so I could stay out and shop for a little while with your Auntie and Grandma.

You also celebrated Bailey's 5th birthday by going with us for the first time to Wylie Waggs (Bailey's favorite store).  The girls there who love Bailey were also so excited to finally meet you!

A few weeks later we went to our friend Andie and Hideki's house to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Andre and Mandie's new baby, their new nephew!  The first boy born to our circle of friends.  I'm so excited for you to have another baby to play and grow up with.  It's been a blessing that so many of our friend's and family have had babies all within a year of your birth.

Wine, Bon Chon, Friends and You, what could be better?!

 To round out the month, we celebrated your birthday with awesome warm temps in the 70s so we headed to grandma and grandpa's for a 5 month birthday celebration bbq.

I forgot to list your favorite products last month.  So these are four and five month favorites:
Fisher Price Jumperoo: You LOVE this and I can see that soon as you are stronger, this will replace your activity mat as your favorite place to play
Vulli Sophie and Chan Pie Gnon Rubber Teethers :You love to gnaw on these things.  The little alien looking teether isn't as well known as Sophie the giraffe but you like it even more.
Bebepod: I bought this at a yardsale a few years ago for $5.  You love it and I think it helped you
learned to sit up.
Sassy Rings: You love having something in your hands and these are light and can get thrown in the dishwasher.  Plus if you lose them, they are cheap to replace.
Pretty much all toys, you looooove toys!
Booginhead pacifier clips: Helps me save your pacifier from the floor.  You love to spit it out, but hate to not have it when you are tired. 
Wubbanub: Awesome since you love to hold something when you are falling asleep.
Twinkle, Twinkle Elmo Bedtime Book: You love reading at night and this book is awesome!
Thursday, March 8, 2012

KONY 2012

The power of one amazes me. One man is doing something horrific, one film maker is doing something terrific, and I am using my power of one to make it known to another one. What will you do to exercise your power of ONE?

I saw this on two different blogs this evening and wanted to share it with the 19 followers I have.  If I have 30 min to watch with a 5 month old at home, you have time too.

(thanks to Jen @MadebyGirl for this photo)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I can craft?! Who knew!

So I finally finished up Sammy's nursery with this awesome mobile I made.  I'm pretty impressed with myself because if you know me, you know that I don't craft at all!  In fact it shouldn't even be possible, but in high school I got a C in abstract art.  Really! 

One of the girls from the October 2011 baby board I am on made this for her son's room after seeing it on etsy.  I instantly fell in love.  I had searched for months when pregnant and just couldn't find something I liked.  I was going to do pom poms over Sammy's changing table, but after not thinking it through and letting the ones from my shower get thrown away I just couldn't stomach remaking them.
Here is Sammy's DIY mobile.

Here is the tutorial and a pic from Shannon's blog scrapyardcards.  (check out the rest of her blog, she is amazing with scrapbooking cards)

I made a few changes to her instructions based on my laziness:
After poking holes in the hundred or so circles I couldn't fathom stringing them and then crimping beads to them.  Instead, I ran them thru my sewing machine.  Learning to use my sewing machine wasn't pleasant, but it was better than stringing circles and crimping beads.  Here's a tutorial and a few pictures.  Do you see my little helper at the end of the table?  He's so cute, my first boy.

Notice the manual for the sewing machine.  Took me so long to figure out how to sew, I ran out of time and had to multi task and pump at the same time.  Queue in hands free pumping bra

I also hot glued the strings to the top of the mobile instead of tying them.  Another lazy step.

What's for Dinner?

Don't you hate that question?  I get so annoyed with the redundant question and the conversation.  Paul and I used to have it everynight on my way home from work.  Now that we are in a new era, we are on to new dinners too.  We realized rather quickly that it was time to get good at getting healthy food we make at home into our bellies before 8pm at least 6x/week.  We've been doing great, which is pretty awesome if you ask me since, pre-Sammy this wasn't the case.  Our ability to go out to eat for dinner is pretty non existent now that Sam seems to put himself to bed no later than 7:30pm.

At first, we were so busy acclimating to our new lifestyle that we were getting "take out" from Wegmans.  It's actually a pretty good price and fairly healthy.  Also, if you live across the street like we do, it is also very convenient.   You get a whole chicken and 4 sides for $10.  Like everything else though, this gets old after a while and still isn't cheaper or healthier than making food at home.

Now, we are diligent about meal planning and started making a majority of our dinners on the weekend.  Like many nursing mothers, I noticed certain foods upsetting Sam's stomach, out went foods with red sauce and foods made dairy.  Giving up dairy has by far been the hardest for me.  Not being able to eat whatever I want is about the only thing that has been hard with breastfeeding.

Here is a sampling of recipes what we've come up or used that make good nursing friendly prepare ahead to cook later meals.  A few of these meals are actually derivations of great food that was brought to us from our friends during our baby honeymoon phase.

Lomo Saltado, one of my fav restaurant meals:  We generally slice the peppers and onions, marinate the meat and throw it in the fridge for the night or the next day.  This is one of those meals that makes awesome leftovers.  It taste even better the next day.

Whole Chickens baked over red and sweet potatoes: Our neighbor Kristen made this for us.  It was awesome!  I loved the mushiness of the potatoes from sitting in the chicken juices while they cooked.  This is an awesome meal to prepare a night or two before.  We buy the two pack of roasting chickens from costco and then bake both at once so that we have enough for one or two dinners, several lunches and a few derivations of meals there after.

Meals from the whole chicken:
  • Greek Chicken Salad
  • Chicken panninis with pesto and avocado (Bailey supervises my food, just in case something should fall)

  • Chicken Soup: First I make stock, than use the stock to make soup
    • stock: crockpot the carcases and water for 10 hrs, than strain into a big pot to remove bones and the lemons, garlic, carrots stuffed inside the birds.
    • soup: used strained stock from the crockpot, add back in remaining chicken, carrots, celery, onions and noodles (right before serving).

Chicken Picatta: This was a pinterest find.  Awesome, easy, uses kitchen staples and delicious!  We make this all the time.  Pinterest has been awesome for meal ideas.  Here is a pic from pioneer woman's blog

Salmon with brown sugar and mustard sauce: This was one of my favorites that was brought to us by our friend Mandie.  I've made this over and over again.  It was so good and much better than the way I used to make Salmon!  Here is my made in my head recipe based on what she brought over:
  • Sizeable piece of salmon, 2 portions plus enough for lunch
  • 3-4 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp of brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • wine and chicken stock to coat the bottom of a pyrex (keeps salmon moist)
  • combine olive oil, panko crumbs and parmasean cheese in a bowl
  • Coat the Salmon in the dijon mustard and brown sugar, cover with the panko mixture
  • Bake at 375-400 until done
I serve this with a side of carrots, mixed with a little sliver of butter, brown sugar and the remaining panko mixture.  The easiest thing is to make a tin foil packet and put the carrots in there and put both the salmon and the carrots side by side in the oven.  In the pic below, I served it with the leftover potatoes from the chickens.

Coconut Thai Shrimp and Rice:   This is a recipe that our friends Stephanie and Matt made for us a long time ago when we went to their house for dinner.  It taste very impressive, however is quite easy to make.  It's even easier to eat, because it is delicious.  Here's a pic from Stephanie's blog.

Stuffed Pork Loin: During the holidays, I always make a pesto, sundried tomato and cheese torte.  It has perfect holiday colors and everyone loves it.  With the leftovers, I usually stuff chicken breasts and serve it over pasta.  This time, I tried it with a pork loin and potatoes.  Cut the loin lengthwise, stuff it with the torte mixture.  Put the loin in a pyrex over top of some red and sweet potatoes, bake on 350 until done. You could also serve it over spaghetti.  The melted torte from the loin makes a great sauce over the noodles.  A picture:

What are some of your go to recipes?  Do share, I'm sure these are going to end up being on the list of "you want that again" soon enough?