Tuesday, November 30, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-Five

So how did last week go?  Did you share the appreciation love?  Isn't it interesting that even when you're completely frustrated with each other, you can still find good your spouse?  It just takes some keen observation.  The negative is so easy to spot.  It's the positive that takes practice.

I've been practicing this in my own marriage recently.  Whenever I notice frustrations creeping in, I take a moment to remember and be thankful for the things that my husband does do.  Then if I have something I need to discuss with him, I can come into the conversation with a better attitude and a stronger resolve to work through the situation constructively.

What about you?  Did you learn anything from this week?

Are you ready for next week's challenge?

Engage in a family Christmas tradition.  This time of year is so hectic with the hustle and bustle of the season.  So this week, you're going to do something as a family.  Is there a favorite Christmas tradition that you like to engage in with your children?

To put a twist on this one, really try to engage with a childlike spirit and enthusiasm.  View the activity from your child's point of view.  Or if you don't have kids, embrace the activity with the same excitement that you did when you were a child.  Christmas is such a time of wonder that can be forgotten from our adult perspective.  Really embrace the moment.

Take some time afterwards to evaluate the activity with your spouse afterwards.  What was a favorite moment from the evening?  How did it make you feel?  Did it bring to life a sense of wonder and excitement for celebrating Christmas?

Let us know how it's going.  What are you discovering about yourself and your spouse through dating each other?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend!

Sorry I disappeared for a few days.  We had such a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving and being with family.  I hardly checked the blog so if I missed you, I'm terribly sorry.  But it was wonderful to really step away and get some projects done and just eat way too much turkey.  

So this is a post full of photos, but really?  Could I go any longer without showing off some new photos of my cute kids?  No, I think not.

Awesome Shrimp Dip for appetizer

Lydia and Noah "playing" Connect 4

Cousin Natalie and Noah playing Uno Attack
He was the game king ALL WEEK!

Lydia, Cousin Natalie, and Noah
Playing in the snow the next day

Christmas Tree Hunting Day after Thanksgiving
Family Tradition, but we got stopped by the snow
Lydia, Noah, and Cousin Natalie

Daddy, Noah, Lydia, and Mommy
I love this one

Cousins Dylan, Natalie, and Jasmine

Coming back from Tree Hunting
Noah, Mommy, and Lydia

Decorating the tree after church on Sunday

Noah showing her how to hang up ornaments

So much fun: Thanksgiving, tree hunting, playing in the show, and decorating the tree.  Full, full, full weekend, full week off of school and keeping kids busy.  So glad to be back in routine.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas: Advent Calendar

As we finish off the end of the turkey and roll out of the kitchen, I realize how quickly this year has gone.  My babies have grown into new people, seen new things, and I can't believe we're coming to the close of another year.

As November closes and December looms, there's always so many things I want to do with my kids.  I think it's the warmth of the season combined with the closing of another year that reminds me how I long to snuggle and make memories with my family.

And this month leaves no room for boredom.  There's more opportunities than there is time.  In an attempt to savor the season, we've started making an Activity Advent Calendar the past couple of years.  Nothing fancy, just a master list that I keep.  Just a reminder of all the things we "hope" to get done this year.  And hope is the operative word.  If it doesn't fit into the schedule or the night is a bust, no worries. The point is to soak in the season and make memories.  And if the dog gets sick and the kids can't find their shoes and the car won't start, toss it all out and pop in a Christmas movie.

This is what our Advent Calendar looks like this year:

Dec 1st--Visit a bookstore and find a special Christmas book to read together
Dec 2nd--Puzzle Night
Dec 3rd--Family Movie Night: Little House on the Prairie Christmas
Dec 4th--Christmas Parade
Dec 5th--Read the Christmas story and set up the nativity set
Dec 6th--Invite our dollies and teddies to a special dinner with the family
Dec 7th--Make cookies
Dec 8th--Carol our neighbor's homes and deliver cookies
Dec 9th--Visit the retirement home
Dec 10th--Family Movie Night: Walton's Christmas
Dec 11th--Pray for the Persecuted Church
Dec 12th--Drive and look at Christmas lights/ pack hot chocolate
Dec 13th--Make dinner for breakfast and eat in jammies
Dec 14th--Lay in front of tree and read Christmas stories
Dec 15th--Make Christmas cards for teacher, gym teacher, SS teachers
Dec 16th--Wrap completed Christmas presents/pray for family members
Dec 17th--Family Movie Night: Whatever Christmas special is on TV or Rudolph
Dec 18th--Monkey Bread Breakfast for first day of Christmas break/ also Lydia's Birthday Party
Dec 19th--
Dec 20th--Let your light shine--How do we do this?
Dec 21st--Lydia's Birthday: Queen for the day
Dec 22nd--Print and color Christmas pictures
Dec 23rd--Make a birthday card for Jesus
Dec 24th--Make birthday cupcakes for Jesus
Dec 25th--Celebrate Christmas Day!

Other ideas:
YMCA Christmas party
Make peanut butter play-doh
Make a fort and read books
Take out Samartian's Purse Catalogue and pick a project
Go to the downtown light display
Surprise another family with dinner (set up with parents first)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey y'all,
I hope you're having a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  Cherish these moments today.  Take a quick break from the kitchen to have a glass of wine with your mom.  Tell your kids that your are thankful for them as you give them a squeeze.  Savor the memory of having your house warmed with love and laughter.

My deepest love to you all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-Four

So how is your dating life going?  Do you find yourself growing deeper and closer?  I pray that the times you're spending together are pulling you closer together and that your marriage now is stronger... deeper... richer!

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

As we're rolling into a holiday weekend, I want to make this one easy on all of us.  I know that many of us will be traveling, visiting family, entertaining children, and eating way too much pie.  It can be hard to think about date nights and being partners when you find yourselves in such situations.  So we'll make this an easy one.

Whether you go out or stay in, take a few moments this weekend just for the two of you.  Take some time to tell each other how thankful you are for each other.  That he always takes out the trash on Wed mornings.  Or that she remembers to put the flannel sheets on the bed the first day of fall.  No matter how big or how small, we all enjoy being appreciated.  And no matter what spot your marriage is in right now, there's always good to see in your spouse and always something to be thankful for.  Let them know that you notice.  Practice being thankful for your spouse and the little ways in which they continue to enrich your life.

Let us know how the grand experiment is going.  How's your dating life?

Yes, your children will eat fish.. and so will you! Part Eight

At the beginning of the year, I posted my 40 things before 40 list, which included an item for completing Amy's Notebook ideas.  My goal has been 40 items, but really this is just the first one I've been able to get done.  Still she always bookmarks such interesting recipes,  We had to try this one.

If you're looking for a new fish recipe, this is it.  It's quick and flavorful.  So quick in fact that would make for a great weekday dinner.  Partner it with a pretty green salad or some steamed broccoli and ... instant dinner.

Garlic Lime Tilapia
(from Eat at Home Cooks)

3 Tbsp butter
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 Tilapia fillets
Old Bay seasoning (I subbed celery seed, salt, lemon pepper, and paprika)
1/4 c. lime juice

Melt butter in large skillet and saute garlic.

Season the fish with the rub.  Add fish to the skillet and cook for about 3-4 min.  Flip and cook the other side.  Add lime juice and cove to finish cooking.

We cooked 4 fillets and it fed my husband and I and the two kids.

We did like it.  It's tame, flavorful, and yummy.  But if we had our choice, we'd defer to Parmesean Encrusted Tilapia or Blackened Fish.  It's not that this is bad, just milder than we generally eat.  So try it. It's yummy and may fit right into your family's diet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Blog Hop 2010

Hey y'all,

I'm channeling my inner Paula Deen today and blog hopping with some creative gals to get you started on planning a fantastic Thanksgiving meal.  I've always wondered what it must be like to have a cooking show on Food Network.   I'm hoping you'll humor us today in my small bit of the world as we share some of our favorite family traditions for this time of the year.  So kick back with a warm cup of apple cider,  curl up with a warm blanket and your laptop, and cue the southern intro music 'cause we're about to get started.

I'm in charge of appetizers.  Now for those of you who think appetizers are unnecessary, don't let the concept fool you.  Thanksgiving (and Christmas and fifth Sundays and any day for that matter) are all about good food from beginning to end.  Especially if you're like me and you realize the turkey's going to take longer than you thought and the kids are begging for something and you're just dying to sit down for a foot message.  Yeah, appetizers... super necessary.

So let's get started with two of my favorites.

Mama's Homemade Spinach Dip
(all credit to my Mama, Debbie Mace)

1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (16 oz) container sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise (Mama swears by Best Foods)
1 pkg Vegetable Soup Dip and Recipe Mix
1 (8oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 or more green onions chopped

Mix all ingredients well.  Cover and chill at least 2 hours to blend flavors.  This is very important.  It just doesn't taste right if you don't chill it ahead of time.  Serve in a bread bowl with tortilla chips or sourdough bread chunks.  Or serve with a variety of vegetables 'cause then you can count it as diet food. You are eating your vegetables after all, right?

Next up:

Shrimp Dip
(complements of yours truly)

1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
Bottle Cocktail Sauce
1 lb broken/ chopped shrimp meat
Green onions, chopped

Spread softened cream cheese on serving platter and top with cocktail sauce.  Sprinkle on shrimp and green onions.  Chill for at least 2 hrs to flavor and remove from fridge ahead of time to soften.  Serve with Hi-Ho Crackers (that's what we called them growing up; I GUESS you may refer to them at Ritz).  Again little bit of diet food 'cause you're eating fish.  No big deal.  Look at how healthy you're being.

These two appetizers are so quick and easy.  Most difficult part is making sure you've prepared enough.  They will fly out of there.  Did you notice I don't have any pictures today?  I can't keep either of these around long enough to get any.  And if you're looking for something sweet to start with, check out my favorite Cranberry Applesauce.  I never serve a Thanksgiving meal without it.

Now in case you're still hungry, there are a few other foodie bloggers out there that are excited to share with you some of their favorite holiday traditions.  So you're next stop is:

Kristen from My Sweetheart Moments

She's going to continue our journey with some fantastic side dishes, including a soup and stuffing.  Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Made by Me Monday

OOOPS!  Looks like I missed last week's Made by Me Monday.  I don't know why it is,  but Monday's are a hard day for me to post.  Must be all the relaxing I'm enjoying come Sunday night.  Or how involved I become once The Amazing Race comes on CBS.  It's a toss up really.  :-)

How was your weekend?  We had a wonderful time.  Very cold, very wet, and very busy.  

Lydia and I went to a Ballerina Birthday party on Saturday and it was so fun to watch my little girl get dressed up.  At almost 3 years old, she's already girly and was more than happy to be attending a party in a dress.  She loved dancing with the girls as they performed their ballet moves and twirled around.

Noah and my hubby went on their own little adventure.  Noah's been dying to go to Chuck E Cheese and since it was a girly party, that became his destination of choice.  It sounded like he had a great time and it was all topped off by wandering his favorite store, Costco, and trying samples.  The way to my five year old's heart?  Food.

But I have something for you this week.  We tried out a new fish recipe this past week: Garlic Lime Tilapia and I'm excited to share it with you.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

In the meantime, let's start linking up.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back here so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start partying!

Lee's To Do List

For those of us watching what we eat, here's a great reminder to Plan Your Thanksgiving Plate Before the Meal (@ Reformed Chocoholic).  Great reminder to keep it all in perspective.

Love the reminder that it's Soup Weather (@ Penny Raine).  Soup seems to be our ultimate comfort food lately.

Isn't this a lovely Funky Little Headband (@ Oh Write)?  I can picture a few girls I know who would love one.

For another gift idea, check out Grandma's Quilt Bracelet (@ Just Something I Made).  Who wouldn't love this one?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas: Wall Art

I love the idea of customized, personalized pieces of art.  Particularly pieces that reference a person's name. There's something so intimate about a name.  These pieces of art celebrate each individual in a unique and special way.  There's nothing quite like them.

So when I came up with this idea for wall art, I was immediately captivated by it.  Simple, inexpensive, but so beautiful.

I started with a basic frame from the dollar store.  You can find them in a variety of colors, but as I wanted all of my pieces to match, I bought an unfinished one and painted it myself.  While I was at it, I also painted the letter that I found on clearance at my local craft store.  Since I used acrylic paint from my stash, I also added a coat of Mod Podge to give it that shine.

Then I cut a piece of print paper to 8x10.  I also cut a piece of silver paper to 5x7 and mounted it in the middle of the print piece.

I put all the layers back into the frame with the glass.

Then I hot glued the initial to the glass.  You could cut and add ribbon to the initial.

See how easy that is?  I had a few other thoughts as well.  You could add the wedding date with a white pen to either the frame or the initial.  Pearls, rick rack or ribbon would look lovely behind the glass as well.

How is your Christmas crafting going?  Can you believe next week is Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We are Thankful!

When Noah turned two, I started thinking about how I wanted to teach him about Thanksgiving.  Being squeezed in between Halloween and Christmas, it's so easy for children to miss the point.  It's so easy for all of us to miss the point.

My husband and I have really tried to raise children who are thankful for what they have, who can walk through life with a sense of gratitude for all that they've been given.  And what better time to do that than just before the craziness of Christmas?

So about 3 years ago, we started the tradition of our Thankful Chain.  No it's not fancy.  It's not something you'll see in Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens.  But it's frugal, thoughtful, and it gets the point across.

We sit down every night at dinner and write what we are thankful for on a strip of paper.  Sometimes it's a toy, sometimes dinner, a smile from a friend, or a phone call from Grandma.  We try to model for the kids things that they can be thankful for that they wouldn't otherwise realize.  Like clean water.

As we put them on the chain, I also have a book that I write them in.  It's fun to pull that notebook out every year and remember, "Oh, yeah.  I remember when that happened."  It's really helped all of us concretely realize what we have to be thankful for.

This is about halfway through the month last year.  After Thanksgiving was over, we continued to add to our chain till New Year's last year.  The kids were so into it.

This is one of the things I'm most thankful for this year: children who are growing up thankful.  And I think that's one of the best gifts we can give our kids.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-Three

Hey y'all,
I am so excited about these dates.  Have I told you lately how passionate I am about seeing your marriages improve?  How blessed I am to know that you are striving to not only maintain, but grow this most important relationship in your life?  Yes, I am excited for you.  For your spouse, for your children, and for the testimony that your marriage is.

I am excited!

So how was your date last week?  Who did you bless with the testimony of your marriage?  How did it bless you?

We had a couple of college kids over this week for dinner.  I had planned on making a big fun dinner for the family, but really wanted to have others over to bless them as well.  So that became our date night.  Opening up our home, blessing others with a meal, digging into their lives, exposing our marriage and family life as the kids run a muck, and we revealed our humanity.

What a great reminder that our marriages are not just about us.  There are people in the world craving to see healthy marriages.  Craving to see constructive compromise.  Craving to see hope.


So what about this week?  Are you ready for a super challenge?

This one's hard for me.  For as long as I can remember, my husband has desired for us to pray together on a consistent basis.  There's something very intimate and very deep about praying with your spouse.  And yet, for the past nine years, we have still not make it a consistent part of our married life together.

We have our phases where we recommit to praying together, but somehow it always fizzles out.  Work schedules get in the way or children need to be taken care of.  And while that's all a reality of life, we struggle to making praying together a priority.

So your challenge this week is to pray together at least 3-4 times this week.  Spend some time honestly sharing with each other what your true struggles are.  And then bring them up in prayer together.  Right then.  Don't say, "I'll be praying for you."  Rather do it in the moment.  Right there.

If this seems strange to you, take a prayer walk together.  Put on your walking shoes and walk the neighborhood as you share your hearts with each other.

And if for whatever reason, praying isn't for you, if your beliefs about God prevent you from participating, spend some time with your spouse sharing about your current struggles. Commit to keeping each other accountable.  Commit to supporting each other to the best of your abilities.  Commit to hearing the heart behind the circumstances.

My First Message: Children's Bible

A few months ago, my husband and I started looking for a great children's bible to introduce to our kids.  We began to watch what our friends were buying, picking them up off the coffee tables and slipping through them.  Taking note of the language and illustrations.

Also of particular interest to us were the application questions.  We wanted a bible that our kids would be interested in, but would also provide opportunity for discussion and application.  Not that this was a substitute for the Lord's leading in our conversation, but rather a help and a supplement.

This one jumped out at us.  The language is contemporary, the illustrations are fun, and the application questions are wonderful.  In fact, I think they're my kids' favorites.  We get to the end of each section and my son makes sure we read the application.  

One of my favorite sections is the "Pray" application at the end of each story.  Many of them connect the child back to confessing and relying on God.  So often I find myself encouraging my children to make good choice, remember Mommy's instructions.  But I overlook their need to rely on God, or at least to express that to them.  This is a great reminder for Mommy as well.

This is an investment that we've made in our kids that's been well worth it.  It's been well loved already and already an established habit in our bedtime routine.  Highly recommended!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Loving my photos...

I love sending out Christmas cards every year.  What's more?  I love receiving them.  For some people this seems like an obligitory part of the holidays.  And if that's the way you look at it, don't do it!  But for me, it's one of my greatest joys at this time of year.

I love being able to hold that card as our family talks about the good memories we've shared with friends.  Or seeing smiling faces as we pray for another family.  The anticipation of something in the mail other than bills or sale fliers.  I love it!

Photos across the board seem to be my favorite gifts.  As the holidays roll around, photo gifts are usually the first ideas that come to mind.  We started a tradition a few years ago of making photo calendars for my husbands family.  Similar to these at Shutterfly.  My favorite feature is being able to add text on the calendar grid.

Shutterfly has a variety of other great products.  As we've been teaching our kids about being thankful, I love these Thank You cards that are available.  Especially this one for a birthday present.
This year, I'm getting excited to send out one of these great Christmas cards.  I haven't been able to settle on one design yet, but these are a few that I have in mind.

Whatever you choose to do this year, do it with love and a sharing of your lives.  Bless those around you with the gift of your friendship, your laughter, and your companionship.

*Disclosure: Shutterfly is providing me with 50 free cards for writing this post.  All opinions are mine.

**ATTENTION BLOGGERS:  You can get 50 free cards from Shutterfly too! Any size blog can participate, so don't miss out on this great opportunity! Click here to apply.  If you do sign-up, please be sure to let them know that Creative2xmom sent you! Thanks!

Theology According to My Kids

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lee's To Do List

I love this idea of making Homemade Vegetable Broth (@ Breastfeeding Moms Unite).  What a simple, nutritious idea for saving some money.

Aren't these Little Girl Hairclips (@ Fireflies and Jellybeans) so adorable?  These would make a great Christmas present.  And they can be personalized.  Perfect!

I think it's time we have a Preschool Table Manners review (@ BabyCenter) with my two munchkins.  Never hurts to be reminded.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas: Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti

As I said earlier this week, I am in full baking season.  October hits and I want to bake.  But with Noah's birthday, and my birthday, and Halloween, I feel like my hands are so full.  So when November arrives, I'm getting antsy and I'm ready to go.

I've been narrowing down my baking list and I just want to go full scale.  A few years ago, I picked up a "Something Extra" from Raley's.  This is such a fun magazine and I love that it's free.  Ideally it's set up to promote items from Raley's, but realistically the ingredients are available nearly anywhere.  And it's got great seasonal recipes.  I love it.

I have an issue from 2006 with several biscotti recipes and this one has become my favorite.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti
2 eggs
1 c sugar
2 tsp peppermint
1 3/4 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Beat eggs, sugar, and extract.  Stir in flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, until a VERY stiff dough forms.  Divide dough into 2 piece and form (2) 9x4 rectangles, 1/2 in thick (I made my thicker and it's almost too much).  Bake for 30 min and allow to cool slightly.  Cut into 1/2 in slices with a bread knife and return to oven, with flat sides down.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 min, until crisp.  Cool completely.

I did not do this, however, the recipe also suggests dipping the bottom of the slices in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint.  This would be a great addition is you intend to use these as a gift.

*Linked to these Parties

We interrupt our scheduled programming...

...for a short family update...

I promised pictures last week, but alas, I never got them loaded on the computer.  We had a couple of busy weeks there with school, Halloween, my birthday, and company.  It was full, but provided us with lots of memories and even more pictures of two adorable kids.

Our finished pumpkins--
Carved and ready
Silly for silly Lydia &
Grouchy for grouchy Noah

Playing at the YMCA Party with friends--
Lydia is the monkey

Going to the Taste of Home Cooking Show
With my Mom and Grandma
The night before my birthday

Me, Lydia, Grandma, and Noah
My birthday!

Mom and I at dinner on my birthday

Lydia making "Chicken Soup"
at the Halloween Carnival

Noah making his own "Chicken Soup"
at the Halloween Carnival

I had Batman and a Monkey
at my house on Halloween

Cuter rather than scary!

I'll give them some candy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-Two

So did you find a couple to meet with last week?  How did it go?  What did you learn?

Don't forget to share with us what you're learning.  We're all here to strengthen our marriages so lets work together and share.  You might have ideas that I've never heard before and I'd love to have my marriage improved by something I can learn from all of you.

We had a wonderful meal with another couple last week.  It's just nice to get to know another couple that's been there.  As we know, there's nothing new under the sun.  There's nothing that we're going through that's new and it's encouraging to hear from others how they've dealt with similar situations.

And it's awesome to know there's another couple out there that knows a bit more about our story.  To know there's another couple out there that's supporting us and supporting us in prayer.  To know they've got our back.  It's a good feeling.  :-)

Are you ready for this week's challenge?

This week is going to be the converse of last week's challenge.  Find some young people to hang out with this week.  Take them out to lunch.  Have them over for pizza.

This isn't necessarily a couple's date, although it could be.  But it could also be a couple of young single people.  Dating or single, newly married or not, young people need to see a couple that's fighting for their marriage, a couple that's fighting for each other.  Young people need examples of strong marriages and couples that will do what it takes.  So be that example!

Have them over, spend some time with them, let them see the give and take.  And just laugh together and support each other in whatever it takes.  Continue that chain of strong marriages supporting strong marriages.

How are your relationships changing?  What are you learning?

*Linked to these Parties

Buying for Baby: Nursing Essentials

When I was pregnant with Noah, I knew I wanted to breastfeed.  In my mind, it just made sense.  Healthy, instant, ... cheap.  I also knew that it was going to be a challenge.  I've grown up seeing both extremes: parents that nurse for extended periods of time and parents who choose the bottle from day one.  I knew I'd fall somewhere in the middle, but I just wasn't sure where that would be.

I went into it saying that I'd nurse for at least six months and try to hold out for a full year.  As it turns out, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Nursing Noah started to be a challenge around 5 months.  Several infections, clogged ducts, and flashing instances later, I was nearing that golden one year mark.  So slowly and surely I started weaning him.  He didn't seem to mind one way or another so we were dropping on feeding at a time and enjoying the others.

Funny thing happened as I got closer to that one year mark, I was the one who started to miss nursing.  Here I was at the finish line and not so sure I was ready to be done.  I began to more and more value that time that we sat down and were still with each other.  Those moments when all the world stopped and his little body snuggled up against mine.  There's nothing quite like those times.

As it turns out, through all the frustrations of no breaks, neither baby willing to take a bottle EVER, and my own health issues, those were some of the sweetest moments with both of my children.  In the end, I breastfed Noah 15 months and Lydia 16 months.  So much for my "trying" to make it to a year.

While I know that breastfeeding isn't a possibility in everyone's situation, these are some of the things that made it easier in my experience:

The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding--  My OB/Gyn gave me this book in my first pregnancy and I loved it.  Smart, no non-sense guide with easy to use index.

The First Years Nursing Cover-- This is a basic nursing cover and you can find fancier ones online.  But for getting the job done, this one works just fine.  And we would that a nursing cover was great as the baby got older and wanted to pull the blanket off my shoulder.  Noah was too social and always sticking his head out, but at least it provided some modesty for me.

Nursing pads-- I love these by Lansinoh.  They are super absorbent and very easy to place.  You can also buy washable pads if you're looking to save money in the long run and be green.  However, I found that I produced so much milk that they couldn't absorb it all.  They were worthless in my case so it just depends on your body.

Lanolin--This is so nice in those first couple of months where you're getting into the rhythm of breastfeeding.  It's great for cracks, sores and those inevitable bites.

And while not an essential, I loved my Boppy Nursing Pillow for the first couple of months while I got the hang of breastfeeding.  It provided just enough support to get the baby in place while we both got the hang of what we were doing.

Of course, depending on your circumstances, there are a multitude of other wonderful products on the market to support your endeavours in breastfeeding.  If you're returning to work, a breast pump is a wonderful tool to have.  I'd suggest an electric one as they're so efficient.  However, I wouldn't worry about going for a super high end one unless you can afford it.  I know two sisters who split the cost of a high end one and it's lasted their their 4 babies plus my two so they are a good investment if that's where you're at in life.

Either way I hope you'll enjoy those first few months with your little one.  If you have the option to breastfeed, I'd encourage you to do so.  It may be a challenge, but you're likely to not regret it.  If you don't have the opportunity to nurse for whatever reason, be open to letting go of your expectations and instead embrace the happy giggly little one you've been given.  Happy parenting!

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Made by Me Monday

Sorry gang,
I'm gonna make this a quick MBM Monday post.  Unfortunately I didn't get any projects done this weekend.  The sewing machine was giving me fits and I was missing a few key ingredients for the next 12 Weeks of Christmas post.  So no preview on either of those projects.  

But I'm hitting the grocery store today and I'll have a post for you later this week with a couple of fantastic biscotti recipes just in time for the holidays.  Halloween passed by us and I immediately went into biscotti and cookie mode.  Great for you, not so great for the diet.

Hope you all had a great weekend.  We're bearing down on the cold so I'm gonna dash off to get a few things done and then snuggle up with a warm blanket.

Let's get partying with Made by Me Monday.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the blog post itself.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  So let's start linking up!

Lee's To Do List

First Sunday of the month:  It's party time.  Check out all the party ideas.

What a sweet Feather Her Nest Baby Shower idea (@ Creative Party Place).  Very cute and original idea.

Here's a huge round up of Princess and Fairy Parties (@ Tip Junkie).  My little Lydia would love any one of these.

Check out this great Fisherman's Dinner (@ Kara's Party Place) for the man in your life.  I know quite a few who would love this.

Not to leave out the boys... here's a Pirate Party (@ The Birthday Blog) that any little boy would love.  Great game ideas.

And in case you missed it,  we had a great time our Cowboy Woody Party (@ Creative2xmom) last month.  I'm not sure how I'm going to top this one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Amber D, where are you?

Amber D, I've tried to get ahold of you for your Real Food on a Real Budget Prize.  Email by the end of the weekend or I'll have to draw a new winner.  Hurry!  I don't want you to miss out on this one.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas: Ribbon Necklace Set

This project is so simple; you'll be amazed.  I saw this on another site, but unfortunately I can't find the bookmark so I'm going to do my best to explain it to you here.

You'll need:
Grosgrain ribbon
Needle and thread
Approx 30 Pearls

Measure a piece of ribbon to approx 42 inches long.  From one end, measure 16 inches and tie a knot.  Thread your needle and fasten on the ribbon near the knot.  Fold the ribbon in two and sew the first pearl to the necklace.  Keeping the ribbon doubled, sew through to the other side and add a second pearl.  Continue adding pearls from one side of the ribbon to the other.

I had varying sizes of pearls and I didn't like the way they looked next to each other.  So I tied a knot between each size.  I had three sizes so my pattern was 5 small, knot, 5 medium, knot, 10 large, knot, 5 medium, knot, 5 small, with knots on both ends.

The bracelet is the same with a smaller length of ribbon.  I avoided the larger pearls on the bracelet as they were too bulky for my wrist.

Simply tie around you neck and enjoy!

How is your Christmas crafting coming?

*Linked to these Parties

Could this be you?

November's Cheapest Fruits and Veggies

Wow.  Well I was really quite sad when the fall hit and we weren't going to be getting that wonderful summer produce anymore.  But if there's one thing that this experiment has taught me, there's always new ways to use what we have available to us.  I've been pleasantly surprised by what I can come up with if I only put my mind to being creative.  This fall produce has turned out to be wonderful as well.

Here are November's Cheapest Fruits and Veggies:
Winter Squash
Sweet Potatoes

Pumpkin continues to be a hit around here in baking: muffins, bread, cookies, lattes, etc.

I'm also excited to try this Raspberry and Orange Spinach Salad @ Frugal Granola.  What a great way to combine fruits and veggies and capitalize on what's in season.

A few weeks ago, we baked sweet potatoes for dinner.  I mashed them with butter and slivered almonds, and served them with a green salad.  The kids loved the sweet flavor and it was a healthy variation of baked potatoes for dinner.

We've also taken an acorn squash, stuffed it with a savory mix of tomatoes, hamburger and spices, and baked it as a main dish.  It just has to be seasoned well or the sweetness will dominate.  But for the price that they're at right now, it's well worth experimenting with.

Broccoli continues to be a favorite around here.  We've been steaming and dressing ours with basil and Parmesan cheese.  Often times we'll serve it along side fish for a light healthy dinner.

I'd love to poach some pears and serve with a raspberry sauce.  Topped with some toasted almonds... perfect for desert.

Also we're coming into cranberry season.  These little berries are packed with nutrients and so yummy.  But beware.  They're only available this time of year.  If you like them year round, now's the time to pick them up.  They freeze well and are perfect for apple season, like this Cranberry Applesauce.

How are you using seasonal fruits and veggies in your home?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

52 First Dates: Week Twenty-One

So how is your dating life?  Do you have any fun Halloween memories to share with us?

I have to confess.  I was really excited about doing this one... until it actually came to following through.  I didn't put everything together till the last minute so my costume idea bombed.  It just wasn't going to work. We still had fun taking the kids to the Halloween Carnival, but I really wish I would have been able to dress up and be goofy with my hubby.  We snuck in some laughs just the same.  Bingo, hula hoops, basketball shoots, etc... We had a fun time.  I love acting like a kid, with my kids.

Your challenge this week (should you choose to accept it):

Share a meal with a mentoring couple.  Find a couple that exemplifies a healthy marriage.  Look for a couple that you would like to emulate, a couple that has truly gone the distance.  It's also important to find a couple that has gone through different stages of life.  Spend some time building a relationship with them.  Ask the hard questions.  Find out what has helped them make it through the rough patches.  Let this time open the doors for future conversations.  Ideally this could open it up to a continuing supportive, mentoring relationship.

Are you up for the challenge?

*Don't forget to check out this week's Made by Me Monday

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Bonding with Baby in Pregnancy

Being pregnant was a strange sensation for me, both the first and second times.  I remember the back pain and the nausea.  Physically it was rough.  Physically I didn't enjoy it.

But there's something special about having a life grow inside you.  I can remember the first time my husband felt Noah kicking inside my tummy.  We were at a show and the drums started and the music started.  The whole place was shaking with the rhythm and he suddenly burst into dance.  My husband and I were delighted at this little insight into his personality.  A lively dancing little boy.

Babies start bonding with their mommies from the moment of conception.  They hear our voices.  They sense our moods.  We eat together, travel together, sleep together.  But sometimes, especially in difficult pregnancies, it can be hard for us Mommies to feel that bonding from our end.

Taking a moment to savor this time is so essential.  Some of the best bonding moments for us were laying in bed at night, taking a few minutes to be still and just absorb the reality of it all.  I would speak words of affirmation, pray over my babies, or just rejoice with them that they would be in my arms soon.  This was especially important in my second pregnancy as I was chasing a 2 year old all day and couldn't take the time to be as attentive.

But then when they lay that baby in your arms, there's a moment of recognition that will sweep over you.  So this is the little one that you've been having conversations with this whole time.  This baby may look exactly as you had imagined or may look like their own branch of the family tree.  And even though it will still take to get to know each other better, there will be a connection there.  You'll marvel at how this baby turns toward your voice or becomes alert at a siblings laughter.  And within moments, you'll forget what it was like before this child was ever a part of your life.
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