Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review

I just took a few moments to look through the posts I published over the last year. Last January, I did a recap of the year. That was pretty fun to read again, so the time has come to repeat.

I began the year in January by attempting to crochet a sweater for the unborn baby boy. The sweater still sits, half complete, in the bag I left it months, and months, and months ago. Kid was still just an unborn peanut, but we had decided upon his name. I could finally start calling him by his name. Of course, we weren't yet sharing with the rest of the world as we didn't want to hear anyone's opinions.

February came and went pretty quickly. The hubs surprised me with flowers at work. He also surprised with with a clean house after a twelve hour work day.

I started meal planning in March. And it went pretty well for awhile. In fact, I still plan a weekly menu more often than not. It really has helped me to change the way I grocery shop and prepare meals after work.

April flew in and brought with it a 6-week-early surprise! Kid joined the world and our lives were changed for the better. I learned quite a bit those first few days and weeks with Kid at home, and was so lucky to have the hubby home with me.

May came, and we celebrated Kid's due date with the birth of his cousin. The boys already have so much fun together. I am so pumped to watch those two munchkins grow up together. The hubs went back to work for a few weeks and I had quite a bit of alone time with the boy and the pup.

With June came summer, and no work. I was so thankful to have the hubs home again, mostly to entertain the dog. The dang dong has so much energy! We started traveling with Kid on a fairly regular basis (almost weekly!). His first trip was a camping trip to Lake Carlos State Park, which will likely become a tradition if the daddy continues coaching. His second trip was a fishing trip to Lake Vermillion. Beautiful lake. No fish.

July brought even more traveling (we were home for maybe a week). Kid saw Omaha, Nebraska and the Henry Doorly Zoo. If you haven't been to this zoo, you must. It is phenomenal. We also visited Mount Rushmore and Kenosha, Wisconsin. My parents joined us for the Kenosha trip. It was so wonderful to have babysitters with us! I also started creating recipes more frequently (well, following recipes and modifying them to my liking) and created the *recetas* page.

August arrived, and with it brought the beginning of work again. Kid started going to daycare two days a week, and spent the remaining days with grandparents (we are so lucky!). Our lives changed once again when both the hubs and I went back to work full time. It was an adjustment, as it is every year!

September flew by. Honestly? What even happened in September? Kid went to his first Twins baseball game. I made stir fry from the garden (it was delicious). I vowed to not plant as many cherry tomato plants next year, as they were coming out our ears.

October brought another random surprise at work. One that made me cry. I stuck Kid and his cousin in a pumpkin, because why wouldn't I? Isn't it cute? He didn't sit very nicely, and most of the pictures were blurry. And holy cow, he's six months!

November came and went. Quickly. As every month does. I finally finished the mobile for Kid's room. Yeah, I started it while I was pregnant. I'm slow with some things!

December. Oh, December. Always such a blur. We truly had a blast, running from gathering to gathering. We learned a new game with the dog (skijoring) and took the boy with us, too. I also played photographer (still learning) for our Christmas card. And finally, Kid started writing his first thank you cards for all of the generosity he received this Christmas.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Family Traditions

One of my favorite things about family are the traditions. Each person in a new relationship brings his or her own family traditions to the table. When a new family is created, these traditions meld together, but remain unique and constant at the same time.

My husband and I created a new family unit on our wedding day in 2011. We added to our family when we brought Finn home. Again, we added to our family when we created the most precious little life.

The hubs and I are responsible for this little man, and for instilling in him a love for family. Hubby and I both adore our families, and are excited to create an amazing little family of our own. I have many fond memories of the special traditions created by my parents for my siblings and I.

Swimming at Grammy and Boppa's.s

Skating at the park.

One "mental health day" per school year to have a one-on-one activity with the parents (I usually chose to go skiing).

Saturday morning and/or Sunday morning cartoons all cozied up together, eating donuts while Mom and Dad read the paper.

Thanksgiving in Colorado.

The list could go on and on and on.

Now, the hubs and I are creating those traditions for Kid. One of those family traditions, that we started this year, will be to go cross country skiing the day after Christmas Day. This year, it was a whole-family affair (dog included).

our first nature boy

the next nature boy

skijoring (Finn is pulling me!)

I've linked up here:
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Handmade Teether Toy

Baby toys can be incredibly inexpensive, or ridiculously expensive. I have a little munchkin that likes to chew on everything (which could have something to do with the 4 teeth he's working on right now). I like to keep toys around so he always has something to play with chomp on. I, of course, ran to my local Target store to find some inexpensive toys/teethers. I noticed one specific teether that I thought Kid would enjoy, but was irritated by the price.

Five bucks for a little stuffed ring? I could spend five bucks to buy six baby washcloths and make three teether toys for that price!

And that is what I opted to do. I found a package of cute colored baby washcloths, which are super soft and set to work.

I've only finished one of the three toys. The other two are in various stages of complete. They'll be finished shortly, but I wanted to get this post up and running.

Depending on the size of the teether, each toy will take 1 to 2 washcloths. I went with two for each, because I wanted to vary the pattern and color on each toy. They toys will also need some craft stuffing, which is super cheap at any craft store.

First, the washcloths should be washed. More than likely, they'll end up in someone's mouth. There may be some nasty chemicals on the washcloths due to manufacturing and/or shipping.

Once the washcloths are washed, and dried, deciding upon a shape for the teethers comes next. I went with a nonsensical shape to start, then moved on to a tooth, and a ring.

Place the washcloths together with the right sides facing each other. Here's the catch. There is no right or wrong way to do this. The texture of the teether can be either side of the washcloth. The ones I bought had a smooth side and a side that looks like the typical terrycloth of a towel. I wanted to have a toy with multiple textures, so I put the smooth and bumpy sides together and pinned the crap out of it. One would typically trace or draw a design on the fabric with one of those fancy disappearing fabric markers.

Not me.

I just cut. This worked out, because I didn't have a specific shape in mind for the first one. But, a shape can be traced onto a piece of paper, which can then be used as a sewing pattern for the toy.

That's not how I roll.

Once cut, sew the two pieces together. Leave an opening in the sewing, for two reasons:

1. to flip the toy right-side out.
2. to stuff the toy with some craft stuffing.

After stuffing the toy, sew up the opening with a needle and thread. I'm not too picky about the finished look, especially since it's a baby toy, but I didn't want to have any threads hanging out for Kid to potentially chew off of the toy. I followed this tutorial on how to make an invisible seam.

Here's the finished product:

I promise that I will get better with pictures. It's one of my New Year's Resolutions for the ol' blog...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Card Photo Shoot

I'm kind of a last minute person. A procrastinator, if you will. In my college days, I'd start papers the night before they were due. Projects, too. I could stay up for hours, work on said paper or project, get an hour or two of sleep and be up for class at 8am.

Who am I kidding? I never took a class that started at 8 in the morning!

Let's get to the point.

This year, I did the same thing with Christmas cards. Luckily, I order my cards through Target or Costco. Next day service. I don't have time to wait around for other companies to send me my cards a week later. Not how I work.

This year, Costco was my place of choice. I just needed to have some pictures to use.

Before Kid joined us, the hubs and I would pose for pictures, and would include a snapshot of the pup. This year, though, I no longer have to be in the card (woo hoo!). We had a photo session set up with a professional photographer (okay, the JCPenny studio...through Groupon), but the husband was extremely sick and we had to cancel. With no time to reschedule, I had to take the pictures myself (gasp!).

Have no fear. We have since rescheduled our Groupon photo shoot.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

\\Thankful Thursday Vol. 6//

I find that it is impossibly easy to get into a rut of negativity. And once you're there, it's hard to climb your way out. Writing down my thankfuls for each week has become a way to stay away from the negative. Feel free to leave your thankfuls in the comments.

This week, I am thankful for...

...Tylenol. Kid is currently cutting FOUR teeth. Poor kid! I couldn't imaging having four teeth coming in at the same time. He has been drooling a ton, and gnawing on anything he can get to his mouth. We try not to use Tylenol too frequently, but there was one night this week that the poor boy was inconsolable. It was 2 in the morning, he and I had gotten little to no sleep, and I had to be up earlier than usual the next morning. Tylenol to save the day!

...new tires. I cried when I got the flat tire a few weeks back. It was so frustrating. I just wanted to get home, but I was delayed a few hours with the flat. The tire was irreparable and, because of the type of car I drive, replacing one tire means replacing all four tires. I wanted to cry once more when I looked at the bill. But the new tires are dreamy. The car is driving so well, which is a must in a Minnesota winter!

...a break. Tomorrow is the last day of school for two whole weeks! I am more than ready for this break. This school year has been kicking my behind and I'm ready for the break so that I can regroup and recharge. Especially after the winter sledding party we're having this morning. The students will love it, but it will be quite exhausting!

What are you thankful for this week?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Meal Plan

I feel as though I've been rather absent as of late.

Needless to say, it is a busy time of year! We have quite a few holiday gatherings in the next couple of weeks, and the preparations have definitely begun.

AND! My bestie, K, had her baby last Wednesday! I had to make a trip (two) to the hospital to meet her boy, and Kid's new best friend. She is planning to "host" our weekly girls' night. I quote it because, in actuality, we will be at her house, but she will be doing no work. She just had a baby for goodness sake. And her post c-section orders are to lay low. The rest of the group (there are 7 of us, total) will be bringing a main dish, salad, red wine, white wine, and dessert. K will get to sit back and relax and we will get to hang out with the brand new baby boy!

Like I said. Busy time of year!

Here's the plan for the week:

Sunday: a big, fat spaghetti dinner. I've been trying to avoid grains as of late, but today felt like the perfect day for spaghetti and meat sauce made with venison.

Monday: modified taco casserole for us (no noodles). I'll be making the "regular" version as well, with noodles, for K to stick in her freezer. Sending freezer meals was one of the most helpful things early in G's life!

Tuesday: girls' night. I'll be making chicken soup to bring as the main dish.

Wednesday: steak and eggs. Oh, how I love steak and eggs. With some bell pepper and mushrooms. Maybe a little onion. Mmm. I'm excited. My mouth is already watering!

Thursday: birthday party for the mom-in-law. We'll probably have some ridiculously delicious meal!

Friday: enchilada stew over Mexican "rice." I call it "rice" because it's really cauliflower. And, it's delightful. Well. The husband doesn't like it as much as real rice, but he's coming around slowly but surely.

Saturday: chicken soup. The hubs saw that it was on the menu for girls' night and was a little jealous. I had to add it to our menu as well...

And the baby's meal plan? He tried apples today, and loved them (because who doesn't like apples?). I hope to add some apples to his peas. Kid does not like peas! We now have squash, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, apples, and banana in the rotation. The next new food will be broccoli (which we will probably have to mix with apples!).

Friday, December 13, 2013

((this moment))

((this moment))
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

\\Thankful Thursday Vol. 5//

I find that it is impossibly easy to get into a rut of negativity. And once you're there, it's hard to climb your way out. Writing down my thankfuls for each week has become a way to stay away from the negative. Feel free to leave your thankfuls in the comments.

This week, I am thankful for...

...technology. Duh. I write a blog. Of course I dig technology and am thankful for it. But this week, it has saved my behind. Well. A colleague's behind. As you may (or may not?) know, I teach. One of my fellow colleagues was out sick this week, but didn't write any plans for a guest teacher. Yikes! I had a phone call, email, and text out to her in a matter of minutes! She stayed home sick the following day and  emailed me her guest teacher plans. What would have happened if we didn't have email and the internet at our fingertips!?

...sleep. This will be my last thankful for the week. I normally have this post ready to go on Wednesday afternoon. But here I am, 8:45 on Thursday night writing away. With heavy eyelids, and a sleep-deprived, foggy brain. I'm so very thankful for my warm and cozy bed. A place to rest my eyes and warm my toes (because the dog sleeps on my side of the bed until I crawl in...he makes it so nice and warm). I'm so thankful for the fact that the babe is already snoozing away, and I'm ready to enter a nice, long sleep. Yep. At 8:45.

Friday, December 6, 2013

((this moment))

((this moment))
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

\\Thankful Thursday Vol. 4//

I find that it is impossibly easy to get into a rut of negativity. And once you're there, it's hard to climb your way out. Writing down my thankfuls for each week has become a way to stay away from the negative. Feel free to leave your thankfuls in the comments.

This week, I am thankful for...

...Sierra Nevada. No, not the mountain range. The cerveza. Like most, I enjoy myself a glass of vino. But really, beer is my thing. I love it. The different styles, the different "flavors." It's delicious. My favorite as of late has been Sierra Nevada's Extra Pale Ale. Can't go wrong.

...my boys. Did I say them once before? I'm ever so grateful for my three boys (yes, I've included the puppy-boy). My husband is the most wonderful husband one could ask for. He's loving, he's funny, he's there. He is SO involved with Boy. Not only is he the most amazing husband, he is a fabulous father. Of course, I think my baby boy is top-notch. I'm always thankful for him. For his smiles, his laughs, his inclination to yell at the top of his lungs because he thinks he's so cool. Love him. And of course, I must not forget my first baby, Sir Finnegan Spotted Ale (his full name). The pooch is great. Does he annoy me from time to time? Why yes, yes he does. But is he always there with an excited wag of the tail (which ends up being an excited wag of the whole back end). Does he warm up my side of the bed for me every night? Sure does!

...my husband's old high chair. I'm thankful for this for a few reasons. ONE. We didn't have to buy a high chair. TWO. Boy is so entertained while sitting in his high chair while I make dinner. Mostly because he is at my level (and I think Boy thinks it's pretty awesome that he's bigger than Finn). He loves it. So I love it. And I'm so thankful for my husband, who finally dug through his parents' storage closet and brought it home!

Oh, and. Last week I was thankful for Boy's health. While he is still incredibly healthy, we've been rocking a runny nose for a solid week now...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Eight Months

My baby is eight months old today.

No longer is he a baby. He's a big boy. He sits up. He rolls (very rarely). He interacts more and more each day.

No. The little man is no longer the baby I knew just two months ago...even just a month ago. He has grown so much, and in so many ways.

Kid Stats: Eight Months

Weight: We won't head back to the doctor for another month. We weighed you on our home scale, though, and think you're about 20 pounds. On the breastfed baby charts, that equates to about the 70th percentile.

Length:  You are far too squirmy for us to measure accurately. But you are long!

Head: Last time we checked, it was in the 85th percentile. Big head!

Clothing: Just yesterday, I packed away all of your 9 month clothing. And I scored a TON of good deals on 12 month closing during Black Friday sales. Don't worry. I didn't wait at the stores at midnight on Thursday to score these deals (although, now it is 8pm).

Diapers: Still rocking the cloth diapers at home. You're in size 4 when we go with the disposables.

Favorite Food: You have tried so many foods now! I'd say that your favorite is kabocha squash. You did not care for avocado one bit (still offering it once in awhile) or peas.

Favorite Toy: You love anything you can put in your mouth. You love your Taggie puppy and seahorse rattle. You also enjoy toys that you can bang on any hard surface. You also have some "loveys" that you like to bring everywhere. One is a puppy, one is a frog. Besides Mama, Daddy, and Finn, your loveys are your best friends.

New Developments: While you don't always feel the need to do so, you can finally roll from tummy to back. A few weeks ago (maybe a month?) you showed Mama that you could roll, but you just decided to show your skills to Daddy this week. You're sitting! While we still have the Boppy pillow behind you, you're pretty steady. My guess is that your muscles wear out after 15 to 20 minutes, and then you usually fall backward.

You're loving life, little man. Daddy and I continue to love you more and more each day...