Monday, April 29, 2013

Menu Monday

Happy Monday! 

Did you meal plan last week? What have you been eating in your home?

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Potatoes with Green Beans

I didn't really follow a recipe for these potatoes. I simply baked them for about 2 hours, then stuffed them with shredded chicken that I had mixed with bbq sauce (I used a bottled sauce from TJ's). I topped them with a little shredded cheddar and broiled them in the toaster oven for 5 minutes. An easy and yummy meal! You could easily add in some veggies or sour cream or whatever topping you like best!

Kung Pao Chicken, Veggie Fried Rice, and Spring Rolls....all from Trader Joe's

A big thanks to my friend Rachel for sharing this on her menu a couple of weeks ago! It was an easy and quick meal to put together, but still tasty! A new TJ's favorite!

I think J made some changes from the original recipe. No mushrooms or baby corn in our stir fry, but he did add in snap peas. 

We also had Pastor Ryan's Bolognese Sauce over Spaghetti one night, but forgot to take a picture. Oops!

And just for fun, a picture of M's first meal...baked sweet potato sticks! More on this later!

Okay....your turn to link up below. Happy Eating!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blog Friends and Breast Milk

I know...quite possibly one of the strangest blog post titles ever. Stick with me here!

This is a picture of me and my friend Kirsten. We met through our blogs a few years ago (maybe 09?), and we got to meet up when I visited San Diego last spring.

She is currently pregnant with a baby girl that is due in June, and also fighting breast cancer. You can visit her blog to read more. She is an amazing, strong woman. I'm so glad I can call her my friend. 

Recently Kirsten shared with me about a grassroots organization called Eats on Feet. Eats on Feet is a way for lactating mothers to share their "extra" milk with moms and babies who are looking for breast milk. In Kirsten's case, she will not be able to nurse her little one, but she wanted to provide her baby with breast milk. She was able to find a donor through Eats on Feet, and has already started a stock pile in her freezer. When she told me about this, I immediately started looking for babies near me who could use my milk. I was blessed with more than enough milk in M's newborn days (honestly, it was way too much), so I ended up pumping a lot and freezing it. A lot of that milk was getting close to the 6 month mark, meaning it was going to go bad. I knew there was no way we'd be using it all, so I was able to go on the Eats on Feet facebook page for North Carolina and find a local mom who could feed it to her little guy. She came by Thursday and took home about 50 ounces of milk that would have just ended up going down our drain. Even neater, her baby boy shares a birthday with my M. 

So why am I sharing this? 

I am not sharing this to say that all breastfeeding moms should start pumping for someone in need. Not at all! But I hope that if there are other moms out there who are in my situation (a freezer full of milk that they weren't going to use), you can connect to another mother in your city who can use your milk to feed her little one. This isn't a post that is saying breast milk is better than formula. I say feed your baby in the way that's best for YOUR family! But there are cases where a mother wants to feed her baby breast milk, but she can't for whatever reason (adoption, the mother can't produce milk, the mother is going through chemo, etc!). In cases like that, I think it's awesome that there is this organization so that all moms have the option of using breast milk to feed their baby.

Hopefully this little PSA of mine will help at least one momma out there clean out her stock pile in her freezer!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

6 Months

My sweet M girl. Up until this month, I have written these monthly posts and felt so much excitement and joy in how you're growing and changing each day. And I do still feel that way. I love that you're learning new things and growing big. I am thankful that you are a healthy little girl and you are right where you should be at six months old. But man....this day is a little bittersweet for me. We're now closer to your first birthday than we are to your birth day. You are on your way to being a toddler, and further away from those newborn days. I really can't believe that six months have flown by. They have been the fastest and most wonderful six months of my life. I think your Dad would agree. We absolutely love each day we get to spend with you, Piglet.

Now that I have my sappiness out of the way, let's talk about all of the new things that are going on in your world right now! The list is long. It seems like each week is full of new milestones for you these days.

On March 29, I noticed for the first time that you could sort of balance and sit on your own. It started in short spurts of 15-20 seconds, but has progressed as the month went on. Now I can set you down and you'll sit for a solid half hour and just play. This is a wonderful stage! You do still topple every now and then, so we try to keep the boppy behind you to help break your falls.

On April 1, your first tooth popped through! After months of chewing on everything and lots of drool, you had something to show for all your hard work. And then six days later on April 7, your second tooth appeared beside the first. And just like that, your gummy grin got teeth!

You've been laughing since about 2 months, but up until recently, you've been a little stingy with your giggles. Not anymore, though! Now all we have to do is look at you with a funny face and you'll cackle away. Listening to your laugh is one of my favorite things to do right now.

Nighttime sleep is still your strong suit when it comes to sleeping. 12 hours is your norm, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. You are still not a very good napper. It seems to change from week to week. You used to let me put you in your crib and you'd maybe fuss some and fall asleep, but lately, you just cry and cry and cry when I put you in there for naps. When you do go to sleep, it's usually for just 30-40 minutes. This has been so hard on both of us. I am hoping that we can get into a better rhythm of naps this upcoming month.

We have made it six months exclusively nursing, and we're going to start baby led weaning this month. I am excited (and a teeny bit anxious) for this new adventure with you. I should also note that you successfully took a bottle a couple of times this month. After a lot of relentless trying, you have had about 3 full bottle feedings. Major thanks to THIS method for helping me get you to take a bottle!

Speaking of bottles, I was able to leave you with you dad one night last week and he gave you a bottle and put you to bed. This was a big step for both of us! Up until now I had been here for every bedtime, so it was nice to have a night away! We also left you with your first sitter on Monday (4/22). It wasn't a big success (aka you cried pretty much the whole time), but we tried!

You are definitely becoming more and more aware of others around you. We go out to eat and you flirt and smile with the other customers. And when we have playdates and get togethers with other babies, I see you watching and studying the other babies so carefully.

No crawling or even getting yourself up on all fours yet (thankfully!). Your dad likes to put you on all fours and try to teach you to crawl, but you definitely don't seem close to me. Hopefully I have a little more time before you become mobile and I'm chasing you around and baby proofing the home.

Sweet girl, I love you to the moon and back. October 25, 2012 feels like it was just yesterday. How these past six months flew by is beyond me. I hope the next six move a little slower!

Weight: 18 pounds 10 ounces (85th percentile)
Height: 27.25 inches (90th percentile)
Diaper: Size 2 in disposables, in cloth we're still one snap down and four across
Clothes: I can still squeeze you into a few 3-6 month things, but mostly 6-12, or 9 months in Carter's
Eyes: Very blue!
Hair: It's slowly coming in. Your little bald spot in the back even seems to be filling in (but just barely!). I still think it's slightly red on top, but its hard to tell!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Water Baby

It's a busy week in our home this week! We have family coming to visit tomorrow evening, several play dates, M stayed with her first sitter last night (It didn't go so well, but we tried! We love you, H!), and on Friday she is starting swim lessons. I initially signed her up because I thought it might be a fun thing for us to do once a week, but the more I've thought about, the happier I am that we signed up. I think it will be good for her to learn water safety at a young age AND I think this will help me feel more comfortable being in the water with her. On Sunday evening, the facility where we're taking lessons, invited us for a little water play date and information session for new students. She got to wear her adorable pineapple swim suit and swim with her dad, and I pretty much melted to pieces on the side. 

I love these 2 so much!

I cannot wait to go back on Friday for more fun in the pool!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Menu Monday

We have a big week coming up in our home! This will be the first week where little M gets to join her mom and dad at the table for dinner time! She is turning 6 months on Thursday (I don't even know how that's possible), and we're planning to introduce solids on that day. We're all pretty excited for this new adventure!

So, without further ado, here's my final Menu Monday for just two! J and I both had plans out several nights last week, so we didn't too much cooking. Here's what we did cook up....

Garlic and Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin, Baked Sweet Potato, and Sautéed Brussels in Balsamic

I really can't take much credit for this meal. The pork was premarinated, and the brussels were preshredded from TJ's. I followed the recipe on the back of the bag, and thought they turned out pretty good. I might try to go for crispier next time. Still good, though!

This was one of J's meals. Not bad for a quick jambalaya!

Throw Together Sausage and Peppers over Bowtie Pasta

Easiest meal ever. The Peppers and onions were pregrilled and frozen thanks to TJ's (what would I do without that place?) and then we sautéed some sausage with it and served it all over pasta. Topped it with some shredded parmesan and we were ready for dinner. 

Your turn! Link up your meal plans below!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Embracing the Camera: Week 4 / "Do you miss teaching"

It's been a tough week here. We're dealing with some nap time troubles and a bit of a fussy baby. Who knows what's causing it, but it just hasn't been our best week. I've broken down and cried a few times. Once to my husband, once to my mom, and once in the glider with my baby in my arms as she cried back at me and smacked me in the face with her little hands as she protested another nap.

However...with all of that said, I still can't imagine doing anything else during the day. I adore being home with this little girl, on good and bad days. A lot of people have asked me if I miss teaching, and I think some of my fellow educators will understand what I'm saying here. I miss the kids and the fun moments and the activities we'd do together. And I miss celebrating little victories with a student who had been struggling with something for so long, and then seeing them master it. Those were awesome pieces to the job and I do miss that. But I definitely don't miss the stress and pressures that came with the job. The high stakes testing, the lesson plans, the data collection, the never ending emails. Sadly, when I think about my former profession, it's the latter that come to my mind, not the good things. When I stop and think about those things, and then think about the place I am in now, I realize just how lucky I am. Being a mom is a hard job. And I mean that for a stay at home mom OR a working mom. No doubt about it, but's also pretty wonderful. If a fussy baby who won't nap well is my biggest stresser these days, I'm doing okay.

I love this girl to pieces.

Go here to read more about Embracing the Camera

Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Monday

This is definitely not my best installment of Menu Monday! I really slacked on the picture taking this week. But, despite that, we still had some yummy meals. Link up your own meal plan at the end!

Or as our friend Tom Haverford would say, Chicky Chicky Parm Parm over Long Ass Rice. And yes, we ate it with our food rakes, but we had no "zerts."

Grilled Pesto Shrimp Skewers with Grilled Red Peppers and Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Cous Cous

This was fantastic. A wonderful, light summer meal on the grill. You'll definitely be seeing this again through out the summer!

Other meals from the week that were not photographed: 

Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Grilled Chicken Sandwiches with Green Beans
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie (I'd share a link to the recipe, but this really wasn't that great)

Please link up your own meal plan and menus below!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Five for Friday

A year ago today, we announced our pregnancy. Crazy how fast time flies!

No pregnancy announcements today, but I will share 5 things I'm loving this week....

1. These shirts from Loft!! They are made from a stretchy material, and the neckline is elastic, which makes them SO easy to nurse in. No lifting my shirt up and no stretching out the top I have on. If you're a nursing momma, go get you one (or four!) of these!

2. FRIENDS! We had some friends I went to college with in town last weekend, so we had them and a few other Charlotte JMUers over for a little cookout. It was so fun seeing our baby girls together!

3.Vanicream. My baby had quite a bit of rough and dry patchy areas on her tummy, back, and legs about a month ago. A friend suggested we try Vanicream and this stuff has cleared it right up. Worked much better than Aquaphor for us!!

4. e.l.f. All Over Color for just $1 from Target! A friend told me about this wonderful product, and I love it. And it's only a dollar! Can't beat that.

5. Raspberry Chocolate Truffle K-Cups. Mmmm mmmmm!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My March Project.....

I know it's pretty much mid-April now, but I promise this little DIY project happened in March! As mentioned here, I set a goal for myself to do one creative thing each month, probably something I found on Pinterest. Now this one isn't so much creative since I really just let someone else do the creating, but it was from Pinterest, and it was something to hep beautify our little home, so I'm going to count it.

I found these bathroom printables here, and had them printed at Kinkos (Who knew it was so easy to upload a PDF to their site and have it printed at their store? I had no clue! This is great for those of you like me with a crappy, unreliable color printer.), and then picked up some frames at Michael's. J helped me hang them in M's bathroom, and we were done. A very cheap, easy project!

This really wasn't that exciting of a project, but I'm glad I did it. The only thing I've done to this bathroom since moving in was putting in a shower curtain and a hand towel, so I like that these help give it a little more character. Eventually I'd like to paint in here, but this little bit of wall art helps spruce it up a bit!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Menu Monday

Happy Monday! I don't know about where you live, but it's gorgeous in Charlotte today. High of 77 and bright sunshine. I'm really loving this Monday!

Here are some of our meals from this past week. We had a few nights where we went out and some nights of leftovers, so I'm only sharing 3 recipes today. Hope you'll link up!

Someone may have gone overboard when topping my plate with Manchego. Oh well! 

This was in my Real Simple magazine a few months ago, and I decided to give it a shot. It's good, but I think I wilted our arugula too much? Maybe a little less next time. Still a great pasta, and pretty different from other pasta dishes we typically make. 

This is a skinnytaste favorite! I love steak, and this salsa with it makes a great meal! I also made J a baked potato with it since he likes a carb with his meals. I was happy with just the steak and salsa!

Okay, your turn! Link up below!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Another 5 for Friday

Five things I'm enjoying this week....

1. Nancy Holtzman and Isis Parenting. I am sorry if you follow me on twitter and you've already seen my millions of tweets about this, but you guys. If you're a new mom, you need be following Nancy on twitter. This lady is a baby guru and knows so much about baby sleep and breastfeeding. I'm a big fan. Also, the Isis webinars (that are FREE!) are so wonderful. I've been listening to old ones while I cook and do chores around the house and I've learned SO much. 

2. OPI Strawberry Margarita on my toenails. Bright pinks and corals on my nails definitely make it feel more like spring, even if it continues to be in the 40's and 50's outside!

3. Bruno Mars' album Unorthodox Jukebox. I may be slightly behind the times, but I just got a copy of this CD, and I'm really liking it.

4. Lemon La Croix, my new beverage of choice (when I'm not drinking a McD's fountain's a terrible addiction)

5.  Feedly. This is what I've found to replace Google Reader, and I never though I'd say this, but I'm pretty glad Google Reader is going away because it got me to try Feedly. I love the layout, AND it will automatically import all your Google Reader subscriptions into it. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Embracing the Camera: Week 3

Another week of Embracing the Camera with my baby girl. 
Go here for more info on this wonderful concept.

On Monday after all our buddies came over to play, we headed out for walk with J when he got home from work. One of the perks of more sunlight and nice weather is evening walks before and/or after dinner!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No boys allowed!

The schools in Charlotte are on spring break this week, which means teachers are also on spring break! I'm excited to see a lot of my teacher buddies as they enjoy their week off.

On Monday, M and I had a bunch of our "blog" buddies over for lunch since Michelle is home on spring break. It was so much fun playing with all these baby girls. I still can't believe that we all have girls!

From left to right: Katie, Faith, Michelle (with one of Faith's twins!), Ashley, and Me!
Our babies all range in age from 3 weeks to 5 much fun!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Baby's First Easter

This past Sunday we had a wonderful first Easter. It was very low key, but really nice. Easter may just be my favorite holiday. I love the meaning behind it, the music we sing in church, the pretty pastel clothes and dresses, Easter baskets, and CANDY! I can get behind all of those things. And to me, it's always been much more laid back than Christmas. A no stress holiday is something else I can appreciate. 

M had a great morning in her Easter dress. I had to snap a few pictures before she spit up on it and had to be changed. Very typical in this house! Forgive me for the large picture dump, but I just couldn't pick one favorite.

Her Easter basket had no candy this year (because Mommy would have just eaten it all), but it did have a bib for starting solids in a few weeks! She also got her first Bible, some soft blocks, and an O-ball. 

I took a few pictures before we headed outside, but the lighting is terrible in most of them, but check out this face. She is definitely a sassy little lady.

M's dad may have gotten a small treat from the Easter Bunny with some candy and new leather flip flops. Mainly because the Easter Bunny saw the flip flops on sale and knew someone who was in great need of some flip flops after using an old pair for about 7+ years....

And to top off our Easter weekend, she woke up Monday morning with a TOOTH! It's just barely poking through, but there's definitely a teeny tiny tooth hanging out! Maybe this was just her way of telling me she is ready for some jelly beans and a chocolate bunny now. Sorry baby'll have to wait awhile.

Hope your family had a wonderful Easter weekend!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Menu Monday

I know I'm a little late, but at least it's still Monday!

Penne with Sausage Bake + Salad

Andouille, Shrimp, and Chicken Stuffed Peppers (I'll post the link later when I get it from J!)

Link up below!