Friday, May 31, 2013

Five for Friday

1. Our garden! J is the real gardener and does most the work, but I water it from time to time, so we'll call it "our garden. We're growing snap peas, cucumber, three types of tomatoes, several different herbs, spinach, lettuce, and arugula. The other night we ate some cilantro from the garden in a corn salsa I made for dinner. Cannot wait till we have tomatoes! We had great success with our garden in Norfolk three years ago, but haven't gardened the past two summers due to moving and then pregnancy/J's torn ACL. Let's hope we have good luck again!

M was outside helping me take photos of the garden box!

2. THIS hilarious breakdown of Mandy Moore's 1999 video for Candy. It's a well known fact that Mandy Moore is probably my least favorite celebrity out there. The gal drives me crazy in her acting roles, so when my friend Tyler sent me this, I laughed for hours.

3. This activity table for my little stander! Since M loves to stand these days, I thought it was time to retire some of her older toys and get something that would help her stand, so I got this table from a sweet lady on Craigslist. So many of her toys are wonderful while she's interested in them, but after 2-3 months, that interest is long gone, so I hate spending $50 on each toy. Thanks to CL, I got her table for $15. Can't beat that!

4. My hydrangea! This may seem so silly, but y'all, I totally thought I had killed this plant over the winter. But low and's alive! And blooming!!! It's a spring time miracle!

5. My summer swim suit from Athleta! I've sort of been dreading swim suit season all winter so I ordered about 10 different pieces from Athleta (hooray free shipping and returns allowing me to try everything on in my home!) and ended up with this. I also love that I was able to get the top in a long for extra coverage. I've been wearing it weekly to M's swim lessons, and I've been really pleased!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

7 Months

Another month is coming to an end which means another another month in the books for M!
Last Saturday she turned seven months old. 

My sweet baby, I know I say this each month, but where is the time going? I just don't know how it's flying by so quickly.  

You continue to amaze us each day. You are getting bigger and bigger, and I'd have to say your gross motor skills are developing at lightning speed! You aren't crawling yet, but you are so close. You can scoot backwards quite well, and you're constantly getting up on all 4's and rocking and moving. You have started to show us that you know how to move those legs, but it just hasn't completely clicked yet. I'm sure you'll be all over the place soon! For now, I will continue enjoying this fun phase where you stay in one (mostly) place. You love to sit with your toys and play, and we spend a lot of our waking hours on the floor of the living room together.

You've gotten REALLY good at pulling yourself up this month. Whether it's using my hands, your crib, a laundry basket, the legs of your high can pull yourself up to your feet and you are quite proud of this accomplishment. You light up once you're on those feet. You also like to do this in the bathtub, but I'm not too happy about that. I have to sit you back down and say "bottoms down" in the tub over and over. I am hoping you'll eventually listen. That's probably wishful thinking!

No new teeth this month and from what I can tell, I don't think any are coming in soon. But you are still putting everything in your mouth. If you can get yours hands on it, you eat it!

Speaking of eating, this past month's biggest change has been your transition from an exclusive breast milk diet to breast milk PLUS solid food! We are feeding you with the mentality that "food is for fun until you're one" and letting you take the lead and explore. I would say your favorite food is steamed brocoli, but you also like sweet potatoes a lot and avocados. You've also tried watermelon, carrots, apples, pears, bananas, steak, chicken, cucumbers, blueberries, snap peas, and bell peppers. There's been nothing you've flat out hated, but you definitely enjoy some more than others. Up until now you've really only been eating dinner. You make a huge mess and eat a small amount at each meal, but I know you're definitely getting food in your belly! 

You still nurse five times a day. And I can also say that about half way through the month, your naps finally started to regulate. You transitioned from three to two naps this month and it's been a great change. You nap for about 45min-1hour in the morning and about 1.5-2 hours in the afternoon. So many people told me it would take awhile to find our nap rhythm, and it did, but now that we're here I think we're all a little happier!

One last thing I must note for this month is how much you LOVE your puppies. Rosie has become your best buddy and the two of you will just roll and play on the floor together. You pull her hair and ears, you climb on her head, and that sweet dog doesn't mind at all. She certainly is a stubborn dog and drives us crazy somedays, but then when we see her interact with you, we quickly forget all of that! Layla loves you, but it has to be on her terms! She loves to give you kisses, but she's not crazy about getting her fur pulled or being tackled. Either way, when either dog walks in the room, you light up. I love seeing this!

We love you so much little girl. Each day that passes we just fall more and more in love with you!

Weight: 19 lbs. 3 oz.
Height: Need to measure still
Diapers: Size 3 in disposables
Clothes: 9 or 12 months. We can squeeze you into a couple 6 month things still, but not many!
Eyes: I actually think they've gotten bluer this month!
Hair: It's still coming in, but still light!

Other notes....
-You had your very first night being put down by someone other than Mom or Dad! Your Gigi came and stayed with you one evening while we went to a concert and put you to bed.
- You are making more and more sounds with syllables! Lots of Mamamamama or Dada or Bababa. I know you still have no idea what you're saying, but I love to hear it!
- You have taken a  new interest in the paci. For months you were just "so so" with it, but these days you really seem to like it when you're sleepy or worked up.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dream jobs...

Before becoming a stay at home, I taught elementary school. And I knew from about the age of eight that that was the job for me. However, who doesn't ever day dream about doing something different? We all have dream jobs like being on Broadway or playing a professional sport, but then I think we also have dreams of other more realistic jobs. If I could go back to school and do it all over again, here are five jobs I would consider pursuing...
1. Graphic Design: I don't really know if I'd be any good at this, but after years and years of scrapbooking, I think I'd enjoy the process of designing different layouts and playing with different fonts and color combinations. I know there's MUCH more to the job than this, but these are the parts that intrigue me. I have considered learning how to pursue blog designing, but just haven't done it. I know my husband could help me with the tech side of things, but there's still a lot I'd have to learn!

2. Nursing: I have always said teaching is the hardest job out there....but only behind nursing! Nurses work so hard to help others, and there was a period of my life in high school where I sort of considered switching my career path to nursing, but then I found out how much science it required and well...I quickly changed my tune! 

3. Higher Eduction: I don't know what exactly I'd like to do in higher ed, but I think I'd enjoy working for a university...possibly in admissions, an alumni office, or maybe even in career counseling? I never really even considered other career options in college, but several friends of mine have gone on to pursue jobs at different universities (in non teaching roles), and I really think I'd enjoy it. I was a tour guide in college and worked with a lot of prospective students and I loved it. I will say though, I think I'd have a tough time working for a university that wasn't mine!

4. Computer Resource Teacher: While teaching elementary school, one of my favorite parts of the job was utilizing new technology to enhance lessons and student engagement. If we had stayed in Virginia, I think I definitely would have looked really closely at getting my certification for this job in Virginia Beach, mostly because I like how this role looked in the schools. Here in Charlotte, it's a much different job where I'd be teaching "computer" classes to kids, but in VB our CRS helped us (the teachers) learn how to use products and she put together different activities and lessons for us to use with our students. I would love to do this full time.

5. Lactation Consultant: This is a new one on my list. When I delivered M last fall, I found that my hospital room was revolving door of different medical personel...doctors, nurses, technicians, and lactation consultants. I quickly found that my hospital employed some AMAZING LC's, and these ladies were so helpful and resourceful to me in those early days of nursing. This is a relatively "new" job out there, but I have loved my experience nursing my baby, and I'd love to spend my working hours helping other new moms have successful nursing journeys with their little ones. I have done a little research on what it would take to become an IBCLC, and it would definitely be a LOT of work, but it's something I am keeping in the back of my mind for now!

So there you have it! That's my list of dream jobs! 
What would you be doing if you weren't in your line of work?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Embrace the Camera: Week 7 with Gigi

I decided to put a slight spin on my picture for this week. Instead of a picture of me and my girl, this week my own mom got in the picture with M. In addition to having lots of pictures with her mom and dad, I also want M to have lots of photos with her grandparents. How cute are these two? 

My sweet mom came to stay with us for about 24 hours earlier this week so J and I could go out to a concert. How wonderful is that? She is a busy lady these days with an 18 year old who is graduating in two weeks, but she managed to make a quick trip for us and we are very grateful! And I know M was in wonderful hands while we were out for the night...even if she completely refused her bottle before bed.

And while I'm on the subject, I need to brag for a moment about the concert we went to see. We saw Sara Bareilles who was here on her Brave Enough Tour. I've always liked her music, but last year when we watched her alongside Ben Folds as a judge on The Sing Off, J and I both really took a liking to her. We had said if we got the chance to see her, we'd definitely go, so here was our chance. It was just Sara and a few instruments on stage in a venue that seats about 430 people. It was one of the most intimate and fantastic shows I've ever seen. She is so talented. One of those artists who is even better in person than they are on a recording (ie...NOT Taylor Swift).

I didn't manage to get any good photos, but my friend Meaghan took this at Sara's show in Portland a few weeks ago, so I'm stealing her picture for the day!

She sang a lot from her first two albums, an amazing version of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", and then a few songs off her new album. Her new single, "Brave," is so catchy. And the words...oh how I love it! My new mantra....

And then she also opened her show with this tune. She said that this is one song she doesn't have recorded anywhere and it won't be on her next album, but oh my gosh...I think it's so beautiful.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Menu Monday

Monday Monday!

Here's what we were eating this up your own meal plans below! 
I love to see what others put on their meal plans!

Blue Cheese Burgers, Grilled Zucchini, and Ina's Roasted Mustard Potatoes

Yes, this burger was just as yummy as it looks!

Oven Reuben Sandwiches, Sautéed Green Beans, and Apple Sauce

Apple sauce, so random. I can't tell you the last time I had apple sauce. But I saw it in the store last week and suddenly needed to eat some apple sauce.

Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken with Snap Peas, served over Brown Rice

One of my FAVORITE summer dishes. It's a cold pasta and steak salad and it's so good when you're eating outside on a hot night.

Ham and Gruyere Paninis with Dijon Mustard and Caramlized Onions, 
served with Flax Seed Corn Chips.

J made these Sunday night and they were a big hit. I love paninis! We really should use our press more.

Link up your menu below!

ALSO!!! I won't be doing the link up next Monday since it's Memorial Day. See you in 2 weeks!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five for Friday

Five things I'm loving right now....

1. Chobani Flips. I know I'm not the only one, but Y'ALL. These things are so so delicious. I personally love the Almond Coco Loco one (it's like an Almond Joy!), but the Raspberry Choco Fix isn't so bad either! I hear there's a peach and pistachio one, but haven't been able to find it yet.

2. This TED Talk by Meg Jay, titled Why 30 is not the New 20. A friend of mine from college posted it on her blog yesterday, and I really loved what the speaker was saying. If you have fifteen minutes to spare, give it a listen.

3. You're welcome for this next one...I know a bunch of you follow me on instagram and already saw this, but for everyone else, go get you some! I found mine at Target. And apparently there's a thin mint version out there too. MUST FIND ASAP.

4. Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. I was getting tired of reading the same five books that M likes over and over and over again, so we picked up some new ones the other day. This one is a definite new favorite!

5. This. I laughed way too hard when I saw this the other night. And I am still cracking up looking at it. 

And with that, happy weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Embrace The Camera: Week 6 + MERF

Read more about Embracing the Camera here....

 As M continues to explore solid food, she continues to make a mess. We took these the other night after she tried broccoli for the first time. This girl makes us laugh so much. She is a mess, literally and figuratively!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Picnics, Craft Beer, and Being a Mom

Do you ever have weekends where you hit Sunday evening and your heart is just so full because you've spent the whole weekend with "your people" and you sort of feel like you may just burst from happiness? That was totally me on Sunday evening. I just love my little family.

My husband planned a wonderful first Mother's Day for me, and little M was such a trooper being out of the house for most the day! After church, we went to Five Guys (my faaaaaavorite!) to pick up lunch to take to the park. It was such a gorgeous day in Charlotte. Perfect weather for a picnic!

After eating lunch, playing on the swings, and crawling all over mom and dad, we walked around the park some. M was out within minutes...this is a rare sight these days. She doesn't seem to fall asleep in public much anymore since she's so busy taking it all in. Poor baby was worn out!

Miraculously, we managed to transfer the sleeping baby to her car seat and headed up to NoDa to visit Birdsong Brewery. I've had their beers at restaurants in town a few times, but we hadn't been able to visit the brewery since they opened during my pregnancy. 

We quickly discovered that Mother's Day is a great time to visit a brewery tap room; hardly anyone was there. We sat out on their patio and shared a flight and some peanuts. M woke up after a her snooze and joined us at the table.

When we got home, we skyped with both of our Moms and wished them a happy Mother's Day. I love that we can still see them, even though they're 5 hours away!

There's nothing more I could have asked for on my first Mother's Day! Spending time with the two I love most, beautiful weather, and sampling some craft beer...perfection. After M went to bed we watched some Breaking Bad (we finished season 3....holy moly), which definitely made my blood pressure rise, but it was still a great ending to a wonderful day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Menu Monday

I had such a nice Mother's Day yesterday, and with all the fun, I never got around to putting together my MM post. Sorry this is going up a little late! Hope you'll still link up with us this week!

These were another find from great magazine clean out of 2013. They were found in an old Real Simple, and boy were they good! We added a little cilantro to the top of our and they were perfect!

Grilled Creole Shrimp, Roasted Asparagus, and Grilled Bell Peppers

This is the creole seasoning I used...

No real recipe here, just sprinkle the seasoning with some olive oil on the shrimp, and then grill until pink! This was an easy one.

Tequila Lime Chicken with Cuban Black Beans

This is one of my favorite Pioneer Woman meals. I love this chicken! And the black beans are from a can from TJ's. I usually make my own pico to put on top, but once again, TJ's came through for me and I bought their pre-made pico!

This is one J really loves. It's a different take on pesto, but so good. He made this last night for Mother's Day, and I can speak from experience, it goes very well with a nice glass of red wine!

Please link up your meal plans below. And happy cooking!

Friday, May 10, 2013

In case you felt like you needed a happy cry today....

Hope all the mommies out there have a wonderful Mother's Day this weekend!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hashtag Merf - the first few days of solid foods...

We have survived almost 2 weeks of M eating solid food!
I've started calling her MERF (M Eats Real Food) and it's started to stick at dinner time. I've been labeling all her dinner pictures with #merf on instagram, and it makes me laugh reading it out loud!
Here's my little Merf during her first meal...

We are feeding her using the Baby Led Weaning approach, which has led to a lot of fun and a lot of messes! I know there are lots of mamas out there feeding their babies finger foods and skipping purees, we are certainly not the first! But I thought I'd share some of what she's been eating. Before we started, I looked at DOZENS of blogs that recapped babies experiences with BLW. It helped give me ideas for foods to try and some general tips. Here's what my little piglet has been eating so far...

Roasted Sweet Potato - cut into "fries" and drizzled with a little olive oil
Avocado - cut into strips
Roasted Pears - cut into strips, skin left on to help give texture
Roasted Zucchini - cut into strips, skin left on to help give texture
Banana - cut into strips or left inside the peel
Cucumber -  cut into strips, some skin left on to help give texture
Steamed Carrots - peeled large carrots and cut them into sticks for her

Another helpful piece of advice I read somewhere was to cut the food with a crinkle cutter. It helps give slippery foods a little more texture. We had one in a drawer that I got as a wedding shower gift almost five years ago and I've been using the heck out of it lately!  

This is definitely a learning activity for all of us! She usually shows some interest in the food on her tray and will play with it and eat some, but after 10-15 minutes, she's usually bored and wants nothing to do with it. She's eating very little at each meal, but that's entirely okay since she's still nursing 5-6 times a day. She's having fun exploring, and I want all three of us to enjoy meal times and not feel pressured to get her to eat a great deal at each sitting. We're letting her call the shots for now.

What should we introduce next? I'm hoping to try brocoli and apples soon!
What food(s) did your baby love?
How do I keep my dogs from gaining a million pounds?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Menu Monday

Tried a few new recipes this week and I'm excited to share with y'all! I have been trying hard to throw out my millions of copies of Real Simple and Everyday with Rachael Ray magazines (I have issues dating back to '04 still laying around...), but I refuse to pitch them until I go through and pull out recipes to put in my recipe binder. This has led to trying some new, and yummy dishes!

In addition to cooking a few new things, I also had some help in the kitchen. She's one helpful baby!

Okay, onto the meals! Join the link up below and share your own menu!

This was definitely a different type of salad since it was warm (and had a warm dressing), but I really liked it. A fun take on a Greek Salad.

This was such an easy and fast carbonara recipe! We grilled a basil turkey and chicken sausage from TJ's. All around easy and pleasing!

What a GREAT summer meal this was! I was a wee bit skeptical of the grilled oranges, but they were great and helped flavor the chicken some. I will definitely be making this again this summer!

Naan Pizzas with Three Bean Salad

My friend April inspired me to make these pizzas when she had an instagram picture the other night of Naan pizzas with brie and smoked salmon. Ours had brie, sliced green apple, caramelized red onions, and I topped  them with arugula after they baked. I paired them with this bean salad I found on Pinterest. Meatless meals are a  rather rare around here, but this one was a hit!

J had made this before, but I requested it again. It's a winner!

Burritos with Spicy Shredded Pork

We used habanero tortillas from TJ's, and filled our burritos with brown rice, black beans, cilantro, lime juice, cheese, and pico! Almost as good as Chipotle.

Link up your own menu below!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five for Friday

It's Friday! A year ago today, J tore his ACL. We're hoping for good vibes from the universe today that he remains injury free on May 3rd of this year. No more knee surgeries....

M and I are off to swim lessons this morning and then a hopefully a trip to Dean and Delucca with some of our playgroup buddies for an afternoon glass of wine (for mommy, not baby!). And then tonight, we're celebrating with J because as of yesterday, we have officially paid off our student loans. It's a good day!

Here are some favorites for the week....

1. These cookies from Iowa Girl Eats! I've made them before, but it had been awhile. This is probably my favorite cookie recipe! And she doesn't lie, the recipe makes a TON of cookies!

2. On Sunday my mom had her dinner group over for a "lunch" group and she set up a Panini Bar for her guests. As soon as I saw her pictures I told her I was sharing on here. I love this idea. My mom is one creative lady!

3. When I was pregnant, I found the world's most wonderful stretchy tee's at GAP Maternity. I was obsessed and lived in them through out the end of my pregnancy. I was sad to retire them once I hit the one month post partum mark, but just recently discovered GAP sells a regular version of this shirt. It was like Christmas morning when I learned of this news! It's the tees in the Pure Body line, and I'm telling y'all. They're my favorites. They're LONG (which is important to me) and stretchy, so they don't lose their shape over the day. Seriously. Best tee ever!

4. These sippy cups from Tommee Tippee! I've started offering M a sippy with water in it through out the day, and we've tried a few different cups now, and these seem to be working the best for her. It's harder than one might think to teach a six month old how to drink from a cup. This one seems to be a good beginners cup.

5. I know I already mentioned it above, but paying off our student loans!! I usually don't talk about anything related to finances on my blog, but man...what a great feeling it is to have them paid off. We've worked really hard in our first 4.5 years of marriage to make paying those off a priority, and it's so freeing knowing that they're finally gone! I guess another of my favorites for the day could be J's detailed and perfect spreadsheets that helped us get to this point. I'm very thankful for them and for him!

Happy Weekend!