Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Baby 2 Gender Reveal!

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Well due to some awesome circumstances, we were able to have an internal ultrasound today and confirm 100% that we are having A BOY!!! 
We are so so so so SOOOOO excited for another little prince to join our "kingdom". 

I know some moms prefer the element of surprise, and some swear you can't know this early, but I will privately email the images to you if you're that worried because I promise you it is a hot dog, not a bun! 

The ultrasound tech started with an external ultrasound and we CLEARLY saw three lines today - what you typically see for "girl parts" (after seeing what we thought were early developments of "boy parts" last week). Naturally, I started to panic because all week I was thinking, "We think it's a boy! We think it's a boy!" Well, the tech had a funny feeling and there is a lot to be said about a great ultrasound technician with great instincts. She opted to perform an internal ultrasound so we could be sure and sure enough, within a few minutes of "persuading" our little prince to show us the goods, right up on the screen was our answer. Just as we believed a week ago from the scans, a little BOY is brewing in my belly. 

He already has a name, one that is very meaningful to Hubs and I, and we've been calling him by name  for months, even before he was conceived. It came to us last Easter while we were reading John in church. The name was repeated several times in those readings and it just sat right with us. And the more I hear it and say it and think it, the more in love with it I am. The more in love with HIM I am.  

I am over the moon. I feel like I am on cloud nine. I know we are only planning on having two babies and most moms would want a boy and a girl but I love LW so much that the thought of him having a partner in crime is absolutely the most wonderful thing in the world to me. Perhaps it's because I grew up with all brothers; I know having a brother is a very special thing. 

So, excuse me while I happy dance and celebrate. Finding out our baby's gender seven weeks earlier than planned is a tremendous blessing. Finding out it is a boy and we can use the name we picked out long ago for him is better than Christmas :-) 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Currently Creating: Toddler Quiet Book

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Years ago I pinned a toddler quiet book and thought "I will make this for my child!" and it has since sat on my Pinterest board alone and covered in dust, like all of the other things I've pinned thinking I have free time (which, I don't). 

Well, this weekend I wrapped up my final freelance project of the year and in the spirit of utilizing nap time for myself when I can, I started a toddler quiet book for LW. Ideally, I will finish it in time for Christmas...which may mean I will need to work on it in the evenings after bedtime but we'll see what really happens.

I mentally started this project weeks ago. I began at step one, conceptualization. I sat on the couch for an entire evening pinning, reading, planning and sketching. Did you know there is an entire community of moms and nanas who create these little beauties?! It is fascinating.

I picked a cover design I wanted, a few pages that I thought were both adorable and would stimulate LW's thinking cap, and a back cover to start. I didn't want to make the project too overwhelming from the beginning because I know I am the queen of incomplete projects. However, I am constructing it with removable rings as the binder, so I will be able to add on pages as I go.

Here are some of the favorite pages I found in my research...I can't wait to share which ones I complete!

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This one is made on sponges. SPONGES!!!!!!!
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Now, the original quiet book I pinned is called the "100 hour quiet book" which before I read the article, I assumed "Oh! This will keep toddlers occupied for 100 hours!!! DEFINITELY making it" however, once I began my research (and realized that nothing on earth keeps a toddler occupied for 100 hours...) I learned that it actually took 100 hours to make that quiet book.

Since I started yesterday and aimed to have this book complete for Christmas, I am slightly chuckling to myself. It took so many hours just to construct the cover and lay out the first page. I even have sketches of exactly what I am doing for every page, with materials purchased and sorted...but these things just cannot be rushed!

This project absolutely a passion project for me, though. I think I will enjoy creating it as much as LW enjoys playing with it. I hope I finish on time!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Plus One

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So I'm kind of a scatter-brain but I swear lately it's for good reason :) In 30-ish weeks our family is expanding :) Due June 19, 2015. Big brother Billy is all "OMG"

This morning I got to hear "B2"s heartbeat and all is well! He/She was a stinker about letting us find it, but there it was!! 175BPM

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Wild Weekend

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The month of November has F-L-O-W-N!!!! Is it just me!? I don't think it is.

Hubs asked me last night while I was writing thank you cards to my Jamberry customers why I hadn't blogged and I said I guess I'm just not inspired enough to write right now.

He said "If this week wasn't something to blog about...then I don't know what is." Let me recap:

Thursday night: LW woke at 8:45 vomiting kielbasa EVERYWHERE. Hubs and I rush in, I handle LW, Hubs handles bedding/vomit/carpet and within 25 minutes, LW is back to sleep and Hubs and I can go downstairs.
9:30 Princess starts whining and acting up...sniffing ferociously at the basement door. I said "She has something....no....there is something ALIVE under that door that she has trapped there". Hubs goes to investigate. A mouse starts hopping down the stairs. Hubs gets his "mouse catcher" (a box from new blinds and a broom) and escorts the mouse to the far side of our property.
9:35 Princess still losing her mind... I say "Can you just go down there with her and see if there are more...?" Hubs opens the door and P runs to the bottom of the stairs and into LW's play area. Where Hubs finds another mouse. This time dead, and exploded...all over LW's toys. ACK. Hubs cleans up.
9:45 Princess AGAIN losing her mind and I'm about to lose mine. She's following something that appears to be in the ceiling and as I'm sufficiently getting more and more creeped out I look, and there is a wasp on the wall – what she was following. A wasp. In Chicago. In NOVEMBER. ?!!?! Hubs kills and disposes of wasp.
11:30 Hubs and I are finally nestling into bed, drifting off to sleep and I hear that horrible, terrible, awful sound, as clear as day. LW puking. Again. Repeat steps from earlier, this time even FASTER since we were expecting it. Clean up, bathe toddler, new jammies, clean sheets, scrub carpet, new blankets, rock, rock, snuggle snuggle, out like a light. 15 minutes. Can I just reiterate how horrible the smell of vomited kielbasa is? UGH. Really horrible.

Finally, we were able to go to sleep Thursday evening. Friday Hubs was off work so he ran all of our family errands while I worked. Friday evening we moved a family heirloom from my in-laws over to our house. A 1915 Victrola. We don't have many things in our new house yet, but we are acquiring cool things!
Friday night we designed and ordered our Christmas card. CHRISTMAS!! My FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR! Some of my friends have referred to me as a "real life Buddy the Elf" because I love Santa so much. And Christmas. And snow. I can't wait to share our card with you! But, it's no fair showing you before it mails ;) Plus, it's not even Thanksgiving. I have some respect, you know.

Saturday morning I woke up feeling like it was Christmas because it was the Old Navy cardholders Black Friday Sale. WAHOO!!!! I spent way more than I planned (shocker) but I FINALLY got some real pants that fit LW and I bought myself the most comfortable PJ pants on the planet. I've asked for 150 more pairs of them for Christmas.
I learned this weekend that Old Navy toddler 18-24m pants aren't as long as the "baby" 18-24 month pants. However, the toddler 18-24m pants have the zipper and button like real jeans, which helps TREMENDOUSLY in getting pants over a cloth booty. Plus, the toddler jeans come in skinny and WOW are they cute. We love Project Pomona pants but for $8/pair at Old Navy, I couldn't resist giving their jeans a shot to try with his cloth bottom.

Saturday evening we had a church pot luck and worship rather than having worship on Sunday morning so I made our favorite brisket recipe.
I usually must let it slow cook 8-10 hours because this time I only did 6 and it wasn't as tender as I like. BUT, the brisket was gone in a flash and I used the leftover BBQ sauce to make sloppy joe's on Sunday. YUM! Waste not, want not :)

For Christmas this year we have already finished our shopping for LW because he is getting the most tremendous Christmas gift ever. A SWING SET! He'll have things to "open" also, but a family member of a close friend offered us a deal we couldn't refuse on this beauty. It may not look like much now, but I can't wait to look out the window and see LW and his pals playing on it for years to come.
Finally, Sunday. We didn't have church in the morning so the plan was to "sleep in". Which, originally we laughed at the thought. "Sleep in" with an 18 month old?! HA! Well.... we've recently moved LW into a toddler bed and the beauty of that is that instead of crying when he wakes up, he gets out of bed and (typically) knocks on his door to let us know he's awake. Sunday morning he unplugged his monitor and proceeded to cruise his room. For I'm not sure how long....Hubs and I lazily opened our eyes and started chatting at 8:45am and looked at the clock. "OH NO IT'S ALMOST NINE". I leapt out of bed and ran to LW's room to make sure he was okay and sure enough, he was twirling and dancing around his room, jolly as you please. He looked up at me like, "Oh, hey! You're up!"

LW and I had a 2nd birthday party in the afternoon for a friend from the old neighborhood at this SUPER fun play spot very close to our house. If you're in the NW burbs - check out Kids Club Party & Fun! Apparently they have Groupons often and it was a FUNNNNN two hours!!
I love giving gifts that aren't toys and take a little creativity to construct. For our birthday boy friend, I built a gift basket full of all organic and gluten-free snacks! Birthday Boy's mom has Celiac's so I know diet is really important to her for her son. I had a BLAST constructing it and with a World Market coupon, it kept the gift totally within my "birthday gift" budget.
For some people on our lists that seem to have "everything", a gift basket full of treats they may not splurge on normally is a really fun and inventive gift. Hubs and I love giving baskets full of wine, cheese, crackers and sausage to his dad for Christmas every year. And every year we have such a great time building them! Then all year long when we visit, we munch on the little treats from the basket.

What's your favorite creative gift to give?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Toddler Snack: Pumpkin Pie Popcorn Mix

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As you know, my latest endeavor with a few other mamas is on Instagram called "What I Feed My Kid". I am constantly striving to discover delicious, healthy treats that LW will actually eat.

Since we began his journey with food through baby led weaning, he's always eaten anything in front of him. Recently the toddler picky eater stage has kicked in and some days for dinner he eats a tube of string cheese and a grape. It is exhausting and frustrating.

This afternoon I was cruising Parents.com for healthy snack ideas and struck gold in this article. Sure, it has a lot of obvious choices of hummus, fruit and cheese but I got an idea to start something new: Making my own snack mix!

Recently I got an air popper and I'm so obsessed with it that LW and I have popcorn as a snack nearly every day. I'm getting a little tired of the standard butter with salt (which that in and of itself is shocking) and have been thinking of making my own caramel corn for the holidays. Not healthy, but HELLO!!! Delicious.

Well, I decided to put that air popper to use and try something a little wacky today. I made my own snack mix for L-Dub. I used ingredients I had on hand and it was SO fun to create.

Tomorrow is grocery shopping day so we are out of fruit and I wanted LW to have a snack he'd really enjoy....that wasn't cheese. Jackpot! This one is a winner.

Ingredients
1/4 C unpopped popcorn kernels (I prefer white kernels)
1/4 C (heaping) dried fruit and nut mix, chopped
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C plain oyster crackers
2 T coconut oil, melted
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t cinnamon sugar blend

I simply popped the popcorn, melted the coconut oil, then tossed everything in the bowl and lightly mixed. I made sure all of the ingredients were evenly coated with the spices and coconut oil. 

The end result is sweet from the cinnamon sugar and savory from the nuts plus a little warmth from the pumpkin pie spice. When LW ate it, he had pumpkin pie breath too, which is adorably sweet :) 

I plan to keep this stuff around all the time now that I know LW loves it!

You can mix different things in, depending on what you have on hand. Next round I think I'll try a popcorn blend with ranch mix, salted nuts, pretzels and crackers..the possibilities are endless, really! Plus, with the holidays coming up, how adorable would this be wrapped up in a pretty clear bag with a bow on it for your favorite play date pals?!

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Parents Care Package

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Whenever close friends or relatives have babies I like to deliver a simple meal the family can enjoy for a few days. When the new family isn't close enough to drop off a meal, a friend of mine gave me the idea to send a care package for the new family.
Most recently I became an aunt and my niece lives in Arizona! Obviously I couldn't ship a crock pot meal or stack of pancakes that far, so I sent a simple care package the whole family would enjoy.

1) For Mommy & Daddy: Pink Norwex EnviroCloth I clean almost exclusively with Norwex products, and every parent needs at least one EnviroCloth to have on hand. A damp EC can clean every mess - ESPECIALLY high chair messes!
2) For Mommy: Aromatherapy Mineral Bath when you're a new mom it's so hard to take time for yourself, but after what your body just went through in giving birth it is so important to take that time to heal! I love aromatherapy baths.
3) For Baby: California Baby Calming Cream Everyone has their own idea of what "baby" smells like and to me, it's "Calming" by Cali Baby.
4) For Daddy (or Mommy): Dark Chocolate A little sweetness goes a long way to help me step back for a minute and remember life is wonderful. Early parenthood can be so stressful and overwhelming,  a square of this is a nice little reminder that life is sweet :)
5) For Doggie: Squeak Toy Don't forget the pets! If the new parents you're sending a package to have a four-legged friend or two, be sure to include something for them in the package. Their lives just changed dramatically too, you know!

What do you send or give to new parents?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

DIY Halloween Costumes: Finding Nemo

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This year I wanted our family to have a "theme" costume. I know it sounds dorky but come on, it's so cute!! After weeks of researching and trying to find the best DIY costumes, Hubs suggested that LW go as Nemo, his favorite character (we just learned).
Through good 'ole Pinterest I found this tutorial for No-Sew Finding Nemo Costume. I bought brand new hoodies from Kohl's for this costume and I know it sounds ridiculous, but they were really nice and definitely will work for us for the rest of the winter, so I wanted to sew the stripes on and remove them after Halloween rather than hot glue on the stripes and ruin the sweaters.

I used the instructions from this tutorial (same as above link) and bought 1/2 yard of both black and white felt to use for the stripes. I also wanted to make a Dory costume for myself, so I bought a sheet of yellow felt to make my fins and tail.

The whole process was a snap. I simply measured by eyeballing how much felt I needed for each section of stripe and cut with a rotary blade.

I stitched everything together with a long basting stitch (4.5) and that was it! For all three costumes it took me under two hours.

Hubs had the most difficult costume to sew because I bought his hoodie in a high-performance fleece, which had WAY too much stretch. The stretch in that material vs. my machine vs. cheap felt was pretty rough. His costume took the longest and still didn't come out beautifully, but the theme is obvious, especially when standing with LW and I.

My Dory took about 5 minutes and LW's Nemo costume took about 45 min. Dory only used one sheet of yellow felt, a scrap of black and a blue sweater:
For Dory I just tacked those little ovals on the elbows with a few basting stitches for "fins" and used the center of the felt between where the ovals were cut as my "tail". I stitched the yellow to a matching scrap of black felt that was slightly larger so it looked like it had piping.

In total with hoodies and felt materials (I already had needles, thread and a sewing machine) this family costume cost under $40. I used coupons for both Kohl's and Hobby Lobby.

Here are the finished Nemo and Marlin. Full family photo coming soon!
If you're stumped on what to be this Halloween, it's not too late! This costume comes together in no time.