Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 List from 2011

We hope that you had a Merry Christmas and that you have a Happy New Year! 
We are looking forward to 2012.


Our Top 10 List from 2011...
10. Learning to snowboard at age 30 is much harder than learning to snowboard at age six.
 

9. Sophie does not like bears. At all. Neither does Cheree.
 

8. There’s no reason to limit vacation souvenirs to overpriced T-shirts. Canoes make much better souvenirs, and it’s cheaper than renting one for a week.
 

7. That full moon causing labor stuff may actually be valid (or was it the morning’s kickboxing session, or the afternoon hike?)
 

6.  Packing your bags in advance for the hospital is overrated for your first child. You’ll have time after your water breaks - while your husband is finishing up grilling the steaks - before you head to the hospital.
 

5. Five minutes of cuddling with a sleeping baby can erase five hours of memories of his fussiness.
 

4. Vibrating bouncers for babies are magical.
 

3. Living close to two time zones means it takes two hours to get to Chattanooga from our house, but coming home takes no “time.”
 

2. It would seem that Christmas trees are larger in your living room than they appear to be in a 50-acre field surrounded by other large Christmas trees.
 

1. We managed to make it through another year with no trips to the ER! *We will now retire this since "no ER trips" has made our list the last 3 years!
If you are interested, here are our Top 10 List from Years Past 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | We skipped 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 

Friday, December 30, 2011

52 Books: Honorable Mentions

Now that I have a child I would be remiss if I did not include the books that I have read to my boy...


If I Could Keep You Little...
by Marianne Richmond


 
Corduroy 
by Don Freeman

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? 
by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
 The Foot Book 
by Dr. Seuss

52 Books: Book 52


Another year and another 52 books done. I wrapped up 2011 by reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This is one of my favorite stories of all time. My mom may be shocked to hear that either I never actually read Little Women or I have long since forgotten much of the written story.

The 1949 version of Little Women starring Elizabeth Taylor as Amy was watched repeatedly in our home when I was growing up and reading the book I was surprised at how closely this film followed the first half of the book. The second half is not followed quite as closely but was appropriate for the screen.

Growing up, I was disappointed that Laurie and Jo's romance never blossomed. It always bothered me. I wanted so badly for Jo {who I wanted to be like} to marry Laurie {who I adored} and it made me sad that the movie didn't end the way I thought it should. I think the book does a better job of making the case for why Jo and Laurie would never make a good pair. Either that or I have matured enough to understand and appreciate why Alcott wrote the story the way she did.

Anyways this wraps up another year of 52 books and I am glad to end with this classic story that I love.

Excerpts from the book:
Money is a needful and precious thing,--and, when well used, a noble thing,--but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.
I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good. To be admired, loved, and respected. To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience.
The best of us have a spice of perversity in us, especially when we are young and in love.

Don't neglect husband for children, don't shut him out of the nursery, but teach him how to help in it. His place is there as well as yours, and the children need him. Let him feel that he has a part to do, and he will do it gladly and faithfully, and it will be better for you all.

One discovered that money couldn't keep shame and sorrow out of rich people's houses, another that, though she was poor, she was a great deal happier, with her youth, health, and good spirits, than a certain fretful, feeble old lady who couldn't enjoy her comforts...

Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility--'Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

52 Books: Book 51


The year is drawing to an end and I think I just might make it to my goal of 52 books – new baby and all.

A friend recommended that I read The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. I have been reading it off and on since Jack was born. At times it felt odd to read a book that is specifically addressing parents of colicky babies as Jack is already a pretty happy baby and generally sleeps well. However I pushed on and discovered that the steps recommended in this book work for my happy baby too.

Those evenings that Jack is fussier than usual or when Daniel is watching Jack while I run errands or when I need to lay Jack down for his nap but he just wants to be held. In each of these scenarios, the 5 S's have worked marvelously for us.

The steps are Swaddle, Side, Shhhh, Swing, and Suck. We had been kind of lax on the swaddling because Jack likes to have his hands available – he is a very tactile baby. But when he is fussy, swaddling combined with the other steps really does work.

I think these steps help Daniel to feel like he can do something to calm Jack down instead of waiting for me to get home so that I can feed him. 

I would definitely recommend this book to new parents.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: 6Weeks5Days PostPartum


I really thought I would be back into a regular exercise routine by now. Unfortunately Thanksgiving and Christmas have gotten in the way of my plans. The rest of the time I have just been plain tired from being a mom. Those 8:00 and 9:00 am workouts come really early when you have been up in the middle of the night to feed your baby.

The best thing about the past week is that I got to stop giving myself daily injections of Lovenox in my stomach. I can't tell you how happy to be done with that. Nine months of shots is not my cup of tea.

This week we discovered the joys of the 5 S's (Swaddling, Side/Stomach, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking) from The Happiest Baby on the Block. This method is allowing me to be able to lay Jack down for his naps without holding him the entire time... which in turn means I can actually get stuff done while Jack naps - yay!

I have had several people ask me about cloth diapers recently so I will be posting in the next day or so about our cloth diapering experience.

pleated poppy

What I Wore Wednesday:
Sweater from Old Navy. 
Jeans from Banana Republic. 
Scarf was a Christmas present from a friend.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jack's First Christmas

 

Daniel and I spent the last couple of days talking about the things we remember most about Christmas when we were kids and how we can recapture the magic of our childhoods for Jack. Specifically what old traditions that we each grew up with that we want to incorporate as well as what new traditions we would like to add.


This year, we are still getting our bearings as new parents and Christmas for a one month old is more for the grandparents and aunts/uncles than it is for our baby. 


We are looking forward to next year when Jack can be more involved in the Christmas festivities. But for now, we cherish being able to cuddle our sweet little one.


We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with Daniel's mom, sisters and grandparents.


Christmas morning we went to church with Daniel's mom, Regina, and sister, Emily. Regina had a ball showing off her grandson. Daniel thought this scenario was probably our pediatrician's worst nightmare, but Jack sure seemed to love all of the people gushing over him.


For Christmas lunch we met up with Daniel's dad. Emily had the foresight to check health ratings and online reviews beforehand and found us an Asian restaurant that happened to have a Hibachi Grill. 


It was a huge step up from the usual Chinese buffet fare and I was excited because I love Hibachi and Daniel and I rarely go. Jack slept through the whole thing – banging knives, flaming grill and all. Though he did startle at the fire at the table next to us when we first arrived.


I hope you had a Merry Christmas celebrating with your loved ones


We will spend the rest of the week recovering.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: 5Weeks5Days PostPartum

The past week has been super busy. Mostly with visiting. Having a baby brings out the visitors in droves, but we don't mind.


Last Friday we had lunch with our friends, the Reynolds. Saturday, Daniel's mom, grandmother and sisters came for a visit. Sunday we had missionary friends from South Africa drop by for lunch. Sunday evening, Daniel's dad came and took us to dinner. Monday, Daniel's sister Amy came for an overnight stay. Tuesday night we went to a Christmas party with the engineering group from TVA. Wednesday was my first Pinterest Craft Day and my brother, Mark, came for an overnight stay.


If we weren't busy enough, we have a trip to Nashville planned for Christmas and then finally some time to breathe. Next week will bring more visits from friends and then a trip back to Nashville to see my family after the new year.

 Daniel and his sisters.

I am so thankful my recovery from birth has been swift. Otherwise this might be a bit much. As is, I am loving having interaction with so many people. Don't get me wrong, I love my time with Jack, but it is nice to have adult conversations.

 My brother watching documentaries with Jack.

Last Friday I had my follow-up OB visit and I have been cleared to return to life as normal. I can't wait to start ramping up my exercise routines again. Though I have decided to hold off during the holidays while we have so many visitors. No point in wearing myself out any more than I have to...

pleated poppy

What I Wore Wednesday: 
Tuesday Christmas Party: Shirt from Walmart, Skirt from Gap, Boots from Target. 
Wednesday: Shirt from J. Crew, Jeans from Kohl's, Chacos from REI.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pin It

Back in October I blogged about my desire to be more proactive in actually taking my Pinterest inspiration and putting it to use. Two months and one baby later, I finally decided to start a Pinterest craft day and I asked my friend, Laura, if she wanted to join me. We have decided to get together at least once a month to craft and today kicked off our first official Pinterest Craft Day.


Our crafts of choice included a Paper Book Wreath for Laura and quilted Christmas stockings for me.


 

Interestingly enough back in December of 2009 I made a paper book wreath and started working on a set of Christmas stockings but never finished (after 9 years of marriage, Daniel and I still don't have Christmas stockings).



Laura liked my wreath and wanted to make one for herself and I wanted to get my stockings made, so we spent the afternoon hanging out and working on our various projects.

Progress on our projects {my 2009 wreath is on the right}.

52 Books: Book 50


How is it that I am 31 years old and I am just now reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens? I have seen various movie versions of this story, but had never taken the time to read the classic book. I am so glad I did. It was a good reminder of what is important at this time of year. No bah humbugs here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

52 Books: Book 49


I admit it. I resisted reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I guess it seemed too mainstream or something. I never did get into Harry Potter or Twilight and I suppose I lumped it in as part of a trendy genre of books. 

Anyways, I got a free download of The Hunger Games on my Kindle Fire and I read it and I am totally hooked. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy. Maybe I need to revisit my thoughts on trendy literature...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

52 Books: Book 48


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba is the true story of how William grew up in Malawi and was forced to drop out of school because of a famine that occurred in 2002. During this period William starts visiting a local library in an effort to continue his education on his own. 

This library has a total of three rows of books that have been donated from all over the world. His visits to the library lead him to a book called Explaining Physics. He slowly starts making his way through this book, digesting the diagrams and looking up the English words in a dictionary. He is so enthralled by the book that he decides to build his own small windmill. 

The local villagers call him a madman because all they see is a boy who is collecting trash and building a structure that is inconceivable to them. In the end William builds a functioning windmill and has a dream to build a structure that light up his entire village and another that can pump water and prevent starvation during any future droughts.

Through chance, William is discovered and helped by a group of people that see his potential. He is even given an opportunity to tell his story at a TED conference which opens up a whole new world for him.

I found the entire book to be fascinating, though parts of it went into a bit too much detail on the mechanics of building a windmill. It also made me aware of how little I pay attention to what is happening in the rest of the world.

Excerpts from the book:
...we did many of the same things children do all over the world, only with slightly different materials... Children everywhere have similar ways of entertaining themselves. If you look at it this way, the world isn't so big.

The dynamo had given me a small taste of electricity, and that made me want to figure out how to create my own... Once the sun goes down, and if there's no moon, everyone stops what they're doing, brushes their teeth, and just goes to sleep... Who goes to bed at seven in the evening? Well, I can tell you, most of Africa.

It's funny to me now – at this conference in East Africa, with some of the world's greatest minds in science and technology just outside the door, there I was in this room seeing the Internet for the first time. They could have put a blinking sign over my head and charged admission.

"Africans bend what little they have to their will every day. Using creativity, they overcome Africa's challenges. Where the world sees trash, Africa recycles. Where the world sees junk, Africa sees rebirth."

"After I drop out from school, I went to library... and I get information about windmill... And I try, and I made it."

One of the things I noticed in New York is that people don't have time for anything, not even to sit down for coffee – instead, they drink it from paper cups while they walk and send e-mails.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nine Years and Counting


Daniel and I have now been married for NINE years. Can that be right? I feel like we just started dating. Now we have a mortgage. And a dog. And a baby. And lots and lots and lots of wonderful memories.

Happy Anniversary to the one I love the most. I love you Moore.

Gingerbread Cookie Ornaments

In the last couple of years Daniel and I have started the tradition of having two Christmas trees {mostly due to having a living room and a bonus room}. Anyways, our bonus room holds our small, fake tree that we bought from Big Lots when we were first married {9 years ago}. We decorate this tree with the ornaments that we have been collecting over the years.


The second tree is a {large} real tree in our living room. We decorate this tree with white twinkle lights and homemade ornaments – usually I bake gingerbread cookies and string popcorn. This year's tree is ginormous and seeing that I am a new mom, I decided {wisely} that I didn't have time to string popcorn. Instead I made a white and red paper ring garland out of construction paper {pictures to come in a later post}.


Yesterday, thanks to my Moby Wrap, I was able to spend an afternoon baking cookies without Jack fussing too much. 


I tried a new recipe this year and am really pleased with the outcome.

I will write another post later this week when the tree is finished being decorated, so keep posted.

Gingerbread Cookie Ornament Recipe

Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp Crisco
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 cups flour 
  • 2 cups water

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat Crisco and sugar together in a large bowl. 
  • Stir in molasses.
  • Mix baking soda, ground cloves, ginger, cinnamon and flour together in a large bowl. 
  • Alternate adding the water and flour mixture to the shortening mixture.
  • Stir until mixed thoroughly and refrigerate 2 hours.
  • Divide dough into three equal sections and knead each section lightly
  • Use a rolling pin to roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness.
  • Use festive cookie cutters to cut out your ornaments.
  • Use a drinking straw or chopstick to make a hole at the top of each ornament.
  • Place cookie cutouts on cookie sheets and bake for about 20 minutes. 
  • Place cookies on cooling racks to harden.
  • Thread a 12-inch length of narrow ribbon through the hole at the top of each ornament. Knot the ends of the ribbon and hang your ornaments.
Makes about 6 dozen cookie ornaments.
*You can paint these cookies, but I prefer the simplicity of the cutouts. They smell wonderful.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: 4Weeks5Days PostPartum


Being a new mom is not without its challenges. Some days Jack just wants to be held. This makes it difficult to get anything done.

Enter the Moby Wrap. This has been a lifesaver to me on numerous occasions. Allowing me to grocery shop or cook or do laundry. I may not get a shower every day, but with some strategic planning or the Moby as my back up, I can get things done.

Wednesday, my Moby allowed me to spend an afternoon baking gingerbread cookies to decorate our Christmas tree with.


Last Monday I felt like a normal person again. I met a friend for lunch. I ran errands {including a trip to Walmart for groceries courtesy of the Moby Wrap} and finally I went to a Zumba class that night. It felt great.

It was also exhausting.

I am learning how to multi-task like never before, but I am also learning my limitations – normally by Thursday of each week I am crashing, but thankfully Daniel has three-day weekends and is able to help me recover.


Last Friday we went to the Christmas tree farm to pick out our live tree. It was a great day for making memories. It was a good excuse to put on clothes besides my pajamas. 

pleated poppy

Wednesday: Yoga Pants from Target, Long Sleeve T-Shirt, Moby Wrap from Target
Last Monday: Workout Pants from Target, T-shirt from Old Navy, New Balance Shoes from Zappos
Last Friday: Jeans from Kohl's, Shirt and Sweater from Target, Boots from REI

 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jack is One Month Old


Where has the time gone? Jack is already one month old!

Week One Recap 
From day one, Jack has been wide eyed while he observes the world around him. He always looks at amazement at anything new {which is everything}.


At Jack's one week doctor's appointment we found out that he is healthy and growing like a weed – he had already surpassed his birth weight of 6lbs 12oz and was a whopping 6lbs 14 oz.

Jack seems to know my voice and could care less about Sophie's barking.

Our little guy enjoys being swaddled, but it is imperative that his arms be free. He has a thing about wanting to touch and hold everything, even at a week old.

Week Two Recap
Jack continues to amaze us. He is so laid back and loves to cuddle. This is the week he celebrated his first Thanksgiving and met a lot of my extended family. 


Jack started grinning this week, especially in his sleep. It melts my heart. He can also track movements with his eyes – left and right and up and down.

Grunting is Jack's main form of noise making {besides crying, but crying is fairly rare}.

Week Three Recap
Jack's umbilical cord fell off at the beginning of week three. This meant we were able to give him his first bath. He prefers real baths to sponge baths on the kitchen counter.


This week, we introduced Jack to music and he laughs when you sing and dance with him.

His awake time continues to get longer with each passing day.

Week Four Recap
This week daddy went back to work – this is harder on Daniel and I than on Jack. Though I think he knows that things are different now and has become more clingy.


Daniel says Jack's neck has disappeared due to all the new fat rolls. The good news is the same thing happened to his legs, so we were finally able to start using cloth diapers on a regular basis – which is going to save us a ton of $$$ and it really isn't that difficult to do.

We had our first trip to a Christmas tree farm – I think Jack will love this tradition in the future.

Today Jack lifted his head during tummy time for an appreciable length of time. I was so excited for him.

Jack is pretty much over being swaddled. I think he still enjoys it, but he sleeps fine as long as he is in a warm pair of footed pajamas.


*I will be posting monthly updates of Jack next to the Tonka truck {a toy from Daniel's childhood}.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Trying to Outdo the Griswolds...


Today marked our very first visit to a Christmas tree farm. Tradition #4 is to decorate a live tree. We decided that now that we have a child the whole experience should be more than just running to the local Home Depot to pick out a tree.


To kick things off Daniel researched tree farms in the area and we settled on the Thornhill Christmas Tree Farm in Pisgah, AL. As the crow flies, it is 9 miles from our house, directly across the Tennessee River. As the GPS {and roads} dictate, it was a 35-minute drive.


With an infant we have to be strategic in our trips. I fed Jack before we left. We bundled him up and off we went. Thankfully the car lulls him to sleep. After a quick stop at Zaxby's for lunch, we were on our way up Sand Mountain.


The Christmas tree farm was easy to find. Going in the middle of the day on a Friday was perfect for us. We were the only ones there and were able to let Sophie run around off leash – I think she was in doggy heaven. I was also able to squeeze in a quick feeding for Jack in the car.


Initially the tree we picked a tree that was straight out of the Griswold's Christmas Vacation. It was 13-feet tall and about 8+ feet wide at the base. Granted we have a two-story living room, but still. 

We were all set to take it home, but the guy that works at the farm took one look at our Subaru and asked "Yall gona put it on top of that thang?" Daniel told him we haul a 16-foot canoe on the roof of our Subaru regularly. The guy still didn't look convinced. 

In the end, he told us that he wouldn't cut the tree because he wouldn't be able to fit it through his tree bagger. He then directed us to another part of the farm where there were more manageable 10-foot trees.


So Jack got to go on his first "off road" driving experience on a dirt road with ginormous pot holes. We picked out a tree we liked and the tree farm guy still had trouble bagging it. It actually took Daniel helping him to pull it through the tree bagger.


When Jack is older, we may have to go back on a Sunday since they have a "train" that takes you out to look at the trees. I am sure a little kid would adore that... but then we couldn't take Sophie.


Once home Daniel had to cut down the base of the tree because it was too large to fit in our tree stand. After cutting the trunk to size, Daniel used a dolly to move the tree into the house. 

After we had it inside, I helped to hold it steady while Daniel set the tree in the base. He told me that the tree wasn't that heavy. Easy enough for him to say... I almost dropped it while "holding it steady." When I quizzed him on what he meant by "not heavy" he said that it was probably around 100 lbs.


Now that the tree is inside of our house it looks ridiculously big. It is actually 11-feet tall {we only paid $7/ft} and it is over 6-feet wide at the base. Good thing our living room ceiling is tall because we have officially found the maximum size that we can fit into our living room {without the help of a third person}.


I would say that our first trip to the Christmas tree farm was a success.

Grayson Highlands, 2017

I'm so thankful we were able to spend last weekend as a family, tucked away in the Virginia mountains, just the four of us. It was a ...