Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Things: 10 Products We Regularly Used for Jack (3-6 Months)

About the time Jack turned 3 months, I wrote a post outlining our top 3 things we needed for an infant. Basically our little guy needed a place in our room to sleep, warm clothes to wear, cloth diapers, a good carseat and mama's milk to thrive {ironically I don't think I included any of those things in my original list}.

As a follow up, here are the top items we used for Jack during the 3-6 month phase of his life on planet Earth.

1. Crib – we moved him to his crib around 4 months. We were thrilled to be able to get a good, modern crib at a steal of a price from IKEA {we chose the SUNDVIK and painted and stenciled the ends}.

2. Bibs/Burp Cloths – our little one spit up A LOT for the first 6 months of his life. Bibs were a life saver once I started using them regularly. Our favorites were the Just One You by Carter's cloth bibs with a snap {instead of velcro} from Target.

3. Play Gym – Jack loves the mobile on his play mat/gym. He especially loved it once he could grab the little birds that were circling above his head. I liked having a place I could lay him where he could be entertained while I caught up on work.
4. iPhone – I finally upgraded to a smart phone {for work reasons} around the time Jack turned 3 months old. The iPhone was easier to use than my Kindle {one handed} when I was nursing Jack. Talk about improving my life. I could read books, surf the internet, and track our little guy's nursing/diapers/sleeping habits with the Baby Nursing app.

5. Books.Books.Books. – we read a lot of books to our little guy. As the months passed he has become more and more engaged in what we are reading. By 6 months he was reaching out to help turn pages and/or trying to eat the pages.

6. BOB Revolution Jogging Stroller – we decided to skip out on a regular stroller and picked up a used BOB Revolution via Craigslist {retail is $399, we paid a fraction of that price}. We LOVE this stroller. We use it regularly for running/walking. It fits our lifestyle to a tee. We do not own another stroller and are glad that we didn't go with a typical travel stroller system.

7. Baby Bjorn – for the first 6 months of Jack's life I used the Baby Bjorn carrier specifically for grocery shopping and doing chores around the house. It kept Jack close to me and safe. I liked that he could interact with people {especially as he got bigger and we faced him outward} but I still had control over this interaction with strangers. We picked up a used carrier at Unclaimed Baggage for $8 {this carrier generally retails for $74+ on Amazon}.


8. Kelty Messenger Diaper Bag – Daniel actually picked out the diaper bag we carry for Jack. Since Jack is a boy and Daniel didn't want to have to carry anything that looked overly feminine, he won this battle. We agreed on the Kelty Messenger Diaper Bag in black/gray. We really like the sleek look, durable material and the portable changing pad that comes with it. On the rare occasion I have changed Jack on a changing table in a restroom at a restaurant, I really liked being able to 1) lay our changing pad down for Jack to lay on and 2) being able to access things within the diaper bag without laying it on the ground. It is just big enough to carry several cloth diapers, a couple of changes of clothes, a couple of bibs and burp cloths, a toy or two and my phone and wallet. There is an insulated pocket for bottles, but it is not something we have used.
9. Baby Monitor – This item made the transition from bassinet in our downstair's bedroom to nursery on the second floor easier. It took us a while to get the sensitiviy settings correct. I had many a panicked moment in the first few days where I thought Jack must have stopped breathing due to our monitor going off. This item gives me a sense of security. Though having it go off due to a power outage in the middle of the night is not a lot of fun. We own an AngelCare Movement and Sound Monitor. We chose to skip on the video monitor so that we won't be tempted to always be watching him. Though we can totally see the merit in owning the video, we just didn't think it was right for us.

10. Sound Machine – When Jack slept in our room he didn't need a sound machine. He probably still doesn't actually need one since he is fine without it when we travel. However it is nice to turn it on when he is sleeping and know it will block out some of our noises and probably help him to sleep a bit longer.

That is about it. We don't have a lot of extra stuff for Jack. We haven't found it necessary to have extras. No Pack N Play. No bottles. No excessive amounts of toys everywhere. Jack's needs are met and we don't feel overwhelmed by stuff. Which for us works.

One thing I have learned since becoming a parent is that everyone does it differently. Everyone has different needs and different ways of handling this thing called parenthood. This is just what works for us... we know the days are coming where the stuff will probably take over, but we are enjoying having a limited amount of stuff at this time.

*Update: I don't want to give the impression that this is all we own for baby. Of course we have changing stations {two in fact, one upstairs and one down}. A bathtub for bathing – the one we have has a sling that held Jack when he couldn't sit up. That sling would stink to high heaven though, no matter how often we washed it!!! We own some toys and there are a handful of pacis on hand throughout the house. Teething rings and blankets are all important staples. I just wanted to focus on our top items.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Muffins/Bread

First off, I hate that I forgot to take a photo of these muffins. I made them for our class at church a couple of weeks ago and somewhere between baking and getting out the door on time, I just forgot. Plus it might have been weird to be taking a picture of my baked goods at the church building.

*If I had taken pics, it might have looked a little like this. This was Peanut Butter Banana Bread I made last year.

Anywho... I found the original recipe from New Nostalgia via Pinterest and as I started making it, I decided it might be a hair too healthy for a group of people I am still getting to know. Plus I know that Daniel likes it any time chocolate is involved in his breakfast and I figured other people might like the additions as well.

So here is my modified {slightly less healthy but-so-yummy} version of Whole Wheat Honey Banana Muffins/Bread

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour {I ran out of wheat – so the white flour made up the difference. If you want, use 3 1/2 cups of all white or 3 1/2 cups of all wheat or whatever combination works for you}

2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground flax {don't tell the boys I added this in – it's totally optional though}
2/3 cup olive oil {you could probably use whatever type of oil you prefer or whatever you have on hand}
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar {the original recipe called for 1 cup of honey for the sweetener... I got nervous that it wouldn't be sweet enough, so I adjusted the recipe and included brown sugar too}

4 eggs
2 cups mashed ripe bananas {I used 5}
1/2 cup hot water

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 

Set oven to 325ºF.
Stir together dry ingredients and set aside.
Mix oil and honey together; add eggs and beat well – a stand mixer works great for this, but hand beaters would work too. Add bananas and beat to combine. 
Add dry ingredients to wet, alternating with hot water; mix well after each addition.
Mix in chocolate chips and walnuts – I actually mixed in the chocolate chips first and made a batch with no nuts. Once the no-nuts batch was in the oven, I added the walnuts and made a loaf of bread with nuts... This works great in case anyone is allergic to nuts or just doesn't like nuts {ahem – Daniel}. 
Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cups and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and test done.
For bread, pour mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and the bread passes the toothpick test.
Remove from oven and cool on rack.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day

This post is a little late. But that is my life right now. Getting things done when I have time... and that is ok.

Daniel and I are not big celebrators, so we didn't do a whole lot for Father's Day beyond grabbing a bite to eat at Cantina Laredo and popping into Barnes&Noble so that Daniel could spend time perusing his favorite magazines. 

I think I speak for both of us when I say that we are feeling more and more blessed by our little guy with each passing day. We have enjoyed close to 10 years of marriage, but Jack has just made everything that much sweeter.

Becoming parents also makes life harder. There is this huge responsibility to shoulder. A responsibility that you really can't be prepared for regardless of how long you choose to wait. 

I am so thankful that Daniel is my partner in this thing called parenthood. He really loves our little boy. You can see it when he bathes Jack, when he changes diapers, when he blows raspberries on Jack's bare skin and when he explains the workings of the world to him.

I am so blessed to have this wonderful man in my life who is a great dad to our son.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Things (Things I Have Learned From My Dad)

Things I Have Learned From My Dad

1. A love of learning. My dad is a walking encyclopedia. I think I get my desire to know as much as I can from him.

2. If you are able to help someone less fortunate than you, do it. No questions. No strings attached. 

3. How to garden. If I ever get around to growing my own garden, my dad will be the first person I go to for advice.

4. Why Jack's diapers smell like buttered popcorn... butyric acid.

5. My knack for coming up with a million and one ideas {that may or may not work out}. I suppose this is more inherited than learned.

6. How a woman should be treated. My dad isn't perfect but he has always set a good example for me by how he has treated my mom. He does the sweetest things like picking her flowers or bringing home a bag of chocolates just because {well maybe they are for him, but you get the picture}.

7. Passion. My dad is a very passionate man when it comes to things he believes strongly in. He has been known to draw a line in the sand. Sometimes it is important to be passionate about things you believe in.

8. Good grammar {thanks to both of my parents}. I apologize for when I have run on sentences – they can probably be attributed to lack of sleep :)

9. This is more a memory than something I have learned, but when I was growing up, every night my dad would call out "Goodnight Cheree... Goodnight Angela... Good night Mark." It was very sweet and always made me feel loved. Goodnight John Boy!

10. Sometimes it is more important to help people than to get stuck in bureaucracy.

Happy {early} Father's Day Dad! 
I love you and I am so glad to be your daughter!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jack is Seven Months

Jack discovered screeching at the beginning of the month. Initially I thought something must be wrong with him, but I think it was just a new way he learned to communicate. Thankfully this phase only lasted a week. As a friend of mine told me: he is singing and this is the song that God gave him for right now.

By the end of the month Jack had discovered growling, roaring and saying "Argggghh" like a pirate. He especially enjoyed doing this with his Grandpa Voyles. He also started scrunching up his face and squinting his eyes when he doesn't like something. Though he also does this when he wants something and occasionally when he thinks something is really funny. This little face is quite comical and it is hard not to laugh when he does it.

Jack has been sleeping through the nights for several weeks now. Consistently 9-11 hours. It is awesome {for me}. Our biggest issue with this was finding a cloth diaper that doesn't leak during this longer time period. We finally gave in and purchased a BumGenius and we have been very happy with it. Now we have two expensive diapers {the Rumparooz and BumGenius} that we use exclusively for night time. Occasionally those leak too. I think this is just part of the deal with baby boys – they pee a lot. Having to wash the sheets once or twice a week hasn't been too big of an issue though. I'm just glad he is sleeping so much now!!!

We lowered his crib mattress at the end of the month. Jack is quite strong and though he hasn't figured out how to get into a sitting position from laying down, we don't want him to figure that out in his crib when we are not around.

Jack consistently rolls over front to back and back to front. He hasn't really figured out crawling, though he can scoot. He has become quite proficient at sitting by himself and if you are holding him, he insists on pulling himself up to a standing position. Jumping and bouncing in our laps have become favorite past times as well. This behavior is making it more difficult for me to burp him after nursing and sometimes I feel like he is going to squirm right out of my arms.

This month we started introducing solid food. We are tentatively doing the Baby Led Weaning approach. Jack's first food experience was with avocado. He did pretty well. Since then he has tried both adult and baby oatmeal, bananas, squash and broccoli {and one french fry from Red Robin and a bite of guacamole from our favorite local Mexican restaurant}. He seems to do best with bananas and oatmeal. He handles a spoon really well. So far his eating seems to consist of sticking food in his mouth and then talking and/or shouting at the food {while it is in his mouth}. This results in about half of it ending up on his chin, bib and surrounding area. We will continue to forge ahead with new foods every few days.

It looks like Jack has finally outgrown spitting up -- at least as an all the time thing. We no longer have to keep him in bibs 24/7. So glad to be out of that phase!

Jack was a little late to the game in realizing the fun of bath time. A few days ago, it was like a lightbulb went off and he figured out that slapping his hand on the water made loud noises and that scooping copious amounts of water out of the tub {onto his daddy and the floor} was something that could bring him great joy.

We are still a no go on the teeth front. Every once in awhile he has a fussy day and we think maybe this is it, but so far, no teeth.

This past month Jack went to his first fish fry... 

cheered mommy on at her first 5K since having a baby...

sat in a high chair for the first time...

and experienced his first birthday party {no cake for Jack Jack though}.

Jack continues to bring us great joy every day. There is a sweetness to him that I didn't know existed. I am sure all parents feel like this about their own children. We are so thankful that Jack is a part of our lives.

*I will be writing monthly updates of Jack with pictures of Jack and the Tonka truck on the 11th of each month. One Month Old. Two Months Old. Three Months Old. Four Months Old. Five Months Old. Six Months Old.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Little Pony Birthday Party

My sister loves to create big birthday celebrations for her kids. For her daughter's second birthday it was an over-the-top Finding Nemo party that my niece adored. This year, Izzy is really into My Little Ponies and horses and was set on that theme.

Aunt Cheree came to the rescue with designing the invites, while my sister outdid herself {as expected} with a rainbow cake and lots of fun decorations and fabulous food.

She even persuaded our dad to get in on the action and do a little face painting for the guests.

Izzy loved it all. That girl loves a good party.

And she is always up for cake. I think she even managed to get her face in her rainbow cake icing at one point! Happy Third Birthday Izzy bug!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

2012 Book 18: The Girl Who Came Home

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor is a novel about the tragic sinking of the Titanic. Specifically it is a fictionalized account of 14 passengers traveling from a rural village in Ireland to start a new life in America. In real life, there were 14 passengers from a village in Ireland that accounted for the greatest loss of life from one place.

This novel follows the trend of many current novels by swapping back and forth between the past and present. This account is told through the voice of one of two survivors from Ireland, 17-year old Maggie Murphy. As Maggie comes to the end of her life, she finally shares her tragic experience with her great granddaughter, Grace. This telling includes a love story that has a happy ending but Maggie's life, though happy and full of love, has been a difficult one in that she has had to bear the burden as to why she survived when so many of her loved ones perished.

This book does an excellent job of describing the Titanic and what it must have felt like to be a passenger, especially one from 3rd class who managed to survive.

As seems to be the case in most past-present books I read, I enjoyed the story of Maggie's experience more than I enjoyed the story of Grace as she deals with her current life. I guess I am a bigger fan of historical novels than the fluff that seems to be a part of the current-day characters and their story lines.

Excerpts from the book:
It was an impossible situation they faced, their destinies shaped, not by their own decisions, but by nature and economics and politics and things they were too young to even understand.
‘I was sailing to America to start a new life, and in a funny way, that was the only way I could carry on after Titanic; with a new life. The girl who had left Ireland was gone to the bottom of the ocean with the rest of them. I had to start over. Start again, and that meant never talking about Titanic again. Not with my own family and not with those we had left in Ireland.’ 
...he felt oddly moved by them and their story, by the notion that these young girls, and the people travelling with them, had left their homes and the land of their birth to take their chances in a distant and unfamiliar land. 
Titanic seemed to do that to people, inspire them, astound them, draw them together and connect them in a shared sense of awe at the magnitude and splendour of this spectacle which had been derived from riveted steel plates. Because, after all, that is all this was; a ship held together with steel rivets. And yet, it was much more than that. It was a ship which would transport some of its passengers towards a life of prosperity and others simply away from a life of poverty. 
Death makes people react in strange ways and you certainly wouldn’t be the first to block somebody out of your life because of your grief and I doubt you’ll be the last.
She had admired all of these small details over the last few days – now it seemed ridiculous that a ship which was sinking with thousands of people on board still looked so neat and tidy. 
She watched with heart-wrenching helplessness as several women climbed back out of their lifeboats, unable, in the final moment, to leave without their husbands, fathers and brothers. 
Amid the perfect melody from the violinists who were still playing on the upper decks, she heard, with chilling clarity, the terrifying orchestra of a thousand people dying; heard the haunting shouts and screams of their terrified voices.
‘as terrible as Titanic was, as the years passed, people stopped talking about it. You see, we had the wars then and people started talking about them instead, and then Armstrong went to the moon and Kennedy was shot and all kinds of things happened which were more important than a ship sinking in the Atlantic Ocean.’
People move on, history moves on and there will, sadly, always be something more terrible waiting around the corner.’ 
‘I’ve lived a very happy life because of Titanic. Life is fragile Grace – it is no more than a petal of cherry blossom; thriving and in full bloom one minute and blown to the ground by a sudden gust of wind the next. We shouldn’t take our life for granted and we should do whatever we can to make ourselves happy.’
‘Never leave yourself open to regret Grace. We can only make a decision when we know the choices we are faced with. If we shy away, turn our backs and hide, we will simply never know. And that is when you end up old and wondering and regretting. Live a life of hope. Don’t live a life of regret.’

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...