Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In This House...

Shortly after Jack was born, I was perusing Pinterest and got the idea for developing a family motto to hang on our wall. You have probably seen the concept: "In This House We..."

Daniel and I took this idea a step further and came up with a list of things that were specific to our family; then I put my graphic design experience to use and created a sign that hangs in our foyer where we can see it every.single.day.

Our motto incorporates our hobbies [we hike, camp and bike together], our core family expectations [we say I'm sorry, we forgive] and our faith [we love the Lord Our God, and we love others like ourselves].

As our boys grow, we are trying to make sure that we are raising them with this motto in mind, making the effort to follow through with the things we have clearly stated are important to us.

Lately we have been thinking a lot about our neighbors. We try to practice hospitality as much as possible – which can be hard with our busy schedule. In conjunction with this core belief, the church where we worship is encouraging us to meet our neighbors. Most recently this took the shape in the form of throwing a neighborhood block party, of sorts.

Yesterday was National Neighbor Day and we felt like it would be a good opportunity to get out and meet our neighbors – it's kind of hard to love your neighbors when you don't know them.

We invited those living around the perimeter of our neighborhood park to join us at the park for coffee and cookies. We were encouraged to meet four families we hadn't met before. We were surprised that they came out and stuck with us, even though it rained. 

We want to continue to get to know our neighbors. We want our boys to know our neighbors. We want them to feel safe in our neighborhood and we want to contribute to the safety of other families as well. I hope we continue to get to know our neighbors and have opportunities to show that we care.

I hope you had a Happy Neighbor Day and get the chance to know your neighbors as well... and if you didn't get to celebrate neighbor day, today is National COFFEE Day, so you could always invite your neighbor over for coffee ;)

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Luke 10:27

Monday, September 28, 2015

Me Time

Friday it rained and I was cooped up with the kids. Inside. All day long. 

Saturday was foggy with a light rain and I was itching to get out of the house. Daniel worked a long week at work, as usual, and had no desire to leave the house. So he told me to go do something by myself.

The things I wanted to do (hike, take a long bike ride, go to a local cave) are all things that are better with other people. But that was not to be.

Initially I felt like the only thing I could really go do by myself was go get our weekly groceries (not my idea of fun, though better when I do it alone).

So I gave all my boys kisses and headed down the mountain. I found myself headed for the NorthShore of Chattanooga to Milk & Honey for a latte. As I drove, I passed the entrance to Stringers Ridge and thought it might be nice to take a walk in the woods.

So, with latte in hand, I headed back to Stringers Ridge. I didn't have a lot of time since Isaac is on a 2-3 hour nursing schedule, but I had just enough time to wander up the Balderdash trail. A mile isn't very far, but it was time to myself. Time to be lost in my thoughts with no distractions. Time to savor my coffee.

I don't do that often enough. 

After my coffee was finished, I headed to the grocery store before heading home (chores still have to be done, right?).

I am so grateful that Daniel told me to go do my own thing. Especially in light of the fact that he was called into work on Sunday and I was back to full-time mom duty.

It was a good reminder that I am me, and More Than Just a Mom (post from January, 2013).

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan

I share a lot of pictures of meals on Instagram and Facebook (love me or hate me), and the reason I do this is to share the fantastic recipes that I have come across for meals; and also to encourage my friends who aren't meal planners or don't feel motivated to cook.

I have always been an avid meal planner (thanks mom!), and I rarely cook the same thing twice, so there is a lot to share.

Now that the weather is cooling down, I am grilling less but we are still enjoying delicious food. I try to shop the perimeter of the grocery store as much as possible (always with a list in hand so that I don't forget things) and that means a lot of our meals include seasonal produce.

This is what I served recently.

Grilled Maple BBQ Chicken with Corn on the Cob and Cornbread
The cornbread was a flop (it tasted delicious, but wouldn't cook through the center for some reason)
[recipe via A Dash of Sanity and Whole and Heavenly Oven]

Tuscan Tortellini Soup, garnished with cheddar cheese and croutons
I took this meal to some friends – doubling the recipe was easy and it was really delicious, and made excellent leftovers.
[recipe via Damn Delicious]

Baked Spaghetti with Roasted Okra
Jack devoured this, he especially loved the okra, and it worked great as leftovers. Side note: I left out the cream cheese and sour cream and doubled the cheese instead.
[recipe via Damn Delicious]

Pancake Sausage Bites with Fruit
Sometimes you just need breakfast for dinner. Jack kept sneaking the cooked sausage before I could get it battered and fried! This is definitely a crowd pleaser, and would be perfect for a brunch.
[recipe via Real House Moms]

One-Pot Chicken, Quinoa, Mushrooms and Spinach
Another one Jack gobbled up, sans the spinach. He's three, the won't eat everything I give him, but he does at least try it all. Mostly.
[recipe via Cookin' Canuk]

For what it's worth, the days I don't post to IG/FB are the days we have a planned eat out, we are eating leftovers or we ordered pizza because I just didn't feel like cooking. No one has it together all of the time and I hope you don't come to think that I do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fingerprints Are Everywhere

Kids say the darnedest thing and our Jack is no exception.

After church and preschool, he always tells us comical things [he doesn't realize they are comical].

He is sure that there is a Johnny Appleseed blessing AND a super heroes blessing.

He likes to sing: Read your bible, pray every day and you'll shrink, shrink, shrink [supposed to be grow, grow, grow].

And recently he told me that fingerprints were everywhere. I filled in the blank and asked if he meant that God's fingerprints were everywhere, and he agreed that I was right.

Sometimes his view of the world provides comic relief to our day – anyone else struggling with kid bedtimes lasting for-ev-er? But often I get reminders to slow down and look at the world around me. To see things as he sees them. Reminders that [God's] fingerprints really are everywhere.

It reminds me to breathe in the cooler autumn air as deeply as I can. To relish the last days of green shade from our trees before the colors start changing to brilliant hues and the leaves start dropping. I am reminded to really see others and not focus on myself so much. I'm thankful that I can look up and see God's fingerprints, especially on the harder days.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Neigborhood Bike Ride

There will come a day when we spend some of our weekends (hopefully) riding single track in the woods or putting in the miles on the road with our boys, but that day is not today.
Today we went on a 1.5 mile ride around our neighborhood.
It was a first family bike ride for all four of us together; the first time Jack pedaled with both mommy and daddy riding along (he and Daniel have taking rides in the neighborhood before); and the first time Isaac was towed in the chariot.
For Daniel and I it was a slow (very slow) ride, but I'm glad we did it.
We happen to live in one of the flattest neighborhoods on Signal Mountain, but even our neighborhood is not flat. We are so proud of Jack for overcoming his trepidation on the downhill parts, and pushing through and pedaling the uphills. He only had to get off and walk once going up.
We are working on teaching Jack the rules of the road: staying to the right; staying away from cars; stopping at stop signs; paying attention to where you are riding; that sort of thing.
Some day, we will take advantage of all of the single track that Chattanooga has to offer (110 miles currently), but until that day comes, we will keep building up skills and endurance in our neighborhood.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Isaac is Five Months Old

Another month! Are we really almost to the half-year old point???

Our littlest man is really starting to get interactive and we all love it.

There is a lot of chattering and squealing coming from this little dude. He is discovering his voice and loves to use it. Especially in the evenings, like when we read to Jack at bedtime or try to watch TV.

Lately it sounds like he is saying "mama" but I don't think it's a real word yet. 

Isaac gives us the biggest smiles (a toothy grin with no teeth) and has big belly laughs that are so much fun. He is such a content and happy baby.

As for his physical appearance, he is getting more and more hair. Right now it looks blond with a hint of red... we shall see.

Isaac loves feeling different textures. He rubs his hand against the couch and wall and anything that feels different, including Sophie's fur.

Little guy has starting to attempt to roll his big self over (I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing he is around 22 pounds).

And he can sit when assisted. He will lift his head and body to a sitting position when he is leaning back.

Speaking of 22 pounds, he is now wearing 12 month clothes! The outfit above is just a little too small!

AND we had to go ahead and upgrade his car seat this month because he was just too big for his baby carrier. He is now in Jack's old Recaro convertible car seat.

Isaac also officially outgrew the Rock-N-Play (we probably waited too long on this) and we finally moved to the crib in his nursery, upstairs. 

We did have a setback with sleep after our vacation, but he seems to be settling into a new pattern of sleeping 5 hours again at night (thank goodness!).

Isaac has discovered his toes. It is funny to watch him roll around trying to grab them.

In addition to grabbing his toes, he loves to pinch me and pull my hair. Little man has a serious grip with those fingers. Jack is not a fan of getting pinched and takes it quite personally.

He is also officially a thumb sucker. The child will not take a paci!

Over the last couple of weeks, Isaac has shown an interest in the food on our plates, but we still haven't started him on food. I'm not ready to commit to carrying around food everywhere, not to mention the change in diaper composition!

This month we started dropping him off at the Cradle Roll class at church and he loves it. I know he loves the singing and all of the attention he gets from the teachers (I've been dropping him at the Y since 4 weeks, so he is pretty comfortable with being left).

Isaac can now sit/bounce in his bouncer and really enjoys it. He actually outgrew the baby swing at the Y (they can't buckle him in any more!).

He now gets distracted while nursing and I have to give him my full attention. He will stop nursing and look at me until I put my phone down. 

He also loves to watch his brother play and hates to miss out on anything. Jack likes trying to demonstrate things, like how to rollover and crawl.

This month, we went to the beach...

celebrated Daniel's 35th birthday...

went on a hike and visited a farm

We are keeping busy and it will be fun when he can join in on our outings a bit more!

*As with Jack, I will be posting monthly updates of Isaac on a quilt (inherited from my Grandma), next to a yellow Tonka truck (a toy from Daniel's childhood). 
Isaac at One Month  |  Isaac at Two Months  |  Isaac at Three Months  |  Isaac at Four Months

A Look Back: 
Jack at One Month  |  Jack at Two Months  |  Jack at Three Months   |   Jack at Four Months   
Jack at Five Months  
(We used a quilt from Daniel's family for the Jack photos, along wit the Tonka truck from Daniel's childhood).

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...