Monday, December 3, 2012

Birthdays, Christmas Parades and More Milestones

My mom's birthday was Friday, but due to my dad's work schedule, we celebrated on Saturday. Natalie and I brought a gift over on Thursday when I came to pick up cake pans (I probably should have asked for some for Christmas, now that I think about it!) and I baked the cake on Friday. Thanks to this Pinterest pin, I made crowd-pleasing cake for both my mother-in-law's birthday in October and my mom's birthday. I used only the recipe for the cheesecake and chocolate butter cream frosting and used this Taste of Home recipe for doctoring up a box cake mix. The whole from-scratch cake thing intimidates me, and starting with a box mix and adding a few extra ingredients worked out well. I hope I can find a similar recipe to doctor up a white or yellow cake for Natalie's birthday.

After we got home, Natalie and Alex took a nap together (a rare occurrence) and then we went to our local Christmas parade. Natalie didn't like all the firetruck sirens (I don't blame her), but we gave her a lollipop (what kind of mother am I!?) and all anxiety subsided. It was so funny to me that she immediately knew what to do with it. And then she just chilled out sucking on it until it was all gone. I swear, I was never going to give my kids sugar until I actually became a mom and someone else took over my body!

All the excitement of the day continued after we got home from the parade. My sugar-energized baby decided to take more steps to her daddy and me! She kept walking back and forth between us with this big smile on her face. We cheered and cheered and she just ate it up.

Natalie must have been pretty worn out from the day because SHE FINALLY SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!!!!! She did wake up an hour earlier than usual in the morning, but I can handle a 7 am wake up call better than a 3 or 4 or 5 am wake up call first. Unfortunately, she woke up at 3 am the next night and was awake for 2 hours! Hopefully she'll decide that sleeping is the better option!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

11 months

I think it's safe to say that I'm in denial about my baby turning a year old next month. Just the thought of that makes me want to cry. My sister (whose kids are 7 and 9) said that I should be happy that we will have many more fun months ahead instead of being sad that the first 12 months are over. I know she's right, but I've been so deliberate about cherishing every moment and I just don't want to let the baby stage go yet. Here are a few highlights from Natalie's 11th month:

-First costume party (10/23)

-Natalie took a few steps using her push toy (10/25). Now she can take off behind that thing!

-Waves bye-bye more consistently
-started wearing size 4 shoes (and is already outgrowing them! Gee whiz, kid!) and wears more 18 mo clothes
-Said "Layla" (she loves her doggie!)
-Takes only 1 nap a day instead of 2 most days
-Ate french toast, fried chicken, refried beans, fish, coleslaw, turkey
-Loves to pull tissues out of the box, so I put scrap fabric in an empty wipes container and kept her busy for a good long time. Now she shows no interest in it whatsoever...

-Gets into dog food, crawls further away from us into other rooms, so we're constantly on our toes!

-First tooth finally popped through on 11/4! I'm so thankful that teething has not been difficult for Natalie. Other than her drooling for the 2 weeks prior, she has not been fussy or had difficulty sleeping with that first tooth. Alex just happened to stick his finger in her mouth and felt the tip of the tooth poking through her gums, otherwise we wouldn't have even realized it had happened! She did bite my finger very hard a few hours before we made "the discovery"...that should have been a big clue!
-Second tooth popped through the gums on 11/13. This one caused more fussiness and a nearly-sleepless night (she woke up at 11 and stayed up til 1, then woke up at 5:20 and 6:30).
-Took first steps on 11/14!!! My mom came over spur-of-the-moment, so we decided to let Natalie stay up a few extra minutes to see Grandma and, low and behold, she took 3 or 4 steps towards Grandma, twice! She'd been playing with Alex on the floor and he told me to look quickly because she was standing on her own for an extended period of time. Them my mom arrived and Natalie raised her arms up in the air and said a "word" that started with the "g" sound, so it was like she was saying "Grandma". So cute. Then mom sat on the couch with her arms outstretched and the magic happened and baby girl was on the move!
-First sickness/fever 11/18-11/20. She was so pitiful after waking up with a fever. We sat on the couch and cuddled all day and she took 4 naps! Then the next day she seemed more like her normal self until early afternoon when the fever struck again. A day after her fever broke, she broke out in a rash on her trunk and face (roseola) which lasted two days, but she didn't seem to be bothered by it.
-Started weaning, so now she nurses between 3 and 5 am, at breakfast (around 9 am), and at bedtime.

This child has the biggest smile and the sweetest personality. One minute she is giggling while petting and hugging the dog and the next she is dancing to music and smiling a huge grin from behind her paci. I can't get enough of her! She loves her daddy and immediately reaches for him when he wakes up in the morning and when he gets home from work. I'm so thankful for the bond that they share. She was in her high chair eating her dinner when Alex walked in from work the other night and he went in another room to put his laptop away and she started crying and would not take another bite of food until he came back to get her. So sweet. They usually have lots of tickle and play time in the living room while I finish cooking dinner. That's the best "music" to listen to while you're working around the house!

Another cute story (because who can resist those!?): Alex and I were scooping out some ice cream for ourselves after dinner, so he sat Natalie on the counter right there next to the ice cream. She grabbed the lid and held it up to her mouth and licked the ice cream off! Girl knows where the good stuff is!

I think we have some attitude issues to deal with, but I feel lost dealing with an 11 month old. Any suggestions are welcome! She just screeches or screams when she doesn't get her way (usually when she's tired or in the middle of the night, but sometimes during the day when she's wide awake and just being rotten). I've been giving in to her during the night because I want to get sleep myself and with her being sick, I wanted her to get as much milk from me as possible to boost her immune system. Part of me wants to cut her off at night and make her go 12 hours without nursing because 1) I know she can last that long because she has done it when she's slept with us and I'm right next to her. I know she's just using me as a pacifier when she sleeps in her room and wakes up at 3 or 4 or 5 am wanting to nurse,  2) I'm just ready to get a night of uninterrupted sleep and 3) I want to wean her shortly after her birthday, but it seems like at this point she's never going to give up that early morning feeding and it's easier to just feed her and be awake for 15 minutes than let her cry forever! The child will cry for 2 hours. This mama's heart can't take crying for 2 hours.The last thing I want to do is give in her every demand and teach her that this behavior is ok!

Well, I think that's enough of a summary of the past month of our lives! Alex and I are still in awe of God's blessings to us. We thoroughly enjoy having Natalie in our lives and want to drink in every bit of her sweetness. Every day brings new learning experiences for all of us. There's never a dull moment!

Monday, October 29, 2012

What Lies Beneath

On the surface, my life might seem perfect. People have even told me so. I am incredibly blessed with a loving husband who works hard to provide for us to allow me to stay at home, a precious daughter, parents who are still married (to each other), a home with room to grow. I thank God often for pouring out His blessings on me when I do not deserve them. But, despite what things look like on the surface, there are not-so-perfect things lurking deeper inside.

I hate that I struggle with having compassion, gossiping, judging, negativity, generosity. I wish I would keep my mouth shut when I hear the Holy Spirit prompt me to remain silent.

It's so easy for me to jump to conclusions about someone else's life and be critical of them, even though I know that I will be judged with the same measure that I judge them (Matthew 7:2: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."). This is an area that I really want to work on. I have no idea what other people are going though, what their motives and intentions are. They are accountable to God for their own lives and I'm accountable for mine.

Take motherhood for example. Before Natalie was born, I would observe other mothers' interactions with their children and think about how I would follow their lead or act differently than them when I had my own children. I had so many ideas about how I would raise Natalie. I was going to be consistent, she was going to be well-behaved, I was never going to let her have sugar, she would be on a schedule, she would never watch tv. Once she was born, I quickly realized that motherhood was very different and much harder than I expected. At 10 months old, she is stubborn and sometimes needs to be corrected numerous times before finally being obedient (I'm sure this is very normal since she was not born knowing right from wrong, but silly me expected to have given birth to a perfect child who obeyed the first time. You are so naive, Amanda! I give you full permission to laugh at me!). She has never stuck to a schedule, nor do I know how to get her on one, but we have survived thus far. We have given her tastes of cake and ice cream, pie, brownies, and other sweets on many occasions. We do occasionally turn on Sesame Street when she is having trouble winding down for a nap or bedtime, but we do not use the tv as a babysitter. Despite re-evaluating my expectations, I don't feel like a failure as a mother (although I have my moments), but how foolish and wrong I was to ever judge other mothers for the decisions that they made! Sometimes it's simply a difference in personality that causes us to interact with our children the way we do. It's not that one way is right and one is wrong. One approach is not "good" or "bad". We each must do what we feel is best for our children, for our families, for our own sanity! More importantly, we must do what God has called us to do. My calling is not the same as the mom sitting next to me in the church nursery. Hers is not the same as the mom standing next to her in the grocery store. But each is as important in the eyes of God as the other.

The bottom line is, when I look at someone and jump to conclusions about what their life must be like based on their outward appearance, I need to stop and remind myself that they are a work in progress just like me, and that I don't know the first thing about what is going on in their life or in their heart. Maybe instead of judging them, God wants me to bless them. How can I be a blessing, if my heart wants to criticize them? Take a look in the mirror, woman! You don't have it all together either! Thank you, God, for not giving up on me! "For He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." Phillipians 1:6

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Curb Appeal - The Seemingly Never-Ending Home Improvement Project!

We live in a subdivision that was developed during the 1980s. There are lots of mature trees, manicured lawns, and several houses with curb appeal to spare. Then there's our house. Mature trees? Check. Manicured lawn? Um...well, the weeds get mowed on a weekly basis. Curb appeal? Severely lacking!!! Until recently...

We bought our house from my parents three and a half years ago. They made a few minor improvements to the 20+ year old shrubs, but it seems like as soon as we moved in, the weeds took over. A year or two ago, Alex cut down 3 pine trees that were growing right up next to the house and were starting to block the gutters. Then the stumps just sat there. So ugly. This past Spring, he cut down 4 bushes in the same area and planned on removing lava rock, all the old stumps, and putting down new mulch. Then the mild Spring weather suddenly turned very hot and humid and the whole project was put on hold. I was certain we had the ugliest landscaping in the neighborhood. Weeds grew several feet tall and literally covered the entire area along our sidewalk leading up to our front door. It was embarrassing.

Alex took a week of vacation in September and spent 3 days digging up lava rock, pulling out old stumps and planting new bushes. We went to a local nursery and bought Green Velvet Boxwoods, Nandinas (which turn dark red during the Fall and Winter), and some monkey grass. We dragged the pack-n-play out onto our porch and Natalie hung out with us for a few hours while we laid down new weed barrier (fingers crossed that it actually works!), spread new cypress mulch and planted all the plants. Here's the final result! We are so excited to no longer be the "ugliest house in the neighborhood"!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Perfect 10! Natalie at 10 Months

Two of my first-time-mom friends' babies turned a year old this month and it has made me a little sad that Natalie's first year of life is quickly drawing to a close as well. Their babies are now weaned from bottle and breast and seem a little less baby-like and more toddler-like now. As difficult as nursing was for the first 11 weeks, and as much as I'm looking forward to a break from its demands, I also don't want to give it up because its a stage of my baby's life that we can never go back to once its over.

On a less-sappy note, Natalie has become soooo much fun! I've thought that a lot over the past 6 months as she has started doing more and her personality comes out, but this month she started dancing all.the.time. She stands up and wiggles her cloth-diapered bottom back and forth and waves her arms and even keeps the rhythm of the music sometimes! She'll start movin' and groovin' if a toy plays music or if we start singing a song or if we turn up something on Pandora. I swear it's the cutest thing ever! I took some video of her yesterday, but I don't know how or if I can upload it to much to learn...oy vey!

I didn't keep up with all the new foods that she has tried this month, but off the top of my head she tried chicken noodle soup, chicken and rice soup, chicken pot pie (yeah, we eat a lot of chicken...), beef stew, applesauce, whole wheat Ritz crackers, and a french fry (just one! Don't want them to become a favorite, or familiar, "vegetable" - and I use that term very loosely). Since I started making more baby food, I gave up her dinnertime nursing (around 4 or 5 pm) and feed her solids then. She gets oatmeal before bed every night, and we mix applesauce in with it for some flavor since we ran out of pumped milk and are now mixing it with water. If I had to pick a favorite food, I'd say it's bananas. She can eat a whole one in one sitting if we let her! Where she puts it, I don't know... She just loves sweet things in general, just like her mama. She also drinks several ounces of water a day from a sippy cup. This kid still loves to eat, although when I fed her soup, sweet potatoes and green beans yesterday, she cried every time she saw green beans on the spoon. Thankfully, she never spit them out, but she made it clear that she preferred the soup!

I am so thankful that Natalie has been healthy! Other than a runny nose and a cough twice, she hasn't had any health problems. We keep thinking that she's going to cut a tooth, but none have made an appearance yet. I love her gummy smile, though, and am going to enjoy it while it lasts! She's still growing like a weed, and has started wearing size 4 shoes.

Sleeping is still very sporadic. Natalie made progress this month by starting to sleep from 8:30 or 9 (bedtime has been too late, too often!) until 6:15 am, nursing, and then going back to sleep until around 8 am. Then she started waking up around 4 am and refusing to go back to sleep unless she was being held, so I brought her in our bed, where she fell back to sleep, kicked me until morning, but also slept until 7 and 8 am without nursing. It has become very obvious to me that she has been using me as a pacifier. We just have to figure out how to get her to sleep 11 or 12 hours in HER OWN BED without waking up for that 6 am feeding! I'm done with letting her cry. We've done that on quite a few occasions to get her to sleep until 5 or 6 am, and it's emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting for all of us.

Natalie is very serious around non-family members and takes a long time to warm up sometimes. A friend who is starting her own photography business asked to take pictures of Natalie for her portfolio, so we took pictures for over 3 hours last week. Out of 667 pictures, I swear, Natalie smiled in maybe 20 of them. 20! She was content and such a trooper, but just so serious! That, and she tried to put every single prop in her mouth. We joked that we're going to make a collage of pictures from that shoot and put the caption "Will work for food" at the top :)

It is such a joy and a privilege to be Natalie's mama. My heart is so full. Everywhere we go, people comment about how cute she is and I can't help but be proud of her. Alex and I ask ourselves how we ended up with such a beautiful little girl. God has blessed us indeed! She has such a sweet, cheerful, energetic disposition that we can't get enough of. She freely gives lots of hugs and kisses now, and it just melts my heart every time, even if she does pull my hair when she wraps her little arms around my neck. I can't imagine life without her.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chicken, Rice & Veggie Soup Recipe

In my continued efforts to overcome my dinner-cooking rut, I created a new soup recipe that was inspired by a recipe I saw on The Cottage Home blog. Alex seemed to enjoy it and Natalie chowed down on some after I put it in the food processor. Actually, it looked like her bib ate more than she did, but that's what happens when Daddy tries to feed her. Hehehe!

Chicken, Rice and Veggie Soup

Whole fryer (or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
6 carrots
1 med onion
4 stalks of celery
2 cups long-grain brown rice
6 chicken bouillon cubes
salt & pepper to taste

Boil whole fryer for 2 hours. Let cool and remove meat from the bone. You could save time and cook chicken breasts in a pan and then cube or shred it if you preferred. Saute carrots, onion and celery in a pan with olive oil until carrots are soft. While vegetables are cooking, cook rice according to package directions (mine took about an hour to cook). I strained the chicken broth and then used it as a base to my soup, but you could use a few boxes of broth from the store. I added bouillon, salt and pepper for flavor. Once rice and veggies are cooked, throw them and the chicken into the broth and heat to a simmer. I pureed several cups of soup to freeze for Natalie, Alex and I each ate a bowl and there were 4 quarts of soup left over.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pinterest Recipe Success

Like millions of other people around the world, I caught the Pinterest bug and can all too easily spend way too much time pinning diy project ideas and recipes and such that catch my eye. Unfortunately, I've had little success cooking most of said recipes - especially dinners. We just end up not liking the things that every other pinner supposedly declares to be "the best meal you've ever eaten!" Desserts have turned out great, thankfully! On top of that, I've been in this recipe funk for a while and just can't come up with meal ideas that a)sound appetizing and b)are quick and easy. So, as many a housewife have started to do, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration.

A few weeks ago, I made chicken that claimed to be coated in the exact KFC original recipe spices and was baked instead of fried. It was good, Alex claimed that he liked it better than the chicken fingers that I spend way too much on at the grocery store, but I wouldn't agree with the recipe creator who claimed to have figured out KFC's secret formula. I made a TON, so I froze the leftovers for a night when I just don't feel like cooking. All in all, I'd probably make the dish again, but because of the mess, it won't become part of a regular rotation. If you'd like to try it, here's the link to the recipe.

I also tried out these baked meatballs to accompany some homemade spaghetti sauce. Alex has been asking for homemade meatballs since forever, and I just hadn't gotten around it making some. These were ok, but my dad's are better. Maybe I'm biased, but I plan on asking for his recipe next time. (And, I know I should have just asked for his recipe in the first place, but I kept forgetting!) I also made a ton of these (like 50 or 60!) and froze the extras.

Earlier this week, I tried out these cheesy chicken, bacon, ranch foil meals. Now THIS is a recipe that I will make again and again (as long as my dearest husband doesn't change his mind as he is apt to do and decide that he's not crazy about this dish!). It was fast and easy and only dirtied 2 dishes (the cookie sheet that I baked the bacon on and a mixing bowl). My only "complaint" is that it turned out a little too salty, but I had improvised when making my ranch dressing, so I think it would have been less salty if I had had all the ingredients on hand to make it like usual.

So, that's it! Have you tried any recipes that you've found on Pinterest that were worth putting into your regular dinner rotation? If so, I'd love to try them, too!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On Cloud Nine - Natalie at 9 Months

Natalie hit the 9-month milestone on Friday and we went for her well-baby check-up today. She weighs 19.2 lbs and is 28 inches tall, putting her right at the 50th percentile for weight and just above the 50th for height. She's wearing size 3 shoes and mostly 12 month clothes (mainly to accommodate her cloth diapers! Haha!), although she still has some 9 month things that fit.

Our baby girl is just the sweetest thing. She has started giving us more and more big, wet, open-mouthed kisses and hugs around the neck. *Smile* She pulls up on everything, including the dog, and has started taking a few steps while holding on to something (mainly a big 4-ft bean bag chair in our family room). I predict that she will be walking between 10 and 11 months (Alex walked at 9 months and I walked at 10 months).

Natalie's interest in solid foods has grown to the point that she gets very cranky if we don't share with her while we're eating. Suffice it to say that my days of being lazy laid back about introducing solids are over. I have to think ahead and make sure that I have something on hand that she can eat, like sweet potatoes or puffs or fruit, so that we can get through dinner! Recently, she wouldn't let me put her down on the floor because I had food in my hand, so I had to put my plate down first. Then, she let go of me to reach for the plate and proceeded to fuss at me to share with her. So, that day she tried spinach artichoke dip and she liked it! This kid has eaten every single thing we've ever let her try. Other than the artichoke dip, the other new foods she has had this month are plums, grapes cut into 8 little pieces, chicken and broccoli casserole and a teeny tiny taste of ricotta cheese from my lasagna. When she is ready for another bite, she tenses up her arms and face and makes a growling sound, to which we respond by telling her "no" and showing her the signs for "more" and "please". She loves her oatmeal before bed and likes to try and wipe her messy face on whatever is close by, be it the couch or our clothes. Needless to say, we are on high alert during feeding time. Our pediatrician said I could start replacing a few nursing times a day with solids, so I'm going to eliminate the 5 o'clock/dinnertime feeding and see how that goes. I'm not crazy about cutting back too much on nursing before her first birthday, primarily because I'm concerned about her getting enough nutrition from fruits and veggies compared to breastmilk.

A few other highlights from Natalie's 9th month are:
-Cruises in circles around our kitchen island while in her walker. She is a fast little thing and has become quite adept at maneuvering wherever she wants to go! It's hilarious to watch her cruise around and harass the poor dog!
-Enjoys her swing outside
-Crawls around the house very quickly and is more adventurous to wander into rooms away from mommy and daddy. We put a baby gate up to keep her in the family room with us.
-Natalie loves books. She gets excited nearly every time I pull one out for us to look at together. She pats the pages and likes books with flaps and places to feel different textures. I prayed that she would love learning and have been collecting a variety of books from yard sales so she would have lots of information at her fingertips. I recently read a blog post about how to instill a love of reading in your children and the writer suggested reading to your child every single day and always keeping books around when they play, even at Natalie's age. So far, that seems to be working for us!
-First 'real' family outing to a pumpkin weighing competition! I just love the pictures of her from that day!
-She has far less social anxiety and lets other people hold her for extended periods of time.
-Started taking baths in the 'big tub' instead of her baby tub.
-Might have possibly said "doggie", but it sounded a lot like "daddy"...I'm choosing to believe she said "doggie" because she was interacting with Layla at the time :)

I'm so afraid that I'm going to forget little details about Natalie at this stage, like the way she uses her heels to spin in circles when she's sitting on the floor, and the sound of her baby laughter. I just don't want to look back years from now, or even a few months from now and forget what life was like during this stage. I'm so thankful for every moment we have together. Even after a long day, I miss my baby when she's in bed for the night and have to linger over the crib and just stare at her and rest my hand on her for a minute before I can head to bed myself. Lately, I've been thinking that I need to put forth more effort to be intentional about my time with her every day. It's so easy to get caught up with housework and things that need to get done around the house and then before I know it, the day is over and I've missed opportunities to spend some quality time with her. We have been blessed with such a great baby and I want to enjoy every minute of her babyhood, as it is flying by so quickly!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Giant Pumpkins and Watermelons, Oh My!

A friend told me about a giant pumpkin weighing competition at a local farm this weekend, so we went with my mom and dad to check it out. I've never seen anything like it!

And no adventure would be complete without some ice cream! She grabbed Grandma's hands and literally wouldn't let go of the cone unless we pried it away from her!
Do you like my ice cream mustache?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

DIY Subway Art

Are you anything like me in that you have a running mental list of projects you'd love to do except that you'd have to learn a new skill in order to do them? I'd love to learn to knit, to crochet a beanie so that I can make a sock monkey and owl hat for Natalie (I barely know how to crochet an afghan!), to embroider without it looking like a 5-year-old got a hold of a needle and thread, and to be able to fix things around the house without calling my dad or father-in-law to come to the rescue. Another project that I've seen all over Etsy and Pinterest that I've wanted to try is making subway art. There are so many different versions and variations to cater to nearly anybody's taste. Lucky for me, I stumbled across this tutorial on Pinterest that explained how you could design your own 'word art' using Picasa. If you're not familiar with Picasa, it's a free photo editing software that you can download from Google. I use it to crop and 'edit' (ie: remove red eye from) our photos. The tutorial was easy to follow. She included a blank high-resolution white background to download to make getting started fast and easy. From there, you use Picasa's text tool and the fonts you already have on your computer (I went to Dafont to download a few more to make things interesting), to create your 'masterpiece'. After working on this for a few hours (Natalie was soooo cranky, then it was dinner, bath, and bedtime!), here's how mine turned out. I think I want to print this out and frame it to go on Natalie's bookcase/mantle:

Several of the fonts were already a part of my font library from Microsoft Word and a few others had been downloaded months ago, so I'm not sure if they are still available, but here is a list of all the words and which fonts they were typed in, in case you'd like to use them in a project or download them for yourself:

Just The Way You Are (wonderful)
Footlight MT Light (heaven-sent)
Goudy Stout (miracle)
Constantia (adorable, strong, cuddly)
Curlz (playful)
Janda Curlygirl Serif (child of God)
Gigi (lovely)
French Script (happy)
Berlin Sans FB (kissable)
A Yummy Apology (unique)
Traveling_Typewriter (mommy's girl)
Harrington (bundle of joy)
Servus Text Display (daddy's girl)
Cinnamon Cake (light of my life)
Always Forever (huggable, sunshine, giggly)
Gold Plated (blessing)
Grenouille (one-of-a-kind)
Airplanes in the Night Sky (wiggly, sweetie pie, beautiful)
Avanti (Natalie Grace)
Angsana New (courageous)

I found a couple other fonts that I really loved (one called Cast Iron, comes to mind), but I felt like they didn't fit in with this particular project. Now I want to create more word art so that I can use those awesome fonts! There are more than a few empty walls in my house crying out to be decorated!!! Oh, and dingbat fonts also work well if you want to incorporate shapes and flourishes along with words. I downloaded Frames'n Riboons (yes, that is riboons, with one 'b' and two 'o's), which would be super cute for something! I'm thinking of art for Natalie's first birthday...and what a cute baby shower gift, or wedding present! Oh, the possibilities!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kindle Cover

I'm linking up with Table for Four's monthly PINspired feature today! I just finished sewing a Kindle cover for a birthday present and now I'm ready to make one for myself!

I used this tutorial that I came across on Pinterest and it was really easy to follow, although I did change it up just a little. The tutorial includes an inside pocket, but I didn't really see the need for one and a friend said she never used the pocket inside the cover that she had made for herself, so I skipped that part. I also sewed the hook-and-loop (velcro) closure on instead of using iron-on velcor, for added durability.

The main fabric is from Hobby Lobby and the brown with aqua polka dots is Chocolate Dumb Dot from Michael Miller. This was my second time sewing with batting and I must say, it's really not hard at all. Trying new things when I sew is always intimidating at first (probably because of the fear that I'll have to rip out stitches!), but it's not so bad once I get the hang of it. If you have a Kindle, Nook, ipad, or some similar device, you should try to make one of these covers! So cute and SO EASY!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Projects and Picnics

I've done some of sewing and embroidery recently and I must say that it feels good, albeit a little hectic, with a baby around who tries to put everything in her mouth. And I mean EVERYTHING. Just yesterday I had to fish a plastic wall anchor out of her mouth. Praise God she didn't choke! Here are some of the projects I've been working on:

A bib and burp cloth set for our local MOPS group to give away:

A skirt for my oldest niece's birthday:

A onesie for a friend's little girl, announcing some big news for their family!

Crazy-colors back-to-school skirt for our niece:

I'll be sewing a Kindle case for a birthday gift this weekend, too. I hope it turns out as cute as the one in this tutorial that I'm following!

The reason I was sewing skirts for my nieces is because they got to come to KY for a week to visit us all by themselves! My mom has been looking forward to hosting "Camp Grandma" for a long time, and her dream finally came true! While the girls were here, we had a few picnics at some local parks. The weather was gorgeous for August. Not unbearably hot and humid like usual, but just breezy and warm. After one picnic, we took a short little walk down to Lake Cumberland where the kids enjoyed throwing rocks into the water. A friend's two boys also came along and showed the girls the ropes.

Caitlin (7), couldn't resist the urge to go 'swimming' and jumped in.

Bella (almost 5) and Grandma

Me, Natalie, and Ashley (9)

A beautiful view from the shore!

The week went by so quickly, but we had a lot of fun and look forward to them coming back next summer!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Eight is Great!

So, I think this blog has turned into an online baby book for my first born. It seems as though I can't think of much else to write about other than her life. Every once in a while I think about writing about something more personal, and then I doubt myself and don't write anything til it's time for another monthly update on Natalie. One of these days I'll get back into writing about other stuff...

Here are a few things that have happened during Natalie's eighth month of life:

-Started saying "dada" and "mama", usually when she's upset and needs one of us
-She loves to take steps when you hold her hands
-Tried prunes, green beans, navy beans, puffs (which she has mastered at this point), oatmeal, baked apples and asparagus
-Started using the convertible car seat
-Has become much more sociable, but also bashfully smiles at everyone who talks to her
-Started crawling very slowly on her hands and knees
-Pushed herself into a sitting position from laying down on 8/15
-Pulled up to standing in her crib on 8/16/12
-Claps her hands (so cute!!!)
-Traveled to another state (Ohio) and met her Aunt Kim and cousins, Ashley and Caitlin for the first time
-We had to lower her crib mattress so she didn't fall out when she stood up in bed

I'm so excited to watch my baby girl grow up. It's sad that time has gone by so quickly, but every day brings new joys and adventure with it. I can't imagine life any other way. We are so blessed!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seven Months

I must say that having a baby in December makes it very easy to keep track of how old she is. One month old in the first month of the year, seven months old in the seventh month, etc. A friend's first born just turned a year old last week and it served as a reminder of how quickly these babies grow up!

During this last month, Natalie has changed so much (what else is new?!). Here are some of the things she's been up to:

-Rolling from back to belly and belly to back (as long as she's on a soft surface, like the bed or the couch. This child will NOT roll over on the floor!
-Pulling up on us or a dresser drawer. She LOVES to stand and has even started taking a few very wobbly steps like she's trying to cruise.

-I gave in and decided to let her sample a few foods here and there and have really liked my Munchkin baby food grinder to make small portions of food for her to try. She has tried zucchini, watermelon, sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, and peaches, in that order. So far, it looks like watermelon has been her favorite and carrots are her least favorite. I might not have gotten the texture of the carrots smooth enough for her liking though. We don't feed her solids every day; usually it's only when we happen to be eating something that we could also puree and give to her. I'm just not that into giving her solids yet. Baby-led weaning is sounding right up my alley about now :)

-She sticks her tongue out when Layla tries to lick her face. Gross, I know, so now we're extra attentive to keep their mouths away from each other! *Shudder* She also sticks her tongue out when we try to wipe her mouth off with a paper towel after she has eaten. Silly baby!
-Natalie has finally started saying a few syllables again. So far, she is saying "ma" and "ba". She also does this adorable thing where she curls her lips inward like you do when you're saying an "m" word, but she smacks her lips together over and over and it sounds like bubbles popping. Or, at least that's the best way I can think of to describe it!
-She now naps on her belly about half the time. The first time that this happened, she cried out and I went to check on her and her legs were sticking out through the slats in her crib, underneath the bumper and she was stuck! I really wanted to run and grab the camera before I rescued her, but I resisted the temptation and helped her out. Silly wiggle worm! The past 5 days have been horrible as far as naps go. I don't know if it's because of teething or what, but Natalie will.not.nap. She has gone from 3 naps a day (two long naps and a short nap) to two really short naps. On Saturday, she took two 30-minute naps. Has anyone else's child gone through this? She just lays in her crib and coos or she lays there and cries. Either way, no sleeping is happening. Ugh. I hope it's just teething.

-Socially, Natalie has grown by leaps and bounds. At just two months old, she literally screamed when anyone other than Alex or myself held her. The grandparents were devastated, to say the least. Now, she lets them hold her during church and when we visit with them. It's still not usually for extended lengths of time, but she's getting there. I hope we can work up to her staying with her grandparents for a couple of hours between feedings without her having a meltdown. All in time!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Growing Up!

Natalie had her 6-month check-up last week. She weighed 17 lbs (70th percentile) and was 27.25 inches tall (just above the 90th percentile). Despite having her nap cut short, she was really content during our time in the waiting room and during the check up. She really enjoyed playing with the paper on the exam table :)
I've been putting off introducing solids to her because of a family history of food allergies, but we have given her just a taste of a few things here and there. While we were visiting my parents recently, they had a little too much fun letting her sample some blackberry juice from a cobbler my mom had made.
After her check-up, we decided to give her a little more than a taste of veggies for the first time. I pureed some zucchini that we ate for dinner and Alex let her have at it.

By the end of dinner, she'd had enough and was ready for bed!
A friend was feeding her daughter some "puffs" the other day and gave me some for Natalie, but she kept gagging and nearly choking on them, so I decided to steer clear of them for the time being. I know the whole gagging thing is normal since they aren't used to having anything with texture in their mouths, but watching your beloved child react that way is kind of scary for a new mom! Natalie loves to mooch water from your cup, so I kept dropping water in her mouth from a straw, much to her delight. These days, sippy cups with water are good entertainment for her while I try to cook dinner, too.
She's quite a ham. Everything within her reach is fair game. She spilled ice water on me at Cracker Barrel yesterday morning and then slapped her hand on some chocolate dessert that Alex was trying to eat today. There's never a dull moment in our house! It's a lot of fun to experience all of Natalie's firsts with her and not miss anything. She's changing so quickly and I'll have a mobile baby on my hands before I know it! I don't think I'm quite ready for that!