Wednesday, October 19, 2016

7 Tips for Surviving your baby's Vaccinations

I know this can be a controversial subject. Before we begin, I just wanted to let you know  this is a post for people who believe in the importance of vaccinations.  In our family, we vaccinate. Period.  Please do not  use this as a platform to try to sway readers to think otherwise.  If vaccinations aren't your thing...feel free to quietly move on.  
K. Thanks. Love you. Bye. 


     New mamas, unite!  Some of the best blogging advice I've ever received came from Kate at The Small Things blog when I heard her speak at the Influence Conference. Her blog became wildly popular via Pinterest when she felt she was simply teaching people how to properly curl their hair.   Never assume that people know the basics.   I know a doctor's appointment may seem pretty cut and dry, but here's a list of things I wish I would have known before I braved Ella's first few appointments.

1. Dress your baby in something comfortable and easy to remove / put back on.  She's going to get poked in her adorable, chubby little thighs.  Recently, I put Ella in stretchy pants and a long sleeved t-shirt.  I seriously considered a zip-up sleeper.  Your baby is probably going to be undressed for most of the appointment, anyway.  No one cares as long as s/he is clean and adorable (the cuteness is just a given, right?).  

2. ((If your child is not yet walking)) Take your car seat. For her 6 month appointment, I contemplated just bringing Ella in without her carseat because she had such good head control. She's sitting up on her own now, so it's cute and fun to just carry her along.  She looks so proud of herself.  However, she fell asleep on the way, so I ended up bringing her into the office still asleep in her seat.  I'm really glad I brought the seat with us.  I needed the extra hands for my wallet, insurance card, etc.  The car seat also made a good "catch all" for her pacifier, clothes, and other personal items...which leads me to my next tip.  

3. Begin gathering your things as the appointment progresses - don't wait to pack up until after your baby has had her shots  The first time Ella had her shots, I made the mistake of waiting to pack up until the very end. Poor Ella was half naked and SCREAMING while I gathered alllll our belongings (paperwork, shot records, toys).  It was a mess.  You don't want to pack up while someone is in the room with you because that might seem rude, but as they float in and out (as nurses and doctors usually do), use that as an opportunity to begin gathering small things like your phone, keys, jacket and paperwork. This will save you valuable time in the end.  

4. Promise yourself a treat. This one needs no explanation.  I always get Starbucks on the way home.  Mama needs a coffee drink!   

5. Find emotional support- Tim and my mom usually get several texts and phone calls before, during, and after her appointments (haha).  Read: SOMEONE SAVE ME WHY IS THIS HAPPENING WHAT HAVE I DONE TO OUR BABY!?!?!?! You get the gist.  

6. Wear an over-sized cardigan (for newborns / weather permitting) and bring a blanket for older babies.  Ella was a fall baby.  For her first few appointments, I would wear a huge cardigan and wrap her up in it (while still wearing it).  This is one of my top suggestions for new moms- even at home.  Ella loved to be wrapped up like that.  Now I'm having flashbacks of my teeny, floppy baby.  

7. Bring a comfort object (it will help you more than your baby...haha).  For one appointment,  I brought this little, white rabbit along, and I think it helped us both.  It was nice to plunk her down in her little seat while she was hiccuping and crying and trying to be so brave with her little arm around her friend.  Heartbreakingly cute.  (For the record, I totally comforted her first, obviously, but she was still sad when I put her down.  I don't know about anyone else, but I just wanted to get her out of there into the comfort and movement of the car)! We are trying to start weaning her off her pacifier during the day.  I didn't even think to bring one to her last (traumatic) 12 month appointment (2 shots and a blood draw).  In that moment, I would have paid $500 for a Binky.  No joke.  Bring the nuk. Grab the bunny. 

Hugs to you. You are doing good work, mamas.  Good-bye, Good Luck, and get Starbucks. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

September Goal Update

Last month, I posted a list of goals for September.  Here's a little update!  Oh, Happy Day! 

1. Re-organize our finances- This one is still a work in progress, but I did manage to nail down exactly what we owe on two of our smallest loans and make my own "payment plan."  I should have them both paid off within six months so...yay...? I even made a little bar graph and everything. Ha.  It's the little things...I'm giving myself an A on this one.

2. Weed, mulch and plant mums- Again, a work in progress (Tim is in the process of building me some flower boxes), but for the most part, we're finished.  If you want to get technical about it, I didn't finish this until October, but...we do currently have mums and mulch IN THE YARD.  It counts.  A+ cause weeding is hard.

3. Finish Make Things Happen + 1 More book- I'm giving myself a C+  I definitely could have worked... HOWEVER, I read a book about health and wellness (might share the title later, it was a life-changing book for sure, and I feel like the title alone doesn't do it justice).  Reading it involved a lot of new recipes, meal planning and time on Pinterest (of course), so I felt like that cut into my reading time, a bit.

3a. Finish my Powersheets- Did.not.happen.  Next month...?

4. Buy New Bras- I'm giving myself a "free pass" on this one.  In hindsight, it was sort of silly to make this my goal for this particular month.  Up until the end of September I was still breastfeeding Ella.  I've also met a few weight loss goals since mid-September so, my body is bound to change over time.  I'm going to try to see how things pan out before I go shopping.  This may not be something I commit to until November or December.  I'd hate to change sizes right after I make my purchases.  You just never know.

5. Ella/ Mommy fun time- This one went really well.  During the month of September, I wanted to be intentional about getting out of the house with Ella...especially now that she's getting older and interacting more with the world around her.  With the help of my new MOPS group, we made a trip to Totter's Otterville which is basically a giant indoor play land for kids.  It was lots of fun.  We also went to the park twice. I recently started taking her little, pink "walk-about" for walks down our long driveway now that the weather has gotten super mild (read: gorgeous) instead of miserably hot.  It's one of my favorite things to do with her.  

6. Write our will- Ugh. No.  This is one of those things where I have no clue where to start, so I just keep putting it off.  Advice is welcome.

     For October, I'm going to "cheat" and just carry over my unfinished goals to this month.  That brings me back to my teaching days...whenever we'd have an unexpected snow delay, fire drill or assembly, I'd just have to draw BIG ARROWS all over my lesson plans for the week.  October is one of my favorite months'll hear no complaints from me!  

Love and don't drink from the water table, 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blog-Tember: The Year in Five Pictures

Today, as part of Bailey's Blogtember Challenge, I'm posting Five pictures that illustrate my life so far this year.  This was a fun, little project, but it was so hard to pick just five! 

     This one has no particular "significance" other than it has Noel in it, and I feel like she doesn't make the blog nearly as much as Scarlett does. This one reminds me so much of "mom life."  Ella and I took Noel to the vet a few months ago (just getting a second opinion on a 'cough' she's developed) of many, many errands I've run with a baby this year.  It complicates things sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  

     Oh boy.  We've tackled a lot of house projects this year (rather TIM has).  He built a gorgeous mantle for our living room to replace our wood stove.  (I'll have to post more recent pictures later).  He also put down new bathroom tile and did some serious work on our house's exterior.  No rest for the weary!

  I snapped this one on the way home from my birthday dinner in April. 
 I would follow these two anywhere.  

Whoa, man.  Sleep Regression?  Teething?  For a few weeks (months?), Ella quit sleeping through the night.  It was pretty hairy there for a while, but we survived.

So...I have a toddler now, guys.  She is very uh...should we say..."hands on?"  Haha...Ella Young, Carry us out!  

Love and does dirt count as "iron"?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blog-Tember- Day 10 A day in the life

     I have always thought it would be fun to do one of these posts.  A "reality TV junkie" at heart, I love having a glimpse into the people's lives.  Here's what a (somewhat) typical day looks like at our house.  

This was how we spent our day last Wednesday.

Here are a few disclaimers before we begin.

     My house is an absolute wreck.  We went to visit family over Labor Day weekend, and we are still trying to recover.  Tim is in the middle of two DIY projects that have left our house a little topsy-turvy (living room mantle and new bathroom flooring).  If you're wondering why there's rubbing alcohol and mouthwash in our dining room, that's why.  Ha.  #ifyoudontlaughyoullcry

I am not going to make the photos "artsy."  No white backgrounds.  No soft lighting or glossy filters.  This is as real as it gets, guys.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

Try not to let my glamorous life make you feel bad about your own.  Not everyone can pull off this lifestyle.  Five o'clock hors d'oeuvres and crystal chandeliers.  It's ok.  Really. 

     I love my life and wouldn't change a thing.  Everyday, I pray I'm worthy of my calling as wife and stay at home mom.  I hope my gratitude and joy is apparent in the coming post.  No matter how uneventful it may seem.

      As I thought about this post, I immediately worried I wouldn't come off as "busy" enough.  Being a stay at home mom is hard, and being a working mom is hard.  I think it's all give and take.  Everyday, I'm learning that my worth and security lies in who I am in The Lord and not how often my kitchen is clean.  Lord help us all.  

Enjoy. :) 

8:20- Ella and I are up.  This is late for us, but you'll hear no complaints from me.

     We are slow-starts in the morning.  Ella and I snuggle for a bit while she drinks her milk. We sit in silence, and I mentally prepare for the day.  It's a nice few minutes together...and ends up being one of my favorite parts of the day.  

     Ella eventually perks up a bit.  I make us bagels & cream cheese, grapes and a LARGE cup of coffee for mama.  We catch up on Bachelor in Paradise.  Ella is rooting for Grant & Lace.  I'm still on the fence. No one is surprised about Nick & Jen, although, as a courtesy, we feign shock.  

     While we finish breakfast, I mess around online a bit.  I  add to Ella's Amazon Wishlist for her first birthday and take a glance at my daily planner.   I use the last 15 or so minutes before Ella's first nap to start kind of getting my life together (haha). I throw on some clothes and put my contacts in. Next, I collect dishes from various parts of the house, load the dishwasher and wash the high chair tray.

     Around 10:30- Ella goes down for her first nap.  I decide to use this time to do some "administrative tasks" ((Read: blog, check Facebook, and balance our checking account)).  The dining room table is driving me crazy, so I take 10 minutes to clean it off, cut some flowers from the yard, and contemplate making another cup of coffee (I don't  make one in favor of drinking my tumbler of water. Good choice, mama...who am I fooling? We both know I'll have a 2nd cup before the day is through).  

     One of my goals for the month is to re-evaluate our finances in an attempt to pay off some of our debt.  I grab my "financial calendar" and get ready to dive in.  I also preheat the oven for lunch and text a few of my pals...good deals on zulily...a tomato soup recipe.  Like I said above, it's all very glamorous. ;)

     ELLA IS UP!  That nap time goes way too fast!  As I mentioned above, we were out of town for the weekend, so our grocery situation is seriously lacking.  Around 1:30, I make some random chicken and green beans I found in the freezer.  Ella also snacks on some oranges.  I'm disappointed because the green beans were supposed to have almonds in them, and I thought that sounded SUPER exciting, only to open the package and discover they were...sans almonds.  

Still tired! 

     The TV plays in the background while I try to finish up the work I'm doing at the table.  I'm finally crunch the numbers long enough that I'm able to set a goal to pay off two of our small debts within 6 months. Ella discovers how to change the TV stereo from "cable" to "DVD."  She does not know how to turn it back again.  This presents a problem, as you can imagine.  

     Around 2:45, we head to Kroger.  Our diaper situation is getting SERIOUS, and I need to pick up a few things for the week.  We are thrilled to discover they've put mums out and even more excited to see their priced pretty reasonably.  I make a mental note to pick some up next weekend.  

     We're home by around 3:30. We literally live within walking distance of the store, yet by the time I pull onto our street, Ella is asleep.  My poor, cute and tiny baby.  I EASE her into the house for her second (mini) nap and focus on putting groceries away.  Someone has pooped on the kitchen floor.  Process of elimination reveals it's either Scarlett or Noel.  After a lengthy interrogation, neither one of them will fess up...nor will they throw the other under the bus.  The loyalty is strong in these two.  Poop be gone.  While I'm working in the kitchen, I discover the almonds that were supposed to go in my green beans.  Bummer. Mystery solved.  Maybe they'll be good with oatmeal?  

     While Ella naps, I decide to take the time to do my devotions.  I am bad about throwing it into my day "here and there" and really need to focus on getting into a routine.  It is always too easy for my quiet time to be the FIRST thing that gets pushed out of the way when life gets busy.  I read a bit out of Lara Casey's book. In the current chapter, she asks us to focus on a verse that speaks TRUTH to the devil's lies.  I look up verses about having confidence and write down Hebrews 4:16 . I smile as I make the connection between the verse and my birthday (April 16th).  

     I also crack open a Diet Coke and enjoy an apple alone at the table.  Tim bought me some really yummy Amish Peanut Butter spread while we were in Nashville over the weekend.  I practically lick the plate.  

Ella wakes up a little after four. Not a great nap, but we'll take it.  We have what will only be referred to as "an incident." I make a note in my calendar to shampoo the carpets.  Ella gets a bath.  

     I have to bathe her in the sink because our bathroom is still torn apart from the work Tim did on the flooring (our other bathroom only has a shower).  It's so much easier to do it in the sink, and Ella loves how the water pours over her head.  At the moment, we're both pretty content.  

     I let the dogs out and go to check on my container garden.  It's slowly winding down, but I'm enjoying the last few veggies we have left.  Ella follows closely behind.  (She's usually not allowed on the laundry room floor...this was a big deal for her).  

     The time is now 4:45, and we're both starting to get a little antsy.  I am feeling discouraged by the fact that I've gotten very few TANGIBLE "chores" done today, and Ella is running on fumes (gosh darn the 'mini' nap).  Sometimes this mom-life is about working behind the scenes.  It will be great when we're paying off our car loan a year early because of the work I've done today, but all I can see are the dishes in the sink.  You know...I struggle when there is no clear "before and after."   Ella got some milk on the straps of her car seat.  I desperately need to wipe it all down.  That task is really important, but it's not something anyone off the street would actually NOTICE.  I'm learning to appreciate "my work" in all forms, but it's still hard.  
     We both go to her room, and I start slowly tidying so I can take pictures for an upcoming blog post.  I am getting ready to transfer over her 9 month clothes to her 12 month wardrobe.  It's overwhelming.  She has some birthday presents I need to put away.  I fold clothes.  I make stacks and piles.  Ella continues to fuss.  I snap a few photos and crack a few jokes, "Aww...did we poke the bear?"  

She finds this less and less amusing as time goes on.  

I power through.  Today was the day I was going to document for a blog post.  I HAVE to get some things accomplished.  This place is a wreck. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!?!?!  

Mild panic attack.  Fuss fuss.  Fold clothes. Pick up toys. Wipe down furniture.  

And then The voice of The Lord and Sweet Lara Casey HITS ME. 

"Do what matters most."  

What matters most?  I am home. I am here. With my baby.  My tired, fussy baby who didn't take much of a nap and just wants to be held.  Sometimes a girl just needs her mom.  (LORD KNOWS I STILL DO)!

I relent.  We Surrender.  

I pick up my baby and snuggle her in close.  

Ok. This. THIS is what MATTERS MOST.  Everything else can wait.  

While we're snuggling, Tim calls and offers to bring home dinner.  This almost NEVER happens.  He must have sensed my distress. Ha.  

He gets home around 5:30 with dinner.  We eat pretty quickly, play with our girl and then put her to bed. 

     We spend the rest of the evening on the couch watching Fringe together before it gets booted off Netflix. I end the night with some decaf coffee, a little chocolate, a shower and some quality time with my guy.  Sweet morning, rough afternoon, perfect night.  

Love and spur-of-the-moment-boneless-chicken-wings, 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Blog Tember Day 8 - Room Tour

This month, I'm participating in Bailey's Blogtember Challenge.  She asked us to post a room tour.  Today, I'm featuring Ella's room.  

     So...this is my first "room tour" post.  We have black-out curtains in the nursery so Ella can sleep better.  I feel like they made the lighting a bit weird/hard to edit...but at the same time...they're like, "We're BLACK OUT CURTAINS.  What more do you want from us?"  They definitely could use  a good steam iron and some new hooks...but that's pretty low on the priority list, as you can imagine. ;)  

      Ella's room is my favorite room in the house.  I put a ton of work into it...I hope you enjoy it and possibly get some ideas for your own tiny one's room.  We actually spend a lot of time in here, so I'm glad I invested the energy into personalizing it. 

Just FYI...decoration-wise...almost everything is either vintage, handmade by family or came from Michael's or Hobby Lobby.

     The first thing you see when you walk in the room is the crib.  I like that at night, I can crack open the  door just barely and check on our girl.  I also love that her face is the first thing I see when I come get her from a nap!  The gallery wall behind her crib also makes me happy just looking at it.  My dad cut the wooden "Ella" letters for me.  I pretty much made or pieced together everything else.  We found the little bluebird in Tim's grandparents' old barn.  I honestly built the whole theme around that bird...I've held onto it for years! 

All of Ella's bedding came from Babies R Us.  You can find it online here.  Cocker Spaniel not included.  

This is my favorite little nook.  It's so cozy, and we spend a lot of time here. The cart and lamp are from IKEA.  I covered the lamp myself with fabric from Hobby Lobby.  The chair was given to us, second hand from a sweet friend.  I love that she rocked her babies in it, and now I'm rocking mine.

I framed pictures from a vintage children's book and used scrapbook paper as a background.  The frames are from Hobby Lobby.

Changing Table-  We bought the dresser from an unfinished furniture place.  Tim stained it all for Ella, and it's perfect.  The drawers hold her current clothes, diapers, and her clothes for the following season.  The bottom drawer has extra or "overflow" items like hand sanitizer and all the "baby proofing" items we're slowly starting to use (outlet covers, cabinet locks, etc.).

     The striped basket is from Target.  Inside, I have diapers, sanitizer, rash cream, the nose frita, and a forehead thermometer.     Someone gave us the bird statue as a wedding gift, which I think is really sweet.   

The rocking horse belonged to Tim's mom when she was a child.  About 3/4 of the animals were mine when I was little.  A couple of them were gifts.  The rest are from IKEA or jellycat.  Tim won her the little, green monster at a festival down the street over the summer.  So sweet. This is my view whenever I am rocking her in the chair (opposite wall).  It's nice to put my feet up and see all her animal friends.  

The rack is just a plant holder we found at Lowe's and spray painted white. As Ella gets older, we'll have to make them more accessible, but for right now, keeping them out of Scarlett's mouth has been the key.  With the help of my mother in law, I made the bird garland from a digital file I found on Etsy. 

     As a former teacher, I needed a place to store all my old children's books.  Thanks for loaning me some shelf space, Ella.  Her "piggy bank" is just a mason jar covered with a chalkboard label sticker.  The little squirrel belonged to Tim's family.  It sat on top of the fridge in his first apartment.  We've long since misplaced the acorns that go with it.  The little, green T came from Tim's room when he was small.

     My mother in law painted this gorgeous piece per my request.  She did a fantastic job, and I love that it will grow with Ella.  I could still see this in her room, even as a teenager.  The dollhouse was built by my dad, and I played in it when i was little. It has made great storage for her headbands, blankets, and little finger puppets.  She loves digging through the baskets and looking at all her "treasures." He made her "name train" as well.  Last, every girl needs a framed photo of her dogs.  ;) ((Also...I love having the touch-light up there so I can see her quickly when I want to obsess over if she's breathing at night. You understand. )) 

I made a collage of items similar to what's in Ella's nursery. How cute is that bluebird pitcher?  And...I think I just found the bedding if our next baby is a girl. Ha.

Bluebird Creamer     Picture Frame     Basket     Bedding     Vintage Birdhouse      Vintage Bird Book 

Love, a hammer and nails,