Monday, December 12, 2011

Tortellini Soup

I LOVE making soups, especially in the winter.  I usually make a soup on Saturday or Sunday and then we'll eat off of that throughout the week for lunches or I'll have it when Jay is leading praise band rehearsal or something.  This tortellini soup is one of my absolute favorites.  It's so easy and packed with veggies and flavor!  It's a fun twist on a traditional vegetable soup.  And you can get most of the ingredients at Aldi (always a bonus, in my opinion... sorry if you don't have an Aldi near you!).  Don't worry about exact measurements- recipes are just guidelines (unless you're baking)!

1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 8 oz. package refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 cups beef broth
1/2 cup water
1 cups sliced carrots (I think it's about 3 carrots or so... just add what you want!)
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 zucchinis)
2 cans of diced tomatoes (sometimes I dice up fresh ones)
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 t. basil
1/2 t. oregano
1 t. parsley

Cook the sausage in soup pot and then remove.  Saute onions and garlic in the same pot.  Add broth, water, carrots, tomatoes, spices, and sausage (back in).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  Add zucchini and tortellini and simmer 25 minutes.  (It's fine to keep it on low on the stove for a while.  The leftovers are just as good!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog Buzz

A big THANK YOU to my friend Heather at Everyday Evans for giving me this blog award!

I don't have a speech prepared, but I owe many blog posts to this friend because she nags me to death when I don't post often enough.  Ha ha!  I really have been doing better about this though!

The Liebster Award spotlights up and coming bloggers who generally have less than 200 followers. Upon receipt of the Liebster Award, there are a few very simple rules:
1. Copy and paste the award on your blog
2. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you
3. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
4. Hope that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.


So without further adieu, I give you my top five picks (please picture me in a super sparkly, figure-flattering award-nominee-announcer gown):
1. Monica @ Grace for Today
2. Danielle @ Living in Love & Joy
3. Sarah @ Moms 2 B
4. Ashley @ The Shamblin Stories
5. Megan @ Blissfully Burton

Spread the love!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another List

-Jay and I celebrated our five year anniversary this past weekend!  We had a date night on Friday- nice dinner, stroll around downtown Abbeville, and relaxing and talking in a coffee shop for a while.  We had such a great time!  I am so thankful to be married to such an amazing man who chases after God each and every day.  Yes, I made the babysitter (thank you, Amber!) take a picture of us before we left:
-I've been wearing a dress with a cardigan, tights/leggings, and boots probably 3 or 4 days a week.  I know some disagree, but I think tights are so incredibly comfortable.  In college, I used to wear tights under my jeans every day in the winter!

-Jonah has been having a really difficult time with teething this week.  He's working on two more top teeth (his 5th and 6th) and he hasn't been sleeping through the night.  He had a fever last night and he was just so pitiful.  We've been spending some extra time together at around 5:30 each morning... not my ideal time for sure!

-Last night we gave Jonah some broccoli as a finger food while we were eating dinner.  Oh my goodness, he HATED it!  He put a little piece in his mouth, pinched his little face up, closed his eyes, and shuddered all over.  It was hilarious.  Jay stuck another piece in his mouth and Jonah immediately threw up the broccoli and everything else he had already eaten.  Nice.  We'll be holding off on broccoli for a while, or I might try mixing it with something else until he gets used to it. 

-I LOVE jalepeno potato chips.  I am one of those people who has to have chips with my sandwich, and jalepeno have been my favorite for a while.  But last week I discovered these dill pickle chips that have changed my life forever.  If you eat too many, your mouth gets kind of raw, just like when you eat salt and vinegar chips, but oh my goodness... SO worth it.

-Last night I ordered our Christmas cards.  Yes it's the beginning of November, but they were 60% off with free shipping!  Plus, last year I stressed about those dumb cards for weeks, so I am happy to get it out of the way.  I hope they turn out as cute in person as they are online! 

-Sunday night was our girls' Bunco night!  We haven't had it in about six months and we had a great time.  It was some much-needed girl time for everyone, I think!

-I have started Christmas shopping!  I've bought a couple little things over the past few months, but I will be getting hard-core in the next few weeks.  I LOVE Christmas shopping and I'm always sad when it's over (which for me is usually around Dec. 1st- I never procrastinate it!).  And I can't wait to get all the decorations out... I always ask Jay if we can decorate after Halloween instead of Thanksgiving and every year he turns me down.  Such a Grinch ;)

And just because he's cute and I love those lips:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Airplanes, Cousins, and California

Jonah and I flew solo to California a couple of weeks ago to see my sister, Shanny (short for Shannon), and her four kids, Gabby, Caroline, Sam, and Nate.  Jonah was so excited to meet his cousins for the first time, and couldn't wait to see his aunt again!  (Gavin, Shanny's husband, is a Navy commander deployed overseas for seven months right now.  We miss him!)  I was extremely apprehensive about flying by myself with the baby.  There's just so much that goes into it, but I kept reassuring myself that people do this every day and get through it just fine.  After a lot of prayer and preparation, I decided that any cross-country trip would be worth it to see these kids, right?

And I desperately missed my sister:



Our time in California was better than I could have asked for!  All the kids were CRAZY about Jonah.  They fought for his attention and wanted to be next to him at all times.  The most surprising was Nate, who is 4.  All day long we heard him say in a sing-song "soothing" voice (while patting Jonah's head, staring at him only inches away from his face), "Hi, Baby Jonah....  Hi, Baby, Jonah..." over and over again.  When Jonah was asleep, Nate would carry the video monitor around with him everywhere and give me updates. "Tay Tay, Baby Jonah is still sleeping.  See, look.  Right now he's still sleeping right there.  He just moved his arm.  But he's still sleeping."  Ha ha!  We got to go with Nate's preschool class to a pumpkin patch one day:

Jonah's other cousins played with him and doted on his every move, too!  I thought he might get overwhelmed with all the attention but he just soaked it up.  Gabby and Caroline were such good little "mommies" the whole week.  On Saturday, we went to the soccer fields in the afternoon and watched Sam play (all 4 kids play, but Jonah was sleeping during the girls' games):

Shanny took such wonderful care of us.  She borrowed baby gear from all of our friends so that we were all set when we arrived.  She bought about six hundred jars of baby food, sippy cups, diapers, and every puff/teething biscuit/yogurt melt imaginable.  I honestly don't know how she does it all when her husband is deployed and she has such bright and active kiddos.  We spent our days shopping, having lunches out, taking walks, playing hours of Phase 10 with Gabby and Caroline (I am the Phase 10 champion of the world!), enjoying the California sunshine and the swing set outside, and playing Kinect's Dance Central (have you done this??  Oh my goodness- SO FUN!).  It was some much-needed bonding time, that's for sure.  I will always be thankful for that week we had together.
I can't wait for Jonah to be big enough to wrestle around with Sam and Nate and to look up to all of his cousins.  He will be a blessed little boy, for sure.

Now, for the plane ride.  I will NEVER again fly across the country with an infant by myself.  Don't get me wrong, the trip was totally and completely worth every minute.  But it's HARD.  If Jay had been with me, it would have been fine.  It's just that that extra set of hands was much-needed, and no help was ever offered to me.  It's extremely difficult to maneuver a baby, stroller, carry-on bag, and suitcase through an airport.  When I arrived at security, I was told I had to take my shoes and Jonah's shoes off, pick him up, and then collapse the stroller and lift it onto the conveyor (this is very hard to do while holding a baby!).  On the plane, Jonah was great in the sense that he almost never fussed.  But the problem was that he wanted to stand on my legs and jump up and down (with me supporting him) for the entirety of the flight.  My normally sleep-dependant baby slept a total of ten minutes on our way to California (during a ten-hour period), and an hour on the flight back.  It was physically and emotionally exhausting, and I had no one to help me.  I was thankful though, that I was totally prepared and felt like I had everything that I needed.  Some tips for anyone else planning to fly with a baby:
-Try to limit your carry-ons to one bag (in this case, it was my diaper bag) and one umbrella stroller (you'll need it to get through the airports).
-Make sure your diaper bag is organized.  I had a prepared 2 gallon-sized Ziploc bags- one full of snacks (Cheerios, puffs, Mum-Mums) and one full of little toys (this one was not needed as much because Jonah was too busy looking at everyone and everything on the plane and wanting to eat the safety manual/armrest/magazine/arm of the passenger next to us).  I also had a bottle with formula already in it (Jonah is nursing still, but he doesn't mind formula) so that I could just add water to give him on the take off and landing to help relieve the pressure on his ears.  I had about 6 or 7 diapers, wipes, and baby pain reliever, too.  The only thing I wish I had remembered was a light blanket.  I think this might have helped him sleep if I had draped it over his head while he laid on me.
-When you arrive at the gate, go to the counter and ask if there are any seats available with an empty seat next to it, so that you have some extra room and can put the baby there for short breaks when you need it (I only had this luxury on one flight, but it was wonderful).
-Dress the baby in layers.  Some planes will be freezing and some will be stifling.  Make sure you dress as comfortably as possible!
-If you are nursing, make sure to look carefully at your flight plan to see when you will be able to nurse. I nursed on my layovers and once in the airplane bathroom. (Yes, it can be done but I don't recommend it!)  
-Make friends with the person sitting next to you!  You want to make a connection so that they find your baby endearing, instead of a nuisance.

To sum up this very long, drawn-out post: 

Flying alone with an infant = No fun.  Seeing some of your favorite people in California = Totally worth it.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ten-Month Panda Bear

Jonah is ten months old!  Here are a few updates on our little man:
-He is in mostly 18 months clothes (!!!) with a few 12 month outfits thrown in there.
-He is still nursing 4 times a day (8:00, 12, 4, and 8) and he eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
-He's eating mostly baby food, but we're incorporating finger foods more and more.
-He started crawling about two weeks ago and I love it!  He looks so cute and I love being able to watch him explore.
-Jonah loves books.  He crawls to the books in his room every chance he gets.  He especially loves for us to read him any of the books that have flaps to lift up.  When the page turns, he immediately grabs for every flap to lift it up.
-He's started understanding what "excited" means.  When we say, "Are you excited?" he stiffens his whole body, clenches his fists, grins really big, and kind of shakes all over.  It's adorable.  It looks a little bit like he's having a seizure, but it's much cuter, I promise.
-We still love our naps!  Two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon.
-We made it through our first plane ride (more on this later) and Jonah was a champ!

Now, for the cutest panda bear EVER:


With his friends, Lily the Ladybug and Ainsley the Penguin:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Follow-up!

The blog reader with sleep questions that launched the longest blog post ever (see yesterday's entry) immediately had more questions about these tricky naps, and I don't blame her!  I spent hours upon hours trying to finagle (love that word) every nuance having to do with sleep, just praying that at some point I would figure out the magic combination that would release the "sleeping like a baby" quality that I knew was somewhere inside that cute boy!  So let's do it:

1. "Once you really started [sleep training] in earnest, how long did it take to get Jonah to really stick to a schedule with some consistency?"
     Looking back, I'm pretty sure that it took about 3 weeks of hard-core training (probably from 6 or 7 weeks old until 10 weeks) before I was really comfortable with our schedule.  That said, those three weeks were HARD.  I would have to put Jonah down and then go outside on the porch to escape the crying.  I would always take the video monitor out there with me, but I ALWAYS turned the volume all the way down and then I would just check on the screen every 5 minutes or so until he fell asleep.  And then once he fell asleep, I would go back inside and make myself turn the monitor off until it got to be around the time I expected him to wake up.  If you have a video monitor, you know that it is the best baby device ever, but you can also become obsessed with it (ahem... MOM) and want to look at it 24/7, and that's when it becomes a torture device.

2.  "If Jonah is still asleep at feeding time, do you wake him up?"
     NO!  Do not wake up a sleeping baby.  I'm sure others disagree, but unless you have to wake him up to go somewhere, I would leave him alone up to an hour past his usual wake up time.  He might need some extra sleep that day!  (The only exception for us was Jonah's last nap of the day... I would wake him up so that he would have some play time before he went down for good, or else he wouldn't be tired enough at bed time.)

3.  "Did you ever have issues with Jonah refusing to nap/waking up early from a nap (where letting him cry it out or crying himself back to sleep didn't work)?"
    This definitely happened about once a week for about a month for us.  I hated those days.  I would leave him for about 30 minutes to cry, and then I would go in and rock him for a few minutes, patting his back.  Jonah really struggled with needing to burp badly but not being able to get it out.  Once I realized that, I would always pat his back while I rocked him/walked around/etc. hoping that he would burp.  I did not rock him long enough to rock him to sleep.  I always make a habit of putting him down in his crib awake.  He would almost always settle down after he burped.  Every so often when he would have a particularly difficult time, I would wait 30 minutes, go in to check on him (make sure there's no dirty diaper!), wait another 30 minutes, and if he was still crying, I would usually call it quits and go get him, hoping for a better result at the next nap time.  This might sound weird, but a few times that this happened, I picked him up and laid on the couch with him and he would fall asleep on top of me.  I never wanted to make a habit of that, but it was precious hours were so sweet.  I have a friend who has nerves of steel and is an AMAZING mother (you know who you are!), who refused to go into her children's room during nap time unless she knew something was really wrong (dirty diaper, sick, etc.).  Anyway, I used to call her when Jonah would have a rough nap time and she would encourage me to tough it out!  Now I have her voice in my head telling myself to be strong when I need it.  :)

I'm sorry if any of this seems harsh.  I love and adore this baby with every cell of my being, and I believe that this is all out of love.  I feel like sleep training is one of the first ways we can guide and direct our children.  Jonah now knows without a doubt how to fall asleep on his own, that the crib is for sleeping, and that Mommy will come and get him when nap time is over.  That being said, these are all just my opinions.  Bottom line is that BABIES NEED SLEEP AND LOTS OF IT!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Babies and Sleep

***Warning: if you are not a mom yet or don't plan on dealing with babies anytime soon, this is probably going to be an extremely painful and tedious read.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

I am a firm believer that the number one way to have a happy baby is to make sure that they have plenty of sleep.  I've been wanting to write about this for a while, but there are so many different views on this topic and I have so many thoughts running around in my head that I wasn't sure I could organize them into practical tips for any other moms.  But a sweet reader emailed me about this, specifically asking for clarification about a sleep schedule for her baby boy, so hopefully this will help her in some way!  Actually, I'm still not sure I will be completely clear, but PLEASE just let me know if anyone needs clarification about something.  First of all, I am definitely not an expert on this by any means.  I only have one baby, and I know all babies are different.  Second, your views may be completely different than mine and I'm okay with that.  I in no way believe choosing a parent-led vs. a baby-led approach makes a better parent or a more well-behaved baby.  This is what works for me and for our family, and I can only speak for our little unit.

That being said, I basically only read one baby book while I was pregnant (besides "What to Expect While You're Expecting).  My copy of "On Becoming Baby Wise" was underlined and had writing in the margins long before Jonah was ever born.  I knew from several friends of mine who were already mothers that this approach would be best for my personality.  "Baby Wise" takes a parent-led approach to parenting, meaning that the parents try to establish patterns of eating, playing, and sleeping for their baby every day, instead of the baby directing the parents and the parents going with the flow, so to speak.  I AM A PLANNER.  I have never been, nor will I ever be, a spontaneous person.  It sounds like a very romantic way to live life, but I don't think I'll ever get there.  This quality about myself was actually difficult for me to get past when Jonah was first born.

Just days after we were home from the hospital, I was stressing out about getting Jonah on a schedule the way BW talks about.  I wanted to give myself an imaginary A+ for being the best mom ever. I wanted Jonah to be an over-achieving BW baby, all the way.  After a couple of weeks of defeat, I finally picked BW up off of the coffee table and put it in the closet, realizing that it didn't matter if I memorized every chapter... Jonah had never read it!  He didn't know he was "supposed to be" on a sleeping schedule!  From then on, I decided to cut myself some slack and embrace that this was a gradual process.  I tried to change my mindset enough to see the information as goals to work toward, instead of laws that I had to follow.

In the first 6 weeks, the only achievable goal is to get your baby on a routine of eating, playing, and then sleeping.  That means that starting when Jonah woke up in the morning, I would nurse him, then he would stay awake for a certain time, and then he would take a nap (then wake up and do it all over again- sounds thrilling, right???).  For us, this was a 3-hour cycle from beginning to end.  Jonah is now 9 months old and we still follow the eat/play/sleep cycle, it is just a longer (4-hour) cycle now.  I believe sleeping is the most important part of any child's day.  Jonah is completely and utterly dependent on his naps, even now. 

Don't worry about what time it is during the first 6 weeks of the baby's life.  Your baby may wake up at different times each morning, but you just assess what time it is and start your day from there.  I don't think any baby should be awake longer than an hour at a time during this newborn stage.  I recently had a friend call me asking for help with her 8-week-old baby being fussy (wailing and wailing) for hours at a time.  I went to her house around 1:00, and asked when he had his last nap.  She told me that he hadn't had any nap yet that day.  I immediately said that I was sure he was exhausted!  She finally said, "We don't have any sort of schedule and I feel helpless to help him."  I didn't want to force anything on her, but she asked for help.  Later that night, I brought over BW and sat down to help her establish some sort of schedule to work toward.  I told her it would take a few days, but it would get better.  Sure enough, a couple of days later, I called her and she said laughingly, "I thought we had a bad baby but it turns out he just had bad parents!"  She said he was sleeping wonderfully during the day and had stopped fussing almost completely.  She was rested and calm.

When Jonah was about 6 weeks old, I wrote down on a notepad what I would LIKE our day to look like.  It said something like this:

8:00     Wake up, nurse
8:30     Play
9:00     Nap time
11:00   Wake up, nurse
11:30   Play
12:00   Nap time
2:00     Wake up, nurse
2:30     Play
3:00     Nap time
5:00    Wake up, nurse
5:30    Play
6:00    Nap time
7:00    Wake up, play
8:00    Nurse, go to bed for the night  (and then wake up to nurse once or twice during the night)

Now keep in mind, these were GOALS.  It's not like I posted this on the fridge and then it just happened (as much as I hoped and prayed it would).  Here are some things to keep in mind:

-This had to be adjusted over and over again as Jonah got older.  His play times gradually lengthened to an hour, and then an hour and a half, and now he stays awake for two hours at a time.  At around 6 months, he started nursing every four hours and only taking a morning nap and an afternoon nap.  But regardless of his age, by about 12 weeks old, I could schedule my day around his naps with no problem.  I love knowing that yes, I can meet you for lunch at 12:30 (or whenever) because I know that Jonah will be awake.  Or knowing that even if we have to be out during a nap time, Jonah will be okay because he's so used to that nap time that he will fall asleep just like he would at home.

-Don't feel guilty about putting them in their crib for their naps.  I had this irrational guilt complex at the beginning that if I put Jonah down for a nap in his room (instead of the swing or on top of me, etc.), that I was somehow not being a good mom.  Now, I think it's actually the opposite.  Being put in his crib has taught Jonah that this is where he sleeps.  When I lay him down now in his crib, he looks up at me and smiles, then immediately closes his eyes and begins sucking on his fingers.  He associates his crib with sleep.
-Babies need to sleep longer than half an hour at a time.  If they wake up early, LEAVE THEM THERE.  They will go back to sleep.  A long nap (at least an hour) will help them be rested.  When he was a few months old, it was so hard to leave Jonah in his crib when he was crying.  But if I had gone in to get him every time he cried, he would realize, "Oh I get it.  Just cry and Mommy will come and then I don't have to sleep."  And if he didn't sleep, he would be a very unhappy baby.  BE STRONG!  The only way for them to learn to nap is for you to teach them.

-In the first few months, swaddle, swaddle, SWADDLE.  And swaddle tightly.  Jonah slept so much longer once we started putting him in his swaddle.

-I don't think Jonah would have somehow figured out a schedule on his own.  And like I said before, that may be perfectly fine for some people, but not for this Type-A girl.  MUST. HAVE. ROUTINE.

Some of you may have read this and now think I am neurotic psycho.  And that is fine.  I might be, but I am a crazy person with a happy, well-rested baby.  Ha ha- just kidding!  (Sort of.)  Please let me know if I need to clarify something or if there's any way I could help with anything else.  We're all on this crazy ride together!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Random Smorgasbord

I know my blogging has been sporadic at best!  So this is for my friend, Heather, who assures me that I really do have thoughts worth sharing with the world.  My day-to-day life as a SAHM is pretty quiet and routine, and nothing super exciting has happened around here lately, but my little boy really is worth talking about so I will use him as a catalyst for other random musings.
1. Yesterday, I went to put pajamas on Jonah and realized they were all dirty (I have since done laundry).  The only ones I had were size 18 months, but I thought they would be okay just for a little while.  I put them on him and, lo and behold, THEY FIT.  I couldn't believe it (he's only 8 1/2 months old!)!  Then this morning I went to put shoes on his feet for the first time in months and no matter what I did, I couldn't stuff his feet in there.  The shoes were a size 4.  I don't know much about toddler boy shoes, but shouldn't those be big enough?  I'm not ready for him to be this big!

2. I went to a couponing workshop in August and have since re-entered the magical and frustrating world of couponing.  I feel like my goal is to attack and conquer CVS every Sunday.  It is so strategic for me that when I approach the register and get $1347 worth of merchandise for $.07 (slight exaggeration), I feel like I am cheating the system and might get in trouble!  Grocery store coupons are more tedious and have become the bane of my existence.  I am still working on conquering that arena.  Jay is happy that I'm at least attempting this!

3. Today is the first day in Greenwood that I've had to wear close-toed shoes in about 5 months.  Everyone's facebook statuses talk about jumping for joy over boots, pumpkin spice anything, apples, and leaves.  I LOVE SUMMER and I always will.  I get so sad just thinking about the warm weather ending.  I even love the stifling heat.  Summer clothes are so much easier for me than winter.  I had to give myself a pep talk just to get dressed this morning in three-quarter length sleeves and boots.  I'M NOT READY.  And for the record, I don't like pumpkin or spiced anything.  Am I the only one in this boat???

4. My parents are coming here in 2 weeks.  I CAN'T WAIT.  Even after five years of living away far, far away, I am not used to it.  Having Jonah really has made it more difficult to be away from them.  A friend of mine once said that she thought that my family was "obsessed with each other," which she meant as a compliment and I chose to see it that way as well.  We love each other and they are all pretty nuts (Do you like how I switched from "we" to "they" in that statement?  I am definitely the most "normal" and they would all agree.) so I think "obsessed" is a pretty good description.  Plus, my mom in particular is more than obsessed with Jonah.

5. My sweet boy has started to love two of my favorite things: cuddling and reading.  He's always been cuddly to a certain point, but now he buries his face in my neck several times a day and just stays for a little while.  And now we read together in his room a couple of times a day.  He will hold both sides of the book just like he's reading it himself and smiles at the pages (and licks them, of course).  He definitely has favorite books, which is fun for me to see.

Please don't give up on me yet!  I promise I'll be back again soon.

P.S.  Our little giant still won't crawl and shows no interest in moving anywhere.  We have bribed him with toys/food/Mommy/Daddy out of his reach, but he does not care in the least.  Any tips for us?  We sometimes stand him up and let him hold on to the couch/coffee table/chair by himself and he'll stand there as long as we let him with no problem, but no crawling to be seen!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Unnecessary Confusion and Worry

A much-needed reminder for my prideful, worrying heart:

"With regard to the problem that is pressing in on you right now, are you 'looking unto Jesus' (Hebrews 12:2) and receiving peace from Him?  If so, He will be a gracious blessing of peace exhibited in and through you.  But if you only try to worry your way out of the problem, you destroy His effectiveness in you, and you deserve whatever you get.  We become troubled because we have not taken Him into account.  When a person confers with Jesus Christ, the confusion stops, because there is no confusion in Him.  Lay everything out before Him, and when you are faced with difficulty, bereavement, and sorrow, listen to Him say, 'Let not your heart be troubled...' (John 14:27)."  -Oswald Chamber

HE will take care of me.  HE is my protector... the Protector of my family.  Now I just have to work on getting out of His way and allowing Him to work in me!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Seven Months

Last Thursday, Jonah turned 7 months old!  It's so cliche to say, but I just can't believe we've already gotten this far.  Just a few things about our little guy at this age:

Height: At 6 months, he was 28 inches, which was 85th percentile (haven't been to the doctor since then to measure... not that their technique is scientific or accurate at all.  Really???  Just a pencil mark at the foot and the head while he's squirming around all over the place?).

Weight: 20 pounds, 75th percentile (again, this was taken at 6 months)

Sleeping: Jonah is sleeping 12-13 hours straight through the night.  Yes, sometimes it really is thirteen hours!  For those of you who are new moms, I promise one day it will happen to you too.  And yes, it is heaven on earth.  He also takes a two-hour nap in the morning and a two-hour nap in the afternoon (usually about 10:30-12:30 and then 2:30-4:30).  He is no longer swaddled (WOO HOO!!!  Only took us 6 months to break out of that thing!) and he rolls around all over the crib. Actually, he still only rolls to the right.  I have no idea why... it always makes him end up in the same corner of the crib!

Eating: Jonah nurses every 4 hours during the day, which ends up being five times a day.  He eats solids at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Breakfast is usually baby cereal mixed with some kind of fruit (baby food), and he eats about 4-6 oz. of baby food for lunch and dinner.  I am making all of his baby food now.  So far, he has had sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, green beans, squash, apples, bananas, avacado, peaches, mangoes, and strawberries. (I found out the day after I gave him strawberries that he shouldn't have them until he's a year old... oops!  But he's not allergic and loves them!)

Loves:
-His exersaucer and jumperoo.  He's really getting the hang of the whole bouncing thing!
-Facial hair.  He LOVES Jay's beard, especially when Jay kisses all over his face and neck.  He just squeals and laughs so hard!  He always reaches out to touch beards on any men at church, too.
-Going on walks.  This is the solution for any fussiness.
-Baths.  Another fussy solution.
-Sitting up by himself.  But he still has no desire to crawl...
-Sweet potatoes, bananas, mangoes, and strawberries
-McKinley (our little dog)
-When he hears Daddy's voice
-Music.  He could sit and listen to Jay's worship team practice for hours.  He will ALWAYS stop fussing if I sing (because I am a rock star- ha ha)
-Sitting on the porch swing with Mom
-Watching people
-Watching cars

Hates:
-Lotion
-The hours of the day between 6:30-8:00 p.m.
-Green beans and peas (makes over-dramatic gagging noises the entire time we feed him)
-Being tired.  This boy is devoted to his naps!
-Waiting in his high chair while we get his food ready



For the most part, Jonah is the happiest, most chilled-out baby I could have ever hoped for.  So much so that I am already terrified about the next one (whenever that might be)!  There's no way the pregnancy and early baby months could be this easy again!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Unexpected Inspiration

Yesterday morning, Jonah and I met some ladies from our church for coffee in a neighboring town.  I ended up sitting next to a woman I had never met before, who is a friend of a friend.  To be honest, I was kind of caught up with Jonah and just happy to be out of the house for the morning, and I am ashamed to say that making small talk with someone new wasn't at the top of my priority list.  I introduced myself to Linda, and quickly learned that she had two teenagers and was very involved with "master gardening," which I am totally unfamiliar with.  Our personalities were clearly different- she wasn't shy, but she barely spoke above a whisper, and I could tell that she is very selective with her words.  I, on the other hand, will yap on and on about anything to anyone (which is something I really should work on). 

After a few minutes, Linda began asking about Jonah, Jay, and our life together.  The questions weren't anything out of the ordinary.  But something struck me as different right away.  She listened.  Not just listened in a "yeah, I'm kind of hearing you and I'm going to nod my head now and again" kind of way... but really listened.  She wasn't just asking questions to fill the silence.  The more she spoke, the more interesting and insightful she became. 

And then she asked, "So what are you ladies reading in the Word right now?"  (She assumed correctly that I am a Christian because we had already talked about Jay's job as the worship pastor at our church.)  I was caught off-guard.  I mean, I am a pastor's wife, immersed in church culture, ministry, and everything that comes with it.  But still, this woman was virtually a stranger to me.  Rarely does anyone ask that to someone they just met.  After I responded, she followed up with, "And what is God teaching you through that?"  As I was answering, I was also thinking about the meaningful conversations this woman must have.  She didn't know me, and yet she cut right to the core.  Our exchange was simple, refreshing, and inspiring.  I walked away thinking I want to be more like her.  She was fearless, and not held back in the least by "social norms."  Jesus spoke with people the same way... he dug in and got right to the heart of each person. To me, Linda was the epitome of the Christian phrase "in the world, but not of the world."  I have a lot to learn.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Weekend Fun

We had a great weekend with friends!  I love it when our days are packed with errands and visiting (Jay would probably like them to be a little more quiet, but they're not all like this!).  Friday night we stayed home and grilled out.  Jay loves to grill, and it works out well for me when I can just take care of sides.  After dinner, the whole family took a walk and then went to Bruster's for ice cream.  For those of you who don't know, if you take your dogs to Bruster's, they get a free scoop of ice cream with a doggie treat stuck in the top.  Our dogs love it!  Molly (the big one) eats hers in one bite and McKinley just takes one lick at a time.
Saturday, my friend Heather and I drove in to Greenville for some shopping (which was actually mostly just looking around), while Jay kept Jonah at home.  I had two goals: a new convertible car seat for Jonah, and a baby food maker.  Jonah has already outgrown the height limits on his infant seat, and I've been weighing the pros and cons of making my own baby food for a while now.  We went to BuyBuyBaby and man, I conquered that store!  With price matching and coupons (they take Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupons), I saved over $80!  I was so proud.  Here's Jonah is his new recliner car seat:
 I ended up buying the Graco MyRide 65 convertible car seat, and I'm really pleased with it.  It seems really comfortable for Jonah and easy to use.  The Baby Bullet was my baby food maker of choice and it's great!  I bought it partly because of all the jars and freezer storage that came with it, but I had already heard rave reviews.  Yesterday I spent about an hour steaming and pureeing, and I've probably got about 2-3 weeks of food in the freezer (bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas so far).

Saturday night we went our friends Kyle and Tiffany to a neighboring town where they had heard some live music was being played in the town square.  We got there, and the live music was actually in the welcome center, quietly being played with an even quieter audience.  Not exactly what we were hoping for with two loud babies!  We were picturing sitting outside and talking freely and letting the babies play.  Since we were already there, we went ahead and set up our blankets in the square anyway and sat and talked.  Their daughter Lily is six weeks older than Jonah, and they are just too funny together.  Lily is has always been so active (she is crawling now) and full of energy, and Jonah is her chilled-out counterpart.  In this picture, Lily has decided to tackle her boyfriend (ha ha- you can see Jonah didn't mind):
We topped off the weekend with church in the morning (a wonderful worship time and a powerful message on persistent prayer) and I got to spend some girl time with some more friends last night- I felt so spoiled to be baby-free for a little while two days in a row!  Hope your weekend was wonderful as well... anyone else watching "The Bachelorette" finale tonight??? 

 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Reading, Part 2

Back for a few more book recommendations!

Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen- All of this author's books could best be described as "whimsical."  They are light but still different enough to be intriguing and keep my interest.  I have since read her other books (The Girl Who Chased the Moon and The Sugar Queen) and enjoyed those too, but this one is definitely the best!  It looks like she has a new one out called The Peach Keeper.  I will be checking this one out soon!

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova- By far, this is one of the most compelling books I have ever read.  It is the story of a Alice, a fifty-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease.  Honestly, I never would have read this if my mom hadn't recommended it.  I was sucked in from the beginning.  The story is told directly from Alice's point of view, and the nuances into her mind gave me such a different perspective into a disease I had never really thought much about.  A must-read for sure!





Morning Glory, by LaVyrle Spencer- Secret confession time: growing up in the Hampton house, LaVyrle Spence was a household name.  As in, we were on a first-name basis.  As in, "Hey, what did you do with my LaVyrle?"  Or, "I left my LaVyrle upstairs. Could you run up and get it?" Or, "Oh no!  This is LaVyrle's last book... what are we going to read now???"  Yes, it is sad.  And yes, if you had to classify her books into a genre, they could only be put into the romance category.  (And the "classics" category- ha ha!)  But seriously, several of her books are some of the sweetest stories I have ever read, and not like those books with half-naked people on the cover or anything.  My mom and I have read Morning Glory probably ten and four times, respectively (or not respectively, for those of you who think that's pathetic).  It gets me every time.  Other "classics" by LaVyrle: Vows (my second fave), Then Came Heaven (I'm going to have to read this again just thinking about it!), and Years (oh my goodness, I want to cry just remembering it).
I have actually never seen it with this cover... it must be a re-release since the cover I remember looks much more like this: 

Ha ha!  Classic 80's!

Give them a read and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Homecoming

I am sorry for my very extended absence!  Jonah and I have been back in town for a few days now, but we're still getting back in the swing of things (a.k.a. I've been doing laundry for three days).  I am so thankful for our little family to be together again, but we had such a wonderful time in Kentucky!  For those of you who are stay-at-home moms, you know that being "by yourself" (I know the baby is with you, but come on, you're not getting a lot of stimulating conversation there) can wear on you after a while.  The best part of being at home was having company all the time.  My mom was with me almost every minute of the day, and besides being my best friend and one of the funniest people I know, she is a super-woman with the baby.  She fed him, changed him, and sang to him for hours.  Every afternoon she would tell me to go spend some time at the pool while she would stay back with Jonah while he napped (I only took her up on it a few times... haha!).  

My dad really spoiled us, too!  He is an amazing cook, and catered (see what I did there??) to any dinner request I had.  He took Jonah on walks and let us take the golf cart for rides every day, which was Jonah's favorite thing.  I am so thankful for having such a supportive family.  My younger brother Tripp was home for the month of June in between acting jobs, so we got to spend two weeks together for the first time in years.  Jonah had so much fun with Uncle Tripp!




 
I have more to tell about our travels coming soon.  I promise I'll update more frequently now that we're home! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Firsts on July 1st

Jonah turned six months old this week!  I cannot believe how fast it has gone by.  Today especially, I realized how big he is getting... he sat up by himself today and drank from a sippy cup for the first time!  We propped him up and he put his little arms out and used them to balance.  He just grinned and looked around like, "Look what I can do, Mom!"  And then I started crying.  Ha ha!  I should back up a little bit and explain that Jonah and I are visiting my family in Kentucky for a few weeks and we are having a great time, but I was so upset that Jay missed this milestone!  We will see Jay in about a week and a half and by then, Jonah will have perfected his new trick for his daddy.  We miss him soooo much!

Jonah is so much fun right now!  He has his daddy's laid-back personality still, and he is a very content baby.  In the past two weeks, he's started putting anything and everything in his mouth.  I'd been expecting him to start doing this for a couple of months now, but I think he is starting to teethe now and needs that comfort for his gums.  Jonah LOVES people.  He is content to stare at our faces for long periods of time, and he often reaches out to touch and inspect for himself.  It is precious!  He's also just discovered his toes.  He doesn't put them in his mouth, he just kind of holds on to them a lot in the stroller and carseat.  Also, he almost always crosses his feet at the ankles, which just cracks me up. 

He is definitely getting spoiled here in Kentucky!  He is being passed around all the time and we are running around visiting friends and family every day.  He's been a real trooper!  One of his favorite activities since we've been here is taking an evening golf cart ride.  He holds out his arms and squeals and laughs the whole time.  He's started grabbing the steering wheel now too! 

We've really been trying to stick to our schedule as much as possible, but it isn't always easy.  The biggest difficulty we've run in to is that Jonah has started waking up a few times during the night.  Most of the time I just go in after a while and comfort him, and I'll usually feed him once.  But this Mommy is getting EXHAUSTED!  It's been going on too long to be a growth spurt, and I've tried dropping his third nap but he gets so cranky and it doesn't seem to make a difference.  Any tips, Moms??

Jonah has officially been on a four-hour schedule for about a month now! I noticed he didn't seem to want/need to eat every three hours anymore, so I just tried to delay his feedings one day, and he had no problem! It's amazing how much difference just that one hour makes. A typical day: wake up at 8:30, nurse, eat cereal, play, nap around 9:45, wake up around 12:00, nurse at 12:30, play/run errands, nap at 2:00 or so, wake up around 4:15, nurse at 4:30, eat cereal, short nap from 6:30-7:00, hang out with the family/bath, nurse at 8:15, bed at 8:30 (and then wake up for no reason about 55 times during the night- ha ha!). My most precious times of day are getting Jonah up in the morning or getting him up from a nap. He is always just overjoyed to see me (or whoever else gets him)- it is the BEST feeling in the world! Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace through these blessings!

Showing us how he can sit up!


My big boy drinking from a cup!

Had to sneak this one in there- my good-lookin' husband!

Enjoying the golf cart

Good times with family and friends

Crossing those ankles!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

cloth.

From the beginning, Jay and I have been using cloth diapers on Jonah.  This was not something I would have even considered a year ago.  Like most people, when I thought about cloth diapers, I thought about the diaper cloths my grandmother used.  I pictured someone scrubbing nasty stains and fumbling with safety pins.  Then I read a post about cloth diapering that made me stop and do my research.  Sherry and John are two of my favorite bloggers over at www.younghouselove.com.  They use cloth diapers.  They were not born in a previous century.  They seem practical.  They are not hippie-dippie.  They seem normal.  They wrote a very in-depth entry giving their readers a real look into cloth diapering (read that here).  After I read it, I thought, "Could I really do this???"

Jay came home and I made him read the article and the other research I had found.  He was on board right away, simply because of all the money we would end up saving.  We are not really environmentally conscious kind of people.  But we are VERY thrifty and my husband will do practically anything to save a dime.  

I read reviews of BumGenius diapers, FuzziBunz, G-Diapers, and many others.  We ended up going with the FuzziBunz One Size Pocket Diaper (website here) simply because we had a gift card to Amazon and that is the brand Amazon sells.  We are so thankful we took the plunge and made the investment!  The cost upfront is about $200 for 12 diapers (I know that seems outrageous).  But when you compare that the fact that most families spend about $70 per month on diapers, which ends up being at least $1680 in the course of the baby's diapering days, I figure we're making our money back and then some!  We still use disposable diapers when we are traveling or taking the baby to the church nursery.  But now when I use them I feel like I am just throwing money in the trash can along with the diaper!

As for the logistics of our cloth diapers, let's just say they have come a long way since the folding and safety-pinning days.  Ours have adjustable elastics on the inside waistband, the front of the leg opening and the back of the leg opening.  There are also snaps going all the way across the front.  This allows us to adjust the diapers as Jonah gets older, so they will fit him all the way through potty-training.  They have a padded cloth insert that goes into a pocket in the diaper to absorb everything.  We were able to get them in fun, bright colors that are great for Jonah, but will also work if we have a baby girl one day.

My biggest fear was how clean the diapers would be.  After 5 months, our diapers still look brand new!  I would not be embarrassed to show them to anyone.  When I change Jonah, I take off the diaper, pull out the insert, and put both parts in a plastic bin that has a trash bag inside.  After all the diapers are dirty, I take the trash bag and dump everything in the washer.  I run a pre-wash cycle on hot without detergent, which only takes about 4 minutes.  Then I put in a "free and clear" detergent and run a normal cycle on hot.  After that, everything gets put into the dryer on low or delicate (they dry VERY quickly) and then we're good to go!  

We have loved the FuzziBunz diapers.  They are adorable and completely worth it.  I know some people think we are nuts, but we're ok with that!  We will definitely continue using these with Jonah and then again with our next babies! 


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

3:23

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading my Bible and a verse that I've read about a hundred times suddenly stuck out to me. (Isn't it amazing that the Word is LIVING and is fresh every time???) 

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men."

After reading this, I sat wondering, "Am I really doing my work 'heartily'??"  I think this verse can apply in so many areas of my life.  The most obvious is that I am a stay-at-home mom.  It's easy to get slack when it's just Jonah and me at home by ourselves every day.  I take pride in our house, but there are certain jobs I HATE doing (folding laundry and sweeping floors are the death of me).  Housework becomes monotonous VERY quickly.  And it doesn't help that Jay probably wouldn't notice if I just stopped doing housework for a month!

When I am procrastinating or wishing a certain chore would just go away, I remind myself that this is my work.  And if I am devoting my work to the Lord, I want Him to be pleased.  Yes, I want to please Jay, but pleasing God is even more important (and a greater motivator).  This verse also applies in our marriage relationship, in my role as a pastor's wife, and in my responsibility as a parent.  Several times a day I find myself saying, "Am I cleaning this bathroom/dusting/picking up the BEST that I can?"  "Am I showing Jonah the love that God would want me to show him?"  "Did my words glorify God in that conversation with so-and-so?"  "Did I put Jay's wants above my own?"  I am trying to find joy in striving to please God and my husband by taking pride in this new life of mine. There will always be obstacles to overcome and sacrifices I will have to make, but this verse has given me a little jolt of motivation to consider my motives and my heart.  I pray I will challenge myself to "work heartily, as for the Lord."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Best Appetizer Ever!

My dad, who is an amazing cook, introduced this appetizer to us a few years back.  I make it to take to parties all the time... people request it now!  As you can tell from the ingredients, it's not exactly fat free, but trust me- it's worth it!

Swiss Cheesy Bacon Goodness (my own name for it!)

8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
8 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup mayonaise
2 t. dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup smoked almonds, chopped (you can buy them already smoked, in the aisle with other nuts)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine everything except almonds in mixing bowl.  Put in shallow casserole dish.  Bake until golden and bubbly.  Sprinkle chopped almonds on top right before serving.  Serve with fancy crackers or pita chips.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ah, the Joys of Parenting

Since we've started Jonah on rice cereal, his digestive system has changed.  Good news: he doesn't poop as often.  Bad news: HOLYCOWWHATISTHATSMELLDIDTHATREALLYJUSTCOMEOUTOFMYBABY.  Seriously. Before now, this solely breast-fed baby's dirty diapers were actually pleasant.  Nothing to be afraid of.  And honestly, they didn't even have a bad smell.  Nothing the cloth diapers couldn't handle.  All that changed about a week after the cereal.

Jonah does his major diaper dirtying almost always during the day, so Jay rarely has to change one because he's at work.  I've tried to tell him how horrible they are now, but there are just no words to describe it!  This evening I went out to run an errand and left Jay with Jonah.  The minute I walked through the door, Jay came barreling around the corner and our conversation went something like this:

Jay: Why haven't you answered your phone??!!!  We've had a real emergency!  I'm not kidding. I didn't know what to do.

Taylor: What??  I didn't hear it ring.  What's going on? 

Jay: I think something's wrong with Jonah.  Something has to be wrong.  He had a MAJOR poop and I promise, you've never seen anything like it.  Seriously.  It was so gross that I didn't know what to do with it.  Believe me, you've never seen one like this.

Taylor: Babe, I know how nasty they are!  I'm here changing them all the time! What do you mean, you didn't know what to do with it??

Jay: I saved it for you to see.  It's sitting on the changing table. I couldn't deal with it.

Taylor: Seriously??? Uh-uh, no way.  That one's yours- you were the one who was here.  It's all yours.

From there, Jay made me go look at it (while we're both holding our breath) and tried to convince me I should deal with it (rinsing it out because it's not disposable) because I already have EXPERIENCE.  Real sweet, huh?  And yes, he gave in and handled it like a real man. :) Looking forward to many more lovely diapers to come!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

 
What a great weekend!  Jay's parents came into town from Georgia, so we spent Friday and Saturday with them.  We had a nice dinner out Friday, Jay and Jim went to a shooting range Saturday while the girls went shopping, and we grilled out Saturday night.  They love spending time with their first grandchild!  Jonah is so blessed to have wonderful grandparents.

Monday was spent with our good friends Heather and Eric at the pool.  Jonah was grouchy because he missed a nap, so he didn't take to the water as well as he did the other day!  We'll try again later this week sometime.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Lovin'

It's officially summer here in South Carolina and I am rejoicing!  I love the sun, the water, flip-flops (although barefoot is even better), the longer days, the more casual feel, the lighter clothes, and grilling out.  Sometimes I think I suffer from that Seasonal Affective Disorder... I can just feel myself getting happier the closer it gets to June.  I love the heat.   Really.  Not in a clothes-sticking-to-you kind of way, but in a this-weather-just-begs-for-a-pool kind of way.  And this summer is going to be special, because I am officially spending three weeks in my old Kentucky home!  Jay and I will be going up in mid-June for my cousin's wedding, and then he will come home and Jonah and I will stay through July 9th (when we will go to the beach- WOO HOO!!!).  I am so excited for this extended visit with my parents, and my younger brother will be home for his first summer in a long time as well (he is an actor and lives a crazy life, see www.tripparoundamerica.blogspot.com or www.tripparoundtheworld.blogspot.com for more).  Jonah will be meeting his extended family for the first time and I can't wait for them to spend time with him.  It will definitely be an adventure being away from home with the baby and having to readjust our schedule.  I will have to learn to be more flexible, but I will have lots of help!

I took Jonah to the pool for his first swim today.  It's hard juggling a baby and all their gear at the pool by yourself!  I bought him a float with a canopy over the top that worked out great (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Swimways-Baby-s-Spring-Float-with-Canopy/13264726- it says they don't have it in the store, but they had it at mine).  I was a little let down because he had ZERO reaction to the water.  Not smiling, not crying, just looking like he was totally bored with the whole thing!  He likes his bath, but I thought the cold water might not be as big of a hit.  I wanted to get him used to the pool because we'll be spending a lot of time there this summer, and I guess I don't need to worry about it anymore!  Here's Jonah as we were getting out of the water (he hates the sun being in his eyes):
All in all, it was a success!  Looking forward to many more summer days ahead...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jonah- 5 Months of Pure Love


Jonah will be 5 months old this week!  I really can't believe it's gone by so fast!  For a while at the beginning it felt like the days would drag out and I couldn't imagine him being this old.  I am loving each day... it is so fun watching him develop his little personality.  As a mom, I'm always curious about other moms' schedules with their babies, so I thought I would share ours (+/- about 30 minutes):

8:00 Wake up and nurse
8:20 Eat rice cereal
8:30 Time in the swing/play with Mommy
9:00 Nap
11:30 Wake up and nurse
11:50 Play time (run errands, spend time in Exersaucer/activity mat, read with Mom)
12:40 Nap
2:30 Wake up and nurse
2:50 Play time (Most days, Jonah goes with me to the tutoring center and gets loved on by everyone)
4:45 Nap
5:30 Wake up and nurse
5:50 Eat rice cereal
6:00 Play time (visit with Daddy, watch Mommy make dinner, take a walk, get a bath)
8:15 Nurse
8:30 Bed time (then he usually wakes up around 5:00 a.m. to eat again, then right back to sleep)

We are on a flexible 3 hour schedule.  The eat, play, sleep rotation is constant, but it stretches out in the morning and is a little shorter in the evenings.

Some facts on Jonah at 5 months:
-He is almost 16 pounds and over 27 inches long.
-We just started rice cereal last week and he LOVES it.  We haven't had any trouble getting him to eat from the spoon.  He actually dives for it most of the time!
-He is s-l-o-w-l-y growing more hair.  We're hoping he won't be bald forever.
-When I sing to him for long stretches at a time, he starts to "oooh" along with me.  He LOVES music.
-He is starting to reach out and touch/hit the pages when I read to him.
-He RARELY drools or spits up.
-He still loves his bath time.  We often use it as a solution when he is fussy.
-Standing is his favorite thing to do.  Standing and DANCING is even better!
-Jay gets bigger smiles out of him than anyone else can.
-He loves having his diaper changed.  Maybe he just likes to "air out" that area (such a boy)! 
-He is wonderful in public (his mommy doesn't give him much choice).
-He likes his paci (only the MAM 6-month kind) but it's not a necessity.
-He is concentrates very hard on most tasks (reaching for something, wanting to talk, getting acquainted with a new toy, etc.) and has such a serious expression about it!
-He loves new people!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Reading, Part 1

Ever since I was knee-high, I have LOVED to read. One of the best gifts I ever received growing up was a membership to a book club that sent me new children's books each month. When I was about nine, my best friend became the proud owner of the entire series of Babysitter's Club books. I cannot remember ever being more envious! Bookstores were heaven on earth for me. Every six months or so, my mom took my brother and me on "Kids' Shopping Day," which meant The Nature Store for him and Hawley-Cooke bookstore for me. Choosing just one or two to take home was pure torture! Today, I still read about one book each week. Yes, even with the baby (I squeeze it in when he goes to bed for the night). I mostly stick to fiction, and since I am always looking for new reads, I will recommend some of mine.

"Love Walked In" and "You Belong to Me," by Marisa de los Santos
I think I just stumbled upon these books because of their pretty covers, but they are two of my absolute favorites. I am mad the author hasn't written more yet! Her writing, particularly her word-usage, is absolutely beautiful. I fell in love with her characters. And this is one time where the sequel is just as good as the original! I've also just read that "Love Walked In" is being made into a movie... don't know how it could be as good though!







"The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns," by Khaled Hosseini
These books have been around a while, but if you didn't read them when they were first popular, find them now! I'm always drawn to stories about other cultures, and these books about life in the Middle East are captivating and heart-wrenching at the same time. They are not light reading by any means, but they are absolutely fascinating.








"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Again, this book written beautifully. The entire book is a series of letters written back and forth between a woman and the people who live on the island of Guernsey, off the coast of England. All the characters become so vivid since each section is written in first person.







"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" series, by Ann Brashares
Yes, these books were written for teenagers and the movies are not classics by any means, but the entire series are so much fun! Don't make fun of me until you try them. :) My mom and I both devoured all four books. They are GREAT summer reads, and very easy to get into.







 
More must-reads coming soon (including some non-fiction)! I would LOVE to hear some of your recommendations, so leave a comment!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Snugglebug


There is nothing sweeter than holding a sleeping baby. Lately, I have begun cherishing every time my baby boy dozes off in my arms while we rock. My favorite time is when he finishes nursing and presses his little face into my neck and I feel his breathing, warm and low. His features are always beautiful to me, but they just become softer in his sleep. I'm beginning to realize that pretty soon, these times will be few and far between. He is still so snuggly, but it's already not the same as it was when he was just a newborn. I want to soak up every moment he will let me hold him, knowing that someday it will break my heart when he decides he is "too big." Thank You, Lord, for the sweetest blessing I could ever hope for, and please make time slow down!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps


I would rather have Asian, Mexican, or Italian over boring, old American food any day of the week. Asian is probably my favorite (this does not include Chinese buffets, much to my husband's dismay). I could eat it every day. So when I found this recipe for Asian Lettuce Wraps, I was hoping they would at least be similar to P.F. Changs. They didn't disappoint! Jay and I love these so much, we fight for the leftovers the next day. This is an easy, fast, low-carb, one-dish meal. If you don't have some of these Asian ingredients, you can find them on the international food aisle and you can use them again and again for other Asian recipes! Enjoy!

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Bibb/Butter lettuce (Iceberg will work in a pinch)
1 lb. ground meat (chicken or turkey is best- and cheapest!)
2 t. dark sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. soy sauce
2 t. minced pickled ginger
1 T. rice wine vinegar
1 8-oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 t. chile pepper sauce (careful, it's hot!)

Brown meat in medium skillet. Drain and set aside. Cook onion in the same pan until soft. Add all other ingredients except green onions, stirring to combine. Simmer 10-15 minutes, add green onions last. Serve in a large bowl alongside the Bibb lettuce, spooning the mixture into the lettuce cups as you eat. YUM!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tips from a Mom Still Figuring Things Out

Jonah is about 5 months old now, and I feel like I have learned more in such a short time than ever before. When he was first born, my mom was a God-send helping me figure things out with a new baby at home, and I was absolutely terrified for her to leave. I just kept thinking, "It's crazy that anyone would trust us with a baby by ourselves!" Somehow we've made it through and, for the most part, pretty successfully if I do say so myself. Here are some tips and tricks for any other new moms out there:

1. LEARN THE 5 S's. Drum roll, please. Swaddle, side-hold, shush, shake (gently), and suck. I don't know that we would have survived without this! When Jonah was about 3 weeks old until about 8 weeks, he would cry several hours each day. I was upset, he was upset, and I thought I might rip my hair out trying to soothe him! One day, I stumbled on this video, showing Dr. Karp (a.k.a. One of the Greatest Men to Ever Have Been Born) putting his "5 S" philosophy into action (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6KnVPUdEgQ). Once we saw this, we never turned back. Combined, these five steps work like a magical baby drug that puts your screaming child in a Zen-like trance. And I have NEVER been more attracted to my husband than when he could calm Jonah down in 8 seconds flat. Seriously. You can thank me later.
Jay after employing the 5 S's and Jonah in "the trance."

2. DON'T RESIST THE PACIFIER. I was determined not to give Jonah a paci because I didn't want to be sticking it in his mouth a thousand times a day. But as Jay pointed out the first time we got Jonah to take one, there is a reason they call it a "pacifier." I will say that we don't allow Jonah to have it during naps or at night in the crib. And as it was pointed out to me, when they're two years old, it's easier to take away a pacifier than it is to take away a thumb!

3. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Everyone thought I was crazy when I took Jonah to Wal-mart when he was about a week old. I think I have a psychological problem that causes me to go nuts when I stay in the house too long. Before Jonah was born, I told my friends that they would not be seeing less of me, because I made a resolution to leave the house at least once every day. They doubted me, but I was determined. Whether it's going to the bank/post office/grocery, visiting Jay at work, having lunch with friends, or strolling around the world's smallest mall in Greenwood, Jonah and I are on the go! I really believe this helps me keep my sanity.
Our first trip to Walmart. Yes, my mother decided to have a Kodak moment in the parking lot.


4. LET OTHER PEOPLE HOLD YOUR BABY. Because Jay and I are in ministry and we are a part of a super-friendly, loving church, we knew Jonah would be popular. And boy, is he ever. He is passed around like a hot potato on Sunday morning. I teach at a tutoring center here in town for an hour or two every afternoon and Jonah comes with me (which is such a blessing!). He loves being held by the other teachers there and I love how much they dote on him! I hope that this will help him be comfortable around other adults in the long run, and not clinging to me and screaming anytime someone else wants to hold him or we need to leave him with a babysitter. Jay and I were both raised to be pretty independent, and I hope we can instill this in our kids as well!

5. REALIZE THAT YOUR JOB IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE YOU COULD ASK FOR. Going from working a full-time job to staying at home can be an extremely difficult transition. There is no recognition, and you spend most of your day talking to someone who doesn't talk back. It is so easy for me to feel like I'm failing. But really, I have never been more blessed. My job is to show love, patience, and kindness to my son. My job is to teach him to love Jesus and to know that Jesus loves him. My job is to make our home a warm, inviting place for my husband. There is no other job that will ever be more important than this. I pray daily that I will remember that it is an honor to wash these dishes, do one more load of laundry, and get down on the floor to play with my sweet boy.

(Re)Introductions

My name is Taylor. My husband is Jay. Our baby boy (one of the cutest ever) is Jonah. This will be a peek into our lives of loving each other, doing ministry together, and figuring our this whole parenting thing.

The main cast of characters:
Yes, this blog was in full swing a couple of years ago. Life has changed a lot since then!

P.S. It would really make me less nervous (and terrified) if a few of you would "follow" this blog. Otherwise, it might just be read by my mom. I promise I'll try to make it worth your while!