Friday, October 30, 2009

Dear New Mommy- You're Starting to Show

If you haven't read it yet, you may want to start with this post:

Dear New Mommy,

You're still pregnant and that's fantastic news! More people probably know now too and, as you move through this second trimester, more and more people will notice (or not...) Here's what I want you to know about how you carry and when you start to show--

You can't win. Show early and people suspect you're due two full months before your due date. "Why you won't even be able to walk come December!" they'll exclaim, as though this is helpful news. (And, fyi, you'll be able to walk. Maybe not touch your toes, but, walk? Yep.) Show late and people, at best, accuse you of dieting. Some fine souls might even inquire if you've lost the baby. (Ask me how I know...) You will not please the masses. The good news? Who cares? Sport your bump, as prominent or near non-existent as it may be, with pride.

Speaking of that bump, know this- people will want to touch it. Decide early on how you feel about that. Your hubby? I'm thinking it's really only right that he have bump privileges. Your mom? C'mon- let her give her grandbaby a quick pat-pat. But anyone else? Even your mother-in-law? Your call totally. Some ladies don't mind it if everyone and his brother touches their belly. Others have a "hands-off" approach. Somewhere in between is fine too (and that's where I fall). Just remember-- it is still YOUR belly, even with a baby in there.

And while we're still on the subject of your darling bump, you should probably be aware that people are going to start predicting the gender of your baby based on how you carry. This can be kind of fun and it's harmless entertainment. Just know that it's all nonsense. Seriously. I don't care if you carry high, low, round, out front, all around... whether your hips or breasts get bigger or not... whether the hair on your legs grows faster or slower... you can't tell if it's a boy or girl by any of those things. Every woman- and every baby!- is unique. Take it all with a grain of salt.

If you really DO want to find out the gender of your precious bundle, this is the trimester to do it. Me? I don't go in for those things. But plenty of people-- in fact, most-- do. And that's fine. A word of advice? If you DO find out and you want to tell everyone in your universe, that's just hunky dory. But think twice before telling everybody everything. Not to rain on your parade or anything, but when we all already know that you're having a girl and you're going to call her Amelia Marie, it kind of takes away from the excitement when little Amelia arrives. Especially when we've been hearing you call her by said name for four months or so. What's left? Length and weight? Interesting, but nowhere near the same league as name and gender. A little mystery can be good.

You're probably feeling a bit better now. Morning sickness has likely lessened and your energy levels will be back up to near-normal levels. Now's a good time to get some exercise in. Walk, stretch, MOVE your body. It's good for you. And for your baby. And- keep this is mind- the word "labor" means work. There's a reason they say you "go into labor" when you have a baby. It pays to be in decent shape.

Don't listen to stories like mine. I promise not to tell it to you right now but, for heaven's sake, don't go looking for stories of women who have their babies during the second trimester. It's rare, blessedly, and no cause for concern. Just enjoy these months.

Speaking of months, allow me, for a moment, to explain something to you. Four weeks does NOT equal one month. If that equation really worked, a 40 week pregnancy would, in fact, take ten months. Thankfully, it does not. But this means that when you're 12 weeks pregnant, you are not yet three months along. The discrepancy grows as you get further along. Thirty-two weeks? Definitely not eight months! Just keep that in mind... or you're going to wind up "nine months pregnant" for a very long time...

Enjoy those fetal movements! What?? You're 20 weeks along and you've yet to feel anything? Relax. No worries. Your still-toned tummy muscles keep you from feeling them as early as us been-there, done-that mommies. Plus, you don't really know what you're looking for. Your friend felt her first baby move at 14 weeks? Possible. Not likely. Either way, no concern of yours. You will feel your baby move. When you do? Be sure to tell your husband. He won't be able to feel those movements for at least a couple more weeks, but it's exciting for him too.

Did you get an ultrasound picture? Great! Share it! Know this- we all think your in utero baby is just beautiful, we do. But none of us think he or she is as beautiful as you do. It's the wonder of being the mommy. Enjoy it. (Side-note-- some people, like your dear friend here, are a bit freaked out by those 3-D or 4-D or whatever they are ultrasounds. Your baby's gorgeous. I just don't like the "It's coming right at me!"feeling that those shots give me. Sorry.)

Your doctor's probably going to recommend a whole bunch of genetic marker tests this trimester. Just know this- you don't HAVE to do them. That's all I'm going to say.

People are excited for you! Some people are jealous of you. Try to be sensitive to that. If you conceived the "first time you even thought about trying!", maybe think twice before you tell your whole office that... odds are good there's at least one woman there who's struggling to get pregnant. You don't mean to, but you're going to hurt her.

Hang in there and, for heaven's sake, don't start complaining about being "big and pregnant and uncomfortable now"... you, and those around you, will grow weary of it as the months go on...

Congrats, New Mommy, you're getting there...

God Bless,
Your Been-There-Done-That Buddy,
I'll be back soon with more been-there-done-that advice for new mommies!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Her Pink Cloud

Truth? This is more of a "Thing SHE Loves Thursday" post than Thing I Love... but, you know, what makes her happy makes me happy and all that jazz.

When G. received this blanket as a present from her Grandma back in June (when it was close to 90 degrees), I thought, "Seriously?" (I know, I know-- totally ungracious of me. My excuse is that I was recovering from surgery and cranky.)

But when we saw SNOW in mid-October a couple weeks ago, I found myself reaching for it. It's rarely left her side since.

She loves this blankie. And why wouldn't she? It's cloud-soft and fluffy on one side and slippery satin smooth on the other. And it's oh-so-pretty pink.

She likes to drool on it...

... and smile in it...

... and show off big eyes and a little double chin on it...

... and grab it ("Don't you DARE take this blankie, Mama!")...

... and snuggle in it while her un-prepared Mommy finds a fleecy outfit...

... "Peekaboo!"...

... and, of course, take a little nap in it...

Sleep well in your pink cloud, sweet angel baby.
This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday hosted at The Diaper Diaries.
Also linked up to Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is It Worth It For A "Restfull" Night?

(All images in this post directly from Enfamil's website.)

Isn't that sleeping baby precious? Doesn't your heart just sigh with peace as you gaze at that picture? What are you willing to do to get your baby to sleep so soundly?

My Twitter friends got an earful from me yesterday. I have a feeling Enfamil will regret ever sending me a coupon for their new Enfamil Lipil Restfull formula...

My four month old is exclusively breastfed, just so you know. That does not mean I don't usually appreciate the coupons. I have a good friend who is currently using formula (Enfamil, to be exact) and I'm happy to pass on the savings so she can continue to buy her preferred formula brand. My first child was exclusively formula-fed (Enfamil again) and my second had a tablespoon of specialty formula (sorry, Enfamil, our NICU used Similac) added to expressed breast milk to up the calories. I am NOT anti-formula. I really want to make that clear. While I am thrilled to be nursing my daughter and it is going beautifully smoothly for us, I believe there are many good reasons to turn to formula too. So this is not, in any way, a "bottle feeding slam" post.

What this is is a criticism of this new "Restfull" formulation.

Here are the high points, according to Enfamil's website:

"Specially designed to help babies feel full longer and sleep better."

-Allow me to just pause and point out that this states "help babies FEEL full longer..." not "help babies BE full longer". This formula is not really filling your baby up- just taking longer to digest so she doesn't bother you with her pesky cries for more nutrition...

"Give your baby a RestFull Night.

Your baby needs a proper amount of sleep to keep her healthy and happy. That's why we created new Enfamil RestFull, the formula specially designed to naturally encourage a good night's sleep."

-Babies DO need sleep, no doubt. So do you. But "tricking" a baby's tummy into feeling full isn't the answer, in my opinion.

The website goes on...

  • A natural way to help keep your baby feeling satisfied. (Natural = Rice Starch, just so you know)
  • Thickens gently in baby's tummy and digests slowly. (Translation- this formula is harder for your baby to digest.)

To be fair, the website then lists six tips for a Restfull night, all of which are valid and helpful (well, except perhaps the inevitable formula plug, but you have to expect that). They include:

  • Try to be consistent with your baby's sleep routine.
  • Relax your baby with a warm bath.
  • Dim the lights, and create a calm bedtime environment.
  • Enjoy the special bonding time of feeding your baby Enfamil Restfull.
  • Soothe your baby with a lullaby or a bedtime story.
  • Kiss your baby goodnight.
Those are good suggestions.

But this formula? I don't trust it. I think the idea of creating something to "thicken" in a baby's belly just so she'll sleep longer is simply wrong. It's basically just like the previous generations who put rice cereal in the bottle. Did the babies sleep? Yep. But study after study has since shown that it's not what's best for our babies. So why is a formula company, who presumably has many researchers on staff, marketing it to us?


Because it will sell. Read the comments on the website and you'll see that dozens of parents-even those of newborns- have bought it and tried it. Because they're tired. They're sleep-deprived. They're desperate. And Enfamil, knowing this, lures them in with the promise of more rest. Under the guise that it's also good for their baby. Shameful, if you ask me.

I don't like the idea, period, but I don't have as much issue with marketing it to parents of babies, say 6 months or older. Or even 4 months and older. Babies who are large enough to handle longer stretches of sleep and who may even be eating rice cereal (so the rice starch won't be so new on that little tummy).

I could not find an age guideline anywhere on the website or on the brochure that came with my coupon. The closest you'll see is this disclaimer:

"Ask your baby's doctor if Enfamil Restfull is right for your baby."

That's not enough, in my opinion.

I am cringing at the thought that people are giving this stuff to their 2-week old babies. The way it's labeled, it looks like, if your doctor recommended Enfamil Lipil, then this is the formula you should use at bedtime. I have a feeling very few people are really asking their pediatricians.

I think this is a big fail, Enfamil, and I'm not afraid to tell the world how I feel. You can trust that this coupon will NOT be getting passed on. If you don't want to pull the product (and why would you? I'm sure it sells.), then I urge you to at least use responsible marketing and provide appropriate age recommendations for the consumer.

But what do you all think? I'd love to know! Would you buy this product? Recommend it to a friend? Let me have it!

This post included in Real Life's Your Life Your Blog.

Bottled Water?

(Um, yeah, tip your head to the left if you don't mind... "rotate didn't want to work today!)

I've extolled the virtues of tap water in the past.

But you know what? Cold, bottled water just tastes so... good.

Enter the empty milk jug, now serving the new role of water jug.

Cold, easy to pour water. Oh yeah! And is good too.

It's simple, but it works for me!
This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.
Linked up to Frugal Friday, hosted at Life as MOM.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Strawberry Wheat Muffins

I love these muffins for a quick snack! I had some "deal" strawberries on their way out and this was a perfect use for them:


  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (or so... I just chop a generous handful and aim for between 1 and 1 1/3 cups) chopped strawberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oil an 8 cup muffin tin, or use paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Beat lightly. In a large bowl, mix flours, salt, baking powder and sugars. Toss in chopped strawberries and stir to coat with flour. Pour in milk mixture and stir together. Don't overmix.
  3. Fill muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 minutes (10 minutes if using mini muffin tins), or until the tops bounce back from the touch. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans.
This post is linked to Cupcake Tuesday over at Hoosier Homemade and Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as MOM!

Monday, October 26, 2009

"My Story... " Monday: Carrying A Miracle

Surprisingly, the past six weeks of "My Story..."'s all took place before I even had my very first OB appointment. In some ways, those weeks were all a blur. So very many tragic things happened in that short period of time that my brain kind of condenses it into one sad block that I can put away for a span of time. On the other hand, I can easily pull that block out, unfold it, and relive every day in excruciating detail. It's amazing how God gives us these defense mechanisms.

Anyhow, once I started going to my regular (new-to-me) OB, the appointments were pretty typical. She said what one might expect, "So you're going for the girl this time?" And I smiled weakly and replied, "No, just a healthy baby," just like I did every other time someone said that.

My pregnancy progressed pretty normally.

I didn't have an unusual limitations or concerns. I was viciously sick afternoon and night, but I had been sick with my first child too. I didn't have any more bleeding or cramping issues and, to be honest, I was able to kind of "put it behind me".

Probably the only "concern" that came up at my doctor's appointments was the fact that I wasn't gaining weight. If you hung out with me during my third pregnancy this past year, you know that's pretty typical for me. A large part of that's just "how I'm made". With this particular pregnancy, another part of it was the fact that, if I'm brutally honest, I wasn't eating enough. And I wasn't eating enough nutrient-rich foods.

We were struggling. My husband finally found a job in Indiana, but his commute was two hours each way. On top of that, the pay was significantly less than he had made at his previous job and FAR less than we had made when we had two incomes flowing in. This new position didn't offer insurance so we were still paying our gigantic monthly fees to keep our Cobra plan.

In retrospect, this is a point in my life when I should have looked for help. There are programs out there (like Medicaid and WIC) that would have been appropriate for me to utilize for a short period of time. I had never really even heard of these things because, blessedly, we had never had a need.

But, for whatever reason, when I went in for a check-up at 20 weeks pregnant, I had gained 1/2 lb. My blood pressure was wonderful. The baby was measuring fine. But I was pale, tired, and, truthfully, I looked very thin. I carried differently with that pregnancy and any weight I had put on was all in my chest. I kind of looked like I might tip over at any moment. And I most certainly did not look like I was halfway through a pregnancy...

My new OB- I had switched practitioners within the same office when the first doctor told me I was "stupid" for refusing the genetic marker tests- was a very gently middle-aged man. He advised me to really try to gain some weight- to eat more, more of anything I liked. I had no other health concerns so his first goal was just to get some weight on me. I told him I'd try- that I'd eat more extra sharp cheddar cheese. That was my only "craving" throughout that pregnancy...

It was December. I was due in April. I had plenty of time to pack on some pounds.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dear New Mommy- You're Pregnant,

As I've watched my best friend just go through her first pregnancy and give birth to her first baby, I've fielded a lot of questions. I've also smiled to myself over some of her discoveries. And I enjoyed remembering my OWN first go-around with a new baby. I think it would have been helpful to have had, rather than those "how-to" parenting manuals, a letter (or six) from a trusted been-there, done-it woman. Here's what I would write...

Dear New Mommy,

You just found out you're pregnant- congrats!!! Now stop telling people. Seriously. Cherish this joy between you and your husband for just a bit. Everyone else can wait. They'll have MONTHS to be excited for you, trust me.

If you expect to have morning sickness, you'll have it. The mind is a powerful thing and it will absolutely send your body into spontaneous gagging and bouts of nausea. Try not to anticipate it... it may find you anyhow, but don't encourage it.

Indulge yourself a little bit. It's perfectly valid and right for you to enjoy a special treat now and again- maybe more than usual, even. But don't go overboard. It may seem like your "pregnancy privilege" right now, but carrying "baby weight" when your "baby" is running around is not something to look forward to...

Brace yourself-- everyone has an opinion and they'll take your pregnancy as a great excuse to share. You'll hear inappropriate stories ("Oh, my cousin miscarried SIX TIMES!") and receive unsolicited advice ("Make sure you pre-register for the epidural.") Most people will think they're being helpful... very few of them really will be. Learn to smile and nod. It's a skill you'll need again down the road... more on that later.

Ditto for names-- you and your spouse may FINALLY agree that "Matthew Ryan" is the perfect boy name. Think twice before you share it. Or, at least, think carefully about with whom you share it. Here's the deal- people will tell you what they think. And, honestly, what does it matter if they don't like it? They get to name their own kids. People are far less critical of a name once it's been officially assigned to a precious newborn. It seems far more cruel to say to a mommy holding her precious new daughter, "Ew, really? I don't much care for Olivia Rose..."

Get ready to leave your modesty at the doorstep for awhile. For the next several months, more and more people will be exploring you "down there" and the closer you get to your due date, the less you'll care. It doesn't mean you're not a "lady"... it just means you're a lady with a more important agenda right now- bringing a baby into the world.

Don't over-register. There's only so much stuff you really need. You'll wind up overwhelming yourself in the days before your baby is born as you rush around pre-washing every little article in Dreft (which you don't need to buy, by the way) and making up a crib you may very well not use for 3 months.

Nap. Seriously. This is your first baby? When you're not at work, nap. You won't get to do that with your next pregnancy... you'll probably have a toddler or preschooler to care for. So do it. Enjoy it. Relish in it. Laze away your Saturdays.

Don't start wearing maternity clothes when you're 2 months pregnant. Unless, for some odd reason, you actually need them. You probably don't, this being your first pregnancy and all. You just think they're a novelty right now. You'll get sick of them. And then you won't enjoy wearing them when you actually NEED them. So hold out- there's plenty of time for that.

Speaking of maternity clothes- borrow, borrow, borrow if you can. No reason to shell out more than you have to.

And, finally, under no circumstances should you tolerate "couvade" from your husband. This is where he'll have "sympathy symptoms". Now, I love my hubby. I do. Deeply and truly. But he knew darn well that any "nausea" or "aches" or "heartburn" that he felt could and should be dealt with on his own. They're men. They can handle it. ;)

This should serve you fairly well as you embark on your first trimester. I'll be back with more been-there, done-that advice in a couple months...

God Bless.

Your been-there, done-that Mommy friend,

I'll be back with more installments of my "Dear New Mommy," series!

What would you write in a letter to a woman who just found out she's expecting?

p.s. I sure would love a "Dear New Mommy..." button. But I have no skills. Anyone have the time and ability to help me out a bit with that? It'd make my day, I tell ya!

Chocolate Almond Granola

Chocolate Almond Granola

1/3 c canola
1/3 c honey
1/4 - 1/2 c sugar (1/4 c is more "bittersweet")
1/3 c cocoa
1 T butter
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1/2 c slivered almonds
5-6 c old fashioned oats

Mix first 5 ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat. (*tip- measure your canola before your honey and the honey will pour right out of the measuring cup*) Bring to low boil. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and vanilla. Meanwhile, dump oats and almonds in big ol' oven-safe pan. Pour chocolate mixture over the oats and mix a bit with spoon or spatula. As soon as you can stand to touch it, start mixing with your hands-- you'll get much more even coating this way. Once it appears evenly coated, pop in a 350 degree oven. After ten minutes, reduce heat to 200 and leave it in there for a couple hours, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you could turn the oven off and leave it in overnight. (I just tend not to make things at night.) Enjoy a chocolatey treat that's reasonably healthy and will fill you up!

* Note: I'm downright lousy at photographing food- trust me, it really tastes yummy!

** Big hat tip to Amy for sharing Crystal's Lazy Granola recipe-- that's where I learned the "method", if you will.

This recipe is linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap over at Life as MOM.
This yummy snack is also linked to Finer Things Friday!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lazier, Healthier Apple Muffins

I love to make apple muffins around here. They smell great, taste yummy, and my kids are always excited about them. I love my Apple Strudel Muffins which I posted here and, from the number of hits that post gets, I think other people must like apple muffins too!

Like so many of you, I've been getting good deals on apples lately ($1.19 for 3#) and that's a good excuse to bake up some yumminess. Yesterday I set out to do that but thought to myself, "Now JessieLeigh? How can you make these healthier... You may not feel that white flour is the devil in the way some people do, but what would make these suckers better for you?" Less sugar and (almost) all-wheat flour would be a good start.

I was gung-ho!

But remember what I love about these muffins? The fact that they use SIX apples? I was feeling lazy.

I cut the apple off the core but did not peel it. I tossed the chunks, peel and all, in my food processor and used that in the recipe. Know what? No one noticed. Lazy + extra fiber = an excellent way to go.

So, with further ado, here is the new, improved apple muffin recipe... the Lazy Healthy Apple Muffin.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 small-medium apples, chopped very fine WITH skins left on

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. (Or 24 cup mini muffin tin.)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.
  4. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter (cold butter works best!) until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan.
  5. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool on a cooling rack.
*Bake 10 minutes for mini muffins.
**I opted NOT to eliminate the topping because, well, you gotta live a little, people! But doing so would further health-ify these and would also make them even lazier. ;)
This post is linked to Cupcake Tuesday, hosted at Hoosier Homemade.

"My Story..." Monday: Back to the ER

We somehow made it through that Tuesday- the family meeting at the funeral home and all the rest of the planning. As is so often the case when one loses a close family member, all the details and planning kept us all so busy that those early days were probably some of the easiest ones. I don't in any way mean to down-play the sorrow that everyone experienced. It's just that, when you're running around constantly, you don't have time to dwell and process and to fully realize the depth of the loss. That comes later.

Wednesday dawned bright and early and we had more things to get done. Our morning was to be spent at a cemetery, helping my mother-in-law choose plots both for her husband and also for her. It was late August and very hot. And I was queasy and nervous up top of being incredibly sad and lost. That afternoon, my husband and I had to head back to the hospital to find out just what, if anything, had happened with my hormone levels. I had continued to feel crampy and bleed off and on for the past couple of days and, having blessedly never experienced a miscarriage, I wasn't really sure what that meant in terms of sustaining the pregnancy. We rested all of our hopes on the results of more blood-work...

Getting my blood drawn was a quick process. Waiting for the results- not so much. The nurse and lab-tech told me they'd "call me in a few days".

I burst into tears. I begged them. Told them they didn't understand... I'd already been waiting two days to find out. Someone finally took pity on me and ran the levels.

And then here's what happened- they had the results, but no one could tell me. Do you know what I'm talking about here? Ever had a radiologist or ultrasound tech CLEARLY see something but they can't tell you what it is? You have to wait for the doctor? Same deal. Fortunately, there was a note in my file. The ER obstetrician who had seen me on Monday left a note instructing them to page him at home with the results. They did, and he then called in and talked to me on the phone. Bless that man.

I was still pregnant. My hormone levels went up. Way up. The doctor told me I had no higher risk than any other pregnancy at that point- that I was as likely to deliver a healthy baby as a mother who had not experienced first trimester bleeding.

My husband and I collapsed together in relief. For this, we were so thankful. For the baby we had yet to meet but who was so very wanted.

I was 6 1/2 weeks pregnant. I geared up for another 33 weeks or so...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Kitchen Table That's Too Small

I had to run to the grocery store today. (Now isn't that a thrilling start to a post??) As I stood at the check-out, I recalled a conversation I had had this past Sunday at that exact same store...

The elderly man in front of me commented on my baby girl.

"Now she is one the most gorgeous babies I've ever seen!" he exclaimed. "And I have 24 grandchildren so I've seen my share of babies."

We chatted about babies and families and girls and boys (he has 19 grandsons and only 5 granddaughters). He asked if she was my first and smiled when I told him she was my third.

Then he told me that his daughter was having her sixth baby (his 25th grandchild!) on Friday. That's today.

And so, as I waited in line, I thought of that dear old man who is welcoming his 25th blessed grandchild into the world today. I said a prayer that all goes well. And I smiled as I thought of his kitchen table that he said seats 24... and isn't nearly big enough.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pirates and Bottles and Alligators, Oh my!

No joke-

My daughter's preschool notebook yesterday read:

"Today C. dressed up like a pirate and used a baby bottle to feed a stuffed alligator. You can't make this stuff up!"

Oh, how right you are, Miss Jenn, how right you are.

And how blessed I am to have my little girl in a preschool that lets her play with her friends and be who she is.

Even if that is an alligator-baby-lovin'-pirate.
This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday, hosted at The Diaper Diaries.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Bit of Frost-y Advice...

If you're making something that calls for a rich, creamy, fluffy looking frosting (like a cupcake), use soft (un-melted) butter when you make it.

However, if you're frosting something you later intend to layer or stack, like these...
... make a simple icing of powdered sugar, milk, and a splash of vanilla. It will "set up" just enough that the cookies won't stick or smear.
This post is linked to:

Cupcake Tuesday at Hoosier Homemade.
Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy 4 Months, Sweet Girl!

I've been so blessed to have two beautiful daughters with one giant big brother. Hard to believe it's been 4 months since Baby G. was delivered into the world. Isn't she sweet?

I am lucky to be greeted by that smile ALL. DAY. LONG.

Happy 4 months, precious little girl!
This post is linked to Finer Things Friday because celebrating baby milestones is a finer thing indeed!

Baby G Needs Your Vote!

Cutest Baby Contest for March of Dimes

Click the above button to vote for our little Baby G! She's #19. (You'll need to scroll down to about the 5th or 6th baby pic to vote- the poll is in the left sidebar.) Feel free to browse the other darling babies while you're there.

"My Story..." Monday: The News

I feel like I should take a moment and tell you all a little bit about my relationship with my father-in-law here.

In 2005, when all of this story is taking place, I had known him for 7 1/2 years. We first met when he visited my then boyfriend at our college. From the first, he put me at ease. When I flew out to Indiana later that year on summer break to visit T, his dad told me, "If you ever feel like going someplace, there are cars in the driveway with keys in them. You take any one you want anytime. Be at home." That summer, T. was working as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant and, while he had managed to get some shifts covered, he still had to go to work most days I was there. One afternoon, I found myself making chili with his dad, talking religion and politics like it was the most natural thing in the world. Occasionally T's mom would wander through the kitchen and she'd just shake her head at us. Later, much later, when we were house hunting in Indiana, we stayed with them. I had a 2-month old who stubbornly insisted on waking bright-eyed at 5 a.m. each day and not wanting to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. My father-in-law would get up with me, make coffee, and, after A. was fed and happy, we would sit at their kitchen table chatting over our steamy black coffee. On that same trip, when late afternoon rolled around and the baby would get fussy and the heavy heat would have all of us cranky, my father-in-law and I would take tall glasses of lemonade out on the screened porch and sit on the glider with the infant seat between us. The breeze and the swaying would settle all three of us down. We got along famously, that man and I. He was one of the main reasons I was happy to move to Indiana from Virginia Beach.

Now that you have that background, let me continue...

My husband arrived home and our 6-month old was not actually awake yet. He slept in surprisingly late that morning. We walked into our room and sat on the bed. He looked exhausted. He leaned back on the pillow.

"How is everything? About the same?" I asked.

He closed his eyes for just a second.

"We had to discontinue life support."

We said nothing more. I remember laying in each others' arms with tears sliding silently down my cheeks. I didn't say one thing. I don't regret that... because, well, there were no words. When we heard babbling coming from our son's room, we carried on with our day.

"What do we need to do?" I asked.

"The whole family's meeting at the funeral home later this morning," he answered, "You and A. will need to be there too, especially so we can all help with him."

I nodded.

It was Tuesday. We had lost one precious family member. We would find out about another precious little life the next day. That's a story for next week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Homemade Treasures

See that beautiful baby? Well, I take credit for her. ;)

But do you see that adorable sweater and hat set? My incredibly talented aunt made those as a gift for little G. They fit her perfectly now and I just love the old-fashioned femininity of it...

Beautiful hand-knit garments to cherish for a lifetime? What an incredible blessing!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


... with a baby.

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned before that I'm not a "co-sleeping" kind of a gal. I don't have any serious issues against it (provided it's done safely), but I always knew it wasn't an ideal option for me. I'm fine sharing the bed with my hubby, but I have no interest in a "family bed".

That being said, I LOVE having my baby in the same room as me. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • I can hear her breathing and, thus, I sleep better.
  • I don't need a baby monitor.
  • I don't disturb the other (sleeping) children when I'm up with the baby.
  • I can hear her start to stir when she's waking.
  • I can get to the baby before she even cries. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that G. has cried ONCE since she was born to let me know she's hungry in the middle of the night. Every other time, I hear her and I'm already up. As a result, she's a ridiculously content baby- she knows her needs will be met and that she needn't cry to be taken care of. (And she sleeps about a 9-hour stretch each night.)
  • I get to see her sweet, peaceful face whenever I get up.
  • I'm there to receive her bright-eyed smile in the morning.

I try to keep my babies in with me for as long as they comfortably fit in a cradle. I'm not sure how much longer G. will be in with us (she's almost 4 months old now), but I'm not at all eager to move her out.

Co-habitating with a baby definitely works for me.
This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday, hosted at We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Power Of Conversation

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that seemed fairly brief and useless only to find out that it would end up changing the course of your day?

That happened to me yesterday.

About three weeks ago, I waited outside with my son for his bus. As one pulled up at our neighbor's drive, I started to load my son on. A short chat with the driver revealed that this was NOT, in fact, his bus. Interestingly enough, he would be riding on a different bus that was due to arrive fifteen minutes later. Okay. End of story.

For the past few weeks, A. has happily ridden bus 41 with the other driver and that was the end of that. Until yesterday.

Bus 41 broke down and A. was set to have to wait for a replacement, possibly up to an extra hour. But the driver of the other bus, bus 46, heard the conversation on the radio and remembered his name and where we lived. She radioed in that she could swing by and pick him up and have him at the school at his regular time. And so she did.

I am grateful that I had that conversation. Glad that I'm a "chatty" kind of a gal who enjoys talking to people and who, somehow, was memorable. ;) You never know when that person who had no purpose in your life could wind up saving the day...
This post is linked to Gratituesday, hosted at Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Respect Life

Did you know that yesterday was Respect Life Sunday?

As unapologetically pro-life as I am, you know that has special meaning to me.

If, like me, you agree that all life is precious, from the moment of conception, please join me in praying...

Prayer to End Abortion

Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Have faith. Be strong. Don't give in to the kind of shoulders-shrugged "Oh, well, what can we do?" attitude that pervades our society... even those who claim "they" would never do it. I firmly we believe we have God on our side. Having Him for an ally is a great place to start.

"My Story..." Monday: Calling Home

My husband dropped me off at our house way out in the country. I had no close neighbors and it was eerily quiet there. My son fell easily asleep and Daddy put him in his crib before heading back out. Before he left me, he told me, "Call me in the morning and I'll come home- you can't be lifting him out of the crib. He's almost 30 pounds. The doctor said you should at least take it a little easy..." I nodded, kissed him, and locked the door behind him.

Then I called my parents.

Sitting cross-legged in the middle of our bed, I dialed home. My mom answered. I told her about my father-in-law... that things weren't looking good. That, barring a near-miracle, he wasn't likely to come out of the coma and the doctors weren't seeing the kind of brain activity they wanted. I had no time-line on what was happening, but I knew things were not looking up. I asked for her (and my dad's) prayers for him.

After filling her in on that situation, I told her I needed to ask for more prayers. For me this time...

"I need to ask you to say a few prayers for me too, Mom..."

"Why??? What's wrong?"

"I'm... well, I was... no, I AM pregnant. Almost six weeks."

"You ARE?"

Let me stop right here and tell you all this: Since I got pregnant with my second child when first was only five months old, I was always scared to tell people. And, over time, I've dealt with a whole lot of "You DO know how that happens don't you?" And I was afraid to tell my parents. I thought they'd think I was ridiculous, crazy, and irresponsible.

But my mom's "You ARE?" was filled with excitement. Joy. Anticipation. There was not one bit of judgment or derision in her tone. I let out a breath and cried tears of relief. I told her what the doctor said and that we would know more in two days. I could feel her love and support over the line as we said our goodbyes.

I drifted into a heavy, though fitful, sleep, my phone clenched in my hand just in case it rang. It didn't.

I woke just before six and dialed my sister-in-law's cell phone number (neither my husband nor I had cells at the time)...

She answered and sounded like she had a very bad cold.

"He's already on his way home to get you," she said, "He left about five minutes ago."

"Oh, okay... Well, how are you?"

"Well, you know, as good as can be expected considering..."

And we disconnected.

I wouldn't learn what had actually happened until my husband arrived a half hour later. I'll tell you about that next time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Home, Beautiful Home

I’ve lived a lot of places in my life… I started my journey just outside of Chicago and have been East, South, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest in the years between then and now. I will not be the least bit surprised if I end up even further west at some point in my future. I have what some call “itchy feet” and I’m never afraid to move.

For now, I’ve landed back in Connecticut, where I spent years 10-18 of my life. It is wonderful to be near my family and to expose my children to “my” New England since they spent their first years in “Daddy’s” Midwest.

As we breezed through the summer with no need of central air, I was reminded of why I like Connecticut summers…

But even more than Connecticut summers? I love our autumns. Just looking out my front or back windows brings joy to my heart. I’ve found nothing to compare to the New England foliage. Having such a stunning view of the beauty God has given our world? Well, that’s a Finer Thing to be sure…

What “finer things” do you love about where you live? Let me know in the comments and be sure to stop by Finer Things Friday hosted by Amy.