Monthly Meal Planning Experiment

As I mentioned last week, I’m rethinking how I meal plan and grocery shop.  I’m doing this for three reasons:

  1. I started hating to cook.  I’ve enjoyed cooking since I was a little girl, but it started becoming a task I semi-dreaded.
  2. I like going to Trader Joe’s, but I don’t love buying meat there (not as good of selection or prices in my opinion).  I like buying meat from either Sprouts or HEB (huge local store), but I really don’t like going to more than one grocery store a week.
  3. We were eating the same boring things all of the time.  I wasn’t thinking at all about recipes until the night / hour before grocery shopping and so just made the same things over and over again.

It was clearly time for a change!

I decided trying to meal plan on a monthly, rather than weekly basis.  This way, I could get my cookbooks out once instead of every week, which clearly wasn’t happening.  Also, I could make a consolidated list of everything I needed from a non-Trader Joe’s store and just go there once a month, instead of debating every week which store to go to for what we needed that week.

So far, it is working great!

The initial process of going through cookbooks and making a grocery list for each week was time consuming, but it was also fun.  I chose a few cookbooks and then chose one recipe per week from each book.

This month, I used Thug Kitchen, Oh She Glows Every Day, Salad Love, and America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.

I also chose some things to make from my Baby Led Weaning Cookbook and The Big Book of Recipes for Babies, Toddlers, and Children.  James can now eat a lot of the same things we do, but it was fun to find recipes tailored to him and things like healthy sugar-free muffins, etc.

I chose four recipes per week, because we tend to have leftovers and just like to do our own thing some nights (e.g., my husband makes tacos and I make eggs or some kind of grain salad bowl).

After choosing the recipes, I made grocery lists for each different week, and then a separate list of things I’d need from HEB.  My husband graciously went and got the HEB stuff because it gets super crowded and it’s huge and I kind of hate going there.

This is our third week of the new plan and so far it is GREAT!

I’m back to grocer shopping once a week and I’m actually excited about the things I’m making again, woohoo!  I didn’t track this, but I’m fairly confident it’s good for the grocery budget too since fewer grocery trips means fewer impulse kombucha purchases on my part.

I’m already looking forward to choosing cookbooks and recipes for next month.

Do you meal plan or just wing it?

Do you have a favorite grocery store?

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5 Easy First Foods – Baby Led Weaning

I’ve been meaning to write about this for so long.  The time has finally come!

When I first started researching baby led weaning (BLW), what I most wanted to know was HOW.  As in, the details.  As in exactly what foods to start with, what shape / size to cut them in, and how / how long to cut them.

While I loved the idea of BLW, I was also a little fearful of choking.  I read plenty about how the baby’s gag reflex is further up on their tongue to prevent choking, but I was still a little scared.

I am by no means an expert (please talk to your doctor if you have any questions / concerns about how to feed your baby), but I wanted to share what foods worked well for James when he was first beginning, and the best ways we found to prepare them.

1. Avocado

We chose avocado for James’s first food because a ripe avocado is so squishy that I didn’t worry about choking.  I of course also love that it is a super healthy food full of good for you fats.  I also liked that I didn’t have to worry about cooking it to the right consistency.  Easy all around!  Reflecting back, I think avocado is a fine first food, but maybe a little bit difficult for baby to grasp due to how slippery it is.  You can coat the slices in ground flax or something similar, but I didn’t want to introduce two foods at the same time at first, so we didn’t do this for a while.

James found a solution by bending over and slurping the avocado off of his place mat like a catfish…so it all worked out in the end.  Next time though, I would probably start with something else like….

2. Roasted Sweet Potato

This was James’s favorite food for a long time and I think it was in part because of the taste and in part because it was so easy for him to eat.  The first time I made sweet potato for him, I cut it in thin strips and roasted it.  This didn’t work well for him, probably because I cut the strips too thin (again, fear of choking).

I then started cutting them in rounds with a crinkle cutter and true love was born!  I coat them in lots of coconut oil or avocado oil (using lots of oil makes them softer…and delicious) and roast at 400 degrees for thirty minutes.  Sometimes I sprinkle with turmeric or cinnamon.  I leave the peel on and James has learned to spit it out, but I would probably remove the peel if I offered it as a first food.  I think roasted sweet potatoes would make a great first food!

3. Steamed Broccoli

This is a messy one, but James has always loved it and still does today.  It is super easy for baby to hold the stem of the broccoli and gum the florets off.  I tried roasting because I think it tastes better, but at least for James, it was much easier to eat when steamed because it gets softer.  I got a steamer basket and I steam it for about ten minutes, until a form goes easily into the stem part.  I like to drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic.  I buy frozen broccoli (and also frozen green beans) so that I always have it on hand and it takes very little time to prepare.

4. Banana

A ripe banana is super easy for baby to eat.  I read that you could just give baby half a banana, removing a ring of peel around the top, so that it’s still easy for them to hold (as in the above photo).  I tried this, but James was taking huge bites and it made me nervous.  I now separate the banana half into three sections using my fingers – this is easy if it’s ripe.  At first, I would cut these three sections in half length-wise to prevent choking, though this may be totally unnecessary depending on how ripe the banana is.

5. Melon

We didn’t plan it, but one of James’s first foods was seedless watermelon.  We were out at an event and they had some beautiful looking watermelon and I realized how easy it would be for him to eat.  He loved it and I actually think that’s where he really made the connection that food is to eat and tastes delicious because he was much more into eating, rather than just playing with his food, after that day.  He ate pretty much the whole slice…and was covered in sticky juice.

He still loves melon of all kinds and I think it’s a particularly great food to offer during teething.  It can take James a long time to eat a big piece of melon, and if it’s cold from the fridge, it seems to be a good way to help ease the discomfort on his gums.

These are of course just a few foods you could begin with, as many doctors are now saying it is safe to give baby most foods from the beginning, if they are starting solids 6 months or later.  I think the biggest thing I learned was to experiment with the shapes / cooking method to find something that works for your individual baby.

We didn’t offer it until recently because I just didn’t think of it, but I also think beets would be a great first food (golden beets if you don’t want the mess).  They sell pre-steamed beets with no other ingredients at Trader Joe’s that I’ve started buying for James and he loves them!  Other early foods we had success with included thin strips of pears (microwaved a bit if not soft enough) and egg yolk (fried and cut into strips, or scrambled once baby can grasp smaller pieces).

If you eat meat, salmon and meatballs have been the easiest forms of meat we’ve found for James (I used the meatball recipe in the Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook).

Now James can eat pretty much anything, but I have very fond memories of his first adventures in eating.

I should also mention, we wound up doing a hybrid of BLW and offering foods with a spoon, which I’ll likely write more about soon.

If you have kids, did you try baby led weaning, spoon feeding, or a mix?  What was baby’s first food?

What is your earliest food memory?

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July Goals

Happy belated 4th of July!

How it is July already, I have no idea, but I believe it because it has been HOT.  We are all about early morning walks and playing in the kiddie pool these days and I don’t see that changing for some time.  I can’t handle being inside all day, so we make it work.

Anyway, along with a new month comes new goals.

First a recap of last month’s goals:

Introduce Daily / Weekly Checklist: Definitely did not do this, BUT, I did finally start wearing sunscreen on my face every day, which was one of the reasons I wanted to start a checklist.  The key was to get one I love. I love anything rose scented, so love how this one smells and enjoy putting it on.  It also feels really light.  The only problem is if I put it on and go running, it gets in my eyes and really stings.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a face sunscreen that doesn’t sting your eyes?

Delete Email Subscriptions: I’ll give myself a B+ on this one.  I was really diligent at the beginning of the month and unsubscribed from a bunch…then I was told by several people that there are things that will do this for you automatically.  I have not yet signed up for one of those, but hopefully my husband will read this and do it for me (he is my personal IT guy, I am terrible at all things technology).

Complete the Playroom: Yes!  I am super close on this one and I love it!  I just need to hang the final pictures and I will do a post sharing it soon.  It is simple, but it has been wonderful to have another space that’s really set up for James, especially with limited bursts of outside play time in this heat.

Okay, onward and upward, July goals!

Complete my Monthly Meal Plan Experiment:  I’m posting more about this soon, but I was feeling a serious lack of creativity in the cooking department.  That coupled with always feeling like I was running out of things and needing to make multiple grocery trips each week led me to rethink the way I was meal planning.  My goal this month is to stick with the new plan and hone it a bit more for efficiency’s sake.

Write (apart from the blog) 3 Times per Week:  After maybe a year’s hiatus, I’ve finally gotten back to a personal writing project I started some time ago.  I think because of the mental effort required, I’m always resistant to working on it, but always feel so good when I do.  I’m going to try to work on it three times a week this month.  I’ve already put it on the calendar, so I think that will help as I tend to stick to things once they’re scheduled.  I’m still working on how to balance this with blogging, hence the skipped posts recently.

Reflect on the Next Year:  This one is a little vague, but probably the most important.  I always said I wanted to stay home with James for the first year, but then what….  I’m feeling very torn about whether / when to go back to work right now.  I visited the school where I taught last week and it felt SO good to be there and see all of the wonderful children and coworkers I love.  Then I have great mornings at home with James and think about the more rushed pace that would be necessary to get out of the house early each morning.  I am SO fortunate in that I could go back part-time, and in that my husband doesn’t care either way whether I go back.  I just need to spend some serious time thinking it over!

Do you have any goals for July?

If you have kids, did you go back to work right away or stay home with them?

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Birth Reflections – Why I’m Glad I got an Epidural

I thought about not writing this because I know this is a hugely personal decision and people have strong opinions.  In the end though, I decided to share.

There are so many (beautiful) birth stories out there about natural births, which is wonderful, but when I was pregnant, it made it almost seem (to me) like it’s the only legitimate way to give birth, like if you have an epidural, you should just keep quiet about it.  This may just be because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, I don’t know, but that’s definitely how it seemed to me.

I went into the whole birth experience unsure of whether I wanted to get an epidural.  I didn’t really have any strong feelings against it, but my head was also full of all of those natural birth stories I’d read…gotta love the internet.

I wrote more about James’s birth here, but in short, I was induced and did not react well to the medication.  I started having strong contractions just over a minute apart right away and they eventually had to pull the medication and give me some kind of shot because the contractions were so strong and frequent for so long that James’s heart rate was dropping.

Things continued to be painful, but not unbearable until my water broke (about 15 hours later).  After that, I “gave in” and got the epidural.  I wish I had gotten it sooner.

When the pain subsided, I immediately felt so happy and excited to welcome our little guy into the world.  Before the epidural, there was no way I could sleep because it hurt too much.  After it, there was no way I could sleep because I was too freaking excited.  It allowed me to be present and take in the moment.  I lay awake just daydreaming about what he would be like and have the fondest memories about the hours before his birth.

The epidural may have also helped move things along for me, as before it I was hardly dilated at all and a few hours later I was 9 cm.  I know this can happen sometimes as it calms you down, but I also know things may have just moved along because my water broke…who knows.

All Smiles Right Before Pushing

The happy mood continued all the time through the pushing stage.  I was joking with the nurses in between contractions and continued to be unbelievably excited.  Granted, I had a pretty easy time of this part of labor and it only took around 40 minutes.  Still, I’m pretty sure I would not have felt so happy and light if I hadn’t gotten the epidural.

Again, this is just a reflection on my personal experience, but for me, “giving in” and getting the drugs turned a stressful / really tense night into an extremely happy and exciting time that I cherish.  Would I get one again next time?  Who knows, but I will certainly put less pressure on myself not to.

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James at 9 Months

James turned 9 months old yesterday!  This is such a busy stage, but such a fun one.  There are of course wonderful things about every age, but I love how interactive and full of personality James is now.

He loves playing back and forth games, babbling, and generally being silly.  It’s been a great month!

Eating

James continues to love food.  The biggest change with eating this month has been his new ability to pick up small pieces of food, like peas.  Eating peas is one of his favorite activities right now.  It’s kind of funny though because he often just keeps the peas in his mouth, so they’ll roll back out when he starts talking or takes another bite.

Now that he can eat small pieces, he can eat almost anything we do, which is very convenient.

He tried Thai green curry this month (light on the curry paste) and seemed to really like it!  I hope he continues to be an adventurous eater.

We also introduced peanut butter and he did not have a reaction, which was a relief!  I now sometimes add it to his morning oatmeal.

Gross Motor

As always, James was very busy on the movement front this month.

He started pulling up to stand and cruising.

This has been a big change, but a fun one!  It’s also allowed me to update his shelves with a second level of toys, which I’ll post about soon.

James also started “traditional” crawling, though he still army crawls when he’s in a hurry.

He also finally learned to sit reliably!  As soon as he started pulling up to stand, he also started sitting for extended periods of time and playing.  (He previously hated sitting and would lunge out of it if we ever put him in a sitting position).

Size

In a word: Big.  James is 20 pounds, 15 ounces (73rd percentile) and just under 29 1/2 inches (95th percentile).  He is getting heavy and we’re taking bets on when he’ll be taller than I am!

Personality

James is so friendly!  He has still not shown any real signs of “stranger danger” and loves hamming it up and getting attention wherever we go.

*I wrote that Monday…he freaked out with the nurse and doctor on Tuesday.  I’m not sure if it was “stranger danger” or because he’s teething and was really tired.

He will often choose one person to focus on when we’re out and stare at them hard, following them with his gaze wherever they go.

He has been particularly happy this month and is almost always in a good mood these days.  When he’s tired, his attention span shrinks and we need to entertain him more, but he’s still not usually too grumpy.

The exception to this is when he’s trapped in the car.  We had several long rides back and forth from Houston and he hated every minute of them.  I don’t blame him.  His two bottom teeth are also coming in this week and while it hasn’t made him too grumpy, it has definitely impacted his sleep.

One other development we’ve seen this month is a love of books.  I’ve always loved reading to James, but he has started frequently choosing books for himself this month and he gets the biggest smile when I take the one he chose and read it to him.  He loves turning the pages too.  He has a definite favorite book (Hello Bugs) that he chooses first every time and I find it so adorable!  He also really likes “touch and feel” books and books with photos of babies.

He also likes shiny things, water bottles, cups, and balls.  He particularly loves these gold hedgehog coasters we have and will carry one around the house with him while he explores.

He loves watching cars go by out the window – we often do this when I’m tired because he’ll happily do it for 20 minutes or so and sometimes it’s nice to be still 🙂  This is even more fun when we time it so he sees his Dad arrive home from work – SO EXCITING.  He starts shrieking and banging on the window and grinning, it’s pretty hilarious.

He’s also started really saying “mama” and “dada” to refer to us.  He’s said the sounds for months, but there were a couple of times this month where he clearly said them when one of us entered the room – so exciting!  He also has his own way of saying “no,” which sounds like “neh neh neh” and is too cute.  He says this mainly when we wipe his face and hands after a meal.

Life is at once busy and quiet right now.  It takes a lot of energy to keep up with the little guy, but it’s also so relaxing to have many days where I wake up and realize we can do whatever we want all day.  I’m loving every minute of this particular stage and trying to really savor the last few months of James being a baby.

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Five Parenting Lessons I Learned as a Teacher

Teaching little ones was such an honor and so much fun (most of the time).

I feel so lucky to have had the experience of being in the classroom before having children of my own because I learned so much about children and how to interact with them, but also because I gained valuable lessons about the type of parent I want to be.

I want to be clear, I know it’s about 1000 times harder to be the parent you want to be in the moment than to think about it in the abstract.  I worked mostly with 3-6 year older (a little bit with toddlers too), so I won’t need to use most of these ideas for quite some time.  I may fail at all of them, who knows.  These are just a few things I hope to keep in mind as my little guy grows based on what I saw work (and not work) with parent-child interactions when I taught.

1. Avoid Labeling: “bored” or “shy” or “picky”

I want my little guy to learn as many words as possible in the next couple of years…but there are a few words, like “shy” and “picky” and “bored” that I’m in no hurry for him to learn

Obviously children will learn these words on their own eventually, but why speed up that process?  Why teach a child that when there’s nothing going on, you / they are “bored”?  I promise you will regret it when they tell you 1000 times in an hour that they’re bored.

“Oh, you’re bored?  Bored means there is nothing to do.  I have something you can help me with.”  Proceed to involve them in folding laundry, sweeping the floor, whatever else needs doing….they will quickly learn to stop telling you they’re bored and start figuring out something fun to do.

Along similar lines, why teach a child that he is “shy”?  Feeling shy is totally fine, but labeling someone as shy is different.  That becomes part of their identity.

I think it’s important to help small children understand and name their feelings, but when little Johnny is hiding behind your leg, instead of saying “Sorry, Johnny is shy, he wants to stay with me,” you could say “Johnny, it seems like you’re feeling hesitant to go in today.  I see your friend Bobby over there / I see your favorite book is available to read”.

Same with picky – sure some children are picky eaters, but if they hear you label them as “picky,” it becomes a part of how they see themselves and they are much less likely to try new things.

2. Don’t Interview for Pain

Children are perceptive.  Children want your attention.  They will quickly figure out what gets the most attention from you and do more of that thing.

If you ask your child about their day and then focus in on the one negative thing they’ve mentioned and proceed to question them about it for the next half hour and comfort them (even if they weren’t upset about it to begin with…), they will quickly learn to bring up more negative things.  Whether or not anything bad has happened.  A little disagreement they had with a friend becomes a huge drama where they were the victim – this is not to say your child will lie, but that the way they view what happened will change.

How you see the world impacts how they see the world.  Parents do this because they want to make sure their children are okay and are taken care of.  Of course it’s a parent’s job to be their child’s advocate and protector.  But if you have a big reaction every time your child mentions anything “bad” happening, they will likely begin focusing on / embellishing these interactions, and becoming more upset over them.

3. Don’t Greet with Criticism

Picture this: Little three-year old Sally has spent twenty minutes putting on her own shoes.  She sat there and concentrated and did it herself, even though it’s so hard.

Mom comes in to pick her up from school: “Oh, your shoes are on the wrong feet.  Let’s fix that before we get in the car.” Mom proceeds to do it for little Sally because it’s faster.  Message: You did it wrong and I don’t think you’re capable of doing this on your own.

If you’re worried your child might be uncomfortable, you could say “Do your shoes feel comfortable?”   If they say yes, just leave it alone and maybe make a mental note to show them a trick for remembering which shoe goes on which foot later.  Or not.  They will figure it out eventually.

4. Leave it at the Door

Imagine this scenario: A little girl in pigtails comes bouncing into school, a smile on her face, lunchbox in hand.

Mom: “Poor little Jane had an awful morning.  She slept terribly, cried about putting her shoes on, and fell and scraped her knee on the way to the car.  Good luck with her today.”

The little girl is no longer smiling.  Clearly….

Children generally move on quickly.  While all of the events of a rough morning are likely still swimming around in your head, the child has likely moved on.  Even if she hasn’t, why not give her a fresh start when she gets to school (or to a friend’s house, or wherever you’re going).

This could also be broadened to say avoid talking about your child like she’s not there – she is always listening.

If you need to tell a teacher or another adult about something going on with your child, leave a note!  This way the relevant information is passed along and the child doesn’t hear the reminder that she’s probably in a bad mood and may be a pain to be around today.  Yikes.

5. Avoid Saying “No”

This isn’t what it sounds like – this does NOT mean let your child do whatever they want.  It’s just that children, especially toddlers and very young children, are sensitive to the fact that they are constantly told “no”.

There are ways you can rephrase what you’re saying to avoid directly telling them no and triggering a power struggle.  Examples:

Child: “Can I have a piece of candy?”

Parent: “Yes, this evening, after we eat dinner.”  (Or, “Mmm, I like candy too, I wish we could eat it every day!  Candy is a special treat.  We’ll have some in a few weeks on Halloween.”)

Child at the store: “Can I have this toy?  And this toy?  And that toy?”

Parent: “Ooo, that looks like a fun one!  I’m going to take picture of it so I remember it when you have a birthday.”  (or write a note – children love seeing you write notes, it shows them what they’re saying is important to you.)  This trick is from my friend Natalie and I love it and definitely plan to use it!

Child: “Can I go play outside?”

Parent: “Yes.  As soon as we’re done cleaning your room, you may play outside.”

Even though he’s only 8 months, I try to practice this way of talking with James because I think a big part of it is habit.  When he tries to roll away while I’m changing his diaper, I say “You may roll / crawl as soon as we’re done with your diaper”.  It may not make any difference to him yet, but I think it’s helping me remember to practice this skill.  I try to save “no” or “stop” for things that are unsafe so the words have more impact.

Do you use anything you’ve learned at work in your home?

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Twelve Questions

I wanted to mix it up today and do a little “get to know you” survey.  Feel free to answer one (or all) of the questions in the comments, I’d love to get to know you too!

1. At which store would you like to max out your credit card?

Anthropologie.  I want to live in that store.

2. What was your favorite tv show growing up?

Full House all the way!

3. Do you play any musical instruments?

Not well, but I took harp lessons for years.  I’d love to get back into it so I can play songs for our little guy, but I need to learn how to change strings first because some of the strings on my harp have popped.

4. What is your favorite cereal?

I don’t really eat cereal for breakfast, but I love it as a snack / dessert.  As children, my sister and I both randomly loved Cracklin’ Oat Bran, which we called “tv cereal” due to its shape.  I still think it’s delicious.  We also loved corn pops though, because they had the best prizes….

5. What was the worst punishment you ever received in school?

I have always been a rule follower and only remember one punishment in school…and I sort of loved it.  In my high school, seniors were allowed to leave campus, but only at lunch time.  My best friend and I had a free period and she wanted to go get donuts, so we went.  It was a free period, we weren’t even skipping class, but of course we got caught.  The principal liked us and clearly wasn’t really mad, I think he thought it was funny.  Still, he gave us detention.  We had to come in on a weekend and organize some lost and found closet.  I don’t love cleaning, but I love organizing.  We found some old American Girl books in the closet and my friend read them aloud while I color coded all of the clothes in the lost and found…it was strangely fun lol.

6. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

1 – Visit every US national park, or at least the continental ones.

2 – Visit every continent, except Antarctica

3 – Travel to the Galapagos!

Apparently, I want to travel more….

7. What is the worst pet you have ever had?

Hermit Crabs.  I got a couple of hermit crabs for my class a couple of years ago and they were the most boring pets ever.  This is likely because they’re nocturnal, so never came out when we were at school, and were super afraid of people.  They’re probably much more interesting if you have them at home and can see them at night.  I obviously should have done more research here….

8. What is a food you associate with vacation?

Pop tarts!  We didn’t eat these on a regular basis as kids, but I clearly remember being allowed to pick out a flavor before a trip (I think mostly before road trips to visit my grandfather’s ranch).  Choosing was always such a tough decision!  I think I like the strawberry ones best though.

9. What is your favorite place you’ve ever vacationed?

South Africa!  My husband and I went there on our honeymoon and it was so beautiful.  We did a mix of exploring the coast, wine tasting, and safari, but the safari was definitely the best part.  Alaska is probably my second favorite and I really want to go back.

10.  What really makes you angry?

Too many things… I actually have a pretty bad temper, which surprises people who don’t know me that well.  One thing that makes me really mad though is drivers who try to drive up to the front of a line of cars and skip the line.  There was this one turn I always made on my way home from work with one really wide lane and people would always do this…makes me unreasonably angry.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch and play?

My favorite to watch is college football (Hook ’em Horns!) and my favorite to play is basketball (or running if that counts).

12. What fictional place would you most like to go?

Hogwarts!  I’m not big into science fiction or fantasy in general, but love Harry Potter.

Play along in the comments!

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Father’s Day Weekend Highlights

Good morning!

We had a busy weekend celebrating my Dad and my husband.

I drove to Houston last Wednesday so that I could celebrate with my Dad, and drove back to Austin Saturday afternoon to also celebrate Father’s Day with my husband on Sunday.

It was a lot of driving, but so worth it.  I wanted to share a few highlights from our long weekend today:

1. Seeing my Dad

I’ve always been really close to my Dad and there were many years when I couldn’t make it home for Fathers’ Day when I lived across the country.

While a three-ish hour drive may be inconvenient, it is absolutely worth it!

My Dad has been really busy, so we just made him brunch at home to celebrate.  We made these pear ginger muffins, eggs, potatoes, and yogurt parfaits with this granola recipe (we used coconut oil instead of canola) – so good!

(Seeing my mom and sister was also a highlight, just focusing on my Dad for father’s day 🙂

2. Celebrating my husband’s first father’s day

As I wrote on Friday, he is such a wonderful dad and it was really fun to celebrate with him.

 

I snapped these photos of our little buddy last week and framed one for him.

I also made him waffles – two brunches in one weekend is always a win in my book 🙂

3. Watching James Explore

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it, but James has started pulling up on things and it has been quite an adventure!  He has always been extremely active, so he of course pulls up constantly now, which means I need to be about two inches away from him since he regularly lets go and tumbles backward.

It’s been a bit of a transition for him to need so much supervision, but he gets the biggest grin on his face every time he pulls up.

He also seemed to really enjoy exploring my parents’ house in general.  He was very excited with so many new things to see.  He fell in love with this one lamp they have and would get the biggest smile whenever he saw it.  He was also enamored with their pet cockatiels.

4. Outside Time

Now that it’s reaching over 100 degrees (!!!), we’ve had to get a bit more creative with outside time, but it is still happening and is always a highlight.

We now regularly go for walks first thing in the morning, which I love, and gets us out before the heat of the day.

James also really loves crawling around in the grass, so we’ll find a shady spot and let him explore.  He particularly loves seeing bugs and flowers.  We also gave him a mint leaf from my mom’s herb garden and he enjoyed chewing on it for like an hour – he smelled really good!

5. Dining Out

James has recently gotten really good at picking up little pieces of food.  He can eat little bits of many of the foods we eat now.  As a result of this, it is pretty easy to take him to restaurants at the moment.  There is almost always something we can order him and he takes a long time to eat something like a strip of bread, so he stays entertained.

I know this won’t last forever and that as he gets more efficient at eating, it may not occupy him for as long, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

It was a wonderful weekend full of family time and we’re looking forward to another fun week ahead.

What was the best part of your weekend?

What did you do for Father’s Day?

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Watching You Become a Dad

Happy Friday!

I’m very much looking forward to this weekend and to spending time with both my Dad and my husband to celebrate Father’s Day.

I wanted to take some time today to share some of my favorite pictures of my husband with our little guy.

He has three younger siblings and loves to goof around.  I never had any doubt that he would be a great Dad.  But seeing him in action with little James has been better than I could imagine.

He is easy-going, fun-loving, and is always able to make James laugh.  Sometimes James laughs at just the sight of him, knowing he’s in for a good time if Dad is around.

He is also super helpful and hands on, which I’m so grateful for.

Happy first Father’s Day Nick!  Watching you become a Dad has been truly amazing and we are so lucky to have you 🙂

Have a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day!

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Day In the Life – Weekend Edition

Happy Wednesday 🙂

I realized none of the DITL posts I’ve done have been about weekends, so decided to capture a Saturday this time.

We were supposed to have a friend come stay with us this weekend, but he sadly got strep throat and had to cancel, so we had zero plans all weekend.

Saturday morning I woke up at 6:15, followed shortly by the little buddy at 6:25.  It looked beautiful outside, so I decided to take him for an early morning walk.  Now that the summer heat is in full swing here, I’ve been trying to get out earlier in the day.  I actually love hot weather, but don’t want to keep the little guy out for too long in the mid day heat.

It was a really beautiful quiet morning, with traces of pink still in the sky.  We saw cardinals, mockingbirds, blue jays, and lots of mourning doves while we were out.

When we got home, I nursed him and then we played in his room for a while.  I felt his gum to see if his first tooth had poked through, but not quite yet!  It feels like it’s close; there is a definite little bump.  Eventually, it was time for breakfast.  He ate his favorite oatmeal, and I ate a grown up version.

He almost always eats breakfast in his weaning chair, but I scrubbed it thoroughly yesterday and want to add another coat of natural wood finish before he uses it again.  I’m hoping another coat will seal it better and make it easier to clean.

I usually leave his pajamas on until after breakfast since oatmeal is messy and he would just have to change clothes again anyway.

It is still really nice out, so we have play time in the backyard after breakfast.  He is fascinated by the grass and loves to crawl around in it.

He sees an ant and gets a huge grin as he tries to chase it down.

His Dad wakes up and comes out to join us – the fun continues!

After a while, James is getting tired and it is time to get ready for a nap.  We read The Napping House in his new reading nook and he goes to sleep.

I didn’t sleep that well the night before and am feeling a little lethargic, but really want to go for a run while he naps.  My injured foot was bothering me last week and I hadn’t run all week.  So glad I went!  I felt a little slow to start with, but ended up having a great run.  I don’t have a working Garmin right now, so I’m not sure how far I went, but somewhere between 4-5 miles.

I listened to my Austin Marathon playlist from a few years ago.  It’s a super random mix of my favorite songs from throughout my life.  Highlights include John Michael Montgomery’s Cowboy Love from one of my first cds in 4th grade, our wedding song by Jackie Greene, and lots of Eminem.  Each song reminds me of a different time in my life and I love it.

When I get home, I hear James right away – apparently he did not have a good nap (told you I would jinx it!)  I take a quick shower and play time resumes.

James is in a pretty good mood despite his short nap and we all play with random stuff around the living room and kitchen.  Really, mostly my husband plays with him while I sit and watch.  I’m feeling tired and chugging both water and cold brew coffee.

James nurses again and a little while later I make him lunch.

He eats a pancake (I made a big batch last weekend and now have a bunch in the freezer), scrambled eggs with spinach and onion, and roasted sweet potatoes.

My husband starts up the grill while James is eating and James stared out the window in a trance – he loves watching his Dad!

After cleaning up lunch and a little more play time, it is time for nap #2.  I work on this post while he sleeps and enjoy the delicious smells coming from the grill outside.

I failed to take a picture because we were trying to eat quickly before James woke up, but we ate delicious burgers and a salad I made with spinach, baby kale, strawberries, and honey goat cheese – so good.  I’m not really into restaurant burgers, but love burgers straight off the grill!

The little guy woke up right before 1:00 and was ready for more play time!  My husband played with him while I talked to my sister on the phone (mostly about our upcoming Disney World trip…SO excited).  I heard periodic squeals and bursts of laughter from the other room and it made my heart so happy.

When I got off the phone it was time to nurse James again and then we were ready for some more outside time.  It was a cloudy day and not so unbearably hot as it has been some days so we took full advantage.  We headed to the backyard for some splashing in the kiddie pool, one of my favorite things lately.

We spent quite a while out there and then it was time for one more nap for James.  He’s in the midst of the 3-2 nap transition and it just depends on the day, but since he hadn’t had any long naps today he needed a third one.  He fell asleep almost immediately at 3:05 so apparently that splash time wore him out!

I raced out to do some top-secret fathers day errands and got home a little after he woke up.

I nursed him again and then we had a little more play time in the new playroom.  The playroom is not finished, it’s just an empty room with a rug and a couch, but he already seems to love playing in there.  As he wants to explore more and more, it’s nice to have another space that is set up for him.

Soon it’s time for me to make his dinner.  He has part of one of the burgers my husband grilled, avocado toast, green beans, and watermelon.  Dinner takes a LONG time today, which is unusual for him, but he seems really into eating his food, just slowly.

He particularly likes the avocado toast and, of course, the watermelon.

Because dinner took so long, we divide and conquer and I clean up dinner while my husband does bath time.  James’s hair brush is one of his favorite things to play with at the moment.

Then it’s time to nurse James one more time, wrestle him into pjs, read him Goodnight Moon, and sing him Forever Young one more time for the day.

He is in bed at 6:15 and passes out almost immediately; I don’t hear a single sound after I leave the room.

Despite not taking good naps today, James was in the BEST mood all day, constantly laughing, and it was a really fun day.

After he’s in bed, we eat random leftovers for dinner and I drink wine and eat ice cream while we watch a new to us show (Red Oak – only okay so far).  I then pass out myself, so tired and so happy.

What was your Saturday like?

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