Living A Dream

Growing up my dad spent his summers working at the Green Lake American Baptist Assembly with his family. So when we were growing up his parents rented a house every few summers for us to have a family vacation. Some of our fondest and funniest memories took place on these grounds and we always had one dream. To stay at the Anne Hathaway house on the water. We would drive by the house every time we were there and imagine what it would be like just to step foot in the house. There seemed to always be people sitting on the porch enjoying the view and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit jealous. This summer, last week to be exact, we got to stay in the house for the week. It was a fantastic week of relaxing, enjoying the view, jet skiing, painting pottery, an Anita Renfro show, lots of walking (as in sometimes 5 walks a day), game playing, Ripon Good cookies, lunch at the bearded bison (delicious), dinner at Norton’s per tradition and it was even better than I remembered, and lots of eating out on the screened in porch. It was definitely a vacation to remember and I feel so blessed that we got to live a dream for a week.

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Pinterest Pressure

Does anyone feel the pressure to make your life Pinterest worthy? You see your friends throwing their kids these extravaganzas for their birthdays, or these crazy incredible baby showers or these huge shindigs for every single get together, or a fairytale wedding on a shoestring budget and you are paralyzed because you don’t have the time, energy, talent or money to put something together like that? Let me try to let you off the hook a bit! I love party planning, my wedding planning was excessive, but I had a blast doing it. I want things to be perfect and I want the person I’m throwing the party for to feel special, but Pinterest has set the bar WAY to high in my humble opinion. In case you missed it, my sweet Ellery Wynn turned the big one year old this week! We were on family vacation so I had to really lower my expectations and I’m so glad I was put in this position. I looked at Pinterest and gathered a few ideas.

I focused on 3 things: food, cake, and a birthday hat. My plan is to make Ellery some sort of birthday hat for every birthday. This way no matter if it’s a small family gathering or a big shindig it’ll feel special. I had some felt left over from Cora’s shower so a few cuts and two lines on the sewing machine and her little crown was done. Was it perfect? Not even kinda, but it was for one day and it was cute enough. Then the food. I thought to myself, what is something Ellery could eat that everyone would enjoy? A baked potato bar was the answer. Pinterest had a couple cute ideas, I took a roll of Kraft paper I had lying around my house, a sharpie marker, and paper fans I took from Elle’s baby shower and Ellery Wynn’s baked potato bar was born. We rummaged around the vacation home to find serving dishes and even though they didn’t match I think it turned out pretty cute. The cake was my last plan. I merged two cake ideas from Pinterest, showed my mom pictures and bam, cake was done. That was it ladies and gents, Elle’s first birthday party was a simple sweet day. We also decided to do the something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read for our kiddos birthdays so I only had to buy 4 little gifts and I liked the structure of that. If you’d like to see some of my other ideas or see the original sources check out my Ellery Turns One pin board.

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***Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am not saying that it’s bad to go all out planning parties and weddings. If that is something you love doing and you have the financial means to do it, then by all means, plan away. What I am saying is don’t do it because you think you have to!***

12 Month Letter

To my toddler Ellery Wynn,

So this is it my sweet girl, your last monthly letter. I will still write you letters from time to time, but I can’t commit to this forever. What I do for you I must do for your future siblings and depending on how many babies we are blessed with that would be a lot of writing! This month has been an absolute blast. You are at a fantastic stage of exploration and discovery. The other day I walked out of the room, came back seconds later and you weren’t wearing any pants, that’s when I knew the baby phase had ended. You are all over the place, love playing alone or with others and especially like to play with things that are not toys. We seriously need to baby proof the house. You started swimming this month. You really like the water, you even went under once, you didn’t love that, but did ok. You still eat a lot, I mean a lot!! Unfortunately you shovel very quickly and actually choked this month on a cheese stick. Daddy had to do the baby heimlcih and it was awful and scary. From now on I’ll be cutting cheese into tiny pieces! You love music and dance or clap to the beat. You clap on cue, do “so big”, karate chop, say hi, smile for pictures, give wet smooches, high five, pull yourself up to stand, and just make our life so much fun. We couldn’t be happier being your parents and look forward to watching you grow up.

Love you forever,
Mama

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Excuse Me

Excuse me while I do nothing for the next week. And by nothing I mean long walks, sunbathing, lake swimming, game playing, family hang outs, book reading and memory making. Let the family vacation commence! See you in a week…yes this house has no Internet, bliss I tell ya!

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And Just Like That

It’s over! Nursing that is. Yep this is the post about the nursing wean, so men, feel free to skip this one. Was anyone else clueless about how to wean? I sure was, I hadn’t thought too much about it, I figured I’d wean sometime around her first birthday and I was ok if it spilled over up until she was 13 months. Now that it’s over I think there were a few things we did on accident that helped us out a lot.

-We introduced the sippy cup early. I think it was around 5 months, 6 months at the latest. She started drinking a couple ounces of water a day. By the time she turned 11 months she was a sippy cup pro so drinking milk from it has been no big deal. I know there is some controversy around sippy cups. We also use straw cups from time to time so she can drink from different kinds of cups.

-I never nursed her to sleep so she didn’t need to nurse to fall asleep. I’m not quite sure how you break that habit, but obviously you can because people aren’t nursing into their teenage years :). All I’m saying is I think that made it easier. We also quit nursing in the night at 3 months so she wasn’t dependent on me to get through the night.

– I let her “pick” which feedings to drop. So I realized she was most disinterested in the afternoon feeding so we kicked that one first and replaced it with a snack at the table. Then she seemed to not care about the lunch feeding so that exited a week later. The morning feeding was my absolute favorite and I intended to keep that as long as I wanted, but she had a different idea. She would scream at me for the dinner time feeding so we kept that one for last.

– I waited 4 days to a week between each dropped feeding, maybe slightly longer. This seemed like a good length of time for my body and for her. But I don’t really think there is a certain time you have to wait, just do what feels best for everyone. I just realized it took exactly one month to the day that we started dropping feedings and I think that was good for me and good for her.

– I weaned the morning feeding over the weekend so Andrew could get her up and feed her breakfast so she wasn’t thinking about nursing. And for the other feedings I kept her busy. The dinner one especially.

– We never went to a bottle. People asked if we were going to do cows milk in a bottle and it honestly never occurred to me to do that. Even though the kids I nannied did that I just never pictured doing that and cleaning bottles. I say go for it, don’t bother with the bottles!!

I honestly don’t know how much milk they are supposed to have, I heard 12 ounces so she gets cows milk for breakfast and dinner and the rest of the day is water or almond “milk”. I’m lucky in that my kid LOVES all things dairy and it doesn’t seem to upset her tummy. We started introducing dairy around 10 months because at 7 months when we first tried she was showing signs of allergy, but now she is fine.

I get that some of this has been luck, but I thought I’d share my experience in hopes that it helps someone else. I didn’t read a book or follow a program I just asked a couple friends and then winged it and it was so much easier than I expected. No pain, no leaking and no tears! Not even on my part. The last feeding was very bittersweet, but today I honestly didn’t miss it and she didn’t either so I would say it was the perfect time to do it. Can you believe my kid will be one on Sunday?

I also want to say that I think you should nurse however long you feel like it and your baby feels like it. I was mentally ready to quit months ago, but didn’t want to buy formula so I kept going and I’m really glad I did. Ellery has been showing signs of increased independence and decreased desire so that’s how I knew she was ready. She also stopped fussing for feedings so I knew she wouldn’t miss them if we quit. It’s also stinking hot here so I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a small factor! If you want to see an awesome write up about the timeline of a breast fed baby, this is the best one I’ve seen. It might help you decide what’s right for you.

And now we continue to feed her a smorgasbord every meal, man oh man my kid can eat!!!

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Eggplant Parmesan

So this is not my creation. My friend Shanyn made this for Andrew and me once when we were babysitting her little boy and now I can’t make it enough. It is for sure my favorite vegetarian meal and it is my go to meal to make for my vegetarian friends. I have been asked several times for the recipe so here it is with step by step picture instructions.

You will need:
1 Eggplant
2 eggs beaten
1 bag shredded mozzarella (2 cups)
Italian seasoned bread crumbs (approx. 1.5 cups)
Shredded Parmesan cheese (a few shakes)
1 jar of tomato basil spaghetti sauce

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Cora’s Shower

A few weekends ago I had the privilege of hosting my best friend Stephanie’s baby shower. My mom and I hosted and we had a great time putting it all together. You would think centerpieces would be easy to find and create from Pinterest, but nothing fit the style we were going for so my mom came up with these fun terrariums.

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My mom happened to have an outdoor food cover for picnics that we fashioned into an umbrella for the gift table.

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I made a little bunting out of felt that said Cora. I thought it would be fun for Stephanie to use it as Cora grows up to hang up on special days like her birthday. I embossed some scalloped punched paper and we made them into cupcake picks. The most time consuming project was making the fringe toothpicks, super simple, super time consuming!

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We made mini fruit pizzas which were seriously a big hit. Despite our hesitation we used the pre made slice and bake and they were perfect. We even had people ask us for the recipe. As a party favor I used this idea from Pinterest.

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We had such a fun time, played a few games, ate way too much, oohed and aahed over all the cute baby things and celebrated this sweet mama and daughter duo. I am so blessed to be friends with this lady and I can’t wait to have a new “niece” in about 2 months.

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Slow

I’m slow to adapt, not so much in social situations, throw me in a new group of people and I’ll feel like I have friends within the hour. I like change. Sometimes I like change too much, but I’m learning to be content, becoming a mom has really changed me in that regard. I’m happy to just exist the three of us indefinitely, this is not to say we don’t want to grow our family, but I feel in no rush to change our current life. Moving to the Midwest didn’t feel like a huge change. Andrew working from home, no big deal, me starting to work part time felt normal, church life feels like we never left, but this house…that’s been a huge adjustment. We like our house a lot and we absolutely love our neighborhood, but going from an 1800 square foot one story on a postage stamp lot to an over 3000 square foot three story home on a corner lot has been a challenge. It doesn’t matter how much I clean I never feel like I’m close to finishing the chores and the tension in our home has been worse than it used to be. We were discussing this with my mother in law the other day trying to get to the root of the issue and then I had one of those light bulb moments, I get mad at Andrew because he has to mow the lawn so often. He used to mow every other week for 30 minutes in Austin, now he mows every 3 to 4 days for a couple hours. So I’m slow to adapt, but today while Andrew mows and Elle naps I realized this could be my time each weekend to focus on me. I get to blog, pay bills, I plan to start my house project list shortly, peruse Pinterest, organize, or just do something for me. Yeah, I can get used to this me time every few days. As I sit hear listening to the Adele Pandora station I’m feeling super content. For those of you who know me well you know it’s huge that I’m listening to Pandora, I finally downloaded it a couple days ago and I’m.in.love, yeah I’m slow to adapt, but I’m getting there!