Thursday, July 31, 2014

Easy Baked Spaghetti

Continuing our week of planned dinners, last night I made easy baked spaghetti.

My friend, Sasha, first introduced me to this recipe last school year, and it has become a favorite of Ben, Elizabeth, and myself.

Again, I wanted to make a recipe with things we had in the house.  I looked up a lot of baked pasta recipes yesterday and a lot of them required a lot of cheeses (and I didn't want to go buy more cheese). 

Here is what I made:

 Boil the water, once it is boiling, add the pasta.
Then, brown your meat.

 Once pasta and meat/sauce are ready- combine in a pan to bake.

 Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

 Doesn't this look good?

 It was so yummy!

Elizabeth loves her yogurt and spaghetti!

*If you want to make this in a more healthy version I would do the following:
Use whole wheat pasta
Replace the ground beef for ground turkey
Low sodium pasta sauce
Low fat cheese, or no cheese

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chicken from the grill

Tuesday night, we continued with our week of planned dinners and we had chicken.  We had left this open-ended on the type of chicken we would have, depending on what I felt like eating. 

Well... I felt like BBQ chicken and it was delicious! 

I even managed the grill myself...

The rest of our dinner was made up of things we had in the refrigerator/freezer to make a great, inexpensive dinner.

 Preparing the chicken.  
The sweet baby ray's bbq sauce I got for free with coupons.
The chicken breasts were almost a pound each, so I made two, Ben and I split one, 
and we have one leftover for lunch this week.

 Half a pound of chicken and leftover corn from make-your-own tacos.

 Our other side was this asiago cheese bread.
I got it for free with a coupon and immediately froze it when I got home.
The dip is homemade dill dip.  
I used leftover sour cream (from taco night), mayonnaise, dill, and onion powder.

Elizabeth enjoyed her yogurt, corn, and asiago cheese bread

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Make-your-own tacos

We are back to planning our weekly dinner menus now that I am back to eating (mostly) regular food without many aversions.

We started off the week on Monday night with make-your-own tacos.  I absolutely LOVE taco night and Elizabeth loves parts of taco night.  Ben has had more tacos since marrying me than in his previous 27 years combined, so he is starting to enjoy taco night as well.   :)

Below is how we do our make-your-own tacos:

 Taco toppings:
Sour cream, salsa, cheese, shredded lettuce, and corn

Bake the taco shells

 Brown up one pound of ground turkey

 Make tacos

And enjoy!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Organizing my "everything closet"

For the past month our house has been in chaos and I have spent most of my free time trying organize the chaos.

First, Ben and Jim moved two desks, two chairs, and a bookcase from our guest room to our basement so we could move the baby furniture into the guest room (and turn it into a baby's room).

Second, I left my job, so I brought home five years worth of teaching materials, equipment, and classroom supplies.

Third, we needed to rearrange several closets to make room for all of the baby stuff/ work stuff/ and other random stuff.

Fourth, we have been selling some furniture on Craigslist since we rearranged, and we have purchased new furniture that is replacing old furniture (blog post to come on that later).

So finally... we have the baby's room organized and now I have finished my "everything closet" that is in the basement (Ben will tell you that I reorganized closets about three times a year, so don't be surprised if this changes).

Below are some pictures of my "everything closet" and how it is currently organized:

 View of the closet

 On the floor: Emergency supplies
White bin is full of candles and flashlights, pink bin is full of water and food

 First shelf: Wrapping supplies
Large bin: bags and tissue paper
Small bin (1): cards and small bags
Small bin (2): Ribbon
Red bin: scissors and tape
To the right are miscellaneous items to wrap gifts

 Second shelf: Party supplies
Large bin on left: Large plates and napkins
Small bins: (1) Small napkins, (2) More small napkins, (3) plastic utencils
To the right are cups

 Third shelf: Office Supplies
I have bins of crayons, markers, and colored pencils, pens, and pencils
More bins of glue sticks, staplers, tape, scissors
On the right is paper with a hole puncher on top

Top shelf: Miscellaneous
Blue bin: Light bulbs
White box: Teaching supplies
Colorful boxes: Empty but can be used for anything

On the floor to the right: Miscellaneous
I have all of my wrapping paper in this large bin
Behind the wrapping paper are our golf clubs and other athletic equipment

Now that I am done with the project, it's time to find another one.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The four things every new mom (and dad) should know

Continuing with my trend of talking about all things baby, I wanted to do one more blog post for new moms (and dads). 

This post is on advice.  Again, I polled several friends about the best advice they received or things they wish they had known before bringing home their bundle of joy.

Below are a few words of wisdom from women (and men) who have been there and done that.

#1. Trust your instincts.

No matter how much (or little) you think you know about being a parent, your instincts will kick in and a little voice inside you will point you in the right direction. 
As my friend Laura said,  "this was advice I got well into my son's first year, I wish I had heard this earlier and followed it, my gut instinct was always right."

* I didn't believe this until I became a parent, and I can say, never have truer words been spoken.

#2. Starting a schedule early on will save you in the future.

As my friend Dana said, "it made running errands, knowing when he was going to be hungry, and getting him to sleep so much easier.  However, the important thing to remember is to not become a slave to the schedule on days the baby just isn't feeling it." 

* I think Ben and I would would completely agree with this statement 100%.  We had Elizabeth on a schedule from the beginning and it made our lives so much easier.  I went back to work after seven weeks and having Elizabeth in a routine made the transition much easier for all of us.

** I also want to say, I know that not everyone believes in schedules.  For our family, it was the best thing and I believe everyone should find the parenting style that works best for their them.**

#3. Put them in their own room.

You built a beautiful nursery, you should use it.

I asked my husband what his one piece of advice would be for anyone having a baby and this is it. 

We put Elizabeth in her room starting the second night we were home (it would have been the first, but our heat had been off for three days and her room was freezing). 

Now, full disclosure here- we had both agreed while I was pregnant that Elizabeth would sleep in her room.  Then we came home.  And I said, "oh, she is so little/ so cute/ my baby/ I want her in our room."  And Ben kindly, but strongly reminded me that we had agreed she would sleep in her own room.

I am thankful everyday that he reminded me of our agreement.  All three of us sleep better because she is in her room and we are in our room. 

Now... did I go check on her 23023495 times?  Yes. 
Was she fine?  Yes.
Did I send Ben to check on her 34903459 times?  Yes
Was she fine?  Yes.

** I also want to say, I know that not everyone agrees with us, and that is fine.**

#4: At the end of the day, what is most important is that your baby gets fed.

All doctors, nurses, and baby books will tell you that breast feeding is best.  That you better exclusively breast feed or else.

Well guess what, THIS IS NOT TRUE.

The best thing for your baby is to eat. 
If you can exclusively breast feed, awesome!
If you use formula, awesome!
If you breast feed and supplement with formula, awesome!

I have had friends that exclusively breast feed, I have had friends that exclusively used formula, and I have had friends that have done both.
As long as your baby gets to eat, is eating enough, and is growing; THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS.

Every couple has to decide what is best for them and their baby and that is a decision that can also be made with the assistance of a doctor.   Don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty for your choice, or bully you into making a decision that is not best for you and your baby.  Again, IT IS YOUR CHOICE.  Do what is best for you and your baby.

* Again, I'm sure not everyone would agree with me on the above statement and that is fine.*

Happy Sunday!  I hope you have a great week!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The 13 things every new mom (and dad) needs

With everything we have been doing this past week to prepare for baby sister, it got me thinking about the things we used the most when Elizabeth was a newborn.

Opening up all of the baby gear and organizing it took me back in time; to a time of burp cloths, bottles, and boppy pillows.

Which got me thinking about what we would need for baby sister that we didn't already have (or things we need to replace).

So, I polled several mom friends about the things they used the most/ couldn't live without/ or things they wish they had used.

Here is the list I have come up with.  If you are about the have a baby, just had a baby, or are thinking about having a baby- this list is for you.  This is from women that have had at least one baby in the past year or women that have more than one kid.

1. Some sort of baby carrier.

 This is the Boba Carrier 4G.
My friend Erika highly recommends this product and uses it all. the. time.

This is the Moby Wrap
My friends Laura and Erika recommend this product as well.
I know Laura used this a lot on her second and third kids, plus Elizabeth.
It works great for moving around with multiple children.

* I did not use any kind of baby carrier with Elizabeth, but have looking for recommendations for baby sister.  I think one of these would be much easier to handle in a store situation than an infant car seat and Elizabeth.*

2. A baby swing
I had multiple friends recommend baby swings (Stacy, Laura, and Dana).  I think any swing would work great, if you have the space for it.  We did not have a swing for Elizabeth (because we didn't have the space) but she loved the swing at Laura's house and would sleep in it constantly.

3. The Fisher Price Rock and Play
We didn't have a swing, but we did have the rock and play!
It is light weight and small, and you can move it anywhere.  Elizabeth slept in this, next to her crib, for the first nine weeks.  We would also put it in our room during the day if we were getting ready, doing laundry, etc. and we wanted her on the same floor as us.

4. Bottle sterilizer and bottle drying rack
Whether you are breast feeding or using formula (or both) you will mostly likely be using bottles.  So, you will need something to dry them on.  There are a lot of different varieties of drying racks, we just picked on that fit in our kitchen.  You will also need a bottle sterilizer (unless you like boiling hot water six times a day).  I have the Avent bottle sterilizer that is below and it is awesome!  In 2 minutes, your bottles are sterilizer. 

5. Burp cloths/ spit up towels/ bibs

 The first few months, babies spit up.  A lot.  Get yourself a lot of burp cloths and bibs.
It will save your clothes, the babies clothes, and your furniture.
*Also invest in a stain remover*

6. Swaddle blankets
 Most babies love to be swaddled.  It reminds them of being inside mom and being all warm and snuggled.  Pick up a few swaddle blankets and if your baby loves being swaddled, you can pick up a few more.  

*This is something we ended up with a ton of, and Elizabeth only wanted to be 
swaddled at night, so we didn't go through a bunch.*

7. Nose and mouth suction

 This is the bulb syringe they use in the hospital.
Take it home with you.
It is great for nose and mouth suction!
*Babies can't control their saliva and spitting, so they bubble a lot. 
This helps clear those bubbles.*

 My friend Heather recommends the Nose Frida.
She loves using it on her second daughter and wishes it had been around when her first was born.

8. A pack n'play

9. A good car seat

10. A good stroller
*If 9 and 10 can go together, even better!*

11. Lots of diapers and wipes

12. A good diaper disposal system 

13. A diaper bag that includes: At least five diapers, travel wipes, one extra pair of clothes, travel trash bags, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, extra pacifier, swaddle blanket

Again, this is a list that some of my friends and I came up with.  This is in no way a comprehensive list, nor are we any kind of experts.   Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding specific products.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Monogram Swap - Elizabeth

Today I am linking up with Kelly's Korner and her monogram swap for Show Us Your Life Friday.

I have a few onsies to part with and they all say Elizabeth.

 Turkey Onsie:
9 months
No stains
$15 shipped
Perfect for Thanksgiving!

 Pumpkin Onsie:
18 months
No stains
$15 shipped
Perfect for Fall, Halloween, Pumpkin picking

 Elephant Onsie and Pink Flower Onsie (sold together or seperate)

 Elephant Onsie:
3-6 Months
Faded Glory
Slight formula staining around neck
$10 shipped

Pink Flower Onsie:
6-9 Months
Faded Glory
Slight formula staining around neck
$10 shipped

If you are interested in any of the onsies.  Please leave a comment below with the best way to contact you.  All shipping is to US addresses only.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

House Update: Baby Sister's Room is (mostly) finished!

I am so excited because I have used most of this week to get baby sister's room ready for her arrival and I am basically done!

I need to pick up a laundry basket and make a bow holder.  I have ordered her name painting from the same wonderful lady that did Elizabeth's name painting.

I have to say, I totally underestimated how much stuff we have.  I saved everything that Elizabeth used and moving it from her closet (in boxes) to unpacked in baby sister's room has been a process.  A. Long. Process. 

After organizing, cleaning, and unpacking, I realized two things:
1) I have not purchased any wipes
2) We have a lot of girl clothes

So, here is an updated look of Baby Sister's Room:

 View from the door

 We are having a painting made to go over the changing table.

 Chest of drawers.

 Lots of closets

 View from windows

 Changing table


 Left side of the closet

 Lots of clothes!!!

 Right side of closet

Happy Thursday!