Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. Sorry this is so late. It's been a crazy day. Today is the one day of the year that I work outside the home. Every Saturday after Thanksgiving, Niki and I work at the family-owned dollar store. Our second cousins own it, and this is their family day to get their Christmas tree and have a day of fun together. So we run the store. It's always an adventure! Haha.

2. My van is dying. The transmission is going out so it has trouble making it into first gear. It has 241,000 miles on it, so we're not going to put any more money into it. I was really hoping it'd hit 250,000 but it's not looking too hopeful. Every time I put gas in it, I hope it doesn't die the next day, taking that expensive gas with it to the grave!

3. We had a very nice Thanksgiving with Justin's side of the family this year. I feel bad that we pretty much ate and ran, but it was naptime and Lena was melting down. Plus, I had shopping to do . . .

4. I am one of those horrible people who shopped on Thanksgiving. I had to get the deals while they were still available! This year, Luke's girlfriend, Esther, joined Niki and I. We had such a blast! It was a great year, and we got everything we wanted (and more)! I actually kind of liked doing it Thursday night. We got to Wal-Mart at 6 and were done with our shopping by 11 pm. I was in bed by my normal time! 

5. A miracle occurred while we were out shopping: Lena took a bottle for Justin. I seriously think it was the first time ever. She woke up at 9 pm, chugged down a bottle, and went right back to sleep! I was so relieved! And then today, I fed her at 8:00 am before I left for work. Justin successfully gave her another bottle around noon, and when I tried to feed her at 3:15, she wasn't even interested! Who is this child?!

6. I've decided that one of my favorite times of the day is 4:00. It's usually one of the most hectic times of my day, trying to get dinner ready with the girls at my feet, but I kind of thrive on the chaos. I love the challenge of getting dinner on the table before Justin gets home. Lately we've been cranking up the Christmas music and dancing while we cook. Love it.

7. I procrastinated again this year, and just finished putting together our Advent Activities for the month of December. I think I'm also going to get the book The Jesus Storybook Bible and use it with this plan to help us focus on Jesus during the craziness of the season. We're going to start that one a few days late, though, because I haven't had the chance to buy the book yet.

Advent Activities 2013

Here are our Advent Activities for 2013. We repeated a couple of favorites from 2012, but added a lot of new ones. If you're a procrastinator like I am, feel free to steal my ideas! :-) 

This year, I found a package of 12 blank cards at the dollar store in red and green. I bought 3 packages and went to town decorating them. (Pictures to come.)

Last year, I numbered them from 1-24, but this year we're going to do it as a countdown, so we'll start with number 24 tomorrow morning.

24. Make a cinnamon roll Christmas tree for breakfast. 
23. Make ornaments and decorate the Christmas tree. Some ideas from pinterest: bead candy canes, scrabble (gonna use the girls' birth dates), marshmallow snowman
22. Go to Chicago to visit Aunt Kaley!
21. Paint nails red and green.
20. Make a Christmas card for Judie (our Compassion International child)
19. Visit Frederick Meijer Gardens with Great Grandma
18. Make hot chocolate snowmen to deliver to friends. 
17. Take silly Christmas pictures (for Christmas card).
16. Make treats for a friend. 
15. Make a cupcake for Jesus (ornament).
14. Check out Christmas books from the library.
13. Decorate cookies with friends.
12. Make Christmas pizzas
11. Live nativity at church.
10. Build a snowman.
9. Buy a gift for Toys for Tots.
8. Make treats for the librarians at our local library.
7. Secret one! (Facebook message me if you must know. ;-) )
6. Buy presents for Lena and Daddy.
5. Make popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.
4. Family game night. Might try this one.
3. Make a popsicle nativity.
1. Play the wise man game. Open one present (Christmas jammies.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lena: 10 Months

I think every month, I'm a little later with the update. Haha. Here's what's up at 10 months.
The first and only picture I got of her looking at the camera.
This is what most of the pictures look like. Haha.
She's nursing every 4 hours around the clock. Sometimes during the day, she doesn't nurse very well. I wonder if she's getting ready to drop a feeding. (I dropped Lucy's afternoon feeding at 10 months) But then some days, she acts like she's starving. She loves solid food. She can eat pretty much anything now. Some of her recent favorites have been lasagna, cheese roll-ups (with green bean puree - sneaky, sneaky), beef-a-roni (with carrot puree), cheese, and cinnamon rolls. Hehe. That's my girl. I'm really trying to feed her 3 real meals a day. She has a jar of baby food here and there. She'll still only eat fruit from a jar, but it's better than nothing, right? And I work hard to incorporate veggies in other areas of her diet.

She usually nurses around 10:30 or 11 pm, gets up once in the night, then is up for the day between 6 and 7:30. It works out well since I don't go to bed 'til 10:30 or 11, so I'm technically only getting up with her once in the night. I've been trying to only feed her on one side and if perchance she wakes up before 4 hours is up, I put her binky back in her mouth and lay her back down without getting her out of the crib. Justin has next week off, though, so I think CIO might take place. So many people have told me lately stories about doing CIO one night and their kid getting the hang of it the next night. A girl can dream, right? Haha.

She generally takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap. I've been trying to keep her up longer in between the two. But if she takes a super early morning nap or I can't keep her up long in between, she ends up having an afternoon nap and going to bed later. The joy of being a stay at home mom is it doesn't really matter! :-)

I feel like she learned so much in the past month. She does "so big," and peek-a-boo, she sometimes waves, and she's just started clapping in the past week. She's also had a vocabulary boom. After some debate, I've decided her first word is "uh-oh." She said "hi" once, but not again for at least a week. During that week, "uh-oh" cropped up. Haha. She usually only says "hi" to animals. She loves saying it to Lola, and also tried it out on Paul and Missy's dog recently. She says "uh-oh" all the time. Yesterday at the grocery store, she had a grand ole time spitting her binky out on the floor, leaning over to look at it from the cart, and declaring "uh-oh!" over and over again. It's a good thing she has such a sweet, adorable little voice! She also says "mama" very clearly. I sometimes think she's using it on purpose, but other times she's definitely just babbling it.

She's really started to cruise around furniture in the past couple of weeks. She's quite the pro at going from the ottoman to the footstool to the couch. She pulls up on the bottom drawer in the kitchen and can pull it open to get to the measuring cups. She even climbed up Lucy's 2-step step stool recently. I had originally thought she'd be an early walker, but I'm starting to think she'll be right on track with Lucy and walk right around her 1st birthday.

We bought Lucy a high-back booster last week, so Lena moved into Lucy's convertible carseat (rear-facing of course).

She has started to show a little bit of a temper. Haha. This is a video I took of her one night getting mad at the Elmo phone. Every time she closed it, she got so mad that she couldn't get it back open - complete with fist clenching and shaking. Haha.

She loves to dance, and gets excited every time she hears music. 

She's still obsessed with me. Although I made it through the whole service at church yesterday for the first time in months! She usually doesn't make it much longer than half an hour in nursery. I'm planning on Black Friday shopping and will be working a 6 hour shift at the dollar store on Saturday, so we'll see how that goes! (Pray for Justin!)

She crawls on her hands and knees for short distances. If she wants to go far or fast, she flops on her belly to army crawl.

Still no teeth in sight! At her doctor's appointment a couple weeks ago, the doctor said it doesn't look like she's even close to getting teeth! Haha. Welcome to a lifetime of late maturing, my dear. 

She is silly and crazy and makes the funniest noises and faces. We love her so much!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. I've been getting some great deals online shopping for Christmas. Mostly for Lucy. I have absolutely no ideas for Lena. She has all Lucy's old toys to play with! And I just realized (duh) that her birthday is a month after Christmas, so I need to be buying stuff for that too! Second child syndrome.

2. I posted the baked French toast recipe from last week here. Mmmmm. So yummy.

3. Lucy and I had kind of a rough week. She is entering the whiny phase with a vengeance. I need to nip it in the bud, but I'm kind of at a loss. It's not just a whiny voice. It's this teeth-clenching, mind-numbing, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard fake cry that goes on and on and on. One day this week, we went to the dollar store 5 minutes from our house. 1 mile down the road she said, "I forgot to bring my balloon!" (She wanted to bring her balloon in the car with her.) When I refused to go back and get it, she cried the rest of the way to the store, the whole time we shopped, and the whole way home. Grrrrr. It makes me crazy. She seriously cries more than Lena does.

4. By Friday I was desperate to find something for her to do while I cleaned the house so I didn't have to listen to any more whining! I had pinned this indoor sand idea a while ago, and decided to try it out. It's just 5 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil. Ours was a little clumpier than the picture in the pin, but Lucy loved it, and it kept her entertained for almost an hour. Win!
This activity does come with a warning: Be prepared to sweep the floor and wash whatever clothes your child is wearing. Dark jeans not recommended. Haha.

5. I went to the eye doctor this week and found out I have large pupils. The doctor said that means I have a lot of positive energy. He was being totally serious. Wow. Go me!

6. I've been trying to think of a good idea for our Christmas card this year. I want something cute and clever. Too bad we don't have 3 kids. Maybe I could do Justin in the middle with a kid on each side. Ha!
Photo Credit
I wonder if I'm talented enough to do this with Lena. What could Lucy be?
The Pinterest source. Not true photo credit, but close.
7. We had a girls' night last night while our friend Becky is in town. We decided to stay close to home and do the Shop Sparta event. All the local businesses were having sales, there was a Christmas tree lighting, a bake sale, free hot chocolate and popcorn, and the best part . . . free trolley rides! Justin had to work late, so I had the girls with me. Lucy is obsessed with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on PBS, so I knew she'd be thrilled to ride a real-life trolley!
It was loud.
Much happier once we were on board.
She loved it, and kept saying, "This is so fun!"

Stay tuned for Lena's 10 month update later today!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amazing Baked French Toast (Dairy Free!)

Here is the promised French Toast recipe from Jesus' Birthday Party. I got it from my friend Kelly who got it from her mother-in-law. You know it's gonna be good when it gets passed around that often. :-)

2 sticks of butter* 
2-3 loaves of French Bread (I used 2 really long loaves.)
2 cups brown sugar
2 heaping tsp cinnamon
6 eggs
3 cups of milk*

1. Use 2 cookie sheet with sides. On each cookie sheet spread one stick of softened butter. It will be lumpy
2. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle mixture on top of buttered cookie sheets
3. Mix eggs and milk. Cut French bread in 1" slices. Dunk bread slices in egg mixture, making sure both sides of the bread are covered. Arrange bread slices on cookie sheets
4. Refrigerate overnight
5. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Flip bread slices and bake 10 additional minutes
6. Serve and Enjoy!

*I used Earth Balance butter (almost a whole container - enough to cover the bottom of each pan) and Silk Vanilla Almond Milk. It was delicious!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Jesus!

It's that time of year again! Time for our annual Birthday Party for Jesus! I started this tradition with Lucy and her friends when they were 18 months old. This was our 3rd year. We've added more kids and more chaos, but it just adds to the fun! This year was special because we combined the party with the Merry Larry party I won from!

We got sent an awesome kit full of goodies to share. It had the Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas DVD, a Veggie Tales Christmas CD, plates, cups, napkins, silly bands, stickers, tattoos, and some fun face masks. I had a blast incorporating Bob and Larry into our party.

Lucy helped me fill the goodie bags a few days ago:
Then we decorated:
Lucy picked out the pink tablecloth. Haha.
I got pretty good at drawing Bob and Larry faces!
Yes, I drew all those faces. Please admire my incredible artistic ability! ;-)
We made some delicious dairy free cupcakes. (Recipe here. I substituted earth balance butter.) Lucy helped me make toppers with the stickers from our packet.

Since our party was at 9 am, we had breakfast!
Please forgive my horrendous photography skills.
In the past couple years of doing this, I've learned not to make the food super elaborate. I'm not much of a cook, having a lot to do stresses me out, and the kids don't care! This year, we had amazing dairy-free baked French Toast. I'll post the recipe soon. It had to refrigerate overnight, so I made it last night, then stuck it in the oven this morning - perfect! We also had sausage, grapes, and bananas. That's it. Easy and delicious!

Finally, all our friends came over and it was time to party!!!
This is what a group picture with 11 kids looks like. Haha. This was the best of many.
Trying on the silly masks.
After breakfast, we had craft time. I'm always looking for some kind of craft to reiterate the real meaning of the season. I found this one on pinterest. 
It was an awesome free download!
Luke, Justin, and I spent an evening cutting out all the pieces, and Lucy put 9 popsicle sticks and a gluestick in each bag. 

It was a little too time consuming for the little kids who just wanted to get down and play, but it was fun for a couple minutes. Haha.

Afterward, I read the nativity story while the kids acted it out with their puppets:

Finally, we got to watch Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas!

In the movie, Larry and his friends work together to help an old lady who lost her house. The theme of the movie is service, so we decided to do a little service project of our own. Next week is national collection week for Operation Christmas Child. They're pairing with Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty and Merry Larry from Veggie Tales to reach kids all over the world!
Click Here for more Information
We wanted to do our part, as well, so everyone brought a couple little things to put in our shoebox. Look what we ended up with!
So thankful for generous friends!
We ended the party by singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, blowing out his candles for him and digging into those delicious cupcakes!

Thanks everyone for coming out and having fun with us! And thanks houseparty for the goodies!! Happy birthday, Jesus!

The Saturday 7

1. I took both girls to the doctor this week. They both checked out totally healthy, but they couldn't be more different size-wise. Lena was 27.5" (35%) and 16 lbs (19%). Lucy was 39" (80%) and 31 lbs. (41%).

2. I decided to change up our "homeschool" schedule this week. I think we're going to do the alphabet one day, numbers one day, and the Bible story one day. Ideally, we'll work on our verse every day, but I'm not always super faithful with that. 

3. This was on facebook, but I need to record it here too:
On the way home from the doctor today, we saw a deer on top of someone's truck. (Opening Day here in MI, just FYI) Lucy and I had a little chat about how the deer got up there. She proceeded to tell the story as follows: "a reindeer was running in the woods and a guy shot him and put him on his car to bring him home. I think the reindeer's name was Rudolph." Fast forward to tonight: We're making cupcakes and talking about how you should never touch the stove. Lucy says, "If I touched the stove, I might die. And then you'd have to put me on top of the car." ROFL!!!! Love that kid.

4. I started some Christmas shopping this week! I'm not sure we're even going to go Black Friday shopping this year. Unthinkable! From what I've seen of the ads online, I haven't found too much I have to have. I've gotten some great deals online already. It's going to be difficult for me to leave Lena anyway. We'll see . . .

5. I loved all the "things you might not know about me" posts on facebook. Of course I did one, but I thought of another I should've added: the reason I blog is because I'm socially awkward in person. Haha. I love the people can get to know me by stalking me, and then we have a jumping-off point when we meet in person.  I'm just terrible at small talk or thinking up things to talk about. I need time to think, write, and edit my thoughts. This is pretty much me in a nutshell:
I did the bottom left at the doctor's office yesterday!
6. On Monday, I took the girls to Meijer. As we were waiting in line, I noticed Lucy was wearing American Eagle jeans, a Northface sweatshirt, Ugg boots, and Lena had her Columbia jacket on. I bet I got real judged when I swiped my WIC card. But honestly, all of that stuff was gifts - and they're all from Once Upon a Child. Just goes to show how we should be careful about judging . . .

7. Today was our annual Jesus' Birthday Party! We combined it with the Merry Larry party that I won through They want you to host on a specific day, hence the reason we had it so early this year. It was a blast as usual! I'm about to write an epic blog post about it. Stay tuned. :-) 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Saturday 7

1. I had such a nice weekend at retreat. I missed a few sessions, and didn't hang out as much with everyone else thanks to Lena, but I greatly enjoyed the relaxation. I also enjoyed someone else making all my meals and the escape from (most of) my usual responsibilities. Lena was so good all weekend, and I'm pretty sure we got more sleep than we've ever gotten at retreat before. (6 hours a night! That's unheard of!) Lena's friend Josie was there with her mom, Amanda. It was fun to compare the girls in person. Lena is 2 months older, but you sure wouldn't know it!

I came back from retreat so excited to see Lucy and Justin, and feeling refreshed and ready to get back to my routine. Just what I needed.

2. I finally got Lena on a 4 hour breastfeeding schedule this week!! It only took 9 months! Haha. I've been really trying to give her at least 2 meals a day of real food. She usually eats a big breakfast (one day this week she ate a whole waffle!) and then a couple small meals of whatever I can find. Her 9 month doctor's appointment is Tuesday. I can't wait to see how she measures. My little shrimp.

3. One day this week I was giving the girls baths and noticing how terrible Lena's cradle cap is getting. I did a quick google search for "cradle cap treatments," saw someone wrote something about coconut oil, so I decided to slap some on Lena's head. I didn't read any instructions or do any further research. First mistake. Haha. Second mistake: I took a huge glob, smeared it all over Lena's scalp, and when Lucy said she wanted some too, I rubbed some on her head as well. I rinsed it out, washed their hair as usual and didn't think anything of it. A couple hours later I got Lena up from her nap and wondered why her hair was still wet. It wasn't wet. It was horribly greasy. 
Lol - this was hours after the bath. Her hair felt like it had been doused in pomade. I could do anything with it!
And despite the massive scrubbing I did with a fine tooth comb, her cradle cap was still just as bad:

I will say, though, that after a few days of the coconut oil soaking into her scalp, the cradle cap is looking much better. I washed her hair with Dawn dish soap yesterday and it helped a lot. Whew! :-)

4. Justin worked 51 hours in 5 days this week. I'm grateful he's such a hard worker and earning us some extra cash for Christmas, but we missed him! Yesterday by 8:30 am, I was sitting on the couch in a daze, Lucy was on her 8th episode of Woody Woodpecker, and she and Lena were sharing goldfish for breakfast. Mama needed a break. Thankfully Kelly, Presley, and Harper were free to come over and play. They stayed all day and Lucy and Presley played so nicely together. It was wonderful!!

5. I tried to teach Lucy about the plagues this week. It was the first time since I've started teaching her Bible lessons that she really got confused and I didn't know what to tell her. Haha. I'm going to do a whole post about it soon, but honestly I don't blame her for being confused. 

L: Why did God turn the water to blood?
Me: Cuz the King didn't obey God.
L: I obey God.
Me: That's good, but even if you don't, God won't turn our water into blood.

I tried to explain that a lamb had to die to protect the firstborn during passover. Similarly Jesus died to pay for our sins. That was waaaaaay over her head, and now she's just confused about how Jesus fits into the Moses narrative. We watched another part of Prince of Egypt today and she kept asking, "Is this the part where Jesus dies?" I just pray that she remembers what's important and forgets everything else! Haha.

6.  Lucy and I started listening to Christmas music this week! I love having spotify this year so I can pick and choose which songs I want to listen to. We've been rocking out!

7. I've also been trying to decide what we're going to do leading up to Christmas this year. Last year I made an awesome Advent calendar (if I do say so myself ;-) ). I want to try something different this year, but I'm totally overwhelmed with the possibilities. Here's just one blog I found with ideas. Pinterest has about a million and twelve more. And I totally failed with Thanksgiving. Last year we did 30 Days of Thankfulness. It's already November 9 and I haven't even thought about it. Oy. How was I so much more productive when I was 8 months pregnant? I guess having the baby inside was easier than having her out. Haha. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Saturday 7: Advance Edition!

I'm leaving for Ladies' Retreat tonight, so you get a special advance-edition of the Saturday 7!

1. I always talk up my Halloween costume in the Saturday 7, but then I post the pictures on facebook and they never make it on the blog. Let's remedy that this year:
We were Flo and Mayhem! Apparently Flo is a pretty popular costume, because Progressive's website has all the logos ready to download and print. Easy peasy! Didn't Esther do a great job on my hair and make up? It took me days to get my hair back to normal! Haha.

We had so much fun with our small group that night. We played a new game called Telestrations. It's a cross between Telephone and Pictionary, and the result was hilarious. I'm bringing it to Ladies' Retreat. :-)

3. The girls loved Halloween, too. Lucy picked out her own costume at Once Upon a Child. It's actually Cherry Blossom, but she thought it was Strawberry Shortcake, so we let it slide. ;-) And my mom found this awesome Little Red Riding Hood costume from Once Upon as well. (She also found a matching one for Lucy, but try as I might I couldn't get Lucy to give up on Strawberry Shortcake!)
Lucy had been counting down the days 'til Halloween, and she was so excited to go Trick or Treating. It was a cold, windy night, but both girls did great! I carried Lena in the Ergo so I could keep her under the umbrella. Lucy carried an umbrella for a while, but she got pretty drenched. At least it wasn't freezing cold!

3. I'm still struggling to get Lena to eat many vegetables. But I decided to capitalize on her love of bread and make her a green bean sandwich. Haha. I just slapped some green bean puree on bread, folded it in half and broke it up into little pieces for her. She gobbled it right down! Veggie sandwiches are about to become a staple in her diet. I also made these spinach muffins this week. I haven't given her one yet, but since it's bread-like I anticipate it will be a big success!
I also gave her applesauce for the first time this week. She ate the whole jarful. (Baby food jar.) She's never eaten a whole jar of anything I've tried to spoon feed her. But I've never spoon fed her fruit. Apparently that makes all the difference! (So my child.)

4. We took the week off of "homeschool" this week. I read on some Christian homeschooling blog, that they do 7 weeks, then take a break just like God rested on the 7th day. Yeah. That's what we did, too. Haha. (More like, I was busy this week and never got around to doing anything!)

5. Lucy learned about chores/being helpful at church on Sunday. I've been wanting to give her some responsibilities, and this was the perfect kickstart. I decided that her job will be to feed and water Lola every day. She loves it. She checks Lola's dishes periodically throughout the day to make sure she doesn't need any more. I'm going to have to keep an eye on her, or Lola's going to get real fat, and we're going to go broke buying cat food! Haha. Yesterday, she kept asking me for more chores. So she swiffered the floor, emptied some old macaroni out of tupperware into the trash, washed a few measuring cups, and took the laundry out of the dryer for me. I hope she always desires to be so helpful. :-)

6. I wrote here about her failed rest times and got a lot of great advice. I decided just to be firm and tell her that I would not respond to her screaming - even at the risk of waking up Lena. The first day, she started screaming 10 minutes after I put her down. But eventually I realized she just had to go potty. Now we have a rule that she can play in her room, read books, or listen to CDs as long as she's quiet. And if she has to go potty, she can just come down and go without asking. She loves that freedom, and so far hasn't abused it. I also put a clock in her room and tell her every day when she can come down (When the big hand gets to the 12, etc.) She did remarkably well the rest of the week. Woohoo! I'm still mourning those 3 hour naps, but rejoicing in the 1 hour of peace. I'll take what I can get. ;-)

7. So I have another puking story to share. My mom bought some candy earlier this week and I let Lucy have one fun-sized Almond Joy. She took one bite and literally minutes later started crying that her belly hurt, ran to the bathroom, and puked up everything she'd eaten since dinner. Immediately afterwards, she was totally fine and ran out to the living room to tell everyone, "I puked out my nose!"  So I looked at the ingredients in the Almond Joy. There was "less than 2% soybean oil" in the chocolate. Do you think that little really could affect her so quickly? Am I going to have to check every candy bar for soybean oil from now on? She'd also had some questionable (expired) yogurt a couple hours earlier. And I'm not sure she's ever had coconut either, so I supposed it could have been that as well. Oy. For now, it went in the "Puke Journal" and we'll see what the future brings!
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