Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 New Year's Resolution

Have you ever had a relationship that repeatedly failed no matter how much you invested in it? One that you feel you gave it your best shot, and for some reason it just never worked out? You tried giving it distance and still got burned in the end?

Valentine's Day 2012
This is my relationship with Babies "R" Us. No joke. Their employees are always incredibly nice and try to be helpful, but time after time I get burned there. On December 31st, 2011 when E was less than a month old, I walked out of the store and solemnly vowed to not shop there in 2012. That was my one and only New Year's resolution. I held strong until October when we decided we really needed to go order the bed rails to convert E's crib into a full size bed before they decided to discontinue it and we were left with a headboard and footboard and matching dresser but no bed rails. Seemed logical enough and a valid reason to break my oath, and they were on sale. Plus, E is in a phase where she is not really into her crib hates her crib with a passion, and being able to convert it will help us feel like we're still able to get our money's worth out of it. So in mid-October Chou and I walked into the store for the first time in 2012 and ordered the rails. We were told they'd take up to three months (or something like that) to come in. No big deal. We're not in a hurry

So the week of Christmas they came in. Seriously?! We had seven days to pick them up, and didn't have a single day we could get them due to Christmas festivities and travelling, so we called to have them hold them an extra few days. We planned to pick them up on Saturday, but it snowed and we didn't want to waste E's first chance to experience snow worrying about bed rails. We called to delay again. No problem, they'll hold them til Monday. So this morning my parents swapped cars with us so we could use their van to get the rails. We ran into the store, loaded them up, and headed home. Chou pulled into an open street spot in front of the house and I reached behind my seat for my purse and caught a glimpse of the box. I wanted to scream. On the end of the box is written "French White". That would be lovely if E's crib were white. But it's not. They ordered the wrong ones. It's a special order and not returnable. 

I kid you not. I cannot win with this store. Ever!

I unbuckled E from her car seat and unloaded the van while Chou called the store. Chou was way more kind and gracious than I could have mustered at that moment, and after a rather long conversation, he assures me they'll fix it. They are out of stock in the warehouse right now so they can't be ordered yet (of course!) but when they come in, they'll order them, and in something like three months they'll be here and we can exchange the white ones for the espresso brown rails we want.

Good thing we weren't in a hurry :)

So for 2013, I think I'll stick with my resolve and realize that this relationship just won't work out. And maybe by Easter E will have the bed we bought in October...

May 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fun with the camera... and lights!

We've had such a wonderful holiday season, and have truly enjoyed having Chou off from work for more than Christmas day and New Years day, and we've packed a lot into this month. We've celebrated the birth of Christ as well as Chou, E, and my grandmother, baked dozens of cookies to share, attended several Christmas parties, hosted Christmas Eve dinner, shopped/made and wrapped countless gifts, visited with relatives near and far, learned a few family recipes, ate way too much, frolicked in snow, enjoyed one of our all-time favorite sermon series at church, and we have enjoyed every minute! However there are still a few things we're trying to sneak into the last few days of vacation time. I've been meaning to let E play with Christmas lights and snap a few fun pictures for the past several weeks, but with all that's been going on it just happened this past weekend :)  We're also making handprint and thumbprint salt dough ornaments tomorrow on New Year's Eve. Better late than never! They'll still serve their purpose: next year we'll unwrap them to hang on the tree and marvel at how small E was a year ago. Pretty sure she hasn't grown that much in the past few weeks. But I digress.

Last year my due date with E was December 2nd, and everyone who heard my due date said, "Oh, fun, a Christmas baby!" As a mama who was ready to have this baby as soon as possible, I hated these comments! I was due one week after Thanksgiving and three and a half weeks before Christmas. I was not having a Christmas baby! She did indeed arrive one week after Thanksgiving and didn't make me wait til the 25th (thanks, baby girl!) This year, however, I'll embrace my December baby as a Christmas baby and have extra fun with all the decorations and lights :) Here are a few of my favorite shots of my one year old!

And here's my favorite. Mostly because I tried repeatedly to get some pics with the hat and she kept taking it off and throwing it to the ground. As soon as I forgot about the hat, sat it next to her and let her be, she put it on herself and I snapped this :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012


One of these days I'll get around to documenting Christmas, but until then...

It snowed today! We had a nice dusting on Christmas Eve, but we didn't get to go out in it so this was E's first time experiencing the snow. She kept pointing out the window at the flurries during lunch, so afterwards we set out to enjoy it.

E (thankfully!) got a snowsuit for Christmas :) Excellent timing! She hated it, but promptly got over it once we were outside. She loved the snowflakes! She like tasting the snow, making terrible faces, and going back for more. She didn't mind the cold one bit. Chou's dreams of endless father/daughter snowboarding just might be fulfilled in a few years.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pear, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Salad

Chou made this recipe for Thanksgiving and I loved it! It's simple, refreshing, and satisfying. We found a wonderful goat cheese rolled in dried cranberries at Central Market that worked really well in this. Alternately, you could use any tangy goat cheese and add in craisins if you'd like.

Pear, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Honey Lime Vinaigrette:
Juice from 2 limes, approx 2 oz. total
1 teaspoon mustard
2 tablespoons raw honey
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

To make vinaigrette, combine lime juice, mustard, and honey. While whisking vigorously, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Set aside.

3 ripe pears, cored and sliced thinly
1/4 to 1/2 lb goat cheese with craisins, crumbled
1/2 cup English walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 cups arugula
4 cups spinach

Combine all salad ingredients. Serve immediately with vinaigrette.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Favorite Things Fridays - Christmas Season

I love Christmas. Always have. Hopefully always will.

There's something magical about the whole community decorating and celebrating and giving and eating. It's nearly impossible to be grumpy when the tree is lit up, the house is decorated, and Christmas music is streaming.

I have some amazing memories of Christmas. My grandparents always came and stayed with us for a few days, so Kristin and I would give up our beds and camp out on Kath's floor on Christmas Eve. We had so much trouble getting to sleep, and had a habit of checking the window every thirty seconds to see if it was snowing yet. Eventually we'd drift off to sleep, and wake up to Dad waiting to see our faces as we ran downstairs to view the tree and all the presents. We'd will the clock to tick faster so we could wake the rest of the household. Every year we'd start by digging into Poppop's breakfast bread as he complained it was too underdone/overdone/not-as-good-as-last-year despite the fact that it was almost always even better than we remembered. We'd read the original Christmas story from Luke before tearing into presents and spending the remainder of the day listening to carols and putting together the puzzle we'd received. Then a few days later we'd pile into the van and drive to Jersey to do it all over again with the other side of the family. Christmas was, and still is, the only holiday that we get to see both sides of the family, and living two hours from both sets of grandparents made seeing them that much more exciting and memorable.

In all the cheer and excitement, we've been trying to take time to remember why we celebrate. It's so cliche, but it's so important! Our Life Group has been talking about the importance of remembering and how knowing where you came from is so vital to knowing where you're headed in the future. As we continue childhood traditions and add a few of our own, we'll continue to search for ways to focus on Christ coming to earth, on our Heavenly Father giving the ultimate gift. 

Getting the ornaments out

Decorating the tree

Coziest spot in the house

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just playing with the camera

One Sunday afternoon in mid-November, we headed to a nearby park with baby and camera in tow. We didn't get any smiles (my mom friends warn me it will be another 3-5 years before she willingly smiles for the camera again...) but we got some fun shots. Enjoy!

Daddy likes this one. Perfect snowboarding form right there!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Year Full of Teddy Bear Pictures

This past year we had a lot of fun measuring E's growth next to a teddy bear. Starting when she was born, we took a picture every month on the same chair, sitting with the same bear. It's been fun to see her growth and how her features and expressions have changed over the past year. Some months we captured better expressions than others, but that's the joy of life with a baby :)

It's so hard to believe that the bear was actually bigger than her in the first few pictures.

She's still such a peanut, but she really has grown. If you look closely, you'll notice she's in the exact same dress in her 3 month and 12 month pictures. She hasn't grown too much :)

Here are our favorites from every month:

*age in months

I plan to keep taking these every year on her birthday :) 

Thanks to Shelby Blevins Photography for months 0 and 3! I'm still in love with the picture of her yawning.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Favorite Things Friday - Moby Wrap

Growing up, I was always that annoying kid who would stalk moms of infants in hopes of getting to hold the baby :) There is just something magical about snuggling a little one. Some of my most distinct memories of babysitting in middle and high school are of me rocking babies to sleep. There's just something so precious about helping a little one settle and relax into a peaceful sleep. I love it!

Before having E, I hadn't really thought much about parenting, or what methods we would or wouldn't use. However, rocking my own babies to sleep was something I was incredibly excited to experience. We completed her little nursery with the wooden rocking chair my parents had used for me and my sisters. Everything was perfect!

And then E came home :)

What I wasn't counting on was a little six pound baby who woke up screaming uncontrollably the minute she went from peacefully sleeping in your arms to being gently laid in any crib or seat. It was like a switch would go off and she'd be awake and angry. If we picked her back up right away, she'd go back to sleeping peacefully. (Upon further reading, I think we may have had better luck if we had waited a little longer after she was asleep to lay her down. It can take 20-30 minutes for newborns to get into a deep sleep.)

When she was four days old, I reconsidered my need for a baby carrier, and bought a Moby wrap.

Best. Decision. Ever.

We could tuck her into the Moby, rock her to sleep just by doing normal, everyday activities, and she'd take naps and stay asleep while we had two free hands and could still be productive. She would stay warm, her breathing regulated by ours, and she'd stay content. We could have the benefit of holding her a little extra while still being able to function. It was wonderful!

Baking Christmas Cookies, Dec 2011
At three or four months old, E started napping in her crib when we'd lay her down, but she still loves to be held while sleeping. 

Even now, if I tell Chou she had an off day, his response is, "oh, didn't you use the Moby?" It really is a lifesaver! And now that she's a little older, she gets really excited when she sees me getting it out. Last week she started clapping when she saw me wrapping it. And right now she's catching a nap in it after my vacuuming lulled her to sleep :)

And now that we've been rocking E to sleep for a year, I still love that time with her :) Unfortunately, she prefers that time with her daddy over me. I nurse her to sleep regularly, but if she wants to be rocked to sleep she wants her daddy every time. I love how much they love each other!

More often than not, E is not the only one to end up asleep :)
If you're considering a baby carrier, make sure it has great hip support like the Moby. I had no idea this was necessary when I bought the Moby, but have since learned and thought I'd pass the info along. Here's a link  showing things to look for in carriers and seats.

You can find more benefits of babywearing are listed here and here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Stockings

I spent all Christmas season last year on the prowl for adorable and affordable Christmas stockings. We didn't do stockings growing up, but I love the idea of filling them with practical items or a few special treats. I want to start the tradition for E, so after a season of coming up empty handed I decided to sew my own this year.

I found adorable fabric at a local store and decided to go with this pattern. I made two red and two green stockings. I added a lining of an inexpensive off-white muslin.

To cut the solid colored main fabric for the boot of the stocking, I folded it in half, front sides facing, pinned the pattern on top and cut (pattern A/B). I did the same for the white lining (pattern A/B), the front and back cuffs in the ivy print (pattern C), and the solid colored loop (pattern D).

I sewed the main fabric for the boot, right sides together, leaving the top entirely open and unstitched. I then turned it right side out, using a chopstick to open up the toe.

I sewed the white lining fabric, right sides together, leaving an opening in the heel that was about 3 inches and left the top entirely open and unstitched. I left it inside out.

I sewed the cuffs, right sides together, and top opened. I then turned them right side out, using a chopstick to poke all the points out.

I made the loops lined as well just to add strength. I sewed two pieces the same color as the boot wrong sides together, then folded it in half lengthwise and sewed the edge down, and then turned it right side out and ironed it open and in half to create the loop.

To assemble, I pinned the front and back cuffs to the boot.

Then I put the pinned boot, cuffs and all, into the inside out lining like this, creating a stocking with the right sides facing each other:

I pinned all the edges together, added the folded loop, folded side down toward the heel, just under the lining layer, and sewed the whole way around the top.

It looked like this:

Then I pulled the green fabric out through the 3" hole in the heel like this:

I worked all the green fabric out and then worked on getting the lining right side out. And I ended up with this:

I hand sewed the hole closed.

And then tucked the lining into the boot and had an adorable lined stocking!

Then I made three more :)

E and I bought some real garland from a local store.

 Later, we checked all the lights. We have a grand total of one working strand. I guess we're buying new Christmas lights this year.

Since we lack a mantle, we hung the stockings by the railing. Not quite as poetic, but it works :)