Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our New Place- Week 1

It's our first week in our new place. So far we are enjoying the new space. It definitely has it's quirks, but we're working to find creative solutions for them. Today I'm posting pictures of each room at the "work in progress" stage. 

All our books are still in boxes in our closets (we put them in the closets because they were blocking our walkways.) Once we make a decision about wether or not to keep our monster white bookshelf, then we can either shelve them there or get new bookshelves so we can use our storage space to actually store stuff :)
The kitchen is going to be the hardest room to organize. There is a lot less cabinet space than I anticipated, so I need some help finding the most efficient setup.  I'll also probably end up buying a free standing storage of some kind. 




The living room is also going to be tricky. We think it's going to be necessary to part with one piece of furniture. We aren't sure which one yet. Once we choose, we'll most likely be moving the glider in here where it will take up less space and accent the color scheme nicely. 
 Yes, that is John and Marlena on the TV. And no, we do not watch Days. I swear! I just turned it on and it was already on that channel from the morning news.
 See what I mean about it being a little tight in here?
 Not sure what I'm going to do with the mantel. I'm thinking I'll paint the mirror white and hang it above.
 Remember these lanterns? I finally got around to painting them, but the white is kind of blah. The fireplace is disgusting even after lots of scrubbing. I think I'm going to find a way to detach the metal curtains and leave it open with some decor inside. we don't like wood burning fire places because of the smoke.
That red box is filled with my bakeware that has no place to go right now. I eventually want to have a coat rack and hang my in/out box here. 

This is the biggest bedroom space we've ever had! I love the big window because without blackout shades, it gets me going in the morning. I have some ideas for curtains and accent colors but it will be a while since this will be my last room to subdue.
This is the only bedroom that my hope chest has not overcrowded.
 The corner shelf is nice, but will have to go to make room for the treadmill.
 
This is the only room where we can fit the treadmill. It definitely isn't sexy, but it's functional and I can work with that until we have a multipurpose room one day. 

I really needed Ava's room to be fully functional asap, so I got to work on it Monday and I'm enjoying the fruits of my labor. I still need to delete the coffee table that we're using for a changing table ...
 And move the dresser to a different wall ...
 And organize the closet ...
Even so, it's the closest room in the apartment to being finished. 
The bathroom is just depressing. It's blindingly white and dingy and in need of a really creative storage solution. I have no idea what to do with it yet. 


So there it is. My goal is to update my weekly progress until I've whipped this place into shape. I would love your ideas and suggestions for making our new home beautiful and functional!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Want to Hear a Joke?

I'm washing my sheets for the second time this week. Ava had the biggest poopy diaper of her life in bed with me this morning. I still haven't figured out a contingency plan for that kind of poopy disaster. Poop up to my elbows, on the sheets, all over Ava. What do you clean first? I went with my arm, then Ava, then the sheets, then Ava again. 

All that poop reminded me of the joke about the two brothers. Do you know the one I'm talking about? One brother, a pessimist, asked for a room full of toys for Christmas. The other, an optimist, asked for a pony. On Christmas morning the pessimist awoke to a room full of toys just like he'd wanted, only the batteries were not included so it was the "worst Christmas ever!" The optimist, on the other hand, awoke to a room full of poop. He grabbed his shovel and started digging because, "with all this poop, there's got to be a pony in here somewhere!" 

As a mom, I can choose to be one of those two boys when we have an epic mess like this morning. And thankfully this morning I grabbed my proverbial shovel and started digging because all that poop was just evidence of how blessed I am to have Ava to be able to stay at home with her. 

Which leads to me think about my friends who had the same kind of morning but only after cleaning up themselves, the baby and the sheets had to put on their makeup and head out the door to their 9-5 job. You are amazing mommies and I pray God continues to give you extra strength and grace as you work both at home and away. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Update

BeBe (my mom) is coming to visit this week! She hasn't seen Ava since she came to visit when Ava was born. We're all excited. We're going to keep the trip simple since Mom will probably just want to cuddle with Ava the whole time. I'm hoping to get a little decorating and organizing help from her in between cuddle sessions. Mom's a huge fan of Biaggi's Italian restaraunt and Wholefoods cafe, so I'm sure we'll hit those up as well.
Ava started eating solids this weekend. It was kind of a big deal around here. Since her 4 month Well Baby appointment 3 weeks ago, I've been planning on making rice cereal and starting her on solids. Making rice cereal isn't that hard. You just grind brown rice in the blender until it's a powder and cook it with water for 10 minutes. But even though it isn't that hard, I just couldn't muster the will to actually do it. I made it easy on myself and just picked up some organic rice cereal at the grocery store. I'm increasingly becoming less hardcore the longer I have Ava and the less I sleep. 
video

This Sunday our pastor is going to be out of town, so in lieu of a sermon a few of us will be sharing our Grassroots stories. Brian and I are going to be talking about what it means to be the church as opposed to going to church, something God used Grassroots to really bring home for us. I'm thankful for the opportunity because this topic has been especially close to my heart lately. Next week I'll plan to share a summary of our story with you and maybe I'll have some pictures from Sunday as well. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What I Love About Moving

You know what I love about moving? It's certainly not the packing. Not the cleaning the old house and the new house. Not having to bribe and beg your friends and family to help. Although I do enjoy all the purging I do before a move. When I give away a box or bag to Goodwill, I get a type-A organizational high. But that's not what I'm talking about.

What I love about moving is the motivation to make our new place more beautiful and functional than the last. I have ridiculously detailed plans for every room (even the teeny, tiny bathroom) in our new apartment. 

Since we are saving on the new apartment, I have a little bit of an initial decorating/organizing budget. I'm going to try use to as little of it as possible on actual decorating so we can do something fun for both of us like a new TV. 

One of my besties is moving too. Fortunately she is moving before me, so I can rummage through all her goodwill castoffs from her move. Today while helping her with some last minute moving I accquired:

Two black lamps that are big enough to actually provide light in the living room and are my style (I'll need to paint these to blend into my lighter color scheme and get new shades since these a little banged up)
Three small red metal lanterns that will look awesome above my fire place (also will need to paint)
A large Monet flower print that will tie all my living room colors together (I'll need to frame it, so I'll keep an eye out for Hobby Lobby's 1/2 off framing sale)
So these are my "free finds" for the new place. Can't wait to get started on their transformation!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Transforming

If we are in Christ we are going to be continually transforming from our old selves to our new selves by His grace. Sometimes the changes are dramatic and rapid and sometimes they are subtle and slow. Today, I'm rejoicing over one of those subtle and slow changes in my life and I thought I'd share it with you so you could rejoice too. 

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember my post about taking over our budget and how I spent the first year of our marriage freaking out about money. Money is one of those things that brings out the true condition of my heart. I'm happy if the budget is in balance and all of our bills are paid on time and there are no unexpected expenses. If one of those things go awry, I'm depressed and sulking. 

So normally when an unexpected expense crops up I feel cheated. The money I had intended for something else (it could be as small as a latte or as big as new dining room table) must now go to this hugely inconvenient unexpected expense. Or even worse, when I feel the Lord asking me to give money to someone or something I feel the same way. 

For a long time now, I've practiced preaching the truth to myself in these circumstances: "Ashley, you can give this money/pay this unexpected expense gladly because your money is not yours, it's God's. He knew _______ would break and need to be repaired or He choose to meet this person's need through you." But no matter how much I told myself this truth, my heart still felt all those nasty selfish feelings. Until recently ...

We've had some small unexpected expenses the past couple months. The kind that would normally send me into a tantrum (just being honest, people. I never said it was pretty). But instead of going berserk over a 12.00 charge, I let it go knowing it's only 12 bucks and God is taking care of all our needs and a lot of our wants. 

Well on Monday evening, I was leaving the apartment to make a cookie run when my car died in the parking lot. No warning. Just died. I tried to restart it to no avail. So I called Brian to come out and work with the car while I sprinted back in to be with Ava. 

And not once did the repair costs cross my mind. I don't know if it will cost 100.00 or 1000.00 to fix the problem, but I'm still not sulking and I don't feel cheated. And believe me, there are a lot of things on my wish list that will have to be pushed back because of this unexpected expense. But it's okay because my money isn't really mine anyway. Neither is my car. It's all God's and I finally believe it in my heart as well as my head.  Let's hope this transformation sticks when I get the bill from the mechanic ;)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Soup

Two of my girlfriends and I had a Harvest Tea last week. Ava slept through our actual tea time, so I was able to enjoy real tea cups and adult conversation. I tried to keep it classy by using my cloth napkins and not talking about poop. 

I contributed pumpkin soup for our Harvest themed entree. I read a few different recipes and adapted them to fit what I had and it turned out great. I'm thinking about bringing this to Thanksgiving dinner. 
Harvest Tea Pumpkin Soup
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 1-¼ teaspoon Curry Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Ground Coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper (more To Taste)
  • 3 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 can Pumpkin (15-16 Oz, Solid Pack)
  • 1 or a little more cups half and half
  • a pinch red chili pepper paste
Melt butter and saute onions and garlic until golden brown. Add spices and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Add pumpkin, stirring till smooth. Add half and half. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes. Puree. I pureed mine with an immersion blender. It wasn't as smooth as I prefer, so next time I'll probably go to the trouble of putting in the blender. 

In other news, Ava is rolling both from front to back and back to front. She is a very vocal baby, talking and cooing and squealing a lot. We love it. Except when we're trying to watch Psych (it's impossible to hear over her jabbering.) So we turn off the TV, thankful for the reminder that these early months fly by, and just enjoy her. 
We are moving November 1st. We've been trying to relocate to an area here called Cragmoor. This is one of the areas of the city that our church is trying to reach, so we've been praying and looking at apartments there for a while. Last week we found one that will not only meet our space needs (unless you count my need for my own bathroom and an excessive amount of storage), but also will allow us to save pay Sallie Mae a nice chunk of money every month. 

Since we are saving on rent, I'm going to have a decorating budget! I've got most of my paint colors picked out. If you have any paint suggestions or tips, I'd love to hear them. 


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

7AM Grocery Trip

I have found a new way to buy groceries. This is a big deal people! Grocery shopping is the single hardest part of my week. Ava is no longer napping in public, so taking her on a grocery trip means sacrificing a nap and having to shlep her and bags of groceries in the house. It's a nightmare. If you've been there, you either know exactly what I mean or think I'm being a total drama queen.

My MIL comes by once a week to let me run errands, but I can never finish all my shopping in that one trip. Yesterday she stayed with Ava while I did Costco and made some returns. Costco's produce has been sub-par (as in rotten) lately, so I still had all my produce left to get.

This morning I planned on sleeping an extra hour while Brian ate breakfast and hung out with Ava (Brian gets Ava up and keeps her with him for his morning routine every morning that he doesn't have church meetings at 6am), but while he was in the shower I heard Ava's congested breathing and knew if I ignored her any longer I'd feel like a child abuser. So, I got up and de-congested her nose. I won't go into detail about the decongesting procedure- it's far too glamourous. You'll just be jealous. 

And then I had a crazy thought, "If I throw on some sweat pants and brush my teeth I can have a full hour to grocery shop before Brian goes to work ... and maybe I can grab a latte while I'm out." The last part of that thought is what got me out the door. 

I had a full glorious hour to drive around praying, drinking my latte and getting my shop on. Now I don't have to find someone to stay with Ava or risk throwing off her nap schedule! I'm doing this every week. 

Anyone else found creative ways to get errands or shopping done?


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beans

I made crockpot refried beans without the refry this week. I wish I had pictures, but I ate them so fast I couldn't snap one in time. Just kidding, I'm super lazy when it comes to taking pictures of anything but Ava.

I recommend the crockpot refried beans. I bought a huge bag of dry pintos a while back, so instead of buying refried beans this week I figured I could actually act on the frugality I had in mind when I purchased them and make my own. Here's how I did it:

3 cups dry beans, rinsed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 T fat (I used butter, but you could use olive oil)
2 t salt (I used 1 T and 1 t and it was too much salt)
1 t pepper
big dash of cumin (I didn't measure)
9 cups water

I cooked these on high for 10 hours. At about hour 8, I pulled enough beans out for dinner and let the rest keep cooking. When they were tender, I pulled out the whole garlic cloves (some of them had broken apart and I left those in). Then I drained the juice and set it aside to add back in as needed. I used my immersion blender to blend them into a refried consistency and added the juice as needed. You could use a potato masher if you don't have an immersion blender (that's what the recipe I adapted this from called for). 

I separated them into small containers for lunches this week and a large container to freeze for dinner next week. I'll be making these again soon, but I'll probably double my batch so I can freeze more. I make beans and brown rice (with a salad on the side of course!) for dinner often. It's really affordable since I buy the beans and rice in bulk bags and easy to prepare as long as I give myself enough time. It's been a great way to save on groceries and have leftovers for lunches. 

The end.

P.S. I ended the detox last week when Brian brought home my ice cream cake. I did "cheat" a few times during the detox. But each time, the sugar was too much for me since I had kind of gotten it out of my system. Even my beloved Baskin Robbins Ice cream cake made me feel yucky. I'm not as drawn to refined sugars now as I was, so I feel like I accomplished my goal.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Having a Small Town Heart

Yesterday I actually wrote something of substance. Something not about refined sugars, cleaning products, or baby gear ;)

But right before I posted it on here I thought It would be better to post it on my church's blog which I contribute to when the urge strikes. You can check out my post, Having a Small Town Heart in the City over at the GrassRoots Blog. 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another Crazy Homemade Product

Brian is out of town today which means I am double sleep deprived and bored out of my mind. One can only clean a 900 square ft. apartment so much. I need another adult to talk to like I needed a double shot latte this morning. I do silly things when I'm alone and bored. Like rinsing my hair with vinegar. 

Yes, I did it. I read on Pioneer Woman that it saved her hair. And I'm here to tell ya, I think it saved mine too. You can read her explanation of it here. Basically, she says it removes build up from your hair the same way it cleans your coffee pot. And I must agree. My hair feels great and it looks pretty good too. See?

And while I'm waxing on about hair, I want to let you know that washing your hair with baking soda is not all I said it was a couple posts ago. It was full and clean feeling on day one, but on day two it felt nasty, just nasty. I know no other way to describe it. 

While I've gotcha here let me update you on the detox. I'm no longer offering to give up my first born for a cookie after dinner. The intense dessert cravings have passed. And just to be on the up and up, Brian and I did have birthday dessert at our brother-in-law's birthday party last week. We agreed ahead of time that it was okay. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cloth Diapers take two

As soon as my friend Stevie found out I was expecting, she started hassling me about cloth diapering. I was adamant that there were a lot of "natural" things I was going to for Ava like breastfeed, stagger her immunization schedule, make babyfood from scatch, use natural medicines and health products, but cloth diapering was not one of those things. 

Then I watched the HUGE bag of diapers being taken out to the trash a few times a week by my Diaper-Genie-handling husband and I felt a little guilty. About the landfills. If you know me, you know that being "green" is a little lower on my list of priorities, but even my environmentally stone-cold heart was starting to twinge at all those diapers. 

So I ordered a couple cloth diapers (gdiapers to be precise). They are adorable ... and leaky. My other friends who use them say they don't leak for them so I'm sure it's a user error. Even so, I'm a little discouraged. All my efforts to save the planet and make my baby's bottom even more adorable have been met with poop, leaky poop. 

I got a Bum-genius brand diaper in the mail today so I'll give it a shot before I officially throw in the towel. I'm pretty sure I'm going back to Pampers though. They are so absorbent and soft and easy and not leaky. And I can Subscribe and Save on Amazon and get them so affordably. 

If you have any suggestions for better cloth diapering, I'd love to hear them. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sugar Detox Day 3-What we do instead

We're still hanging in there :)

The more I've thought about my detox, I've realized it isn't actually a sugar detox so much as a "sweets" or dessert detox. It would probably be beneficial to cut all sugars out of my diet for a period of time, but like I said yesterday I'm just not that hardcore. 

I've found that when I'm trying to stop doing something, it's not enough to just eliminate a bad or undesired behavior. I also need to put something good or better in it's place. 

The last three evenings after dinner Brian and I have gone for a long walk around our neighborhood in place of having a several cookies. We load Ava up in the stroller and take a loop that runs through the park. At the park we watch people play frisbee with their dogs and dad's teaching their kids how to ride a bike. I noticed last night that we see the same people over and over again and that really gives me a sense of community, of being connected to the people around us. 

We've even been playing on the playground a little ourselves. Is that creepy or youthful? I'm not sure. Either way, it's been a really sweet time for our little family. Last night while we played on the monkey bars (no, I'm not kidding) we reminisced about our elementary school playgrounds. It turns out we had very different playground equipment even though we were in school at the same time. 

In giving up dessert we've found more energy than we previously thought we had in the evenings, more time to make memories instead of cookies, and found out new things about each other. So far, this is a win-win. Or if you're an Office fan, a win-win-win. ;)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sugar Detox

Every week I make a big batch of whole wheat chocolate chip cookie dough. And every evening after dinner Brian rolls six cookies into balls and puts them in the oven. I have been convincing myself that they are a "healthy" dessert since they are whole wheat and I use less sugar than the recipe calls for. And I really do believe they are relatively healthy, in moderation. Three cookies every evening is not what I would call moderation. (Not to mention my occasional afternoon cookie pick-me-up.)

One night last week when I asked Brian if he was going to make cookies, he said "we don't need cookies every night."

I was horrified. "What? Who told you that? They're a liar whoever they are!" 

So I got up and made my own batch of cookies. And you know what? He ate some. 

The next day I got to thinking about my crazy irrational reaction about the cookies. Maybe we didn't need cookies every night. The problem was that I really did. I was addicted. So I decided that as of Sunday, yesterday, I was going to go on a sugar detox so that I really wouldn't need cookies. I want to have them and enjoy them, but I don't want to need them. 

Yesterday was day 1 of the sugar detox and it was hard. I think I said "I want a cookie" 600 times. It didn't help that yesterday morning we made a huge batch of my favorite cookies for our church picnic but since we were an hour late to church (read: completely exhausted and cranky) decided not to go. So the cookies sat on our counter all day and called to me. 

I am not being hardcore about what defines sugar. I will still put honey in my muffins and if we have french toast for brunch on Saturday, I will still use maple syrup. I'm not however, putting sugar in my coffee or eating "sweets." I also will not be using any "sugar-free" products. I never do and never will knowingly put an artificial sugar substitute in my food. The calories and fat you save using these products are more than cancelled out by the health risks of using these fake substances, IMO. 

Brian is doing the detox too. He's such a team player. Any time I want to do something like this for health reasons, he's quick to join me. It would be a different story if I said I was doing this to lose my last 10 Ava pounds. He would refuse to join me, tell me that he doesn't know what 10 pounds I'm talking about and that I do not need to lose weight. Do you see why I love this man? But since this is about health and not weight, he's happy to oblige.

Today is the second day of my detox and I'm feeling pretty confident after making it through last night with those cookies on the counter. I'm planning to detox until my birthday on September 9th. Then I shall eat a big piece of Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. 

I'm posting this more for me than for your reading pleasure. If I make my detox public, I'll be more likely to stick with it. So I'll keep you updated on my progress and what strategies I'm employing to stay sugar-free. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Simplifying My Household Cleansers

I'm slowly working to simplify my list of household and personal cleaners. Rather than having one product that cleans the floor, another for the counter, another for the bathroom, and another for mirrors I'm trying to move toward one or two products for everything. At the same time I'm trying to move away from toxic cleaners to more safe products.

I have a few reasons for this. My first reason is simplify our life. The more products I use, the more likely I am to run out of something and need to make a trip out. Anyone with a baby knows running to the store isn't as easy as it used to be. In fact, it's a real hassle.

The second reason is to save money. I've found that I can buy a HUGE bag of baking soda for less than 5 dollars and use it for many, many things. I use it to clean my bathroom, wash my hair, freshen my laundry and soak my dishes. I know washing my hair with baking soda sounds  a little extreme, but I love it! My hair has never had so much volume. Another way I've saved money on personal products is reading the labels of the things I currently buy and figuring out what I can make myself. I buy natural toothpaste and mouthwash. Well, after reading the mouthwash label I saw it has a lot of essential oils like tea tree oil. So I did a little research on tea tree oil and found that some people use a few drops of it in water and use that for mouthwash. It doesn't taste as good as my store bought mouthwash, but it works great and costs almost nothing!

My third reason is I truly do want a less toxic household. As soon as I brought Ava home her presence in the house limited when and how I use toxic cleaners like bleach. I hate when I clean the bathroom and find the fumes have lingered into her nursery. I also get freaked out by how close she is to my super high aluminum count deodorant when she's nursing. So I switched to Arm and Hammer natural deodorant, and I'm not lying it's worked just as a well as my clinical strength antiperspirant.

I also realized it didn't do a lot of good to wash her clothes in baby detergent if I was washing everything else in Gain. So when I ran out of her Dreft rather than buying more expensive baby detergent, I researched non-toxic detergents for the whole family. I found Charlie's Soap and I love it! It's the same cost as what I was buying at Costco but we all can use it.

I'm not obsessed with having a non-toxic home and I certainly don't judge other people who clean with Scrubbin' Bubblesa and Mr. Clean. I've gleaned a little here and there for a while now and I'm feeling more adventurous about trying the things I've learned. I'm not throwing away my old products, only replacing as a run out. As I make these changes for our family I want to take baby steps that actually save us money and make our lives easier. 

My goal is by the end of 2012 to have simplified to as few natural products as possible.  I know that's a long way away, but I set the goal out there for a reason. I want this project of mine to serve our family; I don't want to become a slave to this project. I figured if I set it farther out than it would actually take to make the changes, I won't do anything frivolous to accomplish my goal.

I know some of you are probably thinking, "just buy some Lysol and get a life." And maybe you would have a point :) But I feel pretty empowered by understanding how cleansers work and making educated choices about the products I use in my home. I'm also in a season of life where I do have time for this kind of stuff. Days are coming when I won't, so I'm taking advantage of it! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baby Lilie Update

Please continue to remember Lilie's family today. We got this update from our pastor just a little while ago:
It is a very sad day, Family. Robby and Jenna are saying their goodbyes to their beautiful daughter Lilie. Words can't express the sorrow we feel for Robby, Jenna and family. We mourn for them and can't understand "WHY?" 
Lord Jesus in our confusion and pain we take comfort knowing that Lilie will be in your arms. Lord Jesus, we ask that through your Spirit you would overwhelm Robby and Jenna with your Love, grace, mercy, strength and comfort. Comfort that can only come from you during this time. 
I have no words of my own today. They all fall very short of the reverence due Lilie and her family, but I wanted to share this update and say thank you for joining us in praying for Lilie and Robby and Jenna. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baby Lilie

Lilie is the newborn daughter of our friends Robby and Jenna and as I write this she is fighting for her life in the NICU.

Brian and I have wept and prayed for this child since the night she was born. Normally, I only allow myself to empathize with the suffering of others for a moment before I mentally change the subject and get on with my life, but lately I've lingered there in the misty-eyed moments hurting with my friends who hurt, allowing the things that grieve God's heart to grieve mine.

I've found it's a hard place to be because the cliches aren't enough and I don't have the answer. I know some things for certain and those are the things I'm meditating on as I pray for little Lilie today. 
  • God created us to live forever. Not just spiritually, but physically too. Our bodies were not designed to fail. 
  • Sin has made a mess of God's creation. Our efforts to be good fail. Our economies fail. Our marriages fail. Our bodies fail. 
  • God has a rescuing plan to save us from our failure.  His name is Jesus. 
  • One day that plan will come to completion in a new heaven and a new earth and with new bodies that will live forever with Jesus, our Rescuer. 
It's all the stuff in between our failure and our rescue that I'm unsure of. It's intellectually more than I can do to piece all this together to form a theology of suffering. So today I'm just going to lift Lilie up to our Rescuer and trust in the things that I know are true about Him. He loves Lilie and He loves her parents. And if their pain hurts my broken, sinful heart, I know it hurts His perfect, loving heart.

Will you pray for Lilie and her parents today?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recent Pictures :)

Cuddle time with Daddy after work
Saving it for later
Sunday afternoon walk

Monday, July 4, 2011

Baby Product Review

I have a lot of friends who are having babies. You know who you are ;-) So I thought I'd give a little product review of things we've been using the past six weeks for those who are interested. I emailed a list of ladies before I had Ava to get their "essentials" list and their advice was helpful in choosing what we would purchase and what we wouldn't. Maybe my review can help some you. 

Moby Wrap
I read rave review after rave review for this wrap. And I have to say it has major perks, but also some pretty significant drawbacks. It's very womb-like for the baby once she's in it. Ava has taken an hour and a half nap in the Moby while at church. When I wear her in the Moby at gatherings like church, she sleeps peacefully, I can stand and worship with everyone else while only having to look down and kiss her head to know she's okay, and people don't try and touch her because that would require getting in my personal space. And if you're a germaphobe like me, that's a major plus. 

The Moby is hard to wrap. It took me several times of watching the instructional video to be able to wrap it without guidance. Even though I've got the basic wrap down now, it's a hassle to do. I usually wrap it before we leave for an outing if I think I am going to use it. It's so long that wrapping it in a parking lot or store would mean letting the wrap touch the ground while wrapping- yuck. 

Another thing to think about it that is isn't exactly masculine looking. If you're only going to buy one carrier and you want one you and your husband can use this might not be it. Brian wouldn't want to wear this one because it does look a little weird on a man (there are pictures of a man wearing it on the instructional booklet) and because it would take too much time to learn to wrap. But that's just my opinion. I would be really interested to hear if the moby has worked well for other couple's to share. 

Ergo Baby Carrier
I had to buy an infant insert to go with the Ergo Baby. It's a little padded pouch that you put the baby inside to cushion their head. It was an extra 25.00 which I didn't mind since the carrier itself was a gift. If you want to use the Ergo with your newborn you'll need the insert. I could have used the Moby until she was old enough and then switched to the Ergo, but the Ergo is much faster to put on and Brian likes it too.

The infant carrier is padded which makes it hard to use in high temps. I've taken Ava hiking with it in the midday heat and I was worried the entire time that she was too hot. That doesn't make for a very fun outing. If we wear it at night when it's cooler, it works really well.  So it depends on how you plan to use it.

Overall, I love the Ergo but I think I would get more use out of the infant insert with a winter baby.

Bright Stars Comfort and Harmony Swing
This swing has lots of different speeds and plays music. It's also small and easily condenses to store in a closet or out of the way. Since we have a small space it's perfect for us. Ava isn't a huge fan of the swing yet but I'm glad we have it to keep trying with her and for future little Ramseys.

Infantino Play Gym
This play gym is super cute. I love the colors and the toy attachments. Just beware of washing all the toys. One makes made music until I washed it. See germaphobe reference above. This has been nice to lay Ava on for tummy time. She's not old enough to appreciate the toys on it yet, but I use it because it's easy to clean and more padded than a blanket. This particular play gym can be set up with one hand, which is handy when you have a baby in the other. I think any version of the play gym is probably great.

Large Flannel Receiving Blankets
Two of my friends made double-sided flannel receiving blankets for us. They have been great for swaddling. For the first month I used the very thin Aden + Anias swaddling blankets and Ava wriggled her way out of them every time. Then one night it was cold and Brian put her in one of the flannels and she didn't get even an arm out AND she slept longer. Two hours longer. On the nights that it's warm in the house, I open our windows to make it cool enough to still swaddle her in the flannel because everyone needs two extra hours of sleep. ;)

Aden and Anias Swaddle Blankets
These are just a thin brand of swaddle blankets you can get at Target. They are on the pricey side ($30 for a 4 pack) but the perfect price for a baby gift. Like I said above, they aren't the best to swaddle with IMO, but they are great for keeping sun off of your baby in the carrier on a hot day, covering the carrier in public for the baby to nap, and to cover yourself when nursing. Basically, they are incredibly versatile, great for summer, and I love them. If you know of any blankets like these that are cheaper, let me know!

MAM Pacifiers
I resisted the paci for Ava's first two weeks. My mother begged me to buy one. Then my friend from Tennessee, who I emailed every day for the first month of Ava's life for advice, decided I needed a mini paci intervention and called me and told me to "get that baby a paci." Her position was that babies will self soothe with their thumb or fingers if you don't give them a pacifier and when it's time to ween them off you can take a paci away but you can't cut off their digits. That got my attention. I started out with the hospital style pacifier but Ava wouldn't take it because even the newborn was too big her her. Then I got a MAM. They are the same shape on top and bottom for better orthodontics.

Bouncer
We have a Fisher Price vibrations bouncer. Ava hangs out in it while I cook and shower.  At her age it's the best way to keep her happy while she's awake and I'm trying to get things done. This is definitely a must-have for us.

Travel System
We got the chicco travel system. It was highly recommended to us by many friends. I like that it clips in and out of the car easily and I think it's a nice looking product. But it's heavy and it doesn't fit easily into shopping carts. I'm not sure if there are better travel systems out there, so I don't know if I'd prefer another one. Overall, I like this one but I don't love it.

These products have made our lives a little easier and we are blessed to have them. But I don't think any of them are essential to having a happy household with a newborn.

What's Really Important
The things I've found to be truly important have nothing to do with baby gear. It's important to sleep when they sleep. I think everyone I came in contact with those first few weeks told me that and I should have listened. Every one of my postpartum meltdowns was due to sleep deprivation.

It's important to connect with your spouse. Staying on the same page when your world has just been turned upside down by your newborn is tough. It's helped to have at least 20 minutes every evening when Brian I can connect.

It's important to stay close to Jesus. Those first few weeks I could barely brush my teeth much less have a "quiet time." Fortunately, I had gotten a short devotional book the week before Ava was born that I kept by my glider. At our first morning feeding I would read a page out loud to Ava. My smallest efforts to draw near to God were met by Him in big ways. I think I will always remember those early days with Ava being very, very weak and having God carry me in His arms like never before.

Well, that's all I've got for now. Happy 4th!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Do You Do?

"What do you do?" It's probably the most common question to ask someone when you're making small talk or trying to get to know them. I ask new people at church that question a lot. I don't actually like the question but after I ask,  "How'd you find out about GrassRoots?," it seems like the only thing left to ask someone I don't know. 

I don't like the question because it indicates that what you do is who you are or is how you find value or something like that. You know what I mean? And that's been confirmed for me by how people answer the question. In this economy a lot of people are going back to school or working jobs they don't like or unemployed or underemployed. So when they answer the question they answer in a tone that says they're not very proud of what they do. And then I feel bad for asking. 

So my question for you is, what's a better question to ask? Is there a way to get to know someone better without asking what they do? Or just a better way to ask the question. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Good Day

Today is a good day. My awesome, baby whispering husband put Ava down at 10pm last night and she slept till 1am. When I fed her at 1am and 5am, she went back down without a sound. This made for the most sleep I've had since she was born. I feel so alive today! 

Other good things include getting back into pre-pregnancy jeans. Even though they were my "I ate two slices of cheesecake last night jeans," not my "I ran three miles this morning jeans" and Ava threw up all over them less than an hour after putting them on, it still made me happy. I'm not sure who has to change clothes more times in a day, me or Ava.

I'm getting a hair cut today! A friend recommended a salon that's right beside my house, which is awesome because until I teach Ava how to take a bottle (I will I swear, I've just been busy) I'm always on a 2 1/2 hour countdown when I leave the house. As for the cut, I think I'm going to go shorter. But not this short. 
That was a mistake of epic proportions. Any suggestions for the new do? 

Another good thing is Joe Thorn's book Note To Self. The book is made up of about 50 short notes where the author helps you preach truth to yourself on a slew of different topics. If it weren't for this book, I'm not sure how i'd be having a quiet time right now. I recommend it for everyone, but especially for someone who's in a busy season of life. The Resurgence has published several of the "notes" as blog posts if you want to read an excerpt

All of these small things are just gifts from a very good God. The best thing of all the good thing from today is just knowing I'm His child- a concept that has become even sweeter in the recent weeks.  


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Welcome Ava

I'm sure you've seen Ava's pictures on Facebook, but I figured I'd post a few here for her blog debut. When I'm a little less sleep deprived I'll share her birth story, including how I went from being Mrs. All Natural to Mrs. Say Yes to Drugs. It's a wonderful 25 hour saga ;)
In the Hospital
First Bath at Home
Emergency Car Feeding
 Car Burping
Hair Styling with BeBe

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weekend Update

Brian and I had such a productive weekend! Friday evening we had planned on getting in some face time at the Wholefoods coffee bar to review our marriage small group material, but we got so caught up in the nursery that we ran out of coffee bar time and had to settle for a late night grocery trip. 

Saturday morning we had our friends Jason and Stevie over for breakfast. Since we're not sure how having Ava is going to change our routines for a while we wanted one last pre-baby hurrah with them. 
 After waffles, they helped us with some nursery stuff like figuring out how our wrap and baby carrier work. We practiced with a stuffed bear.
 Brian's was much easier than mine.
Then the four of us took our cars to a local car wash. Brian's and my car needed vacuuming in the worst way. We wanted to clean them before we installed our car seat. Which Brian did all by himself even though everyone had told us we'd need professional help because it was so hard. That's one thing about engineers, they can read an instruction manual!
Also this weekend, Brian gave me roses for my first ever Mother's Day gift. Wasn't that awesome?

Today we had our 38 week appointment. I tested negative for group B strep, so I don't have to have an IV during delivery and we won't have to stay an extra day in the hospital. I was prepared for it if we did, but I'm so glad we don't! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday

I called this post "Friday" because I have no direction about what I'm about to say. I just feel like bloggin' and it's Friday. 

Today my MIL came over and we she worked on the crib skirt for Ava's room. I originally bought the fabric for a crib bumper, but thanks to the hospital and the CDC, I have been scared out of using one. I figured a skirt could add the same kind of flare with a comparable amount of fabric. 
She brought some old curtains to use for the middle part of the skirt that goes underneath the mattress and since I had washed the new fabric we figured we should wash those too so nothing would shrink. And that gave us time to kill. During that time I found these great tubs at Sams. I've been seeing the same tubs at Target in every color but the ones I wanted. I'm going to use one for toys and the other for dirty clothes. 
Our travel system arrived yesterday. But we weren't home, so UPS left it with our neighbor. Which is a little weird considering we don't know our neighbor. This afternoon I knocked on her door and she had it waiting on me. I'm glad we have honest neighbors. I'm sure you could sell a baby travel system for a pretty penny on the black market. 

Well Brian's home, so I'm going to sign off here. More randomness later!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Nursery Progress

Even though Ava is due in just 3 weeks time (but would not be considered early if she came this week), I cannot post pictures of her perfectly decorated and organized nursery. But I'm getting closer! 

This weekend Brian and I finally put together the crib and bought some of our last minute things. If she came early we'd be okay for the most part. 
This is documentation to prove that we did something! My mother, mother-in-law and a couple friends have been worried that I'd never get around to doing the nursery. I'm posting these pictures to put their minds at ease. Ava has a bed and clean sheets!
I did nursery "research" while Brian did the heavy lifting. That's life around here these days. 
She has more clothes than I do! Fortunately my friend Stevie sized and organized all of her hanging clothes. Now I just have to do the same with folded clothes. 

I'll keep you updated on my progress.