Mama Monday: Baptism time!

OK, I love a good party. I haven't had one lately, and Larkyn's baptism was certainly an occasion to celebrate!  Months ago, I started pinning ideas and inspiration. Unfortunately, her baptism coincided with the first week of school, so I had absolutely no time to go overboard like I would have if school hadn't started 2 days before. I knew I wanted fun colors, though, and based everything off of this amazing custom invitation made by Christie Haack at Lollitree. I found a birthday invitation I liked and asked her to change the graphics to Christian symbols. Here is what she came up with. Click on it and the quality will clear up:
She took a lot of time to make it and I was happy to see that she has now listed this item in her shop for others to use. So, I started there and used those colors throughout celebration. The rest of the day was obviously about Lulu and her commitment to Jesus, so I will tell the rest in pictures. Despite having her first cold, she had a wonderful day and slept through most of the church service. It was awesome to have all of our family and close friends honor our daughter by spending the day with her.

Foodie Friday: Skyline dip

In my sorority house, we always had these ingredients on-hand.  Whenever we needed a late night snack to accompany our scary movies or gossip, this was our favorite!

Skyline Dip
1 block cream cheese
1 can Skyline chili (or Dixie)
1 bag finely shredded cheddar cheese

Using a rubber spatula, Spread softened cream cheese in the bottom of a pie pan. Pour chili on top, then sprinkle with cheese. Put into 350 degree oven for 15 minutes (or until cheese melts). Serve with Tostito Scoops.

Birthday Thursday: Happy 18 weeks!

You may have noticed that I am posting way later than usual. That would be because today was my first day of school! I love how my classroom came together and will post pictures of that another day. Today is just for my little Kicker.

This week had its ups and downs. In a word (or several)....we started AND stopped solid foods this week. Though experts say "between 4-6 months", we are going to be on the 6 month end of it now!  The 3 days that she had sweet potatoes were the 3 worst days she has ever had. Ever. So, we put 2 and 2 together and went back to bottles. And our happy baby is back!

She is getting baptized on Sunday, which gives me an excuse to plan a party. I'll have pictures of that as well. She is getting used to the routine of going to Miss C's and is alllllmost rolling from belly to back. And we are livin' up the last of the summer wardrobe....

Mama Monday: Why am I so excited?

So, I have a huge Ziplock bag in the basement. You know, the kind they show on commercials that could hold a Toyota Yaris or rhinoceros. However, mine is filled with things for "When Larkyn starts eating". Inside, you can find anything from a food mill to a variety of spoons. Here, I even felt the need to take a picture after my baby shower of all the "feeding supplies".
Last week, the pediatrician gave us the green light to start feeding solids, and we started with the rice cereal. I will paraphrase this week's experience by saying that Larkyn is not a fan. She fusses and spits it out, and does all the things the doctor told me she'd do. I know, she's being normal. It's me who is not normal. I was so excited to start feeding her real food! I mean, I love the bonding time we have with bottles, but I guess I selfishly take joy in preparing food for others and watching them enjoy it. After talking to friends, reading some books, and listening to the doctor, I went ahead and started REAL food. Because really, who wants to eat ground up rice with formula? She enjoyed Earth's Best Real Sweet Potatoes (100% organic) yesterday and today, and I can tell that the week of rice cereal helped her ease into the eating process. 

As soon as I can get the cojones to walk back into Babies R Us, I will buy the babyfood maker, but until then, this food gets great reviews and is cost-effective. So, the point of this posting? Sometimes there are things we do as moms that are kind of self-serving. She had no interest in eating solid foods...she probably would be happy with a bottle for as long as possible!  But, she is a good little compromiser and is giving me my fun little eating time once a day (and about 4 spoonfuls!) And, to be honest, almost everything I have read has suggested that most (safe) foods should be introduced by 6 months, each his own, right!?

Foodie Friday: Simple White Sangria

Ohhhh this was so good last week. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and it is perfect. My only caution is that you must let it sit overnight or make it in the morning to drink in the evening. I was not impressed with it when I first made it, but the next day it was sweet and summery!

Simple White Sangria
from Country Living

1 bottle Chardonnay (I used Greystone Cellars)
3 cans Fresca
5-6 strawberries, quartered
1 peach, sliced thin
Handful of white grapes

Add the sliced fruits to a large pitcher or dispenser. Add the liquids and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Serve COLD!

Birthday Thursday: Happy 17 weeks!

I have been dying to take these pictures all day, but since I am officially a working mama, they had to wait til I got home and Larky Lu was awake. She is donning a special back to school outfit courtesy of Aunt Kate, as you will see.

This week we have had some excitement, but it's nothing I haven't already gushed about!  She started rice cereal (and despises it), and I had a mental breakdown at Babies R Us trying to buy her baby food maker. She went to the sitter's house for the first time yesterday and we all lived. It was like I woke up a new person after I cried out all my worries. "Miss C", we will call her, asked me all the right questions, double checked what I brought, loved the notes I wrote for her (and put me at ease saying that she's never had a mom NOT leave notes, so, no I'm not psychotic). I spent the day at school and a fabulous lunch at Tucci's patio, and then went to pick her up. I wasn't sure what I would walk in to...but it was 2 little babies fast asleep. And right on schedule. Can I get a fist pump for Miss C?

So, moral of the story? A lot of times I get worked up for nothing. If I diverted that energy into, say, working out, we might all benefit. Lesson learned.
Yes, I am pushing the ABCs already. Just kidding. She is reading Harry Potter.
Motion shot! This is what she's been doing since the first kick at 20 weeks gestation! Her onesie is from Wholly Craft, leggings from Gymboree, and Tevas were the most amazing hand-me-downs. They are so easy to slip on

Mini Mod

Random Wednesday: So many tears!

So I am writing this Tuesday evening, knowing that it will publish tomorrow. Why tomorrow?  It's the first day I have to drop Larkyn off at the sitter's. I will be in no mood to type through tears. Today started with me driving to school, sobbing on the phone to my mom (and the baby was still with me today!) The middle of the day had me in a meltdown at the Babies R Us counter. I did not register there because of their terrible customer service, I tell all my friends not to register there, and I dreaded going in there anyway. But I had 2 boxes of diapers I needed to exchange for the next size up and have been excited to get the Baby Brezza for weeks (Buy Buy Baby doesn't sell it and is on the other side of town). After I got the diapers I needed, the Brezza and 50 thousand accessories and brought them to the counter, it all fell apart. This is when I am told that I will get $20 for the $49 boxes of diapers because the packaging changed and that I can't use the 20% off Buy Buy Baby Coupon (which has NO EXCLUSIONS on it for anything I bought) on my Brezza. Buy Buy Baby lets me use Babies R Us crappy coupons all the time, and that's how I got 20% off the Ergo, which is excluded in their own coupons! 

Now, I was already in a "fragile" mood today and the only thing I wanted to do was come home and cook Larkyn some freaking homemade baby food! I burst into tears as the girl behind the counter asks if I still want the adorable bowls and spoons, the Brezza cleaning brushes, and the cutest set of coated bibs. Want to know what makes me cry? Raining on my freaking parade. The only thing that was keeping me going today was my pretty little Brezza, So, I burst into tears and sobbed "I don't need ANY of it if I can't make her food!". I apologized, told her I'd put it all back (she politely declined, horrified), and I quickly left and put my big old sunglasses on.

On a normal day, the above things would have irked me. Enough to maybe warrant an angry text to a mama friend who would share in my disgust. But today, my last day as a stay at home was a little more dramatic.

I'm sniffling as I am writing this. I know I'll cry even more tomorrow. I trust that the sitter knows how to take care of children, but I think of all those little things that only mama knows about Larkyn. If I wrote it all down for her, she would think I was a psycho. And I won't be the one to put her down for naps anymore, to hear her wake up and make her goofy singing noises after the naps. The sitter has 2 other infants to watch. So what happens when Larkyn is crying and she is busy with the other 2?  Will she think the sitter's house is her new house now and she just comes to mine at night?  I HATE THIS!  I want to just stomp my feet and throw a fit and say I want to stay at home, but I know that won't help.  So what will?

Mama Monday: The dreaded 4 month appointment

When Lulu woke up from her afternoon nap, she had a big smile on her face. I said to Matt, "Oh no, she's in a good mood. I feel so bad for her because she has no idea what's coming" (multiple vaccinations). Well, by the time I got her to the doctor's (less than 5 minutes away), things took a turn to the dark side. She started wailing in the waiting room for no apparent reason, and screamed on and off through the entire appointment. It was really unlike her, and I was upset myself because it looked like I had no control over the situation. I know, it happens.

Anyway, we met our new doctor because ours left the practice. This annoyed/worried me at first. Alas, the new doctor was my dream come true!  He walked in, gave her a big raspberry on her belly, and was just the friendliest grandpa-type I could have ever hoped for. Good news?  He gave me the green light to start feeding her solid foods (the old doctor wanted me to wait til October...I was way too excited to follow those directions!) Bad news? Time for 3 shots and one oral vaccination.

Is there anything worse? I mean, yes, there is a lot worse. But holding your baby, getting her to smile and coo and then SHAZAM! 3 sticks in the leg and she crumbles into a million pieces. Ugh. Like my mama buddy Desiree, I wanted to promise my daughter a pony, but came up with, "You can have a bottle as soon as you get home". Yeah, lame. After the cute purple bandaids were applied, we were headed home and excited (well, one of us) to try rice cereal for dinner!  The verdict?  Hard to tell...

Yay! I like my new high chair and sitting all the way up here.
So, where's my bottle?
WHAT is this?
I'm good on this stuff, mama. I will go ahead and push it back out with my tongue like the doc said I would. Now, bottle, please?

Style Saturday: Back to school clothes!

One bonus of being a teacher is that I still get to go back to school shopping. That's right. I totally justify it because I AM going back to school, right?  And I still have 5 years until Larkyn starts kindergarten, so I am good. This year is a bit of a challenge, though. After a few exhilarating BTS shopping trips where I had lost weight, that is not the case this year. I have 15 pounds of baby weight left, so I can't just buy anything that looks good on the hanger. I have to be belly savvy, because that is where it is all hiding. In scouring the internet for ideas, I have gathered the trends I have noticed this season, trying to figure out which ones will work and which ones can be left for someone else to try.

1. Ridiculously flared pants- Have you seen them yet?  No more skinny jeans, which is OK with me. Though I loved my maternity "skinny jeans" (?), those worked because they had a giant elastic waistband.
2. Printed dresses- I love dresses. I haven't noticed a particular cut that is prominent, but as long as I am careful with the fall of the waistline, I will pick up one or two of these.
3. Plaid shirts, again- I like how these look on celebrities as they walk down the street with their Coffee Bean cups and fedoras. On me, I look like I should be on a roll of Bounty.

4. Boots- Yes, please!  The only drawback to boots is that all that material=more money. Oh well, I wore Old Navy $5 flip flops every day this summer. I deserve one delicious pair of boots. Gray, maybe?
5. Maxi dresses/skirts- I've been wanting to try them for 3 summers now. They are always too long for me. Are they appropriate for teachers? That's what I've been wondering...
 6. Dolman sleeves? Once I put one of these shirts into my Express "cart" I saw them everywhere! I just really liked the color of this one and the way it falls around the waist. It would be a conversation starter!
7. Embellished tops- Not so much items sewn on as embellishments, but using the fabric to make ruffles, flutter sleeves, or twists. LOVE how the ruffles will hide me!

Foodie Friday: Skillet Lasagna

It has been sooo hot lately that I dread turning the oven on. My smart friend Jill has always encouraged me to just do things on the stovetop, and I am sure at some point, she has told me about skillet lasagna. However. I didn't try it until this summer. I am a fan!  This is SO much easier than all that layering business with hot noodles and keeps your kitchen from getting overheated. Enjoy!

Skillet lasagna
Based on the Barilla recipe, just deconstructed! 

1/2 box Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
1 egg
1/2 container of ricotta (about 7-8 oz)
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1/2 lb ground beef (already cooked, please!)
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Cook the beef and set it aside. In a bowl, combine the beaten egg, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and one cup of the mozzarella cheese. Save the other cup to sprinkle on top!

In a large, deep pan, pour some sauce on the bottom and add a few noodles on top. Put 1/2 of the meat on top, then drops of the cheese mixture. Spread the cheese as best you can. Add more sauce, then noodles, then beef, then cheese mixture. Top with noodles, sauce, and the reserved mozzarella. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Keep checking the bottom of it because it scorches easily.

Birthday Thursday: Happy 4 months!

...or 16 weeks ,however you want to look at it.  This week has been exciting in the life of our girl!

Throughout my pregnancy, I read a ton of books and used several online resources. I bought a big stack of baby books, as well, which have made nice bookshelf decorations. I am not as worried as I was during pregnancy, which surprises me. If I have a question, I ask a friend or google it. Anyway, I do sometimes read about the monthly "milestones" but try not to take them too seriously. I have quickly learned that she will do things at her own pace and is wired to reach the milestones by me just providing opportunities for practice. Case in point, I had been wondering when she would start to grasp and reach for things. I walked past her in the exersaucer and there she was, moving the pandas on a seesaw up and down! I have noticed her "hyper" moments, when it seems like she might burst. This is usually when she wakes up, and it is hilarious.

This time next week, Nana will be watching her while I am getting my brand new classroom ready for school. This is really a challenging time for me (if you have been following this, you are already aware).  If you are lucky enough to be a stay at home mom, please (for me!), take a moment to soak it up and realize how fortunate you are! I would take on any amount of dishes, laundry, etc. to be able to stay with Larkyn and it breaks my heart to leave her.  Period.
Sleepy today...
I'm done.

Mama Monday: Once upon a child

Last week, I wanted to get Lulu some Summer swaddlers (you know I love them). We were eating lunch at a friend's house and she lives close to Once Upon a Child. I thought, hey, those things aren't cheap, let's give it a try. Well, no luck in the swaddler department. However...look at what we scored for her fall/winter wardrobe! 
You can't tell from photos, but these are in "mint" condition as my mama friend Amber says. I'll go ahead and give her credit for getting me hooked!
Before Larkyn was born we stopped in just to see what the place was all about. We got a little Polo dress and some crocs, but were a little overwhelmed. My friends, if you allow yourself an hour to really look through their clothes, you will find some steals. For $47, I got all of the above clothes. Many items had the original tags, and nothing cost more than $4.50 (that was the gray velour suit). Just out of curiosity, I looked up the going rates for some of these items...

Ralph Lauren long sleeve cotton dress ($3.00)= $39.50
Janie and Jack long sleeve floral tunic ($4.00)= $36
Carter's hooded velour zip up and pants ($4.50)= $30.00
So that's $105.50 (which I would neeeeeever pay) for $11.50

Where do you go or great baby deals?

Foodie Friday: Italian meatball sliders

Easy dinner alert!
I found the original recipe here, but thought "Umm yeah I am buying all these things at the store and making the same thing". So, put this all on your grocery list and fix it for dinner this week. This one is a keeper!

Image courtesy of

Italian meatball sliders
Loosely based off of Annie's Eats

1 package of slider buns (I found a 12 pack of honey butter slider buns in my grocer's bakery)
Olive oil
1 lb. (12-15 pieces) fresh meatballs (found in the deli case)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 bag pizza cheese (mixture of provolone and mozzarella)
a few TB of pesto

This recipe makes enough for 12 sandwiches, but we made 6 because that is all that will fit on your cookie sheet and eating 3 of them is very filling!

Put the meatballs and sauce (you won't need the entire jar, just add to it as needed throughout the cooking) in a pot on the stove. Cover and simmer for appx. 30 minutes until they are no longer pink when sliced open. 

Preheat the oven to 400. While the meatballs are cooking, slice the buns open (but not apart) and drizzle some olive oil on the tops. Lay the, open-faced on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Spread about a teaspoon of pesto on the bottoms of the buns. Cut meatballs into halves and place 3-4 halves on the bottoms. Cover with extra sauce, sprinkle on cheese, and put the tops on. Bake for a few minutes longer (5 minutes was too much for mine, so I'd suggest keeping your eye on them!)

Birthday Thursday: Happy 15 weeks!

At 15 weeks, Larkyn is really starting to show her personality!  Just today I got to witness an array of expressions. When I laid her bouncy seat in the bathroom for shower time (this is relaxing "me time" for both of us), she gave me the "chill" face. At Target, every time I looked down at her and asked her opinion, she just grinned. And when I didn't get her bottle warmed up fast enough, I saw despair (I knooooow, dramatic!).

Anyway, this week, she is really making friends with her hands. She noticed them long ago, but has started to realize that she controls them and can put them in her mouth. She takes every opportunity to do so. She is trying to roll from back to belly, but I am not pushing this issue at all because then I can't swaddle her anymore to sleep!  For some reason, she has been the spit up queen lately. I can't get a burp out of her, and then when I give up, she becomes a fountain of Similac. Nice. Here are this weeks' faces...

Earth to mom, its nap time.

There's that hand. Steady now...I want to eat you!

TV Tuesday: Circus dance and eating rocks

So, I am in between vacations, which means I have watched a lot of TV this week. I finally caght up on SYTYCD and was not disappointed in Thursday night's group dance. Have you read Water for Elephants? I hate to say I was ahead of the game on this one, but I so was. I gleefully recommended this book to everyone I knew 3 years ago. It is one of my top 3 favorite books, and no I haven't seen the movie (it came out the day baby was born!) Anyway, this incredible dance is choreographed to "Setting up the Circus", from the soundtrack. It might be my favorite dance of the season.

Wish you could see it in HD. The costumes are sparkly and the makeup is fabulous!

OK, I always forget about the little gem called My Strange Addiction, on TLC. In episodes past, we have seen a woman who can't stop eating the foam out of couch cushions, a plastic-looking girl who is obsessed with tanning, and a woman who has carried around the same pillow with her everywhere since she was 11. Oh yeah, and a detergent-eater. Yes, these people exist and the 30 minute show will keep you fascinated and asking "Why?!" over and over. Well, last night topped them all.

Mama Monday: the things she will say

In our 14th week, I have noticed that someone has discovered her voice. She has been imitating us, cooing and gurgling for several weeks now, but this is a little different. Listen...she is demanding and ordering around these poor butterflies and I picture her on a soapbox, talking about something quite passionately.

So, I wonder what interesting things she will have to tell me in the years to come. Some I am looking forward to...
  • Her first word, even if it is not "mama"
  • The first time she says "I love you"
  • "Reading" a story in her own words
  • Little made-up words like my niece calling Cracker Barrel "Rocker Barrel" in complete seriousness 
  • Telling me about her first day of school 
OK, now I went to far and my heart is racing thinking about her going off to school. Geez. OK, then there are some things I am not looking forward to...
  • "NO!"
  • I think every kid tells their parents "I hate you". I wrote it in a note to my mom when I was 5 or so because I was feeling sassy (not a common feeling for me!) and was mad about something. After a brief "discussion" with my dad, I never felt sassy again.
  • Tattling or "That's not fair". Since these words are a career hazard for me every day, I know it will drive me crazy to come home and hear it from her. 
  • "Why aren't you and daddy married?" or some version regarding this topic. Ohhh man.
What have your kids said that you treasure or dread?
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