Friday, September 30, 2011

Newborns in Need!

Cute cake!

Henry enjoyed the shower too!

Mary leading the kids in a game!

This was before cake!

Evie starting the game of filling the diaper bag with baby items!

Elise, had a great time! Is she not too cute?

Trying to figure out their best strategy!

Most everyone had left at this point and my face clearly shows my exhaustion! Evie was trying to convince me to go see the owl. She loves her owl.  It's not a real visit to the library without dropping by to say hello to owl.
It has been a week at our house! We are all exhausted and need some rest especially after this morning. I co-hosted a baby shower for Newborns in Need. It is an incredible organization that helps out premature, sick or babies born into poverty. Our MOMS Club does multiple service projects each year and decided this would be a great one. I'd encourage you to try this with your own group of moms. It was pretty easy although I do not recommend hosting it at the library. Way too stressful for me! Kids are loud and messy which is not the best combination for a library.

Anyway, I digress, the local chapter sent a representative to speak to our group and she had a lot of interesting points to share regarding NIN. It was a bit difficult to understand her because of all the chaos but I had a chance to talk with her later. She shared with me that she became active in our local chapter of NIN when she experienced the loss of her own child, Bree. I had goosebumps talking to her because of course that is every mother's worst nightmare. Bree was born at 19 weeks and died immediately. NIN brought blankets, clothes and support to her mother while she was in the hospital. What a blessing to help these families out. No one is prepared when something like this happens with drawers of newborn or preemie sized clothing so it's such a gift to provide these families with the simple necessities needed to care for a baby. These families are praying to experience these days that I am so fortunate to have with my children! Even the hard days - they just want their children to be healthy and alive. Little things like drawing on walls and temper tantrums seem so insignificant when you think about what these families are experiencing! It really put my week in perspective.

Did you know that your wedding gown has the potential to make 10 outfits for a NIN baby? That's making a difference in the life of 10 children that were not even give a chance in our world. It is impossible to find clothes for babies that wear their father's wedding ring as a bracelet or tip the scales at 3 pounds! It is amazing that so many of these babies are able to come home to their families but too many of them do not come home.

My children have so much and I was honored to participate in this shower with the simple gifts that we brought. Gifts such as onesies, diapers, formula and baby gear piled up as the moms came in with their children. It is so important for us to teach our children to have a servants heart and the importance of helping those that are less fortunate.  Evie was so excited because she thought she was going to "watch the babies shower" but she was just as thrilled to eat some cake. Speaking of cake, it was gorgeous and delicious! Renae, really outdid herself and there were lots of compliments. Check her out if you live in the Nashville area at Batter Bowl Designs on Facebook. Many thanks to my amazing husband for driving way of his way to get the cake so I could be home with our kids! I owe him big time for that one. He doesn't even eat cake but he knows that cake is the most important part of any party. Guess who taught him that . . . Evie!

Newborns in Need is doing tremendous work and I am proud to have been a part of it even it was just in a small way!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You tell, You know, You pick

A little this and a little that . . .

1) Evie loves to say, "Be a nice girl" to me whenever I correct her behavior. Sometimes I do need to remember to be a nice girl when correcting her especially when I have corrected the same behavior multiple times.

2) Carl had a small chip in his windshield so he took the van to work. Evie was so concerned about her car and kept checking in the garage for her car saying, "where my car go." She was thrilled when the van was back!

3) Halloween is still over a month away but Evie loves to talk about her costume choice. She is having difficulty deciding between a ballerina, Rapunzel and a princess. We will not be buying a costume until she is a little more certain of her choice.

4) Postal Scale's are the best thing ever! I bought one for our house and it is so wonderful to print my shipping label right off the USPS website and drop the package in my own mailbox. It has eliminated the need to drag two children in the post office which is worth $11 any day of the week.

5) Evie is using the phrase you tell, you know and you pick quite regularly. She uses "you tell" if she is not sure of the answer to the question. She uses "you know" if asked a silly question such as what is brother's name. Evie says "you pick" when asked which book she wants at bedtime or even if she cannot decide what snack she wants. I think it's so cute and she always uses the correct phrase for the situation! What a smart girl!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whirlwind Day!

Evie, please smile for the camera and this is what I get! She sure looks cute in her Growing up Garnet Hill Dress. I love these clothes. Too bad they do not come in my size.

Evie wanted some ice-cream before school and she was quite upset that was not a choice. She has started saying, "Ohhhhh" like she is a teenager whenever she does not get her way. It's cute but not cute enough for icecream at 8:45 in the morning!

Smiling for the camera with the promise of a treat afterschool!

Evie's first taste of candy corn! I think she likes it just like her Daddy.

Washing cabinets is her new favorite activity along with watering the plants. She asks to do these tasks multiple times a day. I can send her to your house next!

All smiles for Pooh!

Henry still likes having his picture taken . . . Evie just wanted to watch her movie!
We had a busy day! Evie had school so Henry took off with me to run lots of errands. We were able to accomplish so much. Henry was so proud to help out his Mommy. Then we met the other moms with Tuesday/Thursday preschoolers at the park for lunch. It was fun getting to know some new faces but my time without Evie is so precious. I am not sure if I want to give up my time for lunch. On Wednesday's, they get together with the kids for playdates. Evie's social calendar is quite full and sadly her social calendar is our social life! Henry did not make a peep for the first few hours then he decided that he was ready to eat. I can understand that because I am cranky when hungry too. It is amazing how easy it is to take him places. He sleeps a lot or takes in the scenery - much easier than those early weeks before his reflux was under control.

Evie was in the best mood when we picked her up from school. She had sponge-painted an apple and was so impressed with her art skills. We came home and all watched a movie together. It makes me laugh because Evie did not watch television until she was almost 2. I am a bit of a stickler for those American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines but am being more relaxed with Henry. He's so little that a movie with his sister should be okay. Evie loved watching Pooh with her brother. It went well except when Henry almost got clunked on the head by a sippy cup. We had a little chat about babies heads and that they are really soft so it's important to be careful. Not sure how much of that Evie got because she announced that his head was fuzzy. You got to give her points for that one . . . pretty good observation for a two year old.

Anyway, we did a few things around the house while we anxiously waited for Daddy to come home! I am always happy to see Carl but especially on Tuesday and Thursday because Evie is tired from school. That makes it a bit more difficult to keep her entertained.

I am exhausted so it's off to bed for me! whirlwind

Monday, September 26, 2011

Best Baby Buys

Henry is almost three months! It seems like it's going way faster this time. I thought you might be interested in some of my favorite baby buys. Your needs may be different especially if you only have one child. Henry does not get held by me nearly as much as Evie did at his age. He does not need it and likes to be able to look around which is hard to do when someone is always holding you. It works for us both although of course I sneak in lots of cuddles with my sweet baby boy! These products have all been lifesavers for us and I will plan to do a re-cap at 6 months because as Henry grows my favorite baby products will change.

1) Moses Basket: You have noticed all the pictures of Henry in his basket, right? It is clearly one of our favorite places to stow Henry. He used to sleep in it a lot more but now we use it for a quick place to put him down while we tend to Evie. It's faster than a swing or bouncy seat because there are no buckles or belts to click him into. He just hangs out and looks around. We love to put him in the Mose's Basket to go outside. Henry will look around at the trees and the sky for the longest time. I do not feel comfortable carrying the basket by the handles with Henry in it but will carry him like that occasionally. Remember, I am a Nervous Nelly and worry that he will fall out the bottom. You could definitely borrow one of these or buy it used to save money! I wish that I had this with Evie because it's such a nice piece and it has stood the test of time. Generations of mothers have used these and they still continue to be a popular baby item.

2) Miracle Blanket: It really does work miracles. Babies love to be wrapped tightly and this blanket does the trick. They are about $30 and we used one with Evie too. I ordered another for Henry since he is way more prone to diaper issues than Evie so we wash it a lot! It would be nice to have two and you could buy this used too. We bought our extra one off Ebay for about $12. Henry sleeps so well in this and has to be swaddled to sleep unless he is in the swing.

3) Swing: Henry loves his swing and so do we! He spends hours in there because reflux makes it harder for him to sleep while lying flat on his back. Henry likes to be swaddled even in the swing but he's getting so big - it's hard to fit him in the swing with his swaddle on. We did not buy a swing because Evie hated the one we borrowed for her. She would not sit in there more than one minute before she began screeching for help. We were lucky enough that my friend Kristin let me borrow her swing. Babies love swings or most babies do! I'd borrow one of these or at least buy a used one because they can be pretty expensive. We could not live without this swing!

4) Bouncy Seat: There are lots of bouncy seats out there. We chose ours because we liked the animals on it. Great reason to choose baby equipment, right! It was also super cheap at less than $20 and someone gave it to us when Evie was born. Evie loved it and we put her in it every night during dinner. Henry sits in there a lot too! Moms on Call suggests using a bouncy seat as a place to put your baby after the bath. So, Courtney let us borrow her bouncy seat so we have two which is especially nice if you have two floors in your house. Every night, Carl gives Henry a bath and drapes a towel over the bouncy seat then he can easily place Henry in the bouncy seat so he does not have to stand up while holding a slippery baby! Those Moms on Call really do know what they are talking about.  Try this technique  - it works!

5) Chair: You are going to spend a lot of time feeding your baby! Hours and hours a day - no one told me this so I am telling you in case you do not know. Sure wish someone had told me this because those first few weeks were spent feeding, feeding and feeding!  Breast or bottle, babies eat frequent small meals day and night. Their little bellies cannot hold much so they are constantly on the search for more food. So, that means you need a comfortable place to sit in the nursery. I am so thankful that I bought my soft, cozy chair with an ottoman. It's so pretty and makes those late night feedings much easier. During the day, I feed Henry in different spots throughout the house. Kristin gave me this wonderful advice because it keeps Evie from getting bored. She has different toys in every room so it cuts down on lovely behaviors such as emptying out dresser drawers, squirting entire tubes of diaper rash cream on the floor and taking every book off the bookshelf in her room. My wise friend Maura told me that toddlers learn quick that when you are feeding a baby- it's their opportunity to push the envelope! Evie picked up on that real fast!

6) Hot Sling: You need a carrier for your baby especially if your baby likes to be held. Henry is content on his own a lot but Evie loved to be held. She would still let me hold her all day so that is just a personality thing. I put Henry in the hot sling to go outside or if I am out somewhere and need my hands. Be extremely careful putting your baby in and out of the sling. I almost dropped my sweet boy last week in the parking lot of PD's. Thankfully, I caught him just in time. Catching a ball is not my strong suit but I can catch babies. Hot Sling is fabulous for the first few months but then you will need a new carrier unless you want to schedule back surgery. Seriously, babies grow so fast and you will be surprised at how heavy they feel when  you are carting them all over the place. It's almost time for me to pull out the Ergo.

7) Mamaroo: I hesitate to put this item on here but since I spent more time thinking about buying this contraption than I did buying my house - it's on here. Mamaroo is designed by moms and mimics a mother's movement. You can choose several different settings for your child - tree swing, car ride and kangaroo. Maybe, I did not begin using this in time but it's not his favorite spot in the house and it was expensive. I did buy a refurbished one and had a coupon code but it was still the most expensive thing we have bought. Not sure it was worth it but it sure looks nice in my den. Your baby may love this and I am working really hard convincing Henry that he likes it too. Henry does enjoy the view of the ceiling fan from his Mamaroo but he would like that view from the carpet too. Lots of people love this thing so again it may just be me!

8) Play Gym: We love the play gym and Evie used it too. It was a gift from some sweet friends - Courtney, Allison and their mother, Gay! Henry and Evie get in that play gym every day. It grows with the baby and he will still be using it for many months to come. There are no buckles to snap on this one either so it makes a nice place to toss your baby while rescuing your toddler from locking herself in the bathroom or emptying the diapers out of the diaper genie.

So, there you have it - my favorite baby buys! What are your favorite baby buys? I'd love to hear just in case there is another Niemeyer baby in the future. Henry is so sweet that it makes this baby thing a piece of cake! Now, the toddler years will here before I know it and that will be a whole new ballgame so that may be a game changer. Babies are wonderful because you can usually figure out why they are crying and they can not escape yet. Hope this helps you out.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up!

"Where are we going now?"

I cannot believe this sweet girl is 3!

Only 4 more months until Evie turns 3 . . . time goes too fast!

Not only was the cake beautiful, it was amazing! I even snuck a few bites and she is making a cake for my MOMS club event for this Friday. I cannot wait to have some more!

Maura showing Evie how to play the princess game! Evie told me, "I like Maura."

Sydney and Victoria hung out right here the entire party! They are such calm babies!

Evie is checking out Victoria to make sure that her heart is still beating okay.

"Okay, folks where is that cake?"

I have a picture just like this from the first, second and now the third party! Evie loves to participate in present opening of any type. She does not even care if the presents are hers or not.

"I do what you does, Henry."

Checking out something on the iPad with Daddy.
We had a great weekend. It just went by too fast. Friday was a low-key night. I went to get Henry's new medicine and then picked up some Thai for dinner. Evie ate a few bites of her spring roll and the chicken. Her favorite part was the rice! Of course, that would be her favorite because it is super messy getting rice into a toddler.

Saturday, we took off for the Farmer's Market. It was a gorgeous morning and it was fun to get out and enjoy the weather. Evie got her doughnut fix and I picked up some fresh baked bread along with some goat cheese. My doctor suggested goat cheese because it does not have the same type of milk protein that is in cows milk. That protein is what aggravates reflux in Henry.

We played outside a bit before naps and then headed to the Onello's to celebrate Abby, Victoria and Sydney's birthday. Evie had a fabulous time at the party and seemed like such a big girl. She made a beautiful tiara and ran around in the backyard. Henry enjoyed looking around at all the big boys and even made a friend that is one day younger than him. He's a BIG boy too so that made me feel better about Henry being so big. Maura did a princess theme and there were lots of pink decorations which made our little princess so happy. We all enjoyed ourselves and dinner was delicious. Henry did not enjoy the ride home. I am starting to wonder if he does not like being in the car at night. He literally stopped crying the instant we came in the house. Hope he gets over this soon since it will be dark around 4:30 by November.

We hung out at home most of the day. I did sneak out to see a movie this afternoon. I saw "I Don't Know How she Does It." I read the book before I was a mother and did not really get it. Now, I totally grasp the concept of mothering being an all-encompassing job with worries that never cease and lists that are never completed. It was so nice to get out by myself for a bit.

Carl and the kids had fun too. They watched a movie and made popcorn at home! That goes right along with Evie's theme of "I do what you does."

Hope you had a great weekend too!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Saving Savvy!

I just finished Saving Savvy this afternoon! It was an easy read yet full of important information. My biggest struggle in the budget department is  . . . grocery shopping so this book was definitely helpful! Not sure why, but I LOVE grocery shopping and spend way more time going to stores and spending way more money than necessary. That means, I should always have a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry, right? Not the case! I have tried lots of things over the years and it looks like Saving Savvy is going to be the answer that I have been searching for. You'd think this would all come a bit more natural to me considering my grandmother taught Home Economics and my mom is a coupon queen herself. I have vivid memories of her standing in the kitchen going through piles of coupons and making these lists using abbreviations that never really made sense to me. Maybe I should have paid more attention.

Saving Savvy is written by Kelly Hancock, author of the blog Faithful Provisions. She lives right here in the Nashville area and I have even seen her twice. She's a bit of a local celebrity among suburban moms. Just in case you are wondering, I saw her at Evie's preschool last year and then another morning at Storytime at the local library.

Kelly got interested in saving money at the grocery store when she decided to stay home with her two children! Does that sound familiar to anyone? Most of us could trim our budgets which gives you more money to spend on the fun stuff!

 Several things really stood out to me in her book. Kelly suggests that you set a grocery budget. Of course, that it is not new information and believe it or not I have a budget that I stay within most of the time. It's just my budget is way too high and could be easily cut back without sacrificing our favorite foods. Anyway, one of the first steps is to make your grocery list with your needs and your wants. Shoot for 80% needs and the other 20% should be used for stocking up and some wants that your family may have. Over a period of time, your percentages should begin to flip-flop while you serve your family using your stockpile. Kelly does not recommend having 30 bottles of mustard or 10 bags of flour. Instead, she advises buying your favorites when they go on sale and buying enough to last until the next sale. I tend to think of grocery shopping by the week but need to be more aware of buying items especially ingredients while they are on sale. Obviously, you should still stick to your budget and not buy more just because it is on sale. After three to six months, your stockpile will be large enough that your weekly grocery bill will be much lower. You then will spend 80% of your budget on items that are on sale that your family uses and the other 20% on your weekly staples of milk, eggs, bread etc. That makes a lot of sense to me especially since she cut her monthly spending from $1100 a month to just a few hundred dollars! Now, that is some savvy savings. Think what you could do with that chunk of change!

Coupons are great ways to save money too and the book was filled with easy suggestions on how to use them more effectively. Apparently, I had been wasting my time with coupons all these years! I may begin using a coupon database to search for coupons for the items that I already purchase such as diapers, juice and packaged food. There are even coupons for meat and produce which I always thought were super hard to locate. I really liked the idea of a list of the best prices for food. Faithful Provision's has a list already made which makes it much easier to get started.

There is so much information in this book that I am barely scratching the surface. Some of it may sound like information you already know but the book goes into everything with a lot more depth. Dave Ramsey is endorsing this book so you know it is full of cost saving measures.

Best Practices that I Gained from the book:

1) PLAN, PLAN and PLAN some more - I am much less likely to spend too much money if I know what I am going to serve my family for dinner.

2) Inventory: Keep a basic or even a detailed inventory of what you have and what you need.

3) Organization: Food that is organized in the pantry and freezer is more likely to be used.

4)  Terrific Tips on flash freezing food, ingredient based cooking and kitchen prep days.

5) Coupons are a great way to stretch your money so you can give more to food banks and other service groups!

Hope this gets you excited about saving! Evie and I cleaned out the fridge and freezer today along with our pantry. I am ready to be savvy and will post updates on how this all works out for my family.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spectacular Day!

We had a great day! Evie was so excited to wear her new sparkle shoes to school. She said, "Evie a princess, Mommy. You a princess too?"

Evie went to school while Henry and I met Courtney in Franklin for a little shopping. We had so much fun perusing  the fun little shops in Franklin without anyone making snack requests, pulling on our leg or asking three million questions! Henry did not make a peep except when he decided it was time to eat. He is such an easy baby and I am so thankful for his sweet personality.

Courtney and I found lots of things that we'd just love to bring home and we even bought a few things. Courtney found a little medicine bottle which is just perfect for administering Henry's medicine. I bought a few birthday presents and a baby gift too so that made me feel  productive. It was fabulous to take a day off from the mundane household duties and enjoy some special time with my sweet friend.

Evie was in such a great mood after school. Usually, she is exhausted and it can get a little crazy during the arsenic hours.She was starving today and was requesting snacks faster than I could dole them out. Hummus and chips were her first request, then she wanted some Nerds! Why not, so Nerds appeared for my little Evie.

 I am feeling the need for some exercise these days so I loaded the kids up in the double stroller and we headed to the park. It was a HUGE endeavour just getting out of the house by the time we had snacks, blankets, and the camera. I was so happy to have my camera because we saw two deer frolicking through the field. Several people were standing alongside the path while the deer made friends with a rabbit and her baby. Evie was enthralled by the deer and I was so glad that I lugged my camera out there. Afternoons make for some amazing light and Evie looked especially beautiful as the sunlight worked it's magic. Evie wanted to frolic through the field too but the grass was entirely too high for my comfort level. Not sure what could have been hiding in there. She was appeased with throwing the Frisbee and jogging down to the water fountain. Evie kept announcing that this was such a fun day so that made me happy. It's the simple things that make our children so happy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday!

Evie calling Nana on her "Nana phone."

Henry taking another snooze in his swing!

Evie is so proud to be a big sister. She told another little girl this morning to "back up, that my Henry" when she thought that the child was a bit too close to her brother. I was glad she did it because the mom did not even notice!

Henry is thinking, "Are you sure this is such a good idea?" He looks like he is 6 months old these days.

A rare picture of me with both of my sweet children! I love them to the moon and back!

Daddy with his two favorite kiddos. He is a fabulous Daddy!

Evie was helping Carl give Henry a bath. She got so wet that we decided just to put her in there too.
Now, that's more like it Evie.