Friday, March 29, 2013

Peanut: Eight Months



Only one more monthly photo to go, yikes! I'm enjoying these last weeks of feeling Peanut kicking and dancing around in my belly. Excited to meet her soon!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Life Update

A brief life update. (When I write it all out, it looks like our week has been awful. But we've had some good times, too. And in the grand scheme of things, all our problems are fixable. It'll get better soon.)

Our basement flooded BAD Saturday. The worst it has ever been. A cooler that had been sitting on the floor ended up wedged above the ductwork. We're talking 5 1/2 feet of water. My HVAC guy got our heat back on Monday, but the entire furnace is going to have to be replaced. And this is after the expensive waterproofing work has been done. Obviously it is still a work in progress. The company has been very responsive, thankfully. They are scheduling a geo-technical engineer to come survey under the house and the yard and try to figure out where all the water is coming from. We'll see what happens after that. I am ready for this project to be finished and the water problems solved. I am very, very tired of dealing with this.

The Gent has the flu. He actually stayed home from work today and is in bed. I don't think he's done that in the nine and a half years we've been together. He's got the high fever, chills, and all the other classic flu symptoms. I called his doctor last night and got him a scrip for Tamiflu. Hoping that will help. I saw my ob this morning for my regular checkup and she wants me to start Tamiflu as a precaution. Says that is much better for baby than me getting the flu. I've been fighting a cold for the past ten days so my immune system is already down. I hate taking medicine while I'm pregnant, and I've already had a course of antibiotics during my first trimester (walking pneumonia) and three bottles of cough syrup (between the walking pneumonia and my current cold). And yes, we both got our flu shots. Thankfully the kids seem fine and I am hoping they stay that way.

But it's Holy Week. Sunday we will be celebrating our risen Lord! As Isaiah 60:1 says, "Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you." No more darkness, no more night. Instead, a Savior. For you. For me. For the world.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Slow Cooker Recipes

Here are a couple of recipes I've tried lately that made it into the recipe box.

Italian Braised Pork (Martha Stewart, with my modifications)
2 T olive oil
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
fresh ground pepper
small diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
3/4 t fennel seeds
1/2 c dry red wine (or cranberry juice with a few splashes of red wine vinegar)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
In large skillet, heat oil. Season pork with pepper and cook, turning occasionally, till browned on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, and fennel to skillet, cook till onion softened. Add wine and cook till reduced by half. (Next time I make this, I'm going to skip this first step and see if I taste any difference.) Add wine and seasoning mixture to slow cooker, along with tomatoes. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours. Transfer pork to cutting board and pull apart with forks. Return to slow cooker and stir to combine with sauce. Good over top of couscous. Leftovers are great on a sandwich.

Slow-Cooker Black Bean and Zucchini Chili (Real Simple). My kids ate this and loved it. Lately they've become very picky and I was surprised that they went for this. It is full of veggies and protein so I think we will be eating this yummy dish often.
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, cooked through (you could easily leave this out and have a vegetarian meal)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans, rinsed
3 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
1/4 c tomato paste
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T chili powder
1 t dried oregano
fresh ground pepper
Mix all ingredients in a slow cooker and simmer several hours. Top with sour cream, cilantro, and avocado as desired. Freezes well.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Peanut's Nursery



Peanut's nursery is finally complete, except for framing photos of her once she arrives and having her name monogrammed on the stuffed animal basket. Most of the furniture is the same as Annie's nursery. The green rocker is new (from Craigslist). The child's pink rocking chair was a gift from Bebe and Papa Rick to Annie but Annie has two rocking chairs, so she's sharing one with her sister. The teddy bear is to take her monthly photos with, so we'll have something to compare and see how big she's getting. I repainted the canvas above the bookcase with baby girl's verse: Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5). I re-arranged and added new artwork and knicknacks to make things look fresh for Peanut. I originally got the lamp for Annie's big girl room, but decided it looked better in the nursery and the lamp that was in the nursery looked better in Annie's room. New toy bins are from Target. I made the wreath over the crib with feather boas and a little hot glue. And at long last, the great rug ordeal is finally over.

This is the sixth rug I've been through. Way back when I was pregnant with Annie, I ordered the first rug but didn't like the color. So I sold it on Craigslist. At that point I was about out of nursery money, so I settled on an inexpensive shag rug from Target. It did the trick but I never really loved it, so I wanted to get a new one for Peanut. I ordered a rug I loved from Land of Nod. It came. It had a hole in it. They sent a replacement. It got a bunch of snags after one week. I sent it back. I ordered a rug from Overstock. The color was off. I sent it back. At long last, I ordered this one from Rug Studio. It had been discontinued so, combined with an internet coupon, I got a great deal. Yippee yay hurray!

Now all we need is a baby in about nine weeks and we'll be set!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

JJ: 22 Months


JJ has grown by leaps and bounds this month. His language is starting to take off and he's made great strides in controlling his tantrums. He loves being outside, drinking milk, and listening to music. He really enjoyed our trip to the beach. His mom has court next month, but JJ's social worker told me last week she doesn't anticipate anything will change at this court hearing. We'll see what God has in store for this little guy's future.

Monday, March 18, 2013

NeNe, Unca Mike, and the Beach

We spent the weekend visiting with Aunt NeNe, "Unca Mike" (that's how Annie says it), and playing at the beach. As the pictures below show, a fabulous time was had by all!

reading with Aunt NeNe

and JJ checking out the kaleidoscope

Annie and JJ thought this dinosaur was AWESOME

Daddy and Uncle Mike helping keep her baby doll safe from the dinosaur

beach babies. and my favorite man.

the girls (I decided to wear my bikini while I could--I sure won't be wearing it this summer, oy!)

JJ thought splashing in the tidal pool was awesome

I think Annie and JJ would both have played in the sand all day long if we'd let them






Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Peanut in 4D

BABY 4D PICS_0008 edit 1

It took three tries before she finally let us see her face. We tried two weeks ago and she had her hand in front of her face and was not interested in moving it. This morning she was facing my spine. We got her to turn around but the cord was in her face. So I went to see the doctor (all is well) and then went back to ultrasound one more time. And she finally cooperated, yay! My thanks to the very patient ultrasound tech! I also have some cute video of her yawning and waving her arms around, but it is in a format that I can't figure out how to post. You'll just have to take my word on her cuteness.

For comparison, here is Annie's 4D ultrasound. Think they will look alike?
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Room Updates

Honey and I have been looking for a small dresser for JJ's room that would fit between the windows and also serve as a nightstand. Could not find one, so we bought a four drawer dresser instead. The Gent cut off the bottom drawer and now it is the perfect size! It is painted white but the drawer fronts are a very pale blue.

We also found JJ a little bookshelf for his toy corner. I needed something that wouldn't block the air vent and this one with the open back is perfect. And it was on clearance at the same resale store where I bought the dresser. Yay for bargains!

This new ottoman for the family room is an early birthday present from Mom and Dad. The two cube ones I had (from Target) were not good quality and they were coming apart. This one is from Overstock and it looks great in the space.

And I was forced into a new dining room rug last fall. Huck had an upset tummy one day and my seagrass rug never recovered. I don't think I ever posted any pictures, so here you go. Another Overstock purchase--I think all my rugs are from there now!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peanut: Seven Months



I can't believe I only have two more monthly photos to do. Yikes! Good thing the nursery is almost finished (waiting on the elusive perfect rug . . . ) and I'm coming around to the whole pushing thing again. I do want to hold and cuddle and nurse our sweet little girl, and I don't want a c-section, so I'm reconciling myself to a hopefully short (was only about 20 minutes with Annie) but I'm-sure-will-be-intense pushing phase. And on that note, would you please pray with us for an uneventful labor and delivery, and an uncomplicated recovery? With Annie, all went smoothly until she was born. Unfortunately she swallowed meconium and wasn't breathing at birth, so I didn't get to hold her right away. And then I had some hemorrhaging and a longer than normal recovery period (about three months versus the usual six weeks). Really hoping the second time around is easier.

This month strangers are finally comfortable acknowledging my pregnancy. You always want to wait until it is completely obvious before you make any comments. :) Baby belly definitely fits that category now. Weight gain is right on track to end up about 25 pounds. The less I gain the less I have to lose, and doctor is very pleased with baby's growth, so I'm keeping to the same eating plan for now. My back is starting to bother me more and I'm trying to stay active to keep that at bay. Walking and yoga do the trick, it is just toting toddlers around that gets me! I try not to carry them much, but some things they can't do for themselves (like lifting JJ into his crib, getting them into carseats and booster seats at the table, etc).

Peanut is head down and I told her to stay that way. We'll see how well she minds, ha. She kicks and wiggles and moves A LOT. I love feeling her dancing around in my belly and can't wait to meet her in 11 more weeks! We are doing a 4D ultrasound next week so I will have more baby pictures for you soon.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Huck!

You are our lovable, goofy third fur child and we adore you. Thank you for being so gentle with Annie and JJ--you are their favorite dog!





Monday, March 4, 2013

Grocery Shopping

For years, I’ve been thinking there’s got to be an easier way to plan meals, shop for groceries and household necessities, clip coupons, and save time, sanity, and money. My plan is by no means perfect, but here’s the system I’m currently working with. Overall I’m pretty happy with it.

First, I gave up only grocery shopping every two weeks. We inevitably ran out of something and I made a trip to the store every week anyway. Now the kids and I go grocery shopping one day a week, to two stores each week. We shop at Publix every week, Walmart (for household supplies like paper towels and toothpaste) once a month, Aldi (for pantry staples, cheese, and meat) twice a month, and Sam’s Club (for dog food and a few other things) once a month.

Is Publix the cheapest store in town? No. Can I make it work for our budget? Yes. I browse their circular online each week and add to my list any sale and buy one get one free items we eat on a regular basis. I don’t have much pantry and freezer space, but I make the most of what I do have. I came home from a recent shopping trip with $50 worth of free items that we will actually eat (thin bagels, whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes, etc). And at Publix, I know the store will be clean and well-stocked, I can always find a double-shopping cart for the babies, employees smile and are helpful, they give my kids goodies like coloring books and crayons, and they load my groceries in the van. I will pay an extra few dollars for these services.

I created a master list for each store (Aldi, Publix, Sam’s Club, and Walmart) and I keep a copy posted on my fridge. Whenever I notice we are running low on something I mark it on the list. Presto! My shopping list is almost complete this way, without me having to sit down and figure out what we need.

The day before shopping day, I sit down and plan out the week’s menus. Usually this is only three to four meals, since I account for meals with friends, eating out, and leftovers. I make sure to double one recipe and freeze half. Then there is always a supply of meals in the freezer for days when I am too tired or busy to cook. This comes in handy for foster children coming and going, a new baby, and toddler tantrum days, too. Not that my kids--cough, cough, JJ--ever have those. :)

For menu planning, I have a well-stocked but purged old-fashioned recipe box. I keep it organized and no recipes go in there unless they are tried and true family favorites. I keep a folder with new recipes I want to try. Usually I tear these out of magazines. Better Homes and Gardens has easy, healthy recipes and is one I rely on often. I try to make at least one new thing each week. If the recipes are winners, they make it into the box. Otherwise they head to the recycling bin. I go through the box a couple of times and year and throw out anything that no longer looks appealing. This makes menu planning pretty easy.

After making my grocery list, I scan through and print off coupons for any items I regularly purchase. I’ve given up on other coupon sites; seems to be the easiest one to navigate with the best selection, and I’m going for time efficiency here.

Like I said, it is by no means perfect, but it’s the best I’ve come up with. Any tricks you use that you’d like to share?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Big Girl Bed and 24 month stats

IMG_1442 edit

Annie looks so little in her big bed! She is doing well with the transition. I usually have to put her back in her room a couple of times in the morning and again at nap time, but overall we are adjusting well. The nursery is empty for now and it seems so strange not to have a baby sleeping there, but I guess we will have another one soon enough. :)

A couple of updates to her 24 month post: we are finally down to one nap! She naps (or at least stays in her room) for about three hours. JJ usually sleeps even longer. No complaints from me about that. And we went to the doctor yesterday for her two year old checkup. Annie weighs 24 pounds and is 32 1/2 inches tall. She's finally out of the 10th percentile and into the 25th, what a growth spurt!

She is borderline anemic so we are adding an iron supplement and trying to get her to eat a richer-in-iron diet. Problem is the kid really doesn't like much in the way of meat and vegetables. I'm adding more eggs, raisins, beans, nuts, iron-fortified cereals and any meat she'll eat (which at this point is deli cold cuts and turkey sausage--she doesn't like cooked meat). And I'm trying to pair iron-rich foods with fruit high in vitamin C (which thankfully she loves) and not with dairy. Other suggestions welcome.