Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Stroller Decision

I can’t tell you how informative it was to read everyone’s comments on Facebook and on the blog regarding double strollers. I love hearing how other people manage multiple children and after much thought and research I think I came up with the best solution for wrangling our own.

First, I had to get real with myself.

What was my main intention? Where would we primarily use it? Was I or was I not going to run with two kids? What did I like and dislike after trying a few out at the store?

I can’t recommend Baby on Grand more. It’s a local baby store and they have every stroller imaginable and weighted babies and car seats so you can get the best idea possible. Armed with Elizabeth, my trusty aide, I went in there and began test driving. The ones we test drove that day included the Baby Jogger City Select, the Baby Jogger City Mini GT double, the BOB duallie and a Phil and Ted’s Navigator.

Our main uses for a double stroller include: walks to the library, walks around the little lake by our house (woodchips), going around the lakes, walks to the playground, the zoo, mall occasionally, use in our neighborhood (no sidewalks and lots of curbs) and any family outings we take. (ie: orchard, fair, etc.)

First thing I realized right off the bat is that inline strollers are not for me. I have so many friends that LOVE the City Select but I could just not get on board. I’m so used to our Uppababy Vista and the City Select seemed SO long to me. Elizabeth also looked kind of squished. I realized it doesn’t have the highest seatbacks and to make it work better for our tall kid would require taking the sun shade off which was not a solution I really cared for. Not only that but it just didn’t seem right for where we live and everyday use in our neighborhood. If we lived elsewhere I actually think it could have been a contender.

So with that one out of the way, and the Phil and Ted’s following soon after, we were left with two side by sides. The Phil and Ted’s was a great option but we decided not to put the rumbleseat on our current stroller so buying something similar seemed kind of silly.

So now we are between the Baby Jogger City Mini GT double and the BOB. I loved both of them for different reasons. The BJCM has all-terrain tires, folds almost flat, is a bit lighter, has a higher seatback, and the baby could go in it right away without an adapter. The BOB wasn’t as big and bulky as I imagined, it offered the chance to run if I felt like it, and it pushed great. Though I must say so did the BJCM.

And then I began waffling. With the BJCM at a low $389 for a 2013 ($200 off retail) and the BOB 20% off at REI ($430), we were looking at some great deals. My husband convinced me to take some time, knowing we do not need the stroller ASAP and said to think it over and we’d buy the stroller in the fall. Whether or not we missed out on a deal.

BUT…then I went on a walk to the library with our daughter in our jogging stroller which I really like. And I got to thinking, would I really run with both kids? I did run with Elizabeth last summer, but two kids, that’s a different story. And what about when I wanted to go and walk somewhere else? The BOB isn’t much bigger but it’s enough that I wouldn’t necessarily want to be carting it all around town, in and out of the car. And by the time we returned home I had an honest moment with myself, told my husband, walked inside and ordered our stroller.

It’s probably no surprise how this will end. My honesty with myself that even though I like running, I probably wouldn’t run with two, tipped me over the edge for the BJCM GT. And since we have no claims over this little life that we pray will be born healthy in 24 weeks or so, I also knew that I could recoup the cost of the stroller if sold on Craigslist since almost every 2013 is sold out in our area.

It came today and of course we test drove it. So far, we really, really LOVE the choice we made. It folds really small, the sun shades are huge, the handlebar adjusts, and it drives like a dream. And if it comes down to me craving to run with two kids, well then we’ll tackle that hurdle when it comes.

Until then I’m a walking mom.

image-1

image

Friday, April 11, 2014

ON little girls

Seems like forever ago when the paint hit the wall. Ballet Slipper Pink was the color declaring our girl. And mixed emotions filled my mind and my heart. What to do with the multitude of emotions. Being the mom of a girl. Boys just seemed easier.

And don’t get me started on my own history. All my mistakes. All my baggage. All my stuff. How could I ever be a mom to a girl. And then Elizabeth came. Being the mom of a girl has changed me in so many ways, so many really good ways. I’m seeing the purposes in giving us a girl. A girl we delight over daily.

And content, we assumed wrongly that she would be an only. And when we found out that news wasn’t true, I longed for another girl. For a sisterhood to be formed. For girls and twirls and pink and the sillies to fill our house to the brim. This time I knew the joy of being the mother to a girl and I wanted to do it all over again.

I’ve told my husband more times than he probably cares to hear that I think God wired him in such a way to have girls. He’s incredibly tender hearted and kind and generous and protective and gentle. He had our daughter’s heart from the beginning. God knew just what we needed.

And when the test results came in, it was Elizabeth and I in my office. And the receptionist conveyed that she couldn’t tell me the main result but could tell me gender and did I want to know? Of course I said yes and as she spoke the words, my heart leapt and I’m pretty certain I let out a joyful shout. And we began dancing and jumping and shouting aloud.

photo-2

And then we told daddy. And then the nurse called and let us know that our baby also did not have an extra chromosome. Our baby at this point is developing without any concerns. And our hearts were overjoyed at this precious kindness we didn’t deserve. Blessing upon blessing.

This is probably it for us. Two little girls. A little sisterhood that we can only pray will join forces with the very God who made them and joyfully and bravely walk the road He has for them. A sisterhood…I couldn’t have imagined it when we first began.

We are overjoyed to announce that we are having another baby girl!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chicken Cobb Salad

photo-1 (2)

Right after I had Elizabeth we had so many generous friends and family bring us meals. It is such a blessing for parents with a new baby. While all of them were delicious, there was one meal that really stood out. It could have been the really hot summer or the craving for fresh foods, but I think it’s really just the components of this super easy salad that won us over.

My friend Anne, despite the fact that she had her second just 11 days before Elizabeth was born, brought us the meal. It was simple, a big salad and some bread, but it was noteworthy and so very delicious. I think it was later that night that I texted her in need of the dressing recipe because I went on to eat some version of this salad for the next 3 weeks. Not lying!

Of course the salad came from one of our favorite cookbooks that we now own. While I love Ina and own all of her books, if I could only own one it would be the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It has so many of our favorites included inside that it’s really a great addition to any kitchen.

While the components of the salad are pretty humble it’s the dressing that puts this salad over the top. Last night over our heaping bowls of salad, Alex and I compared perfect bites. His is a combination of everything, while mine just has to include avocado and bacon. There’s something about this dressing when pared with the avocado and bacon that just takes it over the edge.

We add cucumbers to our salad and omit the blue cheese as neither of us are fans. The only other change is that I don’t care for hard boiled eggs so they rarely top our salad either. Although while not pregnant I will make them for Alex to enjoy. As a rule of thumb just include the amount of salad ingredients that your family enjoys. I rarely follow the the recipe to a T with the exception of the dressing. Follow that one! We often add baguette and butter to round out our meal but this salad is really filling and delicious without it.
So here’s the recipe. Today is a perfect 70 degree day here in MN so it’s the perfect day for this filling and delicious salad.


Chicken Cobb Salad


(adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook pg. 101)

Serves 6-8 / cut salad ingredients in half for a weekly meal for family of 4

 

Dressing:

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

3 T red wine vinegar                                                                                                       

1 T fresh lemon juice                           

1 t Worcestershire

1 t Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 t salt

1/4 t sugar

pinch pepper

 

Salad:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

1 T Olive oil

1 Romaine heart, torn into pieces

1-2 Cups spinach, torn into pieces or Bibb lettuce

1-3 Avocados, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 English cucumber diced

3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

8 ounces of bacon (8 slices) fried crisp and crumbled

1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup) – we omit

 

1. For the dressing: whisk all ingredients together or put in a jar and shake them/will last up to a week in the refrigerator

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and fry in skillet or place on grill. Slice to serve

3. We often assemble the salad in a dish or on individual plates and then pour the dressing over the top. Additionally you can toss salad greens in the dressing and then top with ingredients.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Boy or Girl?

When I was pregnant with Elizabeth I did a post based on what the “old wives tales would say” regarding gender. Because part of our family hasn’t received their cards revealing the gender of Baby #2 I thought it would be kind of fun to let you guess.

You’ll see there is a poll on the top right of the blog and you can go ahead and vote for whether you think this baby is a boy or a girl.

Here’s the details:

Wives Tale                                                         Answer B/G                           
Heart rate 140+ girl/under 140 boy?          HR: 155          GIRL
Craving sweet or sour?                              Sour/salty       BOY
Breakouts or clear skin?                             Breaking out  GIRL
Morning sickness Y/N?                                None             BOY
Craving citrus?:                                         YES                GIRL
Graceful or clumsy?                                  Clumsy           BOY

Also the Chinese Gender Chart predicted girl based on my age and month of conception. I’ve had plenty of friends with which this was wrong but with Elizabeth it said Girl as well.

Just a few more days and I’ll let the cat out of the bag:)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Simplified Grocery Shopping {printable list}

A few weeks ago I sat down and finally tackled my grocery shopping. For too many months I had let things go and we were spending WAY too much at the grocery store. I often went without a plan and as a result I forgot things that we needed. And as a result, I would end up at the store more often retrieving the forgotten items only to pick up more random things we really didn’t need.

 photo-1

While I was still staying in our budget, I wasn’t really happy with the way I was going about things. This year you might remember I’m working on prudence and this was one area I knew I needed to get under control. With another baby on the way, I wanted a system that would make life easier and help us get out the door and finish our shopping faster.

So I made a master grocery list. There are many versions of these if you search the internet but I wanted one that was customized to the things we actually ate. There are a few staple items like lunch meat, condiments, ice cream, Cheez-it’s and pop that my husband really wants us to always have in stock. After forgetting so many times, this list has transformed my shopping.

I’ve also started menu planning again and although I haven’t quite gotten to the point of planning for the entire month at once, I am planning for the week and that makes grocery shopping even easier. My friend Jenny recently posted her monthly menu on Instagram and I was so inspired that I think it may be in our future. Her monthly menu planner template can be found here. Right now we have some days always planned; like some version of pizza is always on Friday and Sunday after church we always go out to eat. But filling in the gaps and having a plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner is not something I have been doing. But I’m inspired to start!

The list is divided into general categories and oftentimes you will notice I will just list one item like chips-assorted. I have enough room that I can just write in whatever type we are out of instead of having to list them all. After I menu plan, I take a highlighter and go through the list, checking my cupboards to see if we are out of, or almost out of anything. It doesn’t take long at all and as I go I highlight what we need at the store. By using a highlighter what we need is really easy to see and read while we are shopping.

With 6 major grocery stores within 3 miles of our house (Aldi, Sam’s Club, Rainbow Foods/Copps, SuperTarget, Trader Joes, Whole Foods) we have our pick of places to go. It’s not uncommon for me to cart our daughter around to more than one store to get what we need. For example, today we hit up Aldi, SuperTarget, and Trader Joes, and we had our entire week’s grocery shopping done in an hour from start to finish. Having the list has cut down on the amount of time we spend randomly walking the aisles and we can be in and out really quickly.

I made my master grocery list in Excel but I’m including a downloadable copy a Google document. It’s divided into categories based on general grocery store layout (ie: dairy, meat, produce, baking, etc.) The best part is that if you have a printer that can print duplex, your entire list will fit on one sheet of paper. Also it’s entirely customizable…so you can create a list based on exactly what your family eats.

Hope this helps make grocery shopping just a bit easier and less stressful!!

Google Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmyaXvq-lg5FdHhVT1MzcEF3dExvV0FVVFdrQmFvOGc&usp=sharing

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First Trimester Recap

Today marks the first day of the second trimester!

Somehow it seemed as if the first trimester went by in the blink of an eye. I think, personally, I’m still kind of in shock that we are having another, that each time we go to the doctor or see the baby it all seems so surreal. I really never allowed myself to think that we would have more kids.

All that being said, we are really excited and every time I see Elizabeth around other babies I get even more excited. She LOVES babies…fake ones and real ones and I know she’ll be a great helper.

I’ve made it so far with very little to complain about. I’m sure it’s genetics but I haven’t had any morning sickness, some nausea in the very beginning, and now I feel pretty good. With Elizabeth I was exhausted all the time, but somehow this time, although I’m tired it doesn’t quite feel as overwhelming as last time.

Things that are different this time around…I haven’t taken one picture of my belly! And as of this past week, yes, there is a belly! I’m still trying to wear things that don’t show it off as I’m not convinced that it looks like a real baby belly yet!

My belly probably looks similarly to when I was 14 weeks last time: 14 week update

In lieu of my longer posts like the last time around, all found under the Pregnancy tab, I’m just going to give brief updates here and there.

How far along: 14 weeks

Gender: Uncertain, although we may find out this week

Weight gain: 2 pounds

Maternity clothes: When I switched our closets a few weeks ago I put all my maternity things in. So I’m in maternity even if I don’t need to be quite yet because it’s what is in my drawers. Although I can still wear my regular jeans! Belly seems a bit higher this time.

Stretch marks: No…relying on Palmer’s Cocoa Butter in the jar

Belly button in or out: almost out…much earlier than last time

Sleep: amazing!

Best moment this week: Having family in town for the weekend and getting to see Elizabeth play with her cousins

Miss anything: Not yet!

Movement: Not yet, but counting down the days!

Cravings: Throughout the first trimester they were very much the same…fast food, pop, juice, and citrus. I’m still loving chips, any kind of juice, and pizza!

Looking forward to: Here’s where a prayer request comes in!!

We, as a couple, always opt in to the First Trimester Screen. Our insurance covers it and we like to see the baby one more time on ultrasound. With Elizabeth my blood work came back positive indicating an increased chance that she would have down syndrome. This time we knew it would probably come back positive again and it did. Although I’m 3 years older and our chances are a higher this time around. With Elizabeth we opted out of an amnio and instead did a Level 2 ultrasound which ruled out any DS markers. We did not know 100% whether she had it or not until she was born. This time there is a new blood test that can be done with 99.9% accuracy that can indicate DS in your baby. We opted to have that test done because again it was covered by insurance and we, as a couple, would rather know as soon as possible. Not to terminate but instead to wrap our minds around it, get advice, better understand what is to come, have the correct team in place at birth, etc. Along with DS the test also can indicate gender based on sex chromosomes. So hopefully by the end of the week we will know both of those things…or early next week. We are just praying that if the Lord would choose us, to have the privilege to bring up a child with DS, that our hearts would welcome that news, and that first and foremost, our baby would be protected and growing and sustained.

SO…we are looking forward to that test result!!


Happy first day of April…hope no one was fooled too badly! (BTW, none of this was a joke:))

Friday, March 28, 2014

Elizabeth at 21 months

Oh my goodness this kid is hilarious!

I actually can’t quite get enough of her these days. She’s continually amazing us at what she can accomplish and do. I tend to be pretty laid back so she’s able to try just about anything on her own, with safety accounted for of course.

Her very favorite words to utter are “I do it, I do it” and then upon doing whatever it was she’ll get a huge smile on her face and say “I did it, I did it.” She is so proud of herself when she can figure something out and we of course are proud of her just for having the gumption to try.

Each day looks relatively the same with some exceptions but for the most part our days begin between 7/7:30. She usually wakes up really happy so we set out for a leisurely morning. Following wake-up we get started on breakfast and empty the dishwasher. This is by far one of her favorite tasks. She is in charge of the silverware and all plastic plates/containers and she does it all without even being asked. During breakfast we’ve been reading our Jesus Storybook Bible and she is totally in to it; we often finish more than one story. If we even forget to bring it out she’s right there reminding us “bi-bal, bi-bal”. After breakfast we usually turn on her morning show, 25 min., so that I can shower and get ready without having someone pulling everything out of my makeup drawer. The last time I showered without a show on she ended up opening the lotion container and looked like this:

DSC_0124 (2)

After that we are ready to get her dressed, her teeth brushed and we are usually out the door by 9 if we have Bible study or MOPS, otherwise we are off to run errands/play somewhere/or we head to the basement to do laundry and play. Lunch is around 12 and nap starts around 12:30/1. She usually sleeps for 2 hours so during that time I get whatever relaxing thing I want done. I really try not to use the time to get a lot of house things done because I really want her to see mommy’s “work” and be able to participate if she wants. Following naps she gets her second show of the day, same length and a snack. Then we are off for more errands, for cleaning the house, prepping dinner, or just playing downstairs or outside. Around 5:30 Alex comes “home” and we eat between then and 6. Bedtime routine starts at 7 and she’s in bed by 7:15.

She’s really begun talking up a storm. At 18 months we really had to stretch to come up with 8 words that she said consistently and now she has well over 40, as I’ve stopped counting and writing them down. She knows quite a few animal sounds and the way she “neighs” is absolutely hilarious.

Elizabeth has always been really good at fine motor and she’s blown us away by what she can do. She’s an expert at puzzles, ones that have pictures in the background and ones that don’t. She loves playing with her duplos and building towers with her blocks. She’s just started getting her doll house out and moving the people about. She can kick and throw a ball, buckle any buckle, almost pull her own pants on and almost get her crocs on by herself, kind of do a somersault, and zip zippers. If she’s not doing those things you can find her flat on her belly with a marker or crayon in hand drawing on paper. She also loves stickers and dressing up. Oh and don’t get me started about babies. She’s obsessed. She definitely has a helper heart; she loves to clean up her toys, help clear the table, open doors and turn off lights.

It’s really fun for me to let her help. I see this burgeoning joy to serve others and help others that is not prompted that I just want to encourage and foster. I’ve already begun making a list of things to buy that will allow her to do more things on her own, like a stool and a mini pitcher. And she’s started laughing at things that are truly funny. We are always cracking up with her and the silly things she does.

So far she’s been a pretty good girl as far as acting out goes. She has her moments like we all do and although she has a bit of a strong will I’ve found it easier to accommodate and help her to accomplish what she’s trying to do rather than tell her no all the time because most of those things are far easier for me to do myself. I don’t mind tasks taking a lot longer than necessary because I often get sidetracked anyways and they still take me longer:)

While it’s hard for me to believe that in just 3 short months she will be 2 I’m pretty overjoyed to have been able to experience 21 months with her. I love getting to do life with this sweet girl day in and day out. AND I can’t wait for her to be a big sister because I have a feeling she’s going to LOVE it!