Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dear 2015

Dear 2015,

So much has happened during our time together. You were full of many of Aiden's "firsts" so you will always be memorable for our little family!  I have watched my sweet, dependent little baby grow and change into an adorable little boy who loves life! It has been a joy to watch.

I had to come to terms with the fact that my blog was going to lack in creativity big time. Instead of creating pretty things and cooking lots of new recipes from my Pinterest boards, I was busy creating memories.  I'm proud that I was able to document all 12 months of Aiden, while also making his baby food myself and finish up a few projects in his room. We went on our first family vacation and had fun showing our little guy all the places we love around our city.

You taught me to be flexible and to choose to keep smiling through the crazy. I've learned to not sweat the small stuff. So instead of being upset that my son is covered in oatmeal from head to toe because he wants so desperately to feed himself, I laugh. Instead of being frustrated that my house is now Aiden's jungle gym, I choose to smile because I won't always find toy cars in my shoes. One day I will wish for this so I'm not going to wish it all away.

You were full of more changes and some heartbreak, but you helped remind me to rely on God for everything.  He is in control and He is good. That's all I need to know.

Here's a look back at some of my favorite projects, events, recipes and discoveries in 2015...

DIY Baby Food
Nursery Photo Wall
Nursery Storage/Baby's 1st Library

Gilmore Girls (how had I never watched this consistently before?)
Amazon Mom
Library Storytime
Childhood Time Capsule

As I sit here reflecting on all that happened this year, I want to burst. My cup is literally overflowing with thankfulness. Thank you for another full year of blessings that are too numerous to count. I can't wait to see all that 2016 has up it's sleeve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Festive Frames {Around the house}

My house at Christmas time is just my favorite. It's cozy, it's bright, it's festive. I love getting out all my favorite ornaments, watching Christmas movies and drinking warm festive drinks, baking holiday treats and best of all...Christmas jammies and extra family time!

These "frames" were all taken around our house the last few weeks. Drew and I have had the best time with our little guy this holiday season and can't wait to see his eyes light up when he sees what we got him for Christmas!

Here are some of my favorite moments...Watching Frozen with Aiden while feeding each other popcorn, staying in our Christmas jammies way too long, sending out cards, reading The Night Before Christmas (Thomas the Train style), Christmas movie date night in and a girl's night complete with baking festive goodies.  I just love this time of year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Traditions I Love (and some I want to start)

Christmas at the Zoo
Our zoo does an amazing job with their Christmas lights display. They turn the zoo into a winter wonderland complete with Holiday cheer for the adults (aka Peppermint Schnopps in your Hot Chocolate). If your zoo has a special Christmas display, go check it out!

Hot Chocolate and a Christmas Light Display
A park near our house always has a light display that you can drive through. Drew and I grabbed Starbucks to sip while driving through and I held Aiden on my lap so he could see all the lights as we drove through. We all loved it! If you don't have a particular place that puts on a light display, pack some hot chocolate and popcorn, get your PJ's on, blare the Christmas music and drive around your city!

Pictures with Santa
Even though Aiden won't remember the last two Christmases on Santa's lap, I just have to take him. There's just something cute (and hilarious) about kids in Santa's lap.

Making Holiday Treats
I love to bake. I love baking even more when it happens with friends. Here are a few of my favorite holiday treats that are tried and true:
Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt
Candy Cane Oreo Cake Balls
Cranberry-Jalepeno Cream Cheese Dip (no baking involved with this one, but it is delicious and the cranberries make it festive! Plus no one else will have this recipe at your holiday parties.)

Christmas Craft Show Shopping

Christmas movie night
This is self explanatory. Gather up your favorite Christmas movies and your favorite people, a cozy blanket and some snacks and watch by the light of your Christmas tree. Some of the movies on my must watch list every year: Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, White Christmas, Charley Brown Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, The Holiday. And let me just throw this one out there...who has seen the movie Prancer?

Spreading the holiday cheer with neighbors
Last year we baked some treats and walked around and delivered them along with a Christmas card to some of our neighbors. It was simple, it was almost effortless and it brought some smiles to the faces of our neighbors.

Sending Christmas cards

Going on a festive date
This year my husband and I planned a holiday date way in advance. We did some shopping, saw the big Christmas tree in our downtown, went out to a nice dinner and saw The Nutcracker. I highly recommend planning a holiday date with the one you love in advance to make sure you actually do it!

Christmas Eve Pajama Party
Every Christmas Eve we have dinner with my in-laws and we get to open a present, our Christmas jammies! I love opening a present early and I love that my mother in law pre-washes them so we can all match Christmas morning. Great photo opportunity right there.

Reading the story of Jesus' birth in bed on Christmas morning
We started this last year when Aiden was itty bitty. There was just something so sweet about being cuddled up as a family and reading about the true meaning of the season. Before any gifts were wrapped or any of the crazy began, it was calm and quiet and I hope to do this every year with my family!

Christmas Breakfast with Mickey
It is a dream of mine to spend one of my Christmases at Disney World. I've heard it's amazing. Until that day comes, my husband and I have a Christmas morning tradition. We make breakfast (this French Toast is the best ever) and watch Mickey's Christmas Carol.

A few traditions I would love to start with my little family...
Visiting the Holiday Train Display at the Museum
Visiting a toy store and letting Aiden pick out one of his gifts
Being intentional about Advent Activities

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Friday, December 18, 2015

{Festive} Friday Frames {Out & About}

My life is so jam packed right now and while I'm loving all of the festive hustle and bustle, I don't want to miss capturing some of my favorite moments here on the blog so I'm starting something new. Meet Friday Frames, where I'll be sharing some of my favorite pictures or "frames" from the week (or weeks) past.

Here are some of my favorite festive frames from the last few weeks including Aiden meeting Santa (he's not a fan), Christmas at the zoo, my holiday work party at the Bengals Stadium, shopping and more.
Tonight Drew and I are heading out on a holiday date and I couldn't be more excited!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Candy Cane Cake Balls {Holiday Recipe}

Raise your hand if you are in love with Trader Joe's. Okay. Now raise your hand if you've ever had their seasonal Candy Cane Joe-Joe's. If you haven't had them, they are like Oreos (only better) and they have a peppermint cream filling. De-freaking-licious. So when thinking about a recipe to make for a holiday girl's night in I thought: I want chocolate, but I want festive. Enter Candy Cane Joe-Joe Cake balls. I followed this recipe, but used Candy Cane Joe Joe's instead of Oreos and I love how they turned out! (If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, you can use Peppermint Oreos instead.) You can find my recipe below. I promise it's easy and the result is amazing.
36 Candy Cane Joe Joe's (or Peppermint Oreos)
1 package (8oz.) Softened Cream Cheese
4 packages (4 oz.) semi-sweet Baking Chocolate (I used Bakers)
Festive Sprinkles
1.) Place cookies in a large ziplock bag and crush into crumb sized bits. (I used a rolling pin)
2.) Add cookie crumbs to a large bowl and mix in softened cream cheese.
3.) Form into 1 inch balls then place in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow to set up.
4.) While the cookies are firming up in the freezer, melt your chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.
5.) After 10 minutes, dip balls into melted chocolate.
6.) Place on wax paper in a single layer in a dish
7.) Add festive sprinkles
8.) Place in freezer for 30-40 minutes until hardened.
9.) Devour or share with friends. The choice is yours. ;)
*This recipe is best paired with your best girlfriend, The Holiday and wine. Just a suggestion. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (and then some)

My little guy is a little late to the teething game. He starting popping his first tooth just a day before his first birthday. But now we are playing catch up and he is popping teeth like I pop sour patch kids at the movie theater. Thankfully, NUBY launched a new range of teethers on Amazon just in time for Aiden to test his new chompers on.
Aiden's favorite teether of the three is the Fruity Chew. We got the Orange and since my son loves all things fruit he "Mmmmms" as he chews on this teether. The handle makes it easy to grasp and it is great for him to chew on. I have even put this in the fridge to let it chill before giving him and he loves to chomp on it.
His next favorite is the Spin N Teether because it is not only is a teether, it's entertainment while he chews. He has tested out all the chewing surfaces of this toy and the chewy edges are perfect for him to bite. I love how there are multiple chewing surfaces for his ever changing gums.
Lastly, there's the Farm Animals Soothe-a-Loop. This one is his least favorite of the three, but he still enjoys it more due to the animals on it than the actual teething surfaces. I do feel like this one is the easiest to keep tabs on due to it's size. We took this with us on a long car trip and Aiden was able to hold it and keep track of it himself throughout our trip.
If you are looking for a new teether for your little one to try or you are looking for a little something extra for your little one's stocking the links to the teethers I mentioned are below:

Farm Animals Soothe-a-Loop
Fruity Chews
Spin N Teether

I did receive these items free as part of the Nuby Parent Blogger Program, but all opinions are my own!

Monday, December 7, 2015

{Baby Approved Meals} Vegetable + Egg + Cheese Orzo

*Disclaimer: My one year old loved this dish on days 1, 3 and 5 but refused to it in on days 2 and 4. Eating is an adventure at this age, just sayin...

1 cup Orzo
1 cup Frozen peas and carrots
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons Shredded Cheese
1 Tablespoon Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

1.) Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil
2.) Add the orzo and cook 3-4 minutes until al dente, stirring occasionally
3.) Add the frozen peas and carrots to the orzo and continue cooking for 2 minutes
4.) Drain veggies and orzo
5.) Whisk the eggs, milk and salt and pepper together in a separate bowl.
6.) Add cheese to egg mixture
7.) Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat
8.) Add the drained orzo and veggies to the skillet
9.) Add the egg mixture
10.) Using a rubber spatula, stir until the eggs are set and have coated the orzo/veggie mixture (3-5 minutes)
11.) Serve warm with additional cheese

Recipe adapted from here.
See other {Baby Approved Meals} here and here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Happy Thanksgivingmas!

This year we tried something new, we celebrated Thanksgiving AND Christmas in the same weekend with one side of the family, hence the title of this post. It was a crazy weekend full of lots of family time, but we had a fun and I think this might become a new tradition.

Friday/Shopping and Chili Cook off:
I love my extended family so much and despite me needing a vacation and 72 hours of sleep when we got back to Ohio, it was so worth it. And now I'm excited to be home for the holidays!

How do you celebrate the holidays with family that lives in other places?

Monday, November 23, 2015

5 Things I Forget to be Thankful For

A crying baby...
Ever since that lovely thing called Daylight Savings Time, my sweet boy has been waking up crying for his Mama at 5:00 AM. Instead of grumbling as I stumble out of bed to get him, I am choosing to be so thankful. Thankful that my baby is healthy and strong, that his lungs and vocal cords are clearly intact and that he wants me. What more could I ask for (besides just a few more hours of sleep?) I just love him so much and I don't ever want to take my son for granted.

A beating heart...
This may seem like a DUH, but when is the last time you stopped and said thanks for a working heart? My pastor said something the other day that made me really think. He was talking about how many times our heart beats in a minute, then in a day, in a year, etc. On average if your heart beats 80 beats per minute, that's 4,800 beats in an hour meaning your heart beats about 42, 048,000 times in a year. If you stop to think about your body and how everything works together it's just crazy. So today I'm stopping to be thankful for a heart that is currently beating strong.

A glass of water...
I actually really enjoy water, but only if it's really, really cold. As I poured myself a glass of filtered water into my cute Crate & Barrel glass from my working refrigerator I stopped to think about how precious water is. It is essential to my everyday life. I think back to a trip I took with my husband to Nigeria where we heard stories of people walking miles for clean water. Can you even imagine doing that? It reminded me to be thankful for clean, running water that is right at my fingertips.

Piles of dirty laundry...
I don't mind doing laundry, but lately it has been a huge chore because we are having our basement re-done meaning our washer/dryer are currently not hooked up. We have had to haul our laundry over to my mother in law's house for weeks. But instead of being upset about this I should be thankful for all the piles of laundry. Dirty laundry means that we are living life. My baby has mud on his pants from playing outside, my husband has pen marks on his nice shirts from a long day of teaching and I have the remnants of my baby's dinner on every.single.outfit. But I should be glad about this and thankful that I have enough clothes that I can go weeks without washing them.

A car that {mostly} works...
Drew and I have been married for 6 years and have gone through a number of cars already. We went through a time when we felt like something was always going wrong with one of our cars. It was extremely frustrating. We rely so much on our vehicles. But you know what? If my car dies or a part needs to be replaced, it's not the end of the world and life will go on. I have family here who would gladly give me a ride or let me borrow their car for a day. And while it is frustrating, I'm thankful we can afford not just one car, but two.

These are only a few of the many things that I forget to be thankful for on a daily basis, but today I'm choosing to stop and to thank God for these not so obvious "gifts." 

What kinds of things do you forget to say THANKS for?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Aiden {12 months}

I have now loved and cared for this little guy for 365 days...52.143 weeks...12 months...ONE WHOLE YEAR. I just can't believe it. It has been the best and most full year. A year of breastfeeding (I'm so proud!), a year of changing diapers, a year of washing tiny clothes, a year of baby hugs and kisses, a year of figuring out just how the heck to be a Mom.

 I'm proud that I've actually been able to document each month. It wasn't always easy, but it was something I'm so glad I did. I've already had fun going back and being sappy  remembering all the fun things Aiden has done at each new month. I say it every time, but this month is my new favorite.
This month Aiden's personality has come out in full force. He loves to talk and he LOVES people. My Aunt said he's like a politician...always waving, smiling and saying hi to everyone he sees. He absolutely loves running errands mainly because of all the people he sees. 

His vocabulary continues to blow my mind. Right now his favorite things to say are Mama (I love being his favorite), Dada, Apple, Ba(nana), Choo Choo, Uh-oh, Peek (ABOO!). He also loves making animal noises and knows even the most bizarre ones like rooster, donkey and turkey. What?! I'm trying to get a video of him doing all the sounds, but so far no luck. He is also pointing to and saying body parts (Eye, Nose, Hair). He is one smart cookie. It's like his parents are teachers or something. (Haha. As if that had anything to do with it.)
Another exciting thing about this month...or maybe not so exciting for my drooly baby...Aiden has finally popped out a tooth and is working on popping 5 more at a time. It seems like they are all coming at once poor guy. I already miss that gummy smile of his, but I'm excited to see him with a mouth full of teeth too!
Aiden is such a B-O-Y. He is fascinated with any kind of vehicle and loves making Vroooooom noises. He still loves Thomas the train (Choo Choo) and is always carrying around a little car or train with him. He continues to love being outside and has recently decided to begin "collecting" nature items on our walks. He will be pushing his wagon and all of the sudden he's on the ground picking up bark or leaves and throwing them in his wagon. All boy I tell ya.
Aiden loves his Dada, but he is totally a Mama's boy right now and I am l-o-v-i-n-g it. He is always asking for me and now even points to pictures of me and says Mama. He melts my heart. I know this won't last forever so I am soaking up every single second of it.

A few stats about Aiden at twelve months:

Weight: 19.9 pounds...aww our little peanut. He is still in the 5-10th percentile for weight and height.

Height: 28 inches

Size Clothes: He is finally starting to fill out his 12 month outfits and he is wearing size 3 diapers.

Sleeping: Aiden is a rock star sleeper and napper. He is taking a morning nap around 9:30 and an afternoon nap around 3:00 then goes to bed at 7. The only thing messing this up lately are those darn teeth.

Eating: Drinking whole milk like a champ! No slow transitioning for this kid, he gulped down his first cup and yummmed the whole time. I am so proud that I was able to nurse him for an entire year and I plan to continue nursing him in the morning and at night for a while. But the big news is, I am officially done pumping! Praise Jesus. Besides milk, Aiden is eating pretty much everything we eat. Except peanut butter. That makes me nervous, but we will be testing that out very soon.

Random stuff only parents want to know:

Nicknames: Boo, Hunny, Pumpkin, Beebo, Peach, Love bug.

Likes: Making animal sounds, walking behind his push toy, drinking milk out of a big boy cup (with a straw!), saying HI to every one in sight!

Dislikes: Not eating what we're eating. He is starting to be a little more picky when it comes to his food and will push away his spoon or spit out any food he doesn't like. Uh-oh.

My favorite moments from this month: Celebrating Aiden's first birthdaytrick or treating, Aiden's first taste of cake.
         One Month Update          Two Month Update         Three Month Update        Four Month Update
         Five Month Update          Six Month Update         Seven Month Update        Eight Month Update
         Nine Month Update          Ten Month Update       Eleven Month Update                

And the monthly updates are complete!