Change of Plans

Secretly, I am glad my daughter is only (about to be) four years old. Because a four year old mind can remember and hold on to certain things you tell them. As in, they honestly and truly never forget. But their understanding of time (when you say "a long time" or "a few years") isn't really developed yet. So when I announced back in May of this year that our family was planning a trip to Disney World next March, that was before Bryan and I began to dig into how much a trip of that magnitude would cost.
And also the fact that our now one month old son would only be seven months old. And how much fun could a seven month old (or his parents and older sister) really have at Disney World when he'll probably still be taking two naps a day and can't really ride anything? So when I found out last December I was pregnant and then discovered I was due in August, Bryan and I talked about a beach trip. Specifically, a trip to Gulf Shores. We discussed making the trip while I was on maternity leave, because my aunt and uncle have a condo on the beach. But then some other things happened and we didn't end up making that trip.

So instead of spending half of our income tax return to take two children to Disney World next March, we are looking forward to a week-long vacation to the beach. Even if it's too cold to swim in the ocean, the condo we are looking to rent has an indoor pool. Plus this will be our very first official family trip - just the four of us. I even ordered James a pair of swim trunks on clearance! I can't wait to see how cute he'll look wearing them!

We are looking at cutting our vacation cost in half, and this will give us some time away from our lives at home just to enjoy ourselves. I like to start planning super early and it gives me time to look at all kinds of things - restaurants to eat at, things to see and do, etc. So if you've been to Gulf Shores and you have small children like I do - give me some suggestions! We've only been once, and we spent most of our time at the beach. Right now we're looking at the zoo, a dolphin watch, and maybe some other fun family activities. I'm excited already and our trip is still months and months away!


I'm a Winner!


Okay so I continually enter contest after contest, be it locally or in the blogosphere. And it never fails that I never win. It's just my dumb luck, I guess. So I've been consigning some of Gracie's clothes at a place called The Kidd Next Door in our area, and they had a drawing the day of their grand opening for a handful of different prizes. One of the freebies was a $15 gift card to Beef 'O Brady's, which we've been to a few times since they opened. I am very excited that my luck finally changed and we get to enjoy a free meal! (And thanks to a tip from Amy, we'll probably be going on a Tuesday when kids eat free!)


You Asked, I Answered!

So last week I told you to ask me anything. Amy and Lyndsey jumped at the chance to ask me some random stuff. Here are my answers!

Amy asked:
What is your favorite food of all time?
Wow. If I had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be popcorn. If we're talking actual REAL food...my Granny's homemade cornbread dressing. Nothing in this world could top it.
What do you see Gracie being when she grows up?
You always want your children to be something wonderful and something amazing....if whatever she is doing makes her happy, then I say that's fine by me. I think she'll be involved in music where ever she goes. I've never seen a child who loves to sing that much! And she learns it quickly. But singing is in her blood. LoL!
How do you feel about arranged marriages (i.e. Gracie and Jackson)?
I don't know. He'd have to get rid of his imaginary friend, Allison, and we'd have to be a little bit more flexible with the whole Auburn thing. We'll talk about it over lunch sometime. :P
Do you think that twitter is highly overrated?
I think twitter is highly overrated and pointless. That's why I never use it anymore.
What are you having for dinner tonight?
Tonight (Saturday) we had homemade chicken carbonara that needed more sauce. I'll post the recipe when you come back from your cruise and we create our recipe blog!

Lyndsey McCrory asked:
How and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging back when my husband, Bryan, and I got married. That blog was called "Life as a Newlywed" and didn't last very long. Neither did the "Pregnant Life" blog that followed after that. But when Bryan's dad (who lives in Missouri) started visiting us and met Gracie, we wanted a way to keep him updated. Then my mom went overseas to Qatar in January of 2007, and it was another outlet for extended family to keep up with us. Now it has become a social network. Who are you if you don't have a blog now?
Do you want MORE babies?? :)
I think we've talked about this on Facebook before - are you asking a trick question? We are done. For numerous reasons, the main ones being (hello???) kids are expensive. Also my age played a factor in James being conceived rather quickly. Although Amy will tell you she got me pregnant. I don't know that she should phrase it that way. Yes, I would like more. But our family is complete with four. I am extremely blessed to have two beautiful, healthy children.
How did you decide on your children's names?
I love this question! Gracie's full given name is Gracelynn Kay. I decided on her name even before I was pregnant with her. Grace is one of my favorite names but I didn't like Grace Nelson. So my mom's middle name is Lynn and my mother-in-law's middle name is Kay. And there you have it! I used both grandmothers' middle names to make her name special.
James Edward, however, is special in his own way. I was positive during the pregnancy with him that HE was really a SHE. It was just the exact same pregnancy! Until they told me he was a boy. I hadn't bothered looking at boy names. So I became inspired and after talking it over with Karen one afternoon, decided to name the baby Edward after Karen's late husband Eddie, who passed away suddenly last September after double knee surgery. Eddie was a very important person (and friend) to me in the short time we knew each other. So after talking to Karen and then to Bryan, Bryan and I agreed he could pick the first name if I could choose Edward for the middle name. Bryan chose James because he had an uncle named James, and my grandfather's first name is James. So it's a family name.Long story but I love that question!
Do you still fix Gracie her "fancy" lunches in her "fancy" lunchbox?
I am a bad mom. Since the summer started, Gracie has been buying her lunch at school. I still use her lunchbox from time to time, and probably will when she goes back full-time (she is only going to preschool right now and being picked up at 11:30 - her school allows new siblings to have "maternity leave"). Anyway, I am not as creative as I used to be. I am hoping to get back on the wagon. She enjoys taking her lunch or buying it. But at least if I pack it, I know when she gets home exactly how much she has eaten.

Well ladies, thanks for the interesting questions! Maybe I'll do this again the future....maybe even an "Ask Gracie" edition!

Picture Post!

It's almost like wordless Wednesday, only not on Wednesday!
Don't forget to leave a comment and ask me anything. Amy is the only one who left questions, and I don't want to give her the idea that she's special enough to be the only person to ask me anything. Ha!

Oh and speaking of Amy: we are in discussions (ok, which means I flat out TOLD her) that we were doing a recipe blog together. Any suggestions on a name for our blog? I suggested Southern Comfort since Amy said it had to have something to do with the south. Apparently she has a problem with that blog title.....

Anyway, enough about Amy. PICTURES!!

This is the kind of stuff my husband takes pictures of when he thinks he does something funny. Ok, so it's a little funny...

Gracie is all about "take a picture of us, Mama!" right now. I wonder why....

Okay so Miss Leigh made James some curtains for his room, among other things. (note to self: take a photo of the finished nursery). Anyway, the following few pictures are of James. This is what he does, every time, when I change him on his changing table. I don't know if he's fascinated by the color of the curtains or the light outside the window during the day. But he stares and makes cooing noises the whole time. Unless he's screaming his head off because I'm wiping his butt. But that's another story!

I think James is going to be a lot like his big sister. From this handful of photos, he looks like Bryan to me. And Gracie started to look more like Bryan at this age. I think both kids will be a good combination of both Bryan and me.

WARNING: What you see is FAKE! It came out of the 50¢ machine at Applebee's. Saturday morning we went there to support my baby sister and her softball team.

What a show off!

I am working on some new recipes to have for the yet unnamed new recipe blog. For now, enjoy the new photos!


Ask Me Anything!

I am so stealing from Amy on this one. Then again, ask her how many of her friends I have "stolen" (HAH!).

So leave me some questions in the comments, and I'll post the answers....


I'm no Martha Stewart....

But Martha would be so proud!

Last night for dinner, I made a casserole that I created all by myself. If you have seen this recipe or one similar to it, lets just keep that between you and me. I was feeling very inspired and creative and down-right upbeat last night. I was cooking dinner, washing, folding, and hanging both of the kids clothes. That still sounds so weird when I say "the kids"! I bet some of you know what that's like...

Anyway! On to share my recipe, which (shocker) even Bryan said he enjoyed! Usually when I attempt recipes we have a bad time with them.

Creamy Chicken and Noodles
3 chicken breasts, boiled or baked and then shredded (I baked)
2 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers
1/4 cup melted butter

If you boil the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 while it boils. If you bake it, do so at 375 for an hour and then leave the oven on.Once the chicken is cooked and shredded, cook the egg noodles for about five minutes (just to soften them up, so they won't get too mushy in the oven!)
Drain the noodles. Mix the soup, milk, and sour cream with a wisk. Combine the noodles, chicken, and soup mixture in a bowl and then transfer to a greased casserole dish. Crush the sleeve of Ritz crackers and mix with the melted butter. Sprinkle on top of the casserole and bake for 20 minutes. We had our with garlic bread. Yum!

And in other sad news.....

I could watch Dirty Dancing fifty thousand times and only because I heart Patrick Swayze. Dirty Dancing is one of my favorite old movies. It's just a sad, sad day that another one of Hollywood's talented actors is gone.


My Tall, Fat, Big-Headed Boy!

If by the subject line you can't tell that James had his one month check up today, that is EXACTLY what the doctor said. Okay, maybe that's just what I heard!

Birth weight: 8 lbs, 8 oz.
1 Month: 10 lbs, 12 oz.

Birth Height: 20.5 in.
1 Month: 22 1/4 in.

Birth head size: N/A
1 Month: 40 cm.

That makes for one big baby!
He also had to have his PKU done (where they prick his heel) and he had to get his second Hepatitis shot. Thankfully, he only cried for a second. Bryan said the needle was REALLY long and she stuck it ALL the way in - I don't know, I usually don't watch!
Dr. Winston also advised us of something we already knew - all three of us, Bryan, Gracie, and I will be getting both the flu shot and the H1N1 shot when they are available. I am waiting on a call from my own doctor because I'm mildly allergic to eggs (not serious enough to be hospitalized or anything) so the pharmacist wants me to make sure before I head off to Winn-Dixie to get my shot tomorrow!

And in more Baby James news, we think he might have a slightly mild case of colic. The "witching hour" is normally between 8pm and 10pm, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to calm this child down. Then again, I'm thankful it's only a 2 hour time frame. I've heard colic horror stories about kids who cry NONSTOP. As in, ALL the time. We asked about medications but our pediatrician does not like to prescribe them. She feels like colic is something that will work itself out. The doctor just advised us to keep doing what we are doing, try the same repetitive movements (walking him, bouncing him) even so much as turning on the washing machine and putting him in it. OH WAIT! She said put him in the carseat and set him on TOP of the machine. My bad :)

I'm hoping it goes away soon....it's not any fun! But I am thankful that we are blessed and that a mild case of colic is our only problem!


Milk & Cookies

Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way now. I am breast feeding. I am not nursing, and have only nursed about four times since coming home from the hospital. Thanks to a somewhat stranger from a message board I'm on, I am exclusively pumping with a Medela double pump. Anyway, that only has a little something to do with this cookie recipe.

I posted on the previously mentioned message board about having a low milk supply. I've heard of all kinds of herbal supplements that can help like fenugreek, mother's milk tea, and blessed thistle - all things that apparently taste horrible, have disgusting side effects, and often don't even work to help increase milk supply.
Someone on the message board mentioned beer, and in the same post told me to google "lactation cookies".

The main ingredients in this recipe? Oats, which are said to help increase milk supply. Brewer's yeast which (when you open the can the first time) smells absolutely horrific but you don't notice the taste of it in these cookies....

And then there is flaxseed meal which MckMama uses a lot but apparently my good friend Amy thinks is disgusting. I bet she's never even tried it....

Anyway, I only had to buy the brewer's yeast (at your local health food or GNC store), the flaxseed meal (at the grocery store on the baking aisle) and oats to make these cookies. So with my husband's approval to at least give them a go, we bought all the items needed and I made them yesterday afternoon.

I don't know if they work. I've read mixed reviews, mainly ones that say they do work - some women seem to think they work instantly, others it takes a few days or a few batches. The recommended "dosage" is four cookies per day, and one recipe makes between 4-6 dozen cookies. Personally, I think it depends on how big/small you make your cookies. I filled a gallon sized ziploc bag with mine, and then rethought it and put them in airtight containers.

They taste awesome. I've read some other blogs where people have made them just to eat them, not needing the lactation assistance. And from what I've read about brewer's yeast and flaxseed meal, despite the fact that these are cookies - they are kind of good for you!

Happy "official" One month birthday to Baby James!!!


James Edward: One Month Old!

Here he is, folks! At one month old, James tried to talk to me for the first time last night.

Okay, if you consider trying to "gurgle" at me a form of talking - then he was talking! He and I were on the bed after he had his bottle, and I was talking to him about anything and everything. He had the hiccups, but he formed his tongue a few times and made almost what sounded like a "coo" or "ooh" sound. Too cute!

He is not yet sleeping through the night (I don't remember how old Gracie was, I'll have to pull out her baby book). He does sleep for longer stretches of time at night than during the day. He is becoming more alert! Thursday we had lunch at McAllister's with a friend from work, and he was continually looking around and swinging his arms and legs.

He likes to suck on his fingers when he's taking a bath. He'll also suck on my fingers, when he's hungry. Ha!

So here he is at two days old....

And here he is at one month.....

Okay so looking at the photos before I post them, I don't notice a huge difference. He does appear longer, and as far as his hair it's not as "oily" as when he was born. It is kind of fuzzy when you wash it, and seems to be thinning out on the top. I am excited and nervous to see what happens when it starts getting longer because any time his hair gets wet or he gets sweaty, I noticed instant curls to his hair. Kept short I think curly hair would be cute, but I was secretly hoping for straight hair like Gracie's. Oh well! It will be fun to experiment with it, if it is curly.

We spent the afternoon at Pratt Park after having lunch at Chick-Fil-A, all decked out in our Alabama shirts to get our free sandwiches! Here are some photos of Gracie playing the games they had set up for kids:


Baked Penne and Sausage

Okay, so I did it. The other night I made a trip to Books-A-Million to purchase the book Crazy Love for the first installment reading of The Bloom Book Club hosted by Jessica Turner and Angie Smith. Anyway, instead of paying $9.99 (plus tax) for a magazine that I can't even remember the name of, I pulled out a scrap piece of paper from my wallet and jotted down the following recipe. I made it last night for dinner, and it was absolutely wonderful!

Baked Penne and Sausage
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 lb smoked sausage, sliced (I sliced mine and then cut them in half again)
1/2 c milk
can of cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 1/2 c cheddar french fried onions (divided)
1/2 c mozzarella cheese (divided)
1/2 c cheddar cheese (divided)

Cook pasta according to directions. In a skillet, brown the sausage. In a large mixing bowl, whisk soup and milk together. Add half the mozzarella, half the cheddar, and half the fried onions and mix well. Drain pasta and add to soup/cheese mixture. Drain sausage and add to pasta. Bake @ 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses and fried onions.

I served this with green beans and crusty french bread! Wonderful!

Monday: James will be one month old and celebrating his first Labor Day at Pratt Park for the BBQ! I'm going to post pictures and see for myself (and for all of you) how he looks at one month compared to days old.

Also, I just took an idea from Parents Magazine and created a special chore chart for Gracie that I wanted to share on my blog. I feel like she has reached an age where she can help with certain tasks around the house. And I'm trying to help a friend from church with simple recipe ideas for herself and her brother, so be on the lookout for more recipes to come!


Swaddle Me!

We've had crying fits lately. Sometimes they last a good 10-15 minutes and include James holding his breath. Sometimes they don't last that long. Last night, after trying for ten minutes to console him (no stinking diaper, no gassiness, he had just eaten) I tried the last thing that happened to cross my mind. I grabbed his blanket and used what I had learned watching at the hospital to swaddle him. In less than five minutes, he was asleep.

I've done it twice since then and it seems to work like a charm, although when he's sleeping in our bed at night he doesn't like it as much.

If you are having this problem and don't know exactly how to swaddle, this link offers two different kinds of swaddling methods.


Best! Cake! Ever!

I am a cake-a-holic. If I could eat cake all the time and not gain any weight, I probably would. The fact of the matter is the only person who can get away with that in our house is my husband. But that's another blog post in itself....

My sister-in-law Tara is a member of the Prattville Service League. Each year they do a Labor Day BBQ at Pratt Park, and one year I actually purchased a cookbook put together by the PSL at the BBQ. I am a big fan of cook books, but the problem tends to be that I live and die by old tried and true recipes. Meaning? If I know I've made it and my tiny family will eat/love it, I don't usually sway from the old favorites.

But I was looking for something "different" for dessert: Not a homemade cake necessarily, but one that tasted/looked homemade that actually wasn't. I found that in Mrs. Karen's Chocolate Cake: (recipe follows)

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. crisco oil
1 1/2 c. water
1 package mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Mix together the cake mix and two pudding mixes (all of these are dry mixes). Add in everything else, except for the chocolate chips. Mix well and then add chocolate chips. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour (I had to bake mine for about 1 hour and 20 minutes because it wasn't quite done!). Let it cool in the bundt pan until totally cooled, and then transfer to a cake plate.

I have made this cake three times since my maternity leave started, and it is absolutely wonderful. Quick and easy and even better served with ice cream! Try it out and leave me a comment to tell me what you think. It is super moist and somewhat rich, so have a tall glass of cold milk ready!