Friday, April 11, 2014

Three Months: A Letter.

Dear Nora,
Three months.  Twelve whole weeks.  It can't be!!!  
I know it is so cliche, but it honestly and truly feels like we just brought you home from the hospital last week.  It has been a blur...such a priceless blur.  
Here are some of the highlights of your third month with us!

-Not sure on your height and weight exactly as we don't go to the doctor for a few weeks, but I know you are growing fast judging by how many newborn and 0-3 month clothes I'm already having to pack away.  :(  You are mostly wearing 3-6 month clothes, especially when it comes to needing some length in your outfit.  You are long, Baby!
-We are quickly trying to get through all of the size 1 diapers we were given when you were born, because you really should be moving on up to a size 2.  
-Your hemangioma on your side is growing even bigger.  We are taking you to a vascular anomalies specialist in a few weeks to discuss treatment options.  Because of the location of your strawberry hemangioma (or 'love bump' as we call it around here), it is very likely to be rubbed raw and begin to bleed.  It's located right where people have to scoop you up under your armpits in order to lift or move you, and that will be happening countless times a day for the next two to three years.  Thus, it is probably best to discuss a treatment to remove the hemangioma.  I don't want you to constantly bleed or be in any pain, but I also hate the thought of putting you through any kind of procedures.  Sigh.  We'll make a decision after speaking with the specialist.
-Your dark, fuzzy hair is coming back in on the top of your head, and you are able to hold your head up so well!  You are looking more and more like the little person you will become with each passing day!
-THE SMILES.  Oh.  My.  Word.  The smiles!!!  You grin and giggle and coo so so so much these days, and I absolutely treasure those gummy grins.  Sometimes you can't even concentrate on nursing because you're smiling up at me so much!  You'll get bashful and turn your head down when you get to smiling really big, and I LOVE it when you spot me or hear me from across the room and break out into a smile that says, "There's my Mommy."  :)  LOVE!!!
-You are beginning to realize that your arms and hands are connected to your body, and it is hilarious to watch you flail around on your floor gym and then immediately go still when you see your hand pass in front of your face!  You concentrate and go so slow, just watching every movement.  So funny!

-You're still eating every 3-4 hours during the day, and, after a quick dream-feed around 10pm, you are no longer waking up to eat in the middle of the night.  Woo hoo!  You usually make it till around 5:30 or 6am, and I am not complaining.  God bless sleep.   Amen.  :)
-Just like your sisters before you, you do not nurse like the books say you should.  Oh, the books.  ;)  Instead of laying tummy to tummy, you grunt and wiggle until I let you lay on your back with your head craned upwards.  Looks horribly uncomfortable, but all three of you have preferred to nurse like this, so what do I know?!  
-We had a bit of a nursing strike this past week, and I'm wondering if you were trying to tell me that you want to eat closer to four hours apart instead of three and only one side.  Okay then.  I'll just go with it, because, when I finally wised up, you went back to your happy, contented little self!  Message received, kiddo.  ;)
-Still going strong on those bottles--bless you!  You even took one from our sweet babysitter, Miss Kylie, without a fuss!  Woo hoo for date nights!  ;)
-I love your dream-feed most of all.  Daddy brings you to me, and while I feed you, he hops in the shower and shuts down the house.  During that time, I place you on my shoulder for a burp, and then we both snuggle down into my bed for a 20 minute snooze/cuddle.  Precious.  You are so alert during the day, thus I treasure this relaxed snuggle with you more than you know.

-For the most part, you go to bed for the night around 7 or 8pm, dream-feed around 10pm, sleep until 5:30 or 6am.
-You take 3-4 naps throughout the day, with the best naps occurring in the morning and getting shorter as the day goes on.
-Although it sounds mean, you nap mostly back in our walk-in closet!  It is dark and quiet back there, and this way you get peaceful naps, while your big sisters can still run and play throughout the house.  After those first few weeks spent shushing them after they'd startle you awake in your room during your many naps, we were all kind of miserable.  So, back to the closet you went!  Things went so much smoother after that, and I figure the season of you needing so many naps is very short.  You'll be napping once a day in your own room like your big sissies soon enough.  For now, you are well-rested and happy, the big girls can run and squeal and play to their heart's content, and Mommy is a lot less stressed.  ;)
-The 45 Minute Intruder still messes up your naps every once and awhile.  Most of the time, you fuss for a few minutes and then put yourself back to sleep.  Sometimes you can't get there, so we call it a wash and try again next time.  It really is the saddest thing to watch you be able to put yourself to sleep on your own...but then that dang nap Intruder startles you awake mid-nap.  Boo.
-You can still be held to sleep during the day if needed, but you are really starting to strongly prefer to be put down to sleep in peace.  I can't blame you.  I miss you, though.  :)  

-After a few insane months, we finally all made it back to church as a family.  A family of FIVE!  Crazy!  You have been great in our Sunday small group class and in church, and I don't want to send you to the nursery just yet.  I love the snuggles too much.  :)
-We spent the day with Aunt Schmoo and your cousin Charly, went with some friends to a town festival, visited Mimi for a day, spent a weekend just the two of us while Dad worked and big sisters were with Nama, spent some time with our step-fam gals when they came up to visit, had Aunt Schmoo and baby Charly come stay with us for a couple of days, made a trip to the library, and went on lots of walks this month.  It has been full and fun!

Sweet Nora, I miss you when you are asleep, and it hurts me how quickly time is rushing by...and there's nothing I can do to stop it.  So, instead, I'll take four bazillion pictures of you with my phone and soak up every minute that I can get.  I love you so.  Not sure what I did to deserve you, but I'm grateful to the Lord for loaning you to us.  :)

I'll love you forever, 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Cold Brew Coffee.

I've had a handful of requests for a blog post about the cold brew coffee I'm always posting about on, here 'tis!  This stuff is delish, super easy to make, low-ish calories, and inexpensive.  Take that, Starbucks!!  ;)  The recipe I use is an adapted version of this one from The Velvet Bird.  The beauty of this coffee recipe is that you can tweak it to your tastes very easily, plus you can experiment with lots of flavor combos.  I usually "brew" a large batch overnight on Sundays, and then I have a week's worth of yummy coffee concentrate ready to go in the fridge for the rest of the week!  

Here's what you'll need:

-1 1/2 cups of coarsely ground coffee 
(I grind mine at the grocery store on the coarse setting, but really you could just use regular coffee grounds and just strain them a little more carefully.  The coarse grind is less likely to slip through a French Press or fine mesh strainer.)
-8 tablespoons of brown sugar (or less if you want to cut back a few calories...I like my coffee sweet.)
-1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon (optional)
-A few splashes of vanilla (optional)
-8-9 cups of cold water depending on how strong you like your coffee
(I usually do eight cups and add extra water later if it is too strong after brewing.)

Note: This recipe makes about four to five Mason jars' worth of concentrate.  You can always halve it if that's too much.  I say, if I'm going to make something, I'm making a big batch to last me awhile!

1.  Pour the coffee grounds, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon (if desired) into a large bowl and stir for a few minutes in order to dissolve the sugar.  

2.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.  This is the "brewing" phase of the recipe.  I'm sure there are many wonderful explanations as to why cold-brewing is so effective, but I'll let you do your own research on that one.  I just know this:  'tis delish and strong.  Two very good things.  :)  (One time, I forgot about my cold brew mixture for 48 hours...let's just say I was buzzing around with shaky hands after that batch!)

3.  The next morning, stir coffee mixture another minute or two, and then use a French Press to strain the sweet nectar of life into Mason jars.  (If you don't have a French Press, you can use a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or sturdy paper towels.  This method takes a little longer to strain, but it's worth it.  I actually use this Le Creuset press and then pour the mixture through my mesh strainer juuuuuuuuust to make sure and catch any stray grounds.)

4.  Secure lids on Mason jars, and then line up your little army of STRONG, cold, scrumptious coffee concentrate in the fridge for the week!  This stuff will stay nice and fresh tasting for about a week to two weeks...but it never lasts that long in this house.  ;) 

5.  When you're ready for a taste, here's how I prepare mine.  I fill a Mason jar halfway with cubed ice, and then I pour in enough of the coffee concentrate to cover the ice.  Ends up being about half a glass of concentrate.  To that I add a generous splash of coconut milk creamer, a splash of vanilla, and then I top off the glass with cold water.  I used to not add the water, but it was just too strong without diluting it a bit.  Play around with the recipe to suit your tastes!  I've also added a drizzle of chocolate sauce, squirts of caramel syrup, and/or a few sprinkles of extra cinnamon depending on my mood that day.  ;)  Give it a good stir, and enjoy!  

Heaven in a Mason jar...with a little chocolate sauce for good measure.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New-Mommy Must Haves.

A few readers have asked for a blog post about how it's going/what the new routine is now that we have three little ladies.  Perfect idea for a post...if only I could answer that question fully!  At the moment, we are still figuring things out, and our "new normal" is still shaking itself into place.  So!  I'm going to give that topic just a minute more to sort itself out, and, in the meantime, I'll quickly share some of the things that have been invaluable to me over the last couple of months!

Mamas, can I get an AMEN?!?  ;)  As I tell my best friend all the time, I am a much better human after I've had me some good coffee.  I'm kind of a lightweight when it comes to my cup o' joe, and I prefer froo-froo to black coffee any day.  However, I'm also in the midst of trying to shed those last baby weight pounds (which are so hard to get off for some reason--gah!!), so I have to limit my trips to the froo-froo coffee mecca of our town.  ;)  However, I did find a recipe for cold-brew coffee that I absolutely love, and I usually make a huge batch every Sunday to store in my fridge for the upcoming week.  You can find the recipe here.  If you don't have a French press, there are some pretty reasonably priced options at Target, or you can find some steals on Amazon like I did when I found this beautiful Le Creuset version.  I "brew" up a batch overnight in the fridge, press it and then pour it into Mason jars which I line up in the fridge to help me make it through the upcoming week!  Delish.  And strong.  FYI.  ;)

Dry Shampoo:
I've posted about this genius product before, and, while I still have big love for the Big Sexy Hair brand, I've found a new one that is a fraction of the price and smells lovely.  It's Herbal Essences Naked Dry Shampoo, and, at only about $5 a bottle, this stuff is worth a try!  It's not quite as gritty as the Big Sexy Hair (which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your preferences), and it smells the best of any I've tried.  I have dark hair and haven't really noticed that tell-tale white roots look that can sometimes happen when using a dry shampoo.  For those (many) days where a full shower just isn't going to happen, this stuff works wonders!

Three-in-One Makeup:
Believe me when I say...most days are makeup-free days around here right now.  There's just not time, you know?  However, when I do find a few minutes to freshen up the face, I love this three-in-one bronzer/blush/highlighter compact called Snow Bunny by Too Faced.  With one swipe of a blush brush, my face suddenly looks slightly bronzed and glowing, and I even use a bit on my eyelids in pinch, too.  A little bit of moisturizer, some Snow Bunny, and a quick pass with the mascara wand, and I'm good to go!  This one by Urban Decay is great, too.

Meals on-the-go:
There are times when the day gets a little swirly, and I look at the clock only to realize that I've completely forgotten to eat breakfast or lunch.  As a nursing mama, this is a no-no, but there's not always time to get out all the ingredients to construct a perfectly balanced and portioned lunch.  However, I don't want to just snack all day or eat junk food (remember those stubborn extra lb's I mentioned earlier...?).  Enter protein bars!  I always knew these things existed, but it seemed like most of the ones I tried had the texture of sand.  Gag.  My sister told me to try Luna bars, and I was pleasantly surprised!  They are formulated for women (not sure what that means exactly, but ok...), and the texture is more nutty than sandy.  My two favorites are Nutz Over Chocolate and Peanut Honey Pretzel.  These babies fill me up just enough to make it to snack time or the next meal of the day, and they kind of trick my mind into thinking I'm eating dessert.  :)  Pretty yummy!

Flowy Tops:
I am SO not one of those lucky ladies that waltzes out of the hospital post-baby wearing her regular jeans...or even her regular stretchy pants.  ;)  Nope, it takes me awhile to shed the pudge, and, while doing so, I don't love for the world to see every roll and squishy spot I'm sporting.  ;)  During the transition, I love a good flowy top paired with, ahem, maternity leggings or my regular jeans...with a rubber band looped around the button.  ;)  I've found a few inexpensive tops from Target and Old Navy that are easy to throw on and go, plus they are loose enough around the neck to just pull down and nurse when the time comes.  Flowy = good.  (I ordered a size up from what I'd normally purchase juuuuuust to ensure the flowy-ness).   :)
Diamond Tee

Cat Tee

V-Neck Tee

Okay, I can hear Miss Nora waking up from her nap, so I've gotta cut this short.  What are some other Mommy Must-Haves I may have missed?!  Thanks for reading, friends!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Frozen Fourth Birthday!

For Emery's fourth birthday party, the theme seemed quite obvious...Disney's "Frozen"!  The big girls have been so taken with this film (and so has Mommy...), and I knew all of her little friends loved the movie, too. Ems and I had so much fun searching online for food ideas and decor plans, and I have to say that my favorite part of her little party was planning it out together.  For about a week, we would sit on my bed with the laptop while her little sisters were still asleep, and she'd excitedly look at me and say, "Mom....let's find FROZEN things...!!!"  We found lots of great ideas on Pinterest and some steals on Amazon.  I kept the party budget small, and we were able to find some fun things together!

Ice bracelet making station!  Hobby Lobby had it's beads half-off, so I stocked up on big, "ice" crystal beads.  I also found some blue-ish, ice-ish looking nail polish, so while the girls made bracelets with their Moms, I painted their nails.  Girly party, for sure.  ;)

Some of the snacks for the party!  Cupcakes with Anna and Elsa toppers, jelly beans, "Olaf in Summer" water bottles, a build-a-snowman station with marshmallows, carrots, chocolate chips and pretzel sticks, crackers with snowflake cheese, "ice block" blue jello squares, and some chocolate covered snowflake pretzels!  All very easy snacks to put together, and the kiddos seemed to love it!  All of the "Frozen" labels and signs were purchased through an Etsy seller who sent me a personalized digital copy of everything, and we just had to have it printed.  SO inexpensive and, not to mention, SO easy!  Highly recommend.

Seeing her "Frozen" party table and giant balloons for the first time.  Look at that face!!  She was so excited, and it made it even more exciting because she'd helped me plan the whole thing.  Love these pics.

In a true state of awe and amazement.  I kind of hope they'll always be this excited about the smallest of things.  Wishful thinking on this sentimental Mom's part, I'm sure.  :)

The only thing Emery asked for in the way of a present was..."Frozen" slippers.  Hmm.  Not a costume or a doll or anything easily found on the aisles of Target.  Nope, "Frozen" slippers.  Okay then.  I was so proud of her for not going crazy during party planning and asking for ALL the things, so when she actually had a specific request, I really wanted to make that happen for her gift from Russell and me.  Started searching for the elusive "Frozen" slippers, and, wouldn't ya know it, Amazon came through for me!  Sparkling, glittery ballet flats with Anna inside one shoe and Elsa in the other.  A mere $15 later, and I think we had the happiest birthday girl in all the land.  Hasn't taken them off in a week.  Seriously.  :)  Victory!

Making ice crystal bracelets with tiny friends!  Us Moms need to take some lessons in jewelry making, or I needed to get better string.  Either way, we were cracking up at how many times we'd allllllllllmost be ready to tie off the bracelets, and then CRASH...all of the beads would come sliding off onto the floor.  Gah!!  Oh well.  It was hilarious, and the girls eventually left with ice bracelets on their wrists.  ;)

A few weeks ago, Emery and I ran into Hobby Lobby to grab some curtain panels I'd saved up to buy.  On the way to check out, we passed the fabric section, and there on the aisle was a bolt of fabric that caught Emery's eye.  She gasped, "'s ELSA'S BLUE DRESS."  And, you know, it really looked like it!  With a bit of a sigh, I put back my curtain panels in favor of the bolt of blue, sparkling fabric.  



I cut the fabric into strips and used Liquid Stitch to make Elsa dresses for all of the little ladies at the party!  They were swirling around reenacting the scenes from "Frozen," and it was adorable!  They may only last a few weeks before falling apart, but, dang it, the cuteness was totally worth it

Little friends in their Elsa crowns and dresses, eating snacks, and watching "Frozen."  I mean, come on.  Is there a better way to spend a Saturday...?  ;)

The littlest party Charly came all the way up for the party!  I got to squeeze her.  A lot.  My day was made.  Look how pretty she is.  Sigh.

Opening presents at a little kid's birthday always turns into quite the entertaining and comical group activity...  ;)  Emery was surprisingly happy to let her friends help, until she opened up a a perfectly pink and poofy ballgown that was just her size.  Hands off, ladies.  ;)  The little girls were so excited that most of them told her what was in their sack before she could open it...and then they asked if they could have it back!!  Ha!  Preschoolers are hilarious.  For reals.

Daddy got into the gift opening, too. 
(And look at my sis-in-law's cute preggo belly!  Baby Daisy coming in a few months!  We are all about the girl babies in this family.)

And, because I can't resist the cuteness, a pic of the tiniest cousins.  Love.

All in all, it was such a fun little party, and I will always remember snuggling up with Emery to shop for and plan it together.  She's growing up entirely too fast, but I am so proud of the little lady she's turning out to be.  

Happy Frozen Fourth Birthday to our Ems!!!