Friday, December 30, 2011

Another Year is Ending

I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that at this time last year I was waiting for the results of the amnio.

We just wanted to make sure that the baby would be healthy.  And confirmation that our guts and that early ultrasound were right and it was a boy.

Our son.

I'm now a mommy.  My little boy is just over 7 months old.  He's celebrated his first Christmas and is starting to rock on his hands and knees.  I get excited and clap my hands every time I see him this way, and can't wait for the crawling.

My husband is an amazing father.  He puts his little family first, and is so proud of his son and their bond.  I still laugh some times at the things he is going through, the way he sounds like some of the mommy bloggers I've read who are stay-at-home moms and can't get a break all day.  His little spider monkey clings to him and laughs with him.  It still makes me cry at how wonderful they both are.

We've had to deal with 1 surgery to correct a cleft lip.  The bigger surgery is coming, but it will be something we'll get through.

I can honestly look back at the last year and smile at everything.  Even at the worst moments, those moments when I worried about whether I was doing the right things for my newborn, where we were dealing with my healing c-section wound, and those rare moments where James couldn't be soothed, I always knew I wasn't alone and we could do it.

In fact, it makes me want to do it all over again....

So, to 2011 I say thank you and goodbye.  It was a marvelous ride, and something that not only changed me but helped me grow.

And now, 2012, I can't wait to see what the next chapter will be about....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Something I Never Did

After reading Jeffrey Zaslow's' The Magic Room for the BlogHer Book Club I wish I'd done things a little differently when it came to my wedding dress.

By the time we became engaged, A and I had been living together for just under 3 years and had talked about marriage for almost as long.  We never had any doubts we'd be together forever, it was just a formality for us.

About 6 months before the actual engagement, A had told me he intended to propose once he could afford the ring.  This little announcement had me begin the hunt for a dress.

Being a plus-size girl, I didn't think I'd have that many options in a store, and so I went in search online, and ended up finding what I wanted and in my size pretty quickly.  There were no trips to try on dresses and have my mother stand there with me to see what would work.

After reading the accounts in Jeffrey Zaslow's' The Magic Room, I feel like I missed out on something special.

In his book, the author asks the reader to think about the love we wish for our daughters, and uses a handful of brides-to-be to deliver a powerful story of the changes in marriages and relationships, all with a bridal dress shop in the mid-west as a backdrop.  I laughed at the stories, cried at some of the moments they relived for the author, and finished the book all too soon.  I loved the way he tied them all together, and made me miss my mom.

I was never in "The Magic Room", but I now wish that I'd thought to take that time and do that at least once.  There are no regrets, as my mom would remind me there shouldn't be, but a wistful moment of wishing there had been more time.

I'd honestly recommend you take the time to read Jeffrey Zaslow's' The Magic Room and if you tend to get emotional to keep some tissues handy.  I know that I scared my husband as I wept and laughed at certain points!

For more information on the book and the author visit the BlogHer Book Club HERE and peruse.

I'd also be interested in knowing about your wedding.  Did you try on dresses or shop online?  Maybe just wore a relative's dress?  Join the conversation and see what others did by visiting this page and feel free to add your story.

Me?  I have this incredible urge to plan a renewal of vows in a few years so I can try on the dresses and maybe have my mom and sister join me for an afternoon of girly fun.....

This is a sponsored review for the BlogHer Book Club.  While compensation will be forthcoming for taking the time to write about the book, the opinions stated are all mine and mine alone.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Toys, Toys, and More Toys

Well, any fear that James wouldn't get plenty of things for Christmas went out the door.

He celebrated 4 times: with one side of the family the 24th, then with us Christmas morning, his great grandparents Christmas afternoon, and then my in-laws were here on the 26th with more.

Our living room has no more space for toys.  And he has a new wardrobe that should take him to his first birthday.

James also has proven that tearing open wrapping paper is something he is good at.

Did I mention he apparently let us know he needs more fiber in his diet too?

Still, the best part is that December 25th was also the day my little boy turned 7 months old.

I don't know where the time is going.  But I do know that I'm going to need a faster camera to keep with him pretty soon.....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oddly This Milestone Is Hitting Me The Hardest

Every time we are in a store and look in the baby/children's department, I look at the little things and can't remember James being that small.

The onesies?  The carriers?  The swings?

I just can't picture him in those things anymore.

Last week, we ran some errands after work.  We've learned that he is good with 3 stops per outing as long as we can alternate how he travels.  Normally, we take his seat in on the shopping cart, carry him on the 2nd stop, and then use the stroller on the 3rd.  He isn't stuck in the seat all night, and sees different things at different levels.

When we reached the 3rd stop, A noticed something while attaching his seat to the stroller.

You see, his legs have gotten long enough that his feet are getting caught under the bar that supports the little awning that would be protecting him from wind and sun.  We dislodged them, but when he kicked, they got stuck again.

We realized we were at the point where he was beginning to outgrown his car seat/carrier.

Which was more noticeable when we realized he could easily push himself against the car's seat itself while in the rear facing position.

So last night, his great grandparents went with us to the store and we picked out a bigger seat.

Technically, this one could have been used from birth, and converts to a booster so he is set for a very very long time.

But I can't get over the fact that he really is growing.  His personality shines through every day, and the things he does and tries to do amazes me.  So why am I so shocked about this new seat?

Because I want him to stay tiny a little bit longer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How My Husband Got His Way

When A moved to California, Christmas became something he loved when not working retail.

He used to tell me stories of the family visits, going everywhere on Christmas Day and seeing all the relatives.  You may think he would have loved all this, but he really wished they just stayed home.

My family has always done Christmas Eve: Late dinner.  Movies. Staying up until midnight to open presents.  Christmas Day was more of a day to rest.

This made A a happy man.  And he said back then that when we had our own family he wanted to just stay home and make Christmas ours.

Last year was our first Christmas in Virginia with his family.  Christmas Eve was dinner with his parents.  Christmas Day meant going back over to open presents and then, due to the snow and ice on the road, we opted to go home and spend the day together rather than attempt to head out into the country to visit the rest of my MIL's family.

This year, we've known for months that people were shopping for James.  We're not expecting a ton of gifts, but at least 4 different relatives on that side of the family have said they have his gift, and so I'd told A that we should make an effort to go to the family gathering and see everyone.  He just nodded and said that we'd do whatever I wanted.

That was in October.

This last Sunday, 1 week before Christmas, we talked on the way to his parent's house.

You see, I gave up.

His father's side of the family will be gathering for a small dinner on Christmas Eve.  We were invited weeks ago, and we will be joining them to eat and let the kids open 1 present each.

Christmas Day has become the most insane of days.

You see, both sides of the family go to church.  One side is going to early service at 9, the other side to late service at 11.  There will be a 20 minute break between the two services where it would be possible to gather, but that is insanity on a whole new level when it means packing a 7 month old into the car to drive 20 minutes each way with only a 20 minute break in the middle for him to not be in the car.

Add to this that NO ONE on the other side of the family has spoken to myself or A about the other plans for Christmas Day, which means we have no idea what they are doing or at what time or where, and I just said I wanted to stay home and do nothing.  If they had time to see us, they could come by and spend time with us either that day or the next.

Now the problem was telling the family about this.

And that's when A jumped up yesterday and made two calls.

First he told his father that we were officially notifying everyone that our plans were to stay home with James all day.  We weren't going anywhere, and they could come by when they wanted.

He then called his grandmother and let her know the same thing.  She immediately said they would be by in the afternoon, after lunch, to bring James his gifts and spend some time with him.  Which A confirmed would be just fine because we had no plans.

Then he received a call back from his mom who asked if we wanted to go to their place that afternoon to see them before they went anywhere else.

To which he firmly replied no and explained he'd already told the grandparents they could come over during that time, so if anyone else wanted to see James they could make time then or that evening or on the 26th.

He put his foot down, and I think has started our family tradition of just staying home and being together for the holiday.

Which is all he wanted all along.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Been One of THOSE Weeks

I want to start by stating this has nothing to do with the baby.  James still sleeps soundly through the night, is pretty good about playing with his things, spends time playing with us, and in the end is the best baby.

And the only saving grace this week.


Work has been borderline hellish, with some of the weirdest and dumbest things going on.  Enough that I have purposely closed the lap top, slid it under the couch, and then laid on the floor an played with James in order to stop myself from writing profane emails to people.  They were going to be quite detailed on what they could go do with themselves and where they could stick their obviously empty heads.

Add to this some family stuff, and the car having an issue, and by last night I think we were both done with it all.

So we took James and had dinner out.  We talked, gave him some steak fries to chew on, and just didn't think.

I even turned off the lap top in order to avoid the urge to check emails.

Today has been a relief already.  Nothing major is happening, we have one last quiet weekend before Christmas, and if we're luck we'll all be sleeping in until 9 each morning.

Plus tomorrow we have arranged for the great grandparents to come babysit so we can see the new Sherlock Holmes movie in the afternoon.

I told A that while I'm excited to see the movie, the best part is going to be that we will be sitting in the front seat of the car together and have a normal conversation.

He just smiled.

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's the Little Things

A box arrived yesterday.

My aunt had sent gifts for James, and when I called to let her know we'd received them, I was told there was one that we could open now.

Yay for early presents!

We waited for James to be up to try out present opening. All I can say about that is that it took some time and he liked the paper more than anything else.


I loved what was inside!

I mean, our first Nutcracker ever, and it's dressed like a pirate? How could you go wrong?!?!?!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Still Not Back to "Normal"

My family has been gone almost a week and we still are not back to our normal routine.

Work is back in place, so my days are filled with projects and calls.  I'm also trying to work my way through some books, and we've become addicted to Skylanders, so sleep is losing.

I think the hardest hit has been A.  For him, two weeks of people to play with James meant a mental break from the daily parenting duties in a lot of ways.  This week has been the first full week of work for me, and so he's back to it all.

And he looks exhausted.

He will always have a deep appreciation for single mothers.  He isn't alone, but he realizes the amount of work they do each day.

Funniest moment from the visit was when my youngest niece said out loud that she was not ready to have a baby.  James is an easy kid, but he has his moments, and requires that plans revolve around his naps and meals, and I think the added responsibility was an eye-opener as to what is truly involved in this whole being a parent thing.

I think I need to treat A to a night out this weekend.....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Checklist

With this being James' first Christmas, I wanted to make sure that certain things were done.

No, I didn't go overboard, but there were things I wanted to be able to look back at later and remember with him.

The tree is up, and there is a new ornament for baby's first Christmas now on it.

Holiday pictures were taken and framed.  Today, they will be hung up on the wall in the living room.

Once those are up, and the table cleared, I will be wrapping the 3 presents we bought for him and placing them under the tree.  Then I will be attempting a picture with him and them and the tree.  More to follow on that little project.

The best part?

Today I ordered our holiday cards.  With pictures of us all.

We can't afford to do more, but it's just enough for this year.  The three of us are happy and safe, and that is all that matters.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Quick Recipe: Dealing with Leftover White Rice

Something my family learned over the last 2 weeks is that I hate throwing away leftover food.  We are on a seriously tight budget, so leftovers are lunch here, and I have used some old recipes my mom has shown me through the years to use things from the fridge and create something new.

Last week, I showed one of my nieces how to take some white rice that had been leftover and in the fridge for a few days and create a fried rice dish that is simple but filling.

Today, we are in the process of eating the last of the leftovers from the last week, and in the fridge I found enough bits and pieces to make A lunch that he'll be enjoying for a couple of days.

So, here are the basic instructions:

First of all, you need these basic ingredients:

Salt, garlic powder, soy sauce, cooking oil, and leftover white rice that has been refrigerated for at least 4 hours and is still cold.  Even with just these things and nothing else you could fry up the rice and just have that.  Normally I would also included 1-2 eggs, but we happened to be out today.

Next I raided the fridge and found half a small onion, half a cooked chicken breast from earlier this week, and, believe it or not, hot dogs.  Don't knock it!  If you are on a budget, this may be the best way to serve a hot dog if you are out of buns and happen to have some rice!!

I chopped the onion, the half chicken breast, and 1 hot dog up and set them aside.  If I had eggs, I would have at this point beaten 2 eggs in a small bowl and added about 1 teaspoon of water.

I dug out the biggest skillet I have and heated it on the stove on a high medium heat.  Then I added 2 tablespoons of oil and let that heat up as well.

Then dump in all your extras.  You saw what I added, but feel free to throw in some mixed veggies, other meats, or some green onions.  Even some minced garlic would add some extra flavor at this point.  The best part is that since this is all leftovers, they've been cooked, so you are just frying them up to reheat them.  It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to brown up the onions, and by then the hot dog and chicken were ready to go as well.

All those cooked extras need to be put aside as soon as they are ready.  I normally keep a paper plate nearby and just spoon it out there and keep it nearby.

Again, if I'd had eggs then at this point I would have returned the skillet to the stove and then added the beaten eggs.  You don't exactly want to scramble them, but rather think of an omelet.  Let it cook on one side and then flip it.  Make sure it isn't too puffy, cook it all the way through, and then remove it from the skillet as well.  While the rice is heating up, you can just do a rough chop so you have some pieces of egg to throw back in.

Now, the skillet goes back on the stove, and all the rice is dumped in at once.

While the rice starts to pop and sizzle, sprinkle the top with a healthy dose of salt and even more garlic powder.  I want to say I average 1 teaspoon of salt and about 2 of garlic minimum.  The rice should have a brownish color because of the garlic powder, and once you have added that you will want to stir up the rice so that the seasonings spread and the rice starts to heat all the way through.

The rice needs to be heated for about 3 minutes, stirring it around a couple of times so it doesn't stick to the bottom, and then you will add in your extras.

Make sure to give them a good stir into your cooking rice so that it's all mixed together.  I also add in another teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder at this point to add some more flavor.

Let the rice cook another 2 minutes with all the goodies in there and then add the final ingredient: soy sauce.  You will be pouring this directly over the rice, and I'd start with at least 2 tablespoons.  Once you stir it together, the rice should start to take on that brown color you are used to see in restaurants.

I make sure to stir it all up, let cook another minute, and then drag A into the kitchen to taste it.  He will let me know if he wants more soy sauce or garlic, though rarely salt.  Once he has given the thumbs up, I take the skillet off the stove and he just digs in.

We really had a lot of rice leftover, and now we will be having some great fried rice for lunch for a few days!  We've actually done this as a quick dinner, heating up some frozen potstickers or egg rolls we find at the store while I do the fried rice, and then enjoying a movie on the couch together.

Total time in the kitchen, including digging out the leftovers from the fridge: 25 minutes.  Not bad for under 30 minutes, huh?