Dec 19, 2012

Homemade Baby Food.

I have posted on my Facebook a few times about making my own baby food. It never fails that I get comments like "You're making the rest of us look bad!" or "How do you have the time?" If these mamas knew how easy it was, they would not be saying such crazy things! So, let me take a moment and share the secrets of baby food making with the easiest choices - carrots and sweet potatoes.

Carrots -

You will need a steaming basket, a pot, carrots, water, and preferably an immersion blender. Let's talk supplies for a moment.

A cook is as good as her tools, right? Well, let me share with you a few of my tools that have come in incredibly handy. First the steaming basket. My mom always used one of the traditional metal baskets, but I found one on amazon that is far easier to use, clean and store.

The Chef'n Sleekstor Veggiesteam

It is a soft silicon that fits right into the pan. I don't know what I would do without this gem.

You will also need way to purée the veggies once they are cooked. I highly recommend an immersion blender. They are so easy to use, clean and make creating wholesome food a breeze. Plus, they can be used for a host of other cooking projects, not just baby food, like the Breeza or other baby food making devices. And if you needed another reason to get one, they are reasonably priced! I looked at a baby food maker when my first born was tiny, and I was shocked no find that they ran a couple hundred dollars. Well, $10 for the steamer and $32.75 for the blender is a much better price! Yes, that's right, $32.75 currently on amazon for the Cuisinart Immersion Blender.

Isn't it pretty? Mine is just silver - sure do wish they made the hot pink one when I was in the market a couple years ago!

Ok, now back to the food making!

1. Peel carrots and cut into chunks or slices.

2. In a sauce pan that will hold your steaming basket, bring one or two inches of water to a boil. You want the water to be just under the basket.

3. Place cut carrots in the steamer, set the timer for 10 minutes, put the lid on the pot, and go do something fun... Or wrangle your children if you are like me.

10 minutes later...

4. Drain the water, put carrots in a bowl and use your immersion blender to whip the heck out of those carrots. I love this part. I love the sound the machine makes, I love how the carrots squish out of the blender, haha. It's good fun. If you want thinner baby food, you can add a bit of water to obtain your desired consistency.

See, wasn't that easy??

Now, for sweet potatoes.

My preferred method of cooking sweet potatoes is by baking. It takes a bit longer, but I usually stick them in the oven while I am doing something else, so it isn't time wasted. You can also use the microwave, but for some reason "wholesome" and "microwave" just don't go together in my mind.

1. Wash the skin of the potatoes and poke a few holes in the potato.

2. Wrap potatoes in foil and bake at 400 for about an hour.

3. Peel or cut in half and scoop out the meat.

4. Again with the immersion blender.

Now, what do you do with the gobs of deliciousness that you have made? What I usually do is take a ice cube tray (a simple one that I got 2/$1 at the dollar store - don't feel the need to give in to the gimmick of ice cube trays with lids) and fill the slots with baby food. A lesson I learned the hard way - try to keep the food in the individual slots, not covering the whole thing. This helps for easier removal. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. The next day, you can pop the food cubes out and put them in a freezer bag so they are ready to go when you need them, and so you can make more food (or ice) if you so desire.

There are also baby foods that require no cooking or blending - try mashed up banana or avocado for an easy treat!

Not convinced? Let me break it down even further for you. Here are a few benefits of making your own baby food.

1. Cost - a jar of baby food costs about 85 cents for one serving. I spent about 60 cents for a half a pound of carrots and about a dollar for 2 sweet potatoes. This made about 10-12 servings! Hmm, $10 or $2?? The math is simple.

2. No additives, no preservatives, no extra sodium, organic and locally grown if you so choose. The health of our wee ones is important!

3. It's easy. My total work time for this project was about 15 minutes. And the hardest part is cutting the carrots!

4. You can SEE exactly what is going in to your baby's food. Choline bitartrate? Sure, choline is a good thing, but why do we need to add it to the food? Because the ingredients are not choice.

5. It's like crack. Baby crack. Healthy baby crack! Both of my girls gave noticeably more enthusiastic responses to home made baby food as opposed to jarred food.

Now, let me say - I still buy jarred food. It's easy to throw in the bag in case you aren't sure how long you'll be out. It's good for road trips - it offers an easy way to offer variety. But the bulk of what I feed my girls is mama made, and I highly encourage you to at least give it a shot!

Sep 15, 2012

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

I ran across a recipe for Chicken and Wild Rice casserole on Pinterest this week, but when I looked at the recipe, it looked very complicated and not very tasty. So, I decided to make up my own recipe and Wow! It turned out amazing - will definitely make this again. Here's the recipe:

1 - 6 ounce package long grain and wild rice mix
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1tsp garlic powder
2cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook the onion with the butter until slightly translucent.
4. Add the soup, wine, spices, chicken and rice. Mix well.
5. Place in a 9x9 baking dish, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and cook for about 35 minutes.


Sep 6, 2012

What we are doing in Art Class

It's that time of year again - school is in session, we are waking up early, go go go 24/7, and time is flying by. I use my blog mostly to talk about my beautiful children, but some of you might not know that I have about 80 beautiful children at school as well. I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about what's going on in my classroom.

Yesterday in Portfolio, my students experimented with light and exposure times in photography. In one hour, we learned a lot, came up with some great ideas and got excited to try again next class. We used a flashlight and a laser pointer and my camera on manual mode with the shutter open. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with tomorrow.

My Middle School art class just finished a lesson on painting in the style of Vance Kirkland. I have done this project for about 4 years with kids and I always love it. They learn a little art history, they learn multiple painting techniques, and they exercise a little patience. We start with a watercolor background. They learn how colors work together, how they blend, and how to manipulate the paint. Then they get to do their favorite part, the splatter paint. After that, they start on the dots. We discuss how Vance Kirkland did many paintings that looked like outer space. This is the look they are going for. Here are two examples of what my kiddos did this year.

Currently my art 1 class is working on Linoleum printmaking. I am excited to see what they come up with this year. My 7th graders are doing an American Gothic parody and 8th grade is working on making 1000 paper cranes. I am encouraged and excited by the start of this school year and look forward to many successful works of art.

Jun 21, 2012

Yummy in my Tummy

Today, Isabel had her 18 month shots... Ok, shot. Just one. And she is 19 months... Yes, I have been putting it off because I swear it hurts me more than it hurts her. I can not stand the idea of pinning her down to a table while someone sticks a needle into her, no matter if it is for her own good or not. But she is a trooper. Tears came, but a Dora sticker (on her shirt in the photo), Elmo, sweet potato fries and a good nap made everything all better.

I, of course, was still feeling sorry for her, so I wanted to do something extra special today. I thought about the science museum or the pool, but a nap seemed like a much greater need. So, what does any good Southern woman do to make someone feel better? I cook.

I saw this idea on Pinterest once and it has stuck in my mind. I took an ice cube tray and filled it with all her favorite things. I have also seen this done on a paint palette and in other containers, but I had to make do.

And she loved it!

Strawberries, mandarin oranges, frozen peas, mini club crackers, turkey, blueberries, Earth's Best organic honey sticks, and mozzarella string cheese.

Will definitely play with this idea and try variations. This would be a great way to introduce new foods or to get a picky eater to eat.

Jun 5, 2012


I have been so impressed lately with Isabel's language progress.  She is 18 months old and such a smart little girl.  One of her favorie activities is to take foam letter stickers and stick them to a huge sheet of paper that we have taped to the floor in our living room.  With each sticker, I will peel off the back, tell her what the letter is and a word that starts with that letter (for instance A is for Apple).  She usually repeats what I have said and then goes and sticks the sticker on the paper.

We have been doing this for weeks now and I really thought it was just a fun game - a way to keep her entertained.  I always knew she knew what an O was, because we always point out O for Olivia, but I did not realize how many of the letters she was actually absorbing.  The video above shows some of the letters she knows. 

I also sat down today and tried to make a list of the words she knows and uses on a regular basis.  I love the idea of keeping a record of this so that one day she can look back on it when she's a big girl.  I also love to watch her progress, and keeping track of it every few months is a great way to watch her grow.

Here is a list of the words I can think of that Isabel knows.  According to, names should be included in the count.

  • Cup
  • Kitty
  • No
  • Yes
  • Bubbles
  • Baby
  • Water
  • Juice
  • Shoes
  • Bow
  • Book
  • Up
  • Down
  • Boy
  • Cheese
  • Peas
  • Spoon
  • Ball
  • Hi
  • Bye Bye
  • Please
  • Thank You
  • Excuse Me
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Nana
  • Grandad
  • Grampa
  • Meme
  • Papa
  • Car
  • Beep Beep
  • Truck
  • What's that?
  • This
  • Izzy
  • Daniel
  • Elmo
  • Pee pee
  • Dog
  • Eat
  • Blue
  • Eyes
  • Wow
  • Go
  • Cookie
And these are the animal sounds she knows:
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Elephant
  • Monkey
  • Snake
  • Lion/Tiger/Bear (roar)
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Sheep
  • Fish
  • Giraffe
  • Cow
  • Horse
  • Bird
  • Pig
I am so proud of my big girl!  Drew and I often just look at each other and marvel at the new things she does every single day.  She constantly surprises us.

Looking forward to seeing what she comes up with tomorrow!

Jun 3, 2012

Thank God It's Summer Cookies

For those of you who did not already know, my husband and I are both teachers. He teaches high school anatomy and forensics (every time I say that, someone says "wow! He must be smart." and yes, he is.), and I teach middle school and high school art, though I have been on maternity leave for the past 5 weeks.

No matter what you teach, if you are a good teacher, you put your heart and soul into it. It's like parenting, except that you have 100 kids instead of one or two. It's draining
physically, mentally, emotionally and creatively. I know so many people who think we are so lucky to get summers off, and to them I say 2 things: we don't get paid for it, and also, we NEED our summer break so that we can recharge. Trust me, it's for the good of your children :)

But I digress...

Spring break rolls around and gives us a taste of the freedom that is summer, and from then on, if you do not have a countdown yourself, then one of your teacher friends on Facebook surely does, of the number of days until summer break.

The last week of school is torturous. So much to do, so many students needing you to check their grade, or grade their late work, etc. I know so many teachers who get sick the first week of summer because they have just been going nonstop for so long, the first time there is a lull, their body craters.

But on top of the huge amount of work, grading, paperwork, etc, there is a buzz of excitement. Planning every weekend from now until August... A need to make the most of every second. A need to make it the best summer ever, for yourself, your spouse and your children - and this is where Pinterest comes in, hahaha.

I have been scouring the Internet for ideas on how to make this summer the best summer yet. My upcoming posts will be full of awesome summer activities for toddlers and adults. Those of you who know me know that one of my favorite things in the world is food - as a good Baptist woman, it is how I show affection, appreciation, and love :)

If you are a little girl, what better way to usher in summer than with these cookies:
I started with a basic sugar cookie recipe that I found on the Internet. I am not going to share the recipe because I wasn't totally thrilled with it - far too much butter and just not the best recipe out there. I'd love to have a good recipe if someone cares to share!

Once the dough was made, I divided it into quarters and put each batch into separate containers. Then I used neon food coloring (about 10 drops) and colored each batch. After thoroughly mixing, I let the dough chill overnight.

*disclaimer: if you are looking for a fast cookie, this is not for you. These require a lot of chill time!*

The next day, I took each container and rolled out little balls - approximately half inch diameter. And again, I had to let them chill. (perhaps the amount of butter in the recipe I used required me to have to chill these more often, but I could only work for about 10 minutes before the dough was too gooey to do anything with!)
Once your balls have chilled again, take one of each color and roll them together like the photo below. They will look kind of like everlasting gobstoppers from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory :)

Chill again... See what I mean??
Here's where you need to dig up the old play dough skills that you spent your childhood developing.

Take each gobstopper ball and roll out into a snake like shape approximately 6 inches in length. Then spiral your snake into a cookie shape and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees - remove when they are just starting to firm up.
I recommend working in small batches so that you have some in the fridge to reduce the inconvenient chill time.

These are really impressive looking cookies, and I am definitely glad I made them, but I will wait for a more appreciative crowd than an 18 month old before attempting them again, haha. I needed some oohs and ahhs for all that hard work!!

Thank God it's summer!

Jun 1, 2012

One Month of Liv

When we last spoke, Olivia had just arrived into this sunshiny world. A healthy 8 lbs, 9 oz, 10 fingers, 10 sweet little toes, a good eater and a happy baby.

Since then, an entire month has passed.

Can you believe it has been a month? (Technically 5 and a half weeks, even crazier!)

Olivia continues to do great - growing like a weed, sleeping in 3 hour stretches at night already, and fits perfectly into our family. It hasn't always been roses, however. Our first couple of weeks after the grandmas went home and went back to work were pretty rough. Isabel was craving the attention she had spent the past 17 months getting used to and mommy had her hands full feeding an infant every 2 hours or less on practically zero sleep. I'm amazed that we got through it with only a couple of hits and bites (Isabel pretended to kiss Olivia once and actually bit her!).

But now we have fallen into a routine. I can not imagine my life without this precious baby girl and enjoy every single snuggle I can get. She loves to be close. When she is upset, the closer you snuggle her, the tighter of a ball she can get into, the faster she settles down. She is incredibly strong already - I know it will be just a short time before she is crawling around playing with her big sister. She also loves to make eye contact and loves to be talked to. She rarely cries unless she needs something and is such a go with the flow little one.
We joke that Olivia is koala baby because all she does right now is sleep, eat and snuggle. This is one of her favorite koala baby poses.
I still can't get over how tiny she was. I barely remember Isabel being so small!
This is one of her newborn photos taken by Christy from our church. Such a sweet little bird.
Four weeks old and getting bigger every day. Already wearing her 0-3 month clothes and filling them up nicely. And don't they look cute on her?
This was the first time that we let Isabel hold Olivia. It was hilarious. We put Isabel on the corner of the couch so there was less danger of Olivia rolling off and put little sister in big sister's arms. She was so stunned that she didn't know how to react at first, but the she really got into it and started kissing her over and over. Then in an instant, she decided she was finished and was ready for Nana to pick her up again. I had to be fast with the camera, but it was a heart melting moment.
And now here we are... Five and a half weeks of being a family of four and loving almost every second of it. Looking forward to many more months, tons more photos and watching my girls grow to love each other.

I am one lucky mama.

May 6, 2012

Another Beginning

I would like to officially introduce to you Olivia Catherine.
This time, it was not a dark and stormy night. It was a bright and sunny morning. Our oldest daughter was 2 weeks early, and everything that I had read and heard told me that second children come earlier and faster than your first. So, at 37 weeks, I was prepared.

And at 38 weeks, I was prepared

And 39...

And 40!

I had been having contractions on and off for about 2 weeks, went to labor and delivery only to be sent home in a fit of tears because this baby was not in any hurry to arrive. I was 2 cm dilated at 37 weeks, and by 40 weeks, that hadn't changed. Thankfully, this time my blood pressure was awesome and I was not having any serious problems, so my doctor scheduled me for induction at 40 weeks and 4 days.

I was so frustrated by that at first, but I am so thankful to have had those days with Isabel in hind sight. The day before our scheduled induction, we took Isabel to the Dallas World Aquarium.
This is me at 40 weeks and 3 days...

I was still in hopes that walking might entice Olivia to want to come on her own, but she had other plans.

Because we knew when we would have to be at the hospital, my mother in law was able to be here for the weekend before. She helped me around the house, played with Isabel, and helped to keep me distracted from the waiting for baby.

Monday morning, we were scheduled to be at the hospital at 7 am. The night before, I was anxious. There really is nothing like blissful ignorance, and this time I knew what to expect. So, of course I stayed up far too late so that I wouldn't lay in bed thinking, and then that night Isabel cried, the cats went crazy, and Drew and I got very little sleep. But we were up and ready to go and got to the hospital in plenty of time.

After arriving at the hospital, I was checked in to a nice room, answered a thousand stupid questions like "are you currently using cocaine or heroine" and "does your residence have running water and electricity", and settled in to wait for the doctor to make her rounds.

At about 9 am, I was 3 cm dilated, and at about 10 am, I was given my first dose of pitocin. Then we waited...

My mom came to the hospital after I was all checked in and kept me company. I decided that if she wanted to be in the room when Olivia was born, that she was welcome to do so, and I think she was surprised by that.

We had lots of visitors that day - aunt Jerri, Meme and Papa, our pastor Brent and my Aunt Mary. It was nice to have some distractions since an induction can take a long time.

I was having very regular contractions, but they weren't very painful at all. Olivia did not like contractions at all, and her heartbeat would dip with each one, so the nurses had me in several different positions and even put me on oxygen to help level out her heart rate.

At about 5:30, Dr. Reyna came in and checked and decided to break my water. I laughed when I heard the nurse say "I'll say large amounts of fluid... Wait, I'll change that to copious."

Just like last time, the contraction after my water broke was exponentially more intense. A couple hours later and I was so very thankful that God had allowed some brilliant person to come up with the idea for an epidural. I went from extreme pain to uncomfortable pressure in a matter of half an hour - and the crazy thing, the anesthesiologist who did my epidural was the same woman who did my epidural when Isabel was born. Becky did a great job and I was still able to feel my feet and move my legs!

My mom decided to go have dinner with my dad at around 10 pm. Shortly after she left, Dr. Reyna came in and checked my progress again. She said I was 8.5 cm dilated and she would come back in an hour to check.

My mom got back about 11:15 and the nurse came in to check just after that. I was feeling a warm sensation and when the nurse checked, she said I was 10 cm and fully effaced and that the baby's head was very close. Nurses began fluttering all over the room preparing things for the birth and for baby's arrival. My nurse, Kayse, had me push through 2 contractions and decided that the doctor needed to be there for the next push. She told me to wait and to not put my legs up because she was afraid the baby would come out before the doctor came in!! As soon as Dr. Reyna got there, 2 more pushes and Olivia was here!! 15 minutes of total pushing time - a far cry from the 2 hours with Isabel!
Olivia arrived at 12:25 am on April 4, weighing 8 lbs 9 oz, 20.25 inches long.
This is Dr. Reyna with newly born Olivia.
And a very proud and excited Nana who got to witness the birth of her second granddaughter.

Daddy was able to cut the cord again and was a proud, happy daddy with a tear in his eye.

The pushing went so fast and the delivery seemed so much easier than my first. It was like night and day! If my first had been like this, I would not have had a bit of anxiety about childbirth again! 14 hours from the administering of pitocin, but the easiest delivery I could have asked for.

We are so thankful to have our sweet Olivia Catherine. She is a joy and such a wonderful baby. She is a lucky little sister, even though her big sister is not quite sure what to think just yet - but that is a blog post for another day. :)

I am an overjoyed Mama to have the 2 most beautiful daughters. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Apr 7, 2012

Things We Learn from the Fresh Beats

Some of you aren't lucky enough to know about the Fresh Beat Band, and for that, I offer my sympathies. Any parent of a kid 5 years of age or younger surely knows of the magical properties of the Fresh Beat Band and has, on multiple occasions, had one of their songs stuck in their head for days on end. For you unlucky souls, let me give you a quick background:

The Fresh Beat Band is a brightly colored, musical show that airs on Nick Jr. You can also find season one on Netflix instant, thank goodness! This show is about four friends, Kiki (guitar), Marina (drums), Twist (DJ) and Shout (keyboards) who live in an apartment building where they each have a room on the bottom floor and never lock their doors. They go to music school every so often, but spend most of their time singing and causing a ruckus in the town. Their antics are purely accidental as none of them have a truly mischievous bone in their body. They have friends like Reed, who owns a music store and routinely gives them musical instruments for free, and Melody, who owns a smoothie stand and also gives them smoothies for free. Obviously this show is not intended to teach children about real life, but about sharing, helping others and some groovy dance moves...

This morning, Isabel and I were watching an episode while eating breakfast where the Fresh Beats are asked to babysit two chimpanzees. Obviously, you can see that this is not going to go well...

Today's episode taught me 3 things:

1. To babysit, all you really have to know is to say "No!", "Stop!" and "Watch out!" - advice given to them by the owner of the pizza stand who asked them to babysit the chimps in the first place. Granted, I haven't babysat in a while, but I remember it being a little more complicated than that.

2. Even the Fresh Beats know about the Saturday Night Live cowbell skit. But it is just not as funny without Will Ferrell.

3. Monkeys throwing fruit at people really upsets Isabel. At one point, when saying "No!" and "Stop!" had failed, the chimps got into the smoothie stand and started throwing fruit at the Fresh Beats. This made Isabel really upset and she puckered her bottom lip and tears filled her eyes. It was the most endearing, ridiculous thing I have witnessed all morning! Of course, the Fresh Beats got everything under control, and Isabel climbed in my lap for a little mama love, and now everything is alright in the world again, but it was touch and go for a minute.
Even though this episode was a little far fetched, we generally dig the Fresh Beats and their groovy tunes and their sweet dance moves. Isabel will literally get up and dance to each and every song, and she is a GOOD dancer :)

Long live the Fresh Beat Band... No matter how many Marinas they go through.

Mar 27, 2012

A Teenager's Fascination with Pregnancy

By now, I am about 47 months pregnant, or thereabouts. Giant, whalish, and uncomfortable, and I think the little girl inside of me must weigh about thirty pounds.

Before I had children, I would look at women in my position and think they looked so cute. Now - I understand their plight. I think it is nearly impossible to feel attractive when you are 40 lbs over your normal weight and can't see your toes. And getting out of bed - forget it. I have to sleep close to the edge so I can roll off when I have to wake up 30 times at night to pee.

But even though I feel this way, my students are still completely enamored with pregnancy and with my growing belly and the baby who moves visibly inside my stomach. Their excitement is contagious and fascinating to me. I answer a hundred questions everyday about pregnancy, fetal development, birth and related topics. I try to be as honest with them as possible while keeping my miserableness out of the equation.

Every. Single. Day. I answer the following questions:

1. Is the baby moving? Can I feel? Will you tell me when the baby is moving so I can see?
This is so funny to me. During my yearbook class, I will have 10 girls gathered around trying to feel Olivia move. They are either totally creeped out by it, or they are so fascinated and ask a thousand more questions. Inevitably they want to know what she is doing, what are they feeling. I can usually feel and tell if they are feeling her back or her legs moving - they always want to know where her head is, but it feels as though it's so far down my pelvis that it could break through at any moment, haha. I think Olivia already likes the attention.

2. "What would happen if your water broke. Right. NOW?"

This is probably the top question that I get. I swear, there is someone in every class who asks me this every day. I think it is hilarious.

My student, Kat, is particularly fascinated by the thought of my water breaking in class.

So, last week, we had an end of the month fire drill. My high school class walked outside and stood across the driveway from the school waiting for the all clear. In this time, for some reason, one of the kids from the class next door poured out her water bottle on the concrete. You can probably see where I am going with this...

We got the all clear to enter the building, and as we were walking across the street, I stood on top of the water puddle and shouted "Oh my gosh, Kat!!" and pointed at the puddle. She got SO excited thinking my water had broken and was pretty disappointed when I had to tell her it was a joke, but everyone else within hearing distance thought it was pretty hilarious, and I have laughed about it a lot since then, haha.

Another concern, especially among my middle school class, is who has to clean up the mess if my water breaks in class. I love telling them whoever has the lowest grade in the class has to clean it up, muahahaha! But honestly, I would feel so bad if someone else had to take care of that, so I am sure I would be on my hands and knees with paper towels yelling at my students to sit down and behave, haha.

3. Can I drive you to the hospital?
Ha!! Like I would let a 16 year old drive me to the hospital. RIIIIIIGHT!

They think I am crazy when I tell them I will be driving myself home to wait on my husband before going to the hospital. I am pretty sure they think giving birth is a 30 minute process and that I will have to be rushed at 110 miles per hour to the nearest medical facility so that I do not deliver a baby in the floor board of the car. No concept of a 16 hour labor...

4. Have you had your baby yet?
This one makes me roll my eyes a little. This question usually comes from the boys and always has the same answer "I will not be here after I have the baby," which is equally confusing to them, even though we have discussed that they will have a long term sub 17 times. It's sweet though, when it is met with "but who will teach us!?" Glad I am needed :)

It is funny to think of my pregnancy from their perspective. I found out on the first day of school this year that I was pregnant, so they really have not known anything other than pregnant Mrs. Dodd. I swear Nick thinks I have been pregnant my whole life, and I certainly feel that way sometimes.

Getting excited to meet Miss Olivia and welcome her to the world. For now, waiting as patiently as I can, trying my hardest to enjoy these last few days as a family of 3 and soak up all the time with Daddy Drew and Isabel that I can.

Stay tuned for exciting news...

Feb 9, 2012

A Picture Post

Isabel's new tent for her bedroom. It's a lot bigger than mommy thought, so it has to wait to go in her room until we do some re-arranging. The cars, however, like the tent a lot more than Izzy.

Hey Isabel, where's your belly?

She knows where Olivia is, too!

My sweet girl :)

I adore this picture - I found Isabel rolling around behind the curtain playing with Clark. They are such good friends!

Isabel got to color for the first time today! She loved it and I did too! I for see lots of art projects in our future!

Feb 2, 2012

Two Things I Learned Today

1. Isabel's playtime logic could prove to be very beneficial to me :
We had one of Isabel's buddies over tonight so his dad could get some work done on their new house. Isabel was tired and a little whiney and wasn't so sure about Daniel playing with her toys. So, instead of pitching a fit about him touching her stuff, she began picking up all of her toys and putting them where they go. Selfish induced cleaning? Never heard of it before, but it worked, and our living room didn't look so much like a disaster :)

Putting away her things didn't work every time, though, so those items were tossed under the couch in a "If I can't play with them, no one can" last ditch effort.

She may have this a little messed up, but she's a smart girl who gets what she wants :)

2. Melted crayons are SO pretty :

I had an urge... A craving, one might say, to be crafty tonight. It doesn't happen often, so when I feel compelled, I try to go with it. Tonight, I decided to make new, fun, pretty crayons out of old crayons. I saw a pin on Pinterest where someone made Valentines by sticking a home made crayon on a piece of paper and writing something cheesy like "Valentine, you color my world." I, of course, thought this was genius, even if it were a little cheese ball. I had a great time crushing up crayons while watching Fringe with Drew an melting them in my oven. Had I titled this entry "Three things I learned today," number 3 would be that using your oven for something other than food is really fun!

I'll show you the finished product when and if I actually finish. I'm bad about that, you know...

Jan 22, 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Today, Isabel delighted me by taking a 3 hour nap!! I jokingly said that she deserved a cookie for her awesome nap, and then I started thinking about cookies...

Mmm, cookies.

Once my pregnant mind fixates on something, the craving must be satisfied.

Here is the recipe I use to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In your mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light. Add in the egg and vanilla and blend well.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.

4. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients with the butter and sugar mixture. When blended well, mix in the chocolate chips.

5. Using a tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5. Let cool, on the sheet, for five minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

I've found that this recipe makes just over 2 dozen cookies (I have a tendency to make medium/large sized cookies and eat some dough). Double the recipe if you need more cookies. I give you permission to forget that there would be 3 sticks of butter in a doubled recipe - you don't eat cookies for the nutritional value, am I right?

Jan 15, 2012

The Weekend

As a general rule, I cherish my weekends. I relish every second, bask in each moment.

This weekend, however, has not been one of my finest.

I've been trying to write this blog post for hours, but everything that comes to mind is negative - Isabel was difficult this weekend, my house is a complete disaster, I'm entering my third trimester and therefore am tired of being pregnant already, I watched a sad movie, and the dinner I made kinda sucked.

I need a vacation, or at least 8 hours of sleep.

Here's hoping Isabel sleeps all night and I wake up with a more sunny disposition.

*ps. I drew this this week. I know it's lovely, but please don't use it for anything without permission. I'm nice and I'll probably say yes, but it's my art, so be courteous. Kthxbai.

Jan 11, 2012

Prayers, Singing and Other Bedtime Routines

Bedtime at our house seems kind of like a train wreck every night.  An incredibly sweet, cuddly, noisy train wreck, if that makes sense at all.  I woke up thinking about it this morning, so I thought I would walk you through an average bedtime at Casa de Dodd.

At around 6 pm, we eat dinner - well, Isabel eats dinner and Drew and I tag team watching her to make sure she doesn't toss her peas on the ground and smear spaghetti o's in her hair (she did that last night, btw.  I apparently fell asleep on the job).  After cleaning her up and stepping on a few lost peas, we do one of two activities - every other night it's bath time.  That's an adventure all in itself, and another blog for another day.  Otherwise, we generally turn on Nick Jr., which she will watch for about 30 second intervals in between walking from the living room, through the kitchen, picking up a pot or a cutting board, carrying it to the hallway or dining room, dumping it, heading to the living room to play with her toys or in her "new car", climbing on something she's not supposed to climb on (yesterday it was the step ladder I forgot to put away, sometimes it's her baby rocking chair, last week it was the Christmas tree box), and then heading back to the den to sit in her pink elephant chair and start the whole process over again. 

After she does this 10-20 times (or the clock ticks one second past 7pm), she is sufficiently exhausted and starts to walk like a wobbly little drunk baby - that's the main cue that she's about to lose it if we don't start the next step of the bedtime routine.  I think she'd play all night long if we'd let her, which makes the transition to the next step kind of a fight on most occasions.  The next step is diaper change and jammies.  Lately we have been doing this part of the routine in the den as to "trick her", but she's too smart and has figured it out.  Usually I can get her clothes off and her diaper off before she manages to wiggle free and try to escape.  Fortunately, I have the advantage of size and strength in this equation, but sometimes she does manage to get free. 

So, after the chase, she finally gets her diaper on and her jammies on and then we all breathe a sigh of relief because this is the signal to her sweet little brain to start settling down (perhaps why she fights it so much).  Next she gets her milk.  I know there are moms out there that will judge because she still gets it in a bottle at bedtime, but I do not care.  She is happy, it makes bedtime easier and I don't think she will be 16 and still be needing a bottle at bedtime because I let her have it now.  So, if you are of the opinion that a baby should turn one, give up the bottle and never look back, I respectfully ask that you keep your opinions to yourself. *steps down off soap box*

This is my favorite time of the day.

This is the time when Isabel and I snuggle up on the couch and sit quietly while she has her bottle and I wrap my arms around her, breathe her in and just enjoy 5 minutes of peace.  It doesn't matter if she's freshly bathed or smells like Spaghetti O's, she is my precious little one and I cherish every second of that 8 ounce bottle.

When she is done, she hands the bottle to me.  I say "thank you" and then we go find daddy for "Nite nite" kisses.  She responds to this routine in one of two ways - either she flatly refuses to give anyone kisses, or she wants to give her daddy about a thousand kisses.  Obviously you can tell which one we like the best :)

After kisses for daddy, we head to her bedroom.  First thing she wants is her paci and teddy bear.  Then she lays her head on my shoulder and we say prayers.  Well, I say prayers and she snuggles, but I like to think that we're instilling an importance of prayer for our little one by saying our silly prayers every night.  Our prayers go something like this:  "Dear God, Thank you for this day and for getting to (insert activity, ie: go to the playground, buy food at the grocery store, go to school, play at Nana's, etc).  Thank you so much for Isabel, for Mommy and Daddy and Baby Olivia, for Nana and Granddad, Grammie and Grampa, Auntie Em and Uncle Steven, Miss Lillie and Daniel and all our friends and family.  Please help us to sleep so good and sleep all night long and have sweet sweet dreams and wake up happy and healthy in the morning.  In Jesus Name we pray, Amen"  Sometimes she will watch me as I do this, and I like that because she seems interested in what I am saying and seems to understand, at least understand who the people are that we are talking about.

Then it's kisses, goodnights, and I close the door and breathe a sigh - of relief that she's in bed, of sadness that another day has passed and my baby is growing up, of happiness that she is growing and healthy...

I know that this might seem like a crazy thing to do every night, especially if you don't have children, but her vibrancy and sweetness make the crazy all worth it.

Jan 8, 2012

Reflection... Or, Things I Learned This Week

Being Sunday, I think it is a great time to look back on the past week and see what happened and what I learned this week. So, here it goes:

1. Sometimes half weeks can seem extremely long.

2. I can get Isabel and I ready really fast when I sleep through my alarm for 45 minutes.

3. This is not new information, but my husband, Drew, is an exceptionally good cook. Had I thought of this more, I would have refused to cook a long time ago, haha. He made egg drop soup this week that was awesome, and the best steak I have ever had today for lunch.

4. Isabel is so smart. This, also, is not new information, but it always shocks me. This week, I taught Isabel how to play Ring Around the Rosie. She adored it and wanted to play over and over and over again. We would walk in a circle, then when we got to "all fall down," she would yank my hands down, then immediately pull them back up so that I would get up and do it all over again. Of course, she never fell down and got back up, so she had a lot more energy at the end than I did, haha.

5. Isabel is rediscovering how much she adores the outdoors. We went to three different parks and the zoo this week and she had an absolute blast. Today, after 45 minutes of swinging, sliding, walking around the duck pond and even more swinging, the sweet girl cried and cried when we had to go, even though she was shivering and it was getting dark. I think she'd live outside if we would let her eat dirt and rocks, haha.

6. I'm not a huge fan of going out to eat with Isabel in tow, since usually I do a lot of baby wrangling and not a lot of enjoying my meal. However, going out to eat at a location that offers Mac and cheese makes the whole situation much more enjoyable :)

7. 25 weeks pregnant is SOOOOO much better the second time around!

8. Apparently, my childhood that I thought was pretty awesome was not as awesome as I thought because I never had a huge Lego set.

9. Drew is absolutely adorable huddled over a giant pile of legos, building the Slave 1 and humming Star Wars themes.

10. Again, not something new, but re-remembering is always good - I love my church and the people in it and I am proud to be a member of such a strong body of Christ.

And a video for good measure - one of mine and Isabel's favorite things to do is animal sounds. Isabel is really good at puppy dog sounds, but we have been working on others lately. Her new favorite is an Elephant. I love how she raises her arm as if it were the elephant's trunk while she makes the sound. Here's the video:

Isabel's Elephant Video

Jan 4, 2012

Don't Forget

Tonight, I am tired.

A long night with Isabel followed by a long day and a tired, whiney baby left me a little frazzled. I was just about ready to call in sick to this whole mommy thing when I got a little bit of a wake up call from myself. I took a few minutes while Isabel was eating her dinner (Mac n cheese and blueberries, her favorite) to fill out the year one page in her Birthday Book. One of the questions made me nostalgic ("How do I picture you when I close my eyes?"), and once I finished the page, I quickly scanned through the rest of the book - a 10 second action that lead me to the page for her 18th birthday.


Tears started streaming down my face thinking of my BABY being 18 years old. Every single little frustration I had with Isabel instantly left and all I wanted to do was hold her and not let her grow up!!

But that is part of life - we grow, and generally it is for the better!

This mama doesn't ever want to forget these precious moments I have when my babies are, well, babies. So here are a few things about One-year-old Isabel that I never want to forget:

1. Her curly blonde hair and her big blue eyes.

2. Her dimples - and that grin, the oh-so-cute one where she squinches up her whole face with a smile.

3. The way she crosses her ankles when she sits on the ground or in her car seat.

4. Her favorite phrase of "Oh, Wow!" If only we could all be as enthusiastic as Isabel!

5. Her awesome animal noises. The two grunts she makes for a puppy dog sound, and the one hand up and high pitched noise for an elephant...

6. Her favorite song is the Doxology and we sing it a LOT. My favorite thing about our morning trips to Nana's house is singing this to her and then at the end she makes a sound that kinda sounds like "aaraaanh", which actually means "amen."

7. Her intelligence. This child is a baby genius. She picks up on things so quickly and her vocabulary at 13 months astounds me.

8. How much she loves her daddy - she's always excited to see him, play with him and especially to have him tickle her.

9. Mornings when we can stay in bed and snuggle for a few extra minutes and she gives kisses and then puts her face up to your mouth to have you kiss her. She is so loving and gentle in these moments and I can not begin to tell you how much I cherish this.

10. Her sweet giggles. They are magical and contagious.

Mommy loves you forever, Isabel Jane!

Jan 3, 2012

New Year, New Baby, New Blog

January 3, 2012... Can you even believe that it is 2012?? Where have my days, weeks, months gone?

It seems like just yesterday...

That I started college at an art school, wondering what I wanted to do with my life, and now I am a teacher, a wife, a mother...

That Drew got down on one knee at White Rock Lake with a ring in his hands, and now we've nearly been married for 6 years...

That my sweet Isabel was born, and now she is a whole year old, walking, talking, making me laugh every single day...

That I took a pregnancy test on a whim and found out I was expecting another beautiful baby, and now I am 25 weeks pregnant with a beautiful baby girl who we will name Olivia...

It's been a little over 10 years ago that I graduated high school. There is no way that 18 year old me would have ever pictured this beautiful home I live in or my sweet husband making my dinner while my beautiful baby sleeps in her crib and another grows in my belly. Nothing I could have imagined would have lived up to this. I love every bit of my life.

The beginning of a new year always makes me a little contemplative. What about the last year did I love? What would I love to have changed? Was there something that I actually could have changed, or was it just the circumstances I encountered? How did I handle the situations I was dealt? Did I project my love for God to those around me, or did I project myself? Was I happy?

As always, there are things I would like to improve, but this year, I have a much better reason for improvement than ever before.

Isabel Jane watches, learns, repeats... She is incredibly smart, and she is watching everything that her mommy does. THAT is a way better reason than a new year to examine and adjust. And now Olivia is on her way. I want to be the best mommy I can be, and to be that, I have to be the best wife, the best teacher, the best homemaker, the best person I can be, so that my girls see the big picture and the small everyday things.

And I am actually excited about this - getting my house in order, treating my body right, eating right, feeding my family good, wholesome food, spending time down on the floor with my daughter and in the Bible with my savior, investing in my marriage... This is what I yearn for!

And over the next year, I hope that you will follow along with me, encourage me, and keep me accountable to do these things. I plan to post here the trials and wonders of being a working mom of two beautiful girls.

Happy New Year, friends!