January ‘18 recap.

I’ve done a monthly recap post, accompanied with a family photo from that month, every month since January 2015. The format has changed through the years and I debated what to do this year. Ultimately, I decided to keep it simple – a family photo from the month and a recap.

January 2018 started off with a wonderful blessing – Ava got the okay on December 29 to just wear the rhino cruiser brace at night and she started walking a few days into the new year. Ironically she learned to walk the first time in January of 2017. She is doing really well and we’re so proud of how hard she’s working.  She wears the brace at night and during naps and is a good sport about it.  Owen is in his harness at night and is also such a good sport.  Our kids are just amazing.

The weather has been pretty mild and Ava and I (and sometimes Owen – he’ll often stay home with Grandma) have enjoyed walking over to Kevin’s office a few times a week to walk him home for lunch or to visit in the afternoon.  It’s a nice way to get some fresh air.  Another real perk this month has been grocery shopping.  I’m serious!  We love to grocery shop as a family and when Ava was in the cast and the brace, she would not fit in the grocery cart, so we had to take the stroller and one of us would push her while the other pushed the cart and wore Owen in the Ergo.  Now she can ride in the cart.  It’s a lot more fun for her and just makes the process so much easier.  If Owen is asleep, I can wait in the car with him and Ava and Kevin can go do the shopping.  That was impossible before because he couldn’t push her in the stroller and the cart at the same time.

My birthday was really nice and filled with love from family and friends near and far. More on that here.

Kevin and I went to a post-holiday holiday party on January 6 – the first time we both left Ava and Owen. It wasn’t a late night, of course, but was still nice to spend a little time together without kids. Owen was less than enthusiastic about taking a bottle but did fine and Ava was disappointed when Kevin and I got home. She made Grandma and Grandpa listen to Raffi sing the He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands no fewer than 20 times so they were relieved when we got home around 7:30. :)

We had our kitchen countertops and backsplash replaced and got a new microwave and dishwasher in January. Before and after pics here. We are really loving the improvements. We also had Renewal by Anderson come and replace the four remaining original windows. Nothing glamorous but they do look great and we notice fewer drafts so the improved insulation gets two thumbs up.

My sister came to town a couple of times in January and it was great to see her. We went out to breakfast with family on a few Sunday mornings. I had a few brunches/lunches with friends.  Kevin took his mom to the symphony one Saturday evening.  It was all Mozart (and they went on Mozart’s birthday!  How cool is that?) and they both enjoyed it, particularly the pianist’s piece.

We followed our “strict” eating plan all month which meant no fried food, no sweets, no sodas, no alcohol, no pasta, and no pizza.  We both feel really good.  Starting in February we’ll go to our three cheats phase of the plan which means we can each have three cheats (one serving of any of the above categories) in a week.  We’ve been super into smoothies and overnight oats for breakfast and honey lemon water in the evening.

And that was the month in a {large} nutshell.  Tell me something about your January.

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Cooking in style.

Okay.  Our house is basically a completely different house than it was when we bought it.  The kitchen was our last big project and it was quite the transformation.  We are in love with our new countertops and backsplash.  Our trusty contractor and his son did an amazing job.  All we need is for the Food Network to call, offering us a cooking show because we have the space, baby.  Check it out!

Here’s before.  I didn’t remember to take a picture until after all our stuff was off the counters, but it does show the bare bones of the kitchen.

First stage of the process was new countertops.  The guys came in the morning and were done in just a few hours.  Here’s the outcome.

We lived with this for about a week and then Kirk and Scott worked their magic on the backsplash.  And here it is!

Doesn’t it look so good?  Like a different kitchen!  We moved our stuff back in and cooked our first dinner (spaghetti!) in style.

Do you have any house update plans for 2018? 

That’s a wrap {December}.

Links to Love:

  1. Emergency SOS on iOS 11 – how to quickly and easily call emergency services.
  2. Check out these tourist destinations before they get too popular.  There are some that may be on the rise, but I still don’t wanna go there.  (I’m looking at you, Columbia.)
  3. This MRI image is an amazing visual of the love between a mother and child.
  4. I love this letter a dad wrote to his daughter’s school in response to a school sponsored field trip.

Making Memories:

  1. Kevin celebrated a birthday!  He had to work for most of the day but managed to come home a little early and took a little nap to celebrate turning 34.  His parents picked up Pars Mediterranean for dinner and brought it to our house.  We had ice cream and Thin Mint brownies for dessert.  He opened gifts and I think had a good birthday even if it was pretty low key.  He is my favorite and I sure do love celebrating him.
  2. Kevin had about ten days off work for the holiday and it was so nice for all of us.  We’re all dreading Tuesday when he has to go back to work.  We had a long list of house projects to tackle while he was off and didn’t accomplish many of them, but that’s okay.  We relaxed, we played, we enjoyed the holiday together.  It was a good time.
  3. We met with a rep from Renewal by Anderson and the company that we used for our countertop and shelves in our master bath remodel and we arranged to start 2018 off with some home improvement projects.  We’re getting four windows replaced (finishing up our three phases of window replacement) and replacing our kitchen countertops, which I am really, really excited about.
  4. I met up with one friend for brunch and another for lunch – without any kids in tow, which was really nice.  Kevin has been working for several months to help plan his 15 year high school reunion and it was in December.  He said it was a good time and got to catch up with some classmates he hadn’t seen in a long time.
  5. We had a really fantastic Christmas.  Lisa came to town on the 30th and is currently staying with us.  We’re ringing in the new year quite festively as I type this.  We’re watching Breaking Bad reruns.  Lisa brought us a great Moscato and she and I are drinking that.  Kevin’s taking it to a whole new level of wild as he sips on honey lemon water (he’s fighting off a cold or a sinus thing).
  6. Of course we had a few doctor appointments because such is our life.  Good news all around – Owen’s hips have normalized and he has been in the Pavlik harness only at night.  We go back in January to make sure everything is still on track.  Also awesome news – Ava’s hip x-ray looked good and our doctor gave us the go-ahead for her to be out of the brace during the day.  It has been nerve-wracking but exciting to see her move around without the brace.  We go back in three months and she’ll have a standing x-ray, which will hopefully show great progress.  We’re not out of the woods but it certainly is a good start to 2018.

Bookish:

  1. In December I read The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne and gave it 4 stars.  I listened to Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and gave it 3 stars.  And last but not least I read A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, to which I gave 4 stars.
  2. I am currently reading Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery, Dinner: A Love Story: It All Starts at the Family Table by Jenny Rosenstrach, and I’m listening to Shopping for a Billionaire by Julia Kent.
  3. Kevin is reading The Great Bridge:  The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough and listening to Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.
  4. Ava has been loving Little Blue Truck and Scaredy-Cat Sleepover (featuring Minnie and Daisy).

Challenges:

  1. I’ve had a few friends struggling with personal issues – one lost a parent, another has a very ill parent, a third had a baby and has had a tough time in her recovery.  It’s hard to see your friends struggle and feel so helpless.  Lots of prayers for them.

Sustenance:

  1. I think the only new recipe we tried in December was this Croissant French Toast.
  2. Pretty sure I’ve linked to it before but it’s worth linking to again – I made this apple bread three times in December.

How was your December?

Merry merry merry.

I don’t often blog, but when I do I recap every little detail.  Buckle up.

Lisa took all of the good pictures in this post; I took the sub-par ones. 

Christmas 2017 was a wonderful one. We put up our tree the weekend before Christmas and Ava loved decorating. She really got into the ornaments and was very good about not touching them or the tree.

We have a tradition of gifting Ava and now Owen each with a pair of Christmas pajamas, a Christmas/winter book, and an ornament. They get to open these gifts on the day we decorate the tree. This year Ava got Llama Llama Jingle Bells, which she has been coveting for months, and Owen got That’s Not My Snowman. I ordered matching ornaments for them from this Etsy shop. The ornaments are very cute but I kind of regret going with the wood because one had already begun to split.

Kevin went to El Modelo on December 22 at 7:30 AM to pick up 4 quarts of posole and 2 dozen tamales for our annual Christmas eve dinner. He naturally also got us a couple of chorizo breakfast burritos because yum.

On the evening of the 23rd we loaded up in the car and drove around looking at Christmas lights and decorations. It was a fun start to a new tradition. I’m excited for Ava and Owen to be old enough to drink hot cocoa while we drive around.

On Christmas eve day I wrapped most of the gifts while Kevin tried to get Ava to nap (she seemed to be feeling off that day and they wound up taking a cuddle nap in the glider in her room) and Owen sat in the safari chair, staring at the Christmas tree. We started putting out our luminarias at around 4:00. We have ordered 8 dozen luminarias for the past few years and that seems to work out really well for us. My parents and sister got to our house around 4:15 and were a huge help in putting out the luminarias.

We started heating up the posole and tamales at around 4:45 and I made homemade tortillas. My aunt Jewell came over around 5:00 and she and my mom set to work shelling a bag of walnuts that someone at work gifted us. We don’t have a nutcracker so they used brute force and a pipe wrench. :)  My stepdad cooked the tortillas on the cast iron skillet while I rolled them out. Kevin’s parents and a family friend came over before 5:30 and once the food was all ready, we ate. It was so tasty, as usual. Owen was a good little guy in the Mamaroo. Craig and Sue had brought biscochitos for dessert and Aunt Jewell brought brownies. We were all full by 7:00. We took Ava up to bed at that time and she fell asleep quickly. Mom, Dale, Lisa, Kevin, and I watched a 2015 dog show that was randomly on TV. And bedtime came around 9:00 for all of us. It was a lovely, still night and I wish Kevin and I would have walked around the neighborhood to see the luminarias, but we didn’t know how Ava would sleep since she’d seemed off all day (she slept perfectly from 7:30-7:45, btw) and Owen has us up every three hours, so sleep seemed more important at the time.

Kevin and I woke up around 5:45 on Christmas morning and I fed Owen. He settled back into his bassinet and Kevin and I sat in the sitting area of our master suite. Kevin started the fire in our fireplace and we exchanged our Christmas gifts to one another and just relaxed and cuddled in front of the fire. It was a lovely way to start what was certain to be a busy day.

We went downstairs around 7:15 and my mom and sister helped me get this lemon and cream cheese croissant French toast casserole in the oven. We also made some bacon and hash browns. Ava woke up around 7:45 and started playing immediately. We took tea.

Kevin made up the herb rub for our prime rib and then went to his parents house to get it in the oven around 8:15. The casserole, bacon, and hash browns were delicious and Kevin and his parents came over around 9:15. They ate and then we tackled the mountain of gifts!

Ava was so cute. She opened a puzzle from my parents first and would have been perfectly content to play with that for hours. Kevin and Lisa had to coax her into opening more gifts! Eventually she got into it and would say, “What could it be?,” as she was opening each one.

Owen ate for a bit and then he was so content and cheerful and sweet, just sitting in the safari chair, looking at the tree as we all opened gifts around him. He was such a good boy all day!

Kiki made herself scarce, but Rue came out to find a comfy spot amongst the wrapping paper.

We finished up around 11:30 and hit the ground running with bread dough making, getting ready, vegetable prepping, encouraging Ava to take a little quiet time, etc. Before we knew it, it was 1:00 and time to head to Craig and Sue’s for lunch. There were 13 adults and Ava and Owen at lunch. It was so, so good and wonderful company. Owen napped through lunch which was great because it allowed me to eat way too much prime rib. :) Dessert was frozen cherry pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate silk pie, and apple pie. No one went hungry, that’s for sure!

Eventually the party broke up and everyone headed their separate ways. It was such a nice day with the people I love most.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

How was your holiday? 

That’s a wrap {November}.

Links to Love:

  1. Kevin showed me this and it’s hilarious – farting in public with attitude.
  2. The other day I feel down the rabbit hole that is subscription boxes.  The mother load can be found on Cratejoy.  I found one for basically everyone I need to buy Christmas gifts for and a few I want for myself.
  3. The cheapest and most expensive states in terms of real estate.  New Mexico is somewhere in the middle.
  4. Did you find any awesome deals for Black Friday or Cyber Monday?  (Which are both basically a week long now.  Consumerism.  No joke.)  I may have indulged in a little shopping on the Gap and Nordstrom websites.

 

Making Memories:

  1. We hosted Thanksgiving!  It was a lot of fun to have my extended family and Kevin’s parents and their close friend over for the day.  Ava was like, “Whoa – what’s going on here?” because we usually lead a very quiet life and there were 30 adults and 15 kids in her space, but she did great and we appreciated not having to travel!  The food was great – (we do potluck so it’s not like I have to cook for all those people when it’s at my house) and the weather was fantastic.  We have a pretty big space and a good layout in our house for entertaining, but it still would have been crowded indoors if the weather was bad.  We were thankful for a clear day in the 60’s!
  2. Kevin went to a 30/80 party for a judge he formerly clerked for. The Judge was celebrating 30 years on the bench and his 80th birthday. He’s an exemplary man and Kevin loved working with him and learning from him.
  3. Owen and I went to a friend’s baby shower and I had the chance to catch up with some friends from my elementary school days. I really enjoyed it.
  4. Owen started melting our hearts with social smiles this month and Ava continues to make us so proud as she learns to pull up and stand and balance in the brace. We sure do love these kids of ours.

Bookish:

  1. In November I finished Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (5 stars – really recommend this one.  I listened to it, but think it would read really well too.), Chestnut Street by one of my favorites – Maeve Binchy (4 stars), and I listened to The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell (3 stars).
  2. I just downloaded Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bumni Laditan but haven’t started listening to it yet. I am a few pages into Do You Come Here Often? by Alexandra Potter. I started Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly last month but it was due back to the library and had holds on it so I couldn’t extend it. Maybe I’ll pick it back up someday. I have A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett going on my phone/iPad but haven’t made much progress.  I also am working on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Lots of book irons in the fire.
  3. Kevin finished listening to Vengeance by Newt Gingrich and gave it 4 stars. The series is set up for a fourth book and he said it’s starting to get a little ridiculous.
  4. Kevin is currently reading Naked by David Sedaris and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  
  5. Ava has been loving The Little Blue Truck and That’s Not My Owl. 

Challenges:

  1. We had our pediatrician refer us for an ultrasound to get Owen’s hips checked out and it did show that a slight issue with his left hip.  We got him in to see Ava’s pediatric orthopedist two days after the first ultrasound and he ordered a second one to review himself. He agreed that there was an issue and put Owen in a Pavlik harness, which he’ll be in until the hip normalizes.  Because they grow so rapidly at this young age, hopefully it’ll normalize quickly and we are sooooo grateful that it is being addressed now rather than when he’s 18 months old, like Ava was when we found out about her hip dysplasia.  But it was still a blow and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the thought of having a toddler in a brace and an infant in a harness.  We’re making it though!

Sustenance:

1. I think the only new recipe I tried in November was this spaghetti bolognese. It was fine but not something that blew me away.

How was your November?

A day in the life – October 2017.

 

Keeping up the day-in-the-life every-six-months post tradition with this detailed account of what a day (and a night because, well, there is a newborn in the house) looks like over here.

Where do I start? Midnight? Or the typical morning start-time? Decisions, decisions.

We’ll go with morning.

Ava has been waking up around 7:00 or 7:15. She usually wakes up cheerful and plays with her stuffed animals in her crib. We’ll hear her telling them to sit and rearranging them. Kevin (who has been downstairs since 4:30 am – more on that later) goes in to get Ava and she’ll enlist his help in further arranging her stuffed friends. Sometimes she’ll want to stay in her nest (crib – she’s been calling it a nest and she’ll lean back on her bed wedge and say, “Nest. Soooooo cozy.”) and sometimes she’ll want to get out and play on the floor or go “find mama”.

Mama (that’s me) will have gotten out of bed at 7:15 when the sound machine switched from white noise to ocean waves. {Back when Ava could walk she toddled over to our sound machine – which Kevin has owned since he was in high school – and somehow programmed the sound of the ocean to come on every morning at 7:15. We have no idea how to un-program this.} I go downstairs and start feeding Owen. Ava and Kevin come to find me and she usually sits on the floor in the living room and starts playing. She’ll often request Cat (Daniel Tiger) so we’ll turn that on if she does. Otherwise we’ll keep it on Mike & Mike (she says Mike and Mike, which is adorable) – soon to be Golic and Wingo, but that’s off topic.

Anyway, Ava has a yogurt pouch and Kevin and I have breakfast of some kind. Owen alternates between eating and dozing and staring up at the ceiling.

Kevin gets ready to be to work at 9:00 and three mornings a week, his mom comes over to hang out with us from 9:00 to 1:30. She’ll hold Owen while Ava and I go for a walk around the neighborhood at 10:00 or so. And she’ll play with Ava while I’m feeding Owen. Her help has been a great way to transition into attending to the needs of two little humans. And Ava loves her time with Grandma.

I start getting Ava’s lunch ready around 11:50. She eats and we’ll eat with her. Kevin is able to come home for lunch most days which is great. Ava heads upstairs with me around 12:35 and we change a diaper, read three books, and then I walk around holding her and singing until she falls asleep. We’d love to just be able to put her in the crib and have her fall asleep on her own, but that is a rare occurrence so I jump through hoops to try to get a nap. {Today I was not successful, despite my acrobatic hoop jumping. Eventually I just left her to play in her crib for an hour.} If she naps, I try to get Owen to nap at the same time and I try to sleep myself or at least lay on the couch and relax.

When she wakes up we resume playing. She’ll have a snack at some point. Kevin comes home around 5:15 and we’ll get dinner started. We eat around 6:00/6:15 and then clean up the kitchen. We’ll usually head upstairs around 7:00 to start the bedtime routine. It’s really nice to spend time together in Ava’s room, her on a beanbag, one of us on the floor reading books, and the other sitting in the glider, holding Owen. I tell Ava good night and that I love her. Then she and Kevin start walking around. They sing five songs. She has really been good at putting herself to sleep at night.

Kevin joins Owen and me downstairs and we finish picking up the house, getting the coffee pot programmed for the morning, giving Kiki her medicine and wet food (which she has been underfoot requesting for hours), and then we settle down on the couch to watch football or read or catch up on a show (currently enjoying the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the Big Bang Theory). Owen will eat and finish up around 8:30. I’ll swaddle him and put him in the Rock and Play. Then I’ll go upstairs to get ready for bed and get some sleep in the bed from about 9:00 to 11:30. Then I go back downstairs and Kevin will go upstairs to grab some shut eye in bed from 11:30ish to 4:30. Meanwhile downstairs I’ll feed Owen from about 11:30 to 12:15 or whenever he’s done. Then I’ll sleep on the couch until 3:30 (getting up sooner to feed him again if he wakes up) when I feed him again until about 4:15. Kevin comes back downstairs and sleeps on the couch for a bit before turning on Mike & Mike, pouring some coffee, and starting his morning time. I sleep upstairs until the sound of those ocean waves wakes me up at 7:15.

Someday soon we hope to sleep in the same room but this setup has really been working well for us. We each get some solid sleep in the bed without the little baby noises coming from the Rock and Play and we both feel well rested for the upcoming day. We’ll see when we brave bringing the baby upstairs for the night!

And that’s a typical 24 hour stretch in our house right now. Not mentioned are… Lots of diaper changes. Occasional meltdowns from the infant, the toddler, and the mama ;-). And the other little things that make family life what it is. I love ours.

What’s a typical day like for you? 

That’s a wrap {September}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. This letter from a mother to her daughter.

  1. Road trips that showcase stunning fall foliage.  Gorgeous scenery here!
  2. And no links here, but my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the hurricanes over the past few weeks and the shooting in Las Vegas last night. I don’t have words, but I do have prayers.  <3

Making Memories:

  1. Kevin has been assisting with the football team at home games only and while the team is in a bit of a “re-building” year, I think he is really enjoying getting out there to work with his former head coach and the kids.  It’s a beautiful field and campus and a great opportunity for him to get out of the house on the weekends and do something that he enjoys.  Ava and I wish we could go to the games, but they are always right during naptime.  And nothing messes with naptime.
  2. We met up with the Escape Room dream team again to do another room.  This one was super tech heavy and centered around getting into an Egyptian tomb.  We did it with time to spare!  Then we went to a brewery for beers and chicken with waffles.  It was a great afternoon!
  3. Ava has had several playdates with friends and neighbors and a birthday party attended in September.  We continue to usually have friends come to us because it is so much easier to have chair options for her to sit in at our house.
  4. Some friends that I met through Junior League threw a lovely brunch to celebrate Owen’s impending arrival.  I hope to write more about the three celebrations Owen has had in another post because it really is so sweet to me that people put so much love into making us feel special.  But I can barely manage to get up this one monthly recap post recently, so I want to be sure to share a bit about these highlights here too.  I had so much fun catching up with some of my favorite ladies.  Many of them aren’t in the local Junior League any longer or if they are, not very active or on Sustainer or Leave of Absence (yours truly) status, but I am so appreciative that the organization brought us together.  One friend (hi Megan!) even timed a trip to NM from NYC (where she currently lives) to come to the brunch!  It was an awesome morning and I felt so spoiled.
  5. We got Owen’s room painted and the crib and dresser delivered.  Décor has started to come together, even if it’s not on the walls yet.  A neighborhood friend has passed on so many baby clothes to us!  Owen has a much larger wardrobe already than Ava has ever had.
  6. My mother-in-law and a sweet friend threw a baby sprinkle brunch for Owen on September 30.  It was awesome!  The décor and the food and all the thoughtful little touches were so special.  There was a great turnout of family and friends and I loved having a chance to catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen in awhile.  Seriously.  I’m so spoiled!

Bookish:

  1. In September I finished five books:  Miss You by Kate Eberlen (3 stars), Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes (listened to this one on Audible and gave it 4 stars), The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (4 stars), Miss Mapp by E. F. Benson (4 stars), and Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (4 stars).
  2. I’m currently reading Persuasion by Jane Austen and listening to Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  Both are great!
  3. Kevin finished All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and gave it 5 stars.  He also finished The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell:  A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee.  He gave it 4 stars.
  4. Kevin is currently reading Naked by David Sedaris and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  He’s listening to American Kingpin by Nick Bilton.
  5. Ava has been loving The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood:  Meet the Neighbors

Challenges:

  1. This phase of life has included many doctor’s appointments.  I am so fortunate that Kevin is able to make all the pre-natal checkups and all of Ava’s appointments too.  It does take time from work for both of us and that can lead to working evenings and so forth to stay caught up.  But the appointments have all been filled with so many blessings and I have my favorite guy right by my side for all of them, so I can’t say that this is a tough challenge.
  2. We have met our out-of-pocket max for Ava and will soon for myself and Owen, so big year for medical expenses.  I’m so grateful that we have good insurance and that our need to use it has been for stuff like welcoming a new baby into our family and tending to a medical need like hip dysplasia, which, while certainly challenging and scary, is treatable and was caught relatively early for our little Ava.

Sustenance:

  1. We made these mozzarella stuffed meatballs in the slow cooker for lunch one day and they were really good.  Except they gave me heartburn.  But that’s too unexpected at this gestational stage, so I can’t blame the recipe.  Easy, look fancy with the cheese oozing out of the center, and I recommend.
  2. Kevin and I went on a date night to Indigo Crow where we both feasted on Caesar salad and lobster ravioli.  He enjoyed a glass of wine and we both enjoyed the patio atmosphere and each other’s company.

How was your September?