Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Keeping Organized...

 If you knew me for the first 23 years of my life, you're probably very surprised to see me write a post on organization. I'm ashamed to admit that I used to be, well, pretty messy and unorganized. I knew where and when I needed to be somewhere and I've never been the tardy type, but in high school and college I found myself always in such a rush that clothes piled on the floor, my backpack was a wreck, and I didn't even consider making a to-do list. My, my how times have changed.
 
Ever since getting married, and especially since having Bear, I've been all about running an efficient household. When things are out of order or we miss an appointment, I feel like a lousy wife and momma. It makes me feel much better to have things running on somewhat of a system. I find it fascinating, for some odd reason, to see how other people stay on task throughout the day/week/month so I thought I'd share with you guys a little of how we keep organized around these parts. These aren't perfect methods, but it works for us!
 
 
 Every night before bed, I sit down at the desk in our kitchen and write out a day plan and mini to-do list for the upcoming day. I don't always stick to them verbatim, but it gives me a visual outline of what I'd like to accomplish. It feels good to mark things off the to-do list throughout the day, and the day plan helps me maintain a timely schedule.
 
Also at the kitchen desk sits a dry erase calendar where I keep only our big events posted, ie doctor's appointments and company visits. (the top right corner serves as a "when to get things out of the oven" spot, too...cookies were done at 6:10 that night :) ). I check this calendar every morning to make sure we don't have any appointments that we're forgetting.
 
Beside the calendar sits one of the best purchases I've ever made, our card box. I'm big into sending cards, especially to our sweet grandparents, so I like to keep them all organized and handy for those "Nana's birthday is Wednesday and I don't have time to go get a card!" moments.
 
I wouldn't remember Nana's birthday was Wednesday if it weren't for this trusty planner; she's my best friend. I take her everywhere! Inside is not only calendars and memos, but also a full list of everyone we know's birthday. I seriously write everything in here. It's great for staying organized on the go, as you never know when you'll need to jot something down or check a calendar for dates/plans.
 
Also inside this planner is where I keep my weekly cleaning schedule. This, my friends, is proving to be the best thing I've ever done for myself and our house. I've divided up cleaning tasks into 6 days, with Saturdays off, so each day I spend about 30 minutes cleaning and the house constantly stays tidy. It's a lifesaver when you have a baby and don't have tons of time to devote to cleaning; I would highly suggest new mommies making a schedule like this one. I feel like I have more time to enjoy our little man while still maintaining a clean house.
 
Lastly, this is our mail system. Zach and I rarely ever fight, but the majority of our arguments the first 6 months we lived in this house were due to misplaced mail. We always sat new mail by the trash can (dumb!) and it would mysteriously disappear, causing us to question the each other and sometimes even miss out on bill pay. No good! We developed this system for bills:
bottom row- to be paid (none at the moment! yes!)
middle row- to be filed
top row- receipts for flex spending
I pay all bills and Zach files all bills so it's easier to keep things straight. This system has worked great for us; now if we could just figure out a way to elminate bills altogether....

Also, on groceries, we are what you call "bulk buyers". Once every 2-3 months we make a trip to Sam's Club and load up on items such as granola bars, water, paper towels, etc. We keep a notepad on our fridge with a running list of items we're low on or have just run out of. Whoever uses the last egg or drinks the last glass of milk is responsible for jotting it down on the list. I make at least one SuperTarget run a week and grab all the items we've written down. This way, we never go more than a day or two without a full fridge and pantry.

I feel like I could rant about organization all day...sometime I'm hoping to share with y'all how we keep Bear's things in order. It's a job!

 
What are some of your organization tricks? Are you a list-maker, too? Please share!
 
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Bisquick Cookies

 
 
Zach often gets frustrated with my "random" baking. I'll throw just about anything into a batch of cookies; one time it was even an entire cookie within a cookie (seen here...for the record it worked!). So the other day when I told him I wanted to bake something, he politely informed me, "Boys really just like plain ol' chocolate chip cookies".
"Fine", I told him, "but I'm at least trying a new recipe". When I stumbled upon these easy chocolate chip cookies with Bisquick in the mix, I knew it was a winner. Plus we already had all the necessary ingredients. Score! Happy hubby, happy baker.
 
Super easy, super good. You can't, after all, go wrong with plain ol' chocolate chip cookies.
 
 
You'll need:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz.)
 
 
Directions:
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add Bisquick; beat on low speed until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Onto ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set on edges and golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.
 
recipe found here
note: My first batch turned out a little flat (but still yummy!) so I refrigerated the dough for about 20 minutes and the second batch held their shape better (as pictured).
 


Happy baking, friends!

 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

10 Weeks

Hi, y'all! Two quick things before Mr. Bear's update....
#1- I'm guest posting for Ada over at Elegance Personified today...she just welcomed a sweet baby girl, Vivian, and is out enjoying lots of newborn cuddles.
#2- Happy, happy birthday to my beautiful friend Whitney at Keeping Up with the Cyperts! She turned 26 today...be sure and go give her some b-day love!


Someone turned 10 weeks old on Sunday...
He leaned over in the last picture just so you could read that he dislikes the hiccups..
 
 
Height: 24 1/4 in. (at 2 month appointment)
Weight: 14 lb. 5 oz. (on our home scale...likely a little off)


Things to Remember:
-You rolled over for the first time last Friday at 9 weeks old. We were so proud! You were doing tummy time and slowly wiggled yourself over onto your back. You haven't done it since, but you did it twice that night. Way to go!
-You are eating every 2-2 1/2 hours now (for weeks it was 1 1/2-2 hours).
-You are sleeping great at night but haven't napped very well the last week. Hopefully you'll start napping a little more during the day so Momma can get some things done!
-Every night when Daddy gets home, he lays on the couch and sits you on his tummy. He then sings the Texas A&M fight song to you and you LOVE it. You smile and coo and look at Daddy like he's the greatest thing in the world. You are already a Daddy's boy.
-You aren't into toys yet but will look at them, just not touch.
-You love cuddling with Mommy in bed every morning...Mommy loves it too.
-You are such a water baby! You seem to really enjoy bath time; we can't wait to get some toys in there with you. We give you a bath every night about two hours before bedtime.



Every time I sit down to write one of these updates I get a little teary eyed that another week has passed. It's truly a bittersweet thing watching a child grow; part of you wants them to get big and learn new things, while part of you wants them to stay small and cuddly forever. I tend to wish for the latter.
 
I'm feeling extra gushy today...Bear and I spent the morning dancing around the living room while Bob Dylan serenaded us from the record player. Bear seems to have good taste in music; Kesha comes on in the car....cries. Fusses. The Beatles or Paul Simon...nothing but smiles and coos. Makes me so proud.

Anyway, as we danced and swayed to "Blowin' in the Wind", I looked out the front door at the beautiful, sunshiney morning. Then I looked down at my son and saw his chubby cheeks upturned in a smile, dimples in full effect and eyes lit up with Mommy's holding me excitement. All at once it hit me just how lucky I am and how lovely this life really is. It's not perfect, and we don't always have the answers, but the moments shared with those we love make it all worth while.

The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind.
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Momma Style: The Bell Bottom Blues

 
blazer:Dillards, jeans/belt:F21, bracelets:Charming Charlie, J.Crew, necklace:Francesca's, top:Target, bag:thrifted
 
 
I laugh at myself when I wear brown and black together; it takes me back to junior high days when my friends and I immaturely swore off any boys that paired brown belts with black shoes. I mean, we're talking big time no-no. "Brown and black, don't take him back". It was that serious. I'm just lucky Zach doesn't follow my adolescent dating rules or I'd be out a husband.
 
I'm all about skinny jeans, as my closet would certainly prove, but there's something about bell bottoms that get me all giddy inside. It's like playing 1970's dress-up, Saturday Night Fever style. John Travolta didn't have to worry about breastfeeding though...lucky dude. A button up top is the easy solution; nursing doesn't have to be super wardrobe-restricting! I love finding pieces that allow on-the-go breastfeeding and keep both Momma and Baby happy.
 
 
What styles are you currently loving? Do you ever branch out from trendy skinnies? Would love to hear your thoughts!
 
 
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sopapilla Cheesecake

 
Our good friends Cody and Alexis had us over for lunch today and treated us to beef fajitas; it was a delicious feast of Mexican food that left everyone almost...almost...too full for dessert. But somehow we managed to make room for sopapilla cheesecake, which turned out to be a hit. Zach was the biggest fan; when we got home this evening he had a third helping and asked, "Why don't we make this for, like, Thanksgiving?"
 
Turkey, dressing, and sopapilla cheesecake. Now that's a menu I could get behind.
 
You see, last night around 10pm we were trying to scrape together a dessert recipe that would go with the Mexican food Cody and Alexis were preparing. Sopapillas kept coming to mind, but we knew they'd be impossible to make ahead of time. Suddenly Zach stumbled upon this recipe and we knew it was the winner. Easy, yummy, and the perfect end to any meal...even Thanksgiving.
The cinnamon sugar on top is our favorite part. Add a little extra if you wish...the cripiness of the baked sugar with the soft, rich cream cheese is enough to send you back for seconds. Or thirds.
 
 
 
You'll need:
16 ounces cream cheese
2 pkg. Pillsbury (8 ct.) crescent rolls
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
 
Directions:
Using a 9 x 13 baking pan, unroll one package of crescent rolls.
Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and extract. Spread over the crescent rolls.
Unroll the other can of crescent rolls and place on top of cream cheese mixture.
Pour one stick of melted butter or margarine over the top and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
 
recipe from here

Hope your weekend was a sweet one!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Momma Style: A Little Dressy

This is one of the first times, since having Bear, that I've gotten semi-dressed up. I must admit it felt pretty good. Yes, I love flats and sweats and all things that come with new mommyhood. But sometimes it's nice to put on a pink skirt and heels and embrace not only being a Mommy, but also being a girl.

 skirt/heels:F21, blouse/purse:thrifted, watch:Kohl's, earrings:Francesca's

 
It was a sunny 80 degree day in Houston today, allowing for bare (white!) legs and peeping toes. Even a dressy blouse is breastfeeding-functional when paired with a nursing tank underneath. Pushing a stroller in four inch heels might not seem practical, but then again neither is staying in pajamas all day (guilty of both).


Happy weekend, friends!

 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Attention, Mommies! Baby & Momma 1-2 Month Must-Haves

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert Momma. I've only been at this gig for ten weeks, so naturally I'm still learning the ropes. I can, however, tell you what items have worked best for us and have been our favorites over the last few months. I stumbled upon several posts like this while pregnant and found them really helpful when registering; hopefully this will help some of you, too!
 
 
 
 
1. Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack- This has been an absolute lifesaver. I started pumping a little over a week ago and the bottles, pump parts, etc. were piling up like crazy on our countertop. It was getting ridiculous, y'all. Something had to be done. I hopped on over to Amazon (the cure-all) and found this bad boy which has made our life lots easier. Just make sure you get the "lawn" size; it holds much more than the regular "grass" rack. Looks really cute on our countertop, too.
2. Nap Nanny- Yes, I know they've been recalled. Yes, we still use ours daily. In fact, this is what Bear sleeps in every single night. It's perfect because he struggles with reflux and the slightly upright position of the Nap Nanny provides more comfortable sleeping for our little guy. You can still locate some on Ebay and craigslist; I would highly recommend tracking one down. Just do your research and use it correctly. Baby will love you for it!



3. Munchkin Steam Guard Microwave Sterilizer- Trust me on this one, you do not want to have to boil water every time you sterilize baby items. Throw everything in, pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes, and you have germ-free bottles/pacis/etc. It's like magic.
4. Booginhead Pacifier Clips- These are the most clever invention ever. Not only are they super cute and come in all different colors and designs, but they also keep baby's pacifier from constantly (and I do mean constantly) hitting the nasty floor. My brother and sister-in-law ordered us four of them and we have used them every day since.
 
5. Chicco Keyfit 30 Travel System in Fuego- Since we've only used this carseat/stroller combo, I can't rightfully compare Chicco to other brands. I can, however, say that we love ours. Love love love it. The stroller rides well and Bear falls asleep the minute we start pushing him. We call it the Sleep Buggy. Make sure to get a second base for Daddy's vehicle, too.
 
6. Summer Infant Mother's Touch Deluxe Infant Baby Bather- I honestly can't say enough good things about this bather. Put it on your registries, ladies! You won't be sorry. Bear has taken all his baths in this and he seems to really enjoy bath time. We set it in our tub and wash him down; he's been using it since the night his umbilical cord came off.
7. Munchkin Arm & Hammer Pacifier Wipes- Just picture this: You're in Target, first official outing with Baby and without Daddy, and things are going smoothly. Dollar Section's got those good Frosted Animal Cookies you love. All of a sudden, Baby exhibits superbaby strength and manages to hoist his pacifier over the side of his carseat. You, being a first-time Mommy and not-so-great-diaper-bag-packer seem to have left all other pacifiers at home. The floor looks nasty. In fact, there's a pile of crumbled animal cookies right by the neglected paci. Oh, but wait, you did remember to pack the handy dandy pacifier wipes! You're saved. Superbaby is happy once again. Nice job, Mom. (this may or may not be based on a true story...)

8. Safety 1st Deluxe Healthcare and Grooming Kit- This was a shower gift that we have absolutely loved. We use the contents daily; from the nail clippers (use while baby's sleeping!) to the thermometer...we've used it all. Added bonus is that it comes in a cute travel bag, great for tossing in the diaper bag on your way out the door. You'll have all Baby's grooming necessities in one handy little bag.

 
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1. Bamboobies Super Soft Washable Nursing Pads- My mother-in-law picked these up in the hospital lactation center; silly me had no idea these things even existed, nor just how badly they'd be needed. This brand is amazing because they're organic, washable, and super soft. Each pack comes with three regular sets and one thicker overnight set, which you'll definitely want.
2. Babymel Satchel- I did a lot of research on diaper bags while expecting and finally decided on the Babymel Satchel. I wanted to make sure Baby and I would not only be out and about in style, but also have plenty of room for everything we need. This bag is the perfect size. I'm also a bit of an organization freak and love how the big front flap opens easily and keeps all my stuff seperate from Bear's (and not milk-crusted). I also really like, and use, the insulated side pocket for bottles.
3. Gillian & O'Malley Side Sling Nursing Cami- I own two of these, one black and one gray. They have been my best friends over the last ten weeks. They're perfect for both around the house and on the go nursing.
 
 
 
4. Cool Gear Chiller-I'm sure you've already heard, but breastfeeding makes you thirsty. Parched. Desperate for H2O at all times. With a cute chiller like this one, you're not only being green but also sure to stay hydrated. Zach can tell you, my "fancy pink cup" never leaves my side.
 
5. Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags- You will quickly find that throwing away breastmilk is not an option. You work hard to pump that milk and would rather dip your Oreos in it as to see it go to waste. Seriously. These storage bags are the perfect fix; rather than junking up your fridge with bottle after bottle of milk and constantly wondering which bottles have gone bad, pour milk into these storage bags and pop them in the freezer. So easy, so efficient. I tried several different brands and these seemed easiest to use.
 
6. Bath & Body Works PocketBac Holder- On our first few outings, I carried around a bottle of Germ-X in a pocket of our diaper bag. Didn't work. I could never find the silly thing when I really needed it. Yes, our diaper bag is organized, but in moments of "omg there's baby poop on my fingers and I really don't want to touch anything" crisis, you'll want one of these handy antibacterial holders on the strap of your diaper bag. Trust me. Plus, they're cute and come in all sorts of fun colors.

 
Other tips:
-Buy two or more Boppy (or other nursing pillow) covers. Baby will spit up, throw up, and all other kinds of "ups" on the pillow and you'll need back-up.
-Bring home the baby socks from the hospital. A-you paid for them, B-they're likely the only socks that'll fit your little one for awhile.
-Lanolin is amazing but will stain your clothes. I learned this the hard way. Remember those bamboobies I told you about? They'll also protect your bras/tops from permanent Lanolin stains.
-Gripe Water works wonders for gassy tummies (doesn't work on husbands though...I tried).
-Gowns are the best sleepwear attire. Zach frowned and called them "dresses" at first but quickly learned that late night diaper changes are much easier without zippers or snaps. Old Navy has really cute, soft gowns in 0-3 months; we looked high and low for gowns in that size and my Mom finally found them there.
-Enjoy every single precious moment.
 
 
Other things we love but I'm too lazy to rant about:
 
 
 
 I hope some of you have found this useful! Please, please comment or email with any questions you have...it's pretty obvious I love to talk all things baby :). Congratulations to all you Mommas-to-be!
 
 
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Last Weekend...

 
Bear enjoyed his changing table & mobile for the first time...
 
Zach scared our sweet, one year old nephew...
 
Aunt Amanda loved on Bear...
 
Zach was, as usual, the best Daddy ever.
(Bear's rockin' his new cap...still a little big but I couldn't resist)
 
Hope you all had a great weekend, too!
 
a couple quick shout-outs...
1. Loving our new blog look, compliments of Sarah Grace at gracefully made. Awhile back I asked you all for recommendations on blog designers; shortly after it hit me that my own friend Sarah does blog design and is super talented. Thank you very much for all your hard work, Sarah! We love it.
 
2. My bff Whitney over at Keeping Up With the Cyperts is hosting an amazing giveaway right now...head over and check it out! It's easy to enter and the ladies helping are some of my favorites.
 
That's all. Happy Hump Day!