Tuesday, May 31, 2011

- our wonderful 3 day weekend and baby fever...maybe? -

We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I "heart" three day weekends! I get so spoiled with three full days together as a family!

We had a lot of intentions of being somewhat productive on the long weekend...getting some workouts in, fixing a few things in Ellie's room, planting a few new plants in the backyard...what really ended up happening though was a lot of just being lazy! Let me re-phrase that...actually, we were relaxing, lounging around, playing outside, and having good food and good fun with our friends. So much for being healthy, active, and productive! I'm not complaining though, it was glorious to be lazy for 3 full days!

We had lots of laughs, good food, and good wine with friends all weekend. On Sunday, I took this shot of my baby girl on the swings at our friend's house.

After looking at it again, I realized my baby girl is not a baby anymore! I mean, look at her, sitting in a big kid's swing, holding on just as she should. Makes me a little a lot sad that she is getting so big, so fast. What happened to the tiny little baby that I could wrap up in a tiny blanket and cuddle with? Ahhh, and there's that baby fever...creeping in! To be totally honest, it's been creeping in more than I have expected it to lately!

But whenever that baby fever starts creeping in so does the apprehension. I mean, Matt and I know we want another baby. Two kids has always been the plan. It's weird though, after having one, how scared I am to have another one. I think the first time around I didn't know what to expect, and I was just so excited. Now, I am seriously remembering how hard Ellie was as a baby, and it kind of intimidates me to think about having another one. We had a very hard time with Ellie for the first 4-5 months between her reflux, and her protein allergies and all of her constant uncomfortableness and crying. Could I really do that all over again?? I know many, many mothers had it worse off than me with their babies. I am thankful and very grateful that all of Ellie's health problems were so minor, and that she completely outgrew them all within the first year. But it was still very difficult, and it wore me out..a lot.

Matt and I also always wonder what having two kids will be like... Ellie is so used to getting all of our attention to herself. She truly is the center of our world! It makes me almost a little sad to know that she won't be my baby anymore, and that she will have to share us with another little one!

But baby fever or no baby fever, I did tell Matt that I don't think I'm going to be ready for round 2 until after this summer. Two summers ago I was pregnant, and last summer I was still dealing with a refluxy baby and I was still breast feeding or pumping all day long! I really just need to enjoy this summer without a baby attached to my body for nourishment, either inside my belly or out! And as a good friend just recently reminded me...we should really take the opportunity to relish this time we have with just the 3 of us, just as Matt and I relished and embraced the time we had back when it was just the 2 of us. Family dynamics always change when you add a child, and we will never have this time back with just Ellie alone! So, we will take a couple vacations this summer, enjoy lots of family and friend time, and then leap back into the unknown and start trying to give Ellie a little brother or a little sister.

P.S.- For any of my followers, you can see that the "nicknames" for Ellie and my husband didn't last too long in my blog! It was just killing me how impersonal it was...and after giving it a lot of serious thought, I decided I am completely comfortable using first names only and sharing only watermarked and copyrighted pictures.

Monday, May 30, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Memorial Day and thank you to everyone who has served our country!

This recipe comes from Nikki over at Pennies on a Platter

Nikki is a cook, a progressing photographer, and the author of an fantastic blog! She is a stay at home mom living in the Southern California desert, married to a pastor, (who is also the love of her life), and mom to the cutest little boy, Judah. Visit her blog to meet her super cute family, and get even more delicious recipes!

Island Pork Tenderloin
2.5 lbs pork tenderloin

For spice rub:
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 – 2 1/2 pound total) trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil

For glaze:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Tabasco

Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Coat pork with spice rub.
Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke. Brown pork, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes total. Remove from heat; leave pork in skillet.

Stir together brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco in a small bowl. Pat the mixture on top of the tenderloins.
Place the skillet in the oven at 350 degrees. Roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of each tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes. Let pork stand in skillet, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes.

(Image credit Pennies on a Platter)

 How good does that sound?? Yummy!! Enjoy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

- pinterest -

Just one more thing for me to become addicted to! Seriously, who thinks of things like Pinterest? It's genius! I love following other people's boards and repinning... I love that I can "pin" ideas that I want to go back to later... I love that I get lost in a tangled web of pins and re-pins...

I hate that this exactly defines it all for me though -

(Image credit Pinterest)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

- the love of my life -

Matt is the love of my life. I don't know any other way to say it, other than that simply. He has made me a better person since meeting him, and he has taught me how amazing love should feel. We are best friends. We are the perfect pair...complimenting each other so well, and picking up where the other may fail a bit. He works so hard to provide for our family and takes so much weight on his shoulders just to make sure Ellie and I have everything we want and need. He supports me and gives me all of the love I could ever want. And...he is the. best. father. ever! He loves Ellie so much! I have fallen in love with him all over again now that we have a daughter.

Sometimes he will stop whatever he is doing, and look me straight in the eyes, and ask me in all sincerity, "Do you still love me after all these years?"  Oh yes babe...I love you EVEN MORE after all these years. I love you so much more than when we started dating...so much more than when we got married....and I loved you A LOT back then!

(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

It's Monday...back to the grind...but I have a great recipe to share with you from Lori Thayer!

Lori Thayer is passionate about finding ways to have the best life, from healthy living, saving money, natural remedies, and enjoying like. She is excited to share these tips with others. Connect with her at LoriThayer.com

I love Lori's blog! It's loaded with great tips for life! Thank you Lori, for sharing this great recipe with us!

Cheeseburger Pie
Pastry crust (9")
1 c sifted flour
1/3 c shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1 pre-prepared pie crust

Mix the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening. Sprinkle with water. Roll out the crust and place it in a 9" pie pan OR to make your life easier, use a pre-prepared pie crust!

1 lb ground beef
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 0z tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup onion

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brown the ground beef and mix in all of the other ingredients. Place in the prepared crust.

Cheese topping
8 oz grated cheese (Lori uses cheddar, but she also suggests feta)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Spread cheese topping over the filling. Bake 30 minutes.
Serve with the remaining tomato sauce (mixed with equal amounts of chili sauce to make it really yummy!)

Note-to improve the nutrition to this dish, add more vegetables to the filling. Another great idea to "hide" vegetables in the dish (if your kids aren't vegetable fans) is to puree cauliflower or squash and mix it into the tomato sauce before adding it to the filling.

(Image credit ifood.tv)

Delicious and kid friendly! Love it! Thanks again Lori!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

- piggie tails -

I love putting Ellie's hair in pigtails! I think it is the cutest thing ever! They don't stay in very well...she has the finest baby hair ever. Usually it's 5-10 minutes max before they are falling out, so I have to be sure to take pictures of her pigtails fast!

My new favorite picture of her!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

- i'm back -

I took my blog down for a couple days to do some soul searching, and to make some tough decisions...specifically regarding my blog. It seemed a little early to already be reconsidering my blog (it's only been up for one month!), but this week, two people we know have had some blog scares. One friend had her entire blog stolen and copied. Someone was using a copy of her blog to make money off of sponsors. The other family had an even scarier situation. They actually had a stranger try to pick up their daughter from her preschool...he learned the daughter's name, the parents' names, and what school she went to all from their blog. Luckily, the preschool had security steps in place and did not let the girl go with the stranger...how scary is that??

Both of these stories (told to us on the same day) freaked me and Matt out, and I decided to take my blog down until we could sort these scares out in our heads.

Here is what it came down to...I love blogging! I have wanted to start a blog for quite awhile now, and I was so happy when I finally took the time to do it! After only a month, I have met some amazing fellow bloggers who have already said the nicest things about my posts. I didn't want to stop blogging. I also didn't want to make my blog private. As much as I blog for my family and friends, I also blog for the other mommy bloggers out there that I have just met, or that I have yet to meet!  I also didn't want to take all of my pictures down, or stop posting anymore pictures of my family. I am fairly new to photography, but I have found that it is something that I absolutely love so much. I am obsessed with everything that has to do with photography, and I yearn to learn more and become better. I want to share the photos I take on my blog. That was a big reason I started blogging.

So, knowing those two things, I had to decide if I wanted to continuing blogging, (knowing that I would not be okay making my blog private, and I would not be okay not posting pictures of my daughter and the rest of my family). Matt supported me and encouraged me to continue. I just couldn't get the thought out of my head...what if my blog led to something scary happening to my family, either on the internet, or in our town? I made the decision that it wasn't worth it, and told Matt  I was done. Then, the next day I talked to my sister, who told me I couldn't live in fear. She told me that as long as I was blogging carefully, there should be no reason I need to stop. Not long after that, one of those friends that had the blog scare talked to me about her situation. She had made the decision not to stop blogging, even after her blog was copied and used for someone else's profit. She told me that if this was something I enjoyed, that I needed to continue. She commented to me how much she was enjoying my blog and encouraged me not to stop.

And so, I'm back!  I will be extra careful never to refer to our last name, and I will also not  be revealing details of where we live or work in any of my posts. That is just information that internet creeps do not need to know!

My photos will also all be watermarked from now on. A little sense of security knowing if someone else does try to use them on their own blogs, websites, etc, my watermark will give credit where credit is due and stop people from claiming they are their own images. And likewise, if I borrow or use images from the web in my posts, I will be sure to credit the images properly, so the correct people are getting credit.

But all in all, after a couple of days of soul searching, I realized I enjoy blogging...a lot. And I don't want to stop. I will be very careful when I blog, to protect my loved ones, but I will not stop blogging...It's a decision that came from the heart...

(Image credit chronophasia)

Have any of you fellow mommy bloggers shared these same concerns when blogging? What have you done to protect your family while still maintaining a personal blog that other people can connect with? I would love to hear other suggestions and tips!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

- when in doubt, she dances -

Ellie loves, loves, loves to dance. She asks us to play music all the time so we can dance together. It's absolutely adorable. She will dance to any music! Anything at all! Our YMCA has dance classes that I was considering putting her in...just not sure how much she will get out of it this young...

Her favorite thing is to dance with Daddy. It's so sweet to watch them dancing around our living room together!

Sweet picture of my two loves, even if I didn't nail the focus...darn prime lenses have such a learning curve!

Most of the time, I try my best satisfy her dancing urge and rock out in the living room with her...but most times she just looks at me and asks for "Dadda"...sigh...I guess mommies can't be the best at everything huh? Dancing in our house falls in the daddy department!

 I'm trying to convince her we are having fun, even though she only wanted to dance with Daddy!

Here is our little dancer in action -

Dancing makes her happy...and that makes me happy! :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Monday everyone!

I have my first guest recipe blogger today! Her recipe sounds amazing! Meet Candis from A House of Beauty

Candis is a married twenty-something, former teen mom to an intelligent, yet feisty eleven year old pre- teen! Her blog,  A House of Beauty, is a mash up of love, family, beauty, fashion, random thoughts, news and all the complexities of learning how to let her ONLY child grow up. She's finding her balance (and the beauty in the everything)...and chronicling her journey! Check out her blog to meet her!

Here is her recipe for a homemade chicken pot pie! This sounds like a perfect meal to make on a Sunday afternoon...with plenty of leftovers for the week!

Chicken Pot Pie
½ onion – diced
2 – 3 stalks of celery (your preference)
about 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter
1 large bag of mixed veggies (you’re only gonna use ½ of it
2 packs of Chicken (I used 2 Rotisserie chickens)
2/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
pepper to taste
3 ½ cups of chicken broth – measure it out…don’t use the whole box
1 1/3 cups of milk

Add about 2 tablespoons of butter to a the hot skillet or pot & sauté the celery & onions until soft and translucent. Add 1 more tablespoon of butter & then throw in half the bag of veggies & cook until they’re no longer frozen Add the chicken and mix it all around. Add the flour, salt and pepper to the chicken/veggie mix…mix it REAL GOOD (this is gonna determine how your broth thickens. In a separate container, mix the chicken broth & milk together…stir it up….then add it to the chicken/veggie mix Stir it like  you’re making gravy….let it sit for a second and then stir it again….continue until it’s gotten as thick as you want it. Be sure to taste it and make sure it’s salted/peppered (that’s probably not a word, LOL) because once you put it in the pie, you won’t be able to alter it. All I needed to do was add a couple shakes of salt and few shakes of pepper and it was perfect! Once you’ve gotten it the way you want it, turn off the heat and let it cool.

Pie Crust
2 ¼ cups of flour¾ teaspoon of salt 
2/3 cup of Crisco (I used actual shortening)
 8 – 10 tablespoons cold water  

In a bowl, stir the flour & salt together. With your fingers, put in the shortening pieces until the flour is in a bunch of balls (pea sized). Add the cold water (a little at a time) to the flour mixture until it’s all moistened. Knead it a little. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it will fit in your casserole dish. **PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 degrees***Add the chicken/veggie broth mixture. Then take the second batch of dough and roll it out just like you did before and make that your top layer. You can use a fork to crimp the edges and seal the two together or you can use your finger (using the fork makes it cuter!) Mix one egg and a little bit of water and using a basting brush, brush the top of the pie and make sure you get the edges. I cut 5 slits on the top of the pie to allow for the release of steam while it’s baking. Put in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. It’s gonna be EXTREMELY hot, so let it cool for a while, but ENJOY!

(Image credit Candis J.)

If any of you lovely reader's have a great recipe for me to feature, please leave your contact information in a comment! I'd love to feature you!

Friday, May 13, 2011

- raising a confident young girl -

Having a little girl, I know that we will be dealing with some issues as she gets older that boys don't necessarily have. I want to raise an amazing, self confident, independent girl.

I want my daughter to know that she is beautiful and amazing no matter what she does. I have made this my mission as she gets older. I can not stress how important this is, especially in this day and age. My parents did their best at this, and I definitely don't have any major self confidence or body image  "issues" by any means, but I'm not going to lie...I definitely don't feel overly confident about my looks, my body, my clothing style, my hair, or even my personality! Some women make these things look so easy and effortless. They make their beauty look easy, their outfits are effortless, their houses are perfectly decorated without looking like they tried too hard. I envy these women...a lot.  I have never been one of these women and I wish I was. I recently stumbled upon a couple of these women here and here (and I hope they take that as a compliment!) They are creative, stylish, very talented, very beautiful, and great mommas. They are always put together! They make it look natural and easy! By getting to know them recently, I am hoping to gain the motivation to start practicing "making it look easy"...to become more comfortable with my looks, my body, my style...to just be me and to exude confidence in being me. Because I know the best way to teach Ellie these things, is to model them myself. I have a long way to go....a LONG way. I'll take it one day at a time.

Because I want this little girl to be grow up being the most self confident girl ever. I want her to always know how amazing she is!

- missing posts -

If I ask really nicely Blogger, will you please pretty please bring back my missing posts? Thank you in advance!

Monday, May 9, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

One of my biggest struggles with juggling work, home, and little miss E is finding the time to cook inexpensive, easy, quick, and somewhat healthy meals during the week. I work M-Th, so on those days, I find it almost impossible to get home and have time to cook as well as watch little miss E until the hubby gets home. (Oh, and forget having time to workout everyday like I used to!) Obviously it's not cheap to just buy take out food every night (although that would be so much easier and make for a much happier momma at our house!), and it's not healthy to eat frozen/processed dinners all week long.

I do my best to find quick recipes (literally 15 minutes or less prep time) with very few ingredients to keep it easy and inexpensive. But, of course, they have to be tasty and somewhat good for you as well! I have quite a few recipes in my collection so far, so I decided to start a weekly series of some quick, yummy recipes geared towards mom and dad's that don't have the time or energy to be gourmet chefs and spend hours in the kitchen anymore! I would love to feature other bloggers and their family friendly recipes too, so feel free to leave me a comment with your email address (or another way to contact you) if you have a recipe you would like me to feature on this series.

This recipe is a favorite around our house....enjoy!

Foil Pack Taco Chicken
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves or  approx 1 lb chicken thighs
4 teaspoons taco seasoning mix
1 cup mexican style shredded cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream (I use "light" to keep it a little healthier)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle chicken evenly with seasoning mix. Place 1 chicken breast or thigh on top of each of four large sheets of heavy-duty foil; top each with 1/4 cup of the cheese and 2 tablespoons of the salsa.Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place in single layer in 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (170 degrees F). Remove packets from oven. Let stand 5 minutes. Place one packet on each of four dinner plates. Cut slits in foil with sharp knife to release steam before opening. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of the sour cream. Serve with spanish rice, beans, or a vegetable. Variation: Add some diced chilies to the chicken packets before cooking to add a little kick

Friday, May 6, 2011

- motherhood -

I had a truly long and not particularly good day at work yesterday. I really like my job and as much as I would love to stay home with Ellie, unfortunately, my job is still a necessity in our household. I don't usually have too many rough days at work, but yesterday was a doozy...

I got home just in time for bathtime, which Ellie loves. It made my day (well, that and a sweet Mother's Day card that was waiting for me in our pile of mail from a good good friend of mine)!

After putting her down for bed, I poured myself a much needed glass of wine, and reflected on how amazing motherhood is. The fact that a tiny human being can immediately erase all of the stressful things that happened in a day, just by looking at me with her sweet face and saying "Momma" truly amazes me. The old cliche is so true...you will never, ever know what this kind of love feels like until you love your own child.

I'm not going to lie...the first few months were extremely hard with all of Ellie's reflux and digestive problems. Matt and I fumbled through those first months blindly and there were moments, late at night, when I hadn't slept in 24 hours, and Ellie had literally cried all day (I'm not exaggerating...she could cry ALL day) when I thought to myself, "What did we do...things were so much easier when it was just the two of us". I mean, our life was not one to complain about before we had Ellie. We had more freedom, we were selfish and lived for ourselves. We traveled all over the world, and went out every weekend, doing whatever we wanted. But the crazy love you get to experience once you have a child is worth the lifestyle change, and worth all of that crying and all of those sleepless nights....it was worth every bit of it! I know every parent says this, but as I am approaching my second Mother's Day, I just have to take some time to reflect, and to say it all again.

I am a stronger person because of Ellie. Motherhood has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I sleep less, I put her needs first, I have learned how to function and be productive with her on my hip, I worry more. But in return, I get to see her learn new things, say new words, discover with such an innocent and sweet wonder. She has learned what makes us laugh, and she does silly things on purpose just to get us to smile or laugh at her. She rewards me for all my sacrifices by calling for me in the morning when she wakes up, or running into my arms when I get home from work.  Her deep belly laugh melts my heart every time I hear it...and I miss her when I am not with her. I am excited to see her every morning when I wake up. She has brought me and Matt closer, in a way I never knew existed. Together, Matt and I have become a team that is conquering the struggles of parenthood one step at a time, and together we are blessed with such an unconditional love. Yes, the "cliche" kind of unconditional love. The kind of love that everyone used to tell us about, and we would politely smile and nod our heads...now, we are those people, and I am loving every minute of it.

In less than a minute, my baby girl had melted away all of the stress and tension that I felt all day yesterday. Less than one minute is all it took. If that's not amazing, I don't know what is.

So, as my second Mother's Day is quickly approaching, all I can say is, Thank you Ellie, for giving me a gift no one else ever could. Thank you for giving me the gift of being a mom. I am so blessed to be your mom!

(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

- ellie goes to the dentist -

So my mom and I took Ellie to the dentist for the first time yesterday. There is a great practice that just opened a few months ago in our neighborhood. After looking at their website, and seeing that it was a husband and wife team who had two young boys, I knew they would know how to deal with a 17 month old. I, of course, requested the wife, since Ellie does not do well with men that she doesn't know. I'll be honest, I was prepared for the worst...because I know my little stinker, and she isn't always the most cooperative kid.

Is this where we are going Momma?

The office was gorgeous. State of the art...brand new...the waiting room had more to do than most daycares! Seriously! Ellie didn't want to leave the waiting room!

Momma, Fish!!

When we met the dentist, I knew I had picked the right office! She was so sweet, and so good with Ellie. Her and her assistant instantly got Ellie's approval, and she immediately started playing cute for them. The dentist talked to me for about 10 minutes or so, and apparently we are doing everything we should be doing for her teeth. I did tell her that Ellie still used a pacifier for naps and during the night, and she did encourage me to wean her from that soon...sigh...I knew that was going to come.

Then she said it was time for the examination...and I braced myself for a disaster. And you know what, Ellie did great!! The dentist took a minute or two to explain to Ellie what she was going to do, and she let Ellie play with a few of her instruments...

She had me do the entire examination with Ellie on my lap, which was perfect and set Ellie at ease. She told me they do exams like that until the child is at least 2 or 3, which is perfect for Ellie. She had me lay Ellie down and started looking at her teeth.

Ummm, Momma, what is she doing?

She counted all of her teeth (grand total of 10, with 4 more popping through right now...oh, that explains all the fussiness...I didn't realize 4 were popping through all at once!). Ellie didn't get her first tooth until really late (almost 12 months old), but the dentist said that with the 4 that were all coming through right now, she was going to be back right on track for her age. She did already notice crowding with the bottom 4 teeth, and told me that it was probably because she was such a petite girl with a petite mouth, just like her mom...sigh, and that means, more than likely needing braces! But honestly, I already expected that. Both the hubby and I needed braces, so we had already assumed Ellie would eventually need them. Other than that, she said Ellie's teeth looked great! Strong enamel, no decay, and perfectly clean! (Surprising, considering Ellie fights me every night when I try to brush her teeth). 

Ellie was rewarded with a stuffed animal and some stickers! (A stuffed animal? Seriously?? When I went to the dentist, I used to get a tiny cheap plastic Cracker Jack toy!!) The dentist then taught her how to do a fist bump (which she loved) and she gave both the dentist and the assistant a farewell kiss (so cute)!

All in all, a great first trip to the dentist!!

With all of her loot from her first trip to the dentist!

Monday, May 2, 2011

- dance like you have ants in your pants -

Ellie's new favorite video! I love it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

- our weekend wrap up -

It was a beautiful weekend! Sunny skies, warm temperatures, and lots of family time! Friday started the weekend off right...I love Fridays...they are my special day with Ellie. We had some quiet time in the house...

Don't bother me Momma, I'm watching Sesame Street

Then, we spent the afternoon playing outside. 

Saturday morning, Ellie's best friend came over to play. One of our neighbors accidentally left this beauty in our front yard...

So the kids took every opportunity to have fun with it, even though their feet didn't even reach the pedals!


Saturday evening we went over to our friend's house for a BBQ, and some more family time!

 Oh Mom, can you put the camera away? It's been out all weekend!

Sunday was amazingly warm, and beautiful, and we spent the day by the bay with Ellie's best friend and his parents...our wonderful friends. Not a bad way to spend a weekend. Now it's back to the grind, back to work...with fond memories of such a simple weekend filled with my perfect little family and great friends!

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