Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Shoeless Halloween

This is our first time to actually celebrate Halloween with Grace, as last year was just days before we left on our big trip to Turkey and no one was doing anything in our little town anyways.

We never celebrated Halloween when I was growing up. Something about a traumatic experience when I was five, answering the door to give out candy only to find a mummy right in front of me. I'm not sure they were able to get me out of my room for the rest of the night. And from then on, whenever we asked why we didn't celebrate, usually at the dinner table, my dad would make us go get the "H" encyclopedia and read, out loud, the history of Halloween.

And all I wanted was the candy.

Thanks, Dad, for an excellent education on celtic traditions.

Grace went as a bee to a "Hallelujah" party that our church threw at a local park. Sophia went as a newborn, because she is cute enough already. And also because Ian vetoed my idea for a Vampire/Dracula onesie that read "I want to drink your milk." Something about it being classless. Whatever.

We had a late start due to a nap that went long. Because of said late start, we forgot some of our necessities. Like a diaper bag. And Grace's diapers. Oh, and her shoes too.

We finally arrived though and just accepted the fact that Grace would have Wal-Mart feet and look like a hillbilly for the night.

Who ever heard of a bee that wore shoes anyways?

 Yes, she has a bow/headband on top of her bee hat. There was no strap so I had to get creative with how to keep it on her head.

 There was a pretty good turn out and the weather was gorgeous!

 I, personally, really enjoyed watching my little bumblebee wander around the park. She wore her costume all night and didn't mess with it!

 Be still my heart- my husband taking care of our girls is one of my favorite sights in the world! I bet he never guessed, not in a million years, that he would be a dad to two little girls, but here he is! And he's wonderful with them!

We made it all the way to the end of the party before we were regretting not having our diaper bag.

Just to let you know, Grace can fit into newborn sized diapers. If you use the word "fit" very loosely. Which the diaper was not at all. Loose that is.

And, if Grace gets ringworm from being shoeless all night, so be it.

At least she got to celebrate as a very adorable bee!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Well, It's Pretty Short

I woke up this morning and decided to cut my hair. On my own.

If only the story was as simple as that.

I haven't gotten a haircut in over two years. Occasionally I have trimmed my own ends (curly hair is pretty forgiving,) but my layers had all grown out and the back was uneven. And the length? Ridiculously long.

And with curly hair, you must strike a balance between being too short, when your hair would poof out into something resembling an afro and being too long, with the weight making your curls loose their bounce.

So about a week ago I decided to strike out and find a salon. All I found were countless recommendations to go to fancy hotel spas that charge over 100 dollars for a haircut. And that is not really in the budget for us.

Then I found a hair stylist who was cutting hair in her home and after getting over my fear that she was a murderer (after all, all the people recommending her had made it out alive,) I left a message to schedule an appointment, but she never got back to me.

Last night, before heading to bed, I told Ian that today would be haircut day, and that he would be my hairstylist.

So, that is exactly what we did. Both girls went down for a nap and Ian came in to cut my hair. I made the first cut though, to give him a guideline of where to start, and I cut off about 4 inches. I probably should have only cut off 3. We carried on though, with Ian cutting the bottom, middle, and top layer and then me taking over to do the angled pieces around my face.

It looks good, but it is SHORT.

You know when Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables dyes her hair and then has to get it cut off to save it. Yeah. My hair is that short.

I haven't had it this short since I was in the 11th grade. In fact, before we cut my hair I told Ian that I didn't want to get it cut too short because my 11th grade cut  was highly unattractive. His only response was, "Yeah, it did not look good!"

Thanks honey.

I guess I'm glad he's honest?

He likes the new cut though, so that is a positive out of this whole thing.

I'll like it in a day or two, when my curls relax and I gain another half inch or so.

Until then, I'll take solace in the fact that if Anne Shirley survived, so can I.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Home Tour: Grace's Room

Grace's room is the same decor as her nursery, only in a much larger space and less furniture. The twin bed from her first room is now our guest bed and she does not have a wardrobe in this room.

She does, however, have her own bathroom. Naturally.

The view when walking into her room- bathroom straight ahead and bedroom through the archway.

Busy Grace playing with her toys in her bathroom. I love that I don't have to completely remove her bath toys now, as they can stay in the bathtub after she's done. We only had one bathroom in the last house but we have 4 full and 2 halves in this house. It's a bit ridiculous.
The view looking into her room. The carpet is too small for the space but we make it work. Plus, we really aren't upstairs very much.

On the wall to your right, when you walk in is Grace's changing table/dresser. In the corner are her blankets and stuffed animals. I really loath stuffed animals. I am highly aware of how bad they are for allergy sufferers and I also know how quickly the collection can get out of control. True story.

Another true story? That mirror is actually too high for me to see in, but Ian had drilled the holes too high and if we lowered it then the holes could be seen. Oh well, at least my tall husband can use this mirror.
Grace's beautiful crib, bedding, and artwork. This is one of my happy places in he house.

These two bookcases are nice, but are awkwardly deep. In the future I won't use them for books, but only for bins of toys that can' slide back in there.

Toys and her artwork, including her name sign from Emily!

Grace loves looking out her window and watching the propane tank trucks drive by. They honk their horns continuously to let people know they are nearby in case you need a tank refill. Grace likes to yell "Beep, beep!" when they drive by and says "Night, night," to them (even if they aren't there,) at naptime and bedtime. I'd like to get the single layer, five slot book case that matches these to work as a window seat one day. I'd love the extra toy storage for when the girls share a room in the future.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sickie Sunday

We had a pretty low key weekend here in the Galloway house.

Friday (church day here in the Middle East,) I got both girls ready for church and go a meal in the crock pot but wasn't able to get myself completely ready by the time it was time to leave. I had myself a good cry and told Ian to take Grace and go without me. I think that might be the first time, ever, that I sent him to church without me!

The rest of Friday and Saturday were spent at home, playing with Grace, taking care of Sophia, and getting some laundry done.

Saturday night a friend of mine called me up to see if I would go with her shopping for some house decorations at a local souq (market.) I took he opportunity for a girls' night out and brought Sophia along with me so that I would not be rushed to get back. We had a great time and I go home with just enough time to get Sophia fed and asleep for the night before he big rival game between U of F (my team,) and UGA (Ian's team.)

The game started at 11:30 pm, our time, and by then I was starting to feel really horribly. My stomach was upset and I was fearing food poisoning from my Fettuccini Alfredo at dinner. I watched about 15 minutes of the game before throwing in the towel and collapsing in bed.

Good thing I didn't stay up to watch my team get beaten. That would have been depressing.

I woke up at 6 am very disoriented, because Ian had never brought Sophia to me to feed her in the night. I ran downstairs only to find Ian asleep on the couch and Sophia asleep in her pack n play. Poor baby wasn't feeling too great either and spent the majority of the day sleeping off whatever cold bug we had picked up.

And I did the same. My sweet husband even ran errands with Grace today so that I could have some quiet (my head was pounding,) and hopefully get some extra sleep. And he brought me back a frosty- what more could a girl ask for?

And, some closing random thoughts:

You know you are old when...

  • You are afraid to do a somersault for your daughter. I was so worried about it hurting! Finally I did and Grace got such a kick out of it. I called Ian in to do one as well but he did his all cockeyed- over his shoulder like a ninja roll. So weird.

  • Your daughter owns a pair of light up tennis shoes. That either means I'm old, or redneck. I'm not sure which one yet.

  • You get excited about finding a free episode of Reading Rainbow from 1983 (seriously.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

{Freezer Meal} Lasagna

I love lasagna, but it is a little daunting to make.

Because of that, I have never made it.

That, and the fact that I have a deep love for store bought, frozen lasagna. Don't ask.

That is, until about a month ago, when I finally spotted ricotta cheese in a grocery store. Ian was able to track down some sausage too, meaning I had the ingredients to finally try my hand at making lasagna.

And to add pressure to my first lasagna experience, we were having dinner guests. AND I was doubling the recipe so that I could freeze it.

I found a recipe, over at Annie's Eats that seemed relatively simple. I won't bore you with instruction and pictures, since her recipe is beautifully written and illustrated.

I love the taste of this lasagna and the simplicity of the instructions. When doubling the recipe, be careful on your noodles in he pot, as you don't want to crowd them and they tend to stick together. I also realized I like a little more cheese than what the recipe called for- I would probably use 4 cups of mozzarella cheese per recipe.

To double and freeze:
1.) Double the recipe.
2.) Cook portion intended for freezer for at least 30 minutes (because of the raw egg.)
3.) Allow to cool completely
4.) Cover and freeze

Pretty easy and I can't wait to have our second portion of this recipe!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bye-Bye Baby Weight- The Meltoff

Baby weight. That annoying tire that sits around your now saggy belly after you are holding your precious bundle in your arms.

For anyone that has had a baby, you know just what I mean. And for those of you who haven't, I'm here to satisfy your curiosity with how hat baby weight can come off (or if it can't!)

I want to be really honest with you here. I put on over 35 pounds with this pregnancy. Too much for most women, and too much for me as well. I was baffled because, though I didn't exercise, I really had watched what I was eating and never used the "eating for two" excuse.

My doctor very graciously reviewed my charts from both pregnancies though and saw that I put on the same amount of weight at the same points- almost down to the same amounts each week in each pregnancy.

He explained that pregnancy weight gain is a hormonal thing for many, even when you control exercise and food intake, and that I would probably put on the same amount with subsequent pregnancies. (but he also added in that I could put on MUCH more if I wasn't careful with what I ate. It's not all hormones or genetics!)

As the end of my pregnancy with Sophia drew near, all I could think of was being thinner again. I hadn't worried about it much after Grace, because I knew that we would be trying again soon. I exercised and ate okay but I didn't step on a scale until I was back for my first prenatal appointment with baby #2. I was surprised to find out that I had, without really trying, gotten back to my pre pregnancy weight. I hope that can happen again this time, but I am prepared for a little more work put into it.

I affectionately call the first four weeks after I have a baby "the melt off" period, because that is what happens to all of that baby weight- it falls right off of you!

There is the normal 10+ pounds from just delivering your baby and all of the other, um, fluids that come with it.

You come home from the hospital and it's not like how you pictured it at all- your belly is saggy and still quite big, your ankles are massively swollen, and your face is pale and pastey. At least, that's how it was with me. I even have a picture, right after we walked in the door with Grace when I was giving her her first diaper change at home, but I still look 5 months pregnant. I hate that picture. And I hate that I hate that picture.

Then, in the days that come, you lose several ounces of blood and, if you are like me, LOTS of water weight. I didn't mean to with Grace, but as soon as I gave birth I started drinking a ton of water, and had the frequent bathroom trips to prove it! It really helped flush out my system and get the swelling to go down quicker.

This time around, with Sophia, I made sure to always have water nearby to sip on, trying to down 6-8 ounces during a nursing session, and to take a sip or two in between.

The first weeks are so busy and so tiring, you miss meals even when you don't mean to. You are constantly on the move unless you are tied down to a chair, nursing every 2-3 hours, which is especially true with baby number 2!

I watched diligently this time as the number on the scale dropped lower and lower. I didn't want to put any unnecessary pressure on myself yet to lose weight- I knew it would happen for a little bit by itself. I chose not to start working out until the one month postpartum mark and worked hard at getting in 5-6 smaller meals a day, since my appetite was really suppressed. 

I'm really excited to see how I can do this time around, getting back to a healthy weight and getting back into shape. My goals are simple:
1.) Be back down to pre pregnancy weight, meaning I will need to lose 35-40 pounds
2.) Smooth out some problem areas that got loose, particularly my lower stomach and thighs.
3.) Be able to fit and feel good about myself in a pair of shorts by the time we go to the States next summer (I don't even own a pair of shorts right now!)

I was going to share all of my measurements and stats but decided to wait until I could show some improvements. The one I will share is my weight loss.

Now, at four weeks postpartum, here are my stats:

Weight loss: 25 pounds

Can't wait to see how I do and the progress my body makes!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Three Weeks, Sophia!

I can't believe we are just days away from the big One Month! This three week update is about 6 days late, but I'm taking the "better late than never," philosophy with child number two, because I have heard of how often things slip completely with the second! At least it is getting done at all!

I am also coming to terms with the fact that I don't have as much time for portraits with Sophia like I did with Grace. Not to mention the fact that she has never EVER had a newborn sleepy day like you think of newborns having. I blame that on the gas.

Clothes: She wears size one diapers and is in newborn clothes. I really wanted to put her in a gown (is that what they are called? a nightgown for newborns, ha!) but when I dug through our clothe bins I found them in the 3-6 month bin, which was odd. The size said 0-6 months but when I held it up to Sophia she would have been drown in all of that fabric. Too big!

Sophia always seems to get her foot out of her pajamas or pants- or get it stuck in awkward positions!
Food: Sophia is a nursing champ. She's getting more efficient and, by the end of this week, she could nurse for 12-15 minutes per side and be finished. Of course, she never really wants to be done, unless she falls asleep on the job!

Sleep: Her sleep schedule was erratic at best. Some days were good, some days were not. Honestly, I know a big part of the problem is that I have been just sleeping until I have to get up, instead of setting a start time for our day. I know that will help get her sleep more organized into a pattern.

She sleeps in her pack n play in the family room during the day, and at night she sleeps in her crib in her room, unless she wakes up and starts crying, at which point one of us will take her down to the family room so that Grace is not woken up. We are going to have to bite the bullet and get over this soon though, because otherwise she'll never sleep for longer chunks!

a behind the scenes outtake- Sophia all posed for her pictures, Grace on the floor getting her diaper changed, and Ian being super dad!
*Thanks for all of your gassy baby advice! I cut out milk and we are giving her gas drops around the clock and it's starting to help. I'm also finally able to bicycle her legs- before she was so stiff and balled up, it made it difficult.
*She still hates to get her diaper wet/dirty!
*Sophia seems to like music and has enjoyed having her Mimi around to sing to her!
*Sophia's Mimi went home on Thursday after 3 wonderful weeks of being together. It was so special and SO helpful to have her around as an extra pair of hands during those first days!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Made With Love: Play Quilt

Over four years ago I began making a quilt. I believe it started out as a rainy day, bored out of my mind kind of project. I went into a craft store and came out with a bundle of pre cut, color coordinated fabric squares.

I'm sure there is a name for this, but I am just not that sewing savvy.

That should tell you a little bit about where this story is going.

I wanted it to be usable as either a toddler bed quilt or a play mat.

I got all of the pieces layed out and sewn together in strips. Never mind the fact that I didn't measure or iron as I went along. OR know how big a toddler bed was.

Then, I got a teaching job, and the project was put on the way side. Then, I lost my teaching job, and I was too bummed to do much of anything. Then we decided to move overseas, so all of my things were packed up. This was in the spring of 2009.

I didn't pack the quilt though. I gave it to my mom and said something to the effect of "if you ever get bored and want to finish this, be my guest."

Never mind the fact that she started on a quilt when I was born and it has never been finished.

Imagine my surprise when my parents shipped a care package lately and I opened it to find the finished product:

I love the colors! And it looks so much better than if I had finished it. Quilting would have to be renamed as "fabric butchering."

My Grandma finished the quilt for me and was able to mend many of my mistakes. I love having one of her many pieces of handiwork on display in my house. My grandma is one of the mos active and energetic ladies that I know. She's put much love and devotion into the raising of her three kids by herself and is a role model to me for how Godly women should work hard and follow Him.

Thank you, Grandma! What a special quilt and present for the girls to enjoy! I love you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Home Tour: Sophia's Room

AKA- Nursery Reveal

I love Sophia's room- L-O-V-E it.

I don't like bright and bold color schemes in a nursery, for many reasons, but the main one is the psychology behind bright colors in children's room creates a stimulating environment that produces undesirable emotions/energy (for instance, the color red in a preschool room has been shown to create an elevated amount of anger or a yellow room creates excess energy.) I know it sounds cooky, but in all my work with kids I have seen that this is true and I totally believe that a nursery should be a soothing environment that promotes relaxation and calmness, for both baby and momma!

That doesn't mean that I don't add splashes of bright color for contrast and interest, and for visual stimulation, but it means that out of the walls, curtains, bedding, ar, and accessories, only pieces should be bright.

Grace's nursery was neural wall color with a pale pink and lavender scheme. Really, it was supposed to be just pale pink, but by the time the bedding got here from the States I realized that the picture online wasn't true to its color and it had a hint of lavender in it, so I ran with it.

Sophia's room has the same neural paint that the rest of the house has- sometimes it looks like a light tan or cream and sometimes it looks like it has a hint of peach in it. I chose to go with a yellow color scheme but wanted it to just be in touches instead of all over the place.

The view into Sophia's room, straight ahead, with Grace's door to her room to the right.

The name sign I made for Sophia's room. I decided to go with a giraffe theme way back in February. My reason being that I had chosen an animal for Grace, a rabbit, and the animal for baby #2 was going to be an elephant but I had decided that in case it was a girl, I wanted to chose a more feminine animal, ha! So, giraffe it was.

The wall on the right, when you walk into the room has her dresser (an old pine dresser that we had refinished and I put new knobs on it,)  which acts as her changing table also. The prints above the dresser are from the same artist that did Grace's artwork- I love them! So whimsical and the colors are so beautiful! The baskets hold diapers and a container of wipes. I forgot to take a picture of the detail work, but the front of the woven baskets have yellow buttons in a row right below the handle.

The wall straight across from the door when you walk in has a huge window. If we had been able to/wanted to, I would have put a rocker/glider in the corner to the right. We chose not to this time though since this house is so spread out. We didn't feel like I would be able to come upstairs to nurse very often.

The detail work on the lampshade. Yes, I hot glued all of those buttons in between contractions! I had to get her nursery finished!

The wall to the left when you walk in the door is where her crib is. I really like her crib but am disappointed in the bedding I was able to find over here. I couldn't find a bumper or crib skirt that I liked at all and the sheet isn't really what I wanted either. Boo.

I did the arrangement above her bed. It's alright, but I'm not crazy about it either. I'll mess around with the papers another time. The orange seems really out of place to me.

And yes, the mattress is all wonky. Sophia has a cold so her mattress is elevated on the right side to help with her breathing and drainage.

The crib sheet is from PBKids and I really like it, but it's just not the one I was hoping to get.

This is directly besides the door, just some floating shelves with knick knacks and our awesome baby monitor.

The sign says "How beautiful are the feet that bring good news." and has Grace's footprints.

To the right of the shelves is the entrance to her closet space. We are supposed to put a wardrobe in there but don't really have a need for it right now. So, here's the brutal truth of what this area looks like- piles of things to be thrown away, donated, stored, or used!

Sophia's room has a bathroom (because every newborn needs their privacy?)

So, we naturally use it for some excellent storage. Next to the toilet (unused toilet,) is our collection of infant toys.

In the sink are our children's medicines and soap products- the bathroom door is kept closed and Grace can not reach the sink yet.

And, behind shower curtain number 3?

Oh, just our storage system for the girls' clothes! Because I'm sure you were curious about how it is all stored!

The room isn't exactly how I pictured it, but, to be fair, I didn't start on it until I was 36 weeks pregnant! Plus, knowing that the girls probably will be sharing a room in less than a year meant that I was buying with that in mind. The girls room will use Sophia's dresser and crib, Grace's book cases (a dark black-brown,) Grace will be in a big bed, and probably be a combo of pink and yellow.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baby Brain and Miscellany Monday

 I officially have baby brain. I can't think, I can't process, I can't form words. It's taking me twice the time o get sentences out and you don' even want to know how many times I will have o stop and ask Ian for a word that I can't remember. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes trying to recall the word "character," and then that wasn't even the word I wanted, but a synonym close to that. Bless Ian's heart for being my walking Thesaurus right now.

I'm also unable to recall conversations I had with people or emails I read. Ian asked me about an email that I had read out loud to him a couple of weeks ago and I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about! I know this post pregnancy baby brain is pretty normal, but I don't remember ever having it like this with Grace!
  • We had a crazy Monday overall. we had to drive to hours away to go to the doctor, only for the appointment have been a complete waste of time. We did get Grace and my visas (finally,) which means that 3 out of 4 of us are legitimately living here! Now to begin Sophia's passport/birth certificate/visa process.
  •  Speaking of Sophia and her birth certificate...I mourned the fact tonight that both of my girls may possibly not be able to be president if they so desired. I know that may sound silly, and I know it is over 3 decades away, but I would like my kids to have the option if they wanted. Turns out, the law isn't clear about whether a child, born to two US citizens, but born abroad, is considered a "natural citizen," which is a prerequisite for being president of our great country. What a shame! All of those kids born to soldiers stationed all around the world may not be eligible either. That seems like it would be a given, but it's not. Unfortunately, there has never been a case in the past, so the law/court/government hasn't had to really rule on it. Maybe one day girls, maybe one day.
  • We're finally running our budget off of cash only (except our bills that we have to pay online, of course.) I've been attempting to run my groceries off of cash for about 2 months now, but without much success. Those impulse buys and forgotten items off of my list always pushed me above and beyond the cash I had in hand. today I was able to stay under my budget (yay!) but was wondering if anyone has any Cash Only budget planning tips? I'd love to hear them!
  • Grace has a new love for strawberries. So much so, that she even says a word for strawberry. Only thing is, it does not sound a thing like strawberry. She says "Chig-a-ba!" and nods her head enthusiastically. She uses it every time, so she obviously has connected that made up word with the meaning of strawberry. Funny girl!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Honor of Servanthood

I've recently been drawn back into watching the television series "Downton Abbey." If you haven't seen it, a brief synopsis would be that it is a show about an aristocratic family, set in England, during the 1910's and 1920's. The show, however, focuses greatly on how the hired help functions and how their lives intersect with their employers'.

Before seeing this show, I hadn't put much thought into the servants of the elite class. I especially hadn't thought about how these servants were considered respectable because of their job placement. I suppose I had always equivilated servanthood with slavery- lowest class citizens in work related bondage, only they were slightly compensated.

The show paints a much different version of this situation though. It shows that these elite families, living in heir palatial houses with dozens of servants, owning hundreds of acres of land, and being well established in the community, were often the main employers for whole towns and villages. To become an employee as a chauffeur, footman, valet, or ladies' maid showed aptitude, training, and earned the servant a certain amount of respect from the community in general, both lower/middle class and the upper rung of society.

All of this has lead me to think on servanthood and our call to be like servants. So often I forget that there is indeed honor in servanthood. Not everyone can be the president of a company or the organizer of an event. There are always underlings who are quietly working away at a task at hand, going away without much thanks, never knowing if they are making a difference. Their position, and all that it entails may not be as glamorous, fashionable, or desirable as others, but hard work has been put in to becoming who they are and that, in and of itself is honorable.

We face the choice to be a servant every day,
as a wife,

and in our relationship with God.

Our call to servanthood plays itself out again and again in the Bible, with over 700 references to servants and the story surrounding their masters and their actions. Often the servants go unnamed but their story and the impact of their work has been captured for all of history to see.

When it comes down to it, whether or not our reputation as a servant is honorable or not, all depends on the quality of work and the way in which we conduct ourselves in our work.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Play Kitchen

 Ian's mom and dad wanted to buy the girls a Christmas present a little early while she was here. Shipping costs are so high that people often spend as much or more on the mailing of a package as what is actually inside the package. Plus, they were wanting to get something bigger that they couldn't possibly mail anyways.

We considered a sand and water table but, in the end, I decided that it requires more supervision than I think is possible at this house. I was torn between a play kitchen or a cozy coupe play car or a wagon. Ian's mom was really interested in getting the girls a kitchen, so we pursued that. Every kitchen we liked at toy stores ended up being out of stock, until, finally, we found one that seemed durable and not very garish.

Ian put it together one morning and then we brought Grace down to see it. Please excuse Grace's bed head!

Grace, being brought down from nap time. And apparently Ian has a bad case of bed head too.
 She spots the kitchen....
 And makes a dash for it....
 Almost there!
 She made it!
 Checking things out....
 Spotting momma for the first time....
 Daddy teaching her how to "wash her hands."
 I  think she likes it!

We're putting it away for now until Christmas time and I am already looking forward to her reaction to seeing it again under the tree. She has just entered imaginative play phase and is starting to really pretend alot more, so in another two months I think she'll make great use of the kitchen!