Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 12/27

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I needed to take a little break from any type of regular posting while I spent time with my family and prepared for Christmas. Though we're still busy, I wanted to pop on and do Menu Plan Monday again. I can assure you that we've been eating the past few weeks, I just didn't take the time to write down what it was we ate! :)

When my mom left to go back to MD after Christmas, my brother decided to stay here with us until Thursday. I take special requests when we have guests, so my menu includes a few special things I don't make too often (because fun meals get pricey!) I am excited for the opportunity to cook a few 'fun' things, because I sure do love to cook!

So once again, I am linking up with Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday: French toast/ home fries after church, Homemade pizza (with leftover homemade sauce) for dinner
Monday: My version of a dish I had at Robin Alexander when Joe and Abigail took us out to eat there; I think it was called 'Black and Blue." I toss farfalle with balsamic marinated, blackened steak strips, sauted onions, roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh spinach. Then I make a Parmesan and blue cheese white wine cream sauce to go over the whole thing. Yum!
Tuesday: Roasted tomato soup with veggies, beans, and pasta. Filling, healthy, easy, and cheap!
Wednesday: Lime marinated flank steak fajitas with grilled peppers and onions, guacamole, homemade refried beans and lime-cilantro rice.
Thursday: Edamame, onion, and broccoli stir fry served over brown rice. Teriyaki tilapia on the side.
Friday: Manestra (Greek style orzo) with sauted garlic green beans
Saturday: Bean and rice enchiladas

We're planning on doing beans and rice for lunches again, something I got out of the habit of during this busy season. That doesn't really make much sense, since eating the beans and rice takes very little prep, but it does require forethought since the beans take about 12 hours to cook. I also have some bread leftover from the French toast on Sunday that I'd like to use up before it goes stale, so I might make some tuna for lunch one day.

Just about all of the leftovers from the big meal I made on Christmas Eve are already gone, so that's why they're not included in this menu. While we all loved it, Abel in particular has been chowing down on my leek/mushroom/provolone/spinach stuffing! I'm so thankful he is such a good eater!

I'll post Christmas pictures soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Sharing A Car

As most of you know, I was in a car accident a few weeks ago (I was driven into while stopped at a red light) and my car was totaled. For about 2 weeks, we had a rental that their insurance paid for. Reed and I put a lot of miles on the car while we had it, traveling to both Tennessee and Maryland. It was wonderful to have such a nice car, a 2011, even if it was just for a few weeks! Reed liked to joke that we would have a 2011 car like that for sure... in about 12 years. The rental place is just up the road from us, and I wave to the car when we pass. :) We miss you, nice car!

So now, we're sharing a car. We've decided that since I am home full time it would be the wisest decision. They did give us more money for my totaled car (Snow White) then we thought they would, but still not really enough to buy something that will last. So, we've stuck the money away into savings for when Reed's car (Elmo) decides to bite the dust.

When Reed and I were first married, we shared a car for over a year. Then, we were both taking classes on campus, and worked three jobs between the two of us. So most days, there were five places the two of us needed to be. Reed would walk to Starbucks after school, and sometimes would wait hours after work until I could come pick him up. Or he would have an early class, and I would take a nap in the car since school didn't start for me until later in the day. It was crazy! It felt like we never had any downtime at home.

But now, while we still work three jobs between the two of us (though they're different than they were then) Reed is the only one who needs the car. I am fortunate enough to be making money from home babysitting, and Reed's other job is within walking distance to our house! (Can I tell you how much I love living across the parking lot from the church?!) While it does take some shuffling for things like groceries, it's not that big of a deal.

I'm actually finding that the more time I spend at home, the less I want to leave! That feeling may be exaggerated due to the ridiculous cold, but I honestly just love spending time at home, particulalry with my boys. And I sure am staying on top of chores (okay, most chores!) more than ever before. That is a perk for sure!

The biggest downside is that Elmo the car is only a 2 door. That means that when we get Abel into his car seat, we have to climb into the back with him, hoist him into his seat, then climb back out. It is pretty pesky, and makes Abel angry. Because of that, I am leaving him home with Reed when I go shopping instead of all of us going out, or Abel and I going while Reed's working. I hate that! I love my little travel buddy, and it really breaks my heart to leave him at home!

I am so very thankful that we were a two car family to begin with, and that we have jobs that allow us to share one car. I'm also thankful that we did get a nice chunk of money from the insurance company. But I am most thankful that Abel and I are okay! I want to remember, particulalry when something like this happens, that it is purposeful. God knew it was coming, and He allowed it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Abel's Daddy

Abel (10 days) and Reed

My heart is filled with such joy to know that Abel will call such a wonderful man 'Dad.' Reed finds so much pleasure in being Abel's father, and he truly delights in his son.

Taking a nap together

Reed changes Abel into his PJ's every night, then reads him a Bible story and prays with him before bed. One night, while Reed was changing Abel, he calls me into the room. "Toni! I was putting on Abel's sleeper, and look what I found!!" I looked Abel over quickly, and found nothing. "I found the cutest baby EVER, " Reed beams. He says things like that a lot. :)

Staring at each other

I love to see Reed treasure the little things. He often just stands and watches the baby crawl around, giggles when he giggles, gets a huge grin on his face while watching Abel act silly. By Reed's reaction, you'd have thought that Abel won a gold metal the day he learned to clap. Reed really appreciates the day to day with Abel, which shouldn't surprise me since that's the kind of guy he is.

My handsome boys <3

He is quick to spend time with Abel as soon as he gets home from work. He reschedules plans to accommodate baby without complaining. He wears him in a girly sling, and loves Abel's cloth diapers so much, he even knows the particular way to clean them. And checks on me to make sure I'm doing it right :)

Camping together

Abel began teething again the other day, and was particulalry fussy the other night. He woke up at 3AM and screamed until 5, no matter what we did. Finally, at 5, Reed decided to take him into the living room to play, so that I could get a little sleep before Chase came over. When I woke up at 6:30, I found my boys passed out on the living room floor together.

Both boys, totally asleep on the living room floor.

I am so thankful that my husband is such a wonderful father, and that he loves children like he does. He is a wonderful example (for Abel and myself), has a servant's heart, and truly demonstrates his love to us everyday!

Picking Abel's first pumpkin

I really appreciate and love you, Reed!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Picking Abel's First Christmas Tree!

On our way home from a super quick visit up to MD to see my grandparents, we picked up our Christmas tree! I wanted to start a new tradition and cut it down ourselves this year, but we wouldn't have had time to do that until next Sunday, and I thought it was more important to already be enjoying it :) We went to the same little lot we went to last year, but this year Abel joined us!

Silly Mama makes Abel smile. I didn't know I was in the picture :)

We always buy a real tree, because that's what I had growing up. I'm a little crazy about it. I apologize in advance if you have a fake tree, and I glare at it when I visit your house. And then take pity on your poor children. :)

It was super cold out, so we had to wrap up in a blanket!

Can't wait to finish decorating our tree! I am just about done, but I also have to unpack from our trip this weekend. I better go work on that while the boys are napping! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Favorite Baby Things (part 1)

Now that my little guy is almost a year old, I thought I'd write about the baby gear I loved the most this year. I am pretty picky about what things earn a place in my home- I hate wasting money on things that will just waste space. Partially because of this mindset and partly because we already had a lot of the *big* stuff, we didn't even register for Abel's baby showers.

So here is the first half of my Top Ten list of first year necessities, in no particular order:

Single Diaper - Cool Blue
This is by far my favorite cloth diaper (though I do also like the BumGenius One Size). I wrote a whole post about Smartipants that you can read here. While originally we were intimidated by using cloth and chose to use them to save money, we sure love them now! We haven't bought a disposable since Abel first fit into these- a little late at about 2 months old since he was so small.

Abel's Babylegs are peeking out underneath him

A mom invented this next favorite product of mine when she wanted to give her daughter some diaper free time to clear up a rash, but wanted to keep her legs warm. We do use them for that, but I also love them because they make diaper changes easier (no pants to take off) which is particularly useful when changing him in the back seat on road trips. Also, since Abel is small but his cloth diaper butt is big, it's hard to find pants that fit him right. But Babylegs fit just right! They come in lots of cute patterns and colors, and the ones for girls are even cuter!

The Big Picture Story Bible jesus-storybook-bible.jpg

Before Abel was born, Reed nearly finished reading him the Jesus Storybook Bible. He would have finished if Abel hadn't come early. Sine he was born, Reed has read both of these through to him more than once, with a story every night before bed. These are our go-to gifts for baby showers. If you know me and have had a baby in the past 2 years or so, chances are you have one of these from us!
We love the subtitle of the Jesus Storybook Bible: Where Every Story Whispers His Name. How true that is! Alongside wonderful illustrations, this book does a great job of telling the one complete story of how God redeems His people, unlike most story Bibles which make the Bible seem like many unrelated stories. It speaks to parent and child alike. I've cried every time I've read the story of Abraham and Isaac.
The big Picture Story Bible is for younger children, and has much less text on the page than the first Bible (though we read both to Abel because we want him to be use to sitting and listening, even if he doesn't understand). This Bible also, as it's name suggests, portrays God's 'Big Picture' of His work in the world. It's name has a double meaning, as the 'big pictures' in the Bible are great to look at for little ones. Reed and I appreciate how much of the Biblical accounts are captured in the pictures, even though the text on each page is simple.

4. Baby Slings- Moby, Maya, Ergo

Abel and I with the Moby, first time leaving the house after delivery

Me, pregnant with Abel, holding my cousin's baby Jacob in the Maya ring sling.

Daddy with Abel in the Ergo while we were camping.

I LOVE slings! Abel was born in the winter, and carrying him in one was the easiest way to keep him warm and keep strangers from touching him! I can count on one hand the number of times I've used Abel's car seat as a carrier or used a stroller. (I still sling him while we're out.) These three slings are my favorite, and each truly has a different function.
The Moby is the coziest, and is my preference for a newborn or for when you want to wear any age baby for a long time. It can get hot, and it's hard to put on, but was perfect for Abel in his first few months of life. I would put it on at home so I wouldn't get it dirty in a parking lot , and then pop him in and out of it as I ran errands or if someone at church wanted to hold him.
The Maya is easy and fast to put on (once you learn the tricks), and can also be cozy for a newborn. I also liked that there is a zippered pouch in the tail for my phone and keys. The tail can also act as a nursing cover. While running errands, even now, it's easy to pop Abel in a hip carry and go, without having to put it on at home. The downside though, is that it only goes over one shoulder and so it gets uncomfy for long periods of time or if you have a big baby.
The Ergo is not a sling but a soft structured carrier, and is used for bigger babies. I love how the part that holds Abel is cozy, and because it goes over both shoulders and around the waist, it is very comfy for hours. It also has a pocket to put little things in (keys, wallet) and since it's structured there is no wrapping required, which means it take little effort and is the easiest of the 3 to learn how to use. However, it is the most expensive. I also like the little hood that's attached... you put it up for head support if your little one falls asleep.

Bangle Teething Bling

I own both a necklace and a few bracelets. They are made of food grade silicone and can be thrown in the dishwasher. While (I think) most of the colors look like stone, they are actually teething rings! Some people think that these encourage your baby to chew on jewelry, but if you baby is anything like mine, they already chew on EVERYTHING! This just keeps little hands (and mouths) busy and mom doesn't even have to carry an extra toy. Genius!

Part 2 is here

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

It sure has been a busy week! Reed and I left last Tuesday to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his family in Clarksville, TN. I had to work until late Tuesday afternoon, so we drove as far as we could that night and stayed in a hotel. We arrived in Clarksville early afternoon on Wednesday. Both Reed's sister and brother live there with their families, and Reed's parents were in town from Ft. Lewis in Washington state. Next year, when his Dad retires, his parents will live there too. They have already bought their house in TN, and that's where Reed and I stayed.

Abel's Papa and Mimi (Reed's folks) had only met Abel one and twice, respectively. Abel's aunts, uncles, and cousins had also only met him once as well, so it was great to see everyone!

Playing Peek-A-Book with Abel in our room. I can't get over how cute he is! That stuffed animal on the floor was Reed's when he was a baby. His mom gave it to us when we visited.

Reed and I. I love you more everyday!

We celebrated Nathan's (Reed's brother) Birthday while the family was all together.

Abel and cousin Anderson playing. I loved watching the cousins play together.

We also celebrated Christmas while we were all together, since we won't be together for Christmas.

Giving Abel a bath in the sink. Can't believe he's still small enough to fit!

Playing with my sweet, happy boy <3

Mimi reading to the grandsons.

Papa snuggling with Abel.

Our little man who pulls up on anything he can reach! Walking's next!

Anderson getting a kiss from his daddy, Steve. I wish this picture wasn't fuzzy, but it's so sweet I had to post anyways.

Anderson and his crazy hair after a nap. His pretty mommy is Reed's sister Rachel. Love them!

My little family.

Maddie, Anderson's sister, playing with Abel. She was so sweet to him! I loved having her around. And yes, that's all Starbucks coffee :) Reed saves up the bags he gets for free (from working there) and brings it to his coffee-aholic family :)

Steve, Rachel, and Jenn (Nathan's wife) checking out the Black Friday ads.

Abel and Uncle Nathan.

I wish Anderson had made it into this picture, but it's super cute of Maddie and Abel!

The Thanksgiving crowd.

Reed's parents and Sarah (Steve's mom)

Abel and his Mama. Happy Thanksgiving!

For the record, I am so thankful the boys take their naps at the same time! While I make good use of my time and get a lot done while they're awake, it's much easier to blog with two sleeping boys!