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Thomas the Cupcake Train!

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Oh boy, time has really gotten away from me. I can’t believe my last post was in September!  I wanted to post our professional photos we had done for Christmas, then realized I hadn’t even shared about Joshua’s birthday so I better do that first. He turned two on November 23rd!

This little guy is very into trains. I can’t even tell you the number of times I hear “choo choo!” a day, either because he hears a train, sees a train track, is playing with trains, or sees Thomas on his socks & pajamas, or on TV. He finds trains everywhere, like on a Christmas tree figurine I never even noticed a train was at the base of, or in the background of pictures in books. You never know how surrounded you are by trains until you have a toddler signaling their presence once every few minutes. Needless to say, we went with a Thomas the Train theme for his birthday this year.

This was his Halloween costume, and the photos worked nicely for his birthday invitations.

I saw a really cool cupcake train idea on A Britt Without Boys (see her post for a much better train, and tutorial), and was really excited to make it. It was very simple to put together and while mine didn’t look as great as Brittney’s, everyone loved it and it was a hit!

Basically you need a large engine to start the train off with, if you want to go with Thomas I’d look into the “My First Thomas” set you can get at Target for around $20. I went with a projector toy I found on eBay that was a bit too small, and I’m not sure the My First Thomas is bigger but it seemed to be in the online pictures. Then you need cupcakes, the number is up to you. You need half as many graham crackers as cupcakes, and 4 large marshmallows and Oreo’s per graham cracker.

“Glue” marshmallows with melted chocolate (I used a disposable piping bag that I melted white chocolate chips in the microwave) onto the bottom of the graham crackers where you want the tires to be. Place them marshmallow side down and then glue Oreo’s over the outside of each marshmallow to make them look more like train wheels.  To set up the train, arrange two cupcakes per graham cracker and set up in a line behind the engine. Add candles and you’re done! I got the “Happy Birthday” candle set for $1 at Dollar Tree.

He started out dressed in his train engineer costume but HAD to put on the Thomas jammies from Auntie Joan as soon as they were out of the gift bag! 

I didn’t get too crazy with the decorations, just cheap stuff in basic colors that went with the Thomas theme, but I did put some creativity into the favor bags.  I got blue paper bags 3/$1 at Walmart, then designed my own labels for them and stuck them on with double sided tape. I include a wooden train whistle ($1 at Dollar Tree), Train Smoke (Vanilla Snow Cotton Candy, $1 from Dollar Tree, filled 6 bags), bubbles (8-pack of wedding bubbles $1 at Dollar Tree, printed out my own Thomas’s and taped them on), and a few fun-size candy bars that I got half price after Halloween. What can I say, I’m thrifty!

And this was the front of the thank-you cards I designed and mailed to those who gave him a gift. I print my “cards” at Walmart as 4×6 photos for about a quarter each with tax (for 1 hour, only 9 cents if you can wait for home delivery). If it’s just a card front like this, I cut out some card stock to size, fold it, and tape the picture to the front, then write a message inside. Can’t beat a personalized card for a quarter!

Oh and one more cute thing from the party, my Mother-in-Law, with the help of her artistic sister, made this Thomas veggie train with a cardboard Thomas they made “from scratch” and long baskets (I’ve seen these at Dollar Tree, like MIL, like DIL!) filled with veggies. It looked much cooler spread out until I pushed it aside to make way for my big crock pot full of Easy White Chicken Chili, but you get the idea.

I didn’t do any games but had a coloring table set up just in case there were slow points and children got bored, but it actually ended up being filled with all adults! My sisters joined after I took this picture. I printed this Thomas Birthday Express coloring sheet and they went to town while they waited for everyone to finish eating and the presents to begin.

I purposely kept the decorating and prep to a minimum to avoid stress and it was a really enjoyable party!  I wonder how many more years I’ll be able to continue my cake strike before this little boy starts working on me and convinces me to make a dragon cake like his cousin did once upon a time. For now, I’m enjoying cupcaking it up! hehe.



Toddler Tuesday: the sleeve-sniffer & some videos

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Joshua has been a pajama sleeve-sniffer ever since he rejected his pacifier at about six months old.  He replaced the suckling comfort of the paci with the feel of pajama sleeves against his nose, and still does a suckling motion with his mouth, like he’s sucking on his tongue, and he breathes heavy while doing it.  It’s so weird, and cute.  If he can find any jammies in the laundry before naptime, he will dig them out and carry them around by the sleeve, sniffing on them.  I finally caught it on camera. Enjoy. :)

I also have a few recent (within the last couple weeks) videos I had to share too, for those with a few extra minutes to kill. None are very long, all about 30 seconds.

Remember him lovin’ on his Daddy back in February? That’s not going to end any time soon. Here he is still doing it, 7 months later. :)

Here he is groovin’ to Bon Jovi while we were at Five Guys.

Another one from Five Guys, cleaning up the mess he made. This was totally his idea. And don’t worry, his hands got washed after this. :)

Toddler Tuesday: the observer

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Nothing epic going on in toddler world, so here are some photos I took of Joshua last Friday in his “big boy shorts” (i.e. shorts that are a little too big) that he LOVES.  He’s such an observer, and every time we go to Exploration Place, he watches the other kids (or teenagers, in this case) for quite a while before he joins in the activity/playing. His contribution to the water maze, later on, was taking the floating balls off their course and throwing them back, but I was too busy trying to keep him from drinking the chlorine water to take photos of that.

People are fascinating, doncha know.

Toddler Tuesday: Mom confessions

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A friend of mine recently did a post called, “Confessions of a Toddler Mom” and I just loved it so much, I’m totally stealing her idea for today.  I’ll be he first to admit I’m far from a perfect mother…

I don’t always (OK, hardly ever) use the safety strap on shopping carts. Or changing tables. And not always on the stroller, either.

Meet one of my son’s milk cups.

Speaking of beverage containers, I use my “cleansing bottle” I came home with from the hospital as his water bottle. Moms who’ve given birth the “traditional way” know what I’m talking about.

I make people uncomfortable by taking my son to watch them work outside at close range, just standing there and staring. Because he loves it.

I let our dog do the first rinse on his hands after a meal.

I also never wash the windows.

I let him make loud sounds at Petsmart and in public restrooms so he can hear his voice echo. I may even make the same sounds back at him sometimes. (All the time.)

I get annoyed when his nap doesn’t last at least an hour.

But when it lasts longer, I get anxious waiting to see his face again and catch myself continuously glancing at the clock.

When I need a break, I send him outside to play with Jessie.  If he’s content for more than five minutes, I generally find him smeared in poop or covered in dirt, but it’s totally worth it.

I have plotted evil things against the ice cream man, tree trimmers, neighbors, and relatives, for making noise during nap time.

I have done the following to get him to eat: let him run around free with it (i.e. food smears & crumbs everywhere), bribed him with sweets to get him to try something new, and shoved food into his mouth while he was screaming and crying.

On hard days I count down the minutes…and seconds…until bed time.

I’ve attempted to use the TV as a babysitter.  And really wished it had worked.

I let him jump on the bed, climb, explore, and destroy far more than I planned to.

I don’t feed him organic very often, and I use don’t eschew sugar.

I still hold him like a baby before nap and bedtime, and give him a sippy cup of milk just like I used to do with his bottle. I can’t. stop.

And sometimes (a lot of times), I just embrace the mess.

Toddler Tuesday: Our July 4th

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Patriotic cousins.

This was the first ever 4th of July we’ve spent with Dennis’ family, and it was the best Independence day of my life! We are kind of sticks in the mud and usually don’t do a single thing for the holiday, not even a single firecracker or grilled piece of meat.  So this was a nice change of pace.  I’m thinking we’ll need to make this a tradition.

We got there Friday night and Grandma and Grandpa Miller had a surprise for Joshua, a Radio Flyer trike! It was in new condition, and Phyllis found it for only $1 at a garage sale. Joshua has been trying to play with the bikes in neighbor’s yards, and he’s is sooooo happy to have his very own trike now!

This is Joshua’s shy smile, he will look to the side and smile at you out of the corner of his eye. He did this while walking down the “runway,” along with running to and fro until Daddy reigned him in. 

We went to the park on July 4th, where they were having a big celebration with a Baby Beauty contest, frog races, turtle races, bouncy houses, free hot dogs, swimming, etc.  It was so hot we only stayed to do the Baby Beauty contest and the frog race, and Joshua bounced a little on the step going into a bouncy house, which was perfectly fine with him. Joshua didn’t place in the beauty contest, Dennis says because they didn’t have any “Grand Champion” ribbons, and his little frog didn’t win either, but of course neither bothered him. He was just having fun.

Auntie Joan introducing him to the frog he was entering into the race, courtesy of Uncle Richard catching it on their property.

There were horses all along the fence as we were leaving.  Being obsessed with horses, Joshua kept pointing and making noises indicating he wanted to get closer.  We stopped to watch a little girl bridling a horse and her Dad asked if Joshua wanted to sit on him. Oh yes, he did!  I didn’t catch his smile, but he was so excited.  First the bike, now the horse, all his lifelong dreams were coming true. lol

After his nap, Joshua cooled off in the redneck Miller swimming pool, the old sheep trough. Gotta love country living!

Jessie enjoyed the trough too.

Auntie Joan had gotten Joshua a flag tank top to match his cousins’ shirts so we had to get a photo of them together. She’s also responsible for her boys’ awesome socks. Would you just look at these handsome boys?

This photo was Grandma Phyllis’ brilliant idea, she wanted to get the “Biker Cousins” in a pic together.  Is this too much, or is this too much?

Too. much.

We had the most amazing grilled burgers (my contribution was CW’s Strawberry Shortcake), but I didn’t get a picture of them. Instead, I give you Joshua, who swiped Grandpa’s corn cob off his plate. He loves corn on the cob!

Auntie Joan took him on a trip on his fire engine (another of Grandma’s garage sale finds).

And we got down to business, cracking poppers, doing smoke bombs and snakes. Joshua loved it all!

Cracking Poppers with Uncle Richard.

This is the “Pooping Dog” – a snake comes out his butt lol.

A friend showed up on his motorcycle and Grandpa took Joshua to check it out. This kid is even more obsessed with motorcycles (and trucks and anything that goes vroom) than horses. Here he is working on his James Dean look.

And I’ll close with the last picture I took, of Joshua and his Grandpa watching the motorcycle leave. <3

See you next week for another, hopefully much less photo heavy, Toddler Tuesday.

Oh, hi there!

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It has been nearly two months since I last posted a recipe! Time flies when you’re having fun. :)

Today, I thought I’d share some pictures of the little guy that I like to blame for my lack of blogging.  We had some professional photos back in March and I thought it was about time I showed off my handsome little man in his suit he got from his Nana D!

This little guy constantly amazes me how much he seems to learn every day!  I think I still expect him to be an immobile, uncomprehending infant, and can’t stop marveling that he now understands and responds to nearly everything I say.

He’s not talking much, though he does repeat things in his own language.  The things he can say that are recognizable are Dada, Mama, Yaya (Jessie), ah dah (all done), yeah, duck (although he says duck duck, never just duck), that that (he does this while pointing, indicating excitement, as with big trucks, or because he wants to know what something is), mo (more).  The only animal sound he will make is a dog panting and barking. Dogs are the only animal worthy of imitation, obviously.

His favorite foods are cheddar cheese (has been since he first had some), corn, tomatoes, fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches , my potato and onion hash, and all fruit, especially berries and watermelon.  He gets a kick out of making slurpy sounds while eating watermelon.

He loves to help.  He recently helped me make a loaf of banana bread, sifting the dry ingredients, cracking eggs (with Mom’s help) and stirring…and licking the spatula.  I think licking is his favorite way to help, especially when we make brownies.  He also loves to help clean, and loves to put ice in my cup (our cup) for me.  I’m working on letting him help in more ways.

He got his first burn by touching the mower’s muffler after Dennis mowed, before it had cooled.  He burnt his other hand the next week on my flat iron, and then got his first cut after breaking a porcelain decoration in the kitchen (did I mention the climbing yet? He was climbing on the kitchen chairs and pulled something down off the table) and trying to help clean up the mess.  And the climbing!!!  Oohhhh the climbing. I hope he survives the climbing.

People often ask me if he’s always so happy.  Pretty much!  He is such a good-natured little guy, although he has his daily fits as well, not gonna lie.  Things that set him off are taking something away that he really wants (like Jessie’s leash, he loves walking her), or not opening the door when he wants to go outside (outside is his favorite) or the door to the car (pretending to drive is also his favorite). OR DIAPER CHANGES.  Diaper change = war, in this house.

We joined a new church and we love that there are lots of kids there.  The photo below wasn’t taken at church, but at a fish fry with all our church friends, and it’s so nice to see Joshua playing with other kids.  We will not be able to give him a sibling unless God gives us another huge miracle, so it does my heart good to see him playing with other little kids.

And if you can only have one kid, it’s hard to complain when you get such a stellar one. To this day I still look at Dennis and say, “Can you even believe we have him?”  I think I will die with that amazement still in my heart.  Thank you, God.

Be sure to check back Monday, I do have a recipe ready to share, and it’s a doozy!

Joshua’s Birth Story

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I’m not sure if anyone is interested in this story, especially since it has been nearly 17 months, but a friend recently asked me if I ever posted Joshua’s birth story because she still didn’t know if I’d gone without an epidural, as I planned, how long my labor was, etc.  I figured it was about time I post it not only for anyone interested, but so I can remember every magical, disgusting moment.  It’s quite long, just to warn you. And of course includes all the fun stuff involved with childbirth, so if things like blood and reproductive systems aren’t your favorite thing to read about, I suggest you stop now. :)

I wasn’t one of those “I’m so tired of being pregnant, I wish this baby would come right now!” mama’s. I wanted as much time with my baby inside me as possible and if I wasn’t diabetic, I’d have been hoping for a 41 or 42 week gestation. I wanted more time to prepare (procrastinator) and to have as much “just us” time as possible before things changed forever.  So when I woke up Friday, November 22nd of 2013, a little over two weeks before my due date, and figured out that my water was leaking, I freaked out.  This was not how it was supposed to happen!

My amniotic fluid had been a little low at my appointment the previous day, and my OBGyn had told me to come with hospital bag packed to my appointment the following week because if it was any lower, he was sending me straight over to the hospital to be induced. So at least I had some warning that things might progress sooner than I anticipated.

After waking, I went to the bathroom to pee. When I stood up to flush the toilet, more pee trickled down my leg. I’d managed to make it to nearly 38 weeks without having any bladder control issues, and I wondered if that was now starting for me in my final weeks.  I sat back down but had no more I could pee. But when I stood up, again, I leaked. That’s when it clicked. That I might be leaking amniotic fluid.

I called my mother, and asked her if her water broke before she went into labor. It did with me, but it was a big gush, not a leak like this.  I called Lacey to see what her experience was, and she said hers never broke so they had to break it in the hospital.  So I went a-Googling and decided to do the lay-down test.  Lay down for half an hour with a pad in, then stand up and see if the pad was wet.  While I laid there, I prayed fervently for God to calm my anxious heart and carry me through what was to come.  I felt 90% NOT READY.

Once I determined that I was most likely leaking amniotic fluid and not peeing myself, I considered going straight to the hospital because I knew full well you were supposed to if your water broke (complications can arise from low fluid, such as infection).  But I didn’t want to go without Dennis, who wasn’t due home for another four hours, and since it was a slow leak I thought I’d just wait until he got home.  I hadn’t yet packed a hospital bag (procrastinator, remember?), so I got to packing my bag but mostly chatting online with friends about what was going on.

When Dennis got home,  my bag still wasn’t packed, and I still hadn’t started the postpartum padsicles I’d wanted to make to help me heal after my return (procrastinator to the end!).  I’d started feeling contractions around 4pm, nothing very impressive and not at even intervals.  When he arrived he was floored when I told him my water broke and we needed to go to the hospital. His jaw just dropped, utter astonishment.  At least I wasn’t the only one unprepared for early delivery!  But I felt fairly calm (thank you, Lord) and that kept him calm.  I asked if he could help me pack a bag and if we could go get something to eat before we went, because I knew they wouldn’t let me eat while in labor.

So we packed two bags, ate at West Street Burgers and called my MIL to let her know we stopped for burgers just like she had predicted (she had joked that Dennis wouldn’t recognize the urgency and would probably want to stop for burgers when I went into labor, and we both laughed that it turned out to be me that wanted to stop for burgers).  While we were there, my contractions started being strong enough to qualify as painful.  But I didn’t want to go straight to the hospital. I knew I wouldn’t want to make the padsicles after giving birth and while taking care of a newborn, so we went back home and Dennis helped me make 24 pads coated with aloe gel and lavender witch hazel, which we wrapped in foil and popped in the freezer.

We finally checked into the hospital about 8 pm, seven hours after I first started leaking.  They confirmed I was leaking amniotic fluid with a test, and I was admitted into L&D. I was only 1 cm dilated, so they first tried to kick my labor into gear by inserting a foley bulb that inflates to slowly dilate the cervix to 4 cm.  We both decided around midnight that Dennis should leave to go walk Jessie since she hadn’t gotten her usual late-night walk, and my sister, Danielle, came to be with me while he was gone.  He got to be absent for most of the fun lol.

The foley bulb did start my labor going a lot stronger, and my sister, who has never had children and doesn’t ever want to, just shook her head every time I had a contraction and kept telling me I should just get an epidural.  I was determined to try and have a natural birth, and her insistence that I just give up was not what I wanted to hear.

I felt awful, and like I was trapped to that table – I wanted to be up and moving and I really wanted to bend over on my hands and knees to help relieve the enormous pressure & tension I felt in my back with each contraction, but I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors since I was high risk, plus had the foley bulb up my hooha, and just felt like I couldn’t move even though they told me they could unhook me and let me move if I wanted. I should have said YES but I didn’t.  At that point I couldn’t imagine myself contorting into weird positions b/c it would have been so embarrassing. *sigh* REALLY?! What about childbirth isn’t embarrassing?

Momma Donna showed up after her shift was over, about 1 am, and was even more hell bent on me getting an epidural.  Obviously neither one liked me being in pain, which is nice, but it wasn’t helpful to me.  I was in the most pain of my life, but felt I had very good reasons not to get an epidural, and I had two women working against me instead of helping me through it.  While they were both trying to convince me, I had a contraction so bad I vomited from my chest all the way to my toes, all over the bed.  So much for delivering on a full stomach! You think maybe they know what they’re doing, not allowing food during labor?

The nurses got the bed changed and gave me a new gown to change into.  I continued puking and dry heaving with contractions and Momma D was ready with the trashcan and bed pan each time.  I so wanted Dennis there and wanted these women out of the room.  I’m so grateful that I wasn’t alone, but really just wanted my husband.

He finally returned around 2, and not long after Danielle and Donna were gone, I told him I was going to request an epidural and although he hadn’t been there long before I told him that, I could tell he was greatly relieved. Poor guy, lol.  I hadn’t decided on the epidural because of Donna and Danielle, in fact I probably would have never gotten one if they stayed b/c they ticked me off trying to persuade me to do something I didn’t want to do, and my stubbornness might have won against my desire to ease the pain.  But without them there, and with Dennis there ready to support me in whatever I wanted, I couldn’t take it any more.

I was really disappointed in myself b/c I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person, with a high threshold for pain, and it was hard to realize what a wuss I really was.  Nevertheless, it was a huge relief once the pain started to subside.  By this point I’d been in labor for ten hours, though most of that was tolerable.

After the foley bulb had done it’s work, which was finished before the epidural, they had to start me on Pitocin because my labor still wasn’t progressing fast enough.  They checked my temperature every hour and I was running a fever almost from the beginning, so they finally antibiotics to my IV, in case of infection.  I had been on a saline drip from the beginning to keep me hydrated.  (The next day my legs were swollen stiff up to my thighs from all the extra fluid they gave me!) They kept increasing the Pitocin until they reached the max dosage and my cervix continued to dilate at what seemed a snail’s pace.  I could tell when I was contracting because my stomach would turn into a rock hard ball, but I couldn’t feel it internally.  I wasn’t able to sleep at all, even with no pain, so I stayed on Facebook all night while Dennis snored beside me in the chair that folded out into a bed.

Finally, finally, by 3 pm the next day I was 10 cm, 100% effaced, and ready to start practice pushing.  It’s so funny because I’d been so worried about being hungry, when food was the last thing on my mind the whole time and I never felt hungry until the next day.  They called my OB for the delivery and in the mean time we practiced.  Dennis was on my right side, and a nurse on my left.  When each contraction started, they would pull my knees backwards toward my head, and I would lean forward between my knees and push.  I learned quickly that what I thought was strong pushing was not the least impressive, and learned that even more when my OB arrived and threatened to use suction if I couldn’t push any harder.  He also said that Joshua was face up and he tried to move him while still in the womb to face downward but couldn’t.  I asked if that was a problem and he said no, but it was generally more difficult to give birth to babies that were sunnyside up.  Oh goody.

Joshua’s hearbeat was starting to decrease after pushing, so they gave me oxygen after each contraction to help him.  They brought a huge mirror out so that we could see the baby’s head as it emerged, and it was freaky deaky so I didn’t really look that much. I’m sorry but whatever, birth isn’t beautiful. It’s a bloody disgusting mess.  Dennis thought I was going to give birth to a huge hair ball when he saw the top of Joshua’s head, but thankfully didn’t say that until after I’d given birth to a normal human baby, and it was actually funny. LOL

After my OB threatened the suction, I pushed like I didn’t think possible, and funny man that he is, informed me I was going to have some hemorrhoids while he was watching them pop out on my butt.  And finally our baby was born at 4:30 pm on 11/23/13, face-down. Doc had been mistaken, which is good because it was hard enough to deliver him facing the right way!  I had been taken off the epidural (it was a continuous drip through my back) an hour before, and I did feel the birth, which felt painful to me, so I can’t imagine how painful it must be without an epidural at all.  I have mad respect for my mother and all the women who’ve done it drug-free.  Dennis cut the cord in one try, which impressed my OB because guys usually underestimate how strong the cord is and have to try two or three times to get it cut all the way through.  They took Joshua briefly to clamp his cord stump, and then handed him to me.  The little guy I’d waited my whole life to meet.

I wish I could tell you the heavens opened up and I heard choirs of angels singing, and I fell instantly in love.  But, no.  I was kind of in a daze, and overwhelmed. Twenty-eight hours ago, I was still under the delusion that I had two weeks before his arrival, and I don’t deal with change well, even a change I’d been waiting my whole life for. He looked funny to me, I mean come on, babies are ugliest right after birth, and his eyes were flickering and rolling all around.  I worried I had messed him up with the epidural.

My main reason for not wanting an epidural was that it could affect how well breastfeeding started off, and since I wanted to breastfeed due to the nutrition and the cost (free, which is wonderful when you’re planning to quit working and stay at home!), this was a big deal to me.  The nurses helped me position him and allowed him to nurse for an entire hour after birth while the doctors were sewing up my second degree lacerations.  I think they only usually allow half an hour of skin-to-skin time before taking the baby to put gunk in their eyes and all the other fun stuff they do, but they said they don’t interfere as long as a baby is continuing to nurse well.  I wouldn’t say he nursed well, as he actually gave me a hicky on my boob where he’d latched off the nipple, but he was pretty diligent at least. LOL

After they gunked up his eyes, weighed him (6 lb 14 oz), measured him (18 1/2 inches), and swaddled him, Daddy finally got to hold him. That was probably the moment I started to fall in love with Joshua. Seeing his Daddy hold him was so amazing.  He held him like he had been practicing all his life, like Joshua was the thing that was always supposed to be there.  I definitely fell in love with my husband deeper than ever before, which I hadn’t even thought possible.

I had to pee and the nurse said she would bring a bedpan but I could feel my legs and thought I could walk, so she agreed to help me stand to see if I could make it to the restroom.  She helped me to the toilet and was going to stay there b/c she was worried about me falling off the toilet I guess (lol) but I asked her if she could leave because peeing after giving birth felt so scary and I knew I couldn’t pee with her there.  I think it took me like five or ten minutes, but I finally figured out how to pee. LOL!  With the epidural and all the pushing combined, my kegal muscles were probably like, “Seriously, you want us to do what? We’re on vacation for the next month!”

She gave me a huge ice pad and the awesome stretchy mesh hospital underpants and it felt so nice to put that on and sit with an ice pack between my legs. I was so glad I had the padsicles waiting at home!  (Though I will tell you, the ones at home were WAY TOO COLD and didn’t feel nice at all but they were perfectly cool at room temp so that’s how I wore after I about freezer burned myself with the first one.)  I went straight into a wheelchair and I was handed my sleeping, bundled up baby and cradled him all the way to the room we would stay in for the next day and a half.  It was pretty surreal and I was still in a daze and honestly can’t tell you the moment the daze wore off and I realized I finally had my wish come true and fell madly in love with him. It happened without me being conscious of it, during the struggles of becoming a parent.

The first week was very little sleep, lots of stress, tears and heartbreak as he was hospitalized in the NICU for jaundice after having him home just one full day to ourselves, and finally taking him home for good a week and a day after he was born.  I think it was when I had to give him back to the hospital that I realized how much I loved him, because it hurt SO much not to have him with us at home any more, and I was SO scared of losing him (his bilirubin was high enough to cause brain damage).  And the second time we got to take him home, by then he was definitely imprinted on my heart forever.  And I have only fallen deeper in love with him every day since.


Thank you, Lord, for entrusting me with such a precious soul.  I pray I raise him right by You.


Look who’s turning 1!

We went to Portrait Innovations for Joshua’s 1-year photos. Can you believe he’ll be one November 23rd? Me neither!

This little guy is officially a toddler. He started walking a month ago and is now pretty good with it and walks about 90% of the time.

This one is my favorite. I think. It’s so hard to pick one!

I just love his laughing face!!

I entered this photo into Gerber’s Photo Search. I would be SO grateful if you guys would vote for my little dude. Once you click here, you’ll have to enter your birthday, your email address, and your name and type some numbers to verify you’re a human, then you’ll see his pic and be able to vote for him. You can vote once a day so if you are awesome enough to return, the second time will be easier as you won’t have to write your name or verify you’re a human, just your birthday and email. if you don’t want to get Gerber emails, just don’t click the box to sign up for My Gerber. If you’re willing to vote daily, just say so in the comments and I’ll send you a daily email reminder. Thanks so much you guys!

The crawler emerges

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Joshua is quickly closing in on 9 months old and it seems like he’s grown up so much since I last updated. He’s got his first teeth, started sitting up, and crawling! He’s been working on his crawling for a while and finally started legitimately crawling last week, though he still does a lot of scooting so it’s not totally smooth yet.  Here’s his first stage of crawling – the rocking motion lol.

Then he started doing this thing where he’d push off with his legs and let his arms go back at the same time so he was kind of like a grounded super-man, flying on the bed, which seemed the safest/softest place to practice while this was part of his technique.

And here’s a 6-second video showing his legit crawl, though he’s still not super smooth with it.

I was using mats to let him practice on the floor (got four of them at a garage sale for $1 each) but there wasn’t much room for him to get around before hitting a piece of furniture, so we put our coffee table in storage and put in a ghetto play yard. You can spend $100+ on a baby gate to create a safe (and attractive) area for baby to play in, but if you don’t have that kind of dough, here’s the $15 alternative. Blow up pool! Thank you, Pinterest. :D

Here’s a video of him enjoying his time in his padded cell:

It takes up the entire living room, though, so the second day after we put it in I was already propping the pool on the couch and was letting him crawl directly on the floor. Of course he immediately threw himself head-first into the handle on a drawer of the entertainment center for the tenth time, reminding me why I’d thought the pool was such a good idea. Here he is enjoying his floor time with the pool as a recliner instead of a safety net. If you look close you can see the red mark where he hit his forehead.

It’s hard to catch his teeth in photos but I managed it in this one – you can just see them on the bottom.

Oh yeah and he can sit up on his own now too.  We often find him sitting up in bed now when he wakes up and for some reason, it makes me so sad. My baby can sit up without my help and can stay there without me hovering to catch him if he starts leaning and topples. :(

In other news we finally moved beyond veggies & fruit and he’s had his first scrambled eggs and yogurt.  Thankfully he hasn’t had an allergic reaction to anything so far.  I think eggs are his absolute favorite but they are also the messiest thing I feed him and they dry on so I pretty much have to give him a bath every time I feed him eggs.  I don’t know how he manages it, but eggs pretty much coat every inch of him by the time he’s done, even inside his diaper and on the back of his head. Babies are magic when it comes to making messes.

The kid loves his Dad and listens to him so intently when he’s talking – I love it.  But he’s started saying “Mamama” when he’s upset, like he’s calling me, and has been doing it long enough I’m tempted to say it’s his first word. No “Dadada’s” yet.

I’ve been enjoying my boy and been caught up in the busy-ness of summer, so by the time I return to update again, he could be a year old! Blows my mind.  Where does the time go?  I don’t know, but I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Jessie’s 10th Bruffday Paw-ty

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I’ve always wanted to throw a birthday party for Jessie and somehow never found the energy while she was our only child, but managed to pull it off when another little someone was commanding most of my time and attention.  I felt like she really deserved it this year since she had to start playing second fiddle to the human puppy after so many years of being #1.

I created the invitations on PicMonkey (I’ve been using the free version for about a year now, although it’s only $5 a month if you want to use the premium features), and had them developed as pictures at Walmart in an hour for 16 cents each.  I bought a box of envelopes on sale that fit 4×6 pictures and use them every time I create invitations or cards on PicMonkey, so if you calculate the total cost it’s still less than a quarter each – much less than you’d usually pay for custom invitations and cards! I’ve become very crafty with my frugality since becoming a SAHM. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it – necessity has bred a lot more creativity in me than I previously thought possible.

I wanted to spend the least amount of money possible while still having a nice party, so we served hot dogs, which I thought very appropriate for a dog party.

I had a lot of fun with the food table and coming up with dog-related names/signs for everything.  I bought the majority of my supplies at Dollar Tree where, you guessed it, everything is $1.  I got this wire basket there, and wrapped $1 napkins from Walmart around the $1 plasticware from Dollar Tree and then made napkin rings out of  strips of brown paper sacks that I also got from Dollar Tree.  I used the paper from the sacks to make my signs, and also as party favor bags, so I got a lot of use out of them and still have quite a few left for future use.

I found these large plastic dog food bowls at Dollar Tree, and they were the perfect size to serve food out of.  Paw-tato Chips, Puppy Chow, and Kibble & Bits.  For the latter, I mixed cheese balls with Cheddar Chex Mix that I purchased.

I got most of my ideas on Pinterest (click here to see my Doggy Stuffs board that has lots of party ideas and more), but the Paw-sta Salad was totally my idea. :)  I used the Tangy Pasta Salad recipe I posted Monday, using paw and bone-shaped pasta that I got from my SIL as a gift a few years ago (I also threw in a can of sliced black olives, just for fun).  I was so happy to finally put it to good use!  It was a hit both for the cuteness factor and taste – I got more compliments on it than anything else.

Tee hee. :)

I really had fun making dog-friendly cupcakes, or PupCakes, if you will.  These are totally my own recipe and turned out so great – Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting and bacon “sprinkles.”  Huge hit with the pups!

The humans enjoyed Cookies ‘n Cream Cupcakes after the doggies had their “cake.”  I made the paw prints using mini Oreos and chocolate chips.  If you’ve never made this cake, you need to.  I’m not an Oreo fan and even I love it.  Seriously good cake, peeps.

Jessie enjoyed having friends over, especially her BFF, Doc (pictured above).  But since most of the dogs are older and it was pretty warm, they mostly enjoyed just lazing in the pool and shade.  If you are going to have an outdoor dog party in summer, you really need to have lots of shade, lots of water to drink, and a kiddie pool to help them cool off is a great idea too!

Jessie got so spoiled with gifts – lots of toys and treats!

And we sent all the doggies home with party favor bags filled with toys & homemade dog treats.

It was a great time for both furry and human guests, and I’m really glad we gave Jessie the celebration she deserved.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

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