One Lovely Blog Award – My first two nominations!

I am still so excited and surprised! Yesterday, I logged on to reply to some comments on my most recent post, and found out that the lovely Army Wife with Daughters had nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award. How thoughtful of her! Then, I logged on today and found out that Abby Co nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. I am just absolutely shocked and over the moon excited that I received TWO amazing nominations from two amazing bloggers in a matter of just two days. WOW!

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 12.00.05 PMWhile my blog is not necessarily very “new,” I have just recently began to dedicate more time and effort into it these past few months. I’ve been focusing more on posting what I think my audience would enjoy and I have to admit, becoming a mother just four short months ago has really given my blog a direction. I love reading about other people’s parenting experiences and it inspire me to share my own.

So I have to give a big thank you to all the mom bloggers out there sharing their stories with the world! You don’t know how much you inspire others. And another big thank you to Army Wife with Daughters and Abby Co  for the sweet nominations. Make sure you guys go and check out their blogs because they are seriously some hardworking, dedicated, and awesome writers.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog
  • Post about the award
  • Share 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 people
  • Let your nominees know you’ve nominated them!

So, without further ado, here are 7 facts about me:

  1. I can watch cooking shows all day long. I’m not super into the competition ones like Chopped or Baking Championship (although I do LOVE MasterChef), but instead I record every episode of The Pioneer Woman, The Kitchen, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, and Giada at Home. I love getting ideas for dinner and I love all of their personalities so much. My husband always gets on me because our recording space is always almost full, but I can’t help it. I’m obsessed!
  2. I drink my coffee black and iced, all year long. I will indulge in some of the holiday flavors during Christmas time (chestnut praline is my jammmm) or a hot cup every now and then, but my usual choice is black iced coffee. When I worked at Starbucks, my coworkers always joked that I would drink a whole pitcher of the iced goodness by myself (which was probably true). But ever since I found out I was pregnant last year, I have calmed down a ton on my coffee intake. But I definitely still need my coffee every morning, let’s be honest.
  3. Growing up, my favorite food was nachos. Not tacos, but nachos. I’ve always been a huge mexican fan and a big plate of cheesy nachos was my favorite thing. I’d even eat chips and salsa for breakfast throughout high school. It was a problem. I still do love a good plate of nachos, but my favorite meals have evolved a little bit, thankfully. 😉
  4. I love a good debate … just ask my husband. Majority of the times when we bicker, our small disagreement will turn into a full on debate where we pull up research and articles to prove points. It’s pretty humorous and I honestly like it because I feel challenged by him. And like I said, I love a good debate.
  5. Champagne is my drink of choice. Also tequila. But really, champagne is my favorite thing to sip on, and I don’t mind the cheap stuff at all. 😉 Gimme all the Andrés!
  6. I feel like I really found myself when I became a mother. Not that I was a “natural” or anything like that, because trust me, I had a ton of questions and felt super unsure those first few weeks… but I feel more in my element with my daughter than I ever have. And I’m sure that will change over and over again as she grows, but for now I’m going to soak that feeling up as much as I can.
  7. I really enjoy writing. Not just blog posts, but also creatively–mostly creative nonfiction essays and memoir-ish pieces. I took a ton of creative writing courses throughout my graduate studies and really love the pieces I developed. I’d love to try and get some of the published one of these days, but that involves a lot of perfecting that I just haven’t quite done yet.

Now enough about me! Here are the 15 blogs I’m nominating for the One Lovely Blog Award! This was tough, because I read so many blogs and am so inspired by them every day. But these 15 are my top. These are the blogs I look forward to reading and get excited for whenever they post new material. I know they all work so hard and are extremely dedicated to their blogs and they deserve all the recognition possible! Thank you guys for inspiring me and so many others every day. 🙂 And everyone else, go check them out!

Our House of Harris — my sister’s blog! Definitely a good one 🙂
Frugal Florida Mom
The Nostalgia Diaries
Rogers Party of 5
Beautifully Imperfect Mama
I, Mommy
Mummy, It’s Ok
House of Kerrs
Love, Light, and Motherhood
MOM Monster
Everyone’s Sleeping but Mom
Pardon My Baby
Taylor411
Forever Young Moms
My Dearest Darlings

Thanks for reading! Xoxo, Sarah.

5 Reasons Why You Should Try Cloth Diapers

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When I was pregnant, I received SO many strange looks when I told people I planned to cloth diaper. I got a lot of Good luck with that! and You’re crazy! remarks, and I even had a friend bet me $50 that we wouldn’t last with them… (Kate, pay up! hehe). In retrospect, I should’ve seen it coming. I guess I didn’t realize how intimidating cloth diapers are these days, when in reality they were such a mainstream thing only 50ish years ago. Why are we all so afraid of them now?

Well in this post, I’m going to give you five reasons why you should TRY cloth diapering. I’m not trying to convince you to throw away every single disposable diaper you have and never use one again. This post is geared towards making cloth a little less intimidating and a little more mainstream, as disposable diapers are. If all you get from these tips is a better understand in cloth diapers, I’m happy!

So let’s get to it! 5 reasons why you should give cloth diapers a good ole try:

You will save money.
I mean, that’s pretty obvious right? But sometimes I don’t think people understand just how MUCH money you save.  Let’s say you buy the generic Target brand (Up & Up) diapers in bulk for 190 diapers for $28.99, so about 15 cents per diaper. And let’s say you use 6 diapers a day, so that’s 90 cents a day spent on diapers. Really, that’s not too bad… but multiple that by 365 days and that’s $328.50 spent. Now, let’s say you don’t start potty training until your baby is two-years-old. So that’s $657 for two years worth of disposable diapers. And that’s with a generic store brand disposable diaper. If you go organic or name brands, the cost will go up.

My entire cloth diaper stash cost me $160. They will last until Kensington is potty trained and I can even use them on our next child. I really want to point out the financial benefit of cloth diapering, because it was our biggest motivation, and it is for a lot of families.

Yes, I know I need to factor in laundry detergent and water bills, but really we haven’t seen a spike in either, so for us it’s a really miniscule increase.

It’s not all or nothing. 
This is probably my biggest point to this post… It’s not all or nothing! We use disposable diapers at night still and I’m 100% okay with that. You don’t have to buy a whole stash up front like we did. Even if you just use cloth diaper a few times a day, you will be saving money and keeping more diapers out of the landfill. I think a lot of people think you either use disposables OR you use cloth diapers, but there are tons of people out there who use both and that’s just as awesome as using one or the other!

Cloth diapers have an amazing resale value.
Yes, even after they’ve been used! Cloth diapers are very easy to strip with bleach so that they can be reused. So my diaper stash will not only be able to save me money on our daughter, but the same stash will save my money on our next child! And even after we’re done diapering babies, I can sell them at a good rate, depending on their condition.  I could end up lowering the original $160 spent on our stash. And  “gently used” cloth diapers can be resold for almost the full amount that they were bought at, so there really isn’t much of a risk to try them. 🙂

They’re so stinking cute!
Seriously though, I can’t get enough of our diapers. Majority of our stash is Alva Baby and they are not only great quality, but are also so ADORABLE. I have to believe that cloth diapering would be so much more of a nuisance if the prints weren’t so cute. I love letting Kensington lounge around in that diaper-only look because they fit her perfectly and look adorable on her. We just can’t get enough!

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They’re much more modernized now.
If you had asked me two years ago what I knew about cloth diapers, I would’ve replied with safety pins and lots of folding because that’s how cloth diapers used to be (and can still be now, of course). BUT there are a ton of options for cloth diapers besides just folding and safety pinning. In fact, a lot of them are just like disposables in terms of how they go on. Some have velcro and some have buttons; some you stuff with inserts and some are all-in-ones that require zero stuffing or folding. They are made to be more convenient for cloth diapering mothers. You don’t have to spend too much time folding in between diaper changes; you just change them into a clean diaper, just as if it were a disposable!

Also, a lot of moderned diapers are one-sized. Our Alva Baby pocket diapers are one-sized, meaning that they use snaps to change the fit and size of the diaper. So Kensington will be able to fit into the same diapers at 8 lbs and at 35 lbs. This is super convenient because my stash should last me up until Kensie is potty trained, which saves us more money!

*BONUS: You have less “blowouts” in cloth diapers.
Yup! Those dreaded outfit-ruining diaper blowouts that run up your kids back are better contained. Gosh those blowouts are what nightmares are made of. But, with cloth diapers, they happen less! The elastic in the covers and diapers hold in the poo better than disposables, so it keeps it all in the diapers, where it should be. If that’s not a good enough reason to try cloth, I don’t know what is! 😉 

So there you have it! Five reasons to TRY cloth diapering. I hope I at least intrigued you into exploring some cloth diapering options, because it really isn’t as scary or intimidating as it appears. There are a lot of options that can save you money while making your little one as adorable as ever. 🙂 Thanks for reading! Xoxo.

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***Disclaimer: this post includes an item that was sent to me for free in return of a honest review on the product.

Kensie Lou’s 4 Month Update

Well, just as I guessed it would, these past two months have flown by! And now, my little newborn is no longer so little anymore. We’ve got an adorable, sleep regressing, laughing little four-month-old, and I can’t wait to tell you guys all about her changes.

So for starters, Kensington’s three month clothes fit her PERFECTLY though I’m am itching to put her in some of her six month summer outfits because they are SO cute (I have to remind myself to slow it down). She still loves her swing, car rides, and laughing at our pup, Marvel. We are still cloth diapering and still loving it. We haven’t bought a box of diapers since January! She still has the craziest hair, although I can finally get most of it to lay down for a day or so… Her sleep schedule has been all over the place as we’ve been battling that four month sleep regression, but for the most part, she is still a really good sleeper. She loves to be out and about and loves sitting up in our laps. Her little personality is coming through so fiercely and I cannot wait to watch this little fire-sign baby grow into herself even more over these next few months.

 

Five more things we’ve learned about parenting. 

Breastfeeding is STILL hard. I know in my last update post I said after the first month or so, it got much easier, and it did. But then I went through my first “nursing strike” where Kensington didn’t want to take my breast at all. I’m not sure if my supply dropped, or if she just wanted breast milk from a bottle, but we were struggling for a good 2-3 weeks with this. We blew through 75% of our freezer stash and even though I was nursing what little she would take, and pumping to keep my supply up, I just felt like I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with her demands. But I talked to my friend Ashley about it and she got my mind out of the “giving up” gutter and pushed me to find some answers. I researched, talked to other mamas, and I found some ways to increase my supply and Kensington and I made it through. Now, we’re in a really great spot with nursing again but I was so close to throwing in the towel. I’m sure this won’t be our last nursing struggle, but it feels good to have pushed through this one and hopefully I’ll be better prepared for the next struggle, whenever it comes.

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Parent birthdays are weird. My birthday is only a month before Dylan’s, and we both had weird feelings this year. We were so used to doing whatever we wanted on each other’s birthdays but when you have a little one involved you have to plan to much better. For me, I was torn between wanting to go out and celebrate and stay home with Kensie. Usually I would round up all my best friends and we’d go out for a night on the town… but I didn’t want to leave my baby yet. So I felt super torn and the whole week before, Dylan kept asking “What do you want to do for your birthday?” over and over again. I finally made a decision, which was go to a brewery for lunch and get a good IPA with my siblings. And since it was lunch time and things weren’t going to be wild, we took Kensington along. The best of both worlds! For Dylan’s birthday, he wanted to go to the movies, but again… how do you do that with a baby? Well, we found a way! Keep reading. 🙂

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Baby wearing is awesome. Like really awesome. I love being able to cuddle Kensington while we’re out and about, and I know she likes it more than being in her stroller. Sometimes I just carry her around the house while I’m getting some chores done, and she loves it. I think this will become even more of a “parenting win” whenever we have a second child because I cannot imagine juggling a kid and a baby. Yay for hands free!

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Ignore others’ opinions. Thankfully, we don’t have a lot of pushing from our friends and families to do one thing or the other, but the few times we have, we’ve learned to ignore those who might not agree with our parenting styles. There are certain things we’re set on and though we might do things differently than other parents, it doesn’t make our parenting any less important. I think we’re both learning to ignore the judgement because unfortunately, it’s just going to happen no matter what we or any other parents do.

Baby smiles/laughs will get you through it. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s so true. I know that no matter how stressed I am or what kind of day I’m having, Kensington will brighten it. Even if I’m stressed out because she won’t sleep (hello, four month sleep regression) or because she’s super fussy–all she has to do is give me one little smile and it makes it all worth it. Seriously though, baby laughs are life.

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Five things Kensington loves. 

Laughing. This baby laughs all the time and I seriously cannot get enough. Some days, I wake up to her laughing–she’s just laying in her bassinet laughing to herself. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. My most favorite time with her is tickling her until she laughs so hard she squeals. She is just the happiest. We were lucky enough to catch one of her first big laughs on video: click here to watch it! Oh and here’s another laughing session … I seriously can’t get enough of those giggles!

Tummy time.  This baby loves tummy time (generally). In fact, she’s even fallen asleep numerous times while we do it. It’s pretty cute, but sometimes I have to irritate her to get her to push up and roll from belly to her back. She also enjoys playing on her back a lot. She loves kicking and dancing on her back, and will even roll from her back onto her side. I don’t think it will be long before she rolls from back to belly!

Trips to the park. Not only does Kensington like this, our whole family does! It is very rare that Kensie will sleep during a park trip. Usually she is bug-eyed and smiling with all the sounds and smells. Even if I wear her, she likes to keep her head up and looking around. We love to get out and spend time together while walking.

Sitting up. Gosh, this kid does not like to be cradled anymore! You lay her down in your arms like a newborn and she will fuss and fuss at you until you pick her up. Sitting up is her new favorite thing. Though she hasn’t mastered it by herself just yet, she is pretty close. She just uses our fingers for balance. I’m excited for her to be able to sit up on her own, but for now I’m going to keep on loving her little hands needing mine for balance.

Being swaddled. Now this is kind of a funny one because we just recently stopped swaddling Kensington, and man does she miss it. I think her first night without a swaddle she probably only slept 4 hours. Now, about a week and a half later, she’s starting to get used to not having it. She definitely missed it there for awhile! But with her being so close to rolling over from back to belly, we are just no longer comfortable having her swaddled. Sorry baby K, but those swaddling days are now behind us. 😉

Five of our favorite moments with Kensington 2-4 months old. 

First time rolling: Because Kensington is a pretty lazy tummy timer, I really thought she was going to roll from back to belly first. But then one day, she just plopped right over from her belly to her back like she had been doing it for weeks, and of course I wasn’t ready at all! No camera handy. I did snap this picture one of the times after that and I only just recently got it on video.  I feel a little bittersweet about her rolling because what happens next… crawling?! I’m just not sure I’m ready for that yet. When will time slow down?

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First Valentine’s Day: Though it was a rather uneventful day, it was still fun to take some photos of Kensington’s first Valentine’s day. We got donuts and made a romantic steak dinner for ourselves, but Kensington just got good ole boring milk. I’m excited for when Kensington gets to take valentine’s to school and she can understand a little more about the day. But she did look awfully cute for her first one.

First St Patrick’s Day: This one was extra special because Dylan’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day! So of course, I had to take some pictures of her with Dylan and they turned out pretty darn cute. Carter’s even featured her on their website because she wore their “Lucky Girl” tshirt, because she really is one lucky girl to have Dylan as her dad.

First trip to the movies: Speaking of Dylan’s birthday! Remember how he wanted to go to the movies? Well, we made it happen! We took Kensington to the Goochland Drive-in Theater and she did great! Although, they normally play two movies and we only made it through one (Beauty and the Beast), she still didn’t get fussy at all until the end of the film. She slept right on Dylan’s chest and we were able to enjoy all the best things about the movies (popcorn, candy, and birthday cake) all in our car. It was a fun night!

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Starting to play with toys: Now that Kensington is out of the “sleep, nurse, poop, repeat” phase, she’s beginning to show much more interest in playing. She has a few “loveys” that she LOVES, like her little sheep and her moose. She’s starting to put things in her mouth and rattle toys around. She gets the biggest smiles on her face whenever she plays with her toys and it makes me so happy to see her having some fun.

And that is Kensington’s four-month update! I cannot believe we are TWO months away from her half birthday. A whole third of a year down … Why is it going so fast?!

 

Reliving our first pregnancy, just one more time!

On April 5th, 2016 at 4 in the morning, Dylan and I found out we were going to be having a baby. We stood in the bathroom in such shock and excitement for as long as we could before I had to get to work by 4:30 AM.  I couldn’t stop smiling and all I wanted to do was be with Dylan so we could share in the excitement that was our future daughter. I didn’t even make it an hour at work before I texted him to tell him that my mind was going crazy and he told me his was too.

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As soon as I got off work, I called my sister, Angie, to tell her. She didn’t believe me (apparently, I’ve joked about being pregnant a few times more than I should’ve). She ended up making me take a pregnancy test over FaceTime to prove it. She was so excited, especially since she had just had her second son, River, a few weeks before. We would each have babies born in 2016. How crazy and exciting! It was fun having someone to share the secret with. I sent Angie this picture of Dylan that evening because he couldn’t wipe that cheesy smile off his face.

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Of course, she asked me what I was going to do about the wedding. I had no idea how we were going to pull it off. But we did, thanks to Kelly at The Wedding Rabbit.  I remember texting her a “911” text and she helped us get our plans together. I can even remember her coming up to me at the wedding and telling me to stop touching my belly so much (apparently, I was excited to be rubbing a belly that hadn’t even grown yet). We couldn’t have done it without her! Read all about our wedding and how we pulled it off here!

We took the secret onto our honeymoon, where we drove to Key West … I was nauseous, exhausted, and sober the whole time. Poor Dylan drove the whole way and to be honest, I slept a lot. But it was so worth it. Thank God we didn’t book a trip to the caribbean like we would’ve loved to if money wasn’t an issue. If we had, we probably would’ve had to cancel because of the Zika virus. It’s funny how things work out.

I loved that week with Dylan. We spent the whole trip just sharing our excitement and our ideas for our growing family. We always knew we weren’t going to wait long after we were married to try for a baby, so we were so excited.

And as soon as we got home, we told our families. We loved sharing the secret with them! And even though they wanted to tell everyone, we asked them to keep it our little family secret for just a little while longer.

We had our first ultrasound on May 5th, and our little baby looked just like a peanut! It was so special because that evening, we met up with our photographer, Molly, and she took our announcement photos.

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Even though we had an ultrasound in our hands, we still weren’t ready to announce to everyone our big news. We wanted to get as close to 12 weeks as we could. We had a second ultrasound done at 12 weeks and we announced that evening. Baby Frank was waving at us! It was SO nice to finally be able to share our excitement with the world.

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It’s so hard to believe our little Kensington was this small. But she was quickly growing in Momma’s tummy. And before I knew it, I had a bump! I remember meeting some friends for dinner, wearing a little sundress, and feeling the urge to suck in my stomach because it was poking out in the dress … And then, with excitement, I realized my tummy was becoming a bump!  🙂

THEN we got the big news that our baby was a girl! During the ultrasound, Kensie wasn’t in the right position, and it was the very last thing the ultrasound tech was able to get. I remember being so tense and nervous that we weren’t going to be able to find out when the tech said “Momma, relax, we will get it. I promise.” And we did! She took a picture of her and said, “any guesses?” I said … “Girl?” and she slow typed on the screen: “it’s a …… girl!”

Of course, I cried and so did Dylan. And then we sighed with relief because we had her name picked out already (we never actually agreed on a boy name, so we were relieved it was a girl). We waited a few days to test it out, and realized we loved it. Kensington Louise: our sweetest adventure yet.

We had a wonderful baby shower, got Kensington’s nursery all ready, and patiently waited for her to arrive. A woman’s body is truly an amazing vessel. I’m so proud, amazed, and grateful for my body and its capabilities. And when Kensington finally arrived, I couldn’t have had a better experience bringing her into this world. My body had never felt stronger.

This was my last “bump” picture and I took it on her due date in front of my father’s Christmas tree. I was actually in very early labor here; my contractions were 5 minutes apart but they weren’t quite strong enough to send me to the hospital yet. My bump looks totally different … you can see how much she dropped when you compare it to just a week earlier! She was making her way out.

I loved being pregnant, but having Kensington here is a whole other blessing. I love waking up with her every morning, protecting and loving her all day, and laying her to sleep at night. She is our whole entire world.  Everyone warns you about how hard it is, how much sleep you’ll lose, how exhausted you’ll be … and don’t get me wrong, that’s all so true … but to see her smile, hear that sweet giggle, and watch her grow into herself makes all of those “warnings” irrelevant. Every single night, I thank God for her, and as cheesy as it sounds, I can’t picture life before this little baby came in and changed everything for the better.

If you’ve been following our story, then this post was probably a little redundant, and I apologize for that. But I wanted a recap, a summary, and maybe just to relive her pregnancy one more time. So if you read it, thank you. We all need to reminisce at times.

Xoxo, Sarah.

 

5 Easy Steps to Meal Plan Successfully

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My family doesn’t like to make decisions and meal planning helps us avoid time wasting conversations. It takes the What do you want for dinner? back and forth convo out of our evenings (and we used to waste a lot of time on these conversations). Now, we have a menu scheduled out at least 2 weeks at a time, and we’ve found that we really enjoy having a plan. It allows us to get right to cooking and have dinner over with earlier in the evening, leaving us more time to spend together. And now, if I ever ask my husband what he wants for dinner he looks at me and says You’re supposed to already know! We’ve gotten so used to meal planning now, we don’t want to do dinner any other way.

It also saves us a ton of money.  Before we sat down and planned our meals, we would just buy aimlessly at the grocery store and spend more than we needed. And without a plan, we would end up going out or picking up food because we wouldn’t decide on what we wanted to make, which caused us to spend more money and waste the food we bought. It was a vicious cycle but meal planning put that to an end.

Meal planning isn’t easy at first, but after a few months it becomes second nature. Sometimes now I forget how hard the beginning was, so I wanted to write a post about the first steps of meal planning. I know it’s intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! And I want to help any family out there struggling to eat at home, plan their meals, or save money on food.

So here is a step by step plan to getting organized and start meal planning today:

Step 1:  Make a list of meals!
Write a list down of 8-10 dinners that you and your family would enjoy eating. This doesn’t have to be fancy–if it’s simple spaghetti and hamburger helper, that’s okay! Be realistic in what you’re going to want to cook and what your family is going to eat, especially in your first few weeks giving meal planning a try. If you jump into complicated dishes that you don’t have experience with, you’re going to have a much harder transition into meal planning.

You also want to consider coming up with meals that use similar ingredients. For example, a lot of our meals use similar meats and veggies. We use a lot of cauliflower, ground beef, steak, chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, salads, fresh fruit and you’ll see other repeated ingredients in our meal list. This is crucial to saving money–you don’t want to waste anything! And buying in bulk will save you money, too.

So here is our list of 8 meals that we enjoy to rotate through. We eat “Paleo-ish” but this could easily give you ideas for all kinds of diets.

Steak and Cauliflower Mash
Bun-less Burgers and Sweet Potatoes
French Onion Soup (no crouton) with a Side Salad
Steak Stir-fry with Cauliflower Fried Rice
Taco Salads
Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
Bacon and Eggs with fruit
Pulled Pork BBQ with Cole Slaw

Step 2:  Figure out what meals are your quick and easy meals!
This will come in handy for when you plan meals on the busier days for your family. For us, Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes is our easiest meal, so if we have a lot to get done one night, then I can just toss it in the oven and forget it. Crockpot meals are great examples of easy meals! However, Taco Salads is our fastest meal, so this comes in handy when we get home later than usual and we want something made quick because I know I can whip it up in about 15 minutes.

You want to keep the time and effort each meal takes because you want to be successful with your meal planning. If you schedule a complicated meal on a busy day, you’re not going to feel like cooking it.  So keep that in mind when writing your list of meals. Step 2 is all about figuring out what meals work best with what days of your family’s schedule.

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Step 3: Grab that calendar and start planning!
Take it one week at a time. Match those quick meals with the late nights and the easy meals on the busy days. Then look at your next week and do the same thing.  Leave blanks for the more open days–that’s where you’ll put the more time-consuming meals. Here is an example of what our average two week plan looks like after I match up the quick and easy meals with our schedule:

M~ Dylan working late ~ Taco Salads
T~ Dylan working late ~ Bacon and Eggs with fruit
W~
R~ Laundry day ~ Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
F~
S~ Birthday party Bun-less Burgers and Sweet Potatoes
S~
M~ Dylan working late ~Taco Salads
T~
W~Dylan working late ~ Bacon and Eggs with fruit
R~ Laundry day ~ Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
F~
S~
S~ Visit family ~ Bun-less Burgers and Sweet Potatoes

Step 4: Fill in the blanks!
Take the rest of your meals (the more complicated of the bunch) and match them up with the days that are less eventful. And make sure that you don’t schedule your family to eat the same meal two days in a row (because nobody wants to do that).

M~ Dylan working late ~ Taco Salads
T~ Dylan working late ~ Bacon and Eggs with fruit
W~ Steak with Cauliflower Mash
R~ Laundry day ~ Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
F~  Steak Stir Fry with Cauliflower Fried Rice
S~ Birthday party ~ Bun-less Burgers and Sweet Potatoes
S~ French Onion Soup and side salad
M~ Dylan working late ~ Taco Salads
T~ Steak with Cauliflower Mash
W~Dylan working late ~ Bacon and Eggs with fruit
R~ Laundry day ~ Oven Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
F~ Pork BBQ and Coleslaw 
S~ Steak Stir Fry with Cauliflower Fried Rice
S~ Visit family ~ Bun-less Burgers and Sweet Potatoes

Step 5: Make a grocery list and utilize your freezer!
Make your grocery list, and make it happen. We are able to buy majority of our groceries 2-3 weeks at a time by utilizing our freezer space. We buy all our meat in bulk, separate it into portions, and pop it into the freezer. So for example, we weigh our ground beef into half pound portions so that for each meal I can just pull out what we need and defrost it to cook. Frozen fruit and veggies are also great for meal planning, and save a ton of time as well. The only thing we do make additional trips to the grocery store is fresh produce, but that’s usually only if we try to make our groceries stretch for 3 weeks.

Remember, it helps to plan meals that use similar ingredients because this will save you money and keep you from wasting food.

What about breakfast and lunch? 
Meal planning for breakfast and lunch are just as important as dinner, but tend to be a bit easier. Most people don’t mind eating the same things for breakfast and lunch each week, but having options is important to keep you out of the drive-thru line. So we plan 3-4 options for each meal to have on hand:

Breakfast: 
Oatmeal
Cheerios & bananas
Bacon and eggs

Lunch:
Grilled chicken and veggies
Chicken Salad
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Leftovers

Leftovers are huge for us as well and they can be so helpful in stretching that dollar at the grocery store. Meal prepping can help you and your family be successful with meal planning as well. I will often send my husband to work with lunch made or sometimes he will come home to make something. Whatever keeps his butt out of the Chick-fil-A drive thru makes me and our bank accounts happy.

And there you have it! Five easy, peasy steps for you and your family to be on their way to becoming meal planning pros. Meal planning has saved my family so much in time, money, and stress, and I hate that it has such a reputation of being hard because it really is simple once you get the hang of it. So don’t be intimidated and give it a try to see how much it saves your family.

Do you meal plan? What works for your family? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Xoxo, Sarah.

Baby Kensington’s first Easter basket

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My husband let out a big laugh when I told him that I wanted to create our three-month-old an Easter basket. But I was so serious! I had already given up Christmas stockings and gifts since Kensington was only two-weeks-old for her first Christmas, so I wasn’t skipping over her first Easter, too. Plus, I thought it would be so fun to build my first Easter basket as a mother. And it really was! Even though she won’t open it herself, or understand much of it, she will still use every single item I put in there. So there was no wasted money. 🙂

So whether you’re an eager first time mother like me, or perhaps you have an older child who still believes in the Easter bunny and won’t understand why the new baby didn’t get an Easter basket too, here are some ideas on what to put in your new baby’s basket that are practical and not money wasters.

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So first, get a basket! I know the dollar store carries a ton of Easter goodies, so you don’t have to spend a fortune on a big basket. This one came from Target and it was only $1.50. I loved the style and color and it was the perfect size for my sweet baby girl.

Then I started to fill it with some newborn goodies! I started with an Eric Carle newborn toy, which are some of my favorite toys for babies. This small one will be perfect for me to throw into the diaper bag and always have handy for when we’re out and about. Then I went the more boring practical route and tossed in some baby wipes, because they’re a necessity. I’ve always believed that while it’s important to give kid’s fun things they want for the holidays, it’s just as important to give them some things that they need.  So baby wipes fit that idea perfectly.

Then I tossed in a book and a matching character stuffed animal.  The bunny from Guess How Much I Love You is pretty perfect for Easter, and it’s one of my favorite children’s books. And the little bunny is something she can play with now while I read her the book. A very festive and practical choice for her basket! And pretty stinking cute.

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And then for something a little less practical and more fun! Hot pink bunny ears, compliments of Target’s dollar aisle. And you know Kensington is going to look so cute in them and that I’ll be snapping all the pictures of her … But it’s her first Easter guys! Let me have my fun, too. 🙂

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And finally, some big bows! Something she will definitely get use out of. If you aren’t into big bows, you could always use a hat or some cool sunglasses! Great for summer, which is right around the corner. Basically, you want something that the baby will get use out of.

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And that’s Kensington’s completed basket! Perfect for a newborn, without any wasted money. These ideas could even spill over into a toddler or younger children’s Easter baskets. Personally, I think these little, practical gifts are much more exciting than a whole basket of candy! And I had so much fun picking them out.

Here are some more ideas for newborn Easter baskets:

  • An Easter outfit
  • Shoes
  • Bath toys
  • Pacifiers 
  • Blankets
  • Teethers
  • Rattles 
  • Socks
  • Hats
  • Bathing suit
  • Body wash
  • Baby lotion 
  • Onesies
  • Leggings 
  • Sunglasses
  • Head bands 
  • Diapers

Did you give your baby an Easter basket? If so what did you include? I’d love to hear about it! Thanks for reading. Xoxo.

Five tips to eat more at home

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I have a lot of my friends ask how my husband and I manage to not eat out as often anymore. Especially because we live in the city, eating out, whether that be fast food, takeout, or going to a restaurant, is such a convenience. I totally get that. Making every meal at home takes a lot of time, preparation, and energy; I totally understand why people pick up food for a lot of their meals.

My husband and I used to be those people. We didn’t like to stay in and cook because it took too much time and we wouldn’t really like what we would fix when we stayed in. We were addicted to the convenience of eating out and, of course, the taste of it. We had our “usuals” at our favorite restaurants, and we always wanted them. We’d go through spells of “Doesn’t this restaurant sound so good right now? And then, even if we had plenty of food at home, we’d go out to eat simply because we had cravings.

But now if we do decide to go out to eat, we can never decide where we want to go because none of it sounds as good. We’ve gotten so used to our own cooking, we actually like to stay in and make our own meals now.

So how did we get here?

Well, a financial hardship. We HAD to start eating every meal at home because we were pregnant and we weren’t making enough money to eat out and prepare for our baby. I had to sit down and figure out what our cheapest meals were, what my picky husband would actually eat every week, and how much we could save to put towards baby necessities. Even though there were only two of us to feed, we could feed ourselves much, much cheaper at home than by eating out, even with fast food.

I would never wish a financial hardship on my worst enemy, especially when children are involved. I was so scared we wouldn’t be able to provide for our baby. It was damn good motivation to eat at home–and because of it, we’ve discovered how many benefits there are to eating at home. And I want to share them with everyone. I want everyone to understand the value of eating in, making your own food, and putting the money saved in other places, like a savings account. Our bodies feel so much better than they did when we ate out all the time AND our bank accounts look so much better too.

So here are 5 tips I have that helped us stop eating out routinely:

  1. MEAL PLAN.  I cannot stress this one enough. I sit down with our family calendar and figure out what we will be having for dinner two-three weeks in advanced. If we have a lot going on during the week, we will have simple and quick dinners. Not so busy nights is when we make the meals that take a little longer. Once you make a plan, you will no longer have those dreadful, back and forth conversations of “What do you want?” “I don’t know what do you want?” until it’s 8 o’clock and “too late to cook.” I’ve been there. I completely understand how frustrating it is and it’s 100% why we meal plan. When Dylan asks me what is for dinner, I know exactly what we’re having. It gives our dinner time structure–we no longer waste time with “I don’t care, you pick.
  2. Find the right recipes. This was very important for me because I have the pickiest husband to ever exist (I’m not kidding … I’d break down how picky he is, but it’s probably it’s own post at this point). But, I had to find the right recipes that he would enjoy eating at home and eating often. Of course we have those meals that are pretty basic dinners, but we also have meals that he gets really excited about. Sometimes he even lets out a big Yesssss! when I tell him what we’re having, which is exactly what he would’ve done when we finally decided on his going out to eat at his favorite restaurant. Now, he gets excited about the meals we make together. Find the right recipes–the ones that will make your family excited to eat– and stick with what works.
  3. Try new recipes. Of course, find the right recipes, but also try new ones. The same menu over and over again gets boring. We try to aim for three new recipes a month. That way, if it’s a total bust, we don’t waste too much money. This is where a lot of my friends go wrong with meal planning: they try too many new recipes that they don’t like and then they feel like they wasted money on the meal. Don’t go overboard with trying new things (if you’ve never made lasagna don’t make it your first week meal planning). Save the new recipes for when you need a change of pace. You’ll be more inspired and excited to make it, anyways.
  4. Recreate your favorite restaurant’s dishes. When Dylan and I first started eating at home, this especially came in handy. If I was craving something from a restaurant (like fried pickles… yum!), Dylan would look up a recipe and we’d make them at home for much, much cheaper. Same for him: he loves a BBQ chicken wrap from Red Robin, so we make a similar one at home for dinner. This will help you fight those cravings while not messing up your meal plan. Plus, they’ll give you great new recipe ideas!
  5. Remember why you started. This is important because there will be times when one person wants to go out and can easily convince the other they should. This is usually me and Dylan is the one to say “We don’t need to.” “We can’t afford to.” Whatever your motivation is to eat at home, write it down and remember it in moment when one of you feels the urge to order takeout. Dylan and I spent the first two years of our relationship eating out too much … breaking the habit is hard but it’s important to remember why and where you started.

These are a few of the things that we have done to break our habit of eating out. Now eating out is a treat for us; something we do for an occasional date night, when visiting family, or special events. I love that eating out is special again. It was, at one point in our relationship, a normal thing. But now eating at home is our normal and eating out is a treat. We save money, we spend more time together cooking ourselves, and we eat more healthily with our meals at home. It’s an all around win-win, and I hope this post has helped any families who struggle with eating out, taking out, or picking up fast food too often.

What’s worked for your family? I’d love to hear about it! Thank you for reading. XOXO.

Our Top 10 Newborn Items

Our little Kensington will be THREE MONTHS this week, and therefore, she will be exiting the “newborn” phase of her life … So in order for me to accept how fast this little babe is growing, I wanted to share some of our favorite baby items that we have used from 0-3 months old! This is our first baby, so we definitely overdid it on the baby gear, but this list is comprised of the things we couldn’t make it by without! The necessities, if you will.

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#1: HALO® Bassinest® Swivel Sleeper: This is the best bassinet ever! I love how close I can keep my baby without having her in the bed. All night she is just an arm’s length away and I love it. Plus, the swivel aspect makes it so easy for me to get in and out of bed without the bassinet being in the way. I can swivel her slowly and smoothly and she won’t wake up. We were very lucky that my sister let us borrow hers because it’s definitely a little pricey, but after having it for the past 3 months, I really couldn’t imagine getting through all the late nights without it. And now that we have entered the stage of her spitting out her pacifier over and over and over again before she finally falls asleep, having her so close makes it SO much easier.

Totally recommend it! Here it is at Target.

#2: SwaddleMe blankets: These velcro swaddle blankets are so great! We only use them at night and Kensington loves it.  It has definitely helped our bedtime routine run smoother and it has helped her sleep longer stretches.  The velcro makes swaddling SO much easier. Dylan is definitely the professional swaddler in our house, but the velcro is so easy that even I can swaddle baby K, and she hardly ever breaks out of it!  This is definitely something we will be using with future kids.

 Here is the link to the SwaddleMe blankets, in the style that we chose.

#3: Cloth Diapers:  We’re still in a bit of a financial hardship (from what I hear, this never ends when you have kids … trying to get used to it) and so cloth diapering has been a money and life saver. I was honestly so scared to start (because let’s be honest, it’s pretty intimidating) but now that we’ve gotten the hang of it, I am so relieved that we aren’t out buying box after box of diapers like we were when Kensington was first born. I plan on doing a more in depth post about this later on, so stay tuned. If you have ever thought about trying out cloth diapers, don’t be intimidated by it. They have been amazing! And what a fortune we’re saving. Plus, they’re pretty damn cute.

We use mostly Alva Baby cloth diapers and we ordered them from Amazon.

#4: Our Sleep Sheep: For some reason, Kensington LOVES the most obnoxious of lullabies and even though our sweet little Sleep Sheep has so many other sounds like the ocean, a heartbeat, birds chirping … Kensington loves Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. So we listen to that one lullaby, over and over and over again … EVERY night … But hey, it’s doing its job, which is to soothe our little babe, so I can only complain so much. We use Mr. Sheepie every night. I feel like it helps Kensington to know that it’s bedtime and not nap time. She seems to settle down as soon as we turn it on. It’s been great.

They make other kinds of singing stuffed animals, but come on how cute is this sheep?

#5: Our Pack N Play: Since Dylan’s parents live about 2 hours away, we try to travel down to visit as often as we can. Our Pack N Play has been a life safer for us. I was worried that Kensington wouldn’t like it or would have trouble sleeping in it, but she seriously sleeps just as well as she does in her bassinet. And when we’re not traveling with it, we keep it set up in our living room for a quick go-to nap spot downstairs. It also has a place to store some toys underneath the hanging bassinet. It’s definitely been a great baby item.

There are lots of styles to choose from, but we picked out this Pack N Play!

#6: Our Swing: My sister graciously gave us the swing she used with her two boys (and also wrote an adorable blog post on the impact of said swing … Read it here). The swing has three little bears in its mobile, and I have no idea what it is about them but Kensington is obsessed with them. She seriously can go hours just staring at them … I’ve been jokingly calling her Goldilocks with her three bears.  Whenever she starts to get sort of fussy, we strap her in and she calms down. I’ve even caught her laughing at them. I’m so sad and scared for when she gets too big for a swing or when it no longer captures her attention the way it does now because it really is the cutest thing.

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My sister got this swing back in 2013, but don’t worry it’s still available here.  And how cute are those bears y’all?

#7: Boon GRASS Countertop Drying Rack:  Okay, so this one is definitely a bit of a luxury (a simple drying mat will do just fine) BUT this one is particularly nice because the bottles never, ever fall over. The water also drips down into a convenient tray that allows for easy cleaning. It makes for a great place for pump parts to dry (as well as keep them all in one place because holy moly why are there so many pieces to that thing?!). Even though I mainly nurse and give Kensington usually only one bottle a day, we still use this little thing every single day.

It looks pretty good on your countertop too! See here.

#8: Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘N Play Sleeper: Now, Kensington has never slept overnight in this little contraption but she takes plenty of naps in it! I love how light weight it is and how easy it is to move around the house. She seems super comfy in it and I love that I can have her as close to me as possible.  If I’m sitting on the couch, she’s an arms-length away. If I’m cooking in the kitchen, I can position it in the hall so that I can still see what she’s up to. And! It folds up super tightly so that we can travel with it or move it out of the way really easily. Definitely a good choice!

We got ours from my sister Angie and it has a super cute sheep theme! But of course, I can’t find it online … here’s a link to another one similar.

#9: Boppy Nursing Pillow: Even if you know you are not going to breastfeed, this pillow is AMAZING. It makes holding her easier, nursing her easier, propping her up easier… It’s just an all around awesome pillow that grows with baby.  They make a ton of different ones, but I would recommend getting a simple “naked” boppy pillow and buying a cover to go over it. Yes, this is more expensive, but we’ve had some spit up & other messes already happen to our pillow and it is so much easier to remove the cover and wash it versus the whole pillow.

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Here’s the link to the “Naked” Boppy: click!

#10: Baby Trend Expedition FX Jogging Stroller: This stroller was on Dylan’s big “wish list” for the baby. He wanted the bicycle tires in the jogging style so that we could easily push her in not so easy places, like trails, gravel, and whatever else we bump into. I remember we were in Babies R Us looking at strollers and he kept getting so excited about all the places we could take our baby girl and how much easier it would be with that stroller. So even though it was a wee bit more expensive, I caved and agreed to the jogger. And it has been awesome! It’s a smooth ride for her and I’m comfortable pushing her at the park, on trails, and in grass or gravel. Definitely recommended!

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We went with the yellow jogger, you know, in case we have a baby boy in our future.

And that’s ten! These are the items we use the most as first time parents in the first three months of our baby’s life! Do you have any items on your list that didn’t make mine? I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks for reading. Xoxo.

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Getting married without my mother: how I made it through

Last April, I was lucky enough to marry a wonderful man who understands me, supports me, and makes me the happiest person in the world. While our wedding was absolutely perfect (read all about it here) there was definitely a big missing part of our big day: my beautiful mother.

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My mother passed away from lung cancer when I was 22. It was the hardest year of my life, and even then I knew it would come with an even harder future as I pictured all the things she would be missing from. My wedding was always the first thing that came to mind. The mother-of-the-bride is a significant part of the whole wedding process, from planning to the bridal shower to the big day itself. How would I ever make it through the whole event without her?

But how do you get through anything with a deceased parent? You push through that stinging pain in your heart and get it done. One day at a time. Even three years later.

I knew the best way for me to not be overwhelmed with her absence was to embrace it head on and not to ignore it. So when Dylan and I were finalizing a date and my parent’s wedding anniversary fell perfectly on a Saturday, I knew that was the perfect time. Since Mom had passed, we had spent every anniversary with my father so that he didn’t feel alone. And when I asked him if Dylan and I could use the date, he said of course. He thought it was a great way to honor their marriage and said that Mom would’ve loved it. I thought so too.

Another way I embraced her absence was by honoring her on the day of. We, of course, had a memory table for all of our lost loved ones, but I also carried her wedding and engagement rings on my bouquet. It was nice to have a piece of her so close to me throughout the entire day: from walking down the aisle, to saying my vows, to stuffing my face with donuts, and dancing all night. Having those rings with me reminded me that she was with me, even if she wasn’t physically here.

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These are all things that I would advise any motherless bride to do. Look on Pinterest, find the right way to honor her, and do it. But know that it isn’t gong to be enough. Nothing will. There will definitely still be trigger moments throughout the planning, rehearsing, and actual day that will leave you in puddles of tears and constantly asking yourself why me, why my mother. 

These triggers come out of nowhere, but don’t fight them. If you’ve lost a parent, you know that holding in that stinging pain leads to all-of-a-sudden, uncontrollable breakdowns on birthdays, deathdays, holidays, Tuesdays, and they  always to happen at the most inconvenient time. Be prepared for the triggers, the meltdowns, and the tears and let them happen. They’re going to happen anyways.

Finding the perfect dress was a trigger for me. Growing up, my mother was always the one who found the most unique and stylish clothes for my sister and I. Whether it was a new skirt or putting black hair dye in my blonde hair, she always supported and encouraged our new ideas. So when I had to apply this encouragement to finding my wedding dress, I froze. I couldn’t decide what kind of dress I wanted and I probably tried on over 50 different dresses. My mother found her wedding dress at a second-hand store so I knew she would tell me that I was overthinking the whole thing, and I would’ve given anything to have her here to tell me that. Not having her opinion was definitely a trigger I battled.

Don’t worry, I did eventually get it together and found a great dress that I absolutely love.

Another trigger for me was at the beginning of our wedding ceremony. I was already crying–it is such an emotional moment to see the love of your life waiting for you at the end of the aisle–so it was a fitting moment to be triggered. Our pastor, Phillip, asked my father the traditional: “Who gives this woman to this man?” And he answered: “Her mother and I.” It was so simple, yet such a sweet way to include her into the moment. I know my father felt the pain of her absence too… She was supposed to be waiting for him in the front row and they were supposed to “give me away” together. But with my father’s four simple words… they did give me away together. I loved it and it still makes me cry to this day.

Although the triggers will probably make you shed unhappy tears on your wedding day, it won’t take away from the immense happiness you will also feel when you marry the love of your life. Though my wedding was nothing like I pictured without my mother, it was still one of the happiest days of my life.  And the best advice I can give to anyone going through the same thing is to cry those tears, feel that sting in your heart, let yourself embrace that pain… and then soak up as much of your day with your spouse, your family, and your friends as you can. Because if anyone in this world knows how short life really is, it’s the ones who have lost the someone who was most dearest to their heart.  It’s the motherless bride.

So don’t look back and see who was missing, as hard as that will be. Look back and remember what you gained: a spouse that will love you and support you throughout all your future triggered moments.

 

Kensie Lou Update: 2 Months

How on earth is my baby girl TWO MONTHS old now? It seems like just yesterday she made her arrival, and now she’s a smiling, head-lifting, adorable two-month old. Time really does run faster when you have a kid.

I wanted to start keeping an update (I’m thinking every 2 months) on not only Kensington’s milestones, but also on our experience as new parents. And even though it has only been a few months, we have learned, experienced, and laughed about so much already. The late nights, early mornings, and serious exhaustion is enough to drive anyone crazy but I want to remember as much of these days as possible.

So our sweet girl currently weighs 9 lbs 13 oz and is 22 & 1/4 inches long.  She loves smiling at us, can hold her head up SO well, and is super close to rolling from her tummy to her back. She is still nursing like a pro and eats every 3 hours, except at night where she’ll go much longer stretches.  Right now, Kensington gets up about once a night. We put her down about 9 PM and she’ll wake up usually around 4 AM to nurse and then goes right back down and sleeps until about 8 AM. She’s been doing this for the past 4 weeks so hopefully she doesn’t regress anytime soon!  She’s been in cloth diapers for over a month now. We’ve really enjoyed that process so far (more to come later) and my gosh, they’re so stinking cute! She’s currently wearing size 3 month clothes, but I can still squeeze her little legs into some newborn leggings. She’s got the craziest hair that we cannot tame, and she doesn’t seem to mind the obnoxiously large bows I keep putting on her.  She’s been an easy going, adorable, perfect little babe so far. We absolutely love watching her grow!

 

Five things we’ve learned about parenting:

Breastfeeding is HARD:  It’s painful, frustrating, and resentful, especially those first few weeks. I had a very painful let down those first few weeks, where my whole body would ache. My nipples were raw, my breasts ached, and Kensington was nursing for about 20 minutes every 2 hours. I was exhausted and so was Dylan (who was a champ and got up with me every single time). But after those first, very long 10 days or so, it got a little easier and less painful. And now I absolutely love nursing our baby girl.  I am so amazed with my body each and every time I put her into a little milk coma and every single second of struggle I experienced those first few weeks were so worth it.

To thank our own parents: At one point in your life you were completely helpless.  You couldn’t do anything and somebody helped you do everything.  Kensington relies on us for everything–to feed her, to monitor her health, to bathe her, to comfort her, to love her–and at one point Dylan and I both relied on our parents for everything. I think we’ve both really gained a ton of appreciation for our own parents now that we have our own child to care for.

Routines are everything: Really though, our only routine right now is bedtime, but we’re sticklers for it: bath, nurse, swaddle, paci, sleep sheep, lights off. And for the most part, Kensington goes right down and stays down. We’ve been very blessed to have a really great sleeping baby (though she still has time to flip on us) but I really do think our routine helps her understand nighttime versus daytime.

Parenting is a lot of trial and error: We definitely have our days where we shuffle through a whole list of things to try to calm Kensie. Try the swing. Try bouncing her. Try gripe water.  Some things work for her and some things don’t. Now that she’s 2 months old, we definitely have good tricks up our sleeves for what works to calm her down and what doesn’t, but a lot of that first month was just trying anything and everything to help her.

We are so unbelievably satisfied by the weirdest things: I never thought that having a tiny human burp in my face would be so fulfilling. Nor did I think having a gassy baby finally pass the gas (even if it’s right on me) make me so happy.  I’ve never laughed so hard when she’s peed on Dylan, or pooped on the bed, or licked my arm.  There’s nothing this baby can do to me that won’t make me the happiest momma in this world. It’s seriously the best thing ever.

Five of our favorite moments with Kensington:

Our first family photo session: Our favorite photographer ever, Molly Scott Photo, took Kensington’s newborn photos and did lifestyle family photos with us as well.  I cannot be more thankful to have these photos of our little family, especially because they were taken in Kensington’s nursery.  I spent so much time putting her room together (read all about it here) and to have our first family pictures taken in her nursery makes my heart so happy.

The Holidays: Kensington was born into the busiest month of all, but we didn’t let that keep us from having a great holiday season. We spent Christmas in Richmond because Dylan had to work the day after, and we spent the New Year in Virginia Beach. And even though Kensington couldn’t have slept more through these holidays, I’m grateful to have been able to have her with us this past Christmas and New Year.  Also, how cute is our nephew, Finley, is one of our family pictures?

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First time being fed from a bottle:  We waited until three weeks to introduce Kensington to a bottle, and she did awesome with it. We try to give her a bottle of breast milk a day so that she won’t become a little nipple snob, and she does fight us at times, but usually she sucks it right down. I loved seeing Dylan feed his daughter for the first time; it was such a special moment for him.

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First Reactive smile:  Now this is not a picture of her first reactive smile because when it happened all I could do was stare and smile and cry because it was THAT amazing. But finally I caught it on camera for us to stare and smile and cry over years from now. Baby smiles are greater than life.

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January Snow:  Dylan and I both love winter time and snow, so we had a blast bundling Kensington up and carrying her out into the mini-blizzard for a whopping 5 minutes. She really couldn’t have cared less, but her huge snowsuit made it all worth it. She looked so funny! I can’t wait until next year’s snow when she can play in it with us.

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*Bonus: First trip to the beach: So this is a bonus because I’m not really counting it as her first time to the beach since she didn’t even get out of the stroller, but she loved strolling up and down the boardwalk with us and her grandparents. She was bug-eyed the whole time taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells. This summer when it’s warmer we’ll have her real first trip. Hopefully she likes the sand and water!

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Five things Kensington loves:

Good Mornings: This baby girl is her happiest right after she nurses in the morning. She gives us big, gummy smiles and it’s the best way to start our days.  I caught the adorableness on video; click here to watch it.  She might be an early bird like me and not a night owl like her dad. Time will tell!

Stretching:  Goodness, when this baby stretches my heart explodes into a million pieces. She just looks so cute, sweet, and like a real little human.  AND she does it after every single nap. Both of those arms go up and she does her full body stretch.

Bath time: So these next few pictures are going to be a bit misleading because for some reason, Kensie was NOT a fan of her first bath. However, ever since, she has done really well. She doesn’t ever cry and in fact lately it appears as if she might be starting to enjoy bath time, especially having water poured on her big belly.  Hopefully this will continue!

Car rides:   Whenever Kensington is in the car, she is a sleeping beauty.  She sleeps through our shopping trips, date nights (really our one date night … let’s be honest we can’t afford to eat out right now), and Target runs because the car puts her to sleep before we even get to our destination.  She hasn’t been a super fussy baby (yet) but it’s nice to know that if she ever is we can just pop her in the back seat and go for a little drive.

Our dog:  I spent a lot of time worrying about how Marvel was going to react to Kensington while I was pregnant, but he has really surprised me.  He gives Kensie just the right amount of attention: a little kiss here and there, but then gives her space. Kensington loves to have her hand rubbed on his fur, and she definitely likes watching his tail wag! We’ll see how Marvel is doing when Kensie is mobile and playing with more toys…

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Well, now that the first two months have flown by… I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be working on her four month update (or at least it feels like I’ll be doing it tomorrow). As much as we’re loving watching our Kensington grow, it’s still always going to be too fast.