Holiday Cheer 2014 {3} - Santa sightings!

I was really excited for Owen to meet Santa for the first time this year. Last year, when he was super duper tiny, cuddly and only three weeks old, he was asleep the entire time!

This year, Owen got to visit Mr. and Mrs. Clause twice and as it turns out, I was way more excited about it than he. Owen very rarely makes scared or is afraid to be held by someone. Apparently, Santa is one of those people that simply freaks him out.

The first visit was at the Strawberry Point Library and he was all like "Grandma! What are you trying to do to me? Don't make me do it!"

He then seemed to tolerate Santa for a hot second while Santa gave him his free book.

I was able to snap one decent, only slightly blurry photo. I count that as a win!

The second visit was a little more traumatic and involved some tears. Santa had a planned visit to daycare last Thursday but I knew once Owen woke up, the visit likely wouldn't go well. He doesn't often wake up super fussy, but this was one of those days. It was really nice to join Owen during his first half hour at daycare. I got to see how well he eats and plays with all his buddies.

When it came time to visit Santa, Owen did well watching all the other babies sit on Santa's lap. Though when it came time for Owen's turn and we walked up, his grip definitely tightened and the freak out began. I tried setting him down but he was NOT having it. I was able to sit next to Owen while the daycare director snapped a photo for me.


Holiday Cheer 2014 {2} - Tasty Treats!

Part two of spreading holiday cheer MUST include some tasty treats! Christmas is simply not Christmas without some goodies!

There has been a recipe I've been meaning to share for OVER A YEAR. Gspice always has a potluck at work near the holidays so I decided to make something super festive. If you are in need of a quick, simple and adorable holiday treat, this is a MUST!

Santa Hat Pretzels

*Mini Twist Pretzels
*White Chocolate Almond Bark
*Red Sanding Sugar (I sent Gspice to grab the ingredients for me and this really confused him. It's the colored sugar with the rest of the sprinkles!)
*Mini Marshmallows

Melt the white chocolate almond bark according to the directions on the package.

Dip each mini twist pretzel halfway into the melted white chocolate almond bark.

Dip each almond bark covered pretzel into the red sanding sugar until only a small amount of the almond bark is showing. Place on waxed paper.

Cut the mini marshmallows in half. Use additional melted almond bark to adhere a mini marshmallow half onto the side of each pretzel. Allow time for the almond bark to set.


This year included lots of cookies! I thought it might be fun to have a cookie swap with my family in early December. I got really excited and made a fun invitation for it as well. Suffice it to say we had our fair share of cookies for awhile :)

I'd share the recipe I used for the sugar cookies I made but really, they were nothing special and don't look even remotely close to what sugar cookies should look like!

I then attempted another cookie swap the very next day with some Decorah gals. Unfortunately, both my boys were feeling a bit under the weather so it became a very weird and wonky day to try and finish baking off six dozen cookies. I ended up getting them all made but only after the swap had already taken place! Oops! I'm a little bummed out because the cookies I made were so darn delicious. I don't make cookies or bake often so this was a huge win for me :) Also a bummer, I forgot to take a picture of them!

Chocolate Crinkles

1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c powdered sugar for coating

via All Recipes
In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. Coat each ball in powdered sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.


Holiday Cheer 2014 {1} - My favorite holiday tunes!

If you follow me on Instagram then you know I don't have anything out for Christmas. The only thing you could remotely call "holiday decor" is the adorable penguin throw I personally use when I sleep.

To prove that I'm not a total Grinch, I decided to spread a little  holiday cheer on the blog. You'll see a few different posts over the next few days that I hope will spread some joy during such a lovely time of year!

My latest Christmas song obsession is most definitely Pentatonix. When no one else is around, I play this song OVER and OVER (and over again)!

Here are some others I've been listening to a lot these days :)


The Bump II {6} - Recap: 24-28 weeks

Energy & Motivation
I have no idea where the time has gone. I have a groggy memory of the past four (now officially five) weeks, due to pregnancy for sure but also lots of activity. Owen turned O-N-E, lots of sickness between the three of us, doctor visits, Thanksgiving, one successful cookie swap, another cookie swap attempted, meeting Santa.....you name it. I blinked and am now at 29 weeks! I am entering the uncomfortable stage a tad sooner this time around so let's hope I can keep blinking the time away (but only when I am severely uncomfortable!) It seems as soon as I posted that I had finally come back to life and was excited to get a lot accomplished, my energy and motivation disappeared. But let's be real, life with a busy busy one-year-old, a full-time job and all that activity during this time zapped it all up. I'm hoping that after the holidays I feel some nesting tendencies because there really is a lot I'd like to do before baby #2 arrives!

Ramen Noodles. That's all that really needs to be said. Sure, I still like sweets but I certainly don't crave it like I did with Owen. Chocolate has always been a weak spot for me so that's what I've been having tons of lately too.

Pregnancy Symptoms
I have low iron levels but I have (until past 28 weeks) been weary of taking any iron supplements. I'm not a huge fan of the potential side affects so I simply didn't take one often. I traded the possibility of those side affects with feeling miserable. Nice trade-off, huh? I'm not talking super uncomfortable miserable, but a serious lack of energy, exhaustion, rapid heartbeats, shortness of breath and a lack of concentration. My advice, just take the supplement! I also began having slight heartburn but definitely not like I did with Owen. It is pretty subtle and I've only had to take Tums a couple times. However, I seem to feel it more when I'm not lying down. Weird.

I don't recall if Owen was this active but my goodness, baby #2 is a mover! I feel him at all hours of the day. He seems to react or wake up most when I eat or move (or flop around all night long!) but also at random times too. What's interesting is after reading my 24-28 week update with Owen, I think babe #2 is positioned the exact same way! I think his head is down on my left side as I feel more hiccup-like movements there and his hands near my belly button. I don't have the rib pain like I did with Owen but I'm sure now that I said it, rib pain will commence. I see most powerful jabs or kicks near the upper right side. During times that I'm feeling like I have trouble concentrating, this is one thing I love feeling. I'll zone right in and just wait for another kick or punch.

Bump Update
I have definitely POPPED. I thought I was huge with Owen but no, no, no. This is definitely bigger! I'm still getting a lot of sympathy giggles and looks of surprise and up until now that was okay. I may just be feeling super grumpy but be kind to your short pregnant friends (or that random short pregnant person you see on the street or in a store). We already know what we look and feel like! And no touching! I'm growing more and more protective as the bump grows so keep the hands off for your own protection. I might bite :) I've packed on a few more pounds but I'm still about 11 pounds under my final weight with Owen. My goal has been to not exceed that amount (though I will not be upset if I do) and it seems like that is attainable!


The Bump II {5} - Must Haves for Baby #2!

I thought it might be nice to share a few items we plan to buy for our next baby boy. There are a lot of things we'll be able to reuse but also a lot we won't because they will be too close in age (only 15.5 months apart!) or because we'll have babe #2 in our room for a few months. That means we'll need to buy double of some items, but really, it's not as bad as I thought it might be. After baby #2 moves in with Owen, we'll be able to sell most of them. And after doing some thinking and searching, I've come up with a few items I'd like to replace too.


Fisher-Price Piano Gym, Kick and Play - we have an activity gym that Owen loved but I would like to replace it with the piano gym. It will provide more developmental joy as our next baby boy kicks and wears himself out :)

Stork Craft Convertible Crib - we have one of these for Owen and really like it! Because it's a convertible crib, the one Owen uses now is the one he'll use when he graduates to a big boy bed too. Of course, we'll also need another mattress, waterproof crib pad, crib sheet and crib liner. We put Owen in his crib from the very beginning and we plan to do that with our next babe too.

Trash Can - out with the diaper genie and in with a more practical purchase. This just makes so much more sense for the future use of the trash can. When our babes are out of diapers, we'll no longer use the genie we have and because it only kinda works (the lid is a struggle to fully close and latch), it may be a hard sell.

Video Monitor - we actually bought this for use with Owen but never set it up. I knew that when we added another to the nursery and when Owen goes to a big boy bed, I'd like to be able to see what's going on so that's why we never returned it. I just need to find a good spot for it!

TwoGiggles 5-year Baby Album - this is one of my absolute favorite baby items I have for Owen so I most definitely ordered one for baby #2. (View Owen's baby book!) His has lime green stripes and baby #2 will look like the image above.

Munchkin Bottle and Nipple Brush - we have a bottle brush now but it needs to be replaced. I've seen good things about this one and I feel like the sponge on top will provide a better way to clean the inside of the bottle more efficiently.

Fisher-Price Booster Seat - we have a perfectly good high chair now but I'd like something more mobile. The one we currently have takes up a lot of room in our small space and with two babies needing to be fed, the booster seats (one for each boy) will be more practical.

Waterproof bibs - After going through one messy baby, I've determined that these waterproof bibs are fantastic. I don't like to do laundry often if I can help it so being able to rinse them off is super nice. I'd like to get rid of most of my other bibs so we'll be buying a few sets of new waterproof bibs.

Graco DuoGlidder Classic Connect Stroller - We decided on this stroller after seriously considering buying a much more expensive side-by-side option, the Baby Jogger 2012 City Mini Double Stroller. I was pretty sold on the side-by-side aspect and that pretty much took over. But with the Baby Jogger, you have to buy all the accessories separately so it came out to be reaaaalllllly expensive. So in came the more economical but still very good Graco tandem option, of which Gary is a fan. We'll need to buy the coordinating car seat as well. (I'll admit, I'm sad we'll be saying goodbye to our Chicco Keyfit 30, so if you know of anyone who needs one [in a different style but still blue], we'll be selling it soon! It expires in 2017, in great condition and has never been in an accident. Comes with the stroller and car seat/accessories)


I Love You Night Light - this is just too cute not to want. I always felt Owen's room was too dark in the middle of the night so this will be nice to use if we decide to actually buy it.

Personalized Double-Sided Blanket - oh how adorable! I'd love for each of our boys to have their own blanket in gray with their names spelled in lowercase cursive. They are a bit on the expensive side so not sure if we'll splurge for this wish list item!


Owen's Baby Book

TwoGiggles and OddPrints = best sites to work with for Owen's baby book!

I worked really hard this past month to update Owen's baby book that I ordered from TwoGiggles on Etsy. It might seem expensive at $90 but it includes pregnancy through the fifth birthday and is super adorable. With Owen's first birthday approaching, I felt compelled to at least work on it a little in early November because I was a bit behind. I was keeping up well with the blogging side of the updates but definitely not his baby book. I had to go back to about five months so I'm soooo glad the blogs were there because it was a huge help in adding notes and little tidbits from the past seven months!

That was the easy part - then came deciding on photos. I have too many and like way too many of them to put just one or two on the photo pages. So, here comes my plug for Oddprints.com. I LOVE this site. OddPrints allows you to create custom-sized prints and either have them print it out (for a price) and send it to you or download them (for free) to your computer so you can print them yourself. Once I determined how many photos I wanted to use for each month, I went to work saving each photo to the correct sizes. I opted to download them and print from Walmart. You better believe I ordered them online to utilize Ebates :) They print out in whatever size makes sense. This is a 4x6 (yes, I needed teeny tiny photos - like 1.4" x 1.4":

The guide marks make it so simple to cut out. Then walaaah. You've got yourself the room to add in a ton of photos! I was able to make a max of 15 work on a page. I'm definitely free-forming these so it's not perfect but I don't mind!

Here are a few of the pages so you can get a feel for the style. There are a lot of photos - you can see them bigger by clicking on them. Enjoy :)

As you can tell, I still have a little to catch up on but that'll come soon enough. I'm working on gathering photos from family and phones so it's a process. My goal is to have his book up-to-date by the end of January. My other goal is to have his baby brother's up-to-date before he arrives too! Yep - we've picked a name and I already have his in hand :)


Little Mr. {12 Months} !!!

If you can believe it our little mister is officially 12 months old!

On October 16 we saw Owen take his first few steps. I suspect he'd been doing it already at daycare but it was the first time we'd seen it at home. It was sooooo cute and we could see the confidence in his face. After a few weeks a few steps and tumbles turned in to lots of steps and even his ability to turn around without falling! I can only imagine how quickly he'll start to run around. Hopefully that waits until after the first week of March! Not sure I can keep up with him with a huge baby bump in the way! I doubt I'll be so lucky :)

Owen is beginning to really like his touch and feel books. He's becoming not so much of a fan of diaper and clothing changes and this is one way we get him to calm down and relax. He loves to turn the pages and knows immediately where to touch. Babies are so smart! We've got work to do about biting books though...Owen still loves to bite and chew on just about everything!

Owen got a sixth tooth on October 19, the upper right central incisor. It's crazy to see a mouth full of teeth! Near the end of his 11th month, I noticed a more drippy nose so we'll see if another one pops out soon.

The best I could do! You can see three of the four top teeth :)

The week before Halloween, we got a call from Daycare. Owen got a few small blisters on his hands and they suspected it to be Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease. It's a common contagious viral infection and simply needs to mend on its own. Sunflower requires a doctor visit before a child can return. Unfortunately, a common symptom is a fever so Owen needed to stay home for three days. Luckily for us, his symptoms were pretty mild. Some cases get pretty uncomfortable. Owen just had those few blisters, a fever, slight malaise and a lack of interest in taking a bottle because it hurt to suck on anything. He was eating everything else just fine so we opted to feed him quite a bit more with fluids than normal. He also slept really well during the day. We don't often see the three hour nap! The symptoms cleared up pretty quickly and I'd say he was back to normal after a week or so. Easy peasy. Until I got sick the next week...

We've definitely entered the messy table food adventure! Owen was always pretty interested in what we were eating and probably could have gotten to the table food sooner than we introduced it. He's able to pick or scoop up the little chunks we give him pretty well and is getting better and better about actually getting the food into his mouth. He sometimes thinks he got it in there and will start to chew but we can easily see the food is still in his hands or stuck on his face. It's pretty adorable. He's had bananas, peas, carrots, bread, cheerios, puffs, fish, turkey, chicken, mild cheddar and provolone cheeses.

We managed to wait to get Owen's haircut until November 8 but silly me only requested a trim. What was I thinking? If we didn't get it cut again soon, we'd be back at the barber within a month! So we opted to get it cut again on November 15, bright and early at 8:15 a.m. That's what happens when you put your husband in charge of setting up the appointment :) I typically don't get up OR shower that early on a Saturday! Regardless of the time, I'm glad we were able to get him in again. The haircut makes him look so grown up!

Owen is a pretty tiny mister weighing in under 20 lbs. I'm going to do some research to see what types of food he should eat to help plump him up! It's so weird though to think he's gained 11 lbs since birth! He had four shots and a blood draw for this 12-month appointment today and so far, he's doing really well. Lucky for daddy who got to stay home with him today, Owen napped for 3.5 hours :)

12-Month Appointment (11/25/2014) 
Weight: 18 lb 11 oz
Height: 29 3/8 in

9-Month Appointment (8/25/2014)
Weight: 17 lb 6 oz
Height: 27 3/4 in

6-Month Appointment (5/19/2014)
Weight: 15 lb 8 oz
Height: 26 inches

4-Month Appointment (3/18/2014)
Weight: 13 lb 1 oz
Height: 25 1/2 in

3-Month-Mommy-wants-a-weight-check Appointment (2/18/2014)
Weight: 11 lb 5 oz
Height: 24 in

2-Month Appointment (1/14/2014)
Weight: 10 lb 9 oz
Height: 22 7/8 in

2-Week Appointment (12/2/2013)
Weight: 7 lb 12 oz
Height: 21 in

Newborn (11/16/2013)                  
Weight: 7 lb 9 oz           
Height: 20 1/4 in

Catch up on Owen's First Year!


What's for Dinner {31} - Kale Parsley Pesto (without nuts!)

Why did I wait so long to post this recipe? I have absolutely no clue! This is one I shared via instragram more than once and should have put up immediately because it was a huge hit for me this summer. I actually first made a spinach version but decided to use kale for a couple of reasons. It's better for you in some respects and it was more plentiful at the farmer's market. Done and done. One caution - mine didn't turn out super creamy like some pestos which was just fine for me.

Though I'm not 100% certain this is the exact recipe I based my own on, this is a good start to any type of pesto. Choose your green, then the herb, (preferred nut if you wish), and then add in the rest of the ingredients for your perfect pesto!

Kale Parsley Pesto (without nuts!) adapted from the Spinach Basil Pesto by Two Peas and their Pod

4 cups kale,
2 cups flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon

Place the kale, parsley, garlic, garlic, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Turn on the machine and blend for 30 seconds. Slowly stream in the olive oil while the machine is running. Process until smooth.

Serve with pasta, veggies, chicken, fish, as a spread, etc. Store the pesto in a jar or container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. This pesto also freezes well. Enjoy!

Note-if you like a thinner pesto you can add a little more olive oil.

I attempted a couple of times to freeze the pesto but without a ton of luck. If you eat it soon, I'd suggest keeping it in your fridge. I don't tend to eat it all that often so decided to freeze them in little bits wrapped in foil. I'd simply put them in the microwave for a few seconds and then put them in whatever I was cooking - roma tomatoes and/or shrimp. Well on more than one occasion I failed to cook it properly. I think once it got too hot it lost a lot of moisture. It just stuck to the noodles and became inedible pretty quickly. I either need the pesto to be a bit more creamy or be more careful when cooking it. I also read somewhere that to freeze it without the cheese may be wise as well.


Little Mr. {1st Birthday Recap}

Owen's birthday came and went by soooooo incredibly fast! It's hard to believe that just a year ago, we were spending our few couple of days at home with a teeny tiny newborn, scared out of our minds. We've all come a long way in 365 days and what better way to celebrate than with a fun and easy birthday party for the family!

It took us a little bit to figure out and agree on what theme to use but I decided on a simple monster theme for a few different reasons. One - it's not too difficult to come up with monster themed items - the silverware container, the sandwiches, the cake. Two - it was simple enough for a one year old to enjoy. I didn't want to use a theme that an older child would like or would get into a bit more (like a painting or italian themed party!) Owen is our little monster so it was a perfect fit :) I created the invite using PicMonkey.com.

I created a pretty simple menu for the birthday bash. I knew I wanted monster sandwiches and those were made with turkey or ham and either provolone or mild cheddar with green olives for eyes. We left out condiments for people to use as well. For sides I made a garlic lovers pasta salad using a store recipe so I am not going to share it for the masses. I do suggest you try it though so you can get it at Oneota Co-op in Decorah! We also had a simple veggie tray along with the punch and water. One day I will need to post the punch recipes. It's my favorite! Luckily for us, I bought way too much of the sandwich ingredients, made way too much of the pasta salad and bought twice as much punch ingredients that we're practically celebrating his birthday every single day this week!

Owen wasn't all that interested in opening the presents after the first couple so he let his Daddy take care of that while he tried out some of the new toys. I think the favorites of the evening were the chair my dad made, the lawnmower (thanks, Drew, for putting it together!) and the little hammer that's meant for an xylophone. Surprise, surprise - he could stick it in his mouth :) My guess is that if we had put together some of his other toys that those would have be huge hits as well. Right now, he's loving the noise making hammer and the little tambourine though he's using them both more as chew toys right now. Just this morning though, Owen kept reaching over to me with the tambourine in his hand because he knew that I'd shake it for him while he held on. He'll get the hang of it soon enough!

I asked a Luther student to make Owen's birthday cake. I could have created it myself but I'm not too confident even using a boxed cake. Somehow I would have managed to messed it up. Thank goodness I left this job to someone else because it turned out so darn adorable! Owen wasn't too shy but didn't really smash the cake either. He got quite of bit of frosting but I helped crumble the cake for him. Fearing a massive sugar high and subsequent crash, I took the cake and crumbles away after five minutes or so. We had monster cupcakes for everyone else. Note to self - have small plates for the dessert! They can get a little messy :)

Thank you for our immediate families for making Owen's First Birthday so special!