Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours! An appropriate card for this year, as our days are filled with much peace, joy and love with our two little boys. :)

Here is our letter for the on the pic to see a slightly larger, more legible version! :)

We enjoyed a quiet Christmas at home here in Georgia this year. With our big move scheduled for next week, we felt it would be easier to stick around here then spend the week on the road visiting with our families. With all of the time Josh has spent traveling to and from TN lately, it will be a nice break for him to get to relax for the week.

We spent our Christmas Eve doing the things we traditionally do, which includes making Christmas cut out cookies and watching 24 hours of A Christmas Story on TBS. We were able to get a big smile out of Ethan here with the promise of more cookie dough. Like mother, like son! ;) haha!

Once the boys were in bed, it was time to get to wrapping! Of course, Santa forgot to check how much Scotch tape he had left, so we ran out around 12:30 am. Awesome. Fortunately, the packing tape came in handy as a substitute!

Though Ethan woke up Christmas morning excitedly saying, "Race cars? Race cars?" he was in no hurry as he snoozed way past 10 am. I have a feeling we probably won't get the luxury of sleeping in next year or for many more years to come, but it was nice while it lasted.

Ethan was very excited Christmas morning to come downstairs to a bunch of presents piled under the tree. Amazingly, we convinced him to pose for a picture before beginning to open everything.

Quite the expert this year, he enjoyed helping Daisy, Noah, Daddy and Mommy all open up theirs too! :) He was super excited about adding another 20 cars to collection!

Even Noah got in on the action and did a pretty decent job at tearing the paper off his presents too. :)

Later, Daddy helped Ethan set up his new race track. Santa definitely knew what this little boy wanted for Christmas! ;)

We enjoyed our traditional Santa-cakes for brunch. Here's Ethan pointing out the "reindeer poo" in his. hehe ;)

We spent the day relaxing, playing with new toys and watching movies. It was a fun day for everyone! We hope that you had a wonderful Christmas spent with your families and have a blessed, happy new year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Noah is Five Months Old!

It's time to update what Noah has been up to lately! First up, his stats. He weighed in this month at 16 lbs, 6 oz (50th to 75th percentile), which means he gained just 14 ounces. It is hard to believe his gain was slow again, since he was still nursing around the clock this past month! He grew just 3/4-inch to measure up at 26.5 inches (75th to 90th percentile). This puts him right at the 50th percentile for height-to-weight ratio, so I guess that makes him a normal, healthy baby boy? ;)

Below is the pic of Noah at five months, wearing the 12-month onesie. I know it's hard to tell in this pic, but he is actually starting to get some hair! Woohoo! It is super light and fine, so he still looks like a baldie until you get really close-up and see the fuzz. ;) Love it! He hasn't lost any of his cute, chubby rolls yet and his blue eyes are still hanging in there too.

Unlike his big brother's early eating adventures, we haven't progressed much with the solid foods yet for Noah. We let him get his first taste of rice cereal at four months old, but since then he hasn't been eating it on a regular basis yet. Perhaps that is the reason for the slower weight gain? It's mostly my fault because I haven't been doing a great job at making sure he gets it every day. In my defense, I have found it to be much harder to do by myself with another kid demanding my attention too, and Daddy is normally the cereal guy! Also making it difficult is the fact that he is not a big fan of it when mixed with formula (which Ethan had no problem with). Sigh. Hopefully he will warm up to it at some point to make it a bit easier on me!

New accomplishments this month:
  • Puts his pacifier in his mouth by himself
  • Rolls all over the place
  • Almost able to sit up by himself, but his head is still a bit too heavy ;)
  • Recognizes and responds to his name
  • Big, hearty laughs

He continued to struggle in the sleep department this past month, going for 2- to 3-hour stretches all night most nights. So, we decided it may be time to implement some sleep training...for both of us! The one problem with using a baby monitor is that I hear everything. Anytime he would begin to stir, I would wake up and go to his room to feed him like clockwork. He never had to cry when he was hungry because he never had the chance to get that worked up! So...we decided it was time to turn the volume off on the monitor. Yep. That was a hard one for a control freak like me! But it has turned out to be most helpful! Now, when he does wake at night, he actually has to cry, loud enough for me to hear him down the hall before I will go into his room. Sometimes I let him go for a few minutes (watching him on the video), then he stops and goes back to sleep. Awesome! We are teaching him to put himself back to sleep. I know some think it's cruel, but I think it's necessary for all of us. He doesn't have the physical need to eat that often during the night now. He has doubled his birth weight, which is supposed to indicate that he should be physically able to sleep through the night. So, that is what we're trying to accomplish. So far it seems to be going quite well! He gave me his longest stretch yet just this week - 9 hrs 45 min! Awesome!! I had put him down at 8:15 pm and he made it all the way until 6 am without me hearing a peep! He has been giving me some 6 hour stretches again too most nights since we started as well. Ahhh, loving it! He still takes a morning nap of around 30 minutes to an hour, a longer afternoon nap of around 1 to 3 hours and occasionally takes an evening nap of around 30 minutes.

I love that he seems to be a happier baby now too. In the past, I couldn't set him down for more than a minute without the threat of him throwing a tantrum until he was picked back up. Now, he is able to entertain himself (which usually involves eating his toes, haha) and he really enjoys when Ethan is nearby and he can watch/"play" with him! Ethan has been such a great help at keeping Noah entertained at the dinner table by pulling his high chair close to him and giving him toys to play with or just his attention. Noah loves it and I love Ethan for being so great with him! He is a super big brother and has really grown up these past few months!

Here is a pic of Ethan at 5 months with Noah's pic. Ethan looks like such a booger in this pic! Noah is not quite the ham that his big brother was/is, but still a cutie! ;) I love these little guys!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Comfort Food for a Rainy Day

Today was the perfect day for some yummy comfort food. It was a cold, wet day in Georgia, so we warmed things up inside with an all-time favorite that even Ethan gobbles up every time - tomato soup and grilled cheese. I have changed things up a bit though from how I ate it as a kid. Don't get me wrong, I still like American cheese on wheat sandwich bread with condensed tomato soup. I grew up on it! But, I have found a way to make it a bit more fancy...perfect for a nice family meal and even one that I would serve to company! :)

I recently discovered Campbell's Select Zesty Tomato Bisque soup. I love that it has nice, big chunks of tomato in it and some great seasoning to give it that zesty kick it needs. To perfect it, I add a bit of heavy whipping cream (probably 1/8 - 1/4 cup per can) to it while it is heating on the stovetop. It gives it a great creamy texture and richness. Once I dish it into the bowl, I add a sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese to the top. It looks pretty and tastes yummy too. There's no such thing as too much cheese in a meal, right?

For my grilled cheese sandwiches, I like using Publix's white mountain bread, which can be found fresh in their bakery. It is incredible. I will definitely shed a few tears when I have to leave Publix behind for our move north. :'( I am hoping they continue to open new stores in TN, as they can only be found in the Chattanooga area right now. I generously butter each slice of bread. For Ethan's sandwich, I use good old American cheese because he likes it. For the adults, I use asiago cheese, sliced fresh in the deli. I love asiago cheese. Side note: We don't usually eat fast food much, but with all the traveling we have done in the last few months, we have had our share of it. My absolute favorite right now is Wendy's asiago ranch chicken sandwich. So tasty! Anyway...for my sandwiches, I get two thick slices of cheese for each sandwich. When it melts, it melds together the two pieces of bread perfectly. I use a grill pan on the stovetop to cook my sandwiches and give them those perfect grill marks. The sandwich is absolutely heavenly with the smooth, mild, gooey, creamy cheese sandwiched between the crisp, buttery pieces of bread. Yuuuuuum. The perfect comfort meal for today! Notice how ooey, gooey that cheese is! :)

Even Ethan's little meal was looking yummy! :)

To top it all off, Ethan and I decided to make dessert earlier in the day. I love double chocolate Ghirardelli brownies. I have blogged about them in the past. They really don't need anything extra to make them delicious, but there is one thing that can make chocolate even better...peanut butter. Oh yes. I decided to make a peanut butter cream cheese icing to put on top of the brownies to kick them up a notch. :) To make the icing, I used about 2 ounces of cream cheese (softened in the microwave for 1 minute on 50% power), about 1/4 - 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, about 1/4 cup granulated sugar and a splash of milk to thin it out some. I didn't actually measure anything, but just added stuff until I got something that tasted good. :) I mixed everything together until it was the consistency that I wanted. When it was time to eat them, I spread some of the icing on each brownie individually. Heaven.

What's your favorite comfort food on a cold, rainy day?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Time to Give Thanks

Our Thanksgiving didn't go quite as we had planned this year. The boys, Daisy and I decided to join Josh in Tennessee for the short work week to check out a few more potential houses and also check out the apartment complex that Josh would be moving into this month. We were then planning to head back to Georgia to spend four restful days together at the house. It has been hard on Josh making the 5+ hour trek from TN back to GA every weekend to spend time with us, so we were looking forward to the break. Everything changed suddenly when I got the call on Monday morning from my mom that my Grandpa Frank had passed away Sunday night. Though it wasn't a complete surprise, as he hadn't been doing great since he had broken his hip and was staying in a nursing home, it was still not a phone call I wanted to get. The calling hours and funeral were set for Friday and Saturday, so with Josh working until Wednesday, we decided to go straight to Ohio once he was done. We made a pit stop at Josh's parents' house on Wednesday night to spend Thanksgiving Day with Josh's parents, his youngest brother, Aaron, and his daughter, Braelynn. That evening we made the drive farther north to my parents' house. It was a rough weekend to get through, but we had a beautiful military funeral for him, as he was a WWII veteran. It was nice to get to see all of my cousins, something I hadn't had the chance to do in years, though it wasn't the best circumstances. Here is a pic of all seven of us with our children. Not too bad for 11 little ones (eight of them 4 and under)! Apparently something fun was going on to the right since more than half of us are looking that direction! haha! Shout out to my sis for clothing my children. We didn't exactly have funeral attire with us, so thanks to cousin Jacob for letting the boys wear his old clothes!

Below are two of my favorite pictures I have of my Grandpa, from our wedding in 2005. Though you can't see his face, I love the expression on my face. You can tell he is giving me a hard time in the first picture, as he was known to do. In the next, you can see the emotion on my face, as I was so thankful that he was there to see me get married. At 83 years old at that time, you don't take anything for granted!

We spent Friday and Saturday with my family, then decided to make the trip home that evening. We had discovered on Wednesday night that Noah travels best at night, when he is sleeping! By the time we left it was getting late, so we decided to travel just part of the way, to the apartment in Tennessee. We got in late and got a few hours of sleep before waking up to travel the rest of the way home. The trip went well that evening with Noah sleeping almost the entire way. The rest of the trip home the next day was definitely not so pleasant. Sigh.

Josh had taken Monday off of work as a bereavement day and decided to take Tuesday off too since we still had so much we wanted to accomplish around the house that weekend. We decided to go ahead and make our Thanksgiving dinner on Monday since I had already purchased a turkey and all the fixings before we had left town the previous weekend. I started with the stuffing, preparing it the way my dad has always done it. It's a simple recipe, but when roasted inside the turkey, it tastes amazing and is always my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal! You start be melting two sticks of butter in a big pan, then you chop up some onion and celery and cook this in the butter. Once these are tender, add in 3 cups of bread crumbs and coat them in the butter mixture. Put all of this into a big bowl and mix in 6 more cups of bread crumbs, sage, salt, pepper and thyme, coating everything evenly. This is then ready to be stuffed inside the turkey. I had purchased a small 8-pound turkey since it was just three of us that would be eating, so not all of the stuffing fit inside. I kept the turkey simple, just rubbing it with butter and seasoning it with salt and pepper. I roasted it in a bag, which I think keeps the meat nice and moist. In addition to the turkey and stuffing, I made a corn souffle (1 can corn, 1 can creamed corn, 1 box corn muffin mix, 2 eggs - mix and bake at 350 for 45 min), green bean casserole (directions can be found on the French Fried Onion container), mashed potatoes, gravy (using the turkey juices, flour and milk, of course!), and Josh's favorite, a pumpkin pie (directions on the pumpkin puree can for the filling and I make my crust like my Momma does, using flour, shortening, water and salt). I was quite busy in the kitchen that day! And yes, we eat on our fine china for Thanksgiving. It's fun and makes it feel even more special. :) Everything was delicious and given that there was enough food for a small army, we had leftovers for a week!

As we did last year, we decided to decorate the Christmas tree after eating our Thanksgiving dinner. With our living situation in limbo this year, we weren't originally sure if we were even going to put up a tree. Once it was decided we would move after Christmas though, we wanted to decorate our house here in Georgia one more time. It was fun this year, as Ethan understands a lot more than he did his previous two Christmases. He helped Daddy decorate the tree, which to him meant throwing the tinsel at the tree, haha! Awesome.

Oh well, in the end it looked nice. :)

Definitely one of the busier Thanksgiving weekends we have ever had. We have so much to be thankful for again this year...but especially for the addition of another adorable little guy to our clan and for a new job that will allow us to spend more time together as a family. We are incredibly fortunate that Josh continues to find many opportunities in this hard economic time. We will be especially thankful to all be living together again soon!