Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Taco Tuesday!

We love Chipotle. It is so sad that we haven't lived near one in the last 6 years. It's true, when we take trips, we always stop at Chipotle if we're near one. One positive of our upcoming move is the fact that we will be within an hour's drive from one! Woohoo! Another positive is that without Chipotle in our lives, it has forced me to find items to make my own yummy creation at home...which was a very good thing! The following is one incredible taco, and I'd put it up against a Chipotle burrito any day. For real. This recipe may look a bit intimidating with all of the ingredients, but it really isn't difficult, and doesn't have to be time-consuming either. If you want to save a good deal of time, I've found a good alternative to making my own tortillas. Kroger sells a package of tortillas in their refrigerated section that aren't cooked, but already formed, so all you need to do is quickly cook them. They are almost as good as homemade, and I've used them several times to save myself some precious minutes. :)

Orange Dijon Pork Tacos
(serves 4 people)

  • Flour tortillas (see recipe here)
  • Shredded orange Dijon pork
    • 1-2 lb pork tenderloin
    • 3 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
    • 6 oz Dijon mustard
    • 2/3 cup orange juice
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Cilantro lime rice
    • 1 3/4 cups water
    • Dash of salt
    • 3 tsp vegetable oil
    • 1 cup jasmine rice
    • 1 Tbsp lime juice, or the juice of 1/2 lime
    • 3-4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sautéed veggies
    • 2 red bell peppers
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
To save time getting dinner to the table later, I make my pork in my crockpot. You can alternatively marinade, then grill, the pork tenderloin, but it's also really good after cooking it all day in the slow cooker, and it's much easier, too. So, to begin, just place the pork in the crockpot and sprinkle evenly with the Cajun seasoning. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, orange juice and Worcestershire sauce. Pour this mixture over the seasoned pork and set it to cook for 4-6 hours on high, or 8-10 hours on low. When it's done, you should be able to easily shred it with 2 forks and it is ready to go!!

To begin prep before dinner, make your flour tortillas first. See the link above for how to prepare these. They are really good when warm, so I try to make mine while preparing the other items, but if you want, you can have them completed before starting the other items.

Next, get your rice going. Add 1 tsp of oil to the water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow it to cook until all of the water has evaporated. I follow the package directions, which calls for 10-15 minutes. Once it is finished, add the remaining oil, the lime juice and cilantro and mix well.

While the rice is cooking, slice your bell peppers and onion into thin strips. Heat a sauté pan to medium heat, add the EVOO, and once warm, add your veggies. Sauté the veggies until they are softened, about 10-15 minutes.

That's it! Now it's time to prepare your tacos. Layer the shredded pork, rice, veggies and cheese on your tortilla, roll it up and enjoy! :)

I promise you will love this one!! What's better than Taco Tuesday, right? I'm sure all of your little Lego Movie fans will agree. ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

To Everything There is a Season

It's been three years. Three years since Josh started working for Eastman and we (Josh, Ethan, Noah and I) made the move north, from our beautiful Georgia home, to an apartment in Tennessee. Three years prior to that, we took the plunge and moved south, from our cozy home in Kentucky to an apartment in Alabama, and eventually that house in Georgia. At that time we had no kids, but Ethan was born a mere 4 weeks after we moved into our house there. Noah was also born while we lived in Georgia, but just six months before making the move to Tennessee. While here, we've added one more child to the mix and surprise...it's time to move again now!

No babies born this year, so it wouldn't be much of a Christmas newsletter without a move! ;) Haha!

Josh is scheduled to start his new position as Manager, Speciality Films Development (still with Eastman - not a new company this time!), early next month in Virginia, but we're not planning to join him there until after Christmas. We'd like for Ethan to be able to finish out the calendar year at his school that he loves so much, and figured January would be a good starting point for a new school. We hope that it won't be too hard on him, but fortunately, he's still young. The move will be a good one for our family and Josh's career. So, here we go again!

In other news, we weren't planning on expanding our family quite so soon, but we have nonetheless. We'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, Lego.

One of Josh's co-workers approached him about a month ago, wondering if we'd be interested in adopting her boxer. She knew we had recently lost our beloved Daisy, but knew what a wonderful life we had given her, and wanted the same for her girl. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, she was no longer able to keep her. So, after taking a "test run" if you will, with her for a week, we decided it was meant to be. We will be her forever family. Her official name was Stella Lego, but they called her Lego (yep, she has a 6-year-old son who suggested that one!), so we decided to stick with Lego, but give her a new middle name to represent our time here in TN. Lego Gray. :) Perfect!

She is a beautiful, smart boxer, just like our Daisy was. Still a pup, she's excitable, playful, and a little bit crazy, but extremely loving with an incredibly sweet demeanor. She already loves cuddling and taking walks with us. We think she'll fit right in here.

So, as usual, we like to make lots of big life changes all at once. New job, move, and new member of the family. The seasons of our lives just keep turn, turn, turning...happy fall y'all!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Amos is ONE!

Age of Baby: 12 months

Size of Baby:
  • Weight: 18 lbs 9 oz (down to the 3rd percentile), +6 oz from last month
  • Length: 29.75 inches (up to the 49th percentile), +0.75 inch from last month
  • Head circumference: 46 cm (up to the 30th percentile)
  • Height-to-Weight ratio: down to less than the 3rd percentile
Amos is still wearing a size 3 diaper and mostly 12-month clothes. He is wearing a size 4 shoe now!

  • Hib
  • Hepatitis A
  • Chickenpox
  • Influenza
Doctor's Visit Summary:

His visit went well this month. At the one-year check, they also do a finger stick for blood to check lead and iron levels. His were great - yay! He did really well when they stuck his finger, but wasn't a fan of them squeezing it to get the blood. :/ His doctor said he looked great and is ahead of the curve developmentally, so I guess we're good! He said that safety concerns are the main thing to watch for now. Definitely a must with this one! I finally installed safety gates at the bottom of the stairs on the main level and basement last night. I never had to do that with the other two, but this little guy is C-R-A-Z-Y!! Haha!

Picture of Baby:

Here is Amos's 12-month picture in the 12-month onesie. Hard to believe an entire year has passed! He still doesn't have much hair, but what he has is blond. His eyes have settled into a beautiful hazel color. :)

And here is a comparison of all three of the boys at twelve months, just for fun. Ethan and Noah were quite a bit bigger at this point (Ethan was 31 inches long and weighed 20 lbs 11 oz and Noah was 30.5 inches long and weighed exactly 20 lbs!), but I'm sure Amos will go through a growth spurt soon. I think Amos is a pretty good mix of his brothers, but may resemble Ethan a bit more?

Ethan, Noah, and Amos (each at 12 months)

And now for a fun look back at Amos this past year...

Accomplishments this Month:
  • Walking with ease
  • First haircut!
  • Climbing
He started the month still pretty wobbly, but by the end of the month, he is zooming across rooms now! He's tried to run on occasion (mostly to keep up with his big brothers!), but he's not quite coordinated enough for that yet! LOL! He isn't far off though.

We're learning by the third child! Haha! Since the other two had crazy hair (aka mullets and hair sticking up everywhere) for their first birthday pictures and parties, we decided to rectify that and Josh cut Amos's hair before those events this time. :) Note the one super long strand (hanging to the right in the first pic and Josh holding it in the last pic). It's been really long since he was born, so I think it was ready to be cut. ;)

So here is the before...

...and then the after!

Such a handsome young man! It's always hard for me seeing those first bits of hair come off, but at least he wasn't losing any precious curls like big brother Noah did with his first haircut! He appears to have mine and Ethan's thin,

This boy loves to climb. The stairs. The back of the couch. Pretty much anything he can try to climb. The stairs have to be gated, or he'll take off up them the moment he gets the chance! He knows he's not supposed to because you'll hear him start to laugh insanely as he does it, and he picks up the pace when he sees me start to come get him! LOL! Such an ornery booger!

New Foods tried this Month:
  • Calamari
  • Spinach and arugula
  • Peanut butter
  • Hummus
  • Chocolate cake
  • Whole milk
  • Chicken livers
Amos continues to be our very adventurous eater. He will try literally everything you put in front of him. If he doesn't like it, he tends to start tossing the pieces of it over the side of his highchair. LOL! But, there isn't much that he doesn't like, so that's a good thing! :) I've also continued to nurse him every 3-4 hours during the day (around 7:15 am, 10:45 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm) for around 5-10 minutes. Yay, we made it one year! He isn't showing signs of wanting to wean, so we'll keep it up as long as he wants to for now. Granted my body has not been entirely my own since October of 2010 now (yeah, FOUR straight years of being either pregnant or nursing!!), I'll hang in there. I got a break between Ethan and Noah, but none between Noah and Amos! I tried giving him some whole milk in a straw cup last week and surprisingly, he did really well with it! It took a couple weeks for Ethan and Noah to warm up to the idea of cow's milk, so I couldn't believe Amos took to it right away! He did make a face at first, but continued to drink it, so that was good!

Amos is finally sleeping better again! Woohoo! He still occasionally wakes at night, but has slept through the night more nights than he hasn't lately. Whew. He is averaging around 12.25 hours of sleep a day (10.25 hours at night and 2 hours during the day) and is still going to bed around 8 pm, and sleeping until between 7 and 7:30 am. He is still taking his 2-3 hour nap in the late morning.

And here is his final year one summary. :)

Happy 1st Birthday, little Amos! We love you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School!

It's the beginning of August and I have both of my big boys back to school now!!


Ethan started kindergarten (!!!!) back in July at a nearby year-round "school of choice." It's a math and science signature school - perfect for our little future engineer! We were extremely lucky that he was picked in the lottery for one of just 18 slots (from a field of ~300+ applicants). He has been loving his classes, which makes us happy, too! It's been an adjustment for all of us moving their schedule and going all day without a nap for him (as you can see in the pic below - some days he needs to catch some winks on the drive home)! ;) It's definitely a commitment with the commute to school, but it hasn't been too bad. Before the other schools were back in session, it was a pretty easy drive. With the increased traffic now, we've had to take an alternate back-roads route which has added some time to the commute, but it's a 25+ minutes well-spent.
Ethan has been busy at school learning all kinds of new things already, including Chinese (!!!), all about the 5 senses, handwriting, reading/recognizing and spelling words, working on the computers, about being responsible and respectful, and the pledge of allegiance... :)

He also really likes Fridays. He gets to do his "show and tell" every week on Fridays, along with buy an ice cream treat in the cafeteria. ;) He's always sure to remind me when it's Friday, so I remember to put his money in his lunchbox! LOL! It should be a fun year of school for him and we're excited to see how much he'll learn and grow this year as a kindergartener! We've already attended his open house where we were able to meet all of his teachers and see some of what he's been doing already this year!

Kindergarten open house (showing us his handwriting book, picture he painted, bulletin board pic of him working on engineering project, pic with the school sign, and his pictionary book)

Noah started preschool on Thursday. This is his 2nd year going to a local church preschool program for two days/week. He had a good time last year and was very excited to be returning this year. :) This year the school is offering extended care, during which time they can take a nap, have a snack and play a little longer with their friends. We decided to do this since it would work better with our new schedule this year. Instead of being done at 1:30 like last year, he'll stay until 3:30 pm. Since I have to pick Ethan up at 3, I didn't want to have to try to kill 1.5 hours with Amos and (most likely) a very tired Noah. This also allows Amos to get a full nap at the house, too, instead of needing to wake him up early to be able to pick Noah up! So, I'd call that a win-win-win! :) So, Noah is supposed to take his nap at school, which unfortunately didn't happen his first day, as he passed out nearly immediately in the car. Haha! Hopefully this week he will nap without a problem, once he gets used to it all.

He has grown so much since last year, when he still clung to me, and didn't always want to leave the van in the morning. This year, he's ready to play, and has no problems leaving me! :/ It's crazy how fast they grow up and are ready to go out into the world!! Sigh. I hope he'll be able to make some good friends this year and enjoy his time playing with other kids his age. The downside to having an older brother is that he is normally taking orders from Ethan all the time at home, so I hope he'll get a chance to do some of the leading at school for a change! ;)

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any directions you choose." -- Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Amos is Eleven Months Old!

Age of Baby: 11 months

Size of Baby:
  • Weight: 18 lbs 3 oz (up to the 4th percentile), +13 oz from last month
  • Length: 29 inches (up to the 41st percentile), +1 inch from last month
  • Head circumference: not measured
  • Height-to-Weight ratio: down to the 3rd-10th percentile
Amos is still wearing a size 3 diaper and mostly 9-12 month, or 12-month, clothes. He still wears a size 3 shoe.


None this month.

Doctor's Visit Summary:

No visit this month.

Picture of Baby:

Here is Amos's 11-month picture in the 12-month onesie. I can't believe he will be turning one next month. Seriously, where did this past year go?!?

And here is a comparison of all three of the boys at eleven months, just for fun. Ethan and Noah were still bigger at this point (Ethan was 29 inches long and weighed 19 lbs 8 oz and Noah was 29.5 inches long and weighed 19 lbs 6 oz), but Amos is definitely gaining on them now.

Ethan, Noah, and Amos (each at 11 months)

Accomplishments this Month:
  • Walking!!
  • Waving
  • First road trip with Mommy
  • Ordered his first kid's meal
Our little man has recently taken his first steps!! He finally got brave enough to let go and keep moving instead of just standing. He's quickly picking it up and it won't be long before he's a pro!

I swear he must still be teething, as I can't keep anything out of that boy's mouth!! As you can see, plastic containers aren't safe. Neither are door hinges, cabinet handles, fireplace doors, phone chargers, Legos, cars, the smallest toys he can find, etc. Seriously. There is nothing that boy won't try to chew on! :/ I currently promote heavy usage of the paci, mainly to discourage other items from making their way into his mouth!! Sigh.

Amos has started to wave back when people wave at him. He's always smiling and flirting whenever we are out. The boy loves an audience! And wow, does he look like quite the big boy standing up there next to Noah!! :'/ Even though this is the 3rd time we've been through this stage, it still never ceases to amaze me how fast they grow and change!

Amos was a great little traveler last month when I made a trip to Ohio to see my mom after her heart surgery. The big boys stayed home with Daddy (and had lots of fun of their own!), but Amos had to come with me. Thankfully, he was a better-than-usual sleeper for the car rides and at night, while we were there! While there, I ordered him his first meal all to himself, too! We normally share from our plate, or from his big brothers, so this was new for him. And for the record, he ate his entire pancake. ;)

New Foods tried this Month:
  • Fish
  • Okra
Amos has settled into an eating routine now. For breakfast, he eats Cheerios, and sometimes a banana. For lunch, he has some peas and corn, a couple slices of turkey, 1/2 slice of bread and 1/2 slice of cheese. For dinner, he eats whatever we are eating, and lots of it! I've also continued to nurse him every 3-4 hours during the day (around 7:15 am, 10:45 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm, and at some point during the night) for around 5-10 minutes.

Amos had yet another rough month in the sleep department. He slept through the night just 3 nights during the past 30 days. Sigh. Fortunately, he is at least averaging around 12.5 hours of sleep a day (10.5 hours at night and 2 hours during the day). He is now going to bed around 8 pm, and sleeping until between 7 and 7:30 am. He has started taking his nap in the morning again. Due to the earlier wakeup (everyone's schedule has been adjusted due to Ethan starting kindergarten in July!), he is ready to nap earlier than he had been. So, he usually naps from around 11 am until 1 or 2 pm. He is normally very ready for bed at his earlier bedtime now as a result!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Noah's Firetruck Birthday Party

Now that I've updated you about Noah's 3rd year, it's time to talk about the party!! When I asked Noah what he wanted for his birthday party theme this year, he told me he wanted firetrucks. Well, firetrucks and Darth Vader, so we settled for firetrucks. ;) So, away I went planning an adorable red, yellow and aqua firetruck-themed party for my little guy. First on the agenda, the invitations. I love including photos of the birthday boy on the invites, so I thought, what better way to do this than to have Noah driving the truck?! :)

I was so happy with how they turned out! I wanted to create a more vintage-inspired design for the truck itself, and I like how this one came together. It had to have a dog, because well, my boys love dogs! Instead of printing on the back of them, I decided to mount them on red card stock. As a plain white invite, I thought they might look nice with a bit more color around them, as well as how sturdy they become with the added layer. I also wanted the water from the hose to stand out more, so I hand-painted the aqua water splashes with aqua (on the lighter color) and clear (on the darker color) acrylic paint on each invite. It gave it a nice texture as well.

After the invitations were mailed, I started brainstorming (aka, browsing Pinterest) ideas for the party. To decorate the house, I bought some red, goldenrod yellow and aqua latex balloons (inflated with helium and hi-float) at the local party supply store. For this party, I also bought a silver "3" and a generic firetruck balloon. I made a custom banner that read "Happy 3rd Birthday Noah" using the same firetruck/color theme.

Here's an example of the banner letters, close-up. I used dark gray yarn to string together the pendants. It worked well and looked great!

For the party favors, I bought plain white paper bags with handles (from Michaels) and added personalized tags with each child's name and picture to them. Inside the bags, I added a firetruck coloring book and red firetruck crayons that I made (I bought this chocolate mold and these red crayons, melted the crayons down, poured them in the mold, and voila, red firetruck crayons!). For a themed "snack" I bought individually wrapped white Lifesavers and packaged those in clear, plastic bags and topped them with favor tags (reading "Thanks for coming! You're a real LIFESAVER!"). To help decorate the room, I set the bags on our bookshelves and tied a balloon to each one, and set a firetruck hat on top of each bag. I personalized these for each child as well with their names, along with personalized fire chief stickers that they could wear. I also set out a jar of the Lifesaver mints for all of the party guests. :)

This year, I made a cake and cupcakes for the party. I didn't want to attempt any elaborate decorating of the cupcakes on the day of the party, so I made cupcake toppers (coordinating with the banner and invite elements) to stick in the simple, white-frosted, vanilla cupcakes that I baked that morning. I purchased these cute white cupcake liners from Michaels. For the cake, I made my favorite vanilla sheet cake recipe in two 8" round pans. I tried a new recipe for an icing that I found here. To decorate the cake, I used Wilton's color flow icing to trace the firetruck to place on top. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. ;) All of the plates, bowls, napkins and utensils were purchased at our local party store.

I found a recipe for a gorgeous golden yellow punch here. I roughly followed it, using 1.5 large (46 oz) cans of pineapple juice, a 2 liter bottle of Sprite, 2 cups of Country Time lemonade mix and 2 cups of cold water. I topped it with some slices of lemon as garnish. The flavor was delicious and the color was perfect! For those who didn't want punch, I also provided bottles of water personalized with labels I made. I bought the cute, 3-gallon drink dispenser at Walmart last summer. I had the aqua straws leftover from his party last year, and added some red ones that I found at Michaels.

For the dinner menu, I chose:
  • HOT dogs (100% all-beef hot dogs)
  • BBQ pulled pork sandwiches (pulled pork tenderloin with Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce)
  • SMOKEHOUSE baked beans
  • RAGIN' CAJUN macaroni (macaroni pasta with a Cajun-seasoned cream sauce)
  • FIERY fruit (strawberries, oranges, pineapple)
  • MATCHSTICK carrots (carrots with ranch dressing)
  • FLAMING Jell-o (layers of raspberry, mango and lemon)
  • BLAZING cheese dip (jalapeño queso with blue and yellow corn chips)
  • SMOKIN' s'more pops (marshmallows coated in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs)
I wanted the food to go with the party theme, which is why I chose what I did. Thanks to my mom, dad, and sister for helping me get all of the food ready, as usual! I also did a small ice cream topping bar to top the homemade vanilla ice cream that my dad makes. Sooooo good!!

Here are some pics of the birthday boy enjoying his day!! :) His firetruck outfit (how lucky I was to find it in coordinating colors, too!) was purchased at Kohl's.

The final item to take care of was the thank you notes. I started with a flat 4" x 6" card, but decided to go with a folded 3.5" x 5" card instead. Plenty of room for a sweet thank you for friends and family!

I wanted to try something new for address labels, so I made a "wrapped label" that puts the return address on the back, and the mailing address on the front. They're cute and fun! :)

Because who doesn't love getting something sweet in the mail instead of bills? ;) It was an adorable, fun party for a little guy who loves firetrucks!!

Happy 3rd Birthday to our tiny man!

All items you see above are available for customization and purchase through my business page, kreations by kristy. You can also find me on Facebook and Etsy.