Tuesday, September 28, 2010

fun in Louisville

Recently I picked up one of Louisville's magazines called "Leo Weekly" which awards local businesses with the "Reader's Choice" awards each year for the best in various categories... I'll share a bit of it here, with my own reviews! One of the things I love about Matt is his willingness to explore with me, and venture into new things just to check them out. Growing up, my family often went out on the weekends to see new things, or revisit old favorites - we weren't really ever "home bodies" that I remember. Now I've become much more of a homebody at times, which is a good thing I think but even still getting out of the house is just what I need sometimes. I flipped through these lists and marked the things we'd already enjoyed, and also circled new places we haven't been... it'll provide a go to list for future fun!

We've enjoyed:
~the Speed Art Museum (#2 on Best Art Gallery, #1 on Best Museum)... it's FREE which is wonderful, not too big and not too small which provides just the right amount of art perusing for me and also showcases a variety of art from different times

~the Frazier International History Museum (#2 on Best Museum)... not free, but worth a trip at least once, we've visited with our families more times than I can count :) Matt's dad and brother especially enjoyed it as did my step-dad and step-brother, while it's called "international history" it mostly means international war and gun displays! I like the knight's armor that's on display and also the free re-enactments of various historical events that are available during the day

~the Kentucky Derby Festival (#1 on Best Annual Festival) which begins with the huge Thunder Over Louisville fireworks display! it's been such fun to go with friends and pack a little picnic meal to enjoy before the fireworks... we also checked out the Balloon Glow one year, and have visited the Chow Wagon (tons of food vendors all set up in one place)

~the St. James Court Art Show (#2 on Best Annual Festival) which is the BEST and BIGGEST art show I've ever been to... I think that's saying something since I was drug to my fair share of them in Kansas City growing up with my dad (the Westport Art Show, Brookside Art Show, Plaza Art Show, and even one in Colorado on vacation one year!) I didn't enjoy them at the time, but now Matt and I count them as one of our favorite things to do... funny how time changes you :) This art show is amazing to me because it showcases artists of various fame (the art is not all outrageously expensive!) - in fact last year we went with my dad who was in town (and agreed that it lived up to the hype I'd given it) and he bought us a photo which now hangs in our home (it's a lovely winter scene with various birds perched in snow covered trees). This year my mom, step-dad, and brother will be in town for the art show... it's this weekend if you didn't know and I'd highly encourage you to visit! Another great thing about the art show is the location, it's set up among blocks and blocks of Louisville's brick Victorian homes which are pieces of art themselves. So as you walk from tent to tent you are also among some of the most enchanting homes I've ever seen. I'd recommend parking at the Dupont Manual high school which had a reasonable rate (maybe $5) and wasn't too far from where the art begins! If you're looking for fun, check it out this weekend :)

to be continued...

I hope to add a picture in a little bit of my dear Moriah, who provides us with the MOST fun in all of Louisville, being a mom is such a sweet blessing every day!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

sweet times with my little one

You really don't have to read this if you're not interested, and I'd understand... I never really knew why mom's marveled at their little ones quite so much, and now I find myself doing exactly that. It's hard not to notice all the new and precious things my darling Moriah does, and then of course you want to talk about them all. I realize reading this list will not matter to most people, and that's fine... but to me she's such a delight so I'll share it anyway :)

These are some things that I especially love about my little one...
~the way she strokes the back of her hair with her tiny hands when she's sleepy
~how she clings to my shirts when she's nursing
~that she seems to smile most during or soon after she eats, I think I might do the same!
~how content she is during her bath times
~her bright eyes as they seem to examine the world around her, especially when we're outside
~the serious and thoughtful look she often has, I think she's learned from Matt already!
~her desperate look when the pacifier seems suctioned to the roof of her mouth (only for a brief moment) which causes her to look for a hero quickly who might help her
~how she loves to lay on our laps if we move our legs back and forth to help lull her to sleep sometimes
~the way she'll cuddle with me in our gliding rocker after she nurses
~watching her look at books when we read, of course I'm not sure how much she sees but she does look intently
~hearing so many different little sounds that all seem to convey something specific
~her determination as she holds her little head up and looks around for a few seconds before laying it back down

I know it might seem crazy, and that's okay, but all of these moments are so enchanting to me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a sweet birthday indeed

This has been a most excellent birthday... much more mellow than my "quarter of a century birthday" last year when my dear husband went to heroic lengths to throw me the only surprise party I've ever had (I'm not one for surprises too often, so he was brave as well!). He thought that being a "quarter of a century" called for grand celebrating, and so we did - friends from here, and friends from all over came including my kindred spirit who FLEW from Kansas City, and my excellent friend Darcie who drove all the way from Nashville; such fun memories. Back to this birthday... without wanting to sound (or to be) materialistic the gifts I've received today have been so perfect for me, and I'm dying to share my excitement:

from Matt:
a mother's bracelet with Moriah's name... I don't rotate my jewelry often unless it's a really special occasion and I don't typically wear a bracelet (my last daily bracelet was broken on some crazy day at school), so this will be my daily bracelet from the web-site http://www.something2bragabout.com/
Here's a picture of the style I chose...

the book written by the Country Living magazine people called "Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life"

I really love the Country Living magazine, and someday I might like to use more of their ideas in our home, for now I love collecting my ideas and stashing them away... this book is full of so many tips that are right up my alley, everything from de-cluttering your home, preparing a hospitable guest room, and even placing bird feeders in your yard strategically! wonderful, all wonderful :)

a keyboard, which we've been considering for awhile now, we found a great deal I think from Louisville's Doo Wop shop (what a clever name) - so it's set up, and I have my music from the Seminary Wives "Playing Hymns" class, now I just need to remember all I learned and start practicing again. When I took the class, I really enjoyed practicing on the keyboard I leant, it was a really relaxing hobby after work.

some candy... Matt never gives a gift without candy, so I have my fair share of m&m's and Reese's!

from my mom, Nancy:
we really enjoy giving gifts to one another that include lots of miscellaneous little "good things"... this time those included, Wallflower refills in a fresh cotton scent (think Spring!), a "L" charm for my charm bracelet (which I love adding to but don't wear nearly as often as I should because I'm a little self conscious of the clinging sounds it inevitably makes!), and a recipe box

the latest in Martha's encyclopedia series of sorts, "Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts"

I really look forward to learning all sorts of techniques for beautiful sewing that Martha shares including lovely embroidery... I'd like to embellish some little things for Moriah if I can learn how, and I wouldn't think of consulting any expert besides Martha These books also make great reference material, so someday I'll stop calling my mom multiple times daily to ask simple questions and start looking my answers up, for now I'm thankful that mom's patient and willing to answer her phone :)

a wonderful multi-purpose storage set from Rachel Ray that will let me carry foods to church events and keep them hot or cold... it's sort of like the Pyrex casserole dish storage sets that have a soft zip up case which carries your food, except this one also came with a deviled egg insert tray, and a veggie insert tray. So those things would travel well without a mess or you could take out both trays and use it for a casserole dish instead... amazing! I'm sure this will be used often in the Southern Baptist life we live, I'm already thinking of our little Turner's Station Thanksgiving pot luck! this was a great QVC find by my mom, the queen of QVC (I promise some of the best gifts she's ever given me have come from QVC, I used to make fun of it, but not any more!)

The BEST gift of all... celebrating the day with my sweet little girl Moriah! We've enjoyed lots of nice time together today, which I do cherish so much these days. We'll get to see Matt a bit earlier tonight as well, since the bank closes early today - an unexpected gift :) This weekend we have plans to celebrate at a little cafe we've noticed since moving here, but haven't ever tried... Cafe Classico near our apartment in the Clifton neighborhood (have any of our Louisville friends been there?), then we'll be off to dessert at the Sweet Surrender for something delicious I know!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

new mom questions... dinners and house cleaning

Okay friends in blog-world... this is the last week of my maternity leave with little Moriah. Beginning next Monday I'll return to my pre-school teaching job with the three year olds, while baby girl Moriah goes to the baby room across the hall. I'm SO thankful that the Lord provided this job when He did. It's as close to ideal as we can get right now since she'll be near me all day (I'm even able to nurse on my lunch break), I have much less stress and responsibility than I did as a public school teaching (meaning I come home with more patience and energy), and I'm still helping support us as Matt works through Seminary without any debt. *In other news, the Lord has been very good to us lately and we're almost debt-free entirely (then I'll consider donating to SBU someday when my college is actually paid for)!* So back to the point of this post... I know things will change when I return to work and that our evenings will feel full and time will fly. I'm trying to be as prepared as possible in order to make a more smooth transition for myself and our family. I've been mostly thinking about dinners and house cleaning. I'd love your tips on these two areas of life.

Have you ever made a meal plan of sorts? How does it work for you?
*Before now, I typically thought about tasty dinners made a list of five or six for the week, and then wrote my grocery list from it. Each evening we picked a meal off the dinner list, I had what I needed on hand, and we ate! That took more brain power and time than I feel like devoting these days so... I'm thinking of going through my commonly prepared recipes and sorting them into types of food and ease of preparation. Then I think I'll try to fill out a calendar with meals for an entire month, varying what we're having throughout the month and leaving room to try new recipes from time to time (I still love looking at cookbooks and magazines, so I can't give that up yet!). I hope that will allow me to plan grocery lists for each week, so that shopping on the weekend will be a no-brainer, and take much less planning time in advance. I'm also hoping to jot down five or so specific lunch ideas for Matt and I as we both brown bag it with our jobs. This would ensure that we always have something we could take for the day. I know this sort of planning would be insane to some people, but I thrive with structure and planning. For now, it seems like it might help and if it doesn't I'll stop, that simple! Let me know if any of you have tips that have been helpful for your families.

If you lived in a relatively small space would you clean it all at once or divide the tasks? How do you divide them... do you have a job every day? When do you do your cleaning?
*I've been cleaning our apartment well on the weekends... usually Saturday morning while Matt works at the bank or Sunday afternoons. It really doesn't take me long to do the things that seem most important to me, and I just do it all at once even though it can take me awhile to get motivated. These cleaning days have entailed: kitchen cleaning (refrigerator clean out of leftovers, counters, floor, etc.), bathroom cleaning (shower, sink, mirrors, toilet, floor), house cleaning (dust bedroom, vacuum everywhere). As I notice other "deeper cleaning" tasks I add them to the list. So it works well, but takes a chunk of time. I anticipate wanting to enjoy my baby girl as much as I can on the weekends and would love to have my cleaning done at other times... I also know I'll be tired in the evenings and they'll be full too. I'm not sure what might work best. I've also considered joining the GirlTalk blog ladies (C.J. Mahaney's daughters and wife) as they practice a 5am club, though I know sleep is important too. Again, I'd love your thoughts!

As a disclaimer, for those of you who know me well... I often set myself up with ambitious plans that just aren't realistic. I know that about myself, and I really don't want to do that again. I'm just wanting to try new things that might be helpful. Really don't worry about me - I'm offering myself much grace (Matt does too, always!) and flexibility as I try to balance these things!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

some super easy recipes

Here are a couple of delicious recipes we've enjoyed lately... in fact, both of them were discovered as we enjoyed meals which were delivered to us by church friends soon after Moriah's arrival! If they're new to me and easy enough for me to have prepared as new mom learning to balance life with a little one, they must be winners :) I wish I had pictures to offer of them, but you'll just have to trust me sight unseen.

Feta Chicken

4 chicken breasts, thawed
1 package feta cheese
garlic powder
salt & pepper

Cut chicken breasts in half to make a pocket that can be stuffed (think pita bread), and place in baking dish.
Mix about 1 TBSP oregano into feta. You might like more or less, but you want to have plenty.
Stuff each chicken pocket with feta.
Sprinkle any remaining feta on top of chicken breasts.
Add garlic powder and salt and pepper to the tops of each piece of chicken.
Bake at 350 degrees, for about 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
*tastes great with rice

Cranberry Chicken

4 chicken breasts (or chicken tenderloin pieces)
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
8 oz French dressing
1 package onion soup mix

Mix cranberry sauce, dressing, and soup mix to prepare sauce.
Place chicken into baking pan and top with sauce.
Bake at 350 degrees, for 1 hour.
Serve with rice.
*I tried to make a quicker version tonight since I had tenderloin pieces and thought they'd cook faster... I wouldn't recommend it as the sauce didn't caramelize quite as much as it had when the meal was delivered to us... the more well cooked sauce tasted even better!

As a side note, it was SUCH a blessing to have meals delivered to us for a couple of weeks after our family left and we were officially "on our own" with Moriah. If you're a soon to be mom, ask friends for meals if they offer to help and let them serve you that way! If you know a soon to be new mom, offer to bring a meal - it will help much more than you probably realize :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

good things for baby

I had a friend ask for a list of things that I found especially helpful for our little girl... I just sent this list to her this morning. I'm sure other moms who have months and years of experience would have lots of good additions too (leave me a comment!) I know every baby and every family are different so these things might not be as helpful to you as they have been to us. Maybe it will be helpful to some of you as you prepare for a baby to come... (it's a pretty candid list, so don't read if you don't want to!)

so when I first started nursing (during the first week) and things were sore a lactation consultant at the hospital recommended that I buy "polysporin" ointment and use it after each nursing to help me heal... it was great and helped a lot! I also used the samples from the hospital of Medela's lanolin cream (it was some "modified lanolin" I think)... I really liked it because it wasn't quite as thick and goopey as some of the other creams - they also gave me some Medela gel pads at the hospital that were really helpful, you could keep them cool in the refrigerator and put them on after each nursing to be soothing, they were sort of sticky so they stayed in place and could be reused for up to 24 hours I think, I saw them at Babies R Us

once we were home and I was walking in to the living room to nurse her at night, I didn't want to turn on all the lights but I also didn't want to trip, so we bought lots of little night lights to help me see!

nursing in our glider has been so comfortable for me, I'd highly recommend some sort of rocking chair if it's at all in your budget (I was thrilled to find mine at the consignment sale) because you'll be sitting there a lot!

Nursing pads that go in your nursing bra are essential in case of leaks... I guess some people never do, but I have - maybe just have some in case you need them and then you could always buy more... so far I like the Avent brand of disposable ones best

I also bought a regular blue reusable ice pack to sit on during the first week or so when we were home, it was really helpful for the overall sore-ness

Moriah LOVES her bouncy seat! I know some people like swings too, but for a small space her bouncy seat is great and easy to move into whatever room we need her to be in... it often helps her fall asleep if she's fussy and not wanting to sleep, it also has been helpful for me to use right outside the bathroom door in the morning while I take a shower, so I can still see her, but she's safely strapped in!

she also really loves to be swaddled, so the SwaddleMe blankets with velcro to help them stay on have also been great

we started giving Moriah a pacifier a bit earlier than some books recommended, but I figured we can't do everything "by the book" and she's really been happy to have one... it seems to sooth her and help her calm down to get ready to sleep

a small breast pump was really good in the early days when I was "engorged" as the milk first came in... mostly that just means you're REALLY swollen and it's not too comfortable, so if you can pump sometimes it helps you feel relief and it helps get things ready for the baby to nurse

the gowns that you see for babies have also been a night time favorite of ours... it makes things much easier for me as I change diapers in the middle of the night, and also lets little Moriah curl her legs up, which she's always liked to do... sleepers with legs made her really mad because she couldn't get her legs curled :)

Hopefully this is a little helpful, it's so exciting to have so many friends who will have little ones soon!