Carseat Shopping with Preschoolers- Britax Endeavours

As you know, I’ve been confined, a prisoner, if you will, on bed rest for the last month. For someone who LOVES baby things and happens to be pregnant…and in need of baby things…this was torture. So, one of my first stops on my first day of freedom was Buy Buy Baby to check out all that has changed since Bug was cooking in my belly. And, woah! It’s a LOT! One of my favorite things we checked out was the new Britax Endeavours infant carseat. This seat goes from 4-35lbs, which for a mama with a high risk of birthing a premie, this is great news!

 

Obviously, Bug exceeds the max weight limit! But he approves the comfort level!

With the steel anti-rebound bar, there is 30% less rebound in a front or rear crash.

Even Chuck could maneuver its user-friendly design.

“Baby” the cabbage patch doll appreciates the safety measures present both with or without a base. With latch or auto seatbelts, Baby is riding with exceedingly high safety standards.

Chuck really enjoyed learning about how she can help take care of her new baby sibling in this #1 safety-rated seat. Bug, on the other hand, enjoyed torturing his sister. What can I say, they were stoked to get out of the house, too! I dare you to watch to the end without laughing!

Carseat Shopping With Preschoolers- Video

 

*I was compensated to check out this rad seat. All children and their wackado behaviors are my own.

30 Days

Thirty days of confinement, rest, restrictions and caution. Thirty days of figuring out a new normal and a new sense of purpose. Thirty days to dwell in my thoughts and fears and hopes for this baby and our family.

I haven’t done them well. I don’t know how one does. Two young children who need every piece of me that I can’t physically give and one deep-rooted character of pride sitting in my heart; these have been my companions. I didn’t realize how dependent I am on being INdependent until this last month. Ladies from bible study asked 10 times before they finally TOLD me they were coming to clean my kitchen. A meal train that ended up being a literal lifeline for my family was set up without me signing off…and I am so, so glad. Several friends grocery shopped, played mom-taxi and entertained my minions…all just by DOING. Because, you see, if there is one thing us moms are great at, it’s LOOKING as if we have it all under control….even if that’s not logistically possible. So, I dedicate the last thirty days to those who just DO. Thank you.

Now, the next thirty days? Who knows?! I was tentatively released from strict bed rest! It turns out the complete placenta previa that was aggravated by a pretty large subchorionic hematoma just…moved. I mean, last week it was bad. Really, really “you’re gonna have a c-section if you don’t go into preterm labor before,” bad. And this week, God said, “move!” and it did! Even my high risk doctor was surprised at the level of progress. The hematoma is still there and relatively large, but without the concern of the previa, it’s not as big of an issue right now. I am still on “light duty,” but I am able to leave the house. I can take Chuck to our Classical Conversations community day without reprimand and I can resume our normal dance/Awana/mops routine. Most exciting to me….TARGET! I know, so basic, right? But really, Chip and Joanna have been waiting for me. I must go!

I am 18.5 weeks at this point and while spending so much time with my own thoughts, I began to count down to different milestones. The most pivotal of these to me is 24 weeks. Twenty four weeks…the point of viability. The placemarker in gestation where I will never hear the words “there’s nothing we can (will) do. Just go home and manage your expectations.” Those words still burn in my ears after our traumatic night in the ER in Vegas. So, 24 weeks comes, get this, on Dec. 24! My little minnow will be statistically “viable,” a saveable miracle on Christmas Eve. How’s that for divine?!

This Sunday, Bug turns three and I can’t help but remember these milestones with him. His pregnancy was easy, for the most part, until the end. When I was 18 weeks with him, we were camping out in the mountains near Kern river, roasting marshmallows, blissfully unaware of just how much could go wrong. And here we are with this one, thanking God for each day closer to viability. It’s that way with life in general, right? We go along whistling until someone bumps us…and then someone bigger, then maybe a car or truck and then the whole dad-gum train runs us flat over and we are like, “good grief! I get it now! Life isn’t promised. Each day is a complete and utter gift. I get it.”

So, on Sunday, we will celebrate another gift of a day with our baby (middle) boy and we will once again get on our knees to thank our Heavenly Father for all the days we’ve had, and hope to have, to bring glory to Him, raising our tribe, sewing seeds of grace and mercy and working so very hard on clipping those ties to pride. Grateful for days and the ways, He shows us gently (or sometimes not SO gently) the reflection of the parts of ourselves we need to give to Him. I do get it now.

 

Secondary Infertility and losses

Last summer, I decided to take a break from facebook. We had just experienced the heartbreak of our second miscarriage. The ridiculousness of political rants and petty complaints became a very unwelcomed distraction from processing our pain. Leaving was good for me. I learned to cling tighter to my Savior, instead of drowning my mind in constantly refreshing my feed. Brent and I worked through our raw hurt together, again, this second time, and came out on the other side stronger than ever.

Then, it happened again. And again. And again. And again. During this year hiatus, we have grasped to a tiny life, five different times, only to be shattered as it slipped away. That’s six in total. Six babies in heaven. I’m still jaw-dropped at those words. Our most recent beloved went to be with Jesus this month, almost a year to the day of his sibling.

I’ve been reminded over and over again that God put us on this earth to live in community, to glorify Him. His love is only reflected by ours. So, this village, the people who’ve brought coffee or embraced snot-drenched sobs on their shoulders…these are the Hands and Feet. These are the ones who, without always the right words, show with action, the cross. Thank you.

There’ve been other tragedies and joys and endless hours of news, both personal and public, through the last year. It’s documented in my heart, instead of my page. Our actions, and inactions, haven’t always been understood or appreciated by those around us, and that’s ok. Healing and grieving and growing are processes, undertaken in intimacy with Jesus. Everyone does it differently. But, all you who’ve suffered, too, know, I know. And I love, too.

My babies all have names. They’ve all been loved for every second of their existence. Every bit of their being was felt and cherished. They will be remembered at due dates and loss dates…even if I have to reference my “list,” because there are so many. What mother doesn’t remember her baby’s birthday? I’m trying.

So, I suppose the point of this is…well, I’m not really sure. Maybe to try to express courage? Or insight for those who’ve wondered? Or just to document some late night, wine-induced rambling from an aching mama-heart.

Chuck and Bug are our world. They perfectly stretch our parent wings and if they complete our family, we are joy- filled. But, we stand in utter confusion at God’s plans for our family. It’s a sense of paralysis. So, I humbly ask, for those who’ve walked through the fire of secondary infertility or recurrent losses, please reach out. I need some anecdotal hope, one way or the other.

And to my husband, thank you for being mine. Thank you for holding my hand so tightly when I’m crashing to the ground. Thank you for carrying the weight this year. You have. All of it. This life hurts, but it’s also full of sweet, sweet joys and I’m so glad you’re the one by my side for them.

 

It tastes like ice cream

MommyCrunch.com

We started keeping Chuck accountable for helping around the house. She turned 3 last month and Hfoe and I agreed, with that sassy personality of hers, she is more than capable of maintaining a short list of responsibilities. On the list are chores like helping feed the dogs and making her bed. She gets the holy grail of stickers to mark the square for “staying in bed all night” because that is such a monumental event on the rare occasion it actually happens! The final space on her Mickey Mouse chore chart is reserved for “extra helps through the day.” She gets to place the coveted Sofia the first stickers on this space when she helps clean her sticky fingerprints off the floor to ceiling mirror in the living room (whoever installed that did NOT have toddlers) or she brings me buddy’s diapers, etc. She’s the quickest to remind us of these little extras throughout the day and has even started trying to negotiate her way into stickers for brushing her teeth and eating dinner. Nice try, pal! My favorite part of this chore chart, though, is the little “memo” section which allows us to write notes and goals for the week. Never mind that our goal for the week has remained the same for the 5 weeks we have been doing it…”no whining, no crying, no being mean.” A lofty goal, for sure. We must repeat this mantra often, but repetition is the key, right?! Along with our goal for the week, we have been choosing scripture verses for C (and us if we are being honest) to memorize. So far, she has memorized Luke 6:31, Phil. 4:13 and 1 John 4:19. I couldn’t be prouder! Besides, my little sinner is going to need all the guidance she can recall because this kid is mischievous, let me tell you!

 

MommyCrunch.com

Who me? I am a perfect angel.

 

 

Her recent antics prove that perhaps we shouldn’t be spending so much time on verses about “doing unto others…” as we should be on something more like “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

 

I  mentioned that one of her chores is to help us feed the dogs in both the morning and the evening. A couple days ago, as Chuckles was carrying the cup full of food outside, I ran ahead of her to find the dog’s bowl that had blown away with the Santa Anas. When I turned around to bring her the bowl, she had a smug grin on her face. And the tiniest kernel of kibble on her lip.

“Kid! Did you just eat dog food?!”

I know we all did it at one point or another, but she’s THREE! We aren’t talking about an early walker here!

Just as emphatically as I proclaimed my disgust and astonishment, she rebutted, “I did NOT!”

Perhaps the art of discretion is lost on her, but the evidence was literally written on her face.

“You did, too and now you just lied about it! I hope it tasted gross!”

We eat organic in this house, for crying out loud. What could possibly drive her to desire processed chicken byproduct and ground corn meal?

“Nope. It tasted like ice cream!”

And the lie of lies, she blasphemed ice cream….

Whatever, kid. I just hope you don’t get worms. And next time you beg and whine and plead for ice cream, you better believe you’re getting one heaping cupful of pro plan!

 

Maybe we need to add a sticker line for refraining from taking food out of our puppy sisters’ mouths. Next week’s memory verse will be Deut. 14:3. She needs the lesson.

Dairy free and surviving, plus a recipe

 

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I don’t believe there is a single person on the face of the earth who loves ice cream as much as I do. Or cheese. Or creamy, cheesy pasta with buttered bread on the side. I know, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Alas, this heart is on restriction because the tiniest love of my life is allergic to all things dairy and delicious. I wanted to ignore it or deny that the positive test result COULD have something to do with why my boy was projectile vomiting across the room. There was no way that me cutting dairy would stop his eczema from spreading like the pox. But, the day of truth came when the GI asked if after a month of me limiting dairy, had baby Bug’s symptoms lessened? I had to undeniably say yes. So, because I’m eating for two, here we are, he and I, restricted to the watery sweetness of almond and coconut milks.

 

It’s been this way for two whole months now and I am pretty proud to say that I have figured out some cooking hacks to psych myself into believing I am still indulging in creamy goodness. For example, did you know you could boil raw cashews and then purée them with water until you reach the creamy consistency you need for pretty much any recipe that calls for a “cream of” soup? Also, butternut squash can be steamed and puréed to the consistency of cheese sauce…and you can kind of pretend it’s the same thing because it has the same color and sweetness, too! All this to say, I am surviving. I only sort of cry a little inside when I see someone bite into a big, cheesy burger. And it doesn’t hurt so much now to watch my girl eat her frozen yogurt if I have a nice heaping bowl of dairy free sorbet from Menchies. I mean after all, isn’t that face worth it?!. image

 

 

In an effort to help others, here’s one of the recipes I have conjured up. I think even the lactose-lovers in your family won’t notice what’s missing!

 

CREAMY CHICKEN, BROCCOLI AND RICE CASSEROLE

What you’ll need:

1 cup rice, cooked

1lb chicken thighs or breasts

1 large head broccoli, chopped finely

1 cup raw cashews

2 cups water

4 strips bacon if desired

Chives

salt and pepper to taste

 

First you want to boil your raw cashews in two cups water for about thirty minutes. Once done, strain water but set aside. Put boiled cashews in your blender or food processor and add about a quarter cup water. Purée adding water as necessary to reach the consistency you desire. While your cashews are boiling you can precook your chicken by pan frying it in coconut oil for about 6 minutes per side. Remove from heat and shred. Cook bacon and break into bits. Once your cashews, bacon and chicken are done, mix shredded chicken, broccoli and cooked rice with the cashew cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with bacon and chives, cover with  foil and put in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until broccoli is to desired tenderness. Remove foil for the last five minutes of cook time.

 

The final step is to put this bad boy on the table for all to enjoy. It won’t disappoint!

 

 

Princess Chuck turns 3!

I was given free product in exchange for this post. As always, opinions are solely my own.
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When I received the email notification we had been chosen again this year to host a Disney @Home Celebration party, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was sitting at the kitchen table contemplating baby Bug’s hospital stay the night before. He was still wheezing in the other room and my girly, Chuck, was squirming in my lap for the attention she so desperately needed after a night away from mama. Little did I know we would be headed back to the hospital the next day as Bug’s oxygen saturation dropped dramatically and he became dehydrated. But, amid all the nerves and chaos that happens when your newborn gets really sick, we got this exciting announcement! What a mood lifter!

 

Once the roller coaster ride of our 8 day stay in the pediatric unit had ended, it was time to start planning little Miss Fancy Pants’ birthday party! First, since I knew the theme would be “Sofia the first,” I had to figure out a way to make it coed appropriate. C has lots of little dudes as buddies and I didn’t want them to feel left out if we did a princess only tea party or something. So, I asked the most dapper of guys in our life, Papa bear! He suggested a  “ball.” Knights, pirates and princes would be welcomed to join all the princesses for a fun royal ball! It was perfect! We found a cute template on evite.com and set the date…wheels were in motion!

 

Now, for decorations, food and activities! I had planned so many fun things to do…outside. Our royal ball would be held in our backyard with a projector movie of Sofia the first playing for the duration of the party. There would be strand lights and Chinese lanterns and magical, mystical accents to make our setting perfect. Weeeeellll, the best laid plans, right?! Instead, it rained.

 

We moved as much as we could indoors (including all 60 guests in our 1000 sq. ft. home!) and scrapped the rest. In place of twinkly lights, I hung streamers from the ceiling.

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Where we would have had outdoor garden games like croquet (I really had planned to teach three year olds to play with mallets. For real.) we instead had a dance contest under our covered patio as the warm Southern California rain poured down. We played “freeze dance” and all the kids giggled as if it was the best activity ever!

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With the crayons and coloring book we received in our box, I set up a “decorate the castle” station where everyone could color a Sofia picture of their choice.

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We ate cupcakes from Sam’s club and homemade turkey wraps. I made “princess pops” with marshmallows on sticks with cupcake liners to look like ball gowns. They looked more artistic on Pinterest, but that didn’t seem to affect how quickly they disappeared! The Sofia table decorations got plenty of compliments!

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My favorite detail of the whole shindig was the photo booth I set up! I found three old shutters listed for free on one of my local garage sale pages on facebook. Then I strung together scrap fabric and tulle to make a streamer for the backdrop and placed purple pillows around an ottoman to make a “throne.” The kids all loved having their royal headshots taken!

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When the royal processional was ready to retreat, we sent them each home with a little something special. The princesses left with everything necessary for a pretty manicure and the princes left with either a knightly shield or a pirate band tambourine. I think they were all graciously received.

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Although things didn’t go as we had originally planned, Princess Chuckles enjoyed her special day and has woken up every morning since asking if it was time for her birthday again! Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us and thank you Disney for the opportunity!

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I received free product in order to write this post. As always, opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Honey Mustard Chicken

The prep...2 minutes, tops.

The prep…2 minutes, tops.

As is pretty much always the case, I took a recipe I had and I did what I could with the ingredients I actually possessed. Except this time, it turned out so delicious, I made it again! And, it’s easy peasy! Like, make on an after-school sports night EASY! Here’s the breakdown…and I’ll will make it quick so you can get the kids to soccer.

 

You need:

4 thawed Chicken breasts

1/2 cup Yellow Mustard

1/4 cup Honey

1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Olive Oil (to grease the baking dish)

How to:

Preheat your oven to 425. Toss the chicken breasts in salt and pepper…not too much, but just enough. That’s helpful, right? Combine mustard, honey and vinegar in your GREASED baking dish with a whisk. Greasing is important. Ask my husband, aka the dishwasher. Oops! Finally, add your salt ‘n peppa chicken to the honey mustard goo and cover completely. Pop it in your preheated oven for 30-40 mins and voila…scrumptious!

The Presentation...had to snap this quick before it was gone.

The Presentation…had to snap this quick before it was gone.

They will ask for this one again. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

 

 

A Date With Chuck At Stonefire

I was asked to attend a media event where food and beverages were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are strictly my own.

As a blogger, sometimes opportunities come your way that excite you even more than they probably should. Usually for me, those opportunities involve food. Because I love food…free food is even tastier!

When I had Chuckles, our church family rallied around us with support and dinners. For two weeks after we brought our little bundle home, we had dinner magically delivered to our door by our brothers and sisters in Christ who wanted to help a new mom and dad to just relax and enjoy bonding with the new baby. It. Was. GLORIOUS! One of those memory-making dinners was from Stonefire Grill. I had never eaten at this place before, but whether it was post-delivery hormones talking or not, I was hooked on that scrumptious barbecue and garlic bread to write home about!

Lucky for me, I was presented with the chance last week to be a part of a media tasting event at Stonefire Grill introducing their new summer menu options. I, of course, jumped at the chance! I rsvp’d for me plus one, thinking this would be a wonderful date night for Hfoe and myself. After all, it’s not so hard to shell out $10 an hour for a sitter if dinner is comped! But, alas, hubby had to work on the night of the event. So, with a very deep breath and a few meditative  moments of preparation for the unpredictable toddler emotions, I took Chuck as my “plus one.” My good friend Melissa over at MelissaDell.com has a daughter that is Chuckles’s age and they are buddies. She was in the same boat, so we made it a double mama-daughter date.

On the drive over, the girls sang Disney songs and held hands across carseats….this was looking promising for good dinner behavior! And they didn’t disappoint. From the moment we walked into the restaurant patio, both girls were so well behaved. I am sure they were just as impressed as I was at the reception we received from the Stonefire crew. We were greeted by the owner’s son and summer menu co-creator, Justin, and presented with our choices of seasonal brews, wines or in my case, passion fruit tea. Sensing the toddlers’ short attention spans, Justin intuitively asked if he could pull together a couple children’s menu items for the girls to get them started. Sure! And the mac ‘n cheese was the hit of the evening for one blondie with discerning  taste!

Leave me alone, mother. This mac ‘n cheese is divine!

Now, for the mama food. Yum! That is pretty much the summary of my experience. My first bite was from the new Keen Green salad, with it’s kale, quinoa and avocado. It’s not something I would probably generally order at this place I love for barbecue, but I was pleasantly surprised at the fresh, delicious flavors that were perfect for summer! Next came the roasted cauliflower pita and the Capresse sandwich. Which one is my favorite? I can’t choose. I never prepare cauliflower at home after I had an unfortunate experience once with a mushy restaurant side dish, so when I saw the pita, I was hesitant. But, so as to be able to give an accurate review, I tried it anyway. I am so glad I did! Chuckles even liked it! My highlight of the sandwiches I tried, though, was the turkey salad. Oh my goodness…and I mean GOODNESS! I would NEVER have thought to order this light of an option and receive this explosion of flavor! Over all, the dishes presented to us this evening were a smorgasbord of tasty choices fit for warmer weather, but still filling enough for lunch or dinner.

Golden State Kale Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Pita and Keen Green Salad
Capresse Sandwich and Traditional Turkey Sandwich

The cherry on top of our evening was dessert. With a powder sugar-covered brownie and a slice of cheesecake, my plans of taking the girls to get yogurt after dinner for their good behavior quickly went out the window…gladly! Chuck couldn’t even wait for me to snap the picture before she dove right into the brownie!

Someone was a little impatient!
Baby bug approved, too!

To say the food was delicious would be redundant and an understatement, but my overall experience for this fun evening at Stonefire Grill was exceptional. I was happy to see how kid friendly the staff and menu were and how mama friendly the new summer menu additions are. It’s good to know on those nights Hfoe has to work late and I just don’t have one more creative dinner in me, I can take the kidlet down to Stonefire for a thoughtful, healthy meal.

My girl and me…excited about the full bellies!

We visited the location at 6405 FALLBROOK AVENUE
WEST HILLS, CA  91307, but please visit Stonefiregrill.com to find a location near you and run there for dinner tonight!

Thank you so much to the folks at Stonefire Grill who made our evening so enjoyable and yummy!

I was asked to attend a media event where food and beverages were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are strictly my own.