Entering the Season of Thankfulness

I read a book this past year called One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.  You can view Ann’s sweet website right here.  She is so inspirational and real.  I would urge you to check out her thoughts.  In the most basic sense, her book is about being faithfully thankful.  She really brings a a spirituality to every mundane and seemingly secular bit of life.  I found the book to really impact how I prayed and how I thought about my spot in life.  With that being said, I certainly do forget sometimes.  I complain about not having “me” time, wanting more material things for my family and I, and envying what others have either actual things or attributes.  The point is that I correct myself more.  I reel my self in and try to stop the “I want” or “I need” attitude.  

The truth is that I’m blessed with so much.  These blessings or gifts as you could call them are given for a reason.  I’m supposed to be doing something with my healthy body.  I’m supposed to be using my mind for a higher calling than watching oodles of reality TV and memorizing all the casts of the Real Housewives franchises.  My passions coupled with my gifts should be put to good use.  What should I be striving for?  Well, service.  Service to others, my family at home and my human family at large.  Service to whatever God intends for me.  Big or small. Impacting many or impacting one.  Glamourous or unnoticed.  

To aid reflection on these blessings and focus on what the One in charge of this life wants for me, we’ll be starting a thankful banner.  I’m going to be adding one leaf to the garland for each day in November of something that I’m thankful for or some way I can use a gift to serve.  Even weekend days…  I’ll post pictures as it comes together, but these are my inspirations…

Image

Link to directions here.

 

 Image

Link here to tatertots & jello.  Fun site!

November really prompts many of us to think about blessings and all the treasures we have on this earth.  This is an attitude that should remain with us all year.  I’m going to really try and focus on it this month and take the time daily to reflect.  

What are you most thankful for?

Any ideas to help celebrate thanksgivings?

Image

Cold Remedies for Little People

I used not to get that upset about cold and flu season.  I thought, “I have nothing to worry about!  I never get sick!”  After a bad bout with strep my first year of teaching, I really felt like nothing else could get me down.  I had teacher immunities.  Then, enter a little bundle of joy in March 2012.  We went through the first 6 months of life together happily enjoying spring turning into summer without ANY illnesses.  I also stayed home with him during this time due to a well-planned maternity leave that included 12 weeks out of work for me with a nice, long summer break heaped on top.  Bliss!  We started off our first month of daycare with a couple ear infections followed by strep followed by more ear infections.  Colds and teething certainly didn’t help little H’s general health.  Although we are home sick again today, I do feel that I’ve learned a few tricks to help with this vicious season.  Kids will be kids though and get sick.  H and I have been to the pediatrician’s office 5 times, I believe since September. The Mr. took him once the end of August.  Geez, I feel like we should be invited to their office party or something!  Here’s hoping for a little more healthy November!  I do realize that we are very blessed to only be taking him in for minor things such as a 24 virus that we were worried about and the possibility of an ear infections (H is quite the stoic guy and won’t give us too many signs that he’s not feeling well.  Good, yet bad thing!  : -/ ).  

Tips to Keep Little Ones Well:

  1. Lots of fruits, veggies, and liquids!  H does prefer fruit, so I give him more what he wants when he’s feeling sick.  I also supplement his meals with the squeezie fruit and veggie blends to help get him the vitamins that he needs.  Being sick definitely makes my little one a more picky eater.  Sidenote: I had these fantasies about making H warm tea with honey when he was sick.  Totally hated it!  He actually hates all hot things…bath water, food, anything hot!  You’d think he’d had a terrible experience as a little baby, but he hasn’t.  Just prefers everything at room temperature.  I even dish up his food five to ten minutes before we eat to let it cool.  Weirdo!  🙂  Milk and even water is for sure his preference!Image

2.  Vapor Rub I love the smell and think he really likes having it rubbed on before bed.  I put it on his chest, neck, and feet.  This is the brand I’ve switched to from Vick’s for Baby.  Maty’s is petroleum free and menthol free.

  Image

 

3.  Zarabee’s  I just started using this product to help soothe H’s cough.  I love how it is made with natural ingredients, and it boosts immunity.  

Image

You can read more about this product and the doctor behind it here.  

4.  Steamy Showers  H’s recent cold/ear infection has been so yuck that I’ve even tried to whole shower with baby thing.  This was a little tricky at first (especially since he HATES the hot water), but he eventually loved it!  I just hold him for the first few minutes and then plop him in the floor of the tub with a few toys.  He is content to play and breathe in the steam.  Best of all, I got a shower today!  Two birds taken care of with 1 stone!  This really makes his nose run, so I made sure I had a soft washcloth in there to wipe it off when we hopped out.  

5.  Cool Mist Humidifier  I really am bad about this and didn’t pull it out until he already had his first big cold of the season.  Now, we are using it at naptime and bedtime.  This is the one I have.  

Image

6.  Saline Spray  This is tricky to use by yourself, but just be sure to angle baby’s head to the side.  We follow this up with the whole nose-sucking fun.  

Image

7.  Elevate the crib on one side with pillow  The Mr. put one of my lovely decorative, overstuffed pillows under H’s mattress, and I think it helped a bit with the congestion.  

8.  Rest!  Even when H woke up early from his nap yesterday, we opted to check on him and then lay him back down to rest.  The Mr. actually took care of this as I was busy wringing my hands and worrying in the hall with other things.  Same thing goes when he wakes up in the night.  I try to get him back to sleep ASAP and let him sleep in in the morning.  

9.  Vapor Bath in the Tub We use this when he’s taking a “tubbie,” and if wasn’t so darn expensive, I’d use it for my bathtime too!  I’ve found it’s best to buy the name brand with this item.  The generic just doesn’t go as far or have the same smell.  

Image

10.  Of course, the pediatrician!  I’m not the first one to run off to the doctor at a sneeze or cough or two.  However, I know my child, and I know that a decrease in appetite combined with night waking (which he rarely does!) is a sign that we will be seeing that lovely office again soon.  

We’re going to try our best to stay well, because H definitely needs two parents with good health to keep up with him in all his escapades.  Have a great Monday!

Image

It’s raining flour and orange-colored sugar!

The little dude and I had a good time hanging out at home this weekend while the Mr. went for his very first hunting trip of the season.  We enjoyed whole wheat french toast with warm applesauce and almond butter for breakfast.

Image

Image

It was unusually chilly, but we bundled up to run errands and make a quick playground visit.

Image

I *tried* to get H’s holiday outfit from Gymboree but couldn’t find a thing in its holiday collection for little boys.  Once again, the girls’ side was exploding with cute choices, and boys’ side was just sad.  Looks like I’ll be ordering online!  I’m also in hot pursuit of some cold weather accessories for H.  I’m not sure if mittens or gloves would be better for an almost 20 month old boy who loves to play outside.

We also baked some sugar cookies in the shape of turkeys, leaves, and pumpkins.  It was our first experience really cooking together.  Here are my top 5 tips…

1)  Have everything measured and ready to go in one place that you’ll need.

2)  Pick something with limited number of steps/directions.

3)  Remember not to get frustrated when little hands are far too eager to help.

4)  Don’t try to take pictures (maybe have someone else help with that!).  I found that I needed all my hands and maybe about five extra sets to be focused on H and what we were trying to do.

5)  Clean up after getting your little one onto something else.  In our case, I waited until after tubbie time and storytime.  He was snoozing away by the time I tackled the messy remains.

I used this recipe plus the addition of some orange sugar for dusting and some chocolate morsels that H dotted in.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Minutes
Ready In: 3 Hours
Servings: 20
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1-1/4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
DIRECTIONS:
You have scaled this recipe’s ingredients to yield a new amount (20). The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield (60).
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Original recipe can be seen here.

These were our finished products and mess!

IMG_1848 IMG_1849 IMG_1851

So much fun!  I’m definitely looking forward to the holiday cooking baking, but I think I may wait to have the Mr. home for that!  Definitely need that second set of hands for pics of our little one “helping” and putting “‘nother one” of the chocolate chips on these yummy cookies!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

1950F063759FBD8D5632F4CA61CFC2E6

5 for Friday

Good Friday Morning!

This Friday I’m thinking about moods.  We’ve been talking about moods with the students at school through our personal writing and also through the book Judy Moody.  The book is about a third grade girl who is starting off the new school year worried about changes at home and at school.  Although she is cranky with most of the other kids and her teacher at school, she is certainly giving her mom the hardest time of all.  How true this is!  When I’m having a hard day, I’m on my worst behavior with my own family at home. I somehow make it through the day being mostly well-behaved and then just fall to pieces as far as nice behavior goes at home.  How frustrating!  These are the ones I love the most!  I hope they know that I do, but I certainly haven’t showed it.  As we all know, actions speak louder than words.  These thoughts inspired my 5 for Friday…

{ONE}

I’m excited about the church chili cook-off and costume parade on Sunday.  Looked up a crockpot recipe that I’m hoping will be a keeper!  If so, I’m going to make it again for the chili party/birthday party for my not-so-little-anymore sister who is turning 24!  Gosh, I had to count to be sure I had that correct!

Image

Here’s the recipe for the Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili that I’ll be making!

{TWO}

I know I need some time to myself to recharge for those at home.  I’m going to MAKE the time this weekend by bringing home ZIPPO school work to work on, and I’m planning to leave work when I’m actually able to leave work (as in, on time instead of an hour after the parking lot has cleared on a Friday afternoon!) and stop by Barnes & Noble, get a herbal tea, and chill out for just 20 minutes or so before I pick up little H.  Hopefully, this will help me feel a little more calm and help me wind down from the busiest day of the school week, test day!

{THREE}

Image

I saw this on Pinterest.  Scary and true!  Yikes!  

{FOUR}

Neat ideas to show the special person in your life that you do love him/her and you’re not just a mean, witch all the time!  

Image

Here’s the link to the list of ideas!

{FIVE}

I had a total baking disaster on Wednesday night that included an almond meal, coconut oil, chocolatey mess!  The worst part was the wasted Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate.  😦  I’m not going to be discouraged from my experimentation though.  I really want to come up with a yummy recipe that doesn’t include a lot of sugar or any butter.  I know this is not for everyone, but I like a challenge.  I also like a cookie that I can eat and feel decently good about having 2 or more.  H and I are off to Trader Joe’s this afternoon to get some baking supplies.  I’ve tried their brand of mini chocolate chip cookies, and they’re decent.  However, there not exactly great.  There’s just something about a fresh baked cookie that really satisfies my sweet tooth.  Off to try again this weekend!  Check out my “Tasty Stuff” pinterest board here for ideas!

 

Have a great Friday!  Remember to be nice to those you love today!  I’m certainly going to try to!

 

Image

Simple Pleasures

I was reading something the other day that said we rarely have time to talk and complain if we talk and name all of the wonderful things we have in our life.  I would have to say one of the most wonderful things that can happen to a working mom is to hear the following statement when you finally get back to your little one after a long day…”H had a great day!  He was such a good listener!  He played outside so nicely and followed directions all day!”  Wow!  What a powerful few sentences to make a mom feel so happy!  Although I would love to have some hybrid working situation where I could work part time and then be home with H the rest of the time, it is not my reality.  When I hear wonderful words like these, it really warms my heart and makes me so thankful that he’s having good days while I’m away.  Definitely a simple pleasure of my day.  Here are a few others…

Image

Homemade Desserts – This one was an apple pie.  

Image

Who am I kidding!?!?!  Any dessert!  Especially one that’s pretty and enjoyed all alone with peace and quiet on a fall afternoon.

Image

Seeing another change of seasons and all the excitement it brings as we decorate with pumpkins, plan family fun, and coordinate our fall outfits!

Image

The Mr.’s sidewalk chalk art left over from a weekend filled with time together  (NHJR For-Eva Yo!)

Other simple pleasures are a clean house, winds open and a breeze blowing in, a new haircut, seasonal produce, that instant when you finish a great run, open mouth kisses from a little one who hasn’t yet mastered the pucker, time with the Mr. where we don’t discuss any to-dos or logistically situations (even though we both secretly love logistics), a Friday afternoon the moment I pull out of the school parking lot, hugs from students, and oatmeal/almond butter/raspberry jelly desserts that double as health food!  I’m going to enjoy one right now.  What are your simple pleasures?

Image 

 

I like things to be meaningful.  Gifts, meals, cards, events…you name it!  Sometimes…despite my planning and scheduling, things don’t work out exactly as I dream.  Weather, it’s unpredictable to a degree.  People, they are unpredictable too.  Me as well!  First, things are fine and dandy!  Next few minutes, I’m having a meltdown about something silly.  Sound familiar?  Storms could pop up despite the best of intentions and planning to a T.  What can we do?  Grab an umbrella and look for the bright spots each time an overcast day appears on your horizon.

Here we are at Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach…

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Just a little comparison from last year’s “Sword in the Stone” picture!

Image

Image

Image

IMG_1799

I carried my umbrella to ward off the storm clouds, but we ended up being rained out and having to skip the hayride.  We didn’t do this last year, so it was a little of a bummer that we missed out on it again (and that we paid for it!).  We finished out this day with lunch at Back Bay Gourmet which was amazing!  Here is their website.  I would completely recommend going there for lunch.  They were kid-friendly while also still being a nice place to have lunch.  Not a ton of options for kids’ meals, but H enjoyed his grilled cheese which came with chips and apple slices.  I had the Turkey and Cranberry Panini which was so yummy with the bistro spinach salad.   The Mr. had the Working Man’s Roast Beef.  Here we are carving up some jack-o’-lanterns!  This year went much better as we had WWIII at our house last year when the Mr. would not “share” the pumpkin carving with me.  So…one pumpkin for each of this year with Grandma Jewels helping out/playing keep H away from the sharp objects.

IMG_1808IMG_1810

These sweet moments are ours to treasure despite our rainy day.  Happy fall festivities!

1950F063759FBD8D5632F4CA61CFC2E6

5 For Friday

Another whirlwind (that is so a word study or as known in my generation a “spelling” word on today’s tests for the kids, I hope they know it!) week!  It’s been filled with school conferences, yucky cold symptoms, and just a wee bit of sunshine.  I must say that I’m very excited about the cooler temps coming our way as of right now.  🙂  Here are a few other things on my mind…

{ONE}

Pumpkin Carving – We are planning to carve up our two pumpkins that have been guarding the front door this weekend.  I posted previously some tips that I found about carving with a toddler.  You can see that here.  Here is another tip about keeping Mr. Jack-O’-Lantern all fresh and such.  I have never done this before, so maybe it will be a Pinterest DIY experiment???

Image

“After you scoop out and carve your pumpkin, dip it in a large container of bleach and water (use a 1 tsp:1 gal mix). The bleach will kill bacteria and help your pumpkin stay fresh longer. Once completely dry, (drain upside down), add 2 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to a quart of water. Brush this solution onto your pumpkin to keep it looking fresh for weeks.”  Quoted from pin.  Link to original site seems to be broken.  😦

{TWO}

I found a great deal at Aeropostale since I was paying with my Paypal account.  I got the lounge pants pictured below for $7 and some change (shipped and everything!).  I have PJ pants and work-out pants, but sometimes you just need

some comfy lounge pants that don’t look like you’ve been laying in bed all day.

IMG_1710

Slight photo bomb by a creeping dog.
{THREE}
New little boys shirts from Old Navy – I found a great sale randomly at Old Navy last Friday and am just now posting about it.  Sorry for any little boy shoppers!  It was 40% off their long sleeve collections.  I got H 4 3T shirts only to realize that he is most definitely still a 2T.  I blame this mistaken size identity on the fact that he pulled my pearl earring out of the lobe while we were shopping.  Oh my.  I kept relatively calm and didn’t fuss with him, but I was super upset.  He could tell.  As I’m frantically looking around on the floor, he stood very still and then began to bend over and look at the floor as well.  So sweet.  I did eventually find it under a rack of clothing.  Off to the jewelry store for a little unplanned spending to get those little babies fixed right up.  The Mr. gave them to me quite a while ago, and I would have been more than a little disappointed if I had lost one.   Here are the cute shirts that almost were the downfall of those earrings.
IMG_1690
{FOUR}
A weekend at home – We will be in our house, all weekend!  This is exciting since we have been traveling a few times in October.  Although I love when we get to where we are going (mostly to see family), I really struggle with remaining cool, calm, and collected during the process.  Our plans include a visit to the pumpkin patch, time with Auntie and Grandma, meeting new people, church, and having some friends over that are expecting a little boy in February.  I certainly love to talk about little boys!
{FIVE}
Holiday outfit for H – I admit I’m kind of obsessing over the holiday plans this year.  My name is Natalie, and I obsess.  Duh.  Now, I’ve moved off the plans and onto H’s outfit.  I kind of want to get him a ridiculous outfit that screams “I’m a little boy, and it’s Christmas!”  However, I do have a hard time validating spending moola on something that he will wear a handful of times…maybe.  Here are some ideas…
hsd193v0lf_silly_goose_by_vive_la_fete_hand_smocked_santa_claus_boys_overall_1 NUTCRACKER_SMOCK_LONGALL_F_WEB_L_medium
I’m leaning more towards the nutcracker one as the price is better.  But who knows???  I waste a lot of time looking at stuff I do not buy.  I have buyer’s remorse before buying!  lol!
Have a fabulous Friday!
1950F063759FBD8D5632F4CA61CFC2E6