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Friday, July 31, 2009

36 weeks - searching for food!

Janelle from Brimful Curiosities caught me strolling through the Rm 704 party in search of food on Thursday night! {{blushing}} I had planned to skip this party because it was past Sweetpea's bedtime (as you can see she's all set in her pj's and along for the ride) but as we returned home from the People's Party, I realized I was starving! We set out to find an open hotel restaurant and totally struck out. The Rm 704 party was off the lobby near a bar, so we headed that direction, said a few hellos and struck out again with regard to food. Sadly, mama had to settle for water and teddy grahams! The staff kept suggesting I go out for food - call me crazy, but I wasn't about to set foot outside the hotel at 10:30 at night, given our specific set of circumstances.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

6 tips for tackling your to do list!

Now that we're one month out from the expected arrival time of this sweet baby, I've been retooling my "to do before baby" list - most of the items on this week's to do list are related either to preparing to the baby or completing our summer fun list.

Here are 6 tips to help when tackling a big to do list, especially when you might be feeling worn out or overwhelmed to begin with:

1) Be realistic with what you can accomplish - I find it helpful to list out everything on my mind, then cross out some that aren't necessary and postpone others that aren't time critical. Listing out everything helps clear your mind and help you see the big picture.
2) Don't be afraid to delegate! I have a list of food I want prepared ahead of time and ready in the freezer for those blurry eyed first days and weeks. Some of the items on the list are my mom's specialties, and she agreed to make those for me since I asked!
3) Find ways to incorporate items into your daily activities - there are a few rooms I want to declutter over the next few weeks. One of the rooms is Sweetpea's, and I'm planning to have her "help" me...this may add to the overall time it takes to complete the task, but I won't have to try and keep her occupied with something else. This works well with dusting, vacuuming, laundry, and some cooking at Sweetpea's age.
4) Evaluate, track, and re-evaluate your list to make sure it still meets your needs. If you get behind or something changes, don't be afraid to make changes to your list. Your list needs to work for you, not the other way around!
5) If it helps, assign general target dates to each of your list items, or at least order them to help keep yourself moving.
6) Celebrate your successes! Try to make it fun, or at least a positive experience rather than a burden.

Here's my to do list for this week:

- Unpack, clean, put away clothes/etc. from BlogHer
- Declutter and organize Sweetpea's closet
- Declutter the kitchen pantry and throw away old or outdated food as well
- Take a carload of items from the above activities to donate
- Determine what to do about Sweetpea's sleeping arrangements and make it happen
- Finish up freezer cooking for baby (at least my portion of it)
- Measure and draw up some options for where to put baby's crib
- Cook muffins and pumpkin apple butter with Sweetpea
- Take trip to local amusement park with Sweetpea
- Plan and prep for backyard bonfire party later this week!

What's on your to do list this week?

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Starting to menu plan from the garden

Sweetpea and I arrived home from BlogHer about 9 last night, leaving me to put the final touches on our menu plan this morning. I'd sketched out most of it mid last week based on what we had in the pantry or on our schedule. The rest of our meals are based on what looks like it will be available in our garden!

Monday: BLT's and cottage cheese, with milkshakes for dessert
Tuesday: homemade personal pizzas and fresh fruit salad
Wednesday: hot dogs, loaded potato salad and s'mores (at our backyard bonfire!)
Thursday: veggie loaded pasta salad and homemade blackberry ice cream
Friday: mix and match leftovers

I'm also planning to make carrot muffins with Sweetpea this week, thanks to Michelle from Honest and Truly. I found a simple and yummy sounding recipe for pumpkin apple butter from Juicy Juice that I think will go wonderfully with our muffins. I'll share the apple butter recipe later this week.

For more menu planning ideas, visit OrgJunkie. What's on your menu this week?

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Checking in

Let me apologize that these pictures are blurry - the lighting in our room is pretty crappy! It seems like whenever I'm babywearing I'm alone and I wanted to share these fantastic welcome to BlogHer flowers too! ;)

Getting ready to go out in search for food - sadly, we struck out so mommy was stuck eating teddy grahams and a few fruit snacks. We stopped by the room 704 party to check in and say hi, with Sweetpea sporting her pj's. She was totally my social coordinator/icebreaker last night, saying hello and flirting with just about everyone.

This picture is even more blurry because I'm pretty sure my hand is moving - my sweet little one is leaning in for a kiss, excited to go out and meet some more people. I told her we were going to a party and she told everyone it was her birthday party!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To Do, To Do, so much to do!!

In an effort not to bore you, I'm going to stick to the main points on my to do list this week...but I've been wanting to join in this little activity Lisa hosts each week for awhile now. As crazy as this week is, I could make lists of my lists! I'm off to BlogHer on Thursday morning and EmDee is working second shift, so Sweetpea and I are fending for ourselves each night. My aunt is in town and so of course we need to get together with her tonight. I had a dinner party I wanted to go to tomorrow night, but I can't find daycare - it's just as well as I still need to pack!

  • Defrost spaghetti casserole for EmDee to eat while Sweetpea and I are traveling
  • Make list of conference agenda – details I want to make sure not to miss, people I want to make sure to meet!
  • Finish packing list and determine if anything needs purchased
  • PACK!!
  • Visit Sweetpea’s GaSue and my grandparents before we leave
  • Wish Grandma, Mom and GaSue luck at the golf tournament in my famous grandma’s honor this week
  • Write up posts for Thursday and Friday (if possible) to publish while I’m away
  • Determine where my carpool is picking me up on Thursday morning
  • Pick up my fabulous roomie at the airport and proceed to party like BlogStars and network my little bootie off!
  • Show off my little Sweetpea and the fancy duds she’ll be modeling while we’re away

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I’ve been pretty reflective and thoughtful lately, probably because things are so unsettled in my professional life and I’m approaching another (much more important) life change as well. During the day I have no problem staying focused on the present, the bountiful blessings and sweet moments. At night my mind keeps refuses to slow down…thinking…trying to plan for something that can’t really be planned for. I’m trying to write it all out – the “to dos”, the “don’t forgets”, the hopes and dreams. It seems to be helping somewhat, but then there are the more physical reasons for my insomnia – the baby belly, precious kicks and swishes, the leg cramps and night sweats.

This past week started out slowly and then just flew by – the weather has been amazingly pleasant and though not ideal for our tomatoes, it’s perfect for bubble blowing, flower watering and playing superhero. I’m now in full fledged preparation for BlogHer, wondering how it snuck up on my so quickly! I think I now have everything we need and I just have to figure out how to pack it all effectively. Having no idea what I’m really getting into, I can tell I’m going to struggle at being efficient with my clothing choices.

I think I mentioned our home computer raised the white flag right before our vacation a few weeks ago. It was with great enthusiasm and a bit of a happy dance that I resuscitated it this weekend!! I had a disc to reinstall my windows system, but I also had several photos and videos that hadn’t been backed up (bad mommy!) so I was very relieved when somehow I was able to follow several different troubleshooting streams at once and bring things back at least long enough to back up my precious memories.

Here are a few more items from last week’s gratitude list:

*other than insomnia, I’ve been feeling fantastic as this pregnancy progresses*

*everything that HAS to be done pre-baby is done, and though I still have a to do list, I’m feeling very relaxed about what is to come*

*cool mornings and lazy evenings perfect for relaxing and enjoying family*

*watching Sweetpea feel the baby move around in my belly*

*a new farmer's market nearby with excellent produce*

What are you grateful for this week?

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Fun List - progress report

I can't believe it's past mid July, where in the world is this summer going? Luckily, even though the days are passing quickly, we've managed to keep a slower pace, and we're doing a pretty good job of keeping up with our summer list. I need to come up with some fun recipes to cook with Sweetpea over the next few weeks (so far we've stuck with cookies, and at some point that is going to catch up with me!) and I need to turn in her booklet for the summer reading program. I'm thinking our bonfire will be next week complete with s'mores and catching fireflies - I'm not sure which one of us is looking forward to it more!

How is your summer going? I'd love to hear some of the highlights!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Cruisin' the boardwalk

Baby bump, 34wks

Does it seem like cheating that I keep dressing in black? I'm not sure it's working so well to minimize things anymore? ;)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beach Bummin'

Sweetpea would make a great full time beach bum. She loved the sun, the sand, the water...wasn't totally sure about the bigger waves, but I'm sure she'd get used to that given time as well. Here are some shots from our vacation - we stayed at a great family friendly place, in a 2 bedroom condo with an ocean view. Between the condo and the beach were a kiddie pool, a more "standard" pool, a lazy river and a smaller pool with a big water slide. With the exception of the big slide, we spent a lot of time at each pool and the beach.

The kiddie pool had a great little play set right in the middle of it. We spent a lot of time here, especially when the heat index reached 104!

The slide was a definite favorite!

Mommy, look at all this sand!!

Sweetpea met a sweet pair of 4 year old twins and the three of them were together for two days straight until they had to go home. She's been asking, "Mommy, where are my friends?" ever since. Unfortunately it was pretty humid when I was taking these pictures and this is the only one that turned out.

Sweetpea loved digging in the sand - she did a lot more scratching designs and digging holes this year than last year. She wasn't content to let us build her sandcastles, before they were completed they were pillaged every time.

A bucket, shovel, sand and some water = hours of entertainment!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick & easy meat and potatoes skillet casserole

EmDee is a classic meat and potatoes guy...he enjoys nearly every kind of food, but if I want to make a meal I know he'll love, I know what combo to go with - it's definitely comfort food for him. When I need a quick and easy version of meat and potatoes, this is it.

1lb ground beef
3-4 medium potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
~2 cups chicken broth
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
~1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated American cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef and remove to a bowl for later. You may want to reserve some of the fat from the beef to crisp your potatoes a little, that's up to you. Add the diced potatoes and onion to your skillet and spread them out evenly. Pour in the chicken broth to just cover everything. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for ~15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. (smaller pieces will cook up more quickly for you. Diced potatoes or hash browns could be substituted here to save even more time)
Once the chicken broth has nearly cooked away, add the beef back to your potatoes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and mushroom soup, stir to combine.

Sprinkle in the shredded cheese and stir until melted - then sit back and relax until dinner is served! :) For a more traditional "casserole" you could always put this in the oven with the cheese on top, but this time of year I like to leave my oven off as much as possible.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu planning and make ahead meals

This week I'm doing quite a bit of freezer cooking in preparation for baby, so I'm making double batches of several recipes with similar ingredients to make things simpler. I prepped most of the meat this weekend... Here's what's on the menu:

Monday: spaghetti and garlic bread with green salads
Tuesday: cheesy beef & rice casserole and corn cakes
Wednesday: spaghetti casserole and green beans
Thursday: leftovers - mix & match ground beef ;)
Friday: pumpkin berry pancakes and veggie scrambles

What's on your menu this week? I'd love any suggestions for good freezer meals - as I'm working to stock things up to simplify meals the first several weeks after baby is born! For more menu planning inspiration, visit OrgJunkie.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Many little gifts each day

I am so grateful to have had this week to rest up and recover from our fantastic Florida vacation. I'm feeling really good still with this pregnancy, but I'm definitely having trouble sleeping at night, mostly because I can't stay comfortable for long. The heartburn is back, but started much later this time than when I was pregnant with Sweetpea.

The time off also gave me some more time to spend time with Sweetpea before she becomes the big sister. She is at such a fun age - so verbal and coming up with some adorable ideas. While we were on vacation she had some scratches on her feet from trips around the pool. She pointed to a little cut on her toe one morning and told me, "look Mommy, I have a boo boo on the finger of my foot!" She has started acting out some of her favorite books or shows - she'll tell me who I am and who she is, and she does a great job or remembering her lines.

Another favorite game lately is playing "super Sweetpea" where we put dishtowels in the backs of our shirts and run around finding things to save. I get to be her sidekick, supermom! I admit, no matter the context, there is something magical about hearing your daughter call you supermom. ;)

Here are a few more entries from my gratitude journal this week:

*an amazing amount of beautiful snapdragons in our front flower garden that came up from last year's seed droppings. Sweetpea helped me pick a beautiful bouquet of them to brighten the kitchen this week!*

*snacking strawberries and raspberries straight from the plant*

*watching Sweetpea explore the garden each morning looking for new vegetables and ripe fruit*

*cooler weather and gentle rain, a welcome relief from the heat and the dust*

*the smell of freshly cut grass and clover on a hot day*

What are you grateful for this week?

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Friday, July 10, 2009

My little sprout

I wanted to share some adorable photos we had taken prior to our vacation!

This adorable and versatile outfit is handmade in the midwest and can be found at Neptune Sprouts! It is reversible (see contrasting fabric in photo above, of Sweetpea "twirling like a princess") and grows with your child, turning from a knee length dress into a tunic top.

This pose cracked me up - she could fold her hands or cross her legs, but not both at the same time...love that toothy little grin she's sporting!

Chubby little toddler hands and feet are so kissable, and I love how happy she looks here!

Another peak at the contrasting fabric around the edges - if you're attending BlogHer you're welcome to come take a closer look!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Organizing Tip Thursday - Organizing your travel fun

A few weeks ago we had a travel edition of our Thursday tips. In that post I linked to an idea for activity binders to keep kids entertained while traveling. Since Sweetpea and I were flying together to our vacation, I was excited to try this idea out. Below are some photos of our completed travel fun binder with some specifics about what was in in it. I love how you can vary you content to suit the specific interests and age of each child!

Of course I couldn't resist making a fun cover sheet for Sweetpea's travel fun binder...

The original link for the travel binder included resources for several free printables. We had a couple of dollar store coloring books that I tore pages out of instead for this trip. In the future if I don't have extra coloring books laying around I will definitely print out my own pages. These pictures were taken after our trip, notice the stickers that Sweetpea used to decorate this particular binder sleeve. ;)

I picked up a couple of dollar store sticker books prior to our trip and cut out enough pages to ensure we would have stickers for both directions.

I included some favorite soft cover books that fit nicely into our binder - we read these on the plane and they served double duty as bedtime stories each night!

Another dollar store find - princess paper dolls! I also cut out some characters from various ads we'd been sent in the mail (see map from Dora the explorer peaking out from behind Cinderella) and some free coloring handouts we happened to have for this sleeve.

And last, but definitely not least, a dollar store puzzle! This puzzle was the perfect size to fit on our fold down tray on the plane. I put it into a Ziploc sandwich bag before putting it into the sleeve to help keep us from losing pieces.

I was careful to book direct flights to help ensure our travel was low stress, but this binder really helped keep Sweetpea entertained, and it was great for keeping everything organized!
What organizing projects are you working on? I'd love to hear about them! I'm still having trouble with Mr. Linky, so please leave any links in your comments.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coming out of the fog - sort of...

I had a "going on vacation" post scheduled for a week ago Sunday, along with some scheduled posts while we were away, but blogger decided to go on strike for me right before we left and none of it would publish correctly! That said, it was nice to be unplugged for a bit over a week.
We had a fantastic vacation! Sweetpea was a champ on the plane both directions and we stayed in a great place right on the beach with lots of family friendly activities nearby. We returned home very late on Monday night - no one slept well that night, so I definitely feel like I've been in a fog since arriving home. Luckily we had a washer and drier at our condo, so there isn't a big pile of laundry hanging over my head, just the "to do before baby arrives" list to get back to.

I'm definitely feeling my body tell me to slow down and take it easy, though I'm still feeling really good. I'll be napping, nesting, enjoying some one on one time with Sweetpea and sorting through vacation photos the next few days. I'll leave you with this sneaky 33wk belly shot EmDee took at the kiddie pool a few days ago.

What have you been up to?

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