Monday, January 30, 2012

[Going Green] Earth Mama Goddess

... is what I think my hippie of a mother once referred to herself as. 

Well, the apple didn't fall far from the tree.  I mean, I may not drive a VW Bus, vacation at Woodstock, or have an odd fascination with Stevie Nicks... (wait, I totally do for that last one!), but I am definitely a bit of a big ol' tree hugger on the inside under all that J.Crew.



I want to preface this post, and the related posts that will follow, that parenting decisions (hell, any life decisions) should be all based on what works for you best.  I am by no means saying that to others who make other choices different from my own, are "wrong" for doing them that way.  It's more that I thought I would share my experiences and, with that, the reasoning behind how I made them.  I've gained a lot of knowledge from reading similar stories online, and just thought I'd share my own decisions here in case there are readers who are interested why we selected certain products or went with particular techniques.  At the same time, while some of our decisions may not be "normal" ones, I hope they are respected as they are ours, and ours alone.

The Husband and I already live a lifestyle where we focus on making a lot of eco-friendly choices.  He's a stickler for recycling anything that should be, including listing things for free on craigslist to give them a new home before putting them on the curb and sending them to sit in a landfill.  I monitor the electricity usage, making sure lights and televisions are shut off when not in use, thermostats turned down (and sweats and blankets piled on) and clothes are mainly cold water washed.  However, I do love myself a hot shower - you win some, you lose some.   We support companies with green initiatives or those that are local.   And we both are sticklers for what we put in our bodies in regards to our diet (which I've already discussed here before). 

Of course, not everything is perfect so it's all about choosing your battles and feeling good about the decisions you do make.  I'm no poster child for Green Living (hello, I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee), but I do the best I can with works easily in my life.  In the land of making decisions for our pending arrival, it's all about doing what we think will work for us and in the end make us and our baby happy.


We've made a decent amount of decisions thus far based on our ideals that natural is best.  I thought I'd give a little overview here, and then follow up weekly with more in depth posts of why and how we made each of those decisions.




1 - Our Crib!  Holy Cow, it's been ordered by our in-laws and might even be here and assembled by the weekend!  This decision, and the mattress that goes along with it, were two things I researched to death.  Can't wait to share the how and why this one became our winner!

2 - Cloth Diapers.  This is one item that you can find a TON of personal accounts of online.  While I still get a lot of side eyes from people who use disposables and don't believe we'll stick to our cloth diapering pledge, it seems anyone who does use them -loves them and finds them to be incredibly easy.  We already have about half our stash, so while I don't have any user reviews yet, I can't wait to share why we are going this route.

3 - Natural Hygiene Products.  I've been slowly swapping my own personal care products for ones free of parabens, synthetics, and long lists of chemicals I can't pronouce - why would I choose not to do the same for my baby?

4/5 - Eco-Friend Toys and Gear.  Plastics can be full of BPA and other toxic finishes, especially when made in other countries (which most are).  I will definitely buy my fair share of items that won't meet this criteria, but it's about balance.  For every plastic based jumperoo, I'd like to use natural teething rings, bpa free pacifers, and wooden grasping toys.

6 - Glass bottles.  While the ultimate goal is to nurse, I know far too many friends who just simply couldn't.  I want to do what is best for my baby and if it's just not working (latching, supply, weight gain, etc) I'm not going to insist on it over my baby's health.  Either way, at some point, breast milk or formula will be given through a bottle - gotta get daddy involved in the feeding process!  And for that, I'm hoping to stick with glass bottles.

7 - Homemade Baby Grub.  Once she is old enough to graduate to some solids with her milk, I plan to feed her the same organic veggies we eat. 



I'm sure there are some other items or decisions I'm already forgetting (baby brain, much?), but I'll be back weekly with fuller posts on each item to share why it's right for us.  Hopefully, you readers can share your stories and advice as well.  I'm a big supporter of Never Saying Never, and not because I'm a Justin Bieber fan. 

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Surprise!










..... bet you didn't see that one coming!



Our Little A has a name.  The name was actually really simple for us since we've loved it for what seems like years now.  To me, Ashlynn is a modern take on the classically Irish Aisling - which can be be difficult for a lot of people to figure out the proper pronunciation (or spelling), which is "Ash-lin" though a lot of people use "A's - lin", and the "g"... totally silent, which can throw people for a loop when trying spell over the phone.  You know, sorta like a double N in Erinn.   Oh wait, there is a double N in Ashlynn?... well call it 29 years of brainwashing, but two N's just look better to me than one!

Going Irish was pretty simple, we both have Irish Names and an Irish last name with just seems to flow better than say something Italian, which we don't have any heritage of anyway.


Lastly, it means "Dream".  Which this little girl of mine has been for a long, long time.




Oh and Hazel, I'm sure you can figure that out!..... We can't wait to meet you A!

Monday, January 23, 2012

[Babycakes] 5th Month Run Down


Today marks the start of my 6 month, the last month in my 2nd Tri.  I thought since I don't do weekly posts about the pregnancy progress, just whatever is randomly on my mind, I'd post a bunch of random facts - one for myself, as a way to journal and two for those who are interested in the journey.



1 - Weird habit.  I haven't worn nail polish since before I got my positive pregnancy test.  I know some Essie polishes still have formaldehyde and other not so pregnancy friendly chemicals, so I just avoided it.  Also, my nails are growing LIKE CRAZY!  It seems like more effort than it's worth to have paint them every 5 days or less at the rate they are growing.

2 - Sleep.  Sleep has been hit or miss for me since about 7 or 8 weeks.  At first it was for the 3 bathroom breaks I was forced to take during the night, then it led into some crazy back pain.  I only really get up about once now for the bathroom, and my back has been significantly better since having my rib put back in place.

3 - Weight gain.  Our scale is broken at home so I only get weighed at my appointments.  I have another one on Wednesday, but as of last month (at 19 wks) I was up 9lbs.

4 - Cravings.  Still haven't really had any "send the Husband to the grocery store" type cravings. While earlier on I was craving animal protein (since I don't eat it other than fish), I haven't really had too much of that since.  I notice a lot I find myself wanting a salad with crisp and crunchy lettuce.  I don't know if it's because it just sounds refreshing, and it's definitely not the lettuce itself I have to have, more than the texture and coolness of it.  At least it's healthy!

I do get a fleeting craving for cake or cupcakes every now and then, but the pass as quickly as they come...

5 - Favorite Thing #1.  Baxter and Penny are constantly piled up on my belly.  It's like they are penguins taking turns incubating an egg.  She's actually been kicking them a lot now, so I wonder if she can hear or feel their heartbeats. They haven't really seemed to notice the kicks, but Baxter definitely gave me a funny look when he got one whomping.

6 -  Shopping.  After we found out she was a girl, I bought her some clothes from Baby Gap and added a few maternity staples to my order (plain tank, v-necks, and long sleeve shirts).  I figured I would be able to wear them under my regular cardigans and tops.  This past week I finally found the need to wear them.  I still fit in a lot of my regular tops, but it's nice to have the extra length.  I ordered a few more things last week - a pair of jeans, some more t's and tanks for spring when I will definitely need them, and of course, more clothes for Baby A!

7 - Favorite Thing #2.  I already mentioned this over the weekend, but dance party that goes on when Husband reads to her makes my heart melt.  She knows her daddy.  And it's official, she's a much bigger fan of Go Dog Go, than Are You My Mother?..... Wonder how she would take to Harry Potter??? 

8 - Belly Button.  It's definitely changing.  Still an innie, but I think it's days are numbered.


9 - Worries.  I haven't had too many the last few weeks, it's been a first!  However, now that I have an appointment on Wednesday all the "what ifs" are coming back.  They are always so nerve wracking!  Fingers crossed all is well!

10 - Size of Baby.  According to Babycenter, she's more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound - about the size of a large mango.

11 - Favorite Moment of the 5th Month - I wish I could say the whole month!  Movement really picked up and we found she was a she and that she was completely healthy!  I finally dropped my guard and got excited that we may really get to meet her in May and we even started the nursery decorations.  The shower planning is underway and overall, aside from my back, I had little symptom complaints.  It was by far my favorite month.  Can't wait to see how Month 6 measures up.

.... If I had to pick a favorite moment, it'd be the reveal.




Did/do you have any weird pregnancy habits?

[Recipe Share Sunday] Strawberry Nutella Smoothie

Ok, it's not really Sunday.  However, I promised I would post this Sunday, so I'm pretending for a moment I'm still on track.

On Saturday, I was really craving a smoothie with chocolate in it.  Since we have a gigantic bag of frozen strawberries in the freezer, I pinterest searched for "strawberry smoothie" to see what I could find recipe wise.


... and then I saw this.


Of course I changed the recipe a little to my liking, but wow, what a treat (that doesn't make you feel too guilty to indulge!)




Blend Together....

1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
3/4 C Milk
1/2 C Greek Yogurt
1/4 C Nutella


easy peasy and delicious!  Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowflakes and Random Thoughts



1.  It snowed for the 1st time since Halloween.  Welcome Winter, Baxter is very happy to see you.

2.  Apparently, I've had a dislocated rib for the last month.  True Story.

3.  I just made a ridiculous smoothie and will share the recipe tomorrow!

4.  Custom curtains ordered - check!  Crib and Mattress ordered -  (eek!) check! (thanks to my in-laws!) Blinds put back up after painting - No Check... can't figure it out.  We got one set up, the other is being quite stubborn.  And as a result, after my daily stare at the closet of cute little clothing (which is continuing to grow), I glare angrily at the half blindless window.

5.  Go Dog Go is Baby A's favorite book.  It's also the Husband's favorite childhood book.  I told him he needs to "talk to her" more so she can get to know his voice, so he'll be soothing when she arrives.  He feels a bit uncomfortable having conversations with her while I "sit in" on them.  He said instead that he'll read to her, which is probably the thing he's looking forward to most after her arrival.  He went to the bookstore the other night and picked up a bunch of books, of course we started with Go Dog Go and while he read the story at bedtime, she was kicking up a storm the whole time!  Granted, she normally has a little bedtime energy burst, but this was a full out dance party.  I have a feeling I'll know this book by heart before she's even here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Five and Five: Color Evolution

When I first started decorating the nursery in my mind, it looked a little like this....



When we found out we were having a girl, I decided to not go so crazy with the modern graphic prints and have some softer touches, while still going with the original color plans...



Then I decided on an evolved color scheme in my head, that would still stay true to my non-straight out of a nursery catalog look, while still being modern and girly at the same time - without being PINK.  I'm going for the unexpected here, folks....

slate, mustard/sunny yellow, coral, and aqua



After the room was finally cleared on Saturday, I unloaded the loot!


(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

1.  George the Terrier is a must.  I've been looking for an excuse to grab this little 'Boston Bank' for awhile now.  Nothing like teaching her young about saving money, I mean we parents are accountants after all - who would have guessed, right??

2. I bought this print from Etsy back in the summer.  It was shortly after I posted this Ode to Pennants.  I figured it'd eventually live in a nursery, or possibly even a guest bathroom until that time came.

3. Mr. Pig.  This was my 8th Grade Shop Class Project.  I kid you not.  I already mastered the skills of a key rack and coat rack earlier in my middle school career, so when given the option of making a step stool or a shelf in the shape of an animal came in 8th grade, you bet I picked the cute little piggy.  This guy has traveled from my bedroom I grew up in, to my dorm room, to my college apartment, to the storage space in our adult home where the Husband no longer had to look at it.  He's in a real bad need of a paint job - the pig, not the Husband.  I'm still deciding between coral and aqua. I guess we'll see what the room needs more of... yellow is the primary accent, with coral and aqua being secondary touches.

4. A is for Anthro.  Not really, A is for Baby A. And the coral knobs will be for A's dresser once we pick it up and put it together (hopefully in two weeks - I want this schtuff off the floor!).

5. Another Anthro pick up (along with the elephant hook I didn't mention sitting on the pig shelf).  I used my 15% off Birthday Discount on Sunday to pick up all these goodies.  The vase was a last second grab.  To be honest, I'm not sure how many non-child friendly things I can really put in the room.  The zinc A will hang out of little hands way on the wall, George will be placed on a shelf, but the vase...  It might just look pretty somewhere until someone is old enough to toddle around and knock it over.  It just fit the color scheme so well I couldn't pass it up.  It may go back, well see what happens as the space evolves...



Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bump-date: 5th Month (18-22 Weeks)

It feels like it's been FOREVER since I posted my pictures of my growing bump. The 4th month seemed to fly by, but the 5th has totally dragged... it was probably that 5th week added in. (I'm going by the monthly break down in What to Expect When You're Expecting).

Let's get started. 


(still easily concealed in looser tops, though I think this is where I started getting the 'is she pregnant or putting on weight?' side eyes)

(oh, how obvious it is I still miss my caffeine in the morning!)






Slow and steady it's growing, I'm definitely still very happy to be fitting in most my regular tops and sweaters. I did finally buy some more basics from Gap Maternity (long sleeves, t-shirts, and camis) to wear under my normal cardigans since I think I'll need the added length soon.

Last Friday, I got my first prenatal massage. It was glorious. I had snagged a groupon deal a month back, so I still have the gift card that the Husband got me for my birthday. I'm going to try to wait another month before putting that one to use! I can definitely see how they could be addicting...

I also realized I haven't revealed our baby name yet.... soon. It's coming!



And finally, when we were home between Christmas and New Year's we had fully painted the nursery. Since the husband was home to attempt to use the DSLR (my god is camera challenged!), I had him snap some bump shots in the nursery for a little before and after.



Finally painted!

I actually did the trim and doors this past weekend, the outlet covers have been put back on, and the last of the office furniture has been removed. We are ready to decorate!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

[Crafty Lady] Side Project

Along with painting, furnishing, and decorating the nursery... and doing all sorts of other baby prep, I have a little list of side projects.  Some are updates around the house, some are little crafty things to make their way into the nursery, and some are just totally and completely random.

I just ordered this amazing fabric from Spoonflower.com.  While not the cheapest fabric around, I didn't need too much - and hopefully it won't be too delayed before I can show you why. 




Yeah, I know.  How predictable.  Pennants.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Every Morning...

   




Every morning after getting ready, I stop in the nursery before I head downstairs.  After our "reveal" I bought some itty bitty hangers to hang up her itty bitty clothes.  I go in her room and peek in the closet and dream of reasons that would be appropriate to put a newborn in a bathing suit.

Maybe we'll have "Swim Suit Sundays" in our house, where she can just rock out summer style in between naps and feedings.  All I know, is that little suit's ruffly butt makes me melt.

I told the Husband about my new habit, the morning closet peeks, and he admitted he's been known to check out her room before he leaves the house from time to time too - only instead of drooling over adorable clothes, he admires our paint job....


If you aren't interested in the itty bitty sizes and prefer the adult sized clothing, I'm wearing the following:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

[Recipe Share Sunday] Baked French Toast

On Black Friday, instead of hitting the malls at 4am, we headed to my In-Laws around 10am for brunch.  My mom was visiting for Thanksgiving and it's always nice to try to get our "4 Christmases" style family together.  My Step Mother in Law made this casserole and after crushing two servings and not touching any of the other items on the table, I knew I'd be making it myself!

After my own Step Mother gave me a load of challah bread on Christmas (a tradition, she always grabs everyone their own loaf when picking up all the Baklava at the Greek Bakery... well, she refers to it as Easter Bread, but can someone tell me if these are the same thing? Because they sure as hell seem like it... ) Anyway, I decided to use it for my own French Toast Casserole to make for New Year's Morning... Birthday Breakfast!


This french toast needs nothing added to it, but your favorite berries - I recommend blueberries, lots of them!




Baked French Toast

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp of Karo Syrup (any baking syrup will do)
1/4 lb butter
1 C tightly packed brown sugar
1 Loaf Challah Bread
5 eggs
1 1/2 C Milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Combine first three ingredients into a saucepan and simmer into syrupy.
  2. Pour into bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish.
  3. Slice bread into 1 1/4" slices (approx 12)
  4. Lay them in the baking over the syrup.
  5. Beat other ingredients together and pour over bread, place in refrigerator overnight.
  6. Bake at 350 for 45minutes when ready!
Dust with powdered sugar and serve with berries.



It's a great recipe for brunches or family get togethers (and super easy too!)  I sent it to my friend who was hosting a family holiday brunch and she said it was hit.  I hope you all enjoy it too!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

[Little Room] Come Together!






Things are starting to come together.  The paint is on the walls, all I need to do it is repaint the trim a bright white and start picking out fabrics!



If you go back to my mood board, I have a TON of fabric swatches saved.  Now that we know she's a SHE (yay!), for the curtains I'm thinking of going for something with either a bit more color (like corally reds and aquas - like the swatch above) or something light an airy (like the swatch below) and then going bolder with the bedding.



I ordered the classic and ubiquitous MadebyGirl Love print in Candy Yellow, I can wait to see how it goes with my Serena & Lily Buddy and Honey Pie Designs Smile Pillows.  I already own an extra Ikea frame that it will fit, I just need to freshen up the mat inside.  Why do the mats in Ikea frames always turn so dingy??  I'm hoping a small foam roller and some white paint will do the trick...


The furniture probably won't arrive for some time (although the crib, dresser, and rocker have all be picked out!), but I plan on doing lots of little crafty projects in the mean time... art, pennants, and some repurposing of things from my own childhood.  Slowly and surely this room will come together!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year's Friends!







... and Happy Birthday to me!
We are having a GIRL!!





May 2012 bring you everything you ever wanted!