Monday, December 20, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway WINNER!

Drum roll, please! The winner according to is.....


Heather, I have sent you an e-mail with all the information you need! Enjoy your $35 gift certificate to CSN Stores!

We have some major snow coming down today! We already have approximately 4 inches and we have a Winter Weather Advisory in effect until 10 PM tonight. I can't wait to bundle the kids up and head out tomorrow for some sledding! I hope to have pictures posted later this week. It has been quite awhile since I posted some current pictures so I need to get on that!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway!

Since starting this little blog back in 2008, I have received numerous requests to host giveaways. Unfortunately, most of them are items I would not want to bother my readers with. For example, the past three requests were for a toothbrush, holiday chocolates and a personalized song by a music duo. Boring, right?

When CSN Stores contacted me about hosting a giveaway for my readers I was very excited! With over 200 stores online, CSN sells everything you could possibly need including home decor, tools, bedding, lighting and even TV stands! The possibilities are endless!

One lucky Life in the Hen House reader will snag a $35 gift certificate good at any one of their online stores! In order to enter the rules are simple:

1.)Become a follower of my blog (right sidebar) and leave a comment telling me that you are a follower. If you are already a follower just let me know in your comment.

2.) Include your e-mail address in your comment so I am able to contact you if you win.

That's it! I will announce the winner on Monday morning! Good luck!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Our Card

I send out "Happy New Year" cards every year from our family.

Last year was the first year I attempted it since the year before I had just sent out "birth announcements" that were really "welcome home" announcements when Jacob came home from the NICU. Since it was September by the time we mailed them I didn't bother sending anything else out.

Last year, I took a picture of both kids together that came out great and a picture of each kid separate which was easy with Grace since she was still immobile, but trying to get Jacob to sit still and not flip over and try to get off the couch took about 52 takes. I was exhausted! Unfortunately, since the card was made by Tiny Prints I do not have a proof of the card that was sent, but here are the pics we used:

Notice the tears on Jacob's face?! This year, I was fortunate that we had just had our family portraits done by Black Thumb Studio and I decided to use Becca from Jumping Jax Designs to make our card. She recently revamped my blog with our new Life in the Hen House theme. She is a work-at-home Mama who is also a preemie Mama just like me! She does fabulous work and I had to share this year's card with you all:

It completely describes how I feel. Blessed.

If you are still in need of a holiday card, a blog design, a logo or birth announcements check out her website! She is great to work with!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jacob's Orthopedic Follow-Up

This morning I dropped Grace off bright and early with her Auntie Jill and headed into Boston with Jacob for his follow-up with the Orthopedist.

When he got the cast off back on September 9th the doctor told us he would limp for approximately 3 months so not to expect him to stop limping until this appointment. Jacob only limped for about 4 weeks and then was back to jumping with both feet off the ground and running! I cringed every time he jumped or fell for the first few weeks, but he seems to be doing fine. He is doing well navigating on uneven surfaces and I don't notice any difference in the way he walks.

I was not shocked when the doctor remarked on how well he has recovered. I had a chance to take a look at the x-rays and you wouldn't believe the difference from the day of the break to now. There is so much new bone regrowth and it is making his leg good and strong so the doctor said I shouldn't be nervous at all. He actually said it would take a very serious fall (worse than the original fall) to break that leg again.

His right leg is still slightly shorter by 1-1.5 cm, but the doctor said they prefer to have it heal this way since the broken leg tends to grow faster once it starts healing and they want his legs to even out in the end.

Overall, they were very happy to see him up and running all over the place! He doesn't have to be seen again until next Summer and they will do another x-ray to make sure everything is starting to catch up.

I have been slacking lately on posts and pictures, but we are heading to Edaville Railroad this weekend for the annual Festival of Lights and since the railroad is up for sale for a cool $10 million this may very well be the last year we can take the kids. I remember going to the Festival of Lights when I was a kid and I am excited to take my own kids! Hopefully, I will have lots of pictures to post this weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

March for Babies - 2011

I am excited to tell you that the dates for the 2011 March for Babies have been announced!

Our walk here in Boston is going to be on Saturday, May 7th @ 12:30 PM and begins at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River. It is a very leisurely 3 mile stroll around the Charles River and has phenomenal views of the skyline and the city itself.

If you are interested in joining Team Chicken Wing, please feel free to contact me or visit our team page here to join.

If you would like to contribute by donating to our walk there is a badge on the left sidebar of the blog. We are attempting to raise $1,000 this year so even the smallest donation of $5 will help us reach that goal!

Thank you for your continued support of this worthy cause!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Friday

Yes, I am one of the crazies who is out at 4 AM.

No, you will not catch me waiting in line overnight at Target, Best Buy or Toys R Us.

I love the Black Friday deals, but I am not a huge fan of the cutting, stampedes or long lines. There is no deal at Target worth standing in line for 2+ hours outside the store only to stand in line INSIDE for another hour to pay for those deals. I had to wait in line at Gap for 20 minutes and thought I was going to pass out from the hot flashes I was having (Note to self: Do not wear hooded sweatshirt in Mall on Black Friday EVER AGAIN!)

That being said, I do like to shop the smaller sales early to get the best selection and I would have to say it was a success. This was only my second year shopping on Black Friday, but I love Black Friday for a number of reasons:

1.) Being able to shop BY MYSELF without having to listen to two screaming children or balance an armful of bags while pushing a stroller.

2.) Having some alone time even if it means having to deal with two obnoxious women fighting over one DVD that they most likely were only saving a few dollars on.

3.) Breakfast sandwich from Dunkin Donuts and a Starbucks Chai. 'Nuff said.

This year Gap was offering 50% off everything until 10 AM ::squeal:: and since we all know I am a huge fan of all things babyGap (and Gap!) I was in line waiting when the doors opened at 5 AM at South Shore Plaza. I was the first one in line at babyGap (there were only 8 of us waiting in kind of BF sale) and I walked out with a winter coat for Jacob, a dress I have been eyeing for Grace for the Spring and a beautiful, red trench coat for Grace for next Fall (my favorite find of the day at only $9.97!!!).

I wandered up to Gap and spent a small fortune there, but was able to buy myself two cardigans, three sweaters, one top and a pair of jeans. I managed to score two mock half-zip pullovers, four waffle knit long-sleeve tees, one sweater, two pairs of boxers and a pair of pajama pants for Ian.

After I made my way home, we loaded the kids in the car and headed for the in-laws to celebrate Thanksgiving with them since we spent Thanksgiving at my Aunt's house. Ian's family has a huge Thanksgiving extravaganza tradition at their house which includes brunch and exchanging gifts. It currently looks like Toys R Us threw up in my Living Room and I am already pulling new toys to put away for future use and bagging up old toys for Goodwill because we just have nowhere to put them all!

Jacob's gift from his Papa and Gaga was Toy Story 3 on DVD and we wrapped up our Black Friday with a movie night on the couch. As soon as I get around to uploading all of my pictures I will update this post with a few! I have another post coming this week with some of our family portraits from the fabulous Black Thumb Studio. They are amazing!!! They are the best pictures we have ever had taken and I am working on finding new frames for them because they are that unbelieveable. My old frames aren't worthy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is my favorite day of the entire year!

There is nothing better than family, friends and good food! I have so much to be thankful for today and every day.

As usual, I will start my Thanksgivings post off with Jacob. I am so blessed to have him here with us and I know I always mention this, but there is something about having a child with a 39% chance of survival that makes you always count that blessing first. We are so blessed to be sharing this day with him and we are so thankful to God for our miracle.

We are also blessed to be spending our second Thanksgiving with Grace! We love our baby girl so much and cannot imagine our little family without her!

I am blessed to have an amazing husband who works extremely hard each and every day so that I can stay home with our babies which is another incredible blessing. I love being home with them and watching them grow and learn new things every day. I couldn't imagine being away from them all day and I am very blessed that I am able to be home with them.

It is important to remember to count our blessing not only today, but every day! I hope you all have a wonderful and very happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Prematurity Awareness Day

Today is Prematurity Awareness Day!

Jacob was born at 24w5d weighing 1 lb 7 oz and 11.5 inches long. At his lowest, he weighed only 1 lb 4 oz which is the equivalent of a 20 oz bottle of soda or water.

He has come so far the past three years and is proof that miracles do happen!

Unfortunately, not all babies are as lucky as Jacob. According to the National Center of Health Statistics, the US earned a D for their efforts in preventing premature birth. The state of Massachusetts scored a C which is the highest grade ANY state in the US received. This is unacceptable! The rate of premature birth in the US is higher than that of most other developed nations!

Tonight the Empire State Building was lit up purple in honor of Prematurity Awareness Day. You can check it out here.

What can we do about this? A good place to start is the March of Dimes and their annual March for Babies! Every year my family walks to honor Jacob and all babies born too soon. If you want to help go here to make a monetary contribution to the March of Dimes.

If you would rather help by donating your time go here to learn about volunteer opportunities within the March of Dimes.

If you are interested in joining Team Chicken Wing and walking with us in May of 2011, send me a message and I will keep you posted with all the details!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

15 Months

Grace was 15 months on October 22nd, but she just had her 15 month well visit this afternoon.

I was 99.9999999% positive that she was going to weigh more than Jacob at her appointment today. I know the day is coming and at the rate she is going she will definitely pass him by her 18 month appointment in January, but for the time being Jacob has a slight margin on her.

Here are Grace's stats from today:

Weight: 24 lb 12 oz (74%)
Height: 31.5 inches (75%)
Head: 48.0 cm (93%) ?!?!

I know. My kids have huge heads. I blame Ian's side of the family.

Here are Jacob's numbers:

Weight: 25 lb 5 oz (5%)
Height: 34.3 inches (5%)

Can you believe it?! This is the closest they have ever been and Grace is only 9 oz shy of Jacob. He still has a good three inches on her though so there is a significant difference in their height. People still ask me on a daily basis if they are twins.

I was kind of surprised when Jacob weighed in at only 25 pounds because this is the first time he has been weighed since he broke his leg in July. He was in a cast for 7 weeks and completely immobile so I was sure he would gain more than that, but seeing as he grew OVER AN INCH (in 3 months) I guess it makes sense.

Two weeks and counting until Thanksgiving!! Can you believe it?!


Not in the come-in-take-off-your-jacket-stay-awhile way, but more in the appropriate-response-to-thank-you sort of way.

Currently, Jacob's biggest delay due to his prematurity is in the speech category. At his last assessment, he was measuring at 26 months for gross motor, fine motor and cognition. His receptive language was 19 months and his expressive language was 20 months.

We have been working feverishly for what seems like FOREVER to try and get this kid to talk. He started talking around 2, but when I say talk I mean repeating certain words we nagged him about on a daily basis. Like "say hi", "say please", "say Grace", etc. Usually he was pretty good about responding to us and repeating what we asked of him even if it wasn't very coherent in the beginning. He picked up on single words pretty quickly and learned the entire cast of Sesame Street in a day so he must have a good memory.

Although Jacob has been saying hundreds of individual words for months and months, our latest struggle has been two word phrases. Most kids his age are speaking in broken sentences (think caveman), but we haven't been able to get Jacob to say two words together, that is until about a month and a half ago. Whenever it is time to eat, or change a diaper I say "come on" to Jacob and wave him over to the gate so I can let him out of the play area. He comes running, we do what we have to do and go about our day. One day, when I said, "Jacob, let's change your diaper" his response was "come on, come on". I almost fell over! It came out of nowhere and I had been trying so desperately hard for him to say ANY two word phrase and I had never even thought about "come on". We had been working really hard, but on things like Hi Mama, let's go or thank you, (which usually comes out as one word and sounds more like "tanktoo").

Since that day, he has now started saying thank you, turn around, oh no, oh man, excuse me and go away. He has really started trying to imitate whatever it is he hears. The other day, while watching Jack's Big Music Show, the Schwartzman Quartet (for those of you familiar with this wonderful show) was singing Rain, Rain Go Away and when they got to the line "come again another day" Jacob yelled "COME-AH!" when they said come again and he was so proud of himself!

About a week ago, we were cleaning up in the play room and Jacob came over to hand me something. I said "thank you, Jacob" and he responded "welcome". I was floored! It is the first word he has said on his own without us prompting him to say it. We have been working so hard on him grasping the concept of please and thank you that we hadn't even attempted to make him say you're welcome. The kid is already confused enough! Every time he asks for something and I say, "what do you say?" He goes, "pleasethankyou'scuse me" to cover all his bases. He really has a hard time grasping which phrase and situation are appropriate.

Yesterday, in the car, we drove by a big truck and Jacob said "Awesome!" which is the second word he has said, in the correct context, that we have never prompted him for. Apparently, he is really starting to listen to our conversations and picking up on language. Looks like it is time for me to start phasing the word "crap" out of my vocabulary. It is a good thing I don't swear. I am having enough trouble trying to phase stupid and crap out of my vocabulary.......

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prematurity Awareness Month

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.

Did you know that 1 out of every 8 babies will be born premature and that premature birth increased 20% between 1990 and 2006? How about the fact that 50% of all neurological disorders in children are related to premature birth?

Many of these premature babies will remain hospitalized, fighting for their lives, for weeks or months before they are able to go home. Even then, some of these babies will be sent home with countless medications, apnea monitors and oxygen. Some will have life long disability and disease. Some will die.

Here is the link to Jacob's story if you want to familiarize yourself with my son's struggle for survival and his miraculous journey to that of a healthy and thriving 2.5 year old. Jacob is my miracle baby. Born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 lb 7 oz and just 11.5 inches long, Jacob had less than a 50% chance of survival and an 80% chance of physical or mental disability. Today he is healthy, thriving and free of all physical and mental disabilities. We were lucky.

I thank God every day for Jacob and the fact that he is still here with us, but unfortunately not all babies are as lucky as Jacob and not all parents are as lucky as we are. For every ailment that Jacob overcame another baby succumbed to it. For every baby that lost their battle while we were in the NICU, eventually another premature baby arrived to take his/her place.

Fortunately, there is help for premature babies and that help has a name. The March of Dimes. If it weren't for the generous donations to the March of Dimes, or the organization itself, Jacob may very well not be here today.

Thanks to a research grant in the 1980's, a scientist by the name of T. Allen Merritt was able to develop artificial surfactant, a soapy substance that helps the alveoli in the lungs inflate and keep from collapsing. Since artificial surfactant was developed in the 80's the number of babies born each year that die due to Respiratory Distress Syndrome has dropped from 10,000 to fewer than 1,000! Jacob is alive today because of artificial surfactant.

Because of these strides in the fight against prematurity, we enrolled Jacob in a study for premature infants, born between 24 and 28 weeks, on the day he was born. He will be followed until he is 7 years old so that Neonatologists can follow his progress and learn new ways to save the lives of those born too soon. You can help too!

I will be blogging all month long about Prematurity and ways that YOU can help make a difference and fight against prematurity. Stay tuned for more information later this month on The March for Babies!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hot Dog!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Family Portrait Session

One of my biggest problems in life is I always have high expectations, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you throw a 2.5 year old and a 15 month old into the equation you are bound to be disappointed.

For example, take our family portrait session this afternoon with Black Thumb Studio. For weeks, I have been staring longingly at our 16x20 framed family portrait that sits mounted on our living room wall and have been imagining how great our new portrait as a family of four will look in that same spot. An hour into our session, I was crossing my fingers that Grace's tears would stop and Jacob would stand still long enough so that he wasn't a blur in every photograph. All in all, I must say that today went much better than I anticipated after the morning we had.

Our day started out pretty nice considering how the afternoon went. I woke up around 8 AM to Jacob jumping on my bed which seems to be how I wake up most mornings these days and we went to get Grace and headed downstairs to change diapers.

We decided today was a we-don't-want-to-make-breakfast day and so we ventured out to Dunkin Donuts where I bought each kid their very own blueberry muffin (or muffs as Jacob calls them).

We came home, ate breakfast, played with mega blocks and then the kids watched 30 minutes of Dora while Mama cleaned the squished blueberries off her kitchen floor. I could hear Gracie in the Living Room yelling "OH, MAN!!!!" when Swiper the Fox crept across the screen.

I decided that even though we had slept in that morning I needed to attempt to put the kids down for early naps so there wouldn't be a meltdown in the middle of pictures so we headed upstairs. As they settled into their beds, I hopped in the shower only to emerge 30 minutes later to a noise that sounded like metal scraping metal. Jacob decided he wasn't tired so he thought he'd dismantle the heater cover in his bedroom . I peeked in Grace's room and she was sitting there happy as a clam shaking her baby doll.

I closed their doors and attempted to blow dry my hair, but apparently the kids had plans of their own and naps was not on the agenda. I brought them downstairs and tried my best to finish getting ready and pack the car with the outfits we had laid out the night before. I was not about to put the kids in their clothes before we got there for fear someone would puke, drool or leak all over their brand new, freshly pressed clothes before a picture had been snapped. I threw some lunch at them, tossed them in the car (still in their pajamas) and we were off.

The kids did finally sleep for an hour in the car and we arrived right on time at 2 PM when the skies became an ominous shade of black. We hurried into the park hoping to beat the rain, but the clouds seemed to scatter and we even had sun shining for a few minutes. We decided to let the kids run around and burn off some energy for a few minutes while Jeff and his Intern, Katie, set up.

Once they were ready to go we sat down on a set of stone steps for the first shot of the day. Jacob lasted 15 seconds before he wanted "DOWN!" and started "the maneuver"... you know the one. That slick, toddler trick where they stick their arms straight up in the air so they can wriggle out of your grasp, which I might add, is very effective. This is where Jeff and Katie save the day. We whipped out Jacob's neck pillow for the car which just so happens to be shaped like a monkey and started singing some silly songs and managed to get a few good shots out of them.

Next, we headed off to see if we could get some shots of the kids in a pile of leaves. Newsflash: Grace is TERRIFIED of leaves. Tears, tears and more tears. Jacob was having a blast and I can't wait to see those pictures, but Grace wanted nothing to do with them AT ALL. The only thing Grace wanted to do was run as fast as possible towards the RIVER and try to hurl herself over the rock wall into the fast moving current. I am pretty sure I owe Jeff and Katie for saving her life once or twice.....

At the end of our session, Jeff and Katie showed us a few of the shots they got and I am happy to say I think these are the best portraits yet! Even though the day didn't go as smoothly as I had it planned out in my head, the foliage was PERFECT! We couldn't have timed the peak better! The weather held off (it started raining as soon as we were packing up the car) and best of all I don't have to worry about this again until this time next year! I seriously needed a nap after we were done! I can't thank Jeff and Katie enough for all of their hard work!

We headed back towards home and stopped for some dinner. Both kids chowed down so I know they were hungry from running around like crazy for two hours non-stop. We also picked up a little treat for dessert at Cupcake Charlie's to take home. Meet my friends (clockwise from top) Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Overload, Oreo Madness and Peanut Butter Pleasure. I think it is safe to say South Beach Phase 1 is over:

I can't wait to see the proofs from today!! I should be getting them back right before Thanksgiving so I will post as soon as I can with the finished product. Just to tide you over here is last year's result. This was taken in May of 2009 when Jacob was 14 months old (10.5 months adjusted)and I was 28 weeks pregnant with Grace:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catch a Wave Wednesday

I am thrilled to be the featured blog on this week's Catch A Wave Wednesday blog hop!

Check it out and link up!

Blogging Hints Catch a Wave Wednesday

Grace's Retro Bedroom - Final Plan

I finally have all of the loose ends tied up as far as Grace's bedroom makeover goes. I went to the paint store last week and brought home about 10 paint chips (with 5 colors on each one) and wouldn't you know none of the colors matched when I finally received my fabric swatches in the mail.

It turns out the colors in the pattern I picked out are an eggplant and berry color and not really a pale purple at all. I decided to stick with the fabric I had chosen and went back to the paint store and found a nice raspberry color that works well. I am going to list everything out below, but I assure you even though it may all look purple on your monitor it is definitely more of a raspberry color. I can't believe how different the swatches look on the monitor vs. in person.

To start, I found a great seller on Etsy willing to make Grace's toddler quilt for me for a reasonable price which was quite the task. Let's just say the first private alchemy I sent out resulted in a quote $40 higher than what I am paying. Ridiculous!

I have decided on a reversible quilt in Orchid Round About and Brown Minky Dot:

The mattress sheet, valances and covered lampshade will be in Orchid Lolli Dot:

I found an awesome lamp at Target this week by chance that matches the green in the fabric perfectly and it has a very retro look to it so I think it will work well in the room. It is from their Room Essentials line and I was so happy to discover that this line at Target has a boatload of matching accessories in both this color green and the exact color raspberry that is in the Michael Miller fabric as well. I am probably going to cover the lampshade in the Orchid Lolli Dot to spruce it up a bit:

When I went BACK to the paint store to find new swatches there was only one paint chip that was in the same color family as the fabric swatch so I have it narrowed down to 2 of those colors, Wishing Well and Hydrangea. They both look darker on screen then they do on the swatch, but the color that was slightly lighter than Wishing Well was way too light. They are both from Benjamin Moore.

I am throwing around a few ideas for decor and I am thinking either wall decals from Etsy, 3D butterfly wall decor (also from Etsy) or paper lanterns in different sizes hung in the corner of the room. I think the lanterns might work well since they are round and it will tie in well with the polka dots in the Lolli Dot fabric.

I ordered my two 2 oz sample containers of paint and can't wait for them to get here so I can pick a color and get going!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The potty train has left the building.

Well, today was a day for the record books.

Jacob has officially mastered the art of removing his diaper. The first time he took it off was right after dinner. He flung his fresh, dry diaper over the gate and I walked in to the Living Room just in time to see him showering my hardwood floors.

After I cleaned him up and put a new diaper on him, I walked in the living room 15 minutes later to a pants-less (again!) Jacob, only this time when he removed his diaper there was a present inside. Luckily, he had only gotten as far as dipping his fingers in it so I once again cleaned him and my floors up and successfully duct taped his diaper on him. I am hoping when I go to get him in the morning the duct tape will still be intact.

We bought underwear and pull-ups last week in anticipation of potty training and we have had the potty chair for about 6 months so I guess it is time. Wish us luck! We'll need it.....

Good night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday Follow

It's Friday! I am kicking off the weekend with a fabulous list of Friday Follows.

I love meeting new people and reading new blogs. If you want a follow back just leave a comment with a link to your blog! Happy Friday!

Let's Just Give It Away


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Panels, Valances and Sheers, Oh My!

I am having the hardest time picking out window treatments for Grace's room. I have a few ideas, but I am looking for some feedback!

I looked online for blackout panels and was able to find some in a pretty light green color which might work out well seeing as we did finally decide to paint the room purple. I am not sure if I would rather do that or use blackout shades and just make a valance to match the bedding out of coordinating fabric? So far, I have decided that the quilt is going to be Orchid Round About on one side and Brown Minky Dot (not shown here) on the reverse side. I am leaning towards Orchid Lolli Dot for mattress sheets and the walls will be a paler shade of purple with green accents. On a side note, I found the perfect lamp for her room today at Target!

I am listing below all of the coordinating patterns from the Feeling Groovy line and need some suggestions on what pattern of fabric you think would look good as a valance:

Orchid Round About:

Feeling Groovy:

Orchid Lolli Dot:

Lavender Lolli Dot:

Soooo.....which pattern do you like best?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grace's "Big Girl" Room Makeover

When we found out we were pregnant with Jacob we decided to do a gender neutral nursery so that all of our kids could use it. When we were pregnant with Grace we started making over the spare bedroom into Jacob's big boy room so we could move Grace into the nursery. I wanted very modern bedrooms with specific color palettes that could stay the same as the kids got older. I am not a fan of the Toy Story and Sesame Street themed bedding sets that would need to be changed year after year as the kid grows out of it. With that being said, Grace's crib is falling apart...literally and it is a drop side which I don't like at all. We are hoping to start the transition to a toddler bed around the first of the new year so I have a few months to get this room finished.

I had a very clear image in my head of what I wanted and had no luck finding any fabric or patterns that I liked. After searching Land of Nod, PBK, etc. for MONTHS and finding NOTHING I decided I would have to find a fabric I liked and have someone make the blanket, sheets and valances. Easy enough, right? Wrong! I have spent the better part of 3 months searching high and low for the perfect fabric that incorporates purple, green and brown (the color palette I selected for her room) and again NOTHING! Last night, I was on Etsy (big surprise!) and finally found IT! THE ONE! It is from the Feeling Groovy collection and it incorporates everything I was looking for!

Introducing Michael Miller Orchid Round About, Michael Miller Lolli Dot and Brown Minky Dot:

I think these options will work well together and there are even more coordinating fabrics in the Michael Miller line if I should decide to try and make some accessories to match the room. Maybe some fabric wrapped photo frames or a lampshade? I am also looking at vinyl wall decals on Etsy. We bought some of these for Jacob's room and it is an easy way to decorate the room in an age appropriate way without permanently changing the room. They come off easily with some heat from a blow dryer!

My next step is selecting a paint color and I can't decide if I should stick with one color for all four walls or paint an accent wall in a different color? I am open to any suggestions! Her furniture is white if that makes any difference. Any ideas?

If you're in the mood join me in some Blog Hoppin' today:
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Monday, October 18, 2010

South Beach Diet - Phase 1

When I was pregnant with Jacob I gained a whole 14 pounds. That's what happens when you have a micro-preemie at 24 weeks. I think I lost 12 of that 14 pounds giving birth to him! For the next 4 months, I commuted back and forth to Boston daily (45 minutes each way) to visit him and I was pumping every three hours around the clock to keep my milk supply up for when he eventually came home. The lack of eating and sleep plus the combination of stress and pumping resulted in another 9 pound loss after his birth! I hadn't been that skinny since college and it was nice while it lasted.

Grace's pregnancy was a different story. Fueled by my nerves, and the possibility that I could have another micro-preemie, I ate anything and everything I wanted during that pregnancy. My excuse? If I go into pre-term labor I want to fatten my baby up so they have a better chance! Well, eating that box of Snackwell's Devil's Food Cake cookies every night worked! I gained a whopping 47 pounds during her pregnancy and I did NOT have a preemie. ::does a little happy dance:: Yes, some of that was retained fluid. In fact, it was determined at my last appointment that the last 7 pounds of weight gain was all fluid and it had taken up residence in my (c)ankles. I couldn't walk more than 10 feet without my feet throbbing, but I digress.

I had no problems dropping the first 30 pounds, but after that I only managed to drop another 5 leaving me +12 pounds today and it's all in my belly. I didn't think it was that noticeable until we were at the hospital for Jacob's broken leg and the nurse at Jacob's bedside said, "Are you expecting?" (Note to self: Burn fold-over waist gaucho pants) My response, more to be polite than anything, was, "No, I have a 12 month old daughter at home." I was quite taken aback when she added, "Oh, so you're still working that off." Yikes. She's lucky I am a nice girl. Let's just leave it at that.

So today begins Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet to rid my body of its sugar addiction. I may end up in rehab by weeks end for severe withdrawals, but it is worth a shot. I would like to have a third and I can't start 12 pounds above what I did for the other two pregnancies. That will just lead to a snowball effect which I am not comfortable with so off I go!

I attempted this diet once before right after I graduated from college when I was working full-time and it was a big, fat fail. It didn't help that I had no time to cook and was looking for convenience foods to pack in my lunch that didn't exist. I went to bed the first two nights in tears because I was starving! On day three, I quit. Looking back, I didn't have much to lose and probably would have benefited more from some exercise and toning, but this time I definitely need to lose 12 pounds. That is it! If I can accomplish this now it will save me from spiraling and ending up with a sugar/carb habit and needing to lose 20+ pounds down the road.

So far it has been relatively easy and I think being a SAHM has helped. I can cook the foods I need to eat as I go throughout the day so I don't have to worry about relying on easy, pre-packaged, convenience foods like I did the first time around.

My menu so far today has looked like this:

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs sprinkled with reduced-fat cheddar cheese, a turkey sausage patty and one cup of skim milk.

Snack 1: 15 dry roasted peanuts and a cup of tea.

Lunch: Salad loaded with lots of fresh veggies and grilled chicken topped with fat-free feta cheese and crystal light.

I will try and update the blog regularly since this is a good way to be held accountable and stick with this.

Guess when Phase 1 ends? Monday, November 1st. Someone keep the Halloween candy away from me!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Slacker Mom

The one thing I am ashamed to admit more than anything is the fact that Jacob's baby book has more empty pages than it does filled out ones. He will be three in March! I am even more ashamed to admit that I haven't even started one for Grace. In fact, all I have for her is a random piece of scrap paper with a few milestones and dates that certain teeth came in scribbled down.

When I was pregnant with Jacob, I searched high and low for the "perfect" modern baby book. This was a hard task because I absolutely despise the ones with cartoon animals, Winnie the Pooh or Mickey Mouse on the cover and they are the only ones that stores seem to sell. I finally settled on a gender neutral, generic looking one with a "sweet pea" on the cover and purchased it for a whopping $35 at Babies R Us in my fifth month. I dreamed about sitting down with a cup of tea, filling out the pages with stats and milestones while my child napped soundly in his/her crib.

Less than a month later, I was in the hospital giving birth at 24 weeks and 5 days. He was 16 weeks early and spent the first 4 months of his life lying in the hospital. I think I got discouraged more than anything because as I turned the pages, month 1, month 2, month 3, etc. I didn't know how to fill it out. For the first few months of his life he had been lying in an isolette (or as the nurses called it his "womb with a view"). I didn't know if I should fill out the book with his actual age or his adjusted age. For the first few months, I filled it out with his adjusted age and then, for some reason, I changed midway to his actual age. Now the thing is a hot mess and I don't even want to open it for fear of a panic attack. I am a perfectionist and even bought a special pen for the book so that the ink would match on all the pages, so imagine what my brain does when it sees overlapping milestones and statistics for different months!

Enter a little online shoppe called Edna Mae! When shopping on my favorite website EVER, Etsy, I came across the Edna Mae store and instantly fell in love. She makes modern baby books that are refreshing, unique and perfect for someone like me who wants something without characters or cutesy child themes all over the cover and inside pages. At first, I thought that $60 for a baby book was outrageous, but then I thought about the fact that Jacob's book cost $34.95 and it is a piece of junk that I hate. After dwelling on that for a few minutes, $60 (they are normally $65, but I used a coupon code) seemed pretty good. It is only $25 more than I spent on Jacob's and I have the option of removing and adding pages and there are photo sleeves for 100 photos which is an option you don't have with any other baby book on the market.

I opened my tracking e-mail this morning to check the status and noticed it was getting delivered today. I practically attacked the mailman when he reached my door! I tore open the package and it is everything I had hoped it would be and more. In fact, I am so IN LOVE with this book that as soon as I finish up Grace's book I am ordering another one for Jacob and starting his all over again! I will be chucking the sweet pea book in the trash!

Edna Mae is currently having a Fall sale on their website (go here and enter code FALLSALE at checkout) I just had to pass this savings along to you! If you are looking for a modern baby book in bold fresh fabric and patterns then this place is for you. The code gets you $5 off your purchase so hurry before the sale ends! You won't regret it!

**Edna Mae Baby is in no way affiliated with this blog and I was not compensated in any way for this review. This is a review of a product I purchased myself.**

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

With nothing planned for the Monday holiday, we took an impromptu trip to Bog Hollow Farm in Kingston for their annual pumpkin patch weekend.

It was very crowded and very warm. The forecast was calling for temps in the mid 60's so we dressed accordingly in long sleeve tees and jeans, but it had to have been at least 75 out there. Poor Gracie was beat red and starting to drag after being out there for only 20 minutes! Jacob was running around in typical Jacob fashion and the heat didn't seem to bother him a bit.

The kids had so much fun! There were hay rides, ponies, bunnies, a hay jump, a hay slide, a train ride, two pumpkin patches, face painting, two mazes and even more! Jacob LOVED the ponies and Grace had a blast in the hay jump. On our way out, there was a line to get IN never mind the wait for the hay rides. I was glad we got there when we did!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Black Thumb Studio

I have been meaning to post Grace's first birthday portraits for awhile, but I just got around to ordering the high resolution images this week!

Once upon a time, I worked as an intern at a little company called Putnam Investments. You might recall them and a little firestorm they started called "market timing". It was there in 2002 that I began my career in Finance and "met" Jeff Turner, who was also slaving away as a full-time cubicle dweller in the financial industry.

After 3 years at that company, I received an offer from a company in Quincy called CitiStreet and subsequently accepted that offer. Imagine my surprise when I showed up for my new job and the person occupying the cubicle next to mine was Jeff Turner! We hadn't been formerly introduced at Putnam (which is why I put "met" in quotations above), but we were finally introduced at CS and ended up sharing a cubicle wall for the next 3 years. We would knock good morning, banter back and forth and comment about the weather and what people were doing in the parking lot since we were lucky enough to score window seats.

Jeff had always been a hobbyist photographer and one day, as he was showing me a wedding he had recently shot, we got to talking about his interest in pursuing a career in photography. He was looking to break into the business and I just happened to be on the wedding message boards looking for information on vendors for my own wedding.

For months, every time someone posted on the boards looking for a wedding photographer, I threw Jeff's name out there and raved about him to the best of my abilities. He had done our engagement photos and I had the hardest time picking out the few I wanted to mat and frame! I had seen his work first hand and knew that someday his company would take off. Pretty soon the word was out and brides were ringing his phone off the hook trying to book with him.

Shortly after I had Jacob in 2008, Jeff was able to quit that financial job and went full-time with his Photography business as Jeff Turner Photography. His business has now grown to THREE photographers, the occasional intern and has been renamed Black Thumb Studio! He is almost booked for 2011 and even booking into 2012!! He shoots weddings, engagement sessions, family, children and senior portraits, etc. Pretty much anything you would need photographed! He has even done pets! He is talented, dedicated, hard working and most importantly....he is just a great all-around guy! I am looking forward to our family portrait session with him at the end of the month!

If you are in the market for a professional photographer I highly recommend Jeff and the crew at Black Thumb Studio! I promise you will not be disappointed! In fact, I guarantee you'll be a customer for life! Just like me.

Here are a few of the pictures from Grace's first birthday portrait session that I purchased:

**I was not compensated in any way for this review. I just love BTS and their work!**

Monday, October 4, 2010

Apple Picking 2010

This weekend we took our annual trip to the apple orchard. We usually go to Berlin Orchards, but this year we wanted to try something different so we headed to Tougas Farm in Northboro. They are rated one of the top 10 orchards in the country by USA Today so we figured we would give it a shot. I was pleased at the variety of activities they have there that are geared towards the whole family. They have a little petting zoo, playground equipment, a pumpkin patch, the orchard itself and a nice little kitchen that serves everything from hot dogs and chili to apple crisp and cider donuts.

I fully intended to start this post off with a picture of all four of us apple picking last year and a picture of us this year, but let's just say Jacob didn't have a good afternoon. There are no pictures of all four of us. He started off great and was running around for the first 30-45 minutes we were there, but I think after that first hour his leg started getting sore so he would run for a minute or two and then have a meltdown complete with tears while holding his leg. Only problem was he didn't want anyone to carry him and he refused to be buckled into the wagon. Basically, we had to let him walk and deal with his meltdowns every 50 feet or so. Other that that we had a great afternoon and finished the day off with dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Their cinnamon honey butter is to DIE for!

We had an absolutely PERFECT Fall day for apple picking. It topped out around 60 degrees and there was a nice Fall chill in the air. It was nice in the sun and there was a cool breeze in the shade so we were able to wear our hooded sweatshirts comfortably and nobody was stung by a bee this year! We snacked on apple crisp and cider donuts before we headed out with our half a bushel bags and filled them up with Cortland, MacIntosh and Jonagold apples. We also took a run through the pumpkin patch on our way out and let the kids explore. We are planning a trip to Sauchuk Farm in another week or two to pick pumpkins so we didn't buy any at Tougas, but we have plenty of apples and apple crisp and baked apples are on the menu this week.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure yesterday:

We have a busy week ahead of us. Jacob has PT this afternoon and I am headed out with my girlfriends from high school tonight for our annual get together. It used to be a monthly thing back when we were all out of college and just working full-time, but now that some of us have more job responsibilities, husbands, kids, etc. it has become an annual thing instead of monthly. I am excited to see them and catch up! On top of that, Jacob has his weekly play group for Early Intervention and I need to catch up on some housework before another busy weekend arrives!
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