Sunday, January 27, 2013

Last Day of Leave

Wow... three months have come and gone so fast.  I feel like it was two weeks ago that we were bringing home this sweet little boy from the hospital, a little overwhelmed, very excited, a bit anxious and elated all wrapped up into two brand new parents.  We couldn't get enough of this little guy.  Now I feel like we've turned around and here is this grown up looking baby that is trying to sit up on his own (usually results in an almost-face plant on the couch), trying to roll over from his tummy to his back, and is showering us with smiles and little squeals.  L is healthy as can be and is growing so well that of course I can't complain, but I'm already feeling like it is going so fast!  Today is my last official day of maternity leave and I re-enter the world of kindergarten tomorrow.  While I am so excited to see my kiddos again and see how much they have grown too, I had NO idea just how hard it would be to leave my little guy.  He is going to a trusted babysitter, and I know he will be fine.  However, the mommy in me is screaming!  I have loved, loved, loved spending this time with him.  I have been there for almost every moment, and now I won't be.  That is difficult.  It takes time and it will get easier (so everyone tells me) haha :)  But right now, I am struggling a bit. The great thing is I will have 21 kindergarteners who will be more than ready to give me a hug anytime I need one! On Friday I already had the fact that this was my last weekend of leave on my mind, so I finished up some projects I had been meaning to do for L's nursery as a distraction.  (My ideas came from a previous post- Nursery Ideas- this has all the links to the original creators!)  Here they are:

  Originally, my plan was to buy an actual shadow box.  However, Hobby Lobby did not have the size or the price I was really wanting to spend.  My mom, L, and I were shopping in the scrapbooking area and I ran across this frame.  It actually was perfect.  It does not have as much room between the glass and the backing as a shadow box does but I was not going to need that much since most of the items I would be using were pretty flat.  Plus, this frame was 50% off- score!!  The next day I gathered all the things I wanted to put in- L's first hat and socks, his footprints from the hospital, his bracelet & card, and his newborn announcement.  I arranged them all on cardstock, adhered each piece (used a pin for the socks and hat), and added some stickers from The Paper Studio.  I adore it now and it will be hanging in L's room very soon!

My other project was inspired from this post.  Her canvas ended up a lot cleaner than mine, but I did do mine around 11 pm one night after L went down and I needed some "me time."  I underestimated just how long it would take!  A hour and 15 minutes later I was done!  I didn't want to stop because I was using mixed paint and didn't want to have to replicate the colors the next day.   But 4 am came wayyyy too fast that night! :)  Here was the beginning:

I used a canvas from Hobby Lobby and acrylic paints.

I found that Q-tips made the circles very easy to make. Paintbrushes- not so much.  The blogger in the original post used her fingers, which would have been a great idea too!  I mixed the paint and then started making a lot of circles in various colors and sizes!

                     (Like my makeshift paint tray?!)

And the finished product:

My whole purpose in this canvas was to encourage L to turn his head to the left while he is on the changing table (he loves his right side and is constantly facing that way).  It was a success! He loves looking at it and often tries to bat his hands and touch the dots.  Love it! 

Thank you for enduring my anxiety-ridden beginning and not judging too harshly. :)  I hope this is a great week for you, and send some good thoughts my way so maybe the transition won't be so hard for me.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Planning Ahead: Meals!!

Well after quite the hiatus from blogging, I am back! Now, I can't say how often I will be writing, but I will try to post when I've had an exceptionally good project.  Today's project was not my usual- no scrapbooking, Cricut cutting, paint applying, or Sharpie-using. :)  It was cooking!

I have been very blessed the past three months.  First, by the arrival of our son Landon!  He arrived on a beautiful day in October weighing 9lbs and 5 oz!  Mommy and Daddy were so overjoyed and proud, but more on that later! :)  As I was saying, I have been very blessed to be home with him the past three months.  We have loved spending our days cuddling, reading, playing, and napping!  Sadly, my maternity leave is coming to an end in a week.  I am very nervous about going back to school and balancing being a teacher, a wife, a homemaker, and a mommy.  Especially since Colby is back in his evening masters classes this semester.  Before Landon arrived, Colby and school were my life basically.  I stayed until late most nights, came in at least one day on the weekend, and took things home as well.  As you can imagine, my priorities have changed.  While I still want to be the best teacher I can be, I have the most special little boy in the world waiting for me at home and I am going to try to not am not going to be spending the hours at school like I did before.  The other thing I have considered is making dinner.  When I get home, I'm just going to want to cuddle my little bug- not cook.  I needed a plan.  I was on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and saw a couple of pins about freezer cooking.  I started to look into it and realized this was just what I needed.  Today was my freezer cooking day and it went really well!  Granted, there were a lot of interruptions, but overall, it took me about 3 hours to make 15 meals!  Not too shabby!  And I know how much I will LOVE this in a couple of weeks.

I posted a picture on Facebook of the process and had a few people ask about how I did this, so here we go!  First, I researched a lot of pins and websites that had anything to do with freezer meals.  I quickly discovered that I wanted to make crockpot freezer meals.  I can thaw it the night before.  Colby is often home at lunch so he will be able to pop it into the slow cooker and it will be ready by the time we get home!  Add a veggie and maybe some rolls/pasta and ta-da! Dinner!  I was hooked.  Then, it became finding the meals that a.) I could eat since I am currently dairy-free and b.) that we would like!  I found some great websites with a lot of yummy recipes.  The website where I got most of the recipes is here.  She is awesome and gave GREAT tips for freezer cooking!   Here are the meals I made with the link to each recipe:

Cilantro Chicken
Pasta and Fagioli Soup (made into two servings)  - imitation of Olive Garden's soup
Black Bean Taco Soup
Honey Garlic Chicken
Savory Chicken (made into two servings)
Mongolian Beef
Island Chicken (made into two servings)
Chicken Fajitas
Slow Cooker Beef Tips
Chicken Caccitaore
Chicken Tacos
Teriyaki Chicken

A lot of these websites have more recipes on them as well- they just didn't fit my taste/dietary restrictions. :)

The first thing I did to prepare for my day was to copy the recipes and make a huge shopping list.  The bill may have made me swoon a bit, but my thought was Hey! This will feed our family for almost a month!  Plus, I went to Kroger to get the chicken on sale, which helped tremendously!  Plus, I found a use for the elusive can of tomato sauce I bought on accident over a year ago!  See Colby- I do use those cans eventually! :)

Today, it was basically following the recipes and making the bags!  I started by labeling each Ziploc bag with the directions for cooking each recipe and what sides need to go with it, just in case Colby is the one prepping dinner! Or if my mommy brain is running low that day!

 Then, I started with all the chicken recipes. I prepped the veggies, added in the canned items and the spices, and finally cut the chicken and added to the bags.  Then, I moved on to the stew meat recipes, and finally the recipes that called for ground beef.  If I could change something from today, I would have browned the ground beef first before doing anything so it would be completely cooled by the time I needed to use it.  I saved those for last and then had to wait on the beef to cool to complete the bags.  I guess it gave me time to clean up, right??

All in all, today was a great success and it will feel even better when I start back to school and know dinner is not something I have to worry about when I get home!  Here is our freezer with lots of yummy dinners just waiting!

I will (hopefully) have more posts coming soon.  I hope this was helpful and you get inspired to make your nights much easier!