Homemade Mayo (Instructions, Review & more!)

A while back a friend of a friend posted on Instagram and FB about making her own Mayo in order to make an Avacado dressing. I was instantly intrigued. I've never made anything like that... and was curious about what was involved. Recently I decided to try it to work on one of my resolutions and actually make the mayo myself! (remember a post about all of them will be up sometime near the end of January/beginning of February)! So, here's the video I used to make my very own Olive Oil Mayo at home: 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcKRj4E7m6M[/youtube]

And here are a few pictures of the process:

MakingMayo

It was actually pretty simple and took me around 10 minutes (after the egg and lemon juice got to room temp for about an hour). The thing I did find interesting was how warm the mayo was when I scraped it into the container. I guess that makes sense considering the friction involved in this process & the fact that it started out at room-temp, but I wasn't expecting it. :)

Soon after I made the mayo I realized that I could just use the "dirty blender" to go ahead and make the "Dreamy Avocado Dressing". Since I obtained the recipe for that directly from the friend of a friend I will post it here for you:

Dreamy Avocado Dressing

• 1/2 large avocado • 1 tbsp lime juice • 1/4 cup olive oil mayo • 1 small garlic clove • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (optional) • 2 tbsp water (optional -- I used it, but use or omit it depending on desired thickness) • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Place all ingredients into blender and or food processor and puree to desired consistency. Add water 1 tbsp at a time if necessary. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.  Store covered in the fridge! Like the Mayo the egg's expiration date is your dressing expiration date. :)

FINAL REVIEW:

I like both the mayo and the avocado dressing. I especially love the dressing for eating cut veggies. It's a healthy-er version of a regular dressing. I think both the mayo and dressing are better after sitting in the frig for a while. It helps add a bit of depth of flavor for all the ingredients to "mellow" together. Also, I didn't use fresh cilantro for the dressing (only because I didn't have any). I used some dry cilantro  but I *know* it would be better with fresh herbs. I'll try it again with fresh and update once I do!

If you try these recipes please let me know what you think and if you discover any new or interesting ways to update them!

Enjoy!

-Emily

Farewell Virginia, It's Official

map_of_lynchburg_va It's odd. I really expected to be happy to be free of the tiny town where we once lived in Virginia. But when we were driving out of town for the final time (in separate cars) on the way to our new home in North Carolina I found myself crying. True, I was only around 4 weeks postpartum and I happened to have a crying baby in the back of my car at the time, but really, I was truly sad to be losing Lynchburg as our home.

VA House-ed-sz

A couple days ago our house officially sold. Yesterday the funds were transferred to our account. And today Jimmy confirmed that the "money is in the bank". So. It's official. Our house is sold and gone and we are no longer tied to the small town of Lynchburg in Virginia. Except that we are. Never-mind the good friends we still have there (and there are many!), but Lynchburg will always be the place where I grew up. The place where I moved after leaving my parent's house. The place where Jimmy and I started a life together as a married couple (heck, it's the place where I MET Jimmy -- truly the love of my life). It's where I had my first "grown up" job working full time hours for "the man" (heheheh). It's the town where we put down some roots (albeit small ones) and bought our first house.

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And Lynchburg will always be where we first found out I was pregnant and where we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. Because of that huge change in our world: It will also always be where I learned about pregnancy, labor, and delivery and where I felt incredible connection with other mothers at "The Motherhood Collective". It's where I met an amazing Doula named Laurie Flower (seriously, if you're having a baby in Lynchburg -- look her up!) who became a friend as well. And in early August I experienced what it meant to become a Mom.

There was something simple about living in a place where I knew how to get (virtually) everywhere and could drive there within about 30 minutes (end to end). And there was something comforting about having friends throughout the area -- including those we had known for, literally, 10 years. But every chapter of life has it's end... and Lynchburg was not destined to be our final home. I'm not not sure that Raleigh is either, but we'll see.

For now I've enjoyed getting to know some neighbors... and am slowly figuring out how to get places (even some without the GPS! Gasp!). Driving back to NC after a trip finally does feel like we're coming "home" -- though it's a home where we're maybe not quite as comfortable yet... but have so many plans and hopes and dreams.

Newness has it's place...  It's exciting to start anew! But today I'm just a bit melancholy and memory-ridden as I think about the "could have beens" and "used to bes". As I remember the "snowed in" parties of old and all the past fun we had in our previous home.... And I miss people and relationships and all that support and love... but those memories will always be with me, locked in my heart -- forever the first place I truly called "home" that was ours and ours alone.

So here's to the future. And all that it has to hold in this new home (always remembering and loving, but looking forward -- ever hopeful).

-Emily

P.s.

We will visit. We DO visit and often. So, while we've said "goodbye" officially to Lynchburg as a "home" it will always be a destination that we love.... and that will be true as long as it holds those we care for and care for us. ♥

5 Months Old!

Dear Skylar, It's been quite a month! Many highs and a few lows, but ultimately it was a good month with you, my love. It's hard to know where to start, but here goes...

You have learned to love the bouncy seat this month. You don't always want to be in it for super long, but you've figured it out and can now jump as much as you want! You also have learned to turn the bouncer around to see one way or the other and can do it quickly at will! Since you're pretty savvy with the bouncer now Mommy sometimes puts you in there when she's taking a shower or trying to get chores done. Your Dad likes to sit on the ground when you're in the bouncer. He talks with you and plays with you while you jump. One thing you don't like is being in the bouncer for a long time by yourself. You are very social and much happier when someone is interacting with you -- even when you are playing. You remind me of myself very strongly sometimes, baby girl.

Speaking of jumping, it's still one of your favorite ways to interact and play with your Daddy. He holds you and you jump on his lap. You've gotten really strong and can jump for a very long time without getting tired! You also don't like to jump slowly and usually jump at a very quick pace! It's so fun to watch you jump!

You're not eating foods yet, but often show interest in our food and what we're drinking. You sometimes drink water out of our glasses -- especially out at restaurants. You also suck water from my Nathan water bottle and we were able to get you to drink from a straw (12/17)! Lately we think you're wanting the water because it's cold and feels good on your teething gums, but in general you seem curious about what Mommy & Daddy are doing when we eat and drink. Food is probably coming in the next month or so. We'll see... it's a big step, but one you seem increasingly ready for!

You are turning over all the time now, baby girl... and you use it to help you get around and see things in your world. If you want to move from one toy to another on your playyard you "roll to it". You also have used this to roll around the living room/kitchen nook area. You're sooooo close to crawling, but rolling helps you get around for now.

Speaking of crawling: You may not be doing much with forward motion yet, but you can turn in circles. You turned all the way around several times on the office floor with Mommy & Daddy cheering you on! You still do this to a lesser degree to "get around" downstairs when left to your own devices. Mommy is having to watch you much closer to make sure you don't get into anything that you shouldn't. When you're really crawling we're going to have to keep a much closer eye on you -- at least until we can get some gated areas for you to play in.

Some of your other "firsts" this month are:

You experienced your very first Christmas, sweet girl!! You are still too little to really grasp much of what is going on, but you did enjoy the attention you got while opening presents. You're not quite old enough to really "open" them yourself, but you did try. You have enjoyed the lights and colors of the season. I have loved watching your eyes sparkle as you take it all in.

Your first tooth has peeked out of your gums. It's still not all the way up, but you "cut" your first tooth a few days after Christmas. You actually seem to deal with the pain pretty well, but do get somewhat whiny and needy when your mouth hurts. You also have the typical "symptoms" of drooling and chewing on everything when teething.

Crying when something is taken away from you! Before this month you didn't seem to care if we took a toy away or put something down that you were playing with, but now you whine or cry when we take something away that you're not finished enjoying. The first time you complained was when we put away the iPad.

You now grab for toys and other items with purpose. You can control your hands so much better and tend to grasp toys instead of just flinging your arms out to try and "catch" something with your hands. You also lean towards toys that you want. You seem to understand that you have choices and can pick which toy you would like to play with at that specific moment. You can definitely see better and understand objects better this month.

On Dec 18th you shook a rattle for the first time. You shook it after Daddy showed you how -- it is so neat watching him teach you things. I know this is just the beginning! You continued to shake rattles and other toys throughout the month as you learned that you could make noises yourself!

You first enjoyed looking at the world upside-down this month. You were on your daddy's lap on the stairs by the office. You leaned all the way back in his lap and were so excited to see the world in a whole new way! (I need to add pictures of this at some point!). You have continued to do this out throughout this month. It's a whole new perspective that excites you!

On Christmas Eve you cried and yelled because you were being left out of what was going on in the room next to you. You are very social and you continue to show us that as you grow!

A big first for you this month was seeing (and touching) snow! While in NY around Christmastime it snowed! You were quite interested in the cold white stuff and while you won't remember it, we enjoyed introducing you to snow for the first time! :)

At the end of this month you got sick. You actually were having trouble breathing and because of that we ended up at a pediatric ER with you. A few days before your "5 month birthday" you were being treated for Croup. Watching you struggle to breathe was super hard for me, but I do have to tell you how proud I am of you! You continue to be my little fighter! Even when it was difficult you worked hard to breathe and get all the oxygen you needed! Your oxygen levels never dipped below 97% and because of that you were never in danger of any lasting negative effects from being sick. You also still greeted people who came in the room and tried to smile at times -- even when you were obviously miserable.

While sick (especially in the hospital) you never wanted to be out of my arms. Your constant need for me was tough sometimes, but at the same time I was so glad to be able to offer you comfort and give you a safe place in my arms. I will never forget some of those sweet cuddle moments in the hospital when I knew I was giving you everything you needed and sleeping on me was helping you feel better.

You are much better now! And your Mom & Dad are both super thankful for that! I could go the rest of my life without seeing you in pain again and it would be just fine with me! (I know that's not realistic, but I'm your Momma -- so I will try to make it so!)

Favorite Toys this month: You still love your taggie and hanging rattle while traveling. In addition to these you've started loving your playyard a lot lately. You also are fascinated by your crinkly winged ladybug toy! Another fave for you right now is playing with the "Little Gems" game on Mommy's iPad. You love that you can "throw" the shapes on the screen. You are enjoying toys that make noise a lot. One favorite is a musical toy that your Aunt Lynne gave you for Christmas! It's a great distraction for you when you're upset about your mouth hurting.

I can't wait to see what you learn and are excited about next month, baby girl! Keep growing, keep learning, keep becoming you!

Love Always & Forever,

Momma

Snowy Day Pictures (featuring photos by this momma):

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Healthy Snacks: Balls and more balls!

At the end of January I plan on posting my resolutions for 2013 along with info about how I'm doing with each of them.... One of my resolutions involves cooking and another involves my pinterest. I'm hinting because I can't wait to share about this past weekend of cooking! On Saturday Jimmy, Skylar and I headed to a Whole Foods for the first time:

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Talk about food-mecca! It was incredible in there! It took Jimmy & I a while to get our bearings, but we were able to get some amazing food! I also was able to purchase a ton of raw ingredients I planned to use for making healthy (but tasty) snacks:

Ingredients

On Sunday after making a ridiculously bad for us (but super yummy) breakfast of french toast, bacon & fried eggs I settled into making snacks for the upcoming week! I made three types of "balls" (apparently that's the form many "snack foods" come in -- who knew?) and here's a picture of all three:

ballz

Now for the reviews! First the top left: Clean-Eating Cookie Dough (click for the recipe). These are the ones I was the most excited about and are probably my least favorite. Not only do they take the most work, but the recipe yielded the fewest "balls". I do like them -- just not as much as I had hoped. I may make them again and tweak the ingredients some to come up with something I like better. I will say that probably only about half of the almonds called for are needed to "coat" the balls. So, "food process" a 1/4 cup instead of half a cup.

Moving on to the bottom left type of "ball":  Power Truffles. I like these. They are actually similar to the next recipe, but with more actual nuts in them. Because of that I will likely make these again and will play with the types of nuts I use. This time I used cashews, almonds and walnuts. I would like to see what this is like with other nut combos. I also would probably add a few more cranberries and possibly raisins and a bit less sweetener (I used 3 T of honey). Overall, though, these are pretty satisfying.

Finally, my favorites (saving the best for last) on the right in the above picture: No-Bake Energy Bites. These are my "go to" snack balls at the moment. They are yummy and there's something about the oat texture in these that just reminds me of oatmeal cookie dough (with chocolate chips). I think if I made these with raisins I would enjoy them as well and they would truly be "oatmeal cookie dough bites". I may try that next. Or maybe I'll make half the batch with chocolate chips and half with raisins. Either way, these are awesome.

Along with these snacks I also cut up a bunch of veggies and separated them out into baggies for "easy snacking". Here's what I ended up with:

Veggies (Carrots, Zucchini, & Celery)

There ya have it friends! Here's me dipping my toe into the "healthy snack" arena. I will be experimenting with this a lot more in the coming year and I can't wait!

Love & Kisses,

Emily

PS: Last night I made home-made olive oil mayo and an avocado dressing out of the mayo. I'll write up a post about that in the next day or so -- after I try it with my veggies! :)

 

 

The Merriest of Christmases!

Today has been a wonderful day already... different, but wonderful! (lots of changes this year -- but we still have the important traditions and family time).

My daughter is napping next to me and I can hear Christmas dinner prep going on in the other room. I really don't have much time to post, but I wanted to say:

MERRY CHRISTMAS, Everyone!

With Love, Emily, Jimmy & Skylar

2 Months Old (10/9/2012)

[Originally Posted on Facebook 10/19/ 2012] Skylar Joy,

This month has been filled with changes and growth. Your 2 month check-up at the doctor showed you are 12 pounds and 7 ounces. You're 23 inches long. You're in the 87th percentile for weight and the 75th for length! You're such a big girl! And so very strong. The doctor and nurses were surprised by how well you hold your head up and move your head around. Mommy wasn't surprised since I've watched you do that for a long time, but it was cool to hear others oooh and ahhh over you!

Here are your first this month, baby girl:

This month you started showing Daddy and Mommy that you are hungry by moving your mouth and tongue -- instead of just crying to eat. You still cry if we wait too long to feed you, but you've definitely started communicating more with us.

You slept longer than 5 hours for the first time this month! You actually slept for 7 hours two nights in a row while we were in a hotel room for our house closing. You surprised both Mommy and Daddy by sleeping for so long.

You smile consistently now and always smile "hello" to your Daddy when he gets home at night. You have little cooing conversations with your Dad to tell him what's going on. I love watching you two interact. It warms my heart so much. You talk to Mommy now too! It's usually while you are breastfeeding.

You laughed in your sleep a few times during this past month. You also have giggled a couple times when interacting with Mommy and Daddy. You're not consistently laughing yet, but so very close to it! The first time you giggled Daddy was around and you giggled at Mommy first and then Daddy when he came over to see you. Your timing was pretty perfect, little girl! Good job!

This month has had some ups and downs, but you've relaxed a lot, sweet girl. I think The stress of moving and everything that was going on took a toll on you. You were pretty fussy for a while, but have settled into a much more calm pattern.

Recently I noticed that you seem to be able to see much better. You watch the world from the safety of the Moby carrier. You also seem to be seeing much more from the carseat in the car. You look outside and watch the lights and everything passing by and are entertained by it. This is a huge relief to me because hearing and watching you cry in the car was really rough for me!

Another "first" for this month is you learning to fall asleep without having to be nursed or rocked soundly to sleep. When Mommy puts you down for a nap or at night you usually open your eyes and wake up some, but consistently you have fallen back asleep on your own without having to be picked up. I'm so very proud of you!

One new change that's very hard for your Mommy is that you are crying tears now. When you cry your eyes fill up and tears spill down your little chubby cheeks. It breaks my heart to see your tears, but I know this is just another way that you are growing and changing. Another thing that was tough for me was that you had your first cold this month, baby girl! You were very needy along with your cold symptoms. For several days the only way you would nap during the day was in the Moby. Mommy held you close and helped you feel better using the Kangaroo technique of skin-to-skin contact in the Moby. You're all the way better now and I'm so glad!

Recently you have found your lips and tongue. You smack your lips and brush them against my arm, my shoulder, my chest and you blow bubbles with your drool. (Oh, yeah, lots drool is another new thing. But that could be partially from your cold.) You play with your tongue and try pushing it against things. You often lick Mommy's shirt or chest (depending on how you're in the Moby) and pretty much lick anything that comes close to your mouth. It's cute and gross at the same time. But we love that you're growing and learning about your environment, baby girl.

Keep growing little bean -- but not too fast. Mommy wants you to be little and in her arms for a long time!

I love you. Always. Forever.

-Momma

1 Month Old Already! (9/8/2012)

[Originally Posted on Facebook 9/21/2012] Skylar Joy,

You are one month old, baby girl. And what a month it's been! From the first time I laid eyes on you I loved you, but this month has taught me so much about what the word "love" really means. My heart is full and my eyes teary as I type this. I already cannot imagine my life without you in it. I cannot really describe how much I love you, but I will try: It's a whole lot, a bunch, a bushel, to the moon and back a bazillion times. It's a lot, little jellybean. More than a lot... and more than I can say -- but I know it's just the beginning!

I can hardly believe that you're one month old! So much has happened and you have grown so much! At your last check-up you were in the 75th percentile for height and weight. You weighed 9 pounds and 11 ounces. Breast-milk is doing your body good, little girl! I'm so glad you're growing, but my heart also longs for you to stay little as long as possible.

Since my last note you had a lot of firsts... You slept overnight somewhere other than your home for the very first time. The next day you had your first shopping trip with Mommy! And you did really well! Everyone loved peeking at you in the Moby carrier and thought you were so cute and sweet! I loved showing you off!

You now grab things consistently and really strongly. A good example of this is: my hair. You grab and do not want to let go and it usually takes me a while to get my hair out of your grasp. Even though it hurts some, I love seeing this example of how strong you are!

Daddy built your swing for you this week and you love it. You watch the Betty Boop poster on the wall while you swing and seem oh-so-entertained by it. I think it's her eyes that make you so enthralled. When you're somewhat fussy you tend to fall asleep in the swing and Daddy and I are really thankful for that!

Some of your newborn clothes officially stopped fitting this week. And that makes me a bit sad! Some of them were so very cute! But I guess 9 pounds is pushing the newborn baby clothing limit! I'm so glad you're growing -- but don't grow too fast, okay!?!?!

You met your uncle Luke this week and were really good when he held you. You also started talking and smiling at Grandma B this week! We are quite certain you are smiling for REAL now and it has made us all really happy (your mom, your dad, your grandparents... people on the facebook, all of us!) Daddy and Mommy now do things to try to make you smile and what a fun game that has become!

You slept in bed with Daddy and Mommy for the first time this month. It was while Mommy was dosing and Daddy was sleeping. You were so cute and cuddly that I couldn't resist letting you join us. We both got up and you stayed asleep for quite a while in the bed by yourself.

During a dinner out with friends I discovered that I could calm you by singing to you while you were in the Moby. This discovery made my heart warm and I loved that my voice could do such a thing. So I sang to you over and over and over the same tones and you calmed and eventually slept.

You also had your first all-day-event out of the house for a movie marathon. You slept on me for a lot of it, but really, I was surprised by how well you did. You had your fussy moments, but even the explosions from the many superhero movies didn't wake you typically. And I enjoyed the snuggle time we had during the movies.

Thinking back over this last month it's really hard to believe that not that long ago I was struggling to bring you into this world. Those moments of pain were so difficult, baby girl, but I would do them all again to have you in my life... to hold you close and smell your head and to have the chance to love you. I am so thankful that you are healthy and growing. After all we've been through that gift is amazing in it's simplicity.

I love you, little one, more than I could have ever imagined. Keep growing, keep learning, keep becoming you! I can't wait to know you better. You are beautiful and special already, my lovely little girl!

Loving you Always, Your Momma

Three Weeks & Growing (8/29)

[Originally Posted on Facebook 8/31/2012] Dear Skylar,

You are 3 weeks old today! It's been a big week in your life, little girl... lots of firsts and new things. You had your newborn photoshoot. It was the day after a tough day for your Mommy and we weren't sure how you would do. You were absolutely perfect! Mommy & Daddy were so proud of you and loved spending time with you while Liz (photographer & friend) captured fun moments for us! We will cherish those photos forever! You went out to your first dinner with mommy and daddy and friends this week! And you rocked it! You also attended your first Mommy-baby function by going to the Motherhood Cafe with mommy on Monday. Speaking of Monday you had your weight checked on Monday and you're still gaining -- just like you should be! You were 8 pounds, 11 ounces! I am so proud of you!

You had your first bath this week. At first you didn't seem to know what to think of it, but you seemed to generally be fine with the water and even maybe enjoy it a little. I had fun splashing in the water with you & we certainly confused the kitteh with our adventure (she could not figure out why you were in the special tub in the regular tub). :)

You also went on you very first road trip. You slept and were a happy baby for the whole trip... (excluding the very very end -- the lights and stopping/going weren't a happy thing for you). We loved having you with us traveling and can't wait to go on more road trips with you, baby girl.

Another first for this week: You attended trivia with us on Wednesday night! You were so good and everyone loved seeing you and your "I was born awesome" onsie (it's barely fitting you -- so I'm trying to use it often since it's so true! *smiles*). I wasn't sure how you would be that late at night, but we both think you were great at trivia and it didn''t seem to have disrupted you much!

You continue to get annoyed by the car seat when you're first strapped in (you don't like it when we tighten the straps properly , but you LOVE being in the Moby carrier on Mommy! It makes me so happy when you snuggle against me and go to sleep. Some of my favorite moments with you this week were while I was wearing you. You are so cute sleeping and cuddling with me & you always seem to want to have your hand peeking out of the carrier and this makes others smile (me included). I love how much others love you and enjoy seeing you and holding you!

Your little arms and legs are filling out and you have some chubby rolls happening. I love seeing your chubby cheeks every morning and your inadvertent smiles from time to time. Your accidental expressions are great -- I can't wait to see you smile on purpose! You are so cute!

I am slowly learning what your cries mean, little girl... and we're figuring each other out. Daddy learned this week that if he cries at you -- interrupting your crying -- you stop and look at him perplexed and uncertain. We also discovered that making a "shushing" noise right in your ear makes you stop your crying or fussing almost instantly. It's short-lived, but works! Lots of learning and loving has been happening and we both cannot wait to see what happens next, baby girl!

Mommy loves you so very much. I love our times together and am thankful for our moments -- the sweet ones and the difficult ones. You are beautiful and perfect just the way you are!

Love Always, Your Momma

 

Photos by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz: Photography www.sincerelylizphoto.com

Two Weeks Old! (8/22)

[Originally Posted on Facebook 8/23/2012] Dear Skylar,

This is your momma... the one that's been up at all hours with you and trying to figure out what you want and need all the time. The one that's tired.... but still loves you so very much.

These last two weeks have been amazing, challenging, incredible, and, at times, exhausting. I wouldn't trade any of it for the world... I'm getting to know you, baby girl... and that is special and incredible -- even when it's difficult.

This week we had quite a few firsts: First car ride, first nght at home, first major throw-up (only one though, thankfully), first major diaper blow-out (ewww!), first time being "worn" by Mommy in the Moby carrier (and you love it), first time out and about in the carrier, first doctor's visit (all is well -- you're growing so fast!), first professional picture taken (at the hospital), first "family photo" in our kitchen, and first meeting with the kitteh (Harley Quinn is still trying to figure out what to do with you & if you're safe to be around).

I love it when you smile in your sleep, sweet girl. It's so cute. And I love your smell, your touch, your pretty face. I love being close to you. Wearing you on me has been some of the sweetest moments this week (I'm wearing you as I type this). I'm so thankful that I have the wrap and I plan to wear you often. I love your big dark gray-blue eyes. I love your little hands and your little feet and your little toes. I love all of you more and more every day.

The tender moments... I lock them away in my heart to hold them forever with me. I love you, baby girl. More than I could have ever imagined.

From the first time I saw you I knew that you’d be mine And from the first glance you gave My world it slowed, you stopped the time

And in that moment I could see all of the things that we would be You were the girl I was waiting for...

Like the beauty of the sun you light my life so I can see You make me laugh and show me how, just how good this life can be And in our moments filled with joy, is where I live, where I am free Lay in my arms, I’ll hold you tight, just like you like, continually

And I am, over-whelmed, by you Am, over come with joy You’ve, taken me higher, and shown me what love can do Where would I go, or be, without you

There’s something in your smile that gives me strength to carry on And there something in your words that lingers even when your gone Oh I’ve dreamt, that a time like this would come, fulfill my life...

I could sing a thousand songs about you still that would not do There’s a million tiny things that make the things that you do, you I wouldn’t trade our time together, wouldn’t trade for anything Cause nothing else here in the world can bring the happiness you bring

And I am, over-whelmed, by you Am, over come with joy You’ve, taken me higher, and shown me what love can do Where would I go, or be, without you...

I can only imagine what we have in store for the coming week! I can't wait to enjoy it with you.

Much love always, Your Momma

Dear Skylar Joy,

[1 Week Letter, Originally Posted on Facebook 8/16] Somehow yesterday came and went without me realizing you were one week old, little girl! It's okay... we spent some special moments together & I'll hold them forever in my heart just like the other moments we've had this week.

This week with you is one I will never forget. You scared your mommy & daddy a few times, but ultimately this week I fell in love... I fell in love with your smile... I fell in love with your crazy hand and arm movements (and I thought back to how you felt safe in my womb making those same movements & our connection was even more complete)... I fell in love with your soft skin & tender hair... Fell in love with your crazy expressions and your milk-drunk face after nursing. I fell deeply and irreversibly in love with you, baby girl... and I'm so thankful I've had the time to spend with you. I wouldn't change or give up one second of it for anything in the world.

This week you showed us over and over how stubborn you are. From your demands to eat as soon as possible when you're hungry to your strong grip and your intense desire to have your arms free... you are stubborn and strong. And you are beautiful, little Skylar... So very beautiful. I love you, baby. I don't wanna miss one moment of you and discovering you! I cannot wait to bring you home.

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing Watch you smile while you are sleeping While you're far away and dreaming I could spend my life in this sweet surrender I could stay lost in this moment forever Where every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Don't wanna close my eyes, I don't wanna fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby and I don't wanna miss a thing 'Cause even when I dream of you the sweetest dream would never do I'd still miss you baby and I don't want to miss a thing

Lying close to you feeling your heart beating And I'm wondering what you're dreaming Wondering if it's me you're seeing Then I kiss your eyes and thank God we're together I just wanna stay with you in this moment forever, forever and ever

I don't wanna miss one smile, I don't wanna miss one kiss I just wanna be with you, right here with you, just like this I just want to hold you close, feel your heart so close to mine And just stay here in this moment for all the rest of time

Don't wanna close my eyes, don't wanna fall asleep 'Cause I'd miss you baby and I don't wanna miss a thing 'Cause even when I dream of you the sweetest dream would never do I'd still miss you baby and I don't want to miss a thing. Love Aways & Forever, Your Momma

A Month Of Thanksgiving

I have an Instagram account. I really love posting pictures of a variety of subjects (though my most frequent pictures involve Skylar, our cat, nailpolish and food). Well, in early in November a friend posted something under the tag "instagratitude" and I clicked on it. Quickly I realized that the point was to post something that you are grateful/thankful for every day during the month of November. What a wonderful idea! I kept up posting almost every day (at the latest I posted a day late). I decided mid-month that at the end I would post all 30 days here! I thought it would be a good place to remember some of the things I'm thankful for and to reveal a piece of my Instagram on my blog! I have a lot to be thankful/grateful for... way more than what I'm posting here, but these are the things that "struck me" each day. Without further ado:

Day 1: Thankful for sweet cuddly moments with my baby girl while in line to checkout at the grocery store.

 

Day 2: So thankful that I get to stay home & take care of my little sick girl.

 

Day 3: So incredibly thankful for my beautiful Momma! Today is her birthday & I am so glad she's my Mom! (picture from the archives)

 

Day 4: Thankful for progress. (Unpacking with a newborn in the house has been a slow process, but things are finally coming together!)

 

Day 5: Appreciation. I am thankful that I was able to make dinner today & it was enjoyed.

 

Day 6: Grateful that with the help of my husband (he rocked taking care of Skylar) Sky & I are ~95% packed for tomorrow.

 

Day 7:  I'm so thankful that Skylar slept for most of the plane ride & was great for all of it! Also grateful that the flight attendants were nice & TSA agents were helpful & kind. So it turns out that flying with a baby is the best way to travel!

 

Day 8: Grateful for time with good friends! Today was a great day! (& Skylar is 3 months old today! Also thankful for 3 month pictures!)

 

Day 9: Thankful for quality time spent shopping with Mom & Skylar today. Can't wait to give these gifts tomorrow!

 

Day 10: I love the way my daughter brings a smile to anyone & everyone's face! We had a great day together at 2 different baby showers. So grateful for that!

 

Day 11: I was blessed to worship with family today. So thankful I got to be there while my youngest brother played on the worship team.

 

Day 12: Thankful that my dad was willing to pick me up in Newark & that my parents are now bringing me back there.

Day 13: I'm so thankful for the way he loves her. Seeing Jimmy with Skylar melts my heart & brings me joy.

Day 14: So thankful for this sweet kitty!!

 

Day 15: So thankful for my Daddy! The way he loves my daughter & me makes me smile! (picture from 11.8.12)

 

Day 16: Grateful for new toys to entertain my beautiful daughter while I got things done today!

 

Day 17: So grateful for time with friends celebrating their little girl! Also incredibly thankful for their hospitality!!

 

Day 18:  Grateful for a good travel day & watching Skylar meet her great grandparents in Ohio! So thankful for today! (btw, I cheated a bit. The top left picture is Skylar with her Grandma G... so these aren't ONLY her great grandparents!)

 

Day 19:  I'm grateful for how well this girl sleeps! 6+ hours for her "first sleep" last night left me feeling pretty good today!

 

Day 20: I'm grateful for the warm & fuzzy blanket my mother in law put on this bed. It's simple, but so comfy & warm! I appreciate her thoughtfulness!

 

Day 21:  I'm grateful I had time to work on my blog today!! Two lengthy posts were finally finished & posted!

 

Day 22: So thankful for our little family & all the adventures we have together!

 

Day 23: So grateful for my wonderful inlaws! They love Skylar so much! They are already wonderful grandparents!

 

Day 24:  I'm grateful for laughter with good people! Tonight was awesome. (I don't have a picture of the people we were with, so this silly Skylar picture will have to be good enough... She's trying to smile while she yawns).

Day 25: So grateful for these moments nourishing my daughter. The quiet ones at bedtime are my favorite. I'm so thankful breastfeeding has been successful for us!

Day 26:  I'm so grateful that I was able to fully unpack from our trip today! I unpacked Skylar's stuff too! & also did a load of laundry!

Day 27: Today I am grateful for this man & that I get to call him "mine." He's amazing in so many ways... as a husband, father, provider & friend. I truly cannot imagine my life without him. I love you, Jimmy. Now. Forever. Always. ❤

Day 28:  I'm grateful for quiet moments. Loving being a stay-at-home Mom today! So grateful for that & this moment to think about how much I love it!

Day 29: I am grateful for love & forgiveness that I don't deserve. For kindness in the face of anger.... For the soft word that turns away wrath.

Day 30:  I'm grateful for fun & thoughtful early Christmas packages from family! I'm also thankful for the last month of posting these! It's been a good reminder that I have lots to be thankful (& grateful) for!  

I would also love to add some awesome news we got today, but it's not time yet... I AM thankful/grateful for it, though! (and it's not that I'm pregnant, or anyone I know is pregnant or getting married or anything of that sort! No guesses... cuz most won't be even close!)

I'll be back soon to blog our trip to Ohio for the week of Thanksgiving!

Xo, Emily

Giving Thanks

I have so much to be thankful for this year. It's hard to believe that at this time last year I didn't even know I was pregnant yet. It's been a incredible year... here are a few things I'm thankful for (not in order of importance): ♥ A wonderful pregnancy. I loved being pregnant and since it was a huge part of the last year, I'm so thankful that it was a positive part of that year!

♥ Being surrounded by friends and family who love me and my little family.

♥ Meeting our little girl after 9 months of wonderful anticipation!

♥ Being blessed over and over by friends and their support -- especially during the "week of no power" during the hottest part of the summer. I had so many people offer me room in their air conditioned homes. It was huge blessing to me to have so many care about me and my pregnancy!

♥ The job changes for Jimmy that have moved us from a small town in VA to a smaller (technically) town in NC and all the blessings that have come from the move. We're still settling in, but thus far it's been a positive change in our lives (though we miss friends in VA for sure!).

♥ Though the first couple weeks of her life were difficult, Skylar Joy has been very healthy! I'm so thankful that she's healthy and growing!

♥ The beauty all around us every day! God's creation wows me in it's beauty. I'm so thankful that I've learned to stop and see those things (almost) every day now.

♥ I'm thankful for my husband who was amazing during labor & delivery and is an incredible father to our beautiful daughter! Seeing how he loves her reminds me of how much I love him and he loves me.

♥ Especially thankful for my little family. We're tiny at 3 people, but love abounds!

♥ Always thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus my Savior... And growing ever closer in my walk with Him.

Finally, I'm thankful for these wonderful images taken by the lovely, Nancy Noble of Nancy Noble Photography:

Until next time, Emily

New York Adventures!

I posted about the trip to and from NY, but not about the actual visit. So, here goes! We arrived Wednesday afternoon in Newark airport and met my Dad. Outside it was SNOWING (talk about a shock!) and we bundled up to head to the car. We headed to Panera for a quick lunch and then my Dad drove us to my childhood home in upstate New York. Here are a few pictures from the drive:  

Once there I unpacked some and waited for Mom and Luke to get home.... And then they were home:

 

Skylar didn't sleep well Wednesday night, so we slept in Thursday. We got up eventually to get ready to hang out with my wonderful friend Nancy!! I've known Nancy since I was in Kindergarten  She was my best friend growing up and I'm so glad we're still in each other's lives. I'm so blessed to have Nancy in my life. Nancy met Skylar and we talked and caught up for a while. Eventually we got down to taking photos. We tried to go outside but it was just TOO cold. We found some good light on the porch and I'm so happy with the photos I've seen thus far! I'll be posting separately with more pictures from the shoot -- so watch out for that, but there are a few in my 3 month note to Skylar.

Here's a quick picture I snapped of Nancy and Skylar:

Nancy left to make dinner for her husband and Lisamarie showed up soon after that. LM hadn't met Skylar yet either and I loved introducing her! Skylar is a little smiler and she grinned at Lisamarie (and at Nancy) so much! She loves meeting new people! Lisamarie, Skylar and I hung around the house, had dinner and ran to the grocery store for diapers and various other impulse buy items. I didn't get any pictures of LM and Skylar (sadness!), but here's one I grabbed at the end of the night:

(I adore you, Lisamarie!! I'm so glad we're friends!)


Friday was spent shopping with my Mom and Skylar for gifts for the two baby showers we were attending the next day (the main reason I was IN New York was to attend the showers). It was a fun day of shopping and looking at cute clothes and accessories. We laughed a lot! I love that the 3 of us had so much fun together. I cannot wait for the future when my daughter is a little bit more grown and the 3 of us can go on more outings!

Most nights Skylar & I used facetime with Jimmy. Skylar seemed to actually recognize Jimmy pretty well -- especially his voice. It was super cute:

 

Saturday dawned and Mom, Skylar and I got ready to head to Rachel's shower. After a few baby related delays and some traffic we made it to Rachel's shower! It was so great to see Rachel and celebrate her little one! I cannot wait to meet Sophie! Here's a fun picture of some of the preggo pictures of Rachel with Rob that were out on the table:

One of the activities at Rachel's shower was picking a card for Sophie for age 1-18 and writing a note for her. I thought that was such a neat idea! Mom wrote in the card for age 16 and I wrote in the one for age 3. I love how there are so many different things to do at showers! :) Mom and I had to leave before the shower was over to head to Nancy's shower.

Nancy's shower was an open house with everyone included! Girls, guys, kids! Everyone! Mom & I met some friends and family and hung out with Nancy and Jason. They aren't finding out the gender of their babe before birth, so there was much speculation about that at the shower. Here's the guess count at the end of the night (my guess was "boy"):

Hmmmm.... I'm pretty sure someone added 4 ticks on the girl side to even up the numbers. Hah..... No one really knows! Everyone has a 50/50 shot (except the college educated momma! She has a 70% chance of guessing correctly)! But we'll all know sometime in January! So exciting!

I hung out at the party for a while after it was over. I'm so thankful to Nancy's sister and brother in law for being such a gracious hosts! I loved spending a bit more time with Nancy and Jason. They are both awesome people and I cannot wait to meet their little person!

One thing I'm struck by lately is how many of my friends are having kids (or already have had kids). It's honestly super neat to be going through all of this with several friends! Nancy & Rachel are both good friends and I'm so excited to meet their little ones! Rachel's daughter should be born (hopefully) when we visit New York around Christmas time. I'll have to wait a bit longer to meet Nancy's little guy (or gal), but hopefully that will happen in the early spring! :)

The rest of my trip involved lots of people meeting Skylar. I loved sharing her with everyone at church and spending time with Lynn and Chuck (family friends that I've known since I was a kid) one evening. It always feels so great when people love on my little girl. Skylar also enjoys meeting new people and being social (hmmm, I wonder who she takes after?). On Sunday I was blessed to sing praises to God with my brother Luke as one of the worship team members. He is growing into such a wonderful young man. I'm super proud of my brother. Watching him with Skylar was a blessing as well. He's really good with her. Here are a few pictures of them together:

 

(Skylar was pretty enamored with Apples to Apples)

One other moment I really loved while in New York was when she was watching soccer with my dad:

Monday dawned and I worked quickly to pack up while waiting for my friend Stephanie to stop by with her three kids. After Steph and her kids arrived we hung out in the family room to catch up while the kids played with blocks and various toys. Steph's oldest, Jade, loved on Skylar quite a bit and it warmed my heart. Here are a couple photos from their interactions:

 

Monday afternoon Mom, Dad, Luke, Skylar and I traveled to Newark and met up with my grandfather and his friend Rita. We had dinner with them and then went back to Rita's house. My grandfather had just gotten power back and Rita's house was closer to the restaurant. Grandpa got to meet Skylar and held her. I don't have a picture of it, though! I need to get a copy of the pictures Luke took!

We headed to the airport soon after dinner and you can read the rest of the trip back to NC in this post.

It was really nice to catch up with so many people while I was in New York! I looooooved introducing so many people to my little girl! And Skylar was really good for most of the trip! It was kinda overwhelming to me to think about traveling without Jimmy, but I'm glad we were able to go and enjoy the time with family and friends! I look forward to the next trip to New York WITH Jimmy, though!

Until next time, Emily

3 Months Old!

Dear Skylar, It's your Mommy again! There's lots to tell you! Let's start with your medical victories: You had your first immunization shots and you rocked them! You had a little bit of a fever in the days following, but nothing terrible. Sleeping on mom and extra cuddles helped you get back to your normal self. You were so good in the doctor's office and really didn't even cry that much. I'm so proud of you, my brave girl!

You also had another cold this month, but handled it better than the first. This time you and Mommy were sick and your Dad didn't get the cold at all! We're both hoping that we'll be done with sickness for a while!

You discovered your hands this month, baby girl. You can't get enough of touching things with them. You also realized that you can bring your hands to your mouth and touch your own face with them. Watching you discover this was so fun and sweet. You also really like to put your fingers and hands in your mouth. At the beginning you would "capture" your left hand with your right and push it into your mouth. Now, a few weeks later, you can just move either hand into your mouth without much difficulty. You have grown so much even in just the last couple weeks!

Recently you touched your Daddy's face to feel the roughness of his 5 O'clock shadow! You were so interested in the way his face felts. It was really cute. You also grabbed Daddy's nose and laughed after you did! Watching you explore your world is so much fun!!

You are on the brink of really discovering your feet. It's so very close -- but I think you still don't really know that your feet are part of you! You definitely know your feet are there, though! And you try to touch them and play with them! It's so cute! You almost toppled out of your swing while reaching for your feet. Sometimes you scare your me a bit with your new abilities -- I'm not always ready for you being able to move so differently! But I'm so glad to see you changing and growing, little one!

You laugh every day now, sweet girl! Daddy and Mommy love it! We both do things to get you to laugh and delight in your giggling. Your smile and your laughs light up our world!

You've been standing up on your Daddy's lap with help for a long time (Mom forgot to mention when you first did it -- but thinks it was somewhere around 6 weeks old!). You now stand on your Daddy's lap all the time and often on your Mom's lap. You love exercising your legs and giggle as you stand -- excited that you were able to raise yourself up with help! It's so cute. You're not standing on your own yet, but Mommy & Daddy can't help but think you'll be doing it soon. I guess we'll see!

The final "first" for this month was flying!! You flew with your Mommy and were perfect! No fussing or being upset. You made me so proud, little one. People hate flying with babies, but no one heard a peep out of you! Good job!

I cannot wait to see what comes next, dear one. I love you so very much.

Here are a few pictures taken ON your "3 month birthday" by your Mommy's long time friend Nancy Noble Barnes:

(Mommy will have to do a whole post featuring more pictures from Nancy. There are so many great pictures to share! They're beautiful!)

Love always & forever,

Momma

First Flights or When I Flew to & from NY with My Infant

Last Wednesday I did something brave. I flew with my 3 month old daughter. It may not sound like a big feat, but the unknown was pretty huge and looming! I didn't know if the air pressure changes would make her scream for the whole flight or if I would be able to navigate security with one arm or how TSA would handle me walking through with a tiny person. Turns out? It was simple, easy, and fun. For the most part. Flight to NY: Heading through security for the first time I was a little stressed (I don't like the unknown -- I mean really who does?). I apologized to the guy behind me in line as I struggled to take off my shoes without my hands and he was kind enough to tell me to "take my time" and that he has 2 kids that are grown and he understands what it can be like with a baby.  After getting our stuff on the conveyor belt I approached the TSA  agent by the scanner and asked "how does this work?" and he ushered me through the metal detector with absolutely no fanfare. Easy-peasy. As I was gathering up our stuff on the other side of the scanner another TSA agent walked over and asked me "Who are you flying with?" very seriously. I started to indicate my daughter nervously and the agent smiled and told me that she was impressed with how well I "worked it with one arm" while getting our belongings up on the conveyor belt. She then said there was no reason she couldn't help me on this side and that I didn't need to do it all by myself. It was very sweet and made getting everything put back together so much easier.

We walked from security to our gate and I couldn't help but see the smiles everyone gave my daughter as we passed them. Skylar was very chill for the whole experience. We got to the gate and hung out for a while until Skylar started to complain (re: cried) because she wanted to nurse. Fortunately she fell asleep after nursing on one side. Here she is sleeping at the gate:

A little while later boarding started. I got on the plane pretty easily (Skylar charmed everyone as she passed) and found our seat. We were on the aisle and every person who passed us smiled at Skylar. A little bit later the passenger sitting on the inside of us approached and we stood to make room for her to join us in the row. Skylar smiled at her and they made friends quickly. We soon were taxiing down the run-way and about to take off. I quickly started nursing Skylar on the other side and she nursed until she fell asleep again. This time I cuddled her into the Moby wrap (she's the MOST snuggly and comfortable in that carrier so I thought it would be perfect for "in-fight" wearing) and she curled up against me. Skylar slept practically the whole flight (about an hour and a half) and only started stirring at the end right before we landed.

Here are a few pictures from on the plane:

I met my dad in the Newark Airport (kudos and thanks to my dad for picking us up in Newark and driving us to upstate NY and then driving us back down 5 days later!) and we headed to the baggage claim. The car-seat and our suitcase were some of the first items off the plane. The lady who sat next to me made a point of telling my dad how good Skylar was and how impressed she was with us. It made me feel so good to know that others were, in the very least, not bothered by us during the fight.

See. Here's my thing... I have some basic ideas and rules I try to follow with regarding my child and being in public. One of them is that I try hard not to make others deal with my daughter's crying or fussing or issues. This is because it's MY problem to handle, not theirs. At some point I'll make a post about all my ideas or "rules" regarding this.... Just for posterity's sake. :)

The Return Flight: My parents drove us to the airport and after saying goodbye we approached security. I figured it wouldn't be too difficult when I noticed the the whole line was going through only the metal detector. And the TSA agents were helpful once again with packing up my things. In line the guy behind me was nice-- though not as talkative... we were in NJ after all -- but ultimately everyone was kind and/or helpful. The flight back was pretty simple, but I was surrounded by men. I was only slightly concerned about nursing, but was really touched by the attitude of the man sitting directly across from us (we were in a single row with no one immediately next to us). He seemed to be from somewhere in Africa (I'm not sure which country because I wasn't able to place his accent fully) and he was both encouraging and respectful while we were nursing. It was kinda neat how I felt completely comfortable nursing Skylar with him sitting a mere 3 feet from me and how he didn't act awkward or like it was anything out of the ordinary. He also smiled and talked to Skylar a bit (not while she was nursing -- hah) and she grinned back. It was such a simple, but very sweet interaction. I was very blessed by that man and thanked him for his help (he had picked up a few items I dropped in the aisle for me) when we were exiting the plane.

The flights to and from NY really reminded me that strangers CAN be kind, friendly, and helpful. It gave me some hope for the future of us as society. I know it's much easier to be nice when there's a sweet little baby grinning at you, but ultimately, those who want to be sour and bitter will be regardless of who is smiling at them. I'm so thankful that everyone who crossed paths with us allowed Skylar to brighten their day. Watching my little girl make someone's world happier is a huge blessing to me and one I never tire of observing. And I'm incredibly thankful for those who helped us during our flight adventure. I hope someday I can return the favor.

Till next time,

Emily

 

Hello Out There...

You may be asking yourself: "What's this blog going to be about?" Thanks so much for asking! This blog is a place for me to share my joy and my heart. It's also a place to express my frustrations and be as honest as possible about this new journey of motherhood! It's a place for me to write to my daughter, Skylar Joy, and to help keep track of all her numerous changes as she grows. It's also a place for me to talk about me and who I am as a wife, mother, and woman. Other subjects that interest me and may show up here from time to time are:

♥ Interior Decorating

♥ Cooking

♥ Nail Polish

♥ Make-up & Beauty Products

♥  Craft Projects

♥ Organization

♥ Simplifying Life

♥ Accessorizing

♥ Tattoos & Piercings

♥ Exercise

Come join me on this journey!

Much Love, Emily