Sunday, January 30, 2011

Recipe: Shrimp Etouffee

    Since I had posted my menu for this past week, someone said they would like to have the Shrimp Etouffee with Rice Recipe. Here it is!
        I love Etouffee, any etouffee to be honest. There are so many different ways of cooking it, but I prefer mine a little thicker than some and more spicy. This recipe is one that came from a Louisiana cookbook that we have, and I just worked with it until I got it the way I like it. So do not be afraid to take away or add for your own taste. This recipe can also be cooked with crawfish instead of shrimp. I hope you enjoy it. As always, if you try it, be sure to let me know what you thought of it!
        • Shrimp Etouffee:
        • Ingredients:
        • 2 pounds shrimp
        • 1 stick butter 
        • 1 1/2 cups onions, diced
        • 1/2 cup celery, diced (I sometimes omit this as I am not a big cooked celery person.)
        • 1 cup  green bell peppers, diced (can be divided red and green or all green)
        • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, drained (I use fresh tomatoes.)
        • 2 tbs garlic, minced
        • 1 bay leaf
        • 1 cup flour
        • 1 small can or 1/2 cup tomato sauce (If you enjoy making your own, go for it! Taste just as good!)
        • 2 quarts crawfish or shrimp stock or water (I personally use water.)
        • 1 cup sliced green onion tops
        • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
        • salt and Louisiana hot sauce to taste


        • 1. Melt butter and over medium high heat in two gallong cast iron Dutch oven or saucepot.
        • 2. Add onion, celery and bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic and bay leaf.
        • 3. Saute 4 or 5 minutes until veggies are wilted.
        • 4. Whisk in flour and stir constantly until flour is cooked. This is a white roux. Do not leave unattended and burn.
        • 5. Slowly add shrimp stock or water.
        • 6. Add tomato sauce and stir well.
        • 7. Simmer for 30 minutes, do not boil, stir about every five minutes.
        • 8. Mixture should have a sauce-like consistency, add a little water or stock if necessary, but don't over thin.
        • 9. Add crawfish tails or shrimp and cook until shrimp tturn pink. about 5-8 minutes. Do not overcook. Crawfish tails are precooked.
        • 10. Adjust salt and add several shakes Louisiana Hot Sauce, or to taste
        • 11. Add green onions and parsley and serve over cooked rice.
        • Note: Shrimp base can be purchased in paste form in gourmet groceries, but have a high salt content. Stock can be made by boiling shrimp heads and/or shells.
        Serve this with rice. Brown rice or white rice. They are both yummy! 

        Eat up!! 

        Saturday, January 29, 2011

        Menu Planning:

        I have always planned our meals week by week. I thought it would be fun to show everyone else what I make throughout the week for my husband and I. If anyone wants to recipes, feel free to ask. Each week I will randomly pick one of the recipes to share with ya'll if there are no requests!

        This week, which is almost over, we have had (or are having):
        1. Bourbon Chicken with Rice
        2. Crockpot Roasted Chicken
        3. Meatloaf
        4. Chicken Cresent Roll Casserole
        5. Shrimp Etouffee with Rice
        6. Lasgane
        7. Beef Stew with Rice

        This week is an odd week because most of our dishes have rice with them. Normally I split them between rice, pasta, and potatoes. Last week, we had more pasta dishes and some of the recipes were able to roll over for this week, so I thought I would add more rice dishes.

        We always have one cheat meal. I call it a cheat meal because it is generally for the day that we have appointments during the day that only give me limited time to cook, or it will  be used for our Saturday meal if we plan on being out all day.

        Sunday's are my husband's cook day. Generally he will cook something on the grill or make something a little more manly that I personally do not enjoy cooking. But he gets to choose. This week he chose Beef Stew, which is NOT like him. Normally it is Lamb, Duck, Ribs, Steaks, or some type of fish. He shocked me!

        Since I am writing this early and it will post on Saturday, I can tell you that some of these dishes will not get cooked by the end of this week because we either had leftovers or my husband chose to boil chicken breasts for dinner and I just found myself something simple. Today is Friday and so far we have cooked the Bourbon Chicken with Rice, Meatloaf, and Lasgane.

        Remember- Mr. Man works evenings so I cook in the morning and send it with him to work then reheat for me for dinner time.

        Also- We are not on the full flow of health kick that we are normally on. With me being pregnant, I need the carbs/starches. We ALWAYS have a vegetable on the side with each dish, too. We each pick our vegetable separately since we do not eat together and cook them before we eat.

        *I also put ourselves on a monthly budget to spend on groceries. We normally spend half of what I plan for, but I am adding in the extras as a personal budgeting factor for when Baby A starts to eat with us. Right now, we are spending about $60 a week on groceries - buying mostly fresh (or frozen) foods.

        Hope you enjoy!

        Friday, January 28, 2011

        Thoughts (on ME deploying):

        I have been thinking a lot about something particular. It is something that I would love to do, and I have always considered it. But I was always afraid of it because Mr. Man has been to less fortunate countries and have seen some sad things, and he would tell me that I probably would not be able to handle it. Or that it would make me depressed or something like that. That always made me think and reconsider if I could do it.

        Now that I am older, I want to do it. In spite of possibly getting a huge eye opener, I would love to experience for the sake of other people. Mr. Man goes on numerous TDYs and deployments while I stay home and hold the house.... Now what if the tables were turned? I'm not talking about going to Afghanistan with a gun in one hand and a grenade in the other (LOL!-- ok, it sounded cool!), I am talking about going on a....

        Mission Trip.

        Do you ever wonder who you could impact? How it would change your life? What you would do for these people that suffer or lack things? Or need the support to build their community? Want to be a Christian based community but do not have the funds to make it happen. Rely on others to bring Bibles, preachers, paper, pens, and a positive attitude to help them get started. Do you ever think about the children? The life it could offer them. The imagination of doing things that they would have never thought was possible before. Would there be tears of happiness flowing down the adult's faces in thankfulness? Showing just how appreciative they are of what these shelfless people are doing. Thanking God for sending just the right people to build them and their families up. To give them strength to carry on even when times get tough. To push passed any disease, financial situation, house fire, or other natural disaster. To share their love with others just as the people who visit them share.

        Do people that go on these mission trips think about how it will impact them - in a negative way? Do they worry about getting depressed and never pulling out it? Do they fear they will cry in front of all these less fortunate people? What stops them from going through with their passion for helping others?

        Today, I sat around thinking about. Not sure why or what made it come up. It started with me thinking about how I would like to get more involved with our church. I always have wanted to, but I felt that I was not the appropriate age or did not have the appropriate experience. But when you through a child in the mix of it all, it changes. You know you want them to be involved, and you know you will make sure they are. When that happens, it automatically throws you out there and you become more involved. This is where the thought process began....

        and this is where it ended. Mr. Man deploys. Mr. Man goes on TDYs. I stay home and make sure everything is perfect around the house. However, I would love to have him with me at all times. I wish I would have had this state of mind before there was a child in the picture, but at the same time, I feel I just wasn't ready. I was scared. So after all this thinking on this particular topic, I have added it to my list of things to do before I die. Why so long from now? Because I would love for Mr. Man to experience it with me. I would love for my children to experience it with me if they choose. I want to build a strong foundation of strength, belief, and faith before I take on the challenge. But nonetheless....

        Before I die, I want to successfully complete a mission trip in another country.

        Five Question Friday

        Go link up and join the fun over at Murdock's Mama's Five Question Friday! The only rule is to answer the questions and have fun!

        1. If you had $1,000 to donate to a charity, which would you choose?
        St. Jude's or the Ronald McDonald House.

        2. Snow days: Do you welcome them happily or are they a pain in your butt?
        I love snow days! I love winter. I love the white-ness! It's my favorite time of the year!

        This year (technically last year-Dec. 2010) while we were driving to the tube to go to London, it started snowing like cats and dogs. Mr. Man was driving and the traffic was stopped. Mr. Man was debating on turning around, but I was all smiles and enjoying the snow. I wanted to get out of the car while it was stopped and just play it. There was tons of snow!! 

        3. What talent did you wish you had and why?
        I wish I could sing or play the piano. They both seem so relaxing and fun at the same time.

        4. Are you a news, politics or celebrity gossip junkie?
        No way! Drama in general is not for me, so that covers the celebrity gossip. News and politics really do not interest me unless they are funny or something about Education. Education part only because it's my major, and I like to know how it is evolving. News part... is boring to me! Except when I saw this woman "WWD" (walking while distracted) and fell right into a fountain in a mall. Then turned around and tried to sue the mall since no one went to her help. BAHAHA! That cracked me up!

        5. What is your favorite "cocktail"? (Are you a beer person, a kiddie cocktail junkie, or perhaps your more the "Cosmo" kind?! Anything flies...doesn't hafta be alcoholic!)
        To be honest, I do not have a favorite alcoholic or even non-alcoholic drink. But I  can tell you that I love margaritas... and strawberry daiquiriswhen we are out at restaurants.

        Thursday, January 27, 2011

        Our New Crazy Year Has Begun!

        It looks like our busy year has officially kicked off. By that I mean the numerous appointments, TDYs, deployment, school, work, birth, re-enlistment, extension/PSCing.... and the list goes on and on.

        We knew entering this year we would need to make numerous decisions about our life and some things would happen that we have no control over. It looks like God gave us a month of freedom before it all kicks off!

        Here is where it all begins. Our new life, the new chapter in our life is about to kick off. The first stop is all of our classes before the baby is born. We have one in the beginning of February, and another in the beginning of March. Soon after the first class, Mr. Man will be heading to Germany for a couple of weeks for some preparation for his upcoming deployment. Once he gets back, it will be just in time for our maternity pictures session. Then we will go to our Labor and Delivery tour in March, and just a couple of weeks later Baby A will be with us! From there, my Mom and brother plans on coming up to visit for a couple of weeks in the beginning of April. My Dad and Memaw plan on coming to visit in the beginning of May for a couple of weeks. Somewhere in here Mr. Man's family may come if they get the opportunity. During all of this time, we will need to get all the paperwork for the baby going as far as Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Passport and Visas. Lots to be done BEFORE Mr. Man leaves. Once June comes around, Mr. Man will be gone on his deployment. He will be gone for 4 months-ish. During that time, I will be doubling up on school (hopefully) and keeping up with our baby girl and Mr. Buttons.

        This is where it gets tricky. Mr. Man is up for re-enlistment. Our DEROS is August 2012. However, we are trying to stay here for another tour, which is 4 years. Mr. Man has put in for that this week, and we will have to wait several months to see whether or not it gets approved or denied. While Mr. Man is gone, before he leaves, or immediately after he gets back he will  need to re-enlist. Once he gets back, we will have less than a year of this tour and hopefully we can get some traveling in with our baby girl so she can see the world just like we have had the opportunity to do. If we get approved to stay here for another tour, then that will be great. But if not, then we will  be planning for another PCS. Another PCS with our pup and a child. It will be interesting for sure!

        From here on out, I will need to do some observation hours and start student teaching. Something that I have to take on in order to finish my degree. This means Baby A will be needing a sitter for some short hours... and the CDC is not an option! So soon after she is born, I will have to find her a temporary sitter so I can do a few hours in the schools during the week. I also want to get back into shape as soon as the doctor releases me, so I have considered finding her a sitter for a couple hours 1 or 2 days a week so I can go to the adult gym. However, we have a gym on this base that I know I can take her with me with no problem, so that is what I will do the majority of the time. But working out, getting out a couple of hours once a week without her may prepare me for having to leave her a few hours 2 or 3 times a week... and slowly fade in to full time.

        Life is so busy. And I feel it will only get busier, but I can not wait to accomplish all of this. Tackle it like it was nothing. I have not yet got stressed about any of it or fearful of any of it. That's not worth it. I am actually looking forward to it. Looking forward to becoming a stronger, more independent family with our new addition.

        This is going to be such an exciting year. There will be ups and downs, but all of it will be worth it. All of it will go in our little book of memories. Memories that will last a lifetime.

        Monday, January 24, 2011

        Kids say the Darnest Things:

        For the first time, I have had strangers touch my belly, talk about my belly, talk to their children about my belly, and have children say the darnest things.

        This last weekend I went out in normal fitted clothes. Most of you that England weather at this time of year is cold. Because of that, I generally have my big winter jacket on. When I am wearing it, you can hardly even tell I have a belly. Anyway, a new thing of mine is always being hot. So this weekend I wore normal clothes with just a small cardigan over the top.

        Story #1: In church, my husband and I sit in the same spot. Towards the front in the middle of the pew. Church begins. There is always the greeting part where everyone is encourage to walk around, say good morning, shake hands, whatever. We always do. But this time it was different. A couple of people just had to touch the belly, and would jump when the baby would roll or kick. (She loves music, and music is always playing at this time.) It was awkward for me, but I kept a smile on my face because afterall, they were not complete strangers.

        Story #2: Mr. Man always gets a hair cut every other Sunday after church lets out. We walk to the BX, he grabs a number and waits, and I shop. I went into the BX to look for some things when I saw a little girl with her Mom. Another person that we have mutual friends so we know of each other, but don't really know each other. Her little girl points to my belly as I walk by and says, "Mommy, she has a HUGE belly." Not a big belly, and not just a huge belly. It was a HUUUGGGEEEEE (long and drawn out) belly. Thank goodness I am proud of this belly because otherwise I'm not sure what would have happened. I proudly walked off rubbing my belly and giggling!

        Story #3: Mr. Man was waiting for his haircut, and I was finished shopping. I went to meet him to see what number he was and how long he had left to wait. Well, he still had a while to wait and there was no available chairs (although one sweet guy offered me his chair). I went in to Mr. Man and asked him to come buy me some food. Really, I just wanted him to eat with me. I hate eating alone. Normally we do not eat there, but since it was such a long wait, I needed lunch. The lady sitting on the side of Mr. Man starts laughing. Next thing I know, her son is laughing with her. This was over me asking Mr. Man to come buy me lunch. As Mr. Man is getting up, the woman points to my belly. She then asks her son (which I would say is about 4 or 5) and says "What do you think is in her belly?" I immediately was like, "Oh great!" Mr. Man's gears were going 90 to nothing, and I could tell he wanted to say something really sarcastic, like it was a basketball or watermelon... or something. Thankfully, he did not say a word, and to my surprise, the little boy starts giggling and says, "A baby..." It was so sweet. I was not expecting that at all!

        And if you are wondering, I did ask Mr. Man later on what he was thinking whenever the lady asked her son what he thought was in my belly. Mr. Man said, "I almost said that you smuggled a bunch of clothes from the BX!" Hahaha, I told you he had something up his sleeve! He always does!

        Saturday, January 22, 2011

        I wanted to update you all on my progress with 101 in 1001 Days. I have accomplished a few things within the last couple of months, so I thought I would update it while I am thinking about it. My end date is the middle of February of 2013. I can't wait to see how far we have gone in life and how much of these I actually accomplish. This will be an exciting next few years. 

        If you want to join in, you can create your list at I hope you enjoy my list and get inspired to create your own!

        My Project:
        1. Go horseback riding.
        2. Get a job.
        3. Go to a concert.
        4. Go camping.
        5. Dance in the rain.
        6. Visit Egypt.
        7. Buy a car.
        8. Try 5 new foods.--Main dishes. 
        9. Visit Italy. 
        10. Visit Germany.
        11. Visit France.
        12. Try 5 new vegetables.
        13. Visit an aquarium.
        14. Go biking.
        15. Use only reusable grocery bags.
                 -working on that.
        16. Crochet a scarf.
        17. Eat at 5 new restaurants. 
                -Gandhi's (Indian Restaurant)
               -Teri-aki's (Sushi Bar)
        18. Finish a scrapbook.
        19. Buy new couches.
               -Purchased on Monday, June 28, 2010
        20. Graduate from college. 
        21. Donate to a charity.
                -East Anglia Hospice
        22. Learn how to make sushi.
        23. Visit 5 castles.
        24. Try 10 new wines. 
                -White wine  from Siena.
                -White wine from Siena.
                -White wine from Milan.
                -Red wine from Venice.
        25. Visit Ireland.
        26. Paint a painting.
        27. Host a BBQ.
        28. Stretch everyday for a month.
        29. Start a family.
                -EDD- April 5, 2011
        30. Learn to Crochet.
        31. Redecorate a room.
               -Started on our living room.
               -Started on baby's room.
        32. Learn how to eat with chopsticks.
        33. See a musical in London.
        34. Go scuba diving.
        35. Swim in a large body of water.
                -Lido, Venice, Italy.
        36. Find 100 things that make me happy.
        37. Make 5 New Friends.
        38. Clean out my closet and donate the things I don't use.
        39. Run a 5K with others.
        40. Go to church every Sunday for 3 months straight.
        41. Have 2 sets of family photos done within 2 separate years.
        42. Go on a last minute mini vacation.
        43. Read 5 books (not including my school books).
                -What to Expect When you are Expecting
                - Week by Week Guide
                -Breastfeeding book (forgot the name)
        44. Go on a fossil hunt.
        45. Attend 10 museums.
               -I can almost guarantee I did this in Italy. I will put them all on here once I gather their names.
        46. Pass the teaching certificate test.
        47. Climb to the top of something high.
                -I did a lot of this in Italy. I will name the places once I gather their names.
        48. Make all A's and B's in school.
                -So far all A's!
        49. Build a sand castle with Mr. Man.
        50. Visit Snowdonia.
                 -October 2010.
        51. Print out pictures of vacations and put them in memory books.
        52. Touch an animal that I am scared of.
        53. Get a second Miniature Schnauzer.
        54. Find 50 things that inspire me to be a better person.
                -Teen Moms
        55. Support a cause.
                -We actually support many every year. We do Christmas Operations. I write to military members from other branches that are deployed. Etc.
        56. Collect refrigerator magnets or postcards from major places. 
               -Italy-(Siena, Rome,  Pisa)
               -Dublin, Ireland
        57. Drink protein shakes regularly for a month.
        58. Send care packages to troops from other military services.
        59. Write a story about how I see and want my future and open it later in life.
                -Will do this before baby is born.
        60. Say No to people who ask me for favors when I am already busy.
                -Now that I am pregnant, I have no choice.
        61. Go to the eye doctor every year.
        62. Celebrate my birthday in style.
        63. Have movie night once every 3 months.
                -Doing this.
        64. Get lost somewhere and find my way back.
        65. Get fit! (The way I see it.)
        66. Sell/Pay off our house.
        67. Do not complain for a week.
        68. Do not eat ice cream for a full summer.
        69. Submit 5 photos to a digital photograph school.
        70. Start Master's Program.
        71. Renew our wedding vows in a Catholic Church.
        72. Open a TSP or IRA.
                -Working on this now.
        73. Keep $10,000 in savings.
                -So far, so good.
        74. Start a separate savings for our children.
               -Done now that there is a baby on the way!
        75. Lay out at night with Mr. Man and look at the stars.
        76. Crochet a pair of booties.
        77. Attempt to learn how to play a PS3 war game. 
               -Accomplished on  June 9, 2010. I'm HORRIBLE at this.
        78. Only buy necessities for a month- 3 times.
        79. Stay on Mr. Man's butt to finish school.
        80. Take a fitness progression picture every couple of months.
        81. Make 5 baby blankets.
        82. Attempt to Ski or Snowboard.
        83. Go hiking again.
        84. Try 3 new fruits.
        85. Learn how to use the weed wacker.
        86. Drive somewhere using only a map.
        87. Take professional bodybuilding pictures.
        88. Give 10% of income to church for 5 months.
        89. Recycle a Christmas tree.
        90. Go canoeing, kayaking, or paddling.
        91. Use no butter for a week.
        92. Make homemade cards for an event or holiday.
                -Christmas 2010
                -Announcement/Thank You Cards
        93. Cook 26 dishes in a row from A-Z.
        94. Do not eat Chinese Food for 6 months straight.
        95. Volunteer at a local school or nursery.
        96. Commit to a date night every 3 to 5 months.
        97. Do morning cardio outside during the summer months.
        98. Let 5 people know how much I appreciate them.
        99. Go to Disney World, Disney Land, or Euro Disney.
        100. Learn a new dancing style.
        101. Donate a dollar for every thing on this list that I do not accomplish to any organization of my choice.

        I will add links to the different things that I have posted on my blog once I have more time. This was a last minute "Oh, I want to see how much I have accomplished." 

        I will be sure to keep you updated as I check things off my list!

        Friday, January 21, 2011

        Week 23-Week 28

         Week 23

         Week 24

         Week 25

        Week 26

         Week 27

        Week 28

        I am almost to 30 weeks now. I can't believe how fast time is flying! And I finally took a couple of pictures with my face in them!! 

        Wednesday, January 12, 2011

        11 Things to Achieve in 2011:

        It's a New Year. And what comes with a New Year? Literally a new year - a new adventure, no matter what it may be. For us a child, testings, school, promotions, volunteering, traveling, many things. When I posted my Top 10 Moments of 2010, I thought it would be a great thing to post an "11 Things to Achieve in 2011". (The numbers matching up is fruity, I know! But fun.) Most people have New Years Resolutions, but my family never does those. We will think about things we would like to improve on or do more of, but it comes with time, money, and other things.

        It was fun to think about what I would like to do in 2011, but it was very hard because I am very simple. I do not know what having a child will be like, so it was hard to determine what was realistic to achieve. But I will give it my best shot anyway.

        The List:

        1. Travel- Of course, I want to travel. I hope that we are still able to travel even with a child. I know she may slow us down a bit, but I do not think she will stop us from doing it all. The places I would like to travel to are: Germany, Scotland, Cornwall, Spain, Greece, France. I think I will stop there because we all know it will not all happen in 2011, but hopefully a couple of them will.

        2. Survive our Third Deployment- I really have not talked much about this. By choice, of course. Mostly because too many people get to asking the wrong questions, and I find that it puts me in an awkward position. Now, since family and friends read this blog, I did not want them to be worrying over whether Mr. Man would be here for the birth or her first Christmas or whatever the case. Well, now the "cats out of the bag". Mr. Man "will most likely" deploy again this year. If you have been following me for a while, you know I started this blog while he was deployed last year (January-May 2010). For us, we expected it. I actually expected it sooner and longer. He will be here for the birth!

        3. Continue My Education- As much of you know, my educational career has been my priority in my life for the past couple of years. It still is, and that will not change. I may have a child, my husband may deploy, but that does not stop me from being a functional Mom and Wife to my family. I still need to provide. I still need to support. And I still deserve a future for myself and my family.

        4. Get Back in to Shape- This has to be my favorite one. Only my favorite one because I am so motivated right now. Talking about working out after the baby motivates me and inspires me so much. It makes me want to drop everything I am doing and hit the gym right away! And I would if I could. I love being pregnant (do not mistake that!), but I do miss the way I was working out before. PS- I crave SuperPump!

        5. Raise a Happy, Healthy Baby Girl- Of course, this is a given. The most important thing in my life. The one I would do absolutely anything for. The one I give my all to. Hopefully, Baby A will leave a happy, healthy life with loving parents who are there for her 100% of the way and only want the best for her.

        6. Learn More About My Camera- I need to find some time to play more with my camera, and "that's the bottom line".

        7. Take Mr. Buttons on a Couple of Hiking Trips- So this kind of goes with traveling, but I think that it needs to be separate because I want to do a couple of trips just for him. I love watching him play in nature. I love seeing him play at the beaches, in the sand dunes. I love when my fluffy puppy is happy and his ears are all perky!

        8. Read to My Daughter Every Night- We are buying Baby A a 365 days of short stories from the bible. I have always wanted to do this, and I do still plan to do this. That way when she is a year old, she will have heard the bible in a nutshell. I plan to continue to read the bible to her, but I would also like to incorporate other books in to it.

        9. Eat Dinner at the Table as a Family- Right now, this is not happening. Mr. Man is still on swings, so we eat no meals together - except for the occasional breakfast. But once Baby A arrives, he is being put on days. Neither one of us are thrilled about that, but we are (once again) grateful that they are thinking about our little family. I want to start eating dinner at the table like in the past, so we will have that solid tradition when Baby A can join us.

        10. Breastfeeding- Ok, so this goes with everything to do with Baby A. Yep, it does. But I have decided to separate it because it is one thing that I have a strong passion about. I want to be able to breastfeed her for at least 1 year. I want her to be exclusively breastfed for 6 months before starting solids. I want to never put anything before that, whether I have to go work at the schools or whatever, I want to have her so of "Mommy's milk" at all times. No excuses!

        11. I will save this as a personal wish that I prefer not to discuss here. So, let's just say a little prayer that it works out. I would greatly appreciate it.

        What would you like to achieve this year? Do you have a New Year's Resolution? Do you have a wish for this year? Do you need a  prayer or two also? I would love to hear what each of your plans are!

        Monday, January 10, 2011

        Things I Could Not Live Without This Pregnancy (So Far):

        Since I have now hit my third trimester and time is flying by so fast, I thought it would be nice to document the things I just could not live without throughout the first two trimesters of this pregnancy. I am now in my third trimester and have been for a couple of weeks, so I will not include any new things that have been added to my "pregnancy must-haves." I will explain what I used each of them for and why I loved them so much.

        The List:
        1. My husband- Obviously, I could not have done this without him. He has been amazing through it all. I do have to add him in this list since he was the one that used this stuff (on me) just as much as I did. He has cooked me numerous meals when I have been so exhausted and starving. He makes sure I take my pills, and he always makes sure I am eating right and enough, as well as drinking plenty of water. He's pretty much awesome!

        2. Bath time- This is another odd one. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I could not get enough warm baths. I absolutely loved them, and they were so relaxing. I never took them for aches and pains. I simply loved the water. It was something about laying in the water, letting my body float to the surface, and being as still as possible to not set off the automatic light that made this time a memorable and nice time. I also read my books during this time. It was nice and peaceful. Then, as I grew, showers became just as great. I just loved to be in the water. And most of the time that I felt the baby move the most was when I was in water. As I got bigger and bigger, showers were my only option since I could not pull myself up from the bath even with the handles. Mr. Man would (and still) have to come up when I was ready to get out and help me out. (Another reason why he has been absolutely amazing!)

        3. One size too big boy cute undies- This was one of the very first things that I went to in the pregnancy. During the day when I was out and about, I wore my normal panties. But at night, I felt the need for granny panties. I know this kind of starts to get TMI, but it was for numerous reasons. Whenever you get a size to big, they not only grow with you, you can wear them around the house without having to put on another pair of shorts or pants. I stayed hot in the house a lot, so it was so comfy for me without having everything hanging out. At night, it was convenient because when I would grow and have leukorrhea, it made it more comfortable.

        4. Hard Candies and Light Snacks- I am just going to combine these two because they basically were used for the same purpose. In the beginning, I would always get hungry while I was out and about. No matter if I ate right before I left and had only been gone for an hour. I was always needing a snack. I used the hard candies to tie me over until I could get home if I was heading home right away. I switched out the type of candies in order to not get tired of them and get sick of them, and I only would use 1 or 2 at a time. Never ever overindulged on these. I used the light snacks, which consisted of mixed nuts, crackers, trail mix, pretzels, etc. for when I knew I would not be gone long but long enough to need something. I also used them for when I would get car sick, which I did on long trips. I also used them as emergency food when we were far from a food source.

        5. Lotion- I use 3 different kinds of lotions, and they all serve their own purpose. It also depends on my mood.
             Coco Butter- I used two different types of Coco Butter. I used the original, more thick version and the creamy one. I used the thick one for night time because I did not have to wait for it to dry before I put on my clothes. I could go straight to bed without feeling wet. I used the creamy version for during the day. I always would put it on and leave my shirt propped over my belly. It was more soothing because of it being creamy. It was also colder, so that added to the relaxing feeling of it on me.
              Jergens Ultra Healing- I used the Jergens whenever I had really dry skin. When I started looking scaly on my back and stomach, this is when this one came in handy. I absolutely loved it. It was soothing and definitely did it's job.
              Avon Shea Itchy Lotion- Ok, really I don't know the name of it, but I know it's from Avon and it has Shea in it. I also know it is for dry, itchy hands. I had a bottle of this because it is generally what I carry in my purse. It was used mostly for my stomach. It is travel-sized, so I could throw it in my purse or gym bag and apply it any time my back or stomach got itchy. I also used it several times at night because showers dried me out even more. Since I take showers at night before bed, this came in handy.

        6. Coco Butter Body Oil- I used the Coco Butter Body Oil in the bath tub and shower. In the beginning, when I was taking lots of baths, I would put a couple of drops of this into my water when my body was dried out. I did not do this everyday because then it would have made my whole body oily. I definitely did not want that. As I started to take showers, I would just squirt a couple of drops on my stomach and rub it in, then rinse a bit off. I hate feeling icky and oily, so I always rinsed under the water. But it never took away the moisturizing affect.

        7. Sugar Whipped Scrub- I used this for my chest. I had a itchy patch on one side of my side, and it would get really bad whenever my boobs would grow or get fuller. It would dry out this one little patch, and the patch would get super itchy. This happened throughout my first two trimesters fairly regularly. It happened about every 2 weeks and would last for 2 or 3 days. The sugar whipped scrub helped to exfoliate and moisturize the skin. It is an all natural scrub, too!

        8. Benadryl Cream- Whenever the sugar whipped scrub did not work, I would apply a very small amount of this cream to my chest. Just enough to cover the area that was bothered with a thin layer. I used this about 5 times, but it was still a lifesaver. Whenever I would go to bed, sometimes the sugar whipped scrub with lotion was enough. But then I would wake up in the middle of the night scratching it, so that is when I realized I need to do something about it. If not, I would have scratched it until it bled. (Yes, that happens!) Thankfully, the benadryl cream saved me from it getting worse or me aggravating it.

        9. Doppler- We loved the doppler. This was for sure one of our favorite things to do during this pregnancy - listen to the baby every night. We really enjoyed it, and it always brought a big smile to our faces. With this, we used KY Jelly and Baby Oil to help guide it on my stomach. The doppler in itself explains just how important it is!

        10. Books- I have read so much since being pregnant. All about being pregnant, what to expect from pregnancy, birth, and the first year, and breastfeeding.
                What to Expect When You are Expecting- Of course, I love this book. I also had a week by week guide, but I prefered the What to Expect book. It was done by weeks and months, so I could sit down right before those weeks (or that month) started and read about what to expect and how to treat it or what to worry about or how I should approach things or what I should be thinking about for that month. It also showed pictures of the progression. I loved it.
                The Motherly Art of Breastfeeding- I read this book because I am dead set on breastfeeding. I am definitely being open-minded about what can happen, but overall I really want it to work out. I read this book because many people had recommended it to me, and said that it gave a subtle yet realistic approach to breastfeeding. That was very true. It explains everything. It explains the reasons behind problems, how to fix them, why you may have problems, etc. It gives great advice of who to talk to, how to help your husband understand and cope, and many other things. It also provides the changes as the baby gets older, up to a year old.
               Like I said before I read a lot of books. I will not list them all because some of them were small or I found something else to be better. But I read a week by week guide, which was neat to see what would happen that week. I read a book about why I should nurse, which was very helpful. I read books on baby products, necessities, and other things. I read a book on birthing. Another on postpartum. I felt all of them had their place for me. I was able to take something away from all of them.

        11. Calendar and Journal- I used both of these to document the milestones. I am still using them obviously. The book allows for aversions and cravings along with weekly pictures. It has a section for you to document your appointments and things you were doing during that week. The calendar I used for appointments and measurements, along with milestones. I would recommend doing both. They each serve their own purpose!

        12. Proactiv- This is the big one. Once I hit my second trimester, I began breaking out really bad. I tried to change my foundation and other makeup supplies. I tried changing my cleaner. I tried cleaning my face more often, then not so often. I tried cleaning my makeup brushes more often. I tried it all. I really did not want to have to resort to Proactiv, but it finally came down to that. And I am so glad I did! It is amazing. I just hope that it is not too harsh after the birth and I go back to normal (if I go back to normal). It has stopped my breakouts, and now it is removing the scarring from it. Definitely a good product for me right now.

        So these are the things that I could not live without. Most of them, I would have never thought I would have needed or been interested in. Others, I sort of planned to use them or have them. Later on, I will do a list of things that people swore by that I did not find helpful. A lot of which has to do with my size, but nonetheless was pointless for me.

        So far, this is where I am. I am currently 28 Weeks pregnant, and time is flying by way too fast!

        I hope everyone has a great Monday and a fantastic week!

        Friday, January 7, 2011

        3 Simple Ideas for Unwanted Christmas Presents:

        This is another awesome guest post from Sam. I seriously laughed out loud when I read the title. It made me super curious to see what was going to be inside. When I opened it up, I was pleasantly surprised to see some really great and fun ideas. My husband and I have always donated to multiply less fortunate children throughout our marriage, and we discussed what we would do with old toys and/or new toys that our daughter just did not need. We had actually thought of the things listed on this list. What's so great about it, is you can make it as personal you want or do it anonymously. 

        The last one is my favorite. I love to take old sweaters and pants that either no longer fit or just look hideous for my taste. I like to convert them to other things. Of course, I am not a craft pro by any means, but I have discovered some simple techniques to reusing the material without just trashing it. 

        3 Simple Ideas for Unwanted Christmas Presents
        Christmas has finished and a new year begins and whilst many people are wearing the new clothes they got for Christmas or listening to their new albums there are quite a few that will be left with unwanted gifts. Unfortunately this happens every year but do not fret as there are quite a few things you can do to save money or to swap gifts for something you wanted. Although we know Christmas is a lot more than just the presents there is no point of leaving an unwanted gift lying around the house.
        Here we highlight 3 simple tips for unwanted Christmas present:
        1. Recycle unwanted Gifts
        Just because the gifts you received are unwanted in your eyes it doesn’t mean that no one   wants them. Why not consider giving them away to someone close to you, either as a surprise gift or save them for birthdays later in the year. The key to this idea is to make sure you give the present to someone who is not close to who gave you the present. If this seems like something you wouldn’t consider then you can always donate unwanted gifts to the local charity shops or hospices. This will let them make money for a worthwhile charity and will let you feel better about yourself.
        1. Raise money for your Social/Sports Organisation
        Unwanted gifts can be a great way for you to raise money for any sports or social clubs you may belong to. Speak to people at your club and see who else has unwanted items and if there are a few of you can sell raffle tickets.  This is a great way to benefit from your present and raise that much needed money for your club.
        1. Get Creative
        Ok, so you didn’t get what you wanted but that doesn’t mean you can’t have what you wanted. By being creative you can turn that unwanted woolly jumper into a nice warm scarf and you also get the enjoyment out of the process.

        This article was written in association with The Rug House, the supplier of ethically produced rugs for sale and a strong supporter of recycling. 

        Monday, January 3, 2011

        Top 10 Moments of 2010:

        I have decided to reflect on the year 2010. I have come to realize that we had many blessings and opportunities during that year. We had our ups and downs, but most importantly we had a very successful, happy, and healthy year.

        Here are our Top 10 Moments of 2010:
        1. Even though this technically was not 2010, I decided that it was what actually started off our New Year. Knowing that Mr. Man would be deploying, we had anticipated a boring Christmas or no Christmas at all. However, that changed when we got our wonderful snow days! This was the first time that Mr. Man had actually saw this much snow, and it was our first snow as a family.

        2. We survived our second deployment as a family. As most of you know, Mr. Man left at the end of December 2009 to Afghanistan. He arrived back here in England with me and our boy in May 2010. During those months, Mr. Man worked long hours, went to the gym, and took college classes. I doubled up on school, traveled to local places with our boy, and also continued to work out.

        3. Once Mr. Man got home, we  began sightseeing and planning some trips. Our biggest trip was traveling Italy for 2 weeks for our anniversary. We went to Rome, Milan, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Verona, and Siena.

         4. Italy was our gift for our 4 year anniversary. The traditional gift, which Mr. Man and I stick to, was fruit. We decided it would be awesome to have fruit in another country. Since we both really wanted to go to Italy, that is exactly what we did. Another great moment of 2010 was celebrating our 4th anniversary.

        5. In August, we found out we were pregnant. August 11, 2010 to be exact. After trying for over a year and a half, you can about imagine how surprised and happy we were to hear the news. Not only were we finally pregnant, we conceived on our anniversary.

         6. In August/September, Mr. Man went on a TDY. He went to California for some training. But when he got back, we scheduled a trip to Wales. This was in October. I was 16-ish weeks pregnant and determined to climb Snow in the Snowdonia National Park. That is exactly what we did. While we were there, we saw one of the largest natural waterfalls, other waterfalls, plenty of wildlife, and hiked and hiked and hiked until our feet were about to fall off.

        7. When we got back from Wales, it was time for Halloween. I have always wanted to be pregnant during Halloween so Mr. Man could paint my belly.

        8. When November rolled around, we went to Ireland for Thanksgiving.

        9. When we got back from Ireland, we decided we did want to know what the sex of the baby was so we scheduled a gender ultrasound with some of the most awesome people in the world. We found out that we are having a little girl!

        10. By December, we thought we would be heading to Scotland for a long road trip. But the weather decided to go against our wishes. However, that did not stop us from having a good holiday season. I graduated from Axia College (University of Phoenix) with my Associate's, and we celebrated Christmas Louisiana Style.

        Now, to find out what I would like to achieve in the year 2011. There is so much I would love to do, so much to see, and so much to wish for.

        I hope everyone had a fabulous 2010, and can look back with no regrets. I wish everyone the best with this new year!