Sunday, December 30, 2012

Recipe: Beef Vegetable Soup

I have tried so many different types and styles of beef vegetable soups. I grew up eating a version that my Mom made, and Mr. Man grew up eating a version that his Mom made him. Both of our parents made them differently. Not by much, but enough to tell a difference. Mr. Man preferred his Mom's while I preferred my Mom's. In order to find something that we both loved about the version we cooked, I had to do some testing and changes to make it "our's". Here is what it has become. 

Beef Vegetable Soup

1-1.5 beef stew meat
2 qts. water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 onion - chopped
6 peeled potatoes - chopped
1-1/2 tsp parsley flakes
salt to taste 
1(2lbs) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 (8oz) tomato sauce

Brown stew meat in dutch oven. 
Add onion, water, bouillon cubes to the pot and simmer for 2 hours. 
Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another hour. 
Add water as needed. 

You can serve this with crackers, cornbread, bread sticks, or rice. 

Leftover soup may be heated and served again. It only gets better! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tips on Increasing Your Breast Milk Supply

Ok, so I know this is a controversial topic; however, this is something that is important to me. I nursed A until she self-weaned around 13 months. I plan to do the same with Baby E. Since we had weight gaining concerns with A, I thought I would get a jump start on writing, reading, and discussing ways to increase my breast milk supply. There are many things I learned that I definitely didn't know before she was born. Many of them helped me. There are also things that I did in the beginning (or lack of doing) that I will change. I thought a simple reminder post for when/if these moments hit would be a great support and help during that time. 

One of the things I will do differently this time is start pumping sooner and more consistently. With A, I never had to return to work and the small amount of work that I did I was able to pick and choose when I did it. So I never had to worry over it. By the time I started doing this work, A was already on solids and about 7 months old. By this time, preparing a supply of breastmilk in the freezer wasn't going to happen. Not at a fast and steady rate. She was already nursing much less, sleeping through the night, and I was enjoying the sleep. So this go around, I plan to start pumping immediately - even if I am not getting anything right away. It will help me build and maintain a schedule so when I have to return to work in November for 16 weeks full time (and baby will be 9 months), I will have a good supply and a steady pumping routine - hopefully. 

It is known that breastfeeding is hard and it takes work to have to build a supply if you need to return to work or leave your baby with someone for several hours a week. With pumping, it is not as effective as the baby actually latching on to you during skin to skin. A pump can not successfully empty your boobs like a baby can. With that said, there are some tips and advice that I have been given that can help you maintain a healthy flow of breast milk. 

Here are some natural ways to build your milk supply: 
* Many of these can also be used even if you need a boost for skin to skin nursing.

1. Water. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated while nursing is an important factor. I was advised to sit down with a glass of water every single time I nursed to guarantee that I was drinking enough. I definitely saw a difference. I thought I was drinking enough before because I always had a water bottle full with me but I guess I wasn't going through it fast enough. Rule of thumb - drink more water! 

2. Eat. Now I know this one sounds silly and it was natural for me with A. I was always hungry - actually more so than when I was pregnant. But I learned quickly that dieting and even exercising can decrease your milk supply. Make sure you are eating healthy calories and often enough. 

3. Oats. This is one that I discovered after some research when we started having the "weight gaining concerns". The lactation consultant told me to eat oatmeal every morning and see if I saw a difference. I definitely DID! Oatmeal isn't the only way, oat based granola bars would work, too. There is even a recipe for special oatmeal cookies that are called Lactation Cookies! Want the recipe? 

4. Skin to Skin. Spending extra time just cuddling your baby while topless and baby is naked is a great way to help boost your supply. It reminds your body that it has a baby to feed! 

5. Pump. Pumping has been proven to help boost milk supply even when it is unnecessary for one to pump. Try pumping for 10-15 minutes after every feed or try pumping in between feeding sessions.

6. Fenugreek. Fenugreek is a natural herb supplement that has been known to help boost a mother's milk supply. This is another one that I did and I noticed an immediate difference. I will leave you with a few links to what it is and how it helps. Check out, Medela, and Breastfeeding Online.

7. Eat plenty of these: Asparagus, Green beans, Carrots (especially carrot seeds), Yam, Watercress, Sweet potatoes, Dandelion greens, Peas, Beet and all other green leafy vegetables. Parsley, fennel, and sesame seed. Millet, barley, brown rice and all other grains and legumes. Oatmeal. Garlic, onion and ginger.

8. Nurse in bed. Lying down in bed may help you relax and allows baby to nurse for longer periods of time. 

9. Mother's Milk Tea. Try drinking mother's milk tea. It is full of natural supplements to help boost your breast milk supply. I did try this with A, and I found it absolutely gross to drink. However, I would heat apple juice instead of water and it was much, much better.

I wish I could think of a 10th one because I really hate odd numbers; however, I think I have covered most of what I have learned throughout my first journey of breastfeeding. The only other tip that I have been mentioned is ask for a prescription of Reglan, but I know nothing about it and have not tried it myself.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Today I thought I would blog about the Christmas traditions that I am starting and hoping have a big impact on our family so we can carry them on throughout the years.

A is 20 months old, so she is starting to get to the age where is understanding things a bit more.

Right now, we are just going with the flow. We brought her to see Santa, and it was a fail this year. No Santa picture. She wasn't scared of him. In fact, she was extremely curious. However, she didn't want him holding her. My thing is as long as she isn't scared of him I'm happy. She walked up to him, shook his hand, and talked to him. But just didn't want to sit on his lap. Fine by me.

We don't really thought much about Santa in this house. Probably because she is still a bit young. Mr. Man didn't grow up with Santa or even gifts, and I grew up with it all. With that said, I really didn't want her to have huge Christmas's and it be about the gifts. But I definitely didn't want her to not have anything at all because I know at some point she will start learning from other kids and seeing what they receive and so on and so forth. We decided to meet in the middle. I have a few simple rules that I follow that I started last year.

Since our families spoil her with Christmas, we DO take that into consideration. 1 -  because they are mailed to us and placed under the tree for Christmas day and 2 - I personally do not feel a child needs a new playroom every single Christmas.

This year my Mom and Grandma bought her some things as well as Mr. Man's Dad and Grandma. I'm sure others have bought as well, but none have told us anything or what they got. We just go by what we know.

With that said, my rules are simple. Each child gets an outfit or two, a movie or two, a book or two, educational toys, something they "need", and one large gift. We definitely stuck with that, but my Mom bought her about 5 or more (she lost track) of DVD's. We pulled that thought from our list and bought her something she would want. We got her a bath time baby doll.

She's definitely getting a lot of things, and most are not from us! How pathetic. As bad as I feel about it as her parents, I really can't justify doing it without getting rid of some other toys. I figured this year was our year to relax because next year we will have two and she will REALLY understand. We bought her 3-4 gifts and stocking stuffers, that's it.

One of the new traditions is a Christmas Eve gift to open. Since we aren't close to family, we have decided that we need to do our own tradition to bring in the next day. I have decided to do one large gift for the whole family. Each year it will be different. Last year, I bought a few Christmas movies and the original Christmas story book. This year that book along with one Christmas movie will be placed in the gift, along with Christmas PJ's for the whole family, and a hot cocoa set. Yes, A is probably too young for a hot cocoa set but we have been letting her have it. She takes a few sips and is done, so I don't see any harm in it. I bought her a special penguin cup for her hot cocoa and a cup for me and Mr. Man. Next year, I will probably do a game of some sort or something that the family can do together to have family time and fun on Christmas Eve. I will rotate it out so every year is different.

Another tradition I am going to start with her next year, since she should be old enough by then, is to fill a bucket with 25 gifts or envelops. Each day we will schedule a Christmas-y activity to lead up to Christmas. Maybe it will be a book or a movie, maybe a simple note that says "donate toys" or "make a snowflake ornament" and so on. I think that will be fun to do!

Mr. Man and I have always donated to a variety of angel trees and Toys for Tots. Last year, A was really too young but we still walked her around the trees and she chose the tags for us to buy for. This year I chose two tags (one around her age and one infant). I talked to her about children in need and buying/giving to others. Then I brought her to the toy section of the store and told her to pick out a toy for a girl that is similar to her. She picked out a really cute "My Little Pony" horse that is also a baby. It has a pacifier, bottle, and you can teach it to walk. Ironically, we also bought that for her to help teach her about things for Baby E and taking care of babies. Then, we told her to pick out something that she thought that "new baby" would like to give to another baby. We went to the infant section and she picked out a couple of small toys - one was a bath toy (Minnie Mouse squirters) and the other was Lamaze attachment toy. Mr. Man and I also did older children, both boys to even out the gender choices. Even though A is really to young to understand this right now, it has to start somewhere. And I believe that the more we do this with her and explain to her, the sooner she will get it and be more giving.

With that said, these are our family traditions so far. I will start baking with her this year, too, and I also let her wrap her father's present. Other than that, we keep it pretty simple.

I would love to hear other people's traditions and their thoughts on Christmas. How it is handled, when they celebrate, what they cook/bake, and so on. I really enjoy this time of year!

Hope everyone has a great day!

Oh, almost forgot. I am also linked up today at Wednesday Walkabout! Come check it out!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Meal Plan {December 17-30}

Here is our meal plan for the next two weeks!

Chicken Asparagus Roll Ups
Beef Vegetable Soup
Ham and Pea Pasta
Shrimp Scampi
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Parmesan
Meatball Stew
Tuna Spaghetti
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (for Christmas day)
Baked Chicken
Chicken Florentine Lasagna
Turkey Burgers
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Smothered Chicken

I added two extra meals to this week because my weeks have been ending on Fridays so I am trying to get them through the weekends and back to Monday's. I really hate having to shop on the weekends, even though I have my husband available to watch A. So that is why there is more than 14 meals on this list.

For snacks, lunches, and breakfasts for me and A, I plan two a week. Normally we are able to eat leftovers also. For breakfast, I always have oatmeal and fruit handy, yogurt and fruit, and so on because we also eat those as snacks.

For breakfast I planned:
Blueberry Pancakes (make in large batch and freeze)
Raspberry Lemon Muffins

For snacks I planned:
Frozen yogurt with fruit
Carrot Chips

Breakfast and Snacks always roll over into the next week because I make large batches to keep in the freezer, so we always have the option of the previous week's snacks and breakfasts as well as our everyday quick snacks (like crackers and cheese, chex, cheerios, raisins, etc) and breakfasts (like fruit and oatmeal, fruit and yogurt, toast with peanut butter and banana, etc).

For lunch this week I planned:
Miniature Pizzas
Tuna with Crackers

There are some weeks that I actually don't even have to make us a lunch, so I do something I can either make and freeze (last week I made a pasta) or something that can hang out in the pantry for a bit (like this week's crackers and tuna).

As you can see, we are a family that loves tuna. It's something that was just recognized when A always asked for fish when she was hungry. Mr. Man always ate tuna fish as a snack when he got home from work, and that is how she was introduced to it. I also really enjoy tuna fish. I have been making tuna salad and leaving it in the fridge for a few days so it is already made and ready to go. I only make it when I KNOW we will eat it. Mr. Man switches between tuna and peanut butter, so I really try to watch how he is eating and take note from there.

This week is also the week that I have all the baking going on. I ended up adding one or two more to my list.

I spent $260 for this week, and I was impressed considering I planned five or six baked goods and doubled their recipes! I really thought I would spend around $300-$315.

Monday, December 17, 2012

33 Weeks Pregnant

I am 33 weeks pregnant with baby #2. Time has flown by so fast. I can't believe that we are so close to delivering our second child. It is just now starting to feel real. Real as in - "we are about to do this again!" Exciting, anxious, and so on.

Lately I have been feeling good for the most part. Some days my crotch is super sore; other days I don't notice it and am very energetic. I definitely do not remember my crotch being sore with A, but I also didn't carry her as low as I have this one. I have also heard that it is very common for that to happen the more children you have. My hips seem to be holding up very well considering she loves to ball up in my right hip. Every once in a while it will get sore or pop or something crazy like that, but overall it hasn't been bad. Again, I don't remember having any hip pain with A. Then there is the lower back pain. With A, my dull aches were in my ribs where she like to hang out, but they never slowed me down - NEVER! I wish I could say the aches with this one is the same; however, they definitely aren't. Even though I am not having rib pain, I am having lower back pain. Again, never had this with A. The back pain comes and goes as everything else, but when it hits it hurts! It will knock me to the couch for a good hour of relaxing before I can do more things.

I think a lot of the aches and pains are for a variety of reasons. 1 - I'm still carrying A around - up and down stairs, in and out of stores, and so on. 2 - This baby has been much lower throughout this whole pregnancy. Much much lower. 3 - Simply that it isn't my first. I hear the more you have, the more intense you feel things.

I haven't complained much about things, but when we have a long day out and about (like this weekend) I will get weak and sometimes nauseated. The nausea is something that just recently started. When I was pregnant with A, many people told me that they got nauseated from 33 weeks on from over exhaustion and so forth. With A, I never experienced it. With this one, it has started. Again, it's only when I really do too much which does take a lot.

The next thing I have noticed recently is the pace at which I walk. I walk slow, very slow. Compared to when I was pregnant with A anyways. Yesterday we went out shopping and I just felt like this baby was pushing down to come out and rubbing against my hip bones. It was horrible. Of course it caused me to walk extremely slow.

I had my 32 week appointment last week. The heartbeat was around 140 and baby was measuring in the 53rd percentile. She is head down and very active! As of that appointment, I have gained around 17-18 pounds this pregnancy. I had doubled that by this time with A.

That's the fun updates. Nothing overly exciting - other than it's really starting to get really close. It's real now.

I've been preparing for my maternity pictures and the newborn pictures. Her room still isn't complete, but I am slowly working on it. Other than that, things are going good and we can't wait to meet her!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Children's Place

Yesterday I noticed that The Children's Place was having an amazing sale, so I decided to stock up on some things for A! We were hoodies around the house, and she really doesn't have very many long sleeve tops. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to build her closet for the rest of the winter and into spring time.  I thought I would share this because I got some amazing steals! And today's deal is even better.

To start with, they were having a major sale. Prices I wouldn't mind paying anyway. Then they were offering an additional 25% off with a code. Most of the deals averaged to about 60-70% savings. Today they are offering an additional 30% off!! with a code. I will share below, but it is also listed on their home page.

Here is some of what I bought for A and I did snatch a couple of things for Baby E, too!

This is what I bought for A. She needed some bigger size knit pants. Right now she is still wearing 18 months and they fit her fine,  but I think she will  be growing out of them soon. Then I bought the ruffled turtleneck to go under her adorable sleeveless jumpers. I wish they would have had more colors because I would have snatched more up. The blue jeans are the next size up. I love Old Navy jeans as well as these. She has plenty of jeans in 24 months, so I snatched these up for $7 each in a 2t! Some graphic long sleeve tees. This year I didn't buy her any Christmas-y clothes. I thought why not even though she will probably have them AFTER Christmas. They will be great around the house shirts or when I know she will be in her snowsuit or a jacket. The fleece hoodies were a steal for $5 each. We wear hoodies around the house because there is no carpet. It's an Italian thing. She has one hoodie right now, so I went ahead and got her two more. They can be worn outside the house as well as inside. So that covers everything I got for A. I had just bought a bunch of Carter's PJ's and Gymboree jumpers and dresses so I think t his will complete her until the Summer. Everything I bought was a mix of 24 months and 2t.

Now for Baby E. I didn't buy much for her because I have a hard time paying $6 for a onesie, so I just looked at the bigger ticket items, like jackets and bunting suits. Here they are:

The faux fur bunting was an absolute steal. I was hoping they would have had it in 0-3 months as I need one for when she is immediately born, but they were sold out. I went ahead and got a 9-12 month for next year. Regular price was $26, on sale for $16, with the additional off I got it for $12! I thought it was totally worth it. The fleece hoodie was $4, which I thought was another steal. Even though it is more Christmas-y, I thought they colors were ok for Valentine's day and possible through the spring. We will see!

Shipping was free for orders over $75. I placed this order yesterday with all sale items and an additional 25% off. My total was $90!! I couldn't believe it.

Today they are having their sale with an additional 30% if you use the code Y3K3012!

Happy Shopping (or browsing)!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

All Natural - Homemade Items

A while back I had posted about some things that I found and my journey through discovering different things that come with making basic needs for our homes as well as some things that we use to cook with. I had gotten some nasty comments and "know-it-all"- ish remarks so I stopped it. However, I was still planning and doing them as I ran out of things and felt I could.

Recently I had some personal friends ask me about it and how it was going. I informed them on what I had learned and what I thought was nice and not worth with each of what I tried. Then I moved. When I finally got connected with the internet and started going through my emails for this page, I realized I had some viewers that were actually really interested. They still wanted updates on the cloth diapering and the other things.

With that said, I decided I would start sharing with you my journey of it all. Some things were a fail or not worth it because of where we live but others have been extremely fantastic.

This is just an introduction to start it back up. Over time I will post some recipes, pictures, and thoughts on different things from homemade spices to homemade cleaners and more.

If this is something that doesn't interest you, I kindly ask that you skip past these posts. There is no need to make rude or negative remarks.

I look forward to starting this up again!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Now that we have our house and are settled in, I started doing some small projects around the house that I knew I wanted to do for the playroom, decor for the holidays, and for the girls' rooms.

I also had several comments asking about things I will be making for the holiday parties, events, and our own traditions. I thought I would do it all in one post.  Organize my list of "to-do's" then show the finished product of each.

DIY Projects (Decor):

For the Playroom:
Stuff Animal Hammock - DONE
2 Artwork Displays (one for each child) - A's DONE, working on E's.

For the Girls' Room:
A a baby doll hammock in her play corner - DONE
Baby E stuff animal hammock
Tulle Pom Poms
Baby E bunting
Baby E picture frame
Garland - MAYBE

Christmas Decor:
Posterboard Trees x2
Initial Tree topper
Family Thumb prints

Children's Holiday Party:
Mini Chicken Pot Pies
Mini Cheeseburger Pies

Airman Cookie Drive:
Peppermint Crunch Brownie Cookies
Cranberry Noels
Peanut Butter Cookies
Neiman Marcus Cookies

For SF workers on Christmas Day:
Christmas Tree Brownies
Pumpkin Bread Muffins
Cherry Chocolate Cookies

If there are any recipes that you would like me to share from these, please let me know. 

I plan to post pictures of the finished projects of the decor stuff as well. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ice Pumpkin Cookies

During the Fall and Winter months it seems that I am always baking for different events, whether they are parties, cookie drives, or other volunteer opportunities, it seems I bake a lot. Each year I like to try new things, but I also have my favorites that end up carrying over every year. The last several years I made the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I'm pretty sure I posted that recipe at some point because it is absolutely amazing.

This year, because we still did not have internet (recipes are shared/saved on pinterest), I started fresh. I used recipes from cookbooks in the house and magazines.

This one was a hit! I made it for the Thanksgiving Feast for Mr. Man's work.

Here's the recipe!

For the cookies:
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups white sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:
2 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tbsp of milk
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
Set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and softened  butter.
Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract to that mixture.
Beat until creamy.
Slowly mix in the dry ingredients.
Drop on cookie sheet in 1 inch balls, flatten slightly.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Cool the cookies before adding the icing.

To make the glaze:
Combine confectioner's sugar, milk, butter and vanilla extract.
Milk may need to be added as necessary to achieve the drizzling consistency.

This recipe came from one of my Parent's magazines. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Hope you enjoy! I know many others did! 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Meal Plan

Now that we are moved and settled I thought I could start getting back to sharing our meal plan. Since we live so far from base, I have decided that I will shop for 2 weeks at a time and utilize local markets and bakerys for things we need last minute. Today I shopped for the next two weeks so I can tell you  how much I spent exactly. The only thing is that this trip and the next couple will be filled of things for parties and such as well. That's what happens around the holidays, right? After today, I figured by doing it this way (I had been doing weekly before this week) I saved about $50-$80 if not more - easily.

Now that A eats with us, I have gone as far as to plan breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. It just seems to be the easiest and helps us save money. If any of you are interested in the breakfast, lunch, and snack planning then I would be happy to share. Just let me know!

I will list our meals this week, then next week I will share one of the recipes if there is any requests.

Our meals for the next two weeks:

Week 1:
Chicken Soft Tacos
Red Beans and Rice with Sausage
Italian Steaks
Boiled Whole Chicken
Shrimp Skewers
Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs
Baked Chex Chicken

Week 2:
Beef Strganoff
Stewed Chicken with Rice
Tuna Stuffed Bell Peppers
Swedish Meatballs with Pasta
Mustard Chicken
Butter Beans with Sausage over Rice
Oven Roast

I spent $200 for this trip. I bought the basics along with this, which include our "fancy" weekend breakfasts along with planned breakfast, lunches, and snacks. This was also my first trip doing this, so I had bought in bulk to stock the pantry of things like wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and other things we use frequently in the house.

This trip also included groceries for a holiday party where I am bringing mini chicken pot pies and mini cheeseburger pies. I bought enough to make 48 of each.

Hope you enjoyed this post, and I am happy to get back to doing this. I love seeing what I spend and how we eat throughout the weeks.

Any recipes for any recipes mentioned here, please just comment and I will post!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Memories: Bad Weather

This morning we had an awful thunderstorm. It was lightning real bad and we could see it through our shutters even though they were closed. The thunder was extremely loud. It has been a long time since Wiley and I experienced something like that since England doesn't have much of that. Arianna slept all night until this started happening, which was about 4:50am. Wiley was awake getting ready for w
ork, so when she woke up I just brought her to our room with me. We laid there while we watched and listened. The lights even went out. The funny part was that every time it would lightning, Arianna knew the thunder was coming right after. She would start giggling then would bury her head in my armpit with her bum in the air. I really do think it scared her even though she would laugh about it. She went back to sleep once it calmed down a few minutes later. When she woke up at 9:20am, I had coughed. She thought it was thunder. She did the exact same thing - giggled and buried her head in my armpit with her butt in the air. It was so funny. I couldn't stop laughing, but I tried to explain to her that it was me coughing and not the bad weather. Then she pops her little head up and says, "OH!" like she realized it was me and not the weather. Things like this is what makes being a Mommy so amazing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A's Favorite Books {19 Months}

A loves to read. I wish I would have started doing this sooner, so I plan on back tracking through her favorite books during different stages of her development.

I will start with what her favorites are right now, then go back and post on ones at different ages to keep for reference with the new baby to see the differences and the similarities.

I always read to A from the time she was born. Every night before bed, I would read her a short story. As she got older, she started playing with the books. Then when she was old enough, she started bringing the books to me. Sometimes she would sit and let me read to her, but other times she was just bringing them to me for the sake of bringing them to me. I think they go through different stages and I believe every child at some point and time become very curious about books as long as they are within their reach and in their life.

Now that A is much older, she is loving her books. She will flip through the pages herself and just look at the pictures or she will bring them to me or Mr. Man to read to her. I love to watch her pick out a book because it shows what she is interested in that point and time.

Here are her most "go to" book right now.

"Where is Baby's Belly Button" by Karen Kate
This book is such a good book. At first A was not interested in this book. It is a lift the flap book so I thought she would be in to it earlier than she was. When she was 18 months, she recognized this book and always brought it to us. It caught her eye because it had a baby on it and she is really into babies. She has been knowing most of her body parts since she was about 15 months old. The basics like - ears, nose, mouth, fingers, toes, hair, tummy, heart, teeth and so on. But this book helped her to recognize her body parts as a whole and introduced her to her belly button. She now knows her hands, feet, and so on. She understands that her belly button is a part of her tummy.

"I took the Moon for a Walk Last Night" by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay from Barefoot Books
This is the first larger book that A has become interested in and will actually sit and listen to the whole thing. I really love Barefoot Books. I have bought a lot of books, and I have bought from several different publishers. Nothing will top the originals, but for more modern yet classy books every parent should check out Barefoot Books. This book is a story about a little boy who takes the moon for a walk before bed. It talks about where they go, what they see, and what they do together.

"I Wish I were a Pilot" by Stella Haskamp
This book is also by Barefoot Books. It is about becoming different things in life from a pilot to a race car driver to a cowboy and more. This book has been a favorite of A's for a few months now. It's small and a board book, but it is also interesting and big... grows well with them. A really loves transportation things, like cars, bikes, boats, etc. This book includes all that. The end of the book also shows all the things they discuss in the book. This is the first book where I tested her by asking her where each thing was and she surprised me by pointing every single one of them out. The weird thing about it is that they do not use the words for the pictures in the actual book. For example, it talks about traveling on sea. It shows a picture of a boat, but it doesn't actually say the word boat yet she knew it was a boat and found it in the last page.

"Eight Silly Monkeys" 
This book is the story of the monkeys jumping on the bed. It's not just about jumping on the bed. It uses eating, tumbling, dancing, and so on. It has a variety of versions, like with lady bugs instead of monkeys. We were given the monkey version and A loves monkeys. She also loves the song so this has also been a favorite. It introduces her to numbers, too.

"Are You My Mother?" by P.D. Eastman
This book is her second book that is larger that she will sit through. It is also a hard back with regular pages. Not a board book. It is much longer than "I Took the Moon for a Walk Last Night". She loves it because of the bird and talking about his mother. I am surprised with this book because I really thought this would be one when she was much, much older. Again, it was a gift.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Internet and Settled

We have finally settled into our house. We have been settled for about a month; however, we have been without internet. The Italians definitely take their sweet time with doing things that need to be done. I have felt so lost the last month without internet. No way to find addresses to go sightseeing or to find places to shop for things we would like for the house and so on. It's been very weird.

However, I must say that it has also been relaxing. I have not had to worry about drama or the randomness that life sometimes tosses out at you. We have been able to enjoy being a family and doing outdoor things. Mr. Man would come home every day and play with the baby while I cook, then we would watch a movie together.

Speaking of... A is really into Mickey Mouse (which she calls "Mouse"), Elmo, and Shrek (which she says "Ek"). She can spot any of these from a mile away in a store or wherever we are. She was introduced to Mickey Mouse and Shrek through some books she has, so then I introduced her to the shows since my Mom had gotten her some for Christmas last year. Then Mr. Man introduced her to Shrek. She has watched a lot of Disney and kid movies over the last month. She's not big into the TV though, but when she wants to cuddle that is what she goes for.

I have a list of things that I want to write about here to keep as a keepsake. From our travels to things that A has been doing to how we spent our Thanksgiving and more. The list is really long, and I am not sure I will ever catch up without having to post multiple times a day, so I apologize in advance. Hopefully I can get some pictures up soon of the growing pouch and the A.

Pregnancy is also going really well. I had my 28 week appointment and we discussed the 22 week scan. They found a spot on the heart, so they ask that I do another scan to see if it is still there. I guess it is a common thing, but normally fades away by 28 weeks. I have that appointment in a week. Then my 32 week appointment and so on. Sugar test went well. I had fruit punch flavored drink this time, and it was awful. With A, I had the orange and I actually enjoyed it. Weird. Other than that things are good, and we are finally getting settled and starting to feel normal again. This has definitely been one of the longest, most exhausting PCS's of life. Of course, I have only moved 3 times..... with many more to go - I'm sure.

So here's to updating. Hope it isn't too much for any of you! And I can't wait to start catching up with everyone else!! :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I thought that if I was going to share our journey through moving, decorating, and organizing our new home then I should probably have a more organized plan instead of jumping around so much.

My plan is to share before and after pictures of each room.

I will always link any additional posts on the house through the posts  so you can reflect if there is more than one parts. I know the two girls' rooms, playroom, and craft room will have multiple parts as there is a lot I want to do to them.

I will start out by sharing you the amount of rooms to get an idea of how it will flow.

I plan to do the basic parts of the house first, then start the official decorating in A's room, then the playroom, then Baby E's room.

The layout of our house has these rooms:


Entry Way
Living Room
Dining Room/Kitchen #1
Baby E's Room
A's Room
-- First thoughts and ideas
Parent's Room
Bathroom #1


Kitchen #2
Laundry Room (probably no post on this)
Extra Room #1/Bathroom #2 - used as a "dressing room"
Extra Room #2 - used as an office/playroom
Extra Room #3 - used as a craft room/pantry/storage
Downstairs Entry (not sure about a post on this)

So of course, I started with some basic ideas for A's room, so I linked it above. I will do the same for each room as I do this.

We officially move in on Monday, so I may not have internet for a bit. During that time I will be working in the house and taking pictures/videos along the way! :)

Soon I will have another series started on our preparation for the holidays. This will mostly be focused on Christmas, but I may do something for Thanksgiving as well. This will be more for A in understanding and enjoying this holiday season!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Inspiration for A's Big Girl Room

So I wanted to do a progress series of our new house. I did a preview video of the house - a basic walk through  once we decided on the house. There were still things in it from the landlord and it was somewhat of a mess, but it was worth it. We showed it to our family and close friends and shared our ideas of what we visioned the house to look like.

There are two large bedrooms. One is the master bedroom that does not have wardrobes in it. In Italy, the houses do not have built in closets. Instead they use wardrobes. The other bedroom, which is meant for a child does have two large wardrobes. One of them is for hanging clothes and the other is shelves for folding and organizing.

Of course, no doubt we thought the master bedroom would be ours because we have a lot of bedroom furniture. Well, Baby A actually has just as much now that she has a big girl bed. Her bed is smaller, but her end table, chest of drawers, and long drawers with mirror are just as big as ours or bigger. We decided that since the two babies will have little hang up clothes that she can have the one with no wardrobe and we can hang up her clothes elsewhere. There are tons of options for this.

As soon as I knew she would be getting a big girl bedroom set, I began searching for bedding. Her bed is a twin size bed, so I went through so many different websites to find the perfect one. I knew I wanted something with paisley or damask. I found the perfect paisley set at Pottery Barn Kids.

The bedding is absolutely perfect. It fits her personality perfectly. She's soft, laid back, independent, and easy going. I knew I didn't want any characters or animals or anything like that because I wanted to make her feel big and grown up. But I also want to keep the room fun and exciting. After all, she is still a toddler.

I will get to the inspiration parts of it at the end of this post. What I wish I could do, what will most likely be done, and so forth. Right now, it's a guessing game until we actually get our things in there and set up.

I decided nothing hanging on the walls or as little as possible. I knew I wanted it to be elegant and classy - but still fun.

I thought over her bed I would put her name. I found 4 wall decals that I really like, and I am still having a hard time deciding which one I prefer. Any suggestions? Here they are:

A little backdrop on these. Before I knew we were having another girl, I decided that A's room would be very elegant and classy. I thought I would incorporate the damask wall decals in order to achieve that. However, after researching options for Baby E's room I decided that she will have the damask theme. I have pulled the damask wall decals out to save for her room for options. So 1, 2, or 3? I have them listed in the order that I like them, but I need more opinions!

I plan on having two canvas's hanging on each side. One of her newborn picture, then we will get another with her two year pictures.

Next comes the thought of a girly, yet "grown up" quote for her room. I thought I would put this over her vanity if I ever got her one, or just on a blank wall. Here are some that I found:

I originally really, really, really liked the first one. I was in love with it. But then I felt like it may be too much and too big. So I went back on the hunt for another one, and I felt the second one fit more of A's style since she is her own little girl. So tom-boyish, yet so girly. A good mix of both and still beautiful. Again, undecided.

These are the more specifics that I have for A's room. I plan on taking pictures before and after it is set up to share. The rest of my thoughts and decor will be done in a combine post for both of the girls' room (A and Baby E).  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall Inspiration {Tutus}

As most of you know, I recently started up a page for all my creations. I have come across some adorable thoughts, so to google I go for images. I rarely use someone else's tutorial because I like to look at the pictures and get inspired with my own creativity and call it mine.

With Fall here and Halloween soon arriving, everything is covered in the fall colors, flowers, scents, and so forth. With that, I have thought of some adorable ideas for tutus (and other DIY's). I thought I would share some of the pictures here.

This post will be of things I could see putting Baby A or any other adorable little girl in for a pumpkin patch or fall pictures. I'll do another one of costumes I have thought of.

All pictures were found from google.




Candy Corns:

Fall Colors:

I can't wait to get moved in so I can start making more things!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Baby A is a Big Girl:

Once we found out we were pregnant again, we knew we needed to start working on transitioning Baby A to a big girl bed. A big girl bed and a new sibling meant it was time for her to become a big girl - on her own time of course.

Through all this transitioning with the PCS, she has naturally settled into new ways. All for the best, too. She sleeps in large beds without railings (pillows stuffed around her) and all by herself. She's always slept by herself, but never in a big bed by herself. She decided she was too big for the bottle and now only drinks from a sippy cup. Then she began starting to only lay down on the side of us to fall asleep instead of having to be rocked.

All of this was so wonderful because -
1. It was time for her to give up the crib. I never planned on moving her out so early, but I did plan on having a baby again this soon. After we thought about it, I had decided that I really didn't want two cribs in the house with Baby A being so close to two years old when this baby is born. With that said, we invested in her a new bedroom set before we PCS'd so we would have it to set up for her in her new room in our new house.

2. I never thought about weaning her off a bottle. She never took a bottle her first year since I nursed her until she weaned. When she weaned, we started giving her cow's milk. I thought it was normal for children to take a bottle until they were 2. I know some babies who never take bottles because they are never interested and some who take a bottle until they are 3. Once I got pregnant, I knew it would be nice to have her off the bottle but I wasn't going to push it. Especially with all the new transitions and moving. It was just easier to give her what she knew rather than try and take it away when there was so much going on. Well while we were home on vacation, she decided she just didn't need it anymore. One day she stopped taking it and never went back.

3. She use to always be rocked to sleep. I always had my recliner in her bedroom because it was where I nursed. It was nice and convenient since I never had her in our room with us except for the first week and a half when she was born. It was nice because I could fall asleep with her when I needed and sleep with her in her own room if I wanted. It was great. I knew I needed to put the recliner in the new baby's room. So during our time traveling and moving, we were without a recliner in her room. With that said, she has now learned to just lay down and fall asleep. I never ever thought it would happen this soon.

So here we are with moving her up into being a big sister. Not because we forced it on her, but because one day she just decided herself. Now she is interested in the toilet and has sat on it several times since we have arrived here in Italy. Of course, I never dreamed she would be potty trained before 2 so I am definitely not pushing it. She lets us know when she wants to sit on the potty and that is that. Some days she is more interested than others... and some days she isn't interested at all.

Next we can move on to the inspiration and ideas of her new big girl room!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ultrasound Confirms....

It's a Girl!!

While we were home, we did an ultrasound so our families could be involved in this pregnancy. I surprised both of our parents with an appointment for an ultrasound. We went to the ultrasound, and I was about 15 weeks pregnant. The lady who did the ultrasound said she was about 85% sure it was a girl, but she said with the way the baby was positioned we may want to double check later on. Since I knew I would have another scan for the anatomy, I was ok with that. We chose our name and announced it.

Here we are 6 weeks later, and the anatomy scan confirmed it is indeed a girl! She does already have a name, and it looks like she will now become Baby E! Would anyone like to do a name guessing game? I could give a $20 gift card to the winner. I would need to come up with hints or a rhyme to do this. Let me know!!

I'm not sure I ever told Baby A's name, so if I didn't then maybe I can do something for her's too!

I just wanted to make the official announcement. I will be doing posts on Baby A's big girl room inspiration and Baby E's nursey. As well as things of our new house and so on and so forth. I can't wait to get back into the swing of things!! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

20 Weeks Pregnant and In Italy

As most of you have noticed from the markets post (which was suppose to be a private post - oops!), we made it to Italy. We got here on September 15 and have been going nonstop since. Searching for a house, getting to know the area, in-processing, situating Mr. Buttons and Baby A.... it's all been a busy time for us.

Before we came here, we went home on COT leave. We went from England to Louisiana to England to drive to Italy. Our trip home was absolutely amazing. I hope to get some pictures up soon. Baby A got to meet all of her family, finally. Mr. Buttons had to stay in the kennels in England because if we would have brought him back to the states, he would have had to do the 6 months quarantine all over again. We had agreed that we wanted to avoid that at all costs.

Once we made it back to England, we had to pick up Buttons and get his health certificate. We had to prepare the car for the drive to Italy. The drive was about 17 hours.. just under 1,000 miles. We did it in 3 days with Baby A and Buttons. Both of them were amazing during the trip. Even I survived.

During all of this, the power steering in my car went out. We had planned on buying a new car when we got to Italy but since it happened sooner than expected we ended up buying a car in England and driving it to Italy while my car got fixed. Mr. Man will be going back for my car. We bought a 2013 Audi A4, which is what we wanted.

Once we arrived in Italy, it has been the normal with any military move. In processing, briefings, getting to know the area, finding a housing solution, and ... all the other normal things that come with moving.

We still have not found a house, but are looking at 3 very good possibles. It completely fits our desires and looks like the kids will have their own rooms, I will have a craft room, the parents will have an office, and the kids will have a playroom. I am COMPLETELY stoked about that. Hopefully we will officially have a house by tomorrow to call our's. However, there is a long process here in Italy to actually moving in, so we could be in a hotel for another month or so. Hopefully it flies by or goes quicker than expected. We've been living out of suitcases and (6) hotels the last 2 months.

On the pregnancy, I am already 20 weeks. I seriously can not believe that. It's been going by so quickly. Sometimes I don't feel like I have time to enjoy it, but then others I'm anxious to meet our little monster. More on the pregnancy when I have time. Things are good, everything looks great. Just normal, everyday pregnancy fun!

Until next time...
And yes, I'm trying to get back on a routine of blogging because there is so much to write about!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

PCS: Local Markets (Aviano)

The open air markets are held one day a week starting at around 0630 in the morning until about noon. They are usually located in the town square. Be aware that some markets are closed during national holidays.
Monday: Maniago, Azzano Decino, Vittorio Veneto and Lignano
Tuesday: Aviano, Casarsa, Udine, Codriopo and San Quirino
Wednesday: Pordenone, Budoia, San Daniele, Cordignano, Oderzo and Latisana
Thursday: Roveredo, Fontanafredda, Fiume Veneto, Sacile, and Portogruaro
Friday: Cordenons, Porcia, San Vito al Tagliamento, Montereale and Conegliano, Caneva
Saturday: Pordenone, Spilimbergo, Caorle and Treviso
Sunday: Meduno
Everyday: Trieste

Friday, July 27, 2012

12 Weeks Pregnant with C2

Today I am officially 12 weeks pregnant with Baby C2. To start from the beginning, we found out we were pregnant on June 5, 2012. At the time I was 5 weeks pregnant. I had to do the "New Parent briefing" again before I could get my first appointment date, so a week later I did that. Then two weeks after that "briefing" we had our first appointment with our first ultrasound. We took Baby A with us and at the time she had not mastered the word baby (Now, she definitely has!). She kept pointing to the screen saying, "Ba-ba, Ba-ba". It was beyond cute. Baby was measuring a tad smaller than we had expected, by 2 weeks just like with Baby A. They changed our due date from January 23 to February 7, 2013.

As far as symptoms, there is nothing really there other than some nausea here and there, exhaustion from chasing a toddler around all day, motion sickness when in a car, and a big ole round belly! Yesterday, I had a friend tell me I popped already. I can post a picture soon. I didn't have many symptoms with Baby A either. My biggest one was the smell of chicken, but this time it is not bothering me at all. I can tell that food tastes change from day to day, definitely. I always hated that. But other than that, it is pretty easy going and enjoyable (for now).

Baby A has been such a good sport. At first she started being really demanding and needy, which is SO unlike her. That is actually one of the reasons I decided to test. She got out of that after two weeks, and now she is so sweet about "new baby". She always wants to snuggle my belly. She gives it kisses. And she "tells secrets" with new baby all the time. She's a little sweetheart!

Next post will be about breastfeeding Baby A. I've had a few comments about that, and I never updated so I will do that one next!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thank you!

Thank you for all the congratulations and well wishes during this time of our lives. We are super excited, and everything just seems to be falling into place. I have been looking for houses and areas to live in. I have even started looking at Italian schools for Baby A. They won't accept her until she is 3 years old, but I thought I could never start too early. I only want her to go part time until she starts Kindergarten because, after all, I will continue to be a stay at home wife and mommy during our time in Italy.

I have also already started planning new trips. We have nothing set in stone, but we have a list of adventures that we would love to get through during our stay in Italy. After all, we never know where we will be sent next.

Thinking about all the fun things we have already done here really excited me to do even more.

Not sure if any of your remember back last October when we went to Wales. I was 15-16 weeks pregnant with Baby A, and we climbed Snowdon. It took us 8 hours, but we had such a fun time. Even the pup did it with us. Well, I have decided I wanted to do it again with this baby. So as soon as we get to Italy, we are on a hunt for a mountain to climb. We hear there are several in the area. We still haven't been able to take Baby A on a nice long hike. We have taken her to some small ones, like the one in Germany. But nothing large and super duper awesome! Our plan is to do just that.

We also found the largest amusement park. They say it's like the "Italian Disney". Not sure what that means exactly, but we thought we could take A there before the new baby arrives as her last big adventure as an only child.

We have less than 2 weeks until our house gets picked up, so that is what we have been spending our weekends and evenings working on. It's such an exciting time in our lives!

What did you get from this post? It was a rambler. See what happens when you don't blog for so long and feel like you need to catch up. Then you have no idea where to start with catching up and you get all overwhelmed and frustrated. Well, I'm not frustrated but I am overwhelmed because there is so  much I want to discuss! :)

Until next time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Busy And Announcement!

Life has obviously been super busy. I think it's time that I catch up on the everyday life adventures. Then I can (as I have time) go back and add the moments that I was hoping to do before these updates. This will be our last few months in a nutshell.

On April 5, 2012, Baby A turned 1 years old. Her party was fantastic, and my family was here to visit. They stayed for two weeks, and we went sightseeing and did all the fun stuff that we do while family is around. Once they left, life went back to normal.

Mr. Man works long hours with his new job. We had just gotten orders out of cycle (to Italy), so he was having to do the briefings and meetings and such to make it happen in such short notice.

Then came the time that we would find out if he made Tech or not. Just one week before finding out, we got some exciting news.

We ARE pregnant with Baby C2!! I know. I should have announced this forever ago, but I wanted to make it a memorable post that I would look back on, but it looks like life has other plans in store for us.

A week later we found out that Mr. Man missed Tech by just a few short points.

A week later I found out I passed my teacher's certificate test with flying colors! I was able to send my records to the Louisiana Department of Education.

In between then and now, it has been appointments after appointments. PCSing, well checkups for Baby A, allergy appointments for Baby A (allergic to egg), and so forth.

We are two weeks away from packing up our house. 3 weeks away from taking our leave in Louisiana before heading to Italy. And 50 days away from starting our journey to Italy.

This is where we are at the moment. Life continues to be busy and hectic, but it is just that time of year with PCSing and Summer time all in one.

Hopefully I can break some of this up into different posts. We also recently went to a really nice air show right outside of Cambridge. It was amazing. Baby A LOVED it! Lots of pictures from that.

Baby A also models now for some small town boutiques, and she has been featured in a magazine twice already. This is the route I chose over pageants because pageants (to me) have gotten a bit out of hand. I would love to show ya'll some of her photos when I get the chance.

I also have decided that I want to do more studying in photography. After taking her pictures and pictures for other people, I have found that it is a passion of mine. Along with fitness... so I plan on going back to school to get a personal trainer certificate after Baby #2 arrives, and take some mentorships for photographing when I get settled in Italy.

That's where we are at. I am happy to say that things are great! Everyone is excited and happy over our upcoming adventure.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

12 Month = 1 Year

Baby A is almost 15 months old. I don't want anyone to get confused by the updates. I wanted to show her birthday party pictures and her one year pictures since I did some of the planning process through my blog.

When Arianna turned 12 months, we through her a small birthday party since we had family in. The theme was "Pink Poodle in Paris" because we originally planned on taking her to DisneyLand Paris and Belgium for her first taste of chocolate. However, once we found out we were moving to Italy, we decided to not take that trip and save it for when she was a bit older since we would be spending another 4 years overseas.

Here are a few pictures from the party.

As you can see, we ended up keeping it simple. It was rainy that day, so we only got to enjoy the bouncy castle for about 30 minutes. We had a few friends show up and my family. It turned out to be a nice day.

I will do the 1 year pictures next!

Happy 4th of July! (This is a scheduled post.)