Lindsay Gill: October 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Christmas series Part 1: Christmas planning on any budget

I'm so excited to share my Christmas planning series with you!  Why start now? Because if you plan for Christmas now, you will be more prepared, less stressed, and more able to enjoy every second of the holiday season...especially if you're like me and this is the first Christmas season with a little one!

Now before I was even pregnant, I thought this was a great idea for planning for a child's Christmas or birthday (especially on a budget):

So many people, including myself, can get "wrapped up" with wrapping gifts and get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season.  The Four Gift Rule helps you focus your gift giving efforts.  Yes, I know...try that while this little face stares back at you.  
Only one thing I want, Mom?
The following posts in this series will share gift ideas that your 12-18 month old baby wants, needs, wears, and read...and DIY Christmas gifts for everyone else on your list!  Be sure to follow along! 

How else can you plan now for a budget-friendly and stress-free Christmas season?  Alicia from ILookGreatOnPaper Etsy Shop is giving away a Christmas Holiday Organization and Budget Printable Planner to one lucky reader!  (She even has printable planners for blogging and budgeting, definitely check those out.)  Enter to win the printable planner below!

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Married before Pinterest Part 3: Let the planning begin

First, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2.  Now, see if you can find the sentence that JP wrote when I accidentally left Blogger open on the computer.  I decided I would leave it.

Once you have a ring on your finger, you might not realize that people will want details IMMEDIATELY.  When is the wedding?  Where will it be? What are your colors? Did you start your registry?  I was not the girl that dreamed up her wedding ahead of time, I had no idea how to answer these questions.

We got engaged July 2, 2011.  So, you have to start somewhere.  I made some phone calls to the venue, the band, the florist, and the photographer during my work lunch break.  All parties involved said "yes" to the date I had somewhat randomly chosen.   This was so easy, why did everyone make such a big fuss about wedding planning?  I went to John Paul after work, sort of smugly, telling him that the wedding is almost all set!  I'm a natural!  But then...

What date?  That's a Sunday, we're not getting married on a Sunday.

I laid on the floor in fetal position in defeat.

John Paul calmly took the phone numbers from the people I had called, and figured out that a possible date was November 19, 2011.  That was 4 months away.  This was a bit more tricky since we were living in Buffalo, and the wedding would be in Massachusetts.  We had to do all of the booking/decisions either from afar, via my mom, or on quick trips into MA.  The nice thing about November is that everything costs (significantly) less than other times of the year.

We found my dress and the bridesmaid dresses at David's Bridal and chose black as the penguin costumes the men would wear.  For the bridesmaids gifts, they each got fuzzy bathrobes for getting ready and a purse and necklace for the day of.  The men each got a personalized grooming kit that we filled with a toothbrush and other travel toiletries.

We had two beautiful showers and two Bachelorettes: one of each in Buffalo and one of each in Massachusetts!

Shower in Buffalo
Shower in MA
 What I learned throughout the planning process:

  1. Spend time and money on your shoes.  I can still remember the pain of removing my shoes half way through the wedding.  
  2. Your fiance might not be as interested in the wedding planning as you are.  That is okay.  
  3. Weddings bring out the best and worst in people.  This day might not fully be about you.  Everyone reacts to major life events differently.  Just go with it.
  4. A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.  Our Pre-Cana aunt/uncle team taught us this.  They suggested having a party after 10 years of marriage instead.  Everyone says "congratulations" before you've really passed the tests of marriage!
Coming up...the wedding ceremony and reception on November 19th! 

**If you were paying attention, JP added: "and chose black as the penguin costumes the men would wear." What a jokester.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Keurig for baby formula

What's wrong with this picture?  I'll tell you what's wrong with this picture!  I tried to recycle the little measuring spoons in the formula container by using them to measure out scoops of coffee.  With a little less sleep and a bit of multi-tasking, my subconscious put 4 scoops of formula into the coffee maker.  Luckily, I didn't hit "start."

But did you know that Nestle came up with the BabyNes which is basically a Keurig machine for baby formula?  Personally, I don't feel like I need the machine.  But maybe someone made the same mistake as I did this morning, but ended up hitting "start" and then became a gazillionaire when formula came out, ready to drink, and they used the idea!  I was a few years too late.
Did you know this existed?  I didn't until just recently!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Spice up your life

I'm not talking about your love life (on that day, someone needs to take away my blogging password).  I'm not talking about the Spice Girls (who were awesome when I was in fourth grade).
I'm talking about those little guys that sit in the corner of my kitchen!

As I put everything in my fridge into my Crockpot for the mystery-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink meal of the week, I wonder what spices would go best with this concoction I'm creating.  I have my go-to spices, but I'm more of an artist than a chef.  When I see my spice rack, I see something more like this:
So I found spice recommendations on this website and put the information into something a little more user friendly:

There is also a pretty good summary here if you want a little more explanation, and here for a directory of spices.  The Crockpot user manual also suggests that "fresh herbs add flavor and color, but should be added at the end of the cooking cycle as the flavor will dissipate over long cook times."  Good to know.

To my more "seasoned" chef readers out you agree with this list?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A baby's conversation with God

Luke spends Wednesdays with my mom.  She and my dad took him to music class (Bonnie Light's Music for Little People) and they sent me this video of Luke with the music teacher which made me tear up!  I'm so proud of him!  

As if I hadn't teared up enough, a co-worker then shared this with me...

"A baby asked God, 'They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?' God said, 'Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you.'

The child further inquired, 'But tell me, here in heaven I don't have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.' God said, 'Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel's love and be very happy.'

Again the child asked, 'And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the language?' God said, 'Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.' 

'And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?' God said, 'Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray.'

'Who will protect me?' God said, 'Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life.'

'But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.' God said, 'Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you.'

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, 'God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel's name.'

God said, 'You will simply call her, 'Mom.'"

(Author unknown)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Infancy Info

Now that Luke really looks and acts like a "big boy," I wanted to make sure that I record the things we learned in his infancy.

1.  Sleep.  We were really fascinated with the 90-Minute Sleep Program.  The program is based on the research of a baby's sleep cycle and uses N.A.P.S (Note time the baby wakes, add 90 minutes, play, feed, then soothe back to sleep).  It was a new concept to me that sleeping during the day would not negatively affect Luke's sleeping at night.  They don't "catch up" on sleep like an adult.  When we were so tired from night feedings and adjusting to our new little guy, it helped to have some semblance of a schedule to go by, as well.  The book also talks about missing the "window" for a nap which we could completely witness in Luke...and it helped us be more attuned to Luke's cues that he was ready to sleep.  If nothing else, I think it's a great starting point and an easy read.

2.  Sometimes, there are no right answers.  I definitely struggled with this one.  Can he eat eggs or not?  How much breast milk does he need to get after nine months for it to be worth it?  How often should he be pooping?  Sometimes the Pediatrician can provide the controversial bodies of research and then send you on your way.  This was something I really could not come to grips with for a while.  Where are the answers?  I'm not the first one to have a baby, why aren't there answers to these questions?  This is where you pray to God (literally) that you do everything you're supposed to be doing, and let go.

Luke's baptism, putting him in God's hands.
3.  Luke already has such a gregarious, outgoing, and social personality.  I took him to the library for "baby library class" and knew within the first few minutes that this wasn't for us.  All of the babies were sitting neatly with their moms in a circle.  Us?  We needed a bottle.  Then we needed to crawl around and check out all of the babies.  We wanted to scream, with joy, not discontent.  But I didn't want to tell Luke "shh!" or stop him from exploring.  Luke was behaving like an angel, but I brought him to the wrong place.  We now found that music class is a better fit!  Instead of having him conform to the library, we go to a place where loud singing and banging of drums is encouraged.  We can save the library for another day.  I think this is true of Target or church.  Instead of "shhh" or trying to get them to behave differently, reconsider if this is the best environment for them.  This is obviously different when they are a little older, but I personally don't think infancy is the time for discipline...not yet.

4.  Be an advocate for your baby and family.  I think problems arise when you try to tackle too many things, or ask the baby to do more and see more and learn more than they are physically capable.  Sensory overload is so real for babies and sometimes all they need is a quiet, maybe dark, and calming area.
Sensory overload?  Probably.
5.  Since Luke was born, my mom would say "as soon as you figure it out, they change."  I would edit this advice to: "before you can figure it out, they change."  I was telling my friend NK that I get up once per night with Luke, change his diaper, feed him, and put him back to sleep.  She asked if I tried just giving him the pacifier when he awoke, or if he is actually hungry.  I was baffled.  I literally hadn't even considered it.  I tried it the next night.  A few nights later he was sleeping through the night.  If I hadn't talked with her, we might still be eating once per night.  You're so tired and you go with what works, but sometimes there is something that works even better!  Again, I was talking with another mom, asking when I should stop with the pacifier.  She asked if he wants it, or if I just give it to him.  Again...baffled.  She was right, he doesn't ask for it unless he's tired...I just give it to him!  Now we try to keep the pacifier in the crib for sleep time only.  Lessons?  Talk with friends and be open to suggestion.  And don't get stuck with habits, keep evolving as they grow.

What else can you add to the infancy info list?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Upcycle formula containers

The credit for this idea goes to my mom who is physically incapable of throwing away a good container.  What to do with all of those empty formula containers?  I found some Washi tape at Target (it took me a bit of googling to find the name of it, I thought it was "wasabi" tape..)  They also have Washi sheets for larger pieces.  (Side note: Target also has a gift aisle now?)

I removed the label (though I think the tape would cover the Similac label) and just wrapped the tape all around.  You don't even need scissors, you can just rip the tape.  I did a two-tone design shown above.  

Now I can use this to contain make-up brushes...tea bags...nail polish...sewing parts...or one for each since we have so-darn-many!  It looks like there are a ton of cute Washi tape designs on Etsy, too.  

Do you have any other ideas to upcycle formula containers? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

You know you have a nine month old when...

1.  You don't have time to work out but your biceps have never been stronger.  You also have developed the reflexes of a cat.

2.  You feel a sense of victory when one strap of the diaper is done and you're working on the second one...right when your baby flips completely around and the diaper comes completely off.

3.  You have wished there was drive-through grocery shopping so you don't have to move your sleeping baby from their car seat.  Drive-through everything, actually.

4.  You have never hated lawnmowers, dump trunks, or those loud motorcycles or anything else that wakes up a baby with so much passion.

5.  You have tried a Puff.  And you've gone out in public with a Puff in your hair.

6.  You have run out of songs to sing to your little one and have resorted to singing Jingle Bells at an unseasonable time.

7.  You have mastered the art of sneaking out of the baby's room and shutting the door like a ninja.

8.  You have one baby slipper, a baby fork, and something that squeaks in your work bag.

9.  You've downloaded at least one baby app for your phone.  Maybe even ten.

10.  You know how to play "the dropping game."

11.  You know that when a Soothie pacifier drops, it will land about 15 feet away in the dirtiest part of your house.  Those things can really bounce!

12.  You love your baby so much it hurts, and you wouldn't change a thing.

What else can you add to the list?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Baby teeth

Erin from FitFunLifestyle helped me ask the dentists at Baystate Dental in Western Massachusetts about baby teeth.  Luke already has six baby teeth and I wanted to make sure that we were taking care of them properly.  Here's what they had to say:

1. What age would you recommend children seeing a dentist and what can they expect?

Anywhere between 1-3 years old depending on how many teeth the child has and if there are any issues with the child's teeth. 

2.  What type of hygiene should parents be performing on children before after after teeth come in?

Parents should use a wet washcloth twice per day and gently rub the gums before the child's teeth come in. After the baby teeth emerge they can be lightly brushed twice a day with water. 

3. What pacifier do you recommend? 

We do not recommend pacifiers for children over the age of 6 months as they can affect the formation of baby teeth and the shape of the baby's mouth. If you do use a pacifier make sure it is BPA free. 

4. Any other recommendations for oral health? 

Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. This can cause what is commonly known as "bottle rot" if the baby falls asleep with the bottle in their mouth. 

Thank you Baystate Dental!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A teacher inspired play area and GIVEAWAY!

My husband is a teacher, so he was able to stay home with Luke this summer when I went back to work part-time after maternity leave.  He learned a lot about Luke and caring for babies. Also, I think he knows a lot about Luke because Luke happens to be his clone.  (This is a joke, we didn't clone my husband.).

Anyway, we were both home with Luke at one point and I saw the boys playing.  I found out that JP has stations for Luke in his play area, what a good idea, like a little classroom!  

We found the play yard on Craiglist, but here it is on Amazon.

2.  Our new alphabet wall decal from EmaJane definitely was the perfect final touch!  Luke already loves standing and looking at the bright letters with corresponding animals.  They can be "re-stuck" up to 10 times on a clean wall, and come with both lower and upper case letters.  The designer of these adorable letters is giving one lucky reader their own alphabet decal!  Enter below!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

3.  The jumping station.  This Jumperoo has been great for Luke because it has 3 levels depending on their height.

4.  The sitting station: Mamas & Papas Baby Snug and Tray.  This is like the Bumbo, but this one had a little extra leg room...

5.  The resting station (AKA The Parent station).

6.  The reading station.  We learned very quickly to put the bins on their sides, otherwise they topple over when Luke tries to pull up on them!

7.  The toy station

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Married before Pinterest Part 2: The Engagement continues

First, catch up with Married before Pinterest Part 1: The Engagement.

...Once we made our phone calls, we started the drive to my now in-laws house to tell John Paul's parents.  We knocked on their door, and showed them my ring.  They were shocked and excited.  They made the announcement easier because six of John Paul's siblings and their families were coincidently already at his parents' house and were hanging out by the pool (John Paul is one of seven children).

His oldest sister and her husband ran out to get champagne, while the others circled around me, literally chanting my name, "Lindsay! Lindsay! Lindsay..."  

John Paul said that we couldn't stay long.  We got back in the car and headed to his house.  The Buffalo house had a nice wooden deck in the back.  When I got out of the car, I saw a beautifully set table with candles lit?  How were they lit?  Who did this?

Enter Mike D., John Paul's future best-man.  In a tuxedo.

I could not believe it!  I couldn't stop laughing/almost crying with overwhelming surprise but happiness.  There was a seven course meal planned, I had a printed menu at my place,  and next to me sat a dozen red roses.  I don't like fancy restaurants, so he brought the fancy restaurant to me.

From lobster to fresh fruit, and everything in between, we had a perfect meal.

Mike cleaned up everything while we went for a walk around our neighborhood.  When we got back, Mike had built a fire in our in the backyard.  Talk about planning!  I wouldn't have planned it any other way.

Next planning!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A perfect Fall meal

This little family had rave reviews of our dinner last night!  It didn't take too long, and didn't require too many things at the grocery store.  I have to give credit to my friend, (and newly certified orthoptist!) SW for the recipe!

Grocery list:

  1. 1 lb ground turkey (99% lean)
  2. 1 handful spinach
  3. 1 onion
  4. small container of Italian breadcrumbs
  5. 1 med-large spaghetti squash
  6. 1 can Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1-2 garlic cloves
You will also need basil, oregano, parsley, olive oil, and sugar, if you don't have them already.

First, make the sauce.

(or just buy it in a jar).  For homemade sauce, I add these ingredients to a pot and let sit on low for about 1 hour:
  • 1 Can Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil 


Mix these ingredients in a bowl (it's easiest just using your hands...yuck!)
  • 1 lb ground turkey (99% lean)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2-1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 onion (I used a cheese grater to make really small pieces)
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder (read garlic is preferred, my Italian ancestors are probably crying right now)
  • A handful of spinach, chopped very finely
Roll them into 12 meatballs and place them in a greased muffin tray. Bake on 350 for 30-40 minutes, flipping them over after 15-20 minutes.

You're not done...

Cook up some regular pasta.  Or better yet...
Cut one spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise.  Remove seeds and place face down on a microwave safe tray and cover with Saran wrap.  Cook on high for about 7-10 minutes (depending on the size of the squash).  You will know it's done when it is easy to scrape out the "spaghetti" with a fork.  

Now serve and enjoy!

Put a handful in that Baby Bullet for a happy baby!