Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I've Never Loved Halloween So Much ... A PJ Party Linkup!

Halloween has always been a day for fun in my life. From costumes, to trick-or-treating to Halloween parties, it was a day to look forward to each year. I love a good scary movie in late October, and I always switch my decor over to fall by the middle of the month. But, aside from all of this, I had noticed that I sort of felt like I 'grew out' of Halloween over the last few years. After all, what does a newlywed couple with a dog do when Halloween falls on a weeknight other than dress their dog in some crazy hat and answer the door for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters? We still bought candy, fall beer and usually found an appropriate movie to watch, but that was about it.

Well, no one told me that my love for Halloween would blossom again once Gavin was born. He will officially be three months old (how?!) on Halloween and will have absolutely no memory of his first ghostly holiday, but his Mommy has been busy borrowing costumes, buying candy, and even a personalized treat bag for him to use in years to come. And the holiday themed PJs? OMG. You can definitely call this my latest obsession. This kid's drawers are packed full of jammies. He has three sets of Halloween jams and you can bet that I am already on the hunt for some fun Christmas ones!

I was so excited to see that Darci and Meredith were hosting their 'Little Ghosts & Goblins Halloween Pajama Party' and even more excited that I have a squishy little man to dress up and share for linkups like these now!

As soon as the temperatures started to change (which, let's be honest, was like last week in MD), I started dressing G in all of the fall items I have been collecting for him over the last year. His Halloween PJs were all recent additions to his collection, but I love them all so much! There is something absolutely adorable about a little boy in pumpkins.

I apologize for taking most of these photos on my iPhone in the evening when the little boo was already tired and ready for bed, but at least I captured them at all, right?

This pair of Old Navy PJs was actually passed down to Gavin from my best friend's son who wore them last year. Talk about heart bursting cuteness!

And this last outfit. It's not actually PJs, but a sweet little pumpkin romper that I scored 50% off at Old Navy. I may be biased but he is just the cutest little pumpkin I ever did see!

All of the PJs seen above are from Old Navy, Carter's and Children's Place, as are most of the comfies in Gavin's wardrobe. Hey, once I find something I like, I stick with it!

Don't miss out on the fun of linking up your littles for the Pajama Party anytime between today and November 4th!

Friday, October 18, 2013

My First 5 on Friday :: It's About Time!

We have been visiting my family this week in NJ. Fall is definitely in the air up here, and I thought it would be the perfect time for me to join in on this '5 on Friday' linkup that I have heard and read so much about! I love the idea of being able to share a few highlights from our week, or maybe even let off a little steam if need be. So, here goes nothing ...


We arrived in NJ last Friday. B and Riley spent the weekend here with us before leaving Sunday night (and taking my car with them) to head home. While our weekend wasn't terribly busy, we did manage to take Gavin to visit one of my favorite local farms. A place where I made many childhood memories and always visited each year for Halloween and the annual Easter Egg Hunt. The farm was chock full of pumpkins, mums, cider doughnuts, fresh baked pies, hayrides and even pony rides! Little G may not remember his first visit, but his Mommy definitely will!

We have had lots of visitors stopping by while we've been here this week. Both family and friends have dropped in to meet Gavin and most of them have even brought adorable gifts. Just yesterday, my aunt and cousin stopped in with my cousin's 6-month old daughter for a quick visit. Remember the hand painted letters my cousin gifted me with at my NJ baby shower? Well, she made me another beautiful, hand painted gift and I absolutely adore it! One of my favorite verses painted onto a wooden sign in colors that are perfect for Gavin's room! 

How talented is she? I am trying to get her to open an Etsy shop ASAP!

Since we've been out of town, I obviously haven't been attending my Stroller Strides classes. But, I was determined to stay active, knowing a full week off would definitely put me back at square one. Yesterday, while I was outside doing my workout, I snapped this picture. When I saw the leaves beginning to cover the ground in my parents backyard, it was like it suddenly became Fall to me and it made me smile. With less than two weeks until Halloween, I feel like there are so many things I still want to do with Gavin. Time to get crackin'!

Since Gavin and I have basically been on house arrest this week due to my lack of a car most days, we have gotten to spend lots of time just the two of us. He amazes me everyday with his awareness and strength. He is trying so hard to sit up on his own from a leaning position, and he is talking and laughing more and more. Having a 'conversation' with him when he's chatty is my absolute favorite thing. I need to try and get it on video and share it because it is just the cutest thing. Ever.

Speaking of all things Fall, I have become obsessed, as I do every year, with pumpkin spice coffee creamer. I usually buy the International Delight version, but the grocery store here only had Bailey's. It is delicious, and dare I say, better than International Delight. I look forward to my morning coffee time a little more knowing I have a treat waiting for me in the fridge. And, before you know it, it will be time for Peppermint Mocha!

Have you checked out '5 on Friday' yet? I had so much fun putting this post together, it may even become a more regular occurrence around here!

Head over and link up, or just read through all of the other fabulous linked posts this week. Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting Creative with Breakfast & Lunch Thanks to Hillshire Farm

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Hillshire Brand Company but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #buy3save3
I love to cook. But, one of the things that I didn't realize about becoming a first time Mom, was that I wouldn't have nearly the time (or energy) to spend in my kitchen prepping delicious snacks and meals for myself and my husband. Gone are the days where I spent my Sundays meal planning, grocery shopping and prepping Sunday night dinner. Lately, I am doing great if I cook two nights per week. 

But, I'm getting back into the groove a little more each week, and learning about the different items I can keep in my kitchen that make for quick and easy meals at any time of day. Our days go a little something like this right now ...

7-8AM - Gavin wakes and I change, dress and feed him.
8-9AM - Gavin hangs out in my room with me while I rush around getting ready, straightening up and trying to make myself look somewhat presentable. Ha.

9-10AM - We venture downstairs, I turn the coffee back on and play with Gavin until he gets tired enough for his morning nap, which is usually between 9:45-10:30AM, depending on when he woke up.

And all of the sudden, it's close to 11AM, and all I have managed to eat are a few sips of cold coffee. My stomach is growling and I know a quick fix (aka carbs, carbs, carbs) will only leave me feeling hungry again in an hour. 

After stepping back and seeing the big picture of how our days unfold and what I was consuming (empty calories mainly), I decided I needed to pack my kitchen with healthy, lean proteins. Items that I could pull out of the fridge, throw together in a few minutes and eat to get myself through the next few hours. Thankfully, our local Safeway carries a wide variety of Hillshire Farm products, and their brands offer lots of options for healthy protein that will help to pack the punch that I need for breakfast and lunch most days. 
For breakfast, I often try and have oatmeal or eggs. Both are relatively healthy options that will help keep me satisfied longer. When I found Jimmy Dean 'Fully Cooked Turkey Sausage Crumbles,' I knew they would be the perfect addition to my eggs, and would even go great in an omelet! And with a guy in my house who barely makes it through a meal without some kind of meat in it, this was a great option for him to add to his breakfast before work. The bag even reseals making it super easy to toss back in the fridge and use another day! 
On this particular morning, I simply whipped up a few scrambled eggs and warmed the sausage crumbles. Be sure to heat the sausage crumbles over medium heat for about 6 minutes before combining them with your eggs. If adding to an omelet, I would still heat them over low heat for a few minutes, and then pop them into the omelet and finish cooking.

There are many days where I don't eat lunch until 3PM and don't realize how late it is until my stomach starts grumbling uncontrollably. It is then that I head into my kitchen looking for something that I can throw together and won't leave me feeling lethargic afterward (hello, mac-n-cheese!). 

I thought I would try the Hillshire Farm lunch meat and opted for the 'Oven Roasted Lower Sodium Turkey Breast.' Now that I can eat lunch meat again, I have not missed an opportunity for a good turkey sandwich. The Hillshire turkey was great, and pairs perfectly with some veggies on the side. Now that's a complete lunch, am I right?!

Having healthy and easy meal options in my house is a must now that I have a tiny little boss that runs my day. But, I am relieved when I remember that I bought these Hillshire items because I know I won't have to rack my brain trying to come up with something to eat when Gavin is crying and I am about to starve to death. 

I am also excited to share that this week ONLY, you can take advantage of the Buy 3, Save 3 'Mix & Match' offer at Safeway. Simply sign up for Safeway 'Just for U' program, and take advantage today! There are plenty of brands to choose from, including Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean and Ballpark. 

And, if you're not feeling terribly creative, and want a few ideas for how to whip up some fun, healthy and easy meals for your family using Hillshire Farm products, check out the recipe site for lots and lots of them! 

The 'Buy 3, Save 3' offer is only valid through this Saturday, October 19th, so make sure and stop into your local Safeway while you're grocery shopping this week. Trust me, you won't regret it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gavin Thomas :: 2 Months

What else can I say besides 'this has been the longest and shortest two months of my life.' How is it already fall, and how is our little man already eleven weeks old, developing a charm, personality and the most adorable laugh on the planet? Although the days seem long sometimes, the weeks fly by in the blink of an eye, and it seems that Gavin grows a little more each day, and every time I snatch him from his crib, he has changed again, even if only in the slightest of ways. 

I think I am hitting my stride in motherhood these last few weeks. I hate to 'pat myself on the back,' but I feel much more confident, and Gavin definitely knows his Mommy's face and voice. I would make a fool of myself all day long to get him to coo and laugh as much as possible. The little sounds he is making more and more have become my favorite thing. Ever

It is amazing how motherhood changes you. Things that once seemed so important are now trivial, and every little thing about the baby seems crucial. There are moments when I still get a glimpse of my old self, even though I have been rocking dance pants, no makeup and messy hair for the last eleven weeks like it's my job. Oh wait, I guess it sort of is right now. 

Gavin and I have started getting out more and more. I joined my local Stroller Strides and have been trying to get to class at least two mornings a week. They meet M/W/F and we have been pretty good about getting out there and enjoying the weather while we still can. I also started up my women's group at our church again, so most Tuesday mornings, we head there to enjoy fellowship and study with other Moms and kiddos. 

Gavin can also rock a day in the stroller while I shop or run errands. I will be devastated when he is big enough that he won't nap and hang out while we bop all over town. He is also starting to have longer spans of 'awake time' throughout the day, and I just can't get enough of his silliness when he's in a good mood. 

We took him to the beach to celebrate my 30th birthday last weekend with some friends, and he met some of his besties. Three of my best friends and their husbands and children joined us for the weekend in Fenwick and we had a blast together, despite the chaos of eight adults and four children under 3. 

Two of the littles. My best friend Amber's son Marco and Gavin meet for the first time!
Right now, we are in NJ visiting my family for the week. B will come up on Friday to get us, and then we're headed back to MD. So, I'm missing all of my Mommy groups this week, but trying to keep up with the workouts while I'm away!

Weight/Height: Gavin had his 2-month checkup on 10/8 when he was 10 weeks old. He was 12lbs7oz and 23 1/2 inches long. So, he gained close to two pounds and grew another inch since his last visit! Each day he grows and changes, and when I see him in other peoples' arms, he looks so tall to me! But, he's right around the 45-50th percentile in both weight and height, so maybe I'm wrong. 

Hair & Eyes: Gavin's hair is still a light brown color, although it seems to be getting lighter by the day. In the daylight, it almost looks blonde on the tips. His eyes are still a greenish/blue hazel color, almost just like his Mommy.

Diapers: He has about outgrown his Size 1's, although Mommy is trying to use up the few we have left before we transition completely to Size 2's.

Clothes: Gavin is in almost all 3-6 months clothing now. He still fits into some of his 0-3 stuff from the Gap, but everything else is 3 month, 3-6 and even some 6 month stuff from Carter's! He basically lives in Baby Gap and Children's Place PJs and I'm OK with that :o)

Eating: We are into a pretty good routine at this point. He wakes up anytime between 6:45-8AM and eats within a half hour of waking up. Then he plays, takes a quick nap (about 45 minutes or so) and eats again between 11-12 most days. His 'afternoon nap' usually starts between 12-1PM and then he eats again between 3-4PM. We typically start his bedtime routine around 5:45-6PM, depending on how tired he is. Daddy gives the best baths, and then I feed him again around 6:30ish. He is still up once overnight to eat, typically between 3:30-4:30AM.

Sleeping: As you can see above, he goes to bed between 7-8PM after his 'dinnertime' feeding, and wakes up between 3:30-4:30AM. We are usually awake for about 45 minutes, and then he goes back to sleep until around 7AM most days.

He takes his first nap between 9-10AM, usually lasting about 45 minutes to an hour. He goes down again between 12-1PM and will sleep anywhere from 1-2.5 hours depending on the day. If that nap is on the shorter side, he is usually tired again by 4:30-5, so I let him take a 'cat nap' some days to get him through to bedtime. 

As far as 'sleep training' goes, I have done some research; mostly Moms on Call and 12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks, like I mentioned last month. My first goal was to get his daytime feedings into a pretty good schedule. Now that we have done that, I think we are getting closer to preparing for nighttime training. But for now, I am comfortable with our nighttime 'routine' and don't really mind being up with him. I told myself I would give it until he was at least 3 months before I really got into training and weaning him. I know I will lose at least a bit of sleep during the first week of that after all.

Milestones: Gavin is changing everyday, but the most noticeable changes have been the color and thickness of his hair. He is getting more hair by the day, and it is starting to lighten up quite a bit. He is also developing quite the little voice! He loves to laugh and coo and even shout in response to me when I'm 'chatting' with him. He is always looking around, studying everything around him. 

He has a few favorite toys - a Baby Einstein music toy, Sophie the Giraffe and the stuffed octopus that came with his activity mat. He will stare at them intently, and also loves to follow them around with his eyes. He follows me with his eyes when I leave a room, and loves to interact with Daddy, and stare at his furry sister as well!

He still rolls from belly to back, and will lift himself up on his forearms for a few minutes during tummy time. His head control continues to amaze me. I think he is almost ready to sit in a Bumbo type seat by himself. His grasp is strong, but the only things he will hold onto right now are fingers, hands and his blankets. I am waiting for him to grab Sophie or one of the other toys any day now.  

Gavin is an absolute joy and the light of our lives, and I cannot wait to spend the next two months leading up to Christmas with him. I have already started brainstorming for Christmas shopping ideas, outfits, pictures and more!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Operation Skinny Mommy :: My New Secrets

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Lean Cuisine, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HonestlyGood #ad”

It's no secret that a post-baby body is almost always in need of a little TLC. In my case, there are more soft spots than ever before, and I swear my belly button will never look the same. Sure, breastfeeding definitely contributes to post-baby weight loss, but this Momma wants to get back into shape. I want to get some strength, tone and definition back, and I know that a healthy diet goes hand in hand with my new Stroller Strides workouts.

But, what is a new Mom to do about healthy eating when she has free time (and hands) for a total of about 3 minutes per day (or so it feels). I feel my best when I eat fresh, all natural foods, but I don't have the time to prepare meals like I used to. When I learned that Lean Cuisine had created a brand new line of all natural meals that are ready in just a few short minutes, I decided I had to give them a shot. Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals feature six different varieties full of 100% all natural, wholesome ingredients with a sauce you can add yourself. Together with their farmers, they’re donating a portion of the vegetables grown for LEAN CUISINE HONESTLY GOOD meals to local communities. The new Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals are: Honey Citrus Chicken, Lemongrass Salmon, Pineapple Black Pepper Beef, Plum Ginger Grain-Crusted Fish, Pomegranate Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper Chicken.

The best part was that I could snag a few Honestly Good meals on one of my weekly Target trips.  I picked up Plum Ginger Grain-Crusted Fish, Honey Citrus Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Chicken. Each of the meals came with all natural sides including whole grain pasta, veggies, and they even include the sauce on the side so you can add only the amount you want. There is nothing worse than a meal that is doused in too much sauce or dressing. Lean Cuisine did it right with allowing their consumers to add their own, and gave us an extra way to save calories!

The Roasted Red Pepper Chicken meal came with a healthy portion of whole wheat pasta and broccoli. The sauce was light and didn't overwhelm the meal.
My favorite of the three Honestly Good meals was the Honey Citrus Chicken. The sauce was the perfect blend of tangy and sweet, and the whole grain pasta cooked perfectly. The meal was also complimented by a scoop of broccoli and yellow zucchini. 

The whole grain radiatore pasta with spinach, slivered almonds and sun-dried tomatoes was cooked perfectly and really tasty! The meal kept me satisfied for hours, and didn't have me craving a carb-loaded snack an hour or so later like some other meals did. So now, when I'm battling hunger and find a moment or two during naptime to grab a bite, I can just grab a Lean Cuisine out of the freezer and I have a complete, all natural meal just a few short minutes later. Lean Cuisine is helping make my journey back to pre-pregnancy bod just a little easier.
Whether you're a busy Mom, a working gal, or you just don't have the time to cook every night of the week, I highly recommend you give Lean Cuisine's new Honestly Good meals a try. Buy them today at your local Target!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My How Life Has Changed.

I know, I know, I have barely shown my face around here lately. The first two months of Gavin's life have flown by and we have been busy traveling, visiting family, joining Stroller Strides, and doing our best to get back to taking care of the house and getting a little cooking done in the kitchen! I have lots to share now that my favorite season has begun, including my big 30th birthday, which just happens to be this Sunday. Hello, Birthday Week! 

I wanted to sit down today and document just a tiny piece of our new life and what it looks like these days. I am by no means a pro, but at just two months into motherhood, Gavin and I have hit our stride, and I am feeling more comfortable and confidant than ever. 

Remember when I talked about how we ended up with a dog in our bed? Well, now our bed is even more crowded. Gavin is sleeping in his own room every night, but when he wakes up for a feeding (typically between 2-4AM), I bring him into our bed, because I'm most comfortable nursing him there. At about this same time, Riley realizes that the little man is awake and in our room, and she decides she doesn't want to miss out on the middle of the night snuggle session. 

So, picture me every night, a sleeping husband on my right, nursing baby on my belly, and a 65 pound black lab at my feet. Sure, it makes for warmer temps and mild bouts of claustrophobia some nights, but it's those nights where I realize how full of love our home is already. This home that B and I created together has become more than just a comfortable roof over our heads. It is now the home where we first became parents, where we experienced the roller coaster of the newborn days, and where we come home every day in anticipation of the few short hours we get all together as a family each evening. All of the sudden, the four walls of our bedroom have become the container for life's little moments, and they're already bursting at the seams with the love in my heart for each of those bodies that jump into our bed each night.

I love this place.