Friday, September 30, 2011

Making Healthy Choices

We’ve made a few changes around the Hamilton household recently.  They really are just little things, but we are enjoying the new and I thought I would share.  They are mostly diet changes.  We didn’t eat bad things before, but things were probably not quite as balanced as they should have been.

I suppose my first indicator came when Elaine started asking for cookies all the time.  Or maybe when she walked out of the kitchen with a bag of potato chips before breakfast.  And I confess that my pregnancy cravings were not healthy.  And Elaine got to indulge in everything that I did when I was expecting Nolan. 

Most days Ben dashes out the door without breakfast, or with just a piece of toast.  And he frequently reminds me that diabetes runs in his family so we should be careful with the sugar. 

I used to make a batch of cookies every week.  I would set some aside for Ben’s lunches and Elaine and I (and sometimes Ben) would help to eat the rest of them.  Too many cookies.  I know, I know!  Duh, right?

Elaine has not been good about eating her veggies and fruit.  She doesn’t chew the fruit well, and she hates bananas which are soft.  Veggies at dinner were a fight every night.  It was time to make some changes!

We started off by making smoothies for breakfast several days a week.  I buy the markdown fruit and freeze it so it’s easy to grab and nothing goes to waste.  It’s inexpensive, too.  I use plain Greek yogurt in the smoothies.  I don’t care for Greek yogurt by itself, but in a smoothie I can’t tell the difference.  It’s loaded with protein.  We’ve been creating our own concoctions, as well as pulling some recipes from Money Saving Mom.  Our favorites are Orange Crème Smoothies, and Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothies (it really is delicious!).

Fruit for SmoothiesIf you slice your fruit and freeze it on a cookie sheet before placing it in freezer bags, it won’t stick together and you can pull out just a few pieces very easily!

We cut out the cookies completely.  In the last month or so I have only made two batches, and one of them was a half batch.  The other ones I shared with neighbors and friends.  We’re having cheese sticks, carrots & celery, and Kashi granola bars for snacks. 

We used to drink soda quite often.  It was another pregnancy craving.  Now we always have a pitcher of tea in the fridge.  Soda isn’t even a weekly treat, much less daily treat!  I’m trying to trade my coffee for tea, but I haven’t quite succeeded at that one yet!

Elaine is doing much better at eating her vegetables, and she loves to have “cheese” for her snack.

I also started menu planning again.  I had fallen off the bandwagon this summer after Nolan’s birth.  Money Saving Mom just released a set of customizable printable menu sheets.  I use the seven day planner and hang it on the fridge.  Each morning I pick which meal I want to make for dinner and check it off.  It’s helped me to plan breakfasts too. I used to just grab whatever, and it usually ended up being cold cereal.  Now we enjoy a better variety.

rAndom Elaineness

My roomie in college used to say, “That was random with a capital A” whenever I did or said something…well, random.  I guess these things are random with a capital E because Elaine did them!

A couple of weeks ago Ben was sick and missed four days of work.  When he vacated his “spot” in the bed, Elaine seized the opportunity.  She crawled up there, covered herself with the blanket, grabbed the box of Nyquil, and started fake coughing. 

Elaine playing sick

I asked Elaine if she wanted cereal or eggs for breakfast.  She indicated eggs, so I asked, “hot or cold?”  She started hitting herself in the head.  Oh…she wants hard boiled eggs.  Yup – Daddy taught her that one.  She loves hard boiled eggs!

Side note: Do you know how hard it is to get a non-blurry picture of someone cracking an egg on their head?

Elaine recently discovered the “big girl” swings at the park.  It’s hard to get her home!

Elaine on the Big Girl Swing

Elaine got invited to her first birthday party – a princess party for Faith Jackey’s 5th birthday!  Here is Elaine doing princess crafts with Shastya Hyden and Faith.

Elaine attends Faith Jackey's Birthday party

Elaine attends Faith Jackey's Birthday party
She enjoyed the attention the comes from being the littlest kid.

Recently I printed off a dog matching game for Elaine.  We learned new words and pictures, and she matched all of them correctly the first time!  I was just a little surprised.

Elaine matching game

Elaine matching game

Elaine matching game

We paid a second visit to the Jackey’s to do some card making.  Faith and Shastya took over entertaining Elaine.  They had a “tea party” in the top of the swing set.  Shastya said, “Mrs. Hamilton – do you know how hard it was to get Elaine up there?”

Elaine, Faith, and Shastya

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I am grateful for:

  • A husband who spent his unexpected day off wiping noses, My three favorite peoplechanging diapers, washing dishes, and changing laundry.  He wanted to help me out because I wasn’t feeling well.
  • A washing machine at home.  Right now it is broken again, but hopefully it will be fixed soon.  Going to the laundry mat with my two littles definitely adds a lot of work!
  • A working computer.  When my computer updated this week, it caused major problems to my registry and caused a lot of programs to fail.  Now it is working again, and I am thankful.
  • Tech support in English.  Even though my Microsoft tech support agent was clearly in (or from) another part of the world, I could understand her English clearly and we were able to solve the problem {it only took three hours on the phone and about 50 re-boots}.
  • Carbonite.  If you don’t have Carbonite backup for your computer, you are asking for trouble!  The $50 a year is sooooo worth it!  When I couldn’t access my photo storage program this week, I knew I didn’t really have anything to worry about because all my pictures were safely backed up off site.  This is one of the best investments we have ever made!
  • A little girl who said “Thank you” this morning without being prompted.
  • A little boy who doesn’t need very much encouragement to break out in smiles.
  • The Baltimore Orioles. Ben never stopped cheering for them and endlessly checking their losing scores.  But they went out with a bang, closing their season by coming back in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the Red Sox and knock them out of the wild card spot.  {I have to put this one in – it “kills two birds with one stone,” so to speak.  I get brownie points with Ben, and I get to jab at Dad Hamilton at the same time!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Siblings

Baseball: Orioles vs. Red Sox

otherwise known as Daddy’s team vs. Grampa’s team.

How does Nolan feel about this rivalry?

“Baseball is so exciting!  Mom!  The Orioles are winning!  Can you believe it?”  {And of course I could not!}

“NO!  The Red Sox just scored!”

“Phew.  We pulled it off.  Go Orioles!”

Editor’s Note:  Pictures are from the game on Monday, September 26th, not the game on Tuesday, September 27th.  Sadly, Boston won game 2.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Little Baseball Man

I purchased a little pair of handmade pants from my blogger friend Marah (Diary of a Devil Dog Wife) for Nolan to wear home from the hospital.  Unfortunately, they were too big for him when he was born.  Additionally it was very hot in June, so Nolan didn’t end up wearing any pants at all! 

Finally the weather is cooling off.  Nolan is chunking up, and we are loving these reversible easy diaper change pants!

Nolan's baseball pants

Nolan's baseball pants

Nolan's baseball pants

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Little German Dress

Did you know I was born in England?  My dad was stationed there with the Air Force.  While overseas, my mom bought this little German dress.  She has saved it all these years (we won’t say how many), and she gave it to me for Elaine to wear.

Andrea under sink  Andrea under sink
This is me and my baby doll, Mary.  It’s the only picture I have of me wearing the dress.

The dress is wool, so it was too heavy for the summer.  When the weather turned last week, Elaine got her first opportunity to wear it. 

The little German dress

The little German dress

The little German dress  The little German dress

The little German dress

It’s really special to me that Elaine can wear some of the same things that I wore (it helps that our birthdays are only five days apart).  She also wore the same little red dress for her newborn portraits as I wore in my newborn picture!



Friday, September 23, 2011

Thankful Thursday: “It’s Been One of Those Weeks” (which is why this post is a day late)

This week I am trying to be thankful for bad days and hard times, and the lessons that we learn.  God is teaching me patience, and to rejoice when He allows hard times to come.  My “hard times” are really very mild compared to what some people (even some of you) are facing or have faced.  But they are hard to me right now.  I guess it can all be summed up in the phrase, “It’s just been one of those days.”  Or in my case, weeks.  Everything culminated on Wednesday.  I know that one day I will be able to laugh about, even though I was terribly stressed out this week.  Even now, I can start to chuckle. 

So I thought I would give you a little glimpse into my life for a day…as an urban mommy in New York City with two littles under two years old.  Here is an excerpt from my journal…it’s kind of long, but it paints the picture.  Maybe you can relate, or just laugh along with me.

It has been “one of those weeks.” I think that Satan is really attacking me. Last week was hard because Ben was sick – really sick – all week. He missed four days of work. I had no help with the kids. I had Ben to take care of. I had to try and avoid the germs.

On Sunday Sherry McKee came up and said they had a water drip downstairs. We were asked not to use the washing machine. I thought she said the plumber was coming on Monday. I thought wrong.

On Monday I learned that the plumber had not even been contacted. I needed to wash diapers. I had a lot going on. It was hard. I had to make an expensive trip to the laundry mat to do my diapers and wash our other clothes since we didn’t know how long we would be without a washer.

Additionally, Elaine seems to have been testing me by being extremely disobedient and defiant. She has hit the proverbial “terrible twos” (which I guess is the world’s way of saying that the sin nature is really evident). She screams before naps and at bedtime. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday she awoke early in the morning. I was tired and not ready to deal with her so early. Then she bucked me on everything and I was so sick of administering discipline.

Nolan is getting sensitive to noise and a little harder to put down at night. We decided to move the cradle out of our room, especially since we are almost always on the computer and printing at night. The computer, of course, lives in our bedroom also.

I had a shopping trip planned on Wednesday. I really couldn’t reschedule since Ben was giving me the car. I knew it was going to be stressful. It started when I realized that the car was parked rather far away. I couldn’t carry Nolan in his car seat and get Elaine there on my own. But if I took the stroller, I wouldn’t be able to get the groceries in the car. (I had a long list!) I ended up taking the umbrella stroller. I put Nolan on the floor to drive around to the house where I picked up the car seat. Please don’t tell the cops!

When I arrived at the fruit market I couldn’t find a parking space. It was raining. Nolan had fallen asleep so I didn’t want to take him out of his car seat in order to use the umbrella stroller. So…I parked illegally. Really it wasn’t that bad – my tail end was hanging over the cross walk. I was just hoping I wouldn’t get a ticket.

I grabbed a cart and started shopping. Elaine was getting geared up for one of her fits, so I put her in the cart even though it was filthy. Even then she managed to grab pieces of fruit as I shopped. Then a rude lady decided to push between me and the cart rather than walk around my cart. The sloping sidewalk meant that my cart went rolling…with both kids in it…while I ran to catch it before it went off the curb. Not even an apology!

I managed to get back to my car before there was a chance for a ticket. Off we went to Target and the grocery store. The bright spot in the whole horrible day was that I found a spot in the parking garage very near the elevator. (And even as I type this I realize that my day wasn’t really that bad…but it sure felt like it at the time!).

I intended to snag one of those carts with the infant seat in it and fold up the umbrella stroller. No carts like that at Target! I didn’t need too much or anything big, so I let Elaine wheel one of those wheel-y basket things while I used the stroller. Good for a while. She kept cutting corners and running into people or objects. If I tried to help she did one of those screaming fits. I finally had to ban her to a shopping cart…so there I was pushing the stroller and pulling the cart. Then I loaded my purchases into a canvas shopping bag and hit the elevator to go to the grocery store.

And once again, I discovered that there were no carts with infant seats at this location. I tried to lay Nolan in the front seat. He was too fat. And when I picked him up I forgot about my bags hanging on the stroller…yup…the whole thing flipped on me. All the while Elaine was very loudly telling me something that I couldn’t understand. I tried putting Nolan in the big part of the cart, but it was no good. There I was pushing a stroller and pulling a cart all through the grocery store. You wouldn’t believe how many nasty looks I got as I tried to maneuver the aisles and avoid the obstacles. (Why do they always clutter the aisles with displays so that you can’t even get through?) And of course Elaine was tired, hungry, and throwing a fit about it…again.

Then I’m standing in the one.and.only.checkout.lane, watching my ice cream melt. Finally it was my turn, and can you believe the audacity of someone who asked if they could go before me?

I made it back to the car. Then I proceeded to hit every light red between Atlantic and home (over 70 blocks). Okay, maybe not every light, but you get the point. I decided to hit the McDonalds drive through since it is an hour past nap time already. I pull in, to discover that the drive through entrance is only from the other side, and it’s a one way street. There were no parking spaces and nowhere to turn around. About this time I also realize that my gas gauge is below “E”. Ben forgot to mention that. Add another stop to the list.

I finally get home and find out that Elaine has just fallen asleep. Finding an open space on my street (but halfway down the block), I snag it. I carry my sleeping little ones, the car seat, and the dripping ice cream into the house. Actually I carried Nolan, and then realized that Elaine had stopped to pick leaves back down the street. So I had to go retrieve her.

After jamming the ice cream into a badly organized freezer, I spread a PBJ and set Elaine down to eat. I ignored the hunger screams from Nolan (it’s been five hours since he ate) while I walk back down to get the rest of the groceries, hopefully in one trip. I loaded up the stroller, but in my haste I set the lighter bag in the seat. There went my stroller, flipping over, again, while I struggled to set my bags down and fix everything.

At this point I am beginning to wonder why I did all of this on Wednesday when we have church that night. Veggies need washed. Food needs put away. The living room and Elaine’s room were in disarray from moving Nolan’s cradle that morning. The diapers needed washed again (which meant another trip to the laundry mat as the plumber was still AWOL).

I began to wonder why I ended up with such a strong willed child, and whose idea it was for me to be a stay-at-home-mom. I didn’t even want to hear the word “homeschool” (which still has me scared to death). I got on my Facebook and discovered that little Audrey, who is a little younger than Elaine and has had two heart transplants, was not doing well. Instantly I was glad that I had two healthy, happy kids, in my own home, to love and take care of. I was grateful for the cute moments sprinkled in between the fits and discipline problems. I was happy to see the smiles of my little boy, and I was glad to be a mommy. But I was also dreaming of bedtime…

I just had to get that all down on paper, so that I can remember the next time I have “one of those days” …or weeks!

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
James 1:2-4

Friday, September 16, 2011

T-Shirt Skirts

I found some t-shirts for a steal at the bargain store last week.  I nabbed three of them to make Elaine some more skirts.  Today (okay, it’s after midnight.  Make that yesterday) I finally pulled out the sewing machine and set to work.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to do a simple task when you’re caring for an almost-two-year-old (who has a very 2 year old attitude), a two-month old, and a sick husband?  Well let’s just say this little project, and a little hemming, took me all day!  But now it’s done and Elaine is happy!

{Here’s my original post on this skirt, and a link to the original tutorial}

Elaine in her t-shirt skirts
I took the ruffle from the grey skirt to accent the pink skirt.

Elaine in her t-shirt skirts
The black skirt – first one I made.  She looked so…grown up going to church on Wednesday.  She is carrying the purse that Mrs. Neiner gave her as a newborn – the purse that started the addiction!  And inside she has her Bible…where did the time go?

New T-shirt skirts!
I loved the grey on pink, but I didn’t really want a pink-on-grey combo.  So I stole a friend’s embellishment idea and used ribbon, and then eliminated the ruffle!

New T-shirt skirts!
Three t-shirt skirts.  I learned never to sew the elastic without the model.  I finished the grey skirt while Lainey was napping.  I made it the same (or so I thought) as the others, but it needs some adjustments in the waist!

New T-shirt skirts!
I’m very pleased with the turnout, and I feel like a frugal Mommy!  Maybe I could get into this sewing thing!

Nolan’s Ryan

Elaine has her Bunny (who has been assigned a permanent place in the crib, and has been rejected for the more-fun-to-play-with baby doll).  Nolan wasn’t really given any stuffed animals.  We were talking the other day and wondered if he would have a “special friend.”  Then he started chewing on everything he could get his hands on.  Usually it’s his blanket, pacifier strap, or lately his little stuffed elephant rattle from Mrs. Neiner. 

So…we dubbed it Nolan’s Ryan!  Just to have fun, and to make you wonder if we really did name Nolan after that baseball great!  Perhaps they will become inseparable friends…

Nolan's Ryan

And happily, the weather turned cool today.  The breeze and the temperature were perfect for fall, and called for a coat in order to go outside!  Nolan got to get bundled up for the first time. 

Nolan's first fall day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Elaine Reading to Nolan



Elaine obviously got bored sharing the book, which caused Nolan to scream, “She’s not showing me the pictures!” (And as I type this Elaine and is pointing and saying, “he chying, he chying.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Crafty Moments

Here are a few of my card and crafty projects from recently…

Post It Organizers from Chicnscratch.  They were gifts for our Sunday School teachers.  I “designed” and printed the saying in Word since I didn’t have a stamp that I liked for this occasion.

Post It Organizers

Post It Organizers
You could add a smaller Post-It pad or page markers below the large pad, but I opted not too.  On the left is a little pocket.

Cards using my new Sizzix Texturizer (compliments of Mom):

Textured Cards Sept 2011
The polka-dot background is raised and embossed, as is the flower design.

Textured Cards Sept 2011
A thank you card – I loved finding ribbon that said “Thank You” on it – perfect for card making!

Textured Cards Sept 2011
This was my favorite – love the colors!  Just an encouragement card for a friend.

Textured Cards Sept 2011
Card for a friend who is having a little girl…

Textured Cards Sept 2011
I also liked the colors on this one – a card for my in-laws who just celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary!