Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

Since we've been married, Justin and I have been trying to figure out how to make Christmas meaningful for us - what family traditions to keep, what new family traditions to start, and what we really want the season to be about for us. This seems even more important now that we have a child to raise and teach what Christmas is about. We've struggled with this, and there's still a long road ahead of us in figuring out exactly what we want to do and how. But today he posted a video on his blog that captures PERFECTLY the spirit of what we want Christmas to be about, and so I wanted to post it here too. (Check out his blog for info about how some of the statistics they use are misconstrued. Please don't let that distract you from the purpose behind it.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fun with Nana & GrandDad

Justin's parents came down to spend Thanksgiving with us, and we had such a fun time! Here are a few pictures from the week:
Elias showing off his reading skills with Daddy.GrandDad tried to give Elias some crawling lessons, but he was more interested in rolling.Elias liked it when Nana fed him! Notice the bib Nana gave him says "Handsome and charming." Nana knows what my baby boy is like!
His Thanksgiving bib says "I'm a little Gobbler!" Ain't that the truth!Showing off, as usual.We had a really fun time making a Thanksgiving feast together: turkey and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, homegrown corn, stuffing, homemade pumpkin dinner rolls, and pumpkin cheesecake!
Since we're not going to be able to make it to Kentucky for Christmas, we had a little family Christmas on Thanksgiving! All of Justin's family sent their presents up, and Elias was just showered with gifts! He got all sorts of cute clothes, which we're very thankful for - we had no idea we'd have a baby in 12-month clothes this winter!Nana and GrandDad also gave Elias his own cool gadgets, including a remote control...
...and a laptop! Now Daddy doesn't have to share his! :)

We had such a good time with you, Nana and GrandDad, and we're so thankful that you made the trip to come see us!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sports Fan

Both Justin and I are sports fans, so it's pretty likely that Elias is also going to like sports, and hopefully he'll play several when he's older. He seems to be having trouble, though, so far, picking a sport and team to root for...

First and foremost, he's a NASCAR fan, and thanks to his daddy, he roots for Jimmie Johnson.
That turned out to be a good choice, since Jimmie took the title this year, for the third year in a row. This, however, is where things get a little more confusing for him.

Our friend, Tanya, who lives in St. Louis, gave him these St. Louis Cardinals pajamas. Justin and I aren't big baseball fans, so sure - Elias can be a Cards fan!

However, when my Uncle Jim, a Cubs fan, saw this, he said no way. So he sent Elias this cute Chicago Cubs overalls set. The outfit didn't get here in time to help the Cubs this season, though... Sorry, Uncle Jim!

THEN, my parents, who live in Cincinnati, came to visit, and they brought him this Cincinnati Bengals outfit! I can't say the Bengals is the best team in the NFL to root for, but the Bengals did get their first win of the season the week Elias got this outfit. So maybe all they needed was Elias rooting for them? *Side note: Isn't he so cute in those shoes?! I've never put shoes on him, because I didn't really see the point before he starts walking... But we have several pairs that were handed down from his cousins, so today I tried this pair on him just to see if they fit... Perfect! And they go really well with the outfit. :)

So is it NASCAR? Baseball? Football? Jimmie? Cards? Cubs? Bengals???? Oh my. The REALLY sad thing is that Elias doesn't have ANY Kentucky Wildcats stuff, which is the one team Justin and I agree on rooting for! So if anybody in the Kentucky area is looking for an idea of something to give Elias... UK clothes, size 12 month or larger! ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

So Big!

Here are my precious boy's stats from today's checkup:

Weight: 19 lbs, 5 oz (75%)
Height: 28" (90%)
Head: 17" (25%)

So he's growing so big! He's no longer perfectly symmetrical, but that's ok. ;) He has now more than doubled his birth weight, which I think is impressive for a baby who weighed as much as he did at birth! And he's so tall!

The doctors and nurses were all impressed with how happy and active he was. Several of them made comments about how smiley and excited he was. I'm so thankful for such a healthy, happy boy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

6 Months!

I can't believe my baby boy is half a year old already! Happy half birthday, Elias! He is such a joy, and I am proud and honored to be his mommy. He has the sweetest disposition - people ask me in stores, "Is he always this happy?" Yes, he is. He is so patient with me dragging him around to the grocery store and to run errands. He has a smile for everybody, and he only starts to protest once we get into his naptime and he starts to get tired. Even then, he reserves the whining for when we get in the car - so far we haven't had any breakdowns in the middle of the grocery store. :) I pray this will last!
I suppose the biggest change in our lives the past month has been eating solids, which I wrote about here. The only thing to add to that is that he's eating green beans now, which he really seems to love. (He likes my homemade ones better than the jar, which is also the case for peas.) He is so hilarious when he eats that I had to try to capture it on video today. This is him eating cereal at his 10:30 feeding this morning:
video
It cracks me up that he opens his mouth so wide for each bite, and he gets his whole body into it - he leans forward, raises his hands, and waves his fingers. My mom pointed out when she was here how good he was for not trying to grab the spoon. That's not something I taught him... I think he just has come to learn that if he keeps his hands out of the way, he gets the food faster.

He is becoming very vocal! He loves to babble, grunt, shriek, and coo... When he wakes up in the morning, he can lay in his crib for a full hour and be completely entertained all on his own, just laughing and talking to himself. He has said the syllables "buh" and "muh," but he doesn't use them much yet. But I'm sure we're on the verge of some real baby talk soon!

He's becoming a lot more coordinated with his body, and daily he makes progress in gaining control of himself. He's still not quite sitting up unsupported yet, but he's getting close! He does awesome with using his hands for reaching and grabbing. At the moment one of his favorite things to do is grab my mouth when I'm trying to talk or sing to him. This results in quite a hilarious time when I'm trying to put him down for a nap, because I usually sing to him for a few minutes before I put him down... But he keeps grabbing my lips and I can't sing, and that makes me laugh, which makes him laugh... You get the idea.

He now uses all four limbs when he's playing with something - he'll hold it in his hands and kick it with his feet. So coordinated! He does this when he's sitting in the Kick & Play now too:He'll prop that left foot up on the bar and then occasionally use it to kick the toy he has in his hands. Funny boy! He can also get his feet to his mouth now, and so he'll chew on the toes of his socks... Weird, but funny.

He's working on transitioning his nap schedule so that he doesn't nap between every feeding. So since we're in transition, his naps aren't as predictable as they have been. I just keep him up until he's tired, which sometimes is only 45 minutes before his next feeding! But usually he's good to go again after just that short nap, and that will be the naptime we end up dropping when he's ready. Sundays still throw us for a loop, since he won't nap at all in the church nursery. Oh well, I figure either he'll start napping there, or he'll eventually grow out of needing a nap at that time!

We have his 6-month checkup on Monday, so I'll post the stats then!

I am so thankful for the beautiful family God has given me - my wonderful husband and precious son. I can't wait to see what the next 6 months holds for us!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Walgreens Game

As you saw in my previous post about saving on baby food, I'm really getting into trying to find ways to save money and make our budget go further. I hate how much money I spend at the grocery store every week, and so I'm reading a lot of blogs and learning how to use sales, coupons, and rebates to save on our household expenses. I was very surprised that Walgreens is actually an excellent place to do this. They have weekly sales that are usually pretty good, they have store coupons in their ads that add to your savings, they have a monthly Easy Saver catalog that offers special coupons and rebates, and they also "stack" coupons, which means you can use a manufacturer's coupon on top of any store savings for the same item. So if you play your cards right, you can get some major deals at Walgreens. This feels like a game to me, like a challenge to see how good of a deal I can get there. I'm still learning how to play, but it's a lot of fun in the process!

So here is my latest attempt:I went to Walgreens today and got all this stuff, and here's the savings breakdown:

Total value of what I bought: $79.86
Store coupons and sale savings: $21.59
Manufacturer's coupon savings: $9.25
Easy Saver rebate: $10
Total savings: $40.84 (51%)
Total expense after rebate: $39.02 (49%)

So I think I did pretty good for a beginner! The trick for me now is learning how to decide when to stock up on sale items, when to only buy one or two, and when to pass up on a really good deal because we don't actually need it...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adventures in Solids

We are having so much fun with solid foods! Elias is doing awesome and loves everything we've given him so far! He has had:

Rice cereal
Avocados
Sweet potatoes
Squash
Peas
Bananas
Apples

Believe it or not, so far his favorite seems to be avocados! He tends to prefer things that are thicker in texture, like the cereal, avocados, and peas, over the runnier things, like squash and bananas. But he chows down on all of it, rarely does he not finish a meal.

He's eating solids with three meals a day now. With his breakfast bottle, he eats cereal. With his lunch bottle, he eats cereal and a vegetable. With his dinner bottle, he eats cereal, a fruit, and a vegetable. Such a big boy! We actually just got a high chair last week, and he ate in it for the first time today. Stay tuned for pictures. He LOVED sitting in it!

I'm having a lot of fun making his baby food, too. Not hard at all, and I'm saving us money! Just for fun, I thought I'd calculate the savings:

Apples: I bought 4 lbs. of apples for $1.24 (Insane deal at Wal-Mart!), from which I got about 34 oz. of baby food (2 ice cube trays + 1 jar). In order to get 34 oz., I would've had to buy 14 jars of baby food. At $0.34 each, that would come to $4.76. So I saved $3.52.

Squash: I bought 2 butternut squash for $1.98, from which I got about 50 oz. of baby food (3 ice cube trays + 1 jar). In order to get 50 oz., I would've had to buy 20 jars of baby food, which would cost $6.80. So I saved $4.82. *Side note: I had no idea the squash would yield this much baby food... He's going to have to eat squash 4 times a week for the next 3 months in order to eat it before it goes bad in the freezer!

Peas: I bought 1 bag of frozen peas for $0.98. I only used half the bag on baby food, so that was $0.49 spent on baby food, from which I got about 16 oz. of baby food (1 ice cube tray). In order to get 16 oz., I would've had to buy 6.5 jars of baby food, which would cost $2.21. So I saved $1.72.

Bananas: Bananas are kind of hard to compute, since the price is always changing. Plus, I don't premake baby food with them - I just mash 1/4 of a banana when it's time for him to eat it, and he eats it fresh. However, that means that he gets 4 meals out of 1 banana, and since he gets 2 meals out of each jar of baby food, I can at least make some kind of comparison. Today I spent $2 on 7 bananas, which would make 28 meals for Elias. In order to get 28 meals, I would have to buy 14 jars of baby food, which would cost $4.76. So that means I saved $2.76.

That's all I can compute since they don't sell avocado baby food in a jar, and the other things I haven't made in bulk to freeze yet. So I'm having fun, saving money, and Elias is growing like crazy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Exersaucin'

OK, these pictures really are a couple weeks old, but I'm finally getting around to posting them. Elias is in his Exersaucer now, and of course, he loves it!His favorites are, of course, the music player that does animal noises and plays music (which he can be seen perusing in the above picture), the little trio of spinning wheels that rattle when they spin, and the dragon hand puppet. That one surprised me because I thought the dragon was a little creepy. But he enjoys holding onto the dragon's ears and putting them in his mouth...Please pay no attention to the fact that his shirt is COVERED in slobber. Surely this child will be cutting teeth soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy... Ummmm... Halloween?

I guess this is a Happy Belated Halloween? The deal is that he did wear this outfit on Halloween, but I forgot to take a picture of it. But he was so cute I had to capture the ensemble for posterity! I considered just taking the picture today and then lying and telling you all I was just late in posting the Halloween picture. But what's the point of lying? This child is so cute, you don't care when I took the picture! In fact, you're probably not even reading all this blabber because you just want to look at the cute pictures! So I'll stop the rambling. Suffice it to say that I took this picture today, but this is what he looked like on Halloween too. :) Many thanks to Nana for the adorable "I'm a little Pumpkin" bib and to Uncle David for the "Baby's 1st Halloween" rattle.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hanging Up the Horns

"Hanging Up the Horns" is what us pumpers call it when we decide to stop pumping. Yep, the time has come for me to wean from the pump. As I posted a couple weeks ago, it has been on my mind a while and has been a long, emotional decision for me. However, what made the decision for me is our trip last week. Pumping in the car is so difficult and uncomfortable, not to mention how it disrupts anything we wanted to do while traveling. So I've decided to be completely weaned before we take our big trip to visit family at Christmas. I've got plenty of time, so I'm going to take it very slowly, cutting 5 minutes off my pump time every day until I'm done. That will take me until the second week of December, and then I'll have a couple weeks in which hopefully everything will regulate, and we'll be pump-free and rarin' to go come Christmas! That means that Elias will be 6.5 months old when I stop pumping, and I'm proud to have been able to give him my milk for that long. I feel like that is quite an accomplishment considering our circumstances, and I know that I gave him the best start I could. He does fine with formula, and he is absolutely loving solids, so I know he'll be fine. I'd appreciate your prayers as we draw this season of our lives to a close!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

See You In St. Louis!

We took a short trip to St. Louis last week for Justin to go to a conference at the Federal Reserve Bank there. (See picture at right.) It was for university educators to talk about the current financial situation, and Justin had an awesome time. You can read his thoughts about it here.

While he was in the conference, Elias and I hit the town! I had never been to St. Louis before, so although we only had a little bit of time, we tried to hit the major sights. The most obvious of these, of course, is the Gateway Arch.It was actually more impressive than I expected it to be - According to the sign, it is the tallest man-made monument in the US. Gleaming in the sun, it was quite a beautiful sight. Elias was also very impressed:
In case you can't tell in the picture, he's sleeping. We didn't go to the museum underneath because I would've had to take him out of his carseat in order to pass security, and I didn't want to wake him up!

We also went to Union Station, but we didn't get any good pictures there. Here is Elias eating his lunch in the food court there one day:We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, and I was very impressed at what we got for what we paid. The full breakfast bar was great, and the room was much bigger than expected. Turns out we needed that much room because we looked like we were packing for a cross-country move for our little 2-night stay in St. Louis. But we had everything we needed! Elias did awesome sleeping in the pack & play and being so cooperative with all the running around and sightseeing. I am so thankful for my precious, good-natured baby boy!

The only other notable thing about the trip was that Elias sat in a restaurant high chair for the first time at a Steak N Shake on our way home. What a big boy!So we had a very successful first trip with our baby boy, and we had some fun while we were at it!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fun with Grandma & Grandpa!

My parents came down for a short visit this week, and we had so much fun! None of us are good at taking pictures, but we did manage to capture a few good moments. Here's the cutest boy in the world:On Saturday, we went into Springfield and ate at Lambert's Restaurant, "Home of Throwed Rolls." If any of you have never been to or heard of Lambert's, they really do have a waiter walking around with a cart of rolls. You wave at him that you want one, and he seriously throws it at you from across the restaurant. Hilarious. He was an excellent thrower, though, and I didn't see anybody not catch their roll, which is a testament to his throwing, not our catching. They also have a waitress walking around behind him with a jug of sorghum for your roll, and other waitresses with giant bowls of sides like fried potatoes, fried okra, macaroni, and black-eyed peas. This is all in addition to the meal you order. Yeah, we were pretty full at the end. But it was fun and delicious, and the price was EXCELLENT considering all you got. It's definitely worth the wait.

While we were in Springfield, we also went to the Bass Pro Shop. My dad ran a half marathon sponsored by the Bass Pro Shop on Sunday morning, so we went there on Saturday for him to pick up his race packet and check out the Race Expo. We had also never been to this Bass Pro Shop, which is actually the original one, so we wanted to check it out! It was very cool, except it was full of some pretty weird characters. I don't know if there were just weirder people than normal there because of the special race weekend, or whether it's always like that... I don't plan to go back to find out soon...

For some random reason, Miss Missouri USA and Miss Missouri Teen USA were at the Bass Pro Shop with a camera crew filming something, so we got our picture with Miss Missouri. That's pretty cool. So I don't know when the Miss USA pageant is, but I hope she wins. She was really nice. What I really like about the picture is the gigantic stuffed bear in the background looking like he's about to maul Justin.

But Elias had a great time with his Grandma and Grandpa, and he is such a ham! He doesn't show off like that for us, so we were surprised when he was clearly putting on a show for them! Rolling around, blowing rasperries, "talking" to get their attention. It was hilarious! He's going to be sitting up on his own really soon! Such a big boy, I'm so proud of him!