Friday, June 28, 2013

5 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

Your baby's neck muscles are getting stronger, which allows her to hold her head up for short periods. She can support it for a few moments while lying on her stomach, for example, and she can probably turn it from side to side. She may be able to hold her head up when she's in a car seat or front carrier.

Smiling happens at about the same time in all cultures, so get ready for your baby to reward all your loving care with a beaming, toothless, just-for-you smile. This will probably make your heart melt, even if you've just had your worst night yet.

Your baby may start sleeping longer at night (maybe four to six hours) sometime between 6 weeks and 6 months of age. It's a broad range, and much depends on your baby's development and your behavior.

Most sleep experts suggest putting your baby to bed while she's still awake, but drowsy. This will help her learn to fall asleep on her own, a skill that will come in handy for you both when she wakes in the wee hours of the night. You can help your baby reach that milestone sooner rather than later by establishing healthy sleep habits from the start, such as a bedtime routine with a calming bath, a baby massage, or a bedtime story.

Elisha is doing great!  He is continuing to fill out and form little fat rolls just where babies should have them.  And then there's those cheeks... I LOVE fat baby cheeks!

He has given us a few precious smiles and grins here and there, and my knees go week every time.  So sweet, so much innocence, and trust, and joy.  He's also starting to interact, engage, and look at us more.  

This week he has grown out of his newborn clothes and is now wearing size 0-3 months.  Since he's filling out a lot more quickly than Noah, I'm thinking I can start putting him in his cloth diapers soon (Noah's thighs weren't big enough to fill them out until he was 2 months old).

I always thought that Noah was a great baby... he slept through the night from 8 weeks on, and didn't cry much during the day.  He did cry almost every day from 5-7 pm straight, deep screaming cries, but for a baby, I wrote that off as normal and thought he was such a good and easy baby.  I was nervous that Elisha would be more difficult and that I'd be disappointed that he wasn't as easy as his brother.  I didn't think it was possible, but Elisha is an even easier baby than Noah.  He doesn't cry much, and when he does it's usually cured by someone holding him.  Overall he is very happy, easy, laid back, and not very demanding.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I made this Cream Cheese Pound Cake to top with strawberries and whipped cream for a friend's birthday.  I thought it turned out great, and will probably not make any other pound cake recipe again.  The only change that I made was to use reduced fat cream cheese instead of regular.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pulling on a Promise


Last week, I was all of the sudden made aware of a great praise/ answer to prayer/ testimony/ act of God's goodness over the last few months. It's funny that it took me over a month to realize it, and that I might have missed/ forgotten the connection altogether had it not been for Jeremy, and some notes in my journal from February. I am so grateful for this chance to remember, praise, share a testimony, encourage, and activate faith in others, and be again reminded at the goodness and faithfulness of my King.

February 22 God had given Jeremy some very specific words about me, and had said that He wanted to give me something, and that I could ask for ANYTHING, and that He would give it to me. What a big promise! I was humbled. I was honored. I was worried. I didn't know what to ask for. I didn't want to be selfish with my request. I wanted to be like Solomon and use my request wisely, as he had asked for wisdom, and use my gift for the good of others. I wondered if I should ask for things to benefit my husband, family, and/ or ministry. I wondered if I should ask for big changes, eternal changes, in our city, country, or the nations. But when it came down to it, the biggest desire of my heart was something that seemed very small, and to only mostly benefit me, and maybe my family. It felt very selfish and nonspiritual of me, but it was what kept consuming my heart and mind. I wanted to have more/ enough provision for our ministry for me to no longer need to watch other people's kids and to fully be able to devote my time and energy to our family, especially with Elisha on the way. So I had asked God for this back at the end of February.

Then, in mid April I was notified by the parents of the child I was currently watching that they were going to be putting their daughter in school as of the beginning of May. At first, maybe for a night, or up to a day, I was concerned about this. I had completely forgotten God's promise, and my even asking, and had jumped into worry mode, knowing that what I made from watching that child each month was almost exactly what our rent payment was each month... wondering just exactly how we were going to replace that income, and within 2 weeks. Fortunately, the Lord never lets me get too far carried away in worry or things that are not of Him, and He filled me with His peace, and reminded me of all of the ways that He has miraculously provided for our family over the years, encouraging me that He could and would do it again. So not knowing what was going to lie ahead, I trusted Him.
Then, within 2 more weeks, we were given donations, by people that we didn't even really know or have relationship with, that covered 4 months of what I earned watching the baby. PRAISE GOD! I'm so glad that I didn't waste more than a day of my time worrying about how we would pay our bills... what a waste that time and energy would have been! It's definitely a new adjustment for us to live on a ministry income, that fluctuates each month, and that can be unpredictable, but we are choosing to believe and trust in the promises God has made us, that He is going to provide for us, and that specifically He is going to meet my request of no longer needing to "work" outside of our home and ministry.

And right now I'm humbled. And in awe. That He is that good. That personal. That caring. That He would do that for me/ us. That He would give me that gift, as selfish as that request may sound. (Although I do think that me getting to focus more on our family/ ministry/ kids does have eternal impact!). And then, that He would make sure that I'm able to go back and be reminded, and see the connection to my request from February being fulfilled.

And He has continued to woo and pursue me over the last few weeks just when I needed it most. When a few weeks ago I shared in my weekly update of feeling down. He chose that time to remind and encourage me with this.

He chose that time to also speak through a friend to give me some specific encouragement and words that I needed to hear. And I am again reminded of just how personal, how good, how faithful, caring, and intimate He is. I'm reminded of how creative He is, and how He can and will speak to me through so many different ways.

So friend, if you've been feeling dry or distant from God, if you have been loosing touch with just how much He loves you and loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11), please be encouraged, let this testimony remind you of just how wonderful and thoughtful He is!

Monday, June 24, 2013

4 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

Your baby may gurgle, coo, grunt, and hum to express his feelings. A few babies also begin squealing and laughing. Be sure to coo and gurgle back, and talk to your baby face to face. He'll enjoy holding your gaze now.

If you have things to do, your baby will still enjoy hearing your voice from across the room. And don't feel silly about using baby talk — babies are particularly attuned to this high-pitched, drawn-out way of communicating, which can actually teach your baby about the structure and function of language.

Elisha is doing great!  He is getting bigger each week and is significantly bigger than Noah was at this age.

He is still sleeping through the night some nights, but then will wake up in the middle of the night on other occasions.  Either way, he is doing better than I expected at this point and I am grateful to get a reasonable amount of sleep each night.

This week he had his first bottle, which he did very well with.  Since Noah refused to take a bottle (therefore I was never able to be apart from him until I stopped nursing at 14 months) I am determined to introduce a bottle to Elisha now, and continue to give him one regularly so that we don't end up in that same situation again.

He is currently eating every 2-3 hours during the day and going for a stretch of 5-7 hours at night.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Curried Tofu Salad

Curried Tofu Salad

This is a vegan knock off of my favorite curried chicken salad.  Serve on bread as a sandwich, or on a bed of your favorite greens for a light lunch.  This is very versatile, raisins or grapes could be substituted for the craisins, pistachios or cashews for the almonds, and cilantro or fresh parsley could also be added in.

-1/8 c yogurt or mayo
-1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
-3/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1 Tbsp lemon juice
-1 1/2 Tbsp sugar or honey
-1 block firm or extra firm tofu
-1/8 c sliced almonds, toasted
-1/8 c craisins
-1 stalk celery, finely diced
-1 scallion, sliced

In medium bowl whisk together yogurt/ mayo, curry powder, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and sugar/ honey.  Drain the block of tofu and add to the bowl.  Use a fork to mash the tofu and break it up into bite sized chunks (similar in size to the craisins).  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately, or chill until serving.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Orzo Tabouli

Orzo Tabouli

This is my knock off of my favorite dish at a nearby casual dining chain restaurant   I wanted to eat this salad everyday of my pregnancy with Elisha and have no idea why I waited so long to try to duplicate it myself.  At the restaurant I get mine topped with grilled shrimp, but omitted them for the home version.  I think artichoke hearts or chickpeas would also be great in here, but not true to my takeout version.

-1 pack whole wheat orzo, cooked to package directions and cooled to room temperature
-1/2 c feta cheese
-1 bunch parsley, chopped
-1 cucumber, diced
-1 c grape tomatoes, halved
-1/4 c kalmatta olives, chopped
-1/2 c greek dressing from recipe below
-1/4 c lemon juice
-3 cups spring mix or chopped romaine lettuce

Greek Dressing
-1 c olive oil
-3/4 c red wine vinegar
-1/4 c lemon juice
-2 cloves garlic
-2 tsp oregano
-2 tsp basil
-2 tsp sugar
-2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tsp pepper

Whisk together dressing ingredients.  Can chill in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Combine all salad ingredients (including the 1/2 c) of dressing in a bowl and toss well.  Taste and add more dressing to taste if desired.  Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Friday, June 14, 2013

3 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

Babies love and need to suck, so don't discourage it. In fact, you may have already discovered that a pacifier works wonders in helping your baby calm down. When the "binky" or your finger isn't available, your baby may even be able to find her thumb or fingers to soothe herself.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a pacifier at nap time and bedtime, based on evidence that using a pacifier may reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). That said, there's no need to reinsert the pacifier if it falls out once your baby's asleep.

Elisha is doing great!  He's slowly starting to spend a little more time awake with each passing week.  He seems to be naturally settling into a schedule and routine, with a little encouraged structure from us.  

He has completely shocked us by seemingly already starting to sleep through the night (he has done it the last 3 nights in a row!).  Noah didn't consistently sleep through the night until 8 weeks, so I am completely shocked, but not complaining at all.  He seems to be giving me a good solid 7 hour straight chunk of sleep each night, so I'm not feeling very tired at all these days and seem to be getting adequate amounts of sleep, although 4-4:30 is a tad early to be getting up for my taste.

We have been transitioning back into our normal rhythm and routine.  This week Elisha had several outings, including ladies Bible study, community group, and a couple of grocery store trips.  

We have noticed just how different things are with baby #2 verses baby #1.  When Noah was a baby everything seemed like a big deal.  I didn't feel like I could put him down and leave him to shower.  It seemed like a lot to bring him to the grocery store, so I would wait and go on the weekends when Jeremy could stay home with him.  These days we laugh at that.  Especially since I went to the grocery store 3 times this week with both boys.  In hindsight, I wonder just why everything seemed like such a big deal with a baby.  Babies are very portable and easily entertained/ cared for.  It's my 2 year old that is a little more difficult to occupy during grocery shopping trips.  So to us, baby #2 doesn't seem to have changed our life very dramatically... having a toddler seems to impact our decisions and what we do way more than having a second, or small child does.

Friday, June 7, 2013

2 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

Your womb was a warm and cozy environment, and it takes time for your baby to adjust to the various sights, sounds, and sensations of life outside your body. You may not be able to detect much of a personality just yet as your baby spends his time moving in and out of several different states of sleepiness, quiet alertness, and active alertness.

The only way your baby knows to communicate is by crying, but you can communicate with him through your voice and your touch. (He can now recognize your voice and pick it out among others.)

Your baby probably loves to be held, caressed, kissed, stroked, massaged, and carried. He may even make an "ah" sound when he hears your voice or sees your face, and he'll be eager to find you in a crowd.

Elisha is doing great.  He is still sleeping most of the time, with one or two periods of 1-2 hours that he'll stay awake during the day.  He's already naturally settling into a schedule and I am only getting up 1-2 times a night with him.  He's continuing to look and act healthy and I can see his cheeks beginning to fill out indicating that he is getting plenty of nourishment from nursing.  He frequently clasps or rubs his hands together which I think is a developmental skill for a little later down the road, so I would say his motor skills are great based on his age.

This week he's already had his few few trips to playgrounds, parks, and the bayou, but he pretty much slept through all of these visits. 

All of us, including Noah, are thoroughly enjoying this sweet little boy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Baby stuff

Every time I have a friend who finds out they are pregnant with their first child I find myself typing up a bunch of my recommendations for products to use/not use and favorite tips/tricks/advice for a first time mom.  Now that I have a newborn again, and all of this is still fresh in my head, I wanted to collect all of that info hear to pass on to others in the future.

I am no expert on children, I have only had 2 children myself, plus contributing to caring for and raising a few others as my source of employment.  Preferences tend to vary vastly from one mom to next, but this is what worked/works for me and why.

Also, two big factors going into every decision that I make are finances and space in our home.  Within the city of New Orleans, homes are small, we only have two small closets (1 linen and 1 for clothes) in our entire house, so I can't collect a bunch of extra stuff for a baby.  Therefore I limit what I do collect to what I find very useful, but if I had more space a few decisions may be different.  Also, we are very frugal and on a tight budget, so a lot of what I buy is second hand form yard sales and/ or consignment shops... you will not see all of the newest/latest/ trendy/ boutique items on this list.  So someone with a larger budget would probably make very different decisions, and choose some of the top of the line brands (like Bob strollers).

strollers: I highly recommend 3 wheeled strollers for New Orleans, they make some  that even have an infant seat to snap in to make it a travel system, or ours adapts to allow most popular brand infant seats to snap in. I also recommend a stroller that has one solid handle (rather than two separate ones)... it makes it much easier to still push your stroller while holding a baby who no longer wishes to be in the stroller.  I also recommend a stroller with good shocks for the bumpy streets and sidewalks in New Orleans.  I absolutely LOVE our stroller, the Schwinn Tourisimo, it was one of the cheaper ones I could find that had all of the features that were important to me.  We eventually also got a smaller umbrella stroller (you can find these for as little as $12 new) for Noah, and have used it upon a few occasions when we didn't want to bring our big jogging stroller.  As a rule of thumb, especially in New Orleans, I would completely avoid any of the 4 wheeled travel systems.  With Elisha so far, we've started him straight off in our jogging stroller without the infant car seat... the seat reclines back almost flat, plus has good padding, so he does fine being directly in the stroller already.  One more thing I want to note is the difference between a jogging stroller and a jogger.  Joggers, tend to have 3 wheels, but no shocks, and aren't really made for running.  They are great for walking, but if you intend to run you really should have a jogging stroller and not a jogger.  Also, some jogging strollers have fixed front wheels, but I really like the ones that have a front wheel that can swivel, but that can also lock.  You must be able to lock/ have a fixed front wheel in order to run, but steering while walking is much easier on a stroller without the front wheel locked.  The final feature that I also really look for on a stroller is one that has a sun canopy that is movable and not attached at the top/ back.  Since the angle of the sun changes I like to be able to adjust the canopy to keep the child covered no matter what angle the sun is at, and strollers without movable canopies don't have a way to block the sun when you are walking towards it.

thermometers:  thermometers that come in those grooming kits are awful! Get a temporal scanner one (I got ours for about 30 bucks from Target). It is awesome that they work so quickly and you don't have to violate any orifices  I always take my temp before I take his, and mine is always right where it should be, so I'm convinced ours works well!

breastfeeding: this could be a whole post of it's own, but here are a few things that I highly recommend having if you plan to breastfeed;
-disposable or reusable breast pads
-a boppy pillow (totally not a necessity, you could use pillows, but it is so handy/ convenient!)
-nursing bras: sports bras, regular bras, sleep bras (several of each, because you will leak milk onto them and want backups while those are in the wash)
-a breast pump (which you could borrow from a friend, rent from the hospital, or buy used or new)
-lanolin/ Laniosh cream... I used this after every nursing in the beginning with each kid, it works wonders for sore/dry/cracked nipples and this brand is great cause you don't have to wash it off before nursing
-nipple shields: lactation consultants probably wouldn't endorse these so much, but I've used them with both children and have successfully breastfed.  I don't recommend using these for every feeding, or long term, but they do wonders for protecting sore and cracked nipples, making breastfeeding a lot easier and more comfortable in the beginning until you and your baby are fully in the swing of things.  they also help to draw the nipple out, making the latch on process a lot easier for unseasoned nursing moms and babies.

books:  there are only 2 books that I really loved for the 1 year old and younger phases... one is Super Baby Food, I highly recommend this book for anyone who plans to make their own baby food, and/ or anyone who wants the most thorough guide that I've found on what foods you can introduce to kids and when, how many nursings/ formula bottles they should have in a day at each stage (by months), and some sample daily feeding schedules for each age/stage.

I also really enjoyed most aspects of the Babywise book.  This book/ philosophy is not for everyone. The premise is basically an argument for parent directed feeding/ scheduling your baby, as opposed to the child-led/ attachment parenting models.  I think that each philosophy has it's benefits, and some will work better for certain kids/moms/families, but for us, scheduling is definitely the way to go.  I thrive in a scheduled environment, where I can plan my day and know what ot expect, and therefore my children, and our home and family thrive using this model as well.  Flexibility is still key though, as with anything relating to kids, sometimes things work in one season, and not in another, you have to adapt and change as needed based on your own situation.

diapers:  I have found that Huggies diapers do not work so well for boys, and tend to leak, but are great for girls.  Pampers have always been my favorite diaper for small boys.  I used disposable diapers for the first 1-2 months with Noah (and am doing the same with Elisha), but then switched to cloth.  There are many types and styles of cloth diapers these days.  The ones that I use are among the more expensive diapers as far as cloth goes, but still are supposed to save about $2,500 on one child over using disposables.  For me, I was nervous about the whole cloth diapering process and chose the simplest method I could find, even though the diapers are more expensive.  I think the pocket style are the closest in putting on and taking off the child to disposables, so that's what I did to not be overwhelmed with the process.  I used BumGenius diapers for Noah and liked them enough to stick with them for Ellisha.  There's a lot more I could say on cloth diapering, so maybe that will be another post on its own one day.

sleep sack: this is another item that isn't necessary, you can definitely swaddle your infant in blankets, but I found these sleep sacks so much easier to use, especially when I was trying to swaddle a baby at 3 am and wanted to go the quickest route possible.  this isn't the exact brand that I used, I don't have a preference about that, but I linked to give an example of the product.

There's a lot of stuff I left off of here (burp cloths, bibs, pacifiers, grooming products, bath tubs, and so on, these are just the items that I'm strongly opinionated about

Products I don't like

I didn't get a diaper genie/ trash can. Some people love them, but I read a bunch of reviews where people didn't. I just used a regular trash can in the beginning when we did disposables, and since Noah and Elisha were breastfed that was fine cause their diaper didn't really stink anyways. With the diaper genies, you have to buy their specific trash bags, and not only have I heard that they don't really eliminate odors, but the bags get expensive.

Velcro is awful!!!! Noah had velcro bibs that the velcro wore off on very quickly, so it really only holds well for a few months. Plus, he could yank hard and pull the velcro bibs off of himself. Snap bibs rock, but that's just my preference.  I feel the same with cloth diapers, and everything else... always choose snaps/ buttons over velcro if you plan on your items lasting long term, or through multiple children.

All aspirators at stores (sold individually or in a grooming kit) are awful!!!! They don't suck the snot out! The hospital one ROCKS! Take it home, and never loose it, because it's the only good one you'll ever find.

You don't need baby wash and shampoo, just use the baby wash for their hair, it's one less bottle and product lying around!

Some people like changing tables, I find it A LOT more practical to just stick a changing pad on top of a waist high dresser... it reduces pieces of furniture, and a dresser is a lot more useful for storage than a changing table.

I hope this information is helpful to new moms-to-be.  I know that the sea of what I needed to know and be prepared for seemed so overwhelming when it was uncharted territory, but really a lot of it will come naturally, and it's not as complicated as it seems.  God created and chose you specifically to be the parent for your child and there is no one better for that job!  You were made for this!