Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weekend in Minnesota

We packed up the car and headed out last weekend, to enjoy a little family time together in the last few days before I have to go back to work.  Since it would be our first time traveling with Mason, we didn't want to go too far from home, so we quickly settled on a weekend in Minneapolis, which is only around 4 hours away.  An added bonus is that we can also see my brother Matt while we are up there, and Mason can spend time with his uncle.
Let me just say that the actual drive with a baby was cake, but man, packing for a little one is quite the undertaking. We packed the stroller, the pack and play, blankets, burp rags, so many clothes, and so many diapers.  And we needed it all! I remember thinking to myself when I saw how many diapers got packed that we would have plenty for a couple of days away.  I swear we took maybe 40.  We came home with 6.
Anyway, Mason traveled like a champ.  We left around 9:00 am on Saturday morning, right after a feeding.  He slept peacefully until we were about 10 minutes from our hotel.
Didn't I have a great view from the back seat?  Well, honestly I rode in the front seat pretty much the entire way.  I'm not that paranoid.  Only a little.
We got settled, fed the baby, and then went to meet Matt for a late lunch at the restaurant where he works.  After filling our bellies, we proceeded on to the second most important part of the trip - shopping.  As much as I love to shop, this really was necessary.  I am going back to work in a few days and I'm not quite back to my pre-baby body yet, so getting some clothes that didn't make me look like a stuffed sausage was necessary.  Fortunately all three boys hung in there with me, and I am proud to report mission accomplished.  We went back to the hotel and ordered in for dinner, but not before giving Mason his first dip in a swimming pool.
He loved it!  And I loved it, too.  When the big boys were done with the pool and back in the hot tub, I captured the cutest pictures of my little man (if I do say so myself).  He was on my lap, so I snapped a few pictures by turning my wrist and not even aiming.  And some turned out.
Little guy was trying to suck his thumb.  Adorbs!  We spent some more time with Matt, did lots more shopping including a visit to everyone's favorite, IKEA.  I got a couple frames that I needed for a project I'll share soon, and Byron picked us out a new duvet cover.  Maybe that will inspire a whole new look for our bedroom!  We also talked a lot about what we would do if we came back when the kid(s) were older.  There isn't really any use planning excursions for a two month old, but neither Byron and I can wait till the day when shopping trips become trips to the zoo and the museum and the water park.  All in all, we had a great and relaxing time, enjoyed visiting my brother, and got all shopped out.  I would call our first trip as a family of three a success, and look forward to many more in the future.  I'm already planning out next year's summer vacation, and I'm so excited I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Tree for Mason

I can't remember when I started thinking this, but somewhere along the line I got it in my head that I wanted to do something that would celebrate the birth of my babies (I'm talking current and future, here).  Okay, when I wrote that sentence I realized that this could mean almost anything and that probably every current and future parent thinks the same way.  Sometimes I'm obvious.  Okay, but what I really meant, was a little something more permanent.  I would keep you in suspense, but I think the post title gives it away.  I'm talking about a tree.  This may be a little sentimental, but I think it is so cool to have a living, growing thing that can grow and change with my baby.  And someday, he'll know that the tree is just for him.  And someday, he'll probably climb it, fall out of it, and end up with a broken arm, but it will still be his tree full of his memories.
Byron agreed fairly quickly, as our backyard is a pretty blank slate and could use a little interest, but what tree do we plant?  Last fall, when I was still working additional jobs, we took a trip up to Minnesota with the band for a competition. They had the most beautiful yellow trees that had small, umbrella shaped leaves.  I don't usually have feelings like this, but I think I really fell in love with the tree.  I actually took a leaf home with me and then googled around to figure out what it was.  Turns out it was a ginkgo tree, which I had never actually heard of before.  The only stipulation that Byron had placed on me was that he didn't want a tree so big that it would cause foundation problems.  It turns out that this tree is pretty slow growing and will take about 70 years to reach maturity, so if foundation problems ever occur, we probably won't be alive to deal with them.  So he agreed that we could get the ginkgo (though we had it planted plenty of distance from the house to be safe).
So off to Earl May, where we happened to have a gift card, to see if they had the tree, and fortunately they did.  They were even running a planting special.  Score!  We paid for the tree, they took care of locating the power lines (a step that had completely not occurred to me) and a few weeks later, our tree is in the ground.  I would say Mason loves it, but since he's still pretty clueless, I'll just say that his mama sure does!
This is the before picture.  Side note:  I love my neighbors but I don't particularly love their fence.
Here is the during picture.  I had a sleeping baby and a barking puppy, so it's the best I could get.
And now here is my glorious new view off our back porch.  I mean, it has the potential to be glorious.  Right now it's just cute.
This is the view from the neighbor's yard looking back at our house.  See how bland our backyard is?  We have plans, my friends, big plans.  They are reserved for the future.
Below are the leaves that I just find adorable.  It is true that they turn the most beautiful golden yellow shade when they turn, but I have heard that all the leaves fall within a day.  That could be interesting, but nonetheless, I love Mason's tree!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's For Dinner

Here we are, half way through September, and I can hardly believe it.  The time is flying!  I am really enjoying the fall weather that we have been having.  I love how crisp the air is, and to be honest, I really enjoy wearing polar fleece!  So sue me.  I just like to be cozy.  I can also see the day fast approaching where I have to go back to work.  I have very much enjoyed my time home with Mason, and if I could stay home with him forever, I definitely would, but unfortunately that's just not feasible at this time, so back to work I go.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job.  I just love my baby more!
In these last few days of being home, I've been trying to clean rooms, finish projects, organize clutter, and just generally prepare myself for the transition back to a more strict schedule.  So I just don't have a whole lot of interesting updates to share.  To prevent this space from going stagnant, I thought I would give you a little update on how my meal planning for the month is going.  It was one of my goals for September, if you remember.  The official verdict is so far, so good.
For week one, I planned four meals:  Asian Grilled Chicken, Island Porkchops (adapted from the P90X nutrition plan), Honey Mustard and Pineapple Grilled Chicken sandwiches, and a Ham & Cheese calzone.  All recipes get an astounding thumbs up.  They were all new recipes, too.  The Asian Grilled Chicken was so yummy (and healthy!) that I am planning to make it again in week three.  I highly highly recommend it.
But I quickly realized that four meals is not enough.  Even if we can eat leftovers one night, we eat at home so much, and the man has a healthy appetite, that four meals usually leaves us starving by the weekend.  So for week two, I increased my plan to five meals:  Breakfast Burritos, Waffles with Berries & Whipped Cream, Ham and Baked Potatoes, Chili, and Turkey & White Bean Enchiladas (side note:  due to a very unfortunate experience, this household does NOT eat black beans, so white beans have been substituted).  So far, we have eaten everything but the enchiladas, which I'll be making Friday or Saturday.  The good things about this week were that three of the "recipes" were actually not recipes.  I just cooked everything or threw in the ingredients I wanted/had on hand.  The other nights I followed the recipes.
For week three, I am still in the planning process, but so far we are having spaghetti and Asian Grilled Chicken.  Since I usually grocery shop on the weekends, I have a few days to come up with three or four more ideas.
Overall, it really helps to put the extra effort into planning out our meals, and I'm going to do my best to continue.  Not only do I not have to worry about what to make for dinner, but it honestly helps us save a little money at the grocery store as well.  Since I'm planning meals, I have to make a list, and when I have a good list, I am more likely to stick to it.  On the other hand, we can still be flexible so that if we feel like going out one night or plans change, we can still easily adapt.  I'm really hoping to continue the more formal meal planning for us.  And I'm sure I'll be back with another progress report as I learn additional tips along the way!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Happy Labor Day, everyone!  I hope you had the chance to do something fun.  We stuck around the house for most of the weekend, but on Monday, I managed to drag the family out to do something I had been meaning to do for a long time now - to visit the downtown Sculpture Garden.
Basically, you just walk around the park looking at the sculptures.  I'm not quite sure what to say about them all, so I'll just share pictures of some of my favorites.
The "Letter Man" for lack of a better name is my favorite.  It was fun to look at and to photograph.  There are so many project ideas floating around in my head after looking at this thing!
After taking in all the sculptures, we enjoyed a little treat from Starbucks and then headed home.  Altogether our little excursion probably only took us an hour and a half, and yes, Mason slept through the whole thing, but it is at least a start to many more family excursions to come.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Goals

In some ways, this past month felt pretty long, and in other ways, it has flown by.  I went from being the mother of a two week old to having an almost seven week old.  Things changed by leaps and bounds in that regard.  There were some days that I felt bursts of energy and dreamed up projects for myself.  Other days, I barely kept my head on straight.  But now that August has come to a close, I did find that I was able to accomplish a few of my goals.
1.  Read at least 50 pages.  Done!  I don't have an exact count, but I think I pretty close to tripled that.
2.  Finish organizing Mason's nursery.
  Done!  There are no more piles of clothes sitting around or blankets strewn all over the floor.  Although I still have some plans for his room, I'd say he has the nicest space in the house right now. Well, it has the least amount of clutter, that's for sure.
Thanks to a commenter, the pants are in fact now folded on the hangers with the matching outfits, and pants that do not match outfits are put away in a drawer.  It's working so far.
3.  Cross two items off my 30 before 30 list.  I crossed off one item.  So there's progress, just not quite as much as I would have liked.  If it's any consolation, several items on my list have been started, so hopefully next month I'll gain some momentum.
My days at home with Mason have gotten a little bit easier, so I'm going to increase my goals by a few more this month. Here's what I've set my mind to accomplish.
1.  Read 50 pages.  This has been a good goal and I want to keep doing it until I finish the second book on my 30 before 30 list.
2.  Lose 5 pounds of baby weight.  It isn't just dropping off anymore - I'm starting to have to work at it.  This means watching what I eat and taking lots of walks with Mason & Minnie during the day.  Oh yeah, and starting to do real workouts.  I do have to go back to work next month, and I'd like most of my clothes to fit.
3.  Cross three items off my 30 before 30 list.
4.  Create meal plans for at least 4 meals each week.  If I can get in the pattern now, this will really help when I go back to work next month.
5.  Piece the top of Mason's quilt.