The Big 3-0!

I’m back! The blog was down for about a month! Luckily my web guru was able to get it up and running again (thanks Reggie!!). Sorry for those of you looking for specific posts! Gladly, we’re back in action!

This past Friday was my 30th birthday! I can’t believe I’m 30! I don’t feel a day over 21, although I’m a tad more tired and my joints crack and ache pretty much all the time. Ok, so maybe I do feel 30!

This weekend was the most amazing celebration! Turner stayed at my mom’s house for the weekend while Stewart, Gracie, and I stayed at a beach house on Folly Beach.

I’m sure you’re wondering why we brought Gracie and not Turner. Well, we would have sent them both to Gigi’s house, but the thought of packing enough breast milk and needing to pump all weekend was enough to put me over the edge. So it was much easier to bring her along. She’s so easy going that we still had a nice quiet staycation!

Friday was spent unpacking, grocery shopping, and getting settled. Stewart planned a little party for me at the house Saturday night. I came up with a really easy menu so that I could enjoy myself and not spend the day cooking. I put a huge brisket in the crock pot Saturday morning (recipe HERE) for pulled brisket tacos. While that cooked, we bundled up and walked around Charleston to hit my favorite coffee shop, Kudu.

When we got home, we got everything ready for the party! The kitchen in this house was perfect for a gathering. It had an open layout with a long kitchen island which was great for the food. I put all the “fixins” out so people could create their own tacos. I also made a big thing of baked beans and Spanish rice. For dessert, we had key lime cupcakes. And, of course, the dirty martini was the pièce de résistance!

I had SUCH a fun night. We laughed hard, drank too much (and by too much I mean I had two and a half drinks, which was too much), and ate a lot. Thanks to all who celebrated with me! And thanks to Stewart for planning it!

A Look Back on 2015

Another year is in the books! This has been the best yet! Stew and I spent our New Year’s Eve going out on a date (thanks, Mom) and reflecting on this journey called life. We got married, bought a house, had a son, beat cancer, bought a business, and had a daughter. Wow!

In 2015…

 we got pregnant…

Turner transitioned to a toddler room and was potty trained…

Turner started school two days a week…

Our sweet little Gracie was born and was absolutely perfect…

Turner turned 3!!!

owned our business for a full year!

And we’ve only just begun! We are excited for what our future holds. Thanks for being a part of our family and sharing our joy, tears, and parenthood! Happy New Year!

Threenager…. It Does Exist!

I’ve thought long and hard about how to write this blog post so it doesn’t come across as complaining. But the struggle is real, Friends. Turner didn’t have the “terrible twos” but we are definitely entering the threenager stage.

For those of you who know Turner, you may be thinking that it’s not possible! He’s such a sweet kid! And that’s all true. And I’m sure it could be worse. But some days it’s as if an alien takes over my sweet child. “Turner clean up your toys” “I don’t clean up toys”. “Turner go pee pee” “I don’t go pee pee” “Turner if you stand up on the couch one more time you will go to time out”. Aaaaaand he stands up on the couch 3 seconds later. “Turner do you want oatmeal for breakfast?” “YEA”. Oatmeal served. “Nooooo I want a waffle!!!” So on top of creating, bearing and nurturing a child, a prerequisite for becoming a mom is MIND READER. Sorry, no one told me that one. Exhausting.

Nights are the best. That nasty alien that held Turner captive all day returns my baby right at bedtime. We snuggle, pray, sing songs, and talk about what a great day we’ll have tomorrow and that Turner’s going to listen to Mommy and Daddy. “Yes, Mama”. Within 5 minutes of him waking up, the alien is back.

And then we have a moment where Turner picks up my bible and starts reading aloud while I fix his lunch, “His name is Duncan. His name is Keaton. His name is Baby Jesus. I think there’s no pictures in dis book. I think we’re done here. I play with McQueen”. And I smile to myself because he really is so stinkin’ cute!

My mom always said, “Just wait till you’re a parent. You’ll understand”. And if he’s anything like me, I should quit while I’m ahead. I get it’s a part of their development bla bla bla, but some days I really want to give up.

I look at Gracie, who is so innocent. Surely she will be the exception, right?! HA! She stares at me as if to say, “Silly Mommy. Just wait…”

I write this not to complain, but to assure myself that there are other moms that feel this way!! I loooove being a mom. I love my babies. But, man, sometimes I feel defeated! Am I alone in this?! What tips/tricks have worked on your kiddos?!

Our Christmas

Christmas is, hands down, my favorite holiday! I love how cozy and family centered it is. I especially love teaching Turner about Jesus. And it was quite amazing that he knew about the Christmas story before I even taught him! He must have learned that at school.

This year was the most exciting yet. Turner really got into the whole “Santa” thing. We weren’t too crazy about the idea of Santa, but we decided to throw him in the mix just a little bit. Honestly, I just wanted to leave cookies out for Santa, because it was such a magical part of my childhood!

Turner watched the Polar Express every day for a week, which really helped get him in the mood. He even started reciting lines from the movie when he would play with his trains. So cute!

On Christmas Eve, we went to my grandparents’ house for an early dinner. Sweet little Gracie just went with the flow through all of the festivities!

Turner was on 10, no actually 11, the whole time! He was on a sugar and present high. Who could blame him! I finally lassoed him in for a pic with Stew and my brother. This was probably the only minute that he sat still the whole night.

The night ended in a meltdown (story of my life lately) because Turner didn’t want to leave. We had to bribe him with putting cookies out for Santa. He ran to the car like lightning after that!

I always love Christmas Eve night. There’s something about the silence, twinkling lights, and gifts under the tree that really are so beautiful. This is the first year that Stew and I played Santa and put the gifts out after the kids were in bed. I was giddy with excitement! There’s a song by the Oak Ridge Boys that I’ve been listening to my whole life. It sums up Christmas eve perfectly! The lyrics are, “I’ll turn the lights down and set the tree aglow. You wrap the presents and trim the bow and say you’ll love me, for another year. The stockings have been hung, the carols have been sung. We’re all alone now, happy Christmas eve”.

On Christmas morning, we woke up and went downstairs to see what Santa brought! Turner seemed surprised that there were presents under the tree. It’s almost as if he forgot overnight! But he was super excited once he saw them. Stew’s parents got him an amazing train table (which we definitely should have set up the night before…fail), and we got him a life sized excavator (which we also should have assembled the night before)! Poor Turner just wanted to play. But we had, what felt like, hours of assembling to do! Sorry, buddy.

After naps, we got the kids dressed and headed to Gigi’s house for supper!

We had so much fun celebrating Christmas with our family! The Lord has blessed us more than words will ever do justice. And we are thankful every day! “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

As we start this new year, we are excited to see where life takes us! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

 

Christmas Cookies Everywhere!

Every year, my mom, grandma and I get together to bake Christmas cookies! Turner’s been a part of it since he was born. HERE is my post from last year. It’s so cool to see how our traditions evolve over the years.  Each year gets more fun since Turner’s able to help and is SO excited about Christmas!

This year was the best by far because Gracie was a part of the fun! Here’s a shot of my grandmother holding the two babes. Warms me heart and soul!

We usually do the same cookies each year. We have some really special recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Some of our staples are thumbprints, spritz, pecan balls, gingerbread cookies, and my great-grandmother’s Italian Prune Cookies.

My favorite is THIS gingerbread cookie recipe. They have the perfect amount of spice and chewiness. In fact, they inspired me to host a cookie exchange, because they’re so delicious that I wanted to share!

Last night, I had a few girlfriends over for my first cookie exchange. The night turned into more of a cookies and cocktails gathering, and it was SO much fun! Each person brought enough cookies for everyone to taste and a goody bag to send home! We drank wine, had some finger foods, and tasted some delicious cookies! I even made a spiked hot chocolate bar!

It was a night of letting loose and laughing with girls I love! If you’ve never done it, I definitely recommend it. There are definitely some great ideas on Pinterest, but I kept it easy and low key. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This is the first Christmas that we’ll play Santa. I can’t even WAIT to share Turner’s excitement in the coming days. This has been the most magical Christmas season yet! I hope you have the merriest Christmas too!

3 Month Milestones and Baby Wise Schedule

I can’t believe Gracie is 3 months old!!! We were just reminiscing about the day she was born. Such sweet memories! I loved looking back on Turner’s milestones, so I wanted to do the same for Gracie. It’s so easy to forget what they do in the beginning! So here we go!

At 3 months she is…

    • Batting at toys
    • Cooing
    • Smiling
    • Drooling a ton
    • Almost rolling over
    • Sleeping until 6:30am
    • Doing major ab workouts (see video)

Work it out from Emily on Vimeo.

As far as our schedule goes, we follow the Baby Wise syle. HERE is my “sleep training” post from when Turner was a baby 3 years ago. And HERE is my most recent “sleep training” post from when Gracie was born. I don’t even think of it as sleep training, because it sounds so harsh. I really just got in the habit of putting Gracie down when I knew she was sleepy right from the beginning. It evolved into a 3 hour “wake, feed, change” cycle as you’ll read in my post linked above. Now our days are pretty predictable, give or take 30 minutes! So this is what our schedule looks like:

      • 6:30am Feed, Change, Play (read, play gym, tummy time, snuggle). I always pump after this feeding because it’s the most convenient time of the day and I have the most milk.
      • 8am nap
      • 10am Feed, Change, Play
      • 11am nap
      • 1pm Feed, Change, Play
      • 2pm nap
      • 4pm Feed, Change, Play
      • 7 bath time with Gracie and Turner
      • 7:30 Feed and down for the night
      • 10pm Dream Feed (I don’t wake her. Stew gives her a 3 oz pumped bottle. If I nursed her, she would sleep and not get a good feeding).

Sometimes our morning wake up time varies. For instance, if she wakes up before 6, I’ll feed her again around 7:30 and then get back on schedule for the 10:00 feeding. Lately she’s been sleeping until 6:30, so that morning chunk of time is a bit longer than the rest of the day. We just take each day as it comes!

A lot of questions that have come up are answered HERE. One that especially comes to mind is “Does she actually sleep for two hours?” And the answer is NO. She takes a few minutes to fall asleep. And if she wakes up early, we just play until it’s time for her next feeding. She’s usually quite happy when I get her from a nap, so she doesn’t mind doing a little squeaky talk with Momma!

Weekend of Christmas

There’s something unnatural about celebrating Christmas when it’s 80 degrees out, but we are trying our darndest! We only have one more weekend before the Big Day, so we need to fit in some festivities! Cue some Nat King Cole and pour the Egg Nog!

At any rate, we lined up a few fun things to do this weekend. We really thought long and hard about the whole “Santa” thing when Turner was born. Did we want to teach him about Santa? Will he feel betrayed when he discovers we’d been lying to him all these years? How about the real meaning of Christmas? Do we teach him about the birth of Jesus and avoid the commercial side of the holiday? I know, lots of thoughts. Ultimately, we decided to find a balance. We would talk about Santa but not make it all about gifts. After all, there is something so magical when children believe in Santa. Besides, we need to leave cookies and carrots out on Christmas Eve for Santa and his reindeer!

On Saturday morning, we woke up, stayed in our PJs, watched The Polar Express and ate pancakes. I mean, does it get any better than that (can we pause to notice how old Turner looks?! What happened to my little baby!)??

Gracie woke up around 10 for her feeding. So after we finished up, we walked down the street to our neighborhood clubhouse where they had “Santa’s Workshop” set up.

It was actually really cute. They had an extremely fake Santa sitting in front of the tree and little craft stations where kids could create ornaments. This was the first time Turner sat on Santa’s lap so he didn’t really get it. When Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he started telling him all about seeing Gigi this weekend. I’m sure that’s not what Santa was goin’ for. And once he realized there was chocolate in that goody bag, forget it! Gracie wasn’t impressed either. Sorry, Santa! Maybe next year.

On Sunday, we had our Christmas concert at church which really got me in the Christmas spirit! My mom and stepdad came with us. Turner did pretty good. It was a 2 hour concert and he lasted until the last song when he and Paw Paw had to go run a few laps in the hallway. But the music was absolutely amazing. Our choir, orchestra, and worship band were joined by one of the local gospel choirs, The Lowcountry Voices. Talk about feeling the Holy Spirit! There wasn’t a dry eye in the room! Every single person was on their feet, clapping! What an amazing celebration of Christmas!

Luckily, we have a few more days to fit in some holiday cheer! This is definitely the most magical time of year. I hope Turner and Gracie feel it too! Merry (almost) Christmas!

The Little Gingerbread House That Could(n’t)

 

We are in full on Christmas mode over here. Actually, we have been for a few weeks now. I feel like once December hits, the month flies by, so we like to start celebrating as early as possible! We decorated our tree, hung the stockings and did a little hot chocolate bar on our coffee nook (my personal favorite)!

At one of my recent visits to the grocery store, they had the gingerbread house kits on sale. I just had to get one! I grew up making them every year with my brother. But this would be the first year we built one as a family! I knew Turner would be so excited.

Excited he was! Little did I know, it would turn into a hot mess. I assembled the house while swatting his hands from the candy. And since I built the house with him sitting there, we obviously had to decorate it at that moment, because what 3 year old wants to sit around and let a gingerbread house dry?? It turned out beautiful….for about 30 seconds.

Turner kept trying to fix the pieces that fell over. He was only upset for a few minutes. That is, until he realized his time would be better spent eating all of the candy that was rolling off the roof.

I learned some things along the way 1.) Build the house and let it dry before putting candy on 2.) Put candy in bowls instead of my slanted table where they continually rolled off. And 3.) Choose a  time when Gracie’s not in need of being fed so she doesn’t cry the entire time.

Hope your gingerbread houses turned out better than ours!

Newborns Are Scary

Sure they’re tiny and squishy and don’t say much. But newborns are scary, especially the first time around!

My neighbor just had a beautiful baby girl. I texted her and asked when I could drop some dinner (and breakfast and snacks) off. She seemed so grateful! How could I not bring her dinner!? Honestly, when you have a newborn, you don’t know your head from your tail! It’s a blur of crying (mom and baby alike), sleeping, changing diapers, and nursing! The last thing you want to do is figure out what to cook and actually COOK! It’s exhausting and emotionally draining. But, you’re not alone! Every mom has gone through it. There’s a light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel!

When Turner (my first) was born, I was petrified! I was scared to let him cry, scared to wake him up, scared that I would destroy his soul by doing something wrong. He was born at the end of November, so it got dark early. I got major anxiety as the sun went down because I didn’t know what was in store for the night ahead. I was comforted by reading blogs and books about “sleep training“, knowing that, one day, my child would sleep and life would go back to normal!

So, while newborns are scary, it is so temporary! Once the first few weeks go by, you accept it as your new “norm” and you’re at peace with your new routine. For me, 5 weeks was the magic number. That’s when we had somewhat of a routine down. We were on a solid 3 hour “wake, change, feed” cycle during the day, and we started the bath at night. And, with Gracie, each week that goes by reveals a little more of her personality. Once Baby smiles back at you, it makes all of your hard work worth it (yes that’s her big tongue smile)!

Here are a few things that helped me with both kids during the newborn phase:

1. I started pumping a week after they were born to store up milk for bottles. I introduced a bottle at 2 weeks (ask your pediatrician) as they were definitely not having trouble nursing, so I knew there would be no confusion. This let me go out by myself, go out on a date with Stew, or use a bottle for one of the middle of the night feedings so I could get some extra sleep.

2. I reminded myself constantly that “this is temporary”! Each week that would go by was a week closer to normal.

3. I delegated tasks (much easier the second time around). Hubby prepped dinner while I fed the baby. Mom would help with cleaning up the house/dishes/etc. I hired a cleaner once a month since that last thing I wanted to do was clean!

4. I did things for myself (also easier the second time). With Turner I had trouble napping or taking a bath because I would hear him cry. But, guess what! He’d cry whether I was there or not. So, take it from me….Dad’s got this! Take a bath, paint your nails, turn up the music. Dare I say….go out to Starbucks by yourself and talk to other humans your age! You’re not the only one holding the pieces together.

5. I went out with Baby. Target was my favorite newborn hot spot. I’ll admit, I was nervous to get caught in the store with a screaming baby. But the worst that happens is I go to the car and nurse for a few minutes! Life goes on and you get some retail therapy!

To all you moms out there, new or seasoned, parents are amazing (I was going to say “women” but Stew is quite awesome so I can’t take all the credit)! We are given this little human that we are responsible for nurturing and helping grow! What a responsibility. It’s the most beautiful and difficult task out there. But it is such a gift! Before we know it, our little 7 pounders are almost as big as we are! So, take a deep breath (cry if you need to). You’ve got this!

Thanksgiving and Christmas Decorating!

 I won’t lie to you. I’ve actually had a few Christmas decorations up since the week before Thanksgiving. Ok, fine! I put them up the day after Turner’s birthday party (the 15th). But, we weren’t hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I figured I could cheat a little! There’s nothing I love more than white lights twinkling all over the house! I’ll blame Turner. He’s been asking to get a tree since Halloween! Who am I to spoil a child’s hopes and dreams??

So, Thanksgiving morning, after we drank our coffee, we went downstairs to decorate the tree! I actually liked doing that. It may be our new tradition!

My mom hosted Thanksgiving this year. She lives about 45 minutes away, so we put the kids down a little early for their naps. When they woke up, we got them dolled up and hit the road! I’ve been so excited to put Gracie in her first holiday dress!

It turned out to be a gorgeous day. It was about 70 during the day and dropped down a bit in the afternoon. My mom set dinner up outside. It was beautiful, and the food was equally as wonderful!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m so excited for this holiday season. It seems to get better and better (and a little more hectic) each year!