Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Week

Our Christmas lasted all week this year with celebrations in Vernon and Arlington - our tour of Texas! I have a ton of pictures to go through and will post those later, but here are the highlights of our week:

Friday (December 19th)
Drove to Vernon from San Antonio, arriving that evening.

Saturday
Christmas with my family. Granddaddy, Nana, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Kerbow, David, Penelope, and Jonathan were there for opening presents. Claire's favorite gift was her Chicco Music and Play table from Granddaddy and Nana - it was a big hit! My cousin Sharon, her husband Mike, and my uncle Pruitt joined us for lunch.

Sunday
Attended church, and Claire slept through the entire service in Nana's arms. We relaxed that afternoon and rented a movie that evening - "The Dark Knight."

Monday
Drove to Ma & Bob's in Arlington and made a couple of stops to stock up on supplies - humidifier, more cereal, more formula, etc.

Tuesday
Drove to Dallas to try to see Santa at NorthPark - what a fiasco! I knew that we needed to get there early to get a number. We arrived around 9:30 am and found out that we would be #163. The guy told us that they were calling for #120 around 7:30 pm the day before. Decided that we would be happy with an Arlington Santa. :) Did a little shopping, then had lunch at Hattie's with two of Robert's friends from high school, Ashley & John, and Ashley's boyfriend Chris. Finished up our Christmas shopping and bought a present for ourselves with some of our Christmas money - a Sony HandyCam.

Wednesday - Christmas Eve
Went to see Santa at the Parks Mall in Arlington, and only waited in line for 15 minutes. Take that, NorthPark! The "official" picture was a happy one:

Here's the picture with our camera about 5 seconds later:


So, we got a good, smiling picture along with the more typical "crying baby with Santa" picture. Success! :)

After Santa, Robert dropped me off at a nail salon for a pedicure and some R&R while he and Claire visited Ashley's family. We visited Grandmommy and Granddad and attended the Christmas Eve service at First UMC of Arlington. It was beautiful. Claire slept through the first half and needed to leave during the sermon, but we were able to make it back to the sanctuary for communion. That evening we went back to Ma & Bob's where the rest of the family was beginning to arrive.

Thursday - Christmas Day
Christmas with Ma, Bob, uncle Lee, Ashlee, Mike, uncle Clark, Gayle and Tom. Claire's favorite toys were her stacking rings and Daddy's new basketball. Discovered Claire's seventh (!) tooth.

Friday
Relaxed with family, then headed to Fort Worth for the traditional day after Christmas dinner at Joe T. Garcia's. Before dinner, Robert, Claire and I checked out a fabric store that I'd heard about - Cabbage Rose Quilting. They had so many fun fabrics that most fabric stores don't carry - much more variety and a lot more modern and fun prints. Even Robert was impressed. We decided that we'll have to come back after I have some specific projects in mind.

After the fabric extravaganza, we met up with the rest of the family to see the nativity artwork at the Kimbell before our dinner at Joe T.'s.

Saturday
Home! It was wonderful to see everyone, and we enjoyed visiting and relaxing with family and friends, but it was nice to be back home and sleep in our own beds. Unpacked, went through stacks of mail, and just enjoyed some time together before starting back to work the next week.

Coming soon: Pictures from our trip, and Mommy's new toy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Updates to come...

We've been out of town since Friday for family Christmas celebrations and I haven't had time to update the blog. I'm planning to do a nice long update this weekend after we get back home. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Homemade Baby Food

I've been planning to do this post for awhile now and even planned ahead and took photos during the process...six weeks ago. So, Claire is a little bigger now, but the process is still pretty much the same!

While I was pregnant I started thinking about making baby food rather than buying jarred. I really wanted to try to stick to organic food as much as possible (and practical), and I liked the idea of being able to control exactly what was going into her food. I also heard that making your own food makes it easier later on to introduce babies to table food since they're already used to the flavors of homemade food. Finally - it's cheaper. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to stick to it, but so far I've been pleasantly surprised at how simple the process is and how little time it takes.

Here's my routine:

Step One: Choose the food item. The photos were taken the week we introduced peas. I've found in some cases frozen foods work as well as fresh, so I bought some organic frozen peas.



Step Two: Cook the food (skip this step for foods like bananas, avocados, etc.). I usually steam the vegetables on the stove-top, but these had a microwave steamer bag. Even faster!

Step Three: Put the food into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.


Step Four: Using the super awesome Vita-Mix (or a regular blender or food processor), puree to desired consistency, adding water as necessary.


Step Five: Pour puree into an ice cube tray, reserving one portion for the next meal. Freeze cubes for next time.


Step Six: The taste test - looks like this one was a hit!


Since we're only introducing new foods once or twice a week, I usually just pick one day to make food. Everything makes multiple portions, and it's so easy to thaw a couple of frozen cubes every day for that evening's dinner. I've made butternut squash, sweet potato, peas, green beans, broccoli, corn, bananas, and avocado. I did decide to give her jarred carrots (Earth's Best) - apparently it's actually healthier to give her the jarred version as it has the nitrates removed. We've also fed her Earth's Best when traveling. I think it's a good option (organic, no additives, actually tastes good), but making your own is definitely cheaper. If you have any questions, let me know!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend Update x2

I've gotten really behind due to this new job thing...

Last weekend we took Claire to her first parade. We looked at the SA calendar of events and found out that there was a festival in Boerne complete with an evening Christmas parade. Boerne is only about 30 minutes away, so we decided to check it out. The parade turned out to be a much bigger even than we expected - the main street was packed with people. We found a good spot, and Claire was entertained by all of the lights, music, and people. It was next to impossible to get her to look at the camera - she just wanted to stare at the parade. We had a good time and will probably plan to attend again next year. We also decided that we need to make another trip to Boerne when it's not so crowded. The main street reminded us of Fredericksburg with several interesting shops and restaurants. Glad to find a fun place so nearby!





My first full week of work passed by pretty uneventfully. Things are slow since it's near the end of the year, but it's nice to have time to learn policies, procedures, new programs, etc. before it gets busy. There was only one day of tears (mine!), but I think we'll all get used to the new situation and everything will work out just fine.
This weekend has been a blur of marking things off of to-do lists and a quick trip to Gruene today for lunch at the Grist Mill - soooo good! The house is (almost) clean, Christmas cards are (almost) ready to go out, most of the Christmas shopping is done, and we now are ready to start wrapping presents. We're leaving on Friday to celebrate Christmas with my family - can't believe it's already so close!

Claire at Eight Months

Our beautiful, happy, silly girl is another month old!



At 8 months Claire is:
  • Sleeping about 10 - 11 hours at night, usually going to bed between 7:30 and 8:30 pm and getting up anywhere between 6 and 7:30 am. She's not napping as much, but usually totals about 2-3 hours in naps every day.
  • Eating solid foods twice a day. She's finally up to 2 oz. of cereal mixed with 2 oz. of formula or juice every morning and is eating 2-3 oz. of food at dinner. She's had butternut squash, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, green beans, broccoli, avocado, banana, mango, prunes, and corn. So far she likes everything she's tried except for broccoli. Favorites are squash, sweet potatoes, corn, peas with carrots, and avocado with banana.
  • Starting to eat finger foods. She's had sweet potato puffs, and while most of the time they don't quite make it into her mouth, they keep her busy for a few extra minutes. Tonight she tried Baby MumMums (rice husks) for the first time - big hit.

  • Drinking about 24 oz. of formula everyday (4-5 bottles).
  • Sitting in highchairs and grocery carts rather than staying in her car seat.
  • Curious about everything. She loves to touch different textures and is especially mesmerized by my hair and my cross necklace - ouch! :)
  • Chewing on whatever she can get into her mouth with her 6 (!) teeth. You can see 5 of them in this picture:

  • Not that interested in crawling yet, as she's hanging on to her aversion towards being on her belly. Sitting is so much more fun!
  • Still bouncing in her Jumperoo like a mad woman. Her new favorite place is the doorway between our closet in bathroom, which is really nice since it keeps her happy while we're getting ready in the mornings.
  • Standing easily when holding on to Mommy or Daddy's fingers. She likes walking practice with Daddy.
  • Enjoying bath time, especially when she has a cup to play with.


  • Enjoying walks even more now that Mommy finally started turning the stroller seat to face out to the world.
  • Babbling - lots of "buh, buh, buh," "muh, muh, muh," and "um-baa, um-baa, um-baa."
  • Still pretty tiny, mostly wearing clothes in 3-6 month sizes.
  • Really healthy - we haven't had any sick visits to the pediatrician since before we moved to SA.
  • Shy around strangers, but warms up quickly.

I know there's more, but this is all I can think of right now!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Claire's Christmas List

We were doing so good on the weekly chair pictures until last week - I forgot to take one before we left town. One of the Thanksgiving pictures will have to suffice. Here is her 34 week picture:



I loved this one because it reminded me of the first ones we took where we had to prop her head against the arm rest, like this one when she was one week old.


Several of you have asked me what Claire wants for Christmas, so here is her list. Items in green are links to examples. If you would like to speak for something, leave a comment or send me an e-mail and I will update the list to indicate that it is taken.

...updated 12/7 at 8:45 am

  • Music & Play Table (spoken for!)
  • Fisher Price Stride to Ride Lion (spoken for!)
  • Wooden bead maze (like this or this)
  • Stacking rings (lots of options - I think she'd like one like this) (spoken for!)
  • Shape sorter toy
  • Inflatable duck tub (for travel and bathing in the regular tub) (spoken for!)
  • Bath toys (stacking cups, squirters, etc.)
  • Clothes - I think we're good on winter clothes (it doesn't get very cold here), but she could use spring/summer clothes in 6-9 month or 9-12 month sizes.
  • CDs - Jack Johnson "Curious George" and Raffi "Singable Songs For Young Children" and "Baby Beluga"
  • Bibs - Can never have too many bibs
  • Shoes - Robeez, MiniStar, or PediPeds in size 6-12 months or larger
  • Books - She has several of the classics (Pat the Bunny, Good Night Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, Dr. Seuss), but we could always use more books. I know that the board books by Sandra Boynton are supposed to be good, and we also like the "Lyle the Crocodile" books (House on East 88th Street, "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile")
  • Gift cards for Babies R Us (for just about anything) or to Crazy 8, Baby Gap, Gymboree, or Children's Place (for clothes)

Also, if you need ideas for me or Robert, just e-mail us. :) Thanks!

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Catch-Up Post

We have quite a few things to catch up on since my last post, so I'm going to try to remember everything, complete with lots of photos!

  • Claire has another tooth, giving her a total of 6 teeth - 4 on the top, and 2 on the bottom. She's killing the boys in her class, as none of them have even one tooth. Speaking of, she's the only little girl in her class at the moment. What is up with the boy baby boom?
  • I have a job! I accepted an offer last week with a small local firm here in SA. There are only about 20 employees, and I think there will be five of us in the audit group. It's completely different from what I'm used to and from what I was expecting to choose, but I think I'll really enjoy it. Everyone I've met is really nice and there seems to be a real team atmosphere in the office. We're planning for me to work full-time, but that truly means 40 hours per week as the founding partner doesn't believe in making people work overtime unless it's absolutely critical, which is great! My first day is next Monday, so I'll be able to get settled before things get busy this spring.
  • Lindsay and Tyler's photographer posted some photos from their wedding on his blog - click here for a link (you can also see their engagement pictures here - such a good looking couple!). You might recognize a familiar face in a couple of the shots of the bridesmaids. :) The wedding was perfect, and Lindsay looked beautiful - the perfect image of a bride. I was thrilled to see Lindsay so happy. Tyler is a great guy, and I'm incredibly excited for them and looking forward to hearing about their adventures in Europe for the honeymoon.
  • Our baby girl is becoming quite the ham! We noticed that if she does something that elicits a positive reaction, she'll repeat it and look expectantly for another cheer or clap. It's really funny. I first noticed this a couple of days before Thanksgiving. She was in her Exersaucer and managed to press the button on the bus. She hadn't been able to reach it, so when I realized it was going off, I started cheering and clapping for her. She looked back at me and smiled, and then stretched over to hit it again and looked back to make sure I saw her. It was the first time I'd noticed her purposely doing something like that. I got a few photos of her in action. She started doing it again over Thanksgiving. Mom was holding her and playing piano, and Claire wanted to play. She leaned forward and hit the keys, then leaned back against Mom, and we clapped for her. So she leaned forward and gave them a quick pound, then leaned back again and looked at us with a big smile on her face. She kept going for several minutes - so funny!

"Are you watching?"

Hitting the button on the bus

Waiting for a reaction from Mommy

  • Claire has been able to stand for awhile now if someone is helping support her, but last night she stood using an object for support for the first time. Robert stood her up in front of a chair and put her hands on the seat, and she figured out that she could balance herself using the seat. She got really interested in the throw pillow, so she stood there for longer than I would've expected. Then we practiced walking. We've decided that we wouldn't be surprised if she skips crawling and goes straight to walking. We're going to have to start baby-proofing soon - sooner than I would like!



  • I have a few other posts in the works that will be coming soon - Claire's Christmas list, homemade Baby Legs, and how our homemade baby food is going.

Thanksgiving

Claire enjoyed her first Thanksgiving! We had a whirlwind trip. It started with the drive to my parents' house in Vernon on Wednesday with the big meal on Thursday. A lot of members of our family were able to join us - my sister Sheila and her husband Robert, my brother Curtis and Claire's cousin Christopher, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Kerbow, Jonathan, my cousin Sharon and Mike, my cousin Tanesa and Matt, and Uncle Pruitt. It was a full house! Everyone was excited to meet Claire, and she enjoyed playing with everyone.


Playing with cousin Christopher


Friday was a pretty quiet day. Several people went to the farm with my dad, so Claire, Nana, and Robert and I just relaxed and watched a movie. Claire took some good naps - she was still worn out from the previous day's excitement.

On Saturday we drove to Arlington to visit all of the great-grandparents. We had lunch with Grandmommy and Granddad and spent the afternoon visiting with them, and then went to Ma and Bob's for dinner and to spend the night. We made our way home on Sunday with a stop at Hut's in Austin for their yummy burgers and onion rings.

It was such a blessing to be able to spend the holiday with so many members of our family!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bathtime

This is what Claire's playtime after her bath is like just about every night. I managed to get lots of good buh-buh-buhs and raspberries. The long beep at the end is the oven timer going off. :) Girl loves playing in the water!

(Press the play button at the bottom of the picture - you may need to turn up the volume on your computer to hear her.)

video

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Tuesday!

Sorry I've gone so long without posting. We had a busy week and were in Dallas last weekend for Lindsay and Tyler's wedding. I was a bridesmaid, so the weekend was packed with wedding activities, not leaving any time to other visits. We had a great time, and the wedding was perfect. Lindsay looked gorgeous, and I love seeing her so happy with Tyler. I managed to go without taking a single picture all weekend (bad!), so I'm stalking her photographer's blog for the sneak pics and will post a link when they're up.

We noticed tonight that Claire has another tooth poking through, so this makes 5 teeth. They're coming so fast!

Here are Claire's 32 week chair pictures. She was really going to town playing with Ellie.





I was very excited to find some bows that met Robert's approval (not too big!) and that stay in her hair. Finally! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seven Months

Claire turned 7 months old on Saturday! She celebrated by cutting two more teeth - her two front ones. I can't believe my baby already has four teeth!

We took her to Austin for her first football game - UT vs. Baylor. Robert's mom is in town from Venezuela, and she was able to go with us. It was incredibly hot for November, so we didn't stay too long for fear of sunburn and overheating, but we enjoyed what we saw. Claire was mostly entertained by the two little kids in front of us, but she did watch part of the game.



Afterwards, she was wiped out. She fell asleep holding her foot - it was so funny, and I'm glad I got a picture.

We had a couple of family members with birthdays this week - Ma (Robert's grandmother) on Monday and Granddaddy (my dad) today. Claire sent each of them a special birthday message:

Today was Claire's weekly Tuesday chair picture. She wanted to lay down for this one, and I didn't fight her. :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yummy Salt Lick

While Mom and Dad were in town last weekend, we made a short road trip for a late lunch at the Salt Lick in honor of our anniversary. Robert and I hadn't been there since our wedding, and it was so good. Brisket, ribs, sausage, potato salad, cole slaw (without mayo - my favorite), blackberry and peach cobbler with ice cream...I practically rolled out of there, and I slept almost all the way home!

Claire is getting to where she's not too content to sit in her carrier when we go out to eat, so we just let her sit on the table until the food came. :) She enjoyed watching all of the activity going on around her and all of the attention from Granddaddy, Nana, Mommy & Daddy.




P.S. We have plenty of pictures of their food from the wedding (example in our anniversary post below), so I didn't think it was necessary to include one here. :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Life With a Baby", A.K.A "A Few Things I've Given Up On"

1. Trying to keep things from getting messy when feeding Claire. She likes to stick her hands in her mouth constantly, which makes for a mess when said mouth is full of some vegetable puree. We'd tried holding her hands, and that just seemed to frustrate her. On Monday, I decided to let her do it her way, so I just stripped her down and fed her before her bath. This was the result:

A baby covered in carrots, but she's happy and smiling! And believe it or not, she actually got more in her tummy than she did on her skin, Bumbo, counter, piece of fruit behind her, etc. I even got most of it wiped off before the bath.

2. Trying to keep her from eating Ellie when taking the weekly picture. I present you with last weeks' 29 week pictures...

and yesterday's 30 week pictures.



It was School Picture Day, which is why she's so dressed up. I think my period of a little baby sitting quietly for her picture is over. :)

Election Results

So after months of campaigning, debates, polls and commentators, we have a new president. I'm curious to see what happens over the next four year and hopeful that Obama will be a good President, bringing some measure of unity for Americans and improving foreign relations.

This morning I read a post on a friend's blog on the election titled "History, Barack, and Jesus," and I thought it was a very eloquent expression of his thoughts of the historical significance of Obama's election and his response as a Christian. I encourage you to click on the link and read it. I agree with most of what he said and I'm curious to hear what you think.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

No matter your choice, be sure to VOTE!

Claire went to the polls (with Mommy & Daddy) on Wednesday and got this sweet sticker:

Even though she won't be eligible to cast her own vote in a Presidential election until 2028, she did help Daddy with his selections. The early voting location we went to was pretty busy - we got there around 11:20 and stood in line for about 40 minutes. It's great to see such a big turnout, and it was fun to go as a family.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anniversary #2

Today is our wedding anniversary. I have so many wonderful memories of that day - the perfect weather, getting ready with my friends, feeling excited but not nervous or anxious, the door of the Mansion opening just before I walked down the aisle with my dad, seeing Robert at the end of the aisle, the meaningful ceremony, our first dance, being in a room with so many people who support us. I mainly remember the overwhelming feeling of love - for each other, for family, and for friends.