Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mommy Reviews-Must Have List for Month 1

Aiden - 1 month old!
My goal is to do a few things on a monthly basis.  The first is to take pictures of Aiden sitting in the same chair with the same bear and a little picture frame that says what month it is.  So above is our attempt at Month 1!  He can't exactly sit up yet, so I assume these pictures will get easier.  Hopefully with the bear next to him, it'll be easy to see how big he is getting in comparison each month.  He definitely feels like he's packing on the pounds.  Ryan and I are guessing around 9 pounds right now (again - how in the hell do people give birth to 9+ pound babies???).  Our next check up is in a week - so we shall see.

The second goal is to make a list of my "must-haves" for that month as a new mom.  I read and read and read every review and product must have list out there when I was pregnant to make sure we had our bases covered for when our little guy arrived.  I'm SOOO glad I am one of those people that is over prepared because I think it's benefiting us now.  For example, last night - sleeping was pretty much not an option until around 4am.  We had every trick up our sleeve to make it eventually work though.  So here is my "Must Have List" for Month 1!

1) Video Monitor 
We got ours as a gift from my good friend Carley - but we registered for one of the more inexpensive ones and I'm glad we did.  There really has not been a need to see him "in color" at night while he's been in his own room - but it has been VERY helpful to see when he is sleep crying (eyes are still shut and he puts himself back to sleep) vs. awake/alert come give me something crying.  Because our bedroom is right next door, we do not use the sound feature on the monitor and actually have not needed a sound monitor at all since we've had him home - but the video has been a must have for sure.  Here is a link to the one we got.  It retails for around $100, but you can usually get it on sale with a coupon for around $85 or $90.
2) Bassinet
We bought the bassinet literally the day before he was delivered.  We knew with the extra fluid I had developed in the last 2 weeks of pregnancy that there was a chance he might have complications.  Luckily he did not - but of course we were prepared for that.  One of the complications we were prepared for was him having difficulty breathing/swallowing.  So with that being the case, we wanted something he could sleep in in our room - but not in our bed.  We used the bassinet in our room for the first week or so and for those 45 minute stretches where he did sleep - it worked. But the reason this has ended up on the must have list is because I can lay him down in it for naps throughout the day on the main floor and he's content - probably more so than in his big crib.  For some reason he sleeps well in it when the bassinet is on the main floor, but doesn't sleep well in it upstairs.  Strange... but whatevs!  Here is a link to the one we got.  We're happy with it, but do not use any of the bells and whistles that are included with it like the vibration or music - but I could see how depending on the baby, that would be necessary.  What we have used a lot are the little tote baskets underneath.  I'm so glad we got one with removable tote storage - rummaging around in a basket underneath a bassinet every time he needed something would have been impossible!
Just a little peanut - glad we got the second car seat insert so he fit in the swing.
3) Travel swing
Notice I said TRAVEL.  SOOO glad we registered for this one and not one of the huge ones that takes up as much room as a couch.  We registered for the travel one thinking it would be good to have if we went home in late spring/early summer.  Come to find out, they really only last up to 15 pounds and he most likely will be bigger than that by the time we travel with him.  But we lucked out in getting the travel one because this little gem has been moved to every blessed room in this house!  I'm not kidding, I think other than the laundry room - it has made it to every room!  Because he was little when he was born (6 pounder) we popped a car seat insert into the swing to help support him/take up some extra room and HELLO 4 hours of continuous sleep!  Ah, the first night this happened was absolute bliss.  We were about 2.5 weeks in at that point and we haven't looked back since.  Now last night, sleep was not happening - so it's not the golden ticket exactly - but it has done wonders.  I'm so happy we did not get one of those big honkers that does everything under the sun (I'm waiting for them to create one that feeds the baby) - this little one has allowed me to actually sleep in our bed : )  Here is the link to the one we got.
Hanging in bed with mom and dad - just chillin.
4) Boppy Pillow x2
I mentioned in my "delivery" post how important the boppy was in those first few hours/days of having Aiden.  It has continued to be essential.  So essential in fact that I'm very happy with the fact that I over prepared and got 2!  Our good friend Dixon got us one with an adorable lion on it that has some cute touch and feel things for when he's older.  The other one I got at a garage sale and then bought covers for it.  The covers are pretty pricey, but a good investment because they will inevitably be spit up on.  We have one upstairs and one downstairs.  We use them for feeding, lounging, snuggling in bed with us and I kneel on one when I'm doing a downstairs changing.  My knees just can't take the hard floor!  Having 2 is great so we don't have to lug it upstairs and downstairs each time he goes up and down.  This is especially important for when Ryan is at work and I'm doing the Mommy gig by myself : )
Yes, that is the diaper champ that made it's appearance in one of our Christmas family pictures : )

5) Diaper Champ
Yep, we have 2 of these too!  One for upstairs and one for downstairs.  These are sooo much more convenient than the diaper genies.  You can use REGULAR trash bags in them which cuts down on cost considerably. We bought both of ours at garage sales and figured we'd give them a try before sinking the money into super expensive diaper genies.  They keep the smell down because they are totally enclosed (although we have air freshener things in the bottom and use scented trash bags) and they don't take up too much room.  We have one in our living room off to the side where we spend the majority of our "awake" time and have the other one in his room.  Our child 'goes' a lot... (We're going through about 12-16 diapers a day), so we fill these up about twice a week.  Really glad I don't have to pay $6 for 10 genie specific bags... that would kill the budget!  (Want to know how we can afford all those diaper changes???  Check out my post on me stocking up on diapers - again - so glad I did that!)
Hanging on his mat - aka, his happy place (on top of the ottoman).
6) 2 different changing stations
Who wants to carry a peed out/pooped out child up and down stairs?  Plus haul all the stuff around that you might need during a changing???  Not us!  3 years ago at Christmas our 'gift' to each other was a new ottoman.  Ryan probably thought I was nuts, but I said at the time - I want a "wipeable" surface.  Little did I know how important that would be!  We have our large ottoman (This is ours... at a much better price!) set up as a changing station right now.  I know, probably gross to anyone without kids - but it's so easy to change him there and store all the "extras" in the ottoman for when he does need a new outfit.  We keep duplicates of everything in the ottoman that is also upstairs with his real changing table - including outfits for when those messes do happen : )  Once the Christmas tree gets put away and we bring out his pack-n-play - we can change him there.  He really loves the ottoman spot though - it's his HAPPY place!

7) More than 1 days supply of bottles (12) and Avent Formula Travel Container
This is going to vary depending on the child, but our little chugger tends to eat every 2-4 hours (and usually closer to 2).  So again, we lucked out in being over prepared.  I bought 12, 4oz newborn bottles (we use Avent brand and have been very pleased) and it's been really nice to only need to wash and sterilize bottles once a day.  This is one of Ryan's jobs and it works pretty slick.  He waits until we have at least 8 bottles to wash and does them all at once.  That way I still have access to 4 clean ones at the very least which means we can get through the next 8+ hours while the clean ones are drying/cooling (we sterilize in the microwave using one of these).  The other SUPER important product - that we have since gone out and bought a second one of is the Avent Formula Travel Container thingy - unofficial name.  This little thing has 3 compartments and we fill it with powder formula that we measure out.  Then we fill 3 bottles with bottled water to the ounce level we need - currently 4 oz.  When we go upstairs at night, we take 3 bottles of water with us and the travel formula thing.  It allows us to get through at least 8-10 hours at night without having to come downstairs and make a bottle in the dark.  I did buy 2 other brands of this travel thingy and the Avent one is far superior!  It's the one I'd recommend for sure!
This picture cracks me up!  My mom got a new camera and didn't know how to use it... so we have a merged picture (still don't know how she did it) that we can't un-merge!
8) Infant bath tub with newborn insert
We have 2 bathtubs because I didn't know which one would work better.  We're currently using the one I thought we'd use once he was 6 months or older... This is the one we're using.  It comes with a newborn/infant insert that works like a hammock.  This really isn't shown very well in the online pictures, so was a nice surprise when we opened it up.  This insert is super important because you can wash them without having to hold them and their stump/cord isn't submerged in water (we couldn't get that or his circumcision scab wet until they had fully healed).  The other tub we have is the Puj tub.  This also got good reviews - and I think we'll be using this for sink baths in the future when he can hold his own head up.  But for now, we're very thankful for the tub with the infant hammock in it!

9) Plenty of burp cloths, swaddleme's, receiving blankets, footed sleepers (no onesies), fluffy blankets
Just a few comments on this combined list.  Burp cloths, we have 24 of the nicer ones from BabiesRUs.  When we got these I remember thinking, this is so expensive - am I just being insane?  Again, really glad we bought extra.  We've used them all!  He did spit up a lot when he was first born, but this also prevents me from having to do laundry every day.  I also appreciate that we got the ones that are really nice quality because they are holding up in the wash and they are super soft against his face.  Swaddleme's: we used these the first few nights we were home and I think we convinced ourselves that they weren't working because he wasn't sleeping.  Well he was 2 days old, so we should cut him some slack ; )  I think we're going to have to see if there is another size of these - but it's good to have extra.  If they pee out of a diaper (which they will) these soak through too.  I think we have 5 or 6 and keep a couple upstairs and downstairs. Footed sleepers... I totally underestimated how much I'd love these/need these.  Of course I loved shopping for every adorable outfit (again, thank god we didn't have a girl the first time around - our bank account couldn't have handled it) - but these little footed outfits are the best.  He's in them night and day at this point. We've only put him in actual outfits for doctor's visits and the holidays.  My recommendation is to get the ones with the snaps - they are easier than the zipper when they start to get a bit snug.  And finally, the fuzzy blankets that everyone gives as gifts.  We have 2 or 3 that are on a constant rotation because of spit up and other things.  Good to have draped over him - but we have a kick boxer on our hands.  Anytime we put one of these on him, he just kicks until it comes off.  However - I love to have them over me during feedings at night!  Keeps me warm : )
Again - a merged pic from mom's camera.  We took 1 walk before it got too cold as a family - bundle me worked great!
10) Bundle Me for the car seat
This slick little number means we don't have to worry about putting our newborn in some crazy coat, snow suit (although it hardly snows here) or other blanket like contraption.  When we leave the house, which is rare at this point, we just have to load him into the car seat and zip it up around him.  He stays so warm, we've actually been concerned he might be too warm.  I have seen that they make these with a little window/pocket that opens by where their face should be and I've thought that would be nice to have - but ours works great for our winter baby.  If we ever have another winter baby and the current one gets worn out, I might spring for the one with the face pocket : )

There you have it - my top 10 list (although I wasn't shooting for 10 when I started) of the must-have's for a new mom (and DAD!) in the first month!  Can't imagine what my must-have's will be by month 2!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Customized Nursery Art - Etsy Strikes again!

I'm not joking when I say all these little characters and colors match his bedding PERFECTLY!!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE!
In a previous post I had posted pictures of what the nursery looked like minus the name specific things we had purchased.  I'm so excited to share one of my favorite things in Aiden's nursery - his name wall art that we had custom made!!!

A very nice woman named Jeri Jo from Etsy made us these letter blocks to match Aiden's room/theme.  I can't tell you how great she was to work with!  I ordered Large letter blocks and sent her a link and a few pictures of Aiden's bedding.  She got to work and made all the little cut outs for the letter blocks to perfectly match his bedding.  I can't get over how cute these are - how much they MAKE the room - and how inexpensive it was when you consider how much it would have been to buy art to fill this huge wall over his crib. 

Ryan took the blocks Jeri Jo made for us and put small picture hangers on the back.  Then he used his type A'ness (ahhh - we are 2 peas in a pod) and perfectly lined them up to hang them on the wall above the crib.  I love that my hubby turns to graph paper, levels and perfectly straight lines like I do.  It just makes everything work.  So Aiden's name has 10 letters total plus the shipping and the tiny wall hangers - this was less than $95 total.  I can't even tell you how great this is compared to everything else I was looking at to "fill" this empty wall above his crib.  These blocks will be something we cherish and will plan to order for future babies too : )

Thanks Jeri Jo for such a great product and wonderful service!!! If you'd like to check out Jeri Jo's shop on etsy - visit her here!

*I was not paid for this review - just a happy customer : )

What to 'REALLY' Pack for the hospital

This picture is clearly not of me.  You can tell because I would not be wearing those blue pants, I would not take a picture with my belly hanging out and we had more than one suitcase : )  I however can not find the annoyingly staged picture we took of Ryan loading all of the suitcases into the car the morning of delivery... so this is what you get.

Alright ... here we go.  I'm about to air my dirty laundry.  Ok, not really... although with the new baby - there is plenty of dirty laundry to go around.  A few people had asked me before I went into labor what was on my "hospital packing list".  I'm going to share the list - updated with comments.  It's broken down into 2 sections (all were on my original list).  First is the "what I really needed" list and second are the items I didn't end up needing.  I had the original list typed up in a word document months ahead of time (clearly, you know this fits with how I do things) however, we literally packed the night before we went to the hospital to be induced.  For some reason I just didn't want to pack that bag.  I guess I knew if we went any earlier than scheduled, it might mean that something was wrong.  Crazy how much I was dreading packing this bag, yet I enjoyed researching/creating the packing list so much!  Oh well - all unpacked now.  Here we go!

What I really needed: (Keep in mind, I was only in the hospital for about 48 hours total... The original list was written with a c-section in mind and thinking we'd be there for up to 5 days).

  • ð        Hand Sanitizer
  • ð        Bobbypins
  • ð        Tennis Balls in sock (this was used for back massage during contractions - they taught us this trick during birth class)
  • ð        Soft Tissues (little packs)
  • ð        Insurance Information, birth plan, emergency contact info, pediatrician info
  • ð        Baby mittens
  • ð        Baby nail clippers <--- need a baby nail file, not clippers.  Clippers are too much when they are first born, but trust me - you will most likely need to file the nails down and the nurses aren't allowed to do it.
  • ð        Newborn pacifier <--- our hospital gave us 1 and sent us home with one extra when we asked.  The newborn soothies work the best in my opinion and match what the hospital gives.
  • ð        Tucks wipes/pads <--- the hospital gave me these, but it's good to bring just in case they don't give out extra. Prep H wipes would work too.
  • ð        Lotion for me – foot massage (Get it while you can ladies!)
  • ð        Pillow, clothes, blanket for Ryan (he wished he would have added parka to this list!)
  • ð        My pillow, tan pillow, animal blanket (anything that makes you feel comfortable - you'll be in bed a lot!)
  • ð        Extra socks – 3 darker pairs, 2 white (In my research dark socks were recommended because of how messy it can get... I didn't have that problem, but was glad I had dark socks because I walked around in them a lot and who wants to look at dirty white socks! : )
  • ð        2 sets of pajamas <--- comfy with pants is what I recommend.  Those pads don't need to be hanging out!
  • ð        Make-up/shower stuff/toothbrush (anything needed to get ready)
  • ð        Camera/video cam/cell phones/laptop & netbook – chargers for all!
  • ð        Robe and slippers <--- didn't really wear my slippers, but I had on a robe almost the whole time after delivery
  • ð        Underwear and bras <--- my original list had nursing bras on it.  I brought those but didn't use them because I kept the girls locked down in my regular bra as my milk came in.  We're bottle feeding and have been since day one - so the maternity bras were a total waste.  I did hear another mom down the hall ask for something for her bleeding nips... not sure what to pack for that - that was not in my birth plan!
  • ð        Burtsbees
  • ð        Snacks for both – food and drink. <--- the hospital fed me really well and Ryan got one complimentary meal.  If you've heard they don't let you eat once you get to the hospital, it's true.  The only reason I got my turkey sandwich was because they thought it would take me 1-4 days to go into active labor.  Little did they know I knew what I was talking about when I said he'd be born that same day and I still got my Turkey sandwich! : )
  • ð        My own towels
  • ð        Coming home outfit for baby
  • ð        Empty duffel bag for extras from hospital <--- so glad we had this.  We stocked up before we left the hospital
  • ð        Gum/mints
  • ð        Change/cash for vending machines and food
  • ð        Bobby pillow (one from upstairs) <--- this was big to take but so worth it!  We used it almost instantly with the baby during feedings, Ryan used it as a supplemental pillow while we tried to rest and I sat on it on the way home from the hospital to help with the bumps on the road along the way.
  • ð        Newborn diapers (1 small pk) <--- Aiden was 6pds 3oz when we took him home from the hospital.  The hospital only had size 1 diapers and he was swimming in them.  So glad we took these with!
  • ð        Pads with wings <--- again, hospital provides these, but theirs don't have "wings" to help them stay in place ... oh, and the full on resemble a BRICK.  I highly recommend bringing your own - super absorbency recommended (and I had an easy labor) : (
  • ð        Extra lounge pants – black or dark
  • ð        Preemie or newborn outfit (at least one that doesn’t pull over the head) <--- not pulling over the head is important.  Our peanut was so little, I really needed Preemie and only brought newborn.
  • ð        Warm baby blanket for car
  • ð        Dark pillow cases <--- helps the cleaning crew at the hospital know what pillows are yours and what ones are theirs. 
  • ð        Empty box in the car (like a paper box) to help transport flowers
  • ð        Pen and Paper to write notes on or questions
  • ð        List of people to call
  • ð        Coming home outfit for Mel
Things I didn't need off of Original List:

  • ð        Flip Flops
  • ð        Playing Cards
  • ð        Headband
  • ð        Hair Dryer/Curling Iron (my hair is short, otherwise I would have needed at least the blow dryer)
  • ð        Nursing pads (didn't start leaking until my second day home... oh joy!)
  • ð        Maternity bras
  • ð        Baby Lotion
  • ð        Exercise ball (I used the hospitals - maybe check ahead of time to make sure you'll have access to one or plan to bring your own)
  • ð        Magazines (brought them, but things went so quickly - no time to read them.  Had my labor been longer, I probably would have looked at them)
  • ð        Onesies for baby x3 - the hospital provided these and theirs didn't go over the head.
  • ð        Baby book for footprint stamp and ink pad (I had read that a lot of hospitals don't do the ink pad anymore to take their footprints or that they wont do an extra stamp for a baby book. Ours ended up doing it for us)
  • ð        Newborn bottles  (2-3) - our hospital used the little 2oz. premade bottles, so we did not need these.
  • ð        Take out menus - our hospital had a cafeteria that was pretty decent from what Ryan said and Dixon brought him food if he needed it : )
  • ð        Swaddle me <--- we just used the receiving blankets in the hospital. Swaddleme's started when we got home.
  • ð        Sleeper gown for Aiden - stayed in his onesie things the whole time.
  • ð        My baby blanket <--- used when we got home, but not in the hospital
  • ð        Baby powder – for chaffing for me
  • ð        Sensitive baby wipes <--- hospital had these
  • ð        Alcohol swabs <--- hospital had these
  • ð        Depends (Again, I had an easier delivery... this might be different for some people)

Chicken Parmesan

I've made 1 "new" recipe since the baby was born and it was out of desperation that this meal was made.  We were seriously low on food and "easy" meals after our families left, so I had to start thinking outside of the box... which meant it was time for me to get back in the kitchen.  This was the same night we went to the grocery store after our families left so I knew if it was a bust - we could always pick up something easy at the store later : )

Happy to report - it wasn't a bust.  It was really good!  This was one of those meals where I said to myself "I can't believe I had everything I needed for this all along in the cupboard/freezer".  So here it is - worth a try - I promise!

  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 4 slices of mozzarella cheese
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
    1 cup of panko bread crumbs (you can get Italian, but I prefer the plain and do my own seasoning)
    1 box of spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine noodles
  • Seasonings used with breadcrumbs - no measurements, I just do it to taste and eyeball it (I know... so unlike me!): basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, and a few TBSP of the Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic bread or toast - we like the texas toast light garlic bread.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix seasonings - to taste - into breadcrumbs in shallow bowl.
  3. Pour beaten eggs into a small shallow bowl.  Dip chicken into egg, then into the bread crumbs. Place coated chicken on cookie cooling stand on top of a cookie sheet if you have one.  It will help the breadcrumbs and chicken stay crispier.  If not, place directly on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until no longer pink and juices run clear.
  4. Pour 1/2 of the spaghetti sauce into a baking dish. Place chicken over sauce, and cover with remaining sauce. Place one slice of mozzarella on each breast and sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top. Return to the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  5. While the chicken is cooking for the last 20 minutes, prepare pasta noodles and garlic bread according to package directions.  
  6. Serve one chicken breast over small portion of noodles.  Spoon extra sauce from baking dish onto each side of noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Serve with 1 slice of bread. 
Makes 4 servings
3 more "new" meals are on the docket for the upcoming 2 weeks... hope to blog about those by the end of January : )

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baby Aiden is here!

4 weeks ago today our little man arrived!  Aiden James was born on November 29th at 5:59pm.  He was just a little peanut weighing in at 6 pds 7oz and 20 inches long (Can I just say - I have no idea how people give birth to 9 pound babies!?!?!).

I had an absolutely wonderful delivery experience.  I know - part of you might be a little disappointed that I don't have some ridiculously insane horror story to share about the birth process that I would of course lace with humor as I retold it... but the experience was great from start to finish.

We were scheduled to be induced at 8am on Nov. 29th because I had extra fluid that showed up in the last 2 weeks of the pregnancy that they had not seen.  They were concerned about Aiden's well being if they left him in - so Mommy got her schedule!  The number one thing I did not want was Pitocin - but that's exactly what I got starting at 11:30am.  The good thing was I was already 2cm dilated when we checked in - so the pitocin just kicked it up a notch.  I had a turkey club sandwich at 12:30 because the doctor said it could take 1-4 days to put me into active labor.  I told the nurse and doctor that the baby would be out by 10pm and no later.  They looked at me like I was nuts and reminded me I couldn't exactly schedule this one.  Little did they know, I knew what I was talking about.  Dixon and Ryan believed me - so they started placing bets.  They were both guessing around 6pm or 8pm I think.

So to recap - pitocin at 11:30, turkey sandwich at 12:30, started walking the halls and bouncing on the ball (yes, I bounced on the damn ball) at 1:30, multiple "creative" phrases started flying from my mouth around 2pm, epidural at 2:30, BLISS by 3pm ... joking and laughing with the nurses because we were the PARTY room (no joke - they actually named us the party room and people hung out with us just because we were fun) from 3-5pm.  5pm I'm "checked" and the nurse says "umm... don't laugh anymore or you'll laugh this baby right out" - so of course that made me laugh and apparently she saw his head.  Doc came in by 5:25 when I started pushing and he was out by 5:59 : )  I think within about 3 minutes of his delivery I turned to Ryan and said "would you do this again... because I would!"  The drugs had NOT worn off yet. 

Here are my thoughts on natural childbirth: #1: it's not for me #2: medicine exists for a reason, I fully intend to use it 3#: It pays to have awesome nurses that get your sense of humor and have a hard time believing your a first time mom because you ask for the epidural upon walking into the joint (around this conservative area... everyone is all natural... blah!) #4: to each their own, but let me tell you ladies... I'm willing to have more children because I wasn't traumatized the first time around : ) #5: I wasn't a crazy B to my husband during the delivery process... instead, I was offering him half of my turkey sandwich and telling Ryan and Dixon to go get snacks about an hour before delivery because I was just "chillin".  Ahhhh - medical intervention - thank you very much!

After delivery thoughts - #1: Birth class should cover more of the after care and less of the "hee hee whoooos" - because when shit gets going, that's the last thing I'm thinking about (my calming color and vocal point that is).  #2: Please don't show a new mom and dad how to do everything to care for the baby within the first 4 hours after delivery... it really puts us at an unfair advantage.  I literally do not remember Aiden getting his first bath from the nurse because I was so out of it still - and I had an EASY labor compared to most! #3: although the hospital pads are nice (and by nice I mean free/provided) I did not bring my pants that accommodated a full on adult diaper/brick in my pants - so ladies, make sure to bring your own... and yes, you will need them (UGH!) and #4 (this one is for Ryan) - send a little card to the hubby's/support people ahead of time to let them know you keep the thermostat around 60 degrees for the mom's.  I was SOOO comfortable in that icebox with my raging hormones, however - Ryan said he was ready to cut glass : )  One dad down the hall even wore his wife's pink bathroom around - classic.

More to come now that our little guy is sleeping in more than 45 minute stretches... and of course, more pics!
Checking into the hospital after getting "suited" up
I wasn't joking about the turkey sandwich : )
About 1 minute after Aiden was born
Daddy and Aiden
Mommy and Aiden... SO HAPPY!
To see all of the pics from his hospital stay - feel free to visit my fb page by following this link

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baby Bump: Week 38... we've come a long way!

Baby and Mommy hit week 38 today - I can't believe how fast time has gone!  Really, time has gone fast since my surgery on 1-5-10.  Things have changed so much and I'm so thankful to have had a relatively healthy pregnancy (anything that has come up has not been from my WLS).  Looking at these pics today made me realize how far I've come from a few years ago.  I most likely would have used every excuse in the book to eat whatever I wanted during pregnancy before.  For me, having something like my surgery that makes things very black and white with what I can eat and not eat has been such a huge help.  I would have liked to say I had enough will power to say no on my own - but let me tell you, pregnancy cravings are REAL and they don't go away once they've arrived (at least in my experience).  As much as I would like to think I could have said no to some of those cravings and indulgences, it's important that I'm honest with myself and realize I wouldn't have been able to say no.  If that was the case, I would have never gotten to 340+ pounds. (Before/After pics here)  You don't get there by choice - trust me.  No one wakes up one day at 18 and says "My goal is to get up to 340 pounds in the next 10 years".  It just doesn't happen.  What did happen for me was one morning I woke up (after meeting the best man of my life - Ryan) and said "I want to have kids - and I want to be safe about it" and that is exactly what started this journey. 

Ryan and I went to our first informational meeting in January 2009 about gastric bypass options.  I can't believe that just short of 3 years later, I'll be holding our baby, our little boy, in my arms.  Not only will I be holding him, there will be room for him!  My recovery (regardless of how I deliver) will be 10 times better.  My blood pressure and weight have been amazing throughout the pregnancy.  I will have the energy I need to keep up with our little boy as he grows and I'll be so proud to tell him someday what it took for us to have him.  What it took for his dad to take this huge leap of faith with me on this journey because we wanted him before we even knew him.  The love and support of my husband, family and friends has been amazing throughout this entire journey.  The love that we already have for this little boy is out of this world and I can't imagine how intense that love is going to feel when he arrives in the next few weeks.

My biggest hope and dream for him is that he grows up confident in his decisions and that he adapts to whatever life may throw at him.  If he wants something bad enough, whatever that might be, I know he will find a way to make it happen.  That's how his life was started....

My next post will hopefully be with our little guy... so until then - happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

X-mas Tree is up... in November!

We've been checking things off the to-do list like crazy this weekend (we're feeling the crunch of the baby being here any day!).  Both of our families are coming out to stay after the baby is born.  While they won't be here over Christmas technically, it will be when we're able to celebrate with them.  If you know me, you know there is no way I will take a newborn baby 6 states/20 hours away out-of-network for insurance purposes.  Not to mention, cold and flu season concerns and driving through the Midwest in December.  I don't think there has been a year where we haven't run into an ice storm or snow storm.

So one of the things on the to-do list has been to put up the X-mas tree.  We haven't put it up in the last 2 years because we go back to Iowa over the holiday and it doesn't make sense to set it up for the 10 or so days between Thanksgiving and when we leave to go home.  We bought the tree and all the trimmings our first year of marriage and I forgot how much I love it all set up and how beautiful I think it is.  So I thought I'd share a pic or two.  One of the other things I love - we put the tree on a remote, easy peasy to turn on and off with a baby in our hands!  No crawling on the floor this year : )

In case I drop of the face of the earth completely in the next few weeks (not likely with pending pics of the new baby coming) - an early Merry X-mas and holiday season to everyone!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby Bump: 35 weeks

5 weeks to go!!!  Serious braxton hicks are in full swing.  Baby is now head down - no more scheduling for this momma.  I'm probably one of the only people that was disappointed by this... but if you know me, you know I love my calendar.  Feeling really tired and I'm lucky if I sleep for 3 to 4 hours at a time.  Current strategy is to sleep for 3-4 hours when I get home from work and then try again in the middle of the night when the exhaustion sets back in. 

For those of you that are WLS pre or post op and are interested in my weight (I was when looking at people's blogs before surgery) I'm at 35 weeks and at 186 pounds (my high before surgery was 347 - at least that's the highest I saw on the scale... I know it was higher at one point).  I was 182 when we conceived.  My lowest in the pregnancy was 173 during the end of the first trimester.  I was told at the beginning of all of this - if I gained around 20-25 pounds, that'd be what they would expect from a healthy pregnancy (that came from my surgeon's office).  My OB's office is ecstatic that I've put on a total of 4 from when we conceived, but 13 from my low during the pregnancy.  I'm starting to feel the extra weight now for the first time.  My goal all along was to stay under 200 during the pregnancy.  Don't want to jinx it... but with 5 weeks left to go and not a lot of "room" in my tummy for extra food... I think I'll be able to do it!  I've stayed strong on not eating sugar throughout the pregnancy.  I feel strongly that once I cross that threshold - there will be no turning back (can I please mention that as I write this I'm about to fold!!!  Ryan is having cinnamon sticks as a well deserved end of the week treat right now and I'm about to jump out of my chair and take him out for a bite of one of those... must stay strong, must stay strong!).  I have full blown/legit hunger now and some serious cravings.  I just try hard to find something to satisfy them that I can have and if not... then I sleep or cut coupons!

Iowa Baby Shower

We have pictures!!!  Thanks to my sister for getting these uploaded : )  Our camera got smashed on the flight back to Iowa for the baby shower and mom and dad were running around so much during the shower that we've all been waiting on pics from Erin's camera.  They are finally here!  There are so many of them that there is no way to post them all to the blog.  So I've selected just a few and below is a link to my face book photo album that has the full 54 pics included. 

The theme of the shower was owls.  Erin knew how much I loved the owl baby stuff that is out there right now - but so much of it is not for little boys... it's just for little girls.  So she worked her magic and made an amazing event - all owl themed.  This girl (and my mom too) are seriously talented!  They made/did everything themselves except the cake.  That they ordered - but of course had very specific design requests : )

We had a great (quick) weekend at home.  Can't believe it's been 4 weeks since we were there.  One more way I'm realizing how close we are - 5 weeks and counting!  I'll post 35 week pics next : )  Thanks to my family for an amazing weekend/event.  It's one for the record books for sure!

Bottom left - acorn muffins in pumpkin flavor, top left - owl cake pops (yes, handmade), front center - owl sandwiches, back center - owl cake on a REAL tree stump thanks to Erin's use of a chain saw..., Front right - leaf and acorn sugar cookies handmade and frosted by mom and Erin, back right - homemade chocolates in the shape of squirrels and acorns that Erin made, back of the table - Erin's beautiful flower arrangements.  She made about 20 of these and they were found throughout the house.
My side of the family... waiting on #6 to join us!  From the left - Dad, Mom, Ryan, me (31 weeks pregnant here) and Erin.
Ryan's side of the family.  From the top left: Ryan's dad, our niece, Ryan, me (baby at 31 weeks), Ryan's mom, Ryan's sister holding our great niece. 
Close up of the owl pops... did I mention they made each of these by hand?!?  Carrot cake ball - then the stick is inserted.  Dipped individually in a fondue pot of chocolate - spun until dry.  Chocolate chips for ears, small chocolate candies for arms, flower sprinkles for feet and candy eyes and noses - all secured with extra fondue chocolate using a toothpick to apply.  They made 50 of them and probably spent at least 8-10 hours doing it!
The "check-in" table.  Every single detail was thought of.  I loved that Erin did the owl theme for everything, but nothing was overly cutesy or baby... just my style : ) 
Happy Happy Fitz Girls : )  Can't wait for Auntie Erin to meet her nephew!  (okay, I'll just keep focusing on the end result and do my best to ignore how we get to that point!)  She flies in Dec. 3rd - and she's predicting he'll be late.  If he takes after her, he will be late.  If he takes after Mommy and Daddy (us) - he'll be right on time or early ; )
And here is the link to all of the pictures from the shower - enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I found boots... that ZIP!!!!

Mommy got her boots ; )
 Well hello October... 

This month has been absolutely crazy at work and we've been busy busy busy at home getting everything ready for the baby.  We celebrated our 3rd anniversary two weeks ago, went back to Iowa the first weekend in October for a wonderful baby shower (that post is coming... just waiting on the pictures from my sister!) and then we had homecoming weekend at the college last weekend.  This weekend is the first time we've gotten to do our normal weekend routine of running errands, laundry, dishes, etc.  I wish I had more ready to post, but that is an unrealistic expectation of myself right now and I'm doing my best to not dwell on any of those : )

Anyway... here's the reason for this post.  It gets back to why I started this blog in the first place.  Before I had surgery, I had a list of goals....  When I lose weight, I will be able to.... (fill in the blank).  There was a list of at least 20 things, but  some of them were to sit in a theater seat for a Broadway show and be able to actually fit (done!), be able to shop in a store other than lane bryant (done!), have a baby... (almost done ;) and other things.  One of them was to find a pair of boots that zipped up my leg.  This somewhat superficial quest has been going since I was a sophomore in college.  Ryan knows that he's be along for the ride for numerous shopping trips in the last 5 1/2 years that ended in tears, cursing or just plain disappointment.  I would have paid any amount - and I mean ANY amount if a pair would have zipped.  Part of it was def. due to my weight, the other part is I was blessed/cursed with my dad's HUGE calf muscles ... and when you carry around 300+ pounds for over 10 years, well - those muscles are pretty big and not meant for boots.

Yesterday Dixon and I went shopping.  We were at a store and I thought I'd try on their "extended calf boot" to see if it'd fit.  I thought surely it would considering I've lost 170 pounds... but nope!  Now I know I'm 5 weeks away from giving birth - but I have adorable maternity sweater dresses that are just dying to be worn people!  And what better way to rock that maternity sweater dress than with a pair of boots?  So as she was in the dressing room trying something on, I used my phone to google search extended calf boots (the spark for the search was back).  I got the usual suggestions for Dillards/Macy's/Bloomingdales/etc. for the $200+ boots.  But I've tried all of those and know they don't work.  Had they, they'd be in my closet right now... again, I don't care about the price - just that they zip!  Payless shoes also came up in my search... Yep - payless.  Did I have a coupon? No.  Do I care?  NO!  Again, I would have paid anything... but I only had to pay $29.99!!! 

I literally was squealing in the store with excitement.  Now picture this... maternity yoga pants pulled up above my knee, belly popping out like no other thanks to my little guy and adidas track jacket.  But when those babies zipped all the way up... I popped off that bench and started walking around the store in sheer joy!  (Special thanks to Dixon for not ditching me and my ridiculous self at that moment).  She obviously got how important the moment was because she snapped a picture of me buying my first pair of zip up boots... This one will for sure make it into the pregnancy book of pictures.  Our little guy will someday hear the story of how mommy ended her almost 10 year quest for boots with 5 weeks left to go of this pregnancy.

My only complaint... they don't come in brown!  (Seriously Payless... lets get on that!)  They do make them in brown in the regular sizes, but us extended calf girls will just have to rock our black ones!  Bring on the new outfits!!!  Here's a link if you're interested : )

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

PA Baby Shower

Our little guy is really active tonight - kicking up a storm!  I guess he's telling mom it's time to be active too and get some things done off the check list!  (Apparently, he doesn't consider the last 4-5 days of grading "active" : )  I'll have to get that nap in some other time!

This past weekend we had our PA baby shower.  Our good friend Dixon hosted it for us and we had a wonderful time.  Almost everyone there was from where I work with a few friends from out of town that were able to join us.  We feel so lucky to have met so many great people out here in PA!  Our day was truly special, non-stressful and a happy occasion.  Nothing more a new mom could ask for.  I realized when I came back to work on Monday I was describing the shower to people that couldn't make it as "It just felt like everyone was truly happy for us and wanted to be there.  Nothing was forced or overdone, it was just really nice".  So there you have it - this momma was one happy and very appreciative camper!

And now for the pictures!  These are a few shower pics - far too many to post blog style - but I think you'll see how happy we were.

Us with the Dixie Chick : )  AKA - Party Planner Superstar!
The adorable cake that was made to match the napkins, plates and theme. (And no WLS peeps - I did not have any or even try a bite.  I heard from everyone though that it was wonderful!)
Everything was customized - including this banner!  It's so adorable!  We have 2 huge monkey balloons in our house right now - maybe the monkeys well start to drop when little baby starts to drop.  I think 10 weeks should just about do it!
Gift opening : )  People really followed our brown and green nursery theme if they saw pictures on the blog!
And here is Daddy!  This man has not had a beer in well... forever.  So at dinner with Cory and Dixon - he went for the sampler.  Final review... GOOD CHOICE!  I love this pic of him ; )

Baby Bump: 29 weeks

These are my 29 week, 2day pics.  For those of you that are WLS people - some people have been curious about my weight gain.  I'm at 182 in this picture.  That's still 4 pounds less then when we conceived back at the end of Feb, but up from my first trimester low of 173.  The doctors seem good with my weight gain and seem to think its "healthy".  If I stay on track, I'll probably gain 1-2 pounds each week from here on out.  That's another 10-20 total.  I'm feeling fine with it - just a bit "giggly" : )  Now these leg cramps are a different story!!!! UGH!

WLS Friendly Sugar Free Blueberry Muffins

8 blueberry muffins - fresh out of the oven.
Ingredients used for muffins.
Putting the muffins in the oven - 22 minutes at 400 degrees and they are done : )
I got this original recipe off of Hungry Girl's website and modified it a bit for us.  We had a bunch of fresh blueberries from the baby shower this past weekend that I wanted to use up AND this will make a good breakfast for me to take to work the rest of the week.  I'm really looking forward to trying some other recipes I found on this site.  We used some ingredients I normally don't use (like soy milk and egg beaters for example) - but I'm all about trying to make things healthier.  So it's worth a shot! 

After having these, I have a few things I might do differently.  It seems like A LOT of blueberries for 6-8 muffins.  They are hard to eat because they are so messy with all the blueberries - however, they are good that way.  They don't taste "too sweet" which is good, but if you're someone that doesn't like the taste of whole wheat flour, my suggestion would be to go with full on regular flour.  I did mine using cupcake/muffin liners, but with all the blueberries they stuck to the liners.  I would next time use my silicon muffin pan and spray those with a little Pam to keep them from sticking.  I also read online that if you freeze fresh blueberries before using them in baking, they stay together better and make less "mess" when you bake with them.

All in all - a good recipe - worth trying again!

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup regular flour
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup light vanilla soy milk
1/4 cup sugar-free pancake syrup
1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute - like original egg beaters
1/4 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
3 tbsp. splenda blend brown sugar (not packed)
2 tbsp. light margarine, room temperature
2 tbsp. no-sugar-added applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, Splenda, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. In a separate, mixing bowl, combine soy milk, syrup, egg substitute, butter, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Using a whisk, mix until thoroughly blended. (Don't worry if butter bits do not break up completely.) Add dry ingredients from the first mixing bowl to the mixture in the large one. Mix until completely blended. Then fold in the blueberries. Line a 12-cup pan with baking liners and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute batter among the 6-8 cups. Place in the oven and bake for about 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy! MAKES 6-8 SERVINGS.

This nutrition is approximate and would be for 1 muffin when you make 8 out of the batter (that's how many it made for us):
Calories: 100 Fat:1.5 grams Fiber: 2 grams Sugars: 5 grams Protein: 3 grams

Chicken Sausage and Potatoes - Country Style

Easy ingredients to make this easy meal.  Not pictured is the water.
The sausage and garlic with 3 tsp. of oil in the skillet.  Browning first.
After sausage was browned, I added the sliced potatoes, tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Covered and cooked on medium low heat for 30 minutes (I used level 4 on our electric stove)
Finished dinner with green beans as the side.  1 Sausage link, 1/2 cup of green beans and 1/2 cup of potato/tomato mixture.
This mommy is back in the kitchen!!!  Class is over - grades submitted today.  That means I had a burst of energy at the end of the work day to come home and try this new recipe.  I found some Nature's Promise Mild Italian Chicken Sausage on sale last week at Giant.  It's been in the freezer waiting to be used - just needed to find a recipe.  We've never tried chicken sausage before, and it was actually really good.  Much healthier and not nearly as greasy (for nutrition information: click here).  I highly recommend it.  Also very glad we went with the mild - it had plenty of bite to it : )  So this was really easy and a relatively cheap meal to make.  We served it up with green beans and a slice of italian bread.  Should make great leftovers for tomorrow's lunch!

 1 pkg. Mild Chicken Italian sausage, 5 large links total
•  3 tsp olive oil
•  4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
•  14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes (undrained), Italian flavor
•  3 medium red potatoes, cut in thin slices
•  1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp black pepper
1 pkg. Mild Chicken Italian sausage, 5 large links total
•  1 cup of water

In a microwave safe bowl, combine potatoes and 1 cup of water. Microwave of high for 5 minutes. Pierce the sausages in various places with a fork or toothpick. Put the sausages in a skillet with the oil and sliced garlic. Brown on medium heat. Add tomatoes, potatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and sausage is cooked thoroughly. Internal temperature of sausage should be 170°F. Serve with green beans and Italian bread.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Best Day at Target EVER! Major Coupons Used!

Picture 1 of target deals
Picture 2 of target deals
Yes... 2 pictures because all of these deals could not fit in one "normal" kitchen table shot of deals : )

I stayed up late last night, way too late to even admit to, to organize my coupons for this run. has recently released a ton of new store coupons.  These coupons from target's website can be "stacked" with manufacturer's coupons.  Stacking means you can use them at the same time on 1 product.  For example: 1 bottle of dish soap for $2.69.  Manufacturer's coupon for $1 off + Target Coupon for $1 off = .69 total for dish soap. 

I have never had this good of luck at target in 1 trip with getting stuff we will for sure use/need.  I feel like the store was especially stocked just for us : )  A lot of grocery items and some A-Mazing clearance deals on clothes.  Alright, here we go... this one is going to be quite the list!

What we bought with original prices and sale prices:
x4 Diet Pepsi 12 packs, originally $5.29 each.  On sale for $3 for 11, get the 4th one free
x4 Skittles bags of candy, originally $0.79 each
x3 T Bonz dog treats, originally $2.49 each
x2 Little Beggin Strips, originally $2.64 each
x1 Velveeta Cheesy Skillet, originally $2.54
x1 5ct. 24 hour Zyrtec allergy, originally $5.29
x3 Kashi TLC granola/snack bars, originally $3.99 each, on sale for $2.99 each
x4 Kashi crackers, originally $2.79 each
x2 Nivea Women's Body Wash Gel, originally $2.99 each
x2 Simply Lemonade individual drinks, originally $1.02, on sale for $0.73 each
x1 Simply Orange individual drink, originally $1.02, on sale for $0.73
x1 Seventh Generation Dish Soap, originally $2.69
x4 Campbell's chunky soup, originally $2.09 each, on sale for $1.50 each
x4 Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Rice, originally $2.34 each
x2 Merona Cropped Capris, originally $21.99 each, on sale for $5.48 each
x1 Merona Denim Cropped Capris, originally $19.99, on sale for $9.98
x1 Merona jersey/cotton sun dress, originally $20.00, on sale for $10.00
x1 Merona silk sun dress, originally $39.99, on sale for $9.98

Manufacturer Coupons used (Printable, Newspaper inserts and some were found on packaging):
x2 $1 off of 2 bags of skittles bags of candy
x1 $4 off of 4 bags of T Bonz or Beggin Strips dog treats
x1 $1 off 1 bag of Beggin Strips
x1 $1 off of 1 Velveeta Cheesy Skillet
x1 Free 5ct. 24 hour Zyrtec allergy
x3 $1 off Kashi Crackers
x1 $1.50 off 1 Kashi Product 
x1 $1 off 3 Kashi granola/snack bars
x2 $2 off any Nivea product
x2 $1 off Simply Lemonade individual drinks
x1 $1 off Simply Orange individual drink
x1 $1 off Seventh Generation product
x1 $1.50 off 4 cans of Campbell's chunky soup
x2 $1 off 2 Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Rice products Coupons used (printed from their website, 2 prints per coupon per computer is allowed):
x3 $1 off Diet Pepsi 12 packs
x3 $1 off T Bonz dog treats
x2 $1 off Beggin Strips dog treats
x1 $1 off Velveeta Cheesy Skillet
x1 $1 off 3 Kashi TLC granola/snack bars
x2 $1 off 2 Kashi crackers
x2 $1 off Nivea Women's Body Wash
x1 $1 off Seventh Generation product
x4 $0.75 off purchase of Campbell's chunky soup and Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Rice
x3 $5 off Merona pants/bottoms
x2 30% off 1 Merona item when you buy 2 (took $3 off x2)

Would have been: $221.44 retail
With target coupons, manufacturer's coupons and sales, Total OOP: $51.20
Total Savings: 77%    : )  Pretty A-Mazing!