Friday, February 21, 2014

Our Life Without TV

As a young married couple Eric and I would routinely curl up on the couch while we ate dinner and catch up on our favorite shows. I knew this wasn't a habit I wanted to continue after we had kids but when we were both tired from work and needed some down time it was a nice way to spend the evening snuggled up together. After Echo was born my TV watching actually increased quite a bit. Let's face it, I was exhausted! I didn't feel up to much of anything other than lying on the couch. I also watched Netflix on the Ipad in the middle of the night while I rocked and nursed Echo, it distracted me from how little sleep I was getting and helped me save my sanity. The whole time I felt vaguely guilty about it, I never wanted to be spending this much time in front of the TV after I had kids.

When I was growing up we didn't watch much television. We always had a family dinner around the table and talked about our days. After that my mom would usually read out loud to us while we drew or played with blocks or just listened. Occasionally we would watch a show as a family, no way would we have been aloud to have TVs in our rooms or all go off to watch separate shows. In addition to this my brother and I were allowed to pick a few cartoons to watch before my dad got home from work, usually not more than 30 or 45 minutes worth and always something we would watch together.

I had envisioned my new family's TV schedule going something like the way it did for me when I was a kid. I definitely didn't imagine we would eat in front of the TV like we had gotten in the habit of doing. However, as Echo grew older and more aware of her surroundings our TV watching gradually tapered off. It was magical, we didn't have to make a conscious choice to cut out TV, it just went away on it's own. When Echo started eating solids it wasn't practical to eat in front of the television so we started having family meals around the dinner table. Even if we had wanted to watch TV Echo had no interest in it and certainly wasn't going to sit through a half hour show.

We started to find that the less TV we watched the less we wanted to watch. Eric started reading out loud to us in the evenings after dinner. If the weather was nice we might take a walk or sit out on our back deck. After over a month of not going near the TV we tried turning it on for Eric's mom when she was visiting and discovered that it no longer worked. Apparently it had been damaged in a thunder storm we had a month earlier and we never even noticed it was broken. I would guess that it's been about 6 months since we really watched any TV (although it could be more, I really can't remember). On the rare occasion that we get Echo to bed early Eric and I might watch some Sherlock on his Ipad but it doesn't happen often. I used to sometimes watch a show on Youtube when Echo was napping but I ended up feeling like it was a waste of my precious free time, there are so many other things I'd rather be doing!

I couldn't be happier with our new life without TV. We did eventually get a new television set (a hand me down from one of Eric's coworkers) but it has been sitting on a table near our entry way since Eric brought it home, we've never even bothered to set it up. We canceled our Netflix and we never had  cable. Eventually I want to set up the TV so that we can have the occasional family movie night but I don't see us going back to watching TV on a daily basis the way we were. This is just another way that having Echo has been the best things that's ever happened to us, she helped us kick our bad TV habit :-)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pregnancy the Second Time Around

Playing at Piedmont park earlier this month, my bump has already gotten huge!
This pregnancy feels so different from my last pregnancy that it hardly seems like the same thing is happening to me at all. This has me convinced I'm having a boy this time around (not logical I know but it's my gut feeling). I do wonder how much this pregnancy is actually different and how much of it is just my perception of pregnancy changing. here are 5 differences between this pregnancy and my last one.

1. I don't think about it, hardly at all.
With my first pregnancy I thought about the baby that was growing inside me constantly. I was always stroking my belly and talking to my little sweet pea. This time I usually forget that I'm pregnant unless I am experiencing a symptom at that very moment. I'm sure I will be thinking about it more as my belly gets bigger and I really start to feel those kicks but right now I am just so busy with Echo that I don't have much time to dwell on the new baby.

2. My symptoms are different.
Last time around I was sick as a dog the whole first trimester, I threw up almost on a daily basis and found it hard to do much of anything. I was also unreasonably tired all the time. This time I have had a little nausea but not nearly as bad as with Echo. I haven't noticed being particularly tired (maybe I'm just so used to being tired that it doesn't register?). I haven't had much in the way of symptoms yet this time which is another reason I don't think about being pregnant.

3. I'm experiencing everything sooner.
For starters, I'm showing sooner. Much sooner! I can't believe how huge my bump is already, it makes me terrified of having a huge baby this time. I also wasn't quite ready to be so big so soon, *sigh*. At least I have only gained 4 lbs so far. I also am experiencing certain symptoms sooner such as heartburn which I didn't get until late in my third trimester last time. The really exciting thing that is happening sooner this time is that I started to feel movement yesterday! Last time I didn't feel anything until 19 weeks and this time I am feeling it at 16 and a half. Maybe this will help the pregnancy feel more real.

4. I'm not as careful about what I eat and do.
Ok, I was never that careful to be honest. I fall in to the "laid back mom" category and I really don't stress about things that have a .01 percent chance of increasing my risk for birth defects. Still, I at least thought about it a bit more last time. This time  especially since I keep forgetting I'm pregnant, I am doing all kinds of stuff I'm not supposed to. I still drink coffee, I lift and carry a 24 lb toddler all the time, I eat lunch meat, the list goes on and on. I am probably eating more veggies this pregnancy than last but that was just a general life choice not something that is pregnancy related. I figure Echo turned out really awesome and I didn't stress about this stuff when I was pregnant with her so why worry now?

5.  I'm terrified of labor and delivery.
Last time I was pretty confidant in my ability to achieve my goal of having a med free birth. I knew this was what my body was made for and although I expected it to be painful I really wasn't worried about handling it and knew it was a "purposeful pain". Well I was able to have my med free birth like I planned but holy h*ll did it hurt! Anyone who tells you that childbirth is magical and/or beautiful is full of BS. It is messy, violent and incredibly painful. And this is coming from someone who had a relatively short labor (12 hours start to finish) with no complications. This time around I am much more frightened because I know how much it hurts. I am honestly still on the fence about wether I want to go med free again. I guess I have 6 more months to think about it!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine Coffee Cozies

I don't have much time for blogging on this lovely sunny day but wanted to quickly share a little Valentine's day project I whipped up for my parents. We often go out for coffee together so i had the idea to sew some coffee cozies using some of my scrap fabric and turned the whole thing in to a cute card! They came out really cute and were a breeze to make, you just need a cardboard coffee sleeve to use as a template.

For Eric I made a restaurant passport that we can "stamp" with stickers each time we try a place on our list. it will also give us a good list to work from when we are trying to decide where to go on date nights. He also got a pair of cozy slippers (which I did not make) and a card.

For Echo I gave her a little felt bag with hello kitty crayons and glitter glue pens in it. Apparently this is the best gift you could give a  one and a half year old girl because she absolutely adores it, to the point where she had a huge screaming meltdown when we took it away from her at bath time. She needs a lot of help using the glitter glue pens but is enjoying experimenting with them. She loves that her new crayons have a picture of hello kitty on the label. She keeps pointing at it and saying "gat!" which is how she says cat.

I hope everyone had a happy Valentine's day and got lots of quality time with their loved ones!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Home Improvements in the Works

Last week I just about had a meltdown about the state of our house. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by how much needs to be done around here and after spending an hour trying to clean the bathrooms (with Echo trying to help me by sticking her hands in the toilet and spilling cleaner everywhere) I had just about had it. The toilet in our master bath was scratched and stained and no matter how hard I scrubbed it just didn't look clean. I was so frustrated and felt like all my hard work cleaning was basically pointless.

That night I complained to Eric and told him how down I was feeling about it, lo and behold he installed a new toilet for me that very weekend! I told him I had no idea it was so easy to get what I wanted, all I had to do was ask. He said that's all I have to do any time I want anything, awww <3  So here is the new toilet!

I know I am a grown up because I am super excited to get a new toilet. Sheesh! What has happened to me? It's also the awesome kind with two different flush options and uses waaaayyyyy less water than our old toilet. Since this photo was taken I touched up the paint around the toilet, apparently this one is skinnier than our last one.

 Above you can see our old, yucky toilet and our new toilet in it's box. Apparently it wasn't too hard to install but it was pretty gross work. Maybe we will get a new toilet for the guest bathroom sometime soon too. The coolest part is that our new toilet was free! Our water company gives you a $100 credit for upgrading to a high efficiency toilet. Guess how much our new toilet cost? $98, oh yeah!

Two flushing options, fancy!
In other home improvement news we are making headway on the preparations for Echo's new room. We bought the bamboo flooring so it can be sitting out and acclimating to the air in our house. I have also started the mural in her new room and it is looking awesome so far.

Other short terms plans for house include putting in some shelves in the master bath to keep things from getting so cluttered and also to keep thing out of Echo's reach. There are still so many things that need to be done around the house but just making this small bit of progress really makes me feel better!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow and Ice Part 2

All of us photography enthusiasts here in Georgia have been rushing outside to take some photos of the gorgeous snow and Ice we've been having. here are some favorites from the past two days.

View out my living room windows this morning

Our mountain cabin, our house is so pretty in the snow!

Echo liked the snow a little better this time but still didn't want to walk in it

My Dad and I built a tiny snowman! it only lasted about 30 minutes before it started to melt.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My New Wallet

We have several exciting home improvement projects in the works but first I wanted to share my new wallet! I had planned to make some accessories to go with my new bag from the get go but due to an inconsistent napping schedule from Echo and some Valentine's Day projects (which I will also be sharing soon!) I hadn't had much time to work on them. With all the snow and ice we have been having I had a little time to myself today to finish up this wallet from Modest Maven. I had actually tried a few other patterns from the internet world of sewing but wasn't happy with how they came out until this one.

This was actually really hard for me because sewing things with right angles and exact measurements isn't my thing ( a friend of mine described it as "freestyle sewing" lol). But this tutorial made it pretty easy and while it's not perfect, in the end I was pretty happy.

This was also a great project to use up some of my fabric scraps and I used the same canvas plaid that I used for my purse exterior for the lining of my wallet so that ties together nicely. I wanted the closure to be a snap but could not for the life of me find my snap pliers and I was impatient to finish so I used velcro for now. Maybe I will replace it with a snap down the road.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homemade English Muffins

For Christmas this year Eric got me some amazing bread baking supplies and cookbooks. I now have the start of a great bread baking library and since one of my new years resolutions was to continue my bread baking journey it has been the perfect thing to get me going.

The fact that it has been such a cold and sometimes snowy winter has also encouraged me in my baking and I have really been enjoying trying new recipes and learning more about the art of baking. One of the fabulous books Eric got me is called "Baking Bread, Old and New Traditions" And it is in this book that you can find the recipe I used for my home made English Muffins. Baking Bread is  a good basic bread cookbook with a decent variety of recipes as well as some baking technique that is nice to know. It's a really nice addition to my cookbook collection.

I have been scarfing these things down for breakfast and they are so much better than store bought muffins! They really came together pretty quickly and easily too. Check out the recipe:

1 Tablespoon dry yeast
Pinch sugar
1/4 cup warm water
4 to 41/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1/14 cup warm milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup cornmeal for sprinkling

In a small bowl combine yeast, sugar and warm water, stir to combine and let stand until foamy.  Place 2 cups flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook and make a well in the middle. Add egg, milk, butter and yeast mixture and blend until smooth. Gradually add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until a soft dough that just clears the side of the bowl forms. Turn dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat and cover with a dishtowel. Let stand until doubled in size, about and hour and a half. Lightly sprinkle work surface with cornmeal and roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Sprinkle top with cornmeal and use a upturned drinking glass to cut out biscuit shapes. You can re-roll and cut out extra dough  until it is all used up. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and lightly grease. Cook muffins for about 6 to 7 minutes on each side until well browned.

This recipe makes about 12 3 inch muffins. They taste great with melted butter or homemade strawberry jam :-)

I hope to share some of the other baking we've been doing with you soon. We have been cooking up some truly delicious breads but I just have't been good about documenting it. Hopefully I can get my act together this month and post more recipes!

Monday, February 3, 2014

January Photos

Helping to sweep.

It's been a cold January and we have had to get creative and find lots of indoor activities to entertain an active toddler. We've done a ton of reading, painting and drawing, building with blocks and general household chores like sweeping, unloading the dishwasher and folding laundry (Echo love all these things). We also made a little time to get outside and enjoyed visits from Eric's family.

Mueller family visit
Echo and Aunt Jessie playing on the ipad

Building with blocks

Building with blocks

Playing at Kennesaw Mountain on a rare warm day

Only one picture of our snowstorm since I did a whole other post about it.

Echo is getting good at painting with watercolors. She also paints with tempera and draws with crayons, colored pencils and markers. Lately she has been learning how to glue things too. 
As always you can see the full set of photos on my shutterfly .