Watching Your Words

Even when I don’t think he is listening to me, he clearly is.

When Drake was younger I used to take him to Gymboree classes. Drake started at around 8 months, well before he could walk let alone climb, and we stopped shortly before Juliet was born when he was almost 3. They had all kinds of fun and neat equipment for the children to explore and as Drake attended through the years, I noticed how other children would start to get the concept of climbing whereas Drake never did.

At home when I heard stories from friends about having to switch to toddler beds quickly because their children were starting to try to climb out of their cribs, I always gave a sympathetic ear but admitted that I never had to deal with such an issue; my son was not a climber. And it was true. When we finally transitioned Drake out of a crib at a little over 3, it was simply because Mr. Chocolate felt like it was time. Drake never tried climbing out, which is why we waited and waited and finally made the choice on our own.

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Favourite Gear: Months 0-3

When Little Oats was a newborn, there were so many products that we loved. While I’m not on board with buying every baby product on the shelves, there are a handful that I swear by.

I know that while I was pregnant, I read every gear guide I could get my hands on, looking for recommendations and suggestions about the best things for a new baby. And now, sitting on the other side of that ‘newborn’ phase, I thought I would share what we loved most.

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Old Fashioned Chess Pie

There are some things that just scream summertime to me in Tennessee. Local farmers setting up booths on the side of the road selling produce, the sudden influx of activities outdoors like family movie nights on the lawn, and, of course, the oppressive humidity. Every year about this time I start dreaming of frozen yogurt, fresh strawberries, and chess pie. Most of you may think of chess pie as a holiday treat, especially here in the South around Thanksgiving. And depending on where you are in the South, you’ll probably find different types of chess pie like chocolate or pecan. I, on the other hand, think of it as a summer treat and like it as uncomplicated as possible. I like my chess pie served cold because I think it’s sweeter that way instead of the room temperature you often find chess pie at. It’s probably just a taste preference thing but room temperature chess pie is just… wrong.

To me a perfect afternoon snack is a cup of coffee – yes, even in this heat – with a slice of chess pie. Here’s my family’s recipe:

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IUGR – the condition I had and never heard of

At my first prenatal checkup, when Baby Carrot was a wee 7 weeks in utero, my sonogram tech asked if the paperwork I filled out when I came in for a pregnancy test was accurate. Based on my last period and what I believed was the conception date, Baby Carrot was supposed to be measuring two weeks larger. I was 100% certain of my dates – we had been TTC for a while and I was charting pretty religiously – so the tech wrote it off to an early ultrasound and margin of error.

Due to a few wonky results from my prenatal tests, I had a few extra ultrasounds between 9 and 12 weeks to check for a possible clotting disorder. Nothing turned up and I was an unlikely candidate for one, given my family history, but one thing remained steady – Baby Carrot was measuring 1-2 weeks smaller than her gestational age actually was. This remained a pattern throughout my entire pregnancy. I began showing late and barely gained any weight, despite having no morning sickness nor most of the typical pregnancy discomforts. My doctors were never concerned because I’m overweight to begin with, and my body seemed to develop a food control mechanism for me once I got pregnant – I actually began eating less because I would start to feel full after just a few bites. My cravings were actually healthy – I started wanting fish after nearly a lifetime of hating it, and had a hard time with carbs, which otherwise make up 90% of my diet. When I asked if it’s normal for the baby to be measuring small, I was given a variety of reasons – Mr. Carrot and I are both short people; “someone has to be at the bottom of the curve” and because her heartbeat was always normal and she was a very active mover, no one gave her size any worry, even though she consistently measured below the 10th percentile in size.

The first time I ever heard of IUGR – Intrauterine Growth Restriction – was after I delivered Baby Carrot. During my regular 36 week checkup, I mentioned to my doctor that Baby Carrot was on the quiet side the last few weeks, after a few days of being very active. I wasn’t worried – it was truly a casual mention, and I was feeling great overall  - but my doctor decided to order an ultrasound. Her concern was that the baby went from breech position the week before to head down at that checkup, and she thought that maybe she was moving less because she was getting tangled in her umbilical cord.

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Top 10 Favorite Drugstore Beauty Products

I started wearing less makeup after having kids, so over the past couple of years I’ve sought out more budget-friendly drugstore replacements for some of my favorite products and brands. It didn’t make sense for me to spend a lot on mascara that I would only wear once or twice a month, and there are some really amazing drugstore products that rival the quality of much pricier brands!

1) Wet and Wild Brandywine #666 – A makeup artist introduced this cult lipliner to me over a decade ago, and I still use it all the time. It’s a brownish neutral color that looks great on everyone.

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Summer Pasta with Shrimp

I love me some pasta, but I’m not a fan of red sauce. But I am a fan of dinner on the table in 30 mins or less. So here’s a quick summer pasta that was a hit for my whole family. I made it with shrimp, but you could really use any protein in the same way. 


Extra virgin olive oil
Juice from one lemon
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 lb raw deveined shrimp
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 box pasta (I used rotini)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
6-8 basil leaves, sliced thin

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Baby Pencil’s Firsts

It’s amazing how much our babies change right before our eyes. But since we are so busy in the everyday-ness of parenting, it’s easy to miss those smaller milestones! I’m not talking about taking their first steps or saying their first words… I’m talking about those itty, bitty milestones that don’t get recognized but are still HUGE in our eyes!

I got an iPhone only because I was told it was the fastest way to capture videos and pictures. I was also told that since babies grow SO fast, that I should try to capture as many videos and photos every day. I literally blew the memory out of my phone, so I began to look back and I’m shocked at how much little Pencil has changed!  So Baby Pencil, here are some of the “firsts” I was able to capture in the first 4 months of your life:

Your first nap in your crib

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