Gaga for Gold

I can't seem to get enough of gold lately. There's something about it that's fun but also tastefully feminine and it can also add a splash of sparkle and fun to an otherwise plain winter outfit. Whether you're in full-out gold or have little touches of gold added to your outfit, there's a way for everyone to embrace this glittering trend!

via Oscar de la Renta

Here are some of my favorite gold pieces (many of them on sale now!) -- they could even make great last minute presents for someone (or yourself)!

1) Gold Stripe Dress  |  2) Tulle Dress  |  3)  Lacy Dress  |  4) Strapless Dress

Gold Dresses: I adore these sparkling frocks...they'd make great holiday or New Years Eve party dresses!

read more »

Telling the girls

As with our last adoption, we have very little time between when we matched and when we'll be bringing a baby home. This means that there is no time to withhold any of the information from the girls while the situation becomes more stable. We were going to have to tell them about the baby right away and get them prepared for a new sibling as soon as possible. As I mentioned in my last post about preparing an older sibling for adoption, I think this is more challenging without all the typical gradual onset cues of pregnancy.

When Mr. Jacks and I finally decided that we'd be moving forward on this adoption, we were excited to break the news to the girls. We waited until after telling the agency we would accept the placement. This gave us a little breathing room and time to prepare. Since September, each night we go around the dinner table and talk about our favorite part of the day and what we are grateful for that day. Focusing on the positive aspects of our days has shown to improve happiness and cognitive performance, so it makes us all feel good and the girls look forward to doing this every night. We decided that we would tell the girls about the baby during our gratitudes. That night I said that I was grateful for Mama S and that Mama S was having another baby who would be joining our family... and how grateful I would be that our family would be able to take care of that baby. It was actually a pretty emotional moment for me and I'm sure the girls could sense that.

I thought the girls might be pretty confused about me dropping this bomb in the middle of dinner, but they both got it right away. I think the most amazing part was Jack Jack's reaction. Her jaw kind of dropped and she asked, "This baby is growing in Mama S's tummy just like me??!!" I imagine she felt really proud and confident in that moment. She really understood that her new sibling would share a special connection with her. Little Jacks immediately peppered us with a ton of questions about the adoption and the baby. I wish I had videotaped the whole event so I could re-live the excitement around that dinner table!

We quickly realized that telling the girls isn't just a one time event, but an ongoing process. They have questions that come up daily and they both fantasize about what it will be like with a new baby (maybe) brother. Little Jacks seems to think that all babies enter families through adoption. We had a long talk about the difficult circumstances that often lead people to place their babies and how we know a lot of adopted children, but there are also a lot of children who stay with their birth families too. Jack Jack wants daily reassurance that baby is still going to come live with us. While my natural inclination would be to make a definitive statement that the baby will come live with us, the stark reality is that anything could happen between now and placement, including that birth mom could decide to parent. The only thing that I can really tell her for certain is that whether the baby lives with us or with birth mom, he will always be her baby (maybe) brother.

read more »

18 Hanukkah Craft Projects for Kids

In our family, I like to take things one holiday at a time. There is no mention of Thanksgiving until the month of November, and I don't take out Hanukkah books until Thanksgiving is over.  So now that I'm officially ready for the holiday season to start, I thought I would share some of the super-cute craft projects that, while messy, look to be mostly toddler friendly. A few are options I will keep in my back pocket for a year or two, until Colin is able to focus on a project for longer than ten minutes and my patience threshold for glitter explosions is greater (if that ever happens).

Candy Dreidels  This looks simple and yummy enough to make an annual tradition.

Felt Dreidel Banner

read more »

Where We've Been this Year

I haven't blogged for a long time for a few reasons. The logistical reason is that getting used to working from home with a 2 year old at home at the same time has made time management pretty tricky. And emotionally, it has been a hard year in terms of our adoption wait. Since we had done fertility stuff for the year prior and now have been in the adoption waiting process for 10 months now, it often brings me to tears how hard it is for us to add another child to our family. And to be honest, as happy as I am for the other bees here who are having their second and third babies, I often don't feel like my story has much to contribute.

But, as the year winds down, I thought I should write an update on how our year has been in the adoption process. Not only so that you know what is going on with us personally, but also so that everyone here can get an idea of what it's like in the waiting game of adoption.

And what has happened in our adoption process this year? Plenty!

We were officially on the wait list in February. Nothing was really moving the first couple of months, which is totally normal, so we didn't think much about it. We assumed that this time around we would likely wait longer than 5 months like we did for Little Piñata, so we planned for a longer wait. We originally were working with just our agency in Nashville, but soon decided to add the agency that matched us with Little Piñata (it's a few hours away but still in-state).

Then, at the beginning of April, just a few weeks before our scheduled trip to Italy to visit Mr. P's sister and brother-in-law, we got a call from our social worker that there were TWO birthmothers that would be looking at our profile that were due by the end of the month! If we were chosen we would need to cancel our trip to Italy for sure. This was so exciting! And when this agency shows profiles, they literally have 2-4 profiles at most, so this gave us at least a 25% chance in each situation! We were so excited!

This was a little stressful because we didn't know if we were going to be headed to Italy or bringing a baby home! So, I was stressed and praying a lot, and figuring out what it might look like to cancel our plane tickets, etc. But, about 4-5 days before we left we found out that one of the birthmothers chose to parent and another chose a different couple. But, the consolation was a trip to Italy, so we couldn't complain.

But, we also knew that our agency was pretty small, so that it was unlikely our profile would be looked at again for awhile, so in that regard it was more disappointing.

read more »

100+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Little Kids

Growing up my family didn't really celebrate Christmas since my parents were first generation immigrants. Sometimes we had a tree, but we never exchanged presents, believed in Santa, or otherwise celebrated the holiday season. But now that I have kids of my own, the holidays have really become much more magical experiencing it through their eyes. Charlie and Olive have just turned 3 and 5, and it's the first time where they both will understand Christmas. I can't wait to do all the fun little traditions we've added over the years as they've gotten older. We'll make a gingerbread house, bake cookies for Santa, make salt-dough ornaments and marshmallow garlands for the tree, they'll go to sleep in their matching Christmas jammies, and we'll open presents and stockings on Christmas morning. Elf on the Shelf was too ambitious for me, but next year I'd love to try an advent calendar of activities!

We started filling stockings for the first time last year, and I wasn't sure what to put in them since I'd never had one before. But now it's become the most fun part of Christmas gifts for me to give, and I try to include things both Charlie and Olive will love. They have so much fun with all the little surprises! I spent about $40/kid this year, slowly gathering each item over the past month. This is what's going in their stockings this year: doodle books, silly string, floamJacob's ladder toyfinger friends nail stickers, scented markers, knit crowns, Polly Pocket color changer figurine / Hot Wheels Color changer, astronaut ice cream, candy necklace (nostalgic for me!), and chocolate coins. Last year their stockings included:an M&M fan, Pez dispenser, water wheel oil timer, sunglasses, mini flashlights, masking tape, and a mini etch a sketch.

We'd been working on a stocking stuffer Swarm, but I think most people tend to leave the stocking stuffers for last so we weren't able to pull one together in time. I scoured the web to see what was out there, and decided to pull together my own comprehensive list of stocking stuffers. Even though they're little gifts, we still want them to be personal and fun to each recipient, and hopefully you can find a couple that your little ones will love. 

read more »

Postpartum Freezer Meals & The Joys of Cooking with a Toddler

I did a lot to prepare for baby #1, but I failed miserably in anticipating just how difficult it would be to get dinner on the table. It was a major struggle to cook anything - one of my lowest points postpartum was a meal of tacos that never actually made it onto our plates.

This time around I’ve got a game plan. I’m hoping to get 25 meals in the freezer before Trikester 2.0 arrives. So far, I’m on target. I started warming up over the summer, doing a trial run of a few dishes that were easy to grab out of the freezer, and then throw in the crock-pot or the oven during September when we were all re-adjusting to Mama going back to work. I really, really liked having these meals! Although most were good, they weren’t all winners - I’ve got two more pans of a broccoli, chicken and rice casserole sitting in the freezer that we just can’t bring ourselves to eat.

During my warm-up, I discovered a few things:

  • It’s easiest to get extra meals in the freezer if you pick a recipe that makes two or three batches - you can eat one for dinner that day, and stash the other in the freezer.
  • If you’re going to devote a big chunk of your day (or nap time) to freezer meal prep, pick recipes that use many of the same ingredients. Make your beef recipes one day, your chicken another, etc. It’s less prep work and easier to buy in bulk, saving money.
  • When you’re making two different recipes, prep all the vegetables for both recipes, and then prep all the meat. It saves time because you don’t have to wash the cutting board and knives between each dish.
  • It’s worth it to explore new grocery stores. I’ve never been an Aldi’s fan, but some of their meat prices can’t be beat. I really like their organic, grass fed ground beef - when I catch it on sale, it’s less than $5.00 a pound.

A colander full of clean peppers waiting to be chopped 

Last weekend I spent about an hour putting together five freezer meals (I did this at 8:00 a.m. - hence the Trikester in his pajamas below) - two batches of jambalaya and three batches of sausage, onions and peppers. Both recipes use a ton of onions and peppers, so it was cheap to buy and prep them in bulk. Below are the recipes, and as well as a chronicle of the Trikester’s escapades when I was working in the kitchen.

read more »

Medela Freestyle vs. Pump in Style

When I was pregnant with Miss H, I didn't do a whole lot of research into pumps. I had heard the Medela brand enough to determine that I'd probably buy a Medela. And when I started looking at the different models, I mostly focused on price. They were all fairly expensive but the price difference between the two models is roughly $75-$100 (depending on where you shop and the style of bag you get for the Pump in Style). I went with the Pump in Style and in early 2012 paid $265 for it, the best deal I could find at the time. Currently you can get it a Pump in Style as low as $235 on Amazon, depending on what style of bag you choose. Alternatively the Freestyle right now is $310 on Amazon.

Going into this last pregnancy, I decided that I really wanted the freedom of a Freestyle. I also liked the idea of having two pumps so that I could leave one at work and one at home (last go around, I hated having to lug that silly pump back and forth!). I ended up buying a Freestyle off of someone for $225. It was new in box -- she'd purchased it but never ended up needing to pump. I was thrilled about getting such a great deal (of course, after I purchased it I found out my work was installing hospital grade pumps into the new lactation room, thereby eliminating my need to lug a pump back and forth!).

Now that I've been using my Freestyle for the past 2 months, I have to say that, as far as pumps go, I love it! It's a significant upgrade over the Pump in Style. If you're currently debating between the two pumps, here's my head to head comparison.

Freestyle vs. Pump in Style

read more »

© copyright 2011-2014 Hellobee