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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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Want, Need, Wear, Read - What the Bees are Getting Their Kids for Christmas

Christmas is less than 2 weeks away (I have my shopping just about done), so today the bloggers are sharing what they're gifting their little ones -- something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read!

Mrs. Garland - 11 Months

Want: Jackson loves playing with the walker at daycare, but we don't have one at home yet. I love this wooden one from Ikea!

Need: We really need to get one of these cute bathtub spout covers. Jackson is all over the place in the bathtub lately and is fascinated with the faucet. I just know one of these days he's going to hurt himself!

Wear: We're desperate for more socks in our house right now. I've had a surprisingly hard time finding socks with grippy bottoms (he's on the verge of walking, so non-slip is a necessity!), and Jackson is constantly pulling his socks off and losing them in random places - I found one in one of my pans the other night while I was cooking dinner!

Read: I'm obsessed with these babylit board books right now - they're so cute and classic, and Jackson loves the illustrations! I want to get him the whole set eventually.

Mrs. Chocolate - Juliet, 1

Want: Juliet loves books but she also adores music and dancing. Her big gift will be this mp3 player.

Need: Juliet's therapist recommended this piggy bank for her to help with fine motor skills so I'll probably get her that.

Wear: Christmas PJs. Drake picked out this pair for her.

Read: I always get books and goodness knows Juliet loves them: Furry Friends (Touch and Feel) and Peekaboo Farm (Touch and Feel Action Flap).

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Baby-proofing Your Christmas Decor

Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I love the sights, the sounds, the smell, and just the feeling I get throughout the whole holiday season. It's always been my favorite time of year, and I get downright giddy when Thanksgiving is over and it's time for me to break out the Christmas decorations.

Mr. Garland and I love to make the house feel as festive as possible with Christmas decorations, and since we don't typically decorate for any other season, we give ourselves permission to go a bit crazy for the month of December. But this year, things are a little different. This is the first year we've had a baby in the house for Christmas! And he's mobile! And loves to get into everything!

Many of our friends with babies that are Jackson's age have really scaled back on the decorating. Some are skipping the tree altogether, many are blocking off the tree or putting all of the decorations up where the babies cannot reach them. And it's probably smart to take that route. But me? I'm a bit selfish...I didn't want to let go of any of my typical Christmas decorations, so Mr. Garland and I decided to find ways to make our usual Christmas set-up work for Jackson, rather than taking anything away from it.

So, here are my tips for decking your halls and still keeping things safe for the baby or toddler in your life:

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Printable Christmas Gift Tags

Have you started packing those pretty gifts yet? I have a new set of Christmas tag printables that I hope you will have fun using. Just print this printable file, cut and use your favorite twine.

Happy gifting!

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