Tuesday, December 10, 2013

*Homemade* Christmas Gift Ideas

 After posting all of the wonderful businesses and products that my friends are selling for Christmas gifts, I decided to also include a post on homemade gifts, because I seem to fancy them. Most of these I have made before and gifted, so it's safe to share them with you now. Let me know what you think or if you try any of them! (P.S. I'm not super crafty, so they're pretty simple).

Sugar Scrub- Sugar scrubs are so easy, inexpensive, and delightful! The last time I honestly made some was at my baby shower... but I plan on making some this holiday season! If you already have an arsenal of essential oils, it's even easier. All you need are mason jars, sugar, oil, essential oils, and a little decoration! Doesn't Peppermint Sugar Scrub sound divine!?

Home-made Calendar- I made one of these for myself and gifted one a few years ago, and i seem to have misplaced it... All you have to do is gather a bunch of (free) paint chips from Home Depot or Lowe's, cut and position in the frame size of your choice, and put it BEHIND the glass so you can use the glass as dry-erase and change each month. GENIUS! You can find more directions for this exact picture here.

Picture Coasters- These are my favorite. So much that I may have overdone it last year with them, But they're so easy and cheap! Just buy 4 white tiles from Home Depot or Lowe's ( .14 each), and print off some pictures of the loved one that you are gifting to. Cut the picture to size, Mod Podge onto the tile, Mod Podge over the picture, and finish off my spraying with CLEAR spray paint a few times to seal. Then tie with a pretty bow! These are the ones I made for my sister last year.
(Note: You can also use scrapbook paper and I have *heard* fabric works too! And save money by making your own Mod Podge by mixing 1/2 Elmer's glue and 1/2 water in a mason jar and SHAKE!)

Wool Dryer Balls- I just made these for the first time. They are a little time consuming and can make your hand a little achy, but I think they're fun and a thoughtful, useful gift! This is a picture of the ones I made, but you can follow this link for directions!

Baked Goods- Who doesn't love a jar of cookie mixings, a fresh loaf of Amish bread, or some homemade candy? I don't have a link for this, as I am still searching for the perfect recipes, although I have some ideas... Simply scour Pinterest or the internet to find a favorite recipe and make it happen! Don't forget to wrap it up nice and pretty!

Homemade Vanilla Extract- My newest adventure. Vanilla extract is made from Vanilla Beans and vodka (or rum or whiskey). I also don't have a link for this one, as there are SO many options for making this. Check out Pinterest for a TON of ideas and recipes- I can't share mine yet because they are not finished! I'll let you know how they turned out soon! (Note: This gift takes 2-3 months before ready. You can make the little bottles and add a "ready by" date for the recipient).

(Not my picture!)
 Applesauce-Cinnamon Ornaments- I just LOVE these! Not only do they smell good and make a great gift, but they are easy, fast, and the kids can help you make them! I had my mommy friends over last week to make some- and there was enough dough left for me to make a dozen!

 We used 1 cup of applesauce, 1 1/4 cup cinnamon, and mix with hands. You want the dough to be moist, but not wet. Roll out in between wax paper to 1/4in thick, and cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes. Use a straw to poke holes for hanging (press into dough and twist). Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours- I actually did a little longer. Or you can let them sit on the counter for 3-4 days to harden. Add ribbon, writing, glitter, whatever your heart desires! I have given these as small gifts, but I know others who has used them as gift tags! So cute!

Have a Merry DIY Christmas!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas

Hi All! It's Christmastime! I know, I'm a little late- hopefully not too late to get some of these deals. Hopefully this can get your mind turning to get some gifts taken care of! So, to begin a couple posts about Christmas ideas, here are some friends of mine that have their own little businesses that provide neat gifts for the women in your life. Maybe you can find some inspiration or a few gifts here!

1. Jamberry Nails
Jamberry nails are nail wraps that come in unique designs, colors, and patterns. Unlike nail polish, they last up to 2 weeks on fingernails! For more information, visit this link:

2. Origami Owl
Personalized jewelry, anyone? My mom has one of these and LOVES it. Contact one of the ladies below to place an order.

3. Marvelous Couture

All  sorts of jewelry and accessories on this Etsy site! Check it out for a unique and beautiful gift for your loved one.

4. DesignsByRade

Adorable handmade fabric items! Aprons, bags, flowers... a must see. 

5. ReisPeices

 Of course, I HAD to include the fabric budgeting wallet that I love... She also has makeup bags, lunch bags, mens wallets, accessories, etc.

6. Honi Kine

A personal favorite... these are the teething necklaces that my friend Sharon so carefully crafts.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baby Led Weaning

Why have I not written about this yet!?!? It's a huge part of my life, something that I do everyday... and yet, I haven't shared it with you. Can we chalk this one up to "mom brain"?

What is Baby Led Weaning?
"Baby-led weaning (often also referred to as BLW) is a method of adding complementary foods to a baby's diet of formula or breastmilk. A method of food progression, BLW facilitates the development of age appropriate oral motor control while maintain eating as a positive, interactive experience. Baby-led weaning allows babies to control their solid food consumption by "self-feeding" from the very beginning of their experiences with food."

Basically, it is the practice of starting solids with your baby that do not include purees and mush! Many doctors will tell you that you can start solids with baby between 4-6 months. The problem with starting that either is that baby's gut is not ready for real food yet and doesn't digest well. I know you are eager to start taking pictures of baby eating in the high chair, but just WAIT. You will have plenty of opportunity. It is best to wait until 6 months- later if baby shows no interest. Piper wasn't really interested in food until closer to 7 months- and by interest I mean watching you eat, reaching for food, squealing when you take a bite, etc. Wait for these cues.

For breakfast: a cutie (for play), a piece of rosemary lemon loaf, and teething tablets! I offered her coffee, but she didn't want the caffeine before nap time. Understandable.
Sidenote: on that note, another myth I want to bust right now is baby cereal. NOT NECESSARY. Believe me, I tried it in a desperate moment of longing for her to sleep longer! Babies don't like it, it doesn't help them sleep longer, AND it has no nutrition value- all it does it introduce carbs and empty calories into your baby's fragile tummy. PLEASE, leave the baby cereal on the shelf and walk away. 

Back to BLW...I actually started doing this with Piper before I knew it was a "thing". We tried a few jars of baby food with little success and lots of money wasted. She just didn't like it or want it. Then one night I gave her a piece of mashed up sweet potato when she wouldn't stop staring and whining at me. She about died of satisfaction! She ate quite a few pieces that night, gumming the bites with a toothless grin on her face. Yes, my daughter ate solid REAL food for 2 whole months before she even had 1 tooth!
Yes, that is pizza crust. One of her favorites.
Here are the rules of BLW- there are basically no rules. That's what is AWESOME (obviosuly always avoid honey until baby is 1; that is all). It's usually smart to start with soft solids like cooked sweet potato or avocado. Some mom friends have found great success cutting the food into thin strips for baby to hold. I never did this- just a decent size piece that I would put into her mouth and let her chew. This wasn't true BLW form- they say to put it all on the tray and let baby pick it up, but again, I didn't know yet I was doing BLW. After a few weeks, she started to pick things up on her own and mastered her pincher grasp.

When baby is under a year old, solid foods are basically just for taste and exploration. Don't worry about them getting enough solids, because their main source of nourishment should still be breastmilk (or formula). Most of the food ends up smeared, on their lap, or on the floor. It's OK! That's what this is about. Experiencing food.

It also makes you more aware of what you are eating, because most meals we also feed to her. It forced me to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our diet, which is a very good thing. And to this day, she prefers sauted green bell peppers and onions to PB&J. Weird.

Every time you sit down to dinner, sit baby down to eat with you. Let them eat real food. It does cut into your own eating time, but doesn't baby food-feeding do that too? You may want to take the peels off some foods (apples, peppers, potatoes) because without molars, baby can't tear those apart.

This is a BBQ rib. I checked the meat to make sure it wouldn't tear easily, and handed it to her to gnaw away!
 With BLW it is normal and natural for baby to gag and cough. HEAR ME OUT. That is NOT the same as choking. Babies actually need to do this to strengthen their eating ability and figure out how to move food around in their mouth. There are still moments that bring me to my feet afraid that she will choke, but she always manages to swallow and move on. If you're nervous, brush up on your CPR training. We did. 
Dinner is served!
We also waited to introduce crackers and harder foods until she had teeth and was able to bite down. We taught her what "bite" meant, and every time I put something in her mouth I say "bite" and she does.
Sometimes we eat chips at Grandma's house like this...
It's so fun to go to restaurants and just let baby eat. Hand them a piece of bread, a french fry, a carrot stick, whatever! They are happier and more enjoyable to be around, instead of whining and reaching for your food constantly.
And sometimes we eat pasta like this...
Interested in BLW but don't know where to start? The internet. Do your research and start where you are comfortable. I also just found this great website all about it http://www.babyledweaning.com/.

Happy Baby Led Weaning!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Help Us Bring Home Baby Thatcher

I don't usually do this, but this time is different. This time is family. Let me explain...

Caleb is my little brother. When he was 15, I introduced him to my new friend Sarah. She had recently been through a divorce and my family took her in and treated her as our own. We grew to lover her, and she developed close friendships with each of us.
 A few years down the road, Caleb came to each of his siblings and confessed his love for Sarah. He also asked for our blessing in pursuing a relationship with her. In all his teenaged years, he has never so much as looked at another girl- never dated, kissed, or even showed interest. Now we knew why! He had been in love with Sarah. After receiving our blessings he pursued Sarah, completely shocking her with his confession!

After awhile of dating, they both knew this was it. They became engaged that winter and were married the next summer. I cannot even express my excitement about my best friend marrying my brother! It was a dream come true! It just fit so well.


Since Sarah is older than Caleb, she was ready to start a family and Caleb has always longed to be a Dad. Because of some medical issues, no one was sure if and when they could conceive. After a year or two of prayer, Caleb and Sarah decided to move forward with ADOPTION! Caleb has always wanted to adopt from Africa, so Uganda became their chosen spot. Our family could not be happier with this decision. They have also decided to adopt TWO children at once, because they have a better chance of bringing home siblings. They also know that they want more than one child, so why not?

This brings me here. Adoption is EXPENSIVE. Caleb and Sarah have made the commitment to adopt debt-free. It can be done, but it is difficult and long. They have gotten much closer to bringing home their babies on the paperwork side and are waiting for those phone calls, but the finances are not yet completely in place. They have done garage sales, fund raisers, donations, saving, etc. You name it, they have done it!

Their most recent fundraiser is super fun. They had a puzzle made on Etsy and are "selling" individual pieces for $20. When you buy a piece, they write your name on the back. When all the pieces have been sold, they will put together their puzzle (with all the names!) and display it in a double-sided frame in the kids room so they can see how many people worked together to bring them home.

If you feel led to buy a puzzle piece or simply make a donation, you can visit their website here. There is also a link to it at the top of this blog. The website and blog is www.thatcherbaby.com.

Again, I do not enjoy asking for money. But this is different. I am a mother now, and although I remember waiting and wondering about my baby, I did not have the stress of finances holding me back from meeting them. Every child deserves a loving home, and Caleb and Sarah are able to provide that to two little children that need it the most!

Please partner with us to bring home the Thatcher babies!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Being Deeply Loved By Someone Gives You Strength...

This post will be different. It has very few words and many images. This post celebrates the beauty of our partners supporting us during labor. They can't feel the pain, but they wish that they could. Our bodies keep us awake through exhaustion, and our men strive to support through their exhaustion. My body did all of the work, but my husband's strong embraces, tender hands, heartfelt words, and tears calmed my mind and encouraged my soul. I speak for many when I say that I could not have done it without him.

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." - Lao Tzu

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." 
-Mother Theresa



 “You never know how strong you are... until being strong is the only choice you have.”
― Cayla Mills 


"Where there is love, there is life." - Mahatma Ghandi

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” 
- Henry Ford

“There could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison.”
- Jane Austen 

 "The birth of a child is the ultimate perfection of human love.” -Dr. Grantly Dick-Read