Better Late than Never!

I think I pinned something similar to this fun shadow box long before Brantley was born, but for whatever reason, never followed through with the DIY!  Recently though, I was re-inspired by a similar project on Brantley's gf's nursery wall and I knew I needed to follow suit.  I love how it looks and can't wait to hang it once Brantley awakes from his morning nap!

Shadow box from Michael's - $10 (50% off of $19.99).  Contents include hospital bracelets, birth announcement, first family photo, and birth souvenir certificate from hospital.

A {Year's Worth of} Picture{s} are Worth a Thousand Words

I really enjoyed documenting Brantley's first year of life!  The photo sessions were a bit stressful, I'm not gonna lie, but I'm so glad I stuck with them, instead of giving up around month eight like the hubs suggested!  I love that I can look back on any given month in Brantley's first year and recall the little things that made each stage so special!  I also love scrolling through these pictures.  It's amazing how much changes in one short year and fun watching a newborn morph into a toddler.  So without further ado, here's Brantley's first year in review--in just 13 quick photos!

And for anyone that's interested, here are the links to each monthly blog post!


1st Birthday Thank-You Cards

I Brantley finally finished his birthday thank-you cards, so I thought I'd share them! 

I uploaded the photo to Walmart's website, added the text, and printed them (4x6 size, matte finish) for 19 cents a piece!  I found the 4x6 envelopes at Office Max for $10.  (Could have ordered them cheaper at Amazon, but I was in a hurry to get them before leaving for the lake.)

Note: The only pen I could get to write on the back of these photos was a Flair felt-tip pen.  Like this!

Picky Eater

As a mom, I'm sure there are many challenges I'll have to face.  I mean, it comes with the territory, right?  Brantley's been a pretty easy really easy baby.  He started sleeping through the night at four weeks old, after all!  He's always been a minimally fussy, easy-going, laid-back baby!  He's also always been a fantastic eater - formula, cereal, solids - didn't matter, there were never any issues.  But lately I'm sensing a change.  The kid likes to eat.  That's for sure.  But he only likes to eat what he likes to eat.  Blueberries, bananas, and hot dogs are at the top of his list.  He's learning quickly to be a picky eater!  And I am not okay with that!

The weird part is...when it was pureed food, he ate everything.
Ham, chicken, beef, and turkey - check!
Peas, broccoli, squash, carrots, sweet potato, green beans - check!
Rice, oatmeal - check!

But now he doesn't want anything to do with any of the above.

Grilled chicken?  Nope!
Mixed veggies?  Not a chance.
Beans?  Not any more.
Even bread (grilled cheese), pancakes, waffles, and muffins - not crazy about any of them.

Not to mention, he refuses anything with a pureed consistency.  Yogurt and oatmeal, for example.  He wants to feed himself and thinks he's too good for "baby" food.

I'm cool with the blueberries and bananas.  Besides being expensive (blueberries), they are both very healthy foods.  And in fact, he eats nearly all fruits, which I'm thankful for.  (Cantaloupe is the exception.)

But as for his main entree and a balanced meal - I'm just not sure hot dogs fit the bill. 

So, here's the challenge.  Do I give him what he wants (hot dogs*) for every meal?  At least, then I know his belly's full and I'm supplying him the calories he needs to grow.  Or do I continue to attempt healthy meats, veggies, dairy, and grains like the doctor ordered?

Is it normal for toddlers to have favorite foods and refuse all others?  Does he know he'll get what he wants if he throws everyone else on the floor?

In just one short year, I've learned that, as a parent, I have to pick my battles.  (Actually, I've learned that more as a teacher, but it definitely carries over to parenting.)  But I think this is a battle I want to pick??  I've always said I will not raise a picky eater.  So how in the world do I go about that??

*He will also eat frozen chicken nuggets and pasta.

My Favorite Things: Kitchen Edition

I've been working on this blog post for months.  Seriously--it's been in my saved drafts since November, I think.  Just couldn't find the ambition to make a photo collage or write a summary of each of these items.  But finally, it's done!  Here are my favorite products for use in the kitchen--perfect items for a bridal registry if that pertains to you!

Keurig Home Brewer - I'm the only one in my household that drinks coffee.  I used to have a regular coffee pot, but got sick of wasting coffee and cleaning it daily.  Enter the Keurig - famous for its single-cup servings.  I got one for Christmas a few years ago and have used it nearly every day since.  I love the variety the K-cups offer, I love being able to brew right into my mug, and I love that there's little cleanup!  If you are an avid coffee drinker like myself, the $100 for this thing is well worth it!!    (Side notes: There are more expensive models with more bells and whistles, but this is the one I have and it does the job.  There are also non-coffee K-cups--hot chocolate, chai tea latte, apple cider, among others--and a reusable filter if you fear the wastefulness of K-cups.)

Pampered Chef Large Micro Cooker - It's like a steamer for the microwave.  I've used it for frozen veggies, potatoes, soup, and even fruits when making baby food.  It has a lid that snaps into place, handles for easy carrying, and holes (in the lid) that double as a strainer.

Collapsible Cupcake Carrier - One of my most favorite wedding gifts!  Love the convenience of this thing.  It holds 24 cupcakes, but collapses nicely for easy storage.

Pampered Chef Apple Wedger - We always had an apple wedger growing up, but it never worked well.  Then I used one (Pampered Chef brand) at my in-law's house a few years ago and decided I needed one.  It works so much better than the crappy one I grew up with!  Works well for pears, too!

As Seen on TV Handy Caddy - This is what my Keurig sits on.  It's a slide-able tray that allows me easy access anytime I need to refill the water in the Keurig.  It would be perfect for any countertop appliance that is used often.

Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish - Our stainless steel appliances accumulate so many fingerprints.  We used to use the wipes of the same brand, but they left streaks.  This spray is awesome.  Cleans and polishes, just like it says!  I like the clean/fresh smell, too!

Pineapple Corer - If you ever eat fresh pineapple, you NEED one of these things!  A-sap.  It makes coring and slicing pineapple so super easy.  My only complaint is that it can't be used for pineapple on kababs because it slices the pineapple too thin.

Hamburger Press - Another of my favorite random kitchen gadgets!   I used to hate making hamburger patties.  I could never get them big enough flat enough to stick together right.  Until I found this thing.  Awe-some!!

Panini Press - One of Craig's favorite meals is a panini.  Anytime, any kind.  Though I don't want them once a week like he does, I do like them thanks to this handy panini maker!  I will say it makes for an easy meal and I don't know anyone that doesn't like easy.  To see the panini recipes I've blogged about, click here and here.

Apron - Ummm if you've seen me in the kitchen, you know that I'm messy.  Hence the apron!  And if you're gonna wear an apron, it better be a cute one! :)

KitchenAid Food Chopper - I just got this thing for Christmas six months ago, and I'm not sure how I lived so long without it!  It's perfect for chopping anything from onions to crackers to tomatoes for bruschetta.  It is amazing.

Spice Clips - I'm a sucker for any sort of organizational gadget and these clips are perfect for plastic spice containers.  We have them stuck to the inside of our pantry doors (see here), alphabetized of course, which frees up space for other items.  They have a peel & stick back, but we ended up securing them with screws because the sticky was wearing off.

Electric Rechargeable Wine Opener - This is such a cool gadget and makes opening a bottle of wine easy peasy!  Simply push the button and watch the cork come out!  It would make for a perfect gift idea for the wine-lover in your life!

Citrus Press - I used to use pliers from our garage to squeeze juice out of a lemon or lime.  Then I convinced the hubs I needed one of these.

Egg Slicer - Sure, I don't use this thing often, but it's fun to use when slicing eggs for salads!

Chalkboard Labels - Another organizational tool!  And a cute one, too!  I stuck these labels to my canisters for flour, sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar so there's no future confusion for the hubs! :)  Not only are they functional, but super cute and reasonably priced!

Gnats and Ants and Flies, Oh My!

Warm weather.  I love it.  But along with warm weather comes bugs.  And I hate bugs.

Ever since returning from the lake, we've been battling gnats.  In our kitchen.  Lots of them.  I'm sure it has something to do with our food-flinging, messy-eater of a 1-year-old and the fact that our kitchen isn't as clean as it once was.  Or maybe everyone has gnats right now?  Please tell me everyone has gnats right now.

We also battle ants each spring.  They've been so bad in years past that none of the over-the-counter products work.  We have to call a professional, and whatever gel he uses works wonders!

But my post isn't about gnats or ants.  It's about another time we had to battle an infestation of bugs.  The recent take-over by gnats reminded me of this story and it's too funny not to share!

It was July 2010, late at night (around midnight) and we had just returned home from our amazing, 6-day honeymoon to Jamaica.  As we entered our house through the garage, we noticed the door to the kitchen was ajar.  Hmmmmm weird.  We walked into the kitchen to be greeted by hundreds (not even joking) of flies.  They. were. everywhere.

It was late.  We were exhausted from a day's worth of travel.  Our house was hot and humid since the AC had been off.  And it had been taken over by flies.  Because someone had left the door open as we were leaving six days prior.  Hmmmmm...

It was too hot to go to bed, so the hubs started killing flies.  He would swing a fly swatter through the air and hit no fewer than five flies.  That's how many there were!  And this went on for hours--late, late, late in the night.

Meanwhile, I decided to upload honeymoon and wedding pictures onto our computer.  And I ate some leftover wedding cake.  Because what else are you gonna do at that time of night when your house is too hot and fly-infested to sleep??

Eventually, the population diminished and our house cooled enough to sleep.  We laughed about it in the morning and blamed each other (jokingly) for being the one to leave the door open.  We honestly couldn't remember who was the last one out as we left in the early morning hours en route to the airport.

Until I scrolled through the uploaded pictures from my camera.  Pictures don't lie and they are always sorted by the ascending order in which they were taken.  So, here's the first picture taken as we were leaving for our honeymoon...

Clearly, I was the first one out.

And here is the second...

 Looks like we know who was to blame for all the flies!

A Week at the Lake

We're back from a week at the lake!  (Well technically, we were back on Saturday, but had a busy weekend!)

My family's been going to the same resort at Lake of the Ozarks every summer since 1997, but crazy enough, Craig and I hadn't been since 2009...long before this blog was even created!  Weddings (ours, my bff Sarah's) and a baby seemed to get in the way!  Despite not going for four years, everything was exactly as I remembered and I could have sworn I was there just one short year ago.

I have so many memories at our resort - Lone Oak Point.  After all, I've been going since before I was in high school!  We've always gone with my dad's brother's family and their three boys.  The youngest, Jesse, who wasn't even born when we first started going is now the age my sister was (12) during our very first trip to the lake.  I can also remember when the middle boy, Nathan, was a year old - the age of both Brantley and Kellen now!  Pure craziness!

My sister and our cousins in 2006.  Then ages 9 (Nathan), 12 (Andrew), and 5 (Jesse).  Now ages 16, 19, and 12!

Anyway, Lone Oak Point is on mile maker 11 on the water, right by Ozark Barbeque.  The address is Sunrise Beach, but closest town is Laurie.  Osage Beach (the big lake city) is about 20 minutes away, across the community toll bridge.  There are over 90 miles of lake, if I remember correctly!  It's pretty crazy, really! 

Our resort is very secluded and family-oriented.  There's an outdoor pool, indoor pool, baby pool, a couple of hot tubs, three swim docks, a boat/fishing dock, some hammocks, a game room, and a park.  You can walk from one end of the resort to the opposite in under 10 minutes.    

Our condo is a 3-bedroom/2-bathroom unit on the water.  We've been in this particular condo for a few years, but have stayed in multiple units at this same resort.

Our days spent at the lake are pretty relaxed and low-key.  They usually look something like this: dad fishes at the butt crack of dawn, the rest of us wake up at a normal time, breakfast, guys play tennis, pool time, lunch, more pool time and/or lake time, shower, grill, eat dinner, play cards/games, bedtime.  Repeat.  For seven days.  Sometimes we rent a boat, sometimes a jet ski, sometimes we go to town to play mini golf and ride go-karts, sometimes we go shopping at the outlet mall, and we always go out for dinner on Friday night.

This trip was a tad different with a baby along (more pool, less lake for instance), but I was excited to introduce Brantley to the place where I have such fond memories.

You'd never guess from the pictures, but Brantley didn't love the pool.  Strange, because he's been quite the water baby this summer at our neighborhood pool.  Kellen, on the other hand, who hasn't always loved it, did!

The hubs loves being competitive with my dad.  So between tennis, cards, and ping pong, I'm pretty sure he loves every minute.

Craig left us early Thursday morning to head back to work.  I demanded a quick photo shoot Wednesday night before he left.  Can you spot my new Walmart shirt??

Annual group shot

On Thursday evening, we headed to Ozark Barbeque to show the boys the big fish.  Carp, I think?

On Friday, we headed to our typical dinner spot, Paradise, for dinner.  It's too good, too convenient, and too picturesque to want to try a new place!

And then headed back to our resort for a few more family photos.  I swear we didn't color-coordinate our outfits on purpose!

What a fun extended family vacation it was!  Now we're home for six full days and then off the Florida - just the hubs, myself, and B-Man!  Can't wait!

And because I didn't already post enough pics, how about a few more!  Here are my Instagrams from our week in the Ozarks!

Row 1: Pool time while baby's napping | Lake-watching | Morning cup 'o joe always tastes better with a view like this
Row 2: Our balcony view | Hammock swinging with my babe | Baby trunks hanging out to dry | Thursday night fish fry | A nice pool refreshment
Row 3: Morning bloody | Watching for boats | Hawaiian chicken kabobs | Last night din din | Mmmmm smores
Row 4: Dessert kabobs | First time in the lake for B | Worn out while shopping | Ozarks sunset | Brantley's fave place in the condo