A Little Video…

I put this together months ago, but kept forgetting to share it! I have to be honest, I can’t watch it without getting a little teary-eyed…

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    16 Months…

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    Sun flares or Cassidy curls? You decide… ;)

    Friends, my baby girl is 16 months old! It’s amazing how fast they stop being babies and start being toddlers.  Although I can say with 100% sincerity that molars are the worst thing EVER and can really make our days suck, having a 16 month old is by far, the most fun we’ve had so far with Cassidy. She’s so stinking funny! Some of the things she says and does has us in stitches! Here are our 16 month stats:

    Still sleeping great! We’re still at around 12-13 hours every night, although, she recently went through a phase where she wasn’t sleeping a full 12 hours. I’ll take it, though! :) Naps are a struggle. Lately, I’m lucky if I get 30 minutes out of her. Hopefully this phase passes quickly and she’ll start napping better.

    Even though she still won’t really let any “new” people hold her, for the most part, she’s gotten over the whole “stranger danger” phase. I took her to a bridal shower last week and she was a little social butterfly! She went from person to person waving and saying “hi!” over and over! She still loves blingy jewelry and will walk up to anyone and play with their pretty necklaces. All the little old ladies at our church just love it.

    She’s gotten really good at saying new words. She likes to repeat what we say (uh oh, we’d better watch what we say now!). Some of her newest words are “juice”, “oops” “hi, Bee” (she calls my mom’s dog Bee), ” blankie”, “hot”, and I know there are more, I just can’t remember them all right now! She’s on first name basis with our music minister’s little boy, Drew- she calls him “Dew”. Adorable. Is it too soon to arrange a marriage?

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    The curls. The beautiful, red curls. I have no idea where they came from, but I LOVE them! And they only get curlier and curlier! She’s really living up to her name, which in fact, means “curly headed girl”. Love my little curly cue!

    Still eating like a champ. Not much change there.

    She loves to play outside and dig in the dirt. We took her swimming yesterday and she freaked out for a few minutes, but ended up splashing and having a great time after that.

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    Loves, loves, loves to “count”! Anytime we do most anything, we count it out (ooooone, twoooooo, threeeeee!) and she loves to count along. It usually comes out sounding like, “dooo, doooooooo, DOOOO!”, but we know what she means. ;) She counts out her toys, the silverware in the dishwasher, “ingredients” when she’s “cooking”….she counts all the time and we love it.

    She doesn’t have any new teeth this month (we’re still at 9), but she’s working on a new one right now. Fun times. :(

    Loves to read books. Especially lift-the-flap books!

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    …aaaand, get ready for the sweetest picture of all time…

     

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    Love them so, so much!

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      15 Month Update

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      Sorry for the delay in posting anything new. I get sidetracked easily.

      Our little firecracker is growing up FAST. She just had her 15 month check-up last week (she had to get 3 shots- poor baby!). Here are some milestones and fun facts:

      She now has 9 teeth, including two new molars (…I hate molars), and she’s working on an upper incisor. I hate those, too.

      She still eats awesome, although lately, her appetite has slowed down because of teething. The #1 favorite is still spaghetti (with guacamole coming in at a close second), but she still gobbles up anything I put in front of her (much like her daddy) – meatloaf, scrambled eggs, all fruits, oatmeal, pancakes, fish, quesadillas, and more.

      We’ve started weaning off bottles. I still give her one at bedtime, but I’ll slowly start phasing that out. She loves straw sippy cups, and that’s the only kind she’ll take.

      She’s learned how to climb up onto couches and chairs, which scares the crap out of me. She loves to climb onto the couch, then roll off onto a pile of pillows. I know, great parenting, Amy.

      This girl LOVES to play outside! She holds onto my index finger and leads me all over the yard. We look at flowers, bushes, trees, grass, acorns, and dirt. She loves picking berries off of our holly bush and piling them into one of my flower pots. She also looooves digging in the dirt. *sigh* We just extended our back fence by 6 feet so she can have more room to play outside in the back yard. We’ll eventually put in a swing and a mudpie-making zone. ;)

      Still sleeping great. For most of the last 7 or 8 months, she’s been sleeping around 13 hours a night, up until the last couple of weeks. Now, she goes to bed around 7:45-8, and wakes up around 7:30 or so. Not too shabby, kid.

      She loves mimicking everything we do (which means Mommy and Daddy really have to watch what they say and do…), like waving and saying, “hi!” to everyone she sees (including inanimate objects), giving high-fives, blowing kisses, and saying, “oh, myyyyy” and “oh boy!”. If I ask her for a kiss, her favorite response is a quick, “no!”. No love for Mommy. She loves to help us clean out the dishwasher, too (adorable).

      She loves to wear jewelry, shoes, and carry purses. A definite girly-girl! She gets mad if I take her shoes off!

      Her hair is still bright red, which we just love. And lately, it’s developed lots of curl! Which is great, because her name means ‘a curly headed girl’. Obviously, I didn’t know that when we named her.

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      She’s definitely got a red-headed temper, but this girl brings nothing but sunshine wherever she goes. Truly our greatest joy!

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        How to be a ‘Monday Mom’ on a Thursday…

        I recently read an article written by a fellow blogger and mother, Erin, called “I’m a Better Mom on Mondays”. All I had to do was read the title before I realized the very same was true of me. Erin is spot-on; she talks about how we, as moms, are better rested and overall happier and more energized come Monday morning thanks to the weekend.

        It’s true, isn’t it? Think about it- you’re a better mom on Mondays, aren’t you? Hubby’s off work for two glorious days to help you with bottles and breakfast in the morning, diaper changing, naps, and you’ve got a second man on your team when it comes to tackling temper tantrums. Heck, you may even squeeze in a nap for YOURSELF somewhere in there! By the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, you’ll have had a good dose of The Holy Spirit and all is well. Better than well- you feel like yourself again! And when Monday morning rolls around, you’re ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.

        But by the time Thursday hits…you’ve had to fish baby poo out of the bathtub with a kitchen ladle, clean up spilled cereal and hot chocolate mix off the kitchen floor, give comfort and kisses after what seems like the 40th bruised bottom, bonked head, and scratched knee, read the same book a hundred times and oink like a pig over and over again, and deal with the kind of temper tantrums that would put Mel Gibson to shame. All you want is for Friday evening to get here so you can finally get some PEACE! Where’s “Mighty Monday Mom” now, huh?

        This article really hit home for me because it’s been one of those weeks. A couple of weeks, actually. Because Joel worked so hard outside on the yard, I had zero help this past weekend. I was grateful to have some work done on the house and in the yard, but unfortunately, that meant 2 extra days of ‘Thursdays’ for me. By the time Sunday morning came around, I sat zoned out in the church pew and barely heard a word our preacher said. By Sunday night, I was no better off than I was last Thursday. Help.

        But I was determined to suck it up and get over myself (“alright, walk it off, Beskow! You got this!”). So when Monday morning arrived, the FIRST thing I did upon waking up was talk to God.

        “Lord, help me to be a better mother today. Give me patience. Give me wisdom. Give me compassion. Help this week to be a GOOD week. Amen.”

        Now, every single morning, before even taking two steps, I say this prayer. Maybe I’ll even write it on my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. Whatever it takes to remind me to give my weaknesses over to God and let Him take control. Because when I do that, it’s SO much easier to see His blessings. A beautiful, healthy, growing baby that makes me laugh and cry and thank God I’m a mother. I’m not saying every single day is perfect, but they’re certainly off to a better start than they were before. Now, I don’t fear Thursdays anymore. I just take each day as it comes. Each night I shake off the day; whatever happened- maybe an argument with Joel or no naptime for Cassidy- I wash it away and start fresh the next day. With this mindset, every day is a Monday.

        When hardworking parents put their faith in God, they can tackle each day with a fresh, clean start and a clear mind. Once you’ve done that, keep a few helpful pointers in mind:

        1.) If a tantrum arises, ignore it. Don’t lose your temper. You’ll only feel like absolute crap afterwards. Losing your temper with your baby will only make matters worse. (Thanks to my mom for this good advice!)

        2.) Baby doesn’t want to nap today? Just chillax, mom. It’s not the end of the world. My days used to revolve around naptime. So when Cassidy decided she just wasn’t going to nap for more than 10 minutes one day, I was pretty bummed (“omg, I had x, y, and z to get done and now I’ll never get to it!”). But then one day I just decided to use the lost naptime for extra cuddles and giggles and the world was a better place. Like I said, just chillax.

        3.) Stop what you’re doing right now and recite this to yourself: “I am a good mother. I AM A GOOD MOTHER.” And continue to recite it to yourself 10 times a day if you have to. Whatever it takes for you to actually believe it. Because- you ARE a good mother! Tell that little voice in your head to shut up! (And while you’re at it, could you tell the little voice in MY head, too?? Kthanks.)

        Now, go out there and enjoy your new Monday mentality! :)

         

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          Filling Your Baby’s Easter Basket…

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          Last Easter was relatively easy for us because Cassidy was still SO little and didn’t require much. We dressed her up all cute and cuddly (complete with a giant, pink bow), took her into church with us (which she slept right through), and took her to my in-laws for lunch (which she also slept through).

          This Easter, I’m thinking, will go just a touch differently. In a good way! This Easter, we get to dye eggs and do Cassidy’s very first Easter basket! Yay! The Easter Bunny always visited our house when my sister and I were growing up. He’d usually bring us a chocolate bunny, Cadbury Eggs, Peeps, and those awful, sugary, marshmallowy, candy eggs (you know the ones I mean- they were oblong, white, chewy eggs coated in a sugary shell. Bleh! I never liked them, but somehow, my Easter basket would never have been the same without them). We’d also always get a cute little outfit or a book or crayons or some other fun little toy. The Easter Bunny always left awesome goodies for us! And now he’ll visit my house!

          I’m sure when Cassidy’s older, she’ll get her fair share of candy and sweets, but this year will be a bit of a challenge for us. I’m not letting my 14 month-old anywhere near candy, so…..what do we give her?? Are you in this same conundrum? What exactly do you put in a baby’s Easter basket?? Here’s a simple list I’ve come up with that might give you a few helpful ideas:

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          Peter Rabbit Organics fruit and vegetable pouches. I love these because they provide the essential fruits and veggies baby needs, they’re chock full of vitamins, they’re all natural and organic, and they’re fun for the little one. Plus, I just love Peter Rabbit…reminds me of my great-grandmother’s stories.

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          Books. You can never go wrong with books. Cassidy has books for every season and holiday (mostly thanks to her Aunt CiCi!)! I found a cute little baby-sized Easter puffy book at Target today that we’ll put in her basket.

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          A cuddly stuffed animal. I found these at Pottery Barn Kids and thought they looked so sweet and soft! Perfect for the Easter basket!

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          A colorful hair bow or bow tie. Every little boy needs a sweet lil’ bow tie and every little girl needs a big ol’ hair bow on Easter Sunday! That’s just how it is! These both are found on Etsy.

          Really, you don’t need a whole lot of things in their first Easter basket- just a few fun little items. I say you can’t go wrong with a book or two, some fruit pouches, and a stuffed animal. And maybe a cute little Springy outfit. And maaaaybe a pair of blue baby jellies. :)

          I hope all you parents out there have as much fun as I did finding sweet tidbits for your little one’s Easter basket!

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            Feeding Your One Year-Old…

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            Here’s a mom-fact: every single last one of us worries about what to feed our baby. It’s normal. I’m sure I probably drive my family crazy with all my worrying over what goes into Cassidy’s mouth (side note: she tried to eat an acorn the other day…). But I can’t help it. I’m a first-time mom, which means I have a free pass for being overly cautious and annoying about my baby.

            Now that Cassidy (our 13 month-old) is eating the same things we eat, I’m waaaay more motivated to cook healthy, all-natural meals and snacks (I’m not a hippie, but when it comes to my kid, I’d prefer there not be unpronounceable ingredients in my food). I get lots of emails asking me to post more baby food recipes, and I know there are lots of mothers out there who are looking for good meals to feed their babies/toddlers. So in this post, I’ve compiled a simple list of meals and snacks that are healthy and toddler-friendly. Some can be made at home and some are store-bought items that save on time (but are still good for you!). These are ALL 100% Cassidy-approved, by the way. Here we go:

            Breakfast

            steel-cut oatmeal with brown sugar and fresh fruit**
            scrambled eggs
            toast sticks
            cream of wheat with a spoonful of applesauce or mashed bananas and cinnamon
            banana pancakes (I make these in big batches and freeze them. All I have to do is pull out a couple in the morning and heat!)

            **I prefer steel-cut oats because they are the least processed type of oat cereal. Old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats are steamed first, then rolled between rollers to create flakes. All this means, really, is that the steel-cut oats are going to have more texture, which I like. Cassidy prefers them because they aren’t as “slimy” as regular oatmeal.

            Snacks

            greek yogurt with fruit
            cheese cubes
            peanut butter sandwich with whole grain bread (I cut the sandwich into small 1-inch cubes)
            sliced blueberries or bananas
            cottage cheese and fruit
            A couple of ladies in my mom group at church suggest frozen peas; toddlers love them and it also helps with teething
            organic applesauce
            Annie’s organic honey graham bunnies
            whole wheat crackers

            Dinner (there are too many for me to list them all, so here are our favorites)

            spaghetti with marinara sauce (we like Emeril’s All-Natural Marinara)
            baked salmon
            chicken stew
            stuffed pepper soup
            minestrone soup
            roasted or grilled chicken
            mac and cheese (Annie’s Organic has a great boxed mac and cheese)
            tuna casserole
            cheese ravioli
            broiled fish (toss it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice)
            grilled portabella mushrooms
            chicken and dumplings

            Side Dishes

            baked sweet potato
            roasted potato wedges
            sweet potato fries (baked, not fried)
            corn on the cob (you can cut the corn off the cob, or give it to your baby whole- Cassidy loves gnawing on the cobs- she gets to hold it all by herself, which she loves, and it also helps with teething)
            roasted asparagus, green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower
            steamed carrots tossed with a little brown sugar
            guacamole (this kid LOVES guac! Aren’t we lucky?!)
            cut up avocado
            steamed peas
            sautet zucchini and squash
            cornbread

            Desserts (I haven’t delved too deep into this category yet)

            avocado chocolate pudding
            cut up fruit (blueberries are Cassidy’s favorite but she also loves peaches, bananas, strawberries, mango, and grapes)
            yogurt
            fruit smoothie made with greek yogurt

            I always like to carry the little organic squeeze packets of baby food with me so that, when we’re eating out and find our options for the baby are limited, I’ll always have something for her. Plum Organics and Peter Rabbit Organics are good ones.

            Foods to avoid (duh):

            fried foods (if you’re in a jam and that’s all that’s available, try to pull off as much of the breading as possible)
            sugary cookies and cakes (and pretty much 100% of the desserts on my food blog…)
            honey (if your baby is under the age of one)
            FAST FOOD. I know it’s quick and easy, but DON’T BE FEEDIN’ YOUR BABY NO FRENCH FRIES! Seriously, though…just say no

            So, there’s my list of toddler-approved meals. I know everybody’s busy these days, but it really is so important to gather your family around the dinner table every day. None of the meals I’ve listed take much time at all, and they’re all very, very simple. Do your baby and yourself a big favor and make time for good, healthy food. I’m not talking wheat grass and tofutti (or whatever it is the hippies are eating these days), just home-cooked meals made with love. That’s one of the best things you can offer your children!

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              “Under Construction” Baby Shower…

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              I’m so happy to share this post with you today! This past weekend, I had the honor of hosting my very first baby shower for my very dear friends Elizabeth and Kyle. Elizabeth is having a boy on April 2nd (you’re almost there, girl!) and the theme they chose for the baby’s nursery is construction- tools, bulldozers, hard hats- it’s SO cute! So we decided to put together an “under construction” baby shower for them! Here’s what we came up with:

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              I ordered this cute little dump truck from Amazon to showcase some colorful popcorn (it seems like I’m making this stuff every time I turn around!). So a cute toy for the baby also serves as a serving dish!

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              My BFF Alyshia made the cupcakes- chocolate with peanut butter frosting, per the mom-to-be’s request- and she topped them with the CUTEST little construction zone toppers (also from Amazon). These were a big hit!

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              Elizabeth also requested my monster cookies (peanut butter, oatmeal, and M&M), which I thought looked great on the table because they’re so colorful. Are you sensing a theme here? This girl LOVES her chocolate/peanut butter combo! ;)

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              I happened to pick up some brightly colored duct tape at Target not too long ago, and thought that would really brighten up some bottled waters. My sister put these together for me.

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              Being new parents can be pretty scary sometimes, so I put together a little area where people could write their best parenting advice (I filled out like, 80 cards!). Hopefully Kyle and Elizabeth got some good pointers!

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              This was just the sweets table- on the kitchen bar, we had a whole array of yummy dips, cheeses, and fruit brought by the other hostesses. Overall, the shower was a great success- there were probably 40 people there (I didn’t know my house could hold so many!)! The new mom and dad were loaded down with all kinds of great presents!

              Thanks for letting me host your baby shower, Elizabeth and Kyle! I had so much fun putting it together and Joel and I love you two to pieces! Best of luck with sweet little Landon! :)

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                Thoughts on Being a Formula-Feeding Mom…

                A few nights ago, while perusing Pinterest, I came across a pin that read:

                “Formula: $25 per can

                Bottles: $10 each

                Recalls: hundreds

                Antibodies: zero

                Breastfeeding: PRICELESS

                I make milk. What’s your superpower?”

                 

                After reading those words, I felt a range of emotions; anger, shame, heartbreak, envy. And then I got pissed off.

                We all know breastfeeding is the very best way to feed your baby. It’s nature’s most perfect food. We get that; we ALL get that. But where does that leave you when breastfeeding just isn’t an option? A terrible mother? An outcast? A failure? That’s what I felt like.

                I am a formula feeding mom and have been since Cassidy was 3 weeks old. Which means, for 3 weeks I worked and worked and worked on breastfeeding. And when breastfeeding didn’t work out, I pumped like a milk cow. I cried and pumped, and cried and pumped, and cried and pumped some more. I know 3 weeks may not sound like a long time to you, but to me…it was an eternity. A very unhappy eternity. This is the story of how I finally (finally!) came to my senses and entered into a peaceful coexistence with formula.

                When I was pregnant I read all the books. I read online articles, discussion forums, magazines, and I talked to other moms. I got all the info I possibly could on what to expect after having a baby. I was prepared for everything; especially breastfeeding. I researched it, watched educational videos, consulted professionals, and talked to friends. I had all the tools every successful breastfeeding mom needs: a breastfeeding pillow, a top-of-the-line breast pump, boxes and boxes of nursing pads, even a fancy nursing cover so I could breastfeed in public. I was devoted, Joel was 100% supportive- I was going to rock at this, I just knew it.

                I bought one small box of bottles just to have on hand. Just in case. After all, a breastfeeding mom doesn’t need bottles (I was so cocky!). Little did I know I would later go on to buy 3 more boxes of bottles and spend huge amounts of money on formula. And it was a long, hard road getting to that point, too.

                When Cassidy was born, we noticed she was “tongue-tied”, meaning her frenulum (the little flap of skin under the tongue) was too long and restricted her tongue movement. Breastfeeding in the hospital was a struggle. She couldn’t latch well because of her tongue, so it was incredibly painful for me and frustrating for her. The lactation consultants helped us so much, but eventually suggested I stop trying to breastfeed for a few days to let myself heal (I was cracked, bruised and bleeding). They also suggested we have Cassidy’s frenulum clipped (a painless process done in the doctor’s office and lasting only seconds) then retry breastfeeding. So in the meantime, I was pumping 10 times a day and feeding Cassidy with a bottle. After we had her clipped (much more painful for me than her!), I began trying to breastfeed once again. Cassidy wasn’t interested. She screamed in my face and struggled against me. It broke my heart being rejected by my own baby. All those mental images of nursing a calm, peaceful baby and quietly creating a bond between mother and daughter shattered like glass. She wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding. I cried during bottle feedings and I cried while I sat at the breast pump day after day, night after night. I hated that breast pump. As Cassidy grew, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with her huge, growing appetite. Every time Joel suggested we start supplementing with formula I would bark at him defensively, “no! I can keep up!” and I’d sit at the pump longer and more frequently, just trying to eek out every drop I could. The first time I was forced to supplement with formula, I sobbed during the whole feeding. Eventually, I found myself sobbing for no reason. I felt like I had glasses on that made me see everything gray. Instead of enjoying my time with my baby girl, I was too busy feeling like a failure. I was depressed and everyone around me knew it.

                After a long talk with my mom (ok let’s face it, several long talks…) and tons of encouragement and support from Joel, I made the decision to start feeding Cassidy formula. It was a relief to some degree, but I still found myself feeling like a huge failure because I couldn’t breastfeed. It’s all I thought about. I replayed the scenario in my head over and over and over again; maybe I could have done something differently! I drove Joel CRAZY with my constant doubt and self-loathing. It seemed everywhere I turned, I saw “breast is best!”. Doctors and experts talked about how the bonding between breastfed babies and moms just can’t be achieved between bottle fed babies and moms. Heck, even the formula bottle says, “breastmilk is recommended”! So now, not only was I a failure as a mom, but my baby and I weren’t going to bond. Great. I felt totally alone and totally hopeless. Society caters to breastfeeding moms. So where does that leave us formula feeders?

                Eventually, I began feeling much better about my decision. Cassidy is thriving and growing beautifully! She’s a whole year old now and still has an incredibly healthy appetite! I know I never would have been able to keep up with it if I was still pumping and I’m ok with that. Society puts pressure on us moms and makes us feel that if we’re not breastfeeding, we’re not giving our babies the best we can. Well, that’s just not true. That. Is. Not. True. I am a formula feeder and I have still managed to develop a deep and very special bond with my baby girl. Not only that, but I made it through the first year a happier mommy. When I was chained to the breast pump, I was miserable and unable to enjoy my time with Cassidy. I wasn’t giving her what she needed. She doesn’t care if I’m breastfeeding or formula feeding as long as a happy mommy is feeding her.

                I’m sharing this story because I know there are so many other moms out there who are going through the same thing. I felt so alone in my misery and searched the web for articles or other testimonials from formula feeding moms (I wanted to feel better. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone), but I found nothing that helped. I wish I had been able to read a story like this so I could have known there were others out there in my situation. Yes, breastfeeding is a wonderful, special experience. Breastmilk is best. But for a lot of moms, it just isn’t doable. And that’s ok. It really is. Don’t let ANYONE make you feel like less of a mom. Your baby still loves you. You will still form a bond.  I defy any breastfeeding mom to tell me she has a stronger bond with her baby than I do with Cassidy! Be confident in your formula-feeding. Go to sleep at night knowing you’re doing the absolute best thing for your baby by giving her a happy, peaceful mommy and a full tummy.

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                  DIY Play Kitchen…

                   

                   

                   

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                  I’ve been DYING to share this with you for so long now! We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks, and it’s FINALLY finished! Yes, my friends, you too, can take a couple of old, dated bedside tables and transform them into an adorable, pint-sized play kitchen for the kiddos! As soon as I found out I was having a girl (all those months ago!), I’ve known I wanted to someday build my daughter a play kitchen of her very own. Obviously, cooking is a huge part of my life, and my love for it has already carried over to Cassidy. She loves to cook! She loves to stir, and stir, and stir, then hold the spoon up to my mouth so I can “taste” her cooking (just delicious, by the way!). ;)

                  My mom and dad had a couple of old night stands they weren’t using anymore, so I immediately snatched them up and Joel and I (with lots of help from my dad) went to work to build a play kitchen for Cassidy’s first birthday.

                  Here’s what we started with:

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                  First, we took the drawers out and discarded them. Then, a light sanding, just to take off the gloss and make it easier for the paint to stick. I used plain white, glossy spray paint for this and it worked perfectly.

                  From there, we attached a couple of pieces of wide trim found in our storage shed to the tops to serve as a backsplash. I used black acrylic craft paint for the burners (just plain old circles- use a salad plate to trace with), and we found the knobs at Home Depot.

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                  We also found some slimmer trim (the kind used for crown molding) and used that to make the oven door (I painted it with a silver metallic spray paint). If you don’t have a miter saw to cut the trim, I’m betting a large picture frame would work for this as well. We got a large piece of plexiglass at Home Depot and cut it to the size we needed, then simply glued it to the back of the door frame. A simple brushed nickel handle finished it off. We attached the oven door using two hinges and a magnet to keep it closed. It was my dad’s idea to put the chains on either side, to keep the door from hitting the ground. My mom let us use the racks that came with her microwave for oven racks. I had some pink paint left over from Cassidy’s nursery, and used that to paint the inside of the oven. I like the retro look it gives!

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                  We found a cheap faucet at Home Depot and used a stainless steel mixing bowl for the sink basin. Joel and my dad cut a hole in the top of the night stand and used liquid nails to glue the bowl into place. Easy peasy! My mom sewed the cute curtain.

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                  I really wanted Cassidy to have working knobs and handles, so I’m glad we went with an actual faucet and not a pretend one. These hot and cold knobs really turn! Attention to detail is the key here! ;) …and when I tell you the faucet was cheap, I mean it! 17 bucks! Can’t beat that!

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                  I just so happen to have an old cabinet my sister had used in her old bathroom a long time ago. I loved how it already had a rack on it for pots and pans! I used shower hooks to hang the cookware on since I didn’t have any actual hooks that fit this bar. Eventually I’ll probably try to find something different, but for now these work just fine. My grandparents bought the set of pots and pans on Amazon for Cassidy’s birthday and I found the heart-shaped measuring cups and spoons at the dollar spot at Target.

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                  Every kitchen needs a pantry and dish storage! My sister bought the cute little play food set at Target (see the refried beans?! How cute!). I found the cupcake art and brightly colored utensil art at Hobby Lobby for 70% off (score!), and hung a $1 pink basket with command hooks on the side of the stove for more play food storage.

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                  And there you have it! A 100% homemade, genuine play kitchen for your little ones! Honestly, it wasn’t that hard (especially since Joel and my dad did all the cutting, drilling, and hammering…), and I’m absolutely THRILLED with the end result! Cassidy is still a bit young to appreciate it fully, but I know she’s going to love it soon!

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                    A Christmas Recap…

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                    I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and spent lots of time with family and friends!! Our first Christmas with Cassidy was everything I hoped it would be- laid-back, yet exciting, fun-filled, and happy, happy, happy! Our little family of 3 (well, 4, counting Izzy! Can’t leave her out!) had such a magical Christmas morning and so many dear memories were made that Joel and I will always cherish.

                    Our Christmas Eve was spent with my family. I was asked to sing O Holy Night at our church’s candlelight service, and I’ll never forget looking out into the congregation and seeing my baby girl dance in her daddy’s arms as I sang. Joel and I were worried Cassidy would be super fussy on Christmas Eve staying up so late past her bedtime, but she was an absolute dream! She ate a huge dinner, played with her new toys on my parents’ living room floor, and didn’t fuss one bit.

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                    When we all got home (only 1 minute away, thanks to our recent move! Best idea ever!), Joel and I put Cassidy down and started our Christmas Eve tradition of opening our stockings. Joel is seriously amazing and always gets me cheese for my stocking! Best husband ever! This year he got me some from the famous Zingerman’s deli in Ann Arbor while he was on a recent business trip. OMG- BEST. CHEESE. EVER. Christmas=made!

                    Christmas morning was everything I had imagined. Cassidy slept all through the night (which she always does, but the last few nights had been very rough due to teething), so we all woke up refreshed and raring to go! She loved her baby doll and cupcake rattle from Santa, but I think she was most impressed with her mega blocks. We’ve already gotten quite a bit of play out of those. Santa brought Izzy a squeaky squirrel toy, which of course, didn’t last long. ;)

                    After we finished opening our presents at home, we drove over to Joel’s parents’ house and had Christmas brunch with them. More presents. More toys. More fun! Then we took our little family home and played and rested the rest of the day. I’m telling you- best Christmas ever. Seriously. I’ll never forget seeing the excitement on my baby’s face as she experienced her very first Christmas. Joel and I went to bed that night two very exhausted, but very, very happy and fulfilled parents.

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