Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bloggy love...and a fun giveaway!

I have been in such a bloggy mood lately. I am discovering so many amazing blogs that I love reading! I decided to start showing some love for these blogs. Instead of including all of them in one post, I think I will spotlight one a week...and I already know which one gets my spotlight this week.

In this wonderful life...

This blog is the story of Megan and Brent and their journey of parenthood. Last year, they gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Cohen. Cohen had a congenital heart defect and fought on earth for 12 days before going to be with God. Their story will make you cry...but it will also change your life. I think so many people take the miracle of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and having a healthy baby for granted. Our journey to becoming parents was filled with some heartache and we were so grateful for my pregnancy with Hayes. I knew I was happy that he was healthy, but Cohen's story has taken that gratitude to a whole new level. I urge everyone to read about sweet Cohen...but only if you have tissues nearby. Being a mom makes her story so special to me. Megan and Brent are expecting twins in September and I have never been so happy for two people I have never met. Brent and Megan are working on a donation to Children's in Texas in memory of Cohen. You can read about it here. I hope she sets up a donation site soon so I can help with this project!

Also on Megan's blog this week, she is hosting a fun giveaway! Check it out hereTwo Little Lovelies has some super adorable stuff! I don't think I can get anything for Hayes, but I do have a niece turning 1 in August and a niece being born in August!

I know I said I would only spotlight one blog a week, but I have to mention one more. The Martin Family Times is written by Lindsey, a friend from elementary school. Lindsey and Stan have a beautiful daughter who was also born with a congenital heart defect. Anniston has overcome so much in her life and continues to do amazing things. I love reading about the milestones she reaches! These blogs have raised my awareness of CHD. My prayers are with these families affected by CHD and the doctors working to fix the broken hearts!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quesadillas and Father's Day!

I found this delicious recipe at Food Network in the "light" section. They tasted delicious!!! They were perfect with a little sour cream on the side.

Chicken Mushroom Quesadillas
1 tbsp oil (we used sunflower oil)
1 large onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped if you wish
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast (we just used 1 pack of 3 chicken breasts)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cups baby spinach leaves, sliced into ribbons
1 pack whole wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix or Cheddar


Cook your chicken. Ryan grilled ours. Once it is cooked, chop it up. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add mushroom and onions and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in chicken and spices and cook until spices are mixed in. Ryan didn't know what spices were in this dish and he seasoned our chicken with McCormick's Grill Mates and basil. I didn't know he did that and added in all the seasonings this recipe calls for. I was worried about the resulting flavor, but it was actually really amazing. Add your sliced spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. The original recipe calls for additional salt and pepper, but our mixture didn't need it.

Heat your skillet for the quesadilla over medium heat. Coat 1 tortilla with cooking spray and lay on the skillet. Place a thin layer of cheese, some of your chicken mixture, and another thin layer of cheese. Top of with another tortilla. Once the bottom is browned, spray the top tortilla with cooking spray and flip. Cook until golden brown on both sides. The larger your tortilla, the harder it will be to flip and keep the quesadilla in tact. If you have large tortillas, I would recommend folding one in half instead for easier flipping. Slice and serve with sour cream, salsa, etc.

I am finally posting a few pics of my boys from our Father's Day photo shoot. Hayes wasn't really in a mood to ham it up, but I still love the pictures we got. Hayes and I are so lucky to have Ryan in our lives. He is an amazing daddy and an amazing husband. I never could have imagined my life would be as wonderful as it is now. We hope your first Father's Day was wonderful and we can't wait to celebrate many more with you, Daddy!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creative Surges

I recently had a burst of creative energy...so I created things! And of course, I want to share with all of you!

I have been wanting to create something to hang over Hayes's bed, but I wasn't sure what I wanted. When I finally created something in my head, I bought a canvas and went to work. I love how it turned out! The color in the middle matches the wall color. And I love the splash of green! Hayes likes it too:) He is a fan of the bright colors.

And on to the next art project...picture frames! I created these for a baby shower gift. A good friend of mine is pregnant with precious twin boys! Becoming pregnant has been a long and challenging journey for her and her husband. We became friends before we were both pregnant and I am so happy we are sharing this special time in our lives. The day she told me she was pregnant, I got goosebumps and burst into tears. I was very pregnant and a little hormonal...but I was so overwhelmed with happiness for this couple. They will be amazing parents to these boys and I can't wait to meet them! Whew, if I don't move on, I might get a little teary-eyed again. So, on to the first frame!

"We loved you before we knew you. Even when there was just the hope of you, we loved you."
This quote is one of my favorites. My Aunt Tami gave me a frame with this same quote on it when I had Hayes and I love it! Any mom will tell you, no statement has ever been more true.

And the second frame! My friend also has 2 stepsons, so I thought this would be a nice frame to include all of the boys.

I had so much fun making all of my art projects. I have toyed with the idea of doing more of these projects and selling them somewhere...to someone...but I am not brave enough. Oh...and I already have two full time jobs: mommy and speech therapist. So, for now I will just make them as gifts:)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

We had a delicious chicken dish tonight that I must share! This recipe came from Food Network and I found it in the "healthy dish" section. Here we go...

Chicken Zucchini Alfredo
1 lb pasta (I used a tomato, spinach, carrot pasta and it was yummy)
3-4 chicken breasts
2 zucchini
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup non fat evaporated milk
3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Alrighty, cook your chicken however you wish. We seasoned ours with McCormick's Montreal Grill Mates and grilled it. We also just used 3 chicken breasts. Chicken annoys me. It annoys me that they sell chicken breasts in packs of 3. Therefore, we used 3 in our recipe. Silly chicken packagers.Ok, so cook your chicken and cut into small strips or bite size pieces.

Cook the pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet. Add 1 clove garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add zucchini, cover with a lid, and cook until tender. We cut our zucchini into small strips for easy eating...and it cooked quickly. Once the zucchini is tender, remove from skillet. In the same skillet, if you want to decrease the number of dishes, heat the remaining tbsp of oil. Whisk milk and flour together in a separate bowl. Add remaining garlic to the oil and saute for about 30 seconds. Add milk and flour mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir for about 2 minutes. Add evaporated milk and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta, zucchini, and chicken and mix. Voila!

Coming soon to a blog near you....Hayes's 4 month pictures! Our baby is growing so fast. Which is weird since he told me he was going to stay tiny for forever...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Monster Baby Blog!

Warning...if you are one of my few male readers, Dad and Scott, you probably will want to skip this post.

Does it seem like everyone and their sister is pregnant these days? My sister actually is pregnant:) With so many first time mommy friends out there, I thought I would do a post of my reviews on baby products. Now keep in mind, every baby is different and every baby has different needs and preferences. Let this be a guide in your decision making process as you attempt to prepare for motherhood, the best adventure ever!

Just an FYI, I am not getting any form of payment for these reviews:)

Blankets/Swaddle Blankets

Our hands down most favorite blankets are these Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets. They are available at Babies R Us or Target and are worth every penny. We were lucky enough to get several sets as gifts. We actually have 12 total now. I leave a few at daycare and the rest stay here. These blankets are lightweight and can be used for swaddling (obviously), tummy time, nursing, covering the car seat when walking outside or in the doctor's office around sick kids, etc. We tried a sleep sack and to say Hayes hated it would be an understatement. Not every baby likes swaddling, which is why I like these blankets. They make swaddling super easy, but I use them for more than just swaddling.

We use some heavier blankets to cover Hayes at night, but that is really it. I don't think we have used a single receiving blanket since he was born.

Nursing/Feeding Supplies
So breastfeeding Hayes has been the most challenging thing I have ever done. It was more challenging then actually giving birth. But, we have mastered it and Hayes is still getting only breastmilk. (I pump during the day for bottles at daycare and nurse him when we are at home.) I could write an entire book on breastfeeding, but I won't. I am more than happy to answer questions though! We faced lots of challenges in the first month and overcame them all! So for moms who are breastfeeding, these are my must haves:

A nursing sleep bra! These bras are super comfortable and easy to feed baby with. It was all I wore for the first 2 months. Medela makes one, but they run pretty small. I have a Motherhood Maternity one I like also. I still wear these at night.

Nursing pads! I used Lansinoh disposable pads for the first few months and wore them often, because I was leaking often:) Now, I use washable ones and I only have to wear them at night.

Nursing tanks! I ordered a few from Gap before Hayes came, and I'm glad I had them to wear right away. This one is my favorite and it came from Gap. It is super easy to manage for feedings, no clips to mess with. It is also easy to wear out. I would throw it on with my second trimester maternity jeans, also from Gap, a sweater, and a pair of flats, and look kinda presentable....for a sleep-deprived new mommy.

Pump Pump! I have a Medela pump and I love it. It is one of the more expensive models, but I am getting my money's worth. I pump 2-3 times everyday and plan on continuing until Hayes is 1, so having a nice pump is totally worth the money for me. I have also heard good things about the Avent pump. Recommendation...get to know your pump before your milk comes in. It will make things slightly easier to manage:) Make sure you have bags or bottles for freezer storage! All Medela products come with instructions for storing, freezing, thawing, etc.

Nursing Cover! I have a few from Udder Covers, but I recently purchased a Balboa Baby cover that I really like. I also use these everyday when I pump at work. It is important to find one you feel comfortable with. The Balboa Baby cover feels like it covers me better.

Nipple Shield...awkward, I know...which is why I told men not to read:) Hayes had difficulty latching at first. We had to supplement with formula at first and his frenulum needed clipped, so nursing was really challenging for a while. One of Ryan's cousins suggested a nipple shield and it saved our lives. Medela makes one and it is available at Babies R Us and Target. I believe hospitals have them too, although a hardcore lactation consultant might not give you one. This thin piece of silicone makes latching easier for the baby. We used one for about 3 weeks and it was very easy for me to wean Hayes off of it. The shield got us through the first few weeks when he wasn't sure what he was doing...and neither was I:) Just so you know, a good latch is important! A bad latch can lead to mastitis, which is no fun, trust me.

Bottles! This is a tough one...every baby is so different. It is best to buy 1 bottle to make sure baby likes it before you invest in a collection. We started off with Avent and Hayes did not do well with those. We also tried Medela and he kept on sucking the nipples so hard they would become inverted. We now use Dr. Brown's for daycare and I am very happy with them.

Car Seat/Stroller
We have a Chicco Cortina Travel System. I love our carseat and stroller! My only complaint is that the carseat does not have a slot for buggys (or shopping carts if you are not from LA). It sits in the buggy, I just get nervous and want to hold it the entire time we are in the store. Our set came from Babies R Us.

Baby Gear
Baby Sling. I love love love my baby sling from Balboa Baby. I feel like Hayes is so safe and secure in it. I didn't start using one with Hayes until he was about 3 months old. I tried out my SIL's first and decided I had to have one. I actually found mine for $20 at TJMaxx! They are also available online. Check out Balboa Baby for details.

Nap Nanny. We ordered this because Hayes had pretty bad reflux until he was almost 3 months old and couldn't sleep laying flat. I like that this has a cover that can be removed and washed. It is nice to sit him in while I am eating or getting dressed. However, the Lamb Seat mentioned below works for that too. You are not supposed to use a Nap Nanny in a Pack N Play or crib. Babies can flop the top half of their bodies over the edge and potentially get stuck if the Nap Nanny is up against something. This still happens even if they are strapped in. I woke up multiple times during the night to find Hayes hanging over the edge of his. I always kept it on the floor next to our bed. If you know someone who has one, see if you can try it out before you buy your own. I like it, but I don't think we got our money's worth. They run around $120 and we got ours from Babies R Us.

Infant Seat. Seats like this are fantastic! Hayes slept in this lamb seat until he was about 3 months old. When he was 2 months old, we put the lamb seat in his crib. We never had to worry about him dangling over the edge with this one. We used it for sleeping and hanging out. We also took it with us for Hayes to sleep in when we went to visit family. And FYI, the cover is washable! We got this one from Babies R Us.

Diaper Genie. I have heard mixed reviews on these, but we love ours!

Pack N Play. We got this model because we thought we would use it as a bassinet when Hayes was first born. Due to reflux, it did not get used that way. Maybe our next baby will be able to sleep in it though. I do love it now. We have taken the top tray out and it is great to put Hayes in while I am cooking or getting ready. I know we will use it more when he becomes more mobile. Again...Babies R Us.

Bibs and Burpies. You can't have enough of these. Want some fun ones? I happen to have made most of Hayes's burpies and bibs...and I would be happy to make some for you! Email me at eppske@gmail.com or comment on this post to place your order.

Paci Strap. We waited way too long to get one of these. I don't know why. Every time Hayes spit his paci out, which was often, it would hit the floor. These will save so many trips to the sink. Or moments in public where your only paci hits the ground and your child is screaming. These are at Babies R Us and Target.

Bumbo Chair. We love our Bumbo! Right now, Hayes just plays in his. I know my sister-in-law also uses hers for some of Landen's feedings when they are away from home.

We are a Pampers family. Maybe it's something about little boys, maybe it's my little boy, but no other diaper cut it when he was a newborn. He peed out of every single Huggies he wore...which made for lots of laundry. Now that he is in size 1 diapers, Huggies snugglers aren't so bad. We still prefer Pampers though!

Baby Clothes
We didn't have a ton of clothes when Hayes was first born since we didn't know his gender. We had lots of these shirts though and it was pretty much all he wore. These were nice because we felt like we were going to break him and these shirts don't have to be pulled over the head. Zip up sleepers are also wonderful! I thought Hayes would be in 0-3 month clothes right away, especially since he was almost 9 lbs at birth. He actually stayed in newborn clothes until he was 5 weeks old. You never know how fast or slow your baby will grow!

Maternity clothes for before and after baby
I ordered my maternity jeans from Gap and loved them. I had to order mine in Long and not many places had that option. For my first two trimesters, I wore their "no-panel" pants. These are stretchy in the front and have an elastic band in the back for your expanding body. They were sooo comfortable. They were also perfect for right after Hayes was born. For my third trimester, I ordered a pair of their full panel jeans for a more comfortable option.

Holy Yoga Pants! I lived in yoga pants during my pregnancy. I usually wear scrubs to work, but at a certain point my pants were uncomfortable. So I wore yoga pants to work. And to the store. And to the doctor. And to see friends. I especially loved having these after Hayes was born. They were so comfortable and held in my after baby tummy really well. I wore regular yoga pants from JCPenney.

I also lived in these stretchy maternity tanks made by Be Maternity at Target. They were great for wearing under tops to avoid people seeing the bottom of my belly. I actually still wear these tanks everyday. I really don't like many nursing tops, so I wear a regular shirt with one of these underneath. When it is time to pump or feed, I pull my top shirt up and the tank down. I have a Bella Band, but I didn't use it much. It never stayed in place on me. These tanks were long enough that I could pull them down over any pants I didn't want to button.

Whew! What a post! I hope it helps guide all of my mommy-to-be friends! Remember, every baby and every mommy are different. What worked for us might not work for you. I welcome all questions!

Images from Babies R Us, Wal-Mart, Balboa Baby, Gap, and Be Maternity

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Fashions!

I'm sure many of you are thinking "Why the heck is Katie doing a post on fashion?" Sure, it's never been a passion of mine. I have always preferred the classics and don't usually strive for starting trends. However, I do believe in always putting your best self forward. We are all always advertising for ourselves. You never know when you will meet your future husband, wife, best friend, employer, etc. While it is not fair to judge people based on looks alone...first impressions mean a lot! Hmm....random soapbox moment. The purpose of this post is actually to show off a fun new dress I got today and show some other pieces I hope to accumulate soon.

Item #1: Must have summer dress!
This dress came from Gap.com...and I got it on sale! It came in today and I couldn't wait to try it on. I love it!!!! It is a wee bit on the short side....but I'm only 26. I can still wear "a wee bit short" dresses, right? I am still debating on shoe color and jewelry options. I will be paying a visit to DSW soon for a shoe search...

Item #2: Classic summer shorts
These shorts are also available at Gap.com...seems to be where I do most of my shopping these days. I don't have these yet, but I plan to get a pair soon! I like the shorts with the ribbon tie around the waist...but I feel like those limit your choices for tops. These shorts can easily be dressed up with a cute top and wedges, or dressed down with a simple shirt and flips. They come in a variety of colors, there is a red pair I have my eye on.

Item #3: Classic summer shoes!
I love shoes...but I don't indulge this love often. I work in a healthcare setting and wear my nike shoes everyday. I just can't justify collecting shoes to only wear on weekends. I love these sandals. The simple Gladiator style is perfect for sundresses or shorts this summer. Find these on Piperlime!

Item #4: Ahhh peep-toe!
I just want these shoes. Most of my heels are closed toe and I could use more peep toe for the summer! I love the neutral color as well. It means I can add color in with fun jewelry! I found these on Piperlime as well.

Item #5: A little bit of back home...
Mignon Faget is a special line of jewelry inspired by and made in Louisiana. I love this pelican charm! I really enjoy bringing Louisiana to Ohio every chance I get.

How cute is this graphic? Sweet Hayes has a onesie with this design screenprinted on it from Drea. Another little piece of my heritage! She found it at Storyville on Magazine Street in good ol' New Orleans.

So I must share another new interest of mine...a fantastic blog I discovered. The Blue Eyed Bride and I have a lot in common. We both have sweet baby boys named Hayes. We both went to La Tech. We are both members of the Greek system. And we both have size 10 feet....I'm not a stalker, I read it on her blog:) She writes about being a mommy, a wife, a southern girl, and a lover of event planning and home decor. Sounds like my kind of blog!

This weekend...a 4 month photo shoot! Hopefully my sweet baby gets over his cold by then...