Friday, October 10, 2014

Maleah at 20.5 Months

I started a post about Maleah at 20 months and never finished it... and then just a couple of weeks later, half of the information changed anyway! So I'll just meet 20 and 21 months in the middle and call it a day!

First things first: I promise to stop counting the months at 2 years. I promise promise! 

At 18 months, Maleah weighed 23.5 pounds and was 32 inches tall. I think! It's hard to remember these things! I am pretty confident she has grown at least an inch since then and is pushing the 25 pound mark, if not more. She's gettin' heavy! She wears 18-24 month clothes but I've mostly been buying 2T because I'm cheap and she'll grow into them!

Her day goes something like this...

6:30/6:45 - Wake up, sleepy head! She gets a sippy of milk (it's the first thing she asks for when she gets up!). Get ready for the day - including brushing her teeth with toothpaste! She's so fancy.

7:15 - Leave for school! Currently her favorite songs to listen to on the way to school are "Let It Go," "Old McDonald," and "The Wheels on the Bus". Most days she drinks a smoothie (about 4-6 ounces) on the way to school.

7:30 - Arrive at school! She usually eats some blueberry waffle before 8am. 

9/9:30 - Snack w/ sippy of water

11/11:30 - Lunch w/ sippy of milk

12:30-2:30 - nap

2:30 - snack w/ sippy of water

5 - Mommy's here! We make a mad dash for the car and try to get home quickly!

5:30/6 - Dinner

6:30-7:15 - Play!!! On the nights Blake works, we usually go on a long walk around the neighborhood during this time. 

7:15 - Clean up & head to bath

7:30 - Read the Bible , sing a few songs, time for bed!

Maleah is a really good eater, in my opinion! I don't know if it is how we approached food or just her personality and tastes, but she really does eat a pretty well-rounded diet. It makes me so happy to see her enjoy good foods! (But I also don't mind giving her some good old fashioned "junk" food from time to time!) 

Some of her favorite foods: avocados, sweet potatoes, ham, fruit snacks (I try to find the healthiest options!), dried cranberries, fruit squeezies, smoothies, peanut butter, sweet peas, broccoli, apples, mangoes, and... chocolate! She even likes dark chocolate!

We took of the crib rail and put in a rail guard this past weekend. The first several nights, she had trouble falling asleep. But last night, she went to sleep very quickly. We went ahead and made the change because she wasn't trying to climb out of her crib (and hasn't figured out that she can get out of the bed with the toddler rail...) and because I want to snuggle with her! We kept the routine mostly the same - except we moved our Bible-reading and singing from the rocking chair to the bed. Hoping to move the rocking chair out soon to free up more play space! But I kept it in there as a safety net in case she's struggling to sleep. Otherwise, once she's out, she's out! She sleeps around 11 hours each night and rarely wakes in the middle of the night. 

People make the comment all the time that Maleah is a good talker. She really does say a lot and can communicate pretty well! Mots of that is just her nature - she just likes to talk! :) But we do make communication a priority at home. We don't play with a lot of battery-operated toys (something I could write a novel on!!!) and we try to focus our energy on playing with her and talking to her during the evening hours. She really likes imaginative play (baby dolls, kitchen, doll house), which opens up lots of conversation building opportunities. We also require her to ask for what she needs/wants instead of whining (as long as she actually knows how to say what it is she wants). Sometimes she will point and grunt at items and I will say "Maleah, you need to use words. If you want milk, you need to say 'milk, please'." And usually she will either say or sign those words.

We also do not usually turn on the television while she is awake during the weeknights. We don't mind her watching some TV, but we only have about 3 hours with her in the evening before it's time for bed, so I want to make the most of that time and not waste it watching television. I really think it has helped not only her language, but also her stamina. Maleah can concentrate on a task or activity for quite a while - a skill I know will come in handy as she begins school in a few years!

In the past weeks, we have really started working on counting and colors. Her language skills are excellent, but we need to focus on logic, too! We have been discussing colors, shapes, numbers, and counting a lot during our playtime. I know she is also getting a lot of exposure during school, as well. I think in November, I will start working on specific colors, numbers, and shapes - I can just go along with what they're learning at school. This way she gets some explicit instruction along with the day-to-day interaction with all the other colors/numbers/shapes. 

Maleah knows so many songs... too many to list! But my favorite is when she sings "Tinkle, Tinkle" (as she calls it!). She sings it so sweetly and gets almost every word!

"I wuv oo" - I love when she says it unprovoked. This morning as I was making her cup of milk, she just said it - "I wuv oo, Mommy". Melt my heart!

Personality - This girl is like an open book. You know exactly how she feels at any given moment! She will cut her eyes at you one minute and then come and give you a big kiss the next! 

Humor - She's starting to pick up on her own sense of humor. When we laugh at her, you can see that she is excited that we thought what she did was funny! You can tell she's proud that she made us laugh... especially when it gets her out of being in trouble! :) 

She calls herself Mia. We have started calling her Mia. Much easier to get out when your mouth is full of food and you are trying to stop a disaster in progress. :)

Ahhhh discipline. This is a hard area for me, but I'm always working on it! When I talk of discipline, I don't just mean punishment. That's part of it, but discipline is just training or instruction. One of the fine lines with a girl is figuring out how to balance emotions and behavior. Maleah can be VERY emotional - she cries A LOT about ANYTHING! I want to validate her feelings while helping her learn to control her actions

So, without going into a whole novel about our various methods of disciplines... I just want to say this: we use time-outs. We don't call it a time-out unless she is actually in trouble (like for hitting or doing something we asked her not to do). But, if she's just screaming and generally pitching a fit because she's upset, we take her to her room and say "I love you and understand you're upset, but you cannot scream/kick/hit/act ugly/whatever." We tell her to stay in her quiet place until she is done crying. Usually within 2-3 minutes, she comes walking out and we reaffirm her, give lots of love, and reiterate that it's okay to be upset, but it's not okay to make everyone else miserable because you're upset. 

Basically I am repeating what I said in my last post: Over the past few months, I really feel like motherhood has finally settled in with me. To be very honest with you, I really lacked confidence for the first year. I was having a great time, but identifying myself as a mother (and everything that goes with it) was very hard for me. It's like you have to form a new identity while also learning how to take care of a tiny, unique person. You have to wade through advice, suffer through sleepless nights, and conquer teething. It's a challenge. But I finally feel like I have my heels dug in deep and, for the first time, I kinda feel like I know what I'm doing! I'm not kidding when I joke about "wingin' it" - really the first year was just trial and error! But now we are getting to know our little girl and feeling really confident about our decisions! That's a great feeling. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: September 15-21

Coming back from a vacation does not make me want to cook! But. I must.

Last week was a little strange, since Blake started a new part-time job and we were going out of town. This week will also be a little strange since I truly do not feel like doing a lot of cooking this week! I want to work on getting our house back in order, so all of my recipes this week are coming from short-cuts!

Monday: Lasagna, garlic bread, sweet peas
Short-cut: The lasagna is one I made a few weeks ago to freeze. Just let it thaw in the fridge all day, then bake for 20-30 minutes (or until cooked through) at around 350F.

Tuesday: White BBQ chicken, rice, bacon & brown sugar green beans, sweet potato tots Short-cut: The chicken was previously cooked, shredded, & frozen! All I have to do is thaw & heat it!

Thursday: Black beans & rice
Short-cut: The black beans were previously cooked and frozen... noticing a trend here!? And the rice is leftover from Tuesday.

Friday: Parents' Night Out at the church (No cooking required!)

Saturday/Sunday: I don't know.

Haha! I really don't know what I want to cook this weekend. I am not sure what time Alabama plays, so what I make will largely depend on that!

Truly, freezer cooking is a lifesaver! Even though I had to do a little extra work a few weeks ago to get it all ready, it means that this week, I can take it easy and focus on my house...

Speaking of my house...

One of my absolute favorite blogs is IHeart Organizing. There are some fantastic ideas and resources and pretty, pretty pictures on that there blog! 

There are a ton of free printables available not only to help you streamline your life, but also to just generally make you happy because they're so darn cute! I loved her "Peek at the Week" printable, but it just didn't fit exactly what I needed it for. So... I created my own. I totally stole some of her intellectual property, but she doesn't offer customization so I took it upon myself to do what I needed. 

So, I created these! You can click on the image and it will take you to my Google Drive where you can download the PDFs for yourself! They were made in Publisher - it's very, very simple to use if you want to "tweak" them a little bit to suit your needs. 

I created this PDF for home. In the squares, I can can write our daily menu as well as any important events. The problem is... you have to write small! That's very hard for me to do. But I'm learning that getting everything important onto one page usually requires small handwriting!

As far as "To Do's" - there are just some big things that need to get accomplished each week, but it varies by week. Maybe this week my big "to-do" (on top of everything else I am doing!) is to pull out all of Maleah's clothes and store them in Space Bags. Or maybe my big "to-do" this week is to make some more chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I'll let you know which one I choose. :)

I am also a "daily cleaner"... or... at least I profess to be! I've let some of my cleaning slip lately, but I'm hoping to jump back on board this week. I have a routine of what I clean each night so I write that down each week in the "To Clean" box to help me stay on track.

The "Thoughts" box is... well... for thoughts! A Scripture, a quote, a memory... just something "happy" for your week. 

This one is a little more suited to work (although I have this design in the home version as well). I halved the daily boxes just for my own visual space issue (aka big handwriting). I can put the things I know in advance up top and then little things that pop up below. This keeps me from writing way too big and running out of space for each day. That last box is flexible - I use it to write down things coming up in the next week.

The rest is self-explanatory!

I hope you have a great week! Happy Cooking!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe: Planning Part 1

Just FYI - There is no "Meal Plan Monday" today because I'm only cooking once this week. We have a busy week with some traveling thrown in so all I'm making is spaghetti & meatballs... so, instead, let me fill you in on the Capsule Wardrobe project...

I got started this weekend! This is going to take a few weeks for me to really hone in on what I want to actually be in my Capsule Wardrobe for October-December. Slowly but surely, it is coming together!

Part of this whole Capsule Wardrobe experiment is being able to spend less time shopping, rummaging, hunting, and reinventing. Look, folks... at 29, I pretty much am who I am. And I am not Madonna. I am not going to change my look every five seconds. I know what works in my lifestyle and I know what doesn't (well, at least I'm trying to know what does and doesn't). So as part of Un-Fancy's Capsule Wardrobe planning is to know who you are and who you aren't. 

So I start thinking... What is my style? Or, at least, what do I want it to be?

It is: 
  • movable
  • girly
  • classic
  • basic
  • dressy with a casual feel
  • sleek
  • coordinated
  • multipurpose (business and casual)
  • neutral with soft colors {mostly}
  • cotton, natural blends
It is not:
  • sporty or athletic
  • edgy
  • stiff
  • overly casual
  • super trendy
  • yellow, neons
I kept all this in mind as I sorted through my closet Friday night. (Yes, I cleaned out my closet on a Friday night!) It was actually a great time to do it - Blake was in his office studying, Maleah was happily playing independently, and I was cleaning out the closet! We were all in our own little worlds!

My goal for Friday night was to go ahead and separate potential Capsule Wardrobe pieces (Pile 1) and definitely-not Capsule Wardrobe pieces (Pile 2). I will eventually go back through Pile 2 and decide what to keep and what to donate. Having thought about what I want my clothes to "say" made this process a lot quicker than I imagined (maybe two hours?). 

This is how the closet started out - it's embarrassing! On the top is all of my shirts and dresses and the bottom is sweatshirts, jackets, pants, and skirts. Some of these items I have been holding onto for YEARS! (Please ignore my poor iPhone photography skills!)

I started by pulling out similar items in groups - all my pants, all my jeans, all my short-sleeved shirts, etc. and sorted them into the two piles - keepers for CW and not-keepers. 

This was the original "keep" pile. It had over 65 pieces - way too many. So I went back through the pile and really thought long and hard about what I wanted to keep for my Capsule Wardrobe. The thing I had to keep reminding myself was that I am not getting rid of the clothes that aren't in my wardrobe - I am just putting them away for later. For instance, there's a khaki colored jacket in there that I just absolutely love and it works well in any season - but I have some jackets that only work well in fall/winter so I'm going to put that khaki one away for later. 

Finally, I got it down to about 55 pieces. I am still not done, but I got to a good stopping point. And I haven't even touched my shoes...

As I was going through my clothes, I realized 37 pieces (which is supposed to include shoes) is not going to work for me just yet. The blog author who uses 37 pieces works at home, so her 37 pieces are appropriate for her work, whereas some of mine just aren't. Also, since I am working with what I already have, I don't have a "color scheme" to go off of that would make it easier to mix & match. As I continue to do this, I will buy pieces that go together better and, therefore, can use fewer pieces. My new goal is 50 pieces, including shoes. Here's how I plan to break it down:

1 winter coat
2 business blazers/jackets
4 hoodies/sweatshirts 
2 cardigans
20 tops (short sleeve, button-downs, tees, tunics, sweaters, etc.)
2 dresses
4 skirts
4 dress pants
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair wear-out-in-public leggings
9 pairs of shoes (which will become less as the colder season approaches because some of these include sandals)

It still seems like a whole lot... but I haven't even looked at my winter sweaters, so, we'll see what really makes the cut in a few weeks!

This doesn't include the stuff I wear around the house - I usually come home and throw on a t-shirt and "only-at-home leggings" (AKA they have stains or holes in them! But they're still soooooo comfy!!!!). I also have some jackets/sweaters and shorts that I only wear around the house, so I'm not counting those either. 

That's how far I've gotten so far! 

Do you think you could pare down your closet in just a couple of hours? Honestly, I thought it would take all weekend - but since I decided not to make decisions about what to donate, what to sell, and what to keep for later, the process went much quicker. I can make those decisions at a later time when I really have time to think about it. But this got me jump-started on the process. Give yourself one or two hours and see what your immediate reactions are to your clothes - you may find it is much easier to pull what you really, really love than you think!

Here's another site that is totally dedicated to the Capsule Wardrobe to help get you started!