Top Photo: Wyatt at 3 months | Bottom Photo: Jackson at 3 months
Today, I pulled out the trusty old exersaucer. You know, the hideous plastic monstrosity that nearly ever parent somehow ends up with? I was reflecting back on when Jackson started using the ‘sauce, and thought that he must’ve been 5 or 6 months (clearly, he was 3 months as referenced above), but thought Wyatt was sturdy enough to give it a whirl and that maybe he would take a break from rolling over to eat the carpet for a few minutes. When I put him in it, he got SO EXCITED. He started squealing and smiling really large so, of course, I grabbed my camera to snap a few photos. In that moment, the biggest wave of nostalgia swept over me and I remembered just how adorable my tiny Jackson was playing in that thing. He would slam on it and squeal for what seemed like hours, content to just slobber on his farm friends. In these photos Wyatt was channeling his big brother at 6 months old, looking just as happy and as cute as Jackson.
Top Photo: Jackson at 6 months | Bottom Photo: Wyatt at 3 Months
I have eleventy million photos of Jackson in this contraption, and I’m happy that I now have started a collection of Wyatt hanging out in it too. Handing down toys from big brother to little is almost as good as putting Wyatt in all of Jackson’s old clothes and remembering just how sweet and squishy my first baby was. Its a nice reminder for the days that I am dealing with a tall, bossy, demanding, threenager who is still just as adorable as he was at 6 months old.
Judging me by my freezer meal habit, you are probably already aware that I am a big fan of easy dinners. I have been loving our new trend of freezer meals, but sometimes (like once a year) I get in the mood to cook (I know, weird, right?). When I do, I like to stick to easy recipes, and this one is one of my favorites. I’m not sure where I found it, but it was years ago, and I wrote it down in a little book, that has somehow managed to make it through at least 4 moves, and I would be really sad if I lost this recipe. So I decided to put it where I put all of the various things I don’t ever want to forget…here :). It helps when your sous chef is this cute:
For this recipe, you only need a few ingredients: Shrimp, butter, olive oil, white wine, parsley, basil, garlic, crushed red pepper, & linguine. You can boil the pasta while preparing the rest of the dish, and your entire meal, I kid you not, will be done in about 10-15 minutes. Start by heating 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tbsp of red pepper, 1 tbsp of minced garlic, and salt/pepper in a skillet.
Add shrimp and simmer. When the shrimp are cooked, remove them from the oil and place aside.
Add 1/2 cup of butter (thats a whole stick. i know, it seems like overkill, but it makes a TON of pasta, and butter is delish anyway, just do it.) and a cup of white wine to the mixture, and let simmer (NOT boil) until it is reduced by half.
While this is happening, your linguine is probably close to finishing. Check on it and when it is finished, drain it.
When your sauce mixture is reduced, add your shrimp back in. Add in Parsley & Basil (1 tsp for dried, 4 tbsp for fresh), and heat just enough so that the shrimp are warm again. Pour the saucy mixture over the linguine and BAM! you are done. Eat it and love it. You’re welcome.
Shrimp Pasta Recipe
1 lb peeled raw shrimp
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup white wine
4 tbsp chopped parsley (1 tsp if using dried)
4 tbsp chopped basil (1 tsp if using dried)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 lb linguine
Heat olive oil, crushed red pepper, garlic, & salt/pepper to taste. Add shrimp and bring to a simmer. When the shrimp are done, remove them from the pan and place aside.
Add 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup white wine to the pan. Simmer (do not boil!) until mixture is reduced by half.
Add shrimp, parsley, & basil to sauce and heat until warm. Add to cooked linguine.
At only two years old, Jackson knows how to be a mama manipulator. This morning I was getting a little frustrated because he was dragging his feet about getting ready and we were starting to run a little late. I told him to sit on the stairs so I could put his shoes on. He reached out and grabbed my neck for a hug and then this:
Jackson: I love you SO much Mommy!!!
Me: Awww, I love you too baby!
Jackson: That makes you so happy mom!
Me: It does make me very happy that you love me!
Jackson: Yes, it makes you not be angry at me anymore when I say this!
…He’s right. I mean I wasnt angry with him, but just getting (apparantly visibly) flustered about having to go back to work today (worst ever. E-V-E-R.) and missing them and trying to get both of them ready and out the door. Anyhow, he knows exactly what buttons to push haha!
A month or so ago I wrote this post about a new thing I was trying to encourage more healthy and home cooked meals for my family. I am happy to report that it worked out wonderfully for us, and tomorrow, I will have my third day of freezer meal prep. The original post was quite popular, so I thought I would write another to showcase some of the new recipes I have tried (really good stuff, you guys!). I have turned this whole freezer meal thing into a social event as well, inviting my best buds to join in on the meal prep fun with me, which makes time go way faster, as well. Today I embarked on a journey to Wegmans (aka heaven on earth), and purchased all of the ingredients for our meals, knowing I will be limited on time tomorrow with an appointment in the morning. My refrigerator looks like this:
That’s a lot of meat, ya’ll! I continue to have the same tips for preparing these meals as I did in the last post:
A couple of tips I have if you plan to embark on a freezer meal journey:
DO NOT buy store brand freezer bags. Go with Hefty or Ziploc. I made that mistake one time and had SO MANY bags burst. It was infuriating to have fully prepared meals exploding out of bags.
Make a list. Stick to it. Also, use your recipe list to group all of the items for each meal together before you prep anything. This way, you wont use all of the pineapple for one meal when it is supposed to be used with three different meals, for example.
Always put in your meat and loose ingredients first, then pour the sauce overtop - it just makes things easier.
Prelabel your bags before making the meals. Seems obvious to me, but you never know ;)
And a new tip:
Don’t store your meals laying flat in the freezer. Store them upright. if you store them flat, it will not fit quite right in the crockpot until it thaws some, and if you are planning to leave the house while the meal is cooking, it will make a small mess. If you store them upright so that the food collects in the bottom of the bag, you will be able to put a log of frozen goodness into the slow cooker that will fit every time.
If you forget to put the food in the crockpot in the morning and realize it at 2 or 3 pm, it’s okay-just cook on high for 3-4 hours. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately ;)
Here are the 8 new recipes, along with my reviews! (I have also updated the previous post about freezer meals with reviews as well).
Black Bean Taco Soup
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Onion Chopped
1 Packet of Taco Seasoning
1 Can of Corn (drained)
1 Can of Black Beans (rinsed & drained)
2 Cans of Stewed Tomatoes
1 Can of Tomato Sauce
1 Can of Green Chili’s (4 oz)
Cook on low for 2-4 hours This and the chili below are the only recipes that require food to be cooked. BROWN THE GROUND BEEF and onion, let it cool, and mix in with other ingredients. Ground beef shouldn’t be cooked in the crockpot, unless you want a brick of meat - ew.
Review: I loved this soup - to be honest it wasn’t really “soupy” but more of a chili. I topped with sour cream and served with tortilla chips, and it was really good.
1 lb Chicken Breasts
1 jar of pasta sauce (any kind)
1 Zuchinni, cut into chunks
1 Green Pepper, Chopped
1 Onion, Chopped
Cooks on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over linguine or other pasta.
Review: I was pleasantly surprised by how good this one was. I didnt cube or shred the chicken at all, but served it whole over pasta, and both my husband and I really enjoyed it.
Maple Dijon Chicken
1.5 lbs of Chicken Breast
1 cup Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Cooks on low for 6-8 hours
Review: I haven’t actually tried this one yet - it’s still in my freezer. It smelled really good when prepping it though!
BBQ Cranberry Chicken
2 lbs chicken breast
1/4 cup of Dried Minced Onion
1 can Whole Cranberry Sauce
1 cup BBQ Sauce
Cooks on low for 6-8 hours
Review: I liked this one enough that I am making it again, however, I will add more BBQ sauce when it is finished cooking. It was good, but needed a bit more.
Chili (makes two meals)
1 lb Ground Beef (browned, obvi.)
1 Onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of Ketchup
1/4 cup water
1 can kidney beans
1 package of Chili Seasoning
3 stalks of celery
2 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp of Sugar
Cook low for 2-4 hours
Review: this one was just a regular chili to me. I like chili, and you can really use any chili recipe that you like and turn it into a freezer meal! I did think this one needed some tomato sauce.
Crock Pot Pulled Pork (makes two meals)
1 3lb pork roast
1/2 bottle of BBQ Sauce (sweet baby ray’s, obviously)
1/2 onion, chopped
add 1/2 cup of water before cooking
Cook on low for 6-8 hours
Review: do yourself a favor and split this into two meals! It was SO MUCH food with the 3 lb roast that this time I will split it into two bags and add 1/4 cup water before cooking instead.
Beef & Broccoli
1 lb beef chuck roast, sliced
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
3 Garlic Cloves (minced)
1 bag frozen broccoli
2 tbsp corn starch (added to sauce in pan on the stove after cooking meat & broccoli. Use as a thickener to create whatever consistency of sauce you like).
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice.
Review: THIS IS MY MOST FAVORITE RECIPE IN THE WHOLE WORLD SO FAR. I used stew meat instead of chuck roast, because less cutting, and I made the sauce chinese restaurant thick with the corn starch, and it was so good. Baby daddy agreed.
White Chicken Chili (makes two meals)
1 lb chicken breast, cubed
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 can White Corn, drained
2 cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 packet of white chili seasoning mix (McCormick’s makes one!)
Cooks on low 6-8 hours. Top with sour cream, serve with tortilla chips, of course.
Review: Okay I lied before, THIS is my most favorite recipe in the world so far. Seriously, so good. I actually made it super bowl sunday not as a freezer meal, because my husband suggested we have some, and ended up loving it and adding to my freezer meal rotation.
For three full sets of meals (some from the previous list, and some from this list) I spent a total of $236.00, meaning that each of us will have 15 meals for about $79.00 - again, around $5.25 per meal, to feed full families of three or four. My mind is constantly blown by how much less expensive it is to actually meal plan than it is to wander around the grocery store every week. And I now want to marry my crock pot. Try it out - this has been a total game changer for us. We eat at home every night and it is, for the most part, well balanced, affordable, and GOOD.
This is a photo of my bedroom. I sleep on the far side of the bed, a bassinet tucked neatly beside me. I love having Wyatt so close by, just within arms reach throughout the entire night. Jackson was out of our room and sleeping in his crib by 6 weeks of age. It certainly made for a more exhausted mama there for awhile, but since we committed to sleep “training” him (not at six weeks, more like 5 months) he has always been, and continues to be an amazing sleeper in terms of putting himself to sleep and not fighting bedtime. I love the ease that comes with our nighttime routine with Jackson. He knows that we brush teeth, read a story, have a hug + kiss, and then he settles down for sleep while I leave the room and go about my usual business. I contribute a great deal of this success to his comfort level in terms of his crib from an early age.
Wyatt will reach 11 weeks of age on Tuesday, and I just can’t come to terms with him leaving my room. He has been napping in his crib regularly, twice a day, on a regular schedule. I noticed that he was showing signs of sleep around 10 AM daily, so I decided to swaddle him and lay him down one day, and was amazed when he silently put himself to sleep. He does the same thing between 2-3 PM daily, and every time I swaddle him, give him a paci, and he puts. himself. to sleep. I didn’t even know that was a thing at this age, but apparently he is an angel and I am blessed with the most precious baby ever in all of the universe, and he does it, and its easy, so I’m not complaining or questioning, we are going with it.
Anyhow, I go back to work a week from Monday, and know that I am going to be overly exhausted at that point, and that it probably wouldn’t be a horrible idea for all of us to get really good sleep, and that to accomplish that he should probably be in his own room, but man…
He is most likely our last baby. I love having a baby in my room next to me. Every day my rational mind thinks crazy thoughts about how “tonight will be the night. I will place him in his crib and we will all be happy and merry and lovely roses rainbows and butterflies atop purple mountains and world peace!” Then, bedtime comes and I nurse him, swaddle him, and place him right next to me in his lovely bassinet, thinking that “tomorrow is the night, there is no way we are ready for this, if he sleeps in his crib tonight the world. will. end.” It’s a classic tug-of-war over here. Who knows when he will make it to his crib.
When he does start sleeping in his crib, I will have to come to terms with the fact that I will most likely never have a tiny baby tucked in next to my bed ever again. It all comes back to the “ache.” I have said before that I would love to have 152364846 babies. I love them so much when they are little. I can’t afford 152364846 babies, and I don’t want 152364846 teenagers, so we are very likely keeping it at two (don’t get your hopes up grandpa!). I could have 152364846 babies, but still ache for “just one more.” I don’t think that ache will ever really go away. I am going to be old and wrinkly and gray, and still aching for “just one more” baby. I won’t love our two any less - they are amazing and perfect, and they are more than fulfilling, and make our family so much better. But at the same time, I don’t think that ache ever really goes away.
Tonight, at 9:00 PM I swaddled my baby, placed him in his crib and rubbed his sweet little head. It has been an hour since he put himself to sleep, and I am going about my usual business, almost ready for bed myself. I may make tonight the night, after all he is already in his crib. The crazy hormonal-new-mom-of-a-final-baby side of me suspects that I might just go in there and scoop him up only to place him neatly in his bassinet right next to me. Sometimes we just aren’t ready.
I sure wish I took before & after photos, but I have to tell you that my pediatrician is a wizard. At Wyatt’s two month visit last Thursday I mentioned that I had been oiling his head due to the dreadful case of cradle cap that he has. Jackson had a REALLY mild case of cradle cap around the same age, but it never flared up badly or was even really noticeable, Wyatt, on the other hand, had a head full of ugly yellow scales. The pediatrician recommended picking up a bottle of Selsen Blue Dandruff Shampoo. The stuff they make for men. I was pretty skeptical, because its regular strength men’s shampoo, and maybe not the best thing to use on precious baby heads, but I also really don’t like the scales. And Wyatt doesn’t love that I am drawn to picking at them either, so curiosity won out. And it was our trusted PEDIATRICIAN who recommended it, so yeah. She said to rub it onto his head thoroughly and let it sit for ten minutes, and then rinse. She also said that it would likely clear up within 2-3 applications, and that we should space them out to about twice per week. She said that not only would it take care of the scales that were already on his scalp, it would also kill the yeast that causes it to come back over and over again (I have friends who’s children have battled cradle cap for more than a year…so yeah). Anyway, it seemed reasonable enough so I picked up a bottle on Thursday and we followed her instructions that evening. Immediately after the bath I was pretty unimpressed, as it looked like all the shampoo had done was turn his scales green and make him smell like a grown man. On Friday morning, though, it was apparent that a good amount of the scales were actually gone!
We went out of town over the weekend and it seemed like his scales were fading away more and more. When we got home last night, I applied some more shampoo and rinsed again, and today there are almost no scales left on his precious little head. So yeah, I’d say that it is working. I mean, he smells like a man, but at least his head will be nice and smooth soon!
Also if you plan on using this method take note: Selsen Blue is obviously not tear-free gentle shampoo like Johnsons, or other brands marketed to little ones. Just be careful when rinsing :)
This past friday, we went to the grocery store with the boys in tow. We were only picking up a few items. While weaving through the crowded aisles, taking our time picking out milk and butter, Jackson caught sight of the beer & wine section. He immediately stated “We need beer.” When we explained that he was far too young to drink beer he immediately replied “I need to have a beer with daddy.”
I think a lot of dads with sons probably daydream about having a beer with their son. Much older sons, of course. There is something special about cracking open that first cold one together on the front porch, on a hot summer night. Talking about life and dreams and responsibility, and just being present. Its something so simple, but equally memorable.
Needless to say, I was surprised that my almost three year old boy seemed to understand that having that first beer with dad is a rite of passage. (I’m not sure HOW he knew that, but we all know he is wise beyond his years anyway). I didn’t want to crush my toddler’s dreams of having a “beer” with his papa, so as I stood in the middle of the diary aisle, I tried to come up with a kid-friendly alternative. And I did.
ROOT BEER. It has the word BEER in it. It comes in a six pack of brown glass bottles. And while it might contain more sugar than I’d like, it has no caffeine or, more importantly alcohol. Off to the soda aisle we went, and picked out what would not only be my son’s first ceremonial “beer” with daddy, but also his first soda.
So, on a Friday night in January, my boys sat at the kitchen table and cracked open a couple of cold ones. They had talks about mickey mouse, and how their days went, and clinked those brown glass bottles together about a hundred times.
We currently still have four bottles of Root Beer sitting in the fridge, waiting for future Friday night chats between these guys. And I also have to note that neither one of them drank the whole bottle - Jackson only made it through the neck of the bottle before deciding he’d had enough. But that’s just it. It’s not about how much “beer” they drink, its about the time they spend, and the conversation they have, and most certainly about the memories they make. Just as it will be when Jackson is old enough and has that first ceremonial beer with his daddy.
Jackson has been remembering parts of his dreams for a few months now. He isn’t great at articulating them all the time, but often in the morning he will talk about how he played with martian mickey, or any other host of characters. We have held off on nightmares up until now, but I knew that they would come sooner or later. And early this morning, he had his first true bad dream.
Around 5:15 this morning, I was awake and feeding Wyatt, and Zac was leaving for work. I heard Jackson start whining and he shrieked once or twice. A minute or so later, he was mumbling something, that started with “my” and I couldn’t quite make it out. At this point he had woken up and started crying and repeating his mumbled words, which turned out to be “my baby wyatt!” He was in distress so I, while still feeding Wyatt, walked into his room to see if everything was ok. I opened the door and he cried about his baby wyatt, so I showed him that Wyatt was just fine, and that I had him with me. After he established that Wyatt was there, he calmed down tremendously and started to tell me about his dream in broken pieces as he cuddled in my bed. I can’t quite grasp what happened in his dream but the gist of it, in Jackson speak was this:
Wyatt was in his car seat
Grandma & Grandpa pushed him out
Mommy pushed him out
Wyatt was injured
We left Wyatt
That’s not nice to push Wyatt out mommy!
It seems that my little sweetheart had a bit of a nightmare about losing the little brother he just got. I have no idea what could have brought it on, and at one point he even mentioned a crash. I have never even uttered the word crash to him in relation to a car or car seat. I am very careful to make sure he knows that his car seat is to keep him safe (epic buckle up battles), but have never used the word crash or accident or wreck.
I know that he will have more nightmares as he continues to grow, and that they will get more complex, and that he will be able to articulate them better. I have certainly had my share of bad dreams - the worst ones always feel so real. It just hurt my heart a little to see him so worked up in the middle of the night. At the same time I swooned a little over the fact that he loves his tiny brother so much already that he is afraid to lose him. They really will be best buds :).
"Second babies make you want to have third babies." A wise friend of mine said that to me the other day. Nothing has been more on point than that statement. I have always wanted to have two children. Two has always been my limit, but when the second baby is so sweet, it makes it really easy to imagine having a third. Its no secret, I love babies. I would have 128934297 babies if I could. The problem is that I don’t want 128934297 teenagers, and well, they grow up.
With the first baby, I spent a lot of time trying to survive. The fatigue and constant worry was pretty hard on me. I think its the weight of realizing that you are wholly responsible for the life and well-being of another human being. One that you fell so hard and so quickly in love with that you would literally eat your own arm off if it meant they were safe and happy. Literally. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around with that first babe (and all of this doesn’t even take into account the strain on relationships that first babies bring). But the days pass, and your confidence grows, and you realize that you are actually doing it. They start sleeping more and interacting more, and you finally settle into a routine and eventually the dust settles. For me, the baby fever hit when Jackson started being a lot less of a baby, probably around 8-9 months when he started standing and wanting to take steps, and had some teeth and whatnot. We began talking about when to have the second baby and what sort of age difference would be ideal for us (there are 2 3/4 years between these two).
Now that the second baby is here, everything has been easier. The pregnancy was easy, birth was so much easier this time, and the baby is such a freaking gem that I can’t even explain it. I think the real difference is in the whole been-there done-that aspect of parenthood. We already have confidence in ourselves as parents, and we recognize that relationships will take work too and things are going to change, but we already know that things change for the better, and that even if we are exhausted and wholly responsible for his well-being, we are ok with that. And because we have done this all before, I know just how quickly time passes, and how fleeting these days are. Before we know it he is going to be walking and talking and defying us at every turn, and all of a sudden they will be adults. This time, I am doing a much better job of soaking in every single second and savoring the newness of this little person. With the first I was looking forward to each and every milestone and every single new thing he might be able to do or participate in, but with this one I am trying to slow down time and push all of that big boy stuff off.
I’m not sure if we will ever have another baby. I do know that wouldn’t be for at LEAST 5 years. I can’t even believe I am typing this - I have always been so set on two babies, and maybe the reason the second one is so easy because he completes our family. I still love the idea of being a family of four, but I’m never going to say never, besides, Zac keeps hinting at the thought of a third baby, for which I tell him he is crazy, but really. I get it. That’s the thing about second babies - they make you kind of want a third too.