Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Babyproofing and Dogs

Kind of an odd title considering my baby is about to be a toddler, but . . . I don't want to think about that just now! Until recently, rather than babyproofing my entire house (or even my entire living room), we just "pinned" Ella in our living room area by arranging couches and putting up a gate. It was the safe (read easy) way to babyproof the area where she was playing. Then it became not so easy . . . when she learned how to move my blockades. At first she wasn't obsessed with moving the barriers, but then it became a game. She knew how to escape, and as soon as I put her down she'd make a run (crawl) for it.

Now, we've removed the blockades, and I'm letting her roam a bit more freely. This is actually less stressful than constantly moving her back inside the blockades, and putting the blockades back up. However, I still need to completely babyproof the area (something I really needed to do a long time ago). I've put plug covers on all the outlets, and I've removed dangerous items out of the area where I'm letting her crawl. We have an open floor plan, and part of the open space includes the kitchen. I'm not planning on locking her out of all the cabinets and drawers, but there are definitely some I want to keep her out of.  I'm having difficulty finding  drawer and cabinet locks to use, mostly because I'm being really picky. Our cabinets are new, and I really don't want to drill into them. It is hard to find cabinet locks that you don't screw into the cabinets. I found these, but they are very expensive compared to the ones that you drill into cabinets. Do you have any suggestions for other cabinet locks?

I know these photos have nothing to do with babyproofing, but Ella has been SO cute with our dogs lately. She's really been having fun interacting with them, and she is learning to be gentle enough that they are starting to enjoy her too (at least I think so anyway).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday . . . a little late

I took these yesterday, so that counts, right? Ignore the pantless baby . . . it was after a diaper change, right before I went to put her in her PJs and to bed. :)

A Blog Award

I won my first blog award! I'm so excited! Thank you so much Kristen for giving it to me!! Be sure to check out her wonderful blog here!

As part of this award I have to answer the following questions in one word, and nominate 6 other blogs to give the award to.

1. Where is your cell phone? Chair
2. Your hair? Brown
3. Your mother? Loving
4. Your father? Strong
5. Your favorite food? Mexican
6. Your dream last night? Unknown
7. Your favorite drink? DC
8. Your dream/goal? Heaven
9. What room are you in? Living
10. Your hobby? Photography
11. Your fear? Failure
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Unsure
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren't? Tall
15. Muffins? Cinnamon
16. Wish list item? Speedlite
17. Where did you grow up? Texas
18. Last thing you did? Parenting
19. What are you wearing? PJs
20. Your TV? On
21. Your pets? Dogs
22. Friends? Amazing
23. Your life? Blessed
24. Your mood? Content
25. Missing someone? Yes
26. Vehicle? Broken
27. Something you're not wearing? Socks
28. Your favorite store? Target!
29. Your favorite color? Red
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Today
32. Your best friend? Trent
33. One place that I could go over and over? Astros
34. One person who emails you regularly? Kathryn
35. Favorite place to eat? Papasitos

And my nominations . . . I'll admit that I'm very new to the blogging world, and while I may not have close connections to all these blogs, they are definitely blogs I really enjoy reading! And . . . I know it said six, but . . .well, can I claim newbie status on this one?? :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Stockpiling List

A few weeks ago I wrote about completing a pantry clean-out and inventory so that I have a better idea of what I have on hand, as well as what I items would be good to stockpile. Well, I finally completed my pantry clean-out and inventory list! I know these photos aren't cute pictures of Ella, but I'm so proud of my organized pantry, I had to show at least a few of these photos off.

I'm not going to bore you with my entire food inventory list. Instead, I'm listing the items that I will be considering for stockpiling. As I mentioned in my food inventory post, when I talk about stockpiling, I'm talking about purchasing multiples of items that I commonly use when they are at a low price, I have a coupon for them, or, ideally, they are at a low price AND I have a coupon for them. To me, for an item to be a good target for stockpiling, it must meet several criteria.
  1. We must use the item fairly often. What good does it do for me to stockpile something that we don't eat often? I'd just be filling my pantry up with items to collect dust.
  2. The item (if food) must remain fresh/good quality/safe-to-eat with the period of time within we'd get to using it in our stockpile. This seems like common sense, but it really is something to consider. For example, we use tons of spices in our cooking, but I don't use many spices frequently enough (point #1) for these spices to still be fresh when I'd finally be able to use them. There are a few spices that we use frequently enough that they are on my stockpiling list (and I'll mention them below), but the majority of the spices in my pantry would not be good targets for stockpiling. With all that said, if I know that I'm getting low on something, I can watch for several weeks to grab the best price, even if I'm not stockpiling the item.
  3. We must be able to store the item in a reasonable space. My pantry is a decent size, but it certainly not large. I don't have tons of extra space to store items, especially large ones. This rule comes into play more with household items, like toilet paper and diapers.
There are probably more criteria, but these are the ones I can think of right at the moment. So, here's my list of items that I'm going to target for stockpiling. I've included all the food pantry items, as well as household goods. This list doesn't include items that would go in my freezer . . . I'm still working to get that list together.
  • Household goods
    • Paper towels
    • Toilet paper
    • Paper plates
    • Dishwasher Detergent
    • Laundry Detergent
  • Baby goods
    • Diapers (Diapers can be tricky, because I have to guess what size she'll be if I'm going to buy a lot. This was harder when she was younger and changing sizes more quickly. Although, I figure if we have extra of a size she outgrows that's OK, since we plan to have more children in the future. I don't want to have lots of extra diapers lying around, but if I do have a few, I don't see it as a big deal.)
    • Formula (although, not for much longer!)
    • Wipes
  • Canned goods
    • Green beans
    • Corn
    • Pinto beans
    • Black-eyed peas
    • Canned tomatoes (great for salsa!)
    • Chicken noodle soup
    • Harry and David dry soup mixes (I haven't seen them at our grocery store, but we have a Harry and David outlet store near us. These soups are great!)
    • Tomato sauce
    • Diet cokes (That's a canned good, right??)
  • Snacks
    • Popcorn (I really like the 100 calorie bags, and they are EXPENSIVE)
    • Chips
    • Granola bars
    • Nuts (peanuts and almonds, especially)
  • Spices, etc. 
    • Onion powder
    • Garlic powder
    • Cinnamon
    • Chicken buillon cubes
    • Beef buillon cubes
  • Dry goods
    • Brown rice
    • White rice
    • Pasta
    • Dry beans (I've yet to master cooking these, but I'm working on it.)
  • Breakfast items
    • Cereal
    • Nutrigrain bars
I've probably missed a few items, and as I think of them, I'll add them to my list. But that's all for now!
On a very exciting side note, I got my $5.00 rebate check in the mail on Friday from my Glade candle purchase!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Instilling Qualities in My Children

Good parenting doesn't happen by accident. I haven't even been a parent for a year yet (although, almost!), and I know that parenting is hard work that requires a variety of skills and emotions, that should be guided through prayer and meditation on God's Word.

I realize that there is no way I can completely prepare myself for what lies ahead in my journey as a parent. However, I also realize that I should prepare myself as much as I possible in order to equip Ella with the qualities, skills, and experiences she needs to live a successful life: both spiritually and physically.

I often think about the type of person I hope Ella will grow up to be. There are many qualities I want her to exhibit, as well as qualities I hope she doesn't possess. I think one of the main keys in instilling these qualities in her is to first identify these qualities. After I've identified these qualities, I must then examine myself. If I don't exhibit these qualities, how can I expect her to exhibit them? Finally, I'll have to figure out ways to teach her about these qualities - sometimes this will be an easy task, and sometimes I know it will be difficult!

Over the next few months, I plan to blog about some of the different qualities I want to instill in Ella. I already have a few of these qualities in my mind, but I know as I contemplate this longer I'll think of even more qualities. I know that by truly considering these qualities I'll be growing personally, as well as preparing myself to be a better parent to Ella.

What qualities do you hope to instill in your children?

A New Header and Some Cool Sites

I've been wanting to figure out how to make a header for my blog for a while, and I finally got the inspiration after coming across this site which has tons of really cool fonts you can download. I used one of the fonts, Milk and Cereal, as the font in my header. I made my header in GIMP, which is a free photo editing program that is similar to photoshop (at least from what I've read, I've never used photoshop). I've been enjoying learning to use GIMP to make my photos even better. Eventually I'll get more creative with my header - right now though I'm just proud I figured out how to do it in the first place!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Need for Tranquility

You might think that the title of this post seems a bit odd for someone who is the mother of an eleven-month-old, but hear me out. Recently I started reading You're Singing My Song by Glenn and Cindy Colley, a Bible-based book dealing with marriage. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I've really been enlightened by some of the things I've read up to this point. Some things I've read have really made me think about how perhaps I've allowed myself to grow into some bad practices - some that I really ought to grow out of.

I'm not even sure how to properly characterize this particular practice I want to eliminate, but I know what word accurately describes the desired end result: tranquility. One of the first chapters in the book deals with the idea that a wife should have a meek (gentle) and quiet spirit from this passage in 1 Peter 3:1-4:
"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chase conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."
My life can (and does) become so overwhelming and stressful at times, but much of that is because I allow it to become that way. I want my life to be still, peaceful - tranquil and free from unnecessary stress. I want to help make our home a place of comfort, safety, coziness, and security - a refuge from the world. However, if my spirit isn't gentle and quiet, our home cannot properly exhibit those qualities.

For me personally, one of the greatest barriers to me exhibiting a quiet spirit is time management (or perhaps discipline might be another way to put it). I must learn to properly allot my time. I have caused much stress on myself, as well as my husband, because I don't appropriately allot my time. I don't mean that I need to schedule every minute of my day. Rather, I need to realize what things I need to spend my time doing and what things I don't need to spend my time doing. For those things that I deem necessary to spend time doing, I need to figure out how much time I really should be spending on them. Some things I ought to spend more time doing, and some things I ought to spend less time doing.

I hope that I can transform into a person that doesn't bring unnecessary stress into the home. I hope that as a wife and mother I can provide my family with comfort and security - tranquility - by properly fulfilling my role as the keeper of the home.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No . . . .No . . . No . . NO!

These days the word "no" seems to be the most frequent word in my vocabulary. Ella is exploring everything, which is wonderful and annoying at the same time. I love watching her learn, watching her experience things for the first time, and watching her interacting with the world around her. However, her inquiry has to be carefully monitored; after all, part of the reason she is so fun to watch is because she really doesn't know much at all about the world around her. Ella doesn't know about gravity, or electricity, or choking, or sharp edges. All she knows is that object over there sure does look interesting. As she's exploring, I'm constantly telling her "no" to help guide her exploration. Although she doesn't understand the concept of safety yet, I'm trying to teach her by guiding her away from dangerous things with my words. I'm trying to gain patience in this process. After the tenth time I've said "no" for her touching the same thing, I can feel my patience slipping away. I must remain strong!

It was a beautiful day today, so I was brave and let Ella crawl around in the backyard. She had so much fun playing in her new environment. My patience was certainly tested as she played. There were leaves, sticks (which amazingly resembled straws), rocks, shells, and all sorts of other things to "play" with (aka, put in her mouth). I'll let the sequence of photos below speak for themselves. If you'd like to see other shots from today, be sure to check out my Project 365 blog.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Best Face Photo at I Heart Faces

I Heart Faces turns one this week . . . Happy Birthday! In honor of their birthday, the contest this week is "Best Face Photo." I might be slightly biased, but I think my little one has the best face. :) Be sure to check out all the great faces at the I Heart Faces challenge this week.

Check out other photos I took today here.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I love shopping online. I also love saving money. What could be better than shopping online and saving money? Here's where Ebates comes in. My mom and sister had been telling me about Ebates for a while, but I kept forgetting to check it out. I finally made my way over to the site before I purchased Ella's convertible car seat, and I'm glad I did.

Ebates is associated with tons of online stores. Before purchasing an item, you sign into your Ebates account, and shop in the store through Ebates. When you purchase an item, you'll get a certain percentage cash back (percentages vary by store). Ebates sometimes also has special coupons for stores. You get paid by check or Paypal 4 times a year. You can also choose to donate your cash back to a charity.

I got $8.00 cash back when I purchased Ella's convertible car seat . . . not bad if you ask me!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

She's growing too fast!

Today should be Ella's last day in her infant car seat. Her convertible car seat should be arriving tomorrow. In the top shot, Ella is two days old, on the way home from the hospital. In the bottom shot (taken today), Ella is a little over 11 months old. It is truly amazing how much she has grown in 11 months!

In the beginning of October, when Ella was 8 months old, I took Ella's picture in a rocking chair. At the end of December, when Ella was almost 11 months old, I took Ella's picture in the same rocking chair. I'm amazed at how much stability and balance Ella has gained in the past three months!

Less than an month before she turns one year old! Where did the time go?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Food Inventory List

One of the many things I plan to do this year is to keep an inventory of the items I have in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. This inventory will serve at least two main purposes: first, it will allow me to always know what I have on hand, and second, it will help me in my effort to stockpile.

Sadly, many times I don't have a good grasp on the groceries I have on hand. We have a decent sized pantry, but the pantry is difficult to see in, and items easily get lost in there. To top it off, I really haven't taken the time lately to properly organize it, so it is even harder to locate the items. Although I plan to complete a pantry reorganization during this inventory process, the inventory list will still be helpful because it is difficult to quickly assess what is in the pantry because of how it is built. I also have a difficult time easily assessing what is in my freezer, so the inventory list will certainly help keep up with what I have. It is easy to see everything in my fridge, but I'm still going to include those items on my inventory (although, I feel like it is less important to keep an inventory for these items because I replace them often since they usually don't last for a long time). Knowing what food I have available will not only be useful in meal planning, but also in preventing headaches when I start making something only to realize I'm missing a key ingredient!

The second purpose of my food inventory list is to use that information to help me stockpile. This purpose is really what prompted me to want to complete an inventory in the first place. What do I mean by stockpiling? When I talk about stockpiling, I'm talking about purchasing multiples of items I commonly use when they are at a low price, I have a coupon for them, or, ideally, they are at a low price AND I have a coupon for them. Before I really started paying attention to how I grocery shopped, I naively assumed that the prices on most items remained relatively the same from week to week. I was very wrong in my assumption. One week a box of cereal might be $4.00, and the next week it might be $2.50. Rather than buying a new box each week, if I buy multiple boxes the week the cereal is at the lower price, I save money in the end. My food inventory list will help me focus on the items that we use most often, and therefore identify those items that would be good targets for stockpiling. (I first read about stockpiling through Coupon Mom. Tons of great information on that site!)

I plan to keep my inventory list on the fridge, so that I can easily update it as I use or restock items. Once I get my inventory list together, I'll be sure to post it.

One Resolution

I'm only making one resolution this year: to gain discipline in my life.

Discipline to . . .
  • . . .always put God first, family second, and self third.
  • . . .spend more time on the important things, and less time on things that aren't so important.
  • . . .always read my Bible daily.
  • . . .meditate on God's Word daily. (And yes, this is different from the previous one.)
  • . . .have patience with the little stuff that I sometimes let drive me crazy.
  • . . .become a healthy person. (Sadly, I miserably failed at my previous challenge.)
  • . . .organize and keep my house in a presentable manner.
  • . . .start stockpiling on groceries and other household items (in an effort to save money AND be prepared).
  • . . .plan my meals in advance.
  • . . .finish the things I've started. (especially my thesis!)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Project 365

If you haven't noticed yet, I really enjoy photography. I'm not very good, and I still have tons to learn, but I really do enjoy it. In this new year, I'm starting a new project: the photography Project 365. The goal of this project is to take a photo everyday for an entire year. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to grow in the realm of photography, as well as to document Ella's year in pictures. I'm documenting my project 365 at my new blog: http://clickin365.blogspot.com/. Be sure to check it out!