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Welcome to a piece of our sweet journey of life. This blog is about our family life-- my husband, my type 1 diabetic pre-schooler, my spunky toddler, and myself! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nesting and Baking: Week 36 (and a half)

Oh boy.  I'm not sure if nesting and baking can be intertwined, but I almost think they can.  I've caught myself a couple times now cleaning something and pausing mid-way through because I think of something else that needs to be cleaned and I start cleaning that thing instead of finishing my first project.  I'll call it CADD: Cleaning Attention Deficit Disorder.  The cure? I haven't found it yet. 

I can guarantee you that this past week, I have done WAY more baking than cleaning.

As a gestational diabetic, it has been very hard to avoid the sweets and treats that make up part of the holiday season.  Aaron and I did find my favorite Christmas candy: Snicker's Nutcrackers. Oh my goodness- these are SO good! I looked at the carbs and knew I could enjoy one as my evening snack. Since these are a specialty item, and because we are living in a marketing world, the nutcrackers are very small. It was a bit of a reality check to see how many carbs are in such a small piece of chocolate.  But I do retain self-control and limited myself to just one.  And what a wonderful one it was! 

Side note: I do urge you to buy holiday specific candy, if possible, because it is so much fresher than the original candy. 

After the candy disappeared over the course of a week, (one a day for 7 days), I decided I could hold off on buying anymore candy until after Noah is born.  I did request that any candy I receive for Christmas be the regular kind and not sugar-free. Sugar-free candy is still pretty carb-y because of the sugar alcohol in it.  I plan to avoid eating candy until Noah arrives-- but I do plan on taking any candy I receive with me to the hospital to enjoy after Noah is here.  :)

Due to my Pinterest addiction, I have come across many many wonderful dessert recipes. Combine the ample recipes with my LOVE of baking, and we end up with a semi-dangerous combination.  Normally, I don't think I'd really have the energy to do the amount of baking that I've done this past week.  However, my theory is that the energy I'm supposed to be using to clean my house (aka "nesting") somehow got crossed with the "baking" wire in my brain.  So I have an enormous amount of energy when it comes to baking stuff this week! 

I have been good and have packaged up most of the baked goods into single-serve portions that I have frozen so that I can have home-baked goods during my maternity leave when I probably really won't have the energy to do any baking since I'll be spending my time learning how to be a mommy to a toddler and a newborn. 

I also know that we will be spending lots of time with family this week, and it's my plan to bring some desserts with me each time we go to a family get-together. That way, I can use up this energy I have to bake, and I can give away the treats to family! 

This past week, I have made cake-mix cookie snickerdoodles, yellow cake mix cookies with peppermint Hershey kisses on top, Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownies (I don't normally make brownies from a box, but these were BOGO at Publix), tiny chocolate chip cookies, and Great Depression cupcakes. 

I plan to make some brownie truffles, peanut butter fudge, and brownie cheesecake bites for family this week. 

Okay, enough about baking.  Let's talk about pregnancy!

On Christmas Eve, I'll reach 37 weeks (full-term).  This week, I return to the doctor and get a pelvic exam to see if there's any effacing or dilation.  I'm not expecting any, but I certainly won't be disappointed if there is any progression. 

I put the baby monitor in place, and put the mattress pad and sheet on the cradle mattress.  I'm in the process of washing all of the tiniest baby clothes that we have.  I washed them before they were put away after Michael grew out of them, but that was over a year ago and I figured they could use another wash.  This is my time to nest after all. 

My hospital bag is essentially packed.  Here is what I have included: new pajamas (thanks, Mom!), nursing sleep bras, a few nursing pads, a towel (for Aaron so he won't have to use the tiny hospital ones), an outfit for Noah to have his picture taken in, a coming-home outfit for Noah, and a receiving blanket.  I will still need to pack my toiletries and make-up when I leaving the house on "labor day."

The car seat is installed. We are basically baby-ready!  Aaron says he is ready anytime.  I am ready, I think, although I do not mind at all if Noah stays in the womb for the remaining 3 weeks of the pregnancy-- he benefits from every day spent in the womb!  It seems like this pregnancy flew by until week 30-- and then it slowed down until week 36.  It is speeding up again to me and I can't believe that we're 3 weeks (or less) away from meeting little Noah!  I am so excited for this moment to be approaching.  Now that the car seat is installed, and the hospital bag is packed, and the baby cradle has sheets and the baby monitor is set up, I feel much more at ease.

Here is a photo of the cradle:


You can see the Angel Care monitor Nursery unit sitting in the cradle.  This will, of course, be next to the cradle when Noah arrives.  Also, you'll notice the "bear" cocoon and hat that my Aunt Mari made for Noah.  I will be taking some newborn shots of him in this sweet baby outfit.

Here is a picture of my hospital bag and the contents:



From let to right you'll see:

  • Orange towel for Aaron
  • New PJs for me
  • Eye masks (one for Aaron and one for me, because there's always that one light that you can't turn off)
  • Coming home outfit for Noah (a long sleeve sleeper with trucks on it)
  • A couple different baby hats for him,
  • Two receiving blankets (one has planes and stars on it, and the other has trucks and busses on it)
  • White jacket if he needs it
  • Outfit for hospital picture. (We missed out on this opportunity with Michael since he was in the Extended Care Nursery for his whole stay-- so I figured I'd bring the outfit Michael came home from the hospital in, and have Noah wear it for his pictures since it's too cold for it to be his coming home outfit)
Since I took that picture, I have added a few nursing tops for myself as well as my coming home outfit-- a purple maternity shirt and a pair of nice maternity jeans.  I'm on the hunt to find all of my sweat pants to bring with me to wear in the hospital. 


I appreciate all of the prayers as we head into the final days of this pregnancy.  Much love, Reba 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Favorites: Home Scents


It’s time for another round of Holiday Favorites.  This time it’s all about making your home smell festive and fun!

I have an array of candles, sprays, and gel air fresheners that I alternate among to keep my home smelling pleasant.  I’m anxious to try a simmering water technique with fresh cranberries, orange and lemon slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks, but I haven’t gotten around to that quite yet.  For now, here are my top choices for home scents around the holidays.  These scents work well in both the autumn and winter seasons.

 
Candles:
 

I have a love/hate relationship with candles.  I love to peruse the selection of candles in various stores.  However, I’m not a fan of the price tags!  The other day, Michael and I were shopping in Target and I found a candle that smelled amazing.  However, it was way too pricy for the size of the candle itself.  So, Michael and I went on the hunt to find a cheaper candle.  It doesn’t smell nearly as good, but it was one-third the price. J  The candles I am willing to splurge on are as follows:

Yankee Candle— Kitchen Spice:


 

 
Yankee Candle— Apple Cider:




 
These two scents are marvelous.  I know you might be thinking “Spend over $20 on a candle?!? No thank-you.”  And I was the same way—until I bought one.  The thing about Yankee Candles is that the scent fills the room where the candle is, and it meanders into nearby rooms.  Every time I light a Yankee Candle at my home, I receive compliments on it from any guest that drops in.  These candles also last a long time.  I have a Medium Size jar of both of the above-mentioned scents.  They have both lasted over 2 years.  It’s a worthwhile investment. 

You can find these candles at a Yankee Candle store, or on the Yankee Candle website.  I have also discovered that these candles are available on amazon.com (my favorite website).  Sometimes, you can even find them at Cracker Barrel in the Old Country Store. 

  

Air Fresheners:

Usually, I am not such a huge fan of air fresheners because they can come across too strong and present a chemically smell.  In addition, they can also be pricy.  However, recently I found a “Fall Collection” set at Costco for a fabulous price and I scooped it up.  It included three Febreze air fresheners.  I’m only discussing two here because I haven’t tried out the third scent, and I don’t want to write about something I do not know.  The two scents I have tried out are Apple Spice and Fluffy Vanilla. 

The first time I ever smelled the Febreze Apple Spice scent was in college.  My friends had this scent to spray in their dorm room.  I remember how wonderful it smelled and how it filled the space with its scent.  I really enjoy using this one. 

The Fluffy Vanilla is a good holiday scent.  It leaves a nice light fragrance in the air—almost a cross between freshly warmed towels from the dryer and cookies baking in the oven.   It’s a pleasant scent that I have used in my kitchen and in my living room. 

The smell of the Febreze air fresheners linger and they don’t overpower the room with the chemically smell left by some other brands of air fresheners. 


Apple Spice Febreze:


 
Fluffy Vanilla Febreze:


Gel Air Fresheners:
I like to use the gel air fresheners on shelves throughout my home to provide a light scent.  These scents don’t fill a whole room, but they are nice for areas that could use a little perfume-y bounce.  I am a fan of the Renuzit brand of gel air fresheners.  I mainly stick a little canister on the backs of the toilets, or on shelves in the living room, or on the kitchen counter near the garbage can.  I have tried several fragrances including Lavender Vanilla, and Apple Cinnamon.  My most recent favorite is Amber Vanilla.  At first, I wasn’t so sure I’d like it just because I don’t gravitate towards amber-scented items.  However, these smell fantastic!  I got a three-pack at Target and have placed them around the house.  When I load and unload my dishwasher, I smell the one sitting on the counter near the garbage can.  I’ve caught myself a few times wondering what smelled like a baking cake.  This scent is very nice and very appealing in a variety of settings.  I have one on the shelf in the guest bathroom, on a shelf in the living room, and on a counter in the kitchen. 
 
Renuzit Amber Vanilla:
I hope you’ve enjoyed my fragrance suggestions to get your home smelling festive this holiday season!
 
Much love, Reba
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

...But not this year...

It's the first week of December, and I don't have my Christmas decorations up yet.  Maybe by the time this post is published, my home will be somewhat decorated for the season.  However, I am coming to the realization that getting down every single Christmas decoration we have accumulated just will not happen this year.  Why not? you may ask.  The reason is, this year, I am consciously doing less. 

I read an absolutely fabulous blog post the other day. Click  here  for the link to that blog post.  I don't know the woman who wrote it.  I only know that she wrote exactly what I needed to read.  Every word of that blog post stuck with me.  It has resonated in my mind and I have vowed to myself to make this holiday season a simple one.  For my little boy.  For my baby to be.  For my husband.  For me. 

We see the phrase "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" posted around our churches, on ornaments, on decorative pins on the sweaters of women we pass in the grocery store, on Christmas cards, and maybe even on a festive tray or napkins at our own homes.  But oftentimes, we become consumed with keeping up with the Joneses and we really don't cling to the promise that Jesus is the reason for the season.  Our homes are decorated to the T.  We spend huge amounts of money to make our homes smell like Christmas, and look like a cover of Southern Living magazine.  We feel like we have to rush to buy the greatest Christmas gifts for our family members and friends so that we can dust off our shoulders and feel the pride that comes when they open the gift we've bought for them.  This mad rush and the frantic feelings that come with it are all centered around one thing:  Stuff.  Stuff we don't need.  Stuff we probably can't really comfortably afford.  Stuff that will sit in the attic for 11 months out of the year.  Stuff that will look pretty on the outside, but will eat away at our insides because we were miserable all the while as we raced around trying to fulfill our own fantasies about what Christmas should be like for us. 

I don't want to be that person again. 

I want to enjoy my life as a wife and mother.  I want to embrace each day of this season with the mindset that it's not about me, or gifts, or decorations, or traditions.  It's about Jesus.  And I can be honoring to Him by truly focusing on His promises and His presence. 

Part of this means that I will be saying "no" to myself. 

Oh, I'm an excellent Pinner on Pinterest.  I can Pin with the best of them.  I have found so many cute ideas for my little Petersens to do as children.  This list includes drinking "Grinch Punch" while watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, making googly-eye ornaments, and painting thumb-print snowmen and Christmas lights.  It includes baking the rolled-out sugar cookies that my mom would bake at Christmastime when I was growing up.  It includes going on a Christmas light scavenger hunt.  Maybe starting the Elf on the Shelf routine.  It includes my kiddles unwrapping a "Christmas Eve box" filled with Christmas PJs, a Christmas movie, microwave popcorn bags, hot chocolate mix, and snacks to enjoy as a family snuggled up on the couch on Christmas Eve night.  It includes so many sweet, cute things that make the holiday time extra special.  But it's not for this year. 

This year, Michael will be nearly 16 months old on Christmas day.  He doesn't sit still long enough to make it through a movie.  His drinks of choice go from water to milk to apple juice-- so he won't very much care if he doesn't get to drink Grinch Punch this year.  He is just now learning to color (and by that, I mean making lots of polka dots and scribbles on paper), so he won't be coordinated enough to make a googly-eye ornament, or a thumb-print picture of snowmen and Christmas lights.  Although he has my sweet tooth (which around this time of year, at least in my situation, becomes as large as the North Pole itself), we probably won't make our own batch of Christmas cookies.  Funny how gestational diabetes makes you look for alternative festive foods besides cookies and milk.  And, I do know that my mom will be baking these cookies, and Michael can certainly have part of one while at her house.  We have no Elf on the Shelf this year.  We might possibly drive around and look at Christmas lights if we feel like we have the time and desire.  I bought Michael a set of Christmas-y PJs at a consignment sale back in September, but we won't be unwrapping a Christmas Eve box this year. 

My Pinterest list is great.  But not for this year.  This year, we will just be.  We will be happy at home spending time with each other.  Michael and I have spent most afternoons this week playing with toys with a Christmas movie on in the background.  He runs over to me and asks to be held, and we sit on the couch and watch the movie for a few minutes seconds until he scoots off the couch and resumes his Energizer bunny mentality.  And all in all, it has been great.  It has been simple, and I am savoring every moment of it. 

This weekend, Aaron and I will put up some of our Christmas decorations-- not everything, but some things.  We'll put up the tree and decorate it with the toddler friendly ornaments we have.  We'll set our Jesse tree on the dining room table and have our devotional in the mornings or at suppertime.  We'll hang Michael's stocking on the mantle and resting on the mantle will be the Nativity set. 

At the moment, these are our holiday decorations currently on display:

-On our front door hangs what Target calls "swag."  I thought it was different and pretty, and might hold up better this year than my homemade Ornament wreath which has seens its better days. 



On display on my vanity right now is Priscilla the Expectant Mother-- part of the Fontanini Nativity Set.  I got Priscilla for my birthday and she's been in my room since then.  She will join the other Nativity figurines once they are brought down from the attic and placed on the mantle. 



And finally, on my fingernails is this bright red finger nail polish.  Although it's somewhat "chippy" (I've had to recoat my nails several times this week), it is just the right hue of red to add a festive flair to my outfits. 
 

I sometimes light a Pumpkin Cheesecake scented candle in the kitchen in the afternoons when I get home.  It offers a festive aroma without tempting calories and carbs of a real dessert!  So, at least I know that if Michael and I aren't baking Christmas cookies together this year, at least our home can smell like we're baking. 

I extend our invitation to you.  To just do less this year and spend more time focusing on the true Reason for the Season and enjoying the family and friends around you. 

My prayer is that we all grow a little closer to our families and our friends as we delve into another season that can be overshadowed by material things.  I pray that we all find the time to embrace the peace that this season can offer if we let it.  I pray that our homes be filled with warmth as we truly enjoy the company around us.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  It doesn't have to be expensive.  We can simply just be.

Much love, Reba

*P.S.-- Last night, Aaron got down our decorations from the attic.  The nativity is now set up on the mantle.  Michael's stocking hangs from the mantle.  Our Jesse tree ornaments are sitting on the dining room table waiting for the Jesse tree to make it's appearance once we find it (in the attic I hope).  This afternoon, I'll assemble our tree and plug in the lights and Aaron & I will decorate it after Michael goes to bed.  See?  Simple things can be enough.  :)  I'm feeling more peaceful and relaxed already. 




Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving Recap & Pregnancy Update

Thanksgiving was super fun!  It is totally my favorite holiday and even with the diet restrictions of gestational diabetes, I still fully enjoyed myself and loved every minute of the day.

On Wednesday, I had an OB appointment.  I was 33 weeks along, and Noah was the size of a Durian fruit!  I'm pretty sure he has turned to be head-down in the womb.  At the appointment, everything went well.  This time, I had the Strep B test done-- totally not fun.  I am so glad to get that out of the way!  The doctor was pleased with my blood sugar numbers.  I go back for another appointment in a week. 

On Thanksgiving day, Michael and I woke up around 8:00.  I set the TV to record the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade so that when Aaron woke up we'd be able to watch it together.  Michael and I played with toys, and he ate breakfast while I enjoyed a cup of decaf coffee. 

When Aaron got up, we watched the parade and Michael was even interested in some parts of it--mainly the singing that went on by the Broadway groups.  He took a good morning nap and Aaron and I enjoyed our breakfast together-- my fabulous husband made a low carb breakfast that didn't skimp on taste in the least! :) 

We assembled our Thanksgiving dishes (green bean casserole and rolls) and headed to the neighborhood to Aaron's mom's home around 1:30.  Once there, Michael played and I followed him around the house until the dinner was ready.  Michael was dressed to the nines in a festive bib I got for him on sale at Hobby Lobby.  It was a white bib with a turkey on it, and it said "Gobble Gobble."  Michael isn't really a bib wearer, but I figured it wouldn't hurt for a day and I really wanted him to have something festive to wear!  I served him a nice variety of food on his Thanksgiving plate from his Aunt Bethany, and I served myself a plate of some indulgences (a small portion of stuffing and green bean casserole) and low-carb items (super tasty!). 

I was busy feeding him from his special plate, but that only lasted about 10 bites until he was frustrated and just wanted to feed himself!  So I put his plate on his high-chair tray and he went to town!  He played with his mashed potatoes, and ate a good portion of the food on his plate (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, and turkey).  Sure, he made a mess, but I didn't mind at all.  He was learning and having fun in the process.  I brought a change of clothes for him and with a few wipes of his face and the high chair tray, he was as good as new!  And the dogs got a nice little Thanksgiving bonus from the crumbs Michael dropped all around his chair.  :) 



Doesn't he look like he's having a blast?!?  His face totally lit up when I handed him his own plate. :) 

Afterwards, after a break from all of the food, Aaron and I played a quick game of Skip-Bo while Michael entertained the rest of the family with his jibber jabbers and walking around with his blankie on his head (he was quite proud of himself, by the way.) :)

We had a great selection of pies to choose from.  I enjoyed a serving of crustless pumpkin pie made with Splenda.  It was fantastic!  I really enjoyed the conversation and relaxation that our Thanksgiving brought.  It is SUCH a blessing to be able to spend the holiday with family.  To be in a place where you are loved and your children are loved is truly something special.  There's an extra dose of relaxation that comes with that because I knew that it was ok if my son made a mess at the table.  It was ok if he ran off his energy afterwards.  My husband and I got to enjoy some quality time and friendly competition in our card game.  We ate our pie in the dining room and were joined by our moms.  Talking with them and sharing stories was such fun!  And did I mention it was cold?!?  That always makes it feel more like a holiday to me!  The day really couldn't have been any better and I am very blessed.

My younger brother came home with us and spent the night so that he could play video games with Aaron and go hunting the next morning.  Michael and I woke up when they did and spent the day at my mom's house watching Christmas movies until the boys came home around lunchtime.  Then, Aaron, Michael, and I went home to enjoy some family time.  That evening, we took Michael and Akuna back to my mom and dad's house to spend the night so that Aaron and I could go on a date!  We went out to eat and afterwards bought a car-seat/booster seat for Michael that could go in Aaron's car.  We came home and watched a movie together and slept in the next morning!  That was such a fun night and we're very thankful to my parents for giving us that opportunity.

On Saturday, we hosted my parents and younger brother for the Iron Bowl.  We made an array of snacks to enjoy during the game.  Michael thoroughly enjoyed cheese cubes, some ham, and sausage balls. :)  It was another great day and made me even more appreciative of the time we get to spend with family.

I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was as wonderful as ours.  We look forward to Christmas and the time we get to spend with family.  Shortly thereafter, Noah will arrive and we are very anxious to meet our little man.  :) 

Much love, Reba