Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you have a wonderful day with your family and friends celebrating the resurrection of Jesus!


Peanut Butter Egg Fail

Some of you that have been reading awhile know I have had a Pinterest fail in the past and I am here to report Pinterest Fail #2.  
Kevin loves Reese's peanut butter cups and I found a recipe on Pinterest for chocolate peanut butter eggs.  I decided I wanted needed to make these.  I ran to the store after MOPS and grabbed the needed items, which aren't many (one of the reasons I wanted to try this recipe).  I followed the recipe correctly, but I made my eggs a little large.  Okay, more than a little large, they're huge and they don't look like cute, little eggs.  They look like 'fossilized dinosaur eggs' according to Kevin.  They look a bit ridiculous, but the silver lining is that Kevin and I agree they are better than Reese's peanut butter cups. Kevin says 'they're only better because there's more peanut butter'.  That still counts, right?   
I hope you try this recipe because it's good, but I hope your eggs turn out a bit better than mine.  Instead of 15 eggs there should have been 30-35 smaller eggs.  Mistake #1.  I also didn't find a good way to dip the eggs in the chocolate.  I tried a spoon, two spoons, grilling tongs, and toothpicks...yep, toothpicks.  None of those options worked too well.  The spoon probably worked the best, but still not good.  That's why they look like 'fossilized dinosaur eggs'.  Mistake #2.  If you try this recipe for Easter, let me know how your eggs turn out and how you did it.  At least this Pinterest fail ended with yummy peanut buttery chocolatey goodness.

the aftermath

Peanut Butter Eggs

2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups of peanut butter
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 pound 4 ounces of melting chocolate

1.  Mix the first three ingredients together.  
2.  Shape the eggs into 30-35 eggs.  Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
3.  Melt the chocolate and dip the eggs until covered (with a spoon, spoons, tongs, toothpicks, whatever).  

You can print this recipe here.

fossilized dinosaur eggs

Pinterest Love

I love Pinterest.  I especially loved it when Kevin and I were remodeling.  It was a perfect place for me to collect and keep all my ideas and choices for the kitchen/living room space.  Now that our remodel is done, I still use Pinterest all the time (that might be an understatement).  I love pinning recipes, DIY projects, learning activities for Luke, workout routines, photography tips, and decorating ideas.  I believe it's a great resource and it's super fun (and addictive).  I decided to start sharing my favorite pins that I have used or want to use in the future.  It will be my fun little Friday activity.  
You might have noticed that there is a big Pinterest 'P' in the upper right hand corner of my pictures now.  If you click on any of my pictures, you can now pin them on Pinterest!  This will work great for most of my posts.  As for my favorite pins of the week, you will need to click on the caption to go to the original site where the pin was found.  Does that make sense?
Since Sunday is Easter, my first Pinterest post will be all about this upcoming holiday.  I hope some of them are useful to you!  Please share in the comment section if you had any 'diamond in the rough' finds this week!  

click here to pin this...i will definitely use this dying technique when luke gets older!

how cute would this picture be?!  you can pin this from my page

click here to pin...you will find free easter printables here!

click here to pin...this is a great site with lots of ideas

click here to pin...absolutely love this idea to help little ones understand the resurrection of Jesus!


4 month activities with Luke

4 whole months of Luke.  He has been so fun this month and is doing more and more everyday.  We have been working on his head and neck strength, his language exposure, and we are continuing to help him explore the world with books and sensory stimulation.  Our 'basket of fun' has stayed pretty much the same since last month, except we have changed out a few books and added some finger puppets.  These are the 4 month 'activities' we did this month, compiled from various websites and books.

  • Luke and I are constantly having a 'conversation' about something.  Some of our favorite topics are light fixtures, changing his diaper, and what I'm eating.  Exciting, huh?  I know I've said it before, but talking to Luke is one of the best ways I can aid his language exposure.  Did you know that early speech and language skills are associated with developing reading, writing, and interpersonal skills both in early childhood and later in life?   
  • I read Luke at least two books after he eats while his tummy is getting settled.  He then listens to two books before his naps and a book before bed.  Even though he may not be completely interested or involved during book time, he is still getting exposed to language, books, and rhyming.  So important! 
  • Luke is now starting to play a little in his Jumperoo.  I have forbid batteries to go in that thing, but he still loves looking at his 'friends', especially the lion.  This is his alone playtime.  I let him play while I clean up, make breakfast, lunch, etc.  I'm hoping this will help him learn some independence.

  • I made some sensory bottles and tickle sticks awhile back that you can find here.  I use the tickle sticks to tickle his nose, ears, hands, cheeks, chin, etc. while saying a little rhyme as I go.  He seems to enjoy this, as his arms flap the entire time.  When using the sensory bottle, I just hold it up and talk to him about it.  He is getting more interested in these and the bubbles they create.
  • The newest and most fun thing to do with Luke right now is finger puppets!  He loves finger plays and finger puppets.  I do Itsy Bitsy Spider, Five Little Piggies, and Kevin and I also use some finger puppets my mom gave us to make animal noises.  Something about moving my fingers and hands he absolutely loves.  Finger puppets are great for his visual stimulation, along with interacting with others.
  • Luke has started to roll from his back to his belly.  It is so darn exciting, but it also means our little baby is growing up.  Kevin and I try and give him ample room to move, so he can practice rolling back to his back once he's on his belly.  I still do tummy time with him, but it's sometimes pointless when he just moves to his back right away.  His back, neck, and head are getting so strong.
  • Luke loves the sound of Kevin or I's voice.  We both try to sing to him as much as possible, trying to develop his language.  He likes 'You Are My Sunshine', 'Bushel and a Peck', 'He's Got the Whole World in His Hands', and 'Five Little Monkeys', 'Twinkle, Twinkle', and 'Jesus Loves me'.
  • Luke is reaching for everything these days, so I have tried to expose him to different textures and temperatures: warm, cold, soft, bumpy, smooth, etc.  I do this with my smoothie in the morning or running warm water on his hands.  I use his blankets, books, the rug, and other items for him to explore texture.
  • Kevin plays peek-a-boo with him a lot and this helps him develop object permanence (the understanding that objects exist even when they can't be seen).
  • Luke loves mirrors.  We put a mirror on his gym, so he can see himself when he is playing.  Babies love faces, especially Mom's, Dad's, and their own.  He loves talking to 'the baby in the mirror'.  



Safety First: Putting in a railing

Luke is getting bigger and bigger everyday.  It is hard to believe he will be 5 months old next week.  I know crawling is still a few months off, but Kevin and I thought we should be prepared for when Luke is following us everywhere.  So...we started figuring out the logistics of putting in a railing by the stairs.  There once was a railing in that spot, but Kevin's parents took it out when their kids were raised and gone.  I completely understand why they did it; it opened up the space a lot.  But, now that there is a baby in the house, it's time for a railing to go back up.  
It really was a simple process, especially after going through a big renovation last year.  I knew what I wanted, because I wanted it to match the rest of the house.  I wanted a wood/wrought iron look.  I found a few railings online that I liked and then I called a local contractor and he gave me the information for a guy (Chad) that installs railings.  I contacted Chad and he came and measured the space and asked me to pick out a few things that would need to be ordered.  Kevin and I needed to pick out: a newell post (the big wooden thing that would stand at the top of the stairs), balusters (the posts), boots (the pieces on the bottom of the posts), and the kind of wood.  This was pretty simple and he came back and quoted us a price.  After a few weeks, Chad came and installed the railing in about a day and a half.  The painter, Steve, came and did some mudding and sanding.  I even helped by sanding and painting the parts that were mudded.  After the initial shock of that space not being wide open, I think it looks like it's always been there.  Chad and Steve did a great job and now we will be prepared for when our little guy is moving.  Now we just need to find a baby gate that will work at the top of the stairs.  Any ideas?

the newell post going in



Poppyseed Bread

There is nothing like fresh bread from the oven, especially when it's filled with almondy, poppyseed goodness.  This bread is fantastic.  I've made it a few times and I never regret it (until I've eaten the whole loaf).  I usually have most of the ingredients on hand, except the almond extract and orange juice, but Kevin made a special trip to pick up those for me.  He's sweet, like this bread.  I hope you give this recipe a try.

I found the original recipe here.  It is from The Girl Who Ate Everything blog.  If you haven't checked this blog out, it's great.

Poppyseed Bread

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/8 cups oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 T poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp melted butter (can use butter extract)

1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp melted butter (can use butter extract)

What you do:
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 2 bread pans.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Pour batter into pans.  Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes.  

my helper...he tried not to get any drool in the pans

2.  Pour all ingredients for glaze into sauce pan.  Heat until sugar dissolves.  Pour onto bread after removing them from pans.  Enjoy!

the glaze makes this bread...don't skip it
You can find the printable recipe here.


Amelia's 1st Birthday

Luke had his first 'friend' birthday party on Saturday.  We celebrated Amelia's 1st birthday in Atlantic, Iowa with her family and friends.  It was an extra special Minnie Mouse themed party, complete with hot dogs (yum!), a smash cake, balloons, presents, and even some swimming!  After lunch, Amelia got her first taste of her chocolate smash cake and then it was on to presents.  Luke slept through most of this fun stuff and, unfortunately, our camera was in the room he was sleeping.  I missed some priceless pictures, but did get some shots of the swimming.  Happy Birthday Amelia...Luke can't wait until he is more mobile and can chase you around!

1st time swimming

enjoying the party

two daddies and their kiddos...that's the birthday girl

love this face!

daddy and luke in the water



This past week we were lucky enough to have some visitors on the Trail.  Kevin's sister, Hillary, was in town for a girl's weekend and we were able to have dinner with her Thursday evening.  She is such a wonderful aunt to Luke and we are so very happy that she and her husband John will be parents at the end of this summer.(She looks incredible, by the way, as you can see.)  Plus, it means Luke gets to be a big cousin, yay!
My good friend, Annie, also visited this past week.  Kevin and I met her and her husband Drew through a group at church and they have been such a blessing in our life.  Annie came out, with Starbucks in hand for both of us, and we got the chance to catch up and just have some girl time.  She is such an amazing, strong woman, and it was wonderful to spend the afternoon with her.
Both Hillary and Annie got the chance to hang with Mr. Luke and I caught some pictures of these moments.  (P.S. Thanks Annie for letting Luke use you and your clothes for his burp rag!)


Happy Spring

Horray for spring!  Although it looks springlike outside, the temps are just not there, yet.  Hopefully there will be some warmer weather ahead and Luke and I can zip around outside.  I can't wait to teach this kid how to pull weeds...


"i protest."


Cork love

I have been hoarding storing corks we have collected over the years in big plastic Ziploc bags that have traveled with us from our old house, to our apartment, and now to the Trail.  I love corks because they remind me of a place, a time, an anniversary, a party, or a friend.  I decided I finally needed to do something with these corks.  I did make a 'cork line' a while back you can see here, but that just didn't use too many of our coveted corks.  I saw a cork runner for a table on Pinterest and decided that would be my next 'nap' project.  All I needed was my corks, a glue gun, glue, and some felt.  I cut my felt to the size I wanted, positioned my corks the way I wanted, and then started gluing.  Now, as easy as that sounds, and it was easy, it was not a quick project.  Laying out the corks was the most time consuming part.  I wanted to make sure I had them how I wanted them before I started gluing anything.  After I had all the corks glued, I decided I didn't like it as a runner.  So, I glued some cardboard on the back and hung it as a cork board in my newly arranged craft room/office space in the basement.  I'm quite fond of it.  

Supplies needed: corks, hot glue gun, glue sticks, felt, cardboard

1.  Cut felt to desired shape.  
2.  Arrange corks on felt.
3.  Glue corks on felt. 
4.  Glue cut cardboard on felt.
5.  Hang with a few nails.
6.  Tadaaaa...place some pictures on your functional cork board!

horray for using up those corks!

my newly arranged office/craft area


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Grandma Kathy got Luke some St. Patty's Day duds to sport today.  We took some pictures yesterday and today and, as you can see, Luke isn't sure about being Irish...

luke had to have a pacifier for these pics, it wasn't one of his happier times...

no frown...yay!!



A few posts ago I wrote about my Mommy dilemma with Luke.  His sleeping was a little out of control and I was just a tad bit frustrated...and tired.  Everything looked gloomy about a week ago, but I wanted to let you know that we are coming out of the fog and into a much brighter, happier, more rested time in Luke's little life.  The day after a really, really sleepless night, Kevin and I had a sit-down.  We debated and debated what to do to help our little guy sleep.  I had read wayyy too much about the subject and I needed Kevin to ground me a little and bring me into our reality.  After discussing our possibilities, we decided to continue with an earlier bedtime (7:30), feed 1-2 times at night if needed, and let him 'cry it out' if we knew he wasn't hungry, and, this was the big one, no pacifier at night.  We had a plan.  I can't tell you how much better I felt after talking with Kevin and having a plan.  Okay, now to implement.  

Night 1-3: Luke went down around 7:30.  He woke up at 4:30, I fed him and he slept until 7.  Minimal crying.
Night 4-10: Luke went down around 7:30.  He woke up between 6:30-7:30.  NO NIGHT FEEDINGS AND NO CRYING!!

Now, it seems that our plan worked.  I would like to pat Kevin and I on the back and say 'good job, we figured it out'.  But, I know it's not quite that simple.  You see, we had both been praying hard, really hard, for some sleep and guidance.  Our journey group was praying for us, as well as our families.  God heard all of us and He helped Kevin and I make the right decisions for Luke.  God is good...all the time! 
Now that you know our good news, I wanted to also share the tentative schedules Luke followed at 2-3 months and how it has changed.  I'm pretty sure I should have changed it a long time ago.  

2-3 month schedule
Wake between 6:45-7:30 a.m.
Nap around 8:30-11:15
Nap around 12:30-3:30
Nap around 5:00-7:30
Bedtime routine and bed around 9:00-9:15
Feeding anywhere from 1:00 to 4:00
Crying anywhere from 3:30 to 6:30 after being fed, pacifier replaced 3-10 times

4 month schedule
Wake between 6:30-7:30 a.m.
Nap around 9:00-10:45
Nap around 12:30-2:30
Nap around 4:45-5:30
Bedtime routine and bed around 7:30

I don't know if Luke will continue to sleep through the night all the time or not.  I would really love to think so, but time will tell.  I do know that God answered our prayers in His time.  I think He was trying to teach me a little patience.  And as the fog lifts and the sun shines, I think He succeeded. 

i know a sleeping picture would be appropriate for this post, but that is not happening


Book Review #2: Brain Rules for Baby

This brain book was interesting with a little tad of 'huh'? The author, John Medina, discusses how to raise a happy and healthy baby by presenting research on how both nurture and nature can affect little ones in the book Brain Rules for Baby. If I'm being honest, I absolutely loved much of the book and many of his points, but sometimes he lost me. When he was talking about how mirror neurons have an impact on empathy, I sort of tuned out. I tend to focus on things that I can have an impact on, rather than how my child is already wired. Don't get me wrong, I know I need to understand that as well, it's just not as interesting to me. But, I am sure there are plenty science loving Moms and Dads out there that would definitely appreciate those chapters.

Because I learn through quick, concise notes, I am going to bullet point my take-always from this book. I'm sure I missed a whole bunch of amazing stuff, but will hopefully find the time to reread someday.  I definitely think this is a great read for soon-to-be-parents along with parents of small children.

  • The four things that help a baby's brain:
  1. Breastfeeding. Medina suggests that moms breastfeed for a year, and longer, if possible.  I am blessed to be able to do this, but I know so many women who aren't able to breastfeed.  Formula has come a long way and I know Mommas who formula feed have and will continue to raise happy and smart babes.
  2. Talking to your baby.  I love to talk to Luke and Luke has gotten pretty good at talking back.
  3. Playing! Yay, this is super easy and fun!
  4. Praising effort instead of intelligence. As a teacher, I did this all the time, but as I was practicing this around Luke, I found it a bit challenging. "Luke, you are working so hard at being cute!" "Luke, you are using so much effort to grab that ring!" "Luke, I can see you are trying so hard to sleep well!" You get my point, but really, truly, this does take some effort and thoughtfulness.
  • One way to help your kiddo be happy and smart concerns Mom and Dad's relationship.  That includes reconciling regularly, balancing the workload at home, and using the empathy reflex.  Empathy is not the easiest thing to portray to your partner when you have a crying child at two in the morning, but studies show it works.  Medina also recommends reconciling in front of your children.
  • Making friends and keeping them is the single best way to predict happiness in children and adults. Medina urges parents to help their children make friends. It's officially on my to-do list!
  • Medina suggests helping your child be empathetic.  If making friends is the single best way to predict a happy child, empathy is the single best way to predict having friends.  We all know that people who display empathy are the best friends.  One way to practice this is to turning to empathy when your child (or anyone) is faced with a strong emotion.  Describing the emotion you see and then making a guess as to where it came from is a good way to practice empathy.  For example, "Luke, you look mad.  You sound mad.  Is it because I'm changing your diaper?"  Obviously, it is a little bit harder with a baby, but you get the gist.
  • Verbalizing your feelings or emotions is a way to model this behavior for children.  Children being able to verbalize their feelings will help with their self-regulation, and temper tantrums, and puberty, and discussions on dating, parties, etc., etc., etc.
  • Did you know people who make around $50,000 are the happiest?  Me either.  Medina suggests guiding your child to a $50,000 career ($50,000 in 2010 dollars).
  • When it comes to raising a moral child, rules are imperative.  Rules should be clear and delivered in a consistent and warm environment.  When the child follows the rule offer praise and also offer praise in the absence of a behavior.  Offering the rationale behind the rule also helps the child generalize the rule to other situations.  Makes sense, sure.  But, I have used this with my first graders and it doesn't always work.
  • When a rule is broken, punishment should be firm, immediate, reliable, and safe.  Sounds easy enough...
Medina wraps up the book by saying there is not a one-size-fits-all plan for raising kids.  I couldn't agree more.  All children are different and understanding your child is the best way to help them be happy and smart.  There it is, my take-aways from this book.  There was an extra special part at the back that was probably my favorite.  It included Medina's practical tips.  When I go back to reread, I will probably reread those.
You can find Brain Rules for Baby on Amazon for around $8 here.  
Now on to my next reading adventure.  I'm debating Nutureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman or Love and Logic for Early Childhood by Jim and Charles Fay.  Any suggestions?


4 months of Luke

Our little Luke is 4 months old already.  I'm pretty sure he has lost all his newborn features and is starting to look like a big boy.  It's crazy to think that we will look back someday and think he is so little, when in fact right now he seems so big!  Kevin and I took his 4 month pictures yesterday and, unfortunately, we only got one little kind of smile.  He usually is a smiling fool, but once that camera came out, he was just trying to figure out what it was (even though it's out all the time).  Below you will find all the things Luke is doing these days and the pics from yesterday:

  • Luke jabbers and talks away during play time.  Kevin and I coo back at him and he just loves carrying on a conversation with us.
  • Luke can roll from his tummy to his back by moving his head to one side and letting it carry him over.
  • Luke takes one bottle from Dad every night.  He eats around 6-7 ounces in the bottle, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't eat that much when he's nursing.
  • Luke loves to play in his gym, the lion is still his favorite.
  • Luke smiles at Mommy and Daddy and his grandmas and grandpas.  He loves to stare at Grandpa Gary.
  • Luke's sleep has been a little random.  He is no longer swaddled.  He takes 2 1/2 good naps during the day and then sleeps anywhere from 4-7 hours in a row at night.
  • Luke has his favorite books and loves to be read to: The Very Busy Spider, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, A Wish for You, and Goodnight Moon.  Luke loves it when Daddy lets him play with Goodnight Moon.
  • Luke is getting good at grabbing things.  He reaches for his 'friends' under his gym and pretty much anything we put in front of him.
  • Everything goes in Luke's mouth.  His hands, fingers, blankets, toys, everything.
  • Luke is starting to sit in the Bumbo and is actually starting to kind of like it.
  • Luke likes to play/eat his burp cloth when he sits in his bouncy chair.  We think he might be a blankie boy.
  • Luke loves it when Mom or Dad let him stand up.  He is so proud and you can tell he feels like a big boy.
  • Luke is awake and alert about 2 hours between naps.
  • Luke loves bath time with Daddy and we have actually had to turn the tub around because he wants to sit up now.  He loves to kick and splash.
we didn't get very good tie pictures this month

luke and daddy

how sweet is this kid?  that is my mom's baby blanket he's laying on, love it!

the only happy face i captured

probably my favorite

love the light...and the sweet baby!

so funny!  thanks grandma diane for my yoda hat and doll!

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