December 31, 2012

Christmas Cards

I love Christmas cards.  I love receiving them and sending them out.  I love that each card tells its own story.  For our family it shows that we started out as a young married couple, added a dog, added another dog, and then added baby.  That is a lot of expansion......and it is only the beginning I hope.  Here is a peek at our last three Christmas cards....I never got around to scanning the others.

(my personal favorite)

We could not get Hudson in this one.  All you can see is the top of his head.  I have to say it is harder and harder to get a good photo.  Dogs and babies complicate things.

Can't wait to see what next year's card will look like!

December 30, 2012

Our merry little Christmas

Oh and of course had a ton of Christmas themed photo shoots.......

We had a wonderful time celebrating Ella's first Christmas.  Ella's Uncle Ryan came home from Boston and her Uncle Connor surprised us with a last minute trip home from California.
And of course we love spending time with Aunt Katelyn, Aunt Carly and Uncle Ty too.

We spent Christmas Eve with the whole Keith clan.  Ella loved spending time with her Great Grammie and Grampie and all her uncles, aunts and cousins  -especially cousin Owen.  Brandon fried a turkey (for the second time) and it was so yummy!  Grammie knit all the ladies scarves - even Ella.  We had a wonderful time celebrating the birth of the Lord together.

We then woke up Christmas morning  and spent some sweet time together as a family of three.  It was so nice to snuggle together as we exchanged our gifts, stockings and ornaments. Christmas day was spent with my family enjoying little Ella, eating too much food and playing board games.  We love board games.  

It was a very special first Christmas for Ella.  Each year it will get better and better as we share with her the meaning of Christmas, the special blessings we enjoy on this day and the family traditions that make it all the more special.  I can't wait to develop our own traditions too as we make many family memories.

Love my family!

Especially my little family of three.
And Ella's smile.

And in case you want more cuteness.

I did immediately remove the lights from her mouth.  After one photo of course.

December 13, 2012

Our Little Reindeer

Someone is ready for her first Christmas.  I think she is catching on to my excitement because we did not shed one tear during this photo shoot.  She even loved her antlers and didn't try to rip them off.  She makes one really cute reindeer.

Of course Ella is too young to really understand the Christmas season but that is not holding me back.  I know she will enjoy looking back at the pictures to see all the memories we were creating from the beginning.

The first Christmas activity was of course the Christmas tree.  I love picking out the Christmas tree because I have so many wonderful memories of bundling up and going to a Christmas tree farm with my family to cut down our very own tree.  It was so fun to try and find the perfect one.  For my family that meant a really FAT tree.  We loved and still do full, plump trees.  Unfortunately the past two years we haven't cut down our own tree.  The Christmas tree farms are either all closing or have pretty pathetic trees.  That's okay, it is the perfect time for Bran and I to start our own family traditions.  Now we go to this adorable little zoo in our town that is covered in Christmas lights.  We sip hot chocolate while we pick out our tree and enjoy the bedazzled animals.  I can't wait for Ella to be old enough to enjoy it.

This year we went during the day due to our schedules and still had a great time but it really is much more charming and magical at night.  Here are some pics from our trip last year.

After picking out the tree I immediately need to start decorating it.  I have no patience and always beg Bran to put it up right away.  I always play Christmas music (or a Christmas movie), pull out every ornament and place it on my table so I can re-admire them all and then we are allowed to string the lights and hang the ornaments.  Hot chocolate is always involved as well.
This year Ella wasn't feeling the whole Christmas tree decorating.

I think she just needed to see it completed in all its sparkly beauty.
Because then she was all smiles and let me do this.

 I took a billion of these because she was so darn cute and she just kept smiling (or at least she never cried).  You know what I just realized....I never got a picture of just our tree.  What can I say, who wants a picture of a tree when there is a really cute baby to take pictures of?  I guess I'll need to work on that.

Up next on our Christmas checklist:

- Making Christmas cookies (Ella will be an observer this year)
- Making Christmas ornaments
- Christmas present wrapping (This is for me, not Ella I guess)
- Christmas cards
- Visiting Santa
- And many more photo shoots

All while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate of course!

December 10, 2012

Surviving a newborn

At a little over 2 months I think it is safe to say that we have made it through the newborn stage.  Our little Ella is growing fast and developing a personality all her own.  I love discovering bits and pieces of who this little person is.  Oh and the smiles.  Those big, gummy smiles and bright eyes.  Best. Thing. Ever.

Of course those smiles don't usually come until you have made it through those first few weeks and to help you get to those smiles I am sharing the essentials that helped me.

Gel Soothies - For those that breastfeed the ultimate and most used tool in our mommy bag is the boobie.  You have to take care of that precious piece of equipment and these soothies helped me with those toe curling, leg kicking, can't do it anymore first weeks.  Instant and long lasting relief.  Ahhhhh.  So glad those days are over.

Nursing Pads - Another great tool for the boobie or maybe more for your wardrobe and dignity is the nursing pad.  I felt like a leaky faucet those first few weeks but instead of sticking a bucket in my bra, I used these pads.  They are super soft and organic so they didn't irritate my sore nips and they are very absorbent so they can handle a lot of leakage.  Like crying baby type of waterworks....did you know that a crying baby opens up the boobie floodgates?  Any crying baby.  Well they do.  It's awkward.

Aveeno Face Wipes -  With the demands of a newborn to care for 24/7 there is little time to take care of you.  Not only does time run short but energy.  So when I finally was able to curl up in my warm bed the last thing I wanted to do was waste precious time washing off the days grime.  At the same time a little cleanliness also saved my sanity and made me feel human.  These started in my bathroom but soon came to rest on my nightstand.  I was that lazy.

Straws - You have to consume a lot of water those first few weeks.  These made it more fun which meant I drank more plus sipping out of a cup while breastfeeding is hard without a straw.

Wash Cloths/Burp Cloths -  Babies are messy.  I used these homemade burp cloths for EVERYTHING!  Breastfeeding, burping, baths, wiping gunk from the face, etc.  These were extremely easy to make and so much cuter than the typical white burp cloths.  It's a good thing I made so many because I use these all the time.

Swaddle Sleep Sacks -  The hospital gave us ours and it really helped Ella sleep and was easy for this brain-dead momma to operate.  The swaddle attachment comes on or off so when they aren't sleeping their hands can be free and you don't have to deal with a lot of extra fabric.  And bonus it grows with the baby.  Since newborns grow out of things so, so fast this can last for months and months without the swaddle and just as a sleep sack.  Ella loves it too.

Smartphone -  This may seem stupid but my phone saved me in so many ways.  It's a one hand wonder which is huge because never again will I have the use of both my hands at one time - even now I type this with one hand.  The phone provides a way to stay connected and share with family and friends, it can call these same family and friends for help.  It is a white noise or lullaby machine.  A schedule keeper/tracker.  But what saved me the most during those middle of the night breastfeeding marathons were all the games (and Pinterest app) that kept me from falling asleep while feeding Ella.

Humidifier - Ella seemed to always be congested those first few weeks and we noticed a huge difference in her sleep when the humidifier was on.  She breathed a slept so much better.

White Onesies - Stock up on these!  We went through several a day.  Between diaper blowouts and milk dribble we were always putting a new one on and she wore these under every outfit.  My favorites are the Carter's Precious Firsts.  They are soft, thick, hold their shape and wash-up nicely.  Gap also has really nice onesies if you want to spend a little more or you can find them on sale.

Bouncy Seat -  Or whatever you call it.  I would not be able eat, shower or put clothes on without this.  Enough said.  The Baby Bjorn happens to be what we use and Ella and I love it.  It is light, collapsible and easily moves from kitchen to bathroom to bedroom!  And Ella loves to play and sleep in it or just watch mommy get ready.

December 7, 2012

DIY: Chalkboards

I've officially jumped on the chalkboard bandwagon.  I couldn't resist it any longer.  Everything I was coming across on Pinterest was just so cute and rather useful.

I have a small blank wall in my kitchen that we've never committed to.  It is in a constant state of change.

I think the chalkboard craze has almost completed this transformation.  Once we are a one dog family I would like to add lower cabinets for storage with built-in garbage.  Right now the dogs need that floor space.  Back to the chalkboard......

This was an easy and fast update.  I painted the wall with chalkboard paint then used trim to frame it.  We use this all the time for grocery lists, reminders, notes to each other etc.  I love it!!!

I had quite a bit of chalkboard paint leftover and couldn't just stop at one project so I made some mini chalkboards as well.

Someone didn't like them as much as I did.  I think she feels they are objects of torture - she is not a fan of photo props.  And perhaps they remind her of our first, failed photo shoot using them.  Not that the above was a success.

Don't they say in showbiz to never work with dogs and babies....?

Back to the project.  To make these mini chalkboards I used old frames I had laying around.  Just remove the backing and glass.  I then cut 1/4" hardwood to fit my frame.  It is very similar to plywood but has a smoother finish which is perfect for chalkboard paint.  Once the paint is completely dry (follow the instructions on the can) then glue or staple the board to your frame.  It is that easy.

Here are some other ideas on ways to use up the leftover paint:  

December 6, 2012

Two months

Oh my two months.

12 pounds 2 ounces
24 inches

75th percentile weight
90th percentile height

She's definitely getting enough to eat!

     newborn                                        one month                                    two months

Here are some other shots from her two month photos.

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