January 31, 2013

January Pinterest Projects

Alrighty, here's the round of up Pinterest inspired creations for the month of January. I've got some good ones brewing for February. Some are even drying in my garage right now awaiting final touches.

No Bake Energy Bites
I made these for Miles to take with him when he left for his most recent training out in California. He forgot them. I was kinda glad. My recommendation is to make a double batch. No joke.

Envelope Pillow
I re-covered our four couch pillows somewhat recently. For three of those four pillows, it took me forever to complete them as I made them with a zipper. Then I decided to give this method a shot and it was SO much quicker. The envelope portion is on the back, but you could also put it in the middle of the pillow and sew on buttons or something cute. Never bothering with a zipper again for pillows.

Parmesan Roasted Edamame
Pinned via my friend Ashley - great find Ash. Theses were delicious and Finn loved them too. Whenever he eats something green, I'm a happy mama!

Fleece Blanket
A woman my mom works with who has been a family friend for many years had a grandbaby a few months ago. She went to the University of Iowa like my mom and is a huge Hawkeye fan, so I made a little blanket for her grandson to play on when he visits.. I measured it out and sewed two pieces of fleeces together and then cut the edges. Because I sewed it, there was no need to tie the strands in knots like you see on some fleece blankets as I wanted a smooth edge, not a bumpy one.

Hmmm, four projects really doesn't seem like much considering how many more I've pinned this month, but like I said, I have a few others in the works and many others rattling around in my head. I also pinned one of those "do these before every shower" workouts and have been doing that. But there is no way the girl pictured in that pin got that way from a just little pre-shower workout. Stupid Pinterest and its false advertisement.

Next month: Quilts, Furniture re-do, and Valentine's Day Cuteness!

January 29, 2013

The Sweetest Words

This video is as sweet as it gets folks:

I made that book for Finn when we went to my cousin's wedding last October - something for him to look at on the plane, but at the time he wasn't super interested. Today I pulled it out while we were waiting at the DMV (which was the best DMV experience ever - it only took 40 minutes, I had all the documents I needed, they were super friendly, a guy got up to hold the door open for me as I had the stroller AND my picture in my new license ain't half bad). But I digress. . . .

So the book came out at the DMV and then it was all Finn wanted to look at all night. I need to add to it and we still need to work on the Hidalgo side of his family. I will have to change out the picture of Grandpa (Miles' dad) because Roscoe is also in the picture so Grandpa gets no love - it's just "huppy, huppy" who as you can see is one of his favorites. In fact, a few times while looking through the picture book, he would get to Huppy's picture and then put the book down to go sit next to Roscoe. Or grab his tail.

I love that Finn says "baby" when he sees brother Cale's picture and sketch. Earlier today as I was getting ready in the bathroom I heard him saying "baby, baby" and walk over to find that he's pulled Cale's pictures out of my nightstand. This isn't the first time that he's said "baby" when it came to Cale, but it just melts my heart every time. The innocence and sweetness of it is really something else. He's even getting close to mimicking me when I say "brother" or "Cale" though he can't say those words independently yet like he can "baby."

His vocabulary has picked up a lot these last few months. The only words he ever was good at signing were "more," "please," and "milk," but now he will just say "muh," "pea," and "mih." "Pea" might be my current favorite, especially when he says and signs it like it's going to score him brownie points (which it usually does). While I certainly love the times he is sweet and says "pea" or "tank too" (thank you), he has his share of sass as well. Take the other night at dinner for example:

Clearly we have no issue saying "no." When Aunt Jenny taught him "no, no, no" he was only 10 months old and couldn't say no yet, but he would do this cute little point and wave his hand around. At 19 months however, he's got it on lock. Sigh.

I sure love these new words and this talking little boy. But what has he done with my baby!?

January 28, 2013


I know people always say that money can't buy you happiness and I agree with that to an extent, but still . . . I'd like the chance to prove that theory wrong ya know? I totally wish I was just loaded with more money than I knew what to do with! I mean who doesn't!?

I went on an impromptu road trip last week to visit my parents in Arizona. My brother was driving out to pick up a new car, so he stopped in Texas for a night and Finn, Roscoe, and I joined him for the drive to Arizona and back. While on the way out there my brother was listening to Dave Ramsey. In addition to making me want to be all sorts of frugal and financially savvy,  he said something that I totally agree with about how being generous with your money and giving is one of the most important things we can teach our children (in regards to money) and that there's nothing that makes you feel better than giving.

And while yes, I'd love to be rich so we could build our dream home or buy a boat, or just splurge on everything in the Pottery Barn catalog, I'd really love to be rich just to turn around and give all (err, a lot) of it away. I think that is my dream job - to be in charge of picking different charities and causes and then giving them money. It's already enjoyable doing it with your own money, I can't imagine how sweet it would be to do it with someone else's money! Any rich people out there need a hand?

My college roommate, Katie, and I ran the Herothon Half Marathon this past weekend in San Antonio. The Herothon was powered by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and since we both have close family and friends affected by both types of cancer, we decided we wanted to raise funds for LLS. And wouldn't ya know it, even though we asked for donations only two weeks prior to the race, we exceeded our goal by almost double. It was so wonderful to see the donations come in and it didn't matter the amount, because each one made a difference, and even though I can't take credit for the generous amount that was raised, it did make me feel good to be a small part of it. That Dave Ramsey knows what he's talking about - giving does feel really good.

We made signs for some of our family/friends who have battled both Leukemia and different forms of Lymphoma  Those signs were along the course at mile 11, the Hero's Mile. 

The race itself was really awesome. There were over 2,000 runners in the race, many survivors of cancer, and people of all shapes and sizes. Since it was the "Herto"thon, there were lots of people wearing capes during the run or dressed up as superheros. We even passed Captain America on the race - he must have been having an off day. There were also two firefighters running in their uniform - pants, jackets, AND helmet. The race went much better than either of us had anticipated and it was so wonderful to see how much good was done for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While I'm walking a bit wonky today and my hips and knees are sore, I love the high you get when you do a race like this  - if only it can be that exhilarating each time I go for a run! A big thank you to all of you who supported us, through donations and words of encouragement. It meant a lot.


January 23, 2013

DIY Growth Chart

At the end of the month I plan to share the Pinterest inspired creations that I've accomplished this month. I'll try to do it each moth - hopefully to force me to actually do/make/try some of the billions of things I pin. While this growth chart is a pinterest project that I finally finished this month, I really started it several months back. I first purchased the wood thinking I'd be able to finish the growth chart in no time, only I didn't know what look I wanted so let it sit in the garage and kinda forgot about it. My friend Priscilla made a really cute chart that looks similar to the ones you see in Pottery Barn (for a ridiculous amount of money), but I also liked this one and this one.

In the end the chevrons won, because chevrons are the it shape right now and my growth chart has to be trendy! Really, I just thought it was cute, although a pain in the arse to tape. I don't see too many more chevron projects in my future. Some of the examples I liked had cute tags to annotate measurements, but I decided against those as I didn't want Finn to bump into them or pull them out (in his case probably both).

So, here are the supplies I used:

I stained the wood with a few coats:

Cut out numbers on my silhoutte:

Taped off the chevrons:

Spray painted the board:

Measured my numbers and used a sharpie to fill them in:

Decided this was too bright:

So I used sand paper to distress it a bit:

And applied a protective clear coat on top:

Then (a month later) I finally got around to hanging it:

I made sure to include both kiddos:

And that's that. I don't remember the total cost of the project, but the wood was about $6 and I had a lot of the other materials on hand. But even if you need to buy stain and paint, you still are looking at no more than about $15 total. Bring it Pinterest.


January 17, 2013

Don't call CPS, I'm just raising a boy!

I think I'd like to have a daughter one day purely to see just how drastically different they are from boys. Everyone always talks about how crazy boys can be and I must agree. Well done everyone, you are correct. Dem boys be ca-razy.

I say all this because within a 48 hour period Mr. Finn managed to fall on objects bruising his FACE on BOTH sides. It was really sad. The first one happened on Saturday morning. He started spinning in a circle and I'm sitting right in front of him while he's just smiling and spinning and has this look that says "look what I can do Mom, this is so fun!" It was so sweet and I was thinking "I should record this because he's so happy," but then he spun so much he got dizzy and fell. On the corner of a wooden toy box. Bruise #1:

I took him to Target to make him feel better. Figured it works for me.

Then two days later we were hanging out inside, and Finn went to close the door to the office (he sometimes is OCD about open drawers and doors) but somehow fell while closing it and fell right on the edge of the door. On the other side of his face. The one that wasn't bruised. Bruise #2:

I felt so bad for my bruised up kid, but I needed to go grocery shopping and was kind of embarassed and wanted to avoid being judged, so I did what any parent would to blend in and avoid questions. I went to Wal-mart.

But seriously, every day this kid keeps me on my toes. I read a saying once that "Mothers of little boys work from son up until son down" and my oh my is it ever true.

Every day I have to make sure the chairs at the kitchen table are pushed in. Otherwise Finn will climb on the chair and on the table. Because the table clearly needs conquering:

Don't worry mom, if I fall I'll aim for Roscoe.

Every day I remind myself how thankful I am for all the child locks on the cabinets and curse myself for the one drawer in the bathroom we didn't think we'd need to secure:

Jackpot. Toothpaste.

Every day I stop and wonder how things like this are fun, or comfortable:

And every day I find myself saying things like, "be gentle Finn," or "No, no, no - put that down/away/back." He is crazy hyper before bed, cannot be pushed high enough in a swing and is really starting to hold his own when wrestling Roscoe for toys (dog toys mind you). There is nothing he won't climb up/in/through and it's amazing that we have avoided the ER thus far. He sure is a crazy boy, but we love him to pieces.

This prompted us to put a child lock on the oven. 

January 13, 2013

My Tribe

For a while now I have been contemplating posting about my thoughts and emotions when it comes to the subject of "trying." Trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant, trying to have a healthy baby, etc. Lots of trying. Well, some trying - lots of hoping, praying, holding your breath and crossing all your fingers and toes.

But each time I begin to write about it, I word vomit all over the blog. Mean words. Angry words. Whiny and complain-y words. I think I start off on a bad note when I go to write about that particular topic because the truth is the word "trying" just rubs me the wrong way, or at least did for a long time. After losing Cale, I hated being asked when we'd try again. Because to me it implied that we failed the first time around. But with some clarity I can try (ha, no pun intended) to look at it in a harmless, and even kind, way. "You had a beautiful baby, when are you going to try for another beautiful baby?" That sounds so much better. But regardless of my resentment towards the word itself, the whole topic rubs me the wrong way and puts me in a salty mood. And don't get me wrong, I fully believe I am entitled to feel that way and have those sentiments and it's not wrong or unhealthy, but even when I know I have a right to be upset, it doesn't mean I want to be.

Because I want to complain about the cruel realty of the world and the fact that people are still losing many wanted and loved babies. I want to complain about all the people who had babies after me and are now having successful pregnancies before me. I want to complain about all the people who seem to breeze through their pregnancies more worried about weight gain and stretch marks than giving birth to a living baby.  But no matter how much complaining I do, the fact is I just want people to stop losing babies. I want to stop feeling behind and have another successful pregnancy. I want to be confident that a child I carry will arrive safely in this world. I want a lot of things that I cannot guarantee nor control. My emotions included.

My sister Kate once told me about column she read where a woman, "Sugar" (Cheryl Strayed), responded to submission from a reader who had lost a baby. Kate didn't remember all the details, but a few stood out and stuck with me and a few weeks after my sister told me about it, my friend Brooke shared that same column.

The big take away for me was something that I've already gained. My tribe. Strayed advises the woman to seek out other people who have been in her shoes, who have lost a baby and understand her pain - "The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you're talking about because she experience the same thing too cannot be overestimated."

I read some more wise words from Cheryl Strayed this morning when I stumbled on her facebook page.

"This morning I received an email from a WILD reader of the sort I get every so often--in which the writer expresses the belief that I loved my mother too much and that I grieved her too hard. Several times I've been told that my years-long feelings of loss were "not normal." These statements (usually made without intending offense) stand in contrast to the thousands upon thousands of people who have written to me or approached me at my events (often with tears in their eyes) to thank me for putting words to a love and a sorrow that he/she also has for someone who is now dead--mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, friends. Young women. Old men. Teenaged boys. Middle aged moms. I wish I had a camera strapped to my head so you could see all the beauty and sorrow out there. So many people have told me the stories of the essential person they lost and they have all shared with me a deep sense of gratitude that I wrote honestly about losing a person who was essential to me. It gave them solace. It gave them the opportunity to see their own emotions brought to life on the page. It gave them a sense that they are not alone.

I've often been asked if I could go back in time and give myself what I most needed in the time following my mother's death what would it be and my answer is always company. I felt so utterly alone. Like I was the only one who'd lost the person I loved most in the world. I wish I'd joined a grief group or somehow found others who knew what I meant when I said and did the things I did. All these years later I understand that I created through my writing what I needed most. I found the people who look me deep in the eyes and say, "I know what you mean." I found one of my most necessary tribes by writing what was in my heart.

If my truth and their truth feels "not normal" to you, I think you probably just got lucky and I'm sincerely glad you did, but I hope you will believe that those emotions are normal to a whole lot of us, even if we don't express them often.

This morning's email about my "not normal" grief came at a time when I am thinking constantly about my friend Emily Rapp, whose son Ronan is dying. My heart is broken for her, for them. To Emily and to all of you who are suffering or have suffered I want to say I understand and I know you understand and the power of that mutual understanding is everything. It is love. It is light. It is the only way forward."

I found my tribe* in a similar fashion - through writing. This blog has brought me to my tribe. And when I want to complain about "trying," or not being over halfway through my third pregnancy like I should, when I want to complain about the fact that my first child is still dead and I'm still so sad, I turn to my tribe. I turn to this group of loyal and devoted friends who can simply say "I understand" and it makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for being my way forward.


*I'd like to add that I know a lot of wonderful, wonderful people who have never lost a child and yet are amazing and kind and very much a part of my way forward. I hope you know who you are and how important you are. 

January 11, 2013

EuroTrip: Germany

As I mentioned before, we flew into Munich, Germany at the start of our trip, but spent the first two nights in Austria. But before we drove there we walked around the Christmas markets in Munich. We got there a little after seven in the morning, but by the time we got our luggage and drove to downtown we had arrived just in time for vendors to set up and open their shops. It was so enchanting - seeing all the decor, the hand crafted toys and trinkets for sale, the delicious Gluwein (hot spiced wine), etc. We strolled through the markets and enjoyed the sights but ultimately made our way to the Hofbräuhaus for some breakfast. And by breakfast, I mean sausage, pretzels and really large beers. Welcome to Germany!

I probably am butchering the spelling, but that "little" beer next to Miles' beer is called a Radler which is a mix of lemonade and beer (delicious German beer mind you) and oh. my. word. is it amazing. And probably how I will drink all my beers from here on out.

We left Munich for Austria, but knew we'd get to come back and enjoy it a bit more. Unfortunately, when we came back to Germany from Prague, we came back on a bad note - our friends apartment in Amberg was broken into (while we were in Prague) and many of their possessions were stolen. Aside from that major downer, we enjoyed our time in Amberg. We stayed at our friends place for one night and got to walk around their neat little city. Amberg is also were Daren lived briefly before he deployed to Afghanistan so it was nice to get to see a little part of his life I had never seen. In addition to seeing Amberg, we drove to the military post in Vilseck and I got to see the memorial for all the Soldiers 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment has lost in the War on Terror. Miles had already seen it, as he went to Germany with his family for the memorial dedication in 2011, but it was only a few weeks after Finley was born so I was unable to attend.

After visiting Daren's memorial we headed back to Munich for our last night in Europe. We arrived a little early so that we could go to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Never having been to a concentration camp, I  knew it would be a somber experience, and while it was very powerful, it was also really beautiful. That may sound odd - but the sun set while we were there casting a peaceful sky all over and it was really touching to see so many other people there visiting and paying their respect. It may not look it in the pictures I took below, but there were lots of other people there the same time we were, which was just before closing.

Going through the pictures top to bottom, left to right: 
The view as you walk into the camp 
The gate you walk through -Arbeit Macht Frei - Work Brings Freedom
Small portion of the camp
Where one of the living quarters used to stand (all but two have been torn down, but number markers  
     designate where they all stood - this one had flowers next to it)
Never Again memorial sign
View of museum which used to be the admin offices of the camp (the poles are part of a monument in front 
    and represent the gates surrounding the camp)
Sunset overlooking the camp
View walking down to the Jewish Memorial

After visiting Dachau we drove back to Munich to check in to our hotel and get ready for dinner. We had planned on hitting up the Hofbräuhaus once again, but it was insanely crowded - I can't even imagine how crazy and fun it would be to go there during Oktoberfest, though from the pictures Craig and Michelle have shared, it definitely looks like something for the bucket list. Instead of eating there we found another really great restaurant in downtown Munich and enjoyed our last night, thankful for such a wonderful trip with great friends.

Thank you Europe and thank you Nelsons - can't wait to go back!


January 8, 2013

EuroTrip: Czech Republic

Our next stop in Europe was to Prague, Czech Republic. After two wonderful days in Austria we had a full days drive to Prague, but stopped along the way to view the Neuschwanstein Castle which was the inspiration for the Disney Castle.

 We arrived in Prague at night and walked around the Old Town section of the city which was decorated with gorgeous lights and trees just like in Innsbruck.

 After a nice meal and dessert, we headed to the hotel. We stayed at the Charles Bridge Palace which was amazing and incredibly reasonable.

The next day we started off the day with an early morning run throughout the city. This was the only exercise we attempted while in Europe, so don't give us too much credit. Michelle and I ran together and Miles ran with Craig, but we happened to run into each other along the way and stopped in to check out the Prague Castle which is where their government officials have offices and where the Czech Crown Jewels are kept. I'm really glad we went for a run though as we were able to see the city at a neat time when things were still quiet and the streets weren't swarmed with tourists (like us). After breakfast we went on a free walking tour of the city.

The tour lasted a couple hours and went through several different sections of the city. The clock in the picture below is an Astronomical clock dating back to 1410. The story goes that the man who built it received such recognition and fame that the city officials were worried he would build a similar clock for another city. In order to prevent that from happening they burned his eyes out with hot metal rods. As payback, he jumped from the clock tower into the inner workings of the dial, killing himself and breaking the clock in the process. It took hundreds of years to get it working again.

Not really sure who wins in that story - but a good attention grabber during a tour.

That evening we went to a string orchestra concert in St. Nichols Church which was amazing. The following day, our last in Prague, we got to meet up with my friend Daniel who is a Soldier in the Czech Army (he's in the middle of the picture below). Daniel and I worked on the same FOB while in Afghanistan, so it was neat to be able to catch up with him during our visit. The other picture is of the beer that Miles ordered for lunch. It was actually only 11:30 in the morning when they brought out this bad boy. They don't really mess around in Europe. My friend Renel commented how water is more expensive than beer in Prague and while funny, it's entirely true. If you order water at a restaurant it is not free and often times it is more expensive than a beer! Bottoms up!

After leaving Prague we headed back to Germany, but I'll need another naptime for that post.  :)

January 4, 2013

EuroTrip: Austria

I'm going to break up our European Vacation in three segments because we spent time in three different countries while we were there.

Our trip started off with a road trip (of course) as we drove from Texas to Arizona to leave Finn and Roscoe with my sister and parents. Leaving Finn was hard. This was the first time I was away from him for a chunk of time so even though he couldn't have been in better hands, it was still tough to leave him. Miles told me he was proud of me for not crying, but then pointed out that I cried the first time I left Roscoe (true story), so that made me feel like a horrible mother! But in my defense, the first time we left Roscoe, we took him to a vet back in Georgia and it seriously looked like the pound - just hard concrete floors and chain link fences and the poor pup probably thought we were putting him back up for adoption. Finn, on the other hand was getting spoiled and loved on 24/7. But yes - I cried over leaving my dog and not my child. Mother of the year.

Anyway, we flew out of Arizona and arrived in Munich, Germany where our good friends Craig and Michelle, and their dog Molly, picked us up. Craig is stationed in Germany right now and they were such wonderful hosts for our trip. We went to breakfast in Munich and walked through the Christmas Markets, but I'll save that for my Germany recap. After breakfast, we drove to Innsbruck, Austria where we spent the next two days.

Innsbruck was gorgeous. No snow on the ground, but the mountains were covered. The hotel we stayed at was this cozy place that was more like a bed and breakfast. Everyone we met was incredibly kind and welcoming. All of Europe seems to be way more dog-friendly than in the states. Molly was able to come everywhere with us, including all the restaurants and it wasn't weird or out of the ordinary - dogs are just welcome members of the family (as they should be!) so it was really nice to spend our trip with Molly (as well as her parents).

Most places were closed on Christmas Eve and we ended up doing dinner at an Italian pizza place, but it was really nice to walk around and see how decorated the town was.

On Christmas day we rode the gondola up the mountain as high as it would take us, and then hiked up to the top. The view was amazing. When the windy blew it was insanely cold, but otherwise it was gorgeous out and I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend Christmas.

Our Christmas evening was equally lovely. The center of town (where the big tree was in the picture above) had vendors out and Christmas music playing from three different balconies by three small groups of musicians (mostly brass instruments). After enjoying the impromptu concert we went out for Christmas dinner which probably was the best meal of our whole trip (I had tomato soup, venison, and potato dumplings).

Austria set the bar high for our trip and is definitely on the lists of places we hope to visit again. Next up - Prague!

January 1, 2013

2013 Resolutions

We are back from a wonderful trip to Europe and I will share stories and pictures from our time there once we are a little more unpacked and I have sorted through all the pictures. But I figured I'd start of 2013 with some resolutions. I think I did a pretty good job upholding most of my 2012 Resolutions and honestly, when I re-read those I could almost just say "ditto" for what I hope to do this year. But I suppose I should elaborate or add a few new ones, so in no particular order, this year I resolve (in no particular order) to:

1. Be a more interactive and educational mom. Finn is learning so much, so fast. He picked up at least three new words while we were in Europe - it's insane how much he's developing and it's so amazing to see. I want to be better about providing him with stimulating and fun activities and just enjoying being a part of his development. There's only a billion ideas on Pinterest, I just need to get with it and start doing more of them.

2. Less time on phone and Facebook. My desire to quit Facebook altogether could be saved for an entirely separate blog post, but 90% of the time - it's so, so stupid. Because 90% of the things people say/share are so, so stupid. Also, I read this article and had very similar feelings. I will elaborate more on that later I think, but I don't think this will be a hard resolution for me. I do need to do a better job of putting my phone down more often though - or at least checking it less. It will probably help me accomplish resolution #1 a little better too, I'm sure.

3. Be more financially and environmentally frugal. My transition to cloth diapering definitely will help achieve this (in both regards), but I'm certainly looking for way to continue to save money (and the planet). A few weeks ago Miles installed a dual flush on our toilet and then I noticed them everywhere in Europe. Get on board America! I also need to be a little better about cost comparing things - especially groceries and common purchases, using coupons, and gasp! cutting back on my Target trips. 2013 will be our first full year on one income - considering the state our nation is in as a whole, I think we all could be a little more responsible with our husband's hard earned money.

4. Eat healthy. In general I think we do a good job being selective with the quality of food we buy. We only buy grass-fed beef, organic eggs, all that jazz, but I need to cut back on the sugar (my teeth would agree) and I'd also like for us to cut back on our red meat intake. So any vegetarians out there want to share some good recipes for macho meat eating men? (ahem - Brooke, Brandy cough cough). Also, I'm very particular in what Finn eats and ensure it's healthy and well balanced. I need to do a better job of holding myself to the same standards I set for my child. (Thanks for that tip Brandy.) Oh and water - I need to be better about drinking more water. I was so good about it during my pregnancies and when nursing, yet lately it's like I will totally forget and then have to force myself to chug a glass because I can't just consistently drink water throughout the day.

5. Read more. I accomplished my goal last year of reading one book a month which is still pretty pitiful, so I'm going to up that to a whopping 15 this year. Any good recommendations?  I'd like to start out the new year with something happy/uplifting. Doesn't matter if it's fiction or non - just something that I'd want to recommend to someone else after finishing.

So there you have it. I certainly have a longer list of other little things I hope to accomplish or work on in the new year, but those are there biggies.

On an unrelated, but equally important note, our Roscoe dog turned five years old yesterday! We upgraded him to a memory foam bed (which now has a cover that may or may not have his name embroidered on it). Happy Birthday to our favorite pup!

Here's hoping 2013 is a happy one.