Baby Shower

I had my good friend Chelsea's baby shower this weekend. It was a ton of fun seeing all my friends and talking babies for 2.5 hours. Before Tylee, I went to Target, pulled up the registry, and bought whatever was in my price range. I knew nothing about babies, baby showers, or being a new Mom. Since having Tylee, I finally feel like I have a clue and put together these baskets with all the things I found necessary the first few weeks of Tylee's life.

  • Gerber Onesies: I layered EVERYTHING. It seems like every single outfit is scratchy when you have that teeny-tiny newborn with oh-so-soft skin.
  • Thank you cards: Gifts, balloons, and flowers accumulated quickly when we were in the hospital delivering. I remember our first day home and needing to write Thank You's. It was days before I felt comfortable enough to leave the house so Tj picked some up for me in town one day. I think I cried when he brought them home because I appreciated the guesture so much but boy, were they ugly. Sorry babe.
  • Swaddling Blankets: In the hopsital they had those HUGE blankets that wrapped around Tylee 2 or 3 times. It was a joke when I got home and tried to swaddle her with my receiving blankets. Big swaddling blankets are a MUST.
  • Hangers: You can never have enough hangers.
  • Dreft Spray: I found it worked magic compared to Shout.
  • Diaper Sacs: I got these from my friend Kelly at my shower and they may've been my favorite thing ever. What else are you supposed to do with all those dirty diapers when you are out and about?
  • Tide-to-go: No need to even explain. (Although I actually liked Shout Wipes better for on-the-go but couldn't find any.)
  • Gas Drops: I was really worried about over-medicating Tylee at first. That didn't last long and we were giving these with every feeding about 8 hours after her birth.
  • Kleenex: A diaper bag must.
  • Wipes: Those hard little plastic containers don't hold much. I found these wipe sacks much more practical.
  • Wet Ones: Germs anyone? Wet Ones, please.
  • Mini First Aid Kit: I was suprised how often I used this.
  • Rings: These were definitely one of the first things Tylee played with. They are so easy for them to grab, hold, and suck on.


What in the world is going on here?

Wake up at 6:15. Get in the tub. Get out of the tub. Wonder why Tylee isn't awake. Get ready. Get the dog situated. Wonder why Tylee isn't awake. Get Tylee some milk. Wake Tylee up. Dress her. Load her in the car. Head to G-ma's. Hear gushing in the backseat. Lots and lots of gushing. Look back. Tylee is covered. The carseat is covered. The seat is covered. Ugh. Have you ever taken a carseat apart? Not. Fun. At. All. Have you ever tried to put a carseat back together? Not. Fun. At. All.



As it turns out, Tylee isn't a spoiled rotten brat with a bad attitude that pushes her limits. Well, she is still spoiled, still has an attitude, and still pushes the limits, but apparently there is a reason - and it's a good reason at that! I was super embarrassed the other night when her PAT's instructor came over and Tylee was extra busy being a litte snot, wanting to do everything herself with no help from Lisa or I, and giving her famous "Nuh-huh" when someone tried to help. "Sorry," I said. "She has quite the attitude these days." Lisa didn't even miss a beat and proceeded to tell me that it is normal at Tylee's age for a child to act like that. "The terrible two's came early!" she said. Lisa said that she can tell from our visits that Tylee is a very confident little girl with very high self-esteem. She can tell Tylee was well nurtured as a baby and has since had the right balance of learning to play independently vs. spending lots of time with Mom and Dad doting on her, reading to her, playing with her, and most of all, loving her. Her ability to be independent is shining through now more than ever since she is old enough to accomplish tasks and problem-solve. Tylee tackles each and every task with the confidence that she can do it herself.
That may be the best compliment I could've ever recieved as a mother. We tried hard from the very beginning to make sure that Tylee could function on her own without needing our full and undivided attention every waking moment of the day. That just would not have worked for us. I somewhat understand attatchment parenting and although I do agree with some of the ideas and principals behind it, I knew that would not work for us. I needed my time. I needed my time all by myself so that I could be a better mother to Tylee and a better wife to Tj. I struggled as I left Tylee to play on her mat while I made dinner or took time for myself. I wondered if I was doing the right thing by not rocking her to sleep every night. I didn't want to have regrets but I had to do what worked for us. If we would've created a child that always needed held, needed rocked to sleep, couldn't lay by themselves and play, and couldn't self-soothe ... we all would've been miserable. So to hear from a professional that the balance that we struggled to create - made Tylee into a healthy, independent little girl? Definitely the best compliment I could've ever recieved.



new lense. I know, I'm addicted. I just can't help myself. I can say that this is the first time in my life that I have had a hobby all of my own. I liked to scrapbook but always got tired. Sometimes it just seemed like a chore to get everything out and spend the day doing it. I definitely liked the finished product more than the actual hobby. Same with sewing. It was fun at first but I ended up dreading it when I had to finish something.Normally, I start something and grow weary quickly. There is always something to be learned and I never want to take the time to learn it. I just want to already know it. I don't see that happening with photography. This is definitely the longest that I've ever stuck with something and oh man, is there SO much to learn. If there are 100,000,000 things to know about photography (which there probably are), I know 100 things.I will say I was discouraged when I first got my camera. I just expected to get good pictures. That definitely didn't happen. I ordered a couple books that were supposedly "easy to understand" and "great for a beginner". Yah right. They were WAY over my head. They are only now beginning to make sense. I'm suprised I didn't give up when the books weren't making sense and I realized I was in way over my head. Something about this hobby kept me wanting more, wanting to know how people got all those great pictures and I couldn't. I guess it was challenging to me - which would be why I stuck with it. I'm always up for a good challenge! Thank God for photography blogs and great friends with the same hobby. (Thanks Amanda and Roxie!)I do not feel qualified to give advice, but if I've learned one thing since I started, it would be to take lots of pictures. Practice, practice, practice. Don't give up when they don't turn out just how you had hoped. If you take 200 pictures when you are playing at the park, you may only get 3 or 4 good ones. Look at the other 196 and figure out why they aren't good. Then delete them from your computer and only post the 3-4 good ones on your blog. No one will ever know. Sooner than later you'll start noticing some constants. The pictures you took in the shade were better than the ones you took in full sun. The pictures you took on Thanksgiving Day turned out better than the ones you took on Christmas day. Figure out why. Was the window open? Were you using your flash? Were you in P mode or AV? Manual or Auto Focus? If you take enough pictures, you'll start to run into the same situation and things will start to click. "Oh! Last time my pictures had that blue hue, I changed my White Balance and my pictures turned out great!" Learn from your mistakes, pay attention to your surroundings, and it doesn't hurt to ask for a new lense for your birthday!
**Although a DSLR helps tremedously, I've came across a lot of information that I wish I knew when I only had my Point-and-Shoot. Check out this post by Ashley Ann Photography. Again, practice, practice, practice! What can it hurt?



Thanks for my Valentine Uncle Lance and Aunt Erin! She was literally saying, "Mine!" and hiding it from me.

We love and miss you both!


Valentines Day

Valentines Day was definitely overshadowed with grief this year but we made the most of it. We had decided not to do anything since we are going on our cruise soon but being the gift-giving fool that I am, I couldn't just ignore the whole day all-together. It appeared that Tj would be at work all day Sunday so we ordered a pizza and I gave him his card Saturday night. I went to bed in tears, expecting Sunday to be no better.

(Told ya this girl loves hats. Or baby clothes made into hats.)

Much to my surprise, Tj walks in the bedroom at 6am. SCARED. ME. TO. DEATH. I won't go into details but the railroad did a couple random things to his benefit and he was home! Yaah! My hubby was home for V-day! (That we were supposed to be ignoring, remember?) So he went to bed and Tylee and I headed to the store to gear up for some fantabulous meal making! On the menu? Butter Chicken, Salad with homemade Ranch Dressing and homemade croutons, Butter Rosemary Rolls, and homemade Apple Pie. Comfort food at its best - because boy did I need some comfort.

1) Butter Chicken: The best chicken dish I've ever eaten. Honestly, amazing. And easy! I have chicken set out to make it again this week. And Tj doesn't normally like chicken!

2) Salad: A bag of salad does the job, only needing to add fresh tomatoes. In the summer, I would spice it up by adding fresh veggies but there is no point in the middle of winter.

3) Homemade Ranch: Seriously, the best stuff ever. If you've never tried it, you are missing out. A packet of Ranch dressing mix, mayo, and milk is all you need! You've probably had it at restaurants - it is obvious when its the good stuff but who knew it was that easy to make at home! I normally throw it out whenever the milk goes bad but the label says it will stay good for a couple weeks. It probably would with all the preservatives but I don't wanna chance it. Especially when it's that easy to make!

4) Homemade Croutons: Again, so easy and such a nice addition to your salad. I'm posting the (somewhat) recipe below. We also add bacon bits and cheese to ours. Healthy? Not on V-day!

5) Butter Rosemary Rolls: Ohmy. I am a bread fanatic and these are amazing. I usually have Rhodes Frozen Rolls on hand so these are definitely going to become a staple in our house. I can't really say that the Rosemary added a whole lot of flavor but I had some on hand from making these a couple weeks ago. I'm sure just using real butter and salt would achieve a similar outcome. I'll be trying them again soon without the Rosemary and I'll let you know.

6) Homemade Apple Pie: Tj mentioned an Apple Pie the day before but we didn't have time to make one before he left for work. It didn't cross my mind until I was at Wal-mart but figured the main ingredients were Crust, Apples, Sugar, and Cinnamon. So I grabbed a few things and hoped we had the rest on hand at home. We did. This was the first pie I have ever made, so I just made the classic Apple Pie out of the Taste of Home Cookbook. It was good. Nothing spectacular but a good, classic pie. Next time, I think I'll try this one but I already took the pictures and wanted to show you how easy this was. I'll probably try to improve it next time by making my own crust too. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Homeade Croutons

These are the best thing ever and so easy. They remind me of the croutons I used to get in High school during 10 minute break. How weird is that to think that they served croutons as a snack option? But they did. And they were only $.10! These taste a lot like those. Oh the memories. And the breath! Take 2-3 hamburger buns, hot dog buns, french bread, loaf bread - just whatever you have on hand really. Cut it into cubes. Drizzle it with Olive Oil. Or veggie oil works fine too. Sprinkle on Garlic Powder. Or Garlic Salt. Or both. Bake at 350 for 10-20 minutes, taking them out now and then to stir, re-season, add more oil...whatever you think they need. Voila! And now you have homeade croutons. I really did make these on Sunday but I have no form of recipe. Just call me Rachael Ray. There are so many factors - how dry your bread is, how salty you like them, how garlicy you like them, ect. But they are SO easy and SO good. Definitely an easy addition to a big fresh salad. You may want to skip them if you are eating salad to be healthy. Easy they are, healthy they are not.

Apple Pie

The ingredients: Peel and core 6 cups of apples.
Place in a bowl with water so they don't brown. (I made this step up but it seemed to work!) Combine the dry ingredients.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of saltAdd the apples.Unfold the crust and place in it a pie plate. Add the apples.Unfold the 2nd half of the crust and place over the apples. Seal the edges and cut holes in the top.Brush top with water and 1 Tablespoon sugar. Cover edges with foil and put a cheesy heart on top for Valentines Day.Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Jump up and down with giddiness over the fact you just made your first pie and it actually turned out!


Happy Valentines Day!


Heavy Heart

My heart is very heavy tonight. I don't even want to write it. I don't want to type the words - because that means it is true. Dutch died early Friday morning and apparently I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was for this. I knew he wasn't in the best of shape. He had been having seizures, having a hard time breathing, and just wasn't himself lately but I never, ever, in a million years, thought it would be this hard. He has been a part of Tj's life for 13 years, mine for 6. I would guess I've spent more time with him the past 6 years than I've spent with Tj. Ha. He was always here. Always home. I was never, ever alone.
I had the most horrible, horrible dreams last night. I keep waiting to wake up and this not be true. I keep wondering what went wrong. Why? What happened? Did I let him play too hard Thursday night? I knew he was supposed to be taking it easy, but him, Tylee, and Boone were having so much fun. I text Tj at some point during the evening that "All three kids are really worked up tonight!" Dutch wasn't acting tired or sick, he was thoroughly enjoying himself. I take comfort in that.
So many people are sad right now, as I assume some of you reading will be also. He was a very loved, very happy dog. He brought joy to so many people. Last night as I was laying awake, I was thinking of all the people that had us, and Dutch, on their minds. I hate that others are grieving but I'm so very happy that they knew him, as I'm sure they are too. I hope to share some stories soon - some of my very favorite memories that I want Tylee to know and that I don't want to forget. I just can't right now.
This is where he sat while I was on the computer. I'm missing him so much right now. I keep waiting to hear the tapping of his paws coming down the hall to join me.


Happy Birthday to me!

I have no idea what I'm doing. I really don't. I'm not claiming to know, either. What I do know, is editing your pictures with Lightroom - makes an absolute AMAZING, unmistakable difference in your pictures. See?

And now I own it myself! Thanks, Mom!



I lost. My vote was Wistrom (aka Grant Wistrom, a Defensive player back in the day for Nebraska) but Tj wouldn't have it. Apparently everyone else agreed with Tj too. I like the name Boone - the problem is that was one of our little boy names. I'm just having a hard time switching it from a kid name to a dog name. But it's growing on me. The dog is growing on me too. I was not looking forward to the puppy stage but so far, he has been fantastic! I've never been a dog person. In fact, when Tj told me he had a dog, I was immediately turned off. My perception of dogs, before Dutch, was big smelly creatures that didn't mind and were hard to potty train. Dutch definitely doesn't fit that description.
Jealous, needy, and stingy with his toys? Now that is a descritpion of Dutch right now. However, so is full-of-life, has new found energy, and is playing more than I've seen him play in a long time. He is adapting well to the new puppy with a few stringes of jealousy here and there.
Speaking of adapting - Tylee is IN LOVE. "Doooooog. No Night-night! Dooooog!" She doesn't want to do anything without that dog. No baths, no dinner, no playing babies. And boy, oh boy, is she bossy! She has been talking 90 mph since we got the poor thing. "Hold dog," and wants it to set in her lap. "Pet dog," and pets it herself, as well as wants you to pet it. The poor dog can't hardly do anything without her approval. She'll run after him full-force, stop dead in her tracks, swing her arm around, and holler at him to come here. If it walks towards the hallway? "No dog." If it jumps on Dutch? "No dog." If chews on her baby? Oh no! You better watch out! It is no longer true love. "Baaaaaabbbbyyyy! Noooo dooooog!" And gets a smack to the head. Poor thing.So far, he has been the best little sport ever. We are crate-training him and at least under my supervision, we've yet to have any accidents in the house or his crate! He is sleeping by the front door at night with just a few yelps here and there when he needs to go outside. Its almost like having a newborn again! Like I said before, I've been pleasantly suprised with the process so far. I don't know if we are doing things different this time, got a smart dog, the breed, or just his personality but if he keeps this up, he is gonna have my heart in no time. Just look at that cute little face!