Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time flies...

Dear Blog,

Time flies. I'm so sorry to have neglected you recently.

In my paltry attempt to make up for my busy, whirwind life these past two weeks, here's a bit about what's been happening. I hope you enjoy the catchup!

1. 35 weeks came...

and went.

2. Last weekend was spent making freezer meals. Unfortunately, I didn't have the energy (nor free iota of time or set of hands) to document it, but here's how I helped get us stocked up for when baby arrives:
  • made two fryer chickens in the crockpot--season and forget it!--that turned into 2 8X8 pans of chicken spaghetti hotdish; 4 two-cup containers of cooked, cut chicken ready for whatever stirfrys or yummy dishes we can dream up; and 3 quarts of scrumptious chicken broth.
  • made one large pork roast in the crockpot--season and forget it!--that turned into 4 large containers of pulled pork for sandwiches, Thai dishes, or something equally as good.
  • 7 two-cup containers of spaghetti bolognese sauce
  • 6 two-cup containers of sloppy joe mix
  • 2 loaves of pumpkin bread
  • 1 loaf of zucchini bread
  • 1 large batch of granola
  • 4 pizza dough balls
  • 28 breakfast burrito wraps
  • 18 chorizo, bean, and rice burritos
  • 2 8X8 pans of lasagna
And I think that was it. All in all, I probably spent about 11 hours over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the kitchen prepping, cooking, and cleaning. So not terrible. And now we've got a whole lot of food to use up once Baby Melbs arrives! A small price to pay for how useful it will be later on!

3. We received a lovely package from my mother-in-law, Mary, that contained the beautiful and gorgeous quilt she made for the crib. It matches the set that we were interested in perfectly! I couldn't believe it!
Isn't it just darling? I can't wait to wrap up Baby Girl in it and snuggle her tight as I rock her to sleep :-)

Also included in the care package (which I love to get, even at this age...I must remember to pass those onto our daughter when she's old enough to get mail!) was another quilt we can use for downstairs, some clothes, Jake's baby blankets (which almost made me cry--how sweet we get to wrap up our little girl in all that history!), and a strand of butterflies to hang, and I thought, "Hmmm...I bet this would make a great mobile for the crib!" And with a little finagling, here's what I came up with:

4. Jake and I also finished setting up the nursery--what a relief! Well, I should say ALMOST as we still have a small bookshelf to put together. But that'll be easy-peasy. So here's the snuggling corner, all set up...

...and the changing table, all ready to go. We're using disposables for the first week or so until the meconium poops have passed and because we had them to use up! Then it'll be onto the cloth diapering adventure...

...and then the crib corner. Oh wait, what do I see? Is that a letter? Yes, but it's the one I gave before--in place! The rest have been photoshopped out :-)
And because I don't want to torture my dear mother toooo much (because I know the effects of Karma), here's another letter, but where it will go, who shall know!

5. 36 weeks is here--one more week until full term! Both Jake and I are having a hard time really comprehending that Baby Melbs could arrive at any time. We're trying to savor our time together, in this state of two-person family that we're in right now, before we welcome our sweet addition and have to reconfigure how we operate and function. Which might take some time, but, as the point of this post goes--time flies! So either way--we'll survive, and hopefully well enough to savor all the moments of Baby Girl's infancy to the max!

So, Blog, I hope that this has made you feel better about my recent two-week absence. I did miss you and hope to update you with more cheer and happenings soon.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Last Getaway

The Last Getaway, the "babymoon," the "final trip you're going to have just as a couple before you get saddled down kids." We had been talking about taking this kind of trip for quite some time now, and because circumstances afforded that we could NOT just jet off to Jamaica again (dang!), we opted for another, short getaway that we both love to do: camping!

(reader's thoughts) Wait! Stop. Seriously? Alyssa, are you nuts? Aren't you, like, really pregnant right now?

Answer: why yes, yes I am really pregnant now. Here's the obligatory weekly update to prove it.

Ah! It's growing!
But camping is something that Jake and I try to do at least once a year. Now, it's only ever been once a year even though we say we're going to go more often, and I just couldn't fathom the thought of not even making it out ONCE this year. So on the first free weekend we've had in ages, I said, "Honey, let's go camping!" And so we made our reservation for a campsite at Raccoon Creek State Park, one of my all-time favorite hiking destinations (and Mom, don't worry, it's only about an hour's drive from Pittsburgh, so if I would have gone into early labor, we would have been just a short ride away!).

One of the things that Jake and I love most about camping is cooking over the campfire. We pride ourselves on cooking some pretty fabulous, scrumptious meals while we're camping (a skill taught to me by my Dad--Happy Father's Day!). So for Friday night, we had a version of "taco in a bag." For those who've ever been to a small-town fair in MN, you know exactly what I'm talking about, but it's taco fillings stuffed into a personal size bag of Doritos. Scrumdidliumptious. Only this time, I tried to be "healthy" and got the baked Doritos instead (never mind it still is laden with MSG and artificial colorings), so we ended up making giant taco salads using some frozen taco meat I had stashed in the freezer.

Taco filling turns into...
gigantic taco salads!
Then on Saturday morning--campfire coffee, fried ham and eggs, and toast. We used a half stick of butter for the meal, just to give you a gauge on how good it tasted!

And then, oh then, came the best part of this meal. The bananas I had brought with were almost all destroyed by various things being thrown on top of them. So I salvaged what I could, fried them up and put them on toast. Next best thing to fresh banana bread that I can think of. They were so sweet and caramelized!
And on Saturday evening--homemade brats, cheesy potato packets, and baked beans. Nothing more classic than that!

And for desert: a twist on the S'more using Mr. Goodbar instead of Hershey's chocolate. I think it's my new favorite thing!

Jake and I also love to go hiking. So even though I worried about sending myself into pre-term labor, I couldn't resist taking Beau out into the great outdoors, letting him offleash, and seeing the beauty of nature. Our first hike on Saturday ended up being considerably longer than either of us imagined. Close to 6 miles and 3 hours later, we finally returned to our car! Sunday morning's hike went much quicker, although in some ways it certainly wasn't easier. It started off with a huge ascent (let's just say I didn't stop sweating after that point), and then it went down into this valley with a babbling brook. It was quite serene and beautiful. Here were a few pics we captured from our hikes:

Ferns, ferns, everywhere! It makes me feel like I'm in The Land Before Time.
A random old oil barrel in a stream...
We saw these flowers everywhere! Don't know what they are, but they sure are pretty!
Happiest puppy on the block :-)

Water droplets everywhere. I bet the humidity was at least 85% the entire time we were there.
Shoo, dragonfly!

At this point, Jake goes "Geez, it sure looks like you're having fun!" I was just trying to keep the little, pesky gnats out of my eyes!
Another cool thing I personally enjoy about camping is how easy it is to set up a little make-shift "home away from home." And undeniably, it's pretty easy because I have husband who knows what he's doing in that department!

Jake tending the fire with his poking stick (insert funny comment here).
Jake with his hatchet, trying to divide some of the wood...
...and hatcheting in action!

Relaxing in the sunlight.
And laughing in the breeze :-)
Even when it means protecting me from wild animals, like this young raccoon who came wandering over to our campsite before dinner on Saturday.
Can you spot him?

There he is!
So while it wasn't a glamorous babymoon to an exotic location, we both had a wonderful time basking in each other's company without a care in the world. That being said, we're already talking about how we can bring Baby Girl camping next year. We're going to start her off young around the campfire :-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ticking Off the To-Do List

I love to-do lists. It's a habit I acquired from my mom, and it's one of those stabilizing forces in my life that keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. I make them often on used envelopes that I pull from the recycling. Jake can attest to finding such scribbled lists scattered about the house! Writing everything down in one place makes me feel like I am lightening the load on my brain, and it has often stopped a headache in its track. Now you might think making a to-do list would have the opposite effect. "Oh no! Look at everything I have to do!" But I look at it differently. It's there to-do, but only has to be crossed off. And oh, the joy of crossing things off the to-do list is like no other, where one can get out any frustration and anger by crossing out the item over and over and over again. Not that I would EVER do that or anything...

So here were some things I ticked off my to-do list this weekend:

Making a Moby wrap

A Moby wrap is the name of a particular brand of this product (think how we say "Kleenex" to mean "tissue," even when it's Puffs). The wrap is a long piece of cloth that is used to carry baby around in so baby feels close, snug, and secure and Mama has her hands free so she can get some things done! Moby wraps are ridiculously expensive in the stores ($45-65 per wrap), and a friend of mine had made her own using fabric from Jo-Ann's. And you know what? For about $30 and an hour of my time, I now have TWO, count them, TWO wraps.

The wraps were incredibly easy to make. I bought some 60" knit fabric from Jo-Ann's that had a little bit of stretch to it. I purchased a little over 6 yards, even though I knew I would only use 5 to 5 1/2 yards of it, so now I've got some scraps to work with, too :-)

I then pinned the two halves together, which took a while since it was so long.
I just love this picture...the rolling mountains of fabric!

I measured 5 1/2 yards out and cut width wise. Then I cut the piece of cloth lengthwise. Look how long it is!

Now, I had heard that you could make this a no-sew project. I was honestly a bit skeptical and was convinced I'd have to zig zag around the outside. But you know what? The fabric curls beautifully along the edges, so guess who didn't have to sew a thing? This gal!
Can you see it curl on the side? Curling = no sew

And here's me modeling the wrap. It looks silly because a) I'm still pregnant, and b) there's no baby in it, but you get the general idea. And of course the wrap does not have nice finished edges or a center panel like the Moby, but I'll take this any day!

Nursery Artwork
When Jake and I first unveiled the nursery on the blog, you may recall that we had purchased wall decals from the set we really liked and had begun decorating with them. The only problem was that we couldn't put them directly on the wall because the blue in decals was too close to the blue on the walls and just blended right in.

What to do, what to do? We decided they would look really pretty on some plain white canvases with white mats. So we caught an awesome sale at a local art store, bought the supplies, and away we went!

I unfortunately don't have any pics of the process as it was done in many stages over many weeks, but it, too, was incredibly easy.

1. Buy supplies.
2. Put decals on canvas.
3. Hot glue and tape canvas and mat together.
4. Hot glue and tape ribbon onto the back of the project.

And done!! For under $10, we have 3 great pieces of artwork to hang in the nursery. Here's what they look like. Hopefully we'll get them up on the wall soon!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Letter "A"

This blog post today is brought to you by the letter "A"--

A is for "absenteeism by blogger." Sorry--I'll blame my lack of blogging on the heat. It's been awful at times. Thank goodness for...


A is for "ABC Block"...

I crocheted both of these recently. I was quite proud of them, until I got this fabulous rattle from my friend Victoria. I am still proud of my blocks, but I bow to her mad knitting skills.

A is for AMAZING garage sale finds! The Highland Park garage sales were this last weekend, and I was fortunate enough to bum around for many hours with Courtney and the kids, Tamara, Angie, and my lovely husband. Here's our $8 exersaucer--it'll work beautifully!

A is for "The other word for bum" wipes. That's right--I made cloth diaper wipes! A could also be for "assigning new purposes to old things," since the back was made of soft, old t-shirts. It was the easiest thing in the world. Cut out 8" X 8" squares. Zig zag around the edges. Done and done. I wish all projects were so quick!

Cardboard templates = awesomeness.

A is for Alyssa at 33 weeks--AAAAhhhh! As Jake says, "You're belly is getting so big!" I agree. It's hard to imagine it will continue to grow.

A is for...wait, is that a letter to hang on the nursery wall? Sure is! So here's a clue for all those who are wondering about a name...but where does the A go? At the beginning? At the end? Or somewhere in between? Only time will tell, but feel free to take guesses!