Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in review....

2012 is ending, and it's ending quickly.  We are so blessed to have another year under our belt and what a great year it has been! Here's the highlights:

-Daniel and I got a year older. (The numbers aren't necessary.)
-Our little snow bunny Hayden was born! (Birth story)
-We celebrated and had a fun little train party when Leeland turned 2.
-Daniel graduated from the Police Academy and subsequently started patrol.
-We bought our 1st home! It was a long hard road to get it, but we got a house!!
-With the close of the year, Hayden is now 10 months old and has barreled through SO many milestones, sitting up, eating solid foods, crawling and 2013 will most definitely bring walking.
-I had the pleasure of getting to know some more awesome moms at MOPS.
-Leeland is also growing up a little too quick, he potty trained and got his big boy bed.

2012 brought both stress and blessings-- we are so happy to have so many wonderful memories from the year.  Counting our blessings and looking forward to another happy year ahead. :)

Happy New Year Friends!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Christmas Rundown

I look forward to Christmas from January 1 each year and then every year it comes and I'm a little overwhelmed with everything.  We just have lots of family to see, and it's really difficult, even 4 years of marriage later to find the balance in our seeing each of our families and balancing family traditions with making our own traditions.  Here's a quick run down of what our last week has been like--

Wednesday the 19th:  Daniel's parents came over to have dinner and exchange gifts with the boys.  Much of his extended family is in Michigan so they would be headed to MI soon and wanted the boys to get their gifts before then.  This year was supposed to be our year to go to MI for Christmas too (we do every other), but unfortunately Daniel couldn't get off work.  (A couple of their gifts below....)

Saturday the 22nd:  My Sisters and step-mom came over to bake goodies.  It's a yearly tradition and we had some fun exchanging what we each had previously made and making some stuff.  I was extra excited to host this year at our new home!

Sunday the 23rd:  Me and the boys got up and went to church (Daniel was sleeping from work) and I told Leeland we had a surprise after church.  We headed after church to see Santa, and apparently all the other parents in our town had the same idea because the line to see Santa was out the door.  We stood in line barely moving for all of 20 minutes and had to head home for naps.  Leeland was so sad but I told him we'd go back.  I woke him up early that afternoon and went back to try to see Santa before we had to go to a family get together and it was perfect-- only like 5 families in line.  After seeing Santa, we went to a get together to have dinner with my Granny and her extended family. (And yes, Hayden cried.)

Monday the 24th: Christmas Eve was mostly uneventful during the day-- hanging out at home much of the day playing with all the toys that the boys had already received.  That evening we went to my Granny's house to open gifts from her and my/their cousins.  And then we went shopping at Target, simply because it sounded like the fun thing to do the night of Christmas Eve, and we had a gift card so, why not? And then once we got home and got the boys to bed it was time for a marathon Christmas wrapping party, because after all, Santa was coming.  Daniel also got the boys new table and chairs put together.
Tuesday the 25th:  CHRISTMAS!! We all woke up about 8am and opened stockings and gifts.  Then the boys got to play a little bit before we headed over to my parent's house for traditional Christmas morning breakfast-- biscuits, gravy, sausage, peanut butter chip pancakes, quiche, egg nog.... Nom, nom, nom!  (An aside, if you've never put Reese peanut butter chips into your pancakes, you haven't lived!!  Don't add them to the batter because they'll just sink, but pour each pancake to the pan and just as they start bubbling before you flip, sprinkle some in, then flip the pancake and they cook in there. They are heavenly!) And then after breakfast the boys opened up some more gifts!

It was quite the whirlwind! Leeland was confused for a few days after-- asking whose house we were going to next.  I guess he got accustomed to going places and opening gifts everyday.  Since Christmas, it's all been very relaxed around here, mostly hanging out at home and playing with all of our loot.  I hope your Christmas was fabulous!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Treats (and recipes)

It's sort of become a yearly tradition that I make little holiday treat bags/buckets for some of my friends and family.  It started with my family-- myself, my mom, sisters and Grandma get together every year and there's lots of baking and chocolate dipping fun.  We still get together, but I've taken some ideas here and there and done some baking on my own each year to give as gifts.  It's so much fun, and this year was even better because I had a little "helper"!  Each year I make a little assortment of things, and it's never the same assortment as the years past, though some "classics" stick around.

First up in the goodies was "Christmas Cheer Mix", which I apologize for not getting a picture of.  I don't really have a recipe per say for this one, but essentially you mix up some Cheerios (I used multi-grain because that makes it low fat and healthy... bahaha!), some peanuts, and some M&M's and then you smother it all in white chocolate.  Sounds simple, right?  Watch out, it's totally delicious and addicting.  Christmas Cheer mix is a family tradition.

The next thing in the buckets was chocolate dipped peanut butter pretzels.  Costco carries the MOST delicious peanut butter filled pretzels I have ever had in my entire life.  They are SO addicting, and the Kroh's are SO hooked on them.  A friend suggested chocolatizing them and I couldn't resist. Nom, nom, nom!
The next thing in the buckets was "Chocolate Dipped Snowballs."  They're sort of my grown up take on Rice Krispie Treats.  I use the basic rice krispie treat recipe, but instead make them with honey bunches of oats.  Roll them up into balls and then of course dip them in Chocolate.  Leeland loved mixing these up. 
Melt down 3 tablespoons of butter in a pot, then add a 10 ounce bag of marshmallows and melt those down.  Remove the pot from the heat and add in 6 cups of Honey Bunches of Oats and mix them up.  While they're warm roll up the balls and set them aside to "set."  Once they have set you dip them in your favorite melted chocolate.

Lastly this year in our buckets was Snickerdoodles! And here's the recipe for these lovelies:
2 sticks of butter                 3 cups flour
1 cup sugar                         1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup brown sugar           1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs                                 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla              Some cinnamon/Sugar

Cream the butter with the sugars, then add in the eggs and the vanilla.  Mix all your dry ingredients separately and then combine with your butter mixture until incorporated.  I apologize that I don't know exactly how much cinnamon and sugar I used for the next step, but I mixed up some cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and then as I scooped out balls of cookie dough, I rolled them in the cinnamon and sugar before placing them on the cookie sheets to bake.  Baked the cookies at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes (oven times may vary.)

And these are a couple of my buckets all done up-- I made the cards which state what's inside along with "Merry Christmas."  The buckets I bought from the Target dollar spot in September.  They had an assortment of colors at the time, but as soon as I saw the red and green, I had to scoop them up for this.  (Thinking ahead really pays off!)  They're off to the guys on Daniel's squad at work and some of our close friends to enjoy.  Do you have any Holiday recipes to share? I'm always up for trying some new stuff!

Oh and PS, we're in the single digits now!

"No poo" update

Well the move really threw me for a loop with my no-pooing for a little bit. (First started here.)  It was going so wonderfully at the apartment but then when we moved out into the country, I seemed to go through a second oily "transition period."  I fully blame it on the hard well water, but I'm not really for certain.  Anyway, several people have asked about me no-pooing and about my recipe and such and I finally feel like I have tweaked things enough that I have a recipe for you.  Feel free to try it out and tweak it to fit you and your hair style, and let me know how it goes.

My shampoo is 1 1/2 cups boiling water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.  Since moving to hard well water, I have found that boiling water works the best.  I make it in advance and let it cool and keep it in an old salsa jar in the shower.  Be careful when you mix the boiling water and baking soda because it will bubble up a lot.  And don't forget to let it cool before putting it on your head! (Sad that I feel like I have to say that?)

My "conditioner" I don't have exact measurements for because I just fill and old spaghetti sauce jar.  I found that the apple cider vinegar, though I love the shine and smoothness it gives my hair, it was making my hair a bit limp so I had to cut back some.  I currently fill my jar 20-25% full with ACV and 75-80% warm water. 

We're now two months into the no-pooing experience and I'm at a point where I only wash my hair like every 3-4 days now.  Definitely saves me some time getting ready, since you know, I do have two small children.  And I still really feel like it looks and feels (and smells) great! 

PS. I still LOVE my hot rollers!! :D

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hayden got the boot.

So the title seems harsh, but my emotions have been a bit back and forth.  Hayden got the boot out of our bed the other night.  Oh yea, I guess it's time to confess to the whole world that he's been sleeping in our bed for the past 9 1/2 months.  It's kind of a sore subject and hard to bring up because there is so much debate about it that I feel like anyone I tell is gonna look at me like I'm a crazy person.  (Heck, even my own family has rolled their eyes and preached to me about how terrible it is.) So many people have been brainwashed to believe that co-sleeping is such a terrible thing, when in fact it's really quite lovely... and beautiful. 

So here's the back story-- co-sleeping/bed sharing with Hayden was not something that we were intending to do, it kind of just happened.  We never slept with Leeland.  He did sleep in a bassinet by my side of the bed for the first 3 months of his life.  Then he outgrew the bassinet and moved to his crib in his room.  When Hayden was born, we intended to have him sleep in the pack & play and eventually move into Leeland's room (2 bedroom apartment at the time).  But you see, all adults, children, babies have very different personalities, and Hayden was a bit more "needy." 

I can't really pin point when the bed sharing began-- when he was first born, I was such a good little patient at the hospital and followed their rules about putting baby in the bassinet while I was sleeping.  When we got home from the hospital, my milk was coming in and I was quite literally constantly nursing Hayden so I don't remember putting him down much during that time period, and then I think the 1st time I actually "intentionally" slept with him was when he was put in the hospital for RSV when he was about 10 days old.  He stayed in the hospital for 2 days to be monitored because he was struggling to breath and the hospital let me share a room with him-- they sort of had to since I was his only food source.  I remember throwing myself a pity party and being so sad because he was so little and he was having so much trouble breathing to even eat, I sobbed and held him all night long.  (...and only one of our nurses made a snide comment about it.)

Somewhere along the line it just became easier to bring him to bed.  Caring for a toddler and a baby is hard work.  I was exhausted and it was easier for me to rest and be able to breastfeed if he was in our bed.  Then as months started to go by, he refused to go to sleep without me.  I felt like there were a few nights I tried to put him down in the pack & play and it was an hour long fight of rocking, patting, rubbing, bouncing, nursing and it would all be wasted when he started screaming as soon as I put him down. (And I DO NOT believe in crying it out methods!)

When we moved, I thought it'd be easier because he had his own space away from us, but then he started teething and waking several more times in the night so after one night of putting him downstairs and him waking up within an hour, he was back in our bed.  (Sorry, but I'm not going up and down the stairs in the dark several times a night.) 

....And then finally.... within the last couple weeks he had gotten to where he wasn't nursing to sleep anymore.  He would still nurse in bed, but then pull away, hunker down and get cozy and fall asleep on his own.  I guess also nine months was my limit, I was starting to feel like we needed some space between us.  I'm a stay at home Mom, so it's nice to have that feeling of putting the babies to bed and having "me time", time without kids grabbing at me, or needing diapers changed.  I love my boys and I love my job, but sometimes I just need space.... I also miss my husband.  With his schedule, it's almost like 1/2 the week we only get a few hours, so the other 1/2 of the week, I want to spend time together-- stay up talking in bed into the wee hours chatting like school girls (haha), or just snuggling.... it was time to try again to put Hayden in his own bed.

So the 1st night, I nursed him and rocked him and laid him down in his crib and he whimpered a bit-- I rubbed his back lightly while "sshh-ing" and within two minutes he was asleep.  I kind of am in shock at how easy it was!  I guess he just needed to leave our bed in his own time when he was ready.... Oh, and let me not forget to mention that, he slept through the night!!  I woke up and it was daylight and I had that freak out moment that something had went wrong.  I'm still in shock!  I don't want to jinx it because tonight we're only on night 3, but at least I now know that it's possible! 

I'm a mixed bag of emotions, I feel so rested, I feel rejuvenated from having "me time," I feel happy and sad that our baby boy is growing up, and at the same time, I really miss snuggling with my boy! 

And not that I have permission to even share, but for Daniel to have been so hesitant and scared about us bedsharing in the beginning, it was a little crazy to hear him say that he misses snuggling with Hayden too.-- oh yea, I didn't mention above the fact that Daniel was actually not into bed sharing at all in the beginning.  He told me a handful of times that it made him nervous, he didn't sleep well, he didn't like it.  He would never say those things in a way of trying to force me to do anything I wasn't comfortable with, he was just nervous because Hayden was so little at the time. 

Just so neat to see him growing up right before our eyes-- so many memories and sweet snuggles with our little booger that will never be forgotten.  Such a sweet precious time it has been.  Resting my head tonight feeling very blessed to have gotten to share those memories with our littlest man.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tis The Season....

I at least waited until December to blog about Christmas... but the reality is that my Christmas tree was up the week before Thanksgiving! (That's how I roll.)  I'm a bit of a Christmas freak, and that's my choice of words.  I will say that we didn't put lights outdoors until last night-- a few of our neighbors beat us to that, but it was a matter of securing outdoor lights (1st house... woot woot!) and deciding what exactly we wanted to do with them. 
 Leeland has his very own Christmas tree in his room this year-- a Target special.  It's only 4 feet tall, pre-lit with an array of colors.  He was and is still so excited about it... not sure how we'll talk him into letting us put it away once Christmas is over.  It has a few blue ornaments on it, but we mostly got it so that it can be our Jesse Tree.  You can read about how we started the Jesse Tree tradition last year here.  This year we've graduated up a bit and have a full set of handmade ornaments as opposed to the paper ones-- we did a Jesse Tree ornament exchange with MOPS.  It was so fun and such a neat thing to have, I hope to do a 2nd set next year so that both boys can have them when they move out and begin their own family traditions.
 Putting the man to work- cleaning gutters and hanging lights at the same time.... he's a keeper! ;)
 A view of our Christmas lights from the front yard.  We ended up going with Icicle lights this year, because they were gifted to us and therefore free.  I think they look beautiful and they really light up the house.
 Twinkle, twinkle! So beautiful!  Still no Christmas wreath on the door because I'm so hooked on my mustard yellow yarn wreath that I made which you can see here. 
The littlest Kroh walks with assistance!  Slow down baby Kroh!  Just couldn't resist posting this happy smile.
 Our Christmas tree-- and you can see the hand print salt dough ornaments we made of the boys.  The green is Hayden's and the red is Leeland's.  Leeland actually helped making the salt dough and he had so much fun "rolling out the pizza."  This is the perfect age!  He just wants to help with everything and it's so sweet.
A bannister to decorate? Say what!  Another year of my Starbucks recycles-- those little red mittens that I hang everywhere each year were left over from Starbucks after Christmas one year, there original purpose was to hold gift cards.  The little red stockings had gingerbread biscottis in them. (Yum!)

30 Days of Thanksgiving: Days 21-30

You can read my first two Thanksgiving, thankfulness posts here and here.

Day 21:
Thankful for play dates

Day 22:
Happy thanksgiving everyone!! Feeling so blessed, enjoying snuggles with my boys and food with friends and family today.

Day 23:
I am not black Thursday/Friday shopping and I'm content. Thankful to be at a place in life where I am content.

Day 24:
Tonight I'm thankful for cheesecake.... Yea, I went there.

Day 25:
I'm gonna be real, today has been incredibly frustrating and it's only 3pm, but I can be thankful for loving, awesome, supportive in-laws. Lunch time was great-- the rest... Terrible.

Day 26:
Thankful for the MOPS Jesse tree ornament exchange. I love the mood and focus set by the Jesse tree tradition. Excited to have a set of Jesse Tree ornaments to replace my paper ones. And praising the Lord I was able to finish making my ornaments for the exchange. :)

Day 27:
Thankful for a pediatrician that we love and good check-ups for both boys. Baby Hayden at 9 months is 19lbs 10oz and 27 inches-- little butterball is growing fast! :)

Day 28:
Thankful for recycling! I love that our recycling bin is currently overflowing and our trash can has had 1 bag in it for over a week. I love lessening our impact and I love that a small step like putting a can in a blue bin can lead people to make bigger changes like we have.

Day 29:
I'll let Leeland do the thankful today....
Leeland says, "I love pumpkin muffins and I love heater" :D

Day 30:
Thankful for lawyer spam. Maybe one of them will help me avoid driving school.