Apparantly the Lord chose the last few days to remind me of how insanely blessed I am. It's actually really hard for me to write this post right now because I am finding myself at a loss for words. Crazy, huh? Me. No words. I guess that just goes to show how humbling it can be when you find yourself smacked across the face with truth.
I am loved beyond measure. My life is amazing. And I have been blessed abundantly. That's the truth.
Over the past couple days, I have found things on my doorstep and in my mailbox that I did not ask for, that I did not pay for, that I did not order. It started when the baby food containers showed up with absolutely no indication whatsoever of who had sent them....and kept going from there.
This is just a small sampling of the gifts that have been sent to me in only a couple days. I couldn't fit all of it in the photo so I had to pick and choose. Scrapbook punches, personalized blog cards with a photo of my kids, a handmade card, handwritten notes, a gift card, a scrapbooking magazine, crayons for Isaiah, coloring books, and the list goes on.
Why was all this swag suddenly dropped in my lap? For absolutely no reason other than that I am blessed. Every single one of these out-of-nowhere gifts is attached to someone who has blessed my life beyond anything I can describe. Once again, I am stumbling to find the correct way to punch into my keyboard how floored I am that I am so lucky to have people in my life who would make a card just to say I'm thinking of you. I have a friend who took time out of her exceedingly busy schedule to make custom cards just for me, wrap them in tissue paper like a present and then handwrite a note to me. I have family who suddenly chose to grab a gift card at Target for "whatever I need" and picked up gifts for my kids too. I have been blessed with still more people who rewarded me for doing nothing beyond choosing to change the way I eat. Seriously. Wow.
You all know who you are and I know you all are reading this. Let me make myself very clear. Thank you just doesn't cut it. I want you all to know that these gifts, as precious to me as they are, mean nothing in comparison to the amazing gifts I have received in all of you. What did I ever do to deserve such blessings as you in my life? I am infinitely blessed because of you and you can be sure I'll be sending up some serious praise to our Father for reminding me of how much he loves me....through all of you. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
Ah, a week back to normal! Evan is home, safe and sound after his business trip to China. We're able to get back in our regular routine somewhat. As always, I invite you to enjoy how others' Project Life albums are coming along by visiting The Mom Creative via the button below.
Sunday, March 21st - I made three batches of baby food today! So far, Micah's favorites are sweet potatoes and squash, but we're working on introducing some new flavors.
Monday, March 22nd - We had to rehearse in the Middle School library today, but our cast made the most of it. Here, Ally and Mason are rehearsing the "breakup scene."
Tuesday, March 23rd - I swear, I don't know where he gets this.
Wednesday, March 24th - Looks like Isaiah is enjoying having his Daddy home!
Thursday, March 25th - It looked like such an ordinary box that Bob walked into the computer lab with this morning. I knew he was up to no good, but I opened it the same and immediately jumped a foot and squealed like a girl when the mouse popped out!
Friday, March 26th - Micah is trying to hard to crawl recently! He is getting much better at scooting by flailing his arms and legs and he can really lift himself up so well now.
Saturday, March 27th - Nothing makes for a fun afternoon like wearing underwear on your head! Isaiah insisted that even the dog wear a pair!
I can't guarantee I will be able to fully document very single baby food recipe I make, but I'm going to do my best to share on the blog as much as I can. I think a lot of moms (or dads!) are afraid to try making their own baby food because it may seem like a lot of work. Of course, it does take a bit more effort than just grabbing the container off the shelf in the store, but the benefits are totally worth it.
First things first, check out my previous post to read about the basic supplies you need to make your own baby food. A food processor, a recipe book, ice cube trays, and Ziploc bags are really all you need! So dive on in. I promise, it's more fun than you think.
2 apples (stick to Golden Delicious or Royal Gala. Other varieties might be too tart for Baby)
1/4 cup water or unsweetened apple juice
Peel, core, and chop your fruit. Put the fruit into a saucepan together with the apple juice or water and cinnamon, cover, and cook over low heat until tender. By the way, this smells absolutely amazing while it is cooking.
(I did a double batch, which is why my skillet is so full)
Once cooked, spoon your fruit into your food processor and blend until smooth. It works best if you puree while the fruit is still hot. Use that cooking liquid too!
Spoon puree into ice cube trays and cover with plastic wrap. I had enough leftovers to put into a side container that I put in the fridge for quick feeding at the next meal. Freeze and store cubes in labeled Ziploc bags.
This one is about as easy as it comes and both my kids have absolutely loved it! Micah gets crabby when I only give him three cubes of it!
P.S. That side container never even made it into Micah's tummy because his big brother came in about 3 minutes after that photo was taken and ate the whole thing. I guess this particular baby food isn't just for babies!
Finally, thank you so very much to the mystery person who sent us a box of the Stay-Fresh baby food containers I had mentioned in that first baby food post! There was no gift message or anything else to let us know who had sent it, but we are sincerely thankful! I can't wait to test them out the next time I whip up a batch of baby food!
To the untrained eye, it would seem ridiculous that I would be downstairs working on my scrapbooks for five hours and only get this much done. For those of you who scrapbook, you totally get it! I still kick it old school - paper, slicer, glue, etc. Digital layouts are so cool, but there is something very cathartic about slicing the paper and messing around with different configurations with paper. Anyway, here is what I was able to churn out during my five hour scrap session Saturday night! Click on the photos to see them bigger!!
5 months - A pretty simple layout for Micah's book. The journaling on the right pulled his milestones directly from my blog post! I goofed up on the "n" and had to cut it again because I added the shadow feature by mistake and so it is thicker than the others. Oh well! I was out of the yellow paper, so I was stuck with it!
Materials: Cricut (Cuttin' Up and George cartridges), Patterned Paper - Martha Stewart
Remember when I couldn't decide which photo to use for Project Life? I finally got to scrap all four finalists and then some! I used a sketch from Creating Keepsakes magazine for this one (Mar/Apr 2010, page 68, "Ladies Who Brunch"), but I turned it into a two-pager. I love how the red of the tire swing and Isaiah's cheeks is picked up in the layout. The flower embellies and some of the stars are accented with glitter, but it's hard to tell on the photo. I'm very pleased with this one!
Materials: Felt flowers - Martha Stewart Crafts, Blue letter stickers - American Crafts, Rub-ons - Making Memories, Red felt letter stickers - Making Memories, Glitter - Stickles
Quite possibly one of my new favorite layouts. I loved this photo of Micah sleeping and I knew it deserved its own layout. Once I decided to use black cardstock for the background, the rest of the patterned papers just jumped out at me. Scraplifted from this layout from Janna Wilson!
Materials: Black cardstock - Bazzill, Patterned paper & circle embellie - Scenic Route
Fellow scrapbookers, do you spend this much time on your layouts too? Or and I just exceptionally slow? That's a distinct possibility. Also, do you have any particular favorite designers? Are you a Sassafrass Lass or a Cosmo Cricket? Scenic Route or Doodlebug? Spill it!!
Don't get me wrong; I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I love that I've lost weight since December. I love that for the first time in I don't know how long, I can actually look at a photo of myself and not shudder in disgust. I love that my muffin top is no longer the size of one of those massive muffin/cupcake pans they sell on TV. I love that I only have one chin. I love that I don't have to wear maternity clothes anymore while I am NOT pregnant. I love that people notice and comment on my weight loss. I love how much better I feel, even after only losing a relatively small amount of weight.
Here I am at Christmas in 2007 - that's baby Isaiah. Long hair, pretty chubby...but I had a newborn so I wasn't too hard on myself.
However, by July of 2008, I looked like this. Not loving the double chin action there. I was probably at around my biggest non-preggo size.
This is at Christmas 2009, just before I had surgery. I had already been sick for a couple weeks, so I had started to drop a few pounds. That's 3 month old Micah I am holding.
And by the beginning of March 2010......Ta Da!! One chin!!!
I have never really been a skinny girl and I probably never will be, but I am ok with that. But I am not ok with going back to looking like that July 2008 photo. That is just scary! I'm totally thrilled with the direction I am headed.
However, there is a downside. I don't have any clothes that fit! I certainly can't afford to go overhauling my wardrobe, but going to work with a mean case of "saggy butt" really isn't doing it for me. Gee Sarah, why don't you just wear a belt? I'm glad you asked....my belt is too big now. I am also down to one, yes ONE bra. My sister-in-law asked, "How do you live??" when I told her that one. I even have this super-cute denim skirt that I totally splurged on some time ago - I think I spent like $40 on it, which is a LOT for me. Too bad the dang thing is a size 16 and it is starting to resemble a tent on me! I have a pile of jeans sitting in my closet that are now too big - all in size 14 and 16. People, I can literally pull them down and back up without unbuttoning or unzipping! My husband calls this "convenient," but I digress.
The point is simply this. Losing weight is awesome, but being without appropriate fitting clothes can be kind of a drag. Still, I am just thankful that I even have clothes, so I'll chalk this one up in the WIN column.
I did order some jeans from Old Navy online over the weekend (I had a 30% off coupon plus a $10 reward card), so we will see how those work out. I ordered size 12!!! Can you believe it?? Now if only I would get my lazy butt up and exercise, we would really be in business.
Isaiah, my darling boy. I put you down for your nap at 12:30, but you came out of your room about 20 minutes later and proceeded to scream and cry your eyes out while I tried to put you back to bed. You reached out for me and couldn't even articulate what made you so upset. I held you and let you cry. I sang softly to you and asked you to look at me. I said, "I'm here, Isaiah. Mommy's here. Everything is alright. You can go to sleep now." You asked me to sit, so I did. I sat in our book-reading chair while you still had waves of sobs shutter through your body. You clutched your monkey and your book and finally fell asleep.
While I sat there and watched you fall asleep, I tried to imprint the moment in my mind. You're growing up so fast, my sweet boy. Here are just a few of the things I love about you:
Your smile is one part sweet, one part mischief.
You have to take a book to bed with you.
You show empathy.
When all else fails, you still want your Mommy.
Sometimes when you get really upset, all it takes is a nice, long cuddle to calm you down.
You have a flair for the dramatic.
Never nervous or scared around others, you are my social butterfly.
I noticed you walking on your tiptoes today. When did you start doing that?
You made me a Mommy.
You ask me to sing the theme to Star Wars to you and you sing along with me.
You love to make a fort out of the couch cushions.
Your head still fits perfectly in the nape of my neck.
You love to giggle, sing, and dance.
If you had it your way, you'd be naked all the time and eat nothing but french fries.
My world changed when you entered it, Isaiah. Thank you. And please stop growing up so fast.
Project Life suddenly becomes a lot more interesting when your husband is away in China sending you photos of what's happening on his side of the world! This week will feature more photos from his business trip, so I hope you enjoy. As always, The Mom Creative is featuring many other Project Life posts. Here come the pics!
Sunday, March 14th - While Evan was travelling to Yuhuan, they stopped in Hangzhou (made famous as the place where Nixon stayed when he was the first president to visit Communist China). They have a market there that is pretty cool.
Monday, March 15th - Back here at home, the first of our spring flowers started popping up in our flower bed! Here are our first blooms of the year!
Tuesday, March 16th - The boys and I played outside after school today because it was so gorgeous out. I love this photo of Isaiah. The look of concentration, the flushed cheeks, the Badger sweatshirt. That is so my boy.
Wednesday, March 17th - Today was Micah's 6 month checkup. Our little leprechan isn't very little! He weighed in at 22 pounds, 9 ounces which is "off the charts" for his age. He is 27.5 inches tall and his head was 17 3/4 cm around.
Thursday, March 18th - (Evan's photo & caption) This home can be yours for a low, low price of dirt poor. It was exactly opposite one of our suppliers and even our Chinese counterparts were surprised by it. Tim is 5'10" and he really had to crouch in the doorway.
Friday, March 19th - My sweet Micah was so tired, but was refusing to sleep. He was bouncing away in his Jumperoo when all of a sudden he just passed out right there! So cute.
Saturday, March 20th - We were so excited for Daddy to get home, Micah was helping me track his flight status!
Now that Evan's back home for a while, we can get back into our normal routine a bit. That is, until he goes back to China next month! But, that's a post for another day. Have a wonderful week!
This just in....Micah likes to eat. Shocking, I know. Not only is he sucking down more than 30 ounces of formula every day, but he is now eating "real" food like you wouldn't believe! So far, we have tried sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, and a sweet potato/broccoli mixture. See for yourself, but I think Micah enjoys it!
I do make the majority of Micah's baby food myself. The single ingredient stuff is super-easy and with a good recipe book, you can make some pretty wonderful "meals" for your baby. I would really recommend it to anyone. It's cheaper than buying it premade and you know there won't be any preservatives or anything in it that you don't want there. Plus, you can really experiement with fun combinations of flavors to encourage your baby to eat a variety of things.
The basic supplies for baby food making are a good food processor (mine is by Cuisinart), ice cube trays for freezing your purees, and Ziploc bags to store your cubes in. I made my own food for Isaiah too and I highly recommend these two books: Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel and Blender Baby Food by Nicole Young. I make notes in the margins when I try a recipe about how easy it was to make and how it went over with my guinea pigs kids. I would really like to get these Stay-Fresh Baby Food Containers so I could store and freeze larger, travel-sizes of my baby food.
Making baby food at home is actually pretty fun and I'd say the results on Micah's face speak for themselves! What about you? Do you make your own baby food? Would you like to, but thought it would be too much work? How about and tips and tricks to share with this mommy? I'd love to hear your baby food making (or eating) stories!
One more question - Would you like me to make my adventures in making my own baby food a regular post topic? I'm happy to share my recipes & photos if you would find it helpful. Let me know!
My mom really was a huge help while Evan was in China. She stayed with us for a total of 7 days so I could go to my numerous jobs. Thank you so much, Mom! Isaiah and Micah really enjoyed having you here!
If you're an addicted blog stalker reader like me, then you probably use a reader or RSS feed of some kind to keep up with your numerous blogs. I don't know how I would keep track of all the blogs I read without one. One of the other great ways to stay up to date with your favorite blogs is through Facebook. If you have a Facebook account, have you become a fan of The Arena Update? Every post that gets published automatically hits the Facebook fan page and I will also periodically post quick little snippets, photos, and videos on the Facebook wall that don't make it to the official blog.
Click on the banner below to join us as a fan on Facebook!
Evan's latest group of photos from China is really cool and I'm glad he finally sent one with him in it! Here you go. Again, all the captions are from Evan.
The dining room at the hotel we are staying at. One of the nicer rooms we’ve eaten in this trip.
I thought the elephant outside the hotel was kind of cool.
Picture of the group, from left to right: Jason Yu (Engineering at MTV), Tim Narel (my boss and Director of Engineering and Quality), Tom Nissen (VP of Finance), Mr. Zhang (Runs YMV and is part owner in YMV), John Labellarte (COO and my boss’ boss), Daniel Zhu (China Purchasing Manager), JT Jiang (General Manager at MTV), yours truly.
Very old school China. They used stone from the surrounding mountains instead of the normal concrete covered brick that they normally use. We had to walk a quarter mile down the some alleys to get there.
The fabled jade rooster! (This rooster rests on the desk one of the head honchos at YMV and Evan talked about it after his last trip, saying he had to get a photo of it sometime.)
The boys and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather Tuesday afternoon and played outside for a while after school. In true Kooiman fashion, general tomfoolery soon followed. Micah watched contently from his stroller while his big brother rang the doorbell several times just to watch the dog go bonkers in the window, talked on his pretend cellphone while driving his pretend racecar, rolled around on the ground wearing a green St. Patty's day hat, and drew a picture of a car on the driveway that looked strikingly like a toothpick.
Gotta love it!
It's just a downright dirty shame that winter is making it's triumphant return this weekend. After these gorgeous 60 degree and sunny days, that dreary 40 degrees and snow are really going to feel unwelcome. Welcome to Wisconsin!