December 28, 2012

A DIY 30th Birthday Party

Posted by Kristin

Just one week ago, my lovely  hubby, Mike, turned the big 3-0. Two things he requested for his birthday were a kid before he was 30 (mission accomplished!) and a kegerator (a mini-fridge turned keg and CO2 holder, so its like a real tap at home). Callum is here and the kegerator is on its way from being built at my parents' house. But to add a bit more flair to this big birthday, I put together a little party for Mike to celebrate his thirty years so far.

When thinking about Mike, one thing that immediately comes to mind is music. He mainly plays guitar and bass and loves to bust out his rock band set. I recently caught this scenario on camera while I snuck away from cooking dinner.

Mike is getting this multi-tasking thing down. Holding a cranky baby while playing drums? Check.

So I wanted to incorporate a music theme into the party in a few small ways. One way was to make a simple music garland. All it took was craft paper, twine and some instruments printed out from Clip Art in Microsoft Word.

I cut the card stock a bit bigger than the white paper instruments, cut a long piece of twine and glued the white paper to the card stock with the twine in between  I did this several times down one piece of twine and did six total strands of garland. In order to have the effect I wanted, I decided hanging them all together would be best. The fan above the dining room table (where the desserts would be served) seemed the perfect spot.

I really like the way it came out and the way it added some festive flair to the room without being overkill. It also made me realize that I really need to finish Callum's mobile, since every time I walk by this with him, he just stares at it! There were a few other small touches I did throughout the house to add some more birthday flair.

I used pictures from Mike's childhood to make the 3 and pictures of our ten years together to make the 0.

Who are those young kids?

A spot for people to share their memories and birthday wishes for Mike.

Another diy garland, making sure everyone knew it was a birthday party and not a Christmas party!

Overall the party was a blast and Mike really enjoyed his birthday. Here's to 30 more great years!

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to You

Posted by PEC

We hope you find yourselves warm and happy on this Christmas Morning! Here is a little video highlighting our year-at-a-glance, and a little Christmas message.
-Laura & Kristin

December 21, 2012

Pinspiration: A Natural, Simple Christmas

Posted by Kristin

Now that Christmas is less than a week away, there's just enough time to squeeze in some last minute decorating ideas. Scouring Pinterest has left me leaning towards simple decor made of natural materials and items most of us may have lying around. I think having a kid is teaching me to slow way down and appreciate a simple approach to something!  Here's what 's striking my fancy:












I pray each of you have a peaceful, joy-abundant and soul-filling holiday!

December 18, 2012

Hunter - Gatherer

Posted by Laura

My husband recently won the grand prize at a Jack & Jill Party: a pheasant hunting trip for 4 in New York. Now, I think my husband is THE most manliest man in the entire world. Like, when I think of Man I think of him. He works hard at his job without a peep of complaint. He carried our 60 lb dog up and down 2 flights of stairs multiple times/day for 2 weeks when she sprained her back and couldn't go down the stairs on her own to go to the bathroom. He used to work on a lobster boat in Maine hauling traps, starting his work day at 2am each day six days per week. He has super strong hands and arms.  He has never called out sick from work. Ever. And all of these things he does quietly, without boast.

With all of that being said, he's a big softy. He is a very gentle man who loves people and animals (we've owned 2 animals that he's brought home from the animal clinic that he works at on Saturdays because they needed homes). When I saw the excitement on his face as he won the hunting trip, I was....surprised. I'm not going to lie, I doubted his ability to kill an animal.

However, it was like something primal was released in him. Man vs wild.

He loved every minute of it. He hunted and shot multiple birds, and brought them home. He has not stopped talking about this trip and is already planning his next one. What a stud.

He brought the birds home, and I took on the task of figuring out how to cook them. Pheasant is very lean, and if cooked poorly will come out dry and chewy. After scouring the internet for recipes and ideas, I found that most people suggested roasting the bird.

I followed Emeril's Roasted Pheasant recipe. The recipe calls for onions, carrots, and oranges to be stuffed into the bird. Since pheasant is so lean, it also calls for bacon to lay across the top. Mmmm.

I was not confident in my ability to execute this project, and resorted to the fact that the bird was going to end up dry and inedible (in fact, I had a cooked lasagna in the fridge as a back-up). I kept thinking of this scene from Christmas Vacation:

The bird came out of the oven, and it was...delicious! It actually tasted like a juicy roast (weird, right?). I was expecting chicken-taste, and got beef-taste. 

Given the theme, it seemed appropriate to rip the bird apart instead of cut it, demonstrated by Man here.

We feasted on the bird, along with sweet potatoes and vegetables. We even got a couple of pellets with our meal :-)

In the end, the bird looked like this. Garrrrrrr!

I love my husband. This was a fun experience, and he can hunt and gather anytime he'd like!

December 14, 2012

A Nautical Style Baby Shower

Posted by Kristin

As many of you know, Laura and her baby boy are quickly approaching their due date of December 28th. In fact, it's just a mere two weeks away! She's busy prepping all the little things in anticipation of Baby Dobby's arrival, from perfecting the nautical- themed nursery (which is so beautiful and peaceful, I think I would sleep in there if I could fit in the crib) to attempting to complete a list of various household chores all while simultaneously getting Christmas gifts set. Wow- that's a lot to do, all while being nearly 9 months pregnant!

So before any more time gets away from us, lets take a break from the endless stream of holiday decor and take a gander at the awesome baby shower that was thrown for Laura back in October. A group of Laura's closest girlfriends did a phenomenal job with everything. From the delicious homemade and healthy food to the nautical decor and super fun games, these girls have got it together! It was a beautiful fall day filled with lots of great gifts, fun memories and warm wishes for baby and mama. Let's take a look.

An awesome diaper cake and fun nautical toys.

Fun lobster hand prints from all the babies born so far!

Natural grasses in blue mason jars added a nice touch.

The start of Laura's awesome star mobile. The finished product is even better.

Laura and her mom showing off an awesome handmade quilt from her mom.

Fun boy clothes!

Laura's besties: Ashleigh and Sarah.

Jennifer, Lauren, Kristin, Laura.
Things were different at Lauren's shower!

We all can't wait to meet Baby Dobby. Let the countdown begin!

December 11, 2012

Handmade Christmas Gifts on Etsy

Posted by Laura

Here is a small showcase of some amazing etsy items/shops if you're looking for handmade Christmas gifts. Well done etsy shop owners!

1. Birch Bark Candle Holders (set of 3) by urban + forest $28
2. Natural Curiosity Coloring Book by Lila Ruby King $10

December 7, 2012

Story Time: Baby Who's Arrival

Posted by Kristin

Warning, warning....long post with a lot of baby pictures! 

Well folks...I'm five weeks in and still have my sanity, so thank the sweet Lord above for that! Laura shared Callum's arrival here but now I'm finally ready to share some more details and photos of his birth and life so  far.

Callum Elijah Thomas: Our favorite pic to date.

All along I was planning on trying to go through labor without medication and wanted to avoid any unnecessary interventions. I took childbirth classes, packed my hospital bag full of items to help me during labor, made some soothing mixes for the delivery room and read and reread the signs of labor about fifty times. But little Callum had some other plans. Shoulda' figured, right?

Stubborn, Breech Baby
Around 36 weeks, my midwife suspected that this little guy was breech (aka head up, butt down). So I got an ultrasound to confirm it. And confirm it, it did. But all hope of a regular delivery wasn't lost. The midwife told me to try a couple of different poses at home to get the baby to turn and to try acupuncture. She also said that we could try an external cephalic version, where they basically turn the baby from the outside by pushing really hard on your belly. I was game for anything that would avoid a c-section. So I scheduled two acupuncture appointments, got myself in some interesting positions involving kneeling upside down on the couch (and even broke an ironing board in the process trying to do this- no joke), and got poked with several little needles by a really sweet woman named Amy.

First bath at home. Wouldn't be complete without his Tigger towel.

By week 37, he was still breech, so we scheduled the version for the following week. The risks for a version are very low (about 1% result in an emergency c-section) and the success rate is about 55%. But this little guy wasn't ready to give in that easy. The day before the version was to take place, I got a phone call from my OB telling me that he saw in the ultrasound that the cord was around the baby's neck. Not a concern in utero (and very common) but it can cause more risks when doing a version. The big question was, did I want to proceed as planned? After much discussion and weighing of the options, Mike and I decided to forgo the version and schedule a c-section, hoping he would turn before that date.

This is one of his favorite positions. It's probably exactly how he was sitting in my belly.

I'll never forget when the receptionist in the office asked us what days were good to schedule the c-section. I thought to myself, "What, am I gonna say 'Well, Monday's out because I'm getting my hair cut'? I don't think so". All along Mike had said that if we did get to pick a date for the baby's arrival, Halloween would be great (they wanted to deliver him right around 39 weeks to avoid me going into labor but still let him fully finish cooking). So with a sideways glance to my hubby, I said, "Well, is Halloween available?". Low and behold, it was. So we left the office trying to wrap our heads around the fact that not only would we know when our kid was arriving (assuming I didn't go into labor before) but that he'd be born on Halloween. As a kid born near Christmas and none to happy about it, Mike insisted that Halloween would be an awesome birthday since its not a traditional gift-giving holiday (so no combining of birthday and Halloween gifts) and it would make for some awesome birthday parties. I trusted his judgement. We'll see what Callum has to say about it down the road.

The Big Day
Fast forward to the morning of the 31st. We were up at 5 a.m. to arrive at the hospital at 5:45 for the c-section. What a funny card ride it was. I felt really excited and peaceful at the same time.  I just kept listening to this song, knowing that I'd repeat the chorus in my head in the OR if I started to get nervous. Before we knew it, we were there, and I was getting into my johnny while my husband turned into Dr. Thomas.

Dr. Thomas and our boy moments after birth.

After getting an IV put in and answering a ton of questions, I bid my parents (soon to be grandparents) farewell and walked into the OR. I got to practice my deep breathing skills while they put the epidural in my spine (which actually didn't hurt surprisingly- my IV hurt more!). Before I knew it, the curtain partition was up and they were poking and prodding away (sorry if this makes anyone queasy). After about ten minutes, I was told I would feel a lot of pushing on my upper belly. I just closed my eyes and repeated that song in my head.

Baby Who is Born
Then I heard a soft little cry and saw a beautiful (but slimy, lets me honest) baby being carried over to the warmer. I saw Mike checking him out and touching his hand. "Whoa, that's Baby Who. Holy cow, that's my kid! Whoa...".

First moments together as father and son.

I was totally overwhelmed and happy at the same time. I just kept looking over at him while they cleaned him up, but hadn't really seen his face yet. Then I heard it. "9 pounds, 9.5 ounces". Seriously? No wonder I felt like I traded in my normal-size belly for a basketball, no-make that an exercise ball. Maybe a c-section wasn't so bad after all!  After a few more minutes, I finally got to see his little face, eye goop and all. And sweet Lord he was so cute! The first thing I remember thinking when Mike held his face next to mine was how warm and soft his skin was.

His skin was so soft and warm!

After a few more minutes of tidying me up, they wheeled me into the recovery room, while telling me to keep my hands inside the bed at all times. Somehow my "helpful" nature tried to force its way out, despite the anesthesia, by trying to hold the OR door open with my hand while they wheeled me out. Not a good idea I guess.

Meeting Callum Elijah
After getting settled into my new bed, I finally got to hold Baby Who, now properly named Callum Elijah Thomas. And I loved him, right from the get go. Don't get me wrong, I was overwhelmed and kept thinking "This is my kid?". But I also just wanted to snuggle with this new little person.  I learned pretty quickly just how strong Callum is. He broke out of his swaddle twice in the OR and nursed for a solid hour once I got into the recovery room. Then he finally conked out. Tough little bugger.

Holding Callum for the first time. Finally!

The rest of our time in the hospital was spent nursing him, changing some seriously disgusting diapers (fortunately Mike was all over that), and recovering from delivering a watermelon-sized baby. We got lots of sweet visits from friends and family and lots of help from amazing nurses, doctors, lactation consultants and many other wonderful people.

When he wasn't eating or pooping, he was doing this.

His first trip home. Wait, you mean we have to take care of him all by ourselves now?

Here's a quick recap of our life at home over the last month:

How are you feeling and recovering?
Fortunately, I feel great and have since early on. I love, love, love my OB and he did a great job with the surgery (I was also told by several nurses that I have a great-looking incision and Callum has a "beautiful circumcision". Good to know.). I was up and walking around the night after the surgery and only took pain meds on my first day home. I've started going for walks again and have been moving around well since my first week home.

First grocery store visit.

How's Callum doing?
He's great and perfectly healthy! He's a champion eater and regained his birth weight at two weeks old. I found out last week that he gained 1 pound, 9 ounces in just two weeks (normal weight gain is 5 ounces per week, so he more than doubled that). He's pretty even tempered unless he's hungry, gassy or has a wet diaper. He's sleeping a 5-6 hour stretch at night followed by a 3-4 hour stretch after a nighttime feeding. So all in all, we're really blessed! He's very strong and is already holding up his head for small periods of time. He likes tummy time and baths and makes us laugh a ton.

At only 5 weeks old, he already knows how to pray. Go figure.

How's Mike doing?
He's in love with his boy, plain and simple. I've never seen him so enamored with anyone or anything. Everyday he gets home and just goes straight to his boy. I love, love, love seeing him with Callum. He's an amazing dad already and a great support to me. He's also super proud that his son has already mastered Blue Steal from Zoolander.

Zoolander anyone?

What's the story behind the name?
Mike and I both have an Irish heritage and knew we wanted an Irish or Gaelic name. We found Callum online (pronounced Cal-lum, as in California) and both liked it. We knew we wanted a biblical middle name and I really liked Elijah. It means "the Lord is my God", something we pray Callum will claim for himself later on down the line. Thomas was an easy choice for the last name (booyah- still got some sarcasm even on little sleep!).

Alright, the end is in sight. Thank you to everyone for all your support and well wishes over the last nine months and since Callum's been here. Thank you for the meals, the cleaning and laundry, the emergency trips over to my place to help me figure out how to use my pump (you know who you are), and always answering my endless series of questions. The Thomases, all three of us, love you all!

Love, love love this boy. The end.

December 4, 2012

Thank You, Photoshop

Posted by Laura

It's the small things. The small things around my house that I notice and want to fix, change, or update. These small things make everything else "fit" in my mind. For instance, the space above our TV has felt a little sparse to me since we rearranged the living room.

I really wanted to fill in the space with more blocky-type objects. When I stood back and looked at the space, I thought that 2 objects would balance it well.

We have a clock and a small black & white photo that I thought would work well. I had a hard time visualizing where to place them and I did not want to make the mistake of putting them in the wrong place (especially since we have plaster walls). So I utilized Photoshop and played around with the placement.

Here's the first set-up:

Eh, wasn't crazy about it. Seemed a little off-balance. 

Then I switched the placement to this:

Me likey. Thankfully, Photoshop allowed me to fix "this small thing" efficiently and easily.

A zoomed out shot of the space in context.

In addition to Photoshop, a drill, and some plaster wall anchors, I would not have been able to easily execute this small-things-project without my little helper (even though she napped through it, she still helped).