Monday, January 15, 2018

Our Christmas in Photos {Finally!}

I know, I know, a Christmas post in mid-January? Oh well. I just couldn't not document our Christmas day in photos and since it's pretty much just me and my Mom reading my blog these days, (hi, Mom) I'm going to go ahead and post this to get it out of my drafts folder. So here we go. 

Christmas morning at our house always includes wearing our pajamas as long as possible, opening stockings and presents with a fire in the fireplace, Maple Blueberry French toast (which Aiden actually helped me make this year) and Mickey's Christmas carol. I need to make a mental note for myself that my boys really don't need much. We by no means went crazy this year, but I don't ever want to use Christmas as an excuse to by all the things. Aiden would open a gift and then want to play with it and play with it. He had no interest in opening the next gift until he was done enjoying the one he had just opened. He truly savored every gift and it was a good reminder to us. It's not about quantity, but about the thought. We want to teach our boys to enjoy and be thankful for each gift and not hurry on to the next one. We also want them to know what this season is truly about...the best gift, Jesus.

Next we load up the car and spend Christmas afternoon at my parents house. We all spent some time in the "train room" aka my Dad and Drew's big project and then we made our way in to open stockings and then proceeded to snack, watch the boys play, dance to "Up on the Housetop" by Penatoninx and finally, open more gifts.

Last stop on the Renner Christmas train...Christmas evening with Drew's family. More snacking, a gingerbread making contest, attempting to get all the cousins to look at the camera, a delicious meal, gift exchange and matching pjs! And I'm tired just writing this all imagine how tired we all were at the end of this day. Haha.

Another memorable moment about this boys are getting another cousin in June! Meaning Drew and I get to be Aunt and Uncle to another sweet little one. We are so excited! (Alder is visibly excited too. Ha!)
Our Christmas day was a whilrwind, but in the best way. Filled with lots of love, hugs, giving gifts, packing and unpacking the car, eating good food and being with our favorite people. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

No Fuss Kid's Meals + Products {My go to kid-friendly breakfast}

I have always enjoyed making food for my kids. So much so that I ended up making all of both Aiden and Alder's baby food. Yes, it was time consuming and I spent many nights after they were in bed mashing, blending and steaming vegetables, but it made me feel good knowing what went in to their little bodies. Now I'm feeding an almost one year old and a toddler and I find that to be much harder for some reason so I thought I'd share a few no fuss products and meals that have been helpful for me with a toddler and a little one "just beyond the baby phase." *Sidenote: All of you Mamas out there who have little ones who just eat whatever you eat, congratulations, but that does not describe my children, hence this post. Haha. Someday that will be my life.
No Fuss Products:
A divided plate that sticks to the table or high chair tray.
The one pictured above is from Nuby. When your child can start feeding themselves everything changes. My 11 month old is an eating machine and he is also very opinionated about food so I like to have several options for him on his plate. He is also the messiest eater EVER, I'm talking he should get a bath after every meal, so a plate that sticks to his tray is high on the priority list. I also have this  version for my toddler.

A silicone bib. 
You guys, why did I not ever purchase one of these bibs when Aiden was little? Why?! Being able to simply wipe a bib clean is amazing. I also love that he can't pull this bib off like he can with the velcro bibs we have. The bib Alder is wearing is also from Nuby and is inexpensive for how durable and convenient it is. You can also roll it up to fit in a bag to take on the go! He also got a Bella Tunno bib from Santa. They cost a little more, but are very trendy and have cute quotes and sayings.
No Fuss Foods:
-2 ingredient pancakes-THIS IS MY GO TO KID FRIENDLY BREAKFAST. I make these at least 3 times a week and both kids will eat them! They are so easy that my toddler can whip them up (literally).
-Hummus on Naan bread
-Avocado/Banana Yogurt (Plain Yogurt + mashed avocado + banana) Freeze this to make a great popsicle!
-Carrot Spaghetti (Alder prefers this with Rigatoni pasta)
-Veggie + Egg Orzo 
-Pumpkin Risotto (Canned pumpkin, arborio rice, veggie stock, butter) Alder eats this up. If you want the exact recipe, send me an email or let me know in the comments!)

*This website has been an amazing resource for healthy food ideas for my kids!

I did receive the pictured products for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Alder Jacob {9 Months}

*Another monthly post that is way more than a month late. Ha. Whatever.

9 months. 3/4 of a year. 75% of his first year of life has already come and gone and I just can't believe it. What was life before you little one? What did I even do with my "free" time? When I look at his monthly pictures, I am in shock at the difference between 8 and 9 months (or maybe more like 10 months in this picture, I'll never tell), but regardless, he is looking less and less like a baby each day. 

The older he gets, the more his little personality shines through. He is a happy, happy baby, but he certainly knows what he wants and makes sure he lets us know. Drew and I always talk about him having grit. Aiden better watch out because Alder is not going to let him get away with a single thing! Even though he can't always say what he wants, he has his mind on something and won't stop until he gets his way. I think we are in trouble. Haha. His current nickname is Big Baby and he is often portrayed by his brother as the villian as he is always knocking things down or taking Aiden's hot wheels and putting them in his mouth. Oftentimes, Aiden will run away in the hopes of being chased by his brother who is newly crawling and he will yell "Oh no, here comes Big Baby!" Alder's very favorite thing is to "chase" his brother. They laugh and laugh and laugh. It is hilarious and gives me a glimpse into life with two very active and mobile boys. Lord help me.
He is making so many new sounds: lots of grunting and "yelling" at us at the dinner table and lots of squeaks when he is excited! He started saying words too! His first word was "WOW!" And he would look at something, point with his finger (like in the picture above) and say "WOW!" Then it was bye, bye followed quickly by "Mama" (Melt my heart) and then my favorite sound, "UH-OH." When any one drops something we quickly hear, "UH OH" and it is the most adorable sound in all the world if you don't count his giggle.

This kid puts away food like you wouldn't believe. He is a big eater so thankfully he is able to feed himself because I couldn't spoon food in his mouth fast enough! He can sign more, but often times chooses to grunt at us instead. His favorite foods right now are pumpkin risotto, sweet potato eggs, steamed sweet potatoes, oatmeal and bananas (always bananas.) If you need a simple breakfast idea for a 9-12 month old, take 1 banana, mash it up and add two beaten eggs. Mix and pour like pancakes on a hot skillet. It is crazy how much these resemble the texture of pancakes and Alder gobbles them down!

Two days before Thanksgiving this guy finally started crawling. He would still rather stand or have us help him walk, but he has realized that being mobile by crawling will suffice for now. And this kid is FAST! He continues to pull up on everything and pull out everything that resides in a container or basket. His favorite past time is pulling out all the DVDs (which drives Aiden nuts.)

If all Alder wanted for Christmas were his two front teeth, then his wish has been granted. He now has his top two and bottom two teeth and his little grin is just the cutest thing ever! Some other milestones this month...he celebrated his first Thanksgiving, had his 2nd airbnb stay (did not go well sleeping in the pack and play), celebrated his first early Christmas and met lots of Aunts, Uncles and cousins! And the best milestone of month 9...he is now sleeping through the night! It took a nudge from Dad to make me have him cry it out, but it took a total of an hour and 15 minutes and 2 nights and he is sleep trained. Praise the Lord.

A few stats about Alder at nine months: 

Weight: According to his 9 month appointment stats he weighs 18 pounds 8.5 oz making him in the 25th percentile for weight.

Height: 28.5 inches making him in the 50th percentile for height.

Size clothes: He is wearing 9 month clothes, but I just washed all of Aiden's old 12 month clothes so they're ready. Yay for the boy's sizes matching up this season!

Sleeping: As mentioned above, this month has been my favorite month in the sleep department because hold the phone...Alder is actually sleeping through the night consistently. With a little sleep training that my husband forced us to do (I'm so glad) and BOOM...sleep!

Random stuff only parents want to know:

Nicknames: Big Baby, Baby J, Alder J and Aiden's nicknames continue "Lellow" short for marshmallow and "Lellow Popper" I don't know where he comes up with this stuff.

Likes: Being tickled, holding on to my hands so he can chase his brother around the house, feeding himself like a big kid, drinking out a sippy cup, saying Uh-oh, getting smooches from his Dada, dancing to music and clapping his hands.

Dislikes: Not being able to walk yet.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Alder from this month...

We love you to the moon and back baby boy.

Watch Alder Grow...
            One Month Update                        Two Month Update                       Three Month Update
 Four Month Update                        Five Month Update                    Six Month Update
 Seven Month Update                        Eight Month Update                    Nine Month Update

See Aiden at NINE months here!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Dear 2017 {A Year in Review}

Dear 2017,
Where did you go? I swear I blinked and then you were over. Despite how quickly you seemed to go, you were a year full of some very special things, the best being the addition of Alder to our family. Last year at this time I was very pregnant and very hormonal about the changes happening to our family. I was so nervous about how bringing a new baby home would affect Aiden and the relationship we had. I remember very vividly crying as we left for the hospital because I knew things were changing forever for our family and I was worried. Well here I sit a year later propped up in bed, soft music in the background as my husband has graciously given me a few minutes to myself. I can hear my boys laughing together in the family room, cars vrooming on the hardwood floor and I wonder how I ever doubted that Aiden wouldn't be anything but ecstatic about having a brother. Hands down my favorite thing about 2017 has been watching my boys learn to love each other.

I remember being absolutely terrified about leaving the house with two kids by myself. And now I can snap two kids into carseats and load and unload groceries like a pro and with confidence, but it was a process. That has been my 2017. Learning to embrace my fears and just go for it.

This philosophy of mine carried over as I started a new role at work shortly after Alder was born. I went from 40 hours a week to 15 and I am so thankful to be a mostly stay at home mom, but also have a job that I love. But with every change I face, I was scared I wouldn't be good enough for this job. My coworkers are amazing and have encouraged me and supported me in my new role and sitting here a year later seeing the progress that has happened makes me so thankful. God is so faithful, friends.

With two kids, Drew and I have had to learn a lot about balance, about giving one another grace, about patience and about sacrifice. Having two kids has flipped our world upside down, but in the best way, but we still have a lot of learning to do about raising boys while also cultivating our marriage at the same time (especially since 9 months out of this year we were sleep deprived.) We have managed to go on more dates in December than almost the entire year combined, but we hope to be better about date night in 2018. One of my favorite things we started to give us more "adult time" was a suggestion by my friend Andrea. A few nights a month we feed the kids dinner and then put them to bed and then fix ourselves a nice cheese board and some wine, start a fire in the basement and call it date night in. It has been so fun to try new wines and cheeses and have more "us" time.

I have failed at being crafty, blogging consistently or hosting fun parties this year, but I did manage to keep two kids alive, potty train a toddler, work part time and still appear to be thriving so that's my big win of 2017. I did manage to throw Aiden a pretty cute Hundred Acre Wood party and pull off some amazing Halloween costumes though. Aiden also started showing a love for cooking so we have had fun cooking some recipes together and that is something I plan to continue in the new year!

So here's a look back at some of my favorite posts, events, recipes and discoveries of this past year...

Favorite posts:
It's no surprise that my favorite posts are once again centered around motherhood, but more specifically about the transition from one to two kids. It has been hard. It has been sweet. It has been a blessing. It has been a process.

Favorite events:
I did a horrible job documenting events this year. I never posted about my girls (and babies trip) to Michigan in July (which was absolutely amazing to be with my college friends on the brim of being out of college for 10 years (HOW?!). I never posted about meeting my new nephew for the first time or hosting my sister in law's baby shower (it was adorable and he is adorable, trust me). We didn't take any vacations or do anything big, but we did a lot of small family adventures and explored some new places together

Michigan girl's (and babies) trip
We explored a lot of zoos this year! (Columbus, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Nashville)
We met our new nephew and found out we are getting another niece of nephew in June!
We Knocked off a ton of things on our Fall Bucketlist
First Thanksgiving in Kentucky with Alder where we stayed with my whole family at an AirBNB
Continued Aiden's Advent and had fun with our Christmas Bucketlist

Favorite recipes:
I also failed at documenting any recipes here on my blog this year mainly because cooking was harder to prioritize this year (we ate more McDonalds than I ever imagined we would) but that doesn't mean I didn't make some amazing meals along the way. Aiden got a chef outfit for Christmas and has been my little buddy in the kitchen. Our favorite things to cook together have been my Mom's sugar cookies and Taco Pie. Here are a few of my favorite healthier recipes that I tried this year (July was a good health month for me). And as always, Pioneer Woman remains my favorite and I'm excited to try new recipes from her Come and Get It cookbook this year!

Favorite discoveries:
I always like thinking back about some of my favorite finds of the year...things I'm not sure how I didn't know about before, but am glad to know about now. 

The Crown on Netflix (So good!)
Silicone Bibs (why did I not ever use these with Aiden, WHY?!)
Polar Express Train Ride
Free Open Gyms at our Community Rec Center

I am so very thankful for what I learned this last year and I'm thankful for the people I get to do life with everyday. Cheers to a great 2017 and an even greater 2018! Happy New Year friends! Thank you for sticking around!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Holiday Moments I'm Treasuring Up

This holiday season has simply been the best. I do not document things in this space as much as I used to, but I do want to remember these sweet moments with my boys because as much as I think I'll remember every little detail later, I know that I won't.

Aiden (age 3) is just LOVING the Christmas season. We listen to Christmas songs and jump on his bed every night and he loves shouting Merry Christmas! He certainly has brought us extra joy this holiday. His favorite Christmas movie is The Grinch (the cartoon version). He acts it out as he watches and it is hilarious. He asks to wear a Santa hat like the Grinch and he always scrunches up his face and says "I have a naughty face like the Grinch, Mama." He can also quote most of the book and movie and the kid does not get tired of it!

He loves reading his Bible and acting out the stories. Whenever he sees the 3 Wisemen he always starts singing "We three kings." He is truly beginning to understand the meaning of this season as best a three year old can.

We also haven't stopped watching the Polar Express since last Christmas so when we heard about the Polar Express train ride we knew we had to get tickets. We bundled up in our jammies and went downtown Lebanon for dinner before our ride. It truly was magical. The boys got to sit with Santa on the train car. Aiden said he wanted cookies for Christmas and Alder did not mind sitting in Santa's lap (yet). We drank hot chocolate and enjoyed the festive train ride. I highly recommend it if it visits your city!

Last year Aiden and I had so much fun doing an advent calendar with different activities each day so I knew I wanted to do it again this year. It took some prep on the front end, but I have loved watching him enjoy our activity each day. You can see my ideas for a kid friendly advent calendar here. This year we did a few new things (like drive around to see Christmas lights in our jammies), but we continued our tradition of baking and taking cookies to our neighbors, making Christmas crafts, dancing around in our pjs by the tree, making snow, etc.

We also started something brand new this year since Aiden is older and soaking in everything he is learning about the Bible! We are doing something called the Jesse Tree where each night we read a story from the Bible and add an ornament to our tree to remind us of what we learned in that Bible story. It is so wonderful and has truly helped prepare my heart for the reason behind the season and the amazing way God has woven together our history. I have loved watching Aiden so intently listen to God's word. I plan to do a separate post on this later with pictures and in more detail, but if you have questions please leave a comment or email me.

Alder (10 months) continues to soak everything in as he is always content simply being entertained by what his brother is doing. His favorite things about the Christmas season so far: playing with tissue paper, playing on a toy drum that Aiden got out when he was pretending to be the little drummer boy, pulling lights and ornaments off our tree and attempting to derail the train that goes around our Christmas tree. He has been a trooper on all our outings even if they are past his bedtime. We LOVE that he is here with us this Christmas and can't believe he will be one next month!

Our holiday season has been jam packed with fun family outings, but also filled with sweet nights at home watching Christmas movies in our pjs with a fire in the fire place and the sound of a train whistle from under our tree. I'm so thankful for this season, for these boys and for the most wonderful gift of all, Jesus Christ.

I hope your holiday season has been truly magical.
I can't wait for Christmas morning!!!!!!!