Monday, October 5, 2015

Baby Harrell [9 months old]

This past month has probably been the quickest one so far!  I can’t believe JJ has been outside in the world longer than he was in my belly!  I can 120% say I much prefer him being here to pregnancy. ;)

9 month

At his 9 month appointment he measured 29 inches (70%), 20 lbs 6 oz. (65%), and his head circumference was 18.9 inches (99%!!!).  He’s got a great noggin, that’s for sure. ;)

Health wise he was great… however the teething was insane this month.  (See the sleep section below…) He got 6 new teeth this month to make it a total of 8! (4 top, 4 bottom).  Poor little guy had a fussy month, but totally understandable.


This month he loved tongues.  He discovered how to stick his out and would constantly be doing that or licking things.  He also loves watching other people stick theirs out too. :)  His new favorite thing this month was my sister’s dog, Trooper.  He had always been scared of him before, but not anymore… he is fascinated by him and always wanted to watch his every move and try to touch him.  He also loves his toothbrush… he fits right in. :)


I think because of all the teething, this month he didn’t really like to be put down.  He was extra cuddly (which I didn’t mind) but it’s hard to get things done with a clingy baby.  I soaked up all the extra cuddles this month and tried not to stress about the things not being done because I know soon those snuggles may be few and far between.  He also didn’t love sleep this month…

The stranger danger is still around, but better… he doesn’t love being held by unfamiliar people—but at least doesn’t scream in large groups anymore.  Progress.


Because of the teething, we had many many rough sleepless nights around here.  Cutting 6 teeth in a matter of a week is so difficult for everyone.  JJ would go to bed without issue around 7:30ish but then somewhere between 3-5 he woke up and would not go back to sleep.  He would be super wiggly and you could tell he was tired… but he just wouldn’t do it.  Even with Tylenol, he just seemed super uncomfortable most nights.  We drank a lot of coffee this month.


JJ is still loving his purees.  We haven’t found a single food he doesn’t like so far… As for solids, we are really trying to introduce more finger foods to him.  He’s tried pieces of avocado, eggs, cheese, and broccoli.  He has gotten a lot better as the month progressed, but still has a hard time with eggs for some reason, he will gag on them.  We are going to keep trying to incorporate small finger foods along with purees as well.


Mostly 9 month clothes, but he has a few items that are 3-6 months and 6 months.  Baby clothes are so strange.

Our Favorite Things This Month:
Our little guy is just starting to enjoy books.  He mostly likes turning the pages and chewing on them, but every once in awhile he will let us actually read them. :)  Here are three of my favorite (new-to-me) books that we’ve read:

Little Blue Truck—Great lesson in the story, and I love a good rhyming book.
Who’s That Baby—JJ loves this one because it has a mirror on every page.  He loves looking at himself in the mirror.
Sparklies Colors—The pictures in this book are so bright and fun to look at!

We also love this straw cup.  He just learned how to use the straw and likes it a lot!  We still have to watch him when he uses it because he will suck up too much and choke, but he’s learning.


8 teeth total!
-We swear he says Dada, Mama, ball, hi, and dog.
-He likes to give high fives.
-We are working on baby sign language (mostly please, more, food, water, and all done) but he’s very selective on when he wants to do them.  We know that he knows how to sign “more” because we’ve seen it… but during meal time he mostly just laughs when we do it.

-This month we celebrated his cousin Addison’s 2nd birthday!
-When Zack’s parents were up visiting we took a trip up to Timberline Lodge which Zack and I have been meaning to do forever!


-We went to dinner with some of Zack’s cousins to say goodbye to his cousin Stephanie who’s leaving for Australia for 6 months!  Sad to see her go, but so happy we had that time with her!

-Finally, the biggest thing this month was that we spent our first couple nights away from Daddy since JJ’s been born!  JJ and I took a girl’s weekend to Sun River, OR. with a few of my favorite girls from college.  I was nervous to take him alone for the weekend just because I had never done it… but he was great!  It was an amazing weekend for me, and I loved that my best friends were able to get to know JJ.  2 of them hadn’t seen him since the hospital, and one had never met him!


Little JJ you are such a blessing to your dad and I.  We love you so much and are honored to be your parents!

In case you missed them…
Welcome Baby JJ
Birth Story
1 month old
2 months old
3 months old
4 months old
5 months old
6 months old
7 months old
8 months old

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fourth Anniversary Gift Guide Ideas

This year sure is flying by… I seriously cannot believe that Zack and I will be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary this week!


Last year Zack surprised me with a trip to Seattle to celebrate, but unfortunately we both were pretty sick… (me being pregnant and sick the whole time and Zack just catching a bug.)  This year is my year to plan—and I’ve got great things in store!

When it comes to the traditional gift ideas, 4 years is tough—The traditional gift is fruit or flowers.  So after scouring tons of ideas, I came up with a few clever options. :)

4th anniversary gift ideas

-one-These pineapple boxer briefs from Target would be a funny little gift for your guy.  There’s also the option of picking up a floral or fruit covered number for yourself… (sorry, mother-in-law :)

-two- There is nothing more delicious than some chocolate covered strawberries!  These berries from Shari’s Berries are a bit pricey, but no doubt delicious, but if you’re on a budget you could always make your own.

-three- I thought these Sable & Rosenfeld Whiskey Tipsy Cherries were so clever!  They are a great garnish for your guy’s mixed drinks…or maybe even just by themselves.

-four- This photo frame is so clever… you can’t really see it on here, but the pear is a cutout filled with photos of you and your husband (or wife).  It says, “I pick you, together we make a great pear.”  I couldn’t find the source of this photo, it was just on Pinterest, but I bet it wouldn’t be too hard to make.

-five- For those of you with a larger budget, any Apple product would surely be a perfect gift… and there’s so many things to choose from!

-six- And then on the opposite spectrum, I thought these fruits with printable tags were so cute!  I might actually do this for Zack because we are on a tight budget this year, but the little messages that say, “We’re the perfect pear.” or “You’re the apple of my eye.” are too cute to resist.


Do you give the traditional wedding gifts?  What did you give/get for your third anniversary?

In case you missed them, here are my gift guides for previous anniversaries:

Friday, September 18, 2015

the Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book [book review]

diy baby food

I will be the first person to tell you that when it comes to raising a baby, I'm clueless.  Pre-baby I thought for sure that once I became a parent I would constantly be reading parenting books, scouring scholarly articles and keeping up to date on the newest parenting techniques.  But let's be honest, I am a first time mom with a newborn babe...who has time for all that?!  I am lucky to fit in a shower every day, let alone reading parenting books.

I definitely was shocked when we were sent home from the hospital with a tiny pamphlet of information regarding basic parenting techniques and care information for my own self... we were just expected to know how to keep this baby safe and make it grow??

Luckily, we have lots of help from family and friends... but when it came to new milestones in little JJ's life, such as starting to eat real food, we didn't even know where to begin!  Baby led weaning, purees, a combination... we were so lost.  Our pediatrician basically said to not feed him honey... and that's it.  I tend to be more on the "type A" spectrum in where ideally I would like to research all the methods and ideas and then choose an exact plan of action...but like I said before who has time for all that?

Almost like clock work, that day I got an email from Blogging for Books advertising The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book by Lisa Barrangou, PhD... and I requested it immediately. 

When I received the book I dove in head first and took pages of notes on what to do, how to do it, and any questions I might of had... but let me tell you, this book had it all!  On top of the basic information like how and when to introduce foods, there is a whole 3 month day to day meal plan set out for you to use.  This made my "type A" personality so happy.  It took all of the stress right out of this developmental milestone with my babe, so I felt confident in what we were doing and I could just relax and enjoy the process.

The premise of this book is that you can prep 3 months worth of homemade, pureed, baby food in just 3 hours by using whole foods, your blender, and ice cube trays... that way each day you can pull cubes of foods from your freezer and easily thaw them for you baby to enjoy.

Here are my personal favorite things about this book:

Detailed Grocery Lists

Within the first 10 pages there is a detailed grocery list of every whole food you'll need to buy for the 3 month meal plan.  Not only do they list the items, but they give you the amount needed, selection tips, and even if that food is part of the dirty dozen, (to buy organic if possible) the clean 15, (where organic would not matter) or if they are available frozen!  Talk about convenient!

Step by Step Prep Instructions

For each food, there are detailed instructions on how to prepare, puree, and freeze.  We're talking 56 pages of different steps and guides, it is so helpful!  This includes making your own rice, oat, and quinoa cereal which is so dang easy--I never would have guessed!

3 Months of Menus

This was probably my favorite part of the whole book.  Just with my personality type, having a detailed day by day list of exactly what to pull and thaw each day was so refreshing.  It made starting solids seem much more manageable for me.  I honestly was overwhelmed with not knowing how to go about starting foods for JJ and having this menu laid out in front of me showing me when to introduce each new food made it so easy!  I followed the first month exactly just so I could review it accurately, the second month I followed pretty closely substituting some other foods in the place of ones they had in there, and by the third month I felt so confident in my abilities that I didn't need to follow it anymore... but I did love the ideas and inspiration the menus gave me.

Flavor Compatibility Guide

For each food that was on the menu they listed which foods combined well with it...due to their flavor profiles.  This is hands-down the section I reference most now that I am not using the menu anymore.  It's nice to know which flavors mesh well together without guessing and having them be disgusting and thrown out because JJ won't eat them. :)


I would love this book regardless of the photos...but it's a definite perk!  The photographs are so bright, vibrant and colorful, I love looking at them.



Overall I would give this book two huge thumbs up!  It would be an awesome gift for someone that you knew wanted to go about making their own purees for their baby.  I've had quite a few people out and about comment on the purees and ask me about them... I have told so many people about this book, I love it!


I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this honest review.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Baby Harrell [8 months old]

How on Earth is our little babe 8 months old already?  Cue all the smiley/crying emojis here…

8 month collage

We don’t have a doctor’s appointment until 9 months so we will have to try and get some measurements on our own…but so far we haven’t. 

JJ had a little bit of a cold in the beginning of the month, it made its rounds in the family and he caught it for a few days.  It was so sad, and we had one night especially that was sleepless for the two of us.  Luckily he didn’t have a fever of any kind, just a runny nose and cough.  We gave him some Tylenol which I didn’t know could cause some issues poop-wise… that with the combination of the apples, bananas and rice cereal that he’d been eating made for some uncomfortable bowel movements. Poor little guy.  We have definitely learned not to combine all those things, plus we’ve swapped out the rice cereal for oat cereal and things have gotten a lot better.  TMI in the poop department…sorry. :)

Still no more teeth, just the two on the bottom.


This month he has mastered the sitting up, and loves to just sit up and look around at everything!  He has also mastered waving, it’s SO cute!  He will randomly wave at us, the TV, himself… not so much strangers yet, he’s still a bit shy, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Food-wise he really will eat any kind of puree we give him.  His favorites continue to be avocado, mango, oatmeal, (oat cereal) and parsnips!  His new favorite this month has been kale, which was a huge shocker to us!

The stranger danger has gotten better, but he still doesn’t love unfamiliar people talking to him.  He won’t immediately start screaming all the time though… so that’s progress. :)

As for food, the only thing he didn’t like and has ever really not eaten well is BROCCOLI!  We would mix what we had made with lots of mango and he would eat it then… but we will hold off on making more broccoli puree and try and re-introduce it as a finger food later.


This month was a bit rough for sleep.  We had a stretch of days where he was consistently waking up every 2 hours.  We think it might have been a gas issue, that on top of him getting sick… it was a difficult phase.  Thankfully he is now sleeping from about 7:30/8ish until about 3 or 4, and then I will feed him and he will sleep until about 6 or 7.  Then he will take 2 long naps, or 3 shorter ones throughout the day.  (Depending on if we are home, or have been consistent in our routine for a few days.)

We have been spending a lot of time at my sister’s house helping with Harper and Hadley, and we’ve figured out that when he’s around Harper especially, he doesn’t want to eat or sleep!  He just keeps an eye on her nonstop…it’s actually pretty funny.

He is a food eating champ, like I mentioned above… but he is also still nursing about every 3 hours.  However, he is only nursing for about 5 minutes at a time… and that’s only if there are no distractions.  Lately, (and thanks to this article) I have realized how amazing not only the experience of nursing has been—but just the miracle of it in general!  I realize not everyone has the ability to nurse, and I feel lucky at how easy (relatively) it has been for JJ and I to master.  I know that each child is different so who knows how it will be for future babies, but knowing JJ’s interest in it is dwindling, I am reminded constantly at how blessed I feel for this special time and connection that we’ve had together.  Never in a million years did I think I would be such a sap about it. :)


Our Favorite Things This Month:
Not much to report, just two!

Ninja Master Prep Blender:  We’ve had this blender forever, but it works so well for pureeing up JJ’s food!  It has been so nice and little hassle—I can’t believe how east it is!

MG Baby Diaper Sprayer: We use cloth diapers, and now that JJ is eating real food—his diapers get much messier.  We got this sprayer off of Zulily and LOVE it.  It even comes with a wall mount to keep it out of the way… though our guests have wondered what it’s for. ;)

-JJ is saying more of his B’s, D’s, and M’s!  He will say “Dada” a lot, which Zack loves!  He also makes a noise that sounds like he’s saying, “Hi, Dad!”
-No crawling yet, but he has been getting all fours and scooting around in circles and go from sitting up to the crawling position and rocking.  It’s only a matter of time!  Better start baby proofing.

-This month we had visits from Grandma Karen and Aunt Krissy, as well as Uncle Mark (pictured above) and Cousin John, we also were at my sister’s house when Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Bruce, (pictured above) and cousins Kelli and James came over!  Lots of quality family time with relatives we don’t see enough!

-We also had a photoshoot with cousin Ryder, complete with matching outfits. :)

-Last, but not least… the highlight of our month was taking JJ’s first beach trip!  JJ loved playing the sand and even got his little feet wet.  The beach is one of my personal favorite places to be, and spending a relaxing day there with my little family was just perfect!


I am amazed every single day at how quickly time is flying.  Little boy, you are truly the light of our lives and it has been such a joy getting to experience every day with you.

FullSizeRender (5)

In case you missed them…
Welcome Baby JJ
Birth Story
1 month old
2 months old
3 months old
4 months old
5 months old
6 months old
7 months old

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Baby Harrell [7 months old]

Our happy guy is 7 months old! 

7 months

We don’t have a doctor’s appointment until 9 months so we will have to try and get some measurements on our own…but so far we haven’t. 

JJ has been a healthy little guy!  He is still teething we are guessing—but we have 2 teeth completely through now!


Our little man is such an easy-going baby.  He is so happy 96% of the time and such a joy to Zack and I.  He loves just laying on the ground rolling all over the place.  (We’d better start baby-proofing soon!)  He has definitely tried to scoot around but hasn’t quite figured it out yet.  JJ loves to move his arms like crazy, he has been flapping his arms wildly and loves to just watch his hands open and shut.  It is so awesome to see his wheels turn and watch him figure things out around him. :)

There’s not much this guy doesn’t like these days… the only thing really is certain foods, and big groups of people.  The stranger danger has gotten a bit better, but I think that’s because as parents we’ve learned how to handle it better.  When we get places I try and hold of on letting people just grab him before he warms up.  I feel bad and like people are judging me or thinking I’m too overprotective… but I just need to stop worrying about that because I know it’s what’s best for JJ.  Unless he’s in an ideal mood—the screaming still happens around unfamiliar people!


The 6 month clothes are getting a bit snug, and the 6-9 fit perfectly.  Just 9 month clothes are mostly still a bit big.

We started feeding him food this month and it was a rough start, we kind of had to “trick him” into it.  but so far his main likes are parsnips, (weird, right?!) avocados, and bananas.  It’s getting better, but he still doesn’t love some foods like sweet potatoes, (everyone says all babies love sweet potatoes…not the case) butternut squash, apples, and sweet peas.  We are trying them multiple times, but these ones are more of a struggle.

I have been using this book as a base for his eating—review coming soon!

We have made big steps forward this month in terms of crib sleeping!  When it comes to naps, he still sleeps better (and longer) on the couch for some reason… but at night he is 100% sleeping in his crib!!

He isn’t fully sleeping through the night anymore though, he usually wakes up once or twice—once between 1 and 4 and then again usually again between 4 and 7.  I feed him though and he goes right back to sleep so it’s not too bad.


Our Favorite Things This Month:
-Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops: A few times this month JJ was really upset and we had a hard time consoling him.  We would get him calmed down but every time we would lay him down again he would start screaming again!  We figured it had to be gas… I was given these drops at one of my baby showers and we finally busted them out!  They seemed to work super fast and he fell right asleep!  Lifesavers.
-Teething Rings: We found a set of these rings in our toys and didn’t really think anything of them…but once JJ got hold of them he loved them!  They are just rings that hook together, but he is obsessed with chewing on them and shaking them around.  We don’t have this particular set—but similar.
-Tigger Lovie: I might have talked about this lovie before—but this month he loves it for a different reason.  The corner of this lovie has a plastic chew part attached that JJ loves…he actually looks for it on the corner of all his little “lovies” but this one is the only one with it… genius really.
-Munchkin Infant Spoons: When Zack’s cousins came to visit they bought a pack of these spoons for their baby and left them at our house.  Now that JJ is eating we use them and they are a great size for his little mouth—and they are soft enough for JJ to chew on and not worry if he grabs hold of it.
-The First Years Teether Beads: We got a set of these teether beads as a hand-me-down and JJ is really loving them.  Besides the rings above, this is his favorite!

He also still loves his playmat which I have mentioned multiple times. :)

FullSizeRender (4)

-This month we celebrated Zack’s first Father’s Day!  I had to work :( but Zack and JJ got to spend the day together.
-We also celebrated JJ’s first 4th of July!  We went to my parents’ house for a relaxed BBQ night—but plans changed when my sister unexpectedly had to go into the hospital for some false labor…

-^^On that note, although JJ’s cousin Hadley didn’t come on the 4th of July, she came 5 days later—and we were SO excited to meet her!

-We also celebrated the birth of my cousin’s baby, James!! Growing up will be so fun with all these cousins around so close in age!
-This month JJ learned to “give kisses.” He opens his mouth and leans in!  It’s the cutest.  He’ll even give kisses to himself in the mirror!

-JJ also started to “play” peekaboo!  He will pull the blanket or towel over his head and then throw it off and laugh!  He is just the cutest.
-This month JJ’s arms have gone crazy—he has discovered his hands and spends a lot of time watching them open and close.  It’s so cool to watch him discover things!  He will “wave” although he doesn’t mean to I’m sure, but we are working on it.  He will also repeatedly flap his arms up and down and just laugh.  It’s so funny, but we have to make sure that he doesn’t whack himself in the face with his toys.
-We are also working on sitting up.  He’s getting really good at it, but is still a little wobbly.

-This is not a “milestone” per say, but I feel like it’s worth mentioning that this month it has been so fun to watch JJ and Harper interact.  It is crazy to think that they won’t remember what life was like before they really knew each other—and it has been such a joy to watch their relationship blossom.  She is obsessed with him and says “JJ!” over and over and over again, and gives him plenty of kisses when they’re together.  JJ is still a bit wary of Harper, but he is getting much more comfortable.  He even kissed her back the other day!  Another cousin was over the other day and got a little too close to JJ for Harper’s liking and her protective instincts kicked in.  It was so cute to watch, and I can’t wait to see them become friends!

-Finally, this month JJ’s grandpa, uncles, and great-grandpa came to visit!  He had a great time spending time with all the guys, and I was so proud that he didn’t scream around them… because the stranger danger is still in full force.

-The big milestone, of course though, (as mentioned above) is that JJ got his first two teeth!


We love you so much, little boy—We could not feel more lucky to have you in our lives.  I can hardly believe that you are 7 months already!

In case you missed them…
Welcome Baby JJ
Birth Story
1 month old
2 months old
3 months old
4 months old
5 months old
6 months old