Thursday, December 31, 2009

The past year...a reflection

How quickly a year passes...and how quickly things change over the course of a year.

Almost exactly a year ago we returning from our impromptu trip to Quebec City. We had the time off, knew we wanted to go somewhere, and ended up in Quebec in a last minute deal. We had a wonderful time in a very quaint and European city. We dined and explored and did a little skiing (or falling I should say). We came back recharged for 2009 not knowing what was in store for us.

Matt and I overlooking the cute shopping area in Quebec

We returned to the states, did some visiting with his family and got ready for what we hoped would be a productive year. Goals and resolutions floated around our heads...we both wanted to get healthy, eat better, work out more, keep a clean house, get organized, pay off debt...the list went on and on. We knew that a family might be in our future, but we were really looking to the summer for that. We had a big vacation to Europe coming up that we were very excited about!

In February that all changed. We decided to give this whole "trying" thing a whirl and we all know what happened next...

A beautiful site to see...

So we kept it a secret...for a while. We wanted to enjoy our Europe trip and knew that everyone would worry about me pushing myself to see too much if they knew. So we went and had a wonderful last adventure.

Matt and I in Edinburgh

We came back to the states (again) ready to slowly tell family and friends our great news. We were immensely happy! We found a church that we felt had a deep sense of community, our baby was growing, and then we started home know about the joy that provided. I went to New York and got larger with each passing day. Before we knew it October was here and the baby wasn't waiting any longer...


I remember driving to the hospital thinking that it was the last time I would be going anywhere or doing anything not a mommy. Looking back I think L&D went fairly well...and the outcome was great!

In the Nursery

The last part of 2009 has been busy with getting to know this tiny creature that God has entrusted us with. She has taught us so much about simple happiness and joy. We have loved introducing her to the world.

Our angel!

If you had asked us if this was where we thought we would be we would have laughed a year we can't imagine it any other way! The three of us look forward to 2010 with anticipation and faith that good things will come!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Massive Recall

We recently purchased Roman shades for our three living room windows. I had been wanting Roman shades for quite some time, but quite frankly could not afford the outrageous prices most stores were asking for them. The week before MacKenzie came to join us we were walking around Target (in efforts to get her to come out) and saw brown Roman shades on clearance. It took several trips to several different Targets to collect the correct size and color (and one of them is still a slightly different brown from the rest...but it is very difficult to tell), but we got all three windows covered for about 30 bucks. We are happy for our shades and like the extra warmth they bring to our increasingly brown living room.

Recently however we read an article about a different brand shade being recalled. While these shades are different from ours we still looked at the article to see why. We then became frustrated with the reasoning behind the recall. I completely agree with the idea that a child could, theoretically, grab the shade cord and wrap it around their neck causing strangulation. However, where is the parent accountability factor? When will parents be held accountable for actually taking care of their child rather than simply recalling every device that has some contributing factor in the unfortunate death of a child. There are numerous devices in stores that one can purchase quite inexpensively that will take a cord, wind it up, and make it impossible for a child to get to. Additionally, one could also check on their child every once in awhile to make sure they aren't accidentally doing something that could be harmful to them. I realize that I am a new parent, but I would hope that I would check on my child who was playing with enough frequency that something like this would not happen.

Matt and I see the constant recalls of products (even though there are some products that need to be recalled) as more of a blame game that is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. I completely understand that if something happens to your child that you would want someone or something to blame, but is this really the way to go?

All of this being said...I will not be removing my Roman shades, but do hope that I can prevent this from happening to MacKenzie or any other child that comes into contact with my window coverings...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Christmas!

We had a fairly decent Christmas this year. It is difficult with three sets of parents to make sure everyone gets quality time with us (and especially now with the baby). It was also challenging because we knew Matt would have to work Christmas Eve until 3 and we thought he would have to work the day after Christmas as well making a few short hours available to run around visiting. In the end we made a schedule that worked well for us and MacKenzie. We also worked to set the precedent that our children (unless it is a special trip) will wake up in their own home Christmas morning. We want that to always be the same and to be a special time for us (and whomever wants to join) to open presents, listen to music, have a special breakfast and enjoy quiet time. It ended up that we spent Christmas Eve in College Station with Matt's family, my mom, Fred, sister, her boyfriend, and his little girl came Christmas morning, and we went to my Dad's Christmas afternoon. We also spent the evening of the 26th at my mom's with her extended family. We had some wonderful food and enjoyed all of the visiting. MacKenzie did really well and did not fuss when passed from person to person. We are looking forward to next year when we can start talking to her about why we celebrate Christmas and she will even be able to open her own presents (I think...)!

While Christmas is not just about the presents, it is nice to look for and give presents, as well as to receive things someone thinks you will like. We are very glad that our family has listened when we tell them what a big baby we have because all of the clothes she received fit or are big for her to grow into. We did not receive any 3 month (even though she is only 2 months) which is good because we are about to have to pack all of the clothing up for her. We enjoyed opening her presents and did not mind getting a few little goodies for ourselves along the way!

Here are a few pictures of our busy days!

Matt likes to hold her and fall asleep while watching t.v.

MacKenzie and her PawPaw (my dad)

Santa brought us a good present this year!

Chloe, Jesse, and Auntie J

Popi, MacKenzie, Grammy KiKi

We even got Aunt McKay to hold her...

Getting McKay to hold her was a really big deal. We would love a baby cousin on this side of the family for MacKenzie to play with...we think it might be awhile though. Perhaps our next child will have a play mate and MacKenzie will just have to be left out and have to entertain herself...poor little MacKenzie...

Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

Blackberry Cobbler

I didn't get any pictures of the cobbler I made which is too was lovely. Here is the method/recipe anyways...

You need a double pie crust. I simply used the Pillsbury pre-made roll out crust...I have an infant so I am allowed to take is just as good anyways.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix 4 containers of fresh blackberries (approx 5 cups or so) with 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, two teaspoons of cinnamon, two tablespoons of flour (I used tapioca flour for extra thickening), and 1/4 cup of Brandy (you could also use orange liqueur or orange juice if you are averse to alcohol). In a 9x9 baking dish place the bottom pie crust, scoop in berry mixture, dot with half a stick of butter, and cover with other crust (I cut and wove into a lattice top). Sprinkle a bit of sugar over the crust. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the mixture is hot and bubbly.

This cobbler was very easy and took no time to assemble. It tasted as good as the frozen cobblers and had the benefit of being mostly homemade. I wish I had a picture of it, but dice.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas spirit

Earlier this week I was having trouble with a lack of Christmas spirit. Between getting things settled with MacKenzie, going back to work, and getting out of work for the break things sort of snuck up on us. We had done the obligatory Christmas parties, giving to charity, making cookies, watching movies, listening to Christmas music, decorating and such. We even saw the Star presentation, watched The Nativity Story (not a bad movie at all), and I reflected on what the season really meant. How could I not appreciate the true meaning of Christmas? Christmas is a time to commemorate the birth of a child who changed the world...and I should really understand that this year because of the birth of our little girl who changed our world. I then realized (as we all do at some point) that Christmas is so multi-faceted that it is understandable to be in tune with one side of Christmas and not the other. I was truly feeling the spiritual side of Christmas in reflection of our own child, but I was not into the secular side. This was a disappointment to me because I really enjoy the Christmas season. I like all of the time spent with family and friends because it is one time of year that people truly try to get together and enjoy time together. I like all of the food and smells associated with this time of year. I enjoy finding gifts and little treats for people in my life (this year was way too easy). I like watching movies and drinking hot cocoa and all of those other wonderful traditions that we should do all year round, but instead try to cram into a month or so. My mom had the same lack of spirit as I did, so we have really worked on picking up each other's mood over the past few days. While we might not be the regular Christmas elves that we usually are, we aren't the Grinch and Scrooge that we felt like earlier and look forward to this special time with joy.

Regardless, we are looking forward to MacKenzie's first Christmas and her two month birthday today!

Yes, that is MacKenzie in a stocking...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

8 Weeks!


Today, in less than an hour, you will be 8 weeks old! The time has disappeared and we already have so many memories with you. You have done so many things this last month. Thanksgiving was a wonderful time where you got to meet your Aunt Dena, Uncle Sol, Cousin Solena, and Uncle Stephan. Cousin Solena loved to hold her "baby cousin", the two of you will be great friends one day (a bigger post on that to come). The biggest thing you did (and mommy was very worried about it) was going all the way up to Oklahoma to visit family. You did so wonderfully that all of my concerns went away. Everyone there seemed to love you as much as Daddy and I...if that is even possible. You also got your first obligatory "screaming baby" on Santa picture...we will write more about that later!

You have grown up in so many ways. You are definitely more interactive and rather than merely having times you are awake waiting to go back to sleep you have times where you actually play and socialize with anyone around. Some of your favorite things to do are to lay down and stare at the lights or to sit in your bouncer. Whether it is on purpose or not you kick at the toys on the bouncer and make it move around. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy can even get a full meal in together while you sit in the bouncer! You love to smile and give us big gummy smiles all the time. When Daddy comes into the room you automatically look to where his voice is coming from. You have the craziest hair that stands up and sticks up all around your head, the only way it will stay down is if there is enough oil in it to weigh it to your head. There is a lot of debate over what your hair color will be. Sometimes it looks blond, sometimes light brown, and sometimes looks auburn red. Seems like you are making us wait to find out. Your eyes are still blue and are even bluer when you wear blue...which we can't put you in often because then everyone thinks you are a little boy! When you play you are starting to "talk" and you coo and "yelp" at us a lot. MacKenzie, you are an amazing eater and getting to be a great sleeper. The few baby sitters we have had say they can swaddle you, give you the pacifier, lay you down and you will go to sleep for good naps. You do not do that for mommy though, if mommy tries to lay you down you get very upset. Mommy does not mind holding you while you sleep, she would much rather do that that finish the laundry or clean the house anyways. MacKenzie, we want to thank you for the joy you have brought to our family. You are such a wonderful blessing and we love you!

Mom and Dad
Such a happy Santa's Helper
She's a Ninja!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Big Gummy Smiles!

It has been a lot of fun in the last month to figure out what catches MacKenzie's attention. We love that she truly is smiling at us more and more...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Back to work...

I am back to work today. The past 7.5 weeks off have been wonderful, I have so enjoyed getting to care for and get to know my little girl. Today is not going to be easy, but I have four days of finals then Christmas break to spend a bit more time with MacKenzie. Then it will be Daddy's turn to spend a couple of weeks with her...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Diaper change

So this post may not be what you are thinking it will be about. If you would like a post all about the wonderful world of changing MacKenzie's diaper, then please let me know. This post is about changing her diaper size (and a little about changing her diaper).

MacKenzie quickly grew out of her size newborn diapers. They were an adventure in themselves. The hospital automatically uses size 1 diapers and folds down the front to avoid excess "rub-age" on their little umbilical stubs. Thus, when we got home we were still using the hospital freebies of size 1s. When we ran out of those I told Matt to go look upstairs for the smaller diapers that we had received. Many friends had bestowed diapers of various sizes upon us and a few friends gave us hand me downs of opened diaper packages. I thought we had some newborn diapers, but Matt insisted that we did not. So we continued to use the size 1s. Once I mustered the energy to make the trek upstairs, I discovered that we did indeed possess many newborn diapers. I quickly brought them downstairs to use them before our dinosaur passed them up. A wonderful thing about the newborn diapers is the notch that is cut out for the umbilical stub. We were able to use most of them before she outgrew them and passed the 10 that were remaining on to her cousin who was born two weeks after she was.

In the past week or so, Matt has really been pushing for MacKenzie to move up to the size 2 diapers. We have had a blow-out or two, but I felt that they have been mainly due to our putting on the diaper rather than the diaper size not functioning properly. Maybe a small part of me was simply sad that she was passing through sizes so quickly and I am not ready for her to grow up as fast as she is (she is almost 7 weeks). I finally conceded that when we finished the box of size 1s we could move on to size 2s. Matt joyfully purchased the size 2s (strangely this is the only size diaper we did not receive from family or friends...lots of size 3s to look forward to though) while I treasured each and every size 1 that was left.

Last night/ Early this morning was the last of the size 1 diapers. I shuffled over to her pack and play to change her before she ate. I grabbed her last size 1 diaper and a wipe, positioned it under her bottom, got ready to fasten the tabs, and felt a warm fountain of baby pee christen my arm. MacKenzie told me in her own way that regardless of Mommy (and even Daddy) being ready to move on to size 2 diapers, she was a big girl and ready for the change (ha ha...change). I threw away the wet size 1, broke into the size 2 box and moved on.

Sadly, the size 2 diapers do not possess the "wet" indicator line that the newborn and size 1 diapers did. I guess we will have to start learning how to tell if a diaper needs to be changed the old fashioned way.

A bath tub picture just for the heck of it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Source of Frustration

There is a constant source of frustration for Matt and I, and hopefully for Aggie fans everywhere. To us, and maybe it is merely because we are on the Aggie side, it seems that Texas A & M has to work that much harder than many other teams in order to garner respect. This is by no means a post devoted to the idea that A & M is superior to all other teams, but it is a post devoted to the idea that Aggies do not get as much respect or credit as I feel we deserve.

To prove my point, watch any nationally covered A & M vs. Whomever sporting event. More often than not, when you listed to the commentators, there is less talk about how wonderful the Aggies are doing and more talk about how terrible the other team is doing. For Matt and I, it feels like there is an automatic assumption that in order for our team to be doing well, other teams have to be performing poorly. This is probably consistent across the board, but Matt and I mainly notice it during football and men's basketball. Listen for it yourself, tell us if we are crazy.

Additionally, there is an automatic stigma in society that Texas A & M is terrible at sports. Looking at sports in general we are consistently competitive in all sports (excluding football more recently, to be discussed later) and have numerous Big XII championships to boast as well as some National Championships. I fully recognize that this is Texas and football is king, but we have to give the other athletes that work hard on our campus some credit. As far as football is concerned, it seems we have fallen on some hard times. Our team's performance is erratic at best, but things seem to be looking up. While this season was barely a winning season, we were more than competitive in the BIG game vs t.u.. Many people were saying "Beat that Texas A & M", when they probably should have been saying "We better step up our game next year". The number 3 ranked team in the nation was almost toppled by a completely unranked team composed almost entirely of freshman. We have some work to do Ags, but we might be singing a different tune in the next few years.

Speaking of singing tunes, regardless of our standing in the eyes of others, the most comforting aspect of being an Aggie is the fact that we will always stand together to sing our fight song and to watch the best band in the nation...

Regardless of how our team does, whenever possible, you can find us in the stands and if we are not there in person, we are part of the Spirit of the 12th Man. Whoop!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Part of Thanksgiving weekend

As part of our Thanksgiving plans Matt and I decided to take MacKenzie up to Oklahoma to visit his maternal side of the family. The decision to take her all the way up was not an easy one to make. We tried to see if there was a possibility of us flying because I could feed her in transit, but it was not going to work out (mainly because we would have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to fly in a propeller plane). So we made the decision to leave after she fell asleep for her "big chunk" of sleep on Thanksgiving night. We prayed for a good trip and we were rewarded. Matt was able to make good time because there was no traffic and MacKenzie only woke to feed once (and threw it all up causing us to need to quickly change her). We got to Oklahoma around 5 a.m., fed MacKenzie, handed her off to her Grandma Dee, and went to sleep.

Later we woke up to see our little girl being admired by the family. We are glad that we were able to see some of the family and for MacKenzie to meet some of her relatives. Matt spent most of the day helping his Grandpa, Dad, and Uncle fix the water heater. I spent time with the "women folk" and really enjoyed handing her off to Grandma Dee for a couple of hours so I could take a nap. There is such a difference between napping when she naps (and still having to listen for her or care for her if she needs it) and napping when someone else can take care of her needs. Overall she did great and did not get as fussy as we thought she would with all of the people fighting over who got to hold her next!

Matt took this artsy photo while driving around in the pasture

Auntie McKay, Great-Grandma, and Grandma Dee
(We ALWAYS hang out in the kitchen, I love it)

Cuddled up in Great-Grandpa's arms

Getting some love from Great-Grandma

Matt with some of his favorite people in the world!

While driving back from Oklahoma, the GPS took us the long route and we got stuck in Fort Worth traffic so we called the trip quits in College Station and spent the night with Matt's parents. Sunday night (back in Houston) I became really sick and worried that it was the flu. I did not want to come down with the flu and I really worried about passing it on to Matt or the baby. Thankfully (that seems ironic) it was a case of mastitis (probably from irregular feeding during our trip). I definitely felt worse than I had in a while, but with rest and antibiotics I am recovering.

Hopefully I will get some pictures of the "other" parts of Thanksgiving up soon!

Snow Day!

For those who have not heard, Houston (and most of Texas) has snow! In our part of town it never stuck really well, but you could definitely see the flurry of snow almost all day long. It was a nice excuse to stay cuddled up with MacKenzie for most of the day, but I had to take her out in the snow for a minute to get a picture or two. The video is us watching from the window, but I am not so sure she likes the actual cold as much as she likes the excuse to be warm and cozy (but I cannot blame her).