Solids

We have just recently begun Vivian on solids regularly – and she loves it! Anything from Apples to Oatmeal to Carrots, she has been soaking it up!

And I’m going to take a little break from my regular posting material to give major props to the Munchkin brand!

Yup. This little handy dandy “squeezy spoony thingy” has pretty much been the best thing since, well, the bouncy seat! – And that’s saying something.

I won’t go all reviewer on you, but basically you put the baby food inside the squeezy part, unlock the spoon, and squeeze out what you need spoonful by spoonful.

It’s perfect for the first few weeks of baby-fooding it. Especially when you need your other hand free, to keep this mess from getting all over you! =)
As for baby, well…. she thinks the mess is just fantastic.

What about you? Is there anything that has made life easier on you?

Making money online – Inbox Dollars

Whew! This one’s been a long time in the making! And I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. It’s pitiful really.

But yet I’m still excited! 2 years ago in March, I signed up for a website called Inbox Dollars – I’d heard that it was a legitimate site and, though it would be a very slow process, I could earn money for reading emails and taking surveys.

Well sure enough, it’s a slow one! But they do provide plenty of opportunities to earn – $0.02 per email, each an advertisement for another earning opportunity, a click to confirm you opened it, and you’re done. Plus several surveys if you have the time. usually about $1-1.50 each, as well as cash back for using coupons and their search engines, making your regular online purchases by routing through their site, etc.

I personally chose not to spend any money of my own to increase my earnings, and only chose a few select surveys and free offers. – I set up a filter on my email to sort the flow of email traffic so I would only see the emails when I chose to, and used an email address that I had already retired from personal use, but still accessed regularly.

Over the course of 2 years, and a few seconds at a time, a few extra clicks each week, I have finally earned enough to claim my first check!

My husband thinks I’m crazy, but hey! $30 is still $30! =) And I think I might just keep on a clicking!

What are some of the craziest things you’ve done to save or earn a couple of bucks?

note: the above links are my personal referral links, if you would like to explore the site yet are uncomfortable with joining with my referral code, you can find the website here.

2012 – Here we come!

This morning I was greeted by a couple of inspiring blog posts welcoming in the new year.

My dear mother-in-law of Simply Livin’ shared on New Year’s Resolutions, with God in mind!
And Money Saving Mom featured a guest post on Setting Goals and Saving Money

You should go read them! (seriously!)

I’ve been hesitant to come up with a list of resolutions, simply for fear that once again they’ll go untouched… But at the same time I know that lowering the bar to my comfort level is no way to improve.

But I can be realistic! *smile*

Things I want to accomplish in 2012:

  • Establish a daily devotional time with my Lord.
  • Make time to regularly pursue my photography and hobbies.
  • Choose healthier meal options for my family and learn to cook them.
  • Create meal plans consistently and stick with them!
  • Eat out less and be faithful in our budgeting.
  • Follow through on projects I set out to try.
  • Complete two 12 week exercise routines to get back in shape. (I have jeans to fit into!)
  • Strengthen my lower back – be consistent.
  • Take every available moment to let go of stress, and just enjoy my family.

What are some of your resolutions?

2011 – A year in review

This year has been a rather eventful one. Looking back I almost wonder how so much change can be stuffed into such little time!

Though when I stop and look at where I am today and am still not satisfied with the measurable progress I’ve made, I am more than thrilled by the unique highlights that have brought my family and I to where we are.

I suppose that is what is meant by the saying “enjoy the journey”. You may never reach your destination, but trying to get there can be quite a ride! [kind of like my driving! *smile*]

So what has changed in 2011? – Here are some of the highlights:

[January]

  • My morning sickness had just subsided (yay!) and I re-joined the land of the living.
  • Bradley ended his time at Solideal USA and began a semester at Ivy Tech Community College while continuing his monthly weekend training with the National Guard.
  • I was offered and accepted a position with LegacyIt, a personal media storage and private sharing website, as their member care person. I began to also do some light graphic design work for the company, learning as I went along.  – This was a highly educational experience!
  • My in-laws welcomed home their new daughter Lucy Mae Yan Dangler, from China! At 5 years old she didn’t speak any English, but instantly melded into their family in such a beautiful way! We are honored to have a new little sister! =)

[June]

  • I worked my last day with Legacyit, and prepared to become a full time stay at home mom.
  • Vivian Joy Dangler was born! I shared her birth story here. Our lives were changed forever and I cannot imagine life without our little girl!

[July]

  • Bradley was working at Chik-fil-a while continuing the application and interview processes for several police departments. – He also had to train for 3 weeks out of town with his National Guard Unit!

[October]

  • Bradley was finally hired on with a security company in Louisville – with months still left of waiting on any police departments, he accepted.
  • We found a house, fell in love and made an offer!
  • They accepted!

[November]

  • Our house fell through. – we didn’t perfectly fit the income guidelines for the program the house was in…. =(
  • We found another, really liked it and made an offer!
  • They accepted!
  • Our house fell through – it didn’t pass inspection on some very serious notes.

[December]

  • We were contacted regarding the first house – our favorite, and were asked if we would like to re-apply.  The house had partnered with yet another program which would solve the issues we had run into with the first! Of course we jumped on it. =)  – We are still waiting on some red tape to be ironed out, but we are progressing slowly toward closing.

So here we are! The first day of January, and we have come so far!

Vivian has grown – she is now crawling and pulling up on things… bumping her head and trying to cruise along the furniture… Smiling all of the time and constantly cheering up our days. =)

We may not have checked off all of our 2011 Resolutions, but I am so happy with how far we have come this year.

Baby’s first Christmas

Whew! Does anyone else feel like Christmas jumped out from the shadows and caught you off guard?

The past few months seem to be happening without me. – I’m still trying to catch up!
*sigh*

The holidays are always such a beautiful time of year though… In spite of how “off” our Christmas spirit seemed to be this year, seeing all of the lovely lights, Christmas music playing everywhere we went, and of course being around our families as much as possible… brought back so many wonderful memories and warm fuzzy feelings. =) I loved it!

And of course, it was Vivian’s very first Christmas! She seemed to have no real interest in all of the gifts and decorations, but absolutely adored the attention and love!
… And the boxes. She loved the boxes. =)

Speaking of boxes, my husband and I have spent the last few weeks packing up our things in our spare time. – We have stacks of empty boxes, and newly emptied bookcases in our living room, and the ever-so-lovely pile of packed boxes filling Vivian’s room is growing slowly.  It is becoming an art of sorts to maneuver through the boxes and around first the rocking chair, then Brad’s military gear, our massive photo printer and our new-to-us elliptical machine, to get to Vivian’s bed! – Her poor room can only hold so much.

Needless to say, we didn’t decorate for the holidays this year. =)

Part of me wishes we had pulled out our tree for the sake of Christmas spirit…. But then I look around and think “maybe we should have just strung lights on our moving boxes!”.

*smile*

Vivian was such a joy this Christmas… She just soaked up all of the love and attention she received being with family throughout the weekend, and I really look forward to next year when we will hopefully be a little more settled and able to involve her in starting some of our own holiday traditions!

Knitting 101

Something has always intrigued me about knitting needles… and I’ve always wanted to learn how to use them!

So this week, I did.

Step 1 – buy knitting needles and yarn. – Chopsticks just weren’t cutting it! =)

I chose the blue sized needles because they made me happy!

And then I googled “how to knit”, which introduced me to this YouTube video tutorial. – It was a lot easier to learn than expected.

I’m not a pro by any means, but I did figure out how to turn my way-too-wide-to-be-a-scarf, and way-too-happy-to-be-a-washcloth project into this super fun handwarmer!

I still have to make the second one of course, and I still have a lot to learn (can you see my dropped stitches? =) ), but yay! =D

Stay-in date night for under $5? Yes Please!

As many of you may know, Bradley and I have been trying to keep ourselves on a pretty tight budget. (I wrote a few weeks ago about how this effected our approach to celebrating Brad’s birthday.)
So today we tried something even cheaper… We made our own pizza!

I’m hooked. – Why haven’t we tried this sooner?

Pizza is already one of our absolute favorite foods, and we have a pretty regular “cheap date” of frozen pizzas and polar pops with a redbox movie or some of our favorite shows on Hulu… but altogether the cost still comes to at least $7-8, not to mention the trip to the store always seems to inspire more grocery shopping…. =/

Not too big of a deal, but the extra $5 here, and $10 there was starting to form a more significant dent in our spending than we were comfortable with… So when I found this recipe from The Pioneer Woman – I decided it might be worth a shot to make and freeze my own (unbaked) in advance.

Cost breakdown:

Cheese: $1.15  per pizza. (the $4.50 block of mozzerella I bought was just enough for 4 pizzas.)
Pizza Sauce: $0.30 (1, $1.25 can makes 4 pizzas)
Flour: $0.50 -ish
Oil: $0.25 -ish
Yeast: $0.05 -ish

Total: $2.25

optional extras:

meat or veggie toppings
2 Polar Pops from the gas station across the street
Redbox movie rental

It all comes in under $5! Plus, it is delicious. =)

Yes please!


 

A beautiful birth?

note: as a mom i love reading and hearing birth stories – this is why i’m sharing mine. i’ve tried to be discreet in my wording, but in no way is this a light read. – if you are uneasy about birth, or are currently pregnant, i would recommend waiting to read this story. =)

2 weeks before Vivian made her grand appearance, I thought I had come to terms with the not-so-beautiful side of pregnancy…. But I definitely wasn’t thinking ahead!

I had seen firsthand several of my mom’s births… long, hard and painful. But somehow always strangely beautiful. And that’s what stuck with me up until this point. Childbirth is painful, but beautiful… I still believe that. I look back on Vivian’s birth with such immense emotion. It’s overwhelming really.

Leading up to D-Day, I scoured the internet reading birth stories and looking at picture perfect photographs of stunning women giving birth to stunning babies… (seriously! click the link!) and yes, as a photographer I am aware that photos can give a wonderfully surreal painting of very real events, but it is true what they say… Nothing can quite prepare you for childbirth!

I wasn’t ready.

The entire labor and delivery process was long. And so incredibly difficult.

Vivian was born turned sideways and a whopping 9 1/2 lbs., after a week of hard pre-labor and constant hoping that ‘This might just be the day!’.

Also, I never would have imagined us ending up at the hospital by choice. We had planned a home waterbirth under the sweet care of Beverly, the same midwife that helped my Mom deliver all of her biological children – including me. But God seems to have had other plans. . .

My contractions started up on Sunday – at least, that was when they became regular and I called Beverly and our families to let them know… and for the next 4 days they would start up around 3 pm, increase in intensity and go to about 2-3 minutes apart and 1-2 minutes long, and then around 2 am I would fall asleep from exhaustion and they would stop completely until the next afternoon… then I would do it all over again. We tried everything to try and dilate further – we even went to the mall and walked as much as my swollen feet would allow!…. people were looking at us as though to say “Are you crazy? can’t you tell this woman is in labor?!?!” But the contractions still went away that night leaving me stuck at 3cm for 3 very long days….

Finally on Thursday afternoon, things took a turn and became even more intense. We had turned on some worship music to help us refocus and the contractions immediately started increasing in frequency and intensity.

Around 11pm, Beverly decided it was time to come… and even though I was still stuck at 3 cm, I was finally allowed in the water to relieve my back labor. The contractions continued but the pain became bearable.

After 3 hours of laboring in the warm tub, and continuing in prayer, my back labor was still too miserable for get out of the water for more than a few minutes, and I was too exhausted to keep laboring at this pace on my own… so at Beverly’s recommendation we opted for the hospital.

The plan was to get an epidural so that I could possibly sleep for a couple of hours before trying again, but because I had never been to the Doctor that was on call at 3:30 am, the hospital refused to admit me for the next 2 hours. They said I wasn’t far enough along to admit me, and gave me a curtained section of the waiting room to labor in until there was a “substantial change”.

The next 2 hours were ones I would like to forget. I was uncomfortable and in incredible pain. I shuffled around the waiting area stopping every few minutes for another contraction, just waiting for my time to be up.

But I had been stuck for 3 days, what was 2 hours going to do? We were frustrated and tired, but somehow thank the Lord when the nurse came back to check me, I had progressed to 6 cm! We decided to postpone the epidural.

I labored in the hospital labor tub for a few hours, progressing easily to 8 cm by 7:30am. The warm water was soothing and I was optimistic about continuing without medication. . . Then the nurses asked me get out of the water so they could monitor the baby’s heart rate for an extended period of time… This was a requirement for their records. No reason for concern.

Enter excruciating back labor that I never want to experience again! Ever!:

At 9:30 I was introduced to the doctor that would be catching Vivian, and I asked the nurses to manually break my water to help dilation as I had spent 3 hours out of the water and had stopped progressing. I was tired and shaking from hunger.

The warmth of my water breaking was soothing and I fell asleep for 10 minutes before the pain was back. It was stronger this time.

By noon I was trying desperately to fight the urge to push, and was still only on the verge of being fully dilated. We requested an epidural at this point, but by the time the anesthesiologist made his way into our room and explained that I would have to sit still for at least 40 minutes while the medication took effect – anything but pushing was impossible. We sent him away and had the nurse check me one last time. I was fully dilated…

I was so exhausted that quite honestly I don’t remember much after that moment… I was passing out between pushes, and screaming from the pain.

Vivian was born at 1:04 pm … and wow….

The wave of love that hits you when you see your newborn baby….. it’s so powerful.

She was so beautiful….

My favorite moment was seeing Brad’s face light up when he saw her for the very first time. He was laughing and crying and telling me how beautiful she was….

And I knew right then that if I had to, I would do it all over again.