Friday, June 29, 2012

We Have a New Tooth!

Ladies and gentlemen, after a week of not wanting to eat, 100* fevers, and not being able to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time...

We have a new tooth!!!

I know, it's hard to see.  That tiny little white dot next to her two front teeth.  It's working on it, though.
And yes, it's worth jumping in the air for.

And clapping chubby hands together for :)

Now, doesn't that make us feel all grown up?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

{Blog Hop} Finding the Balance

Welcome to the very first blog hop ever hosted by Jordy Liz Blogs and Happy Homemaker Me!  Today, Jordy and I are swapping blogs to share with our readers about how we find the balance in our lives .  I'm posting over here, and Jordy's post is below for you to read and be encouraged by.  We're both really hoping that you'll post about the same topic and link up below.  We'd love to read about how you find balance in your life!


Hi, I'm Jordy, and I write over at Jordy Liz Blogs.

I came home from a long day of work and went straight to dinner with my husband for a church fundraiser. After dinner, we went to see a friend's new place and I am now watching the Bachelorette alongside my husband while answering emails and uploading this blog post. After this, I'll upload one more blog post, finish my Organizing Life challenge and send off a signed editing contract.

I don't feel like I "do it all," but some days, it seems like I have to somehow manage to figure out how to do it all. I'm a wife, daughter, friend, employee, blogger, and freelance editor. Somehow, I have to find the balance so I can give each of those roles my all.

I have always been a routine person, craving a schedule and plan. I tend to completely overload my plate and say "yes" to way too many people. But when the schedule gets packed tight, I have to figure out what is most important. I have to find the balance.

How do I do it?

First, I make sure to check myself.  If I need time to zone out or get out of the house, I make sure to keep up with those needs.  If I become overwhelmed or stressed, everything will fall to the wayside.  I will end up taking it out on my husband, slacking on my commitments, and completely shutting down on the inside.  When I'm in check, the rest is in check.

Then, I make sure to prioritize. My husband always comes first. If he needs time with me or time to talk, I set other items aside and make time for him. By doing this, he is more understanding when I need to spend time on my computer for the night taking care of different tasks. It also keeps us on the same page so we don't end up getting disconnected.

Lastly, I answer to my commitments. This includes editing contracts and jobs, blogging responsibilities, and writing gigs. I am a very committed person and it is important to be responsible and trustworthy. These commitments are hobbies of mine and I enjoy doing each of them. It fulfills me personally, as well. 

If I keep these three important parts of my life balanced, they all fall into place in a way that makes my time more efficient, my relationships more deeply connected, and my commitments more of a focus.

How do you keep the balance?

Now it's your turn!  Write a post about how you find the balance between responsibilities and joys in your life, and link up below!

Rules for the Blog Hop:

  • Please follow both Jordy Liz Blogs and Happy Homemaker Me via GFC
  • Visit at least one other blogger who linked up and leave an encouraging comment  
  • Write your own post letting us know how you find the balance in your life
  • Let others know about our blog hop by sharing this button in your post:
 Happy Homemaker Me

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kayleigh's First Angels Game

On Father's Day, we joined our friends Tyler and Stacey for an Angels game.

The day before, I pulled the little pink Angels baby outfit out of my hope chest, washed it, and had it laid out and ready for Kayleigh to wear to her very first game.  We bought it last year when I was 8 months pregnant, and Jesse has been so excited to have his little girl wear it!

Who can resist a cute little baseball butt like that?!?

Kayleigh loves Tyler and Stacey!

First Angels game as a family of 3!
(you can tell who the real fan is)  ;-)

Kayleigh was so cute during the game.  When the crowd cheered, she cheered.  When we clapped, she clapped.  It was the first time she's done that without being prompted, and we thought it was so cute!

It was a great first experience for our sweet girl!
And boy, did watching his little fan make this first Father's Day a special one for my handsome man.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

{Guest Post} How to be a Happy Stay At Home Mom

I've been so blessed recently by a new bloggy friendship.  KatieB showed up on the scene a few months ago and has been leaving the sweetest, most encouraging comments on nearly every post I write.  Since she has been such an encouragement to me, I asked her if she would write a guest post for new moms everywhere.

Thanks, Katie, for your refreshing outlook, your witty humor, and for knowing exactly what a new mom needs to hear.
Please be sure to stop by Housewife How To's and say hi to Katie!

     Ask most new mommies what their favorite pregnancy or parenting book is, and they'll probably mention the What to Expect When… books. You know, the ones that go month by month during your pregnancy, or year by year after your child's birth, telling you what to expect at each stage? Yeah, I hate those books. Well, maybe not the books, but what they do to our minds as moms: they teach us, from the moment we know we're pregnant, to compare ourselves to someone else's standard. 
     To listen to these books -- or to TV talk shows, parenting magazines and certain lifestyle blogs -- it's not enough anymore that a woman give birth to a baby and shower it with love and affection. No, these days she also needs to launder cloth diapers by hand (preferably those she made herself with her treadle-operated antique sewing machine picked up at the thrift store for $2). She needs to grow her own heirloom fruits and vegetables (organically, of course) and make them into gourmet baby food (but not Alicia Silverstone's way, please, that's just gross). All the while, she should be reading Proust to her baby (in French) with Mozart playing softly in the background (streaming via Bluetooth from the media room she impeccably decorated herself), as a loaf of bread bakes in the oven (which she won't eat, because in addition to Pilates and training to run the marathon that's on her Bucket List, she's also low-carbing).
    Is it any wonder new moms are so stressed out these days? Why, when I was your age…       Oh, wait. Let me start that part again.
    Back in the olden days, things were a lot less stressful. We had time to feed the baby while we waited for our 9600 baud modems to dial up to the interwebs so we could check our AOL home page. As the page loaded, we could wipe off the kitchen counters or get some other quick chore done. At night, we had two and sometimes three full minutes of commercials  (no skipping them back then) to fold laundry, rock the baby, snuggle with our husband, whatever. In short, we had time.
     Know what else we had back then? A wonderful parenting book written by, of all things, a man named Dr. Spock. (Not to be confused with Mr. Spock of the green skin and pointy ears.) Let me just share with you the first two lines of his book -- two lines which, I might add, have been described as the most important thing anyone needs to know about becoming a parent: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.
Oh, sure, he went on to provide a lot of additional information that parents need, much of which has been updated and revised over the years to keep pace with product safety and scientific developments. But the wisdom in those words has not changed.
     Those two sentences, I believe, are the single most important ones any new SAHM needs to hear, too. Whether she's wondering how often she needs to clean house, if she really needs to wash a load of laundry every day, if she's a bad mother because when the baby finally takes a nap she's too tired to spend that precious hour sewing onesies by hand and embroidering them with cute sayings: the answers are already within her -- within you.
     For instance, you already know these five things: 
  1. You know what's important, and what's not. Feeding, holding, rocking and loving the baby? They're important. Teaching the baby to speak two languages, in addition to baby sign language, from birth? Not so much. Yes, multilingualism is a wonderful skill… but when on earth did we start telling ourselves babies should have skills? (Answer: when we started reading books about what babies are capable of and confusing "potential" with "ohmigosh, we're so behind everyone!") Spend your time on the things that are important. You'll be laying a foundation that will, in years to come, give your child the security and confidence needed to explore languages on his or her own, and the certainty that you'll be there to help with the learning. 
  1. You know you can't "do it all", and that it's not fair to expect you to do so. I'm talking about that teeth-grinding, throat-clenching stress you feel when your cell phone dings as a text message comes through... right as you're sitting down to feed the baby... only to come eye-to-eye with the pile of breakfast dishes that you put off washing... because you needed to brush your teeth during the two moments of peace and quiet you had. You knowyou've done your best. Now, remember the second part of that: it's not fair for anyone -- including YOU -- to expect you to do it all. Ignore the text message. The dishes can wait. Make meal time a relaxing time for your baby (and you). The time you take today will set the pattern your family will follow in years to come. Do you want your teen to use the phone during family meals, rushing through them to get to better things? Of course not. You know better. Don't try to do it all now. So very much of it can wait... except the snuggling and the hugging. Get them while you can, because they really do turn into teenagers before you know it. 
  1. You know you don't need anyone or anything making you feel bad, because you're already doing your best. That needy friend who calls you with all of her problems because "you're home with the baby, so you have time to listen"? Of course you feel bad that you don't always want to take her call; you're a nice person! But maybe, since you're busy raising a new human and all, it's time let her do a little growing up of her own by not taking every one of her calls. (Trust me, she'll find someone else to vent to.) That judgy former co-worker you were always a little bit competitive with, who now wants to stop by to bring you "a little something for the baby"? Maybe now's not such a good time for her to come to your home. It's your HOME, after all, the one place where you shouldn't have to measure up to anyone! Take some pressure off yourself by meeting her at a coffee shop. (If she starts acting snippy, you can cut the visit short by saying the baby needs a nap. You'll get out of there with both a new baby gift and your self-esteem.) 
  1. You know you need to do what works for you, and your family. Sure, your BFF goes on and on about the joys of Feberizing while you're more of an attachment parent, or maybe you're the Feber fan while she's had constant skin-to-skin contact with her baby since it popped out. Do what works for you, and don't make apologies for it. The same goes for how you keep your house. Are you comfortable with the lived-in look? Or do you find it impossible to relax if there's clutter? It's your home. Find out what works for you and politely ignore suggestions to do it someone else's way. Trust me, five years from now it's not going to matter that today's breakfast dishes got done after dinner. What will matter is whether you spent those five years developing an ulcer and sinking into depression from trying to live up to someone else's (impossible and often imagined) standard. 
  1. You know you can't do it all at once. You didn't go from being pregnant to having a baby all in one day, and your baby didn't go from birth to making that sweet grin at the sound of your voice in one day, either. Things take time, they happen in stages. The same thing applies to cleaning house, cooking meals or doing any of the other things you think a SAHM "ought" to do. Stop pressuring yourself. (See #2 and #3 if you need a reminder.) So you feel like the house is a mess? Tackle one room a day, and work your way around the house until it's done. Or tackle one task per day: maybe laundry on Mondays, floors on Tuesdays, bathrooms on Wednesdays, etc. The reality is, now that you have kids, your house will never be perfectly clean all at the same time again until the kids are gone to college. (And, as I've learned since my oldest moved out, it's not going to be perfectly clean until all of them are gone.) But, really, is it that important to have a spotless house? Wouldn't you rather have a comfortable home filled with laughter and memory-making? Give yourself a break, Mom. The only one who's looking for perfection out of you is… you. Why would you do that to yourself? 
  1. You know not to believe everything you read (or see), particularly on the internet. This, more than anything else, is a pressure I'm grateful not to have gone through when I was a new SAHM. We didn't have lifestyle bloggers showing off (carefully cropped) photos of their freshly painted Henredon dining sets, picked up for free from the side of the road, and topped with a vase they'd made out of a lightbulb. At the end of a long day, when we finally got the baby to sleep, we didn't hop on Facebook hoping to find sympathetic friends only to read everyone's updates about the fabulous tropical vacation they were on while we stayed home scrubbing spit stains out of our clothes. Don't compare yourself to the image created by other people's online activities: their updates, their Tweets, their blog entries are just moments carefully cropped out of their day to show you the best part of themselves, much like that dining room picture.  They aren't intentionally coming across as do-it-all moms. Chances are like you, like me, they're doing what works for them, while other things get put on the back burner-- things neither you nor I will ever know about. Chances are, they're not trying to set a standard for you to live up to; they're just as likely looking at your life as the standard they'd like to achieve.
 Phew. That was a whole lot of words just to get across one point, but I hope it's a point you take to heart, especially if you're having "one of those days".

Trust yourself, Mom. You really do know more than you think you do. And you're awesome.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Week

Poor kid...she inherited her momma's crazy hair!

And a dad who enjoys taking blackmail pictures.


There are some fun things this week!

Tomorrow, Katie of Housewife How-To's will be guest posting about how to be a happy stay at home mom.

On Wednesday, I'll share some cute pictures and anecdotes from Kayleigh's first major league baseball game.

And then on Thursday, Jordy of Jordy Liz Blogs and I will be posting for each other AND co-hosting a blog hop.  Will you join us?  The topic is "Finding the Balance," and we'll be talking about how we find the balance between our jobs, callings, family, and home life.  I have to admit, it's four days away and I'm still wondering how I'm going to make sense out of all of the changes my life has gone through in the past twelve months to be able to tell you how I find the balance these days.  I'm probably not the only one, so I'm really hoping you'll blog about the same topic this week and link up with us on Thursday.  It will be the first blog hop Jordy or I have ever done, so we're excited and hopeful that you'll join us!

 Happy Homemaker Me

I've been so excited to see the reaction to the Heather Kent Art Giveaway that is going on now through Saturday.  If you haven't entered yet to win a gorgeous custom hand-painted original watercolor necklace or tie-clip made by the very talented Heather Kent, don't miss out on the opportunity!  

Blessings to each of you!  I hope the last week of June is a lovely one!

♥ Bethany

ok, but our hair looks manageable at least some of the time, right? :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Sensory Fun Link Party

I had so much fun planning out last week's Summer Sensory Fun Series, and I was tickled pink every time one of you left a comment or emailed a picture to me letting me know how much fun your kids were having with the activities.  I LOVED it!

It inspired me to host this link party this weekend to give you the opportunity to share your awesome activities from home.  Did you make discovery bottles last week?  Link up a post showing your kids playing with them!  Do you have a favorite sensory activity of your own?  Blog about it and share your ideas with us!  I love how creatively different we all are.  The way you can look at one project and completely make it your own is inspiring.

I'm really hoping that some of you will link up and share your ideas here.  I can't wait to see!

I'll be featuring each linked-up post on our Facebook page to give you all maximum exposure.  Link up below!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tomato Gazpacho with Basil Oil

There is a funny, roundabout story to this recipe.  Jesse and I were looking online at the winery where some of our friends will be getting married this summer, and while playing around on their website, we came upon a recipe for Gazpacho.  Jesse's face lit up when he saw it, because apparently, gazpacho is on the Facebook list of 100 foods you have to try before you die.  He and some of his friends are competing with each other to see who can finish the list first, and he is bound and determined to win.  {We've experienced some interesting meals in the last year thanks to this list!}

This is our adaptation of Chalk Hill's recipe.  We paired it down to feed 4 instead of, you know, the whole classy restaurant.

This is a truly glorious recipe.  It's one of the healthiest things you can eat, because it's just fresh, raw vegetables pureed to their smoothest form.  We like it so much that we've made and served it twice this week--once to a couple with very limiting food allergies, and to another couple who follow the Paleo diet.

Gazpacho is the perfect thing for a hot summer day.  It's served cool, so it's light and refreshing.  I love it!

What you'll need:
♥ 8 tomatoes, washed and diced
♥ 1/2 a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and quartered
♥ 1/2 a green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
♥ 1/2 a red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
♥ 1/2 an onion, diced
♥ 4 cloves of garlic
♥ salt and pepper to taste
♥ Sherry vinegar
♥ 1/2 cup olive oil
♥ 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Chop up the tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, and onion, and toss them together in a large bowl.  Working in batches, puree the vegetables until you have a smooth puree.  Add salt, pepper, and sherry vinegar to taste.  Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavor to infuse.  This step is worth it!

About an hour before you will serve the gazpacho, take it out of the refrigerator.  Strain it and toss out any bits that collect in the sieve (or take the remnants, toss them with some jalapeno, and turn it into a salsa, like we did).

Stir in 1/4 cup of olive oil to give it a lovely, rich texture, and taste the soup again to see if you need to add more salt, pepper, or vinegar.

Make basil oil by blending the basil leaves with the rest of the olive oil, and drizzle it on the top of the soup just before serving.

Set this on the table with some buttered garlic bread and a grilled chicken salad, and you have yourself a lovely meal!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kayleigh's First Trip to the Zoo

On Saturday morning, after our wonderful day alone on our anniversary, we picked up our sweet girl from my parents' house (where she had way too much fun, didn't cry at all, and seemed so happy being entertained by her aunties and uncle that she probably didn't even miss us at all!).  We lathered her up with some sunscreen and headed back to Santa Barbara to spend the day at the zoo.

Jesse and I both grew up going to the Santa Barbara Zoo, so we were excited to share it with Kayleigh. The way that she loves animals and giggles every time she sees one told us it was time to take our 8 month old.  It was so much fun to get to share some of God's amazing creation with her!

One of the things I was looking most forward to about this zoo trip was getting a picture of Kayleigh sitting on one of these beautiful old giraffes.  There are tons of photos of my siblings and me climbing all over them in the 90s.  I was confused when I couldn't find them at the zoo, and then saddened when I realized that they weren't on the path anymore; they had been relocated to a gated off area on a quiet lawn overlooking the ocean.  I understand why--how many lawsuits had they been subject to over the past 20 years for having "dangerous" structures like this for kids to fall and hurt themselves on?  But still, seeing that they were no longer within touching distance--that I had participated in something that was no longer allowed-- made me feel old.  And sad.  But I'm glad that I still got to show the giraffes to Kayleigh and get a few pictures with her.  They are dear to my heart.

After a while, it was time to let our little wild thing free for some floor time

Look at that face!  Her daddy can always make her squeal with delight :)

We clap for Kayleigh every time she stands up by herself, so now she claps for herself, too.  It's my new favorite thing :)

Can you tell that the ocean is behind us?  Seriously, how beautiful is this zoo?!?

All tangled up :)

Hehe, couldn't resist taking this one near the gorilla exhibit :)

We had such a wonderful day!  So glad we got to take Kayleigh to the zoo :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Our Anniversary Weekend

Handsome Man and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary on June 8th. In the past, we've done big trips to celebrate (like this one and this one) and then came Kayleigh :) Last year, we went to a special restaurant, and this year, we left our baby girl overnight for the first time and spent our anniversary in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara has always held a special place in my heart.  It was only about 40 minutes from where I grew up, so it was our family's favorite place to go on special days.  Jesse and I have spent a lot of our romantic dates in Santa Barbara, so it was fun to go back to some of our favorite spots, and try some new ones, too!

Jesse handled all of the planning, which I loved.  It was fun to give him the reins and let him choose what we were going to do for the day.  I couldn't have done better myself!

First on the list (after a rather tearful goodbye when leaving Kayleigh with my parents) was a wine bistro.  Different from wine tasting at a winery, the State Street Wine Bistro gave us the opportunity to sit at a quiet table on a nice little patio and enjoy sampling glass after glass while the Sommelier (am I fancy or what now?!?) brought out food pairings to go with each wine.  We were able to spend as much time as we wanted to enjoying what we were given.  It was perfect!  No rushing around, bustling between other was just for us.

We had a lovely time.

When we were finished, we walked past shops, street performers, and gorgeous little alcoves until we reached the water.

It's been a long time since we've spent time as just two of us.  Even though I missed Kayleigh, I loved my time with my Handsome Man.  Being back to one of our first date spots, spending the day alone and enjoying each other was the best way to celebrate our 4th anniversary.  Looking forward to many more to come!