Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Taking a Break

Hi Friends!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. We are enjoying a little US family and friends time during the holidays. I will be back in blogging action in the New Year! (Maybe before if I find a minute!)

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I have so many things to be thankful for. The list is truly endless. I am so thankful for the wonderful little family that Michael and I have created. I have never been happier or more in love and thankful for anything before, as I am for having my daughter. I feel truly blessed that she is here and that she is so incredibly perfect. I am thankful for my husband, my best friend and my rock. I would be so alone and lost without him. I am thankful for all of our family and friends, for those near and far. We love all of you and are so thankful to have each of you in our lives. I am thankful that we live in a country where I can spend the first two years of my daughter's life at home with her, and that we as a family will not only survive me not working, but are prospering. I am thankful for technology and the internet, for keeping me in touch with my family and friends who are so very far away. I am especially thankful for Facetime, which allows my parents and brothers to see my daughter growing up right before their eyes and allows them to get to know her at least a little bit. I am thankful for all of these things and more.

We celebrated an early Thanksgiving this year. It was an excellent meal with wonderful family and friends. Alexa tried and loved everything! I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving this year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

9 Months Old

My beautiful little girl turned 9 months old on Saturday. Another month grown and more skills learned. She's growing and learning so fast these days.

Since last month, she has pulled herself up to a stand, claps and pats her legs, walks all over while holding onto someone's hands and cruises ALL of the furniture (including her crib). She's gotten four new teeth and a fifth one has just broken through the gums for a total of seven teeth. She's bitten me several times...we're working on stopping that.

She can feed herself a couple of bites off of a spoon, but currently prefers to eat only finger foods. Yogurt is the only exception! Even her vocabulary is increasing. She can say "mama", "papa", "ja", "nein" and "hi". I'm pretty sure she said "all done" once, but I'm not positive. I've also started teaching her a little bit of sign language. She signs "more", "milk" and "all done". We're also working on "please" and "thank you". She also likes to climb now.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mommy Makeover - Week 19

I've finally finished Level 2 of the Shred! I am so insanely happy with my progress and proud of myself for busting my butt and getting this far. I'll be starting Level 3 today (EEEEEK!). I even managed to lose over a kilo after having Thanksgiving this weekend! Woot woot!

Getting Shredded from Day 1-Day 20:
Weight loss  2.6kg
Waist 10cm
Arms 5cm
Thighs 10cm

Total weight loss from 19 weeks of Mommy Makeover: 20.8kg (45.76 pounds)
Weight left to lose to achieve pre-preggo weight status...7.2kg

I already know that Level 3 is going to be the devil. I am so ready for this. BRING IT ON JILLIAN!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Last Beautiful Fall Day in Linz

A little over a week ago, we experienced the most beautiful Fall day. A blue, cloudless sky and a wonderfully warming sun. We had to take advantage of this day, so we headed to the park! We went for a little walk and then headed directly to the playground. Up until this point Alexa hasn't really done the playground scene very much. The last time we went to a little playground near us she did play in the sand and sit in the play house. Slides, swings and other playground toys she has just been too little for...until now!

She had so much fun on the baby slide! I didn't even realize that such a little slide existed, but was really happy to see Alexa having fun on it.

Then she went big time and went down the big slide with her Papa! Smiles all over the place! And also, my favorite new picture of my favorite two people in the world.

She swung on the swing with me and was so curious about the chains. I was even able to sit her on the swing alone (I was holding her up in the back!) to snap a couple of quick pictures.

 We had such a great day. I even got a couple of new family photos!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mommy Makeover - Week 19

 As a super Monday gift to myself, the scale decided to weigh in in my favor! I've lost 1.5kg (3.3 lb) since last week. FINALLY!! What an awesome way to start the week! I'm wrapping up Level 2 of the Shred this week. I completed Day 18 today. We had quite a busy weekend and I totally slacked off. I'm pretty disappointed in myself, but I plan on making it up this week! Let's get shredded!!

In other news, I've decided to start really training for a 5k. So far, I've run a total of 3.2 km straight. I'm more than halfway there. I know I can do it.

Doing a physical makeover is rough. I learned this weekend that sometimes you just don't feel like doing the work, but other times life gets in the way and it is just impossible to even fit in a 20 minute workout. I'm hoping that things calm down this week and that I am able to get back on track and stay on track.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bear-y Cute!

Ok, so I know I am a super knitting dork over here, but I just can't help myself! I get these crazy ideas in my head and then I just have to see if I can make them a reality. This one, this crazy mama idea is AWESOME! I decided my little bean needed a bear hat. After all, she was a polar bean on the way home from the hospital and her fall coat is brown beary bean perfection! Of course, she needed to have a bear hat to complete the look!

It took me about four days (we're talking mom time) to finish the hat and then another night and day to do the ears and the face.

Without ears

 How beary cute is this!!

 The finished product! So cute!!!

Bear Hat
Brown yarn
Cast on 70 stitches on size 4 round needles. 
Knit the first row
Purl the next inch of material
Knit the rest of the hat. 
Once the material is 6 inches long, start decreasing every 6th stitch until you have 8-10 stitches remaining and then bind off.

Tapestry needle
Black Yarn
Buttons - 2
Using a tapestry needle, create the nose with three stitches using black yarn.
From the middle of the nose sew down and across to create the mouth.
Sew two black buttons on for the eyes.

Brown yarn
size 6 straight needles
tapestry needle
measuring tape
Cast on 10 stitches
knit across rows 1-4
Row 5 knit one, increase one, knit across to second to last stitch and then increase, knit one (now you have 12 stitches)
Row 6 knit across
For rows 7-10 repeat 5 and 6 until you have 16 stitches.
Rows 11-14 knit across
Row 15 (start the decrease) knit one, knit two together, knit across to last 3 stitches, knit two together, knit one
Rows 16-19 repeat row 15 until you have 6 stitches remaining
Bind off all stitches and leave a long end for sewing.
Using a measuring tape, measure down two inches from the center of the top of the hat. This is where you will start sewing the ears onto the hat.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Stress and Drama

We've been going through quite a lot of stuff over here lately. Within just a short amount of time we have lost a loved one and we've had to temporarily relocate. It seems that every time the weather turns cold, life gets a little bit chaotic for us...

On Sunday, Michael's grandfather passed away. It was somewhat unexpected and made a little more difficult because he lived in Poland and we are unable to make the funeral. I am so glad that we made the trip to Poland this summer and Alexa was able to meet her great grandfather before he passed. I'm also glad my husband was able to spend some quality time with his grandpa this summer. 

At the end of last week, we found a water leak in our pantry room that is so bad that black and orange mold has formed. It's not our fault, (I'm not that gross!) a valve connected to the main water pipe that runs through the entire apartment building broke and the apartment above us, and I think the two below us as well, have been affected. The wet walls are pushing into our bathroom shower stall and have started pushing the tiles out of the shower...basically our apartment is mold spore central. We've moved to my in-law's for the time being because it is a serious health risk for anyone to be exposed to so many mold spores, let alone an infant. To push us out of the apartment just a little faster, my husband is also allergic to mold. Just great. I'm so thankful that Michael's parents have room for us at the house. I'm not sure what we would do otherwise.

With all that is going on, I am just so thankful that we have some family close by. We are able to spend time together, even when we get on each others nerves, and Alexa has lots of people to love on her.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mommy Makeover - Week 18

Hi friends! I've finally gotten a chance to get to the computer and update you on my mommy makeover for week 18. Well, this past week was seriously intense. I moved from Level 1 to Level 2 on the shred and ummm holy crap was that a leap of insanity and intensity! Today is Day 17 of the Shred. I'm over halfway done and I cannot believe I have made it this far!

I have lost a total of 4 cm in my arms, 7 cm in my thighs and NINE (9) centimeters in my waist!!!! I seriously could not be happier! (Well, technically I could...the scale would go down. <--That would make me OUTRAGEOUSLY happy!) The scale is not my friend. I'm actually starting to think it's broken because it has stayed at the EXACT same number for far too many weeks now. MOVE DOWN DUDE!

I'm completely terrified to start Level 3 in a few days, but I know I'll be able to sweat it out and push through it. If anything, this entire Mommy Makeover journey has taught me that I am stubborn enough to stick to a work out even if I sweat through my clothes and want to die the entire time!

If you have started a work out routine or a new diet, I strongly encourage you to stick with it. You can do it! The changes in your body happen slowly over time. I want to quit just about every other day, but I feel better and I look better, so for me it's worth it.

And now, onto the Shred! Until next week :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Turkey Hat Update

I finally finished the turkey hat. I'm not completely pleased with the way that it came out, but after working on it for WEEKS and redoing stitches over and over again...well, I give up! This will just have to do. I was especially disappointed because when I had the hat on Alexa's stuffed animal it didn't look quite so crooked. Oh well, I guess I learned a can't use an oval head to make a hat for a round one!

I give you, my little gobbler...

(even she's upset that it's crooked!)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mommy Makeover - Week 17 Shredderific!

I officially completed the first ten days of Level 1 of the 30 Day Shred. Let me tell you, the last ten days have been anything but easy. I've found myself cursing at the little person in my television, but carrying on with the exercises anyway. I've sweat like I've never sweat before. I'm not going to lie, sweating with a purpose is pretty, "I totally earned this sweat, so back off bitches." - that kind of exhilarating. I can do push ups now. Yes, they're still the girlie kind, but I can do like twenty in a row without stopping. When I started ten days ago I could do five and then I needed a break. Booyah push ups, I am not afraid of you!

It has been quite an interesting journey thus far. I have lost 6 cm in my stomach, 3 cm in my arms and 3 cm in my TEN DAYS. AMAZING. I have gained .5kg, but we're calling that muscle and calling it a day. Today is rest day and then tomorrow I am kicking off Level 2 of the Shred. Let's just say I'm a little nervous.

This entire Mommy Makeover has been an interesting road. I've become more aware of the food that I'm eating and what is IN the food that I eat and make for my family than I had ever been before. Stuff that they put in our food is SCA-A-ARY! I have become so much more fit, just in general. I'm pushing myself every week, every day to achieve new bests for myself. Michael and I did a cat and mouse running workout over the weekend. It was really cool. We were both able to get a bit of running in for the day, we spent time together as a family (did I mention Alexa was with us?) and we were outdoors. Sweet! In general, my entire perception of health and wellness has been altered.

Cat & Mouse Relay
Person A, Person B, baby (in a stroller)

Goal: get a run in, better individual time, short distance training

We ran on a 1.2km track. At the start, Person A starts running, meanwhile Person B pushes baby in the stroller in the OPPOSITE direction. When Person A and Person B cross paths, they trade positions. Person B is now running and Person A is pushing baby. Person A and B change directions, baby is always pushed in the same direction. Continue for as long as you can!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gobble Gobble

I saw this RIDICULOUSLY adorable turkey hat on Pinterest and decided that I was going to try and make one for Alexa. Well, it has been an experience and a half making this hat. It's the Goldilocks of turkey hats...

Try #1

Ummm way too big!

Try #2

Is it seriously that small?? How did that happen?

Try #3 - the final try


Now just to figure out how the heck to make those cute turkey legs?!

I'll update again as soon as I make some progress!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jack Be Little Pumpkin

To close out Halloween week, I wanted to share with you a little project I was working on. It's nothing much, just a little "Pumpkin decor", but for me it's a huge project because it is the first knitting project in which I actually followed a pattern...and did so successfully!

I wanted to be fancy and make these little pumpkins for all of Alexa's friends in our Mommy & Me class, but I came up with the idea far too late and one little pumpkin took me an entire day to make because Alexa doesn't like me to ignore her for very long. An experienced knitter, or even some one with older children or no children would probably be able to complete this in just a few hours.

I give you Jack Be Little Pumpkin from The Sitting Tree.

It was a free pattern that I was able to download. I was a little (read: very) nervous about trying to read a pattern. Any other patterns I've even glanced at have looked like they were written in secret code. However, these instructions were very clear (to me) and so I decided to give it a try. Thank you Sitting Tree for writing such clear instructions and making such an easy to follow pattern!

The one pictured was the first one I made. I have a second one that just needs a stem, but before I close it off I am considering adding something to make noise. I think I'll use a mini plastic egg filled with rice or beans. I'll be sure to super glue the egg closed before inserting it into the pumpkin. 

Thanksgiving is right around the corner...I'm feeling a little turkey might be in order!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

We have been enjoying an absolutely gorgeous Halloween day! The sun is shining and Alexa is in an awesome mood this afternoon.

 This is our Halloween outfit :) Thanks for the headband Gramma!

Alexa made her first jack-o-lantern today! As soon as she saw me take out the paints she got really excited. It was lots of fun making it with her.

I hope everyone enjoys Halloween with their little goblins and witches! We sure are having a fabulous time with our little pumpkin!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ghouls and Zombies and Worms, Oh My!

Halloween is on Thursday! I am so excited for Alexa's first Halloween. Her costume is ready to go and so is her treat bag.

In the spirit of this ghoulish holiday, I decided to look up some little kid safe snacks. I found TONS of options online. After combing the internet for some super cool (read: inexpensive and easy) snacks to make, here are my three favorites...

Ghost Toast - I plan on using raisins instead of currants.

Apple Pie Salsa - I mean seriously, this just looks delicious.

Bowl of Worms - there are so many options with this one and the sensory stimulation is awesome!

I also had to include Monster Paws because let's face it, they are so cool and who doesn't love a good popcorn hand, but please be aware that popcorn is not safe for kids under 3 years old.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Painting

With Halloween coming up, we decided to let Alexa paint her pumpkin since she is still too small to carve her own jack o'lantern. Painting pumpkins was so much fun! I set her high chair up with saran wrap (for an easy clean up), a towel on the back (because we stained the high chair cover last time when I missed some paint) and finger paints (with a drop of baby wash in each blob of paint). After it was all set up I stuck a naked baby in the chair and let her go crazy. She had a blast!

 Ready, Set...Paint your pumpkin!
                                                                  Look who's so big!
Painting pumpkins is so much fun!

What kind of Halloween activities do you like to do with your little ones?

Mommy Makeover - Week 16...Getting Shredded

This is a whole new week my friends! I have officially upped the ante and I have added the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred to my work out plan. It's hard. It's brutal. I don't think I've ever sweat this much before after only TWENTY MINUTES of working out. LET'S GET SHREDDED!

I actually just finished Day 4 of the Shred. I am wiped out! I am pretty sure that it is getting harder every day even though it is still the same level 1 video (unless the evil Jillian is sneaking into my TV and amping up the intensity. - I wouldn't put it past her). UGH! I'm dying!

After this morning's weigh in, I am officially down another .50kg (1.1lb). I am finally off the evil 84 kilo mark! I've been stuck here for weeks. WEEKS! How depressing. Well, moving on. Here we go!

Before signing off, I have an awesome recipe to share with all of you. I found it on the 100 Days of Real Food website. (They have seriously amazing recipes!) It's a whole wheat carrot and applesauce muffin and it's delicious! No added sugar!! Give it a try.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

8 Activities to Keep Your 8 Month Old Busy

Alexa gets into EVERYTHING these days. She also seems to be getting bored with many of her toys. I'm not ready to buy her a whole bunch of new toys with the holidays right around the corner, so I've come up with some new old ideas to keep my little bean happy, busy and out of trouble.

1. Laundry. Every time I fold laundry Alexa likes to "help", unfortunately her idea of helping means twice as much work for me. Here's how I make it productive for me and fun for her...

Dump all the clean, dry clothes on top of the baby. I keep the laundry basket on the couch so that as I fold things they stay folded, but Alexa has fun playing peekaboo and hiding under the clothes. Sometimes she'll even hand me something to fold!

2. Build a fort. Use a fitted sheet, big bath towels or any blanket and build a fort in the living room. Tuck the sheet around couch cushions or the coffee table to secure your fort. Bring a bunch of toys into the fort and play as long as your little one is interested. You can also play hide and seek or peekaboo in the fort.

3. Get a change of scenery. Something so simple that I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner! Moving into the kitchen, the baby's room or even your bedroom can do wonders to cure boredom and keep a very nosy baby occupied. I keep a few toys under Alexa's high chair to play with while I'm cooking meals, now I let her play on the kitchen floor instead of cooped up in her high chair and she finds these same exact toys 10x more entertaining! I also have a small canvas box in her bedroom with stuffed animals and a puzzle that she doesn't play with very often. When we break that box out she'll play for 20 minutes or more. Take baby into your bedroom and have snuggle time, read a book, play the radio and have a dance party or even bounce her on your bed.

4. Sandbox. If you don't have your own backyard or your own personal sandbox, take baby to a local park or playground to explore in the sandbox. It's a little late to find sand toys now, but a few plastic containers and a scoop or spoon of some kind is all you need! Don't stress if baby eats a little sand either, after all, it's just dirt!

5. Get a cardboard box. Seriously, I don't know why we as parents have not learned that the greatest toy is pretty much free. Babies LOVE cardboard boxes. I don't know what's so great about a cube of cardboard, but it is all the rage with little ones. As soon as your little one can sit up you can sit them in a cardboard box (or laundry basket). Add a couple of small rattles and it's a party! When your little one gets older (12-18 months) replace the toys with some crayons and let them get creative!

6. Finger painting. Alexa LOVES doing crafts and finger painting is at the top of her list. Recently, I let her finger paint her pumpkin for Halloween, but most of the time I just let her go crazy painting the tray of her high chair. This time I put a towel over the high chair and saran wrap on the tray to see if it would make clean up even easier. If you have press n seal wrap, that works likes a charm! I like to have little mementos so I usually start her off with a piece of paper on the tray, but once that is covered it's a free for all. I always add a drop of her baby wash to each blob of paint for easier clean up and we always paint in just a diaper!

7. Tupperware. Babies love Tupperware. It's so versatile. It can be banged, sucked on, chewed on, it holds things, hides things...the possibilities are endless. Set your little one up on the floor and surround them with as many plastic containers as you're willing to wash! You can stack them, hide other small toys or smaller containers under them, or create your own baby rock band.

8. Dance Party. Turn the radio on to YOUR favorite station and rock out with baby. Teach baby to bob up and down and dance alone and then pick him up and spin him around the room. Alexa and I have a daily dance party in the morning while I'm getting my coffee ready. She always enjoys a surprise dance party around the living room or bouncing up and down on our bed.

Gullible Gus and the Boob Butter

Ok, so I pretty much believe anything and everything that I read on the internet, hear on television or that people tell me. I am in fact Gullible Gus. Since moving to Austria, I have become more "aware" of holistic medicine and other at home remedies for colds and whatnot. Since becoming a mom, I have become a big believer in the magical properties of breast milk. (Seriously, it's magical.) A friend sent me a link about all these really cool things you can do with breast milk. I obviously thought it was amazing and set out to see how many cool things I could do with my boob juice, other than the traditional feeding of my child.

Two things, okay three things, jumped out at me immediately...breast milk butter (from here on out formally known as boob butter), breast milk popsicles (boob pops) and breast milk lotion. I decided that it's my mission to test these bad boys out. I started this week with the boob butter. If it's on the internet it is OBVIOUSLY possible!

I read the Breastmilk Butter Recipe and thought "I can totally do this!!" So, I set out to make my very own boob butter. I gathered my supplies...breast milk (check) and a clean glass jar with a lid (double check). I mean seriously, how hard can this be??

I poured 3 1/2 ounces of thawed breast milk into the clean glass jar and began shaking!

And shaking....

And shaking.....

And shaking.....

Are you freaking kidding me? Nothing is happening. It looks EXACTLY the same as when I first poured it in!

But I kept shaking......

And shaking.....

And shaking.....SONOFABEEP! This will never make butter! I am a total idiot.

I shook that stupid jar for an hour. AN HOUR. Do you know how many other things I could have done during that time???? The boob butter did not work. If you try it and succeed, then let me know how you did it.

Next up...boob pops and breast milk lotion. (One of them has to work, right?)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trick or Treat Bag

Halloween is quickly approaching. It is not a very well celebrated holiday here in Austria, but I still plan on dressing Alexa up and at the very least parading her all around town in her adorable costume on October 31st. Of course, no Halloween costume is complete without a treat bag. Since these are not available here I decided to knit her one myself. I made up the pattern and design myself. About an hour after completing this project, I found an insanely easy and very cute pattern for other treat bags here.

For the Pumpkin Bag:

I used 4.5cm round needles, 3 double pointed needles, a tapestry needle, orange yarn, black yarn and olive green yarn. I started by casting on 60 stitches of orange yarn onto my round needle. I knit until I had approximately 6.5" of material. I then moved my work onto two double pointed needles (30 stitches on each) to create the bottom. I knit approximately 2-3 inches on each side. I used a 3 needle bind-off to seem the bottom together. I then used the tapestry needle and the black yarn to embroider a jack-o-lantern face onto the front of the pumpkin bag.

For the handle:

Using double pointed needles and the green yarn, I cast on 10 stitches and knit in stockinette stitch until I had 11 inches of material. (**In the future I will only knit maybe 6-7 inches of material for the handle) Bind off and then use the tapestry needle and green yarn to sew the handle onto the inside of the pumpkin bag.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Girl is 8 Months Old!

Look at this adorable face!

Today my little bean is officially 8 months old. This past month has been a whir of sleepless nights, teeth, sitting up on her own, scooting along on her butt, learning to say "Papa", crawling and finally pulling to a stand! I cannot believe she has learned as much as she has in just one month!

We've baby proofed the apartment and Alexa has taught us that there is actually no such thing as baby proofing because she can pull all the rubber "safety corners" off without a problem. We have lowered her bed and she showed us that she doesn't mind because now she can stand up in her crib!

Babyland is now the place where her toys sleep at night, she doesn't sit still for even a minute, so there is no use thinking she will stay and play in Babyland anymore. I'm so curious to see what she will learn to do next. Every single day in the last week she has hit a major milestone. Now things are getting super exciting! (And totally exhausting as well!)

Happy 8 months my little bean!