Thursday, July 12, 2018

Q&A with Heather - Your Questions Answered

Today I'm answering a few questions I've received over the last couple of weeks from several readers. I have been wanting to do a Q&A because these are some of my favorite posts to read by other bloggers - it's a fun way to get to know the person + I knew it would give me an opportunity to talk about things I probably never would talk about otherwise. A few of these questions had me thinking pretty hard!

I hope you enjoy reading through these and I would also love to hear some of YOUR answers to these questions!

- Do you meal plan in advance or decide the day of what to cook for dinner?
I TRY to plan our meals for the next week on Saturday and then order our groceries to be picked up after church on Sunday. The key word is TRY. Sometimes I'm deciding the day of and it will end up being something like frozen pizza or corndogs and mac-n-cheese for dinner that night.

- What is your favorite dinner to cook for your family?
Hands down my favorite meal to make is Chicken Enchilada Soup. It is my favorite meal + the kids clean their bowls and ask for more. Plus it is SO EASY! You throw it all in a crock pot for a few hours and forget about it. (I'll be sure to post the recipe in the future)

- What's your favorite vacation you've ever been on?
I think I'll have to say our ballpark trip to Los Angeles and San Diego last year. We spent 8 days in Southern California and, although we did stay busy touring the city, it was very refreshing to just spend time together, get our feet in the sand and the Pacific Ocean, and eat some of the best food we've ever had!

In LA we stayed with one of my best friends from high school and her husband, and it was so much fun to catch up with them. Oh, and we went to FOUR baseball games, where we got to watch an old friend pitch in the Big League. Ahh, I'm dreaming of the crack of a bat, the cool San Diego air and Mexican food from Old Town right now!

- At what point did you know you were ready for baby #2?
I think that we always knew that we wanted our kids to be about 2 years apart. I wanted them to be close in age so that they will hopefully be very close friends as they grow older. Raley's birthday is in September and I knew with the next baby that I wanted to be pregnant during the fall and winter so we timed it out so that she would be born in the winter months just after Raley turned 2. We never truly had that feeling of "I think I'm ready for another baby, let's have one!" It was always just sort of planned out that way. I will say though, if for some reason we did not feel that we were ready at that time, we would have waited. We wouldn't have had a baby solely because it was "part of the plan."

- What age difference do you think is best for siblings to be apart?
I LOVE the age difference between my girls (2 years and 3 months) because, like I said before, I think that they are close enough that they will end up being very good friends as they grow older. Right now they are interested in the same things and they enjoy playing together, which is so much fun to see! Audrey adores Raley and wants to do everything she does + Raley adores Audrey and loves to teach her how to do things. I think that it would be different if Raley were, say 7, and Audrey were 2.

I'm not sure that there is a best age for siblings to be apart. Two years is perfect for us, but I have some friends who intentionally waited longer so that their older child would be more independent before the new baby came along. Every family is different. But I think when you know, you know!

- How did you come up with your girls' names and what would you have named a boy if you had one?
I actually heard the name Raley on a TV show and fell in love with it. I thought I liked Riley for the longest time, but then when I heard Raley, I thought it sounded very feminine and it was different.

Audrey was a tougher one. When we found out we were having another girl we were stumped for names for a while. I looked at list after list of baby names and made a list of my own of my favorites. (David was no help. He couldn't come up with names that he liked, but he was quick to veto mine!) Audrey was one that we kept coming back to. I like that it also sounds very girly + I love Audrey Hepburn. In the end it was between Audrey and Harper, so we ended up naming her Audrey Harper.

We've had our boy name picked out since before we were even pregnant with Raley. If we had had a boy we would have named him Chase William. Chase because I like the name (+ that's my favorite baseball player's name) and William is a family name. Both my and David's grandfathers' names are William and it's my dad's middle name.

- Fall or summer?
Fall, hands down!  I love the cooler weather, the leaves changing, the sports, the holidays. Although, I will say that fall is my favorite season because of everything going on during that time, but winter is my favorite as far as temperatures go. I thrive in temps in the 40's and 50's.
Alabama football - one of my favorite things about fall. Roll Tide!

- Favorite reads?
I prefer psychological thrillers or suspense books with a twist. I don't get a chance to read all that often, but when I do I want something that's going to suck me in and keep me on the edge of my seat. The last books I read were the Gillian Flynn books [Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, and Dark Places]

- Are you going to try for a boy?
This is the question I get asked the most often and the answer is I don't know, but probably not. If I had to decide today if we were going to have another child, I would say no.

I used to be able to picture three kids, each about 2 years apart, but now I just can't. When I think about the future, I don't picture myself with a third child. And actually, I've been around lots of babies lately and I DON'T have baby fever! This is definitely a sign that I'm not ready for another one.

There are so many reasons why having a baby now would not be a smart move, but if we wait a few more years, are we really going to want to start over? I don't know. Only God knows. I truly think that we are done having kids, although we could change our minds in the future. Or God may have other plans for us, which is okay too.

- If you could live anywhere else and bring your family with you, where would you go?
BOSTON! I absolutely fell in love with this city when we visited a few years ago. I would love to live on the East Coast, if only for the seasons. We don't get true seasons in Alabama. It's like summer lasts until Christmas and then in the Spring it goes from being 40 degrees one week to 80 degrees the next, and never looks back.

If it weren't for our families being so close to us here, we probably would take a chance and move up there for a bit. I loved everything about the city - the history, the parks, the harbor, the food, the cobblestone walkways, the walk-ability, the shopping. Maybe when we're older and our kids are grown we'll move north.

- If you could change careers or go back and choose something else would you, and if so what would it be?
I truly enjoy being a nurse. The human body is fascinating how it all works together and I love learning new things about it. I love taking care of critically ill patients and being challenged at work - it's what keeps me doing what I do (even if it's only one day a week)! So no, I do not think I would go back and change anything.

Although if I had not become a nurse, I think I would have liked to have a career working with people with disabilities. They are a special kind of people and they absolutely light up my world!

- How do you keep the girls entertained while you cook/clean/do other things?
When they were younger it was pretty difficult to get anything done because I needed to have eyes on Audrey at all times. Up until when she was maybe 15 months old I could sit her in her exersaucer and get some stuff done while Raley played. Sometimes I'd let her sit in her high chair and eat a snack if I needed her to be stationary while I cooked or did a couple chores.

Now they are at an age (4 and 2) where they can sort of entertain themselves. If I'm cooking or cleaning I can typically put on a movie and they will watch the movie and play with their toys (although I may have to break up a few fights here and there). Also, they're constantly saying "Mommy, look at this!" and "Mommy, watch this!" Needless to say, my most productive hours are before they wake up in the morning and during nap time.

- How do you balance time with your family, you and David's extended families and friends?
I'm not sure I have a great answer for this because I'm not the best at it. We kind of just go with the flow. We see my parents more than David's because they live closer, we go to church together, my mom keeps the girls when I work, plus she teaches at the Mother's Morning Out where my girls go to school. We really should be more intentional about spending time with his family because I know they want to see the girls too, and we plan to work on that.

As for friends, most of them have kids too, so I try to schedule play dates at least once a week so that I can spend time with friends + the girls can get some energy out playing with theirs. Sometimes I'll schedule a girls night or David will go out with his friends, which is always welcomed to get some "adult" time away from kids for an evening.

A majority of our time is spent together as a family. If we feel like our schedule has been packed full and we haven't had enough family time lately, then we will try to intentionally clear our schedule and just spend time together. (We did this last December after a couple months of traveling nearly every weekend.)

- How long does it take to decorate your planner pages?
It usually takes about an hour or so. When I first started doing this it would take more like 2 hours, but now I've sort of found my groove and it's a little easier to put a spread together.

- Where do you buy your planners and stickers?
The planner I have is a Happy Planner, which can be found at Michael's, Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's. They carry the stickers and accessories too. I've found that typically Michael's has more selection than Hobby Lobby does though.

If you're interested in this type of planning, follow their Instagram, because sometimes they release products that are exclusive to just one of these stores. Like they just came out with "Happy Notes" which are notebooks with blank paper and they are only carried at JoAnn's. Also Target has a line of back to school planners for teachers and students, which I believe are not sold in any other stores.

- What's your current struggle in parenting right now?
We have different struggles for each of them right now. For Audrey we're struggling with her strong-willed, independent nature. She wants to do EVERYTHING herself. Sometimes it's not best that she does it herself, and she doesn't understand this, which usually turns into a little temper tantrum. With her though, she tends to get over it quite quickly.

With Raley, we're struggling with her attitude and teaching her to show us respect. She will do something that we will get on to her for,(it could be something minor that we're telling her to stop doing) and she will lose it. She'll say things like "I will NOT stop!" and "You don't tell me what to do!" and "You never let me do what I want!"

We have come to understand that she wears her emotions on her sleeve and she struggles with being able to control them. We are still trying to figure out the best way to discipline this behavior, so that she will learn respect for not just us, but all adults in a position of authority. I'm thinking this is one of those "orange tree" type situations that we just have to stay diligent about correcting (if you're confused about that statement, I explain it here.) Anyone else struggle with this? Any tips?!

- What are you most proud of as a mom so far?
What makes me most proud is when I see them learn something or catch on to something that we've either been working hard to teach them or that they've been working on learning at school.

For example, when they start to use their manners to politely ask for things. Or randomly start saying prayers in the car. The things they thank God for are so sweet. Or how Raley's writing has improved and her drawing has developed over the course of the past year. I'm also pretty darn proud of how much they have both improved in the water after just 4 days of swim lessons!

-What is your favorite Bible verse for your current season of life and why?
Philippians 4:6-7 - "Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

This is one of my favorite verses at this time because it is very comforting. I may not understand the why behind everything that is going on in my life, but God does, and understanding that He has it under control brings me peace that only He can provide. (I go more into detail about how faith can help ease anxiety here.)

Yall, this was so much fun to answer all of your questions, so THANK YOU to all who submitted them and to everyone who took the time to read. If you think of any others, drop them below and I will answer them. Also, if you've got any tips for the issue I described with Raley, I'd love to hear them.

If you liked this post, you may also like:
Coffee Talk Confessions (where I confess random things, just for fun)
Yea so...that happened (where I talk about real parenting moments - the good, the bad and the ugly)
Rules to Live By For Stay-At-Home Moms (where I talk about things I've learned since becoming a stay at home mom)

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

12 Baby Essentials - 6-12 Months

A while back I created a post featuring my very favorite items for newborns. These were a few things we couldn't live without in that very early baby stage. But, as we all know, babies change and grow quite quickly. What may be essential at 3 months may not be needed at 6.

So today I would like to share with you some of my favorite items for 6-12 month olds. These little sweeties are learning to sit up, crawl, pull up, eat, and walk. They've got a lot going on! Most of these items are ones that we used on nearly a daily basis during this precious baby stage before they take off running into toddler-hood. 

12 Baby Essentials for 6-12 Months

1. Exersaucer
My girls absolutely loved their exersaucer. We had an adorable little Lion King exersaucer that they no longer make any more, but this one is pretty similar as far as the different noise making things that are on it, but this one is even better because it can be used several different ways! We started letting them sit in the exersaucer when they started being able to control their head and trunks better (I believe around 4 or 5 months) and they enjoyed sitting in it until well after they turned 1. I would sit them in it while I took a shower, made dinner, or clean and they were able to keep themselves entertained for a while.
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Evenflo ExerSaucer Triple Fun Learning Center

2. Zipadee-Zip
When Raley was about 3 months old, she started rolling from her back to front, so we had to find something to replace her swaddle. She wasn't ready to go from being swaddled to nothing, so when we came across the Zipadee-Zip, we thought we'd give it a try and see how it worked. We absolutely loved it! It keeps their arms and legs from being too free + it keeps them warm. It's a great transition from the swaddle. (We used it for Audrey as well and they both wore it until they were about a year old.) The creators of the Zipadee-Zip have a pretty cool story, so be sure to check them out!
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms

3. High Chair
Once your baby starts eating baby food, you will want a good high chair. There are a few things you want to look for in a good high chair - that it's not too bulky, the tray is not too small, and (personal preference) that it has a spot for a cup. If I were picking out a high chair for my baby today, I would pick this Graco Duo-Diner Convertible High Chair. It has everything I mentioned above + the seat comes off and you can attach it to a chair as a booster if needed. Too cool!
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Graco DuoDiner Convertible High Chair
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms

4. Folding Booster Seat
I wish I had known about this when my kids were babies! I got this folding booster seat as a gift for my niece's first birthday. It's perfect to take with you to the park for a picnic because babies don't like to sit still if they are not contained in some way! 
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Summer Infant Pop N' Sit Booster Seat

5. Baby Gate
Babies get very mobile and very curious at this stage so be sure to baby proof those stairs, or any other area that you don't want them getting into. As far as baby gates go, I prefer the gates that you can open and walk through.
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Safety 1st Walk Thru Gate

6. Stride and Ride Lion
This Stride and Ride Lion is one of my favorite baby toys because you can put the seat down and they can ride on it or you can put it up and they can push it around. It's great when they're learning how to walk! My girls had the puppy and they loved putting the balls in it's mouth and feeding it treats (so cute!)
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Fisher Price Stride and Ride Lion
7. Bibs
Let's face it - babies are messy! Once they start learning to eat baby food, get rid of those cute, soft little bibs they wore when they were newborns and find some cheap ones that you don't care get ruined. This 8 pack of solid bibs are great for those messy little eaters.
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Neat Solutions Solid Bib Set
8. Bottles
Unless you are a stay-at-home mom who is exclusively breastfeeding, you are going to need a good bottle until at least 12 months when they start drinking whole milk. My favorite are these Medela bottles. I only used Medela with Audrey because I honestly didn't see a reason to try anything else. I started with Medela bottles because they fit on my pump, but they were also easy to clean, had convenient storage lids, + Audrey liked them, so why change?
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Medela 8-oz Bottles

9. Silicone Teethers
Babies typically start to teeth between 4-6 months and although there may be periods of relief between teeth, it seems like they are "teething" constantly until their 2 year molars come in! Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but if you already have kids, you know that teething is for the birds! These teethers are inexpensive and they are great for those sore gums and drooly mouths. Pop them in the freezer for a bit before handing it to baby and he will be on cloud 9! 
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Nuby Silicone Teether

10. Amber Teething Necklace
Speaking of teething, people swear by these amber teething necklaces. The amber in the necklace has anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties, which are supposed to help with the swelling and soreness in their gums as they're cutting teeth. We had one for our girls and I would recommend giving it a try!

Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Amber teething necklace

11. Bumbo Seat
We absolutely loved our Bumbo seat! We started putting them in it around 3 months old or so and I feel that it helped them learn head and neck control. They continued to use it as they got bigger to sit in and eat a snack and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We would put some puffs on the tray and watch them learn fine motor control by trying to pick them up and get them to their mouth. It's a good alternative to putting them in a regular high chair for snack time. (This one also has a strap underneath so you can put it on a chair and use it as a booster if you'd like.)
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Bumbo seat with tray

12. Snack Cup
These snack cups are perfect for when baby starts to grab snacks on their own and begin to feed themselves. The soft lid allows them to stick their little hands in and grab the snacks on their own. 
Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms
Munchkins Snack Catcher

I hope you found this list helpful, especially if you are looking for items for a baby registry! Go ahead and add these - six months flies by with a baby and you will be needing these things before you know it (some even before 6 months)!

If you have children, what items did you find essential during this stage? Is there anything you would add to this list? 

For more baby registry and gift ideas, check out these posts:
*This post contains affiliate links. If something is ordered using one of the links provided I will receive a small percentage of the sale. All opinions are my own and I am not being paid to review these products.

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Baby Essentials for 6-12 month olds. Must have baby products. Baby registry and gift ideas for new moms

Monday, July 9, 2018

Life Lately - July 2018

Hey there! I hope you all had a fun 4th of July week! David took off an extra day on the 5th so we got to enjoy some extra "Daddy time" before he went out of town to visit a buddy from college.

Today I wanted to share a bit about what's been going on over here with the Tenneson household the past few weeks. We have been doing a good bit of swimming at my parents' pool lately.  I've mentioned before that Audrey is a little fish who loves the water, and Raley is the exact opposite. She is very comfortable swimming around with her puddle jumper on, but does not like to put her face in the water, jump in, be thrown in the air, or be splashed in the face. Basically she wants to float around with her face above water, on her own terms.

A few weeks ago the girls woke up from their naps around 4:30 and I randomly decided to take them over and have a little evening swim - something we hadn't really done all summer. David met us over there after work, we ordered some pizza, grabbed some popsicles and swam until the sun started to go down. Audrey loves to be thrown into the air as high as you can possibly throw her and kept asking David to throw her "really really higher! Again! Again!" We have to tell her after a while to take a break because she would literally do it all night.

We've also mastered the cheerleading lift. David doesn't like the idea of the girls cheering, but he may have to admit that they have it in their blood. And since this little daredevil has no fear, I can definitely see her learning to tumble easily. I often wonder what they will enjoy and excel at as they grow older and start to explore new activities and sports. Will they like the same things we did or will they enjoy doing something completely different? Do you wonder the same about your kids?

We had a fun little morning out a couple weeks ago with my friend Erica and her girls at Early Works. It's so funny to see the two older girls pair off and play and the younger ones do the same.
I think they could play with these dogs all day. 
The little dress up clothes are too cute!
For 3 Fridays in a row in June, the girls got to have sleepovers with their grandparents and David and I got to take advantage of date night. We went golfing at Point Mallard Golf Course and to dinner at The Railyard in Decatur one night (The Railyard has a really cool atmosphere and the food was all farm to table and delicious!) 

The next week we went to the Food Truck Rally in downtown Huntsville. We had not been to downtown Huntsville (Big Spring Park area) since they cleaned it up and remodeled the area, but it is beautiful now! I honestly would try to avoid going down there because it used to be kind of run down and sketchy, but I won't avoid it any more. I'm glad they are fixing up downtown because I like when I visit other cities and they have a cool downtown area. Huntsville is becoming one of those cities! Anyway, after we ate some great food and walked around the park a bit, we decided to go to Pints and Pixels and play some games. Playing games together, golfing, bowling, etc. have always been activities that David and I enjoy doing together. "Recreational companionship" is definitely high on both of our "needs" list, so we often find ourselves doing things like this on our date nights, rather than going to a movie or shopping.

Our last date night of the month was dinner at Connor's for our anniversary followed by walking around Bridge Street for a little bit and ice cream at Maggie Moo's. 

My neice Addy had her second cochlear implant surgery a couple weeks ago, so big sister Payton came back home to stay with my parents for the week after the surgery so that Addy could heal and so Brian and Shannon could give her the attention she needed to recover. 

We took advantage of her time here in Madison (they live in Atlanta, so we don't get to see them much), by going on morning outings, swimming, and letting all the girls have a sleepover at my parents' house (they're some brave grandparents). One morning we packed a picnic lunch and went to the Huntsville Botanical Garden. The geese were so funny with the girls. They were all outside of the pond at first and the girls were talking to them and watching them. Then we went around the pond to look at the turtles and the geese got in the water, swam across the pond, got out where they were and walked back up to them. I'm not sure if they thought we had food or what, but it was incredibly cute.

When we go to the garden we tend to spend a majority of our time in the wading pond. It's a great way to cool off, especially for them! I try to wear something that I don't mind if it gets wet, and pop a squat on the rocks that line the pond so I can put my feet in and cool off as well.
The butterflies in the Butterfly House are beautiful this time of year! If you live in the Huntsville area, I highly recommend paying a visit to the Huntsville Botanical Garden and checking out the butterflies. The turtles in the Butterfly House are fun to watch too! 

Another morning while Payton was in town we went to see Storks at the movies. Some of the local theaters have dollar kids' movies throughout the summer, so we took advantage of this. My friend April and her little boy Bennett joined us as well. Audrey and Bennett are adorable together. Bennett says Audrey is his girlfriend. It is the cutest thing!

The kids actually all did pretty well in the movie. Afterward we hopped over to Red Robin for lunch before my mom had to take Payton back home. We miss her and sweet little Addy!

Last weekend some of our family from Philadelphia was in town, so we spent the weekend at my parents' house swimming and simply hanging out and catching up. My cousin Carl is in the Navy and is stationed in Mississippi right now but will be heading overseas in the next couple months. I'm so glad we got to see him before he left. We are so very proud of you, Carl!
Raley has met Carl a few times, but since they live in Philly we don't see them that often. She absolutely loves him! She would ask me "Is Carl going to be there? I just love Carl! He's my best friend!"
There's too much sass to handle!

We had an incredible 4th of July! We actually took it pretty easy for most of the day. We slept in a little bit, snuggled on the couch and watched a movie, played with toys in the play room, and ate a simple lunch. We knew we would be out late, so we decided to just have a lazy morning at home. After the girls took a nap, we headed out to a family picnic at church. We had a fun time talking with friends, playing with sparklers and glow sticks, eating good food, and watching fireworks from the parking lot (we have the perfect view of the fireworks at Dublin Park.)

David took the 5th off too, so since we had such a low-key day on the 4th, we decided to take the girls out and do something fun. We took them to play in the splash pad at Bridge Street. I love splash pads because they always have so much fun running around, splashing and getting soaking wet. 
They played in the splash pad for about an hour before getting them dried off and changed. We ended up riding the carousel several times before grabbing some lunch and heading home. I'm so glad we got to spend this time together, especially since David was out of town all weekend. It did make the week seem really off I kept thinking that Wednesday was Saturday, then on Thursday it felt like Sunday, except we didn't go to church so it sort of felt like Saturday still. Then I worked Friday, which I hardly ever do any more, so that threw me off...and then this weekend felt more like week days since David was out of's safe to say I'm all mixed up!! Did the holiday throw anyone else's week off?

Since I worked Friday and David was out of town, I took the girls to my parents' house to spend the night on Thursday night so I wouldn't have to get them up so early and take them over there by 6 am on Friday morning on my way to work. They also graciously agreed to keep them Friday night as well, so I had two nights in a quiet, empty house by myself! It was actually a nice change of pace. Of course I wouldn't want it to be that way all the time, but time alone (like really alone) every now and then is kind of nice. 

My parents' found this Frozen sleigh at Walmart on clearance, so they got it and brought it home. They had a blast riding in their new toy for the past couple days.

Well, that's about all I've got. This morning starts our much awaited swim lessons and I've been praying that they go well. I'm very excited (and a bit anxious) to see how they take to it (especially Raley). I really hope that she finds that swimming and going under water is fun and that she will end up wanting to learn. 

I hope that you have a wonderful week! Got any fun plans coming up? I'd love to hear about it!

For more posts like this, visit the Life Lately Archive

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