Happy Valentine's Day!

A few things on my mind today:

1. Thankful for a second Valentine this year :). 
This photo was taken one month ago. 
She's not in her red and pink apparel quite yet though.
We tend to go through several outfits these days...

2. I tried this recipe from two peas & their pod last night.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
1 box red velvet cake mix
2 Tbsp flour
2 large eggs
1/2 c canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine cake mix and flour in a small bowl, and whisk until clumps disappear. In a large bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, and oil together. Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Form balls with 1 Tbsp of dough. Roll to coat with powdered sugar. Bake for 10 minutes until edges are set and the cookie begins to crack.

Remove from oven and let stand for 2 min. Cut into heart shapes, and then cool completely.


3.  Meditating on this verse today and thinking about how I can love my husband and daughter better every day.

Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 
1 John 3:18

Happy Valentine's Day to each of you!
+, Lauren Aiken


Recipes {from an ex-vegetarian}

I don't love meat. My husband thinks I overuse the phrase I don't love in general, but sometimes that's the best way to describe it. I could never eat meat again and be completely satisfied. I started a vegetarian diet my sophomore year of college and continued until last fall when we were trying to get pregnant. I wanted to make sure I was getting enough iron and protein, though I am confident this can be done in a vegetarian diet also. I also was recently married and wanted to provide non-vegetarian meals to my ever-so-adventurous-with-my-cooking husband. Thankfully, he loves all food and will try anything that I want to make. There are some weeks that we eat vegetarian meals most nights, but lately I've been trying to find some meaty meals that we both enjoy.


A few favorites from last month:
Chicken and Mushroom Marsala - I will make this again and again, which doesn't happen often around here.
Penne with Sausage, Eggplant, and Feta - Substituted chorizo instead of breakfast sausage in this one.
Bacon and Butternut Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Kale - Calls for temeph bacon, but I used the real thing.
Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes - Best sloppy joe recipe I've found.
Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin - Another that I will make over and over again. Plus, it's slow cooked - couldn't be more simple.
Creamy Polenta with Chorizo and Peppers - Great 'comfort food' meal!

Do you like to try new recipes, or do you have tried-and-true go-tos?
I'm always looking for new recipes!
Do you have a favorite {or two} to share?
 +, Lauren Aiken


Baby Nora: 3 Months

Another month has crept up on me again! Maybe one of these months I will actually post on the 23rd :). Matt and I can hardly believe a quarter of a year has gone by since Nora joined our family. Our love for her has grown so much in the past three months, and I can only imagine how much deeper it will grow in the months and years to come.

Weight: A little over 13 pounds, according to our scale. We'll get an official weight from the doctor next month. She's getting some cute little rolls!

Health: First cold? Check. Right after our travels, Nora was pretty congested for about 2 weeks. It was so hard to see her not feeling well, even though it was just a minor bug! We tried everything to alleviate her congestion, but I think it really just had to run its course. We used saline drops, inclined her crib, and I nursed her in the steamy bathroom a few times each day. We even moved a cool mist humidifier around the apartment with her. She is fully recovered now and healthy as can be, though we're still dealing with clogged tear ducts. 

Social: It's so hard to keep track of this every month, but the big one this month was Matt's family coming to visit! 

Sleep: Sleep has been all over the place this month, but it seems that we're back into a (different) routine now. After returning home from Christmas travels, Nora started waking up every 3-4 hours again for a couple of weeks. I had gotten pretty spoiled with the 12 hours stretches she was giving us! I think it started out because she was so congested, and then she also had a growth spurt around the same time. We went through a weird period of lots of crying before bed, but Nora has become quite the pro at putting herself to sleep quickly most nights.

Since last month, we have started to wean her from the swaddle. We started leaving one arm out during naps, and after she could sleep through her two hour nap time, tried it at night. The first night she woke up every 3 or 4 hours, but the second she slept a 6 hour stretch. We continued this for a little over a week. Next, we tried leaving two arms out for a few nights. She did really well, but certainly wasn't sleeping quite as long so we've been sticking to one arm. She typically sleeps a 7ish hour stretch from about 8pm to 3am. Then she wakes up again around 5 or 6 and goes back to sleep until 8ish. We've been using the Miracle Blanket (which she is close to outgrowing) and the Halo Sleep Sack. We have loved the sleep sack for weaning since it has arm holes. We're planning to keep her in it, even with arms out, until she outgrows it for extra warmth.

Nap times have changed a bit, as we've tried to incorporate a morning naps on days that we're home. Nora takes a morning nap from about 10-12 and then sleeps again in the afternoon for a couple of hours from about 2:30-4:30.

Diet: I'm beginning to stretch feedings to every 2.5-3 hours, but sometimes she really wants to eat again after 2. We've stopped cluster feeding at night, which may or may not be why she's waking up in the middle of the night again.

Clothes: Nora is starting to outgrow her 0-3 month outfits. I'm keeping her in them as long as possible, but she'll soon be in 3-6 month clothes. She's also outgrowing size 1 diapers quickly. We've had more blowouts than usual lately!

Crying: Nora (sometimes) has this new cry right before she falls asleep. It's low and slow - kind of waa.waa.waa. like with pauses in between each cry. It sounds pretty funny :). Her not so cute cries come when she's overly tired, and we try not to let that happen but at times it does.

Postpartum: I think I'm going to get rid of this section after this month. The only "postpartum" thing I can really think of this month is hair loss, which started to happen just after 2 months. I was beginning to wonder when it would happen. Aside from hair everywhere, it's kind of nice to be thinning back out a bit!

Milestones: This month has been so much fun. Nora is interacting with us much more now, and it has been amazing to watch her develop right before our eyes. We see changes daily, and each is just as exciting as the one preceding it.

Some highlights this month:
  • Grabs toys that are placed next to her. Her favorites are the Oball and Sophie the Giraffe. She still loves her play mat too. She'll spend an hour at a time focusing on the animals, talking to them, and reaching for them.
  • Smiles a ton, especially when we sing to her.
  • Babbles loudly! She is most chatty when we leave her alone and it's quiet. 
  • Keeps her hands open (and usually in her mouth) now.
  • Sucks her fingers/thumbs. She never loved a paci, but now she refuses it.
  • Does a mini push-up during tummy time. Holds her head up high, except for when she's more interested in her hands below...
  • Twists to her side when she's on her back. (And she hasn't rolled over since her 2 month appointment. I think it was an accident even though she did it 3 times that day!)
  • Holds her head (nearly) steady and enjoys sitting upright.
  • Looks intently at the pages of the books we read to her.
  • Turns her head to the sound of our voices and tracks us around the room.
Though not a milestone, Nora is looking more and more like her daddy, don't you think? :)

Have a lovely weekend! 
+, Lauren Aiken