Friday, March 14, 2014

Baby Registry Giveaway

Here is a wonderful giveaway for all of you expecting parents! There are some really great things on here!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brag on, my friends!

I always find myself being asked " what is Claire up to these days?" In reply, I often delve into informing people of her temper tantrums- intensity, where they took place, whom looked at me and how, etc. I tell them how sassy she is. Inform them of how exhausting it is that she never stops moving. I realized while in the process of answering this question yesterday- after an exhausting, long, sleep deprived few (six to be exact) days- that all I was saying could be perceived as negative attributes.

 Claire is anything but that! She is an incredibly brilliant, genius of a girl. She would rather nothing more than to sit down snuggled in your lap with a book or thirty. she intently tries to figure out any and everything she can get her precious tiny hands on. She throws fits when we take things away because she has not yet conquered them, and, well, because we probably shouldn't have left them in her reach to start. She does have a very strong personality, but that is something I envy. She is highly emotional, but extreme in both ends of the spectrum. She can throw down a temper tantrum like nobodies business only to end off the day giving the best hugs, kisses, and snuggles in the world. She is so sympathetic and compassionate, rushing to aid anyone whom shows signs of distress. She treats the most minute of items as if they were the most fragile of treasure. She is a truly amazing and loving mother to her babies, kissing and hugging them followed by rocking and shushing them to sleep. She loves nothing more than spending hours upon hours outside adventuring and finds herself in severe distress when she has to return indoors. She is a fearless climber, standing on any object she can find, leaving no object out of her reach. She may put something in her mouth that doesn't belong there, but only because she loves the rise it will out of her Daddy.

 All in all, I wouldn't change a thing about our sweet Claire. She makes every day worth while, filling our lives with much more joy than she could ever cause stress. I guess what it comes down to is I will have to enlist the same rules I do about our marriage- don't talk bad your spouse (and now daughter) to others. You don't hesitate to vent to friends or family when they do something obnoxious, but more rarely find yourself doting on how wonderful they are for fear of being accused of bragging. People are twice as likely to remember the negative, as well. Luckily, I have much more to brag about than complain, so here's to bragging on!


 P.S. Please always feel free to brag to us about your exciting and wonderful happenings/news and kiddos! We love hearing about it, plus, we get to live vicariously through you :) 

P.S.S. This sweet little picture was captured at The Cheesecake Factory during our first lunch there with Claire.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Us Around the Web

Here are a few links where you can find us!

I absolutely adore this company! They have such wonderful quality, stylish, and functional nursing wear for mama's. I was very excited to extend my wardrobe with their product :)

We were very excited when a blogger friend approached us interested in featuring Claire's birthday party on Disney Baby! Of course we agreed and were thrilled with the results.  Be sure follow the links below the slide show to see more of Lacy's work- she is wonderful! 

Lastly, we (finally) uploaded some new videos Claire to our YouTube page! Check out what our busy little lady is up to these days :)

Here is one of the new videos of her playing in the rain! We are soooo very excited spring is here and can't wait to share all of our plans and projects.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

Food, food, and more food

 Over the last two years, Jason and I have made significant changes in our diets. First, because we stumbled upon the documentary Food Inc. Oh my, what an eye opening experience that was! Second, because I was pregnant and wanted to ensure I had optimal nutrition. Third, because we now have a sweet little girl for which we want to role model healthy eating habits.

We have successfully converted to about an 80% organic diet.  I know, most people don't find "going organic" a realistic option, but educating ourselves and smart shopping have made the switch easy.  We shop based on the EWG's "Dirty Dozen", saving money by purchasing the "Clean 15" non-organic.  We have also cut out most processed/convenience foods which is easy to do with only shopping the perimeter of the store where the fresh foods are located.  It is only for the rare treat or for condiments I have not mastered the making of that we will venture down the center aisles.

With the several snow days we've been blessed with over the last couple of weeks, I really buckled down and made a meal plan (and stuck to it!) to ensure we didn't starve while we were snowed in :) We had so much fun getting creative and trying out new recipes. Here are links to a few of our favorites :)

For breakfast, we have been doing a lot of pancakes and waffles with this wonderful mix!
It is very smooth in texture and even picky Jason prefers it over its frozen counterparts.  We love to mix in cinnamon and sugar, fresh blueberries, or dark chocolate chips.
We have also been on a french toast kick! We have been topping all of the above with REAL maple syrup (farewell high fructose corn syrup, you have not been missed!) or, my favorite, a puree of strawberries, honey, and a touch of water.
Another must try (that is unfortunately not organic, but considered a treat) is
It is ahhmazing- so smooth and creamy. Try the strawberry rhubarb, you will not be disappointed :)

For lunch, we have been enjoying a lot of grilled sandwiches. We found a delicious organic lunch meat option as well as a great organic sliced cheddar cheese
We have also been making grilled cheese sandwiches to dunk in this wonderful organic creamy tomato basil soup. 
Our other go to lunch, especially when we have left over ground beef or chicken, is quesidillas. We use a single tortilla, folded in half, stuffed with meat, cheese, chili seasoning, and salsa.

For dinner, we have enjoyed several hearty meals perfect to cozy up with. We made a delicious beef stew, following this recipe with the exception of using Spice Hunter organic poultry seasoning in place of the listed spices.
We were inspired by this recipe to make our pork chop dish-
Instead of the crockpot (due to a time crunch), we baked our pork chops (covered with cream of chicken soup and sprinkled with ranch seasoning) on a bed of homemade scalloped potatoes. It turned out great, but next time I will let the potatoes bake a little before adding the pork chops to the top due to the different cook times. For this recipe, I made the cream of chicken soup following this recipe. It turned out just as good as any from a can.
We also made our first attempt at roasting a whole organic chicken.  We dressed it in butter and our beloved poultry seasoning, stuffed it with apple slices, and surrounded it with diced carrots, celery, and potatoes. We cooked it in our 3 qt. Romertopt clay baker for an hour. It was perfection! Now I just need a larger clay baker for entertaining and as our family grows- birthday gift idea anyone? ;)
I then used the left over chicken to make a delicious chicken noodle soup.

For dessert, I have really been wanting to try out one of the very popular banana recipes on Pinterest, so Claire and I gave this one a shot.
We added 1 tsp. of cinnamon and 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips.  They were so yummy, and best of all, I didn't have to feel guilty for allowing Claire to indulge in dessert.

Hopefully we can keep up with our positive changes and continue to convert them into habits. Next week, I am planning to attempt homemade organic cheddar cheese crackers, baking our sandwich bread (I have yet to master a recipe soft enough for Jason's liking), and implementing a meatless night.

One of Jason's favorite quotes:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Claire's First Birthday

It is official, Jason and I survived our first year of parenting! Even more importantly, Claire did ;) This year has been absolutely incredible, far more than I could have ever dreamed it would/could be. The three of us have played, laughed, loved, and grown together. If it is true that "you are only given as much as you can handle", someone must not have had much faith in us because we were truly blessed with an angel of a daughter!

Claire is such a sweet heart! She loves to cuddle, give kisses, and come in for a "bear hug" during which she will often sweetly pat you on the back.  She is an incredible mommy to her baby Grandma Kent gave her for Christmas- toting her everywhere we go and treating her to the same snuggles and back pats. Claire absolutely adores other children, always greeting them with babbles and smiles.  Her best bud these days is her cousin, Asher, to which she lights up with delight and offers sweet hugs.  Claire is pure joy from the moment she wakes to, literally, the moment she goes to bed- she fell asleep giggling a few nights this week :)

Claire is quite social, never allowing for a dull moment! She now shakes her head no and yes, responds to her name being called with "huh", says dad, mama, "bou, bou" for bounce, "aww" to any snuggle, "ah" and a mouth pat to ask for a drink or bite, uses "what" & "this", and knows what many objects are when we say their name.  Claire is still a hard sell to get to giggle, but she is quite the ham when she has an audience! I apologize to her future teachers, as I am sure we have an up and coming class clown on our hands- she just loves to get a rise out of people. The bigger the crowd, the better :) Along with her pure joy, she has also begun finding new ways to express her frustrations- yes, we are talking temper tantrums... Luckily, they are usually very easy to diffuse.

Claire is quite the dare devil climber these days.  She climbs up on the couch and (luckily) has figured out how to climb back down with ease.  She loves climbing up onto, then over, and all around her rocker (she got for her birthday). Other favorites are the clothes hamper, Mom and Dad's bed, any chair, and her toy boxes. Claire is still apprehensive on the walking front, cruising the full perimeter of the house so long as she has at least one hand on the wall :) She has begun standing on her own when she has adequate motivation.  She is a speed crawler, and with the aforementioned climbing, is happily getting around just fine :)

Claire is still just as tiny as anticipated.  She is weighing in at 16 pounds 4 ounces, 27 inches tall.  She continues to ride the 3rd percentile of the growth chart, which seems to be her permanent residence :) 

We threw a party in honor of Claire's birthday last weekend, using the theme "One Upon A Time". Jason and I had a blast planning the fairytale theme, spending months focusing on every detail.  
We went with an "anitque/woodland" feel, searching thrift stores (wonderful for books! and the treasure of our gift table cover), Cargo Largo (the bearer of our Libbey drinking jars, Carlisle plates, green vases, napkins, Rachel Ray cake plate, and snack table curtains), Old Time Pottery (for our antique feel glassware), Birthday Express (paper straws, crepe paper, paper table cloth, and tissue paper decor), Michael's (Brides cake stand and timeline clothes pins), Sam's Club (flowers), Dainty Cake's (guest's cupcakes), and Nature's Pantry (Honest Kid's pouches and Annie's cheddar bunnies; organic cake, cookies, tortillas, grape jelly, apples, juice for lemonade, and cream cheese; also beet powder for food coloring)
It was so much fun to see everything come together and become the vision we had worked so hard to create.  Claire was an absolute doll the whole time- opening her gifts like a pro, diving right into her smash cake, and socializing with all of her guests :)
Here are a few pictures of the details:

Here is a link to a full album of images: 

 We are very excited as we enter this new phase with Claire, as she has become a sponge for knowledge! We spend countless hours reading every book in her library, pointing out the objects while she attempts to repeat their names. She has a fascination for tiny objects, often finding  little bits of paper or other random objects and holding on to them like treasure.  Claire is so wonderful to play with and has been very happy to share all her new toys with us this week :)

We hope everyone has a wonderful February! We are counting down the days until spring and can't wait to tell you all about our projects we plan to launch.

Crystal, Jason, and Claire

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Holiday Season 2012

We had a wonderful family filled holiday season!

Starting in October, we had a great first Halloween with Claire.  She, of course, was an Angel.  It was a pleasure (for the most part) making her costume.  I purchased rolls of silver and white tulle to make a tutu, baby doll wings attached with Velcro to the back of her onsie,  and a thin feather boa glued to a bangle and attached to a sequin headband.  She looked adorable!  I will have to look back at these photos next year when I am spending countless hours sitting at the sewing machine to making Claire's next costume masterpiece and remind myself why it is worth while ;)  We spent Halloween night at home handing candy out to trick or treater's and having family over to visit.

 In November, we enjoyed a multitude of Thanksgiving dinners.  We started off the holiday the Sunday before at my Dad's for a tasty traditional meal, followed by a late lunch Thanksgiving day at my Mom's and dinner at Jason's parents.  Claire loved giving to try so many new foods! She loved Aunt Heidi's homemade mac and cheese, my maple sweet potato casserole, Grandpa Trish's dinner rolls, and Grandma Kent's watergate salad.  Of course, given the fact she is my daughter, there wasn't a single dessert she didn't enjoy :)

December was wonderful, as we were very blessed to spend much of Christmas week with the majority of our family.  We started the Sunday before by celebrating with the extended Dodd family.  It was so wonderful to see family members we hadn't had the opportunity to see for many years.  We spent Christmas Eve with Jason's family, all of which were in town except David and Brittney- whom we missed dearly!  We enjoyed their traditional finger-food dinner, followed by a game and story time with all the kids.  It is so much fun to watch all of them in one room playing- so long as you don't mind noise and the occasional role of referee ;)  We had a very laid back Christmas morning at home, just the three of us, as we enjoyed Claire opening all her gifts.  We followed that up with a delicious brunch and gifts at Grandpa Dodd's.  We spent Christmas evening enjoying a dinner with the extended Kent family, where Claire had a great time socializing with everyone.  Our last Christmas celebration was the day after, during which we hosted a casual dinner with my Mom and siblings.

New Years was not much of a celebration this year.  I worked the holiday, enjoying a mid-night baby bottle toast of sparkling apple juice with co-workers.  Jason and Claire enjoyed an evening visit to see Grandma and Grandpa Kent, then headed home to get some rest.

We are excited as we enter 2013 for all the excitement this year is sure to hold! First up: Claire is turning one! We have two short weeks until her birthday and are busy planning a party to remember :)

Happy New Year (a little late)!

Jason, Crystal, and Claire

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I couldn't help but share it here. One thing I have learned since entering the parenthood game is that there are far too many people out there that will happily jump at the chance to judge the choices you make as a parent- especially if they are different from theirs.  Unsolicited advice is around every corner and I make every attempt to take it gracefully. I had a beautiful  epidural free delivery that I would have loved to (hold your gasp) have done at home, therefor I am kicked out of most birth conversations as "crazy".  As a breastfeeding hippy, organic, cloth diapering Mom who works in a Pampers, formula, prescription filled NICU, I can see both sides of the fence. Lets follow the advice of this author and get over it- if only for the sake of our sanity :)

excerpt from Out Of The Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load
by Jen Hatmaker

An ode to the marvelous woman called “Mother”
Though not one of us is exactly like another. 

From the second we’re born to the minute we die 
Our preferences are as limitless as stars in the sky.

We might have been perfectly gracious before 

But childbirth entered us in the Mommy War. 
Rather than letting everyone else be 
We criticize parenting that isn’t exactly like . . . me.

So once and for all let me put this to rest 

None of us owns the title of “best.”
Natural childbirth does not make you a hippy 
Epidurals are not just for women who want to feel trippy.

In a bathtub with a doula or in a hospital bed

We all got a baby with limbs and a head. 
Nursing is great if nothing goes wrong
But some nipples turn inward and refuse to play along.

This is a choice for each mom–it’s her route

So it’s just A + B and everyone else can C their way out.
Schedules and timers do not make you cruel 
Feeding on demand does not make you a fool.

In the nursery with a monitor or in the family bed

Every chick gets to pick where her baby lays his head.
If I see one more mom roll her eyes at “organic . . .”
“Partially hydrogenated” throws some of us into panic.

But neither judge Sonic burgers and fries

Some of us just want to enjoy food before we die. 
Preschool, home school, public, or Montessori
Listen, my friends, and I’ll tell you a story:

Two moms differed on favorite school trends

Their kids turned out pretty much the same. The end.
If a girl gets the title of “mom” accidentally 
The worst thing we can do is treat her judgmentally.

How about some love, some help, some advice?

She needs our love and we shouldn’t think twice.
Discipline through various methods will prevail 
Look, we’re all just trying to keep our kids out of jail.

These things are just preferences, not right or wrong

What matters more is teaching our kids to get along– 
To love and to share, to speak gently and kind
To obey so that mom won’t go out of her mind.

Showing them Jesus is our common ground

Teaching them how he can always be found
He’s present in public school and Waldorf (so trendy)
He’s over at Whole Foods but also at Wendy’s.

Jesus never cared about these sorts of things

It’s our hearts that he wants and the worship we bring.
It’s time for us moms to declare a truce 
Regardless if we buy Capri Sun or 100 percent juice.

My way is not your way, and your way isn’t mine 

But both of our kids will turn out just fine.
Rather than judging and looking down our noses
Let’s enjoy the common ground motherhood poses.

As believers, we all love the same good Lord

We all have children who tell us “I’m bored.”
We all need more sleep than these tiny five hours
Most of us struggle to find time for a shower.

We haven’t been to the bathroom alone in an age

Our mothers have all told us, “Relax, this is just a stage.”
We all love our babies so much we could die 
We’d take a bullet for each one without batting an eye.

Though we are different, we’re in the same tribe 

Motherhood requires a similar vibe– 
Love and affection, sacrifice and grace 
Laughter, which keeps the whole mechanism in place.

Though different, by the grace of God, I suspect: 

ALL our children will rise up and call us ... collect.