Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Baby Tips and Tricks (A Work in Progress)

Hello, all! I still can't believe that my sweet little baby is growing up on me. If she wasn't getting cuter by the day, I might complain ;) Little baby E is not quite so little anymore as she hits the 11 month mark in mid-November. Because she is a little explorer, messy eater, and overall smart baby that loves playing with new and exciting "toys," I thought I would put together a post with some of the things that I have made and/or done in order to make my life a little easier. You'll notice that the title of this post includes the phrase "A Work in Progress" because I do not claim to be any sort of expert. Let me have a few more kids before I start with my expert advice ;) Heh. But seriously. I have some friends who are new moms like me, others that are pregnant currently, and more that will be moms in the future, so I wanted to pass on what tips I have as of now. As with most things, my list is in no particular order other than the sequence in which I thought of them as I was writing this.

Sensory Board

I saw this idea on Pinterest when I was looking for activity ideas for Evie. I saw several ideas and used them in order to create my own! I basically just looked around the house for a day or so coming up with various textures for the board. I included the following: Pipe cleaners, ribbon, soft fabric, elastic, fabric flower, cupcake liners (aluminum and paper), random plastic from packaging, straws, and pre-wrap (I use it as headbands when I run/exercise). I cut the longer/bigger items (straws, pipe cleaners, elastic, fabric) into smaller pieces first and then laid everything out on the cardboard piece. I rearranged some so that the textures were mixed up and then I used a hot glue gun to glue them into place! I also had a balloon (un-inflated) originally, but the material didn't attach well to the glue and Evie was able to pull it right off.

Sensory Bottles

I posted about these briefly back in this post, but I thought I would talk about them a little bit more. Evie loves these (and all things that make noise), so I am quite proud of them. I used mini water bottles (that Graham drinks at work) and filled them with various items. I started with rice because Evie had a blast playing with it one night while I was making dinner (see this post). I then looked around to see what random objects I had that could be useful for these bottles. I put colored buttons in one (that I had leftover from making refrigerator magnets a couple of years ago), and pink flowers in another (leftover from headbands made for Evie at a baby shower). After Evie pulled apart my necklace one day, leaving me with a million blue beads, I tossed them in another one. She loves shaking them and gets a big kick out of it. Currently I have these put away and other toys out for her to play with in the living room (I rotate a basket and have the other items/toys in a bin in her room), but I will probably be getting them back out soon. 

Wire Barrier

Now, this might seem silly to you, but it has been a serious help. We are in a two bedroom apartment, so our computer is in the living room (and doubles as our TV). With two monitors, speakers, keyboard, mouse, internet router and modem, and a webcam, there are a lot of wires. Babies love wires. At least, Evie certainly does. I went through periods of barricading them (normally by putting the ottoman underneath the desk) but that would get annoying to move things back and forth. Plus I would forget to do it semi-regularly. Doing dishes, prepping dinner, anything and everything took longer because I would have to walk over and snatch Evie up (as she laughed maniacally) over and over again. Finally, I wised up. I made what I like to call a wire barrier. Before making it, Graham and I had discussed it...but I just never got around to it and wasn't quite sure how I wanted to do it either. My mom bought me a yoga mat for my birthday (which I love!!) and it came in a nice big box. After letting Evie play in the box for a week or so, I created my barrier. Is it fancy? No. Is it pretty? No. Does it do the job? YES. And that's what matters. Evie crawled up to it once, stood up and pushed on it a bit, and hasn't messed with it since. Wires successfully blocked.

Ribbon Pulling

I got this idea from story time at the library. I go twice a week when they have baby story time for ages 0-2. Once a week after story time is over, the librarian brings out lots of toys for the kids to play with for the next 15-20 minutes. Included are some home made items! I saw a couple of these there and decided to make my own, even though Evie hadn't played with the ones at the library at all. We had a container from some baby snack food (that I bought for her when she was being watched by my father in-law while we helped with the Outback in the Ozarks race--more of that here!). I washed it out and dried it, cut a few slits in the top, pulled the ribbons through (one for each slit), and knotted both ends of each ribbon. Boom, done. Well, then I got out my zebra print duct tape and covered the outside of it :) Boom, done-r. The ribbons are different lengths and textures (her favorite one has bumps along the sides and it makes a great noise when she pulls it out). I love packing this one in the bag to take to church or meetings because she can be entertained with it and it's not very heavy!

Dining "floor mat"

People with kids that eat can relate with me on this one. After Evie became an adept eater, I felt like I was sweeping all day long. I thought that there had to be an easier way. So I created a nice little floor mat to go underneath her highchair. It's literally a plastic table cloth that I picked up for $2 and then cut into pieces. It was super long, so I cut it into four pieces. I put it under her highchair when she eats and then after the meal is done I pick it up and dump it in the trash/sink (for the garbage disposal). It has been so nice! Especially for after dinner because I clean up the kitchen and do the dishes while Graham gets Evie ready for bed. He often finishes before I do, so having the mat down allows me to be just a little bit faster and it's great!

Baby Led Weaning 

So I'll only touch on this briefly (as I've done with the other items on my list today), but if anyone is curious about a more in-depth process/our experience with this, let me know and I can expand and do an entire post on it :)

We decided to take this approach with solid foods really without too much thought. I say "too much" because after hearing about it I obviously did some research, but I didn't stress over it. Thank you Pinterest for providing a wonderful search avenue! We love this method of introducing solids because it is so stinking easy. Messy? Yes, indeed. But did I have to let my food get cold while trying to force feed my child with a spoon? Nope. (And I'm not knocking anyone who feeds their baby with a spoon, just to clarify. I think you do what works best for you!) Once Evie was interested in food, we started putting her in her high chair during meal time and would give her whatever we were eating. She hit this point in the summer, so she had lots of watermelon experiences early on! After about a month of playing with her food and not really eating much at all, a flip switched overnight and she started eating like crazy!! She learned to chew all on her own during that time, and knows how to feed herself with a "loaded" spoon (food already on it, scooping it up on her own is still a challenge). I had always thought I would make my own baby food/purees, but this has turned out to be super easy and we definitely plan to use this approach again with future kids.

Thanks for tuning in, guys! As always, I appreciate your love and comments that you leave (both here and on Facebook). Let me know if there are any tips/tricks or daily life questions that you have and I can be sure to do a post on them. Feel free to message, comment, text, or email to get in contact with me. I love your feedback, and I love sharing about our daily happenings here on the blog.

From Marissa, with love.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Daily Life Update #3

Well, it's that time again. My goal is to post twice a month now, so you'll likely see a Daily Life Update once a month. That way I only have to come up with other, clever things once a month ;) But, I feel like this is the type of post that most of you want to see anyways. You want to know what is going on with us, so away I type. **If you missed the first two, you can find them here and here**


This little miss just keeps on growing! I found a Halloween shirt in her bin of clothes (for those who don't know, we were gifted a ton of clothes, toys, and random baby things from a family at the day care I used to work at) and I'm glad that I thought to check what clothes were in the bin when I did. I checked the week of Halloween! So she got to wear it all of twice... oh well. I feel like it makes her look all grown up.

For Halloween, I made her the best costume ever! Heh. She was Dobby the house elf and I was Hermione, complete with S.P.E.W. gear (**If you don't know what I'm talking about, refer to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. No, not the movie. The book. Unfortunately, S.P.E.W. was not able to make an appearance in the movie**) Graham was working on the night of our church's Trunk or Treat and on Halloween, so he missed out on our costume fun this year.

I try and take Evie to baby story-time at the library (it's for ages 0-2 and occurs twice a week) and on the Thursday before Halloween, they gave out little treat bags and took us "Trick or Treating" to the back offices of the library. I scored an almond joy for me (and a butterscotch dum-dum because they are the best) and lots of suckers for Graham :) Evie was lucky and was able to share the goldfish and fruit snacks with me. ;)

Evie is growing more socially aware and totally has a social laugh. It is the cutest. Someone (or a group) will laugh and then a few seconds later she will start cracking up. She is getting way too big! I need her to slow down and to stay small forever :) She is getting close to being able to stand on her own. She has done it a few times for several seconds, and we can tell that she is trying to figure it out. She also loves to dance! Any time she hears music or a beat, she will start to dance. We love it!

We recently stayed at my in-laws house while they were away, and Evie loved getting to spend time with their dog, Roxie. Anytime Roxie was in the house, Evie would want to watch her and see what she was up to. I would throw a ball for Roxie and Evie would laugh every time that Roxie brought it back to us. Also, I found some bubbles over there and blew them for Evie which she loved. We have been going to baby story-time at the library and they have bubbles there as well. She doesn't really try to catch them, but she does get mesmerized watching them float in the air.


I have been keeping up with working out, and have recently decided to make my exercise goal be 5 times a week now. I was doing 4 days a week consistently and felt like I could alter my goal. Mostly I have been doing Pilates videos and I can tell that I am getting stronger, but I have also started running a little more. After helping out with the Outback in the Ozarks race in October, (see this post) I decided to sign up for a 5K trail run. Now, maybe that 3.1 miles seems like a lot to you, or maybe it seems like hardly anything. For me, at this stage in my life, it was a lot. Plus I'm not an experienced trail runner... But enough excuses. It was only $5 so I decided I was going to do it! The race was on the morning of October 31, so when I heard about it and signed up, I had 3ish weeks to prepare. I only made it out 4 times to run before that day (things just always seem to come up, you know??), one of which being on trail. Graham and I went out to Hobbs State Park and ran on one of the trails there (did about 3.5 miles?) while his mom watched Evie. It was beautiful and great...for the first mile. Then it was killer. I was sore for days, and that was just a training run! I had hoped that Graham would be able to switch his work schedule to be off that day, but he wasn't able to so I had to run it all by myself :(

The run was called the Coyote Challenge and took place at Lake Fort Smith State Park. My goal going into the run was to do it without walking. I am proud to say that I did it! I anticipated being slow (my hope was to complete it in under 40 minutes, but I wasn't sure if that would happen or not), and I am happy to say that I finished the run in around 35 minutes. No, it wasn't fast. But I was perfectly happy (and actually pleasantly surprised!) with my time. For those of you who haven't ever ran on trail, you don't get to judge! Hah. It's slow going. And the morning of the race it was rainy/misty so everything was slick. Thankfully, there were no injuries. I didn't finish last, and I actually passed 3 people. Woohoo!

I stopped on my way back and took a few pictures by Lake Fort Smith at the scenic overlook point.

I recently celebrated my 23rd birthday. Graham was working that day, so I didn't really do that much on my actual birthday. I went over to a friend's house to help her with some crafts for our church's Trunk or Treat that night, spent the rest of the afternoon at home, and then went to the Trunk or Treat for a bit before Graham got home from work. My sister called and sang Happy Birthday to me with two of her boys (the oldest was in school), my mom called during her lunch, and I received lots of Happy Birthday texts and Facebook posts. Thanks everyone! It's great to feel loved :)

Right now I feel like my only hobby is reading. I'm pleased to say that I don't mind that one bit! After reading the Mistborn books (I still need to read #5 that came out in October), I told my sister Camille to bring me everything else she had by Brandon Sanderson. Those books are that incredible! I read the first two books in The Reckoners series (book 3 comes out in January), and am now reading Elantris. It is intriguing so far, but I haven't read much of it yet. I love getting to delve into a new world and magic system every time I pick up one of Sanderson's books. It's the best you guys :)


Graham has been working just as hard as ever and still loves his job (tiring though it is). He comes home every day exhausted, but Evie gives him energy because she is always so excited to see him. It seriously is so cute to see her when he gets home. She will start laughing and smiling and want to follow him around everywhere (he showers before holding her because...ICU...hah).

Graham has been better about working out too and will go running with me sometimes. Often, he chooses to go lift weights in the fitness center of our apartment complex. He is still watching NCIS on Netflix (I love the show and get to see random episodes with him) and loves to relax by taking a long bath.


We haven't been up to much of note that didn't already apply to any of the individual break-downs, hah. We normally take walks together as a family on days that Graham is home from work. We also enjoy being able to have time together doing the little things (meals, playing with Evie, reading stories, etc.) when he isn't working.

This week I chose a scripture from The New Testament. John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Graham chose a scripture from the Book of Mormon. Alma 24:19 "And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war for peace."

Happy November!