Annual Apple Picking

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Last weekend we made our annual trip out to Peace Valley orchards. I thought Sophie would enjoy it more, now that she is a little older, but my little grumpy girl had just awoken from a nap as we were arriving. Cora on the other hand was thrilled and excited by the sensory overload.

She could not stop touching all of the gourds! Sophie preferred to stay in my Mother-in-law’s arms.

They didn’t only have apples in the country store on the property, but lots of other locally grown vegetables. We picked up an eggplant, [for the delicious ratatouille I’ve been making lately,] an onion, plums, and 2 peppers in addition to our bag full of apples. Of course, I couldn’t resist letting Cora pick a gourd since she had become so fond of them.

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It seems silly to drive 45 minutes just for some apples, but i enjoy driving the country roads and the atmosphere of the orchards. It really makes me feel like fall is approaching, even if the weather has still been hot and humid.

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I am so excited to share the holiday season with both girls. Sophie is getting older and subsequently more curious and excited about new traditions, while Cora has a curious nature in general. I love watching them explore and experience new things.

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In a few weeks it will be time to find a pumpkin patch, but for now, I need to come up with some truly delicious apple recipes. I have plans for some delicious pork chops and apple hand pies.

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Thanks for reading up on our apple picking adventure!

Our Finished Dining Room

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I can with 100% certainty say that our dining room is FINISHED! Ah… it feels so good to say. It feels even better to know there is an entire room in our new house that is completely styled to our satisfaction. I liked the warmth of the farmhouse, but also wanted to incorporate the cool industrial look into our space since we live in the Steel Valley! In fact, our town is quite the juxtaposition being equal distance from cozy, family farms and steel mills. Speaking of contrast, I just can’t get over the before & after pictures of this space:

I like the actual place I’m living in to contain elements from what the area is notorious for. In San Diego it was pretty obvious: beach. My room had walls coated in a sand-like texture with the smallest flecks of gold, and I usually kept seashells on my dresser. This is starkly different from my usual beachy vibes, but this style feels earned. I really had to embrace not just Ohio, but this particular valley, and now I display it like a badge of honor in my home.

 

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The chairs are definitely what tied this whole room together for me. Despite them being a cold metal, which is some thing J was concerned about, they are actually quite comfortable and easy to clean. Even my curvy self sits comfortably in these chairs!

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These awesome chairs can be found here and are fairly affordable. The nice people at Anji Modern Furniture offered me a discount for reviewing these beauties on Amazon for them, as well as offering a little shoutout here, up on my blog. The truth is though, that I had already made up my mind that these were the chairs for us before we officially purchased them.

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Columbus Overview

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Last week when we went to Columbus the weather was absolutely horrible, so it was really convenient that my mother-in-law and I decided to go shopping at the gorgeous, indoor, Polaris mall. Our husbands on the other hand, we trapped at the Ohio State football game where the weather was so bad there was a game delay, leading them to eventually come back to the hotel and watch the game on TV.

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 The Columbus Zoo play area at Polaris Fashion Place is one of the many experience-shopping options available for families at the Columbus mall. Courtesy of Glimcher Realty Trust

While they still had a great time, I feel that my MIL and I got the better portion. The Polaris mall has an amazing variety of stores that we don’t get here on the East side of the Ohio Valley. Not to mention, they had a huge play area for the kids that Sophie totally loved. The most annoying part though, as is the pet peeve of every place place, is there there were bigger kids, totally disregarding the height limit for the play place, bullying the small kids. Like a good helicopter mom, I followed Sophie around and made sure no punks pushed her out of the way or yelled at her.

Later that evening , J and I were able to sneak in a spontaneous date night, as the rest of our crew wanted to dine in and order take out. We went to the Bonefish grille for the first time and it was delicious. We both got fish tacos, giving us a feel like  we were on vacation. It was a fun weekend, and I am glad we went even though it is always tough to travel with young kids.

Day Trip to Columbus

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I am really excited for a little trip we are taking to Columbus tomorrow! A few months ago, our uncle got tickets to an Ohio State game for his birthday, and so it was decided that the men would go to the game, while the ladies [and babies] did some shopping. We have a hotel downtown and are planning on going out altogether, after the game, for a nice dinner.

It is so nice to get away, even if you’re only going a couple hours West. I love a change of scenery, plus my mother in law is good company. Hopefully the girls will behave, and we will all have a great time.

Be on the lookout for cute pictures next week! Until then, Have a great weekend!

GO BUCKEYES.

Winding Down Summer

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Like a true Californian, I want all the perks of fall time without the weather becoming too much colder. We have some exiting things coming up like : a double date with our friends, an Ohio State football game, and apple picking. I’m looking forward to these events, though still wishing that the warm weather won’t be leaving us.

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Even though I have grown quite fond of the Buckeye state, it is hard for me to reconcile with the impending doom of winter. Earlier in the week, my mom sent me a picture of a shirt that said: “I bake because punching people is frowned upon.” I, of course, laughed… but then I thought a little deeper about it and my love for baking. When the weather changes, I really do go into baking mode, and you can find me in the kitchen almost every day working on a new treat. I always thought that it was because I liked to be by the warm oven while it is cooling off outside. Here is my new theory though, the kitchen is where my expertise in baking collides with irreconcilable mourning of summer.

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I don’t know how or when I will stop longing for sunshine. Of course, I am the one who made the decision to stay out here in Ohio, so there must have been a good reason for leaving California. But like most decisions, we forget why we make the changes we do. We choose to see the past through the most flattering of lenses. Even though I know this, the weather still tugs on my heart strings and makes me question where I live and why I can’t go back to the golden state. So, I bake. I measure, I read recipes, I focus… it is where what I don’t know collides with what I do know.

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My mind is clear when I am in the kitchen. I carefully read instructions, take care when using specific tools, and improve my technique when I can. Baking is some thing that, when you follow the instructions and do the best you can, you will always get a perfect result. In life, [or at least in my own life] the reaction is almost always opposite. You can try your best, do every thing “right” and things may still not work out. I can control the speed on my mixer, but what I can’t control is every element affecting my everyday life. And so, I bake…

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Last week was a blur of trying to get caught up with housework. We all have weeks like that. The one good thing was that I was able to get together with some local moms, and have them over in our new house for some coffee and donuts.
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I had been having a tough week with Cora, the house was a wreck, and I had a friend hurt my feelings. I was a hormonal, emotional wreck. The local community of moms had no idea how I was feeling and yet just their presence, lighthearted conversation and fellowship completely cheered me up. As much as I struggle living outside of the Golden State, those are the moments that remind me why I decided to settle here in the first place.

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In other news, Cora is basically crawling. She can army crawl like a banshee, and can crawl short distances on her knees. Physically, she is so far ahead of where Sophie was at this age. She impresses us every day! Who knows what God has in store for a girl with her determination…

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One of the cons of such determination is that it makes her a fighter against every thing. We have had to resort to “crying it out” with her at nap and bed time. Sophie was easily soothed by my voice or my touch; Cora screams whether she is being held or left in a crib. Crying it out allows her to work through her tantrum and gives me the permission to separate myself from her fits. It helps me to calm down and not take her screaming rage personally. In fact, I would even go so far as to say the CIO method has made me more patient and loving toward her. We let her cry in 10 minute increments before going in to pat her on the back for a few minutes.  We repeat the cycle until she falls asleep. The longest she has cried is 50 minutes, but it has gotten to be less and less time the more we have practiced letting her cry it out.
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When she is awake she is such a happy, charismatic kid! There are many families in our little community who have kids around her and Sophie’s age, so I can’t wait to strengthen some of my own relationships with other moms, which will hopefully lead to solid friendships for my kids.

How do you expand your network of local parents?

6 Month Cora Update!

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This adorable little girl is 6 months old, already! Her first year is half over! I can hardly believe it… Some improvements to this model: she only wakes once throughout the night, she is responding well to sleep training, she can pretty much crawl, she LOVES sweet potato and has actually picked up on how to eat solid food rather quick. Cora Grace has no teeth yet, and she is still a fighter when it comes to naps. She likes to work herself up and become really fussy right before passing out. She still loves her penguin pacifier, but is more focused on the teething toys. Just because she doesn’t have teeth yet, doesn’t mean they’re not coming!

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Overall, she is a happy kid. She is quick and curious and strong… and she is beginning to stress Sophie out as she didn’t realize her baby sister was going to be competition for toys so soon. Cora wants to do every thing her big sissy is doing! And so the rivalry begins…

Cora has some serious core strength too. She rocks tummy time, can crawl a few steps at a time, and can officially sit up for long periods of time.

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If this is how quickly she has grown in the first 6 months, I can’t wait to see what she does with the next 6! One thing that hasn’t changed though, is that she is still extremely social, loves face time, and being apart of whatever the family is doing. She hates feeling like she is missing out on the fun and will fuss incessantly if you try to keep her from conversation or family activity. In any case, we love our little extrovert. Happy 6 months, Cora Grace!

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Fall Bucket List

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Now, before all you summer-lovers jump on my back like, “IT’S NOT FALL YET!” Trust me, I know. I am no lover of fall. Did you know…. after fall comes WINTER? Yeah, you don’t have to convince me that summer is the beast season, I know. So why create a fall bucket list? Simply for the reason that I have to psyche myself up for fall. Now That I have lived in Ohio for roughly 7 falls, I’ve come up with a few favorite things to do here that I can’t necessarily do in California.

Here is the list:

  1. Apple picking – it’s just not the same in the golden State!
  2. watching the leaves change color – palm trees have no changing color
  3. bonfire on a chilly night
  4. drink seasonal spirits (spiked cider, pumpkin ale, etc.)
  5. photoshoot at the pumpkin patch with the kids
  6. put up seasonal decor
  7. go to a fall festival
  8. toast pumpkin seeds
  9. go on a hayride! (so many more local farms here!)
  10. curl up under blankets and watch a movie with hot cocoa
  11. make pumpkin bread
  12. jump on crunchy leaves
  13. get a fall themed mani/pedi (I like dark red)
  14. get out your football fan gear! People are more serious about their football out here.
  15. EAT CANDY

Ok, so that last one every one can do regardless of state or season… but its so much more fun when they come in festive little fun-sized packages!

Hope this helps you look forward to fall, even if you’re a summer-lover like me

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Breastfeeding Awareness Week

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I think I may have just missed the window for Breastfeeding Awareness week [blame the mommy brain] but I want to share this post with you anyway. As many of you know, I breastfed Sophie for 18 months, until I got pregnant with Cora. For some reason, nursing wasn’t that beautiful, bonding experience for me, but I knew it was what was best for my child’s health and so I stuck with it. Then comes Cora… Just when I thought I couldn’t dislike nursing more than I already did, I have a baby who doesn’t like it. Seconds after giving birth, I was able to nurse her and she latched on right away. All the nurses were so proud of us for the next few days, cheering me on in my nursing ability with my baby, cheering on Cora for having a good latch. Once we got home though, Cora would thrash her head, begin to fuss if the milk didn’t let down immediately, and overall made breastfeeding a very unpleasant experience for everyone. Fast forward to her being 3 months old and I become sick and have to be in the hospital for several days. Due to circumstances beyond my control, they don’t let me see or feed Cora for the first few days, and then once I finally do get to feed her, our nursing relationship is completely obliterated by nipple confusion and a low supply of milk.

It was so hard for me to surrender my nursing relationship with Cora. My readers may remember me posting often about how we had a hard time bonding in the beginning, and it felt like this obstacle further separated us. The truth is, she was happier to have the ease of a bottle, and I was happy not to have to wrestle her at feedings any more. What I am thankful for is this: we tried. We desperately tried to breastfeed for almost 4 months. I run into people in my town with 1-4 day old babies who are bottle fed, and these mothers freely admit that they just didn’t want to be inconvenienced by breastfeeding. I get it, I totally do. After being hospitalized, I didn’t want to be inconvenience by a lactation consultant working for weeks to correct my daughter’s nipple confusion. I didn’t want to take supplements and be a slave to my pump just trying to boost my supply. But I do think it is worth it for all women to try. [Disclaimer: I get that some times there are outside factors some women cannot control, that prevent them from breastfeed. This is not a message for you, mamas.]

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It seems unfair that we have to suffer 9 months of pregnancy, suffer through labor, and then suffer indefinitely until we learn how to nurse our babies [hello, cracked nipples!] and that is why I LOVE this image of Mary. It is called “Our Lady of Le Leche” and she is a beautiful reminder of what a gift it is to breastfeed. God endowed only women with the ability to nourish their children like this. Jesus Christ himself depended on Mary to feed and care for him with her body. I wish it was some thing I had learned about sooner, but now that I have discovered this beautiful image I wanted to share it with you all for Breastfeeding Awareness week. If you just google this title of Mary, you will find lots of prayers and meditations on Jesus’ and Mary’s relationship, motherhood, and more specifically how to nurse! I highly recommend it for any Christian mommy.

To all the mommy’s like myself, who couldn’t keep up with breastfeeding, don’t beat yourself up! You gave your child a beautiful gift for as long as you possibly could manage. And to all the nursing mamas out there, we salute you! It is so typical of our society to surrender what is best for a child in the name of convenience. I get that nursing isn’t easy, but you are doing a wonderful thing for your baby and we applaud you for it.

 

Happy Breastfeeding, mamas!

An Evening At The Park

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Since J got me a FitBit for Christmas, I have been trying to be more conscious of my physical activity, sleep, and overall health. I try to get out of the house with the girls once a day, whether it be running errands, or going for a walk specifically for exercise, especially since warm sunny days are rare in the Ohio Valley.

The other day, we walked down to our local park during the golden hour, just before sunset, and I was able to snap a few pictures of Sophie. J has joined in the Pokemon Go craze, so he was happy to go. All in all, it was a nice and spontaneous outing. [For those who don’t know, it is tough to be spontaneous with littles… especially if it requires leaving the house.]

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Cora wanted to get out of the stroller, and in on the real action! I can’t wait until she is big enough to run after her older sister, as the desire is clearly there already.

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