Friday, January 16, 2015

Baby's 1st Guitar Lesson

Have you ever noticed that bloggers seem to go MIA for a while and then suddenly they return with an announcement that they are pregnant?

Yeah, that's not why I haven't been blogging.  :)

Between the holidays, my mother-in-law visiting, throwing a baby shower, and work (I worked over 50 hours this last week), I really don't have a ton to blog about.

BUT...

Last night, I was at a meeting and Phil decided Henry needed his first guitar lesson.

And because he is the best husband in THE WORLD, he filmed it.  And then he made a little movie.

It might be the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Here you go.



Baby's 1st Guitar Lesson from Natalie Janney on Vimeo.


I'm really hoping to get a life here soon, so I have something to blog about.  :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Survive/Thrive

It's about that time... time for a 2014 recap/2015 goal setting.

I started trying to think back over the last year and then I thought about the year before that... and then the year before that.  And I realized they all had a similar theme.

Survive

2012 was getting through cancer and then I was pregnant.
2013 we had a newborn and a terminal parent.
2014 was the completion of Phil's dissertation/defense.

We survived.  There's really no other way to put it.

But you know what... Now it is time for the Janney family to thrive!

(oh that was cheesy)

It feels like we have barely been getting by when it comes to several areas in our lives.  Lots of areas have been suffering.  Obviously this blog was severely neglected.  We have friends we haven't seen or talked to in months if not years.  Our gym has been thrilled with us as customers since we pay every month and BARELY go.

Even though 2014 was another hard year, it was full of some really amazing things.





















Healthy family, a new home, Phil finishing his doctorate.  In reality, I couldn't have asked for a better year.

But I am hoping 2015 will give us some time to settle in and really create a clear path for where we want our family to go.  Phil and I will be sitting down and filling out THIS SHEET from Emily Ley.  I also really want to get her Home Base Binder, so I can start doing a better job of keeping track of our money and planning.  And I think I need to get Lara Casey's Power Sheets.  I think having a written out plan for where I want things to go will help me keep my goals at the forefront.

In the past, I used to have a "bring it on" attitude towards each new year.  But after several years of it being "brought", my attitude has changed.  Now I feel like each new year is a total mystery, filled with both positive and negative challenges we will be faced with.  But I am hopeful.

2015, please be good to us.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Baby Gear: Car seat and Stroller



In my humble opinion, one of the most important purchases you make for your baby is the car seat.  Unless you live in a total urban environment, the car seat will become one of the most used baby items in your arsenal.  And it has a super important job: protect baby in case of car accident.  I mean really... it's a super important purchase.

The next big question... what about a stroller?  For the first 8 weeks, you can't even put your newborn in a regular stroller.  You pretty much have to keep them in the carseat.  So how do you decide on a stroller that works with your car seat without spending HUNDREDS of dollars on something that will hopefully fit in the truck of your car?

I've had a couple of friends who are having their first baby's ask my opinion on how to pick a car seat.  There are a MILLION different options.  How on earth are you supposed to know which one is the right one?

Hence, the birth of this blog post.  (Get it... new baby... birth...)

Here's the short answer... any car seat will work.  After hours of research and purchasing the most obscure car seat around (apparently) I finally came to this realization.  If they are selling it in the United States, it had to pass car crash studies, weight tests, and probably countless other tests.  Any current car seat (without recalls and with all the right parts) is probably going to function properly and be safe.  With that in mind, here are my tips of choosing the right car seat.

1.  Know your brands.  Graco.  Chico.  Britax.  Peg Perero.  There are a dozen different brands out there.  But it isn't so much about which brand is better (see comment above).  I think part of it is knowing what brands are the most used.  Do you have friends that have had one of them?  Did they like them?  What didn't they like?  Do any of the brands have current recalls?

2.  Examine them.  Is the cover easy to take off to wash (because you will have to wash various body fluids out of the car seat cover at some point).  Henry liked to have blow-outs on the way daycare EVERY DAY.  We cleaned the carseat A LOT.  Are there little crevices in the buckles that will be hard to clean?  Is the handle easy to maneuver?

3.  Try them out in the store.  Car seats are heavy on their own.  They are even HEAVIER when you are still using them for your 25 lb 9 month old.  Is it easy to carry one-handed?  Does it hurt your arm?  Is it easy to get out of the car seat base?

4.  Find out if your friends have any extra accessories you can borrow.  If you are like us, you will have at least 2 cars that will require a car seat base.  If your friend has an extra base you can borrow, it might be worth it to look at purchasing the same brand car seat as that base.  The bases are somewhere around $50 a piece.

5.  Know the stats.  What is the weight and height limit on the car seat?  Does it go up to 25 lbs or 35 lbs?  How long do you want to use the car seat?  We wanted to use the carseat for at least the first year, so we found one that went up to 35 lbs.  It turns out Henry got too tall for it so we have to switch sooner than that.  But it is good to know the weight and height limitations of the car seat before you purchase it.

Let's talk stroller...  First of all, I wouldn't recommend buying the travel systems where the giant stroller and car seat go together.  The strollers are HUGE.  And heavy.  We borrowed one initially and it barely fit into the back of our car.  Not to mention they are super expensive.  I recommend getting a car seat that has a matching stroller frame you can use.  The frames are light-weight, cheaper, and easy to snap the car seat into.  We purchased one that had a removable stroller seat, so we can still use the stroller even now that Henry is too big for the carrier car seat.

{Apparently they don't make the one we purchased anymore, but this one very similar 
(and more expensive unfortunately)}


Once you have made your car seat purchase, the next step is making sure it gets installed properly into your car and that you know how to put the baby in it.  Our hospital and local fire department put on car seat clinic every other month.  We took our car seat and the manual to them and they showed us step by step how to make it was level and put in properly.  They also showed us how to use the different features of the car seat and how to properly put a baby (or in this case, a stuffed animal) into the seat.  If your hospital doesn't do this, most fire departments have someone that can help.  Just call ahead and ask if they can check it for you and when would be a good time to stop by.

So there you go!  More than you ever needed to know about how to pick a car seat and stroller.

Friday, December 19, 2014

He PASSED!!!

I'm a few days late on posting this, but...

PHIL PASSED HIS DEFENSE!!!


I had really zero doubt in my mind that he would, but still there's a little part of you just can't wait for the relief that it is actually over.  He did a great job with his presentation, his public questions went well, and I am sure he did a great job with the closed door portion too.

So Phil is officially a doctor (of philosophy, not medicine).  I'm no longer the most educated person in the house.  :)

It is kind of funny because Phil almost doesn't know what to do with himself now that his dissertation and defense are done.  Not like he doesn't have a few things to do (he has a few revisions that he has to make), but it isn't the 24/7 type of work he has been doing.

And I am just totally exhausted.  As Phil was going through his presentation on Monday, I kind of relived the last 7 years.  There were parts of his research that I had kind of repressed a little.  Late nights, long hours, weekends alone, frustration in the process, etc.  By the time everything was said and done, I felt drained.

I have had a couple of days to kind of process everything and I am starting to get more and more excited about the fact that grad school is over.  It is definitely one of those things where it is good you don't really know what is ahead of you when you start down the road.  Graduate school is not for the faint at heart and neither is being a graduate wife.

Our first order of business after Phil's defense was to get him some ALUMNI gear.

{The ornament looks like of red, but it is actually orange}

After all, he most definitely earned it.  We had kind of discussed if Alumni stuff was appropriate for graduate work (since it seems like most of the time people only have that for undergraduate degrees), but then Phil pointed out that he spent more time at Oregon State than James Madison, so it made sense.

The last 7 years have been so crazy... Phil moved across the country. We met.  Moved in together.  Got engaged.  Got married.  His dad was diagnosed with Liver Cancer.  We found out we had some fertility challenges.  My nodules were found.  I had cancer.  I beat cancer.  We got a puppy.  We had a baby.  Phil's dad passed away.  We bought a house.

And he still managed to produce some great work and finish his doctorate degree.

Phil, I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished.  With absolutely everything you have faced, I am sure most people would have given up.  But you endured and still managed to provide emotional support for me through the last crazy 6.5 years.  Congratulations, love.  I am so so proud of you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feeding a Toddler

Oh the many joys of toddler-hood.  Some of them really are joys:  watching him learn new things, master new skills, and peeks of his personality.  Others... not so much.  New-found independence.  Temper tantrums.  Picky diets.

One of my biggest stressors as of late has been feeding Henry.



It's a constant, never-ending question in our house... what is Henry going to eat?

I should start by saying a couple of things... I loathe picky eaters, therefore I know I am destined to have one.  Secondly, I am really hard on myself when it comes to the foods that Henry eats.  I struggle immensely with feeding him anything processed or anything with a lot of sodium/sugar in it.  I am constantly talking to myself about lightening up a bit.  I want him to be a kid, after all.  And I don't want him to be one of those kids that has such a restricted diet at home than they go crazy at their friends' house, eating junk food and LITERALLY digging through the garbage for cookies (a true story a friend has told me happened at her house).

Daycare only feeds the stress.  According to the daycare rules, Henry's lunch MUST contain four of the five food groups.  It sounds like a great idea, but sometimes it can be really tricky.  Especially when you figure in that he 1) doesn't like much meat and 2) only eats sweet potatoes for veggies.

They say that you need to introduce a baby to a given food 12 times before they will develop a taste for it, but honestly that is SO FRUSTRATING!!  Who wants to spend 12 meals having their toddler refuse their food?

We never had this problem with baby food.  Henry would eat ANYTHING if it was pureed.  So I know he doesn't mind the taste.  It's a texture thing.

Anyway... enough of my complaining.  Let's get to the point here.

Henry and I had a play date with the mom's and babies from our Bradley birthing class last past weekend.  We discussed our picky eaters and I took comfort in that we were NOT alone.  So I started thinking about all of my options for what Henry will eat.

Black beans
Black bean burritos
Guacamole
Quesadillas
(do we see a trend here?)
Most soups
Chili (both regular and white bean)
Sweet Potatoes
Pickled beets (he is part Russian, so it fits)
Black Olives
Grilled Cheese
Chicken Nuggets
Pizza
Fruit
Annie's Mac and Cheese with baked Chicken Thigh fillets cut very small and snuck in there
Maybe PB&J
Turkey (as long as it is covered in cranberry sauce)
Green Bean Casserole

The list isn't super long.

So imagine my joy when I made THIS last night:

{Quinoa Enchilada Casserole.  Recipe from Damn Delicious}


I put some in a bowl for him, thinking "yeah right...".  But Phil and I were shocked when he started shoveling it into his mouth.

It was super easy and quick to make.  It's healthy.  And it's the perfect daycare meal with beans (protein), quinoa (grain), corn (veggie), and cheese (dairy).  Four whole food groups in one dish!  If I had given him the tomato and avocado (which he wouldn't have eaten) it was have had all 5 food groups in there.

The even better news about this dish... Phil and I both thought it was delicous, it's meatless and gluten free, and SUPER inexpensive.

Basically it is my favorite meal of all time right now.

We have also resorted to sending baby food pouches to daycare that have fruits and veggies in them (mostly green veggies).  But I don't like do that all of the time because they are spendy.  But I just figured out that with Amazon Subscribe and Save, I can get pouches for basically $1 a piece.  With a mixture of brands and veggie/fruit blends, I am excited that he will be getting a variety of veggies, it won't be too expensive, and it will be delivered to my door every 3 months.

If you have any more ideas of toddler foods, I am ALL EARS.  I have tried pretty much anything I can think of (including spaghetti with every type of noodle and other forms of pasta) but I am willing to try it again.  Hit me with it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

So much to do!

The holidays are a busy time for everyone and I know we are no exception.  Since Thanksgiving was late this year, it seems like the holidays are even more hectic.  There was one less weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas than in previous years.  It shouldn't make a big difference, but it does.

The push to get Phil's dissertation done and turned in put us into survival mode.  Cleaning was kept at a minimum.  Laundry done as needed, but not folded.  Grocery shopping was limited as well.

I do have my priorities though.  Given a choice between folding laundry during nap time or putting up Christmas decorations, I chose decorations.  All.  The.  Way.

That choice, however, left me with a scene that looks like this:



And there's more where that came from.

To make matters worse, this is what awaits me at work:


To be reviewed.

My to-do list is so long, I pretty much need to take this home to review it.  But who has the time?  I'm trying to find a way to dig down deeps and get everything accomplished.

Laundry folded.
House cleaned.
Food made.
Work done.

And there is one thing that will always be at the top of my list...




Spending time with this guy.

If someone can help me figure out a way to get everything done, find 2 more hours in the day, or perhaps ways to have a little more energy, I would greatly appreciate it.

We are almost to the finish line of graduate school!  I just need to keep my head down and priorities straight until then.

Friday, December 5, 2014

I want to shout it from the rooftops!!!

I want to shout it from the roof tops!

And yesterday felt like a holiday...

Phil's dissertation has been turned in!!!!!!

There are not enough exclamation marks for the above statement.  Seriously.

For those who are not familiar, Phil has been studying to get his doctorate in Environmental and Molecular Toxicology.  That's actually how we met, in graduate school.

Getting a doctorate degree is no small task.  You have to do a research project that makes a significant contribution to your field.  Then you have to write that bad boy up and defend him to a group of committee members and the public to determine if you know you stuff and should be considered a doctor.

Phil's been busting his butt to finish writing his dissertation, which had to be turned in before his defense.  Henry and I have barely seen the guy for the last couple of weeks.  I'm pretty sure Henry and Phil have only spent like 10 minutes together the last week or so.

But after staying up literally ALL NIGHT Wednesday night, IT'S DONE!!!

Next up... his defense in a couple of weeks.

For his defense, Phil will have to give a 45 minute presentation on his work.  Then the visiting public can ask questions about his research and findings.  After about 15 minutes of that, the public is kicked out and the committee can ask Phil him questions about his research and ANY class he has EVER taken.  That should last another hour or so.  And after that, he'll find out if his passed or not.

I'm no Toxicologist, but I can say this... Phil has put in the work.  He knows his $h!t.  He's ready.

There have been so many challenges and setbacks for Phil along his graduate school path.  Changing project scope.  Marriage.  Dad diagnosed with cancer.  Infertility.  Waiting for data.  Wife diagnosed with cancer.  New baby.  Waiting for data.  Dad dying.  Waiting for data.

To name a few.

I have to admit that after the defense got postponed the last time, I was having a hard time believing that the defense would happen in December.  The goal was to get his dissertation turned in before Thanksgiving, but that didn't happen.  Then the goal was Tuesday.  Then Wednesday.

I likened the delay to being pregnant and watching your due date pass.  And each and every day you go past your due date gets harder.  And harder.  And you feel like you will always be pregnant.  You will never have the baby.  And it will never end.

It's irrational.  Pregnancy always has an end.  And grad school had to as well.

But it is in!  The defense is scheduled!

We have a couple hard weeks ahead of us still as Phil prepares for his defense.  But the biggest part has been accomplished.

Henry and I took Phil out to a nice dinner last night to celebrate.



{Everyone's drinks.  Martini for Mama.  Apple juice for Hank.  Beer for Daddy}


Because Phil has basically been working 20 hours a day for the last couple of weeks, Henry and I really haven't seen him much.  It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Henry has seen him for maybe 5 minutes a day for the last week.  And Henry made it known last night that he was NOT happy about it.  He wouldn't look at Phil, didn't want Phil to hold him, wouldn't respond to Phil when he talked to him.  He's a punisher.

The good news is that he seemed to be over that this morning.  He was looking up at Phil with an expression that said, "YAY MY DADDY IS HERE!"  It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Now excuse me while I go take multiple deep breaths because it feels like a HUGE weight has been lifted from our family's shoulders.  You'll find me partially floating on cloud 9.
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