Monday, January 26, 2015


I wrote this post last spring, right before Annie turned one.  For some reason never finished it up and published it.  Here it is:

With babies, everyone focuses on the firsts - the first bath, the first smile, the first time they crawl, the first time they walk, their first words . . . the whole first year is filled with firsts.  And what I've learned is that even with your third child, each first is just as exciting as it was with your first child.  First are fun and exciting and sentimental.  

But a baby's first year is also filled with lasts.  A lot of time with lasts, you don't even realize it was the last time.  The last time Annie used the Moses basket, the swing, the papasan chair, the bouncy seat.  The last time she had to be held until she fell asleep. The last time Annie wore 3 month clothes, 6 month clothes, 9 month clothes, and 12 month clothes.  The last time she got swaddled before going to sleep.  The last time Annie just sat in one place and couldn't move around the room.  And, I just realized the other day - Mother's Day and Memorial Day were Annie's last "first" holidays.  

When Lily was born, a friend gave me the book Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury.  In this gem of a book, the author encourages parents to savor not only their children's "firsts", but the "lasts" as well.  

I am so glad I got this book back then because I had never really thought about how important it was to pay attention to the lasts as well.  It made me more conscious about it with Maddie and Lily, and I really focused on it so much this first year of Annie's life because everything really was a last.  Annie is our last baby, so it truly was a year of lasts.  

The other morning I woke up and realized next week we'll be throwing our last first birthday party.  12 months zipped by and here we are - 3 kids later and we're at our last first birthday. 


I wrote the above last June.  Since then, there have been so many more "lasts".  All three girls are changing and growing so much.  Sometimes Matt and I will say to each other, "Did you notice Maddie/Lily/Annie doesn't do that any more".  We didn't even notice it had stopped until a few weeks later.

Some phases became a "last" and I was thrilled.  Most recently, Annie's phase of throwing all of her food on the floor when she was done. Now she hands it to us or puts it on the table.  

This past Christmas was the last Christmas we'll need a gate around the Christmas tree so little hands don't touch it.  The last time we'll have a baby who is not interested in opening presents on Christmas morning.  Probably the last time we'll buy the toys that say 6-36 months.  

Recently on our trip to Florida, I turned to Matt and said, this will be our last hardest trip.  The last hardest flight with a child on our lap.  The next time we travel, each girl will be that much older and that much more independent.  

So, as time marches on and my babies grow and change everyday, I'm going to celebrate and pay attention to all of our lasts.  They are just as important as our firsts.

The Last Time

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Favorites - Recipes

Linking up with Andrea for Friday Favorites.

Can my favorite thing about today simply just be that it's Friday?

Because that's how I'm feeling.  It was a long week.  Somehow, 4 day weeks are always more exhausting than 5 day weeks.

I love to cook and I love baking.  I think I'm good at both, but I'm not someone who can make up her own recipes.  I can't just see a bunch of ingredients and whip something up (although I did do that once recently and I was quite proud of myself!).  I am a recipe follower.

Because of that, I love to read recipes.  I love cookbooks.  I love cooking magazines.  I love reading and following cooking blogs.  Reading recipes is so relaxing to me.  I love to watch cooking shows as well (although I don't do that very often these days).

I have accumulated a variety of sources where I find great recipes.  Not just great recipes, but consistently great recipes.  I don't have time to make recipes that are flops or that my family doesn't like.  If I try something and the majority of us don't like it, I don't make it again.  It has to be a winner for us to make it a part of our family's recipe collection.  I have made a lot of recipes from these sites and books and magazines, and they are always winners with my family.  These are my favorite tried and true go-to places for recipes.

Favorite Cookbooks
My go-to cookbooks are:
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations

They are beautiful cookbooks filled with delicious recipes.

Favorite Food Magazines

I subscribe to all 3 of these magazines and I love to read them each month.

Food Network Magazine

Rachel Ray Magazine

Cooking Light Magazine

Favorite Cooking Blogs and Websites

Pioneer Woman
Her recipes are great.  I like her show on Food Network and I enjoy following her blog.  I have made so many things from her site, but some of my family's favorites are:
Cajun Chicken Pasta - I go a little easier on the cajun and my kids devour it.
Beef with Peppers - Matt's favorite dinner.
Watermelon Pico de Gallo - A perfect summer appetizer.

Rachel Ray Show
I have seen 3 live tapings of Rachel Ray and it's so much fun!  Some of our favorite recipes from her site are:
Buffalo Chicken Chili - My favorite chili.  I've been making this for years.
Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac - A great make-ahead casserole.
Pasta with Trees - My kids love this one.
Chicken Parm Pasta Toss - A family favorite (and so much faster than making traditional chicken parm).

Mix and Match Mama
I love these recipes because they're quick, easy, and family friendly.  Some of our favorites are:
Sausage and Butternut Squash Pasta - My 3 year old non-veggie eater always asks for seconds when I make this.
Everyday Brownies - The perfect brownie. Every time.
Crock Pot recipes - I have made so many of these.  So delicious.
Mexican Meatballs - After making these (and a few other meatball recipes on this site) I discovered my kids will eat anything if it's in meatball form.
100 Bars - I have made several of these simple, delicious bars.  Yum!

Wind Inspired
This is my sister's blog.  She is the best cook I know.  Her family is gluten-free and her recipes are delicious.  She made me a cookbook of her recipes one year as a gift, and I use it all the time.  Some of our favorites are:
Quiche - I have made this dozens of times.  Always a great addition to brunch.
Nutty Apple Salad - I eat this salad for lunch all the time.
Banana Muffins - I make the gluten-full version and my kids devour them.

The Larson Lingo
This is a great blog for so many reasons (love the party ideas).  I find great recipes here.   Some of our favorite are:
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie - I made this as one of our Thanksgiving desserts this year and Matt told me it needs to always be on our Thanksgiving dessert table.
S'Mores Cookie Bars - We love a S'more around here.
Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies - A huge hit.
Tortellini Pasta Salad - Such a great summer pasta salad.

A few others recipes from some great blogs I follow and get recipes from:
MomfessionalsBest Pulled Pork Ever
It literally is the best.  So so good and easy.

Hugs and CookiesKiller Chocolate Chip Cookies
My go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

The Girl Who Ate EverythingS'More Cookies
Also known as my favorite cookie ever.