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Rand the Restaurateur

I love this pic of Rand in his highchair at Ema’s house – James took it on Christmas day with his iPhone. Apparently I need to get better with my iPhone camera, sorry for the blurry pics I took…anyhow…

Since Rand goes to sleep around 5:30/6pm every night, we rarely go out to eat unless we have a babysitter. While Wes and I both enjoy being at home in the evenings for a home-cooked meal (got some recipes to share with you soon!), over the holidays, we’ve had some opportunities to go out and so we took Rand with us. He hasn’t been to a restaurant for dinner in a while, so I was a little nervous at first but Rand was on his best behavior!

The other day, Jonathan and Shelley were in town for a visit, so we called the Butlers and took the 3 boys to Outback. Rand had a great time listening in on all the conversations and was excited to sit next to his godfather, Sean.

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Rand also made an inaugural visit to our Raleigh favorite, Dos Taquitos. He’s wearing his winter gear because we were sitting OUTSIDE. I wished I had a furry suit to wear too.
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That night, we discovered that Rand LOVES cucumbers (even though he’s making a silly face) and when they are cold, it makes a pretty good teether.
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Speaking of restaurants and eating out…restaurant.com is running a great deal right now if you enter the word SALE at checkout you get 80% off. While I agree that you need to watch the fine print before you buy any coupons, I just figured out we can get $75 in gift cert. ($25 each) to three local restaurants we like for $6. That is not a typo. $6. Just passing it along…

 

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Good news, a giveaway

Where do I begin…tonight was a blast. First, we got to do our usual bedtime routine for Rand. Here’s Rand in his sleep sack ready to hit the sack, and me ready for a fun dinner out with the girls followed by…

A book launch party! My talented friend Rachel Hernandez wrote “My Secret Angel and Me” – a well-written beautifully illustrated book that is also a great tool for parents to teach their children the gospel story of Christmas, and it even touches on Santa (you could say it is the Christian version of an Elf on the Shelf type book). Brilliant.  Not to mention, the book itself is a work of art by Ashley Adorno (Rachel’s sister-in-law).  I can’t stop reading it.  It’s already sold out online, but here’s a list of retail locations who will ship one to you…or even better…just keep reading…

So you may wonder…what’s Rach doing in this picture? She is signing a copy of the book & angel set for a Paper Road reader!!! This book set will be our very first giveaway (hopefully more to come). Here’s how to enter:

1. Post a comment briefly telling why you want the book OR who you’d gift it to

For additional entries (one for each additional comment), post in the comment section that you have done any of the following:

2. “Share” this post on facebook (see bottom for link) and then post a comment that you shared it

3. Tweet the post, and post a comment that you tweeted it

4. Mention/link to the giveaway in your blog and post your blog link in comments

There will be a random drawing done at the end of the day on Monday, December 5th so start blogging & commenting!

I’m so excited that Rachel’s book is our first fun giveaway.  When I moved to Pinehurst, Rachel and I were introduced because her mom and my mother-in-law are friends.  Rach invited me to join a bible study she was starting in her home and even though I barely knew her, I went.  So did a bunch of other girls – none of us knew each other, but all were asked by Rachel, who was lead by the Holy Spirit  (She invited a girl she met at mother’s morning out and another was standing in line near Rachel at Chick-fil-a)!  Now, 3 years later, we are all still great friends and the bible study is still going.

11 super sweet ladies…would you believe that between all of us there are TWENTY-FIVE KIDS?!  (some still in utero) What’s in that Moore Co. water?

Speaking of kids…Rand had on his Tim Tebow jersey today in support of his favorite football player.

And here he is working on his Heisman pose…

Wes and I wish there were a lot more Tim Tebows out there. He inspires us to be bold in our faith.  CHECK IT OUT. (note: I fast forwarded and linked to the last of the interview, but feel free to start it over and listen to the whole clip)

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Zulily wins

While I am loving the new “express checkout” at Harris Teeter (you order your groceries online and then choose a time to pick them up…you can order up to 6 days in advance!  great for “planners” like me)…I got sucked in to the Zulily daily email today and ended up using some store credit to buy Rand one of these:

It is supposed to work in highchairs too.  And since Rand loves to chew on everything, I’m hoping this (and lots of prayer) will save us from some cold-season bugs.  It was a hard decision…there were 3 that I thought were super cute, but we only need one.

 

See you at Harris Teeter…it is Super Doubles this week!

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October Recap

October has been a full month…I’ve been a little slow in writing all of the fun things that have been going on around here.

So, October began with a trip to the beach

and then ended with a trip to the mountains.

In between, we celebrated lots of birthdays…
On my 30th (whoa!) we had a nice family party at my mother-in-law’s. The weather was perfect so we squeezed in some quality back-yard time before the yummy dinner and dessert. Best of all, my cousin Elizabeth lives in Durham now and can meet up for family events – so fun to have her close by!

These were the favors my mother-in-law, Carolyn, made for everyone who came to my birthday party – pumpkin bread wrapped in a cute fall dishtowel. She sure knows me! I made THIS maple cream cheese recipe to go with our bread. (Note: I also made the “Health nut brownies” but they tasted like Cliff Bars to my family…so I won’t be making them again.)

We wished Uncle James and Aunt Mary Devon Happy Birthday.

And we celebrated Wes’ birthday and Aunt Jax’s birthday (yep – same day as Wes…just 6 years apart). This is the only photo I have from the birthday dinner. A lot has changed in the last year. Dinner was over by 7pm and these two rascals took over the table.

Grandmommie Carolyn is getting good at her animal sounds. Rand loves it when you ask him what a cow says…or what a doggie says…

MJ is very talented and is teaching Rand lots of new things like multitasking. Here he’s showing Rand how to drive a Buzz Lightyear truck while politely asking for a cracker.

And this is right after he showed Rand how to “swap pacis”

We hung out with all the cousins at Eddie & Emily’s wedding

This is my favorite photo from the wedding…Grandfather “Bebo” breaking the rules…

We had some quality time with Uncle Sam – actually, I think this subject deserves its own post when I get around to it.

And some quality time with Aunt Mary Devon

Rand is gearing up for Thanksgiving and cut both bottom teeth. While they don’t show enough to photograph yet, check this photo out of Rand in his new highchair. With sweet potatoes and oatmeal under our belts, we branched out to some new solid foods…pears, apples, peas and whole grain rice cereal.

And most of all, we missed Geah…although I can’t help but wonder if she had something to do with my favorite birthday present. On Sunday, October 9th, while we were having coffee in the kitchen, this butterfly landed right outside on one of my zinnias. I can’t believe it stayed there long enough for me to go get my camera and come back. It was a sweet and beautiful moment – a gift – from the Lord.

November has a lot to live up to.

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Something Fun

Hey friends – I’m guest blogging today over on the blog 101 Things I Love.  I think you’ll love Johanna’s blog too!

While I’m no baby expert, we are pretty proud of the fact that Rand is sleeping through the night thanks to a new routine and lots of prayer!  Now I just need to get to work on the nap time routine…

 

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Hello from the beach

This was Rand’s first time on the beach. I think he loved it as much as a 5-month-old possibly could.  There have been a lot of firsts this week and it is only Wednesday!

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It was pretty windy on the beach which was nice because it cooled us off. Here’s Rand’s “feeling the wind on my face” look.
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And his “I just put a salty hand in my mouth look.”
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As you can see it was pretty windy, so my hair ended up ruining most of the photos.
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Rand’s other new thing is to “hug” us…we are loving it.
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Rand made his first (and second…) trip to J.B.’s Fishcamp with us.  When you eat as early as we do these days you don’t have to wait, but we went out on the dock anyway before dinner and said hello to a few of the resident Indian River manatees and had fun explaining to Bubs that he was a fourth generation J.B.’s patron.  We’ll have to go back again and get another photo without the bib, although he does look very patriotic.

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Speaking of bibs, Rand’s favorite bib was custom-made by Aunt Samantha.  I had been attempting to make some myself but when this awesome one arrived one day, I put the sewing machine away.  From now on I will celebrate the talents of my sweet sister-in-law instead.

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Speaking of talent, we are also celebrating my friend Settle Monroe and her new business Pinecone Threads.  I’m loving this birdie onesie she made.

And this adorable dress (she makes rompers for the boys).  I love the Amy Butler fabric Settle uses and the overall chic simplicity of Pinecone Threads.

I think Rand will look good in this creative  “Mater Onesie” I ordered for him.

The soft, organic burp cloths would make great new baby gifts – $6 for a special homemade gift is a pretty good deal, you could get a few…or have Settle make one to match your romper or onesie.  You can see all the different designs in Settle’s Etsy shop.

We serve a creative God who made us in His image and calls us to be creative as well. Pinecone Threads and Rand’s “R” bib are such beautiful, creative expressions. I’m a thankful witness.

This reminds me, I can’t wait to tell you about the book I’m reading…I’ll save it for another post.

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Recipes For Ya

Last week, I was supposed to be packing and cleaning the house so we could get to the beach but I procrastinated. I usually bake when I’m putting something off. So I made these cookies.
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They were GOOD.  They were probably the most successful thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made.  While I usually don’t follow recipes, I stuck pretty close to Barefoot Contessa’s recipe. Here’s the recipe.  Only things I did differently: 1. I used regular chocolate chips and some mini chocolate chips because that was all I had. 2. Did not use walnuts. 3. My eggs were not room temp as I decided to make cookies on a whim and didn’t have time to wait on the eggs 4.  Same goes for the butter.  10 seconds in the microwave…cheater!! 5. I took them out of the oven a few minutes sooner. If your first batch ends up too brown like mine did, you might want to do the same.

So…on to the second recipe.  Our beach staple: Broccoli Ramen Slaw.  What?  Broccoli?  Oh just try it.  I usually make a big batch on the first day and then we eat off of it for a few days…it gets better after sitting in the fridge.  Here’s my version of the recipe:

Broccoli Ramen Slaw

1 bag (16 oz) Broccoli Slaw (usually near the bag lettuce/bag veggies)

2 packages chicken flavor Ramen (pull out the seasoning packet and then crumble/crunch up the noodles in the package)

3-4 green onions chopped up

1 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons white sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, be sure to add the 2 ramen seasoning packets.  Cover and keep in the fridge.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar!  Wowzers.  I have also made it with just 1 packet of Ramen and it is good that way too.  My brother made it with peanuts and sunflower seeds which was a nice twist.  I’m sure there are tons of variations.

Sorry, no photos of the slaw…instead, here’s one of Rand enjoying his first food: sweet potatoes.  He insists on helping with the spoon and then would rub his face with his little orange hand.  Good thing it is warm at the beach and we can eat shirtless!
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Thank you CVS. Thank you Shelley.

This past weekend at CVS, there was a great deal on baby products.  While Rand hasn’t needed much formula yet, I’ve stocked up for when he does (or we will donate it).  Last week at CVS there was a deal that if you bought $25 worth of certain baby products you received $10 in Extra Care Bucks (i.e. store credit).  So I busted out all those $5 OFF Similac coupons and bought 5 of these…

They were on sale for $5 each which meant I met the $25 requirement (and paid nothing but the tax for them).  Then, with my $10 store credit I got some diapers (which were on sale for $9 plus I used a $1.50/off coupon) and treated myself to one of these – all for free.

While I was raised to use coupons and save money whenever possible, I couldn’t not give a shout out to my friend Shelley King.  Last year, she gave me a tutorial of the CVS Extra Care Bucks program and has encouraged me with my couponing and saving.   With Shelley’s help, and the help of SouthernSavers.com I have had fun saving our family money on the things we need (diapers) and want (Honest Tea).

I would have blogged about this deal sooner so you could run out and save too, but we are on VACATION and I’m just now logging on…don’t worry, there are tons of deals going on this week too.

 

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5 Months, really?

Has it really been 5 months since we welcomed Wesley Rand Smith to the world?  Here he is about 9 days old in the arms of cousin Sarah.  Happy 5 months Rand!


 

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TOP 10 and SOME

Several folks have asked me for my recommendations on baby gear, diapering, etc. so I’ll devote a few posts to what has worked for us. Note what I just said: WHAT HAS WORKED FOR US.  One thing you learn the hard way when you have a baby is that just because something works for someone else, or the book you are reading “says so” doesn’t mean it will rock your baby’s world. You have to do what works for you…or, in some cases, what GETS YOU THROUGH!

Okay…so if you are only going to get one thing, we recommend a car seat & base (all photos click to product details). That way, you can bring your baby home from the hospital as well as be able to drive over to grandma’s to drop the baby off. There are way too many options out there. We asked around and decided to go with the smallest weight car seat. Apparently, most babies outgrow the length of the seat before the weight limit so you have to get a new size sooner than the weight requirement anyway, so the smaller car seat is much easier to lug around. We went with the Graco Snugride Platinum + Base.  It can be used until your baby is 22lbs or too long for it.  I would highly recommend it!

We did not realize it until the sun was shinning in Rand’s sweet little face one day in the car…but you will also need one of these:

Also, you might want to get an arm-saver. My friend Jane Smith gave me a super cute one from Oh Baby. Here is a similar one from Etsy:

Second, you need a stroller.  Your baby can ride in the car seat on the stroller from day 1.  By day 14 (or so) you’re gonna want to get out of the house and start walking. The Graco Snugride Car Seat snaps on to many different strollers, just pick the stroller you like and it will list what seats are compatible. We use the Bumbleride Indie Stroller in Black. I can’t tell you how much I love it. It is easy to open/close. We take it everywhere. It is expensive but worth it. If you can’t afford it or don’t have generous god-parents like we do to give you one…check craigslist!  Here’s a pic of Wes, Rand & the Bumbleride Indie at our cousin’s outdoor wedding (you can also see the graco snugride on top and the arm pad!).  In a few weeks, we’ll probably stop using the car seat on top of the stroller and just put Rand forward-facing in the stroller – he’s almost big enough!

Okay…now that you can take your baby with you wherever you want, the number 3 thing you’ll need is a breastpump so you can go somewhere WITHOUT your baby.  I lucked out and was able to borrow one, but this is the one I use and while I won’t get into all the details, it makes life easier.  All I had to do was order a set of tubes/shields/bottles.

You are also going to need some bottles.  We got the 5oz and 9oz Born Free bottles.  They have worked great for Rand.  Be sure to try one out before you open them all though – some babies are picky.  Also, we never used a bottle warmer.  If the milk is not already room-temp, I just stick it in a cup of hot water or hold the bottle under faucet for a few min to take the chill off.  It is key to not have a child who will only take a warm bottle!  Also, here is a helpful site a friend sent to me: http://www.kellymom.com/

While you don’t HAVE to have these next two things, we use them every day.  Rand did not start really enjoying them until about 2-3 months old, but now he loves them….

This “Treetop Friends” playmat

Rand invited Jackson over to his playmat one day:

And his Bright Starts bouncy seat. Click here for the link to it. It is a good deal at $20.  This is where Rand sits each morning while we have our coffee and eat breakfast as a family in the kitchen.  You can’t see much of the seat in this photo, but checkout that smile!

We have also just started to use the Ergo baby carrier.  We have it in “camel” color and Wes has really enjoyed wearing Rand around the house in it.  And, who would have thought that things like vacuuming and dusting could be so much more fun if you have a baby to wear while you work.  It is also great for trips out where you can’t use the stroller.

For clothing, don’t buy a lot of small sizes!  They outgrow it fast and you end up using the things you like the most over and over.  If you are going to get a few items, I suggest footie pajamas with snaps (the zipper ones bunch up), rompers with snaps, onesies, a few pairs of pants (to go over onesies if it is cold) and some socks.  Rand has yet to wear a pair of shoes and he is 5 months old.  In the winter we’ll probably need to wear shoes but, just so you know, it’s challenging to keep things on a baby’s feet. Carters.com has good web specials and their onesies fit Rand well.  I have found that Baby Gap stuff runs wide/short on Rand.  Here are some other short and long-sleeved options…all babies look cute in stripes:

We have found some good deals on designer brands and swim stuff on Zulily (it is free to join).  They currently have some cute stuff by Mooncakes…

Also, not 100% necessary, but items we have used daily include this bottle-drying rack and this OXO Dishwasher basket.  I have to admit, I chose the drying rack because it looked the “coolest” to me…and it works great/doesn’t clash too badly in my kitchen.  I have it in white/orange.

In Rand’s nursery, we also use a humidifier.  Something I thought we wouldn’t need, but ended up having to get.  He got so stuffy as a baby, we used this from day one.

You also need something “kind” to hang on your front door to make people go away.  People at the door during nap time are your worst enemy.  Just imagine you have spent an hour trying to get little one to go down for a nap.  Finally, you succeed only to have the friendly Fed-Ex man ring the doorbell (we disconnected ours) or bang on the door (which is what happens when your doorbell is disconnected)…if you don’t want to buy something you could print a small sign and laminate it.

Currently, we put Rand in his footed pajamas and then one of these sleepsacks at night.  They help prevent SIDS by keeping your baby warm without having a blanket that could accidentally cover the child’s face.

Since Rand has been sleeping in his crib, we have used the heck out of the baby monitor.  We did not go for one of those snazzy video monitors and haven’t missed it.  You go in and check on your baby so much anyway, you don’t really need it.  Instead, we went for the distance factor and got a monitor with a long range so that we can be out doing yard work (aka by the pool) and still hear him if he wakes.

Blankets…chances are if you have a baby shower, you will get a TON of blankets.  We especially liked these blankets by Aden & Anais.  I have used them for all kinds of things and they are thin and dry quickly.   Not gonna lie, they are pretty “up there” on the stylish baby products list too.

Drumroll please…we could not have survived the first few months without this magic potion.  Our friends Rob & Katie Barrett gave us a bottle of this with their baby gift and it got us through some colicky days with Rand.  When he would go into “wild scream” mode we’d give him a few drops of this and it would calm him down enough so that he would take a paci.  It is all-natural.  I guess the best way I could describe it is like baby ginger ale minus the fizz.  It worked wonders for his little hurting tummy.  It is also hard to find in stores.  CVS has it, but Rite Aid and WalMart do not.  We usually order it online or go to our local pharmacy, The Prescription Shoppe.

Bibs and burp cloths.  You need a lot of these.  Rand has been drooling his face off since he was 3 months old.  So we put him in a bib and it cuts down on how many times a day we have to change his outfit.  Also handy to put on baby in the car so that when you arrive somewhere you don’t have to immediately change the baby’s drool-soaked clothing.

If you are pregnant, or have a friend who is pregnant, tell her to put down the pregnancy book right now.  I think I spent 8 months of pregnancy reading about pregnancy when I should have been reading up on how to take care of a baby for the rest of its life!  The book “Happiest Baby on the Block” taught us some helpful soothing techniques.  We also read “Healthy Sleep Habits” and “Baby Wise”  – both have some great nuggets of wisdom but can also make you feel like you and your baby are not doing things right when you do what it says and it doesn’t work.

Rand has been teething since about 3 months and he loves this teether named Sophie the Giraffe.   Only thing I wish is that it didn’t squeak because while Rand is not really interested in the noise it makes, our dog Nina is all about it.  It is made by Vulli.  He also loves these teethers made by the same company.

Last but not least is the swing!  A sweet friend gave us this lamb swing at a baby shower – it is awesome.  Every time I look at it I wish they made one in my size.  Don’t tell our pediatrician, but Rand still naps like a champ in it.  (I don’t feel too bad now that I’ve found this image of someone else’s baby sleeping in the swing)

We also just purchased this travel crib. It is a little pricier than some of the other travel cribs but after doing some research I was confident that we needed something that packed up really small and was easy/quick to set up and take down (on the website, it shows people assembling it in less than 30 seconds). One reviewer said they used theirs until their child was 3 years old. When we get back from our trip, I’ll let you know if it is a winner.

Next up: nursery & diapers.  When I get around to it.  I can hear my little bubs waking up…

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