Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mothers' Day Review: STORMp3

Life as we head toward our first Mothers' Day where I'm a mother
 My husband is wonderful.  He loves to make me happy, which is such a blessing to us both.  :-D  He loves nothing more than surprising me and seeing me smile.  He truly is the best husband in the world.

That being said, he is a technology man -- he is all about technology and gadgets.  I am NOT all about technology and gadgets.  For that reason, the fact that he gives me technology for every. single. occasion. is a little bit of a sore spot in our marriage.  You name it -- birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Valentine's Day... his gift to me is some form of technology.

This is not to say that they have not been lovely gifts because they have been, and some were things I needed, and some were things I wanted... but some were things that my Hubby thought I needed or wanted.

Cue the ironic music as I now review a potential Mothers' Day gift, which is technology... and is really awesome.

As a new mom pretty much the only time I get to myself each day is when I take a shower.  I haven't taken a bath since my first week home from the hospital, because I cannot justify that much time being spent alone and by myself at the moment.  There is always something to be done... and if there is nothing to be done... then its time I want to spend with Tracey Ann. 

One thing I do enjoy each day, which Hubby spends time with Tracey Ann while I'm enjoying is a hot shower.  When I'm in the shower, I am "off-duty"... and since I'm "off-duty," and I don't need to listen for Tracey Ann crying, a shower stereo system is perfect!

The STORMp3 is a shower stereo system with better speakers and sound than our vehicles have.  It plugged into my computer, I transferred my favorite songs over from iTunes, and then, BAM, my STORMp3 was ready for use.

It is water-resistant so that the shower steam and wet hands pushing the buttons does not damage it.  It is not water-proof, so it cannot fall in a bathtub, but the moisture from a shower does not harm it.

If you are a mom with a tech-obsessed husband, you might want to steer him toward the STORMp3 this Mothers' Day for the following reasons:
  1. He will be happy with the new gadget in the house
  2. It is SO easy, that you don't have to be tech-obsessed to make it work
  3. It is a tech gift that really can contribute to a mom's relaxation (making her shower or bath -- already intended to be a relaxing time -- even more relaxing by the addition of music through a great sound system) amidst her busy life as a mom
  4. It will last much longer than the flowers you were probably going to get her
Check out the STORMp3 from ToiletTree Products for this and other Mothers' Day ideas... Even my tech-obsessed Hubby thinks its awesome!

*Disclaimer: I was given a free STORMp3 from ToiletTree Products for my honest review of the STORMp3 product.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Thus far nothing has snapped my priorities so quickly in line than the birth of my daughter.

Of course, the grown-up priorities you would expect came forward -- Hubby and I discuss the big issues of where we want to raise our family, how are we going to instill Godly, family-oriented, and patriotic values in our children, and more...

But what I didn't expect was how suddenly protective I would become of my time with my family -- both my time with Tracey Ann and my time with Hubby.

This past Sunday afternoon, there was quite the "To-Do" list on my plate... all the homemaking tasks I have let fall to my wonderful mother while she's visiting, and the work-related tasks that I would normally do on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the week ahead.

With Tracey Ann asleep in her swing, Hubby and I just rested together.  We sat at each end of the couch, facing each other, with our feet up towards each other, and enjoyed an hour together.  We shared a blanket over our feet, and Hubby watched a playoff hockey game (** We NEVER watch hockey... in the nearly 3 years we've been married, and 4.5 years of knowing each other neither one of us as ever watched a pro hockey game on tv -- but St. Louis was playing, and Hubby wanted to cheer them on **) and I read a book.

It was such a wonderful time of just resting together as a family, recharging for the week ahead -- and believe me, we need all the charge we can get for these final weeks of the school year.

While I used to easily log 60 or more hours/week devoted to my job -- not because it is required, but in order to be excellent at my job.  Now, I still strive for excellence at my work... but in order to strive for excellence as a wife and mother, I have to be very protective about prioritizing time with my family.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Mr. Moose

We've been having some fun with Mr. Moose lately...

Hello there, Mr. Moose

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tracey Ann - 3 Months

Where did time go?
Our Baby turned THREE Months Old this week!  She officially went from being a "newborn" to an "infant" -- and she absolutely is a full-blown healthy, perfect, pudgy, beautiful little infant baby.

I'm 3 months old!

Weight: Probably about 11 pounds.  She weighed 10.5 pounds at her 2 months appointment, which was about two weeks ago.
Mom makes sure I stay warm...

Length:  She was 22 inches at her 2 month appointment - she looks SOOO long though.  She used to just snuggle into my body when she was nursing, and now she is SOOO long!  She lays across my entire lap.  She as as long as her daddy's forearm.  She is so much bigger!

Hi there!

Clothing size:  She's wearing almost all 0-3 month clothes, with a few 3-6 month dresses thrown in (that she wears over sleepers).  She is not really growing out of much in height right now... but she's in cloth diapers now, causing her little bottom to be much more bulky than it actually is

Eating:  Yes -- breast milk, but this month was the first time she got breast milk from both the breast and the bottle.  She had her first bottle at ten weeks, she had another one at twelve weeks, and then this week she has had several a day as I am back to full-blown work, eight-hours away from home.  So, since she's been taking some bottles, I can accurately report that she eats between 3-6 ounces seven-ish times/day.

Come on, Mama... get that figure back!

Sleeping:  She is getting a little more of a sleep/wake routine -- five to seven hours/night, then a total of two hours in the morning (maybe two one-hour naps), and a total of two hours in the afternoon (a few cat-naps).  She hits the hay between 9:00pm and 11:00pm, and she sleeps until between 4:00am and 6:00am.
Mama says I need to protect my eyes!

New things/discoveries: 
  • This month, she sucks on her fingers a lot more and uses them to soothe herself
  • She's beginning to grab things and bring them to her mouth with much more accuracy... she doesn't have the great hand/eye coordination to see something and then reach out and grab it... but if something is placed in her hand, she grabs a hold and then it heads to her mouth... baby-proofing, here we come!
  • She is loving dangling toys -- she just stares up at the toys that hang from her mobile on her swing, and she's really having a ball with the hanging toys where she lays on her back and bats at them.
  • We discovered that she has a favorite song -- "Let It Go" from the movie Frozen
  • She had her first bottle this month
  • We're beginning to put sunglasses on her when we are outside... she doesn't love them, but she doesn't have the hand control to pull them off yet, so we hope she gets used to them before she's able to pull them off
  • Sitting on Mama's tummy while she's doing crunches
  • She sat up at the dining room table for the first time by herself
I'm such a big girl sitting at the table!
New Accomplishments: 
  • Entertaining herself for 30-40 minutes at a time (when she's in a good mood)
  • She's making a lot more sounds now... not just cooing and crying, and not yet babbling but just trying out a myriad of different sounds.  They are the cutest sounds!
  • Using cloth diapers -- cloth diapers from about 7:00am-7:00pm, and then disposable diapers at night -- that's right, we're awesome!
  • She's big enough that we took the newborn insert out of her carseat, swing, and bassinet.
  • She has mastered holding her head up this month... she's been working on it for awhile, but even a month ago, she would still get off-balance, and head-bang.  Now, she has complete control of her head.
  • She recognizes us now, which is just the best feeling in the world! According to my reading, she has recognized us from a few days of age... but now she is able to express to us that she recognizes us
  • She's able to reach out and grab items and brings them to her mouth
Family Easter picture... getting close to all of us smiling

  • Baths/showers
  • Her swing
  • The song "Let It Go"
  • Toys that make noise -- especially a dingling or a rattling
  • Her Grammy and Papa
  • Going for walks in the pram now that the weather is warmer
  • Exercise time with Papa -- she sits in her little pumpkin seat (that's what we call it -- I'm not sure why) and Papa pushes against her arms and legs, and she pushes back -- it's her weight training
Tracey Ann is so happy to have Grammy and Papa taking care of her...
of course we got a picture of the three of them all smiling...

  • Tummy time -- yeah, I haven't been the best mother with Tummy Time -- Montessori believes that developmentally, you should not put a child on their stomach until she rolls unto her stomach herself, and I'm a big Montessorian, so I'm still evaluating the value of Tummy Time
  • Spitting up
  • Having a messy or wet diaper
  • Waiting for a bottle
I LOVE this picture... she looks exactly like I did when I was a baby

Places She Went:
  •  VAIL MOUNTAIN -- the place where her Papa proposed to her Grammy, the place where her Daddy proposed to her Mama, the place where her family has vacationed for years, and the place where her namesake, Aunt Tracey's ashes are scattered... we love Vail Mountain
  • Colorado Springs
  • Her first baseball game -- a HUGE deal for a Miller
  • Her first Easter Sunday service
  • "Daycare" -- which doesn't really count because she's still at home all day, but its with Grammy and Papa instead of Mama
  • Lots of walks now that the weather is nicer
I know... I'm a horrible mom who forgot her hat on the mountain -- but I promise, she had the hood tight over her head, and several blankets keeping her head warm -- except for during this picture.

Take me out to the ballgame!

Special Memories:
  • The first morning I went over to her bassinet and she immediately broke into a HUGE smile -- she recognized me!
  • She's having really special times with her Grammy and Papa while Mama and Daddy are at work
  • Her first baseball game -- Hubby and I saw less of the game than ANY other in our life, but it was fun to have her there -- side note: breastfeeding is an adventure when windy (well, modesty while breastfeeding is an adventure when windy)
  • I LOVED buying and dressing Tracey Ann in her first Easter Dress -- see this post for more details
  • Her first time in a swimming pool -- and the hilarious picture that resulted
Happy Easter!

Enough pictures already...

  • Tracey Ann
  • Tracey
  • Baby Girl
  • Beautiful
  • Pumpkin
  • Punky
The Easter Bunny found me!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Letters: Working Mom

  • Dear Friday, WELCOME!  We are SO excited to have you here!  This is the first Friday I have been happy about since before Tracey Ann was born... because now I'm counting down the weeks until the end of school -- 5 to go!  Yippee!!

  • Dear Internet, We pay how much for you, and yet you are slower and slower everyday.  You, Sir, are on borrowed time.  We're coming for you and its time to pay the piper -- we're either changing companies or getting some serious answers from the one we have now
  •  Dear Grammy and Papa, You're moving in with us permanently, right?  We've both been able to work all week, and our house has never been cleaner, our meals never been so healthy and prepared on time, our laundry never been done so regularly, and our baby girl so constantly entertained... We think God has a place for you here in Rifle in the future -- Well, we think God has a place for you in our home in Rifle in the future
  • Dear Tracey Ann, You bring us such joy.  Three months and we cannot remember our life before you.
  •  Dear Work, I enjoy my time with you... mostly because I am choosing to enjoy my time with you, but you really have a far lower priority in my life than ever before.  I still commit very hard work to you during my work hours... but then, work time is over and my time and attention is devoted to people and tasks of a much higher priority.  This will be the new normal.
  • Dear Hubby, I am SO INCREDIBLY PROUD of you for your commitment to your morning exercise boot camp.  I wish I could be doing it with you, but we both can't be out of the house at the same time.  I love our agreement that every day you do your morning workout, I HAVE to do my at-home workout the same day.  This buddy system is working well for us.  I am so proud to be your wife.
  • Dear Lord, Where will You have us next year?  Where can You use us best for Your work?  Please make Your Will abundantly clear to us and give us a strong sense of peace and wisdom as we seek Your Will for our future.
  • Dear Colleagues, It has been so nice to see you again these past two weeks -- and a HUGE thank you for the wonderful women who so kindly gush over the pictures of my beautiful baby girl... and another special thank you to the thoughtful women who tell me I look great.  I still have a ways to go until I'm pre-pregnancy size, but the kind words of encouragement are so appreciated.
  • Dear Decaf, I appreciate you.  Even with minimal caffeine, you are, even if only psychologically, the jolt I need each morning.
  • Dear Blog,  There are so many things I envision for you -- a new header, an instagram and pinterest link, and a watermark to protect the images of our baby girl, but technology is not a strength for me, and I don't have much time these days to flex my emaciated technology muscles.  Maybe this summer?  Maybe in ten years?  Maybe in retirement?
  • Dear Candace Cameron Bure, I'm really enjoying your book, "Balancing It All".  I read a few pages here and there when I'm pumping, or when Hubby is driving and Tracey Ann is in her car seat.  I also like watching you on Dancing With the Stars.  Good Luck.
  • Dear Toby Keith, I have had Made in America in my head for days.  Definitely not the worst song to have stuck in your head... but its not a great song for my signing range, so its starting to drive me a little crazy.  Great song though.
  • Dear Grey's Anatomy,  I was SO sad to hear that Sandra Oh (Christina) is leaving the show.  I was all excited about the Farewell to Christina show last night, and completely prepared for an emotional farewell... then it wasn't her last show -- apparently Farewell to Christina is several shows -- and your previous for next week makes it look like a stupid ending not in keeping with the integrity of the characters.  I will refrain from saying more until I have watched the full farewell... but I'm skeptical.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Proudest Moments

I don't like saying that I am "proud" of what I am about to write... I tried to find another word for how I feel about what follows, but try as I might, I can only describe it as pride.

I know that pride goes before a fall... so I really DON'T want to say I am proud of the following... but anything else would be a lie.

I am in the full-swing of work this week, and we are so blessed that my parents are here as our full-time day-care and house-keepers for a few weeks.  I don't know what is ahead -- in that I don't know how motherhood will progress from here, if I will be able to stay home, in the future, or what life will look like post-maternity leave.

I want to remember some things from these past 12 weeks that have made me really proud.  I want to remember some aspects of these past 12 weeks that have made me so proud of the wife and mother I have been in these weeks -- the feeling that I have become the wife and mother I've always dreamed of being.  I still have SO many areas where God still wants me to improve... but I have been very proud of the following:

  • Giving birth to Tracey Ann without an epidural.  My love for her enabled me to be stronger than I ever thought possible, and my body naturally handled what it was created to handle.
  • Hubby and me making the necessary sacrifices for me to take an entire 11 weeks, nearly 12 weeks, off from work to stay home with our baby.  Financially, this is not easy for us, but keeping our baby home, out of daycare, and with her Mama is a tremendous priority for us, and we are making the necessary sacrifices.
  • Tracey Ann not only has been exclusively breast fed since she was born, but she has been exclusively BREAST fed.  She did not have her first bottle (of breast milk) until she was ten weeks old, and she is now twelve weeks old, and she has had a total of two bottles in her life.  The only reasons we have given her those bottles is to introduce her to breast milk via bottle before I am 100 miles away at work and her only option for food is a bottle.  Sticking with breast feeding and prioritizing breast feeding is not easy -- I can see why many women, who could breast feed, do not stick with it (I'm not talking about women who are unable to beast feed for a medical reason).  Being a baby's only source of nourishment is not easy, and I am so blessed that my body has been able to support my breast feeding, and I am so proud that I have made this a priority.
  • Tracey Ann is in cloth diapers for most of the day (in disposables at night), and I take such pride in dealing with the hassle of cloth diapers every day, and scrubbing, bleaching, and washing them each night.  I literally scrub her diapers in the sink before washing them in the washing machine to reduce stains, and I am so proud that I am taking the time to do this.  I am helping our family financially, I am working to keep the diapers in good shape so we can use them as long as possible, and I am working to make sure our daughter will remain clean and healthy.  This is the kind of mother I want to be... and this is the kind of mother I have been since Tracey Ann turned 2 months old.
  • Our daughter is our main focus these days... and has a newborn, her needs are our priority.  That being said, I have worked to prioritize the needs of my husband during these months that I've been home.  My full-time job has been to care for our daughter and home, which means, I want to support him in what he needs to do.  Even when I have been tired and discouraged, I have made an effort to put his needs ahead of mine (I am not perfect in this) in order to support him, love him, and display my love and appreciation for him.  I need to say, that my husband makes this very easy, because he often asks me how he can help me with Tracey Ann, so this is a frequent two-way street in our marriage.  I feel like a very good wife when I prioritize the needs and desires of my hubby.
  • The diaper bag has been my purse for these past weeks.  I tried to carry both a diaper bag and a purse out of the house once, and I don't even know if I made it to the car -- TOO MUCH TO CARRY.  My keys, wallet, chapstick, and more have been in the diaper bag, and I love it!  No purse necessary because a diaper bag has come with me everyone I've gone.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Her First Easter Dress

Easter Family Picture
Ever since it started to sink in that I have my very own baby girl, I thought about buying dresses for her.  I got pretty emotional when we took her newborn pictures because I hadn't bought her a special dress for the occasion -- I didn't know I was having a baby girl, and she was only four days at the time, so shopping was not high on my list of priorities at that time.

Even after I COULD have begun shopping for my beautiful baby girl, I held back and told myself that in January, February and March, she just needed warm sleepers, and she was going to outgrow clothes in no time.  Now was not the time to waste our money on cute little dresses.

There was a carrot, however.  There was a treat I was dangling out in front of myself -- the dress I WAS going to allow myself to buy:  Her Easter Dress!

Our happy baby in her Easter dress with her Easter basket

I am of the culture that a little girl gets a new Easter dress every year.  It then becomes her special Spring/Summer dress.  She wears it on Mother's Day, to graduation parties, weddings, and other special events, but it always makes its first appearance on Mother's Day.  Also, a family always takes a picture on Easter morning with everyone all dressed up in their Spring, Easter finest.

I was SOOOO excited to find this dress at Once Upon A Child (no point in buying a brand new dress, when I can buy a slightly-used-but-looks-brand-new dress for 1/10th the cost) for $5.50, and the moment I saw it I KNEW it was my baby girl's first Easter dress.

Her Heisman pose...
I cannot get over how beautiful this baby is!
Grammy and Papa were in town for Easter... and for three weeks to help as Mama heads back to work

Happy Easter from the Millers!
The Easter Bunny found us!

Happy Easter from our family to yours.

Great shot because of the position of the sun -- lousy shot because of the position of the sun!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!


Happy Easter!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

New Fave...

Here is my new favorite picture of Tracey Ann.

I think I just have to accept that I'm going to have a new favorite picture of her every few weeks from now until she's married...  With Easter Sunday tomorrow, I hope I'll have a new favorite in less than 24 hours.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Spinning Plates...

I returned to work this week... and it was an "easy" work week at that because the students in my farthest and most invovled school district were on spring break this week.  That meant the majority of my work week was spent on paperwork, emails, scheduling, catching-up, and seeing students nearby.

That being said, it was a really hard week.

I feel like life before Tracey Ann was born was like riding a bike.  I knew how to do it, I knew what to expect... sometimes terrain was more difficult, and sometimes my body was tired... but life and working was like riding a bike.  I rode a bike well.

Then Tracey Ann was born, and I spent the next 11 weeks learning how to spin plates.  Spinning plates on my head and with both hands... I have been slowly but surly learning how to spin plates.

Then, this week, I had to try to put them together.  I had to spin plates while riding a bike.  And suddenly I could no longer do either one well.  All of a sudden I could neither ride a bike nor spin plates well, and all my week consisted of was spills off of my bike, and broken plates.

I know things will get better, and my parents arrive this weekend to help... but this has been a hard week full of bicycle accidents and broken plates.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Love When...

I love when...
  • Tracey Ann stretches her little arms up in the air, stretches her back, arches her neck back, and sticks her little chin out
  • Tracey Ann is fussing in her bassinet, and I walk over to see her and she immediately smiles up at me -- she recognizes me and her whole face lights up
  • I hear my hubby make up songs, words, and notes while singing and talking to our daughter... some of his tones are notes I have never heard before
  • My baby falls asleep in my arms after nursing
  • My baby is fussing and I pick her up and she quiets down
  • Tracey Ann is screaming (more than fussing) and we play "Let It Go" from Frozen, and she inexplicably, but reliably stops crying
  • I'm nursing Tracey Ann, and Lexie jumps up onto the bed next to her, and sniffs her head... and then comes over to my free side so I can pet her
  • My baby smells like milk -- which is almost all the time
  • My husband and I get a few minutes to just delight in our daughter together
  • I nurse Tracey Ann laying down, and I feel her tiny little body right next to mine... it reminds me of when I was pregnant, and I felt her beautiful little body all the time
  • Tracey Ann watches FaceTime with either my parents or Chris' family, and her eyes get big and she smiles at the excited happy faces talking to her
  • Lloyd comes over to Tracey Ann, and she smiles up at him... and then he leans down and gently licks her

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