Big Hearts, Little Hands

A Stay-at-Home Mom's Journey

Menu Planning

You probably hear a lot about menu planning. About all the benefits it provides: cuts on grocery costs, less stress over the question “What’s for dinner?”, and making you look like you’ve got everything together. Awhile back, I found this Pin on Pintrest. It looked so awesome. I really wanted to do this, and I even bought some card stock for the recipe cards.

One thing I found out, though, was that it was a lot of work writing all those recipes down. Add to that our laptop broke, so I didn’t have a computer and I was having problems getting some of the recipes to fit on the cards. I quickly figured out that maybe, just maybe, this system isn’t for me.

For awhile, I started to use my phone calendar to plan my dinner menus, but I needed something more tangible. I then remembered my whiteboard I had back in college. We stored it in Lucy’s closet because we couldn’t figure out where to hang it.

A light bulb turned on over my head. I asked my dear husband to hang the whiteboard up in the kitchen (I tried, but failed). Voila! A menu planning station!

I only plan dinner as lunch can be easily thrown together or just leftovers. So, I used the calendar side of the whiteboard to write down what we’re eating. You’ll notice I don’t have anything written down on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This gives me time to use up leftovers and gives me time to not worry about cooking.

The blank side I use as a sort of grocery list. I divide them into weeks and write the ingredients I’ll need for the recipes which I don’t normally have on hand. I erase them after we go shopping and that gives me room to write notes, if need be.

My whiteboard also has a little strip of cork on the bottom. I used this space to hang up a couple of things. The yellow pieces of paper are a list of the recipes I would like to try from various cookbooks. They’re sorted by the cookbook with the page number listed. There’s a single page called “Dylan’s Food”. This is a list of the food I make which Dylan likes. He’s somewhat picky about what he eats, so this helps me remember what things I’ve made that he would really like to eat again.

The notepad hanging up is where I write down my own recipes. Because of my cooking blog (Café Strawn), I have to make notes about what I’m putting into the recipe. Also, these come in handy when I have to make something better. If something doesn’t work out, then I make a note for next time.

This whole system is really working out for me. And because it’s written on a whiteboard, I can easily re-arrange things if need be. Since I plan a month at a time, I can think of what I’m going to have as leftovers and see how I can make another meal out of them. For example, on one Tuesday, I made a pot roast. I knew I always have leftovers, so the next Thursday I planned on making a beef pot pie. I find this keeps me eating better as well as less stressed about what’s for supper.

Do you do any meal planning? If so, how do you plan? Does it help at all?

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Easter Weekend

I’m a bit slow in updating this (sorry!) but here’s some pictures of our Easter weekend. Lucy was only a few months old last year, so this was the first year she really got to enjoy it. We held and Easter Egg “Hunt” in our front yard on Friday and then went to a park. On Easter Sunday, we ate over at my parents’ house, and played outside (though it was a bit chilly due to the wind). Here’s some pictures of our fun.


Looking at her Easter basket

Looking at her Easter basket

Holding her bubbles

Holding her bubbles

Looking for some Easter eggs

Looking for some Easter eggs

Found one!

Found one!

Look at how many I have!

Look at how many I have!

Looking pretty in her Easter dress

Looking pretty in her Easter dress

Learning to play golf with Daddy

Learning to play golf with Daddy

Looking pretty outside

Looking pretty outside

Enjoying Daddy-Daughter time

Enjoying Daddy-Daughter time

Sitting with Grandpa G.

Sitting with Grandpa G.

Chilling at the ball pit.

Chilling at the ball pit.

Next week I’m going to have a post up about menu planning, so keep an eye out for that. Already working on writing it down. 🙂

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Easter Basket Ideas

It’s hard to believe with snow on the ground, but Easter is right around the corner. This will be Lucy’s second Easter, and I’ve been racking my brain to try and figure out what to put in her Easter basket. Last she was only a couple of months old, so I only put a couple of things in there. The picture above is what it looked like. The eggs were empty. I was trying to find some of that fake grass, but all the stores were sold out, so I just used the eggs as a filler. I thought it looked pretty cute.

I thought I would share with you guys some of the ideas that I had for her when she was an infant and now that she’s entering the world of being a toddler. We’ll start with the younger age first:

Infant Easter Basket Ideas

  • Board books
  • Pacifiers
  • New bottles
  • Teething rings
  • Stuffed chicks or bunnies
  • Age-appropriate toys
  • Towels and washcloths
  • A new outfit
  • An educational or musical DVD or CD

Easter Basket Ideas for a 1 year old

  • Bubbles
  • Goldfish
  • Crayons (non-toxic, of course)
  • Finger paint (ditto from above)
  • Some of their favorite snacks
  • Sippy cups
  • Coloring book
  • Sunglasses
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • A sun bonnet or hat
  • A new swimsuit
  • Board books
  • Bath/Pool toys
  • Sunscreen

Some of these ideas may not seem like much fun to us adults, but I’ve learned that as long as Lucy doesn’t understand presents (and maybe even after she does) she’s going to be getting some practical things as well. Of course, always remember to get your child (or grandchildren) age-appropriate items. I’m putting crayons in Lucy’s basket this year, but she’s still putting things in her mouth, so we’ll see how those go. I also wanted to get her things that we can use this spring/summer (if it ever arrives!) so I grabbed some sidewalk chalk and some bubbles.

Are there things which you’ve given your kids that went over totally awesome? What about the other extreme, the duds? Do you do an Easter Egg Hunt, or just give baskets? Share with me your Easter traditions. Would love to hear them. 🙂

Happy Easter!


Nothin’ Much

Ugh….I’ve been so bad about posting on this blog. Every time I sit down to blog, I usually end up doing something for my food blog. It’s not that I hate this one, I just can’t think of anything to write for it. We still have snow on the ground here, so Lu and I have been stuck inside the apartment, and it’s hard for me to come up with activities what we can do inside. Usually we just put on some music and dance, she runs around and brings me toys, or we watch some educational TV together. I’m soooo looking forward to the warmer weather. Thankfully today it’s pretty warm, and once Lu-Bug gets up from her nap, we’re going for a walk outside. Woo!

I sometimes feel like an awful mom because I can’t do awesome activities with Lucy like I see other people doing with their kids. Yet, on the other hand, I know she has a good time just playing with her toys and climbing on me like I was a jungle gym. Oh well.

We did take a trip to the Science Center here a few weeks ago, so I might put up some pictures of that. Lu had a pretty good time, even though she didn’t understand the exhibits. Our Science Center has a great little area for toddlers, so we spent quite a bit of time there. But I’ll save that story for my next post. Yay! Now I actually have something to post about. 🙂

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Winter Ponderings

I am so sick of winter. One would think that by March, you wouldn’t be having snow, but here I am, last report I heard I’m suppose to be expecting 3 inches tonight. Bleh…

One main reason I’m looking forward to warmer weather is I really want to get into walking. I’m really hoping that Lucy and I will get to go on walks everyday. Plus, my brother- and sister-in-law moved really close by, so I’m hoping that we can take some walks together so the cousins will get to spend some time together.

I know awhile back I mentioned something about losing weight. How am I doing? Um….not that great. In fact, it’s been pretty bad. I haven’t weighed myself lately, but I’m pretty sure I’m still where I was. I have done Meatless Monday for the past two Mondays, so that’s getting me to thinking about eating healthier. I’ve also been trying to cook more from scratch and eat less processed food. Not 100% there yet, but it’s an ongoing process.

In Lucy news, she’s really getting this walking thing down. She still can’t walk everywhere yet, and she tends to get over excited and falls over, but she’s doing pretty awesome. I also found out from our last doctor’s visit that her skull has fused early, but they aren’t concerned about it. She’s just going to have a smaller head than normal. Honestly, she looks great to me, so I’m not trying to worry, even though there is some lingering in the back of my mind.

Speaking of doctor’s visits, this last one was pretty tough. I had to wake Lu up from a nap to make sure we got there on time, and then she threw a huuuuuge fit because I wouldn’t let her play with the doors underneath the inspection table. Like, this was epic. She threw herself on the floor and threw herself all over the place. Of course the door to the room was open so I’m sitting there trying to calm her and be stern, but not sound like an awful parent. Then, she had to get her shots. We were taken to a different room (which was new for us). When she got her shots she turned bright red in the face and screamed even louder (she was already crying). After all that excitement, we went home and Lucy took a long nap.

So that’s what’s been going on with us. I want to plan some activities to do with Lucy, so we’ll see how that goes. Need to do some looking on the Internet for some ideas. I already have some pinned on my Pintrest board. If you have/had children, what did you do when they had just turned 1?

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Meatless Monday

This past Monday I started something I’ve heard about but never done before. I started to do Meatless Mondays. It was a bit harder than I thought it was going to be, but I made it. For lunch I had cheese ravioli with an apple, and for supper I had Easy Mushroom Pizza Pie. I was suppose to have a baked acorn squash with it, but it didn’t really turn out very well. Dunno if I got an bad squash or what. It just looked like it was the wrong color and didn’t look appetizing at all.

That’s pretty much all that’s been going on here. Last week I was still feeling sick. A couple days I was actually running a low grade fever. Fortunately, all I have left is some congestion and my ears are clogged up because of it. Kind of annoying, but much better than lying around feeling like crap. Lucy is feeling a lot better as well. Her cough and runny nose is all gone, so that makes me a happy momma.

I think I’m going to end this blog post a bit premature, as my brain isn’t quite functioning right now (only got 5 hours of sleep last night) and I’ve tried to write something that’s coherent, but I keep rambling. Hopefully soon I can write a blog post.

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1st Birthday Party

This past weekend was Lucy’s birthday and birthday party. We held the party on Saturday while her actual birthday was Sunday. Sadly, my baby girl got a cold the day before her party, and it’s still persisting. She decided to share, though, and now I have the same thing, though I am running a low-grade fever. So this post is going to be short and sweet with a lot of pictures. Just wanted to share with you guys what we did for her first birthday.


I got this cake from Hy-Vee because we’ve used them in the past (for our wedding and anniversary cakes) and I’ve always been amazed at their work. Not only do they look good, but they taste wonderful as well. They couldn’t put Snoopy on the cake because of the copyright and they weren’t allowed, so they just did a generic red doghouse and I made the Snoopy you see out of chocolate. I might write up a blog about it sometime in the future. I was really proud of how he turned out. Also, since it was her first birthday, they gave us a free smash cake:


Even though she didn’t have a lot of sleep the night before, Lucy did have a good time.



 The bow is from Macie’s Custom BowZ


The entryway filled with balloons that didn’t last the night


The “buffet” we had: meat and cheese tray, cocktail rolls, chips, a veggie tray, and punch.


The present table


Our picture display (the book is a photo album)


Lucy through the months display


Not sure about the cake at first


The icing makes the thumb taste much better


Blowing out the candle (We forgot to do it before we gave her her own cake)

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Labor Story

One year ago today, I was in the hospital being induced after being a week overdue. It’s weird, but it’s hard for me to remember the pain I was in. I remember that I was in pain and that it hurt a lot, but just can’t place the pain exactly. Weird how our brains work, huh?

In honor of Lucy’s first birthday, I decided to post my labor story here. I had previously posted it on my Domestication blog, but due to the stresses of throwing her party and her being sick, I decided that doing a quick and easy post like this would be good. Plus, I’m sure some of you have never read it before. So, without further ado, my labor story.

Just a warning, this can get a bit TMI, so if you’re not interested in hearing about the gritty details of the birthing process, I suggest you skip this post. 🙂

I was due on Thursday, February 9, 2012. Well, that day came and went with nothing to show for it. I had an appointment that following Monday, and the doctor checked my cervix. I was already 3 cm dilated. They went ahead and scheduled me to be induced on Thursday, February 16, one week after I was due. I was really hoping that I would go into labor before that, as I really wanted as close to a natural birth as I could handle.

To my disappointment, I didn’t go into labor before the designated day, so, on Thursday, February 16, 2012, my husband and I showed up at the hospital at 6:15 in the morning. Due to me being totally worried about the whole thing, I didn’t get any sleep the night before. Um…yeah…not a good idea. Anywho, by the time they got all the paperwork done and my IV in (took them 4 sticks to get it in) it was 8:00 am and my induction started.

At first it wasn’t too bad. I got to see Lucy’s heartbeat on the monitor, as well as the strength of my contractions. That was pretty interesting. Because I had tested positive for the Strep B test, they had to give me penicillin every 4 hours during the labor. Oh my gosh I hated that stuff. They gave it to me via the IV and within half an hour, my arm started to burn. Apparently that’s pretty natural, but still it was pretty annoying.

After a few hours, my contractions started getting to the point where it was getting hard for me to handle. I really wanted to stay away from getting a spinal epidural, so I decided to try some painkillers via the IV. They gave me Stadol. Within minutes it started working. And man did it work!

It didn’t make the feeling of the contractions go away completely, but it helped a lot. It also made me really sleepy (which didn’t help when added to the fact that I didn’t get any sleep the night before). Most of the time while the drug was in effect, I was in this drugged sleep phase. I was conscious of stuff going on around me (such as my mom sending Dylan out of the room to get something to eat) but I was just so tired that I couldn’t open my eyes or say anything. I remember Dylan was saying something about how I had fallen asleep, and I replied that I wasn’t….even though I was snoring. It’s really weird to snore while you’re still awake. I would become slightly alert when a strong contraction came along, but other than that, it was all good.

But, alas, all good things must come to and end. The Stadol started to wear off, and the nurses told me that they can give me another dose, but it won’t work as well, and then after that, it pretty much won’t work at all. They checked my cervix again and I was dilated to 6 cm. This was around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. (Forgive me for forgetting the times when this all took place. Drugs + it being 3 weeks ago = a forgetful Shiloh.) They asked me again if I wanted an epidural and I said no. The nurses left the room and a really strong contraction hit me. This was probably one of the strongest ones that I had had up to that point and oh man did it hurt. I was almost crying and I finally broke down and asked for an epidural.

They went to get the anesthesiologist and while they did that, they got me up to go to the bathroom. For those of you not in the know, when you get a spinal epidural, you’re pretty much paralyzed from the waist down. While walking back from the bathroom, another really strong contraction hit me, and I pretty much doubled over from the pain. I kept trying to say “Labor pain is good pain” in my head (something I heard from one of the labor videos I had watched) but that didn’t really help a whole lot.

One random thing was that when I was on Stadol (I think, memory’s a bit fuzzy), I started shaking really bad. I think it was just a combination of the meds in the IV as well as I had developed a fever sometime during my labor. It was kind of annoying to be dealing with contractions as well uncontrollable shaking.

Sometime during labor

So finally the anesthesiologist came and they started the epidural. I did not like getting the epidural at all. First, they had me sit up in the bed and hang my feet over the side, so they could get to my back. One of the nurses held me upright while the anesthesiologist did her thing. She numbed the area, but I don’t think it got numbed very well. I don’t know exactly what she did back there, but man it hurt. I could actually feel the needle go in, and I let them know that by almost breaking down in tears saying I felt something. Didn’t help that I was having a contraction at the same time. Also, the nurse that was holding me pretty much held my head against her chest, which really freaked me out as I hate having my face covered (something like a mild form of claustrophobia). So I was freaking out about 3 different things so they had a hard time holding me still.

Yet, once the epidural started working, wow it made a difference! I guess I had a really strong contraction, and Dylan asked “Did you feel that?” My response was “Feel what?”. Even though I really didn’t want to get an epidural, I’m glad I did. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to make it through without one. One bad side effect, though. As mentioned before it makes you really numb from the waist down. Well, I could barely feel my right leg. Like, if you poked it, I could still feel it in that weird numb way, but I couldn’t move it at all. Kind of bad when you’re suppose to hold your legs up when you start pushing, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

So while on the epidural, I catch a few hours of sleep, watch the Antique Roadshow with Dyl and my mom, as well as watching the first part of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I found that when I went to sleep, I dilated faster (or so it seemed). After taking a nap, they checked my cervix again and found that I was dilated to 9 cms. Yay! Progress!

But progress was slow after that. I was stuck at 9 cm for awhile (again, can’t remember exact times). At one point I had dilated to 9.5 cms and stayed there for awhile. Finally, they had me start pushing at 9 pm. They didn’t think it would take that long. Uh…yeah….sure….

So they had me push for an hour. You think you know how to push, but when you’re on an epidural, and can’t really feel down there all that well, pushing becomes a lot harder. I guess I wasn’t making any progress, ’cause the overseeing physician told them to let me rest for an hour. I think I may have fallen asleep for a bit, kind of hard to remember, but at 10 pm, they had me pushing again.

Again, they didn’t think that it would take that long as they could feel her head pretty well. They apparently underestimated how big my child’s head was. So for over 2 hours I pushed, with Dylan and my mom holding my legs up, since I couldn’t do that myself thanks to the epidural.

Long story short, I pushed and pushed and pushed. They kept telling me “Just one more big push!” for about an hour. Yeah….one more push….right….Finally, I pushed her head out and the rest was pretty easy. Dylan was going to cut the umbilical cord, but it was wrapped around her neck and she wasn’t breathing. So the doctor had to cut the cord and they had to use that suction-thingy to clear out her nose and throat so she could breath. Even when they got that clear, she whimpered more than cried. That was kind of scary for me, but they told me that she was doing fine. I was going to have her plopped right on my chest, but because of her traumatic entrance into the world, they had to do some tests and stuff right away to make sure she was okay. She was, thankfully.

Exhausted after giving birth

Then came the afterbirth. Holy cow that was way easier than the actual birth. Oh, and if you’re expecting and going to have the father in the room, please inform him what the afterbirth is. That way he won’t be so freaked out when this balloon of bloody flesh comes out of you. Thankfully I had informed Dylan of this before, so he wasn’t so surprised, but I, personally, was grossed out by it. But then they handed me Lucy, so I forgot about it pretty quickly.

I also tore pretty bad, apparently, as they took while to stitch me back up. I guess I had internal stitches as well, but they didn’t really tell me much about that, and I didn’t really ask.

Also, I was almost out of my epidural, and they said they weren’t going to give me anymore once it ran out, something about a shortage or something. I don’t really remember. But seriously, I only had some left in the tube underneath the dripper deal by the end of it all. I was terrified I was going to run out. Thank goodness I didn’t, otherwise I don’t know how I would have handled it.

Lucy Joanna was born at 12:11 am on Thursday, February 17, 2012. She was 8 pounds, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long. I was in labor for 16 hours and pushed for about 3. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. She also had a much bigger head than they first thought, and actually she had a large bump on the back of it which was all bruised. That got better pretty fast, though she still has her stork bite on the back of her neck. She was also pretty jaundice, but she got better before we left the hospital.

My first good look at her

Because I was Strep B positive, we had to stay in the hospital for 48 hours, which was kind of nice because we didn’t really have to worry about anything. At one point we needed some sleep and Lucy just wanted to cry and scream, so the nurses took her to the nursery so we could get some sleep.

So, there you have it, there’s my birth story. I’m sure there are details in which I’m forgetting, but that’s the major part. Feel free to ask questions if you have any. 🙂

Our happy family
My perfect baby


We live in a technology-driven world. I’m not totally against that. In fact, I love technology and what it brings us. A fact you may not know about me is that I’m a gamer. I can spend hours exploring the world of Skyrim or fighting against the Covenant, or merely living an alternative life in The Sims.

I also love how Facebook and other social sites have brought friends and family closer. In fact, my grandfather “stalks” me via Facebook for pictures of Lucy. I also love browsing Pintrest. It’s given me many ideas regarding food, fun activities for Lucy, and given me a way to express my geekiness.

Yet, at the same time, I feel as though technology often has a negative effect on people. Look around and you’ll see kids with their faces glued to their smart phones, fights between people over something they said or shared on Facebook, and a feeling of depression among housewives.

Didn’t see that last one coming, did ya? I’m not sure if there’s been any scientific study on this or not, but it’s my feeling that with the age of blogs and Pintrest comes with the feeling of inadequacy among housewives (or husbands).

If that doesn’t make sense, then let me explain it to you this way. I am not the greatest housewife in the world. Seriously. I hate to clean. I hate doing dishes. I’d much rather be playing video games, cross stitching, or reading. But Dylan and I have decided that I will be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM for short) and with that comes running a house.

Even though I’m not the greatest, I like to think that I do an OK job at it. I know there’s room for improvement, and I work at doing better. Yet sometimes when I’m browsing blogs or Pintrest, I get depressed and discouraged.

Why? Because I see these women who seem to have it perfectly together. They have a perfectly immaculate home, a perfect organizational system, a wonderfully clean and nice kitchen, and can make anything and everything from scratch. In the back of my head, I know that they can’t possibly be perfect at everything, but you rarely see the imperfections, do you?

There’s a wonderful blog I love to read called Pinstrosities. They recently put up a post about how we shouldn’t be afraid to try a pin just because we don’t think it will turn out the same or because something else we had tried went up in smoke. I loved this. And it totally applies to all areas of our lives.

Why should I spend my time comparing myself to other people who are only showing me the best parts of their lives? I can take that time and use to to spend time with my daughter, or working on my own blogs, or even cleaning (ew!).

“Now wait a minute, Shiloh,” I hear you saying. “You have a blog. Aren’t you guilty of the same thing?” Well, I guess I am, though I like to think that I am pretty up front with my failures and short comings. When something goes wrong with a project I’m posting about, you can be sure that I’ll be posting about that problem. I guess I could get on here and nag about what a horrible person my husband is being and moaning about I barely get any time to myself, but honestly, I don’t like to air my family’s dirty laundry, and that’s not what this blog is all about. Sure I’m going to get on here from time to time whining about something, but I’m hoping that will be tiny compared to all the good things I put on here.

In short, I’m not perfect, and I’m not using this blog to say “Look at me! I’m better than you!” I’m using it to share my experiences of being a SAHM and offering a bit of “I feels you, bro”. This blog is also a way for me to gain a bit of sanity and to use my love of writing in a positive way. 🙂

Have you ever found yourself comparing yourself to others online? Has Pintrest been a blessing or a curse for you? Leave a comment and lemme know what you think.

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Death of a Modem

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in awhile. Our modem died, so in essence, we haven’t had Internet. In fact, we still don’t. I’m posting this from my phone. A bit more difficult for me.

We did buy a modem and it’s heading into the mail today, so I’m hoping to have it up and running soonish. I have a post in the works about being a Super Mommy, so look forward to that.

Also, if you’re my friend on Facebook, you’ll know sickness has hit our household. First Lucy woke up throwing up Saturday night. She threw up probably 6 or 7 times. First time she had ever done that so it was hard on us as well as her. Then, the next day, Dylan came down with it as well. Fortunately it seems as though it’s just a 24 hour bug as they’re all well now. I fortunately did not get sick, but there’s still time, I guess.

Also, if you follow my other blog, Café Strawn, then you’ll be excited  to know that I’ve been experimenting with recipes and am currently writing 3 new recipes. One of them is currently in my slow cooker now.

That’s all for now. See you when I finally get internet back! 😀

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