Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Family Photos

It has been a tradition for awhile now for us to get professional family photos about once a year.  None of us really enjoys the process of taking the photos... Shaun and Jameson least of all, but we all enjoy HAVING them.

We had our photos done about 3 weeks ago by Stephanie Zahn of Caught Fire Photography.  If you're a Baltimore local, she's your gal.  Definitely check out her work!  She's great to work with (and affordable as well), oh, and you will see, her work is incredible.

Jameson was oh so NOT into getting his photo taken this day, so with that in mind, they turned out much better than I was expecting!

Take a peek at some of my favs... before long, we'll have to do another photo shoot with new baby gal (and no, I didn't have that baby yet!) ;)

As you may have noticed, it's also a tradition for Jameson to bring along to said photo shoot.  Last year, it was Thomas and this year it was his helicopter. I expect the tradition to continue for quite some time...

I have already ordered prints because I'm SO excited to get these pics up and displayed.

So, what about you?  Does your family get professional photos done with any regularity or do you just do your own?

- Amber

Friday, October 10, 2014

Baby Countdown, Wedding Weekend, and Book Club

So, guys... today is the end of my third week at my new job.  I'm so happy I've gotten in some time/hours before baby gal arrives.  The new gig is going very well - it's a bit strange to be back at my Ph.D. alma matter as staff rather than as a student, but I must say I like it better on this side of things!

Speaking of baby gal arriving, I've got just 3 weeks to go (or at least I hope... you hear me, little gal?  Let's make an appearance in October!)

Here's a pic from this morning (also appeared on my blog fb page) - my belly is large and in charge!

Aside from some new pubic pain (is that too much information?), I'm feeling pretty well... seriously getting excited to welcome our newest addition and we are feeling ready.  The car seat is installed, her bassinet is set up next to the bed with the sheet on, I've got newborn diapers, and lots of teeny clothes are washed and ready.

I'd like to get the nursery in a little bit better working order, but honestly, that's no biggie.  We also need to convert the crib from a toddler bed back into a crib, but again, she'll initially sleep in the bassinet, so... no biggie!

Tomorrow, we are off to see one of my childhood friends get married!  The super fun part is that Audrey is her flower girl.  I'll be sure to post pics of that because she is ridiculously adorable in her dress... or glamorous/elegant - she would prefer those adjectives.  She really does look too grown up.  Audrey was a flower girl 3 1/2 years ago, but she doesn't remember it...

flashback to my baby brother's wedding in May, 2011:

how gorgeous was my brother's bride by the way?!?! ;)
My other exciting event coming up this weekend, though it's no wedding, is my book club's monthly meeting.  Man, I LOVE our book club.  It's been going strong for 6 years now.  6 whole years!

This past month, we read Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susan Cahalan.  I HIGHLY recommend this memoir which is terrifying and illuminating.  It's a pretty quick read and definitely pulled me in from the start.

Okay, that's all for today's updates... 

Happy Friday, my friends!

- Amber

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Off to Work I Go (Really!)

Good news, guys!  With only 5 weeks until my due date, I managed to land a job... actually, I managed to end up with a couple of offers, so I got to CHOOSE the position rather than just take what was available.  That's a position I was not expecting to be in when I found out last month that the position I had been counting on fell through.
In the end, I decided to head back to my Ph.D. alma mater - a twist I was not expecting!  My position is as a 'Research Scientist,' which basically means I will be involved in a number of different research projects with an old grad school mentor of mine who is a very well known psychologist in the field of addictions/behavior change.  It is a privilege to work with him again!  Additionally, I get to teach once a semester or so and will likely have the opportunity to supervise clinical Ph.D. students in their clinical work as well.  So, I'll be wearing many hats, but that's precisely what I like about the position.  After 7 years of graduate school and juggling many different responsibilities, I was really struggling to choose a position where I'd be pigeon holed into one area.  Well, problem solved! 
One of the best parts???  I will only be working 3 days per week... one day will be a long day with teaching in the evening, however, this frees me up to 1) stay home twice a week with Jameson and his soon to be baby sis and 2) fit in some more clinical work on the side (I landed a side gig doing emergency room psych evals that is very flexible).
So, after all that stressing, it seems like I found a position that is the perfect fit for me and for our family right now.  To all of you who said "it will be okay" and "it will work out," you were right!  It was hard for me to see this a few weeks back, but here we are!
Well, it's Tuesday, one of my days off, and I've got a bathroom to clean (yes, the nesting has begun).
- Amber

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Baby Gal's Nursery in Progress

With just 6 1/2 weeks (or less!!) to go, we are getting baby gal's nursery together.  Realistically, we don't NEED to have it done by the time she gets here since really she just needs a bassinet next to our bed, some diapers, some clothes, and my breasts for eating... oh yeah, and a car seat! BUT, I LIKE to have as much ready as possible and am generally a very organized/prepared person, so obviously we're working on it now.  It's not done, but it is off to a nice start!
If you'll recall, Jameson's nursery (now baby gal's room) was nautical themed and a dark blue hue.
Color before...
 Husband working on the paint color...
 Color after and the gorgeous floral valence that my awesome friend Melissa made for Audrey's nursery a good 6 1/2 years ago!!

 Teeny weeny washed and ready baby girly clothes
 The closet

Okay, so we've still got quite a ways to go and a few cute items to hang.. a rug being shipped from Amazon etc, but this little lady's room is getting there! 
I'll continue to update as we work on it :)
- Amber

Friday, September 12, 2014

33 Week Bump Update!

Well, so much for posting more once my postdoctoral position ended... that was last Tuesday and here I finally am!  Phew!  I'm actually surprised at how busy I've been keeping, but I guess my house was a lot messier than I realized... ha.  I've also been job interviewing like crazy and I **think** things are just about figured out on the job front, but I'll save that for another post when I know for sure what my plan is!  For now, I'm popping on for a pregnancy update.  As I've told you before, this blog is the only way I've been documenting this pregnancy.  The first 2 kids got cute pregnancy journals filled with notes and photos, but this gal?  Not so much!  So, I better do a few more updates before she arrives, because guess what... we've got 7 weeks or less to go.  Oh my!

Pregnancy Review:
How far along: 33 weeks on the dot

exercising here and there...

Total weight gain/loss: a healthy amount... about 30lbs already... yowza!

Maternity Clothes? indeed. I wear those!  I can still get away with some non-maternity tops and I wear all non-maternity cardigans, etc.  I haven't been into jeans lately - I'm digging comfy leggings/yoga pants.

Stretch Marks? lots of old ones and they are starting to turn a bit purple... I can see them coming

Sleep: getting increasingly uncomfortable..  I've started popping 1/2 a unisom here and there to help me sleep through the night and that does help.  Oh how I miss tummy sleeping!

Best Moment this week: lots of amazing baby movement... easily my favorite part of pregnancy!

Movement: this gal moves what seems like almost non-stop and I have no complaints... it's sometimes distracting when I'm trying to fall asleep, but I wouldn't change a thing

Food Cravings: MILK - like just a huge glass of milk... and that means I've been craving foods that go with milk, namely oreos and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Why can't I crave veggies?  I definitely DON'T.

Gender: little lady babe in the belly :)

What I miss: tummy sleeping, pumpkin beer, bending over easily

Labor signs: none

Belly Button in or out: not an outie, but pretty much flat at this point

What I am looking forward to: finishing up baby gal's room - I already started on it.  We decided to go with a light grey wall color with soft pinks, greens, blues --- I changed my color palette so I could reuse a lot of what I had with Audrey.  Also going with a subtle bird theme because birds are cute (just not real ones)

Milestones: being well into the 3rd tri, passing my glucose tolerance test!

My friend took this photo at dinner last night to show how my belly is smaller this time around with baby girl than it was with Jameson (on the phone pic - I was 32 weeks with him) and this photo is me now at 33 weeks!!  Crazy!  Jameson was a big boy :)
That's all for now, friends!  I'll be back (hopefully soon) to share updates on our nursery progress.

- Amber

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Easy Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons... It's What's For Dinner!

On Monday, I posted a pic of the yummy white garlic bean soup I made in the crock pot that day and it seemed like a hit, so here I am posting the recipe.  Because I love you guys.  And, you need this soup in your life.  

This soup is fabulous because....

- it requires simple, inexpensive ingredients
- you can make it in the slow cooker
- you can make it in the slow cooker
- you can make it in the slow cooker...

Anyway, yeah, I freaking love slow cooker/crock pot recipes. Which is it anyway? I use those terms interchangeably...

Slow Cooker White Bean Garlic Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons


** 2 cups dried white beans
** 8-10 cloves of minced garlic
** 1 bay leaf
** 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
** 2 1/2 cups water
** 1 tsp ground sage
** 1 1/2 tsp thyme
** salt and pepper to taste
** 1 5oz can evaporated milk, warmed
** 1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes (drained)
** garlic bread croutons

What Ya Do...

1. Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight.
2. In the morning, drain beans and add to slow cooker --- add in the garlic, bay leaf, sage, thyme, and broth/water.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours (I let mine go longer actually and it was just great)
4. Puree with an immersion blender --- stir in the evaporated milk, tomatoes, and additional seasonings.  At this point, you can play with adding cornstarch if you need thickener or more broth if you want it brothier, etc.  Cook on HIGH for at least 15 minutes.
5. Test it again at this point and adjust seasonings if needed.  Serve in a bowl with garlic bread croutons.

Oh, garlic bread croutons?

Easy!  Make some garlic bread (I used generic texas toast) and over do it just a touch, then tear up the bread and bake a little more if you like, so it's harder/more crouton like and toss those in the soup. YUM YUM YUM

This would also be tasty with a dollop of sour cream on top, but I didn't have any. sad face.

Yum is what I say to this soup!  This is definitely going on our meal plan rotation - it's a keeper.

Enjoy :)

- Amber

Friday, August 22, 2014

Soon, I'll Have A Lot More Time To Blog...

So, I'll be home a lot more soon and NOT because of maternity leave.  My post doc position, where I've been working for the last year, ends on 9/2.  This is just how post docs go.  Some positions are for 1 year, some are 2, etc.  Mine was 1, so it's coming to a close.

The way things work in grad school are year to year, so this is nothing new to me.  You do a clinical practicum for one year, then move onto the next.  Full-time internship (the last big hurdle) is a year... So, this is nothing new.

What is new?

Not having the next thing lined up.

Normal, for me, means you know what your next gig is months and I mean MONTHS in advance.  Take internship... you found out in February where you'll be starting between July and September.  I secured this post doc position March of 2013 and started in September.  This is NORMAL for us psychology grad school folks.

This real job, real word business is not normal... not my normal at least.

Of course, I've been pursuing future jobs for months now.  There was one I was pretty set on and was told was pretty much a done deal and I was SO excited about that because a) it was the kind of work I wanted to do and b) they didn't seem to care that I'd be starting the job when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant.

But then, most things don't work out as perfectly as they seem and this job was no exception.  I was told a few weeks ago that they wouldn't be doing anymore hiring in that particular department for a whole host of reasons that were out of everyone's control.

No job for me.

On to plan B...

Thankfully, I had other "irons in the fire" (that's the expression, right?) and have been applying for jobs.  I've had one interview so far, more scheduled, and more applications recently filed, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that when my job ends on 9/2, I won't be starting anywhere else on 9/3.  This will be SO WEIRD to me.  I have a lot of friends/family saying "enjoy it" and "relax," but that's awfully hard to do when you're not planning on this kind of break from employment you've got bills bills bills (hello student loans!)

The other strange situation with all of this is that with me being home for who knows how long (could be days, could be weeks, could be until after baby is born), we can't pull the kids out of their childcare situations.  Audrey's in before/after school care and it is HARD to secure those spots.  We don't want to pull her out because, let's say, I start a job in mid-September... then that would have been a terrible idea.

Same thing with Jameson.  I'm pulling him back to part-time once baby girl is born and I'm home on leave, but in the interim, I don't know how long this employment break will last (days? weeks?), so we don't want to pull him out of his difficult to secure preschool spot at a center we just LOVE.

It's funny... I've always said I'd want to be a stay at home mom if I could send my kids to school, like that'd be my ideal situation.  Joking, of course.  But, here I am about to be in that situation.  I'm sure I'll be pulling together some part-time work here and there in the mean time, but man, this is a STRANGE feeling.  I'm trying to roll with it and honestly, I'm considerably less stressed about the whole thing than I was a few weeks ago... time does heal I suppose.

You know what else is strange??!  Interviewing while REALLY, OBVIOUSLY, RIDICULOUSLY pregnant.  Like me.  I've had 2 kids, but somehow managed to avoid that awkwardness until now.  But, I'll save that ranting for another post.

Until then, send some employment vibes my way :)  I know everything will work out - I'll just feel better when things fall into place.  You guys know I'm a ridiculously organized planner, right?  This kind of situation doesn't sit well with folks like me... but that's life, yeah?  And honestly, one thing that has helped me is keeping a bigger picture perspective.  Shaun and I are really blessed.  We are blessed with our health, our kiddos' health, food to eat, a place to live, and wonderful families who are there for us and will help us in any way we ever need.  It's a lot harder for me to complain when I realize that I have ALL that.  I AM a lucky gal.  I'll still take those employment vibes though ;)

- Amber