Thursday, March 31, 2011

So cute!

Someone sent me this on youtube today and I loved it! And I happened to watch it with Anna sitting on my lap and she started giggling at the babies! She sat there entranced the entire time. I can't wait until she starts babbling just like these two little guys. So cute!

Congratulations!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daddy's Girl

A really fun thing to watch over the last week or two is that Anna has really turned into a Daddy's Girl. She has always liked him obviously and has given a few smiles in response to his games, but now her face lights up as soon as he walks in the room. In fact, she's kind of obsessed with him! She watches him the entire time he's in the room or walking around, and it's sometimes hard to keep a grip on her, she lunges for him so quickly! It is so sweet to watch, and I'm even more excited for the end of tax busy season so we can all spend a lot more time together.

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Football baby!

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Kissy monster

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Nap time

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Belly Babbles Spring Challenge- Week Two


We're heading into the actual cleaning part of the Challenge now and my house sure needs it. Now, lest anyone be mistaken by all these cleaning posts - I do not like cleaning. I do not enjoy cleaning. In fact, during this entire process, I'm dreaming of the day that I can just pay someone else to come in here and do this all for me. But I do enjoy having a clean and well-functioning home, so I've got to pull on my gloves and get the job done.

This week we are focusing on the Upstairs. I know every house is different, so if you're following along and you don't have an upstairs, the rooms for this week are the master bedroom, guest bedroom, nursery, and laundry room. A lot of this stuff is probably already on your weekly or daily cleaning schedule, but since this is supposed to be comprehensive, I'm including everything. Just do what you need to do and tweak the list if you want to.

As you're working, keep an eye out for a good Special Project for this week that you can knock out.

Bedrooms
Sweep floors (or vacuum if you've got carpet)
Steam floors
Dust ALL surfaces, including light fixtures/ceiling fan, ceiling, corners, and furniture
Clean windows 
Polish wood furniture
Dust shutters (if you have drapes, wash them or vacuum and let them air outside)
Dust and wipe down baseboards
Replace burned-out light bulbs
Wipe down walls
Clean doorknobs
Clean mirror
Wash bedding and pillows
Flip and vacuum mattress
Clean and organize dresser – donate or toss unwanted clothes
Clean and organize closet - donate or toss unwanted clothes
Clean, repair and store winter clothing

Bathrooms

Thoroughly clean toilets (including behind, base and hardware)
Scrub bathtubs and showers (launder or replace shower curtains, if you've got them)
Clean shower heads
Clean sinks
Clean counters
Sweep floors
Steam floors
Sprinkle baking soda and vacuum carpet
Wash towels
Dust and wipe down baseboards
Replace any burned-out light bulbs
Dust light fixtures and fan vents
Clean out drains
Refill hand soaps
Make sure toilet paper is stocked
Clean out toiletries and replace as needed
Clean out medicine kit and replace expired medicines
Clean out and organize cabinets and drawers
Empty trashcans and wash out
Wipe down walls
Clean mirrors
Clean windows
Wipe down doors and clean door knobs
Inspect grout and repair/replace if needed

Nursery

Sweep floors
Steam floors
Vacuum rug 
Dust ALL surfaces, including light fixtures/ceiling fan, ceiling, corners, and furniture
Vacuum chair and spot-clean cushions
Polish wood furniture
Clean windows
Dust plantation shutters
Dust and wipe down baseboards
Replace burned-out light bulbs
Wipe down walls
Clean doorknobs
Clean pictures
Wash bedding
Clean toys (washing machine, bleach bath, or surface clean)
Inspect and toss broken or damaged toys
Wash swing, rocker, Boppy cover, changing table cover, and jumper fabrics
Scrub baby tub
Clean out closet and store/donate clothing
Empty trash and wash out trash can
Spot clean car seat
Spot clean stroller
Tidy book shelves

Laundry Room 

Sweep floors
Steam floors
Dust light fixtures
Clean window
Clean out clothes steamer (vinegar)
Take inventory of detergents, vinegar, stain removers, bleach and replenish as needed
Vacuum and wipe down dryer vent
Wipe down washer and dryer
Run wash of vinegar through washer to clean
Clean out and organize cabinets
Take inventory of sewing supplies and replenish
Change attic A/C filter
Clean iron
Wipe down walls
Wipe down door
Wash hamper liners
Wash out laundry baskets
Return dry cleaners hangers for recycling
Empty trash and wash out can

See you next week! 

Belly Babbles Spring Challenge- Week One Check In


How did everyone's Prepping and Planning Week go? Hopefully you've got your cleaning closet and laundry room stocked, your cleaning schedule down, your closets and clutter cleared out, your summer recipes collected, and your special project done!

I did pretty well this week. I cleared out two massive piles of clothes, at least a dozen pairs of shoes, and several old purses from my closet (and the sad thing is- the closet still isn't even close to empty!!! Yikes). It's all going to Goodwill on Tuesday!

My special project this week was one that desperately needed doing. Before Anna came, and we thought the epilepsy was going to be a bigger issue, we bought a full set of bottles and all the pumping paraphernalia. And I do keep a small stash of milk in the freezer but for the most part, we rarely touch any of this stuff. It's been crammed into one small drawer in the kitchen and despite my best efforts to keep it tidy, well...take a look:

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Holy hell, right? Well now it's even worse, because now that Anna's starting solids, we've got even more stuff to add. And there's no way this stuff is going to fit in that drawer!

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I finally took the time to rearrange some stuff in our little pantry cupboards, and I was able to dedicate an entire pullout drawer to Anna's stuff. I was able to fit all her fruits and veggies and all her bottles in there. Nothing falls over anymore and it's SO much easier to find what I'm looking for!

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By the way- the pullout drawer is from Home Depot (installed last year) and the honeycomb organizer is from Bed Bath & Beyond.

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Hope everyone else had a productive week too - we can officially cross Week One off the calendar and we're on to Week Two!

SAHM FAQ LOL BBQ

When people learn that I'm a stay at home mom (SAHM), I get a few of the same questions a LOT so I thought it'd be fun to do a FAQ. I know a couple of other stay at home mommas read this blog, it'd be fun to see if they get the same questions!

What do you do all day?

Well, lots of things! I try to stick to my weekly cleaning schedule, so in the mornings during Anna's nap I try to knock out the housecleaning for the day. We also like to go for a long walk in the morning in the neighborhood. Then, several times during the week, we either have Gymboree, play dates with friends, or lunch or coffee dates. We get out of the house a lot! And yes, I get plenty of adult interaction, haha. And I'm sure that none of you had absolutely ANY idea about this, but Anna's main concern during the day at home is playing with me and her toys and Kingsley. So we do a lot of that :-). Anna goes to bed sometime between 7 and 8, and once she's asleep I catch up on the blog, maybe watch one of our shows with the hubster, read for a bit, or finish a project that I didn't get around to during the day.

Don't you miss the adult interaction?

Nope, see above. I think I actually get more quality adult interaction now than I did while I was working. It's definitely more fun interaction, that's for sure!

What do you eat for lunch?

This one makes me giggle. What does anyone eat for lunch? But since I do get it pretty frequently, here we go. I usually eat salads - I buy a ton of different veggies every week (cucumbers, avocado, carrots, squash, etc.) so I never really get sick of it. I also usually add a bit of chopped deli ham to the top for protein. I also love eggs, and I also eat cold cut sandwiches with either yogurt or a banana, apple, or orange on the side. Sometimes if we've got the odd serving of leftovers, I'll eat that, but we usually try to save leftovers for dinner so we don't have to cook every night. Occasionally I will make a grilled cheese sandwich and soup.

How do you meet people?

This was a concern of mine when I was getting ready to "retire" - very few of my current friends nearby had kiddos, or they were still working, and I knew that I'd have to expand my social network in order to help fill up our day and give Anna some playmates. I met the majority of my new momma friends through meetup.com - I joined a couple of the local groups. And I don't really have a problem striking up a conversation with new people, so after going to a few activities, I've managed to find some pretty good friends! I also have found that most other new moms at the consignment sales, doctor's office, or at Gymboree are also looking for more friends. I really think that if you're even just the slightest bit outgoing, there are plenty of new friends to be made :-). Of course I still love hanging out with my non-mommy friends too. I love meeting up for lunch, brunch, or shopping... and I'm looking forward to the day (hopefully soon, haha) that Stevo can put Anna down for bed without World War III erupting and I can go out for drinks or dinner again.


When are you going back to work?

Well, to be honest, the plan is for me to be at home indefinitely. I consider being a momma my full-time job now and I don't think that's going to stop just because the kiddos are in school. I'll never say never, but if all goes well it's going to be quite some time before I consider working even part-time. And I feel my contributions here at home are infinitely more important than having the extra income  :-). I have been informed though that if the income taxes are done away with and Steve's job becomes obsolete, I will have to go back to work so Steve can figure out how to make a living brewing beer!!

What does your husband do?

 90% of the time, this question is just idle get-to-know-you conversation and I don't think twice about it. I will say though, that when it's preceded by "When are you going back to work?", and then they say. "Oh wow! You're so lucky!! What does your husband do?", I think it's a little offensive. It seems like a roundabout way to guess at our income level. which, quite frankly, is nonya bizness. It's also a little offensive given that I put in 5 very hard but successful years pulling in income in order to enable me staying at home - this is not just a result of me solely depending on my husband's income.  It is also humorous that in a lot of minds, you either have to be living in poverty and on welfare, or you have to be ridiculously wealthy in order to have one of the parents staying at home. Let me assure you that there is a medium area in there, folks! But anyway, he's a CPA, lol.

When are you having a second baby?

Hahahahahahahaha.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Picture Post!

Some randoms from the phone and around the house - enjoy!

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watching a little Baby Einstein while her momma finishes up her phone call


 not doing too much playing at the play date!!
P.S. - Anna's 6 month pediatrician appointment went well although she was NOT impressed with the shots. She weighs 18 lbs, 9.2 oz and is 26 inches long - healthy girl! The doctor was very happy. I bought her some new books to make up for the shots trauma and then she had a lunch date with her friend Jackson. Fun day!



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

6 Months Old!

Our sweet baby girl is 6 months old today- holy cow! She is growing by leaps and bounds and this has been a busy month. Her fun little personality is coming out more and more, and we love her sense of humor! Just squeal "puppies!!!" at her and she is bound to smile and giggle!

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Just for funsies, see how much she's grown!




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I know we've been a little "boy who cries wolf" about this, but Anna has officially cut TWO teeth, and she's got one more right behind them! She had my finger in her mouth one morning happily chomping away, and I realized that there was something kind of sharp in there! I pulled her lip down and sure enough- tooth! And the second followed just a day or two later. She refuses to let me take a picture of them, but I promise they are there. She really hasn't been fussy at all. She has been a little clingier than usual, and she's started to wake up once or twice during the night again, but beyond that we really haven't noticed anything unusual that we can attribute to teething. We did stock up on the Baby Orajel just in case, but so far we haven't had to use it. Sophie the Giraffe is getting quite the workout though!!

Our brilliant baby is also starting to sit a little bit! She can "tripod" pretty well with her arms and she sits like a champ if I have my hands around her. She'll sit for a few seconds now by herself before she topples over, but every day she gets a little bit better. It's also extremely difficult to keep her in one spot on the floor- she rolls every which way! At Gymboree it's hard to do any of the songs or games because she's too busy rolling and scooting around.

this wiggle worm loves that Gymboree parachute!

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One thing we have finally capitulated on is her toys. She has approximately three million hand-held little toys like rattles and stuffed animals (we aren't buying her another stuffed animal, ever!!), but except for her jumper and her play mat she didn't really have any "big" toys. Well, I decided she needed some now that she's starting to sit up, so I invested an hour by myself and did some garage sale hunting. I found her several toys that look brand new and all I had to spend was the $20 that I happened to have in my wallet. And she loves them!! Please ignore the fact that she's half-dressed/nekked in these pictures- she was running a little warm in her PJ's so we took them off. Right now the back half of our dining room is her play room.

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Anna is getting better with eating her solids. I still wouldn't say that she's crazy about them, but at least some now are making their way into her tummy vs. all over her bib/the chair/Mommy/the floor/the windows/Kingsley. I mixed a little bit of banana into her oatmeal the other day and that seemed to help. I also stopped by the store today to pick up some apples, avocado, and sweet potato. I plan to puree and freeze those tomorrow so they are ready to go. Maybe she'll like those better!

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After her bath and before bedtime, we always read at least one book while we rock in the glider together. Her favorite books are anything by Dr. Seuss- she loves the colors, the pictures, and the rhythm of the stories. Or maybe they just taste the best.

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We haven't had her doc appointment this month yet, but my guess is that she's somewhere between 17 and 18 pounds. She's mostly wearing 6-9 month size clothing, but a few of her 3-6 month stuff still fits, and then some of her outfits are sized 12 months!! Yikes.

We are off to do some shopping - see you in a while, crocodiles!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

We used this laundry detergent exclusively for about 2 years. Anna had a sensitivity to it though as a newborn so we switched to All Free & Clear for everything. Now that she's a little bit older, I think I'm going to try switching back to this detergent for all of the "grownups" laundry and towels and stuff, and keep using the Free & Clear for her baby stuff. Laundry detergent is something that adds up ridiculously fast, and this recipe is a slam-dunk if you want to save some money. You might laugh, because this particular recipe is from the Duggar family (you know...300 kids and counting or whatever number they're up to?). I've tried a couple of different recipes but like this one the best.

Also, we use vinegar as a fabric softener and it works like a charm.

If you decide to try the liquid detergent out, make sure to note that it needs to sit overnight, and then whenever you use it, it needs to be shaken up. Save your current liquid laundry detergent  container and wash it out really well when it's used up - it will be perfect for this stuff. I wrote the amounts on my container with a sharpie so I didn't have to remember.

I was able to find all the stuff for it at Kroger and I believe I've also seen all of it at Publix. It's all on the top shelf in the laundry section. If I'm remembering correctly, it cost around $10- $15 to buy all the stuff, and the borax and washing soda lasts for several batches.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine
4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a clean 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Powdered Laundry Detergent - Top load machine
1   Fels-Naptha soap bar
1  Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
½  Cup Borax
-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads) 

**Note- you can also add some OxiClean if you want some brighteners, especially for your whites!**

Monday, March 21, 2011

Green Cleaning

As I mentioned in the Spring Challenge post, almost all of my cleaning is done with vinegar and baking soda, with a few extra supplies thrown in for various circumstances. The amount of toxins, potentially harmful chemicals, and artificial scents that the average house uses to keep clean and smelling "fresh" is mind-blowing, and it's something that I get more and more concerned about every year. Especially now that Anna's here. I also get concerned about all of those cleaners getting dumped into our water and our landfills to leach into the soil. So for our house, I feel better knowing that our skin and lungs aren't constantly coming into contact with most of the commercial cleaners. Plus, it's a LOT less expensive!!

There are many resources online for "recipes" for green cleaning, if you care to try them out. For some of the more specialized cleaning, like wood furniture or leather furniture, please make sure to test an inconspicuous spot first. There are usually several different recipes for any given project and one might work better for your furniture.

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm
http://greenlivingideas.com/2008/04/27/natural-cleaning-recipes/
http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/green-cleaning-spring-cleaning-460303

If making your own isn't something you're interested in, there are some great commercial (but non-toxic) cleaners that you can generally find at Target and some grocery stores, or definitely online.

http://www.seventhgeneration.com/
http://www.mrsmeyers.com/

I use cleaning cloths (mostly cut up rags from Steve's old undershirts- hot, right? ha) that I can wash and reuse, and I have also recently invested in a Eureka Enviro Steamer. Our house is mostly hardwood floors and I can tell you that now that Anna's here, I didn't have time for the regular vinegar scrubbing! The steam mop is fantastic and it cleans with extremely hot steam - no chemicals. That was a huge plus for me, especially now that Anna is starting to want to be on the floor more. Plus Captain K appreciates it too, I'm sure!

Hope this helps!

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Belly Babbles Spring Challenge- Week One

Welcome to the first week of the Belly Babbles Spring Challenge!

The Spring Challenge will go through 4 weeks:

Week 1 - Prepping and Planning
Week 2 - Upstairs
Week 3 - Downstairs
Week 4 - Other Areas

I know not everyone's house is the same, so you might need to adapt and go on your own for a while if you don't have an upstairs and downstairs. Don't waste the week though- I'm sure you can find things to keep you busy and still play along!

It's the first Monday of the Belly Babbles Spring Challenge, and I'm dedicating this week to Prepping and Planning. I know that nothing is more frustrating than getting started on a project and realizing halfway in that you don't have everything you need. And Spring Cleaning is the same way!

This week, here's what we're gonna do:

1) Take inventory of your cleaning and laundry supplies, and replenish as needed.
            Here at the Belly Babbles home, 99% of our cleaning supplies are vinegar, baking soda, water, and other very basic items. I'm planning to work on a separate "cheat sheet" post listing out all the cleaning recipes if you wanted to use the same cleaning supplies we do. It's infinitely less expensive and for those of you with little ones or pets at home, it gives good peace of mind that you're not putting potentially harmful chemicals down where little hands or feet (or tongues!) rove. If you want to use commercial cleaners though, go right ahead- just make sure you're fully stocked and ready to go!

2) Come up with a weekly cleaning schedule that is comprehensive and most importantly, something that works for your schedule and that you can stick to! 
            I've discovered that a weekly cleaning schedule is the most important thing I can do to help keep housework on track, especially as Anna and I get more active and out of the house. If you have to miss a day, no biggie, but this way you know exactly what you need to do to catch up! My agenda includes a daily, weekly, and seasonal schedules - but you come up with what works for you.

3) Get your closets ready- start storing away your winter clothes and pulling out your Spring and Summer wardrobes. Do laundry, send to the dry cleaners, and mend any loose buttons or hems as needed.

4) Start clearing out the clutter.
      This is the perfect time to pull clothes that you never wear, items that you never use, knickknacks that do nothing but collect dust, and all the random stuff that tends to accumulate in storage areas. Get it boxed up and take it to Goodwill. And CPA Hubby reminds you to get a receipt for your 2011 tax deductions!! Be ruthless- you and your house will feel SO much better with a good decluttering. If you haven't used something in the last year, I can promise you're not going to miss it. Box it up!!

5) Get your pantry plan in order. 
       Clean out your recipe collection of heavy winter soups and meats, and gather a month or two's worth of Spring and Summer recipes. Take a few minutes to figure out what's in season (yay, farmer's markets!), and either pull from old family favorite meals or find some new ones online. Grocery shopping and meal planning is so much easier when you already know what you want to try- and we always manage to eat a lot healthier and for less money when we don't try to throw something together at the last minute.

6) Last but not least- Special Project
         As you're working around the house, try to come up with a special area that could run more smoothly or use a little attention. Maybe you've realized you really need a dedicated cleaning supplies closet. Maybe the front coat closet is a shambles now that your winter coats are stored away, and some inexpensive storage baskets or wall brackets would make a big difference. Maybe your laundry room shelves could use some reorganizing. Or maybe your spice drawer is badly in need of some TLC. Or maybe that's my to-do list, haha. Seriously- I think even the best-run homes have these little problem areas- find something to add in this week and take care of it! And remember, I would love to showcase your Special Projects. Email pics when you get done and tell me all about it!

We have until next Monday, March 28th to get this stuff knocked out. It won't take long once we put our minds to it - Happy Spring Cleaning!

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Belly Babbles Spring Challenge!


Spring has officially sprung, and I don't know about you, but my house desperately needs a good Spring cleaning after that winter! I've been getting everything prepped to do a deep cleaning, but then I thought maybe we could make it fun- any of the Belly Babbles readers up for a Spring Challenge?

The Belly Babbles Spring Challenge will get our houses open, aired, and scrubbed out well for us to relax and enjoy this beautiful weather! 

Being realistic, I'd like to spread the Challenge over 4 weeks. One week to prep, one week to focus on the upstairs, one week to focus on the downstairs, and then the last week for miscellaneous areas. Every Monday there will be a weekly check-in post here on the blog.

I know there are overachievers scoffing at this plan, saying they can get their whole house done in two days, but whateva! This is my Challenge, I can do what I want! Plus, I know with babies, jobs, LIVES...I think spreading each set of projects over the course of a week will equal less stress and enable everyone to get it done in time.

The other component that I am really excited about are the Special Projects. The more and more I work around my home, the more areas I see that could really use some brain power and elbow grease. I would LOVE to come up with a Special Project for each week of the Challenge, and incorporate that into the week's plan. Any particular spots in your home that could use some organization, a little attention, or could run a little more smoothly? I know I've got plenty!! Big or small, every little bit makes a difference and I think it's fun to share what ideas we've come up with!

And as riveting as I know my housekeeping is to everyone, what I really want is to hear from all the readers (yes, YOU!). I would absolutely love to hear what your Special Projects are for the week, and when they are finished, to get pictures! Nothing would make me happier than to be able to dedicate a section of the Challenge post for the week to showcasing your projects and accomplishments. One thing I love about my readers is that we're all in different places right now- some are expert housekeepers, some just bought their first home, and several are due any day with their babies (I want to see some nursery projects, girls!!). I would love to see what everyone comes up with and what you want to work on!

Once you finish your Special Projects for the week, email Sarah - bellybabbles (at) gmail (dot) com and tell me all about it! Seriously, don't be shy!! Bonus points for before and after pictures  :-)

Of course, if nobody wants to do the Challenge with me, I will happily plod along on my own. But I think it will be a lot more fun to all pitch in together- plus I want to see what kind of projects you guys can come up with!!

If any fellow bloggers would like to follow along with the Belly Babbles Spring Challenge, I came up with a nifty little badge that you can put in your blog (or any posts that you care to include). Grab the code and let's go!

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Sweet Snuggles

Today was a long and crazy day - tons o' fun, but we had a LOT to do today. This evening I was rushing to get out the door with an armful of food for a new mommy, and I had begged Steve to entertain the hollering baby for just a few minutes while I finished the casserole. The hot trays were in my arms and the car keys in hand when I happened to look out the porch door. And my heart melted. And everything got put back on the counter for a few very sweet moments.

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