Friday, June 29, 2012

oh, did I forget to mention something??

If you saw our announcement yesterday, you were probably wondering, what are we having??

Well, it's a...
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Elijah Patrick Bridges

He's due mid-November and I can't wait to meet this little addition to our family.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

yay for kids!!: an announcement

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We've been holding it in for what seems like forever!! Baby Bridges #2 will be joining us in November. We had our 20 week ultrasound today and everything looks great. You have no idea how excited we are to have another little one on the way!! I can't wait for Isaac to be a big brother.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

girl behind the blog: a little more

Today I'm linking up with Ashley and Nicole for another round of Girl Behind the Blog. I so enjoy making these vlogs, sharing them and getting to see all the other vlogs posted! It's really fun to actually hear and see women who I've only seen in photos and read their words on a computer screen. Can't wait to learn a little more about you all. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!!

ps- I even put lip gloss on for you. That never happens. Don't you feel special?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the difference some months make

We love the Fort Worth Zoo. It's really shaded, it's the right price point, it's small enough to just spend the morning and the animals are always out! We've been 3 times since we moved here. On Monday we decided at the last minute we should take Isaac one last time before we move because he would love to see all the animals. And he did. I took a few pictures in the same spots as I had taken them in the past and thought it would be fun to compare.

Watching the giraffes:
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With the rhinos:
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[3 months]

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[17 months]

Chillin' in his stroller:
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[3 months]

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[11 months]

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[17 months]

I know I've said it a hundred times, but I just can't get over how much he changes in so little time!! But I have to say, this little guy just gets more and more handsome by the day. Of course I'm biased, but that doesn't make it any less true ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

a speed date with me #2

you can see my first speed date here

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I was in Girl Scouts for 13 years (yep. from kindergarten all the way through my senior year of high school. and it was awesome)

I have moved a total of 10 times in my life

As a kid I played soccer and softball and I was terrible at both

The last book I read [and finished] was Blue Like Jazz

I have a younger brother, an older half brother and an older half sister

My spiritual gifts are leadership and teaching

I love theology

For my 12th birthday, I had a scrapbooking party

My husband and I read a book together every night in bed [well, I read until he falls asleep]

I enjoy watching golf on television and my husband is embarassed by how many golfers I can name

In 5th grade, I was the Student Council President

I've never seen any Lord of the Rings movies

My favorite movie of all time is Wayne's World

My favorite book is 1984

Isaac, my son, is almost 17 months old and refuses to say anything other than "mow mow", "elldo" and "daht!" [translation: lawnmower, yellow, that!]

I was canoe Red Cross certified in Jr High

Our wedding reception was in a trailer park club house [what can I say, I'm a sucker for free!]

I was a red-head for several years but it just got too expensive to maintain

I've worked the swing shift, graveyard, and the 4am shift [all regularly] and hated them all

I grew up in Las Vegas and no, I was never a stripper, a cocktail waitress, or a Black Jack dealer [though I've known several people who have been all or some of those]

Blue Bell has ruined all other ice cream for me

linking up with Finding Beauty in the Ordinary

Friday, June 15, 2012

Isaac's baby album

I decided early on that Isaac's photo album would not be the traditional scrapbook. I knew I wouldn't have time to be crafty and creative with it. While browsing around different blogs one day, I discovered Project Life albums. How much easier could it get?!

I ordered one right away and started putting it together. While I haven't been all that good about keeping it up to date, I know I'm much further along with it now than I would have been with a scrapbook!

In January of this year, I began a Project Life album for 2012. I decided to incorporate Isaac's photos and milestones into that album. So, his album is just the first year: January 2011 to December 2011.

I wanted to share some of my favorite pages from the album. I really think it's the easiest way to keep up with documenting a baby's life and I highly recommend it!

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[page one: keepsakes from the hospital and first photos]

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[page two: brand new Isaac! and I added an 8.5x11 page protector to include the certificate of his birth from the hospital]

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[on the other side of the 8.5x11 page protector is a copy of my birth preference sheet.
page three: more brand new Isaac photos in the hospital and some thoughts I jotted down]

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[page four: more hospital photos. I also [printed out Isaac's birth story from my blog post and added it in]

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[page five: all about the beginning stages of breastfeeding. I journaled on a card my thoughts about learning and getting through the rough beginning. I'm so glad I had some photos of learning to nurse in the hospital]

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[page six and seven: random photos of Isaac the first few weeks. Each journal card is dated along with what day of life we were on. For example, "January 30: Day 6". I kept a journal next to my bed in the beginning and wrote down every single day my "favorite thing about you". I'm SO glad I did. I usually wrote it while he was nursing or had fallen asleep in my arms.]

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[no idea what page: a little sleepy photo shoot we did on Isaac's changing table. I used one of the photos for his birth announcement]

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[this is the chart I got from Isaac's doctor to track his growth. I'm a little behind on marking it, but I love that I can go back and see where he was falling each doctor visit in height and weight]

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[my favorite photos from a fun little photo shoot we did on a hot summer day in the backyard]

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[Isaac's 11 month photos and stats. I took a photo of him with a sticker each month. I saved all the stickers and make a page for each month with a list of what he was doing and other fun stats from the month]

I love this album. You can find the exact one here; color is "baby blue". Photo pocket pages I used, here. If you are looking for other ideas for using a Project Life album for a kid's album, you can find some other ideas here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

since we moved to texas i have...

I borrowed this fabulous idea from Elise Blaha. I adore her blog.

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missed San Diego like crazy

learned the ins and outs of motherhood (and yet I'm still learning)

successfully grown squash, okra, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, radishes and green onion

started juicing [homemade pineapple juice is SO much better than store-bought]

read only a handful of books

discovered Blue Bell ice cream

visited a plethora of churches in search for a good home

survived record-breaking Texas summer heat: 71 days of 100 degrees or higher

prayed

studied

wondered what is in store for us

learned to make baby food

built fires in our wood-burning fireplace

gotten bit by probably 2384971267 mosquitoes

made new friends and kept in touch with old ones

been to the Forth Worth Zoo twice, and loved it

found an incredible doctor for Isaac that I really don't want to leave

watched my baby grow from 6 weeks to 17 months old!

bought a DSLR

took a trip to the west coast

made 2 sets of curtains

watched Isaac learn to roll over, crawl, sit up, pull up, stand up, walk and talk

started a Project Life album

gotten really good at menu planning

eliminated cable and found rabbit ears in the neighbor's trash so we can get 4 channels

experienced some pretty awesome thunder storms

watched Isaac devour a cupcake on his 1st birthday

done the dishes

cooked dinner

changed a trillion diapers

cancelled netflix because their online selection really leaves something to be desired

finally made a headboard

kept my Nevada drivers license

discovered some amazing thrifting and yard sale-ing in this part of the country

became a Sam's Club member

sewed my first quilt

discovered my favorite show: revenge

purchased my very first washer and dryer!

gone on only a handful of dates

stayed in for dinner and a movie

learned my way around D/FW

got lost in D/FW

aged 454 days

given it all up to the Lord

I read Elise's post a while back and knew it was something I wanted to do eventually. When we made the decision to move away from Texas, I thought it would be fun to sit down and reflect over the year and 2 months we've spent here. I could probably add a thousand more things to this list because life changed so much for us in Texas. And while we weren't so happy to move here, while we aren't at all disappointed to leave, we did spend a good chunk of time in this place and have grown in the midst of it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

dear anonymous

Lately I've been getting quite a few anonymous comments. And I understand it. I write about some controversial topics; topics that spark debate and sometimes hit nerves. And I understand that there are differences of opinion. I respect that. I actually welcome that. It's healthy to have a respectful disagreement and discussion.

But what I cannot respect is rude or vulgar anonymous comments. I cannot respect someone if they can't help but say what is on their mind but do it while hidden behind the word "anonymous". Again, I understand it. "Anonymous" is safe, right? You can say anything and no one will ever know who said it.

But I believe there needs to be a level of accountability in everything we say and write.

I have strong opinions. And I post them, all the while, you knowing who I am. There's no hiding my identity on this blog. And I stand firm in what I believe.

All I ask, is that you do the same.

If you believe something strongly enough to post it online, to challenge someone else's viewpoint, to take the time to write it down, then please stand by it, openly.

From now on, I will not be accepting anonymous comments. Comment moderation has been turned on (at least for now). Any and all anonymous comments will be deleted, not published.

If you have something to say, and I welcome it all [except the rude, snide comments]; if you have something legitimate to say, a real argument, then please say it. But all I ask is that you use a name.

disclaimer: If you are commenting anonymously because you want to protect your identity and don't want others to know something about you that is personal, that is different. I have no problem those anonymous comments, I encourage them, apppreciate them and will publish them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

we're kinda crunchy: grinding your own hamburger meat

We're a little bit crunchy in our house. Not overly so, but we do grow some of our own vegetables, I breastfed for over a year, I cloth diapered, made Isaac's babyfood and make alot of our food too and we grind our own hamburger meat. I think, though, if we were going to go all-out-crunchy, we'd be vegan (which we're not completely opposed to). Although, we don't do any of this for enviromental reasons and we're extremely politically conservative. But that's for another discussion. So for now, we still eat meat and this is how we get our hamburger.

A while back I saw an episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, that disturbed me. But let's face it, a lot of his episodes are kind of disturbing, right? I mean, once you really know what is in your food and how it's really processed, it's scary!

Anyways, back to the episode. It was the one where he explained that up to 15% of a majority of ground hamburger meat is filler; what people call "pink slime" [please, please watch it]. I'm sure you've heard of it by now. It's been all over the news. And it's not just the hamburger you buy in the grocery store. It's the hamburger you eat at fastfood and other restaurants and in the meals served in schools. It's quite common and there is no requirement that the packaging be labeled to inform you if "pink slime" was used. Um, yuck!?

Once I learned about this practice, we decided to stop buying hamburger meat altogether and purchase our own hand-grinder. I looked into how to do it, what cuts of meat to buy, etc and found that it's really easy!

I think my favorite part about it is that I get to choose the cuts of meat to grind. I can buy it based on price (sometimes cheaper than the already ground meat). Sometimes I will buy a more expensive cut. Sometimes I'll combine 2 different types of cuts. Most commonly I'll by pre-cut stew meat, mostly because it's already cut up but also because it has a good ratio of meat to fat.

When you grind your own meat, you decide how fatty or how lean. You know what's in it because you made it. And more importantly, it tastes so much better!! I will never buy the already ground meat again now that we've started doing it this way.

In case you are wondering, here is my process (it's actually quite simple):

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[here I'm using pre-cut stew meat. if you buy, say, a cut of chuck, you'll have to first cut it into 1-2 inch pieces]

IMG_3306[then, you simply put a few pieces into the grinder at a time and turn the handle. it's really easy to crank]

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[and it just comes out looking just like hamburger meat!]

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[I divide the meat into equal parts (this batch was 3 bags of 1.25 lbs) and weigh them in gallon freezer bags]

IMG_3311 [they then get sealed and put in the freezer, ready to make tacos, hamburgers, soup or whatever is on the menu!]

you can find the hand-crank meat grinder that we use here. [nice and cheap!]
There is also an attachment for the KitchenAid Mixer you can use to grind meat.

Monday, June 11, 2012

miscellaneous thoughts on a monday: moving

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[our tiny little "to move" pile, that keeps growing]

As I posted on twitter and facebook this weekend, it's been finalized: we're moving to Las Vegas at the end of this month.

"But I thought you said your husband just got into TCU??" I know. Long story and I am planning to share it with you in the coming weeks.

But what is most important to know is that our decision to move this month finalizes 15 months of waiting. Waiting to see what exactly we were going to do and where we were going to go when things were so uncertain, for a whole year. So a firm decision in itself is a relief.

And for those of you who don't know our history, Ben and I are both from Las Vegas. We both grew up there as kids and our entire family still lives there. Family was probably the number one reason on our list of "why would we move back to Las Vegas?" Because believe me, if I made a list of "places I don't want to live", Texas would be #1 (sorry Texas gals) and Las Vegas would be #2. But I'm putting that aside, as we are doing what is best for our little family and seeking to follow God's guidance.

So now that you know what's up, I wanted to let you know that I've posted a few things on ebay to sell and will be posting more as the week progresses. We've also listed my husband's truck for sale. It's a 2006 Dodge Dakota 4 door pick up. If you know anyone in the DFW area who might be interested, please let me know. It has to be sold before we move. side note: I can't wait to be a one car family again!

We're having a yard sale in two weeks. I know, what are we thinking? Yard sale in June in Texas? Call me crazy (because I already have). We are planning to sell more than half of our house. I'm ready to just get rid of all of the stuff we've accumulated over the past 8 years. That includes most of our furniture, clothes, books and kitchen stuff. I seriously can't wait. It will be so freeing!

Over the weekend I booked a moving truck, we picked up some boxes, started packing the non-essentials and started organizing into 2 piles: sell and move. I have so many things on my to-do list this week. I kind of don't know where to start! But rest assured, I have my moving checklist, my change of address checklist, my cancel account checklist and a general to-do list. So while it may look like total chaos in this house right now, things are actually pretty organized and so far, going as planned.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

lazy lunches / 001

In our house, we do what I like to call lazy lunches. I started calling them that because they consist entirely of finger foods and I put them out on the coffee table for Isaac to graze. He naps right at noon so I make his lunch at about 11:30, set it out and let him eat for the entire half hour before he goes to sleep. I also wanted him to learn to eat off of a plate and out of a bowl.

Here are some of Isaac's favorites. Isaac is 16 months old.

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[toasted whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter. dried strawberries. cut up grapes]

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[fruit salad: strawberries, grapes, apples, oranges, bananas. wheat thins with cream cheese]

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[cut up string cheese. plain corn nuts (from the bulk bin at Sprouts). cut up mango and banana]

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[scrambled egg. raisins. broken up granola bar]

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[homemade whole wheat blueberry waffles. cut up fruit: strawberries and grapes]

Here's how I go about making all of his meals: I make sure there is always a "main course". In the morning, it's almost always a scrambled egg (he loves eggs). For lunch or dinner it will be something like pancakes/waffles with fruit, crackers with cream cheese, toast with jelly or peanut butter, a quesadilla, or a bean and guacamole tostada. He refuses to eat the usual: chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and I'm okay with that!

Then with it, I'll add fruit (he rarely eats veggies on their own. I have to hide them in other food) and some kind of dairy: usually cheese or yogurt.

What I like to see in every meal: a grain, fruit or veggie, dairy, and protien. Of course that doesn't always happen, but I think it's a good rule of thumb. As you can tell from the examples above, there are usually three "courses" in each of his meals.

Along with breakfast, lunch and dinner, Isaac also eats a morning snack at around 10:15 and he gets a "post-nap pretzel" as soon as he wakes up. Other than that, he'll drink milk in the morning, water all day long and usually a cup of orange or apple juice (if I'm feeling nice :) at some point.

Feeding a picky toddler can be very challenging! But I think the secret is to figure out what they really like, rotate those things often enough that they don't get bored and don't let them snack too much during the day. You want hungry babies at meal time so they eat all the good, healthy stuff!

What meals to you feed your toddlers?? I'm always looking for new ideas!!

For more pre-toddler and toddler meal ideas, check out the lazy lunches series here

Monday, June 4, 2012

then and now: how i used to be shy and now i'm not

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I used to be painfully shy. I don't know how I made friends at school. I clearly remember sitting on the bus or in class or in the lunchroom, watching other kids socializing and being deathy afraid to say a word to any of them. When I did make friends, it was because someone talked to me first.

Somehow I made friends though, thankfully, because we moved around quite a bit while I was growing up. In second grade, my family moved from Saugus [just north of Los Angeles] to Las Vegas. The house we moved into backed up to a coldesac that was full of kids. It seemed lucky that in the house just behind us was a girl the same age as me. And guess what, we ended up being in the same class at school. We became fast friends and she introduced me to lots of other kids. I'm still so thankful for her.

The summer between 8th and 9th grade, 1999, we moved from Las Vegas to San Diego. That meant I had to start my freshman year of high school at a brand new school in a brand new town. I knew nothing and no one. Looking back on it, I think it was pretty mean of my parents to do that to me [but I've since forgiven them]. I was scared the first day. I got a map as soon as I stepped onto campus and asked each teacher to point me in the right direction to my next class. As lunch time approached, my fear grew. No one wants to sit alone at lunch, but I knew no one. And I didn't want to eat my lunch in a bathroom stall [Mean Girls reference].

I had PE just before lunch. It just so happened that there were several kids in my class who dressed like I did: punk rock. Yeah, we were pretty awesome, heh, heh. One girl came up to me and said [I remember her words ver batum]: "you dress pretty cool. want to sit with us at lunch?" "Oh thank God!" I thought. From that point on, I had someone to sit with. Eventually [and thankfully, because they were very weird] I made other friends, but it took alot of time.

Fast forward to 2005: Ben and I got married the year before, but we were still long distance the entire time because he was in Bahrain. We moved to San Diego in January to report to his new duty station: Camp Pendleton [oh how I miss you so!]. We were in a new place, again, not knowing anyone. Ben, who at the time was exactly opposite of me, made best friends in an hour. He's very outgoing, not afraid to talk to anyone and can't seem to keep people away. They love him and flock to him. He had no problem making friends at work.

I on the other hand still struggled to meet knew people because I was afraid to speak up. Over the next year and a half I did make a few friends, and thanks to Ben and a friend from work, I met one of my best, best friends. I even lived with her family for a while during a deployment.

Fast forward again to 2007: Ben re-enlisted into the Marines after we had spent a year back in Las Vegas. Again, he was stationed at Camp Pendleton [I was not complaining about that!]. This time, I was determined to make things different. This time, I wanted to make good friends, have a community of women that I cared for and who cared for me. I wanted to be able to stay in San Diego while Ben was deployed and not feel alone or disconnected. This time, I learned to speak up.

I immediately got involved in a Growth Group at church that was made up of military wives. I was shy at first, but quickly got to know all of the women in my group. I started hanging out with them outside of church. I went to women's breakfasts every month, sat at tables with people I didn't know and talked to them. I started volunteering at the local Crisis Pregnancy Center and built relationships with the other women there. We also started getting together outside of the PRC.

I volunteered as a High School Small Group leader and met other leaders. We spent time together at meetings, weekly events and camps. I had the awesome responsibility and privilege of leading the same group of young women for 3 years. I became good friends with them as well. Eventually I stepped into a leadership role as a Military Wives Growth Group leader. I communicated with and prayed for every one of the ladies in my groups. I became really good friends with most of them. And it's incredible how God has used them in my life.

Over the course of 4 years, I met and became friends with many awesome, amazing women who I love and adore. Even though many of us live in different parts of the country now, I keep in contact with them all. We don't talk nearly as often as we'd like (most of us have kids and husbands and crazy schedules) but we do talk; even if it's just a quick text: how are things going with you guys? Can you pray for me about this? What was that recipe you mentioned last time?

But had I not forced myself to step outside of me and speak up, I would have never met them. I made the conscious effort to join a small group, to volunteer, to get in my car and head to a breakfast at church, to ask someone to meet for lunch, to make a simple phone call or send an email. Over time, it became second nature.

These days, I'm the lady who strikes up random conversations with the person behind me at the grocery store. Sometimes I get weird looks, but that's okay. I'm definitely not the person I was 10 years ago. And that's not because someone else changed me. It's because I decided to change myself.

Is there something about you that you'd like to see change? Then you have to make the effort to do so. No one else is going to do it for you. Of course, you'll probably have to pray for courage and for the Lord to strip you of your fear, but it can be done. In the end, I bet you won't be disappointed and you'll be richer for it. I know I am. And thankful too: Thank you 22-year-old-Jessi, for doing the hard work back then. I really do appreciate it!

staycation 037

linking up with finding beauty in the ordinary and Casey Leigh