So much information flood your mind when preparing to bring your new baby home. All the books you read, the advice you've been given and all the videos you watch simply cannot touch on everything you must know.
If you've already been thru this, you may agree... but if you are just starting out-
take a deep breath and have the comfort in knowing, we all Learn as We go.
It's hard to wrap my mind around where Douglas and I were mentally at this time last year. We brought Alli Mae home December of 2015 and our lives have been in hyperdrive ever since.
Our minds were bombarded with anxiety about knowing everything we needed before she came home... but as I look back, that is simply and quite humorously impossible.
Douglas is in medical school and he loves to read. We had that avenue covered. There are so many books about the first few months and books about parenting in general. Later on, I will list a couple that I feel really helped us.
If books were not enough, it seems like everybody has something to say about how "their babies were". They list off so many situations that they went thru and what they learned from. Each and every person that opens up to you about their experience are coming from a place of love. They want you to succeed. It may seem like a brain overload right now, but listen to each and every person. They all have an opinion about the way they raised their children. With that said, know that every baby is different. All the information you have been cramming for and all the stories and advice you have been told lead you up to this moment in bringing your baby home. All of the information you have learned in the past few months needs to have a filter.
Use your own personal judgement about when you actually use all of this knowledge.
I personally had a chain of command when it came to our decision making process. I first would talk with Douglas, my husband, and we would usually come up with an answer for our next step. Our pediatrician would be the next person we consulted with. After the doctor then we would talk to our parents. Sometimes the parents would or wouldn't agree with the pediatrician, but at the end of the day you are making the best choice you possibly can for your precious little one.
The books we read and stories we were told about did not touch on what we were about to learn.
Our daughter, Alli Mae was born premature at 30 weeks. She was so delicate and tiny and was born at 3.5 lbs. Although itty bitty, this baby girl could EAT. We quickly found out that we needed to really figure out our food intake schedule. She was on a 2 hour feeding routine.
We started out with the traditional glass bottles. Our formula was Similac NEOSURE for premature babies. We quickly found out that our sweet baby had digestion issues.
It was so hard and sad to see her in pain. It was almost unbearable to know our baby was hurting. We really needed to get to the bottom of what was causing her belly to hurt.
We quickly switched the bottles that we were using as we felt like she was taking in too much air. They were causing a lot of gas. So we chose to switch to Playtex "Vent Aire" bottles.
Tho, she did not have colic, she did have gas and a hard time digesting the high calorie formula that we had to give her. These bottles really helped. The nipples come in, slow, medium and fast flow. You are able to change them out as your baby grows.
We had to keep feeding her the NEOSURE formula because of her prematurity. So, although we had fixed the bottle problem, her tiny tummy was still having a hard time digesting this powerful formula.
A couple of remedies that we found helpful while we were using NEOSURE formula was different gas medicines.
If you just walk down the aisle in your pharmacy you may become overwhelmed at all of the choices.
We wanted something all natural and that really worked.
"Gripe water" really helped most days. It is also pretty cheap.
Gripe Water didn't help all the time, and in those situations we had to use gas drops.
We found that "Pediacare" gas relief drops knocked the pain out most of the time.
We didn't want to use these drops often because they are not all natural.
They are powerful and on days and nights where she was in a lot of pain, and Gripe water didn't help, these drops usually did and were effective almost immediately.
We were able to get a prescription from our pediatrician that was able to help with the rest of our time on this powerful formula. Baby "Zantac" is given twice daily before the bottles. It takes a few days for it to start working but we stayed on this medicine for about 3 months until her belly was strong enough to digest without it.
We found that pouring the medicine into the nipple of a bottle rather than putting the medicine dropper in her mouth served more effective.
Just remember that every baby is different. You will find this out if you have not already. Just know that parents, friends, and neighbors all have stories that they feel may help you. They are all coming from a place of love and want you to be the best parents you can be, and so do I. At the end of the day, use your own judgement that you feel is best for your baby.
As far as books, there really are so many different ones out there to help you learn.
A couple of our favorites are:
The Wonder Weeks
And What to expect in the first year.
I would love to know some of your tips that you used with your baby or maybe still do. Comment below and tell me!
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photo credit: www. BSAphotography.com
and on instagram @ BSAphotography
Some of my fondest memories growing up were the smells coming from my grandmother's kitchen. We were always so excited after Halloween because we knew that she was going to be baking in her kitchen from Thanksgiving until New Years. I have been replicating some of those very recipes for years now because just one whiff transports me back in time in just a matter of seconds.
I remember as a little boy the happiness I felt for the first pie or cookie she took out of the oven. The pure anticipation was almost too much to handle!
All of those tradtions I think are so important to pass down to my children. I want to see their excitement when they come home from school and smell pralines as they walk up the drive way. I want to hear their joy when I ask them to help me roll out the cookie dough to make Christmas stars. To me, Traditions are an integral part of growing up and I feel it is my responsibility to keep the magic alive!
I thought it being almost Thanksgiving, I would share three of my most precious dessert recipes that are a huge hit with my loved ones. I sincerely hope you enjoy them as they are a piece of my family as a gift to your family. ❤ it being almost Thanksgiving, I you enjoy them as
Southern Pecan Pralines-
Pralines are a staple in the south. The way they crumble and melt in your mouth ensures them to be a unique addition to any dessert spread.
There are many different variations and over the years I have perfected my very own.
Pralines can also be pretty tricky. There is a certain technique to ensure these treats are perfect. Not allowing the mixture to cool long enough makes them sticky and not the consistency that you are looking for..
Making sure you have all the necessary utensils are very important.
A few of them are:
My wooden spoon I have had for years and it is key to scraping the bottoms of pots so you do not damage the surfaces. When using your wooden spoon make sure you designate either sweet or savory dishes for its lifespan because certain foods seep into the wood.
2 quart sauce pan-
It is important that it is non stick, light weight and
easy to handle.
When making anything like pralines, fudge, caramel, etc. a candy thermometer is critical. It gives you a fail proof reading, letting you know when exactly your treats are ready for the next step.
A silpat is a rubber mat that is used instead of parchment or wax paper. They are reusable and much more efficient and are much cheaper over time than the others.
My silpat has come in handy for years!
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
(helps prevent crystallization of mixture)
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (high quality)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 - 2 cups of chopped pecans
(depending on how much you like them)
Butter the sides of sauce pan.
Place sugars, salt, corn syrup, sour cream and
butter into pan.
Over medium heat stir consistently with wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil.
Add your candy thermometer to the side of your pan and continue to cook, until your reach exactly 240 degrees, stirring occasionally.
Cooling the mixture:
You can either do "cold water test" which is where you take some of the mixture onto a spoon and dip it into cold water, it should flatten down when you press it.
Or you can let the mixture cool for about 5-6 minutes.
Once cooled add vanilla and nuts.
Beat for 2 minutes with your wooden spoon until
mixture loses its glossy shine.
When the mixture is no longer shiny -VERY QUICKLY- drop spoonfuls down on your silpat. This is a very fast process and the quicker you get the mixture out of the pot and onto your mat, the better your pralines will look.
It takes just a few minutes for them to cool.
The smell of your kitchen right now isnthe stuff traditions are made from!
Don't worry If your pralines did not come out pretty.
Its ok! It takes many times to perfect your technique.
Practice makes perfect!
If they came out beautiful, congratulations!
Either way, Im sure they will disappear in a matter or hours!
Yields: around 18
Meyer Lemon Star Cookies
I have had Meyer lemon trees for years. A Meyer lemon is a hybrid of an orange and a lemon. They are sour with just a hint of sweet and they add just the right amount of tartness to a variety of dishes whether savory or sweet.
I have found that with my cookies, the lemon icing really serves the punch I am looking for.
It is not at all mandatory to have Meyer lemons for this recipe. You actually could omit lemons all together if you aren't a lemon fan. The icing is the only component that has lemon juice.
The cookie itself holds up beautifully for up to a week. They are soft and make the best holiday cookies.
Getting started, make sure you have your necessary utinsils:
-mixer (either Kitchen Aid or hand mixer)
-large mixing bowl
-2 cookie sheets
1 1/2 cups butter softened
2 cups of white sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (good quality)
5 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 Meyer lemon
1 box of confectioners sugar
Yellow food coloring
In a large bowl or kitchen aid cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Stir in baking powder and salt, and
add cup by cup of flour.
Once all is mixed together and dough forms, wrap in plastic wrap and let sit over night in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius)
Place silpats on cookie sheets.
Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut into stars or desired shapes and place on silpat spaced about 1 inch appart.
Bake about 9-11 minutes.
You do NOT want crispy cookies.
Light and fluffy cookies are ideal.
Let cool for about 3 hours.
Pour confectioners sugar in a bowl
juice half a lemon.
You want a thick icing, the consistency like you would see on top of cinnamon roll.
If you need more liquid, juice other half of lemon frugally
If you are not using lemon juice, replace with 2 % milk.
Add 3 drops yellow food coloring.
mix together very well until you have a brilliant yellow color.
Spread icing generously and let sit for about 20 minutes.
Love is written in the stars, and so are my star cookies! Enjoy! ✨⭐️💫
Yields: about 32
Chocolate Meringue Pie
Of all the recipes and delicious treats I bake in the kitchen this is the holy grail. My mamaw used to bake this for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but she would often surprise us throughout the year on our birthdays.
The rich and silky, smooth texture that marries with the buttery crust along with the light and airy meringue make this my number one favorite dessert of all time.
Getting started make sure you have all your necessary
-2 quart sauce pan
-Kitchen Aid mixer or hand mixer
-sieve (used for straining chocolate)
-small bowl (for egg whites)
Ingredients: (pie filling)
4 egg yolks
2 cups of white sugar
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 (12oz) can of evaperated milk
1 nine inch pie shell- store bought is fine
1/4 cup butter
Quarter teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (good quality)
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 tablespoon of sugar
In a sauce pan add your cocoa, flour, salt, evaporated milk, vanilla, and butter. Mix together over low-medium heat. Add your egg yolks individually and keep stiring with your wooden spoon until your butter has completely melted. Make sure your flame is not too hot, as the yolks will cooked and your custard will be ruined.
Once butter is melted turn flame off. Place pie shell onto cookie sheet. Pour mixture through sieve into your pie shell leaving all impurities behind, giving you a beautiful silk custard.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.
After baking cycle is complete, test your pie with a slight shake. You want your finished product to jiggle and not ripple. You can also touch the outer edge of your pie with your finger and if it is soft and your finger comes away clean, then your custard is completely baked.
Set aside and begin meringue mixture.
In your mixing bowl add your egg whites, cream of tarter, and sugar- whip on high speed.
Beat mixture until very stiff peaks.
Beat until you get an iridescent like mixture.
Once meringue is completed pour over custard using your rubber spatula. Using upward motion as you dollop gives you the pointed effect that meringue pies are known for.
Place pie back in oven for another 7-10
minutes giving the light brown tint to the meringue.
Once completed, Let your pie cool for at least 2-3 hours.
In this hectic time for our country, some of the most productive things we can do is to find our passions. Teaching our children new things and hearing their laughter as we watch them will not only help you pass the time in an unsettling world but will build and strengthen your own relationships and maybe even start new traditions.
I hope you are able to create new traditions with the ones you care most about.
What are your favorite traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas? I would love hear them! Comment below and let me know.
I hope y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Try to listen to all of the laughter a little closer this year.
You can follow my family's journey on
Instagram @ nolapapa
I will admit, it is an unsettling time right now for a lot of people in America. We have come a very long way in the past eight years. The progress we have made should not be overshadowed by anger and fear but as a gay man, with a husband and daughter it is impossible for me to turn a blind eye to this. It is a scary thing to know that some people in our country do not want us to be classified as a "family" along with theirs. It is also frightening to know that our future growth could be hindered because of some people that refuse to even try to understand.
I pray that my precious family and our path for our next baby will not be obstructed because of our new President, his Vice President or the supreme court justices that he will appoint.
I also pray that we can all come together as people of the free world and embrace everyone in this country for who they are, as diverse as it is. It is so important to be compassionate and to not lose sight that everyone wants to be loved. We need to practice kindness in the face of the unusual without disrespect because of our fear of the unknown.
Some of the most beautiful things about our country is how diverse everyone is.
Although different, everyone longs to be respected.
My family and I live in a suburb of New Orleans where people often fly American flags on the back of their pick-up-trucks. It isn't uncommon to also see Trump flags as well. The amount of support that went in Trump's favor around here makes me just wonder, "What if he is a good president?"
No good will come from hurting or disrespecting another because of this outcome.
Someone dear to me taught me the saying,
"It is what it is". So I will search my heart and accept what has happened because everything happens for a reason. The good, the bad, and the ugly I know helps me grow as a husband, father and friend. "Lead by example" is also another term I have learned to live by as well. If we want good to happen, then we must look deep inside ourselves and reach for that goodness even in the darkest of times and once we have found it then we share that goodness as often we can. Some people react in anger because that is all they know... but if we react in compassion in the face of rage, the love we show could maybe teach the angry to be empathetic, the ill timpered to be patient and help the immature to grow. Sometimes, this will not work and the mean will still rear its ugly head and when that happens, walk away. The best thing you can do is just turn around, and in your heart know that you tried. The worst thing you can do is to give up. Tomorrow is a new day.
Remember that one single smile can travel thousands of miles. When words do not help, a smile will.
I feel in my heart that Our LGBTQ family will be just fine. We have allies now helping to make sure we will be.
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So many thoughts flashed through our minds when we were matched with our birth mother. Where do we start? Bottles, diapers, onesies? It can all be overwhelming, so we focused on one thing at a time. Planning is your friend. The more you plan, the better organized you will be for when the big day comes!
First focus: the nursery, which is the peaceful world we create for our precious little ones. My mother-in-law showed me the best way to turn our guest room into a tranquil wonderland for our baby and I want to share her guidance with new prospective dads.
Each nursery can have its own personality, with its own look. Here are the most important things we needed: a crib, rocking chair, recliner, diaper changing station, book shelf and wardrobe.
The fundamental items I’ve listed above makes up our daughter Alli Mae’s nursery. We have found that each piece really plays an important role in our day-to-day life; each item has its own practical purpose. Practicality is the key word here. A piece of furniture may seem great for the space but if it isn’t practical then you may want to rethink its placement.
For example, I really wanted to convert an old dresser that was very special to me into a diaper changing station. We found that when opening the drawers to the dresser, they would sometimes get stuck. When you have your baby on the top of the dresser on a diaper changing station and the diaper drawer becomes stuck you have a real problem. You want easy gliding drawers so you can keep one hand on the baby while the other is easily able tograb the diaper, onesie or whatever you may need.
After determining our furniture, we plugged them into a designing program that configured the space we had to work with. This really helped things move along more swiftly and correctly. The furniture may not fit as well in the room as it does in your head and the program really helped solve any problems before they occur.
Following the placement, we then picked out our color scheme. For Alli Mae’s room I wanted a pastel lavender on the walls and white trim with white furniture. When we added this to the program I was able to see that we could really set off the peaceful effect I was going for if we painted the ceiling a lighter tone than the walls. I never would have thought about this if we didn’t have this program.
Purple pastel on the walls and ceiling
After we figured out what furniture to use, where to place it all, and the colors we needed, it was time for the next step: lighting.
We have three lights in her nursery: a main light fixture on the ceiling and two wall fixtures. From the beginning I knew I wanted a chandelier on the ceiling. We added a ceiling medallion to the chandelier, which really enhanced the overall effect. Keeping to the theme of practicality, we planned on using the wall sconces to help when reading bedtime stories.
Natural lighting is so important for babies. They adapt to falling asleep during the day during nap-time when there is natural sunlight coming through the windows. I wanted to work with the light rather than block it, and found that “Battenburg lace” did the job perfectly. It allowed sunlight to shine in but blocked it just enough with the blinds.
After I found the perfect curtains, I could then spend time on added features to make the room “pop.” One of my favourites: the forrest decals on the wall. It really was exciting to realize I did not have to paint pictures on the wall to give the effect I was looking for.
We found a website that specializes in removable sticker decals. They make different sceneries that really set off whatever theme or mood you want to create. We went with a winter forest look with birds, squirrels and deer. When the decals ship out, they are rolled up in tubes and come in large sheets. Before you begin to apply them on the walls, you have to cut each object out. This is time consuming but the finished product is well worth it!
After the decals were placed, it was time to add the final decorative touches like the mirror above Alli Mae’s bed and the white shag rug on the floor. Fully decorated, we let the room air out for a couple of nights before finally using it.
To help get started, I Googled “lavender baby nursery” and found my inspiration. We worked tirelessly for about a week to get it completed. Once it all was done, I actually liked our nursery better than the inspiration I had found.
I was so grateful for Everyone's help! It took a lot of planning and organizing but at the end of a long week, the hard work payed off, and now our sweet angel has her very own tranquil wonderland…that is, until she gets old enough that she wants to change it!
Listed below are the sights and places we used to get most of the contents and furniture for her nursery:
Shag rug- Wayfair.com
Battenburg lace curtains- Macys.com
Wall decals- innovativestencils.com
Wall paint- Home Depot
Light medallion- Home Depot
Wall sconces- Wayfair.com
Wall mirror- Target
I really hope you are able to create a beautiful and peaceful environment for your new precious bundle. Just remember to plan, organize and pace yourself. Most importantly, HAVE FUN! While you may not realize it now, you are creating not only a nursery but awesome memories you will have forever!You can follow our journey on Instagram @nolapapa