Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It is a good thing I'm Mormon, otherwise this child would have driven me to drink.

My daughter is what a lot of people might call....crazy. She is absolutely driving me nuts lately (lately, like since she was born) and my patience has just about had it. But, instead of perusing the "Nannies for Hire" pages, or crying into a pillow (already did that once this morning) I will focus on her good points and mention of few of the cute Lydia moments from last week. (I am writing this on Monday. It has already been the longest week ever.)

Rainy days mean big breakfast days. We have a little mommy-daughter chat over soy sausage, egg beaters and fruit. Yum. Sometimes Lydia can be great company. Can you imagine waking up with hair like that?

We were playing chutes and ladders on the floor and Lydia's piece landed on a "naughty square". Instead of sending her piece down the chute, she decided both pieces needed a time out.

Now that it is spring, I am always getting special little flowers, picked by Lydia. Or at least the heads of flowers. Ignore the nail polish. I read that this season, coral was the color and that anyone can pull it off. Not true.

I asked Lydia to go get dressed and she came down like this. She was a bride of course.

Thanks to Shane for bringing me home a dinner made up of two king size chocolate bars and a 44 ounce soda, and thanks to Rachel for the fantastic "Swap Package". Had it not been for both of your efforts, I probably would have called my doctor for a Xanax prescription by now.


The winner of the Rock City/Ruby Falls giveaway is Beth. Congrats! Don't forget to enter the Dollywood Giveaway. Ends Thursday at midnight.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Advice for the Newlyweds...and a little giveaway.

Well, my sister Molly and husband Wayne are back from their honeymoon and are officially ensconced in "real life". Well, as much as newlyweds can be. For Shane and I, the honeymoon seemed to last 5 years.....then we had a baby. :)

I started thinking, what advice would I give to her that might make that transition into married life a bit easier. I'm definitely not an expert, but I've been married 8 years next month, and Shane and I have been together almost a decade now. I've learned a few things.....
  1. Show gratitude. This seems so obvious, but it is easy to forget how important it is. Say thank you several times a day. Men need to be appreciated for their efforts just as much as women do. Maybe even more.
  2. When you discover what his "buttons" are, don't push them. The longer you are married, the more amio you have to hurt the other person. You learn what things put them over the edge. Once you learn those things, make a goal not to ever use them. Make sure to fight fair. Never say anything out of spite. No name calling. Ever.

  3. Have sex. Often. As a newlywed, this isn't an issue. However, it gets to be more of one. I highly recommend reading "Mars and Venus in the Bedroom". This book is fantastic in explaining what men really want and what women really want. (i.e. Have your husband read it too.)

  4. Learn how your spouse wants love expressed, and then express love in that way. The worst thing I think I have ever heard a man say was, "My wife wants me to take her on dates and buy her little gifts, but I figure, I show her enough love by making all the money and keeping her car in working condition." I literally had to hold myself back from socking this guy in the gut. That isn't the way love works. What if the only way I felt comfortable showing love was by writing my husband sweet notes. That's great, but that isn't what he wants. He wants support and physical affection. If I don't give him these things, he isn't going to feel loved. Shane can bring home the bacon, but if he don't wrap me up in his arms when he gets home, no amount of money is going to make me feel loved. Everyone should read the book The Five Love Languages. It helps you discover how your spouse needs love expressed. (i.e. Have your husband read it too.)

  5. DATE NIGHT. I will quote from my post Motherhood Game Plan, "I have a belief I hold very close to: I married my husband because I wanted to spend eternity with him. I did not marry him to provide seed so that I could reproduce; that was a secondary thought. I got married so that I could be with this man. I see date nights as totally and absolutely critical to a working marriage. If a marriage is all about the small daily workings of raising children and maintaining a household, it isn’t exactly going to be the passionate relationship we envisioned on our wedding day." I cannot emphasis this enough. Even before kids, date nights are so important. You have to get away from work and school and kids and cleaning and just be together. When we don't have a babysitter we have bed picnics. We get takeout, lay a blanket over our bed, light candles all around our room and sit, eat and talk for hours. It is a simple way to reconnect as a couple, even if we can't get out of the house.

Husband's note : I read Shane my top 5 pieces of advice and asked if he wanted to add anything. He said - don't criticize. Amen to that. Criticism poisons a marriage. There are so many better ways to get your point across.

I could go on, but I thought it would be fun to get other opinions on the subject. Let me know what advice you would give to the newlyweds. Write your comment on this post. Even if you aren't married, I'm sure you have some advice. Next week I will award one winner a pair of the bridesmaids earrings that I designed for Molly's wedding. Molly will choose the winner based on her favorite comment. Good luck!

More wedding pics

You can see more pics of the wedding here on my sister's blog. These are a few of my favorite.

The St. George Temple. This place was absolutely gorgeous.

Our Family. Well, most of us.

My brother Zac and his beautiful girlfriend Rachelle.

So cute! Wayne looked so dashing in his brown tux.

Just what every bride wants. For half of her bridesmaids to be pregnant. :) Thanks for letting us pick out our own bridesmaids outfits Molly.


The winner of the Southern Belle Giveaway is Steph. Congrats! If you are local, don't forget to enter the Rock City/Ruby Falls Giveaway and the Dollywood Giveaway!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


While shopping with my mom and sister this Christmas, I had a crazy pregnancy craving for Chinese take-out. My sister Emily, also pregnant at the time, was helping me find the very nearest Chinese restaurant. She understood that pregnancy cravings are not to be trifled with. My mom, on the other hand, rolled her eyes. "Natalie, I don't think there are really pregnancy cravings. I get cravings and I'm not pregnant."
Hum. Well first of all, I hope you're not pregnant mom, since you are turning 60 this year. Second, a person who says they don't believe how crazy pregnancy cravings are, has either never had one, or totally forgotten them. That Chinese food may have been the best thing I have ever tasted.
Today I was craving this dish (as seen on my sidebar) but I didn't have all the ingredients. Instead I tried a new Banana bread recipe and I hear by declare it to be the best one ever. As you can see in my photo, I used my bundt turns out much better. For once it actually came out in one piece! Add a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg for an extra yummy kick. I would write more, but I have to go eat some Sugar Snap peas. Like right now.
Any weird pregnancy cravings out there?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dollywood Vacation/Giveaway

I have been wanting to take a little family vacation for a while now. Since Lydia was born, we have never gone anywhere as a family unless it has been to see extended family. With our baby almost here, we looked at our options and asked around. Everyone said the same thing. "Just a weekend trip? Go to Dollywood!" Man, was this good advice!

Dollywood is this fantastic Southern theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dolly as in Dolly Parton. Yes, that is right. This place had everything. Glass blowers, huge BBQ pits, live performances, a real working steam engine and (of course) incredible rides (not that I went. Too pregnant!)

We spent the day walking around the park, listening to country music and watching our little girl have the time of her life. (I'm not a country music fan, but living in Tennessee, I have found it has its place. ) Midway through the day we were already planning our trip back. Lucky for us, you can make a one day pass into a season package for less than a second day's ticket!

Want to go? Dollywood is offering two free adult tickets to one lucky Natalie's Sentiments reader!
To enter, just comment on this post about what you think sounds fun about Dollywood. If you have already been, mention your favorite part. Check out the website if you need some ideas. For a second entry, mention in a separate comment that you are a Natalie's Sentiments reader/subscriber/follower. You must be able to take advantage of the tickets within 6 months. So if you live in Oregon and aren't planning a visit to Tennessee, don't enter :) I will announce the randomly selected winner on May 1st. Good luck!

More Dollywood Photos.....

The first thing we had to do was ride on the Dollywood express, a 110-ton coal-fired steam engine.

Watching the scenery from the train.

The Tea Cups. I really wanted to go :(

I got Funnel Cake to make myself feel better.

And I even shared a little.

Wondering how I could possibly go to Dollywood when I am supposed to be spending my time resting? I spent the day causally being pushed along in my own wheelchair. (Thanks for the tip Dad!) It was a fantastically relaxing day. Though Shane got quite the workout.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hungry for more...

I have heard people say that housewives are just women who are too lazy to get jobs. Seriously, when I decided I was going to stay home with Lydia I heard this many, many times. It was offensive then. Now, it is just laughable. Here I am...ordered by my doctor to stay off my feet as much as possible, "relax" he says...and of course it is impossible. I try. I really do, but I still have at least 2 meals to prepare, I have to somewhat keep up on the basic housework, and I have to entertain my child. Even when my assignment is to be lazy, it is not possible.

Anyway. My days are not as mellow as they should be, so I make up for it by going to bed around 8 and relaxing until I feel up to sleep, at around 11. I'm not a big TV person, so I have been reading. A lot. I just counted 11 novels that I have read in the last 20 days. I feel like I am back in college, only with the luxury of choosing my own reading material.

Last night I read "The Hunger Games." I've been told it was good, but have refrained since I heard it compared to "Ender's Game" (my very favorite book) and as I rule, I find books in that same genre disappointing. The only thing disappointing about the Hunger Games was that it was over much too soon. Read it. Go ahead. Be lazy for the day. Get some bon bons to snack on. You know you deserve it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Best of Chattanooga - Rock City/Ruby Falls Giveaway

Happy Earth Day! Since I am focusing on Chattanooga this week, what would be a better way of celebrating than mentioning the best local natural attractions? You can't get within 100 miles of Chattanooga without noticing signs for Rock City and Ruby Falls. Ruby Falls is an incredible waterfall 1120 feet underground. As breathtaking as it is, the rest of the tour is just as fun. The tour guide points out amazing geological formations within the mountain and stunning scenic views from the top. There are activities just for the kids too, like gemstone panning and a fun forest playground.

Rock City is a walk through quiet woodland paths and gardens amongst magnificent ancient rock formations. We go at least once a year. There is a section underground called "Fairy Land Caverns" that Lydia absolutely loves. If you come to Chattanooga, this is the must see.

Want to go? I am going to award one randomly selected winner a family pass to Rock City and a family pass to Ruby Falls. These tickets will allow entrance for 2 adults and 2 children and can be used on the same day or different days if you prefer. This is over a $1oo value!
To enter, simply comment on this post, and please only enter if you live in the Eastern Tennessee areas or you will be in the Chattanooga area within the next few months so that you can redeem your prize. For an extra entry, comment in a separate post that you are a Natalie's Sentiments subscriber/reader/follower. I will announce the winner on April 29th. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Window shopping for....pjs.

A couple years ago I was in New York shopping at Takashimaya and I found the most gorgeous pajamas I have ever seen. A long sleeve top and pants set in that white cotton that feels like it is vintage and has been washed 100 times. So soft. So tempting. So expensive. (Over $300 for the set....on sale.) Since then I have thought longingly of those pajamas. You know, pajamas are a great investment. You wear them more than almost any other garment. I'm not paying $300 for them, but as I am going to be recovering from a C-section soon, I am have been doing some serious online shopping trying to find something amazing. So far....

These are sexy, modest and flattering. I even love the color. Still a bit pricey though.

This pink set looks luscious. And so great for nursing!

These look comfy, and they are on sale.

This set would be very forgiving right after having a baby. Not loving the color though. Better in black. And I don't like the model's hair, so that is throwing me.

This set would be great for the hot summer.

I actually have this gown. I bought it to wear in the hospital after having Lydia. I love it, but I don't wear it around Shane on a normal basis. It is a little Mumu for him. I want pjs that are this comfortable, but in pants. Farmer's wife comfy, modern wife sexy. Any ideas?

P.S. If you live around the Chattanooga area, make sure to check out yesterday's giveaway and check back tomorrow for a new one. I am in a giving mood this week :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Best of Chattanooga - Southern Belle Giveaway

Back in September, I mentioned that I wanted to do monthly "Best of Chattanooga" post, focusing on some of my favorite aspects of my lovely new hometown. I have let that slide a bit. To make up for it, this week I am going have 3 Chattanooga themed giveaways for those of you who live in this area. All I ask it that if you enter, you live close enough to take advantage of the prize within the next few months.

The first is for Chattanooga's "Best Romantic Outing". I can't think of anything more Chattanoogan than "The Southern Belle Riverboat".

Shane and I recently went on one of the boat's dinner cruises. Prime Rib, a nighttime tour of the Tennessee River, live music and dancing. It was like a 3 hour vacation. (We did not take Lydia.) It would be the perfect anniversary or birthday destination. After the delicious dinner, Shane and I spent most of the evening on the deck, enjoying the crisp night air, watching the water and the beautiful homes along the river. Whether you want something social and fun, or a more quiet escape, the Southern Belle provides it. They also have daytime cruises as well.

Want to go? The Southern Belle is offering one reader two tickets for a Dinner Cruise.

To enter, simply comment on this post what event you would like to celebrate on the Southern Belle. For a second entry, mention that you are a Natalie's Sentiments subscriber/reader/follower in a separate comment. I will announce the randomly selected winner on April 27th. Good luck!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I will be 8 1/2 months along tomorrow. It's countdown time. I looked in the mirror yesterday and realized I looked exactly like a big ripe watermelon. Which is funny since my Dad used to call me the "Watermelon Girl". Still does now that I think of it. Drop a few watermelons as a child and you never live it down. Kind of excited to get this huge watermelon out from under my shirt.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why is everyone training?!

I laughed so hard I cried when I read the "What White People Like" post about Marathons. Everyone I know is currently training for a half marathon. Seriously, like 67.3% of everyone I know. I recently got on Facebook and have reconnected with dozens of old friends. Basically they tell me about their kids or job, what they know about mutual friends....and that they are training for a half-marathon. Even Shane! When his doctor told him to lay off running for a month to give his knee a rest, I thought I saw a glimmer of a tear. Now he is back on the wagon and doing Internet searches about $300 running watches and the best running shoes. We have Powerade in our fridge. Powerade! -

Not that it isn't great that people are running, but why all the sudden? As a side note- An idea for GM Motors. Need something lucrative to do while waiting for the American public to start buying cars again? Put your engineers to work designing a sports bra for those of us "well endowed" women for hi-intensity activity. There is nothing that annoys me more than seeing a sports bra that is great for A-B cups for hi-intensity (running), C cups for medium intensity (spin and step-aerobic) and D-DD cups for low-intesity (Yoga). Thanks a lot. A bra that keeps things under control when I am basically not moving. Design me a sports bra that I can RUN in, and maybe I will train for a half-marathon too. Well, probably not, but I will go for a nice jog every once in a while.

(If you are wondering - I wear two bras at the same time when I go to the gym. And no, it isn't comfortable.)

Side note - "The Secret is in the Sauce" girls are having a great auction today for a wonderful cause. I have some jewelry being auctioned off. If you have a moment, check it out!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Little Blog Spring Cleaning.

You may have noticed that I have deleted my other blog called "Natalie's Essays" I just wasn't keeping it up. Besides, I'm not allowed to do real Spring Cleaning, so I might as well tidy my blog up. It was relatively simple to move the posts over to this blog, but the only reason I hadn't deleted it sooner was that I didn't want to lose all the great comments. Oh well. If for some reason you never got to read them, I have linked my favorite posts here:

My Thoughts on Living in the South.

My Motherhood Game Plan.

Getting What You Want.

New Years Resolutions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Baby Update....

Great News! After two weeks of basically nonstop sitting and drinking water, I was able to get my amniotic fluid up to normal levels! Yea!!! No bed rest for me! I still have to maintain this sedentary lifestyle for the next 5 weeks, but compared to staying in bed constantly, I'll take it. Lydia and I are doing our best to stay occupied at home. We take baths, play board games and read stories. Somehow I have managed to keep her TV to only about 60 -90 minutes a day. Our big outing for the week is a trip to story time at the library. Shane has been fantastic about handling most of the housework and cooking. Yesterday I asked him just to make eggs and ham for dinner. When he brought me my plate I saw that he added rosemary and Parmesan to the eggs. What the gourmet :) It is still crazy hard to keep myself from doing all of the things that need to be done before the baby gets here. I really thought that I would have everything organized in plenty of time. Oh well. Better a healthy baby than a perfectly set up nursery. And I can't complain about a nap everyday. I can do this for 5 more weeks. I'm not sure my stomach is going to be able to stretch anymore though. Is it strange that I have cried like 6 times already today. One of the incidents was when reading "Frog On His Own". These pregnancy hormones are nuts. Luckily, I still have lots of Easter chocolate left....

Needed a smile today. This did the trick.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One last Easter post....

Please forgive so many Easter pics. I print my blog as my scrapbook so I like to memorex my holiday festivites. And I know my mom likes it.

Shane's Basket - with a little bunny for our baby....coming in about 5 weeks!

Lydia's Basket.

My basket.

Lydia went straight for the Princess slippers. They were stuck. :)

Shane made pink Easter pancakes with Lydia. He has quite the talent I must say.

Last minute Easter outfit. I thought she looked lovely.

This photo is from last years meal, but we had the exact same meal this year. I love funeral pototoes. I could eat the whole pan. Yum.

We invited some friends over for a little dessert and and an Easter Egg hunt. Yes, Lydia and her friend, Isabella, are wearing matching cardigans :) Her mom and I were both looking for them with the instructions that whomever found them first, buy two. Yellow makes me happy. (Shane got a yellow polo in his basket.)

On the hunt.

I just made crème brûlée for Valentines day, but when a friend gave me these ramekins, I really had to pull out the blow torch again.

What? You wanted a closer view of what was in my basket? Don't you love an Easter Bunny who lets you choose what you find in your basket? I needed a new wallet anyway, but when I saw the matching purse I told Shane it could be my "Push Gift" :) (Not that I really expected one.) I know that I have been talking about yellow a lot, but truly, black is my color.


The randomly chosen winner for The Baby's Bundle Giveaway is Dana! Congrats! Email me your address and I will get you your prize. Stay tuned, more great giveaways to come.

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