Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year and a New Start

I love the New Year because it allows me the opportunity to reflect back on the previous year and make some much needed changes for the upcoming year.

Last year, I am not sure I really took the time to do this, as we had a 10 day old baby at home who kept us pretty busy ;)

I have to say, this year seems to have flown by compared to others in my life. Perhaps the physical manifestation of "One Year" cruising around the house causing a ruckus has made it more tangible than other years!

Here is my basic list of New Year's Resolutions.

1. Eat healthier (includes shopping healthier and cooking healthier)

2. Meal planning (I want to do this on Saturdays, so that I can be set for the next week). I am so proud of myself, because I meal planned this past week from my Weight Watchers and p90x cookbooks and it made life so much easier!)

3. Calorie counting/weight loss (It's been a year now and the baby weight as GOT to go! The above resolution has helped with this one. These cookbooks include a calorie count, so it has been nice to be able to write in my calorie journal what my dinner will be ahead of time and plan my daily eating accordingly)

4. Work out at least 5 days a week. (I have started this one this past week as well and it's amazing how much better I feel when I at least get a 3o minute work out in!)

5. Read at least one book a month ( I may integrate this some with my graduate school program this next semester and my thesis in the summer. But I want to always be reading and learning)

6. Be more consistent in my personal prayer and Bible Study time. (This is something that I just did not keep up with this past year and I really missed it!)

7. Living life with the blessings of God in view. ( I want to focus on enjoying the the little moments I have with my husband and daughter and thanking God for the roof over my head and the food on my plate. I truly am blessed!)


Here is one of the meals I had in my menu for this week. It was yummy!

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry (serves 4)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 red onion
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1-1/2 pound top sirloin steak, sliced 1 inch thick
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp ginger, minced
4 cups broccoli florets
8 ounces dried soba noodles

1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, heat a small amount of soy cause in a large saute pan, add the onions and garlic, and saute until opaque.
3. Add beef and saute, turning often with tongs for 7-10 minutes. Stir together oil, vinegar, and ginger and add to the saute mixture.
4. Blanch the broccoli in the boiling water (or microwave on high, covered and vented for 2 minutes). Add the meat mixture and keep warm.
5. Prepare soba noodles according to package directions. Drain, toss with the beef and broccoli, and serve.

Nutritional information: 466 cals, 11 g Total fat, 46g protein, 49 Carbs, 99 mg Chol, 1,591 Sodium

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Madison Hope Baylor

I can hardly believe it but tomorrow our baby girl turns 1 year old! The year has just flown by. It has been such a wonderful year! I can remember this night last year, trying to get to sleep knowing that tomorrow I would be meeting Madison. She has brought so much joy to our lives - more than we had ever imagined! As Tim wrote in her birthday card, "this has been the best year our family has had yet ;) " I agree. We love one another so much and we have really enjoyed sharing our love and the love of God with our little one. We pray continually that we will be a good example for her and that she will grow up to be a young lady after God's own heart.

Madison has been taking lots of steps here and there by herself while she is playing, although she prefers to crawl still. She giggles and smiles a lot- especially when people are watching her!
She is learning how to drink out of a sippy cup little by little. I am planning on trying to make the big transition to cow's milk and the cup when we get back home to Chicago. She is jabbering up a storm, but only consistently saying mama, dada, and noanana (which is no no -haha- she repeats it after I say it! It's so hard not to laugh ;)

The following are some pics I got of Madison at JCPenny a little over a week ago. They had such a good day going on!

I can't believe she is 1 ?!?!

We had a small party for friends in Chicago. I had a little kiddie station of snacks and party favors set up.
Maddy's friend Michael
Pink, white, and brown m&m's ;)
Her "Birthday Bear" that we got her. She giggles every time I press the paw and it plays the "Happy Birthday" song.

My first time trying my hand at the frosting piping for the cupcakes. It was fun!
People came in shifts so it worked out well since we have a pretty small condo.
Katie and Madison
She was not sure what to think of the cupcakes at first!
Then she dove in!
Happy Birthday Madison Hope! Your Dad and I are so glad that God brought you into our lives!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Recent Happenings

Well, Thankgiving was fabulous! We of course missed being with family, but we are thankful that we have good friends here in Chicago. We had lunch with some of the college kids from church that couldn't make it home and then had dinner with our dear friends, the Barkers. Katie had a lovely table set for us and made an amazing (looking and tasting) turkey! We had such fun reminiscing God's goodness with them.

This is a pic of the table after dinner. I totally forgot to take pictures unttil the whole meal was over! Katie posted some more pics she took with her camera at "Kate's Journeys" if you want to check them out.

Afterwards Katie and I checked out the Black Friday deals. I hadn't been planning on going out, but some of the deals were so good, I just couldn't pass them up!

We were being pretty silly by the end of the night ;) Katie also posted some great pics of our shopping escapade starting at 4:30 the next morning!

Last weekend Maddy and I traveled to Missouri for my brother Tim and his wife shannon's baby shower.
We left early Friday morning and left to come home Sunday morning. Each way we were on the road for about 11 hours. I was terribly afraid that she would freak out the entire way and I would be pulling my hair out by the end of it. But she really was so great!

We found a great public library half way in St. Louis for Maddy to get out and play.
She loved watching the big kids color!

Playing in the bucket
Then I let her sit in a high chair to eat her lunch at Noodles (on the way) and Fazzoi's (on the way back). We had a lot of fun together!
When we did stop, I tried to make the stops just a little longer than normal so she would go crazy. On the way there she was a dream! She just played, ate snacks, drank her bottle, or slept. - I was completely amazed! On the way back she was pretty fussy about an hour an a half before bedtime. But once it was completely dark and it was bedtime (about 2 hours from home) she was sound asleep! Overall, she was a trooper!

I had a wonderful time visiting with family there and
"representing the Jordan Family" with our combined famly gift -haha!
Saturday evening, my brother and I were playing with Maddy and she took her first steps! It was so exciting! I really didn't think I would be THAT excited, but it was just thrilling -ahha! Shannon got a video of it that you can see on facebook here.

Other than that, now I am in the rat race to finish everything before Christmas: Maddy's b-day party for friends, 3 more classes (Sat, Mon, and Tuesday) and the homework that goes along with them. As well as Christmas cards, packing, college luncheon on saturday and a few other holiday events.It's such a fun time a year, but so busy too! We leave for PA on the 16th! Whoohoo!

Hope the rest of your days before Christmas (only 15 now ;) are Merry!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am Truly Thankful Today

On days like this when I reflect on the blessings in my life, I am so thankful for the Lord's grace that has brought me to this point in my life. I am thankful that my parent's brought me to church at a young age and that I heard the good news of Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection for my sins. It was at that point that my life had true purpose and that still today, I live for eternity. "This world is not my home, I am just passing through".

I am thankful for my parents who continued to bring me up in the ways of the Lord. We didn't have much as far as possessions go, but we sure were happy. I am thankful for my relationship with my parents and siblings that are so strong still today.

I am thankful that I met Tim at Centre County Christian Academy in 8th grade. We were "enemies" for that first year, but then became best friends for our 9th and 10th grade year. We then dated (on and off) from our 11th grade year until we got married right after 4 years of college. He is my best friend and a wonderful father for our baby girl.

I am thankful that in marrying Tim I gained a "second family" - the Baylor Family. The have all been gracious and loving and I couldn't ask for better in-laws.

I can't help to think back to last year on Thanksgiving day. I was VERY pregnant, thinking
Maddy could come any day (although she ended up being very stubborn and coming weeks later). I had only one more week of teaching left before I went on maternity leave- boy was I excited!

It's hard to believe that she just turned 11 months old! We are only 27 days away from her FIRST birthday. The time has just flown by, probably because we are having so much fun! Needless to say, we are thankful for the gift of our daughter. We are thankful that she is healthy, hyper, and happy ;) She is crawling so quickly now, cruising around everywhere-sometimes holding on with only one finger. But she hasn't quite tried to take that first step yet, but that's perfectly fine with me- I am so happy with the stage she is in now. She is a blast! She is sleeping great at night (sometimes til 8 or 9 in the morning after going to bed at 7 or 8 at night! What can I say, the kid loves her sleep! She is down to two naps most days - which makes errands a bit easier. All in all - this is a great stage and we are really enjoying it!

I am thankful that we have tickets to go home to PA from December 16th - 26th. It will be so nice to spend some quality time with family and friends.

Here are a few pics from recent days:

Tim showing Maddy a train at the Christmas store

Mom and Dad Baylor visited last week and helped to watch Maddy while I was doing my field experience. Thank you guys! Here mom is showing Maddy a pretty princess hat.
Dad Baylor reading Maddy her favorite book (Old McDonald Had a Farm)

Tim and I before our date night last weekend. Doesn't Maddy looked thrilled?!

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Our Pink Panther

For Halloween, Maddy got to be a Pink Panther.
Her expression just kills me in this pic!

We decided to just stop by a few friend's houses to say hello. Katie was the only one home (Tim Barker had to work). But we had fun stopping by! She was so kind and let Maddy try some of her candy and even helped me put a nose and whiskers on her face :)

The family
The Gals
Checking out her tail!
She was cracking us up because she put this Milky Way in her mouth
and was crawling around the room with it!
Then she got to go to bed in her pumpkin sleeper.
Fun memories!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too Busy to Blog

Well, the title and this picture about sums it up! I have been too busy to keep up with my beloved blog.
Tim and I have been running around pretty wildly lately. This blog actually took three days of starting and stopping to finish. But I like to keep my out of town friends and family up to date on our lives. Not to mention, that at some point I think I would like to print and bind our blog as a type of scrapbook for our family. Even though things have been busy, we have really been enjoying life. I feel like I have finally gotten into a pretty good routine with my schedule, which helps me to not feel completely out of control.

Our weekly schedule looks something like this:

Sunday morning- lead college group (I prepare coffee and some type of pastry breakfast)
Sunday afternoon - we often meet with a few college kids for lunch/discipleship
Sunday night - we get to rest and hang out as a family

Monday morning- we also get to rest and hang out as a family
Monday afternoon - Tim takes the train into the city to go to his Barth class at University of Chicago- I take care of Maddy and work on homework during her naps. Some Mondays Maddy and I go into the city with Tim in the morning and then head back out before he goes to class.

This is us on University of Chicago's Campus
This is Madison looking at the baby chicks at the Museum of Science and Industry

Maddy and Daddy looking at the Model Submarine at the Science museum
(it was free in October!)

Monday night - I drop Madison off at a babysitter(we are rotating through our friends right now)- BIG THANK YOU'S to all of you! Then I head to Zoology class at Harper. I am actually really enjoying this one! We get to learn cool things about animals and even getting to do dissections (crawfish, worm, starfish, a shark). I am picking up some fun and interesting information that I think my students will enjoy some day as well!
Late Monday night- I pick up Maddy around 9pm (who is sleeping in her pack n play) - bring her home to put her back to bed (bless her sweet heart, the transition doesn't seem to bother her at all!) She falls right back asleep when I get home. Tim arrives home from the city just after we get home.

Tuesday Morning/Afternoon - Tim heads to work and I work on homework most of the day. Maddy has gotten really good at playing independently with her toys. But I try to make sure to get down there and play with her any chances I can too.

I was pulling her around in her little toy basket and she was just smiling and giggling. It was so much fun!
Tuesday night - Tim arrives home at 4:30 and we sit down to eat dinner. I then run out the door at 5 to get to my 6pm class at Trinity. I am currently taking a Math Methods class which has also been beneficial. Although this class does come with quite a bit of homework.
--Most Tuesdays, Tim leaves with Madison at 6pm to go to our pastor's house to help lead a Theology study on Calvin's Institutes. Our pastor's wife watches Maddy and then lays her down in her pack n play to go to sleep. He finishes there around 9pm, brings Madison home and lays her back down for bed. I usually get home around 10:30pm.

Wednesday morning/afternoon - Tim goes to the office and I am home with Maddy. I try to make this day one to run errands, go on play dates, and get lots of play time in with Madison. I usually take this one off of homework - that is unless I have a test that night in Zoology.
Wednesday night - Tim comes home around 4:30 and we eat dinner together. Then I leave for class around 5:15 (my zoology class/lab). Tim stays home with Madison. I arrive home around 9pm.

This is a picture of my friends from teaching(Abbey and Helen) and their sweet little ones. We went to a mom and tots bowling activity at "Pinstripes". It was great. For just $5, you get to bowl from 10-12 with your kiddos. There is free yogurt and fruit for the kids and coffee for the moms (smart people!) It was so much fun!

Maddy loved to push the ball (kind of with my help) and then watch it roll down the alley. She would yell and babble as the ball rolled away. It was so cute!
Thursday morning/afternoon - Tim heads to the office and I am home with Maddy. I do try to get a start on my homework while Maddy is napping. But I make sure to get some good play time in here too.
Thursday night - Tim comes home and we actually get an evening to relax together (unless there is a church or college activity). We generally have dinner together, play with Maddy until her bedtime, and then Thursday night our friend from TIU/Church comes over and we watch Comedy shows on NBC (Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, and 30 Rock;) - so fun and relaxing!

Friday- Tim will sometimes have meetings in the morning, but then will try to get home to spend the rest of the day with us. We often have dinner with our good friends the Barkers.

Saturday Morning - We have breakfast as a family and relax.
Saturday Afternoon - Tim heads to the church to get ready for the evening service. I try to get meal planning, cleaning, and some homework done.
Saturday evening - Maddy and I head to church to meet tim at 5:30p. He leads the service and we get to enjoy it. I help in the nursery if needed. After church, we usually head home to put Maddy to bed. Although once a month we have a pizza fellowship after church, which I
make sure the drinks, dessert, and paper goods are ready. I have enjoyed that though because it is a really good chance to get to know the people in the Saturday night service. When we get home, Tim has to write the sermon-based discussion question for our life groups by 10pm.

And then we start again Sunday morning ;) Like I said- busy! But we really are enjoying this stage in our lives. Tim loves his job and his class at University of Chicago. And I really LOVE being a stay at home mama and a grad student.

God has been so good to us! Tim and I have learned to make the most of little opportunities to be together and make them quality time. And I have learned how to make the most of the sweet moments playing with Madison throughout each day (refusing to feel guilty that I don't always have larger chunks of time).

This picture is of us playing "peak a boo" with her toy basket ;)
On a side note: I am exercising about 5 times a week, counting calories and loosing this baby weight one week at a time - little by little. It's a battle. But I know it will be worth it in the long run to be healthy and fit again.

Maddy Facts:
Madison turned 10 months last week. I can hardly believe it?! She is growing up so fast. She will be 1 in just two short months! She has been an absolute blast lately. She has been babbling a lot more and saying dada and mama (most of the time at the right time to the right person- I think ;) We have been working on sign language, but she doesn't seem to quite get it yet. She has just been starting to learn to clap and do patty cake - which is so adorable.

She loves playing with her toys (and by that I mean, pulling them out of the basket one at a time, looking at them, and then throwing them behind her back). She is crawling faster and cruising faster. She lets go here and there and stands by herself, but doesn't really know that she can go anywhere yet. At church they have a push shopping cart and she can hold onto that and walk a few steps before crashing ;)

She is the light of my life. When I am tired and overwhelmed with school and life, I LOVE to just get down on the floor and crawl around with her. She has some pretty fun giggles and smiles these days. She has gotten two more teeth on the top.
But the funny thing is that she got the top right middle one and the one to the right of that (not the top two middle like most kids). So we affectionately call her "snaggle-tooth".
She is gaining weight, but is still our little peanut. We love her so much and are not sure what we would do without her.

Overall, God has been teaching me that "Godliness with contentment is great gain"
(I Timothy 6:6). We may not have much money or even much time, but I am finding JOY in thanking God for what we do have and basking in those sweet moments in life with friends and family. God is good all the time.