Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Goals

Sharing a few achievable goals on my blog each month has proven to be incredibly beneficial for me. I feel extra accountable to get things done when I know I will report back to my readers in this space. I don't always get everything accomplished on my monthly list, but I'm usually able to knock out the majority of my goals, and I consider that a very good thing.

This month is all about art and administration. I set a few goals over the summer that were either creative projects or administrative tasks with no firm deadline, and I finally realized by August that they had to wait. I was so busy studying for my comprehensive exam and preparing for the start of the fall semester that I truly had no time for extras. Any tasks that were not academically related needed to be pushed aside and I'm glad I made that decision. Now I want to conquer these last few little projects before I dig into dissertation writing in October. Eek!


List books on Amazon... Done and I've sold at least half of them so far!

Continue HSA activities... Yes! I finished my health assessment and scheduled my coaching calls and yearly physical.

Complete wall above Micah's dresser... This is one that got put on hold.

Work on Zianne's baby book... This one also got put on hold, but I'm really determined to get it done by her birthday in three weeks!

Read a book... I read Heaven is for Real. I'm just about four years behind the times.

Write one note of encouragement... I can't remember if I did this or not, so I'm going to write two this month just in case.


Finish Zianne's baby book... three weeks to go! I have so much to do, but printing off Dear Zianne letters should help speed up the process.

Paint sign for the wall above Micah's dresser... I've finally settled on a word. Hopefully I will reveal this project soon.

Open a savings account for Zianne... This is something I realized we would have to do when we can visit our credit union in person in Seattle this month.

Roll over 401K... Same with this. After a few annoying phone calls, I decided I would deal with this in person while in Seattle.

Make some updates to the blog... Changes coming soon!

Read one book...

Write TWO letters of encouragement...

Monday, September 1, 2014


So blessed by Zianne's fantastic grandparents...

Play time with Zianne. She loves to read, throw her ball, swim, and rock out on her xylophone...

Best friend had a layover in Phoenix. Best coffee date I've ever had in the airport...

Baking with mom. Banana muffin recipe here...

Back to school/work. ASU got the first ever Starbucks truck. What?

This little lady is eleven months!

I just passed my huge comprehensive exam last week, so I'm trading out my coffee for champagne!

||To see more of our life lately follow @jenrussum on Instagram||

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Snippets

Triangle leather necklace, nude pink pastel, discreet original
{via Fosseth}

The most rad jewelry I've ever seen...

Such a great perspective on gratitude...

Loved this post on saving up 100K to buy a house...

I'm loving this print shop...

A ranking of Rory's hairstyles on GG. Except I think the "Chilton Classic"  and the "Channeling Emily Gilmore" should move WAY up on the list...

7 truths about marriage you won't learn at church...

And why it's worth it to wake up at 5am...

A super interesting and inspiring productivity schedule to use when you start waking up early...

Trying out this sleep cycle app...

I'm NOT a crier, but this post on sending one's firstborn off to college got me teary at the end...

Balloon Birdhouse...

Freezable lunch bags...

The most aesthetically pleasing toy box ever. I might want this for my own bedroom...

Eyeing these tufted bar stools...

Desperately in need of some casual kicks...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eleven Months...

Growing - I'm guessing Z will be around 25 pounds at her one year well check, so she is probably hovering somewhere between 24 and 25 pounds currently. Although she has slimmed out through her torso, her thighs still have beautiful rolls and she is really, really tall.

Eating - Z is down to three milk feedings a day. I planned to drop her late afternoon feeding when she turned eleven months, but after a few disinterested/biting incidents we decided to make the transition a few weeks early. Now when she wakes up from her afternoon nap she drinks a sippy cup of water and eats a cracker. She still nurses morning, night, and around noon each day. Z loves all fruits, roasted broccoli, yogurt, and little baked snap pea crackers. She likes lots of starchy, crunchy, and sugary foods too, but I try to limit those.

Sleeping - Surprisingly, when we dropped Z's late afternoon feeding she started sleeping even better. It is very common for her to sleep one and a half to two hours morning and afternoon, and by 7:30 at night she starts showing signs that she's ready for bed. I nurse her quickly at 8 o'clock and she often cuts herself off and whimpers to be put in her crib. She falls asleep quickly and usually doesn't wake up until 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning. Who knew less milk would equal more sleep? I think her 5pm feeding used to energize her for the night and she could easily stay up until nine or later if we needed her to if we were out and about, but now she is DONE for the day by 8pm.

Wearing - I've packed up all of Z's 18 month clothes except for a few shorts to finish off the summer. She is in all 24 month sizes and Micah's mom and I went shopping for her fall wardrobe a few weeks ago and bought everything in 2T!

Doing - Throwing her food on the floor when she's done eating then signing "all done" only after I coax her. Lots of independent play. Trying to chew on cords and shoes {and learning about the word "no"}. Swim lessons. Saying "mama." And finally crawling!

Loving - Reading books on her own or with an adult, especially when the pages have textures or flip-up {this one is her current fave}, taking her flash cards out the box and looking at each one, playing music on her xylophone, pointing at everything under the sun, dancing, playing catch.

Loathing - Having to wait more than three seconds to nurse after waking up in the morning, being left at childcare {15 seconds of separation anxiety and then she's instantly fine when we disappear}, bumping her head into furniture when crawling.

Daddy's girl - Micah decided that it was his responsibility as a dad to teach Z to crawl. We enjoyed her delayed crawling but it got awkward when she couldn't move up into the next class at church. She was getting too old for the nursery with the babies but it was unsafe to put her in with the crawlers and walkers when she was a vulnerable, immobile lump of baby. Finally last weekend Micah put her through some intense training. He would place her in the crawling position and hold her stomach up for her and move her body forward before eventually letting go. It was kind of like training wheels for crawling. By the end of the first day she could crawl two or three feet forward on her own, and by the next day she could crawl slowly across the whole room. Bravo dad!

Milestones - So many! Z can now move from lying down to sitting on her own, and she is now usually sitting up in her crib when we go in after a nap. She can also throw a ball with pretty decent accuracy and likes to play catch. She got her first molar in the past week or so and was surprisingly calm throughout the process. I didn't even know she was teething until the molar completely popped through the gums! Two other big milestones are crawling, of course, and knowingly saying "mama." She has said it 3 or 4 times now when she was upset, but the other day she said it when she was in a good mood. I was leaving the house for work and Z was sitting in the front room playing with grandma. I walked past the entry on my way out and Z waved right at me and said "mama" with a smile on her face. So sweet. Most of the milestones have been good, but now that Z is mobile we have moved into the injury stage as well. She had her first bloody lip incident last week. The Monday after Micah's crawl-training weekend, she was reaching for a ball and collapsed, hitting her chin on the floor and biting her bottom lip. She was perfectly fine but there was a little bit of blood which was so sad. I tried to snuggle her while she cried, but she wouldn't have it so I asked her if she wanted to go to the gym and play, and she instantly perked up and started waving bye-bye. She's pretty stoic I guess, although her lip continued to look bruised for the next day or two. 

+I shared some of Zianne's favorite toys with affiliate links. Enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

In the Kitchen: Banana Muffins

This weekend I discovered why it's far better to make banana muffins instead of banana bread. Here are the facts:
  1. You don't have to use a mixer. Apparently, muffins are fluffier when the dry ingredients barely mix in with the wet, so I just mashed my bananas with a fork and stirred the rest of the ingredients together. I love my Kitchen Aid, but don't like hauling it out of the cabinet or cleaning it and with muffins you don't have to deal with it. {This factor makes the recipe very kid-friendly.}
  2. Muffins only take 25 minutes to bake as opposed to the hour it takes for banana bread.
  3. They bake more evenly too. Sometimes it's hard to get banana bread done on the inside while not getting too dry on top.
  4. Muffins are easier to keep fresh. You can put them in a plastic bag or container. I never really know how to keep a whole loaf of bread fresh. I usually wrap it in foil or plastic and it still dries out a bit. It also gets crumbs all over the counter. Ugh.
  5. You aren't committed to eating ALL the muffins like you are committed to eating a whole loaf of bread once you cut into it. You can eat as many muffins as you want for the first day or two and then pop the rest in the freezer for easy breakfasts or snacks later on.
I think it's pretty obvious that banana muffins win the battle. I might never make banana bread again...

What you need:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2-3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 TBSP sour cream {optional}
1 tsp. vanilla {optional}
1/4 tsp. cinnamon {optional}

What you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat muffin pan with non-stick spray or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
3. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Add any optional ingredients {sour cream, vanilla, cinnamon} to the wet mixture. Fold in flour mixture, and stir until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans. They should approximately half full before baking.
4. Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped. Recipe makes 12 large {cupcake-size} muffins.

This recipe is super flexible. The original recipe called for three bananas, but I only had two and the flavor was still excellent. I also know that many banana bread recipes call for sour cream to help with moisture. I happened to have sour cream in my fridge, so I added about two tablespoons. I also added a little bit of cinnamon and vanilla after reading comments online. I highly recommend these additions, but if you don't have he optional ingredients on hand the recipe will still taste great!

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