Saturday, January 7, 2012

AWESOME giveaway!!

You have to check out this amazing giveaway by Crave Photography!! You can win either a Nikon 85mm 1.4 or a Canon 85mm 1.2 lens!! This is too good to pass up!! Check it out here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One-year checkup

My little man turned 1 on September 29. I still can't believe it. One years old. Eek! We had his birthday party on October 2 and I won't go into too many details because I will have an entirely separate post with photos to share! But yesterday we went to Knox's one-year checkup . . . he was weighed, he was measured, and he was found only somewhat wanting. {Quote from "A Knight's Tale" - leave me alone, I liked it} So for the official stats, drumroll please:

Head circumference: 46.1 cm ..................... 47%

Height: 28 1/2 inches .................................. 23%

Weight: 18 pounds 11 ounces ..................... 5%

Ok, well at least we know he's got a large head. I really thought he'd be over the 20 pound mark {he definitely feels like it when you hold him!!}, but he's almost there and the doctor said he is on the curve now so she is happy!

The little man also had to have a round of shots - not fun. Four in total and we have to go back in a month to get the second dose of his flu shot. :-( But he handled it like a man. Only a few tears. Love that kid!

Stay tuned for photos from his birthday party!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Catching up with Knox

Wow, I haven't blogged in so long. I haven't been keeping up with Knox's milestones, with his ups and downs, with his first words, with anything basically. I can't believe how busy I've been and how I am letting life slip me by without documenting it. As we approach Knox's first birthday (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?) I figured I really need to make a conscious effort to be better at this. So that is my goal. I did do an Easter post of Knox on my professional blog so it's not like I haven't done anything. You can stop laughing now.

Where to begin? I don't even know.

So I'll start here .... Knox's first word was "dada." Granted I don't think he registered what it meant (and I'm still not sure he does), but that was the first "word" he said. And when did this happen? See, this is where I feel like a horrible mother. Because I didn't take note when it first happened. I think I may have posted something on Facebook at the time, but it's too hard to scroll back through. What sticks out in my mind is sitting around my parent's dining room table in Pensacola, him saying "dada" or something awfully close and all of us clapping and cheering him on. So based on that recollection, I'm going to go with the rough estimate that his first word came in the beginning of June when he was 8 months old. Since then he babbles A LOT, but nothing coherent ever comes out and the only recognizeable word has been dada. Until yesterday. And then I heard the sweetest word ever. "Mama." He finally said it!!!! Just shy of 11 months. Again, not 100% positive he's associating me to that word, but I don't care. It melted my heart when he said it.

The other thing that melts my heart? When I go to pick him up from school. He'll be in the room playing, usually with his back to me. I'll show up at the door and his teacher will say "Knox, look who's here!" He'll see me, get this HUGE smile on his face and start flapping his arms. I don't know why he flaps his arms, but he does it anytime he's excited. Jeremy said he'd make a great bat for Halloween because he already does the arm flapping part. :-) I love that he gets so excited when I pick him up. But just this week you know what else he did that sent me over the top of the happiness scale? He actually REACHED out for me when I came to pick him up. Be still my heart.

He still isn't crawling, walking, or pulling himself up on his own. But he loves to stand! And he's pretty good at it. He can't do it completely on his own without at least an ottoman or something to hold on to, but he's pretty stable. Jeremy's mom said that Jeremy never crawled; he just went straight into walking. We'll see what Knox chooses to do. There are times it looks like he might crawl. I sit and hold my breath. And then, plop, back on his tummy he goes. So who knows.

This past weekend (August 20th) Jeremy dropped Knox's crib. I came home from shooting a wedding and went in to give him a kiss like I always do, and he was too low. :-( It made me sad. He's growing up way too fast. But that's a part of life.

And he's gotten so big. SO BIG. I can't believe he's the same boy who was born weighing 3 1/2 pounds. At last checkup he was just under 18 pounds! Granted at his 9 month appointment the doctor still said he was only in the 1% for weight and length, but whatever. To me, he is huge. On the plus side, he was in the 45% for head circumference. I have NO CLUE where he got the big head from seeing as both Jeremy and I have baby heads. Maybe it's something that skips a generation.... As far as clothing size goes, it is so difficult to buy for him. In most shirts, he fits into size 9 month. But for pants/shorts.... that's a whole 'nother story. In fact, he's still fitting into size 3 months! Yes, 3 months. The pants/shorts that are 6 months or, God forbid, 9 months, just slip right off him when you stand him up. He looks so funny because the 3 month ones are way too short on him. Poor kid.

We have finally moved Knox to an umbrella stroller and his other stroller without the car seat attached. He definitely looks so grown up sitting upright in his stroller, toys attached, and still reaching out for anything he can grab at the store.

I can't remember when he first started sitting up on his own unsupported. Yet another milestone I missed documenting. But I think he was somewhere around 9 months. I honestly don't know how this compares to other babies and what is "normal." But I don't care. Plus, always remember we have to adjust two months back for all that he does (until he is two I've been told). But it doesn't matter to me. I don't care if he sat up later than most babies, I don't care that he's not crawling yet, I don't care if he's not saying a lot of words that make sense, I don't care that he still eats mainly pureed foods. He's happy and healthy. And that's all I care about.

Speaking of food, he loves to eat.

I have been making his food (for the most part) and keep trying different recipes. Some are a huge hit, some not so much. One particular meal - sigh - I spent 2 1/2 hours making: beets, squash, and quinoa. It made a ton too! So I used all of my freezer containers and the entire top shelf of our freezer had beets in it. Well, turns out Knox doesn't like beets. At all. Oh we tried more than once. We had granny try. We had day care try. No one could get him to eat the beets. So finally this weekend I tossed it all. No use taking up freezer space (and freezer containers) with something he doesn't like. Another thing he hasn't quite warmed up to? Roasted red pepper hummus. I personally think it tastes pretty good. But the jury's still out on that one. We'll try a couple more times before calling it quits. However, he did love the broccoli & cauliflower. Go figure. That stuff smelled HORRIBLE making. But he liked it. So I have it on the agenda to make again (gag). I also tried coconut milk rice with peaches. He seemed to like that alright. And he definitely likes all the basics: sweet potato, pears, apples, bananas, squash, yogurt...and any combo of those. I made him a squash risotto and he thought that was ok. Basically, I don't think he likes to "work" for his food. So anything that requires chewing, he's only so-so about. Well kiddo needs to buck up because I'm about to introduce him to meat! Oh, we did give him some grits this past weekend and he really liked those! The egg.... he wasn't sure about.

Things he loves?

The pool.

Playing with Kai's tail (and taking her toys).


Going out and about (doesn't matter where, as long as he's the center of attention).
(sorry no pic!)

Monkey blanket (thanks Samantha!)
(sorry no pic!)

Playing with sushi (thanks Kara!).

And He-Man. Yes, He-Man. Don't ask.

So there you go. Six months (or more) of updates in one post. I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting. But as I remember, I'll try to write. I regret not keeping better track of his milestones, of his life. But in the end, the only thing that truly matters I guess is that I'm there for him and that I love him with my whole heart.

We are currently planning his FIRST birthday party, so stay tuned for details of the big event!

Contemplating what I want for my birthday......

(All photos taken with the iPhone and edited with Instagram).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Asian Beef Noodle Bowl

As any mom out there probably knows, my time has not been my own for the last few months. So I haven't had much time to experiment with new dishes. This makes me sad (and my husband crabby because I constantly want to spend money for food). It's been even harder since going back to work - especially during session - because I find even less time. But I'm trying. And I've quickly realized that the key to happiness right now - and full tummies - is quick and easy meals. I've been experimenting with my crock pot and gotten a few good results. But I tried this Asian Beef Noodle Bowl recipe last night and I have to say, I was really impressed! So I'm going to share. Hopefully it will make someone else (and their tummy) happy.

Asian Beef Noodle Bowl

4 oz uncooked angel hair pasta
8 oz fresh sugar snap peas (Next time I would use more - I love the crunch!)
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 lb boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips (I just cut it into bite size pieces)
1 medicum carrot, thinly sliced (around 1/2 cup). Since you can't just buy ONE carrot, I bought the bag of mini carrots. I'm not sure how many I used, but I would probably err on the side of using more rather than less. This recipe is really good with more veggies.
1/2 cup teriyaki baste and glaze
4 medium green onions, sliced
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, chopped (whoops, I just saw this word "chopped" - I just put them on whole!)

1. Cook pasta as directed. Meanwhile, trim ends off snap peas. Drain pasta and keep warm.

2. In 12-inch skillet, heat 3 teaspoons of the oil on medium-high heat. Then stir-fry the beef in the oil until no longer pink. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

3. In same skillet, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Stir-fry peas and carrots about 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Stir in pasta, beef, and teriyaki baste and glaze. Toss until well blended.

4. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with green onion and peanuts.

Ok, this was just delicious! Loved it. I did have to salt mine, but it is still a recipe aI highly recommend. I would add more peas and maybe even carrots next time - the peas add this amazing crunch to the dish. It makes it feel very light and fresh. I think next time I may also try to stir-fry some broccoli as well. The hardest part (and most time consuming) of this dish is just cutting everything up. The cooking part is really simple and fast. Definitely a keeper!!! I didn't take a photo, but here is one from

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Knox's Story

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile now. For about 5 months in fact. But I just haven't found the time. And then the other day I was talking with someone and we were talking about Knox and they said something to the effect of "Well, he was just ready to come into the world." So, that statement pushed me into motion to write his birth story. To set the record straight. To let everyone know that it wasn't Knox's fault at all. It was all me. So here we go. Hopefully I can recount everything properly after 5 months!

This story starts the weekend of September 25 - the Alabama v. Arkansas game. It was a very close game - much too close for my comfort and I did a lot of screaming at the TV (because I truly believe that when I yell at the players on TV they can hear me). In the middle of the game I started to feel sick. Really sick to my stomach. And I even threw up at one point. I had Jeremy run out and get my some Maalox or something equivalent thinking I had heart burn. I took it and then curled up in the only position that made me somewhat comfortable and went to bed. Unfortunately, it was a very odd position and the next day (Sunday, Sept. 26) I woke up with a bad headache and crick in my neck. But of course I thought it was from sleeping funny. So this headache lasted all day and never went away. It just got worse. And I had a sharp pain all the way down the right side of my body. I could barely move my head from side to side it hurt so bad. I really thought I had a pinched nerve. I didn't sleep at all Sunday night because I was in so much pain. Work on Monday wasn't any better. Monday after work we had our birthing class and I even asked the instructor who she recommended for a chiropractor for pregnant women. Monday night was worse than the others and I ended up on the couch because I was crying I was in so much pain (and at this point I was extremely tired!). Finally around 4 a.m. on Tuesday September 28, I went in and woke Jeremy up in my passive aggressive way. He asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, but of course I didn't. My actual response was "They're going to laugh at me." I had no labor pains or anything of the sort so why would I go to labor and deliver (L&D)?!? Made no sense to me to do so. I just had a really bad headache. But finally Jeremy said "remember the instructor said if you just don't feel right to go to L&D." So we got dressed, I grabbed my pillow, and we headed to TMH Women's Pavilion.

When I got there I had to fill out all the paperwork - you know, the stuff they say to do BEFORE you have to come in for labor so you don't have to do it while you're sitting there in pain. Well, since I still had a full 2 months before I was set to have this baby, I hadn't done the paperwork online yet. So I had to sit there, in pain, and do it. LOL Ironic. I finally get taken back to triage and they take my blood pressure. It was 170/120. Yup, you read that correctly. The nurse definitely looked a little nervous. And then the urine results came back and there was protein in it. Hmmm, not looking good. So they decided to admit me to run more tests. I got put on magnesium to help stabalize me so I didn't have a seizure (something I guess they were worried about because my BP was so high). And getting the IV was only the beginning of several days of poking. I had blood drawn every few hours to check my liver enzymes and platelet count. And they continued to monitor my proteins.
Around lunch time on the 28th, I realize I'm starving. The nurses say I can have "whatever I want" so I go straight for the comfort food: McDonald's. Mrs. Daniell brought me and Jeremy hamburgers and fries and we all ate around my hospital bed. Well, unfortunately the Big Mac did not sit well on my stomach and I soon saw it again. :-/ Then the nurse says "well, you probably shouldn't have eaten something so greasy." UM, HELLO?!? You said I could have WHATEVER I wanted. If there were qualifications, you should have told me. Sheesh. Anyway, that was the start of me not being able to keep anything down. So that was a lot of fun.

Jeremy was a trooper and opted to spend the night in the hospital room with me that night. He didn't realize he needed to prepare like he was sleeping outside . . . in Alaska . . . in winter. The stupid magnesium made me so bloomin' hot! I was sweating to death and it was like 65 degrees in the room. Jeremy spent the whole night shivering, whereas I could barely stand to have a sheet over me and I had to have ice packs placed on my forehead throughout the night. Let's just say, I HATED the magnesium.

So the next morning there was a mishap and all the hard work we spent the past 24 hours of collecting and monitoring the proteins went down the tube - literally. One of the nurses spilled the collection. So I was told we had to start over for another 24 hours. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! So at this point, the doctor had basically told me there were three options: I would go home on bed rest, I would stay at the hospital on bed rest, or I would have to deliver. Going home on bed rest is what was initially considered as the most likely option. But as the morning progressed on the 29th, it seemed that staying in the hospital on bed rest was what was going to happen. You can probably guess how thrilled I was with that prospect. Two months of bed rest - in the hospital? Yuck! But whatever I had to do right? Honestly, throughout this, all is still hunky-doory. I had some friends visit me in the hospital (BTW, thank you for not mentioning how horrible I must have looked!) and Jeremy had brought up the computer. We were chilling. And then around 4 p.m. Dr. Dixon came to see me. And that's when our world was turned upside down.

Basically throughout all of the blood tests that had been done, my liver enzymes just kept increasing. Now, since I'm not a doctor I can't really explain what this means or why it's really bad. But supposedly it is. REALLY bad. So bad in fact that Dr. Dixon didn't bother telling me until my 6 week post-pardum appointment that basically my liver was on the verge of rupturing and I would have more than likely died. Hmm, yah, I'm glad he left that tidbit out while I was in the hospital. I remember it so clearly. Dr. Dixon said that I needed to have a c-section - that day. In a few hours. I didn't even know how to comprehend this. My first thought was "But I'm only 31 weeks. Will the baby be ok???" Dr. Dixon said that the baby would be very small, but that they had put me on steroids as soon as I was admitted, so that should help. But very vividly I remember him saying "But even if you were a month earlier than this, I'd still say we have to do the c-section." So that was that. C-section scheduled. And immediately we got on the phone to my parents and told them they better get on the road and get to Tallahassee because Baby Daniell was coming that night. Needless to say everyone was pretty shocked.

The rest of the afternoon we spent contacting people and taking bets on whether it was a girl or a boy. We joked a lot, laughed a lot. I remember my in-laws looking at me like I was crazy. But I had to keep it lighthearted because if I let myself think about how I was feeling inside I knew I would lose it.

So right before surgery, the nurses came in to prep me. And that IS when I lost it. I'd never had surgery in my life. Heck, I'd never stayed in a hospital before. And now I was being whisked away for a surgery to bring my baby into this world 2 months early. I remember bawling. Normally when a woman is taken through the doors in the Women's Pavilion they push a bell and this happy sound chimes alerting everyone that a baby was just born or was about to be born. The nurse wheeling me to surgery explained this to me and then pushed it as we went through the doors. That just made me cry even harder. This was supposed to be the happiest moment of my life and all I could do was cry - and not tears of joy either. I was petrified. My biggest, number 1 fear (that I refused to say aloud until the whole ordeal was done) was that they'd bring my baby out, but that he or she wouldn't cry. I remember that fear clear as if it all happened yesterday. So here I am, unable to control myself. I'm a sobbing fool and as they are trying to give me the epidural you want to know the next thought that went through my mind? "Ashley, get it together or else you'll be shaking so much that they will stab that long-ass needle in your spine and you'll be paralized." LOL Yah, I admit it. I had that thought. But luckily it all went fine.

They got done prepping me and it looked like they were about to start and Jeremy wasn't there yet. So I proceed to freak out (again!). Well wouldn't you?!? Finally they bring him in. But I found out later, they brought him in after they had already cut so he got to see me in all my glory. Thank God he loves me!

Anyway, he sat with me and held my hand and wiped away my tears. And finally, FINALLY, I heard the most beautiful thing in the entire world. I heard my baby's cry . . . oh heck, who am I fooling? His SCREAM. He was screaming at the top of his lungs. But it was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard. I sighed a huge breath of relief at that moment. And then Dr. Dixon held my baby over the sheet and revealed that we had a handsome little boy. But then he was immediately whisked over to the neonatologist for inspection. Jeremy was able to go with him to the NICU while I was being stiched up. Then we met back in the rocovery room and decided on his name: Donovan Knox Daniell. Jeremy went out to tell the parents that we had a healthy (relatively speaking) baby boy. My parents came back to see me. (They had arrived at the hospital right after I had been taken for surgery). Jeremy's parents came back to see me. And finally I was able to go see Knox. He was so tiny. But they let me hold him. And I'm pretty sure I cried all over again.

You'd think the ordeal was over right? But no. My liver enzymes were still elevated so I ended up having to stay in the labor and delivery ward for another full day (instead of going up to the family unit). And while in L&D I had to stay on the magnesium. That stuff really messed me up. I hated it. I felt like I couldn't focus on anything, and it gave me this horrible headache and made me nauseas. Yuck. I felt so bad I wasn't able to go up to see Knox that next day at all. :-( Friday, October 1st, I was finally able to move up to the family unit. But that was difficult in and of itself. Because I saw all these other moms walking around with their babies. And I didn't have mine. I spent a lot of time up there crying to myself. But Jeremy was with me and tried to keep me peppy and we'd go visit Knox every chance we got.

So yah, that's a really long birth story. And it doesn't even go into the next full month of craziness that we went through until we were able to bring our little man home. But he's with us now. And he's thriving. I mean THRIVING. The boy is a chunker! That's his nickname: the chunky monkey. Mainly because so many of the clothes he was given had monkeys on them. But at 5 months old he is now 12 pounds. He has almost trippled his birth weight. And he's happy and he laughs and he's mine.
This week we are up for our next little adventure in his life - surgery on his hemangioma. But I realized through this entire process that I've got to let things go. Life has it's own plan most of the time. And I just have to go with the flow. Live each day. Cherish all the small moments. And shower him with kisses every chance I get.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Amazing Ziti

This is another delicious recipe and it doesn't take too long to make.

Amazing Ziti
Serves 4

1 pound ground beef
2 cups shredded carrot (I left this out when I made it because I didn't have any on hand)
2 (10.75 oz) cans condensed tomato soup
8 oz dried cut ziti pasta (about 2.5 cups)
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
1 cup shredded Colby cheese (4 oz)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (1 oz)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook ground beef over medium heat and add shredded carrot, chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, fresh or dried basil, and garlic powder into meat mixture. Cook until meat is brown.

3. Drain off fat and stir in tomato soup.

4. Cook ziti according to package directions.

5. In a 4 quart Dutch oven pan pour in meat mixture, mozzarella cheese, and cooked ziti.

6. Sprinkle top with parmesan and Colby cheese. Bake for 35 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

I know I haven't posted any recipes lately. It's not that I haven't been trying new recipes because I have. I just haven't taken any photos of the recipes. So I figured I shouldn't post them. But I've decided to just go ahead and post some of these recipes. After all, it's not fair to deny you the deliciousness of some of these recipes just because I was too lazy to take any photos of the final product.

This first recipe is one of my favorites. Mainly because it's not only delicious, but it is SO easy! This is one of those recipes that you can easily keep all materials on hand and then when you are short on time for dinner, this is the perfect recipe to pull out. It literally takes about 20 minutes. Perfect! Plus, it makes plenty for left-overs.

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

2 cans of Veg-All
2 cans of condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cans of canned chicken meat
3 packages of PIllsbury Crescent Rolls
1 package (2 cups) of shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Mix the cream of chicken soup, drained cans of Veg-All, the canned chicken meat, and the milk in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a little salt and pepper to season. Once mixture starts to bubble take off of the heat.

3. Spray cooking spray on casserole dish or metal baking dish. Line the bottom and side of the dish with the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (usually takes 2 packages).

4. Pour mixture into the lined dish. Top mixture with cheddar cheese.

5. Cover the dish with the remaining Pillsbury Crescent Roll. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the crust on top looks golden brown.

See? That's all. It's so easy! I love this recipe!!