Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meet the new man in my life...

Hello everyone!  It's good to be back after experiencing the craziness of having a newborn!

Not that the craziness has totally subsided... :)  I'm sure fellow parents would say something to me along the lines of...

"Oh, Denise....It's just beginning!"

I am so excited about this new adventure of parenthood and should probably add making-stupid-faces-at-my-son-until-he-cracks-a-smile to my list of favorite weekend activities.

Without further ado, meet our little man and a wonderful gift from God, Brayden....

Newborn Photos by CB Portraits

Brayden's First Christmas

He likes...

Smiling at silly faces, Daddy's voice, and "singing" along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

He doesn't like...

Being sleepy, pans clanging at Red Robin when he's trying to go to sleep, and interrupting mealtime for a burp

New tricks...

Rolling from tummy to back, doing a 180 in the crib, and grabbing the toys on his activity mat

Interesting fact...

Brayden's name combines the first three letters of my and Brandon's name with a "y" in the middle.  This was totally by accident...it wasn't until he was about 2 months old that we realized it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

36 Weeks...Almost There!

This is getting exciting! We're so close to meeting our little guy.  Hospital bags are packed.  Nursery is done (enough, anyways).  :)  

Does anyone else feel like time is standing still?

Official due date is... 
October 13, 2011

Our baby is the size of a... 
A LARGE Cantaloupe, 19-22 inches long, and 6 lbs...and I have the stretch marks to prove it!


Sorry, we're keeping this quiet until the precious little one arrives.  We do know his name will start with a B, following a Brinkmeyer family tradition.  Can't wait to tell you!

Feeling the baby move...
 Still moving at daytime...movement seems to be more shifting than kicking now.  He does seem to have a favorite spot...he conveniently likes to park it right in my ribs. :)  The hiccups are pretty often now, probably once a day or every other day.  Feeling my sweet Baby B move will probably be what I miss most about pregnancy once it's over.  

Anything sweet!

Between bathroom trips several times a night, this huge belly I'm lugging around, and the hormones, fatigue is as present as ever.  Seriously, my belly sits on my lap now...no joke...it's weird.

Preparing for B's Birthday...

 Finished birthing classes and bags are packed for the hospital.  Doctor's appointments are weekly from here on out.  Still working, but have cut back slightly on workload and hours.  

Baby B, I can't wait to meet you and hold you in my arms.  Stay in my belly a little bit longer to get nice and strong.  Mommy & Daddy love you so much already!  We'll be anxiously awaiting your arrival!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekend in Gettysburg

There's something pretty awesome and a little spooky about walking on the land where Civil War soldiers fought and many died almost 150 years ago!

Brandon and I decided to visit the famous battlefield of Gettysburg for the weekend and brush up on our Civil War history.  Let me just say, I was confused for about 90% of the time.  I work with numbers on a daily basis, not war strategy!  Once I established who was red and who was blue, following along with the guidebook and CD wasn't nearly as difficult. :)

Weekend Itinerary:

Saturday morning - Visitors Center to buy a guidebook and CD for the AUTO tour.  They have a great route that you can drive your car on, with marked stops.  Perfect for pregnant ladies who you most definitely won't find walking across battlefields in 85 degree heat!  We did the first two hours of touring, then off to EAT!

Saturday lunch - Appalachian Brewing Company...highly recommended!

Saturday afternoon - 2 more hours of touring.  I left with much respect for those that participated in the hard-fought battles in Gettysburg and enjoyed learning about the history that took place on those expansive grounds.  By the way, the Union won...I think. :)

Saturday dinner - Dobbin House (claims to be the oldest building in Gettysburg) - the basement "tavern" has the neatest atmosphere and great food.  Then, ice cream and a stroll in downtown Gettysburg.

Sunday - lazy morning, ate breakfast at the hotel, and drove back home.

Good times. :)

Great weekend.  Thank you to those who fight for our freedom...past, present, and future!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

FLYing and Feelin' Good

There are many times in my life where I've taken a hard look at myself and said, "Self, we need to make a change here.  This nonsense cannot go on any longer."  There are a few times in my life where I've actually made a change that was lasting.

I've began to notice recently, though, there is a common thread to these times of lasting change...

1. Baby steps...and I mean really small baby steps.  One of my favorite inspirational quotes is "Progress, Not Perfection."

2. A support person/people

3. Prayer/Praise to God

4. Exchanging negative thoughts for positive ones

For a very long time, I've struggled with keeping up with housework.  Even though it's just the hubs and I in a fairly small townhome, we had an extremely hard time motivating ourselves to clean.  Dusting, vacuuming....no thank you.  We even had a hard time keeping clothes off the floor, dishes out of the sink, and I'm ashamed to admit that the bed was only made when company came over.  I know, it was bad.  Remember this???...

and this...

Those were my New Year's resolutions.  Yeah, that lasted about two days!

UNTIL 2 MONTHS AGO...when I stumbled upon this extremely helpful lady, self-titled Fly Lady, who has sympathized, encouraged, and nudged me to make a lasting change when it comes to keeping up with housework.

WARNING...she's a little on the goofy side, and at first I thought it was a little too much for me...but then, I started to notice all her antics were WORKING!  

Our sink has been dish-free every night for two whole months and our bed has been made every morning for about one month!!  It feels so good to make these changes in our home and we're taking baby steps every day toward a cleaner/happier home.

If you would like to try out the Fly Lady, I suggest starting here.  Read what she's all about, then decide for yourself if it's something you'd like to pursue.  Trust me, it's totally manageable...oh, and it's totally free, too.  

I signed up to get the daily email, which I highly recommend (make sure you sign up for the daily digest and not all emails, or you could end up getting several emails each day).  It keeps me motivated and inspired to keep going!

Hope this helps your family as much as it has mine!!  Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nursery Progress and 30 Week Update

Three-quarters of the way there! Here's the update on the nursery and the 30-week bump pic...

Bedding Set

Brandon picked up this little Model A Tractor because it reminded him of his Grandpa's.  Next goal is to get some floating shelves to display it on.

The comfiest chair in the house...I seriously want to fall asleep every time I sit in it.  I'm enjoying some reading time in it now.  The quilt was made by my Aunt Debbie and has cute little Dr. Seuss fish on it!

Also, we purchased one of the cube bookcases from Target.  We'll be adding the linen storage cubes in every other slot.  Then, a lamp and some other decor will be on top.

Cute little baby shoes all lined up and ready to go!

This baby has more clothes than we do!  They're all so adorable.  We're all waiting for you, Baby B...even the clothes!

Valance for the window that matches the bedding set.  These walls need a lot more color, for sure!  I'm planning a couple projects to do just that!

And the 30 week shot...we're so close!  Did I mention I feel HUGE?

Official due date is... 
October 13, 2011

Our baby is the size of a... 
A Head of Cabbage, 16 inches long, and 3 lbs.  We've both been doing a lot of growing!


Sorry, we're keeping this quiet until the precious little one arrives.  We do know his name will start with a B, following a Brinkmeyer family tradition.

Feeling the baby move...
 All day! Luckily, he sleeps when I do...or else I'm too tired to notice. :)

Granola bars

The tiredness that I experienced in the first trimester is starting to creep back (among other pleasantries like heartburn, ect.) ...could be due to not sleeping that well though.  I'm sure God is just preparing me for Baby B's arrival...can we start preparing a little later maybe, God?? Just a small request. :)

Preparing for B's Birthday...
 Birthing classes start this week.  Right now, I'm typing this on an exercise ball...heard it's supposed to help get you into shape for labor...we'll see! Also, doctor's appointments are every two weeks now as opposed to every month.  We're coming in on the finish line, folks! Can't wait!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Freezer Meals + Best Lasagna Recipe EVER!

WARNING: There is some intense nesting about to happen here.  Call it pregnancy hormones or God intervening when your body just doesn't want to help you get things done...whatever it is...I'm in it deep. Just ask my husband.  He'll tell you about the new cleaning program we are on. :)

For now, I'm all about the freezer meals...anything that I can cook double of and store part of it for before or after the baby arrives is right up my alley lately!

One of my first freezer meals is my all-time favorite lasagna recipe from allrecipes.com.  You HAVE to try this!  There is something about the sauce that makes this an incredible dish.  

You can find the original recipe here on allrecipes.com.

I put my version of this recipe and modifications below.

World's Best Lasagna from Allrecipes.com (with changes by me)


  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. salt + 1/2 tsp. for ricotta mixture
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (1/2 for sauce and 1/2 for ricotta mixture)
  • 9-12 lasagna noodles (I can only fit 3 2/3 noodles per layer in my 9 x 13 pan)
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (I don't usually measure this, but just sprinkle generously)


  1. Fill a 9 x 13  pan with warm water and soak lasagna noodles while preparing remainder of recipe.  This is a time saver!
  2. In a large sauce pot, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Drain, if needed.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley. Simmer on medium low heat, covered, for about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, 2 Tbsp. parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F if you plan to bake lasagna now.  This lasagna is always better if it sits in the fridge overnight!
  5. To assemble, spread thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish or (2) 8x8 inch baking dishes. Arrange layer of noodles over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese. Spoon about 3 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray. If you put it in the freezer, put a layer of plastic wrap down before the foil.  Just make sure you remove the plastic wrap and recover with foil before cooking!
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool before serving. Enjoy!

Other freezer meals attempted so far:

Canadian Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

More to come...I've still got 11 weeks of nesting to go! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Growing...Nursery, Belly, and Garden

Wow, this is becoming very real.  

We're putting together cribs...

...preparing physically and mentally for 10 diaper changes a day...

...buying Dr. Suess books...

...and hanging tiny clothes in preparation to meet our son.  And we couldn't be more excited...and nervous...and freaked out...

but mostly excited. :) 

23 weeks. Baby B is the size of an ear of corn and almost 1-1/2 lbs.  Growing, growing, growing!

Speaking of growing...I'm exercising my green thumb this year and planted my first garden!  But similar to my actual exercise regimen, it is strictly low-key. :)  With the limited space around our small townhouse, there is not much room for anything extravagant.  In any case, despite the operator errors, I have come to love watching these plants grow from little tiny seeds.

Here's what's growing...or not growing...or thinking about growing...

Sweet Basil, my favorite herb.  When I was in Italy, almost every restaurant had what was called Insalata Caprese.  Yum, yum, yum.

Here's the simple recipe perfect for summer.

I feel like this cilantro is going to be an "error" in my trial-and-error gardening philosophy.  Better luck next year!

Green beans in a pot...also looking like an "error."  Has anyone ever successfully grown green beans in a pot?  Let me know if there is hope!

Tomatoes...so far, so good!

The towers o' lettuce.

3 onions and the crazy mint that would grow no matter how hard I try to kill it.

And what's not shown...

Lavender, sage, and oregano (hiding behind the towers of lettuce)
Dill (decided it no longer liked pickles and stayed underground)
Rosemary (indoors and GREAT in mashed potatoes!)
Chives (on the other side of the house)
Spinach (eaten by the wascally wabbits)


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