Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Four Months Old














Dear Will,

The months go by way too fast. I feel like I can barely remember when you were a fresh-faced, tiny newborn. Now you're my big boy, discovering new things each and every day.

The official stats from your four month check-up are 14 pounds and 25 inches. That's a little light in weight and about average in height. Of course to Mama, you're absolutely perfect in every way.

You found your hands this month, and now have no trouble clasping them together and sucking on your fingers. Grasping toys is still a little difficult, but you love to try and get them up to your mouth.

You started pre-teething, which means lots of drool and sore gums. You love to gnaw on Sophie the Giraffe or any of your refrigerated teethers. Daddy's fingers are also a favorite.

Your sore mouth makes for some pretty brutal nights. You've been waking every hour or so in pain (poor little guy). You just need your pacifier and a little soothing to go back asleep, but Mama and Daddy are even more tired than usual (if that's even possible).

You recently realized that Stella exists. Whenever she's in the room, you follow her intently. I can't wait until I can take you both outside to play in the spring. You will love watching her run around.

You used to nap whenever we were out and about, but now you stay awake for most of our outings. You (usually) sit quietly in your car seat taking in the lights, sights and sounds. To Mama's delight, you seem to really enjoy Target.

We introduced you to your high chair and Bumbo seat this month. You still don't have a ton of core strength, so you tend to get frustrated after 5 or 10 minutes. But you seem to enjoy seeing the world from a new vantage point (and Mama appreciates having both hands free for a bit).

You're Mama's sensitive boy, a little fussy and prone to overstimulation. If you don't like something, you're not afraid to let us know it. Sometimes when you're really upset, only Mama will do. It just warms my heart to know how much you need me.

I love you, my darling boy.

Hugs and kisses,

Mama

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Miracle

Christmas Eve turned out to be a big day for our little guy. First, Will slept through the night (9PM to 7AM). Then he rolled over.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Helmet head

We see a specialist next Wednesday regarding Will's flat head and whether or not he'll need a corrective helmet. Even though the doctor assures me I did nothing wrong, I feel an incredible amount of guilt about it. I should have done more tummy time, I shouldn't have let him nap in his car seat, etc.

I've been reaching out to friends of friends recently to talk to them about their kids' experiences with helmet therapy. The consensus is that it sucks. People will stare. People will make rude comments. But your kid's head will get better. And really, that's what's most important.

Here's the thing: I know this is fixable, and that we'll barely remember it in a few years. But right now it feels really major. Not that I expect Will to be perfect, but you don't want even the slightest thing to be wrong with your kid. Picturing him in a helmet 23 hours a day just breaks my heart. I can't imagine not being able to kiss and smell his sweet little baby head whenever I want (I'm crying as I'm typing this).

I know I should just relax until we see the specialist, but it's so hard. I continue to read and research everything I can get my hands on. This is one of the better articles I've found (it wasn't loading correctly on my computer, but just scroll down to read the text).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Good Things

  1. Will was a champion napper today! And he was smiley and happy all day. Coincidence? I think not.
  2. I finished all our Christmas shopping. Presents are wrapped and ready to go.
  3. A dear friend shared that she's pregnant! Yippee!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Good Things

  1. Christmas pageant at church. I actually teared up thinking about how Will will be in one some day.
  2. Frosting cookies with the fam. I love holiday traditions.
  3. Having 20 minutes to myself to take Stella for a walk.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Things

  1. The doctor said Will may not need a helmet! He said even seriously flat heads can round out on their own, so we're going to re-evaluate in a few weeks (I'm cautiously optimistic).
  2. Will did 45 minutes of tummy time today.
  3. I took Stella for a walk (good for both of us).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Things

  1. Big, slobbery kisses from Stella after being gone for four days.
  2. A child who enjoys the car. It makes travel so much easier.
  3. An unexpected day off with Ben. The simplest, most ordinary days are often the best.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good Things

  1. The Minneapolis skyway system. We shopped all day without having to head out into the blizzard!
  2. Grandparents. They love to change diapers and soothe crying babies.
  3. Christmas carols. It's been nice to sing a few new songs to Will.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Good Things

  1. Leisurely road trip with Ben and Will (I so appreciate that my child loves the car).
  2. Lounging in a hotel room in downtown Minneapolis with my mom and sister.
  3. Catching up with a few of my oldest friends, and finding inspiration that Will's fussiness will too subside.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Good Things

  1. I read four books to Will today.
  2. I exhibited exceptional patience during a especially trying bedtime fit.
  3. I had coffee with a dear friend who just "gets it" (and always shares husband stories that make me laugh).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good Things

My therapist wants me to keep a gratitude journal, in which I identify a few things that I'm thankful for or proud of every day. And since I enjoy oversharing online, I thought I'd just keep it here. Enjoy...
  1. A massage appointment, courtesy of the best husband ever.
  2. Lunch (and time to vent) with a friend and fellow new-mom.
  3. Enjoying a beer in the name of increased milk production.
  4. Celebrating Will's four month birth day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stumbling

So I'm seeing a therapist. And I'm on a waiting list to see a shrink that specializes in postpartum depression. She books three months out. Apparently there are a lot of crazy moms out there.

Simply put: postpartum depression is kicking my ass. After my original post a few months ago, things got a little bit better. I was still sad some days, but I didn't feel the crushing sadness that plagued me during Will's first few weeks. I started my grad program, and even aced my first class. Will wasn't (and still isn't) sleeping great, but Ben and I worked out a sleep schedule that allowed me to get two 3-4 hour stretches a night. Not ideal, but manageable.

Then a few weeks before Thanksgiving everything changed. I couldn't concentrate. My insomnia was back. I was extremely weepy and emotional. The smallest things would send me over the edge. I had to drop my second graduate class. I started pulling away from Ben, and stumbling through my days with Will. I was barely present in my own life.

I still don't want to be on medication, but I know something has to give. My therapist and I are working on holistic and homeopathic alternatives for wellness, like diet, exercise and positive self-talk. But if I'm not seeing improvement by the time I see the psychiatrist in January, medication may be my only option.

I hate that I have this. I hate that I'm sad all the time. I hate that I can't just "snap out of it". I hate that I'm pushing my loved ones away. I hate that I'm not fully present for Will. I hate that I haven't been able to fully enjoy the first few months of his life.

But I'm proud of myself for seeking help, and I believe I can and will get better. I want to be the best I can be for my partner, my child and myself. I want to feel like "me" again.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The writing on the wall

Sigh. We're a few weeks from having to supplement with formula. This makes me so sad, but the reality is that Will eats more breastmilk than I produce, and our frozen supply is beginning to dwindle.

If you recall, I've been pumping full-time since Will was 3 weeks old. This is terribly difficult, but I think breastmilk is so important. At first, I made more milk than Will needed to eat, so we were able to freeze a fair amount. But my supply has started to dip, and we've been using frozen milk nearly every day for the past month. I only have 21 ounces of frozen milk remaining (we had nearly 3 times that at one point), so Will will probably have his first taste of formula before Christmas.

I found an organic formula that I like (Earth's Best), but it's just not as good as breastmilk. Supplementing with formula is really hard for me to swallow (pun intended), but we weren't very good at nursing and the pump simply can't maintain my supply like a suckling baby can. I will pump as long as my body wants to make milk, so it's not that he won't be getting any breastmilk. But I believe in the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and I'm bummed we won't make it.

I'm trying to remember that any breastmilk is better than no breastmilk, and four months of exclusive feeding is a darn long time. But still, I'm disappointed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Three Months Old














Dear Will,

I packed up all of your 0-3 month clothing a few weeks ago (tear). We didn't have a doctor's appointment this month, but I'm guessing you're about 13 pounds now. As I tell you nearly every day, you're "so big!"

You've started sleeping for slightly longer stretches. You made it for 7 hours uninterupted a few times, but usually it's more like 5 hours (still, I'll take it). You like your crib and generally go down easily. I love reading and singing to you before you go to bed, but sometimes you're so tired that you demand to be put down right after your jammies are on. You like your pacifier to fall asleep, and will usually put the back of your hand over your eyes. Dramatic, but adorable.

When I get up with you in the middle of the night you're all smiles. I try so hard not to engage you too much so you'll go back to sleep, but you're so darn cute. You usually wake up a second time before Daddy goes to work, so he's able to give you your AM bottle and let Mama sleep in a bit (woot). He loves the smacking noise you make right before he feeds you.

Last month you gave us your first smiles, but this month you started smiling socially. It's so fun to watch you interact with the people around you. Daddy and I sit over you and make the goofiest faces just to get you to grin and giggle. Your laugh sounds something like a combination coo/gasp. Sometimes you get so excited when you're laughing that you stretch your legs and kick your feet.

Another month come and gone. I can't believe how time flies. I love you so much.

Mama

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Flat Head

Will has a wicked flat spot on the back of his head.

I called the pediatrician in a panic. He said it happens, and that he'd look at it at our appointment in a few weeks. In the meantime, we should do more tummy and side time throughout the day. But I'm convinced Will is going to need one of those sad baby helmets.

I'm pretty sure this is a direct reflection on my child care abilities. Parenting fail.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Two Months Old


















Dear Will,

I really need to write these letters more promptly. But it's time you realized this about your mother: I'm a bit of a procrastinator and I tend to take on way to much.

Case and point: I'm sitting at the library right now attempting to write your two month letter before you turn three months, when I should be working on any of the three papers I have due for my graduate program in two weeks. But I digress. More about you, less about me.

This might come out wrong, but sometimes I can't believe you're only two months old. In many ways, it feels like you've been a part of our lives forever. Though Mama still fondly recalls some of the perks of our pre-you life (like sleeping and seeing our friends), I can no longer imagine a world without you in it.

In the last month, you've shown much more interest in your surroundings. You love the mobiles over your changing table and crib. You stare intently at faces, and have a near obsession with ceiling fans.

Miraculously, your colic has started easing a bit. You can still wail with the best of 'em, but we're definitely seeing an improvement. Recently, on a particularly fussy day when I was starting to think that motherhood might not be for me, you actually smiled. Smiled. Be still my heart, you are just the cutest thing on earth. Every fussy day, dirty diaper and spit-up on shirt were suddenly totally worth it.

You love bath time, which we now do every night as part of your bedtime routine. You splish splash in the warm water and always look surprised when I gently pour water over your head. I love to wrap you in your froggy towel when we're done, my snug little bug.

You still have that incredible baby smell. I know I should put you in your crib more when you sleep, but I just love to hold you and breathe in your baby-ness.

You're my snoozy boy, sleeping on and off all day and night. At most, you sleep for about three hours at a time. This is particularly hard overnight (though you don't seem to mind). Daddy and I are tired, but hanging in there. I'm amazed by how little sleep we can function on. But do us a solid and try and sleep just a little bit longer between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

This is the month that I would have gone back to work. Though I miss my co-workers and the stimulation of the office, I can't imagine having to leave you every day. You're my little buddy, and I'm grateful to be able to spend my days with you.

I love you always.

Mama

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On being a stay-at-home mom

Some days being a stay-at-home mom is really tough. The baby cries all day. I change more diapers than I can count. I don't talk to an adult until Ben gets home.

But other days, being a stay-at-home mom is simply awesome. Like today. Will and I snuggled in bed for an hour. He gazed up at me while he ate his bottle. We read books and sang songs. He giggled as I kissed his fingers. We practiced standing, reaching and grabbing. He smiled over and over again.

And that makes it all worth it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What we've been up to

Remember when I had time to blog? Oh yeah, that was back when I got 8 hours of sleep a night and had a social life.

Will has been a busy boy lately. We've been traveling a ton. In the past three weeks we've been to southern Wisconsin and upper Michigan for weddings. And this Saturday we're spending the day in Door County.

Tuckered out from all that activity.














At my dear friend's wedding outside of Dodgeville, Will got to meet his future BFF Milo (when your moms are BFFs and you're born within three months of one another, it pretty much guarantees you too will be BFFs).

Lil' buddies, rocking their stripes.














Then uncle Andy and aunt Mandy got married in Rapid River, Michigan. Will was one of 17 guests present, so he felt pretty special to be involved. He had a fly little outfit just for the occassion.

Voted second best dressed (after the bride).














Fair warning: blogging probably won't become more regular until a) Will miraculously starts sleeping through the night or b) winter break. Stay-at-home parenting and graduate school are keeping me pretty busy, and I still need to make time for running (my first post-baby 5K is in 6 weeks), mindless TV watching, and eating. Priorities people, priorities.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Breast feeding

For me, the most shocking thing about having a baby was how hard breast feeding was. I just assumed it would be very natural and intuitive. Put baby to breast. How hard could it be?

As it turns out, breast feeding can be exceptionally difficult. Will and I struggled with it for weeks. He would get terribly frustrated, and I was in a lot of pain. As it turns out, we couldn't seem to get a good latch. Even after multiple meetings with a lactation consultant and two La Leche League leaders, we just couldn't make it work.

Three weeks ago we stopped nursing and started bottle feeding. I felt terribly guilty about this, but then I realized it was breast milk, not breast feeding, that was important to me. I'm still a little disappointed that we can't nurse, but at least he gets my milk every time he eats.

I pump 6-7 times a day to maintain my milk supply. My goal is to give Will breast milk for at least 6 months. But pumping exclusively is a lot of work. I get a lot of plugged ducts since the pump isn't as effective as Will in draining my breasts. And yesterday I came down with a nasty case of mastitis, a breast infection. I'm on antibiotics now, but I feel terribly achy and sore all over.

Will's colic doesn't seem to be easing any, and we're starting to consider whether he's reacting to something in my breast milk. I'm off caffeine and chocolate as a test, but I'm also considering whether he could be sensitive to dairy. Some mothers report a drastic change in their child's mood when they remove certain foods from their diet. But the lactation specialist I spoke with said it's likely coincidental. Though you eliminate "trouble" foods and the baby starts to improve, it could also be that he's just grown out of it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mom Milestone

Baby spit-up down my back. Nice.

No one said this would be glamorous.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Month Old













Dear Will,

It's amazing how much you've changed in just four weeks. You're growing like a weed. A mere 6 pounds 8 ounces when we left the hospital, you now weigh over 10 pounds.

You're a ferocious eater. Though I was sad we had to stop nursing, you love your bottles of breastmilk. You fold you hands on your chest and drink contently until you've drained the entire thing.

The benefit to bottle feeding is that Daddy can now help overnight. We take turns getting up, feeding you and rocking you back to sleep. Though I'm tired, I miss you when I haven't seen you for 4 or 5 hours.

You've grown out of all your tiny newborn clothes. Many of the outfits you only wore once. When Daddy and I first dressed you in the hospital to bring you home, those clothes looked so big on you. Now you easily fill out your 0-3 month stuff. When I look at the clothes for 6, 9 and 12 months, I have trouble imagining you getting that big. But you'll be there before we know it.

You have a bit of colic, which makes our evenings a little stressful. You'll grow out of it in the coming weeks, but until then we do our best to cuddle and comfort you. It can be frustrating, but more than anything I feel terrible that you're so uncomfortable.

You still wake every 2-3 hours overnight, but you settle down really well after you've eaten. Our nighttime ritual is a bottle, a bath, a book, and a lullabye. We sing, bounce and rock until you fall back to sleep. I love snuggling with you nestled between my shoulder and my neck.

At one month old, you want to be held all the time. I constantly have you in your Beco carrier or a cloth sling. I'm getting really good at doing things one handed. From cooking to laundry to typing, I've learned how to cuddle you and still cross items off my to-do list.

Our days together just fly by. You love to be one the go. We take daily trips in the stroller or the car. Target, the grocery store and the library are among our favorite destinations. You enjoy the noise and the movement, and easily snooze through all of our errands.

You make the funniest noises and faces. My favorite is your Elvis lip after you've finished eating. We started calling you "Squeaker" several weeks ago because you're always making little pops, squeaks, grunts and sighs. The other day you were moaning like a creeky door while you were sleeping. Whoever coined the term "sleeping like a baby" certainly never met a little boy like you.

Though some days are tiring, I have to remind myself that you will never be this little ever again. I never want to forget how tiny your hands are, or how small and light you are in my arms. Sometimes I just sit and marvel at how perfect you are. I'm so proud to be your mother.

Love,

Mama

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcoming Will

Sorry, this has taken forever to write. But there was a lot to remember!

Will's birth story really begins on Friday, August 6, when my mom arrived for a quick weekend visit. From the moment she got here, we were working. I was a task master... we got my car washed and detailed, went shopping for postpartum clothes, installed the car seat, washed windows, weeded the garden, pruned bushes, hung artwork and cleaned the house. Looking back now, this was most certainly my last "burst of energy" before labor. I remember feeling a little tired, but I just wanted to keep working.

At 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 8, I woke up with what felt like mild menstrual cramps. I didn't think much of them, and went back to sleep.

By 3:30 a.m. the "cramps" were more intense. I couldn't lay down comfortably anymore, so I snuck out of bed and went downstairs to watch some TV. Since I was up and watching the clock, I realized the pains were coming about every 10 minutes. They didn't feel like what I imagined contractions would be like, so I still didn't believe I was in labor. I slept on and off on the couch, until about 7:30 a.m. when my mom and Ben got up.

We ate breakfast, and I continued to monitor the pains. At this point, I was pacing the living room during contractions. They weren't terribly painful if I was moving, but hurt like hell if I was sitting or laying down. We timed them for an hour or so, and then decided to take a walk and run to the grocery store.

By 12:30 the contractions hurt even when I was moving around. They were now coming every 5-7 minutes, lasting about 45 seconds in length. The nurse on call at our OB's office told me to keep monitoring the contractions for another hour or so. By the end of the hour, they were coming every 4-5 minutes, lasting about 60 seconds. The nurse suggested we head up to the hospital. It was 2:00 p.m.

Our bag was already packed, so we just had to grab it and go. As Ben was pulling the car out of the garage, I started crying as I hugged my mom goodbye. "My whole life is going to change." "Yes," she said, "But in the most amazing way possible."

I was so terrified that we'd get to the hospital and I would be barely dilated. I was in a fair amount of pain, and starting to doubt my ability to labor without drugs. I was so relieved when the nurse said I was 3 centimeters along. They moved us to our permanent room and hooked me up to monitor my contractions and the baby's heartbeat for 30 minutes.

We met Sally, our labor nurse, who was really supportive and excited about our natural birth plan. Since I was declining an epidural and everything looked good on the monitor, I was free to labor out of bed. Ben and I walked the halls of the labor and delivery ward, pausing to sway my hips when a contraction hit. After about an hour, I started to get really tired. It was 4:00 p.m., and I had been up for over 12 hours.

I laid down in bed and tried to rest in between contractions. After a little while, Sally came in and suggested I keep walking to move labor along. We got back out of bed and kept pacing the halls.

Around 5:00, the contractions were so intense that my knees buckled. I had so much pressure in my bottom. Sally checked me and I was already 9.5 centimeters. I had only been laboring at the hospital for 2 1/2 hours. Sally called the doctor and asked me if I felt like pushing. I didn't yet, but I was in a ton of pain. I couldn't find a comfortable position, and the contractions were constant. I was kneeling on all fours on my hospital bed when my water finally broke.

The doctor got to our room at 5:35 p.m., but I still had a small lip of my cervix remaining. I now had the urge to push, so the doctor pulled on my cervix to help me dilate the last little bit (this hurt like hell).

Since I didn't have an epidural, the doctor had my hold my own legs and curl my upper body around my belly. I remember thinking that I just wanted someone to help me hold my legs! I was exausted, but it was the most effective position to get the baby out.

Though pushing was tiring, there were breaks between contractions so I could rest. As I would start feeling the next contraction ramp up, I would almost start to cry. It was always hard to start pushing, but once I got going it wasn't so bad. Even without drugs, I couldn't feel the baby coming down, so I had no concept of the progress I was making. I remember thinking that the pushing wasn't doing anything. It just hurt.

The nurse and the doctor both said I was doing great, but I didn't believe them. It felt like I'd been pushing forever and it seemed like nothing was happening. Then I felt the "ring of fire", an intense burning and stretching as the baby crowns. Ben said he could see the baby's head... we were almost done! The doctor asked me if I wanted to touch the baby or use a mirror to see him coming out. Um, hell no. That was just one more step between the pain I was feeling and getting him out.

So I buckled down and pushed with everything I had. The burning got worse and worse. I thought it was never going to end, and then I felt a great release. As Will's head, shoulders and body emerged, all of my pain vanished. It was 6:02 p.m. Will was born after a mere 26 minutes of pushing (for the record, it felt like way longer).

Will started screaming immediately and the doctor put him on my chest. I couldn't believe I was holding my son. He was tiny, pink and perfect.

Ben and I had a few names we liked, but wanted to wait until he was born to pick one. As I was holding our tiny boy, Ben looked at me and said, "I think he looks like a William." And he did. It was who he was meant to be.

After a few minutes Ben cut the cord, and they took Will to the warmer to check his vitals. He had a 1 minute Apgar score of 9 and a 5 minute Apgar score of 10. As Ben and the nurses looked after Will, the doctor delivered the placenta and stitched up my small first-degree tear (with Will out, I happily took pain meds for this). I started thanking Sally and the doctor profusely. I couldn't believe it was over and that I had really done it.

Soon Will was returned to me to try nursing. He had little interest in breastfeeding right away, but snuggled up into my chest and fell asleep. It was amazing to feel his tiny chest rising and falling on my own. All seven pounds of him seemed to melt right back into me.

When I tell anyone that we delivered naturally, they always want to know if I'd do it again. And truthfully, I would. I felt so empowered by my delivery, and I'm really proud of my body.

That being said, I would have never been able to do a natural birth without our Bradley birth class. Labor and delivery is overwhelming and scary. Even with all our Bradley training, I had moments of fear and self-doubt. I can't imagine trying to do this without an informed birth partner and an implicit understanding of the stages of labor.

A million thanks to the team of people that helped us bring Will into the world. I feel very fortunate that we were given the opportunity to have the birth that we wanted. I'm far from an expert, but if I can answer any questions about my experience or give any encouragement to those seeking a natural birth, I'd love to.

Worth a thousand words...

Since I don't have any time to blog, photos will just have to do.

The day I found my thumb!














Mom and I are both tired.














My big sister Stella is a little jealous.














My first bottle.















Bright eyed.














Tummy time.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What no one talks about

Confession: We've had a really rough couple of weeks. I've had a pretty severe case of the baby blues. It got so bad, that Ben had to take time off work on Tuesday to take me to the doctor.

Though I love my son, I haven't felt like myself since he was born. It's more than being tired or overhwhelmed. I can't sleep. I'm anxious. I hardly eat. There have been times when I've felt like a terrible mother, and that I shouldn't have had a baby. I've been profoundly sad, and even had some self-destructive thoughts.

I was so scared to admit this all to the doctor. But it felt better to get everything off my chest. He wasn't shocked or appalled. He didn't call child services. He listened and sympathized. He helped Ben and I develop an action plan on how to start feeling better.

The first step is to get my sleep back on track. Though every new mom is sleep deprived, we're working on a schedule that will help me get 3-4 hours of uninterupted sleep a night. It's OK (and expected) to be tired, but I shouldn't feel unhinged or unstable.

We started bottle feeding breast milk to help ease the nighttime burden. I'm fortunate that I have an exceptional support system in my husband and family. I'm learning to accept their help with a glad heart (whereas before I felt it was my responsibility to just do it all).

My doctor agreed that working on my sleep might be enough to lift me out of my depression. But if it's not, I may have to consider taking anti-depressants. And that's OK. Postpartum depression is normal and nothing to ashamed of.

Before yesterday, I felt like the only person who has ever felt this way. I was shocked by the number of women who have come forward with their own stories of depression, detachment and anxiety after birth. Though it felt better to hear other women had been though it too, it was also very frustrating to know more people can't talk openly about it.

It's my pledge to be very candid about how I'm feeling. I don't want anyone in my life to feel as alone as I did. Baby blues happen to many women, but when that sadness starts to affect how you relate to your family, your baby or yourself, it's time to seek help.

With help from Ben and my mom, I stayed in bed for 11 hours last night. I didn't sleep that entire time, but I rested. And today, I feel more like myself. I still have some anxiety that I'm working on, but things aren't so bleak anymore. I know there will still be hard days. I will be tired and I will be overwhelmed at times. But things don't feel as desperate. And I'm starting to see glimmers of myself again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blog? What blog?

In case you haven't noticed, having a newborn and maintaining a blog don't exactly go hand in hand. Like most new moms, I'm having trouble doing anything other than sleep, eat, mindlessly watch TV or clean the house when Will takes a nap.

It may be the understatement of the century, but being a new mom is exausting. I have completely forgotten what 8 hours of sleep feels like. Will wakes and eats about every 2-3 hours. Most of the time I feel like a 24 hour buffet.

Waking in the middle of the night to feed, change and soothe Will isn't the hard part. When he needs me, I'm on. It's when he starts to drift off to sleep that I realize how tired I am. I carefully place him in his bassinet and give a silent prayer that maybe, just maybe, this will be the moment when he decides he can sleep for 4 hours straight. Yeah, right. I think that one might be awhile.

The truth is that being a mom is tiring, and at times overwhelming. But it's also amazing. So you take the good with the bad. The snuggles with the sleepless nights. The chubby cheeks with the dirty diapers. And you find strength in place you didn't even know existed inside you.

But if he's offering, I'd take a few more hours of sleep a night.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One Week Old














Dear Will,

Today you are one week old. The last seven days have been a combination of joy, exaustion, excitement and fear. The first day we brought you home I was overcome by the sheer responsibility of keeping you alive. Every noise you made in your bassinet would wake me immediately. Is he OK? Is he still breathing? Though I'm still easily roused by your squeaks and cries, I'm starting to learn when you actually need something and when you're just fussing a little.

You smell absolutely amazing. I can't even describe it. I love to kiss your sweet little head and stroke your downy soft hair.

You love to be swaddled. It calms you instantly. But we've started calling you Houdini because you always seem to wriggle your arms out. You'll pull them triumphantly above your head, as if you're saying "ta-da!"

You only sleep for 2 or 3 hours at a time, so Mama is really tired. I'm convinced you'd sleep longer if you weren't such a heavy wetter. You've peed through more diapers, onesies, swaddling blankets and sheets than we can count.

Sometimes when you get really upset, you stop mid-cry and take three short little breaths. "Oh, oh, oh. Oh, oh, oh." I hate to hear you cry, but it's such a sweet little sound.

Daddy is a master diaper changer. He loves to snuggle with you on the couch. In fact, you watched your first Packer pre-season game together last night.

You're a really good little eater. Breastfeeding has been harder than I anticipated, but we're both getting the hang of it. Even though I'm exausted, I love getting up with you to nurse. You look up at me with your beautiful eyes and grab my finger with your tiny little hand.

Nana stayed with us for most of your first week, which was such a huge help. She started singing you the Mister Ed theme song when you got upset. You love it. I had to look up the lyrics online to remember the entire thing, but we bounce and sing "a horse is a horse of course of course" whenever you get upset.

You've changed so much in seven days. I have to remind myself that each stage will be gone before we know it. So even though I'm tired, I'm cherishing every moment.

I love you, my sweet little William.

Mama

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Introducing...

This is William George.














He arrived at 6:02 PM on Sunday, August 8. For those of you keeping track, that was 15 days early.

Labor was fast and furious. I'm proud to report that I did it all naturally. It was the most rewarding, overwhelming, intense experience of my life (more details to follow).














Words can't describe how thrilled Ben and I are. Little Will is perfect in every way.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

For Ben

I know these last few weeks haven't been easy on you. At nine months pregnant, I'm a hormonal mess. I cry at the drop of the hat, grumble constantly about how uncomfortable I am, and lose my temper in a fraction of a second. I get so frustrated with you sometimes. You don't say the right things, you need to be nicer, blah, blah, blah. The truth is you're not doing anything wrong. I'm frustrated with everyone. But as my partner, you bear the brunt of my mood swings. I'm sorry for that.

I don't feel like myself anymore. And as hard as that is for me, it must be equally as hard for you. Who is this person? What did she do with my wife? After my meltdown last night, I expected you and Stella to be half way to Canada by the time I got home. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

I want you to know you're a wonderful partner. You make me laugh. You tell me I'm beautiful. You make me dinner when I'm exausted from working all day. You move at a snail's pace so I can join you and Stella on an evening walk. You remind me to put my feet up and drink plenty of water. You offer to drive to Pick 'N Save at 9:30 at night to get me rice pudding with raisins. You rub my back when I'm falling asleep. You kiss me like you mean it. And you love me unconditionally. Even this swollen, irritable, gigantic version of me. And that says a lot.

We're in the home stretch now. I love you so much.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Overheard

"Next time, let's not be nine months pregnant during the hottest month of the year."

As if that's not the understatement of the century.

Fun Fact

More babies are born in August than any other month. September is not far behind.

What's in the water in November and December? The holidays must put us in a family-friendly mood.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

CSA Week 7: More Tart Cherries

Yes, I know I already posted on tart cherries, but this recipe was too awesome not to share (it had to be pretty tempting for me to turn on my oven). I thought this would be a perfect, homey housewarming treat for my brother and sister-in-law.
















Sour Cherry Slab Pie

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold and diced
3/4 cup ice cold water

Filling

6 cups sour cherries, pitted
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1) Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and diced butter. Pulse until ingredients are well combined and butter is the size of peas.

2) Slowly add 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water over the butter and flour mixure. Pulse to combine. Add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Remove all the dough and gently knead together.

3) Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in a piece of plastic wrap. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

4) Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

5) Remove two pieces of dough from the fridge. Cut one of the pieces in half, and combine with the other piece to make a larger ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the large piece of dough into an 18 x 12 inch rectangle. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible (tossing it in the freezer for a couple minutes if it softens) and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter.

6) Transfer to a 15 x 10 x 1 inch rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper (pastry will hang over sides of pan). Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.

7) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the smaller piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.

8) Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

9) In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar, water and lemon juice until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen (super-fab, must-read cooking blog)

I wanted to try making my own pie crust, but you could probably just buy a store-bought crust and skip to step 4 if you're pressed for time. Don't be intimidated though... the crust was really simple to make. I adapted the Smitten Kitchen's dough recipe for the food processor, but she actually makes it by hand. Read her post on All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough for a quick how-to.

Overall, this was just perfection. The pie's shape and rustic crust look very impressive in the pan, but I cut it up into squares for easier delivery. It would be ideal Sunday brunch.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CSA Week 7: More Summer Squash

Good thing we really like patty pan squash and zucchini, because it is hella plentiful in our CSA. Here's another recipe for summer squash...

Broiled Squash with Thyme

Olive oil
4 medium summer squash
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon fresh parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1) Preheat broiler, and cover broiler rack with aluminum foil. Lightly brush foil with oil.

2) Cut squash into lengthwise slices of fairly uniform thickness (a little less than 1/4 inch). Place slices side by side but not overlapping on broiler rack. Brush generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.

3) Place squash about 4 inches from broiler, and broil about 4 minutes, just until they start to brown.

4) Remove pan from broiler. Turn slices, brush tops with oil and sprinkle with salt. Return to broiler, and again broil until slices begin to brown.

5) Layer slices in serving dish. Drizzle the excess oil from the foil over the squash, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and thyme leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe courtesy of the Food Person

We did this on the grill instead of the broiler and it turned out great. Parmesan cheese wasn't part of the original recipe, but we had some extra in the fridge (and who doesn't love cheese?). As an added bonus, I finally got to use the thyme plant that came in our CSA a few weeks ago. Until now, it's just been lovely decoration on our kitchen window sill.

When we grow up

I'm a creature of habit. So we typically take Stella on the same walk every evening... past the park, around the Paine Art Center and Gardens, through campus and back home.

We often pass a sweet older couple a few blocks into our route. Their house and yard is immaculate, in the way only a retiree's property can be. They sit in two lawn chairs in the shade of their driveway, taking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood.

Every time we go by, they always comment on what a beautiful dog Stella is. We smile, say thank you, and wish them a good evening. It's a moment I've started to look forward to. I find myself disappointed when they're not outside as we pass.

I don't know their names. I don't know their story. But I hope that will be Ben and I in 50 years. Enjoying each others company, and making the day of a young family out for their evening walk.

In case you were wondering about my cervix...

Nothing is happening yet. Nada. Not even a little dilation. I'm locked up like Fort Knox.

Baby is most definately head down though, which I assumed given the constant pressure on my bladder.

I also reached my personal pregnancy hell... the big 2-0-0. That's right, I now top 200 pounds. I am a mere 3 pounds from weighing more than my husband (at which point I will have to kill myself).

I feel like I'm going to be huge FOREVER.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bump Watch

I've gone from round to out. I feel so huge lately.

Nine months pregnant is hard. A lovely combination of large, tired and irritable. As I was telling a friend today, I've pretty much reached my limit by 8:00 or 9:00 every night. I can't stand to be in my own skin after that.

I am officially done with work on August 12. Though I still maintain 08/09/10 would be the coolest birthday ever, it will be really nice to have a few weeks before the due date to clean and rest before baby arrives.

Everyone at work keeps asking whether or not I'll miss working full-time. Truthfully, I won't. I'll miss the little luxuries that two incomes provide, but I'm really excited to stay at home with baby and start graduate school. I feel very fortunate that Ben and I are in a position to live on his income alone. Not every family has that choice.

Our remaining bump watch posts are limited... only one or two remain. Any guesses on the baby's arrival?

A Tale of Two Cookies

I bought two cookies at a local bakery/cafe, intending to bring one home to Ben. I ate my cookie (double chocolate brownie) in the parking lot. And then I ate Ben's cookie (peanut butter oatmeal M&M) in the 10 minutes it took me to get back to work.

Sorry, honey... I tried. Isn't it the thought that counts?

Monday, July 26, 2010

CSA Week 6: Tart Cherries

As our weekly CSA bounty grows more plentiful, so do my CSA recipe posts!

This week we received 5 pounds of Door County tart cherries. Normally, we just gobble up all the fruit from our fruit share, but tart cherries don't exactly snack well. And since it's hot as hell and I don't really feel like baking right now, I decided to take my first tentative steps into canning.















Cherry Pie Filling in a Jar

Makes 2 quarts

10 c. cherries, washed and pitted
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
6 T. cornstarch
5 T. bottled lemon juice

1. Wash and pit the cherries, set aside. Sterilize 2 quart jars along with the lids in boiling water or in a dishwasher run without soap.

2. In a large stockpot bring the water, sugar, corn starch and lemon juice to a boil.

3. Pour in the cherries very carefully and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring continuously with a long spoon. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes while the cherries release their juices and the mixture thickens, becoming bright red and glossy.

4. Set a funnel over a quart jar and ladle in the blueberry mixture, leaving about 1" of room at the top. Repeat with second quart jar.

5. Placed the sterilized lids on the jar and seal them with the rims, only tightening the ring as much as you can with your own hand. Do not force it.

6. Place the jars in a pot of boiling water standing on end. Make sure the water covers the tops of the jars. Boil for 30 minutes, starting the timing when the mixture has returned to a boil after the jars have been added.

7. Remove jars and place in a cool, dry place on a kitchen towel. Allow to cool naturally for a few hours. Store jars for the long term in a cool, dry place until using.

Recipe courtesy of the Naptime Chef (originally Blueberry Pie Filling in a Jar)

Canning intimidated the hell out of me, but this was really easy. I bought simple water bath canning supplies from Fleet Farm for about $25 (canning pot, canning rack and quart jars). You could probably get by with just the jars and a large stock pot, but I wanted the handy canning rack that helps lift the jars out of the boiling water.

I didn't buy a funnel since I couldn't find one with a large enough opening for canning. I will definately get one now though... I burnt the hell out of my thumb while trying to get the hot pie filling into the quart jars. Youch.

Pitting the cherries was definately the most tedious part. It took me about 45 minutes to pit 5 pounds. You can buy a cherry pitter, but I just used a straw to poke out the pits. Tip: Wider straws work better for this. Think McDonald's size straws, or for you local folks, Leon's Frozen Custard.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The ninth month













Today begins my ninth month of pregnancy... only a few more weeks until we meet our baby. This moment used to feel so far away. Now I find myself begging him to stay in there until mama's ready.

All in all, it's been a really easy pregnancy. No morning sickness, no heartburn, not even many cravings. I still sleep well, and I'm generally relaxed. Ben may argue that my hormones have been a touch... frustrating. It's amazing how quickly something can send me over the edge these days. But he's learned what I need to chill out and move on... a few deep breaths, a big hug and an "I love you" is usually all it takes.

Despite the general ease of the past few months, I am starting to get more uncomfortable. I can't sit up or lay down without grunting. And sometimes the baby sits so low in my tummy that I feel like he might fall right out of me. I still manage to walk 1-2 miles every evening, but I walk sooooo slooooowly now. That's probably the biggest indicator of how large I feel. Pre-pregnancy, I was a notoriously fast walker.

I've gained about 26 pounds, which was more than I was hoping for, but within the recommended range for pregnant women (25-35 pounds). I'll probably clear 30 before the baby's born, but that's OK, especially given my recent love affair with ice cream.

We have all the necessary baby gear (and then some). Clothes, diapers and bedding have been washed. The hospital bag has been packed. And Stella will be taken care of while we're gone. We're about as ready as we're gonna be. So now, we wait.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nursery... check!

I'm happy to report that I met my self-imposed nursery deadline of 36 weeks. We have virtually everything we need to care for a baby. Except experience. Or a clue.

Here are a few pictures... I especially love the polka dot rug and white vinyl decals on the walls.

Crib and super cute polka dot rug














Rocking chair and changing table

Friday, July 23, 2010

CSA Week 6: Zucchini

I know I talked about grilled summer squash a few weeks ago, but we're still getting a ton of zucchini and patty pan squash, and this recipe was too good not to share.

Summer Zucchini Bites

2 c. grated zucchini
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Makes approximately 24 mini-muffin sized bites

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Butter a mini-muffin tin, set aside.

2. In a large glass bowl add two eggs and beat lightly with a whisk. Then, add the zucchini, onion, cheddar, bread crumbs and parsley and combine them with a wooden spoon.

3. Using your hands or an ice-cream scoop, fill each muffin cup just to the top. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the top is browned and set.

Recipe courtesy of the Naptime Chef (one of my favorite blogs!)

These were incredible. So fresh and delicious. A must-keep for my recipe box.

We don't have any mini muffin tins, so I made 12 "big bites" in a regular muffin pan. They were very good, though the zucchini remained pretty moist. If you make them in a smaller size, I assume the zucchini would firm up a bit more.

We also topped each bite with a little extra cheddar cheese. This is Wisconsin after all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The new doc

We met the new doctor last night. Our first meeting was awesome. He has a slight accent and says "okee-dokee" a lot. I heart him.

One of the first things he said to us was "you don't have a medical condition, you're having a baby." Swoon. He believes strongly that labor is a natural process, and supports our goal of a natural birth. Right on, doc. You may be the coolest OB ever.

In talking to us about our birth wishes, he asked if we had a birth plan in writing. Why yes, we do. We gave him a copy assuming he'd tuck it in our file, but he actually read it. The entire thing. In front of us. He even offered throughtful commentary. I was really impressed.

He will be out of town for the first two weeks in August. So if we go into labor then, we'll have to work with one of his associates. But if he's in town, he will be there to deliver our baby. Doesn't matter if he's on call or not. That's just how he likes to handle his patients. Sweet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CSA Week 5: Kale

Bonus recipe this week! Kale is one of my new favorite veggies. I love the look and texture of the leaves, and they're really nutrient dense.

I've never cooked with kale, so I asked a friend how she typically prepares it. She suggested gently wilting the greens and topping with a little balsamic vinegar. This is my interpretation of her recipe...

Sauteed Kale with Balsamic Vinegar

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch of kale
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add kale, allow to wilt. Stir in balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

This was a definate hit at our table. The balsamic vinegar took on a lovely sweet flavor when cooked with the greens. We let the kale wilt, but not completely tenderize, so the stems still had a nice bite to them. We'll definately make this again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

CSA Week 5: Swiss Chard

We're already a 1/4 of the way through our CSA! Summer is just flying by.

This week we got lots of great goodies... sweet corn, Swiss chard, kale, peas, beans and more summer squash. Delish! I've never cooked with Swiss chard, so I thought we'd give this recipe a try.

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1 T. garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped seperately
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. fresh Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chard stems and white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, cook just until wilted then remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe courtesy of All Recipes

Truthfully, this wasn't my favorite dish. The chard stems were a little bitter, and the parmesan and wine over-powered the fresh flavor of the greens. I like to taste the veggies I'm cooking with, especially when they come freshly harvested from a farm 30 minutes away.

Old friends

Every summer a group of high school girlfriends and I get together for a weekend sleepover. No husbands, partners or children allowed (unless said children are breastfeeding). Just the five of us. And a lot of food.

We've been doing this annually since 2002, and it's one of my favorite summer traditions. It's funny to look back and see how our lives have changed. From that first summer when we got hammered and flirted with boys at Maggie's northern Minnesota cabin. To this year, when we passed around 6 week old Milo and watched Alyssa get fitted for her wedding dress. I'm always amazed by how much our lives can change in just one year.

I've been friends with these girls for almost 15 years (Alyssa will argue since 6th grade, but I'm not convinced). They knew me when I had glasses and braces, when I was all legs and no coordination. They knew me before I had kissed a boy or gone on a first date. Together, we played sports, went to prom, applied to colleges and got our hearts broken. Together, we navigated the rocky world of adolesence and somehow managed to make it out the other side.

We don't talk everyday. And we're lucky to see each other more than a few times a year. But in many ways our friendship is even stronger than it was back then. It's just effortless. While I will never take them for granted, I love knowing that they are always there for me. And visa versa.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Best trip to the grocery store... EVER

Not only did I get to use the new/expectant mother parking (first time!), but it was also their "brownie tasting event." Score.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Balancing act

Being pregnant with your first child is kind of like jumping into the unknown. You know things are going to be different, but you're not exactly sure how. You try and prepare yourself, but despite your best efforts, parenthood is a club reserved for those actually living it.

What Ben and I know for sure is that our lives will never be the same. Part of what scares me the most is juggling so many important priorities at once. How do we make time for our baby, our marriage and ourselves?

Obviously, it's all baby all the time when you bring your newborn home. That's an adjustment that you can only work on one day at a time. But I appreciated these suggestions from a Bay area blogger on how to be a happier parent in the long-run.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

CSA Week 4: Summer Squash

Nothing fancy this week. Just one of summer's most delicious delights: veggies on the grill.

We got 3 zucchini and 3 patty pan squash in our CSA box. I can think of nothing better then slicing them up, coating lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper, and throwing them on the grill.

The simple seasoning and lovely grill marks make it an ideal (and easy) summer side dish. What's better than that?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rule of Three

Some of my fav bloggers have been doing this lately, so I thought I'd jump on board. Enjoy!

Three names I go by:
Sam
Samantha
Sammy

Which again raises the issue that I've never really had a nickname. Ever.

Three jobs I have had:
Car Hop
Library Assistant
Fundraising Pee-On (er, um, Assistant)

Three places I have lived:
Winona, MN
Madison, WI
Oshkosh, WI

Incidentally, there is only one other place that I've ever lived (Lomira, WI). So I've basically lived within a 200 mile radius my entire life.

Bonus fun fact: Ben's list is exactly the same, as he lived in Winona for one summer while interning at Winona Lighting.

Three favorite drinks:
Coffee
Diet Coke
Wine

Three TV shows I watch:
Grey's Anatomy
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Gossip Girl

Three places I have been:
Italy
Jamaica
Canada (eh?)

Three places I would like to visit:
Spain
Costa Rica
Hawaii

Three favorite dishes:
Chipotle burritos
Warm chocolate chip cookies
Mom's chili

Three things I am looking forward to:
Finishing our deck/fence project
A day trip to Door County or Terre Andre
Meeting our baby!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bump Watch


















My bad... this bump photo is about a week overdue. But here we are at 33 weeks.

You may be interested to know that I can't see my feet anymore. As Ben said this morning, "nothing about pregnancy is glamorous."

Too true.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

CSA Week 3: Blueberries

Yum! Organic blueberries are so incredible. They are so much fresher and sweeter than anything you can get in the super market.

Though our CSA doesn't personally grow blueberries, they partner with a few like-minded farms in Michigan and Door County to get us various summer fruits all season long. This week we got a 5 lb. box of fresh blueberries from Ludec Farms, in addition to our regular Olden Produce vegetable fare (which included an insane amount of lettuce, by the way).

We ate nearly all the blueberries right out of the box, but when a friend posted this recipe for blueberry syrup, I had to try it.

Fresh Blueberry Syrup

3 cups fresh blueberries, washed and sorted to remove any wrinkled fruit
2 cups water
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown or white sugar (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the berries until they break open and are completely soft (about 10 minutes). The berries will turn a dark reddish violet. Pour the berries into a large metal strainer positioned above a large bowl. With a large, sturdy spoon, rub the berry solids through the strainer. There will be very little waste. The skins thicken the syrup and provide the maximum amount of antioxidant benefits blueberries are known for. Serve warm or chilled. Makes 2 cups.

Notes: Since it was just Ben and I for breakfast, I cut the recipe in half. We served warm over waffles. The syrup is pretty thin... I think I'd reduce the water next time. Recipe courtesy of the Well-Seasoned Cook.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My mother, the organizing machine

My mom was in town for a few days this week, so I took Tuesday and Wednesday off to spend some time with her. We got a ton accomplished around the house... organizing the basement, taking a car-full of crap to St. Vinny's, re-arranging the nursery furniture, washing a million baby clothes, and assembling the new deck furniture. Whew! Nothing like a mom to kick household organization projects into high gear.

We also found a few hours for leisure time, with lunch at Caramel Crisp and shopping trips to Target and the Mom and Pop Place. Her visits always go so fast... I was sad to see her go this morning. Thanks a million, Mom!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Goodbye, financial independence

It's crazy to think about, but I only have three pay checks remaining. Only six more weeks of work (and six more weeks of financial independence).

Ben and I have lived blissfully budget-free for the past 4 years. We didn't have a joint-account until a few months ago (which I really liked, by the way). We both happily paid our share of the bills, and spent/saved the remainder as we saw fit.

Now, in just two months, we'll have one account and a strict budget. We'll give up a lot of comforts from our DINK (Dual Income No Kids) days. Like cable, gym memberships and going out to eat. I don't regret or question our decision. It's just going to be a big change (on top of the already monumental change of bringing a new baby home).

So while I probably should save as much of my remaining pay checks as possible, part of me wants to spend while I can! Among my pie-in-the-sky dream purchases... a 13" Mac Book Pro. Perfect for the new mother and graduate student, don't you think? Sadly, one Mac Book = one pay check. Given that math, Ben said it's a hell no.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baby Shower #2














Another super-fab baby shower last weekend! Complete with darling diaper cake made lovingly by Aunt Mandy. A million thanks to all our family and friends for a wonderful party.

On Sunday I sorted and seperated and organized, making the baby's room slightly more manageable. You wouldn't believe all the packaging that comes with tiny clothes and other baby stuff.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just the right size

Add this to the list of inappropriate things that men have said to me in my life...

Weird Man: Damn, you look good with that belly.
Me: Um, ok.
Weird Man: Seriously girl, I would totally tap that.
Me: As you can see, it's already been tapped. But thanks.

Honestly, I wasn't sure whether to feel creeped out, or moderately excited that someone (other than Ben) still finds me attractive.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CSA Week 2: Garlic Scapes

OMG. I love garlic scapes.














I hadn't even heard of garlic scapes until we joined the CSA last year. Basically, they are the tender shoots from a garlic bulb. They poke through the ground and grow all twisty and bendy. If left unattended, they will eventually get hard, white and papery (like a garlic bulb). But if harvested while tender, they give a delicious, light garlic flavor to just about anything.

We've sauteed them in olive oil, added fresh to salads, and mixed with scrambled eggs. But I think my favorite way to use garlic scapes is to make garlic scape "pesto". I say "pesto" because there's no basil. But the end product is green, and it uses nearly all the same ingredients. It's delicious with pita chips or spread on sandwiches. Enjoy!














Garlic Scape Pesto

1 cup of garlic scapes, chopped into 1" sections
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cups fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Use only the tender parts of the garlic scapes, peeling the bottom ends if tough. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat.

In a food processor, combine the garlic scapes and pine nuts, pulse to chop into a rough paste. Add cheese and pulse. With processor running, drizzle in just enough olive oil to achieve a moist spreading consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(Adapted from the Omnivores Solution)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In no particular order

A few random thoughts and recent occurances...
  1. I haven't worn pants with a zipper since April. Just sayin'.
  2. About half way through my iced coffee this morning, I got really jittery and the baby started moving like crazy. Yep, Starbuck's definately missed the "decaf" part of my order. I haven't had caffeine since November... now I remember what I'm missing.
  3. Though Ben believes weeding is an excellent (and utilitarian) way to practice birth exercises, I can't say that squatting in my front yard for an hour or two sounds very appealing.
  4. While the rest of Wisconsin welcomes the official start of summer, I am cursing the hot weather and the stupidly swollen ankles that come along with it.
  5. The baby has been getting hiccups lately. Super cute and incredibly distracting.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baby Shower #1

We had our first baby shower on Saturday! It was so much fun. My cousin, aunts and sister put together an incredible afternoon. The food was amazing, and everyone brought such lovely things for the baby.

We managed to get the entire lot (and Stella) home in one trip. Now the trick is to find some where to store all our new-found baby gear.














Note the gigantic pile of baby clothes and blankets I need to wash. This doesn't even include the stash of 32 cloth diapers and inserts.














And the gorgeous quilt my mom made.














Love, love, love!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Godparents

I'm not sold on the role of godparents. We plan to have a baptism, but if it's up to me, it will be just Ben and I standing at the front of the church.

Though my godfather (who is also my great-uncle) is still involved and interested in my life, most godparents are completely absent. Last weekend, Ben saw his godmother for the first time in 20 years. He wouldn't even have known who she was if his mom wouldn't have been with us.

Traditionally, godparents were chosen to lead a child in their journey with Christ. I can't say I'm eager to pick someone out for that, especially since I'm not sure where I stand when it comes to religion. I like to consider myself spiritual. I believe in heaven and higher power, but I'm not really sure what it all means or how it all fits together.

In the more modern sense, godparents are close friends or family members that you assign to hold a special place in your child's life. I'm all for this. There are several people that I hope have a strong relationship with our child and our family. But shouldn't those relationships grow organically over time? It seems a bit premature to assign someone to a permanent position in your childs life when they are 4 weeks old.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Well, so much for that

Despite our best efforts, we are switching doctors and hospitals.

The insurance issues are just too complicated. So no more midwife care or water birth for me. Bummer.

We meet the new OB at our 32 week appointment. I'm sure she'll be fine and we'll receive excellent care. It's just hard to change this late in the game (we all know how I love the plan).

Our Bradley teacher is also a doula, so we're considering hiring her to help us at the birth. It would be nice to have her in labor and delivery as an advocate for us and our birth plan.

Cloth diapers... read at your own risk!

Disclaimer: I have yet to actually diaper a child in cloth, so my thoughts and recommendations may change. I have done an insane amount of research and talked to several cloth-diapering parents. However, this may be more wishful thinking and first-time mom naivety than anything. 

No judgement to those who use disposable diapers. For many reasons, they are a more convenient option. We will probably use some combination of cloth and disposables, especially when it comes to travel, emergencies and laziness.














Let me begin by saying the world of cloth diapers is incredibly complex. When I first started investigating cloth as an option, I was really overwhelmed. Pre-folds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, doublers, flushable inserts, etc. There are just so many options!

I spent a lot of time asking for input from other parents... those who used cloth and those who used disposables. But the best resource I could find was a local parenting store in Neenah. The staff at the Mom and Pop Place helped me sort everything out. I ultimately chose to purchase most of our cloth diapers and accessories from them. Not only does that give me buying local bonus points, but their prices are really competitive.

So, Sam... why cloth?

I was originally drawn to cloth because I'm uncomfortable with the chemicals used in disposable diapers. Though millions of parents safely use disposable diapers every year, I just don't like the idea of chemicals (bleach, VOCs, dioxin, etc) on my baby's body 24/7. Most disposable diapers offer a moisture-wicking gel core. Though convenient (baby drier longer = less diaper changes), it can also result in more diaper rash and skin irritation.

An equally important benefit to me was the cost savings. It will cost approximately $2,000 to diaper one child until age two. We spent about $700 on cloth diapers and accessories, which should last our child through toilet training. The same diapers can also be used for subsequent children. Even when you factor in the cost to launder cloth diapers, that's a considerable savings.

Finally, disposable diapers are really bad for the environment. One disposable diaper takes up to 500 years to decompose. That being said, I have to confess: the environmental impact was a secondary benefit to me. While I care about how our actions affect the environment, chemicals and cost-savings were my primary motivators.

Alright, cloth it is... what exactly will you use?

As I mentioned before, there are a million options when it comes to cloth diapers (pre-folds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, doublers, flushable inserts, etc). It's worth noting that what works for one family/child will not necessarily work for another. But this is what we purchased based on the following factors:
  1. I am staying home full-time, so I will be the primary child care provider.
  2. I am willing to wash diapers every 2-3 days.
  3. I want diapers that will grow with the baby (rather than graduated sizes).
  4. I want reliable, easy-to-use options for overnight, travel, babysitters, etc.
Based on those factors, here's what our cloth diaper stash looks like:
  1. 12 BumGenius 3.0 Diapers - These are pocket diapers, which means they have a pocket built into the back of the diaper that you stuff with an absorbant cloth insert. The cover is waterproof. You can add a cloth doubler (which is basically an added absorbancy pad), for bedtime, car trips, heavy wetting, etc. They are one-size diapers, meaning they adjust to grow with your baby. These have stretchy Velcro closure, so they fasten more like disposable diapers (which Ben really likes).
  2. 12 FuzziBunz One-Size Diapers - These are also one-size pocket diapers, but they have snap closure and adjustable elastic around the legs.
  3. Tiny Tush Elite Diapers - Again, these are one-size pocket diapers (are you seeing a pattern here?). We have these in snaps and Velcro. The Velcro isn't as heavy duty as the BumGenius, but they have more adjustability.
  4. 3 MonkeyZ Diapers - These are made by a local mom. I bought them mostly for the darling covers (I couldn't resist the cute fabrics). They are all-in-one diapers, so there's no pocket to stuff (just more padding attached to the cover).
  5. 36 flannel wipes - Since you're washing the diapers, it seems just as easy to just wash the wipes. Keep a spray bottle of wipe solution near the changing table, spritz on baby's bottom and clean with a flannel wipe. Cloth diaper and cloth wipe go right into the laundry bag.
Note that there aren't any newborn sizes in there. We plan to use disposables until the baby reaches 8 lbs (the minimum weight for most of the diapers we purchased). My friends at the Mom and Pop Place made this suggestion, as babies wear the newborn size for such a short period of time.

You got your gear... how exactly does it work?

Cloth is a little more work than disposables, but not much. Next to our changing table we have a washable laundry bag. When the baby needs to be changed, the soiled cloth diaper and/or insert gets tossed in the laundry bag for washing.

Breastmilk is water soluable, so until the baby starts on solids, all waste products (#1 and #2) can go right in the laundry bag. When baby starts eating solids, the #2 needs to be removed from the diaper prior to being tossed in the laundry bag. You can scrape or shake poop into the toilet (ew), purchase a diaper sprayer that hooks up to your toilet (better), or use a thin disposable liner inside the diaper (bingo). The liner is a flushable paper product... imagine something between toilet paper and dryer sheet. You just lift out the liner with the diaper change, and either flush down the toilet or toss into a regular garbage can.

Every other day, you take the laundry bag downstairs and wash the entire lot of cloth diapers and inserts (you can also wash the laundry bag). First, you pre-rinse on cold with no detergent to remove any #1 or #2. Then wash in a regular hot water cycle with detergent to get the diapers clean. Hang diapers to dry (diapers can go in the dryer, but line drying extends their life), and repeat in 48 hours.

Other care tips I've picked up along the way...

Cloth diapers require detergent with no dyes or perfumes. Regular detergents can reduce the absorbancy of your diapers (so liquid beads up and rolls off, rather than being absorbed in). If this happens, you can "strip" your diapers with several hot wash cycles, but this can be really harsh on the fabric. Most diaper manufacturers recommend a special cloth diaper detergent, though some mom bloggers just use Tide Free or All Free and Clear (both are available at Target).

You should never use bleach or borax on cloth diapers (especially if chemicals are the reason you went to cloth in the first place). Cloth diapers will never be as sparkling white as when you frist bought them. However, you can cut stains with vinegar and baking soda, or by drying them outside in the sun.

If your diapers have Velcro closure, be sure to secure the Velcro tabs to the side of the diaper prior to washing. If you don't, your diapers will all stick together and come out of the wash as one big, crinkled mess. That may also reduce the efficiency of the Velcro over time.

Whew! Is that ALL?

Yep, that's about it. Every possible thought and opinion I have on cloth diapers. I was really intimidated by cloth at first... I wouldn't even let myself consider it as an option. But the more I learned (products have come a long way from soaking buckets and pointy diaper pins), the more I realized it was a doable alternative.

If you're just getting started, I'd strongly recommend visiting a local speciality store The Mom and Pop Place in Neenah is awesome, and I've ordered some things online from Nicki's Diapers in Madison. Another resource that I really enjoyed was Jillian's Drawers. You can check out their special section New to Cloth for a cloth diaper overview and other suggestions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CSA Week 1: Sugar Snap Peas

Yum... I love cooking from the CSA. It forces you to be so much more creative in the kitchen.

This recipe was adapted from Serving Up The Harvest. Quite possibly the greatest seasonal produce cookbook ever.














Bow Tie Pasta & Farm Fresh Peas

2 cups peas (about 2 pounds in pods)
12 oz. (one box) of bow tie pasta
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add peas to the salted water and boil just until tender (about 3-5 minutes). Scoop out with a slotted spoon. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente.

In the meantime, heat olive oil over medium in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Reduce heat to very low and stir in peas.

Drain pasta and add to pea mixture. Stir in parmesan cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Bump Watch

A bit of a bump watch delay this week (my apologies). Here we are at 30 weeks...


















I didn't gain anything since our last appointment. No extra weight, no added inches around the belly. Our doc said that's OK since I'm so tall. But I'd still like to see baby (and me) getting bigger.

Even though we still have 10 weeks to go, Ben feels very strongly that we need to pack our hospital bag RIGHT NOW. That's first time dad nerves for you. Besides, there's so much to do in the next few weeks... baby showers, nursery prep, home remodeling. I think we have enough to think about. The hospital bag will have to wait.