Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Giant Thank You

I am beyond excited that tomorrow is my last day of work for the summer. While this past year has been the happiest of my life, I could not have known before heading back to work after maternity leave that it would also be undoubtedly the hardest. Being a working mom is hard, people. Really, really hard. Add to that a baby who didn't sleep for 9 months and an autoimmune disorder (mine, not Sweets') with some nasty side effects and I am honestly shocked that I made it through mostly in one piece. And my reward is two months with my baby boy :)

But before that begins, I would be remiss if I didn't give a giant, from-the-bottom-of-my-heart thank you to the two ladies who made it possible for me to leave my son every day - my mom and my next-door neighbor, who split child care duty for Sweetie Pea. These women were not just the babysitters of my child, they were the babysitters of my sanity. I'm not even kidding. There were so many mornings when they packed me off to work in tears after a sleepless night or a 2 am argument with my husband with their gentle and encouraging words. So many days when they hugged me and told me it was all going to be ok. They were always there when the going got rough (which was often), always supportive when I struggled with supply issues and feared I'd have to supplement (I never did, with the exception of the week I returned to work as my supply adjusted to my pumping schedule). And most importantly, they took care of my son with as much love as if he were their own. It broke my heart to walk away from him every day, but I never, ever had to worry that he wasn't in the best possible hands. I am a better mother, and a better woman for having learned from and been supported by them. So ladies, please don't ever think that every bottle you returned washed, stain you pretreated, day you kept Sweets late when I got held up at work, midday "I miss my baby" text you responded to with a picture of him, and every moment that you mothered me as well as my son went unnoticed. Thank you with every fiber of my being for caring for and loving my baby as much as I do, for listening to me obsess over his sleep for months on end, for teaching him things, and for teaching me things. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you!  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Big BDay Invite!

Now obviously, this is the blog version of the invite, 'cause I can't put our personal details out there on the interwebs ;-) I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I totally made them on the cheap. I took the pictures in the backyard (approximately 585308374675 of them to get these three good ones), created the invitation on Picnik, uploaded it to the Kodak Gallery and sent it on over to Target for printing as 5x7 photos. Then I trimmed off the excess (because it's square, not rectangular) and into the mail they went! Now you're probably thinking "who has a birthday party on a Monday?" I'll tell you who. A mama who called the town to reserve the park in January and was told that every weekend was booked for the entire.summer. Ok...what? I thought I was all ahead of the game and apparently I'm nothing more than a party-planning slacker. Luckily for me our families said they could come on a Monday if they had enough notice and many of the invitees are educators who are off for the summer anyway. So we'll make it work. 

I'm not a real theme-y girl, so there is no definite theme for the party. I have a vision in my head of a vintage picnic, though I haven't worked out the details of that yet. On the menu I think we'll have pulled pork, corn bread, GiGi's (Sweets' great-grandma's) famous baked beans, pasta salad, iced tea, lemonade and carrot cake cupcakes. The details still need some ironing out, but luckily I'm done with work for the summer in TWO days so I'll have some time to work on it :-)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

12 Years Ago This Month

I graduated from high school. What the what??? Where did all that time go? And yesterday, as I watched my graduating seniors walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and step into their futures, I couldn't help but wonder where they will be in 12 years. Because what you don't know, as an 18 year old newly minted high school grad, is that the older you get, the faster the years slide by, until your life begins to feel like someone is holding down the fast-forward button on your DVR.

When I look back on the blur of minutes, hours, weeks, months and years that make up the last decade or so of my life, I sort of divide them into two categories: things I loved so much I wish I could do them all over again, and things I would do completely differently if given the chance. Some things that fall into the former category include high school (yes, I was one of those people who loved high school, I think that's why I ended up working in one), living by myself in my own apartment, our engagement, wedding, and honeymoon, and of course, being pregnant and having Sweetie Pea. And then there are the things that land in the latter of the two categories: college (there are a ton of things I would change about the way I approached college if I could go back in time), relationships that should have ended long before they actually did, buying our house (we couldn't have known beforehand how much we would miss renting, or how many things we would wish our home had that it doesn't), pets (which are really more fun when they belong to your parents), and all those times when I just wasn't true to myself. So Class of 2011, whoever you are and wherever you may be - know that hindsight is always 20/20, and no one is ever truly without regrets of some variety, but if you remain true to you - your values, goals, and ideals, you can minimize the number of life decisions that end up in the "things I would do differently" category of your memories. Congrats kiddos, and enjoy the ride!

June 1999, with my BFF since 3rd grade.

Don't ask me what was with those sausage curls, because I haven't the faintest idea what I was thinking. That hair definitely belongs on the "things I would do differently" list ;-) Interesting facts: there were 575 students in my graduating class. My cap was decorated with the colors and name of the college I was headed to, along with the words to Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay." On the day of my high school graduation, I had every intention of majoring in biology and becoming a veterinarian.

June 2011, with my BFF since August 2010.

Last year at graduation I was 8 months pregnant and that gown made me look like a giant academic whale. And Sweets was sitting on my bladder throughout the entire ceremony:

This year that was thankfully not the case. Interesting facts: since I had nowhere to safely store my belongings during the ceremony, I stuck my keys and lipgloss in those silly-looking sleeves. Start to finish, our ceremony was 55 minutes long. Excellent. Following the ceremony, my friend M and I split a bottle of wine, and had Sweets and I not been crashing at my parents' for the night, I would not have been able to drive home. That's what happens when you haven't had a proper drink in nearly two years (9 months of pregnancy + 11 months of nursing).

Bring on the summer!

Monday, June 20, 2011

On Having a Baby Boy

When I saw those double lines on that little white pregnancy test at 5 am on Thanksgiving morning, I had an instant and overwhelming love for my microscopic future child. It was crazy. Little could I know that love would pale in comparison to the love I would feel when he was placed in my arms. Early on, well before that telling 20 week ultrasound, we both just had a gut feeling we were having a boy. I can't explain it - we just knew. When the ultrasound tech got to "that" region of the baby's anatomy and confirmed our hunch, we were both just like "yeah, we know." I think I would have fallen off the table if she said it was a girl. As the news spread that Baby G was a boy, I got lots of comments along the lines of "A boy! How exciting! Are you ok with that?" "I'm sure your husband is thrilled!" and "You're such a girlie girl, I can't believe you're having a boy!" Now. My extensive collection of heels, purses, nail polish and pencil skirts attests to the truth of that last statement. I am a girl's girl. And it's true, I always thought ohmygosh, I have to have a girl at some point. But from the second the ultrasound tech said "it's a boy!", and every second thereafter, I have adored being a little boy's mama. It is awesome. I would have a dozen more boys (ask me if this is true say, six years from now). There's just something about having a son that is so special (and all of the clothes that say "I love my Mommy," "Mommy's Big Guy," and "Mommy's Best Friend" don't hurt either ;-). 

None of this is to say that I wouldn't happily welcome a little sister into the picture in the future, because obviously that would thrill us as well. But there's a tremendous sense of peace that comes from knowing that whether we have 2 kids or 12 (I highly doubt this is a reality), 2 boys, or 1 boy and 11 girls, our family is exactly what it's supposed to be.

Don't worry, Hubs was right behind him on this little adventure. Speaking of Hubs, he thinks this outfit makes Sweets look like a girl. He actually referred to it as a dress. I said, "it's a romper, gosh! Get the lingo down." A very spiffy little madras romper. Not a dress. Boys don't know ;-) 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

There should really be a law...

...against being this cute! I could die from the overwhelming adorableness that is Sweets in his swimming gear - rash guard, trunks, bucket hat and a gallon of SPF 50. You'd think we were going surfing on the surface of the sun instead of to the pool club for the first time. I have the best summer memories from when I was growing up of lazy afternoons spent at my parent's pool club; smelling like chlorine, swimming like a fish and coming home ravenously hungry and tired from all the exercise. That's why I'm ridiculously excited that my parents gifted us with a membership this summer. Not that Sweetie Pea will remember it, but I hope it lays the groundwork for many future summers spent at the pool! It's good, clean, American fun :-)

Hmm, ok, this seems alright.

Hello. Could he get any CUTER?

That's cold Mama!

Fun with the fountain.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sneak Peek... Sweetie Pea's photo shoot for his birthday invitations. Many of the blogs I read feature an adorable baby around my son's age, and their mamas are deep in first birthday party-planning mode. I am no different. So today Sweets and I ventured outside to capture the perfect photo to plaster on the invitation to his party. But, photographing a ten-and-a-half month old means you rarely get a perfect picture. Instead, you get a little of this: 

A bit of this:

And, inevitably, some of this:

Sigh. Last time I was at Barnes and Noble, I spotted a book in the parenting section titled "Good Enough is the New Perfect." A fine little lesson for all of us perfectionists! Don't you worry, I got a few "good enough" photos and we called it a day. The invitation is shaping up to be so cute I can't stand it. I'll be sure to share it when it's complete!

Wordless Wednesday: The best present ever

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mac and Cheese, Baby Style

Well, kinda baby style. It's a baby food recipe I clipped out of a magazine, but it could just as easily be eaten by adults, because it is yummy. I did a lot of the prep work yesterday when I had time, which made this super easy to throw together today - all I had to do was boil the pasta. I halved the recipe because I didn't neccessarily want 6 1/2 cups. It still made plenty - enough to eat, enough to share, and enough to freeze for another day. Sweets stuffed this in his mouth like he hadn't eaten in a week! And Baby E, if you're reading this, you've got some coming your way tomorrow :-)

Mini Shells and Cheese
From American Baby Magazine, March 2011

4 Tbs. butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 splash hot sauce (baby won't even notice!)
6 cups cooked mini shells
*I used organic vegetable shells for some fun color*

In a 4 qt pot, cook butter an onions over medium heat until onions become soft and translucent. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add hot milk, whisking throughly to avoid clumps. Bring to a boil, whisking often to prevent scorching. When milk has thickened, reduce heat, add nutmeg, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring periodically. Whisk in cheddar cheese. Simmer another 2 minutes and add hot sauce. Combine hot pasta and sauce. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge. Makes 6 1/2 cups.


...and enjoy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Waitress! More please!

One of the reasons I decided to breastfeed is because I believe it offers unparalleled nutrition for my growing baby. Eating healthy is very important to both me and Hubs, and we really want our children to grow up making healthy food choices and not being picky eaters. My brother has a friend who (honest to God) eats only three things: grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and hot dogs. I kid you not. No fruits, no veggies, no whole grains. Now I'm not trying to be all judgy-judgerson, but that is learned behavior, and I won't be teaching that to Sweets or any of his future siblings.

Something I really find challenging is adding variety to Sweetie Pea's diet. It's easy to reach for the go-to items all the time - yogurt, oatmeal, puffs, etc. But then I read some info from Dr. Sears (is it wrong that I have a little crush on him? Yeah I think it's his philosophy on nighttime fathering. Hearing him talk about wearing his babies in a sling around the house at night so his wife could get some rest...what woman wouldn't find that a little sexy?) ...anyway, where was I? Oh yes, feeding your baby a la Dr. Sears. He emphasizes "grow foods," which are nutrient-dense, free of chemical additives, and digested slowly. Some examples include: salmon, avocado, cheese, eggs, sweet potatoes, yogurt, whole grains, nut butters, lean meats and poultry, blueberries, peppers, beans and lentils, hummus and tomatoes. I've introduced many of these into Sweets' diet and he loves them. So I thought I'd share some of his favorite meals in case you are looking for some healthy, baby-friendly "recipes" as well :-)  

Blueberry-banana oatmeal (baby oatmeal with smashed blueberries and bananas)
Apple cinnamon oatmeal (baby oatmeal with organic applesauce and cinnamon)
Whole wheat bagel with fruit spread or cream cheese
Whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter
Scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, spinach and tomatoes

Whole milk yogurt (YoBaby - his favorites are blueberry and peach-squash)
Cottage cheese with applesauce or peaches
Whole wheat tortilla spread with pureed pinto beans or hummus and a sprinkle of cheese
Hard boiled egg
Fruit - this kid LOVES his fruit! Berries, melon, peaches, pears, kiwi, name it, he'll eat it.
Diced chicken or turkey

Mini shells and organic tomato sauce
Soft flakes of fish (so far he's had tilapia, salmon, flounder and mahi-mahi)
Tortellini with diced tomatoes and herbs
Roasted veggies - sprinkled with olive oil and roasted in the oven. His faves are sweet taters, zucchini, carrots, parsnips, and squash. He liked beets too but they turned his poop fuschia, which really freaked me out.
Rice (I usually use quick-cooking brown rice)
Quinoa (which is a total superfood. Google it!)
Quiche (so easy and so nutritious - just use eggs and whatever combination of veggies you like)
Lean meats - chicken, or turkey usually, though he's had tastes of beef and venison

Cheerios (I'm pretty sure this child is 85% Cheerios, since they're all I ate in the first trimester)
Puffs (I'm not going to lie, I eat them too. They are delicious, especially the sweet potato flavor)
Graham crackers
Organic fruit and cereal bars
Motts for Tots juice (12 grams of sugar per serving to regular Motts 40 grams! Hello!)
Breastmilk - he still loves it!

Hubs and I will be having a spicy pasta dish later this week that would be too much for Sweets, so I'm going to try a recipe for baby mac and cheese (homemade, and with more nutritional punch than the boxed variety) that I've had for awhile. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

The big 3-0...I really hope the next decade is as wonderful as the last one! And just because I'm always posting cute pics of my kid, I thought I'd change it up today...

Baby Stacy with Sonny and Cher Mom and Dad

My parents called this The Incredible Hulk face

Apparently there was something going on out there that I wanted to be a part of

Check out those cheeks!

A sunglass diva from the very beginning

With baby brother (who very nearly shares a birthday with Sweetie Pea)

Hey little girl, someday you will have the cutest baby boy you've ever seen. You'll also turn 30. You won't be so thrilled about that part.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our Kitchen

So, we picked up our house for a steal. Why, you may ask? Because it was in foreclosure. Good for our wallets, bad for the interior of our little cape. While the prior owners were clearly lacking in funds to pay their mortgage, they were also lacking in a little thing I like to call taste. This is the second post in a series I'm doing about different rooms in our house, and I chose the kitchen because it has come such a long way. When we moved in, our kitchen was a hot mess. It had a teal linoleum floor (gag), teal countertops (barf), and a nasty pink sink (pass the hand sanitizer). At one point, they had installed what had been nice cabinets, and then proceeded to abuse the heck out of them. Yah, the kitchen needed work. Where do I start?

See those gangrene colored floors and counters? I was literally afraid to walk barefoot or prepare food on them. They had to go. As did the appliances from 1983.

And there's the disgusting pink sink. I think I dumped an entire bottle of Clorox on that sucker and it would not come clean. ::shudder:: And please check out that faucet/sprayer situation. Functional, no?

With that much work that needed to be done, we had to prioritize. First, we trashed all those horrifying appliances and purchased shiny, sanitary new ones. Next, we attacked those heinous counters. We had a miniscule budget for this project, so we opted to refinish them instead of replace them. We used a product called Spreadstone and it turned out ok. We don't love it, but it is worlds better than it was. See?

Next up: that lovely floor. My one BFF (who also happens to be my cousin and former college roommate) came over for a weekend to help and I told her she couldn't leave until it was done (kidding). It kills me that I can't find the pictures from this process. We were truly empowered home improvement goddesses! We scraped all of that old linoleum up and found a subfloor that was in pretty good shape. Woot! We cleaned and primed it, and laid the new tile floor ourselves. Yes we did. And here's the proof:

So, with the biggest offenders taken care of, the rest of the project consisted of cleaning, painting and decorating. My mom and I also put up a wainscoating backsplash for some visual interest (I couldn't handle any more tile at that point!). This is the result of all of my effort:

The cabinets got sanded primed, painted and fitted with new hardware. The interior of that built-in cookbook shelf got a coat of terra cotta paint, and all the trim got cleaned up with bright white paint. For the walls I chose greige (grayish-beige). Yeah, paint and I were besties for awhile there.

Behold the shiny new, clean sink. I thought Hubs was going to throw it out a window in the process of installing put up quite a fight. Our dirty little secret is that there's like a gallon of caulk on the underside of that bad boy.

We at one point had a much larger kitchen table, but it was simply taking up too much valuable floor space. So we downsized and I love the new breakfast table with fold-down sides.

As a general, but very predictable rule of thumb, houseplants and I do not get along. They're just so demanding, what with their constant need for water and...air. So all these beauties are really doing is sitting on death row. But they sure look pretty until I kill them, don't they? I've taken to planting them in inspirational pots in the hopes that will inspire them to live through my negligence.

This is a very important area, because it's what we see when we walk in the door, and where we dump crap: keys, mail, packages, etc. My efforts to organize it include that salvaged green shutter where we clip photos, notes, cards and mail, the wire basket that holds envelopes, stamps, pens and sunglasses, and the little key cup on the second shelf so we always know where our keys are.

This is the view from the kitchen into the family room. More on that space in another post!

It was a ton of time and effort, but we learned a lot and are much happier with our kitchen now! I find that the kitchen is so often the heartbeat of a home - it certainly is for us - so it had to be homey, stylish, and clean!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Motherhood by the numbers

6: number of months it took us to get pregnant
276: number of days our baby boy lived in my belly
24: number of pounds I gained while pregnant
13: number of hours I was in labor, start to finish
0: number of interventions I had during labor
35: number of minutes it took to push our son into the world
1: number of seconds it took me to fall madly in love with him
109: number of days of glorious maternity leave I took
3: average number of hours of sleep I got per night after Sweets came home
40: number of pounds I lost when my thyroid went cuckoo postpartum
2: number of cup sizes I went up while breastfeeding
48: number of minutes per day I spend pumping
10: current number of ounces I pump daily
390: number of ounces of breastmilk I have been able to freeze
11: number of hours Sweets is currently sleeping at night (BOOYAH!)
7: number of hours I work outside our home, Monday-Friday
1442: approximate number of diapers I've changed since Sweets was born
4: number of Cheerios I find in random places every day
9? number of minutes I have to myself on a daily basis
24: number of hours in a day
7473639: number of hours in a day I feel like I need to get everything done
308: number of days since Sweetie Pea was born
308: number of days I have loved being his mama
57: number of days until he turns ONE

Friday, June 3, 2011


It's time for another recipe, friends. 'Cause I love to share when I find an easy, quick dinner! I'm just not one who can eat cereal for dinner. I really wish I was, because Sweets is so over watching me make supper.  When he was just a little bean, I would tuck him in the Moby wrap and chop, saute and stir away. He would nestle in, so close to my heart, and snooze while I made something for Hubs and I to eat. Now? I'm lucky if the Exersaucer and a handful of Cheerios entertain him for 10 minutes while I rush to throw something together. This recipe came together quickly and was very tasty. We don't eat a lot of meat in our house, so I liked that it had two kinds of beans in it for protein. Sweetie Pea liked it too, though I left the seasoning and the chiles off of his portion. So dig out your sombreros, we're going south of the border with:

Mexican Stir-Fry
From Everyday Slow Cooker and One Dish Recipes

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 jar diced green chiles
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
Pinch cayenne pepper
2/3 cup kidney beans, rinsed
2/3 cup black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used instant brown rice)
Shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, saute the veggies until crisp-tender. Stir in the water, tomato puree, and spices. Reduce hear, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add beans and rice, heat through. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Ole!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Heat Wave

Thanks to my good friend M and her mom, and Sweets' buddies G and E for a super "cool" afternoon!

And Happy Double Digits Baby Boy! 
You are 10 months old today!