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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Then and now.

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The quintessential parent cliches, here they come: How did this year go by so fast?! Where did my tiny baby go?

Leia’s birthday is Sunday. Today we went to the beach in Coronado with Ryan Daley to document her (nearly) one year old life. Her curiosity with wet sand, needing to be close to mom and nurse for comfort, taking big steps in the grass and squealing with delight while pointing at seagulls. “Dat! Dat!” (translation: “what’s that?”) How amazing to see everything with fresh, excited eyes.

We walked through the Del to find a grassy spot for story time. I noticed couples having dinner on the patio – casually sipping wine. No rush to order their meals, much less eat them. I reminisced about the pre-baby days, a time when happy hour and a movie with the girls was a regular event. Like usual, the nostalgia was short lived. I see Leia look out at the world and feel her tiny hand grip the back of my arm as we move along. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Proud parents. Mike likes to point at Leia and say "I made that." Here's a photo to prove I helped.

A year ago tonight, Mike and I were were celebrating with the Grandmas-to-be with dinner at Old Town Mexican Cafe. The “last supper” if you will. Grandmas had margaritas (lots of them). Mike had Captain Morgan and Diet Coke. I had water – telling those frosty margaritas not to worry, we would be meeting soon. I was going to be induced the next morning, as early as 4 a.m. if a bed was available. Leia, who was still nameless at this time, had been cooking for 41 weeks and 4 days. As much as I wanted my body to go into labor naturally, I was also hot, swollen, and sick of being pregnant.

Look at that smile, I thought I had it all figured out. This first year went by so fast. But looking at that woman standing there makes it feel like a lifetime ago.

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Closets with room to spare.

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Leia has a lot of clothes, significantly more than I do. Obviously she’s not buying them herself. We have friends and family that generously shower her with gifts. Even this anti-frills mama will admit that shopping for her is ridiculously fun. It makes me wonder if she’ll end up being my little fashionista. Will she spend weekend afternoons browsing boutiques (online or in real life) with friends?

Or will she be like her Mom?

I can’t remember a time I enjoyed shopping for clothes, or shoes. I have wide, flat feet. I’ve never drooled over a shoe sale, or been giddy over finding the perfect pair. Most of my life, my “shoe collection” can be counted on two hands – a few pairs of flip flops and sandals, a pair of gym shoes, and some flats. One year I bought a pair of boots. Another year I bought a peep-toe wedge from Nordstroms – that was adventurous.

Clothes are the same story, I buy the basics, things that are comfortable and predictable. When I like something I buy it in 3 different colors and consider that wardrobe variation. I live in dresses, even in the winter (thank you leggings, for making a comeback). Dresses are the perfect outfit – a top and bottom in one piece, no need to coordinate. I own one pair of jeans. I recently branched out and bought two pairs of shorts. I think yoga capris and tank tops are fine for trips to the grocery store, the park, and playdates.

Years of a distorted body image, emotional eating, and huge fluctuations in my weight has a lot to do with my fashion indifference. Trying on clothes isn’t enjoyable when everything cinches and pulls, when all you see are flaws. My heart breaks for the younger me that took so long to love her body (still a work in progress at nearly 30 years old). I’m determined to raise Leia to love and appreciate herself exactly as she is. To only know a healthy, balanced, active lifestyle so she will never struggle with the issues I have had. But that’s another post.

I’m cheap. I don’t buy things that aren’t on sale. Spending more than $20 on a piece of clothing drives me nuts. Most of my things come from Target or Old Navy, and even then I look at sale items first. When someone compliments what I’m wearing, the first thing I usually say is “Thanks! It was on sale for X dollars.” You’d think I’d be a big fan of Ross, TJMaxx, Nordstroms Rack, etc. I’m not. It’s chaotic and disorganized. I don’t like the hunt.

I’ve never dreamed about a walk-in closet, overflowing with things I don’t wear. I don’t have clothing with tags still on them. I regularly go through my closet and send things I haven’t worn recently to Goodwill. I’m proud of my minimalist approach. I could probably pack all the clothes and shoes I own into one big suitcase (maybe two). I’ve traveled internationally for weeks with just a Jansport backpack. In light of my goal to live a more simple life, this is one area I feel like I’m already on track.

Itchy cats. Cranky mama.

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My cats have fleas. Which means my apartment has fleas. Which makes me want to throw up. Thankfully I haven’t seen any bites on Leia or myself. But my poor cats are chewing themselves alive. I’ve been treating them with Frontline Plus every 3 weeks for the last 6 weeks. I was vacuuming twice a week, throwing out the bag, washing linens, etc. I realize now I’m supposed to be vacuuming every inch of my carpet and sofa every single day. Ugh.

So today I wear Leia in the carrier, and get to work. Vacuuming the large exposed areas is easy. Then I start moving furniture, and bending over to get around all the baseboards. I’m sweating, Leia is screaming. I’m in hell. Thankfully my pregnant sister is in nesting mode and she came to my rescue! She moved furniture (tsk tsk, I know), vacuumed, took out my trash, cleaned my kitchen – for the second time this month I should add.

But what about tomorrow, and the next days? Hopefully my Mom can get off work early a few days a week and take Leia for a walk so I can slave over the vacuum for an hour cursing the blood suckers that are ruining my life at the moment. Then I need to wash all the sheets again, and again. I’ve been doing 2-3 loads of laundry a day for the last week. I finally took all the clean linen that is usually in the closet and sealed it in a bag until the war zone is considered safe. Who knows when that will be.

I haz clean sheets?

A lot of people have told me to put Borax on the carpets, wait 3-5 days then vacuum. Repeat every 2 weeks for 3 months (the life span of the flea). Easy right? But I worry about Leia being on the carpet while I’m waiting for the Borax to do it’s thing. So I’m considering boarding the cats for the weekend we are up in OC the beginning of August, and hoping that 48 hours is enough time for the magic to happen.

I can’t do any pesticide bombs, too much potential residue for Leia to touch.

I’m also thinking of adding a steam cleaning to my plan of attack. I called the office and they can give me a good deal on carpet cleaners. But I can’t steam clean after the Borax. I also might recruit an assistant (read: maid). Someone to vacuum when I can’t.

1. Vacuum like a mad woman

2. Get carpets steam cleaned

3. Continue vacuuming daily

4. Borax the first weekend in August.

5. Vacuum on Monday.

6. Cross fingers. Repeat.

Meanwhile I’m so sad for my poor cats that are clearly miserable. I don’t know why it seems like the Frontline isn’t killing the adult fleas that are chewing them up. I don’t want to cuddle with them, I don’t want them on the bed. I cringe when Leia chases them down to “pat them gently”. . .

 

 

Bedsharing.

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Who hasn’t seen this ridiculously adorable video? My heart melts every time I watch it. The mama and baby cat snuggled together asleep, until baby starts dreaming. Mama reaches over to give her a squeeze and all is right in the world.

I feel exactly the same sharing a bed with my daughter. I enjoy being right next to her, to comfort her in the middle of the night, to enjoy every moment of her short and sweet babyhood and quickly approaching toddlerhood. With the same fervor that some parents say the bedroom is their adult sanctuary, I insist that my bedroom is a cozy place of rest for the whole family.

While I was pregnant I didn’t feel this way. I registered for a beautiful crib, carefully picked out a mattress after long nights of researching online reviews. I knew she would sleep in the pack n play next to the bed at first. But of course she would move to the crib shortly after. That’s what babies do. They sleep in cribs. They will drink from a bottle if offered one. They use pacifiers. Leia does none of those things.

I remember watching Away We Go, and laughing hysterically at Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character and her family. Whackadoodle hippie parents. A family bed? That’s nonsense. How do the parent’s get naked? What if the kid never leaves their bed until they go to college? Craziness.

Babies change you. I know, so cliche. The first week (weeks?) Leia was home was a blur. It wasn’t long before I discovered that we both got more rest if we were in bed together. Sure I still had to get up every 2 hours to change her, feed her, soothe her. But after a clean diaper and a boob we were both off to dreamland. Ohmygosh, but what if you squish the baby? What about SIDS?! Just like mama cat in the video, I became hypersensitive of where my child was and what she needed. You don’t roll over on your baby just like you don’t randomly roll off the edge of the bed.

A few months later we were breastfeeding pros. She didn’t need her diaper changed in the middle of the night anymore. So now when she woke up hungry or needing comfort, all I had to do was roll onto my side so she could nurse and we both went back to sleep. No monitors, no getting out of bed, no crying baby. I was sold. I felt rested for a new parent (which is not the same as rested pre-children, ask any parent).

Around 4-6 months everyone wants to know “how is she sleeping?” “Is she sleeping through the night yet?” Parents are eager to boast that their child already has 8 hour stretches! Shoot, they’ll probably be driving and getting a job in the next few months. Parents are desperate for their children to sleep. Dad needs rest so he can go to work. Mom needs rest because she’s spent the last two days wearing the same pajamas and hasn’t left the house. But most of all, a baby sleeping through the night gives parents a feeling that their lives are somewhat theirs again.

I didn’t feel the same. I’m lucky enough to be a stay at home mom, so getting enough sleep to function behind a desk wasn’t a necessity. But unlike most parents I talked to, I was okay with my daughter to change my sleeping arrangements and patterns. I was okay with putting her needs first for as long as she needed. So every time someone – including her pediatrician – asked me the questions above I thought “no, but she will when she’s ready.”

The message boards, blogs, books (okay, who am I kidding, I had no time to read a book) all preached different sleep training techniques to start as early as four months. When I told people Leia and I slept in the same bed I almost always got the same gasp and head shake followed with “oh you have to stop that now, you’ll never get her out of your bed.” For a while I started to question myself. Was I doing the right thing? Was Leia going to have emotional or psychological issues because we shared a bed for X months or X years? No, of course not. I was just fine with the idea of a toddler in “my” bed.

Would it be different if Leia’s Dad and I were together? If I was married and it was 3 people in a bed? Probably not. I feel strongly that there are other times and places to be intimate. I want my bed and bedroom to be a place for sleep. Calm, comforting, quiet, restful. I realize I’m in a tiny tiny minority here.

One of the beautiful things about becoming a mom is becoming 110% stronger as a woman. I may stop and question the path I walk from time to time, but I trust my instincts. I don’t waiver if I find out my choices aren’t the popular decision. I do what is best for my daughter, and what is best for our family. I’m not a better parent than one whose child sleeps in a crib (unless the child is left to cry themselves to sleep, but my anti-CIO beliefs are another blog for another day). Doing what works for your family is the best choice.

Someday when Leia’s gone off to college I hope to be able to show her this post. So she can roll her eyes at me and say Mom you’re such a wackadoodle hippie.

Get your Greek on.

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Greek yogurt is pretty awesome. In the morning I prefer the flavored versions. Trader Joe’s makes a good variety, Voskos is good, Chobani is delish. Add some low fat granola and fruit, hello breakfast.

But my excitement with Greek yogurt is the plain, unflavored kind. It’s low calorie, low sugar, and high protein. Yay. More importantly, it works effortlessly as a substitute for things like mayo, sour cream, etc.

I was craving chicken salad. I’d tried a recipe before with fat free mayo, blech. In the midst of my Googling for recipes I saw one that used half mayo/half greek yogurt. Genius! So I tried it with a full substitution and it was a lovely success.

  • 2 cups shredded chicken (I buy a rotisserie chicken from the store, easy peasy)
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt (I used nonfat Fage)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tbs. chopped tarragon (some people prefer dill, I like the slightly sweet licorice flavor of tarragon)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • pepper to taste

Mix it up. Add more yogurt if you think it’s too dry. Toss in some celery, or sliced almonds if you’re into that. Put a big scoop or two on top of multigrain toast with a big slice of tomato and enjoy.

My next Greek yogurt experiment will be perfecting a cold pasta salad with pesto for Leia’s birthday party.

Slow cooking.

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My apartment smells like rosemary, yum. I’ve discovered love for the crockpot. Which is funny, I figured I’d be at least a decade older and cook with an apron before the slow cooker became one of my go-to kitchen items. It reminds me of my Grandma. I can throw everything in one pot while Leia’s taking a nap, turn it on and forget about it for hours. Leaving me more time to do laundry, wash dishes read Facebook and Google recipes.

We don’t eat beef very often. Since I don’t have a BBQ on the patio to create steaks and kabobs, this is one of my favorite ways to prepare it. The ingredients are simple, it’s easy to modify, and it makes your house smell good.

  • 1 lb. beef cut into large cubes (rump roast is a good choice, or you can buy the package of beef already cut up with a sticker that says “for stew”)
  • 2-3 tbs. flour seasoned with pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine (feel free to pour yourself a glass)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • several dashes of worcestershire
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • half a bag of baby carrots
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup of sweet potato peeled and cut into cubes (If you don’t like these vegetables, use whatever makes you happy. Firm vegetables work best.)

Toss beef in a bag with flour and pepper. If you don’t want to waste a bag, you can put it all in the bottom on the pot and stir it around until everything is coated. If you want to take an extra step, brown the beef in a skillet with a little olive oil after tossing in flour. Add vegetables and garlic. Add liquid. Place sprigs of rosemary on top. Set on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 6 hours.

Remove rosemary and discard. You can serve it with rice or noodles, but I like mine as-is. You can also put the liquid and vegetables in a food processor and puree to serve on top of the beef.

Dinner is served.

One reason this is a favorite recipe for me: I can share everything with Leia. She loves all of it – the beef, the soft carrots and sweet potatoes.

It makes great leftovers too. Since I’m usually cooking for one (and a half), I like recipes that taste good the next day.

New beginnings.

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I love this picture of my sister and my daughter.

We were getting ready to go to the pool. Leia was running around shrieking with excitement carrying her bathing suit. I thought it was cute so I started snapping some pictures, and caught one of her momentarily still to notice her cousin in the making.