26 February 2013

One Year Ago

Cora turned 13 months old today.

Throughout this past month, I have been reflecting on my first postpartum month. To be honest with you, it was hell. From a long hospital stay--I went into labor on a Wednesday and didn't leave until Sunday--to issues with my postpartum care nurses and lactation 'help,' it didn't start off so great.  I couldn't stand up for more than 5 minutes at a time without wetting myself those first few weeks, and I had a hard time envisioning the day I could run a mile again. I also didn't fall madly in love with my baby right away, and often I thought other people were more excited about her than I would ever be. It's a hard road to walk when multiple voices are telling you to "Enjoy every moment!" but you find yourself hardly enjoying any of them. In fact, those first few nights home, I sobbed myself to sleep, enveloped in a combination of crazy hormones, fear of SIDS, and general "what the heck have we done? my whole life has changed overnight!" pangs.

But a year ago today was a turning point. We had been having breastfeeding issues. Cora had regained her birth weight at 3 weeks (yes, late) and then lost weight on the next check at 4 weeks. I was annoyed with the way the Family Practice doctor I got stuck with at the Naval Hospital was treating us (he was not lactation-friendly), and I had been trying to switch to a real Pediatrician. The corpsmen in Family Practice were not consistent in their practices, sometimes weighing her with diaper on, sometimes off. After the weight issue, I finally got to see the Lactation Consultant down in the Pediatric office, who was very reassuring and gave me some great advice on increasing supply. It involved some Fenugreek and losing a lot of sleep to basically pump and nurse my supply up. Those tips were great, but they also caused a small side effect: I was going insane, mostly from the lack of sleep. And to be honest, my husband was not very supportive of me continuing to do something that made me so miserable. I cried. A lot.

And then last year, on Sunday, February 26th, I sat in church and made a decision. It was the first Sunday of Lent, and we sat all they way in the back of the church (even though we're usually front-church people) because I didn't want to draw attention to my nursing baby. I wasn't actually afraid of nursing in public, but I was just ashamed that I wasn't doing it 'properly.' (I had to fix my baby's latch every time and also was doing compressions because, hey, that's what was sort of working.) I was starting to nod off due to exhaustion as the priest was giving the usual "Pick a Lenten Sacrifice" homily, but I was awake enough to follow some of it. I somehow got a jolt of energy, and right then and there I decided something. I decided I would stick this nursing thing out until Easter. If I was still in tears every other day on Easter, I would give it up. I remember having so much clarity at the precise moment of that decision.

Since I was emotionally a wreck that day, my baby's one-month milestone was forgotten. I actually don't have a single picture of her from that entire week. That is also the reason why the elephant-chair pictures don't start until 2 months. I truly regret letting that happen.

If I could go back in time and change a few things about that first month, I would. But what's done is done, and I'm not going to dwell on it right now. Some good things did come out of it, though. My labor and delivery were not disappointing to me at all, since I met my goal of avoiding the C-section (even though that meant 3 hours of pushing). The extra day in the hospital presented me with a nurse who helped me with breastfeeding more than she could ever know (she sat me in a chair! we used my nursing pillow! the baby latched!). Changing doctors showed me that I really do know how to stick up for myself and my baby.  I learned how a lack of sleep can affect me emotionally and how I turn into a train wreck when it happens. (I got screened by two different counselors for PPD, and I wasn't diagnosed with it, as it all just hinged on a lack of sleep.) We plan on having at least one more baby, and there are many things I will know going into it that will hopefully help me.

As for the breastfeeding, it obviously got better. My supply leveled out before Easter of last year, and I think I was even off the Fenugreek by that time.  Currently, I still breastfeed Cora twice a day (at waking and right before she gets in her pajamas), and those are some of my favorite times. I had a 4-week weaning plan that I threw out the window last week.

I also have truly fallen in love with my baby over the last 13 months.  She lights up my world with her laughter, and I could listen to her babbling all day without tiring of it. My baby has brought so much joy to our household, and I think I fall in love with her each day over and over again.

Whenever I hear new moms having a hard time (and those first months are very hard times), all I can say is . . . it gets better.

So much better.

25 February 2013

Meatless Meal: Southwest Fettuccine

Thank you once again, Betty Crocker.

Her red book has some awesome meals in the Vegetarian section. I sure have come pretty far since this post in regards to my pickiness. This recipe involves both salsa and black beans, two things I would not have touched a few years ago. It also involves chili sauce, which I didn't even know existed until I decided to make cocktail meatballs for my baby's birthday party.

But everyone in the house loved this! (Yes, even the baby!) Win win win.

I modified the recipe ever-so-slightly, so here you go.

Southwest Fettuccine
Easy! Fast! Feeds 4! (Can easily be doubled!)

8oz uncooked fettuccine
olive oil
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
handful of shredded cheese (optional)

  1. Cook and drain fettuccine as directed on package. Toss with some olive oil. 
  2. While fettucine is cooking (or you can do it after in the same saucepan and cover the fettucine in a bowl to keep it warm), mix remaining ingredients except cilantro and cheese. Cook over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender.
  3. Divide fettuccine among 4 bowls. Top each with about 3/4 cup sauce mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro or cheese (or both?).

(Obviously the picture above has neither of the optional ingredients. It also looks like barf-covered noodles. But it doesn't taste like that, I promise!! Betty has a better picture over here.)

Go check out other meatless meals with Beth Anne's Best or Tales From Astoria. And for year-round meatless Friday ideas, my friend Kinsi has an awesome series called My Thursday Entrée.

18 February 2013

Some Thoughts on My 101 in 1001 List

Way, way, wayyy back in the year 2010, I made a list. A list of stuff I wanted to do in 1001 days. Well, the final day is approaching in less than 2 months, and I am nowhere near done with this list.

And I'm mostly okay with that.

Yes, it's a sort-of arbitrary length of time. A lot of these things are on my bigger bucket list that spans my whole life. And I must admit that I was in a completely different life situation when I made the list. I was still a giddy newlywed, my husband was in the middle of a 6-month military deployment, I lived in Virginia, I had just started blogging, and I spent a lot of time reading at the beach.

I got to cross off the biggest life-changing event from this list (#11: Have a baby), and in doing so, I have greatly impeded most chances to finish this entire list by the deadline.

A few things I'm 99% sure I won't be finishing:
  • performing on stage in a play or musical (I did audition for one back in Pensacola, though!)
  • joining a sports league (although B and I lift weights together now, so does that count?)
  • learning to do a cool trick on my boogie board (oops, moved away from the beach)
  • dressing like a cow and getting Chick-Fil-A on Cow Appreciation Day (it's not until July, and I was too exhausted to deal with it last year)
HOWEVER, many of the goals on this list are still attainable! Even after having a baby! On that note, I seriously want to smack anyone who says you won't have time for anything you love after having a baby--babies grow and become more independent, sitters can be hired, and if you really want to do something, by golly, you can! The first 3 months postpartum you probably won't, but after that? Of course! What you choose to do after baby can actually show you what you really LOVE to do versus things you just did to fill time or please others. (Hey, I even did some baking during my baby's first week of life because I love it so.)

Tonight, I am very proud to say I accomplished something on my list that I had wanted to do for a while:

✔ 53. Do a Navy PRT, meeting at least Good requirements for my age/sex

For those of you non-military folks, the PRT (PFT to some) is the Physical Readiness (Fitness) Test that military members have to take (and pass) twice a year. B has one coming up in April, so he has been working hard to make sure he passes.

My final stats: 57 curl-ups (Good), 34 push-ups (Good), and the 1.5-mile run in 12:52 (Excellent)

The truth is I hadn't even looked at the requirements lately, so I had no idea what I was aiming for. (B sprung this on me today at the last minute.) I just tried my best, and this is what happened! I actually beat B on the running part, lapping him on my final lap (we were on a small indoor track where we had to do 12 laps for 1.5 miles), and hollering at him during that pass-by to give me his watch since I had no idea of my time (unprepared much?).

I am very proud of myself tonight! I think it is time for some celebratory chocolate. And if I get a 60% completion on my 101 list, I will be equally proud. I'll probably celebrate with more chocolate.

15 February 2013

7 Quick Takes (Love and Fasting Edition)

--- 1 ---
Happy Lent everyone! Oh, and was there some lovey-dovey Hallmark holiday yesterday? There might have been . . . sure couldn't tell in our house though.

--- 2 ---
That's a lie. Sort of. Cora and I gave B a card and some gummi bears, and we picked up a pizza for dinner. She wore a cute "Daddy's Little Sweetheart" shirt. In return, we got . . . nothin'.  I'm not kidding. B said we'll get something some time this weekend. Who is the overly frugal one in this house again? (Okay okay, he did say he's taking us to a basketball game at the local college tomorrow, and I told him I wouldn't mind some half-price flowers.) This is one of the first years that one of us wasn't either sick or absent for this day, so we don't have any standing traditions.

Ever been photo-bombed by a stuffed octopus?

--- 3 ---
I figure now is a good time to make a formal declaration of my Lenten sacrifice. I am giving up the computer on Wednesdays. I can check stuff on my Kindle (hey, sometimes I need a recipe!), but no computer. I'm trying to read all of the books of the Bible I've never read before during that time. Or, y'know, clean the house, watch a movie, become an official Indiana resident, or do something other than fritter away my time in a distracted way with 20 tabs open simultaneously.

On Ash Wednesday, I read two chapters of Joshua (could. not. focus.), a few chapters of some other book, and watched the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (hadn't seen it before). We also made it to mass!

B and I also joined a small faith community (that only meets for Lent) through our church. We'll see how this goes. I married a true military man who loathes "talking about his feelings," so I had to convince him to do this. It's his Lenten sacrifice, officially.

--- 4 ---
I started weaning Cora two weeks ago. It's going well. We're down to nursing twice a day (morning and evening), with a sippy cup of milk at lunch and a little bit as an afternoon snack. I was planning to have her fully weaned by 13 months, but now I think I'm going to hang on to the morning nursing session for kicks and giggles . . . so all you toddler-nursing lactivists can drop the pitchforks already. Maybe we'll drop it at 15 months or so.

I had never really taken a picture of us nursing, but I want to remember it so I asked B to take one the other day.

Yes, yes, I still use the My Brest Friend pillow my sister gave me. That thing is the bomb dot com (do people still say that? guess so since I just did). Our couch is overly squishy with no support, so it helps a lot. It also fits in the glider really well so she doesn't bash her head on the wooden part of the armrest.

--- 5 ---
B thought it was odd I wanted a nursing picture. I retorted, "I've done this every day for the past year and have no picture of it!" He gave me a look that, without words, said, "Um, you've brushed your teeth and taken a shower every day for the past year and didn't take a picture." Since I knew what his look meant, I then said the words aloud. And he laughed.

--- 6 ---
Speaking of B, he has been addicted to "Harlem Shake" videos for over a week now. He officially introduced me to them two days before I started seeing them everywhere. Even Kelly & Michael did it on their show on Tuesday!  I'm not a big fan of the original video because it's just weird. But I love this one from my college's Swim & Dive team!

--- 7 ---
Somebody had fun on Fat Tuesday.
And she didn't even have to lift her shirt.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

04 February 2013

Guest Post at Messy Wife, Blessed Life: Library Love

Mandi has a great series called Baby on a Budget over at her blog Messy Wife, Blessed Life. Considering I used to teach a class entitled "Budget for Baby," contributing to this series was a no-brainer. Others have posted about some of the 'big' topics we covered in my class, so I decided to post about a smaller, but always-frugal decision: utilizing your public library. (I'm actually writing this up right now instead of going to our usual library story hour because I don't feel like digging the car out of the snow this morning.)

Here's a sneak peek of the post:
While you can go the traditional routes to saving money as a parent (which I certainly do)--couponing, deal-hunting, cloth diapering, et cetera--there are some other less obvious ways to stretch your dollar and bump up your family's quality of life.  Yes, today I will be sharing about the awesomeness of the public library . . . continue reading more at Messy Wife, Blessed Life
If you have found your way over here for the first time, welcome! Mandi likes to harp on the fact that I've won a lot of cool stuff. Check out the most recent awesome win of mine (it's probably my best win so far). Hang around for a bit because soon I will be posting some of my own personal tips for winning giveaways!

03 February 2013

What I Wore Sunday (Vol. 11)

Took baby (almost-toddler) to mass by myself for the first time!

And we actually fared pretty well. She tried to steal snacks from the toddler sitting in front of us, and she covered her ears during the prayer intentions (which made me laugh and I was having a hard time stifling it, which just encouraged her more). I was able to hear and understand most of the homily, and on my way out I thanked the priest that his homilies are good and clear enough that they can be followed even in the midst of baby-wrangling.
Linking up over yonder
It's been snowing a lot here this weekend, so this is what we looked like on our way to mass:

And after I made our "coat mountain" in the pew, I looked like this:
Pardon the hat hair
Shirt: Mossimo via Target // Scarf: I think it was my mother's way back when // Skirt: Geoffrey Beene Sport (what sport would you be playing in this?), thrifted // Fleece-lined leggings: Target // Boots: Bare Traps via DSW

I was glad I wore a skirt, for practical reasons. I pulled it taut while sitting, and it served as a 'table' for puffs to keep Cora quiet during consecration. And she was so distracted that she didn't try to make a mad dash up the aisle like usual.

Random quote of the day, as I watched the snow really fall heavily this morning, which I have never seen in real life: "I feel like I'm living in a snow globe."

Also, sometimes I make ugly cakes:
I had half of a cake (a dome, really) just sitting there, waiting to be decorated with leftover icing.
I'll be eating that tonight while I watch "the Beyoncé concert with football thrown in for good measure." Oh, and the ads. I majored in ads. I like ads.

01 February 2013

7 Quick Takes (Anywhere But Here Edition)

--- 1 ---
I finally watched The Princess and the Frog this week. What an adorable movie! But it totally made me miss the Gulf Coast, especially now during Mardi Gras season. I didn't know the movie was set in New Orleans but pinned the accents within the first two minutes. And now I want some beignets.

From 2011, on my last visit to NOLA
--- 2 ---
Speaking of Mardi Gras, I saw pączki in the store for the first time. Apparently that's a Polish Fat Tuesday thing. It looked like a doughnut, but it said it was prune-filled. My baby loves prunes, so maybe I'll get it for her.

But where is the king cake?!! I may or may not make some (for the first time ever), but I'll definitely be serving up pancakes on Mardi Gras. I need to pull out our bead box soon.

Yes, my baby attended the Pensacola Mardi Gras parade at 3 weeks old.
She only got smacked with beads like twice. I think.
--- 3 ---
Speaking of homesickness and Lent in general, I booked a plane ticket to go back home for Easter! I haven't actually celebrated Easter with my family in Georgia since my last year of college (2006). It's just the baby and me going, but at least B has family here to take care of him. My sister's husband is becoming Catholic, so if there was ever a year to go, this is the one!

--- 4 ---
My flight was super cheap! Like under $150 cheap. Granted, I'll be driving 2 hours down to Indianapolis and having my in-laws take me to the airport, but still. And oh, I'm staying an extra day or two for no good reason. But so cheap!

--- 5 ---
I miss the beach. And I don't really like the snow or being cold. I noticed yesterday that it wasn't dark when we left the gym, and that gave me hope! C'mon, summer.

This was taken way back in my Virginia Beach days.

--- 6 ---
Have you shopped my closet yet? I have some clothes for sale, and it links up to other people who have clothes for sale. Go get yourself some new duds!

--- 7 ---
Did you see my post about my baby's birthday party? It's almost all pictures, so you don't have to use your whole brain. Go check it out if you haven't. Here's a preview:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!