Archive | April, 2013

Learning your own movement

30 Apr

The little boy is just about ready to crawl with some speed. I don’t really know how he’s figuring it out, but he is. He went from frog hopping his back legs with no arm movement last week to individual knee and hand movements this week. He still topples over, usually head first, fairly quickly. He likes practicing though, especially walking. He looks like a Charlie Chaplin mimic from behind with his little waggle, just with some color. And no cane or top hat.

What is it that I’m teaching him, and what is genetically ingrained in Walt? All babies first do the hand and knee rocking. They sit, they crawl, they stand up, they walk. Without much help, he’s following the instructions that billions of people laid out before him. The path of least resistance to adulthood.

I saw a man walking down the street a few days ago in what looked like ancient military garb, covered in medals. I briefly wondered if they were really his. I guess once you learn to walk, it’s important to follow your own, unique path.

 

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Am I a foodie?

26 Apr

Last weekend we finally used the massage gift certificate David got us for our one year anniversary. I was just starting to get my pregnant belly this time last year, and I didn’t want to waste an expensive massage being uncomfortable on my stomach. A year later, the massage was a heavenly break for both of us after all the back pains we’ve had from lifting and holding a growing child.

During the massage I briefly thought to myself: I wish I had a little bit more fat on me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way I look… most of the time. Unlike what many women go through, pregnancy and motherhood seem to have taken all my body issue worries away. Being pregnant and giving birth utilized my body in a way that I had never experienced before and it finally clicked that this is what I was made for. I wasn’t just a shell for obsessive thoughts and food garbage. Strangely enough, I felt the most peace with my body when I had no control over growing another tiny human. I had say in the food, drink, and exercise input, but other than that, Walt was on autopilot. It makes me dizzy to think about everything that went on while forming him.

But the massage made me think about looking more like Marilyn Monroe than Twiggy. Oh, I definitely don’t look like Twiggy, but I’m just not interested in that ideal anymore. I want to look like I eat. I want padding for my little boy to snuggle into. I want to be healthy and also fill out a dress with my curves.

My mother called me a foodie this weekend. I usually associate that description with hipsters who only eat interesting food combinations at fancy restaurants, but maybe it’s time I change my mind. It was quite a compliment after she raved about our flank steak meal we served Sunday night. It was a lively family dinner that included our next door neighbor and her little girl. We threw them into the pool head first, but I think we all had a good time together. Reminds me of when I first met Dave. The second time he hung out with my family we shared Thanksgiving together. I am not one to hold back and play it safe!

The more healthy lifestyle I live, the less I want to go back to processed foods, overusing paper products, cheap cosmetics, and sugar. It just makes sense to me, and everything tastes and works better too. David asked me the other day, “What’s happening to you?” since the wife he met ate Ramen noodles every day and honestly didn’t really care about all this stuff. Thank goodness we can evolve.

The best fish tacos you’ve ever had

18 Apr

If you like fish tacos or you don’t like fish tacos, these are still the tacos for you (you could probably substitute fried chicken strips for the fish and it would be just as delicious). It is another recipe taken from my mother, and I was actually able to make it just as good as her original dish!

Ingredients:

fish (tilapia, cod, or grouper works well. We did three pieces of tilapia for the two of us and had a little to spare ~ .8lbs)
bread crumbs
salt
vegetable oil
tortillas (corn or flour, your preference)
1/2 head of cabbage, cored
1/2 lb carrots
can of chipotle peppers (they come in adobo sauce – find in the international food aisle in your local grocery store, along with the salsa)
2 heaping spoonfuls of lite mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
chipotle salsa

Directions:

First, prepare your coleslaw. I don’t normally like coleslaw, but this one is amazing. Either use your food processor or hand chop your cabbage and carrots. My mom hand chopped but I like to use the food processor. So easy. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in 3-4 chopped and de-seeded chipotle peppers (4 was fairly hot) and as much of the sauce from the can as you want. Add your sour cream and mayo, mix well, and you’re done. This amount of coleslaw probably serves four people if you’re generous with your helpings.

Next, fry your fish. Cut it into strips and bread it (my mom suggested Panko breadcrumbs but the ones I had from the farmer’s market worked just as well); add salt to your breadcrumbs and no need to use egg to adhere the crumbs to the fish. Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.

Finally, load your tortilla. Fish, salsa, coleslaw – I put a lot on there. Eat. Enjoy.

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What I thought about this Monday.

16 Apr

I will teach my son to be kind, to be generous, and above all, to be good.

He is a sweet soul, ready to be educated in so many ways. He is happy, and he loves. I will continue giving to his natural tendencies. And as my neighbor said the other day to her young daughter, “You can be many things, but disrespectful is not one of them.”

I want Walter to grow up adding to the good in the world. He will not grow up and do something that makes strangers think, “What went wrong with this boy’s parents?” because honestly, if a person does something horrible, I look to the parents. Where were they? Were they negligent, or were they teaching their children these values? Besides the instances of true physical imbalances (whether by genetics or life choices e.g. drugs), the community in which you grow up has to teach you everything you know about morality and choices. Who else is there to lead you besides the people around you?

I will not let my son be a bully. He will not belittle women, people of other races, or anyone else. He will revere his family. My wish for him is to be like his father, fighting for the rights of himself and other people, committed to what our country stands for. Not letting the bad people get away with their actions.

In the midst of all this thinking, Mondays are my chore days. I clean the bathrooms and change the sheets, do laundry and vacuum. Of course there are always mid-week chores, but Mondays I really run around like a crazy person trying to get everything done. It is a good feeling, at the end of a busy day, to relax in a clean house.

I made dinner from a recipe my mother made up. It makes you feel like you are eating at a fancy restaurant. Fried swordfish spiced with trocomare and pepper, on top of a mixed green salad with blackberries, chunks of champagne mango, pepper, and balsamic dressing. The balsamic dressing is 1/4 cup delicious balsamic, 1/3 cup olive oil, and salt to taste.

Easy and so delicious.

I went about my day and made it to the end with all my limbs, surrounded by the people I love. I thank God that the good people in this world far outnumber the bad. But I wonder, sometimes, if humanity is intrinsically good or bad. Why is it so easy for some people to be so evil, to be so careless with other people’s lives? Or are we all good and some people turn on us, like an old, loyal dog who one day ravages his owner? I will never understand the need to harm other people. This world is so fragile, yet filled with so much, it seems sturdy. It seems like it will be here forever.

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A heavy heart burdens the mind

11 Apr

It’s not always fun in the sun, projects that need to get done, and friends to hang out with. Sometimes you get a sunburn, you spill the paint everywhere, or your heart gets broken. Or as my mother says, your ego takes over, and your ego isn’t interested in happiness. It’s out there to get you.

Lately I’ve been a bit down. I don’t like when this happens, because it is very true that negativity drains you. It gives you nothing in return except obsessive thoughts, a downhill spiral into a land I am not interested in visiting anymore. When I was younger I spent a good chunk of my life sharing my body and mind with crippling depression. I say this because it affected every aspect of my life for almost a decade. From 1999 – 2008 I don’t think I was fully myself.

Despite that significant portion being a bit of a mess, I have had a great life. I have experienced a lot, I have accomplished many things, and I have loved greatly. But sometimes I can understand people who suffer mid-life crises, because when you look back and see things you’d like to change, and yet you know that you absolutely cannot do that, the damage is done, that part of your life has already been lived… well, it’s a scary feeling. To know that you are only headed in one direction, for better or worse.

And that’s what has gotten me down: forgetting about the numerous good things and focusing on what I don’t have. There are many people that I used to be very close to that I am not friends with anymore. So many, in fact, that a friend once said, “Well, if they’re all doing the same thing to you, maybe you’re the problem, not all of them.” Which made me mad, because who wants to know that they are the source of their problems?

When I went off to college, my only mission was to find myself. I needed to be in a place where my first thoughts weren’t about depression. It took a long time, a lot of searching, and a lot of pain to extricate myself. And during that time, my high school friends moved on. They were able to get it together quicker than I was. I didn’t get fantastic grades my first time in college, I missed the boat on getting into a lucrative career (at least for now), and I gained and lost a lot of friends. In retrospect there are many, many things I could have done differently. And when I tried to make up for my past transgressions, I was not treated with reciprocal respect.

Yes, the piercing sword hurts. But what would hurt worse is if I continue to dwell on these things I cannot change, these friends I will not have again. I have many other friends, and I shouldn’t put them aside to chase after the past. High school, no less. Haven’t I grown up since then? It’s very similar to my romantic relationships. If I had treated David the same way I treated my other boyfriends, we would not be happily married with a marvelous child to lavish our attention over. I choose to make every day the best day I can for our family. I can’t forget to do that for the rest of my world too and know that the laughter and imagination isn’t over yet.

Life isn’t really about what you have and don’t have. It’s about the images you create of the things you think you want.

Our weekends are wearing Mama out — in a good way!

9 Apr

A beautiful day like today makes it easy to go for a long walk with the baby. Besides, it’s probably a good idea to build up his immune system to pollen early on if he’s going to be living in Atlanta. Today was a good start since everything outside has a bright, yellow sheen to it. He’s starting to like the stroller more, so we can get in two miles pretty easily and that’s nice for my sanity and muscles.

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The pretty blooms of our magnolia tree we planted last year. It’s doing well this year so far. We thought we were going to lose it to fungus last summer, but it’s held on!

This weekend Jason spent the night Friday night. Reminds me of old-fashioned high school sleepovers grown-up style. We watched This is 40, which instead of being funny was a depressing look at what marriage and kids can do to people. I kept looking at Dave and saying, “That’s not going to happen to us, is it?” But it was nice to have some friend, wine, good food, and gossip time.

Saturday I started staining the front porch. It’s a project I have wanted to do since our home improvements last year. In retrospect, when our friend/contractor Gary offered to do the porch for $50, I should have taken it. I’ve known that since last year but really felt it this weekend when we opened up what was left of the 5 gallon tank of stain we bought a year ago and it was sludge. He had done the back porch, and when he offered I thought boy I don’t want to spend another $50 after everything we’ve spent, I can do this myself, it looks easy. Well, it isn’t hard, but it isn’t easy either.

I got a late start due to the sludge problem. David had to go pick up more stain and materials to build new posts. The end posts on our hand rails are soft with decay so it’s about time. I think it’s going to start a whole new painting project since they’ll be freshly white and the rest of the porch is dark with age. However, this is the year of the front lawn improvements, so it will only be fitting with our theme. I have a vision to makeover our bed of weeds.

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Pre-stain. The pollen wasn’t too bad yet.

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First coat. Looking good.

I didn’t even get the stairs started before the sun went down and we had dinner plans with my mother. To which we were an hour or two late. I was like the Energizer Bunny trying to get the first coat on, not even stopping to talk to a friendly neighbor that walked by (I did apologize). I didn’t anticipate how far apart the boards are which meant I also had to paint in between all the cracks. Turns out it’ll need a second coat too since it looks like when you color with markers and you can see where I stopped and started painting. Luckily the second coat should be much easier. And I’ll have to stain the mailbox post too. Everything needs to coordinate! It’s always how these projects go; you fix one thing and it makes all the nearby stuff look shabby.

Sunday we went with church folks to the Braves game. The Bravos are so hot this year! I love it! We sat in the outfield, which Dave and I never do, and it was fun to have a new perspective, but in the future if we’re bringing the baby we’ll need shaded seats. He was not too happy in the super afternoon sun. But we were only there for the second half of the game, so he survived. He sure is cute in his Braves outfit.

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Look at those teeth!

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Great seats!

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Us and the snow cone guy. A classic.

After Orlando, Easter family-fun-filled weekend, and this weekend, I’m exhausted! But having fun with my husband and son is what life is for and why I get out of bed bright and chipper on a Monday morning… well, after a few snooze buttons. Oh that’s right, the baby doesn’t have a snooze button!

Mama’s Recommendations

4 Apr

Inspired by several friends having babies this year, I decided to make a list of the items we’ve used a lot and love.

1. BreathableBaby mesh crib bumper – fits every crib! We tried Carter’s super soft bumper which was soft but it didn’t fit our standard crib well and was too bulky for easy sheet changes, which is a must.
2. Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine (has an audio input wire plus sleep timer)
3. Warm air humidifier (necessary for cold weather and colds). Get one with auto shut off.
4. Changing table with drawers and shelves
5. Charlie Banana one size cloth diapers. Or any cloth diaper! There are so many types out there.
6. OsoCozy flannel baby wipes (to use with homemade diaper spray). Even if you don’t want to do cloth diapers, this is a great way to save money and help out the environment. I got three packs and just throw them in with regular baby laundry. I got a spray bottle from CVS and just use a little bit of soap and water – you can add some drops of baby oil too – for the wipe spray. I think these clean better than disposable wipes.
7. The First Year’s Infant to Toddler Tub with sling
8. Everything Burt’s Bees Baby Bee
9. Bouncy seat – make sure to get one that won’t scrunch them up
10. I have mixed feelings about the Bumbo. I’ve used it a lot with babysitting charges but Walt hated it so we never used it. Same with the Bumper Jumper.
11. Exersaucer! SO useful when they outgrow the bouncy seat but you need your hands free.
12. Clevamama bath towels. Don’t even try to use any others. These are the best. They’re big and wonderful.
13. Catbird Baby Pikkolo carrier. This is so comfortable and fits from newborn+ . I also would get a simple sling for quick and easy in/out needs. I wanted to love the Moby Wrap but Walt didn’t care for it unfortunately. I think we successfully used it for one afternoon, but some babies love it.
14. Graco SnugRide 22. I like the smallest one because it’s the lightest and when they outgrow it (about 6 months) they’re already big enough where you won’t be carrying them around in the bucket seat anyway. Don’t forget the extra car seat base for the second car. It’s only like $30 and will ease your mind.
15. Britax Marathon 70. You won’t need another car seat after this one.
16. Diono Easy View Back Seat Mirror. Love this.
17. Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seat. I don’t like the idea of them in a separate high chair. For one thing it takes up a lot of room, and for another I like them at the table we’re eating at.
18. Halo sleepsacks. The small size fits up to 18 lbs (about 6-8 months depending on your baby). Microfleece for cold weather, cotton for warm weather. We have about three in each size and that works for laundry/throwup needs.
19. Summer Infant Swaddleme, again several for peeing/throwing up laundry needs. We only used these until he could fit into the sleepsacks cause I don’t think he really liked to be swaddled. I’ve also heard Halo swaddle blankets are the best for Houdini babies.
20. Several crib sheets. I have and like the Carter’s jersey ones but they’re also really thin. In the future I’ll try to find thicker ones. We put a towel under the crib sheet so we didn’t buy a mattress pad.
21. Safety 1st Heavenly Dreams Crib Mattress
22. Graco Pack ‘n Play – has the bassinet feature for when they’re really little. Kinda big/heavy so if you’re traveling by air a lot I would buy a second or different one.
23. Carter’s Wrap-Me-Up Receiving Blankets – we had a 12 ct rotation. Used them a bunch for the first few months for just about everything, including wrapping him up.
24. LA Baby 4 sided changing pad – and several covers. Don’t forget a travel changing pad (Kushies) and a travel wet clothes/diaper bag (Planet Wise).
25. Lots and lots of sleep n play pajamas. I ended up liking snap ones better than zippers when he got a little bigger because when it’s cold out you don’t have to freeze them all the way to get their diaper off.
26. Boppy pillow. We ended up using this more for playing than nursing cause it was more comfortable to use a regular pillow after a while.
27. Avent double electric pump and manual pump. Both fantastic for different occasions. Very comfortable (well, as comfortable as you can be pumping). Walt also really likes the Avent bottles/nipples the best. We tried Born Free but Walt always struggled with those. Lansinoh milk storage bags and nursing pads. The Nursing Mother’s Companion.
28. Simply Saline nose spray, bulb syringe, baby nail clippers, thermometer
29. Favorite toy ever: Sassy Ring O’Links Rattle Development Toy. I divided them into sets of three and have them all over the house.
30. Leap Frog Learn and Groove music table
31. Also first blocks, Fisher Price donut pyramid, stacking cups, & the Sophie giraffe chew toy is a must
32. Good food processor to make your own baby food. Food trays. Earth’s Best Cereals. Nuk spoons
33. Nuk pacifiers (we only use these for special occasions e.g. at church and in the car). Booginhead Pacigrip, which he likes as much as the pacifier.
34. Monitor. We have the sound-only kind and are just fine with it.
35. Diaper Bag. Such a personal preference. But don’t get one too small or it’s useless.
36. People will give you lots of clothes, blankets, toys, and towels (seriously return the towels and just go for the Clevamama ones. Except for maybe when they’re brand new a smaller towel works well)
37. Boon Grass countertop drying rack, Green Sprouts waterproof bibs (people will give you lots of cloth bibs)
38. Safety 1st Easy Saver Diaper Pail. This is a must and inexpensive. It contains the smell SO well and uses normal trash bags so you don’t have to pay for special bags. When we switched to cloth it also holds a reusable diaper pail liner (Planet Wise)
39. Carter’s Hosiery socks – they stay on!
40. Take n Toss spill proof cups (I don’t toss). I like small Pyrex dishes to serve his food in. People will give you cups and plates etc. too.
41. If you use disposables, Costco brand diapers or Pampers Swaddlers for when they’re young.
42. Nellie’s Laundry Soda to wash all your laundry in. No more dryer sheets! Vinegar in the rinse cycle (with a Downy ball).
43. I love the BOB stroller (and it adapts to fit the infant car seat too) but it is really big and heavy. But to take it on walks and stuff it’s fantastic. I will probably get an umbrella stroller for easier travel.

Whew is this it? I’m sure I’ve forgotten something!