Friday, March 30, 2012

Operation Birthday (putting it all together)

We are one day away from the big 1st Birthday!  I am giddy with excitement and pride to celebrate Baby Boy with our family and friends.  Here is a small glimpse at some of our details for the party.  I will post more photos after the weekend.
I found these polka dot flowers at Michaels and thought they were perfect for the party!
I also found some "paint cans" at Michaels and I put on the cookie monster cutouts we purchased as part of our printables.


We have a good amount of plush toys like the one above in all different sizes.  The water bottle labels were also from the printables we purchased.

I found these bags at Target and they were only a $1 each!  They are perfect for the favor bags.

All of these items were also in the $1 bins at Target.  A writing pad, small cookie monster writing pad, elmo book, and rhyming flash cards.  The girls at the party will get an Abby Cadabby pink gift bag.

I can't wait to put it all together tomorrow. The rest of the decorations are awesome! Hubby and I took the day off to spend with Baby Boy just the three of us. My heart is very, very, happy... 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crazy Eyes: A Birth Story

There I am, sitting on the couch after a brutally long day at work and two days before my due date.  I had a client event that afternoon and was on my feet running around, okay maybe it was more like waddling around, to make sure every detail was as it should be.  Earlier that day I did experience some interesting discharge (betcha didn't think I'd start the yucky talk this soon, did ya) that warranted me to call my doctor.  I was assured that it was probably the mucus plug, completely normal, and that my body was preparing for labor.  She also said, "it doesn't necessarily mean you are going into labor just that your body is gearing up for it."  I'm so thankful for that client event because if I had been just sitting around that day I would have been anxious and nervous for sure knowing that my body was "preparing for labor."

So as I mentioned I was sitting on the couch with my very swollen, very tired feet propped up on some pillows.  Once I was able to relax I could really feel what was going on inside of me.  LOTS of movement and LOTS of tightening.  As I was trying to unwind and catch up on some DVR action I was noticing that the tightening felt a bit more concentrated than the usual Braxton Hicks I was used to.  That's when I looked over at my hubby and explained what I was experiencing were probably not Braxton Hicks.

It was as if he didn't even hear me.  My words went in one ear and out the other.  I know this to be true because he had a look of concern on his face and I could tell he was in deep thought about something and wanted to get it off his chest...

For at least a month or so we had finalized the name of our Baby Boy. We loved it.  We were done with the back and forth.  It was set.  So you can imagine my state of shock as I was embarking on the so-called "adventure of child birth" when hubby decides to tell me:

Hubby: You know, I've been thinking.
Me: Y-y-yesss???
Hubby:  I'm not too crazy about the name we picked out.  I really think we should reconsider going with our other option.
Me: (I took a deep breath in.  Closed my eyes and exhaled.  When my eyes re-opened they were red and swirling.  Kinda like the "crazy eyes" episode of How I Met Your Mother.  In case you need a visual it was a little something like this...)


I simply replied to him, "NOT.  NOW."

The contractions kept intensifying and I thought I should try to get some sleep.  That was positively impossible since the contractions had just kicked into high gear.  We had previously taken a Bradley Method class, which I highly recommend, and I knew that just because I was experiencing intense contractions it didn't mean we needed to rush straight to the hospital.  So my husband drew a bath for me, grabbed the stop watch and we began to see what we were really working with here.  

I sat in the glorious, warm bath and felt very calm even though my contractions were erratic and basically on top of one another.  In a matter of two hours I had gone from contractions 10 minutes apart to 2 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute.  There was no rhyme or reason to them at all.  From Bradley class I knew to stay calm and just breathe.  That is exactly what I did for the next hour or so.  Yes, I sat in the bath tub for that long.  I finally declared that I needed to get out and start moving.  It was perfect timing because as soon as I got out of the tub I experienced the "bloody show" (there's that yucky talk again).  We called our doctor, I think it was about midnight and she said to come on in.

At this point my calm and collected husband turned into the Tasmanian Devil and began whirling around the house picking things up, putting dishes away, getting the dog and cats situated, etc.  I was breathing through each erratic contractions and rocking my body from side to side and standing at the top of the stairs, trying to remain calm while Hubby was taking what felt like a decade to get us out of the house.

The car ride was fast and the deep breathing was keeping me sane.  At times the contractions would get away from me and I would start to panic.  I remember reaching for the grab bar and repeating out loud, "it hurts!" And, "I'm scared!"  Hubby would then reassure me that everything was ok and he would remind me to breathe.  He was brilliant.

We arrived at the hospital assuming that since we had pre-registered it would be a breeze getting up to the delivery area.  HA!  FOOLS!!  Little did we know pre-registration meant nothing in the way of rapid service to the delivery area.  Again the breathing got away from me.  Hubby was there to help.

I was finally in the delivery room and I believe this is the exact point that I looked right into Hubby's eyes and said, "I can't do this.  Give. Me. The. Drugs."  He grabbed my hand and once again reassured me that everything was going to be okay and that I could do this.  What a guy!  Then he leaned in close and quietly whispered, "I left the camera in the car."


While he was away the nurse gave me the 'ole "how dilated are you" check... 8 cm!!!!  Hallelujah!!!  I had labored at home for 6 hours and came out of it like this.  I could not have been more thrilled!  I was told we would just keep right on going this way until the doctor gets here and she would give me another check.

I kept slowly breathing through each contraction with the help of the nurses and Hubby.  When it would get away from me they were there to help.  In between contractions there was silence.  It was lovely.  We had spent countless hours compiling numerous play lists on our iPods anticipating every mood I could possibly have been in.  Turns out I couldn't handle any noise what-so-ever.  Silence was the only thing keeping me focused. 

The nurses would check me from time to time and after three hours from arriving at the hospital I was told I was at 10cm and should start thinking about pushing.  Nope.  Sorry!  Not gonna happen.  The contractions were one thing and now you want me to PUSH!?!?  Are you nuts?!?!?  I started to get scared.  It was getting real (as if it wasn't already).

The doctor came in and she explained that pushing may actually help the contractions to feel better.  I took her word and gave it a try.  It took me a few attempts to truly push correctly.  "Great!" Said the doctor.  "Let's keep doing this for about an hour and I'll come back and check on you."  WHAT!?!?!?!   I'm sorry, did you just say keep doing this for an HOUR?!?!  I turned to Hubby...


He put is hand on me and kept doing what he did best by reassuring me that everything was fine and I could do this.  Okay!  He's right!  Here we go.  Let's have a baby!  I can still remember the feeling of determination I had at that moment.  There was no way in hell that I was about to push for an hour just to have the Doc come back in and tell me to keep right on pushing.  No way.  No how.   I dug deep and I pushed.  I pushed for TEN MINUTES when the nurse said, "Whoa, whoa, stop right there!"  "I need to get the doctor, your baby's head is right here."

The doctor entered the room and gave me a very surprised and "atta girl" look. It was game time.  The Doc was in place, Hubby was in place and it was my time to shine.  At this point I had gone from quietly breathing through contractions to loudly grunting through each push.  I didn't know who I was!  I didn't know where these animalistic sounds were coming from.  In between wildebeest-esque noise I was shouting, "I CAN'T DO THIS!"  "HELP ME!" And my all time favorite, "GET HIM OUT OF ME!!!"  Charming, wasn't I?

And then... 

Peace.  My son was born.   

He was placed on my chest... I did it.  I had a natural child birth just like I had set out to do.  Although I wanted a natural child birth there was always that voice in my head that knew if the going got tough I could just go for the epidural.  But with my Bradley training and more importantly, my husband, I was able to stick with my intention.  My husband was amazing.  He was my rock.  He was tender and sweet at the right times and encouraging and tough in the others.  Later after the commotion settled down and we were reflecting back on the labor and delivery I said to my husband, "I can't believe you cried.  I didn't think you were gonna."  His response still makes me tear up when I think about it.  He said, "I cried because I was so proud of you.  I couldn't believe you had just done what you did."

Heck!  I couldn't believe I had done what I did.  Child birth is crazy.  But I have to say that I had an amazing experience.  Often times we only hear of the horror stories that strike panic and fear into expectant moms everywhere.  Thanks to the immeasurable help from my husband, the Bradley Method, and above all my determination, I have a happy story to share.  

As I write this post I realize it is more for me as I am reflecting on the past year with my son's 1st Birthday fast approaching.  There aren't many helpful tips or anything like that.  I will share more about the Bradley Method and details within on another post.  This was simply my light-hearted birth story and I hope you enjoyed it.  Birth is a miracle and I am blessed to have experienced it and I am blessed to have a healthy baby boy that is the light of my life.

What is your birth story? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Operation Birthday (an update)

The countdown to "1" has officially started this week!  The Cookie Monster extravaganza will take place next Saturday.  This weekend was spent getting the house ready and running numerous errands, checking off many to-do's, and hemorrhaging money.  Fun times!

Items remaining for the week are putting together the centerpieces (which are freaking adorable, if I do say so myself), putting on customized water bottle labels, getting Baby Boy a haircut, putting favor bags together, and what seems like many other little details.  Probably my favorite thing remaining is selecting 12 photos to display, one from each month of his sweet little life.  We started over the weekend and it was taking us forever because we kept laughing and welling up as we scrolled through them all.  It will be tough to chose.

Can't believe it's here... my son's 1st Birthday!  Wasn't I just sitting on the couch looking at my husband and saying, "Ummm, honey.  These feel a little different than Braxton Hicks..."  Didn't we just bring him home?!?  Weren't we just jumping up and down because he rolled over and now we are cheering as he walks?!?  Didn't he just look at me with his big brown eyes and share with me his first tiny little smile?  Now he looks at me with his big brown eyes, smiles and says... "Dada!"  Apparently, Mama is very hard for babies to say.  It doesn't really bother me at all... not one bit... I'm cool with it.  {sniff}

I'm so excited for this party!  I can't wait for our family and friends to be with us as we celebrate the most amazing person that I have ever known.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Confessions of a "sorta" breastfeeder: Part 2

As I write the "pumping" part of my experience the only thing running through my head is the Technotronic song "Pump up the Jam!"  You know, "pump up the jam, pump it up while your feet are stompin' and the jam is pumpin'...  Pump it up a little more, get the party goin' on the dance floor..."  Don't you love that song?!? 


:: crickets ::

Okay, okay, I'll stay on track. 

So now I was exclusively pumping and all was right in the world again.  Baby Boy was not frustrated and he was still getting all of the benefits of breast milk.  I was happy because I felt more in control and less helpless.  However, I did feel like the recruits from Full Metal Jacket and whenever they would say 'rifle' I would replace it with 'breast pump.'

Recruits: [chanting] This is my rifle breast pump. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My rifle breast pump is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle breast pump is useless. Without my rifle breast pump, I am useless. I must fire pump my rifle breast pump true...

Exclusively pumping was tricky.  I could never produce enough to store up my milk as it was all going to Baby Boy.  Plus, for whatever reason, my supply started to decrease.  On a good day I could get 3 - 5 ounces on each side but as time went on I was lucky to get 3 ounces on my "good side" and maybe 2 ounces on the other.  Baby Boy's appetite was increasing and we found ourselves supplementing with formula.

Pumping also took its toll on my beloved boobs.  Clogged ducts and swollen, aching nipples.  I thought I hated when my clothes would breeze by my nips before!  Yeeowza!!!  I even started to hate being tied to the machine.  I wished so badly that I could just scoop Baby Boy up, latch him on, and go about our day.  Instead there is an entire ritual that goes along with pumping.  The equipment, getting situated, keeping things clean, transferring the bottles from the pump to the fridge.  Praying that in your state of pure exhaustion that you don't trip or make a stupid move causing so much as a drop to spill.  But all of the hardships aside I was still committed and determined to hit my first goal of giving Baby Boy breast milk for 6 months.  Then I would shoot for 9 months, a year, and possibly beyond.

I was now approaching the end of my maternity leave and was gearing up to return to working full-time.  Back to an office consisting of me and two men.  Two men WITHOUT children.  One of the two doesn't even like kids, never wanted to have kids and doesn't understand why anyone would want to have kids.  He is my boss.

I had to devise a plan in order to keep pumping.  To make things worse there is not a good place for me to pump in the office or even in the building for that matter.  I could have gone into the ladies room but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  So my plan would consist of going to my parents house on my lunch break because they live about 8-10 minutes from the office.  It was quiet, clean and a relaxing place to pump.  By this time I had my body trained to pump first thing in the morning, once on a lunch break, once right when I got home from work and once before bed.  The plan was flawless.  This would be easy!

HA!  I had forgotten how unpredictable my lunch breaks really were.  It was going to be hard to have it at the same time every day.  Because, as you may know, you can't tell your boobs when it is time to pump, they tell you.  I would sit at my desk with boobs so hard a quarter would have bounced off of them just staring at the clock and rushing to get my work done so I could take my break.  I would race to my parents house, get my pumping station set up, stare at the clock because by the time I got started I really only had 15 minutes to pump before I had to stop, clean up, pack up and race back to work.  Often times I was cutting myself off from being completely depleted of milk.  The rest of my afternoon was spent uncomfortable and stressed because I knew I was screwing with my supply.

I'd race home after work and instead of getting to hold my son, kiss and play with him I had to go straight to the pump and go through the whole routine for a good 45 minutes.  Then I had to take care of prepping things for the next day, have dinner, feed Baby Boy his final bottle, put him to bed and pump one more time.

I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep up with this program and have any sanity.  By now I had provided my son with 3 1/2 months worth of breast milk.  I would lie awake in bed and go back and forth on whether or not I was done.  I would chat about it with my husband and he was always supportive of whatever I would decide... 

This was the end of the road for me.

I felt bad.  I felt conflicted.  I felt guilty for depriving my son of something so good and pure for him.  But conversely I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders and I felt like I had my body back.  This way I had time to spend with my son, a more clear and focused head at work and I could use my lunch breaks to relax and decompress.

I still let the guilt creep in at times.  Especially when I talk to my friend who has a baby two months younger than my son and she is still going strong with the breastfeeding.  My cousin just had a baby in December and she hasn't had any problems with it either.  Hearing other moms talk about how wonderful it is and how much they enjoy breastfeeding does make me a bit sad.  I wanted to enjoy it more and have that bonding experience with Baby Boy.

But alas, it doesn't matter.  I did a great job.  I did what was right for me and my baby and even though we didn't truly breastfeed for a very long time I still was able to form a strong bond with him.  I will say this though...  I would absolutely have done things differently if given the opportunity and I hope to do things differently if we are fortunate enough to have another baby.  Here is what will change:

  1. I will not always take what the doctors say as 'gospel.'  Even though they said we could start supplementing with formula I wish I had stayed calm about it and kept trying with the breastfeeding.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula or formula fed babies for that matter, but I had made a commitment to breastfeeding and I should have stuck with it.
  2. I would have sought out more help than just the free clinic at the hospital.  I would have attended La Leche League meetings or looked into the cost of having a lactation consultant come to the house.
  3. I would have contacted the office building's property manager to find out if there was a room in the building that I could have access to for pumping.  Turns out, there is!!  I just discovered it a couple months ago and it would have made for a much better work pumping experience.
At the end of the day it is most important to be informed so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family.  It is also important to do what you are comfortable with and don't do things differently just because someone else suggests it or because society projects it.  Breastfeed if that's your thing.  Bring on the formula and bottles if that's what gets your engines going.  Or if it's for you...

Pump up the jams! Pump it up while your feet are stompin' and the jam is pumpin'.... 

It's stuck in your head now isn't it?!?      Hello?     :: crickets ::

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Confessions of a "sorta" breastfeeder: Part 1

As I am closing in on the first year of motherhood I have been reflecting a lot on my pregnancy, my birth story and my experience with breastfeeding.  This post will be dedicated to the breastfeeding portion of my journey.  So fasten your seat belts, It's gonna be a bumpy ride!

The birth of Baby Boy was creeping closer and I began to get those anxious butterflies.  Not knowing when or how labor was going to go for me was pretty tough being that I am a planner by nature.  What was even harder for me was the idea of breastfeeding.

My husband and I took a Bradley Method class (more on that another time) and the last few sessions were dedicated to breastfeeding.  I would sit in our class listening to the teacher talk about it and my palms would get sweaty, I could feel my face get flushed and I'm sure I was looking at her with the deer-in-headlights stare. 

I had decided right away after learning about all of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding that I would be 100% committed to going through with it for the health of my baby.  However, just because I was committed to it didn't mean that I wasn't terrified about it.  I was honestly more anxious and nervous about breastfeeding than I was for labor.  I couldn't wrap my brain around having a tiny human attached to my boob and finding any kind of joy from it.  After all, I have VERY sensitive nipples.  Just ask my husband!  Or don't... that would be weird.  They are so sensitive that I don't even like the feeling of my clothes brushing up against them so how will I be able to stand someone SUCKING from them?!?!  It made my skin crawl just thinking about it.

I confided in my girlfriends and I was shocked by their reactions.  Two out of the three I shared my feelings with confessed that they too were a bit nervous for the experience.  The third was an experienced breastfeeder who has also made her career working in the industry of motherhood and babies.  She laughed at me and said I had nothing to be afraid of.  Once my son was in my arms I would see how wonderful and NOT scary it is.  I still had my doubts...

Fast forward to the arrival of my amazing baby boy.  As soon as he was born (au naturale, thank you very much) I immediately held him close and we shared our first skin-to-skin contact.  He immediately put his thumb in his mouth and I asked if that meant he was hungry... and so it began.

From the beginning my fears did in fact wash away and I immediately went into "mom mode" doing what needed to be done for my baby.  I didn't think twice about my nipples I even remember thinking to myself, "this isn't so bad!" 

I valued my time spent in the hospital.  The nurses and the lactation consultants were great.  They helped me get Baby Boy latched on and they helped me make corrections when I would try to get him latched on by myself.  They shared with me a ton of knowledge and they told me it was alright and held my hands when I would get frustrated and cry.  Then they sent me off into the real world and I was left to my own devices.

I thought things were going great until we went to one of our pediatrician visits and Baby Boy's weight wasn't where they wanted it to be.  The next day I went to a free clinic sponsored by the hospital I delivered at so I could find out how much milk Baby Boy was actually getting.  Turns out he wasn't even getting a full ounce after nursing for 20 minutes... ON EACH SIDE!!!!  How could this be?!?  The lactation consultant that worked the clinic said he wasn't sucking hard enough to get out what he needed.  She gave me some tips and tricks to strengthen his sucking and also encouraged me to start pumping to keep my supply up.  A few days later we went back to the pediatrician for a follow up.  Still no improvement.  They suggested supplementing with formula.  They are doctors.  They know what they are talking about and if they say start using formula than by golly, that's what we'll do!  {d'oh!! Hindsight is a real bitch}

Once the formula-filled bottle touched Baby Boy's lips, he guzzled that thing as if his life depended on it.  Then he threw it all up, of course.  Now that he had experienced the glorious ease at which milk comes out of a bottle he wanted nothing to do with me.  I tried and tried.  Some days we did great and some days were terrible.  He would resist my offerings and he would cry, I would tense up and then we would both end frustrated and tired.  I kept going to the free clinic every week and he never showed much improvement. 

The final straw was when the lady weighing Baby Boy did the calculation and said (loud enough for the whole room to hear, by the way), "he barely took half an ounce."  I replied, "I know.  That's just the way it's been going for us and I'm beginning to think I need to stick to pumping.  He is super frustrated every time I try and I am super frustrated that it isn't going well."  She smugly said, "Hmmm.  I see.  You know, it's just very important that you be there for him."  Ex-CUSE ME?!?!?  Please explain to me how:
  1. Shoving my boob in his face until he is screaming at the top of his lungs, because breastfeeding is best for him or,
  2. Coming to this clinic every single week since the second week of his life just to feel helpless that he hasn't shown improvement and wishing so badly that it was something I wasn't doing right so that I could blame myself then figure out how to fix it.  Or how about,
  3. Pumping in between feedings to keep my precious supply up no matter the hour of the day or night.
How is anything that I am attempting to do "not being there for him?!?!"  Maybe it was just her tone and she didn't really mean it the way it came out.  Maybe it was that I was exhausted, or the hormones, or it was just that I was so frustrated this whole breastfeeding thing wasn't quite going the way I wanted it to.  Regardless of the reasons, I decided that day that I was done nursing.  From then on I would exclusively pump.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One of "those moms"

Last night I was having a fit of sleeplessness and my mind was going a million miles a minute.  I examined things big and small, work related, home related, husband related, baby related, me related... you get the idea.  In an effort to turn of the noise in my head and fall back asleep, I practiced deep breathing.

I began to slip back into a restful state of relaxation, my body was calm, my mind was quieting down and all of a sudden I shot up and exclaimed, "I haven't been filling in the baby book!!!"  I startled my fat cat who lept off the bed in a huff and Hubby grunted as he rolled over.

I can't believe myself!!!  I attempted to recall the last entry I made...  I think it was Halloween... no, wait... It was Thanksgiving.  Definitely, Thanksgiving.  I have yet to record my precious Baby Boy's first Christmas, New Years, his multiple teeth, his first word, his FIRST STEPS!!!  ARGH! 

What is wrong with me?!?!  How could I have neglected to archive his important milestones and experiences?!?!  Cherished memories that will so quickly escape my mind if I don't get them down soon!  I envy those mom's that have their shit together enough to tackle the simple task of filling in the damn baby book.  I thought I was one of "those moms."

The type of mom that would have the photo albums constructed and up-to-date with cute little captions, stickers and decorations.  Instead I have a camera full of photos that I hope someday to actually print out.  Not to mention the photos saved on the computer at home, which we never remember to back up. 

This felt like one more thing, albeit a minor thing, but one more thing none-the-less to make me feel like somehow I'm failing.  Somehow between birth to this point I've been doing things all wrong.  I only breastfed for 3 months, 2 1/2 of which I was exclusively pumping (a post for another time).  I let my infant fall from the kitchen counter.  I work full-time and my baby has spent the majority of his time in someone else's care.  Because he is in daycare full-time he is constantly sick.  He is pushing the weight limit on the infant car seat as we are scraping up enough money to buy two convertible car seats.  And now the baby book...

How do "those moms" do it?  Make things look so easy and put together?  I may let the guilt creep in from time to time and let the voice of doubt whisper in my ear as I go down this path of motherhood but I think I know what needs to be done.

I need to slap myself around, kick myself in the arse, and shake off the guilt and doubt.  I am doing the best that I can.  Often times, I'm doing a pretty damn good job.  I'll fill in the baby book when I get to it.  The most important part of this journey is that my son knows how much I love him.  That he has a special smile just for me that no daycare teacher will ever receive.  I too am one of "those moms," I just do things my way. 

Do you have your own version of "those moms." The moms that you thought you would be more like or that you wish you were more like, or are you better at not comparing than I am?  I'm over it.  I am snapping out of it and going forward I will not look at my idea of "those moms" with envy, I will look at them and say "good for you!"  We are all in this together and just because the seemingly perfect moms don't display their imperfections doesn't mean they don't exist.  So to all of you out there and to all of "those moms" :: High Five::  :: Fist Bump::  :: Running start, jumping chest bump:: 

Let's make it happen again today!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday Dinner

Yesterday we had family over to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday.  We had a wonderful spread and everything we made was pretty easy yet delicious!  Jalapeno Popper Dip, and hummus for appetizers.  Then marinated and grilled fillets, Shrimp Martinis, grilled asparagus, and a couscous side dish.  I unashamedly stole my recipes from my favorite blogs but my husband took matters into his own hands and whipped up the couscous in a "mad scientist" sort of way. 

We love couscous and we probably eat it at least once, if not twice, weekly.  We dress it up, we dress it down.  It is versatile, lovely and addictive!  Yesterday's Couscous alla Hubby had crumbled bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, chives, onions, toasted pine nuts and an undeniably wonderful vinaigrette dressing.  It was probably the highlight of the meal, which is saying a lot next to thick 'n juicy fillets of beef!

Thank goodness he over-calculated the servings because we have plenty of leftovers.  ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012


Remember that quote from the Princess Bride?

The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam... And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva...

"That dweam wifin a dweam..."  Let's face it, some days it can feel anything but.  {gasp}  That's right, I said it.  It is not going to do me a lick of good to be the type of blogger that sugar coats my life.  I don't want to create a "dreamy existence" through the space I have here.  Too many people do that in the seemingly safe world of blogging.  They only project the shiny happy aspects of their lives because they want to believe so badly that is how their lives really are or they want YOU to believe that is how their lives really are.  Besides, it's the bloggers that are as honest and open about everyday things that I connect with and admire the most.  And don't even get me started on Facebook!!!!  {deep breath}  I digress...

I have a good marriage.  I have a wonderful, amazing husband and as I type this I am very cognisant of his feelings and I respect him immensely.  I am sharing this because I hope someone out there can relate.  I hope someone out there also loves their husband as much as I do and goes through the same struggles to keep that love as strong as it has always been.

It is top of mind right now as I am being faced with things that I need to work on.  I haven't been doing a great job in the marriage world lately.  I rock at Mom, most of the time.  I am awesome at my job, most of the time.  But when it comes to my marriage as of today, I know I need to work on some things.  Such as addressing his needs from our relationship as much as I focus on the things that I need.  I need to be better at communicating in a constructive way instead of yelling.  There are more, believe me! Those are just a couple biggies. 

Before being a mom, before my career, before my passion for cooking and anything else in my life... Before all of it is my life with my husband.  2012 will mark fourteen years of being together and six years of marriage.  He is all of the cliches and then some... my best friend, my partner in crime, the love of my life.  He drives me absolutely mad but I can't imagine my life without him.  He makes me laugh harder than anyone else I know.  He knows me better than anyone else I know.  He... completes... me.  HA!!!  Couldn't resist!

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you that although we do have a "dreamy existence" most of the time we are also human and we work at our marriage.  Some days we win and some days we lose but the point is that we are working on it together.  We will always work on it together.  After all, "wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva..."   

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I recently purchased the invitations for Baby Boy's 1st Birthday.  They are soooo stinkin' cute!  I went to the Etsy site and found a great printable invitation along with full party package of printable items.  The company we chose to use is called Shindig Parties To Go and they have the cutest supplies to make any party special.  It was super easy to order and the turn-around time was very quick. 

When I entertain I become obsessed with the tiniest of details and I feel like my invitations and printable supplies will help me with that!  We decided to go with this invitation and these printables.  I am so excited to put it all together! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One small step for man... or is it, One giant step for a small man?!?

"It was the end to a long day.  I had just spent hours on end with my dear Grammy going on a long walk, swinging at the park, playing with all of her toys and napping at my leisure.  She deposited me back at my home base in the early evening.  I enjoyed many rounds of smooches from my parents and our usual banter as they milled about the house doing whatever it is that they do at the end of each day.

We shared a lovely meal of gourmet panini's and soup... well, actually that's what THEY had.  I enjoyed a first course of broccoli and edamame followed by the second course alla pureed "stuff."  I was glad meal time was over because that meant play time with Mom and Dad.

We engaged in many of my favorites... "Mommy's going to get you," peek-a-boo, rough housed with Daddy.  Things were going great.  Then all of a sudden I noticed Mommy was holding my hand and Daddy was across the room reaching out for me.  The look on the poor man's face was longing for me to head his direction.  His eyes were as big as saucers and he was grinning from ear-to-ear...

My heart was pounding... I slowly let go of Mommy's hand... with Daddy in close range I reached out both of my arms and TOOK A STEP... I took one more... then another.  In an instant my Daddy scooped me up into the air, Mommy came running to our sides.  We hugged and laughed (I think Mommy was crying a tad), we clapped and cheered.  Apparently I had done something great if they were reacting this way.  Something spectacular.  Something courageous.  Something to warrant extreme love and affection.  Hahaha. Suckers. I'm gonna do that again!"

 - Baby Boy

Monday, March 12, 2012

Operation: Birthday

Baby Boy's 1st birthday is March 31st so we are in full swing with planning and details.  The theme is going to be Cookie Monster, with a few other familiar characters thrown in, but primarily the big lovable blue monster himself.  My son lights up whenever he sees Cookie Monster so we thought it was our best option.

Side note:  That Jim Henson really knew what he was doing!  I mean, a baby that can't even speak yet is so innately drawn to the characters he sees in his books, on TV, on shelves at the store, etc.  Mr. Henson was a genius. Simple as that.

Ok, back to the party.  Thanks to Pinterest I have a few great ideas to make his party a hit.  The only dilemma we are facing right now is whether to have it catered or if we should whip up the food.  We are very capable and love cooking and entertaining but I just don't know if I want to fuss over it.  Know what I mean?

So far, we have been to Target, Kohls, and Babies R Us scooping up any and all Cookie Monster related items for the decor.  We have decided on chocolate chip cookie cupcakes for the guests and a small individual cake for Baby Boy.  We have been having a blast with it.  That's right, I said WE.  My husband is just as excited for this party as I am and we have been enjoying putting it all together.  More to come...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Nice Chops!

I made pork chops for dinner the other night and they were just ok.  But then I added a brandy, mustard, cream sauce to them and they were dy-no-mite!!!  You have to try this, it is super easy and a fast meal to make on a weeknight.  This can also be done with chicken or maybe even sauce for a pasta dish.  Enjoy!

· 4 Pork Chops (bone-in, boneless, whatever floats your boat)
· 1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
· 1 Tablespoons Butter
· Half of an onion, thinly sliced
· pinch of sugar (for caramelizing)
· 3 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
· 1 cup Brandy (or White Wine If Preferred)
· 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
· 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Grainy Mustard
· 1/4 cup (to 1/2) Heavy Cream
· 1/4 cup (to 1/2) Chicken Broth
· Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preparation Instructions
Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops.  Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chops on both sides until nice and golden brown and almost cooked through. Remove pork from the skillet and keep on a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add onions to the pan for a bit of brown, caramel deliciousness.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and a dash of sugar to move along the caramelizing (you can go as long or short on the browning as you want).  Add the garlic to the pan and sauté it for a minute, stirring to make sure it won't burn. Next pour in the brandy and let the booze bubble up and cook until it's reduced by half.

Throw in the mustards and stir to combine, then pour in the cream. Stir in chicken broth, adding more if the sauce seems too thick. Taste sauce and adjust whatever you think it needs. Add the pork chops back to the pan, nestling them into the sauce. Allow sauce to cook for another few minutes, shaking the pan if needed to move things around.

Modified from: Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"My sports bra is too small!"

That was the only thing running through my head as I attempted to workout over my lunch break.  I really want to start exercising regularly again.  After all, I don't think I can continue to use the excuse, "I JUST had a baby," when my son is one year old!

I figured the best time to squeeze in a workout with my busy schedule is over my lunch break.  Problem with that is... someone might see me!!!  So?  Big whoop?  Why does that matter in the least bit?  All very good questions.  The answer is simple... I've got issues.

Instead of enjoying a beautiful sunny day, a view of the mountains in the distance, time away from my computer, time to MYSELF, I was scrutinizing over the dumbest things.  I was stressed out that a co-worker would see me.  I was stressed out that my ass was jiggling more than I would like it too.  I was stressed out that I tied my jacket around my jiggly ass and now I looked like a frumpy old lady.  I was stressed that I shoved my gigantic boobs into a very tiny sports bra and with every step the giant bubble that was created was practically hitting me on the chin!!  I was so consumed with my insecurities it ruined something positive that I was trying to do for myself.

I need to get out of my head!  I need to just "be."  That will be hard.  I saw my therapist last night...  remember that Sex and the City where the girls convince Carrie that she needs to see a therapist because they can't handle hearing her drone on about Mr. Big?
Carrie: [about therapists] First they want you to come there two times a week, then three times a week, and eventually you're starting every sentence with 'my therapist says...'
Miranda: My therapist says that's a very common fear.
That just popped into my head because I was about to say "my therapist says..." Ha!  Anyway, I won't bore you with what my therapist said but I will tell you that it feels really good to admit my insecurities no matter how ridiculous they sound.  It also feels good to know that I have the ability to overcome these insecurities that hold me back from simply living my life.  I've told you before I'm on a mission to find myself and part of that mission will be to break through my barriers.  Allow room for vulnerability.  Just "be."  But first... a bigger sports bra! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cats are like potato chips...

You can't have just one.  That's my motto! Well, one of them at least.  I've been a cat lover all my life and even as a four year old girl I would tell anyone I came across, whether I knew them or not, that I had a cat named Sarah who was black and white and lived in our barn.  Funny thing about that is, I didn't have a cat and we most certainly did not have a barn. 

I obsessed over kittens and cats and would ask my parents at least daily if we could get one.  They are NOT "cat people."  My theory on "NOT cat people" is as follows: 
  1. They have never had a cat
  2. If they did, it was not a friendly cat and wanted nothing to do with people
  3. They are allergic
Trust me on this, if you have never had a personable, lovable, goofy, playful and adorable cat then you simply cannot make the blanket statement that you are NOT a "cat person."  I just won't let you!  But I digress...

For years I would thumb through the colorful pages of a book I had all about the proper way to care for a cat.  I studied up and felt I was ready for the challenge. My big day came when I was about eight years old.  Unfortunately, I still sucked my thumb at that age.  I know, I know, that is way to old to be sucking your thumb.  That story is for another day.  My parents tried everything to get me to stop... pepper spray on my thumb, socks on my hands at bet time, etc.  Nothing worked.  Until they said to me, "we will get you a kitten if you stop sucking your thumb."  My thumb never touched my lips again.

I was so excited to get my new kitten I could hardly contain myself.  I remember it like it was yesterday... The "warehouse cat" at my Dad's work had a litter of kittens and I was told I could pick one out of a box.  I entered the smelly, dank warehouse clutching the bright pink collar I had picked out for my girl kitten of choice.  There she was... brownish-grayish in color and feisty as ever.  I named her Sarah (duh, what did you think I'd name her) and I promised to love her forever.

Forever was short lived once I realized my beloved Sarah fell into category #2 listed above.  Covered head to toe in scratches and fearing for my life whenever I would go down the stairs because I knew she was waiting for me at the bottom, I gladly handed her over to my uncle who had a better living arrangement that suited this mangy kitten. 

Being a lifetime cat lover I was not about to buckle.  I was not going to convert to the dark side of a cat-less world.  I've had cats throughout my life that were wonderful and perfect in every way.  But there is only one to date that has trumped ALL other cats.  My Stanley...

It was college, and it was a beautiful summer day.  I had gotten off work early and my long time boyfriend (now my husband) was waiting for me.  We were bored and had a pocket full of money that we had no business spending.  We decided the best thing to do that day was to buy a kitten.  After all, we already had one and remember... Cats are like potato chips!!

We went to the shelter and there he was.  A grey and white, plump little bundle of fur.  I walked straight up to him and he meowed right at me as if to say, "hi, I'm your cat!"  From that day on Stanley has never left my side.  When I am home he follows me EVERYWHERE.  Where ever I am, so is he.  He has to sleep right by my side, literally touching me at all times.  When I was in college and going through a "down period," as I called it, he was there to cheer me up.  He was my therapy cat.  He got me through those dark times and then some.

Today Stanley has to share me with another plump little bundle, my son.  My cat is a trooper.  It has quickly gone from focusing at-home-time to snuggling with Stan every chance I could, to cursing his name when he tries to climb on my lap while giving Baby Boy his bottle.  I find myself no longer aware of his presence as I once did.  However, he still loves me and is just as hopelessly devoted to me as the day we met.  After our awful week when our son was sick, my mother-in-law took Baby Boy for an over night stay so Hubby and I could catch up on much needed sleep.  I experienced a restful, uninterrupted slumber and awoke to sun shining through the window and birds chirping.  I can't remember the last time I woke up AFTER sunrise!  I rolled over and there was Stanley, touching his nose to mine.  Being that close to me his face looked like I was staring through the peephole of a door.  Up close and personal.  He was just as pleased as I was to get that uninterrupted slumber with HIS Mama.  We snuggled like we always had, he forgave my absence with a familiar pur-r-r-r-r and then he followed me downstairs to make a pot of coffee.

I love that cat.  I will always love that cat.  He is my Stan-Pan-the-fattest-Man-of-a-cat and I love him to pieces!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

G is for Grandpa






God's Gentle Giants.

My amazing father and father-in-law are terrific Grandpa's and came to our rescue in a MAJOR way this week.  I am eternally grateful for their support.  I'm looking forward to seeing how much fun Baby Boy is going to have with them as he grows.   

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I had a good cry.

Baby Boy is very slowly starting to get better.  I think.  We had the third doctors visit in three days yesterday when he developed a fever of 102.6.  At one point there was a doctor, nurse practitioner, and medical assistant all staring intently at him with furrowed brows and concerned looks.  You could tell he was a bit nervous but my brave little guy even flashed a smile a couple of times. 

It is so hard that there are no definitive answers for what is happening to him.  The hives are from the allergic reaction to amoxicillin, they think.  The fever could be from an unrelated virus, they think.  When asked if it's going to get even worse than it was yesterday they said, "we just don't know."  I hate that there are no answers.

My little baby is miserable.  He has not crawled, cruised, sat up, played, or laughed for days.  He is in pain.  Even a light touch evokes discomfort and tears.  His face isn't as swollen today but his hands and feet are.  We attempted to soak him in a bath last night and that DID NOT go over well.  Once we calmed him down and got him to bed that was when I lost it...

I had a good cry.  The rational side of me knows very well that he is going to get better soon.  I know that, "it could be worse," and how lucky we are that despite our run of sickness we don't live at the Children's Hospital and we have an overall healthy boy.  I know all of these things.  But it is so very hard to see my baby in pain and being so sick.

As if that wasn't enough I became overwhelmed with stress and concern about all facets of my life.  Do you ever do that?  I cried and cried irrationally over things that I rationally know will get better and work themselves out as they always do.  I irrationally cried, rationally knowing it wouldn't solve anything.  It may not have solved anything but I sure felt a hell-of-a-lot better afterward.  Some times you just need a good cry...

AND some times all you need to make things better is a wonderful husband that is by your side through it all and is handy in the kitchen.  While I was self-consumed and wallowing my husband was whipping up a delicious meal consisting of grilled pork chops marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette, finished with a tomato and green olive sauce with sides of grilled asparagus and rice.  All was right with the world again.  I calmed down, enjoyed a wonderful meal with my husband and enjoyed a much needed glass of wine. 

It will get better.  It has to.