Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Letters to London: your first year

My darling baby,

I guess I shouldn't call you that anymore, because you're as "toddler" as they come, but you are and always will be my baby. Today was your first birthday. Your dad & I spent the whole day with you and I hope that's something we can do for years to come. You explored Marbles kids museum for the first time, hugging a stuffed bear, making friends and splashing in the water table. You also ate ice cream and drank chocolate milk with dinner, and loved them both. You were signing "more!" emphatically after each bite and it made me so proud! 

You are a little sponge these days, learning and copying words like "ow!" and "hot" and "up". You entertain everyone, everywhere we go, from the post office to the pediatrician. I love how friendly you are and I hope you are always able to make friends so easily. 

Daddy let you pick out your bow (another word you like to day) and you chose a huge red polka dotted one that made me very happy. You know exactly where your bow goes, and you show us how to put on (and take off) hats, and you can show me where your shoe goes. You are such a smart little girl and I'm impressed each day by how much you know. 

I made you a red felt one and pinned it to your shirt, so everyone would know it was your birthday. People always tell us how adorable you are but i wish they knew that your beauty is only surpassed by how sweet, smart and funny you are. You make me laugh every day!

My mommy always made my birthday a very special day for me so I hope I can do the same for you each year. You deserve to know how special you are every day of the year. You are my shining star, and besides marrying your daddy, being your mom is the best thing I've ever done. I hope you always know how much I love you, my precious girl. The first year of your life has been nothing short of a miracle and I can't wait to watch you grow. 

Happy birthday my sweet girl, 
-your mama

London Claire is twelve months old

She is, I swear. For three more days. I know I'm the worst blogger ever. In my defense, we had a first birthday party, two out of state trips, and a little thing called moving. Plus multiple house guests, ve and doctors appointments, etc. Needless to say it has been a crazy month or so.

But our sweet girl is ONE and her birthday was such a fun day. So before she turns thirteen months (or just "one" as Ben has requested we say now), here's an update on our toddler (!!) in her twelfth month.

Age: twelve months, twenty seven days
Height: 30 1/4 inches
Weight: 21lbs 9oz
Hair: she just got her first haircut by aunt sissy, because the little side curls were getting a bit out of control. She's now rocking an adorable pixie cut!

Favorite outfit: she wore a black halter dress with white chalk drawings of sights from London for her birthday, so adorable. She's wearing a lot of neon pink lately to match the amazing neon pink vans tennis shoes her aunt brenna bought. There's also a gorgeous pink gingham smocked dress that my mom bought her.

Sleep: surprisingly nothing has changed much from her 11 month update! Still on two naps. Lately she's been waking up as late as 7:45 (after nursing in the 5:00am range).

Eating: she's recently taken to grapes and apple chunks, she was even whining for some plastic grapes today while we were looking at a house. She loves chocolate milk (!!) and smoothies. She LOVED her chocolate birthday cake at her party, and the ice cream she had on her real birthday. She tried some tofu tonight and was not a fan, can't say I blame her! She also seems to really like cheeseburgers.

Illness: she had a rough cold / ear infection right around her birthday, but antibiotics and some children's Benadryl (doctors orders!) made her an absolute dream on our flights. Also, we're up to seven teeth!

Development: she has peed in her potty twice, which is pretty awesome I think, considering she has only sat on it a handful of times. She points to her high chair when she wants to eat, signs eat, more, all done pretty well. She knows quite a few body parts, is starting to consistently blow kisses, and knows where her bow and shoes go. Ben has taught her to call herself Lala, and she knows mama and dada. She says Georgia (brenna's dog). Oh, and she's started to say "I love you", what could be sweeter than that?!

Movement: this girl loves to climb! Stairs (up and down), in or on boxes, on her nightstand shelf, pretty much anything. 

Favorite toy: My favorite thing is that she got a baby doll for her birthday which she takes everywhere, and gives hugs and kisses. She thoroughly enjoyed the inflatable pool we bought as her birthday present, and her Spider-Man action figure from Aubrey & Matt. She's starting to really get into books. And of course, her stuffed penguin from Uncle Yang. 

Funniest habit: she calls her baby "daDA" with a very specific inflection, different than what she calls Ben. And she mimics things we say with her intonation "don't drop it" or "I love it!" And other funny phrases. Oh, and she loves shoes!
Firsts: birthday, trip to the pool (she loves it!), trip to Erie, trip to the lake (she did not love it), trip to DC (we visited the American history museum, she was not impressed), front facing car trip (it was just while we were visiting family, we are keeping her rear facing for now)

Best moment of last week: last night as she was nursing before bed (please don't ask me how long I'm planning to continue nursing her, I really don't know), she paused, whispered something very intently to me, to which I replied "I love you too". Then she smiled and went back to nursing. This is one sweet little girl, y'all.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Shrimp & Cucumber Tostadas

Our air conditioning needs a part replaced and, since we've recently sold our house, we can't risk it breaking further so we can't run the a/c in the interim. And, since we're utilizing our home warranty to replace this part, it's taking for-ev-er. Which is awesome, you know, in June. In North Carolina. With a baby. 

But I digress. The point of that opening is that it's too darn hot to cook. And really, to do anything in the house. So when I got home at 5:00 with shrimp in the freezer and an overripe cucumber on the window sill, I found this recipe on Pinterest as the inspiration for a very successful meal:


Ingredients
1 lb thawed medium shrimp, shells & tails removed
1 seedless cucumber, sliced and quartered 
1/4 white onion, chopped
Six corn tostadas
1/8 tsp cilantro

Dressing
1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1.5 tbsp chili sauce
2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Directions
Whisk together vinegar, chili sauce, honey & garlic powder in a small bowl
Refrigerate for 30 minutes (if possible, but who has that kind of time?!)
Meanwhile, boil a medium sauce pan of water
Add shrimp, boiling for about 60 seconds or until pink
Immediately drain and cool in a bowl of ice water to prevent overcooking
Slice shrimp in half
Add to a medium mixing bowl with diced cucumbers & onions
Toss with dressing, top with cilantro 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes (this one is slightly more important, these are better served cold)
Top tostada with a heaping spoonful of mixture, using a slotted spoon to drain
Optional: serve with sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce, guacamole, etc. 




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

London Claire is eleven months old

Ugh. This is a hard one. Maybe that's why I've been putting it off. But I've made it this far with these monthly updates and I owe it to my girl to keep it up for the year. After all she's done for me, it's the least I could do.

Age: eleven months and two weeks
Height: I actually do know where a measuring tape is (I had to buy a new one to be measured for the bridesmaid dress I was months late ordering ... But that's neither here nor there) but I haven't measured her. I'll try to update height and weight in the morning
Weight: see above
Hair: continuing to grow longer and much thicker. We do ponytails now which are adorable! And she knows what a bow is and where it goes - I couldn't be more proud.

Favorite outfit: black and white polka dot spandex short and a white t-shirt, with a polka dot bow and black sandals. It was the outfit she wore on our flight to Nashville, so adorable. I'm also really loving her bubble rompers, and her rash guard swim top with a flower hood. We got to buy some new shoes, too - so fun! Wearing 12mo or 18mo in clothes, size 3 in shoes. She seems to have slimmed down a little in the belly.

Sleep: on a good day, two naps about 1-1.5 hrs each. Bed at 7:30, nursing once in the 5-6am range and up around 7-7:30. I finally gave up trying not to nurse her before bed, it wasn't worth the fight for me. I couldn't handle the tears.

Eating: she discovered chick-fil-a chicken nuggets and its safe to say she is a huge fan. She had one in each hand and was sucking the breading off a third. She still loves all fruits and most vegetables, is starting to drink some almond milk which I feel like is a big deal, but its in very small quantities and sometimes she spits it out. She can feed herself with a loaded spoon and occasionally can spoon some out herself.

Illness: nothing to note, praise The Lord! Four top teeth cut through in less than a month so that's more than enough to handle.
Development: she gives hugs! It's so cute, she wraps both her arms around my neck and pats my back when I get her up from naps. She gave Lucy a hug too, so freaking sweet. She says "dundon" when she's looking at pictures of herself, "behbeh" when she sees pictures of other babies, and I'm pretty sure she's been saying "Ben!" to mimic when I call him ("buh! buh!").
Movement: walking! Hands down my favorite milestone to date. She started a few weeks ago and now walks all over the house. Crawling is becoming more rare by the day. The walking brings along new challenges: she doesn't want to be carried which means she has to have shoes on whenever we are out.

Favorite toy: a stuffed polar bear from my mom, and this super annoying v-tech lady bug thing. She also really loves magnets and is intrigued by sticking them to the fridge - gotta love cheap thrills!
Funniest habit: she tickles people under their neck and makes this funny noise that I guess I do when I tickle her. It is amazing to see how much she is picking up and understanding!
Firsts: steps, trip to Tennessee, time in the ocean, hike, wedding.

Best moment of last week: we went to a splash pad which is basically little fountains that shoot up from the ground for the kids to play with. She loved it, and was letting the way hit her in the face. Really fun!

Hard to believe she'll be one in just over two weeks. This year has flown by in a way I could never have imagined. In addition to London's birth, we traveled overseas, Ben started a new job, I quit mine, we sold our house and (hopefully) will be buying a new one soon. Thanks for sharing on this leg of our journey - we appreciate your continued prayers, support, and I - for one - appreciate your readership! Can't wait to see what London's second year has in store for us.




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ten (more) things you may not know about me

Maybe I'll make this a monthly feature on the blog - is it fun? Interesting? Self-indulgent? Whatever, it's connected me to people who I may not have ever known I had things in common with. Bonding over a shared hatred of sweet potatoes? That's serious stuff, people.

  1. I've done a "secret Santa" gift exchange with the same girls for 10+ years. It's morphed into " secret seashell" because we now do it at be beach. We also have an email list serve that was started when we left for college. I couldn't begin to guess how many messages have been sent but I'd guess its in the tens of thousands.
  2. My number one choice for pasta sauce is Alfredo. It's one of the only things Ben will not eat. I don't understand how anyone could hate something that's pretty much just cheese and heavy cream?!
  3. I have (almost) matching scars on my elbows from surgeries that were four years apart. Ulnar nerve transpositions. I have no funny bone.
  4. When I die, I want to be cremated, after medical science has taken anything they have any use for. I'm not yet sure where I want my ashes scattered.
  5. My first plane ride was to Disney world with my whole family. Best fifth birthday ever!
  6. I started walking at nine months. So, when London turned ten months without even a step, I felt a little bit guilty, like I had let her down as her mother. Don't worry, I realize that is 100% ridiculous and I'm just happy she's taken her first steps before she's two.
  7. I had a fake ID in college that Ben referred to as a baseball card because it was SO fake. But I never got caught, even when I bought beer standing in line in front of a cop.
  8. My favorite song will always and forever be "imagine" by John Lennon. My least favorite song is "amazing grace". "Celebrate" and "I like big butts" are also up there... Err, down there. As in,  hate them too.
  9. I can cook but I cannot bake. I can probably count the number of things I've baked completely from scratch on two hands. I think it's the same reason I was good at biology but horrible at chemistry. I'm not good at exact sciences.
  10. I have horrible bunions on both my feet. I know I need surgery, but I'm not, nor have I ever been, in a position to be off my feet for 4-6 weeks. I mean, who has time for that?!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Recipe: crunch wrap supreme

By now you know that I "bare it all" on this blog, so I'm not ashamed to tell you one of my deepest darkest secrets: I love Taco Bell. I mean, not as much now because I think their quality has diminished (how is that even possible?!) but I still crave it now and again. In college, it was my hangover go-to. So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I couldn't resist.

Ingredients
You have a lot of room for interpretation, so pick whichever toppings / ingredients you like
-Ground turkey, cooked and seasoned with a package of taco seasoning and some diced onions if you like
-Large flour tortillas (the burrito size)
-Crunchy tostadas (the flat ones)
-Queso dip
-Sour cream
-Lettuce
-Tomato
-Salsa
-Shredded cheese
-Refried beans

Other possible toppings:
-Black olives
-Jalapeños
-Diced bell peppers
-Avocado
-Cooked rice
-Black beans
-Chopped cooked chicken

Directions
1. Once the taco meat is cooked and all your toppings are diced up, it's really about assembling. 
2. Warm the flour tortillas (I use the microwave for about 15 seconds depending on how many). 
3. In the center of a flour tortilla, spread a heaping spoonful of queso, leaving a 1-2 inch border empty around the outside. Then refried beans, then meat, then tostada, then sour cream, then veggies, then any additional toppings you choose (lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, shredded cheese, etc).
4. Fold tortilla around the tostada in five pieces (forming a pentagon); you may have to use an extra piece of tortilla for the center. Nothing should be exposed!
5. Heat a large frying pan to medium, place tortilla pocket seam-side down in the pan and use a spatula to press firmly into pan. 
6. After 30-60 seconds (tortilla should just start to brown), flip the pocket using a large spatula and ninja quickness. 
7. Heat opposite side until just starting to brown.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, queso, hot sauce ... Whatever you like. These things are awesome because you can customize them for each person. 

Also they're just awesome. 

Recipe inspired by:
 http://busymamabird.blogspot.com/2012/04/yummy-crunchwrap-supremes.html?m=1 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's raining, it's pouring

Each morning I check the weather on my phone before I get London dressed, as an attempt to be a responsible mother who dresses her child appropriately for the temperature. Today went a little something like this:

Me: London, why does the weather channel think it's thunderstorming here right now?
Ben: Because it is.

It's been pouring down rain for most of the day, which makes today a terrible day for taking pictures of our house. But, it makes it a great day to lounge on the couch for a minute, eating chocolates and pretending I'm living the SAHM life of leisure everyone assumes I am. And it's also a great day to soak in this sweet little home, and the beautiful life Ben & I have built here together.

Aside from the obvious nostalgia that comes with selling your first home, and the home you brought your baby to when she was born, we've had a lot of fond memories at 111 Ferris Wheel. There have been many delicious meals cooked in our beautiful red kitchen, that Ben painted for my 24th birthday. Games of Stanley Cup flip cup when the Penguins won it all on the little country table that we bought at the flea market. Heated games of apples to apples with dear friends in our cozy living room. Countless drunken houseguests passed out on bunk beds in a Steelers Gold bedroom. Lazy Sunday afternoons spent lounging on a couch that was way too big for our living room but way too cozy for a pregnant woman to not buy.

This house has been so good to the four of us and I know it will be good to whomever gets it next. I'm excited for our next chapter but I'm more than a little sad to see this one come to an end. A big thanks to everyone who has helped make our first house a home.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recipe: the easiest dip on the planet

I fucking hate this iPad. Or maybe I hate blogger.

One of the two just deleted my entire post ... so, sorry this is not witty but its easy so that counts for something.

Ingredients

  • 1 block (8oz) cream cheese (fat free doesn't melt as well, just an FYI)
  • 1 can chili (vegetarian is fine if you're into that)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


Directions

  1. Melt cream cheese in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently
  2. Once melted, add chili and stir frequently until fully mixed and heated
  3. If desired, transfer to an oven-safe bowl and top with shredded cheese
  4. Broil on high until cheese is bubbly
  5. Serve warm with tortilla chips or fritos 
http://pinterest.com/pin/89860955035150496


http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2010/01/chili-cream-cheese-dip-or-ghetto-dip.html


Sunday, April 21, 2013

London Claire is ten months old

For what it's worth, I started this post when London hit ten months. That was almost three weeks ago. Fail. Do you know what's harder than being a SAHM to an infant who's into everything? Being a SAHM who's selling her house, whilst having an infant who's into everything and a very high-strung dog. I know, excuses excuses.

By grammatical standards, I think this is the month I have to start using numbers and not spelling it out, but I'm going with "ten" for consistency's sake. Our little angel is ten months old, which thankful seems easier to swallow than nine months, except for the fact that her first birthday is only two months away so I need to get planning STAT.

Age: today, ten months and almost three weeks
Height: I have no idea where our measuring tape is. Or anything else, for that matter
Weight: 20lbs 8oz
Hair: lighter, longer, thicker and doesn't seem to have as much red. She has one wiry white hair in the back of her head which is so funny
Favorite outfit: too many! All her summertime dresses and rompers are so cute!! I love her polka dot halter dress, pink tutu dress from aunt sissy, the bandana dress. She is wearing 18mo in some things and that blows my mind.
Sleep: on a good day, she's sleeping 7:30-6:30, nursing, and going back to sleep until 8am. Taking 2-3 naps depending on the day and our schedule.
Eating: loves blackberries almost as much as strawberries. Jalapeño chips and spicy bean dip?! She still really likes mandarin oranges, and enjoys pears, frozen peas (like her mama!) and black beans (she'll eat half a can!). Refuses a bottle but does great with water in a sippy including a straw sippy cup.
Illness: she had a rough time with a combination of pollen allergies and teething, but seems to be back to normal, with four teeth broken through in total (bottom middle two, left top eye tooth and top right front). She did have quite a fall last week and ended up with a huge goose egg on her noggin, but was fine (minus a faint bruise) the next day. Mama, of course, was not fine.
Development: She gives kisses, waves goodbye (and sometimes hello). Claps in certain songs (if you're happy and you know it, etc). Imitates and says a LOT of words when she feels like it, including "oof oof" as a response for "what does a dog say".
Movement: Stands for several seconds and stood from sitting by herself for the first time - and now does it regularly. She's taken as many as two / three steps but not if she realizes she's doing it. Pulling up on everything, walking while only holding one of our fingers, and trying to climb (stairs, high chair, anything dangerous).
Favorite toy: she loves the walking toys loaned to us by friends, the plastic clapper from her aunt Kiki, and she still freaks out over the giraffe! She also loves the giant lion stuffed animal my dad got her. Her absolute favorite, though, is Spider-Man. My sister got her a Spider-Man bubble machine and she couldnt care less about the bubbles but carries that plastic Spider-Man like its her child.
Funniest habit: she'll normally only give Ben a kiss if I kiss him first.
Firsts: she got to meet farm animals! Bunnies, chicks, turkeys, horses, cows. So cute!
Best moment of the last week: she has learned to pick up her bows and put them to her head. So proud!!











Monday, April 1, 2013

London Claire is Nine Months Old

I know I'm really late on this. And I know I have been slacking in the blogosphere lately. You're probably like "she's a SAHM, what else could she possibly be doing?" and if you are asking that, you've obviously never been a SAHM. Especially not one without a computer. Yeah, I'm writing this on our (read: ben's) iPad and it's not easy. Also not easy? Getting anything done with a nine month old. But here I am, so let me catch you up on my best girl after our first full month together.

Standing in her crib.
Wearing booties that belonged to mama.
You know, the usual. 
Age: nine months, twelve days (fail)
Height: 28.5in
Weight: 19lb 14oz
Hair: it's finally getting long enough to put it in pony tails and even pig tails! We got the best bows as a gift from our next door neighbor and she doesn't mess with them at all. Headbands are a struggle sometimes but for the most part she leaves her hair accessories alone, because she has no choice.
Favorite outfit: her Easter dress, of course! I've had it for months and she and I were both so excited about it. Today's outfit was also adorable, a little denim romper from old navy that my mom "Gorgeous" got her for Easter.
Refusing to sit in the shopping cart
Sleep: praise The Lord, it's a freakin miracle y'all - this child takes three naps a day. Sometimes they're a fight, but after a month of being really strict, I feel like web finally made progress and our days are so much better for it. She was hardly napping in daycare, so I made it my number one goal to get her an trained once I was staying home with her and It. Was. Hard! Much harder than slee training, but now she wakes up at 7am, nurses and then goes down for a nap around 8/8:30, sleeps for an hour/hour and a half. Then she's up until around 12:30, sleeps for 30min to an hour, and back down again around 3 or so. Then down for the night at 7:30! So blessed all our hard work is paying off. Sleep / nap training blog to come!
Eating: we haven't found anything she won't eat, other than boiled egg yolks (she's her daddy's girl!). Favorite foods include strawberries and scrambled eggs. She eats breakfast after her morning nap around 10, lunch around noon and dinner around 5. Still exclusively breastfed, ah thank you! She's doing great with a variety of sippy cups and thusly doesn't want anything to do with bottles.
Illness: we have had struggles with constipation and are currently battling a nasty case of diarrhea and accompanying diaper rash. It's heartbreaking. My normally very happy, easy going baby has been having periods of 15+ minutes of inconsolable crying the past few days. I think it's a reaction to mandarin oranges, which she's had before but I've heard citrus can cause some nasty trash.
Development: the pediatrician says she is right on track based on her nine month appt. her exact words were "she's perfect" (duh!). She has great fine motor skills and seems to be hitting all her development milestone according to the doctor. She waves goodbye and hello, and screams at the top of her lungs, sometimes because she's mad But mostly because she likes the sound of her own voice. Very chatty and loves picking up things and figuring them out. She crawls up me and kisses my face in the morning, which melts my heart every time. she has started copying me by referring to things as "dada" and "na dada" (not dada). And she got her second tooth, which she's been using to bite me with when she nurses.
Movement: she has been pulling up on everything and cruises all along the furniture, sometimes with one hand, but never stands by herself for more than a second or two. I'd say we're still a ways off from walking, but she wants to walk and loves to get down and walk with our fingers. She is crawling fast now and that means I can't turn away from her for a second, which means I'm completely exhausted by the end of the day. But in the best way possible - I love seeing her explore new things. She's also started climbing up stairs - scary!

Favorite toy: she has become obsessed with my keys. It's hard to keep her entertained with actual toys now that she's into everything and wants to play  with cords, outlets, the dog's water bowl, etc. we did get a new soft carrier, the ergo, which she and I both love!
Funniest habit: she points at things / people. She was doing it at church at the ushers, such a flirt. She points at her daddy and he points back like E.T. It's adorable.
Firsts: visit to the aquarium, haircut, Easter

Best moment of last week: Easter, of course. She went to the nursery at church for the first time a few weeks ago but I couldn't send her for Easter service so she sat with us, entertaining (most of) our neighbors. She looked adorable and was so excited to see all her Easter baskets - three of them! - yesterday morning and then again today.
Our little family at church on Easter 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ten things you may not know about me

1. My best friend and I both started drinking coffee at 25. We also both had mono in the 10th grade. We've been through just about everything together, yet she still sends me thank you notes.

2. My husband and I both hate sweet potatoes, to the point that we won't even feed them to our daughter. My uncle guilted me into eating them when I was four and I threw up all over the thanksgiving table.

3. I've competed in cheerleading with a broken tailbone, and also with a dislocated elbow.

4. My first real experience with death was when my Sunday school teacher died of cancer - I was five. My father encouraged me to "go give her a kiss goodbye" and her cheek shocked me. After that I refused to attend funerals for about 10 years, and I'm still really freaked out by death and dead bodies especially.

5. My happy place is a toss-up between Round Pond, Maine, Bean Station, Tennessee or the beach with my best girlfriends and their husbands. I guess the common theme there is that I love to be by the water, even though I refuse any and all water sports.

6. I didn't turn 18 until I had completed nearly a full semester at college, because I never went to preschool and instead started kindergarten when I was four.

7. I've visited seven countries in ten years: Aruba, Bahamas (x2), Spain, Mexico (x2), Italy, England and France.

8. I wasn't allowed to listen to pop music until I was in junior high. We grew up on Christian music and oldies. To this day, I typically listen to one or both of those on long car trips by myself.

9. The first thing I ever cooked was macaroni and cheese from a box at age 8. I forgot to drain the water before adding the cheese. Luckily I've gotten better at following a recipe, because I love to cook.

10. I spend an embarrassing amount of time sitting in my car, drinking a large diet coke from McDonald's and playing Candy Crush while the baby naps. Those moments of silence are surprisingly refreshing.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recipe: Otto-Inspired Shrimp Tacos

I hate fish tacos. HATE. But I love shrimp tacos and I've been dying to make Whitney's recipe since she posted it. You can find hers here: http://ottospinkelephant.blogspot.com/2012/06/shrimp-tacos.html?m=1 and follow her adorable blog while you're at it.

I was inspired by the avocado & mango sitting on my window sill to do it this way and oh. my. gosh. So delicious! The perfect summer recipe - just grill the shrimp!

Ingredients
1 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled & tails removed
3 tbsp honey
1.5 tbsp habanero hot sauce (you could use any hot sauce you like here but I happened to have / love the habanero)
Black pepper to taste
1/8 cup olive oil
1 avocado, diced into bite size pieces
1 mango, diced into bite size pieces
Lime juice to taste
4 medium tortillas
Sour cream
1 tbsp taco seasoning
Shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh salsa

Directions
Marinate shrimp in honey, hot sauce, olive oil and black pepper
Meanwhile, mix avocado, mango, like juice and black pepper
Mix sour cream with taco seasoning
(You can do all of these things ahead of time; the lime juice will help the avocado keep from browning)
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat
Drain shrimp marinade and pan-fry until pink / opaque and slightly browned on edges
Dish into tortillas; top with cheese, sour cream, salsa & mango / avocado mix



Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 1 as a SAHM

Another post I started months ago and never got around to posting ...

London and I woke up well-rested and happy after a full night's sleep. After quietly nursing and changing the baby, I tiptoed downstairs to make Ben breakfast and take care of the dog. I curled my hair, applied makeup and put on my best dress before Ben even woke up!

Ha ha ha and if you believe that I'll tell you a story about the Easter bunny. Here's what day one REALLY looked like.

London has been sick since Friday night and has been waking up every two hours at night. Needless to say, Ben & I are exhausted. I nursed her at 4am because I couldn't take the crying anymore. Thankfully she went back to sleep from 5-6:45, then woke up fussing. I got her ready for the day, put on yoga pants and brushed my teeth, accepting the fact that clean yoga pants and a ponytail would be as good as I'm gonna get today. We played for a little while until she started rubbing her eyes. Laid her down for a nap; she screamed for twenty minutes (despite me checking on her twice) and then proceeded to scream for an additional 45 minutes after I got her up. When she was finally consoled by the remote, I didn't ask questions.

We shared a pear and a strawberry yogurt for breakfast while I managed to unload & reload the dishwasher and she feed Lucy nilla wafers. She pooped through her leggings. She screamed while I changed her diaper, rubbing her eyes again, and was unable to be consoled by nursing. So, against my better judgement (because what's motherhood if it's not doing everything you swore you wouldn't?!) I rocked & sang her to sleep, tiptoed out of the room and thanked The Lord that she was asleep in her crib.

I started prepping dinner and folding the laundry (that has been sitting in the dryer since Friday morning) when I saw her stirring. God must know I need this, because by some miracle she didn't wake up for another thirty minutes or so.

I called Ben at 2pm asking when he would be home from work, and practiced amazing self control by not opening a beer before 5.

We're both fed, clothed, clean (ish) and happy, so I'm calling today a win. I'm more exhausted than I ever thought possible but happier than I've been in months.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Surviving the First Weeks

(y'all, forgive me. this post was started months ago ... way back in July ... and I never posted it. shame on me. that's what sleep deprivation / trying to navigate new-mommyhood will do to you. I hope it still makes sense!)

Instead of an updated "London Claire is Three Weeks" post, I wanted to do a special post. I was inspired by Page, who did a similar post months ago, and have been holding ideas for this post in the back of my head since the day we brought London home. And I want to make sure I get this up sooner rather than later, mostly for two special ladies I know who are about to welcome their own sweet babes.

(how'd that work out? good intentions, y'all, good intentions. lucky for me, we always have more friends who are about to welcome new babies into their homes, so hopefully this post will do someone some good, somewhere. if nothing else, it'll be a good reminder for me if / when we have another baby, Good Lord Willing)

Of course, I can't skip out on updating y'all on our girl, but I'll keep it brief. She's been "diagnosed" with reflux and we've started her on Zantac, so hopefully our sweet baby will get some relief soon. In case you were wondering what reflux looks like in a three week old, it's evenings of inconsolable crying, vomiting, swallowing and then crying after burps, and refusal to be laid flat on her back. It is un-be-lievably sad to hold your newborn while she sobs and know there's nothing you can do. But we're trying to fix her, poor thing. In happy news, she's currently 9lbs 2oz - obviously the reflux is not stopping her from eating. And she's starting to wear some of her 0-3 months clothes, which makes mama sad and happy all at the same time.

Now then, back to the task at hand: surviving the first weeks of motherhood. I am certain that this list will change and grow as London changes and grows, but here's where we are after three weeks - the top ten things that have made our lives so much easier.


  1. Boppy Pillow
    This is a staple on all the registry suggestion lists, and for good reason. I didn't pack mine in my hospital bag initially, but I asked my mom to go get it the first morning. I can breastfeed without it, but it certainly makes things a lot easier on my tired arms. And it's really sweet when London falls asleep eating and just lays on the Boppy "milk drunk" as we call it. Get at least one extra cover for it - because babies are messy, for real.
    the boppy is also great for when baby is first learning how to sit on his/her own
  2. Video Monitor
    We went back and forth on whether the video feature is worth it - trust me, IT IS. I'm sure there's any number of brands that are great, but I like ours because it has zoom / pan, and you can independently control volume and video. So a light sleeper like me can just tap a button (almost like a snooze button - which could be dangerous) and turn the video part off and on. This is great for that first night your baby sleeps a ridiculously long time (5 hours?!) and you wake up freaking out that she must not be breathing. Not that I did that, of course...
    if we were buying another one, I might choose this one because it shows the temperature. I go in every night before I go to bed to make sure she's warm enough.
  3. Sleep Sack
    Ben & I watched Happiest Baby on the Block before London was born - I highly recommend it - and utilize pretty much all of the 5 S's to soothe her. Neither of us was particular good at swaddling (that, or L is just a baby Houdini) but we love the sleep sack, especially for middle-of-the-night, half-asleep re-swaddling after diaper changes.
    I recommend multiple sizes and fabrics depending on the season your baby is born. we used these religiously until she was four months old and starting rolling over.
  4. Mobile
    My friend Sloan had told me that black & white contrast is the easiest thing for babies' eyes to see while they're still learning to focus, so I picked a mobile that featured just those two colors. L has loved it almost from day one. She hangs out in her crib and we just keep restarting the mobile over and over again while she lays staring at her sheep - it's pretty adorable.
  5. Sleep Sheep
    This is another one of the "hot" baby items, and there's a number of different white noise machines, but we love the sleep sheep. It's strapped to the crib, and has a variety of sounds and volumes (we use the ocean one). L's godmother bought her a travel sleep sheep, which I keep in the diaper bag at the advice of my mom - it has saved us during more than one car / shopping meltdown, and it will definitely be coming overseas with us!
    when sleep training, the sleep sheep proved to be a downfall because it shuts off after 30 minutes. we ended up using the homedics sound spa with "rain" because it stays on all night.
  6. Swing
    My mother-in-law is the queen of all things consignment, and got this swing at a yard sale to keep at her house. After seeing how much London absolutely loved it, I begged her to bring it to us in a fit of desperation (sleep deprivation will do that to you, among other things). She is sleeping in it as we speak, and has been for two hours. Again, it has a mobile, which she loves, and it's so cozy - perfect for a little snuggly newborn.
  7. Bouncy Seat
    This and this alone is responsible for all of my weekday showers since Ben has been back to work. She sleeps in it, with just the vibration feature, or "plays" in it, with the animals & lights going. It's great for babies with reflux especially, because it's on an incline. And all things vibration are holy in this house. That sounds dirty, but you know what I mean. Or maybe you don't - my baby loves vibration. That's all.
  8. Burp Cloths
    Someone told me at one of my showers "you can never have too many bibs" ... wrong. You can. We do. But you can NEVER have too many burp cloths. We have a variety - nice ones that are embroidered with her name, some hand-me-downs from Sloan that are really thick and absorbent, and some cheap ones that are really cloth diapers but we use them for everything, from wiping up spit up off the floor to laying on the changing pad (so we don't have to wash the whole thing every time she pees or poops all over the place. which is like daily, in case you were wondering).
    try to get some that are thicker than these; they sort-of fold up in the dryer
  9. Muslin Blankets
    These things are stupid expensive so I didn't register for them but thank goodness Sloan is smart enough to know I needed them, so she passed down a few. They go everywhere with us. Covering the carseat to protect from sun, draping over me & the babe to nurse, swaddling in a pinch when she won't nap out on the go. They're awesome, and well worth the money, promise.
    great for playdates when baby is learning to roll over - you can throw it on the ground so s/he isn't laying on a dirty carpet in a public place
  10. Gripe Water
    Poor little London got the hiccups all. the. time. when I was pregnant and it didn't stop after she was born. This gripe water is like magic. I'm not sure if it's just sugar water creating a placebo effect, or if it's just the act of quick swallowing, but a few drops almost always get rid of her hiccups right away. And a baby without hiccups is a much happier baby!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Letters to London: Self Promotion

Dear London,

You learned how to crawl last weekend. It's amazing how quickly our lives changed overnight, now that you are mobile. You see something, and you go after it - whether it's your favorite toy "Kumar the Giraffe", or the space heater (which, for whatever reason, really piques your interest. it fights back, though, as you quickly learned). 

It's scary to know that you no longer stay where we put you, and we have to watch you every second. Especially scary for me, as I'm about to be the one caring for you all day every day. But there's also something really awesome that came with crawling. You are SO proud of yourself for being able to go where you want to go, that you stop and clap for yourself. It might be the cutest thing you've ever done. I couldn't stop taking pictures and video of it, and laughing and crying at the cuteness. 

You have always loved when other people clap for you, and now that you can clap for yourself, you do it all the time. It's the most earnest expression of how happy you are about something. I can't get enough of it.

London Claire, You are fantastic, and amazing, and awesome. And you deserve to be praised. Never stop being proud of your accomplishments, my darling girl. I hope you always know how proud your dad & I are of you. And while I hope we're always there to clap for you, I hope you're not afraid to clap for yourself if no one else does. You deserve it, you're the best there is, and we love you so much.

You're such a special little baby. You make us smile every single day and we are so SO lucky you're ours. 

XOXO,
Your Mommy

Motherhood Confessions: I Love Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant, breastfeeding for me (like many women) was not even a question. I don't entirely know why, but it was one of the few aspects of baby-related care that I didn't even think twice about. Sure, I was worried that - for whatever reason - I wouldn't be able to do it, but I used the phrase "I'm planning to breastfeed" as a placeholder for "That kid will be on the boob the second she's born".

minutes after london claire was born.
literally, minutes.
amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.
My heart breaks for those that want so badly to breastfeed and can't, for a variety of reasons. I now know, thanks to the breastfeeding group I'm a part of, that there are many many factors that can prevent / inhibit the ability to breastfeed and my heart really goes out to you mamas who experience any / all of those. I truly admire your strength and tenacity to keep going, or to know when the right time is to seek other options.

We are so blessed that breastfeeding came relatively easy for both of us. There were days (still are!) that it hurt like hell. I've had to combat supply issues London's appetite with some herbal supplements and depleting my precious freezer stash. Getting a pumping schedule down when I returned to work wasn't exactly a walk in the park. But really, when I see what other women have gone through, we've gotten off easy.

Of course, I didn't know that would be the case going into it. Nor did I know half the battles that breastfeeding mothers face. So why was I so adamant about breastfeeding? After six eight* months and zero ounces of formula, I'll tell you why I think I made the right decision for my family, and why I'd happily make it again if we have another child.

*sidebar: how sad is it that I started this post TWO MONTHS AGO?!

So Why Do I Breastfeed?
  • Intimacy It is instant, and consistent, bonding with your baby. They put London on my chest immediately after she was born. IMMEDIATELY. Cord still attached, covered in ... stuff ... naked as a little jaybird (the cutest little naked jaybird you ever did see, of course). They delivered her from my body, laid her on my chest and she was silent and calm. When I placed her near my breast she immediately knew what to do. And from that moment on, it has been a solace for both of us. It's a time that no one else gets to share, and it's so intimate that I feel the urge to just stroke her soft skin or kiss her hands & face constantly. 
  • Comfort Those first few weeks when I was exhausted and hormonal and had not a clue what I was doing, I could always count on the early morning nursing sessions to cheer me up (read: allow me the emotional release I needed to sob great big alligator tears onto my sweet baby's head). Holding that sweet tiny baby, watching her drift off to sleep "milk drunk" with a half smile, and knowing that you are sustaining that sweet life all by yourself - there is nothing like that feeling. I would just sit in the recliner and weep over how wonderful it was. Now that she's older, that intimacy continues, as she looks up at me and strokes my face or hair, like she's just making sure I'm still there. Heart. Melting. It's extremely calming for London as well. If she's hurt or sick (ie: just got a vaccination), or way over-tired, sometimes nursing is the only thing that calms her down.
milk drunk, sleepy smiles
  • Weight Loss It is a great way to burn calories. Supposedly you burn an extra 500 calories a day while breastfeeding. Well, London takes 28oz of milk at daycare plus 3-4 nursing sessions, so by my logic, I'm burning like an extra 1,000 calories. At least I eat like I am. I eat more than I ever have in my life, and I'm 12 pounds lighter than before I got pregnant. Did I mention I have not worked out one bit since the baby was born? I was more active at 9+ months pregnant than I am now. And yet all my pants are too big! Of course the downside of this is that when I stop breastfeeding, it's all going to pile back on. Which is why I'm just planning to nurse her through college.
  • Cost It's free! A girlfriend of mine had to stop breastfeeding around 6 weeks and she said she spends about $50 a week in formula. That means, to date, I've saved my family nearly $2,000 by breastfeeding. My breast pump was a gift from my very generous mother, so if you tally up the costs of freezer bags, breast pads, and other nursing accoutrements, it's probably less than $100 total. That is insane.

    Unrelated to breastfeeding, but we didn't have to buy diapers until London was six months old, thanks to the generosity of friends and family. Needless to say, this having-a-kid thing has been pretty inexpensive so far. You know, minus that whole daycare-payment-that's-the-size-of-a-mortgage thing.
  • Convenience I always have London's food with me. It's always ready to go. No heating water, pre-distributing formula powder into tiny little tupperware and finding space for them in our already-too-full diaper bag. No worrying about throwing out a bottle if she doesn't drink it that day. I don't even know all the ins and outs to formula, but I am certain I would've forgotten to bring it somewhere about 4,506 times by now. Need proof? The other day, I forgot to bring bottles to daycare. You know, my child's sustenance that I work so hard each day to provide? Yeah. Left it in the fridge. Good work, mom. It's also way more convenient to travel while breastfeeding ... minus the part where they make you taste your breastmilk to prove it's not explosive. Yeahhhh that happened.
  • Health Benefits I'm not a doctor, but I've had plenty of them tell me how good breastfeeding is for my baby. When she had her first ear infection and was so miserably sick, the pediatrician told me, as he was writing a prescription for an antibiotic and I was nursing my girl, "You're already doing the best thing you can for her". What an awesome reassurance! When she was pretty new, this article was shared with me and I've clung to some of the statistics like a life preserver when things got rough. My favorites? "By breastfeeding for at least three months, you have given your baby a 40% reduction in the risk of asthma if you have a family history of asthma" (which I do - both my brother and sister have it) and "By giving nothing but your breastmilk for the first four months, you have given your baby a strong protection against ear infections and respiratory tract diseases for a whole year". There are a ton of additional health benefits, a lot of which are cited in that article.
chubby baby arms from a healthy happy baby
  • I'm Selfish Breastfeeding gives me and the baby an excuse to get away. When we're at a family gathering and things are just a little too loud and chaotic, we get to dart away to a quiet room and have time to decompress. If I want to steal her back from a well-meaning family member who's been holding her too long for my liking, I tell them she has to eat and no one (especially men) asks any questions. Even at work, I get to spend 30 minutes 3 times a day thinking about my baby. Especially when the baby is tiny, people want to hold him / her constantly and it can be a nice break for the new mother for awhile. But then, it's like "Hey, that's my kid, give it back" and breastfeeding totally gives you the right to do that. 
I hope this can be an inspiration to future mothers - I'm happy to talk about the benefits of breastfeeding and the challenges and joys you might face. I also have a great group of women in the Triangle who meet as a breastfeeding support group, if anyone is interested.
the sweetest moments are when she falls asleep in my arms
skin to skin
each time it happens, I worry it could be the last
so I hold her for just a few minutes longer than I should.
I'm sure there are thousands of other reasons that I, or billions of other women, breastfeed. What are some of your favorite reasons?

And for moms who choose formula, I'd love to know your reasons for making that decision! I know it's not always a choice, but I also know that some women are just as adamant about NOT breastfeeding as I was about doing it - so if you're one of those women, please chime in and educate me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Recipe: Potato Soup

I had some not-great luck with a recipe for cashew chicken the other night, and was feeling somewhat defeated (even though my sweet husband told me it was fine). I needed a win. Potato soup, how could you go wrong? YOU CAN'T. Trust me on this one. About halfway through the process, I was like "this is going to be a gross mistake" but I was wrong. It was amazing and delicious and so easy and I ate so much I had to unbutton my pants. Yeah, that good. I don't know what your pantries / freezers look like, but this was all stuff I had on hand, so that's an added bonus, and I imagine it would freeze really well.

You could do this in the slow cooker, but I decided to make it for dinner at 6pm so I made it on the stove top. You also could use vegetable broth and cream of mushroom soup to make this vegetarian. And finally, you could use low fat / low sodium everything EXCEPT the cream cheese. Don't do that, it won't melt.

Recipe was inspired by Pearls, Handcuffs and Happy Hour (I seem to be using a lot of her recipes for inspiration recently).

Ingredients

  • Bag of frozen shredded hash browns (between 24-30oz)
  • 2 cans chicken broth (28-32 oz total)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (approx 14oz)
  • 1/4 large onion, finely diced 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1 block of cream cheese (approx 8oz)
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green onions, chopped bacon

Directions

  1. Add hash browns, broth and soup to a large stock pot; cook on medium heat until all the hash browns are loose
  2. Add onions and pepper; reduce to medium-low heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring regularly (hash browns will start to dissolve and get very mushy)
  3. Add cream cheese and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring regularly, or until cream cheese is completely melted and hash browns are very mushy - almost dissolved



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

London Claire is Eight Months

My My My, what a big month it's been for our girl - and for us! With every milestone comes a new set of a challenges, and I am so thrilled to be able to face them all full-time as her mommy starting next month. Her personality is really starting to flourish these days and she is such a joy to be around. She loves to entertain herself and anyone else who will give her the time of day (which is everyone - how could you not pay attention to this kid?!). She definitely keeps Ben & I laughing and as sweet and funny as she is, she grows more and more beautiful every day. We are so blessed with the perfect baby for us!

One thing I'd like your help on - we are looking for a new soft carrier. She has always done so well in the baby bjorn but girlfriend is HEAVY. So we need something new. Preferably something that goes back and front and allows a pretty high (45lbs?) weight limit. I'd love your suggestions on carriers that do / do not work well for older babies.

Age: Eight Months
Height: Still Unknown. Mom Fail.
Weight: 18lbs 14oz as of last week
Hair: Ashleigh is insisting I let her cut the back. She has these strands in the middle of the back of her head that never fell out and they're pretty terrible. Thoughts on haircuts before a year? I never thought I would care, but it makes me a little sad to think about!
Eyes: No change. Can I take this one off yet? Moms whose babies' eyes changed color: how late did it happen?

killin' me with those eyes, kid
Favorite Outfit: My cousin Daniel bought her these jammies for Christmas that have mop-like attachments on them. Now that she's CRAWLING (?!?!?!), they were perfect. Get her started on house chores early!
Sleep: Cold + Teething meant she started waking up around 5 to eat. I gave in, because I knew her congestion wasn't allowing her to eat as much during the day. So our norm now is putting her down at 7:30 or close to, feed sometimes between 4:30 - 5:30 (sometimes as late as 6) then back to sleep for an hour or two. Of course I wrote this yesterday, then last night she slept 7:45 to 6:45. Praises!! Napping is still not great, but she always naps in the car, and I actually got her to nap in her crib yesterday so we're making progress. Really hoping I can get her on a solid nap schedule once I'm home. Wishful thinking, probably.
Eating: Oh my. This girl loves. to. eat. I can't imagine where she gets it from (ha ha!). She still adores cottage cheese, and we use animal crackers to keep her occupied during church, etc. She was eating strawberries last night and couldn't get enough - was grunting and slamming her high chair tray because Ben wasn't cutting them fast enough for her liking. She loves dill pickles and has recently tried turkey bacon, chicken, limes, mandarin oranges (she ate an entire can at dinner the other night. word to the wise, they don't fully digest), pancakes, refried beans, tater tots, hush puppies ... pretty much anything we eat. We're so blessed she's a good eater!
eating pumpkin bread at school
Illness: After a two-week cold, I finally took her in to find out she has another mild ear infection. So we're back on antibiotics, but hopefully getting her out of daycare will prevent many more of them. She never ran a fever and never acted like her ears were bothering her, but had a consistently runny nose and was up all night coughing, poor baby.
she entertained everyone at the pediatrician
Development: She got her first tooth last week, but does not want me to see it. She runs her tongue along her gums from time to time, and I can feel its little sharpness cutting through (not too bad when it comes to nursing yet, thank goodness). She loves to clap, especially for herself (after crawling, while looking at pictures of herself, etc). She's starting working on "B" sounds and talks all. the. time. Again, don't know where she gets that from!
Movement: Crawling! It's a funny little wobbly crawl but I definitely think it counts. It gets her where she needs to go, that's for sure - she's into everything, overnight. Opening drawers, pulling things down / over, we have to watch her constantly. And she can get from laying down to sitting now, which means when she wakes up she sits straight up in her crib and often times stares into the monitor and yells at us. Not awesome. She loves to walk / stand, and jumps ALL the time!
video
Favorite Toy: This giraffe thing. No one really knows what animal it is, but this is pretty much the exact one we have and she adores it. So much so that I had it line-drying (he was a spit-up victim) in the kitchen while I was feeding her dinner and she started freaking out when she saw it. It attaches to her wrist or a stroller / high chair, has a mirror and other hard discs for her to chew on, and has a crunchy neck, soft nose, all those good things babies like. Bright Starts has a lot of great baby toys she likes, as does Sassy.
Funniest Habit: She crawls a few steps, then claps for herself. Clapping is pretty much her favorite thing. Honestly, it warms my heart because it means we're giving her so much praise and encouragement that she does it for herself - I hope she never stops being proud of her accomplishments!
Best Moment of Last Week: Learning how to crawl, of course. She celebrated her first Valentine's Day and looked adorable as always, wearing a shirt from her best friend Estie Jo. No major events, but she makes us smile every day.
her shirt says "born to break hearts"