Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thoughts on Food

Partly out of a personal lifestyle philosophy, and partly for economic reasons, and partly to retain control over what our family eats (yeah, I'm a control freak.. giving it up bits and pieces at a time), I cook almost every dinner we eat. I love doing this - I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love providing for my family in this way. 

We've been beyond lucky with Ellie and her culinary habits. From the beginning, she was easy to feed. Breastfeeding was second nature, and as soon as we introduced her to solid foods, her repertoire of foods she wouldn't eat was almost non-existent. I suppose we did a modified "Baby Led Weaning" approach with her (ie, no/minimal purees, and straight to grown up types of food, allowing baby to feed herself), but more for convenience than any philosophical reason. It was, and is, much easier to cook one meal for everyone that be a short order cook for my family. (that being said, we also did purees when convenient and I fed her when I wanted to avoid a mess). It's also easiest to have everyone at the table together. She's got an amazing appetite and a great sense of adventure with trying new foods. She'll try anything I give her, and usually eat the whole portion. It's so satisfying, and so relieving to watch her gobble down a tray of what's on the menu - the only problem now is that I have to cook for basically three big appetites every dinner. (she ate a 1/4 lb filet mignon the other night, and she will easily put down a whole tilapia filet). I'm sure a small part of our success comes as a result of being so relaxed about what we fed her from an early age, and being inclusive of all "grown up foods" in her plate at mealtimes, but I know that the majority reason is simply because we lucked out. 

Dash, at 2 months, is also fed exclusively by me (yay!). I say "yay" because this was my number one concern regarding our rough start to his life (beyond any health concerns). Without the skin-to-skin, without the nursing on demand from the beginning, with bringing my milk in using a pump and all the trouble that caused (I'll be honest here: cracked/bleeding nipples, massively engorged, plugged ducts, blisters, many visits with the Lactation Consultants on staff at the hospital, trial and error with flange sizes for the pump - it was NOT fun). I've talked a lot about how much I love breastfeeding, and it's no different this time around. I love it, and will do this as long as I can, which will hopefully be as long as Dash wants to. 

I've mentioned here before (I think) that Dash seems to have a dairy sensitivity. Meaning - the dairy in my diet does not sit well with him at all. It shows up via bloody poop, which is (not) awesome. Our pediatrician says it doesn't cause him stomach pain, but I have to question that - on days when dairy sneaks into my diet, he's so squirmy and uncomfortable acting. This is HARD for me. I'm a dairy/carb combo addict: cheese and any bread/tortilla/pasta/cracker - that's my comfort food, and a major staple in my diet. It was easy enough to cut out milk - substitute coconut milk in my coffee, and that's that. Giving up yogurt was more difficult, but doable, as was ice cream and certain other desserts. Giving up butter frankly stinks, but I can cook with olive oil or use a butter substitute on bread if need be. But cheese - it's so, so hard. 

Where am I going here? I'm being forced to change up my diet a lot lately, and it requires a lot more forethought into what we/I will eat (no getting hungry and grabbing cheese anymore!). I'm finding that shopping vegan is a lot quicker of a way to avoid having dairy sneak into whatever I'm buying. I've never had anything against vegan products or recipes, and my previous general rule was that I would cook and eat whatever sounded/tasted good/easy/inexpensive/whatever my criteria was. So it's not like I had to have dairy in everything I put in my mouth. But now when I'm looking up recipes, it's easier and much quicker to search for "Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies" or "Vegan Zucchini Muffins." (side note: if a recipe explicitly calls for an ingredient to be "organic" or "non-gmo" or whatever, I move on. Thanks, but I can make that call for myself. It just seems so pretentious!). My sister has been off-and-on vegan for several years, and I've tried a couple of her recipes too. Hummus is a staple now, as are lara bars, and vegan (or milk/yogurt/butter free at least) muffins come out of the kitchen at least once a week. 

All in all, it's fun to have a new challenge in the kitchen. I know Dash's intestines appreciate it, and I'm sure mine do as well. :)

Ellie tackles Orange Bundt Cake with me. 
She's heard there may be an opening on The Food Network and practices with Dash as her audience
"hmm.... let me just try this...."
"pretty good"
enough said.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Two Months of Dash

We're so lucky to have baby Dash. Like, really, truly lucky. He is the sweetest, easiest baby, and he's officially 2 months old! (I think this is when we can stop counting in weeks, right?) :)

At 2 months, we're still only just seeing bits and pieces of his personality. He's a sleepy little big guy, still sleeping away a lot of the day. He gives us a couple hours of awake time in the morning, which is a surprising length of time for such a little guy to stay awake, and then another couple hours in the late afternoon, but the majority of the day he snoozes off and on. His nights are pretty consistent too - he'll usually wake every 4 hours or so. Last week he gave me a stretch from midnight to 6am, and how wonderful that was!

Yes, he likes to sleep on his belly best, and I tend to let him during the day. At night, he does best next to me in bed, and so that's happening also. I don't love it (I'd sleep better with him out of the bed, and I miss my husband who always gets kicked out by his little boy), but I do love waking up next to him. I think we had some attachment and bonding to make up for, and cosleeping is a good way to do that.

When he's awake, he's so alert. He's content to simply lie on his back and look around for long periods of time. He's comfortable being held by anyone, but seems to be able to detect if the person holding him is comfortable or not. He has an incredibly strong neck - rolled over for the first time a couple weeks ago, and has done it several times since then, just to prove it wasn't a fluke. He'll bear weight on his legs if you hold him upright - I'm guessing he'll be a strong little kid just like his sister.
She adores him.
He quickly moves from content to unhappy though. If I wait a moment too long to feed him, if he's naked and the least bit chilly, if he's in his bath when he doesn't want to be, etc. He's amazingly tolerant of Ellie "loving" on him, but when she pokes him too hard, he'll let his unhappiness be known.

Dash is huge. At his pediatrician appointment today, he clocked in at 13 lbs 7 oz - a total gain of 7 pounds since birth, and at the 85th percentile. Considering he was born 5 weeks early, this is pretty incredible.He's almost out of his three month clothes but swimming in his six month ones, and I'm incredibly proud of his rolly-polly thighs.
And rolly-polly cheeks!

His favorite things include nursing and... nursing. His least favorite things include bathtime, being hot in the car and being hungry. And, as of this week I can also say his newly crowned least favorite thing is vaccinations. Boy, did he squeal, and has been very fussy, sad and drowsy ever since. I love knowing he's getting protected, but don't like seeing him so uncomfortable. A small price to pay, of course.


I'll be totally honest here. Forming a deep attachment to sweet Dash really seemed to take it's precious time. I've heard this before from second time mothers, which I really appreciated. Knowing that others felt like this made me confident that what I was feeling (or wasn't) was normal, and that a deeper attachment would come. It's hard to explain: from the moment he was born I loved him like crazy and would have cut off my right arm to keep him healthy. I would have done anything for him, and I certainly don't believe that how I cared for him and met his needs was in any way lacking. But, the deep attachment that came so suddenly with Ellie just wasn't there. And on top of that, we were separated for what felt like so long, and when I could hold him it was in a very clinical way, and we couldn't nurse like normal mother/child duos do off the bat. So, there was a bit to make up for. Plus, once we brought him home, my attention was always divided, so there wasn't the blissful baby honeymoon that you get with a first child. And I'll be even more honest here - before he was born, I was afraid I couldn't love a) a second baby as much, but more significantly b) a baby boy as much. I really was afraid that we'd have a boy, and our relationship would be different and compromised. I never wanted boys, I never imagined myself to a mom of boys. I saw myself with a flock of girls, and I was just fine with that. 

BUT. Oh, but there is a but. We've attached. We've bonded. It's taken a while, and it was the result (I think) of long hours spent with me going through the routine of meeting his needs, holding him, nursing him, wearing him, sleeping with him, making eye contact whenever possible. We've imprinted on each other. And I am so, so in love with this little boy. It was him all along. He was the one who was sent from the universe, or God, or whatever to fill my heart. He was the one who was waiting to join our family. I was the one lined up to be his mother, and I am so incredibly grateful that we were brought together in a moment of serendipity. He is my beautiful, perfect and glorious son, and I am his mama, and I am so glad.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Looking Both Ways

I've been existing in a middle ground lately which has involved simultaneously looking backward and being nostalgic for my past, while excitedly looking forward. It's been very strange - lots of old faces showing up in dreams, seeing random old pictures pop up unexpectedly, lots of reminiscing.

My baby sister graduated from high school this week. Um, holy cow. Wasn't she like 4, just yesterday? I introduced Ellie to Toy Story this week, and remember my sweet 4 year old sister reciting the lines with her little baby voice, and can't believe that it's her turn to go out and meet the real world. (She'd always find the most obscure movie quotes and recite them - it didn't matter if it was kid movies or adult lines with innuendo from grown up movies. She'd find a line and quote it at just the right time, regardless of it's context in the movie. Such a funny kid - I'm glad my own little girl is almost as funny as her Auntie was!)  Truth be told - I'm jealous. It literally feels like just a couple years ago that it was our turn to graduate and enter the real world. I can remember the excitement and newness of my first day of college in the same way I can remember all the details of my wedding day. How is it possible that that was 12 years ago, and come the end of summer, my sister will be having her own first day of college? I can so clearly remember the wonderful liberation, the warm morning sun of Walla Walla rising up to greet me on my first morning, clinging to my friend Megan as we took our first steps into adulthood.
Dash came for the fun. He's thrilled to be there, obviously!
Class of 2013, baby!
And now it's her turn. Watching a graduation ceremony is a funny thing. They're almost all the same, give or take minor nuances in the speeches of the students and principals. But the Pomp and Circumstance remains, as well as that magical moment when the graduates throw their caps into the air in a joyous celebration of freedom, and the caps come fluttering down with an air of expectation. I always get chills.
And soon, it will be my own babies. When we stood outside the arena waiting to be let in, my stepdad turned to me, and said, "just think, in three years it'll be El's turn." Kindergarten is around the corner, and instead of being sad about how quickly it's going, I was giddy with excitement for her. My girl is going to rock kindergarten, and have so much fun doing it. I really can't wait to see what kind of kid she becomes - every day she is one step further from baby and closer to kid, and it's just fabulous to watch and be a part of.
practicing for school with early morning solo block playing.
In preparation for graduation the last couple weeks, my mom has been going through old photos, searching for some specific ones to use at different senior related graduation events. She pulled out the box she saved with pictures from my own senior year, and there we were: pictures with my best friends, senior prom, my old boyfriend, friends I can hardly remember. Crazy how it one moment it feels like yesterday, but at the same time, my memories have already faded so significantly.
Looking good, class of 2001!
And speaking of the future - we took the kids on an impromptu 24 hour visit to our cabin this week, because we had the time and we can, so why not? Whenever we've taken Ellie it's been a reminder of how much things have changed, but now that she's getting older and we have two babies, and this being our first trip with just the four of us, it was just a smack in the face that the future is here. I can remember going when I was little, and already Ellie is discovering things about the cabin that I discovered when I was young. She races for the loft, jumps from bed to bed, drops her toys through the railing and plays and plays. Her little legs are mosquito bite covered by the end of the trip, and she sleeps like a little baby, so exhausted from the fun and mountain air. I'm in awe of her energy and spirit, and hope I can find a way to bottle it up and keep it for her for when she grows up.
baby go to Leavenworth. baby drink a dunkel beer. :)
my babies sleep the same
fresh mountain air!
Happy Saturday. Happy day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Liebster Award

I've been nominated for an award! Hooray, and thanks, Emily!

Liebster is a German word that means dearest or beloved and is an unofficial award given to up and coming bloggers with under 200 followers by fellow bloggers. It’s a way to pay it forward, so now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

Here are the basic rules for being nominated:
  •  Share 11 random facts about yourself
  •  Answer the 11 questions the blogger who nominated you asked
  •  Create 11 questions to ask the 11 people you nominate
  • Nominate 11 bloggers with under 200 followers and let them know they’ve been nominated
11 random facts: 
1. This blog post has taken three days so far :) (two days later, it's now taken five...) (now we're day 6...)
2. I hate taking showers, but I do anyway. I hate baths even more.
3. I'm probably one of a few women who not only doesn't mind pregnancy stretch marks, but I kinda like them. They remind me of when my babies were a part of me. :)
4. I have two kids and I still don't feel like a "real mom" most of the time/
5. I drink at least 100 ounces of water every day, usually more.
6. I take forever making small decisions sometimes, but I make big decisions really quickly. Example: my husband asked me to move in with him two months after we started dating. Sounded good to me!
7. I hate shopping. I will grocery shop with a list so I can be as quick as possible, and avoid malls & other retail stores at all costs.
8. Making a good meal that I hadn't planned in advance with ingredients already in my kitchen makes me super happy.
9. I check Twitter multiple times throughout the night (thanks to nursing Dash and needing to stay awake) and get frustrated that nothing happens at 2am worth tweeting about. Huffington Post retweeting the previous day's headlines is especially aggravating. 
10. I say the word "off" when I unplug my straightener or curling iron, to remind myself that I have, infact, turned it off (it helps when I invariably forget if I turned them off to remember saying the word). 
11. My wedding dress was given to me by a friend of mine. I tried it on and it fit & I decided that because I'd rather not bother dress shopping (see #7), it would do the trick just fine. So I didn't do any wedding dress shopping at all, and decided on the dress in about three minutes (see #6).

11 questions from Emily:
1. What do your favorite hobbies say about you? I love to cook, and I think this says that I'm like to eat well and enjoy taking care of my family. Currently, I read a lot of articles online, but no books - I think that says I only have 10 minutes here and there and no time to read. :) Sadly, most of my hobbies are on the backburner right now; hopefully in a couple years I'd have more interesting things to say here!
2. What are your top 3 favorite children’s books? A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle, From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg and all the Little House books, but I think my favorite was On The Banks of Plum Creek.
3. What are your top 3 favorite books that you’ve read recently? Sadly. I can't remember the last book I read. I read a great one called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society a couple months ago, on a friend's recommendation, but embarrassingly it's been a long time since I've had dedicated time to read books. This'll have to change this year.
4. What chore do you absolutely hate doing? Folding and putting away laundry. So I usually don't.
5. What super hero power would you want? I'd love to be able to be a fly on the wall anywhere at any time. What cool things could you learn if you could have that kind of spying powers? 
6. Who is your celebrity doppleganger? I used to get Reese Witherspoon a lot. Not so much lately!
7. Do you have a go to dance move? Shaking my booty, ya know. :)
8. What songs are included in the soundtrack of your life? Hmm.... How Long Will I Love You (The Waterboys), Sweet Thing (Van Morrison) , All I Want Is You (U2), Stay (Wasting Time) (Dave Matthews Band), Thunder Road (Springsteen), Tunnel Of Love (Springsteen). That's such a hard question.
9. What was one of the best parties that you’ve ever been to? My wedding!! Such a happy day. :)
10. When was the last time you were nervous? When my water broke in the early morning of April 14th. I wasn't scared-nervous, but extremely excited-nervous, like adrenaline rushing so hard I was shaking. I was extremely nervous (this time scare-nervous) when I agreed to an augmentation of labor with pitocin. I was also totally nervous on the morning of April 25th, when we thought we were going to get to take Dash home from the hospital but weren't sure yet. Every time my phone rang (I was at home), I would jump and start shaking, thinking it was the hospital.
11. Do you have a favorite picture? definitely not! but, here are a couple faves: 

our wedding!
our honeymoon in Provence
carefree days
Eleanor maternity shoot
baby Ellie
tiny dancer
I pinch myself that this is my family
the sweetest baby boy

11 Questions: 
1. What were you doing immediately before this? (my answer: eating breakast. before that, cleaning up projectile vomit for the tenth time today)
2. If you could live somewhere other than where you live, where would it be? (small town in the south of France)
3. What's a profession you secretly wish you could have? (midwife)
4. What was the last movie you saw in the theater? (Admissions - Paul Rudd & Tina Fey)
5. What's for dinner tonight? (NO idea!!)
6. Did you go to college? What was your major and would you have done it differently? (Yep, Whitman College, Economics, and yes - I loved Whitman, but would probably go to a school where I could get more vocational training - probably study nursing at UW and go directly to a Midwifery program after)
7. If you could eat one thing every day, what would it be? (lately, I'd say guacamole...)
8. Do you want to have any (more) kids? (Some days I don't believe my baby making days are over. Some days I swear they are. I guess it's in fate's hands for now, but we definitely have to wait at least 3-4 years before considering it!)
9. What is your favorite physical feature about yourself? (I used to say my boobs - they were great before kids. Now I'd say my eyes or lips. I also have great hair when I take time to do it properly!)
10. What's your favorite personality trait about yourself? (I'm pretty generous with my time. I'll go to great lengths to make you happy at the expense of what I'd like to do for myself). 
11. Beach or mountains? (Beach!)

Nominate other bloggers: Okay, here's where I'm going to do this differently. I'm bad at consistently reading other blogs with the exception of a few (Amelia! Kelli! Kim! Emily!) and don't get a whole lot of traffic myself, so if you read this epic post and feel so inclined, will you answer the 11 questions in the comments section? Could be kinda fun (and will hopefully take you less that 6 days!)