Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Scary Story

The other night, I had put Anna down to sleep in her crib and was in my own bed reading. She had been asleep for maybe 20 or 30 minutes when, all of a sudden, she just started SCREAMING. Normally when she wakes up and just needs to be put back to sleep she kind of whimpers and maybe cries a little bit, so this frantic screaming really freaked me out. I ran in there and she was just hysterical- crying, shaking her arms, and that awful awful screaming. I picked her up and was trying to calm her down and NOTHING was working, not even trying to nurse her. I did think she felt warm so I took off her sleep sack and just had her in her diaper, and she never stopped screaming once. It was like she didn't even know I was there.

I was really starting to worry at this point and I was checking everything I could possibly think of- did she have a hair wrapped around her toes? Did she have a fever? Did it look like she had been bitten by a spider? I mean, seriously, everything I could think of. I finally took her downstairs and made Steve get off his phone call to try to calm her down...I was seriously at the point where if he couldn't get her to stop screaming, we were going to go to the hospital. It took almost 20 or 30 minutes but he finally got her calm. And then he had to calm me down. I stayed up with her sleeping on me for over an hour after she fell back asleep just watching her to make sure she was okay.

Well, Steve's mom came over Thursday night to spend the night, and we were out to dinner. I don't even know how or why it came up in conversation, but I mentioned to her what had happened. And she immediately said, "Well...I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but Steve had night terrors as a baby and as a child." As soon as she said that, it made SO much sense. Everything she said fit what happened with Anna...she said that Steve would be screaming and crying but he hadn't really waken up fully, so any attempt to calm him was futile. She said that it happened frequently with him, and they finally figured out that his feet being too hot was a sure-fire trigger for a nightmare. Steve says even to this day, if his feet are hot, he has bad dreams.

Even four days later I'm still freaked out by what happened...I've started putting her to sleep in just a footed onesie instead of her fleece sleep sack (I tried a footless onesie but her feet were way too cold), and I also nudged the nursery thermostat down another degree. And, needless to say, I've added night terrors to my list of things to research as soon as I get time!! We don't want to go through that again!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Gift from Aunt Barbara- a Picture Story

What girl's heart DOESN'T skip a beat at the sight of this blue box? Even if she's only 4 months old?

A silver baby comb eh? With a pink tassel, you say?

Nom nom nom.

The End

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

My friend Katherine brought this delicious dish over for us after the baby came, and we were surprised at how much we liked it. I'm a little ashamed to admit that the only eggplant parmesan I've ever had prior to this was the one on the menu at Maggiano', I think more fried breading and marinara sauce than eggplant. She sent me the recipe and I finally tried it last night. I had originally planned this to be dinner for 2 nights but it really made enough for 3 meals, so I will be enjoying it for lunch today too :-). Yummy!

Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from Katherine Peak's recipe)

1 large eggplant
1 package sliced Provolone cheese
12 oz fresh cut leaf spinach, or 12 oz bag frozen cut leaf spinach, thawed and drained
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 clove minced garlic
2 jars garlic spaghetti sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Olive oil
Italian-style bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 325, and prep a glass 9x13 dish with canola non-stick spray.
2. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices.
3. Combine the egg and milk. Pour the breadcrumbs into a second bowl.
4. Batter the pieces of eggplant by dipping into milk mixture and then coating with the bread crumbs.
5. Fry the eggplant pieces in olive oil, in a large skillet over medium heat, for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Once the pieces are fried, place them on paper towels to help absorb oil and cool.
6. When done with eggplant, cook the onions in a small amount of oil until tender, separating the slices into rings as you cook. Add minced garlic for 20 seconds, then turn off heat.
7. In the prepared glass pan, layer eggplant, onions and garlic, 1 jar of sauce, the spinach, and the provolone cheese. Add one more layer of eggplant and sauce.
8. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Top with the mozzarella cheese during the last 10 minutes.
     8a. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top so it can officially be called Eggplant Parmesan ;-)

This dish is perfect with sliced toasted french bread and a green salad.

Monday, January 24, 2011

4 Months Old!

Our sweet baby girl is 4 months old (plus one day). We just got back from her pediatrician appointment and Anna is healthy as can be. Her doctor gave her an A+ (and a gold star for good measure!). Good job baby!

 (This is her "household pest" outfit. Our house is plagued by deer, raccoons, and squirrels...all represented on this outfit, haha. The only pest missing is Captain K.)

She is 16 lbs, 5.2 ounces, and is 25 inches long. The doctor said she thinks she's either in the middle of, or wrapping up, a growth spurt, which she thinks is the reason she hasn't been sleeping as well at night. I certainly believe the growth spurt- this little girl is going through her clothes like nobody's business! I pulled out one of her kimono onesies today because she had to get her shots, and it seriously feels like just yesterday that these onesies were enormous on her. They are sized for 6 months and fit her perfectly. She's also in a lot of 6 month footed onesies because most of her 3-6 month ones are too short.
whoops! Don't fall over, baby!

No teeth yet (oops...I have to go back and delete that other post!)...I got a chance to look in her mouth the other day and didn't see anything either, so we jumped the gun on that. Silly Daddy. Anna was all smiles for most of her appointment and even treated the doctor to one of her little giggles. She only screamed for a few minutes after her shots, and she spit most of her oral vaccine out...the nurse had to keep scooping it back into her mouth.
 Today was the first time she ever noticed the bear...she kept reaching out to grab him and pet his fur.
Anna has really become a lot more actively observant this month. She is constantly looking around, and she LOVES to watch us eat. We'll pull her rocker up next to the table and she will watch every single bite. She also has started holding on to her toys, and especially loves putting them in her mouth. We've started giving her some small teething rings to gnaw on, but her favorite "chew toys" are still her hands and her momma's fingers. We're going to hold off on solids until she's 6 months old (and the doc agrees), since she's doing SO well on just milk, but I think she's starting to get excited for some new tastes!

She will roll over during tummy time, but not consistently yet. Her favorite spot to do her tummy time is on her Boppy, watching her crib toys. And yes, she's still got her bald spot from where she rubs her head lying in the crib, haha. It's starting to fill in a bit though, which I'm sure she's happy about. Speaking of her hair, it's still definitely a light brown, but there is a reddish sheen in the sunlight, which I'm ecstatic about. Her auntie Kristy has the prettiest red hair and her Daddy has red hints in his, which I would love for Anna to inherit!

I love that ruffle butt!

She is starting to really love being in her jumperoo. And she's allllllllmost big enough to reach her feet to the floor to jump by herself- not quite there yet though! She's moved on from the spinning toy and loves staring at the flashing lights as they play music. She's even started to hit the buttons herself, although I think it's more on accident than on purpose. She also still loves her play mat...she has started to hold on to her caterpillar toy and the bee toy. Anna also still loves to roll her tushy up so she can kick the toys. It's probably a pretty good ab workout. Baby pilates?

Quit taking pictures, Mom. Not amused.

Now that the holidays are over, we've been getting out a lot more with our various mommy groups and play groups. Anna is still among the youngest in all of the groups, but she LOVES watching the older kids play. And usually the older kids love to come up and say hi to the baby, so fun is had all around. I enjoy seeing all the different toys that are out there and keeping a mental list of the ones that Anna will definitely need to own when she's big enough to play with them.

Here is a picture our new friend Erin took at her recent play group:

Well, she's snoozing away in her swing so I'm going to take advantage of 2 hands and clean up the house a bit. Sorry there weren't enough pictures in this post but I promise to take some more later  ;-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Musings from the Mother of a Milk Monster

I've been mulling over the concept of breastfeeding since before Anna was born. I knew that I was going to at least try to nurse Anna, but at the same time I felt really self-conscious about the decision and especially actually doing it. kind of funny given that I pretty much had zero shame in nursing at the hospital completely in the open, regardless of how many doctors or nurses came into the room, haha. Go figure.

Anyway, I got to thinking about it again today because I ran across this article talking about the Surgeon General encouraging support for breastfeeding. The article offered some extremely interesting facts, like although 75% of American babies start out being breastfed, only 13% remain exclusively breastfed at the end of 6 months. 13%. That's an astoundingly low number. Now, I fully understand that some women run into medical or supply issues that prevent them from breastfeeding. But there's NO way that that accounts for such a drastic drop. There are definitely other issues influencing the widespread success of breastfeeding, which the article touches on, but I had my own thoughts on this too. The sociology major in me is fascinated by this topic and I could probably go on for days about it, but this blog is probably not the best place to do so. The marketing major in me is also itching to offer an opinion on the role of formula advertising and marketing in this drastic drop too.

Going back to my experience, I recognized the fact that I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious about it but I didn't really dedicate the mental energy to understand why. As Anna's gotten older and I've had time to reflect on it, I came to the conclusion that the reason I was struggling with it was the simple fact that I had NEVER been around anybody breastfeeding, I rarely saw it on TV or in movies, and the only references in the news were "lactivists" staging nurse-ins or people kicking nursing mothers out of restaurants. At least in my experience, breastfeeding was just something that wasn't "normalized". And I really don't think I'm alone in this...I get curious stares ALL the time out in public - not anyone being mean about it, you can just tell that a lot of people aren't used to seeing nursing mothers (for the record, it's amazing what a simple smile can do when someone realizes you've caught them staring at you. They usually just smile sheepishly and go back to whatever they were doing).

Once I came to that conclusion, I began to really appreciate seeing breastfeeding incorporated as part of everyday life, whether in real life with moms nursing matter-of-factly on the couch at play group while carrying on their conversation, or in pop culture in the movies, or on my guilty-pleasure celebrity gossip sites. Not references making a big deal about it, not people going out of their way to dramatize it...just realistic depictions. I admire women who are comfortable nursing in public, with or without a cover. I loved the scene in Four Christmases where Kristin Chenoweth's character is nursing in the family game circle. I admire how open and candid Bethenney Frankel is on her show about it, and even willingly nursing and pumping on camera. I even loved whoever that girl was on America's Next Top Model who continued openly pumping on the show in order to keep her supply up for when she got home to her daughter. I loved that they showed Pam struggling with breastfeeding on The Office. I also applaud celebrity images like this being released to the public without scandal or shock:

I can only imagine how much more comfortable I would have been with the practice of breastfeeding if I had started paying attention to these positive images. And believe me, it's not like I'm some crazy person pushing breastfeeding on everybody...I understand that it's not for everybody, and I'm also glad that we have safe, alternative ways to feed infants who aren't able to nurse for whatever reason. It's just become my belief that the more we can normalize breastfeeding in our culture, and especially the more we can stop thinking about it as something dirty, inappropriate or sexual, the better off our babies will be!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

One Year Ago...

One year ago today, I was looking down at this:

This morning, I'm looking down at this:

What a crazy year this has been  :-)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Some Little Things I've Learned

As any pregnant lady or new mom can relate with, I got/get showered with TONS of advice. Good, bad, unsolicited, solicited...believe me, it runs the gamut. Some pieces of advice I heard over and over until my ears started bleeding, and some were really useful. I got pretty good at accepting any and all with a "thank you! I'll have to remember that!" and then either filing it in my mental advice cabinet, or tossing it directly in my mental trash can.

Well, at the risk of being one of "those people", I realized the other day that I have a few pieces of advice myself. Most of it was discovered completely unintentionally, and in hindsight I look back and feel pretty lucky that it worked out that way. So, here we go...feel free to file or trash  :-)

1) Stock up at the hospital! When we were getting ready to leave the hospital, I asked the nurse if I could have Anna's name tag off her bassinet, and she said, "Of course, honey!! You can take everything here except the linens!! Here, I'll pack it up for you!!" I really didn't want any of it except the name tag but let her pack it up anyway, and I'm so glad she did. That nurse packed up several extra pairs of those awful but incision-friendly mesh panties, Anna's bulb nasal aspirator (which is way better than any of the store-bought ones we have), several packages of diapers and wipes, and most importantly, my hospital cup. Which I still use. And which brings me to my next piece of advice.

2) Be a camel! Breastfeeding makes me extremely thirsty, and I've also discovered that drinking enough water is the single biggest factor in keeping my milk supply up. When we were in the hospital, one of our many nurses brought this behemoth water mug to me and told me to drink FOUR of them every day. The thing holds 28 ounces of water, so to drink four of them?? Gah!! But it really did make me feel better, and it was also incredibly nice to have when we got home. I was able to keep it on my night stand, I knew exactly how much I was drinking, and it helped cut down on the amount of water fetchings that Steve had to do. I'm really glad the nurse stuck this thing in my bag!

3) Learn how to wrap a good swaddle! We've discovered that a tight swaddle is crucial in keeping a baby calm. I know they have pre-made swaddles that you can buy that velcro, but knowing how to swaddle with a regular receiving blanket is a great skill to have too.

4) YouTube is a valuable resource! One of the things that I honestly didn't give much thought to ahead of time was how to play with and interact with the baby. She slept so much the first several weeks that I didn't really get much time to interact with her, but as soon as she started being awake more, I realized that my very limited experience with infants did NOT include how to entertain them for hours I learn a ton by watching moms of older babies at my mom groups, but I also discovered that YouTube has a million videos of people playing with their kids. A simple "games for 3 month old babies" search turns up a ton of tips and ideas, both expert and non-expert. I've learned some of Anna's favorite games by watching and learning from other parents online!

5) Let Daddy do his thing! I'm with Anna ALL day and especially in the beginning, it was hard not to immediately tell him that he's not doing this or that "right", just because he wasn't doing it the way that I do it. As long as he's not endangering the baby, now I let him play or interact with her however he wants. And she loves it! Sometimes I think she needs a break from me (what?? blasphemy!) and Daddy's games are a welcome change. Plus the more time he spends with her, the easier it is on all of us when I have to go run errands and leave them together.

6) Memorize the 5 S's! These are from a book called The Happiest Baby on the Block, and are fantastic to use to calm a fussy baby. I'm not going to go into them all here but you can read about them here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Survival of Snowpocalypse 2011

Well, I think we're finally nearing the end of our week of snow-induced seclusion. We've had a cozy week together, and I enjoyed having Steve home with us. It was a nice post-holidays vacation!!

We really didn't have cabin fever at all. We learned from our winter here last year that our neighborhood (and our driveway) tend to get some really bad ice, so we were prepared to be in for the week. I'm home all day usually so for me it wasn't anything new, and Steve discovered some new games that kept him occupied. We also had fun being creative in the kitchen to help use up some of the food in the freezer/pantry that tends to accumulate...nothing like a good old-fashioned Cupboard/Freezer Clean Out Challenge, right? The weather is supposed to warm up tomorrow so I assume we'll be able to get out. We probably could have gotten out today but my suggestions to go next door and borrow Joe's snow shovel have been firmly ignored.

I have been taking advantage of having another set of baby-holding hands around and logging some good exercise hours downstairs. I've also been able to knock out a lot of cleaning to-dos that tend to get pushed to the back burner when I can't put the baby down. We've also had a sense of humor about it- we made ice cubes in my mini-muffin tray by sticking it out on the back porch (who runs out of ice cubes in the middle of a snowstorm?? idiots, that's who.), Steve made a snowball gin and tonic, and he's also chilling a bottle of champagne in a pile of snow on our back porch as part of our dinner menu tonight, since we're out of wine. We've also had fun watching the neighborhood kids on their sleds...there's been a bunch in our cul-de-sac and also on the school field behind our house. Steve has been going for his normal jogs outside (yes, in shorts...nut) and coming home with road reports. And iPhone pictures of cars (and moving trucks) all over the place.

I am ready to get back to normalcy though...I had to reschedule several mommy play dates and lunches with friends, and I know Steve is antsy to get back to work. It's now officially his tax busy season so he was glad to get a long, lazy week in before the craziness starts! We hope all our other Atlanta friends and family stayed safe and warm and managed to have some fun this week too!

Apple Walnut Bread

I've had this recipe saved for a while now. It's from a combination of two of my favorite blogs- Good Things Catered which is unfortunately no longer around, and Vintage Victuals. I love the Vintage Victuals blog because her recipes are usually fairly simple and straightforward, and don't rely on a lot a of processed foods.

I finally made this recipe when I realized we were out of bagels and English muffins, and I wanted to make sure we had something for breakfast in the morning. When I spotted apples on the counter that I had bought for Steve's lunches, and were probably going to go bad soon, I remembered this recipe and decided to give it a shot. I will definitely make it again, but I think next time I will try to double or triple it and stick a few loaves in the freezer. It's way too good and goes way too fast to make just one loaf at a time!!

Apple Walnut Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch fresh ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups apples peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and grease a regular loaf pan.

In medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large electric mixer bowl, combine the oil and sugar and beat well. Add the eggs and beat to combine. Add in the vanilla. Turn your mixer to low and carefully add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Fold in the apples and pecans. The resulting batter will be thick and sticky – barely enough to hold all of the apples and pecans together!

Spread the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Picture Post

Some randoms off the camera card- enjoy!

 Steve got home early from work one day so I set him to the task of coming up with noises for these animals for Old McDonald had a farm. I didn't even give him the shark puppet...aren't I nice? If you're wondering what the noise for the sea turtle was, it was "glub glub glub glub".

 Captain K is Anna's playtime companion when she's in the jumper.

 Helping Daddy check his email.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our little Snow Bunny

We woke up to a rare treat this morning- SNOW! And a LOT of it! I don't think we've seen this much snow at one time since 1993 when a blizzard shut down the city. So we bundled up our little one and snapped a few pictures...I'd say this makes up for not getting any snow shots at Christmas!