Saturday, December 29, 2012

A World of Discovery: Orange Juice

Emma has had the sniffles for some time now. Against the advice of my mother, I've avoided giving her orange juice, mostly because of the sugar rush that follows. But alas, today we are out of oranges. In an effort to drive away the snot, I caved in and gave Emma orange juice. Somehow it didn't occur to me she'd never had it before.

Disclaimer for the health nuts: I watered it down. A lot.

She was excited at the prospect of getting juice. It's something that usually only happens at Grandma's house.  I gave her a cup and she took a sip. Then she looked at me. "Orange!" she exclaimed in the same way one might say, "Eureka!"

"That's right, Baby, it's orange juice."

"Orange? Juice! Orange juice! Wow."

Who knew one part orange juice two parts water could be so revolutionary?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why, Baby, Why?

I remember this being a problem last time. When I am hungry, I never want what we have on hand. Everything makes my stomach go "ew!" If I stock the fridge with something that sounds good, I don't want it anymore. If I eat something that I don't want, I feel sloshy. But if I eat too much of what I do want, I feel even sloshier.

This is why there are two packages of hot dogs, 3/4 a summer sausage, a pound of cheese, 2 jars of pickles, 4 sparkling waters, an eggplant and a bowl of cookie dough in the fridge. It all sounded so good! I don't want it anymore.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Down with White Male Doctors

In my last post, I mentioned how I might have poison ivy. Well, I'm pretty sure that I don't. For the record, this is mostly an angry rant.

I first noticed the rash almost two weeks ago. I woke up with four large itchy spots, that looked a lot like mosquito bites, on my neck. I made a mental note to secure the window above our bed, and went on with my day. At noon, driving down the road, I felt another spot on a different part of my neck. I figured I just hadn't noticed it that morning.

In the meantime, by boobs were hurting. That's a normal symptom of pregnancy. I didn't think anything of it until I undressed that night. There it was: a hot pink rash all over my breasts, including over the nipples. (Let me tell you. Ouch.) I had to be allergic to something.

 By Friday morning it had spread to palm sized red blotches on both sides of my neck, my stomach and my legs. I made a doctor's appointment and a (rather loud) resident interrogated me about the possibility of new foods, lotions, soaps, materials, and exposure to nature. He determined that I was having an allergic reaction to something, gave me a strong steroid cream, and sent me on my way.

By the following Tuesday, the itch was unbearable, and still spreading. I went back to see my own doctor (the cute and peppy Dr Sheila) who immediately had me sent up to Dermatology for an appointment with Dr Stern.

Whatever you picture, when you think of Dr Stern, whatever image comes to your mind, you are absolutely accurate. The epitome of an old, white, male doctor, a with grey mustache. He concluded that I contracted poison ivy. In the winter. From my dog.

If you haven't met Bailey, our dog, it would be relevant for you to note at this point that never has there been a dog so averse to nature. And yet Dr Stern, in all his white male doctor wisdom, insists that I have poison ivy. I reminded him of some of the "delicate" placement of the rash, and told him I don't make it a habit of rubbing my dog on my boobs. He replied with a cough and a "hrumph." I also brought up that my husband is allergic to poison ivy as well, so it would stand to reason he should have it too. Dr Stern speculated that since he grew up, first in China where there is no poison ivy, then in the city of Chicago, he must not really be allergic to poison ivy.

Dr Stern was satisfied that he'd "explained away" my rash. He instructed me to wash my sheets (duh), and scolded me (yes, scolded me) for scratching. I convinced him to take a biopsy of the rash for testing. For the record, I now have a stitch on my butt.

I just got the test results back yesterday. The biopsy concluded that I am having an allergic reaction to something. Three doctors appointments, two prescriptions, two over the counter drugs, and one stitch in my butt, and all I know is that I'm allergic to something.

Since I haven't bought anything in the manner of clothes, lotions, detergents or soaps in over a month (thank you, bulk purchases) I must conclude that pregnancy has created an allergic reaction to something. I'm working on my own ways of dealing with it. The rash appeared on my face once, but only lasted a few days. I've started washing my whole body with my face wash, and it may or may not be helping.

I did get one thing from this whole experience: I love my Primary Care Physician. Dr Sheila was the only one out of three doctors (four if you include the intern who took my skin biopsy) who recognized that my opinion was important and sympathized with my discomfort.

It is so, so, so important to build a relationship with a good doctor who cares more about you than about getting you out the door. When you go see a doctor, and you feel you are being treated unfairly, or are not being listened to, you have the right to request a new doctor. You may get some dirty looks or attitude, but it is your right as a patient. Find the right doctor. Even if they don't have the solution, they can help you in more ways than just the physical.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Have An Announcement!

I went off my birth control in November and instantly became pregnant! Woo!

We don't know if its my uterus or my (handsome and manly) husband's super-sperm. It has been speculated that there might have been something in the water at my counterpart's high school. It was a math and science school, after all. Perhaps there were undisclosed experiments performed on students. A few of my husband's friends have had similar *ahem* success in procreation. 

At any rate, we're excited! The mere fact that this pregnancy is intentional is enough for me to celebrate. I'm rather looking forward to this entire experience. I've heard a lot about the GLORIES of pregnancy and childbirth. Last time I was pregnant, those glories were overshadowed by the uncertainties, emotions and general "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit." I'm looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about. 

According to my weekly info email, my child is currently about the size of a blueberry. (Why foods? It's always food.) That hasn't prevented me from gaining water weight. None of my jeans are comfortable anymore. I'm living on sweatpants and one pair of maternity slacks.

Morning sickness has kicked in, though I'm sure it's going to get worse. Right now it's just a general queasiness that comes from looking at healthy food. It goes away when I think about pizza or hot-dogs. (Not polish sausage, mind you, unless it's kielbasa and has been cooking in sauerkraut for at least 3 hrs. No, just plain old, *hopefully* all-beef hot dogs. With mustard.) I also like to think about this upcoming Christmas ham. 

Despite my cravings, I'm doing all right as far as diet goes. I will admit, however, that sometimes my philosophy has been "if you can't eat something nice, don't eat nothin at all." I keep a lot of baby carrots on hand. I'm drinking a lot of water, about 2 liters/day, though it's difficult to keep track with a tiny toddler stealing your water bottle.

Emma has absolutely no idea what is going on. We haven't made any changes around the house yet, but in an effort to help her understand, I looked up a diagram of a pregnant woman at about 34 weeks. We looked at the diagram together and I pointed out the mommy and the baby. I went on to explain that I am the mommy and I'm growing a baby. She, in response, lifted her own shirt, pointed at her belly and (sounding rather alarmed) asked, "a baby???" We're going to be working on this one gradually. 

That's the general re-cap. Tune in later this week to find out whether I'm allergic to pregnancy or have the worst case of poison-ivy ever. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Food and Sanity: Soup Beans

I am the Soup Bean Queen!

On a gloomy day like today, when the sky is neither raining nor snowing but slushing, nothing will pick up your spirits like a good bowl of southern soup beans. So here it is, the best thing that ever came out of my elementary school cafeteria, improved upon by the random ingredients in my pantry.

Southern Soup Beans

1 1/2 lb beans of choice (I used 1 lb navy beans and 1/2 lb lentils)
Leftover Ham bone, ham scrabs, pork fat, or whatever salty pork bits you have around
1 tbsp veggie oil/butter/whatever
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
sprinkling of salt and pepper

Soak your beans overnight!

The next day, in the afternoon, use your veggie oil to cook the onion and garlic in the bottom of your pot until the onion is translucent. Drain off the excess water from the beans and plunk them in the pot. Also toss in the pork bits and seasonings minus the salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer. Taste the broth after a while and add salt to taste. (You never know how much salt from your pork/ham will end up in the broth so it's better to be safe.)

After about 4 hours, use a slotted spoon to fish out the ham, cut off the bits that you would actually want to eat, put them back in the soup and discard the fat/bone/whatever, as well as the bay leaves. Don't eat those. Icky.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nail Polish Experiment: Preliminary Results

Well, it has been five days since I painted my nails, and I believe I can reasonably conclude which polishes are supreme. First, it should be noted that these results are not absolute. There are variables that I could not account for, specifically, that some nails are used more than others. Since I cannot adjust for this in my experiment, I am making the adjustment in the results.

(I'm sorry I have no fancy photographs. Some toddler that lives in my apartment hid my camera.)

The Milani was the first to chip, not because of the polish, but because I slammed my finger in laundry room door and split my nail in two. Amazingly, this had no real effect on the polish itself. It wasn't until the dead bits of nail started flaking that the color started flaking off as well, about 2 days later. So the Milani lasted 3 days. Had I not had the unfortunate accident, it may have lasted 4. Milani tends to tear off. Once the flaking begins, it only takes a few hours for it to look jagged and icky.

The Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear was the second to chip, later that same day. I had a teeny rough spot on the edge of my nail and when I tried to smooth it, the polish peeled off in one big chunk. I guess it depends on how you like your polish. If you'd rather it come off all at once, this may be your brand. 

Throughout the first three days, the two professional brands began to fade. That's right, not chip, fade. When I first put them on, they looked okay. Now they just look crappy. I'd say leave the professional polishes to the professionals.

On day three, I needed to push back my cuticles. This resulted in a lot of chipping around the bed of the nail. Having already caused the damage (and because I have nervous compulsive issues) I decided to attack the polish full force. The two brands least effected by my attack were the Revlon and the Sinful Colors. 

The Sally Hansen Hard as Nails brand ended up peeling like the other SH polish, but it did last a bit longer. 

The Maybelline Fast Dry and the NYC in a New York Minute performed impressively, in that they did not chip until actually attacked. After that, they did not chip much

The Wet n Wild is probably the heartiest of the fast dry's. Despite the fact that I tore my nail yesterday, the only apparent chipping is at the bottom where it came into contact with my cuticle scissors. This polishes biggest downfall is that it comes in a limited array of colors, most of which are metallic. I've found, metallic polishes take longer to come off. Great when you want a good manicure. Bad when you want a new one.

I believe that for now I shall declare Revlon the best. The polish did not fade, nor did daily wear and tear take off much polish at the nail's edge. It even persevered through my cuticle cutting and subsequent attack, leaving me with a nail that still looks almost perfect.

Sinful Colors comes in a close second. Although some fading is apparent and difficult to dry, it is chip resistant once cured, and would still look perfect were it not for the smudge I got on it on day 1. 

Third is a tie between the Wet n Wild and NYC fast-dry brands. Neither chipped too terribly, though I doubt they would last much longer. 

And those are my experiment notes. I plan to make a chart to determine which polish has the best qualities. I'll get back to you on that in a few days.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Experiment: Nail Polish!

I have for several years now used my nails as a gauge for my own well being. I started this my sophomore year after a particularly difficult mid-term week. I had immersed myself so deeply in work. I was overwhelmed, overtired, over everything. On top of that, I am fairly certain that I had boy problems. (I make this speculation based on the fact that before I met my husband, fell deeply in love with him and accidently had his baby, I almost always had boy problems.)

Anyway, after I finished all my projects, got the access caffeine out of my system and slept for a day or two, I noticed what terrible shape my nails were in. The surrounding skin was dry and flaking, my cuticles overgrown and splitting, the nails themselves bit to the quick and cracked in some places. It took me a good week to get them back in shape again. Since then, I have kept a close eye on my hands, and if I am unsure of my own emotional presence, I look at my nails to see how they are. Caring for my nails is no longer just a cosmetic action, it is a refocusing  and evaluation of my own well-being.

And my well-being needs the best nail polish! Enter today's experiment. I took all my nail polishes and arranged them according to brand, then took one color from each and painted one nail. This experiment will effectively compare 10 different brands of polish.

From left to right: Sally Hansen Hard as Nails in "Tough Luck;" Maybelline Express Finish in "Timely Turquoise;" Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in "Blizzard Blue;" Wet n Wild fast-dry in "Teal of Fortune;" Sinful Colors in "Let's Talk"

From left to right: Color Club Professional Nail Laquer in "Ms Socialite;" Unknown (but possibly salon-grade) maroon; Milani in "Radiant Ruby;" Revlon in "Teak Rose;" NYC in a New York Minute Quick-dry in "Central Park"

I used a clear base coat and then applied one, thick coat of color. No top-coat.

Here is what I can already tell you:

The three fastest drying polishes are (in this order) New York Minute Quick-dry, Maybelline Express Finish, and Revlon. That's right. The Revlon beat out one of the quick dry polishes. I'd be interested to try something from the Revlon TopSpeed line. 

Both Sally Hansen brands have a tendency to bubble. They also have the most difficulty achieving evenness of color, as do the two professional brands. 

Sinful Colors takes the most time to dry. After having taken an hour nap, the polish was still soft on the edges, causing a spot to scrape off. A few scratches are already visible.

Milani, Revlon and NYC New York Minute have the smoothest appearance. 

I'll update over the next week regarding chipping, fading and whatever else happens. I think it's going to be a very worthwhile experience. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our First Anniversary

It has now been a year since our park wedding adventure. It was a beautiful day with an early bedtime and Meng had to leave for work at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. One year later, it's been a beautiful day, and in it's own way an adventure. And we're going to bed early because Meng needs to leave for work at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow. This is our life. And it's pretty wonderful.

Darling, thanks for a magical first year.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why Not to Eat Donuts at the Playground

The plan was simple. Drop off laundry, share a donut, then play on the playground. It was going to be perfect. Until...

When we got to Dunkin Donuts, there were no tables available. No problem, it would be nice to sit outside! There are benches at the playground. We grabbed two donuts (getting dangerous, I know), and walked back to the playground area to enjoy them. Being a good sharers, we broke the two donuts in half and each took two pieces. Now we both had chocolate donut and strawberry donut, and the world was beautiful.

Just as Emma was double-stuffing her mouth with donut, a large group of 3-5 year olds walked by. From the general kid chatter I heard once voice rise above the others, "Hey! She got two donuts!" Then there were more. "Say whaaaaaaat?" "Hey that girl got two donuts!" "Who said donuts?"

It was cute. Fine. Great. They walked on into the playground (not past it, as I'd hoped), we finished our donuts and went inside. It only took about two minutes for the first voice to find me, a little girl with cornrows and a dramatic flair.

"Hey why did she have two donuts?"

Try explaining to a 4 year old that she really only had 3/4ths of one, since we shared two and she didn't eat two full halves. Yeah, I skipped that conversation entirely.

"We were sharing them," was the simpler reply.

"Why didn't you share some with us?"

I have to admit that I was too easily rendered speechless. I have gone up against judgmental meanies, annoying smarty-pants blondes, men who think too much of themselves, and rude people in grocery stores, but it was a 4 year old that took me completely off guard.

"We didn't have enough," was what I finally managed to come up with.

"Hey do you have any more donuts?" asked another voice behind me, one belonging to a boy with blue eyes and curly hair.

"No, I'm completely out."

"You should go and get some more!" suggested Drama Girl. "I'd like one with sprinkles. And Coffee. No, a smoothie!"

"Okay, okay, I'll tell you what," at this point I was willing to say anything, "If I see you next time, I'll save you one."

"Me too?" Curly jumped up and down on a bench.

"Sure, kid, sure."

"When will I see you next time? Because I'm going to be here for three weeks!"

"I have absolutely no idea." Only in my mind I was saying, "Never, ever, ever!!!!"

I should have known that wouldn't be the end of it. Within seconds Drama Girl had returned with friends. "This is her! She says next time, she's going to bring us all donuts!!!" I spent the rest of our time at the playground swarmed with children of various ages and ethnicities.

"I'm 4 years old! Next year I'll be 6!"
"You know what, Miss Maria gave Katie a purse because she was being quiet, but I was being quiet and I didn't get one."
"Are you really going to bring us all donuts?"
"I can drink coffee. My mom lets me because I'm oldest."
"Yeah her mom lets her. I want a smoothie."
"Will my donut have sprinkles?"
"I don't like the kind with red stuff in the middle."
"I want pink sprinkles!"
"Ooooo! Me too!"

We left earlier than planned.

The whole experience opened an ethical conversation for me. What was the experience for these kids? Do they really think that I'm going to bring donuts and smoothies? They don't understand that there probably won't be a next time, that I have no plan of going back to Dunkin Donuts at that exact time of day. And since they probably don't understand that, does that make me a liar for letting them believe that they will see me again, and that I will have donuts for them? How disappointed will they be if it never happens? Will they look for me tomorrow?

If they look for me tomorrow, they will not find me. I plan on avoiding that playground for the next three weeks, because I have no intention of buying three dozen donuts for someone else's kids.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bean Sprout!

At about this time, on August 15, 2010, I was just returning from a trip to the Toledo Zoo.

Elephantine me with the Elephants

Little did I know it would be the trip that tripped the time bomb in my uterus. My water broke first thing the next morning 
You can't tell from the picture, but the amniotic fluid was running into my shoes.

and before the day was out, I was holding the little girl who would change everything.

The two of us, just a bit shocked and terrified.

Tomorrow, my Emma Bean turns two. Wow. She is constantly finding new ways to make me happy, frustrated, giddy, and exhausted. And she just won't stop growing! 

For a full view of our professional photos click here.

Here's to you, Squeaky the Cheese Burrito, Snickerdoodle, Emma Bean, Bean Sprout, Sprouty Sprout and Grandma's Girl. You don't look a day over 48 months to me. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Proud Parenthood

Having a toddler can be frustrating and stressful. It's difficult to get things done around the house. There are often spills, toys are everywhere, and the favorite game is "throw-it-all-on-the-floor." She knows how to put things away, but has to be coaxed to do so. It's easy to resort to TV as a distraction, and that is exactly what I sometimes do. Today I was determined there would be no TV. Emma, however, didn't get the memo. From the moment she woke up this morning she wanted to watch Curious George. She walked around in her pajamas with a blanket in her hand saying, "George? George?" But we had to get to church, so up she obediently ate her breakfast and got dressed with no George. 

After her nap, she asked for George again, and I distracted her with some goldfish crackers. As she wandered aimlessly around the living room munching her goldfish, she stepped on a Lego. "Ow," she commented, then began to pick all of them up. I watched as she put every single Lego back in the box, even venturing into the kitchen to see if she'd dropped any there. Then she looked at me and asked, "George?"

Really. How could I say no?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Parenthood is...

a grey nightgown in the doorway at 12 a.m. that says "Hi!" for the 5th time in one hour.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Apartment!

Um, I didn't mention it on this blog, but we're moving to Boston! Actually, we've moved to Boston. Two days ago. Don't hate me for not telling you. Just roll with me. I have pictures!

Obviously, things aren't finished yet. I'll post more pictures later so you can see the finished product. In preparation for moving into my own (quite small) space, I have recently become obsessed with decorating articles and blogs, so I'm going to tell you all about each picture.

This is our lovely living room. The funny looking thing over the fireplace (we have a fireplace!) is the TV. You may remember the glider if you have ever seen pictures of Emma's nursery before we moved to Chicago. The other green chair was a lucky thrift store find. We plan on using the mantle to display our eclectic kick-knacks, once we figure out where they are.

As you can see, Bailey has made himself at home. Our Ikea couch is a top-of-the-line pull out. This means, friends, that if you are in Boston and you don't want to stay at a hotel, you can crash with us! Let me take a moment to point out the beautiful rug that we bought yesterday for only $100! A bookshelf is going to go next to the window,  maybe. I don't know yet. But I have these lovely hanging tea-candle holders from World Market that I plan on hanging over the couch!

I am particularly proud of this little spot. We put the wood-burning accessories in our storage unit and put together a romantic candle garden. It looks incredible lit. I plan on collecting more candles as I go, and eventually want to get flat glass marbles to fill in the sides, either in black or peach. It also needs something on the sides. I don't know what I'm doing there yet. My impulse is to say plant stands...
My adorable kitchen! Look at my adorable tea-kettle on the stove! And the adorable aloe plant!  And my adorable coffee maker! (Can you tell I'm a fan?) Instead of getting a kitchen table, we opted for bar stools. It saves space, and makes the great-room seem bigger. I want to put decorative shelves on the wall over the bar for my adorable teacup collection.

Naomi, this is for you. :)

This part has been the most fun. It's 90% finished and wants a rug and a few pictures on the walls. The little hutch in the corner  and the rocking chair were mine when I was little. Her table and chairs you may recognize from Christmas. We have a picture of an elephant playing a piano that needs framing to go over the hutch. On the other wall I plan to make a giant "picture frame" where Emma can hang all her pretty art-work. 

Emma actually has yet to see her room. She was asleep when we brought her into the house today (she flew in with Meng's parents this afternoon), and has yet to wake-up. I have not figured out what goes on top of her little dresser. The picture above it (which you can only see half of) is a sand painting of a giraffe drinking water that we bought in Colorado last summer.

Books! The flowers on the walls are decals I got at Target for $10. It's the perfect touch for that corner. There are three small canvas prints to go next to the window. Also, may I draw attention to the lovely pencil drawing on the bookshelf of a mommy and baby elephant? It was done by my dear friend Natalie, who presented this drawing to me at my baby shower two years ago.

Finally the bathroom, which is difficult to photograph. The tub, toilet and vanity are grey, so I am accessorizing with grey zebra stripe and dark blue towels. I have a picture to go on the wall eventually.
And that's all I've got, folks! I'll post more as we reach completion. Meng and my bedroom is \haos right now, so I'll skip posting any pictures of that, though I must boast that there is a window at the head of my bed and I wake every morning with the sun shining in. Cheers!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ask Me Anything: Breastfeeding, Pumping or Formula?

This is my very first reader-prompted blog post! Yay! Know that when you are reading my blog you can feel free to ask me anything. You can write your questions at the end of any blog post, and I will read and respond. 

Our question today is from J:

"Out of curiosity, what prompted you to pump rather than nurse? I am having a difficult time with the idea of either."

My inability to breast-feed was a source of guilt and frustration for at least the first three months of Emma's life. The problems started in the hospital room. The first 48 hours are crucial to breastfeeding. Boobs are a smart milk production factory. When your baby takes that first drought of milk, your mammary glands automatically take into account how much milk was drained and adjusts accordingly. If all the milk is gone, the glands make a little bit more next time. If there is some left, they make a little bit less. This is why, if everything goes according to plan, you never run out.

Of course I couldn't have things go according to plan. It's just [apparently] not my style. Emma was early, and very small, and I couldn't get her to latch (technical speak for chomp down and suck). This is a problem with many babies who, like Emma, were born premature. There were several factors in addition to Emma's issues. I hadn't really done my research on breast feeding, thinking that it would just be a natural thing because that's the impression all those benefits-of-breast-feeding pamphlets give. In addition, the on-duty lactation consultant (who took her job title to mean, literally, woman who tells you how to breastfeed) was matter-of-fact and abrasive, and gave me the impression that if I did anything other than her way, it would be wrong. At one point she actually said, "No, you're doing it wrong," grabbed my breast, and squeezed it to make milk come out. Ouch, okay? 

More than anything I must stress to you, there is no one way to breastfeed, and (unless you need an anatomy lesson) there is no wrong way. When Emma and I finally learned how breast-feeding works, we found that we were most successful when we were soaking in a warm bath. The lactation consultant failed to tell me that each mom and baby experience will be a little different, and while the mechanics are the same, no 5 step process can work for everyone. 

But back to my mammary glands. Because Emma and I were having issues, the hospital got me a breast pump in an effort to keep my milk supply up. The pump was awful. It didn't work right. Of course I didn't realize that. I thought I was just defective. When we were released from the hospital, my now husband got me a professional-grade Medela Breast Pump. It worked really well... for the glands. 

Newborns need to eat about every three hours. So for a month I followed a breast feeding/pumping/sleeping routine. I would breastfeed for about a half hour. She would get frustrated and refuse to latch. For another half hour I would give her formula so she'd stay hydrated. Then I'd change her and put her down and go pump my boobs for a half hour each, in an attempt to get my still insufficient milk supply up to par. Then I'd maybe eat something? Or perhaps shower. Then I'd use whatever was left of that hour to sleep. Then I'd get up and do it all over again. 

A lot of people talk about how important it is for a baby and mom to stay physically healthy during the first few months, but the mother's mental health is not so often discussed. I felt like a machine, a non person. The stress and depression I experienced effected further my ability to supply milk. 

I put myself through this routine torture for two months, until my mom sat me down and explained to me that I would still be a good mom if I didn't breastfeed anymore. I wasn't healthy, and it was effecting my ability to perform every day tasks. The stress and the work and the guilt were piling together for a perfect emotional breakdown. And that's when I decided to switch completely to formula. 

And that's the story. As far as recommendations go, I would say, if you can, absolutely breast feed. There are so many great benefits, that you can't get even from using a pump. I'll go into that in another post. But more than anything, don't feel guilty if for some reason you can't or don't want to breast feed. There are hundreds of thousands of healthy, well adjusted children out there who, like mine, spent the first year of their lives on an almost all-formula diet. There are some awesome formula options out there, even for children with special diet needs, and there will be ample time for cuddling, so don't worry about bonding with your child. There are greater consequences if you don't take care of yourself.

Check tomorrow for a post breaking down the pros and cons of breast feeding and bottle feeding. In the meantime, check out this article on feeding on the Mayo Clinic website. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Parenthood is...

...hearing muffled sounds from the closet and not at all wondering if she's okay.

For a good idea of how things have been lately, go check out my post on my monthly pregnancy scare

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Parenthood is...

...that little happy dance done during nap time because the little monster is out!!!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We Make Art

Our routine has gotten rather dull lately. The ole' coloring/stacking-blocks/chasing-puppy routine couldn't last forever, so I've started researching some fun artsy things that we could do. Thanks to my dear friend Anne who posted a link on Facebook to The Imagination Tree last week, I am full of new ideas to try. This was our fist attempt with edible paint and it went fairly well... all things considered.

(I didn't take pictures of the earliest stages, because I didn't think I was going to blog about it. Sorry)

All the recipes for paint that I saw included a cup of corn-starch and boiling water, and frankly that is a lot of work and I'm not sure I have the drive to actually do all that nonsense, so I decided to go a slightly different rout: Jello instant pudding. I followed the directions, divvied it up into cups and mixed in food coloring.

The pudding was naturally yellow, so it threw off the color mix a little. Also, I seem to have lost the red food coloring, which I find suspicious. 
Next, most important step, was to find an appropriate canvass

Bathtub! I wiped it down with a towel, but I keep it pretty clean so I wasn't too worried.
And then we got to work! Emma had no problem figuring it out.

We had fun... as you can see.

Mommy's contribution
"This is fun!"
I no longer fear pesky stains now that I have my new bff, OxyClean!
Modern artist in the making
Of course, it was all over when she realized I had used pudding...
It wasn't that successful. It didn't coat well, or at least it didn't get dry enough to because after 20 minutes, Emma started eating it. And then there was the whole eating it problem, which could have created a sugar rush, but (thank goodness) it didn't. I suppose next time I'll have to try using corn starch. 

Then it was bath time.
We had a blast, though, and that's what really matters. I'm looking forward to trying more new projects, because (honestly) the crayon/sticker combo is really messing up my decor. :)

This is always the best part. Giggles! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Parenthood is... that sticker your toddler put on your arm [three days ago].

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sure enough...

Blogger has this neat thing, where you can look in your statistics and see what keywords are used when your blog is viewed using a Google search. Today the top keywords are almost what you would expect: "College Baby Bump," "How to make a baby bump collage," "Baby Burps College" and "Touch my sandwich blog."

The last one caught me off guard so I googled it. Sure enough, if you search for "touch my sandwich blog," I am the second result. If you just search for "touch my sandwich," I am the 7th result. If you search "touch my sammich," I am still on the first page. 

Here's to you, sandwich kitteh!

(As a side note, after having typed the word "touch" so many times, it looks weird. So many words look and sound weird when repeated over and over. Example: was, of, silk and tilt)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I don't know if I posted pictures from our opulent photo-shoot in China, but I'm about to. If you'd like to see a larger collection, go here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Re-Post: Understanding Your Body

This is for the barista at Starbucks tonight who was interested in "translating cravings." Or if you weren't a follower before, go to the old post, "Food and Sanity: Understanding Your Body," with a chart explaining what supplements you need when you crave certain foods and the foods you can eat to get it.



Happy Chinese New Year!

"Different Parenting Styles" my foot!*

Are you a helicopter when it comes to your partner's parenting style, always hovering to make sure he's doing everything "right"? A much better approach is to ditch the mom vs. dad mind-set and pick up a few parenting pointers from each other.... 

That is how the tagline of an article I found yesterday started out, and it seemed promising. I advocate for teamwork parenting, so I clicked the link and read on. 

...After all, sometimes Father really does know best.

Now, I can be overly sensitive and easily read into things, but it seems to me that this sentence contradicts its predecessor. Let's review:

...ditch the mom vs. dad mind-set... 


...Father really does know best....

Translation: "Stop competing. Shut up and listen to your husband."

And that's not chauvinist. 

I'm sure that I'm taking this way too seriously, I was just perturbed by the angle of the article. 

"...let your partner discover his own parenting style. Better yet, steal these tips from the typical papa’s playbook and find ways to make them work for you." 

Sounds great, right? And it was full of pointers like, "Turn Work To Play," "Get Your Goof On," and "Pick Your Battles."

"What you may view as drudgery — diaper changing, spoon-feeding, overseeing toothbrushing — your partner may approach as playtime. "

"With all the chores that need to get done you might not feel there’s time to monkey around, but your partner is likely to fit in some foolery."

"...once in a while take a cue from your partner’s parenting style and be flexible when battles begin to bubble up."

I was not okay with the presentation of each tip. Every single one had this formula. "This is probably how you are because you are a woman. Try doing it like a man would." Nevermind the assumptions of gender roles. The whole article portrayed mommies as stressed, controlling, non-entities who don't know how to have fun, and daddies as carefree, easy-going diplomats who show children how to be independent.

As a reader, I was upset about the assumptions made about me because...

I do turn work into play, as can be attested to anyone who hears me sing the baby-scrubbing song to the tune of "Deck the Halls," or joins in our tooth-brushing parties. 

I am not the fixer, and was the one who instituted the "Good Job!" response when Emma trips or falls, because I want her to be able to stand up by herself. 

I use my grown-up words, and in fact once took my husband aside when I heard him say, "poo poo."

I'm open to risky business, as my nervous mother will tell you when Emma climbs the stairs for fun, unsupervised.

I trust my gut. You'll have to talk to Emma about that one. Let's just say that Vick's Vapor Rub, raw diced tomatoes, and the Mr Clean Magic Eraser were all good ideas. 

I get my goof on and don't you ever tell me that I don't. If you don't think I can be goofy, you've obviously had little exposure to me around my daughter and therefore should really have nothing to say on the matter.

I pick my battles. Electrical outlets, sharp/pointy things, coloring on the wall, and hitting people: these are non-negotiable. Bed-time, play-time, what she eats for lunch: these I'm very flexible on, in fact I usually ask Emma if she wants to go to bed or read a book. And she can have all the fruits and veggies she wants or doesn't want, as long as she eats enough. (The veggies thing is becoming a battle, actually. We pick our days. If we know she's hungry, we hold out and she'll eat the veggies eventually. If she's not really hungry and she eats all her fruit but not her veggies, she doesn't have to finish them, though she will probably receive the refused veggies at the next meal or snack.) 

Incidentally, Emma doesn't have tantrums often. When she does, we go into another room until she's done, and move on with our lives. Picking battles your is easier when you don't give your child ammunition. 

I do not harp on the details, at least not the frivolous ones. So Emma wants Ariel to have green hair. So she wants to eat the cheerio she just dropped on the kitchen floor. So she doesn't want to wear socks. That's fine. My floors are (reasonably) clean. As long as she's healthy and safe and warm, who cares? I usually let her pick her own outfits in the morning, or at least give her a few options. 

Yes, I do insist that she sleep with her worn-out, formerly-white stuffed kitty. Trust me, it's better that way. 

I guess the message is that, yes I am stressed, tired and often depressed at how much my life is the same every day, but I know for a fact that I am somebody, and maybe I don't have all the answers but I can take a good whack at it and still be a pretty rad mommy who knows how important the purple crayon is and how fun brushing your teeth can be. Every day I get to see a new discovery or revelation or way to extract giggles. Don't you dare pigeon-hole me a into dull, one size fits all, nothing-suit. 

Ditch the Mom vs. Dad mindset. Dare I suggest working as a team?

*Do people still say "my foot!"? It does actually mean something. I promise.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parenthood is...

...picking up your bowl of oranges to discover that each slice has one bite missing.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Parenthood is...

..not minding when you're congested because your toddler had beans at breakfast.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Different Kind of Waste

What with the start of 2012, being done with school for as long as I wish, and having way more time in general than I am accustomed to having, I am doing my best to assert my efforts full force into housekeeping and organization. Of course, I am an easily side-tracked person, which means that while I'm folding towels, I'm likely to discover a knitting needle or bag of beads sitting on the coffee table, go to put it away, and a half hour later find myself re-organizing all of my craft supplies.

This happened Tuesday, as I was dusting. I found a hair clip, started to toss it into a bathroom drawer, and realized that if I dropped the clip into the drawer I would never find it again. This started a great renovation of my bathroom drawers, which have gradually fallen into neglect over the past three months.

While cleaning those drawers, I found 7 lip glosses that I'd forgotten existed (2 of which were unopened), 4 half used sticks of deodorant, a not quite used up bottle of StriVectin, at least 3 hair styling products, 2 empty containers, 2 empty makeup bags, and a myriad of small shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion bottles that I've accumulated over the past year from holiday gifts and nice hotels.

The lip gloss was easy to take care of. I searched the house over for other lip products I leave lying around and put them all in one of the empty makeup bags. I used the other makeup bag for my nail polish, which had once been in a zip-lock bag, but had broken through the plastic and lay scattered like hurricane victims. I chose one of the deodorants to use for the time being. (To my credit on this one, my body becomes immune to whatever deodorant I am using about half-way through the stick. I have several different brands, and I alternate them.) I put the rest of them together in the back of a drawer with the StriVectin. I used one empty container to put hair accessories in, and the other for eye-shadow.

After all of that work, I was still left with the hair products, lotion, shampoo, etc, that had been sitting in my drawer since I moved into this apartment.

I was considering just putting them all in a bag and stuffing them into the bottom drawer when a little voice (creepy!) suddenly asked me,
"Why don't you use them?" 
What? Use them! But they're so little! 
But, I was saving them for when I need to pamper myself. 
"...Aaaand the last time you needed pampering, did you know where they were?" 
"Well, then."
And that was the gist of the conversation. I put all of the shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower rack. All of the lotion is sitting out on the shelf. The next day I used the Tea-Tree shampoo and conditioner and left it in so that my scalp would tingle. Today I used bamboo creme and my hair is so soft. I've been finishing my showers with eucalyptus spearmint lotion, but will probably switch to lavender tomorrow.

I guess there is a moral to the story. I had been hoarding all these products because I didn't want to waste them on the every-day showers. But instead of using them for special moments, I wasn't using them at all. That is just as wasteful as dumping it down the drain. This last week, all of my showers have been special, because I got to decide which luxurious product to use.

I think this post should be categorized under health and wellness.

I know one thing, I won't be buying lotion or lip gloss for at least a year.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Good Morning, Mommy!

Last night Emma woke up five times before 4:45, and I went to bed at midnight. When my (understanding and sensitive) husband realized that he had only woken up for one or two of those times, he told me to sleep in as long as I wanted this morning. Nice man. Very sexy.

At 10:30, I was awakened to a chipper and dressed toddler in the doorway. I stretched and (in my deep, just-woke-up voice) asked her, "Emma, come snuggle with Mommy?" She smiled and did a dance, which made me think the answer was yes. Then she ran away down the hall and I thought, Oh. No love for Mommy.

She returned with a book! Excellent. Mother-daughter storytime!

Then I saw the book.

I know that she is too young to read, but somehow, I think she was trying to tell me something.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Online Shopping Bliss

Am I a terrible mother for taking so much pleasure out of dressing my child? I wonder sometimes. I really hope that when she is older, and she looks at baby pictures she'll say, "Wow, Mom, you put me in really cute clothes!" But I also hope that I don't squelch her sense of style. We'll see how that goes.

My mom was a big influence on how I dressed up until to high school. At least she taught me not to wear clothes that were too small for me. That is something I thank her for on a regular basis, when I see full-figured women on the street who wear leggings with nothing over them, and I can see their cellulite through the fabric. Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to wear clothes that fit.

Anyway, Christmas is over, but the gift cards are still here! So last night I did a little online shopping and got Emma some pj's, some leggings (to wear under her dresses), and this hoodie:

It has a baby seal.

The best thing about shopping for toddlers is that they are toddlers, and you don't need to try clothes on to know they'll look cute in it because a baby's body is perfect.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pre-Period Paranoia

I go through this process every month.

For those who are not familiar, most oral birth control regimens (fancy talk for pills) have three weeks of effective pills, and one last week of "placebo" pills or very low dose pills to take while you're on your period. I take the first placebo on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, I make sure I have pads. On Thursday, I expect my period to start. On Friday, I start to worry. On Saturday morning, I panic. This is the process.

Every month, I look up early pregnancy symptoms and begin to scrutinize the last week and go through a checklist.

Nausea with or without vomiting?
Well...there was that one time last Saturday...when I ate that burrito...and I felt kind of nauseated...and I thought it was the burrito...but what if it WASN'T the burrito?

Tender, swollen breasts?
Not swollen, but remember yesterday when I was watching Emma instead of where I was going and I crushed my boob against the door frame? That hurt.

Increased urination?
I have been drinking much more tea than usual, but that probably has nothing to do with it.

That couldn't possibly be attributed to Emma not sleeping through the night. It's definitely pregnancy.

Food aversions or cravings?
Now that you mention it, I have been obsessed with oranges lately...

Slight bleeding or cramping?
OMGracious, yes! Not my usual awful cramps, just slight ones! And I've been spotting. And it's light in color instead of dark like a normal period! Implantation bleeding!

Mood swings?
"Honey? Have I had mood swings lately?" "...Um...not too much. I mean, not more than usual. Yes, you have." And that couldn't be a normal period symptom either.

I'm feeling dizzy just thinking about it!

Today and yesterday, definitely. Is that a normal period symptom? I think it is. Maybe. Maybe not.

Just to make this week more interesting, I have had the weirdest dreams this week, which is an unofficial symptom of pregnancy. Dreams like, all of my teeth are falling out at once and I'm upset because I'm going to need dentures and my grandmother doesn't even wear dentures. Or, I'm so angry because I missed the last day of class, so I lock myself in the bathroom and start screaming. (I actually woke everyone up the other night because of that dream. I was screaming in my sleep.) Or, most commonly, I'm looking for something, like my clothes or my room, and I'm so pissed off that someone took my clothes or moved my room that I don't even care that I'm only wearing a bra and underwear. (To give myself some credit, I don't think I have stretch marks in those dreams.)

This is how I torture myself each month. And so on the last Saturday morning of each month, I panic and wonder if it's a good time to have another kid and how would that effect Meng's career, and what would my in-laws think if I can't even keep from getting pregnant in their own home, as if that mattered somehow and everything gets blown into this big disproportionate monstrosity of emotion and THEN--

My period starts.