LC’s Birth Story, Part I

August 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Posted in Family, Life | Leave a comment
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I was very very very lucky to have had a relatively easy pregnancy.  Aside from slipping on a patch of ice and falling and hitting my head around week 27,the worst thing that happened was the development of varicose veins in my right leg around week 30.  At the time I was pretty upset, I think because I tended to anticipate the worst happening, but their appearance was one thing I never expected because I had no family history and no risk factors other than being on my feet at school.  I wore compression stockings around the clock for the last 10 weeks…not so fun in 80-90 degree weather.  It’s petty to complain about, though, given what many other women go through.

All that to say, I had a totally normal pregnancy and anticipated a normal delivery.  LC was due on March 17, a Thursday, and that week I was on spring break.  My youngest sister, Leah, was also on spring break from her college and had flown out to Texas to spend her vacation with us.  We were all hoping that LC would come early, so that Leah could meet her niece, and so that I would have some extra time at home with the baby.  I was only going to be able to take six weeks of leave, and the clock started ticking on Monday the 21st.  Our other sister, Lauren, had her son less than two weeks earlier, and he came a day early, so I was hopeful that LC would be early as well.  I didn’t explicitly talk to my belly all throughout my pregnancy, but now I told my baby that she wasn’t allowed to be more than three days late.

I spent the week walking, walking, walking, but on Thursday the 17th, her due date, there was no sign of her coming.  I had a doctor’s appointment first thing that morning, and I was dismayed to learn that I had made NO progress. Not dilated, not effaced.  The baby had dropped some, but was probably still at least at +1 station. My doctor was encouraging; she reminded me that everything could change very quickly, BUT they were only giving me until Monday before an induction.  I left the office discouraged: I hadn’t made a birth plan, but I had wanted to avoid an induction or C-section and suddenly more than ever I wanted to know what it felt like to go into labor on my own, and now I was sure I wasn’t going to have that chance.  Leah and I went to Corner Bakery and I drowned my sorrows in maple syrup and French toast.

Friday came and went, and this is the part where I wish I had written this sooner, because I can’t even remember what we did that day, but I’m sure it involved complaining about 1) being hot 2) wearing compression hose while it was so dang hot and 3) STILL being pregnant.  On Saturday I got up early and made individual spinach lasagnas to freeze so that we’d have something easy to eat on one of those first nights home from the hospital.  It was Leah’s last day with us; her flight was scheduled for Sunday morning.

After dinner Saturday we went to the Chamizal, a park near the Mexican border.  Leah ran, while the Hubs, Duncan and I walked.  I noticed the full moon and remarked that I thought full moons were supposed to induce labor.  How annoying that after all my walking AND a full moon, I still felt totally normal.  W and I lay in bed that night talking.  We decided that after we took Leah to the airport we’d run over to Michael’s and Babies R Us to get a couple of last minute things for LC’s room.  I felt glad that at least her late arrival meant that I could tie up some loose ends on my to-do list. And with that decided, I went to sleep.

To be continued…

Surprise! I wasn't pregnant forever, after all!

Mag Review: Cooking Light

August 26, 2011 at 5:19 am | Posted in Deliciousness, Things I think | Leave a comment
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Up until recently, I never got the whole “lite cooking” phenomenon. I thought, if you’re going to make or eat something delicious you might as well go all the way–full fat, full everything. And then, in October 2008 we got married, and I very quickly gained the Newlywed 9 (or 10, or 11). I wasn’t overweight, per se, but my clothes barely fit.  I was miserable at my sister’s wedding, where my bridesmaid dress, ordered months before, barely zipped.  Near the end of June 2009, my husband and I bit the bullet and signed up with a personal trainer at our local Bally’s.  It sounds cliche, but our trainer, Tina, really changed the way we approached fitness.  For someone who loves food as much I do, it was not easy to hear that a big part of what we’d be working on was changing our eating habits.

For 3 or 4 months, I kept a daily food journal.  My goal was supposed to be somewhere between 1300-1500 calories daily, based on my personal needs.  I had never counted calories before, and it wasn’t easy.  The number of chain restaurants who don’t publish nutritional information is frustrating, and for those that do, actually seeing that information is mind-blowing!

Enter Cooking Light magazine.  I knew I had to change the way I cooked if I wanted to be continued to be motivated to eat healthy.  One night at Borders (RIP), I happened to pick up a copy of Cooking Light.  The cover featured pizza (my all-time favorite, next to pancakes!) and the issue highlighted comfort foods made healthier.  I was hooked.

There are several features that I really like.  The first is Super Fast–meals that can be made in 20 minutes. And the best part is that they really CAN be made that fast (I’m looking at you, Rachael Ray). *EDIT* I started this post awhile ago, and, having cooked my way through many issues since, can say that this is not always true.  Many of the 20 minute meals call for prechopped ingredients, which are either hard to find or are much more expensive, and at least for my wallet, not an option.

There’s also a Dinner Tonight section that offers weeknight meals that can be made in 30 or 40 minutes, for nights when I feel like putting forth a little more effort :) My one gripe with this section is that while recipes for an entree and a side dish are provided, only the nutritional information for the entree is provided.  So if the chicken is 370 calories, I want to know what the potatoes are going to cost me too! *EDIT* I must not have been the only one with this complaint.  Happily, this feature has been updated to also list the nutritional info for the sides.

This magazine is definitely geared toward women, with a fitness/beauty section that sometimes feels a little out of place (an article about highlights, really?), but I do enjoy perusing the food-related shopping feature for gift ideas (for others and myself).  This year they’ve been featuring a different healthy habit each month and educating their readers about ways to incorporate that idea into their lifestyle.  For example, eating more (sustainable) fish, or going veggie once a week.  It’s a nice reminder not to focus on just one thing (counting calories or eating lots of fiber), and that being healthy is multi-faceted.  Mark Bittman also has a column focused on using less meat, which I always look forward to.

It’s now been two years since I first began cooking from this magazine, and I still look forward to each issue’s arrival in my mailbox.   I’m no longer strictly counting calories, but I am trying to eat mindfully.  Every month, I can always find at least a handful of recipes that I’m inspired to make.  While I frequently try new recipes, many of my standbys and favorites are CL recipes.  I’ve got my mom and sister on the CL bandwagon as well, which is fun. It’s nice to compare which things they’ve tried vs which things I’ve tried, and we enjoy sharing any tweaks we’ve made. In two years, there have been repeats: I’ve sometimes wondered how many versions of pizza margherita they can publish, and recently in two back-to-back issues they featured a veggie pizza that was almost identical save for a couple of small changes.  Overall, though, I’m still finding many new recipes and ideas to try and enjoy.  Cooking Light has saved me many times from just ordering a pizza or falling back into my old ways of just cooking anything and not thinking about how nutritional it is.  As long as they continue to innovate, they can count me as a friend and subscriber.

The Nursery

August 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Family, Home | Leave a comment
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Nursery

Nursery by sweetandtart on Polyvore.com

Walmart.com: Dorel – Rocker Slipcover, Chocolate: Nursery
$129 - walmart.com

Is it wrong to say that one of the best parts of having a baby is getting to design and decorate the nursery?  Okay, maybe not the BEST part, but definitely a GOOD part.  LC’s nursery had to also function as a guest bedroom.  We already had a simple, low profile full-size bed and a small IKEA dresser in the room, so we mostly just needed to make room for a crib and some sort of chair.  The other issue is that our house is a rental and her room has a high vaulted ceiling and textured walls. So that meant that painting was out and the walls would stay cream/off-white.

It is so easy to spend money on baby gear, baby clothes, baby furniture, baby anything-you-name-it.  I mean, it’s for your CHILD after all.  How can you deny the best for your baby?  But alas, we had other financial priorities, so the name of the game was “Let’s Not Spend More Than We Have To.” And, I think we did a pretty good job.  Her room is not as “done” as most (any?) of the nurseries you’d see on, say, Ohdeedoh, but I love it and it’s my favorite room in the house.  The board I put together below represents most of the major pieces in the room. I did not include the guest bed and dresser.  IKEA no longer sells the dresser; I’ve had it since high school, and it’s just long enough for a changing pad.

A few things to note:

  • The crib we went with is the Graco Lauren in Espresso.  Inexpensive, sturdy, converts to a toddler bed. Sold.
  • I really really really really wanted a very nice rocker from The Land of Nod.  Sadly, could not justify the price.  Actually, mostly could not justify paying almost $200 for shipping. I looked everywhere for something I loved almost as much and did not find it.  So we ended up with this rocker from Walmart, of all places, and, it’s pretty good.  For the next baby, maybe we’ll live somewhere that is not the middle of nowhere and shipping costs will be more reasonable on a nicer rocker.  For now this works, and I’m glad we got it; I use it quite often.
  • Perhaps you will soon notice that I love The Land of Nod!  I did splurge on crib bedding (Creatures Great and Small). I love that it’s gender-neutral enough to use if the next baby is a boy.
  • We used our registry discount to get this wall-mounted bookshelf (so genius and I couldn’t find anything similar elsewhere) since we have many books and no floorspace for a regular bookshelf. [Note: like our crib bedding, it seems the price has gone up a bit since we ordered earlier in the year. Bummer!]
  • For her hamper, we went with this canvas baby…inexpensive, easy to tote to the laundry room.
  • I really wanted a piece of custom wall art, and what I have in my collage is NOT what we got.  I ordered this print from Etsy seller khamm75 and I love it! She was fabulous to work with.
  • I also picked up a zinc letter “L” from Anthro…I ended up not hanging it up though, so it’s hanging out on the nightstand with the lamp and some books.
  • Finally, my dad is a terrific artist and he is painting a series of 3 8×8 paintings to go above her crib (in progress).
I don’t have any official pictures of the nursery at the moment, but I’ll do a follow-up post soon!  My favorite parts of the nursery are the crib bedding and the custom print.
What’s your favorite part of your child’s nursery? Or what’s the best nursery-related item you’ve seen?

Cinnamon Oat Pancakes

August 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Posted in Deliciousness | Leave a comment

Pancakes are probably most definitely my favorite food.  I love them plain, smothered in butter and syrup, reheated with a smear of butter and a spoonful of sugar and folded over like a pancake-taco.  Favorite variations include blueberry (with berries in the cakes, none of that gloppy compote on top), chocolate chip, pumpkin, and gingerbread.

On the weekends, I usually make blueberry or chocolate chip, but last week I decided to make breakfast for dinner and wanted something a little different.  I came across this recipe from Martha Stewart, which was a definite winner.  The oatmeal in the batter makes them seem healthier than your average pancake, although I haven’t done a nutritional analysis to compare.  I stayed pretty close to the original recipe as I usually do when making something for the first time, with the exception of adding in a capful of vanilla. I’m unsure of whether I’d use any whole wheat flour the next time I make them (and there WILL be a next time); I worry that they might lose their light quality and become a little too leaden.  We shall see!

This sweet-tooth queen liked that the pancakes weren’t super-sweet, and they were delicious with butter (Brummel and Brown in our case) and honest-to-goodness maple syrup, but ALSO: loved them as a snack the next day heated in the toaster, spread with a bit of butter and jam. Love!!

My tips for making pancakes that turn out well:

  • I know a lot of people like cast iron, but I’ve come to favor my 12-inch All-Clad skillet.
  • Start with a hot pan, but not too hot.  I usually heat mine on med-med high and turn it down after the first batch or two.
  • Don’t overcrowd! In my 12-inch skillet, I can do three at a time comfortably.  Have patience–a batch goes fairly quickly.
  • A scant 1/4 cup of batter makes a good sized pancake in my book.  You don’t want the pancakes to be so large that they cook unevenly.
  • A flexible turner is key…I usually use this one by OXO.
  • I keep my pancakes warm in a 200-degree oven as I go.

Here’s how they turned out! (I’ll spare you the process shots, I’m sure you know how to measure and mix a batter).

Can't wait to make these again!

Meet LC!

August 19, 2011 at 9:26 am | Posted in Family | Leave a comment
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The last year has been more than busy…between March 2010-March 2011 we: moved across the country, adopted Duncan, I got pregnant, I got a new job, W got deployed, and then he came back and we had a baby!  There have been some rough, emotional patches for sure, but overall life has been sweet.  Our baby LC has been the biggest blessing, of course.  Her entry into the world was a bit traumatic so that will get a separate post, but after we finally got to bring her home, she has just been such a sweet, funny, easygoing baby. As cliche as it may sound, we’re really lucky to have her.  It’s been really fun to see her personality develop, especially over the last month or so.  It’s hard to believe she’ll be five months old tomorrow!  I will have lots more to say about her in this space, but for now, meet the one and only LC:

Sweet baby at 4 months

Back in the saddle!

August 16, 2011 at 7:42 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The last year has been a whirlwind! Since this time last year, I got pregnant, got a job, had a baby, quit my job, and just embarked on a new for-now career as a stay-at-home mom. I’m looking forward to writing again…lots to say about life these days!

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