Bringing Up Baby – Weeks 4 & 5

Biggest Surprise: Everything Takes Three Times Longer

I keep thinking that I have added enough extra time to get everything done before I walk out the door, but I still am running late to almost everything lol. Even this blog post is taking longer than normal. It seems like there is always something unexpected that throws us off – an extra diaper change or more feeding time or an outfit change (or maybe some extra snuggles).

Biggest Challenge: Homework

I have gotten the going to class part figured out now, but I still haven’t figured out how to effectively do homework one-handed.  The good news is she is making me much more efficient. No time for perfectionist tendencies when someone wants to eat every two hours.

Best Baby Care Item: Halo Sleepsack Swaddle

I mentioned how difficult sleeping was in a previous post – luckily she has finally started going down in the bassinet at night for a few hours.  A big help with this has been these Sleepsacks.  We have lots of swaddle blankets, but our little miss is squirmy and kept getting her arms out.  These have velcro to make swaddling super simple, and it is strong enough to keep her arms in so she doesn’t wake herself up with the Moro reflex.

Best Mommy Care Item: Healthy Snacks

I thought that I was hungry all the time when I was pregnant, but that was before I knew what breastfeeding was like. Now I am really hungry all the time. And it can be challenging to eat one handed. It has been really helpful to have healthy snacks on hand that I can easily grab when I need a fix. If you are pregnant and trying to figure out how to prepare for after baby arrives, give some thought as to how you are going to feed yourself when it is just you and baby at home. I don’t want to do much more than open the fridge and grab something quick (and I love to cook normally).  My current favorite snacks are fresh blueberries and blackberries and greens whey crisp protein bars.

Favorite Memory: Miss Personality  

She has started to smile responsively now and is developing quite the little personality. I am having fun documenting it. I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves :)

The Many Faces of Baby M
The Many Faces of Baby M
Week 4
Week 4
Week 5
Week 5

Bringing Up Baby – Weeks 2 & 3

Biggest Surprise: Dreading Going Back to School

I have mentioned before that I am a bit of a workaholic. So I was not expecting to feel so not ready to go back to school after taking two weeks off. As week two went by I was dreading going back more and more.  I guess it’s because I am very proud of lots of things that I have accomplished, but I have never done anything as wonderful as making Baby M.  And the thought of leaving her was really hard – especially after she had been right there with me 24/7 for 43 weeks!  Luckily, I am happy to report that the dread was worse than the actual going back.   And I guess that is my biggest surprise for week 3.  I am very lucky that I only have to leave for a couple of hours at a time to go to class – and there are only 2 days of the week when I have more than one class a day.  This means I don’t have to deal with the same pumping challenges or being away for long stretches that full-time working moms have to deal with.  I still don’t like leaving her, but short time periods definitely make it easier.

Biggest Challenge: Will Got Sick :(

When baby girl was 10 days old, Will woke up and said, “My throat feels a little scratchy, I’m not sure if I should hold her this morning.” And unfortunately he felt worse from there. It wasn’t strep or anything – just a standard upper respiratory virus – but definitely not anything you want around a new mom or baby. Luckily, my mom was still in town and so baby girl and I moved in with mom for almost a week and quarantined Will at home with the dogs. It was the right thing to do. It allowed Will to get some rest and get well, and it kept Lil’ M and I from getting sick. But it was hard on Will to not hold his baby for a week (he said he felt guilty for sleeping and not being able to help) and it was hard on us because we missed him.

Best Baby Care Item: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

I downloaded this album from iTunes for my phone and it is one of the best baby calming tools that we have now.  She loves classical music, especially classical music with strings.  We also got a few classical CDs for her and a CD player (which was surprisingly hard to find – guess they are going the way of the tape player lol), but the Vivaldi is her favorite.  It is really handy to have it on my phone so we can play it anywhere.

Best Mommy Care Item: Coconut Oil

Nursing gets easier everyday, but sore nipples are part of life now.  I have found that coconut oil is the easiest and best relief.  I like it even better than the gel pads that you put in the fridge. It’s naturally anti-microbial and anti-fungal and all that good stuff.  And it’s safe for baby without washing before the next feeding, so need to wash or wipe it off before nursing again. Anything that can take one less step at this point is a good thing :)

Favorite Memory: Sleeping In My Arms and Hugging Me Back

I love watching her sleep in my arms – still her favorite place to sleep.  We have finally gotten her to sleep in the Mamma Roo and the swing some, but boy does she love to be held. It is fine by me though.  I could just watch her sleep and snuggle her for hours.  My favorite week three memory was the first time she hugged me back.  She had just finished eating and I put her on my shoulder to burp and instead of her normal arms flopped out she reached around and grabbed the back of my shoulder with her little right hand.  Ohhh – just made me melt :)

Other Thoughts to Share: 

Have a Post-Partum Plan

It is so important to have help in the first few weeks and it is much easier to ask for help before you need it.  We have had lots of help from family and friends – from my mom helping around the house last week and helping babysit this week while I went back to school to our friend from the gym bringing us casserole for dinner one night to my friend from school bringing me lunch to my aunt and my cousin who are coming next week for a few days to help out – and I am so grateful.  It is hard to know exactly what you will need, but it will help to give it some thought before baby arrives.  Here is a great worksheet that our doula helped us find.  I highly recommend it.

Baby Week 2
Week 2
IMG_3160
Week 3

Who Does Baby M Look Like?

Hi Friends!

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Let’s play a game :) Here are baby pics of me and Will.  Who do you think little Miss M looks like?  This poll will be open for a week.  Looking forward to hearing from you!

XOXO,

M

Baby Will
Baby Will
Baby Meredith
Baby Meredith
Lil' M
Lil’ M

Bringing Up Baby – Week 1

I mentioned in my very first post that one of my original ideas for this blog was an online baby book – so now that baby girl is here I think it is only fitting that I start posting about my sweet little one.  I have really enjoyed writing my Weekly Recipe Roundup posts, so I think I am going to try a weekly baby post.  I want this weekly post to help me capture and share memories, but I also hope it will be helpful to any new moms or moms-to-be out there who might be looking for an additional perspective to add to their bag of tricks.  So without further ado:

Bringing Up Baby Week 1

Biggest Surprise: So in Love

I knew that I would love my baby of course, but I just had no idea how much I would love her.  Will and I have both been puppy parents for a while now and we love our fur babies and feel a huge sense of responsibility for them.  But it is nothing in comparison to how we feel about Baby M.  I really can’t put it into words, but we are just completely smitten and can’t believe how perfect she is.  I can sit for hours just watching her sleep in my arms.  On my more hormonal days I just start crying because I am overcome with how much I love her.  And then I start laughing at myself for being such a baby.

Biggest Challenge: Sleeping

Baby M has the perfect temperament and sleeps great – as long as she is in someone’s arms lol.  She wants to be held all the time!  I love this, except that it makes sleeping darn near impossible.  Now that we are getting to the end of week 1, we are finally starting to have some luck with putting her in the MammaRoo and the infant car seat, but no luck at all with the bassinet yet.  The real lifesaver this first week is that my mom has come over to help me.  She comes from about 10 or 11pm to 4am and lets me sleep between feedings, and even just 4 hours a night has made a huge difference.  She also has been coming back in the afternoons and helping me from about noon until 5.  And the extra afternoon nap helps too.  Since Will is working, he wasn’t able to help with night duty until the weekend; so having mom here was huge.  This weekend we have been on our own and I think it is going reasonably well.  We’ll see how week two goes.

Best Baby Care Item: The Original Boppy Pillow
The Boppy has been a great tool and not just for nursing. It is great for dad too and helps prevent tight shoulders when we are spending so much time holding little M. To be honest, the Boppy was a little bit hard to use for nursing the first couple of days and actually got in the way. But after we started getting the hang of our best positions it has been great. And like I said, it has been great for everyone’s comfort during normal holding while sitting.

Best Mommy Care Item: Warm Buddy Warming Blanket
This was actually a surprise. My mother-in-law had given me this warming blanket as a gift a couple of years ago but I had only needed it once or twice before. However, when we got home from the hospital I was so surprised how sore my arms and shoulders were and I was looking for something to help. This has been awesome. It’s not as big as a full size blanket so it is easy to maneuver into different shapes. And you just pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes to heat it up so there are no cords to worry about like with a heating pad. It has been great for sore muscles, but it was also really helpful when my milk first came in and I could use it to heat up my chest so I could pump when lil M wasn’t quite keeping up with production yet.

Favorite Memory: Baby Faces

She makes all kinds of funny faces already!  Will says it looks like she is taking her face for a test drive – trying out all kinds of looks.  I wish I could get pictures of all of them. Even her little scowls are the most precious thing ever!

Other Thoughts to Share: 

Breastfeeding
There have been many tough decisions to make since we found out that we were becoming parents, but breastfeeding has not been one of them. From the moment I found out we were pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. The actual execution of breastfeeding, however, has been a little more challenging. And this is after having read books and websites and articles in order to prepare. It is going well now, but the first couple of days were tough. Our biggest challenge was with positioning. To be totally honest, I had to sort of forget everything that I had read and that the lactation consultants had told me. When I was trying to “get it right” it was frustrating for both of us. When I finally let go and just tried to do what felt natural to me, she got the latch and everything else fell into place. Then we could go back and correct the positioning and worry about making my neck and wrist and all of that more comfortable. But what really helped us turn the corner was me letting go of doing it right and just doing what felt good for us.

Introducing the Dogs
We took the dogs to the kennel for a few days of boarding the day I went into labor. We had thought that we would pick them up the day we left the hospital, but we ended up waiting one more night and I think that was a really great decision. The first night at home with baby is a big enough change on its own without adding in extra variables. If there is enough interest I will do a whole post about how we introduced the dogs to baby girl. Just let me know in the comments.

Taking Care of You
Try to do one little thing every day to just take care of you. I never imagined that taking a hot shower and getting to shave my legs would be such a treat lol, but just that one little thing can make such a big difference! Other little treats I indulged in this week: drafting this blog post (I was missing getting to write), posting an announcement to Facebook, and meditating. Maybe next week I will get to bake something 😊

Week 1 with Baby M

She’s here!

Hello my lovely readers!

This is going to be a quick post but I wanted to share my wonderful news that baby girl arrived on Saturday evening, January 31 at 5:27pm, 7 lbs 7 oz.  We were in labor for 38 hours so I am still a little tired (ok a lot tired), but very happy and feeling blessed.  We came home from the hospital Monday evening, last night we picked up the fur babies from the kennel, and we are slowly adjusting to our new family life. Needless to say, Will and I are just head over heels in love with our little bundle of joy.  It will be a few weeks before I am posting recipe round-ups again, but I am hoping that I will have time for a few new post ideas that I have in mind 😉 Thank you all for your good wishes and support!!

XOXO, M

Welcome Home Baby M
Welcome Home Baby M

Redecorating on a Budget

I want to share with you the results of one of my little pre-baby arrival projects.  And thanks to HomeGoods it cost less than $30!

Bathroom BeforeBathroom After

Really, it was just a matter of replacing the shower curtain, but what a difference!  The room looks like an entirely new place with a curtain that actually matches the tile.  The new curtain was $14.99.  And the new shower hooks and vinyl liner were less than $6 each.

Tile and Curtain

I am adding a new category with this post.  Disclaimer:  I really know very little about Feng Shui, but I wanted an F word that could indicate household projects or decorating.  So don’t come here looking for legit Feng Shui advice and you won’t be disappointed lol.

Weekly Recipe Roundup – Week of January 25, 2015

I have a bunch of new recipes for you this week.  Some of them aren’t as quick and easy as the ones I have been making in the past few weeks, but I think they were worth the extra effort.  Only problem is no baby yet!  I thought surely after spending a marathon 7 hours in the kitchen on Sunday evening that little girl would want to get here – but I guess she is still feeling comfy in there… I have to admit though, I’m hoping this will be the last weekly roundup post for a couple of weeks.  Let’s hope she comes tomorrow :)

Vegan Cauliflower “Risotto”

Vegan Cauliflower "Risotto"

Recipe fromforkandbeans.com

What we changed:  We were a little more generous with the spinach. We left out the pine nuts because even though we love pine nuts, they are just so darn expensive and didn’t seem worth the extra money this week.

My thoughts on the recipe:  I really like this recipe as a starch substitute.  It made a great side dish throughout the week (you’ll see it in some of the other pics below).  But I don’t think it has quite enough flavor to stand up on its own as an entree which is why I am rating it an 8.  As a low-carb accompaniment it hits the spot, so I’m sure will be seen on our table again in the future.

Overall rating: 8/10

Balsamic Pork Chops

Balsamic Pork Chops

Recipe frommyrecipes.com

What we changed:  I really just used this recipe for inspiration but didn’t follow it very closely.  I didn’t make the rice.  I only was making 2 pork chops so I guessed at most of the measurements in the recipe.  I also used vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.

My thoughts on the recipe:  These made pretty darn tasty pork chops.  We served them with the cauliflower “risotto” and also sautéed some mushrooms in the pan after cooking the pork chops.

Overall rating: 9/10

Vegan Morning Glory Muffins

Vegan Morning Glory Muffins

Recipe fromfood52.com

What we changed:  We used 1 cup of all-purpose flour and the remainder whole wheat flour.  We used coconut sugar instead of regular organic sugar.  We used almond milk (instead of soy) and ground ginger (instead of fresh grated).

My thoughts on the recipe: OMG ya’ll.  These were absolutely amazing!  The recipe made 18 muffins for us and we have been eating them all week long.  They make an excellent breakfast accompaniment (as with the scrambled eggs) or they are really delicious on their own – especially popped in the microwave for a few seconds and then topped with a bit of coconut spread.  I wasn’t sure how vegan baking would be since I am so used to using eggs when I bake, but the date paste in these muffins worked wonders.  They were so moist – even as leftovers after a few days they stayed moist.  I highly recommend trying this recipe.  And with the carrots and apple and flax you can feel good about eating them too!

Overall rating: 10/10

Mango Smoothie

Mango Smoothie

Recipe fromfoodiecrush.com

What we changed: The first time I made this smoothie I followed the recipe exactly and it was ok, but the second time I made it I changed it up a bit and really liked it.  I can’t tell you exact measurements for the second time I made it because I didn’t measure, but I can tell you that I left out the vanilla and the honey the second time.  I used a little less coconut but was more generous with the chia seeds.  I also used two bananas instead of 1 and no ice.  But I did use frozen mango (a 10 oz package).  Oh, and plain greek yogurt – none of this honey or vanilla flavored stuff.

My thoughts on the recipe: This is a really nice, creamy treat that makes a good to-go breakfast.  The yogurt provides enough protein to make it last and I really thought it was better with just the natural sweetness of the banana and no honey or yogurt flavoring added.

Overall rating: 9/10

Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Sandwich

Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Sandwich

Recipe from: thefairtable.com

What we changed:  We used Great Northern Beans instead of Cannellini Beans because they happened to be less expensive the day we were shopping.

My thoughts on the recipe:  I usually don’t go with more than one 10/10 in a week, but man this sandwich was delicious.  The recipe says to serve hot, but we were both having lunches to go.  So I toasted the bread under the broiler in the morning when I made them, but didn’t end up eating my sandwich hot – it was still really yummy.  The bean paste is easy to make and makes enough for several sandwiches.  We still have a little leftover that we will probably have with crackers and carrot sticks one afternoon as a snack.  We made the bean paste on Sunday night and then didn’t use it until Tuesday morning to make the sandwiches so making ahead is a definite option for this one.

Overall rating: 10/10

Fig and Gorgonzola Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Fig and Gorgonzola Pork Tenderloin

Recipe fromhowsweeteats.com

What we changed:  We used whisky instead of bourbon because that is what we had on hand.

My thoughts on the recipe: The recipe doesn’t specify what size of pork tenderloin to  get.  I don’t think ours was big enough.  Neither of us had ever tried stuffing a pork tenderloin before so I’m sure there is some sort of a learning curve, but I think slightly more pork would have helped and been a little less frustrating for us (you can see the mess we made in the pics above).  Taste-wise, it turned out ok.  I think that the sage was a little overwhelming and I think if we make this again I would like to change the brand of gorgonzola we used – but that’s not the fault of the recipe.  Overall this was a fun experiment, but not something I want to do regularly.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

Deep Dish Spinach and Prosciutto Quiche

Spinach and Prosciutto Quiche

Recipe from: halfbakedharvest.com

What we changed: I went with the buttermilk option rather than water.  I already had some sun-dried tomatoes that were not packed in oil so I chopped them and used them instead of buying oil-packed ones.  I used frozen spinach instead of fresh.

My thoughts on the recipe:  This was my first attempt at a real quiche and I have to admit, it turned out better than I expected.  I was a little worried about making the crust from scratch, but her instructions are really good and it ended up being really yummy.  I think the crust would actually make a really good crust for a Chicago-style pizza too – might have to try that at some point in the future.  I would like to try this recipe again with fresh spinach and a better work surface (I couldn’t roll the crust out as large as I would have liked to).  This made a great dinner served with roasted veggies.  It also reheated perfectly for a great breakfast.

Overall rating: 9/10

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