The baby weight goes bye-bye. Now what?

Well, Russ is four months old and – sooner than I’d ever expected, to be honest – I am officially back to my pre-pregnancy weight. When I got pregnant, I very quickly realized that I did not give a CRAP if I gained 20 pounds or 50, so long as my baby was healthy and well. I had always expected that a lot of vanity would fly out the window when and if I became pregnant, and that part didn’t really surprise me. But what I didn’t expect is the complete and total body joy that I developed during the process of growing my little guy. Yes, you read that correctly – body joy. I was just so amazed and so appreciative to this shell that carries my soul through life, for the things that she did, for carrying my son and birthing him…there isn’t going to be any more of that hateful self-talk that I was guilty of back in my teens and early 20s. Nope…done with that. This body of mine is amazing – cellulite and all.

So after Russ was born, I merely made it my goal to get back to some semblance of my former self. I knew that there would be some things that would probably never go back to the way they were before. I knew that the stretch marks would fade, but never fully disappear. All of that was and is just fine with me! But I honestly thought it would take me closer to a year to really drop the baby weight, yet here I am at four months post-partum. So now that I’m back at point A, where do we go from here? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my #1 goal through all of this is health and wellness. I do not ever want my kids (sons OR daughters) to develop the neuroses that I did about weight and the body image problems I had to deal with earlier on in my 20s. The best way to keep that from happening is to lead by example. As they grow up, my kids will see me hoisting everything from weights to grocery bags to grandchildren. As they grow, they’ll ride shotgun in the jogging stroller as we blaze our way through Cleveland Park, the nature preserve near the lakehouse, and just the streets around our house. They’ll see me eat a normal and healthy diet, and they’ll most defintely learn their way around the kitchen from their dear ol’ mom. I’m so excited to give them that start – to help them become their own people and to help them establish a habit of just living well. That’s really all that matters to me. Whether I do that at a size 4, a size 8 (what I am now), or a size 14 is really immaterial to me. I’ve known tiny size 0 women who were nothing but flab and couldn’t run a mile if their lives depended on it, and I’ve known voluptous size 14 girls who rocked spin classes and 5ks, and who had amazing, muscular curves for miles. Size has very little bearing on fitness.

But suffice it to say, I am very happy where I am. So now what?

For starters, I’m excited to get back into hiking. When the weather starts to get milder around March, Jonathan and I are looking forward to getting started again with that, as it’s something we both enjoyed quite a bit before I got pregnant. I actually hiked Table Rock with my friend Jen just a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant (it’s a 7-something mile trail that basically climbs stairs and steep inclines for the first 3.5 miles). We’ll start off with some steep but shorter trails like the Jones Gap State Park Rainbow Falls trail, and then progress from there. I’ve got a huge backlog of pumped milk in the freezer for Russ, so he’ll get to have playtime with “G-Ma and G-Pa” at their house while we’re off hiking. And eventually, we’ll take Russ hiking with us, but that’s a ways off. We’re considering investing in a back carrier, but we’ll see.

The other things I want to pick up are most weights workouts and bootcamp classes. I’ve been watching the bootcamp classes at the gym for a year or so now, but have never tried one. I’m intrigued and looking forward to the new challenge. And I’m going to start meeting up with a few of the other moms at the gym to do legs on Sunday afternoons, and I am adding at least one other weights workout each week to go along with that. It should be exciting! So that’s what’s going on with that. But like I say, the goal here is not a size or a scale reading. It was never about that. I just want to feel strong and be strong – and I’d say I’m already there, but why stop now? Until the next baby comes along, anyway…hehe…

HALLELUJAH!!!

Small victories.

Russ just went to sleep in his crib. No, really – IN his crib. He was not rocked to sleep in advance. He was not fed to sleep (though technically, I did feed him just before putting him down for his nappy-poo, but he woke up as I started moving him upstairs). He cried for several minutes, but I was able to just give him 5-10 minute intervals to “cry it out” a bit before I went in and reassured him that I was there. And anyway, I was in the next room over reorganizing the linen closet, so it wasn’t like he couldn’t hear me. Probably my only real concern was that he tends to get really “floppy” when he’s in the crib and it isn’t unusual for me to leave him on his back and come back to find him sideways or completely turned in the other direction, on his stomach, with one leg through the side of the crib, trying to munch on his glowy seahorse named Bubbles. So I was sort of surprised that I didn’t actually have to reposition him this time! Perhaps this crib thing could happen.

It sounds silly to a lot of folks, but there have been darn near panic attacks for me when I think about Russ sleeping in his crib at night. Since he was born, he has never not slept in the room with us, and usually in his bassinet or Pack n’ Play pulled right up next to my side of the bed. There is something very comforting about being able to look up in two quick seconds, see that he’s okay (and in those first nerve-wracking weeks, check multiple times per night to ensure that he was still breathing…yeah, I’m a total newb), and plop your tired self back down on the bed. But I know it can’t stay that way. This just goes back to that “can’t stop time” issue that I tend to fall into. I’ve learned that the best thing for me to do in matters of my own resistance is to use my own willpower to try and push progress along. Nobody else can do that for me, so this is my baby-steps effort at learning to let Russ sleep in his crib. So far, he’s been asleep for about 30-40 minutes and I am sitting here drinking some hot tea, blogging, and about to start some laundry. No nerves about it, I am happy (and relieved) to report.

The only bad thing about this small but meaningful event in our journey as mommy and baby is that now Rocky the dog is a wee bit freaked out. So freaked out, in fact, that she has curled up next to the dryer and will not move. I guess it’s always going to be something.

Look at what I’m missing!

And here I was, believing that my life was about as fulfilled as I could ever dream for it to be – and, apparently in error, looking forward to the future with my little bundle of joy in tow. Have I perhaps missed something? Bayer seems to think so, or what else can I conclude from their absolutely ridiculous new commercial for the Yaz-in-sheep’s-clothing birth control pill that they have not-so-effectively tried to disguise with a ridiculous new name: Beyaz. Oh, yeah, cause that’s totally different sounding.

Yaz was a one-time best-selling birth control pill that even I, the patron saint of birth control hatred, tried at one point in time. Ironically enough, the very symptoms that Yaz claimed to tame (irritability, moodiness, and bloating among the most often mentioned in Bayer’s ridiculous ad campaigns for the drug) were actually the ones most magnified for me while taking Yaz. Not to mention, it took me several YEARS after being on Yaz to get a period again. Cause that’s like, so totally normal, riiiiiiiiiiiight? Well it turns out that, whilst airing said inane advertisements touting all of Yaz’s wonderful features, Bayer left out the problems that they actually already knew the drug was causing. Problems like blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, gallbladder problems – and, as is the case with all birth control pills, even the rare occurrence of insulin resistance in some users. But what are the odds? Well, good enough. Now Bayer is facing thousands of lawsuits over serious injuries and deaths of women taking Yaz. And, lo and behold, Beyaz is suddenly on the market.

Who knows if Beyaz will prove to be as magnificent a screw up as Yaz was, but I’m going to venture a guess that the apple won’t fall far from the tree on this one, either.

What really irks me about birth control is the insanity in the advertising. I guess I’m leaving a pretty big opening here, but do pharmaceutical companies think women are stupid? Why else would they market birth control in such a way as Beyaz has recently been? In the new commercials for Beyaz, women are seen “shopping” in a boutique-ish store for a certain “lifestyle” or life event. One woman is seen casually browsing through homes, before she comes upon the certain one (complete with a “Thank you, Mr. Obvious” tag that reads “Buy a house!”) and heading for the registers. I think this is especially important, as women clearly do not have the ability to purchase a home if they get knocked up. Fuggedaboutit. Another woman decides to pick out a trip to Paris – because, clearly one cannot go to Paris if they are pregnant. I mean, hello, they don’t even feed most women in Paris, right?! Who ever heard of such a thing? Another woman is seen looking lustfully at the “Picnic by a Waterfall” display – something that strikes me as absolutely huge because we all know that preggos can’t picnic by waterfalls. Imagine my shock, because of all the things I didn’t do while pregnant, I actually did picnic by a waterfall once. I know, I’m such a rule breaker.

Edit: I also want to add, to quote a friend of mine, that the way the woman shakes off the advances of the stork “makes me want to impale her with that Eiffel Tower she’s strapped to the top of her car.” Not because we resent her for not wanting a child at this point in time (or ever, for that matter). It’s just that this commercial is filled with the same propogandizing crap that pharmaceutical companies have been pulling out since the freakin’ 1960s. It’s more of that self-righteous idea that a modern woman can’t be a mom, or that we lose all of our selves when we become mothers. That’s so archaic.

The truth of the matter? Yes, you do lose some of your former self when you have a child. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the girl I was is a ghost now, wandering around the parking lot at Greenville Memorial Hospital, and sometimes when I drive by there, I literally tremble a little at the realization that she is GONE. I do not miss that girl. I do not pine for that girl. I just have so much amazement at the transformation that took place in the space of about 18 hours of my lifetime. Simple. As. That.

But seriously, Bayer?

Seriously? Really? Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME with this? How about you just save on your advertisement budget and let me type up a short press release for you:

“We here at Bayer realize that our product, which we knowingly mismarketed to draw attention away from its potentially hazardous or even deadly side effects, isn’t appropriate for use by a significant portion of the female population. But we don’t owe all of you plebian fools any explanation at all, because – as evidenced in the above video – we know you’re going to buy this pitiful attempt on the part of our marketing department to excuse our corporate irresponsibility and shortsightedness as a lack of perspective on your part. Please forward all questions to the rhinoceros.”

At least I’m not the only person who has noticed how ridiculous the commercials have been and continue to be. Here are a few of my favorite parodies.

"Down with the Sickness!"

I suppose it’s what I get for haughtily rolling my eyes at Jonathan last weekend as he struggled through another sinus infection. Even the folks that come up with those funny little Dayquil/Nyquil commercials have zeroed in on that phenomenon known affectionately as “The Man Cold.” Let’s face it, men just aggravate a lot of us women when they’re sick. Jonathan is already pretty big on naps – I’ve known this since we were still in college. We’d go home from class and curl up in the extremely tiny room at the house he was renting along with two friends (seriously, the room had to be about 7 ft x 7 ft…MINISCULE), turn on the fan, and just snooze for a glorious hour or so until we either had another class to attend, homework to do, or wanted to go to the gym together. Best sleep ever. But now, things are different. Russ hardly naps during the day, and almost never on a schedule that allows both of us to take a nap alongside him. This means that one of us has to stay up with him – and guess who that is, 99% of the time? Uh, yeah.

I guess fair is fair, and Jonathan is the one who goes to work 40+ hours a week, so I get it that when he’s sick on the weekend, a little extra rest is his prerogative. What I didn’t anticipate last week as I scoffed under my breath and thought to myself “Well, sheesh, my duties with Russ don’t stop when I’m tired and want a nappy poo!!” was that I would very soon be in Jonathan’s shoes. That’s right. The incubus I’m married to passed along the most aggravating and uncomfortable sinus infection ever. To me. Ahhhh, marriage.

I now have probably the worst sore throat I’ve had in several years, sinus drainage that forces me to hawk up gunk and sound really, really unattractive, and this weak, squeaky voice that comes out sounding more like a gargle and less like actual enunciation. It’s pretty lovely. Probably my worst fear, though, is that Russ will get it. Clearly it is contagious, and I can deal with me or Jonathan being sick – I just want my little boy to remain healthy, happy, and smiling.

So that’s what’s going on there. And since I can’t take most sinus meds because they contain ingredients to dry up mucous that can similarly impact a nursing mother’s milk supply, I’ll be using hot decaf tea, coffee, and gargling warm salt water in the meantime to try and get my throat to function halfway. I just hope my immune system can pull out the big guns and blast this crud outta there soon.

In other news, my best friend had her baby this week and boy, is he a cutiiiiiiiie!! His name is Jackson Wyatt King (“Jack”) and he arrived Tuesday morning around 11:15 am. My friend, Jessica (affectionately known as “Jeshca,” though I don’t even remember how she came to be called that by so many of her pals) already had a little boy, Caden, who was born in early 2009. Back in the day, Jessica and I were beach buddies, club dancing divas, high school besties with lockers right beside each other our senior year, and even roomates the last year before she got married to her husband Clay. At the time that they got married, Jessi and Clay had been either talking, dating, or complicatedly “on a break” (those never lasted long) for about seven years. And now, here we both are, living our dreams.

Actually, that was a realization I had that I posted on one of her Facebook photos of the new baby. I said “Do you remember when we were younger and talked about our dreams for the future? Look – they all came true!” As each year passes and we watch our 20s slowly dissipate into a cloud of memories and learning experiences (and look back on our teens with a mixture of amusement, bewilderment, and embarassment), a variety of things chance. We change as women, as mothers and wives, but we also seem to have grown a more mature appreciation for each other. There were times in both our lives where Jessica and I can both admit that we’ve had a “love-hate” relationship. Women’s friendships are nothing if not complicated, after all, and any friendship worth having needs to have a certain healthy amount of complexity. But these days, I really love that she and I have found a grown-up level of respect and appreciation for one another. We do not have to have matching shoes anymore, or matching opinions. We stand on our own and cheer one another on through many of life’s beautiful and amazing experience – foremost among those, the births of our children. I’m just so happy that she and I are still such good friends to this day – the kinds that can go weeks without talking because we’re just so busy, but then pick right back up like we saw each other just yesterday. And now we have the wonderful experience of watching all those daydreams we bonded over back when she and Clay were dating and I was looking for “The One” as they materialize into real life experiences. They aren’t dreams anymore, and we aren’t teenage girls anymore, but boy is life better than we ever thought it would be. Seeing her with not one, but TWO babies makes me think “Wow…we’re really adults now, aren’t we?” It’s a little crazy!

So, even though this week yielded a snotty-nosed and sore-throated me, it also yielded some big blessings for a pal. Always gotta look on the bright side! Now, off to brew some more decaf tea. I’ll beat this crud yet!

Complicate the issue much?

It has come to my attention in the past 12 months of pregnancy and new mommyhood that one of two things simply has to be the case: Either I oversimplify the daily minutae of parenthood and childcare, or a good many other folks just overcomplicate it. Given that this is my blog and all, I’m going to go with theory #2. In truth, however, it’s probably the fact that every child is different. But for the sake of this blog, we’re going to stick with theory #2, if for no other reason than for me to pontificate for awhile.

I guess I just don’t understand why I can’t just use the types of diapers I use, or the feeding methods that work for me and Russ both, or the schedule (or lack thereof) that works for our family without someone effectively telling me why or how I am doing it wrong. I mean, nobody has ever outright said “Yer doin’ it wrahng!!” to me. But like any new mom (heck, any mom…PERIOD) out there, I can only take so much of the insidious “Oh, we don’t do that because ____” (insert irrelevant-to-me-or-my-child reasoning that I didn’t ask for) or “Well see, what you really need to get/do/say/feed him/give him is ______” (insert method/food/etc. that has been factually or medically disproven since before the first Bush administration). No matter how patient you are, that kind of thing does get old after awhile. And please don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m this haughty, I-Know-EVERYTHING kind of person. It’s just that I’m still feeling my way through this motherhood thing, and the last thing I’m going to do is something that makes me really uncomfortable because it goes directly against everything that my pediatrician, lactation consultant, etc. has told me.

I especially just don’t have much tolerance for what I’ve dubbed “Broken Record Syndrome.” Family members, despite their well-meaning, can be some of the worst about this (I love you guys, but you know it’s true). I feel like you’ve finally mastered a certain level of being able to respectfully listen to what they say, weigh it with my own best judgment as a parent, and then do what I personally feel is the best thing for my kid. And sometimes, that simply isn’t what our family members have told us to do (sometimes it is actually quite the opposite of whatever these family members might be telling us to do, and that’s okay, too). So rather than avoid taking it personally and just move on, these well-meaning family members repeat the same thing…again…and again…and again. Ad. Nauseum. I guess they think that we’ll eventually “see the light” and just do it their way, but I really don’t understand that reasoning. Whatever the case, the Broken Record phenomenon is a very real part of my life nowadays and I just hope that I can continue to be patient about dealing with it.

But as for the overcomplication issue, I am increasingly charmed by the less-is-more approach to caring for Russ. For the most part, he’s the easiest baby ever – why make things unnecessarily more difficult for myself? For now, here are some answers to the main questions I’m being asked lately…

Q. Becky, you’re still exclusively breastfeeding? At four months? Seriously? When are you going to just give the kid some cereal already? He’s a big boy, you know…
A. Interesting you should ask! I’m not sure what qualifies as a “big boy” these days, but I’m going to stick to my theory that a four month old infant is hardly a “big boy.” I am still exclusively breastfeeding at four months, because for me, it’s easy and efficient, and Russ loves it. Not to be weird about it, but this kid seriously loves the boob. Could I be setting myself up for difficulty when it does come time to wean (which, by the way, is tentatively slated for around his first birthday and no, I don’t need your opinion about that)? Absolutely, but I think I’m giving him the best start that I personally can and I’m proud to be doing that. Not to mention, I have what I feel is a pretty decent postbaby bod thanks to the 500+ extra calories per day that are burned by my 24/7 milk factory. Russ never goes hungry and my milk supply is just fine. I’ll probably introduce cereal and first foods around the time that Russ turns six months, as per recent American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and suggestions, along with what my doctor has told me. So thanks for your advice, but I’m good.

Q. Russ is staring at your plate. He wants some of your steak. And you’re suuuuure he’s not ready for solids?
A. Yep, just as suuuuure as I am that I’m not ready to do chest compressions on my choking infant. I’m not going to be giving him Absinthe in a sippy cup anytime soon, either. You might also note that he has no teeth. Some studies actually show that babies develop their palate and food preferences based upon what foods their mother ingests during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so your (ill-conceived) idea isn’t totally off-base. Just mostly. He’ll have some “Steak Boobie” in about two hours, though, so don’t feel too bad for the poor little guy. And I hardly suspect that my ribeye is what he’s staring at. It probably has more to do with the fact that at four months of age, his eyesight is not yet developed to the 20/20 vision it will become in the near future – so in all likelihood, Russ is actually just looking in the direction of the sound of my voice or Jonathan’s. Or some other stimuli (be it sight, sound, or smell). And for sure, he could be making the connection that adults eat and drink differently than he does, but that doesn’t mean he needs to be rushed into a stage he simply isn’t developmentally ready for yet. I mean I’ve known four year olds who were obsessed with heavy artillery and second grade girls who thought stripper heels were “pretty.” It’s a slippery slope, people! Watch “Toddlers and Tiaras” one time and let me know if you don’t agree.

Q. Oh my gaw-ah-haad, how do you use _____ on Russ? That gave my kid boils and temporary blindness!
A. Uh…well…it’s just Desitin, right? Some kids have crazy allergies, others don’t, I guess we just got lucky. That’s the great thing about our consumer-driven society! If one thing doesn’t do it for ya, there are 30 other options on the same aisle at Walmart. And formulations have changed since the 70s and 80s. A lot of products that weren’t the gold standard then are now the ones exclusively used in hospital maternity units. Likewise, a lot of products that were once the go-to are now banned in every city except Wasilla, Alaska. I guess that explains a few things…

Q. How is Russ going to be get socialized if he doesn’t go to daycare?
A. Good question! Remember back about 20 years ago when parents introduced their children to people and told them to say “hello?” That’s a start. Then you do this crazy thing called “Instructing-and-Expecting-Your-Children-To-Communicate-With-Those-Around-Them.” It’s this totally cutting edge new thing. Russ gets a good amount of exposure to people other than just me, Jonathan, and immediate family. He’s a regular at the gym daycare, he makes appearances at the church nursery, and starting this weekend, he’s even going to a birthday party! So I don’t worry at all about him becoming “socialized” or anything like that. Just because I’m a stay-at-home-mom and Russ doesn’t spend all day with other children (at least not until he has a little sibling in a few years), doesn’t mean he will be antisocial or unable to share his toys. Of course, I’m not going to host any of those crazy “Spread the Chicken Pox” parties that some parents do either, but rest assured…we’ll be fine. My mom was a SAHM and we all see how frighteningly gregarious I turned out. Socialization is a function of example and instruction, not one of sharing boogers with other people’s kids. Though, let’s face it…boogers are funny. Farts, too. The kids will be alright.

Note: Please do not take anything in the aforementioned answer as a personal affront or dig, in any way/shape/form, to those who use daycare (be it for work or for simple convenience). I have the utmost respect and admiration for working parents. I just find that caustic humor is the best way to fend off the (very) occasional needling about my current status as a SAHM. We all have different circumstances to deal with as parents, and I know how lucky I am to be able to stay home with Russ. Because of that, I am continually amazed by the tireless hours that working parents put in both on the work clock and the parent clock – which, we all know, has no “start” time and no “end” time.

Q. What is Russ’s schedule? You know you need to get him on a schedule, right?
A. Why? No really, why? So that I can lose hair over the fact that I will forever be late for whatever is in the “schedule?” Now there’s an appealing prospect. Don’t get me wrong, I think structure is good. I also think a healthy amount of flexibility is good. As long as my kids are fed and rested, it doesn’t really matter to me if Russ nurses at 10 am one day and 9 am the next, if he naps at 1 pm one day and noon the next? I find that so many things in my life are made easier if I just sit back and let Russ tell me what he needs. As he grows, I notice that he tends to settle into his own schedule and his own tendencies, so I’m just going with it. When he is a toddler, I fully intend on introducing a little more structure in the way of sleeping and naps – since nothing is worse than a sleepy toddler. But even with food, I hope I can institute a different kind of structure – the kind to teach Russ to eat when he’s hungry and stop when he’s full, to help him develop healthy eating habits, and to make family dinners around an actual table a normal occurence in his life. But am I going to go the way of some Tom Perrota crazy drill sergeant momster? That’s a negative, Ghost Rider.

So, until next time (or the next silly question, whichever comes first), I hope that about covers it. And really, this isn’t meant to offend or upset anyone. It’s just that this blog is my mommy scratching post and well…I was getting a little scratchy. Or itchy. Whatever.

What’s going on lately

Considering that I’ve had this post saved and have revisted it 5 times over the course of the last few days’ “SNOWPOCALYPSE 2011” event, you’d have thought I’d be a bit more productive. But that has not been the case. I sat there and tried to craft some witty little title for this blog, but there’s just so much random stuff going on lately that nothing I could come up with really pulled it all together. So here’s the rundown.

1. EVERYONE is PREGNANT!! Oh my gosh, I thought 2010 was a banner year for babies, but I’m starting to think 2011 is really going to blow that out of the water. At our church alone, there are 10 or more babies expected in the new year and well…we’re only 10 days in, so I’m gonna assume that number will continue to climb. It’s funny too, because I’m realizing that the girls who are finding out about pregnancies now are the girls who will deliver their babies around Russ’s first birthday. Talk about humbling. I’ll tell ya one thing, for all the un-glamorousness of pregnancy, it is really fun enjoying all the planning, preparation, anticipation, and excitement. It makes me that much more giddy and ridiculously psyched for all those I know who are pregnant (especially the first-timers).

I just hope I can be the supportive, encouraging, and still neutral and accepting person that they need when they are looking for an ear to hear their woes or worries. I hope I can always remember to step back and give each and every one of those friends the room to establish who SHE is as a parent…after all, we are all just learning and feeling our way through the dark with this motherhood stuff. Not a one of us is perfect. It’s tough when you’re expecting your first child and every person you meet has a new piece of advice (usually one that conflicts with the last piece of advice you heard, too). It can get really confusing and downright uncomfortable at times, so I just hope I can leave it at this – to all you friends of mine who are expecting babies for the first time ever, I will promise you this: there is not a question you can ask me, a vent session you can bestow upon me, a rant you can ramble off that I will not gladly listen to and – if you wish – advise on. But seriously, all advice aside, if you just need to rant and vent and wonder to aloud to yourself “HOW is that even NORMAL?,” I promise you I will never judge you. So bring on the TMI and the 20 Questions, I’m your girl. And I have a LOT of baby shopping to do.

2. I love cooking. This is new. Not that I “love cooking,” because I always kind of enjoyed it. But recently, I’ve reorganized my entire kitchen, and in so many ways, that feels like reorganizing my entire life. I spend a LOT of time lamenting the things that I would change about our kitchen and have even expressed regret that we bought this place. I blame it on being a 22 year-old, first-time home buyer back when the real estate bubble was still firmly in place (this house doesn’t have a garage, either, but that’s an entirely different rant for another day). Our kitchen is definitely on the small side and it’s L-shaped, so we have this entire blank wall that kind of wastes perfectly usable space. The cabinets were also clearly designed and laid out by a DUDE, in the early 80s no less, and therefore have narrow openings and aren’t very deep. Granted, it’s not that dude’s fault that the average dinner plate has grown a few inches since the 1980s, but it’s still a bit of an inconvenience at times. Or so I thought, until New Years Day rolled around and I suddenly got the “organizational bug.” I just randomly decided to myself, I’m going to pull absolutely everything out of every cabinet and closet in the kitchen. Right now.

I’ve been known to go on these organizational binge-and-purge benders before, but I’m going to guess Jonathan thought that most of those could be attributed to late pregnancy and the “nesting” phenomenon. Again…not the case. It’s just that I’m a procrastinator’s procrastinator, meaning I will let disorder and chaos pile up around me until it seems like I’m hedging on normal and then BAM! Out comes the OCD need to organize everything in its place. I’m nothing if not predictable…

But in all seriousness, this time it was the best thing EVER. Organizing the kitchen, redesignating each thing to its “perfect” place, cleaning out the freezer (Why hello, long-lost-beef-roast-from-2006, we meet again!), emptying all those old packets of sugar-free jello mix from the pantry…it was all so therapeutic and it really made me WANT to cook stuff. We also took down things we’d packed away into the attic back in ’09 (pre-pregnancy, when we were trying to sell our house) and found places for a few wedding gifts that we hadn’t even opened since right after our wedding, almost five years ago. Like I have two carrot peelers now, who knew? And now, with all my crap finally set up in a way that works for me and makes some sort of sense for the layout of the kitchen (and just in simple terms of efficiency), I’ve been on a cooking streak that we are all enjoying. Especially Jonathan. In the past week alone, I’ve made (among other things) a banana pudding from scratch, chicken and corn chowder, pasta with italian sausage-and-pepper sauce, lemony chicken with sage browned butter sauce, an apple cake…okay, I’ll stop. Let’s just say I am washing a LOT of dishes lately and reading a LOT of Cooking Light magazine.

There is something affirming and fulfilling about cooking, though, especially when I’ve not done as much of it as I’d like in the past few years. It’s crazy how I could graduate college, get married, move away from home, buy a house, get a dog, celebrate four anniversaries, get pregnant, HAVE A BABY, go through not one but two renovations, have my first Christmas away from my parents, and yet still not feel 100% like an adult. The other day when I was making my mom’s banana pudding recipe and I pulled the perfectly browned, meringue-topped bowl o’ yumminess out from under the broiler…well, let’s just say I finally felt like a big girl. I’ve started a recipe file for myself and hope to have it full of great stuff soon. I’m experimenting with whole wheat flour and things that can make a normal dish a bit healthier, too – though, I do believe that some recipes just shouldn’t be messed with. All in all, I’m just really enjoying my “new” kitchen. But I am still looking forward to the day when I have that “dream” kitchen where I can display a robin’s egg blue KitchenAid stand mixer or a Le Creuset dutch oven. It’ll be awhile, but I can’t wait to teach my kids how to cook!

3. I’m feeling kind of run-down in the past few days. Now, maybe it’s that I’m exhausting myself with all this cooking, but I kind of doubt it. It’s not that I’m feeling sick, either. I’m really just feeling sort of fatigued, my muscles are all knotted up, and I just thing that taking a few days off from workouts would probably do me good. So this snowstorm probably arrived at a good time! I’m not sure exactly when I’ll return to the gym, but it may be towards the end of this week or even the beginning of next week. One thing I learned before I got pregnant with Russ (a lesson which served me well during my pregnancy, I might add) is that you have to be able to hear your body’s cries for rest and recuperation, back up (if possible), and regroup. So I’m trying to do that now, when I know I’m being physically and mentally taxed like never before in my life. Granted, I think my life isn’t too difficult right now (Russ isn’t mobile…I think once he’s walking, all hell will officially break loose), but the way I feel lately is telling me otherwise. And it could always be a seasonal thing, who knows. But I’m going to ratchet back the workouts a tad for a few days, up my sleep (haha…if Russ will cooperate, that is), and see how I feel.

4. Russ is almost four months old. When did that happen? Wasn’t I just blogging about my birth story? Oh man, the time is flying by. At this point, he’s starting to run out of room in his 3-6 month clothes, despite the fact that he isn’t officially four months old until Saturday. Already I am packing away clothes that I won’t see until, hopefully, the next little boy comes along (and yes, I would LOVE to have more little boys) and I just can’t believe how quickly it all happened and was gone. Russ is just nothing like the little, warm, squirmy bundle of new babyness that we brought home back in September, and that transformation has been an adventure in itself. But we’re having a great time, as always, and trying to look forward and not backward. I do think he’s going to be ready for an exersaucer soon, so that’s the next thing I have to get. Craigslist, here I come…

Until next time (and hopefully a much more succinct and cohesive post), everyone stay warm out there!

First Blog of 2011! (Oh my…2011…really?)

Well here we are, January 2nd already! It’s still hard for me to believe that 2010 is a closed book (and such an amazingly wonderful one at that), but it will go down in my book as being one of the best years of my blessed life. At this time of the morning, I really ought to be getting ready for church, but Jonathan and I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and slept in to make up for it. Russ just started the move from his bassinet to his pack-n-play (in preparation for the big move to his crib in his own room…*sniffle*). I must admit, I know some people count the days until their kids move into their crib/room at night and even skip the bassinet-by-the-bed stage entirely and start their babies in the crib the very first night home from the hospital. But for me and Jonathan, having Russ in our room has been so easy. Too easy, we’re starting to think – yesterday was a tough day mentally and emotionally for all three of us because we tried to nap Russ in his crib.
Now to be clear, Russ has napped in the darn thing several times before, so it really should NOT have been the tooth-gnashing session that it was. It’s not such an issue for Russ to sleep in a crib, a pack n’ play, a bassinet, you name it. The issue for Russ – one that troubles me and Jonathan more than if it were just about the place he slept – is solitude. Russ seems to have taken after me and he doesn’t particularly enjoy sleeping in a room alone. I have this problem, too – I absolutely despise when Jonathan travels for work. I’m lucky in that, now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, I can go stay with my mom & dad while Jonathan is out of town. But oh, I sure do hate sleeping in the house alone.

But anyhow, we tried for about an hour to get Russ to fall asleep in his crib – letting him cry (and scream and kick and cry some more) for a few minutes and going in every 5 minutes or so to look over the side of the crib, calmly stroke his tummy, and put his pacifier back in his mouth or reset the mobile we just installed to “help” (HA!) with this very venture. After an hour, we just decided that the poor little guy had been through enough for one day and took him out. For the rest of the day, he was clingy and cranky and just generally let us know how scarred he was from the whole experience. We felt horrible. And I know this is “why” some holier-than-thou parents will lord it over you that this is the reason one should put the baby in the crib from Day 1, but it just isn’t practical when you’re breastfeeding a newborn and are up at all hours of the night. Now that Russ is down to one feeding per night though, it is time. And I know that, but it is very anxiety provoking for me to have to make this change and know that Russ is never going to be my little baby in the bassinet once he transitions completely to his crib. But whether I drag my feet or not, time will march on, so I’m trying to just go with it!

I wish I could rewire my brain so I didn’t see everything as such a milestone! Sure does make it a lot more involved of a process, this whole thing about having a rapidly growing and changing infant! Ugh! But I love it, I really do. When Russ was getting so cranky and upset yesterday after the hour-long scream-a-thon in his crib, Jonathan got kind of miffed with it and was like “SHEESH kid! We just can’t make you happy, can we?!” And though it was a perfectly normal reaction and he only raised his voice a little, I got all emotional because I felt bad for Russ. He just wanted to be held and cuddled, and he’s still only three months old, even if it does feel like we’ve had him forever. I guess Jonathan wasn’t expecting me to get so weepy about the fact that he was just a little irritated with all the crying and yelling from Russ…

“What’s wrong, baby?”(Upon seeing me rapidly deteriorating into my “ugly cry” face)

“It’s…it’s just…it’s just that he’s so little! And he’ll only be little for a short time! And he’s going to be a little boy sooner than you realize and when he’s 3 or 4, we’ll have to work so much harder to keep him in line, and then he’ll be 13 or 14 and we’ll have to really stay on him to keep him in line, and this is the ONLY TIME WE’LL EVER GET TO CUDDLE HIM LIKE THIS, because once he grows up he won’t like us anymore but right now we’re his favorite people and so we just need to cuddle him while we can because he’s going to grow up so soon and then we’ll never get to cuddle him agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain!!!”

Yes, that was one sentence. And yes, I can assault the English language a little for creativity’s sake, just ask E.E. Cummings. Except I’m pretty sure Cummings maintained a little sanity for the sake of his craft, whereas this is just a blog about what a pathetic sap I am. It’s simply nowhere near as glamorous.

Thankfully though, Russ is back to his happy, squealing, laughing self this morning – despite having two zombies for parents. And just having him back to his happy self makes me feel a little bit better for the wear n’ tear. Funny how stuff like that changes. Feeling good about myself used to hinge on whether a certain number on the scale showed up. Now it just hinges on the corners of my little boy’s perfect lips being turned up, opening into a wide and toothless grin. Gotta love that.