Friday, January 9, 2015

A Letter to Rowan, 2 Months.

Dear Rowan,

Originally I had set out to write these letters to you every single month of your life. I was going to start composing the first when we got home from the hospital and then add to it as we learned more about one another. But I was so busy soaking in every minute with you (and, honestly, a little sleep deprived) and I didn't find a minute to put together a letter when you turned one month. I promise this won't be the only time I disappoint you.

So, here we are at two months and life with you is indescribable. I know every mom thinks their baby is the best baby but, dude, you are THE best baby. Unless your tummy hurts, your tears are easily stopped with a tight snuggle, some milk, or gentle shushing (you love to be shushed...I promise you will outgrow that and sometimes I feel rude doing it to you). You are not a sleeper, you prefer lots of tiny naps and you have quite the little appetite. You were born at 7.6 pounds and 19.5 inches, now you are 10.11 pounds and 22.5 inches! You are a big, growing boy and I am so proud of how strong you are. You hold your head up like a champ and I have a feeling you are going to be attempting to crawl much before you should. 

Your village, as I like to call our family and friends, love you so much. Jackie asks to hold you immediately when you two are in the same room and gently whispers little things to you. "You are my cousin. I love you. You are a little baby." Charlie drew you a picture just because and it hangs on our fridge. Gavin and Tyler love to hold you, too, and give you lots of kisses. For Christmas they surprised you with a Build-a-Bear (the one in the picture above) named Rex...seriously, how cute is that for my Babysaurus? They each have the same teddy bear, theirs are weathered from years of cuddles and I can't wait to see yours grow up with you too. Grandma and Grandpa are already planning for your first sleepover and a summer of fun with you. Your aunties and uncles spoil you rotten. I can't even list everyone who does special things for you. You are so, so loved.

You also met Santa this Christmas and someday I'll tell you who that actually was and how special that moment was. Your first Christmas was magical in that you were a-okay with being passed around and fawned over. You were alert and enjoyed the extra cuddles.

Your daily smiles and coos are plentiful and I can't wait to hear you laugh for the first time. Your happiest time of day is early in the morning. You and I usually wake up around 5am, I feed you, and then change your diaper while you coo. I get you dressed--one of my favorite things ever--and you usually kick around and make happy sounds while I sing you silly songs. Things that usually guarantee a smile: goofy faces, when mommy lightly tickles your belly, when mommy and daddy sing crazy songs in weird voices, and when we pretend to eat your feet. You could take or leave Violet's kisses but love to watch her throw her toys around the room and she's incredibly protective of you. You could also lay on your changing pad and stare at your animal mobile for hours (best $4 at IKEA I ever spent).

Up until this week you were sleeping in our bed at night but I decided I needed to get you into your bassinet and started training you. I was so worried about making the transition but you are handling it with ease. I miss having you sleep on my chest but I know this is what's best for us (plus I still steal you for cuddly naps during the day). Your bedtime routine is one of my absolute favorite times of day. At 9pm when do a bath or wipe you down with a warm cloth, do a gentle massage, put on cuddly jammies, and then you and I go upstairs so you can eat. Afterward you get swaddled, Daddy says goodnight to you and turns out the light, and I rock you to sleep with a whole lotta shushing. You used to hate being swaddled, and you still fight it at first, but once you settle into it you relax. It makes me realize how you are growing and changing everyday and it makes me all melty inside.

 Two nights ago you slept for four hours in a row--your longest stretch ever--in your bassinet and I was so proud of you. I'm still proud of you. Every toot and smile and sneeze and grasp of my finger makes me proud of you. I never knew it was possible to be so in love with someone. 

Your bond with Daddy is growing every single day and my heart grows three sizes every time I watch the two of you play and when I hear him call you buddy and bubba and baby boy. When he gets home from work the two of you have cuddle time while Daddy unwinds from his work day. Also, you have a billion nicknames (Ro, RoRo, Robo Cop, Robot, RoboBoy, Bubba, Bubba Bear, Baby Bear, seriously a billion). I'm sure that the older you get the more embarrassing you'll think our many nicknames are but isn't that what parents are supposed to do?

I love you more and more everyday and I can't wait to see what the month ahead brings. 



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Thought.

I stumbled upon this quote on Pinterest and it spoke to my dang heart.

Just a warm thought on this freezing Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Baby Talk: What I've Learned So Far.

I've been a parent for all of the blink of an eye and I already feel like I've learned a TON. Every day seems to bring a new challenge, a new lesson, a deeper love than I thought possible. I tried to keep my pre-baby expectations pretty realistic (no, I never thought I'd spend maternity leave whipping up gourmet meals and learning Japanese) but I still felt in over my head at times.

Parenting is an area where I love to hear what works for other people and where I feel like opening a conversation can be insanely helpful so I thought I'd share some things I've learned over the last 9 weeks with the tiny love of my life as a new breastfeeding mom who had an unexpected C-section.

My story is my own. 
 I never expected to be induced or have a c-section. I planned to go into labor at home have this beautiful, traditional delivery and skip the surgery. As my due date came and went, I went to sleep every night hoping to wake up to my broken water. I didn't get that. Shit happens.For the first few weeks, I felt so disappointed in how things happened. I didn't get my rush-to-the-hospital moment. After eleven hours of labor, I didn't get to push. I felt like there was judgement on me because I had a c-section. I had someone ask if I had a "real delivery or a c-section" insinuating I didn't give birth rather than I had surgery. I'm so grateful for my healthy, happy baby but it broke my heart not to bring him into the world the way I had planned and it shattered my feelings when people didn't realize how their words impacted me.

But my story is mine. My baby could have gotten hurt in a vaginal birth. My belly scar is my reminder that I did give birth, I brought a beautiful life into this world, I was strong. I'm not any less of a mom because things happened differently for me.
There are never enough hours in the day.
 Two things that used to be mine are not anymore: my time and my boobs. With a newborn I had NO idea that you really spend every single second on someone else's timetable. Even at two months Rowan is a grazer and a nap-fighter so much of my time revolves around feeding him every 1.5-2 hours and trying to lull him into a nap. Then you add pumping into that? Aye carumba. Long gone are the days where I would wake up early, get in a 12 or 13 hour work day, make dinner, and paint my nails while watching Netflix. Gone are the Saturdays where we'd just decide to go "find something to do" and drive around until we found somewhere to shop or eat or play. I have to schedule things around the baby's feedings and naps and make sure not to pack too much activity in as not to overstimulate him.

I'm still getting adjusted to having a schedule but not having a routine, to structuring my day around things I can't control. It takes time to get used to but I'm trying. Also, side note, pumping is a pain in the ass but it opened up my world a bit. Having a bottle in the fridge means I can take a long shower or run to get groceries or work without worrying that Ro will go hungry.

It's okay to feel like shit.
 Real talk: I had the baby blues and they are no joke. I felt blue for about three weeks postpartum and I didn't expect to at all. I thought I'd be blissed out because I had such a wonderful pregnancy and was so ready to be a mom. But those crazy hormones and recovering from surgery and never sleeping created a recipe for the baby blues. I had read about women who feel no connection to their baby or resent motherhood or can't stop crying or think violent things....that was NOT me. More than anything, I felt emotional. I missed being pregnant and being the only one who had a deep connection with Rowan. I felt like I wasn't doing a good job as a mom because I didn't know what I was doing. Anything could send me into a cry jag. I felt ugly and fat and I was physically hurting from surgery recovery. I was alone much of the day and breastfeeding took a lot of time to learn and I felt so overwhelmed. I would say I spent 80% of the time happy, 20% blue. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed that I was dealing with the baby blues. I felt like I was being selfish. I was so happy to have my beautiful baby but I felt like nothing I was doing was good enough and that I should be better at being a mom.

It passed, luckily, as my hormones evened out and my c-section incision healed (once you can laugh or sneeze or pee without crying about how much it hurts your whole world is brighter!) and I realized no new parent knows what they are doing. It was okay for me to feel overwhelmed (I still do sometimes) and hormonal and miss being pregnant. My pregnancy was magical and I know I'll never feel Rowan's tiny kicks from inside of my belly again. It's okay to miss it.

A support system is vital.
I have an amazing family who help me out constantly from babysitting during my work day to bringing us dinner to sleeping over once a week to help out with Rowan. I relied heavily on their help and advice (still do!) and it makes this whole "being a new parent with a tiny human life in my hands" so much easier.

I also lucked out that a couple of friends had babies around the same time I did. Texting during middle of the night feedings or asking what nap techniques work best for their babies or just venting about what a dummy my husband can be (sorry, Rhyno) has made motherhood easier already. It takes a village to raise a baby and a village to make a new mom not feel like she is screwing everything up.

This too shall pass.
I knew parenting would have its own challenges and promised Rowan when he was in my belly to do anything I can to make his life happy and healthy. The more comfortable I become in my still new role as a mom, the more joy there is in every single day. I have been so in love with Rowan since the second I saw his face and I am so grateful to be his mom, the beauty outweighs the challenges. I was told how magical motherhood is and I still can't believe it. I can't believe how much I love him and even when I try for hours to get him to sleep, I miss him when he's been asleep too long.

Having the responsibility of forming his world is a lot of pressure but I know I'll blink and he'll be an adult. I know in just a couple years when he's telling me "no!" and doesn't want to hold my hand when crossing the street, I'll miss being bleary eyed at 2am rocking him. People aren't kidding when they say parenthood is the most challenging, rewarding, and wonderful job there is.

Are you a parent? Any wisdom to pass along?

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Accidental Vegan.

If you've followed along on this corner of the internet, you know that I'm a full-time vegetarian who's constantly thinking about becoming  a vegan. During my pregnancy with Ro-maine Lettuce (lol) I stuck to my vegetarianism despite some well-meaning dummies constantly telling me that I should be eating "steak, here and there" or that "chicken will create a stronger baby."

I ate tofu and spinach like a muth and I promise that my baby boy is already much stronger than he should be. 

When people heard I was breastfeeding the meat pushers came back out in full force and this time they were slinging dairy at me, too. During my pregnancy I enjoyed about a billion ice cream cones and a daily serving of coconut flavored Greek yogurt.

In the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding I continued to eat yogurt and dump cheese on things and indulged in milk-made foods daily (despite the fact that cow's milk has always creeped me out). After about a week at home we noticed that Ro-bo Cop (I have a million of these) was an incredibly gassy screaming and turning red gassy...constantly. Our pediatrician suggested trying gas drops and said that it just takes newborn tummies some adjusting before they settle down. We tried different types of gripe water, I burped him mid-feed, we made sure it wasn't the beginning of colic or reflux (thank Cheez-its it wasn't), and we struggled to help him toot so that he'd feel better. After talking with a lactation consultant and our pediatrician I was advised to try cutting out dairy (some baby bellies can't break down dairy proteins they receive through breastmilk. science, man.) and see if things improved. After a week he seemed better, less gassy, and it was easier for him to sleep. We knew it was a dairy intolerance for sure when we gave him milk that I had frozen while I was still eating dairy as a test and his old symptoms returned with a vengeance. So what's a new mom to do? Cut out all the dairy goodness and try not to look back.

Some things I've realized since making the jump (overnight!) to 100% dairy-free:

Finding dairy replacements isn't THAT hard
 When I mentioned cutting out dairy there were a few folks who quickly told me there was no better source of calcium than cow's milk and that it'd be hard to find replacements. Wrong-o. Since I haven't actually had a glass of cow milk in years (just consumed other dairy products) I already knew that was untrue. There's soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, the list goes on. If anything, I think we live in a time where there are more options than ever (could you imagine finding organic coconut milk at a chain grocer like Jewel in the early 1990's? Me either). Take a trip to the "healthy/organic" aisle at a chain grocery store or stop in a health food emporium and BOOM! You have a ton of dairy-free options. Soy ice cream, no-dairy butter, milkless milk, coconut yogurt, anything your heart desires. You just have to do a bit of research and taste-testing to find what you like.

On that note...

Trial and error, dude, trial and dang error
 As with anything, it takes a bit of work to find what you like best and which dairy-free options work best for you. For instance, it took a few tries to learn that I love coconut milk to drink with chia seeds mixed in but I prefer almond milk for baking or using in smoothies. I try to stay away from soy-based options because I think they make me gain weight. Dairy-free cheese can be your personal Everest. Some are amazing, some are revolting. Buy a few different kinds of things and see what you like. I did a vegan month a few years ago (I made it like 13 days at the time) and I went to our health food store and bought everything. For real. I spent a ton of money and bought all sorts of different dairy-free yogurts, egg replacers, plant-based milks, you name it so that I could try different things and see what I liked. It was a bit of a spend at the time but I'm glad I did it because in going dairy-free this time I knew just what to buy.

For the record I love Trader Joe's almond milk, Lisanatti almond cheese paired with crackers,  Daiya "cheese" for melting on/in things, So Delicious frozen desserts & ice creams, and Tofutti frozen pizzas, cream cheese, & sour cream.

Ignore that well-meaning dopes 
I honestly think people are trying to help when they horn in on my diet but it usually comes from a place of personal habit. We grew up thinking cow's milk was the only way to get strong bones, so what do I mean I'm not drinking it? Eggs and fish are the only things that build brain health, why wouldn't I eat them often? It's just antiquated thinking. I feel like there's enough research out there that proves calcium, Omega fats, and a billion other nutrients are plentiful in plant-based foods and hi, take a vitamin for insurance.

As a general note, I would never ever cut things out of my diet if it was going to put my baby at risk. I went dairy-free to help him and I made sure to research his needs, talk to his doctor, and fix my diet so that I am building a healthy baby boy.

It takes a find really great recipes on a budget
Okay, it's only been two weeks and I have an infant so I haven't been able to test a ton of great recipes yet (tofu stir fries have been my dinner BFF) but during 3am feedings I have searched Pinterest for great dairy-free or vegan dishes that are quick and easy. Every damn "vegan slow cooker meals!" pin leads to a chili recipe. I love a good chili as much as the next gal but let's broaden our horizons.

In talking with some friends I've made it my mission to find and share great, healthy vegan recipes that don't take twenty years to make.

When you are cheese tempted, find motivation
 Though I gave up dairy for my Ro-ad Dawg (I could do this all day), I have a passion for animals too and that serves as a huge motivation for me. Up until a few years ago I blindly believed that no one really suffered for dairy. I won't get into it here, but that's untrue. Whenever I'm tempted to order a cheese pizza I do a bit of research. In the middle of the night while up with my bouquet of Ro-ses (too much?) I watch food documentaries like Vegucated, even if it seems weird. I remind myself what goes into that carton of milk and suddenly I want to keep my cookies far, far away.

 Do you do dairy?


Friday, January 2, 2015


Attack of the fifty foot Babysaurus.
....eating clean and dairy-free! After some diet trial and error and long nights of baby cries, our pediatrician and I came to the conclusion that my Rowanasaurus doesn't tolerate dairy proteins well. As a breastfeeding mama that means I am cutting out dairy altogether. I've been completely dairy-free for almost a week now and I feel pretty great. Since what I put in my body is directing impacting my baby, I have made a huge effort to eat as clean and healthy as possible. My favorite go-to lunch lately has been a HUGE salad full of spinach, tofu, raw veggies like carrots and celery, pomegranate arils, a drizzle of olive oil and a quick sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 
...making big plans and getting ready to take big risks. More on that another time.

...listening to Murder By Death, always. I have been listening to this live version of Foxglove on loop for days now. It's my favorite MBD song and I just can't get enough. Every night before bed, I walk Rowan around the house to say goodnight to every room and we end in my bedroom and listen to music while I nurse him in the dark. Since I listened to SO much MBD while I was pregnant I always wait to see if he recognizes the voices or melodies.
...reading  Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I just started on this since it was a Christmas gift. I am a HUGE Amy fan and have been looking forward to tearing into this book for months. I am planning to set aside an hour for myself this weekend to fill up a bubble bath, light some candles, hand the baby to Rhyno, and dive in to this book.
...watching all the Netflix. My awesome mom surprised me with a Kindle Fire for Christmas to keep me entertained during middle of the night feedings. I've watched a few documentaries (including one on breastfeeding that was the exact stereotype you might think it is) and reruns of shows like Roseanne.  I also hooked my Hulu account up to the Fire and use that for my guilty pleasure shows (hi, Real Housewives and Snooki & JWoww).
...loving my babe! I'll dedicate like a trillion more posts to him but, real talk, motherhood has huge challenges but I'm enjoying it so much. After nights of no sleep and constant feedings and gassy baby cries, one smile from Rowan kind of makes the frustrations melt away. I truly never knew I could love someone so much and feel so protective of a person or want to be around someone. Last week he kept me up ALL NIGHT. In the morning he was a bear and blew out his diaper twice. He peed through his pajamas and spit up on me right after I got dressed. By the time my mom got here to babysit while I worked I was more than happy to hand him over for a few hours but after an hour? I missed him. I had to sneak downstairs at lunch to give him a smooch and hug. When my eyes burn because I'm so tired at 2am while feeding him, I try to remind myself he'll only be little for so long. A few nights ago I was exhausted and up with him for the fourth time in a few hours (dang baby belly aches), while I fed him I held his hand and got teary-eyed realizing this moment will pass. I'll blink and he'll be all grown up. I'll turn around and he won't need me at 2am anymore, he won't need my snuggles quite so often, he won't fall asleep in my arms, and I'll long for the late nights with him. I'm loving being his mom and trying to love even the most trying moments.
 ...looking forward to the year ahead! The more I think about what's to come, the more excited I get.
Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, January 1, 2015


It's a brand new year! How crazy is that? With a still relatively new baby in the house, Rhyno and I decided to stay home last night and quietly bring the new year in together. We watched movies, played some killer games of peek-a-boo, ate delicious food, and ushered in a new year as a family of three. It was quiet and low-key and kind of really wonderful.

Last year as I reflected on 2013 there was so much uncertainty in my life and wishes for good things to happen. The morning of New Year's Eve last year, Rhyno and I clinked coffee cups and swore 2014 would bring big changes for us. It was going to be our year and boy was it ever!

2014 has been a real beaut--it was the year my dad beat cancer and I became a mom. There will never be another year where I hear my first baby's heartbeat for the first time or hold Rowan in my arms for the very first time or see his gummy little smile for the first time. It was a year of magic and firsts and love and feeling whole. The year had it's challenges, of course, with work stresses and the challenges of being new parents and my dad kicking the crap out of cancer for the better part of '14 but I wouldn't trade in those 365 days. Where 2013 felt like a punch in the gut, 2014 felt like victory. I have a sneaky feeling 2015 is going to be even better, too.

I've seen a bit of a change in tide regarding New Year's resolutions recently, people "rebelling" and not setting goals for the year ahead to avoid the pressure, the cliche, the whatever else. I'm definitely not one of those people. I am excited to make some (very attainable) goals for the year ahead and work toward them in the next twelve months.

Do More of What Makes Me Happy
This is pretty general, I just want to focus on being positive and doing more of what makes me happy and less of what makes me a grouchy beast. Whether it be at home, at the gym, at work, what have you I want to love what I do. I also am making a bigger, better effort not to let life's annoyances and toxic people drain me of my good energy. Basically, I don't give a rat's ass about being around things/people/situations that damage my good vibes so I'm pressing the mute button on them. Life is too short (and sometimes feels too long) to allow bitter hags to rule your mood.  My life is mostly rainbow colored unicorns and cotton candy clouds and I have really wonderful people in my inner circle, if you aren't on my happy level you can GTFO. There will always be stressful things and crabby nights of no sleep and unavoidable bad situations and days where I'm just a raging bitchface, that's part of life and I have people I can vent to, but I'm going to smile and be happy as much as I can. It's like the proverbial "they" say: you can't control what happens, you can only control how you respond.

Take Care
I'mma take care of everything! Post-pregnancy my body felt like a mess and I have had a hard time fitting in exercise (especially with the bitter cold barring me from even walking the neighborhood with Ro-Boat in his stoller). I spent a bit of last night finding work outs that can be done at home, without equipment and some even WITH your baby. After some breastfeeding challenges (more on that in another post) I've also cleaned up my diet. Since I felt like a schlub after having the baby I relied heavily on maternity leggings and nursing tank tops, never putting on makeup and piling my hair in a messy bun. Now that I feel a bit more comfortable with nursing and I'm working on gettin' my bod right, I want to take better care of my appearance again.
This one also applies to my relationship--I want to take care of the bond between my husband and I. People aren't kidding when they say the first few months of being a parent are hard on your relationship. Rhyno and I made a pact to make a better effort to be good to one another and reserve one evening a week for date nights (thank goodness for grandmas who love to babysit, am I right?).

Keep Turning this House into a Home
Our house is really cute. I mean, seriously, it is really cute. But over the last year or so, we've noticed more and more things that need work (#homeownerproblems, for real). When I was eight and a half months pregnant Rhyno noticed the shower in our master bathroom had cracked and now the entire room needs to be gutted (someday remind me to tell you how hilarious it is showering in our tiny basement shower when you have a belly for miles and can barely bend over). Our kitchen has been a disaster area (it is still my least favorite room) and we have plans to begin renovations on that as well. Rhyno and I made a list of the big home changes we'd like to work on this year--the bathroom, kitchen, making a berry patch in the backyard, fixing up our back patio, working on some of the landscaping. As I slip more into the homeowner role, I realize how important curb appeal is. 

Aside from BIG changes, I also have plans to re-organize our digs and cozy up some rooms (on a budget, of course). For instance, Rowan's nursery could also use some organizational magic--that kid has a lot of stuff! My angel of a mother has also been staying over in our guest room/my office once a week so I'd like to make that space a bit more inviting for sleepovers while still being conducive to a productive work day. I've also made a full time transition back to our bedroom with my tiny co-sleeping babe (again, another post on how I jumped into being an accidental vegan and my accidental attachment parenting) and I want our bed to be a sanctuary of sorts. I want to be able to comfortable nurse Rowan at 2am without having to reorganize 845 pillows in the dark with a crying baby waiting to eat.

Make it Rain (on my bank account)
 Changes are a' comin' and I want to be prepared with a fully loaded bank account. With plans for our home updates and my own demand that we go on vacation this year (see below), I want to make sure that we are saving as many of our pennies as possible without missing out on things we want to do. I was pretty good about saving money and getting on a budget last year when I was couponing and really paying attention to our bank account. Since having a baby I paid less attention to spending money (Rowan needs cute booties! I need a hands-free pumping bra! Who needs coupons or sales?) and I need to change that. I'm jumping back into couponing, making our own cleaning supplies, looking for sales on big items, being mindful of when we make big purchases, meal planning, and keeping baby items as low-cost as possible. Instead of going out to eat or ordering in, I've made a resolution to actually use our cookbooks. I have an entire cabinet of cookbooks ranging from all chocolate desserts to gluten free to vegan homecooking. Once a week, on a night we'd normally order pizza or Chinese, I plan to use a cookbook recipe instead. We get to try something new without spending a ton of money.

Until now we've been cloth diapering about 10% of the time and using disposables 90%. To help save money and the planet and keep our house as cruelty-free as possible, I am hoping to reverse that ratio (basically only having disposables on hand for babysitters or days where we're out and about) and introducing re-usable wipes. Yes, it'll be messy but it'll be worth it.

Get Out There
My biggest goal in 2015, and in motherhood in general, is to get out there and try new things and see new places. I've done a bit of research about free programs and classes and events in our area to check out with Ro. I also made a rule that we have to take a family vacation every single year without exception, even if it's short or on a really tight budget (we are already pricing out a trip to visit family in Florida for a long weekend this summer--Ro will see the ocean for the first time!). 

Bring it on, 2015, I have a feeling you are going to be so rad...because I'm going to make sure you are rad.

What are your resolutions for 2015?