Friday, June 8, 2018

TGIF!

Wow, I managed to post 3 times this week! That has not happened in a very long time! Even though week days are much different from weekends for me while I'm home with Paul, I still look forward to the weekend as it's great to have Phil around to help out!

The high of my week was coming home after leaving Paul with my aunt so I could go to a doctor appointment and finding out he did not cry while I was gone! Score! She got to our house when Paul was down for a nap so I was a little nervous about how he'd handle waking up to a newish person (she's watched him before but it's been awhile since she last saw him). He did great, though, and was charming her with lots and lots of smiles! Hopefully this means the stranger danger phase is over for now (I know it will come back again later in the year as it's part of their development to fear strangers). 

The low of my week was seeing Paul come down with his first little cold. It's very minor as he hasn't had a fever but it's tough to hear him all stuffed up. I've had to use the Nose Frieda multiple times a day every day this week, which he HATES. 

The book I am reading is Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. This is a WWII novel that I've been meaning to read for such a long time! The physical book became available right before I was induced but I knew I wouldn't have much time to read a physical book so I canceled my request. The eBook finally became available at the library at the same time as 2 other books - one of which was a book club book! Luckily I was able to get through the other 2 books in time to read this before it's due. Score! I’m almost half done. It’s so sad. So far it mostly focuses on the treatment of women at a concentration camp. 

A Recipe I made was these pineapple and grilled shrimp skewers. I didn't make the quinoa side from the recipe as Phil is just not a fan of quinoa! Instead we had grilled asparagus and we split a baked potato. I love skewer meals. I want to try to make a skewer meal each week as there are so many different recipes out there!

The best money I spent was on some cashew milk ice cream. I haven't really had much success with going dairy free so I am not sure I will stick with it, but cow's milk ice cream has already bothered my stomach so even if I go back to eating dairy, I"m going to continue to eat cashew milk ice cream. It's the best dairy free ice cream I've ever had. I swear you can't tell it's made from cashews. 

My plans this weekend include having lunch with a woman I met through United Way today and then we are having another couple over for cards tonight. Paul goes to bed around 6:30-7 so we can resume our monthly card nights with this couple. We actually don't have plans on Saturday or Sunday which feels great! On Sunday there is an open street festival at the street by our house that I'm hoping to check out. They basically close down the street and there are lots of food trucks, entertainment, booths, etc. 

And because I know everyone likes baby photos, here are a couple of Paul from this week!


It's exhausting being this cute!




Did you make any new recipes this week? What was the high of your week?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Baby Paul: 3 Months

The period that is known as the "fourth trimester" is over! For those not familiar with the fourth trimester, it's the 3-month period of adjustment after the baby is born. The thought is that human babies are born earlier than most mammals because of the size of their head and that there is a tremendous amount of development and adjustment that occurs in those first 3 months.



The 3rd month was more challenging than the first 2. The first 2 months were full of lots of worry over his weight gain (or lack thereof) but overall he was a fairly easy baby and a good sleeper. During the 3rd month, he found his appetite, but with that came more frequent wake ups at night. And he has been more fussy. But he gained almost 2 pounds this month, which is more than he gained during the first 2 months of life!!

He also developed a strong case of stranger danger and only wants to be held by Phil or me which makes it hard for me to get away since I worry about how much he will cry when I am gone. As a result, I only left him with someone besides Phil once this month and that was for a date night with Phil. He did pretty well for my friend and her husband but I had a lot of anxiety about leaving him - not because I wasn't confident in my friend's ability to care for him but because I worried he would scream the whole time we were gone! Once we got to the restaurant I did enjoy myself and tried not to think about him too much. It was wonderful to get some time away with Phil. I know we need to make a point to do that every other month or so.

But the smiles offset some of the challenges of the third month! He went from smiling spontaneously to smiling in response to us! His smile just melts my heart!






Likes:

- laying on a blanket on the floor. He's a little bit more interested in his toys, too, like his giraffe from grandma Marlys...


and the baby paper that a friend's mom gave him. It makes a crinkling noise when he touches it.


But even without toys, he is happy on the floor, kicking his feet.


- After hating tummy time, he now likes it. Now that he likes tummy time, I think he's less motivated to roll onto his back, though!


Dislikes:

- As I mentioned above, he doesn't like being held by anyone besides mom and dad. He will look around for us and scream/cry. :(

- He doesn't like being left alone in the living room while I do dishes/get something from the kitchen/etc. So I  have learned to bring him with me if I am going to be in the kitchen for awhile.

- The nose frieda. This is an alternative to the bulb-shaped nasal aspirator. He's been a little bit congested this month so we've used it quite a bit. I guess I can't blame him for hating it!

Firsts:

- we had our first road trip to the lake. He got to meet his great-grandma Janet and spent time with Grandma Marlys and his namesake, Grandpa Paul.




- The hot weather meant it was time to pull out a hat. He tolerates it pretty well. The hat clashes with the outfit in this photo, but this picture shows how blue his eyes are!


- He also wore sunglasses for the first time. These did not stay on for long, though, so I think we'll have to settle for using a hat for now.


- He's also wearing cloth diapers now, except for overnight as he's not big enough for the super absorbent overnight cloth diapers. I tried using cloth at the beginning of the month but they were comically huge on hims (see photo on the left below). But by the 2nd half of the month, he was big enough to wear them. Yea! We are happy to be generating less waste. I know some (many?) people probably think we are crazy to be using cloth diapers but it's actually not that much work in my opinion. And the cost savings and reduction of waste that will go in the landfill makes it worth it for us!

This photo shows how much he great this month. These 2 photos were taken just over 2 weeks apart. 
- He also rolled over twice from stomach to back on the day he turned 3 months! He had rolled over when he wasn't quite 2 months but I figured that it didn't count since I couldn't get him to do it again. But since he did it twice in one day, I'm considering that developmental milestone met!

****

I'm grateful that I still have about 1.5 more months with him. Most American women would be going back to work around now. I'm feeling extra tired these days so can't imagine functioning at work on the amount of sleep I'm getting. Here's hoping he's sleeping better by the time I return to work in mid-July!

All in all, we feel lucky to have such a healthy, happy baby. He definitely has his fussy times of day but overall he's a pretty happy little guy. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Podcasts, Books and Workouts of May

Another month is in the books. May flew by pretty quickly. I'm grateful that I have about 1.5 more months of leave left as I don't feel quite ready to return to work just yet! Although I did see a bunch of coworkers at a HH retirement party last week and it made me realize that it will be good to go back to work as I really miss them!  

Podcasts:

In the Dark - as I mentioned in my currently post for May, I'm loving the latest season of "In the Dark." It's about a man who has been tried 6 times for the same series of murders. The shady/unethical police work is kind of unbelievable. It makes you wonder how much this happens with other convictions. 

Books:

May was another strong month for reading. I finished 5 books. My favorite was The Garden of Small Beginnings. 


Darktown by Thomas Mullen - 3 stars - This is a plot-driven novel about a crime that occurs in Atlanta in the late 1930s. The city of Atlanta had recently decided to hire African American cops, but they weren't fully embraced by other cops. So the book is partially about the crime that occurred and partially about the racial discord in Atlanta. 

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain - 3 stars - This novel is about Ernest Hemingway's third marriage. I really loved "The Paris Wife" and was hoping that this one would be just as good but I didn't like it quite as much. I had a hard time feeling sympathy for his 3rd wife. You'd think she would have realized that Hemingway is a cheating scumbag?? I know that is harsh to say but he clearly had a pattern of cheating on his wives! 

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman - 4 stars - This was my favorite book of the month as it was really easy to get into and was a fast read. It's about a woman who lost her husband in a tragic car accident. She joins a gardening club as a requirement of a work project. The cast of characters in the gardening club were so likable which made the book really enjoyable. Plus there is gardening advice in between each chapter. As an avid gardener, I really enjoyed that! 

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy - 3 stars - This is a memoir written by a woman who went through an awful series of events, including losing a baby. There were aspects of the book that I enjoyed but overall I would say this was "just ok." If I could give half stars in goodreads, this would have been a 2.5 star book for me.

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon - 4 stars - In this novel, the author imagines what happened aboard the last flight of the Hindenburg. The story is told from multiple points of view which is a writing style that I love! 

Workouts:

I finished week 5 of the 12 week post-baby program I purchased in April. I had to take a week off as I did something to my glute/hamstring that had me hobbling around for a couple of days. It was so strange. I think I must have tweaked something when I was doing some single leg lunges. Besides that minor set back, I've been feeling great. I also did my first run/walk combo last week. It's a lot of work to push a stroller, especially if there is the slightest change in elevation! I'm hoping to gradually increase the amount of time spent running and I'm going to try to get out for a run without the stroller each weekend when Phil is around to watch the baby. It feels really good to be back to exercising! 

Friday, May 25, 2018

My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

Look - a post that isn't about Paul or maternity leave! I guess it's sort of about maternity leave as I'm talking about a gadget that has made meal prep during maternity leave easier - my Instant Pot.

For those who aren't familiar with the Instant Pot, it's an electric pressure cooker. I think electric pressure cookers were rare or maybe didn't exist before Instant Pots came on the market, but don't quote me on that. My previous experience with pressure cookers was the stove-top one my mom used when she canned things when we were growing up. I also got a stove-top one at our wedding shower to use for canning. I used it for the first time this summer when I canned salsa verde. A stove-top pressure cooker is definitely a bit more intimidating. It's still not bad - you just have to watch it closely to make sure the pressure doesn't increase too much and you need to adjust the heat on the burner to make sure the pressure cooker stays at the pressure you want it at.

But the Instant Pot is easy peasy. You decide if you want to use high or low pressure (every recipe I've made calls for high pressure). You set a timer for how long you want the food to cook at that pressure level, and that's about it! The pressure will build in the Instant Pot and once it reaches the pressure level you've set (high or low), the timer starts. When the timer is up, the pressure naturally releases - or you can manually release the pressure by moving a pressure valve.

This might all sound really complicated, but I promise that it's straight forward once you start using an Instant Pot! The Instant Pot is actually a multi-purpose gadget, though, as it can be used as a rice cooker or a crockpot. It also has a saute function so if you make a recipe, like chili, that requires you to brown the meat or veggies, you can do that in the Instant Pot instead of dirtying another pan.

Since this is a fairly new gadget, I thought I'd share some of my favorite dishes we've made with ours! A quick tip:  One thing to keep in mind with these recipes is that they call for cooking at high pressure for a certain amount of time, but you also need to factor in about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach high pressure, or possibly longer if you are making a soup because the contents of the Instant Pot need to heat up before it starts to generate steam.

1. Chicken Tikka Masala with Cauliflower and Peas - This is probably my favorite dish we've made in the Instant Pot. Phil and I LOVE Indian food so it's no surprise that we love this dish. This one takes a bit more time as you have to bring it to pressure twice - once when you cook the chicken with the spices/tomatoes and again after you add the cauliflower and peas. But it comes to pressure pretty quickly - especially the second time since the contents of the pot are already hot. If you like Indian food, I highly recommend this! We always have all the spices it calls for on hand and frozen peas, so it's an inexpensive dish to make as we just have to buy the chicken, ginger, and cauliflower.

2. Hard Boiled Eggs - Hard boiled eggs are something you can easily make on the stove-top, but they are sooo easy to make in the Instant Pot. Plus the eggs come out perfectly cooked and the shells literally slide off of them. You do need a steamer rack or trivet to make them in the Instant Pot, though, as the eggs can't touch the base of the Instant Pot. But my Instant Pot came with a steamer rack so hopefully that is the case for most! You just place the eggs on the steamer rack (make sure they aren't touching), add 1 coup of water and cook them on high pressure for 5 minutes, let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes, manually release the rest of the pressure, and rinse them in cold water. You need to peel them right away but it's such a cinch to peel them!

3. Spaghetti Squash - I eat a lot of spaghetti squash in the summer and fall when it is in season. In the past I roasted it in the oven for 45-60 minutes, which really heats up the house. Cooking it in the pressure cooker is much faster as you only have to cook it on high pressure for 7 minutes! This is another recipe that requires a steamer rack or trivet.

4. Indian Vegetable Rice - This is one of our new favorite side dishes. I usually have all but a couple of the ingredients on hand so it's an easy side dish to make.

5. Moroccan Chicken - This is a new recipe that we tried this week that turned out great. I like that you don't have to cut up much for this recipe - just the onion and lemon (we actually left the lemon out as I forgot to buy one!). You also have to chop garlic but I don't consider that "cutting" since I use a garlic press.

6. Corn on the Cob - I know some people like to grill their corn on the cob but we prefer to steam it. To make corn on the cob in the pressure cooker, you just place the ears on top of the steam rack or a trivet, add a cup of water, and cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. I usually manually release the steam instead of letting it naturally release to avoid overcooking the corn.

We use the instant pot multiple times a week these days. I make hard boiled eggs every week as that's a great high protein snack or add-on to my breakfast. And this gadget is great for the summer months as it doesn't heat up your kitchen like the oven does!

Do you have an instant pot? Have you ever used a stove-top pressure cooker?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Currently: May

Hey, hey, it's already the last week of May! This month has been a little bit less busy for us as we have far fewer doctor appointments (yea!). But the month has still gone by fast! Next month is my last full month of maternity leave so I am hoping it goes a little bit more slowly! Here's what's currently going on in my world.

Reading: Love and Ruin by Paula McLain. This author wrote "The Paris Wife" which was about Ernest Hemingway's first marriage. Her latest novel is about his 3rd marriage. I was excited to check it out since I loved The Paris Wife but I'm not loving this one as much. It's worth finishing but not as great as her other book.

Loving:  how smiley Paul is! Someone once compared the early stages of infancy to having a "high maintenance gold fish" meaning that you do lots for them and don't get a whole lot back. But now that I'm getting smiles from him often it makes him seem a bit more interactive. Plus there's nothing quite like having your baby lock eyes with you and give you a big smile!










Feeling: pretty tired. Paul started waking up more often a couple of weeks ago so I'm getting less sleep as a result. He eats quite a bit when he wakes up during the night so I know those wake-ups are necessary at this point. But I'm hoping he goes back to waking up just once a night when I return to work. Otherwise I feel like I might be a bit of a zombie when I return to work!

Anticipating: this upcoming long weekend. Weekends don't necessarily feel all that different for me since my "boss" Paul doesn't give me weekends off. ;) But having Phil around makes a huge difference as it's nice to have another set of hands to help out! Plus Phil tends to get up with Paul at least one day of the weekend so I can stay in bed and get a bit more sleep.

Watching: Season 2 of The Crown. We only have one episode left. I'll be so sad when it's over as it's something that both Phil and I enjoy. It has given me a new level of respect for Queen Elizabeth II. I always thought of her as a stiff and unfriendly person but now that I understand her path to the throne and how long she's been queen (I didn't realize she was so young when she became queen) I hav ea new level of respect and compassion for her. I would not want her life! I'm glad that another season will be coming out in December!

Grateful: that we have air conditioning. It's going to be in the 90s for next several days so we will need to run the air conditioner. Before we had Paul we would often tough it out and deal with the heat as Phil and I aren't huge fans of air conditioning. But now that we have a baby, we run the air so that he will sleep ok at night. He gets hot so easily and needs to sleep in a swaddle sleep sack, which is pretty warm, so air conditioning is mandatory during these hot stretches!

Working: on Paul's sleep habits. Up until this past week we've always had to sway or bounce him to sleep but starting this week, I've been putting him down to sleep when he is drowsy but still awake. It's important for babies to learn how to put themselves to sleep so they aren't completely reliant on their parents. Plus it's jarring for a baby to fall asleep in mom or dad's arms and then wake up in a bassinet. I've read that it would be like me falling asleep in bed and waking up in the front yard. ;) So far he's done really well with falling asleep on his own.

Listening: to the podcast, "In the Dark," This is the 2nd season of this podcast. The first season focused on the abduction and murder of Jacob Wetterling. This season is about a man who has been tried for a crime 6 times. It's really fascinating so far - and disturbing. It makes you realize how shady police work can be. 

Wishing: for a night of uninterrupted sleep.  I know this is not likely to happen for quite awhile but a girl can dream!

What are you anticipating, grateful for and listening to?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Paul's First Road Trip + Lake Weekend

Paul and I headed out on our first road trip last Thursday. I was pretty nervous about how it would go as he doesn't really like his car seat and sometimes screams for the entire drive when we go to doctor appointments. But luckily he was an amazing traveler! Our first leg of the trip was a 3.5 hour drive to the town where my Grandma lives. He fussed a bit for the first 10 minutes and then slept until we were about 15 minutes from our destination. He cried/screamed for those last 15 minutes as he was hungry but we were so close that I didn't think it was worth it to pull over. When we got to my Grandma's, he gulped down 5.5 ounces and we headed to lunch where he drank 2 more ounces! This boy has finally found his appetite and is gaining weight like crazy!  Phew! Momma is so relieved.

After lunch, he fell asleep in the car on the way back to my Grandma's which worked out perfectly as he was sleepy when she held him. He's going through a stage where he is pretty terrified of anyone besides me or Phil. But he fell right back asleep so my Grandma got to rock a peaceful, happy baby.

I'm so thankful that my Grandma is alive and thriving. She will turn 95 this week but you wouldn't know it as she's in great health and is still very sharp. She emails and uses Facebook and has countless games of Words with Friends going on her computer. I can't seem to beat her at that game. She played Scrabble daily with her sister for many years so is wicked good at Scrabble!


The next leg of the trip was a one hour drive to my parents lake home. Luckily Paul slept for the entire drive! Woo hoo! My parents were so excited to see him as it had been almost a month since they had seen him at the baptism. He has changed quite a bit. He's smiling more and is overall more alert. His new thing is to clasp his hands together.

Sometimes it looks like he is praying.


Sometimes it looks like he's plotting how to take over the world.


He unfortunately continued to have "stranger danger" but my mom was still able to hold him quite a bit. We had a wonderful time at the lake. It's so peaceful there and it was great to have someone cooking for me. Plus my mom is always up for feeding Paul or changing his diaper! She also took care of him on Saturday morning so I could get some extra sleep which I really appreciated.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice. Before I saw the sunrise, I was kind of cranky about being up for the 3rd time during the night but once I saw the sunrise, I was thankful that baby Paul woke me up. :)


I think baby Paul is going to love lake weekends as much as his momma. We saw lots and lots of smiles that weekend.

Hopefully by our next trip he will be over this stranger danger phase. He's got 2 big fans who hate to see him cry when they hold him!


Our 2.5 hour drive back to Minneapolis also went smoothly. He slept for most of the drive and only cried for about 10 minutes. We'll take a couple more trips to the lake during my maternity leave so hopefully he continues to be such a great traveler!

Do you like road trips? I personally HATE driving but this trip was not bad at all since we could avoid traffic by leaving at off-peak times. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

My First Mother's Day!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend and that all the Mothers and Mothers-at-heart had a special day yesterday.

I was very fortunate and got pregnant super fast after getting married so I did not spend much of my married life yearning to be a mother. However, I did yearn to be a mother for many years before getting married and always wondered when and if it would ever happen for me. So it was very special to finally be able to celebrate Mother's Day for the first time! My heart really goes out to all those who are waiting for their prayer to be a mother to be answered.

I spent the weekend leading up to Mother's Day at my parents lake cabin (more on that later this week!) but came back on Saturday night so I could spend Mother's Day at home. My dad surprised me with flowers, though. It is a beautiful arrangement and I love that it's arranged in a tea cup and saucer!


When we got home on Saturday evening, I walked into a clean house! Cleaning the house was Phil's gift to me which is perfect because I really do not enjoy cleaning these days and have a hard time making time to clean. His other gift to me was getting up with Paul on Sunday morning so I could sleep for 2 more hours. Paul has been getting up more often at night so I was very appreciative of this gift as I've been feeling really tired lately!

When I was up for the day, I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and then headed to the grocery store. Phil offered to get groceries but grocery shopping alone now feels like a treat. Plus the store was really quiet on Sunday morning. I guess most moms didn't want to grocery shop on their special day. ;) I appreciated not having to wait in line to check out!

When I got home, Phil made brunch for us - scrambled eggs with hash browns topped with leftover pork from the take-out we'd gotten the night before. It was delicious!


After brunch, I headed to the local nursery by our house to pick up plants and seeds for my community garden plot. When I got to my plot I discovered that the water wasn't on yet. Womp womp. So I just put in my fence and turned over the dirt so that it would be ready to plant when the water is turned on later this week. I could have planted and brought some water over but that seemed like too much work and I didn't want to risk having any of my plants die as it's going to be pretty warm this week!

When I got home, Paul was still napping so I laid in our hammock for awhile and read my book, "The Garden of Small Beginnings." It's a light, fun read and perfect for a gardener as there is advice on gardening between each chapter!

Phil grilled chicken breasts for dinner that I had marinated in a Greek marinade. We had corn on the cob (which was surprisingly good!) and baked potatoes as sides. I forgot to take a picture but it was a delicious meal that only took about 15 minutes to make! Then I took Paul for a stroller walk in the hopes that he would take a short nap. He stayed awake for the whole ride even though he was yawning and rubbing his eyes.


When we got back, it was clear that he needed to go to bed as he was so tired so I gave him a bath.

Hanging out on the changing table before bath time
He LOVES bath time. He will go from meltdown mode to super happy as soon as he gets into his little whale-shaped tub!

I fed him a bottle and rocked him to sleep and he was down for the night around 8. He's starting to go to bed earlier lately which is nice as it gives me some time with Phil in the evening before I go to bed around 9:30. We watched an episode of The Crown. We are part way through season 2. I'm going to be so sad when it's over as we are loving the series. Season 3 comes out in December so we have a long wait for the next season!

I was in bed by 9:30 and fell fast asleep. One benefit of the exhausting newborn phase is that I fall asleep easily and tend to stay asleep until Paul's crying wakes me up. I know some moms struggle with insomnia when they have a newborn but so far that has not been the case for me and I hope I avoid it!

All in all, it was a lovely, quiet Mother's Day with lots of time spent outdoors. I couldn't have asked for a better day!