Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Our Pre-Halloween Weekend

We had a fun and festive pre-Halloween weekend! On Friday I took the day off so I could get some extra time with Paul. I'm taking every other Friday off for the remainder of the year. It's a great way to get extra time with my little buddy! I went grocery shopping with Paul for the first time in months. It went ok but he's still a little bit small to ride in the grocery cart.

Reading a book together. He really likes holding the book and tries to turn the pages

He did not like wearing this hat indoors, hence the glum look on his face!

Having some oatmeal cereal for lunch. He's getting better at eating solids but still prefers breast milk.

He loves playing with this shape-sorter toy. He is too young to sort the shapes but he likes pulling the shapes out of the bucket and then plays with the empty bucket.

Phil's mom came over in the afternoon and stayed for dinner. We grilled brats and asparagus.

Reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, a household favorite

On Saturday we got together with my college friends in the afternoon and played cards with another couple in the evening.

I made sure to dress Paul in a cute outfit for the get together. This outfit is from my friend Heidi. Is there anything cuter than baby jeans?

On Sunday, we got together with my mom's group for brunch. It was so fun to see all the babies in their costume. I can not get over how cute Paul looks in his hedgehog costume! That was the best $12 I have spent recently!!

My Halloween costume = over-tired mama

 I hate how wide my face looks in this photo but I need to be better about actually being in photos with Paul!
Later in the day we had friends over for our annual pumpkin carving party. Only 3 pumpkins were carved but it was still a fun night. We went "off brand" and carved a bat this year. I served 2 kinds of chili + apple crisp for dessert.

Paul loves being rough housed by daddy! He was laughing and squealing with delight!
It was a fun weekend, albeit way over-planned. Now I remember why I try to only plan one thing/day and ideally one thing/weekend. But every once in awhile I need to let go of my scheduling 'rules'!

Did you carve a pumpkin this year? Any fun Halloween plans?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What Has Surprised Me About Becoming a Mom

Becoming a parent is one of those things that you think a lot about in advance of it happening. But like many "big" life changes, it's not something you can truly prepare for. You learn by doing.

As I've adjusted to becoming a mom, I've tried to keep an open mind. But as a planner, I had of course tried to envision how I would feel and how my life would change. And there have been plenty of surprises along the way! Here are some of the biggest ones - with some photos of Paul sprinkled in!

We love fall walks!

1. I did not get bored during maternity leave. I had multiple people tell me they got bored during their maternity leave and felt really ready to go back to work. That was so not the case for me and truth be told, I wish I was still on maternity leave. Granted the lack of a schedule did bother me at times but I just learned to embrace it and accept that not all babies follow a schedule. It was hard to not be able to plan things but I knew my time at home with Paul was going to be brief so I embraced the days at home with him. I think part of the reason I didn't get bored was because we had so many doctor appointments between Paul and me. Also, joining the new mom group helped as that got us out of the house twice a week for 6 weeks in March/April and we continued to meet up with the other moms and babies about weekly until late May.

All smiles for daddy when he came home from work

2. I have no time to exercise. Oh my, I had unrealistic expectations about exercise during the first year of parenting. I have felt a sense of shame about not having time to exercise but when I examine my schedule, I realize it's just not something I will have time for until I stop pumping. I mentioned that I don't have time to exercise when I went to lunch with some female coworkers last month and they said, "of course you don't have time to exercise during the first year of parenting! We didn't either!" So it made me feel slightly better that women with a schedule similar to mine weren't able to find time to exercise either. I had (wrongly) been comparing my life to other moms with different work schedules/lengths of maternity leave. Comparison is the thief of joy but I need to remind myself of that over and over and over again. I'm reminding myself that this current stage is temporary and eventually I'll get some time back to myself in the evening when I am done pumping and/or when Paul sleeps better as then I won't need to go to bed so dang early (I strive to be in bed with lights out at 9 which means I need to start my bedtime routine by 8:30 to give myself time to wind down).

Petting our friend's new kitty who is VERY kid-friendly! Paul also met his first dog that day!

3. I miss my baby so much during the work day. I had no idea how hard it would be to be away from Paul for so many hours during the week. This is exacerbated by the fact that he doesn't nap well at daycare so needs to go to bed an hour after we get home. We wake him up about 10-15 minutes before Phil leaves to drop him off at daycare so I don't get much time with him before work either (Phil leaves the house at 6:55 so it doesn't make sense to wake him up any earlier than absolutely necessary!).

He doesn't like most solids that he tries but loved pickles from the first taste!

4. I don't feel like going out on dates with Phil. Everyone tells you that it's important to make time for your spouse when you are a parent and I whole-heartedly agree with this. Before we had Paul I thought we'd have regular dates, like maybe once a month or something? But the reality is that neither of us really want to go anywhere once Paul is in bed. We're tired and babysitters are expensive. The one we use is $15/hour. She's great and the peace of mind of having Paul in the care of a competent babysitter is worth every penny but we don't really want to pay $15/hour + the cost of a meal out. Instead we consider the time we spend together after Paul goes to bed our "quality time." Honestly, a lot of the time we are sitting side by side on the couch, watching something on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I think I might feel differently about this when Paul is in a more challenging stage, like around 2?? Who knows. It's hard to predict how we will feel in the future but for now, at home "dates" are our jam.

What's on the menu mom?

5. I don't need a break from Paul. This one ties into the lesson above. Because we have so little time with Paul and because he's in such a fun, happy stage, I don't need a 'break' from him. I felt differently when I was on maternity leave and was caring for him around the clock, 7 days a week. I welcomed the occasional night off from bedtime or getting out of the house to run errands, go to Target, or get a coffee. Now I don't want any time away from him - even for something relaxing like a massage. Not wanting to be away from Paul has made it hard for me to make time for friends, unless I can bring Paul with. I still value my friendships, but right now family time is more important than anything else. Luckily my friends are happy to have Paul join us for get togethers but that only works if we get together during the day since he goes to bed at 6pm.

Enjoying some playtime outside after work
6. Pumping/breast feeding does not result in losing all of the pregnancy weight. I thought that the calories burned from pumping would mean that I'd lose the pregnancy weight super fast - especially since I did not put much on in the first place. That has not been the case for me. I'm still carrying about 8 extra pounds. Some friends have told me they didn't lose the rest of the pregnancy weight until they stopped breast feeding/pumping so maybe that will be the case for me as well. I'm kind of giving myself a pass on focusing on losing the rest of the weight until I'm done pumping as then I will have more time to exercise and I won't have to worry about eating enough to sustain my milk supply.

What lessons have you learned after going through a big life change?

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Fall Weekend at the Lake

We missed out on Labor Day weekend at the lake as Paul's ear infection kept us home that weekend so we made up for it by going up to the lake this past weekend. We had THE BEST time. We enjoyed home cooked meals, my mom watched Paul in the mornings so Phil and I could sleep in, and we all got a kick out of watching Paul smile and play. Here's a picture-heavy recap!

On Friday morning we waited until it was time for his first nap of the day to leave for the lake. Paul read some books...

... and played his usual game of "take off my socks."

He fell asleep about 10 minutes into the drive but only slept for about 30 minutes. He was pretty happy during the drive, though, and fell back asleep for the last 40 minutes.

When we got to the lake, we had lunch and Paul chewed a honey crisp apple slice. This is his favorite 'teething toy.'

After lunch, Paul went down for a nap and Phil helped my dad rake and haul leaves out of the yard.

After Paul's nap, he played with grandma. I captured the sweetest moment between Paul and my mom!

He enjoyed being read to!

On Saturday, Phil helped my dad with a few things around the yard and Paul and I hung out indoors with my mom. When Phil and dad were done, they joined us upstairs where Paul was playing. We have wood floors in our house and since Paul rolls so much, you really have to watch him and keep moving him back onto the rug. The upstairs at my parents is carpeted so there is so much room for Paul to roll and play!

He's gotten much better at sitting up. He's still a little wobbly but he's made a lot of progress on this skill.

He's also getting closer to crawling! he can now get up on his hands and knees and rock back and forth. I think he'll be crawling within a month or so.

We tried giving Paul some leftover spaghetti. Don't let this look on his face fool you - he would not eat it. He's just NOT into solids.

My parents have so many toys that they have collected over the years. Some are toys that my siblings and I played with. Paul really enjoyed playing with the xylophone!

After Paul's 2nd nap of the day, we bundled him up and headed out for a walk. It was so chilly outside but it felt good to get some exercise. He stayed nice and toasty in his car seat. The car seat cover has a fleece blanket attached it. That is one of the best things I registered for!

Later that afternoon, we played a game of hand and foot. Paul napped for the first couple of hands and when he woke up, he sat in the high chair and played with an apple slice, cheerios and some spoons. I tried to get him to eat some cheerios but he had no interest. Go figure.

Deal me in! I'm ready to play!
 After our final hand, my dad fed him a bottle.

Big Paul and little Paul
 On Sunday we headed out after breakfast so we could be home in time to get things done around the house. Paul once again fell asleep within the first 10 minutes but he only slept for 45 minutes.

We came home to snow which was super depressing. Luckily it melted fast but I don't like seeing snow in October. It's been unseasonably cold so far this month but it's supposedly going to warm up later this week.

The time with my parents went way too fast! We won't see them again until Christmas but given how fast time flies, Christmas time will be here before we know it!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Currently: October

Oh how I love October! The leaves are starting to turn here and it's such a beautiful season! Here's what's currently going on in my world.

Reading: The Fifth Trimester which is about returning to work after having a baby. Admittedly I should have read this before I returned to work, not ~3 months into my return to work. But it has some good nuggets of perspective for me. I'm also reading Reading People by Anne Bogel (of the podcast What Should I Read Next) in the kindle ap. It's a summary of a bunch of different personality frameworks which is something I find super interesting. So far I'm familiar with all of the frameworks I've read about so far but it's still interesting to read about her insights on each framework.

Loving: the cooler weather. It's a little bit colder than I'd like but I still prefer this weather to the heat and humidity we experienced in early September. I liked hot weather a lot more before I had a baby, but since Paul came on the scene, give me cooler weather! He did like the heat or humidity and would whine or cry when we were outside. Now I just need my schedule to slow down so we can take lots of walks before the seriously cold weather hits in November/December.

Frustrated: that the ENT we saw yesterday wants Paul to have one more ear infection before they will put in tubes. I was hoping to get the clear for tubes so we can put an end to the endless ear infections he's been battling. He's basically had an ear infection on and off for two months and he's been on 3 rounds of antibiotics (which wreak havoc on his tummy). He still has fluid in his ears which is causing a slight loss of hearing and the ENT said that the pressure from the fluid is probably the culprit for the frequent nighttime wake ups (he's up as much as every 2 hours - a good night is 3 wake ups!). We see the ENT again in 6 weeks but in the mean time I made an appointment with his pediatrician for next week so she can check for an infection.

Feeling: tired. Interrupted sleep is hard on the body. I'm also learning that the quality of sleep is almost as important as the quantity of sleep. Some nights I barely get any deep or REM sleep according to my FitBit and those are the mornings when I feel the worst. But when you are waking up often, it's hard to get deep or REM sleep.

Anticipating: spending the weekend at my parents' lake home. Phil and I took Friday off so we can drive up that morning (and miss traffic - hooray!). We'll come back Sunday morning when Paul is ready for his first nap of the dady and hopefully miss traffic on the way back, too, and have time to get prepared for the week. My mom is great about taking Paul in the morning so we can get some extra sleep. I'm looking forward to quality time with my parents. Paul is in such a fun stage so they are going to have a blast with him. I'm also looking forward to lots of delicious food as my mom always plans great meals when we are there!

Grateful: that my company has a generous time off policy. I get 6 weeks! I used about 3 weeks to extend my maternity leave and I'm using the rest of the time off to get extra time with Paul as we are not taking any vacations until Paul is a little older and sleeping better at night/napping less. As I've said before, I'm really struggling with the return to work and how little time we see Paul during the week so I'm taking a couple of Fridays off each month for the rest of the year to get extra time with my little buddy.

Working: on some organizational projects around the house. We tackled our office in September (which tends to be a place that gets cluttered). Next up I am going to work on my closet as I need to be more realistic about what clothes currently fit.

Listening: to lots of podcasts, as usual!!

Wishing: for better sleep for all of us in the near future!

Bonus Paul Pics:

Waiting to see the ENT. He loves chewing on this feet of this "cow duck" (baby toys are so weird, by the way! This toy has the head of a cow and the body/legs of a duck)

He's getting better at sitting up on his own!

Checking out one of the Halloween books my friend Heidi sent (he's wearing a hand-me-down sleeper that says "Little Brother" - I guess he is technically Oscar's little brother)

He doesn't look like such a baby anymore - he's starting to look like a little boy!

Waiting in the car for a torrential downpour to let up before looking at a listing

Smiling at daddy - his favorite person

What are you anticipating and grateful for?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Feeding a Family: Part 2

I'm back with the 2nd part of my Feeding a Family series. In my last post I talked about the challenges of getting meals on the table; in this post I will talk about my solution. Our solution isn't anything revolutionary - I've just come up with a couple of systems/approaches to simply things and reduce the mental load of meal planning.


Because I sometimes struggle and feel overwhelmed by coming up with meal ideas, I'm using a "thematic" approach to meal planning. This helps guide my recipe search. Each week I need to make one recipe to bring for lunch and 3 recipes for dinners. Since I'm just cooking for 2 people, 3 dinners is plenty to last us through the week as we both like leftovers and Phil is fine with eating cereal one night a week if we don't have leftovers in the fridge.

I'm currently making a soup or chili to bring for lunches each week. I used to eat salads every day but in this current stage of life, salads are just too much work as there is a lot of slicing and dicing. I like that I can make a soup or chili and portion it out into 4 containers. That way I'm just grabbing a container in the morning versus assembling a salad each night. I know you can make salads ahead of time if you put the toppings at the bottom and the lettuce on top but I still feel like the lettuce gets a little "icky" by the fourth day.

For the 3 dinners, my current themes are tacos, stir fries, and curries. I don't intend to keep these themes indefinitely. They will change as we get sick of the themes but this at least gives me a starting point.

I then use my bullet journal to plan out the meals for the week. Again this is just a framework and helps me figure out what days I will make meals and what days we will have leftovers. Things definitely get shifted around depending on what is going on that night but it helps to have an idea of which nights I will be cooking.


I try to have all the recipes nailed down by Thursday night so I can start making a grocery list. Right now I do our grocery shopping on Saturday mornings when Paul is down for his nap. I'm considering trying a grocery delivery service as it would be nice to use the ~hour I spend grocery shopping doing meal prep but I haven't decided on a service to use yet and I'm concerned that the produce will be disappointing. But this is something I want to experiment with this winter.

Ideally, I would grocery shop and do as much meal prep (slicing and dicing) on Saturday and Sunday so that meals come together quickly on week nights. This past weekend we had a friend visiting so I did not do any meal prep and had to squeeze it by grocery shopping on Monday night and doing meal prep on Tuesday night. For the coming week I'm making stuffed pepper soup in the instant pot for lunches later in the week + over the weekend, and for dinners I'm making Indian butter chicken and potato curry in the instant pot and chicken and vegetable stir fry. I'm only making 2 dinners this week as we had some leftovers from last weekend and are going to grill another night this week.

The next step is to scan the recipes and figure out what you can do ahead of time. For this week's meals, I chopped up all of the chicken and vegetables, except the potatoes for the curry. Not pictured is the 3 cups of brown rice that I made in the instant pot for the stuffed pepper soup.

Now I have labeled baggies of items all set to go which should make meal prep pretty quick - especially since 2 of the recipes are instant pot recipes so require very little active time.

Future Enhancements

I received a lot of great suggestions in the comments from my last post that I want to incorporate in the future. For example, I'd like to set aside one weekend a month to make something for the freezer.


So there you have it - there's nothing revolutionary or novel in this approach but it's a system that we are going to experiment with. It will change as our evenings change. Eventually I'll probably have to make more than 3 dinners a week, especially when Paul starts to stay awake longer and eats meals with us. But for now, this system works!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Baby Paul: 7 Months

Our little guy is another month older! Each month with our little guy keeps getting better and better. There are challenges, for sure, like the chronic ear infections he's had and the resultant lack of sleep for Phil and I, but overall he's such a wonderful, happy, sweet baby.


- We tried solids this month with no success. He is just not ready so we have decided to take a break until he shows more interest. Our doctor said some babies just aren't ready for solids until they are as old as 8-9 months. We did get a lot of laughs out of his reactions to the things he tried, though!

Vanilla yogurt
Sweet potato
I gave him a piece of lettuce  with dressing on it from my salad one day - he was not impressed

 - We took him on his first hike this past weekend. It was pretty chilly - in the 40s - so we dressed him in a warm hat and mittens. He honestly did not love the hike. He was happy for about 2/3 of it maybe? I think he got too hot as we had a heavier coat over his outfit. And then at the end I think he was just tired. But we'll keep taking him on hikes but I don't think we'll go on another one until the spring as the weather has really turned here.

First family hike! This was toward the end so he was pretty tired and not in the mood to smile.

No pictures, mom! (He's sleeping in this photo)
- He also got his first tooth in mid-September and has a 2nd one coming in. The 2nd one seems to be bothering him more than the first tooth but it's hard to tell if his fussiness at night is from his teeth or his ears.

- We had Paul's ears re-checked on Friday and he has another ear infection. I had a feeling he did because he's been waking up more often and would cry when we laid him down after feeding him during the night. We got a referral to an ENT and he will likely get tubes put in. It's not ideal to have him undergo a procedure that requires him to be put under but he's basically had an ear infection since the 2nd week of August. The 2nd round of antibiotics was more effective and he's back on that drug but it's SO HARD on his little tummy. :( Despite being sick so much, he's been a pretty happy, smiley baby.


- He weighs 15 pounds and is up to 4th percentile for weight. Woo hoo!
- He's still in 3-6 month clothes. I guess one upside to his slow growth trajectory is that we get a lot of use out of every outfit we own!


- Ugh. Sleep. It's been a huge challenge and I don't see it improving until he is feeling better. :( I'm not comfortable letting him cry at night when he's sick as I hate the thought of him being in pain and being ignored. This past weekend he was up every 2 hours so Phil and I are feeling pretty bleary eyed. Hopefully his sleep starts to improve soon.


- Rolling around, jumping in the jumper, practicing sitting up, being read to and smiling at anyone and everyone he meets! He's such a happy little guy and he's in such a fun stage. Dad is still his favorite person!

Playing in his jumper

Working on sitting up - he's getting better but can't quite sit up unassisted.

Hanging out with his favorite person!

I think each month is just going to get better and better! I love seeing more and more of his personality coming through as he gets older. We are lucky to have such a sweet, smiley baby.