Monday, March 17, 2014

Lunch Box Pasta Salad

Now that Casho is in preschool, I am officially a lunch packer. I am sure this is news to no one, but packing a lunch day in and day out... its kinda challenging. Especially because as you know I try to avoid processed stuff when I can. That's not to say that the kid never gets crackers or a lara bar, but I try. And you know I am not a morning person.

Anyway here is our latest recipe (yes I say OUR because this is a collaborative effort between Cash and I). Its pathetically easy to make, and this recipe is for a whole batch you can keep in the fridge and plop in the lunch box all week.

This recipe is also super flexible... I will explain what we put in and why, but you can substitute to your hearts content. Making this more of an inspiration than a recipe I suppose... anyway...

1. Boil Pasta, drain, rinse with cold water until cool, drain.




You can literally use ANY pasta here. I like short noodles like rotini or penne because they make good finger food (I would like to note that my three year old does in fact know how to use a fork. Unfortunately "ability" and "desire" are not one in the same). If this was purely my recipe I probably would have chosen whole wheat but, Cash chose "rainbow noodles" because, duh.

2. In large bowl, add a can of chickpeas, about 1/4 cup chopped olives, and about 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half.






Or you know, whatever. I put the chickpeas in for a protein boost. Who doesn't love chickpeas? Plus, all you have to do is drain them and dump. So fantastically lazy. The olives go in for some healthy fat, and because they are tasty. Cassius LOVES olives of all sorts, but kalamatas are his fave so that's what I used here. I know olives can be hit-or-miss with kids... chopped up pickle might be a good flavorful replacement. Avocado would be a good healthy-fat swap, but wouldn't keep as long, unfortunately. If your child eats dairy, a handful of cheese cubes is another idea.

 As for the tomatoes Cash likes them and they add a little bit of veggie-ness. Steamed broccoli or chopped cucumber would be great options too. Again, if this were all me, I would have stuck with red tomatoes. Yellow tomatoes weird me out. Cash however thought they were THE COOLEST thing he had ever seen and was completely inflexible about their inclusion.


Well anyway, stir it up, and that's it! I don't include a dressing of any kind because the olives and tomatoes add enough flavor and since I know he is going to eat this will his fingers, I figure I will spare his preschool teachers the mess (you're welcome).



I stick that in his lunch box with maybe an apple, and sometimes something else exciting he picked from the store (this week he wanted those mini cans of V8).




Happy Lunching!!!





*PS this works for grown ups too you know - I had this in the fridge for Cash and caught Jack making himself a bowl & sprinkling some feta on top*



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love was such an easy game to play

Have you ever traveled so far, that you feel like your past is not your own? I am uncomfortable visiting some of my own memories. Like a stranger intruding on someone else's life. I don't belong there.

I'm not welcome.




Friday, January 24, 2014

Cash's Birth Story Part 2

Are you ready for an even more difficult to follow, emotionally scattered ride?


Going into all of this, Jack and I (both pretty squeamish) agreed that we did not want to see anything bloody or guts-y. He was adamantly anti-cord cutting. We had some kind of plan of staring into each others eyes, or something equally stupid, that got thrown out the window as soon as I went into shock and delivered a baby in total bad-ass delirium. Apparently at some point, as a form of encouragement, a nurse offered me a mirror and I shouted "god, no!" or something like that. So I held up my end of the bargain. Jack however succumbed to curiosity and told me it was the most insanely awesome thing he had ever seen, like a star exploding in space or something. He even said he would have cut the cord, had Cash not been strangled by it, making it an emergency procedure that had to be done by the doctor.

Due to the cord being wrapped around his neck, they didn't lay Cassius on my chest like a nurse had suggested during the morphine fiasco. They whisked him instantly away, after that brief peek. So I didn't see his face, and I didn't see his fingers or toes. Just a baby. A person. A freaking HUMAN BEING. Like. With eyeballs, and a central nervous system, and thought patterns and a conscience and a respiratory system holy crap. I did that.

I DID THAT.

Because this is what becoming a mother does to you, or, did to me, I am going to go totally into la-la-land here and you can follow me down the rabbit hole if you please. Do you ever think about how incredible life is? I don't mean each of our lives independently necessarily but, like, life itself. I am not a religious person but I get why people believe in a higher power because you get this sense of life being this totally fluid continuous experience that you are only a speck of, but also a channel of, and you realize it doesn't start with being born and it doesn't end with dying.

I think about how every breath we take, we are inhaling these particles. These microscopic pieces of history. Of everyone and everything that has ever lived or died. Some hero of the civil war could have died on the battlefield, clutching a romantic love letter (this is of course how I picture it) and then later, much much later, someone plants potatoes in that field. And those get made into potato chips. Which my mother enjoys on a warm, late summer evening, a few days before she finds out she is pregnant with me.

We are all here on this planet just getting recycled and reborn and I am all for believing what ever you want but you don't even have to "believe" this I mean, it is science and it is real and its happening and its incredible.

While I laid there in the bed, thinking about all of this and also about how freaking tired I was, Jack was having an experience of his own. He followed Cash as the team of doctors and nurses whisked him away. He held his hand. When Cassius cried, Jack would talk softly to him, and Cash would stop, his bleary eyes searching for the familiar voice.

Its been said that a woman becomes a mother once she becomes pregnant and a man becomes a father once his child is born. I am never a fan of time-honored generalizations, but in this case, Jack says for him it was pretty true. Jack was incredible throughout my entire pregnancy. He waited on me hand and foot, was there with me at every possible check up, even the boring ones he didn't really need to attend. He kept the house stocked with my latest cravings and nearly assaulted a Taco Bell employee who made my cry by putting sour cream on my burrito. All of that he says, for me. Where I stayed up reading What To Expect When You're Expecting for Cassius, he stayed up reading it for me. In the hospital room, I had sweaty palms when Cash's heart monitor would drop, Jack had sweaty palms when I threw up 16 ounces of cranberry juice like a low budget reenactment of The Exorcist.

Cassius was a stranger, until the moment he wasn't. Until the exact second the universe exploded and Jack saw his son for the first time. And all the emotions I had gradually worked my way up to over the course of nine months got dumped on Jacks head like a bucket of cold water.

Finally, after a round of hurried tests confirmed that Cassius was healthy and thriving and no worse for his mildly traumatic birth, they brought him to me. And the funny thing is, my first thought was, hey, I know you! And he looked at me, and he looked at Jack, with this look as if to say, oh, you guys!



He was his regular, chill self from the very beginning. As long as he was in my arms, and had a hold of Jack's hand, he was cool with whatever.




All of the grandparents got to oooh and ahhh over him.






And I am eternally grateful to whoever took the photo above ^. Because it is the only picture I got of that day that has Jack in it (since he was the camera man) and I can't even explain how perfectly it captures who he was that day. Can't be bothered to look at the camera. Look at what is right here! I've said before, the thing I love MOST about Jack, is something I didn't even know about him until that day. Something I think he didn't even know about himself.

Oh and. Remember how I talked about hilarious sitcom style events, and how there were a few? Can't forget this one.

So Cash was born at 2:02 am. Lots of rejoicing and baby passing and photo taking followed. I am not sure what time I FINALLY got to fall asleep (the absolute most needed, and earned, sleep of my life) but I was NOT prepared to wake up at 6am. To the sound of banging and grunting.

My mom and Jack were in the room with me, and my newest of newborn babies. We were all sleeping, and then awakened by a maintenance worker having a very loud and apparently arduous experience in the bathroom. He comes shuffling out, and says to me, I swear to god, FOUR HOURS after giving birth "So what did you flush down the toilet!?" Considering that I had been catheterized for the past 12 hours and hadn't eaten in nearly 36, I hadn't personally even seen the inside of that bathroom.

We assure him we have no idea what he is talking about. He scoffs and leaves, and then returns with more tools. Hooray! Suddenly from the bathroom comes the most outrageous, unbelievable grunting I have ever heard. If I were to describe the sounds he was making it would be completely NSFW so suffice to say it was absolutely hilarious. Until he shouted an obscenity. And then water started pouring out into my hospital room.





The really sad news is that the solution to this problem was to move me out of the sweet corner room with the great views and tempurpedic bed to a new room. It was smaller. It had one window, about three inches from which was a brick wall. Oh and my new bed felt like an inflatable rubber pool raft.

But, I had this guy to keep me company:



So it was alright.

****************************************

Before I had Cassius, I thought, motherhood won't change me. How silly when women say becoming mothers totally transformed their lives. That isn't going to change who I am.

All of this thought, in the most condescending way possible, by someone who didn't know who in the hell she was. By someone who looked in the mirror (at her very young and fantastically lovely body) and saw a thousand flaws stitched together in the shape of a human being.

And then, at 2:02 am on a Saturday in January, I was struck by lightning, and instead of seeing my flaws in the mirror, I saw my incredible, unfathomable power in the shape of a 7 pound baby boy. The nurse held him up for me, just for a flash, for a second. The longest shortest moment of my entire life.

I am a badass. I am the hand of mother nature. It is true that motherhood did not change me. It did not make me these things. But it did give me the eyes to see it. I am the same. But I am new. I have no fear when it comes to advocating for my child. I have a new depth of understanding for nature. I have a new humility for both the power and fragility of human life. Pregnancy was something I never really wanted to experience, but in my case, I am glad I did. I needed it. Now, when I go bathing suit shopping with my new mom-body, which according to a magazine editor is probably much less great than it was previously, all I see is awesomeness. Look at those childbearing hips! I am a goddess! Basically this:

Yes. That is a man blowing into a conch shell in my honor.


I often joke that childbirth made me a feminist. Which is kind of a joke but also kind of not even a big enough word. There were a lot of reasons I didn't love being pregnant, but its hard not to feel important when there is a human being growing inside of your body. Just populating the earth over here! Continuing the human race, no big deal! Magic, cosmic stuff your mortal brain can't comprehend happenin' in my abdomen, don't worry about it! Make that bagel amazing, because I will be using it to create a human mind and personality, no stress! Its no wonder that in ages before people decided to start referring to god as "he", giving men an embarrassing superiority complex that makes no sense in the natural world, dudes spent their days mindlessly whittling Beyonce-esqe lady figures and sketching boobs on cave walls. "I should probably go hunting/gathering right now, but all I can think about is how awesome women are." 

Exactly.

But then again, guys are okay too.








Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cash's Birth Story

Going back to my goal of writing all about Cash's life up to age 2, here is his birth story. I know I am telling all of these stories out of order, but hey. I want to write it down before I forget any more than I already probably have. So this is painfully long, and probably mostly boring, but I am writing it for me and Jack and maybe someday for Cash. And if you want to read it, I hope you enjoy it too. Personally I LOVE reading birth stories because they are all unique and incredible and life changing and emotionally charged like nothing else that can be experienced.

So, to set the scene, I looked like this:


(Basically I was what grapefruits told stories about to scare each other around the campfire.)


Up through month eight I was still rocking the charming "swallowed a basketball" look, but now I had officially reached "beached whale" status. It was Friday morning, and I was a week overdue with a baby everyone had cruelly predicted would come early. This was my first baby. I knew nothing. I believed them.

Of course at this point, I didn't actually believe I would be having a baby at all. Personally I think they should get rid of "due dates" and give you a "due range". Like, "You are due around the end of December, or beginning of January!" "Oh, okay!" I would say. But they don't do that. They say "You are due January first!". And you fixate on that day unhealthily. You think about it. You say it a thousand times to every person who asks. And when, day after day your baby doesn't come "early" as predicted, you focus on it more and more. (By "you", of course, I mean "me"). It becomes the light at the end of the tunnel. January first. January first. January first.

And when that day comes and goes, you feel a little like I imagine the doomsday people must feel, when after selling all of their worldly possessions and taking to the streets with signs to warn the general populace of the impending end of the world, the day comes and goes without being sucked up to heaven, or whatever it is that's supposed to happen. I felt confused and bewildered, let down, disenchanted, disappointed, distraught, and a little like maybe this means I will just be pregnant forever and ever and never have this baby ever at all. A sane person would say, well this must just means I will be having the baby a in a few days. But a severely pregnant woman is not a sane person. And so I gave up hope of ever being not-pregnant again.

Here is a Facebook post from Jan 4:

Long walk, check. JalapeƱo chips, check. Assorted other random old wives tales, done and done. Unpleasant scrapey procedure at docs today - done. CHILD I HAVE GIVEN YOU EVERY OPPORTUNITY. I am glad my uterus is comfortable, but seriously - I carried you around and drank virgin daquieries for 9+ months, you come out now and repay me with cuteness.

Out of pity (I am assuming) my sweet doctor arranged for me to be induced on Saturday, January 8th. A tiny new light began to flicker at the end of the tunnel. Getting induced wasn't my first choice of course, but by now it was sounding pretty appealing since obviously this baby was not coming out on his own. Or so I was thinking the late morning of Friday, January 7th, when I started to feel a little cramp in my side.

Jack and I were discussing biscuits and gravy. Which you may or may not know is his favorite food on the planet. His parents had invited us over for brunch, and we were ready to go, keys in hand, when I felt another little cramp. We decided to wait and do some timing, and things were pretty all over the place, 15 minutes, 9 minutes, 13 minutes.

"I don't know..." I said, "Maybe we should wait here for a little bit."
"But, its biscuits and gravy! You'll be fine."
"We are five minutes away from the hospital, if we go to your parents we will be 45 minutes away from the hospital. Do you think that's really a good idea?"
"I can make it in 30"
"I dont know."
"25"
"Ohh, there's another one."
"You know you aren't having the baby today. You are having him tomorrow, at the scheduled time."
"Yeah you're right. Let's go."
"Okay."
"But call the doctor first."

The doctor said, come in when the contractions have been no more than five minutes apart for an hour. Well, wouldn't you know, Cash must have been listening because I didn't have another single contraction less than five minutes apart. It was five minutes or less from the time Jack hung up the phone. And they were starting to hurt! And worse than they were starting to hurt, my back was really starting to hurt. This is about the time I think that things shifted from "biscuits and gravy mode" to "holy crap mode". Of course we hadn't packed our hospital bag. I know most mothers have these prepped weeks in advance but I am a professional procrastinator and I KNEW I wasn't going to need it until the next day. While I groaned and whimpered, Jack rushed around the house keystone cops style throwing random things, many of which would prove to be useless, into the hospital bag. Then, running out to the car with it, he fell down the stairs. No I am not kidding.

Here is what I put on Facebook:

I'm having strong contractions and Jack just fell down the stairs. Do they make double-wide ambulances? (Just kidding, he landed on his butt, hes ok)

At this point it felt like a very heavy person was sitting on my back, so Jack filled up the tub with nice hot water and kindly obliged my constant "How much longer until we can go to hospital!?" badgering. Finally the pain was so bad, and the contractions felt so often, I said "GET UP WE ARE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL" and he said "Well honey, you are doing so good, its been 45 minutes so you only have to wait 15 more" and I said "CALL THEM AND TELL THEM WE ARE COMING RIGHT NOW" and he wisely said "Okay" and called them and told them we were coming right now.

The car ride was 5 minutes, if Jack tells the story 3, but to me it felt long and meandering and bumpy and I started to cry. It was the dead of winter. Wet hair from the tub was crystallizing to my head before the cars heater had a chance to kick on. I was in pain and scared and most of all pretty overwhelmed that this was all happening so fast and unexpected, long after I had given up on either fast OR unexpected.

A nurse from UofM rolled me through the doors and down the halls in a wheel chair, passing me off to Jack once we arrived at the intake desk of the labor area, which is where the first of several hilarious universe skits would take place. Those moments where you feel like you are living in a scripted sitcom, and you have nothing left to do but laugh. Here I am, a wet, swollen, crying mess in a wheelchair, being pushed by a man limping from having fallen down the stairs. Standing at the desk  in front of me is a woman who looks like she just arrived for the cover shoot of Pregnancy magazine. Her hair was done. Her makeup was done. She had beautiful matching luggage. She was standing at the desk chatting with the intake ladies, holding hands with her husband and sneaking loving glances at him. It looked like two people checking into their honeymoon suite.

Anyway, thanks for the laugh, universe.

Fast forward to the room where you put the paper gown on and pee in the cup. The nurse did a quick ultrasound and determined the cause of my horrible back pain - back labor! If you don't know what that means (I didn't) it means your baby is backwards. Not upside down like breech, but turned 180 so his head was facing the same direction as mine. The good news is that unlike breech, it typically doesn't complicate birth, but the bad news is it causes the baby's spine to grind against yours every time you have a contraction and it hurts like hell.

Prior to this moment, I had been on the fence about pain meds. I was hoping for a natural birth, but, like always, prepared to go with the flow and do whatever felt right at the moment. At this moment, not feeling like my spine was going to snap in half anymore felt the most "right" and the nurse assured me she would send someone to my room with an epidural.

My room was actually pretty nice. It was a big corner room with a window on each of the outside walls, both of which had beautiful views. The bed itself felt like tempurpedic memory foam, and I remember remarking to Jack that it was more comfortable than our mattress at home. I got hooked up to all the fun monitors that show your contractions and the baby's heart beat and distracted myself by watching them while I waited for the epidural. At this point, it was about 4 o'clock. Jack had called our parents already. We were waiting.

A nurse walked in to inform me that only one person in the hospital at that moment could do an epidural, and he was occupied. "We can give you morphine for the time being if you would like" she said.

I think I said something along the lines of "YES".

Around this time our parents started arriving, all with harrowing tales of rushing in the dark, in a snowstorm (I guess one had started) through the slippery winding one way streets of Ann Arbor.

The morphine didn't work as great as I had hoped, but it took the edge off enough that I suddenly realized I was starving. I hadn't eaten anything since dinner the night before (thanks to the whole biscuits and gravy fiasco) and it was almost dinner time again. Pregnant ladies do NOT forget to eat, so this really is the truest proof of how much pain I had been in. You have to have clear fluids once you are officially "In Labor" so dinner was a styrofoam cup of vegetable broth which, thanks to the morphine, I promptly threw up all over the place. After that, I was still very hungry, but as you can imagine not really in the mood for more vegetable broth, so I opted for cranberry juice which sadly also ended up spending more time in a bucket than in my stomach. After that I gave up. Which was fine because that was about the time Ryan Gosling came riding into my room on the back of a unicorn.


Hey Girl. Heard you needed an epidural.


After that, life was sunshine and roses and I even fell asleep for a while. All the parents took turns filtering in and chatting with me. My only real complaint at this point is that I felt (hilariously) like I was stuck in the labor room, missing out on all the "fun" in the waiting room, where Jack kept slipping off to. Of course everyone out there was bored and anxious and desperate to know what was going on with me, but that isn't how it felt at the time. I pictured them all laughing and smoking cigars or something. I don't know.

Somewhere around midnight, we noticed on the monitors that when I would have a contraction, Cash's heart rate would drop. It didn't seem very much at first, but slowly got worse and worse. I would panic and send Jack out into the hallway. He would return saying the nurses were watching it and they say everything is fine. But in his eyes I could see he was terrified, and I was terrified, and we would make choppy conversation for as long as we could until I would beg him to go again.

One o'clock rounded the corner. To distract myself from Cash's heart-rate monitor, I would watch my contractions. These same contractions that were choking the breath out of me a few hours before, were now nothing more than a blip on a monitor. And then I felt one. Just a little bit. I thought it was weird, but not worth mentioning. Until I felt the next one. And then the one after that actually hurt. And then the one after that HURT. "Get the doctor, tell them I need more medicine!" I shouted at Jack. And suddenly, out of the blue, like a snap, I was in the worst pain of my life. I gasped and rolled onto my knees and it literally felt like someone was reaching into my back and trying to pull out my spine. I thought my back was going to break and I am telling you, that is not an exaggeration. I felt like I was trying to call for help but the words wouldn't come out.

I waited what felt like an agonizingly long time for the doctor to arrive. Jack swears it was less than two minutes. I guess I believe him.

I heard Jack say "She needs more medicine."

I heard the doctor day "Sorry. She's dilated to 10cm. Its baby time."


That is where my memory, as in, the clear, concise memory of the following events, ends. I felt like the lights were flickering. Everything I remember after that is like a dream, or, an out-of-body experience. My own voice was talking to me, loudly, in my head. So loud I couldn't really hear anything else. And I was telling me to breathe, and stay calm, and do not pass out. Which is all I really wanted to do.

Suddenly all the lights seemed really bright and I wasn't sure where exactly I was or who was around me. They put an oxygen mask over my face. I looked up and I saw Jack. Everything else was fuzzy and I can't really remember what else I saw, but I remember I kept looking up at Jack, who was holding my hand. He was my bearing. He was my north star. I was lost and he was there, reminding me where I was. I can't really remember anything I heard besides my own voice in my head. I don't even remember the pain anymore after that either. It was like a dream. There was no time or space, and no real narrative. Just choppy bits of other faces and voices scattered around my own thoughts.

I remember thinking, what if I can't? What if I can't? What if I can't have a baby? What if I am not strong enough or smart enough? What happens then? What if I just can't do it? What is Plan B? Is it too late to back out of this whole thing?

It was like that moment when you change your mind and decide actually you would NOT like to ride the roller coaster, except you are already on it and it has already started moving. It was like that except times a hundred thousand.

And then, I heard one of the only other voices I remember hearing during that time. It was the doctor. He said:

"The cord is around his neck. You are too far along for a C-section. He needs to come out now."

I will never forget that moment. The first moment I was no longer Angel, and instead I was The Grizzly Bear. I forgot about being afraid. I forgot about being insecure. I forgot about self doubt. I forgot about being human.

I was a Bear. I was a Mountain. I was a Hurricane. I was Rage. I was Strength. I was The Wind. I was A Storm on the ocean. I was Mother Earth.


"Look!" Cried a grinning nurse. Her voice pierced the haze around me, and instantly, it was as if I woke up. My vision sharpened, and I saw her. 


And she was holding my son.







*To Be Continued*













Baby Registry Do-Over

I have not posted in about six months. This is because my blog was mostly a way for me to keep myself sane while I lived halfway across the country from everyone I knew. And now that I am back in the Mitten, I have been crazy-person busy and just a whole different kind of insane that blogging can’t cure. Good insane though, no worries.

But I was just thinking about this the other day, and so, I am going to throw it all out there before I forget it.

When I was pregnant with Cassius, Jack and I were total parenting noobs. We were both the “babies” of our respective families, and among the very first of our friends to become mom & dad. This means we had literally no idea what we were doing whatsoever, and if it wasn’t for What To Expect When You’re Expecting we would probably still be in the hospital delivery room today, trying to figure out how to button a onesie.

In the grand scheme of life, some things are best learned in practice, and I wouldn’t change anything, even the first three times we rushed him to the doctors for sneezing. But I do wish sometimes I could hit the rewind button and re-think some of the GEAR and PREP and since I can’t, let me at least pass these hard-learned lessons on to you.




1. I wouldn’t register at Target. Or Wal-Mart or Babies R Us. There are really cool “online registries” (like myregistry.com) you can use these days that let you register things from multiple sites (you know, all the crap you have been pinning on Pinterest). That way you can register for EXACTLY what you want, instead of just what they have at one store. Your thoughtful shower guests will probably get a better price, and they won’t have to schlep their butts to the store. I also think that skipping around the aisles with the registry gun convinces you to register for a bunch of stuff you never would have thought of, but suddenly think you need once you see it. I am sure that is their goal, actually!

And for those who want to ohh and ahh over baby clothes they can touch and snuggle before buying? They are going to do that anyway, whether you register for clothes or not. In fact, don’t. People are just going to go to the store they want and buy what they think is cute anyway. Which makes for the few “surprise” items at your shower, and you will love it, I promise.


2. I would buy these bottles. A good tip I got from someone when I was expecting was “only buy two bottles”. I was skeptical, but since I planned on mostly breastfeeding I thought “what can it hurt, I can always buy more later.” Cash ended up exclusively formula fed, and the two bottles were still plenty. You have to wash more often, but you only have to wash one. Trust me, if you buy ten bottles, in your delirious sleep deprived newborn state, you will use them all and find yourself sobbing at 3 am-as you scrub out 10 bottles. Which you will then have to store somewhere. Don’t do it.

I bought some plastic bottles that were supposed to be good for colic. Which was fine except Cash never got colic, and halfway through his bottle drinking phase (about 6 months) we had to throw those out and buy new ones because like all things plastic, they eventually just wouldn’t really get “clean” anymore. Then six months after that, we threw those out too. If I could go back, I would go glass, and I am OBSESSED with these bottles. They start as a baby bottle, graduate to a sippy cup, and eventually are just a water bottle. That’s right. Your kid can use these into his/her old age if desired. Totally sustainable and awesome. If you buy these for your baby, I am retroactively jealous.













3. I would not get a baby bathtub. I had one. It came with an adorable little hammock for newborns, plus a padded seat on one side for infants and a seat on the other side for toddlers. “Think how much use I will get from this!” I thought. Now take a minute and think of any toddler you have ever known to use a baby bathtub, and go ahead and start laughing. I did like it in the first few months when he was really small, but I didn’t NEED it. I did end up reselling it but, it was just one more piece of plastic I wish I didn’t introduce into the world (or have to store in my house somewhere).

You may not realize, but you already have a baby bathtub in your house. Its called a sink. No I am not kidding, your grandmother did in fact know what she was doing. In the first few weeks when your baby can not be submerged (this is until their umbilical cord comes off), set them on a soft warm wet towel in the sink and give them a nice warm washcloth sponge bath. This is exactly what you are doing in the little hammock of the baby bathtub. After that, put them in water in the sink. Still exactly the same thing as the baby bathtub. You’ll be over the baby bathtub in no time anyway. Real bathtub time comes quick.



4. I wouldn't stress so much about the nursery. I had nesting fever big time, and all of my hopes and dreams were crushed when Cash came home to a boring unpainted nursery with no crib. Basically “Call CPS” I thought. But the reality is that your baby won’t sleep in the nursery for the first few weeks/months anyway. For Cash it was 3 months in the bassinet in our room. For some kids its longer. And once they get into the room? They really, really don’t care what color its painted.

If you need to nest and do that nursery, go for it, I am not telling you no. All I am saying is yes, they do still let you take your baby home from the hospital even if you have not put up a rubber ducky wallpaper border yet. And waiting those three extra months, we found an AMAZING deal on a crib that we would have missed out on had we rushed things. (Which reminds me, we are totally ready to pass that great deal along, to anyone interested!)



5. I would give cloth diapering a better go. I did have some cloth diapers, but that did not last for long. We gave up on like, day two. From what I hear now, this is common. The newborn phase (about the first three months) is the hardest for cloth diapering. Your baby needs a diaper change like 37 times a day (only a very slight exaggeration) and the cloth diapers are hard to maneuver around their teeny tiny little bodies. Plus, changing that many cloth diapers means you also have to WASH that many cloth diapers. You will hear the disposables calling out to you like a siren, ready to crash your cloth diapering ship on the rocky shore.

Since that time, I have seen a lot of great tutorials online for how to survive the newborn phase with cloth. If I could go back, I think I might even just stick with disposables for the first three months, and then phase into cloth. Either way I would try harder, for my wallet, for the environment, and to keep chemicals off that sweet little baby bum.



Some things you just won’t be able to predict. I registered for a bunch of breast-feeding related things (like milk storage bags) that I ended up not needing. They went along to new homes, and I was grateful for them, even though I didn’t end up needing them after all. Cash loved his swing and bouncer, but I hear that many babies have a strong preference for one or the other, which again, you won’t know until baby arrives. If I could do over, I would get those from a Mom2Mom sale or resale shop. I didn’t even know such a thing existed when I was pregnant with Cash. But when I saw his still very nice and functioning swing and bouncer sold for half price to a savvy pregnant lady a couple years later, I couldn’t help but think, dang, could have been me!

So, in imaginary re-wind land, here is how I would do it today. This is based on what I had and loved, and what I wish I had:



Registry Items:

Feeding: 2 Lifefactory bottles, a set of stage 1, 2, & 3 nipples, plus sippy tops & caps:

Diapering: A nice set of cloth diapers, a big pack of natural disposable diapers in size newborn and 1, & fragrance free wipes in the largest possible size:
 

Bedding: Some pretty fitted crib sheets & a mesh bumper. (Don't register for a pretty bedding set. Luckily someone gave me this advice. They are SIDS hazard and your baby will not be able to sleep with them. Waste of $. Literally a fitted crib sheet and mesh bumper is all you can put in the crib.)




Toiletries: Baby safe Q-Tips, A&D ointment (< this is all you need for diaper rash. Don't bother with any of the other white messy crap), Everyday Shea bubble bath (I swear by this stuff for Casho's super sensitive skin, he still uses it. A bottle is about $10 but you only need a cap-full per bath so it lasts forever. Plus its fair trade and some of the proceeds go towards a good cause.)



A few nice swaddle blankets. We had cheapies from Target and they worked just fine, and doubled as "receiving blankets" (that is code for "vomit wipers"). But I have seen some really nice ones around that I just might have registered for had I known about them. Like these Aden & Anais muslin ones I keep seeing everywhere:




Big Stuff: Full disclosure, if I could do over, I would get all the big stuff second hand (aside from the carseat, of course!). Babies grow out of this stuff so quick you can get it all practically new for half price or less. We got some really beautiful brand new things from our family and actually a lot of it is being used by other family members now so, I don't want to make it sound like it wasn't loved or used or appreciated. But, older and wiser now, this is what I would recommend finding second hand:

A bouncer, a swing, a stroller (find one that your carseat can snap into), those circle shaped things babies sit in and play, a pack & play (aka playpen), crib & mattress. Find a pack & play that has a bassinet attachment. We had one and it was awesome, and you know, saves you from having to buy a bassinet. We never needed a baby monitor in our tiny apartments, but if you are going to be on a different floor than your baby, you might want one. Oh, and you're not going to be able to use a highchair until your child is like 9 months old anyway. So you don't need one before s/he is born, and when you do need one, second hand is the way to go.

$100 new. $30 resale. Silence: Priceless.

What do you guys think? Anything you wish you had registered for? Probably lots of stuff you did register for only to discover you didn't need at all? Discuss.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

:)

Running around Michigan like a chicken with my head cut off. Funny to go from so bored and lonely all the time, to so busy that we have been here almost a month (SERIOUSLY!? A MONTH!?) and we haven't even unpacked everything. I am especially nutso on the weekend since most of my friends seemed to have picked up grown up M-F jobs while I was gone. Plus two big family reunions one weekend after the next. And after that was a birthday party.

I miss the east coast I do. I miss my one and only friend there (miss you, Rachael!). But it feels so good to be back and totally surrounded by the people I love to the point that I am thinking Man I could use a second alone! The irony of this is not lost on me, and I am a happy lady.




Thursday, August 15, 2013

L is for the way you look at me

So, I read this article today that a friend posted on Facebook. And I feel like I want to talk about it.

Its about relationships, basically, and how things that seem normal can be really toxic. Fun to read and say "I did that... I do that... I would never do that!" lol.

So first off, I will just apologize to everyone I dated before Jack. Not that you all we're saints, but who's keeping score. I know I was an emotional hot mess for a very long time, and I have always found it easier remember how I was wronged. But the happier and more settled I feel in my life now, the more those wrongs feel like swift kicks to the ass in the right direction, so I guess I owe you an apology and a thank you. Sorry. Thank you.

I am thinking about relationships a lot lately too, because I have (unfortunately) watched so many fall apart, especially in the last few years. Even when you are happy in your own life, it leaves you feeling a bit dazed and nervous and sad and worried. Or maybe that's just me. I live with no delusion that all relationships last forever, or that its the end of the world when one doesn't. People grow and change and I do think life is too short to trudge unhappily through it for the rest of your days for the sake of pride or whatever else. On the other hand, sometimes some unhappy trudging is a necessary part of long term happiness. Both in relationships and every other aspect of life.

I dont know how you tell the difference, I think the answer is just in your heart. For Jack and I, the beginning of our relationship was a disaster. A lot of it was horrible and tense and we did everything on that list above and then some, let me tell you. There was no cheating or violence or serious deal breakers, but there was everything else in abundance. Distrust, anger, resentment. Our problem was, truly, ourselves. We both could have benefited greatly from a year of being alone and figuring ourselves out. Instead we got a couple years of being together and duking it out. Funny thing is, we got the same results. We were fortunate enough that as we grew and changed, we grew towards each other, instead of apart. Slowly, we put our toes in the water. I believe wholeheartedly that you get out of a relationship what you put in. If you want to be loved, trusted and respected, you HAVE TO love, trust, and respect. And not just say it. Do it. Prove it.

We are no relationship experts, and who knows what the future holds. I would say we are like, relationship sophomores. I still put the toilet paper on the back of the toilet instead of on the holder even though I know it drives Jack crazy, and I still stomp and cry when I don't get my way. I do! Jack still develops tourettes when you make simple driving suggestions like "should we turn here?" (auto reply "DO NOT TELL ME HOW TO F@CKING DRIVE!!!"). But we still love each other. We still want to be together, even after one or both of us erupts in a fit of emotional rage. In fact, it keeps things spicy. So if anyone wants advice from a couple who has been through the storm and come out on the other side (but still has a long long way to go) these are the big lessons we have learned:

1. Say what you are thinking. I know "communicate" its the standard line here, but its so, so, so so sosososo true. My god, just try it! Its so liberating to say "I am mad at you for coming home late and not calling first." Do you know how much better it feels to just say that, and get it off your chest, instead of stewing and storming and making snippy passive aggressive remarks for the next week? IT FEELS SO GOOD. And in a weird way, it feels good to get that back. Its so much nicer to have Jack say "You know what, you reall hurt my feelings when you said that.". There it is. Its in the open. I don't have to wonder Jack seems upset about something, I wonder what it is. Tension tension tension. There it is. Its out and it can be discussed and case closed. Don't "get even"... get it out in the open.

2. Respect. The other day someone told me that Jack and I really seem to respect each other, which my friends is a huge compliment to me. Because this is a big part of our relationship that we work hard on everyday. It is work, but its rewarding. We don't agree on everything but we respect each other, as people, as parents, as partners. It is so important not to demean or belittle the other person, not to talk bad about them to or in front of others. Give eye contact, listen to their ideas, use manners. Jack and I talked once about how sometimes in a relationship you treat strangers on the street better than the person you supposedly love! Obviously when you spend so much time with someone you get comfortable with them, which isn't bad. Just make sure you don't get so comfortable that you stop caring.

3. Fight for the relationship. You're going to fight. You will. We do. Everyone does. No two people in the history of time agreed on every single aspect of life. And when you live with someone, they are eventually going to start annoying the crap out of you. That's life. You are going to get stressed, and moody, and so will they. And sometimes all of these things come together in big emotional mega storm and someone is going to throw a remote at the wall. You will yell and stomp and say mean things you don't mean. But in the back of your mind remember to fight for the relationship, not against it. Fight to get your emotions out, fight to express how you feel, fight to understand how the other person feels. Fight to get everything out on the table so when you are done, you can talk about it. Yell and stomp but listen while you are yelling and stomping, and afterwards, as soon as you can swallow it, say sorry. Never fight against your relationship. Never ever ever try to ruin it, threaten to end it, or sabotage it.

Now, everyone please give all your best, hard learned advice to me! I can use it all :)