Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Tradition even I can Stand Behind!

For the most part, I am proud to be from the South, and specifically from North Carolina. Don't get me wrong, I am well spoken and fairly intelligent, and I am slightly proud of myself when I have to correct someone who thinks I'm "not from around here". But the older I get, the more I think that North Carolinians are a misunderstood breed, because most of the ones I know are good, solid people.

However, I do not follow those customary "rules" of the South. Or specifically, the Southern Baptists. I lived with my husband for years before we got married, a fact that is still secret to his very internet-unsavvy grandparents and certain other family. I wear white whenever I want (which really is never because, honestly, it's not the most flattering color I can imagine anywhere near my bottom half). I breastfeed IN PUBLIC and make my own baby food. I shop at the Farmer's Market and use reusable grocery bags. OK. In our defense, there is a misconception among the Yankee hippie population that think they started all this "local, slow food" stuff. My roots are deeply planted in the South, and I know that there are a lot more farmers in the South and Midwest than the big cities out there, and we've always gotten our food as fresh as we could. I spent lots of time as a kid at pick-your-own farms with my grandmother. We just also like a Big Mac now and then. (Also, how many southern grandmas do you know that don't recycle their grocery bags? Haven't you ever seen one of them wind-sock looking things homemade out of some leftover quilt material and drawstring that Mema always shoved all her plastic Wal-Mart bags into so that whenever she gave you leftovers, she could pull one out to tie them all up in?)

I point is, there are two traditions I do follow. I visit family on Sundays, and every year, I buy a new Easter dress. Even years like this one, when we're trying hard to scrimp and save, my husband, son, and I went shopping a few weeks ago and I spent way more than I had planned on a cute new dress for Easter. It's silk and brightly colored and has a little yellow bolero jacket to wear with it. And when I tried it on and looked in the mirror, I felt good! I did not feel like I looked like the size it said in the tag. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could tell I weigh almost ten pounds less than I did when I got pregnant almost 17 months ago. I believed my husband's grin as I left the dressing room and walked towards him.

It's been hanging in my closet ever since. Taunting me. Wanting me to wear it to work. But I won't. Because the other tradition I follow is that when you buy a new Easter dress, it must make it's debut on Easter!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Take Foot, Insert into Mouth...

I mentioned yesterday that I am attending a workshop for work (I'm on my lunch break people, no need to report me) and I am really enjoying it despite being sick as a dog.

It started on Tuesday. It's in the big city environment of Raleigh, and to get to the building, you have to go down a very busy four lane road with a median. It has small cut-throughs for the roads that branch off with office buildings, and people tend to drive very fast on the main road that goes through the center. The cut throughs only hold at most 1 1/2 cars, which tends to block up the lane behind if some is having trouble *cough*, "pulling the gun" and turning left across the two lanes of oncoming traffic. (I would draw a map, but it would probably just be even more confusing.)

On Tuesday I was behind one such car, with a sweet young lady driver who waited. And waited. And WAITED at the cut through for what seemed like hours to turn left. It was probably in reality about 96 seconds, but it felt like an eternity as I could see the cars piling up behind me. I pulled forward, kind of parallel to her to try to get my rear end out of the lane and let people pass, and as I did that I got a clearer view of the oncoming traffic. Or lack thereof. Seriously, I could have ridden a CAMEL through that turn with all the time she was waiting with no traffic in sight. Or led a gaggle of geese across.

So what did I do? I pulled this nifty move that I learned in Boston about 6 years ago when someone did it to me at a MUCH busier intersection. I pulled out and around her and went about my merry way. I think she got the picture then that she had enough time to get across the oncoming lanes, so she turned to. The closer I got to my building, the more the sinking feeling in the pit of stomach mounted.

There are like thousands of people who work in this complex of offices, so what are the chances that she is one of the 10 other people attending this workshop? You got it. I had to pull into the parking lot, park a mile away from the building, and wait until I saw her walk in before I would get out of my car. I did not want an awkward "you're that bitch that cut me off" encounter my first day of the workshop.

Crisis averted, but let's just say that I have been a much more conservative driver the rest of the week.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Husband Hallelujah!

I am attending a work workshop this week (and will soon have a funny story from that to post) that leaves me with little time for blogging. Especially since the kid has been a-w-e-s-o-m-e this week and I cannot seem to tear myself away from him or wonderful husband without feeling lost, guilty, and devoid of human connection (sorry, internet friends, but you cannot replicate the joy my family gives me)!

So on that note, a short post on why everyone reading this, especially those of you with a spouse and child(ren), should be completely jealous of my home situation.

My husband makes baby food.

Now, I know someone whose husband does not change diapers. Someone else whose husband engaged in inappropriate activities while she was carrying his child. And several people who have husbands that take their mothers' sides in the dreaded "wife versus in-law" arguments. (Luckily, with my awesome parents and in-laws, I am blessed not to have those.) My husband has had his moments of cluelessly holding down the recliner and remote as I put the babe to bed and return downstairs to clean the kitchen and prepare bottles for the next day, all the while proclaiming, "why don't you sit down and RELAX a little?" But those days are long gone!

I went to a work outing last night, and got a text around 7:40 after guiltily leaving father and screaming child and hour and a half earlier. It said:

Baby is in bed after eating all of his fresh pears.

.::Swoon::. I had sliced and baked 3 pears the night before (three pears that hubby had peeled after pureeing the peas we steamed) and then run out of enough energy to puree and freeze them. So what did hubby do? After calming lovely child down a few minutes after mommy left, he sat him in the high chair with his toys and proceeded to puree the pears, filling our 1 oz trays, freezing, and feeding the leftover ounce and a half to dear child.

I am in love all over again!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Rediscovered a Long Lost Love Yesterday

The Crockpot!

Oh my, I finally realized why everyone thinks the darn thing is so convenient. In the past I have always felt like it takes more work for crockpot cooking than just regular. I couldn't imagine getting up early in the morning to cut up veggies, and I am a snobby enough cook that I know that cutting veggies the night before and leaving them in the fridge overnight would dry them out. Plus, at 9PM, after I have been through the afterwork wringer of pick up baby, feed baby, play with baby, bathe baby, get baby down for sleep, wash bottles, fix the next day's bottles, clean the kitchen, cook and eat supper somewhere-in-there, who wants to make ANOTHER meal?

Enter St. Patrick's Day, that holy grail of holidays that involves meat, potatoes, BEER, and pretending to be Irish. I mean, we're all kind of a little Irish anyways, right? And I'm pretty sure that real Irish people don't eat this on St. Patty's Day, but us Americanized Irish do the whole corned beef and cabbage deal. Now, I know from experience dating all the way back to my "college" days that the best way to cook this is for a couple of hours in a big stockpot of water and Guinness on the stove.

But I get home at 6PM and have a household to run. I can't be doing all of that work...we wouldn't eat until well after 10PM (like the Italians) so I decided that I could crockpot it this year. I arrived home on my lunch break with 40 minutes to chop and arrange my meat and veggies in the crockpot, pump, and eat lunch, and I accomplished my goal with a minute to spare. I even washed up the few dishes I used (knife, cutting board, colander). And when hubby and I arrived home after work, our house smelled delicious, and we had a full hour to sit and play with Jacob. No prep, no clean up, just a nice enjoyable evening.

I will be employing this lunchtime trick once a week, for sure. I cannot tell you how relaxed and unstressed I felt to be able to come home to a nice dinner and a clean kitchen. Even if my meat was cooked in Coors Light because I forgot to get Guinness this week. I guess as you get older, the St. Patrick's Day priorities change!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Shouldn't Let it Get to Me

But I do. Sorry honey...I know you read it occasionally.

I love my husband, and he is an amazing father in every way. As J grows older, I am moved to tears almost on a daily basis watching the two of them together. My husband is my son's buddy, that much is obvious. Although he wants Mama when he's sick, hurt, or hungry, Daddy was the first (and for a while, only) one that could get him to laugh.

And Daddy has praised my breastfeeding efforts from the very beginning, letting me know how impressed and appreciative he has always been that I provide our son's food, almost entirely on my own. When J would have a good doctor's appointment, he would beam at me and say "it's all of your good milk that's making him grow so well". And he would turn a blind eye when somewhere around the 1-month mark I became a voracious eater, eating nearly twice the serving size of carbs at dinner that my husband had. He helped me get down breastfeeding in public with a cover, and patiently made a trip across town to the health food store with me to buy supplies for lactation cookies when my supply was dwindling. In short, he has really been my biggest supporter and coach in breastfeeding.

So it shouldn't have hurt my feelings when this conversation occured this morning:

Him "How is your pumping going?"

Me "It's doing OK. Not as much as I used to get, probably about 10-12 oz a day."

Him "And he drinks 20 at daycare?"

Me "Well, about 18 on average."

Him "So, we're probably going to have to start buying formula?"

Me "At some point."

Him "That sucks."

Why this innocent comment has had me feeling bad all day, only my inner drama queen knows. I think I've done pretty well thus far and feel good for surpassing my 6 month goal. Because my family and I are thrifty coupon people, I actually got six 12.9oz sample cans of formula stockpiled before baby's arrival, and had to throw half of the first can out when it expired. The other two cans we've used I've had to scramble to use at the end of the 30 days since I opened it. I've come to terms with supplementation enough by now that the spendthrift took over and I would rather send my son with a higher formula to breastmilk ratio than usual for a few days than waste that formula. I still have 3 1/2 cans left. We have not paid a dime for formula. I figure I'm going through one can a month, which means that he will be over 10 months old when I'm done with the samples. At that point, we very well may be transitioning to more meals and less breastmilk, who knows.

Le sigh. But I still feel a little like a failure because my boobs just can't keep up with my "greedy little tittie monster" (as we so lovingly called him the first month).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This Girl is From Tobacco Road

As a sports fan, there are several events that I quite enjoy. The World Series, especially if the Red Sox are playing. The Superbowl is always required watching, preferably at a party with beer and some type of nachos. The Stanley Cup Finals are never missed in my household, and most of the time we even watch the rest of the playoffs. Even if it's some crap like Florida Panthers versus the Phoenix Coyotes, we would still watch.

But in all the hours of sports I watch in a year, there is nothing that gets me more excited than College Basketball. I know that people from Canada and Texas will never understand the excitement, but I'm a North Carolina girl. We didn't have a pro sports team at all until sometime in the 90's. But we are the center of the college basketball universe.

And the most revered, exciting day of that season is now upon us: Selection Sunday. There is nothing quite as exciting as sitting in front of the TV with my blank brackets in front of me, waiting to fill in all of the matchups. I know that in this day and age I could come upstairs 14 seconds after the selection show goes off and print them, but there's something satisfactory about filling in the seeds myself, almost as though I had a hand in those teams' fate in the tournament. A lot of the anticipation probably stems from being an N.C. State fan for all those years when we had to wait to find out if we were one of the lucky "bubble teams" to make it. Even knowing that we'll be lucky to play in the NIT tournament this year, watching the selection show is my top priority at 6PMish this evening.

This euphoria of mine will continue throughout this week as I research my teams, apply my "formula", and fill out my brackets. I have won one March Madness pool in my years of doing this: the very first one I entered. I picked teams for reasons such as "my drama teacher is from Louisville, I'll pick them". Or, "Tennessee Williams went to St. Louis University, that's my pick." I can imagine the redneck college guys wondering how I predicted the Weber St upset over UNC. (Easy, as a Wolfpacker, I hate UNC!) I know there will always be at least one 14 seed that upsets a 5, it's just picking the right one that's the challenge. The more I know about basketball, the less successful my brackets have been. Maybe since I've been much more involved with raising a child this season and have no clue about rankings other than Kansas and Kentucky are the top teams and the ACC is even weaker than normal, I might just have a shot this go around.

As Jacob grows up, I hope to include him in this love for basketball. We plan on letting him submit a bracket to our friendly pool. At only 6 months, we'll have to get creative about how he can pick his teams. Other families in our pool do the same, and it's really cute to see their brackets when complete. Of course, less cool is when my bracket is usurped by a 3 year old's.

I'll be trying to avoid that this season! Happy march madness!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This is why, this is why, this is why I'm Old.

I am reviewing a personal beauty item. I'm choosing to call it that, even though technically it's more like a personal hygeine item (and thankfully not connected to last night's blog post, so keep reading).

I work in an industry where I see a lot of people every day, and also handle one of the most disgusting things you could come into contact with: money. Cold, hard cash is not nearly as glamourous as you would suspect. Mostly it's dirty and full of germs and after you count a lot of it, you feel like your hands are crawling with every virus and bacteria God ever created. Because of this, I use a lot of hand sanitizer. And lotion. I've been using Aveeno lotion, which I do love, but it takes a while for it to soak in, so when I go to type or greet the next client, my hands still feel greasy and that drives me nuts. (But not as nuts as imagining the bugs.)

Enter the holy grail of hand sanitizers:

I know that Gold Bond gets a bad rap sometimes, mostly from those gloriously asinine "Gold Bond Medicated Powder" commercials and all of the *problems* that they treat. I assure you that this does NOT smell like Gold Bond Medicated Powder. In fact, here is an actual conversation between my husband and I on our way to church a few weeks ago. This is after we received a sample size Gold Bond Ultimate lotion in our "stockings" at Christmas and put it in the glovebox:

A few moments after putting lotion on, A turns to J and says, "What smells so good in here?"

Hubby sniffs himself, in all the appropriate areas, looks around, leans over and sniffs wife, responds, "I don't know. It's not me or you."

::sideeyes:: Wifey, "it's almost like detergent...just a really clean smell."

The lightbulb above hubby's head suddenly flickers to life for the first time all morning, "it can't it the lotion?"

Wifey sniffs hands and exclaims, "Oh my god, it IS!"

Hubby sits back with a self-satisfied grin and says smugly, "See, I told you that Gold Bond was some good shit."

Yes, this was literally a conversation we had in the car. Luckily, little one was sleeping and is too young (for a very quickly dwindling period of time) to know some of the words we use.

Hopefully it will be a much longer amount of time bgefore he figures out just how uncool his parents are!

Monday, March 8, 2010

If Any Men Read This, it's Time to Turn Away...

Because I'm going to talk about Menstruation. You have fair warning. And I'm not going into any gross details, but I get that this is not your favorite topic. Women, however (especially ones that have had a baby) loooove to discuss it.

Mostly, about how bad it sucks. I had forgotten. For fifteen and a half blissful months I have been monthly-visitor free. 2009 will go down for many reasons as being the best year of my life, number one being because I birthed the most beautiful baby boy to ever exist, and ranging right down to the fact that I did not have one. single. period. Period.

Something that's one of the few benefits to breastfeeding that is not freely advertised is that a majority of women do not get their periods until, on average, around seven months. Now, there are many factors to this, one being how exclusively you are able to breastfeed, and how early you start feeding solid foods and/or cutting back on feedings. (And don't go thinking that this means you aren't's is more difficult to get pregnant while breastfeeding, but it is not impossible.) But really, it's the luck of the draw, and I coasted along thinking I was good until BAM! A week after his six month birthday Aunt Flo arrived with balloons. Bitch.

The cramps were awful, and I still really can't take anything except ibuprofen or Tylenol. I don't know if they were awful because they are worse than pre-baby, or if it has just been so long since I've had that divine experience that I forgot how much they hurt.

But the real reason I'm hating it is because I have had beautiful skin since about midway through my second trimester, until now. I have at least three breakouts on my face, and a weird, itchy, painful bump on my chest. Seriously? This thing is like an alien, or a third nipple. When I touched it today I was instantly reminded of Chandler's "Nubbin". Or maybe it's like some wacky skin infection. It's all angry and raised and warm to the touch. This is NOT a normal pimple, people...this is a period pimple. They're so much worse, I promise! And I can't help but touch's already a habit after one day.

I want to go back to the old way...clear skin and happy times. No more bleeding, no more pimples, and certainly no more crazy hormones that cause me to act like some deranged manic-depressive nagging housewife!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reasons You Should All Hate Me!

Hate is a strong word...really, these are just things to be jealous of in my life. See, mama had a bad day yesterday. A real bad day. One of those where nothing seemed to go my way, I was tired all day, my baby wasn't happy, and I was on the verge of tears at any given moment. I went to bed mildly unhappy, woke up mildly happy, saw my son smiling and relaxed first thing in the morning, and erupted into a day of positivity. So, here's what's going right:

*I have a job. It may not be a job that lots of other people aspire to, but I have great hours, weekends off, opportunity to move forward, and I commute 7 miles (including taking my son to daycare). AND I HAVE A JOB!

*My marriage is stable and thriving, and my husband adores me and finds me sexy (even the lumpy, saggy, scarred parts of me). He washes the bottles and my pump parts every night, loves to cook and is responsible for dinner at least 3 nights a week and breakfast on Saturday mornings. He is very hands on with Jacob and loves him to pieces. They have a strong daddy-son bond already, which is amazing to watch. And he vacuumed most of our house last night while I was having a "don't mess with me mental breakdown".

*I still have not spent a $100 gift certificate to my favorite store that I got at Christmas. I'm trying to lose a few more pounds (like 10) before I buy more jeans, work pants, and maybe a cute new top or two so I can retire these ridiculous maternity tops!

*There is a group of women I have become "online friends" with that are incredibly supportive, witty, and just as brazenly figuring out this mom thing at the same time I am. It really, really, really is so much easier when you know you aren't the only one going through these things.

*Two of my favorite people in the world have had babies within six months of Jacob's birth and he will grow up with them, as well as our adorable 2 1/2 year old niece.

*Speaking of family, we have an incredible one. They are all (and by all I mean in-laws, too) close by, beg to babysit, spoil Jacob to pieces, and actually remember to love his parents now and then, too. I trust every one of them with Jacob's life. (It's also really, really, really much easier when you have supportive family close by.)

*According to People magazine, my hair color is the most popular one that celebs are requesting right now. That's right, peeps, I am hot stuff! I can easily let go of the fact that my hair is no longer blonde as it was growing up. It's kind of a light-brown-honey-caramel-golden-auburn color.

*Speaking of hair, today I splurged and bought myself a new headband. It's very exciting: it's kind of honey-caramel-golden-auburn colored, and it's 3 thin braided leather straps. Very trend-forward, if I must say so myself. Hopefully, it will make people look at my face and forget to let their eyes travel lower to the not-so-hot parts!

*I have successfully breastfed (with some supplementation) for over 6 months, which used to be my long-term goal before I realized just how much I enjoyed it. I still have not had to buy formula because of the six sample cans I received before his birth. I have to supplement so infrequently that a small can usually expires before I can use it up. In addition to the million other reasons for breastfeeding, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY THIS HAS SAVED ME?

I could go on like this for hours, so overall, I'd consider myself pretty lucky right now. And hopefully not having any more days like yesterday, since there's really no reason for me to pity myself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When is it OK to Stop Wearing Maternity Clothes?

As I type this (with both hands), my child is sitting in my lap, facing me, supporting himself on his own and trying to rip my necklace off. This is pretty normal, in my opinion, for a six month old. Now he's trying to turn around and type with me.

My point is this: I no longer have the "new mom" excuse in my back pocket. In the beginning, it didn't bother me to wear the maternity stuff. The weight was coming off quickly, and I pretty much spent 90% of the first six weeks at home alone with my little guy, so I really didn't care to wear anything other than yoga pants and comfy tees. I knew I'd be back in my old clothes quickly.

Flash forward a bit: I've lost all of my pregnancy weight plus a few pounds, and somehow only a select few of my clothes fit. I still have a least three maternity tops in my regular rotation of working-girl outfits, and I still change into the yoga pants every night by 6PM. (I do not know what I will do when these pants finally wear out. I've had them for at least 5 years, and I cannot imagine the life adjustment it will take when I have to buy new ones, because they will never be as comfortable as this pair. I just know it.)

Everyone likes to tell you the tired old cliche that your weight shifts after baby, but no one tells you how, exactly. I am having so much trouble figuring out where this seven pounds that I've lost since a year ago is hiding! My boobs are bigger due to breastfeeding, my hips are just as wide as they always were. My ass is humongous and I have a joey pouch on my frontside, and I have been growing my hair out rather than get the ever-so-popular "mom haircut". Where is this weight disappearing from, exactly?!

So, to summarize, I now weigh 7 pounds less that I did before I got pregnant, yet all of my clothes are too tight. So I wear maternity clothes. Sad.