Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hot Mommy Tip #2: Cleaning the Fridge

Am I the only one who feels like they have a new appliance after they clean the fridge?

I'm guilty of not cleaning mine often enough, but the breastmilk rings on the glass started grossing me out. So away I went with the kitchen cleaner spray bottle, spritzing the damn thing down.

And this might be stupid and obvious, but, for the first time I cleaned everything out just one shelf at a time. So it didn't become a giant project and I could—in theory—drop everything and stop at any point, leaving other shelves uncleaned if, say, a baby started crying or something crazy and super unlikely like that ever happened. You know. Not like that's the case.

OMG SO SHINY. I was going to post a picture, but it's messy again already. I'll update this next time it's clean. Hopefully before baby's 1st birthday.

Don't be afraid to tackle that fridge. One shelf at a time if you gotta.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

10 Ways My Baby Made Motherhood Amazing Last Night

1. The way her feet tuck under her bum.
2. The way the feet of her footie pajamas are empty even though they fit perfectly, because her feet are tucked so close and so neatly.
3. The way this is how she lied in my womb.
4. The way this is how she was always comfortable.
5. The way this is how she was always perfect.
6. The way there's nothing that can take this moment away from me, staring into my daughter's room as she sleeps.
7. The way I'm resisting using heart emojis because I'm challenging myself to find the words.
8. The way there aren't words.
9. The way there never may be.
10. The way that's the most beautiful thing about being a mother, the way you can never know it until you feel it, the unspeakable. The silence. The love. My eyes close and stay closed. I've never needed so little sleep and never wanted so much of it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Most Awesome Co-Worker Strikes Again

And this time, I took it.

It needed a good home, OK?

Still not sure if I'll leave it elsewhere...or what I'll use it for, but I'm thinking it has to be a good cause. Or if there's something even more giving that I can do, even if it doesn't involve this sweet five-dollar bill, I have to do it. I'll be excited to do it.

Thank you, awesome co-worker. (I already told you yesterday that I love you.)

In addition to the sweetness of this one little act, it's really nice to work in a place where you look around and wonder, "Who is the nice person who's doing these things?" It makes you look at everyone as if they were the best possible versions of themselves; the most generous, kind-hearted, thoughtful and empathetic people in the world. That's a really nice gift. Even better than $5.

Monday, July 28, 2014

This Co-Worker Just Made Everyone's Monday

That's a five-dollar bill, y'all. Under a sweet note on the printer.

The best part? I've been back to that printer several times and NO ONE has taken the money. It seems everyone wants the next person to get it. I'd like to think we're all saving it for the next person who could really, really use that today.

Anonymous co-worker, I love you.

Now I must think of a way to pay this forward. Have any great ideas?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Brown Sugar and Peaches: What Weekend Dreams Are Made Of

I had just gotten my daughter down for her nap yesterday, when I read this text from my sweet-as-can-be mother-in-law, who was hosting brunch for the family today.

"Think you'll have time to make that coffee cake again?"

Sure, I said, sure.

You see, it's just so easy. AND I had just bought 8oz of sour cream at the grocery store, without a particular use for it in mind.

So thank you, Cindy Harris of San Antonio, Texas, and Taste of Home, for this recipe.

I skipped the glaze and added 1 whole peach, diced, after combining the wet and dry ingredients. I also didn't find it necessary to alternate the sour cream and flour additions.
I used 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg instead of the whole teaspoon. Just because I haven't cooked with nutmeg all that much and I was a little nervous about the strong taste. But it wasn't strong, just enhanced the cake.

But come on, y'all. It's so simple. And so wonderful to fill your house with the smell of a cinnamon streusel warm from the oven. And then you get to the inside and it's all moist and peachy.

This was the second time I've made it, the first was with blueberries instead of peaches. Equally wonderful. I love adding fruit.

Gotta go. If you need me, I'll be dreaming about the piece I managed to save for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What Keeps Me Zen: Early Bedtimes

I never, ever thought I'd be a mom who put her baby to bed super early and planned her life accordingly.

I remember rolling my eyes and mocking women who said they couldn't bring their child somewhere for fear of screwing up their routine.

Now, I know that fear. I know it well.

As the mother of a 6-month-old, I appreciate that routine as one of the things keeping me sane. Zen on a really good day. Her 8-o-clock bedtime allows me to unwind a little before bed. Have a glass of wine, even. Relax with my husband.

Tonight, I sat through less than one inning at the Milwaukee Brewers game (Lana's first). We had an adorably sweet old woman who was taken with Lana take our photo with the certificate that they gave us surprisingly unceremoniously.

I was home by 8:20. Lana was not happy. But she got to bed just an hour past bedtime. Not too bad.

So here I am, should-be-sleeping mama, typing away at her blog.
Should I blog when baby blogs?

I really do love blogging, though, guys. I have to encourage you all to start blogging if you have even the slightest inclination to do it. What's the worst that can happen? You create a new hobby for yourself that costs nothing?

That wasn't the point of this post. Anyway, you get the bedtime thing. The fear. The wonder that is a successful bedtime.

Not-the-mamas, bear with us. If you're really feeling nice (like I was not), save the eye-rolls.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Week as a Weather Forecast

With Monday having been so wet with tears due to a strong westerly wind blowing in the direction of Home, Tuesday is shaping up with a downright shitstorm as predicted. Heat waves have been observed in the Office area, with periods of strong gusts of shit, soaking plans and ruining career prospects.

Expect little to no free time the rest of the week. You'll see a 99% chance of the baby pee in the bathtub, repeating Monday's deluge. Highs will be in the moments you share before your daughter poops her pants, with that poop being significantly more solid than the average seen in her diaper. Lows will be in the realization that you forgot to plan for your husband's birthday. See that birthday start to blow in on Thursday, without a chance of bringing gifts that arrive on time and make it look like you planned ahead.

Expect no chance of making it look like you have it together.

However, conditions may start to change as a sweet gesture from a mother-in-law brings dinner and clean floors to your area.
Shitstorms will taper off as we head toward the weekend and get to spend more time with family, though we may see an occasional turd in the bathtub.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hot Mommy Tip #1

This is what I hope to be the first of many hot tips. Tell yer friends.

My husband reminded me this morning to send emails to our daughter.

That's weird. Send emails to our 6-month-old daughter.

We created an account for her within days of bringing her home. It was my sister's idea. But really, it's a good one. This way, we can make her gmail account one that doesn't have a long string of numbers because we already "snatched" the name. 

This is all assuming that Gmail is still a thing when our daughter is a job-seeking adult. Who knows if email will even be a thing. Who knows, who knows.

But on top of just sort of reserving the email address for her, it's a great way to write her letters as she grows. They'll all be dated and saved in the "cloud" or whatever the hell. I hope she'll be happy about this someday.

So go ahead, make a gmail account for your baby. Send him or her letters of love or just things about your day. Maybe email is the new baby book.

(Just make sure you can remember the password. Oops.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nothing is clean and everything is wonderful

I bought organic pureed pears for my daughter. (Yes, she's eating foods now!) We figure since she doesn't eat very much, we can fork out a little extra to give her the good stuff. Plus, a review of many, many studies says that organic produce really does have more nutrients than non-organic.

Like any good hippie parents, we took her to the farmers market this morning. We bought cheese curds, a plant and locally grown blue popcorn. Like bad parents, we forgot our daughter's sun hat. So our trip was short to avoid sunburn.

I came home to a house smelling like bacon from this morning's breakfast, and a kitchen full of dishes. I made lemonade. More dishes. Didn't empty the dishwasher. The dogs got into some food while we were gone. Mess. Everywhere mess and more mess.

I reached into my purse and grabbed the old light bulb I had in there for reference (I cannot find this stinking size of light bulb for anything.)
It was covered in pear mush.

At least it was organic.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Facebook Free

So, it's been about a week since I deleted my Facebook app.

I didn't delete my account, I don't want to go full-on hermit, but I got rid of the app on my phone. I realized I needed some space when I told my husband (in baby talk, get ready, this is embarrassing) "Wike my status."

I really wish I could say that was the first time. But hopefully, it was the last.

I realized I was caring too much about how many likes my status got. How many people could be bothered to say, yeah, I dig that, when I post a picture of my daughter or when I bemoan the traffic jam. By the way, baby pictures get SO many more likes than anything else. Am I hawking photos of my daughter in exchange for the illusion of internet popularity?

Why am I thinking so much about Facebook?

So, I held my thumb over the little blue square until the wobbling X appeared, and I clicked it. And then I said, yes, Delete. With a capital D. 

And then I started using Facebook via the Safari app. Baby steps, you guys.

It is better. This way, I don't get notifications that so-and-so's mom sent me another Candy Crush request. It doesn't tell me Facebook things in real time, which I think is an improvement. Yes, I still go on in my spare time, and yes, I spend more time on it than I'd like to, but I think my addiction is on its way out. Thankfully, when you consider this article about the sneaky, nasty, terrible things Facebook did with your news feed.

That article in particular made me realize, experiments or not, I was overly dependent on Facebook for my moods, my gauge of how people perceive me, or even, like me.

Maybe I'm not Facebook Free, completely, but it's better this way. Did you hear about that study? Does it change how you think about Facebook?

(By the way, go on Facebook and wike me. I still want everyone to like me. That will never change.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Bright Side of Working Full-Time

Today, I'm choosing to look on the bright side. It helps that it's sunny outside. And the bright side isn't that I come home a better mother because I did grown-up things that challenge my brain all day. Although that helps, too. Sometimes.

My mother-in-law (who is a teacher and watching our daughter for the summer) texted a photo of my daughter to me while I'm at the office. I told my husband that it made me both happy and sad. My gut reaction was, "I should be there. I should be the one taking care of her." Bummer, right? But just seeing her face made me happy.

This morning, my husband asked me to keep our daughter up late tonight so that he could see her after work. He's been missing time with her because of his odd and long hours.

We both feel like we don't get nearly enough time with her. But maybe the bright side to it is that we have this (not-fun) feeling to bond over. We both feel the same way. We don't compete over who misses her more. We connect.

That's good, right?

Friday, July 11, 2014

I like you. AKA How Target Challenged My Ethics

I really do.

So today, I created a Facebook page for the blog. If you like whatch'ure readin, give me a like, too. I'd sure appreciate it, really.

I haven't shared the blog yet with my personal Facebook friends, and I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to yet. I'll get there, I know, but this kind of honesty can be frightening.

Also, at Target this evening, the clerk forgot to scan a $75 item I had under the cart. And I had even told her to scan it. Didn't realize til I got home with my hungry baby in her poopy diaper just before bedtime that I had an unpaid-for item in my trunk. So I called and paid over the phone. Sucker or  saint? I guess when it came down to it, I really liked that my husband thought I should point out their error. I guess that I like he's a good person and a great example for our daughter.

We can't always be great examples, can we. So we might as well take the chances we have.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The "C" Word

My daughter wakes me up at 5:30 every morning by blowing raspberries.

This morning, she really got her technique down. Tongue out between the lips and all. (Her previous raspberries had been just with her lips.) Clearly a very important milestone.

The reason this quiet sound wakes me up? Because she sleeps beside me. In the bed. Attack me now.

Here's what works for me and my husband: We put her to sleep in her own room at 8 pm every night. She goes down without a problem. It's glorious. When and if she sleeps all night, she stays in her crib the whole time. But when she wakes up at 1 AM or 2 AM or 3 AM, she comes to bed with me to nurse. And there we stay, side by side. She stirs and I start nursing her again. This repeats until 5:30, when her stirring isn't quelled by the breast, her little hands start flailing around, she coos and blows raspberries. I wake up smiling, and so does she.

I sleep lightly. I'm still nursing. My husband and I share a king-size (very firm) mattress. He's usually on the other side of the bed. One exception: The night his arm came within inches of my daughter. I somehow woke up out of nowhere and stopped his arm before it could touch her. Biology is working well in my home.

I wouldn't call myself an all-out co-sleeper, but really, why not? To avoid the stigma? I'm a half-co-sleeper. And we can just round up. I can present the familiar arguments that appear everywhere on message boards and blogs in support of co-sleeping—if you're not a drunk or exhausted out of your mind, it's perfectly safe to have baby in a big, firm, safe bed. SIDS used to be called Crib Death because it happens in cribs.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a woman in my community lost her daughter to SIDS. She was about the same age as my daughter, healthy. She put her down for a nap in her crib. When she checked on her, she wasn't breathing. Babies die in family beds when they're suffocated by blankets, pillows, other children or pets. Babies die in beds because of SIDS and babies die in cribs because of SIDS.

But really, all the arguing is useless. All you need to know is that it works for my family and is safe for my daughter. And you should feel free to follow your instincts and practice sleep habits that (safely) work for you and your family.

I think the more natural and instinctual a responsible and loving mother is allowed and encouraged to be, the happier the mama and the happier the baby.

But I'm no expert. I'm just a mama with a baby who wakes her up by blowing raspberries and smiling. I'll be damned if I'm going to give that up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Find out Which Sitcom Mom You Are

Seriously, this is fun. I had no idea who I'd be, because my answers were a mixed bag of crazy.

BUT. I'm Claire. Huxtable. YES.

Take the quiz! Live a little.

Oh, Dave

Mornin, mamas.

Last week, my husband's parents took us to see Dave Matthews Band in concert as a gift for my husband's birthday.

I've been singing Dave songs in my head ever since. Maybe the contact high hasn't gone away yet.

After listening to "Belly Belly Nice" last night and looking up the lyrics, I legit googled the phrase "Why is Dave Matthews so perverted?" I mean, come on, do I really have to talk about the lyrics to "Crash" here? Sex is EVERYWHERE in his songs. And it's cool. Maybe made it a little weird to be singing all the songs with my mother in law, father in law, brother in law and sister in law, but if my husband and I were there alone we would have been serenading each other all night.

Gross, I know.

Anyway, this innocent search turned up some interviews with Dave and I read them and I loved them. (Here's one) His strangeness comes through just like it does in his songs and in his concerts. He speaks like anyone else for the majority of the time, then all of a sudden his syntax and phrasing goes off the wall and profane. And I love it. He's so fuckin' weird and it's fantastic. And for some reason, I'm not the only oddball who loves the guy.

So my lesson was this: If he can be as strange as he pleases, why can't I?

The song that's been stuck in my head: "Make the most of what you've got/ Don't waste time trying to be something you're not/ Fill up your head/ Fill up your heart and take your shot"

"Don't waste time trying to be something you're not."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

(Easier Than) Pie!

Pie is love.

OK, guys, I know pie is kinda intimidating. Making your own crust? Psshaw. My mama didn't mess around with that kinda stuff. She didn't have the time. And honestly, a store-bought crust works just fine.

But really though. This crust (from is so simple, and so easy, the hardest thing about it is not overdoing it. Yes, you read correctly, the most difficult thing about this pie crust is putting as little effort into it as possible.

So grab your 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 10 Tbsp. cold butter and 1/4-1/2 cup ice water and get to bakin'.

Here's the method:

I combined the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. I then cubed the butter like so (worked like a charm) and added it in.

 This is what my daughter did while I cooked:

Of course I'd forgotten to put the blades in. So I scooped the butter up a little at a time so that I could mash the blades in.

I measured 1/2 cup water and poured it over ice. I let it sit in the fridge until I was ready for it.

I covered the top of the food processor with plastic wrap (thanks, Cooks Illustrated) to keep the mess to a minimum. This would pay off in ways I hadn't imagined. I pulsed until the butter looked like little white lumpy peas.

I grabbed the ice water and added it to the food processor 1 Tbsp. at a time, until the mixture looked clumpy and a little sticky, like this:

And now this is where the plastic wrap paid off. I simply turned the bowl of the food processor onto the lid and shaped the crust into a disc, right there in said wrap. Sealed it up and into the fridge it went for at least 30 minutes.

Half hour, go! I made dinner for my husband (spaghetti and pre-made meatballs) and chopped the fruit for the filling. OK, maybe it was longer than 30 minutes. Whatever.

4 cups of white flesh peaches, sliced. 1 cup of mango, sliced. 1 cup blueberries. No slicing. Into this goes 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Stir.

I attempted making tartlets. If you want to do this, I'd suggest less fruit. Maybe 2 cups peaches, 1 cup mango and 1 cup blueberries. Use just a little less of the sugar and flour. I also told my family as we ate it, "I'm gonna squeeze some lemon juice into the fruit next time. It needs a little tartness." They all looked at me like I was crazy, but I know it would be better. I suggest a teaspoon of lemon juice, that's all, if you're using super sweet fruits like these. Skip the lemon if you're using rhubarb.

375 degrees, 45 minutes. Yes, indeed. We couldn't not have a piece, even though we were saving it for a cookout the next day. Whoops. Nobody's perfect.
Go to town with some whipped cream, fresh vanilla custard or your favorite vanilla bean ice cream. Or enjoy it on its own. Share. Smile.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Honest Truth About Baby Daddies

I expected to love my husband even more strongly after giving birth to my daughter. This didn't happen until now, 5 months later.

I blame hormones.

I was alarmed, actually, by how much I didn't love my husband extra post-partum. I was alarmed at how he could get under my skin. Of course, there were days that he was absolutely my saving grace. (Most days, really.) He cooked me burritos that were super filling, he took care of the dogs so that I didn't have to, he's done too much to simply list. And I am grateful for all of it.

Birth was a bonding experience. But it and the days immediately following are somehow so scary that the bonding doesn't settle in right away. You're more worried—about whether baby is making the appropriate number of bowel movements a day and the right number of wet diapers and that her soft spot isn't sinking in—to fully bond over what's happened. And that's OK. It's kind of an auto-pilot time for your marriage. Not that that's ideal, but hey, it's going to happen over the course of a lifetime together. There will be pit stops and tune-ups to come. But for now, you're just on cruise control, relationship-wise.

That period might be ending for me now. Who's to say, really, though. It's hard to see things for what they are in the present. It's hard to stop and realize, my daughter is now a 5-month-old. My daughter giggles and plays now. She likes toys and sucking on her toes. She's no newborn. My love for her is just like it was when she was first born: part amazement, part fear of screwing her up, part determination NOT to screw her up. Mostly the whole wanting to be there for her through every little thing in life deal, though.

And now, it's as if it's just occurred to me, watching my husband sleep on the couch, that she looks just like him when their eyes are closed. She is half him; he is half the reason she is here. Obvious, right? And then I love him harder and in a different way than ever before. You go from wanting something (a family) with the person you love, and seeing your hopes and your future in them to having that with them. To living it. And the challenge as I see it is to live each day aware of that. Even if he forgot to take out the trash. Even if you didn't have time in the morning to feed the dogs and he has to pick up your slack and he mumbles "it's OK" when you say you're sorry and then you're not convinced at all that it's OK.

It is. It really is.