Monday, December 16, 2013

How To Lose 10 Pounds In A Week

(TL;DR - I had a my gallbladder removed, complications, another surgery to remove stones and put in a stent, had another surgery to remove stent. As of now, life is good.)

When I wrote this post I had no idea that I'd endure 5 more months of unnecessary pain, and occasional suffering. Turns out, I had gallstones that ultimately caused a severely infected gallbladder because it went undiagnosed for 9 months. NINE.

Apparently, pregnancy can cause gallstones. Who knew? Certainly not me. And I suspect that neither did the young ER doctors (residents?) I saw at 3-weeks-postpartum who ran a couple of tests and sent me on my way with a diagnosis of muscle spasms.

This hospital room (and one other) was my view for nearly a week at the end of October and early November.

On the 26th of October, I had a serious gallbladder attack that I thought was muscle spasms. I hadn't had an episode that bad since around April. I was writhing in pain, throwing up, and trying not to freak out. Ultimately, with Zac's help, I rode it out and was able to fall asleep. My mom came the next day to stay with us so she could help me with Aiden, since my back was shot. This time was a little different than the other attacks, because I never really recovered, even after a few days had passed. My back never felt better, and I was essentially bedridden until my next attack.

After Zac got home from work on Tuesday the 29th, I was feeling worse and had an eerie sensation that I was about to have more spasms. I rolled over in bed to try getting comfortable, and here came the pain. In a matter of 20 minutes, I was literally screaming and moaning in pain, throwing up, and trying to figure out what to do. It was far and away the worst pain of my life. I'd made a doctor's appointment for the upcoming Thursday, but we both decided that I needed to go to the emergency room instead of waiting it out like the other times.

The ride to the ER was horrible, as the slighest movement caused me to feel worse. After waiting for a room for what seemed an eternity, I was finally able to see a doctor. Thankfully, after a few hours my pain subsided as they treated me. Thank God the doctor thought to order an ultrasound, because it revealed the cause of my tough postpartum life: gallstones, and an infected gallbladder. He said it was good that I hadn't waited even another day because it was so bad. He told me I'd need emergency surgery, and all I could think about was that I hadn't shaved my legs in days. Shit.

I was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and had my gallbladder out a few hours later at 2am. I apologized to everyone, from nurses to doctors, about my hairy legs, and they just laughed. My surgeon smiled and said "that's the least of our worries."

They let me go home on Halloween, but it didn't feel quite right. My liver enzymes were really elevated, but they had gone down since I was first admitted, so they would just do another draw at my follow-up appointment.

I was focusing on not throwing up the whole drive home. I spent the next few days feeling absolutely miserable: vertigo, nausea, couldn't eat, couldn't drink, couldn't get out of bed. I was unable to spend much time with Aiden, and I was barely able to breastfeed him. I was worried that my breastfeeding journey was about to come to an abrupt end, and it broke my heart. I called the nurse hotline a few times to make sure my symptoms were normal, and one even suggested that I visit the ER again (it was a Sunday), but I wanted to wait until my appointment the next day.

I met with my doctor, gave some blood, and was actually starting to feel a bit better. They had to send out the blood for testing because their labs were down that day. At 10pm, the phone rang, and it's the doctor saying I need to go back to the hospital. My liver enzymes shot back up, but at least I could wait to go in until the next morning. I started to shiver from being nervous.

Okay, honestly, I'm getting tired of writing this novel, so I'm gonna try and summarize from here on out. I got to the hospital, it took 4 different people to get an IV in my arm because I was so dehydrated. They didn't let me eat or drink for 3 days. I had an MRCP, 3 HIDA Scans, and then an ERCP to remove remaining gallstones and they had to put in a temporary stent from having been so infected. I wasn't able to see Aiden that whole time (didn't want to expose him to hospital germs), and I missed him terribly. When I got home, I cried as soon as I saw him.

Temporary stents are removed within 4-6, and mine was taken out last Thursday. I was slightly nervous, considering nothing about my whole situation has been a normal case or gone as planned. But other than dizziness and fatigue, I feel great! I was pretty shocked at how good I felt afterward, and I was even able to eat a celebratory steak dinner.

I'll have another blood draw this week to make sure my liver enzymes are at normal levels, and if that goes well, this whole nightmare should be a thing of the past. Considering how good I'm feeling, I'm very hopeful that I'll get good news.

I'm ready for this to be all but a distant memory.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

10 Months

On the 21st of November (yeah, I'm a bit behind), Aiden turned 10-months-old! I've really noticed in the last few days that he's turning into such a little boy compared to the baby that I've grown to know; and it's just going by way too fast.

The last 5 weeks has been incredibly difficult for our family due to my emergency surgery, 2 hospitalizations, and subsequent recovery (more on that in another post - eventually). But now that I'm starting to feel more like myself, I've been able to enjoy my guy even more.

In just the last week or so, he's been pulling himself up like crazy and cruising the furniture. He's even taking steps while being assisted! It's like once he got it, he got it.

This year was his first Thanksgiving, and I was really excited for him to be a part of the celebration. Serving him the same traditional meal that the rest of us were eating made me very happy. I think, again, because he's turning into a little boy, and now he gets to be part of the fun stuff.

Aiden had another height check on the 22nd when he got the 2nd part of the flu shot, and apparently he grew an inch in a month! I know he grew, but I'm not convinced it was a whole inch. Maybe I'm just skeptical because the way they have to measure babies isn't very scientific. So at 10-months and 1 day, he measured 26" in height and weighed 16 lbs, 11 oz. 

The fact that he's so tiny is making it very challenging to find winter wear. All of the 12 month sizes are way too big, and even the smaller sizes too! If you didn't know, baby clothes sizing is all over the place. For instance, this jacket is sized 3-6 months, but it looked just as big as a 12 month size that I had to return. Aiden wasn't a fan.

As I'm sure you could guess. That's getting returned too.

I'm really looking forward to the Holiday and Winter season. I can't wait for Aiden to experience his first snowfall, and for him to tear open his first Christmas gifts. I'm sure the paper will be more interesting than the gift itself, but that's fine with me. As long as I get to see a big smile on his face and his eyes light up, all will be right with the world.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

9 Months

This little guy turned 9-months-old on Monday, and the snowball is definitely gaining speed. I blink, and he's one-month older. 

He's still just as wee as ever, weighing in at 16lbs 2oz, and measuring 25" long at his check-up on Thursday. I have a feeling that the height is slightly off though, because it looked like his feet moved when the pediatrician was measuring him. (Although, the pediatrician measured 3 times, just to make sure. I remain unconvinced.) More than likely we'll have to do some blood-work to verify that his short-stature isn't a cause for concern, but we're really not worried. Zac was a tiny kid, and our pediatrician seemed more at ease when we told him so.

I'd have to say that this is my favorite age so far. Friday night, we were at a Japanese restaurant, and we had Aiden in a high chair. I said to him, "you're officially part of the family now!" Not that he wasn't before, but now he's truly part of the action. It's such a cool feeling. He REALLY wanted to get at our food, and I obliged with a few tastes of white rice.

He is such a great eater, and besides some teething issues early on, he hasn't turned down a single thing. If he sees anyone eating, he wants whatever they're having. In just the last 2 weeks he's tried (in their natural state): salmon, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, black beans, bread, rice, quinoa, ground turkey, potatoes, pasta, and probably other things that I'm forgetting. I love that now I can often give him part of what we're having for dinner.
Aiden is "talking" up a storm now, babbling the days away. He first said "Dada" while we were in California, and now he occasionally says "Mama" as well. It tugs at my heart when he says mama, because he's really only used it when he's crying and he wants me.
He's crawling everywhere, and generally beginning to get into mischief. Just the other day, he started pulling the gas fireplace grate down and tries to get at the wires. Ummm NO. If there's a cord or wire around, it's like a moth to a flame. I can't look away for one second.

Baths are pretty much is favorite thing. He loves to splash, play with the water, grab at the shower head... and at his junk. That's another favorite activity of his. It makes for some very interesting diaper changes.
We're having such a blast with this little guy right now. He's mostly all smiles, giggles, and squeals- it melts my heart.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

I'm writing this post from my phone while I count down the minutes until our flight leaves from California. It has been a great trip in many ways, but 2 weeks with family, when you don't quite have your own space for anything is just... way too long. And that's my own fault. 

This is my first vacation since becoming unemployed and I wanted to maximize my time. Because theoretically, I have plenty of it. Part of me knew better, but I threw caution to the wind and hit "purchase" on the tickets that would eventually leave me missing my husband, my dog, my own bed, and MY SANITY.

We're leaving tomorrow, and while I'm happy to have had the expierience, I'm also happy to be going home.

Monday, September 23, 2013

8 Months

My baby boy turned 8-months-old on Saturday, and I swear, he just gets bigger (no, really?) and sweeter by the day.

We're now three-quarters of the way through his first year, and just... what? I've said it before, and I'll say it again, IT'S GOING BY SO QUICKLY. Sometimes, if you're close to something, it's harder to notice the little changes that happen day-to-day. But I swear I go into his room some mornings and I can just tell he's grown, or his face matured a little bit overnight. I know to expect it and yet, it still blows my mind.

Aiden now sits unsupported really well, but he still needs the occasional pillow to soften the blow if he tips over. Because he spit up SO MUCH in the past, and still does on a full stomach, I didn't/don't sit him up as often as I'd like. I think that's part of the reason he developed that skill a little later than other kids. (Though he's still right on schedule.) In fact, he looks like he'll be able to pull himself into a sitting position any day now. But at the moment, it kind of looks like he's just doing some weird floor routine.

He's also definitely crawling, in an non-traditional sense. It's an army crawl, often coupled with rocking, swaying, and rolling; but the boy is going places! I swear, he rolls with pinpoint accuracy. I've already had to do some living room rearranging. Goodbye thoughtful décor.

Solids are an exciting part of his day now, even though by some people's standards, he doesn't get too much besides breastmilk (and that's just fine with me). Within days of him trying Happy Puffs for the first time, his picking up & feeding himself skills drastically improved. He really enjoys his food, and now he squeals with delight when I'm feeding him, and he lets me know if I'm not going fast enough. Sorry kid! 

I'm just really enjoying him at this stage, and I think I'm starting to become more at peace during moments that aren't so easy. He is such a love, and he brings me so much joy and humor and knowledge and wonderment every day. 

He has my whole heart.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Traveling Circus

We leave for California on Wednesday, and I don't know how it crept up so quickly. I'm currently making lists upon lists in preparation, and yet, I have this fear that I'll forget EVERYTHING. Flying with an infant and 4 adults (me, my bro & parents) is going to be... interesting, to say the least. (Zac's catching a separate flight.)

Every time I travel I always make an effort to pack sparingly and fail at doing so, but this time I mean it. I'm only going to check one bag between the baby and I so we don't have to spend a bazillion dollars in fees. Seeing as Aiden's gonna need a million-and-one things, I'm really gonna have to get creative and recycle my outfits and beauty products. Can I survive with only two lipsticks? Stay tuned.

I'm trying to remain calm about the actual traveling part, but the "what-ifs" keep creeping in. What if my family makes us miss our flight? What if Aiden doesn't settle on the plane? What if he takes a huge, stinky dump in my lap and there's nowhere to change him but said lap? What if they lose our luggage? WHAT IIIIIIFFFFFFFF?

It's silly, I know. I'm sure it'll all be fine, and he'll be a perfect angel. I'll just pretend he's a bee. If he can't smell my fear, then we'll be aaaaaaall good.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Smelly Baby, Smelly Baby, What Are They Feeding You?

It's been a banner week for me in the "Babies Are Gross" department. I've been peed on (from the tub: he's got quite the arc!), peed at, nearly pooped on (I've decided to feed him solids consistently, and now his diapers are showing me what we've not been missing out on. *eyes watering*), etc. And the kicker? Aiden FULL-ON vommed IN MY MOUTH the other day. Apple purée, oatmeal, and curdled milk. Holy FUUUUUUUH.

As horrifying as it was, it was pretty much instantaneously hilarious. We were hangin' out in the living room and I was having an awesome time playing with Aiden. Things have lightened up a bit around here; smiles have outnumbered the fits*. I lifted him for airplanes and told him "I'm having so much fun with you lately!" Zac gave us both a huge smile, "See! I told you it wasn't going to be difficult forever!" No more than 30-seconds later... directly. in. my mouth.

It took me a second to get Zac's attention, because he wasn't looking, and he thought the weird noises I was making was me playing with the baby. I'm pretty sure my eyes were bugging out of my head with shock. Once he was like "DID THE BABY THROW UP IN YOUR MOUTH?!" he decided to take a picture instead of help me. Ehh, I would've done the same. There's even a perfectly timed clip of me garbling "this is terrible" because he didn't realize my phone was on video mode. I'll spare you all THOSE images. Even though, for some strange reason, I didn't immediately delete them.

Ahh, the joys of motherhood.

*Of course, in the middle of me writing this post, Aiden had a full-on teething meltdown. I had to wear him in the Ergo AND bounce him on the exercise ball. I haven't had to do that in months!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

All Bark and No Bite

It breaks my heart a bit knowing that since Aiden came along, Parker doesn't get as much attention as he used to. Don't get me wrong, we still love on him, and try to include him as much as we can, but it's not the same. I'm not sure if it's lack of attention, coupled with the fact that he may want to "protect" the baby, and our house; but he's started barking a lot more than he used to. 

He looks sad, but really, it's the look of lazy.

We rescued Parker in September 2010, almost exactly 3-years-ago. For the first couple of years, I always told people that it was nice that he didn't bark that much, except for when he was in the backyard and he could hear neighbors outside (sorry neighbors). Even then, he'd stop reasonably quickly.

But now? It's just super annoying. He barks at the kids playing outside. He barks at neighbors coming home from work. He barks at neighbors leaving for work. He barks at people visiting neighbors. And he still barks at people in their own backyards. I often feel bad for our 'hood, and I tell him "It's their space, too, doggie! The whole world isn't your territory." I'm not sure he got the memo.
It's been worse this summer because we have the windows open most of the time, so it's easier to hear everything that's going on outside. I guess the one positive thing about the weather changing is that it might help alleviate our problem.

We did a session of dog training back in March 2011, but got a little lax with the up-keep. We've started to be on the ball more now lately, especially since he needs to behave around the baby. I've tried using bitter spray to deter barking in the past, but I'm not sure that I was consistent for long enough for it to be effective. I'm at the point where I'm actually considering a bark collar. I've always been against those in the past, because I've felt that it's treating a symptom and not the problem. But now I'm not so sure. With Aiden in the mix, it's going to be hard to try to correct Parker myself every time he barks incessantly.

Have you ever had a dog with this issue? Did you try a bark collar?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye To Summer

As much as the internet wants it to be fall already, IT'S STILL SUMMER. And uh, it's supposed to be 90 degrees here in Seattle today. Take that, internet! Basically, you're gonna have to pry Summer from my cold, dead hands.

We got kind of spoiled with ridiculously awesome weather this year, and I hate to admit it, but I almost feel like I wasted it. Aiden's eyes are sensitive to sunlight (he squints and turns his face away immediately, and doesn't always like his hats), and I didn't want him to get a sunburn or overheat. So, in an effort to keep him comfortable, we stayed indoors a lot. Just typing that makes me sad, because I love me some sunshine and warmth. Now that we're really down to the wire, I'm trying to get outside with him more, especially when it cools off a little faster.

Aiden in his bouncer on the patio while I painted on the lawn.

I cruised him around our backyard the other day, showing him our garden, and was telling him that next year, he'll be able to run around and enjoy Summer a lot more. It was kind of weird saying that because I know how fast it'll get here. And he'll be so... big. He's growing right before my eyes. And I swear sometimes when I peek over the crib after a nap, he's bigger than when I laid him down. (Coincidentally, I always sing to him "did you just groooow?" after he's taken a long nap.)

As much as I'd love for him to stay my sweet, tiny baby, him getting bigger does have its perks. Just last night, we took him to a local park and put him on the swings for the first time. He absolutely loved it. He'd kick his little legs and feet like he was swimming in air. CUTE.

I planned on bringing him back to the same park for a dip in the lake this afternoon; but uh, he still hasn't taken a single nap yet. (He woke up at 7, and it's now 2:15.) Soooo, we'll see how that all pans out. But I do know one thing, this lady is DEFINITELY going to the lake no matter what. Zac might have to hold down the fort while I relax, float, and ponder the meaning of life.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate-Cinnamon-Raisin No-Bake Energy Bites (Great Lactation Aid!)

Dude Von Dudenstein. These no-bake energy bites are legit. Seriously, I'm in love. I wanted to start off with a double batch, but decided not to if I didn't like them that much. I immediately regretted that decision! I love the subtle crunch the chia seeds give, and I'm having a moment with Costco's Saigon Cinnamon right now. It's probably the best cinnamon I've ever tasted or smelled. There's just something about it. And no, you don't have to be breastfeeding to enjoy these. Even my husband liked them!


Chocolate-Cinnamon-Raisin No-Bake Energy Bites
1 1/4 c oats
1/2 c peanut butter
1/3 c honey
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/4 c raisins
1/4 c flaxseed meal
1/4 c chia seeds
1 tbl brewer's yeast
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

I dumped all of the dry ingredients in a big bowl, and then lightly combined them before adding the wet ingredients. (Not necessary to do it separately, but I just wanted to make sure it was all evenly incorporated.) 

Mix everything together. Roll into 1" balls (the heat of your hands helps bind the ingredients). Chill & store in the fridge for up to 1-week.

Yield: approximately 28
Nutrition Info: Per Bite (based on 28): 91 calories, 12g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 3g protein, 7g sugar, 22mg sodium 

Adapted from this recipe
I entered the ingredients into this nutrition calculator. (Next time I'll halve the chocolate chips; I also think mini chips would be perfect.)

Because of the brewer's yeast, these are perfect as a lactation aid. Traditional lactation cookies that call for brewer's yeast are known to be more effective if you eat the dough raw, so this essentially the same thing. You could even up the amount of brewer's yeast in this recipe, but you'll have to remember the taste will be more potent. Or, you could omit it all-together. That's the beauty of this recipe: do what'cha like. I'm all about customization. I'm already coming up with different variations in my head!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: #4

Lately, I've felt like a heavy, grey cloud has begun to cast a shadow over me. I have realized that I need to get back to focusing on the positives, and you know, finding the joy in everyday life. To help me with this, I've decided to bring back Thankful Thursdays. I may not do it every week, but that's okay, too. As long as I'm trying to stave off negativity, that's all that matters.

1. My happy boy has returned:

I mentioned before that the past month was harder for me than any other time since Aiden was born. Between teething, growth spurts, and developmental leaps; he was giving me quite a hard time. And it was really wearing me out.

Right now, he's in that sweet spot: between leaps and spurts. His sunny disposition is back, and just in the nick of time. Monday's social media update summed it up perfectly: "I'm having an amazing day with this little guy filled with grins from ear-to-ear, belly-laughs, and giggles. The last month has been *so* hard for me as a mother. It's like he knew just what I needed."

2. Awesome Day Out on Tuesday:

click to enlarge
On Tuesday, Aiden and I ventured out together for over 6 hours. We met up with a neighbor and her son at Hobby Lobby; and then the two of us ventured on our own, finishing off the day having lunch together at Qdoba (he snacked on his toys), HomeGoods, and Trader Joe's.

I wore him in the Ergo everywhere we went, and his little legs hanging out the side brought smiles and coos to many fellow shoppers. He's pretty much the star of the show wherever we end up (humblebrag).

It was one of the longest solo outings I've done with him, and he did SO WELL. I felt empowered, as silly as that may sound.

Previously, when my back was consistently bothering me, I was too scared to hurt myself when I was on my own. And during his very fussy periods, it just seems easier not to go anywhere. Though, I've since decided that I'm going to try and get out even if he's having a bad day, because maybe all he'll need is a change of scenery.

3.) This

4.) This Blooper Picture

Right before we went to lunch, I snapped some pictures of Aiden and I. Most of them didn't turn out (which is to be expected), but this one just made me laugh. A lot. Like mother, like son. Sweet faces, yo.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

7 Months

Sweet boy, you are 7-months-old today and it's blowing my mind. You are smiley, and loving, and giggly, and curious as all-get-out. But most of all, you are GROWING. In every sense of the word.

Part of this growth means you're fighting naps, and lately, bedtime, and you're just giving me a taste of my own medicine I suppose. (Grandma & Grandpa always say I was quite the challenging baby.) I've often not known the cause of your troubles; but in just the last few days, I've noticed that you've gotten a lot taller, longer, bigger, stronger (yeah, it HURTS when you pinch & pull). So, it seems as though another growth spurt is upon us. Admittedly, I haven't been Googling things, or reading up on BabyCenter as frequently, so I'm not anticipating changes as well as when you were a newborn.

Also? You now have 2! bottom front teeth; and it appears as though one of your top front teeth may be coming in, too! Those suckers are sharp, and I try not to keep my fingers anywhere near your mouth. Teething has been another huge source of your discontent. You try to chomp down on anything and everything. I've seen you try to bite the floor on more than one occasion. I'm not happy to admit that a couple of times (like last night), the only way I've gotten you to calm down is to turn on the TV, and let you suck on an ice cube that I've wrapped in a towel. It seems like the motion of the TV distracts you from whatever it is that's making you cry.

That's kind of been the name of my game lately- distraction. You've been so quick to cry in the last few weeks, that I'm always trying to be one step ahead and coming up with ideas to make you stop crying before you've even started. I sing, make weird noises, dance, and generally make a fool of myself; but if it means you aren't thinking about whatever pain you're in, I'm all for it.

We also introduced solids this past month (bananas was the first thing- you were a pro!, otherwise mostly organic oatmeal). I don't give them to you much right now (trying to mainly breastfeed until you're 1), but so far you've enjoyed the experience. You tried cantaloupe a few days ago, and it was your first food in its natural state. You were pretty skeptical at first, but you really liked it in the end. This series of pictures is just the best. That face!

click to enlarge

The 6th month of your life was probably the most challenging so far, but you always managed to make me smile or laugh right when I needed it most. No matter how hard being a parent is, no matter how long the days feel; the months are short, and my heart is so full of love for you. You are the light of our lives, little boy. And that will never change.

1.) Smiley after Wonder Week 26 2.) At Aiden's first wedding (a family friend's) 3.) Wearing his In-N-Out onesie for the first time 4.) Watching one of the many gorgeous sunsets with Daddy 5.) First trip to the zoo - the penguin exhibit 6.) Last Wednesday, when he only napped for 20 minutes in 14 hours 7.) Hangin' out on Daddy's side of the bed 8.) Practicing using a sippy cup. 9.) Smiley after Wonder Week 26

Monday, August 19, 2013

California Dreamin'

Source: Unknown
Tuesday night, we finally booked our trip to Southern California. A 90th Birthday celebration for both of my maternal grandparents had been in the works for months, until a last-minute semi-emergency surgery for my grandpa had to take place. 90% of the left artery in his neck was blocked, and luckily everything went absolutely perfect to repair it.

Because my grandpa lacks the ability to just rest, we had to postpone the party until he fully recovered, so he wouldn't overwork himself in preparation for guests.

But now, it's official! I'll be flying into Long Beach on September 25th, and staying until October 9th. I'm pretty nervous, because I've never flown with a baby before, and we haven't traveled very far since Aiden was 9-weeks-old. My parents are going to be on the same flight as I am, and my mom will be flying back with me and the baby. It'll be nice to have their help, but it's still giving me a bit of anxiety.

Due to work schedules, Zac is flying out later on the 25th, and coming home on October 4th. In fact, he's not only flying a different airline, but he'll be flying into a different airport (LAX)! That's the beauty of Southern California, there are always options. The 4th - 9th will be my first time solo parenting (barring any developments between then and now), and that also seems a bit daunting. I know I can do it, but I just might need a vacation from my vacation at that point.

I shouldn't focus too much of the tiny "negatives," because I'm truly excited for this trip. It'll be the first time my family will meet our little guy; the first time he sees the California Coast that I hold so close to my heart; the first time he gets to feel the love of a large, extended family; the first time sand filters between his tiny toes.

Oh, and In-N-Out.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Uncovering My Path

Sometimes I feel like I'm waiting for an answer that I don't know the question to.

I constantly feel like I'm searching for something. What's my purpose? I feel like I'm floating in space with nothing to reel me in.

I need something, someone, to point me in the right direction.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Recipe: Cucumber Salsa

I absolutely love cucumbers and Southwest flavors; so when I stumbled upon a cucumber salsa recipe, I had to make it. Like, yesterday. I can honestly say that I use every ingredient in this dish on a regular basis, so I knew it'd be a home run.

This is how I made it (as always, I'm an on-the-fly kind of cook, so I never measured. These are all approximations):


3 large English hothouse cucumbers, diced (3-pack from Costco julienned with a mandolin, and then the strips were diced)
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro (I like a lot of cilantro, so keep that in mind)
1/4 bunch chopped parsley
1/2 c low-fat sour cream (I'm going to try it with greek yogurt next time)
1/2 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced (I like a lot of garlic, too)
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp ground coriander (can be omitted)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8-1/4 tsp ground cayenne
Fresh cracked pepper to taste (approx. 1/2 tsp)
Kosher salt to taste (approx. 1/4 tsp)

Yield: About 5 cups of deliciousness

We forgot to grab a jalapeño at the store, so I added the chili powder and cayenne for a little bit of kick. You can also add diced tomatoes, if that's your thing. I personally don't like them.

I tossed everything together at one time, no need for separate bowls. Ain't nobody got time for that. The salsa kept beautifully for 2 days in the fridge before it was all gobbled up, and I'm guessing it could've made it another day or 2.

This recipe brought me to tears. No, really! That onion was the most potent one I've ever encountered. But seriously, this is SO good. I'll be making it year-round.

Recipe Adapted From Here

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Motivation: I Haz None

I don't know what it is lately (oh, maybe this little child I have sucking the energy out of me), but I just can't seem to motivate myself to just work out already. I started going back to the gym about 2 1/2 months ago, but then I got a little scared when my back started to hurt. I didn't want to risk more back problems, but I ended up doing myself a disservice by not working out any more. Fitness begets fitness, and my back problem simply won't go away until I get back into shape.

It's just too easy to say "I'm too tired today" or "I'll start after this growth-spurt/developmental-leap/teething-pain is over." But what I'm discovering is that it never ends. There will always be something that can "get in the way" of working out, or making better choices. I just simply need to do it. Aiden seems to be getting back to his usual self, albeit slowly, and hopefully I can squeeze in some at-home workouts while he naps; because this gym thing is not possible during the day. If I create more opportunities to exercise, I'm hoping it'll be easier to get into the habit. 

All I know is, I'm tired of feeling bad about myself and looking 6-months-pregnant when I'm 6-months-postpartum.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

6 Months

Aiden turned six-months-old on Sunday, and I just can't believe we're half-way to a year.

Each day, my baby is growing up more and more, and it just kinda breaks my heart a little. I escaped to Target for a few hours on Saturday night, the first time by myself in weeks. As I was browsing the baby food aisle, I got a lump in my throat because, wow, my sweet little boy is actually ready for real food. 

It's all happening so fast. You know it will, and yet the reality of it all still stings.


Last Thursday, we had his 6-month check-up, and he's still a little peanut. He weighed in at 14 lbs .2 oz, and measured 24.5" long. That puts him in the 4th! percentile. He's still following his own growth pattern perfectly, so I'm still not worried about it. Zac was a small baby too, so we're not really all that surprised. 

It was time for more vaccinations: 5 shots and one oral liquid. He took the shots pretty well. He didn't cry too much, and he seems to be handling it quite a lot better than his 4-month ones (those made him projectile vomit for about 24-hours, and he had a slight fever- fun!).

I say seems because he's actually been quite fussy for a week, and it got worse after his shots. I'm attributing his fussiness to a few things: teething, wonder week 26 (I've found this really applicable for us), and probably a bit of a reaction to the vaccines.

He is most definitely experiencing a developmental leap, which is both awesome and tiresome at the same time. He's super fussy, clingy, doesn't nap well, cries a lot more... BUT, he's also getting a lot better at doing things like getting around, trying to crawl, and almost able to sit-up unassisted. That, and the solid-foods thing. He's definitely showed signs (namely, a huge interest in what we're eating) of being ready to eat actual food.

We were going to give him his first taste of food on Thursday after we got the blessing from our pediatrician, but then we decided to wait a few days until we wouldn't mix up a possible reaction to food with a reaction to the vaccines.

I think we're in the clear now, and we'll either be taking the plunge tonight or tomorrow. His first food will be bananas. Fitting, because him growing up so quickly is exactly that. Bananas.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


It's pretty funny to me that just as my blogging inspiration strikes, my computer done broke. The monitor is pulling the base apart, and it's getting so hot, its nearly burned both Zac and I. 

Right now I'm writing this on my Blogger app from my phone (which coincidentally seems to be having its own problems), so I'm not even sure how this is going to look. 

We figured it wouldn't be cost effective to try and repair our 2-year-old laptop, so we semi-custom ordered a new one from When in doubt, I buy from Costco. Their return policies have never done us wrong (we bought & returned 3 different mattresses until we were satisfied- no questions asked).

The downside is that the estimated ship date wasn't until July 10th, so for right now our 13-year-old Sony Vaio desktop (that has NEVER been upgraded) is having to get the job done. I might as well be chiseling into stone, it's so ridiculous. Until then, I'm not sure I can be bothered with updating from my phone.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

5 Months

As of yesterday, Aiden is now 5-months-old. I know. He's growing and changing every day, and it just blows my mind. Last night, almost out of nowhere, he started to laugh, giggle, and smile at the dog for the very first time. Parker sneezed, and apparently, that's one of Aiden's favorite things. It was the first time he's laughed unprovoked, and it was simply the sweetest.

He made a full transition to the nursery 3 nights ago, and it took a lot of energy not to get to the ugly cry. I shed a few tears as I changed him before bed, but I kept it together. I am one sentimental fool lately. It's pretty funny, and a little surprising. Before he was born, I always expected Aiden to sleep in our room for the first 3 months out of necessity. What I didn't expect was to get so attached to his presence. Just to know he was a couple of feet away, nestled in the pack 'n play was so comforting to me.

In the last couple of weeks he's started rolling around like crazy, but only to his right (though yesterday it really seemed like he was trying for the left). And just one week ago, we witnessed his first success at crawling. It's kind of like an inch worm, or army crawl, but I'll be damned if he isn't going places!

We're starting to make strides with his sleeping schedule, namely nap time. It isn't perfect yet, but he's had more 1-3 hour naps in the last 5 days than he has in the last few MONTHS combined. He just hasn't been a great napper. But, I'm really focusing on the eat, play, sleep mantra and it seems to be helping our cause. Maybe I'll actually be able to take a nap myself. Wouldn't that be lovely. He's also been swaddle-free since Wednesday. He's out there Jerry, and he's loving every minute of it!

There've been a lot of big changes for us in the last few days. I just wish he'd slow down sometimes. There's no rush.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Ten years ago today was the beginning of our happily ever after. As we sat in darkness along the Myrtle Edwards waterfront, you asked if you could put your arm around me. It was our first date, and I couldn't believe it was actually happening. We'd spent hours along this stretch of Seattle- talking, wandering.

As we walked back to your car, 5 hours after the start of our evening, you reached out and held my hand. You still do this, and it makes me just as happy as it did that night. I've always thought my hand nestles perfectly into yours.

Our goodnight hug lasted for 30 minutes, but felt like 1. I kept looking up at you, studying your face, thinking you might kiss me. But you didn't.  I had butterflies.

It felt right. It was the first day of us.


3 years ago today, it was set in stone. We were now man and wife. There wasn't a single ounce of uncertainty in my body. I was sure. I was ready. We were ready. This was it.

After all of our hardships, our fights, our "breaks," it was now forever.


Today, we have a nearly-5-month-old son. He's our whole world. You're an incredible father. Watching the two of you together absolutely melts my heart.

Sure, there are days when you get on my last nerve. One of your favorite pastimes is annoying me. But, I'm proud to call you my husband. My very best friend. The love of my life.

Each and every day you prove to me that I made the right decision: choosing us.

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp

I'd been trying to wash my hair for the last 2 days. When I shower, I put Aiden in his bouncer and sit him outside the tub. Yesterday, he wasn't having it and started flailing around as soon as I set him down. Commence 4 minute shower with nasty hair the rest of the day. I wore a hat.

Today, Aiden was pretty good for the first ten minutes, but then he started to fuss and try to push himself off of the bouncer. For a second, I thought he was going to flip over backwards. Uhhh, no bueno.

Next thing I know, I'm dancing naked to "Under The Sea" (I had Pandora on the Toddler station) with shampoo still in my hair in an attempt to calm him. 4 minutes later, I'm shaving my legs with the curtain half open and singing "5 little monkeys jumping on the bed..." as he's not sure whether to continue crying or plug his ears.

I finally finish showering after many "it's okays, I'm almost dones," and I'm rewarded with "Mah Na Mah Na," which is quite possibly the worst ear-worm known to man.

This is my life now.  ♫ Do do do do ♪

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Out of Place

Ever since the late stages of pregnancy, my back has been giving me trouble in one way or another. At the end of my pregnancy, it felt like my lower-back/spine was compressed, and I couldn't get it to feel right.

When Aiden was 3-weeks-old, I had a really bad scare with a strained upper-back and ended up in the ER. At first, I wasn't sure what was going on, because all of the sudden I was feeling a burning sensation in my back, I was throwing up, and I could barely breathe. The pain was intense and unrelenting for at least 30 minutes. It was the worst pain of my life, even worse than labor! At one point, I actually called 911 (for the first time ever), because I was alone, and could barely move. I was fearful for not only myself, but for Aiden. I didn't want anything to happen to him if something truly was wrong with me. I'm not a dramatic person by any means, so for me to even consider calling 911, it has to be bad.

After a while, the pain began to ebb-and-flow, which made me realize it was back spasms, and not something worse. I still went to the ER to make sure nothing else was going on, but that's what they deemed to be the cause of my pain, as well. I've had 3 other very intense spasm episodes, but I've been able to keep it in check a little better lately.
Let's just say that taking care of an infant with a bad back can be quite a challenge. For the first few months of his life, I was very hesitant to take him anywhere by myself in case I had more spasms. And it took me about 3 months to feel confident enough to take him out on my own.

Fast forward to last week, and suddenly my lower back is causing me problems again. It feels like I need to pop, or stretch, but I just can't get it loosened up. Sometimes I end up walking like an elderly person, or hunched over because it's so tight and compressed. Whenever I walk up stairs, or roll over in bed, I can feel something click. That... can't be good.

It's been suggested to me that I visit a chiropractor. There are few things in life that freak me out, but the popping of bones and joints is one of them. I wonder if my nerves would prevent me from reaping the full benefit of an adjustment. 

I just know I need to do something. It's preventing me from being able to exercise as much as I want to, get out as much as I want to, and babywear as much as I want to. It's just getting in the way of my LIFE. I'm over it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

And Then It Hit Me

With each passing day, the more it sinks in that this is our reality now. He's here to stay, and I'm in charge of him. He depends on me

Being a parent is hard, y'all.

Toward the end of my pregnancy, everyone was all up in my face about "Is he here yet?! Aren't you excited?! Are you in labor yet? Aren't you ready for him to be here?! Are you in labor? Why aren't you more excited?" It took a lot of energy not to tell people to STEP OFF.

Truth be told, out of everyone, I was the MOST okay with him chillin' inside me for a little while longer. I was scared shitless to actually *have* him, but I also knew that a big change was coming. Sure, you never know what it's like until you're actually in the thick of it, but I knew whatever it was, it wouldn't be easy.

Let me be clear; I LOVE LOVE LOVE this little boy. So much. His smile could melt the hardest of hearts. But every time he's crying in the middle of the night, it gets a liiiiiittle bit harder for me to muster the energy to fling myself out of bed. I'm just so tired.

Around 9-weeks-old, he started "sleeping through the night," which meant WE slept through the night, and I thought our sleep situation would be sunshine and rainbows for a while. SILLY STEPHANIE. Try a month, tops. Schedule readjustments (him needing an earlier bedtime) sprinkled with some growth spurts meant REGRESSION, and back to waking up 1-3 times every night. One of my biggest challenges with this right now is that for some reason my brain keeps going a mile a minute, even if I'm dead tired. I'm losing precious minutes of sleep just because I simply can't stop thinking.

Aiden's only 4.5-ish months old, but sometimes I can't help but feel like I'm already failing. There are days when I'm just so run-down that I feel like I'm not being a good mother, or a good wife- I didn't hold him enough, talk to him enough, didn't do those dishes, left him too long in the activity gym, dinner isn't ready, tried to get him to sleep more than he might need because I need to sleep. That last one makes me feel like a jerk. 

Ultimately, I think I really need to force myself to go to bed earlier, and get out of the house more. I'm sure I'm not doing myself any favors by staying in the house a lot of the time. We need a change of scenery. It'd be good for both of us. It has to be.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Makeup Monday (Err, Tuesday)

When Maria asked via Twitter if anyone wanted to participate in #MakeupMonday during the month of May, I knew immediately that I'd want to participate. It would give me the perfect excuse to actually put some effort into my appearance; something that I've found easy to let slide ever since becoming a stay-at-home-mom.

For the first Monday, I went all out and did a full-face of makeup, including false eyelashes. Before having Aiden, I loved to put on falsh lashes, but I hadn't done it once since he was born.

Products Used:
1. Yes To Tomatoes Daily Moisturizing Lotion (this is great for use with foundation)
2. Revlon Colorstay Foundation in Combo/Oily, I mixed it with...
3. Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow - a Birchbox sample
4. Dermablend Concealer - another Birchbox sample, I love this stuff.
5. Clinique Airbrush concealer
6. Wet 'N' Wild Eye Palette in Nude Awakening
7. Urban Decay Primer Potion - a must have for my hooded lids
8. Physicians Formula Eyeliner
9. Ardell Wispies False Lashes
(Not Pictured)
10. Milani Baked Blush in Corallina
11. Revlon Lip Butter in Wild Watermelon
12. NYC Bronzer in Sunny


This picture motivated me to go in and groom my eyebrows (eek); and my participation has encouraged me to keep up with maintaining my appearance. It might seem vain, but it has really been a bit of a morale booster for me. And I need all of the boosting I can get.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Day That Changed Our Lives Forever

Scene: May 20, 2012. Zac and I were walking to our car on a Sunday evening after a long day at work.

"Well, should we go get a pregnancy test?"

"I guess."

"I'm sure it'll be negative. They always are. I'm hungry. Let's go to Walmart where we can get Subway and a test and get home quickly. I have to pee, but I want to hold it until I take the test."

"All right."
In the car on the way home from Walmart

"I don't know, I feel like I might actually be pregnant. I just have a feeling. Ahh, nah. I'm sure it's nothing... Drive faster, I really have to go!"

"Do you want me to wait while you take the test?"

"Nah. You're hungry! I'm sure it's nothing."
 At the table where Zac is eating

With tears in my eyes, I nod my head.

With a mouth full of Subway and wide eyes, Zac stands up and muffles, "You're pregnant?!" But it really sounded like "yrrfffhhh prrrrggffftnnnt?!"

"You're going to remember this sandwich forever."

Exactly one year ago, we found out that our lives would be forever changed. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was scared, nervous, excited, overwhelmed, and happy all at once. At roughly 5 weeks pregnant, I knew that if there were no complications, the pregnancy would fly by. That was what kind of freaked me out, that the baby would be there before we knew it. How right I was. 

Now, our little boy is just one day shy of being 4 months old. Some days I still can't believe it. But mostly, I don't know how we ever lived without him.

I wrote more about that day here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sunshine On My Shoulders

There's just something about the Pacific Northwest when the sky is blue, the birds are chirping, and the warmth of the sun hits your body. It's pretty much ALL people can talk, or think about.

When I was almost 9, my family moved to the Seattle area from Southern California. I didn't handle it well at all, and that was when my history of depression really began. Mostly, because of the lack of sunshine. People who aren't sun-starved probably think it's a load of bull, but once you experience it, you'll go, "OH." I've been plagued with SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) for, wow, 21 years. (I just realized that we moved on this very date - May 4th.) 

For some reason, this past winter wasn't as bad for me as it usually is. Maybe it was because I was pregnant, or maybe I'm just getting over it, ever-so-slowly. But it doesn't mean that I get any less excited for impending sunshine and warmth.

I've been seriously dancing in anticipation of this week's weather (70-80 degree temperatures for DAYS & DAYS & DAYS). It just makes my soul feel good. It's getting me excited for summer, when I'll introduce my little guy to swimming, and I can only hope it brings him as much joy as it does to me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to head back outside to soak up this gorgeous day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beautiful Boy

I got as far as entering the title to this post before Zac called out to me, "I think he's hungry again." 

That's pretty much my life now, as a stay-at-home-mom. Breastfeeding the baby, changing his diapers, and trying desperately to get him to sleep. It's been a rough 8 days (honestly, 11). Aiden headed into a full-on sleep regression coupled with another growth spurt, which peaked on Monday.

I got really spoiled at around 7 weeks, when he started to sleep for longer stretches. Once he hit 9 weeks, he was sleeping an average of 8 hours straight. I started to feel human again; and, silly me, I thought that would be our new life for a while. Try a month. On Monday, it almost started to feel like we were back in the newborn stage. Yes, these regressions and spurts are fleeting, but when you're in the thick of it, and all you can think about is the next time you get to collapse into bed, it's hard to keep that perspective.

It's funny, though. Because, it all just makes me fall more in love with him. His helplessness, the way he fits into the curve of my chest after I've nursed him for another half-hour, his full-faced smile as he wakes from yet another 10-minute nap. Sure, I'll audibly sigh "UUUUUGGGHHHHH, just go to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep," when I'm trying to catch a nap for myself. But when he does really fall asleep for the night? I miss him.

I just said this to Zac the other night. That I spend all day trying to get Aiden to sleep, counting down the hours and minutes until Zac gets home, so he can take over for a bit, and/or put Aiden to bed. But then when he finally crashes, it's like something is missing. It's like a phantom limb. He belongs in my arms.

While feeding Aiden yesterday, I caught an episode of "The New Normal" on demand. During a birth montage played a song that I'd (surprisingly, as I consider myself somewhat of a music aficionado) never heard before. It was "Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon. I assumed it was The Beatles, but I Shazamed that shit, and was proven otherwise. Immediately, I listened to it on YouTube, and fought back tears.

I thought it would be the perfect time to try out this Pinterest cheat, because I knew I'd found the song that I will play as a part of his bedtime routine. (By the way, that "cheat" works awesomely.)  

I tested it out on my iPhone last night as I bounced him to sleep, and boom, just like that, the tears began to fall. It feels like the postpartum hormones are never going to cease, because sometimes my heart just swells with so much love, it pours out of my eyes. 

Darling, darling, darling, darling Aiden.

photo courtesy of Heather Schwenk Photography

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How I Accidentally Became A SAHM

6 months ago, at nearly 30-weeks pregnant, I was fired from my job of 4 years. Before that day, I'd never even had so much as a warning at any job I've held.

Sometimes I still can't believe it, because it caught me totally off-guard, and I'm still quite flabbergasted with the entire situation. The reason why I don't really talk about it in public is because my husband and I were co-workers, and he still works there. The dust has definitely settled, and as I stated in an earlier post, I was going to delve into the details. 

However, after some discussion, because Zac is still with the company we don't feel comfortable publicly disclosing what happened in full.

That being said, it turned out to be such a blessing in disguise. We were pretty outraged at first, and scrambling to figure out our next course of action. But shortly thereafter, we realized we'd be just fine. I was able to finish out my pregnancy by getting as much rest and preparation in as possible before the baby's arrival, instead of worrying how I'd be able to continue working as my stomach grew larger and my body grew weary. 

Life definitely threw us an unexpected twist when this went down, but I tend to believe the phrase "everything happens for a reason." And so far, things are going pretty damn well.

*If you're truly curious what happened, feel free to ask in private.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

3 Months

Today, our little boy turned 3 months old. It's true what they say, that kids grow up so fast. Each day, I try to remember this, and soak up each moment that I can. Being a new parent is not without its challenges, but I've been proud of myself that I've managed to keep my cool throughout this experience. 

I'm able to laugh at things like being peed, pooped, and spit-up on. I haven't yet become angry at the (incredibly) early morning wake-ups. That's saying something, because this girl LOVES to sleep. Trust. But, when I peer into his pack-n-play that's beside our bed, and his little eyes light up as soon as he sees me; well, it just washes away any annoyance that I have for being so exhausted. And then I hope he'll go back to sleep easily, so I can get more rest. Just keepin' it real. 

Every day I fall deeper in love with this child. He brings Zac and I so much joy, and seeing them interact often brings me to tears. The happiest kind. 

With each new month, I take photos to commemorate our growing boy. Today, after 10+ months of not using our digital camera, I finally broke it out again. It reminded me that I really need to brush up on my photography skills, because I already forgot what little knowledge I had. I also wished that I thought of using the elephant as our monthly photo friend before today. Ah, well. Better late than never. Here's one of the shots that wasn't terribly blurry or out of focus:

Aiden - 3 Months Old

Saturday, April 20, 2013

We Meet Again

Well, I just (foolishly?) renewed this domain, so I thought I should probably write something. I've had a couple of major life changes since we last spoke:

-I was fired from my job (the first time that's ever happened to me) at 30 weeks pregnant. I'll delve into that a little more later.

-I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy on January 21st. We named him Aiden. He'll be 3 months old tomorrow, and I just can't believe it. I can see little changes in him as each day passes, but one thing remains constant: he is the light of my life.

I've been wanting to write more, but have been terribly busy, or just haven't known when to start. But, you've got to start somewhere. And so this is me, starting again. Hello.