A Day in the Life

4a: Cupcake wakes up. I nurse her. I bring her into bed for morning snuggles. We both fall back asleep.

5a: My alarm goes off. Cupcake and my husband are still sleeping, but I’m off to my first day back at the gym since my early pregnancy. I’m scared. I putter around the house before working up the courage to leave.

5:30a: Get to gym. Nice girl assists me in signing back up. I hop on a treadmill and run a mile at my high school pace (which admittedly is quite slow!), but I’m happy. I walk until I get to 20 minutes total. I want an easy peasy first day so I don’t get discouraged. I stretch and do ab exercises. I come home because I really need to nurse Cupcake (you mamas know what I mean).

6:45a: Cupcake is ecstatic to see me! I almost cry from joy at the reunion. This is the first time since she’s been born that I really feel like I took time for me. Big lesson- it was okay . Everyone survived. My husband and Cupcake had the greatest daddy-daughter time. It was good for everyone. I shower.


7:15a: I make us breakfast. Cupcake eats oatmeal, which she loves more than almost anything.  Except her spoon. She really loves her spoon.IMG_2536.JPG


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IMG_2535.JPG8:15a: I have been trying to find the perfect dairy-free cupcake recipe for my mom’s birthday on Saturday. Today I make my third attempt.

While the latest batch is cooking, Cupcake shares an apple with us. We can no longer have apples to ourselves. She loves apples!


9a: I set my husband and I up for a little morning cake-tasting!

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9:15a: My husband leaves for the gym while Cupcake and I complete errands and play.

10a: Cupcake naps while I complete today’s chore: Thursday-Tub/Toilets! We have a lot of company coming over the course of the weekend, so I’m glad it’s sparkling clean now!

10:30a: Cupcake wakes up. Husband comes home. Cupcake crawls around the house wherever we go. We make lunch and hang out. Cupcakes chases our kitties around the house.

12n: Husband leaves for work. Cupcake and I decide to go to our (my) favorite store- Target! I am sorely disappointed that I do not find what I am looking for.

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1pm: Go to play date at park with friends.
Cupcake loves the swings, but loves staring at the cutie pie little girls on the swings next to us more!

3:30p: Cupcake naps for only 10 minutes on the way home. She won’t go back down for her real nap. I am prepared for baby meltdown. Instead I am surprised with a very happy and playful baby!

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4:30p: The mail comes and Cupcake receives a card! She loved opening it!

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4:47p: Cupcake stands without assistance! No picture because I was amazed- she only just turned seven months old! So cool!

5:10p: My best friend gets out of work and we have a phone date. Husband comes home. Olivia tries to take all the books off the book case.

5:20p: In order to make room in the fridge for all of the big cooking I will be doing this weekend, we have leftovers for dinner. The chicken drumsticks I made earlier in the week taste even better tonight!

6:10p: We start Cupcake’s bedtime routine. Chris gives her a bubble bath while I clean up dinner. I love hearing their giggles during this special daddy-daughter time! Then, I come back to help with cozying her up in a fluffy towel, changing her, and brushing those cute little chiclets!

6:45p: We come upstairs, give her reflux meds, and I nurse her. Typically, I nurse her, we read a few books, and then I nurse her again quickly before she falls asleep. Since she’s barely napped today, she falls asleep while I nurse her the first time. I’m sad to miss out on story time, but glad she’ll get the sleep she needs.

7:15p: Chris and I watch DVR’d Modern Family. We chat about our plans for tomorrow and finalize weekend plans. We watch Mike&Molly reruns.

9:15p: I’m exhausted. I lay out all of my stuff for the gym for tomorrow. I make sure I have an orange and black outfit because I celebrate holidays in a big way! I cannot WAIT to share this holiday with Cupcake tomorrow!

Rosemary Pork Chops

So today started an awesome next few weeks where my husband only works half days! It is amazing to have him home and both Cupcake and I adore it!

One downside is it became 4:30 and I realized we were having so much fun I hadn’t thought to plan out dinner! I had no clue what we had in the house or what I was going to make.

I had pulled out pork chops from the freezer last night in anticipation of making one meal, but we were out of half the ingredients. So it was up to me to experiment! Let me just say, I think it came out pretty darn good.

Ingredients:
4 boneless pork chops
2 onions, chopped
4 T apple cider vinegar
Rosemary
Garlic Powder
Salt
Pepper
1 T Olive oil

Directions:
1. Generously season pork chops with rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper
2. Heat pan with Olive oil over medium heat. Add pork chops. Cook on one side for approx. 8 minutes, flip once and cook throughly.
3. While pork chops are cooking, add chopped onions and apple cider vinegar to a second pan. Sprinkle with garlic and rosemary. Heat on low, stirring frequently. Remove from heat when soft.

My secret trick: Trim a piece of cooked pork fat when flipping chops. Add to onions during cooking for extra flavor. Remove prior to serving!

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My Favorite Thing About the Holidays

There are just two months until Christmas! Anyone who knows me knows I adore the holiday season. I never get upset when I see Christmas things in stores early!

This time of year truly is my favorite. I love watching the world around my burst into color as the leaves change. I love the smell of the crisp air. The cooler weather makes me want to surround myself with loving family and friends somewhere warm and cozy.

It’s hard to pick just one favorite thing about the holidays. I love the fun of it, starting with Halloween. It is a simple holiday that requires none of the stress of the rest of the holiday season. I also really love the thought that on Halloween, you go out and purchase treats for your neighbors whom you may rarely interact with. It’s just so simple and so happy.

Who doesn’t love the food of the holidays? Well, maybe every dieter out there, but you can make delicious and healthy foods, too! I love bringing out those special family recipes reserved for this time of year.

I also love the music! Christmas music warms my soul. Year-round, when I’m upset, a little cookie baking and Christmas music revives me like almost nothing else. It’s fun and happy and I can’t get enough! I’m already counting down the days until it’s on the radio!

This year will be a bit more special, though. It’s Cupcake’s first holiday season and I cannot wait to share with her all the magic that it holds. Coming together with family and friends is even more meaningful to me now that I have her.

I wandered around the store the other day and we stumbled upon some Christmas decorations already up! I think she’s hooked 🙂

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Easy, Edible Oatmeal Playdough

Today is a dreary autumn day. As was yesterday. And the day before.

I actually quite enjoy the drizzly fall weather, but this stay at home mom does not like to stay at home all day! I also do not like to waste money. We fill our days with trips to the library and walks around the neighborhood. We go grocery shopping and run errands.

I did not feel like schlepping Cupcake in and out of stores while trying not to get rained on. The only thing with a parking garage is the mall, and again, I like to save my pennies.

So what the heck can you do with a seven month old after they’ve played with the same toys all week? Introducing edible oatmeal Playdough!

Cupcake has slowly been introduced to solids. Girl takes after her mama with most of her food preferences. One of her favorites is oatmeal. Oatmeal is also mushy and gushy and has a fun texture. So, I thought it’d be perfect.

To avoid the lumpiness of traditional oatmeal, I used the grain miller attachment on my food processor to make the oatmeal into a fine powder. I also used instant oatmeal with nothing added to it (no flavor, sugar, salt- just plain) because that’s what we give Cupcake. I personally prefer the plain oatmeal for kids, but to each their own!

Ingredients:
1/2 c instant plain oatmeal (ground to fine powder)
1 c water

Directions:
Mix oatmeal powder and water in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute. A solid dough-like substance will start to solidify on the bottom of the bowl, with liquid on top. Mix well. Heat additional minute and repeat mixing until fully blended.

“Dough” will be very hot. Allow to cool to not burn little hands.

Since Cupcake has not been introduced to many foods, I only used oatmeal and water, which results in a very squishy “dough.” This was okay for me because she can’t really build anyway and was definitely going to put it all in her mouth (see pictures below!).

For older children, add flour to warmed mixture to get desired texture. It won’t taste great (which is probably good!) but it will hold together.

Do you have any good recipes for edible dough using other ingredients? Eventually Cupcake will be able to have more foods and with winter fast approaching, I’m sure we’ll have many more days of making playdough ahead!

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Today is a bleak autumn day in New England. I love it! It is made for cozy sweaters and warm socks. It is also made for chicken noodle soup.

I’ve never made my own soup. My mom makes a magnificent soup, so I was scared to attempt it. But today was made for soup!

Ingredients:
2 32 oz boxes of Chicken Broth
3 cups cooked shredded chicken
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 c baby carrots, chopped
1 c uncooked egg noodles
Pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Directions:
Put all ingredients in pot over low heat. Season to taste. Cook 30 minutes .

Makes eight 1-cup servings

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I served ours with biscuits. It was amazing! Perfect for a chilly day. I will definitely be attempting this again, soon.

What ingredients do you add to your chicken noodle soup? Leave me a comment below so I can try it for next time!

The Most Important Decision You Ever Made

My friend Matt posted this on his blog today about the most life-changing decision he ever made: to work at McDonalds. Matt is an accomplished teacher who helped from my career, in addition to being a wonderful author. His Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend may be one of my most favorite books ever. Seriously, go read his stuff!

Anyways, it got me thinking about what my moment would be.

It was deciding to go to UConn (go huskies!!!).

If you know me, you’d know that I don’t like a lot of attention and get embarrassed quite easily. However, on the day I moved in my freshman year, I saw a girl that I knew walking through the quad of her housing complex. I yelled out to her with all of my might. People definitely stared, but I didn’t care. I needed someone I knew!

She quickly became my best friend at college and I would never have survived without her! Reaching out to her lead me on the path towards my life.

Devra started dating someone she met in college. He went to high school with a guy named Ran, who had coincidentally been in my eighth grade English class before moving away.

At a summer party at Devra’s boyfriend’s house, Ran and I got to talk. I had gotten out of a serious relationship a few months earlier and was looking to start dating again. Ran had just started medical school and told me that he knew someone that would be great for me. I thought he was crazy and didn’t think much more of it.

Weeks later, Ran invited me out to a dinner with a group of friends. Little did I know, my future husband would be at that dinner. I sat across from him and, although there were 15 people there, all I really remember is talking to him.

By the time of our first kiss, we knew we were going to get married. We were engaged less than a year later. My life couldn’t be more wonderful and joyous because I married Chris, which gave us Cupcake.

So many decisions lead me to this beautiful life, but it all started with UConn and Devra!

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Transformation Tuesday

Well this is transformation Tuesday and usually people write about their weight loss or something like that.

I’m going to bring you a different type of transformation.

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Day 2 of Momming vs. Day 144
(Yes, I counted)

The picture on the left is our first full day together as mommy and baby. It was the day she earned her nickname from her big cousin who insisted she was either Gilbert or Cupcake. I’m glad we got that settled 🙂

On Day 2, I was feeling excited, overwhelmed and in a tiny bit of pain. I was very in love, but not in the overwhelming way yet. I needed time at home to get to know her. I loved all of our doctors and nurses, but I felt so unsure of myself with them all around. Would I be able to do it on my own? Would I be an okay mom? Who was this little person and did I really get to keep her? Why the f did nursing hurt this much and would I be able to stick it out? For real- I get to keep her?

On Day 144, I have transformed into the mama that I am. I know that little girl and I love her more than words can say. She is the brightest spot in my life. Cupcake knows to look for me when someone asks, “Where’s Mommy?” She knows who I am. And I know her. I know that little smile and her one dimple (just like me!). I know that giggle and those beautiful blue eyes (just like Daddy!). I have been blessed with nearly seven months of nursing her and am happily still going strong. I can decipher which cry means I don’t really need anything. Just pick me up and cuddle me and which means I’m just crying because I can’t make words yet. I’m okay. On Day 2, they all sounded the same.

I still am unsure at times, but I know now that there isn’t always a right answer. What works for Cupcake might not work for her someday future siblings. I am finding my way, momming the best that I can.

This is the happiest of transformations for me. I can’t wait to see what that little girl does next!

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A Day in the Life

7:30a- I wake up with a start wondering where Cupcake is and how it got so late. Then I feel her snuggled up beside me. It is only about 30 degrees this morning, so I appreciate my cute heat pack. I also super appreciate that she’s still asleep!

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I’m really hoping all this extra sleep is a sign she’s on her way to recovery from being so sick! This is so unlike her. Usually she’s up for the day at 5:30. Enjoying the peace and quiet of this morning, but wishing she were in her crib so I could go do something! That’s my hardest momming battle- I feel like I should use every second she’s asleep to clean/cook/etc. I’m glad I’m forced to slow down and relax this morning!

 

 

 

 

8:20a- She’s awake! Yay! I love that sleepy-eyed look!

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8:40a- Cupcake eats breakfast. She tried oatmeal for the first time yesterday and is in love! It’s nice to see her appetite returning after being so sick last week!

9a- Cupcake plays while I eat breakfast and have my tea.

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10a- We head to the grocery store! Cupcake loves grocery shopping and today a sweet elderly lady took a liking for her. We walked around the store together, which made the trip longer, but more enjoyable. Using a bajillion coupons, I manage to get all of our groceries for the week for less than $70!!! That includes some delicious kale and organic apples for Cupcake.

11:15a- Get home. Unpack groceries. Call credit union to confirm that I did officially pay off my car (waaaay ahead of time! Go me!) Cupcake is definitely sleepy, but not quite ready for her nap so I let her play quietly while I attend to some chores and eat lunch.

12:15p- I nurse her and she falls asleep around 12:30. I switch around the laundry and start cleaning. In order to keep myself scheduled, I have assigned a chore per day to focus on. Monday=Mop Day. I sweep and mop the kitchen, dining room, living room and bathroom. Cupcake magically wakes up as soon as I put away the mop… Which is both perfect timing and annoying.

IMG_2377.JPG2:00p- I realize that I haven’t changed her into an outfit yet for the day and realize we’re closer to bedtime than when she woke up, so there’s no point now and declare it pajama day! (Shameless attempt to not feel badly about still being in my pjs, too). We play with this new toy.

Anyone else own this? Cupcake does not seem entirely thrilled by it. I try to show her how to use it, but overall, I think she finds it boring. Also, it has a terrifying laugh that sounds straight out of a scary movie. Not my favorite toy ever, that’s for sure!

 

 

 

 

3:30p- Hubby gets an amazing interview offer for his residency!!! Cupcake and I celebrate by her watching me chop peppers for Daddy’s favorite dinner (lazy stuffed peppers).

4p- I decided to go for a run. Cupcake loves going for a run so much she falls asleep right away!

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We get home, I shower and then finish supper.

5:15p- Hubby gets home and we eat an early dinner. To celebrate getting an interview offer, we head to the grocery store to find a yummy dessert. I can’t eat dairy still, so while he gets an M&M cookie sandwich, I get chips and guacamole! We sit and watch Jeopardy while Cupcake plays.

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8p- We brush both of Cupcake’s teeth, read her a book, and get her ready for bed. She falls asleep.

8:30p- I realize that I’m starting to feel kind of unwell and fear I’m getting sick. I decide to tuck myself in bed early and pray Cupcake stays asleep.

10:30p- Cupcake wakes up. I nurse her and she falls back asleep. I fall asleep around 11! Whew, am I beat!

Books I am Reading Now

As part of the October Blogging Challenge, today is about the books I am reading now.

This makes me really super sad actually. All of the books I am reading now are children’s books! Now, as a former teacher, I actually do not mind that fact so much.

Instead, what I do mind is that I am primarily reading board books-and the quality of literature is often limited. Either they are simple books with no plot, or they are so drastically cut down for board book requirements that I do not enjoy it as much.

One book I am super thankful for is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. Even in board book form, it maintains it’s vocabulary and plot line.

One book that was a sore disappointment was a book on colors I found at the bookstore. Do you notice a problem?

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I find this such an odd choice. No writer or editor looked at this and thought, “Hey, maybe blueberries and blackberries shouldn’t go on the purple page?” C’mon people! Babies deserve better than this!

 

 

Occasionally I’ll read a paperback children’s book to Cupcake, which I love, but then she inevitably ends up eating it. It skeeves me out to take any board books from the library knowing how many kiddos probably chewed them up. So, I’ll be on the lookout for quality board books and let you all know if I find any!

I want Cupcake to see me reading some of my own books, too. Any good suggestions? I love reading, but I haven’t made the time, so I’d love to hear what you’re reading lately. Please comment below!

Cupcake Update

Holy moly batman.

The last 48 hours have been tough for poor Cupcake! I attributed her fever to her second tooth popping out earlier this week. You can barely see the new one, but look how cute and happy she was earlier this week:

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Anyway, on Thursday her fever started increasing and was not responding to any meds. Fevers themselves are not a problem, so I wasn’t super worried. She was cranky and clingy, but that’s all par for the teething course. After not sleeping Wednesday night, I set up myself with snacks, drinks and the DVR for another all-nighter. She slept an hour or so, would wake sobbing hysterically, nurse, and fall back asleep. This went all night long and left me very tired Friday morning.

As I sat on the couch to drink my coffee, I noticed Cupcake was covered in a rash. These pictures don’t do justice to how red it was, but it’s an idea.
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I called the doctor and went in. They checked that kid out top to bottom. Asked me if she had been potentially exposed to measles (be still my heart) or anyone else sick. We go out everyday and are in play groups…there were too many opportunities for her to be exposed. The doctor thought it was just a typical virus, but told me to watch carefully.

She fell asleep on the ride home. Inevitably she always wakes up once I bring her in, but not this time. She slept for well over two hours. When she woke, she seemed off. I took her temperature and it had gone up from the morning. I tried entertaining her, but she didn’t want to play. She screamed when I put her down and would wince if I touched her rash (which covered her body, so that was hard to avoid).

Whenever my husband comes home, any troubles Cupcake has had melt away and she’s all smiles. Not yesterday. He walked in and she continued to sob. We took her temp and it had gone up another degree. We ordered dinner and settled in for another long night.

At 9pm, she became inconsolable. Her rash was getting worse and her fever was not responding to medicine. We called the on-call doctor who gave us a few ideas to try. She advised us on what to look for as signs of when to head to the ER. My husband and I were so nervous. We supported one another as we implemented her ideas, adding in lots of prayers for our little girl.

Thankfully, although still very sick, she never was bad enough to warrant an ER trip (thank you God!). She nursed almost the whole night. It was incredible. Thankfully, we were laying in bed so I could get some sleep, but I’ve never seen anything like it. Literally hours of nursing.

When she woke up this morning, her fever had started to break. The rash was (and is) still very present, but she let out one of her mega-watt smiles. Needless to say, I promptly burst into tears and started offering up lots of gratitude for quick healing.

She definitely isn’t 100%. Smiles and laughter were few today, but they did happen! She even played for a little while. I am so grateful it wasn’t something more serious. How do parents do it? Someday, if I ever find myself in a situation with the financial means, I’d love to find more ways to support parents whose children are truly sick. This nearly broke my heart and it was something minor. I don’t even want to imagine.

After her marathon nursing last night, I have been famished all day! I want all the food. In fact, let me go fix a snack now!

Tell me, what’s your favorite healthy snack? I think I’ll have some apple slices and peanut butter!