The Magic of a Blink

It’s amazing how quickly time passes once you become a parent. You find out you are pregnant, blink, and then there is that little miracle looking back at you.

IMG_0916

Before you know it, you foolishly decide to blink again and your newborn is becoming an interactive little one. Our Cupcake was so fascinated in the world around her and loved exploring. Every day was an adventure. You are happily going along when the urge to blink hits once more. Suddenly your infant has transformed once again.

IMG_1821

Now you have a baby. She can play. She can coo. She certainly can tell you in her own little way what she likes and doesn’t like. A personality emerges. Time passes as it always does and you let those eyelids touch for but a moment and instantly a toddler is born.

IMG_4412

These days are punctuated by a flurry of energy. Movement is the name of the game. What is this and how does it work motivates their world. Life is so fun as you crawl, walk, climb. But just as you settle into your new life of action, that blink is waiting.

IMG_7008Now you have a kid. Not a big kid, in global terms, but a bigger kid than you’ve ever known. She not only walks and talks, but she has opinions. Strong ones. And she knows how to express them! Not every adventure is a new one, but it is always an adventure. Don’t blink just yet, mama.

IMG_6602

 

Adventures in Nightweaning 

My dear sweet Cupcake has always been an avid nurser. She suffered from reflux and I think this just served to increase her frequency. All throughout the first year of her life, I would rise several times throughout the night to breastfeed my little girl. It was our special quiet time together. 

Sure, I was tired. There were days that I’d get frustrated, but overall it was a great experience. In the dark she’d need me, her mama, and nothing else could soothe her. As she got older she developed the habit of gently rubbing my arm or twirling my hair as she drifted back to sleep. 

Before Cupcake was born, I had no expectations for breastfeeding. I thought I’d try it and take it day by day. Weeks passed into months and then a year quickly arrived. Cupcake was still nursing 3-4x a night. I was exhausted. 

I was too tired to enjoy the nighttime feeds, but also too tired to cope well during the day. I was suffering. This was when we decided it was time to nightwean Cupcake. I researched various methods and decided that Ferber seemed like the best fit for us. 

I channeled my former elementary teacher self and drew a big poster. I included the “rules” and room for us to record what happened. The first few nights were horrible. Cupcake didn’t sleep. We didn’t sleep. She was a mess during the day and was extremely clingy. Her naps got all screwed up. I pushed on. This had worked for so many people and I knew that if I just pushed through, we’d get through this sleep-deprived tunnel. 

After a week, Cupcake still showed no improvement. Things just were getting worse. I had followed the plan perfectly and it had not worked. She was not ready. I returned to nursing her on-demand at night and my happy little girl returned. 

A few months later I was done. We had just moved several states away from all of our family and friends. My husband had started a very demanding job and I felt alone. I was tired and stressed out and again found myself pouring over parenting websites looking for help. 

I learned that it was normal for babies to still wake through the night at this age. I searched some attachment parenting sites, found support, and resumed nursing her through the night with lifted spirits. I was tired, but not alone. 

As Cupcake grew, we had a few nights where she’s sleep for four hours straight, but those were rare. I was starting to really not enjoy nursing Cupcake all night long. So, I again turned to the Internet and found reference to Dr. Jay Gordon and his method for sleep training.

This is the general idea: The parents select a seven-hour window where they will not nurse. He suggests 11p-6a. On nights 1-4, mom will nurse the child anytime before 11p. If the child wakes up between 11-6, mom will nurse, but will put the baby down awake in his/her crib. Mom will hug/cuddle/sing and comfort baby. The baby cannot get more milk unless they fall asleep. If they fall asleep and rise again, mom repeats the process. After 6am, mom resumes breastfeeding as normal. On nights 5-8, mom will NOT nurse baby between 11p and 6a. She should still comfort baby, but not offer milk until 6am. After night 8, mom will continue to NOT breastfed between 11 and 6. Additionally, she will not pick up baby if (s)he wakes up during those times. Mom can still rub baby’s back and continue to talk or soothe baby. Overtime, baby should stop requesting milk and will hopefully stop waking up during that time. 

Here’s what happened in our house:

Night 1- Cupcake woke up at 10pm. I nursed her as normal and she went back to sleep. She woke up at 1:30a. I briefly nursed her and put her down awake. She called out for more milk, but I told her that “milkies” were sleeping. She cried and asked me to hold her hand. It took her about an hour to fall back asleep. She woke at 6:08 and I nursed her as normal. We survived night 1! 

Night 2: Her first night waking wasn’t until 1am. I was scared of this scenario, since now she was going to be going from 7p-6a without milk. But it was only day 2, so I decided to push on. Again, some (a lot of) hand holding did a lot of good and she slept until 6:30am! Wahoo! 

Night 3: She was really hard to put down for bed tonight. She kept screaming for more milk and wouldn’t settle. I prepared myself for a long night. It was also my husband’s first night back home after a week of night shift. Cupcake woke at 10 and I nursed her. She woke at 2:30 and would not go back to sleep. After trying to console her for over 45 minutes, I walked out of her room. I put on my headphones and listed to a nighttime meditation to block her out. She must have fallen back asleep because I didn’t hear anything from her again until 5:15. In my half-wake state, I picked her up and started nursing her. Whoops! She was then up for the day! Yuck! 

Night 4: huh?! She nursed at 10:30 and then slept until 7! This was great! I was a bit bewildered  by the extra sleep! I was happy, but also a little sad because this was the last night we’d be night nursing and she slept  through it! 

Night 5: I was so scared of this night. No night nursing. How were we going to manage that? I decided I’d offer her a sippy cup of water so I didn’t have to worry she was thirsty. She woke up 10:59 and I dashed to her room to fit in one more session. I kissed her little baby face a million times and may have gotten a bit emotional. I knew this was the right choice. I was happier and more well-rested. I needed this, but it was also sad to see that part of her babyhood end since I knew it was me that was pushing for it. She woke at 12:30. I went in with her water and she cried for milk, but after a few minutes settled for cuddles and water. She woke at 5:47 and I rationalized that she couldn’t tell time so I went to go nurse her. I was greeted by a happy little girl saying, “Hi mama!” Success! 

Nights 6-8: I adjusted her times from 11-5a, since she wakes almost every day in the 5 o’clock hour. With a quick nursing, she goes back to sleep for another hour or two! 

Tonight I supposed to be night 9, where I stop picking her up. I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet, so I’m going to continue what we’re doing because it works for us! 

She has been so much happier these days. I think she is benefitting from the extra sleep. I think having a well-rested mommy is also helping! While this method certainly won’t work for everyone- it worked for us! 

  

September Reflections

As part of my 2015 resolutions, I post my status each month to keep myself accountable for the goals I set for myself!

This month I have not blogged pretty much at all! Life has been a whirlwind. The universe gifted me with two incredible job opportunities that have left me with not a whole lot of extra time. I also went back home for a few days to visit my parents and in-laws and effectively went off the grid for awhile. It felt great. I am finally settling into a new routine and am ready to introduce a new blogging series for October!

Now, on to my goals.

1. Design 2015 budget goals with husband to reflect past spending and current saving goals.

My goal for September was to learn about Dave Ramsey’s budgeting. I read his books, his websites, his blog posts- pretty much anything I could find. My husband and I sat down with renewed energy to tackle our budget and to make some big changes. One of those I mentioned above; I started working again! I have two work at home jobs that I am absolutely loving. Once Cupcake goes down for a nap or for bed, I quickly hop on my computer and get to work. This new addition to our income line will greatly help us toward our savings goals. This was a successful month!

My goals for October are to plan out our holiday budget for family members. If I can start figuring out what we want to gift this year, we can hopefully start to DIY some gifts and look for deals on those we cannot make. Our holiday season gets compounded with our anniversary and a multitude of family birthdays (including my mom’s 60th and my sweetie’s 30th!). Setting a budget this far in advance will really help!
2. Go to the gym (or workout at home) a minimum of four days a week.

This was successful with the exception of one week where I only worked out three times. I have been running around our neighborhood a lot as the weather starts to cool down a little! It has been wonderful. I also acquired an Ergo baby carrier so I can take Cupcake on hikes!

3. Reduce my PR of a 9 min mile pace to an 8 minute mile.

I completed a 7:57 mile in April. This goal is complete!

4. Try one new recipe a week and blog about it.

This was a big NO. However, this will certainly change in October as my Elimination Diet begins and I am will have the challenge of cooking a little differently.

5. I want to continue nursing Cupcake through 2015, unless she chooses to wean earlier.

Check! We were doing so very well with sleeping through the night until she was hit with a whopper of a virus. All the kiddos (and most of the adults) in the neighborhood have been suffering from colds, coughs, and terrible sore throats. The other little ones have also been waking up throughout the night, no matter how old they are, so I cannot entirely blame Cupcake for her lack of sleep. I am sure that once she feels totally better, we will get back to normal.

I definitely cannot imagine her wanting to wean any time soon, but yesterday she went a whole six hours without nursing DURING THE DAY (with me right there with her!). She had the option and still did not nurse! So, although it’s hard to believe, she really will wean some day. Until then, we shall forge ahead!

6. Visit my grandma every week before our move. Call her every week after we move.

I had the joy of surprising my Gramma with a visit this month. It was so joyful! She has been really sad lately about a situation with a friend, so it was great to connect with her. I know she adored seeing Cupcake and Cupcake had so much fun exploring my Gramma’s room!

7. Text/call/email a different friend every day to keep communication open.

Check!

8. I will cut my monthly consumption of soda.

My goal for September was to have no more than six 8-oz servings, but the August trend continued. I just don’t really have a taste for it these days. This is a GREAT thing as I am headed into my Elimination Diet, where soda is definitely not allowed. Coffee, on the other hand, I literally have no clue how that’s going to go. Won’t you all have so much fun laughing at my misery reading about my experience.

9. Subscribe to FlyLady Emails. Complete tasks to maintain clean and decluttered home.

This month I had to completely overall my cleaning schedule. Prior to my new job opportunities, nap time was clean time. Once Cupcake fell asleep, clean time again! My house looked great. I eventually switched to “an hour a day” mode. Now, I spend an hour a day cleaning. I set up a rotation throughout the house and start in a different room each day. If I have any extra time, I move on to the next day’s room. It has been working really well, except that my laundry keeps getting piled up! I HATE having piles of laundry everywhere.

So, my goal for October is to go back to the FlyLady methods for laundry so that I can hopefully get on top of this situation!

10. Reduce time spent watching TV

So, this whole month, the only TV my hubby and I watched was one of the Republican Debates on CNN. Totally worth it.

Unfortunately, I lost the internal battle I have with Cupcake and the TV. I am really struggling there. Instead of cutting her time, it seems to be growing. Ugh. It makes me really unhappy, but I have not done much to stop it. This month I needed time to finish a work project, and *poof* on went the TV. I had to finish dinner and Cupcake wouldn’t play alone? TV. Why is TV so magical?!?!

My goal for October is spend the month researching fun and easy alternatives for me to help increase Cupcake’s stamina for independent play. I feel like if she could play better on her own, I would not feel so tempted to turn to the television. I will work at using the first few days of the month to observe how long she can play independently and work to increase it to a level where I can get a good 15 minutes for her to play independently.

11. Post progress each month on the above goals.

Check!

Before the Elimination Diet

As I’ve written about, I am about to start a Total Elimination Diet (TED). This is to combat a multitude of health issues I have been having to hopefully identify if there are any food intolerances at play.

As a way to keep a record for myself, I wanted to record any symptoms and issues I am having at my baseline so that I can notice how they evolve and change over time. It will also help me as I start to reintroduce foods to my body later in the process.

My current symptoms:

  • Migraines (2x a month)
  • Digestive Issues
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Itchy Skin/Rashes
  • Runny/Stuffy nose
  • Dark Circles under eyes
  • Frequent muscle aches
  • Anxiety

Evaluation of Current Eating Plan-

For the past month, I have tracked all of the foods I have been eating. I was really hoping to notice a trend in my symptoms and be able to correlate them with what I had consumed so I could avoid an Elimination Diet. Clearly, I was unsuccessful. Using online trackers, I generally keep within 1500-1800 calories a day. Some of my favorite foods are peanut butter, homemade bread, tomatoes and sugary things- all of which will not be allowed on my new plan. I drink coffee daily, and have started to taper that off so that I do not throw myself into a withdrawal-induced migraine once I officially drop that habit. I have to admit I am nervous.

I am taking on this challenge under medical guidance because I want to make sure that I am eating enough. It could be really easy to drop weight if I just limited myself to salad and chicken breast! While that certainly will be a meal option here and there, I want to make sure that I am including everything I need for a well-rounded diet. As I am still nursing Cupcake, I will continue taking my prenatal vitamins to make sure that any temporary nutritional holes in my diet are filled.

I think a lot of this eating plan will be emotional. I have found that over the past few days, I have been craving all of the foods I know I will not be able to have as I get started. It hasn’t been too much of a problem (as I slowly remove my spoon from the peanut butter jar), but I will definitely be sure to include the not so cheery parts of this plan, as well.

I have been told that the first few days are not fun. Oftentimes the body goes through a withdrawal period where symptoms seem to get worse before they get better. When I heard that, I all about jumped ship. Why would I want to do this to myself? I was reminded that although it will be difficult to start, I will feel so much better afterward. The next few weeks will be trying, but as I start to add foods back to my diet, it will just get better and better.

Selfishly, I am glad we are doing this now. There are no major holidays for a little while to tempt me. By the time Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, we will be through the strictest parts and will have many more options to choose from, knowing that they are safe for our bodies. We also would love to expand our family at some point, so I want to do this before that happens. Obviously if I were to fall pregnant, that would be part of the considerations in how to proceed on this plan.

All in all, I am more excited than nervous. I am ready to feel good again! Wish me luck!

Elimination Diet Introduction

I always said I wouldn’t do one. I was not going to do an elimination diet because they seemed like another big fad. And it sort of seems like they are! If you Google “Elimination Diet,” you will find a million different websites. You can find meal plans, recipes, and everything you need to leave you thoroughly confused!

You see, each website tells you to eliminate slightly different things. There are a few items that seem to be eliminated from nearly every elimination diet out there. Dairy, processed meats, and wheat are usually the first things to go. Many websites suggest avoiding soy, eggs, legumes, and nuts. Others also include restrictions on certain vegetables and fruits. It can be a lot to take in as you sit and wonder what exactly you can eat.

Which is why I always said no, until I was forced to say yes. Starting in high school, I developed migraines. They lasted throughout college and into my mid-twenties. Then, I got pregnant with a certain cutie pie and they virtually disappeared! I still got normal people headaches, but no real migraines! Then, the real magic came after she was born. For over a year, I did not have any headaches. No migraines to speak of. It was awesome. I thought I was cured. Then, this summer they returned with a vengeance. I once drove two hours to visit my sisters and nephews to only be able to stay 15 minutes due to a terrible migraine. I barely remember anything from the day, other than pulling over on the side of the road crying because the street lights were too bright for me. It was a difficult day.

Since then, the migraines have continued. I also have been having other odd symptoms. I’ve developed acne that I never experienced before. I have frequent heartburn and digestive issues. I have no energy at all. I am bloated and my stomach frequently bothers me. So, I started to wonder what was wrong with me. Is it hormones? Is it something I am eating? Is it environmental? Am I sick? Is it my thyroid? Anemia? What was going on with me?!

It was then suggested that I undergo an Elimination Diet. I had to get rid of all dairy from my diet for a few months last year for Cupcake. It was hard- really hard. When I added dairy back in to my diet, I looked for any unusual symptoms or reactions. However, my body seemed to be handling it just fine. I was then informed that I had introduced it all wrong. I introduced dairy as a whole category. Welcome back cheese and yogurt and sour cream and milk! Instead of taking time to introduce just one new dairy product at a time, I just reopened that category and never looked back. It is likely that one of the aforementioned food items is a problem for me, but I am not even sure which!

Finally I realized that enough was enough. Life is way too short to be feeling this terrible. I had been told to try an elimination diet in the past to deal with my migraines, so I revisited that idea. With medical guidance, I am going to embark on this journey on October 1st. I will be coming here to share how I feel throughout the process and what I learn along the way. I will be posting recipes in case anyone else ever finds themselves in the same position. This is NOT a tool for weight loss.

If you want to go on an elimination diet as a way to drop some pounds before a big event, go elsewhere. If you want to try it because some celebrity went on one, go check out his or her webpage. Instead, I will be posting because I do not have the time to be making three different meals for my family. My husband and Cupcake will be eating along with me. For those of you worried that they might not get enough of what they need, think again. This is exactly why I am blogging about it. I wanted an Elimination Diet that would work for real people with real families and I had a hard time finding one.

I am not about to go out and buy a bunch of crazy ingredients that we’ve never tried before! My meals will not always be the most exciting. They will pretty much always follow a similar pattern of protein, gluten-free grain and vegetables. Rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes will probably be my BFFs as I love my carbohydrates! This is not, I repeat, a weight loss plan. This is a chance to heal my body and figure out what is going on.

Please join me on my next big adventure!

Homemade Egg McMuffins

It doesn’t matter who you are, it seems like a common thread is that mornings are crazy. Now that we’ve hit the autumn, kids (and teachers) are back to school, adding to the flurry of excitement that is morning time.

We don’t always have time to make a full breakfast. With my husband in residency, he needs a good solid breakfast to get him started. It also needs to be fast. And healthy because I’d like to keep him forever.
Although people frequently slam McDonalds, their Egg McMuffin actually is a really decent breakfast. However, as a chain, their food uses who knows what ingredients to preserve their products. It’s also more expensive to purchase one than it is to make one!

However, it also takes some time. Time we do not have in our morning. So, I decided I’d create an egg sandwich that we could keep in the freezer and quickly warm up in the morning. In less than a minute, my sweetie has a wholesome complete breakfast.
You can just get your eggs, or even bake them. I wanted them approximately the size of an English muffin, so I used a greased cookie cutter in the pan to form my egg patties. I couldn’t find my circle shape anywhere, so Christmas ornament eggs it was! I also didn’t want to take the time to dirty up another bowl, so I just cracked the egg directly into the pan and stirred it briefly. You can alternatively mix your eggs ahead of time and pour them into a cookie cutter if you prefer!

Easy Egg McMuffins

Ingredients (yield 6)

Six Eggs

Six English Muffins

Six slices of Cheese

12 slices of bacon (or 6 sausage patties)

Directions

  1. Coat a circle-shaped cookie cutter with Pam or butter. Place into warm pan.
  2. Crack egg into cookie cutter. Stir with fork until mixed. Cook on medium-high heat until set.
  3. Use heat-safe tongs to flip egg in cookie cutter. Cook egg throughout. When cooked, turn egg into wax paper.
  4. Repeat with remaining eggs, coating cookie cutter each time.
  5. While eggs are cooking, slice and toast English muffins until preferred doneness.
  6. In a separate pan (or in the microwave) cook bacon according to package directions.
  7. When all items are cooked, assemble sandwiches. Let cool to room temperature and wrap each in tin foil. Place in freezer-safe ziplock bag.

We like to take out our sandwiches the night before and then we need just 30 seconds to the perfect breakfast. Enjoy!


 
  
  
  
  

Cuddle Fairy

Sausage and Peppers Pasta

My sweet husband loves sausage and peppers. It is one of his favorite meals. Since it is his intern year of residency, he has been working an insane amount of hours and we rarely get to eat dinner together. Most of the time, he gets home well after Cupcake is asleep. I always leave him a plate in the refrigerator, but it definitely is not the same. So when I realized that he would be home tonight for dinner with us there was only one option!

As I was starting to pull out the ingredients, I found a half filled container of kale from my most recent kale chip adventure. If I knew it didn’t have much time left so I threw that in. The small amount of kale looked silly so I added in some spinach, too. When Chris walked in, he was so excited despite having just come off of a 30 hour shift. Success!

Ingredients

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 c kale

1 c spinach

2 T olive oil

1 t minced garlic

1 lb pasta, cooked according to package

Directions

1. Add sausage links to pan and cook over medium-heat until cooked thoroughly.

2.  In a seperate pan, add olive oil, garlic and salt over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, kale and spinach and saute until greens are wilted and onions/peppers are tender.

3. Slice sausage into bite sized pieces. Add to vegetable mixture.

4. Serve over pasta .


Domesticated Momster