Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December recipe challenge: Les Croquets Denison

It took me three months, but I finally revisited Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the final recipe challenge of the year. I made a type of petits fours, Les Croquets Denison, also known as walnut and almond puffs.

For a Julia recipe, these puffs were rather easy. I'm not a huge fan of nuts, but these treats were delicious--the freshly grated lemon peel makes this delicacy.

Whew! I made it--twelve months and that many recipe challenges. This was a fun challenge, but in all honesty, I'm glad it's over.

Now that I have an infant, I wonder how long it will take me to voluntarily pull out Julia's cookbooks again.

Friday, December 23, 2011

merry christmas

May you know and trust the Lord's goodness and faithfulness to you, and rejoice in his Son's birth and what it means for your salvation.

Merry Christmas, Gentle Readers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mason's room: DIY projects

I'm not much of a do-it-yourself type of decorator. But, I refuse to pay ridiculous prices for simple things like window valances and lampshades. So, I attempted those two projects on my own.

I had made a window valance before. I whipped up this one during Mason's nap when he was about a month old.

I found a great video on You Tube that demonstrated how to cover a lamp shade with fabric. I had the toile fabric affixed before Mason arrived; I added the turquoise ribbon after we got home.

With the leftover material and ribbon, I followed this awesome gal's tutorial to make some burp cloths. Again, I sewed the toile material in advance and added the ribbon after Mason arrived.

What do-it-yourself projects are you not afraid of?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mason's room

Oh, how naive I was to think I would have all this time to finish the nursery after the baby arrived. And I'm an inexperienced seamstress, yet I genuinely believed I would not only have the time, but the talent to make some of the items for his room? Ha! Thank you, current mamas, for not laughing in my face after reading this post. Choosing a color scheme that I couldn't finalize until after the baby's arrival was a mistake I needed to make on my own.

If I had to do it all over again, I still would not find out the baby's sex, but I can totally understand now how that information would be helpful to get the room completed in advance. It's such a conundrum. But the joy of the surprise still trumps the stress of more work afterward, at least, for me it does.

Three months after Mason's arrival, his room is now as finished as it's going to get. It really has no rhyme or reason; it's a hodge podge of things I love, and hopefully he, one day, will too.

Had Mason been a girl, the room would have been accented in fuchsia. But look at that blue on the book festival poster hanging over the changing pad. Could it match the rest of his room any closer? I should have known I was having a boy--that poster, which I saw for the first time in probably July, was a hint!

Longtime readers know how much I love toile. So are you surprised that I was immediately drawn to the Central Park children's toile in cream and chocolate? The furniture and bedding (except the blue sheet) was all that I had purchased in advance of Mason's birth. Here's a closer look at the bedding.

And there's my little sweetheart, being very patient while I photographed his room.

These built-in bookshelves were already there. They are very narrow, but I found some skinny baskets to hold books and toys. I stupidly believed I could whip up the basket liners, never having even sewn three corners together in my life. My mom ended up doing them for me, and even being an experienced seamstress, it took her a long time.

And here's where we spend most of our time. Look at how the blue in the boppy cover perfectly matches the room. That boppy cover was on my registry--I chose it for its gender neutrality, but maybe way deep down inside, I knew I would have a boy.

No, I really had no idea what I was having.

One of my favorite pieces is the six-foot, round shag rug in the center of the room. Mason loves it, too. He clutches handfuls of shag and tries to eat it when doing tummy time.

Next up, a highlight of the (few) DIY projects I accomplished for this room.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

overrun freezer

In preparation for going back to work, I've been busy. People told me to pump, and now my freezer is being taken over by bags of breast milk.

I'm confused about how the frozen/fresh thing will work though. As I understand it, Mason will eat what I pump the day before, supplemented with frozen milk if necessary. But with different rules regarding the shelf lives of fresh and frozen milk, how will I keep things straight? The frozen milk must be used within 24 hours of defrosting, so he should drink the frozen bottle first each day, which means I should label it accordingly, correct? And then if he doesn't get to all the fresh milk, it can carry over until the next day?

Is it possible to have too much frozen milk?

And how much will he eat each day anyway?

Please share any tips you have for how to make the pumping, storing, freezing, defrosting,  and serving process a little easier. I'm overwhelmed. And I'm worried about giving my baby food poisoning (is this possible?) with old milk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

good baby?

People ask me if Mason is a good baby and I never know how to respond. What defines a good baby?

He's a great eater and sleeps well at night. He loves schedules and routines. He goes down easily for naps but has recently had a hard time staying asleep during them. The 45-minute intruder has become the 20-minute intruder. Some days, I feel like I spend his entire nap time soothing him and trying to get him to stay asleep.

Mason adores overhead lights, ceiling fans, and brightly colored artwork. If his belly's full and he's lying on the couch, kicking and flapping, life couldn't be better for him. But his exuberance can quickly turn into this:

My baby has a temper, and he can melt down in two seconds flat. He runs off visitors with his grumpiness; he makes clear when he's ready for company to leave. I'm tempted to dress him as Oscar the Grouch next year for Halloween--what costume could be more fitting?

Mason's the only baby I know who doesn't like to be snuggled or cuddled. He hates being cradled in my arms and he would never sit quietly on my lap for hours (or even minutes) just chilling. The word chill is not a part of his vocabulary. Why sit still and relax when he can kick and flail and talk and fuss? This kid has things to say and places to go. He loves being carried around the house up on my shoulder in the burping position so that he can see what's around him, until he tries to climb over my shoulder to get down. Even at two months old, he began arching his back and squawking to get me to put him down so he could kick and flap and play on his own. In his mind, he's no baby--he's a big boy!

So, is my little grump a "good" baby? He's good for me, and I love every bit of him, grouchiness and all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the pull

January 3rd, the day I will return to work, is looming. And I'm anything but ready.

My heart breaks just thinking about it, which I try not to do as I want to enjoy these last days at home with my baby. But I do think about it. And people ask me about it constantly, which brings tears to my eyes almost every time.

I've been blessed to have a nice, long, paid maternity leave and I have a wonderful job, colleagues, and students to return to. Yet, my heart feels like a brick at the thought of leaving my son in someone else's care. I'm his mommy! And selfishly, I don't want to miss out on any moments with him.

I never expected to feel this way. Back in March when Brad and I decided that he would return to work on Capitol Hill and I would return to work after the baby was born, I genuinely believed that we had made the right decision for our family. At that time, I couldn't imagine the pregnancy even working out, let alone quitting my job. (Colleagues who read this blog, rest assured that I won't bail on you! I committed to coming back and I will return on January 3rd, even if it's just for the short term to figure out my exit strategy.) 

Now that Mason is here, my perspective has changed. The more days I spend with him the greater my longing to stay home with him.  But becoming a stay-at-home mom would be a major change for all of us. I abhor change, and it's always been easier for me to stick with what is familiar and comfortable. But now the status quo no longer feels like the easy, or right, choice.

I chide myself for not trusting in the Lord's provision for our family. I know that he will care for us, financially and in every other way. He has shown himself faithful again and again. Yet, why do I still worry and doubt?

I'm struggling, Gentle Readers. Please pray that the Lord makes the path clear for us, and that Brad and I have wisdom in deciding what's best for our family.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December roses

Is there any better bang for your buck than Knock Out rose bushes?

I've lost count of how many times they've bloomed this year. I see new buds, and it's December!

In two years, these bushes have outgrown my planting bed, and I need to do something about it. When is the best time to prune Knock Outs? And how much is safe to cut off?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

evergreen upset

The tree's up! And it's that time again.

Oh, Christmas tree, how faithful you are to me. And how wretched I am to you. Two years ago, I had an affair with another. I'm sorry to say, dear tree, that it's happened again, and it's much more serious this time.

You stand tall and proud, and you're perfectly proportioned. Once again, you are exquisite and elegant and make the house smell divine. Although you are perfect in every way you could be, you fall short this year. I can't help it--I'm just not that into you.

You see, I'm much more drawn to the gift beside you. Although he smells quite foul on occasion, much of the time, his baby lotion scent melts my heart in ways that pine needles never could. And you're beautiful, but you're also silent. The little bundle next to you can scream his bloody head off just because he feels like it, but he can also coo and giggle and make all sorts of silly noises. He smiles at and interacts with me in ways that you never could.

You need me to water you, but he needs me for pretty much everything. He's even more demanding than you are!

Once, I only had eyes for you, darling tree. Now, the gift that sits beside you has captured my heart and sucked up all the love inside it. I have nothing left for you this year. I am sorry.

The good news is that, Lord willing, next year you will have a new admirer. And I have a feeling that he will be much more smitten with you than I ever have been.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November recipe challenge: Thanksgiving dinner

Okay, so the food wasn't challenging; I've made it all before, and I had help this year. But, I prepared the turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce all on my own.

I even had a nicely set table (with china!) and fresh-cut flowers. This counts as a challenge, right? Especially considering my own little turkey kept interrupting my (minimal) preparations!

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 28, 2011

mama bear crazy

My emotions will be the end of me. First, it was the weepies. Now, I've turned into a full-fledged mama bear: protective and possessive.

 In some cases, this isn't such a bad thing. I feel an animal instinct to protect my young, including everything from where and how Mason sleeps to who he spends his time with. But I wonder when, if ever, this extreme protective nature will subside. For example, right now I can't imagine allowing Mason to ride in a car alone with someone other than Brad or me driving. I know it's only been two months, but it's still hard for me to leave Mason for any amount of time. (But, don't worry. I have and I do and I will continue to do so. It's important for both of us. I know.)

And on the possessive side of this complex, my heart tightens like an iron fist when anyone (except Brad) tries to snatch Mason from my arms (unsolicited) or hovers over him and tries to mother him to the extent of undermining me and my parenting practices. Those people--I call them baby hogs--make me crazy!

Yes, I am hormonal. But I can't be the only one, right? Does anyone else have any mama bear moments or pet peeves? Please share!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Some years are chock full of blessings, others are characterized by heartaches, and most are a combination of both. No matter your perspective, time passes, too quickly in most cases, and each day provides a reason to give thanks to God for his faithfulness and providence.

Happy Thanksgiving, Gentle Readers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

romantic dinners

Mason's birth has brought many changes to my life, but the most unexpected is the number of romantic dinners Brad and I have eaten in the past two months.

Because Mason's downstairs station is in our dining room, if he is napping there during dinner, we keep the lights up just high enough to see our plates. Thank goodness for dimmer switches! I can't imagine that any restaurant I choose for my birthday dinner in the future will be able to match the lovely, low-light atmosphere at home these days.

Low light and a soft serenade of lullabies and baby coos coming from the pack 'n play--a dinner at home doesn't get much better than that, especially on the rare nights that we can finish a meal uninterrupted.

Friday, November 18, 2011

breaking dawn

Who says my life has to completely change by having a child?

It's 2:30 AM and I just got home from seeing this.

It was phenomenal, and that's all I'll say right now, as I know other Twihards have yet to see the movie and I don't want to ruin anything. Now, I'm off to catch a couple hours sleep before my new alarm clock awakes me. Recovering from attending a midnight premiere will certainly be different with an infant in the house.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

babies don't keep

My friend Allison sent me this fun and true poem about motherhood. I feel better about my dirty house now!

Mother, O' Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth.
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek - peekaboo.

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew,
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo.
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

~ Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

new Christmas traditions

Gentle Readers, I would love to hear about Christmas traditions you began with your children. I have a few ideas, but would love to hear more.

Also, does anyone have a favorite line of Christmas tree ornaments, preferably something that would be appropriate for children? Maybe something on Etsy? I'd love to give Mason an ornament of his own each Christmas and build his collection over the years.

Monday, November 14, 2011

what my to-do list should look like

Before becoming a parent, I remember friends talking about how one of their most difficult adjustments was feeling like they could never get anything done. Even my most organized friends bemoaned only being able to mark one or two items--instead of 20--from their to-do lists on a good day.

Oh, how I can now relate to this!

However, I think I need to change my perspective. It's not like I'm sitting around doing nothing all day. Ha! If anything, I'm more productive than I've ever been. I've never unloaded a dishwasher or showered so quickly in my life!

My to-do lists should reflect my day's activities. Then, I could mark every item off the list and fall into bed at night feeling productive and accomplished. This standard list pretty much sums up my daily life right now:
  • Feed Mason (x6 or 7)
  • Burp Mason (x6 or 7)
  • Change Mason (x7+)
  • Clean up at least one pee or poop accident
  • Dress Mason (possibly x2+ depending on above bullet)
  • Conduct Mason's exercises for left sternocleidomastoid (x5)
  • Apply Mason's cream for seborrhea (x2)
  • Give Mason a probiotic for gas
  • Make sure Mason gets 25-30 minutes of tummy time
  • Put Mason down for a nap (x4+)
  • Soothe Mason back to sleep ifwhen he wakes up early from nap (x4+)
  • Read/cuddle/snuggle/play in the few free "awake" minutes
  • Deal with evening fussiness
  • Bedtime routine
And these are just the Mason-related tasks that must be done each day. On days when I add on his baths, walks, pediatrician appointments, and the like, it's no wonder why my house is dirty and I can barely get dinner on the table!

Friday, November 11, 2011

my new car

BOB Revolution SE

On September 9th, my last day of work, I filled my car's tank with gas. That tank of gas lasted exactly two months; I filled up again on Wednesday, November 9th.

It's not that I haven't been going anywhere, especially the last month. I just have a new type of car now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

on having a boy

For years, I assumed I would have a daughter one day. Girlie girls had only daughters, correct? What would I do with a boy? I'm not into sports. I avoid getting dirty or sweaty. I could care less about cars or trucks or other large pieces of machinery that I can't name. I held this assumption back when I foolishly believed I could get pregnant whenever I chose to, and that I would have a May baby one day (always my preferred month to give birth, not sure why). I didn't understand the Lord's sovereignty then. I also had no appreciation for the miracle of or fragile nature of life.

Even with my first pregnancy, had it lasted longer, I probably would have secretly yearned for a daughter. But then my life and perspective changed with that loss, and our second loss reminded me that God creates life, and any life is a miracle.

When I became pregnant a third time, it never crossed my mind to hope for a daughter--it just didn't matter anymore. Hair bows and cute outfits and girlie chats suddenly became much less important when praying for a baby to be born alive and healthy. I knew better than to take the latter for granted.

That moment in the labor and delivery room when my eyes first landed on my baby and Brad exclaimed, "It's a boy!" was one of the best surprises of my life. We had a healthy son! He was alive and screaming and suddenly flailing about on my chest. He was the baby made for us. The Lord had prepared and intended for me to mother a son. I had never known such gratitude and joy. And the surprise of his sex made meeting him for the first time even sweeter. I loved him instantly and unconditionally.

And now, nearly eight weeks later, I can't imagine having a daughter. Pee on the wall keeps my days at home with him anything but mundane. Another sports fan under my roof? Go Vols! Cars and trucks and dirt and roughhousing . . .  those days, Lord willing, will come, and I can't wait.

I can't imagine any other face but this sweet boy's.

I have a son--hooray! And may he always know and love his mama.

Monday, November 7, 2011

to run again

I did it! Six weeks and six days after giving birth, I got back on the horse--I went for a run.

I ran two miles without walking, and I even ran up the hill at the start of my route. (After the first heat wave of late spring, I excused myself from running up hills while pregnant.) My legs wobbled a little. My time was slow, but not nearly as slow as when I ran at 40 weeks pregnant in the heat. What a difference it makes to run without a big belly!

Although I enjoyed the few minutes of alone time, the crisp November air in my lungs, and the feeling of accomplishment, I still missed my little running partner, the one who's accompanied me on every run of 2011. Suddenly, I was alone again, just how it used to be . . .  and at the same time, nothing like it used to be.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

jalapeno poppers

Thanks for all of your suggestions regarding what I should do with my plethora of jalapeno peppers. I made a huge batch of Pioneer Woman's restaurant style salsa, as well as her jalapeno poppers. I ate plenty fresh out of the oven, but one of the best aspects of the poppers is that once cooked, they can be frozen and then quickly defrosted: perfect for unexpected company or a party.

Five Guys makes a phenomenal grilled cheese sandwich with fresh jalapeno peppers. Recreating that masterpiece at home will use approximately one pepper, which leaves me with about 15 to go.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

professional photographs: how often?

Before Mason was born, I researched photographers to take pictures of all three of us soon after we arrived home from the hospital. Amanda Gilley came to our home when Mason was six days old for his newborn shoot, and I absolutely love how the photos turned out. (More on this later.) Expecting moms, if you want professional photographs of your newborn, do the groundwork now to set this up. You won't have time or energy to do it once the baby is born.

My baby's looks are changing rapidly, and I want to preserve his various stages with professional photographs, but I'm torn about how often to have them taken. If "monthly" is the answer, I've already missed Mason's first month! Professional newborn photos were worth the splurge. What other ages are worth the splurge of hiring a professional?

Current mamas, please chime in. Should I call Amanda for Mason's six-month and/or one-year photos, and possibly go to a less expensive place for the three-month and nine-month marks? Or should I aim for photographing him more often using a cheaper venue, or less often with a more experienced photographer? What months during the first year are key to capture? If you've had your children's pictures taken at Target, Babies R Us, Picture People, or any of those types of operations, please let me know your thoughts on them. Thanks for your advice!

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween

Four years ago today, I added the title of Dr. to my name, and Brad and I have gone out to dinner to celebrate each Halloween night since then.

Tonight, I'll be passing out candy to trick-or-treaters with my little pumpkin. Life has changed!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

book club fail

In over nine years of my book club, I've only missed three of our 97 meetings: June of 2005 for a stats class, January of 2008 because I was out of town, and September of 2011 because Mason was only 12 days old. However, nothing kept me from reading and finishing every book by the meeting, not even a PhD program or training for marathons.

But then Mason was born.

I missed September's meeting, but I still read the book. (I finished it before he was born, which now I understand, was key.) October's book selection, Juliet, Naked, sadly fell by the wayside, and I had only read a measly 123 of its 400+ pages by the meeting. I still went, and Mason made his debut at book club. When he started fussing (evenings are not his forte), the other members understood why I hadn't finished the book.

It's not like I haven't been reading since Mason was born. Children's books should count for something!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I love the SwaddleMe blankets. I don't know what we would do without them. But, sometimes I go into Mason's room, and I see this.

No matter how tightly I pull the material and how many times I check to make sure it's secure, my big, strong boy manages to break out. And he's been doing this since he was four days old.

Monday, October 24, 2011

holiday cards: planning ahead

I strive to accomplish two tasks by December 1st: have the tree up and decorated and place my stack of Christmas cards in the mail. With a newborn this year, we'll see if either gets done at all, let alone by December 1st. However, it's only October and I already have the photo for our Christmas card, which is usually half the battle. There's still hope. 

Hands down, my photo card designer of choice for any occasion is Tiny Prints. Their elegance, selection, and quality can't be beat. I already have Mason's birth announcements picked out, and I've had a ball browsing their holiday line recently.

I tend to be a new classic or a vintage type of girl.  Here are some of my favorites.

I love this card's simple elegance.

Most Merry

I'm also a sucker for cards with multiple images that fold in neat ways.
Studio Shots

I can't resist the full bleed photo cards, though. The photo is the focus of the card, rather than the text, which I love.

Snow Blooms

Blessings Be Yours

How will I ever choose?

Disclosure: Tiny Prints provided me 50 free Christmas cards for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October recipe challenge: making dinner again

It's been a lovely month off from cooking while getting to know Mason and adjusting to my new life. We've been blessed with baby meals; I've done little more than reheat a dish in the microwave since Mason arrived.

On Mason's four-week birthday, I cooked my first post-baby meal, which I am counting as my October challenge. It was an easy meal, but just getting any food on the table these days with a newborn and his constant demands is challenge enough. And, I made this meal on a Saturday, which meant Brad was home and watching Mason while I did the (minimal) prep work. My next challenge should involve making dinner on a weeknight when Brad isn't here to help me.

I made rare tuna with a slight sear, one of my favorite homemade meals that was off limits during pregnancy. Leftover tomato and basil made for some tasty bruschetta and nothing beats steamed, fresh green beans drizzled with a little olive oil and lemon and topped off with cracked black pepper and sea salt.

Simple, yet perfect.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

budding blogger

For years, I've tried to get Brad to write a guest post here on Dr. Blondie, but to no avail. But providing him a son and creating a blog for said son has motivated Brad to write a couple posts for Mason. Who knew that would be the trick?

Tennessee fans will get a kick out of Brad's latest post, and you'll probably understand it much better than I did.

Monday, October 17, 2011

the weepies

The exhaustion? Yes, I expected it. The physical discomforts associated with recovering from childbirth? Yes, to some extent, I knew what I was in for. The emotions? Well, I expected tears when the baby was born and maybe a few stress-induced breakdowns later on. But oh my goodness, I was not at all prepared for this emotional roller coaster I've been on for a month now. Will I ever stop weeping?

The tears began during my last week of pregnancy. Change was imminent. I wept during Mason's birth and I haven't stopped joyfully crying since then. I was a hot mess the day we came home from the hospital. The nurse who wheeled Mason and me to the car patted my shoulder and gently said, "It's okay, honey. We've all been there."

A nurse from my fertility doctor called me 10 days after Mason arrived. I hadn't communicated with them since they released me to my OB in early February, and she was calling to follow up. When she identified herself on the phone, I could barely choke out the words, "We have a son!"

Children's movies have always made me cry, and now I'm finding that children's books do, too. What new mother can keep her eyes dry when reading a book that begins like this:
"A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."
Losing it while reading Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is understandable. But why do I weep when reading Big Red Barn?

Mason looks so different now than he did a month ago. His cheeks are fuller and his hair is thicker. He's bigger and more alert. He's a great eater and a pretty good sleeper. He likes a schedule. These are all good things. So why does his growing up twist my heart so painfully? I finally gave in last week and moved him from newborn to size 1 diapers, something I probably should have done the week before. Of course, afterward, I was thankful for fewer leaks, but guess what? I wept.

I knew it would, but it's all going by so fast. Too fast.

Do I have a case of the baby blues? I don't feel blue, though. I feel so happy and thankful and grateful. And, at times, so fragile, and like I still can't quite believe that this all worked out and Mason is really here.

Experienced mamas, do tell . . .  is this just a stage? Or should I expect to weep for the rest of my life?

Friday, October 14, 2011

hot harvest

I'm all for adding spice to my life (and my palate), but what on earth should I do with all of these jalapeno peppers, recently harvested from my one measly jalapeno plant? I picked at least 30 peppers, and there are still more to come.

I can try Pioneer Woman's jalapeno poppers recipe, which sounds delicious, but I'd need to throw a party to have enough people to consume all of these poppers in one sitting.

Any other ideas? Should I dice them up and freeze them?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

why settle for one when you can do both?

I'm all for running throughout pregnancy if one is able to and wants to, but this is a little crazy! My friend and I have debated whether running a marathon or giving birth is the more difficult endeavor, but I think this woman just trumped us both.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mason's Moments

I've launched Mason's digital baby album, which is essentially his blog. Many of you have asked for more pictures and stories, and even though his blog isn't quite caught up yet, I promise that I've already posted more there than you probably care to see. So, check it out if you wish. Or not. I totally understand that 95% of what's on his blog is probably only interesting to Brad and me.

There will be some crossover between Mason's Moments and Dr. Blondie, but I hope to keep it to a minimum. Regardless, Mason's blog will contain cute pictures and brief stories, but the majority of the writing (and all of the commentary, emotional breakdowns, and oversharing) will stay here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

homecoming outfit: FAIL

Throughout pregnancy, I vowed that my child would not come home from the hospital in a gender-neutral outfit. I don't know why, but it was one menial detail that was very important to me. A few weeks before Mason was born, Brad and I went shopping for two homecoming outfits: one for a girl and another for a boy. Because our ultrasounds had predicted a big baby, we deliberated the size to buy. All of the newborn size outfits we found were clearly marked for babies weighing 5-8 pounds. The next size up, 0-3 months, was suggested for babies weighing 8-12 pounds. Perfect, we thought! This size should fit our anticipated 9-10 pound baby well. Even though the 0-3 months outfits looked large to us, we bought them anyway. And because we were already wasting money on one outfit that wouldn't be worn, which turned out to be the little girl's dress, we didn't want to waste more money by buying gender-specific outfits in multiple sizes.

We clipped the tags, washed both outfits, and stuck them in the suitcase. But then I started to have doubts. What if the ultrasounds were wrong? (They weren't.) What if the baby came early and therefore wasn't as big as we expected? (That didn't happen.) In a last-minute moment of panic, I washed a tiny, gender-neutral, newborn-size sleeper that I had received as a shower gift and stuck it in the suitcase, just in case.

When I pulled out our little boy outfit to dress Mason on the day we came home from the hospital, I realized that Brad and I had made our first parenting mistake.

The pants alone could have covered Mason's entire body. I sighed and pulled out the little gender-neutral ducky outfit, which fit him perfectly. It wasn't what I had dreamed of and it wasn't an outfit I had even chosen myself, but he still looked cute, and most importantly, he was here, healthy, and going home with us. At least we didn't have to take him home in only a diaper!

Mason's original homecoming outfit is now hanging in his closet, waiting for the day when, Lord willing, he's big enough to wear it, which will certainly occur long before I'm ready.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mason's birth story

Let's revisit my first week of maternity leave, before Mason was born, shall we?

I believe when I last updated this blog before Mason's birth, I was walking. And walking. And walking. I ran two miles and walked 16 miles from Monday through Friday of that week, bringing me to a grand total of 18 miles in five days. Not bad!

I had my 40-week appointment (well, 40 weeks and two days) that Friday morning, September 16th. My doctor said that everything looked good, and I had made a tiny bit of progress since the prior week's appointment, but I felt disappointed that my 18 miles didn't result in more noticeable progress. She said I could walk all I wanted to, but it was impossible to know what would send me into labor and when it would happen.

After my appointment, I drove to the grocery store to buy ingredients to make an eggplant parmigiana dish famous for sending women into labor. Supposedly, over 300 pregnant women have delivered babies within 48 hours of eating this Atlanta restaurant's eggplant parmigiana. A friend sent me the link and I figured, "Why not?"

I cut the recipe in half because I knew I'd be the only one eating it (Brad hates eggplant parmigiana), but it still took me 2.5 hours to make the dish. Now I know why women who make this recipe go into labor soon afterward--it's cumbersome and it takes forever! (Side note: It's too bad I had already completed September's recipe challenge because otherwise this eggplant parmigiana would have counted. Spending 2.5 hours making any meal when you're over 40 weeks pregnant classifies as a challenge in my book.)

I wasn't feeling great on Friday morning, but I blamed my tiredness and sore back on making the eggplant parmigiana. I ate a huge piece of it for lunch, and didn't feel well at all. I had planned to go out for another long walk on Friday afternoon, but soon decided that lounging on the couch was a better idea. My tummy felt crampy and my lower back ached. I couldn't even read my book because the words swam before my eyes, so I laid on the couch for three hours and watched TV instead--something I NEVER do. I should have known that something was up.

I tried to nap between 4-5 PM, but it was a wasted effort because my belly pains kept waking me. Brad came home from work and we began timing my "aches" and were startled to discover they were coming regularly every 5-6 minutes.

Brad and I launched into productive mode. In between contractions, we finished packing our hospital bags, ate dinner, ran the dishwasher, threw a load of towels in the washer and then the dryer, collected and took out the garbage, and finished writing a few thank you notes. Well, Brad actually did most of these tasks while I gave plenty of instructions from bed. Our little baby had already been so accommodating in allowing me to finish work and Brad to get through his Congressional hearing and finish out the work week, we were delighted that he let us get our chores around the house done before we left for the hospital. I'll say it again: what an obedient baby!

We left for the hospital just after midnight on Saturday, September 17th, and paused for a moment to take this picture with the timer on our camera. I'm so glad we did--it's the last picture we have before Mason arrived and took over our house!

Do I look like I'm in pain here? I was. Very much so.
On the way to the hospital, we swung by a mailbox to drop off those thank you notes we had finished that evening. Why wouldn't we? It was on our way to the hospital and we didn't want to forget to mail them.

We arrived at Sibley, thankfully, during a lull and were able to get a labor, delivery, and recovery room. Apparently, that evening had resulted in a crazy birth explosion and the hospital had run out of rooms, so women had to labor in the waiting room. We also heard that the rest of the weekend in labor and delivery was just crazy, so we're thankful that the Lord and our little guy timed things just right!

Brad and I walked the halls of Sibley as I labored, hoping to move things along a bit. At 3 AM, the nurse checked me and said I could have the epidural, which arrived around 4 AM. It was like pure magic coursing through my veins! Kudos to those of you who have a high threshold for pain and can birth babies without drugs. I could never do it, and now having had the epidural and experiencing its magic, I never want to try.

One other beautiful aspect of the epidural is that Brad and I were able to go to sleep pretty quickly and we rested until 7 AM, when they woke me to break my water, and then we slept again until 9 AM. I believe those five hours of sleep gave me the necessary energy to push, which took much more concentration and energy than I ever could have imagined.

Breaking my water moved things along fairly quickly, and I began pushing at 11:19 AM and Mason was born at 12:10 PM. I was so relieved that Mason, being a heavy, chubby baby with a big head, fit through my pelvis and I was able to push him out in under an hour. Praise God for that. As one of my friends reminded me a few weeks ago, after I told her what the ultrasounds were predicting in terms of the baby's size, "God made that baby for your pelvis." She was right!

My epidural began to wear off before pushing began, and a second dose of it didn't relieve my pain. But, amazingly enough, pushing did. I ended up doing a couple of things that I never imagined agreeing to pre-labor, such as checking Mason's arrival progress in a mirror and touching his head as it began to emerge. When these tips were suggested in our childbirth class, I squirmed and swore that I wasn't interested. And I'm not sure what changed my mind during labor, but I'm so glad that I did both of these things. It was incredibly motivating to see and feel progress. It made me push better and harder. And it made me more anxious and excited to get our baby out and to meet him.

The actual delivery is such a blur in my mind. I vaguely remember the nurse telling me to look down to see the baby coming out. Then I remember her calmly saying, "Wrapped cord. Wrapped cord." I remember hearing Brad exclaim, "It's a boy!" right as I looked down and saw that the baby was, in fact, a boy. Then the doctor whisked the baby away, presumably to unwrap the cord from around his neck and make sure he was okay. Then Mason cried, and I sobbed. Then they plopped this wet, writhing baby with fuzzy hair on my chest, and I wept with joy and gratitude. Brad was standing behind Mason, over my left shoulder, and Mason heard his daddy's voice, and looked back up at him. Our hearts have not been the same since that moment. 

I wept throughout much of labor, especially the pushing stage, but it wasn't because of the pain. It was because I couldn't believe it was really happening. We were having a baby! It really could work out for us. God had answered our prayers. He does that, you know.

Mason's very first picture, moments after he was born

Mason's first picture with daddy

Thursday, September 29, 2011

to tide you over

Gentle Readers, I have pictures and Mason-related posts in the pipeline, but I've not yet resumed my normal level of productivity. (Will I ever?) I've started a digital baby book for Mason, which is essentially another blog, that will contain more pictures and details about our son than you could ever care about. Once I get some momentum going with the first few entries, which I hope will be within the next week, I'll share the link and you can follow that blog, too, if you wish.

I'm working on an entry that details Mason's birth story, which I will post here as soon as it's ready. Stay tuned.

So many of you have asked to see more pictures. Here are a few that I hope will tide you over for now.

I have yet to capture Mason's sweet smile on camera, but here's my best effort thus far. This picture was taken as we were leaving the hospital--his looks have already changed so much since then!

Here he is, several days later, with his eyes open. It's hard to see in the picture, but he has dark blue eyes, like his mama. We'll see if they stay that way.

Mason has more hair than what you can see in pictures. His hair is mostly blond, with some sandy brown pieces. In certain light, or when he's next to Brad, I sometimes think I see rust highlights, but that could be wishful thinking. He's definitely not a true redhead like his daddy is, but that's okay. We still think he's pretty cute anyway!

From the front, he looks rather bald, but notice the plethora of hair on the back of his head. In the picture below, I think the hair on the back of his head looks similar to Brad's hair color, but again, that could be wishful thinking.

More to come soon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September recipe challenge: Tarte Aux Cerises, Flambee

Don't worry, Gentle Readers. I completed this challenge and wrote this blog post long before Mason arrived. I'm ambitious, but not ambitious enough to attempt a recipe challenge with an eleven-day-old! I'm working on some Mason-related entries and pictures to post here soon. Stay tuned!

I went back to Julia this month and made the French version of cherries jubilee. The most time-consuming portion involved removing the stems and pits from the fresh cherries. Making the crust, custard, and filling, and assembling the dish weren't too bad. I made this dessert from start to finish in one afternoon--much faster than the typical two days these recipe challenges have been taking lately.

This challenge seemed to go smoothly, and I was excited...

straight from the broiler

poised and ready to see a show
the warmed cognac carefully poured on top of the dessert failed to light! I was so disappointed. I longed to see this dish engulfed in flames. I had even turned off the lights in the kitchen to make the show seem even more spectacular.

I have no idea what I did wrong. Maybe I warmed to cognac too much and there was no alcohol left to burn?

To drown my sorrows, I piled on the vanilla ice cream, which is a must for any warm dessert.

still tasty, even without the flames