Thursday, June 28, 2012

hearty veggie meals

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae
I aim to put at least one vegetarian dinner on our weekly menu, but I often struggle to find veggie recipes that are hearty enough to satisfy big eaters like Brad and me (and soon to be Mason). Most of my vegetarian staples include pasta or dishes with loads of cheese--tasty, but not necessarily healthy.

However, these grilled veggie sandwiches were a huge hit last week. Even my meat-loving hubby declared this recipe "a keeper". They took little time to make (a plus!) and were surprisingly flavorful.

What are your favorite vegetarian main dishes? I need some ideas!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

everything else can wait

When I was on maternity leave, a college friend sent me a congratulatory email on Mason's birth. Something she wrote struck me that day, and has stuck with me since then.

"Everything else can wait."

I don't know if these words made such an impact on me because of the source (my friend is a working mom with a demanding career as an attorney and I wouldn't necessarily have expected this advice from her) or because of their simple truth, but I still try to embrace this golden nugget of wisdom, even today.

Even though I'm now with Mason pretty much around the clock, one thing I know is true: time is still racing by. He's growing up every day, right before my eyes. Each stage is more fun than the last, but also bittersweet.

And every day I realize just how many things really can wait! Becoming a parent has drastically changed my priorities, for sure.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

night-night woes

Mason's bedtime used to go so smoothly, and now, all of a sudden, it's traumatic for all of us. Fellow mamas, I need some help. I'm at a loss as to what to do.

Pertinent Background Info
  • We have a bedtime routine and put Mason down at the same time each night (with rare exceptions). (Routine = bath, lotion/jammies, nurse, prayer, goodnight kiss)
  • We put Mason down awake and he puts himself to sleep. He's usually calm and relaxed when we put him down, but not always. Sometimes he's wide awake and occasionally a little fussy. But he always figures it out and gets himself to sleep.
  • He wears a sleep sack (too big/old to be swaddled) and we have the ocean sound playing in his room. We just started giving him a lovey to hold, but he doesn't seem to care much about it.
  • Mason soothes himself by sucking his thumb.
  • He's been sleeping 10+ hours/night since he turned eight weeks old.
  • Mason just turned nine months old. He is showing signs of separation anxiety.

The Current Situation

After one night of rebelling at bedtime, we let our boy cry it out. For a few nights, the situation seemed better. But recently Mason has started screaming during the bedtime nursing session--something he has never done before--and his temper escalates until he has a full-fledged meltdown. Initially, I freaked out because I thought my milk supply was drying up and he was hungry and therefore, angry. But we've tried a bottle the past few nights and he loses it just the same. (And pumping at bedtime has proven that my milk supply is hanging in there. Why oh why do we women put such pressure on ourselves when it comes to breast feeding, or really, anything mommy-related? Clearly, this is a topic for another post.)

Mason eats a tiny bit, and then gets mad and refuses the breast/bottle. He cries and cries. We do our best to try to calm him down: walking with him/rocking, singing, rubbing his back, talking to him in a soothing voice, etc. If he does settle down, he starts crying again as soon as we say goodnight and stick him in the crib. His face grows red with anger. He rolls/thrashes all over the crib. And he screams for 30+ minutes before he finally gives up and goes to sleep. 

Mason eventually puts himself to sleep, but this process is miserable for all of us. How can we get our uneventful night-nights back again? Thoughts? I have a babysitter coming in 10 days who will need to do night-night with Mason, and I'm terrified for her!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

anti shoes

I am all about bare baby feet this summer. For a brief moment, I considered buying Mason some sandals or flip flops simply because the small sizes of those shoes are so darn cute. But then I decided against it. When else in Mason's life will he ever be able to go barefoot like this?

For this summer at least, he'll delight in the grass tickling his heels and the breeze airing his toes. I'll revel in having a baby young enough to go without shoes. I will admire and kiss those sweet little baby feet, no matter how dirty they get. By next summer, Lord willing, things will have surely changed. Mason will need some sturdy shoes then, to outrun his mama.

Friday, June 15, 2012

handy dandy

I've rarely washed out and reused resealable bags because I struggled to find a way to completely dry them. But, now I've found a solution!

I love being able to use a bottle drying rack for another purpose, especially now that I'm dealing with fewer bottles. And I REALLY love reusing most resealable bags, especially the big ones!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

the prince and the pea

Mason quickly flew through the purees and showed interest in finger foods, so I introduced them recently. He can pick up most items, but doesn't understand to put them in his mouth, which is baffling to me. Anything else goes straight to his mouth. Why not food?

I had the grand idea to pick and cook peas from my garden and feed them to him whole, or slightly mushed. He loved pureed peas! But no matter what other food I buried the whole/mushed peas in, he would sense a pea was there, roll it around on his tongue, and spit it out at me. Every single time.

So I took the rest of the peas and pureed them to a pretty chunky consistency (with no water added) and now he wolfs them down like candy.

Maybe it was a texture thing? At least my homegrown peas did not go to waste. Score one for Mommy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

to cry or not to cry

Up until recently, I thought we had dodged a bullet. Nearly nine months into parenthood, and we'd never had problems getting Mason down at bedtime. I attributed our good fortune to starting a bedtime routine with him on our very first night home from the hospital, and consistently maintaining it all of these months, and putting him down awake, but drowsy, so he learned to put himself to sleep early on.

I should have known our time was coming!

For the past month or so, Mason has shown signs of separation anxiety. He's awoken a couple of nights, needing nothing other than our company. One Sunday night, near the end of nursing, he grew agitated and stressed. He screamed relentlessly as we put him in his nightie (my pet name for his sleep sack) and kissed him goodnight. Brad and I looked at each other in alarm. He had never acted this way! We laid him down and walked out, thinking he'd settle down pretty quickly.

Well, he didn't. And it took us hours to get Mason down that night. We soothed him every ten minutes or so, but that just didn't seem to work.

The next night, Monday, Mason behaved the same way at the end of nursing. He knew it was time for night-night and that we were going to leave him in the dark. He's a smart little guy! We sensed a new stage starting, and decided to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later.

We agreed that 40 minutes of crying, instead of the previous night's 10, would be our limit, and watched Mason on the monitor to make sure that he was safe. It was an excruciating wait and watch, but after 25 minutes, he quieted down, rolled onto his tummy, and fell asleep.

On Tuesday, he only cried for five minutes. On Wednesday, he cried for 30 seconds. On Thursday, he didn't cry at all.

And so, we bit the bullet, and our boy cried it out. We all survived. And thankfully, it worked!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

unexpected gifts

My lilies and dahlias are in full bloom.

Have I mentioned that these were annual bulbs that I planted in the spring of 2011 and failed to dig up last fall?

These flowers should have died, but they've bloomed even better than they did last year!

See my neighbor's amazing blue hydrangeas in the background of the photo below?

She has so many blossoms, she told me that I could cut off as many as I wanted. What an amazing gift! Her hydrangeas really are the most perfect color of blue.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

celebrating 10 years

When Mason was born, Brad gave both of us a gift to celebrate our becoming parents: a night out at our favorite DC special occasion restaurant, Komi.

Because life has been crazy since Mason arrived and Komi is a difficult reservation to snag, spring rolled around and we still hadn't gone on our Komi date. We decided to make this outing a dual celebration: becoming parents and being married for 10 years.

We had a lovely celebration! Komi was even more impressive the second time around, probably because we did the wine pairing this time. We learned that they keep files on all their customers. They knew we had last visited in February of 2010, and they made sure to serve us a different menu this time. How's that for impeccable service?

On Saturday night, Brad and I opened the time capsule from our wedding. For years, I eagerly anticipated this event. But suddenly, I dreaded it and felt downright anxious about people's predictions. The feelings of failure and disappointment associated with infertility and pregnancy loss reared their ugly heads again. I rued ever asking the question on the time capsule card, "How many children do you predict Brad and Rebecca will have by their 10th anniversary?" How naive we were then! People must have shook their heads as they filled out those silly cards 10 years ago.

Had Mason not arrived, I never would have opened that time capsule. As I suspected, no one predicted that we would not have children. Most people predicted two or more. Of course, we're overjoyed with our one sweet boy and we are so thankful to God for him. But reading through all of those cards brought on a wide range of emotions. We got through them, enjoyed people's kind words and well wishes, and breathed a sigh of relief when we finished.

What was the biggest surprise from the time capsule? We were shocked by the number of people who predicted that, by our 10th anniversary, Brad would be working in politics and I would be a stay-at-home-mom. I guess our family and friends knew us better then than we knew ourselves.

Friday, June 1, 2012

ten's a win

(For the story behind the picture, click here.)

Eight was great. Nine was divine. Now, ten's a win! Praising God for 10 years of marriage today!