Friday, June 29, 2012

Message for California Grandpa

Mystery Shopper

My fashionable and design-forward friend, Alli, started a fun shopping post on her blog called Mystery Shopper. She went shopping at a store and showed items she saw at the store without releasing the name of the place she was shopping at until the end. And of course it was surprising. While I'm not attempting to create such a series myself, I did take a load of photos out shopping recently of fun items at a reasonable price. And the place isn't all that surprising. Sometimes I just go anywhere to get out of the house with B. And most of the time he's a decent shopper because he likes to be entertained and look around at things. Unless he's hungry and then... sound the alarms... we've got a screamer.
Yay, let's go shopping!
I really love these. A little modern, a little traditional.
Any ideas? I can only think of a bathroom.
This thing was also very cool... but where would it go?
Hang jewelry? Other things?
Let the meltdown begin!
This was quite unique. I love re-purposing the outside, inside. {Notice, the photos continue, just taken at a more rapid pace as a meltdown is being delayed by way of Wubbanub. Thank you, overpriced pacifier-animal. And thank you, Alison, for purchasing it.}
What would you do with this?
This one probably gives it away. I'm loving both the chair and the blue hutch-thing.

So did you guess? HomeGoods. But I don't think anyone was surprised. Like I said... not going to be a regular type of post, but I couldn't resist with all the cute photos and neat home decor items.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Thank you, everyone. Baby loss friends, non-loss friends, complete strangers, B's grandmothers, lurkers... everyone. Ray reads the blog and exclaimed, "You have 26 comments!"

I told him my peeps got my back.

I really appreciate the kind words and private emails and love over that last post. I'm currently searching for a new pediatrician. We first thought a family practice doctor would be best for B as they see fewer children and therefore would be extra thorough (funny how you justify your decisions). We also liked that he would see them through adulthood and we could also see the same doctor. And this office is extremely close to our home. I was worried, like someone commented, that a pediatrician would be super lax having seen many babies and children on a daily basis for years and years. I don't want lax. And while the current doctor is not lax, I don't necessarily feel supported either. I left with lots of questions I was afraid to ask and emotions I was fighting to hide. I don't want to feel that way. I'll spare you more details on how I felt insulted and just jump to saying that B will be seeing a new doctor for his 6-month checkup and beyond. I'm still open for suggestions on that one if you live local.

We're doing double feedings and we've added yet another dirty diaper and about 3 more soaked ones to the mix along with an outfit and swaddle change during his mid-night feeding because of all the extra urine. Despite thinking I'm still good feeding on one side, I'll give it a shot since he is 4 months and may be interested in taking in the extra calories, though I offered both before if he seemed interested. I still stand on my belief that he is growing healthy and strong and is not built to be a linebacker, however.

A package arrived today. It looks like {insert big name baby store} just threw up in our house. I swore I'd never own all this baby crap. But then B arrived and demands just about every single moment of attending and holding and I simply can't. Not with these crazy-mama emotions and sometimes... well... sometimes I just have to pee. Alone.
*I have a few reviews coming up from BlogHer. I love receiving fun, free packages in the mail (my UPS guy told me he thinks people in my neighborhood are rich because we get all kinds of packages and told me my Hollywood is rubbing off on my neighborhood. Haha). Did I mention how much I love BlogHer? I love that I represent babyloss and parenting after loss in their network. Let our voices be heard.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mama Guilt

My biggest frustration today has been questioning whether I should've researched and chosen a pediatrician instead of a primary care physician.

B went in for his 4-month checkup this morning and I left in tears. And not because of the shots-- though I did shed a tear during that as well.

You know when that happens that something needs to be re-evaluated. I then went home and chugged a bunch of water, ate a big bowl of pasta with spinach, a Magnum ice cream bar, drank more water, and have been feeding B on both sides every 1.5 hours since.

Why? Because I got those eyes from our family practice doctor and the run-down on how he is hanging on by a thread in the percentile category (for babies 3 weeks ahead gestationally and on the formula-feeding charts) for weight gain. I was encouraged to give him a formula bottle before bedtime and to start feeding from both sides-- which is the only thing I agree to doing (and the only reason I hadn't been doing so regularly is because B seemed to be content with one side feedings every 2-3 hours). She even encouraged starting him on rice cereal of which I already declared would not ever be a part of his diet because of its void nutritional value. I'd prefer to start him on a food like avocado that is high in good fats and protein.

Let's dispel some myths here. Exclusively Breastfed Babies (EBF) have their own chart, people. It's not fair to assume or compare that formula-fed babies and EBF babies should be compared on the same scale. I consulted the CDC website and it states that the CDC recommends that health care providers:
  • Use the WHO growth standards to monitor growth for infants and children ages 0 to 2 years of age in the U.S.
  • Use the CDC growth charts to monitor growth for children age 2 years and older in the U.S.
According to the World Health Organization's chart for EBF babies, B is not only good, but he's in the upper percentiles... even as a 4-monther and not a 3+ monther that he really should be qualified as considering his barely 37-week birth appearance. Apparently the WHO chart was updated and released recently and it's based on 6 countries-- U.S. being one of the six.

According to the regular charts (at 11lb 14.5oz), B is measuring around the 5th percentile. Small. But according to the WHO website, he's topping the charts! That leads me to believe that even if both are inaccurate (how can you place a basis for babies that are all different with different DNA to begin with?), he's got to average somewhere in the center of fine.

He's eating every few hours, meeting all of his milestones for 3.5 months (because I don't have a 4-month chart) and is even meeting most 5.5 month milestones! Also, his head circumference and height are all well within normal limits (on the CDC charts even!) and he's having at least 3-4 dirty diapers a day. And let's not forget that I'm a pretty small person and my husband's not exactly Hulk Hogan. He's even sleeping in 6-7 hour stretches at night, wakes for a feed, and goes back down for another 2-3 hours! And best of all, B looks and acts, and smiles, and responds and is... happy.

Look at me. I'm freaking happy.
Here's the chart I'm referring to.

I'm just feeling discouraged above all things. I'm not against formula if it must come to that, but I just wanted to be able to feel like I could personally sustain my child and do something as a parent that isn't a failure-- all on my own. I couldn't keep Andrew alive or have any idea of how or why he really died and I failed him. Going into pregnancy with B, I was ultra cautious and the induction happened because we were all afraid of failing him as well, because the NSTs were not looking too fantastic. He was born and had to have NICU intervention and formula then because of his early release... hence feeling like a failure again. Each and every wellness check since his birth has been met with a challenge: low weight, possible hip dyplasia & herniated tissues, and now low weight again. When will I ever take B to the doctor and get high-fived for growing this boy up well?

It's just plain hard having mama guilt over Andrew and dealing with that residual guilt on top of raising B. It's hard enough being a parent of a baby without a previous loss and here we are dealing with B's issues with a nice helping of Andrew sadness and guilt as a base layer to make it all the more frustrating.

Bottom line. My kid is healthy. I truly, truly believe he is. I'm drinking more water, feeding more often and more in general, considering solids a bit earlier than anticipated, and possibly considering a pediatrician switcheroo in the near future. Any recommendations, local Chicago suburbians?

Oy to the vey.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Road Trip! Milwaukee, WI

About a week ago we decided to book a hotel room for Milwaukee just because we can't sit still. It's just our thing. We need to be moving or traveling or something. We're definitely not homebodies. From the need to have me constantly walking him around the house and yard and everywhere, it doesn't appear B will be staying in one place very long either. We had been meaning to check out Milwaukee ever since last year when we made our trek North through Wisconsin and up and over to Isle Royale National Park. We drove through what appeared to be a beautiful city and figured we'd put it on the list as a short getaway for a night from Chicago.

Most of our adventures centered around beer drinking-- no surprise. Thanks to the Chicago fire of 1871, Milwaukee became a leader in beer production. And hey. We like beer. Cheers to beer tours! Our last beer tours were in St. Louis with friends, just before B came into the picture. And now, B is 4 months and exploring with us. We're just so humbled.

We drove out Saturday morning and headed to our first stop, Miller Brewing Co. We did the Anheuser Busch tour last year in addition to Schlafly and Ray had previously done the Coors tour in Golden, CO. That's still on my list, as is the New Belgium facility in Fort Collins, CO where they make my favorite beer, Fat Tire.

No stroller allowed. No problem.
Nearing the end of our tour, they took us into this musty cave and then dropped us off in this "inn" that served us our first free beer.
In the cave.
 Mural on the wall
 Girl in the Moon (Miller High Life symbol) and a couple amazing boys in the cave.
 In the inn with free beer
After our Miller tour, we headed downtown to the 3rd Ward and saw this driving down the road. Anyone ever ridden one of these? This is the first we'd seen them ever.
We drove around a bit after walking around the downtown area and found a nice place to have dinner. I researched on Yelp (always while traveling) and found an excellent Mexican joint, Corazon. It's on a pathway called the Beerline.
 El restaurante.
 After dinner we headed to our hotel and B showed off his amazing tummy time moves without crying.
Hey Ladies. I'm single. Want my digits?

We checked out of our hotel in the morning and headed to the lakeshore to walk around and explore. Along this path were some gorgeous homes. Just off the coast is a shipwreck and we saw a couple people paddleboarding and a few others scuba diving around the area. What caused the shipwreck? Intense smog from the factories. Gross.
 One of the cooler art sculptures we've seen. I'd like a replica of this.
Our second beer tour, Lakefront Brewery. It was awesome. Craft beer joints are always cooler than the big guys. And they give more (and better tasting) beer.
He'd rather be naked.
 On our beer tour
I don't understand my parents. They put me in ridiculous places and think it's cute.
After our beer tour yesterday, we headed across a bridge and to Brady Street where we entered this Italian market called Glorioso's and ordered a couple calzones for lunch. They were, hands down, the best calzones we'd ever had, all for about $12 total. It was right up there in ranks as Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica, CA.

We heart weekends.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Food Snob

Shockingly, I will not be showing you any pictures of food I've made. I know. I know. Shocker.

I decided to turn on the TV today because I was craving some adult interaction and, well, that wasn't happening. It may be a one-way relationship, but it's enjoyable sometimes. The television was turned on the History Channel, which means my husband was the last one to watch TV and was watching either Pawn Stars or American Pickers. I left it on because Modern Marvels was playing and I am always curious about how regular consumer products are made.

The first show was about processed snack foods. They explored the makings of pastries and donuts and all things loaded with saturated fat. The next show was all about meat. They started with pork rinds and continued on to cold cuts. I emailed one of my favorite vegetarian friends, Brooke, because I was so distraught about the discussion of how bologna is made with mechanically separated chicken. The guy being interviewed sticks his gloved hand in a HUGE container of what looked to be liquified chicken. Or, to compare, it looked like vomit. Which then made me want to vomit.

Just before they shoot to commercial, they always show an interesting fact about the number of donuts made in one hour stretching to the heights of the Empire State Building or something. This one was about gelatin being made out of pig skin... and obviously used in things like marshmallows.

I like marshmallows.

This vegetarian knew gelatin was made by a meat product, but that's not what I wanted to hear. When we visited the Netherlands and walked by a cheese shop in Amsterdam, I wouldn't go in. I couldn't. Frankly, I just can't handle seeing cheese in any other state other than on my pizza or in the package I purchase at the grocery store. I'm sort of one of those people that handles such things as what you don't know won't hurt you... but what you do know, will. So that's one of those things. If I know the facts, it will gross me out so much that I won't eat it. And there's already more foods on this planet I won't eat than will and I can't afford to add any more to the list.

So hearing once again that marshmallows are made out of gelatin which contains pig skin was enough to send me into a Pinterest search frenzy for vegan marshmallows. And y'all, I found them. I then emailed Brooke about my find and told her that I really want to find them for less than $12/bag like they're sold for on Amazon (unless you buy in bulk). I complained to her about how the Midwest is just a meat society and vegetarian is practically a bad word here in the 'burbs.
We have Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and my favorite little grocer about 3 miles away that charges way too much but has the best vegan, vegetarian, and organic products. They often sell obscure items like Jeni's ice cream that boasts a flavor called Queen City Cayenne that sounds right up my alley. Sure, a pint is $10, but something intrigues me about a company who handwrites their flavors in Sharpie markers. They also have a delish bistro attached that sells one of my favorite vegetarian burgers made from lentils and other delicious veggies.

But otherwise, there isn't a lot around. So I complained via email to Brooke.

No more than 2 minutes later, I had to retract that complaint, as said marshmallows are sold at that little grocer and all Whole Foods Markets. Touché, touché.

And even better? The company that makes said marshmallows is called Chicago Vegan Foods

I've got to tell you, though. Now that B is here and just a couple months from starting on solids, I'm starting to really think about what food he'll be eating. For one, he won't be raised a veggie like me. I want him to be exposed to all healthy and whole foods. For some reason I'm totally okay with myself eating the four boxes of Magnum ice cream bars I just purchased for an amazing deal last week, but I want him to be eating high quality ingredients. I can assure you bologna will not be on that list. We might have to refinance our house just to buy exclusively from Applegate Farms, but dang. Pig skin just gives me the heebie jeebies.

Anyway, this post was maybe my second pathetic attempt to have adult interaction of some kind today. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Comedic Transactions

I had a Group.on to use for a photobook... and since B's birth and hospital stay was considerably more than a, "Look how cute and omg he has your eyes" trip, I had a wad of photos that needed their own book. I also wanted somewhere I could physically print his story, because I'm sure I'll forget over time and he'll want to know the details. Five pages of this photobook I created below hold his entire birth and hospital stay story, similar to what I posted on the blog when he was born.

Each year, my intention will be to create a photobook of that year, starting at B's birthday. I want each cover to be a picture of B in front of his cake for that year as well. This will likely only work until he's about 10 and no longer thinks it's cool to pose for photos, especially for his mom. But until then, that's the plan.

On to the funny part. So the Group.on was for a company called Ph.otobook America. One would then assume that the photobook would be coming from, I don't know, America, right?

Let me start by saying I don't care at all where this comes from. Yes, I do live in the Midwest where big Unions and proud Americans wave their flags and only purchase American-made products. {Reminds me of that country song, Made in America}. We even have our own American flag proudly waving on our white Georgian home as I type this. But remember, I'm from California. We're hippies and tree-huggers and organic-eating and a big melting pot of all-over-the-world in that state. And Asia is just a hop, skip, and jump over the pond that is the Pacific-- the ocean that I spent everyday gazing at during high school and college and beyond college when I lived just blocks from dipping my feet into.

So across that pond... apparently lies Ph.otobook America. Let's investigate, shall we?

Order was placed and about a week later, I received this email. Get a load of the shipping company:
At that point, I knew it was flying international, I just didn't know the origin. So I tracked the package:
I feel comfortable posting this here as apparently it was delivered to my home, I signed for it, and yet, I don't live in a place called Franklin Park, IL. As a matter of fact, I have no idea where that even is. But more importantly, note the origin of Ph.otobook America in Malaysia. Those tricksters.

So thinking this was comical, at least to me, I promptly forwarded the email to my husband who also had something to say:
This is apparently where I get my kicks these days. Aside from a pretty special little peach who this book was all about. I always wanted my kid to be culturally inclusive and well-rounded.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not Our First Rodeo

It seems I post about this same subject every now and again. Obviously Mother's Day and Father's Day came and went this year and we have B in our arms to hug and love on. We're thankful. We feel lucky-- like we scored the biggest deal or something just being able to bring home a live baby from the hospital.

My husband came home from work yesterday and told me that he was excited about working the next day, because then no one would congratulate and ask him how his first Father's Day was anymore. That the day after would be over. Reminds me a bit of when he returned to work after losing Andrew and he had to deal with the awkward condolences and overly sad looks. He was happy to go back as soon as possible, not only to distract himself, but to get that part over with.

Friends who came to see us in the hospital wished Elliot a Happy FIRST Father's Day on Saturday.

So is that it? Was Andrew, just like that, forgotten by these people? Because he's dead, does that then mean my wonderful husband did not become a father at conception, or at the very least, in that hospital room, holding his still baby boy? I think his 7lb. 6oz. of weight and pictures would be enough to assume he'd reached his fatherhood milestone already. Before Sunday. I even have Mother's Day and Father's Day cards to show for the two years prior when we were both already a mother and a father. I guess I just don't understand why it's so important for people to throw in the word first.

I was walking to the grocery store with B in the stroller the other day and a woman was speedwalking behind me. Of course she speeds in front and peers in {sometimes I feel like they might just crawl in, they're so nosy}, asking how old B is. She then tells me she'll be a grandmother very soon for the first time as I congratulate her {speedwalking still}. She then asks if B is my first, as if it really matters to the stranger and considering our conversation is coming to an end quite soon... and I told her he was my second. Her response?

Wow! Well aren't you ambitious!

I felt insulted for a few reasons. I'm turning 30 in just a few months. Do I not look fully capable and mature enough to handle birthing two children at this point in my life? I suppose I could take that as a compliment, but anyway. I just hated hearing those words, as if I had a choice and as if having children can really be classified in any way as being ambitious. It almost sounds like we were being careless and just randomly found ourselves knocked up with oops babies multiple times in a row. Because obviously we wouldn't want to have two babies 14 months apart. It quite disgusted me.

Mother's Day was similar, but I guess I sort of avoided it all. I threw away cards that indicated it was my first without much of a glance. Again, why must it be necessary to salt that wound? My husband bought me lovely earrings with B's birthstone and I wore my Andrew jewelry. We went for a nature walk and all I can say is that it was better than last year.

B is starting to sleep more at night-- well at least this week he has. When he doesn't wake after a few hours, I usually wake up in a cold sweat just wondering if he'll wake soon. The monitor tells me he's alive, but somehow I don't believe it. When he finally cries for food, I rush to use the restroom while I take in the sounds I wanted to hear for so long-- that I'm so thankful to hear in my home. I throw up a shout out to God for giving me B to mother and head into his room to kiss him, cuddle him, and feed him. I want desperately to remember what it's like to sleep through the night, but part of me isn't sure I can handle it. It's almost like I need to hear B's cries at some point in the night to remind me he's still alive. 

For now at least, that part of the year is over. At least next year we won't have to hear that dreaded word, first.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Video Explosion

For those of you who care about watching videos of B {ehhhm, Family & Joel Marriott}, here are a few taken recently. They're roughly a minute each. Any more than that, and I think it's too much. ;)

Here's Ray attempting to entertain B while sitting (quite the challenge). And hey, if he retains any of it, icing on the cake.
This is the least exciting of the videos, but he does show his mastery of hand sucking.
I love how YouTube allows you to select the thumbnail picture behind each photo. Logically, I chose the screaming still shot. Makes me laugh, anyway. In this video, B is showing how he moves from belly to back during tummy time (aka: baby torture time). He'd done it 3 times in a minute and this is his fourth time. He's obviously quite peeved at me for allowing such activity to take place.

Seems to be a trend here with the naked baby videos. Could mean one of a few things: it's really hot, he just had a blowout, he just peed through an outfit, we're trying to prevent him from peeing through an outfit (always the case during tummy time), or it's bath time. I'll be taking video of bath time soon. It could possibly be his favorite thing ever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Food, Family & Travel

It's usually one of those things. And this one is once again devoted to grub. So get those virtual forks ready. {My gosh, I'm such a dork.}

On the way to my cousin's wedding in Michigan, we stopped off at a local grease shack. Well, at least that's what I expected it to be. Redamak's Tavern is located in New Buffalo and gets rave reviews from the folks here in the Midwest. It's one of those love it or hate it places. Judging from the reviews on Yelp and the insane following this place has, we put it on the list.

Honestly, wasn't greasy enough to me. I just expected worse. So when I was able to order a grilled vegetable pita with swiss cheese, I was no longer assuming this was quite the grease-hole people talk about. Needless to say, we liked it enough to put it on the list for future visits up the Michigan coast. It was B's first time of many, I'm assuming. A new tradition. Now we just have to remember to take photos every time we go.
Please go away, mamarazzi.
Our friends threw a Memorial Day party and I brought Margarita Cupcakes I pinned on Pinterest. I'm no stranger to lime cupcakes, as I made a batch of key lime ones for a baby shower (back when I hosted, threw, and attended them). These required about a 1/4 cup of tequila but obviously it cooks off and leaves no flavor behind. What a waste of tequila, I say. One of my friends said these weren't as good as the key lime ones I made a couple years ago. So yeah, off the pinterest board because I found them to be just okay. And for all that work, they needed to be better than okay.

Even the frosting turned out crappier than usual. It was too smooth to pipe, so I just slathered it on. In hindsight, that was so much easier than the piping. Also, something I added caused the cupcakes to pull away from the paper. Weird, huh?
Sticking with our green theme, I finally made another pinned recipe, Avocado Mac 'n' Cheese. And yes, it was just as decadent as it sounds. If it weren't for fat grams that cause behinds and thighs to grow and inhibit proper-sized jean wearing, I'd eat this everyday. But yeah... this was definitely a full day's worth of caloric intake and then some. Either avo or cheese, but not both next time. Or maybe cheese with a few avo chunks on top. It had an avo flavor, but I guess I like my avo straight up and I felt like it was too muted. And considering they're both high in calories, I would rather enjoy them separate.

I did like how creamy the recipe turned out (I know, with two avo and 7 slices of cheese, it better be, right?!) and would definitely use the roux/cheese recipe for a future plain mac 'n' cheese. I used pre-sliced cheese and I think it was just as easy as using shredded cheese. I just added one slice at a time, stirred until melted, then added another slice. I even took B on a walk to the grocery store just for cilantro to make this. I <3 cilantro. For taste, 5/5 stars. For over the fat intake one should have in a day, 6/5. Hah.
I made two bread recipes (I know, shutup woman. That's why I put them last.). I've stuck to my guns and haven't purchased a loaf of bread in two weeks. So for Ray's daily PBJ, he has had homemade bread. And can I say that homemade bread makes the best toast ever? The first comes to you from my Blendtec Blender. That's right. I made bread in my blender. No hand kneading at all.

If you blend a lot (or even if you don't but want a blender that actually works and will be around longer than you will), this is seriously the machine for you. I tell people all the time that it's absolutely the most valuable appliance in my kitchen. Also, it's literally the most costly appliance I own. It has permanent counter space. I will definitely be making blender bread again. It was easy and awesome.

Proofing the yeast -- something I've learned recently that's very important, in addition to the temp of the water.
 Blended dough (pressed pulse a few times to "knead" the dough).
 After allowing the dough to rise.
 Honey Wheat Bread
I'm working on forming my loaves and achieving the sandwich bread shape with the muffin top like I want. I'm almost there. No photos from this week's bread (the best yet and it's half gone!), but it's from this recipe and is definitely the best shape of any bread to date. Mine is slightly shorter, but still really great.