summer family visit

Four months was too long between our family visits!! The last time we were all together in one place was back on the family Disney Cruise vacation in March. Now here we were in August finally reuniting and welcoming a new member into our family fold, Mr Henry! Jessie and the littles arrived first on Wednesday night, followed by my parents, and lastly my brother joined the group. We had a week together to connect, share, love, laugh, and explore. It went by in a blink but while we were together is was a perfect visit. Watching the littles play with Henry was heart warming. They were so interested in him. It was clear that they would be even faster friends once Henry is a little older to play with them more. We played hard in the mornings at home and went out on little outings during the day and relaxed together at home at night. It was a sweet visit and I am truly looking forward to our next one in December for Christmas (although, I am sure there will be many Skype sessions in between).

Hanging out in our pjs at home were some of my favorite times. The littles and Henry played, and played and played and the adults watched, joined in, and connected with one another over coffee. It was mellow but exactly what we all needed.

We spent a beautiful evening at a nearby park when the air was cool and crisp and then planned our next day to be spent out at Belkin Family Farm in Natick where we picked nectarines and apples and explored the property together. It was a great excursion for us and the littles who were so interested in picking fruit and tasting it straight off the branch.

 

henry’s christening

This past week was very special for Henry. He had the opportunity to meet his uncle Bryan, aunt Jessie, and the littles. He also spent time with Mema and Pepa and met his auntie Kaelin too. Many of our wonderful family and friends came together both to visit and to celebrate the little man’s christening. After a week of spending time together in the city and around the neighborhood, we topped off the wonderful visit (which I will blog about in a separate post) with a little sprinkle of holy water. The day was beautiful, the service special, and being together as a family the best of all. It is moments like these that make the distance between us hard, but the time we get together truly special.

sleep champion & scared parents

Henry is a sleep champion! It didn’t seem this way when he was first born though. That first night in the hospital after giving birth to him at 9PM, the nurse left us in our room two hours later and we were alone. Completely alone with this little person whom we knew “nothing” about and who was belligerent about having left the warm, dark world he had come to know. David and I sat in that room clueless. I remember feeling totally helpless as this little screaming baby turned red in my arms and I frantically tried to comfort him. Babies I had babysat for always seemed to like x, y, and z but then they were always older than two hours and none of my “tricks” worked. We had to start from scratch with this little guy and our first impression was not one of capable parents! That was the longest night ever. Yet, very quickly our sleepless, upset baby changed into a sleep champion.

By the time we took Henry home from the hospital he was sleeping like clockwork. Every two hours he was up to eat and was quick to soothe and put back to sleep. This two hour pattern though tiring was predictable and it is amazing how quickly you get use to sleeping in two hour shifts. In some ways it even felt luxurious. This pattern lasted until Henry was 4 weeks old and was coupled with long, long stretches of daytime naps. It use to always boggle my mind when people used the phrase “slept like a baby.”  Babies don’t sleep well! That is why there are all those TV shows and movies showing exhausted new parents comically stumbling about. And, all those baby sleep books that line the shelves of Barnes & Noble capitalize on providing hope and advice to new parents whose bags under their eyes drag to the floor. Henry, though, seemed to be in some sleep stupor. Perhaps this was the fourth trimester some have indicated exists for the select few?  Whatever it was, we were happy to get a little “regular” sleep even if it was in short segments.

At five weeks old, we held our breath.  This would be the moment when everything changed, no? Henry would suddenly wake up and become fussy and restless and inconsolable. We had pressed our luck long enough and now it was time to pay up with our precious sleep. Somehow Henry didn’t get the cranky message!! Instead, five weeks marked elongated sleep patterns and changes to his naps. Henry started to sleep the fabled long stretch. From around 8:30PM to 1:30AM, he slept solidly. Then again from 2AM-4:30AM and again from 5AM-6:30AM. WHAT!?!?  How is this possible. His naps are little shorter in the day now too: 9AM-11AM, 2PM-3PM, 6PM-7PM and then bed time. All week long, he followed this pattern (give or take 30 minutes). While this is the most amazing pattern we could ask for, it feels like we are walking on eggshells. It will stop, we keep telling ourselves. It will end, it will change, it will disappear, it will turn into the sleepless madness that is more universally experienced by babies all around the world, no? Sunday night we had a glimpse of this horror. Henry did not sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. All night long, I fed him, cuddled him, changed his diapers, and swayed him back and forth. He would only sleep if he lay beside me in bed and I thought in a tearful moment that this was our forever future. And, I was “okay” with it, as it was inevitable and we held it off as long as we could.

Then last night, his predictable pattern seemed to return! Maybe the previous night was a fluke, or maybe it was a growth spurt, or maybe we will never know what it was. David and I are a little scared to see nights like that again and we are hoping that this sleep champion continues to impress us. It isn’t anything we are doing that is for sure, so hopefully this balanced, calm stays within Henry and sleep stays in our house. Fingers Crossed.

first hike

Having a baby in the summer is awesome except he cannot be out in the sun for too long. So beach days, walks in the park, and really any outdoor activity has to be calculated perfectly so as not to let his soft baby skin burn or over heat. After a relaxing morning home, David did a quick Google search and found an “adventure” for us to have in the afternoon. We packed Henry up and piled into the car. When I asked David if I needed to program the GPS he smiled and said no. We drove down our block and within 3 minutes we were there. Little did I know that a quiet forested reservation was so close to our house. Having once been carriage routes, the paths were wide and generally flat. We took out the stroller and headed into the cool, shady woods for our first hike as a family. Along the way we talked about how we could come back with the pups too and how in the future it would be so fun to watch Henry toddle and then run about. It was a really nice way to spend the afternoon together so close to home. This may be our new favorite spot.

returning to pure barre

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I first started doing Pure Barre classes in my second trimester. I loved feeling active again after an exhausting first trimester where my fatigue knocked the wind right out of my sails. Once the third trimester started though, I was no longer able to exercise more than a brisk walk in the park. With a bigger and bigger belly and a little hip joint pain it was hard to maneuver about at the barre. I knew though that once Henry arrived I would want to return to classes to bounce back from baby. Today was that day.

At 3AM, while I was awake feeding the little guy, an intense wave of guilt and the sleepies hit and I thought it would be best for everyone if I cancelled my appointment with Pure Barre. What was I thinking?  How could an exhausted first time mom with little sleep really tackle a class like this? How could I leave my 5 week old baby? Unfortunately, with less than 24 hours to cancel, I would be charged for the class regardless of my attendance. David was super supportive and truly encouraged me to get going. He said, “You will be a better mom, if you get to have a little personal time.” Still feeling guilty, but at least encouraged by David’s support, I headed to my first class post-baby.

Sitting on the floor waiting for class to start, I felt so awkward. I wanted everyone to know somehow that this was a special and hard moment for me. The ladies surrounding me all chatted about their lives and I sat there thinking: This is a HUGE moment, here I am a little shell shocked but still here. It was like I needed someone in the class to acknowledge this.  Then a lovely woman asked me if this was my first time and I was finally able to say, “Yes, my first time since I had my baby.”  And, as a fellow mom, she wrapped me up in warm encouragement and told me it was going to be a great class. We chatted a little about our children and about our summers and I felt like the snowball of guilt melted away a bit.

I was surprised how strong my arms felt in class while we did our push-ups and weights. Carrying around my 11lb baby definitely is helping to tone. This section of class used to leave me winded as my arms felt like jello beneath me as I “planked” for 90 seconds.  Now I felt rock solid.  But my “weakness” is now my stomach. Having been a gymnast in high school, I never really had to worry about my core strength. Somehow those years of core work held on through my post-gymnastic years. Well, that is all different now post-Henry. Yes, I know it was totally worth it to have my bundle of joy but it is amazing how different my body feels after baby. It took 9 months to grow this little one so I am going to be gentle on my tummy and give it the time it needs to tone and tighten up (and hopefully it can at some point!).

Feeling good after class, I immediately checked my cell phone to see if David and Henry had reached out. There was a text of a picture of Henry snoozing away in his Mamaroo and I felt perfect. I had done something for myself and Henry and David coped perfectly well without me.

I tried to call David on my way home to check in and share my positive feelings about class. He did not answer. I was little nervous but thought that he might be napping along with Henry. When I walked into the house, David looked a bit tense and Henry was grief stricken. Crying and crying for 20-30 minutes, David had tried everything: diapers, bottle, singing, bopping, dancing, walking, etc. etc. But Henry was not content. I scooped up my little guy into my arms and he settled down. Sometimes when you are that little you just want to cuddle your mommy. David did an amazing job and I am so appreciative of the time he gave me and the love he gave Henry, but does Henry’s reaction mean I left too soon?

henry adam: one month

Henry Adam, our little guy, is one month old! He is just the sweetest little boy too. David and I could not have imagined a better addition to our twosome. And, we get to keep him too! Seriously, this month has definitely had its challenges (evening fussy sessions that left us ragged) and its triumphs (heading out of doors more and more), and we are so happy to announce that Henry survived his first month with us as parents!! Woo Hoo we did it! The learning curve was steep (and in many many ways we continue to climb it) but this first month of jitters and calling out to each other, ‘What do I do?” is checked off.  I would even do it all over again if I could.

Henry is really into:

  • Being held upright by the couch so he can stare at the picture frames on the wall
  • Rocking in his glider
  • Napping in his Mamaroo
  • Being swaddled
  • Taking baths and getting his head scrubbed
  • Dancing around the house with mom and dad
  • Listening to his parents sing crazy, off tune songs
  • Being smelled by the puppies
  • Cuddles and sleeping on someone
  • Farting (this makes all of us happy!)
  • Kisses on his chest and feet

 

parmesan basil chicken patties

Thankfully this meal was salvaged! Just when you think everything is going smoothly and you confidently saunter about the house feeling like the most amazing new mom, you are snapped back into the reality of messy motherhood when you have a sleep-deprived moment. There I was cooking up the chicken patties and thinking I could briefly multi-task only to turn back around to the chicken and see them filling the entire kitchen with smoke! I had completely forgotten to turn down the heat to medium and had left the chicken to burn on high long enough to trigger the smoke alarms. David ran downstairs with Henry and the dogs as I stood there paralyzed not knowing what to do (this is my response to a crisis, which is a terrible response!!). Thankfully David snapped me out of my “playing possum” state by shouting turn the stove off, open the window, and flap a towel by the smoke detector. We were a jumbled mess as we tried to fix the kitchen drama, calm down the dogs, and soothe the baby. Luckily within a few  minutes the alarms stopped and the smoke cleared enough for it to no longer be scary. When we looked into the pan we were surprised to see that the chicken was burned but not so badly that we couldn’t still enjoy it for dinner. Despite the mishap dinner was still delicious!

Ingredients:

2 diced cloves garlic

1 bunch basil

1 tomato

1 diced bunch green onions

1/2  edamame

3/4 cup barley

10 ounces ground chicken

1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Add the barley to the pot of boiling water and cook 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside until it is time to plate the meal.  While the barley cooks, in another pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced garlic and the green onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced tomato, basil, edamame, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil, once boiling cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the barley is done about 12-15 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, basil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese.  Create 4 patties and cook up in pan with two tablespoons of olive oil. Loosely cover the pan with tin foil and cook on MEDIUM (not high like we did!) for 4-6 minute per side. Once all elements  are prepared plate and enjoy!

skirt steak with long beans

It is amazing what you can do when sleep deprived. The last two nights Mr. Henry has decided to host an all-night dance party. The problem is mom and dad were not really feeling it. Unfortunately for all of us, Henry gets to dictate the evening schedule right now and so we were up, up, UP all night with the little fellow. Yes, he did sleep a little but it wasn’t for long and by the time we fell back to sleep ourselves, he was rising out of his shallow slumber. Despite the last 48 hours of no sleep, we have still been able to shower, cook, and function more or less. Last night we cooked up this skirt steak with green beans and potatoes. It was super simple but if I had to do it again, I might not use skirt steak. I think a sirloin would have really heightened the meal. Fingers crossed that we are able to cook tonight before collapsing into a pile of sleepless jelly!

Ingredients:

1lb Skirt Steak

6 Ounces Long Beans

4 Cloves Garlic

1 Bunch Thyme

1 Pound Russet Potatoes

1 Tomato

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place the potatoes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange the seasoned potatoes in a single layer and roast in the oven for 20 to 22. season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan and heat , dd the diced garlic cloves and cook. Add the long beans, tomato, half the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes. Plate the dish by placing the potatoes first, top with greens, and lastly add the steak. Enjoy!