Burrito bowl

When you have a newborn, cooking becomes even more challenging. Just when you would sit down to cook your meal, the newborn begins cluster feeding. What is cluster feeding you ask? It is a non-stop, open bar nursing session that can last for hours! Owen would start at 3 and want to stop at 7. So there I am stranded on the couch, a prisoner to my new baby and the boppy. Why can’t David cook you ask? Oh he can! He is better at it than me, but there is the two year old who needs some entertaining and while he is interested in cooking he easily becomes a hazard in the kitchen. 

So what do we do? Starve.

No, we have really amazing friends who bring us amazing food those first few weeks while we get our feet under us. And then those amazing meals become a part of our repertoire when our amazing friends share the recipe! 

We have probably made this one three times since Owen was born and since Lyndsay brought it over to our house the night we came home from the hospital. Gratitude is not enough for the meal drop off those first days and weeks.

Recipe: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/burrito-bowls/

36 weeks & counting

How is it that every month has roughly 30 days and then the last month of pregnancy has 5,435 days! I am not a patient person and this wait killed when it was Henry’s turn and it is just as hard the second time. You would think I would have learned?

And it’s Spring Break which is such a blessing and curse for this mama. Clearly the timing is amazing because I should be relaxing and taking some time off my feet because before I know it this house is going to be VERY different. But I really struggle with empty space. I am notorious for filling up my calendar with a dozen errands and chores and trips and visits. The first day of spring break alone I plowed through most of my two week long to-do list by tackling the basement clean-up, Henry’s closet organization, baby room set-up, and hospital bag packing. I guess the bright side of this is that now there is very little to do and I am forced to confront my free time as it stands…free time. Seriously, this is not a problem because it is such a glorious gift but I need to really practice some mediation to help calm my frantic energy that wants to go go go. I am going to dedicate this time off then to centering and spending quality time with Henry without racing him from one thing to the next. These may be our final weeks as a mama, papa, kiddo triumvirate so I better savor it now before it totally passes me by!

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Here is a little glimpse at the room all set up and ready to greet our newest member!

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Is he really going to be this tiny? It feels so good having the hospital bag packed just in case, although NO ONE thinks I am going to go early except for me (and maybe my OB). That is what happens when baby 1 is so delayed, everyone around you just keeps reminding you of it.

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I probably can’t afford a daily Lush bubble bath until baby, but I can squeeze in a few  between now and baby. It was a glorious reminder that when I can shut down my brain there is beauty in the silence.

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But, I am so excited to start the next few days home with my littlest man! It is going to be great to just snuggle this peanut and maybe even sneak him off to lunch with Daddy downtown (yup, there I go again planning out our days!).

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And then this little one joins the party and it is SO crazy to see him because I feel like I know him and yet he is our greatest mystery.

 

the key….

Since the day we took Henry home from the hospital, he has hated the car. When I tell this to other parents they look at me in disbelief. “What do you mean he hates the car?” they blink open-mouthed. “Our little one falls asleep after 5 minutes of rolling along,” they say in such a way as to suggest we must be mistaken about Henry. But, alas, we are not. Yes, the majority of babies can barely hold their eyes open once they are cruising along the highway or casually driving around town running errands. Henry though is not that baby. Never was. Instead our otherwise totally chill dude goes wild. Screams at the top of his lungs are common place as are shrieks and shrill hysterics. We could be driving 5 minutes down the road or 5 hours away. The pitch, frequency, and duration of the scream is constant. Needless to say, we have not gone on many road trips. And when we do, no one is happy (or very sane after).

We have tried everything to make the car a more enjoyable space. We started to consider that if he is such a pleasant, happy, and easy baby everywhere else in life (including sleep), then maybe this is our burden? Maybe this is the bad that we have to take with all the rest that is so so good. And then….

Something changed. Quite unexpectedly, Henry started to carry a book with him to the car. Sometimes he would even try to muster the strength to carry two books. We buckled him in, placed his desired books on his lap, shut the car door and….silence. For the entire car ride from our house to Boston (approximately 30-35 minutes), he read. It must have been a fluke, no? We tried it again, and again, and again. Henry LOVES to read in the car. It keeps him entertained as he flips through the pages, points at various characters and images, and babbles to himself. The longest car ride so far has been 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes of silence! WHAT!?! That was completely unheard of in this house. This might not be a total silver bullet, but I am happy for a little reprieve and watching him sit cross-ankled in his carseat paging through a book is SO CUTE!

steps

David knows his baby boy!

We waited and waited for those first independent steps and then last night, motivated by his woodland creature stuffed animals, Henry did it. He is not walking walking, but he is stepping off and maybe traversed 10 feet solo.  Not bad for his first flight. Watching this little man grow, play, and explore has been the most beautiful gift. Maybe, just maybe, I am ready for this next chapter of his babyhood.

Henry Adam: 10 months

Happy Double Digits! Woot Woot!

It feels like just yesterday this little guy was born and now we are staring straight ahead to his first birthday in just sixty days.  Madness; this is just utter madness. How is Henry already ten months old?!? It is funny how the school year’s end stills seems so long away and yet Henry’s birthday seems too soon. I remember a year ago at this time my belly was swollen with baby and I was nervously anticipating the labor and delivery to come. We were attending birth classes and installing our car seat and imagining what it would be like to have our baby boy join us. We hypothesized and theorized this future. Our expectations were wrong. I never knew just how much life would flip like a switch and how much I would come to love this truly blessed existence of motherhood. Our little family is the best part of every moment of every day for me. But enough of this, I will have a chance to write more about my reflections once we get to that finish line of one year!  For now, what is important is to share everything that this little dude has be up to and into.

This month was all about visiting family and friends! It kicked off with Henry’s first Easter celebration. At brunch with family and friends, H dined on an assortment of yummy delights from eggs to scones to pancakes and bacon. He ate heartily while enjoying the company around him. It was then off to California for an extended weekend with my brother and his family. I noted in my previous gushing post that we had the BEST time and are eagerly awaiting our return to that West Coast kind of living. This month Henry also visited with some new faces in New York. We drove down to see my extended family at a little party and topped off the visit with a chance to hang out with Colleen and to meet baby Marcella (my oldest friend’s newest addition). If that were not enough, we are soaking up as much time with our friend Amelie and her parents before they become expats this summer. Their current location near Jamaica Pond makes strolls in the fantastic weather descending on Boston ideal. This full month ended with our first birthday party for Annabelle and it was such a fantastic event! It really made me a bit sappy to think about how all of our baby friends are growing up so fast!

Henry has also been super chatty this month. His repertoire of sounds is constantly evolving. While he is a bit reticent with new people, he is quickly starting to warm up and babble away. When he sits in his highchair for dinner he loves to have long conversations. He babbles to his daddy or me and then pauses for us to respond and then babbles again. He changes his tone and cadence and is really imitating dialogue. It makes me so excited for the next few months. Some of his new sounds include (but are not limited to): dada, mama, hi, ta ta, pa pa, ha ha, doh doh, dog, ga ga, goo goo. What makes this all even more exciting is that he can also identify people now. When we ask, “Where is Mommy,” “Where is Daddy, ” or “Where are the doggies,” he looks right to the person or pups in question. Each morning when he wakes up he immediately starts calling “dog dog dog” and wants to see his pups and pet their heads.  In practicing his sounds he has either intentionally or accidentally begun to whistle. With lips pursed, the little whistle sound comes forth and is so surprising. When we first started to hear it, we both thought, “Who is whistling?” or “Do you hear that whistling sound?” and there he was crawling about and whistling his way through the house.

After a long hiatus development has begun again on the smile project! Henry’s three bottom teeth have now been joined by his top front teeth. Despite the teething concerns that inevitably come with the arrival of each new chomper, these came in with little pomp and circumstance. After two nights of mild discomfort, his little teeth broke the surface and are working their way down. He is now eating more and more thanks to this development! He has not shied away from a single meal or delicacy we have shared with him. This month’s new foods and food experiences included: Indian buffet, pizza, bacon egg sandwiches, steak, almond butter, fish and chips, blackberries, pineapple, thai fried rice, ice cream, and brussel sprouts. Henry is a brussel-sprout monster! He can devour a full plate of these baby cabbages before you can blink your eyes! Dining al fresco has been such a new treat as well. Since the snows have melted, Bostonians have eagerly spent sunrise to sunset out of doors. And we are no different in our desire to be soaking up the fresh air and sun!

While he hasn’t taken that first solo step yet, Henry is definitely inching closer to that day. Some of his favorite activities include walking by pushing either his elephant toy or his little activity cart. He walks his cautious little self around and around the downstairs. It is one of my favorite things these days. The little elephant push ride sings this silly song that goes, “I love to go a walkin’ with my best friend every day,” and around the corner here comes Henry with the biggest grin! He stands with the tiniest bit of assistance and can walk barely holding onto your hands, but he is not quite ready for his solo step. David and I are really excited for that moment though…whenever it happens.

Henry is really into:

  • Imitating everything you do. If he sees you kissing, he opens his mouth for a sloppy kiss. If he sees you doing raspberries on someone’s belly, he leans over and tries to do it too. If he sees you eating, you better have food for him. If he sees you turn a stacking toy into a trumpet, he grabs it and babbles into the “trumpet” too.
  • Sleeping through the night!! Sleeping through the night is no longer the rare chance night time experience but it is now the standard. From 7PM to 7AM, Henry is far away in slumberland.
  • Drinking water. From cups or with straws, Henry has mastered drinking water sans bottle. He even prefers to avoid his bottle at baby school and drink his milk via cup. We have found both the munchkin 360 cup and munchkin straw super helpful. Both of these cups have helped him practice this skill to transition from bottle to cup and straw.
  • Waving and clapping. Henry loves loves loves to wave and clap. He cannot contain himself! It is especially sweet and apparent when I bring him to the commuter rail to pick up Daddy and he waves and claps for each passenger disembarking the train.
  • Tucking in. Henry has a “tell” for when he is ready to sleep. When you give him a hug, he puts his head on your shoulder and then tucks his arms in underneath himself. This tucking-in is so darn sweet. I cannot take it! My heart melts each time as he presses close, tucks in, and nods off.
  • Sucker fish. It is hard to wrap your little baby mind around kissing. What exactly is kissing? To H right now, kissing is opening your mouth super wide and then sealing it onto mommy or daddy’s cheek, chin, or mouth and then sucking hard. It is reminiscent of the bottom sucker in a fish tank. He loves to give his sucker fish kisses and even though it might sound gross or weird, I sort of love getting them!
  • Playing with toys. I say this because now he no longer immediately puts every toy in his mouth. Instead of playing being another name for salivating on toys, playing now means playing. H pushes his cars around his room, stacks bowls, and passes toys back and forth to you.
  • Towel Cuddles. After a splash in the tub, Henry loves to laugh and squeal as he is wrapped in his towel. Then we hug and hug and hug while he belly laughs and my heart melts every time.

Amsterdam Part II.

Amsterdam at night is known for its seedier side. Americans immediately conjure up images of ladies of the night hawking their bodies in the windows of the red light district as tourists gape open mouthed at their gestures and nakedness. The smell of pot smoke fills the air as drunken stag parties stumble about from pub to pub. While some of this might be true, much of it is the stuff of imagination as this “darker” side of Amsterdam wasn’t really visible to us during our sojourn to the city. Yes, we toured the red light district and came upon coffeeshops from time to time, but none of it seemed illicit. All of it seemed totally normal and even “respectable” (also we attempted to get to bed by 9:30PM so we probably missed all the fun anyway). On the other hand, our nights in Amsterdam were consumed by another nefarious agent.

Did you hear that sound? Oh no? You are lucky then because each night if we attempted to put Henry to bed in his travel crib an exorcism of the most horrific order unfolded! That first night was the stuff of parenting nightmares and I was convinced that Henry’s screams could be heard back in beantown. For hours, he was completely inconsolable and wanted nothing to do with David. I was left pacing the floor of our tiny Amsterdam apartment with Henry strapped to me in the Ergobaby. If my paced changed, he shrieked. In those early morning hours, I broke down and begged David to get us back home to the States. I had had enough 24 hours in to our week long vacation. I threw in the towel. David however filled my cup with coffee and assured me that despite my zombie state and utter fear of a nightly repeat that it would get better. And it did. Well it did because we just gave in to the little tyrant. Instead of trying to get him to sleep in his crib (which he does beautifully every night at home), we let him sleep in bed with us. We also just went with his flow. Instead of bedtime at 7PM, he went to bed at 9:30PM. Instead of sleeping through the night, he woke up from 1-3AM for a play time session everyday. It was a crazy schedule, but we made it work. In the end, we all got enough sleep to make it through each day feeling rested and excited to explore. But, I will not lie, I am really happy to be back home if only for the return of our sleep schedule!

On top of our random and at times horrifying nights, we jotted down some funny or random items from our trip that either made us smile, laugh, or scratch our heads:

  • Selfie sticks: everywhere we turned photos were taken using selfie sticks. From teens to geriatrics, the selfie stick was by far the device of choice among the tourist circle. We saw them so often that we even thought to ourselves, “hmm maybe we should get one?”
  • Grandparents: when you take a bus tour you will inevitably be among the grandparent tourist circle. And there is nothing wrong with this. It is just a fact. The convenience of these types of tours make it incredibly welcoming to this demographic and it was also ideal for our little family. As such, we learned so much about all of the grandchildren of these delightful tourists. Each Oma and Opa would pet Henry’s hand or head and tell us how sweet he was and how cute he was and how much they missed their own little grand-babies.
  • Dutch Girlfriend: Everywhere Henry went, he was a flirt. He would cast his “come hither” eyes to the crowd hoping to catch a young lady. Henry melted many a hearts in Amsterdam but no one fell harder than this little girl we met while eating dinner at the Golden Temple. She could not stop coming over to our table, holding Henry’s hand, and staring at him. It was an instant connection and I cannot wait for their paths to cross again.
  • Day of Details: One morning David declared it the “day of details.” While I sort of laughed at this idea, it was actually really fun. David went about the city with a keen eye hoping to capture the smaller points of Amsterdam. He ended up taking some great shots!
  • Love Boat: When we got aboard the ferry to Marken the theme to the Love Boat played on repeat for the 30 minute trip. Ha, it was amazing!
  • Bjorns & Bikes: Did you know that you can just strap your newborn to you in a Bjorn and bike around the city? Every country is different and we should not jump to immediate judgements but this was one practice that surprised me every time I saw it. Dads glided by with their little fresh babies in Bjorns as they biked here and there. Amsterdam bike culture is VERY different from Boston. In Boston, a cyclist runs the risk of losing life or limb to a disgruntled driver which is not at all what it is like biking in the very, very cyclist friendly city of Amsterdam. Nonetheless, this practice was super curious, but I am sure those little babies napped really well while their parents biked them about strapped to their chests!
  • Robin & Heather: It is sometimes hard to realize how much you miss someone until you see them again and are directly reminded of how awesome they are! I miss Robin and Heather terribly. They are truly good friends, good people, and good souls. Their visit to Amsterdam for the weekend of our stay was by far my trip highlight.