Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slow-cooker Sunday

The past two Sunday's I've put together one meal in the crockpot and one on top of the stove, and then I've had to do very little cooking throughout the week. Genius. If I do say so myself.

Last week, I made my friend Sara's Crock-Pot Chicken and Dumplings. O. M. G. Some of the best comfort food I've had in a long time. Thick and creamy, and the dumplings, made out of biscuits in can, are delicious. Jordan was a big fan of this one.

I also made my mom's recipe for Doug's Chili Verde #5. I have no idea why it's called that or where she got this recipe. Apparently from someone names Doug who has multiple versions of the recipe. But I do know that it's delicious.
3-4 lb rump roast
1 can beef broth
3-4 fresh jalepenos, seeded and chopped
1 T chili powder
1 chopped onion (I probably use about half as much)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 C wine
Cook over low heat on stovetop several hours - I think I cooked mine for about 3-4 hours, shredded it with a fork and then let cook another hour or so. This meat is so tender and is excellent as taco filling, on a tostada, on a salad ... would be great in enchiladas, too.

For this week, I cooked a pork shoulder in the crockpot. It was around 3 lbs, and I cooked with worchestershire sauce, liquid smoke, a little chicken stock, garlic powder, onion powder and a little chili powder for about four hours. Tonight we had it over corn cakes (cornbread mix prepared according to directions but cooked like pancakes instead of muffins or sticks) with some North Carolina bbq sauce drizzled over the top. Yum.

My mom made Southern Living's White Lightening Chicken Chili last week and loved it, so naturally I had to try it, too. It was super easy - maybe 10 minutes to prepare and another 10 to cook - and excellent. The avocado-mango salsa on top is a delicious added bonus.

Happy eating!

You know you are a parent when ...

  • You don't realize your baby has explosi-pooped out her diaper until you notice something strange on the back of her head ... yep, that's poop, which you then realize is also leaking out both legs of her diaper. You remain bewildered as to how it got on her head.
  • When presented an opportunity to go on a vacation sans-baby, you become manic-depressive, alternating between utter glee at the chance to get away for a while and despair at how in the world you will manage to be away from her for multiple days in a row
  • Getting out of the house to run to Target (especially if by yourself) feels almost like a vacation (and no, that's not the kind of vacation I'm referring to in the bullet above)
  • You are destined to cancel at least one out of three outings or appointments because your baby has gone crazy (or is that just us????)
  • The biggest excitement on a Saturday night is dancing your baby around the house with her singing stuffed duck toy. And you are surprisingly OK with that being how you spend your Saturday nights now
  • You can never seem to find your lip gloss, credit card or gum in your purse, but you are never at a loss for various bows, toys, socks and blankies
  • Instead of your phone being the one thing you can't leave home without (and are willing to turn around to get when almost at your destination), it's now the baby's pacifier
  • Watching your baby sleep is better than any movie or TV show
  • You would sell your own body parts (or better yet, your spouse's) for a cup of coffee or glass of wine, depending on the day
  • When you're exhausted and you've been up to comfort your baby multiple times throughout the night, you start to wonder, could I just fit in the crib with her? (I haven't tried this yet but I contemplate it about every other night. When I mentioned it to Jordan, he says he thinks about it all the time, too)
  • Your entire house has been overrun by baby toys. After you swore up and down that you would never let that happen to you
  • You either dress your baby in so many layers that she's sweating or you don't have enough clothes on her. There is no in between
  • You know you have to stay married forever because your husband is the only one who can 1) get the crib sheets on the mattress, 2) remove those hard-to-reach boogers from the baby's nose and 3) get the medicine successfully from the syringe into the baby's mouth. And he's willing to get up with the baby in the middle of the night - that one is priceless.
  • You contemplate shoving old people who touch your baby in the grocery store line. Yes, I am aware she's cute, but you saying it doesn't give you permission to touch her.
  • You have mastered driving with one hand while the other arm reaches into the back seat to hold the pacifier in the baby's mouth
  • In the evening while watching TV, you hear a cry and are halfway to the baby's room before you realize it came from the TV. This happens to me almost every night. I am over all commercials or TV shows with babies crying
  • It takes you approximately six times as long to read a book as before the baby because you can only get through about half a page before falling asleep at night. And when she goes to bed at 7 p.m., you seriously think about going to bed, too.
There's a lot more where this came from ... this one is to be continued ...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Parenting: The ultimate guessing game

I had no idea how absolutely clueless I would be as a parent. And I still marvel that you get to just make up whatever rules you want. There's not exactly a handbook for this job. Most of the time I'm OK with making up my own rules. But the part of parenting where I really wish there was a handbook, or at least a few clues, is our battle with colic. There is pretty much nothing more painful than watching your child in pain and being clueless and helpless for how to fix it. And if your name is Jordan "I like to fix things" Page, it's especially difficult.

I realized yesterday that clearly I should have gone to medical school like I'd originally planned. Then maybe I could figure out what's really wrong with my kiddo or at least have some more insight into what to do. Although, on the other hand, the doctors we've seen haven't been able to provide much help either. And (no offense to my friends who are doctors or studying to be doctors) I kind of feel like living with a colicky baby for five months might be a little like a crash course in med school. I've learned a lot and I'm completely exhausted. Just call me Dr. Page!

We have heard that 90 percent of babies outgrow colic by four months. Really helpful to hear when your baby is five months old and still colicky. Thankfully we got to take Addie to a GI specialist yesterday (and we'll never be able to thank Jordan's godfather enough for arranging it, since, apparently it usually takes months to get in) who confirmed there is nothing seriously wrong with her. Music to my ears. Although we were fairly certain that she'd have other major symptoms if something was really wrong, we desperately needed a second opinion and confirmation that she was OK. And that we do not completely suck as parents. The specialist did think that Addie has reflux, too, which could exacerbate the colic symptoms. We've got new medicine to try, which should start to help over the next two weeks. In the same breath, Jordan told me the medicine was pretty expensive but that he'd sell everything we owned, body parts, even our dog (please don't tell Izzy) if it could provide her even a little relief.

Here's the tricky part. One doctor thinks that introducing food (specifically carbs) into Addie's diet is at the root of the reappearance of the colic symptoms. (Did I mention that we were virtually colic-free for a month? Made the return of the symptoms that much harder.) The other thinks that's basically a load of bull and that carbs could actually help her. One thinks she's has reflux, the other thinks she doesn't. At least they both agree she has colic. And that she's really cute. So I guess this is the part where Jordan and I use our medical degrees to determine which doctor is right???

All I know is that I'm tired of my baby's tummy hurting. I'm tired of all the answers being "let's try this for a couple weeks and see what happens." And I'm physically and emotionally exhausted from worrying about and aching for her every time she cries as if her little heart would break.

The good news is that my sweet baby is happy, smiling and laughing a lot of the time. And we have a lot of help and support when she's not. And, as Jordan and I say to each other all the time, things could be so much worse. Hearing the specialist say yesterday that Addie is a healthy, happy, thriving baby practically brought tears to my eyes. Because that's exactly what I prayed our baby would be.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Addison Mae - 5 months

My baby is almost half a year old! Where has the time gone??? Every time I look at her I can't believe how big she is - she's almost too long for some of her 6 month clothes already. I see pictures of her first few days in this world and can't believe she was that tiny. And that I have (somewhat) successfully raised a person for five months. The best thing about the past month has been Addie's sweet little laugh. The worst thing has been the return of our nemesis colic. Have I mentioned that I hate colic?? During the holiday season, we had so much fun sharing her with our family and friends. We love watching other people delight in her. Her little sense of humor is starting to develop and she loves interacting with us.  My favorite part of the day is when I hear her wake up in the morning and then go into her room to see her huge, happy grin, like I'm just the person she was hoping would come get her up. Well, I also really like snuggling with her before bed at night, too. And when I pick her up from my parents' house and she smiles when I walk in like, "hey, that's my mom and I really like her."

Weight: a little over 13 pounds
Length: around 24 inches
New things this month:
  • Laughing!! My favorite sound in all the world. Blowing raspberries on her neck or tummy are the surest way to hear that sweet sound.
  • Grabbing her feet. Now I totally get where the happy baby yoga pose comes from. She does it daily. I'm pretty sure those feet are going to be in her mouth any day now.
  • Rolling onto her side and from tummy to back constantly. If that little shoulder didn't get in the way every time, she'd be rolling from back to tummy, too.
  • Sleeping on her side. Like I said, she likes to roll.
  • An obsession with Mia and Izzy. She loves them and loves to pull their fur, their ears, whatever they will let her grab.
  • Grabbing our faces constantly, especially our lips. And then cramming her hand in our mouths. Or her fingers up our noses. Apparently we are fascinating.
  • Eating cereal, which she really likes, and sitting in her high chair. We've had some trouble with this one, though. Switched from rice to oatmeal and hoping that will help her little tummy feel better. Making the move to veggies soon.
  • She loves to "stand," with help obviously. She prefers a standing position to sitting or lying down. I think she'll be running soon :)
  • Blowing bubbles and spitting. She loves to imitate us or, even better, for us to imitate her. I think she spit fairly constantly the entire time we were in Target on Sunday.
  • Her number one like is still her hands. They are in her mouth constantly. And she likes to use them to grab anything she can get and put that in her mouth, too.
  • She definitely has eyes for her mom and dad. When someone else is holding her, she looks around until she finds us.
  • Watching us eat. She follows each bite from our plates to our mouths.
  • Her stationary jumper. Her feet don't exactly touch the ground yet, but she loves the music it makes and all the toys she can conveniently get in her mouth.
  • Still loves to be read to, especially each night before bed.
  • Her new ladybug nightlight, which projects stars and the moon onto the ceiling. As soon as we turn out the light each night before bed, she immediately looks up to the ceiling for the stars.
  • Crazy kid still loves my singing.
  • I think she likes bathtime more and more every day. She likes it so much she didn't even protest at all during her baptism when the water was placed on her head.
  • One guess. Yep, napping it is. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hello 2012!

I'm a few days behind, but I wanted to welcome the new year! 2011 was by far the best and most challenging year of my life. In January, Jordan and I saw our precious baby on a ultrasound and heard her heartbeat for the first time. In March, I felt her kick for the first time and we learned that she was a she! In April, we had the awesome opportunity to go to Cancun, thanks to Jordan being one of the top 10 salesmen in his company. All-inclusive resort + pregnant girl = happiness. God bless the sweet lady at the made-to-order crepes station. We got to be good friends.

May brought summertime and my pretty much constant need to be in my parents' swimming pool. June and July were months of awesome showers for our baby girl and hanging out with friends and family. In late July, we learned when Addie would be born, and on Aug. 8 she arrived! I have said many times that the hardest part about giving birth was the waiting (I did have an epidural, mind you.) Then those crazy people at the hospital just let us bring her home, like we knew what we were doing! We are forever grateful for all our friends and family who brought food for the next month or two.

In September, we celebrated Jordan's birthday and six years of marriage. That's also when Addie started smiling. October marked Addie's first Halloween (in her precious pumpkin costume, courtesy of my mom who made it for me 28 years earlier). November was my return to work and very difficult decision to leave the job I had loved for five years. Addie made the exciting discovery of her hands. Addie's first Thanksgiving was quickly followed by my birthday (the best one yet!) and her introduction to the beloved Christmas tree. I also started my awesome new job. And Addie started eating cereal. We wrapped up the year with Addie's first laugh and first Christmas with all our family and then slowed things down with a quiet NYE and day at home. So, basically, my entire 2011 was about carrying or caring for this new little person who now owns my heart.

I don't really believe in resolutions, but my hope for 2012 is that I take time every day to thank God for the amazing life and family He has given me. Being a mom isn't easy. Balancing a marriage, part-time job, house, extended family, friends and a baby is challenging on a daily basis. There are times that I get wrapped up in the little difficulties instead of counting my blessings. I hope to continue to grow into this new person I've become - one who slows down to enjoy all of life's little moments.

The elusive schedule

I am obsessed with schedules. Perhaps it's because I don't have one. I had this sunshine-y idea that I would have a baby and she would magically nap and eat at the same time every day. If you have a baby like that, please don't tell me about it. So then I had a baby and realized that whole schedule idea was out of the question. But I kept hoping ... maybe at three months ... maybe at five. OK, so maybe never.

I love to look at sample baby feeding and sleeping schedules online. These people have babies who take regular hour or even two hours naps. Multiple times. Every. Day. They eat every three to four hours like clockwork. Who are these perfect babies???

Today, for example, my sweet girl took an hour an a half nap (completely out of character, by the way. I had to keep checking on her to make sure she was breathing), then two 30 minute naps and then refused her last nap even though she was clearly exhausted (also completely out of character - that has never happened). She really prefers to eat every two hours. A couple times today she stretched to two and a half hours and once even to three. And this is not for lack of trying to get her to consider a schedule. We've tried lots of methods to stretch her naps. And I realized that when my baby's hungry, she's going to eat. Period.

So what's the moral of this story, other than my awe at people whose babies conform to a schedule? I totally thought I would be that parent that created a schedule and got my baby to stick to it. After all, I am the adult in this scenario, right? I also thought I'd be the parent who was completely ready for the cry-it-out sleeping method. I'm tough. Yeah, right.

As I've mentioned before, Addie has introduced me to an entirely new version of myself. One that, most of the time, I like better. Who knew I'd be totally for a baby-is-the-boss situation? Especially since I really like to be the boss. I'm all for a baby-led routine (and yes, I've selected that word over schedule. Makes me feel better.) For the most part, she eats when she's hungry and sleeps when she's tired. And it works for us. As for that whole cry-it-out situation, we haven't tried it in earnest ... and I don't know that we should. Jordan and I are both just fine with her whimpering or crying in her crib for a bit, but upwards of about five minutes of real crying and one or both of us goes a little Modern Family (Have you seen the episode where Mitchell is trying to "ferberize" Lily to get her to soothe herself back to sleep? Cam keeps sneaking in to soothe her and at one point Cam can't stand it, they have a footrace to her room and Mitchell's ankle gets broken. I would totally break someone's ankle to get to my baby when she is crying.)

I know God gave me an anti-schedule baby for a reason. And I'm so thankful that Addie has helped me to be more flexible and go-with-the-flow. A lesson that I seriously needed, by the way. (Although I really want to call those people with the perfect babies and rub in their faces that my baby started sleeping through the night a good two months ago. Their schedules say their babies still wake in the night to eat. Apparently I need some new lessons.) Who needs schedules anyway?