Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Happy Hump Day

This is what I get to enjoy every single day. Hopefully your day is as beautiful and relaxing :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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Just a Reminder...

I do bake! I know posting has been a little light around here but life with baby is everything but routine. Just when I get comfortable with a certain routine, Catarina switches things up. She loves to be with mama and loves to be awake. I've never seen a more alert baby in my life!

Anyway, this post is not about the baby, it's about carrot cake. Dorie's carrot cake to be exact. TWD made this a while ago (recipe here) and I made them again recently in cupcake form. The cake is delicious and just the right thing to satisfy that carrot cake craving. So make this cake!
PS seeing as how baking is not happening as often around here, what else would you like to see on the blog? I want to post more but I don't know what you readers would find interesting.

PSS special thanks to Laurie of TWD and Katie of The Cake Slice for being so patient and understanding. I hope to get back into group baking form as soon as the little one decides she'd like to let mama back in the kitchen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

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Confessions of a New Mom

I apologize in advance to those of you who come here looking for food. I also apologize for this blog taking a turn into mommy blogging land. I still haven't gotten back into my kitchen routine. If I bake once a week or if I cook more than 3 times a week I consider it a good week. Just when I think I'll be able to get back into the kitchen something happens to deflate those plans. It is extremely difficult to set up a solid routine when you have a baby, especially one that decides she only likes to sleep in hour-long increments during the day. So this post is about my experience with parenthood. The past 5 weeks with Catarina have been incredible and hard and I thought I'd share with you my reasons for why parenting is so hard in the beginning.

Note: this is based solely on my experience and some of the things I've listed might have been a none issue for others. Also, this is coming from my experience as Catarina's mother. Everyone's parenting experience will be different based on their child.

Reasons Why Parenthood is Hard During the First Month

1. You have to get used to not sleeping at night. Your sleeping occurs in naps from now on.

2. You have to get used to having this little person be completely dependent on you. Marriage is not the ball and chain, a child is (I don't mean this in a bad way). Your life is forever changed and you will be eternally connected to your child. You may spend a few hours away from your child, but you will never have a true break from them.

3. Your child is selfish. It's a lot of you giving and giving. What you get in return from your child is very little. You are responding to their cues and they don't care if you want to shower or eat. They just aren't considerate like that. It's not like the baby says thank you after every meal. It's your powerful and consuming love for the baby that helps you get through the day. Sure, the baby does cute things that make it all worth it (it's your reward for your hard work but you cant predict when you'll get it). It isn't until the baby starts interacting with you that you feel like your relationship with the baby isn't so one-sided. When Cati calms down at the sound of my voice I feel like a million bucks. She may not know I am her mother yet but she knows I am someone really important and someone she finds comfort in. That's her way of giving back to me for all that she receives from me.

4. Dads are great but they don't do as much as you do. You will be doing the majority of the work. That's just the way it is. Dads are there for support and to help you rationalize things (see #5), but you become a mother long before he becomes a father. It's not their fault, we carry the baby for 9 months and feel connected to the baby before they do.

5. The emotional investment is bigger than anything else you have been emotionally invested in and you are way more invested in the child in the beginning than the father is. Because this investment is so huge you worry about everything and you take everything personally. Baby doesn't latch? It's your fault. Baby isn't gaining weight? It's your fault. Baby isn't developing well? It's your fault. Everything feels like it's your fault even when it's not. With Cati's issues in the beginning I blamed myself and felt like a horrible mother. This was an isolating feeling because Alex didn't blame himself and he didn't feel like a failure as a father. But because he didn't feel the way I did he helped me step outside of my emotions so that I could see things more clearly.

6. Your reality is way different from your expectations. Sometimes it's hard to reconcile the two.

7. You are terrified of screwing up and being a horrible parent.

8. You realize the permanence of your decision to have a child. Once the baby is born there is no turning back. You will forever be that child's parent. You can't return the baby or wish it back in your belly. You have to leave the hospital and you have to take the baby with you. You have to adjust to the fact that everything in your life is different now that you have a child.

9. You don't know how to read the baby in the beginning. If you get frustrated when your dog gets sick and it can't communicate what's wrong, prepare to be completely overwhelmed when your child cries and you can't figure out why. You'll figure things out but those first few days of dealing with a crying baby and not knowing how to console him or her are heartbreaking.

10. The learning curve is huge. Just as the baby has to get to know you, you have to get to know the baby. What works one day may not work the next. They key is to try to ignore the comments/suggestions/advice of others and do what works for you and what your instinct tells you to do.

11. And lastly, and most importantly, no one tells you how hard it will be and how normal it is for things to feel hard. If someone is honest with you about their experience, latch onto them and go to them whenever you need someone to talk to. I feel good about parenting and caring for Cati NOW. A month ago I felt overwhelmed and like I wouldn't make it through another day. If it wasn't for my friends I don't know how I would have dealt with how I felt. I'd imagine I would have felt very isolated and alone in my feelings when the reality is that what I felt was completely normal. I really am amazed at how people either don't talk about the first few weeks with the baby or how pretty of a picture they paint.
I would love to hear about your experiences with parenthood and what things top your list for why parenthood is so hard in the beginning.

PS a huge thank you goes out to Ale, Jen, Lauren, and Mon. You guys have been a great source of comfort and support and if it weren't for all your reassurances the past 5 weeks I don't know what I would have done. Thanks for reading my novel-sized emails and for inspiring me to come up with this list in the first place.

Monday, March 15, 2010

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Quick Rice Krispy Cookies

The baking rule around here now is that I can only bake things that are quick to put together. Or at least that's the rule around here if I want to bake. This rule came into being because Catarina does not like to sleep for long stretches during the day. If I'm lucky she'll sleep a full hour before waking up to feed or just hang out. These rice krispy cookies were easy to put together and because they were so easy I decided to throw some marshmallows into the mix. The rice krispy gives the cookie a good crunch while the marshmallow gives the cookie a stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth-chewy goodness.

Rice Krispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Ice Cream Before Dinner (here) adapted from Imperial Sugar and Cookie Madness
makes about 24 cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 heaping cup Rice Krispies cereal

Preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the vanilla and egg, mixing just until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to mix. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and stir until almost blended. Add the chips and cereal and stir until mixed.

Drop by tablespoons, spacing 2 ½ inches apart, onto cookies sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown around edges.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

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One Month

My little love baby turns one month old today. I can't believe I have been a mom for a month now. I can't believe I was pregnant a month ago. Time has flown, which seems ironic considering how slowly time seems to move when you have a newborn. You live life in 3 hour spurts or in whatever spurts of time you have between feedings. I feel things started off rough with us and it took me some time to adjust. I loved my daughter from the moment she was born but the sense of overwhelming responsibility definitely caused anxiety. How am I supposed to care for her? How am I supposed to help her become a good person? How am I supposed to provide for her? How am I supposed to mother her? Can I even be a good mother?
I also had to adjust to having this little human being be completely and utterly dependent on me. I've never had anyone need me as much as she does and that took some time to get used to. I care for her 24 hours a day. This is the hardest work I have ever done in my life. The first year of law school was a piece of cake compared to this. I am fortunate enough that I get to stay home with her but this doesn't mean I spend my days lounging around. I am constantly doing something for her or thinking about her. There is no true break from her.
Being Catarina's mother for the past month has been the hardest and most rewarding thing. I've learned to love in a whole new way. My life has been enriched. I love that each day is a new opportunity for us to get to know one another. I love the bittersweet feeling of seeing my newborn grow and change into a baby. I love how her features have become more defined and she looks less and less like the child she was on February 14th. I love how she becomes fixated on my face when I feed her; her stare reassures me that each day she understands more and more that I am her mother. In short, I love everything about being her mother.
My love for Alex has also grown in immeasurable ways. His support and praise have been the biggest ego boosters when I felt my weakest. He has made me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. His love for our daughter has confirmed what I have always known: he was born to be a great father and I chose the right man to share my life with.It took me a few weeks but I finally feel competent and confident in myself. I finally feel like I am becoming a mother and I finally feel prepared to tackle everything parenthood has in store.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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Hooray to Baking!

I somehow managed to squeeze in this cake. I was itching to bake something and this cake fit the bill, especially since Nurit said it took her 15 minutes to get this cake together. She didn't lie! The cake was so easy to mix up and the baked cake was beyond delicious. The honey flavor is so subtle and yet it lingers in your mouth long after you've finished eating.

Hopefully this is the beginning of me getting into some kind of baking routine. Let's see how Catarina feels about this ;)
Honey Vanilla Pound Cake
Source: 1 Family. Friendly. Food.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees (180°C.) Grease the bottom of an 8½ x 4½ x 2½ inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, put the eggs, honey, vanilla and lemon zest but do not combine. With the mixer on medium low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time, allowing each egg to become incorporated and scraping the bowl with a spatula before adding the next one.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add it slowly to the batter until just combined.

Finish mixing the batter with a spatula and pour it into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center.

Friday, March 5, 2010

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Each Day Gets Better

Catarina is 3 weeks old and I feel like I am just starting to get into the groove of this whole motherhood thing. Hopefully that means I'll be back to baking soon enough. It's been so hard not baking but when the choice is between sleeping while baby sleeps and baking cookies, sleeping wins out. I hope you are patient with me and don't think I've abandoned you. Hopefully some cute pictures of the little one will hold you off until my next baking post.

She's our tiny dancer :)
I live for pictures like this one.
Look! She's got a poodle on her!
I LOVE every inch of her.
She may look like she's smiling but she's really crying her little heart out.