Sunday, November 28, 2010

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This Week in Mommyhood

This week was all about being thankful. I am so thankful to have everything I do. I have a beautiful and healthy daughter, a loving husband, a sweet dog, and the support and encouragement from a great group of friends and family. I am truly blessed.
It continually amazes me how much can change in a year. Last year, I was pregnant, and this year I have a 9.5 month old daughter. My whole world has been turned upside down and reconstructed in the last year. I can't believe I actually have a child and that said child will call me mama one day. It's so weird to think I am somebody's mother. Wow.
Cati fully enjoyed Thanksgiving. She got to spend a lot of time with everyone in the family, especially Alex. She sat with us at the table and munched on crackers and turkey. Did you catch that last part? She ate turkey! She is such an interesting child. She doesn't like the baby food turkey I made her but she loved the turkey pieces I gave her at the table. I think it has something to do with the grainy consistency of the baby food turkey.
The latest thing with Cati has been her licking her lips and her Popeye face. I don't know where she picks up on these things but they are hilarious. I can stop myself from laughing every time she does one of these things and because I laugh she keeps on doing them (talk about a perfect example of positive reinforcement).
Cati has also become a serious cruiser. She loves to do it and loves to cruise down the sofa, around my legs, on the media center; basically anywhere! It's all a fun  game to Cati. This makes complete sense considering how much better she's getting at standing unassisted, but it still shocks me to see how strong my baby is. There are instances when she's standing that you can see she wants to take a step but it's like there's cement on the bottom of her feet gluing her to the ground then her knees break and she falls into a crawl.
The only other thing to happen this week is that I haven't pumped. Not once, but I already told you all about that. For some reason, I don't think Cati's going to miss the fresh milk much.
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Styling C: 11.25.10 to 11.28.10

Thursday, 11.25.10
The Look: Thanksgiving Celebration
The Outfit: Zipper headband, Carter's gray polka dot dress

Friday, 11.26.10
The Look: Ode to Dorothy
The Outfit: Crazy8 blue gingham top, Gap jeans, Old Navy blue shoes

Saturday, 11.27.10
The Look: Floral Pretty
The Outfit: Carter's green floral dress

Sunday, 11.28.10
The Look: Miami Casual
The Outfit: Target white bow, Old Navy blue embroidered top, 
Crazy8 white shorts
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Giveaway Winner

Wow. I am so sorry. I thought I had announced the winner, but nope. I hadn't even chosen a winner! This is the original post from November 4th (yikes!!). Hopefully the winner still wants the book:

I was going to use to pick the winner but I wanted to get Cati involved in the fun. I numbered her toys, laid them all out in front of her, and the winner was the first toy Cati put in her mouth.
She picked up a bunch of the toys but only one went in her mouth. Congratulations #3, MrsA.Woods!
Screen shot 2010-11-28 at 3.06.32 PM
I sent Ashley an email, please let me know if you got it!
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Beer Beef Stew

Beer Beef Stew
I made this soup a few weeks ago and, wow, was it delicious. I could seriously eat any vegetable as long as it is in this soup. I used Sierra Nevada for the soup and the soup really took on the flavor of the beer so I recommend using a beer you like.
Beer Beef Stew

Beef Beef Stew

1 lb beef loin cut into chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups water
12 oz pale ale
2 beef bullion cubes
1 cup chopped potato (about 1 large potato)
1 cup chopped carrots (about 3 large carrots)
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cold water
Saltine crackers (optional)

Season the beef with salt and pepper.

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add beef and brown. Add water, beer, and bullion cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, while you chop the vegetables.

Add the vegetables and continue to simmer, covered, until vegetables are soft, about 20 min.

In a small bowl combine the corn starch and water. Add to stew and continue to cook until the broth thickens, about 5 min.

Serve warm.

Friday, November 26, 2010

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It's Not You Medela, It's Me

We are through. We are done. We are over and there's no turning back. Our days have always been numbered and your number was finally called. I would say I'm sorry to see things end but that wouldn't be completely true. I'm happy things between us are over. The only thing I'm sorry about is how us being over affects Cati, if it affects her at all.

I stopped pumping. The last day I pumped was Saturday, November 20, 2010. I had been pumping very little in the days leading up to the last pump; not even enough for a fifth of one of Cati's bottles. What she was getting from me was so little that quitting the pump didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. What also helped if the fact that she started sleeping through the night when her bottles went from mostly-fresh to mostly-frozen milk.

My pumping journey was a long, painful, and hard one. Most days I feel like I got thrown into it and some days I feel like I should have tried harder to get the nursing relationship going. My hope is that knowing what I know now will help me avoid getting into a pumping routine next time around. I don't want to pump with the next child. For some, pumping is convenient and easy. For me, it was double the work and triple the pain. While Alex was very supportive of my choice to pump, because of the demands of his residency he couldn't support me in the ways that made pumping easy. I still cringe at the thought of those first few months of pumping every three hours, dealing with an oversupply, clogged ducts, and three bouts of mastitis. I cringe at the thought of having to worry about getting home in time to pump, taking my Medela PISA with me, and having Cati cry out of anger and hunger because I was hooked up to the pump. I cringe at the thought of feeling like a cow and feeling like the most unattractive person on the planet.

My goal was to make it to nine months. There were time when it didn't seem feasible. I would cry and beat myself up. I already felt like a failure because I couldn't nurse; I didn't want to feel like a failure at this either. So I pushed myself and I kept pumping away. The farther I was from nine months the more eager I was about quitting, but the closer I got to nine months the more apprehensive I became. Talk about irony. Pumping eight times a day was hard; pumping two times a day was easy. Once I got down to one pump I really started questioning my choice to stop at nine months. One pumping session was so easy and convenient. Mentally, I wanted to go on. Physically, my body wanted otherwise as my supply kept decreasing.

I wanted to make it to nine months because in the beginning of this journey I came across this one mother who pumped for nine months but built a stash to get to 12 months. I wanted that for myself. For Cati. Breastfeeding wasn't too important to me before Cati was born but after she was born it became extremely important and I wanted to feed her with my milk up until she was a year old. So while my oversupply caused a lot of painful issues, it did enable me to store enough milk to (hopefully) keep Cati on it until she's a year old. I guess you can say all the pain and stress was worth it.

When I stopped I hadn't planned to stop. I still had a couple of weeks on my slow-weaning schedule. On Saturday, I pumped without knowing it was my last session. It was on Sunday when I made the decision to not pump. I didn't want to be hooked up to the pump for 15 minutes for drops of milk. Pumping is uncomfortable but worth it if you are getting what you feel is a good amount. Otherwise, it feels like such a hassle. I think this is the main reason why I have been handling the end of my pumping days so well. I didn't spend my last session thinking about that session being the last one; my mind was clear and focused on the session as it normally was. I didn't mourn the session or add any sentimentality to it. I just pumped and when I finished I continued my routine.

I was afraid of what stopping cold turkey like that would do but so far my body has adjusted well. I can feel that my boobs have milk but I'm hoping that milk will just get reabsorbed or whatever it is that happens to milk at this point. I am enjoying reclaiming my body and not pumping. I'm starting to like my body again, although I do wonder how not pumping anymore will affect me. I think it will take some time to feel comfortable in my skin again because I need to get to know this new body. For the past 18 months my body has lived to grow and sustain Cati's life. Now it's time to embrace the shift from functional back to aesthetic. I look forward to starting this journey and becoming comfortable with feeling fun and sexy again.

So thank you. Thank you boobs for having the supply. Thank you Medela PISA for being an amazing pump. Thank you Cati for liking and eating both frozen and fresh milk. Thank you Alex for supporting me and trying to make me feel beautiful even when I felt the ugliest. Thank you to the friends and family members who encouraged me along the way. Thank you to the lactation consultant who said I would dry up soon if I didn't get Cati on the breast and to the not-so-nice mother who said my baby would not bond with me because she was getting a bottle; comments like that pushed me to prove them wrong. Cati has grown beautifully, is bonded to me in the most breathtaking way, and I didn't dry up before meeting my goal.

I still have issues and am still processing how and why I got into pumping. My only hope is that now I will be able to be more rational when I look back on my pumping experience. My greatest gift to Cati has been to be the best mother I can be to her. For the past nine months being that mother was linked to pumping. Now a certain weight has been lifted and I feel free.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

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Happy Turkey Day

Last year:
Mommy's Lil' Turkey

This year:

Needless to say, I am very thankful. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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Styling C: 11.22.10 to 11.24.10

Monday, 11.22.10
The Look: Safari Baby
The Outfit: Wonderkids brown giraffe top and giraffe print skirt

Tuesday, 11.23.10
The Look: Everyday Comfort
The Outfit: Junk Food for Gap purple Belle top, Crazy8 light blue jeans

Wednesday, 11.24.10
The Look: Baby Fresh
The Outfit: Gymboree pink "pucker up" shirt and white polka dot pants

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Music to My Ears

Cati babbles a lot. The girl even growls and croaks. I love the sound of her little voice. While she'll say things like dada I don't consider anything she has said her first spoken word. Is a word really a word if you don't know the meaning of it?

Right now she's just testing out syllables but some days I wonder if she does know what she's saying. She knows how to saw mama and maaam and in the mornings when she's in her crib and she's ready to get out the mama's and maaam's increase. Sometimes when she's playing she says mama and then looks at me. But is she calling out for me or is mama just the syllable du jour? I try to get her to say mama but she just stares at me like she's waiting for me to do the next trick. Regardless, I love the way mama sounds coming out of her sweet mouth and I can't wait until she says it with conviction and the knowledge that when she says mama my heart will leap and reach out for her.
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Kind of Hard to Hate the Mistress...

...When she gives you a turkey for Thanksgiving. I hate the hospital Alex works at. I hate the hours, the strain, and stress that gets put on Alex. I call his hospital his mistress because he spends more time at the hospital than he does at home. I'm about two seconds away from grabbing Alex's phone and throwing it down the stairs just to avoid more late night calls from the hospital or residents. This week, the mistress tried to redeem herself by giving away turkeys to all hospital employees. Now, I'm not doing Thanksgiving this year but you can't hate on an institution that wants to be a part of my favorite holiday.
Now what am I supposed to do with the turkey? Save it for Christmas? Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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Obsession of the Week

Cati's birthday is in 82 days, which means her party is in 80 days. The party will have ballerinas because tutus have been such a defining thing of Cati's first year. I want to display all the monthly tutu pictures I've taken of her; that's my special way of honoring the journey Cati has made from infant to toddler. At first I wanted to do an afternoon party but after much consideration it's going to be more of a mid-morning party. You see, Cati's party is going to be done on Alex's birthday and I don't want the whole day spent celebrating her. Although Alex doesn't mind, I do. Birthdays are important to me and I want to make sure he gets his own little celebration. Plus, it's cheaper for us to do a party earlier in the day than later and Cati is in her best mood between 11am and 3:30pm (meaning: she's awake and all smiles during that time).

With all that said, the theme for Cati's party is Tutus and Tea and the colors are pink, brown/cream, and teal. I'm so excited that I've started working on small projects. I've made my list of things to do and buy and I even drew out sketches of how I want certain things to look. Alex laughs at my "famous sketches" as he calls them, but I'm a visual person and it helps me to get all my ideas down on paper. Everything looks really cute! My plan is to work on small things now so that everything will be done come February and I can spend the week of her birthday in the kitchen baking for the party. I'll give you more details as the party gets closer but for now I leave you with a picture of my first party project:
Pom Poms
For instructions on how to make the pom poms go here.
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TWD: {Rewind} Almost-Fudge Gateau

Chocolate Torte
Thanksgiving week and today's TWD is a rewind. Meaning I get to pick whatever dessert I want. It doesn't get any better than that. I decided to go with a dessert that was made before I joined TWD, the Almost-Fudge Gateau. If you want something really chocolaty and extremely fudgy then this is the way to go.
Chocolate Torte
Nikki of Crazy Delicious selected this recipe so you can go to her blog for the recipe. Don't forget to head over to the TWD site to see what everyone else chose to make this week.

Monday, November 22, 2010

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Where's the Baby?

Seems my baby is too smart for me and I lost her at some point today. Luckily, I found her but this isn't a good sign if she's learning how to be sneaking at nine months old. If this is what she does now, I don't even want to know what she's going to try to get away with in 15 years.
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Seasons 52: Pumpkin Pie Mini Indulgence

Mini Pumpkin Indulgence
Day two of Seasons 52 recipes. I made this Pumpkin Pie Mini Indulgence over the weekend and it was delicious. I did, however, cheat a little. I have this thing about not liking to separate eggs and having to store the unused parts so instead of a baked mousse as the recipe calls for, I made my own mousse. I used (almost) the same measurements for the pumpkin, maple syrup, and spices and that was my pumpkin base. Then I took 1/2 cup of heavy cream and beat it with a tablespoon of brown sugar until it held stiff peaks and that was my whipped cream base. I folded the pumpkin into the whipped cream and voila! instant pumpkin mousse. The dessert was delicious, light, and full of spicy flavor. I really think I would have been just as happy smelling the dessert as I was eating it.
Mini Pumpkin Indulgence

Pumpkin Pie Mini Indulgence
Seasons 52 recipe
Served 6-8

For the Pumpkin Mousse

1½ cups pumpkin puree (see below)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger powder
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 oz egg white, pasteurized liquid
½ cup milk
¼ cup cream
1 box of ginger snap cookies

Preheat oven to 325°F

To make mousse filling, combine all the ingredients except the egg whites in a large bowl, and mix them well to incorporate.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into the filling mixture. Pour into a greased glass baking dish and bake until a toothpick inserted halfway between the center and edge of the pie comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Put cooled pumpkin pie mousse filling into a bowl and stir until smooth. Add filling to pastry bag and set aside.

Grind ginger snaps in a food processor to a granular consistency. (Save a few whole cookies for decorations.)

Take your favorite shot glass (cordial glass or miniature glass serving vessel) and add some ginger snap crumbs to the bottom.

Grab the pastry bag and pipe some mousse filling over the ginger snap crumbs. Add more ginger snap crumbs on top of the filling to make a second layer. Garnish with whipped cream and a whole ginger snap cookie.

Pumpkin Puree

Cut a small pumpkin (3 lbs) in two pieces and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place cut side down on a greased baking tray and bake at 325°F for one hour until tender (cooking time depends on pumpkin size). Let cool. Scrape out the pulp and place in a food processor. Puree until smooth.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

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Seasons 52: Red Pepper Pistachio Dip

Pistachio Dip
Here's the first of the Seasons 52 recipes. This is the first recipe I tried and I kind of, sort of messed it up. How? I added more pistachios by mistake (note to self: get measuring cups with numbers on them because all the numbers on your current set have rubbed off) and, as a result, the dip came out more a little too thick. It was like a crunchy hummus and not a smooth cream like it looks in the Seasons 52 picture. Regardless of how it looked, the dip was delicious. This dip, however, is for the spicy lover. Between the roasted red pepper and the Tabasco sauce, your mouth will be burning. We ate the dip with those lime-flavored Tostitos chips and the lime flavor helped tone down the spiciness.
 Pistachio Dip

Red Pepper Pistachio Dip
Seasons 52

¼ cup Pistachios, shelled and toasted (3 oz)
¾ cup Red peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped (2 oz)
2 tbs Bread crumbs
1 oz Lemon or lime juice
1 tbs Honey
1 tbs Chipotle Tabasco
½ tsp Cumin, toasted (I omitted)
½ tsp Kosher salt
Sprinkle of chopped pistachios

Toast pistachios in 350ยบ oven for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Pulse pistachios in food processor for 30 seconds to chop nuts.

Reserve a tablespoon for garnish.

Add all other ingredients to bowl of food processor.

Blend in food processor for 1 minute until smooth. Refrigerate for a few hours.

Garnish with reserved chopped pistachios.

Serve chilled in small bowl with veggies or chips.

To roast peppers:
Lightly rub a few red peppers with oil. Broil or grill red peppers to char the skin. Place in a plastic Ziploc bag or covered container 30 minutes. Remove peels and seeds. (Note: I just realized another OOPS! I didn't read the "remove peels" part and didn't do that).
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Styling C: 11.18.10 to 11.21.10

Thursday, 11.18.10
The Look: Casual in Jeans
The Outfit: White zipper flower headband, Ten lilac shirt, Gap jeans, 
My baby sneakers

Friday, 11.19.10
The Look: Crawling Comfort
The Outfit: <3 red "love" onesie, Gap navy leggings

Saturday, 11.20.10
The Look: Daddy's Girl
The Outfit: Gymboree white "daddy's girl" top and blue plaid shorts

Sunday, 11.21.10
The Look: Sunday Best
The Outfit: Target pink bow, First Impressions green dress