Thursday, September 29, 2011

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Confessions of a Pregnant Mother

Being pregnant again has made for an interesting experience. There has been so much to process and think about this time around. On top of having the same concerns I had with Cati (what if something is wrong? how will be adapt to life with a baby? etc), I have the new concerns of how will Cati react to having a new person around who will take attention away from her. The mommy guilt has been so bad and I feel selfish for wanting and having another child.

The other big thing I've struggled with is a huge disconnect with this pregnancy. It took me up until a few days ago to really feel connected to this baby and this pregnancy. With Cati I was excited and connected from the beginning. This time around, again, because I am so worried about Cati's reaction and adjustment to a new baby, I have felt distant and less emotionally connected. It's so weird to feel so emotionally detached from something that I can recognize on a rational level as an amazing and incredible blessing. It has been a relief to find out that I am not alone in these feelings, so thank you to those moms with multiple kids or those on their second pregnancies for sharing your experiences with me. It's hard to feel like a bad mom when others know exactly how you feel and give you the words to express how you feel.

And, just for fun, here are some other random thoughts and confessions I scribbled down during the first trimester:
  •  The thing I am most afraid of is the task of juggling it all. I sometimes have trouble juggling my life as it is with one child. How am I going to do that with two children?
  • I lie. The thing I am most afraid of is being in the same emotional state this time around that I was in after Cati was born. This is the main reason that I don't want anymore kids after this pregnancy: I'm afraid of myself and my emotions and I honestly think I can only handle feeling like that one more time. 
  • Cravings have been weird this time around. Not only I am a pizza and Dunkin Donuts everything bagel fiend, I've craved for things like a bed made out of pillows that smells like cotton candy.
  • A beautiful perk of being pregnant: Alex picking up the slack and doing more with Cati. It took me getting pregnant for it to feel like we were more or less equals in the evening parenting routine. Now on the nights when I'm not at school or Alex isn't on call, we switch off giving baths and putting Cati to sleep. It's glorious.
  • The not-happy-about-it-but-oh-so-welcomed morning sickness was a reminder that things were sticking the first time around. This time, morning sickness is truly a nuisance because I just can't keep up with Cati. I hate feeling too sick to play with Cati and I hate that she thinks of the toilet as a fun place to stick your head in and make "poof" noises. Proof:
  • Alex still has no common sense sometimes: I don't think I will ever forget the night when I threw up my entire dinner and then Alex proceeded to initiate a conversation about food. Really?
  • First time around I spent hours daydreaming about the baby, even when I was sick. This time around the only times I really think about the baby are when the morning sickness is at its worst or when I have a doctor's appointment.
  • There should be a way to donate your stomach during the first trimester so you can completely forego the stomach issues.
  • First time around I was so excited to be pregnant. Don't get me wrong, I AM excited to be pregnant, but Cati is my top priority and main brain buster that she takes center stage.  Even when I'm not feeling sick and Cati is down for the night, I still don't think about the baby because my brain is saying "please stop thinking so I can recharge for tomorrow!"
  • Which leads to the sad truth of this pregnancy being more about Cati than the little forming baby. My thoughts run more along the lines of how will Cati react to a new baby? Will she feel unloved? Displaced? Will she resent the baby? How is she going to handle my attention being split? Will she resent me? Even thinking about what the baby will look like is more like how will the baby be different from Cati?
  • My hair doesn't look or feel as glorious as it did last time. And honestly, I haven't been feeling any of the perks that come along with those lovely pregnancy hormones.
  • Comparisons between siblings start early. Everything with this pregnancy is being compared with the last. Morning sickness ended around 13 weeks then, will it be the same now? Will I start showing around the same time? Feel the baby around the same time?
  • My first look at the baby was not filled with my tears. Instead it was filled with Cati's as she screamed to be let out of her stroller. I was in awe but, again, my attention was so focused on keeping Cati calm that I didn't really get to enjoy the moment.
  • The firsts of this pregnancy won't be as exciting as the firsts of the last. Yes, it will be exciting because these are the firsts of a new baby, but (1) these are not new, un-experienced firsts and (2) it goes back to the whole comparison thing.
  • I'm not as anal this time around. With Cati I forced down my vitamins the first trimester. Once the doctor said I could skip the vitamins until I felt better this time around, I did. I didn't even think twice about it.
Now that I'm in my second trimester the defining features seem to be privacy and practicalness. Privacy because I feel like this pregnancy is something only truly meaningful for Alex, Cati and me and, as a result, I haven't shared as much about the pregnancy as I did with Cati's pregnancy. Practical because my focus has been more the needs and don't needs. An example of this is the sex of the baby. I want to find out more for practical reasons (do we need new clothes? can we get away with using all the girl stuff we have? etc...) than for the fun reasons of all the cute sister-sister or sister-brother combinations. I feel like the knowledge of the sex of the baby is something that will only directly effect us, so why share it with everyone else? Apparently, the baby agrees because s/he doesn't want to show the goods!

I really can't begin to explain how different things are this time around. There is joy, excitement, worry, anxiety, anticipation, and lots of love; all the same emotions felt the first time around but felt on a different level with a different dynamic this time around. And again, for the millionth time, a lot of how I feel has to do with Cati and not wanting her to ever feel robbed, betrayed, or left wanting more love. She is the beloved first child, our first blessing, and our introduction to pure, unconditional love. Our second child will be our beloved second child, our second blessing, and our confirmation that pure, unconditional love has no limitations.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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The Cake Slice: Walnut Whiskey Pound Cake

I am a solid week late on posting about this cake which is especially sad because I made this cake a month ago. This month we were allowed to bake whatever cake we wanted from Cake Keeper Cakes because it would be our last month baking from that book. I chose a cake that I knew would be loved and enjoyed in our house: Walnut Whiskey Pound Cake. Sure enough, the cake was a huge hit. This is the type of cake that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and I promise it's not because of the whiskey. All you really get from the whiskey is a nutty flavor but I will admit that you can taste the whiskey the longer the cake sits. Either way, the cake is perfect for drinking with a tall glass of milk or a cup of coffee.
 Whiskey Walnut Pound Cake
For more on The Cake Slice group go here

Walnut Whiskey Pound Cake
Source: Lauren Chattman's Cake Keeper Cakes

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whiskey
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and dust with flour.

Combine the sour cream, whiskey, eggs, and vanilla in a large measuring cup and lightly beat. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer on medium-high until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.

With the mixer on medium-low, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.

Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After last addition, mix for 30 seconds on medium. Stir in nuts.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted int he center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the cake cool completely.

Monday, September 26, 2011

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Gravida 2

I wear many hats. I fill many roles: woman, wife, mother, sister, and friend to name a few. You can now add the following to the list of things I am and do: Gravida 2 or woman pregnant with #2.
18 w blog
It's been such an exciting time and we are so excited about the chaos that awaits us. There is plenty about my experience that I want to share but that will definitely be a long post so I'm saving that for later.

As for how far along I am and the due date, you'll have to forgive me for being a little vague at the moment. The one person capable of causing me the most emotional harm knows about the pregnancy and I don't want her knowing anymore than she already does. How she knows is a mystery but all things point to a big HIPPA violation (that or her evil manipulative, conniving ways).

Either way, Baby D is due to arrive early next year and I'm already sporting a tiny baby bump. As for the sex, I don't know yet! I have an inkling of what's baking, but no confirmation.

So now you know the real reason for the slowness around here. Morning sickness was killer and exhaustion is the name of the game these days. Life's going to get busier in no time and we are so thrilled with the growth of our little family.

I'd also like to give special shout out to Kelly's blog, How Hard Can This Be? for inspiring and leaving me in awe over the past few months. Kelly has always been a beautiful writer, but her writing has been especially emotionally raw since she welcomed her son a few months ago. She makes me look forward to this next chapter in my motherhood and life journey.
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This Week in Mommyhood

The most amazing thing is the fact that I feel like I get less done now that Cati's in school. I actually feel like I got more done and was better able at multitasking when I had her with me all day. Now that she's in school my mornings are spent cleaning and prepping for school. Once she's home it's all about her and it's literally nonstop cuddle and playtime. As a result, I'm having a hard time organizing my time and really being efficient with it. And as a result of that I'm having trouble keeping up with the blog. I have recipes to share, books to write about, and the past two weeks with Cati to report.

Here are the exciting developments of the past two weeks:

B-Word Explosion. Holy cow Cati loves her b words. She's learned to say bib, bath, bed, bow, and bike.

Language Explosion
. In general, vocabulary has been increasing like crazy as of late. Cati will point to her eyes and say "eye," she will say "shhh" for shoe, "night night" when she's ready to go to bed, she says "ai esta" at specific objects when you ask where they are, "nana" for banana, "mas" when she wants more of something, "up" when she wants to be carried, and she's learned the name of two new people, Emma from school and Abu for her Abuela (Alex's mom).

Bye Bye Baby. Alex and I took our first trip out of town without Cati this past week. As usual, the anticipation caused all the anxiety but once we were gone we felt fine. Both of us missed Cati like crazy but the pain of separation was lessened because (a) we really needed the time as a couple and (b) Cati was left in the excellent hands of her Abuelos. It was wonderful to be back in Boston (I can't believe how much I miss the city!) and to have a break from all the parenting chores. And still, it felt great to be back home and to hear my baby cry out for her mama.
I think that just about sums up the last two weeks. Those are the big developments and in between all that there have been plenty of hugs and kisses. I am madly in love with my little girl. I can't even begin to express how delicious she is at this age.

Friday, September 23, 2011

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52 {Books} in 52: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

First of all, it's been a long time since I've even posted. Secondly, it's been even longer since I've posted about a book I've read. Including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré I've read seven books since writing about Tuck Everlasting a month ago so to say I'm behind is an understatement. Life happens and time gets lost.

Anyway, I have been wanting to read a John Le Carré book for the longest time. After breezing through all of Ian Fleming's Bond books, I wanted a new spy novel to latch onto and I read that Le Carré was supposed to be an exquisite writer of the genre. I even own Perfect Spy but have not been able to make it through a third of the book because I couldn't keep up with everything that was going on. The same thing almost happened with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I think it took me until halfway through the book to get really into it, but once I was hooked I could not put the book down. It's not that the book is slow, it's that the book is very cerebral and not flashy with action sequences like Fleming's books. The pace is steady and centers around the discovery of a Russian mole within Britain's intelligence.

Brought in to investigate is former British intelligence George Smiley. As is stated on the jacket of the book, he is in a "chess match of wills and wits" with his Soviet counterpart, the illusive Karla. First shunned from the service because they thought he was involved in a botched mission, he is brought back to piece together the puzzle so you see his progression from disgraced to redeemed and maybe even revered. Smiley is a man, who both professionally and personally, has a history with Karla and it's brilliant to see how that relationship is played out and how Karla set things into motion.

Throughout the book you have an inkling of who the mole might be and in the end you are left wondering whether the mole got what he deserved. The book is so intelligently written; it's intricate and layered and a complete mind game. You feel your nerves vibrating with tension and excitement. In the end, I was left thinking about the bliss that is found in ignorance. I can't imagine being a spy and being aware of every single detail and having the mentality that coincidences don't exist.

Here's what I've read for my 52 {Books} in 52 challenge:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
5. Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman
6. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
7. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
8.  Misery Loves Cabernet by Kim Gruenenfelder
9.  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
10. Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
11. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
12. Best Day of Someone Else's Life by Kerry Reichs
13. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
14. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson
15. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
16. The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
17. Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson
18. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
19.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
20.  Bossypants by Tina Fey
21. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
22. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
23. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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This Week in Mommyhood

What a week it has been in mommyhood! So much has happened over the last week that I can barely wrap my head around it. Cati started school last week and has been doing wonderfully. The first couple of days were tough and she cried on and off while she was there but her crying stopped as soon as they did an activity. I cried the first day (Tuesday) because it was hard leaving her and I spent the entire morning looking at the clock wishing it to fast-forward so I could go pick her up. The following day (Wednesday) Cati kept asking for her "wau wau" (lovey bunny) so I made sure to take her bunny to pick her up every day after that. That day when we got home and I gave her the bunny she showered it with kisses. She was that happy to see it!

My favorite part of the school Cati's in is the fact that the kids are always immediately consoled. As soon as they start crying there is someone on hand to pick them up and this is a huge relief considering my biggest concern was Cati getting the level of attention she is used to with me. She goes Monday-Friday for three hours in the morning and that's enough for me to miss her like crazy. Even though I do get a lot done in those three hours, it's still weird to have time that's wholly to myself. The benefit is that when I am with her after that I am so patient. I delay naps and bedtime because I want to play with her more. She's even more affectionate with me, which I absolutely love. It's definitely a win-win for us both.
I was afraid the weekend would be a setback but we had such a busy weekend that I think neither of us really felt like the weekend was a break. Yesterday morning it was a little harder leaving the house, but the minute I said we were going to see "nenes" Cati perked right away and headed for the door. 

Today was the first day that I dropped her off and she didn't cry. Part of my heart broke to not hear her cry out for me and the other part of my heart overflowed with joy because I made the right choice. At this moment, she is in the right place, she is being nurtured (and she's nurturing others by handing out hugs!), and her innate need to socialize is being nourished. I see now that waiting to put her in school was selfish of me: I can provide for her, I just can't provide everything for her. I thought that she would be too much of a baby for school and that she wouldn't be ready, but the reality is that I wasn't ready to let go. I wanted to hold on to my baby when the reality is that she isn't a baby anymore. More than anything, school has been a blessing because it's given me the opportunity to recharge my mothering batteries. I understood that I needed time for myself but I didn't realize the full extent of how much it would benefit my relationship with Cati and for that one reason I am so happy we bit the bullet and put her in school now. I am in more love and awe of my daughter than ever before. (Note: please don't think I think all kids should be in school. I think every family should do what's best for their family system).

Here are the other fun developments this week:

Funniest Moment. Cati took a nap in the car and was still asleep by the time we got to our friend's house. We stayed in the car while she slept. I was reading a magazine and Alex was reading work stuff on his phone so neither of us noticed when Cati woke up. She let us know she was awake by saying "uh oh." We both giggle every time we think of this.

Babysitter Improvement. Cati likes her babysitter! Woo hoo! She barely cries now when I leave her. It makes going off to school so much easier. Her babysitter is pretty smitten with her too so happiness all around.

You Sit Here. Cati has been very expressive with what she wants me to do. My new favorite thing is when she taps on the floor so that I can sit next to her.

No! Oh dear, baby girl has learned how to say no and she is not afraid of using it. This is yet another instance of trouble with discipline because she sounds so cute saying no that I have trouble trying to get her to not say no.
photo 2
Good Night and Bye Bye. Going to school and spending two nights away from Cati has really helped me to appreciate bedtime routine. I love those quiet moments together, even though they really aren't quiet because she is a gibbering, singing machine. My heart particularly melted one night when she waved and said bye bye to me after I put her in her crib.

Little Singer. Like I said, Cati is a singing machine. I can't get over how much she loves music. I made up an "aye nene" song and she is constantly singing it. She sometimes even sings it to herself before going to sleep. She knows Old MacDonald and will say "i-e-i-e" whenever she wants me to sing it. However, my ultimate favorite is her singing Human League's "Don't You Want Me." I will sing the "don't you want me baby?" part and she will say the "ohh" part and will even throw in a "baby" every now and then. Cati was not in a particularly singing mood as soon as I took out my phone, but she did sing a little:

Changing Sounds. In general, Cati is more tuned into sounds and words. She is especially quick to pick up on expressive words, or words that are said with a lot of emotion and fun intonations. What I find funny is that she has changed how she says "mama." Before the emphasis was equal for each "ma" but now she says it "ma-MA" so she sounds like a fancy little baby.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

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This Week in Mommyhood

It's been such an interesting week around here. We're still getting in the swing of me being back in school and it's an interesting balancing act for us all. Wednesday was an especially hard day. Cati woke up and refused to let go of her lovey and she spent the entire day dragging it around with her. She must have sensed that it was a school day. The babysitter arrived a little early that day and Cati cried the entire time there was overlap between her and me. I tried to hold her before leaving but I just made things worse. She held onto me like her life depended on it and cried like I've never seen her cry before. Once again, I left the house in tears and once again, my tears outlasted hers. Thursday she cried when I left but I didn't cry (score a point for me!) and the biggest surprise of the night was her not wanting to go with Alex when he got home. She was having too much fun with the babysitter and didn't want daddy to say, "time's up kiddo, you need to get to bed!" It made Alex feel like crap but it made me feel good because it means she's bonding just fine with the babysitter. This upcoming week will be full of tears because we'll be adding Cati's school to the mix but I'm hoping we all survive.

Here are the other fun developments this week.

Music Obsessed. Cati has always loved music but her love has become so evident over the last few weeks. She constantly asks for music and she does this by clicking her tongue and moving her fists in the air. She actually started doing this two weeks ago and I forgot to write about it, but it's the funniest and cutest thing she does. Her favorite type of music is 80s pop and, let me tell you, she gets down. I don't know where she gets the moves from and I'm kind of jealous of how good she looks when she dances.

It's a Tooth! Finally! A tooth finally broke through. Cati is such a slow teether and will literally spend weeks with her gums swollen before the tooth finally breaks. It amazes me how long it takes for the tooth to finally come all the way out.

Road Trip Improvement. We took a little trip this weekend to West Palm Beach and Cati did great. She normally starts getting fussy after about 15 minutes in the car but with lots of snacks, toys, an hour nap on the way back, and a great friend keeping her entertained we managed the hour drive to West Palm Beach and the 2.5 hour drive back (so. much. traffic). I was so impressed with Cati and how well she behaved.

Naps, Revised. Kids are always switching things up on us, huh? Cati is at the point where she can and prefers to be up for a really long time before she takes a nap. Whereas, I used to put her down for a nap at 12:30pm (after waking up around 7:30am) she now prefers to nap closer to 2pm. If I try to get her to nap at 12:30pm, she'll toss and turn and cry until I get her out. I don't know how she has all the energy, but it's impressive to think of her being up for that long of a stretch.

This has been a trying week for other reasons so I'm happy to see it done and over with. With so much drama, disappointment, and sadness in the world I am thankful for the pocketful of happiness I have in Cati. I love my little girl so much and I truly hope I can be the mother to her that I felt I never had growing up.

PS sorry there are no pictures this week!