Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love Is In The Air

Turtle in February.

  Turtle turned 2 months old on February 2nd, and that night she slept through the night for the very first time. February 3rd was the best day ever! I was ready to take on the world. Guys, I've got this, I am well-rested hear me roar. It pretty much marked a turning point for me. Even if she didn't sleep through the night every night, she did often enough for my functioning self to return. Ahh it feels good to be back. It is so much easier to tackle Turtle's need to never stop moving during the day when she lets me sleep all night.
Getting her to sleep was another story. She hated bedtime, and had since the beginning. She would get bathed, and read to, and fed, and rocked, and walked, but she would fight sleep and cry until she wore herself out. Sometimes she wouldn't pass out until 11pm, midnight, or 1am. When she got to sleep she had no problems staying asleep, but I think we all dreaded bedtime. I tried all sorts of tweaks, but nothing seemed to help. And, then sometime during the last week in February she started going to bed just fine. We've stuck to that routine since: bath around 6:45, see hubs off to work around 7:10, then have her nighttime feeding until she is full, and rock to sleep.
I'm not sure what is going on with her face in the above picture, but it makes me laugh every time I see it. She kind of reminds me of Smeagol (from The Lord of the Rings...you see it, right?).
I saw Little Baby Garvin's Harper wearing her onesie on top of her bottoms and it pretty much changed my life. For some reason I find this 4000 times cuter than tucked in to the pants.
One of the questions the hubs asked me while I was pregnant was when can we take the baby to the beach. He was so antsy to show her the ocean. I told him she needed to be at least 2 months old, so mid-February we took her for her first beach trip. She got to dip her toes in the wet sand as the water receded and then hung out between daddy's legs with the warm sand between her toes. I think the verdict is still out on whether she liked the experience or not.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Boozy Chocolate Cake Batter Milkshake

Taste: Perfectly decadently cake batter-y!
Amount: 1 milkshake.
Time: 3 minutes.
Source: Inspired by The Novice Chef.

So, I know I said that I was going to make up a batch of cake batter truffles next, but apparently I lied. My apologies. Cake batter milkshakes were second on my list though, I swear!

The hubs went into the liquor store (for a bottle of beer with which to make chili) and came out with two bottles of flavoured vodka. Two bottles of cookie dough flavoured Pinnacle vodka to be precise. When I found out I promptly sent him back to the liquor store to exchange one of those cookie dough vodkas for a cake one. The man's heart is in the right place, but he only half listens. I mentioned a few weeks before the liquor store trip that I wanted to get a bottle of cake vodka, and he came out with cookie dough vodka...close, but no cigar.

I'd gotten a box of vanilla ice cream with the goal of making a milkshake. I had the recipe pinned for a cake batter milkshake. I didn't have yellow cake mix, but I did have milk chocolate cake mix in the pantry. My blender was fully functional. And, then I thought...I could add cake vodka to the blender in place of milk!

I asked the hubs to make me the milkshake while I was putting Turtle to bed. I told him 4 scoops of ice cream, 1/2 cup of cake mix, and vodka in place of milk. He handed it to me and I took a sip...hello, I'm drunk (Sex and The City reference!). Not only was it like half vodka, but it was entirely too rich. It was an intense few sips. I poured it back in the blender and added extra ice cream to dilute it, much more palatable.

The next day, I wanted another stab at it. Again, I asked the hubs to make it for me while I put Turtle to sleep, but this time I said try 4 scoops of ice cream, 1/4 cup cake mix, and 1 shot of vodka plus a little milk if it was too thick. Worlds better. It wasn't like taking sips of creamy vodka, it was a delicious chocolatey cake batter taste with a hint of vodka instead. Mmm. What a pleasant end to the evening. Unfortunately (not really), I didn't get any pictures, so a few days later I made another one (myself this time) in the name of sharing of course. I upped the cake mix to 1/3 cup, and topped it with whipped cream and sprinkles. Viola! Perfection!

Honestly, experimenting with a recipe is one if my favourite things about cooking. You find a good base recipe and then tweak it until you get it just how you want it (like this milkshake). Or, you try completely new recipes until you finally find that one that is absolutely the best (like pizza dough). There is more than one way to catch a rabbit, so to speak. One of my least favourite things is organic chemistry - not that it has much to do with cooking. I don't think anyway, at least not in my kitchen. I was told organic chemistry was the artistic side of chemistry...sure, if you say so.

Anyway, tangent aside, the basic game plan...

Pull out your blender and plop in 4 generous scoops of ice cream.
Boozy Chocolate Cake Batter Milkshake

Dump in 1/3 cup cake mix.
Boozy Chocolate Cake Batter Milkshake

Pour in 1 shot of cake flavoured vodka (Three Olives also has one).
Boozy Chocolate Cake Batter Milkshake

Blend.
Boozy Chocolate Cake Batter Milkshake

Ingredients:
  • 4 large scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1/3 cup cake mix (I used milk chocolate, but the traditional cake batter flavour is yellow or white)
  • 1 shot of cake flavoured vodka (Pinnacle or Three Olives) or a splash of milk for a non-boozy shake
  • whipped cream and/or sprinkles for garnish (optional)
Directions:
In a blender, combine all ingredients except the whipped cream and sprinkles . Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into desired glass, top with whipped cream and sprinkles, and enjoy immediately.

Boozy Chocolate Cake Batter Milkshake

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013


Turtle woke up bright and early for Valentine's Day. I hate mornings, but it allowed me to feed her and then start breakfast before the hubs even got home from work. Turtle was so content hanging out in her Rock N Play in the dining room. She even let everybody eat their breakfast before getting tired of laying on her own.
 
I made a heart shaped breakfast of eggs in toast, bacon, and a mini sausage sandwich for hubs. He brought home a red rose for both Turtle and me. I'm thinking it will be more exciting next year to make a heart shaped breakfast for Turtle as well! I have tentative plans for heart shaped pancakes, and a pink smoothie. How do you like the Thanksgiving turkey placemats that graced the dining room table for a solid third of the year? I could make up an excuse, but really I'm just lazy.


I'm still pondering what other kinds of holiday shenanigans we can get up to to make the day extra special. The holidays this year are semi on the back burner because Turtle is so little, or at least these early ones are, but I'd love to go all out when she is a tad bit older. After breakfast we did little else celebratory except for keeping Turtle in hearts and pink. It was business as usual around these parts, which meant taking a slew of pictures of my favourite little girl and general keeping-her-alive-ness.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Two Months Old

February 2nd
Weight: 9 lbs 10 oz.

Height: 21.5 inches.

Sleep: Has good stretches of 6 or 7 hours at night.

Clothes: Newly into 0-3 month sized clothes, but still fits into a few newborn footed jammies.

Diapers: Size 1 Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive.

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Year, New Baby

Turtle in January through pictures.







Thursday, March 21, 2013

One Month Old

January 2nd
Weight: In the 6-7 lb range.

Height: They didn't measure her height at any of her pediatrician appointments, so around 18 inches I would imagine.

Sleep: She is sleeping in stretches of 3-4 hours at night, and is still in our bedroom in her rock n play. She does, however, dislike bedtime and it tends to take me a while for her to fall asleep for her first evening rest.

Clothes: Newborn.

Diapers: Newborn.




Monday, March 18, 2013

1st & 2nd Month Favourites

These are the items that the hubs and I found especially useful over the course of Turtle's first and second month. It is not an all inclusive list. You would still need basics like diapers and a car seat.
 
FOR BABY: 
1st & 2nd Month Baby Gear Favorites
Burp cloths - I'm usually surrounded by about three birth cloths at any moment of the day. They are beyond necessary for cleaning up spit-up, drool, projectile pee/poo, milk mustache, boogers, saliva from random latch attempts on your collar bone, etc. I've also been known to drape one over her head so I can eat while she eats without dropping crumbs all over her face. We purchased a dozen newborn sized prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers (because they are super duper absorbent), and we were gifted three Gerber brand burp cloths, but the demand can overtake the supply pretty quickly so the more the merrier in this department.

Soothies - For when you just need her to wait another 10 minutes before feeding her...aka please stop screaming. We haven't tried any other brand of pacifier, because I have enough trouble keeping track of the two the hospital sent home with us and I have enough random ass tiny things to wash on a daily/hourly basis.

Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets - One word: breathable. Also known as peace of mind at night when she wiggles and squirms around until the blanket ends up over part of her face, you can have that thing folded in 10 layers and still breathe through it just fine. I use these to swaddle her at night, to tuck around her for a nap or when she is in her car seat, to cover her up when she eats and the fan is on, to drape over various furniture to shade her face from the lights, or even as a burp cloth in a pinch.

Miracle Blanket - The complicated yet easier swaddle. The hubs is partial to this one. There are so many flaps and tucks and pouches that help keep Turtle tightly swaddled. For those times you want a serious swaddle. The Aden + Anais swaddles are much easier to break out of (especially if you suck at step 2 in the swaddle process), but are my swaddle of choice. The miracle blanket is too much like wrapping your baby up in a straight jacket for my taste, but it does do the trick. If I wasn't such a pansy I'd probably prefer these over the A+A swaddles.

Itzbeen - Such a basic device that one might think it is unneeded. But, it is amazing how simple addition becomes physics when you are running on 1.5 hours of sleep and are completely overwhelmed at your new tiny bundle of responsibility. "Wait, has it been 3 hours? When did I pump/feed last? How long has she been sleeping? I swear I looked at the clock, but where were those hands pointing? Crap." Plus there is an alarm, which was worth its weight in diapers the first couple of weeks when the wee little one needed to eat every 3 hours because her weight gain wasn't yet satisfactory. I tried to use my phone at first, you know just set an alarm for every 3 hours starting at 8....except god dammit if something didn't screw up her feeding schedule daily and I was resetting all those alarms multiple times. Now that she can go more than 3 hours it is my favourite thing ever because I'll hear her cry out and I just have to look over at the itzbeen to know if she is just fussing or is actually ready to eat. And, because hubs takes her when he gets home from work in the morning and feeds her a bottle for her next feeding, he doesn't have to wake me up to know when she ate last - grab the baby, grab the itzbeen, leave mommy alone to catch a few more precious hours of sleep.

Boppy - Just fantastic for positioning Turtle for a feeding. I can plop her down on the pillow, get her latched on, and then angle her body just right so that it is a hands free meal. Then I can read, eat, comb my hair, fiddle around on the internet etc. I used a pillow while she was in the NICU and I always had to have a hand to support her position - not so convenient.

Rock 'n Play - She loves her rock n play. I love her rock n play. She was in it in our room for the first 8 weeks, and now she is in it in her nursery. When G-Gma babysits it gets carried out to the living room so she can put Turtle down. When she is ready for a nap she gets put down in it. When I made Christmas cookies it got dragged out to the kitchen so I could keep a paranoid new mommy eye on her. It folds up people! She is the least fussy when she goes in it, and it is inclined making it easier on her horking. Also the worry about mold? Have you not heard of the washing machine? You have to do laundry every other day anyway, just toss the rock 'n play fabric in too. I assumed this was common sense, like not leaving your baby in a Bumbo on top of a ladder.

Sleep Sheep - First of all, this thing is awesome. Second of all, the heartbeat noise is quite possibly the scariest sound ever and there is no way I could fall asleep to that, it sounds like it belongs in a friggin' horror movie. I prefer the ocean waves setting, thank you very much. It gets put on anytime she sleeps and it gets pushed again if she gets fussy well before her nighttime feeding range (like seriously 2 hours child, get thee back to sleep). My friend the sheep has helped her get to 6.5 hours between feedings at night consistently. And, it helps her get a solid nap in during the day instead of cat napping, which makes her overtired and pissed off. So, longer sleep for mommy at night and a non-pissed-off baby - yes.

Footed Sleepers - You know what babies/Turtle hates? Things that go over their head, especially if you hook an ear or it gets caught on a nose. Then you end up with a screaming baby while you try to wrangle arms in holes. So, in my opinion, the first couple of months are stressful enough without adding a troublesome clothing option. Footed sleepers - you lay baby on top of it, pop appendages in holes, and button/zip up. I prefer the buttons to the zips.You can change a diaper by just unbuttoning the bottom, but if you have a zipper you have to unzip the whole thing and risk loosey goosey arms popping out. Overall, footed sleepers are just the more practical and easier way to go. Save over-the-head clothing for after you find your new parent rhythm and are ready for new challenges, and if you want to take it up a notch try the kind with buttons around the neck that you forget about the next time you take it off and are extra confused as to why things are just not working.

FOR MOM:
1st & 2nd Month Baby Gear Favorites
Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads - I couldn't go without these at all, period. The leaking! My God! Don't leave home without these, or go to bed either - unless you want to wake up half covered in breast milk (along with your sheets). Motherhood...so glamorous.

Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier Bra - Because Turtle ended up in the NICU, I had to exclusively pump for the first week...every three hours around the clock. I didn't have this for the couple of days I was in the hospital, so I just had to sit there and hold the pump parts to my boobs for 15-20 minutes of boredom. When I got home I broke the hands free bra out and it was instantly my most favourite inanimate object ever. Your hands! They are free! For the internet surfing, or the book reading, or the food eating, or (when Turtle came home) the baby holding...hell you could pump while feeding your baby a bottle. Even now that I don't pump exclusively I still love this bra - another plus, you can zone out and not have to worry about losing suction if you move your hand position and not realize it until you have dribbled breast milk down your stomach soaking through both your shorts and underwear (hypothetically speaking of course...).

Lamaze Sleep Bra For Nursing - Do you want to sleep in underwire? I didn't think so. So much more comfortable than a regular bra. I wear mine all the time. 

Coffee - Pretty self-explanatory.

POSTPARTUM:
1st & 2nd Month Baby Gear Favorites

Dermoplast - Pain relieving spray. This made things much more pleasant. I also used the witch hazel pads and the little foaming thing, but meh the spray helped the most. Just say yes when the nurses ask you if you'd like something to help with the pain; my general rule throughout all of labor, delivery, and recovery.

Squirt bottle (lavette bottle) - Yeah, there was no way I was wiping anything down there for a couple of weeks.

Stool softener - Taking that first dump has to be the most dreaded of the postpartum lineup. Like, you know, I vividly remember the last time I pushed in that general area and it really kind of sucked balls so I'm not 100% sure I'm up for another round. Dulcolax? Yes, please! The only one of the three that the hospital doesn't send you home with, so no need to stock up on the first two.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Taste: The cake batter flavor is strong. The cookie is soft and chewy, and stays that way. Adding white chocolate takes it over the top, and the sprinkles make me happy.
Amount: I ended up with 3 dozen and 3.
Time: 20 minutes to make the dough, 1 hour + to chill the dough, 40-50 minutes to bake the cookies.
Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

I have a weakness for all things cake batter. In fact, I celebrated the confirmation of my pregnancy with a bowl of cake batter ice cream and since I ended up suffering from an ice cream aversion the rest of my pregnancy, it is a good thing I got my fix in before it was too late. I know that I am not alone in my enthusiasm for this delightful flavor, given the number of recipes devoted to it. This, however, is the first cake batter recipe I have tried, even though I have plenty saved in my favourites. These cake batter truffles look particularly alluring and are definitely next on my cake batter list. I should warn you (and myself...sternly) that these cookies are addictive, I've already had 5 for lunch. They call to me whenever I pass them on the kitchen table, beckoning me with their bright rainbow slivers and hidden white chocolate chunks - resistance is quite obviously futile. However, sending them out of the house to be enjoyable and enticing elsewhere works wonders, which you might want to keep in mind if you make them yourself.

So, the basic plan of action...

Mix the dry.
Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream the wet.
Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Add the dry to the wet and mix.
Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fold in the decorations.
Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chill. Preheat. Roll.
Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bake. Cool. Eat!
Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup yellow boxed cake mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chunks or chips (I happened to have a bar of white baking chocolate so I rough chopped it, but chips would work as well)
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles
Directions:
In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla, beating until combined. Stir in the flour mixture slowly until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, and sprinkles.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more (up to 4 days).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out a 1 1/2-inch ball of dough and shape into towers, as pictured above - taller than wider, a trick to keeping the cookies from thinning too much. If the dough gets too warm, pop it back in the refrigerator between batches. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to turn golden brown. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

New Baby In Town

Turtle in December.

Aria Finley in December

She spent a little over 7 days in the NICU. The only real concern was developing her lungs. She spent 3 or so days on the CPAP, which basically allowed her lungs to work a little less hard and helped the air sacs stay open. After that she lounged around under the bilirubin lights until her levels were back down to normal, and worked on increasing her feedings.

She got to come home on the 10th. Her stay in the NICU wasn't exactly desired, but since shit happens we couldn't have asked for a better experience. The two neonatal specialists were fantastic, they welcomed questions and were completely reassuring. It really meant a lot to us that they were both so positive and upbeat. Likewise, the nurses were a wealth of knowledge, and since neither of us had much baby experience they gave us lots of advice and hands on help.

Aria Finley in December

The first couple of weeks that turtle was home were the most exhausting of my life. I do not function well on no sleep, nope not even a little bit. The hubs had previously rearranged his schedule to take time off for a wedding - sure work a bunch of days in a row, I'm just going to be sitting around in my state of whaleness, it sounds like a solid plan. And then I went into labor a month early. So, it was just me and turtle figuring things out (like breastfeeding and how to not have a mental breakdown), baking goodies, wrapping presents, shipping packages, and sleeping in hour long snippets. It really was the best of times and the worst of times. On one hand, having turtle fall asleep curled up all tiny on my chest will always be the highlight of my life, but on the other hand, no sleep and flying poop.

After those few (endless) days, when the hubs went back to a normal work schedule with blessed days off life was much better. I had help, and I let myself relax and not stress over taking care of turtle. I like order and routine and symmetry and color-coded organization, so I had to force myself to chill the fuck out and go with the flow. Best advice I ever gave myself. I'd stress over things like how much is she eating, how much is she sleeping, my God this child hates bedtime. I was also worried she wasn't gaining weight because she had stalled right below her birth weight, and I really didn't want to be forced to supplement with formula (shit is expensive...boobs are free). Thankfully when she did start gaining weight it was with gusto and she flew by her birth weight. With that worry crossed off, I think it clicked that she was doing well and that she was healthy and that I could relax...and I hadn't even dropped her, which I was intensely paranoid about in the beginning.

I also started making up a bottle of pumped milk so hubs could give her the first feeding in the morning and I could get a solid chunk of sleep under my belt. An absolute lifesaver, plus what else was I going to do with my huge surplus of breastmilk that kept getting larger and larger in the freezer. It was like peeling back layers of terribleness: layer one, stop stressing so much; layer two, get a little more sleep; layer three, make it the fuck past Christmas. I was just reminiscing to hubs about how un-magical Christmas was this year and he was all like wahhh? it was totes* awesome with the baabeee. Sure turtle was totes awesome sleeping peacefully on Christmas morning and the fact of her existence, but getting Christmas gifts out was a hellish ordeal on top of giving birth and recovering and not sleeping. So I was just glad it was over. Sorry Christmas, I love you, but you sucked this year.

Aria Finley in December

*For the record, hubs doesn't say totes, that was just my mocking exasperation showing.