Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Salmon Feast

This one is not really a recipe...think of more as a menu idea. I didn't do the cooking so I can't tell you exactly how it was done. I can tell you that it was highly delicious.

I'm fortunate to have a partner who LOVES to cook fantastic meals on his days off. It helps him relax and I can't complain (okay, I sometimes complain about the dishes, but I shouldn't. I've been trying not to.)

Sunday night he made salmon and asparagus. Easily one of my favorite meals. We haven't had salmon in a REALLY long time. It's not exactly local and we have a hard time justifying the purchase when it's so much more expensive here than it is back home.

Nonetheless, J. surprised me and came home from the grocery store Sunday morning with a wild caught salmon. And he even took L. with him to the store. Am I lucky or what? They had a good time. I did the dishes without someone unloading the dishwasher as fast as I load it. Definitely a win, win situation. Not that doing dishes is my idea of a fun morning home alone, but it was more enjoyable than the alternative and I listened to a book on CD.

Anyhow, back to dinner.

We had grilled salmon seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon.
Asparagus (not sure why I can't get this picture right side up...it's right side up everywhere else) seasoned with a little butter, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.
And grilled pineapple...thick slices put directly on the grill. Nothing added.
Definitely going to repeat the grilled pineapple on a frequent basis. It was soooo good.

L. enjoyed the meal. This was her first time eating salmon and she ate a lot of it. Every few bites she said, "mmmmmm, yummmmm, yummmm."

I have to admit, so did I.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

First Run

I used to run a lot but this morning I felt like I was running for the first time ever. I felt like I was starting over from scratch. I suppose I was. An injury, a baby, and a whole lot of time not running has made all the running I've done in my life irrelevant.

It still felt really, really good.

I'm starting small. This morning I did a one mile loop through the neighborhood. I tend to over do things (more on that later) and I'm trying to make sure I go slowly. I don't want any repeat injuries.

Thanks to an early birthday present from my parents (REALLY early) I was wearing a new sports bra and new shoes. Why is new stuff so motivating?

It was a beautiful morning--still early enough that it wasn't too hot. Lots of birds singing. A few cats watching the birds. I did some walking. I did some running. I got a stitch in my side (can't remember the last time that happened.)

I'm going out again tomorrow. I can't wait. I feel a little more like myself already.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Potty Training vs. Sleep Routine

Today I'm going to use the word poop a lot. I'm going to write about potty training. I'll have to look back through my posts. I can't remember if I've written about it before.

Here is the synopsis: We started using the potty around her first birthday. She HATED pooping in her diaper so we got her a potty chair. When she started pooping, we put her on the chair. She loved it. She stopped screaming while she pooped. We knew she peed first thing after waking up so we started putting her on the chair first thing in the morning. After a few days she peed in the potty. Once she knew the potty was the place to go we used it as much as possible.

I tried to do this with no pressure. Most mornings, L. would get up and pee in the morning and then she'd wear training pants (I ordered cloth ones online because they don't sell them in the stores and all the disposables are too big) until we'd had enough for the day (translation: until we'd miss enough times that I was sick of wet training pants and put a diaper on her.) We started teaching her the sign for potty. If we had to go to the bathroom, we took her along and she sat on her chair while we sat on ours. We put a little basket of books next to her potty so she'd sit on it long enough to do her business. We just tried to make it a really normal part of our daily routine.

Here we are at 19 months and she's doing great. She uses the potty at least twice a day at the very minimum (if we're not in the mood to try very hard) and on a good day as many as five or six times. Every now and then she goes into the bathroom by herself and pees in her potty. Once time she even took her diaper off and sat herself down to go. Once she got out of the bathtub because she had to pee. She peed in her potty and got back in the tub. She can do the sign for potty and she can say, "potty". She tells you when she's wet her diaper. She's only pooped in her diaper three times since last December.

I know we still have a ways to go but I feel like we're doing well. The main reason we're doing so well is that L. hates having a wet or soiled diaper. I'll take it. I don't want to make her go in a diaper if she doesn't want to.

But, as of late, that's been a challenge. We've had a few good nights sleep. She's still getting up before dawn but if I've been managing to get some good rest. Three nights ago I slept for 8.5 hours straight. It was amazing. Totally fabulous. I wanted it to happen over and over again. And of course it didn't.

The last two nights have been rough. Nap time the last few days have been horrible.

It goes something like this. L.'s tired, she nurses, I put her in her crib to nap and she starts crying. She says she has to go potty. I take her out and she goes potty. I put her back in the crib. She says she has to go potty. Repeat 10 times. Have tantrum.

Finally I just put the potty in the crib with her. That just pissed her off. Obviously she wanted out of the crib. She didn't want the potty and she was super angry that I'd called her bluff. She told me she didn't want it and tried to throw it out of the crib. I took it out and she said she had to go potty. When I was about to lose my mind, she lay down, rolled over and went to sleep.

So, that's nap time. Fun, right?

The night before last she woke up at 12:45am and said she had to go potty. I took her out, she went potty, I put her back in her crib and she fell asleep. Slept until morning.

Last night, same thing. I took her out, she sat on the potty but didn't go. I put her back in her crib and she started crying and saying she had to go potty. I told her no. She lay down and I thought she went back to sleep. Ten minutes later she cried and I found her standing in the crib trying to take her diaper off. She'd peed in her diaper. I felt like a bad mom because she really did need to go and I told her no. I put a clean diaper on her and we started over. [Insert the nap routine described above here.] An hour and fifteen minutes later, she went to sleep and slept until morning.

I was tired this morning. This afternoon I didn't even try putting her in her crib to nap. I dreaded the potential fighting and crying and tantrums. I waited for her to get so tired she wanted to sleep but she never got there. We went out to play with friends this afternoon without having taken a nap. She was fine. She slept in the car a little on the way home and fell asleep at 5:30pm. She woke up at 7pm and had some milk. I put a nighttime diaper and some PJ's on her and she fell asleep again.

We're definitely not on schedule today. We'll just have to see what happens tonight.

I've decided from this point forward I'm going to get her out once to use the potty. I want to trust her when she tells me she has to go (so much of the time she really does) but I don't want to let it get out of hand either. I'm going to let her get up once and then after that (whether she goes or not) she doesn't get to get out of the crib again. It's pretty apparent when I put the potty in the crib if she really wanted it or not.

And just because I know some of you are thinking this...I know, I know, it's really disgusting to put a potty in her crib. I sanitize it after every use. It's clean I promise. It wouldn't be in her crib otherwise and I don't think she'll ever actually use it while it's in there (she'll probably prove me wrong just because I wrote that.) I would never, EVER leave it in there with her unsupervised. I'm there the whole time. Obviously she could use it climb out (or she could throw it) and that would not be good. So, don't worry. I know it sounds disgusting but it's the only way I can think of to reconcile potty training and sleep routine when the child is obviously trying to manipulate her way out of bed. And she's tired. She needs to sleep. I need her to sleep.

That's it for now. I'll let you know how she does tonight. Cross your fingers she sleeps well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Who Am I Now?

Motherhood is one of those weird things that is both a profession and an identity. I suppose a lot of jobs are that way. I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to find the little bit of myself that isn't tied up in motherhood. I know that part of me is still the same person I was before, I just don't know where that part of me went.

I've been feeling like I don't know myself too well these days. I'm my husband's partner and I'm my daughter's mother and I stay at home. I'm a stay-at-home-mom. When I was working all I wanted to do was stay home. Now here I am with all the assumptions that go with that title and I'm a little uncomfortable. I'm not uncomfortable with being a wife or a mom. I definitely love both of those parts of my life. I love our little family. I love that I get to finger paint instead of sitting in an office all day. But I'm uncomfortable with the assumptions people make about me and my choice to stay home.

I feel like my whole life up to this point has become irrelevant. It's a bit like when I changed my last name. When I was single I didn't think I would change my last name if I got married. Then I got married and decided I wanted to change my name. I didn't make that decision because I felt like I had to. I wanted to do it because I knew it would mean a lot to J. He was really surprised that I wanted to change my name.

Long story short, it took me three years to change my name. By that time I had finished school and was working at a homeless shelter. At the shelter we used a computer system to keep track of all the clients accessing services and I had written thousands of logs since I'd started working there. My maiden name was on all of them. When I changed my name I assumed it would stay there and all the logs I wrote in the future would have my married name on them. Silly me. When they changed my name in the system it changed my name on everything. It was though it had always been that way. My former self never existed. It was a little creepy. When I changed my name on my driver's license I still had my old one proving I had a different name previously. Same with my social security card. This was different. I felt like I had been erased.

I don't for a second regret changing my name. It meant a lot to J. and I feel like it makes us a cohesive little family unit. I like that we all have the same last name. It was a good decision for me. But I know plenty of other woman who are amazing wives and partners who haven't changed their last names. It's not a good decision for everyone.

Just like staying home. It was a really good decision for me (even though I struggle sometimes) but it's not a good decision for everyone. I know women who work and love their jobs and love being mothers. And they're wonderful mothers. I also know that I won't stay home forever. I know that I will work again at some point.

But back to the part where I was talking about not knowing myself these days. I worked up until two days before we moved. I officially started my time as a stay-at-home-mom in a new city where no one knew anything about me. I was introduced as J.'s wife or L.'s mom. I still am. There is nothing wrong with this but I think it contributed to my feeling like I've lost myself. People found out I was a wife and a mom and that I stayed home and they didn't need to know anything else. That was all that was important about me.

With the change in location I stopped doing a lot of things I took for granted back home. We've been here almost a year and fewer than five people have asked me what I did before I started staying home with L. I was so surprised by the last person who asked I hardly knew how to answer. It's like everything I did before I stayed home no longer exists. It's like it was erased the moment I decided to stay home. I stay home with my daughter so I must have always stayed home...no matter that such a line of thinking is entirely irrational considering she's only 19 months old.

It's these assumptions that bother me. I hate that people can't hide their surprise if they find out I went to a good school or that I have a Masters degree. It's as if they think having a degree would prevent someone from wanting to stay home. Or they think women stay at home because they can't do anything else. Perhaps they think if I had other options I wouldn't stay home. That kind of pisses me off. It bothers me that these things bother me. I feel like I have enough self-esteem at this point in my life to not care what other people think.

I don't stay home because I think that's what a good mom does. I stay at home because I wanted to stay home and because we moved it worked out for me to do so. I wouldn't have had that choice if we hadn't moved. It wouldn't have mattered how depressed I felt while I was working.

Similarly, I don't bake bread because I think a good mom makes bread. I don't think baking bread makes me a better wife or a successful homemaker. I make bread because I like the way it makes the house smell and I like thick pieces of toast. I also want L. to appreciate things made from scratch. That's part of why I planted a garden. I want L. to grow up knowing that food doesn't come from a shelf at a store. I want her to understand that there are people, nature, and hard work involved. I know she's a little young to understand all that now, but I figure by the time she's old enough I'll have a basic idea what I'm doing in the garden. Right now she's learning that it's okay to get your hands dirty.

I'm not learning to sew because women should sew and men fix cars. I'm learning to sew because I want to make stuff. I find it really satisfying to make something myself. And if I'm really honest with myself, I'll admit that I want to make stuff I can't afford to buy. I want to make myself cute bags and skirts and little dresses for L. like the ones I drool over on Esty.

But that's definitely not the only reason.

I'm learning to sew because I enjoy it and I feel like it is a practical skill. I love the satisfaction of re-purposing material or repairing things we might have thrown out otherwise. So much is disposable now days. I want to create things that will be in our family for generations. L. has several sweaters that my grandmother made for me when I was a baby. She also has a little rocker and a table and chairs that were made for J. when he was a child. They are so special because they were made by hand with love and hard work. I know that sounds so cheesy but it's true. They've lasted a long time and still look like new. I want L. to appreciate the meaning behind the things we have in our lives. In a society that increasingly expects instant gratification, where you can go into a store a find what you need/want anytime of day or night, I want her to appreciate the process as much as the result. I want her to appreciate things that last.

I'm taking advantage of my time at home to do these things because I find them oddly satisfying and for all the reasons I've listed above. But I also have my limits. The last few weeks we've been buying bread and yogurt. We've been busy and making these things was not adding goodness to my days. It was stressing me out so I'm taking a break. When I feel like I have time, I'll find a new recipe and make a loaf of bread. In the meantime I've been making popsicles.

But what does this have to do with finding myself? I feel like I fell into motherhood and it has consumed me. I want to find that little bit of who I was before I became a mother because I think that is the key to finding fulfillment and not feeling depressed and anxious. Selfishly, I need to do something that is just for me. Taking a shower by myself doesn't count. Yes, it's good self-care but it's not fulfilling in the sense that my soul is satisfied when I'm done.

Being a mother does not automatically mean that I'm fulfilled as a human being. It is fulfilling yes, satisfying yes, challenging yes. But I'm still an individual. I was not consumed by my child when she was born. I admit that the majority of me was but there is still a little bit of me that wasn't. That's what I'm looking for. A few weeks ago J. told me I need to find something to do for myself (I think he can tell I've been a bit close to the edge these days). He said I wasn't allowed to say that sewing or baking are for me because he knows those don't satisfy me deep down and most of the time they're not really for me. I enjoy them but they don't make me feel fulfilled.

You'll notice I used the word selfish in there somewhere. I don't really think admitting that motherhood is not 100% fulfilling is selfish. I don't think doing something for myself is selfish. Because in the end, it's not just for me. By taking care of myself, by rediscovering my individuality, I am setting a good example for my daughter. I am teaching her boundaries and self care and how to be true to herself. I want her to understand that her happiness is not dependent on other people.

Once you are a mother it is pretty much impossible to separate yourself entirely from your children because what we do influences them in one way or another. They do become a part of our identity and that's okay. But boundaries are important too.

So I've been thinking and I've decided I'm going to start running again. I used to run a lot and I think it's a good place to start. I'm going to run by myself and not with the jogging stroller. When I was running regularly I was in the best place mentally and physically that I've ever been in my life. Even if it doesn't get me back to that place I remember, at least I'll have time to think about what else I can do to get there.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Activities: The Beach

I think it is safe to say our numero uno favorite summer activity is going to the beach. It ranks high among winter activities too. I love the beach. L. loves the beach. J. loves the beach. Our dog loves the beach. Everything is better as soon as I get to the beach. Especially since we're finally near a beach with warm water. It's revolutionized my beach-going ways.
Wading, swimming, chasing the waves, building sand castles, collecting empty shells and rocks in buckets (and dumping them out before coming home!), searching for sand dollars, counting jumping fish and flying pelicans, finding shells that look like butterflies, pouring sand and water on mom...the possibilities for beach activities are endless and they never get old.
I know not everyone has a beach nearby (I haven't always lived super close to one myself and definitely not one warm enough to prompt swimming) but I think I could safely replace beach with a river or lake if I were not close to the beach. It wouldn't be quite the same, but since there is still water and sand (or mud or clay) involved, you can still get your toes dirty.
Will you have a chance to dig your toes in the sand anytime soon?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sleeping and Teething

I've had so many thoughts in my head this last week I don't even know where to start.

I guess I'll start with sleeping. Starting over was a good idea. After a few rough nights we started making progress. The "new" plan (only I would get up with her, no nursing at night, staying in the crib all night, being REALLY consistent) seems to be working. The third night she only woke up once. The fourth night she woke up twice. The fifth night she slept until 4:45am before waking up for the first time.

The main problem with the "new" plan was trying to keep her in her bed until 7am. We'd decided on this time originally because the first two nights she didn't nurse she slept until 7:15am. I wanted to make sure she stayed in bed until approximately the same time each day so she didn't start waking up earlier and earlier to nurse.

But after the first few days she started waking up at 6:15am. Each morning I was able to get her to lay down a little longer but she wasn't going back to sleep. She'd ask to go potty and ask to nurse...it was a battle every morning to get her to a point (near 7am) where she wasn't crying and I could get her up for the day (I didn't want to take her out of the crib while she was crying because I didn't want to reinforce that crying would get her out.)

So, I gave up on that idea. Now L. gets up at 6:15am and we're all much happier for it. I'm still tired. I would prefer she sleep a little later but I'd rather not start our morning with screaming and crying. Now she gets up about 6:15am and goes potty and then we get in my bed to nurse and we start our day with relative peace.

But before you start thinking she's sleeping through the night every night with no problems, peeing on her potty every morning like clockwork, and snuggling up to nurse with a well rested mommy, let me assure you there are ALWAYS exceptions. Something always happens.

This last weekend it was teething. L. woke up at 4am on Sunday with a higher than normal temperature. I stripped her down to shorts, turned on the fan, gave her some Tylenol, and nursed her. The temp went down right away but resurfaced periodically throughout the next 36 hours. Nonetheless, she's been in a good mood during the day and we've spent a lot of time in the wading pool.

Despite her good mood, she hasn't been sleeping well, hasn't been eating well, and is drooling like crazy. I hardly blame her. I imagine I would probably be doing all of the above if I had two incisors and three molars cutting through my gums. Consequently, we've broken the routine a bit the last few days. I nursed her at 4am on Sunday morning. After she got up for the day she nursed so much so fast she immediately spit it back up all over me (something she hasn't done in a while). I was glad it was just milk. She woke up six times Sunday night and I was too exhausted to care that she fell back asleep in my bed and nursed (while sleeping) for two and a half hours Monday morning.

But this is why I think the "new" plan is working (I keep putting "new" in quotes because I feel like we've tried all this before but it's working this time.) We had a few days off schedule and we're doing okay. Yes, I'm still tired and I think it's going to take me a long time to feel caught up but last night she went to sleep fairly quickly and only woke up twice. Now that she's feeling a little better, the nights are getting better and back to normal (whatever that might be. In my head normal is feeling rested and not like I'm made of lead. I hope to feel that way someday.)

I'm trying really hard to focus on the positive. I'm enjoying that I can lay her down in her crib after our bedtime routine. I love that she drinks water out of her sippy cup (her "ba"), cuddles with her Snoedel, and talks to herself until she falls asleep. Yes, I might have to go in for a few more quick hugs but one month ago I was nursing, and rocking, and swaying for 45 minutes before she fell asleep and I started the process of laying her down in her crib...I feel like we've made progress. I love that on nights when she's not miserable and teething and feverish, she's sleeping for longer and longer periods of time. I love that I've had a few nights with as much as six hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I'm working on going to bed earlier myself so I can better enjoy the long stretches.

A little part of me is terrified that by writing this all down I've totally jinxed myself. But I don't really think so.

I think L. likes sleeping as much as I do. She just needs a little more practice.

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