October 29, 2014

The Many Faces of Everett + Travel Tips?

The Many Faces of Everett + Travel Tips?
I really have tried to resist over-sharing baby pictures. Yet somehow I have turned into that monsterous baby-crazed lady, snapping 100+ photos a day of my child laying, playing, sleeping, screaming. I love them all. ALL. And yet I do feel sort of coo-coo for being that way. How did this happen? TO ME. I kind of can't believe it. I was never even a baby person. Not until Everett.

And oh my, Everett. He is full of personality. Has the strongest will. He is so funny and expressive. He gets bored way too easily. He doesn't just cry, he knows how to WAIL. He wants China to hear him. He really doesn't do anything half-heartedly. He is 100% present in all his feelings. And he has a lot of feelings. Like just now. He is feeling super annoyed that I put him down in his pack n' play to write this post. He's all like, "Lady, you think this mobile is entertaining? WHO DO YOU THINK I AM." And now he's crying. Translated from baby talk, that means he's hollering at me. Confession: I always hated it when other people's children would cry. It just sounded so irritating and distracting. And like, loud. However, when my baby cries, I just feel super bad for him. I find myself asking him over and over again, "What do you need? What can I do for you?!" - as if he will open his mouth and respond. Well, I guess he does respond. We just aren't speaking the same language quite yet. Although... we are getting there!

So I had to share a few of these wonderfully sweet photos of my babe-man from the past month. He cracks me up. It's okay if he doesn't crack you up, that's understandable. But you can humor me. BECAUSE I MADE HIM.
// He likes to keep a little extra in his neck roll. For later. //
// I mean... seriously? Middle left?! BOTTOM RIGHT!! My uterus just skipped like 6 beats. //

In other news, we are heading back to NYC for a quick trip in a few weeks. Any tips on how to fly with a baby, get around a big city with a baby in tow, and any special products to pack would be suuuuper appreciated! I'll admit that I am a little nervous to fly with him because he just isn't the kind of child who will sit quietly in the corner. NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER. (Sorry, couldn't leave that one unsaid.) But seriously, he is not a docile, sleep-everywhere-all-the-time kind of kid. So... yeah. Help please.

Are you ready for Halloween? I am trying so hard to convince Stevie to do a family-themed costume for the 3 of us. So far he is putting up all kinds of "NO" to my ideas. But we will see if that lasts :)

October 25, 2014

Picking Muscadines & Scuppernongs.

Picking Muscadines & Scuppernongs.
Whew! Happy weekend to you! Our weekend got off to a bit of a shaky start. My little Everett decided to turn his behavioral clock back to when he was a brand-newborn and wake up all through the night again. This has gone on for four nights in a row. Just when I thought we were on to something! Any new mom tips on getting your child to sleep through the night are much appreciated. ALSO. I wanted to thank all of you who gave such encouraging feedback on last weeks post about Mompetition. I'm astounded at how many people have felt that icky mom-judgement. But all your kind words, camaraderie and commitment to stop judging and start loving on other mamas really touched me. Let's keep it up! Every time we have a "judgy" thought about another mama, let's squash it and take the time to encourage her instead. It's the best thing we can do for each other!

Finally Fall!
I wanted to share a suuuuuper fun Autumn activity! A few weeks ago Stevie and I packed up Everett (in his fancy new Baby Gap outfit from his surrogate Auntie Natalie) and ventured out to pick muscadines in our hometown. I can't believe I never did this growing up! It was so invigorating to finally feel a chill in the air and actually experience the weather of the season. This fall has been so different in our household... instead of apple picking and devouring cider donuts (like we did when we lived in Boston), we've been up to our ears in swaddles, lullabies and trying to get our baby to take a bottle. It's just a whole new experience this fall. So while the hayrides and corn maizes will have to wait 'til next year, I couldn't bear going the whole season without heading out to a farm and picking something. Since all the good apple farms are at least two hours away (and that drive seems a bit daunting with our spirited newborn), the next best thing was picking muscadines. Literally right around the corner from our house.

I had a vague idea of what a muscadine was (a super thick-skinned spicy grape), but scuppernongs escaped me. What a funny word to say. Try to say it out loud. SCUPPERNONG. See? It's just so silly. Anyway, I was uber disappointed to learn that scuppernongs are just a lighter-colored muscadine. There is practically no difference. The disappointment lasted for about 6 seconds, because then I tasted one. They are so delicious. PEOPLE. Why do apples get all the good press in the fall? MUSCADINES ARE THE NEW APPLE. Now go pick you some.

// Ready to dive //
// Fruits of our labor //
// My little bear slept the whole time! //
// Those bubbles. Those paws. //
// Gotcha, mom!! //
// We stumbled across this beauty in the parking lot. My favorite part might be the photo bomber, though :) //
Happy Fall Weekend to You!
I hope you have the happiest, most fulfilling, adventurous AND restful weekend. Is it possible? Hmm I like to think so. Enjoy your Saturday!

October 20, 2014

TASTE: Pumpkin Beer Bread

Pumpkin Beer Bread. 
There's really no need for explanation here. I mean, does one need a reason to make something called Pumpkin Beer BREAD? Dear Lord Almighty, no. It's an autumn recipe necessity. It's the reason why I fall for FALL. When you have all the ingredients, you should just make this recipe over and over and over again. It's the happiest taste. And it will make you super popular with your people. I mean, my crew over here (AKA my parents and Stevie, who will eat practically anything) have nominated me queen of the pack, all due to my production of this breaded treat. And seriously, created by a mere 6 ingredients, this recipe is one of the easiest EVER. Make, enjoy, and let me know when you win popularity points, people.

- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 12-oz. bottle beer (I gleefully used Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale)
- 3 tbsp. melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3. Dump the bottle of beer into the dry ingredients. Combine until mixed into dough. Scoop dough into the loaf pan.

4. Melt butter in a small bowl (I did this in the microwave). Drizzle butter over top of the dough.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Once you remove from the oven, let cool for about 5 minutes before you slice.
Savor the Autumnal Flavor.
It's as easy as that! This is a great treat to pair with an autumn soup, like my Turkey Kale Chili, my Spicy Sausage Chili, or my extra-special seasonal favorite, Grandma Soup. I hope you enjoy!

October 15, 2014

Motherhood: Ending the Judgements, Competition & Shame.

Motherhood: Ending the Judgements, Competition & Shame.
I started to notice it when I was pregnant. The questions, "Where are you delivering?", "What kind of birth are you having?", and my extra-special favorite, "Where are you going to live? You're moving??! Why?" or even better, "You're moving in with your PARENTS? Seriously... why???" There just seemed to be so much speculation about my (and my husband's) personal choices. Everyone had an opinion. Friends, family, nice people, not-so-nice-people, old men on the street, other moms. Everyone had a very specific opinion and reasons backing up why they were right. Often accompanied by their harrowing personal stories that I didn't really care to hear. Long, drawn-out tales about why their idea/opinion/input really should be heavily considered. And followed blindly. Over whatever rubbish I was choosing to do.

It was a little jarring.

Little did I know, that was just the prep course for entering motherhood.

Motherhood is tricky business. No one really told me. Haaaa, that's not true. Pretty much everyone told me. I just didn't really understand how NOT JOKING serious this business would be. It is, by FAR, the hardest thing I have ever done. And no, I don't just mean the pushing-the-baby-out part (although that was no breakfast at Tiffany's.) Being a mom. I mean, wow. It's hard. I shall leave it at that. At least for today.

One really interesting fringe non-benefit of motherhood is the continuation of what I experienced during my pregnancy: the speculation of my choices. I am certainly not the only mother to experience this uncomfortable, obvious, verbal or non-verbal, passing-of-judgement by others. And I'll be honest, I have totally done it, too. Judged other people's choices. Other moms' choices. Yeah, I suck. But the thing is, we all have opinions and reasons for why we do what we do. But now I'm experiencing first hand how awkward and insecure it has made me feel, all while fumbling around, attempting to be the best mom I can be. I am obviously making mistakes left and right. But you know what? I love my son. And most every mom I know... they love their adorable little mini-me's, too. So why are we so hard on each other when the end goal is pretty much the same? To raise lovely, fiercely-loved little rock star babies. Or something like that.

I look around me, and there are debates about which is best when it comes to... pretty much every parenting subject.

Breastfeeding or formula-feeding?
Stay at home mom or working-outside-the-home mom?
Vaccinating or not vaccinating? Delaying? Running away scared from the pediatricians office?
Letting your baby cry it out or coming to their rescue at every whimper?
Co-sleeping or baby in the crib at two weeks?
Cloth diapers or disposables?
Daycare, nursery, nanny, grandmother, babysitter, random neighbor you've met twice... who will watch your child when you aren't with them?
When are you leaving said child with another person? Wait, you haven't done that yet?? Tsk tsk.

I could go on and on. But the dilemma is constant. These choices are really, really difficult to make. Have you ever heard of mompetition? I hadn't. But the sudden thrust into this experience has my head spinning - how can I gracefully transition into motherhood without feeling the slime of this maternal warfare? I'm sure the mommy wars don't end. I anticipate the lame debates to come: Public school or private school? Or home school? TV and video games or books and playing outside? Ugh I'll stop listing here. Because you get the picture.

The judgements, comparisons and unnecessary opinions must end. And I know that it starts with me. I have to stop believing that everyone is judging me and I have to STOP comparing myself and judging others. Reading this article made me laugh, and also really helped. Because after experiencing a mere 11 weeks of motherhood, I am dumbfounded at how spectacularly impressive mothers are. And you know what? New moms are trying to parent their child while juggling a conga line of colorful hormones, the shame of carrying stubborn "baby weight" that just won't seem to get lost, a smattering of emotions and anxiety and for some, even depression. These women don't need to hear opinions or feel silent judgement. They need affirmation and love, because they are spending endless days giving all of that love away to someone else.

You know what every mom needs to hear? You're a good mom. You're doing an awesome job. Way to go, sustaining that little human's life. I speak from the position of being a brand-spankin'-new mom, but I imagine that the future me would still need and want to hear those things. Because what we're doing is hard work. And the judgements, the comparisons... well, they are fruitless. They make zero difference. I am going to keep on parenting the way that feels natural for me and my family. And when I want advice and help, I already have my go-to people who I trust will set me straight. And that random mama that I don't know all that well isn't relying on my opinion of her, either. She's got enough on her mind, she doesn't need to deal with the social anxiety of my judgement passing before her. She needs me to love her and tell her she's doing an awesome job. That her instincts are amazing. And that her child is mega-blessed to have her looking out for them.

So I ask that you join me. Let's end this cycle of mom angst and celebrate the sisterhood we've entered into. Whether you're a new mom, a wondrously wizened mom, a single lady, or someone who detests the thought of ever producing spawn, your camaraderie makes a spectacular impact. When you have a judgmental thought about someone else, stop yourself. Take that judgement and slam dunk it into the little trash can inside your mind. And when you feel shamed by someone else for a choice you've made, remind yourself that she's probably just feeling motivated by that lousy mompetition. Instead of getting offended, immediately forgive her. Release her from your offense. Because you don't have the time or capacity to deal with the that odious frustration. Let's trade the practice of passing judgement on others' choices and start celebrating the sisterhood of motherhood. Because we need each other's affirmation.

To all you glorious, hardworking, endlessly loving mamas, I just want to tell you that YOU ROCK and you're doing a tremendous, sublime, stunning job. I salute you. Now hand that baby over to your man and go get a manicure. You've more than earned it.

October 6, 2014

A Picnicing Trio.

A Picnicing Trio.
Lately I've been feeling a little bit claustrophobic and cooped up. I have a newborn and we spend our days indoors, while I beg him to nap and he begs to differ. So when the weekends roll around, all I want to do is have FUN. And my definition of fun is getting redesigned, since there are only a handful of places that we can comfortably take our newborn child. Without getting glared at. I wish we were in a phase where would could easily tote our little babe along anywhere, but that's just not the case. Enter the perfect solution/afternoon plan: the picnic.

Ah, the picnic. A great American pastime. The darling weaved basket, the iconic food, the oh-so-slurpable wine. Picnicking is what adorable people do, like couples in endless love or families with golden retrievers and approximately 2.5 children (probably donning Land's End polos. Yes, the retriever, too.) Then it dawned on me. WE THREE SHOULD PICNIC. I mean, we live in Georgia again. There are lawns around here. We might not have a precious pup or an assortment of prepster gear, but we like to eat! We should be having some picnics.

// Lake McIntosh //
// What a babe. Both. //
// We thought we would read. The folly. //
// How bout them Braves, son. //
So last weekend we took off for our impromptu outdoor family date. And it was SO fun. We stopped by the fancy Fresh Market, treated ourselves to deli sandwiches and chips and some other tasty delights (that Fresh Market, my oh my, it's almost as decadent as walking through a Tiffany's.) We took our bounty out to a hill, overlooking Lake McIntosh in Peachtree City. Okay, we might have crashed a golf course and spread ourselves out on the lawn aplenty. But it had been a long time since I experienced such peace and joy. I breathed in the crisp air and held my baby close. Laughed at my awesome husband who has done everything in his power to make me happy. We ate and laughed and talked and played with our baby. And it was so so fun.

// Perfect view for feeding my little man. //
// Happy feet! //

We munched, Everett lunched, and we got to be OUT TOGETHER. As a family. Because we're a family now :)

Best of all? Everett could yelp until the cows came home and no one cared. Stupendous.