Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm no great thinker

In fact, although I was a skeptic, I am noticing baby brain is a very real phenomenon. I could not think of the name Harry Connick Jr. for the life of me today! Why? I'm not sure. I used to think deep thoughts, now I ponder formula, pee, poo, and how can I get outside into the sunshine today. Not much else. I'm sure it's reflected here on my blog since I have no time to peruse the 'interwebs' in search of interesting tidbits to amuse you with these days. I bet you'd settle for baby pictures. Hm. I knew it! Everyone's a sucker for cuteness.

Cora had her 2 month checkup yesterday and was 8lb 8oz and 20 1/4 inches long. What a hoss!! She's only in the 10th percentile, but that is to be expected for a preemie. She also had to have her shots and we had her frenulum clipped so she could eat better. It was a rough day. Thank goodness for baby Tylenol!

And now for the cuteness:

Bathtime! (with modesty washcoth :) )

Napping with Papa at Gramma's house. (notice how there are rarely photos of 'napping with mama? That's cause I'm the picture taker around here)

Napping with Uncle Jessie in her Christmas sleeper (there's a lot of napping going on lately)

Being entertained by the graphics I made! Yay for photoshop to make stuff to entertain the baby! She's 2 months old in this picture and can't get enough of the changing table graphics.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas means carnage!

Remember that from Babe? I do. Christmas isn't like when I was a kid, it's crazy!

We decided that the Geek's family was close enough to visit without too much chaos and crying baby. We intended to rent a car, but due to new policies about having a credit card (and we have none) we weren't able to. So, with a prayer for the car and our safety we took off for Atlanta into a storm that we kept driving back into. We'd stop to feed the baby and the rain would stop, then we'd take off and catch up to the storm. I drove the first leg, slowly and nervously since I'm a little night blind and with rain added, it's only worse, then the Geek drove the second leg. We made it all in one piece and with only minimal poop, spit-up and crying baby in the car.

Then it was a whirlwind of family, food, feedings, fun, freaking out, and frazzled mamas (and other things that start with F, I'm sure.) I got most of my Christmas postcards addressed and in the mail. Cora was passed around enough to make even the happiest baby have a little meltdown from being handled too much. (All in all, she did ok, but we are recovering none the less and she has been grumpier than usual for the last couple of days.) I got to spend great time with my nieces and nephews, plus have good and connecting conversation with my sisters in law. The Geek read the Christmas story to me as I fed our little girl at midnight on Christmas day.

The Geek disappeared into the basement with his brothers for hours on end to play some game which involved a load of fiddly bits of cardboard, dice, and plastic men. Two days (not continuously) and into the wee hours of the night later, he came back to his mom's house tired and a little worse for wear, but had fun.

Worn out, we decided to head back a day early, but not before meeting with some friends for dinner. It was wonderful to catch up with Nick and Sarah, see how big their babies have gotten and have them oooo and aaah over how small ours is still. I forgot to take pictures. (sigh)

Now we are back home with our fuzzy children, still not tackling the laundry that we acquired while away and I am longing for leftovers! Merry Christmas to you all. Sorry I didn't get this posted sooner. If you think of it, pray for a job for the Geek soon. Severence won't last forever!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Better than Cookies...Homemade English Toffee

Believe it or not, this recipe is actually very quick. Once you know your way around candy making, it's quite enjoyable to whip up a batch of this stuff.

Here's the recipe I use which is actually a combination of several recipes I reviewed and tested. This is very simple, but comes out great every time, as long as I make it on a sunny day.

English Toffee

Things to know and things you'll need ahead of time:
  • You need a candy thermometer. Test it. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit so boil some water and check to make sure you thermometer is acurate. Mine is about 8 degrees off and I adjust when I cook. Temps listed are for actual temperature, not my adjusted one.
  • Candy making is FAST. Once the water boils out of the mix the temp will rise very quickly and you must keep an eye on the thermometer at all times. Burnt candy is nasty and unusable.
  • Make it on a sunny day. Candy making is about how much water is boiled out. Humid days make for questionable candy.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almonds or hazelnuts (optional)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp water
8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate - chopped up or in morstles

1. Prepare your pan. I use a large cookie sheet with edges or a jelly roll pan covered with parchment paper.
2. Melt butter, sugar, salt and water over a low heat until melted together. Stir constantly, but slowly with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula
3. Raise heat to medium. At 260 degrees you can add in the nuts. Stir constantly but slowly until mixture reaches hard crack stage (300-305 degrees)
4. Remove from heat before mixture gets to 320 degrees and add the vanilla. It will boil rapidly so stir it in and then pour it out onto the pan, using a silicone spatula to spread it around into a large rectangle.
5. Before it cools, use a pizza cutter to score it into long bars. This is optional!
6. Temper your chocolate by microwaving in a glass measuring cup for 30 seconds at a time until it begins to melt. It only has to reach 86 degrees so once it begins to melt, just stir it. The lumps will melt into the mix.
7. With a silicone spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee. Let it cool completely in the fridge. Break into pieces and enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookies for Christmas

I make these and they are gone in a day, so I thought I'd catch a photo while they are still around. This is all the holiday baking I can muster and it's gingerbread dough from a tube before anyone gets too excited. I can't get enough of this stuff! I bought all I could find and now will have to hit another store to find more so I can make some for neighbors. No icing, just raisins like Mama used to do.

I'm gonna miss this hair (favorite photos of recent weeks)

Snuggle with Mama

Naptime with Papa

Rock Star hair

Friday, December 19, 2008


My friend Mandy posted about how she felt quiet about this Christmas and I have to say, I feel the same way. I don't want to get presents. I don't want to give presents. I don't want Santa or hubbub, or shopping (although I'm still keen on the food). I just want to be with people I love and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

It's pretty concrete to have a little one in our house, and it brings new realism while thinking of Mary, giving birth in a stable and then the worries of keeping a little one warm and fed, far from her family, in a foreign country with a guy she was betrothed to and probably didn't know all that well. I live in a large warm house, my husband is here and loves us, we have food and friends and support and although the Geek got 'put in the resource pool' (ie laid off with severance pay for a few months) at work we still have it pretty great. My angel baby sleeps like a dream for a 2 week old (adjusted age)/7 week old baby. (In fact, she sleeps a little TOO much! I'm such a worry wart...)

The clouds are racing across the December sky today, giving me flashes of much needed sunshine and honestly, I am feeling much better. Still, how can I celebrate my Jesus? My life is still a flurry of 3 hour segments, but in the quiet moments when she's asleep, my heart asks that question. I'm still thinking on it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just say yesto drugs (a few notes about the day)

It's official. The 'baby blues' and 'winter blues' aka Seasonal Affective Disorder combined with sleep deprivation pack a wallop. My OB/Gyn put me on meds today to get me through the winter and I can't say I'm protesting. Plus apparently my thyroid is enlarged. Had to give a little red blood cell donation to figure out what's going on with that. The hits just keep on comin'! It's really hard not see my old bod as defective when they have to keep me on a cocktail of meds just to keep me going. But maybe that's just the postpartum depression talking.

Christmas is next week and I am trying to let go of the fact that we won't be unpacking the decorations this year. It's just the way it has to be with a new baby. Neither of us are up for a decorating spree. Instead I just enjoy other peoples pretty lights and spend snippets of time with friends, all the while enjoying the fact that gingerbread dough comes in a roll that I can make into fabulous and stress free cookies.

Alecia (a friend from church) came over and brought yummy lentil and cous cous soup. She also did my dishes! I swear it felt like a 20 lb weight every time I went into the kitchen. Thanks friend! Next I'll tackle the dust buffaloes that are tumbling around my kitchen floor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Death by 'shoulda'

Have you heard this? "Don't should yourself to death." I can very easily head that way. I'm the queen of shoulda coulda woulda.
  • I should be out and about by now. My friends with new babies are! What's wrong with me?
  • I should have a clean house. The dust buffaloes are scaring off company and making me crazy!
  • I should have decorated for Christmas by now. It's next week for crum's sake!
  • I shouldn't need people to bring me food by now (and the guilt for asking from a certain party isn't helping! Honestly)
  • It's noon and I haven't done anything. I should get up, get dressed and be productive.
I'm sitting here with my baby girl who is not going to sleep because of excess gas, reading a blog about a mom who has 4 kids (one of them a newborn) and is parenting, taking photos, blogging, cooking, and get this...knitting! All with children and life swirling about her. I can't even manage to get out of bed before 9am or make sure I have clean clothes! Much less cook or knit. Sheesh. SO the shoulds come in and I start to feel guilty.

Here's my prayer for today:
Help me be in the moment. Help me take each little smile and erp as a gift. So what if we have no 'baby's first christmas' ornament. So what if we don't do a tree this year. So what if I am in desperate need of a shower and haircut. So what if money is tight. I am where I am. It is where I am supposed to be! Help me find joy in the moment and not should myself to death.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Grieving for nursing

After nearly 6 weeks, I am approaching the time when I will have to give up attempting to nurse my baby girl. My body is not on board with this project and I just cannot make milk. I've tried every method, every doctor and lactation nurse's advice, every medicine, every herb, every machine (pumps) there is and nothing worked, or if it worked, it brought disastrous other results that made me have to abandon that course of action (Reglan - severe depression, or Mother's Milk Tea - caused my blood pressure medicine to not work).

As much as I have hated breastfeeding at times, like when I was so tired from trying to heal from surgery and wanted to give up, it breaks my heart to actually have to give it up. Until now there was always one other option to try, one more drug, one more method. Now there is nothing. I am using a supplemental system to 'nurse' her, but really she's mostly living on formula. Soon she will outgrow the bottles that fit onto the system and I'll have to give her bigger bottles, but not ones that are attached to me. We can pretend for awhile longer and have sweet bonding times at all hours of the night and day, but soon, too soon, I'll have to surrender this too. I still have some grief over missing so much of her first hours, not actually getting to 'birth' her, just basically have her removed from my body and a few other things. I never thought that this would be something that would never happen. I come from a family of champion nursers!

As long as I am on my blood pressure medicine, the dopamine and prolactin (milk making hormone) will continue to compete and the medicine that raises my dopamine level to control my blood pressure will always win out over the prolactin. I have beat myself up for this since I'm pretty sure my hypertension is weight related and I have yet to make choices to fix that. It could be just how my body is, but it could be just one more consequence of my lifestyle. I'm not in shame about that, but still there is sadness there.

There is no more to say. No magic pill that will fix it. I have cried over it, asked for healing, asked for grace for this one thing, but the answer and the blessing I get is having her. Alive and in my arms. Not just as I would want it, but still here. So I grieve for the things that will never happen and I enjoy the last sweet times with my daughter in my arms like this.

This is not a video of me nursing, just a little clip of Cora, awake and alert just after we finish nursing. (AT 12:45 am!)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's my due date!

And she's already here. 5 weeks old today. I can't believe that much time has passed. We went to an LLL meeting today and attempted to get to Target, but halfway there realized that we are not ready for this kind of outing on our own. Hooray for online shopping! Even diapers! I may think I'm physically ready, but her ability to eat while we are out is very not relaxed and a frantic baby is not fun, so we'll reign in my exuberance and keep it close to home for a few more weeks.

My computer charger chord broke so I'm borrowing one of the Geek's spare 'puters. I miss mine! Ah well. No new photos for now.

I have a whole new respect for parents that I never had before. I just never knew how hard it was. I stare in wonder at people who have more than one, amazed that the children are all alive, fed and happy and that the parents have not ripped all of their hair out! They look normal! How do they do it?

Ooop. I hear fussing. I'm off!
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