Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Drive Thru is Not an Option

It seems that most of my day revolves around food, which is nothing new.  I come from a long line of people who talk about lunch at breakfast, dinner at lunch time, and what you ate for lunch at dinner time.  I was raised on family dinners, which I hated at the time but now I totally get and am thankful for that time together.  I remember doing silly things at the dinner table when I was little like stuffing my entire cloth napkin into my mouth.  Even though Orion isn’t even 14 months old yet, we sit down to a family dinner 99% of the time.  This usually means I am feeding Orion or breaking up his food while my food gets cold but not always. 

Sometimes it is hard to find the time to cook or even to eat.  Breakfast used to be a part of my daily routine but now I often forget all about it.  I always remember to make coffee as it is the first thing on my agenda once I am up and the baby is changed and has nursed up his fill.  Then a few hours will go by and I remember that I should eat breakfast.  I put the baby in his high chair and pour him out some toasted oat cereal (generic cherrios) and fix myself a bowl of Puffins.  I used to enjoy oatmeal or smoothies but often have waited too long for breakfast and must eat now and quick.

It is nice always having a lunch date even if they do poop their pants and don’t know how to hold a spoon.  Orion will usually eat whatever I am eating or I give him yogurt which I do not like at all.  I have tried to eat yogurt a million times and a hundred different ways but I just don’t like it.  I was shocked when Orion liked yogurt but not cheddar cheese.  I was all like how can we be related. 

I wanted to make a list of quick and easy foods that I enjoy and some that Orion usually enjoys too. 

Barbara’s Puffins – I get the cinnamon flavor in an 18 oz. box at Trader Joe’s for $3.99.  Side note, buy your coffee at Trader Joe’s because it is cheaper for the fair trade and organic good stuff.

Beef Tamales – They come in a pack of 2 for $2.29 also from Trader Joe’s.  Orion will eat these with such gusto employing both hands.

Shepherd’s Pie – Also from Trader Joe’s but I can’t remember the price.  These take 10 minutes in the microwave, take forever to cool to eating temperature, will make a mess of the microwave so nuke on a microwave safe plate, but are delicious and only 6 grams of fat in the whole thing.  Sometimes I share but am usually feeding Orion while waiting for this to cook.

Toasted Sliced Almonds – TJ’s $2.49, they can be added to salads, pancakes, green beans, or eaten by the handful.

Dried Montmorency Cherries – TJ’s $3.69 and are so nice and tart.  I like to make a quick and easy salad with almonds, cherries, and chèvre.  Then I whip up a dressing of olive oil, balsamic, Dijon, and bitters.  Making your own dressing seems so fancy but is so easy.

Organic steam in bag Peas – I pick these up at Wegman’s and sometimes spice them up with goat cheese and paprika.  It is safe to assume that I put cheese on everything. My husband puts Hungarian paprika on everything.  

Perogies - Delicious pockets filled with goodness the whole family can love.  Follow the directions on the box and soak them in warm water for 4 minutes then pat dry and pan fry.  Serve with meat in tube form, fish, or more perogies.    

Eggs – I love eggs and will eat them for any meal and am glad for the million ways you can cook them.  Scrambled, omelets, egg salad, hard boiled with salt, deviled, or toad in the hole are always a quick and easy meal option.  I was raised on the incredible edible egg campaign and think that they truly are.  And I love duck eggs in the spring with asparagus.  I used to buy crack and snacks from Wawa and call it lunch but I also used to eat tuna fish plain out of the can and call that lunch. 

Pasta – This is self-explanatory, open box, boil, open jar, heat, and sprinkle on cheese.  Great additions are chick peas, cannellini beans, steamed veggies, even raw spinach.  Patrick makes a great smoked trout with kale and cannellini beans.

Coconut milk – Add it to pancakes for wonderful flavor and healthy fat or add to mashed sweet potato with a bit of lime.  There is so much you can do with its delicious creamy goodness you should always have a can on hand.

Canned tuna and salmon – I make sure to buy them both sustainably fished and only buy wild salmon.  Orion loves fish and will enjoy salmon salad with me but I like to add a bit of extra fennel pollen to mine.

Couscous – We all enjoy it and it takes 5 minutes and has a bunch of delicious flavors.  And never underestimate the power of rice and beans, they are cheap and easy with endless possibilities.

Grilled Cheese – Orion really enjoyed his first grilled cheese a few weeks ago.  Any sandwich falls into this category, where would most American be without the sandwich, sub, hero, hoagie, wrap, or Panini.  I thought it was silly when my aunt gave us a Panini press for our wedding shower until I used it as it is awesome.  I do eat a lot of PB&J’s and hope Orion doesn’t end up in a peanut free school. 

Really, I know I should cut out gluten like I did before getting pregnant but glutinous things are so yummy and so easy.  I also do not like substitute foods.  If I want bread I would rather eat wheat bread than gluten free bread made from water, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, potato starch, canola oil, egg whites, sugar, yeast, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder (sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, calcium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), cultured dextrose, ascorbic acid (ascorbic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, corn starch), and enzymes*.

We try to make something big on Sunday to last the week but that doesn’t always happen.  We often have soup or stock in the freezer which we can thaw and enjoy or use to make risotto.  Risotto can be intimidating but it really isn’t hard and you can use almost any liquid, it just takes a lot of stirring.  (Learn from the mistakes of my father in law, coffee does not make yummy risotto)  We also have a bone garden in the freezer which we use to make stock once we have depleted our supply.

Sometimes, I don’t even know how I make dinner.  Patrick comes home, everyone is tired, I have been wrestling the baby all day and I just want to take a nap.  Yet, I am drawn to the kitchen whipping something together while Patrick plays with the boy.  Not every night is a dinner masterpiece but it beats the hell out of drive through.  I have successfully avoided the drive thru for years (ok I did get a coconut donut from the Dunkin Donuts drive through a few months ago with a dollar I found on the ground but does that really count).  How do I avoid fast food?  Do not let it be an option under any circumstance.  Think about what it is made of, who might be making it, and the conditions they are working under.  I worked at McDonalds and know way too much to eat there.  The only time we eat fast food is when we are on a road trip and stuck on a highway or turnpike.  If you are heading out, plan ahead and try to bring a snack for yourself like nuts, an apple, or a PB&J and always bring a bottle of water.  Sometimes I forgot to bring my own but always manage to fill one for Orion and he does not like to share his sippy with me.

Keep dinner simple.  You really do not need a recipe with 20 ingredients and a shopping list the size of a newborn baby.  I was not much of cook when Patrick and I got together (tuna out of the can for lunch!).  Patrick was a great cook and I was great at washing the dishes.  There were a few occasions where I wanted to cook for him like the time I made pasta with broccoli and lemon chicken after he rode the MS 150 75.  When we moved to Virginia, he had a job and I didn't which left me to get dinner on the table.  It isn't always a delicious success but it is always a learning experience.  But sometimes you do need to call out for pizza or we grab a Peruvian chicken from up the road with a few sides like plantains and yucca. 

When I do get caught out and need to eat I prefer to eat at independently owned restaurants or Chipotle.  I love places that are transparent about where their food, especially meat, comes from, how it was raised, and what is in it.  I only allow myself 60$ a month for eating out and we budget 200$ for us to eat dinner out together.  Since we only allow a certain amount of money to be spent eating out, I want to make sure that every meal and every dollar matters.  How much money do you spend eating out?   

Friday, June 22, 2012


Orion has officially outgrown his exersaucer.  It is a very sad day for me because it was the best place to put him so I could get work done.  We do have a pack and play that is mostly used for toy storage. I can put him in it but he doesn't like it very much.  He will tolerate it until he has succeeded in tossing every toy out onto the floor but then he wants out.  Unless Yo Gabba Gabba is on during which he will stare at the TV and nom on the side rails.  He doesn't seem to mind watching his favorite show while standing up, makes it easier for him to dance.

He has also discovered a new skill, he can climb up on the couch.  He isn't walking yet, but is climbing on everything or at least trying to get a leg up. This behavior reminds me of Bran from Game of Thrones.  If Orion does decided to climb the walls of our castle he will not have far to fall as we, luckily, only have one story.  For as long as we have crawling, wobbly babies, I want to live in a one floor home.  It is so nice to not have to worry about steps and how to block them off.

At first Orion was climbing on our low black couch.  He would climb up then play with the blinds or bang on the window.  When the window is left open, the dogs realize that people are outside and will go barking mad because the world belongs to them and they have no right to be in it unless they pay tribute in the form of treats.  This couch was our old guest bed from Ikea which has been replaced with a real bona fide bed.  It folds out like something you may have slept on in middle school (we did not like our guests very much).  Patrick being the genius he is, unfolded the couch and set it up like a baby obstacle course.  You can crawl through or go around, play hide and seek, or stomp on the hard part to make a cool sound.  So it now lives unfolded and mostly set up as a fort these days.

His climbing has gotten better and can now climb up on our higher leather couch.   He climbs up on this couch then wants to climb up on the arm of the couch and give high fives to my favorite painting.  Then he tries to climb up the book shelf.  This means he cannot be left to roam freely unattended.  Unless the aforementioned Yo Gabba Gabba is on because he will stop whatever he is doing to stare at the screen and become a zombie.  He likes to dance along and we enjoy watching his zombified TV face.  If Orion is ever doing something and you want to distract him, you can ask him if he wants to read a story (he will usually crawl right over) or put on Yo Gabba Gabba.

I am jealous of the moms who have baby's that will nap in their cribs allowing mom to get stuff done.  Orion still naps on the boob 95% of the time.  This morning a miracle occurred and Orion napped in his crib.  I hope that this is a new trend because momma would like to get shit done like fold the laundry I washed 2 days ago.  Not to mention write more often which I currently have to do in the office this is in the back of the house.  I need to get a laptop so I can actually write and be in the same room with him.  In the past year I have gotten 2 different laptops and did not like either one and ended up selling them.  I am waiting for Microsoft to come out with their new tablets or until a Fujitsu Lifebook falls into my lap because I had one for over 5 years and loved it, spoiling me for any other laptop.  

Another new trick Orion learned this week was how to remove his diaper.  I put him in the pack and play, turned on YGG and took a shower.  When I came out 20 minutes later he was standing there naked.  Yes, I did leave him wearing just a diaper, a velcro one no less, so what did I expect to find.  At least he didn't turn the pack and play into a bathroom during my absence.  Good thing he is just so friggin' cute!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

When my father met Patrick for the first time

Bringing home a boyfriend to meet your father is always a big deal.  The first time Patrick met my father was Father’s Day 2004.  At the time, it never even crossed my mind that I would be married to Patrick within the next 16 months.  That day he was just a boyfriend, and not the first boyfriend I had introduced to my father but he was definitely the last.

This was their first Father's Day, taken right before Patrick had to head back home while we stayed in PA
That Father’s Day, we decided to go to the gun club and shoot pistols.  My dad was a decorated marksman and sharpshooter, a lifelong member of the NRA, and had tried out for the Olympics for shooting.  Did you know shooting is an Olympic sport?  I belonged to that gun club for the first 18 years of my life and was taught about gun safety from a very young age.  Patrick also grew up with a father who was a gun enthusiast.  I thought it would be perfect for them to meet over a shared interest.

My father was a very big man, about 6’6” with a good sized belly for most of his life.  He always had a beard except for that one time when he shaved his head and beard when I was in my 20’s and he looked really weird.  He could come off as intimidating but was really just a big teddy bear.  He was also armed which could have scared off any boyfriend but not Patrick.  Patrick hadn’t shot in a while so he was more nervous about that.  We set off for the club and shot some paper targets. Then Patrick and my dad got to talking about trap shooting.  We went back to my parent’s house and traded the pistols for rifles.

We both love to wear the baby.
If you do not know what trap shooting is, a clay disk is thrown into the air and you have to shot the moving target.  Think the Nintendo duck hunting game, duck hunt.  At the gun club, they have a metal box which houses a mechanical arm which will launch the disk into the air.  Dad went to take the lid off the box and the arm went off taking a big chunk of his finger with it.  I started screaming and freaking out, there was blood all over my dad’s nice button down dress shirt.  My dad told me to calm down and call 911.  I called them while scanning the surrounding grass for finger chunks.  My commotion drew the attention of a father with his young son who were at the nearby archery range.  They asked if there was anything they could do to help maybe get my dad something to drink.  Then they asked me if I needed something to drink.  

After my dad was injured he never cried and the strongest words he uttered were that it really “smarts”.  In no time the ambulance was there and they were checking out my dad’s finger.  I remember them asking my dad which hospital he wanted to go to and I was thinking that we did not call a taxi, we called an ambulance so take him to the nearest hospital for crying out loud.  I may have said something to that effect but it was 8 years ago so my memory is a bit blurry.

My dad told me to calm down and take the guns home.  My dad had priorities and his rifles sitting in his Lumina were not one of them.  So I drove that ridiculous minivan to my parent’s house crying most of the way with Patrick freaked out beside me.  I get home and put the guns away and the house phone was ringing and ringing.  I answered the phone, not sure why as I no longer lived there, but there was no answer.  I was full of attitude and screaming hello when a voice announced himself as so and so of the police.  They would not be taking my dad to a local hospital.  They would be air lifting him to the emergency room at the University of Pennsylvania.  He told us where we could meet the helicopter.

We got into Patrick’s car and set off for a golf course which used to have a pool where I spent some time in middle school.  They had since filled in the pool to make room for more golfing.  When we pulled up, there were police everywhere and they were trying to stop us from getting too close.  I jumped out of the car and started running for the helicopter yelling that my father was inside.  We were too late and watched as the helicopter took off.

The hospital was about a half hour away so we hit the highway and made great time.  When we arrived they said my father had not yet arrived.  I knew we made great time but how could we have out run a fucking helicopter.  Oh yes, I was so mad and freaking out and trying to get my mom on the phone.  My mother was a forced to be reckoned with and I really wanted to sic her on this stupid receptionist.  I remember there was a fish tank in the waiting room, my dad loved fish.  There also were a few gunshot wounds coming in and the place seemed jumping for Father’s Day.  

My mom and my aunt arrived and seeing them was a relief.  My mom being a nurse and having worked in the ER for years knew who to talk to and what questions to ask.  He had a heart attack and pace maker installed years before as well as being diabetic and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.  As he was on blood thinners, I was concerned about him losing too much blood.  She got to see him before I did and he was fine, cool as a cucumber.  The entire finger had not been severed but a large chunk was missing.  He would have to stay the night and might need future operations to attach nerves or ligaments.

My dad was a grin and bear guy and never got any other operations on his hand.  It did bother him for the remaining years of his life especially compounded with his arthritis.  I felt so horrible that my dad had to spend Father’s Day in the hospital and that Patrick met him under such insane circumstances.  I remember Patrick called his dad while we were waiting at the hospital.  Such craziness and it would not be the last crazy experiences we would have on an occasion which should have been much happier.  Part of me would not have been surprised if Patrick had slowly backed away from me with a it was really nice to meet you but I got to go wash my hair (which he has none).  

Family Fun Time!
As insane as it was it really exemplified how strong my father was and how supportive Patrick was and is to this day.  Patrick is my rock and without him I would not have made it through a flooded wedding location, the death of my mother or my health issues and eventual diagnosis of MS.  Without Patrick I would not have gotten my son, Orion.  But it was Orion who really got me through the death of my father.  Having Orion to hug, kiss, and cuddle was such a comfort after my father’ death but he also gave me strength.  I had to be strong for Orion and could not fall apart because that 6 week old baby needed me.  I also knew how much my father wanted this grandchild and how happy he had been to see him and hold him.

I hope Orion has 1/10 of my father’s strength.  I also hope he has the patience, compassion, love of reading, thirst for knowledge, sense of humor, and the culinary adventurousness that both my father and Patrick share.  Now that my father is gone, his best dad in the world crown gets passed to Patrick.  I think it fits his head rather well.  I am a very lucky girl to have such a wonderful husband who is truly a partner in raising our son.  I love seeing Orion get excited when his dad comes home from work.  Or seeing him sit on his father’s lap and read a book or watch TV together.  I look forward to seeing Patrick teach Orion to ride a bike and do all the many things they will do together.

Happy Father’s Day!

This was on our 6th wedding anniversary.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remembering my father

A year ago, my father drew his last breath.  I hate saying that he passed away but to say he died seems so harsh and blunt.  I remember my Facebook status that day was 4 little words with colossal meaning, “My Dad is dead”.  When I got the news around 11 pm, I was in bed holding an almost 6 week old Orion.  Was I nursing him, was he sleeping, was I sleeping?  I don’t remember, but he went in the bassinet and Patrick sat on the edge of the bed and told me that my dad was gone.  I cried, he held me, and he cried.  I remember calling my brother in Japan and being surprised by my calmness.

That day was a Sunday and we were going to make the trip up on Tuesday after my 6 week post pregnancy check up at the obstetrician’s office.  My Dad went into the hospital the previous Monday and on Friday they were talking about sending him to a rehab facility.  He had lung cancer and they just discovered stomach cancer, two primary locations.  Sunday they were talking about hospice.   My cousin called me and said I should get up there as soon as possible.  I couldn’t drop everything, I couldn’t go without Patrick and our dogs needed to be looked after and Orion was so little to be going into a hospital and I had my appointment.  No one knew he would be leaving us so quickly.

My last memory of my father was a phone call the day before he died.  I had made him a photo album of his grandchildren and our trip to Japan and mailed it to him so he could look through it during the long hours of chemotherapy.  When he went into the hospital, I had asked my aunt to pick it up from his apartment and take it to him.  When we talked on the phone, he said he didn’t want to look at it and didn’t want to leave it in his hospital room.   When he spoke, he sounded tired and weak.  He hadn’t been eating for most of the past week and I tried to encourage him to eat something, anything.  If everything tastes bad then it doesn’t really matter what you eat but you need to eat to be strong, to survive.  I remember being mad and frustrated and wanting to be there to force feed him and yell at him.  Was he giving up? 

The last time I saw my father, he had come down for a visit when Orion was 2 or 3 weeks old.  This was his second visit.  It had been a rough visit and there was one day when my Dad hardly got out of bed and did not even see Orion at all.  When he left, I was sitting in bed nursing the baby.  It must have been around 2 or 3 in the morning.   My Dad liked to do the 4 hour drive early in the morning before traffic when no one else was on the road.  Dad gave me a kiss and kissed Orion good bye.  If I had known that would be the last time I would see my father, maybe I would have put the baby down and hugged him forever.  My dad had such wonderful hugs.  Even though it is my last memory of seeing my father, it is a happy one.  He was not suffering.  He was happy and proud of me and his grandson.    

My dad had been after me to have a baby for a while.  He loved babies and his 2 grandkids lived half a world away.  I remember when we went to Japan, he had hoped we would find out I was pregnant during the trip.  But the opposite happened and I learned that buying tampons can be hard when you don’t read Japanese.  I ended up with the smallest tampons for the lightest flow.  Anyway, my dad was super excited when we told him I was pregnant.  At our baby shower in March, he looked good but a bit skinny. 

For months before Orion was born I was asking my dad when he would visit and how long he wanted to stay.  That he would have dibbs on the guestroom and that we had bought a nice new bed so he wouldn’t have to sleep on the air mattress.  He kept dragging his feet and I didn’t know why.  Six weeks before Orion was born, Dad told me he might have lung cancer and had been dealing with getting a diagnosis since January.  So I guess that was why he forgot my birthday?  He didn’t want to tell me because he didn’t want to worry me.  He also didn’t want me telling the rest of the family.  So why was he telling a very pregnant me now?

 I am glad he did tell me because I understood why he wasn’t making plans to come down.  I was scheduled for an induction so we knew when I would be going into the hospital.  That week I asked him when he would be coming down and he said he was waiting for test results.  Orion was born and my dad was not there.  During delivery I wanted my mom more than anything but she had been gone for close to 6 years. After Orion was born, I wanted my Dad to see this adorable baby boy.   My Dad was only 4 hours away and was missing the chance to hold his grandson at his smallest.  We got home from the hospital and again I asked him when he was coming.  He said he was still waiting for test results.  I told him that if it was cancer he would have to start chemo and then he really wouldn’t be able to travel.  He had seen my mom go through breast cancer so he had an idea as to what he could expect.

 After hearing that he would be waiting to come down yet again, I had a bit of a break down.  I called my mother’s sister and cried, trying to talk through tears.  I wanted my dad and was scared he might never meet my son.  She called my dad and gave him a good earful and he was on our doorstep the next morning.  His first visit was unannounced, we heard him outside around 6 am when Orion was a week old.  Dad felt silly for waiting so long to come down and stressing me out.  But there he was, holding my son and everything was better.

My Dad had been afraid to get in our way but we wanted him there and his great big gnarly hands to be there.  We didn’t expect him to cook, or clean, or change diapers.  His only job was to hold the baby which can be such a big help with a newborn.  It really was amazing to see my tiny little son in my father’s enormous hands.  I remember him telling me that as difficult as this time is that it really is the best. 

A few months after my Dad died, I got a call from his rheumatologist.  It was nice that she called to tell me how much she had enjoyed looking after my father.  She went on to tell me how excited he had been for the arrival of his newest grandbaby.  Apparently, he had been planning to stay with us for a few months after the baby arrived.  This was something I didn’t know and wish I hadn’t known because it didn’t happen and never would.

I had no parent left to tell me how old I was when I started teething, or how old I was when I weaned.  No parent left to tell me that my son looked just like me at that age.  Most people say Orion looks like Patrick but I can see myself in his face and see my brother in him too.  He would not have my parents spoiling him.  My dad would not be there to tell him ridiculous stories. My mom would not be knitting him hats and booties like she had for so many other babies.  Orion will never really know my parents but he will grow up hearing stories about them and seeing their photos.  

This past weekend, some of my family got together in my father’s memory.    I brought up a photo album I made after my mother died which was focused on my Dad’s side of the family.  I made it from the photos and scraps I found when I was cleaning out her room.  I also brought up a new photo album filled with pictures, papers, and scraps that we found when we cleaned out my dad’s apartment.  It is funny what people hold on to and what you can learn from those treasured photos and scraps of paper.  My favorite thing about these old bits of paper is seeing my parent’s handwriting. 

I found letters and postcards I had written my father as well as cards and arts and crafts from early childhood.  I found a police report from June 29, 1972 for my dad’s stolen 1968 Mustang.  There were gun permits with pictures of my father in his 20’s who I almost did not recognize.  Then there was a police property report which listed 13 quart bottles of beer, 8 Schmidts and 5 Ballentine.  It went on to say that my dad was slated with “corrupting morals of minors and illegal possession”.  It was from February 28, 1964 when my dad was almost 20 years old.  Then there was a letter from November 16, 1998 asking for this incident to be removed from his record.   

These were all things that I knew about my father.  Now they are safe and contained in a photo album so his grandchildren will be able to glimpse into his life.  I have told Patrick that if the house catches on fire, we get the dogs and baby out but we must also grab the photo albums.  We have a lot of photo albums, they are heavy and take up a lot of space but they are my most treasured possessions.  They are the history of my family that no longer exists.  The memory is alive within their bindings and I hope they will outlive me and be passed down to future generations.    

So today on my father’s death day, I remember him.  I can hear his voice in my head reading Annabell Lee to me.  Hear his laugh which he gave so freely.  I can see his gnarly hands and scruffy beard.  I remember him being my teddy bear when I was little.  I used to ride on his shoulders and use his bald spot as a bongo.  I remember when he taught me how to paint my nails, he painted his thumbnail pink.  Then we went grocery shopping and the cashier was amused by his big pink thumb.  We always made a game out of trying to make the cashier laugh.  I remember how worried he was went I was backpacking around Europe, alone, for 4 ½ months.  Today I ate onion pie and thought of him.  I will always be able to feel my father’s love and I have no doubt that he never questioned mine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Yes, I was that mom at the mommy & me showing of What to Expect When Your Expecting who was letting her baby crawl all over the theater.  Yes, I do know how dirty the floor of a movie theater is because I worked in a few movie theaters.  Also, I saw the knees of my baby’s jeans and how black and yucky there were which was no comparison to the grossness of his little red booties.  I did feel really dirty after the movie during my drive home and couldn’t wait to give the baby and myself a good scrubbing.

Do I regret letting my baby crawl wild over dirty, sticky, disgusting floors?  Not at all!  Orion did not get sick or eat anything off the dirty floor even though he did try.  He was able to crawl and play and I was able to watch the movie.  Orion is obsessed with steps right now and really wanted to crawl up and down the theater steps.  We have one step in the house which goes into the laundry room.  If he can get to that step, he will go down it then turn around, go up it, and repeat.  It was also nice that we knew a bunch of the moms & babies in the theater so he got to visit with some friends. 

Would I do it again?  Maybe not.  If Orion was an immobile baby who only slept and ate, sure I would be there.  I spent a lot of time chasing after him and at one point everything went a little black and I got a bit dizzy.  I guess my blood pressure had a sudden drop as I do have notoriously low blood pressure.  Orion seemed to have fun and slept for over an hour after the movie.  But he was really cranky and tired the rest of the day.  Not sure if it had anything to do with the movie or if he is going through something.  I got bedtime started an hour early, he was in his crib around 7 but woke up at 2.  He was in our bed until 6:30.  I tried to put him back in his crib at 4:30 but he wasn’t having it and wanted my arm as his pillow.

I do think it was great to be in a movie theater with my baby and not have to worry about him being too loud.  The theater was pretty full and there were a lot of strollers but it wasn’t crowded.  Many baby made noise but it never got out of control.  Orion liked to visit the moms who were sitting in the row in front of us and they did not mind.  I did try to prevent him from hitting them on the head which was mostly successful.  I also did not have to worry about flashing a nipple.  I no longer use a cover when I am nursing because Orion likes to use it as a flag and wave it around which distracts him from eating.  Also, it can get hot holding your baby and wearing a cover. 

How was the movie?  I really enjoyed the movie, I laughed and I almost cried.  They say you are emotional when you’re pregnant but I am way more emotional now than I ever was before baby.  I think they may have added some jello to my insides during my C-section.  This was not an action packed, hard to follow movie.  It did not have subtitles and the plot was pretty easy to follow and a bit predictable.  This is why it was a good movie to watch in the theater while chasing a baby.  I didn’t miss a thing and it was fun.  I loved the scenes with the Dad Pack and Elizabeth Banks was my favorite of the females leads.  I laughed out loud a few times and totally teared up during the (SPOIL ALERT) miscarriage scene and the adoption scene.  I would even watch it again on Netflix and force my husband to watch it with me. 

This is a monthly thing going down on the first Tuesdays of the month brought to you by and AMC theaters.  Find a theater near you that participates check Bring Your Baby Matinees.  Tickets are 10$ and I bought my own ticket so don’t start thinking I got fancy and that actually anyone reads this.  Just keep in mind that after the movie there will be a lot of woman wanting to get into the family restroom to change their babies dirty diaper.  Try to find one on the other side of the movie theater mega complex.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Caption This!

                                                  "Hey girl, come here often?"    
                                       Orion is 6 or 7 weeks old in this picture.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

On April 21st 2012, I participated in the Great Cloth Diaper Change along with 8,251 other people in 189 locations on 4 continents.  This event attempted to beat out last year’s Guinness World Record for the most simultaneous cloth diaper changes.  The record was set at 5,026 which we exceed by 3,225 more cloth diapered babies!  This event was held in 256 locations and 9,464 babies participated but not everyone qualified.  Makes me wonder how many will be at the next one, maybe 14,000 babies?

There were 45 people who participated in the event location I attended.  It was held at the NOVA Natural Child Birth Center in Chantilly, about 15 minutes from where I live without traffic.  I was very excited to be at this place which I had no clue existed.  I did some exploring around and fell in love with one of their birthing rooms.  It looked like it was out of an Ethan Allen catalog.   I could not believe they let women birth their babies in that gorgeous room.  It also has a big beautiful tub.  I plan to attend one of their Tuesday night open houses to talk with their midwives about having my next baby in that tub! 

When we checked in, I was given a brown paper swag bag filled with business cards, flyers, samples, a Milkin Cookie, a microfiber insert, and a cloth wipe.  I was not expecting such a thing, so score!  But some people got reusable green The Great Cloth Diaper Change bags and I was a bit green with envy.  I am way more likely to sport that bag then wear the green rubber The Great Cloth Diaper Change bracelet that came in my bag.  Next year I will have to sign up sooner, maybe that will increase my odds for scoring a sweet tote bag.

We arrived at The Change at 11:15 and Orion was asleep in the car which did not last long.   Doors opened at 11:15 and closed at 11:45.  This led me to believe that the change would take place at noon but it actually occurred at 12:30.  Orion and I took our seat around 11:45 in a small room with maybe 20 others moms with a second room next door which held another group of moms.  This left me sitting and waiting and thinking that any time now we would have to change some diapers.  I know Orion was getting a little impatient.  All he wants to do is crawl but it was too crowded and we didn’t know anyone.  If you have food, he will totally go for it and if you have a Sophie, he will try to take possession.  So we sat and waited and I attempted to distract him with a sippy cup and organic puffs. 

Thankfully, they had arranged for a Baby Signs instructor to come and teach us a few things.  She was great and really skilled at talking over the din of 20 odd babies.  I am glad I had picked that room to be in because the group in the adjoining room was not so lucky.  I actually knew the Baby signs instructor from a mom and baby group.  I think Orion was as happy as I was to see someone he knew.  When we all sang a few songs together, a hush fell over all the babies.  It was really incredible, every baby became quite, calm, and relaxed during the singing.  

I had hoped to make a few friends but didn’t have much luck.  I am not always the most outgoing person when it comes to new people in new places.  Add the attention needed to wrangle a baby and I have an even harder time.  I did meet a woman who had graduated from the same high school as I did but 20 years earlier.  He daughter lives in the same town which I now live and we are trying to hook up a play date.  What a small world! If my husband hadn’t been wearing his GoggleWorks, Reading, PA shirt I am sure we never would have met as that was the catalyst which sparked their conversation.

The event had a few vendors set up selling cloth diapers and their accessories but also jewelry, knitted items, Shaklee, and natural and organic body products and cleaners.  It was nice to see some local and female owned business.  The event also had free snacks and drinks which was pretty awesome.  Orion and I shared some zesty ranch veggie sticks which we both enjoyed.  I fed him the sticks while wearing him in our Becco carrier and we got crumbs all over us!     

I think if Orion was able to talk at the even he would have said that it was boring and made him fussy.  He liked the singing and the snacks but it was kinda like baby torture.  Orion does not like to get his diaper changed under normal conditions.  Being in a room with a bunch of other babies all in dirty diapers may have been a bit much for any of them to handle.  I think there needed to be a bit more entertainment for the babies and maybe a few ballons or something for them to look at instead of white walls and ceiling tiles.  It also would have been nice to have a bring your own toy designated baby play area. 

This was my first time participating and I did learn a few things about dealing with such an event.   So what did I learn?  Most moms who use cloth diapers are also into baby wearing, like me.  There are a few local mom owned businesses that I would like I check out in the future.  When you check in, ask when the change will occur.  If you are going to do this event, hang out on your feet until the last possible minute.  Bring some toys and snacks to occupy yourself and your baby.  If you don’t have someone leading you in song, be that person to get everyone singing.  Your babies and your sanity will thank you!

I am glad to have taken part in this event and hope that it does increase awareness of the cloth diaper option.  The event was attempting to set a world record but also in increase awareness about cloth diapering.  People need to know that cloth diapering is a wonderful option that is financially and environmentally friendly and nothing like the cloth diapers previous generations used. They also collected cloth diapers to be donated to needy families in my area which is really awesome. 

I think I would participate again especially now that I have learned a thing or two about how to navigate such an event.  I hope the next event takes place in one big room instead of being split up.  Since we were split into small rooms, my husband (and many others) were left hanging out in a hallway as they were not allowed in the room due to lack of space.  The husbands also had to take turns standing at the door to snap photos.  I hope there is some entertainment for the group next year.  I will also be sure to know what time the change will occur before I take my seat.     

Forward vs Rear Facing

Orion now rides forward facing which I know is controversial.   So why should a baby be rear facing?  I found the following information on 

•Rear-facing is safest for both adults and children, but especially for babies, who would face a greater risk of spinal cord injury in a front-facing carseat during a frontal crash.
•Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child's back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.
•Rear-facing carseats may not be quite as effective in a rear end crash, but severe frontal and frontal offset crashes are far more frequent and far more severe than severe rear end crashes.
•Rear-facing carseats are NOT a safety risk just because a child's legs are bent at the knees or because they can touch/kick the vehicle seat.
•Rear-facing as long as possible is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians, and can reduce injuries and deaths.   Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under.

Reading all this stuff does freak me out.  I think it is wonderful that we now have laws that children should be in car seats or boosters.  But there was a time when babies would just slide around on the back seat in a blanket or when they just sat on their mother’s lap.  People, kids, and babies survived.  I know Orion should be rear facing but with our car and our seat he can’t ride rear facing safely so he is forward facing.  Because it is safer!! I hope I don’t get hate mail over it.  I am not saying you should do what I do but do what is the safest thing for your child given your situation.  

You can read more information here and here.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

A review of my car seats

It was a sad day when I realized that Orion was outgoing his infant car seat.  My little baby was getting so big and the convenience of the infant car seat is hard to let go of.  You can pop the seat on your stroller or carry it into the house and keep the baby happily sleeping.  It was also really easy to install our ChiccoKey Fit seat plus I knew it was safe.    I miss my infant seat because Orion always wakes up when I get him out of his car seat.  You can often find us hanging out in the car in our driveway so Orion can finish his nap.  He only seems to be able to nap on me or in the car during the day but is great at sleeping in his crib at night. 

The convertible car seat is a whole different story.  It was hard to choose which one to buy and I spent a lot of time doing my homework.  I wanted something safe, easy to clean, and that used the latch system.  I also wanted to spend less than $175 because I knew we would eventually be buying a second car seat for our other car.  It is hard enough to get out the door, I did not want to have to worry about installing the car seat on top of everything else.  We ended up getting this Safety 1stComplete Air 65 Convertible Car Seat

I spotted this seat in a different color during an episode of Modern Family so I figured if it was good enough for a fake family on TV it had to be a decent seat.  I also made the mistake of watching the video on the Safety 1st website which reduce me to a blubbering mess.  Plus, our pack and play is made by Safety 1st and we love it!  The company is called Safety 1st so they must be putting safety first, right? 

I would have loved a Britax but they were out of my budget as they start at $199.99.  I did not want to cheap out on a car seat because I worried that a $55 car seat would not be safe enough.  I took a look at how much we could afford to spend and $175 was as high as we could afford to go per seat.  With my coupon, we spent about $150 so I was able to stay within my budget. 

Would I buy this seat all over again?  No and this is why.  It may sound silly but the removable cup holder really sucks.  It is cheap and flimsy.  The weight of a sippy cup will cause the cup holder to tilt and Orion won’t be able to reach the cup.  The straps on this seat are very hard to tighten and loosen.  At first I thought they might be catching on something or that they would slide with more ease after they were broken in a bit.  This has not happened and I have to wrestle the straps to make sure they are tight over Orion’s shoulders.  I do think this seat is safe but it is a hassle especially with a squirmy little one.

Another issue is that this seat isn’t so much convertible in our car.  Convertible means that it can be forward and rear facing.  We installed it as rear facing and a few weeks later had it inspected at a local car seat safety check event.  It was hosted by Baby Blossom in Reston.  Local police and car seat safety experts were on hand to ensure the safety and proper instillation of our car seat.  It was a great event and each car was checked out by 2 people because it is always nice to have an extra set of eyes checking things out.

Right away, the policeman saw our car seat said it was not installed properly.  The back of the car seat was touching the back of the driver’s seat.  This would cause all the impact in an accident to be absorbed by the car seat and our baby.  Now, this was not some small jelly bean car but a Scion XB.  I love my car and find it to be pretty roomy.  But there was no way for us to have this seat rear facing without driving with our knees under our chins.  The kindly policeman (I could not stop looking at his firearm) asked what Orion weighed (22 lbs), how long (28”) he was, and how old (10 months and 3 weeks).  He suggested that we turn the seat forward and assured us that he would be safe despite that new guidelines that babies be rear facing until 2 years old.  So Orion now rides forward facing which I know is controversial at his age.  My next blog post will talk about why babies should be rear facing but this one will focus on reviewing our car seats.

We are a two car family and until recently Orion was unable to ride in our second car.  We had a Smart Car because it gets great mileage and my husband spent a lot of time parking in DC.  This car is great at creating parking spots but will only accommodate 2 people.  Patrick had been obsessed with finding a new car that would be easy to park, get decent mileage, and fit a baby.  I suggested he test drive a Fiat and that is just what he ended up getting.  Next challenge was to find a car seat that would safely fit in our new tiny car.

We got the Evenflo Securekid 400 Booster Car Seat.  It was within out $175 budget and we spent around $125.00.  This seat is the next step in the progression of car seats.  It will become a booster seat using the car’s seat belt and will fit Orion to 100 lbs!  This seat makes me dislike the Safety 1st even more because the straps on the Evenflo are so very smooth they glide with ease, like a hot knife through butter.  Getting Orion in and out of this seat is a breeze.  The cup holders are also very solid, not like it matters much because Orion loves to throw his cup on the floor.  Having such a small car, it is very easy to retrieve the fallen cup.  I am very happy with this car seat!  I did not expect a company known for making bottles to make such a nice car seat.  

I did not know until recently that Babies R Us will let you try car seats out in your car prior to purchase.  You just give them your driver’s license and take the floor model you want to try out.  If you are shopping for a car seat, I highly recommend testing it out in your car before you buy.  It is way easier than getting it home and out of the box only to find that it won’t fit.

Please, please, please do not buy car seats on Craigslist or second hand.  You cannot be sure that these seats have not been involved in accidents or if they have been tampered with in some way.  Car seats also have expiration dates and should not be used beyond 4 years from the manufacture date.  If you know and trust the person selling the car seat and they can assure you that it has never been in an accident that is a different story. 

More than anything please drive safely whether you have kids in your car or not.  Drive the speed limit, this is for safety reasons but also for the sake of fuel economy.  Stay focused, do not text while driving or do your make up or attempt to retrieve a fallen sippy cup while in a moving car.  Try not to rush, leave yourself extra time when getting out of the house and stay calm while driving.  I know this is hard but speeding will only save you a few minutes and will stress you out regardless.  Be the better person, let people in when merging and stop for pedestrians to cross the street.

After we bought the convertible car seat, I totally dragged my feet on installing because I did not want to let go of the infant seat.  Do not be like I was, buy the seat when you are ready to use it then install it and move on.  That way, if you don't like it after using it a few times you might have a better chance of returning it depending on the return policy.  Do you have a car seat that you really liked or hated?  Please tells about your experience with car seats in the comments below.